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    Moderated By: Maxxwire
    Forum:  Amp/Receiver/Speakers/Connections/Cables
    Post Reply in Topic: 21st century sound quailty of home audio. Why isn't better?
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    Topic Review
    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-04 19:14   
    Sterling1_Interesting ideas. I agree about MCH music's potential. I thought that MCH SACD would deliver a better and more realistic soundstage. And at it's best it does that. For me I found MCH SACD difficult to get right. Not to mention expensive because of the need for the same full range speakers at all positions. Just too much of a hassle for me given there just wasn't enough software to suit me.

    I don't know how the DSP formats really work or their limitations. I'm thinking that to do what you suggest properly every instrument would need it's own mic. Like I said I don't know if that would be necessary as I don't know how it really works. I've read and seen pics where people are experimenting with complex and sizeable arrays to at least come close to what you're suggesting. It's possible that soon someone will accomplish it._mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-12-04 19:17 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-20 20:29   
    I had to do the same with my K90EDs. My fronts are on some platforms I put together myself. I did a lot of experimenting with tilt, speaker height, and different platform structures. I finally settled on replacing the speaker's spikes with BDR cones. These in turn rest on Bright Star Big Foot sand boxes (purchased used from Audiogon) which are decoupled with Isolpads to four black granite tiles (that I was able to get for free from a local company). My surrounds are tilted back using the adjustments Sony made possible with the included spikes. It seems they knew that tilt adjustments may be needed to get the best out of the K90EDs. Nice touch for such an inexpensive speaker.

    I've mentioned that system with the poor setup before. Some gorgeous looking MBL gear. But not even that uber-expensive stuff could possibly hope to overcome the horrendous speaker placement. All I could think of was how nice it must be to able to afford that kind of gear and not give a damn about how good it sounds._mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-09-20 20:31 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-26 22:52   
    Maxx_Thanks for the speaker info! I wasn't aware of the specifics. But it does coincide with some of what I've been saying. Sometimes great inventions happen by accident.


    I too like to wring out every last drop from my gear before I move on. I've done that with my K90EDs short of sending them out to be modded by someone like Danny Ritchie of GR Research. And have I ever run that one around in my head. Especially considering the costs of an upgrade. All of the speakers I would really want for life were just SOOO expensive. Even on the used market they were really out of my reach. I was afraid that modding the K90s would only be a stop gap as I would still want something more to be happy with. I'm always reminded of something I read by a reviewer. He said that reviewers always talk about products being something they can live with. He said that he felt that one's attitude toward selecting audio gear should be the same as to selecting a wife. It's not if you can live with it but is it something you want to live with. I look at it a little different: it's not if I can, or even want to live with it, but will I be happy living with it. I've discovered that what you might want to live with isn't always something you can be happy living with. Yep that's a shot at some of my ex girlfriends. Not to mention an ex wife
    .

      I give ALOT of consideration to system changes/upgrades because I'm FAR from rich. So I have to be careful. But in the end it works out as I'm sure it's not a wasteful move and that it'll be a significant improvement. I'm truly confident that I've found a speaker that I can be happy living with it that's within my reach financially. It's not easily within my reach and will take sacrifice but I think I can do it. If I do I'm sure it'll take my system to a new level and let me take full advantage of 21st century computer audio. And that's something that I'll be very happy with._mykl  

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-09-26 23:04 ]

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-10-30 05:19 ]

    jttar
    Sony Master
    Joined: Feb 28, 2003
    Posts: 9228
    From: Chicago,IL, USA
     Posted: 2011-06-29 21:24   

    On 2011-06-28 23:21, Maxxwire wrote:

    On 2011-06-28 22:42, jttar wrote:

    Once you can recreate a live performance what else can you hope to hear.

    Joe



    There are incredible details from all of the instruments as only each of the Musicians could possibly hear individually. There is also a Harmonic Structure that is so perfectly presented that no live Music venue could ever be set up in a way that everyone in the audience could hear and enjoy at the same time, but with a well set up and precision powered Stereo System in a well treated room one can enjoy a recorded performance in a much more intimate and meaningful way than from any seat in the concert hall.

    ~Maxx~



    Maxx,

    Having heard live music from on the stage and from the audiance I am more than aware of the musicians perspective of detail and "harmonic structure".

    Try not thinking rock concert at a "live music venue" but more along the lines of a recording studio with a chamber quartet or a single classical guitar live performance. I repeat, once you can recreate that with a "well set up and precision powered stereo system in a well treated room", what else can you hope to hear.

    Joe

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-06-28 14:05   
        Video technology has made so many advancements in the last 10-15yrs that it makes me feel like such an anachronism. HD, 3D, BluRay, flat screens, streaming, wireless and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Yet it seems to me audio is lagging far behind in technology and perhaps more importantly sound quality. IMO with the exceptions of source media (the disc etc.) and DSP (which IMO is mostly geared to enhancing the video experience) audio tech and SQ hasn't advanced very far in the last 40+yrs.

       Many audiophiles choose to go with tubes and vinyl feeling that it sounds better than today's tech. Most amplifier and speaker designs are essentially the same as those from the '70s. Sure there are improvements in the quality of materials and design of some parts yet still high quality products in these areas from the '70s can more than hold their own against today's units. There's no question that my viewing experience today is light years ahead of what it was in 1980. No comparison what so ever! Try to convince and get a videophile to use the same units and tech from 1980 because his viewing experience will be better than what he can have today.LOL. But the truth is a high quality stereo system from the same time period will stand up quite well against today's. When it comes to recreating the live experience video has come so far in the last decade or so, yet music reproduction is at best is only slightly better than 30yrs ago. There are many using vintage amplifiers, some from the '70s, not just for nostalgia but because they still sound great compared to today's. Heck Klipsch has been making the same speaker model (with some parts upgrades) for 60+yrs and it still sells well. I think that speaks volumes as to the SQ of today's home audio. What I wonder about is why? Any opinions?

          Maybe my opinion is askewed. Maybe there's stuff out there I'm unaware of and I'm uniformed and ignorant of the audio tech of today and it's resultant SQ. If so please educate me. I would love to know your opinions on the state of SQ of today's audio._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-06-28 17:35   

    On 2011-06-28 14:05, mykyll2727 wrote:



    Many audiophiles choose to go with tubes and vinyl feeling that it sounds better than today's tech. Most amplifier and speaker designs are essentially the same as those from the '70s. Sure there are improvements in the quality of materials and design of some parts yet still high quality products in these areas from the '70s can more than hold their own against today's units.



    You have a very valid point and as for myself in seeking a better sound quality I migrated from Solid State to a Tube-FET Preamp and Vacuum Tube Power Amp...



    To my ears this vintage GE 6CA7 Vacuum Tube powered clasic Ultralinear Conrad-Johnson Power Amp and its 7308 Amperex PQ Tube/FET Counterpoint Preamp sounds much better than any of the Solid State Preamp/Amp combos costing 10X as much that I have ever heard down at the Audio Shop.

    That said, over the last 30+ years I have discovered that the ultimate difference in sound quality is not the type of Amplification, but rather in the quality of the AC Power that any type of Audio equipment is using.

    This was proved out in my Audio System over a 7 month period when my $600 1999 Sony DB 930 Receiver which never sounded anywhere close to the excellent sound quality of the $25,000 Vacuum Tube Reference Audio System until the DB 930 had its AC Power Delivery System upgraded with among other improvements a high quality Pure Copper Outlet and a Single Crystal Copper power cord with a Rhodium Plated Pure Copper Bladed AC Plug.

    After becoming disappointed with the sound quality of Solid State equipment and building a classic Ultralinear Vacuum Tube Audio System that sounded much better and then having a non-ES Sony Receiver achieve levels of Sound Quality that are an entire order of magnitude better than either the Solid State or Vacuum Tube powered Audio gear I must conclude that the quality of the AC Power Delivery is the primary determining factor in obtaining the very highest sound quality from any type of Audio equipment.

    Based on the results of these experiences I am of the opinion that the quality of Audio gear has not improved over the last 40 years because most people and even Hi-End Audio shops are still using the same compromised  quality of AC Power Delivery that they always have been using over the decades and therefore the Audio gear they use is still operating under the same set of limitations like this $100,000 McIntosh Reference Audio System using $700 power cords with $15 AC Plugs all accessing AC Power from a System shared Power Strip...



    Not even the fine $5,500 Pagoda Equipment Rack can bring back the damage done by a poor quality AC Delivery Network.

    ~Maxx~

      


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974! [IMG]http://i468.photobucket.com/albums/rr44/Maxxwire_Photos/AQ/N.png[/IMG] [url=http://www.agoraquest.com/viewtopic.php?topic=26561&forum=51&start=540&select_page_number=37]The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930[/url]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-06-28 18:00   
     Maxx_I'm totally convinced that the quality of the AC will have a great effect on the performance of all AV equipment. The thing is running off the same quality AC today's video shames yesterday's. This just doesn't seem to be the case of audio. Indeed running a modest system on great AC might well take it's performance beyond that of a "great" system running on poor AC one of yesterday's systems running on the same quality AC as one of today's systems will still be in contention AFA SQ. I'm just wondering why there hasn't been a quantum leap in the tech and SQ of today's audio as opposed to yesterday's. Why, AC being equal, isn't the SQ of today's equipment so vastly superior to that of the equipment of 30-40yrs ago that noone in their right mind wouldn't find it better and that the ownership of vintage audio tech would be solely for nostalgic/collectible reasons. Not for close, or to some even better, audio performance._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-06-28 18:12   
    Maxx _I know Audio Alchemy has gone OOB ( moved onto Alchemy2, which I'm only aware of  making a few devices to correct lipsync errors) but I was wondering what products of theirs are you using and their purposes._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-06-28 18:45   

    On 2011-06-28 18:00, mykyll2727 wrote:
    Maxx_I'm totally convinced that the quality of the AC will have a great effect on the performance of all AV equipment. The thing is running off the same quality AC today's video shames yesterday's. This just doesn't seem to be the case of audio.



    Let's go back to what Mike VansEvers had to say about how Audio playback is different than Video or any other kind of playback in how it uses AC Power...

    "For example: A bass drum hit will draw more bass energy from the wall than a cymbal crash, and a cymbal crash will draw more treble energy from the wall than a bass drum hit.

    Power cords define the energy that is radiated into a listening room: The sound we all hear.


    This is because all audio output signals, especially those of power amps, are produced when an input signal modulates the energy drawn from the parallel combination of the wall and the components' power supply."

    One of the reasons that I know Mike VansEvers is correct about the importance of the preservation of the frequency spectrum in the supply of AC Power that the Audio equipment modulates into the Music we hear is that while I have been able to get Order of Magnitude improvements literally 10X better Audio playback from improving the quality of the wiring in the AC Power delivery I have never been able to get more than a comparatively slight improvement in terms of Video Quality. If Video Quality was as degraded by the quality of AC Power Delivery as Sound Quality is you would see a corresponding degradation when comparing it to other Video formats.

    As Mike VansEvers pointed out "Power cords define the energy that is radiated into a listening room: The sound we all hear" and improving their quality will improve the quality of the Music we hear, but the same improvements will by comparison do little for Video quality which explains why Video quality is not degraded by or limited in the same way as Sound Quality is by compromised AC Power delivery because Audio equipment requires an undisturbed and undistorted frequency spectrum in the AC Power to modulate into the very best sounding Music while Video is under no such requirement.

    ~Maxx~





      


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974! [IMG]http://i468.photobucket.com/albums/rr44/Maxxwire_Photos/AQ/N.png[/IMG] [url=http://www.agoraquest.com/viewtopic.php?topic=26561&forum=51&start=540&select_page_number=37]The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930[/url]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-06-28 19:20   

    On 2011-06-28 18:12, mykyll2727 wrote:
    Maxx _I know Audio Alchemy has gone OOB but I was wondering what products of theirs are you using and their purposes._mykl



    The main processing unit is the Audio Alchemy Pro 32 which uses the RAL .99999 Fine Silver power umbilical to its dedicated 3 Amp Power Supply which produces a 5 picosecond jitter signal over I2S Bus which is 800% lower jitter than the 40 picosecond output of iLink.

    The shocking truth of how effective enhanced AC Power Delivery can be is that the 24/96 output of my computer's Realtek sound card over Fused Silica Glass Toslink to my Sony DB 930 now sounds sounds at least 10 times better than than the 5 piece I2S Audio Alchemy Digital front end. That is how incredibly effective applying the AC Power Principals can be in terms of Sound Quality.

    ~Maxx~


    Sony H-9 MaxxPix  

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-06-28 19:41   
    Maxx_Understood. But that still doesn't address what I'm curious about. While AC quality has a greater impact on audio than video today's video is vastly superior to that of yesterday irrespective of AC quality. It's just far better and while things may be done to degrade it, all things being equal, it's just simply much, much better.


      That doesn't seem to be true of audio. Yes AC quality can improve the performance of a specfic audio piece's performance regardless of vintage, but when one levels the playing field with regard to AC quality why isn't today's audio SQ simply far better than that of decades past? Why hasn't there been a quantum improvement in audio SQ on the level of video? My questioning isn't with regard to improving the SQ of an existing piece or pieces by RT, AC line quality (Your fantastic threads on AC explain and prove that), etc. but rather why doesn't today's units far outperform that of yesterday's when all things, such as AC quality, are equal?_mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-06-28 19:48   
    Maxx_So is the Pro 32 a DAC or essentally an upscaler?_mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-06-28 19:55   

    On 2011-06-28 19:41, mykyll2727 wrote:
    Why doesn't today's units far outperform that of yesterday's when all things, such as AC quality, are equal?_mykl



    For the same reason that all Audio Systems with blankets over the speakers sound about the same. Take away the horribly degrading effects of commonly accessed AC power and you will be able to hear how all Audio equipment truly sounds without the Sound Quality ceiling that poor AC Power establishes.

    ~Maxx~


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974! [IMG]http://i468.photobucket.com/albums/rr44/Maxxwire_Photos/AQ/N.png[/IMG] [url=http://www.agoraquest.com/viewtopic.php?topic=26561&forum=51&start=540&select_page_number=37]The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930[/url]

    dahrich
    Sonyphile
    Joined: Mar 28, 2003
    Posts: 771
    From: California
     Posted: 2011-06-28 20:00   
    Hello:
    I think the issue here is not the trees but the forest.
    The geneal population can readily desceren visual changes and improvements and is willing to pay for them.  HD for ex. Audio has made great changes but not necessarily in SQ. Consider the Sony Walkman and today's iPod.  The mass market wants small and or portable devices where SQ is not important. Consequently, where does the industry focus?

    The audiophile market has to be a small one.

    Regards,
    Richard

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-06-28 20:04   
    My question to the members is this_Why do you think that the sound quality of today's audio gear given design, construction, technology isn't FAR superior in comparison to that of decades old audio gear on a level with that of video performance improvements? In the opinion of many some of today's audio tech actually sounds inferior to the "old stuff". Why do you think that is? Was audio tech in say the '70s so far advanced over that of video and so advanced in general that all we can do today is "tweak" decades old technology to create at best only minorly better, and in the opinions of some not even as good, sounding audio?What do you think?_mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-06-28 20:23   

    On 2011-06-28 20:00, dahrich wrote:
    Hello:
    I think the issue here is not the trees but the forest.
    The geneal population can readily desceren visual changes and improvements and is willing to pay for them.  HD for ex. Audio has made great changes but not necessarily in SQ. Consider the Sony Walkman and today's iPod.  The mass market wants small and or portable devices where SQ is not important. Consequently, where does the industry focus?

    The audiophile market has to be a small one.

    Regards,
    Richard


    Richard_Interesting and thanks for chiming in I appreciate your input. I've considered your view. It seems that you're saying is you think it's a matter of a money driven situation with regard to audio SQ. Or better a lack of it. As I said I've pondered that and though the audiophile market may be small there does seem to me that there's alot of money in it. When I see speakers and amps costing in the $100 of thousands and I read companies bragging about the amount money they spent in the R&D of their latest offering in these areas, which is still essentially based on decades old tech, I'm not so sure that's the answer. Certainly could be though. I wonder if it's just not a matter of the audiophiles settling on what they get. They'll pay googobs of cash on stuff that doesn't sound any better than what was available a generation or more ago so that's what they get. Or maybe it's that mankind has hit a wall with regard to SQ and we're just fundamently unable to improve SQ along the lines of other tech advances. I don't know and am really curious as to the opinions of others._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-06-28 20:29   

    On 2011-06-28 19:55, Maxxwire wrote:
    <blockquote>
    On 2011-06-28 19:41, mykyll2727 wrote:
    Why doesn't today's units far outperform that of yesterday's when all things, such as AC quality, are equal?_mykl



    For the same reason that all Audio Systems with blankets over the speakers sound about the same. Take away the horribly degrading effects of commonly accessed AC power and you will be able to hear how all Audio equipment truly sounds without the Sound Quality ceiling that poor AC Power establishes.

    ~Maxx~


    -----------------

    </blockquote>

    OK so let me see if I get what you're saying. Are you saying that I'm wrong in my asessment of the SQ of today's units and that if today's and yesterday's units are both run off equally great AC quality that today's units would blow the socks off yesterday's on an order equivalent to what's happened in video?_mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-06-28 20:47 ]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-06-28 22:20   
    _mykl- After 11 years of effort being put into finding the most efficient AC Power Delivery with the help of a First Impression Music power cord with 9 solid core Copper conductors, a VansEvers Reference 12 line conditioner and an Ohno Continuous Cast Single Crystal Copper power cord with a Furutech FI-28 Rhodium Plated Pure Copper AC Plug on my DB 930 I began for the very first time to be able to hear hear the kind of ultra high definition Audio output that you are talking about and wondering why all modern gear doesn't have.

    All I'm saying is that this ultra high definition in audio playback does currently exist under the right circumstances if high quality AC Power is provided and as far as I am concerned exhibits a much higher level of audible resolution and detail than any Blu-Ray Video I have seen.


    On 2011-06-28 20:29, mykyll2727 wrote:

    OK so let me see if I get what you're saying. Are you saying that I'm wrong in my asessment of the SQ of today's units and that if today's and yesterday's units are both run off equally great AC quality that today's units would blow the socks off yesterday's on an order equivalent to what's happened in video?_mykl



    What I am trying to say is that you are correct about the poor sound quality of modern Audio equipment and that it is unable to will render its best performance while shackled by the poor quality AC Power Delivery that is so abundant these days.

    I've owned a lot of 1960's gear and the fact that most of those pieces were filled with very muddy Mylar capacitors which was certainly a hindrance to their performance an sound quality making them sound 'thick' and this is the reason that this vintage gear is usually modified with Polyethylene and Polystyrene capacitors by knowledgeable Audiophiles to give it a better Sound Quality.

    There is also some excellent Audio equipment from the past designed by the likes of John Curl, Ed Meitner and others which has never been equaled and so I see no blanket rule as to whether the vintage or modern gear as a group is best sounding, but rather with a high quality source of AC Power and a top notch AC Power Distribution Network I would say that any highly competent rebuilt vintage Audio Gear or high quality contemporary Audio gear could easily be made to improve the Resolution and Sound Quality of its Audio Output by an order that is much greater than Video has improved from the days of SD.


    ~Maxx~


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974! [IMG]http://i468.photobucket.com/albums/rr44/Maxxwire_Photos/AQ/N.png[/IMG] [url=http://www.agoraquest.com/viewtopic.php?topic=26561&forum=51&start=540&select_page_number=37]The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930[/url]

    jttar
    Sony Master
    Joined: Feb 28, 2003
    Posts: 9228
    From: Chicago,IL, USA
     Posted: 2011-06-28 22:42   


    First off, interesting topic mykl. I understand what you are saying and comparing. Here is another way of looking at it. Home theater sound is often incredible. Years ago when we were growing up, the movies we watched at home or even in the theater never had the sound impact that we can get in our home theaters. To me the real improvement in Blu Ray movies is not so much the picture but the incredible sound. I mean the video is high deff and that's cool but to my ears the sound is much better then standard DVD's.

    As far as two channel listening, the very best you can hope to hear out of any system is the same as being there and listening to live music. I think once you can close your eyes, listen to the music and place each instrument in the sound stage in front of you that's all there is. Once you can recreate a live performance what else can you hope to hear.

    Joe

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-06-28 23:21   

    On 2011-06-28 22:42, jttar wrote:

    Once you can recreate a live performance what else can you hope to hear.

    Joe



    There are incredible details from all of the instruments as only each of the Musicians could possibly hear individually. There is also a Harmonic Structure that is so perfectly presented that no live Music venue could ever be set up in a way that everyone in the audience could hear and enjoy at the same time, but with a well set up and precision powered Stereo System in a well treated room one can enjoy a recorded performance in a much more intimate and meaningful way than from any seat in the concert hall.

    Speaking of Music listening I much prefer the 'in the audience' experience of Stereo Listening to the 'on stage' experience of Surround Sound Listening, but that is just my personal preference.

    ~Maxx~


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974! [IMG]http://i468.photobucket.com/albums/rr44/Maxxwire_Photos/AQ/N.png[/IMG] [url=http://www.agoraquest.com/viewtopic.php?topic=26561&forum=51&start=540&select_page_number=37]The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930[/url]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-06-29 01:47   

    On 2011-06-28 22:42, jttar wrote:


    First off, interesting topic mykl. I understand what you are saying and comparing. Here is another way of looking at it. Home theater sound is often incredible. Years ago when we were growing up, the movies we watched at home or even in the theater never had the sound impact that we can get in our home theaters. To me the real improvement in Blu Ray movies is not so much the picture but the incredible sound. I mean the video is high deff and that's cool but to my ears the sound is much better then standard DVD's.

    Joe_I completly agree with regard to HT sound but as I said to my mind that's the result of media advancements (discs) and DSP. And as I said it's to enhance the video experience.


    As far as two channel listening, the very best you can hope to hear out of any system is the same as being there and listening to live music. I think once you can close your eyes, listen to the music and place each instrument in the sound stage in front of you that's all there is. Once you can recreate a live performance what else can you hope to hear.

    Joe


    Exactly! Why isn't the SQ of home audio today so much closer to the live event on an order with todays video being so much closer to reality than it was decades ago. Is it that music reproduction was so close to the real thing back then that we have so little room to work with or is it that audio SQ has simply been rather stagnant? And if it is stagnant why?_mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-06-29 02:36   
    Maxx_No disrespect intended but I get what tremendous enhancements to the SQ of all audio components great AC makes. What I'm pondering is irrespective of that fact. My question is not concerned with great AC taking both old and new audio gear's SQ over poorly fed equipment to a performance level on par with HD video over SD. The question is why when both are fed great AC isn't today's gear SQ as superior to yesteryear's as HD is to SD? Why isn't the general group of today's gear SQ far superior to yesteryear's? I doubt there are many, if any, that would say the picture quality of SD from 30yrs ago was as good or even better than today's HD picture. Yet there are audiophiles that say the SQ of "old school" audio is not only as good but even better than that of today's "new" school. Why isn't today's audio so much better that noone in their right mind would feel the old stuff could even hold a candle to today's gear? Why isn't the SQ of a Curl design of years past so far inferior to today's that noone would fail to determine which is superior. Why aren't his designs so archaic and inferior that noone would dream of employing it today? I'm really curious as to why today's audio tech hasn't advanced so far that it's SQ is so superior to that of decades ago that the only reasons someone would want to own a tube and vinyl setup would be the same as owning a Model T. Which is not for it's performance, design, and technology, which is far inferior to today's, but as a relic of days past._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-06-29 02:45   

    On 2011-06-29 01:47, mykyll2727 wrote:

    Is it that music reproduction was so close to the real thing back then that we have so little room to work with or is it that audio SQ has simply been rather stagnant?



    At one time I had quite an extensive Vinyl Record collection, a great Turntable, Cartridge and a $700 pair of Analog interconnects to connect it, but I found that almost all of the records came from masters that were very conservatively cut in order to preserve the expensive cutting heads and the result was they produced a tiny soundstage and extremely poor bass response which was very far from sounding like 'the real thing'.

    Based on the Music I've heard from some very reputable gear playing Vinyl Records back in the '60's and '70's such as McIntosh and Marantz for example coupled with with excellent quality Dual Turntables I would have to say that the sound of most modern Digitaly sourced Audiophile quality gear I've heard over the last 10 years like Spectral, Audio Research, Edge, Audible Illusions, Classe, PS Audio, Mark Levinson and ModWright Industries sounds so much better that it could easily pass your Video Resolution Comparison Challenge.

    One reason for this besides poor sounding Vinyl was that back then they were forced to rely on on the sound of Muddy Mylar caps rather than the clean, clear sounding and high resolution Teflon capacitors that well built gear has in its cleverly designed circuitry of the 21st century...



    ~Maxx~


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974!



    ... The Sony DB 930 Legend Continues


    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-06-29 04:30   

    On 2011-06-29 03:53, Maxxwire wrote:
    <blockquote>
    On 2011-06-29 02:36, mykyll2727 wrote:
    Maxx_No disrespect intended but the question is why when both are fed great AC isn't today's gear SQ as superior to yesteryear's as HD is to SD? Why isn't the general group of today's gear SQ far superior to yesteryear's?



    _mylk- No disrespect intended either, but have you actually done comprehensive side by side listening comparisons between your own 21st Century Digital Audio System and different pieces of Vintage Audio gear that prove conclusively that today's gear SQ is not as superior to yesteryear's as HD is to SD?

    Its just that you have a very fine sounding Audio System one of the best here at Agoraquest comprised of some of the best sounding gear that Sony has ever made in the 21st Century and if your well wired and Resonance Tuned Audio System doesn't sound 'HD to SD' better playing SACD over iLink than lets say a 1969 Model 6060F Sony Receiver playing vintage '60's Vinyl then a lot of Audio Enthusiasts are going to be up the proverbial Sound Quality creek!



    ~Maxx~


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974!



    ... The Sony DB 930 Legend Continues


    Sony H-9 MaxxPix  

    Welwynnick
    Sonyphile
    Joined: Oct 21, 2005
    Posts: 536
    From: Welwyn, Herts, UK
     Posted: 2011-06-29 10:23   
    Although I've fully embraced HD digital audio and video, there's still something great about vinyl and tubes (and CRT projectors for that matter) - low order harmonics and all that.  

    I have a couple of possible explanations.  Firstly tubes are intrinsically more linear than transistors, so you can run them with little (or no) feedback.  When you add feedback, you're reducing the closed-loop gain, so you have provide more open-loop gain to compensate.  Therefore the amplification chain as whole has to have more gain... more processes... more degradation.

    Secondly, when you have a lot of feedback, I think you're efffectively hearing the effects of the feedback as much as the amplification - especially for transistors, which have more in common with switches than amplifiers.  This has been debated a lot without any good conclusion, but I've had an idea.

    With negative feedback, the sound we hear is taken from the back of the amplifier, where the feedback is taken from.  The linearising effect of the feedback is applied at the front of the amplifier, where the feedback signal is subtracted from the input signal - that's where the loop correction is applied.  Although feedback is simple, I think we need to consider it in the same way as components and cables - these are not simple components, but need to be thought of as networks that include parasitic qualities, like capacitance in cables, or Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) in capacitors.

    The feedback loop itself is simple, but it's not perfect.  Its a complex LCR network in its own right, and adds its own distortion to the output before applying the NFB correction.  So the input to the amplifier may "see" an ideal signal, but that's not what we hear at the output.  What we hear is what the amplifier output has to produce in order for the NFB network to distort so that the amplifier input is right.  This is my idea and you may not have heard it before.

    Finally, the other factor is the purity of vacuum valves.  Unlike transistors, signals are amplified in a vacuum, not in a dielectric.  To my mind, all dielectrics (insulators) are bad, and some more than others.  I think this is the main reason why passives and cables have a sound - the dielectric that insulates the conductors is also like an electronic network itself.  The electric flux that is established in the insulator by the electric field is not proportional to that field.  The constant of proportionality - the dielectric constant - is not constant or linear.  And this non-linearity will surely apply to transistors and op-amps just as it does with cables and capacitors.  Perhaps more so, as the features in integrated electronics are very small, so the electric fields (and hance flux) must be proportionately large.  Valves don't have insulators - they have vacuum, which is the perfect dielectric.  This is someone else's idea which I plaigaraised.

    Hope that helps - did any of that make any sense?

    Nick

    [ This message was edited by: Welwynnick on 2011-06-29 10:36 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-06-29 09:27   
    Maxx_Excellent point!!! The fact is personally I think my iLink combo does sound quite superior to the several vintage tube and vinyl/tape setups I've heard over recent years. But then there's always that I could be somewhat prejudiced because in truth I was never that enamored with vinyl even back in the day when it was the only thing going. Too problematic and then there's that surface noise.

    I've heard setups using units from various companies such as Conrad Johnson, MacIntosh amps and Rega, Sony, Panasonic turntables just to name a few, but recently I heard a "modern" tube/vinyl setup which featured recent MacIntosh amps and a turntable from, if memory serves me, Acoustic Signature which was in the $10k range. The components sounded great, my knock was with vinyl. I do feel that SQ of audio media has advanced on a level proportionally with video pictures and said so in the first post. It's the other areas that I mentioned that cause me to wonder. As I said it's still the same essential tech. I mentioned that materials and designs of some parts have improved (such as capacitors) but it's still essentially the same overall design/tech with regard to the units(amplifiers, sspeakers). Why hasn't there been a fundamental advancement in tech that has lead to a huge leap in SQ?

      When someone like Dan Wright (who's designed his own caps and from reports I've read is among the very finest there are) says the reason he uses tubes in some of his designs is because "they sound better" and John Curl's solid state designs are still virtually SOTA I wonder why. Why isn't the use of tubes so archaic that their use would be laughable in a quality design of today? Heck tubes have been around for like what 100yrs?  Why isn't there something so fundamentally superior that noone would consider an ancient tech (Respective of consumer electronics tech) like tubes better than it?_mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-06-29 09:37 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-06-29 10:28   
     One of the best sounding systems I've heard recently featured Conrad Johnson amps powering Klipsch Palladium p-39f speakers and the source was an Ayre CD player. I felt the bass lacked extension (not sure if it was the speakers, amps or both) but overall the sound was truly superb. This system is partly responsible for my questioning. The CJs are tubes and the speakers use cone woofers and horn loaded mids and tweeters. Sure the cones supposedly feature some space age materials but they're still cones. Like I said same basic design that's been around forever just tweaked with newer materials. Are cones simply the best mankind can come up with for sound reproduction? Or is it a matter of just maintaining the status quo because audiophiles will settle for it._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-06-29 10:37   

    On 2011-06-29 10:23, Welwynnick wrote:
    Although I've fully embraced HD digital audio and video, there's still something about vinyl and tubes (and CRT projectors for that matter) - low order harmonics and all that.  

    I have a couple of possible explanations.  Firstly tubes are intrinsically more linear than transistors, so you can run them with little (or no) feedback.  When you add feedback, you're reducing the closed-loop gain, so you have provide more open-loop gain to compensate.  Therefore the amplification chain as whole has to have more gain... more processes... more degradation.

    Also, when you have a lot of feedback, I think you're efffectively hearing the effects of the feedback as much as the gain stages.  Especially for transistors, which have more in common with switches than amplifiers.  This has been debated a lot without a good conclusion, but I had an idea recently.

    With negative feedback, the sound we hear is taken from the back of the amplifier, where the feedback is taken from.  The linearising effect of the feedback is applied at the front of the amplifier, where the feedback signal is subtracted from the input signal - that's where the loop correction is applied.  Although feedback is simple, I think we need to consider it in the same way as components and cables - these are not simple components, but need to be considered as networks that include parasitic qualities like capacitance in cables or Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) in capacitors.

    The feedback loop itself is simple, but it's not perfect or linear.  Its a complex LCR network in its own right, and adds its own distortion to the output before applying the NFB correction.  So the input to the amplifier may "see" an ideal signal, but that may not be what we hear at the output.  What we hear is what the amplifier output has to produce in order for the NFB network to distort so that the amplifier input is right.  This is my idea  and you may not have heard it before.

    The other factor is the purity of vacuum valves.  Unlike transistors, signals are amplified in a vacuum, not in a dielectric.  To my mind, all dielectrics (insulators) are bad, and some more than others.  I think this is the main reason why passives and cables have a sound - the dielectric that insulates the conductors is also like an electronic network itself.  The electric flux that is established in the insulator by the electric field is not proportional to that field.  the constant of proportinality - the dielectric constant - is not constant or linear.  And this non-linearity will surely apply to transistors and op-amps just as it does with cables and capacitors.  Perhaps more so, as the features in integrated electronics are very small, so the electric fields (and hance flux) must be proportionately large.  Valves don't have insulators - they have vacuum, which is the perfect dielectric.  This is someone else's idea which I plaigaraised.

    Hope that helps - did any of that make any sense?

    Nick



    Nick_It sure did. Thanks for posting I was very interested in your take on this. Why do you think the reason is that there isn't a technology who's SQ is so superior to tubes and present solid state (speakers too) that it has made these techs completely obsolete. Like on an order to what's happened with video? Or is there and I just don't know about it_mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-06-29 17:31   
    Maxx_When you do upgrade the AC on your CJ powered system I'll absolutely love to know the results!! Please let us know.

     I find your preference for "old school" tubes interesting. Again when it comes to amplification, and to an extent speakers too, it seems technology hasn't really improved on the old. I'm perplexed as to why that's the case._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-06-29 17:18   

    On 2011-06-29 10:23, Welwynnick wrote:

    Finally, the other factor is the purity of vacuum valves.  Unlike transistors, signals are amplified in a vacuum, not in a dielectric.  To my mind, all dielectrics (insulators) are bad, and some more than others.  I think this is the main reason why passives and cables have a sound - the dielectric that insulates the conductors is also like an electronic network itself.  The electric flux that is established in the insulator by the electric field is not proportional to that field.  The constant of proportionality - the dielectric constant - is not constant or linear.  And this non-linearity will surely apply to transistors and op-amps just as it does with cables and capacitors.  Perhaps more so, as the features in integrated electronics are very small, so the electric fields (and hance flux) must be proportionately large.  Valves don't have insulators - they have vacuum, which is the perfect dielectric.  

    Hope that helps - did any of that make any sense?

    Nick




    On 2011-06-29 10:28, mykyll2727 wrote:
    One of the best sounding systems I've heard recently featured Conrad Johnson amps powering Klipsch Palladium p-39f speakers and the source was a
    an Ayre CD player.





    Nick and _mykl- When it comes to Vacuum Tubes I am definitely a proponent of the Old Stock variety. I've used 21st century Tubes in my Conrad-Johnson MV-52 Power Amp, but they sounded bright and 'glassy' compared to the Old Stock GE 6CA7 Tubes that I've been running in it for years. The oldest Tubes in the CJ are the 1960 Valvo input Tubes.

    For a long time I have known that this Vacuum Tube Amplification to me sounded far better than any Solid State Amplification I had heard that is up until I set my 1999 Sony DB 930 Receiver up with a set of high quality Pure Copper Outlets, a 9 solid Copper conductor FIM power cord, a programmable VansEvers Reference line conditioner and an OCC Single Crystal Copper Power Cord with a Rhodium Plated Pure Copper AC Plug which when completed took the sound quality of the humble DB 930 far beyond what the Conrad-Johnson could ever hope to accomplish in a system with 8 other pieces of equipment which requires a total of 12 power cords to operate nevertheless I still hope that someday I will be able to deliver the same kind of high quality AC Power to the Conrad-Johnson Vacuum Tube Power Amp and all of its associated equipment.  

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

      

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-06-30 02:30   

    On 2011-06-29 17:31, mykyll2727 wrote:
    Maxx_When you do upgrade the AC on your CJ powered system I'll absolutely love to know the results!! Please let us know.

    I find your preference for "old school" tubes interesting. Again when it comes to amplification, and to an extent speakers too, it seems technology hasn't really improved on the old. I'm perplexed as to why that's the case._mykl



    Actually the only reason that I prefer vintage Vacuum Tubes is that even though they make modern Tubes on the exact same equipment they have forever lost the old world art of metallurgy that was used to make the vintage Tubes that I prefer to run in my Conrad-Johnson MV-52 Vacuum Tube power amp which was the very first model that Conrad Johnson began making in 1990 which had 100% Polypropylene caps in the power supply which was a huge improvement in both sound quality and equipment longevity over the old school Vacuum Tube power amps which had lower quality Electrolytic caps which eventually needed to be replaced...



    This made the MV-52 the first of a new generation of much better sounding power amps which also had all high quality Polystyrene caps in the signal path instead of the muddy sounding Mylar caps in older vintage Vacuum Tube power amps. BTW this picture was taken just before the MV-52 had its LAT AC-2 power cord installed back in 2006.

    As far as trying to upgrade the AC Power Delivery Network on the Conrad-Johnson MV-52 and its 9 piece Vacuum Tube Reference Audio System in an attempt to replicate the absolutely amazing sonic improvements that my Sony DB 930 Receiver has undergone over the last few months I would need to upgrade 10 of the 12 power cords that it uses to a quality commensurate with that of the $500 the Furutech FP Alpha 3 Continuous Cast Single  Crystal Copper power cord that the DB 930 uses and has garnered back to back order of magnitude improvements in sound quality in just 2 months.

    Its not the additional $5,000 investment in this $25,000 Audio System that makes me reticent to pursue the AC Power Delivery upgrades, but rather the bottleneck in the AC Power Delivery Network violates the rule of an ultra simple power delivery path which has been the key to success for the Integrated DB 930 Receiver which requires only one line of power going into it.

      

    For 4 years this PS Audio Extension Link which was made to accompany their $5,500 top of the line Power Regenerators in the late 1990's has been used to distribute AC Power to 5 pieces of equipment in the Audio System. It has 4 Hubble 8300IG Phosphor Bronze Duplex Outlets which sell for $54 each in fact PS Audio discontinued the Extension Link when they discovered that it cost more to build it than they were selling it for.

    The PS Audio Extension Link replaced the Super Companion that I got in 2003 which was custom made by Mike VansEvers that the 5 pieces of equipment originally used. Unfortunately when I replaced the Super Companion which uses $7 Hospital Grade duplex outlets with PS Audio Extension Link and its $54 Phosphor Bronze duplex outlets which at the time were as high a quality as the  duplex outlets that Furutech was making there was absolutely no discernible difference in sound quality whatsoever which is a sure sign of the existence of a performance ceiling with 5 different pieces of Audio equipment both Analog and Digital simultaneously drawing power creating a bottleneck that the simple one line AC Power Delivery to the Integrated Digital processing/ Preamp/ Power Amp of the DB 930 which has proven to be such a success at improving its sound quality does not have.

    It really pains me that the Vacuum Tube Audio System is just too complicated to benefit fully from the same Reference Quality AC Power Delivery upgrades that the DB 930 has made such efficient use of, but then again I'm proud to know that the only Audio System that I ever heard that sounded better was a 1999 Sony Receiver!

    ~Maxx~





         


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974! [IMG]http://i468.photobucket.com/albums/rr44/Maxxwire_Photos/AQ/N.png[/IMG] [url=http://www.agoraquest.com/viewtopic.php?topic=26561&forum=51&start=540&select_page_number=37]The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930[/url]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-06-29 22:30   

    On 2011-06-29 21:24, jttar wrote:
    I repeat, once you can recreate that with a "well set up and precision powered stereo system in a well treated room", what else can you hope to hear.

    Joe



    Joe- After 11 years of trying to to find ways of improving the AC Power Delivery Network of my Audio System just in the last 7 months I have heard layer after layer of distortion removed from my Audio System's Music playback. Even here in the Pacific Northwest using power generated from the mighty Columbia I needed the help of some ultra low resistance power cords like the OCC Single Crystal Copper power cord I just retrofitted my DB 930 with to remove the next layer  of grunge from the Music in order to keep it sounding better and better.

    Someday I hope to get the Music from my Audio System sounding as good as possible, but having experienced 2 successive Order of Magnitude improvements in Sound Quality in just the last 2 months as a result of the improvements I've implemented in my Audio System's AC Power Delivery Network I am quite positive that more improvements will follow when as all of the power cords and their new AC Plugs break in.

    ~Maxx~

    Applying has been a very wild ride with plenty of Musically revealing and sometimes unexpectedly pleasant sonic surprises!  

    Welwynnick
    Sonyphile
    Joined: Oct 21, 2005
    Posts: 536
    From: Welwyn, Herts, UK
     Posted: 2011-07-07 10:46   

    On 2011-06-29 10:23, Welwynnick wrote:
    Although I've fully embraced HD digital audio and video, there's still something great about vinyl and tubes (and CRT projectors for that matter) - low order harmonics and all that.  

    I have a couple of possible explanations.  Firstly tubes are intrinsically more linear than transistors, so you can run them with little (or no) feedback.  When you add feedback, you're reducing the closed-loop gain, so you have provide more open-loop gain to compensate.  Therefore the amplification chain as whole has to have more gain... more processes... more degradation.

    Secondly, when you have a lot of feedback, I think you're efffectively hearing the effects of the feedback as much as the amplification - especially for transistors, which have more in common with switches than amplifiers.  This has been debated a lot without any good conclusion, but I've had an idea.

    With negative feedback, the sound we hear is taken from the back of the amplifier, where the feedback is taken from.  The linearising effect of the feedback is applied at the front of the amplifier, where the feedback signal is subtracted from the input signal - that's where the loop correction is applied.  Although feedback is simple, I think we need to consider it in the same way as components and cables - these are not simple components, but need to be thought of as networks that include parasitic qualities, like capacitance in cables, or Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) in capacitors.

    The feedback loop itself is simple, but it's not perfect.  Its a complex LCR network in its own right, and adds its own distortion to the output before applying the NFB correction.  So the input to the amplifier may "see" an ideal signal, but that's not what we hear at the output.  What we hear is what the amplifier output has to produce in order for the NFB network to distort so that the amplifier input is right.  This is my idea and you may not have heard it before.

    Finally, the other factor is the purity of vacuum valves.  Unlike transistors, signals are amplified in a vacuum, not in a dielectric.  To my mind, all dielectrics (insulators) are bad, and some more than others.  I think this is the main reason why passives and cables have a sound - the dielectric that insulates the conductors is also like an electronic network itself.  The electric flux that is established in the insulator by the electric field is not proportional to that field.  The constant of proportionality - the dielectric constant - is not constant or linear.  And this non-linearity will surely apply to transistors and op-amps just as it does with cables and capacitors.  Perhaps more so, as the features in integrated electronics are very small, so the electric fields (and hance flux) must be proportionately large.  Valves don't have insulators - they have vacuum, which is the perfect dielectric.  This is someone else's idea which I plaigaraised.

    I've been meaning to follow-up on this for a while but never got round to it.  You know how I hate to bang-on about how good the DA9000 is?  Well, I reckon it benefits from all the audio subtleties that I described above.  

    Firstly, unlike all other class D (and most class A/B) amplifiers, the DA9000 doesn't use global negative feedback in the digital signal chain.  The amplifier is linear enough that it doesn't provide any more open-loop gain than is needed to reach speaker level.

    Secondly, since there is no negative feedback, the DA9k doesn't degrade the fidelity of the input in any way, like I believe NFB does.

    Thirdly, the output transistors don't generate the shape of the output waveform in the way that conventional amps do - they just switch on and off.  Therefore, rather like valves, they aren't susceptible to dielectric degradation in the way that transistors or op-amps are.

    Finally, don't forget that in the same way that the output transistors don't generate the shape of the final waveform, they're not susceptible to cross-over distortion either.  Yes, its a complimentary amplifier, with separate transisitors for positive and negative phases of the waveform, but all the cross-over distortion is filtered out with the switching content.

    I'm not pretending that the DA9k sounds like an esoteric SET amp - it doesn't - but I think it does have some of their advantages.

    Nick


    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-07-07 15:50   

    On 2011-07-07 10:46, Welwynnick wrote:

    I'm not pretending that the DA9k sounds like an esoteric SET amp - it doesn't - but I think it does have some of their advantages.




    Nick-I've auditioned some very fine pure silver point to point wired 300B SET Integrated Amps as well as many of the Sony Digital Receivers and in reviews that I wrote here at Agoraquest as far back as 8 years ago I have always felt that the Sony Digital Receivers had their own particular dispensation of Tube Magic in their sonic signature right up to their ultimate incarnation in the DA9000ES.

    ~Maxx~


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974! [IMG]http://i468.photobucket.com/albums/rr44/Maxxwire_Photos/AQ/N.png[/IMG] [url=http://www.agoraquest.com/viewtopic.php?topic=26561&forum=51&start=540&select_page_number=37]The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930[/url]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-16 02:59   
    magellan_Very true! An excellent point._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-16 03:14   
    The letter in this email of McGowen's makes IMO an outstanding point. I'll be looking forward to further discssions in Paul's emails on this subject.




    Absolute what?

    Reader Mark Laufer sent me an interesting letter that I want to share with you. He brings up some excellent points: ones we will be exploring in future posts.

    “I always am amazed when reviewers talk about two things: one is “true to the recording” and the other is “true to the live performance.” They are both total fallacies.

    A recording is true to what? To the studio monitors used to balance the sound? To the way the studio monitors sound in the mixing room? And really, what is the “actual” sound of an electric guitar? Is it the sound of the playback monitor heard by the artist? Or the playback speaker heard in the recording room?

    And for live recordings – is it any different? I am always going to live concerts in NYC – I am blessed with some of the best concert halls in the world (and some of the worst). Sitting in the orchestra at David Koch theater has a distinctly different acoustic “signature” than seats in the front of the mezzanine. Move 8 rows back and you move under the overhang for the next tier up, and the sound changes again. Move up another tier, and another, and the sound changes again. Which is better?

    Well, for me, I prefer the first mezz center to center orchestra. I like the “lift” the sound gets as it moves “up.” But others like the orchestra … At Carnegie Hall, I just sat 8th row orchestra during a Bartok concerto. The orchestra is actually “above me.” Many would say that a more “accurate” sound comes from sitting much further back in the hall, or in the first tier (again, up). Distinctly different sonic signatures. When you sit closer to the orchestra, the instruments in the front are much more pronounced … the totality of the sound is much clearer further back in the hall. The point is quite simple. There is no “correct” sound, there is no “absolute” sound. There is no “sound as it appeared live.” There is only the sound as it appears at a given moment in a particular acoustic setting. Which can change one seat over.”

    Mark’s points are well taken. The Absolute Sound is something coined by HP to describe what we’re all seeking but it doesn’t exist and if it did, how would we know it’s right?

    Much more to come on this subject.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-07-25 03:04   
     My thinking is that Richard (dahrich) certainly has a handle on what I've been wondering. Even though many audiophiles may have large sums of money to spend on audio gear (and in turn spend it) the audiophile market as a whole is comparatively small to video. But I think that was true in the '60s and '70s as well. So I think my feeling that audiophiles are now willing to settle is at least another piece of the puzzle. The emphasis in audio for the majority today is not SQ but ease and quantity. Yet those factors have been motivators since the '60s and didn't stop efforts in great SQ back then. There have been great strides in the source arena in audio this entire time fueled by the desire for ease and quantity. Tape, disc, MP3, etc., yet little fundamental changes in the rest of the audio chain, amplification and speakers. My feeling is that audiophiles along with being small in comparative numbers have also become conditioned to accept the law of diminishing returns and thus haven't been the recipients of greater advancements in SQ tech. Audiophiles have come to accept that small incremental steps in SQ improvement are what they're going to receive for very large cash expenditures. So for makers why rock the boat?
     

      Philips has been one of the most inventive companies in the world for decades when it comes to the AV market. In particular the source arena of AV. In audio alone they invented the cassette back in the '60s and since have collaborated with Sony to come up with the CD, DVD, SACD, and BluRay and that's just a few of their accomplishments. I read recently where last year Philips made a decision to stop trying to be innovative in consumer electronics thru fundamental research. It makes me wonder what the overall attitude of consumer electronics firms is to innovation in the audio arena._mykl 

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-07-25 03:45   

    On 2011-07-25 03:04, mykyll2727 wrote:

    My feeling is that audiophiles along with being small in comparative numbers have also become conditioned to accept the law of diminishing returns and thus haven't been the recipients of greater advancements in SQ tech.


    _mykl- There have been 100's of things which we have agreed upon over the years and in times past I may have agreed with these statements of yours because they do ring true for many Audio enthusiasts, but just within the last 6 months I have had my ears opened to the amazing opportunities for the improvement of the Sound Quality within my Audio System by employing the current advancements in Audio technology that I did not have access to before.

    It has broken my heart to have to relegate my $25,000 Analog Separates Audio System to second string listening, but the new Audio System which has only 2 components being the desktop computer and my $600 Sony DB 930 Receiver sounds exponentially better and I hope that you will understand the reasons for the choice I've made to go with the current Audio technology.

    I recently abandoned my $10,000 i2s Bus Digital front end which provided 5 picosecond jitter Digital Audio for my Audio System for the last 10 years in favor of the 24/96 Digital Audio that the sound card in my HP Elite desktop provides over the same Fused Silica Glass Toslink that connected the i2s Bus Digital front end to its Digital Transport.

    The result has been an order of magnitude improvement in sound quality that far exceeds any improvements that I was able to coax out of dated Digital processing technology that the $10,000 i2s Digital front end used even though it was designed to and continues to have have 800% less measured jitter than iLink.

    This wholesale improvement in the Sound Quality of my now greatly simplified Audio System has brought improvements in Sound Quality that I once only dreamed could be possible with the old 20th century Audio technology that I was using and I now consider myself to be a very grateful recipient of the great advancements that modern Audio technology can afford at  such a deep discount compared to the much more expensive 20th century Audio technology that my Stereo Separates use.

    ~Maxx~


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974!



    .....The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930


    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-07-25 03:57 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-07-25 05:18   
    Maxx_You make some very valid points. I agree that the advancements in AC delivery that Furutech (I'm sure other companies will scramble to follow suit if they haven't already) have delivered have been great with regard to SQ. From your experiences even game changing. Yet IMO their employment of pure copper instead of a copper alloy or some other metal isn't what I consider a fundamental leap in new tech. Like I said in my initial post it's an advancement in materials though no question it's a major technological leap forward in the ability to use pure copper. So I guess at the very least it quailfies on some level. Now AFA your sound card that might well be a different matter. Yet I think the force behind it still stemmed from the drive for ease (simplicity) and quantity. My feeling is that it also stemmed from the drive to provide a better gaming experience (AV) and a better movie experience (streaming and again AV) for computer users. I don't think it's intention was to provide audiophiles with a better music experience. I feel it came from the drive to improve the AV arena not audio although in all fairness that's a result. And still, if I'm not mistaken (and correct me if I'm wrong), your computer is still connected to 20th century amplification (your receiver) and speakers to provide the final sound. I think it's absolutely fabulous that with the advancements you've pointed out that a modestly priced reciver can compete and even better some VERY expensive seperates. (I've got a whole bunch of thoughts on the ramifications of this that I'll throw your way later.) But the receiver and seperates are still 20th centry tech. I love getting your take on this because as I said in the beginning it's very possible I'm ignorant to what's going on in 21st centry audio and my view on it could be slanted as well. Please continue to post your thoughts here as I think we may well be on a path to truly bring 21st century SQ to the members._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-07-25 05:45   
    _mykl- If you ever do happen to decide to sample the advantages of 21st century Audio technology and employ the world's first and only patented Pure Copper Outlet along with one of your excellent quality power cords to run your DA9000ES while hooked up to your computer as a Digital front end your understanding of the unique benefits of 21st century Audio technology will clarify instantaneously and you will have a level of understanding that I do not have which is how Digital amplification reacts to this level of application.

    ~Maxx~


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974!



    .....The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930


    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-07-25 05:49 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-07-25 05:47   
     Maxxwire and jttar made some points about the home experience that I wanted to touch on. I agree that for many of us the home experience is more enjoyable than "going out". AFA HT I find my HT experince far preferable to "going to the movies". I also find that for the most part I'd rather listen to audio at home than live. I find it more enjoyable. I totally understand their points about the live experience. Joe pointed out if one can create certain aspects of the live experience, imaging etc., what more can you ask for. Well here's my thoughts on that.

      If we accept, and I reiterate if, that recreating the "live" experience is the "Holy Grail" of the recorded music experience, then at it's ultimate isn't that what a recorded music experience should provide? Not better or worse but exactly (at least on a sonic level) the same? Shouldn't one be able to close one's eyes and have the exact same sonic experience that one would if he closed his eyes at a live performance? If so, no system I know of is able to do that yet. No source, no amplification, no speakers in any combination are able to do that. But is that really what we as audiophilles should be after? Or should we strive to create the most enjoyable listening experience possible? What I'm driving at is, taking the live performance as the reference point some may prefer a warmer than live sound. Others may prefer one that's more clinical, etc., etc. What should be the ultimate goal of an audiophile? If it's the perfect sonic recreation of the live sound then SQ tech has a way to go. If it's what most enjoyable for the listener then we may already be there and have been for decades._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-07-25 06:00   

    On 2011-07-25 05:45, Maxxwire wrote:
    _mykl- If you ever do happen to decide to sample the advantages of 21st century Audio technology and employ the world's first and only patented Pure Copper Outlet along with one of your excellent quality power cords to run your DA9000ES while hooked up to your computer as a Digital front end your understanding of the unique benefits of 21st century Audio technology will clarify instantaneously and you will have a level of understanding that I do not have which is how Digital amplification reacts to this level of application.

    ~Maxx~


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974!



    .....The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930


    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-07-25 05:49 ]



    Max_I certainly plan on doing just that. (I need to expand my computer skills and knowledge. Some thing I'm definitely ging to be working on.) Ironically part of my motivation stems from the very reasons I give for why there haven't been more advancements in SQ. It stems not only for a desire for better SQ but also a desire for ease/simplicity, quantity, and lower cost. So just maybe guys like me are part of the problem. Go figure._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-07-25 06:02   


    On 2011-07-25 05:47, mykyll2727 wrote:

    Shouldn't one be able to close one's eyes and have the exact same sonic experience that one would if he closed his eyes at a live performance? If so, no system I know of is able to do that yet. No source, no amplification, no speakers in any combination are able to do that.



    Please re-read my last post which outlines a set up that along with an LEDE application of Auralex Studiofoam has greatly surpassed the sound quality of the highly flawed acoustics of any live performance I have ever heard in that every room I've ever listened to a live performance the Music was horribly smeared by very poor room acoustics allowing the same original sound to reach the listener at several staggered instances which is referred to as Time Smear Distortion.

    ~Maxx~


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974! [IMG]http://i468.photobucket.com/albums/rr44/Maxxwire_Photos/AQ/N.png[/IMG] [url=http://www.agoraquest.com/viewtopic.php?topic=26561&forum=51&start=540&select_page_number=37]The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930[/url]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-07-25 06:15   
    Maxx_Exactly my point. I agree that (with the possible exceptions of the studio sessions I've heard at my friend's mastering studio and the Chicago Symphony and performances at the Opera House back in Chicago) live performances are marred by acoustics. Even at the studio EQ is applied to make the recordings actually sound better than live. I'm also reminded of some Mapleshade recordings where it's stated that the room acoustics are captured in the recording providing a "live" experience. I remember that I didn't find the sound all that enjoyable. So what is the Holy Grail? Exactly the same as live or something better/more enjoyable? Personally I lean toward something more enjoyable than most live performances._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-07-25 09:25   
     Well even though I may be perturbed at what I perceive as a lack of revolutionary advancements in the SQ of amps and speakers, I feel for many audiophiles there is a HUGE upside. Source tech (especially digital) and processing seems to advance almost by the day and may force one to make frequent upgrades to keep pace if one wants better SQ. Yet with regard to amps and speakers if one can be happy without having the newest offerings in these areas vintage gear may well be the way to go. With gear that is IMO fundamentally the same as it was decades ago fortunately many of these designs are still performing great. It seems that quality audio gear of yesteryear was not only made to sound great but it was also made to last. With care and maintenance some of this stuff is still going strong 40+ yrs later. In many cases with no apparent end in sight. I wonder how much of the audio gear being made today, no matter how expensive, can reasonably be expected to have lifespans measured by decades. Yes it may take the work of an expert to swap parts with more modern versions to bring it's SQ in line with what's available today but the cost is far less than that of purchasing a "modern" unit. And you still have that long lasting build of the original unit. Yes indeed I plan on feeding my system from my computer. Yes computer obsolescence happens in just a few years due to tech advancements such as processing power etc. but for me this is a minor inconvienence and cost compared to having to upgrade my computer and source components. I find it frustrating that no matter what digital sources I have, regardless of cost, will soon be nothing more than paper weights due to an advancement in source media tech. Along with that there's unit failure. I know that my CD player for example will become disposable in the far too near future as my laser fails and there won't be any replacements available. Yet for amps and speakers I don't see there being any tech that will make them truly obsolete sound wise in the forseeable future._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-07 11:29   
    .

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-08-07 11:43 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-07 11:36   
    .

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-08-07 11:44 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-07 11:43   

    On 2011-08-07 11:29, mykyll2727 wrote:
    I received a short email newsletter today from Paul McGowen of PS Audio that I feel was very pertinent to what I was asking here.

    He wrote, "Asking the same questions over and over again brings fresh answers as advances in technology change the lens we are looking through almost on a daily basis."

    He goes on to say "Here are the fundamentals I am questioning:

    Why are even the best high end audio systems still not convincing us we are listening to live music in our home? Is it even possible? What's holding us back?

      Why do we need two speakers to create our stereo illusion? Can we do it with one?

      Why do we sometimes perceive greater dynamics on vinyl than on CD when technically the two aren't even close?

      Why are we OK accepting loudspeaker responses that are anything but flat--yet comfortable demanding electronics live up to a much higher standard? Simply because one can't get better and the other can?

    Reexamining everything we take for granted leads to discovery. What are you questioning?"

      _mykl


    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-08-07 11:46 ]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-07 17:07   


    He goes on to say "Here are the fundamentals I am questioning:

    Why are even the best high end audio systems still not convincing us we are listening to live music in our home? Is it even possible? What's holding us back?

    Why do we need two speakers to create our stereo illusion? Can we do it with one?




    I started asking myself the same question about the inability of high end Audio Systems to deliver a convincing live Music listening experience over a decade ago and as Paul says "Reexamining everything we take for granted leads to discovery" and I finally made a set of significant discoveries that completely solved this problem in my Audio System the presentation of which starts HERE.

    I've found the question as to why we need 2 speakers to create Stereo imaging a much simpler one to answer.....we listen with 2 ears.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-07 17:53   
     My feeling is if someone like the head of PS Audio is asking these questions (which are simliar to and some of the same as I'm pondering) then surely others in the industry must be doing the same. If so, then maybe some, if not all, of my questions regarding 21st century audio tech and SQ are right around the corner. I for one will be very interested in knowing the outcome._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-09 11:27   
    I got another of Paul McGowen's short newsletters today. I found the last two paragraphs particularly thought provoking. It is in regard to getting our systems to sound like the "real" event,


     "Many of the best designers and reviewers continually go to live music events to refresh their worldview of what actual instruments sound like so they can get closer to that version in their heads. This is fine if your goal is to color your designs to ignore what has been recorded - as opposed to reproducing live music.

     The truth is we listen to sound systems that playback only recorded music and everything we hear is filtered through microphones and personal biases of recording and mixing engineers. It is folly to believe you are getting closer to the "real" event when all you can get closer to is what has been recorded."

     mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-09 16:39   
    Speaking as a retired professional Musician who has also attended many live Music performances with all due respect the aspect that Paul is leaving out of his statement that...

    "Many of the best designers and reviewers continually go to live music events to refresh their worldview of what actual instruments sound like so they can get closer to that version in their head"...

    ...is the inescapable fact that no matter what venue they listen to that fine Music in it will be tainted by the time smear characteristics that the acoustics of the venue imbue upon it which is a level of distortion which is much worse than in any of the smaller rooms that we listen to Music from our Audio equipment in where time smear distortion can be not only tamed but virtually eliminated with carefully placed room treatments which is something that just can not  be accomplished in a large venue.



    That said Paul is correct about the sound of recordings being heavily influenced by the Mastering engineer which is why Mav' made this statement...


    On 2008-01-05 16:46, maverick11359 wrote:

              I completely agree and i'm finding the recordings i like the best are usually recorded by the better engineers and have been recorded at the lower volume settings.

               Doug Sax engineered some of  my favourites,  "The Jazz king" on CD and another one of my favourite SACD's Dark side of the moon both extremely well put down with moderate volume levels .I also have an outstanding Steve Hoffman engineered SACD in "Bayou Country " Creedence Clearwater Revival.

         
              Cheers Mav'





    The Music from Steve Hoffman's DCC Collection which dates back to 1987 is considered by many to be some of the very finest  Mastering work ever done. The The Official Steve Hoffman Discography lists CDs, SACDs and vinyl LPs that Steve Hoffman has mastered over the years and contains Music from some of the of the most legendary Musicians of our time who chose Steve Hoffman to remaster their work.  

    My personal favorite very well Mastered set of CD's are from Nippon Columbia which was established in Japan in 1930...

        
    When I talked to Steve Hoffman I asked him why these 20+ year old CD's sounded so incredibly detailed and he told me that it was because what he referred to as the 'Asian Ear' is much more appreciative to this kind of acute detail where much of the Music Mastered for Americans is more bass laden.

    In conclusion, yes all Audiophile Grade Music must be recorded with microphones which are most likely highly sophisticated ones like Neumann microphones which pick up the sound of live Music directly from the instruments so that the sound does not have to be distorted by the poor acoustics a live venue where what the audience hears only has a fraction of the amazing fidelity of what a fine recording  device like a Neumann microphone picks up for recording right at the the source.

      

    Some of the classic Neumann microphones which have provided us with some of the best sounding recordings ever made the quality and exquisite detail of which far surpass what can be heard amidst the uncontrollable acoustics of a time smeared concert hall.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix



    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-09 17:25   


    Maxx_I thought this might generate some discussion and I greatly appreciate your input. I didn't completely buy into what he said but it definitey got me thinking. I'm in agreement with your opinions.


     You brought up something that I've been meaning to bring up on the forum for some time with regard to Asian recordings. I have several Japanese CD issues some of which I have American versions of as well and to me the Japanese versions sound better. One CD that really stands out to me is Elvis' #1s. The listing said it was a Japanese issue but when I got it I saw it says on the back cover that it was made in Taiwan. So when I put it in I wan't expecting that much. (I know shame on me for getting caught up into stereotypes. I do know better.) Now I'm not an over the top fan of the King but I do love some of his stuff. But it's not the songs, it's the disc that I want to mention. These songs were recorded in the 50s and 60s so technology wise the recordings of today should be recorded better. At least to my mind anyway. I have SACDs, HDCDs, 24bit. SHM, etc. yet this RBCD sounds perhaps better than any stereo disc I have no matter what format. I'm always amazed at the SQ of this disc. It's spectacular. I've heard the American version on my system ( I don't own it but a friend brought it over once for comparison) and there's no comparison. My version just truly blows it away. So for me this one disc shows that it's the engineering much more so than the format that determines SQ of the disc. Sure take an OK RBCD and expertly remastering it to say 24bit may be a definite improvement over the original disc but even many of the remastered discs I have aren't really anything to go crazy about. This disc is. It's simply awesome. I think if all RBCDs had this SQ very few audiophiles would be interested in other stereo disc formats._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-09 17:42   


    _mykl- Have you ever checked out any of the excellent work from Music from Mobile Fidelity
    Sound Labs?

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-09 17:45   
    Actually the only ones I have are Patricia Barber's SACDs_mykl

    David_S
    Sony Legend
    Joined: Aug 03, 2004
    Posts: 905
    From: BC, Canada
     Posted: 2011-08-10 02:29   

    On 2011-08-09 16:39, Maxxwire wrote:
    ...
    The Music from Steve Hoffman's DCC Collection which dates back to 1987 is considered by many to be some of the very finest  Mastering work ever done. The The Official Steve Hoffman Discography lists CDs, SACDs and vinyl LPs that Steve Hoffman has mastered over the years and contains Music from some of the of the most legendary Musicians of our time who chose Steve Hoffman to remaster their work.  
    ...

    I have several DCC CDs mastered by Steve Hoffman, including the excellent sounding Bayou Country mentioned by maverick11359.

    Steve Hoffman remastered Bayou Country in June 1993.

    "Progress" produced a remastered set of CCR albums that were released in June 2001.  I did buy the box set when it came out.  This new "better" release was mastered with 20 bit K2 Supercoding using 20-bit A/D converter with DIGITAL K2 interface.  The technology is impressive & sales jargon is good.  Give me the older Hoffman mastered CDs any day, they are clearly superior to the 2001 re-release.  The CCR SACDs are also from the 2001 K2 Supercoding mastering, I am skeptical about their sound quality.

    Few people listen to music for the pure pleasure of listening to music.  We are a diminishing market & fewer products aim for the audiophile that enjoys good sounding music.


    -----------------
    TA- E77ES E80ES E1000ESD E9000ES TA- N77ES F555ES, ST-S730ES RM- AV3000 AX1400 (2)AX4000 STR- DA4ES DA3100ES (2)DA5700ES (2)GX10ES DVP- (3)NS999ES NS3100ES CX777ES CDP-X303ES, CDP-M555ES MDS-JA20ES, TC-K717ES, DTC-690

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-10 02:38   
    David_S_I almost bought that box set. Now I'm glad I didn't. I considered the SACDs too. I'll be holding off buying any more Cds for awhile as I convert to a computer based source. One of my reasons for the change is to stop buying CDs and reduce, maybe even eliminate all of the storage space.

     You may be right about us being a diminishing market. Personally I hope that we're not a dying breed._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-10 03:15   

    On 2011-08-10 02:38, mykyll2727 wrote:
    I'll be holding off buying any more Cds for awhile as I convert to a computer based source.




    I think that is a very good plan on your part. The Digital Music that I am now getting from my computer's sound card through Glass Toslink sounds much better than CD's used to sound played by a Digital Transport and sent to the 5 ps jitter i2s Bus Digital front end over that same Glass Toslink plus the V-Link Asynchronous USB to S/PDIF converter that I will begin testing later this week portends to boost the quality of the computer based Audio playback to even higher levels of fidelity.





    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix



    dontsleep33
    Sonyphile
    Joined: May 03, 2008
    Posts: 742
    From: MG,Brazil
     Posted: 2011-08-10 06:22   
    To put things into perspective I think both areas are still lacking.
    For example when you listen to the best recording on the best audio system you can find you can almost be fooled that it is live where as when watching Blue ray I never even come close to thinking it might be real.

    I don't know how video will ever reach that point because that's not my area but I know recording and so far the hardest part of making a recording sound real is the use of compression.We compress the intruments individually and then on top of that again at the overall mixdown and mastering session.
    Secondly the choice of speakers upon playback is also crucial.I think the rest of the recording/playback equipment and is pretty much up to the task at the highest levels of quality.
    Tweeters in general are usually the worst offenders after compression of the recording once we hit the play button.Drum cymbals for one just don't ever sound convincing to someone who has been a musician his or her whole life.There is a lot going on with audio but we're getting there.
    Video although beutiful and fun to watch is never convincingly real at all.
    I hope I could help with this dicussion. 

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-10 08:37   
    dontsleep33_You're input is much appreciated as always and I found your perspective very thought provoking. I hadn't really considered that despite the geat advancements in picture quality that video has experienced since the release of the DVD how far from "real" it still is. Your post made me think about it and I agree with you. I also feel that recorded music brings us closer to real than does video at this point. But I do feel that video has come alot further in the last decade or so to getting to real than audio and that video seems to have a greater drive to get there as well. Perhaps as David suggested it's because we audiophiles are a diminishing market._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-10 09:01   
    In today's newsletter Paul expounded on his post from yesterday. Today he talked about an incident at an audio seminar that he and a friend of his attended and how they had different perspectives on the same listening session. A demonstration of Paul's Perfectwave DAC. He went on to write,

    "Dan hears the lens or the sound of the microphones used to make the recording, so sensitive he is to such things.

    I, on the other hand, was marveling at how good and natural the singer sounded through my DAC : two very different worldviews of the same event.

    If you think about it, what this really says down deep, neither of us would for a moment believe the singer is actually in the room. In fact, not one person in the room attending the seminar would tell you that he was fooled into believing someone was actually standing in the room singing; so far away from real is the stereo system.


    Everything you have heard and are likely to ever hear on your high-end system is always going to be through the lens of a microphone. The exceptions to this are directly fed instruments like synthesizers and electric instruments with direct outputs - but then, these too have the same sort of "lens" they lay through that gives them their own sound.


    The act of reproducing high-end audio in your home is a process that probably never can get away from being passed through the color of a lens before it reaches you ear.

    Our challenge is to try and make everything in that chain as transparent as possible. We have a long way to go."

    _mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-08-10 09:03 ]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-10 16:33   

    On 2011-08-10 09:01, mykyll2727 wrote:

    Everything you have heard and are likely to ever hear on your high-end system is always going to be through the lens of a microphone.




    I have a friend who works at a local Mastering Studio which also sells gear to Recording Studios and that is where I discovered the top quality Neumann microphones the professionals use.

      

    I just don't understand the drawback to using a fine Neumann microphone which very vividly picks up fine details including everything from the parsing of a singer's lips to someone in the audience shuffling around in their seat which I have never been able to hear at a live event because I did not have the sonic advantage of a fine Neumann microphone like the top recording professionals use which is far more sensitive than the human ear.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-10 18:00   
     Maxx_I didn't edit Paul's post in anyway with the exception of what he wrote before my quote which was an explaination of the seminar. After that we have his exact post which leaves me less than 100% certain of what's at the heart of his point. It seems to me he has a bone to pick with microphones and masterers. But I'm not clear on whether or not, as an audio designer and maker, he's placing at the very least the brunt, if not all of the blame for less than perfectly "real" sound of audio systems (not only now but forever) on them. Thus excusing the audio component makers and designers from most if not all of the blame. IMO he seems to be eluding to that and thus informing audiophiles that we are condemned to less than "real" sound for however long it takes the mics and engineers to get their acts together. That is if they ever do. I.e. it's not the components but the mics fault. I'm not sure if deep down that's his point or not. Because of my uncertainty to his deepest meaning I'm also unsure of when taliking about having a long way to go exactly who's the "we" he's refering to._mykl

    David_S
    Sony Legend
    Joined: Aug 03, 2004
    Posts: 905
    From: BC, Canada
     Posted: 2011-08-11 02:08   

    On 2011-08-10 02:38, mykyll2727 wrote:
    David_S_I almost bought that box set. Now I'm glad I didn't. I considered the SACDs too. I'll be holding off buying any more Cds for awhile as I convert to a computer based source. One of my reasons for the change is to stop buying CDs and reduce, maybe even eliminate all of the storage space.

    You may be right about us being a diminishing market. Personally I hope that we're not a dying breed._mykl


    I understand the storage problem, it exists here too.  I just signed up to HDTracks.com & am downloading their demo tracks.

    My experience seems to have SQ of CDs for the masses (as opposed to audiophile releases) peaked around the mid 1990s.  This closely coincides with the period when component manufacturers started emphasizing home theater.


    -----------------
    TA- E77ES E80ES E1000ESD E9000ES TA- N77ES F555ES, ST-S730ES RM- AV3000 AX1400 (2)AX4000 STR- DA4ES DA3100ES (2)DA5700ES (2)GX10ES DVP- (3)NS999ES NS3100ES CX777ES CDP-X303ES, CDP-M555ES MDS-JA20ES, TC-K717ES, DTC-690

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-11 02:57   
    David_S_I'm in agreement with your observation. It seems to me that with the release of the DVD that electronics firms shifted most of their audio resources away from audio and into the HT market and truly placed all of their emphasis there. If I'm right it would help to explain why there seems to me to have been so many more and greater technological advances in that area then in home audio._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-11 15:37   
    _mykl- In my experience the Audiophile Grade equipment market has always been minuscule compared to the proliferation of Audio equipment made for the mass market, but with the advent of computer based Audio which sounds so much better than any Transport I've ever heard in my Audio System up to and including the Counterpoint DA-10 which is reputed to be just slightly less revealing than the $15,000 Mark Levinson No.31.5 Reference CD transport.

    A new age in Digital Audio is dawning where for considerably less than $200 the Digital output of a computer can be retrofitted with zero jitter Asynchronous USB-S/PDIF processing that sounds much better than the nosebleed expensive Reference Transports of yesteryear even when they are using the very cheapest low quality USB cables!

    Yes, in this new era of Computer based Audio not only does Music playback sound much better but it costs a very small fraction of what the prohibitively expensive Reference Transports did 15 years ago.

    ~Maxx~



    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-11 16:06   
    Maxx_I was thrilled to read your review of the V-link!! It's exactly what I was hoping for. Ease of use and upgrades. Saving space by reducing the number of components and discs. Reducing costs. Like you said for alot less than the cost of a new "world class" stand alone player. For alot less than even having my present unit modified. Even if I have mine modded I still face the inevitable laser failure. For the money I would spend to have mine modded I can upgrade a computer and still have money left over. And most of all with no loss of SQ. In fact even a greater improvement. It's my dream come true._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-11 17:55   
    _mykl-  At long last the Computer based Digital Music Revolution is here by courtesy of inexpensive yet high quality Asynchronous USB-S/PDIF converters like the Music Fidelity V-ink. Combine that with the enhanced AC Power Upgrades that you already have in place i.e. Mav's 3.1 Line Conditioner and you will have computer based Music playback quality that even classic player based $100,000 Reference Audio Systems are hapless to achieve.


    I have had 5 different iterations of AC Power Cords on my computer since I started using it for Audio playback and I found that the computer is very sensitive to power cord and AC Plug quality where Music playback is concerned.



    I bought this Synergistic Research Alpha A/C Coupler which has 12 AWG Silver-Clad Copper conductors for $40 specifically to be used with the computer and re-terminated it with these Furutech FI-25 Pure Copper Plugs, but a even more profound performance breakthrough came after I upgraded the AC Plugs to Furutech FI-28 Rhodium Plated Pure Copper Plugs.

    Most people will probably tell you that a  power cord upgrade will have no effect on computer performance, but when it comes to Digital Audio playback I've found that a higher quality power cord will enhance Music playback quality which is good news when you can pick up a used $250 power cord for only $40!  

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-11 23:08   
    Thanks for the info. I'll definitely remember that._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-12 02:39   
    _mykl- I just wanted to reiterate what great sound Asynchronous USB-S/PDIF converters have when using no more than just an inexpensive USB cable. It sure wasn't like that with the Analog interconnects in my traditional Audio System where it took 2 pairs of $1,100 electrically resonance tuned Analog interconnects to attain better quality sound than I'd had from the heard from the DAC/Preamp/Power Amp than with the rest of the many Analog Interconnects that I had auditioned...



    And as you showed us nearly 5 years ago it always pays to use the kind of AC Line Conditioning which has been designed and built with top quality wiring and AC Plugs by an expert electrician like Maverick...




    I don't have a high performance Power Amp like you do, but I have invested a considerable amount of money in my Conrad-Johnson Power Amp which originally cost $1,900 and I put about another $1,000 worth of Mods and a full set of 1960's vintage Vacuum Tubes into it. In order to maximize the sonic return on my investment I found it necessary to upgrade its power cord to a $379 12 AWG LAT International AC-2 which features a Silverfuse conductor and TEFLON dielectric and terminate it with a Furutech FI-25 Pure Copper AC Plug which permanently improved the sound quality of the CJ in a way that no other upgrade can.

    Since then I refuse to compromise the sound of this $3,000 Power Amp or an other of my Audio gear by running inferior quality Power Cords which would certainly rob it of its sound quality and I feel the exact same way about the high quality Analog interconnects that the Power Amp uses which enable it to sound so much better than it did when I first got it 5 years ago. Saving a few dollars on Analog interconnects and Power Cords can prevent Audio equipment from providing its best sonic return on the investment made in it and end up costing more in terms of diminished sound quality than was saved on lower quality budget price Analog interconnects and Power Cords.


    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix



    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-08-12 18:07 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-12 19:24   
    I've definitely become convinced that ICs and PCs are not an area to be skimped on if you want the best performance you can from your system. It's why I use the cords that I do. My decision is based PURELY on their performance which is the best I've come across so far._mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-08-12 19:25 ]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-12 19:58   

    On 2011-08-12 19:24, mykyll2727 wrote:
    I've definitely become convinced that ICs and PCs are not an area to be skimped on if you want the best performance you can from your system. It's why I use the cords that I do.




    -mykl- This subject feeds right into your theory about why modern Audio playback does not sound as good as it should because so few people have a working knowledge of how important using good quality cables including Analog cables and Power Cords are to the performance of the Audio equipment they connect and supply power to.

    As you know I used to live just a few blocks from what many people including Dan Wright and Richard Kern consider to be the best Audio Shop around and I was allowed to audition any kind or price range of any kind of  cables I wanted to which amounts to a wider variety and range in build quality than any single individual could ever honestly claim to have owned and I got an advanced education in which cables are more transparent and which are more colored.

    Invariably it was the budget quality Analog interconnects and Power Cables built with compromised materials to maintain their afford ability that got in the way of the Music humbling the sound quality the otherwise great sounding Audio equipment. I also auditioned some very expensive cables that did not perform as well as well built cables that someone who had auditioned a wide variety of cables could get at a much lower price especially on the used cable market.

    In that decade worth of auditions I found that the budget cables I listened to were consistently quite colored and their compromised materials and poor build quality routinely sacrificed the transparency of the Music. Although many of the very expensive cables I auditioned did not perform in a way that was commensurate with their excessive pricepoint I was always able to find Analog Interconnects and DIY Power Cables that performed at levels many times their pricepoint and maintained transparency without compromise by way of the the high quality materials that were used to build them.

    ~Maxx~


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974!



    .....The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930


    Sony H-9 MaxxPix



    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-08-13 05:15 ]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-16 17:25   


    _mykl- Please forgive me for my obstanance to your comparing 3 Dimentional Video to modern Audio playback. I say this because for the very first time I heard the ambiance of the original venue recording along with an absolutely pristine rendering of the Music where I found myself being able to very really sense the space in which the Music was recorded using my new Digital front end proudly featuring the $169 Musical Fidelity 24/96 USB-S/PDIF Converter.

    Finally I know exactly what you were talking about and your original motivation for starting this thread. In reply I have found a treasure trove of minute details that are capable of realizing the 3 Dimensional aspects of Audio playback that you were pointing out the absence of in modern Audio Systems.  

    Its not just having an Asynchronous Digital front end, but rather the essential full spectrum of energy available that enables this 3 Dimensional Audio playback which comes from an excellent quality supply of AC Power because everything we hear from the speakers was once AC Power coming from the wall outlet and that is exactly where this 3 Dimensional listening experience originally began for me last November.

    ~Maxx~


    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-16 18:59   
    Maxx_I really appreciate your post. I felt like I wasn't making myself clear and was a little frustrated with myself. Since the digital front end and AC delivery tech has entered the 21st century and is capable of the great sound you're experiencing I just imagine what SQ would be available to us if and when amp and speaker tech catches up._mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-08-16 19:01 ]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-16 19:56   

    On 2011-08-16 18:59, mykyll2727 wrote:
    Since the digital front end and AC delivery tech has entered the 21st century and is capable of the great sound you're experiencing I just imagine what SQ would be available to us if and when amp and speaker tech catches up.




    And now I am guilty of not making myself clear because the Amp and Speaker technology are already capable of the 3 Dimensional sound that you brought up as being lacking and can be actuated with highly capable AC Power Delivery. The problem is that they most high end systems are not run with a very simple single source of high quality AC Power which dilutes their true capability to produce a 3 Dimensional sound which requires absolute attention to every detail.

    ~Maxx~

      Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-16 20:26   
    Nope I understood. Amp and speaker tech (which is in essence 40 yrs old) are capable of an outstanding job of passing on the 21st century improvements made in the other areas. With their present tech we're able to have a great 3D music experience. But what would it sound like if they did an even better job. I'm just wondering how much better SQ can get if amp and speaker tech has a quantum leap on the order of these other areas. And with these vast improvements in all of these other areas, in both video and audio, why hasn't it. _mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-17 04:03   
     I received this from Paul McGowen the other day. The main reason I'm posting it is beacause it's a precursor to his next newsletter which I found "interesting".





    We read about digital audio devices boasting bit depths up to 32 bits and understand more is better. But better at what?

    Bit depth is a measure of the signal to noise ratio (how much louder the music can be than the background noise) and also tells us dynamic range (the softest to the loudest levels possible). The measurement used is dB (decibels) and just to give you a reference, every 6dB is twice as loud as the last 6dB. A 16 bit system has 96dB of range, a 24 bit system 144dB.

    I am going to give you one more figure and then onto the point of the article: the human ear can discern (on a good day) 124dB which is a mere 21 bits. So why do we care about higher bit rates like 32 and beyond? Does it really matter?

    The answer is, as usual, not so simple. On the one hand I would tell you that right now, with 99.99999% of recordings and audio equipment out there, no. Could it someday matter? Yes.

    Here’s the deal. As DAC designers have pushed for more bits to extend the dynamics and increase the S/N ratio, recording engineers and amp/preamp designers are still living in the past because their maximum loudness levels are identical and fixed. What’s actually improved is the other side of the recording: how quiet it can get.

    Think of it like this. Imagine you’re in a noisy cafe listening to a musician playing his guitar in the corner of the cafe. When he sings loudly you hear him rise above the noise of the crowd and that sets the maximum level he can sing at. Now imagine the crowd leaving and the background noise dropping to a very quiet level. The singer still hits the same loud notes but now you can hear all the small nuances you missed because of the background noise. That’s what happens when we go from 16 bits to 24 bits.

    In this analogy you’ve gained the ability to hear many small nuances from the singer – but not all. You can’t for example, hear his heartbeat or even the slight movements he makes in his seat. These are just too quiet to hear – but in fact – going from 24 bits to 32 bits buys you enough quietness to where you should be able to hear them – but that extra quietness is wasted because you can’t hear it even if it was on the recording (which it is not).

    If, on the other hand, system engineers and recordists went the other way – adding dB’s of maximum loudness instead of quietness – then when a waiter in the cafe knocked over a pile of plates, the dynamic range you got would be so realistic and perceivable that you’d be startled out of your chair; the sound so much louder than the singer.

    Technically, we already have the dynamic range needed, we’re just not taking advantage of it and it is wasted.

    Tomorrow we’ll examine why vinyl, which has even less dynamic range than a 16 bit CD, seems to have greater dynamics.

    _mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-17 04:07   
     Sorry about the type size don't know how to correct that but here's his next newsletter that I found interesting.



    Vinyl Vs. CD

    Now here’s a subject that’ll get some of you fired up. Which is better: CD or vinyl? There are more opinions than people on this subject, so I am not going to touch on this hot potato just yet. <IMG src="http://www.pstracks.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif">

    What I do want to write about started in yesterday’s post titled the bit game: dynamics.

    If we ignore, for the moment, the fact that many vinyl releases have better sounding mastering than many CD’s then we can take a look at one of the reasons vinyl playback seems to have more dynamic range than the same music on a CD – when technically, even a lowly 16 bit CD has more dynamic range. For your reference, a vinyl album has about 80dB of dynamic range, while a 16 bit CD has 96dB.

    The answer is called Relative Dynamics (my term) and we will learn about its ability to change our perceptions.

    Vinyl can sound more dynamic than CD’s precisely because of one of vinyl’s big limitations – groove noise. We’re all familiar with vinyl noise and it’s caused from the needle traveling through the plastic grooves. Intermix this with the occasional ticks and pops of the groove noise and you have the unmistakable sound of vinyl – ever present in the background when we listen. CD’s, on the other hand, are “better” because they possess none of these noises.

    Here’s what’s funny about this. Our human abilities to measure dynamic range are subjective and therefore relative to our surroundings. We use background noise levels to set an internal reference point and anything louder than this is then judged to have a dynamic range greater than the reference level (dynamic range is technically the difference between the background noise and the loudest noise above that). But if that background noise drops below a certain point, it is wasted and we lose our reference.

    It turns out that the groove noise of a record is just the right amount of background noise to give us a solid and stable reference point – which we lack on a CD. It is this reference noise level we establish that helps vinyl sound more dynamic than CD’s, despite the facts.

    Does this mean we should add noise to our recordings? No, but it does bring up a host of interesting possibilities which I will write about in future editions.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-17 23:56   
    The reason I posted both of his emails was that the first gave background for the second and for the entire second was I didn't want askew anything he's saying.

     In particular it's his second to last paragraph that I have trouble with. I'm just not buying into it. Now I'm not knocking anyone who's into vinyl. They're entitled to their preferences just like me. If we differ so be it. That's what makes the world go round. But I'm just not a fan of the "actual" sound of vinyl. Never have been really even back in the day. And the reason I'm not a fan of the "actual" sound is all of that surface noise. The grove and dirt noise that is part of the "actual"vinyl sound which he says is why it sounds more dynamic. Paul's saying that the reason vinyl sounds more dynamic than today's digital sound is because of the noise. I in fact find the sound of today's digital tech more dynamic because of it's lack of surface noise. I find today's digital sound preferable because of the greater detail, dynamics, and ambience created by it's quietness. I find the surface noise distracting, at times even irratating, and that it obscures the details. So for me the tech of today's digital sources sound better than yesteryear's tech. It provides me with a sound closer to live than vinyl. Bless those that prefer the source tech of yesteryear. I'm just not one._mykl

    David_S
    Sony Legend
    Joined: Aug 03, 2004
    Posts: 905
    From: BC, Canada
     Posted: 2011-08-18 01:53   
    I also found the surface noise of vinyl very distracting.

    If vinyl sounds more dynamic than digital because digital lacks surface noise, then how would Paul McGowen claim vinyl sounds compared to live?  Live has no "surface noise", so are audience sounds used as a reference?

    I used to live in an area where I was close to a major freeway.  You could not really "hear" the freeway noise, but the background quietness was perceivable when traffic died down after about 11:30 PM.  I would gradually turn the sound level of the DA4ES down about 10 dB as the freeway background noise quietened down.  Low level music detail was also more pronounced after the freeway background noise quietened.

    I guess I could correlate the freeway background noise to surface noise of vinyl.  Give me the quiet of digital any day.  IMO surface noise of vinyl also masks some of the low level detail.
    -----------------
    TA- E77ES E1000ESD N77ES F555ES
    RM- AV3000 AX1400 (2)AX4000
    SDP-EP9ES, ST-S730ES
    STR-DA4ES, STR-DA3100ES
    DVP- (3)NS999ES NS3100ES CX777ES
    CDP-X303ES, CDP-CX88ES
    MDS-JA20ES, TC-K717ES, DTC-690
    Pioneer CLD-3090 Laserdisc

    [ This message was edited by: David_S on 2011-08-18 01:56 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-18 02:23   
    David_Feels good to know I'm not alone in this. I just don't get it as his point seems totally contradictory to me. Like you said there's no surface noise in the live experience. And wouldn't all of that noise actually detract from dynamics not improve it? And this from a very highly respected and capable audio gear maker.


    I completely relate to your freeway experience. I grew up in Chicago. That city is loud during the day and even at night. The first house I bought was less than three blocks from Wrigley Field. What's more I had the EL (Joe will know what that is) running right behind my back yard. Talk about loud. I setup my sytem in the basement because that was actually quieter than the rest of the house and I could hear the details better.

    Your experience made me think about something else. I've heard the reason systems tend to sound much better at night is because of the cleaner AC. Because of less of it being used at night. While that may be true coudn't part, if not alot of it be simply because it's quieter. Less background noise to mask the sound and therefore allows us to hear the details and dynamics better which brings our music closer to live?_mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-08-18 02:26 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-18 02:42   
     This latest email of Paul's I felt I felt had particular relenvence to this thread. Again please forgive the large type. I don't know how to correct it when I put it into the reply box it actually looks smaller.

    The Quiet Revolution


    In the September issue of TAS (The Absolute Sound) magazine, Robert Harley touches on what I like to call the Quiet Revolution: moving the high-end to networked audio.

    In his travels to France he was surprised to find that everywhere he went, not a single CD transport was to be seen. Instead, streaming audio servers were the norm. What’s interesting is that these weren’t streaming audio companies trying to impress the editor of the magazine with their new wares – these were speaker manufacturers showing off the sound of their speakers.

    When an important reviewer shows up at your door, you put your best sonic foot forward. Fascinating they put their network audio foot right up in front.

    I am reminded this is the fifth revolution I have personally witnessed (of those that mattered):


    1. Mono to stereo

    2. Tubes to transistors

    3. Vinyl to CD

    4. CD to hard drive

    5. Everything available over the network anywhere you are

    The first three revolutions were widely publicized within our community.

    Each went through the three steps of acceptance: ridicule, opposition, then embraced with much fanfare.

    We’re right in the middle of the fourth and fifth revolutions but without much fanfare.

    Why so quiet?

    Tomorrow: the tiniest details


    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-18 03:49   
    I've had an extended experience with Vinyl playback and I tried many ways to get rid of the distraction of surface including buying a Stereophile Magazine Class B Recommended D
    BX 3BX Dynamic Range Expander...



    The DBX 3BX did quiet down the surface noise of Vinyl Playback, but the sound quality suffered enough to make you want to try enduring the surface noise again. I once came across something that the chief designer at Rega said which was 'If you can't stand a little surface noise then you're just not cut out to listen to Vinyl.' Not long after that I started building my i2s Bus Digital front end which was very quiet.

      

    I ran a Rega P3 like the one pictured above only without the butcher's block using a RB 300 Tonearm and a Sumiko Blue Point Special Cart with a 2 meter pair of Straightwire Virtuoso Gold Analog interconnects and with the right record it sounded very good. When my friend who worked at the Sony Only Store came over to listen to my Vinyl Rig I played Sade's Diamond Life and it just blew him away in fact he said that it sounded as good as the SACD Reference Separates they had at the store!

    The problem was that I could only get that kind of performance out of it with 3 albums that I had one of which was a 1/2 speed Mastered MFSL version of Steely Dan's 1977 Aja album which was originally mastered using the same JBL-L-100a speakers that I have. Music came out of the walls when I played that MFSL Aja album!

    In the end it wasn't surface noise or the hassle of manually cleaning records before a listening session, but rather the extremely poor quality of the recorded Vinyl itself that disappointed me the most. Most of the albums I had contained very little bass and produced a very small soundstage because of the way that the masters they were made from were cut in that the record companies had a large financial stake in preserving the very expensive cutting heads and so they sacrificed the quality of the records to save money.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-08-19 02:57 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-18 04:35   
    No question all formats have poor quality recordings. We all know some CDs sound terrible and yet I know of some that sound awesome. I think that so many of the early CDs due to a rush to get them out sounded very bad. IMO it really helped foster some the prejudice toward CDs' SQ that exists to this day. I had an experience today that brought it to mind. I was listening to a complitation CD earlier today. The first track was harsh, very bright and "digital" sounding as were some others. Yet some of the others sounded truly great and this was all on the same disc. I don't know if it stemmed from the originals that the disc was mastered from or from the mastering of the disc or some combination of both. I do know this if I had tried to tune my system to make the first track sound good my system's SQ would be so askewed that nothing would sound good on it. Yet all in all I'll take today's source tech over that of yesteryear. Not just for what I feel is it's more like "live" SQ but for it's many other areas of superiority like ease. To me today's 21st century source tech is clearly better than that of yesteryear. But of course that's just my taste._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-18 05:25   


    Without a doubt modern computer based Digital Music is not only much less expensive than the early digital players, but it also sounds incredibly better!

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    David_S
    Sony Legend
    Joined: Aug 03, 2004
    Posts: 905
    From: BC, Canada
     Posted: 2011-08-19 01:47   
    DBX brings back an era I had forgotton about.  Some vinyl was recorded in DBX & you needed a DBX decoder to play it back properly.  Maxx, do you have DBX vinyl.

    There was also the DBX/Dolby cassette options.  A few decks had both DBX & Dolby.  I guess that was one of the first format wars.  Obviously Dolby won.  I never heard a DBX cassette deck, some swore that it was better than Dolby.


    -----------------
    TA- E77ES E80ES E1000ESD E9000ES TA- N77ES F555ES, ST-S730ES RM- AV3000 AX1400 (2)AX4000 STR- DA4ES DA3100ES (2)DA5700ES (2)GX10ES DVP- (3)NS999ES NS3100ES CX777ES CDP-X303ES, CDP-M555ES MDS-JA20ES, TC-K717ES, DTC-690

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-19 16:45   
    David_S- I never did own any Vinyl that was recorded in DBX, but even back then there was an effort to come up with giving the recording medium a quieter and hopefully 'black background' over which to record the Music in order to enhance the amount of discernible detail in the Music and with today's 24 bit Asynchronous Digital Music the challenge has finally met.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-19 22:46   
    I don't think I ever had any DBX albums either. I have the feeling at one point I had a DBX cassette deck but I'm not sure. It was a long time ago. Maybe someone else had some experience with DBX. I did have alot of experience with Dolby and I'm in total agreement with Maxx's point about the drive to lower the noise floor. It's been going on for decades. Dolby certainly helped with cassettes when properly applied and the tapes sounded better. The music was clearer, more detailed and more dynamic. That and Maxx's experience with his computer based source is why I just don't buy McGowen's point. To me, surface noise doesn't make music more dynamic or sound more "live". For me when it comes to surface noise less is definitely better and I want as little of it as I can get._mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-08-19 22:48 ]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-20 15:55   

    On 2011-08-19 22:46, mykyll2727 wrote:
    For me when it comes to surface noise less is definitely better and I want as little of it as I can get._mykl




    I felt exactly the same about the surface noise when playing Vinyl Albums on my Rega P3 Turntable until I read Rega's owner say this about surface noise...''

    "If you can't stand the surface noise during playback then you're just not cut out to listen to Vinyl"

    Shortly after that I started building my i2s Bus Digital front end...

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix




    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-08-20 15:57 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-08-21 04:45   
    Maxx_He was definitely talking about me!! That's why even back in the day I was so into tape._mykl

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-08-31 03:56   
    I don't think sound reproduction has improved audibly from what was possible in 1960. We have more channels, and can make good equipment at lower cost, and some materials have been improved, but despite 50 years of claimed progress the "big" improvements don't add up to much when comparing the best of now to the best of then. S/N has improved, but I don't find that too hard to ignore with old sources.

    Video I don't see as all that improved either, with the exception that what once required a theater can now be done at much lower cost at home.

    Personally I blame the AC cords.

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-31 04:35   
    Danglerb- Your right. If all modern Audio equipment came with an ultra low resistance Single Crystal Copper conductor power cord and a Pure Copper AC Plug things would sound much better indeed!
      

    ~Maxx~



    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-09-04 21:35 ]

    jttar
    Sony Master
    Joined: Feb 28, 2003
    Posts: 9228
    From: Chicago,IL, USA
     Posted: 2011-08-31 21:36   

    On 2011-08-31 03:56, Danglerb wrote:

    Video I don't see as all that improved either, with the exception that what once required a theater can now be done at much lower cost at home.


    Hello Danglerb,

    Unless this is just another tongue in cheek comment you really need to check out a HD television. The digital signal and a 1080P display is a vast improvement in video quality.
    If you don't seriously think video displays have had only minor improvement from the old CRT days with analog signal check out the new cell phones or tablet displays that are 3D capable without using glasses. Samsung and LG are two that come to mind.

    Joe

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-31 21:37   
    Danglerb- I can understand your skepticism because it took me many years of experimentation to discover what worked well and what didn't work so well with the power cords that deliver AC Power to my Audio equipment, but all of the failures and successes worked together to give me a deeper knowledge of how the power cords which supply the AC Power that our Audio equipment uses to make every sound we hear from it can directly effect the quality of that sound in a variety of both positive and negative ways.

    I wish I could say that the successful application of AC Power for effect in my Audio System was a quick study for me, but it has taken over a decade with 100's of of experimentsand applications and yet I have learned much more in the last year than in any year previous so I am completely understanding of your doubts in that back in 2000 when I began to search for the truth about the possible benefits of AC Power delivery I had a lot to prove to myself.


    One of the most meaningful breakthroughs for me which occurred about 5 years ago was when I simply removed the molded nickel plated AC Plugs on several pieces of my Audio equipment and replaced them with some extremely non-fancy $6 Hospital Grade AC Plugs which lowered the overall resistance of the equipment's power cord and improved the sound quality of the Audio System in a very noticeable and yet budget conscious way...



    "If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward."

    Thomas A. Edison
    US inventor (1847 - 1931)

    *********

    ~Maxx~

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-08-31 18:05   
    Mine sounds twice as good, I biwire my AC.

    The back of my receiver has two AC connections, the EIA female and a Aux standard female. By making an AC cord with a male plug on both ends its possible to biwire the AC using the double male cable and a standard cable. With twice the AC power and twice the ground the improvement is incredible.

    *** Just kidding, I don't drink the cable Koolaide at all. I blame the lack of progress on the fact that consumers are gullible enough to buy items like fancy AC cables, which keeps any intelligent engineer far away from audio.

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-08-31 19:45   
    Sometimes very meaningful sonic improvements can be had for less than $10.



    ~Maxx~

      

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-08-31 21:41 ]

    David_S
    Sony Legend
    Joined: Aug 03, 2004
    Posts: 905
    From: BC, Canada
     Posted: 2011-08-31 22:52   

    On 2011-08-31 21:37, Maxxwire wrote:
    ...but all of the failures and successes worked together to give me a deeper knowledge...
    ~Maxx~

    Experimentation is the best way to learn.  The failures often help you understand why the successes work.  Once you understand why the successes work then it is easier to repeat those successes on other projects.



    -----------------
    TA- E77ES E80ES E1000ESD E9000ES TA- N77ES F555ES, ST-S730ES RM- AV3000 AX1400 (2)AX4000 STR- DA4ES DA3100ES (2)DA5700ES (2)GX10ES DVP- (3)NS999ES NS3100ES CX777ES CDP-X303ES, CDP-M555ES MDS-JA20ES, TC-K717ES, DTC-690

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-01 03:35   

    On 2011-08-31 21:36, jttar wrote:
    <blockquote>
    On 2011-08-31 03:56, Danglerb wrote:

    Video I don't see as all that improved either, with the exception that what once required a theater can now be done at much lower cost at home.


    Hello Danglerb,

    Unless this is just another tongue in cheek comment you really need to check out a HD television. The digital signal and a 1080P display is a vast improvement in video quality.
    If you don't seriously think video displays have had only minor improvement from the old CRT days with analog signal check out the new cell phones or tablet displays that are 3D capable without using glasses. Samsung and LG are two that come to mind
    .

    Joe
    </blockquote>



    Ditto for me!!!_mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-09-01 03:35 ]

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-01 03:51   

    On 2011-08-31 21:36, jttar wrote:

    On 2011-08-31 03:56, Danglerb wrote:

    Video I don't see as all that improved either, with the exception that what once required a theater can now be done at much lower cost at home.


    Hello Danglerb,

    Unless this is just another tongue in cheek comment you really need to check out a HD television. The digital signal and a 1080P display is a vast improvement in video quality.
    If you don't seriously think video displays have had only minor improvement from the old CRT days with analog signal check out the new cell phones or tablet displays that are 3D capable without using glasses. Samsung and LG are two that come to mind.

    Joe


    Sorry not to be more clear, I said video, but meant visual entertainment, with the point of reference in 1960 being film in a movie theater. Video was quite primitive locked to the NTSC standards. Now we can do visual entertainment much much cheaper, just not much better.

    3d was quite popular 100 years ago, some amazing pictures, in many ways far less of a gimmick than it is today. Cameras were common up to the 1960's, where motion and color seemed to get all the interest. New and novel often is easier to sell than quality.

    Fancy cables have been around now for about 25 years for speaker cables at least, and maybe 15 or so for AC cords, how long yall plan on selling new and improved before you get it correct and the price drops to a small premium?

    *** Sorry to poke fun at things you take seriously, perhaps its my loss that I can't. Thinking about it did lead to some pleasant surfing as I googled for an old quotation of I think Enid Lumley (a filter is a filter is a filter).

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-02 01:06   

    On 2011-09-01 22:25, jttar wrote:
    Hello Danglerb,


    <DIV style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">"Visual entertainment, with the point of reference in 1960 being film in a movie theater"?? It is still not clear to me but no matter. This thread is not to discuss how for you there has been no improvement in video, cables, AC power cords or the fact that the first 3D movies were in the 1950's and not in 1911.

    No need to be sorry about "poking fun" of those who have experienced improvements. If you cannot hear or see the difference think of the money you have saved. Instead can you offer your opinion on the original subject of this thread?

    Joe

    </DIV>


    I have experienced plenty of the improvements, I was just getting serious about audio when the high end was getting started. 30 years of big steps forward, maybe 10 generations of audio magic, each far superior to the previous generation. My observation is that instead of a cumulative vast improvement from the sum of each of those generations, we remain not far from what was possible 50 years ago.

    The original post is "why isn't it better". The answer is that our eyes and ears haven't improved, and that the technology of the 60's was adequate for transparency.

    Video is wonderful, lots of improvements, but the end result is at most marginally better than what was possible with film 50 years ago.


    -----------------
    If you can't hear the difference without seeing the difference, you can't hear the difference.

    jttar
    Sony Master
    Joined: Feb 28, 2003
    Posts: 9228
    From: Chicago,IL, USA
     Posted: 2011-09-01 22:25   
    Hello Danglerb,


    "Visual entertainment, with the point of reference in 1960 being film in a movie theater"?? It is still not clear to me but no matter. This thread is not to discuss how for you there has been no improvement in video, cables, AC power cords or the fact that the first 3D movies were in the 1950's and not in 1911. 

    No need to be sorry about "poking fun" of those who have experienced improvements. If you cannot hear or see the difference think of the money you have saved. Instead can you offer your opinion on the original subject of this thread?

    Joe 

     


    David_S
    Sony Legend
    Joined: Aug 03, 2004
    Posts: 905
    From: BC, Canada
     Posted: 2011-09-01 23:26   

    On 2011-08-18 05:25, Maxxwire wrote:


    Without a doubt modern computer based Digital Music is not only much less expensive than the early digital players, but it also sounds incredibly better!

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    SQ of home audio did stall & maybe take a step backwards for a while.  But certainly inexpensive high quality converters like the V-Link & downloadable DRM free high definition music tracks are a major leap forward for home audio.

    I fully understand the SQ advantage of 96/24 over CD, but can we really hear a difference between 192/24 & 96/24.


    -----------------
    TA- E77ES E80ES E1000ESD E9000ES TA- N77ES F555ES, ST-S730ES RM- AV3000 AX1400 (2)AX4000 STR- DA4ES DA3100ES (2)DA5700ES (2)GX10ES DVP- (3)NS999ES NS3100ES CX777ES CDP-X303ES, CDP-M555ES MDS-JA20ES, TC-K717ES, DTC-690

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-02 09:41   
    This really surprised me as I've always thought that some of the "window dressing", such as chassis of aluminum and ones that are copper plated, really improved SQ. Paul disagrees and throws out a challenge to the industry to come up with something better.



    ..Why does high-end audio equipment sound better in a cigar box than a machined chassis? Hint: it isn’t just the window dressing.

    .Our very first product, a phono preamplifier, was housed in a Roi Tan cigar box. It sounded spectacular. All production versions of this design were housed in nice aluminum chassis that looked terrific but…. They never sounded as good.

    .In all the years we have been designing audio equipment, our prototypes have always sounded better than the production versions. I know many of our fellow designers have the same experiences. I used to believe this was due to all the hand tweaking, love and attention prototypes got vs. the build-and-ship process production versions receive. I no longer believe that.

    ..We have learned that everything that makes production possible gets in the way of the sound including printed circuit boards, metal chassis, wires bundled neatly, symmetrical layouts and control circuitry for front panels. Problem is, they also add up to what’s inside every working production unit you can buy and there aren’t currently any good alternatives.

    .I remember solutions to this were all the rage at one point: Stan Warrens Plexiglas “Space Case”, Counterpoint and Sony’s all copper chassis are great examples. A hand wired point-to-point circuit will always sound better than something populated on a PC board, even the finest available.

    .I hope the younger crop of audio designers reads this and figures out a way for our industry to have its cake and eat it too, because hand wired doesn’t hold up well for today’s miniature IC’s.

    .Sometimes we have to point out what we know from our years of experience and hope a new crop of eager designers will have a flash of genius to fix it.



    If his statements are true then this just further supports my belief that some fundamental and revolutionary changes in technology and technological approaches are needed in home audio for a revolutionary improvement in amplifier SQ on an order of what we're experiencing in digital sources._mykl


    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-09-02 09:46 ]

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-09-02 10:34 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-02 10:14   
    I've given alot of thought to the "if it can't be measured then it doesn't exist and must be a product of the imagination" take on home audio. I watch programs on the "science" channels that are available on cable like "Through The Wormhole". What many of these programs show me is how little we really do know not just about the universe but about our own world too. We are discovering new things all the time and the more we know the more we realise how just how little we do know. For instance, we've discovered sub-atomic particles, that we didn't even know existed a few years ago, that act in ways that defy previously accepted physical laws. Just because a few years ago we hadn't located them didn't mean they didn't exist. What's more because they act contrary to then accepted physical laws didn't "prove" that they couldn't. Because in fact they do.


    I'm really beginning to think that in home audio there are things going on which we can hear that as of yet science hasn't explained. Maybe we don't even have the technology yet to measure or even locate them. Maybe we do but don't know what to look for to measure it. 200yrs ago just because telescopes didn't have the ability to see beyond our galaxy didn't mean that there was nothing there. In audio just because the measuring means we've been using and the ways we've been using them doesn't prove that certain "heard" aspects exist, that doesn't conclusively prove that these aspects don't exist. It's possible that they do exist and we've simply haven't located them and measured their cause and effect yet. If we assume that these aspects, that so many do perceive, don't exist then it hampers our understanding of them. That in turn hampers our ability to have better SQ._mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-09-02 10:31 ]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-02 17:39   
    _mykl- I remember very clearly when my Audio tech opened up my $1,900 Conrad-Johnson MV-52 Vacuum Tube power amp for the first time and exclaimed no! no! no! when he saw the bundles of wires that it had come with from the factory. As he started snipping wires and replacing them with shorter higher quality wires he told me that they use the much longer wires on the production line for convenience of assembly which cuts production time and saves them a lot of money.  

    One of the most significant wiring improvements my Audio tech who was the lead production tech for ModWright Industries at the time was when he took the 6" wires that CJ had used to connect the output sockets, replaced them with 1 1/2" Mogami wires and upgraded the factory RCA Sockets to the same Pure Copper RCA sockets that he was using for the ModWright equipment he was building.





    From this experience I learned that factory wiring as well as factory parts are just a starting point along the way to getting a piece of this kind of production Audio equipment to sound its very best.

    On the subject which you brought up concerning measurements here's something I picked up over at Mastering Engineer Steve Hoffman's website years ago...

    "...if we can hear it but we can’t measure it, then we should be thinking about getting some better measurements..."

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-02 18:37   
    Maxx_I totally agree with Steve's statement. A few weeks ago while surfing the net I came across a fairly recent thread regarding Mike VansEvers. I won't go into a long description but it started with a guy asking if there was anything to Mike's claims about Resonance Tuning. We both know, as do many others, the "resistance" Mike has encountered. There were a few believers and many detractors. What shocked me was the animosity so many of the naysayers displayed. They defended their venomous attacks saying that Mike's claims went against "physics". Yet not once did they explain or describe the "physics" that he supposedly was in contradiction of. I'm quite confident if asked to they would be unable to do so. They are simply cloaking their unwillingness to accept the possibilty of something that's not in their present realm of understanding by claiming knowledge of what is, rather than having any real knowledge or understanding of what actually exists. Their ignorance is what they profess to be knowledge._mykl

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-02 19:31   
    "...if we can hear it but we can’t measure it, then we should be thinking about getting some better measurements..."

    Read more: http://www.agoraquest.com/viewtopic.php?topic=39019&forum=51&start=90&select_page_number=7#ixzz1WqAnQaoc

    Hearing is how we enjoy hifi, the catch is to keep hearing "honest".

    Two things keep hearing honest;

    Don't allow anything but audio in the testing, no visual or other cues.

    Measurement to reveal the existence and nature of any changes to the signal.

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-03 01:52   

    On 2011-09-02 22:55, Maxxwire wrote:

    I am also an ardent proponent of honest listening evaluation. Could you please reveal and reference the make(s) and model(s) of the equipment that you use to take scientifically accurate measurements of the existence and precise nature of these sonic attributes revealed through honest listening sessions as described above with respect to the evaluation of sonic improvements in Audio Systems?

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix


    I use my ears. Dangerous I know, but I like it on the edge.

    On a very rare occasion I might drag out a scope or DMM to check for some kind of gross issues, clipping, signal levels when combined with a PC generating digital or analog test signals. Mostly I will use the DMM to check voltages or continuity, maybe break out the old Technics warble tone generator and spl meter.

    If something makes my ears happy, and I am satisfied that my listening tests were sufficiently free of non audio cues, then it depends on the nature of what I am doing making me curious enough to pursue the techy side of it. Much of it could be very difficult to measure what is going on.

    How would I go about measuring the effects of AC power cords? Approached as a measurement problem its going to be very complex, even for a bare investigation of the basics. Much easier to make the listening tests as clean as possible, then decide how important it is to know whats going on.


    -----------------
    If you can't hear the difference without seeing the difference, you can't hear the difference.

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-02 22:55   

    On 2011-09-02 19:31, Danglerb wrote:

    Two things keep hearing honest;

    Don't allow anything but audio in the testing, no visual or other cues.

    Measurement to reveal the existence and nature of any changes to the signal.




    I agree that one must be rigorously honest in the evaluations of sonic improvements. As an Audio enthusiast refines the sound quality of his Audio System by making improvements such as upgrading Audio equipment and speakers, getting equipment for an ultra low jitter 24 bit Digital bitstream or upgrading weak links in the Audio System's Analog and Digital signal transfer or  the results are no longer experienced or expressed in simple terms such as 'more detail' and 'better bass', but rather as these more advanced upgrades manifest themselves more complicated terms are required to honestly and accurately quantify their true sonic effect such as

    - Degree of improvement in both micro and macro detailing.

    - The change noted in the quantity of air around the instruments.


    - The degree of accuracy with regard to the placement of both voices and instruments within the soundstage,

    - The accuracy of the definition of an acoustical space as well as any improvement or degradation in the representation of the ambience of that acoustical space.

    I am also an ardent proponent of honest listening evaluation. Could you please reveal and reference the make(s) and model(s) of the equipment that you use to take scientifically accurate measurements of the existence and precise nature of these sonic attributes revealed through honest listening sessions as described above with respect to the evaluation of sonic improvements in Audio Systems?

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-03 03:45   

    On 2011-09-03 01:52, Danglerb wrote:


    I use my ears. Dangerous I know, but I like it on the edge.

    How would I go about measuring the effects of AC power cords? Approached as a measurement problem its going to be very complex, even for a bare investigation of the basics. Much easier to make the listening tests as clean as possible, then decide how important it is to know whats going on.




    I also prefer to use my ears for the evaluation of upgrades to my Audio System preferably in total darkness inside my Auralex Studiofoam treated listening room.

    Interesting that you should mention measurements and the effect of AC Power cords because one night last June just before my Audio tech straight-wired the Furutech FP Alpha 3 OCC Single Crystal Copper power cord into the power supply of my Sony DB 930 Receiver which I have owned for almost 12 years he measured the resistance of the new power cord and promptly exclaimed "This measures .02 ohms and the lowest measurement of a power cord I have seen over the last 35 years in this profession was .05 ohms! You've got to let me know what this sounds like on your Receiver!"

    I hadn't really paid much too attention to the measured resistance spec of the Furutech Alpha 3 power cord as I was more focused on its hot mold continuous cast Single Crystal Copper conductors which are made of Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) Copper which process yields single crystals of high purity Copper which have been measured as long as 750 feet. Compared to the average grade of TPC Copper commonly found in most power cords which has an average of 5,000 crystals per foot the Single Crystal OCC Copper is like a super freeway for the electrons that travel over it.

    When my Audio tech gave the Furutech Alpha 3 power cord such a glowing remark of approval with regards to its unprecedented ultra low resistance measurement which was less than 1/2 of what he had ever measured before I attributed it to its Single Crystal Copper conductors which he had also never seen before.

    This Furutech Alpha 3 power cord with its FI-28 AC plug is the one and only upgrade on the $600 1999 Sony DB 930 which was a gift from a friend of mine for designing and setting up his Home Theater although over a period of 9 of years I had spent $1,000's and $1,000's doing 100's of upgrades to my Vacuum Tube Audio System...



    For 9 years the $25,000 Reference Stereo System with its Conrad-Johnson Vacuum Tube power amp and Counterpoint Tube/FET preamp and their i2s Bus Digital front end sounded so much better than the factory stock Sony DB 930 Receiver that I never even considered that there would ever be a hope of it sounding better than the Vacuum Tube Reference System.



    ...but the Continuous Cast Copper technology which created the 21st Century Furutech Alpha 3 power cord provided just what the DB 930 needed to become my new Reference Audio System by achieving levels of sound quality that far surpass those of the much more expensive 20th century Vacuum Tube Audio System.

    I now have a much greater understanding about why my Audio tech was so shocked by the Furutech Alpha 3 power cords' unprecedentedly low resistance measurement and why he was so interested in how it effected the sound of the DB 930 Receiver which in hind sight should have been the very first indication that something like this might happen.

    Thanks to the Furutech Alpha 3 Single Crystal Copper power cord I now have something that I've been dreaming about having ever since I got my first Sony Receiver back in 1980 and that was to be able to find a way to enable a Sony Receiver to sound far better than all of the 100's of pieces of $uper expen$ive Audio gear that I have auditioned and after all this time trying I finally got the sonic Giant Killer of my dreams in the Sony DB 930.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix


    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-03 13:54   
    All grades of copper wire in the same gauge have essentially the same resistance per foot, so I doubt the wire resistance was a factor, but if I were to investigate I would rule out nothing.

    It reminds me of a conversation with some friends that from time to time liked to try things. One a lifetime audiophile, and the other a scopes and meters engineer who would build various things to the formers specification and hang around to hear what the results might be.

    One experiment was to improve the capacitors in a power supply for a low power preamp stage. Various better grade caps were tried, and then larger sizes of capacitors. What surprised them both was that the improved sound didn't appear to have an upper limit, each time the capacitance was doubled the sound got better., until it just wasn't practical to hook up more or larger capacitors than the outboard chassis that was used to mod the old Stereo 400 amps with something like a dozen big computer grade caps in each box.

    Again what exactly was going on was hard to say, but everything they built after that got the biggest PS that was practical to use.

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-03 17:00   

    On 2011-09-03 13:54, Danglerb wrote:
    All grades of copper wire in the same gauge have essentially the same resistance per foot.




    I have spent many hours hanging around my Audio Tech's shop where I have seen examples of the countless makes and models of high end Audio gear that he has been making a living repairing over the last 35+ years plus a collection of the ModWight gear that he built from scratch and although he had never heard of OCC Single Crystal Copper before he is the one who first told me about the ultra low measured resistance of the Furutech Alpha 3 power cord and that he expected that measurement would translate into better performance and sound quality for my DB 930 Receiver.

    Since then I have heard the improvements in sound quality that my Audio tech predicted so I feel that I will trust his prediction based on his direct measurement and my subsequent listening evaluations over the last 3 months which are indirect contradiction of your theory which may be correct concerning traditional cold mold cast conductor power cords and their similar resistance to wires of the same gauge, but as my Audio tech was shocked to find out that his measurement the OCC Single Crystal Copper conductor in the Furutech Alpha 3 power cord was 250% lower than he had ever measured in any other power cord over his 35+year career in Audio electronics.

    There is a whole new generation of OCC Single Crystal Copper Copper wires out there that shatter those 20th century parameters of measurement and as curiosity led my Audio tech to measure the resistance of the Furutech Alpha 3 power cord just before he installed it on my DB 930 and as a result he got an instant update as to just how much lower resistance measurements 21st century State of the Art hot mold continuous cast Single Crystal Copper conductor power cords can achieve compared to the 250% higher resistance measurements of same gauge traditional 20th Century cold mold cast conductor power cords.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-04 00:14   
    I have no idea regarding your tech and his comments. 10 feet of normal buy it at Home Depot 12 gauge wire has 0.016 ohms of resistance. 10 gauge is about half that.

    OCC wire is classed as between 102% and 103% of ASTM (standard for conductivity in 99.9% copper wire). Good copper wire for electrical use is typically better than 101% ASTM.

    That isn't why I doubt the issue is resistance, its that the effect isn't just small, its kind of static and linear, and dynamic nonlinear things usually cause more trouble.

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-04 03:25   
      

    These are the specs that Furutech gives for their bulk FP Alpha 3 Single Crystal Copper power cord that I used to build the DB 930's new power cord.  

    Thank you for offering up that information about the known resistance value of other wire. I had been wondering about the absolute value of my Tech's measurement because at the time my Tech took his measurement of the DB 930's Single Crystal Coper power cord I already knew the above information and that the Furutech's specs called for a 6' length of this power cord to have 0.0097 ohms of resistance, but he must measure resistance in a consistently different manner because the .02 ohms he measured at was 2.5 times less than all of the other power cords he measured at .05 ohms. It has occurred to me that he may be measuring the total resistance of the hot and the return wire. The next time I see him I will make sure to ask about that I'm sure that he will have an explanation that none of us have even considered.

    There is a much more influential dimension to explaining the enhanced performance of modern high efficiency Single Crystal Copper wire that differentiates it from traditional cold mold cast wire and that is the new techniques of hot mold continuous casting which was invented in Japan about 25 years ago and offers a different explanation for the superior performance of Single Crystal Copper in terms of the linearity of its crystalline structure...







    This information about the very refined crystalline structure of hot mold continuous cast Single Crystal Copper goes a long way to explaining the vastly superior performance of the Furutech FP Alpha 3 Single Crystal Copper power cord where the Ohno Continuous Casting method has provided very highly efficient conductors for the improved flow of electricity compared to the high grain boundary count of traditional cold mold cast Copper.




    Modern Hot Mold Ohno Continuous Casting Equipment

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix


    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-09-07 16:00 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-04 14:47   
    This post from Paul McGowen came today and I felt really touched on my original questions. I'm looking forward to his future posts on this subject.



    Push, pull or drag

    When it comes to implementing or even inventing new technology how does the High-End industry react? Are we pushed, pulled or dragged?

    It is different for each company.

    For example, pushing the latest technology is something PS Audio and a few other forward thinking companies do – we are in the minority. The mainstream high-end companies implement new technology only when there’s enough customer demand to pull it through the system; they represent the majority. Traditionalist companies add technology only when forced into it by lagging sales and are dragged along – they too are in the minority. So we have a nice bell curve that represents the tech implementation trend with the majority in the “wait and see” camp.

    I bring this up not to pass judgment, but to point out there are both benefits and pitfalls to each company’s strategy for implementing new technology. Being first isn’t always a good idea, nor is being one of many making the same product – but sometimes it’s exactly what you want. So this begs the question for both customers and manufacturers alike: what’s your strategy and why?

    As a customer, what’s your buying strategy? Do you always go to the latest greatest, wait for everyone else to buy in, or go into something only after being dragged by circumstances?

    And the the same question applies to manufacturers: do you create new, go along with new only after it’s safe, or wait till there’s no other choice?

    These questions are not new, they actually describe a well known curve about early adopters, but I do think this is a subject not explored enough in high-end audio circles.

    I certainly don’t have any magic answers but I do think this is a topic worthy of further discussion. In the next few posts, we’ll take a look at some of the history and perhaps a few case studies to get you thinking.

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-04 16:49   
    What I find curiously missing in Paul McGowen's message is that its about technology without any reference to the sound.

    Seems pretty simple to me, listen to the new technology and decide how you like the sound, then consider where the technology is going and whether or not its something you want to or can buy now versus waiting until the technology is a bit more mature.

    Lack of consensus among manufacturers regarding the value of various technologies is part of their reluctance to adopt new technology, but I suspect the driving factor is that what the buying public will prefer can't be predicted until some magazines tell them what sounds good. If a speaker maker uses some special wire, and it gets poor reviews or just not as good of reviews as others.

    There is also a clear effort in the high end industry to "leave room" for the specialists, so speakers don't ship with cables, etc.

    A final point is that many audio products are like a stew, where the designer combines the various parts available to him to achieve a desired character. Changing one part could require reconsideration of many parts to compensate or accommodate for the new part and keep the desired character.


    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-05 00:16   
    As a consumer I've been guilty of using all of the push, pull, drag, strategies at various times when it comes to audio. I most often fall into the wait and see camp. Because I don't have a lot of bucks I tend to wait and see how something has succeeded before taking the plunge. Recently my decision for processing upgrade is a result of being dragged. But my decision to go with my S-Master pro receivers was in the push camp. If I had waited to see I would've never tried them as they didn't "catch on". In that instance I'm glad I took the plunge._mykl

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-05 01:17   
    I didn't think of it until after I hit return, but high end is a mix of business and personality. Nobody in the trade can really afford to offend or too openly support anybody else. If a store sells brand A, that may open the door to them selling brand B, and close the door to C and D. Many ideas have patents, or trademarks associated, so its not just a question of is the new idea good, but can I get a license to use it and what will that license cost. Thats the main issue with HDMI, DTS, etc.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-15 18:06   
    I found Paul mcGowen's latest post very appropriate. Personally I'm in agreement. I also concur with Steve Hoffman and feel that if we can hear it but can't measure it then we need to find better means of measure.


    Just because

    Just because you can’t measure something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    Just because you observe something doesn’t mean you understand how to measure and repeat it.

    We get confused a lot between the observations we make, the measurements we use to try and quantify those observations and the conclusions we draw from it all.

    For example, when a listener observes a change in sound they can conclude it sounds better or worse based on those observations but not much more.

    When a measurement based objectivist can’t measure anything that supports the listener’s observations, all that can be concluded is the measurements aren’t complete enough to do the job.

    Neither can legitimately draw an accurate conclusion that explains the results.

    In Brad Paulson’s insightful article Simple is better, he observes that simple crossovers in loudspeakers sound more musical than complex ones; despite the measurements that support the latter. What can we conclude from this?

    I think the only meaningful conclusions are that our observations are not supported by the measurements so we need to change the measurements.

    Observations almost always trump measurements.

    Just ask any physicist.

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-15 18:37   
    _mykl- Thank you for sharing another one of Paul's very useful messages with us! Over the years I have come to the same conclusion about the supreme value that observation plays in finding ways of improving the performance and sound quality of Audio Systems.

    I did want to repost my statement that was taken from the Steve Hoffman Forums...


    On 2011-09-02 17:39, Maxxwire wrote:

    On the subject which you brought up concerning measurements here's something I picked up over at Mastering Engineer Steve Hoffman's website years ago...

    "...if we can hear it but we can’t measure it, then we should be thinking about getting some better measurements..."



    It was not Steve Hoffman himself, but a member at his website who made this comment which very well may have been tongue-in-cheek .  I'm not sure whether they ever found those measurements or not because there are many sonic manifestations within the excellently recorded Music that Steve Hoffman Masters that can be observed like the recreation of the ambiance of the original recording venue which infers the physical parameters of that venue, but no to equipment yet exists to make measurements from a recording.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-15 18:53   
    Whether it was tongue in cheek or not I'm in absolute agreement. "Out of the mouths of fools". I went to college to study physics and I'm still fascinated by it. They're discovering new "things" all the time and in alot of these circumstances new methods of detecting them were needed. With everything being discovered (in particular with regard to energy) advancements and greater understanding can't be made by relying on methods or thinking of the past. To truly understand the "going ons" of the world around us new methods and thinking are required. Great advancements are being made with regard to innate human awareness of our surroundings. Alot of these new findings have to do with our aural perceptions. If we accept the "status quo" with regard to measurements we will be stuck in a quagmire of ignorance._mykl

    Maxxwire
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    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-15 19:45   
    Yes, just like Paul McGowen said in this last message you shared with us entitled Just Because...


    "Just because you can’t measure something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Observations almost always trump measurements. Just ask any physicist."

    You said "If we accept the "status quo" with regard to measurements we will be stuck in a quagmire of ignorance"


    I agree . The advancements in Digital electronics are rocketing us into the future of Computer Audio and I'm sure that there were many new measurements involved in the development of it. I'm just agreeing with Paul that the ramifications of that progress in terms of each individual who would wish to evaluate the sound quality of these profound new breakthroughs in Digital Audio may find themselves hearing things that science has not yet created a way to measure as accurately as a keen observation by a trained pair of human ears as Paul alluded to in his message.  
    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-15 20:42   
    I think that eventually science will prove that many things audio enthusiasts claim to hear are not simply figments of their imaginations but do indeed actually exist. My feeling is what's needed are curious and open minds._mykl

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-15 21:54   

    On 2011-09-15 20:42, mykyll2727 wrote:
    I think that eventually science will prove that many things audio enthusiasts claim to hear are not simply figments of their imaginations but do indeed actually exist. My feeling is what's needed are curious and open minds._mykl


    I totally agree, and you can thank Ben Franklin for the science used to prove such claims, but the chances of opening the minds of most audiophiles to the accepted methods of comparison for the last two centuries does not seem promising.

    "The first recorded blind experiments were performed in 1784 by the French Academy of Sciences, which set up a commission to investigate the claims of animal magnetism proposed by Franz Mesmer. Headed by Benjamin Franklin and Antoine Lavoisier, the commission carried out experiments asking mesmerists to identify objects that had previously been filled with "vital fluid", including trees and flasks of water. The subjects were unable to do so."

    Progress depends on the speed and reliability of comparisons. If I design a new amplifier there might be hundreds of steps where choices need to be made between components or configuration before I have a product ready for market. Assuming I bumble my way to a prototype how do I know if I should mortgage the house and go into production? There currently is NO reliable way to access quality in audiophile products, you submit for review and let the dice roll.


    -----------------
    If you can't hear the difference without seeing the difference, you can't hear the difference.

    [ This message was edited by: Danglerb on 2011-09-15 21:55 ]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-15 23:45   

    On 2011-09-15 20:42, mykyll2727 wrote:
    I think that eventually science will prove that many things audio enthusiasts claim to hear are not simply figments of their imaginations but do indeed actually exist. My feeling is what's needed are curious and open minds.



    I also have hope that science will someday be able to prove that the many amazing things that we have discussed having heard from the Audio Systems that we have each so carefully built over these many years are not after all simply figments of our imaginations but do indeed actually exist. Not to prove listeners right, but in hope that scientists may discover ever expanding manifestations of aural phenomenon.  

    I also agree that we need to stay curious and keep an open mind because after having not upgraded my Audio equipment in several years over just the last year I have upgraded almost every piece of equipment in my Audio System with innovations that were not available in the past, but made available just this year and at some amazingly low prices. Fortunately after so many years of building my Audio System and and being able to carefully listening to it in my listening room which has been carefully treated with professional grade Auralex Pyramid Studioam to evaluate the results of the changes that were made and since I know exactly what I am currently looking for in the way of improved sound quality my Audio System now sounds incredibly better than it ever did since 1980 with the 2011 upgraded equipment purchased at a small fraction of the cost of the equipment it replaced! I can't wait to see all of the new forward thinking Audio technology that will be released in 2012!



    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-09-15 23:49 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-16 13:14   
    This is Paul's follow-up to yesterday's post



    The scientist

    As a follow up to yesterday’s post Just because, a few readers wrote to me defending both sides of their worldview of how things work.

    The objectivists reiterated “observations are not accepted fact until you can measure them” and the Observationalists wrote to say “if I can repeatedly observe the same thing then it must be correct”. Both are right, both are incomplete.

    When a scientist wants to declare something as a fact, here’s the process they go through: observe, theorize, measure, repeat.

    We observe something, we make a guess as to why it’s happening (called a theory) and then we go about trying to prove, in a repeatable manner, that we’re correct. If we can do this, then it becomes a “fact.”

    What gets people’s hair up on end is when we claim one or the other is wrong, without all four elements finalized, based on our view of the “facts.”

    When George Louis, the Polarity Pundit, proclaims that changing the absolute polarity of tracks has a major sonic benefit – that’s an observation. When George declares why this has an audible effect, that is a theory, not a fact.

    When I write (in the article It’s just wire) that wire can only subtract energy and cannot add it, that’s a measurable fact. When I go on to say bass is subjectively greater or less, that’s an observation and something no one has yet measured. A guess as to why that might be observed is a theory.

    It’s probably helpful to the debate to separate observations, theories and facts from one another.

    Keeps the heat of arguments lower.

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-16 17:25   
    _mykl- Thanks for sharing yet another great message from Paul McGowen. Once again I think he is very correct in saying...

    "It’s probably helpful to the debate to separate observations, theories and facts from one another. Keeps the heat of arguments lower."

    After all we have been discussing Home Audio here for over 10 years and in the 9 of those years that I have participated I do not remember anyone who planned on submitting their personal observations concerning the changes in the sound quality of their personal Audio Systems to a Nobel committee for potential selection as a Nobel Prize laureate so I think it was very wise of Paul to suggest separating the debates one from the other where observations and theories would be continued on this thread and other topics of debate over the completely different burden of proof for facts could be relegated to its own dedicated thread.

    As Paul McGowen so aptly pointed out this separation of debates "Keeps the heat of argument lower" and we could return to yoyr original and very provoking subject of "21st century sound quality of home audio. Why isn't better? that you initiated last June.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix







    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974! [IMG]http://i468.photobucket.com/albums/rr44/Maxxwire_Photos/AQ/N.png[/IMG] [url=http://www.agoraquest.com/viewtopic.php?topic=26561&forum=51&start=540&select_page_number=37]The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930[/url]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-16 17:25   
    _mykl's introduction of this "21st century sound quality of home audio. Why isn't better?" Thread this last June has proven to be quite prophetic of the changes in my own Audio System in that within the last 10 months I have retired my $25,000 Vacuum Tube Audio System in favor of anew configuration that has a sound quality that is incredibly better than I ever even hoped the traditional Vacuum Tubes could over 9 years of development.

    This new and improved Audio System is composed almost entirely of equipment and wiring which has been available just within those last 10 months which include the parts for the DIY AC Power Delivery Upgrades for my DB 930 Receiver and the $169 Music Fidelity V-Link 24/96 Asynchronous USB-S/PDIF Converter which was released this last March and its Revelation Audio Labs 'Prophecy' CryoSilver Reference Dual Conduit USB 2.0 Digital Link Cable which is also a recently released design.

    I can't say if this Thread of _mykl's effected the rapid development of my Audio System in such a State of the Art Asynchronous way, but he does have a point about the lack progress with regard to the lack luster performance of modern Audio gear and since he brought this very poignant point across to us these upgrades most which as I said have just been released within the last 10 months have enabled my $600 1999 Sony DB 930 Receiver to sound so much better than my $25,000 Vacuum Tube Audio System that I have officially retired it.

    This experience has enlightened me as to just how much better Music playback can be in this modern era and for a small fraction of the cost of good quality playback with the much more expensive traditional Audio equipment that I used for so many years.

    ~Maxx~





    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-16 18:19   
    It does seem that perhaps I was being a bit prophetic, although completely unintentionally. But I did remark in the very beginniing that advancements were being made in the digital front end arena. But mostly I was refering to formats although I've always felt that the now seemingly passed over iLink was a notable exception. I'm thrilled at what's happening in the computer audio front. Recent advancements are definitely delivering audiophile, even iLink, quality sound. And it's being done at budget level prices which IMO is just fantastic. Because of it's affordabilty I think it'll bring the high end sound experience to so many more people than going down the old high-end separates path would've. Now you don't need to be one of the well-heeled to have great SQ. Because of this I'm hoping ( and I believe it will) that it'll steer more talent and innovations toward our hobby. Maybe that'll cause a true revolution in amplifier and speaker design and SQ. Even though I have that considerable financial investment in my amp I would gladly welcome having equal or even superior amp SQ available for a fraction of the cost. I think it would be awesome to have something on the order of what you have from your computer. For a few hundred dollars you've been able to perhaps even improve on what my $3000 XA9000ES delivers thru iLink. Imagine having something simliar w/regard to amps and or speakers. Getting the equivalent performance of say a $10k amp for a few hundred dollars. I think that would cause a real explosion in the home audio arena.


    PS_ I had an encounter with some speakers over the weekend that was a truly eye-opening experience w/regard to high-end speakers and their cost. I'll post it on the off-topic thread._mykl  

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-09-16 18:25 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-18 11:54   
    How about a pair or even a single speaker that accurately reproduces the sound of an orchestra of speakers. Why don't we have something on that order? I agree that in particular high-end audio tech has been fairly stagnant for decades while prices have skyrocketed to keep pace with the ever and rapidly increasing wealth of the rich. I saw a listing for a pair of $500k speakers. What do you get for your 1/2 mil. They're based on the same tech as my $200 a pr. K90EDs which are in turn based on tech that's been around for decades. Oh sure you 2 get aluminum cabinets that weigh in excess of a ton but aluminum isn't some new invention. Speaker makers may not have been, or maybe they were, using aluminum cabinets 40 yrs ago but the core tech is the same as what was available over 40yrs ago. For your $500k shouldn't you get a pair of speakers that sound like an orchestra of speakers. Or better yet exactly like an orchestra? Given the tech they're based on I'm sure they don't. What you really get is some speakers that look rather unique, weigh a ton and cost $1/2 mil. To me that's not some major leap in tech or SQ. It just simply shows how much money some people have to spend and that if you have the $ someone will come up with something for you to spend it on._mykl

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-17 05:32   

    On 2011-09-16 13:14, mykyll2727 wrote:
    This is Paul's follow-up to yesterday's post

    [SIZE=14px]The objectivists reiterated “observations are not accepted fact until you can measure them” and the Observationalists wrote to say “if I can repeatedly observe the same thing then it must be correct”. Both are right, both are incomplete.



    Such a cliche of a strawman. Measurement has nothing to do with the current dilemma in audio, its about well known and well proven limits in perceptual testing that totally discredit non blind testing.

    What is so difficult about requiring audio comparison to be based solely on audio?

    Listen under any conditions you want, except for knowing if it is the new device or a reference.

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-18 02:00   

    On 2011-06-28 14:05, mykyll2727 wrote:
        Video technology has made so many advancements in the last 10-15yrs that it makes me feel like such an anachronism. HD, 3D, BluRay, flat screens, streaming, wireless and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Yet it seems to me audio is lagging far behind in technology and perhaps more importantly sound quality. IMO with the exceptions of source media (the disc etc.) and DSP (which IMO is mostly geared to enhancing the video experience) audio tech and SQ hasn't advanced very far in the last 40+yrs.

       Many audiophiles choose to go with tubes and vinyl feeling that it sounds better than today's tech. Most amplifier and speaker designs are essentially the same as those from the '70s. Sure there are improvements in the quality of materials and design of some parts yet still high quality products in these areas from the '70s can more than hold their own against today's units. There's no question that my viewing experience today is light years ahead of what it was in 1980. No comparison what so ever! Try to convince and get a videophile to use the same units and tech from 1980 because his viewing experience will be better than what he can have today.LOL. But the truth is a high quality stereo system from the same time period will stand up quite well against today's. When it comes to recreating the live experience video has come so far in the last decade or so, yet music reproduction is at best is only slightly better than 30yrs ago. There are many using vintage amplifiers, some from the '70s, not just for nostalgia but because they still sound great compared to today's. Heck Klipsch has been making the same speaker model (with some parts upgrades) for 60+yrs and it still sells well. I think that speaks volumes as to the SQ of today's home audio. What I wonder about is why? Any opinions?

          Maybe my opinion is askewed. Maybe there's stuff out there I'm unaware of and I'm uniformed and ignorant of the audio tech of today and it's resultant SQ. If so please educate me. I would love to know your opinions on the state of SQ of today's audio._mykl


    I agree. IMHO the effort of the last 40 years hasn't been to improve SQ, its been to make money selling something less, but more convenient to the masses, and its been very effective. Midfi equipment has improved a great deal, gotten smaller, more efficient, and cheaper. The high end is what is disappointing, and seems to mostly have wiggled around the same level of SQ while increasing in price, size, etc.

    The high end is full of good ideas, new materials, and ambitious engineers, but no desire to offend the cash cow that feeds it with testing that identifies the things that we can hear, and allows us to discard those we don't hear.

    sterling1
    Sony Addict
    Joined: Nov 16, 2010
    Posts: 237
    From: Louisville, KY
     Posted: 2011-09-18 07:02   
    Here's what I know for sure, my HT sounds better than the mono AM radio in my 1963 VW. How I'd go about improving the sound on that radio would first off involve replacing speakers, adding FM stereo, and increasing  amplification. But, isn't this true of any system? Seems to me we could all perceive realization of better sound  with more science coming out of the multi-channel, mult-transducer, multi-microphone arena. Give me an orchestra of speakers. Yeah, that will do it.

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-18 03:16   
    While it is true that there are plenty of greedy Audio equipment manufacturers making a product with minimal improvements in sound quality at an overinflated pricepoint and others who make convenient devices that deliver low quality compressed Audio to customers who can not tell the difference and yet there are a few Audio equipment makers out there that continue to strive to make a product that excels in sound quality which they sell for a very modest price.    

    Last month I bought a State of the Art Musical Fidelity Digital Asynchronous USB Digital processor for $169 that has very successfully replaced the $7,700 Digital processor which had essentially the same function in my Audio System for the last 11 years and not only is this new Asynchronous 24/96 Digital processor 22X more affordable, but it also has much higher resolution and sounds absolutely fantastic compared to my old $7,700 i2s Bus Digital front end in my acoustically treated and tuned listening room where the details of the Music are clearly revealed in its Time Smear-free listening environment.

    Even though there are a multitude of high-end Audio equipment makers who offer minimally improved products at unbelievably high prices ever since the days of Audio Alchemy's budget priced Dac Man and Dac in the Box D/A Converters of 20 years ago there have always been a few companies with a business model that offered very high functioning Audio equipment which has an excellently improved sound quality at a very reasonable price and fortunately some of these producers of moderately priced Giant Killer Audio equipment have survived to the present.

    ~Maxx~

      

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-09-18 05:41 ]

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-18 16:06   
    There is a guy I know here in SoCal with some amazing equipment in his home, but most incredible is the realistic orchestral sound he gets from a pair of old Bozak speakers located on the hillside behind his house. At night the illusion is very convincing.

    Nothing on the hardware end of audio can compare to a really well sorted room, especially a big one, like 20x30 ft or more. Unfortunately not an option for many.

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-18 16:39   

    On 2011-09-18 11:54, mykyll2727 wrote:
    It just simply shows how much money some people have to spend and that if you have the $ someone will come up with something for you to spend it on._mykl



    You're right this upper crust of High-End Audio manufacturers exists because someone must cater to the Audio needs obscenely rich. This is also why there are upper crust Auto makers that make brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini to serve the needs of this same group of obscenely rich people.

    I used to go down to the Local Audio Shop and audition this kind of very expensive gear every week and I soon discovered that it did not sound any better than the much less expensive Audio equipment I had at home. Then came the real shocker when I read a Stereophile Magazine interview with a top executive of one of these upper crust High-End Audio manufacturing companies and he finally owned up to the truth and said...

    'On the average every High-End Audio equipment manufacturer spends 40% of the cost of developing a new piece of gear on making it 'look' expensive'.

    This is why ever since then I have gravitated toward the 'no frills' tech driven kind of gear where they use cutting edge technology on the inside and the same casing for every piece of the Audio gear in their line-up. It certainly does not look anywhere even close to 'expensive' but the sound quality that it has brought to my Audio System has become truly priceless to me.

    ~Maxx~





    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-17 06:00   


    Both Recording Engineers and Mastering Engineers rely on their professionally trained hearing to perform their job of producing high quality Music without the need for blind listening tests. When highly accurate listening must be done on a professional level these seasoned professionals all know that they can rely upon high quality acoustics treatments in their work environment for the enhanced aural perception that their job depends on.

    ~Maxx~

      

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-17 19:21   

    On 2011-09-17 06:00, Maxxwire wrote:


    Both Recording Engineers and Mastering Engineers rely on their professionally trained hearing to perform their job of producing high quality Music without the need for blind listening tests. When highly accurate listening must be done on a professional level these seasoned professionals all know that they can rely upon high quality acoustics treatments in their work environment for the enhanced aural perception that their job depends on.

    ~Maxx~

      


    How does this apply to our discussion of audio improvements?

    Studios don't use blind testing because they are objectivists accepting any equipemnt that is reliable and measures well. Coloration, distortion, and any enhancements are left to the talent as matters of taste.

    Our discussion is about the use of blind testing when conventional measurement fails, not when its totally accepted as gospel.

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-17 21:27   

    On 2011-09-17 19:21, Danglerb wrote:


    Our discussion is about the use of blind testing.



    As a matter of fact the discussion on this thread for the first 8 pages was concerning _mykl's original theme of '21st century sound quailty of home audio. Why isn't better?', but you have made every effort to hijack the thread and convolute the subject of discussion into a debate over the completely unrelated subject of blind testing.

    The highest levels of distortion are not produced by the Audio equipment itself, but is created from the time the sound leaves the speakers and gets distorted by the room's acoustics which cause the exact same sound to reach the listener's ear from different directions at slightly staggered times by the time it reaches the listener's ear and this Time Smear Effect severely limits the accuracy of the listener's perceptions.  

    My point is that if critical and comparative listening is not done in an environment that has been corrected acoustically with treatments such as Auralex Studiofoam to provide the most reliably accurate listening evaluation possible then the listener is able to hear and evaluate the Music playback from any Audio equipment in a truly accurate and meaningful way for the first time because any listening evaluation done in a room without high quality acoustic treatments has been flawed and is defined as less than truly accurate by the distortion of the acoustics of the room in which the listening evaluations were done.



    The only way to listen and know exactly what the Music sounds like without the distortions and Time Smear characteristics caused by poor room acoustics is to acoustically tune the room to eliminate the time distortions otherwise you're just guessing at what you're listening to really sounds like regardless of the listening method.

    ~Maxx~


      

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-17 22:51   
    To the poor folks who are reading this mundane discourse- I just wanted to clarify that the need for the supreme accuracy in aural perception which is facilitated by the use of acoustic room treatments like the Auralex Studiofoam is most often used by Recording and Mastering engineers where the highest level of listening acuity are mandatory.

    When I first began using acoustic treatments in my listening room for the first time I was able to clearly hear the difference between the 16, 18, 20, and 24 bit output resolution of my Audio Alchemy DTI Pro 32 Digital processor. Although I had owned it for several months I knew that the different bitrates existed, but until I acoustically treated my listening room I was unable to clearly and effortlessly hear the difference between them.

    That said, I certainly never meant to infer that room treatments required to enjoy Music and Movies in ones home unless of course you're interested in hearing some ultra-fine detail like the bit rates I was just talking about. I only brought up the subject to point out that when it comes to employing the very highest level of technical listening capability as the Audio professionals who must be able to hear the very finest details in creating the recordings and soundtracks acoustic treatments like Auralex Studiofoam provide them with the corrected acoustic environment that enables them to do the most professional job of listening comprehension possible with no doubts as to its accuracy.

    In the final analysis its not the method, but rather the absolute accuracy of listening that is most important.

    ~Maxx~

      

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-17 23:11   
    Lets revisit this earlier post of_mykl's and see if Paul McGowan of PS Audio's thoughts and intent expressed here will get hi-jacked again...

         Posted: 2011-09-15 18:06

    I found Paul mcGowen's latest post very appropriate. Personally I'm in agreement. I also concur with Steve Hoffman and feel that if we can hear it but can't measure it then we need to find better means of measure.


    Just because


    Just because you can’t measure something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    Just because you observe something doesn’t mean you understand how to measure and repeat it.

    We get confused a lot between the observations we make, the measurements we use to try and quantify those observations and the conclusions we draw from it all.

    For example, when a listener observes a change in sound they can conclude it sounds better or worse based on those observations but not much more.

    When a measurement based objectivist can’t measure anything that supports the listener’s observations, all that can be concluded is the measurements aren’t complete enough to do the job.

    Neither can legitimately draw an accurate conclusion that explains the results.

    In Brad Paulson’s insightful article Simple is better, he observes that simple crossovers in loudspeakers sound more musical than complex ones; despite the measurements that support the latter. What can we conclude from this?

    I think the only meaningful conclusions are that our observations are not supported by the measurements so we need to change the measurements.

    Observations almost always trump measurements.

    Just ask any physicist.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-19 01:48   
    Maxx_I read in a press release on his V-Series where Anthony Michaelson Of Musical Fidelity said the same thing about cosmetic costs in high end audio. He said that a faceplate can be even as much as 30% of a unit's cost. I applaud him for his V-Series. But I think it only fair to mention he does make his Titan amp too._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-19 04:18   
    _mykl- I have been using Musical Fidelity Audio equipment since their X series. My X-Cans Tube Headphone Amp was purchased in a local thrift shop for $15 which is a bargain in and of itself, but the true bargain is that it is so well built and sounds so good that I have been using it daily for the last 7 years!

    As I stated earlier in the thread my $169 Musical Fidelity V-Link Asynchronous USB-S/PDIF Converter has very literally revolutionized the sound of my Audio System by making my traditional $7,700 i2s Bus Digital front end obsolete with the V-Link's State of the Art embedded Asynchronous chip technology which now allows my $600 Sony DB 930 Receiver which was given to me by a friend for designing and setting up his Home Theater for him 12 years ago to be able to Asynchronously control the rate of the bitstream from the computer which has allowed the DB 930 to replace the rest of my $25,000 traditional Audio System.

    These days very fine sounding Musical Fidelity Audio equipment provides both the Integrated Analog amplification for my AKG Headphones and the Asynchronous zero jitter 24/96 high resolution Digital bitstream for my $600 Sony DB 930 which has become the Audio System that I use daily which now sounds so much incredibly better than my $25,000 traditional Audio System did that it has been very easy for me to leave the old technology behind and enjoy the absolutely fantastic sound of of the inexpensive Musical Fidelity X and V Series gear which has cost me a total of $184.

    ~Maxx~



    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-09-19 06:35 ]

    sterling1
    Sony Addict
    Joined: Nov 16, 2010
    Posts: 237
    From: Louisville, KY
     Posted: 2011-09-20 02:46   
    I am soooo satisfied with my Sony TA-E9000ES based HT, especially now since discovering the virtues of computer audio, and realizing a USB to Toslink converter was all I needed to listen to my iTunes library through my HT speakers, via the converter connected to the 24/96 DVD input of the TA-E9000ES. And, although I have not purchased the recommended V-LINK, I will likely get one soon. For now, my X-FI HD is used  to serve USB to S/PDIF and S/PDIF to USB needs, as well as ADC and ADC functions, like digitizing vinyl.



    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-20 18:41   
    Even though this isn't specifically on-topic I thought I'd post it anyway as it has to do with the SQ of a sytem. Like Maxx said an improper room acoustics can cripple the SQ of a system and so can improper speaker setup. When I read this post of McGowen's I immediately thought back to a hugely expensive system I encountered awhile back. From just one look I saw the speaker positioning was atrocious and knew the SQ had to be severly comprimised no matter how good the components. I'm sure all of here know this speaker setup lesson but it never hurts to have our minds refreshed


    Getting centered

    As part of my promised occasional setup tips, I thought it might be good to go to step two in system setup, where we focus on the phantom center image.

    Remembering that the goal for proper stereo imaging is two fold: the loudspeakers should disappear and the phantom stage is always behind the loudspeakers, we should then get started using our Rule of Thirds procedure.

    Position the speakers so they form a perfect equilateral triangle, with your listening position the third point in the triangle. This means if you are 8 feet away from the speakers, then they should be 8 feet apart and slightly angled in towards your listening position (but never closer than 3 feet from each sidewall). Do not use spikes or tiptoes at this point. Make sure there is no room correction devices in play.

    I always start with a simple female vocalist of which I have several. I set the volume to the exact level necessary to make sure her voice isn’t too big or too small. What I listen for is a perfect, palpable image placed approximately halfway between the rear wall and the loudspeakers. It should be three dimensional and floating perfectly in space as if it were a holographic image.

    If the voice is diffuse or too wide, toe in the loudspeakers (point them towards you at an angle) a degree at a time until she pops into focus.

    If she is not well behind the loudspeakers, move the speakers away from the rear wall a bit to increase depth.

    If the tonal characteristic of her voice is thin (without lower midbass), move the left and right speakers closer together until you get just the right tonal balance (the closer the speakers are together, the better midbass coupling you get from the speakers). Be careful not to go too close because the size of the soundstage will get too small. Moving the speakers closer to the rear wall will improve bass and fulness but decrease stage depth. Find the perfect balance.

    If she sounds bright, too one-dimensional or too low in height, tip the loudspeakers back about the same distance as a CD case thickness (hint: use a CD case to slip under the front for now). Add more cases till you get it right.

    Once she is perfect, then move up to more complex music with a good center image. I use a Diana Krall piece that has drums, bass, piano and the singer. Repeat the above tips until the group sounds correct.

    Keep moving up to larger pieces, making minor adjustments to balance the presentation, finally going back to the original piece making sure you haven’t lost any ground.

    When you get it right, the imaging extends beyond the room and certainly the loudspeakers themselves on the right piece. My final check for everything correct is almost always one of Keith Johnson’s Reference Recordings. They are a perfect reference. Get that right and everything else falls into place.

    This setup process is fundamental and I go back to it every single time I setup any system, even an existing system that has gotten out of tune. It’s a wonderfully great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-20 19:15   
    _mykl- Yet another great post that you have brought to us from Paul McGowen which mirrors an acoustic problem I had to solve a few years back.

    "If she sounds bright, too one-dimensional or too low in height, tip the loudspeakers back about the same distance as a CD case thickness".

    I had to do this back when I was setting up my JBL L-100a speakers which have a sweet spot about the size of a silver dollar and they required an extensive amount of this type of adjustment, but since the speakers were rigidly coupled with BDR Carbon Fiber Cones to a 30 lb energy sink made of Granite which was in turn viscous decoupled from the stand with Audioquest hybrid Sotbothane feet so I did not have the option of tipping the speakers. As a result I used a method of raising and lowering the listening position itself until the the desired expansive imaging was achieved which Paul McGowen describes as...

    "When you get it right, the imaging extends beyond the room and certainly the loudspeakers themselves"

    I'm sure that you have many more exciting tales of speaker positioning and resonance tuning than I do seeing as how I only use the 2 speakers for Stereo.

    ~Maxx~

        

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-21 16:30   

    On 2011-09-21 03:20, mykyll2727 wrote:
    The real tragedy is that in some cases if a "cheapo" speaker is placed exactly as the improperly placed super speaker it'll actually sound better than it's far more expensive counterpart did._mykl



    Ain't it the Truth!

    ~Maxx~


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974! [IMG]http://i468.photobucket.com/albums/rr44/Maxxwire_Photos/AQ/N.png[/IMG] [url=http://www.agoraquest.com/viewtopic.php?topic=26561&forum=51&start=540&select_page_number=37]The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930[/url]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-21 02:45   


    These are replicas of the classic JBL speaker stands from back in the 1970's. I posted a picture of them so you could see how they tip the speakers up just as Paul McGowan was describing in his latest post.



    On 2011-09-20 20:29, mykyll2727 wrote:
    All I could think of was how nice it must be to able to afford that kind of gear and not give a damn about how good it sounds._mykl  



    I agree that it is frustrating to see that kind of gear not have an optimal set up. I brought this up to my friend who owns the local Audio Shop and he told me that their attitude is that for that much money it sounds good on its own and not need any Modification or Tweaking. I stood there one day while he explained this to a fellow and how he couldn't sell his McIntosh Integrated Amp for much because it had a killer set of Mods on it and McIntosh owners just don't like their gear Modified because they feel that its an insult to the original design.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-21 02:59   
    I think the poor resale value of modded units seems to me to be pervasive in our hobby. With the exception of Modwright and perhaps Kern's Sonys there seems to be a poor return on investment in the used market. I'm thinking there's alot of "purists" that purchase on the used market. They seem to me to be more concerned with original than actual sound quality. It's like they're antique car enthusiasts looking for all original rather than true audiophiles who should be most concerned with best sound._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-21 03:20   

    .

    .
    .I brought this up to my friend who owns the local Audio Shop and he told me that their attitude is that for that much money it sounds good on its own and not need any Modification or Tweaking. .
    Sony H-9 MaxxPix



    I agree that the owners of this gear tend to have an attitude that for that much money it should "plug and play". The irony is that these super speakers are if anything even more sensitive to room acoustics and placement than their far less expensive counterparts. They're meant to be properly placed in properly treated, sized and porportioned rooms. Many have features to fine tune the sound even in these proper environments, not to make them sound great if improperly setup. Some of the high price of these speakers includes a service to properly setup your speakers for you because of this fact. The real tragedy is that in some cases if a "cheapo" speaker is placed exactly as the improperly placed super speaker it'll actually sound better than it's far more expensive counterpart did._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-24 17:39   
    Paul McGowen said "Just for grins I pulled out a 30 year old preamplifier from PS Audio and gave it a listen. I was stunned at just how good it sounded."

    As for the sound quality of the typical Digital Preamp these days I think Paul is very correct in his comparison of the classic Analog Preamp and judging from from the standpoint of the many people today who strongly prefer the sound quality of a good stand alone Pure Analog Preamp Paul's opinion is strongly supported.

    Although there are a few rare innovative individuals designing truly modern Audio equipment like this Hybrid Tube/FET Preamp designs with State of the Art components that has been reviewed by Positive Feedback as having "the hallmarks of reference level detail, harmonious musical nuance, a smooth and involving presentation, and dynamic splendor" which has distinct design advantages over both the classic Analog FET Preamps and the modern Digital Preamps along with the kind of sound quality that comes with the latest parts innovations like Teflon capacitors...



    On 2011-09-24 09:04, mykyll2727 wrote:

    . I feel that "today's good" should be a giant leap better than it was yesterday and I feel if we settle for that status quo that's exactly what we'll get. get._mykl



    Absolutely! The Audio equipment industry in general has become entrenched in the status quo sacrificing build quality to meet a price-point. I'm simply calling attention to the great exception to this rule which is when the private individual designer sets out to build Audio gear worthy of the high expectation of audiophiles such as yourself using the best components available today.

    I was at Dan Wright's home on the eve of launching the very first ModWright Industries piece that he had designed and built from the chassis up which was the SWL 9.0SE linestage and he was very, very nervous. He told me at the time that the only reason he was willing to risk designing and selling this higher quality Audio gear was that he could always fall back on the income from his thriving Sony Player Modification business.

    You are completely correct in saying "I feel that "today's good" should be a giant leap better than it was yesterday" and the primary reason that its not is because up and coming innovative Audio circuit designers have to risk their entire personal financial security for the privilege of competing with the massive Audio equipment industry in general that has become become entrenched in the status quoand prefers to keep it that way.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-24 18:15   
    I'm in agreement with you completely. Dan Wright has created some outstanding components in his own line. And they benefit greatly from his own designed teflon caps. There are some other super teflon caps out there as well. V-Caps, Audience Aura-Ts, are some great examples. True, caps have benefited from some new materials (And uber expensive if their price is indicative. Depending on values some of these caps can retail >$1k) but yet the basic tech of a cap is still the same. What's really sad to me is that if one takes some 30yr old gear and upgrades them with todays best caps you quite probably will have a unit that sounds every bit as good as a modern unit that was designed with the use of these caps. Perhaps, and this is really sad, even better. Where in the world is the tech that "pushes" today's SQ far above what yesterday's stuff can do no matter what parts upgrades you do to it. Maybe we'll never get as close as we'd like but still IMO we should be a heck of alot closer than we are AFA amps and speakers go. We sure are w/regard to the front end but IMO that wasn't driven to provide better SQ for audiophiles. It was driven to provide better SQ for the video experience and has in some instances been transfered to the audio only area. I think there should be that "giant leap". I don't think it's going to happen as long as we settle for improvements in "inches" when it comes to new gear. I feel Paul's attitude fosters the status quo. IMO it's a cop-out. If we stop buying gear that's only inches better we'll see a drive to provide better SQ. If that happens the big boys will definitely jump on board and we'll see that giant leap forward. As long as we keep settling we'll get what we deserve and we deserve it as long as we continue to buy it._mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-09-24 18:20 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-24 08:54   
    This is McGowen's latest email. I think, considering it comes from a high-end designer, that may partially explain why amps and speakers of today don't sound hugely better than they did 30+yrs ago.


    If it sounded good once….

    Just for grins I pulled out a 30 year old preamplifier from PS Audio and gave it a listen. I was stunned at just how good it sounded.

    At first I was depressed because it immediately said to me that we can’t have made much progress over the last three decades. But then it occurred to me that in point of fact, if it sounded good then it should still sound good today. Why? Because the definition of “good” sound is the same today as it was back then: getting close to the original recording.

    I think we tend to exaggerate how far we’ve come (to getting closer to the truth of the recording) because when we hear an improvement, especially one big enough to motivate us to exchange models, we are somewhat awestruck by the new experience. In fact, our progress is probably measured in inches, not giant leaps as we would like to believe.

    The first time we experience something new, it’s always going to be a bit overblown. For me, this is half the fun of it. I want to hear something new, deeper into the music, closer to the real deal. Gimme more!

    I guess I just shouldn’t be surprised when, in hindsight, the change isn’t as big as I remember.

    We’ll probably never get as close as we’d like, but it sure is fun trying.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-24 09:04   
    I for one disagree that good today should the same as good did yesterday. I feel that "today's good" should be a giant leap better than it was yesterday and I feel if we settle for that status quo that's exactly what we'll get. I think, w/regard to amps and speakers, if the vast majority of audiophiles stopped buying the "new stuff" and simply kept or acquired older gear, designers and makers would be "pushed" into delivering something with vastly superior SQ. As long as we keep buying gear that's essentially the same old stuff in new packaging that's all we're going to get._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-22 22:30   


    ~Maxx~

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-09-23 04:00 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-22 23:18   
    I like that one! It's soooo true of the ultra high-end. It's because of that I've always wondered if I'd find having some of these ultra speakers worth it. But then given their price I doubt it's something I'll ever have to worry about.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-22 23:21   
    I decided to post Paul McGowen's latest because I feel it's pertinent to where high-end audio is headed in the 21st century.


    Foreign networks

    I am aware that many of our readers find home networking a foreign, overly complicated concept and hope perhaps someday the need for the network will just go away.

    It will not.

    Networks are becoming more commonplace every day and that’s a good thing. Remember that as something becomes ingrained into our society it gets easier to use.

    Think of a network like the phone. It wasn’t too long ago that phones were introduced and the phone network was something complex and hard to manage: the operator had to place long distance calls for you. Now we call anywhere in the world without a thought, over the network. Originally, each home had one phone and adding a second was an expensive ordeal. Now every room has a phone connector tied into the home’s phone network.

    Next came the TV network. For years we watched TV from signals broadcast through the air. Then cable TV network arrived and before you know it, the single cable outlet in the home became a cable outlet in every room, thus forming a home network connected to the cable network.

    Even closer to home, your family and friends form networks.

    Data networks through the home will be commonplace within a very short period of time. Streaming music over that network will be commonplace as well.

    Beyond home networks is the biggest network of them all, the internet which connects all the home networks together. Streaming music over the big network will follow the home network revolution – allowing all of us to share high resolution audio anywhere in the world.

    No longer will we be concerned with storage and library size – not once the entire library of recorded music is available to anyone, anytime, anywhere in the world.

    Making sure we keep sight of maintaining high quality music streaming is the responsibility of the high-end community and those reading this post.

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-23 04:16   
    Sometimes I think that is the illusive chase of high end, trying to achieve the magic we have heard in some showroom in our own homes.

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-23 05:30   
    Back in 2000 when Sony first released their Reference SACD Separates the SCD-1, TA E-1, TA N-1 and SS M-9ED speakers the local Sony Only store was so proud to be the only shop in town to display them that they custom built an acoustically treated listening room especially for the SACD Reference Audio gear.

    I must have listened to that Reference SACD System over a dozen times and it never did sound right. They eventually even brought in a $30,000 pair of KEF Reference speakers to try to solve the poor sound quality of the SACD Reference Audio System, but to no avail it still did not sound nearly as good as it should have and to my knowledge they never did figure out what was holding the SACD Reference System from giving what should have been a legendary performance although a few months later after the experience ofAcoustically Treating my own listening room I figured out that they had over-treated the room which dampened what would otherwise been a stellar performance from the Sony Reference SACD Separates.

    The next year they were putting in a new Mastering Lab at the Mastering Studios where my Musician friend Don works. I had done some research on Acoustic Treatments, but I was unfamiliar with the professional grade treatments they were using so I asked what it was and Don said that it was Auralex Studiofoam. When I found out that it was only $220 for a dozen 2" X 2' X 4' pieces I decided it was time to Acoustically Treat my listening especially since I had just added a 24 bit Digital processor to my Audio System's Digital front end.

    After Acoustically Treating my listening room I could hardly believe all of the nuance and detail in the Music that I had been missing! I could even hear the difference in the different bitrates on my new Audio Alchemy DTI Pro 32! Overall what it cost for the Auralex Pyramid Studiofoam was probably the best investment I ever made in my Audio System plus there are no upgrades required it just hangs on the walls and diffuses the sound in a way that prevents the Time Smear associated with untreated rooms. The electronics of our Audio Systems are comparatively distortion free and almost all of the total distortion is created from the time the Music leaves the speaker reflects off of several surfaces and by the time it reaches the listener's ear what was originally 1 note will now be in the form of several instances each reaching the listener's ear at different time intervals which is known as Time Smear.  

    Since then I've auditioned 100's of pieces of High-End Audio equipment all up and down the west coast and also in Las Vegas where they have very exclusive nosebleed expensive Audio gear that you will never see anywhere else and none of that Audio gear which was carefully set up to sound its best could ever come close to the sound of my very carefully Resonance Tuned Audio System which is ensconced and its LEDE listening room which is Acoustically Tuned with Auralex Pyramid Studiofoam.


    There is a saying "What's everybody's is nobody's" and every time I finish another audition of some very expensive Audio gear in an Audio shop I am reminded that none of this gear that is set up on a temporary basis for the public to hear has a chance of sounding nearly as good as much less expensive gear that has a good home where its owner has made every effort to make sure that it is performing at optimal sound quality and listens to it often and researches ways that its sound quality might be enhanced over years or even decades. Its not the price you pay, but the genuine effort that is put into an Audio System that makes it able to sound much better than the "What's everybody's is nobody's" Audio gear.

    ~Maxx~


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974! [IMG]http://i468.photobucket.com/albums/rr44/Maxxwire_Photos/AQ/N.png[/IMG] [url=http://www.agoraquest.com/viewtopic.php?topic=26561&forum=51&start=540&select_page_number=37]The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930[/url]

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-25 02:28   
    The major weak link is source material, and no neutral piece of hardware is going to improve that. Isn't that the lifelong frustration of audiophiles, listen to the artists you like best, recorded in a totally commercial style with close microphones, numerous effects and compression, or audiophile recordings of artists never to be signed to a major label.

    What are you expecting new hardware to do so much better? (excluding speakers)

    One of the most exciting audiophile moments for me was the drive home from CES in Las Vegas listening in my car to the first Bruno Walter releases. In my car it was breathtaking.

    Do you recall the first time listening to MFSL CD of Muddy Waters?

    Fine hardware was nice, but not essential.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-25 03:51   
    If you read my very first post to start this thread I acknowledge significant advances to the front end as digital tech keeps pushing forward in that area. The disc, high rez discs, iLink, computer audio etc. I know that there are alot of vinyl lovers who think it's still best. I'm not one of them and the shortcomings of vinyl have also been discussed here. I feel today's digital sources deliver far better SQ than yesteryear's analog and that it's getting better all the time. Sure there are lousy sounding discs but there are great ones, as you described, and great digital audio continues to advance greatly and rapidly.

     Your great listening experience was due to a great sounding disc. What am I expecting hardware to do so much better? To deliver an improvement on the order of the disc you described that's what. Then think about how good your disc would sound. And then if speakers delivered the same then think about how good it would sound.


    What do I expect hardware to do? Sound a hell of alot better than it did 30-40 yrs ago..... That's what. I think it's pretty sad really that hardware today doesn't sound HUGELY better than it did over a generation ago._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-25 04:46   

    On 2011-09-25 03:51, mykyll2727 wrote:

    What do I expect hardware to do? Sound a hell of alot better than it did 30-40 yrs ago..... That's what. I think it's pretty sad really that hardware today doesn't sound HUGELY better than it did over a generation ago._mykl



    My opinion is that they ought to leave some of that modern Audio hardware with you for a few months while you tweak and tune it into sounding like it ought to as you have with so many other pieces of Audio equipment over the years. They would learn a lot about what they need to change and I'm sure they wouldn't mind leaving the equipment with you to compensate you for your consulting advice.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-25 04:50   
    Maxx- I'm not an engineer and it would take more than my tweaks to bring advancements on the level we've seen in video. IMO that's the problem. What's going on is tweaking of decades old tech. Something fundamently superior is in order.


    Let me put it like this. A guy goes into the store looking to buy the latest video player. The salesman approaches and says" I want you to come over and look at this." He takes the guy over to the premiere player he has and says" This is the latest and greatest we've got. It's got an aluminum case that's been treated by cold fusion, it's got tubes made from the finest Tiffany crystal, it's got capacitors infused with crushed dilithium crystals from Saturn, it's got platinum wire that's 100 nines pure that's been mined from the moon. This is where it's at." The salesman then points out the latest TV he has and says. "This is based on the same technology as the CRTs of 50yrs ago, but the case is aerospace grade plastic and the picture tube is infused with man-made diamond crystals". He goes on to say "Remember the picture quality you had thirty years ago with your CRT and VCR? Well this combo will give you a PQ that's inches better than that". He sees that the guy is not all that impressed and says "Well what did YOU expect it to do?". We wouldn't find that acceptable of today's video. Why do we find it acceptable in today's audio._mykl




    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-09-25 05:09 ]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-25 06:00   
    _mykl- I can only speak for myself, but I have owned a lot of vintage gear both Vacuum Tube and Solid State over the years dating back to the 1960's and I always thought that there was a lot to be desired in its sound quality especially the 3 turntables I've owned. They may be able to upgrade this classic Audio gear with superior quality modern parts to make it sound better, but back in the day it certainly didn't sound all that good to me. Finally just within this last year I have been able to acquire the kind of quality of sound that I'd been unable to find all of those years which has been made possible with a lot of Mike VansEvers' advise and my simple $600 Sony Receiver which now sounds ever so much better than the all expensive Audiophile gear that I own.

    I've auditioned 100's of pieces of the mega-buck corporate Audio gear that you are referring to and I agree with you that it does not sound as good as it should nevertheless and every improvement I used to elevate the sound quality of my $600 Sony Receiver to heights that I'd only dreamed of over the last 45 years with the exception of 2 AC Plugs were made available just within this last year.

    2011 has been the very best year ever for me in Audio electronics and although I understand where you're coming from taking on what greedy Big Audio has to offer in terms of their under performing equipment which does not justify its inflated price-points there are more and more excellent and very beneficially applicable technological and metallurgical advancements available these days for individuals who are seeking to get the ultimate performance and sound quality at a reasonable cost from their moderately priced Audio Systems today than I have ever known since I started down this path of Audio electronics in 1966.

    ~Maxx~


    -----------------
    A Satisfied Sony Fan Since 1974!


    .....The OCCC Furu-Charged Sony DB 930


    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-09-25 06:20 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-25 08:55   
    This McGowen's latest email. He suggests a couple of techniques, one of which Maxx suggested to me that I should get makers to let me do for them, should be employed by all audiophiles. While I feel that these techniques are valid, in fact I employ them myself, I find the gist of his post to be a cop-out. I feel that when one looks deeper than what is said on the surface that it helps to take the makers of audio gear off the hook. To me it fosters the status quo and because of that I find it insulting to the consumer.


    .Everything we appreciate about a high-end system is, of course, a sensory perception: mostly hearing but certainly feeling the sound as its vibrations move you as well.

    .We spend a lot of time enhancing the sonic performance aspects of our systems with hardware tweaks, but if we also recognize there are benefits to enhancing our personal sensory acuity as well, then the total high-end experience is heightened.

    .One easy way to enhance sensory perceptions is to turn the lights off or down low. This is something most every Audiophile is familiar with, but for those just entering into the fun, I thought it valuable enough to repeat.

    .Turning the lights down low when listening to your system enhances the experience because it allows more processing power to be allocated to our hearing center.

    .The brain is an amazing parallel processor – but it is limited – and it takes an extraordinary amount of processing resources to convert what our ears pickup into what we think of as sound. By turning off one of our 5 senses (visual) we get to apply all our resources to the other 4. This can lead to extraordinary audio sensations in the right environment.

    .External enhancements are available as well, like adding a subwoofer. The increased visceral impact of a good sub rattling your pant leg is a sensory enhancement all unto itself.

    .When you’re sitting down to enjoy your system, remember there are personal tweaks you can make that give a lot of enhanced performance to the music. Enjoy.


    I find the suggestion that the consumer needs to use "personal tweaks" to improve the performance of their gear lame. To me the implication is one needs to use hardware tweaks and improved sensory perception to improve on the SQ of the makers gear. IMO it's saying that the makers don't need to make it better themselves, that responsibility falls on the end user. It let's the makers off the hook. How about them just making it sound a whole lot better to start with. Then the hardware tweaks at least could well be unnecessary._mykl



      

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-09-25 09:22 ]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-25 16:15   

    On 2011-09-25 08:55, mykyll2727 wrote:
    IMO it's saying that the makers don't need to make it better themselves, that responsibility falls on the end user. It let's the makers off the hook. How about them just making it sound a whole lot better to start with.




    _mykl- I apologize for not making my thoughts on the matter clearer. I have also been calling attention to the Poor Build Quality of High-End Audio Gear for many years here at Agoraquest and I have not changed that opinion. When my Tech had a $6,000 Audio Research D-400 power amp apart on his workbench I asked him why they would use over a dozen 50 cent Wima MKP caps in the power supply a 200 wpc Stereo power amp and his answer was an emphatic "to meet pricepoint".

    You are right they need to make the Audio equipment better themselves, but many of us want to have the kind of Audio playback that we can genuinely enjoy until the time comes that they do actually start doing that. And since I've been waiting over 4 decades to get a single piece of Audio gear that sounded perfect to me right from the factory which is why I have learned several techniques which can be used to realize its full level of performance to adapt it to be able to perform closer to my expectations in my personal listening space.

    I'm not trying to let the Audio equipment manufacturers off the hook, but rather trying to adapt to the compromised playback quality which their price-point limited gear has always had into having a sound quality that I can truly enjoy until they decide to finally get their acts together.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-25 16:55   
    Maxx_I didn't say you were, I was saying Paul McGowen, and audio makers on the whole, were trying to free makers of the responsibility. The more I think on this the less I feel that they're going to get their acts together anywhere near any time soon and for two reasons. One is they themselves keep simply "tweaking" old technologies and two, they don't have to because of consumer (audiophile) apathy. IMO it's unreasonable to expect giant leaps forward in SQ when they continue to tweak tech that's decades, and depending how you look at it even centuries, old technology. Given that, "inches" in advancements is all one can expect and at best all one's going to receive._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-25 20:53   
     Perhaps the greatest irony, or even paradox, of my starting this thread is that my position is tantamount to "cutting my nose off to spite my face". The most expensive piece of audio gear I've ever purchased is at it's core based on decades old tech. Sure it has had circuit tweaks and benefits from modern uses of materials w/ regard to such things as wiring, caps, etc. but still at it's core it's tech that's 30-40yrs old and I look at it as a lifetime investment. Now I didn't buy it because I'm comfortable with the status quo. I did it because I'm betting that the status quo will continue for at least a few more decades. Now since I live in Vegas and I have some background in betting if I saw someone make a bet like that my intial reaction would be that it's a VERY bad bet. Afterall in this day and age, something truly great must be right around the corner. Just look at video. But what I'm really doing is betting the trend. This thread has convinced me even more that the trend will hold true. Consumer apathy will keep the staus quo in place. I plan on making a speaker upgrade again with a eye to it being a lifetime investment. Again I'm betting the trend. On the surface that would seem to me like an even worse bet. Now I'm talking tech that's older than I am. Something has to give, it can't hold the line that long. A true fool's bet. Yet there's a truism in betting: you can only be wrong once betting with the trend but you can be wrong countless times betting against it. I'm betting that the trend of the conditioned acquiescence of audiophiles to the staus quo will continue. I only see two ways that it'll change. That's by "accident" where some one invents something that proves to be a huge advancement while exploring tech in other areas, or by the audio makers coming up with something revolutionary themselves. The former does concern me, w/respect to the obsolescence of my gear, the latter does not. What motivation do the makers really have to truly revolutionize what they already have. All they have to do is tweak existing tech put a new face on it and perhaps make it good enough to compete with what's already out there. I.e. to come close to matching or perhaps by inches surpass the reference standard. IMO the only thing that will force the makers to come up with something revolutionary on their own is consumer demand. The prevalence of audiophile acceptance of the status quo won't motivate them to do it. Well at least that's what I'm betting on anyway. Only time will tell how long the trend lasts._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-27 03:09   
    Maxx_I have complete confidence that I will. The truth is I'm chomping at the bit over the whole computer audio thing including building my own music server. But first things first. The good thing is that when I get the speaker area resolved I'll have created that much better support for the computer audio and that will really let it shine._mykl

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-09-27 02:42   
    Speakers I think have a fair amount of room for improvement, but excluding them what are the weakest links in audio?

    Its the modular design using poor 60 year old technology. Single ended RCA connections are terrible, and digitally none of the common formats of transfer are without flaws.

    The good news is that technologically we are at a good stage for fully integrated products, single boxes that hook up to the internet, accept data discs, and output signals ready for displays or speakers. All sorts of problems vanish when a designer has end to end control of all the circuitry and signals.

    The bad news is that keeping things in troublesome separate boxes is WAY too profitable for any audiophile company to be willing to kill the golden goose of interconnects etc.

    The good news is that eventually somebody is going to do it anyway, and likely do it at very reasonable costs.

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-27 03:00   

    On 2011-09-26 22:52, mykyll2727 wrote:
    If I do I'm sure it'll take my system to a new level and let me take full advantage of 21st century computer audio. And that's something that I'll be very happy with.




    _mykl- Being the owner of one of Sony's finest low jitter iLink capable players you are going to be thrilled with the sound quality of the inexpensive jitter-free Asynchronous USB Digital processors available these days which take Digital Audio to the long awaited next level!

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-27 03:00   
    Danglerb_Here, here. I agree completely. When they just get wireless right it will be a significant SQ improvement as cabling in itself is a detriment. An excellent cable maker, and even Paul McGowen concurs, told me that cabling adds nothing postive to SQ. At it's ultimate level, which hasn't been achieved yet, it would simply take nothing away. Contrary to so much of the hype we are subjected to, NO cable improves an area of signal SQ. Take say bass response; at best it just simply passes those signals on better than most. At worst it impedes other areas more than other cables making it seem like it enhances bass. Connectors are, as you said, just another bugaboo added to the equation. I agree that eventually, if simply as the result of advances in areas other than audio specific, someone will do it. And especially if it comes from other areas affordably._mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2011-09-27 03:01 ]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-26 22:15   
    -mykl- This is great to hear and I hope that you will richly receive what you carefully wish for your next Audio upgrade!

    I may be done with the upgrades for a while. You know me I don't like to move on until I've wrung the last drop of Resolution that I can out of what I already have.

    I saw a piece on the speaker technology that was developed from areospace technology that was the foundation of Infinity Speakers and I wanted to share it with you...

    "In 1967, Arnie Nudell, PhD. was at work designing the world's first Q-switched pulsed ruby laser to be used in a laser rangefinder that would measure accurately the distance between an airplane and the ground. A servo-feedback system would then be used to control the inertia navigation system of the airplane for accurate positioning. During his laboratory work, Arnie realized that such a servo system would be able to also accurately control a loudspeaker, hence, the idea of a servo-controlled woofer.
    Together with John Ulrich, Arnie designed the servo system and power amplifier to drive a woofer. Arnie called another friend - Gene Czerwinski - to make a special 18-inch woofer with a second winding on the voice coil to produce the feedback signal. The system worked! And the world's first servo-controlled woofer was born.

    Together with an electrostatic panel developed by another two aerospace engineers, and a cabinet designed and built by Cary Christie in his garage, the first product was built - the Servo Statik I. This was in 1968, and Infinity was founded.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-26 19:50   

    On 2011-09-26 18:21, mykyll2727 wrote:
    If on the other hand these inventions came about through the inventiveness of humans born right here on Earth, then it's human invention that's needed. Something new and clearly superior to what's come before.



    My point was that this long history of human inventiveness is all intertwined and both in materials and ideas. My remark about alien technology which is fiction as far as I am concerned was simply to illustrate that's the only way you will ever get a completely new technology with totally new materials that is completely unrelated to anything that has come before. Otherwise all inventions are derivative in some way.

    I completely agree with you when you said..."it's human invention that's needed". Unfortunately the Miles of superior improvement that you are calling for are made up of many Feet worth of progress which comes from a lot of laborious inches of improvement.

    Thanks for your kind words about Modman Richard Kern who has made such a huge impact on the world of Audio. Unfortunately although it would radically improve the sound quality of their Audio gear the genius of his work with very expensive high quality Black Gate Capacitors would only be feasible for manufacturers to implement if they increased the price-point to where even fewer audiophiles could afford to buy this superior sounding gear. That's where Modmen like Richard come in to do the Mods specifically for those who want them without having to hike the price of the Player for everyone some of whom may not have a high enough resolution Audio System to fully appreciate work like Richard did.

    Most manufacturers cheapen the build quality of their gear to maintain its price-point over time, but there are some manufacturers like Conrad Johnson are dedicated to maintaining the build quality of their Audio gear so that the current model that has replaced my 1991 $1,900 MV-52 Tube Stereo power amp now costs $4,300 20 years later. When people complain about the low quality of modern Audio gear most likely the Brands involved have not maintained the build quality of their gear over time.

    I think that Richard had it right though by doing Mods on the Sony SCD777ES and SCD-1 Players many of which were as expensive as the Players themselves leaving everyone else to enjoy their factory stock player at their $3,000 - $5,000 price-points rather than Sony upgrading their production of all the Players making them so expensive that hardly anyone could enjoy them. Again, I think Richard had it right doing the expensive after-market Mods for those who could afford it and leaving others to enjoy the Player that Sony could give them at that price-point and still stay in business financially.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix    

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-26 20:51   
    OK Let me see if I can make this clearer. While all tech make be derivative to some degree, IMHO though you really have to reach to justify many new inventions throughout history that way, I'm talking about something fundamentaly different. The great SQ you experience from your computer audio didn't come as a result of directly tweaking a turntable. It is fundamentaly different than a needle grinding against a piece of vinyl/plastic/wax. Sure your computer employs plastic, wire, electricity, etc. but in a way that's overall fundamentaly different than the way a turntable does. The transistor may have metal in it and use electricity as does a vacuum tube but just because they share common materials they are radically different. A plasma display may use electricity and produce a video image just as a CRT does but they are fundamentaly different. IMO to achieve the type of SQ improvement that you've experienced with your computer audio over what you had before w/regard to amp/speaker SQ, will require some technological advancement on a simliar order. I don't feel it will come from directly tweaking decades, even centuries old tech. Something fundamentaly new will be needed. And while that may take great effort, great creativity, and maybe even luck it's happening in the video and the digital front end sectors. Given those facts am I really asking that much? Computer audio didn't sound that great a few years ago but it does now and I'm sure will continue to as they continue to tweak it and come up with new innovations as well. So I'm not knocking tweaking. I'm advocating it. But to see a quantitative improvement in SQ w/regard to amps/speakers will require something different that what's being done now. But, as I said in an earlier post, considering what I'm planning for my next audio upgrade I should heed what W.W. Jacobs wrote to open his horror classic Monkey Paw, "be careful what you wish for, you may receive it"._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-26 18:21   
    I greatly admire Richard Kern and he was fantastic at what he did. Which was mod existing units. And I agree there is certainly a place for excellent modmen. What I'm talking about is makers/designers of audio gear being nothing more than modmen. I'm talking about coming up with new tech and I don't feel I painted us into a corner at all. 


     AFA aliens passing down tech to us, well if you believe that in the 1700s aliens gave us the technology for building capacitors. That in the early 1800s they gave us the tech to bulid the light bulb. That in the early 1900s they gave us the tech to build FETs. That they gave us the tech to make plastics, Teflon, lasers, Velcro, the silicon chip, the internet, CDs, LCDs, LEDs, etc, etc, etc. (I don't know if you do or not, and there are many people who do and if they're right... )Then indeed I guess alien intervention is what's needed.


    If on the other hand these inventions came about through the inventiveness of humans born right here on Earth, then it's human invention that's needed. Something new and clearly superior to what's come before. On the order of some of the inventions I mentioned. I'm simply asking this question, why hasn't this human inventiveness that's appeared in so many areas of our lives, and in particular video, been applied in the past several decades to audio SQ? I feel the only ones perhaps getting painted into a corner by that question are the makers/designers of audio gear who haven't come up with something clearly superior. Those who keep relying on, and at the same time keep feeding audiophiles, the status quo._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-26 18:41   
     I find that Paul McGowen vacillates alot in his emails. On one hand he states the need for high end audio to enter the 21st century and for makers to invent/create tech that's new and clearly superior to what's come before. He has stated that with regard to SQ as well as other areas of high-end he feels require that. Yet on the other hand he makes statements that clearly foster, and even defend the status quo. I just don't know exactly where he stands._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-26 17:36   

    On 2011-09-26 09:59, sterling1 wrote:

    I find today's HT experience to be a very satisfying one. I think, even with what could realized with a most modest budget, a higher quality experience can be expected today than what would be possible with such a budget  when I got my first taste for Hi-Fi back in 1973.



    sterling1- Although some may disagree on the subject my opinion of the vintage gear that I've owned was that I found the 1960's Audio gear to sound 'Thick' which to me is the exact opposite of my current Asynchronous 24/96 Digital Audio System which sounds as Transparent as I've ever heard.

    I made a very embarrassing discovery recently when a series of comparative experiments led me to discover that I was able to produce a level of magnitude improvement in the sound quality of my entire Audio System simply by re-purposing a single power cord and one line conditioner that I had owned for 5 and 8 years respectively! No Global solution required just some creative Local reorganization...

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-09-26 17:55 ]

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-26 17:00   

    On 2011-09-26 13:48, mykyll2727 wrote:
    This is old tech. As long as we keep using it what can we reasonably expect it to do. IMO for a giant leap in SQ to occur, something that will hugely bring us closer to the real event, new tech will be needed. Not tweaks of the old, in fact very old, tech.



    You've really painted us into a corner as far as making progress in Audio equipment technology without being able to use any technology that  is in any way related to something that was discovered in the past which has never happened before as you outlined.



    I met Richard Kern one afternoon at the local Audio shop. At the time some 10 years ago I had no idea who he was, but he stood there for what must have been almost an hour enthusiastically explaining to me the ways that he found to use Black Gate capacitors to enhance the sound quality of Sony Players like the then new SCD 777ES as seen in the picture above.

    Richard went on and on telling me, a complete stranger, about how one of the great secrets to the success of his Modifications was that he would take each Black Gate capacitor and individually measure it value and only use the ones that measured correctly for the upgrade he was doing because some of the capacitors are slightly off value. I have never met someone who in Audio equipment Modification who was as enthusiastic about finding better ways of effectively and creatively applying technology than Richard Kern and later that evening I found out why...

    When I went home and put Richard's name into the Audio Asylum search engine and I was shocked enough it max'd out with 200 results from people around the world describing the Giant Leap in sound quality that  resulted from Richard's work of meticulously recapping the Sony SCD-1 and SCD 777ES with very expensive high quality Black Gate caps that Sony could not have used without pushing the price-point of the SCD-1 past $10,000 where even fewer people could afford to buy it than at its original $5,000 price-point which many claimed was already far too expensive.



    In order for the quality of Audio equipment technology to progress what is needed is truly inspired and dedicated people to carry on the spirit of Richard Kern's work who even though he is legally blind did not let that deter him from his highly detailed and exacting work and eventually prevailed over all difficulty and gave the world a whole new kind of fantastic sounding Sony player that was not economically feasible for Sony to produce!

    I see great dignity and worth to people like Richard Kern inventing completely new and highly effective uses for existing components that were first discovered 100's of years ago that can cause Giant Leaps in sound quality that are praised around the world because everything we have today is connected to something in the past and it will continue to be so connected as it always has unless aliens bring us foreign technology that is completely unrelated to everything we have and everything we know.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-09-26 17:15 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-26 13:48   
     You might be right that speaker and amplifier tech reached such a high level decades ago that we nearly their ceiling w/regard to SQ. Thus we can only make inches improvement. I think that's quite a possibility of the tech that's being used in them. Things such as FETs, tubes, exotic capacitors, etc. FETs can trace their origins back to the early 1900s. Tubes can trace their's back to the early 1800s. Teflon was invented quite by accident around 1940 and people have been figuring out new ways to use it ever since, but capacitors, previously called condensors, can trace their origin back to the mid 1700s. This is old tech. As long as we keep using it what can we reasonably expect it to do. IMO for a giant leap in SQ to occur, something that will hugely bring us closer to the real event, new tech will be needed. Not tweaks of the old, in fact very old, tech._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-26 13:55   
    This is McGowen's latest email. My interest in Hi-Fi started back in my teens not in my 30s. I do agre with him about the direction of Hi-Fi in the coming years of the 21st century. My feeling is advancements in that area will be coming fairly quickly. I just wonder what impact it'll have on SQ.



    Adult children

    In a recent set of comments we spoke about adult children and when it is that they start to get the high-end “itch”. In my experience, it starts in their 30′s and extends into the 40′s.

    The desire to have something better, a step above the status quo, begins at these ages and it occurs in the majority of the population from what I can tell.

    Better car, better house, better stereo system.

    The holdback issue is size and ease of use – not price. I can tell you right now if it ain’t wireless, small, room filling and awesome, it isn’t going to be a winner for future generations.

    A constant theme you’ll read from me in these posts is the need for the high-end to be pulled into the 21st century. Some will go willingly, some kicking and screaming, some not at all.

    I am here to tell you small, powerful, room filling and wireless are possible. The best system you’ve ever heard can be replicated in a much more acceptable package if the right designers get it together and aim for it.

    We can encourage high-end designers to work towards it. We are.

    sterling1
    Sony Addict
    Joined: Nov 16, 2010
    Posts: 237
    From: Louisville, KY
     Posted: 2011-09-26 09:59   
    I find today's HT experience to be a very satisfying one. I think, even with what could realized with a most modest budget,  a higher quality experience can be expected today than what would be possible with such a budget  when I got my first taste for Hi-Fi back in 1973. In fact, today's  discrete multi-channel audio recordings on SACD and BD, even when played on the least expensive  of today's equipment,  sound to me as being  very life-like. So, could it be that there is no better because we're already there?  If we cannot now answer is it live or is it Memorex perhaps we might want to explore other arenas where home improvements will make better living possible.

    [ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2011-09-26 10:07 ]

    [ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2011-09-26 10:14 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-30 00:05   
    Here's a little something about measurements not always telling the whole story:





    Designing by ear

    In yesterday’s post we talked about how different design paths can give the same measured results without sounding the same.

    How does someone train themselves to add their ears to the design tool set they use to build equipment and systems? The answer’s the same as the age old joke about “how do I get to Carnegie Hall?” asked by a lost violinist in New York City. The answer was “practice, pratice, practice.”

    When we started learning this skill set in 1973 we had no roadmap to go by. In fact, we were simply clueless designers trying to figure out a mystery – of which there were many. My post about designing a preamp among them.

    One of the simpler mysteries we solved, at the time, concerned our first power amplifier. Power amplifiers are relatively simple devices to design if you’re not trying to get fancy (we weren’t). Our first design, which later became the Model One, was about as simple a design as they come. Class AB, good specs, good parts, nothing out of the ordinary. It sounded good but not yet great.

    We played with all the tools we knew about, how much class A, speed of the devices, etc. All mattered, none clicked in the sound.

    Then, a friend asked us if we had paid any attention to the power supply. We hadn’t. An amp’s power supply doesn’t get any simpler: power transformer, AC to DC and big capacitors – not much more.

    “Have you heard about bypassing?” Bypassing was the new thing: adding small capacitors in parallel with the big capacitors. We tried it and the amp went from ho-hum to high-end in an afternoon.

    Our listening tools were sharpened, we added another piece of the puzzle to our arsenal and created a high-end product.

    The amp measured identically to the same design without the bypass caps.

    The two didn’t remotely sound the same.

    Only our ears could tell the difference.

    David_S
    Sony Legend
    Joined: Aug 03, 2004
    Posts: 905
    From: BC, Canada
     Posted: 2011-09-30 00:33   
    mykyl-keep the interesting information from McGowen coming.  I found designing a preamp to be a very interesting read.

    Audiophile designers didn't need as much industrial espionage back then.


    -----------------
    TA- E77ES E80ES E1000ESD E9000ES TA- N77ES F555ES, ST-S730ES RM- AV3000 AX1400 (2)AX4000 STR- DA4ES DA3100ES (2)DA5700ES (2)GX10ES DVP- (3)NS999ES NS3100ES CX777ES CDP-X303ES, CDP-M555ES MDS-JA20ES, TC-K717ES, DTC-690

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-30 00:40   
    I don't think there are many designers/makers of audio gear today that would be so forthcoming. And I think that would include Paul McGowen himself._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-30 01:15   
    From Paul McGowen's 'Designing by Ear'...

    "Our listening tools were sharpened, we added another piece of the puzzle to our arsenal and created a high-end product.

    The amp measured identically to the same design without the bypass caps.

    The two didn't remotely sound the same.


    Only our ears could tell the difference."


    _mykl- Thank you so much for continuing to share these messages from Paul McGowen with us. Nothing brings more credibly to these messages than the decades he has spent designing both High End Audio equipment and the very highly effective AC Regeneration equipment that PS Audio has become so well known for.

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-30 01:22   
    I use a PS Audio quintet myself. I'm very impressed with it. I've wanted to try their now discontinued Power Plant Premiere for some time. I still hope to in the future. Their new "regenerators" are way too over the top expensive for me._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-09-30 01:45   

    This PS Audio Extension Link that I was fortunate enough to acquire back in 2007 was originally used with their very expensive AC Power Regenerators about 10 years ago. I call your attention to its serial #0078 which to me has always been an indication that they may not have made too many of these units. Regardless of how many others there may be this PS Audio Extension Link with its Phosphor Bronze Hospital Grade Outlets and its very effective EMI filter supplies AC Power to every piece of equipment in my Vacuum Tube Audio System.

    ~Maxx~





    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-09-30 01:53   
    Maxx_If you click on the "designing a pre amp link" on the header of that page you'll find power listed. If you click on that you'll find the "power as the foundation" article I was talking about._mykl

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-10-13 19:58   
    _mykl- This statement of Paul McGowan's describes exactly what I have been through this last year...

    "When we limit our creative juices by believing “this is the way it must be” then we really limit our ability to create new and innovative ideas that are “out of the box”. The “box” we refer to is created by this restricted belief system."

    Every preconceived idea I had about how build quality reigned supreme as the arbiter of sound quality was tossed out as my 1999 non-ES Sony Receiver completely blew away the sound quality of my $25,000 Conrad-Johnson Powered Vacuum Tube Audiophile Grade Audio System back in April and has never never looked back as it ascended to even higher levels of playback resolution!


    Build quality does have its place of importance, but when the powers of enhanced AC Power Delivery are let as Paul McGowen describes are let 'out of the box' they assume their rightful position in the order of influence as he also described in a previous article when he described AC Power as no less than the very foundation of an Audio System .

    I desperately held on to my belief that my 42X expensive Audiophile Grade Audio equipment must sound better than my $600 Sony Receiver by virtue of its vastly superior build quality for as long as I could, but in the end the utter simplicity of the Sony Receiver's AC Power Delivery System combined with the amazing improvements in modern metallurgy made it impossible for the far superior build quality of the expensive Audiophile Gear to hold out against the amazing transformational abilities of simply delivered high quality AC Power.

    Speaking of ultra high quality AC Power Delivery how does the exclusive owner of the one and only Mav's 3.1 Line Conditioner in the northern hemisphere have it deployed these days?

    ~Maxx~

      Sony H-9 MaxxPix  

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-10-14 00:01 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-29 10:06   
    I agree with his statement about matching the sensitivity of the pre-amp to the amp. My power amp actually has three adjustable input settings to help facilitate this.




    Step on the gas

    Have you ever been leery of turning up the volume control too high because you don’t want to push the system too hard? I don’t mean in terms of volume level but stressing out the preamp by getting too close to its limits? If that’s happened to you, you’re not alone.

    It’s a common misconception that turning the volume control up near its limits will have negative affects on the sound when actually the opposite is true. The higher you can set the volume control, the better your system will sound and here’s why.

    Volume controls add resistance or a limiting element into the signal path. If you were to remove the volume control altogether- just solder a wire straight across it – then the signal path would have a direct shot at the power amp and the sound would benefit from it.

    Most people I know seem to have this vision in their head that relates the volume control to the gas pedal of a car. It’s common knowledge that stepping on the gas all the way maxes out the engine and you’re much better off keeping it at half throttle. But just the opposite is true in a hi fi system.

    Think of the volume control more like the brakes of your car. You can imagine that if you apply the brakes and the gas at the same time, the car is stressed out – so too is your system. It’s much better to release the brake and let ‘er run.

    The optimum solution is to match the sensitivity of your amp to your preamp so you’re volume control is mostly up at normal to loud listening levels.

    Finally, someone’s egging you on to “step on the gas!”

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-10-27 16:36   
    _mykl- Have you heard anything from Paul McGowen lately?

    ~Maxx~

    Sony H-9 MaxxPix



    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-13 05:33   
    I'd been meaning to post something regarding this and then came McGowen's latest post. Often what we accept to be true turns out in fact not to be the case. Whether or not they've actually discovered faster than light particles yet or not, the possibility remains. As long as we remain quagmired by the "laws" of the past forward progress is at best severely hampered.


    Open mind

    Driving home a few evenings ago I heard on BBC news that physicists at Cern Switzerland were baffled after measuring a sub atomic particle traveling faster than the speed of light – something every physicist from Einstein on has guaranteed us is inviolate.

    Measurement error? Perhaps, but here’s the point. Everything we believe to be guaranteed, inviolate, cannot change, is only “true” at that particular moment in time. As we learn more, things change – yes, even things that “cannot” change.

    The lesson here is whatever we, as high-end industry “gurus”, believe to be the truth today should always be suspect for tomorrow.

    When we limit our creative juices by believing “this is the way it must be” then we really limit our ability to create new and innovative ideas that are “out of the box”. The “box” we refer to is created by this restricted belief system.

    Just keep an open mind. I think Albert might have agreed.


    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-15 08:47   
    I'm posting this because of Paul's last line which I'm in total agreement with and I feel does apply to this thread.



    The problem with Netflix

    So, I am at the gym this morning watching TV as I work out and Netflix is on the news again. Their woes continue as they struggle to get their streaming movie business going.

    I have tried now three times to get engaged with Netflix because the idea of choosing what I want to watch whenever I want is appealing. Even more appealing is the cost would be less than I am paying for cable’s version of the same thing.

    The problem they are having has nothing to do with split websites or presentation – it’s a lack of good content.

    Why am I bringing this up? Because I think it illustrates an important point we sometimes miss in our rush to get people engaged in our industry as well.

    The fact is, you can dress something up any way you wish, but if the content isn’t there then all you’ve delivered is an empty promise.

    People will pass through all kinds of hurdles to get at good content in any field – yet the opposite isn’t true – making it easy to access poor content doesn’t bring success.

    When the latest gee-whiz all the bells and whistles 25 channel all you-can-eat and does everything I want receiver hits the market, I am not interested. Why? Because it has no content I am interested in, like providing a great listening experience.

    Putting lipstick on a pig isn’t going to solve Netflix problem or the receiver market.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-15 10:35   
    Maxx_My Mav 3.1 feeds two of my digital sources. The SCD-XA9000ES and the DVP-NC9100ES. Still working like a charm._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-15 10:39   
    Another of McGowen's emails I meant to post. Just a refresher.




    The sweet spot

    In nearly every venue there’s a sweet spot: somewhere that maximizes the intended experience.

    In a live concert, it may be the center, row three. Or perhaps the left side of the orchestra if you like the fuller, richer sound of the cellos and bass.

    In a movie theater it could be dead center middle, or up a little closer.

    Most of these choices are personal depending on our tastes.

    But in a two channel high-end system, the sweet spot’s right dead center where you set it up for best imaging and rarely varies from person to person. This is because in a two channel setup, the three dimensional illusion (phantom center channel) we’re trying to generate is so heavily dependent on both ears getting an equal dose of audio from both speakers.

    Because the size of the sweet spot in a two-channel system is completely dependent on the left and right ears maintaining equal volume from both speakers, how do we control the size of the area? By sacrificing something else like depth or image beyond the loudspeaker boundaries.

    Remember, the whole premise of two-channel audio is hopelessly flawed because we’re trying to generate the sound of a single point source from two speakers. It’s a magic trick and move too far out of the boundaries and you see the magician’s secrets. But two-channel is all we have right now.

    So, let’s imagine the extremes we have to work with. One extreme would be to place the two speakers as close together as possible. This would reduce the image between the two speakers to almost nothing.

    The other extreme would be to place them as far apart as possible, then point them in towards your seating position. This will create the largest possible sweet spot. Then there’s everything in between.

    The smartest thing to do is define the size of the sweet spot you want. Let’s suggest a three seater is best. Then move your speaker pair apart wide enough to encompass your intended sweet spot and tweak until you get the whole system dialed in – realizing all along you’ll give up perfection for sweet area.

    It’s ok.

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2011-10-15 22:39   
    Worst audiophile day of my life. My living room is far from ideal, vaulted ceiling open to second story, big adjacent open rooms, windows all over the left side, fireplace on the right. Equipment is on the north wall, with the speakers located at the minimum acceptable distance into the room for ESL63's which is still a lot. 18" from the edge of the left speaker is a large sofa on the left wall and a recliner angled slightly toward the system. The path through the room is across the back behind the "listening chair" recliner, a small coffee table and a love seat. The sweet spot is TINY, basically sitting in the listening chair non reclined and leaning forward about a foot.

    My boss, one of best EE I've ever known, and his wife came over for dinner, and they plop down on the sofa, worst spot in the room, and he say's, "so lets hear this fancy hifi you've been talking about."

    Utter failure. If the system had refused to make a sound it would have been a huge improvement. How do you show off a system that doesn't play loud, has a sweet spot the size of a basketball, and was designed end to end to be as neutral as possible? Which of my fine selection of audiophile records of artists and music they have never heard before do I play?

    I still cringe thinking about it, I picked a new MFSL record, and the bass was insanely hot, but its a manual play record player, lid down, no needle raiser type thing, so stopping it wasn't simple or quick.

    Worst part is that I loved the system and the sound, found nothing to equal it, and had learned to forgive the room for its quirks and issues, but could think of no way to convey its quality.

    Worst audiophile day ever. Life would have been so much simpler with a set of klipshorns.

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-10-16 03:06   

    On 2011-10-15 10:35, mykyll2727 wrote:
    Maxx_My Mav 3.1 feeds two of my digital sources. The SCD-XA9000ES and the DVP-NC9100ES. Still working like a charm._mykl



    That's great and it really speaks toward the fine workmanship that went into your Mav 3.1. Have you heard from our Coffs Harbour sparky lately?

    ~Maxx~



    The Legend Continues.....

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2011-10-16 03:07 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-16 10:42   
    This Paul's latest email. It's a post from one of the "digital generation". I found his view point interesting.




    From the Front: the New Consumers

    The first generation to be born after the dawn of the Digital Age has just reached a maturity and status that fits the label of true consumers. Everyday, we induct more and more enthusiastic new members into the high order of the GLI (Guardians of Liquid Income) that would not be able to recognize the iconic logo of the Bell Telephone Company. By all accounts, this consumer base, which is now “newbie” and small but will be in the majority before we know it, poses a tricky threat to the welfare of the HiFi audio industry and its devotees. This faction is gathering upon the hill. And though they don’t have the benefit of George Washington rallying morale, early recon suggests that the green banners they carry actually hold his unsmiling mug. Though the time has not yet come, my brothers and sisters, to squirrel away our audiophile recordings and fearfully hide the children inside driver-removed floorstanding four-ways. If we take the time to understand the enemy, and to make the according preparations, we will weather the siege.

    music war2 From the Front: the New Consumers

    To identify this generation’s “digital” upbringing as the cause of the threat they pose to the audio industry is accurate, but also misleading. The debate as to whether audio reproduction is of a higher quality if based on an analog platform vs. a digital one is only auxiliary to our main understanding of this generation’s problem regarding HiFi audio. By now, to refer to a generation as the “digital” generation means so much more than ones and zeros. Digital means fast. Digital means having a lot in little space. We all experience both lamentation and exalted glee in the changes digital technology has brought to our lives, but no one truly understands the implications for the future. We stand around and talk as though we see trends and projections, but as the Digital Generation comes more into light, chances are great that it won’t resemble what we think it will. But forecasts have great value anyway. We can’t throw on a pair of Sennheiser HD 800s, wrap ourselves in benevolent ropes of silver and oxygen-free copper, and go to sleep in our basements expecting to wake up the next morning to a world not overrun by young, audio-ignorant night bandits. We must try, at least, to gather intel and reinforce barricades.

    I am a young, audio-ignorant bandit. I am a member of the feared Digital Generation. By the time I was eight years old, cassette had really begun to die. When I was ten, my Dad brought home our family’s first DVD player. And when I was twelve, kids started to show off their ipods; the cool, new, user-friendly MP3 player. I grew up on the figurative base camp atop the hill during the battle to shape the next thirty years of the audio industry. And, against my better judgement, I have decided to jump ship to the other side. A self-rendered refugee, I wander the dusty landscape of the recording industry alone- so far, that is. (There are talks of others who have joined in the revolt.) I thumb rides across state lines, hoping that one day the right side will win. I come to the forum of PS Tracks to share the insider intelligence I have gathered regarding the renegades. Please protect my identity. I know they are looking for me.

    soldier From the Front: the New Consumers

    The first thing that needs to be accomplished in order to achieve a unilateral peace agreement between both sides of the 21st-century sonic conflict, is to bridge the qualitative gap which exists in the landscape of today’s audio industry. HiFi groups have become ensconced in luxury niche markets, while a proliferation of mobile/compact digital gadgets have been flushed into the mainstream like a cloud of rat poison cocaine preemptively dumped in the waters between Miami and Columbia before a raid by drug enforcement hawks. In the industry’s defense, this model of production may have been instated out of necessity. Obviously, the nature of HiFi audio demands a niche-market strategy, and companies have found that the only way to really make money in audio is to sell crappy wares at cheap prices to the mass market. But the return of the mid-range model is the only way to save HiFi. (Encouragingly, PS Audio seems to be leading the way in the resurgence of mid-range audio, adujsting some of its products to fit a wider variety of consumers). A bridge between the significantly different production conditions and philosophies of LoFi and HiFi must exist. If we can create a bridge between the Niedrigen Bereich of the LoFi Lunkhead Rebellion and our Republic of the Aurally Enlightened, generations-to-come would gladly follow the pathway out of Gaul and into our colorful city of bass, mid, and high-range. If we stack enough integrated-amps, shelf/reference loudspeakers, and micro-system components on top of each other, we’ll have built a ladder from the bottom of the industry to the top that only Jacob could have imagined. But once we’ve gotten the new recruits on board, how do we keep them from falling into remission?

    In my mind, the experience of listening to high-fidelity audio systems themselves is the greatest weapon we have in the fight to protect HiFi. We have the advantage of not needing to tell people what we mean. We can show them what we mean. The greatest experience I’ve had with HiFi is listening to my own music on the reference system for Walker Audio, which is housed in the home of the company’s founder, Lloyd Walker, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. For about three years, I have accompanied my father every couple of months to Lloyd’s house. Most visits we sit in the kitchen, drink coffee, and candidly talk with Lloyd and his wife Felicia, the Vp of Walker Audio. Eventually, there would be a lull in the conversation and everyone’s eyes would turn slowly toward the direction of Lloyd’s listening room. And I’d sheepishly glance at my Dad, and at Lloyd, and there would be a “Hey you guys wanna…” moment. Lloyd would ask if I’d brought any records, and I’d say that I had, and then Lloyd would growl “Well let’s go listen to em’ then!” in his matter-of-fact Texan air.

    The main attractions of Lloyd’s listening room are the Walker Audio products themselves, but for a novice audio enthusiast like me, everything in the system and the room is an experience. Lloyd employs the use of two Rennaisance mono tube amps from Red Rock Audio. The exposed tubes of the amps give the impression of the many glowing eyes of a mahogany monster. When I’m in the house, I always feel as though there is an extra presence looming over the visit. Before any music is even played, Lloyd’s system, capable of producing some of the highest fidelity playback in the world, commands its own atmosphere. The Walker reference setup employs a pair of Usher Be 20 loudspeakers whose cherry finish is as benevolent as their sound. Hearing music that I find personally relevant played on this system is an experience I’ve found, at the risk of sounding trite, to be borderline spiritual.

    On my first encounter with Lloyd, he treated me, a lowly teenage punk, with the same respect and attention I imagine he does prospective distributors or buyers. I felt bashful and out-of-place being sat down in his plush leather recliner positioned in the system’s sweet spot. Still chatting, Lloyd removed a record I’d brought in a canvas tote bag from its sleeve and cleaned it. He played the whole first side on Walker’s Proscenium Black Diamond turntable. When I’d observed the system before listening to it, I’d expected the sheer magnitude of its output (I’m talking in terms of more than just ohms and watts) to negate any of the positive effects of the preservation of clarity and removal of distortion that I was sure it could produce. I was wrong. The system was loud, but it sounded crystal clear and I felt as though I could sit there listening for hours. The mahogany beast had delivered its goods without any harshness. It may as well have grinned. No one else in the room did, but the Walker reference system knew that day that it had hooked its silver-soldered claws deep inside me, and it wasn’t letting go for awhile.

    The Birth and Death of the Day, by Explosions In The Sky, off their 2007 double-lp “All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone”, was the first song I played on Lloyd Walker’s reference system:

    http://91.217.72.2:8010

    After the music ended, and the aura had left, Lloyd remarked something to the affect of “that’s not bad, I kinda like it.” And soon after, we said our goodbyes and I headed home with my Dad. Walker’s Proscenium Black Diamond turntable, the one I’d modestly sat and listened to that day, was named the tenth most significant turntable of all time by the Absolute Sound magazine in a list published this September. I listened to my music on it on a casual afternoon and received commentary from its creator without knowing what the level of work I was hanging around. Giving audio experiences like the ones I’ve had with Lloyd to the next generation is the best way to keep them next informed about and, for some, involved in high-fidelity audio.

    I’ve learned many things from my afternoons at the Walker house, where Lloyd walked me through the replacement of a capacitor in a loudspeaker I’d brought to him, and where he sat me down and explained some basic concepts of electrical engineering to me. But the most valuable knowledge I’ve gained from my quarterly visits has come from the reference system. After experiencing recorded music reproduced at the highest level in an environment that encourages questions and the search for new understanding, I now possess a baseline understanding of HiFi that I bring to every experience with audio I come across, large and small. I know what a record can sound like, and I know the basic parts and machinery required to step onto the path toward producing that sound. With this knowledge, I dictate my consumption in the audio industry in a manner that is informed, and directed toward the same goal as that of the manufacturers. And at the end of the day, it’s not just about audio, or even industry. It’s about educating and caring for a generation that can foster in itself a respect for detail, craftsmanship, and out-of-the-box thinking. If these virtues are not celebrated and shared, our beloved audio industry will be the least of our concerns. Before it is too late, before we have a rebellious uprising on our hands, let’s direct some attention to creating the modern Jacob’s Ladder; and the young, ignorant bandits and I will try our best not to tear it down.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-16 10:54   
    Maxx_I haven't heard from Mav in along time. It seems he hasn't posted here in quite a while as well. I hope all is well with him. He's a great guy!_mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-16 11:31   
    After some thought I felt I just had to remark on the "digital generation's" experience at Walker Audio. I'm not going to get into the "tubes/vinyl" vs "digital" debate and whether one or the other exemplifies high-end, but I would like to point out that Walker Audio makes some uber-expensive gear. $90k for a turntable. $2500+ for a wood platform. PLEEEZ!! Not to mention he heard all of this played thru Usher's TOTL speakers. IMO all Ushers which despite being made in China are far from cheap. I feel that's what's wrong with high end audio. PRICES!!! FAR TOO MANY makers of high end, price their gear for the uber-wealthy. How can hi-fi expect to draw the young when the gear is only ownable by millionaires/billionaires. A young person who feels a slight pinch in the pocket for the price of an iPod and counts his change when filling up at the pump can't be expected to jump into a hobby where a TT costs as much as a luxury car or where the cost of a wood platform would pay his rent for a couple of months. I think high end must become affordable to most for there to be any demand for real breakthroughs in tech. As long as it stays a niche market for those with pockets so deep it doesn't matter what outrageous price you charge them the status quo will remain.

    BTW I don't feel PS Audio's gear is all that cheaply priced any more either. In that way I feel McGowen is an example of what's wrong not the solution. IMO Anthony Michaelson/Musical Fidelity is one of the companies at the forefront of making high end SQ available to most. But then again he does make a $20k+ amplifier. I guess even he wants at least a piece of the wealthy's proverbial pie._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-24 02:07   
    The future of speakers, perhaps.




    Powered speakers

    In yesterday’s post Up against the wall, we visualized how cool it would for the high-end loudspeaker guys to solve one of the biggest issues people have with a high-end system in their homes: taking up too much floor space. To solve this problem, I challenged them to design speakers to be placed 1 foot away from the rear wall – a big challenge.

    I started thinking about how I would accomplish this task and the very first thing that came to mind was building everything we need into the loudspeaker so we could manage timing, phase, amplitude and all the problems likely to emerge. To do this, you’d need the speakers to be powered. But this brought up an age old question: why do powered speakers not sell?

    Some companies continue to require their loudspeakers to be plugged into the wall’s AC outlet: those with built in subwoofers in particular. But there really aren’t many speakers that have built in full range amplification and that’s a shame.

    From a benefit’s side it’s the right thing for designers to do. No one knows better exactly what the amplification needs of a particular loudspeaker is than the speaker manufacturer. Further, amplified speakers allow the designers to make better crossovers, tri-amplification and all the good cool things one might want to do. But they don’t sell.

    I think there are a few reasons for this. First would be our penchant, as Audiophiles, to want to tailor the sound the way we want through equipment choices. Tube amplifiers give a warmer sound, big solid state amps deliver authoritative performances and so on. Mixing and matching equipment to achieve our personalized sound preferences is a big part of the high-end and a powered speaker precludes the ability to do this.

    Second would be that asking the preamplifier to drive a long interconnect, sometimes over 20 to 30 feet, is a task every preamp isn’t suited for (in fact, most aren’t). I am sure there are more but those probably cover the majority.

    So here’s another challenge to the industry.

    With the advent of streaming network audio system solutions like our PerfectWave DAC and Linn’s DS system growing and proliferating into high-end consciousness, wouldn’t the ultimate solution be a pair of loudspeakers, up against the wall – with nothing more than an AC cord attaching them to the power line – be the ultimate product to own? And if that product surpassed the performance of anything we have today, wouldn’t you want it in your home?

    Maybe I am getting too far into the future and forget that people want the multiple pieces of equipment, the mix and match routine (I admit, it is fun), the constant upgrade. There will always be a place for this activity because it really empowers us to create sound systems that are unique to our personas. But could we imagine a space where we could have it all?

    That might be the challenge. It sure is cool dreaming about it.

    scott1019
    Sonyphile
    Joined: Aug 07, 2010
    Posts: 543
    From: USA>>Ohio
     Posted: 2011-10-24 17:20   

    On 2011-09-26 13:48, mykyll2727 wrote:
    You might be right that speaker and amplifier tech reached such a high level decades ago that we nearly their ceiling w/regard to SQ. Thus we can only make inches improvement. I think that's quite a possibility of the tech that's being used in them. Things such as FETs, tubes, exotic capacitors, etc. FETs can trace their origins back to the early 1900s. Tubes can trace their's back to the early 1800s. Teflon was invented quite by accident around 1940 and people have been figuring out new ways to use it ever since, but capacitors, previously called condensors, can trace their origin back to the mid 1700s. This is old tech. As long as we keep using it what can we reasonably expect it to do. IMO for a giant leap in SQ to occur, something that will hugely bring us closer to the real event, new tech will be needed. Not tweaks of the old, in fact very old, tech._mykl


    Isn't this what digital amps were supposed to do?  Completely revolutionize the industry?  For the most part they have failed miserably.  They are experimenting with a material to use for speakers that will hang on a wall like a picture...  I am sure they will take off, but there will be serious compromises in sound.   Just because something is old technology doesn't mean it can't be improved upon.   For the most part manufacturing techniques and materials have gotten much better and the potential for making something far better IS possible.  However, it takes someone with the knowledge to get the full use out of the new technology to make it happen.   And more money now goes into the marketing of the product than the product itself and compromises have to be made.  


    -----------------


    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-21 22:28   
    I agree with McGowen's point.




    When we can’t we won’t

    Everyone, including me, are all a twitter about the possibility that some sub atomic particles might be travelling faster than the speed of light. We each have our view about the validity of this claim – few among us qualified to have an opinion that matters – but none the less the debate will rage for some time.

    This brings to light a point which I think a lot about: placing fences around what we believe to be true.

    When we believe we can’t, then we won’t.

    I never went to college, I never studied engineering and for many years I felt bad about that.

    Lately I have been feeling the opposite because as a self taught electronics designer, I went into every project ignorant of what I could not do – and actually did something that wasn’t supposed to work.

    When we put up a protective fence that sets our comfort boundaries we rarely look beyond those self imposed walls and this limits our chances of creating the new and the fresh.

    I am not advocating skipping higher education unless that education teaches you the comfort of building fences.

    I am, however, advocating that we understand learned boundaries should always be challenged and questioned if we’re to make progress.

    Tomorrow, I will share with you an idea born out of ignorance.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-21 22:31   
    Some info on the "invention" of the DAC that I didn't know.





    Ignorance is bliss

    In yesterday’s post, When we can’t we won’t, I wrote about the notion that there is sometimes value in not knowing what you can’t do.

    I’ll share with you an example of how this worked for us in the past and then, tomorrow, I’ll share with you a future idea born out of ignorance as well.

    In the early 1980′s the CD was launched and, with it, we entered the era of digital audio. Certainly digital audio had been with us for some time before the CD appeared, but this new portable storage medium changed the world and opened the digital audio floodgates.

    Soon after the CD appeared we, and others in the high-end, started playing with the new medium to see if it could sound better. We realized that by replacing the audio stage we could make a significant improvement and we did just that when we launched our first CD player. It was an off-the-shelf Magnavox we gutted and put in our own audio circuit and called it the CD-1. But I wasn’t happy with just modifying someone’s product and calling it our own.

    It was obvious that we needed separates – one box as a transport and the other box to decode the audio. This separates approach had many advantages and, in the past, served the high-end well by giving us separate preamps, phono stages, tuners and power amps (they used to all be together in one box). I was excited to do the same for CD players.

    We poked around inside the CD players of the day only to find that the digital audio we wanted to extract was either locked into an integrated circuit or ridiculously difficult to access. What to do?

    We then noticed that on the back of every CD player there was a single RCA connector that said “digital out”. Could it be the audio was available here? No one knew and the owners of the technology, Sony and Philips, weren’t telling (their technical secrets locked in something known as the Red Book).

    All we knew was that the purpose of the digital out was to put album art out to a TV by some (as of yet) released interface box. It certainly was not to extract the digital audio. My engineers threw in the towel – because they were told it would not work.

    I was just ignorant and stubborn enough to insist they challenge Sony and Philips.

    Our chief engineer at the time, Mark Merrill, spent a week looking at this digital output with a scope and came to me one day and said “I don’t know what’s going on, but I can see the digital stream changing with the music I am playing. I am guessing they just might have audio available, but more than that I don’t know.”

    3 months later he had unlocked the secrets, decoded the info and we showed, at CES, a prototype of the world’s first separate D to A converter for high-end audio – and with it – an entire category of products that are still with us today.

    Within 1 month of our prototype display, Arcam of England came out with an actual product and not long after that, Neil Sinclair of Theta introduced a similar product (our first commercial DAC was third). All three were being worked on independently of each other – none of us aware of the other’s progress.

    Sometimes a touch of ignorance and a stubborn challenge of what we are told “cannot be” leads to breakthroughs and innovations.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-21 22:33   
    I wonder if the "Vector DAC" will become a reality. The idea really intrigues me.





    The Vector DAC

    In Wednesday’s post Ignorance is Bliss, I wrote a long post about a bit of high-end history covering the invention of the separate DAC for high-end audio. I promised another about a future idea that might be interesting. First, a primer.

    A DAC is a digital to analog converter – its name describing exactly what it does. The beginning of this chain is called an A to D converter (analog to digital) which does the opposite. The idea is to convert the audio (continuous stream) from a microphone into something a computer can understand: bits. To do this, the continuous audio is broken down into particles or discrete quanta that are then stored by optical means (CD) or magnetic means (hard drive). The DAC reverses this process.

    Digital audio has limits – depending on the number of bits. This has always been a problem for me because in real life there are no limits: sounds can get as loud or soft as they do without restriction.

    Some of my colleagues will argue that these limits are meaningless since 24 bit audio has a dynamic range of 144 dB which far exceeds analog and, for that matter, human hearing (and 32 bit audio even higher).

    While the numbers are correct, I would argue that most of the dynamic range available is unusable because it is far below what we can hear – and the usable range is not much more than our ability to hear. Certainly we could manage to use what dynamic range we have available better, but currently that’s not the case.

    So for a moment let’s imagine a digital audio scheme that has no practical limits in loudness. A system that if we had a microphone that could capture the quietest sounds to the loudest sounds (we don’t) we could record it and play it back.

    What I like to call the “Vector DAC” is such a system with basically unlimited dynamic range and could be compressed or expanded without degradation. The idea for it came to me through photography.

    All photography (digital or film) is much like today’s DACs – based on discrete quanta or bits. In film it is called grain (actual grains of silver) and in digital photography it’s called pixels. Look too closely and what you see is not a picture, but bits (like Leggos) that when viewed from a distance fool us into believing they are smooth and continuous.

    You cannot scale a photo up or down without degrading the original because the bits get messed up. Same with audio – compressed you lose and expanded you lose.

    Then we learned about vector based imagery. In the late 1980′s a company called Adobe introduced a program called Illustrator and this is where many of us first learned vector graphics. Unlike pixel based systems vector graphics can be scaled up or down without degradation of any kind – bigger or smaller – it’s all the same.

    Vectors work by the computer recording a vector, which is a meeting point including angle and length – basically a mathematical description of a line. The line is going in this direction (angle), and continues for a certain length. Using this plus a few other parameters we can describe just about anything – color, width, even speed – and you have a complete scalable model of something.

    Why not apply this to audio? After all, an analog signal can be represented by the angle, duration and speed of its movement and if you know all that, you know where it is at any one time. There are no bits or discrete quanta that cannot be scaled.

    In the Vector DAC idea we simply record the vectors and related data which are completely scalable without degradation.

    I think this would be a real breakthrough. Now, if only we had the time and resources.




    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-22 10:25   
    Paul McGowen brings up something here that I've wondered about for some time. I'll be interested in reading his further thoughts on the matter.




    Through the open window

    We are taking a few days off and enjoying the quiet of Carmel California.

    Last night we’re walking by a hotel and through an open window I hear the sound of a live piano. The folks I am with hear the same thing and comment on the fact it’s live.

    How is it we can tell something is live vs. recorded and reproduced from a distance and through a window? What is so different between the sound of live music vs. the sound of live music recorded and reproduced?

    I find it fascinating and have some thoughts about the answers to this question – thoughts that may surprise you.

    I’ll write about them in future posts but in the meantime, here’s a question to ponder.

    If the music you hear through the open window is not from an acoustic instrument – like a piano – but instead is amplified through a small PA system, are there any differences to be heard between live and recorded? Both are reproduced through an amplified chain.

    Give it some thought. I believe the answer is yes and that any one of us could tell f it were live or recorded.

    Even through an open window.


    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-30 03:57   
    I found this email by Paul McGowen interesting. I hadn't considered long ICs "stressing" a pre-amp or source before and thereby degrading SQ. I had only considered interference being an issue with longer ICs.





    Stressing out

    We all know it’s not good to get stressed out, but did you know preamp’s and sources feel the same way?

    Nothing stresses a preamp or source out more than having to drive an uncomfortable load like a long cable. Some preamps and sources have better designs than others, but in general, none like driving long cables.

    I first became aware of this in the real world while on a visit to HP’s place in Sea Cliff with Arnie Nudell – in hopes of a review in the Absolute Sound Magazine. We were setting up a new Genesis loudspeaker for Harry and we started the process by simply connecting the amps to the speakers but without connecting the speaker’s built in subwoofer.

    The speakers snapped into focus quickly under “The Arnold’s” masterful hands and he then asked me to connect the subs up. Our preference had always been to feed the Genesis loudspeaker’s built in subwoofers with an output from the preamp – as opposed to a high level input from the power amp’s output (both options were available). The preamp was a good 20 feet away from the loudspeakers so I asked Harry’s setup guy, Scott Markwell, to find us a long set of interconnects and hook them up to the back of the preamp and string them over to the speakers – while the three of us left for lunch.

    Upon our return, we immediately turned the music back on to get settled in and suddenly Arnie looked over at me and said “what the heck happend? It sounds like crap.” I had no idea. I looked in the back of the speakers thinking maybe Scott had connected them up incorrectly, but no, the new interconnects weren’t even attached. In fact, all that had changed was the addition of the long interconnects to the second set of outputs on the preamp.

    I finally decided to just go ahead and connect them to the sub inputs to at least get the subwoofers working while we figured out what was wrong. We fired the system back up and it still sounded bad – it just sounded bad with bass now.

    I’ve learned over the years that if there’s a mystery, I have to carefully retrace my steps and undo them one at a time until something happened – it didn’t take long. As soon as I disconnected the interconnects from the preamp’s second set of outputs, the sound came back with a vengeance. Aha!

    In the end, we decided to tap off the output of the power amp to feed the sub and left the system in HP’s capable hands – sounding delightful.

    The lesson here is that the added capacitance of the long interconnects really messed up the preamp’s sound. In PS designs, we go to a lot of trouble to put plenty of horsepower and low impedance drivers into our source and preamp’s outputs to solve this – but fact is – it will always sound better with a shorter interconnect.

    My advice is that whenever possible, let the power amp drive the long cables and don’t stress out the preamp if you can help it.

    Stress is never a good thing.




    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-28 05:25   
    I've been running this post around in my head for awhile. I haven't decided if I accept his givens which lead to his conclusions or not.




    I can always tell

    In my post “Through and open window” I mentioned that if I am walking down the street and hear a piano through an open window I know immediately if that’s the sound of a real piano or a recorded one. Odd that we can do this even from affar and through a window.

    I can also tell if someone is playing an electric instrument like a guitar live – and can identify this sound of the electric guitar through windows and over long distances through a neighborhood.

    This is all very odd because in the case of the electric guitar, it isn’t a live acoustic instrument it’s actually not much different than our stereo systems – yet we always know if it’s live or recorded.

    Or do we? Let’s try a thought experiment. If you have an electric instrument (let’s think guitar again) and you compare it being played live through its loudspeaker vs. recorded and then played through its loudspeaker, I’ll bet you can’t tell the difference. But if you take that same recording and play it back through another loudspeaker – even the best loudspeaker pair in the world – you will immediately be able to tell it’s not live.

    So the loudspeakers are at fault? No, not entirely. Here’s what I suspect. The ear/brain is just sensitive enough to identify something not reproduced on the original final medium and whenever that happens, we immediately pick up the cues that tell us it’s not live. So it is the fact that something is altered when not reproduced on the identical instrument or reproducer.

    Which brings up an interesting dilemma for us high-end types: if the problem is that the ear/brain can immediately pickup the difference between live on the original instrument vs. reproduced when not through the original instrument/medium, what hope do we have for high-end’s ultimate goal of recreating the sound of live music in our homes?

    I think then the challenge is for someone to focus on this one critical area and uncover the secret. I’ll bet it’s not hard.




    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-28 05:42   
    I haven't figured out if he's talking about a stereo receiver or an AV unit or both. Personally I feel with all of the rapidly changing processing tech, HDMI etc., that the high end and resulting high priced AV receiver is a terribly poor component in terms of cost effectiveness. IMO seperates are the better performing (SQ, PQ, features, versatility, longevity, long term usability, etc.) and thus in the end more cost effective choice.



    The lowly receiver

    In the “good old days” the electronics for a hi fi system was all in one box that usually included a power amp, preamp and radio tuner. We found them in consoles and built in cabinets. They were very convenient.

    Separates have appeared, on and off again, since the late 1940′s and the lowly receiver has been with us ever since (it peaked in the 70′s and 80′s).

    The idea of a complete stereo system in a box has many appealing qualities: lack of interconnects and connectors, each piece designed specifically for the task at hand, same design team and controllable environment. It also has a number of negative ramifications: shared power supplies, increased noise within the chassis and the chance to cut corners.

    But I wonder if now the time might be getting ripe for the introduction of a true high-end one-box stereo system? After all, we now know enough to create one without compromise. The advantages would be really big: convenient, better performance than all those separates, the system tweaked as a whole, possibility of an amazing connected interface to control everything and help the high-end stay up with today’s desire for compact and easy.

    Is the world of high-end ready for such a thing?

    I have been impressed with some of the better Japanese receivers of late. They are pretty good performers – not something I would own yet, but they do demonstrate that it is indeed possible to offer the level of quality and specs you would need to engineer into them. Their biggest problem is they are still trying to be the everything-to-everyone Swiss Army knife.

    The disciplines and engineering resources needed to do this would be big and perhaps prohibitive to most high-end companies.

    What might be interesting is if three or four high-end manufacturers joined together (gasp!) and designed such a product – each company contributing the design of what they’re best at – and then packaging their own version of the consortium’s design into their own product. Now that would be a hoot, but probably nothing more than a pipe dream.

    Is the world ready for that?

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-30 04:09   


    Has anyone experienced SQ issues with long IC runs from sources or pre-amps? I know of some audiophiles that have rather long runs from their pres to their mono-blocks. In turn they place the monos close to the speakers and thus are able to use shorter speaker cables. I had considered a setup like this myself at one point. Anyone have any experience with a similar setup?_mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-30 04:42   

    On 2011-10-24 17:20, scott1019 wrote:

    .
    Isn't this what digital amps were supposed to do?  Completely revolutionize the industry?  For the most part they have failed miserably.  They are experimenting with a material to use for speakers that will hang on a wall like a picture...  I am sure they will take off, but there will be serious compromises in sound.   Just because something is old technology doesn't mean it can't be improved upon.   For the most part manufacturing techniques and materials have gotten much better and the potential for making something far better IS possible.  However, it takes someone with the knowledge to get the full use out of the new technology to make it happen.   And more money now goes into the marketing of the product than the product itself and compromises have to be made.  


    -----------------




    I remember reading some where ( I think it was on the TacT website before the split) that Lyngdorf built the first digital amp back in the mid '70s. So that's not really new. The all digital signal to the last moment he designed in the Millenium and shortly after Sony's S-Master Pro were advancements on existing tech. While many may not consider digital amps the "best thing since sliced bread" IMO iLink thru S-Master amps is the best playback I heard. So I feel that "tweaked" digital amp tech was a big step forward. I agree that improvements in design and materials can yeild improvements of old tech but those advancements will come in small steps and in the end still be limited by the basic technology. People have been tweaking the old tech for decades and for the most part each tweak has brought about a small improvement. As long as they keep going down that path that's all that's going to happen because the fact is that gear made decades ago still matches up quite well to today's despite all of the tweaks that have happened down the line. IMO for something radically superior to happen, something that will bring us FAR closer to the "real thing", tech that is fundamentally new is needed. I just keep looking at computer audio vs players/transports._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-10-31 05:07   
    I'm in agreement with the theme of this email by Paul McGowen. It's the same as one I've been trying to make.






    Thimk different

    I am reminded from yesterday’s post about subwoofers and the challenges they presented at the time.

    When Arnie Nudell and I ran Genesis loudspeakers in the 1990′s a big part of the company’s story was built in servo subwoofers; something both Arnie and I were passionate about (still are). The way we divided the company’s design duties up was I handled the electronics and Arnie did everything else.

    Servo subwoofers present a unique design challenge to whomever designs their electronics; in this case me. Aside from all the challenges presented by the servo circuitry itself, there’s the issue of overload and clipping. Clipping the subwoofer in a servo setup is nothing short of nasty and, if bad enough, can send a woofer into a death spiral.

    Standard practice had always been to add a compressor or limiting circuit on the subwoofer’s input (still is today). This simple circuit was like an automatic volume control – if the incoming sound got too loud, the volume of the sub turned down to compensate, thus reducing the chance for clipping (clipping sounds like a bad case of gas).

    Problem was (and still is) adding a compressor to the circuit made the sub sound wimpy because you had to really put on the brakes hard. What we needed was a way to know when the sub amp had run out of steam and was about to clip – not a guess as to how loud and at what frequency this would occur at.

    The solution turned out to be simple – but only because we stopped trying to make what everyone else was doing better.

    We knew that just before the amp clipped the power supply voltages dropped because we were delivering too many watts. So we designed a circuit that monitored the power supply, NOT the incoming audio. That way, regardless of what the bass notes were, the subs thundered along mightily until the power supply of the amp just couldn’t give any more juice and then, and only then, we lowered the signal level to compensate. It worked perfectly.

    I bring this story to light because maybe, just maybe, some designer out there is struggling with a problem and this might help him or her understand it helps a lot to stop focusing on making what every body else is doing better and going at it alone with a fresh look.

    What every body else is doing isn’t going to help you create something new and wonderful.




    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-07 10:59   
    Prsonally I've haven't found bi-wiring to provide me with any improvements in SQ. I've just found it to be an added expense. McGowen makes a case for the opposite.



    Bi-wiring

    Just when you thought I had abandoned everything high-end and gone over to wireless except the AC cord, along comes a post about adding more: bi-wiring.

    Bi-wiring is the practice of feeding the upper frequencies and the lower frequencies with separate speaker cables, from the same power amplifier (as opposed to bi-amping which is the same thing except with two power amps and cables).

    Over the last few weeks I have been asked, somewhat out of the blue, my opinion on bi-wiring. Good practice or market hype?

    Good practice.

    On those speakers that provide two sets of binding posts, one for the top end and one for the bottom end, I never use the jumpers or metal straps they come with to connect the two together. I always bi-wire and recommend you do the same. In this case, more is better.

    Why does this work? Technically I am not too sure but here’s what I do know. Having spent time designing many cables (both power and audio) I can confidently suggest that a good engineer can design speaker cables tailored for the least loss at specific frequency ranges (despite what those who believe all cables sound the same think).

    It’s much harder to design a single speaker cable that equally serves all frequencies.

    If for no other reason, choose a speaker cable that isn’t just two of the same but one that has been specifically engineered to maximize performance at the appropriate ferquency range. It’ll make a great improvement to the performance of the system.

    And, oh yes, make sure you’re not thinking about using cables to tune the system’s performance – after all, it’s just wire.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-07 10:56   
     A point of view that supports the use of your balance controls to improve your SQ.




    Balancing act

    I have always considered the balance control on a preamplifier like a useless apendage – even worse, the extra componentry required for its implementation degrades the sound.

    Why would anyone want a balance control? How many people actually ever use it? Come on, be honest, isn’t your balance control set dead-center?

    Recently I may have come to a change of heart concerning balance controls and here’s why. They no longer add any degradation and, in some cases, they can be useful (despite my youthful stubbornness).

    In days of old a balance control was another mechanically controlled variable resistor (like the volume control) placed in the signal path. Since we cannot make things better by adding a passive component (we can only make it worse) a judicious approach to adding components into the signal path has to be observed if we are to honor the sound quality.

    But today, volume controls are handled electronically – and even if the electronics are only controlling a passive attenuator – the balance control becomes a free ride. So it’s a no-brainer.

    But why use one? The room and the loudspeakers.

    No room is symmetrical and it is the rare loudspeaker pair that’s matched any closer than 1dB and 3dB is typical.

    A balance control that does not add any degradation thus becomes a necessary tool to achieving perfection.

    Expect to see such controls in all future PS designs with volume controls.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-07 11:05   
    McGowen's viewpoint on isolating your equipment. I use some form on very piece in my system.




    Isolation

    Most of us are familiar with the concept of mechanically isolating our equipment from vibrations; but do you know why it’s important?

    Microphonics. Certainly not the only reason, but clearly the most important. Microphonics is the tendency of something to act like a microphone; picking up and reproducing sounds it “hears”.

    The sound producer is, of course, our loudspeakers – which is why headphones and their associated equipment are far less sensitive and needful of vibration dampers.

    On the receiving end, turntables are the biggest offenders, followed by tubes, capacitors, circuit boards, semiconductors, chips and magnetics. These components pickup the delayed audio from your loudspeakers and put small, out of time images back into the system. These images are like ghosts that ride on the music itself and confuse the presentation you hear.

    Placing your equipment on spikes (including the speakers) helps to decouple the sound producer from the sound receiver and you get a clearer audio presentation that is quite apparent to most listeners.

    The coolest thing you could do is have a network audio system in one room with the listening environment in another and only the loudspeaker cables common to both. In this setup you can use a WIFI connected controller to select and play your music without much worry about microphonics. Not many of us are going this route.

    The next best thing is to do what you can with either homemade solutions like a simple sand filled box with a piece of wood floating in the sand to set your equipment on, to many exotic and expensive solutions available on the market.

    Keep it isolated as best you can and leave the microphones to the recording side of things.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-07 11:07   
    I think McGowen makes an important point here.



    Measurements that matter

    In yesterday’s post I suggested you can’t hear the difference between distortion levels that are already below audibility. That sparked a few questions about what you can hear and why.

    Measurements sometimes help us understand an underlying change that is not exactly relevant to the actual measurement.

    For example, measuring the THD on the power line is rather meaningless unless you use that measurement to understand the underlying cause of the change you are measuring. So this begs the question we get asked a lot “why does our company place a THD analyzer on the front panel of your power products if the measurement it provides is meaningless?”

    The answer is simple: it helps us market the underlying change in the power we deliver that IS relevant.

    In this case, the added harmonics we measure on the power line are there as a result of the AC power wave being corrupted. Once the equipment corrects the corruption we measure fewer harmonics. The improvement you hear, however, isn’t because there’s fewer harmonics (which is what the analyzer is measuring) but because the wave is no longer corrupted. We are interested in the cause, not the effect we measure.

    In a similar vein, think about THD levels in an audio circuit. The measurements are relevant (below a certain point) not because there are fewer harmonics present (as in our last example), but rather as an indication of what the designer DID to lower them. Perhaps he used more or less feedback, made the devices more linear, rolled off the upper harmonics, etc.

    The only things relevant here are WHAT the designer did – the measurements themselves only a crude indication loosely related to the change.

    We use these measurements on our equipment as a marketing tool to differentiate ours from theirs. Manufacturers have been doing this in spec sheets and one upmanship for years.

    For measurements to matter, you really need a broad understanding of the underlying changes being measured.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-07 11:11   
    I too am looking forward to what's in store in for the near future of audio. Interesting idea for a TT.



    Endless loop

    Engineering humor. Did you hear the one about the software programmer who died mysteriously in the shower? The only clue was a shampoo bottle that read: shampoo, rinse, repeat.

    Sorry, I know that’s pretty bad, but fellow nerds will laugh.

    Ten years ago I didn’t even know what an endless loop was. High-end audio equipment design has always been about hardware design, now it’s about programming.

    Years ago when we wanted to add a push button control on a front panel, we used a simple circuit I understood – now we use a microprocessor that leaves me clueless.

    Even died-in-the-wool tube and turntable manufacturers are using microprocessors for displays, controls and motor speed adjustment. They are everywhere in the high-end.

    The shift from purely hardware to software/hardware happened pretty quickly and its pace is accelerating.

    The good news is we’re doing things today that were simply impossible a decade ago.

    I can only imagine what another decade of progress will bring to the high-end community.

    I for one would be thrilled to have an image sensor turntable. One high-rez snapshot and every nuance embossed into the vinyl would be captured, quantized and ready for me to play on my PWD. Now that would be awesome.

    Let your imagination soar.

    Welwynnick
    Sonyphile
    Joined: Oct 21, 2005
    Posts: 536
    From: Welwyn, Herts, UK
     Posted: 2011-11-07 13:59   

    On 2011-10-28 05:25, mykyll2727 wrote:
    I've been running this post around in my head for awhile. I haven't decided if I accept his givens which lead to his conclusions or not.

    Which brings up an interesting dilemma for us high-end types: if the problem is that the ear/brain can immediately pickup the difference between live on the original instrument vs. reproduced when not through the original instrument/medium, what hope do we have for high-end’s ultimate goal of recreating the sound of live music in our homes?

    Hi Mike, this is a fascinating thread, and I'm tempted to write and agree with each and every post, adding my own experience.  But then I'd never get any sleep.

    The "through the window" scenario is an interesting one though.  While I was working in the hifi shop, one of the things that stuck in my mind was being able, with experience, to identify the good gear from outside the dem room.  

    Its a measure of real quality to me that good audio equipment should sound good in the next room (or even outside) and not just when you're sat in the sweet-spot.  

    Nick

    Welwynnick
    Sonyphile
    Joined: Oct 21, 2005
    Posts: 536
    From: Welwyn, Herts, UK
     Posted: 2011-11-07 14:00   
    BTW, by coincidence I just bought a meridian surround controller from none other than Paul McGowan himself!

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-07 14:03   
    Nick_Which one did you get? And please post away. You're input would be greatly appreciated._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-08 03:25   


    Food for thought. Anyone have any ideas?




     Teaching art

    Any competent artist can paint a pretty picture.

    Any competent engineer can design a good sounding audio product.

    It takes an artist to paint something that grabs our emotions and speaks to our souls.

    It takes an artist to design a piece of audio equipment that connects us emotionally with the music when other equipment does not.

    Creating something that communicates directly with our emotions is truly an art, but fortunately one that can be learned.

    My son Sean runs a non-profit in Denver called the Denver Art Society and his mission is to teach children art in a world where public funding for such things is shrinking.

    How do up and coming audio designers learn the art of designing high-end products that communicate with our emotions?

    How do we even let the world know this art exists?

    Welwynnick
    Sonyphile
    Joined: Oct 21, 2005
    Posts: 536
    From: Welwyn, Herts, UK
     Posted: 2011-11-08 06:42   

    On 2011-11-07 14:03, mykyll2727 wrote:
    Nick_Which one did you get? And please post away. You're input would be greatly appreciated._mykl

    OK confession time.  I agree with everything you wrote about active speakers, so I've put my money where my mouth is, and bought a  complete Meridian system (without ever having heard a DSP speaker).  

    The system I bought has 2 x DSP6000, 2 x DSP5000, DSP5000C and D2500 sub, plus player, tuner and controller from the 500 series.  I already have a modified 861V4 controller, which has a linear power supply, and is my new reference.  

    The controller I just bought is the C41R, the custom-install version of the compact G61R.  I chose that for the challenge - if I can get a linear supply working in that, I can get one working in anything.

    More than that, if it sounds anything like as good as its big brother, I'll keep it, and add a G08 player and HD621.  That's the dream system I've been after for years; I hope it lives up to expectations.  

    Nick

    jttar
    Sony Master
    Joined: Feb 28, 2003
    Posts: 9228
    From: Chicago,IL, USA
     Posted: 2011-11-09 21:29   
    Hello mykl,

    This latest post is beyond "food for thought", it is a virtual banquet. Really astute writing by Paul. I really have enjoyed this thread. You have my thanks my friend.

    Joe

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-08 10:34   
    Nick_I've read alot of praise for the Legend Acoustics Tikandi. Have you had any experience with it?_mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-08 09:11   
    Nick_I never heard any of the Meridian DSP speakers either. Or even seen any in person for that matter. You must keep me updated!!! I'd love to know your assessment of them!!!!


    Coincidently I'm looking to make a speaker upgrade myself. If I'm able to swing it I may be very close to my dream system as well. Here's good luck to both of us._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-09 03:16   
    This post wasn't by Paul directly but was still one of his emails. It presents something I've said as well and may touch on why the SQ of certain aspects of high-end aren't better. Some food for thought ahyway.




    $100K turntables?

    As much as one might like to think that all blogs are merely the verbal diarrhoea of hyperactive, self-opinionated journalists and wannabes who think that the world just can’t wait to share their thoughts, some of us do work to assignment. There’s a reason I don’t have a website: unlike certain of my colleagues, I don’t think the world awaits my every utterance.

    This column, in fact, is as much a product of the mind of Paul McGowan as it is mine, because 1) it’s Paul’s site, 2) he’s been around long enough to know what works, 3) he finds me amusing, and 4) he serves as the editor. If I send in something he doesn’t think is suitable, then it doesn’t go on-line, period. His role is the electronic equivalent of what print magazine editors have been doing since time immemorial. Oh, if only all websites had such controls!

    Anyway, this is the second attempt at writing this column, because the first proved to be untenable. Paul wanted me to write a story about US vs UK high-end retailers, which I duly researched by taking the opportunities presented at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest and other shows to talk with dealers, as well as at a London event, where a few key retailers were present. What emerged were not differences, but far too many similarities. Visits to a show in Paris and another in Milan suggested the same for the French and Italian markets. The misery is global, the selling techniques are global, the consumer attitudes are global. And the messed-up economy is global.

    It was with this in mind that I sent the following e-mail to Paul: “Am a bit puzzled by your request for the next column, US vs UK retailers. The only genuine differences I’ve been able to turn up are all region-specific matters that have nothing to do with universal audio-related concerns. They’re local economic conditions which affect the entire UK populace in all aspects of daily life, so they have no relevance in the column. The US has its unique issues that don’t apply to the UK, like the sheer size of the land mass, how it affects reps, distribution and the like.

    “For an exclusive brand, five retailers can cover the whole of the UK, which isn’t much larger than Pennsylvania. Five retailers can barely cover Greater LA.

    “The following British ‘realities’ do not affect the day-to-day behaviour of US dealers, nor are they hi-fi-centric, e.g. the UK has 20% VAT [sales tax], much higher rents than the USA, gas costs $7.50-$8.00 a gallon, and the 50% income tax threshold is MUCH lower than in the USA (50% taxation starts at £35,001, or $56,000 at today’s exchange rate). Other than that, it’s the exact same gripes and attitudes. If you were to ask about other countries in Europe, it would be the same.

    Paul wanted me to investigate a broader question – what could manufacturers be doing to put high-end audio ‘on the map’? Paul’s glass is half-full. Mine is 2/3rds empty, cracked, and leaking.

    It was recently pointed out by the CEA, I believe, that the high-end market in the USA has halved since 1995. It is, however, still worth something like $275m, which – while not enough to impress Bose, Sony or B&O – means that a number of companies with sub-$10m p.a. total turnover could survive in the whole of the USA.

    Consider that a substantial sum is invested by manufacturing companies just in getting access to those customers willing to pay for the goods – that cost being the difference between what the manufacturer gets and the customers pay. That’s a lot of cost to get the goods to the market. Manufacturers design, build, pay for parts, shipping, marketing, advertising, and play the role of the bank when they finance the dealers. In return, dealers provide the customers.

    What this exposes is the usual Catch-22 dilemma, the high-end caught between two stools. What remains of the high-end industry are products too complex and sophisticated to be sold in the manner of a former hippie down the road selling jars of homemade jam, and the “big boys” like Bose, Sony, and B&O, who have the kind of turnover that allows them to promote their products beyond the confines of the audio community. And yet it’s breaking out of the audiophile community that is what’s needed if the high-end is to survive the economic crisis.

    Bluntly put, there are not enough audiophiles with sufficient funds to absorb all of the high-end gear being produced. Our market is saturated with hardware of which 40-50 per cent is professionally-manufactured and worth supporting, another 30-40 per cent is borderline, while the remainder is unsalable and has no right occupying floor space at even the dumbest, most obscure and ill-attended of shows.

    Like the ex-hippies selling jam and cookies and beads in stalls on the road to some beach resort du jour, the freak show brands should not be allowed to infect the serious companies. Least of all, they shouldn’t have their products reviewed in magazines that purport to be professional. They are self-indulgences that do not deserve our respect, let alone our patronage. Here’s what I mean:

    By sheer coincidence, around the time Paul brought up this subject, I had attended a dinner with some industry veterans, at a recent hi-fi show. They shall remain nameless, but they included one of the most successful high-end distributors in the world, a veteran show organiser, and two manufacturers, one of whom is among the biggest, most professional and most accomplished in our field. The topic was precisely the same as that which Paul posited: “What could manufacturers be doing to put high-end audio ‘on the map’?”

    They cited the same roster of luxury items like artisan pens, fine wines, supercars, bespoke suits, custom-made shoes, and the other myriad commodities on which those with ample funds spend freely, while ignoring high-end audio completely and absolutely. [Please: no e-mails about what constitutes “luxury”. I resolutely accept that the definition of luxury is “anything you don’t need.” And whether you like it or not, high-end audio is a luxury, EXACTLY like Ferraris and weekends in Cancun and bottles of Siepi.]

    Their verdict, with only one person disagreeing, was brutal. They concurred that the same old so-called “high end” brands that don’t sell doodly-squat, but which turn up at show after show, do nothing but dilute the industry. They agreed that presentation, salesmanship and perceived value are the primary differences between the retailing and marketing of the best of high-end audio, and, say, an Hermès scarf or Purdey shotgun.

    Suggestions from these sages included severely selective high-end audio areas at any of the “salons privées” around the world, wherein companies such as Bentley and Patek Philippe and Louis Vuitton showcase their wares for people who can afford them. All at the dinner were fascinated by the acquisition of Meridian by one of the world’s five most important luxury goods conglomerates. This would be the litmus test: could high-end audio actually be sold the people who can afford it, rather than depending on impoverished audiophiles? Could the company that owns Cartier and IWC and Piaget sell DACs and active loudspeakers?

    If this sounds too elitist for you, then it’s time you had a reality check: what’s more elitist than a $100,000 turntable? A $20,000 cartridge? A 2W amplifier for $80,000????

    I’m sorry if, like me, you’re not rich. But unlike so many of my fellow audio journalists I don’t resent the people who earned the money to buy the stuff I wish I could afford.

    Maggie Thatcher is credited (and paraphrased) with the observation, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” To that I add:

    High-end audio is wonderful. But somebody has to buy the stuff.




    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-10 00:23   


    Joe_Thank you my friend. I appreciate it._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-10 03:10   
    Something to remember when setting up your system:




    Polishing or cutting?

    Sorry about yesterday’s post. As you probably figured out it was an article for PS Tracks, not a post from me.icon redface Polishing or cutting?

    A friend came by and visited our sound room and was duly impressed with what he heard.

    He noticed that I use lifts to get the loudspeaker cables off of the floor. Much to my surprise, he went home and did the same thing to his system and emailed me that while there was a slight improvement to the sound, he was still a country mile away from what he heard at PS.

    The problem is he’s focusing on polishing when he should be cutting instead.

    When you want to create a gem you first make a rough cut to get the shape right then polish until is shines.

    I give this advice a lot: if you don’t have 90% of what you are hoping for in your system, don’t start adding small tweaks to get there.

    Build a strong foundation first, then polish second.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-04 04:15   
    A thought on how to bring more people into the high end in the 21st century.



    Can you do it for $1000?

    After reading yesterday’s post I am reminded about the inevitable followup questions people ask after first hearing a high-end stereo system. ”Can I get that for $1000? If so, sign me up.”

    I always feel so inadequate explaining how this system is a compilation of many hand-selected pieces of equipment, hours of hand tuning and thousands of dollars. To the new wannabe’s that’s an enormous hurdle to getting into the high-end. And here’s the interesting part: it isn’t the price, it’s the package they want.

    So there you have part of the conundrum in a nutshell – every single person I have ever demonstrated the system for wants one – yet there are no packaged solutions we can offer – at any price.

    I would love to be able to just point them to a website, dealer, magazine – anything – and say, “start with system A and you’ll get 80% of what you just heard”. Instead, I am relegated to suggesting this or that speaker, piece of electronics, etc.

    Dealers and catalogs of old used to put together packages like this – but for whatever reason – they don’t any more.

    High-end Wannabe’s don’t know what’s possible until we show them – but then there’s nowhere to go.

    Someone ought to fix that.

    scott1019
    Sonyphile
    Joined: Aug 07, 2010
    Posts: 543
    From: USA>>Ohio
     Posted: 2011-11-22 13:33   
    From my understanding the source material sends the input signal to all the rest of the components where it gets altered, whether it be through the digital or analog domain, and then made larger by the amplifier and then finally to the speakers which move the air in accordance with the signal being sent to them by the amplifier. 

    There is no one part of the chain that is the most important, but with poor source material what's the point!?   So in regards to this argument the quality of the source material is the most important.   However, great source material will only sound mediocre with mediocre speakers and components.  To truly maximize fidelity it takes good quality stuff from beginning to end.   Not necessarily the most expensive however.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-22 17:33   
     Scott_I see that I left something out in my opening statement of his post. He earlier stated that power was the foundation and most important link in the component chain as all components are dependent on it. I agree that the AC is extremely important as all components are dependent on the quality of the electrical signal in the chain.


    My understanding of the audio chain is the same as yours and I agree that all are important. As you said the signal from the source gets altered by the preamp and then enlargened by the amp and then passed on to the speakers. In a perfect world no component would alter the sound but only reproduce it exactly as it was recorded from whatever media is being used. Vinyl, disc, etc. But we don't live in a perfect world. Audiophiles have been arguing which component is most important for ages and probably will continue to do so. Each position in the arguement has valid points. While I feel most will agree that all have an effect and therefore all are important. My feeling is the component that may have the greatest impact on SQ is the weakest link in the chain. I personally don't buy into either the source or speakers being the most important though. The source, no matter how great it is, is only as good as what comes after it. A pre-amp can do alot to overcome the shortcomings of a source yet the source can do little to overcome any shortcomings in the pre. The preamp can vastly alter the signal sent to it for better or for worse. Yet the preamp is dependent on the amp to pass on that signal while at the same time magnifing it. Speakers are passive mechanical devices. (Even "active" speakers as they are IMO only passive speakers with amps located internally.) As such I feel they are most effected by other components than any other in the chain. Speakers, no matter how good they are, are nearly totally dependent on the signal sent from the amp. As passive devices they can't really "improve" on what they receive. At their best they can only perfectly reproduce the signal sent to them by the amp. But to be fair, since no speaker is truly capable of that they can "color" the signal in ways that can be either beneficial or detrimental. So it seems to me that the amp has the most control of the chain since everything is so dependent on the job it does. Even in a perfect world it alters the signal more than any other component simply by the fact it magnifies it so much more than the other active components. It also has almost complete control of the passive device speakers which are what finally sends out the sound. In the real world it can to a certain degree overcome some shortcomings in the preamp. But in reality, like other components, it too can alter the signal for the worse. Since any component can have a detrimental effect on SQ again I'm left with the weakest/poorest sounding link perhaps being the most important. If not that then IMO it's the amp since it has such an effect on everything before and after it. I know many will disagree with my opinion and they have every right to and they can make great cases for something different. Everyone is entitled to their opinion just as I am to mine._mykl 

    Maxxwire
    Sony Adept
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 26074
    From: Portland, Oregon - USA
     Posted: 2011-11-22 16:45   
    One weak link has the capability of spoiling the sound quality of a high resolution Audio System regardless of its placement within the System.



    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-21 06:52   
    Maybe the idea in this post will help someone fine tune the sound of their system.





    Blame the new guy

    Being on the front lines as a manufacturer gives me an interesting perspective most of you reading these posts don’t have.

    One of the continuing themes I see, from this bird’s eye view, is the tendency to blame the new guy: regardless of any facts to the contrary.

    If we add a new phono preamplifier and the system now has hum, we blame the new piece of gear. Add a new Power Plant to the system and if something goes wrong, blame the new guy. Add a new cable and the system sounds bright. The list is endless.

    In many cases folks are right – but in perhaps half the situations, they are wrong. It’s an interesting phenomena, one that fascinates me.

    What happens in many of these situations is we notice something that’s been with us all along, for the first time, when we add a new piece of kit. This is because we’ve gone from autopilot mode to critical listener mode.

    I first noticed this in myself when I got a car back from the body shop. The rear fender had been bapped pretty badly and it took several weeks of major body work to repair. When I got the car back, my first reaction was to be hyper critical about how it drove – after all, the best anyone at a body shop can do is get it back to original. It’ll never be better. Funny thing is, I noticed that the car pulled to the left consistently. It hadn’t done that before; take it back.

    Turns out they never touched anything in the front and they kindly pointed out the problem (obviously from before) and fixed it anyway.

    Point is, I never tested the car before the work.

    Next time you get a new piece of kit in your system, take the time to really evaluate its benefits or downfalls – but first – give a critical listen to what you have before you make any changes.

    It really helps.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-23 13:14   
    I posted today's email by Paul to another thread but I feel that it's apropos here as well.





    How do you know when it’s right?

    You’ve just finished polishing your system and settling down to enjoy it. But how do you know it’s right?

    The short answer is: when it’s real.

    Imaging, tonal balance, toe in, toe out all matter to achieve only one thing: reality in your living room.

    Does that singer sound like she is in the room with you? Does the orchestra sound like it’s live, right there, right now when you close your eyes?

    If yes then you know it’s right. If no, then you need more work or different combinations of equipment.

    And to those who get it right but then make it better, I’ll answer the age old question: if it sounds real, how can it get better than real?

    The answer is that “real” is an illusion and we are so far away from fooling people that musicians are actually in the room that “real” is relative and “right” is temporary.

    But if you can relax and believe it’s close to real, then it’s right.






    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-22 11:15   
    I've said before that Paul McGowen seems to vacillate on his views in his posts. This seems to me to be in direct contradiction to something he said earlier about foundation being the most important component in a system.



    The big question

    What’s the most important component in your system?

    Source component manufacturers will tell you its their source products.

    Power conditioning manufacturers will tell you it’s a proper AC foundation.

    Cable manufacturers will tell you its what connects everything together.

    Amp and preamp manufacturers will tell you it’s their in-between products.

    Speaker manufacturers will tell you it’s their speakers.

    Dealers will tell you it all matters.

    I will tell you it’s two things: none of which we make.

    Loudspeakers and source materials.

    Here’s the logic. If you take the best electronic chain, fed by the best AC power and connected with the finest cables and play that through a crappy pair of loudspeakers it will never sound good. If you do the opposite it won’t sound its best but it’ll sound pretty respectable.

    And then there’s source materials. Compressed and lousy internet radio streamed through the world’s best system sounds dreadful.

    I want you to have a great high-end audio experience.

    Think about it.

    sterling1
    Sony Addict
    Joined: Nov 16, 2010
    Posts: 237
    From: Louisville, KY
     Posted: 2011-11-25 05:46   
    I was in the advertising agency business. I produced radio commercials almost daily. In the recording studio, musicians, as well as voice-over talent did their thing and I did mine, which was to evaluate their performance. I've got to tell ya, in one cozy little studio in the suburbs, I indeed could not distinguish real from recorded, at least until we compressed everything. It was back when digital first came on the scene that for awhile things did not sound like real, but not for long. I'd challenge anyone to distinguish the sound from my Sony PCM-7010F DAT Recorders from live over the same sound reinforcement system.

    [ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2011-11-25 05:47 ]

    [ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2011-11-25 05:50 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-11-25 12:34   


    I want to make sure I understand what you're saying. Are you saying that the live performance played back thru a certain amp/speaker system was indistinguishable from the recorded version palyed back thru the same amp/speaker system?_mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-02 03:10   
    I decided to post this not because it relates to this thread but simply because I found it amusing. Ironically I've heard some very expensive systems that caused the same reaction in me because they were so poorly setup.




    Drink more beer!

    My post of a couple of days ago entitled Like Bose? wasn’t meant to bash their products, just relaying a story. It sure got a lot of people talking so I thought, well, what the heck. Let’s go bashing!

    I am reminded of a story years ago that involved the manager of our local Pacific Stereo store and a pair of Bose 901 Direct Reflecting loudspeakers.

    So for those of you that don’t remember, the first big product Bose ever had was a speaker that used all small drivers (I think they were 5″ that were heavily EQ’d to increase the bass and treble to something close to “flat”. They then pointed the speakers at the rear wall to give a big concert hall effect. It actually wasn’t a bad idea and in some cases could sound pretty good. Not in this case, unfortunately.

    The manager of the store, Bill, was a total Bose devotee who owned all Bose electronics, the speakers and then dedicated a room to the system. In a Bose dedicated room what you did was reinforce the rear wall to achieve maximum reflectivity. In this case a floor to ceiling set of bricks were cemented into place to act as a reflector for the sound.

    The 901′s were notoriously inefficient because of the need to EQ them, so this required a huge amplifier (which Bose made) of which Bill had and was quite proud of.

    One day, while in the store, he cornered a couple of us and was raving about the great sound he was getting. ”Concert hall performance” in his listening room. Had to be heard to be believed. We were taunted into coming to hear this because we were “Audiophiles” who made fun of Bose and we needed to be set straight on how music really could sound.

    Came the big day we were ushered into Bill’s living room, offered a beer (which I declined) and spent the next 30 minutes listening to Bill talk up the system’s virtues.

    Then he placed the needle onto the album and we started to listen.

    I think I lasted through half of the first track before I went to cover my ears up. Seriously, this wasn’t Audiophile snobbery on my part this was pain avoidance.

    “Bill, can you turn it down?” I yelled over the music.

    “You can’t enjoy a concert with the volume down” Bill yelled back.

    “Yes, but doesn’t this hurt your ears?”

    “Yeah, but then I just drink more beer and it sounds great”.

    By golly, best advice I’ve ever gotten for a tweak.




    sterling1
    Sony Addict
    Joined: Nov 16, 2010
    Posts: 237
    From: Louisville, KY
     Posted: 2011-12-03 01:23   

    On 2011-11-25 12:34, mykyll2727 wrote:


    I want to make sure I understand what you're saying. Are you saying that the live performance played back thru a certain amp/speaker system was indistinguishable from the recorded version palyed back thru the same amp/speaker system?_mykl


    Yes, unless I'm actually  looking into the recording booth to observe talent on mic moving their lips it is not possible for  me to distinguish between live and as they say Memorex.


    -----------------
    TA-E9000ES, TA-N9000ES, TA-P9000ES,
    DVP-S9000ES, TC-K950ES, PS-4750, ST-SA50ES, TA-N80ES, (2) PCM-7010F, RM-D7200, RDR-GX7, TCD-D8, SBM-1, ECM-999PR

    [ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2011-12-03 01:26 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-07 04:22   
    Paul had a clever idea I actually hadn't thought of.





    Dedicated lines

    With all the great power products on the market today it’s easy to forget that we still benefit from the basics – like dedicated power lines.

    A dedicated power line is simply a separate power circuit and wire dedicated specifically to your audio system. The key point is that nothing else is on that same circuit.

    Even the most sophisticated power products like a Power Plant benefit from a dedicated circuit if for no other reason than ground contamination. You don’t want a computer, for example, sharing the same power and ground on the same power line as your hi-fi system.

    One easy way to get a dedicated line without involving an electrician is to simply dedicate one existing circuit in your home to the hi-fi system. Figure out what else is plugged in by turning off the circuit breaker, move everything not hi-fi related to another circuit, then use those small child safety protectors to cover up any empty outlets.

    You don’t need fancy wires or installation experts. You just need to make sure nothing else is using the power on one circuit.

    I always think of it as putting up a fence so my “neighbors” don’t invade and keep my area clean and pure.

    Like they say, “a good fence makes for great neighbors”.

    Keep your power line for yourself.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-06 18:32   


    I felt Paul had an interesting point of view here on how to improve a systems SQ by considering it's "personality".




    Personalities

    Have you ever stopped to notice that your high-end audio system has a personality? Mine sure does.

    Just about everything we interact with has a story or a personality that describes the way we relate to it. Your hi-fi system’s no different.

    I have two listening systems, the first is my big one. Its personality is big, impressive but a true one-person setup. It’s physically imposing but always brings a smile to your face. Impressive one man band.

    My second is a much smaller affair, seats many, amazes and delights but has tonal balance problems that stick out like a sore thumb. Life of the party.

    The sound system in my car has a great full sound, impressive bass but always seems to hit the same bass notes and gets fatiguing with time. Average Joe.

    Start thinking about your system’s personality. It helps us think in a different and more objective light when it comes tro improvements.

    sterling1
    Sony Addict
    Joined: Nov 16, 2010
    Posts: 237
    From: Louisville, KY
     Posted: 2011-12-05 04:54   
    Yeah, I see it as you do. Sometimes I actually find one or two of my Sony TA-E9000ES's gazillion surround sound modes to sound better to me than A.F.D. or 2 CH Soundfield.

    [ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2011-12-05 04:55 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-05 03:38   
    Interesting point of view on "live" and "purity". It got me thinking about what exactly it is I/we are trying to create/reproduce.



    Is it pure?

    I’ve been thinking recently about our discussions on tone controls a few weeks ago.

    Initially I objected when a commenter suggested we could use tone controls selectively to improve recordings. That seemed to violate the purity of the recording. After all, isn’t the goal to get as close to what the recordist’s wanted you to hear in the first place?

    Maybe not. Actually, when I think about it, I don’t really care what the original intent of the recording was.

    I am always doing whatever I can to getting as close as possible to a “live recording”. Live (not in the sense of an audience) means to me the system has gone away and I can make believe what I am hearing is actually in the room with me. Yes, that’s the goal; always.

    So anything that gets me closer to the goal of having live musicians playing in my room is good.

    Even if I have to “improve” upon the original purity of the recording to achieve that.

    …and yes (horrors) even if tone controls get me there.

    sterling1
    Sony Addict
    Joined: Nov 16, 2010
    Posts: 237
    From: Louisville, KY
     Posted: 2011-12-05 03:54   
    Interesting about "the intent", that's to say, folks attempting to get sound that re-creates the intent of the recording engineer. Wouldn't that mean having the recording engineer over to your home for dinner and a cocktail and afterwards having  him fiddle with the stereo while listening to  the recording he produced?

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-05 04:24   


    Sterling1_I'm in total agreement with you as I've thought about the same thing myself many times. Yet still I find myself affected by outside "influences" that claim I should be after "sonic purity". I steadfastly(and stupidly) use direct mode even if other paths sound better to me. It's time I start being smarter(and stronger) and just do what sounds best to me. Afterall the intent of my system is supposed to be about my pleasure and what sounds best to me not what someone else thinks it should sound like. I'm sure if I stick to that attitude my pleasure will increase and I'll be alot closer to Paul's definition of "live". Why should I care what the recordist truly intended it sound like because what's to say that even if I exactly duplicate what the recordist intended that I won't enjoy "my live" sound more anyway._mykl 

    sterling1
    Sony Addict
    Joined: Nov 16, 2010
    Posts: 237
    From: Louisville, KY
     Posted: 2011-12-04 05:33   
    Speaking of the chain, get the musician or voice-over talent off mic and then, live, not going through the chain, does sound different. It's why I perceive speakers to be what limits us today from the life like experience we seek. Today's media, media players, and amplification seems to me to be sufficient to produce a satisfying illusion. Perhaps, multi-channel could be the next frontier, not for surround but to provide a better sound stage for orchestra works. You already know your speakers do a great job on solo instruments. It's when the speakers are re-producing complex  things that it all gets a little flat and muddy. I think something like Dolby 64.2 would get the job done. Whaddya think? BTW, making a speaker array for something like 64 channels could be done for peanuts today.Imagine, every instrument in an orchestra having it's own appropriate speaker for the  effect we enjoy now w hen listening to guitar, cello, piano, and other solo instruments from our three way 6 speaker systems. Also I imagine these speaker arrays for multi-channel sound could have very simple crossovers, but then again I'm just a laymen when it comes to  understanding how all this stuff works.
    --------------
    TA-E9000ES, TA-N9000ES, TA-P9000ES,
    DVP-S9000ES, TC-K950ES, PS-4750, ST-SA50ES, TA-N80ES, (2) PCM-7010F, RM-D7200, RDR-GX7, TCD-D8, SBM-1, ECM-999PR

    [ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2011-12-04 05:38 ]

    [ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2011-12-04 07:17 ]

    [ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2011-12-04 07:24 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-03 18:03   

    On 2011-12-03 01:23, sterling1 wrote:

    On 2011-11-25 12:34, mykyll2727 wrote:


    I want to make sure I understand what you're saying. Are you saying that the live performance played back thru a certain amp/speaker system was indistinguishable from the recorded version palyed back thru the same amp/speaker system?_mykl


    Yes, unless I'm actually  looking into the recording booth to observe talent on mic moving their lips it is not possible for  me to distinguish between live and as they say Memorex.


    -----------------
    TA-E9000ES, TA-N9000ES, TA-P9000ES,
    DVP-S9000ES, TC-K950ES, PS-4750, ST-SA50ES, TA-N80ES, (2) PCM-7010F, RM-D7200, RDR-GX7, TCD-D8, SBM-1, ECM-999PR

    [ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2011-12-03 01:26 ]





    Then that means that today's source media are even better than I thought. Then the peoblem is some where from the mics on down. Perhaps even the whole chain.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-12 03:14   
    Another email regarding the sound you want from your ystem.




    Walking backwards

    In the January 2012 edition of TAS Robert Harley wrote a great article entitled the Price of Progress wherein he details the steady decline of recording quality after the late 1970′s.

    This really brings to light one of the conundrums Audiophiles face: play it like it is – warts and all – or make it euphonic so everything sounds great.

    Robert Harley’s system is setup to play warts and all – meaning a great recording sounds great and a bad recording sounds dreadful. This is the way most of us have our systems tweaked to.

    I have heard many a system (even owned a few) that had the opposite effect – everything sounded great, some better than others – but none sounded bad.

    This dilemma is sometimes known as the double edged sword and can be both a good and bad thing – sending some long-time Audiophiles away from the high-end altogether so they can just enjoy all their music.

    I don’t know that we need be forced into an either or situation as many seem to think.

    Robert Harley and I make our livings relying on systems that flesh out the tinniest of details in equipment. Our systems are setup like microscopes first and enjoyment second.

    Your system can be both if you’re ok accepting slightly less resolution and ‘nth degree of detail.

    You don’t have to take too many steps backwards to have your cake and eat it too.

    David_S
    Sony Legend
    Joined: Aug 03, 2004
    Posts: 905
    From: BC, Canada
     Posted: 2011-12-13 00:18   
    mykyll2727-The article you posted on the 7th (Dedicated Lines) relates to many of us more than we realize.

    My townhouse is about 20 years old.  This is quite current as far as wiring standards & electrical codes are concerned.  I recently replaced some lighting fixtures.  Individual circuit breakers control more outlets and fixtures in my townhouse than I expected.

    Circuit testers like the tester pictured below are fast & safe aids to help determine what outlets circuit breakers control.

    -----------------
    TA- E77ES E1000ESD N77ES F555ES
    RM- AV3000 AX1400 (2)AX4000
    SDP-EP9ES, ST-S730ES
    STR-DA4ES, STR-DA3100ES
    DVP- (3)NS999ES NS3100ES CX777ES
    CDP-X303ES, CDP-CX88ES
    MDS-JA20ES, TC-K717ES, DTC-690
    Pioneer CLD-3090 Laserdisc

    [ This message was edited by: David_S on 2011-12-13 00:20 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-13 03:21   
    David_S_That tester is a great idea!! Sure beats the trial and error method I've been toying with. I'm going to check into getting one of those._mykl 

    jehill
    Sony Senior Advisor
    Joined: Mar 13, 2003
    Posts: 14283
    From: Sewell, NJ
     Posted: 2011-12-18 16:13   


    If you look at the sensitivities of the two makes, you will see the top of the line Infinity line has a sensitivity of 91-92 dB compared to a sensitivity of 97-98 dB for the comparable Klipsch line.  A 6 dB difference in sensitivity is not insignificant.  That means that it takes four times the power to drive the Infinity line or conversely 1/4 the power to drive the Klipsch line.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-30 03:23   
    McGowen is an advocate for keeping solid state always powered on.






    Leave it on

    In an earlier post I mentioned that we were one of the guys who first introduced the idea to high-end audio of just turning the front panel light off instead of the power.

    I wanted to touch on this subject once more because I think it’s important. Important to keep your equipment powered up and at the ready – as long as we’re talking solid state not tubes.

    I think most of us understand that when a piece of high-end gear has been warmed up and burned in for some time it sounds better – but there seems to be a common misunderstanding that left on it wears out – when actually the opposite is true.

    If you switch off the power to your equipment day in and day out it won’t last as long as simply leaving it powered on. Why? Because the inrush current to charge your power supply up takes its toll over time – while steady state power has no such problem. Your electronics take a small thrashing every time you plug and unplug them from the power.

    I think the myth that products wear out started with tubes and mechanical devices like turntables, CD transport mechanisms, hard drives etc. (because it’s true in their case). But a purely electronic piece like a power amp or preamp are better left powered on at all times – with but few exceptions.

    So, keep the lights on with your equipment – it helps everything live longer and sound better.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-15 03:24   


    Something for you DIYs that might prove to be a SQ improvement.




    Lighting the fuse

    There’s a really interesting discussion going on our forums right now. You can take a look here.

    Central to the controversy on the Community Forums are a lot of valid questions about why something so small in the power chain would make a difference: but general consensus is that it does.

    My view is a little different. How could it not?

    If you think about it we spend a lot of energy getting the best power cables to our equipment and then all that beautifully built copper cable gets necked down to a tiny quarter inch whisker of wire designed to let only the right amount of current through – too much and poof the whisker is vaporized and the equipment protected. Even the lowly PC board trace has a magnitude more copper content than a fuse.

    Actually a fuse is perhaps the single worst thing we designers seem to want to put into the power path of equipment we design. Adding a switch contact in a magnetic circuit breaker is generally better but not quite as safe as a fuse because of the time it takes to activate – and certainly a lot more expensive. Over time the engineers at PS are trying their best to eliminate fuses from every piece of equipment we manufacture wherever it’s practical.

    I can’t explain why some fuses with identical wire whisker sizes sound different but they surely do – a lot different.

    If your equipment has an internal fuse, give some thought to upgrading it to a better sounding variety.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-17 10:09   
    I'm posting this email by McGowen only because I find it perplexing. While I agree with his assessment of Infinity now that it's part of the Harman Group I have to take exception to his ststing the same about Klipsch. And I've never owned a Klipsch speaker. I'm not aware of the, IMO, now very limited Infinity lineup having any speaks with horns. On the other hand I'm unaware of a Klipsch speak that doesn't have horns. Indeed Infinity does seem now to be the "red-headed stepchild" of the Harman Group but Klipsch still seems to be run by people serious about the products they turn out. Either Paul needs glasses or he writes many of these emails just to be arguementive.




    Commodities

    I was thumbing through a stereo catalog recently and came across a full page presentation for Infinity loudspeakers on the left page and Klipsch loudspeakers on the right page. The designers of the catalog used photos showing their entire lineup from small to large loudspeaker in a line. I am sure you know the type of catalog shot I am referring to.

    Honestly, I could not tell the difference between the two company’s product line – save the fact that Klipsch has copper colored drivers and Infinity doesn’t. Sad? I am not sure.

    On the one hand we have two formerly proud leading edge companies run by passionate artists in their fields. Those companies have been reduced to being run by a staff engineer and a bean counter.

    On the other hand they are actually pretty good products for the average consumer and a real step up from what they might buy.

    Part of what’s cool about high-end audio is the people and passion behind the brands. Some reach a point where they are turned into commodities and are lost to the high-end world. Others remain true to the passion and personal involvement, even if the original founders and artists have moved on.

    I guess it’s just a matter of your viewpoint.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-19 01:26   
    John_Excellent point! Aside from both companies being parts of conglomerates (The Harman Group and the Klipsch Group) I just don't see the two companies or their products really being comparable._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-19 08:53   
    I found this email by McGowen interesting.




    Turn the lights off

    In the mid 1970′s every piece of high-end audio equipment had a power switch to turn the unit on and off. We were among those that changed all that forever.

    Power switches were necessary with tube equipment because tubes start to degrade from the moment you turn them on until finally they just need to be replaced. Transistors, on the other hand, live essentially forever and work better when left on. They certainly sound better when on for a long time.

    When we built our first product, the little phono stage, we were too cheap to put on any controls - including a power switch – there was but a line cord and an LED on the front. Our intention was for you to plug it in and leave it on as we had already figured out it sounded better after being on for some time.

    The first hint of trouble on the farm came in the form of a return – which was not anything new as we offered an unconditional money back guarantee – so we’d occasionally get a unit back. But this unit came back with the attached power cord hacked up and a switch placed in the middle so the user could turn the unit on and off. Curious and slightly miffed we wrote a letter (no email at the time) to the customer asking why he went to all the trouble to put a switch in the power cord. The answer surprised us: “The light stayed on when I wasn’t using it and this bugged me”.

    Then a light bulb in our heads went on. If we added a “power” switch to our units that merely turned the LED light on and off but left the circuitry active, we’d be happy and so too would the customers. From that point on every product we produced had a “power” switch that did two things: muted the outputs and turned off the light – power was never turned off. Because of this PS equipment has always been ready to sound its best from the instant you turned it on.

    Today it is standard practice with most equipment (except tubes and power amplifiers) to simply turn off the front panel lights or display and leave everything else running. Why? Because anything with a remote control must stay on to be activated by the remote.

    So the next time you turn “off” your PS equipment remember that we’re keeping the home fires burning for your listening pleasure, we just remember to turn the lights off before we retire for the evening.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-20 04:19   


    I'm not surprised at a pre-amp having stayed the same for the last 10yrs. IMO preamps, amps and speakers haven't fundamentally changed much in 30+yrs._



     Technology brands

    I was leafing through one of the magazines recently and came across an ad for a preamplifier whose claim to fame was it hadn’t changed in 10 years. Interesting.

    It reminded me about a division in philosophy that exists in almost every industry: new and innovative vs. old and trusted. Both have extreme value to the right person.

    New and innovative appeals to people who want the latest greatest and enjoy pushing the envelope to extend the frontier of what’s possible. Old and trusted appeals to a much more conservative crowd who prefer to let the innovators hash through the good and bad of new directions and then accept what works into their own spheres.

    I think one approach cannot exist without the other and therefore both are equally valid.

    The challenge is to figure out which camp you’re in and then follow those like-minded people and companies.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that new and innovative is what floats my boat.

    How about you?

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-20 04:27   
    With regard to Paul's email above, I disagree that one can't exist without the other. Home audio is living proof IMO. Aside from source tech it's been pretty stagnant, except for pricing, for decades. I also argue that if there's so much progressive thinking/innovation, where are the results?_mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-21 09:44   
    An interesting anecdote which touches on the sonic "purity" vs enjoyment question.





    Drop the drum!

    Years ago the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was held in Chicago and it was at one of those shows where we had a line outside our door from opening to closing to hear the system. The line was so long that we actually had to employ someone to manage the line so it didn’t get unruly.

    What caught everyone’s attention was the Infinity IRS loudspeakers were playing in our room. My friend Arnie loaned us a pair of these 1.2 ton loudspeakers after much pleading and begging on my part – never a finer loudspeaker had I ever heard – and the sound we were getting in the room was stunning.

    The system consisted of PS electronics and an Oracle turntable as the source. By far THE most popular piece of music was Dafos, a Reference Recording which featured Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, Flora Purim and Airto Moreira. It was mostly a percussion piece and on one track a giant drum apparently fell over during the taping and they left it on the disc. On the IRS, with several thousand watts of servo bass amplification and twelve 12″ woofers for the bass, the impact of that drum hitting the floor was something no one had ever witnessed before. I am not talking pant rattling bass (which it was) but window moving bass. Literally, the windows in the hotel room visibly pushed in and out when that drum landed on the floor – it was and still is – the most jaw dropping sonic experience I have ever had.

    Then in walked Max Townshend designer of the Rock turntable. He stood in line to hear the system and when it was over he approached me and said he thought we had a problem and could he come back that evening to fix it? Sure. Why not?

    Max showed up promptly at show’s end and with him one of his Rock turntables. He explained to me that what we were actually hearing when the drum landed was turntable feedback – a problem his Rock table didn’t exhibit. He connected his table, played the track and the drum hit the floor with a loud thud but the windows didn’t move and the pant legs didn’t flap in the breeze. It was totally unexciting. But he was right, the performance we got was not real. It was an artifact of a poorly designed turntable.

    Then Max volunteered to leave the table so we could present the real, pure sound that was actually on the disc. I thought about this for about a microsecond, thanked Max and sent him packing.

    You still have to have fun when you’re playing with high-end.




    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-23 08:12   
    McGowen is an advocate of using subs in a system and of servo subs in particular. I've been researching servo subs lately.





    Servo bass

    I’ve written a lot about bass and its importance in your system in these posts. It’s a subject I’ll probably continue writing about – so important it is to the music.

    As my readers know I am always surprised when I find a system without benefit of a subwoofer. There’s perhaps one or two loudspeaker systems in the world that don’t benefit from a sub and my guess is most people don’t own those systems.

    So if most great systems have subs (and they should) then why is it there aren’t many great subwoofers available? I haven’t been studying subwoofers of late but to my knowledge there are very few truly high-end subs out there. High-end to me, by the way, means they are either very well EQ’d or better still, servo operated. What is a servo? It’s feedback on the woofer.

    The problem with all loudspeakers is they have relatively high distortion and are not flat – woofers being the biggest culprit of them all. Measurement folk turn a blind eye to real performance standards when it comes to loudspeakers and proclaim 5% distortion and flatness of better than 3dB as magnificent. Imagine an amplifier with those specs.

    A servo solves both flatness and distortion failings to a pretty impressive degree – at least an order of magnitude when designed correctly. To add a servo to a woofer, one must attach what’s called an accelerometer to the woofer and then use that device as an active part of the system making real time corrections based on a comparison with the input signal. Accelerometers range from expensive to very cheap and all have about the same performance. Devices we used when I was designing such things were less than a dollar.

    Does adding a servo increase the complexity of designing an active woofer?

    Heck yes, but since when did hard have any bearing on doing what’s right?






    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-24 09:58   
    REALLY????!! I have to take exception to McGowen's latest email. Sony still makes high-end audio and the SS-AR1s are IMO examples of, at the very least, a commitment to it along with the rest of their reference line. Even if at this point it isn't extensive. What's more how many companies have been more innovative in audio than Sony? AFA The Harman Group; Levinson may not be what it was when Mark still had the company but it still qualifies as high end and Lexicon certainly does. JBL has their Project Array Series which are certainly high-end. Paul IMO seems very full of himself here. Perhaps a marketing attempt? If it is I find it a shabby one.




    David vs. Goliath

    When I meet new people I am often asked how is it we even dare to compete against the giants in our industry like Sony or Harman?

    There’s a simple answer and then a more complex one.

    The simple answer is we’re not – never have been. Our market is the high-end, Sony and Harman don’t even have that on their radar.

    But the more complex answer is interesting because it really goes to the core of innovation.

    Perhaps the real question is “the big guys have all the R and D money so what you make must always be just a pale copy of what they invent. How do you survive and why do people purchase your products?”

    Fact is most innovation comes from smaller entrepreneurial companies, not the big guys. The reason this is true is that smaller companies have less to lose than the bigger guys and are driven out of necessity to make some noise with their product innovations to be noticed.

    Bigger companies are more cautious, have many more layers and don’t need to have their products make the noise – they have well financed marketing divisions that do that.

    So how does David beat Goliath? He doesn’t even try, all he needs to do is win his own game.





    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2011-12-27 10:36   
    We shall see.




    The new bad

    For some reason I keep thinking that music reproduction is getting worse; what with the proliferation of iPods and portable music devices. But I am wrong.

    A quick listen and a bit of remembering about just how bad audio has been in the past – the first CD players, AM radio, cheesy one-box systems – and I am pleasantly surprised that the new bad is pretty good.

    Which means that if the new bad is good, then the gap between low-end and high-end audio is narrowing.

    This is great news and just in time for the music industry to start flourishing again with their new model.

    I’d say with some level of confidence we’re right at the cusp of great things happening for music and high-end audio.

    David_S
    Sony Legend
    Joined: Aug 03, 2004
    Posts: 905
    From: BC, Canada
     Posted: 2012-01-04 00:09   
    Good troubleshooting technique is a skill that takes practice.  That practice often includes a lot of trial & error.  An efficient troubleshooting technique becomes automatic after time.


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    TA- E77ES E80ES E1000ESD E9000ES TA- N77ES F555ES, ST-S730ES RM- AV3000 AX1400 (2)AX4000 STR- DA4ES DA3100ES (2)DA5700ES (2)GX10ES DVP- (3)NS999ES NS3100ES CX777ES CDP-X303ES, CDP-M555ES MDS-JA20ES, TC-K717ES, DTC-690

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-04 00:11   
    David_S_A very true and excellent point!_mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-03 23:54   


    A good tip here and just for a reminder in case some of us forget.





    Look for trouble not solutions

    It may seem counter intuitive to look for trouble rather than solutions but in almost every case it’s a better idea.

    Take for example hum. Many of us experience hum in our systems and the first thing we do is try various hum breaking tricks: cheater plugs, Humbusters, different cables. We’re working on solutions before we know what the problem is. All we really know at this point is the symptom – not the problem.

    The challenge is not trying solutions but finding the problems. I always instruct people to start at the amplifier and work backwards to isolate the problem. Remove the inputs to the amp, see if the hum is still there. Keep this process up adding back one piece at a time until you hear the hum. Now you’ve isolated the problem – and a solution is much easier to figure out.

    Imagine if you went into your doctor with an ailment and he gave you a different pill to try each day – if one worked then he’d know what was wrong with you – provided the others didn’t kill you first.

    Look for trouble first and solutions to the trouble second. It sharpens your focus.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-07 12:54   
    So what's you definition of an audiophile?




    What is an Audiophile?

    Yesterday’s post about the Myth of Perfection stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest. That’s great.

    The essence of the post is that perfection is only a point of view and only valid at the instant it happens and only if we accept the warts of the moment as part and parcel of that perfection. In other words, a perfect musical performance doesn’t mean the performer made no errors. It simply means those errors were perfect for the moment.

    Quite a few of my readers wrote back to say their quest for perfection in their high-end systems means they are an Audiophile by definition and they never intend to stop seeking the perfect performance. In fact, their quest for perfection is what defines them as Audiophiles and felt my post was meant to discredit their goals.

    I disagree. In my view Audiophiles are those of us who have a desire for better sound and then take action to achieve that goal.

    I too strive for the mythical perfection in my system, in my interaction with the music – but that’s not what qualifies me as an Audiophile – although most Audiophiles are looking for the same thing. I have met many an Audiophile who are completely delighted with their system and are looking for nothing more than to simply enjoy it every day. They are every bit as much an enthusiast as the person who never reaches a point of musical ecstasy and is never quite happy with the system.

    I have no qualms with people striving for perfection – believe me – I support it and love the process. I just want us to remember there is no final plateau to reach – it is in fact the journey itself that is the goal and along the way we hit perfect time and again without even knowing it.

    Perfection happens all the time in our lives – we just have to recognize when it occurs and bask in the moment – because it never stays in one place.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-07 13:14   
    The above post is another one of those by McGowen I find contradictory. He says he knows many audiophiles who are completely happy with their systems and only want to enjoy them. (The goal I'm after with my system.) Yet he turns around and says he wants us to remember that there is no final plateau to reach and that the journey itself is the goal. So what then, have the ones who have reached a point of contentment with their systems lost track of the "goal" of home audio? Have they stopped being audiophiles? He states they are indeed audiophiles, so which is it? Sounds to me like the statement of a manufacturer who doesn't want us to forget his goal. Which is for us to continuously buy more gear in pursuit of the impossible sonic dream._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-11 03:27   
    McGowen's latest email and a good question.




    Why can’t we have both?

    My friend Art Tedeschi from the Colorado Audiophile Society sent me an interesting observation which I think is rather relevant and relates to our thoughts.

    “I think most died-in-the-wool audiophiles have two distinct goals:

    1) We want a system that bathes us in glorious, unadulterated sonic bliss that washes away our troubles and soothes us emotionally and inspires us intellectually and….

    2) We want a system that’s as true as possible to the live performance.

    Unfortunately, these goals do not necessarily coincide, which is the crux of the problem.

    So however unreachably lofty, my vote would be to strive for accuracy, as I believe the best recordings will always supersede a system that consistently sounds good with all or most sources.

    Practically speaking, of course, I also prefer a system that sounds good, but the industry itself must have some kind of standard to evolve it in a positive direction, and I think the only standard we have now, as flawed as it is, would be the live performance.”

    So accuracy or emotionally inspiring? Heck of a choice.

    Why can’t we have both?

    David_S
    Sony Legend
    Joined: Aug 03, 2004
    Posts: 905
    From: BC, Canada
     Posted: 2012-01-09 01:36   
    Manufacturers try to brainwash us.  Their new product is better than anything ever made.  The re-release of a recording is the best sounding release possible.  Manufacturers cannot survive if we stop buying.

    Most of us have been trapped at least one way.  Maybe some audiophiles have reached the point where they feel that more upgrades are futile and cannot improve their system.  They just want to sit back, relax, and enjoy the music.

    McGowen might know "many audiophiles who are completely happy with their systems and only want to enjoy them".  They are probably the minority number of audiophiles he knows.

    I enjoy modding & the challenge to improve as much as I enjoy listening.  They are all part of my audio pleasure.



    -----------------
    TA- E77ES E80ES E1000ESD E9000ES TA- N77ES F555ES, ST-S730ES RM- AV3000 AX1400 (2)AX4000 STR- DA4ES DA3100ES (2)DA5700ES (2)GX10ES DVP- (3)NS999ES NS3100ES CX777ES CDP-X303ES, CDP-M555ES MDS-JA20ES, TC-K717ES, DTC-690

    magellan
    Sony Devotee
    Joined: Dec 28, 2011
    Posts: 69
    From: San Diego, CA
     Posted: 2012-01-15 05:21   

    On 2012-01-11 03:54, mykyll2727 wrote:
    Regarding the above post and Mr Tedeschi's A and B, I know I want A. Man, do I ever want A. Personally it's what I got into this hobby for and for little else really. Not too sure I should want or even care about B though. Like it's been discussed here before, it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to know what B is and who's to say that even if a could achieve it that I'd like B better, or even as much as A. At this point I think I'll be perfectly fine with A, no matter how close or far it is from B. I feel for me that my continuous, and rather unsatisfying, cycle of upgradeitis stemmed from a greater priority of attaining B instead of A. Now what I want is to get out of that cycle and attain A. It was my initial goal and I'm not sure how or when I lost sight of it. To paraphrase "Damn B, full speed ahead to A". It's going to be my new motto and outlook for my system. _mykl


    You formulate this very well. So well that I realized that it was my goal for years.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-15 05:25   
    magellan_Thanks for the response. It's nice to know I'm not alone._mykl

    magellan
    Sony Devotee
    Joined: Dec 28, 2011
    Posts: 69
    From: San Diego, CA
     Posted: 2012-01-15 05:31   

    On 2012-01-12 03:11, mykyll2727 wrote:
    I found this post by McGowen interesting,



    [SIZE=18px]<A style="COLOR: rgb(51,102,153); FONT-WEIGHT: normal; TEXT-DECORATION: none" class=ecxtpl-content-highlight href="http://psaudio.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=bd5baa3af039b1bce8455f635&id=9db4fadacb&e=b6c3dcf3e2" target=_blank>Studio speakers</A>

    <P style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 10px">Have you ever wondered what recording studio engineers use for monitors? I’ll tell you – probably nothing you’d have in your home or system. For the most part they are anything but high-end.
    <P style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 10px">A few loudspeaker manufacturers proudly show us their products in the studios and mastering rooms of the world, but this is done for advertising and does not represent what the real world speakers are – Genelec, JBL and brands you wouldn’t consider in a high-end setting. Yet we high-end people judge the work mastered on these less-than-high-end speakers on a daily basis.
    <P style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 10px">I remember speaking with Keith Johnson of Reference Recordings asking what he uses and was surprised to learn he has some home brew designs that work for him. As Keith told me “you’d hate them in your listening room” but they work for Keith.
    <P style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 10px">If I were to build a studio to record music I’d make my control room setup an identical copy of my listening room. Think about it for a moment. What if you could have live musicians playing in the next room and a control panel connected to your high-end setup. The control panel could set levels and tonal qualities of each microphone feed such that when you were done, you’d have the finest sound your system was capable of.
    <P style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 10px">I remember “back in the day” when Dave Wilson was into recordings. He actually designed the Wilson WATT loudspeaker to be his recording monitor and later turned it into a company that made loudspeakers. They are certainly high-end.
    <P style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 10px">I probably will never have the time to build my recording studio, but it sure is fun to dream.


    In production rooms in every studio you have Genelec, Adam, Fostex, Yamaha NS-10, . . . for small - near field monitors (even Fostex one peace, for mono control), and as big control monitors you have JBL 4XXX, Dynaudio, Tanoy . . . all professional series.
    In the post-production rooms is rather different story. There you have JM Labs Utopia, B&W Nautilus 800 series, Wilson Sasha or Alexandria, . . . lets say - ULTRA HIGH-END SPEAKERS.  

    magellan
    Sony Devotee
    Joined: Dec 28, 2011
    Posts: 69
    From: San Diego, CA
     Posted: 2012-01-16 09:04   
    Mykill,

    You are hit in the center again. I used to go to the live events when ever I can, and I have my favorite seats in the concert halls of course. But you can't always get that favorite seats, correct?

    And when you don't reach your favorite seat (spot), then you have different experience, and I love it, more and more.

    For years I have managed, when I was selected positions, by the position of the sound engineers and their mixpults and other gear. There is no room for mistake if you use that kind of logic, but there is something that you can experience if don't reach that "best" places in the concert hall. If you can get only places in the first rows, next to the stage, and you miss almost all the sound system in the hall.

    What it is then? It is unique situation when you hear all the music and hall respond, and you hear all the nature sounds of the instruments with all voices and sounds that musicians produces on the stage.

    This is my favorite experience from last Jazz Festival in my Fatherland, here in south-east Europe.




    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-17 04:28   
    I've never come across any CDs featuring a map of the musicians. An interesting idea and a plus for those seeking to recreate the "live event".




    The map

    In yesterday’s post we started a discussion about the fallacy of the Absolute Sound. Absolute compared to what? Without knowing what it is you are listening to or how it was recorded – even a hint as to what to expect – it’s a nearly impossible task to know if you’ve reached the Absolute Sound of exactly what the recordist wanted you to hear.

    And that really sums it up. We can’t expect our systems to playback the sound of live un-amplified instruments on recordings that never had that goal in mind. But what we can expect is to duplicate what the recordist was trying to achieve.

    Audiophile record producer Kent Poon has made some strides in that area – as have other pioneers in this field (including some of the original Mercury recordings). What Kent’s done in several of his recordings is provide a layout of the musicians and the recording microphones.

    I have found such a map ever so invaluable on the few recordings I have that provided it. In fact, I remember one of my favorites was the Weavers in Carnegie Hall. I remember finding a sort of map detailing where the performers were standing and how they miked them – wow – that was incredible.

    We all strive to visualize the performers in the acoustic space when we listen. Having a map makes it ever so much more vivid.

    magellan
    Sony Devotee
    Joined: Dec 28, 2011
    Posts: 69
    From: San Diego, CA
     Posted: 2012-01-17 06:18   
    Mykyll,

    What an example !!! Way beyond all expectations.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-12 03:11   
    I found this post by McGowen interesting,



    Studio speakers

    Have you ever wondered what recording studio engineers use for monitors? I’ll tell you – probably nothing you’d have in your home or system. For the most part they are anything but high-end.

    A few loudspeaker manufacturers proudly show us their products in the studios and mastering rooms of the world, but this is done for advertising and does not represent what the real world speakers are – Genelec, JBL and brands you wouldn’t consider in a high-end setting. Yet we high-end people judge the work mastered on these less-than-high-end speakers on a daily basis.

    I remember speaking with Keith Johnson of Reference Recordings asking what he uses and was surprised to learn he has some home brew designs that work for him. As Keith told me “you’d hate them in your listening room” but they work for Keith.

    If I were to build a studio to record music I’d make my control room setup an identical copy of my listening room. Think about it for a moment. What if you could have live musicians playing in the next room and a control panel connected to your high-end setup. The control panel could set levels and tonal qualities of each microphone feed such that when you were done, you’d have the finest sound your system was capable of.

    I remember “back in the day” when Dave Wilson was into recordings. He actually designed the Wilson WATT loudspeaker to be his recording monitor and later turned it into a company that made loudspeakers. They are certainly high-end.

    I probably will never have the time to build my recording studio, but it sure is fun to dream.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-12 03:47   
    I was wondering if anyone else found the above post interesting in the way I did. In particular did they see a problem with what he claims he would do if he built a studio to record music?


    Many times he stresses that we (i.e. audiophiles) should strive for the, even by his admission, probably unattainable goal of accuracy. Meaning by that the exact reproduction of the live event. I touched on how it's virtually impossible for us to even know what that was. Yet Mr. Truth and Accuracy to the live event states that if he were in the ultimate postion to know and duplicate it he wouldn't do it. He says that if in that position we could in fact not only set mic levels but tonal qualities (i.e. EQ) to make our system sound it's best. Not to most accurately reproduce the live event. If that's the case why do we need the studio setup? Just use whatever source you have and EQ it until your system sounds it's best and to heck with the live event.


    Maybe that's the biggest lesson we should take forward in the 21st century as far as SQ improvement. Completely forget about the live event goal. Which unless you're in the position McGowen describes you can't be sure of anyway. So how could you honestly know when you attain it or even come close. Make the SQ goal of your system to be the best/most satisfying it can be and the live event goal be damned. I know the live event accomplishment is supposed to be the Holy Grail of home audio but McGowen is saying that even when in the best position to accomplish it to use EQ and make your system sound it's best not most accurate to the live event. And yes that's contradictory to what he's said at other times as to what our goal should be. I don't know why he vascillates so much._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-18 07:02   
    Here Paul hits on many of the points/questions I've had that caused me to start this thread. While new may be a matter of opinion, I think I gave my definition of what my opinion was.




    Is anything really new?

    One of our readers asks the question “is anything out there really new or just incremental advances to old technology?” Good question.

    I think the answer is yes, but with some qualifiers.

    Let’s take loudspeakers. The vast majority of loudspeakers are based on the same driver technology of a cone, a voice coil and a magnet. Tweeters, on the other hand, are almost never a cone because most are domes – but they started out as cones – so there’s something new that’s stuck. But still, domes have been around for a long, long time – so maybe nothing truly new here.

    How about electrostatic and ribbon? While new to many, these are actually decades old technologies being refined by companies like Martin Logan and Magnepan.

    Indeed, I can’t think of any really new speaker technology today. How about on the horizon?

    What I see off in the distance is a trend to all-in-one speakers with everything you need to play music built in – wireless, high-end, DSP corrected, single box creating three dimensional audio and awesome sounding. Now, that’s new and innovative and blending some of the old with some of the very new – or is it?

    I am reminded that actually everything was an all-in-one approach in the beginning. The old hand crank Victrolas, console stereos were all one-box wonders. In fact, the “new” was when we separated everything and we’re just now coming back full circle making old new again – just with a twist – but what a twist!

    New might be direct-to-vinyl eclipsed by the tape recorder, LP’s eclipsed by CD’s, wire eclipsed by fiber optics – but one could also argue these are just improvements of what came before.

    I think new is a point of view and one different for us all.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-09 02:07   
    I indeed think they try to brainwash us and I'll admit I've fallen victim to "upgradeitis" many times. As an example I've been hooked by remastered CDs too many times. And I understand manufacturer's needs for us to buy. I don't hold that against them. The only way they can stay in business is to sell their wares. 


    I also have nothing against the journey being the goal. If that's what makes you happy in this hobby than that should well be your goal. It's probably a good thing that I don't have the skill and resources to do internal mods myself. I'm afraid if I did my equipment would spend little time in use as they'd always be apart as I looked to improve them. It could be I'm misinterpreting his point. But what I take away from it is, that despite him saying those who aren't in a constant quest for improvement are audiophiles, he's saying if you're not engaging in that pursuit you're not an audiophile. That in fact to be an audiphile you must be in constant pursuit of sonic improvements as we must remember that the journey is the goal and there is no final plateau. It seems totally contradictory. If the pusuit is what makes you happy that's fine. I guess I'm not an audiophile, according to McGowen, because my goal is the final plateau of great musical enjoyment not it's endless pursuit. That's not to say I'll never be open to improvements once I reach a certain level. It just means I want to reach a level where the enjoyment of the SQ of my system far supercedes any desire I might have to improve it and that if I don't improve it I could still be very happy._mykl  

    David_S
    Sony Legend
    Joined: Aug 03, 2004
    Posts: 905
    From: BC, Canada
     Posted: 2012-01-10 01:13   
    I do agree that audiophiles can be content with their systems.  I was not very clear about that in my previous post.  I was implying that it is probably a minority that is content with their systems.

    A nearby 80 year old couple I know are IMO true audiophiles.  They listen to CDs & music DVDs several hours/day.  He is very knowledgeable about classical music & held music appreciation sessions for a group in our townhouse complex.  They seem content with their system & not concerned about making changes to it.

    I am also gradually slowing the pace of change to my system.  I still have some planned system changes, but maybe someday I will also reach the point of "satisfaction" with my system.


    -----------------
    TA- E77ES E80ES E1000ESD E9000ES TA- N77ES F555ES, ST-S730ES RM- AV3000 AX1400 (2)AX4000 STR- DA4ES DA3100ES (2)DA5700ES (2)GX10ES DVP- (3)NS999ES NS3100ES CX777ES CDP-X303ES, CDP-M555ES MDS-JA20ES, TC-K717ES, DTC-690

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-10 02:27   
    David_S_It wasn't you that I felt was saying that, it was McGowen. I understood that you felt audiophiles could be happy with not upgrading and I agree that they probably are a small percentage. Especially those with "high end" systems. Perhaps beacause their high end systems are a result of steady upgrades. I do feel one can be audio enthusiast, a lover of listening to recorded music which to me is an audiophile, without having a high end system though. I know many auto enthusiasts who do not own fancy, or expensive, or rare, or exotic cars. Nonetheless they are avid auto enthusiasts. It seems to me McGowen was contradicting himself. While he acknowledges that there are audiophiles happy with their systems he goes on to state we must remember the journey is the goal. Maybe he was speaking just to those who are constantly looking to upgrade. If he was maybe he needed to be clearer on that as that's not what I took from his statement._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-02-14 03:40   
    This article was passed on to me by a member of another forum who has made a similar journey with his system that I'm making with mine. I thought I'd share this excerpt here.

    http://boingboing.net/2012/02/10/alan-parsons-on-audiophiles.html


    I feel that in many cases the quip made by the Slashdot commenter is absolutely true.


    Here's the full interview  
    http://www.cepro.com/article/beatles_pink_floyd_engineer_alan_parsons_rips_audiophiles/
    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2012-02-14 03:45 ]

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2012-02-14 04:00 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-11 03:54   
    Regarding the above post and Mr Tedeschi's A and B, I know I want A. Man, do I ever want A. Personally it's what I got into this hobby for and for little else really. Not too sure I should want or even care about B though. Like it's been discussed here before, it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to know what B is and who's to say that even if a could achieve it that I'd like B better, or even as much as A. At this point I think I'll be perfectly fine with A, no matter how close or far it is from B. I feel for me that my continuous, and rather unsatisfying, cycle of upgradeitis stemmed from a greater priority of attaining B instead of A. Now what I want is to get out of that cycle and attain A. It was my initial goal and I'm not sure how or when I lost sight of it. To paraphrase "Damn B, full speed ahead to A". It's going to be my new motto and outlook for my system. _mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-15 04:21   
    An excellent suggestion from Paul McGowen when it comes to fine tuning the SQ of a system.




    The elephant in the room

    Have you ever noticed that sometimes you’re focusing so hard on a minute details that you miss the elephant in the room? Happens to me all the time.

    A commenter to these posts mentioned an AB test he witnessed between two amps and after multiple A/B back and forth tests someone suggested the channels between the two amps were reversed. Horrors as not one Golden Ear in the crowd noticed it. While this was an embarrassment to those in the room as well as the presenters it happens more often than you might think.

    We have the amazing ability to filter out everything but what we want to focus on – as humans living in an incredibly noisy environment this feature is a must.

    This happens so often to me that I routinely bring someone else into the listening room without telling them what I am focusing on to see if they pick up something stupid like the channels reversed that I missed.

    Next time you’re evaluating something new in the system take a break and let a day go by before you revisit your decision.

    You might see the elephant in the room.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-20 03:41   
    I agree with McGowen's statements about the ultra expensive gear yet I feel it's a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. For a guy who used to make some reasonably affordable, and outstanding power products I find his statements a bit like sour milk. His company used to make such products as the Duet, Quintet, Power Plant Premiere, among many, many others. Now you have to spend $3500 for his cheapest power conditioner. Justify that to the average person who is considering getting into the high end and thinks pricing is stupidly expensive.




    $100K turntables, circus act?

    Does the mere fact there are $100K plus turntables and $250K plus power amplifiers available as serious products, featured and reviewed by the magazines, hurt or help the high-end?

    Of course an argument can be made for both sides – mine would be it hurts the high-end.

    Why? Because it turns many potential high-end customers off to the entire genre. Whenever I see the high-end criticized by the mainstream press it’s either that we’re selling snake oil or stupidly expensive products.

    I could understand if a single craftsman wanted to sell a $100K turntable or $250K power amplifier – hand machined by himself and then charge for it. Even if he had a few elves working out of the Black Forrest it’d make sense. He builds one a month and sells them to a waiting audience. That actually makes sense, builds respect and adds a hand-crafted one-of-a-kind aspect that can easily justify the price. The way they are sold now it’s more like a circus act – the greatest show in the world.

    Of course there’s no regulations, no rules and manufacturers do what they want. Heck, Arnie and I sold a $100K pair of loudspeakers in our day – but these were hand built 1.2 ton beauties that people felt like bowing down to when in their presence.

    As an industry we need to be mindful of coming off like a circus act. It hurts us all.

    jeromelang
    Sony Devotee
    Joined: Oct 30, 2003
    Posts: 75
    From: Marketing Executive
     Posted: 2012-01-21 03:18   

    In production rooms in every studio you have Genelec, Adam, Fostex, Yamaha NS-10, . . . for small - near field monitors (even Fostex one peace, for mono control), and as big control monitors you have JBL 4XXX, Dynaudio, Tanoy . . . all professional series.
    In the post-production rooms is rather different story. There you have JM Labs Utopia, B&W Nautilus 800 series, Wilson Sasha or Alexandria, . . . lets say - ULTRA HIGH-END SPEAKERS.  


    5 of these being used in mastering studio in boulder, colorado




    -----------------
    Main System: Sources EMM LAB TSDX/DAC2X, SCD-1, SCD-XA9000ES, ELP Laser Turntable, Michel Gyro SE, SME V, Lyra Skala. Amplifiers Pass Lab Aleph Ono, Pass XP20, Pass X350. Speakers Sony SS-M9ED. Cables Straightwire Crescendo interconnects, double run speak

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-21 10:29   
    How cool!! How I'd love to hear that!!! If I had a dedicated music room I'd love to have five SS-M9EDs for my setup._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-21 11:59   
    There's something I've been meaning to post for awhile. It's about Bob Carver of Phase Linear, Carver and Sunfire fame. You may remember him, started back in the '70s making solid state gear most notably amplifiers. This is the guy that back in the '80s said given 48 hrs he could voice one of his solid state amps to sound exactly like a tube amp. Well some of the golden ears at Stereophile took him up on his offer and brought in a $12k Conrad-Johnson Premiere 5 amp for the challenge. According to accounts he proved his point. Later for some reason (some say just to stick it in the face of the snobs at Stereophile) he made his cost no object tube amp, the Silver Seven at $17k. He then immediately turned around and made some SS amps, the M series ($600-$1500) of which the M-4.0t Silver Seven Vacuum Tube Transfer amp (I personally own one of these) he claimed sounded exactly like his $17k tube. Thus the name. I can't say anything about the sound comparison of his amps as I've never even seen those tube amps let alone heard them. Seen pics though.

    Well I read last year where Bob was at it again. He had started another company Bob Carver LLC and he's again making amps. He has 2 models of monos at about $7500 and $13k a pair. Not exactly cheap and Bob was known for making reasonably priced gear. The real kicker for me is that they're tube amps. Yep, this stalwart and innovator of SS amps, and did this at all three of his previous companies, is now making tube amps only. (If you can't beat 'em join 'em) In the 21st century he's gone to tech older than his own with prices above the means of most. So much for amp tech advancement in the 21st cent._mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2012-01-21 12:20 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-01-25 00:14   
    Off topic but I wanted to share this.




    Sharing

    My son Scott handed me a new book he just finished reading and suggested I read it. I am reading it and enjoying it. Others send me music to listen to.

    Sharing books and music has been a part of our culture for many, many years. I suspect it will continue to be so.

    The music industry and the publishing industry wants to make the sharing of media both immoral and illegal. They would like to shame me and you by suggesting that every time you share music or books – you’re stealing – the author or musician isn’t getting paid for his/her work each time it’s accessed (don’t tell librarians that they may soon be under attack for their years of sharing).

    I would suggest this notion of theirs is patently absurd and wrongheaded. They, on the other hand, will point out that both the publishing industry and the music industry are in shambles and we, the people sharing books and music are to blame.

    You buying that? I am not. In fact, let me go so far as to say that their attempts to change a culture of sharing that has existed for as long as books and music have been around is, in itself, the shameful act.

    The demise of these two industries has nothing to do with sharing and everything to do with a shift in technology.

    When technology changes an industry, the first reaction by the industry is to protect itself by whatever means possible. That’s what’s happening right now.

    The better choice is to figure out where you fit into the new culture and make the best of it.

    Read any good books lately?

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-02-01 17:49   
    Some good advice




    Do what works

    The debate over long interconnects and short speaker cables vs. the opposite rages on. My opinion is unwavering and counter to the rule of thumb: long speakers cables and short interconnects are best as power amps have a better ability to drive a complex load than does a preamp.

    Your mileage may vary and most cable manufacturers will tell you exactly the opposite.

    Here’s the deal: what works best in your system? Despite my first statement, I actually do the oppositie in my reference system: long balanced interconnects and short speaker cables. Why? Because that’s the most practical application in my room.

    There’s optimum and there’s practical. Either can work, just make sure you optimize the components to fit the situation. A rule of thumb is just something we use as a starting point, not an end dictate.

    Do what works.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-02-07 13:13   
    A take on why at least some things don't sound better. I certainly agree with his last statement, especially regarding high-end._mykl





    Who cares?

    Why do some speakers sound like music while others sound like anything but music?

    My chief engineer Bob Stadtherr was trying to find a problem in one of our DACS and was having trouble hearing the issue on his bench setup which uses one of our GCA power amplifiers and a small set of Mirage loudspeakers. I brought my $500 powered B & W desktop speakers and connected them to the DAC and within minutes both of us could hear the problem – turned out it wasn’t the setup but the choice of music that prevented us from hearing the problem.

    I have a copy of Anne-Sophie Mutter singing a Handel aria on one of my libraries and we used that piece to hear the problem in the DAC. Whenever she starts to sing and the small ensemble that is backing her up starts to play, my heart flutters. I just love it! Put a smile on my face and this from a set of self powered $500 loudspeakers. Lovely.

    Once the problem was identified we took out my speakers and reconnected the Mirage loudspeakers to make sure Bob could still hear the problem – which he could – but when Anne started singing again the hair on the back of my neck went up in horror. This was no longer music! It was total crap. The strings sounded as if they were produced by a synthesizer, the beauty of her voice all but ruined and I found myself turning it off.

    I am not picking on Mirage as they have made many a fine loudspeaker – just not in this case. But how is it that between two similarly priced loudspeakers one sings and the other grunts?

    My guess is that in one case someone who cared about music did the final voicing and in the other, someone who clocked in at 9am and clocked out at 5pm approved the product.

    If we cannot produce products that honor the music then we should go get a job in another industry.



    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-02-08 01:00   
    Some of you may have noticed in the above post that McGowen claimed to have a recording of German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter singing a Handel aria. That would have been undoubtedly one of the rarest recordings ever as there's absolutely no record of her ever having made one. Well Paul has amended that statement. He says the he meant Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter who has indeed recorded Handel arias. I can understand the error but then I'm not a big-time classical fan._mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2012-02-11 16:10 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-02-11 16:13   
    So high end money for the ease of plug and play._




    Dedicated hardware

    A community member asked an interesting question. ”Why go to all the expense of purchasing dedicated high-end hardware to stream music when you could do the same thing with a computer?”

    In fact, isn’t a dedicated piece of streaming music hardware really just a computer in a pretty high-end box?

    I think the simple answer is yes, if you’re already a computer expert. Let’s face it, most of us are not.

    Dedicated hardware and software have a valuable place in our technological world: ease of use. In fact, most of us are more comfortable investing in a dedicated tool or application than achieving the same thing through complex and knowledge-required alternatives.

    Certainly anyone with a gallon of cream can make her own butter, but it’s certainly easier to go to the market and just buy it.






    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-15 11:00   
    Here's the next step. It seems to me anyway that McGowan prefers a more laid-back presentation than seems to be in favor today. Somewhat "old-school", if you will, in comparison to the more forward presentation of many of today's speakers._mykl


    Dialing it in

    In our last post we managed to get our loudspeakers roughed in, measured and connected and confirmed that everything is correct in our electronic setup from end to end. Excellent work so far.

    Our next step will be to dial in the center image and for this I recommend you find a track with a well recorded voice. I always use a voice for this step because of anything in music we’re most familiar with it’s the human voice. For this particular task I use one of my favorites which is an older CD called the Best Audiophile Voices, recommended to me by a good friend here in Boulder (thanks Robert!). The track I like best is by Jane Monheit. You can choose any track you like as long as it’s well recorded, simple and has a voice that sound natural. This is important because next we’re going to try and get the voice to sound like it’s in the room with us and if it wasn’t well recorded naturally, then our task will be impossible.

    Now that you have chosen the recording you’re going to use, let’s spend a minute understanding what it is we’re trying to achieve. We have a few goals in mind: getting our voice to be the correct size, placing the voice behind the loudspeakers, the source of that voice to disappear, sound natural, placed at the correct height and finally to be in the room with us. That may seem like a tall order and it may sound unlike what you have now but it’s what you want and it’s where we’re going to get to.

    Let’s start with the first task: getting the voice to be the right size. If you have a moment to click on the link I provided you’ll read an earlier post about getting the volume correct. This is the very first thing we’re going to do: get the volume correct so the size of the person is correct. This is a critical step but fortunately pretty easy. If you’re using the Monheit cut note as you turn up and down the volume the relative size of Jane – louder and she gets too big, softer it’s the opposite.

    Just imagine for a moment she’s in the room, standing halfway between the back of your loudspeaker pair and the wall behind the loudspeakers. Is she the right size? Adjust the volume until she is.

    This will get you close but, of course, we may need to toe in the loudspeakers a little bit to snap the width of her voice into the proper size and focus. Avoid doing this right now and try and ignore this issue just for the moment. Use the volume method to get as close as you can and then we’ll get down to finer details in a future post. It won’t be perfect but this will get you close.

    Tomorrow we get everything behind the loudspeakers.


    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-02-20 08:03   
    I'm wondering if the best at everything goal helps or hurts SQ._


    All purpose audio

    One of Paul’s Posts readers, Mark S, asks the question of why we manufacturers seem to work so hard at building kit that serves all music and all tastes equally well. I think it’s a good question and one worth thinking about.

    In most fields a “one size fits all” mentality isn’t optimal. Sports equipment, musical instruments, cameras, cars – just about everything you can think of has focused products that are designed to enhance a particular aspect of the task – but not necessarily audio.

    Certainly there are loudspeakers that are better suited to a particular style of music – classical, rock, jazz – but these seem to come across as weak because they don’t work for all music types – as opposed to coming from a position of strength.

    Rarely does a loudspeaker or electronics manufacturer go to great lengths to design a classical music speaker, for example, because it limits the market and what the heck does one do if she has varied tastes in music as do most of us.

    But it is an interesting idea and one that needs more thought.

    Danglerb
    Sony Addict
    Joined: May 04, 2006
    Posts: 193
    From: Socal
     Posted: 2012-02-23 03:01   
    SQ as long as it exists only as personal opinion, wiggles, but rarely changes.

    Welwynnick
    Sonyphile
    Joined: Oct 21, 2005
    Posts: 536
    From: Welwyn, Herts, UK
     Posted: 2012-03-11 16:46   

    On 2012-02-29 11:01, mykyll2727 wrote:

    yesterday’s post about my dislike for Sample Rate Converters I must add one more thought: all sample rate converters are not equal. Some actually help the sound while most do the opposite.

    WhenI first read this, I nodded in ignorant agreement.  

    Then I read this thread, which actually explained asynchronous sample rate convertors:  

    http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/digital-source/28814-asynchronous-sample-rate-conversion.html

    It will take a while, but read that first, then tell me that ASRC's are bad.

    Nick

    Skytrooper
    Sony Addict
    Joined: Mar 01, 2003
    Posts: 198
    From: Baden,Pa.
     Posted: 2012-03-11 11:30   
    I believe the most important part in any audio system is the source and speakers. Those are the only things that I made changes to in any audio system I ever owned in which I can hear an audible difference.  

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-03-14 22:42   
    IMO he charges alot for "good enough". Also IMO good enough has alot to do with the level of today's amp and speaker tech. I think the quest for perfection was a far, far greater driving force 30-40 or more years ago in those areas than it is today.



    Good enough

    When is something good enough?

    I think the answer is complicated but if we boil it down to two simple measurements it becomes easier to answer: perfection level and expectation level.

    The perfection level measurement is, of course, the most difficult because there is nothing perfect ever made. So one must then set a reference level of how many imperfections are allowed to be able to measure it – and then accept the imperfect results. Not an inspiring model for building a product.

    The expectation level, however, is probably a much more attainable measurement and far more meaningful to the end user. Let’s focus on that one.

    If we produce a product that meets or exceeds every expectation you might have then by default it was not only good enough it was better than good enough. That’s a solid win even though the product is only “good enough” and is imperfect and perhaps has multiple issues.

    This subject came about because my engineering director and I have been studying how to become better software programming managers (we both come from hardware backgrounds). What we’ve learned is that in an environment where we don’t control the hardware, like a program running on your PC, software becomes a black hole sucking in resources at a constant and infinitely long rate. That’s a reasonably eye opening concept to get a grip on.

    It’s an even bigger eye opener to learn that “good enough” is the new standard for development.

    And all along I thought it was perfection.
     





    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-03-13 11:52   
    Nick_A very informative and interesting thread and I'm only about halfway thru it! I'm learnng alot! Thanks for the link!!!!_mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-03-13 11:57   
    A good thing to remeber when making changes to your system.





    Redo your assumptions

    We just released some new software that changed the sound of our PerfectWave DAC. As is normal there’s debate on whether or not those changes are better or worse. For me there’s no question they are better in every respect – but only after I retuned my system to take advantage of the changes.

    I think it’s instructive to remember that your system has been setup and tuned to optimize the equipment and environment at the time you did the work. It is therefore illogical to assume that changes in equipment or environment can be effectively judged without revisiting your setup.

    For example, when I first auditioned the new software I liked everything I heard – greater soundstage, better depth, improved space and separation of instruments – but there was also a slight added harshness and over emphasis on the top end that sounded unnatural.

    I could have simply assumed it was wrong and went back to the drawing board or – and this is important – I could have reexamined my setup. It turns out that when I originally setup the Maggies I didn’t have enough top end and solidity of the center image so I toed them in slightly. Bingo, the image popped into focus. But that was a few months ago.

    With the recent change in software I simply removed the toe in and the slight upper harshness vanished and in its place and even deeper and wider soundstage appeared with an even more convincing three dimensional image.

    So it begs the question – which was correct? My first setup and the original software or the new setup and the new software?

    The answer is both as long as you are willing to redo your assumptions.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-02-25 09:33   
    Hmmm.



    Simple and easy

    In my travels I am seeing a shift from “hi-fi assemblers and tweaks” to the “gimme it all finished” mentality.

    In the not too distant past the trend was for Audiophiles to read the reviews, discuss with their friends and then assemble the best group of disparate equipment together to build a unique system capable of bringing music to life in their listening rooms.

    What was cool about these systems is their uniqueness. Each person had his or her own combination of kit that was different than everyone else’s and that was part of the fun of it.

    Today I hear fewer people speaking of this and more who want companies to simply provide finished solutions that provide the same listening experience without having to make any decisions on cables, speakers, amps, preamps etc.

    I actually think this is a good trend and one I support.

    Tomorrow something for those of you still in the old camp.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-02-26 10:56   
    I like the idea. Maybe he'll do it instead of focusing on making very high priced power conditioners.





    Build your own

    In yesterday’s post I mentioned the trend of Audiophiles wanting complete packages delivered to their doors that provide a wonderful listening experience. A pre-packaged approach.

    I was imagining just the opposite this morning.

    How cool would it be for those of us old dogs that like to assemble our own unique systems if a manufacturer like PS were to build a product that was an empty frame? Kind of like the way you order a computer. You choose the features and bells and whistles you want – a smorgasbord of audio features.

    Want a central power supply? Fine. Want a separate supply for each section? No problem. Want streaming audio or just a DAC? Output stage can be ordered with tubes, FETS, bipolars, or magnetics. Choose your connectors – the ultra expensive WBT’s or the less expensive Chinese knock offs?

    For many this would be a real turn off. For some it would be a gift from heaven.

    Cool to dream a little once in a while.


     

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-02-28 03:23   


    A bit of interesting information especially to those using outboard DACS.



    The conspiracy

    There’s a quiet conspiracy afoot and something you should be aware of. The conspiracy is one of “don’t ask don’t tell” from DAC manufacturers. PS Audio is just as guilty as the rest.

    The issue is one I bring up consistently when I speak to audio groups and I am always surprised at the reaction. The problem involves a shift in the media we play – and if you only play 44.1kHz Red Book media into your DAC you’re immune to the issue – but venture out into the wilds of higher sample rate audio and you’re in for a surprise.

    The villan in our little conspiracy is called a sample rate converter or SRC. This little beast is found in 99.99% of all DACS produced today and in the past. It quietly sets the sample rate to whatever the user or the DAC manufacturer wants: 44.1, 88.2, 196, etc. The SRC accomplishes this irrespective of what the original source material is.

    Did a light bulb just go off in your head? If you feed the beast 44.1kHz it will work its math and give you the desired sample rate which is almost always higher. But if you feed it high resolution audio it will do the same – only this time it might take it lower. Add to that our findings that most SRC circuits (including our own) manage to make everything fed into them worse sounding and you see the problem.

    The little Daemon sits quietly in your DAC doing evil every time you play music. The conspiracy I mention is that DAC manufacturers continue to use these devices without giving you the ability to bypass them as we do in our higher cost DAC and will continue to do whenever we launch any new DAC.

    I would encourage open dialog about this and hope other manufacturers follow our example of providing a way out.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-02-27 09:38   


    Even though I got his point from the start I felt he was kind of mixing apples and oranges until his last line. Yet I still feel it's a poor analogy. If you can't boil water you'd appreciate anyone who can cook reasonably well to do it for you. You don't need a 5* meal from a world class chef for that. On the other hand even world class chefs appreciate a truly fine meal prepared by someone else. Yet professional gourmet chefs as well as the hobbyist gourmet cook derives great pride and pleasure from preparing a fine meal themselves. The same is true among audiophiles. Audiophiles whether pro or hobbyists appreciate a fine system no matter who put it together. Many also get great satisfaction from doing it themselves. Laziness has nothing to do with it, with the appreciation.

    IMO the dining experience of a 5* meal prepared for you is quite different than having someone building an audio system for you though. Yet I still feel that having someone build an audio system, in most instances, has little to do with laziness. Even if you can DIY. I feel in most instances it would be more a matter of priorities than laziness._mykl




    Laziness

    A couple of days ago I mentioned one of the emerging trends I am seeing is the desire of people to have someone else build their systems for them so they don’t have to do the work. The era of the pre-made system is coming back into vogue.

    Several of you commented that this is the height of laziness and just goes to prove our society is crumbling.

    I am not so sure I agree.

    If I go out for a special meal, I want a highly trained chef to put it together for me. Why? Because he’s spent a career studying culinary arts and the expectation is he’s significantly better than me. It’s fine for me to suggest I want some of this and some of that, but then I need his expertise to assemble everything in a way I am not capable of accomplishing.

    In the same way, I’ll bet I could put together a better system at a given price than most of my customers. Is that bragging? I don’t think so. I think it’s merely a reflection of 40 years of experience.

    If you can assemble a state of the art high-end system on your own, kudos to you. If you’re a dealer that provides that service to your customers, you get extra kudos.

    Just because you can’t boil water doesn’t mean you’re lazy if you order a five star meal from a world class chef.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-02-29 11:01   


    And now a nice recovery.




    A without B

    In yesterday’s post about my dislike for Sample Rate Converters I must add one more thought: all sample rate converters are not equal. Some actually help the sound while most do the opposite.

    This is important to note because I don’t want folks to get the wrong idea. My main beef with Sample Rate Converters in hardware DACS is the lack of choice. How do you know if what they do is good or bad if you cannot choose in or out?

    There’s a reason we’ve always done our best to offer choices on our equipment: Straightwire in/out, Sample Rate converter in/out, Filters 1 through 5, big power supplies or little power supplies, MultiWave or no MultiWave.

    Plain fact is if you can’t compare one with the other, then how do you know it’s better or worse? Some PC based software has selectable upsamplers that you can choose to use or not. That’s a great idea and something I consider a feature benefit.

    I would encourage all high-end audio manufacturers to offer choices wherever it makes sense – not a dizzying array of too many confusing choices – but a few well placed important ones.

    We all want to empower our customers and that’s hard to do with nothing to A/B.

    “C” what I mean?

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-03-06 09:08   
    What I found interesting about this is his admission that he and his engineers have come across something that to their understanding shouldn't happen but is. I feel there's alot more of this happening in audio. Things that to many that seem like they shouldn't work yet really do. Discovering why some of these happen may lead to open minded research into why many of the other seemingly impossible are actually happening. In the end that would lead to much better SQ.



    Offended

    I have always smiled when I witnessed fellow designers getting offended by some engineering claim they either disagree with or can’t understand – that is until it happened to me.

    Recently our engineering team has been scratching our collective heads over how software can affect sonic performance when everything we know says it shouldn’t. I am not referring to the obvious software like that of a CODEC that translates one format to another or upsampling, but software that runs a front panel or connects one device up to another – where the bits are identical in every case.

    At first we were defensive and offended. Then we relented because the facts are irrefutable – even if we don’t understand or agree with them.

    Now we’re hell bent on mastering the problem and from that mastery will come great things – of that I am sure.

    Getting offended tends to be my first step in becoming humble enough to recognize the truth and move on to finding a solution.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-03-09 12:19   
    I agree that it can get better. I also agree that human hearing often doesn't conform with textbook solutions that should make sense.





    Can it get better?

    I was chatting with one of our customers on a recent tour of our facilities and he asked if it would be overkill to strive for higher sampling rates and greater bit depth in recordings given the fact current 192kHz 24 bit recordings exceed (by far) the limits of human hearing and analog hardware’s ability to reproduce anywhere near the dynamic range possible.

    The short answer is no. It would be like suggesting your grandmother needed a bigger faster car to go to the shopping mall just in case she needed it. She doesn’t.

    But then …. the difference between a lower grade technology like analog recording, or a higher grade technology like DSD all sound significantly better than the current high sample rate and bit depth PCM technologies – some of the time.

    Maybe we’re looking in the wrong place for what improvements are possible.

    The human auditory perception mechanism is a complex model that rarely conforms to textbook solutions that “should” make sense and exceed our ability to hear differences.

    It certainly can get better, we have a long way to go, but perhaps the way we get there isn’t so clear.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-03-09 11:25   
    Right from the start I questioned why speaker tech hasn't had greater improvements.




    It’s worth repeating

    Why is it we are forgiving and tend to overlook loudspeakers as a source of coloration in our systems yet demand perfection in our electronics down to the tiniest degree?

    We are convinced that tenths of a dB, a few pico seconds of jitter, a slightly different cable dielectric are all critical to our system’s success when the gross deficiencies of loudspeakers, that border on the embarrassing, go unnoticed. You’d be lucky if your speakers were flat to within a few dB, let alone tenths of a dB. Their phase response and time alignment are absurdly bad, atrocious actually – relative to your electronic chain.

    My guess is there currently isn’t much we can do to fix this so we focus on what we can do.

    It’s instructive to keep in mind the magnitude of difference between the flatness and accuracy of the single most important element in your system and everything else – if for no other reason than maintaining a healthy perspective.

    You might feel better polishing your car’s chrome to a high gleam, but that won’t make your car perform any better.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-03-10 10:55   


    IMO this post rather makes moot the point he makes earlier in the "it's worth repeating" post.




    Maybe flat isn’t good

    Yesterday’s post about the gross inaccuracies of loudspeakers relative to the perfection of electronics raised the hair on a few people’s necks. So let me add to that.

    It isn’t clear that we even want our loudspeakers to be flat and perfect. There’s reasonable evidence that we don’t.

    My former partner in Genesis Loudspeakers, Arnie Nudell, was famous amongst insiders for what became known as the “Nudell Dip” a carefully crafted reduction of volume in the critical 500Hz to 2kHz region. This small dip in amplitude helped Infinity and Genesis loudspeakers have depth and the ability to disappear in the room.

    When I first learned he did this I was horrified that anyone would do anything but make it flat. Arnie told me “loudspeakers will always be anything but flat, so why not take advantage of that fact and tailor the sound to your advantage?” He was right. The flatter we made the speakers the worse they sounded.

    Recording and mastering engineers use less than perfect speakers to create the sound on our recordings in the first place. Perhaps if they used a mythical flat loudspeaker to do their work in the first place the Nudell Dip wouldn’t be a good thing. But they don’t.

    Imperfection at the source breeds imperfection at the output for best results.

    Your mileage may vary.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-03-18 03:06   
    I think it's only fair to post his clarification of the above post.



    Surprise and delight

    Yesterday’s post Good enough raised the hair on a few people’s necks wondering why I had apparently thrown in the towel and accepted having to make products and services that were just good enough.

    I must not have done a good enough job explaining the thought.

    It’s not part of my nature or the team at PS Audio to make products that do anything but surprise and delight the end user.

    So is that good enough?

    If we set our standards for a product as having to exceed our customers expectations and then surprise and delight them when they receive it, then the product development team need only make a product “good enough” to meet that standard and it’s a product.

    The point of yesterday’s post was not to justify mediocrity – quite the opposite in fact – it was to dispel the notion that perfection is attainable and if one seeks it out – one will be disappointed.

    Exceeding expectations and building products and services that surprise and delight is good enough.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-03-18 03:15   
    I'm thinking maybe Paul should visit some folks here in Vegas because for some of them it's definitely a status symbol, and that goes for both stereo systems and HTs. Or maybe he should just talk to some of the custom installers in the area. I know one who told me that I'd be stunned at the number of million dollar HTs in the area. He also told me that for many it had alot to do with status.



     Status symbols

    I’ve been noodling on a comment made a few weeks ago that high-end audio is mostly a status symbol owned by wealthy people who do not care about audio or music. I must say I find that totally wrong and offensive.

    In fact, the more I think about the comment the more convinced I am it’s completely wrong.

    Unlike most status symbols such as cars, watches, cameras, clothing and mansions, high-end audio gear is rarely displayed publicly and almost never trumpeted to guests of a person’t home. In fact most people I have met invite only the rare few into their homes to enjoy their setup. It’s almost like a closely guarded secret – one we don’t share with people who wouldn’t “get it” and you kind of feel privileged to be shown the music room.

    Certainly there are those amongst us who buy only the expensive kit because they can, but rarely do you ever see them showing off the equipment unless it’s another Audiophile they’ve let into the their inner circle. Then, of course, they show it off like a proud rooster strutting his stuff. I get that.

    Get outside the audio circle and I’ll bet you rarely ever see stereo as a status – unless you think a pair of Dr. Dre headphones are high end……

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-03-19 03:47   
    A response from the guy who got Paul noodling.




     see I hit a hot botton. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Since I’m the one who wrote the original posting that nettled Paul’s noodle I feel obligated to respond… by explaining, not apologizing. This is going to take some time.


    Where to begin? I think with Paul’s own words about being offended which he published on March 6:


    “Getting offended tends to be my first step in becoming humble enough to recognize the truth and move on to finding a solution.”


    So being offended is not necessariily a bad thing, it all depends on how and why you’re offended.


    “I’ve been noodling on a comment made a few weeks ago that high-end audio is mostly a status symbol owned by wealthy people who do not care about audio or music. I must say I find that totally wrong and offensive.”


    Where’s the offense? In suggesting that the products that Paul and many people he respects in his industry toiled to create are bought by people for whom they are nothing more than ornaments. That it would hardly matter how much effort or adhievement went into them, all that mattered was that they are by most standards expensive and indicative of a lifestyle rather than bought to be used because they are a superior tool that someone had worked hard to devise.


    Before I examine whether or not this is at least in part true I’m going to set aside my own opinions which to put it mildly does not hold any of these products in high esteem and finds no reason to prize them. This should not be hard for anyone to understand who feels the same way about other products they do not prize….like a certain product of a certain MIT professor who made lots of money from what some call treasure, others call trash (that was discussed here on more than one instance also.) So the products are different, the idea is the same. For the sake of argument I’m going to assume here that “the high end” is what those who make it, sell it, buy it, aspire to own it claim it is, superior to other products for listening to recorded music.


    So what exactly is the high end? I can find no delineation by any factor that I can see that distinguishes one product as high end and another as not. There seems to be a continuum of them whether measured by price or by the extremes people have gone to in creating them. But there is an emotional connection for many., The term “mid-fi” seems to have been invented by those who describe themselves as audiophiles to characterize expensive equipment other people own that they don’t like.


    Now for some perspective. To most people in the USA and other “western” nations who would describe themselves as middle class, a sound system costing $50,000 would be considered high end. It would likely be something they’d only buy if they wanted it very badly. They’d usually acquire it only after all other financial priorities were met such as having paid off the mortgage on a house, seeing to their children’s college education, having a comfortable retirement income. They’d usually acquire it somewhat late in life. In this bracket lie products that while generally (but not always) significantly superior to the more run of the mill Best Buy products are not in the top tier of most high end manufacturer’s product lineup. You can pick almost any high end brand you like. Yet these people who own them and those who aspire to join them are the kind you’ll meet at most audiophile club meetings. They are the ones who eagerly wait for every new issue of XYZ magazine. For them, a $25,000 pair of loudspeakers could have paid for a car. The $10,000 pair are hardly worth mentioning. You are not likely to see anyone with a $10,000 pair of loudspeakers in their sound system buying a $10,000 power regenerator, that hardly makes sense I think. Those who make “the high end” would politely classify their audio equipment as “mid-fi.”


    Then you get to a different level, one that starts where most people’s finances would consider the stratosphere begins. $50,000 is barely entry level for the true high end. Such people who buy this kind of equipment think nothing of paying $20,000 for a phono cartridge preamplifier. Their speakers alone may cost over $75,000, in fact often well over that, many times as much. They will buy many thosands of dollars worth of wires. Who tells them to buy this stuff, a little bird? Magazine A or B? No, it’s often the store manager where the owner of the store was met on a golf couse or by a wife’s interior decorator, or some AV consultant who is installing a million dollar home theater. The hallmark of much of it is that it makes a striking visual appearance and is simple enough for someone who knows nothing about it to operate. It’s part of a lifestyle just like a $600 pair of sunglasses will not protect your eyes any better than a $16 pair bought at a drug store. It goes with the territory of having many tens of millions of dollars of disposable income.


    Why don’t people show these things off? There are many things that are trappings of real wealth that are deliberately not shown off, that are kept secret. A mistress is one. A cocaine habit is another. (Another reason is that today high end sound systems can only be fully enjoyed at one single small “sweet spot,” everywhere else it sounds little better than far lesser equipment.


    So what is the test? How do you know? The answer is how the equipment is used and how often. The claim for it is superior accuracy (which I said I would not dispute in this thread.) Where and when is accuracy of sound reproduction at issue? When the sound is about a Guanari del Jesu or Stratavarious violin, a Steinway grand piano, the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, Luciano Pavarotti’s voice, Placido Domingo’s voice, Kiri Tekanawa’s voice. For others it may be about Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and their like. It is not about Diana Krall, Taylor Swift, or the Beatles. Is there a large collection numbering in the thousands of recordings of what would be called “serious” music, that is worth the kind of expense that the high end equipment cost to design, manufacture, and purchase? Were these recordings the best efforts of the best artists playing the best written music? Is is listened to frequently? Is there a culture of music appreciation placed in high importance in the home? If the answer to these question is yes then the equipment has a rational functional purpose. If the answer is no, then it is just there as an ornament for the maid to dust and the hostess at a party to point to on a tour of the house just after passing the library of thousands of books that will never be read and before visiting the fancy wine cellar full of the world’s most highly prized trophy wines that will never be drunk. It goes with the lifestyle.


    I don’t expect you to agree Paul. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. But there is much worse. People who’s life’s work was so very valuable, whose ideas made so much money and yet it was all stolen from them. Among them, Farnsworth who invented television, Major Armstrong who invented FM radio, Rosalind Frankland who discovered the structure of DNA, and even more Nicola Tesla who invented the modern world as we know it yet died in poverty having been cheated by two American icons, Edison and Westinghouse. After that, being dusted off by the maid once in awhile isn’t so bad after all.


    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-03-30 10:56   
    Some interesting thoughts on the SQ of present receivers vs vintage ones.

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-20082026-47/how-can-30-year-old-receivers-sound-better-than-new-ones/ 


    and an intersting test between a vintage "monster" stereo receiver and a modern AV unit. The link is in the above blog.


    http://www.iavscanada.com/Articles/art_receiver_shootout.htm




    David_S
    Sony Legend
    Joined: Aug 03, 2004
    Posts: 905
    From: BC, Canada
     Posted: 2012-04-02 00:30   

    On 2012-03-30 10:56, mykyll2727 wrote:
    Some interesting thoughts on the SQ of present receivers vs vintage ones.

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-20082026-47/how-can-30-year-old-receivers-sound-better-than-new-ones/  


    and an intersting test between a vintage "monster" stereo receiver and a modern AV unit. The link is in the above blog.


    http://www.iavscanada.com/Articles/art_receiver_shootout.htm




    Innovative Audio is a business that is driving distance from me.  They specialize in selling used audio components.  They test & repair components before putting them up for sale.  I have been their store a few times.  It is a very interesting business to visit.

    I previously read the blind comparison test between the 2009 Yamaha RX-V1800, 1978 Pioneer SX-1980 & 1978 Sony STR-V6 Receivers.

    Older 2 channel receivers were very simple devices compared to today's multi-channel AV receivers.  Manufacturers stuff all the new technology into a box that is similar size to older 2 channel receivers and have to keep it at a price point affordable by the masses.

    Information posted on this forum demonstrates some of the problems these new AV receivers face.

    I have shown how wiring location can affect residual noise in an audio signal.  Nick has improved his DA9100ES with ferrite tiles & posted information about the effects of vibrations on crystal clocks.  Maxx has demonstrated the improvements of resonance tuning on the V-Link.  These are all problems that overstuffed modern AV receivers have.

    Modern AV receivers are essentially complex computer controlled devices dedicated to distribute & amplify audio & video signals.  It should not be very surprising that a well built vintage receiver can match or better the SQ of a modern receiver.


    -----------------
    TA- E77ES E80ES E1000ESD E9000ES TA- N77ES F555ES, ST-S730ES RM- AV3000 AX1400 (2)AX4000 STR- DA4ES DA3100ES (2)DA5700ES (2)GX10ES DVP- (3)NS999ES NS3100ES CX777ES CDP-X303ES, CDP-M555ES MDS-JA20ES, TC-K717ES, DTC-690

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-04-02 04:30   

    On 2012-04-02 00:30, David_S wrote:

    On 2012-03-30 10:56, mykyll2727 wrote:
    .
    Older 2 channel receivers were very simple devices compared to today's multi-channel AV receivers.  Manufacturers stuff all the new technology into a box that is similar size to older 2 channel receivers and have to keep it at a price point affordable by the masses.

    Information posted on this forum demonstrates some of the problems these new AV receivers face.

    I have shown how wiring location can affect residual noise in an audio signal.  Nick has improved his DA9100ES with ferrite tiles & posted information about the effects of vibrations on crystal clocks.  Maxx has demonstrated the improvements of resonance tuning on the V-Link.  These are all problems that overstuffed modern AV receivers have.

    Modern AV receivers are essentially complex computer controlled devices dedicated to distribute & amplify audio & video signals.  It should not be very surprising that a well built vintage receiver can match or better the SQ of a modern receiver.


    -----------------






    I'm in complete agreement with you. I feel that much fairer test would've been to compare a modern stereo receiver to the vintage units instead of a multi channel unit. I suspect in the case of stereo receivers the SQ would be quite close._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-04-02 04:34   


    The case that McGowen makes in this email leads me to believe he feels this situation has created better audio products overall. I don't know if I agree. There seems to me to be alot of junk out there anyway.




    Instant feedback

    Back in “the day” a manufacturer would launch a new product to waiting Audiophiles and the first reviews of it would generally start to emerge perhaps 6 months later. In the meantime, many units were sold without benefit of other people’s opinions save those of the dealer. Now that dynamic is changed.

    Today the internet ensures that within a few moments of launch, opinions start to fly and reviews are out there before most of the product hits the dealer’s shelves. So we’ve gone from months before public opinion weighs in to minutes. That’s a really interesting dynamic because if you make something people don’t like it may never get to the dealer’s shelves.

    For example, when we launched the MarkII upgrade for the PerfectWave DAC, the first units were received and within less than an hour opinions were posted.

    Interest levels on this feedback are greater than I would have imagined and not just from potential customers either. Consider this: an upgrade to a product is only interesting to those that own the product being upgraded and there are slightly more than 3,000 PerfectWave DAC owners. Yet if you go to our community forums you’ll note that more than 15,000 people have viewed the opinions on the product, a startling 5 times the number of people who own PWD’s.

    This is one interesting dynamic that’s changing the face of high-end audio and forcing manufacturers to get it right straight away.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-04-02 08:45   
    I've been meaning to post this for some time. I think amp and speaker designs need some more clever solutions like this.



    Twenty five cent improvement

    One of the cleverest solutions to amplifier designs came to our attention through our old friend Nelson Pass, then of Threshold. We always referred to it as the “sliding class A bias circuit” and what was clever about it is it took less than $0.25 in parts to work.

    All traditionally designed power amps are class A to some extent. Class A simply means that the output transistors are fully on and drawing power from the wall, even if there’s no audio signal. Most amps are only class A for the first 30 watts of power and then they switch to what we call Class B where the transistors only draw enough power to make your speakers work. This type of circuit is called Class A/B.

    A fully Class A amplifier constantly generates tons of heat – most of it wasted. In fact, class A amplifiers create most of their heat when they are just sitting there without a signal – and less heat at full output power. They are very inefficient devices but great sounding. Nelson figured out how to have both Class A performance and efficient operation – and he did it for less than a quarter’s worth of parts.

    Using a simple resistor and a diode in series with each other, he connected one end to the amplifiers output and the other end of the two parts to an internal circuit (used by all amplifiers) that adjusts the bias level. What this did is made the bias go up and down in synch with the output music signal. So, remember the 30 watts of class A every amplifier has? This amount of power tracked up and down with the music so for any given signal, there was always class A performance. But when there was no signal, there was no heat being generated.

    I think Nelson patented the circuit and came up with a clever name.

    But to this day it’s the best twenty five cent improvement I’ve ever seen.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-04-09 08:32   
    I said this myself earlier. Unfortunately I know too many audiophiles who don't take it seriously enough. A nice tip at the end too.




    You might find this a bit shocking …..

    Good speakers in a bad room won’t sound as good as bad speakers in a good room. Sorry, I know that’s perhaps not something you want to read.

    We spend a lot of time and money researching and then purchasing our loudspeakers and when we get them home they most certainly are not living up to their potential unless the room is perfect for them – and it never is.

    Loudspeakers were not designed to work in a typical room so we must work the room to accommodate the speakers.

    Here’s a tip for you on room treatment: diffusing is almost always preferable to absorbing.

    RickeyM
    Sony King
    Joined: Sep 09, 2004
    Posts: 1428
    From: Baltimore, Maryland
     Posted: 2012-04-09 17:12   
    Reading alot of comments from other owners of planar speakers such as myself, it's almost always a WOW moment when they begin to get their room treatments right. Most mono-polar speakers don't interact with the room the way di & bi polar speakers do, but they generally have more interaction with the walls and objects in the room than you think. I can understand why the goal of many is to have a room where they can set up their audio systems as they wish. It can save you a lot of money in not having to buy and then sell off gear that can't give you the sound you want because the room is working against you.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-04-10 02:30   

    On 2012-04-09 17:12, RickeyM wrote:
    Reading alot of comments from other owners of planar speakers such as myself, it's almost always a WOW moment when they begin to get their room treatments right. Most mono-polar speakers don't interact with the room the way di & bi polar speakers do, but they generally have more interaction with the walls and objects in the room than you think. I can understand why the goal of many is to have a room where they can set up their audio systems as they wish. It can save you a lot of money in not having to buy and then sell off gear that can't give you the sound you want because the room is working against you.






    I agree and I learned it from personal experience with my present room when we moved here years ago. I took the exact same system that I had setup in the old place and set it up here. At the old place it sounded truly outstanding. When I set it up here and I first turned it on it had me rushing to turn it off. It sounded absolutely terrible! If it hadn't been for my experience at the old place I wouldn't have known how good it was capable of sounding. If it hadn't been for the earlier experience I might have logically assumed that certain Sony ES gear sucked. But since from personal experience I knew that wasn't the case I knew where the problem was. Since I was limited to the type of treatments I could use I had to rely on furnishings and their placement to bring the room "in line". It took a great deal of time and effort but in the end I learned and experienced alot. I was very surprised to learn how much not just things like furniture played but what an effect the placement of say a potted plant could make.


    I would love to setup my present system in the old place to hear the differences and determine how well I've done._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-04-10 03:18   
    McGowen's latest email on room treatments. I agree with him that it has become more difficult to find affordable treatments as the "fad" seems to have waned. Unfortunately so, as it is so important to great SQ.




     Where did they all go?

    Yesterday’s post about rooms and loudspeakers sparked a lot of questions about what diffusors to use and how to place them.

    Funny thing is, there’s really no good answer any more. I used to advocate RPG diffusors and personally I use a combination of RPG and DAAD Diffusors but it seems RPG has gone away from high-end accessibility and DAAD is not something you can afford.

    Where does one go now and what the heck happend to the whole industry?

    There was a time when room tuning was all the rage. From Michael Greene putting expensive pillows in the corners of the room while standing on a ladder to all kinds of crazy tricks and theories to a quiet nothingness. I searched around and found ASC Tube Traps are still around but seems they’re targeting the home theater market these days. I am sure there are plenty I’ve missed but ….

    Room tuning isn’t a fad. I know the room tuning craze of years ago probably turned off a lot of folks, but it is still perhaps the most important element you have to making your system sound magical.

    Do what you can to make the room work. You’ll be blown away with the results.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-04-11 10:36   
    The future of room correction? My question is...Why doesn't he make it himself?




    Here’s a whacky idea

    We’ve been focusing on the importance of the room to a stereo system over the past couple of days. Let’s dive a little deeper.

    Nelson Pass designed an interesting product called the Shadow a while ago. It was an active bass correction device that made sense – because instead of correcting the output of the speakers for bass problems in the room – it fixed the room itself and left the main speakers alone. Not sure whatever happend to it but it mirrors an idea I’ve had for years: fixing the room has to be better than fixing the output of the speakers with what’s incorrectly referred to as “active room correction” (because it doesn’t actually correct the room).

    “Active room correction” through DSP is really something of a can of worms. This technique basically changes what comes out of your loudspeakers to correct for problems of the room. So, for example, you have too much bass at your listening position because of the room – so the DSP reduces how much bass your loudspeakers generate to compensate. While this works I think it’s wrong headed because it is fixing a symptom instead of the problem.

    Imagine something entirely different for a moment: instead of correcting what comes out of your speakers, correct what the room is doing by adding a series of wall-hugging modules around the room – one on each wall. These modules are somewhat like Nelson’s idea only full range and much more powerful – each with a microphone, amplifier, DSP and loudspeaker “listening” to what’s around them and eliminating the room according to the user’s instructions. Designed properly you could walk into any room and change the perceived dimensions and acoustics of that room with the touch of a button. You could make a large hall for one type of recording and a small and intimate one for another.

    I know this is totally whacky, only for Audiophiles, unfriendly to wives, small children and dogs. But I can dream can’t I?

    I picture being at a consumer audio show with a group of people sitting in the room. I ask everyone in the room to close their eyes and “feel” the space they are in as I talk. Then I touch a button on my remote activating the modules and ask “ok what size room am I in now?” The room just grew to huge – those sitting in the audience are now in a large hall, or a small one, or perhaps even “outside”. The important feature here is the audience is IN the room. The main loudspeakers or even a live group playing in the room sound completely different BECAUSE of the room.

    Perhaps some young designer out there will have a lightbulb go off after reading this. I’d be his first customer.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-04-16 03:30   
    I'm in complete agreement with you. I find it to be very sound advice indeed._mykl

    [ This message was edited by: Maxxwire on 2012-04-19 23:00 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-04-23 11:06   


    I meant to state this earlier. As I said before the room my system is in now is a sonic nightmare. Without the ability to actually "rebuild" the room it's been quite a challenge to "get it right. One of the things I did was a little experiment to see how right it was when I last reconfigured the room. I was not surprised at the results but found it VERY frustrating. Once I had it sounding good in the proper right/left, I/O connection I simply switched the interconnects at the player's outputs from right-right, left-left to right-left, left-right. If everything was perfect it should sound the same only with the channels reversed. Left channel coming from right speaker and right channel coming from left speaker. Well frustratingly the sound was noticeably different. In fact on one track there is a sound which pans across the soundstage from right to left. In one configuration it panned in the other it stayed locked at one side. Even though my system sounds VERY good I still haven't completely resolved the different acoustics of the room. It still does not sound exactly the same in both configurations. I will defintely have my work cut out for me when I upgrade my speakers._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-04-23 11:09   
    This echoes my goal for my system. Enjoyment. I'm not concerned if it's pure or not just if it sounds good to me.



    Enjoying it all

    In response to our little series on purity and musical truth one of our Australian readers posted this comment:

    “It’s all about enjoyment. I have listened to a number of systems that are very detailed and analytical and I hear things that I don’t hear on my system but they are cold and emotionless and to me not enjoyable.”

    And I think that sums all this up quite nicely. There are those of us who insist purity is the only path to achieving musical truth and any deviation from that path must be avoided – but I think we’ve shown there are a number of ways to get there.

    Bass and treble controls are not pure but in some cases they may bring us more enjoyment of the music and that’s what matters.

    Just remember all the great music out there to be enjoyed on your system.

    I am turning mine on right now.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-04-26 11:12   
    This may explain why (despite the naysayers who say bits are bits) some of us hear and see differences in digital signals.




    Why everything matters in today’s high-end systems

    In 1973 when we first started PS Audio everything mattered to the sound quality path: types of capacitors, types of transistors, resistors, circuit topology, connectors, power supplies, chassis builds and so on. Then we moved to digital audio and the pundits of the day proclaimed that bits are bits it wouldn’t matter what we did with them it would always sound the same as long as the bits didn’t change.

    Boy were the futurists of that time wrong.

    Today everything is different yet the same. Music is mostly delivered digitally and instead of analog’s direct hardware based paths for the audio to travel we have millions of logic gates to direct the flow of music instead. We’re learning that the route those digital musical bits takes is every bit as important to the sound quality as it was in the days of direct analog. Even if the output of bits is identical, the course they take seems to affect the sound quality you hear.

    Isn’t it odd that while everything seems different it’s really the same?

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-04-29 13:45   
    I found this especially interesting as I feel there's alot of things that effect the sound of today's audio that just haven't been fully recognised and addressed.





    Software jitter

    Just when we thought we had it all figured out along comes a new form of distortion to tackle: software jitter. The culprit here is, unfortunately, a very necessary component in the chain of digital audio – the CPU (central processing unit) itself.

    We first noticed this problem when we started releasing different versions of software and firmware – every release of our music management program eLyric sounds different and every release of the Bridge firmware sounds different. This might seem obvious to you but not to our designers since the changes we were making had “nothing” to do with the data stream or the audio itself. Sometimes a change in the front panel display code would cause a major upset in sound quality.

    Turns out the core of this issue is our old “pal” the power supply – the problem we started working on in 1975 when we introduced external high-current power supply options and again in 1997 with the Power Plant. Differences in code change how the CPU chugs along or gets wild with activity – which in turn modulates the power supply causing tiny voltage shifts. These voltage shifts affect the transition area between a 1 and a 0 causing a temporal shift in the data called jitter.

    Of course it should be obvious the way to fix this isn’t in the code that causes the changing flurry of CPU activity but in the hardware itself – a much bigger challenge. You can see some of this work reflected in our new MKII upgrade of the PWD where we went from a couple of localized regulators to 11 – all in an effort to minimize the effects of software jitter.

    I wanted to write this post to keep you up to date with what’s being discovered in our industry. Look for changes in hardware and lots of controversy surrounding this finding. I am sure it’ll rise to the top shortly.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-05-01 11:04   
    I didn't know this about opamps. I definitely believe we still have much to learn about what affects the SQ of home audio and some of it will be much different from what we believe to be obvious.



    It’s obvious

    Ever notice how something is obvious only after someone points it out to you?

    In our post on Software Jitter I got several emails from folks telling me “that’s an obvious distortion path”. True enough but it sure wasn’t before we found it.

    Fact is we’ve been struggling with trying to figure out why small changes in the code that runs our products have an impact on the sound quality – why folks love one version of software and dislike another. There are many great mysteries concerning sound quality and they only become obvious once you figure them out.

    I remember when we first learned why most IC op amps sounded worse than their discrete counterparts – something still true today.

    On the face of it, an integrated circuit amplifier should be better than the same thing built from individual parts spread out over a circuit board. The IC has many advantages: one piece of silicon, perfect temperature tracking, precise values of related components, no physical leads, short connections between components and so on.

    Discrete op amps should (and do) have many flaws: multiple solder joints, physical leads and connections, PC board traces, parts variability, temperature based differences between components, etc.

    Yet consistently the simpler discrete amplifier circuits sonically trounce most IC amplifiers that have much better measured specs.

    Then along came Mattie Otala who started talking about new forms of distortion like TIM and SID – terms we’d never heard or even thought of. Without delving too deep it turns out that the ability to control how well an amplifier operates without feedback, something easily handled in a discrete amplifier and generally impossible in the available IC’s of the day, has everything to do with how it plays back music.

    Once we understood the phenomena we could control it. If we wanted to take advantage of an IC amplifier we knew what to look for – or we could just stick with what we were using already, discrete op amps – but now we knew why they sounded better. This knowledge helped raise the sound quality of everything solid state in high-end audio from that point on. In fact, once high-end audio designers unravelled all of this, we turned the corner and started closing the gap between tubes and transistors. It was a pivotal piece of information.

    Heck, we should have known because it was obvious!







    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-05-15 05:10   


    The link to this was posted on another AV Forum. I found it interesting. There's alot going on with the SQ of computer audio.




    http://www.amr-audio.co.uk/large_image/MAC%20OSX%20audio%20players%20&%20Integer%20Mode.pdf

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-05-20 11:32   
    I decided to post this here. I heard it said many times that shows aren't the best places to really hear what systems can do. It also goes to show how important acoustics are and that price and SQ don't always go hand in hand.




    The worst

    I am visiting the high-end show in Tokyo at the moment and last night, between demonstrations of the system, I was wandering the halls of the show when the strains of one of my all time favorite operas came drifting down the hall. La Boheme, as performed by Renata Tebaldi in 1951 on a classic London recording, is and always has been one of the best performances and recordings of this classic Puccini masterpiece.

    When I first began to appreciate high-end audio and opera as an artform, this was the recording that taught me about soundstage and depth and realism of recording. The performers are captured by a simple microphone setup that really gives you the impression you’re center position in the audience – so real the performance and so emotion filled the music – that more than any performance I have listened to this is the one that just sweeps you off your feet and puts you into the scene. You are there.

    So it was with horror and indignation that I sat down to listen to the most God awful playback of this classic music. The room was jam packed with Audiophiles thrilled to be hearing an expensive system playing classic vinyl and ignoring the results – that to my ears could have just as easily been fed from an iPod playing an MP3. The manufacturer was explaining something in Japanese about a special turntable platter and he was A/Bing the differences in performance between whatever he was selling. Not only did I not hear an improvement I was just so PO’d at them passing the sound off as high end I wanted to scream.

    Instead of you are there - reliving a magical moment with these timeless performers – we seemed to be listening to a giant set of ear buds on expensive loudspeakers and played through even more expensive electronics. The soundstage projected in front of the loudspeakers with no placement of the performers apparent, just loud squawks from the singers and the empty spaces filled in with the orchestra that appears from the mass of sound. The crowd seemingly oblivious to what this is supposed to sound like.

    I am saddened and reminded of how often this happens at audio shows – this has nothing to do with Japan or these fellas at all – truth is, I am always surprised and delighted when I find a system that has soundstage qualities and plays music at a show. It is certainly the rare exception not the norm.

    I will be missing the US show in Newport Beach while I am overseas but I hope that at least a few manufacturers will hold high the values of high-end audio for the rest of us.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-05-21 05:24   
    I decided to post this as I posted the one before it and in case someone is interested in opera on BluRay.




    The best
    05/21/2012

    After yesterday’s post about hearing the worst performance of a high-end system in a long time I would like to share with you the best which I encountered in the very same day here in Japan. We travelled far outside the city of Tokyo to visit a dealer with a showroom and listening/viewing environment in his basement. Rarely have I been so delighted as to sit and enjoy what unfolded.

    The room was hand built by this gentleman known locally as the “static king” for his penchant to wrap everything and anything in a sheath of metallic strings that looked odd by anyone’s standards. Not expecting much from this dedicated theater playing only 720P on the projector and the music rendered by sets of homemade loudspeakers, the lights lowered and we settled in to absorb the experience whatever it may be. With the lights low I also knew it was an opportunity to close my weary eyes for a moment if I had to endure something less than stellar – I never closed them even for a moment.

    Before me on a 166″ screen that went floor to ceiling – while we sat on low slung couches – unfolded the image of Anna Netrebko the Russian operatic star who simply tore through this small and intimate theater enveloping us all in music and images that delighted the soul and tickled every fiber of our beings.

    The Blu Ray of the Deutches Gramaphone Opera Gala was unknown to me before this and as such I was simply mesmerized and my heart soared to be in this special room at this moment in time.

    The performance takes place at the Baden Baden Festpielhaus in July 2007 and featured tenor Ramón Vargas, baritone Ludovic Tézier, mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca, and of course Anna Netrebko – together for a live concert of operatic arias by composers Donizetti, Bellini, Rossini, Verdi and Delibes. If you have the chance, grab this beauty.

    I am just blown away that in the space of a single day I could witness two completely unexpected events from the best to the worst.

    But then, getting outside my environment like this always has its rewards.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-06-12 18:47   
    McGowen had this advice regarding room acoustics




    You should worry about your chair

    Just when you thought it was safe to relax in your listening room and enjoy the music let me make you aware of the damage your chair might be inflicting on the music. Yes, the chair.

    One of the items of furniture in the room you should be careful with is the chair and its back. If you’re using a low back chair as your main listening seat, you’re good to go. But if you’re using a high back chair, a couch or anything much larger than you are, it’s changing the sound.

    I changed all the chairs out in my listening room to ones with a simple wooden frame and cushion that I sit on. There are as acoustically transparent as I can find. I think they were from Ikea and they cost me about $150 each. Interestingly enough they have high backs but are shaped such that the back doesn’t interfere with the sound if you remove the head rest it comes with.

    Here’s a picture of mine I think it’s called the Poang chair and you can get it online.

    poang chair  22268 PE107124 S4 300x300 You should worry about your chair


    I am sure there are many fine chairs out there but just be careful to do what I did, remove the headrest, or go low back. It makes a difference.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-06-12 19:34   
    Here's his arguement that today's sytems have gotten so good that it's very hard to improve on them. Similar to the arguement for the law of diminshing returns in the high end. I don't really buy into it.



    Fewer choices

    Back in the 1970′s when high-end audio was just blossoming into a real force there were many more dramatic choices of tailoring your system the way you wanted it to sound.

    For example, I remember the first time I was introduced to a Decca phono cartridge and compared it to the Stanton III cartridge – what a revelation. The Decca cartridge was the most dynamic blow your socks off cartridge I had ever heard.

    No, it’s sound wasn’t as elegant and refined as the Stanton III but man was it a kick-ass stunner.

    The very first track we played on the new Decca cartridge was a Sheffield direct to disc Lincoln Mayorga track – which already had dynamics that far exceeded any commercially pressed album. When the kick drum was snapped the woofers nearly jumped out of their baskets – I had simply never heard anything like that. The difference between that track played on the Stanton and the Decca was like the difference between a Toyota Prius and a Mac Truck.

    I bring this to your attention because it occurred to me this morning just how dramatic a change that was, relative to the magnitude of change one can get today – and I questioned whether or not we had perhaps taken a step backwards?

    Upon further reflection I think not. Today’s overall systems are so much better in every respect to those older setups that even small changes are getting tougher because the overall quality is so much better.

    That’s a good thing, but I do miss the slap in your face changes those older pieces of kit brought




    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-06-14 15:14   
    Here's a case for a dedicated server and a plug for the one he's coming out with.



    Why a dedicated computer isn’t a dedicated server

    A lot of folks out there are taking an older unused computer or even a new MAC Mini and dedicating it to serving their music. This is a good idea relative to using a shared computer to do the same – but dedicating a computer to this task isn’t the same as a purpose build server.

    Let’s take the MAC Mini for example. The MAC Mini from Apple is perhaps one of the best bargains in computers today: low cost, quiet (fanless) fast and has a built in hard drive. Once you manage to install the appropriate software and get the setup right, you can remove the video monitor, mouse and other peripherals and just let it run. Many folks do this with great succes.

    But an all purpose computer, like the Mini, is more like a receiver than separates. An all purpose computer is asked to do a lot of things unrelated to serving music and, just like in the case of a stereo receiver, it really never does one thing better than anything else. We turn to separate components for a reason and that same logic applies to computers serving music as well.

    Our engineering team is working hard on building a true dedicated server – as I am sure a few other forward thinking high-end audio companies are as well. Our work so far has shown clear and irrefutable results that dedicating hardware and software to one single task provides far better sonic performance in streaming audio than a general purpose device does – and this applies to just taking an off-the-shelf motherboard and dedicating it to the task as well.

    So if a manufacturer has chosen to purchase an off-the-shelf single board computer or motherboard and then polish it up with software and peripherals to build a dedicated server – it’s still a general purpose computer with all the inherent noise and issues associated with them.

    We’re approaching an age where we’re going to get back to separates and for good reason.






    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-06-14 15:14   
    Here's a case for a dedicated server and a plug for the one he's coming out with.



    Why a dedicated computer isn’t a dedicated server

    A lot of folks out there are taking an older unused computer or even a new MAC Mini and dedicating it to serving their music. This is a good idea relative to using a shared computer to do the same – but dedicating a computer to this task isn’t the same as a purpose build server.

    Let’s take the MAC Mini for example. The MAC Mini from Apple is perhaps one of the best bargains in computers today: low cost, quiet (fanless) fast and has a built in hard drive. Once you manage to install the appropriate software and get the setup right, you can remove the video monitor, mouse and other peripherals and just let it run. Many folks do this with great succes.

    But an all purpose computer, like the Mini, is more like a receiver than separates. An all purpose computer is asked to do a lot of things unrelated to serving music and, just like in the case of a stereo receiver, it really never does one thing better than anything else. We turn to separate components for a reason and that same logic applies to computers serving music as well.

    Our engineering team is working hard on building a true dedicated server – as I am sure a few other forward thinking high-end audio companies are as well. Our work so far has shown clear and irrefutable results that dedicating hardware and software to one single task provides far better sonic performance in streaming audio than a general purpose device does – and this applies to just taking an off-the-shelf motherboard and dedicating it to the task as well.

    So if a manufacturer has chosen to purchase an off-the-shelf single board computer or motherboard and then polish it up with software and peripherals to build a dedicated server – it’s still a general purpose computer with all the inherent noise and issues associated with them.

    We’re approaching an age where we’re going to get back to separates and for good reason.






    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-06-30 10:35   
    I'm going to be interested in what McGowen has further to say on this email as it directly relates to my initial questions in this thread.




    Getting a piece of it

    I’ve written before that in the long run I find that we are very far away from reproducing live sound in our homes. We stress over cleaning and polishing the fine details of our systems when, in reality, they are very far away from live sound reproduced in our home. We can fool our senses by closing our eyes and imagining we’re in a concert hall but we always know we are not.

    I believe that the biggest hurdles to achieving live sound in our homes are to be found not in digital vs. analog recording and playback but in the transducers themselves: the microphones and loudspeakers. These are archaic contraptions that will hold us back from reaching audio nirvana for as long as we insist on using them. Not that I have anything better to offer.

    But can we get a piece of it right? Is it possible to reproduce some of the live qualities of music in our homes? I think the answer is yes and I would like to touch on the qualities of some of what we have right over the next few days.

    My purpose in writing this isn’t to be a naysayer but rather to poke the box as my friend Seth is fond of saying. Poking the box means to me that I bring to light that which some of us may find uncomfortable. That which challenges our cherished beliefs.

    Tomorrow I start with the middle of the chain.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-07-02 05:55   
    Here's the next email,











    First thought puzzle

    I find it valuable to create thought puzzles to try and answer perplexing questions about our art. I thought I might share a few with you and then post about some of the conclusions I’ve drawn from this process in a few days. You may find it interesting.

    Let me begin with something we know and are clear about. If you take an electric guitar and plug it into a decent digital audio recorder and then create a bypass switch that allows you to select between the guitar output or the recorder’s output and feed this into an integrated guitar amp/speaker combination – the output of the guitar amp/speaker will be indistinguishable switching between the live guitar and the recorded version of the same if the listener cannot see what’s going on and you’ve taken care to gain and impedance match the interface.

    The difference between the direct output of the guitar’s pickup vs. the digitally recorded copy of the pickup’s output – when played back through the amp/speaker combo – cannot, in my experience, be measured or heard.

    I have performed this experiment years ago and with reasonably poor digital recording equipment. Using a state of the art A/D and digital recording DAC playback chain of today’s caliber makes this experiment even more interesting.

    If this is true then one would have to conclude that in this specific instance, the recording chain isn’t contributing changes in dynamics, tonal qualities, pacing or any other high-end parameter many of us attribute to digital recording – even at Red Book sample rates.

    But we all believe this to not be the case. Interesting.

    Tomorrow let’s go one step further.






    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-07-01 05:45   
    OK it seems like this email is really just another plug for the Hypex amp tech and of course his buddy Jeff Rowland loves it too. After reading this email I feel it's a plug as I don't see what he couldn't have said in a sentence or two otherwise. The fault for why we're not closer to reproducing the live sound doesn't lie at the feet of amp tech as recent advancements in that area have done it's job of taking us there.



    Stuck in the middle

    My friend and fellow audio designer Jeff Rowland came by to say hi the other day. Jeff’s always a welcome guest as he and I manage to nearly always be on parallel paths when it comes to product designs. I found Jeff and friend Tim Jerome in our listening room playing music on the new amp we’re working on developing. I’ve written before that this new amplifier is a stunning breakthrough in audio reproduction and to date I haven’t heard anything close.

    The amp technology I am referring to is, as many of you guessed, based on the new Hypex class D technology and sure to form Jeff had independently made the same decision and was on a parallel path to building his own version.

    I bring this to your attention because I want to illustrate a point about where we are in the scope of things. To both Jeff and I this new amplifier technology represents a stunning achievement – one that is immediately obvious in its benefits to the listener – one that single handedly blows away all the years of work we’ve lavished on polishing our analog amp designs. And yet, it moves us closer to live sound in our homes not by miles but by inches.

    It’s easy to get excited about incremental changes within a flawed system while simultaneously ignoring the elephant in the room.

    I am excited about our latest amplifier technology and the positive impact it will have on our systems – but it is important to remember that we are only a little closer in our quest to bring live music into the home. I think we have the middle of the chain under pretty good control it’s the outer edges we have to focus on if we’re ever to get truly closer to live music.

    Separating giant leaps of fundamental improvement from giant leaps of incremental improvement is often hard. Since I have nothing to offer in terms of improving the outer edges of the reproduction process I will continue to push the boundaries of what works in the middle of the reproduction chain. And that’s a good thing.

    Tomorrow I will offer you a mental puzzle that will help explain some of my thinking.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-07-03 05:21   
    I agree with this,




    One step further

    In yesterday’s post I put forth the idea that it doesn’t seem to matter sonically what you might feed into a guitar amp/speaker combo – a live guitar or a recorded version of the same – what you hear will be so close to the same one cannot tell the difference. Reminds me of that old ad for Memorex tape “is it live or recorded”?

    But this observation seems to fly directly in the face of what most of us would consider to be a basic truth – that we can easily tell differences in recordings – certainly the difference between a digital recording and an analog recording – and live vs. recorded. Yet this simple thought problem would seem to counter that.

    OK, now let’s go one more step. Take that same setup with the guitar and amp/speaker and record the sound with a microphone – as they many times do in a recording studio when a musician wants their sound to be captured. Now, play it back through a high-end loudspeaker. Will it sound identical to the original? No.

    It can’t because even if the high-end loudspeaker used for playback is 100% neutral in its colorations (none are) it can never sound the same as what you hear standing in the room.

    Why, you might ask? There are at least two big hurdles: first there probably isn’t anywhere you can place that microphone that will capture what you’re hearing in the room and even if you could the playback speaker is typically in another environment as well.

    Only when you have the playback speaker replace the original source of the sound in exactly the same spot in exactly the same room might you have a chance.

    To make matters worse, there’s even another problem which we’ll discuss tomorrow.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-07-04 05:30   
    I think he makes a very valid point here. It also brings to mind for me the question of burn-in. Does burn-in really occur or do we with time begin to make mental adjustments. IMO it's a bit of both.


    Making matters worse

    In yesterday’s post I expanded the thought problem to using a microphone to now capture the live sound and then what happens when we play it back. It doesn’t sound the same. In fact, it cannot unless you try placing the playback setup in exactly the same space as the recording took place.

    Now let’s make matters worse. Have you ever sat in a meeting or at your kitchen table having a conversation that you happen to record? When you playback that conversation it sounds very different than when you were at the kitchen table – it’s hollow sounding and includes the room echo. Does this mean the microphone making the recording is being unfaithful? No, it’s exactly the opposite – your auditory system is the unfaithful one.

    When we are speaking in a room our ear/brains have learned to tune out all those irritating room reflections and we ignore them – to the point where we simply don’t hear them at all. When we place a microphone in that room and record the conversation and then play it back, the room echoes are apparent instantly because we no longer perceive them with their timing and phase differences so our brains can ignore them. They appear to us as a single sound source.

    The only way you’re going to get close is to go into a studio that’s deadened the room reflections, record the conversation and then play it back in exactly the same space and place in the kitchen. Then you might have a chance – but that won’t happen.

    Tomorrow the outer edges.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-07-08 05:25   
    Here's his last email on this.




    Stereo

    This is the final in our little series on live vs. recorded. We’ve ben discussing recordings and how it is that with some types of recordings and setup we can immediately tell live from recorded and in other types we cannot. This is a huge subject and one we can return to another day.

    Let me suggest that it is easier to tell a live feed from a recorded feed if you are using stereo vs. mono. Might seem obvious but let’s take a closer look anyway.

    If you’ve ever been part of a modern multitrack recording process you know that most of these constructed recordings are actually mono. That is, the vocals and each of the instruments are recorded on a single track with a single monaural source. The exception to this might be the drums where there are multiple monaural microphones on the same instrument – but even in this case each of the microphones is essentially a mono feed. Once captured on tape or digital the stereo space for each of these mono feeds is then assigned to build a “live” studio recording where the acoustic space is fabricated by the recording engineer. Rarely does this method give us a feel of a live space – but in the hands of a master it can get close.

    But it is not the recording process itself that is to blame. If you listen to each of these mono tracks individually it’s much harder to identify a live feed vs. a recorded feed as our ear/brain mechanisms try and assign a reality check on the spatial cues we’re all so used to relying upon. And it is not the multitrack recorders that are to blame either. In the days before multitrack recording engineers could still use multi-microphone feeds in the same way – and with the same somewhat muddled “live” sounds as a result – because they lacked one thing that the ear/brain is very sensitive to: acoustic space.

    The recordings of yesterday we so treasure for their “live” sound are typically examples like the classic Mercury three microphone recordings because they captured the acoustic space with equal importance to the direct sound. Some of the older mono versions sound good but lose that illusion of acoustic space.

    In the hands of a master, like Keith Johnson of Reference Recordings, multi-microphone recordings can also enjoy breathtaking live sound as well – but here we have the exception not the rule.

    In the end when we have a monaural close miked recording on good equipment it is nearly impossible to tell live vs. recorded which shows me the recording medium and electronics of same far exceed our abilities to discern differences. But when it comes to reproducing the acoustic space and all the subtle cues and nuances our ear/brains are so finely tuned to identify, it is here in this area that we can immediately hear any small change in the chain.

    Tomorrow we start a new series on a completely different path: integrated vs. discrete and then on to op amps.




    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-07-05 08:42   
    Here's his latest email on the subject.





    The outer edges

    We’ve taken a simplistic look at recordings and shown what’s probably obvious to most – that recording and reproducing simple electrical signals like those out of a guitar is rather easy and something we need not question about preserving. Quite a number of you pointed out that seems like a rather trivial task – recording those small electrical signals that seem so simple. Indeed.

    But let me point out that everything we record is nothing more than “simple electrical signals” no different than those straight out of our electric guitar (which actually aren’t that simple). The only differences we hear, and this is the point of this series, comes from the outer edges of the art – the input and output devices of our recording chain or, as I like to say, the “goes into” and the “goes out of” devices – microphones and loudspeakers and their necessary support kit.

    Obvious you suggest? I am not sure about that. As Audiophiles we stress over sample rates, bit depth and any number of criteria involved in the recording process – yet that same recording process when applied to simple electrical signals directly injected from an acoustic instrument (our guitar) via an electrical pickup – are indistinguishable for any type of reasonable recording process.

    Before you jump off the chair and point out that an electrical guitar is a bad example because it hasn’t any transients, hasn’t any tonal qualities to mask, hasn’t any subtle details like those reproduced by a microphone, let me point out this isn’t exactly true. A magnetic pickup on a guitar can have over 100dB of dynamic range, is extremely sensitive to the quick transient nature of a guitar string and even though it works on a principal similar to a phono cartridge (without the mechanical interface) it is much more sensitive. But I digress.

    I want to spend a moment on the outer edge pieces – pieces of kit we believe contain much more information and are more problematic to record and reproduce properly than those of a “simple” electrical pickup from a guitar.

    We’ll jump in tomorrow.

    David_S
    Sony Legend
    Joined: Aug 03, 2004
    Posts: 905
    From: BC, Canada
     Posted: 2012-07-06 02:21   

    On 2012-07-04 05:30, mykyll2727 wrote:
    I think he makes a very valid point here. It also brings to mind for me the question of burn-in. Does burn-in really occur or do we with time begin to make mental adjustments. IMO it's a bit of both.



    ...Does this mean the microphone making the recording is being unfaithful? No, it’s exactly the opposite – your auditory system is the unfaithful one.
    ...

    This part of his statement from "Making matters worse" is very interesting.  There is a direct comparison in photography.  It is light color.  Our brain learns the true color of something & tells us it is that color, often ignoring affects of color casts due to lighting.  Cameras don't lie.  The picture of an object might look greenish, or have a yellow tint, depending on the color of the light source.



    -----------------
    TA- E77ES E80ES E1000ESD E9000ES TA- N77ES F555ES, ST-S730ES RM- AV3000 AX1400 (2)AX4000 STR- DA4ES DA3100ES (2)DA5700ES (2)GX10ES DVP- (3)NS999ES NS3100ES CX777ES CDP-X303ES, CDP-M555ES MDS-JA20ES, TC-K717ES, DTC-690

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-07-06 05:06   
    Here's his next email.




    Whoa Nellie

    Yesterday’s post got quite a few of you riled up when I suggested a guitar pickup is just as sensitive to transients and subtle details and produces the same “simple” electrical signals we need to record as even a “complex” microphone and exonerated the recording chain from blame in our loss of live sound.

    I was going to jump into a few posts about the outer edge input/output devices but perhaps let’s throw a little more gasoline on the fire first. I think this is an important thought puzzle.

    Our first thought puzzle involved an electric guitar fed into a digital recording device and a bypass switch – setup so we could feed the guitar amp/speaker with either the output of the recorder or the live feed from the guitar. None of us blinked an eye when I suggested the sound we would hear through the speaker would be identical with either choice – thus exonerating the recording process as the culprit in the loss of live sound from our systems.

    Why not then replace the guitar in our experiment with a microphone? Let’s now imagine two rooms: one a listening room the other a performing room.

    In our performing room we have a stereo microphone setup placed in front of a small musical group playing live in the room. The feed of the microphones go both to our simple digital recorder and the bypass switch. You are sitting in the listening room with the high-end system of your choice and the switch that allows you to select either the output of our digital recorder or the live feed from our microphone. It’s the same experiment we made with the guitar only this time we are using microphones and high-end loudspeakers. Think you’d hear a difference between the two? I’ll bet you would and I would still hold to the notion that you wouldn’t in the guitar example.

    If the recording chain is modifying both feeds the same and if both feeds are equal in their signal complexity then why would we hear the differences in one example and not the other? Is it as many of you suspect that microphones pickup so much more than the guitar pickup?

    The answer is no – in fact, the guitar pickup probably has a better chance of reproducing subtleties than does the microphone.

    Have a ponder and we’ll discuss tomorrow.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-07-06 05:36   

    On 2012-07-06 02:21, David_S wrote:

    .
    ...

    This part of his statement from "Making matters worse" is very interesting.  There is a direct comparison in photography.  It is light color.  Our brain learns the true color of something & tells us it is that color, often ignoring affects of color casts due to lighting.  Cameras don't lie.  The picture of an object might look greenish, or have a yellow tint, depending on the color of the light source.



    -----------------




    Good point. I remember decades ago (back in my teens and 20s when I was into photography) the issues lighting created with print/slide film. The sometime need for filters and the need of different film for indoor and outdoor use. "Natural" lighting as opposed to indoor/flash. Incandesent lighting as opposed to flourescent. Indeed I think in certain circumstances/situations our ears do something similar to our eyes. Could well be a leftover from our more primitive times when being able to "filter out" certain things was essential to our survival. So that we could more accurately/specifically isolate what was really important to us. I think it is part of the burn-in phenomena, but only part. I think at least in some instances to varying degrees something physical is actually happening and we haven't figured out exactly what._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-07-07 19:22   
     I have to say I'm in agreement with him.




    Pondering

    Yesterday I proposed a thought problem once again. This time we compared the direct output of a stereo microphone vs. the recorded output of that same microphone while a group of acoustic musicians played in a room separate from us – and we could hear a difference between the recorded version and the direct live feed.

    A few days earlier we did the same experiment with an electric guitar feeding an amp/speaker combo while in the same room and we couldn’t hear the difference.

    Many of you speculated the greater resolving power of the microphone vs. the magnetic guitar pickup was the difference. I disagree. I think the difference is two fold: stereo and familiarity. Let’s start with familiarity first.

    If you look closely at two identical photographs of a piece of modern art you’re not familiar with – and one photograph is a slightly lower resolution than the other – chances are good you’ll not be able to tell the difference between the two photographs. But take that same experiment and replace the subject matter with a closeup of a human face and you’ll have a much different experience.

    This is because we humans are exceptional at pattern recognition. Once we have lived with a certain pattern for a long time we can almost always pickup on subtle differences between those patterns – even very complex patterns – almost instantly.

    In the guitar example most of us don’t know what this guitar setup should sound like and therefore the subtle differences between the recorded vs. live go undetected. The same cannot be true for a small group playing live music or the sound of a human voice – something we are all much more familiar with.

    When you hear the sound of a reproduced instrument you are intimately familiar with – even the subtlest of changes are easily detected in this complex pattern. That’s one major reason we can hear one and not the other.

    Tomorrow we tackle the bigger issue.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-07-24 09:01   
    I agree with the jist of this email and I've said pretty much the same thing before. For a variety of reasons I don't believe that at this point measurements are "telling" us everything'




    Albert got it right

    “Everything that can be counted doesn’t necessarily count. Everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.” Albert Einstein must have had high-end audio and measuring in mind when he spoke those words oh so many years ago – but probably not since high-end audio didn’t exist.

    However, it sure does apply today when we think about how our systems sound and how we can try and measure and categorize those findings into neat little boxes and then maneuver them around to suit or listening fancies – sometimes to no avail.

    Fact is when it comes to quantifying what it is you listen for in music and how that presents itself in your system through various cables and pieces of kit, listening is the only valid measurement tool we have. Sure we can come close to figuring out what makes some aspects sound the way they do, but not all – and I imagine we may never get it all measured and cataloged.

    The end goal is to enjoy your music in remarkable fashion every time you sit and listen.

    Measuring those areas that make it remarkable are an interesting exercise for many but for the majority of us, just listening and enjoying our systems is pleasure and satisfaction enough.

    I wonder what kind of system Albert, a consumate music lover, might have enjoyed?

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-07-24 09:12   


    This is pretty much my original question at least with regard to amps and speakers. Now maybe I'm just dense but I'm not sure what exactly his answer of no is to. Is he refering to us thinking we should be closer to perfection or to the fact that we're not? Maybe he'll make that clear to me in his further emails.



    Shouldn’t we be getting close to perfection?

    We’ve got 60 years of experience designing vinyl reproducing equipment, 30 years for CD’s and approaching 10 for computer based audio. Wouldn’t you think with all that experience we’d be getting close to perfect by now?

    And the answer is no, not even close. I know it surprises people when I ask them to close their eyes and imagine they are somewhere else than their living room when they listen to music – but when they do it over a period of time it becomes quite evident they haven’t been musically transported to a live venue – they are still at home.

    Sure there are many instances where we are blissfully carried away by the music – so much so that we lose all cares about where we are and how we’re experiencing it – and sometimes it feels like we’re right there. It’s a tease – but a good one.

    Tomorrow I am going to give you another thought puzzle about the way we hear music in our rooms. I hope you find it stimulating.

    mhedges
    Sonyphile
    Joined: Mar 04, 2003
    Posts: 737
    From: Greensboro, NC
     Posted: 2012-07-24 10:53   
    Why am I all of a sudden getting hundreds of "Agoraquest Watchlist" emails about this thread? Help!

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-07-24 19:56   
    I have no idea why or what they are. What are Agoraquest Watchlist emails? I've never received one._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-07-26 01:20   
    Here's the "thought puzzle". I'm going to be most interested in the "fix".




    A different approach

    Yesterday I promised you an interesting thought challenge that has to do with getting music to sound live in your room – something we mostly all agree our industry and our equipment falls quite short of being able to do.

    First, imagine yourself sitting in the center row of an auditorium. There on the stage is a small combo playing live. The music’s good, the sound is great, you’re into it. You close your eyes and you can feel the room around you, the space you’re in, the music that plays to you. With your eyes still closed, in our imaginary scenario, the combo stops playing and before you can even open your eyes a pair of good loudspeakers replaces the combo and continues their music at the same volume level – only this time from a recording of them.

    Chances are pretty good you’d still think they were playing live if you didn’t know any better. The room is still there, you can still sense the space you’re in, the size of the hall, etc. The recording of the combo was made with relatively closely placed microphones that don’t capture much of the space the musicians are in – but that’s ok because it’s being played back in the exact same space.

    With me so far?

    Now, take that same recording and loudspeaker pair, place them in your living room, close your eyes and listen and you find that which once sounded live now sounds recorded and canned. What happened? The room changed, of course.

    You know – even sitting quietly in the room with nothing playing – the approximate size of the room and the space you’re in. The group that sounded natural and live in the auditorium now sounds wrong and out of place. Why? Well, for one thing if that combo was really in your living room everything would be different for you from an acoustic standpoint. There would be that number of actual people in your living room as well as their instruments and the reflections and ambient noise levels would all be different.

    Bottom line: we can sense, especially in a small confined space, if something is real or not real because of that space and our ability to sense that space.

    So how do we fix this? I’ll tell you tomorrow.





    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-07-26 10:45   
    Well here's his "fix". I don't really buy into it .




    bring water to horses

    Yesterday I modeled what would happen if you moved a perfect reproduction of a live venue to your home. It wouldn’t sound live because of the change of venue. We are quite capable of acoustically defining the space we’re in and it’s hard to fool us.

    I remember once I visited an anechoic chamber and it was an eery experience to say the least. When the door to the chamber closed it felt as if all the life had been sucked out of the room. When I closed my eyes, not only could I not tell what size the room was but all I could hear was the blood pumping in my ears. For all I knew the room could have been the size of a football field. This is about the worst situation you could have for a live group or a stereo system because there are no reflections and we depend on those reflections as audible cues. Yet, this chamber changes the apparent size of the room we’re in and is a key to solving our puzzle.

    And so with that in mind, the answer to yesterday’s thought problem is to change the room – with technology.

    Imagine if we could simulate the room the original combo was playing in. How would that feel? I am quite convinced it would feel like you were there. But to be convincing you’d have to be able to sit in your listening position and close your eyes and believe you are in a a different sized room and hear the space around you. If you coughed or shuffled in your seat, all that you hear would have to be convincing enough to fool you.

    Haven’t we heard of “concert hall” sound and tricks that fool you into believing the music’s playing in a larger venue than it is? Sure we have. Many of you are probably familiar with prior attempts at adding room characteristics into the stereo system – some Yamaha receivers did this and it was moronic. Really, you can’t add the room into the music, you have to add the room into the room. In other words, you have to create the room environment in the room and independently of the stereo system.

    How would one do that? With another loudspeaker system surrounding the listener and a microphone or two placed appropriately in the room. Imagine 4 loudspeakers, one in the middle of each of the rooms 4 walls – and a microphone setup either near the loudspeakers or near the listener. Through tricky electronics and known DSP techniques, this setup could manage the reflections from the walls and provide a convincing room to anyone in it – and of course the room dimensions could be adjusted electronically as well.

    Easy to do? Practical? No, but it is another view of how to overcome this age old problem.

    Like they say, if you can’t bring a horse to the water, bring the water to the horse.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-01 10:52   
    IMO this comment gives a good reason why many find the home experience better than a live. Also being from Chicago and having heard the Chicago Symphony on many occasions it really caught my attention and brought back memories._mykl





    To my post yesterday one of my readers posted a comment that was so well written and so to the point I just had to share with the rest of you.

    “If I were wealthy enough, I would hire the Chicago Symphony to be my personal musicians, and, if I could, I would bring back George Solti and Carlo Maria Giulini to conduct, and while I was at it, I would take Adolf Herseth back 20 years (I have some recordings that kind of do that!). But then to make it real I should also hire some lady with a sinus problem to sit behind me, an old guy to snore next to me, and a young couple to sit in front so that the young gentleman can try to impress the young beauty by telling her what is coming up next at every transition.

    A real plus for recorded music is that we get to pick the time and material. Sometimes I am at a concert of Mahler’s 2nd, 3rd, or 8th, and I don’t have the attention span or concentration to get into the music, no matter how well performed. On the other hand, sometimes at 10:27 am on a Saturday Mahler would be well received by my nervous system, but if not, maybe some Coltrane, Dire Straits or Willie Nelson would be. If so I am only a few clicks or a vinyl prep ritual away from a “close to the real thing” event that I can control.

    I won’t have the lady with the sinus problem behind me, however.”

    ‘Nuf said

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-09 07:13   
    Maybe he'll have something to say that can help someone improve the SQ of his system.










    Weekend chores

    In my 40 plus years of playing with high-end stereo systems the single biggest mistake I see people making is improper setup.

    I am continually amazed at the money, time and care spent on acquiring high-end equipment – the agonizing over which piece of kit, which cable, which vibration control to purchase to get the system right when the most basic of tasks has been either ignored or not done properly.

    I can remember numerous shows by manufacturers as well as homes of customers I’ve walked into where the stereo image was completely wrong, the tonal balance off, the loudspeakers blaring something other than music – a few adjustments later and music was being made again.

    The art of setting up a system is not well known, isn’t taught anywhere and I always think of it like the challenge of parenting a child: first time parents go through the birth of their child, get it stamped, stuck with needles, blessed and packaged up by the hospital and then are sent home without the parents having a clue what to do next. If you’ve been there you know what I mean – there’s simply no instruction manual to go with this wailing little thing – you are on your own to figure it out.

    I guess we all sort of work out but let’s face it – parental skills are all over the map as are the results when the kids grow up. In the same way, everyone gets their new system home and then do their best to set it up – and the results are all over the map.

    Let’s try and fix some of that in the next few day’s posts.






    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-10 15:49   
    Here's the next installment. When I rearranged my room a couple of years ago, out of necessity I had to start from scratch. Which I think was a good thing considering the results. Of course I had the experience of past setups to help as a guide but I still think starting from new helped alot.



    Let’s start with some observations

    I am going to start a series on how to setup your system and how to tweak and maximize it as best you can for any given room and setup. I think it’s important we lay a few ground rules down first so our expectations will be in line with our results.

    First, let me state the obvious: there are any number of opinions on the subject of stereo setup and what’s being presented here is simply another view – one that has been built up over many years of setting systems up. Secondly, I am not the best setup man in the world – others are much better than I. For example, Dave Wilson and Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio are two of the very best setup men on the planet – I can get close but I do not possess their skills and experience. Harry Pearson and Arnie Nudell are the best I know of from that generation – and I am sure there are many more. I’ll do my best to share with you what I know.

    I am going to assume that your room is whatever it is and that’s what we have to work with. I am also going to start at the beginning – meaning we’re going to wipe away everything you’ve done and start over – if you would rather keep what you have and simply pickup a few suggestions and setup tricks – then read along and ignore the first parts of this series. I always seem to have better results when I just wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

    What you’ll need. If you’re serious about setting up your system and following along you’ll need, at a minimum, a setup disc that properly identifies left and right channels, makes sure mono is correct and phase is correct. I use the Stereophile test disc which you can find any number of places. Here’s a link to the version I use from Music Direct. I always start with the disc because you can waste a lot of time if the channels are swapped or they are out of phase – as lame as that sounds I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gotten it wrong and I have spent time figuring out why.

    Tomorrow we get started and give some overall views on the room.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-10 16:10   
    I've never used the Stereophile test disc 3 that McGowan recommends but that's a great price at Music Direct so I doubt one could go wrong with it. I do have some test discs that I use and found them a great assistance in both basic setup and fine tuning. I attribute much of the SQ I have now to their use. Here they are,


    http://www.amazon.com/Sheffield-Drum-Track-Disc-Master/dp/B003JG93DC/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1344633353&sr=1-1&keywords=sheffield+lab+drum+%26+track+disc

    http://www.amazon.com/My-Disc-Sheffield-A2TB-Test/dp/B0000009FB/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1344633394&sr=1-1&keywords=my+disc

    http://www.amazon.com/XLO-Reference-Test-Burn-Recordings/dp/B0000015AL/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1344633435&sr=1-1&keywords=xlo+reference+recordings+test+%26+burn-in+cd  
    I'm particularly fond of 1 (terrific drum solos for testing and just listening) and 3 (very versatile, excellent SQ. It's a gold HDCD and it has some burn-in tracks too) but I recommend 2 as well. It will really challenge your system's dynamics.

    At first I used various tracks from CDs that I owned and even made a couple of CDRs just for the purpose of setup and sound testing. I then tried an actual setup disc ( the Sheffield Drum. Really awesome SQ on DXD) and found that I was able to further refine the sound. Drums have never sounded better on a system of mine BTW. It helped in other areas of sound reproduction as well. But it also showed what a good job I had done without it. To which I gave myself a little pat on the back. So I got the other test discs and found them to be of even further help. I now use the all of my test discs, the ones I made and the ones I bought whenever I make any adjustments to my system and just to do tests to make sure everything's all good. The results have been outstanding. My plan is that when my new speakers are fully broken in I will essentially start from scratch. This time I will use the pre-made test discs for my initial setup and testing, then use my own CDRs for any finishing touches I made need. For getting the best SQ out of your system I definitely recommend a good dedicated test disc._mykl

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2012-08-10 16:30 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-11 11:59   
    Here's the next installment. Long winded IMO for the point that he's making but...




    Starting from scratch

    In our quest for getting our systems dialed in I am aware that many of you will not be starting from scratch with an empty room as I will be describing. That’s fine, just follow along so you get the logic behind it.

    One of my readers pointed out the potential danger in clearing the room first is that for many of us married types the mere act of removing the audio system, even for a moment, might give our better halves wrong headed ideas about reclaiming lost territory. So be careful!

    In the interest of our mission to become more familiar with the setup process, let’s imagine we have our own dedicated room to play with and start our task. I am going to use the PS listening room as our example because this is the room that I have, on a number of occasions, cleared out and setup to great advantage.

    In my listening room now sits a large pair of Magneplanar loudspeakers. Before that were the amazing Avalons, preceded by a set of Arnie Nudell prototypes and before that a pair of large Revels. In each setup case I left the loudspeakers in place out of practical concerns: they are heavy, I do setups alone and I value my lower back too much to move them. What I did do is removed the spikes and faced them straight on to the listening position without benefit of toe in.

    To the rest of the room I removed everything else other than the electronics and most importantly I removed all the room treatment I use. With respect to the electronics I also disconnected all the cables except the power cords (which are plugged into a Power Plant anyway). So now mentally visualize what we have: a bare carpeted room with a pair of Maggies and the equipment to power and play them in an equipment rack. In my case I have the power amps behind the Maggies and the equipment rack near where I sit – how you choose to set this part up in your home isn’t really important to our discussion on setup – so do what’s convenient.

    With our bare room ready it’s time to layout the fundamentals of our setup, starting with the loudspeakers. For roughing in the loudspeaker placement we’re going to use the rule of thirds which is a guideline for listener and loudspeaker setup popularized by Harry Pearson and a process I wrote about nearly one year ago today.

    Tomorrow we get into the details of this process and learn a few things about live-end, dead-end rooms and what’s important.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-12 09:51   
    Again I feel it's a bit long winded but then maybe I'm just impatient for him to get on with it.




    The double edged sword

    Yesterday we went ahead and cleared everything out of our listening room save for the equipment and the loudspeakers. Today we’re going to begin figuring out where to place the loudspeakers.

    Let me begin by pointing out that many of you reading along do not have a dedicated listening room and more than likely are utilizing some part of the shared living space in your home for your system. In the interest of harmony in the home you probably didn’t clean out the living room and are just waiting to read what to do next: I fully understand. No worries because when I setup a system in someone’s home I leave the furniture in place (if at all possible) and try and manage the setup within the bounds of practical constraints.

    Before we place our loudspeakers in the room there’s something we need to get clear in our minds: the role the room plays in our setup. Our rooms are what we might think of as a double edged sword: both beneficial and dreadful when it comes to reproducing music in our homes. Loudspeakers need rooms to work properly, yet the room is the single biggest problem loudspeakers have to contend with. It’s worth a few minutes of our time to really grasp what the problems we face are and what the solutions might be.

    Imagine taking your loudspeakers outdoors and setting the on the lawn in the backyard and then playing music through them. How do you think they are going to sound? I can tell you it’s an underwhelming experience unless you sit right in front of them. Move off axis even a little bit and they seem lost in the vastness of the backyard. Now imagine the opposite scenario: we place those same loudspeakers in a tiny room or a large closet. Instead of lost sounding they now are cluttered and lack any imaging capability.

    The point of this mental exercise is to help you get around the idea that the room is both good and bad for a stereo system. We cannot effectively setup a stereo without a room and we can do mortal damage to the sound by setting them in the room incorrectly. The trick to a room is understanding its good and bad points and working with the room, not against it. That little gem of a sentence probably bears repeating. You need to learn to work with the room, not against the room.

    Rooms and loudspeakers are a compromise, for sure, but I like to think of the two more as a partnership than a battle ground. Too often I have seen wholesale slaughter of the room by employing absorbers, diffusers, pillows, thick carpets, vibration controls, non-parallel walls and on and on. Many of these elements are good and needed, but far more likely is the tendency to “sterilize” or “neutralize” the room first, then build your system second. I am not a fan of that approach and as we move along will encourage you to get to know your room and learn to work within its needs.

    Tomorrow let’s get to know our room a little better and we’ll actually begin placing our loudspeakers.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-13 06:12   
    I've actually never quite taken this exact approach. I may have to give it a try._mykl


    Our new best friend

    Yesterday we learned that our rooms are a necessary element in the stereo system. It’s good to think of your room as but another component in the chain of your music system and with that thought in mind, we can get comfortable with the idea of working with our rooms rather than working against our rooms.

    Our rooms are not the enemies they are made out to be. In fact, let’s consider our room as our new best friend and get to know her. I am using the female gender to describe our new friend because our room is the wellspring from which the life and vitality of our music system is going to blossom and thrive.

    Understanding that the primary contribution of our room is her ability to reflect sound back to our listening chair helps us appreciate the need to maximize good reflections and minimize bad reflections. We need both and getting these reflections right is the key to a great sounding music system.

    Room reflections happen from any surface in the room but the primary source is the sidewalls. This is because our floors are typically carpeted, our ceilings and rear walls far away, and our sidewalls closest to our loudspeakers and their reflections pointing right at our ears.

    So let’s start roughing in our loudspeaker position with all this in mind. Using our Rule of thirds we will place the loudspeaker pair approximately 1/3 the length of the room away from the rear wall. In an 18 foot long room that means we’d place the pair 6 feet from the wall behind the loudspeakers and 12 feet from the wall behind the listening position. The listening position is, of course, 1/3 the total length of the room from the wall behind the listener. Note: if this is too far out into the room for your tastes or your family’s needs, use the sidewall boundary method below to determine the minimum distance you can place the pair from the rear wall. Just stand against the wall behind each loudspeaker and repeat the same process described below.

    Place the two loudspeakers fairly close together – perhaps even just a couple of feet apart from each other, giving more than ample space between the outer edge of each loudspeaker and the side wall.

    Now, here comes the cool part – the part where we get to know our new friend the room. Walk over to the sidewall adjacent to one of the speakers and face the wall behind the listener. If you’ve started with the right loudspeaker, this would mean your left shoulder is touching the sidewall and your right shoulder is pointing towards the right loudspeaker. Now, start to talk and listen to the quality of your voice – it’s more than likely affected by the sidewall. What you’ll hear are two things: a reinforcement of the lower octaves of your voice because the sidewall is acting like an acoustic “amplifier”, and a reverberation or slight echo. If you keep talking and sidestep away from the sidewall and towards the right loudspeaker, this “boominess” and reverb in your voice will decrease until it sounds like your normal voice, unaffected by the sidewall. Mark that spot with a bit of tape and then repeat the process on the other side. Typical distances can range from a couple of feet to three to four.

    Next, measure the distance you’ve determined is the point your voice is least affected – average the two distances – and place a new piece of tape exactly the same distance for each side. For example, let’s imagine on the right side you found that 3 feet was perfect and on the left side you found that 4 feet was right – measure out 3.5 feet from each of the sidewalls and place your tape mark there.

    Now, move your loudspeakers so the outer edge of each loudspeaker touches the tape mark at 3.5 feet. This is a great starting space and here’s the deal: don’t ever go over this mark if you can avoid it. When we learn how to adjust the distance between the two loudspeakers it’s fine to increase this distance from the sidewall, but we’ll try like heck to never violate this space.

    Make sure that your loudspeaker pair are now perpendicular to the wall behind your listening area with no toe in at all.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-14 11:03   
    Here's the next step.



    Measure and connect

    In our quest for the best stereo setup within our room we’ve managed to find where the effects of the sidewalls are minimized and placed our loudspeaker pair just outside this boundary. This is the starting point we’ll begin the process of dialing in the sound.

    I’d like to point out something that may be controversial about this method. It is not formulaic in its approach and ignores several other revered setup techniques that use a precise “recipe” worked out over many years of experience. This may make some of you uncomfortable so I want to just touch lightly on the subject and then move on with our own technique. The problem I have with adhering to a strict formula for room setup is it ignores the quirks and uniqueness of the room itself.

    If you’ve ever spent any time cooking (I admit to being a foodie) you’ll know that rarely is there a recipe that doesn’t include a simple instruction that can make or break the end result: “salt to taste”. This often is overlooked or under appreciated by wanna be chefs. The salt content in most recipes makes or breaks the dish going from bland, to perfect, to salty. Perfection in a recipe can only be achieved by tasting and working with the environment. So it is with stereo setup in a room which must be done by ear. You have to “taste” the sound to get it right.

    Our next task will be to get our tape measure out and make sure we are perfectly symmetrical in our distances from the rear of the loudspeaker to the rear wall, perfectly parallel to the wall behind the listener and side-to-side with our sidewall measurement. This too is a bit controversial because there’s another camp of folks who want the room/speaker placement to be asymmetrical – but this approach drives me crazy and never works with the rest of my approach. In fact, this is a critical step in our setup procedure because millimeters matter to achieving our goal. Let’s keep it measured and symmetrical from here on out.

    Take some of that blue painter’s masking tape and mark a two-sided area defining the outer front edge of each loudspeaker. Next, connect your stereo system up so you can play something. This is a great moment to make sure everything is properly connected, polarity of the speakers to the amp is correct, left and right is perfect, etc. Take your time and get it right. We don’t care about cable lifts, spikes and cones right now – in fact, make a point of getting rid of any of these crutches for this phase of our setup.

    Remember the setup CD I asked you to get? Now is the time to grab it and play the first three tracks. These identify the channels and the phase (or polarity) of the system. As careful as I am with setup I am sometimes surprised that something’s wrong here despite my best efforts to get it right. If there is something wrong track it down to the source to fix it.

    If, for example, the left and right are incorrect don’t just swap the speaker cables, find out where the error is. Get everything correct and then we’re ready to begin dialing it in.



    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-20 03:27   
    More on bass.




    More bass



    Paul's Posts — 20 August 2012


    By



    More bass



    I rather think I shortchanged everyone yesterday in my post about bass. I guess my bias towards adding subwoofers outweighed anything else and I realize not everyone agrees with me or can add a subwoofer. This is a long and hotly debated subject.


    First there are those of you that believe your loudspeakers reach the depths of human hearing by themselves – in fact your owner’s manual and the marketing hype of the speakers told you so. It may be true but in my experience rarely so. Here’s a couple of things to contemplate: woofer size and position.


    If your full range loudspeakers has a single woofer per side that is 10 inches in diameter or smaller, you’re not going to have a chance getting 20Hz bass in the room. Why? Because what a woofer/piston needs to do is couple the motion of the woofer to the air so that any change in motion of the woofer results in a 1:1 change in air pressure in the room at any frequency we’re interested in. What happens is that because air is not resistive, a 20Hz motion at the woofer will not move the air in the room as loudly as (say) a 60Hz motion will. This forces the loudspeaker designer to do one of two things: EQ the woofer so it is no longer flat and is significantly boosted at 20Hz, or measure the woofer’s response with a very closely placed microphone that ignores the coupling issue. Most loudspeaker manufacturers choose the latter. The first option is almost impossible to pull off effectively unless you separately amplify the woofer with another amp or accept a huge loss in overall loudspeaker efficiency.


    The next problem one faces, even if the loudspeaker pair in play has a large woofer that can couple the air in the room at low frequencies, is placement. If you place the loudspeaker pair for best imaging chances are that is not the best place for bass. Bass is tricky and is one of the hardest problems in the room to solve. You set the loudspeaker pair in the best place for bass and quickly find that the imaging sucks or vice versa. Unless your loudspeaker pair has a built in subwoofer and the ability to turn the bass level up to match the room characteristics then you’re pretty much in trouble. This is why I recommend subwoofers in almost every case.


    Ok, having said all that and realizing many of you will not go out and buy or use a subwoofer, what else can you do? My best advice is to get at least the upper low bass correct by speaker placement and, if need be, give up the quest for subterranean results. In other words, let’s focus on getting the sound of a good stand up bass or an electric bass to sound perfect and ignore the rare occasions where you want to have a pipe organ right in your room rattling the basement and family into submission. It’s indeed rare to have both without a good servo sub.


    To get the best performance of a stand up bass you need the pluck of the bass coupled with the satisfying low bottom end to occur at exactly the same moment and sound as if they are coming from but one instrument. This isn’t that hard to achieve and you can get there with speaker placement.


    Remembering to mark the position of your loudspeakers now – including the amount of toe in which can be as easy as writing the number of inches from the rear wall onto the tape on the floor for both sides of the speaker cabinet – first focus on the low part of the bass. Once the low end is right you can dial in the pluck which is a transient event and controlled by the upper frequencies.


    The tricks for getting increased low end are moving the pair closer together and/or moving them closer to the rear wall. That usually gets what you want – but not always! As I mentioned, proper low end is tricky and you may have to move your listening position as well as the pair forward or backwards to to get it right. Remember that getting it “right” for low bass will only apply to your listening position in most rooms – because bass will be louder in some parts of the room, relative to the position of the pair and the listener, while not so loud in other parts of the room. The trick is to get the bass right in the part of the room you’re sitting in and ignore everything else.


    Take notes, don’t bother moving the reference tape at all – leave it right where you placed it. Once you have the low end dialed in where you want it, go back to step one and test and readjust minutely for the single voice, then move up to the Tutti track and get it as best you can within the new area then check the low bass track until you have what you want – understanding that along the way we’re compromising each setup a little to get the best overall performance for all three – center image/proper placement behind the loudspeakers, outside spread of the orchestra/speaker disappearing, and now low bass/proper pluck. Pluck happens with toe in or reducing the distance between the two loudspeakers because it is a higher frequency event.


    If after all these exercises you have everything working the way we’ve described, yet getting there has caused a bit of a brightness to the sound – which increased focus can sometimes do – here’s a neat trick you can use as long as it’s sparing. Tilt back the loudspeaker pair just a little. Start with a CD case placed under each loudspeaker – increasing to a couple if necessary. This will get the tweeter off axis and make it not quite so hot as well as increase the depth of the soundstage.


    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-16 04:03   
    The next in the series is the one I've found the most informative and certainly the most interesting. It seems to me McGowan is a fan of the presence of "old school speakers" as opposed to what I feel is the "modern" presence of many of today's speakers.






    Getting depth


    Yesterday’s post got us connected and playing our system for the first time. Through the use of Stereophile’s test disc we’ve determined that the channels are correct, the phasing is right and the balance between the two speakers the same.



    Then we played our first music: a simple naturally recorded voice that will help us get 80% of the setup right and achieved proper level so we can make sure the size of the voice is correct for the room and the loudspeakers.



    Next we need to get the voice in the right place from front to back. In an earlier post Where the music’s supposed to be, which I encourage you to read, we learned that our soundstage should be behind the loudspeakers, not on the same plane and certainly not in front. I know this is going to rub some of you the wrong way as you’ve been enjoying your soundstage in front of your loudspeakers for years. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that’s wrong and you’re going to have to get over this idea to move forward. I fully realize it is counter intuitive because intellectually we all understand the sound is projecting forward and into the room – so what’s up with insisting it appears from behind the loudspeakers? Please, read the link and absorb what it is telling you.



    So now that we’re listening for depth, where is the singer? If you’re using the same track from Jane Monheit I am using she should be a little forward of halfway between the front of the loudspeaker and the rear wall. Now here’s where my mention of staying away from formulaic approaches is going to bite either me or you – because only some of you will have the proper space of 1/3 the total length of the room behind the loudspeaker to play with. I am going to guess only a very few of you will enjoy this much real estate in your homes. The rest of us won’t have that luxury (including me in my system at home) and will have perhaps only a few feet. Should you have less than the ideal space to play with, don’t use the imaginary reference of halfway between the speaker and the rear wall. Your task is to imagine where that place would be and achieve it anyway. Close your eyes if necessary and don’t let the physical reality of where your speakers are convince you there’s not enough room behind them for the soundstage. It’s all an illusion anyway.



    Making sure your blue tape marks are in place so you have a reference to return to, start playing around to see what happens in your room. I am going to give you some general guidelines and then you need to simply play and take note of what works to get this depth – and equally important what causes the depth to get worse – it’s all valuable. Keep at it until you have gotten as close as you can to what I asked you to get and then mark that position with a second set of blue tape – and keep the old tape as well. The changes you make should be in inches at this point – no giant changes, please as Millimeters matter.

    • Moving the pair closer together with the fronts remaining parallel to the wall behind you will increase the focus of the voice, decrease soundstage width in the middle and push the image farther towards the back. It will also increase the lower ranges of the voice because you’ll get better midbass coupling of your loudspeakers – more midbass (below 500Hz) gives the illusion of greater depth.
    • Moving the pair away from the rear wall increases depth and decreases focus of the voice but also can add to its roundness and space as an individual performer. Moving closer towards the rear wall can flatten out the voice and compress the space of the soundstage.
    • Toe in can do a lot and go either way when it comes to depth. This is because depth is partly a function of tonal balance (which is part of what we’re working with here). If we have a loss of energy in the 500Hz to 1.5kHz region we’ll have greater depth and when you toe in a pair of speakers not only do the tweeters get “hotter” and more direct at your listening position but this can also have the affect of changing the overall tonal balance to that of less lower energy by virtue of more higher frequency energy. It isn’t the amount of total energy but the balance between the frequencies that counts.




    You will have to experiment and take notes! Work with it until you maximize the singer’s depth as best you can making sure she is always firmly behind the loudspeaker pair. This is a big step and one that will be different in execution for each room and loudspeaker pair.</DIV>

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2012-08-16 05:13 ]

    [ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2012-08-16 05:15 ]

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-16 04:55   
    When I was first getting into home audio back in the '60s and really got into it in the '70s speakers tended to have a different presentation than they tend to do today. I began to notice a shift in the '80s. Most (not all but it seemed to me most) speakers back in the day had a more laid-back presentation than they do today. I'm not talking about the sonics of systems due to the "loudness wars" over compression we're seeing so much of in modern recordings. Though that may have an influence. Each going hand in hand. I'm talking the speakers themselves. This just my opinion but I suspect the reason for the more forward presentation of "modern" speakers is to make detail more noticeable in an attempt to give the impression of superior quality and ability. Old school was about a deep enveloping sound. Smooth and non-fatiguing. Almost giving one a kind of "warm, fuzzy feeling". Now it's about being able to hear the most minute details in the recording. The result is sibilance abounds, highs tend to sizzle and vocals are in your face. Of course close-miking will contribute to that too but again I'm talking about just the sound of the speakers. I've read many reviewers talk about the "life-like" details of the bass of certain speakers. To me these speakers are dry in the bass. Having listened to a fair share of live music in my life, amplified and acoustic, and except for acoustic played outdoors, I've not heard bass that sounds like that. It lacks a natural warmth that live seems to have. Maybe a $200K pair of speakers is able to balance the act, I don't know as I've never heard any in that price range myself, but not most of the modern speakers I've heard. Which is from $30K down. I'm not talking overly boomy but there seems to be a certain amount of it that's missing. Reviewers rave about speakers that that convey such detail that they can hear a page being turned by a musician in a symphony and other such things. Details they "never heard before" in a particular recording. I find this ironic as the "goal" of modern is to be more life-like. On a rare occasion perhaps a musician might make an undue amount of noise while turning a page but in my experience it would be a very rare thing. I don't ever recall hearing it "live" myself. If it happened I certainly didn't notice it. I guess I was too busy listening to the music. Musicians make a conscious effort not to make noise but just play music so the music is all the audience hears. To me all of these hyper details are not an accurate reproduction of the live event. Sure it might be in the recording but even that doesn't mean it should be shoved in your face. Not IMO anyway. To me too many of today's speakers present music in an unnatural way. That's one of the main reasons I selected my new speakers. They have more of an "old school" sound. It could be that the reason I like their sound is that it takes me back to the day. But I think it's because it sounds more realistic, more natural to me and more enjoyable. Especially for long listening sessions._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-20 00:00   
    I found two things in the above installment interesting. First was the sub Xover settings. I've always wanted to be able to Xover my subs that low. I didn't want the subs playing all the bass. I wanted the speakers to play it and for the subs to play whatever the speakers didn't go low enough for. If I wanted all of the bass played by subs I didn't need towers. I could use monitors and subs. Unfortunately the bass weight of my K90s weren't quite sufficient for my tastes so I had to cross them over higher than I liked.Which didn't produce results that I was satisfied with.

    The second thing was his point of subs being easier to integrate properly in a room for really low bass than a tower. I found this to be true myself. Where a tower sounds best overall often didn't produce the best lowest bass response and results. Which is why I still intend to use stereo subs with my system for music._mykl

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-17 03:04   
    Here's the next step in his setup tutorial.



    Becoming a magician



    Paul's Posts — 17 August 2012


    By



    Becoming a magician



    You’ve probably noticed that in this setup guide we’re focusing primarily on imaging and have been ignoring other aspects such as tonal balance. That’s ok and there’s a good reason for it. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post about achieving depth of image, tonal balance and imaging are very much related. I have found over the years that if I can get a system to image properly then tweaking a bit more to bring the tonal balance into proper form is relatively easy. It’s nearly impossible to get one right without getting the other and it’s far easier in a post series like this to describe imaging than it is tonal balance of instruments.


    I would also want to point out that once we go through these exercises we’re next going to add back room treatment equipment (if you can) and this is going to really have a dramatic impact on everything we’ve done so far. Soundstage, tonal balance, pinpoint focus – all are going to be enhanced when we start to help the room be its best. But in the meantime it’s important we get this dialed in as best we can without any crutches in the room. So if you aren’t getting performance that lives up to your expectations yet, no worries! There’s much more to come.


    We’ve been focusing our efforts on getting a single voice to image properly. We want that voice to be the right size and placed properly behind the loudspeakers and in the center of our imaginary soundstage we’re building behind the two loudspeakers. If you’re using the same disc I am, Best Audiophile Voices then following along should be easier. We are using the Jane Monheit piece Somewhere over the rainbow.


    Our next task is to see if we can get the instruments themselves disconnected from the loudspeaker pair. It’s pretty easy to get a center-image-single-voice disconnected from the speakers but instruments are more difficult, especially those that can be a bit harsh or blare and blat like trumpets. If you’re not already sick of Jane’s music, play on a bit and you’ll notice the piano that comes in after her solo bit. It should be disconnected from the loudspeakers and floating in our imaginary soundstage behind the pair.


    On most systems the piano floats in space nicely without a lot of setup if I can get her voice in the proper place as I have described in the prior posts. Here’s the tricky part: you’re going to move off axis from your center listening position to see if the piano and Jane remain disconnected from the speakers as you move to the side a bit. You should easily have a 3-person sweet spot where the piano and the singer are still disconnected – certainly it’s proper that the angle you perceive them on the stage changes as if you’re moving from a center seat to a left or right side of the stage were this a live performance – but we’re paying close attention to the disconnected nature of the music. If you move slightly off axis and the image remains disconnected, you’re doing great! If not, if the image of the piano snaps to the speaker itself when you move to the left or right, we need to do some work.


    To get the image disconnected from the loudspeakers it may be necessary to pull the speakers apart a couple of inches. Gives this a try first. Take notes. If this doesn’t work, put them back and next try moving the pair away from the wall a couple of inches – no joy? Return and do the opposite. By playing around with these elements you’ll notice the image gets disconnected even off axis. Once you get this, then go back to the beginning of the track and tweak Jane’s voice back in with toe-in or toe-out of the pair. So, for example, if you move the pair apart a couple of inches to disconnect the piano – but then lose a bit of focus on Jane’s voice when you’re sitting in the middle – add a slight amount more toe-in to fix it. Then check back for the piano.


    By going back and fourth like this you’re dialing in the image and setting proper tonal balance all in one shot.


    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-18 00:45   
     In a reply to the above email by McGowan the poster linked to this Stereophile article by John Atkinson. I found it very interesting.


     http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/1286awsi/index.html.





    Stereo & the Soundstage




    The accuracy of a hi-fi system's "soundstage" reproduction seems to be of paramount importance these days, just as a component must now have "transparency" to possess hi-fi righteousness. If the system in which that component is used doesn't give good soundstage, then the system's owner has definitely fallen by the wayside. But what defines a good soundstage? Stereo imaging must have something to do with it, I hear you all cry. (I would have said stereo imagery until Larry Archibald pointed out that imagery has far less to do with hi-fi than with good writing, something I'm sure we agree has no place in a hi-fi magazine.) OK, what defines good stereo imaging?


    Silence.


    A hand goes up at the back. Surely good stereo imaging is tied to a system's ability to present precisely positioned images in the lateral plane between the loudspeakers?


    Well...yes and no. As AJ van den Hul points out in his interview in this issue, many hi-fi systems have good stereo (left-right) imaging, but the image is flat, like wallpaper. This, typically, is true for inexpensive CD players, which produce well-defined lateral stereo images but signally fail to provide the requisite degree of depth.


    Smiles break out. Obviously, good soundstaging is dependent on the ability of a system to reproduce recorded reverberation tails, the ambience.


    Well...yes and no. Mono 78s can accurately reproduce reverberation, yet no-one could accuse a mono system of having any soundstaging ability. It must be something to do, therefore, with the fact that without ever questioning the fact, all of us have systems that use two signal channels, driving two loudspeakers to produce two sets of soundwaves that coincide at our two ears.


    It's obviously time to dig up a few basics. Reviewed in this issue is an AES Anthology of historic papers on "stereo." It includes a document (celebrating its 55th anniversary this month) that pretty much defined the whole field of stereo reproduction, including the 45°/45° stereo groove and the moving-magnet stereo cartridge. That document, a 1931 British Patent Application written by the English engineer Alan Dower Blumlein, is worth quoting at length:

    "The fundamental object of the invention is to provide a sound recording, reproducing and/or transmission system whereby there is conveyed to the listener a realistic impression that the intelligence is being communicated to him over two acoustic paths in the same manner as he experiences in listening to everyday acoustic intercourse and this object embraces also the idea of conveying to the listener a true directional impression...An observer in the room is listening with two ears, so that echoes reach him with the directional significance which he associates with the music performed in such a room...When the music is reproduced through a single channel the echoes arrive from the same direction as the direct sound so that confusion results. It is a subsidiary object of this invention so to give directional significance to the sounds that when reproduced the echoes are perceived as such." (footnote 1)


    In other words, if you can record not only a sound but the direction in space it comes from, and can do so for every sound wave making up the soundstage, including all the reflected sound waves (the reverberation or "echoes"), then you will be able to reproduce a facsimile of the original soundstage, accurate in every detail. In addition, because the spatial relationship between the direct and the reflected sounds will be preserved, that reproduced soundstage will give a realistic illusion of depth.


    The Blumlein Patent Application mentions that the simplest way of carrying out the preservation of the soundstage is to use two microphones—spaced as far apart as the average pair of ears—when recording and playback over headphones: the "binaural" technique. This, however, makes headphone listening mandatory; history proves that headphones are about as popular as a headcold for relaxed, social listening. Blumlein was concerned with a system for playback over loudspeakers, and proposed a method of recording directional information as a ratio of amplitude differences between the two signal channels.

    "The fundamental object of the invention is to provide a sound recording, reproducing and/or transmission system whereby there is conveyed to the listener a realistic impression that the intelligence is being communicated to him over two acoustic paths in the same manner as he experiences in listening to everyday acoustic intercourse and this object embraces also the idea of conveying to the listener a true directional impression...An observer in the room is listening with two ears, so that echoes reach him with the directional significance which he associates with the music performed in such a room...When the music is reproduced through a single channel the echoes arrive from the same direction as the direct sound so that confusion results. It is a subsidiary object of this invention so to give directional significance to the sounds that when reproduced the echoes are perceived as such." (footnote 1)


    In other words, if you can record not only a sound but the direction in space it comes from, and can do so for every sound wave making up the soundstage, including all the reflected sound waves (the reverberation or "echoes"), then you will be able to reproduce a facsimile of the original soundstage, accurate in every detail. In addition, because the spatial relationship between the direct and the reflected sounds will be preserved, that reproduced soundstage will give a realistic illusion of depth.


    The Blumlein Patent Application mentions that the simplest way of carrying out the preservation of the soundstage is to use two microphones—spaced as far apart as the average pair of ears—when recording and playback over headphones: the "binaural" technique. This, however, makes headphone listening mandatory; history proves that headphones are about as popular as a headcold for relaxed, social listening. Blumlein was concerned with a system for playback over loudspeakers, and proposed a method of recording directional information as a ratio of amplitude differences between the two signal channels.

    Thus by recording amplitude information only in a two-channel system, we can create a virtual soundstage between and behind the loudspeakers.


    Hands go up everywhere: but...but...but surely both ears receive the signal from both loudspeakers. Shouldn't this acoustic crosstalk work against the creation of a stereo image?


    The facile answer is that, as the vast majority of people can perceive stereo images, it doesn't. The real answer is that, contrary to what you might have read in Polk's advertising, the brain is able to work out which signal is intended for which ear. If a wavefront reaches the left ear from the left speaker, the brain knows that that wavefront will reach the right ear around 0.7ms later, the time taken for the wave to travel around the head, and therefore can ignore it.


    So there we have it: a perfect stereo image implies a perfect soundstage. All is rosy in the audiophile garden.


    Hmm. A suspicious word, perfect. Where's the catch?


    Well, we have only been discussing the interaction between the two loudspeakers and the listener. What about the amplitude-information only, two-channel recording? Where does that come from?


    When it comes to recording music, there are two mutually incompatible philosophies. One is to capture as faithfully as possible the acoustic sound produced by a bunch of musicians, in effect treating a performance as an event to be preserved in a documentary manner. The second, which is far more widespread, is to treat the recording itself as the event, the performance, using live sounds purely as ingredients to be mixed and cooked. This, of course, is how all nonclassical recordings are made. The sound of an instrument or singer is picked up with one microphone, and the resultant mono signal, either immediately or at a later mixdown session, is assigned a lateral position in the stereo image with a panpot. As this is a device which by definition produces a ratio of amplitudes between the two channels, it would seem that every recording made this way is a true amplitude-stereo recording, capable of producing a well-defined stereo image.


    Do such recordings have a soundstage associated with that image, however?


    Sometimes.


    When producing such a recording, the producer decides how much and what type of reverberation should be associated with each of the mono sound sources, and also decides where in space that reverberation should be positioned. There is no reason at all why the ambience surrounding, say, a centrally placed lead vocalist, should have any relationship with that around the drums. Or the guitar. Or the synthesizer. And if it doesn't, then the listener doesn't hear a soundstage. Rather, he hears a collage of individual musical events, bearing no spatial relationship to one another.

    Early stereo rock recordings, such as the Airplane's After Bathing at Baxter's, illustrate this graphically: while such a recording can undoubtedly be satisfying musically, a soundstage it just doesn't have. Since the late '60s, producers nearly always take care to coordinate the artificial ambience on rock recordings to result in the production of a convincing soundstage. Recordings from Paul Simon, Andreas Vollenweider, and Clannad, for example, create a wholly artificial, but nevertheless effective, soundstage hanging between and behind the speakers, which bears no relation to anything that might have existed in real life.








    Footnote 1: Blumlein's bald paragraphs, written in inelegant, poorly punctuated, legalese, are concerned with preserving lateral directional information. John Shuttleworth, responsible for the excellent recordings on the Meridian label, has pointed out that, as the reverberation also has a contribution from reflections of the direct sound from the floor and ceiling of the room, the aural clues enabling a listener to infer image height will also be preserved. But this is dangerous ground; I will leave discussion of it for a future issue.


    Footnote 2: The July 1986 issue of Studio Sound has a fascinating article by Michael Gerzon, of Ambisonics fame, outlining how boosting the bass of the difference signal in a true Blumlein amplitude stereo signal can beneficially increase stage width. This, again, is a direct corollary of the ideas suggested by Blumlein in 1931.



    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-18 00:49   
    Here's page 2.





    Stereo & the Soundstage Page 2



    With classical recording, we do have an original event. Composer, conductor, musicians, and even the designers of concert halls, work very hard to ensure that the listener to live classical music is presented with a real, musically balanced, image. All that is necessary, it might therefore be thought, is to record that image in such a manner that all spatial relationships are preserved as amplitude relationships between the two signal channels. Both a real stereo image and a true soundstage will be the undoubted outcome.


    Yes, you're right. It hardly ever happens!


    In general, classical recordings from major companies are produced as if they were rock recordings. Each instrument or group of instruments is allocated its own microphone, and the balance engineer panpots the mike outputs into an arc across the stereo stage, sometimes adjusting their levels to approximate the real-life balance, very often to "improve" on what the composer thought correct. Ambience microphones introduce pools of reverberation at strategic locations; sometimes even electronic reverberation is added to an otherwise completed picture to fill in the gaps and create an artificial soundstage. The result, given gifted producers and engineers, can bear a surprisingly close resemblance to a real soundstage. When you listen critically, however, the joins between the elements of the collage can become all too clear, particularly if the playback medium—how can I say it?—throws away some of the fine detail obscuring those joins. Again we have a true stereo image, but a soundstage? Not nearly often enough.


    But we're audiophiles, aren't we? We know all about the horrors of misjudged multimiking, don't we? We believe in "simple" microphone techniques, and in honesty in recording. We believe in stereo imaging and the existence of the soundstage.


    Simple miking. A simple concept, surely? Put up two or three microphones in front of the orchestra, in positions where the sound of the monitors sounds like that of the real thing, and everything should be hunky dory, right?

    Well...yes and no. Remember that a true stereo image is produced by a two-channel recording consisting of amplitude information only. What if the microphones are separated in space, not by a small distance, but by a distance larger than the wavelength of most of the musical sounds—10', say? Unless an instrument or voice is exactly halfway between the two microphones, there will be, in addition to the amplitude information, a time delay introduced between the electrical signal it produces in one channel and the signal it produces in the other. Such time information pulls the image of the source further toward the nearest speaker, resulting in an instability of central imaging and a tendency for sources to "clump" around the speakers. Add to that the fact that the inter-channel amplitude differences produced by spaced microphones do not have a linear relationship with angular direction of the sound sources, and it is hard to see how a pair of spaced microphones can produce any image at all.


    This can easily be shown with the Delos recording of the Ravel String Quartet, recorded by Stan Ricker with two omni mikes spaced about 12' apart. The recording is rich, alive, and has a great feeling of space. But there is so much time disparity between the two channels that it cannot be considered a stereo recording at all; rather, it is two different recordings of the same performance that happen to be played back pretty much simultaneously.


    "Different?" Yes, and it is easy to prove. Speakers for the playback of stereo recordings should be in phase, as a true stereo recording has a considerable degree of correlation between its two channels; ie, the same signal appears to differing extents in both. When the speakers are out of phase, this correlation results in cancellation and phasey effects, something with which I am sure you are all familiar. Connect your speakers out of phase with this Delos recording and you hear no difference between this sound and the sound with the speakers in phase! The recorded time information totally swamps the fact that the speakers are out of phase.

    If two spaced microphones do not have sufficient correlation between the two channels, why not add a third, central microphone, the output of which can be fed to both left and right channels? Won't this pull the image in from the sides and firm up the central image?


    Well...yes and no. This is the classic Mercury Living Presence technique, echoed in recent years with much success by Telarc's Jack Renner. There is now a greater sense of solidity to the sound, with stable center images, while the effortless sense of space and depth from the use of omni microphones is true to the needs of the music. But is there a true stereo image? No, as the original directions of sources are only approximately preserved. And neither, therefore, is there a true soundstage. Recordings made with widely spaced microphones are analogous to Impressionist paintings: wonderfully pleasing to the eye and capable of evoking a deep emotional response, but when you get right down to it, hardly realistic in literal terms.


    To make a recording capable of producing a true soundstage, we have to go back to Blumlein's 1931 paper, in which he outlined two microphone techniques producing outputs containing amplitude information in the correct linear relationship with the direction of the sound sources.


    First is the M-S technique, where a sideways-facing velocity (figure-eight) microphone is spatially coincident with a forward-facing mike. Rediscovered in the '50s, this presents the two outputs in matrix form, as sum and difference signals (footnote 2), and is the basic philosophy behind the Soundfield microphone.


    Second is to arrange two figure-eight microphones horizontally coincident at 90°, each positioned at 45° to the forward direction. This is the classic "coincident" technique as used for early EMI stereo recordings, by James Boyk for his Performance Recordings piano records, and by Sheffield for their recent Firebird.

    Of all the "simple" techniques used to capture live acoustic music, these two, in all their ramifications, are the only ones to produce real stereo imaging from loudspeakers. As a result, they are the only techniques for recording classical music to give good soundstage.


    I am certainly not saying that only recordings made in this manner are worth listening to. This discussion of stereo imaging has ignored such equally important aspects of miking as frequency response and balance; microphone coloration, distortion, and noise; capturing the true dynamics of the music; the quality of the concert-hall acoustic; getting the most musically desirable ratio between direct and reverberant sound; and even the time available to find the best places in which to position the mikes. When all these are taken into consideration, any good recording engineer will tell you that he often has to sacrifice the potential for true stereo imaging, in Blumlein's amplitude sense, to gain benefits elsewhere. And if the results are still musically justifiable, why not?


    There's no reason at all why not. In art, you can always make a good case for the ends justifying the means. But...those who write about recordings, and how well technical aspects of those recordings are preserved or changed by hi-fi equipment, have a duty to ensure that they do not mistake attributes of the hardware for those of the software. The next time you read a review in which the writer enthuses over the soundstaging performance of a piece of equipment, ask yourself whether he has been using recordings possessing the ability to throw a real soundstage, or whether, in fact, he has been led by his ears into an aural non sequitur.


    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-18 13:27   
    Here's McGowan's next setup step.


    Going bigger

    Continuing with our setup series you’ve now managed to get the loudspeakers to disappear on a simple vocal and trio piece as well you’ve hopefully managed to get decent center fill, focus and image perspective. It’s at this point in the setup that I switch the music and start working on broader issues always returning to the simple vocal we started with to keep it dialed in.

    It’s one thing to get a simple vocal and trio to image properly and sound reasonable – quite another to get a full orchestra or even a medium sized ensemble right. That’s what we’re going to try and do next. For this exercise I always go back to Reference Recordings. One of their most valuable CD’s they ever released is called Tutti. I also notice that Music Direct has the new SACD version of Tutti in stock as well so if you can play an SACD, get that one instead. I use a lot of these tracks but my favorite is number 14, Presque Isle: E.C.F.

    Now that you’ve managed to get a good feel for how the volume level effects image scale and size you’ll no doubt quickly get the correct level on this track as well. Note down what you had for the vocal track and then how much you have to turn up the level on the Reference track. Reference recordings are always at least 6dB lower than most CD’s because they have a wider dynamic range than most. If you have a DAC like the PWD where you can get a numeric readout of the volume, use that as your reference and make sure you always go back to the exact same level each time we add a track. If you have a standard volume knob without any markings at least place some tape near the knob and make hash marks to get you close.

    With this CD in play you should be able to get the soundstage behind and outside the boundaries of the loudspeakers and enjoy great space around each of the many instruments.

    If the soundstage on track 14 is trapped between the inner boundaries of your loudspeaker pair you may have too much toe in. I have seen many a setup, particularly Wilson Audio loudspeakers, that place the pair too far apart with too much toe in. Doing this gives you a great image within the bounds of the pair – but less than great off axis response, a rather narrow sweet spot and it feels like the image is trapped in a soundstage “bubble”. What you’re looking for is freedom from the confines of the loudspeaker pair.

    We should also be concerned with tonality of the instruments. It is in this phase that the instruments should be full bodied and not thin sounding. Remember if we need more fullness to the instruments we can achieve that by moving the loudspeaker pair closer together which gives us better midbass coupling and/or we can move the pair slightly closer to the rear wall which will also have the same impact on the midbass – but I prefer moving them closer together. Just be careful and make sure your changes at this point are small and that you measure and make sure the changes are equal and the pair remain equidistant.

    Use the setup guide notes I posted a few days ago to maneuver things around until this happens as best you can. Then go back to the original setup recording and make sure you haven’t lost anything there. This is the point where you’ll have to start compromising a bit to get the best of each extreme: clear center fill with a palpable image and a large, divorced soundstage for bigger pieces.

    Tomorrow we’ll carry on with the next step which will be bass and then we’re going to discuss room treatment and its effects.



    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-18 13:28   
    Here's McGowan's next setup step.


    Going bigger

    Continuing with our setup series you’ve now managed to get the loudspeakers to disappear on a simple vocal and trio piece as well you’ve hopefully managed to get decent center fill, focus and image perspective. It’s at this point in the setup that I switch the music and start working on broader issues always returning to the simple vocal we started with to keep it dialed in.

    It’s one thing to get a simple vocal and trio to image properly and sound reasonable – quite another to get a full orchestra or even a medium sized ensemble right. That’s what we’re going to try and do next. For this exercise I always go back to Reference Recordings. One of their most valuable CD’s they ever released is called Tutti. I also notice that Music Direct has the new SACD version of Tutti in stock as well so if you can play an SACD, get that one instead. I use a lot of these tracks but my favorite is number 14, Presque Isle: E.C.F.

    Now that you’ve managed to get a good feel for how the volume level effects image scale and size you’ll no doubt quickly get the correct level on this track as well. Note down what you had for the vocal track and then how much you have to turn up the level on the Reference track. Reference recordings are always at least 6dB lower than most CD’s because they have a wider dynamic range than most. If you have a DAC like the PWD where you can get a numeric readout of the volume, use that as your reference and make sure you always go back to the exact same level each time we add a track. If you have a standard volume knob without any markings at least place some tape near the knob and make hash marks to get you close.

    With this CD in play you should be able to get the soundstage behind and outside the boundaries of the loudspeakers and enjoy great space around each of the many instruments.

    If the soundstage on track 14 is trapped between the inner boundaries of your loudspeaker pair you may have too much toe in. I have seen many a setup, particularly Wilson Audio loudspeakers, that place the pair too far apart with too much toe in. Doing this gives you a great image within the bounds of the pair – but less than great off axis response, a rather narrow sweet spot and it feels like the image is trapped in a soundstage “bubble”. What you’re looking for is freedom from the confines of the loudspeaker pair.

    We should also be concerned with tonality of the instruments. It is in this phase that the instruments should be full bodied and not thin sounding. Remember if we need more fullness to the instruments we can achieve that by moving the loudspeaker pair closer together which gives us better midbass coupling and/or we can move the pair slightly closer to the rear wall which will also have the same impact on the midbass – but I prefer moving them closer together. Just be careful and make sure your changes at this point are small and that you measure and make sure the changes are equal and the pair remain equidistant.

    Use the setup guide notes I posted a few days ago to maneuver things around until this happens as best you can. Then go back to the original setup recording and make sure you haven’t lost anything there. This is the point where you’ll have to start compromising a bit to get the best of each extreme: clear center fill with a palpable image and a large, divorced soundstage for bigger pieces.

    Tomorrow we’ll carry on with the next step which will be bass and then we’re going to discuss room treatment and its effects.



    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-19 10:51   
    Here's his installment. It's really about him justifying his position for using subwoofers for music.


    Bass

    In past posts I have written much about bass and much of what I have written involves the use of subwoofers. As many of you know I believe you need subwoofers to make your system whole. I haven’t built a system I listen to without a sub in years.

    If you get everything we’ve been discussing setup correctly and then put on a track that should have good, deep low bass – and find that it doesn’t – then you really only have a couple of choices. You can try moving your listening position around for best bass with the possibility of losing your imaging in the process, you can ignore the low end of the music if it’s not that important to you or you can add a subwoofer. There aren’t a lot of other options.

    It is at this point where I bring my subs back into the system and integrate the pair for best performance with what I have. I have used many subs in the past but currently I have a pair of Martin Logan Descent servo subs that are great. There are a few really great subs around, like those from REL, the JL Audio Fathoms and mine if you can manage.

    The trick with adding a sub is two fold: use a left and right pair if you can and if not, make sure the one sub goes on the right side of the loudspeaker pair in case you’re going to be listening to classical music. Secondly, the sub frequency should probably never go above 30 or 40 Hz and on most music you should almost never hear the sub except if there’s a really low fundamental.

    A subwoofer is useful to fill in the lower octaves of bass most loudspeakers cannot produce and couple well into the room with. Even those loudspeaker pairs that can produce true low frequency bass (and there are only a rare few) are probably not being placed in the right area of the room for good bass – that’s the funny thing – the best place for everything but good bass is where we have the speakers. So it’s not worth sacrificing what we have achieved to better the bass response.

    IMHO it’s much better to either leave the low bass off of the radar or add a subwoofer or two to achieve it.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-21 10:19   
    This is something I tend to be a bit lazy about because of the WAF.



    Room treatment

    This will be the first of a few posts on room treatment, so big is this subject I will be writing about.

    When we first started this series of posts on the setup of your system I made the point that the room is a critical component in the chain we call the stereo system. Without it you haven’t anything useful and with it you have a bunch of headaches. It’s a double edged sword the likes of which can be very frustrating. But treating the room as a friend and working with its issues, in the same way you might treat an older piece of kit you value, is the right approach and we’ll be best served working with the room and not against it.

    Working against the room might have us using absorptive panels throughout to try and deaden the reflections giving the loudspeaker pair clear dominance over the audio in the room. That would be a bad idea because we want the reflections and we need them – we just need them where and when they make the best sound quality in any given room.

    One of the most basic of concepts for room treatment is something I shamefully left out of the first part of this series, so sure I was that everyone knew this little tidbit. Whenever possible we want to point the speaker pair into the long part of the room (if it’s a rectangle) rather and the short part. I shouldn’t make such assumptions so to those of you that followed the setup guide to a tee and now realize you have to redo do it going into the long end the room please accept my apologies. Others know this rule and yet haven’t any choice given the WAF or just plain practical limitations and to those folk I know you did your best to get the best under trying circumstances.

    Everything we’ve done so far has been in an effort to use the room to our advantage and place the loudspeaker pair where it interacts in the most favorable way with the area we have to work with. Now it’s time to perform a little magic to take advantage of everything we’ve managed to dial in so far.

    The first subject I’d like to approach is your seating position – it is now dependent more on the room than anything else – and also offer a gentle reminder that the seat itself is really important. I hope during this setup procedure you’re using a single seat so it’s easy to move around. If you’re using a couch or small love seat, it’ll work but it’s harder to move around.

    The process I use is simple to start with – as my reference tracks are playing I move myself back and forth, up and down ever so slightly to see where the best seating position is to maximize everything I’ve been doing. You may find that even a few inches makes all the difference in the world – this is proper and good. Should you find that getting your seating a little higher or lower is beneficial you can tilt the speakers back or down if you can’t adjust the seat height (we discussed part of the yesterday).

    So get your seating position right where you want it and then mark the position with the same blue painter’s tape as we did the loudspeaker pair.

    Tomorrow we’ll find the point of first reflection.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-22 07:30   
    Diffusing the first reflection point. I think he's doing a fairly thorough job with this tutorial and so far no touting any of his products either.



    I’m so diffused

    The first time I can remember anyone paying attention to room treatment was back in the mid 1970′s when the local manager of our Pacific Stereo store added a brick surface to the wall behind his loudspeakers, a pair of Bose 901 Direct Reflectors, in an effort to provide a “perfect” reflective surface for the Bose. The system screeched like a wounded owl and required either a lot of alcohol or a quick exit from the room to enjoy the results.

    The industry and knowledge base has come a long way in the many years after this first encounter: due mostly I would imagine to the high-end borrowing from the recording and pro folks who have used some form of room treatment for decades before anyone in the high-end figured it out.

    There are two main schools of thought when it comes to treating a room: absorbing or diffusing or a bit of both. Many devices created for this task have both a reflective and an absorptive surface that can be employed in the service of making the room a friendlier environment for our stereo systems.

    Absorbing the sound is a near impossible task because you pretty much can’t absorb all frequencies. Absorbing the higher frequencies is rather easy but as the frequency of the music gets lower and lower it becomes increasingly difficult to absorb and eliminate the sound. Furthermore, it seems to me to be the wrong idea if we’re considering the room as our friend we want to include it in the system instead of fighting it at every turn. I think diffusing the sound is by far the best way to go.

    Diffusing the sound scatters the sound in such a way as to allow your ear/brain mechanism to pay less attention to it than the directly received sound. This allows us to ignore (or reduce our awareness) of the scattered sound in favor of paying attention to the more direct sound – kind of like what we want to achieve with absorbing without having to use such brute force measures as are required with any absorber type of system.

    One of the first tasks we’re going to start with is to try and eliminate the point of first reflection from the sidewall. This is the classic area to start with assuming you’ve placed a throw rug or some type of absorbing material on the floor in front of the speakers (diffusing on the floor is nearly impossible from a practical standpoint) and the ceiling is pretty far away. If the ceiling is as close to the speaker as is the sidewall you may wish to explore the idea of repeating the process we’re going to next suggest – on the ceiling.

    For this exercise you’ll need the help of an accomplice holding a small mirror that isn’t overly concerned with looking a little goofy. First, remove the grilles on your loudspeakers. While you’re seated in your listening position, which was set in the procedure we detailed in yesterday’s post, have your cohort stand with his/her back touching the sidewall in front of the speaker, perhaps halfway between the speaker and your seating position, holding the mirror directly in front of them and parallel to the sidewall behind them.

    You want to look at the image in the mirror and have them move toward or away from the speaker until you see the speaker’s tweeter in the center of the mirror. This is the point of first reflection where the sound from the tweeter and midrange first strike the wall and then point towards your ears. Because the distance traveled from the loudspeaker to your wall and then to you is greater than the direct sound, you hear a slightly delayed version which confuses the image. So it is at this very spot you need to diffuse the sound so no longer is your ear/brain confused. The improvements in imaging can be significant.

    A good diffusor is important but almost anything will be better than a bare wall.

    Tomorrow I’ll discuss what I use and recommend for diffusors.

    mykyll2727
    Sony Pro
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 4171
    From: Las Vegas
     Posted: 2012-08-23 03:16   
    Here's the last in the series. I hope you got something out of it. Even though he didn't go over anything I didn't know it did remind me to pay more attention to a few things.



    The last link


    Paul's Posts
    — 23 August 2012


    <!-- #left -->
    <!-- #date -->By Paul McGowan


    <!-- #thumb -->
    As you can imagine, every room and every system and situation are different. It is nearly impossible to give good all-purpose advice that’s specific to anyone’s stereo system and what we’re trying to do in this series of posts is give you some generalized understanding of how everything works and interacts so you can tweak your system to best advantage.
    In the spirit of understanding I’ll share with you today what I do in my main system to give you an idea of this one setup and what results I am getting by taking these steps.
    The main PS Listening room is about 22 feet long, 15 feet wide with a 10 foot ceiling – your basic rectangular room with a high ceiling. In the room I have a pair of Magneplanar 3.6 panels for the main speakers, two Martin Logan Descent subwoofers and an original pair of Magneplanar Tympani 1D bass panels for a bit of midbass fill. You can see in this picture the source equipment is to the side of the room so we can easily access it and the amplifiers are in the rear behind the Tympani bass panels. One long pair of XLR balanced interconnects tie the PerfectWave DAC to the power amplifier in the rear and behind the Tympani’s.

    You will also notice the forrest of white tubes that line the walls. These are DAAD’s (Diffusion Absorption Acoustic Devices) that our friends over at Avalon loudspeakers distribute. What you don’t see is that between the rear DAAD sets are also 4 RPG diffusors as well.
    The DAAD’s are great – but very expensive – and the RPG’s much more affordable and, frankly, nearly as good. When we go to a show I usually bring only the RPG’s to place behind the loudspeakers.
    I spent several weekends rearranging everything using the exact same guide I have presented to you in this series of posts to get this to sound right from both a tonal standpoint as well as imagining properly.
    Perhaps the single biggest improvement I made was the careful placement of all these diffusors. Without this forrest of acoustic reflecting traps, or at least a few of the RPG’s in the room, the sound is not remarkable at all. Add them into the mix and then there’s magic where the music just floats, the tonal balance is nearly perfect and I can hear any subtle changes in cabling, amplification etc.
    This is, after all, both a pleasure den as well as a working lab where we test all manner of changes to our equipment before it goes out for sale – so it is important that small changes in even the tiniest of areas be obvious to anyone listening. But more to the point of this guide, how does it sound? I think everyone that’s heard this system finds it to be a real jaw dropper. The music is effortless and completely divorced from the loudspeakers themselves. The soundstage goes back beyond the rear and side walls and instruments have a fulness and naturalness of timbre and tonal correctness that always puts a smile on one’s face. It’s a real treat to hear this system.
    To set this up I always remove every piece of room treatment, as I mentioned in the first article in this series. I then first add the side traps you see in the picture – which is the first reflection points we discussed yesterday. I next go one by one attending to the rear wall and going through the tedious process I described before: how does it affect the single vocal? Better or worse? Get that right and placed well, then check with the more complex orchestral piece – paying particular attention to tonal balance of the instruments and the space around them. Then start adding more, less, whatever seems to get me closer to the ideal – but absolutely being rigorous and methodical in the process.
    I think it is this methodical approach that, at the end of the day, gives any of us the best chance at getting it right. Take notes – either mentally or physically – and learn what moving this, changing that, adding this and deleting that do to your test pieces and over time you’ll know your system really well.
    I hope you’ve found this series of value. If I can help you in any way let me know.

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