I decided to post this here but it's the core of the email that is really of interest to me. I think alot of the "proof" naysayers give about what we hear is skewed. The tests and measuements at times leave much out that gives a slanted picture of what's going on in audio. Also I don't think we've actually figured out everything we should be measuring, let alone how to measure it, to give a truly clear picture of what's really going on._mykl
About: Paul McGowan is the CEO and co-founder of PS Audio Inc. a Boulder Colorado design and manufacturing company of high-end audio products and services. McGowan has been designing and building high-end products for nearly 40 years. Hobbies include skiing, music, hiking, artisan bread baking, kick boxing and cooking. He lives in Boulder Colorado with his wife Terri and his 4 sons. See Authors Posts (33 <!-- #thumb --> I finished reading yet another article by a self proclaimed expert about why 192kHz 24 bit doesn’t make any difference over standard CD’s and the folks who are promoting these standards are simply “hoodwinking” you into believing they do. What’s instructive about this article is the author, Monty, is extremely knowledgeable about a lot of things – as are most self proclaimed experts. He knows a lot about a little (or a little about a lot depending on the subject) and no doubt knows a lot more facts and figures than any of us – therefore he’s an expert and we are encouraged to doubt what we know to be true. Experts have a way of doing this to us. Problem is, the expert is trying hard to make his argument and he does this by selectively presenting factual evidence that is irrefutable and leaving out the part that doesn’t support his argument. This is a classic technique used by politicians, pundits and people “in the know” the world over. This method works really well because when reading the article there’s little if anything one could argue with Monty about – except he misses the point. Take, for example, Reference Recording’s Symphonic Dances and grab a copy of both the HRx 176kHz 24 bit version and another copy of the redbook version that was originally released. If you have the ability, play them both on your DAC and tell me if you can hear the difference – have a friend or spouse choose for you so you don’t know which is what. The HRx disc itself needs either one of our PerfectWave transports to play directly or if your DAC has a 192kHz 24 bit asynchronous input or network player attached you can rip and listen. I have performed this particular experiment dozens of times with 100% results. Does that prove that Monty is incorrect? No. Monty is correct he just leaves out a lot of valuable information. For example, he leaves out the fact that nearly every recording mastered at a modern recording studio starts out at a higher sample and bit rate then redbook and to distribute a redbook or vinyl version of the track the mastering engineer must downsample the media – and the downsampled version clearly sounds worse than the master. Monty also left out the fact that many times mastering engineers, like Keith Johnson, go back and “let ‘er loose” when they can distribute their work in a master media format – where originally they had to throttle back the redbook version. It’s clear that if you take a redbook CD and upsample it to 192kHz 24 bit you’ve wasted your time and your bandwidth and memory. It’s equally clear that an original master recording first captured at a high sample rate and bit depth and then downsampled to meet the lower redbook standards will sound remarkably different than the original. But Monty didn’t bother telling you that part of the story.
In yesterday’s post we mentioned a Sheffield Direct To Disc recording and several readers asked me just what that was. It was the most direct method of recording possible before the advent of digital and interestingly enough it was a throwback to the original recording technique. Perhaps a bit of history is in order.
When the idea of recording first came into our society all recordings were “direct to disc” only there was no disc. Better said as “direct to cylinder”. The capturing of sound at the time used no electronics but rather a large acoustic amplifier (a horn) whose output had enough air movement to push a needle cutting a pattern into wax or tin foil wrapped onto a rotating cylinder. Once recorded all you had to do was change the needle type from a cutter to a player and reverse the process to hear it played back through the same acoustic amplifier – this time the needle following the cut grooves in the cylinder and moving the air so you can hear.
Thing was, whatever you wanted to record had to be performed live and without any mistakes. This was a real challenge for both the performers as well as the recordist as any errors would ruin the take and it had to be done again.
Enter the tape recorder that used electronics and magnetics to capture the sound with the advantage you could control the recording process and edit the performance making the life of the recordist and performer a whole lot easier. Problem was you had to transfer the recorded sound to the disc removing the listener away from the direct recording and adding a layer of sonic degradation – the first of many to follow.
As the high-end audio field gained in popularity it was natural enough to want better source materials and some lucky few were able to get copies of original master tapes to enjoy, but this was rather limited and expensive. Then came the idea of direct to disc recording once again that would eliminate the in-between tape recording and get the listener closer to the musicians.
The problems were the same as before – no mistakes in cutting or performance could be tolerated to make a great recording and once finished, only a limited number of copies could be made from the cut master so copies of these masterpieces were expensive and limited. But the results were amazing with a clarity and dynamic range that couldn’t possibly have been achieved any other way than digital which didn’t exist in popular form at the time.
I am sure some of you remember better than I but Sheffield and Crystal Clear records were the only labels that came to mind as I am writing this.
It surely was a magical time in the history of audio and I was glad to have been a part of it.
Joined: Nov 16, 2010
From: Louisville, KY
Posted: 2012-06-16 06:48
These arguments will no doubt inspire critical listening, but, from my own perspective I sense folks just are not into audio as most of us were 50 years ago. Today, I download the hi res stuff from HDtracks for its convenience and my perception that it might sound better. So far, I really can't hear anything different between HDtracks hi res and their CD quality downloads of the same material. I also download from The iTunes Store. I find their 256k material to sound very satisfying from my home theatre system. The arena where I think there is the most to be gained from research is in multi channel decoding/speaker design.
[ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2012-06-16 06:53 ]
I share in your perspective on today's audio. I don't think as high of a percentage of young folks care about SQ as much as we did. The thing is I don't understand why. With their interest in great video PQ and sound effects for movies and games (not to mention a world where they're so immersed in it) I would think that superior music SQ would really matter to them too. Honestly I don't buy into that their interest in vinyl is an actual reflection of a deep interest in better SQ. I have my opinions as to the why for their interest in vinyl and I don't think it's about superior SQ even if they claim that's the reason. _mykl
[ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2012-06-16 18:08 ]
Joined: Nov 16, 2010
From: Louisville, KY
Posted: 2012-06-18 13:59
My adult children have iPhones and iPods. They have TV and Netflix. They use their laptop's for social media. they know about vinyl and CD's but their lifestyle does not entertain SQ from those formats or even ones which allow computer audio from the HT. I've wondered why they have no interest. After thinking about it, it appears they just don't need SQ for a satisfying experience. With their discretionary incomes somewhat limited, paying off college loans, I doubt, even if persuaded that better quality sound is out there for peanuts, they would be willing to put any of their income there when there are priorities like food, shelter, insurance, transportation etc. They're just into other stuff. There's more stuff to get into these days than when I was their age.
[ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2012-06-18 14:05 ]
On 2012-06-18 13:59, sterling1 wrote: .With their discretionary incomes somewhat limited, paying off college loans, I doubt, even if persuaded that better quality sound is out there for peanuts, they would be willing to put any of their income there when there are priorities like food, shelter, insurance, transportation etc. They're just into other stuff. There's more stuff to get into these days than when I was their age.
[ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2012-06-18 14:05 ]
Excellent points!!! It makes me wonder about what I'd be into now if I'd have come long at their time. Also I said before I feel the points you've made are a big problem getting the younger folks into the high end. Given the ever, and IMO ridiculously so, escalating prices of high end. There are so few young people that can afford it, and as like you said, even for those who can there are so many more options. There's little wonder there are so few new joining the high end fold. It's really becoming a niche for the older and very well-heeled few._mykl
Joined: Nov 16, 2010
From: Louisville, KY
Posted: 2012-06-18 18:14
Interestingly, my kids come over for movie night occasionally and the experience is better than at the movie theatre down the road. The seats are more comfortable, the snacks are better, and, of course, the sound is out of this world. Still, neither of my sons has any interest in a HT for themselves. They're too frugal. What they like is going out and dining with friends, watching sports, live and on cable, and cooking of all things. I don't think my adult kids are different than other folks their age. Hi-fi is not in their lexicon. My interest in hi-fi is fading too. I'm happy with how I experience music and movies so I'm not seeking upgrades, just repair occasionally when what I've got, some of it quite old, stops working. So far I've been able to repair everything that has needed service including my prize Sony PCM 7010F DAT recorders.
We'll see where things go but I'd suspect it will be in the arena of cheap amplified multi-channel wireless speakers for those with an iTunes library on their iPhones and iPods. Outside of that, the new world order of audio/video may, it appears, be nothing more than having a pair of headphones.
[ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2012-06-18 18:19 ]
In some ways my interest in Hi-Fi is waning too and for several reasons. A major factor has to do with financial considerations. When I consider any cash expenditure for it I find myself thinking "is it worth it?" given the amount of time I'd spend listening to music. Certainly given the economy and my financial position I must consider if I wouldn't be better suited using the money elsewhere or even just simply saving it for "older" age. Like I said earlier another factor is I just don't spend alot of time doing dedicated listening to music much. In a way like the younger folks there's just too many other things to do. This despite the fact that my system sounds better than it probably ever has. Indeed there's a part of me that wants it to sound better, to sound truly great, but there's a part that also says "Hey, good is good enough. I can be fine without great." I have that attitude when it comes to movies/TV. Even though in many ways my viewing experience is better than going out and that includes the SQ. I just have no desire for a world class viewing experience. Good is definitely good enough when it comes to viewing and that's how my system gets used the most.
My thinking has been that a switch to computer audio (which the more I research it the more I find definitely has issues) will facilitate greater ease of use and flexibility. I've felt this would lead me to using it more for background. Something, for what it's worth, I really never do now. The downside is if most of my listening will be non-dedicated why do I need great sound? For that good would be good enough. I don't need nor would I appreciate exceptional sound if it's only in the background. Yet for those moments when I do engage in dedicated listening I would love to have truly exceptional sound. But like I said in these times is it worth it for those rare occasions. I still haven't made a definite decision._mykl
Joined: Nov 16, 2010
From: Louisville, KY
Posted: 2012-06-20 07:26
It appears, you've got a system right now which accommodates your listening preferences whether it's background or critical listening. I'm sure you're having fun with it all. But, like me, your I.Q. demands some stimulus beyond just sitting back in the e-z chair to merely listen. You like involvement, right? My involvement today is figuring out how to get music from the computer to the HT and how to digitize analog media to get it into my iTunes library. I'm also involved in field recording of thunder showers which I enjoy as background sound in the evening before I hit the sack. It's really relaxing. I also enjoy the new use I've found for my Sony PCM-7010 DAT recorders which is to record radio and other stuff off of the computer which cannot be downloaded without considerable effort or expense. At any rate, it seems you are satisfied and isn't that what the purchase is all about. Now, you might want to just move from your current vantage point for the pleasure that comes from a new perspective. Perhaps, you could buy a little Sony PCM D50 and record some relaxation sounds for yourself.
[ This message was edited by: sterling1 on 2012-06-20 16:10 ]
Most mornings I get up and after my coffee I run or head to the gym and workout for 45 minutes. It’s always a struggle and I battle with myself to hang in there and get ‘er done. It’s particularly difficult at the very beginning of the exercise and that’s when I question myself most – and wonder why I do it.
I also go through the same process about midway through any design project we are on – when the going gets tough – I question if its worth it. Yet I always go back and finish it because I know it’s an investment.
The 45 minutes of exercise I invest pays me back with 8 to 10 hours of energy I can use during the day.
A year long design project pays back the investment when thousands of like-minded people enjoy our products day in and day out.
When you struggle to get your system tweaked and just right that investment pays you back many fold in musical enjoyment.
Investing in those things that put a smile on our face over the long term are great investments for sure.
A number of years ago the Controller of the company I work for gave a presentation at a regional meeting. The presentation was about return on investment. This case was about financial return on financial investment.
Over time I extrapolated return on investment into what I do. The investment can be money, time or a combination.
A lot can go into something, but the reward can be very satisfying.
Guys_I've been giving alot of thought to your posts lately. Thanks for your input!
One of the things I realise is that as good as my system sounds I'm never going to be really happy with it in it's present configuration. I know life is full of tradeoffs and so is home audio. Sometimes you have to give up some things to have others. I've got the large scale sound I want. The fullness, the sound stage size, spatiality with overall warmth and impact I've been looking for. But the details are too obscured for my tastes. Also the treble lacks the silkiness and air I want. I've come to realise that this dissatisfaction is a least part of the reason I don't spend more time doing dedicated listening. Also for background, in it's present setup, I have to spend too much time changing discs for it to be really appealing to me. Yes I can play the radio but the commercials irritate me. I don't have it setup for streaming though I could do it at this point. I just haven't done it yet partly because I'm very interested in going to computer audio. When I do that I'll look to add streaming. Maybe I should go about it the other way around. Not sure.
There's a large variety of reasons why I'm very interested in computer audio. The research I've done has shown me it's going to be quite a learning curve for me, but it's not like I need a PHD in E.E. to do it either. So it'll be fun and challenging. That's just one of the reasons.
AFA it goes I know that the Swans F2.2 speakers certainly will not detract from my musical enjoyment and that they won't hurt TV/movie pleasure either. For several other reasons as well they are a speaker I can happily live with for life. For me that will make them a worthwhile investment even if they didn't provide a real improvement in SQ. (One thing is when I put F2.2s in as fronts I'll move my HAT Phantom 5.0s into the living room and use them as surround backs w/a sub. Their finish is similar enough to the Swans that it'll be a good look. Right now the 5.0s are languishing in a spare bedroom virtually unheard and unseen. This way they can be put to good use and get to be heard and seen). Computer audio will also bring alot to the table that overall will create more pleasure from my system and it too will be a worthwhile investment. So I'm looking to my system with renewed interest and excitement._mykl
[ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2012-06-30 23:11 ]
I moved the Phantom 5.0s into the main system as surround backs and even though I've made sure the levels are right there doesn't seem to be much coming from them in comparison to when I had the K90EDs there. I'm thinking it's the lack of bass extension. As soon as I get a chance I'll hook up a sub to them and see if that helps._mykl
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