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The Purpose of Audio Reproduction


fas42

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Time to crack this back open again, 😄.

 

Yes, what's the point? There could be a zillion answers, but my answer is to be true to the contents of a recording ... I was going to post this to that unloved thread, now gone to zombie land, but I'll do it here, instead,

 

 

Bit of a mess, eh? And, this is the remaster, from 2015!! - I've got it on a double CD from 1998 - a low cost release - sludgy, plus? ... You bet!

 

What should a system do to, for this? In my book, absolutely nothing more than the best job possible to being accurate to the data - now, what I'm getting at the moment is not elimination of the sludge - but is a realistic pickup of what was heard in that club. The reproduction, currently, is not the best it could be - my active speakers still need to be refined more; which will gain me greater clarity, a better connection to the musicians doing their thing ... this sort of track is very helpful in making it clear where the shortfalls are.

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I'll just repost this video here, which was just posted on another thread ... the reason is not the talk of the details of the new Purifi amplifier module, but rather Putzeys' exposition of why people go for certain technologies - which is to eliminate unpleasantness in what they hear, :).

 

 

Unfortunately, all rigs distort, audibly, no matter what any numbers say - and The Big Trick is to make that remaining distortion as benign as possible - 'magic' happens when the mind can completely discard any remaining inaccuracies, as being not relevant to the music. And this is why it's worthwhile persevering at refining a playback chain, until the listener can completely  unconsciously process the residual anomalies - this opens the door to assured enjoyment of any recording you choose to put on ...

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Pretty sure I came across this thread before - but I'll link it here, for reference, https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/has-anyone-ever-created-a-system-that-sounds-like-live-instruments.266582/.

 

Yes, this is the name of the game - most certainly doable, doesn't require huge amplifiers, speakers, power, etc, etc ... most essential ingredient is overall integrity of the reproduction chain, which is difficult to achieve. Because, human hearing is very sensitive to certain clues in what it hears that the sound is "fake" - and you have to attenuate those giveaways below a certain level. Do that - and the 'magic' kicks in ...

 

Those crucial clues which spoil the illusion most often result from the impact of electrical noise - no-one measures this, no-one takes it seriously ... enough. And hence "sounds like live instruments" occurs but rarely.

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Just found this post,

 

His impressions of what the setup delivered, at the end of the post, tell the story - it's now in "the zone"; what he's hearing is the recording, rather than playback setup signatures ... good work, 👍.

 

Note his ending comment, that the absence of noise was key to reaching this point ...

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Right, the purpose of audio reproduction is to make it sound live, yes? ... But what if live is pretty off-putting?? ^_^

 

I had these thoughts yesterday - I've mentioned a busker's spot at the local supermarket several times, halfway up the ramp down to the underground parking; with plenty of natural reverb, from the concrete. Well, on this occasion there was a chap with acoustic guitar, singing pop songs of the 80's ... did I say singing?!! More like a teacher in full roar, making sure every child on the playground could hear every word he said - he was completely drowning out the sound of his poor guitar, which struggled to make its presence felt. The fellow was his very own PA rig, effortlessly thundering throughout the store upstairs - man, to have those vocal chords, ^_^. And unfortunately, volume was the main claim to fame; his versions of those songs would lie at the very bottom of the pile, of all possible 'interpretations'.

 

Thank God it only lasted for about two songs while I was there - maybe the store asked him to move on ... were a 'perfect' system to reproduce that onslaught of sound with full accuracy, I would very much exit the area as fast as possible :).  

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Just came across this, from https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/yamaha-ns10-story?page=3

 

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Moving swiftly on to the second assertion I made a couple of paragraphs ago, we humans have evolved to respond more to the transient than to the tonal elements of sound. Try a little experiment: find a sample of something like a clarinet and a flute, each playing the same continuous note, drop them onto two tracks in your DAW and listen to them in turn. It's very easy to tell which is which. Chop the first, say, 500ms from the front of each so that the characteristic beginnings of the notes are suppressed, and listen again. They'll sound much more similar: the brain uses the characteristic transients to differentiate the instruments, and without them it struggles. Now, go back to the un-edited samples and apply the same severe EQ to each and listen again: despite the EQ, you can still differentiate them. A similar illustration of the use the brain makes of transient rather than tonal information is that a familiar voice remains familiar in wildly different acoustic environments — environments that imprint different tonal characters on the sound. So, concentrating on the 'flatness' of frequency response is to miss a hugely important point: if a monitor handles transients accurately, its frequency response is much less important than you probably think.

 

I strongly agree - a system needs to get the transients right; and many don't. And it stands out like a sore thumb when this is the case.

 

Likewise, FR is way overplayed as being terribly important in audio gear - everything I've learned over the years tells me the flatness of the audio frequencies band becomes quite irrelevant when a system works well ... it's pleasing to see this put in print.

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Since this YouTuber is being talked about elsewhere, I thought I would have a look at some of the stuff - and found this. Okay, this is downright awful - the sort of wacky endpoint that audiophiles can end up at, when pursuing "ultra high end" - so far from sounding like the recording, it's no contest ...

 

 

If anyone can't pick why this is the pits, I'll be happy to enlighten them ... ^_^.

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From

 

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Wouldn't it be terrible if you found out you couldn't hear any difference between a $1000 component and a $5000 one? Or a $5000 one and a $20000 one?

 

Stuff really hits the fan when it turns out that an optimised $500 setup is easily superior as a listening experience to a non-optimised $500,000 rig - that is what is really crazy about the audio world, that the principle of value for money is almost completely thrown out the window ... O.o

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1 hour ago, AnotherSpin said:

 

Don't use USB cables anymore, fortunately.

 

That was a sly reference to your post, :)

 

 

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Yes. Cables do sound different, I still use ethernet cables and the sound changes not only between different makes, but also when you change direction. However, I said the other thing, an increase in price or in production cost does not necessarily lead to an improvement in quality of sound (not even touching the satisfaction of musical experience here), even without any optimization of a more budget set. And, again, value for money is only a marketing strategy and nothing more.

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I think we have different ideas on what the term "value for money" is used for - when I go shopping, for anything at all, I look at the price, and consider whether it's reasonable for what I get in return, if I buy it. Right now I'm looking at buying a replacement mower blade, and I could pay an extravagant price for one, because it is the "correct part" from the manufacturer; or go for a cheaper alternative - I have to decide which is, the better "value for money" ... it has absolutely nothing to do with marketing strategy.

 

Cables change the sound because they alter the electrical environment that the audio components operate in; if the latter were well designed, then no change would be heard. It's a weakness to have a system sensitive to the cables used, and one should work towards eliminating that.

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I note that Archimago still can't accept that most audio products are inadequately engineered, and hence respond to the myriad of tweaks that have entered the audiophile's world, https://archimago.blogspot.com/2021/12/audiophile-psychology-reconsidering.html. Most of the tweaks are effective because they reduce the impact of electrical noise, arising from a whole variety of factors, such as other electrical devices, the draw of power by the audio components themselves, poor design of power supplies, and parasitic material behaviours. And of course sensitivity to these noise elements is never, ever evaluated by those who have access to measuring gear which has the potential to register these interactions, ;).

 

Well engineered products are far less susceptible to these issues - I had personal experience of a CH Precision CD player in operation in a high end system; and was impressed by the absence of the usual, tell tale distortions of sub par digital replay chains - so, sometimes what you get with high priced items is exactly what you need: thorough attention to detail in eliminating the weaknesses that otherwise will require tweaking, by someone, to reduce the audible degradation that occurs.

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8 hours ago, fas42 said:

I think we have different ideas on what the term "value for money" is used for - when I go shopping, for anything at all, I look at the price, and consider whether it's reasonable for what I get in return, if I buy it. Right now I'm looking at buying a replacement mower blade, and I could pay an extravagant price for one, because it is the "correct part" from the manufacturer; or go for a cheaper alternative - I have to decide which is, the better "value for money" ... it has absolutely nothing to do with marketing strategy.

 

Cables change the sound because they alter the electrical environment that the audio components operate in; if the latter were well designed, then no change would be heard. It's a weakness to have a system sensitive to the cables used, and one should work towards eliminating that.

 

It's one thing when you choose a cheaper part based on the idea that it has better value for money. It is another thing when the seller tries to convince you that component a is better than component b: being more expensive, a supposedly has a higher level of quality and thus is a better value for money. Now, in both the first and second cases, this may well be imaginary. In the first case you may buy cheap rubbish which has no or very small value, in second case b would be cheaper and better than a. 

 

Of course, well designed component would be less dependent from the cable. Or vise versa. Again, I was talking about different thing. The same set sounds differently when you change direction of ethernet cable. The design of the set stays the same before and after the change.

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Well, you are talking about two things here: first, A is more expensive than B, because it's better quality - it you want or need that better quality then the cost is irrelevant, and talking about value for money is not part of the equation; and, secondly, both A and B actually do the job well enough for what you're aiming at, but A is still more expensive than B and possibly better quality in some areas - then B is the one to go for; if "buying the best!" is a vanity need, then you would select A. But for most, the consideration of value for money does come aboard, and they buy B.

 

This depends, of course, on knowing whether B does the job as well as A; this can be a hard call, and especially so in the crazy world of audiophilia ...

 

Changing the direction of cables affecting SQ is an interesting one ... there are a number of reasons why this can happen, which have all been mentioned at times - I won't go there! As always, what this means is that the surrounding components are sensitive to the precise nature of any electrical noise, and other, 'parasitic', electrical conditions - this is never a good thing, and should be sorted out, if possible. The word to use is "robust" - you should be able to do almost anything not directly related to the actual functioning of the chain, and have zero change in what you hear ... anything else means that you are always held hostage to what's going on externally; I have no interest in being in the "you gotta listen at the right time of the day!" situation.

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Noting this review,

 

As always, when a system is approaching good transparency, you "hear everything!". Including every slight misdemeanour of the chain - this means, as always, the closer you get to a peak quality, the more necessary it is to pay attention to every possible factor that has the potential to impact the sound ... often, it gets harder, not easier!

 

Note a key sentence,

 

Quote

The soundstage width is not spectacular, but what is impressive is that the stage is thrown in front of you, instead of close to your ears, which gives the presentation a certain “naturalness”.

 

This illusion of having the performance occur beyond the devices producing the sound waves is a critical aspect of achieving a convincing, or "natural", presentation. This means that the reproduction chain is not adding anomalies which are a giveaway to the ear/brain that what you are hearing originates from diaphragms which have a certain position in space; as soon as the mind 'knows' where the sound is really coming from, then the illusion is severely degraded.

 

The downside, for some people, is that recordings will often not be spectacular; they will just, sound like themselves. Which may be disappointing, for those who want plenty of spice added to somewhat bland dishes. However, the upside is that recordings which are intrinsically spectacular will indeed convey all of that; these are recordings which are often 'messy!" or "unlistenable!!" on more conventional rigs ... :).

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7 hours ago, fas42 said:

Well, you are talking about two things here: first, A is more expensive than B, because it's better quality - it you want or need that better quality then the cost is irrelevant, and talking about value for money is not part of the equation; and, secondly, both A and B actually do the job well enough for what you're aiming at, but A is still more expensive than B and possibly better quality in some areas - then B is the one to go for; if "buying the best!" is a vanity need, then you would select A. But for most, the consideration of value for money does come aboard, and they buy B.

 

This depends, of course, on knowing whether B does the job as well as A; this can be a hard call, and especially so in the crazy world of audiophilia ...

 

Changing the direction of cables affecting SQ is an interesting one ... there are a number of reasons why this can happen, which have all been mentioned at times - I won't go there! As always, what this means is that the surrounding components are sensitive to the precise nature of any electrical noise, and other, 'parasitic', electrical conditions - this is never a good thing, and should be sorted out, if possible. The word to use is "robust" - you should be able to do almost anything not directly related to the actual functioning of the chain, and have zero change in what you hear ... anything else means that you are always held hostage to what's going on externally; I have no interest in being in the "you gotta listen at the right time of the day!" situation.

 

What I'm saying is that there is no such thing as "quality" in reality. A and B may differ, but "better" or "worse" exists only in our perception and nowhere else. Money has no value, so the whole "value for money" formula is based on a false assumption.

 

All cables are not perfect, they have physical parameters that do not measure the same in all situations. Therefore, a change in directionality is perceived differently by the ear. Today it's this way, tomorrow it's different. The optimal scenario is to have as less external cables, as possible and to leave it all at rest.

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15 hours ago, AnotherSpin said:

 

What I'm saying is that there is no such thing as "quality" in reality. A and B may differ, but "better" or "worse" exists only in our perception and nowhere else. Money has no value, so the whole "value for money" formula is based on a false assumption.

 

Getting pretty Deep and Meaningful now ... ^_^. Unfortunately, "quality" does have a meaning in the real world; if you try and lift a heavy object with a chain of insufficient quality, the latter breaks, and the heavy thing drops on top of someone - at least one or two people might challenge your thinking, :). Of course, if you believe we live in a simulation, and that nothing really matters, then, say, there is nothing actually wrong in a person deciding to go a mad rampage, and killing as many people as possible ...

 

15 hours ago, AnotherSpin said:

 

All cables are not perfect, they have physical parameters that do not measure the same in all situations. Therefore, a change in directionality is perceived differently by the ear. Today it's this way, tomorrow it's different. The optimal scenario is to have as less external cables, as possible and to leave it all at rest.

 

Yes, minimise as much as possible - the greater the complexity, the more battles you have to fight, to eliminate all the weaknesses.

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9 hours ago, fas42 said:

 

Getting pretty Deep and Meaningful now ... ^_^. Unfortunately, "quality" does have a meaning in the real world; if you try and lift a heavy object with a chain of insufficient quality, the latter breaks, and the heavy thing drops on top of someone - at least one or two people might challenge your thinking, :). Of course, if you believe we live in a simulation, and that nothing really matters, then, say, there is nothing actually wrong in a person deciding to go a mad rampage, and killing as many people as possible ...

 

 

Yes, minimise as much as possible - the greater the complexity, the more battles you have to fight, to eliminate all the weaknesses.

 

I've heard it many times: if nothing matters, we can easily kill each other. No, the opposite. The only ones who kill each other are those for whom everything matters, who can't stop, who choke on their jealousy, who are lacking something always, and who can't just be happy with what is, and be content with the only one indisputable truth -- that they exist.

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On 12/30/2021 at 2:13 PM, AnotherSpin said:

 

What I'm saying is that there is no such thing as "quality" in reality. A and B may differ, but "better" or "worse" exists only in our perception and nowhere else. Money has no value, so the whole "value for money" formula is based on a false assumption.

 

'Quality' doesn't exist in external reality, it exists within each individual. However to deny perception is a mistake. Money does have value in the perception of the world's population hence its a mistake (a denial) to say it has 'no value'. Rather, it has ~8billion values. Therefore 'value for money' is a reality within the individual.

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7 minutes ago, opus101 said:

 

'Quality' doesn't exist in external reality, it exists within each individual. However to deny perception is a mistake. Money does have value in the perception of the world's population hence its a mistake (a denial) to say it has 'no value'. Rather, it has ~8billion values. Therefore 'value for money' is a reality within the individual.

 

If "quality" exists only in individual perception, then it cannot be a criteria for comparison. That's exactly what I said: "better" or "worse" exists only in our perception and nowhere else", where is there a denial of perception? Money has no value in and of itself; it is merely a way of negotiating between people to facilitate the direct exchange of goods. Read carefully before you comment.

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10 minutes ago, AnotherSpin said:

 

If "quality" exists only in individual perception, then it cannot be a criteria for comparison. 

 

Why not?

 

Money has no intrinsic value I would agree. But it has value to individuals, therefore it has value.

 

There's a denial of perception when you deny that value exists. Which you did when you said 'There's no such thing as "quality" in reality'.

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12 minutes ago, opus101 said:

 

Why not?

 

Money has no intrinsic value I would agree. But it has value to individuals, therefore it has value.

 

There's a denial of perception when you deny that value exists. Which you did when you said 'There's no such thing as "quality" in reality'.

 

If perception is individual, it cannot be the same in two different cases, in which event there is no common basis for comparison. The concept of value is relative. What is valuable to one person is not valuable to another. There is nothing that serves as an objective indisputable basis for comparison.

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