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What is FOCUS?

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I hear the word focus a lot in forums when describing better sound (e.g. less jitter). But what does that mean? With your eyes it means that you can see the image sharply and clearly, not blurry. With your ears the equivalent would be "clearly" as in "not muddy", as in you clearly understood all the words, etc.


So what exactly is described by "better focus"?



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Well, I must honestly say that I never ran into the literal phenomenon "focus", but of course it is easy to make up something for it. Yea, you could do that yourself ...

But let me ry to make a somewhat longer story of it.


First of all, if someone from english spoken areas knows better, I am happy to be corrected. So ...


I think "focusing" as such could be a wrong expression for something I would call pinpointing.

Think of a high pitched bell, and once you know how small the bell is, you will be able to tell whether the size of that bell you hear is real or not. It can be determined by its pitch ...


So, this indeed comes down to better "sharpness", and from that focus may derive.


Thinking about your "blurry", the phenomenon is two folded :

- The location of the object

- the size of the object.

Both go along I think. However :


When you would exchange your Opus for a Buffalo (if that is your (btw great) blog) you will see that both will improve, but the first (location) is limited because of another kind of blurriness, and this is cause by heavy oversampling. So, while the Buffalo is very "detailed", it does not allow for infinit "sharpness". This is caused by squareish information which is turned into pure sines because of the heavy oversampling. Sines are "round" while squares are. well, square.


When the soundwaves are more towards the squariness as intended (that assumed), you will be able to pinpoint left/right (and to a certain extend depth) the individual interacting waves from a synthesizer. This happens in mid air and by collision of sufficiently "sharp" waves that allow for that interaction. Make the waves more fuzzy, and the interaction is there less, but because the (short) wavelength the interaction is spread over more cycles, and the effect is not there.

To know what I mean you must know Yello or the more modern ambient stuff like from Sphongle. They use this all over, and the music really gets the interest from right that.


What I mean with the latter is a further dimension from being able to see the contours of an instrument or the location it is at, because all is at the much smaller level. Only that bell may suffice as an out of synth example (but think of 1cm bells !).


Once you perceive what I mean, you can indeed speak of "good focusing", while pinpointing is just something else. However ...

The focusing I am talking about (hence when me myself and I think that the literal focusing would be applicable) is not something many people will be able to perceive. This is why I referred to the Buffalo, being one of the better DACs IMO, but because it is based on heavy oversampling this "effect" just cannot be there.

Besides that, the effect for a non oversampling DAC also cannot be there (although you will get the grasp of it at listening at random NOS), because a random NOS DAC bears too much harmonic distortion in order to again let the waves be sufficiently "sharp". Harmonics (and then I mean false ones) buzz, and buzz tells you "fuzzy".


FWIW ... :-)




PS : I got attracted by your question in combination with the link to the blog and the content of it. Also, I saw one dutch word in there, so I wondered whether you're from Holland, like me.



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According to one of the demonstration discs from Chesky records, this is a definition..


"Focus refers to the outline or boundary of an instrument within the soundstage of the recording."


The demonstration disc can be purchased here, should you be interested.



Have a good day you all, and keep all the interesting questions and answers up!




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Peter, thanks for the info (although I don't quite get it) and the compliment on my blog. I'm not dutch, maybe I misspelled a word :-). I'm not switching to Buffalo just yet. The WM8741 sounds very nice (it was chosen by PS Audio over the Sabre24). I'm most attracted to the "snap" of drums, cymbals, etc and the harmonics (echo/ringing?) from strings. So the WM8741 seem provide all of that in my system. And can't give up iTunes :-) (And I think I've told you that I've been reading your stuff since your discussions with Microsoft's audio engine in Vista over at another forum)


Danny71: Thanks for the link. I have another Chesky test CD, I did used some of tests, don't know if focus was one of them. I'll have to find that disc...


So let me try to describe what I hear in my system:


I can hear left/right OK, Front/back OK, Voices and instruments sound their "normal size" that is a cow bell sound small, a drum sounds big. To a large extend, I feel if something sounds "smaller than it should", then it is positioned further back, and if something sounds "bigger than it should" then it is positioned in the front of the speaker plane. OK, so that is what is called "soundstage".


So how does focus relate to this description? If "focus" makes the boundary of the sound smaller (same as less fuzzy?), does it mean things appear to be moved back? Does "better focus" makes the sounds move in L/R position? Further away? (as in larger soundstage?)




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