Jump to content
IGNORED

Observations on the audio opinions of the unwashed masses


Kimo

Recommended Posts

Over the years I have invited a few friends and acquaintances to audition various incarnations of my audio playback system. Nary an audiophile in the bunch, but the group has included boys and girls, young and old, big fans and little fans.

 

Their responses have been fairly consistent in terms of their audio preferences.

 

1. Vinyl almost always beats digital. It really doesn't matter how expensive or high quality the digital may be, or mediocre the vinyl rig may be (a modest system made of Sota, Ortofon, and Avid at the moment). Almost no one seems to prefer the digital presentation. A few have picked the digital alternative, but only because their stated objection to any noise in vinyl playback, not because the overall presentation pleased them more.

 

2. High resolution never seems to impress, until I switch to CD and then back to high res. The usual comment is that the high res version sounds smoother and clearer. I never hear much in the way of less harsh or more natural.

 

3. Tubes almost always trump solid state. The Pass Labs Class A amp has held its own, but it is a the lone exception.

 

4. Even when cable swaps display an immediate change, no one seems to care one bit.

 

5. Single driver speakers are often preferred by women.

 

6. SET gets the nod over push/pull.

 

7. NOS tubes don't mean much.

 

8. Floor standers generally are preferred over smaller book shelf speakers.

 

While my set ups haven't necessarily deployed the best of the best, the following have graced the dance floor; Audio Research, Ayre, Art Audio, Benchmark, Bryston, Cambridge, Dynaudio, Fi, First Watt, Gill Audio, Leben, Marsh, Magnum Dynalab, Naim, Ortofon, Omega PS Audio, Rega, Scott, Tannoy, Triangle, and Vandersteen, and a few others. The point is that the equipment quality has not been weighted in one direction.

 

In a nutshell, it appears that the average listener, at least the ones occupying my part of the world, display a preference for vinyl and tube distortion and bigger bass. Note, alcohol was not deployed to alter the curve, or anything else.

 

Thank goodness I know more about this stuff than they do.

Link to comment

That's very interesting, and consistent with many of my own reactions. Do you think that #2 points to (what I consider) the inclination we have toward our own jargon? I don't have any experience rolling tubes (#7).

That I ask questions? I am more concerned about being stupid than looking like I might be.

Link to comment
That's very interesting, and consistent with many of my own reactions. Do you think that #2 points to (what I consider) the inclination we have toward our own jargon? I don't have any experience rolling tubes (#7).

 

I am a big fan of well done 24 bit transfers. I don't think most people seem to recognize the benefits/differences until they hear what they are missing, but even then they don't seem to be that impressed.

 

I wonder how much success most of us would have identifying 24 bits without a comparison.

Link to comment

Exactly right! Do you remember the old Arte Johnson skit on Laugh In? The fella in the German uniform who would poke his head out from behind a bush and say "Interesting, but stupid."? My wife can hear but doesn't appreciate the subtle differences that give me the most pleasure in listening to music. She's just as happy listening to a desktop device that's linked by blue tooth to her iPhone. Still, I love that gal.

That I ask questions? I am more concerned about being stupid than looking like I might be.

Link to comment

hF9BA4DB4

Long time ago I use to have a tape reel recorder with a tube amp and loved the sound. Vinyl never impressed me, no matter how many times, after reading that vinyl is the king, I went back trying to figure out what I was missing. Last time I tried vinyl, again, was just 4 days ago and again - nothing, not impressed. CD players were ok.

 

After discovering digital, about 10+ years ago, I never, ever, want to go back to anything of the above. Now, only if I could fit my 1Tb+ library on a SSD icon8.png. I have a modest setup as my main system, and a few pairs of headphones that I love.

 

May be I'm "damaged", but I'd rather listen to music using iPhone with NAD HP50 headphones than vinyl - here...you have it.

 

Hours and hours of enjoyment that I had with digital make a very happy music lover icon7.png

lost in that music library

Link to comment

I understand, Biku Toru. The irony of post #4 is that it's my own "crazy" that I have to deal with, not hers. I never had a lot of vinyl to begin with but I have inherited quite a bit from people who have ditched it for one reason or another. Many are friends who are downsizing and don't have room for the bulk of a large vinyl collection. I have been digitizing their favorites for them (probably very badly, from what I have gathered on another thread) for the opportunity to own their cast offs. After listening to hours and hours of vinyl spanning many decades I don't feel any urge to run out and spend money on upgrading my turntable. More irony; if I did, maybe I would experience a vinyl epiphany that would send me in another direction.

 

Someone, please advise. That is all, carry on.

That I ask questions? I am more concerned about being stupid than looking like I might be.

Link to comment
Over the years I have invited a few friends and acquaintances to audition various incarnations of my audio playback system. Nary an audiophile in the bunch, but the group has included boys and girls, young and old, big fans and little fans.

 

Their responses have been fairly consistent in terms of their audio preferences.

 

[...]

 

7. NOS tubes don't mean much.

 

Perhaps they don't mean much to the acquaintances, but do they mean anything to you? My personal observation is that NOS tubes are generally much better built than modern equivalent, exceptions being mega bucks boutique power tubes. For non-power tubes, I much prefer NOS.

Link to comment
Kimo, very nice. Sounds so simple and real (not like tubes of course--take that anyway you like). Again, very nice.

 

Kimo, Which part of the world is yours btw?

 

Chris

 

Cleveland, Ohio. Perhaps, we lack a decent stable of more sophisticated listeners around.

Link to comment
Perhaps they don't mean much to the acquaintances, but do they mean anything to you? My personal observation is that NOS tubes are generally much better built than modern equivalent, exceptions being mega bucks boutique power tubes. For non-power tubes, I much prefer NOS.

 

I have rolled some tubes for folks and frankly have never heard an "oh my God" response when doing so. I think that they usually sound better, but the whole NOS thing does not seem to impress non-audiophiles much. The visual appearance of the tube equipment often intrigues, however.

 

Think I will drop the needle on some Big Star this evening. They do seem to sound a lot better on vinyl.

Link to comment
Cleveland, Ohio. Perhaps, we lack a decent stable of more sophisticated listeners around.

 

Cleveland may not be known for its stellar sports franchises as of late (or not so late) but not so where it comes to sophisticated listeners. I always go to Cleveland for my....

 

And It occurred to me from your response that you may have thought I was being a bit sarcastic or mocking. I was not. I really liked your post.

 

Chris

Link to comment
Long time ago I use to have a tape reel recorder with a tube amp and loved the sound. Vinyl never impressed me, no matter how many times, after reading that vinyl is the king, I went back trying to figure out what I was missing. Last time I tried vinyl, again, was just 4 days ago and again - nothing, not impressed. CD players were ok.

 

After discovering digital, about 10+ years ago, I never, ever, want to go back to anything of the above.

I agree - I've never heard a vinyl setup that has impressed me. All I can hear are the distortions it's introducing.

 

Now, only if I could fit my 1Tb+ library on a SSD icon8.png
Samsung have 1TB SSDs available for around $550 now, which is expensive, but not outrageous when you consider how much it used to cost for that kind of storage.

I think I paid about that for a first-generation Intel SSD with about a tenth that capacity six years ago.

 

Intel will have 2TB SSDs available in Q2, but those will be expensive and power-hungry, as they are enterprise-class drives.

Link to comment
I agree - I've never heard a vinyl setup that has impressed me. All I can hear are the distortions it's introducing.

 

Thank you. I no longer feel like freak around here.

 

I still do learn a lot by reading so many points of view, reviews, etc., then forget it all and enjoy the music!

I do understand the process of discovery, searching for the perfect sound. I just take this process in a direction of music, not equipment. May be because on my third try I found the setup I enjoy and improving it by 2-10% percent by spending $$$ does not appeal to me. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it if you can afford it and enjoy the process.

lost in that music library

Link to comment

Welcome to the forum Biku Toru.

 

Photo journalist Henri Bresson used to complain about photographers who fixated on perfectly focused images. He maintained that content, composition and mood were more important. He would have been a vinyl guy, I bet. Nothing wrong with wanting to hear the finite detail, as a musician that's what I like in my system.

That I ask questions? I am more concerned about being stupid than looking like I might be.

Link to comment
Photo journalist Henri Bresson used to complain about photographers who fixated on perfectly focused images. He maintained that content, composition and mood were more important.

 

Or you could have it all; unless of course out-of-focus is what you want, in which case you can also have it all.

 

Chris

Link to comment

I like the sound of vinyl, but prefer digital. I think it is the background noise that ruins it for me. Don't listen to my records anymore, either I've bought digital versions or have digitized them.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

Link to comment
I like the sound of vinyl, but prefer digital. I think it is the background noise that ruins it for me. Don't listen to my records anymore, either I've bought digital versions or have digitized them.

 

I liked the sound of vinyl a lot when the recording was good, the vinyl was perfect, the cartridge/needle was in great shape and the static and dust hadn't settled too deeply into the grooves. I liked it a lot about 10% of the time in other words. I like digital a lot 75% of the time. Hmmm, obviously I'll go with vinyl for the ritual of dropping the needle and flipping the disk.

 

Chris

Link to comment
Or you could have it all; unless of course out-of-focus is what you want, in which case you can also have it all.

 

Chris

 

Bresson's camera of choice was a 35mm Leica range finder that he knew so well it became an extension of his eye. To get many of his amazing candid pictures he would shoot from the hip, or any other method to disguise the fact that he was taking a picture. That meant he had to estimate range with his eye to focus the camera without looking the the range finder. He claimed that the moment someone knew he was taking their picture, the person became someone else, lost their naturalness so to say.

That I ask questions? I am more concerned about being stupid than looking like I might be.

Link to comment
He would have been a vinyl guy, I bet.

Cartier-Bresson's a great person to illustrate what we discuss in audio, but I'm not so sure he would have preferred vinyl over other media had he been into music. He was a "street photographer" - he captured and archived what was happening to ordinary people so all could appreciate, understand and admire it. He prized usability, convenience and reliability in his equipment because capturing the content he wanted was his only goal.

 

He always used Leica rangefinders, so he was clearly concerned about the technical quality of his equipment. I think the quote you use was probably making the point that sacrificing focus for timely capture of the moment was a satisfactory trade-off, although he preferred both whenever possible. He was deeply concerned about the technical quality of his prints (most done for him by Voja Mitrovic or Pablio Inirio, although he printed his own in the '30s). So I think he'd have embraced digital photography because it makes doing his thing that much easier and more effective.

 

Similarly, I suspect he'd have embraced digital audio were he a music lover. He'd have used the best and smallest digital recorder he could get to record local performances, and he would have had the best mastering lab he could find turn them into high res digital files.

 

BTW, his first love was painting - he described photography as a window into art, and he went back to painting when he stopped taking pictures. He put his Leica into his home safe and never used it again.

 

Pierre Assouline's biography of HCB is a great read.

Link to comment

Thanks Bluesman, you stated that better than I, an acceptable trade off. It's amusing to me the similarity and intensity of discussions in photography forums about the merits of digital over film.

That I ask questions? I am more concerned about being stupid than looking like I might be.

Link to comment
Over the years I have invited a few friends and acquaintances to audition various incarnations of my audio playback system. Nary an audiophile in the bunch, but the group has included boys and girls, young and old, big fans and little fans.

 

Their responses have been fairly consistent in terms of their audio preferences.

 

1. Vinyl almost always beats digital. It really doesn't matter how expensive or high quality the digital may be, or mediocre the vinyl rig may be (a modest system made of Sota, Ortofon, and Avid at the moment). Almost no one seems to prefer the digital presentation. A few have picked the digital alternative, but only because their stated objection to any noise in vinyl playback, not because the overall presentation pleased them more.

 

2. High resolution never seems to impress, until I switch to CD and then back to high res. The usual comment is that the high res version sounds smoother and clearer. I never hear much in the way of less harsh or more natural.

 

3. Tubes almost always trump solid state. The Pass Labs Class A amp has held its own, but it is a the lone exception.

 

4. Even when cable swaps display an immediate change, no one seems to care one bit.

 

5. Single driver speakers are often preferred by women.

 

6. SET gets the nod over push/pull.

 

7. NOS tubes don't mean much.

 

8. Floor standers generally are preferred over smaller book shelf speakers.

 

While my set ups haven't necessarily deployed the best of the best, the following have graced the dance floor; Audio Research, Ayre, Art Audio, Benchmark, Bryston, Cambridge, Dynaudio, Fi, First Watt, Gill Audio, Leben, Marsh, Magnum Dynalab, Naim, Ortofon, Omega PS Audio, Rega, Scott, Tannoy, Triangle, and Vandersteen, and a few others. The point is that the equipment quality has not been weighted in one direction.

 

In a nutshell, it appears that the average listener, at least the ones occupying my part of the world, display a preference for vinyl and tube distortion and bigger bass. Note, alcohol was not deployed to alter the curve, or anything else.

 

Thank goodness I know more about this stuff than they do.

 

Im not sure why but the images dont load properly. anyway just wanted to share...im looking for a turtable as we speak and enjoy almost all formats as long as the quality is hi..:)

20140215_180929_LLS.jpg

20140222_163055.jpg

Link to comment

Nothing wrong with wanting to hear the finite detail, as a musician that's what I like in my system.

 

Nothing is wrong with anything if it makes you happy, and does not hurt anybody else ;-)

I like the comparison to photography. I miss my dark room and the smell of chemicals, something is irrevocably lost with digital, that's how understand people that stay with tubes and vinyl. In photography I do prefer B&W even with digital, for the purity of captured light, for the ritual and roots. I do like the ritual of dropping the needle, it is just not practical to me as I like to discover lots and lots of different music.

With music what also matters is the original mastering. If we take the T. Bone Burnett's produced album "Raising Sand - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss" which was recorded on analog equipment and won many awards. I did not compare digital to vinyl, but the sense of analog is preserved so well, even when it goes from Harddrive to software to dac. Listening to it I could feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck and reading about it is just as exciting(Robert Plant 'Angel Dance')

lost in that music library

Link to comment
Cleveland may not be known for its stellar sports franchises as of late (or not so late) but not so where it comes to sophisticated listeners. I always go to Cleveland for my....

 

And It occurred to me from your response that you may have thought I was being a bit sarcastic or mocking. I was not. I really liked your post.

 

Chris

 

There are few transplants. Most of the fans here are life long by default. The pathetic management and performance on the field just beats you down. Alcohol can only help so much.

 

There is one high end stereo store left though.

Link to comment
Nothing is wrong with anything if it makes you happy, and does not hurt anybody else ;-). . . . . . . . .

 

That's not what the nuns at St. Thomas taught me! Eeeeek.

That I ask questions? I am more concerned about being stupid than looking like I might be.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...