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Can TAS still be relevant today?


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Further, it appears JGH (J. Gordon Holt - founder of Stereophile magazine) had the same idea. Remember he said audio took a wrong turn when it became about preference and not about high fidelity. Also that he didn't say measurements didn't matter just they didn't tell the whole story.
The problem with preference is that it allows for an "anchor-less" frame of reference and while that ultimately hurts no-one, it doesn't help the cause of high-fidelity either. How can those interested chase the real thing when the manufacturers of recording/playback equipment (and indeed the recordings made by that equipment) are off somewhere chasing personal and current public taste?

imo, these posts by esldude + gmgraves in the “if you could go back in time…??” thread highlights an interesting issue/conundrum.

 

one can understand where gmgraves is coming from re: TAS = The Absolute Sound = the actual sound of acoustic instruments playing in a real space. works well for him. because his focus/passion is classical music.

however, hope he, and many of you, can/will agree that things have moved on somewhat since TAS was coined/adopted.

current status = audiophiles listen to classical music (or not). but, other genres of music are now more popular. latest hits are more likely to be recorded in a studio, and not feature exclusively acoustic instruments (if any).

my question is this:

* Do you think TAS should still serve as a reference for computer audiophiles whose tastes in music are more ‘Catholic’? *

...as in: evaluating potential system upgrades by listening to reference live classical recordings as a primary consideration, regardless of whatever flavour of music one may (mostly) favour.

motive: as one strives to upgrade audiophile hardware (and software) for the enjoyment of music, would be good/comforting to have some form of reference.

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I'm not sure if TAS was ever relevant in the computer audio area.

I'm in IT working in a fairly large company and meeting quite a lot of people through the job. Audiophiles are somewhat rare but I met quite a few. Most are into pro equipment like active speakers, sennheiser hd800 and such.

Most knew stereophile quite well but just a few knew about TAS. And none was actually aware of that somewhat compelling story behind the 'absolute sound'. Not even the upper management types who usually arent very technical people.

Pro magazines like Sound on sound are a much more popular source of reviews and forums like gearslutz are relatively well known. Somewhat surprinsingly, CA not so much.

Just an 'alternative' world view I guess.

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imo, these posts by esldude + gmgraves in the “if you could go back in time…??” thread highlights an interesting issue/conundrum.

 

one can understand where gmgraves is coming from re: TAS = The Absolute Sound = the actual sound of acoustic instruments playing in a real space. works well for him. because his focus/passion is classical music.

however, hope he, and many of you, can/will agree that things have moved on somewhat since TAS was coined/adopted.

current status = audiophiles listen to classical music (or not). but, other genres of music are now more popular. latest hits are more likely to be recorded in a studio, and not feature exclusively acoustic instruments (if any).

my question is this:

* Do you think TAS should still serve as a reference for computer audiophiles whose tastes in music are more ‘Catholic’? *

...as in: evaluating potential system upgrades by listening to reference live classical recordings as a primary consideration, regardless of whatever flavour of music one may (mostly) favour.

motive: as one strives to upgrade audiophile hardware (and software) for the enjoyment of music, would be good/comforting to have some form of reference.

 

To me there's a parallel with "bit perfect."

 

Just about nothing in digital audio these days is actually bit perfect. But as a check on the ability of things like software not to monkey with the signal unless we ask them to, the capability of handling a bitstream in bit perfect fashion is a minimum criterion.

 

Just about nothing in music these days is "the actual sound of acoustic instruments playing in a real space." But *if* presented with that rare animal, the ability of a system to reproduce it is a minimum criterion for showing it won't monkey with the sound of the recording that's fed to it.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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By the way:

 

It's helpful to consider that definition of "the absolute sound" in historical context and understand what it was intended to do.

 

As I mentioned in the other thread you referred to, TAS was originally intended as a consumer magazine, accepting no advertising and telling consumers which of the expensive pieces of equipment with the fancy faceplates and marketing specs actually sounded like crap (which was most of them). A part of the marketing and listening experience in those days - what both dealers demonstrating the equipment and consumers using it did - was the "sonic spectacular." Listen to those cannons from the 1812 Overture rock your chair!

 

Now was the sound of cannon fire a good way to detect distortion (which most of the new solid state amps at the time had a-plenty, just not in the "usual" specs geared toward tube equipment)? Of course not. How many of the listeners had ever heard much cannon fire? And if they had, their hearing was likely none too good. So consumers wound up with expensive equipment that distorted and thus didn't sound good for anything except the "sonic spectacular" stuff.

 

What consideration of "the absolute sound" was meant to do was to take the focus off the "sonic spectacular" and put it on real sounds. Did Frank Sinatra sound like a person singing, and did his backing band sound like real violins, trumpets, trombones? Did Miles' trumpet sound like the way *he* played, or like every other trumpet, or not even like a trumpet at all? Could you even stand to listen to a record, or did that expensive solid state amp with the fancy specs put an unlistenable "edge" (TIM distortion) on everything? Because if you found a system that would reproduce real sounds accurately, it could handle the "sonic spectacular" too.

 

So *that's* what "the absolute sound" was all about - a better way for dealers to demo and for consumers to evaluate equipment, to help consumers avoid the effects of the dominant marketing technique of the time.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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I cannot see how it wouldn't be just as applicable today, if not more so, as a metric for the ability of a system to faithfully reproduce applied signals. Its use is that of a standard/reference. With any amplified or electronically produced and processed signal one can never know the original.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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I cannot see how it wouldn't be just as applicable today, if not more so, as a metric for the ability of a system to faithfully reproduce applied signals. Its use is that of a standard/reference. With any amplified or electronically produced and processed signal one can never know the original.

 

That absolute sound things is very compelling and should continue to be same as true forever. Simply put, it's the sound of an orchestra playing in front of you. I'll go for that absolute anytime anywhere. But I dont think TAS does. Not anymore. And as far as I know, that sound is still not on sale anywhere.

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That absolute sound things is very compelling and should continue to be same as true forever. Simply put, it's the sound of an orchestra playing in front of you. I'll go for that absolute anytime anywhere. But I dont think TAS does. Not anymore. And as far as I know, that sound is still not on sale anywhere.

 

Barry Diament gets about as close as I'm aware of.

 

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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That absolute sound things is very compelling and should continue to be same as true forever. Simply put, it's the sound of an orchestra playing in front of you. I'll go for that absolute anytime anywhere. But I dont think TAS does. Not anymore. And as far as I know, that sound is still not on sale anywhere.

 

I would use an even more stringent definition: "the sound of an orchestra in front of you in a great hall". There are places where live orchestras can sound awful: cathedrals with too much reverberation (fine for plainchant but wrong for Mahler), concert halls with poor acoustics (e.g. Barbican or Pleyel before its renovation) etc.

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That absolute sound things is very compelling and should continue to be same as true forever. Simply put, it's the sound of an orchestra playing in front of you. I'll go for that absolute anytime anywhere. But I dont think TAS does. Not anymore. And as far as I know, that sound is still not on sale anywhere.

 

All true IMO, but the goal remains if one wishes to pursue it.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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Barry Diament gets about as close as I'm aware of.

 

 

So not coming through yotube and tablet speakers :).

Also his shinny cables. So not my thing. Sorry if that fails your challenge but that stuff makes me laugh.

Totally ready to share that laugh with anyone though. And my bottle of Henessy ;)

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You might consider having a listen directly off of his site then. He is respected here not only for his recordings, but his ears, rationality and decorum.

So not coming through yotube and tablet speakers :).

Also his shinny cables. So not my thing. Sorry if that fails your challenge but that stuff makes me laugh.

Totally ready to share that laugh with anyone though. And my bottle of Henessy ;)

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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So not coming through yotube and tablet speakers :).

Also his shinny cables. So not my thing. Sorry if that fails your challenge but that stuff makes me laugh.

Totally ready to share that laugh with anyone though. And my bottle of Henessy ;)

 

Oh, he's definitely got ideas about cables, DACs, etc.

 

But the "absolute sound" part is that he records acoustic instruments in natural spaces, not studios; and without close-miking techniques ('cause in a concert you aren't sitting with your ear 3 inches from the acoustic guitar). He's been the producer or mastering engineer of some of the most sought-after versions of recordings by artists like Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin, so he knows something about recording.

 

Thus you've got a recording made in a natural space of acoustic instruments - a recording of a performance mic'd so as to give you what you'd actually hear in a concert - made by someone very knowledgeable about his craft. Those are the factors that cause me to say this is about as close to the ideal of capturing the sound of live acoustic instruments in a natural space as I'm aware of.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Oh, he's definitely got ideas about cables, DACs, etc.

 

But the "absolute sound" part is that he records acoustic instruments in natural spaces, not studios; and without close-miking techniques ('cause in a concert you aren't sitting with your ear 3 inches from the acoustic guitar). He's been the producer or mastering engineer of some of the most sought-after versions of recordings by artists like Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin, so he knows something about recording.

 

Thus you've got a recording made in a natural space of acoustic instruments - a recording of a performance mic'd so as to give you what you'd actually hear in a concert - made by someone very knowledgeable about his craft. Those are the factors that cause me to say this is about as close to the ideal of capturing the sound of live acoustic instruments in a natural space as I'm aware of.

 

I dont know that church so cannot comment on that exactly. But in my experience churches are pretty bad for such things. Too much echo and 'natural' amplification. Voices and the typical church organ are sometimes wonderful. But I've attended a few jazz concerts in churches and those were complete failures. Especially the cymbals were totally off. Distorted echos coming from everywhere. Even the musicians escused themselves in one case and admitted it was a bad idea never to be repeated.

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I dont know that church so cannot comment on that exactly. But in my experience churches are pretty bad for such things. Too much echo and 'natural' amplification. Voices and the typical church organ are sometimes wonderful. But I've attended a few jazz concerts in churches and those were complete failures. Especially the cymbals were totally off. Distorted echos coming from everywhere. Even the musicians escused themselves in one case and admitted it was a bad idea never to be repeated.

 

Of course your call if you feel any recording done in a church by a guy who uses shiny cables is automatically off your list. :)

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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It is just entertainment and some pictures to drool over. No different from most magazines.

 

That's true. I just dont like most magazines and read some just for the pics and while wasting time in the plane or such. Still having some trust left for pro magazines.

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Of course your call if you feel any recording done in a church by a guy who uses shiny cables is automatically off your list. :)

 

Pretty much. I'm shallow like that :)

Maybe churches in the US are different. Or that prticular one is. But those gothic monsters around europe are messy like that.

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I dont know that church so cannot comment on that exactly. But in my experience churches are pretty bad for such things...

 

From Soundkeeper Recordings / Winds of Change: "I selected a local 19th century church as the recording venue. It is a stone structure with a wooden interior and a warm acoustic, providing a good sense of air around the players but maintaining a nice sense of intimacy, ideally suited to this music."

 

Having purchased all of Barry's Soundkeeper recordings - and counting them among the best sounding recordings I own - I think I'll trust his credentials, ears and pursuit of TAS on this one...shiny cables and all :-). Clearly, to me, the quality of his recordings - all of which are excellent - improves with each release. The latest, Winds of Change, is astounding in its realism; what I would call TAS factor.

 

Regards

 

CAPS v3 Topanga / JRiver MC21 | iFi iUSB Power | Woo Audio WDS-1 DAC

Odyssey Khartago Extreme | Magnepan 1.7s

 

 

 


Dedicated 20A circuit; Hubbell HBL5362I Receptacles; Shunyata Venom Defender Power Conditioner; Shunyata Venom Power Cables; Belkin Gold USB Cable; Kimber Hero WBT Interconnects; Anti-Cable Speaker Cables

 

 

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I would use an even more stringent definition: "the sound of an orchestra in front of you in a great hall". There are places where live orchestras can sound awful: cathedrals with too much reverberation (fine for plainchant but wrong for Mahler), concert halls with poor acoustics (e.g. Barbican or Pleyel before its renovation) etc.

 

My +10 on that. Great halls are just great :)

And your church experience is pretty much the same as mine. Probably we visited the same type of gothic cathedrals. The enhanced echo and reverberation could be very disturbing with some types of music and instruments. Jazz cymbals were just plainly awfull.

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From Soundkeeper Recordings / Winds of Change: "I selected a local 19th century church as the recording venue. It is a stone structure with a wooden interior and a warm acoustic, providing a good sense of air around the players but maintaining a nice sense of intimacy, ideally suited to this music."

 

Having purchased all of Barry's Soundkeeper recordings - and counting them among the best sounding recordings I own - I think I'll trust his credentials, ears and pursuit of TAS on this one...shiny cables and all :-). Clearly, to me, the quality of his recordings - all of which are excellent - improves with each release. The latest, Winds of Change, is astounding in its realism; what I would call TAS factor.

 

Regards

 

I may try some of that but it's all 'shinny' for me. Take that winds of change title for example. Reminds me of the scorpions super mega hit from the 90s. Not the worst song ever. But for about 2 years you heard it freaking everywhere in EU. Bars, clubs, tv or just walking on the street. It was enough to ruin anything connected for me. Forever. The shinny cables + winds of change is a sort of audio kryptonite for me :)

Still going to try some of those recordings that everyone seems to treasure. We'll see.

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I may try some of that but it's all 'shinny' for me. Take that winds of change title for example. Reminds me of the scorpions super mega hit from the 90s. Not the worst song ever. But for about 2 years you heard it freaking everywhere in EU. Bars, clubs, tv or just walking on the street. It was enough to ruin anything connected for me. Forever. The shinny cables + winds of change is a sort of kryptonite for me :)

Still going to try some of those recordings that everyone seems to treasure. We'll see.

 

The producer of scorpions at that time is personal friend and he is a great sound engineer.

 


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I may try some of that but it's all 'shinny' for me. Take that winds of change title for example. Reminds me of the scorpions super mega hit from the 90s. Not the worst song ever. But for about 2 years you heard it freaking everywhere in EU. Bars, clubs, tv or just walking on the street. It was enough to ruin anything connected for me. Forever. The shinny cables + winds of change is a sort of kryptonite for me :)

Still going to try some of those recordings that everyone seems to treasure. We'll see.

 

LOL. Might I suggest you break open that bottle of Henessy and don a pair of sunglasses to cut down on the glare while listening. Don't think you'll be disappointed. ;)

 

Regards

 

CAPS v3 Topanga / JRiver MC21 | iFi iUSB Power | Woo Audio WDS-1 DAC

Odyssey Khartago Extreme | Magnepan 1.7s

 

 

 


Dedicated 20A circuit; Hubbell HBL5362I Receptacles; Shunyata Venom Defender Power Conditioner; Shunyata Venom Power Cables; Belkin Gold USB Cable; Kimber Hero WBT Interconnects; Anti-Cable Speaker Cables

 

 

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LOL. Might I suggest you break open that bottle of Henessy and don a pair of sunglasses to cut down on the glare while listening. Don't think you'll be disappointed. ;)

 

Regards

 

The bottle situation is working very well already ;). Unfortunately no chance to listen to any of that music now. Even if I had the tracks, my best music device is the hotel's JBL ipod dock. Everything sounds the same on that thing.

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I have a question, if one gets the sound of actual acoustic instruments playing in a real space correct, would not the sound of electronic instruments playing in a studio also be correct?

I have dementia. I save all my posts in a text file I call Forums.  I do a search in that file to find out what I said or did in the past.

 

I still love music.

 

Teresa

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The producer of scorpions at that time is personal friend and he is a great sound engineer.

 

Surely a great recording. I even kind of liked it the first 100th times. Especially as it was good policy to like it if you wanted to hit on some chicks in clubs :). At that time quite a hobby for me. Didnt care much how they did 'sound' either :)

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