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Specs, upsampling, and active monitors.


Rob
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Here is an email that I sent to Chris personally. He suggested I post it on the forum.

 

Hello Chris,

I do not want to start a thread on the forum because I would be labeled a dinosaur and a Salesman Sam so I will address you personally. I feel in the digital world we are re-living the 70s when almost everyone involved had gone to seed on specs, and in many cases it mentally affected what they heard. My motto is: if it sounds better, it is better, regardless of price or specs. In my thirty years in audio, the SET tube amp is the clear winner of amps IMO, and what horrid specs they have compared to the average modern 5 star flavour of the week solid state amps. The best DAC I have heard to date is the NOS non filtered Audio Sector USB DAC that sells for under a grand. Sounds closer to vinyl than any digital source I have heard. I feel the 16/44.1 format is sadly overlooked in the race to get the numbers.....and the sales. Another travesty in the audiophile world is the lack of popularity of the single driver speaker. As consumers we are conditioned by advertising and what others are buying, and a lot of the time missing out on the best. The NOS non filtered DAC/low powered SET tube amp/efficient single driver speaker combo transcends anything I have heard to date.....by a good margin. Its disappointing when you pull the grill off a large speaker and all you see is a plain looking little 4" to 6" driver and nothing else. "Where are all the impressive looking drivers with all the brushed aluminum? Where are the 53 binding posts for multi wiring? How can that sound good.....I'll pass" says Joe Brainwashed consumer.

Chris, for computer audio your site the best, the only really, but I see a trend here among the forum members that I find disturbing, and it is summed up in five words: specs, upsampling, and active monitors. As one of my most respected audio reviewers, I would be interested in what comments you might have about my observations.

 

Regards,

 

Rob

 

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It's not that 16/44.1 cannot sound good, it's just that there is better. And naturally many audiophiles still strive for the best. In the old days, the gold standard for recorded music was the master analog tapes. Vinyl was and still is very good but it usually was not sonically superior to the studio master tapes.

 

Fast forward to the digital generation and you will find that some things still remain the same. Many audiophiles that striving for the best often want studio master digital files from the recording studios. They may be forced to take what's offered but they would prefer the high quality master files. In some audiophiles minds conversions are to be avoided. Why downsample to 16/44.1 if you don't have to? So if the music is being recorded at 24/96 or higher, which it usually is, then that is what Salesman Sam should sell.

 

I just threw out a Pioneer DVD player with 24/96 digital I/O that I had for over ten years. It wasn't until 2004 that I picked up some free 24/96 DVD-A discs from AIX Records at a Stereophile Home Entertainment Show in NYC and it was probably 3 years later before I finally listened to them. They sounded fantastic and if you were into multi-channel audio and video they were the bomb. Too bad the format is dead but that's where we should be, 24/96 music.

 

So in my mind the 24/96 technology is mature and proven. And with digital downloads we are finally freed from the commercial and technical compromises of 16/44.1. That's not to say that 16/44.1 sounds bad, it's just that 24/96 sounds better. In your vinyl world 33-1/3 rpm LPs sound very good, but 45 rpm LPs on virgin vinyl just sound better.

 

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Rob, I for one think you are 100% right. Be careful about the single driver speaker though because sub low and and above 16KHz really exists in CDs (that makes it 99%, still good to go).

Oh, those who never auditioned single driver speakers ... don't try to judge.

 

Audiozorro, is 24/96 mature and better ? can you point out the DAC which proves that ? And before you do, can you tell, well, me, what NOS/Filterless you rejected in the first place ?

 

I think anyone responding to this more negatively should point out exactly why. And indeed, not because the numbers show better. There is so much more to this that ... well, it will be beyond you.

Says me.

 

Peter

 

 

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XXHighEnd (developer)

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I was referring to the recorded music bit and sampling rate, not particularly the DAC though I did state that I had a 24/96 player for over 10 years before I moved on to something else. In fact I still have a Denon DVD-5000 DVD player that Savant Audio lists as the DAC in their recommended high-end systems around $100,000.

 

All of the DACs that I have owned are at least 24/96 capable except for a Devilsound DAC which I believe is just 16/44.1. Every comparison I have made with higher resolution music from Acousence, 2L, Linn, Reference Recording and Kent Poon, to name a few, sound much better at higher resolutions than the 16/44.1 versions. And why should a downsampled version ever sound better?

 

I have not rejected any DAC except for a Apogee FW Mini DAC that I auditioned and returned. That may be part of my compulsive disorder of buying and hoarding things that I hardly ever use. For example, it will take be my lifetime and yours to listen to all the vinyl I’ve accumulated. That’s the good thing about computer audio for me, it plays 24/7 and I now have two music servers playing music I two different parts of my hacienda non-stop.

 

I believe you are exploring the possibility of selling a 24/192 NOS DAC which to me suggests that you too believe in higher resolutions. I also believe XXHighEnd is one of the best players out there but if it were limited to 16/44.1 your sales would screech to a halt. As for upsampling, XXHighEnd offers upsampling and some of your users prefer it to playback at lower rates. But I always repeat myself, that while theory and technology may matter, successful implementation is everything. So whether one has a Berkeley Audio DAC, Audio Note DAC, Esoteric DAC, Empirical Audio DAC, etc. excellence can be found in many different technologies.

 

I agree with you the numbers are beyond me and to that end I don’t care any more than Rob does about specs. I do not listen to specs or measurements, I listen to music.

 

And finally I only addressed Rob as a dinosaur and Salesman Sam just to fulfill his prediction. But I agree with many of his opinions. I believe that nothing beats full range electrostatic speakers because as someone more knowledgeable than me stated “if the midrange isn’t right, nothing is right”. And yes I use dipole subwoofers for the bottom end. And yes I use tube amps in my reference systems and elsewhere since they are unsurpassed for musicality IMO. However my 24/7 music servers usually play through my Audioengine 2 speakers, which are not active but they are solid state powered speakers that I can leave on all night and day. If they ever fail years from now, which I doubt that they will, what’s another $199? The expected advantage of active monitors is that they are cost effective, tried and true, a best value for the money but not the best regardless of cost. I might consider active monitors I didn't have better speakers or if I wanted a compact system.

 

 

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Dear Audiozorro,

Please note that I should be addressed by the name I post by, as should anyone on this site. Dinosaur reminds me too much of my age, and sometimes that makes me uncomfortable. No where in my post did I claim 16/44 was better than 24/96. Your statement that 24/96 is mature and proven is not totally true, especially when (if you will do some research) the 16/44 format is still not mature. Another key element in DAC design is how well the word length and sampling are implemented, and what connection is being used (USB, SPIF etc.) and how well that is implemented. Does the DAC operate in the adaptive mode or asynchronous mode. How well is the DAC designed? How short the signal path? Parts quality? Power supply? Casing? There are so many variables. Do some research on the net and you will find some of the top designers still implementing 16/44. Another big advantage to the 16/44 format is that one can buy CDs for 1 to 5 dollars in the used market and rip them, thus amassing a large music collection cheaply. HD Tracks wants $16.00 for 24/96, Linn $30.00 for Studio Master. If you can afford it, be my guest, not all can.

Concerning vinyl, it is a physical impossibility that digital will beat it for resolution (on a properly set up turntable and good recording). If you take the smooth sine wave of analog and take samples of that sine wave at certain points in the sine wave, put in very simplistic terms that is what digital is, a sampling of an analog sine wave. Theoretically, the more the samples taken, the better the sound, thus 88.2 theoretically must be twice as good as 44.1. Strange that it is not. Maybe the reason 16/44 is getting such a bad rap is partly the fault of what is downline from it: high powered solid state amps, pushing inefficient, dynamics killing, multi driver speakers. What good having the best DAC if you can't hear what it is doing? Generally speaking (there are exceptions to most rules) The low powered SET tube amp and single driver speaker combo will easily beat a solid state/ multi driver set up for dynamics, speed, timing, fluidity, and holographic (almost photographic) imaging. If one is to enjoy the music, one must take a systems approach to this hobby, and not just concentrate on the DAC and it's specs, but on the system as a whole. Also, the fact that one has a tube amp does not guarantee the sound will be as I described. A push pull powerhouse is not likely to sound like a low powered SET with properly matched speakers. One needs to get parked in front of one of these systems before they pass judgement. I just sold a pair of some of the fastest crossoverless two way speakers available. My single driver speakers put them to shame in speed, timing, imaging, and dynamics. Oh, and did I mention warmth?

 

Rob

 

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I want to comment on your statement

"I feel the 16/44.1 format is sadly overlooked in the race to get the numbers.....and the sales."

I think you are 100% correct! I was ready to right off 16/44.1 rips as inferior until recently when I heard them through my player. I have to ad that not all cds sounded wonderful, but the ones that were good really sounded awesome. Some recordings just have the magic touch and seem to surpass the limitations of the media. Kinda like Jordon on the court. I'm also sure that others have experienced this on their particular systems and that most feel that the cd is still alive and will be for some time.

 

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a.z., thanks. That sounded a whole lot more constructive to me and I'm sure to Rob too who was urged by Chris to post this while he initially did not for the exact reason of, well, your first post.

 

I believe you are exploring the possibility of selling a 24/192 NOS DAC which to me suggests that you too believe in higher resolutions.

 

Yes of course, and I think we all have the intelligence to understand that a higher resolution has the better base, but now what to play it on. So that was the merit of my first post : once you're as far that NOS/Filterless "is" better, there is no way you can have heard higher resolutions being better than the lower, just because no DAC exists to perform the show. Thus on that matter Rob is inherently correct.

(but keep in mind the "is" above, because the verdict may not be out on that one).

 

So do I believe higher resolution is better ? yes. But I do not believe anyone can have heard that to the absolute sense. I mean, yes, it may be true that you too perceive 24/96 (or 24/192) to be better than 16/44.1, but what you forget is that 16/44.1 may sound way better than 24/192 once played on NOS. And it just "does" (see "is" remark before :-). So, once you're as far as playing 16/44.1 on NOS, you will come to the conclusion that even 24/192 is not better; You'd suddenly need another DAC and that DAC will sound not better because it will be the heavy oversampling type.

 

This law of course ceases to exist when 24/192 NOS/Filterless is there with all the goodies imagineable around the implementation.

 

Keep in mind that right after that, as Rob more or less pointed out, there's again more to it. If filterless is going to remain filterless, the rest of the chain must be able to cope with the high (distortion) frequencies still in there. So, plunging that DAC in a random chain won't work, or anyway can fail.

That is where the filter may be needed afterall ...

 

Lastly, to indicate a bit how difficult the subject is, any higher resolution already should sound better because there's no aliasing (distortion) products in the audio band. Aha, but any higher resolution DAC we listen to is heavy oversampling, so has no such products in the audio band to begin with. So, no difference in that area for the common higher resolution DAC. This is opposed to NOS, where this difference *is* there, and the higher resolution immediately eliminates it.

So, where 16/44.1 NOS/Filterless to many is the best there is, changing that to e.g. 24/88.2 instantly creates heaven; no matter our ears and brain may act as a filter for the in-band distortion products, now those distortion products are just gone (but keep in mind the super high frequencies the amps and all have to dig).

 

Peter

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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I responded in jest to the 1st sentence of your original post. It's not something I would have thought of on my own. I am sorry in not using your name but the power of suggestion led me to use your words in jest. I meant no harm to you and I made light of what you stated you wanted to avoid although you brought it to our attention. My advice is if you want to avoid something don’t bring it up others. As for age, unless your 30 years in audio came later on in life you’re young to me. The older I get, the younger everyone else seems to get. With age hopefully you have wisdom, experience, good memories and a well lived life. You learn what’s important in life and you dearly miss all those who are no longer here to share it with you. As they say, age is just a number and you’re as old or as young as you think you are or want to act to have some fun. Anyway back to audio.

 

If you believe 16/44.1 is not a mature digital format, then nothing is. But the point is that 16/44.1 was a compromise that many felt set low limits and that many backers try to convince folks it's good enough. I do claim that 24 bit is better than 16 bit and 96 kHz is better than 44.1 kHz. As for the costs of higher resolution formats, I expect the costs will come down but prices reflect the limited and new market. If costs and availabilities were equal, there is no way I or most other audiophiles IMO would ever select 16/44.1 over 24/96. Fortunately video is driving the high resolution market and high resolution audio is along for the ride. Not that VHS video and DVDs are bad, but the higher resolution Blu ray format has the capability to be so much better. Audio enthusiasts and recording engineers want to capture and preserve the best audio has to offer in terms of transparency, detail, dynamics, etc.

 

Some people seem intent on criticizing comparisons, calling them apples to oranges comparisons, while it is often price which makes almost everything an apples to oranges comparison. What is the better or best DAC? Well if all the DACs in the world cost $1,000 what DAC would you buy? If all the digital formats cost $5 per album what format would you buy?

 

With over 30 years in audio you surely remember what some called rip off prices for CDs, which were much less expensive to manufacturer and distribute than LPs. And today yes I have paid $45 for HRx discs mainly for examples of excellence in digital and to support the industry in providing the best possible recordings. Do I wish the price was lower- of course. Would my entire music collection consist of $45 discs – no way. Just like hardly anyone would fill an iPod with 10,000 songs at 99 cents apiece. Personally I remember when MP3s were free and legally distributed, which I why I wouldn’t pay even 5 cents apiece. But that’s me and I don’t knock anyone who pays the 99 cents.

 

Concerning vinyl, I expect digital will beat vinyl within the next 20 years or less. IMO the gap is narrowing and digital will only get better. And the fact remains that nowadays most recordings are digital, most mastering and mixing is digital before the conversions to vinyl. Whatever limits you place on digital will exist before you ever get your new perfect LP. Yes you can resort to older vinyl records produced from analog master tapes but again analog tapes deteriorate and while older records can be relatively cheap, they are usually not quiet. By contrast the new production 45 rpm LPs on 180 gram virgin vinyl are very good in my opinion, even if they are digital recordings.

 

The fact that digital has entered the music stream does not bother me any more today than it did 30 years ago when Telarc produced their excellent Soundstream digital recordings on LPs. Very few studio are like Mapleshade Records that does analog recordings before the conversions to digital CDs.

 

 

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Hi Rob and others ...

 

While I'm not going to start calling any one a dinosaur, I do think some of the statement that "The NOS non filtered DAC/low powered SET tube amp/efficient single driver speaker combo transcends anything I have heard to date", while accurate when considering your ears, can't really be used to reefer to the whole marketplace.

 

I maybe nieve, but if NOS, no filtering DACs are really so good, why are there only a (small) handful of companies that make them. From my understanding, they is nothing "wrong" with them, but they do have a characteristic sound just like any other audio reproduction technology. If they WERE so superior, then Naim, Chord, dCS and Wadia (to name but 4) would all use them. Some people will say that the reason that NOS DACs are not used is because of the lack of availability of the chipsets, but if there was the market / demand for them, then TI, etc. would be producing the chipsets necessary (and at least two of the manufacturers I listed DON'T use IC chipsets for DAC anyway).

 

Similarly with low powered SET valve amps and single driver speakers. Its not that people buy on specs, most people buy on what **THEY** feel sound good. You're not a dinosaur for liking these technologies, however you may have less than average tastes in sound. Maybe you do have a better taste than the majority, but the reason these technologies are not used in bigger numbers is not (IMO) because of any form of conspiracy amongst the HiFi companies, but because people generally prefer the sound from over-sampled, filtered DACs, solid state electronics and multi-driver speakers. Yes there may be elements of the "modern" technologies being cheeper / easier to implement, but then there is a market for (high) 5 figure components and speakers so if companies felt there was a market for older technologies then surely they could sell them and then we'd get the inevitable trickle down of the technologies to lower end products so the market would become filled with choices.

 

Anyway that's my thoughts ... I will admit I've never heard the aforementioned "dinosaur" technologies to any extent ... but my observations of the market place seam to indicate that the modern technologies are probably, if not better, then more to the tastes of the common man.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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I don't think that vinyl is necessarily the ideal sound that we must judge all other gear against. IMO the recent reference CD players from the last few years and a number of the DACs mentioned here have easily surpassed vinyl having the detail, resolution and other features vinyl have always lacked. And they have (most surprisingly) gotten the life like presence, timing, and musicality of analog down. The Bryston CD player or DAC are two excellent examples of the new era in sound.

 

James[br]

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icebreaker's statement "The Bryston CD player or DAC are two excellent examples of the new era in sound." is interesting in that neither use what people would consider to be a "High End" (or maybe should say headline grabbing) DAC chip, both relying on good old fashioned analogue engineering on the output stage. Just an observation after the initial topic "headline" referring to specs.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Eloise ... just trying to have some smart response here ...

 

It may be so that statistics denote science, and thus science tells that we all should be using what the majority uses hence produces, but I reall really don't see the logic in that. But I guess for some this logic exists and let me suggest those marketeers carry the same logic.

 

Let me get wild a bit ...

 

How in the world can it spring to someone's mind that larger companies make better products ?

Yes, I bring this up for the nth time, but since you keep on defending (so to speak) by just referring to what you refer to always (x times n), why shouldn't I.

 

I recall you are in software (or computing at least). Are you really convinced that only the largest companies make the best software products ? No, you know that is not so. It is the other way around, and it is individual smart a**es that dictate software. The examples are all over, so there's no discussion about that.

 

The problem with individual smart a**es might be marketing. The Internet helps, but still.

 

Now, to get blatant to some degree, why is it so that so many people learn by just stuffing texts into memory, and spit that out when necessary. For one thing, people should learn that only a small percentage is true of what you read, and the only real solution to that is ... understand.

I have said this before and I say it again, because if a thread on this forum is left alone for a while, all sorts of wild ideas jump up, and within no time a USB stick has turned into a RAM disk, to name something. This is not because a first thinks it might be so, but it is because 20 others just believe in that, and seconds later it might be in WikiPedia.

 

I just put up the above because it is not much different from stating that NOS can't be right because the majority doesn't produce it. It is an argument of nothing.

 

More to the subject, and to give some more realistic counterweight to your ideas about this all, it just might be about the numbers again, and the marketing behind just that. So, if there is this 32 bit DAC (which truly exists now), isn't that a great thing to have ? I could write quite some pages about why this is good for you. TI can do that too (might they have such a chip); they stuff it in a white paper, put it on the Internet, and many DACs will start to exist with that 32 bit chip. As a matter of fact, all 24 bit DACs will cease to exist.

 

On the other hand, I could also write some pages about why a 32 bit DAC is totally useless, brings nothing extra, and just as well can be avoided. Next I could spend some sentences on why a 24 bit DAC is *better* than a 32 bit DAC, but by that time it is too late, and everybody is producing 32 bit DACs only, and that won't stop because I can point out some disadvantages. Besides that, most people scream about 32 bits because, well, everybody does.

 

Isn't this a realistic scenario ? I think it is. But it doesn't contain logic within itself, let alone science should spring from it.

 

Why do I take the time to respond to this and why would I care ?

Well, because -although that sure will be unintentional- in between such lines can be read that "I am stupid because I should listen to those (the big ones) who know".

Might it not have occurred, I hardly ever take something from someone else, unless I understand. Important to this all is that I live my life by having my own judgements, my own statements, my own products. The latter may not be for everyone, but I do. Call it ignorant that I do so. When I do, I don't fail (so far, but it may happen at some time :-).

I still have in mind the kind of silly action of Steve Nugent, pulling his credentials by means of referring to his patents. It was a last resort to, say, proove his right while the subject was beyond the understanding of others. So ... we are all typing in "screen editors" because I ever in 1980 or whatever created a first one. The big companies used line editors. They thought that was smart. And so ... back in 1987 it was by pure coincidence me again who presented the first legacy ERP system on networked (Novell) PC's. No large company did that of course, because that wasn't smart (as the company thought I worked for where I wanted to create just that ... and left because of the stupid idea). So ... ever heard of Hydra ? it was the name Microsoft gave to her beta version of what today is called RDC (Remote Desktop Connection). Guess who ... well ... I have done more. The latest I recall is measuring differences between bit perfect players. No big deal, and done because I just wanted to - or proove that it just exists.

 

So, me myself and I are all not impressed from "the big companies", in fact, not at all. Not because I am better, but because they are worse. So this is not about me at all, but I do know that not much is to be expected from big companies. Subject unimportant. I have enough ERP customers in all kind of business lines to know. I bless the individuals though whom are keen enough to know about subjects I'd have to pass upon.

 

Eloise, let me end with something you might not expect at this time : I have never seen someone learn so quickly and pull out the merits of things like you. Maybe I am not entitled to say so, maybe by now you are sure I have some problem, but I like to say it anyway.

 

Cheers !

Peter

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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Peter ...

 

In no way am I saying that small companies can't produce great products. There are many clever people working in small companies who have produced great items. In some cases one offs, in other cases they have gone on to great fame. Lets face it in the emerging world of HiFi in the 40s and 50s, who's have though that the greatest (yes I know debatable) British loudspeakers would not come from the giants of Tannoy, but from a small electronics retailer in Worthing ... yes I'm talking of B&W here.

 

My only point is that (I think) that the "sound" from NOS DACs, valve amps, etc. probably appeal to a minority of purchases. That doesn't mean that they are bad, but the original poster (the way I read it anyway) was rather suggesting that anyone using "modern" technology to reproduce sound is only using it because they have been brainwashed. As I say, maybe I am naive, but I'd like to think that B&W invested millions in developing their diamond tweeters because they sound good, NOT because it looks good in advertising. And that dCS promote upsampling and DSD; and Naim promote high prices power supplies; and Teac promote stable transports; etc. for similar reasons. But they are built to suit the majority, so those with more exotic tastes will tend to look elsewhere at the NOS DACs and Single Ended Valve amps.

 

Please don't think I'm knocking you, or anyone else, who likes to start at a ground level and experiment with each component works and how they influence each other, because I'm not. I guess I'm a little jealous of you skills and knowledge as I know I couldn't design a DAC half as well as a Cambridge Audio DAC Magic, let alone a dCS. For me the joy of HiFi is about listening to the music and I try to find a system that lets me enjoy the most.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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I have always found Eloise to be very insightful and helpful! Peter I also want to add that I don't always understand what your saying, but I always find in interesting. I have a copy of Vista comming and I have it on my list to try your software as I feel your passion carries into your work. I can't wait to here it! PS I spoke to Steve N. a few months back about his Pace Car for me and he recommended that I try your Software. Just thought you might like to know.

 

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"It may be so that statistics denote science, and thus science tells that we all should be using what the majority uses hence produces, but I reall really don't see the logic in that. But I guess for some this logic exists and let me suggest those marketeers carry the same logic."

 

I agree Peter, I was quite surprised to see the rationale of gear not being acceptable to the 'common man' as an indication of less suitability of purpose. By that rationale, Firewire and Async USB DACS would be considered unworthy.

 

Eloise says:

"but because people generally prefer the sound from over-sampled, filtered DACs, solid state electronics and multi-driver speakers."

 

I'm willing to bet that the majority of people who prefer solid state electronics and multi-driver speakers, et al, have never listened to the alternatives. IOW, the claimed 'preference' is not based on a listening comparison, but on other factors.

 

Without starting arguments of solid state versus SET, I will also say that I have always been amused at the vigour with which the solid state proponents attempted to denounce use of SET amps (by ANYONE) as not being audiophile worthy - meanwhile the SET folks seem to be enjoying music more and suggesting that others simply try an SET amp. Said another way, it seems as if the (more vocal) solid state proponents (aka common man) desperately want EVERYONE to agree that their choice of amplification is best. Possibly, they don't really choose gear by listening, but go with the consensus (aka 'common') choice, and then defend it.

 

NOTE: My power amps have always been solid-state, currently Nelson Pass built Aleph 30. But, I use a 6SN7 tube based preamp.

 

clay

 

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"I have always been amused at the vigour [sic] with which the solid state proponents attempted to denounce use of SET amps (by ANYONE) as not being audiophile worthy - meanwhile the SET folks seem to be enjoying music more and suggesting that others simply try an SET amp. Said another way, it seems as if the (more vocal) solid state proponents (aka common man) desperately want EVERYONE to agree that their choice of amplification is best."

 

Very interesting observation Clay. I can't say I disagree.

 

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clay said and quoted ... "It may be so that statistics denote science, and thus science tells that we all should be using what the majority uses hence produces, but I reall really don't see the logic in that. But I guess for some this logic exists and let me suggest those marketeers carry the same logic."

 

I agree Peter, I was quite surprised to see the rationale of gear not being acceptable to the 'common man' as an indication of less suitability of purpose. By that rationale, Firewire and Async USB DACS would be considered unworthy

 

My thought isn't so much that "big" manufacturers don't use SET valve amps, NOS DACs, single driver speakers, etc because the majority of people don't use them, but I'm sure that the big manufacturers will experiment with "alternative" technologies but feel that they are unable to make them work to a level that their customers demand for the money. And there is the rub of it ... manufacturers are working to a desired cost point, where time is money, whereas someone like Peter, as a hobbiest (sorry I hope I don't characterise you wrongly there but I get the impression that your DAC is a hobby not something you hope to make money from), can spend time on it without cost.

 

Eloise

 

P.S. I've always thought it more the other way Chris, that the valve users tend to be the more "militant" ... though Class A supporters tend to be quite militant too. Its just great that this forum lets everyone state their views ... from the supporters of studio monitors with their clear analytical sound, all the way through to value supporters with the added warmth and feeling. We all like to think "our chosen way" is the best I think, and can be a little OTT in defending it when someone posts a thought that makes us doubt our choice.

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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"Its just great that this forum lets everyone state their views"

 

Couldn't agree more. I think it's also great that the participants also 'let everyone state their views' - i.e., without descending into condescending responses, etc.

 

 

"I've always thought it more the other way Chris, that the valve users tend to be the more "militant""

 

My view is that tube lovers are mostly trying to get the word out - from a decidedly minority viewpoint - and that the majority (aka common man) are dissing and dismissing their viewpoints out of hand - based largely on measurements - which seems more 'militant' to me. But I'm in the US, and the UK is likely different. :)

 

Now that I think about it, given the large number of small, hand crafted audio companies in Britain, I'm not surprised that you might feel differently about the larger audio companies than I.

 

Eloise, our views overlap about 97.75% of the time.

 

All is good,

 

clay

 

 

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Dear Audiozorro,

Your apologies are appreciated. It amazes me how few people in our day apologize for anything, let alone for such a minor thing as this. Not only that, but in public before the eyes of others. Audiozorro, this gesture has garnered my profound respect. I wish more people would follow your example. This world would be a better place if they did.

I would have responded to your post last night, but it was midnight and time to shut down.

 

Rob

 

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Eloise,

I read quite a few of your posts, and find them informative and generally sensible. I have a question for you though. Is your audio knowledge from experience or from surfing the net reading countless articles, reviews, and white papers? You seem quite critical of the type of system I opened this thread with, yet by your own admission you have never heard such a system. How can you pass judgement? Until I moved into the present technologies that I now listen to, it was mainly British solid state gear, or Canadian equipment that had a similar sound, that I owned. No, Eloise, I don't feel my tastes in music or equipment are poor. I have dwelt on both sides of the fence, and find this side greener, and I only wish others would give it a try. I admit, that to get parked in front of such a system for an audition is not as easy as going to the local boutique to hear the popular brands. Even if one can get an audition, it is no guarantee it will sound as it should. Another down side is that alot of this equipment is built one at a time, by hand, to order. The average consumer just does not possess the patience to wait. We live in the day of instant gratification, and because of that we miss out on some of the better things in life. I also wish that you and some others on this thread re-read my opening post. I made basically two points: 1) market trends, 2) my preference through experience. My motive is not to tear down anyone's system, but to inform them there is an alternative. Often the road less travelled has the best scenery, and the best treasures have to be dug for. Audio is no exception. Sadly, those who take this road are often labelled as weird and eccentric by the "normal" crowd who make up the vast majority.

 

Rob

 

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Rob, do you ever visit decware.com? I find Steve's articles very interesting and he shares your outlook on the audio journey all of us are traveling. We all take different paths and both of you have arrived at the same destination it seems. I'm glad you posted this, have a great day.

 

david is hear[br]http://www.tuniverse.tv

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She is not condemning you or your system or your position. I'm surprised that you feel she is victimizing you. Her points were not based on having to hear a Set amp with a one driver speaker. You should reread her statements and you should reconsider your own because she is treating you quite fairly.

 

I believe the essential point is that many audiophiles HAVE heard a tube amp powering a one driver speaker setup. Myself included. And the vast majority of that group prefer something else. (I don't think that SET amps have escaped the characteristic distortions of the other tube amps that I have heard) That is the informed choice that they are making. OTOH, others don't have to have heard it themselves to make a survey of those audiophiles to get their preference. When the vast majority say its not for them then one CAN make an informed decision on that basis. There is only a 10% chance that I am wrong and will fall into the group that likes tubes. Sadly, we can't experience most things in life yet have to make informed decisions, so we use the experience of others most of the time. But usually we listen to a handful of systems and find one that really moves us and we go for it. Gut decisions are often the best.

I think you are making the right choice for yourself as I am for myself.

 

Regards,

 

James[br]

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"OTOH, others don't have to have heard it themselves to make a survey of those audiophiles to get their preference. When the vast majority say its not for them then one CAN make an informed decision on that basis."

 

Icebreaker,

 

I believe your words above support Rob's point. :)

 

IOW, you two seem to be in agreement, yet have significantly differing views on people following the herd.

 

My issue with the 'herd mentality' is that a number of those that do (follow the herd) then attempt to support their decision by (as I said in an earlier post in the thread) 'dissing and dismissing' anything in contradiction to their choice, more times than not without even having listened to that which they oppose.

 

But hey, don't mind me, I'm just another fanatic, specifically a Mac -> Firewire -> Metric Halo DAC -> Kara Chaffee 6SN7 tube pre -> Nelson Pass Class A amp fanatic. ;) Soon I hope to be a John Devore fanatic, replacing the Audio Physic Virgos that John sold me years ago with similar speakers of his own creation, the Silverback or Super 9s.

 

clay

 

 

 

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The first time I heard tube amps with Quad ESL-57 and ESL-63 speakers I was blown away by the midrange purity, transparency, speed and low level detail. I knew then I had to have planar speakers, tubes and subs.

 

IMO tubes have always excelled in the midrange and solid state at the extremes. I used to love the Yin and Yang wars between Conrad Johnson and Audio Research tube amps. Many of my friends had tube amps from MCintosh or Marantz. Then I remember the inroads of companies like Mark Levinson that approached the tube-like qualities while excelling at the top and bottom extremes. But the best of the best was tubes and I was hooked from that day on.

 

And for me not SET amps, that I consider delicate and excellent for classical and jazz but not thunderous forms of music. I love dynamics, the puck of a string bass, the snap of a drum, I sometimes want to feel it in my stomach and when necessary shake the house. R&B, rock, reggae and soul.

 

I'm not knocking anyone for we all have preferences. Unfortunately the vast majority is into video and those who care about music and fine SQ are in the minority. I often use ice cream as an example of peoples preferences. I'm not a 31-flavor Bakins Robbins kind a guy. I really only like 3 flavors, chocolate, vanilla and Häagen-Dazs rum raisin. They're all very good to me and at times I enjoy each one separately or chocolate and vanilla together. But if I asked the CA readers here to post their favorites I expect to see many different preferences for ice cream just like for audio equipment.

 

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Ok, let me try to be somewhat dramatic this time;

 

For me it is always difficult to express what I feel, and I think I always mean well. Diplomacy is not always my best virtue, and when a post like my last isn't shot all over I sure am happy it wasn't taken wrongly. Doing this all in a language which is not your mother tongue, doesn't help either. Besides that, I think I know that American people should not ever try to learn good behaviour from at least the dutch, and I can only be ashamed when a US person enthusiastically tells me he wants to visit Hollland and where to go etc.; The polite queue standing UK is nothing compared to ever-inviting US, while UK queues could have been a standard for me for many years. Sorry UK, but it just can be outbettered.

 

Wow.

 

Vortecjr, this small introduction is actually about what you told about Steve N. and his recommendations, and what a stupid silly forum like this one can bring to the world, assuming this world tends to turn backwards, if not stopped by a few who really care. I could also use Gordon's words and say something like "it sucks you in", which I would agree upon.

 

Maybe because I stood up for Steve a little, maybe because of other reasons I don't know, indeed it is so that I learned about his recommendations about XXHighEnd. The way this came to me was not 100% positive though, because on onse side there were his recommendations, and on the other several people per week who bought a. one of his products and b. XXHighEnd awaitening the arrival of those products. Sadly though, those who received the product, instantly learned it did not work on XXHighEnd. I think I knew that from an earlier experience, but couldn't quite get what was going on here, because indeed it was Steve himself throwing out the advices. I think I even posted about this somewhere in here.

 

At getting all these "complaints", you can imagine that in the mean time I may feel flattered, but the only thing I could do was pointing back to Steve, because it was him who aparantly found his ways of getting his prodcuts to work, but the only thing I heard back was that he didn't use XX, so he could not help.

 

Yeah, read this again, and make something out of it. It doesn't make sense unless you are willing to think that someone may be paying back something, in the positive sense.

 

Well, instead of putting the problem aside with obviously no solutions except for pointing out that I really couldn't help it, I turned it upside down and thought to help Steve with his problem, assuming he just didn't know it wouldn't work. Read that two times too. :-)

I could agree with one of the customers that he would send the Empirical product from Canada to Holland, so I could at least try to solve the problem, which in the end is just a commercial thing for me at the same time of course. But this is not how I felt, and it is sure not how things like this got arranged for.

 

I can tell you right now I got it working, and although I just did, there's a small piece in the story I want to tell about just the same.

 

I couldn't get it working by myself. Too many combinations to try out and too many variables unknown. So I did something which can be counted on the fingers of one hand, ... I asked about this on a forum I put my chances on, and I received an answer I could work with and solve it in minutes. Now keep in mind, this is about a product from Steve, and the answer came from Gordon. Out of all, him.

 

So you see, it was this I was talking about in my earlier post without you knowing, and although there was an atmosphere about me, myself and I, it was really about you, you and you.

 

When people behave like this, this world isn't so bad afterall. It takes Giving though, and when that is the attitude, well, more people will be Giving. You might get something back one day. Don't desire it, just Give and have a good night of sleep.

 

Thank you all.

 

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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