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An Edifying Journey ...


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And something that shows how critical the state of tuning becomes, once a certain standard is reached ... later in the day, the Gene Krupa CD was played again - with the system not having been touched in between; the CD remained in the player the whole time, no other music was played in the interim ... and it was significantly better, to the ears!

 

Why? Bev noticed it too - an obvious answer was that it had been powered up the whole time, even though not playing anything; it could be as simple as that. But I have had other setups where the SQ degraded over time; and the components had to be switched off, and back on again, to recover the standard ... the DVD player I'm using powers down, automatically, after not running for a certain time - could this be the answer? Was it that the mains power just happened to be a bit 'nicer', after those hours?

 

Of course, there will be a reason - but it may require a lot of toing and froing to establish a clear linkage ... this is where things can get really messy; trying to nail what's going on - and it can be half a dozen or so factors which are all slightly varying which add up to giving an end result.

 

This can be frustrating! It can mean the difference between enjoying the music, or steadily getting annoyed as you listen, because some artifact is disturbing - if you 'know' it's not right, as you listen, then you can't simply "unknow" it - staring at some brilliant measurement figures, of the rig, while you listen is not going to help, one iota!! 🤪

 

Which is a good reason for optimising an system even when it sounds perfectly acceptable, most of the time - you are working to move it out beyond the state of critical tune, where the slightest shortfall somewhere is immediately noticeable. That is, the ability of the combo to produce capable SQ itself becomes robust - if something is not quite right, in that moment, for whatever reason, that it doesn't impact the subjective satisfaction of experiencing the captured event when, say, a 'difficult' recording is put on ...

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Just to confirm, tried the Gene Krupa on a cold start, next morning - reasonably pleasant, but muffled, smallish sound - as the gear warmed up, started to get edgy; brass choruses said it all - very, very ordinary; blurred and rough sounding, near the speakers ... I'm looking for a pattern here - can I pick the combination of factors that dictate the subjective impression of this album, as the playback progresses over some hours ...

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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OK, seems to be just a warmup issue, at first blush - by the end of that first play of the Krupa disk, it was sounding pretty awful; 2nd CD - for a break, something completely different; 3rd CD, back to the Krupa - first track, sort of okay, but nothing particularly endearing; but by the end of that play, it was getting pretty nice. Final try, again the Krupa album - right, now it's together - not much to complain about ...

 

So, 3 CDs, albums, to warm up; call it 3 hours or so of constant running - to get into a state where the SQ has stabilised, in a positive sense, for very marginal recordings ... I'll see how this works out as a rule of thumb, for further fine tuning exercises.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Next step, what is most important in this warming up - the DVD player, or, the active speakers? An obvious call, I would have thought - the digital speaker have so much going on inside of them, the player has only a minor role ...

 

Just to rule out the DVD unit being relevant, a simple experiment - power up, but leave the speakers switched off; the mains switch on the back not activated - and play 3 long CDs, with no sound happening ... okay, now, turn the speakers on ...

 

Gotta love "expectation bias" ... or not, 🤪. Yep, you guessed it - SQ was right on target, with the speakers, dead cold. Spot the Dog was working beautifully - no prob's, at all. The album was sounding as good as I've ever heard it ... . Just to cross check, next up the Gene Krupa - yep, all good; appreciating the energy of his drumming, why it was so special, was so easy to see.

 

So, what does that tell me? Well, completely opposite of what I expected, 😉; the player circuitry needs to stabilise - when all it has to do is pass an optical signal across. This means that the timing and shape of the optical waveform does change, enough to cause the speakers to be affected - of course, if the engineering of the optical receiving areas were better then I would hear no alteration - but I'll cut the Edifiers some slack, this time, 😉. There does remain the very, very slight chance that there is some RF coming from the DVD unit which changes as it warms up - but this is drawing a very long bow, IMO.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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There were hints yesterday that the active speakers were going through a phase of sounding worse as part of their warming up cycle - but things had to be done elsewhere; so I ran out of time to properly check this. Another complication is that it's raining quite a bit at the moment; the humidity could also be a factor.

 

So, I'm repeating the test from yesterday - to help confirm the pattern; and to observe more of the speaker's stabilising characteristics.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Interesting! I think I'm understanding better what's going on the warming up process for this current set of gear - the DVD player circuitry lends a laid back, somewhat dull and non detailed sense to the sound as it stabilises; but the Edifiers are at the other end of the spectrum - they are brash, somewhat PA in style, "over enthusiastic", when cold. Which means that when they both start from cold, they balance out to some degree; which is why this particular combo sounds good from switch on - there is a synergy to their start up characteristics; purely accidental in this case.

 

So, I don't actually have well sorted gear here, as regards sounding good from the get go - the reality is that it takes about 3 CDs of playing for the units to stabilise; for me to know more clearly what the long term behaviour is like.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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On 3/19/2021 at 4:33 AM, fas42 said:

Next step, what is most important in this warming up - the DVD player, or, the active speakers? An obvious call, I would have thought - the digital speaker have so much going on inside of them, the player has only a minor role ...

 

Just to rule out the DVD unit being relevant, a simple experiment - power up, but leave the speakers switched off; the mains switch on the back not activated - and play 3 long CDs, with no sound happening ... okay, now, turn the speakers on ...

 

Gotta love "expectation bias" ... or not, 🤪. Yep, you guessed it - SQ was right on target, with the speakers, dead cold. Spot the Dog was working beautifully - no prob's, at all. The album was sounding as good as I've ever heard it ... . Just to cross check, next up the Gene Krupa - yep, all good; appreciating the energy of his drumming, why it was so special, was so easy to see.

 

So, what does that tell me? Well, completely opposite of what I expected, 😉; the player circuitry needs to stabilise - when all it has to do is pass an optical signal across. This means that the timing and shape of the optical waveform does change, enough to cause the speakers to be affected - of course, if the engineering of the optical receiving areas were better then I would hear no alteration - but I'll cut the Edifiers some slack, this time, 😉. There does remain the very, very slight chance that there is some RF coming from the DVD unit which changes as it warms up - but this is drawing a very long bow, IMO.

You state the DVD player has a minor role.  In your case you are using it to feed S/PDIF (Toslink) to your Edifers.  With S/PDIF, the receiving device needs to extract the clock from the feed, so I would characterise the DVD player as having something just a little more than a minor role.  Audio clocks need time to stabilise.  So joining up the dots here, when you use the DVD player from cold, it is at least possible that what you are hearing are minor influences to the sound as the DVD player clocks stabilise.

 

I have an old DAB tuner that I use occasionally, this feeds my amp / DAC via Toslink.  From cold it sounds very poor, but improves with maybe half an hour of running time.

Windows 10 PC, Roon, HQPlayer, SOtM sMS-200Ultra, tX-USBultra, Paul Hynes SR4 (x2), Mutec REF10, Mutec MC3+USB, Devialet 1000Pro, KEF Blade.  Plus Pro-Ject Signature 12 TT for playing my 'legacy' vinyl collection.

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11 hours ago, Confused said:

You state the DVD player has a minor role.  In your case you are using it to feed S/PDIF (Toslink) to your Edifers.  With S/PDIF, the receiving device needs to extract the clock from the feed, so I would characterise the DVD player as having something just a little more than a minor role.  Audio clocks need time to stabilise.  So joining up the dots here, when you use the DVD player from cold, it is at least possible that what you are hearing are minor influences to the sound as the DVD player clocks stabilise.

 

I have an old DAB tuner that I use occasionally, this feeds my amp / DAC via Toslink.  From cold it sounds very poor, but improves with maybe half an hour of running time.

 

I'm playing devil's advocate here ... 😉. Yes, "everything matters" - but not to those who think that digital waveforms are not something to concern oneself with; especially if there is no direct electrical connection.

 

First time I've used a rig with a S/PDIF link ... which is highly likely the reason that I have less problems getting acceptable SQ, 🤣. Two considerations: how stable is the source optical waveform; and, how robust is the receiving system in handling variability of that waveform - I would prefer the receiving circuitry to be not affected at all by the "jitter" of the Toslink; but if it turns out that this is not the case, as here, then in the first instance I will simply use warm up time to help matters - as you do. Long term solutions could be getting a better way of extracting the CD data; or adding some optical buffer device in the Toslink area to improve the waveform characteristics.

 

Cheers!

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Still not together as the 4th play of the day - but, the CDs played so far have been short ... so, total time elapsed is the key - suggesting 3-4 hours is needed.

 

What's been gained at this point of play time is much more detail, much deeper acoustic - but the very 'congested' nature of this track has not yet properly unravelled ...

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Hmmm, some not so good feedback - I had my suspicions, that running for an extended period caused some slow build up of a, possibly static, condition which degraded the SQ - which is apparently inside the Edifiers. Confirmed by switching off, letting supplies drain, and switching back on again - all while the CD player continued playing, sending input via its optical cable ... immediately, quality restored.

 

Bummer!! ... This is an old story, one I've had to deal with for 35 years now - the original CD setup had it bad, only lasting about a quarter of an hour before going off song ... at least this time I'm getting many, many hours of acceptable sound - and I have a simple workaround, 🙃.

 

What's the cause - ummm, how long's a piece of string? ... Time to put the thinking cap on, and perhaps dive into the speakers themselves, for the first time - it could be something obvious, or, take ages to get an answer ...

 

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Thinking about it more, I may be lucky and find out that the build up of the degrading influence on the sound is due to something on the outside of the Edifiers - if I can get this behaviour to be moderated enough so that the SQ reaches a peak and only slightly tails off, over a day, then I can accept this, 🙂.

 

Would you believe, there are 5, yes 5!, stages of filtering used now for the mains supply to the speakers?!! Which could be simplified, and may eliminate the static issue - the wiring, etc, even if carefully organised, but very messy, visually, can still be the source of the interference - so, I'll try simplifying 🙃 🤣 that - improve the dressing, and overall organising and packaging of that; and see if that helps- as the next step.

 

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Have simplified a bit - nothing from a cold start noticeable - will see how it goes later in the day ...

 

On a compilation of Truck Drivin' songs, 😀, have comes across a track which certainly highlights how the SQ goes through a trough from the 2nd to 3rd CD, of the day,

 

 

This was sounding pretty bad - the lush arrangement was anything but lush - something to keep on the test track list ...

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Okay, that could have been a false alarm - found a cable that had come adrift from its attachment, just slightly; and touching the "wrong thing" - which was definitely throwing the SQ. Restored it to its correct position - very easy to pick the gain in quality, just by doing this.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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On 3/24/2021 at 12:28 PM, fas42 said:

 

 

This was sounding pretty bad - the lush arrangement was anything but lush - something to keep on the test track list ...

 

Because this was sounding bad, during warm up, I pulled out this,

 

R-11648117-1522468196-2887.jpeg?bucket=d

 

OK, this is an Engelbert Humperdinck voice, over a Vegas showroom full tilt backing, from probably a 20th generation tape! Aaannd, it can sound mighty sad! ... Which it did - as the first CD on the day 🙃 ... move it to the top of the stack!

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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4 hours ago, fas42 said:

 

 

R-11648117-1522468196-2887.jpeg?bucket=d

 

OK, this is an Engelbert Humperdinck voice, over a Vegas showroom full tilt backing, from probably a 20th generation tape! Aaannd, it can sound mighty sad! ... Which it did - as the first CD on the day 🙃 ... move it to the top of the stack!

 

And, a good result - played much, much later in the day. No, it can't recover from the 20th gen. copying losses - but the sound is clean enough to fully enjoy; the soaring strings are sweet enough to work their magic - sounds as good as I've ever heard it, in many areas.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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People have sometimes asked, why do I fuss about the gear to the level I do ... and here's why ...

 

Bought a bunch of CDs from a thrift, opportunity shop, a few days ago - works out at about $2 per disk. And one of them was one those, found everywhere now, 100 Favourite Classical Hits! By the local ABC, who are heavy into recording.

 

Last disk of the pack was all opera extracts; and this was the first time I've played it - even though the setup was right in the middle of the warming up flat spot, it was coming over beautifully ... Bev exclaimed a number of times, Brilliant! Had the usual suspects, Madame Butterfly, Figaro, and of course, the pot boiler at the end, Nessun dorma ... Bev clapped vigorously while it was fading away - because, there had been the magic of effortless, big music in the air.

 

Moments like this make it all worthwhile - the rewards are there, if the right efforts are made ...

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Right, something I've mentioned a couple of times - that I was getting a sense that at the end of a whole days playing that the SQ was not quite right. That notion has risen and fallen, and yesterday I deliberately ran solidly through the day to provoke that behaviour, if I could. 

 

And I chose an excellent album for the last round of listening - the late 90's remastering of Bowie's Diamond Dogs; this also happens to be the CD that I had to polish and polish, after picking it up for $2 at the thrift store a few days ago. Still not perfect reading - another polish will be needed, 🙂.

 

From previous years experience, these Bowie remasterings can be very edgy - the slightest issue in the replay is disturbingly obvious. As was the case now ... so, what were the suspects? This time, a switch off and back on again didn't pick up the sound - so, was it possibly other electrical devices running in the house still causing problems ... well, it was!! Doing the rounds confirmed that whether a particular cord was plugged in, or something was running did make a difference - in spite of so much already gained by the, by most standards, extreme isolating techniques used, so far.

 

Meaning, another round of experimenting with enhancing the filtering - the trade off is, the more the system stabilises, settles down, over a lengthy period, the greater the 'transparency'. Which unfortunately reveals yet deeper, more subtle levels of susceptibility to interference, etc, factors ...

 

Game on! 🙂

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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First test ... even though it seems ludicrous to do this, add yet another length of extension to the mains cable of the speakers - first impressions were that a bit was gained; but also that something was lost ... let it run until it became very clear that the SQ was going in the wrong direction. The extra cable was put in without taking full care in how it was set up - so, power down; and tidy up the extension bits ... also, found the mains cable of the DVD unit had managed to shift enough to be touching the wrong thing.

 

Yes! Definitely now in a good place; the big orchestral piece that had been showing a lacking earlier was now together again - huge depth and size to the acoustic. Bowie? Very much better - could be run at concert levels with very decent composure, now. The CD had had another polish - was this good enough, now? No - got to a spot where it started spluttering badly, again ... will need another try with the goo, to clear this, hopefully, last hurdle ...

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Bev's way of describing what the distortion does, that one gets with setups that haven't been tweaked enough, is, "It hurts my ears!" ... Yesterday, she exclaimed a number of times, that even though the volume was pretty hot, with Bowie, that she had no problems with this, at all - to her, it was much better than before - by contrast, to me, it was only a touch better. So, she's more sensitive to the SQ nasties than I am, at times ...

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

An overview of things at the moment ... at switch on from cold, there's a balance of the signature of the system, and the level of detail audible, which makes it good to listen to, straightaway - just about anything can be played, and it's just, pleasant ...

 

This changes as times ticks on - depending on the album playing an irkiness, an edginess, becomes apparent - which is probably at its worst around the end of the second, beginning of the third recording - if you just want to enjoy the listening, then picking the  'right' thing to play at this time is important. Then, after the third hour or so, very close to fully stabilising has occurred - and if everything is "just right" then it's pretty damn good! However, and it's a big "however", the level of detail is now so good, that even all the isolation tweaks I've applied so far are still 😒 not good enough to fully insulate the setup from interference - it's quite easy at this point to hear the impact of switching off, removing electrical consumer goods from the house circuits, with 'difficult' recordings - with it always being a benefit to make the house less electrically active. And it's still not clear how much is conductive noise, and how much is RFI ...

 

Which means, what? Well, first of all it's a bugger!! I'm aiming to develop a solution which is fully resistant to all, and every noise maker - and just like it has been in the past, this ... is ... hard!

 

The good news is, that this means that if one goes to extra mile that top notch SQ is available from the very low cost gear available to purchase, at the moment - however, lots of fiddling, and lots of little rules have to be followed to get it to happen - which many wouldn't put up with.

 

So, some more experimenting with improving the isolation methods will be done; before changing my approach to sorting things - the goal remains, that as the 'transparency' improves that any impact from external electrical noise is subjectively zero - it's pointless making things inside the boxes better, if this yields a system which is even more capable of revealing outside influences - this would be an exercise in frustration, for me at least ... it has to sound good, no matter what!

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Can small speakers go loud ... ummm, they can!

 

Yesterday, I was playing a well recorded pipe organ and orchestra, with the appropriate volume setting - so, higher, to make sure the dynamics to match a real life experience to some degree.

 

Then, foolishly put on my 'demo' CD by this mob, without touching the volume ...

 

 

Man, my ears were blasted! Ran for the volume control, to get it back to sanity ... which were a large number of clicks - this was runaway nightclub sound levels, not fit for any purpose ...

 

Wha' happened ... 🤒? Well, it was big band sound, and the first track starts with a full onslaught of all the instruments, punching out a crescendo. Next, it's a recent, professionally recorded CD; the quality of the sound was spot on ... but the phrase "recent, professionally" should give the game away - the sound engineers can't keep their hands off the compressors, these days - and these tracks are so tainted ... they are, LOUD.

 

Which is completely unnecessary, of course - a big band has so much grunt anyway, that these 'tricks' are pointless - one day, as an exercise, I will 'remaster' this album; and restore normal dynamics to the mix - the playing is good enough to make such an exercise worth while.

 

But, at one point the reason for this sort of manipulation sorta made sense - I had the volume down, right down; but the track still "cut through" - even at minuscule volumes, there was bite and impact to what one heard - which if you have gear which can only do decently, at those sort of volumes, means that it still can convey the thrust of the piece ...

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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