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You Know You Really Have Something When Your Stereo....?

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Probably the members whose systems are in the top 10% performance wise on here are best fit to chime in, since they have qualities that lesser systems don't. But what are some sure signs that you notice, when your audio system is really and definitely beginning to reach for the stars performance wise? I will give a thing or two I noticed as I go along, responding to the conversation in this thread. Here are a few to start.

 

 FLOOR TO CEILING IMAGING: even with instruments and voices on the extreme left and right. With less exceptional equipment the image tends to have more image height in the middle, where the identical left and right channel vocal information mix so the singer sounds like they are positioned dead center.. Much harder to achieve floor to ceiling image height on the sideas versus in the middle.

 

BIG BASS: the size of a bass guitar sounds like it is pretty much floor to ceiling also, instead of a smaller sound riding on the bottom of the rest of the music, and you can hear all kind of texture to the notes also. Some people don't believe there can be open sounding bass, but there is.

 

 ECHOES GALORE: Not just from the singer or loud instruments but quieter subtler instruments like wood blocks, even while lots of other instruments are playing. If your system is truly high resolution, its amazing how many little echoes you begin to hear in the music. 

 

 PANNING: Where before you heard an instrument on the left and then hear it again on the right, like a deep drum. Now you can hear the continuity better and that the instrument is actually often panning from left to right; on rock records mostly. The in between of its journey is clearer and you can hear the instrument moving from left to right or vica versa. Studio manipulation effects like that become more fun and easier to hear and make out.

 

 What are some things you notice if your system is way up there?

 

 

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All that but that's because I am not constrained by two-channel sources or two-channel playback.


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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The major thing for me is that the speakers become completely, acoustically invisible ... of course this always happens to some degree, with decent setups, when you are in the "right spot". But this can go "all the way" - the best description is that if one were to wear a blindfold, and be allowed to wander all over the room, even to within inches from directly in the front of one of the speakers ... you would never be able to point to the drivers, and say, that's where the sound is coming from, right there!

 

My first high performing rig, 35 years ago, did this, completely out of blue - and blew me away when it happened! The "miracle" evaporated after a fairly short time, but could be repeated whenever I felt in the mood - hence the next decades were spent trying to get a handle on this, 🤪.

 

Evolving a system is the steady working towards a 'cleanness' of reproduction which allows the mind to play this trick on itself - along with being invisible all the other good things happen, especially a sense of complete immersion in the soundscape.

 

Current active speakers are on their way - sound stage is completely "out of the box", but if you get close to them, it's still obvious they are what's producing the sound. The goal is to see if they can be pushed to perform the disappearing act, also ...


Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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5 hours ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

FLOOR TO CEILING IMAGING

I started a thread on that some time ago.

 

5 hours ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

BIG BASS

I have a full range speakers but what is more important to me is what you call 'bass openness' and I call bass speed, the 'go and stop factor' with ability to resolve bass textures and detail. I would always sacrifice low end extension for this. I'm very happy my current speakers do both but many are surprised how 'little' bass my two 60kg subs with 13in drivers produce..

 

5 hours ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

little echoes

Reverb to put it simply. For me it's also a question of air around instruments. Their own acoustic space.

 

Next come:

Sounstaging - the depth factor (ability to hear the sounds coming from the places 20m behind speakers line), width (also the aspect of sounstage reaching outside the speakers) and sounstaging precision.

Timbral truth and richness (how different timbrally is Cannonball's alto from Trane's tenor or different drums of a drum set or different violins, pianos etc and do they sound like a tenor, alt, etc).

Rhythmic ability - not only bass speed but also in general the 'speed' of system's sound.

The question of transients, micro and macro dynamics.

Detail. Smooth, not tiresome detail (e.g. making differences between 16bit and hi res source materials obvious).

The ability to create the illusion of physical presence of real instruments in (or outside actually) the listening room.

 

Think I have listed the most important things.

 


What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well.
It helps men to rise above themselves.
 
  ―  Albert Camus, The Plague.

 

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Many!!! years ago I was speaker shopping and waiting for the audition room to be free.

 

The room I was in had a set of AR3a speakers set up with the sound coming from a local FM station. I can't count the number of times I turned around to see who was speaking behind me—it was that 'live'.

 

(I couldn't afford the 3a but did buy the 2ax.)

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I could be overlooking something, but with all the discussions, has anyone mentioned room acoustics as a possible cause. AR 3  speakers have been describes as reverberant field speakers.

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23 minutes ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

I could be overlooking something, but with all the discussions, has anyone mentioned room acoustics as a possible cause

I did in a related thread.


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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Thanks Kal.

 

SOUNDS LAST LONGER : Things like struck triangles go on for seconds longer as their decay hovers in the air before disappearing. 

 

 

END OF TRACKS:  Think you know  the last note on the fade of favorite much played tracks? There are "more" notes before it totally fades into the between track silences. Wow!

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That you really need to wait for applause NOT to emerge at the end of the track, to finally know it was a studio recording.

Believe it or not.

 

The echos I agree fully with. I have recordings which so extremely fill the room with sound, that it's too crazy to be true (and I know it wasn't so before).


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My measure "forever" is about standing waves. For years already none can be detected in any corner or position in the room (I let auditioners always test this) and as soon as something re-appears regarding this, I know something is amiss.

 

Btw, this is not only about low frequency standing waves, as "any" higher frequency is even more annoying (this buzzes).

Notice that this won't really be something which people recognize; you are just used to it. Unless of course, you encountered the transition from buzzing" sound to none, regarding this.

 

I hear ya. Room-treatment;

a real fine system can do with way less room-treatment than you thought ... (in the end it deadens).


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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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Last one from my hand (I think): ultimate transparency (= neutrality). From day one in this business I couldn't stand two tracks sounding similar (let alone two different albums from the same band, let alone even more albums from different artists). N.b.: This relates highly to mentioned "buzzing" because that is a clear flavor.

 

Everyone using our gear knows what I am talking about. And the result ?

... Try to find even one smallest expression of customers of how things sound; only the very first DACs could encourage for telling something about the sound, but already the first incarnation with USB interface would show nothing about that. A 6 moons review ? you can look it up. Nothing about "how it sounds". There just is no sound when doing things a kinda right in this world.

This counts for each of our products because I just don't want them to make sound as such.

 

So the very key element of the "better" system is: it should not put its own flavor over your music. Not your system and also not its underlying elements (no tweaks to solve issues).


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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Transparency and accurate reproduction of timbre. The former allows revelation of the latter. Instruments, especially acoustic ones, are easily identified for their particularly unique sound. Especially combined with superior PRaT (Pace, Rhythm and Timing), the quality that results in both unconscious and automatic foot tapping in response to certain music.


"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted"- William Bruce Cameron

 

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On 5/23/2020 at 2:46 PM, Kal Rubinson said:

All that but that's because I am not constrained by two-channel sources or two-channel playback.

Only have two ears, dude! 

 

Multi-channel makes for an interesting effect, but, to be provocative, that's exactly what is - an effect.  

 

Oh yeah, I remember SQ Quadraphonic. 

 

Edit:  Is that a Goorin Bros. fedora?  Maybe we need another forum.

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51 minutes ago, SJK said:

Only have two ears, dude! 

 

Multi-channel makes for an interesting effect, but, to be provocative, that's exactly what is - an effect.  

 

Oh yeah, I remember SQ Quadraphonic. 

 

Edit:  Is that a Goorin Bros. fedora?  Maybe we need another forum.

 

Now you're in for it. Tell him why it doesn't matter that he only has two ears, Kal. I'll watch from behind a tree.

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52 minutes ago, SJK said:

Only have two ears, dude! 

That's a silly red herring!

52 minutes ago, SJK said:

Multi-channel makes for an interesting effect, but, to be provocative, that's exactly what is - an effect.  

No, it is a fuller and more accurate representation than 2 channel stereo.  Hearing sounds from around and behind with a 2 channel is an effect.

54 minutes ago, SJK said:

Oh yeah, I remember SQ Quadraphonic. 

I do, too, but that is irrelevant. 

55 minutes ago, SJK said:

Edit:  Is that a Goorin Bros. fedora?  Maybe we need another forum.

Yes.


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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2 minutes ago, ARQuint said:

Now you're in for it. Tell him why it doesn't matter that he only has two ears, Kal. I'll watch from behind a tree.

Y'know, Andy, I am fed up with that tired and ignorant canard.  It no longer deserves comment.


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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6 minutes ago, Kal Rubinson said:

Y'know, Andy, I am fed up with that tired and ignorant canard.  It no longer deserves comment.

 

I know how you feel.

 

Fortunately, there's this. At RMAF 2018, Kal and I (and Brian Moura of Native DSD) participated in a seminar on multichannel for interpid audiophiles. Here's the link:

 

 

54 minutes, you say? What else do you have to do?....

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Funny That's it.


What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well.
It helps men to rise above themselves.
 
  ―  Albert Camus, The Plague.

 

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15 minutes ago, Kal Rubinson said:

That's a silly red herring!

No, it is a fuller and more accurate representation than 2 channel stereo.  Hearing sounds from around and behind with a 2 channel is an effect.

I do, too, but that is irrelevant. 

Yes.

I don't think there's any right or wrong in how anyone would like to experience music playback in their home.  

 

I grew up with two channel, and quite frankly that's all I know. 

 

I do recall visiting with a friend who had installed a multi-channel setup and unfortunately insisted on playing it painfully loud.  It may have had positive attributes, but once you hit the "I'm going deaf over here" threshold it isn't music anymore.

 

With all the time and effort I've given towards a two channel soundstage with accurate positioning of time, space and depth of the recording I have absolutely no idea of how to even begin with a multi-channel setup.  

 

Perhaps you could write an article that you could share with us?

 

In closing, and certainly not music related, any man who wears a Goorin Bros. fedora is a man who knows what matters.  

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33 minutes ago, SJK said:

I don't think there's any right or wrong in how anyone would like to experience music playback in their home.  

 

I grew up with two channel, and quite frankly that's all I know. 

 

I do recall visiting with a friend who had installed a multi-channel setup and unfortunately insisted on playing it painfully loud.  It may have had positive attributes, but once you hit the "I'm going deaf over here" threshold it isn't music anymore.

 

With all the time and effort I've given towards a two channel soundstage with accurate positioning of time, space and depth of the recording I have absolutely no idea of how to even begin with a multi-channel setup.  

 

Perhaps you could write an article that you could share with us?

 

In closing, and certainly not music related, any man who wears a Goorin Bros. fedora is a man who knows what matters.  

 

Kal had a column called "Music in the Round" for 16 years in Stereophile. You can read many of them on the Stereophile web site for free—KR "retired" from producing the column after 100 installments last Fall. And do have a look at the video, linked above—Kal specifically addresses the "two ears" canard.

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9 hours ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

Thanks Kal.

 

SOUNDS LAST LONGER : Things like struck triangles go on for seconds longer as their decay hovers in the air before disappearing. 

 

 

END OF TRACKS:  Think you know  the last note on the fade of favorite much played tracks? There are "more" notes before it totally fades into the between track silences. Wow!

 

Over the years I've noticed a common distortion problem with digital setups - that they simply discard the low level detail; in terms of transparency, they may as well have been playing 8 bit encoded recordings. I'm not quite sure what's actually going on the circuitry that makes this happen - if one knows a recording well, this can make for a quite disturbing listening experience, 🙂.

 

Ohh, another sign ... that you can play a recording that audiophiles are unanimous about as being a "bad recording" - and it's pretty bloody marvellous! Just gave Adele 21 a spin yesterday on the new rig, and after a scare because a tweak was not in order, it scored a tick.

 


Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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1 hour ago, SJK said:

I don't think there's any right or wrong in how anyone would like to experience music playback in their home.

Agreed.  It is too personal.

1 hour ago, SJK said:

I grew up with two channel, and quite frankly that's all I know. 

That's fine.  So did I and I was truly fortunate to have been exposed to multichannel in a way that few others have.  As part of a review, Meridian installed a 5.0 system (electronics and speakers) in my own home and set it up properly.  The experience was transforming.  Now, there is no turning back.

1 hour ago, SJK said:

Perhaps you could write an article that you could share with us?

I've done a hundred of them.

1 hour ago, SJK said:

In closing, and certainly not music related, any man who wears a Goorin Bros. fedora is a man who knows what matters. 

I love 'em.  I hate that I will have to buy my next one on-line because I so enjoy the in-shop experience.


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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3 hours ago, SJK said:

Only have two ears, dude! 

 

Multi-channel makes for an interesting effect, but, to be provocative, that's exactly what is - an effect.  

 

Oh yeah, I remember SQ Quadraphonic. 

 

Edit:  Is that a Goorin Bros. fedora?  Maybe we need another forum.

 

 Perhaps you never heard Neil Diamond's 'Hot August Night" via a logic steered SQ Quadrophonic System ?:)


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1 hour ago, ARQuint said:

 

Kal had a column called "Music in the Round" for 16 years in Stereophile. You can read many of them on the Stereophile web site for free—KR "retired" from producing the column after 100 installments last Fall. And do have a look at the video, linked above—Kal specifically addresses the "two ears" canard.

ARQuint,

 

Thanks for that.  I'll check it out.  I don't know that in my humble abode I will be able to setup a multi-channel playback system but I'll never stop learning about new things.  

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