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Audio reproduction is a matter of taste?


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7 minutes ago, Jud said:

 

Well, but here's the thing: It's a fact that in many of the components of our systems, making one aspect of the sound less distorted will make another aspect of the sound more distorted.  To my mind, this turns "accurately reproduces what's on the recording" into "reproduces what's on the recording with the forms of distortion that are less obnoxious to me."  And that's the way we go from absolute accuracy to taste.

 

Theoretical question: if you did hear a system with less distortions (no tradeoffs) than others you may have experienced so far, do you think you would even know ? 

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28 minutes ago, Jud said:

Well, but here's the thing: It's a fact that in many of the components of our systems, making one aspect of the sound less distorted will make another aspect of the sound more distorted.  To my mind, this turns "accurately reproduces what's on the recording" into "reproduces what's on the recording with the forms of distortion that are less obnoxious to me."  And that's the way we go from absolute accuracy to taste.

 

Not if the aspect of the sound that is made more distorted more accurately portrays what is actually on the recording. Then the result would be sound most likely to be perceived as more obnoxious, as is often the case with higher fidelity playback of poor recordings.

"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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2 hours ago, Iving said:

But if you asked me to identify Modern Jazz artists I'd not have even a starting point.

 

2 hours ago, bluesman said:

This is getting silly. 

 

Dunno what it is about this thread that seems to draw out disproportionate argumentum ad lapidem (the logical fallacy that dismisses an argument as untrue or absurd).

 

You say "silly".

 

May I offer a mild if double-barreled quid pro quo:

1. You extracted a very, very small and if anything dispensable part of my whole argument about familiarity - as if my focus was some kind of direct response to you - a rebuttal of the jazz guitar thing. But my post really is an attempt to depict familiarity as a common theme for reconciling our different angles on all this stuff. I am a person who consistently veers towards undiscovered common ground. And there is nothing "silly" about that.

2. You say to hopkins "Your continued misinterpretations and misrepresentations of what I keep saying tells me that I've failed miserably to make my point...at least, to you."

Irony everywhere!

 

Anyway - as you were.

 

Where's BassFace when you need him.

 

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My digital system is wired ethernet (RedNet/Dante) but strictly offline. I don't download or stream music from the internet.

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26 minutes ago, Allan F said:

 

Not if the aspect of the sound that is made more distorted more accurately portrays what is actually on the recording. Then the result would be sound most likely to be perceived as more obnoxious, as is often the case with higher fidelity playback of poor recordings.

 

Let's move from the theoretical to the specific:

 

- Does better imaging or slightly flatter frequency response throughout the audio band sound more realistic to you in a speaker?

 

- Does a faster (higher slew rate) amplifier or one with more limited bandwidth and thus lower IMD sound more realistic to you?

 

- Does a DAC with lower IMD or one with less group delay sound more realistic to you?

 

Of course appended to each of these questions are two sub-questions: (1) If you know, and (2) How much of these sorts of distortion are we talking about?

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 -> USPCB -> ISO Regen -> USPCB -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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6 hours ago, Kimo said:

I am listening to two different amps today.  One has ultra low distortion and an SNR of 126, fully balanced, ultra clean.  The other is a modern version of a traditional push/pull tube amp with respectable specs for its ilk.  The former was designed for optimal measurements using lateral mosfets.  The latter was designed to sound like real instruments.

 

Well, they don't sound exactly the same, but I expect if anyone were to be fooled into thinking that actual musicians were playing in the room, they would be fooled by the tube amp.

 

6 hours ago, Kimo said:

So, which is more accurate?  Perhaps, "accuracy" is a matter of taste.

 

The tube amp ... when the "ultra low distortion" unit is part of the replay chain, the latter either directly or indirectly allows the listener to be more aware of anomalies in the sound, which degrade the sense of realism. Directly, because in spite of those measurements the amp does in fact distort in audibly significant  ways, or, its presence in the chain impacts the other components, interferes in some manner, for example, by the current waveform on the mains ... indirectly, by the absence of noise which in the case of the tube amp with higher values of random noise helps to mask the disturbing anomalies, which are always present from the other components in operation - here, think of the value of dither in masking noticeable artifacts, 🙂.

 

If the presentation is subjectively more realistic, then it is more "accurate" - a beautiful girl can have lighting on her face which enhances her appeal; or, be set up to accentuate every imperfection of her complexion - now, which is the "more accurate" lighting 😉?

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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4 hours ago, Iving said:

Finally ... about that quip which makes fun of audiophiles supposedly using music to listen to their systems (instead of the other way around) ... one of my favourite recordings is Gene Vincent's "Roll Over Beethoven" from 'Town Hall Party' (1959). In audiophile terms it's a rubbish recording - as if made on an old tape machine held by someone at the back of the hall. I really don't care. If my expensive stuff got burgled or burnt - and the insurance company played hard ball - I'd still have mojo in my life. I wouldn't be concerned with "accuracy" or "realism" or "taste" or arguing the toss about this and that. Music first. Hi-Fi second.

 

 

 

Even though most audio people can't comprehend that such is possible, a system working to a very high standard will make the absolute most of a recording like this  - all the virtues of it, as in it being a capture of musicians having a great time, and being real people, will stand out; and all the technical issues will fade away, they will be 'masked' by what is of value, the live performance quality.

 

A truly accurate setup will do this with ease - anything less than such a standard is in fact sub-par in terms of accuracy ...

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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1 hour ago, Jud said:

 

Well, but here's the thing: It's a fact that in many of the components of our systems, making one aspect of the sound less distorted will make another aspect of the sound more distorted.  To my mind, this turns "accurately reproduces what's on the recording" into "reproduces what's on the recording with the forms of distortion that are less obnoxious to me."  And that's the way we go from absolute accuracy to taste.

 

That's how it seems a lot of the time ... luckily, there is an escape clause 😁 - a standard of accuracy exists which subverts that 'rule'; very, very few people reach it, which is why this principle is often mentioned. And the really good news is that the closer one gets to true, "absolute accuracy", the more that type of rule can be tossed out the window ... 🙂.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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18 minutes ago, fas42 said:

 

That's how it seems a lot of the time ... luckily, there is an escape clause 😁 - a standard of accuracy exists which subverts that 'rule'; very, very few people reach it, which is why this principle is often mentioned. And the really good news is that the closer one gets to true, "absolute accuracy", the more that type of rule can be tossed out the window ... 🙂.

 

Umm, not unless 2+2=5, because all I'm talking about here is math. Are there people very talented at working with the math? Sure. But no one's exempt from 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 -> USPCB -> ISO Regen -> USPCB -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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    •  
       On 9/12/2021 at 4:58 PM,  NOMBEDES said: 

    As I stated.  It is all taste driven. If you like it...it is good.  If you don't like it....it is not to your taste.  You can spend a lot of money, but taste wins every time.

     

    @Rexp:

     

     Strong augument you have there, 😂

     

     

     On 9/13/2021 at 2:07 AM,  John Dyson said: Trying to find 'perfection' seems to be futile and a waste of time for me.   I just want to enjoy the music without serious distractions.

     

    and then @bluesman SAID:   And that's the bottom line.  Truth be told, we have no idea what we're hearing by the time most recorded material hits our speakers unless the liner notes tell us.  For pure listening pleasure, most of us want to hear what we like to hear.  That may be specific instruments (e.g. a Fazioli, a Guarneri, or a DeAngelico New Yorker), genres played on "correct" instruments, etc.  It may be a specific sonic palette or a combination of other personal preferences.  But if it sounds good, it is good whether or not the reproduction is true to the recorded performance or the concept sought by the production staff

     

    @Bluesman and J. Dyson, express themselves better than I.   ~  Nombe  (no argument)

 

In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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1 hour ago, fas42 said:

 

 

The tube amp ... when the "ultra low distortion" unit is part of the replay chain, the latter either directly or indirectly allows the listener to be more aware of anomalies in the sound, which degrade the sense of realism. Directly, because in spite of those measurements the amp does in fact distort in audibly significant  ways, or, its presence in the chain impacts the other components, interferes in some manner, for example, by the current waveform on the mains ... indirectly, by the absence of noise which in the case of the tube amp with higher values of random noise helps to mask the disturbing anomalies, which are always present from the other components in operation - here, think of the value of dither in masking noticeable artifacts, 🙂.

 

If the presentation is subjectively more realistic, then it is more "accurate" - a beautiful girl can have lighting on her face which enhances her appeal; or, be set up to accentuate every imperfection of her complexion - now, which is the "more accurate" lighting 😉?

 

Or I could indulge in further masking behavior like scotch or bourbon...

 

I did see a white paper on tube amp noise and its beneficial effect on the PS Audio board.  The author noted that the key was in the voltage drive of the tube.  

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59 minutes ago, Jud said:

 

I know there are systems I've heard that have knocked me out, one at the last RMAF I'm thinking of in particular. Was that because it had levels of distortion so low they were inaudible to me, even subconsciously, fronted by speakers good enough that I didn't miss my Vandersteens? No idea - it could have been. 🙂 That's always a question for me: Do I think it sounds great to me because of low distortion, distortion that doesn't bother me, or even euphonic distortion? Since I don't have lab grade equipment to measure, I don't know the answer.

 

Yep, that's how it works ... "levels of distortion so low they were inaudible to me" - subconsciously, the ear/brain discards the remaining distortion, and you only hear the good stuff, 😉. Unfortunately, I have never come across anyone who has worked out how to measure the levels of performance, to give numbers which mean that it's going to work its trick - however, if you are lucky enough to have a rig which can flick between the states depending upon what you do, then you have a means which can be subjectively used.

 

50 minutes ago, Jud said:

 

Umm, not unless 2+2=5, because all I'm talking about here is math. Are there people very talented at working with the math? Sure. But no one's exempt from it.

 

The human brain doesn't work in a clean, clinical fashion - take almost any illusion, typically visual, which is regularly used to demonstrate how the observing mind can fool itself, even when the thinking brain knows the real story. In audio, you can exploit this, the "sweet spot" is an obvious one - now, simply improve everything until the "sweet spot" is never lost, no matter where you listen, and what you listen to - you're not breaking Laws of Physics, you're just taking advantage of the fact that the mind wants to make sense of everything ...

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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2 hours ago, fas42 said:

<snips>you're not breaking Laws of Physics, you're just taking advantage of the fact that the mind wants to make sense of everything ...

...and that's why short auditions, trying to hear the "realism" can be quite useless. The harder the mind has to work to 'make sense' the more fatigued it gets. 

 

As had been said, perfection (in audio reproduction) hasn't been achieved yet, so our preferences choose our music and our reproduction. I've heard very 'accurate' (according to others) systems where my favourite music was ruined, and others where I didn't want to turn it off.

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6 hours ago, Jud said:

 

Let's move from the theoretical to the specific:

 

- Does better imaging or slightly flatter frequency response throughout the audio band sound more realistic to you in a speaker?

 

- Does a faster (higher slew rate) amplifier or one with more limited bandwidth and thus lower IMD sound more realistic to you?

 

- Does a DAC with lower IMD or one with less group delay sound more realistic to you?

 

Of course appended to each of these questions are two sub-questions: (1) If you know, and (2) How much of these sorts of distortion are we talking about?

 

Jud, my post was not intended to debate the subject with you. Rather, it was intended to point out another possible scenario that is not merely theoretical. As I understand it, In your scenario the replacement of a component with one of lower distortion has the effect of increasing the distortion elsewhere in the system. In mine, the replacement of a component with one of lower distortion increases the transparency of the system, which may reveal a higher level of distortion present in the recording. Of course, my scenario is limited in scope to those recordings, whereas yours is presumably of general application. 

 

Apart from specifications, I don't know anyone who is aware of the actual level of distortion of their system that of its components.

"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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35 minutes ago, Allan F said:

...level of distortion of their system that of its components.

 

Oops. That should read, "level of distortion of their system or that of its components".

"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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3 hours ago, Allan F said:

That should read, "level of distortion of their system or that of its components".

You can actually measure the distortion level of a system with REW. Of course, this is the entire system, electronic components, speakers, room and I guess the actual microphone and computer you are using to take the measurements.

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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On 9/13/2021 at 9:34 PM, Jud said:

So now let me pose to you what will hopefully be a fun little challenge that may give you a notion of what people like @bluesman, @The Computer Audiophile and I have been talking about.  I'm hoping you have a music streaming service.  If you do, please bring up the Gillian Welch album The Harrow and The Harvest.  Now no fair peeking: In the 4th track, The Way It Goes, please tell me whether the guitar in the left channel is acoustic or electric, with effects or without, and how long into the track it took you to decide on your answer.

 

I listened to the track on my headphones and my speakers. I have no idea whether it is an acoustic guitar or an electric (but if so, certainly with effects) ! All I can say is that it sounds much better on my headphones than on my speakers (even listening "near field" to the left speaker). On my Etymotic headphones plugged in to my DAC there is noticeably less "distortion", in my humble opinion, than on my speakers - the sound is "crisp", the notes on the guitar (especially at the beginnning, later on the music is a little crowded) are more distinct, resonant, etc... Based on this track, and not knowing exactly which instruments are being played I can see the benefit of not going through interconnects, an amplifier, crossovers, etc and having a more "direct" sound. Of course, my speakers are not "high end", but I have conducted the same experiment at friends' with different speakers (obviously different tracks).

 

In summary: the "character" of the guitar, which ever model/type it may be, is enhanced when the resolution/accuracy is improved (to my ears).

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21 minutes ago, hopkins said:

 

I listened to the track on my headphones and my speakers. I have no idea whether it is an acoustic guitar or an electric (but if so, certainly with effects) ! All I can say is that it sounds much better on my headphones than on my speakers (even listening "near field" to the left speaker). On my Etymotic headphones plugged in to my DAC there is noticeably less "distortion", in my humble opinion, than on my speakers - the sound is "crisp", the notes on the guitar (especially at the beginnning, later on the music is a little crowded) are more distinct, resonant, etc... Based on this track, and not knowing exactly which instruments are being played I can see the benefit of not going through interconnects, an amplifier, crossovers, etc and having a more "direct" sound. Of course, my speakers are not "high end", but I have conducted the same experiment at friends' with different speakers (obviously different tracks).

 

In summary: the "character" of the guitar, which ever model/type it may be, is enhanced when the resolution/accuracy is improved (to my ears).

That’s a terrific endorsement for this all being a matter of taste. Without knowing what the instrument even is, you think the sound is much better through one system than another. Better is of course a matter of taste. 

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3 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Without knowing what the instrument even is, you think the sound is much better through one system than another

 

Absolutely, and I am not ashamed to say so. I am obviously having a very hard time explaining why, but I have tried not to simply say "better". Perhaps you could tell me how "distortion" sounds to you ?

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10 minutes ago, hopkins said:

 

Absolutely, and I am not ashamed to say so. I am obviously having a very hard time explaining why, but I have tried not to simply say "better". Perhaps you could tell me how "distortion" sounds to you ?

 

I think this is what we all do every day. We listen and decide which one sounds better. It's part of the fun of this hobby. 

 

We should first define distortion before discussing it further though. 

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Thank you so much, @hopkins, very much appreciated.  I will be busy for the next little while and back later with more to say, but for now let me clear up the mystery. (Note: I've seen David Rawlings playing this in concert, and it looked smaller to me than it appears from this picture.)

 

 

D380D90B-97E6-406C-9125-EFFA46A6A1D6.jpeg

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 -> USPCB -> ISO Regen -> USPCB -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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30 minutes ago, bluesman said:

Your disclaimer "to my ears" makes your statement that "In summary: the 'character' of the guitar, which ever model/type it may be, is enhanced when the resolution/accuracy is improved (to my ears)" incorrect because what you describe is highly inaccurate - and why you hear what you hear is unexplained.   A 1935 Epiphone archtop produces one of the purest, sweetest, undistorted acoustic guitar sounds you'll ever hear.  To the best of my knowledge, Dave Rawlings has never used any effect at all or any other processing based on harmonic distortion.   There are probably some post production processing effects like compression in the recording, but his guitar sounds pretty accurate to me on it.  I've owned and played multiple archtop acoustic guitars of that size, vintage, and construction - and Rawlings' is a real jewel.

 

I never said there was effect! I did not feel confident to choose, but said that if it were electric (note the "if so") it it would have lots of effect (to sound so close to an acoustic guitar). 

 

You are misinterpreting my comments to try to prove your point.

 

No need to emphasize anything in your reply as I mentioned I have absolutely no problem admitting that I don't know. 

 

When you compare equipment with this track - and here I could only compare speakers versus headphones - you can identify distortion, in my opinion, even if you don't know the exact instrument. Resolution, the sense of "smoothness" or continuity in notes, are things you can evaluate.

 

I am sorry you don't understand this, and I realize, once again, that I have a hard time explaining myself. Perhaps you have only heard highly distorted systems? 

 

my blog

 

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