Jump to content

jabbr

  • Content Count

    7871
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Country

    United States

Reputation Activity

  1. Like
    jabbr reacted to The Computer Audiophile for an article, Amazon Music HD Is Still Lossy   
    Just over one year ago Amazon launched its Amazon Music HD streaming service. Many people uninterested in the success of small businesses and good customer service cheered the new offering from the 1.7 Trillion dollar company. At the time Amazon's $14.99 per month plan was the lower than all the other lossless or above music services. Not long after Amazon launched, Qobuz matched its pricing and now offers a $14.99 /month plan and $24.99 /month family plan. Let's take a look at Amazon Music HD, one year later. 
     
    I've been an Amazon Music HD subscriber since day one and have used the service off and on since signing up. Most of this use has been on my mobile phone or desktop. There just aren't many options for listening in another way, such as integration with Lumin, Aurender, Auralic, JRiver, Roon, etc... Given that Amazon is notoriously difficult to work with, it's no surprise that we have so few options. One year on, the landscape is still Sonos, Bluesound, and Denon HEOS (I'm sure people will let me know if I missed any). 
     
    The limited number of options for playback isn't a showstopper in and of itself because many audiophiles use computers directly attached to their HiFi systems. A USB cable between the computer and one's system is all that's required and Amazon Music HD will send along its highest quality. 
     
    What is Amazon Music HD's highest quality? I started testing where I always start testing, with bit perfect playback. If a service or app can't output bit perfect audio, then I have big problems because I don't know where the losses are happening and how big the losses are. The quick and dirty truth is that I can't play bit perfect audio from Amazon Music HD on Windows 10, macOS Catalina (10.15.7), or a Sonos Port using coaxial S/PDIF digital output. 
     
    I can match the sample rate of the audio sent from Amazon Music HD, but the stream or the file is being altered somewhere before it hits my house. In other words, when Amazon says it's playing a 24 bit / 96 kHz file, I can get my DAC to say 24/96, but the stream doesn't pass bit perfect testing. 
     
    Note: Not to toot my own horn, but I've been around the bit perfect block a few times and understand what's required to obtain bit perfect playback. If there is something special about Amazon Music HD, that isn't required for Qobuz and Tidal, I'd appreciate someone pointing it out to me. These other apps played bit perfect when I ran them through the exact same tests this morning. 
     
    Furthermore, the Amazon Music HD applications for Windows and macOS will not change the same rate automatically. For example, if I set Windows 10 to output 24/96 audio and set it to give exclusive access to Amazon Music HD, the music will always be output to my DAC at 24/96. Even though Amazon says the file is 16/44.1 or 24/192 etc..., the Amazon Music HD app can't change the sample rate of the audio output. This is problematic for people who think they are streaming what Amazon calls Ultra HD, but are really listening to a CD quality stream because that's what their computer is set to play. Apps that take control of the sample rate have been around for over a decade. There's no excuse to advertise and offer content at multiple sample rates, yet require users to manually change their control panel / audio midi settings between tracks just to hear the native quality. 
     
    It's hard for me to even think about looking further into Amazon Music HD as an option for people who care about sound quality and customer service. The company has had one year to fix issues, but based on its responses to users' request for these basic features, I won't hold my breath that the service or app will improve. There really isn't a reason to look at user interface and catalog if the company can't even stream the lossless audio it advertises. 
     
    One last note. I'm sure some people have seen the newly announced partnership between Amazon and Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group to release new high resolution remasters of albums from Eagles, Marvin Gaye, Nirvana, Tom Petty, Diana Ross, Linkin Park, J. Cole, Waylon Jennings, Ramones, 2 Chainz, Lady Gaga, The Notorious B.I.G., Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, and more. While this may seem like a good thing, I'm unfortunately not optimistic. It isn't often that remasters actually sound better when created for the masses. I hope those in this partnership don't cross the audio DMZ and cause the loudness wars to flare up once again. 
     
    Last week, and again this morning, I went looking for these new remasters. I was able to see some of the albums because Amazon placed a convenient link to them on the Amazon Music HD app's main page. This link is no longer on my main page, so I went searching. What I found is a soup sandwich. For example, I looked for Nirvana remasters and found a single album labeled Remastered. I clicked into Nevermind (Remastered) and hoped to see an indication that this was the new remaster touted in all the press releases. Unfortunately the only date I can find on this album is "copyright 2011 Geffen Records." This is the same as the Deluxe remaster released in 2011 for the albums's anniversary. Think this is a one-off issue? Think again. I went through many other releases and found the same thing. There's no way to tell if an album has been newly remastered unless you find a link from Amazon, stating it's the new remaster, to the album. Even those albums have incorrect dates on them however. 
     
    And finally, these new remasters are exclusives to Amazon Music HD. Say what you want about exclusives, but I hate them. Dan Mackta, the Qobuz USA Managing Director, believes these exclusives won't last forever and we should see the new remasters come to other services in due time.
     
    As it stands today, one year after launching, Amazon Music HD isn't for anyone who cares about customer service,  audio quality or about using streaming services through integrations with numerous hardware and software vendors. If things change I'll be happy to reevaluate Amazon Music HD. For now I highly recommend Qobuz as the number one choice for streaming lossless high resolution audio. 
     
     
  2. Like
    jabbr reacted to The Computer Audiophile for an article, What Does It Actually Sound Like?   
    We frequently hear audiophiles proclaim they know what instruments sound like and thus by extension if a component is reproducing that instrument correctly or incorrectly. I've always thought such talk was rubbish because not only do different versions of instruments sound different (ask a violinist if the Molitor Stradivari sounds different from the Lord Wilton Guarneri del Gesù), but the microphones used to record these instruments have a huge impact on the final sound. What's more, the placement of the microphone(s) has a huge impact on the final sound reproduced in one's home system.
     
    How are we as audiophiles and music lovers supposed to have any idea what something is "supposed" to sound like? Pianist, composer, producer, arranger, co-founder of Chesky Records, co-founder and CEO of HDtracks, David Chesky has created a one of a kind "album" demonstrating the impact of microphones, and microphone placement, on a recording. Blumlein, mono, stereo, omni, ribbon, wide, close, etc... it's all there for the ears to listen to and learn what a recording engineer's decisions, with respect to microphones, do to a recording. Plus, it was all recorded in typical Chesky style in 24/192, with great musicians in a great venue. 
     
    The "album" is available now from HDtracks AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, and WAV at 16/44.1, 24/96, and 24/192. 
     
    Use the following code for Audiophile Style readers to get 25% off MICSCPU

    https://audiophile.style/drchesky
     

    From Chesky Records:
     
    Dr. Chesky is fascinated by audiophiles who obsess about the sound of their cables, AC power, magic rocks, or isolation stands, but rarely consider the choices of microphones engineers use to make recordings! The microphones are, after all, the first transducers in the recording chain. Their impact can’t be understated. Then there’s the question of how the microphones are placed in relationship to the instruments and vocalists -- everything makes a difference.
     
    With that in mind, Dr. Chesky went into the vault and pulled some of his favorite microphones and LARS (the binaural head) and recorded a singer and a band playing the same tune over and over again.
     
    Now it’s your turn -- listen over your audio system or pop on headphones, and check out the sounds from our binaural, Blumlein, and spaced-omnidirectional microphones. Enjoy!
     
     
     
  3. Upvote
    jabbr reacted to The Computer Audiophile for an article, Editorial: What's Wrong With You?   
    I'm not a fan of writing editorials because this site isn't about me or any ministers of information. It's about the community and everyone who has helped, over the last 11 years, create what this site is today. Perhaps a couple forum posts have irked me enough to need this cathartic outlet. 
     
    Anyway, what's wrong with you? If you listen to people online or at audio shows you'll think you need medication quickly. Since I started this site I've often wondered what's up with all the audiophile hatred, judgement, and categorization. It usually takes this form:
     
     
    Audiophiles like gear more than music. Audiophiles don't listen to music, they listen to gear. Audiophiles are always looking for the next piece of gear. Audiophiles are foolish because ... There's music audiophiles and gear audiophiles.  

    Wait what? Why do people care? I submit that if you're judging people by their motives for increasing their own enjoyment in life, if you're categorizing groups of people based on what they enjoy, or if you just dislike audiophiles, then you're the one with issues. There's nothing wrong with issues, I have plenty, but stop projecting yours on to audiophiles. 
     
    The ole gear loving audiophile "just doesn't like music" thing. Again, who cares? I don't care at all if someone is happy collecting HiFi gear. Jay Leno owns 150 cars including a 1994 McLaren F1 valued at $12,000,000. Oh the horror. What a loser, he must just love cars and not the experience of driving them like all the people with pure motives for purchasing cars. Only kidding. Who cares if he has 150 cars and some that are priced outrageously? I bet it isn't the same person who cares about audiophile motives because cars are cool man (said tongue in cheek).
     
    When I first started writing about HiFi I was told by a publisher that he knew a guy with six CDs and a million dollar system. This million-dollar-system-guy was the butt of many jokes and was even blamed for many problems in HiFi. Heck, this specific publisher had an infatuation about guys like this and always talked about himself as being "in it for the music man." As if there should be a podium for music loving audiophiles that anyone else who enjoys this hobby equally or more shouldn't even look at. 
     
    In fact, the snobbish level of people who view themselves as superior audiophiles because they like music more than gear is no different than the people who just rail against audiophiles for the heck of it. 
     
    Then there's the infamous Alan Parsons quote.
     
    "Audiophiles don't use their equipment to listen to your music. Audiophiles use your music to listen to their equipment."
     

    Talk about pompous. Sure, we can purchase his works of art, but god forbid if we listen to them in a way he doesn't approve or for reasons with which he doesn't agree. Who cares if what he says is true for some people? Who is anyone to judge how others have fun in life. I feel very excited for people who increase their enjoyment in life through HiFi. Whether that's because of a gear fascination or music fascination of a combination of the two. If you're happy, I'm happy for you. 
     
    This also brings up the black or white issue. As if audiophiles can only be gear enthusiasts or the so-called better audiophiles, the music enthusiasts. Like politics and the endless objective / subjective debates, there's a continuum on which audiophiles land. On one end is the gear junky and on the other end is the music junky. Based on no objective data, I'm willing to bet most audiophiles fall more toward the center than the extreme poles. I don't care where one is on this continuum, but let's not succumb to those who like to categorize us as music or gear or music first, gear second. The world is gray, many of us like both well designed audio components and well played music. 
     
    Speaking go well played music, do you only listen to Scottish nose whistle recorded at 32/384 or DSD1028? If you're happy doing that, I'm happy for you. Wasting precious brain cycles to think about or judge someone in the Scottish nose whistle camp is the epitome of foolishness. Life is too short. Crank some Rage Against the Machine and move on.
     
    Oh shoot, I forgot Rage isn't a certified group for the other end of this preposterous judgmental spectrum. Like the dealer who laughed at me because I purchased MartinLogan ReQuest speakers to play Pink Floyd when I was fresh out of college in 1999. That's a great way to win over new customers and encourage a younger audience to value and understand dealer markup. Yeah right. That's perhaps a story for another editorial that I'll never write. 
     
    OK, lastly before I get off my editorial soapbox, why do people also care about audiophiles who value fine craftsmanship, made in country ABC production, and limited editions of products? When it comes to cars, watches, houses, or even alcohol that goes down the hatch only to be pissed out an hour later, all the elements of craftsmanship are highly desirable. It's even OK to love the bottle in which one's Booz is transported. However, when it comes to audio, if you like the big McIntosh meters or the copper D'Agostino amplifiers or the bling of Mbl, you're somehow a lesser audiophile not worthy of those who value music first. 
     
    I say bring on the bling, bring on the breadboards, bring on the Patricia Barber, and bring on the Beatles. It doesn't matter to me what you like or why you like it. I don't believe it should matter to anyone else either. Gear collector? Fine with me. Music collector? Fine with me. Both? I hope you live in a big house. 
     
    I'll close with a quote from Sheryl Crow, "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad."

    P.S. Along similar lines is the judgement of those who spend "outrageous" amounts of money on HiFi components, by people in the same music first group (not all but some). Speakers that cost $250,000 or even $700,000. Amps that cost $100,000 or $250,000. I can hear it now, you can get better performance for a fraction of the price! Let me repeat, who cares? It's the buyer's money to spend however she wants. I certainly don't want someone going through all my receipts and telling me I could've purchased far better peanut butter for less money. I can't afford a million dollar system, but I don't care if you can. I enjoy finding bang for the buck products, but I don't care if you don't enjoy the same.
     
    P.P.S Where am I on this continuum? Smack in the middle. I love great gear designs, both inside and out, both cosmetic and electrically engineered, and I love music. I'll take Pearl Jam on an AM radio if that's all I can get, but on a beautiful HiFi system that sounds spectacular, all is right with the world. 
     
     
     
     
     
  4. Like
    jabbr reacted to The Computer Audiophile for an article, Audiophile 5: Sonore opticalRendu in 5 Minutes   
    Episode 2 of our new video series called Audiophile 5 is now available. In this episode we cover the new and highly anticipated Sonore opticalRendu. A full written review will follow this video shorty, we just need to put more time in listening to music and using the device.
     
    From the manufacturer:
     
    "The opticalRendu utilizes an SFP fiber optic transceiver at its input to provide 100% galvanic isolation from the network and USB audio output. The opticalRendu has linear power regulation, CPU circuit design with femto clocking, USB circuit design with femto clocking, and a network circuit design with femto clocking. This unit utilizes SonicOrbiter for its operating system like all previous Rendu products."
     
    Products Mentioned in the video:
    Sonore opticalRendu - LINK
    Sonore systemOptique Starter Kit - LINK
    Sonore 7V 15W Linear Power Supply - LINK
     
    Ubiquiti UniFi Switch 8 (150W) - LINK
    Ubiquiti SFP Modules (UF-SM-1G-S) - LINK
    Single Mode LC to LC 10 Meter Fiber Cable - LINK
     
    Audiophile 5 is a series about you, not us, where we cover products and topics that interest you. And, we do it all in 5 minutes. We hate long videos as much as the next guy because time is the most valuable thing have. We don't like to waste it hearing about what the talking-head had for breakfast and what he and his significant other did last night. If you like that kind of stuff, fine. It just isn't us. We much prefer the slogan, all killer no filler.
     
    Note: This is our second video in the series. Please be patient as we continue to develop the concept, improve the quality, and fix some issues. We can't wait for you to see what's next. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you're so inclined, here.
     
     
    P.S. You may want to watch it on YouTube for the full cinematic effect. 
     
     
  5. Thanks
    jabbr reacted to mitchco for an article, Kevin Schmidt: We Are the Robots Exhibit Review   
    Archimago, myself, and our lovely wives met up at the Vancouver Art Gallery where we viewed and listened to Kevin Schmidt’s: “We Are the Robots” exhibit. The exhibit runs to Oct 28, 2018. It is an incredible audio visual experience!
     
    Words and pictures can only convey so much of the experience, so I made three binaural recordings to share the audio experience. 
     
    Listening to binaural recordings over headphones puts you in the room, listening to the exhibit.
    I first became aware of Kevin’s exhibit via a thread on diyAudio forum. Needless to say, as a diyAudio member, I had to experience the exhibit.
     
     
     
    Reaching out to the Gallery’s Communication Specialist, we arranged a time when our group could visit the exhibit. An interview was arranged with Kevin and I chatted with him just before making my way there.
     
    I asked Kevin if those were Nelson Pass KleinHorns. “Yes, I found Nelson’s plans on the Internet and tried to replicate them using the dimensions as best as possible.” I asked why these speakers. “They are ridiculously big.” He found it interesting that the entire architecture of the huge horn is designed to boost the low frequency response of the Lowther DX55 full range driver. What makes the design of this driver unique is its fast transient response with an equally fast damping factor, at the expense of low frequency extension. This is where the huge horn comes into play.
     
    There are easier ways to design for low frequency response in a much smaller enclosure, but usually with bigger speaker drivers. That’s the difference, as the magic is in this small, full-range driver. However, it requires this size of horn length and mouth to extend the low frequency response down to 40 Hz. The quality of the bass sound is as unique as its design. The binaural recordings do a reasonable job of representing this bass quality.
     
    Kevin saw images online of different audiophile listening rooms and some people constructing exotic speakers. He liked the audiophile discussions around the idea of the full range driver to give a truer sound without any sound loss versus traditional designs that used multiple speaker drivers and passive crossovers.
     
    Kevin created the exhibit to bring a DIY Audio sound reproduction system and acoustically treated listening room for folks to experience in a public place. An audiophile system like this is normally reserved to few private residences. 
     
     
    The Exhibit
     
    Arriving at the Gallery, we took our LP’s up to the 2nd floor and had a look around. It wasn’t obvious where the exhibit was located, and the Vancouver Art Gallery is a large place. Before long, though, we found an entrance to a hallway along a wall towards the back corner of the floor. The hallway became a passageway lined with acoustic panels that really dampened the sound level. We became aware of the change in sound with our senses heightened. Nearing the end of the hallway, we could hear music playing. Turning right at the end is the entrance to Kevin’s exhibit:
     
     
     
     
     
     
    This picture was taken later on in our visit. When we first turned the corner, we saw a half dozen or so women dancing to Abba in front of the speakers, having a great time! One woman exclaimed that we had to dance before we could put our music on. That sums up the mood of the exhibit. Awesome! 
     
    I am in the chair on the left with binaural mics in my ears, recording on a Sony HDR-AS100V Action Cam. We are all enjoying the music. During the two hours we were at the exhibit, a constant stream of folks wandered through. It was quite busy. 
     
    In classic West Coast, Vancouver style, the acoustics and esthetics of the room had a welcoming feeling. With the music playing, it feels like you are hanging at your friend’s place, who happens to be an audiophile with an incredible sounding stereo, playing your records!
     
    While people were still dancing, Arch and I looked around the exhibit. This was on the back wall as we entered into the exhibit from the acoustically dampened hallway:
     
     
     
     
     
    I can relate, as my sound system is partly DIY Audio, including a pair of Nelson Pass ACA kit amps that I assembled. diyAudio’s motto: “projects by fanatks, for fanatics.”
     
    During my conversation with Kevin, he spoke about the details of the diffuser panels that make up the Excess Dispersion exhibit. Kevin used QRDude’s Quadratic Residue Diffuser (QRD) calculator for calculating the acoustic dispersion pattern for each type of diffuser panel. 
     
    The software program automates the math calculations required to design the acoustic panel. When sounds bounces off the panel, rather than bouncing directly back like a mirror reflection, the sound is spread out in a pattern that diffuses the sound. Sounds that bounce directly back to the listener, produces what is called a comb filter, which colors the sound. In true audiophile style, we don’t want any coloration to our sound reproduction.
     
    Why not use more acoustic absorption panels, like the ones used in the hallway leading into the exhibit? Too much absorption sucks the life out of the sound and therefore the music. Some absorption is good, but the room needs to be a bit lively. Diffusing the sound instead of absorbing it, allows the room to be livelier, but with the comb filtering diffused or mathematically randomized:
     
     
     
    This is a close up of a 2 dimensional QRD panel. While the panel was constructed using reclaimed wood scraps, the mathematical pattern behind the design of the panel also reduces slap or flutter echo. The goal is to reduce the room coloration to the sound quality without making the listening room an anechoic chamber. 
     
    While the mathematical calculation can be performed quickly with a computer, cutting each length of wood to a specific length, times the number of variations, times how many pieces of wood…
     
     
     
     
     
    … is a significant amount of manual effort. Same goes for the sidewall one dimensional diffuser panels. In fact, all of the furniture in the room including the equipment stand was designed and built by Kevin.
     
    On the back wall are 1D diffuser panels that Kevin constructed, again out of reclaimed wood:
     

     
    Photo courtesy of Mike Lee from diyAudio
     
     
    One will see this type of diffuser panel on the sidewalls of the exhibit as well.
    Let’s zoom in on the audio gear:
     
     
     
     
    That’s a lovely Thoren’s 320 turntable connected to a NAD phono preamplifier. Arch was spinning the Beatles and the women were still dancing. Unfortunately, the fun ended soon, as it turns out the needle in the cartridge was damaged, and that needle had just replaced the one before that. I can sympathize with the Gallery, as it is a public exhibit and not everyone knows how to operate a turntable.
     
    @Archimago made mention that he had a spare Shure cartridge at home and could have brought that. We then tried spinning Peter Gabriel’s Shock the Monkey, which confirmed another issue, the tube kit amplifier:
     

     
     
     
    Increasing the volume beyond a certain level simply increased the level of distortion, but not the volume, which was already too low level. KT66 output tubes is what I can remember.
     
    Arch and I were looking at the inputs to the amplifier thinking of plugging in our phones, as we both have large digital music libraries… who doesn’t these days. This is one of the themes of the exhibit re: the commercialization and commoditization of products and services in our world today. I had at the last moment decided not to pack my kit of cables and adaptors. It would not have made much difference as the tube amp needed servicing.
     
    Then the Art Gallery’s A/V person came in to rewind the Pioneer reel to reel tape deck:
     
     

     
     
     
    The reel to reel is playing a field recording of nature sounds that were captured at Peace River Valley in BC, Canada. The situation there is juxtaposed in the exhibit. In order to listen to records, one must turn off the nature sounds.
     
    Both Arch and I started a conversation with the A/V person. Yes, unfortunately, the needle for the record player was damaged again. And yes, the tubes in the amp need replacing and re-biasing. However, the A/V person had a solid state amplifier on the floor, as a plug-in replacement while the tube amp goes out for servicing. She asked us if we would like the amp swapped out now. Sure! Arch asked if she had adapter cables where we could plug our phones into the amp. Yes, please! We were excited, as we had a chance to experience the loudspeakers and the room:
     

     
     
     
     
    Listening Impressions
     
    How does one go about describing the sound quality heard at the exhibit? It’s hard to convey the “size” of the sound coming from the KleinHorns. It’s a wonderful blend of sound from the speaker drivers, the huge back loaded horns, and the acoustically treated room. 
     
    Big and lively, not overly absorbent or “dead” sounding, but not colored either. Just a huge stereo image where you are fully immersed in the sound. As you will hear in the binaural recordings, the bass was smooth and articulate. Rather than me using fancy words to describe what I heard, why not experience the auditory scenes yourself by making a trip to the exhibit. If that isn’t possible, then try these binaural recordings.
     
     
    Binaural Recordings
     
    As mentioned at the beginning of the article, these binaural recordings are intended to be listened to with headphones. Ideally, use closed back or phones that seal well and isolate as much of the outside noise as possible. 
     
    The idea is that you are hearing the auditory scene at the exhibit, which includes the sound from both the loudspeakers and the room. You are hearing what I heard, as if you were sitting in the listening chair in the picture above. Closing your eyes, sitting in your favorite chair, in a quiet environment, is the ideal way to experience this binaural acoustic event.
     
    The binaural mics I used have a measured flat frequency response down to 20 Hz, as verified in this article on measuring headphones. While I could have hauled my Lynx Hilo reference AD/DA converter and a stereo mic preamp, the point of the binaural recordings are simply to give a sampling of the acoustic event.
     
    Disclaimer: The binaural audio clips are not full song recordings and conform to the spirt of “fair use” for copyright material for the purpose of education and research. The author nor the publisher derives any financial benefit from these audio clips. The clips are in lossless FLAC and ALAC (Apple) formats recorded at 48 kHz sample rate.
     
    Don’t forget to turn up the volume a bit to hear both the speakers and the room, as the dynamic range is pretty good.
     
    From Arch’s collection, we listened to Daft Punk, Game of Love.
    Daft Punk binaural DR10.flac download (28 Meg)
    Daft Punk binaural DR10.m4a (Apple) download (28 Meg)
     
    I left the ambient noise in at the beginning of this clip so that one can hear the room. I was also adjusting the binaural mic in my right ear which is that rustling sound you will hear. Throughout the clip you will hear people talking and moving about, which gives a really good sense of the acoustic space.
     
    By the time the drums come in, you can hear the liveness of the room. The overall frequency balance sounds very good. Not too dark, not too bright, just right. The bass on the KleinHorns is tight and articulate. The high frequencies sound extended for a full range driver. One can hear it on the drum kit’s hi hat sounds and “s” sounds on the vocals.
     
    Next we listened to Giorgio By Moroder off Random Access Memories.
    Giorgio binaural DR14.flac download (28 Meg)
    Giorgio binaural DR14.m4a (Apple) download (28 Meg)
     
    What I really like is the spoken voice in the acoustic space. At about 1:50 into the clip, there is just Giorgio’s voice being reproduced over the speakers in the room. Really gives one a sense of being there. The bass sounds low and solid, the drums snap, and the voice natural sounding. Listen closely to the bass line as it moves up and down with each note sounding solid and even.
     
    Enya off the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings soundtrack (“May It Be”).
    Enya binaural DR9.flac download (30 Meg)
    Enya binaural DR9.m4a (Apple) download (30 Meg)
     
    Get ready for goosebumps... 
     
    At the very beginning of this clip, way off to the left and behind, is a door leading into a stairwell that you can hear being closed. Right after that, you can hear Archimago say, “Let’s try some Lord of the Rings” after he pressed play on his phone located where the gear is. Arch is saying this as he is walking back towards me to my left and up. Up because I am sitting in the chair and Arch is walking. This should give one a good sense of being in the acoustic space.
     
    What can I say? This is one of the reasons why folks build this type of speaker. It is an incredibly immersive audio experience. The Lowther drivers are known for their articulate vocal reproduction and one can certainly hear it on this clip. The big horns with their huge imaging makes Enya sound ethereal to say the least. Every nuance articulated with the room adding liveliness without coloring the sound. It’s a great example of Kevin’s DIY Audio and Excess Dispersion exhibits working together to produce a wonderful sonic experience.
     
     
    Epilogue
     
    If you’re in or around the Vancouver area this October (2018), come see and hear Kevin’s exhibition. As tapestryofsound says on diyAudio, “…right now possibly the only place in the world where someone can hear in a public place a unique and unforgettable sonic experience.” 
     
    The two hours we spent at the Exhibit went fast. We were listening to Enya and were told that the Gallery was now closing. The Gallery is well run, everyone is approachable and friendly. Security let us know what we could touch, which was the DIY Audio exhibit, but not the Excess Dispersion diffuser panels. 
     
    What does this have to do with computer audio? Computer audio is so ubiquitous that the public will rarely see or hear anything like this again. The KleinHorns and diffuser panels require significant time and effort to construct. They also require a fairly large space to operate in. Juxtapose that with plugging in headphones into a phone and having instant access to 40 million digital audio songs. While one is convenient, the audio visual experience is not the same.
     
    The resurgence of vinyl in recent years probably has more to do with a certain demographic that dislikes the overly compressed music being pumped out of their digital devices. Turntables, tonearms, cartridges and needles are not convenient and finicky. Tube amplifier kits require maintenance of tube replacement and periodic biasing. Again not convenient, but for some, offers unique sonic benefits that are unachievable any other way.
     
    Kudo’s to Kevin Schmidt: We are the Robots Exhibit. Not only an audio visual treat, but the underlying theme of the exhibit is thought provoking and happening right now.
     
    Don’t forget to bring your records! And as backup, your digital audio library on your phone ☺
     
    Thanks Archimago for the great photos. It will be interesting to hear your take on our wonderful visit! Thanks Mike Lee from diyAudio for providing the front page and back wall diffuser panel photo’s.
     
     
     
     
     
     
    I wrote this book to provide the audio enthusiast with an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide for designing a custom digital filter that corrects the frequency and timing response of your loudspeakers in your listening environment, so that the music arriving at your ears matches as closely as possible to the content on the recording. Accurate Sound Reproduction using DSP. Click on Look Inside to review the table of contents and read the first few chapters for free.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Mitch “Mitchco” Barnett.
    I love music and audio. I grew up with music around me, as my mom is a piano player (swing) and my dad was an audiophile (jazz). My hobby is building speakers, amps, preamps, etc., and I still DIY today.
     
    I mixed live sound for a variety of bands, which led to an opportunity to work full-time in a 24-track recording studio. Over 10 years, I recorded, mixed, and sometimes produced over 30 albums, plus numerous audio for video post productions, in several recording studios in Western Canada.
     
     
     
     
     
  6. Like
    jabbr reacted to mitchco for an article, Kii THREE Loudspeaker Review   
    The Kii THREE’s are the first loudspeakers to come into my room where I did not feel the need to apply external Digital Signal Processing (DSP) to smooth the frequency response. As some of you know, I am big into DSP. 

    The frequency and timing response of these loudspeakers are just about “textbook” perfect and translate extremely well into my room with a simple tweak using the Kii Controller.

    The Kii THREE’s produce a “big” color free sound that belies their size. Along with constant directivity to low frequencies, make these speakers just about perfect sound reproducers.
     
     
     

    Let’s Talk Tech

    One can see that the Kii THREE’s are unlike any other speaker design. At the front is a tweeter mated to a diffraction waveguide, along with a midrange driver, in a cabinet that resembles a computer tower, except the cabinet material is inert, weighing in at 33 lbs each. The “knuckle rap” test on the cabinet indicated we are no longer in Kansas, as does the woofers on the sides and rear of the cabinet:
     

     
     
     
     
    Kii uses this driver arrangement, coupled with on-board DSP, to produce a cardioid, controlled directivity dispersion pattern, down to low frequencies. Kii calls it Active Wave Focusing. Simply, the DSP controls the sound dispersion, so the sound pressure is directed to the sweet spot. The DSP manipulates the phase and timing response of the side and rear drivers, relative to the front, so that they reinforce the output to the front, but cancel the output to the back, producing a cardioid dispersion pattern. Clever.

    Why is this important? Speaker boundary interference response (SBIR) is responsible for huge dips in the bass response caused by the destructive interaction of the direct sound from the speaker and the reflected, indirect sound from nearby boundaries, such as front and side walls, relative to the speaker.

    See this technical article and scroll down to the bookshelf speaker’s response and look at the frequency responses to understand why this is a big deal:
     
     

     
     
     
    One can see the huge dips in low frequency response due to speaker boundary interference issues. While there are a few ways to mitigate this destructive interference (e.g. soffit mounting loudspeakers like in studio control rooms or external custom DSP that cancels these reflections), it is all but inevitable for the home audiophile, regardless of speakers or room… until now. Note in above example the bookshelf tweeter has narrowing directivity at 12 kHz. Technically, these two issues are the raison d’etre for what the Kii THREE solves and what makes them unique.

    The term constant or controlled directivity is routinely used in pro sound and has been finding its way into consumer audio for some years. Earl Gedde’s wrote the preeminent white paper years ago on why constant directivity is a good thing. I have been using constant directivity waveguides in my home stereo setup for years. The issue is, to get constant directivity low enough requires large baffles and constant directivity waveguides, which is what I have now.

    Floyd Toole and Sean Olive have written books and articles on research showing that smooth off axis frequency response is just as important as on-axis response for subjectively good sounding loudspeakers. The JBL M2 and Revel Salon2 are great examples of speakers with smooth on and off axis frequency response or constant directivity. The Kii THREE’s take it to the next level with constant directivity response down to below 100 Hz. Most other speakers are either not constant directivity designs or if they are, constant directivity to approximately 1 kHz. Or if a very large baffle and waveguide, maybe down to around 400 Hz, which is what my JBL Cinema speakers can do, but still have SBIR issues below 400 Hz.

    If you look at AudioXpress’s excellent review of the Kii THREEs, Paul Wilke produced this polar map, ala Geddes style, in the measurement section. This is the best controlled directivity response I have seen for any loudspeaker to date: 
     
     

     
     
     
     
     
    Not only controlled at low frequencies, but also at very high frequencies, where the tweeter’s directivity typically narrows, but with Kii’s diffraction waveguide, the directivity holds virtually constant all the way to 20 kHz.

    Zooming in on the polar map, we are looking at a “controlled or constant” directivity pattern where the -6 dB points are approximately ±75 degrees overall, using 0 degrees, as on-axis. The directivity narrows a bit to under ±50 degrees at 20 kHz and widening to about ±150 degrees at 80 Hz. 

    This is an impressive technical feat of controlled directivity down low, unheard of from a bookshelf loudspeaker. This implies that the THREE’s can be placed in virtually any room, in whatever location, free standing, or up close to one or more boundaries, and still achieve accurate sound reproduction with minimal SBIR issues.

    Further, the cardioid polar pattern that these speakers throw is something I have never heard before. Whether listening on or (way) off axis, one is still hearing an accurate frequency response, especially in the last octave from 10 to 20 kHz. In subjective terms, the “air” is still there, even way off axis.
     
     
     
    Setup, Configuration, and Calibration
     
     

     
     
     
    I pushed my large JBL speakers to the sides and set up the Kii THREE’s on my 24” high, sand filled, Monolith stands in the same location where the JBL’s were. Which is the same location for other speakers that I have reviewed on CA. Vibrapods are used to isolate the speakers from the stands and the stands from the floor. I did not move the subs out of the way, but they were not hooked up for this evaluation.

    JRiver MC 24 is the software music player, connected to my Lynx Hilo via USB and then using the AES/EBU digital output of the Hilo to the AES digital input on the Kii on the left (master) and then using an Ethernet cable to link the left speaker to the right speaker. You will notice the Kii Control on the coffee table. For critical listening, I case the guitar, put a comforter over the drum kit and move the coffee table out of the way. During the evaluation, I also used the balanced analog outputs of the Hilo to the balanced analog inputs of the THREE’s and did not notice any difference in sound quality.

    As former recording/mixing engineer, I use guidelines from the ITU and EBU to set up my speakers in an equilateral triangle, with the speakers toed in, on axis, pointing directly at my ears. I also calibrate my listening level, so when I am performing critical listening, I monitor at ~83 dB SPL, C weighting, slow integration, using a calibrated sound level meter. Bob Katz’s article that I linked, provides an excellent overview of the process and why. Most recording/mixing/mastering engineers use the same equilateral triangle setup and monitor level calibration for producing the art. I use the same approach for reproducing the art. 

    The calibration process also includes using REW, as I measure the frequency response at the same reference level and adjust the speaker’s frequency response to a preferred target frequency response at the listening position. There is good scientific research on subjective listening tests correlating to objective measurements from Sean Olive and Floyd Toole on The Subjective and Objective Evaluation of Room Correction Products and The Measurement and Calibration of Sound Reproducing Systems respectively. 

    From Sean’s slide deck is a preferred subjective ranking of average magnitude responses, objectively measured at the primary listening position:
     
     

     
     
     
     
    The top preference (red trace) is a flat, but tilted measured response. If 0 dB is 20 Hz, then it would be a straight line to -10 dB at 20 kHz.

    Note that this tilted measured response is perceived by our ear/brain, as subjectively flat or a neutral response according to Sean’s research:
     
     

     
     
     
     
    See how an objectively measured response of 20 Hz and straight line to -10 dB at 20 kHz is subjectively perceived as a neutral or flat response to our ears/brain (red trace overlaid in the above chart). Most participants in the study preferred a frequency response from 20 Hz with a straight line to -10 dB at 20 kHz. A measured “flat” in-room frequency response is not the preferred target, as it sounds too thin or lacking bass. 

    “The Science of Preferred Frequency Response for Headphones and Loudspeakers” goes into more detail and provides links to further studies, which show the same preferences, for both loudspeakers and headphones. Dr. Floyd Toole says, preferred is synonymous with accurate.

    I have been using computer based software DSP since 2011 to custom design digital FIR correction filters in both the frequency and time domain for loudspeakers in rooms. In my own listening tests, I prefer the tilted response from 20 Hz to -10 dB @ 20 kHz. To my ears, sounds subjectively balanced or neutral from top to bottom. Whatever your preference is, this is a good place to start, as the subjective listening tests that Sean and team have performed, multiple times, with multiple participants, does correlate to a preferred in-room measured response, assuming good loudspeaker design with smooth directivity.

    After taking a few measurements with REW, it was easy to make two simple adjustments on the Kii Controller to achieve my preferred frequency response.

    First, I set the boundary eq for each speaker independently. The issue is due to my room set-up constraints, where the stereo is offset to the left side of the room along the long wall. The left speaker is more in the corner and the right speaker is almost centerline in the room. More boundary compensation is required on the left versus the right:
     
     
     

    Here we see the boundary eq settings that I arrived at when individually calibrating the speakers to produce the smoothest response and matches my preferred target frequency response.

    The left channel (Master) required more compensation, -6 than the right channel (Slave1), -2.
     
    Once that was set, I moved on to the Contour and Tone controls, which are Baxandall type tone controls that allows one to set the corner frequencies for both the lows and highs and adjust the gain.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    A -4 dB shelf at 3 kHz was all it took to achieve my preferred in-room measured frequency response of 20 Hz to -10 dB at 20 kHz.  

    The boundary eq is so good, I did not need to make any additional low frequency adjustments.

    Folks can adjust to their own preferences without the measurement gear. The Toole/Olive research shows there is a direct correlation between an in-room measurement and the preferred frequency response that subjectively sounds neutral to groups of people, myself included.

    With that in mind, let’s look at the in-room measurements.
     
     
     
    Objective Measurements:

    With the simple boundary eq and tone adjustments dialed in as described above, I measured the frequency response at the listening position:
     
     

     
     
     
     
    That’s an excellent “in-room” frequency response using no external eq or DSP. The “ups and down” are the standing waves or room modes of my room. I have unfavorable room ratios where the only room ratio worse is a cube shaped room.

    The offset of the stereo to one side of the room is why the peaks and dips aren’t the same for both channels (and why I use digital room correction). Subjectively, the bass still sounds neutral to my ears. Meaning I don’t hear much of those peaks and dips. But more importantly, the destructive Speaker Boundary Interference Response (SBIR) has been nullified, as it does not show up in the measurement. 

    How closely can I match the Kii THREE’s to Olive’s research on preferred (neutral) frequency response?
     
     

     
     
     
     
    An excellent match. The Kii’s measure -3 dB at 21 Hz in my room with high frequency response out past 20 kHz. This is with 2 simple adjustments on the Kii Controller. Bravo! The Blue and Mauve “reference” measurements are from my much larger tri-amplified speaker system, with subs, using a custom digital filter specifically designed for my loudspeakers and room to tightly match to the Olive target. To be clear, I did not apply any external DSP to the Kii’s in this review.

    Even moving the THREE’s back towards the front wall, so they are 40 centimeters away, measured from the rear woofers, have very little effect on the low frequency response:
     
     

     
     
     

    Here we have the two sets of left and right measurements that are overlaid. One is with the THREE’s 80 cm (basically free standing) from the front wall and the other is 40 cm from the front wall. The results are pretty much identical. The Kii THREE’s boundary eq is very effective and seems impervious to any destructive boundary interference, whether placed free field or close to a boundary.

    I moved the measurement mic 3 feet to the left, from the center listening position, then 3 feet to the right, from center. The speakers are back to their 80cm position from the front wall:
     
     
     

     
     
     
     
    Impressive, as the distance across between mic positions is 6 feet, which covers both ends of my 3 seat couch. Still achieving a nice smooth envelope response with the top end predictably down in level, but the frequency response (i.e. the timbre or tone quality) is the same. Meaning the off-axis frequency response all the way up to 20 kHz is perfectly smooth and no indication of any narrowing (i.e. notches) in the frequency response at the top end, as per our example at the beginning of the article.

    In the low end, we are just seeing the beginning of SBIR issues, as minor as they are, from the speakers that are furthest away from the microphone. Meaning, in my 9 foot equilateral setup, when the mic is 3 feet left of the center position, the right speaker is approximately 12 feet away from the microphone. This is getting into far field response…

    What about the timing response? Here are the Kii THREE’s step response, showing that all drivers are time aligned or time coherent at the listening position:
     
     
     

     
     
     
     
    It is the vertical step at time 0ms that we are most interested in. As can be seen, a vertical, non-discontinuous step means that all direct sound from the drivers are arriving at the measurement microphone (or ones ears), all at the same time. The ripples over time are the low frequency “peaks and dips” of the standing waves or room modes, based simply on the physical dimensions of my room.

    Here is a quick refresher on what a time coherent loudspeaker’s step response looks like as compared to non-time coherent loudspeakers. Folks should understand that time alignment is not just for one mic location either. 

    The THREE’s has another mode of operation called “Minimum Latency” which reduces the delay in the Exact mode from 90 milliseconds down to 1 millisecond. This is useful for when watching movies or television for lip sync purposes.

    There is a subtle, but audible difference to my ears, not only on the Kii’s but I ran a separate experiment switching from time aligned to non-time aligned, while keeping all other parameters the same. I prefer the time aligned response. Technically, it is the more accurate response that does not distort the phase response of the music waveform. Kii calls it, the Exact response. From the Kii THREE manual:
     

    “In the latency menu you can choose whether you are able to run the Kii Three in their most exact setting, which offers a full phase correction but introduces roughly 90ms of latency. In an audiophile listening environment this doesn’t impose any practical problems, so the “Exact” setting is always the preferable and best sounding option. Full phase correction means, that the whole frequency spectrum radiated by the speaker does not have any unnatural phase shift, an artefact that is commonly induced by classical analogue crossovers. Clever DSP correction allows us to instead achieve a phase response that is identical to the original signal on the recording. This powerful calculation needs time, therefore latency cannot be avoided in this case.”
     

    Completely agree, and at this price point, I expect loudspeakers to be time aligned to qualify for accurate sound reproduction.

    The Kii THREE’s measures full range, with a very smooth frequency response that can easily be tailored to one’s preferred in-room response using the Kii Controller. The measurements show the THREE’s to be impervious to speaker boundary interference. The dispersion or polar response of these speakers measure excellent off axis for a very wide, but controlled horizontal coverage pattern. Finally, all drivers are time aligned to achieve a phase response that does not alter the original signal on the recording.  

    Technically, these loudspeaker measure as an accurate sound reproducer in both the frequency and time domains, plus have a constant directivity polar pattern that is pretty well unmatched by any speaker on the market today (except perhaps the BeoLab 90 and Dutch and Dutch 8c). 

    It is amazing to achieve this level of measured technical competence in a “bookshelf” loudspeaker.

    Do the Kii THREE’s sound as good as they measure? ?
     
     
     
    Subjective Listening Results
     
     

     
     
     
    I have posted this before, as a small sampling of music I listen to for testing gear. Part of it is that I have listened to these tracks hundreds of times over the years with many equipment and know the recordings extremely well. I also appreciate the high dynamic range of these recordings which gives a much more lifelike music reproduction to my ears:
     
     
     

     
     
     
     
    I got in around 80 hours of listening over a couple of weeks, as I work mostly from home. These speakers sound considerably bigger than their size suggests. I normally listen to (very) large floor standers. The THREE’s sound full range with deep bass extension. Very surprising from a speaker of this size.

    The bass response, is not only deep, but uncolored, and did not in any way sound disconnected from the mids or highs, like I find in some other speakers. I attribute this to several aspects of the Kii’s unique design where the speaker boundary interference is being nullified, the smooth polar response down low, and the bass drivers time aligned with the mids and highs. This results in very tight bass response, even down low, and can play effortlessly all day long at my 83 dB SPL critical listening reference level without ever sounding uncontrolled. Turning up the level to be as twice as loud at 95 dB SPL, the bass reproduction never lost its composure.

    The THREE’s can’t match my large double 15” woofers per side bass cabs for impact with 12 Hz response from two 12” sealed Rythmik subs. But at critical listening levels, the Kii’s sound competent and uncolored. Not really a fair comparison, as the JBL bass cabs are huge. However, I don’t know of any other relative sized bookshelf loudspeaker that can play down this low (in my room).

    Listening to SRV’s Tin Pan Alley (DR18) with the volume turned way up feels like one is at the hall during the live off the floor recording. It is easy to get lost in the envelopment. With the volume still way up, the buildup crescendo at the beginning of Money for Nothing is enough to break out laughing at the goosebumps. Spontaneous dancing occurs when Thelma’s, Don’t Leave Me this Way starts cooking during the chorus with the backup singers. At 2 mins 44 sec in, the tambourine player sounds right in the room.

    Marilyn Mazur’s, Bell Painting (DR25 on CD!) attack, clarity and decay of the percussion instruments sounds realistic to my ears, as does LessLoss individual drum presentation (DR21). The bells sound so clear and pure.

    Stewart Copeland’s drums in Murder by Numbers (DR18) crack and punch like a drum kit should, especially during the outro where the drums are turned up in level in the mix. Every little intricate hi-hat showmanship shines through with crystal clear clarity. Even when listening well off axis. For example, walking behind my couch as Stewart’s hi-hat is playing, I could not hear any high frequency response imbalances. One can listen for directivity “dead spots” where the hi-hat is playing at a certain level, move your head a few inches and the hi-hat level goes down, then move a few more inches and its back in level. The so called “head locked in vice listening position.” Not so with the THREE’s, they sound super smooth with Stewart’s hi-hat tricks sounding equal volume, as I walked by behind the couch or sitting anywhere on the couch for that matter. Good show!

    Listening to Patricia Barber’s, Regular Pleasures, I listen to her voice closely while the bass slides and the drum hits for any hint of her voice modulating on the bass. To my ears, her voice sounds perfectly clear, as does the bass with no hint of modulation. 

    I put on Yotto’s Radiance, which has significant with clipped overs and over compressed bass amplitude, still sounds deep and clean on the THREE’s, even with the cones visibly vibrating.

    I have to admit, as much as I like to point out flaws with loudspeakers, as the weakest link in the sound reproduction chain, I don’t hear any real flaws with the THREE’s. Sure, if you want to go louder, Kii has a BXT woofer assembly to extend the THREE’s bass response and increase the sound pressure level. But the low bass is there in the THREE’s and sounds remarkably uncolored to my ears.
     
     
     
    Conclusion

    I hope folks get an opportunity to hear the Kii THREE’s, as an excellent example of what accurate sound reproduction “sounds” like. If you are in Vancouver, head over to Liquid Sound for a listen. This speaker measures as good as it sounds and vice versa. Smooth frequency response from 21 Hz to 20 kHz with time aligned drivers, means the music arriving at one's ears matches as closely as possible to the content on the recording. 

    The ability for the THREE’s to be placed near or far from a boundary, without speaker boundary interference, is next level loudspeaker engineering. As mentioned before, the only other way to achieve this is soffit mounting speakers or external digital room correction software products. For some folks, hearing these speakers without speaker boundary interference may be a first, and an ear opening listening experience.

    Special attention to the top octave (10 to 20 kHz) with Kii’s unique diffraction waveguide, raises the bar for controlled, high frequency dispersion. I have yet to see any other loudspeaker measurement that shows as wide as dispersion in the top octave as the Kii’s. Even speakers with notable controlled directivity, always show a narrowing of the directivity in the top octave.

    The THREE’s sound full range, smooth, uncolored, time coherent, and can be listened to over a wide angle without any loss in sound reproduction accuracy. An amazing technical feat for a bookshelf sized loudspeaker.
     
     

    Thanks Bryan Taylor from The Gramophone in Edmonton, Canada for loaning me the Kii THREE’s for a couple of weeks. Thanks Bryan!

    Thanks Paul Wilke for supplying the AudioXpress Polar Map. Much appreciated Paul!
     
    Coming up next on the stands for review…
     
     

     
     
     
     
     
     

    I wrote this book to provide the audio enthusiast with an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide for designing a custom digital filter that corrects the frequency and timing response of your loudspeakers in your listening environment, so that the music arriving at your ears matches as closely as possible to the content on the recording. Accurate Sound Reproduction using DSP. Click on Look Inside to review the table of contents and read the first few chapters for free.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Mitch “Mitchco” Barnett.

    I love music and audio. I grew up with music around me, as my mom was a piano player (swing) and my dad was an audiophile (jazz). My hobby is building speakers, amps, preamps, etc., and I still DIY today.

    I mixed live sound for a variety of bands, which led to an opportunity to work full-time in a 24-track recording studio. Over 10 years, I recorded, mixed, and sometimes produced over 30 albums, plus numerous audio for video post productions, in several recording studios in Western Canada.
     
     
  7. Like
    jabbr got a reaction from Cornan for an article, Live Rock For The Audiophile   
    Introduction

    Three live concerts: Dead & Company, Yes, and Radiohead. From somewhere in the front 10 rows and back of the venue.

    The Grateful Dead, in 1974, introduced the famous "Wall of Sound" to bring a better amplification system for the audience at their concerts. Much has been written but the basic concept was that each instrument had its own amplifier resulting in less intermodulation distortion. The key to getting the best sound at a rock concert remains with this idea. 
     

    Dead & Co: Riverbend, June 2018
     

    Shakedown Street

    The vending area in the parking lot or a set aside field is an essential part of Grateful Dead culture and the band of fans and vendors that follow the group on tour. Fans usually arrive en mass about an hour before the concert for food, pop-up bars, t-shirts, memorabilia. Like "Alice's Restaurant", you can get anything you like. Shakedown Street is the The Grateful Dead tailgate, and not to be missed before a concert. The group has been touring off, and on, in one form or another for over 50 years.
     

    Current lineup

    The death of Jerry Garcia in 1995 marked the end of the original era. The other four original members got together for a series of concerts in 2015. The current lineup of "Dead & Co" includes John Mayer along with original Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bob Kreutzman
     

    Riverbend, June 2018

    We hung out at Shakedown Street before the show and then made our way to the pit. Very relaxed crowd and we easily made our way close to the front of the stage. The sound was fantastic as expected. Notice the individal microphones and amps for each instrument. Riverbend is an outdoor arena and there are large arrays of speakers above and to the sides, projecting sound to the larger audience. The sound we heard, primarily seemed to come from the stage amps and speakers. John Mayer did a great job and we had fun. Didn't think about the "sound system" during the concert. The individual guitar amps seem to be either the classic Vox or similar tube amps. Unlike the home system, in this case the "soundstage" is formed by the individual speaker/amps. I've learned that these are mic'd for output to the main PA system which is clearly Class D or similar high powered. Note the abundance of on stage powered speakers.
     
    




     
     

     
     

     
     
     

    Yes: PNC Pavilion, July 2018
     

    Returned to PNC Pavillion, the little brother of Riverbend and part of the same complex, for "the Yes "An Evening with Yes". We had seats in the right Pit approximately 8 rows from the front. As seen from the video clip, there are also small stage amps, but our seats were closer to one of the large arrays to each side of the stage. Steve Howe's guitar playing was itself magical. He is unquestionably a master of the instrument and, like Bob Weir, its remarkable that they have been performing for 50 years! From an audiophile perspective, however, when the band played together and loud, the individual instruments blurred together. I found this distracting. In this case being seated close to the edge of the stage was not a good spot to listen to "Close to the Edge". Further back near the mixing box, the sound was similarly blurred when loud. Rather than sitting back and listening to the concert, I found myself increasingly listening to the sound system.
     

    This wideangle video shows the banks of speakers. 



     
     

     
     

     
     

     
     
     

    Radiohead: US Bank Arena July 2018
     

    The site of the infamous The Who concert of 1979 in which 11 teenagers and young adults were trampled in the rush to enter the arena for sold-out festival seating. Cincinnati subsequently banned festival seating until 2004. We got general admission tickets. When we arrived at 5pm there was already an orderly line forming. The gates opened at 6PM. We headed right for the center of the moon shaped pool of people congregating at the front of the stage after grabbing a couple of beers from a vendor. Johnny Greenwoods Jujun opened. Note the individually mic'd instruments and VOX guitar amps. Perfect soundstage! 



     
     

     
     

     
     

    When Radiohead started I was mesmerized. There are many Youtube videos of concerts -- some terrific and with excellent sound but none of these compared to seeing and hearing them live and up-close.

    US Bank Arena doesn't have a great reputation for sound either but from our position the sound was terrific. Similarly guitar feeds into on stage Vox (or similar) amps. Huge speaker arrays way above and to the sides of us.

    My impression of modern rock has been multimic'd multitrack recordings assembled by the mastering process into a final stereo production. What amazed me was that the blend of purely acoustic sounds, with analog instruments and vacuum tube amps, along with electronic samples, midi etc ... and all live. During warm up it was clear that the drums had both a direct sound as well as a midi feed into sampling/DSP. Two drummers full time, and up to four with both the Greenwood brothers playing drums on one song! These complex rhythms are performed live. Whoever is routing the instruments through the MIDI/sampling is an unsung live performer! 

    Daydreaming is the opening song. Carefully organized, a symphony of motion, sound, light. The soundstage was full and ambient. I didn't listen for instruments in a particular location in space, rather sounds fill the space from right to left up and down, with reverberation from back to front. 

     
     

     
     

    Desert Island Disk the acoustic guitar and bass lead into vocals. In this case the guitar is precisely located on the stage which is otherwise filled with swirling electronic samples. "Different types of love are possible"... 
     
     

     
     
     
     

    Ful Stop the stage pounds with a hard driving beat, electronics, and blaring blue lights. Raw energy fills the arena. "You've really messed up everything." ... the guitars enter ... "Truth will mess you up." I'm hypnotized. 
     
     

     
     

    2+2=5 We head back to "Hail to the Thief" seamlessly. Thom Yorke is fully warmed up and on fire. 

    Myxomatosis The entire crowd is rocking to this raw energy version. Is the bass synthesized? I'm just having fun. This might have been my favorite song of the night ... might 

    Kid A MIDI Synth with a swirling soundstage, electronic. Wow this is live! Of all the songs, I'd have thought this was a studio creation. 

    All I Need Electronic Love Song. Swaying Back and Forth with my arm around my wife. Singing to eachother. The bells are real bells ... who would've thought that will all the synth and electronic equipment they'd bring real bells. 

    Videotape Awesome piano. Sure its a sampled piano. Do I care? 

    Lucky Back to OK Computer. Wow, I'm realizing that these songs flow effortlessly from 1997-2016. This is a unified performance. 

    Bloom of all the songs you'd think are synthesized, they are playing this live. Hmmm. Real drums.

    Ok so the rest is equally terrific and they close with How to Disappear completely, perfect. We use this as an opportunity to head up to grab some food & beer and the remainder of the review takes this into account. Firstly I realize how lucky we were to be so close because the entire arena is filled and everyone is standing even in the nosebleed seats. They do two encore sets: a total of 8 songs! Immediately I notice that the music is blurred. Its still as loud as it was on the floor but now loud and muddled. Its an entirely different experience.
     

    Second Encore
     

    The Bends Woah! Of course the crowd erupts and sings along. From 1995 blending in perfectly with music from this decade. 

    Weird Fishes

    Karma Police and Thom Yorks ends with an acoustic sing-a-long with the audience... perfect.
     
     

    Closing Food for Thoughts

    When you are having fun and it sounds right, the details of the soundsystem fade into the background. Modern guitar bands continue to use tube based amplifiers and these amplifiers are mic'd to send to the large PA system. Avoiding this PA system is the key to great sound. Don't worry about getting close and center because the large amps and speakers don't project at you, rather you get on stage sound which is remarkably better. This isn't subtle. The Dead were inventors/early proponents of the "Wall of Sound" i.e. individially mic'd and amplified instruments. Whether this is due to lower intermodulation distortion, avoidance of "Class D etc" amplifiers, or avoidance of overload distortion, the sound coming from the linear banks of speakers is horribly distorted comparted with the smaller on stage powered speakers. 

    This supports the idea that multi-amped systems with an amplifier per speaker element (at home "Wall of Sound") may be the best way to reproduce complex rock music. My experiences also support the idea to me, that the specifications of the individual ampliers remain critical regardless of the music source. 
     
     
     
     
  8. Upvote
    jabbr got a reaction from ednaz for an article, Live Rock For The Audiophile   
    Introduction

    Three live concerts: Dead & Company, Yes, and Radiohead. From somewhere in the front 10 rows and back of the venue.

    The Grateful Dead, in 1974, introduced the famous "Wall of Sound" to bring a better amplification system for the audience at their concerts. Much has been written but the basic concept was that each instrument had its own amplifier resulting in less intermodulation distortion. The key to getting the best sound at a rock concert remains with this idea. 
     

    Dead & Co: Riverbend, June 2018
     

    Shakedown Street

    The vending area in the parking lot or a set aside field is an essential part of Grateful Dead culture and the band of fans and vendors that follow the group on tour. Fans usually arrive en mass about an hour before the concert for food, pop-up bars, t-shirts, memorabilia. Like "Alice's Restaurant", you can get anything you like. Shakedown Street is the The Grateful Dead tailgate, and not to be missed before a concert. The group has been touring off, and on, in one form or another for over 50 years.
     

    Current lineup

    The death of Jerry Garcia in 1995 marked the end of the original era. The other four original members got together for a series of concerts in 2015. The current lineup of "Dead & Co" includes John Mayer along with original Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bob Kreutzman
     

    Riverbend, June 2018

    We hung out at Shakedown Street before the show and then made our way to the pit. Very relaxed crowd and we easily made our way close to the front of the stage. The sound was fantastic as expected. Notice the individal microphones and amps for each instrument. Riverbend is an outdoor arena and there are large arrays of speakers above and to the sides, projecting sound to the larger audience. The sound we heard, primarily seemed to come from the stage amps and speakers. John Mayer did a great job and we had fun. Didn't think about the "sound system" during the concert. The individual guitar amps seem to be either the classic Vox or similar tube amps. Unlike the home system, in this case the "soundstage" is formed by the individual speaker/amps. I've learned that these are mic'd for output to the main PA system which is clearly Class D or similar high powered. Note the abundance of on stage powered speakers.
     
    




     
     

     
     

     
     
     

    Yes: PNC Pavilion, July 2018
     

    Returned to PNC Pavillion, the little brother of Riverbend and part of the same complex, for "the Yes "An Evening with Yes". We had seats in the right Pit approximately 8 rows from the front. As seen from the video clip, there are also small stage amps, but our seats were closer to one of the large arrays to each side of the stage. Steve Howe's guitar playing was itself magical. He is unquestionably a master of the instrument and, like Bob Weir, its remarkable that they have been performing for 50 years! From an audiophile perspective, however, when the band played together and loud, the individual instruments blurred together. I found this distracting. In this case being seated close to the edge of the stage was not a good spot to listen to "Close to the Edge". Further back near the mixing box, the sound was similarly blurred when loud. Rather than sitting back and listening to the concert, I found myself increasingly listening to the sound system.
     

    This wideangle video shows the banks of speakers. 



     
     

     
     

     
     

     
     
     

    Radiohead: US Bank Arena July 2018
     

    The site of the infamous The Who concert of 1979 in which 11 teenagers and young adults were trampled in the rush to enter the arena for sold-out festival seating. Cincinnati subsequently banned festival seating until 2004. We got general admission tickets. When we arrived at 5pm there was already an orderly line forming. The gates opened at 6PM. We headed right for the center of the moon shaped pool of people congregating at the front of the stage after grabbing a couple of beers from a vendor. Johnny Greenwoods Jujun opened. Note the individually mic'd instruments and VOX guitar amps. Perfect soundstage! 



     
     

     
     

     
     

    When Radiohead started I was mesmerized. There are many Youtube videos of concerts -- some terrific and with excellent sound but none of these compared to seeing and hearing them live and up-close.

    US Bank Arena doesn't have a great reputation for sound either but from our position the sound was terrific. Similarly guitar feeds into on stage Vox (or similar) amps. Huge speaker arrays way above and to the sides of us.

    My impression of modern rock has been multimic'd multitrack recordings assembled by the mastering process into a final stereo production. What amazed me was that the blend of purely acoustic sounds, with analog instruments and vacuum tube amps, along with electronic samples, midi etc ... and all live. During warm up it was clear that the drums had both a direct sound as well as a midi feed into sampling/DSP. Two drummers full time, and up to four with both the Greenwood brothers playing drums on one song! These complex rhythms are performed live. Whoever is routing the instruments through the MIDI/sampling is an unsung live performer! 

    Daydreaming is the opening song. Carefully organized, a symphony of motion, sound, light. The soundstage was full and ambient. I didn't listen for instruments in a particular location in space, rather sounds fill the space from right to left up and down, with reverberation from back to front. 

     
     

     
     

    Desert Island Disk the acoustic guitar and bass lead into vocals. In this case the guitar is precisely located on the stage which is otherwise filled with swirling electronic samples. "Different types of love are possible"... 
     
     

     
     
     
     

    Ful Stop the stage pounds with a hard driving beat, electronics, and blaring blue lights. Raw energy fills the arena. "You've really messed up everything." ... the guitars enter ... "Truth will mess you up." I'm hypnotized. 
     
     

     
     

    2+2=5 We head back to "Hail to the Thief" seamlessly. Thom Yorke is fully warmed up and on fire. 

    Myxomatosis The entire crowd is rocking to this raw energy version. Is the bass synthesized? I'm just having fun. This might have been my favorite song of the night ... might 

    Kid A MIDI Synth with a swirling soundstage, electronic. Wow this is live! Of all the songs, I'd have thought this was a studio creation. 

    All I Need Electronic Love Song. Swaying Back and Forth with my arm around my wife. Singing to eachother. The bells are real bells ... who would've thought that will all the synth and electronic equipment they'd bring real bells. 

    Videotape Awesome piano. Sure its a sampled piano. Do I care? 

    Lucky Back to OK Computer. Wow, I'm realizing that these songs flow effortlessly from 1997-2016. This is a unified performance. 

    Bloom of all the songs you'd think are synthesized, they are playing this live. Hmmm. Real drums.

    Ok so the rest is equally terrific and they close with How to Disappear completely, perfect. We use this as an opportunity to head up to grab some food & beer and the remainder of the review takes this into account. Firstly I realize how lucky we were to be so close because the entire arena is filled and everyone is standing even in the nosebleed seats. They do two encore sets: a total of 8 songs! Immediately I notice that the music is blurred. Its still as loud as it was on the floor but now loud and muddled. Its an entirely different experience.
     

    Second Encore
     

    The Bends Woah! Of course the crowd erupts and sings along. From 1995 blending in perfectly with music from this decade. 

    Weird Fishes

    Karma Police and Thom Yorks ends with an acoustic sing-a-long with the audience... perfect.
     
     

    Closing Food for Thoughts

    When you are having fun and it sounds right, the details of the soundsystem fade into the background. Modern guitar bands continue to use tube based amplifiers and these amplifiers are mic'd to send to the large PA system. Avoiding this PA system is the key to great sound. Don't worry about getting close and center because the large amps and speakers don't project at you, rather you get on stage sound which is remarkably better. This isn't subtle. The Dead were inventors/early proponents of the "Wall of Sound" i.e. individially mic'd and amplified instruments. Whether this is due to lower intermodulation distortion, avoidance of "Class D etc" amplifiers, or avoidance of overload distortion, the sound coming from the linear banks of speakers is horribly distorted comparted with the smaller on stage powered speakers. 

    This supports the idea that multi-amped systems with an amplifier per speaker element (at home "Wall of Sound") may be the best way to reproduce complex rock music. My experiences also support the idea to me, that the specifications of the individual ampliers remain critical regardless of the music source. 
     
     
     
     
  9. Upvote
    jabbr got a reaction from Johnseye for an article, Live Rock For The Audiophile   
    Introduction

    Three live concerts: Dead & Company, Yes, and Radiohead. From somewhere in the front 10 rows and back of the venue.

    The Grateful Dead, in 1974, introduced the famous "Wall of Sound" to bring a better amplification system for the audience at their concerts. Much has been written but the basic concept was that each instrument had its own amplifier resulting in less intermodulation distortion. The key to getting the best sound at a rock concert remains with this idea. 
     

    Dead & Co: Riverbend, June 2018
     

    Shakedown Street

    The vending area in the parking lot or a set aside field is an essential part of Grateful Dead culture and the band of fans and vendors that follow the group on tour. Fans usually arrive en mass about an hour before the concert for food, pop-up bars, t-shirts, memorabilia. Like "Alice's Restaurant", you can get anything you like. Shakedown Street is the The Grateful Dead tailgate, and not to be missed before a concert. The group has been touring off, and on, in one form or another for over 50 years.
     

    Current lineup

    The death of Jerry Garcia in 1995 marked the end of the original era. The other four original members got together for a series of concerts in 2015. The current lineup of "Dead & Co" includes John Mayer along with original Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bob Kreutzman
     

    Riverbend, June 2018

    We hung out at Shakedown Street before the show and then made our way to the pit. Very relaxed crowd and we easily made our way close to the front of the stage. The sound was fantastic as expected. Notice the individal microphones and amps for each instrument. Riverbend is an outdoor arena and there are large arrays of speakers above and to the sides, projecting sound to the larger audience. The sound we heard, primarily seemed to come from the stage amps and speakers. John Mayer did a great job and we had fun. Didn't think about the "sound system" during the concert. The individual guitar amps seem to be either the classic Vox or similar tube amps. Unlike the home system, in this case the "soundstage" is formed by the individual speaker/amps. I've learned that these are mic'd for output to the main PA system which is clearly Class D or similar high powered. Note the abundance of on stage powered speakers.
     
    




     
     

     
     

     
     
     

    Yes: PNC Pavilion, July 2018
     

    Returned to PNC Pavillion, the little brother of Riverbend and part of the same complex, for "the Yes "An Evening with Yes". We had seats in the right Pit approximately 8 rows from the front. As seen from the video clip, there are also small stage amps, but our seats were closer to one of the large arrays to each side of the stage. Steve Howe's guitar playing was itself magical. He is unquestionably a master of the instrument and, like Bob Weir, its remarkable that they have been performing for 50 years! From an audiophile perspective, however, when the band played together and loud, the individual instruments blurred together. I found this distracting. In this case being seated close to the edge of the stage was not a good spot to listen to "Close to the Edge". Further back near the mixing box, the sound was similarly blurred when loud. Rather than sitting back and listening to the concert, I found myself increasingly listening to the sound system.
     

    This wideangle video shows the banks of speakers. 



     
     

     
     

     
     

     
     
     

    Radiohead: US Bank Arena July 2018
     

    The site of the infamous The Who concert of 1979 in which 11 teenagers and young adults were trampled in the rush to enter the arena for sold-out festival seating. Cincinnati subsequently banned festival seating until 2004. We got general admission tickets. When we arrived at 5pm there was already an orderly line forming. The gates opened at 6PM. We headed right for the center of the moon shaped pool of people congregating at the front of the stage after grabbing a couple of beers from a vendor. Johnny Greenwoods Jujun opened. Note the individually mic'd instruments and VOX guitar amps. Perfect soundstage! 



     
     

     
     

     
     

    When Radiohead started I was mesmerized. There are many Youtube videos of concerts -- some terrific and with excellent sound but none of these compared to seeing and hearing them live and up-close.

    US Bank Arena doesn't have a great reputation for sound either but from our position the sound was terrific. Similarly guitar feeds into on stage Vox (or similar) amps. Huge speaker arrays way above and to the sides of us.

    My impression of modern rock has been multimic'd multitrack recordings assembled by the mastering process into a final stereo production. What amazed me was that the blend of purely acoustic sounds, with analog instruments and vacuum tube amps, along with electronic samples, midi etc ... and all live. During warm up it was clear that the drums had both a direct sound as well as a midi feed into sampling/DSP. Two drummers full time, and up to four with both the Greenwood brothers playing drums on one song! These complex rhythms are performed live. Whoever is routing the instruments through the MIDI/sampling is an unsung live performer! 

    Daydreaming is the opening song. Carefully organized, a symphony of motion, sound, light. The soundstage was full and ambient. I didn't listen for instruments in a particular location in space, rather sounds fill the space from right to left up and down, with reverberation from back to front. 

     
     

     
     

    Desert Island Disk the acoustic guitar and bass lead into vocals. In this case the guitar is precisely located on the stage which is otherwise filled with swirling electronic samples. "Different types of love are possible"... 
     
     

     
     
     
     

    Ful Stop the stage pounds with a hard driving beat, electronics, and blaring blue lights. Raw energy fills the arena. "You've really messed up everything." ... the guitars enter ... "Truth will mess you up." I'm hypnotized. 
     
     

     
     

    2+2=5 We head back to "Hail to the Thief" seamlessly. Thom Yorke is fully warmed up and on fire. 

    Myxomatosis The entire crowd is rocking to this raw energy version. Is the bass synthesized? I'm just having fun. This might have been my favorite song of the night ... might 

    Kid A MIDI Synth with a swirling soundstage, electronic. Wow this is live! Of all the songs, I'd have thought this was a studio creation. 

    All I Need Electronic Love Song. Swaying Back and Forth with my arm around my wife. Singing to eachother. The bells are real bells ... who would've thought that will all the synth and electronic equipment they'd bring real bells. 

    Videotape Awesome piano. Sure its a sampled piano. Do I care? 

    Lucky Back to OK Computer. Wow, I'm realizing that these songs flow effortlessly from 1997-2016. This is a unified performance. 

    Bloom of all the songs you'd think are synthesized, they are playing this live. Hmmm. Real drums.

    Ok so the rest is equally terrific and they close with How to Disappear completely, perfect. We use this as an opportunity to head up to grab some food & beer and the remainder of the review takes this into account. Firstly I realize how lucky we were to be so close because the entire arena is filled and everyone is standing even in the nosebleed seats. They do two encore sets: a total of 8 songs! Immediately I notice that the music is blurred. Its still as loud as it was on the floor but now loud and muddled. Its an entirely different experience.
     

    Second Encore
     

    The Bends Woah! Of course the crowd erupts and sings along. From 1995 blending in perfectly with music from this decade. 

    Weird Fishes

    Karma Police and Thom Yorks ends with an acoustic sing-a-long with the audience... perfect.
     
     

    Closing Food for Thoughts

    When you are having fun and it sounds right, the details of the soundsystem fade into the background. Modern guitar bands continue to use tube based amplifiers and these amplifiers are mic'd to send to the large PA system. Avoiding this PA system is the key to great sound. Don't worry about getting close and center because the large amps and speakers don't project at you, rather you get on stage sound which is remarkably better. This isn't subtle. The Dead were inventors/early proponents of the "Wall of Sound" i.e. individially mic'd and amplified instruments. Whether this is due to lower intermodulation distortion, avoidance of "Class D etc" amplifiers, or avoidance of overload distortion, the sound coming from the linear banks of speakers is horribly distorted comparted with the smaller on stage powered speakers. 

    This supports the idea that multi-amped systems with an amplifier per speaker element (at home "Wall of Sound") may be the best way to reproduce complex rock music. My experiences also support the idea to me, that the specifications of the individual ampliers remain critical regardless of the music source. 
     
     
     
     
  10. Upvote
    jabbr got a reaction from tmkirst for an article, Live Rock For The Audiophile   
    Introduction

    Three live concerts: Dead & Company, Yes, and Radiohead. From somewhere in the front 10 rows and back of the venue.

    The Grateful Dead, in 1974, introduced the famous "Wall of Sound" to bring a better amplification system for the audience at their concerts. Much has been written but the basic concept was that each instrument had its own amplifier resulting in less intermodulation distortion. The key to getting the best sound at a rock concert remains with this idea. 
     

    Dead & Co: Riverbend, June 2018
     

    Shakedown Street

    The vending area in the parking lot or a set aside field is an essential part of Grateful Dead culture and the band of fans and vendors that follow the group on tour. Fans usually arrive en mass about an hour before the concert for food, pop-up bars, t-shirts, memorabilia. Like "Alice's Restaurant", you can get anything you like. Shakedown Street is the The Grateful Dead tailgate, and not to be missed before a concert. The group has been touring off, and on, in one form or another for over 50 years.
     

    Current lineup

    The death of Jerry Garcia in 1995 marked the end of the original era. The other four original members got together for a series of concerts in 2015. The current lineup of "Dead & Co" includes John Mayer along with original Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bob Kreutzman
     

    Riverbend, June 2018

    We hung out at Shakedown Street before the show and then made our way to the pit. Very relaxed crowd and we easily made our way close to the front of the stage. The sound was fantastic as expected. Notice the individal microphones and amps for each instrument. Riverbend is an outdoor arena and there are large arrays of speakers above and to the sides, projecting sound to the larger audience. The sound we heard, primarily seemed to come from the stage amps and speakers. John Mayer did a great job and we had fun. Didn't think about the "sound system" during the concert. The individual guitar amps seem to be either the classic Vox or similar tube amps. Unlike the home system, in this case the "soundstage" is formed by the individual speaker/amps. I've learned that these are mic'd for output to the main PA system which is clearly Class D or similar high powered. Note the abundance of on stage powered speakers.
     
    




     
     

     
     

     
     
     

    Yes: PNC Pavilion, July 2018
     

    Returned to PNC Pavillion, the little brother of Riverbend and part of the same complex, for "the Yes "An Evening with Yes". We had seats in the right Pit approximately 8 rows from the front. As seen from the video clip, there are also small stage amps, but our seats were closer to one of the large arrays to each side of the stage. Steve Howe's guitar playing was itself magical. He is unquestionably a master of the instrument and, like Bob Weir, its remarkable that they have been performing for 50 years! From an audiophile perspective, however, when the band played together and loud, the individual instruments blurred together. I found this distracting. In this case being seated close to the edge of the stage was not a good spot to listen to "Close to the Edge". Further back near the mixing box, the sound was similarly blurred when loud. Rather than sitting back and listening to the concert, I found myself increasingly listening to the sound system.
     

    This wideangle video shows the banks of speakers. 



     
     

     
     

     
     

     
     
     

    Radiohead: US Bank Arena July 2018
     

    The site of the infamous The Who concert of 1979 in which 11 teenagers and young adults were trampled in the rush to enter the arena for sold-out festival seating. Cincinnati subsequently banned festival seating until 2004. We got general admission tickets. When we arrived at 5pm there was already an orderly line forming. The gates opened at 6PM. We headed right for the center of the moon shaped pool of people congregating at the front of the stage after grabbing a couple of beers from a vendor. Johnny Greenwoods Jujun opened. Note the individually mic'd instruments and VOX guitar amps. Perfect soundstage! 



     
     

     
     

     
     

    When Radiohead started I was mesmerized. There are many Youtube videos of concerts -- some terrific and with excellent sound but none of these compared to seeing and hearing them live and up-close.

    US Bank Arena doesn't have a great reputation for sound either but from our position the sound was terrific. Similarly guitar feeds into on stage Vox (or similar) amps. Huge speaker arrays way above and to the sides of us.

    My impression of modern rock has been multimic'd multitrack recordings assembled by the mastering process into a final stereo production. What amazed me was that the blend of purely acoustic sounds, with analog instruments and vacuum tube amps, along with electronic samples, midi etc ... and all live. During warm up it was clear that the drums had both a direct sound as well as a midi feed into sampling/DSP. Two drummers full time, and up to four with both the Greenwood brothers playing drums on one song! These complex rhythms are performed live. Whoever is routing the instruments through the MIDI/sampling is an unsung live performer! 

    Daydreaming is the opening song. Carefully organized, a symphony of motion, sound, light. The soundstage was full and ambient. I didn't listen for instruments in a particular location in space, rather sounds fill the space from right to left up and down, with reverberation from back to front. 

     
     

     
     

    Desert Island Disk the acoustic guitar and bass lead into vocals. In this case the guitar is precisely located on the stage which is otherwise filled with swirling electronic samples. "Different types of love are possible"... 
     
     

     
     
     
     

    Ful Stop the stage pounds with a hard driving beat, electronics, and blaring blue lights. Raw energy fills the arena. "You've really messed up everything." ... the guitars enter ... "Truth will mess you up." I'm hypnotized. 
     
     

     
     

    2+2=5 We head back to "Hail to the Thief" seamlessly. Thom Yorke is fully warmed up and on fire. 

    Myxomatosis The entire crowd is rocking to this raw energy version. Is the bass synthesized? I'm just having fun. This might have been my favorite song of the night ... might 

    Kid A MIDI Synth with a swirling soundstage, electronic. Wow this is live! Of all the songs, I'd have thought this was a studio creation. 

    All I Need Electronic Love Song. Swaying Back and Forth with my arm around my wife. Singing to eachother. The bells are real bells ... who would've thought that will all the synth and electronic equipment they'd bring real bells. 

    Videotape Awesome piano. Sure its a sampled piano. Do I care? 

    Lucky Back to OK Computer. Wow, I'm realizing that these songs flow effortlessly from 1997-2016. This is a unified performance. 

    Bloom of all the songs you'd think are synthesized, they are playing this live. Hmmm. Real drums.

    Ok so the rest is equally terrific and they close with How to Disappear completely, perfect. We use this as an opportunity to head up to grab some food & beer and the remainder of the review takes this into account. Firstly I realize how lucky we were to be so close because the entire arena is filled and everyone is standing even in the nosebleed seats. They do two encore sets: a total of 8 songs! Immediately I notice that the music is blurred. Its still as loud as it was on the floor but now loud and muddled. Its an entirely different experience.
     

    Second Encore
     

    The Bends Woah! Of course the crowd erupts and sings along. From 1995 blending in perfectly with music from this decade. 

    Weird Fishes

    Karma Police and Thom Yorks ends with an acoustic sing-a-long with the audience... perfect.
     
     

    Closing Food for Thoughts

    When you are having fun and it sounds right, the details of the soundsystem fade into the background. Modern guitar bands continue to use tube based amplifiers and these amplifiers are mic'd to send to the large PA system. Avoiding this PA system is the key to great sound. Don't worry about getting close and center because the large amps and speakers don't project at you, rather you get on stage sound which is remarkably better. This isn't subtle. The Dead were inventors/early proponents of the "Wall of Sound" i.e. individially mic'd and amplified instruments. Whether this is due to lower intermodulation distortion, avoidance of "Class D etc" amplifiers, or avoidance of overload distortion, the sound coming from the linear banks of speakers is horribly distorted comparted with the smaller on stage powered speakers. 

    This supports the idea that multi-amped systems with an amplifier per speaker element (at home "Wall of Sound") may be the best way to reproduce complex rock music. My experiences also support the idea to me, that the specifications of the individual ampliers remain critical regardless of the music source. 
     
     
     
     
  11. Upvote
    jabbr got a reaction from wgscott for an article, Live Rock For The Audiophile   
    Introduction

    Three live concerts: Dead & Company, Yes, and Radiohead. From somewhere in the front 10 rows and back of the venue.

    The Grateful Dead, in 1974, introduced the famous "Wall of Sound" to bring a better amplification system for the audience at their concerts. Much has been written but the basic concept was that each instrument had its own amplifier resulting in less intermodulation distortion. The key to getting the best sound at a rock concert remains with this idea. 
     

    Dead & Co: Riverbend, June 2018
     

    Shakedown Street

    The vending area in the parking lot or a set aside field is an essential part of Grateful Dead culture and the band of fans and vendors that follow the group on tour. Fans usually arrive en mass about an hour before the concert for food, pop-up bars, t-shirts, memorabilia. Like "Alice's Restaurant", you can get anything you like. Shakedown Street is the The Grateful Dead tailgate, and not to be missed before a concert. The group has been touring off, and on, in one form or another for over 50 years.
     

    Current lineup

    The death of Jerry Garcia in 1995 marked the end of the original era. The other four original members got together for a series of concerts in 2015. The current lineup of "Dead & Co" includes John Mayer along with original Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bob Kreutzman
     

    Riverbend, June 2018

    We hung out at Shakedown Street before the show and then made our way to the pit. Very relaxed crowd and we easily made our way close to the front of the stage. The sound was fantastic as expected. Notice the individal microphones and amps for each instrument. Riverbend is an outdoor arena and there are large arrays of speakers above and to the sides, projecting sound to the larger audience. The sound we heard, primarily seemed to come from the stage amps and speakers. John Mayer did a great job and we had fun. Didn't think about the "sound system" during the concert. The individual guitar amps seem to be either the classic Vox or similar tube amps. Unlike the home system, in this case the "soundstage" is formed by the individual speaker/amps. I've learned that these are mic'd for output to the main PA system which is clearly Class D or similar high powered. Note the abundance of on stage powered speakers.
     
    




     
     

     
     

     
     
     

    Yes: PNC Pavilion, July 2018
     

    Returned to PNC Pavillion, the little brother of Riverbend and part of the same complex, for "the Yes "An Evening with Yes". We had seats in the right Pit approximately 8 rows from the front. As seen from the video clip, there are also small stage amps, but our seats were closer to one of the large arrays to each side of the stage. Steve Howe's guitar playing was itself magical. He is unquestionably a master of the instrument and, like Bob Weir, its remarkable that they have been performing for 50 years! From an audiophile perspective, however, when the band played together and loud, the individual instruments blurred together. I found this distracting. In this case being seated close to the edge of the stage was not a good spot to listen to "Close to the Edge". Further back near the mixing box, the sound was similarly blurred when loud. Rather than sitting back and listening to the concert, I found myself increasingly listening to the sound system.
     

    This wideangle video shows the banks of speakers. 



     
     

     
     

     
     

     
     
     

    Radiohead: US Bank Arena July 2018
     

    The site of the infamous The Who concert of 1979 in which 11 teenagers and young adults were trampled in the rush to enter the arena for sold-out festival seating. Cincinnati subsequently banned festival seating until 2004. We got general admission tickets. When we arrived at 5pm there was already an orderly line forming. The gates opened at 6PM. We headed right for the center of the moon shaped pool of people congregating at the front of the stage after grabbing a couple of beers from a vendor. Johnny Greenwoods Jujun opened. Note the individually mic'd instruments and VOX guitar amps. Perfect soundstage! 



     
     

     
     

     
     

    When Radiohead started I was mesmerized. There are many Youtube videos of concerts -- some terrific and with excellent sound but none of these compared to seeing and hearing them live and up-close.

    US Bank Arena doesn't have a great reputation for sound either but from our position the sound was terrific. Similarly guitar feeds into on stage Vox (or similar) amps. Huge speaker arrays way above and to the sides of us.

    My impression of modern rock has been multimic'd multitrack recordings assembled by the mastering process into a final stereo production. What amazed me was that the blend of purely acoustic sounds, with analog instruments and vacuum tube amps, along with electronic samples, midi etc ... and all live. During warm up it was clear that the drums had both a direct sound as well as a midi feed into sampling/DSP. Two drummers full time, and up to four with both the Greenwood brothers playing drums on one song! These complex rhythms are performed live. Whoever is routing the instruments through the MIDI/sampling is an unsung live performer! 

    Daydreaming is the opening song. Carefully organized, a symphony of motion, sound, light. The soundstage was full and ambient. I didn't listen for instruments in a particular location in space, rather sounds fill the space from right to left up and down, with reverberation from back to front. 

     
     

     
     

    Desert Island Disk the acoustic guitar and bass lead into vocals. In this case the guitar is precisely located on the stage which is otherwise filled with swirling electronic samples. "Different types of love are possible"... 
     
     

     
     
     
     

    Ful Stop the stage pounds with a hard driving beat, electronics, and blaring blue lights. Raw energy fills the arena. "You've really messed up everything." ... the guitars enter ... "Truth will mess you up." I'm hypnotized. 
     
     

     
     

    2+2=5 We head back to "Hail to the Thief" seamlessly. Thom Yorke is fully warmed up and on fire. 

    Myxomatosis The entire crowd is rocking to this raw energy version. Is the bass synthesized? I'm just having fun. This might have been my favorite song of the night ... might 

    Kid A MIDI Synth with a swirling soundstage, electronic. Wow this is live! Of all the songs, I'd have thought this was a studio creation. 

    All I Need Electronic Love Song. Swaying Back and Forth with my arm around my wife. Singing to eachother. The bells are real bells ... who would've thought that will all the synth and electronic equipment they'd bring real bells. 

    Videotape Awesome piano. Sure its a sampled piano. Do I care? 

    Lucky Back to OK Computer. Wow, I'm realizing that these songs flow effortlessly from 1997-2016. This is a unified performance. 

    Bloom of all the songs you'd think are synthesized, they are playing this live. Hmmm. Real drums.

    Ok so the rest is equally terrific and they close with How to Disappear completely, perfect. We use this as an opportunity to head up to grab some food & beer and the remainder of the review takes this into account. Firstly I realize how lucky we were to be so close because the entire arena is filled and everyone is standing even in the nosebleed seats. They do two encore sets: a total of 8 songs! Immediately I notice that the music is blurred. Its still as loud as it was on the floor but now loud and muddled. Its an entirely different experience.
     

    Second Encore
     

    The Bends Woah! Of course the crowd erupts and sings along. From 1995 blending in perfectly with music from this decade. 

    Weird Fishes

    Karma Police and Thom Yorks ends with an acoustic sing-a-long with the audience... perfect.
     
     

    Closing Food for Thoughts

    When you are having fun and it sounds right, the details of the soundsystem fade into the background. Modern guitar bands continue to use tube based amplifiers and these amplifiers are mic'd to send to the large PA system. Avoiding this PA system is the key to great sound. Don't worry about getting close and center because the large amps and speakers don't project at you, rather you get on stage sound which is remarkably better. This isn't subtle. The Dead were inventors/early proponents of the "Wall of Sound" i.e. individially mic'd and amplified instruments. Whether this is due to lower intermodulation distortion, avoidance of "Class D etc" amplifiers, or avoidance of overload distortion, the sound coming from the linear banks of speakers is horribly distorted comparted with the smaller on stage powered speakers. 

    This supports the idea that multi-amped systems with an amplifier per speaker element (at home "Wall of Sound") may be the best way to reproduce complex rock music. My experiences also support the idea to me, that the specifications of the individual ampliers remain critical regardless of the music source. 
     
     
     
     
  12. Upvote
    jabbr got a reaction from The Computer Audiophile for an article, Live Rock For The Audiophile   
    Introduction

    Three live concerts: Dead & Company, Yes, and Radiohead. From somewhere in the front 10 rows and back of the venue.

    The Grateful Dead, in 1974, introduced the famous "Wall of Sound" to bring a better amplification system for the audience at their concerts. Much has been written but the basic concept was that each instrument had its own amplifier resulting in less intermodulation distortion. The key to getting the best sound at a rock concert remains with this idea. 
     

    Dead & Co: Riverbend, June 2018
     

    Shakedown Street

    The vending area in the parking lot or a set aside field is an essential part of Grateful Dead culture and the band of fans and vendors that follow the group on tour. Fans usually arrive en mass about an hour before the concert for food, pop-up bars, t-shirts, memorabilia. Like "Alice's Restaurant", you can get anything you like. Shakedown Street is the The Grateful Dead tailgate, and not to be missed before a concert. The group has been touring off, and on, in one form or another for over 50 years.
     

    Current lineup

    The death of Jerry Garcia in 1995 marked the end of the original era. The other four original members got together for a series of concerts in 2015. The current lineup of "Dead & Co" includes John Mayer along with original Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bob Kreutzman
     

    Riverbend, June 2018

    We hung out at Shakedown Street before the show and then made our way to the pit. Very relaxed crowd and we easily made our way close to the front of the stage. The sound was fantastic as expected. Notice the individal microphones and amps for each instrument. Riverbend is an outdoor arena and there are large arrays of speakers above and to the sides, projecting sound to the larger audience. The sound we heard, primarily seemed to come from the stage amps and speakers. John Mayer did a great job and we had fun. Didn't think about the "sound system" during the concert. The individual guitar amps seem to be either the classic Vox or similar tube amps. Unlike the home system, in this case the "soundstage" is formed by the individual speaker/amps. I've learned that these are mic'd for output to the main PA system which is clearly Class D or similar high powered. Note the abundance of on stage powered speakers.
     
    




     
     

     
     

     
     
     

    Yes: PNC Pavilion, July 2018
     

    Returned to PNC Pavillion, the little brother of Riverbend and part of the same complex, for "the Yes "An Evening with Yes". We had seats in the right Pit approximately 8 rows from the front. As seen from the video clip, there are also small stage amps, but our seats were closer to one of the large arrays to each side of the stage. Steve Howe's guitar playing was itself magical. He is unquestionably a master of the instrument and, like Bob Weir, its remarkable that they have been performing for 50 years! From an audiophile perspective, however, when the band played together and loud, the individual instruments blurred together. I found this distracting. In this case being seated close to the edge of the stage was not a good spot to listen to "Close to the Edge". Further back near the mixing box, the sound was similarly blurred when loud. Rather than sitting back and listening to the concert, I found myself increasingly listening to the sound system.
     

    This wideangle video shows the banks of speakers. 



     
     

     
     

     
     

     
     
     

    Radiohead: US Bank Arena July 2018
     

    The site of the infamous The Who concert of 1979 in which 11 teenagers and young adults were trampled in the rush to enter the arena for sold-out festival seating. Cincinnati subsequently banned festival seating until 2004. We got general admission tickets. When we arrived at 5pm there was already an orderly line forming. The gates opened at 6PM. We headed right for the center of the moon shaped pool of people congregating at the front of the stage after grabbing a couple of beers from a vendor. Johnny Greenwoods Jujun opened. Note the individually mic'd instruments and VOX guitar amps. Perfect soundstage! 



     
     

     
     

     
     

    When Radiohead started I was mesmerized. There are many Youtube videos of concerts -- some terrific and with excellent sound but none of these compared to seeing and hearing them live and up-close.

    US Bank Arena doesn't have a great reputation for sound either but from our position the sound was terrific. Similarly guitar feeds into on stage Vox (or similar) amps. Huge speaker arrays way above and to the sides of us.

    My impression of modern rock has been multimic'd multitrack recordings assembled by the mastering process into a final stereo production. What amazed me was that the blend of purely acoustic sounds, with analog instruments and vacuum tube amps, along with electronic samples, midi etc ... and all live. During warm up it was clear that the drums had both a direct sound as well as a midi feed into sampling/DSP. Two drummers full time, and up to four with both the Greenwood brothers playing drums on one song! These complex rhythms are performed live. Whoever is routing the instruments through the MIDI/sampling is an unsung live performer! 

    Daydreaming is the opening song. Carefully organized, a symphony of motion, sound, light. The soundstage was full and ambient. I didn't listen for instruments in a particular location in space, rather sounds fill the space from right to left up and down, with reverberation from back to front. 

     
     

     
     

    Desert Island Disk the acoustic guitar and bass lead into vocals. In this case the guitar is precisely located on the stage which is otherwise filled with swirling electronic samples. "Different types of love are possible"... 
     
     

     
     
     
     

    Ful Stop the stage pounds with a hard driving beat, electronics, and blaring blue lights. Raw energy fills the arena. "You've really messed up everything." ... the guitars enter ... "Truth will mess you up." I'm hypnotized. 
     
     

     
     

    2+2=5 We head back to "Hail to the Thief" seamlessly. Thom Yorke is fully warmed up and on fire. 

    Myxomatosis The entire crowd is rocking to this raw energy version. Is the bass synthesized? I'm just having fun. This might have been my favorite song of the night ... might 

    Kid A MIDI Synth with a swirling soundstage, electronic. Wow this is live! Of all the songs, I'd have thought this was a studio creation. 

    All I Need Electronic Love Song. Swaying Back and Forth with my arm around my wife. Singing to eachother. The bells are real bells ... who would've thought that will all the synth and electronic equipment they'd bring real bells. 

    Videotape Awesome piano. Sure its a sampled piano. Do I care? 

    Lucky Back to OK Computer. Wow, I'm realizing that these songs flow effortlessly from 1997-2016. This is a unified performance. 

    Bloom of all the songs you'd think are synthesized, they are playing this live. Hmmm. Real drums.

    Ok so the rest is equally terrific and they close with How to Disappear completely, perfect. We use this as an opportunity to head up to grab some food & beer and the remainder of the review takes this into account. Firstly I realize how lucky we were to be so close because the entire arena is filled and everyone is standing even in the nosebleed seats. They do two encore sets: a total of 8 songs! Immediately I notice that the music is blurred. Its still as loud as it was on the floor but now loud and muddled. Its an entirely different experience.
     

    Second Encore
     

    The Bends Woah! Of course the crowd erupts and sings along. From 1995 blending in perfectly with music from this decade. 

    Weird Fishes

    Karma Police and Thom Yorks ends with an acoustic sing-a-long with the audience... perfect.
     
     

    Closing Food for Thoughts

    When you are having fun and it sounds right, the details of the soundsystem fade into the background. Modern guitar bands continue to use tube based amplifiers and these amplifiers are mic'd to send to the large PA system. Avoiding this PA system is the key to great sound. Don't worry about getting close and center because the large amps and speakers don't project at you, rather you get on stage sound which is remarkably better. This isn't subtle. The Dead were inventors/early proponents of the "Wall of Sound" i.e. individially mic'd and amplified instruments. Whether this is due to lower intermodulation distortion, avoidance of "Class D etc" amplifiers, or avoidance of overload distortion, the sound coming from the linear banks of speakers is horribly distorted comparted with the smaller on stage powered speakers. 

    This supports the idea that multi-amped systems with an amplifier per speaker element (at home "Wall of Sound") may be the best way to reproduce complex rock music. My experiences also support the idea to me, that the specifications of the individual ampliers remain critical regardless of the music source. 
     
     
     
     
×
×
  • Create New...