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Thread: Truth and Tonality: can they co-exist?

  1. #11
    [WBF Founding Member] Gregadd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
    I agree. If a recording "needs" more distortion or whatever to sound good, then the mix engineers didn't do a very good job. Ideally, a playback system will reproduce exactly what is in the recording, whatever the source. That's the definition of high fidelity. Not "sounds pleasing" as some people seems to think.

    --Ethan
    Nor should it sound disconsonant under the umbrella of "accuracy" as some tolerate.
    Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friendly to one, and enemy to none.
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  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by fas42 View Post
    Yes, but for some people that seems to be the dilemma. I have a collection of HiFiNews going back to 1986, and have always enjoyed the idiosyncratic and colourful assessments of the industry and gear by Ken Kessler. Of course he was a notorious supporter of tube or valve componentry, and I have lost count of the number of times he would recount an experience listening to highly "revealing" components, sniff in a wearisome way and state "Well, if you want to hear the bloke in the third row scratching his bum, or the mosquito landing on the horn of the third trombone, this may be the right stuff for you, but for me, I'll just toodle off, sample some tasty tubes and enjoy listening to music!" All very amusing, but it seems a strong theme in a lot of people's thinking, even in the area of, dare I say it, room treatments.

    Frank
    Kudos to him for the honesty. There is, of course, nothing wrong with audio that colors the signal, and all of your music collection, with a universal tonality that helps you enjoy the music. It only becomes a problem when you refuse to admit that it is coloration and insist that your color of choice is more "natural" or "life like" or "musical" than a more accurate reproduction of the recording.

    Tim
    In high-end audio, you can't even fight an opinion with the facts.

  3. #13
    VIP/Donor [VIP/Donor] microstrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
    Ideally, a playback system will reproduce exactly what is in the recording, whatever the source. That's the definition of high fidelity. Not "sounds pleasing" as some people seems to think.

    --Ethan
    We may agree on this one, but who can tell you exactly what it is in the recording?

    The recording per si is just a set of 0's and 1's, or a V(t). Humans can not precept them, they need a transducer system, that must be appreciated subjectively,

    We must not forget that what you may consider "sound pleasing" is seen by others as "more lifelike".

  4. #14
    [WBF Founding Member] Gregadd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phelonious Ponk View Post
    Kudos to him for the honesty. There is, of course, nothing wrong with audio that colors the signal, and all of your music collection, with a universal tonality that helps you enjoy the music. It only becomes a problem when you refuse to admit that it is coloration and insist that your color of choice is more "natural" or "life like" or "musical" than a more accurate reproduction of the recording.

    Tim
    Certainly all systems distort. It seems logical to prefer pleasant distortions rather than irritating ones. Indeed sins of omission tend to be less offensive than sins of commission. Be careful when invited to pick your poison no matter how pleasant the taste. Pursuit of the real thing may be a goal you never reach. It is extremely tempting to camp out in some attractive haven. I encourage you to continue on that journey. I have heard many a great system devoid of euphonic colrations. Not all of them hideously expensive.

    We do need to remember to listen to our system not like a reviewer but as a music lover. Hearing trains going by may help the reviewer assess the systems ability to resolve but does little for the end user.
    Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friendly to one, and enemy to none.
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  5. #15
    VIP/Donor [VIP/Donor] microstrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fas42 View Post
    Yes, but for some people that seems to be the dilemma. I have a collection of HiFiNews going back to 1986, and have always enjoyed the idiosyncratic and colourful assessments of the industry and gear by Ken Kessler. Of course he was a notorious supporter of tube or valve componentry, and I have lost count of the number of times he would recount an experience listening to highly "revealing" components, sniff in a wearisome way and state "Well, if you want to hear the bloke in the third row scratching his bum, or the mosquito landing on the horn of the third trombone, this may be the right stuff for you, but for me, I'll just toodle off, sample some tasty tubes and enjoy listening to music!" All very amusing, but it seems a strong theme in a lot of people's thinking, even in the area of, dare I say it, room treatments.

    Frank
    Frank,

    We should frame Kessler writings about tubes in the proper time and place.

    IMHO Kessler is not a reviewer in the sense we discussed in another thread - he is an hifi enthusiast with good writing skills and large experience, that became an hifi opinion maker. His claims at the time were made in a provocative way against the dominant opinion of the hifi press, favoring the solid state amplifiers. As most of this amplifiers had a clinical unpleasant sound the mite of the pleasant (euphonic ) tube sound was created.

    I have the January 1983 HFNRR Martin Colloms review of the Audio Research SP8 preamplifier. The measurements show that distortion (dB) ref 0.5V IHF at 20, 2000 and 20000 Hz is -97dB, -93 dB and -90 dB, respectively. Why should it sound "pleasant" ?

    I am going to quote a sentence of Peter Walker of Quad in 1973 , "I have never said that all the amplifiers sound the same, neither I have said that all amplifiers sound different, because neither statement would be true. What I have said is that if two amplifiers are compared in some particular experimental setup and a difference in sound quality is shown to exist, then proper investigation will precisely reveal an explicable cause or causes for the difference" .

    Again IMHO, 38 years later the proper investigation has not been carried yet.

  6. #16
    [WBF Founding Member] Gregadd's Avatar
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    I am reminded of the fairy tale. Rather than enjoy her beauty or improve upon each morning she sought out the competion to destroy antyhing better. The profit motive is the ultimate corruptor. If only instead of having a patent system we were allowed to take the best prodcut and improve upon it. Where would be?e
    Last edited by Gregadd; 01-28-2011 at 12:31 PM.
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  7. #17
    WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)/Member Sponsor [Technical Expert] garylkoh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by microstrip View Post
    I am going to quote a sentence of Peter Walker of Quad in 1973 , "I have never said that all the amplifiers sound the same, neither I have said that all amplifiers sound different, because neither statement would be true. What I have said is that if two amplifiers are compared in some particular experimental setup and a difference in sound quality is shown to exist, then proper investigation will precisely reveal an explicable cause or causes for the difference" .

    Again IMHO, 38 years later the proper investigation has not been carried yet.
    I think that it has - 25 years ago. See here:
    http://www.stereophile.com/content/carver-challenge
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    Genesis Advanced Technologies

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Phelonious Ponk View Post
    There is, of course, nothing wrong with audio that colors the signal, and all of your music collection, with a universal tonality that helps you enjoy the music. It only becomes a problem when you refuse to admit that it is coloration and insist that your color of choice is more "natural" or "life like" or "musical" than a more accurate reproduction of the recording.

    Tim
    What if I am willing to admit that it IS a coloration, and it DOES make the system sound more realistic and natural?

    The only thing that is neutral in audio are the written notes in the score. It all gets colored after that.

    Let us please remember that the stereo is a means to an end, and not an end unto itself. The goal is to recreate the performance.

    Tubes, gold, multi-stranded conductors. I would submit that these alter the signal. The best ones give a paradoxical tonal transparency that can only be described as magic. Low distortion helps too, but it needs to be counterbalanced in a few very important places.

    I can demonstrate the paradox of low distortion vs. tonality to anyone on my system.
    "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
    - Mark Twain

  9. #19
    VIP/Donor [VIP/Donor] microstrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garylkoh View Post
    I think that it has - 25 years ago. See here:
    http://www.stereophile.com/content/carver-challenge
    The Carver challenge was a very interesting experience, but can not be considered a research project.

    The uncontrolled conditions in which it was carried, and the reports that were made were so vague, that they could not please neither the objective not the subjective community. However they are still fueling never ending discussions between the two camps.

    We could expect that it would trigger some scientific research on the sonic characterization of the harmonic contents of amplifier distortion, but as far as I know, there is no reference publication on it.

    But I would pay to listen to the Carver experiment repeated with Steve Lamm system in his fantastic room!

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gregadd View Post
    Nor should it sound disconsonant under the umbrella of "accuracy" as some tolerate.
    I disagree. If a recording really does sound poor then, again, the recording and mix engineers are to blame. You may want to add an EQ to balance the sound of individual tracks to your liking, and that's fine. But that same EQ will not apply to all recordings. Otherwise, you might just as well set a graphic EQ to a smiley face and then your system will sound "better" on everything. I hope that's not what you're implying.

    --Ethan

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