Truth and Tonality: can they co-exist?

Jul 1, 2010
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#22
What if I am willing to admit that it IS a coloration, and it DOES make the system sound more realistic and natural?
I would tell you that it can't make your system sound more natural unless, though a highly unlikely coincidence, that coloration (alteration of the frequency response of the recording) is exactly compensating for some other coloration in your system, resulting in a more accurate reproduction of the recording's signal. I would tell you that because all recordings are not the same, the effect of a coloration (let's say it together: An alteration of the frequency response of the recording) will vary as recordings vary.

Let's say your coloration is a slight dip in the upper midrange. That coloration should sound more "natural" or "realistic" on a recording that is a bit too bright in that range and, therefore, sounds a bit harsh. But on another recording, in which the mastering engineer detected that harshness in the mult-track and adjusted the EQ when mastering to compensate, your system's coloration is going to double that compensation. A 6 db dip now becomes a 12 db dip. It is no longer more "natural" or "realistic." It may even be dull.

You still may like the sound of it better, of course. You may like to go to the museum wearing tinted glasses. You may even have convinced yourself that the paintings are more "natural" or "realistic" wearing those glasses. Enjoy.

Tim
 

LL21

Active Member
Dec 26, 2010
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#23
In reading this thread, i find that i agree with much of what Robert said. I am fortunate to have a pretty nice system (Wilson Grand Slamms, Zanden digital front-end, etc)...where in the end, i just want to hear music...i want to forget about the system. Most often, i find that getting closer more accurate equipment, lower noise floor, lower distortion does get me closer.

However, i do find i need to balance this "quest for lower distortion/accuracy" from time to time with "admitted color" that helps me feel like many of my recordings are actually coming thru closer to what music sounds like in real life. Regardless of whether i believe the music from my system seems likelyt to be "exactly" what the microphone processed through the sound mixing board. sometimes, if you've got a flat, lifeless recording, you can either listen to it that way (or more likely, never play it)...or find a way to artificially "re-inflate it" a touch.

Clearly, two wrongs cannot make a right unless by pure fluke (ie, bad recording actually recolored by your system...and by fluke getting back to what the original live music actually sounded like). but i can say having recently heard Shindo equipment...boy does that stuff make me think.

Super, super, super quiet...lots of detail coming thru...but after 3 recordings and critical listeninng, there is a slightly candlelit quality to the mids where the voices project forward just a hair more...which is wonderful on jazz, Clapton Unplugged, etc...but perhaps "inaccurate" on orchestral where you should not hear the violins quite so far forward relative to the rest of the orchestra.

but in the end, i want music, not sound. and thus, at this level of resolution which i am fortunate to have...i find that i am prepared to look for a touch of well-executed "voicing" like Shindo. the masetto was perhaps not quite well executed enough for me to switch...but its ability to generate so much detail, dynamics, transparency...and add a well-exdcuted candlelight under mid to bring it forward was so beguiling in much of my music...that i have asked to hear the Giscours or Petrus, their top preamps.
 

Gregadd

WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
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#24
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. :D

--Ethan
We can agree that the sound system can have its own coloration either euphonic or sterile independent of the recording. Both are wrong and should be avoided. For me I know something is amiss if all recordings sound similar.
 
Jul 1, 2010
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#25
We can agree that the sound system can have its own coloration either euphonic or sterile independent of the recording. Both are wrong and should be avoided. For me I know something is amiss if all recordings sound similar.
I expect we can all agree on that. Recordings are so radically different that if they all begin to sound similar the system is adding severe coloration. It does happen, but it is very extreme and shouldn't be an issue in anything thought of as "hi-fi."

A study I'd love to see is comprehensive measurements of a few systems considered "euphonic" and "sterile" by audiophiles. I suspect we could not only uncover what's going on, but like the Carver experiment, we would find that it could be duplicated.

Tim
 

fas42

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Jan 8, 2011
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#26
The person who has the most accurate playback system in a room that colors the sound as little as possible. This is the only way to know what's really in the recording.
I can see a problem here -- how do we determine the most accurate playback? There appears to be fairly strong agreement that the usual set of distortion measurements do not tell the whole story, that there are aspects of the sound quality as picked up by the auditory system which are very hard to quantify. So, in that sense, how do we reach a decision on what system will become a reference system for determining the "truth"?

Frank
 
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Robert

New Member
Nov 10, 2010
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#27
May I take a quick poll?

How many people believe that some tubes have the capability to bring you closer to the performance (and the truth)?

How many people believe that all tubes color the signal?

My vote is yes and yes.

If you don't think tubes are colorations, then why is that? And, why would people roll tubes?

I think one thing to understand is that EVERYTHING in audio is colored. Please provide one component that provides the absolute and unvarnished truth. Even copper wire from 2 different manufacturer will sound different (when the distortion is low). Neutrality is a misnomer, and is always in the eye of the beholder.
 
May 30, 2010
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#28
The person who has the most accurate playback system in a room that colors the sound as little as possible. This is the only way to know what's really in the recording.

--Ethan
As people do not agree in what means "colors the sound as little as possible", now we risk chasing own own tail - are we going to use a recording to check that the system is accurate? :eek:
 
#29
poll answers

May I take a quick poll?
> How many people believe that some tubes have the capability to bring you
> closer to the performance (and the truth)?

I don't.

> How many people believe that all tubes color the signal?

I don't make such sweeping judgements. Show me some measurements for a particular audio component and I might be able to answer with conviction. Let me listen to the component and I might have an opinion.

> If you don't think tubes are colorations, then why is that?

I find this question to be awkward.

Tubes are elements in a circuit design. A specific circuit design as a whole may add a coloration. Different designs using the same tube might add different colorations or different levels of coloration.

> And, why would people roll tubes?

Because they want to. They believe that changing tubes might produce differences in sound quality. Nothing to do with what I believe.

Bill
 
Jul 1, 2010
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#30
The recording captures, to the best of its ability, the performance. Our systems reproduce, to the best of their ability, our copies of the recording. The degree of neutrality is the degree to which a system is faithful to, demonstrates a high level of fidelity to the recording's signal. Don't have access to that signal? Second best is the first analog signal in the reproduction chain. That fidelity is measurable. It is not a misnomer and it is not "in the ear of the beholder." If you believe system coloration can bring you closer to a performance that does not exist outside of the recording while being less faithful to that recording, I really don't know how to respond to that other than to wish you great listening pleasure and hope you will someday be able to enjoy your preferences without rationalizing away their objective flaws by insisting that there is no such thing as objectivity.

Tim
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
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#31
I don't believe it's mutually exclusive.
 

fas42

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#32
If you believe system coloration can bring you closer to a performance that does not exist outside of the recording while being less faithful to that recording,...
System colouration can also be seen to occur by the means of room treatments. There is a whole science of dealing with the acoustics in performance venues of, say, symphony orchestras, which is an ongoing activity and widely discussed. This is a form of colouration used theoretically to enhance the listening experience of live music, so how does that aspect fit in to the whole?

Frank
 
Jul 1, 2010
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#33
System colouration can also be seen to occur by the means of room treatments. There is a whole science of dealing with the acoustics in performance venues of, say, symphony orchestras, which is an ongoing activity and widely discussed. This is a form of colouration used theoretically to enhance the listening experience of live music, so how does that aspect fit in to the whole?

Frank
You can measure on-axis and off-axis speaker response. You can measure the response at the listening position in the room. You can control room colorations as much as possible. You can minimize reflections and maximize the amount of direct sound that reaches your ears first.

Or you can accept that sound reproduction is imperfect, find your preference, and embrace it honestly.

Tim
 
May 30, 2010
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#34
You can measure on-axis and off-axis speaker response. You can measure the response at the listening position in the room. You can control room colorations as much as possible. You can minimize reflections and maximize the amount of direct sound that reaches your ears first.

Or you can accept that sound reproduction is imperfect, find your preference, and embrace it honestly.

Tim
I think this is an oversimplification. Are you implying that all indirect sounds are colorations?
 
Jul 1, 2010
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#35
I think this is an oversimplification. Are you implying that all indirect sounds are colorations?
More or less. If they are reflected, they likely to be are colored. If you minimize reflected sound and maximize the direct sound coming from the speaker, you are listening to more of the speakers' frequency response and less of the room response. And yes, that is pretty simple..

Tim
 
May 30, 2010
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#36
More or less. If they are reflected, they likely to be are colored. If you minimize reflected sound and maximize the direct sound coming from the speaker, you are listening to more of the speakers' frequency response and less of the room response. And yes, that is pretty simple..

Tim
Can we extrapolate that listening in an anheoic chamber or in the top of a mast would be the perfection?
 
Jul 1, 2010
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#37
Can we extrapolate that listening in an anheoic chamber or in the top of a mast would be the perfection?
That would be the logical extreme, but it doesn't seem to work that way, as I'm sure you know. When you eliminate reflections completely, it sounds pretty dead. But controlling first reflections is a vital part of acoustic treatment. No need to get too far off on a tangent, though, there are enough threads about room acoustics around here.

Tim
 
May 30, 2010
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#39
That would be the logical extreme, but it doesn't seem to work that way, as I'm sure you know. When you eliminate reflections completely, it sounds pretty dead. But controlling first reflections is a vital part of acoustic treatment. No need to get too far off on a tangent, though, there are enough threads about room acoustics around here.

Tim
We were just debating the objectivity of the concept of accuracy. And it seems it was just shown it is not totally objective, as we can not reach a quantifiable state. As you know room acoustics, particularly small/medium room acoustics is very subjective - although there are some general accepted rules, each provider of acoustical treatments has his personal solution.
 
Jul 1, 2010
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#40
Why would an accurate sound, sound "dead"? Now I'm confused.
It doesn't. I'm sure there is someone here who knows this better than I, but a perfectly "dead" room seems to remove something. Or at least that is my best guess. If an anechoic chamber was not removing something, headphones would sound just as dead, and they don't.

Tim