About Michael Lowe

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steve williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
For those who don't know me, I am Michael Lowe. I go by DallasJustice on this forum. Of course, I'm a lawyer in Dallas. As you may have guessed, this is not meant to be an "expert" forum. I don't consider myself to be an "expert" in anything related to audio, although I am an expert on getting people out of bigtime trouble. :)

Holistic Stereo simply reflects my view on how one should approach 2 channel stereo playback. That is, one should evaluate the entire system at one time. Now, all audiophiles know there is no such thing as "at one time." If there's any commonality among all audiophiles, it's that we all want better music. There's nothing wrong with this view. I know some folks may feel greedy or superficial when they seek to "upgrade" their system. But if we really consider human nature, it doesn't take long to realize that all humans innately want to better themselves and are always seeking more for those around them. There's nothing wrong with this desire, as long as we have a plan and a philosophy to help guide us in this endevour.

My philosophy has changed over the years. I'm about to turn 42. I had been a rock drummer in various rock cover bands playing in clubs from age 15 to 34. I stopped drumming because I started a family and that lifestyle no longer fit in with my other goals in life. However, my love for music never faded. About six or seven years ago, I walked into a hifi shop and sat down in front of a pair of B&W speakers powered by Krell monoblocks. Before that time, I had never heard sound reproduced like that. I had recorded in studios in Austin when I was in college. But I never recalled hearing music played back like that before. I was blown away. Luckily, at that time, I also had the financial means to start buying gear. From that point until now, I can easily describe my philosophy or plan toward audio playback in two distinct phases, which are as follows:

1. The Dealer knows best. The plan was to find a good dealer and "upgrade" the system with some guidance from my trusted dealer, and to some extent from magazines and online fora. What I learned from this experience is that dealers do, in fact, provide invaluable resources for their customers. They can make recommendations based on their experience. They can help setup a system. They can resolve conflicts with manufacturers. But I soon learned that dealers aren't really incentivized to teach their clients very much about how to design and build the best possible playback system. Dealers are more focused on selling "parts" and the "system" usually takes the back seat in this realtionship. Now, this is not a criticism of dealers. As mentioned supra, dealers provide an excellent and vaulable service which the customers simply cannot provide themselves. And, therefore, most dealers are more than "worth it", IMO. To this day, Scotty Warren, is still my go-to dealer here in Dallas. But, I am also a very curious person. I love music and I've always wanted to know more about how the playback system really works.

I built a mediium/large second story dedicated room about 3 years ago. The room is 14'6" wide, 24' long and 9'3" tall. The room has a double floor with green glue sandwiched in between. The walls are all acoustic sheetrock. Although my contractor did an excellent job with the room, it is NOT a room designed by an acoustics expert, like Nyal Mellor or Jeff Hedback. I put my expensive audiophile system in that room and hit play on my server. It sounded awful. It sounded much worse in that room than my old setup sounded which was located in my living room. I had spent a considerable amount of money and time building this room so I was totally perplexed. That's when I sought out help from room acoustics and DSP experts. I hired Nyal Mellor to help design a better setup for that room and install acoustical treatments. This was the beginning of the second phase in my audiophile journey.

2. The Learning Experience. At this point, I discovered that I needed to know more about room acoustics and system setup. For me, this had to be a personal learnig experience. I no longer desired to contract out the learning to someone else. I discovered that only I could truly implement what I learned. Moreover, I had spent an obscene amount of money on my system up to that point, so I was motivated to make it sound its best. Nyal Mellor and others folks online, like Mitch Barnett, Bob Katz, Dr. Uli Brueggeman and Michael Boecker (Mojave) started helping to answer my questions. I learned a lot in this process. I also made a lot of mistakes. The basic principles that I've learned so far, and which guide EVERY choice I make in my system, including gear, are as follows:

A. Proper Acoustic Measurement Matters More. This means simply that, IF you can measure an improved change with a proper microphone measurment, then you will probably be able to hear the improvement if that change really is better. OTOH, the so called improvements which cannot be measured with a microphone but are thought to be heard as an improvement aren't very important and offer no meaningful improvement to the playback system. IOW, the known knowns are MUCH more important than the unknown knowns.

B. Think Backwards. Most really good trial lawyers know that when they get a new case, the first thing they should be thinking about in planning their client's winning strategy is to envision what the jury charge will look like when the case actually goes to trial. Then the lawyer simply tailors his/her approach with the jury charge in mind. This is called thinking backwards.

I've found this approach to be immensley beneficial in planning an audio playback system. If we think backwards, we must always start with the sound waves bouncing around our listening environment. Then we must look at our speakers. Then we must look at how those speakers are being controlled. Finally, we need to consider the source and evaluate it's accuracy.

C. Accuracy is the Standard And Listening is the Decider. The standard I've adopted is very simple. I am trying to get my system to playback in the most accurate way to the source file. In this context, I measure and listen. I am measuring only with a mic. I am not measuring my gear with an oscilloscope and I am not analyzing digital files to see whether the mastering engineer knew how to properly apply dither. The reason is very clear. The largest distortions in ALL audio playback systems relate to the room and the speaker. It's not even close. This IS THE low hanging fruit IN ALL SYSTEMS.

This means that "high resolution" is not a number of bits or sample rate. High resolution is the accuracy heard with MY ears. Accuracy should be measrued in both time and frequency. However, accuracy isn't always easy to see in a graph and one must make some logical leaps and actually listen to final result to determine what sounds best. Measure first and then listen.

This subforum will be populated with topics of interest to me. I hope to cover room acoustics, room treatments, microphone measurement, Digial Signal Processig (DSP; I refuse to call it "Room Correction"), digital crossovers, subwoofers and active speakers.

I've also included some of my favorite threads I've created since being here. I invite others interested in these topics to start their own threads. Finally, I am open to criticism. I don’t pretend to know everything. As some of you know, I'm not afraid of conflict and criticism. In fact, I would be a littlle disappointed if there wasn't some of that here. So, all are welcome. Please just be as respectful as you can be and I will reciprocate.
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