Hmm, 15 years? It's in the box back from the repair shop. I thought i wore out the main bearing because the platter support started scraping, but they said the pillars needed new fluid and rubber bands, the main bearing was OK. I am scratching my head over that, but guess I have no reason to doubt until I try it out again.HA. There was I time when I would have thought you were serious. Now I smile and realize you are joking. How long have you had your SME 30/2?
Interesting choice for the 180/200g and standard, I would have suspected the other way around.
Always good to see the long term camaraderie here. Having a good buddy to share audio stuff with makes the world of difference in the fun and to help get perspective.On Tuesday I had the pleasure to hear Peter's system again. Even though the weather was colder, we had another nice outdoor dinner, pandemic style, at a favorite restaurant with view on the harbor. But it wasn't that cold yet, and while they had installed a heat lamp, it was not strictly necessary.
After dinner, we listened to Holst's chamber opera Savitri and the Six Choruses for male choir. This was followed by Haydn's Harmoniemesse (Harmony Mass) with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (cond. Sir Neville Marriner) and the Cambridge Singers. It was gorgeous how some voices chased one another in the Gloria. We then heard Frans Helmerson playing Dvorak's Cello Concerto with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra under Neeme Jarvi (as I found out later, a digital recording from 1984), and closed with Maurizio Pollini playing Beethoven's piano sonata op. 109. The system sounded better than ever before, and perhaps Peter can describe the most recent changes.
Everything sounded lively and engaging, but there was more. There was an effortless richness to the sound. It was not just a rare harmonic richness, especially evident on the orchestral music. There was also something that Peter aptly calls “atmosphere”. Each recording has its own unique atmosphere which is basically the dimensions and character of the space in which the musicians and singers are performing, and how the sound fills that space. This was never so apparent. The rich timbral contribution of this atmosphere completely melded with the harmonic richness from the instruments in a unified manner that was rather reminiscent of the concert hall experience, and which is as such rarely heard from a system. It was quite astonishing.
Interestingly, even though the sound was enormously resolved in fine timbral detail and separation of performers, there was no perceived emphasis on the treble and no 'brightness' whatsoever. Yet still there was a tremendous amount of air to the sound. That air was combined with great body in the orchestral power range (low mids/mid bass) in a way that again, you rarely hear from a system, where it is usually either more body or more air rather than both, but which was a sound much more familiar from what you hear in a concert hall. There you also usually do not have any brightness despite a marked sense of air.
It could also be said that there was a great "bloom" of sound, in the best sense of the word, even though there is not a single tube in the system. There is, of course, outstanding vinyl playback. I have to say that I am astonished by the sublime way the vdH Gran Cru cartridge now sounds -- what a long way from my first unfavorable impressions back in July where also the tonal balance was completely different. The integration into the system is now so much better, also with a new AC power structure feeding the system, and with I think some modifications to the cartridge by van den Hul.
David Karmeli (ddk) speaks about "managing the energy of the sound in the room". Peter has worked on this, and perhaps a key to getting such a sound that more resembles a concert hall experience is to get a free, unperturbed flow of sound energy into the room and to the listener, a flow that preserves all the information that is all there on the recording but lost so easily.
Although your associated gear all make contribution, It is the Vdh that crates that degree clear air. I mentioned before that after it has done some time it would get that level of air ahead of others. Al also mentioned the instrument separation. It seems we hear the same as I wrote and posted a video on Holst Chorus. The very same record we listened to. Once got accustom to this sound, switching a cart and you will hear what is missing.Sound is energy and energy disturbs the air the way a rabbit leaves foot prints in the snow.
This is on the recording, and I am only now beginning to hear it fill my room.
Sound is energy and energy disturbs the air the way a rabbit leaves foot prints in the snow.
This is on the recording, and I am only now beginning to hear it fill my room.
"There's something in the air besides the atmosphere."
- Lena Lovich, Lucky Number
A fascinating topic and two fascinating sentences. Don't know if I agree with the first one, but I like it. None of what I'll write here is meant as a criticism.
Been some talk about 'air' lately. Peter, I'm interested in exploring your experience more, in light of my own, so that I can understand better what you're saying and perhaps refine my own vocabulary. You write with well constructed sentences. What is interesting is your indicating you are 'only now' beginning to hear it' fill your room. So the referent of 'it' is ... what? Air, sound or energy. I'll speculate that referent is 'air'. Is that right? Kindly bare with my analytics.
I read you as saying the experience of air is new for you. This is the part that is puzzling within my own experience. I've never thought of 'air' as something unusual to hear or experience from my own or other audio systems. I agree that it may take a certain level of system to sense it or experience, but nothing particularly fancy; I'm guessing the majority of systems here on WBF are capable of revealing it from a recording that has it. So I ask myself is Peter talking about the same notion of air that I have, or is this something either new for me or that I call by a different name?
Air is the media on which sound energy travels. (No air no sound.) It's in the hall. I think of it in terms of being part of the venue context. The air is defined by what contains it, the inside of the building that holds it. That containment influences the sound energy in a particular way that (partly?) differentiates from sound energy outside, concert in the park, etc. I hear the interaction of sound energy with its context, it reflects off the hall's walls, ceiling, floor, etc. Curtains, baffles, carpeting, etc. influence that to a degree that each venue, each hall, has a fairly unique sound/influence of its own. But virtually all venues yield some sense of air. Well, maybe not an anechoic chamber so much; there the air is typically dead.
I also hear some sound from an orchestra that is less influenced by its containing venue, moreso from the interior of the orchestra, furthest from the walls. But there is still plenty of air there. I hear sound energy rising up, into the air as it were. I usually describe that as a transient cloud above or harmonics hovering over the performers. Sometimes I have a sense of the air separating performers or sections and what happens in that space when either, say, one or both play. Quartetts, Trios are an example too.
There's the sound of air in a venue further enclosed by an instrument. The tube of a flute or clarinet, the wood body of a cello. Hearing that is what I sometimes describe as a "lit from within" quality, or as Nora Jones describes, "the dark and shady corners of a violin", the woodiness of an instrument.
I suspect to a degree, that how we hear 'air' is tied to timing. Reflection off a back wall, etc.
Yes, it's on the recording. (The 'mixing' of the performance's sound energy with the air in one's audio room impacts the way wed hear the recording, but let's leave that for another time.)
The capacity to reveal air from a recording is I believe a product of the recording and the source. One's analog front end is critical and obviously some gear is more revelatory of what's on the recording than other gear. There is some gear that is known for it's ability to render air and spaciousness; whether that is homogenizing or revealing is another topic. Holt doesn't discuss "air" but he defines "airy": Pertaining to treble which sounds light, delicate, open ... Apparent airiness can be exaggerated by a rising HF response or excessive L-R content at high frequencies - both typical of many moving coil cartridges." Well perhaps ... low frequency instruments can 'have air' too.
So, Peter and @Al M. , is any of what I've described similar to what you're talking about hearing?
Tim, of course 'air' is nothing unusual to hear from an audio system -- and as you quote Holt, it even can be exaggerated too. I have heard air in Peter's system on previous occasions as well (and also with other cartridges, by the way).
Yet I have described in paragraphs three and four of my post what I think sets the current experience in Peter's system apart. I also say there that 'atmosphere' was never so apparent; I don't say that there was never any before.
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