Sublime Sound

spiritofmusic

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How much air flows thru an open window? Especially a wide open one?
 
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bonzo75

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spiritofmusic

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Oh, its super heated on this forum.
 
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microstrip

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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.


Time to start debating "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" ;)
 

bonzo75

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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.

Are you listening to white rabbit smoking carricula
 

spiritofmusic

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"Rabbit leaves footprints in the snow"
I never knew Peter was such a hippy.
His *precise* style of writing on WBF really belied that.
 
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PeterA

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"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?

Hello Tim,

I agree that it is a fascinating topic. I may get to some of your specific questions later, but until then, I will try to explain my post about rabbit tracks in the snow. My first sentence was kind of fun. The second sentence is a confession.

This virtual system thread is basically my personal blog and a record of how my system and thoughts about sound and music are evolving.

I have described before that about eight years ago I traveled to Vienna and was introduced to the concept of energy by my mentor Dr. Peter Poltun, who at that time was the director of archives for the Vienna State Opera. We listened for five days to rehearsals and to operas at the evening performances. One morning as we sat at the edge of the orchestra pit about to hear a solo cello, Dr. Poltun told me to pay attention not to the sound of the instrument but to the energy created by the friction of the bow against the strings and the vibrations leaving the resonating wooden body: the moment of creation and then how that energy left the instrument and expanded to fill the space of the hall. Later at night, I would hear the soprano's words fill the hall from my seat far away from the stage in the second balcony director's box. Those voices, that energy, were so clear and clean and present.

A couple years later Jim Smith came to voice my system to my room. He talked about the sound of the recording escaping from the system into the room, "The sound being unleashed into the room", or words to that effect. He distilled it down to "Tone, Dynamics, and Presence."

Until about a year ago I had made a fairly continuous series of small improvements to the “sound" of my system. Upgraded electronics, larger more capable speakers, and better cartridges, but I failed to fully understand what Dr. Poltun introduced me to in Vienna, the energy of that cello heard up close, or the voices heard from the very back of the hall.

It is only now, years later, with the encouragement of David Karmeli over the last year or so that I have been able to better understand what Dr. Poltun was talking about. And I think only recently do I fully understand what Jim Smith meant by the sound escaping from the system.

In my analogy of the rabbit's footprints in the snow, the rabbit is the energy, the snow is the air, and the footprints are the impression left behind by the energy of a rabbit hopping across the air on the ground through the snow. The ground with its undulating hills, the horizon, the sky, the edges of the field, those are the dimensions of the orchestra hall. The snow is simply the medium that we need to better appreciate the rabbit's path, direction and pace. We can see from the prints that it was a rabbit and not a deer, that it was alone and not in a hurry today.

I used to listen to the sound of the cello to see if the timbre was correct, to see how much string texture and tone there was compared to the hollow sound of wood, its body and weight and richness; I listened to the tonal balance of the various frequencies. I deconstructed the sound as a means to better understand what my system, or some component in the chain, was doing. I was searching for better, more convincing, more real sound.

As I was doing experiments with supports, power cords, cartridge set up, David Karmeli told me to ask myself one thing only: "Does it sound more natural"? When it came to acoustic treatments and speaker positioning specifically, he told me that it is "all about managing the energy in the room". It has to sound natural. This is how I now know it is a rabbit hopping in the field rather than a deer startled and darting through the woods. And I now sit back and marvel at the beauty of nature.

This latest listening session with Al M. was a kind of culmination of everything I’ve been working on since that trip to Vienna. I had just fine tuned my new breaking in Grand Cru cartridge. It was sounding more balanced and complete. This allowed me to move the speakers slightly further apart because I no longer need the extra body from the closer spacing. This opened up the sound and freed it in the space. More energy, more natural, more atmosphere.

I now dwell less on the timbre and scale and weight of the cello and more on its energy in the room, and the patterns that energy makes. I more clearly see its impressions in the snow. I pay attention to the pattern of the footprints to appreciate more fully the genius of Bach's mind or the beauty of Janet Baker's voice.

The footprints are where the energy meets the air. That it is a field and not a forest, a rabbit and not a dear, falling snow and not a sunny summer afternoon, these are what I call the "atmosphere" of the recording. It is information embedded in the grooves, hopefully extracted and not altered or diminished too much by the system, and then released into the room. What happens after that is either sound or something much greater that enables one to forget the system and bask in the magic of the music.

And all along, the listening window is becoming wider, and the footprints in the snow more revealing.
 
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Kingsrule

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I can understand the energy concept from the edge of the pit but have a hard time with it as u would sit out in the hall during a performance. That local energy would certainly be greatly diminished the further away u would be from the instrument and with hundreds of bodies in the hall...
 

PeterA

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On Tuesday I had the pleasure to hear Peter's system again... and perhaps Peter can describe the most recent changes.

Thank you for your detailed and very well written account of our evening of dinner and music. Not much had changed since you last heard the system, but the little things are clearly audible and make for a better and more memorable experience. The cartridge had returned from its 250 hour inspection. I had requested a lower output and a new damper that Mr. van den Hul has developed. The latter reduced what he described as an "accent" in the high frequencies. The lower output allows me to have more useable volume adjustments on my phono stage. I fine tuned the cartridge set up slightly by lowering the tracking force from 1.5 gram to 1.45g as recommended after 30 hours of break in and by lowering the arm height by a few cards.

The fuller, more even tonal balance allowed me to move my speakers apart by 1.5" per side. I had them spaced closer together to create slightly more body, weight and a richer tone, but with the cartridge adjustments, this was no longer necessary. Moving the speakers apart by 3" opened up the sound. It now seems to be a better, more natural presentation. I agree with your observation of more "bloom" and "flow", but think of it more as energy filling the room.

Yes, I take no small satisfaction in being able to realize this more natural sound without having to change my basic gear. Tubes and high efficient speakers, perhaps horns may move me even further in that direction, but for now progress is being made.

I wrote a bit about how the other evening was a kind of culmination of what we have been discussing for about a year or so. Part of what became clear this last time was what Jeff Day brought up in his "Listening Window" article and it deserves a bit more attention here. When we arrived after dinner, I asked you what you wanted to hear. I no longer feel any need to suggest particular recordings that I think sound OK on my system. The visitor can freely choose, so confident am I now that more and more LPs sound OK on my system.

You selected from the stack of LPs in my room what you were in the mood to hear. These were decent, but by no means "audiophile" or special recordings. With my recent changes, all of these recordings sounded good and were able to communicate to us, in an involving and emotional way providing while also providing insight into the music. I find there is broader listening satisfaction across labels and genres. I think Jeff Day is onto something and I am beginning to relate.
 
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PeterA

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I can understand the energy concept from the edge of the pit but have a hard time with it as u would sit out in the hall during a performance. That local energy would certainly be greatly diminished the further away u would be from the instrument and with hundreds of bodies in the hall...

Yes, I know what you mean, but I was truly astonished at how clean, vibrant, and full of energy the soprano still was sitting way in the back. There is something about that great opera hall. It seemed as though I could hear everything that was happening on that stage. Sure, the "local energy" is not the same, and I could not get the impact of the low cello notes from back there, but she projected her voice into that hall, so crystal clear from that great distance, it was amazing.
 

Al M.

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Sure, Al. I read your report and Peter's comments. I was not questioning the experience either had, but wanted to learn if I understood both of you by describing my notions of 'air' then hearing your feedback on whether I was using 'air' in a way that was similar, or that each of you could relate to. Seeing if we were on the same page or if there was something I didn't 'get' about the description you gave. I guess I was thrown off by Peter's comment which I interepreted as hearing something new, that he only now was beginning to hear. So, I asked. Sometimes it's worth (to me anyway) learning if we are communicating or at least if I am understanding what others say.

Tim, perhaps for further clarification, I don't think that 'air' means the same as 'atmosphere', as described to be related to the sound of the space of the performance venue.

Something can sound 'airy' but give little information about the (atmosphere of the) performance space. Conversely, I also don't think 'atmosphere' is entirely related to just high frequencies either, with which the term 'air' usually is associated. Yet probably atmosphere is not possible without at least some 'air'.
 
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PeterA

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Are you listening to white rabbit smoking carricula

Ked, I am climbing out of the rabbit hole and am now on the meadow. The journey has been a long and strange trip, but I now see my path.
 

bonzo75

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Ked, I am climbing out of the rabbit hole and am now on the meadow. The journey has been a long and strange trip, but I now see my path.

You are not, but save the post for 5 years later. You will really have to step out and listen to totally different systems you have no exposure to today to get that
 

PeterA

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Time to start debating "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" ;)

Don’t you mean to ask if there’s any energy released?

Language is an interesting thing. It is usually used to convey meaning. I often struggle.
 

PeterA

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You are not, but save the post for 5 years later. You will really have to step out and listen to totally different systems you have no exposure to today to get that

I hear you, but I am not referring to gear. I am referring to an approach and an understanding of what is happening in the room when I record is being played.

Perhaps not being tied to gear is liberating, but without it one can’t enjoy his music collection.
 

microstrip

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I can understand the energy concept from the edge of the pit but have a hard time with it as u would sit out in the hall during a performance. That local energy would certainly be greatly diminished the further away u would be from the instrument and with hundreds of bodies in the hall...

IMHO we should separate poetry from physics - we surely can use the words energy and energetic to describe subjective feelings associated to hearing, but it is nowhere related to significant changes in electrical or mechanical power. Again IMHO the subjective effects Peter is describing are mainly due to variations in distortion and tonal changes. Both can affect significantly our feeling of loudness and power.

We have the similar feelings with home theater systems - a properly tuned one can transmit a feeling of power and drama in, for example, a movie having a bombardment, most systems only transmit shaking and loudness.
 

bonzo75

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I hear you, but I am not referring to gear. I am referring to an approach and an understanding of what is happening in the room when I record is being played.

Perhaps not being tied to gear is liberating, but without it one can’t enjoy his music collection.

The approach comes from listening. It is listening to totally different systems than you have exposure to. Changing speaker positions, toe in and cablea will never change the Magico pass sound. If you like that, great
 

microstrip

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Don’t you mean to ask if there’s any energy released?

Language is an interesting thing. It is usually used to convey meaning. I often struggle.

No Peter, I was addressing the key sentence for subjectivists - the one who separates physics from perception, in order to clarify things and allow some talk. We should refer differently to the air wave (the physical entity) and perception of it (the sound).
 

PeterA

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No Peter, I was addressing the key sentence for subjectivists - the one who separates physics from perception, in order to clarify things and allow some talk. We should refer differently to the air wave (the physical entity) and perception of it (the sound).

I understand Francisco. I will let those more inclined to science describe their systems and what is happening in those terms. I’m simply describing things the way I know how to because Tim asked me on my system thread.

I think it would be great if you started a new thread discussing the physics of air in one’s listening room. Or you can tell us what you think in your terms here. Each of us does but he can.
 

PeterA

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The approach comes from listening. It is listening to totally different systems than you have exposure to. Changing speaker positions, toe in and cablea will never change the Magico pass sound. If you like that, great

Thanks for your blessing, Bonzo. I do like it.

Perhaps I am taking baby steps and not traveling to get exposure to all possible alternatives, but the sound out of my system has changed a lot and I still have Pass and Magico after all these years. And it does not sound like other systems I’ve heard with these brands, so you can paint with a broad brush all you want, but I disagree with your assessment from afar. I have found that set up has had a pretty profound impact on the sound of my system, but I still have a lot to learn.

Of course we can revisit it in five years. I may have different interests then, live in a different house and have different resources available to make more radical changes in the future. Right now I see no reason to change gear despite your persistent encouragement.

DDK is a dealer and he does not try to convince me to sell my gear, why do you? I do appreciate your degrees of respective candor.
 
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