The Audio System and High-End Philosophy of Mike Lavigne

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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I don't think we should focus on each term at all. You should get the general gist and if there was an extraordinary reaction to something. If further curious, you should go check it out. This OCD on trying to understand a write-up perfectly can only lead to misinterpretations. No person has one to one coherency between what he listens, what he thinks, and what he expresses in writing (some are better than others) Compound that with another person's different interpretations, if you try to match exactly you will be here forever.
 

morricab

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Apr 25, 2014
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I don't think we should focus on each term at all. You should get the general gist and if there was an extraordinary reaction to something. If further curious, you should go check it out. This OCD on trying to understand a write-up perfectly can only lead to misinterpretations. No person has one to one coherency between what he listens, what he thinks, and what he expresses in writing (some are better than others) Compound that with another person's different interpretations, if you try to match exactly you will be here forever.

Agreed, Ron was mainly trying to distinguish things in relative terms and people are getting rather tweaked by his use of words to convey those relative differences.
 

853guy

Active Member
Aug 14, 2013
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morricab said:
I don't think we should focus on each term at all. You should get the general gist and if there was an extraordinary reaction to something. If further curious, you should go check it out. This OCD on trying to understand a write-up perfectly can only lead to misinterpretations. No person has one to one coherency between what he listens, what he thinks, and what he expresses in writing (some are better than others) Compound that with another person's different interpretations, if you try to match exactly you will be here forever.

Agreed, Ron was mainly trying to distinguish things in relative terms and people are getting rather tweaked by his use of words to convey those relative differences.

Hello Bonzo, hello Morricab,

Good points.

I once read hi-fi reviews voraciously.

At one stage, I assembled an entire system around the declarations of a few of them and their recommendations, because their declarations most fit and reinforced a bunch of preexisting biases I had. It was less that they were right, and more that I wanted them to be right to justify my purchasing decisions. That system sucked. Lesson? Never abdicate responsibility for my purchasing decisions to someone else with no skin in the game just because that person commands a form of status based on their visibility or appears as an “authority” based on their experience.(1)

Now, however, I’ve realised that most reviewers get paid to review, not because they have the ability to finely judge sonic and musical nuances relative to the gear they review, but because they can write in a way that convinces us they can. A writer’s main talent surely, is writing. If they’re skilled, they could probably be just as entertaining when writing about fishing reels, or vacuum cleaners, or model airplanes, since the ability to turn thoughts into prose is the job of all writers, or which reviewers are a subset.

But that doesn’t mean the skilled writer will necessarily have the skill to discern and differentiate the nuances apropos music and the way that recorded music is brought back to life through an inanimate object, in the same way a skilled musician or conductor will not necessarily have the skill to write about hi-fi gear, or music, or sound for that matter despite the loose commonality of subject matter. Nor does it mean the skilled hi-fi reviewer will use a process that is commensurate with that of the reader, hence perhaps why we often hear statements like "XYZ is my favourite reviewer" (and its opposite).

Some hi-fi reviewers are great writers. But sometimes, terrible judges of music when played back through a hi-fi system. The reverse is less true, because bad writers generally don’t get gigs as hi-fi reviewers because again, the job is to write not to think.

Of course, as I’ve said before, it’s arguable that what we learn most from people in their assessment of hi-fi gear is much less related to the hi-fi gear in question, and much more related to their own preferences and biases. Even in cases in which the reviewer is both able to perceive and write about music and also able to perceive and write about hi-fi, are they still really only ever telling us anything other than their own perceptual process, and hence, their preferences and biases (whether they can acknowledge the latter or not)?

Therefore, I personally no longer hold the opinions of hi-fi reviewers in the regard I once did (especially ones who appeal to external authorities to justify their biases - I won’t name names). If the job of the reviewer is to review, then my responsibility as the consumer is to review the reviewer. In the process of doing that, I’ve concluded there are only a small handful of hi-fi reviewers whose opinions I value, if only because they have declared their biases and preferences and do not pretend to write about anything but those things.

This, of course, holds true for all opinions. We routinely post ours here. The trick, I believe, it to never attempt to fool oneself into believing they’re any more of less than that.

Be well, gents...

853guy

(1) This was not the fault of the reviewers. This was the fault of me not reviewing the reviewers, and abdicating responsibility when the maxim should have been: My money, my responsibility.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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Just another observation.

If a "perfect room" , like Mike's , is in place, the reflections are much more reduced or controlled, so the need of direct speaker driven SPL is much higher.

All gear will have to absorb this higher direct SPL from the speakers. So my gear reacts more sensible on active or passive bases or racks than before I did the enhanced room treatment.

So I can fully understand, that Mike is so keen to use the Taiko Tana modded Herzan 140 under the critical components, as they are close to the speakers.

I see this issue exactly the opposite.

start out with a designed in ultra diffusive, very live room. even hardwood under the speaker end,. add tons of driver surface to really super energize all that live diffusive surface. and have a neutral, hear every detail signal path.

you must sit farther back to avoid all the reflective hash and then Band-Aid the walls in places with absorption, or panels like RPG skylines, to make it listenable.......and listen at higher SPL's to get more musical involvement and retain musical detail. yet many listeners sensitive to a tipped up high frequency will not be comfortable.....since you have this 'hear every detail' signal path. they want you to have tubes.

now approach it differently. armed with a proper reference in your brain, take thin cloth and find all those spots where that reflective hash is harming the sound. the thin cloth will not change tonality, it will only cut off that reflective hash in the high frequencies. be careful to not lose energy as you treat surfaces. it takes time to test this issue as you go along.

take 9 months to painstakingly through trial and error one by one eliminate that reflective hash. as all those nasty's fall away, sit closer and closer and listen quieter and quieter yet hear more information. you hear more and more detail and it's more direct since you are closer. the sense of reproduced sound falls away.

it takes less power to hear more. amp is happier. and when you push it, it will hold together perfectly. everything is in harmony.

it's all about (1) a reference in your head you can chase, (2) controlling reflective hash without changing tonal balance. and (3) it helps to have a neutral signal path. if your signal path 'fixed' the reflective hash with tubes then it's hard to ever find the room balance as the color blinds the path to truth. it takes neutral to find truth. then season to taste (add a nice SET:D).

I realize my 'tube' comment will be controversial, but I do believe that finding ultimate truth is much easier with a neutral signal path, yet the tubes will thank you for that truth once you have found it through neutrality. and further, it's easier to find truth with using digital references than analog references. not only is it easier to hear differences, it's quicker and you can repeatedly cover more ground. a better tool to use.

that is my story. YMMV.
 
Last edited:

caesar

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May 31, 2010
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Hi Mike,

Thanks again for letting others learn from your experience. Quick question for you: how do you distinguish "neutral" from "sterile"/ "analytical"? Obviously from all descriptions your room is anything but the latter, but how do you avoid "analytical sterility" while staying "neutral"?

Thanks
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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Mike, I’ve had my own series of epiphanies in a room, which more by good fortune than design, has so expanded my horizons.

So much so that a single change that took all of 5 minutes to complete and cost me nothing has at a stroke removed the final impediments to my sound going to a level that I’m beyond ecstatic with.

Good timing as my financial means to keep going in this hobby are narrowing.

In effect a year absorbing the effects of the room mean I’m converging on much more neutrality and openness than I ever had before, and this in effect final change has “completed” the effects of the room itself.
 

analyzer

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May 20, 2016
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Hi Mike
Just to know a further info about your room.
In the detailed Ron’s report it’s specified that size is 29 x 21 x 10 feet; I would know also the listen distance from speakers to optimal listener seat (and I can note that there are two or three rows in the images shown in first post). It seems that your listen position is VERY close to the glorious EA MM7’s... more than I expected since until today I’ve found for my EA MM3 a listen distance of no less than 13 feet approx (my room size is overall a bit small.. 19,7 x 14,4 x 7,2 to 14,5 height).
I Sorry if possibly has already been specified maybe I missed something...
My best
Marco
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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Hi Mike
Just to know a further info about your room.
In the detailed Ron’s report it’s specified that size is 29 x 21 x 10 feet; I would know also the listen distance from speakers to optimal listener seat (and I can note that there are two or three rows in the images shown in first post). It seems that your listen position is VERY close to the glorious EA MM7’s... more than I expected since until today I’ve found for my EA MM3 a listen distance of no less than 13 feet approx (my room size is overall a bit small.. 19,7 x 14,4 x 7,2 to 14,5 height).
I Sorry if possibly has already been specified maybe I missed something...
My best
Marco

Dear Marco,

when you visit you will hear for yourself.:D

the room is 29' x 21' x 11'.
the room is exactly symmetric within a 1/4". speakers are centered on the mid line and laser aligned to point at mid shoulder.
my tweeters are 9'6" from my back wall.
tweeter to tweeter distance is 109"
tweeter to each ear distance is 95" (about 12" inside an equilateral triangle). sitting in a moderate near-field ratio

best,

Mike
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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Sawasdee Mike,

Audiophile English is very difficult to really understand for me. We should have a reference dictionary of audiophile vocabs. If I am really interested in the person commenting I have to study how he uses words and what he really means by that. You are one of those persons Mike. The word “liquid” is used by you a lot. I see quite a few people start to pick up this word and use it more frequently. Only til you described above, I was actually guessing what you meant by “liquid.” I wrongly thought “liquid” in audio term meant something like “fluid” having to do with “flow,” not liquid as “not dry” as you stated. Thanks for correcting me my understanding of liquid. Not very often I see one describe his meaning of vocab used. The more explanation the less ambiguity especially when we deal with dangerous words that attract linebackers to defend.


Kind regards,
Tang :)

If "liquid" means "not dry", does it not follow that "dry" means "not liquid"?

Ron is a reviewer. He chose to use the word "dry" in describing the Dartzeel amplifiers. His explanation of 'I intended “a shade dryer” to be synonymous with “a shade less liquid.” ' makes perfect sense to me. If a "shade dryer" means the same as a "shade less liquid", then we are left asking is "liquid" a good sonic attribute? If "liquid" is good, then "less liquid" is less good. And if "liquid" is bad, then "less liquid" is less bad.

Either way, it seems to me that Ron's original intent is clear and there is at least one attribute of the tube amps that he likes more than the corresponding attribute of the SS amp. This is true for Mike as well. Jazzdoc also made some extremely positive comments about the Lamms in Mike's system. It is clear that this is all about preferences, priorities, and how we perceive and then describe sound. In the end, both Mike and Ron think the system sounds great. So do Jazzdoc and Kedar.

Describing sound is difficult and even if we do end up agreeing on the definitions of terms, we may disagree on whether or not to apply them to certain sonic attributes. The problem here seems to be that Ron and Mike disagree about how to describe the sound of the Dartzeel.
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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Gosh, the forensic analysers of each and every word written by Ron are out.

Let me guess, Ron uses the phrases “dry” and “smoothing of detail”, Mike would absolutely beg to differ.

Sure, but that difference of opinion is the risk and consequence of inviting a reviewer to listen and then reading what he describes he hears. We are left to discuss these different opinions on this forum and therein lies the value to the reader who is interested in the topic at hand. This is a much more meaningful discussion about the sound of the system, and the three amplifiers specifically, than what we typically read in a magazine or on line review about which there is little or no discussion. Here, views and opinions can be clarified and expanded upon. And those who choose to read are perhaps better informed.
 

KeithR

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May 7, 2010
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I see this issue exactly the opposite.

start out with a designed in ultra diffusive, very live room. even hardwood under the speaker end,. add tons of driver surface to really super energize all that live diffusive surface. and have a neutral, hear every detail signal path.

you must sit farther back to avoid all the reflective hash and then Band-Aid the walls in places with absorption, or panels like RPG skylines, to make it listenable.......and listen at higher SPL's to get more musical involvement and retain musical detail. yet many listeners sensitive to a tipped up high frequency will not be comfortable.....since you have this 'hear every detail' signal path. they want you to have tubes.

now approach it differently. armed with a proper reference in your brain, take thin cloth and find all those spots where that reflective hash is harming the sound. the thin cloth will not change tonality, it will only cut off that reflective hash in the high frequencies. be careful to not lose energy as you treat surfaces. it takes time to test this issue as you go along.

take 9 months to painstakingly through trial and error one by one eliminate that reflective hash. as all those nasty's fall away, sit closer and closer and listen quieter and quieter yet hear more information. you hear more and more detail and it's more direct since you are closer. the sense of reproduced sound falls away.

it takes less power to hear more. amp is happier. and when you push it, it will hold together perfectly. everything is in harmony.

it's all about (1) a reference in your head you can chase, (2) controlling reflective hash without changing tonal balance. and (3) it helps to have a neutral signal path. if your signal path 'fixed' the reflective hash with tubes then it's hard to ever find the room balance as the color blinds the path to truth. it takes neutral to find truth. then season to taste (add a nice SET:D).

I realize my 'tube' comment will be controversial, but I do believe that finding ultimate truth is much easier with a neutral signal path, yet the tubes will thank you for that truth once you have found it through neutrality. and further, it's easier to find truth with using digital references than analog references. not only is it easier to hear differences, it's quicker and you can repeatedly cover more ground. a better tool to use.

that is my story. YMMV.

Thanks for writing this - very helpful Mike. I have been wondering the sonic changes of your room timeline since Chris Houston designed it. I was a Rives guy as well in my prior room.
 

NealW

Well-Known Member
Mar 6, 2018
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Mike

I agree on the digital being used to figure out what is going on. That's true for new gear or room setup. I used to have a really bad (in audiophile terms) Alanis Morissette CD that had a piano part that only sounded good through the best gear. Still use it to test things out.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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Mike, can you elaborate on what diffusion brings to your sound/presentation?

In my room I did try to utilise my 242 absorption panels at first and second reflection points (they were useful in my old room), but had to scrap them because they deadened things too much.

I have kept my corner bass traps.

But a trusted audiophile buddy is confident that install of eg GIK Gotham diffuser panels, in the central area of front wall, and maybe side walls/eaves as well, would add to what’s already a successful acoustic.

Your thoughts on diffusion.
 

Pb Blimp

Well-Known Member
Oct 30, 2017
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105
USA
Mike, can you elaborate on what diffusion brings to your sound/presentation?

In my room I did try to utilise my 242 absorption panels at first and second reflection points (they were useful in my old room), but had to scrap them because they deadened things too much.

I have kept my corner bass traps.

But a trusted audiophile buddy is confident that install of eg GIK Gotham diffuser panels, in the central area of front wall, and maybe side walls/eaves as well, would add to what’s already a successful acoustic.

Your thoughts on diffusion.

I am not Mike but in my room a much more spacious soundstage (depth and width) with no loss of energy.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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Because from your posts I was wrongly imagining you were analyzing serious measurements from Bonnie ...

I am hoping that the measurements I hope to receive from Bonnie are serious measurements. (Maybe I am not understanding you?)
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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On most jazz recordings I preferred the near field listening position. On some classical recordings I preferred the near field listening position. On most pop and rock recordings I preferred the equilateral triangle listening position.

Mike saw me jumping back-and-forth between the two seats nearly constantly over the course of the entire visit!
 

analyzer

VIP/Donor
May 20, 2016
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Torino - Italy
Dear Marco,

when you visit you will hear for yourself.:D

the room is 29' x 21' x 11'.
the room is exactly symmetric within a 1/4". speakers are centered on the mid line and laser aligned to point at mid shoulder.
my tweeters are 9'6" from my back wall.
tweeter to tweeter distance is 109"
tweeter to each ear distance is 95" (about 12" inside an equilateral triangle). sitting in a moderate near-field ratio

best,

Mike

Thank you Mike for the prompt reply. I'll look and check with the utmost attention to your configuration.
My setting is a isosceles triangle actually...
my best
Marco
 

microstrip

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I am hoping that the measurements I hope to receive from Bonnie are serious measurements. (Maybe I am not understanding you?)

The question is that you only referred to the frequency response - that will depend on speaker and speaker positioning. As Mike found, only after having the speakers it is possible to adjust the acoustics to get a nice response. Bonnie is using them probably for evaluation and project development - not as a deliverable.

The other parameters that the acoustician can control are mostly related to time behavior - the decays - and the reflection level. They are complex to interpret and extremely subjective, as they have to be regarded as an whole not as individual measurements - she will probably explain them to you, but will not release them.

Did you notice that no owner of the great rooms we debate at WBF has released full measurements of his room? Some years ago I have privately asked a couple of owners for them and they told me they were asked not to divulge them. At that time I was the only one to show decays of bass frequencies in my room ...

BTW, Nyal Melior has an excellent introductory page to this subject - see http://www.acousticfrontiers.com/room-acoustic-measurements-101/
 
Last edited:

Rodney Gold

Member
Jan 29, 2014
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Heres my room after DSP etc .. before and after
amplitude , phase , group delay and impulse as well as the target curve I apply and then how my speakers are measured in 3d space











 

microstrip

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May 30, 2010
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Heres my room after DSP etc .. before and after
amplitude , phase , group delay and impulse as well as the target curve I apply and then how my speakers are measured in 3d space (...)

These are just graphs of speaker optimization - and they lack frequency resolution in bass frequencies. Do you have waterfall and distributed RT60 measurements of your room? I would appreciate seeing them.
 

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