The Mysterious Case of the Listening Window! By Jeff Day, Positive Feedback

PeterA

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I came upon this article this morning and find it fascinating reading. Mr. Day makes a compelling case for seeking out gear with which one can enjoy a large variety of music, the "Listening Window". He describes his own system, a mix of vintage and new components, as sounding "musical". I also find interesting the claims about how far or not, high end audio has come over the years.

Here is a link to his article: https://jeffsplace.positive-feedback.com/the-mysterious-case-of-the-listening-window/

What do you think? Should systems be able to play all kinds of music? The broader the window the better? Are some vintage components still better than what is available today? I think he brings up some very interesting topics in this article which might be worth discussing here.
 
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cjfrbw

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I don't think I have been able to listen at length to many systems to pass a judgment as to whether they are 'wide' or 'narrow' Listening Window by Jeff's somewhat antic yardstick. It would require listening to a broad palette of music over days, which just does not happen in my real world, although camping out at some systems for a few days sounds attractive if the owners wouldn't mind the empty pizza boxes and cans.

That leaves me with analyzing my own system, which I hereby anoint as 'wider than most, narrower than some'! That sounds safe.

I do get his etiologies, because our arcs and sound evolution bear some resemblance to each other. i also don't disagree with his system choices.
 

miniguy

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Dec 18, 2013
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I came upon this article this morning and find it fascinating reading. Mr. Day makes a compelling case for seeking out gear with which one can enjoy a large variety of music, the "Listening Window". He describes his own system, a mix of vintage and new components, as sounding "musical". I first came upon Mr. Day when I read his very positive review of my Magico Q3 speakers. Sometime after that, I read him questioning the industry, his components, and his promise to seek a new direction. He now seems to be somewhere along his new path. I can relate to this as I have been rethinking most of what I have learned about the sound of modern audio systems. I also find interesting the claims about how far or not, high end audio has come over the years.

Here is a link to his article: https://jeffsplace.positive-feedback.com/the-mysterious-case-of-the-listening-window/

What do you think? Should systems be able to play all kinds of music? The broader the window the better? Are some vintage components still better than what is available today? I think he brings up some very interesting topics in this article which might be worth discussing here.
I don’t recall Jeff Day ever having reviewed the Q3
I came upon this article this morning and find it fascinating reading. Mr. Day makes a compelling case for seeking out gear with which one can enjoy a large variety of music, the "Listening Window". He describes his own system, a mix of vintage and new components, as sounding "musical". I first came upon Mr. Day when I read his very positive review of my Magico Q3 speakers. Sometime after that, I read him questioning the industry, his components, and his promise to seek a new direction. He now seems to be somewhere along his new path. I can relate to this as I have been rethinking most of what I have learned about the sound of modern audio systems. I also find interesting the claims about how far or not, high end audio has come over the years.

Here is a link to his article: https://jeffsplace.positive-feedback.com/the-mysterious-case-of-the-listening-window/

What do you think? Should systems be able to play all kinds of music? The broader the window the better? Are some vintage components still better than what is available today? I think he brings up some very interesting topics in this article which might be worth discussing here.
I don’t recall Jeff Day ever reviewing the Q3. Did you by chance mean Jeff Fritz?
 
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PeterA

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I don’t recall Jeff Day ever having reviewed the Q3

I don’t recall Jeff Day ever reviewing the Q3. Did you by chance mean Jeff Fritz?

Yes, you are absolutely correct. Thank you for the correction. I will edit the OP. I appreciate it.
 

Lagonda

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Wide listening window is one of the reasons i love vinyl so much. With a simple cartridge change, or second arm i can easily enjoy both my collection of older often badly recorded pop and rock albums and my well recorded audiophile offerings. My LT arm with a somewhat forgiving cartridge into a SUT and a good SS MM pre section is excellent at adding a little extra dynamics and rounding in the bass and mid bass region. The well recorded albums shine on my other arm into my tube phono.:)
 

spiritofmusic

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It's a constant refrain on this forum that any component that sugars the pill on so-called poorer masterings isn't really high end at all.

I'm glad Jeff Day has refuted this ludicrous proposition.
 

Lagonda

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It's a constant refrain on this forum that any component that sugars the pill on so-called poorer masterings isn't really high end at all.

I'm glad Jeff Day has refuted this ludicrous proposition.
Now, now Marc don’t get ahead of yourself, he was not talking about Zu :)
 

spiritofmusic

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Joking aside Milan, I believe Zu is just the type of component he is talking about.
 
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Joe Whip

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While I listen to mostly jazz with some classical thrown in, my system plays everything well. Full range speakers of course helps.
 

Tango

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I came upon this article this morning and find it fascinating reading. Mr. Day makes a compelling case for seeking out gear with which one can enjoy a large variety of music, the "Listening Window". He describes his own system, a mix of vintage and new components, as sounding "musical". I also find interesting the claims about how far or not, high end audio has come over the years.

Here is a link to his article: https://jeffsplace.positive-feedback.com/the-mysterious-case-of-the-listening-window/

What do you think? Should systems be able to play all kinds of music? The broader the window the better? Are some vintage components still better than what is available today? I think he brings up some very interesting topics in this article which might be worth discussing here.
The article actually is guiding me to explore something in another article of his. Thanks for posting Peter. Our interest seems moving in the same direction.
 
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PeterA

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The article actually is guiding me to explore something in another article of his. Thanks for posting Peter. Our interest seems moving in the same direction.

Tang, We are students taking the same class from the same teacher. Sadly are lessons are at different times, so we keep missing each other. I think you have the books with the hardcovers. I have one paperback and many loose leaf pages, but we are learning the same thing.
 

tima

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Mar 4, 2014
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Okay, I read it. I agree with Peter that there are some interesting topics.

Three things I liked: one, it was readable - scattered but readable (a genuine compliment), two, the account of Stokowski comparing the sound of his orchestra to the sound of it reproduced, and three, Day's mention of listening to live music and wanting his stereo system to sound like that. A worthy prelude.

I understand the article is an opener to future columns where "I'll tell you more...". However, taking it on its own merits...

To make his points, he'd have been better off sticking with his own experiences, interests and personal advocacy rather than offering a series of non sequitars about other people and their systems.

He says a wide listening window is a system "... able to play a wide variety of recorded music from different periods, of different styles, and of varied recording quality". Then claims "many contemporary audio systems fail miserably at having a wide listening window, and can only accomodate a very narrow listening window of superb recordings, or risk sounding decidedly amusical on average recordings of great music." As if someone who premarily enjoys renaissance music and Bach through their Quad electrostatics with a Berning or Roger Modjeski amp has failed.

And "A narrow listening window results in their owners buying the same audiophile recordings over and over again with each new remaster of the same old recording, because that's the only thing that sounds good on their stereo systems." Really? Some people have no life beyond Brothers in Arms ? Let's smack 'em around some more.

There's the waffling hedge between the "live musical experience" and "a valid musical experience."
Is the latter the same as the former? It's okay here to be slippery.

And then that issue Marc approaches, another one Day doesn't seem to have quite settled with himself, namely homogenization. Having a system where recordings of "superb quality" and "average quality" "sound and feel" like a live/valid musical experience. If "musical" here simply means enjoyable, okay, reduction aside.

Dudley without meat rabbits?
 

Tango

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Tang, We are students taking the same class from the same teacher. Sadly are lessons are at different times, so we keep missing each other. I think you have the books with the hardcovers. I have one paperback and many loose leaf pages, but we are learning the same thing.
I was reading your comment while overlooking my wife do the cooking. It occurred to me that this learning process is like my wife making a French comsomme'. It takes time to simmer and keep reducing clarifying. Simple but well selected ingredient. What left is a very clarified rich stock...or sound?
 
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the sound of Tao

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Okay, I read it. I agree with Peter that there are some interesting topics.

Three things I liked: one, it was readable - scattered but readable (a genuine compliment), two, the account of Stokowski comparing the sound of his orchestra to the sound of it reproduced, and three, Day's mention of listening to live music and wanting his stereo system to sound like that. A worthy prelude.

I understand the article is an opener to future columns where "I'll tell you more...". However, taking it on its own merits...

To make his points, he'd have been better off sticking with his own experiences, interests and personal advocacy rather than offering a series of non sequitars about other people and their systems.

He says a wide listening window is a system "... able to play a wide variety of recorded music from different periods, of different styles, and of varied recording quality". Then claims "many contemporary audio systems fail miserably at having a wide listening window, and can only accomodate a very narrow listening window of superb recordings, or risk sounding decidedly amusical on average recordings of great music." As if someone who premarily enjoys renaissance music and Bach through their Quad electrostatics with a Berning or Roger Modjeski amp has failed.

And "A narrow listening window results in their owners buying the same audiophile recordings over and over again with each new remaster of the same old recording, because that's the only thing that sounds good on their stereo systems." Really? Some people have no life beyond Brothers in Arms ? Let's smack 'em around some more.

There's the waffling hedge between the "live musical experience" and "a valid musical experience."
Is the latter the same as the former? It's okay here to be slippery.

And then that issue Marc approaches, another one Day doesn't seem to have quite settled with himself, namely homogenization. Having a system where recordings of "superb quality" and "average quality" "sound and feel" like a live/valid musical experience. If "musical" here simply means enjoyable, okay, reduction aside.

Dudley without meat rabbits?
I enjoy reading you Tim, your patience and the way you dig down into ideas. I was just enjoying the Stokowski back story and thinking that Day was essentially coming at this from a good corner, you manage a greater weight and precision in expression.
 
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Audiophile Bill

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The article resonated with me very well tbh. I learnt this lesson about 15 years ago when my “modern” system of the time derived from Dynaudios / Ayre with a Linn front end had me searching my digital library for anything that was palatable rather than dissected. It led me to repeatedly focussing on a small gamut of my song library. I went back to see my father one weekend with a few CDs to see how my “incredible system” would compare to my dad’s vintage Wharfedales with old 70s B&O centre and Cambridge Audio CD player. Well I was immensely frustrated as the evening went by and anything and everything sounded exciting and enjoyable on my dad’s. Several glasses (bottles) of wine later, and we were air conducting and / or singing whilst slamming his system at obscene levels late into the evening.

Seemingly I didn’t learn this lesson immediately as I proceeded to park my cognitive dissonance chasing my tail with more and more expensive ss / cone systems. Culminating with Focals and Analog Domain.

Just as an aside, have you got audiophile friends that play you specific audiophile recordings when they show their system off - I am talking those horrid mutton dressed as kebab pseudo elevator “jazz” artists or barstardised Beethoven obliterators in Octuple DSD? Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt. They (I) don’t want to be playing this shite, but it is the only thing that sounds half decent on their (my) huge investment system...

So my ethos with my current system is a broad lens as far as possible. Reissues should sound decent enough although good originals should be spectacular. No audiophile crapola music needed. I think one can voice a system to me more broad church - that is a path I have taken with my current speakers in fact.

But one final comment - I don’t think it is ever sensible to voice a system to the lowest common denominator because the net effect is that the magic in the best recordings isn’t there to the same degree.
 
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the sound of Tao

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Just as an aside, have you got audiophile friends that play you specific audiophile recordings when they show their system off - I am talking those horrid mutton dressed as kebab pseudo elevator “jazz” artists or barstardised Beethoven obliterators in Octuple DSD? Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt. They (I) don’t want to be playing this shite, but it is the only thing that sounds half decent on their (my) huge investment system...

So my ethos with my current system is a broad lens as far as possible. Reissues should sound decent enough although good originals should be spectacular. No audiophile crapola music needed. I think one can voice a system to me more broad church - that is a path I have taken with my current speakers in fact.

But one final comment - I don’t think it is ever sensible to voice a system to the lowest common denominator because the net effect is that the magic in the best recordings isn’t there to the same degree.

Lol, and the destroyers of audio show experiences... we all share your pain! o_O
 
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rando

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The only reason to have a broad window, main system, is having it centered on a broad view. If you are only allowed a narrow slice of heaven. Frame it properly.

Not all horizons are broad. Or enjoyable enough to import.
 
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DaveC

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I don't think anyone would argue that they don't want a system that can reproduce any recording ideally. Yet at the same time all speakers are compromised and everyone has different personal preferences, so it's kind of hard to judge what's best. If we all agreed on that we'd all have the same system, yet we don't... not even close. Just the responses from folks here so far, their systems run the gamut from horns to omnis to widebanders, to cone 'n' domes. Who's to say who is wrong and who is right? Is vintage Altec theatre speakers that won't fit into most homes the only answer?

So while I agree with the premise, I'd put it out there that ANY type of system can be exceptionally capable. The more you spend the more it's possible to remove or compensate for the compromises inherent in the design. For example, a simple Fostex single driver mounted in an OB vs the Pnoe with AER BD4s. Most would say a single driver has an innate inability to play complex music or get anywhere close to the frequency extremes, yet I've heard from a few that the Pnoe w/BD4s and a particular amp driving it can basically do it all, including playing symphonic music convincingly. Similarly, I think it's very likely a modern cone 'n' dome system can be put together that won't sound like crap on almost any recordings. If you don't think so then you think a massive majority of folks here have horrible systems, and I just can't see that being the case. While most single drivers or cone 'n' dome/SS systems, or (insert the system of your choice here) may not be excellent, some are.

So while I agree with the premise... is there an actual point? Honestly, it seems more like typical audiophile negativity combined with unrealistic nostalgia for the past. I don't agree with that part of it. Jeff makes it seem like the 30's through the 60's was some magical time where everyone had superior HiFi. I'm not so sure that's true but I wasn't alive then so what do I know. I think there's a lot of great systems and gear today too.
 

Tango

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I think Mr.Day just used the listening window thing as a trojan horse while actual key message is great sound has been there long in the past and we don't need to follow the high end industry to get it.
 

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