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

Carlos269

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Mar 21, 2012
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#21
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.
There is no need to keep chasing the big yellow bus all the time. Newer doesn’t necessarily mean better. Updated revisions do not always signify an upgrade. A few examples of this that come to mind is Spectral changing it’s models’ designations because of parts obsolescence or that the Lamm ML2 was the best version in the series. Manufacturers have to release new products as part of their business model and for their survival; and there are those customers for which this business and marketing scheme works and keeps them on the merry-go-round. Good equipment and good sound has been around for a long time and other than vanity and pride in ownership most systems do not need to stay current, unless of course you want to have the latest and “greatest” or are trying to keep up with the Jones’s.
 
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bonzo75

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#22
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.
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All that means is resolution is taken out, at least one component is over laying its character on the rest of the system, and making recordings sound similar.
 
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#23
I don’t need a different system... I just go listen from a different room. My spanky listening room and (my wife says) silly expensive gear produce terrific sound for most of the music I play. But—there are those “less than optimal” recordings that really do sound better when I am upstairs in the kitchen/family room. I can’t close off my music room, though the acoustic curtains have a small ability to quiet the house. Essentially I have distributed sound as result the very open floor plan of my home. In the sweet spot everything comes into focus, even clarity of certain music never recorded with a goal of optimized playback. Much of 70’s era rock I grew up, and still occasionally enjoy, sounded great on my car stereo back in the day (after I had “ripped” it from LP to cassette.) From the sweet spot, in comparison to other music, the recordings are clearly inferior. But I still like the music. It just is easier to enjoy hearing it vs listening to it.
 

DaveC

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Nov 16, 2014
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#24
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.
I guess it needs that Trojan horse or else it would seem exactly like countless other similar musings on the subject. ;)

While I'd agree it's true to some degree, otoh hand it's disappointing that the issues with correlating objective measurements with preference are still the same after many decades.
 

Lagonda

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#25
I don’t need a different system... I just go listen from a different room. My spanky listening room and (my wife says) silly expensive gear produce terrific sound for most of the music I play. But—there are those “less than optimal” recordings that really do sound better when I am upstairs in the kitchen/family room. I can’t close off my music room, though the acoustic curtains have a small ability to quiet the house. Essentially I have distributed sound as result the very open floor plan of my home. In the sweet spot everything comes into focus, even clarity of certain music never recorded with a goal of optimized playback. Much of 70’s era rock I grew up, and still occasionally enjoy, sounded great on my car stereo back in the day (after I had “ripped” it from LP to cassette.) From the sweet spot, in comparison to other music, the recordings are clearly inferior. But I still like the music. It just is easier to enjoy hearing it vs listening to it.
When toe tapping and movement in the listening chair is not enough, i dans a little jig on the floor behind the sweet spot, listening positions can vary with content. Lately the rhythm and drive of a new TT motor, or maybe just senior moments, have inspired me quite often :)
 
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#26
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ddk

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May 19, 2013
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#27
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.
Hi Peter,

I believe Jeff Day is approaching the same concept of "natural" sound I've been talking about from a different angle. "Wide listening window" is the outcome of "natural" sounding systems. I've mentioned it many times that with a "natural" setup one any halfway decent recording has enough realism to suspend reality. IMO focusing on the speakers is missing the point his article which is the type of sound and system he's achieved.

david
 
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May 30, 2010
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#28
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.
Surely we had great sound in the past, but I would love to know if people are addressing the 50's, 70's or 90's.

BTW, IMHO the current listening window of typical stereo systems is wider than that of the past, excluding some peculiar high-end that can be very narrow focused.
 

ddk

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#29
I can't understand how a custom, unobtainium and extremely modified speaker can be presented as a typical speaker of the old days. In fact, Jeff Day Duelund based crossover and meritorious efforts also feed the opposite argument - the current move to ultra fine tuning to please individual preferences . See https://jeffsplace.positive-feedbac...nt-audio-stokowski-altec-a7-project-for-2018/
Actually looking at his speaker's components they aren't unobtainium, it's pretty much the domestic version of VOTTs which Altec made. Only in his case they have nicer cabinets than the norm and a unique heritage, but you can find them.

As with many vintage speakers crossovers are their weakest links, a lot of people modify and upgrade them like Jeff Day did here for increased resolution and transparency but the the speaker is the same with the cabinets and drivers remaining untouched. It's not ultra fine tuning to personal preferences simply upgrading a part in the speaker.

IMO What you're missing from the article is his attempt to describe "wide listening window" which is the state of the entire setup and not just the speakers even if they're the stars. This is what a "natural" system is about, and it certainly is in comparison to real music.

david
 
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bonzo75

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#30
I can't understand how a custom, unobtainium and extremely modified speaker can be presented as a typical speaker of the old days. In fact, Jeff Day Duelund based crossover and meritorious efforts also feed the opposite argument - the current move to ultra fine tuning to please individual preferences . See https://jeffsplace.positive-feedbac...nt-audio-stokowski-altec-a7-project-for-2018/
It's not unobtanium, A5 and A7 which are their one woofer VOTT are easily available for under 5k. He has added markus klug multicell horns (i have visited Markus and the Altec 817 I wrote about has his multicells).

After that you have to usually replace drivers to your liking. Jeff himself experimented a lot with tannoy crossovers and then did a lot of work with duelund components and is doing duelund crossover with altecs. He also has the boxed modded ones and corona, they will compete with vintage tannoy, never heard them, but those boxed ones are known to be bigger compromises

A5 and A7 hand it over to vented bass earlier than 817 and therefore are a compromise, though smaller in size so can be fitted into small rooms as well, but multicells don't do that well in small rooms as compared to JMLC / tractrix.

I have put up some good A7 videos in the rock and Drum and female vocals, of the phenolic Altec midrange driver and also a paper mod
 
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Likes: sujay
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#31
Actually looking at his speaker's components they aren't unobtainium, it's pretty much the domestic version of VOTTs which Altec made. Only in his case they have nicer cabinets than the norm and a unique heritage, but you can find them.

As with many vintage speakers crossovers are their weakest links, a lot of people modify and upgrade them like Jeff Day did here for increased resolution and transparency but the the speaker is the same with the cabinets and drivers remaining untouched. It's not ultra fine tuning to personal preferences simply upgrading a part in the speaker.

IMO What you're missing from the article is his attempt to describe "wide listening window" which is the state of the entire setup and not just the speakers even if they're the stars. This is what a "natural" system is about, and it certainly is in comparison to real music.

david
Thanks, I was referring to a quote from Jeff

"These vintage Altec loudspeakers are historically important vintage Altec loudspeakers that were custom made for the domestic use of conductor Leopold Stokowski in the early 1960s (hereinafter referred to as the "Stokowski" Altec's), that were updated with the latest state-of-art Duelund Coherent Audio CAST tinned-copper capacitors, inductors, and resistors in a Jean Hiraga inspired crossover circuit (photo below). "

Are you endorsing people modifications of vintage gear to increase resolution and transparency? Perhaps wrongly I had understood that you did not appreciate such modifications, particularly crossovers and wires. A good friend of mine highly praises Duelund mods - what is your opinion on them?

Many conductors have expressed public opinions on top stereo systems - and every time it was the closest to real music they have listened!
 
May 30, 2010
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#32
It's not unobtanium, A5 and A7 which are their one woofer VOTT are easily available for under 5k. He has added markus klug multicell horns (i have visited Markus and the Altec 817 I wrote about has his multicells).

After that you have to usually replace drivers to your liking. Jeff himself experimented a lot with tannoy crossovers and then did a lot of work with duelund components and is doing duelund crossover with altecs. He also has the boxed modded ones and corona, they will compete with vintage tannoy, never heard them, but those boxed ones are known to be bigger compromises

A5 and A7 hand it over to vented bass earlier than 817 and therefore are a compromise, though smaller in size so can be fitted into small rooms as well, but multicells don't do that well in small rooms as compared to JMLC / tractrix.

I have put up some good A7 videos in the rock and Drum and female vocals, of the phenolic Altec midrange driver and also a paper mod
Thanks - I see now that is simply a interesting DIY project with vintage units.
 
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DaveC

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#33
It's also a little ironic that the "high end" gets bashed once again, and I'm not saying it's fault-free, but have you seen the prices of Duelund components? An average 3-way crossover using Duelund parts is many thousands of dollars, possibly tens of thousands of dollars.
 

bonzo75

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#34
Thanks - I see now that is simply a interesting DIY project with vintage units.
Vintage units have been around so long that even many of their mods have been standardized. Not that means they are good, they have to be done right and the best I heard did stuck to older style cross overs with vintage caps. Thomas Mayer is also similarly a fan of nos caps over current modern caps if I interpret his blog correctly, and his electronics are extremely low noise and high resolution by modern standards.

Altec vintage woofers are still among the very best, and their midrange driver is very musical though can be bettered in resolution and high end extension if one chooses to go for absolute best.

There are many reasons why old was better, one is survivorship bias... What was great has been filtered to stay with us, the mediocre died.

The second is cost of quality components was lower than today, e.g. Alnico (movement to ferrite was for cost saving), Slagle etc type inductive AVCs (used by Western electric 100 years ago, given up later for potentiometer), and beryllium.

Third is our audio population is just not big enough to attract the investment in R&D that bell labs, Siemens, RCA, the Lansing companies etc put in then. Then it was catering to everyone.

And finally, the collective community knowledge behind tannoy, Altec, TAD, jbl, etc, itself is high R&D done over decades
 
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marmota

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Feb 3, 2016
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#35
It's also a little ironic that the "high end" gets bashed once again, and I'm not saying it's fault-free, but have you seen the prices of Duelund components? An average 3-way crossover using Duelund parts is many thousands of dollars, possibly tens of thousands of dollars.
I was using a crossover simulator today, and simulated a 2nd order crossover with all 8 ohm drivers, this assuming awesome drivers (no notch filters required, no impedance correction needed, no BSC, all drivers of the same sensitivity, etc, an ideal situation). The cost for the crossovers of two speakers, with all Duelund Cast Cu caps and inductors was 11k euros 0_0
 

bonzo75

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#36
I was using a crossover simulator today, and simulated a 2nd order crossover with all 8 ohm drivers, this assuming awesome drivers (no notch filters required, no impedance correction needed, no BSC, all drivers of the same sensitivity, etc, an ideal situation). The cost for the crossovers of two speakers, with all Duelund Cast Cu caps and inductors was 11k euros 0_0
Duelund is not the only modern cap. There is Jupiter, Mundorf, Audyn, many others
 

ddk

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May 19, 2013
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#38
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.
I don't know Jeff Day so this is my takeaway from the article; I believe the nature of overall sound he's alluding to is what I've been calling "natural" one needs to give it context as contrast to systems one deems "not natural". I know first hand how difficult it is to explain "natural sound" in words and even using examples of the opposite, it remains a challenge. You write and review equipment I'm sure you have your own challenges with communication.

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.
That's not what he says (see below).

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.
I would say that majority of systems/setups I encounter fall into the category he's describing. Listening to a variety of recordings is an unpleasant experience and subconsciously the owners have gravitated towards "audiophile titles" the type of simple vocal dreck you mostly hear and hifi shows. This isn't a putdown, it's a fact. I owned a couple of such systems/setups myself, the 2nd one was extremely expensive and so called bleeding edge of the are at the time. In the two years that I lived with that system my listening had whittled down to Chesky test recordings and simplistic spatial titles from so called "audiophile" labels that were mastered in a such a way to make listening to such system tolerable even if totally fake sounding. I had to talk myself into appreciating the air, the climate, black background or some other nonsense to be able to sit and listen for half an hour. So no he's not putting down people's tastes in music, it's about the limitation imposed by the playback system forcing one into a peephole.


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.
I believe the term is "natural" Tim and an experience that's not distant from the real thing.

david
 
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cjfrbw

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#39
I enjoy listening to compressed music from all genres on Spotify, from classical, to jazz, to synth and dub. I have been going there to cue up some of the cuts from Tang and Bonzo, apart from the You Tube ouvres. I have been surprised to like it, even without ultra hi rez. Sometimes, i will listen over the main system to the You Tube stuff over Airplay, too, just for sheiss & giggles.

Does that mean I have a large window, or does it mean my windshield is so muddy I can't distinguish any more? Is it depraved to enjoy compressed music sources?
 

spiritofmusic

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#40
I've got into more so-called superior jazz and classical recordings from my first loves of less stellar-recorded prog, fusion and electric jazz. The Rush, King Crimson and Magma recordings that I love on my Zus can sound hugely uninviting on more audiophile spkrs, but now I'm getting way more timbrally accurate and tonally immersive playback on the jazz and string quartet/solo piano LPs that were a bit distant and diffident before.

So how wide is my window?
 

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