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 Tuning and Musical Adventures

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PostSubject: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sun May 21, 2017 10:25 am

Tuning and Musical Adventures

Greetings Michael and Zonees

Sonic thought it might be time to start a new thread to talk about my tuning and musical adventures.  I mean the old thread title “Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback” actually dealt with the subject indicated in its title very quickly, with Sonic finding that the whole computer playback set up was relatively easy (I got help) and worked reliably ever since then with the recent addition of some iFi Audio accessories, that was about it. Most of that thread was about a lot of other things, which got Sonic to the point where long-standing problems with the room and system have been solved, resulting in consistent performance from the system and good musick.

This new thread looks at some new directions that Sonic is exploring. Of course, there is EQ, which I have been discussing with Michael and Bill333.

The other thing is an experiment in relation to the doors on the sides of listening room. Sonic got thinking from reading Alan Shaw’s articles on room resonances at the Harbeth Users Group (extract here edited for brevity by Sonic):

“We can use the hands in two ways - clapping together to make a load but brief 'crack' (i.e. a sonic impulse) and that will reveal useful information about the room's upper frequency behaviour. We can also form our hand into a tight fist and strike the walls, floor, doors, even ceiling if we can safely reach. Have you ever tried that? Every surface has its own natural resonant frequency.

Many UK homes like ours have thin decorative internal doors made of lightweight plywood panels lightly pinned onto a frame. They may look like solid objects but they're highly resonant.

Then I walked around the house banging other doors and walls and recorded their sonic signature on a high quality portable sound recorder in CD format. I imported the recording into an audio editor that could simultaneously display the waveform and more importantly for us this time, display the frequency response of the surface being thumped.

What do you think I found? All the doors and all the non-brick walls in this 1960s house have their own sonic 'twang' which you can hear for yourself on the recording. In reality, these seemingly solid surfaces are themselves acoustic instruments - once the critical note in the music is played by the loudspeakers, the sound wave (i.e. the bang from the first) will set them into motion at their natural frequency. And those surfaces will play 'their note' or notes as a continuous drone to accompany the music, but delayed in time and lingering long after the musicians note has ceased. That's what I call 'room bloom' or in a really bad combination of speakers, speaker placement, room construction, door construction and negligible soft furnishings 'room boom'. As I've shown on this quick example just walking around my home, we must consider that what we hear is always a combination of the speaker's latent abilities plus the sonic character of the room. The room's influence cannot ever be completely removed from the home listening experience. Not ever.

By the way, even the window glass has a characteristic low frequency sound and, being a very hard surface, is highly reflective in the middle and upper frequencies too. But for safety reasons, I don't suggest that you go around banging your windows, just in case they break.”

Source: http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/forum/the-science-of-audio/getting-the-best-sound-in-your-room-using-damping-materials/1160-real-speakers-in-real-rooms-what-to-expect-especially-in-the-lower-frequencies

Very quickly an idea came to Sonic after reading this and thumping my doors -- might the doors be the last frontier in turning my room? Might they be leaking bass and reducing the 360 degree effect that the Magneplanar MG1.5QRs and Michael’s gear are generating?  


Last edited by Sonic.beaver on Wed May 24, 2017 11:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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Michael Green

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Mon May 22, 2017 10:38 pm

Hi Sonic

Welcome to your latest thread study

There's so many things I want to get to as well this summer, should be an interesting time on TuneLand Smile

Looking forward to your adventures.

michael green
PH 702 762 3245
Email mgtune@yahoo.com
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Wed May 24, 2017 9:11 am

Remark from Sonic: This series of articles from Alan Shaw gives Sonic ideas on what to try on my doors.  Of course Zonees will note that Mr Shaw advocates damping while we at the Tune use controlled "acoustic burn" which is also damping (you'll find this all of Michael's acoustic products though in carefully selected amounts, always less is more, never the audiophile's customary use of huge areas of the room surfaces made absorptive), Sonic in my pursuit will stay close and true to Mr Green's principles.

Alan Shaw on Pressure Waves and an Experiment with a Beer Bottle

Quoted text starts here:

A loudspeaker in a real room ... pumping action

So what actually happens when you put a real loudspeaker (or two, three, five seven) in a real room and start playing music?

The first issue is that the room is swamped with energy - pressure waves from the speakers. If we had a super-dooper highly sensitive barometer in the room (the type that tells you if rain is expected) with an ink-pen that was extremely light weight, the nib would actually move in time with the music. So all the speaker is doing is 'inflating' and 'deflating' the air in the room according to the music, thousands of times every second. In fact, if we had Superman's muscles and lightning-fast reactions, we could achieve the same pressure-pumping effect as (a small speaker) by operating a bicycle pump really fast in time with the music.

So that's all the speaker does - wafts the atmospheric pressure at some point of measurement or listening up and down around the stasis pressure (so many millibars) just as if you were waving a large sheet or towel. And because the forward or upward going pressure can only create music in our ears if it is immediately followed by a reverse of direction giving a push-pull effect on our ear drums, the total volume of air in the room remains constant. So we'd hear music even if we hermetically sealed the room and guaranteed that none of the air escaped, and no new air entered. For example, we know from the Apollo missions that thousands of miles from earth in the airtight sealed command module, without helmets the astronauts could talk and play music. And our vocal chords are merely another way of locally modulating air pressure, and that push/pull pressure leaves our mouths and radiates away from us - detected by an ear (or microphone) as it passes them.

The essential point I want to make here is that the transmission of sound requires air to be pumped, and that pumping action both needs energy and radiates energy as a sound wave. Now consider this: we start playing music and we charge the room with sonic energy. We measure that sonic energy (with great difficulty) in acoustic watts by placing an infinite number of probe microphones in the room and adding together how much energy each one detects. Clearly, that's not practicable, so we conveniently sidestep that technical nightmare, and forget all about acoustic watts and think about power amplifier watts going into the speakers and their efficiency and directionality: a backwards but expedient way of imagining all those sound waves sloshing about like water in a fish tank.

Statement: as sound waves radiate from the speakers, they will hit surfaces. Depending upon the angle they impinge on the surface or object, the frequency, the absorptive characteristics of the object or surface, they will be reflected. Not even the anechoic chamber with 2m wedges is perfectly absorptive. Only a vacuum would neutralise the sound waves: if an astronaut removed his helmet, stepped outside the spaceship and attempted to speak, there would be total silence.

Observation 1: It follows that at best, there will be a maximum amount of sound wave energy pumped into the room by the speakers commensurate with the room's ability to fairly rapidly absorb that sound (by repeated bouncing of the sound between the objects in the room). Beyond the critical Room Maximum Sound Input (Rmsi) the room will be driven into acoustic overload, and the following notes will wrap-around into the unabsorbed reflections from the earlier notes.

Observation 2: It must be true that for every room, for a given set of loudspeakers and music, there will be a certain amplifier power needed to drive the room up to its Rmsi and that regardless of how many additional watts, or hundreds of watts are available from the amplifier, these simply cannot ever be drawn without the room's acoustic overload becoming chronic, and the sound a muddy mush. For most speakers in most rooms, probably no more than 100W is ever needed under any circumstances with any music if the room is to be driven up to but not beyond its Rmsi.

Observation 3: It must follow then that we can say, as a general rule, that a certain dB loudness as measured with a sound level meter can be used to estimated the Rmsi considering that most people listen in approximately the same size room with approximately the same absorption to approximately the same music. The critical loudness which just avoids room overload is probably about 80-90dB (a guestimate at this time) - but far lower than most audiophiles would think.

Observation 4: The WHO recommends that the public are not exposed to persistent loud sounds and that 85dB or so should be considered a relatively safe long-term listening level.

Observation 5: The speaker designer should use every design trick available to him to ensure that the speaker sound as natural as real-life even though the listener should be playing the speakers at home below Rmsi hence at a loudness far below that of the music, heard live.

Observation 6: We have to understand how the room corrupts (especially) the low frequency output from the loudspeakers, how audible that is, what can be done about it and whether it is worth the effort.

Acoustic damping - vital to tame room resonances

In the video in my post #11, I used a beer bottle as a handy resonator. I showed how this bottle had its own natural resonant frequency and with just a little energy input from me (lightly blowing across the open neck) it was set into vigorous resonance. And that's exactly how the seemingly solid surfaces in your room behave when they are excited by a little energy radiating from the loudspeakers.

As I mentioned in post #7 ...
... the best, cheapest, easiest and quickest way to reduce bass problems is .....TURN DOWN THE VOLUME. Pump less acoustic energy into the room! Then there is less to bounce around! Sit closer! ...

and that must be true because with both the air in the bottle and the walls in the listening room, there is a certain minimum 'huff' that's needed to overcome their inertia and set them into motion. And motion is an essential prerequisite to them generating sound, even though it may not be apparent to the human eye or even to the touch. But a vibration detector would readily measure their sonic contribution.

In the current version of the Harbeth User Guide here we mention the efficacy of (thick) curtains and drapes in the listening room. They need not be permanently drawn across walls - they could be drawn for listening and then withdrawn - and they should be spaced away from the wall as this magnifies their acoustic benefits. Alternatively, although more visually intrusively, the wall/door/surfaces could have acoustic tiles permanently attached. Or the existing panels could be removed and re-hung on energy absorbing joists. Whatever method we chose, the end game is to increase the amount of acoustic damping in the room because that is sure to eliminate or at least ameliorate resonances. And resonances in the listening room can never bring us closer to the music; they will always color the recorded sound by introducing tonality that just wasn't present at the recording venue. The more minimalist, bare and unfurnished the room the less the absorption, and inevitably the more the walls/ceiling/floor/door/windows will contribute to the sound.

So, back to the beer bottle and its simplistic analogy with a room surface in resonance. How can we damp its propensity to sing-out at its natural frequency? Can we apply damping to tame it and how much do we need? Do we need sophisticated materials or techniques? Will damping the air in this bottle demonstrate the importance of damping in the listening room as a general concept?

Watch my demonstration video ....
http://www.screencast.com/t/rKpzH9k4F I was surprised myself.

We have to accept that in the real world, few if any of use can build a $$$ listening room engaging world-class acousticians. But if we can get the idea of acoustic damping firmly in our mind then we just may be able to turn even the most challenging lively room into one that is good enough to enjoy great sound in without spending a fortune. As I've shown with the bottle, we need only the minimum amount of damping optimally positioned. We need no more than that.

Alan A. Shaw
Designer, owner
Harbeth Audio UK

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Fri May 26, 2017 9:13 am

Dealing with Doors and a Unique Loudspeaker from Japan

This is what Sonic did to reduce the bass leakage through the doors on the sides of my listening room.  What is used here are woven mats taken from a different part of my dwelling.

And they make a difference! The bass level has increased perceivably and there is a better sense of foundation to the music on everything being played since the mats’ introduction. The treble range is nicely pure.  The sound of cymbals and triangles have a nice sheen so too do the complex harmonics of the sitar and tambura.

In the couple days since this Tune, Sonic is needing the 2dB bass boost from the JVC Japan Victor Company Nivico Sound Effects Amplifier SEA-10 less.

This is a good result and if Sonic perseveres with this Tune and fully treat the doors, it might be the JVC SEA-10 might be employed in bass cut mode often.

We let this settle for a week and let’s take the measure of the sound.  I remember to check to track the progress of Sonic’s order of the Jantzen Z-Superior caps for the Magneplanar MG1.5QRs.

While we all listen and enjoy musick, here is a loudspeaker design to think about.  From Teragaki Labo:

The last picture shows how these unusual loudspeakers work. Sonic must find out more about them.

monoandstereo and  http://www.teragaki-labo.co.jp/tofficial/works/speakers.html

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sun May 28, 2017 7:59 am

Thoughts on the Teragaki Labo Loudspeakers

We have a speaker whose driver is a curved wooden panel with some brace bars across it.

There are transducers (speaker magnet motors) attached to the wooden panel to drive it with the musical signal.

Sonic wonders how edge termination is done, how unwanted vibrations and resonances are dissipated.

The type of wood and braces must have a significant effect on sound like a guitar’s top.

Sonic is looking around the internet to get some idea how this loudspeaker sounds.

Some material that Sonic found (google translated Japanese to English) from the Teragaki Labo website. This is enlightening if you can figure out what they are saying.

Quoted and translated text starts:

"Groove of the record has been cutting a few hundred watts of energy."
How did I step into the development of audio equipment, it begins with knowing that you are carved with great energy that cannot be considered the record groove. Because that has been working as a mechanical engineer to it, "in order to dig the groove of 0.1 mm, to spend the energy of several hundred watts" is, I was able to understand the feeling and engineering techniques are clearly excessive performance. However, the excess energy is, I was impressed that the passion itself of the people to make a record.

Grooves of the records that were made to do so is not perhaps the difference to have an enormous amount of information. And either at the time of the player, but the embodiment is not not fully pull the potential of the groove? I want to make the players to accurately read the information in this record to the limit. From such a feeling, I have decided to begin the development of the players.

In the development, I faithfully follow the physics (I only also follow how I), was devoted to that aim to "machine to measure the roughness of the record of the surface (groove) accurately." Such as "adjustment of the variation in each record," "necessary brutalism - together to read the accurate information", it various issues was a pile, obtained an improvement every time to superimpose the trial, the results record the we were able to achieve a precision of about not scraping be many times play.

1983 December 13, is the name players Unit 7, which was published in the "T1 (set name, including the equipment of the Audio-Technica)" at Technica Gallery, received a high evaluation to the people of each district, one of the milestone It celebrated. Resulting in up to 7 Unit is currently in the final model number, is also of the budget were required 300 million yen.

In developing of players, we had the support of a variety of people. I never think that it was the result that can not be form in my only power. We thank all of the people, great deal of understanding and unwavering belief of the group, and Hideo Matsushita Audio-Technica that gave me the opportunity of player development (Audio Technica founder), I would like once again to thank you.

Teragaki Speaker
By the development of players, "a device to accurately read the information in the record," and was completed, I put a break. At that time it was felt that "the information that has been read correctly, the speaker does not have to tell the ears" is now the motive of the speaker making. Among such, (but is quite familiar with my lecture) by curved plate was discovered that amplify the sound of a music box, we continue to research and development of the speaker using this principle.

A conventional speaker, but there is a completely different method,'s the same principle as the instrument to play the music. In that sense, I am not necessarily have invented a new method, it just was again borrowed the wisdom of our ancestors had already realized.

The characteristics of the sound, there is a similar feature and principles are the same instrument. First of all, the directivity of the sound is almost no, you will hear almost the same quality of sound heard from 360 degrees any position. Secondly, it (the sound pressure is small in the size of the split of the felt sound) point sound pressure is smaller than conventional speaker. Little sound of the sound pressure will benefit hard to tired to hear for a long time. The two points I think I was able to feel clearly for those who had you listen to the home of the prototype.

As shown in the photograph, that was repeated a prototype of quite a few over 20 years, empirically, we have built up know-how to produce more efficiently musical sound.

Speaker of this principle is Teragaki-Labo Co., Ltd. established, the company also manufactures and sells.

Idea, principle of Teragaki Speaker 1
Has been called the "matter wave speaker," "wave speakers" and the world, I think some people know my development was the speaker. Opportunity and I was supposed to be developing such a speaker, will introduce the concept of from that time.

Because it is not a theory that has been scientifically proven, here to introduce it is "on the basis of what kind of thinking, I did start the speaker development" will tell.

Is the fact that it is a "conventional and different sound quality" as a phenomenon, but because such things with respect to the "sound" disappear in an instant na ..., would be many people that seems suspicious.

And scientific basis, if you are interested in the demonstration of the study column " LinkIcon Study of Muto Professor of Keio University, please refer to the ".

My principle of discussion will be on the hypothesis on which has been carried out empirically development. With respect to the same principle in the future Teragaki-Labo Co., Ltd. will promote the research centered on.

Anyway, the need for the speaker is feeling, I had a trial and error, decisively inspiration was of is when I was sleeping at home.

From futon "mainspring sound of the clock" is heard -.

More than 60 years ago, I have something like call a machine in my home kid, was not only about the clock. It is strange. The sense that I felt at that time, timeless feeling that has been experienced in the distant past is, it was again revived in my brain.

At that time, it sounds re-recognize inspiration was born.

And, now think the speaker to express its "another vibration" is the "more, or not is closer to the essence of the sound?"

Sound in the air is transmitted in the two types of vibration

"The sound is a vibration of air."
It called the wave that vibrates with respect to the traveling direction of the wave compressional wave and (longitudinal wave). The wave of the vibration of the sound in the air is generally considered to travel in this compressional wave (longitudinal wave) (right figure A).

Since the compressional wave (longitudinal wave) is a fact that can be clearly observed, it would be considered "good, but compressional waves and sound". Will no longer to think more deeply about the sound from there.

However, considering that the internal of the mainspring sound of the clock could be heard from the futon, is only compressional wave (longitudinal wave) is the unexplained. Mainspring of the watch will not be able to vibrate the air outside of the watch. Let alone lie and is in close contact with the futon ears, because they are cut off the air which is in between the clock, not a "vibration of air (compressional wave) is transmitted to the ear."

Again, if the sound in only compressional wave is transmitted, the mainspring sound was heard from this futon is of a transmitted way of sound that is not impossible.

In other words, the sound is there is a way transmitted other than the compressional wave (longitudinal wave).

Another everyone will know you, but I have heard is "solid (clockwise ⇒ floor ⇒ futon) the transmitted sound." Such as in the construction of the world, it has been referred to as a "structure-borne sound" in terms relating to soundproof. Sound through the solid. It is simple.

However, in the object non-elastic, such as a solid, compressional wave, such as the right Figure A is unlikely. Therefore, "I do not know exactly what kind of vibration, but by neighboring molecules convey the energy of the sound, or not than sound is transmitted?" And I was thinking.

I was named its originally vibration "wave", then "matter waves".

Muto and the professor have found to study the characteristics of my speakers sound "transverse wave", my "wave" that differ in the out with a "matter wave" interpretation, I "transmitted the way of the energy of this sound-oriented it is that "who thinks that it is not the wave with the sex.

Molecules molecules transmitted to adjacent are adjacent to each other if the vibration will also vibration. In other words, I think or do not receive the interference of the vibration of the original and became also transmitted the previous molecule transmitted molecule.
In brief, one-way (actually a 360-degree, but) rather than travel with the peen to, that is to say I think we spread into space Innovation mess more complicated.

※ is in the dictionary "wave" as it is of meaning, but I was using the "vibration of substance phenomenon (from Wikipedia) that propagate through the media", because the occult to likely to be mistaken, and then changing the and call it "matter waves" I was seen, but this is due to the overlap with the other meaning, it has become even more confusing.

Solid even gas also molecular mass.
And, if the adjacent molecules convey the vibration, solid as well, liquids, and gas is also adjacent to each other molecules. "What the binding force of the molecules are different, not the even in the air similar material wave (the wave) exist?" If it
Sound in the air is transmitted in the mixing of the "chain of vibration caused by the molecule (" matter wave (wave) ")," "density waves" and.

This is now the basic idea for my sound.

Music box and underlay

So, how to ascertain the presence of the "matter wave (wave)"? And, you want to use? Was found in was thinking trial and error is the experiment of "music box and underlay".

Place the underlay to the music box, and curving the underlay, we found a "phenomenon" that sound is amplified. Simply alone shed underlay the music box, the sound of it, but is amplified, are further by curving the underlay, the sound of the underlay is further amplified. In this case, to apply the music box and the underlay is only a part (even those of the rod-shaped). (Right) of 30dB According to Muto Professor of Keio University amplification has been measured.

If, that is out of the underlay, if only compressional wave, you should see the vibration of the sound stops, or changes by suppressing the underlay. However, it does not change at all sound by suppressing the underlay. In other words, it is that the sound vibration of non-compressional wave is out.

I can use this principle, would be to apply the month and day of the 30 years, we decided to start the speaker development.
※ Keio University of Faculty of Environment and Information Studies LinkIcon Study of Yoshino Muto Yasushi Professor please visit.

From the music box and the underlay of the experiment, "waves other than compressional wave in the air is present = matter wave (wave)" to give more confidence to the idea, "how to generate the matter wave (the wave)?" we were able to get the hint.

Further work
Anyway, if the new phenomenon is discovered, after is up to study it empirically, scientifically.
What I wish is that want to create an environment in which more can you be "enjoy the music".

In addition, if you have found to be a variety, I would like to report.

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Tue May 30, 2017 9:40 am

Sonic purchases a Mercury LP  Exclamation

This last weekend Sonic had a  Shocked listening session with the first Mercury LP I ever bought.  Yes Sonic is abstemious in expenditure and not one to put down $x00s on “collectable” or “audiophile-grade” records. Yet last Saturday I found a Mercury LP in good condition at an affordable (to me) price.  So Sonic has bought my first Mercury LP – this is MacDowell's Suite No.2 “Indian” by the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra conducted by Howard Hanson.
Now we have read the insightful Dr. Robert E Greene writing contra to the audiophile tide by saying Mercury LPs. where orchestras were recorded by three spaced-omni mikes, do not give realistic imaging but are instead phasey.  He admitted that they might sound pleasing and in suitably set up (to him incorrectly set up) sound systems even render the music with lots of sound outside the loudspeakers’ outer edges. He was saying this in the face of the views of Harry Pearson and other authoritative individuals who reported extensively how Mercury LPs are the zenith of the recording art or something like that.

And know what?

The sound from the Mercury on my system is beautiful.  I am hearing great tone from bass to treble. String tone is very nice. Bass has foundation. And though the imaging is less exact than Sonic has heard from other LPs (and FLAC), the entire presentation is wall-to-wall huge and subjectively an excellent resemblance of what I recall hearing in the concert hall.

On this count, Sonic has to say that in this case Harry Pearson and others who applaud Mercury records are right.


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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Thu Jun 01, 2017 11:33 am

About the Graham Holliman Infra-bass Subwoofer

Sonic posted something on Graham Holliman and his quest for infra-bass as the key to realism in reproduced music.  He designed a subwoofer to pressurise a room. Here are some comments from someone who experienced the Holliman infra-bass subwoofer:


Quoted text starts:

I just wanted to post this so it would be easier to find if anybody wanted to construct a VLF subwoofer. It is an old design from the 1970's but a goody.

It is likely that the original drivers and crossovers are unobtainable now because of the age of the design, however, one could email (Welcome to the UK's largest loudspeaker supplier) or call Wilmslow Audio (01455 286603) for advice on feasible substitutions.

One friend made one in Preston (which I didn't audition) and another knocked one up in Lancaster which I did.

I think it was around about '95-'96 when I bumped into Jack who I knew from uni who said he had a friend called Rob with a DIY sub that I must check out and a few weeks later I was in this little gable attic room experiencing mind-blowing bass.

It was coming from a hand-painted white blanket box shaped thing about 3 1/2-4 foot long with a 12" woofer in the top; I can't remember the make of it but I do recall that the pre/power amp was an A&R Cambridge SA200 with the matching pre - SC150 or SC200? Dark grey with wooden side cheeks.

The wattage was about 150 per channel and you didn't need a lot of volume to 'experience' the bass wave.

It was intoxicating but it could get the better of you if you over did it.You just felt "out of sorts" and giddy and sometimes physical sickness which affected everybody that was near it when it was 'rockin.' Definately not for long-term high-level use but used sensibly it was unbelievable, totally effortless extension.

I felt it more than heard it; the room pressurisation was so intense it made me nauseous and I've never seen or heard anything like it before or since; I think that it messed about with the balance centres of my ears as well as pulverising all my organs.

You couldn't be near it for long when it was loud; maybe a couple of hours maximum.

Sonic remarks:

I have concerns about this description because any speaker that can create nausea must be pumping out lots of signal in the 6hz -- 8hz range at high levels. This sort of signals are not in any music enjoyed by people.

It might not be the fault of Mr Holliman's design, it could be the infra-bass sub was turn up too high. Though the question must be raise: where did these signals come from when playing records.

And these very low frequencies are dangerous because they don't strike one as loud. Sonic once tested a subwoofer that was pumping 20hz very cleanly.  I heard no sound but felt pressure on my ears and objects in the room started moving about.  A check on the sound level meter (dBC weighting) showed we were running at about 110dB!
If Zonees want to see what the Holliman device looks like and how to build it, diagrams, plans and discussions can be found at DIYAudio.

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:29 am

Treating the Side Doors of My Listening Room

About 10 days since Sonic applied the rugs to the doors, the bass has grown huge and has extended downwards.  Now there is more bass to the extent that if Sonic covers the surfaces of the doors in entirety, I will be needing to apply cut at 40hz with the JVC (Japan Victor Company) Nivico (Sound Effect Amplifier) SEA-10.

To think that this was the hidden problem with this room – lurking under the midrangey and hard sound from the concrete walls and ceiling was bass and soundstage leaking out the side doors!   Sonic has long thought it was the hard walls of this room that caused the midrange peakiness and thinness in the sound – while this is contributory definitely – but the major cause of the problems in this room is the leaking of bass and energy out the side doors! So no, it was not the windows at the front wall as Sonic and other friends I consulted thought.  

More than that, the improved bass has caused the images to fill up in a 3D fashion so that when I close my eyes, Sonic is hearing a wide, realistic soundstage with an all-round ambience field that is really 360 degrees round me. Plus TONAL WEIGHT  Very Happy

While I should not be too hasty in making any proclamation of completeness in the Tune (since Sonic has done this only to be wrong), the bass I am hearing tells Sonic that my target is in reach!

The project this weekend is to fully cover the door panels with suitable thin rugs.

Better too, Sonic found these two rare LPs at affordable prices and in very good condition:

They both contain historical performances by the artistes Exclamation

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sat Jun 03, 2017 5:07 am

Empirical Wisdom

You probably wonder sometimes why I don't come up a debate some of these theories, maybe not.

There's basically two reasons. One is the lack of time and repeating myself. The other is, you are past the stage of beginner audiophilia-ism.

When I have taken the time to read some of the theories by others you report on and quote, it throws me back to when I was in my late teens or early 20's when I needed to do these tests and listening sessions for myself. You try something and get a result, and then go on to develop a reason why, or theory. That's what I see when I read these reports by others. It's also why I prefer developing something that I feel is deeper and more personal than theory building. For myself, theory building has too much ego involved and tends to stop the student approach to knowledge. Empirical wisdom however always stays fresh and in motion. Being empirical is a process, an art form, more than a fixed rule or measurement.

While your doing your dampening, you should do a test and report on what you find. Stand up from your listening chair and walk toward the direct dampening you put on the door talking and using your voice and body as your measuring tool. The closer you get to the door the more you will hear it's plus and minus contribution to the room and how the room and your body is reacting to the direct material. By the time you get about a foot from the material you will be feeling and hearing the interaction taking it's plus and minus toll on your bodies system. Once you get inside the laminar flow you will hear, and sense, the affect on you and the entire wall.

Without the theories tell us what happened. Take down the material and do the same thing. Now have a friend and you do the same tests with you taking turns being on each side of the door.

The reason I'm saying try this is because I have made (built myself and had built for me) my share of listening doors and studio doors. I've also tested a lot of doors for studio applications from other designers. Tunable and none tunable, as well as double compression doors, and even vacuum seals. Reading some of the audiophile theory, and we can extend this to studio theory, I find quite a bit difference between the reality and the assumed theory. I'm not trying to 'dampen' (pun) these guys, what seems to me to be some what limited views and theory building, but, there are some common sense issues in their writings.

the bottom line for me is

I enjoy watching you grow, and as I see with Bill333, becoming your own masters of your hobbies. With Bill and you and the audio folks you quote, it all comes down to learning and how you (we) all as individuals become 'expert' in any of our tests and findings. This is certainly a hobby where winning takes practice. And finding the truths is both individually and variably based.

recorded codes, audio codes, audio chain and the tools and Empirical Wisdom we develop

always good reads Sonic, just wish I had more time in the day


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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:31 am

Greetings Michael

Rugs on Doors and Stylus Cleaning Fluid

Thanks for the insights – Sonic will move cautiously.  However, a quick test this weekend tells Sonic two things:

a.          the material of what is on the doors affects the sound:  Presently what I have up is a kind of woven mat of a plastic material which is made in Finland – which is what I been reporting on.

b.          cotton is NOT a nice sounding material: A test of a cotton floor rug of the same size, and in the same spots on the doors caused an instant shift up in pitch negating the value of covering the doors.

So all Sonic has done is fabricated some brass hooks to hang the plastic woven rugs rather than holding them between the door panel and frame which only works for doors that are not used for ingress or egress of the room.

Hi Zonees

Sonic assisted an audiophile to discover something good: this friend has a Linn Sondek LP12, a well-regarded damped unipivot tonearm and an MC cartridge, who on listening remarked of Sonic’s system in analog playback “your record playback is like (as noise free) as CDs! How do you do it?”

Sonic’s solution is simple – I have my records cleaned on a Keith Monks or the stubborn ones on an Audio Desk Systeme Glass machine upon acquisition. Before playing a record, Sonic uses a carbon fiber brush to lift surface dust. Sonic uses an MM cartridge (the Ortofon 2M Blue) that is very flat and controlled through the midrange and treble and with the Rega P5 and RB700 arm there is no energy storage to create issues from transients that lead to noise emphasis. I am of the view that record noise can be due to more than dirt in the grooves.

Then this friend looked at my stylus after playing a record side and said “there’s no dirt on your stylus, mine picks up a lot. Your sound is clean even into the inner grooves. How do you do this?”

Sonic said “my records only have surface dirt.  How do you clean your needle?”

He replied “I use an alcohol-based liquid cleaner from [name of a Japanese manufacturer] and I pick up lots of dirt from my records, sometimes so bad that I have to clean the stylus halfway in a side.”

Sonic offered the view of not using liquid stylus cleaners.  Use a brush or better yet, the Onzow.

Sonic ventures that the degree of surface pops and ticks (why must it be always “ticks and pops”?) is also a function of one’s system frequency response and propensity to ring. If your cartridge is bright, if your system has a upper midrange or lower treble rise or there is ringing in the system, you will hear emphasized record noise. Then there are things like energy storage and instability in the record player system.  

Also get the tracking angle geometry right – I use Baerwald.  This friend, till now has been using alignment cards with no setting of the overhang in relation to the angling of the cartridge in the headshell (you need to either be able to slide the cartridge and turn it a bit in the headshell), and then SRA: a starting point is to set the top of cartridge parallel to the record surface. If the sound is too dull, the tonearm pillar can be raised, if too bright, then the pillar is lowered a bit.  Roy Gandy of Rega believes that there should be a slight backward slope from the headshell to the tonearm pillar. This did not work for Sonic, a very dull sound resulted with an increase in perception of record noise, distortion and ticks and pops. Of course, cartridge loading must be set to manufacturer’s recommendation – this is equally important for both MM and MCs.

In terms of loading, MMs are sensitive to both input resistance (typically 47K ohms) and capacitance, while MCs are sensitive to only input resistance.

Happily, this audiophile has since cleaned his favourite records at the “outsource” cleaners that I go to and he switched to a carbon fiber stylus brush and record cleaning brush, done alignment. A bottle of wine was offered to Sonic as a gesture of thanks – no more clogging of styli, records much lower in surface noise though not quite as quiet as Sonic’s system as reported.


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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:41 pm

"a.          the material of what is on the doors affects the sound:  Presently what I have up is a kind of woven mat of a plastic material which is made in Finland – which is what I been reporting on."

noted study

Could be a nice blend for your room, as well as being a front for some slight burn behind them. study

If you have a website on the material please forward it to me, thanks.

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:52 am

Hi Michael

Those rugs were bought in person on a trip to Finland many moons ago, and they have no tags indicating brand name or material.
They are not Ikea stuff.

However, there are a thing called swedish plastic rugs which are popular and one website that has them for sale is:


In the meantime, Sonic is learning more about tuning the doors. There is more to it than hanging semi-absorptive surfaces on them.

My Learning -- Coupling the Doors to their Frames is the Source of the Improvement
This is what I mean -- some testing has shown Sonic that the bigger, deeper bass from treating the doors come from actually coupling the door panels to the frame and the walls tightly. The effect of a mat hung on the doors has the same effect but not to such a great extent.

What I mean is the door pairs when untreated are actually hanging free from just the hinges at the sides, a pair of bolts and a lock. The rest of the doors do not touch the door frame.

Michael, how shall I couple the doors to the their frames along the door panels' edges  Question

In the DIY stores, there are sound and weather-proofing products that are rubbery D-section tubes that one can glue to the door frame and when the doors are shut, they compress the rubbery D-section tubes and offer some coupling to the frame.

How would you create the coupling and seal along the edges of the doors? For the tune I know rubber, like cotton, is to be avoided wherever possible.  

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Wed Jun 07, 2017 9:39 am

Those D-section seals are usually made from some foam rubber material -- too soft for a seal that has any grounding effect and they rot away after a couple of years.

Sonic is checking out a door seal product made of TPU polymer for pro applications. That might do the job.

TPU = thermoplastic polyurethane.
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:15 am

Greetings Zonees!

Michael’s got a point (doesn’t he always?) when he suggested to Sonic:

“While your doing your dampening, you should do a test and report on what you find. Stand up from your listening chair and walk toward the direct dampening you put on the door talking and using your voice and body as your measuring tool. The closer you get to the door the more you will hear it's plus and minus contribution to the room and how the room and your body is reacting to the direct material. By the time you get about a foot from the material you will be feeling and hearing the interaction taking it's plus and minus toll on your bodies system. Once you get inside the laminar flow you will hear, and sense, the affect on you and the entire wall.”

Following Mr Green's pointer, Sonic has tested and the learning is that the doors are significant but while the Scandinavian plastic rugs on the wall help some, they have a “minus” contribution to the room sound. The bass has increased but the life and transient pace is weakened. Moreover, after settling there was slightly but perceptibly more bass on one side of the room than the other. Not exactly satisfactory.

I am waiting to apply the TPU polymer seals and that might stabilise the doors while allowing the rugs to be removed. This will be next week.

So for today here is an article Sonic found by someone who was something of an audiophile authority in my town at a time in the past, this piece dating from the early 2000s. T S Lim is a designer of gear like phono stages and amplifiers. Lim is reportedly an expert harmonica player and a member of the Singapore Mahler Society. While this post is not Sonic's endorsement of any of these views or the products mentioned, I hope Zonees will find their views a good read and an insight into audio in this part of the planet.

By Richard Seah

A RICH AUDIOPHILE once invited a musician - a Chinese orchestra conductor - to visit his home and listen to his hifi system. This was quite many years ago, when the audiophile's $60,000+ set-up was one of the most costly in all of Singapore.

When he entered the house, the musician was visibly impressed with the audiophile's collection of paintings, calligraphy, ceramics and other works of art. This was indeed a man of fine taste.

But when the music came on, the musician was not impressed at all. He frowned. He shook his head.

Now the audiophile, although very rich, is also very humble. He sincerely asked the musician, "What's wrong? If you have any suggestion on how I can improve the sound of my hifi, I will surely implement it."

"I don't know " the musician replied. "I have played this same music in my home many times and I am very moved whenever I listen to it. But here, I don't feel anything."

"What hifi equipment do you use at home?" the audiophile asked.

The musician was embarrassed to say. But when pressed, he finally revealed: "A Philips mini-compo."

The above story was told to me by DIVA designer T S Lim, who often uses it to illustrate what is meant by "musicality". It is a term that is, ironically, seldom understood by audiophiles who spend a great deal of time supposedly listening to music.

Audiophiles usually talk about bass, midrange and highs, about soundstage and imaging, about resolution and detail, about dynamics, including macro dynamics and micro dynamics. They talk about sound, not about music.

Yes, sometimes they talk about "musicality" too. They would make a statement like "this amplifier is very musical". But the term is often used very loosely and generally. What, exactly, does it mean?

It took me a long time to find out. It took me a long time to understand why Lim, when he listens to hifi, would make comments about the singer's vocal techniques, or about the conductor's reading of a score, rather than about the highs and lows that "normal" audiophiles talk about.

After a while, I begin to get the idea. A few times, while listening to "unmusical" hifi systems, I ever got the feeling that the performance was somewhat mechanical, as if it was a machine rather than a human playing the instrument.

I had this feeling once during the harmonica solo on Holly Cole's Tennesse Waltz (Don't Smoke in Bed album.) This was in a customers' house. I suggested switching his preamplifier, and the feeling changed.

I think it is easier to detect this feeling on musical instruments because the human voice will somehow sound "human" even in "unmusical" hifi systems.

Bach's music, especially his solo violin and solo piano pieces, are a good test. The nature of the music is itself somewhat mechanical. So when it is "unmusical" it will sound terribly mechanical and downright boring. But when it is musical, the same music can be a joy to listen to.

What makes music musical?

First and most of all, it is the performer. If the performer has little musicality to begin with, even the best hifi system will not help. In fact, hifi equipment can never help improve any music. The best they can do is minimise the extent of damage to the music.

After the performer comes the recording - the recording equipment, the process, the pressing, and so on. If you have a chance to compare different versions of the same recording, you will have a good idea. For example, in the Japanese pressing of Faye Wong's Tian Kong album, Faye's voice actually sound a lot sexier!

The way your hifi is set up will also have an effect. This happens all the time in my shop. In the process of swapping equipment and cables for demo, the isolation cones get shifted. (I use mostly DH Ceramic Cones, plus now a new brand, "Qi Cones".)

When the cones get shifted, the singer's expression changes! And it is frustrating for me not to be able to it get back right. I do not yet have enough set up skills.

Of course, the actual equipment plays a big part. Almost everyone who auditions the DIVA amplifiers remarks that they are "very musical". Because DIVA designer T S Lim is more concerned about making his amplifiers sound musical than anything else.

One recent DIVA customer, Lee Fatt, puts it well when he wrote: "It's never before since the last 8 years that I have enjoyed music more - sounds so musical, the voices so emotional, so involving. I can even enjoy songs from badly recorded CDs because of the amp's musicality and emotional involvement, yet forget the rest of the audio quality."

Musicality need not come with a heavy price tag, as the above example of the Philips mini-compo shows.

T S Lim has told me for many years that the inexpensive Marantz CD63 is a "very musical sounding CD player". He says it is more musical than even many of the ultra-expensive CD players or CD Transport / DAC systems, including those costing tens of thousands of dollars.

Really? I was never really convinced until early this year at CES 2000 in Las Vegas. Lim and I had taken part in THE SHOW (which is held in conjunction with CES) to exhibit his DIVA amplifiers. We shared a room with ReTHM horn speakers and DH Ceramic Cones.

We paid considerable money to take part in THE SHOW and we had to compete for visitor attention with several hundred other exhibitors, including some of the world's "best" hifi brands. We had to get the best possible sound - the best possible music - from our set-up.

So Allen Chang of DH Cones offered to bring along a Sony SACD player, the latest new technology CD player which many audiophiles and audio reviewers have been raving about.

Lim's reaction was "But is it musical?"

He felt it would be wise to bring along his (modified) Marantz CD63 just to be safe.

When we compared the two CD players, the three of us (Lim, ReTHM designer Jacob George and myself, Allen was not present) very easily decided which was more musical: the Marantz wons hands down!

On the Marantz, the music simply sounded more "correct". It sounded more like music. I don't know how else to describe it. But the difference was so great that, in less than a minute, we unplugged the SACD. We did not even think about resolution, detail, soundstaging, etc etc. All that was irrelavent.

On to a more recent hifi show, AV Fest 2000 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 4 to 6 August 2000.

At a seminar during AV Fest, Lim was scheduled to give a talk on "The Art of High Fidelity", to be followed by a talk by Jacob George. Since Lim's DIVA and Jacob's ReTHM were exhibiting together, they decided to present their talks jointly, with a live demonstration.

Scheduled just before them was Kondo San, famed designer of the world's most expensive - and some say, "the world's best" - tube amplifiers: the Ongaku (S$100,000+) and Gaku On (S$300,000+). Kondo San's topic was similar: "What is Good Sound?"

Lim, Jacob and I discussed the issues over several nights: What is High Fidelity? What is Good Sound?

High Fidelity means "highly faithful". It means reproducing sound that is as close as possible to the real thing. Among other things, it means accurate sound reproduction, with the lowest possible distortion.

But is this also "Good Sound?"

It is easy enough to agree that lower distortion is not always better sound. Many cheap brands of mass market amplifiers have extremely low distortion - in the region of 0.00... % Yet they don't sound good at all compared with some high quality tube amps with distortion figures of 2% or 3%.

Can highly distorted music sound good?

Take, for example, the ablum of old Chinese songs, recorded by Lee Hsiang Lan during the 1930s. The music is highly distorted, sounds very far from real, live music. Yet Hong Kong audiophile magazines say the music will "transport you to audio heaven". It stirs the emotion, it moves the spirit.

"That is good sound," Lim declares.

Jacob and I disagree. We argue that while it may be good music, good performance, it is still "bad sound".

Distortion reminds me of modern paintings such as those by Piccasso: one eye here, another eye there, nose and mouth totally out of place, totally out of proportion, totally distorted. Yet they are considered "good art". Why?

"Because it captures the soul!" Lim explains. "Not everyone has Piccasso's ability to paint a distorted picture and still capture the soul."

Yah! Agree!

By the same token, not everyone can snap a photograph - which gives an accurate picture - and capture the soul either.

We spent many hours talking about such things. In the end, the conclusion I draw is that, yes, "High Fidelity" means "highly faithful to the real thing, the real music." But there are two levels of reality - the physical reality and the reality of the soul.

Physical reality is about sound vibrations - how close does the music from your hifi approach real, live music. Reality of the soul is about the emotional content - to what extent does your hifi convey the emotion of a musical performance?

This second reality can be called "musicality".

It reminds me of yet another story which I once read in a US hifi magazine.

A hifi dealer wanted to impress his customers, so he played a solo piano recording through his hifi. Midway through, he faded out the music and his wife took over, playing the piano "live" in the next room.

The audience could not tell the difference. They were impressed.

Except for one. He told her hifi dealer: "Congratulations! You've just succeeded in making a world famous pianist performing on a Steinway sound like your wife playing on an upright piano!"


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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:01 am

TPU Polymer Door Seals

Sonic has installed the TPU polymer seals on my doors. I was only supplied enough to do 2/3s of the project. Meaning there are 4 frame uprights, 4 top pieces, 2 upright door-to-door joints in total. So far, 3½ frame uprights and 3 top pieces have been sealed.

The seals look like a soft plastic tube like a heat shrink tubing of 1 cm diameter with a peel off adhesive strip running down the length.

I think the sound is benefiting somewhat even with the 2/3s seal. Sonic must be cautious and go slowly as listening has changed and needs settling.

Next week I am going back to the source for more to fully seal the doors.

Differences between Recordings

Also been listening to LPs too as it is Sonic’s practice is to play vinyl from Fridays to Sundays. This is 100% of the playlist on these evenings, though some LPs are played as the mood takes me on other days, though most weekdays I am too tired after work. Vinyl demands a different mindset to fully appreciate.

There is a lesson here – Sonic played two records of piano and cello sonatas. One by sonatas by Martinu, the other with pieces by Balakirev and Britten. Even though the instruments are the same, the Tone and perspective could not be more different. The Martinu LP had the cello forward, piano back, both tonally very warm. The Balakirev/Britten had a smaller and thinner sounding piano and an overwrought cello. The back to back difference between the recordings was large, it would be clear even on a very basic system. And in this case Sonic is only describing the tonal and perspective changes, the changes are even larger when we bring in spatial factors and the liveness/deadness of the recorded ambience.

Now given that every playback system has an inherent static EQ, one record will sound more right and the other “odd” or wrong as in Sonic’s case, or both are going to sound wrong. Applying Tune or EQ will require different and in this case opposite approaches/curves to get any target sound.

And this is the reality of things between any two recordings regardless if we notice it or not. This is something that Mr Green has been talking about.

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Tue Jun 13, 2017 10:15 am

Ever Wondered What Is The Difference Between VTA And SRA?

VTA adjustment is passe. Now audio people are talking about adjusting the SRA (the Stylus Rake Angle). Here is a good piece explaining the difference.


Quoted text starts:


Enough is enough! Here is a summary of the differences between SRA and VTA.

VTA or vertical tracking angle is the angle the cantilever makes with the surface of the record. Typically in the range from 10 to 30 degrees for cartridges, this should be matched to the VTA of the cutter head cutting stylus's pivot angle as it cuts the record, which can be likened to a defined length and pivot point, ala the phono cartridge.

The cutter head swing arm angle is a relatively fixed value for the various brands of cutter heads, and unless adjusted in the field, should remain very consistent in the field for all cutter heads of similar make and model. The range of modern VTA is approx. 24 degrees to 18 degrees, with most cutter heads being adjusted to around 22 degrees.

If the VTA of a phone cartridge is off, it will generate FM distortion (2nd order), and in almost all cases, will not be audible unless the cartridge is more than about 4-5 degrees off, and then only under ideal conditions of perfect alignment otherwise, and a highly resolving system.

One factor that CANNOT be matched by the user is if the arc length of the cutter head's effective swing arm length matches the cartridge cantilever length from pivot point to stylus tip. This mismatch will generate 3rd order FM distortion products, but again, has to be fairly far off to cause an audible problem.

SRA is stylus rake angle, or the angle the contact edge on the side of the stylus makes with the record groove. It is usually expressed with respect to the surface of the record, with straight up and down being zero degrees. For spherical sytlii, there is no SRA, only VTA, and then you can adjust for VTA without regard to the stylus angle. For eliptical and fine line stylii, there is a defined and relevant SRA.
Getting the stylus contact line to line up with the HF modulations of the groove wall is similar to aligning a tape haed to the recorded waves on the magnetic tape: you want them to be totally parallel with one another. When a fine line stylus is not aligned with the groove wall in terms of matching the SRA to the record walls groove angle as cut by the cutting stylus, then the footprint of the stylus will be riding over more than a single HF groove wiggle at a time. This results in a loss of HF's, and a blurring in time of the recovered signal, just like on a tape deck. If that was all that occurred, then incorrect SRA would be rather benign.

However, the situation for the groove wall is not like that of the tape deck, the groove wall and stylus are a mechanical interface whereby the groove wall modulations can torque on the stylus edge as it passes over the modulations at a rake angle that is not the same. This tends to generate spurious signals that are not harmonically related to the original signal, and the torquing tends to cause the intrisnic cartridge cantilever/moving system resonances to be excited and stimulated. The result: hash and HF frazzle that reaches surprisingly low in the audio band due to intermodulation with the signals being recovered from the record groove.

The distortion levels for SRA are much higher, and much more irritating than for the VTA distortion. This is because they are aharmonic in many cases, and the IM reaches down into the midband.

So when adjusting the angle of the cartridge/tonearm system, SRA should be the parameter being adjusted for, not VTA.

If you have any doubts about how to set this via my info, follow your cartridge manufacturer's recommendations. They usually specify that the top of the cartridge body be parallel to the records surface at the nominal recommended tracking force. However, if you use a tracking weight different than the middle of the tracking range, or the "recommended" weight, then the angle will be slightly off.
You can actually see the angle of the diamond chip that is the stylus, as most stylii have the diamond chip shank axis the same as the contact line axis. One of the notable exceptions was the old Shibata style stylus, which had the angle of the stylus rake different from the angle of the whole diamond chip/shank, and the contact line was actually slightly curved in the vertical. Using a penlight or maglight flashlight, have someone illuminate the stylus tip from behind (center of record) while you look at the cartridge from the side while it is in an outer groove on a flat non-warped record. With either a bit of squinting or the aid of a magnifying glass, you should be able to see the diamond stylus shank extending down into the groove. Really, all you will be able to see is the part that sticks up from the groove, and through the cantilever on the top side.

After studying the range of modern cutting lathes, it was determined via measurement and listening tests that the optimum SRA was a value that would provide decent playback on most records, without resetting the SRA for every individual record, was approx. 1 degree forward (top away from the tone arm pivot).

If you back illuminate the stylus as related above, you should be able to see the diamond chip's angle, which corresponds to the SRA. It should definately not be tilted back (the shank top toward the tone arm pivot).

If you make up an index card with a straight up line and a line 1 degree off of that tilted in the proper direction, you can use such a card as a visual aid in aligning the stylus chip angle. [Remark from Sonic: Jon issued a subsequent correction -- that it was 2 degrees not 1 degree as given here, that is 2 degrees leaning in the direction of record rotation]

This set it and forget it SRA alignment will playback 80% of all records with a minimum of average SRA error, usually within a degree or two of the record groove walls rake angle. Anything less than 0.5 degrees off of exact alignment for a particular combination of groove wall rake angle and SRA is not very audible, although an error in the direction of too high at the tonearm pivot (shank top more away from the tone arm pivot) will tend to sound worse. That is why this average SRA angle is biased toward a slightly higher average error in the benign direction, and not the other way.

This adjustment will at least get you in the ball park for a starting point. It helps to remember that if you adjust the SRA by ear for a particular record, you may be as much as 5 degrees or more off for another record.

For the published version of this, see:

November 1980 Popular Electronics article titled: "Phonograph
Playback: It's better than you think." by myself and Dr. Maier, p. 48.


High Fidelity in the March, 1981 issue on page 31.


Audio magazine, March 1981, page 21, "More Than One VTA",
again by Dr. Maier and myself.

Jon Risch

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:03 am

The Primacy of "King Tone"

Sonic will only get the next batch of TPU seals this weekend to complete sealing the doors.  Though with a week of settling I am very pleased with how the sound has gained tonal fullness.

This brings me to an idea that has been growing in Sonic’s head – that tonal correctness and beauty is the Primary Defining Quality of a music system ahead of everything else.  King Tone they call it.

What I mean is when we are first introduced to an audio system and hear the first notes, the first thing that strikes us as good or off is the Tone – only after we take the measure of the Tone that we think about imaging, soundstage width, holographic effects and all those other things.  I will venture that after Tone, the thing that very quickly strikes us next may be Dynamics – the attack and “jump factor” or the absence of it. Then step by step we take the measure of imaging, soundstage etc.  
And if the Tone is wrong, any of those things following even if they are right or even spectacular become irrelevant.

Meaning Sonic has heard orchestral music through some very expensive mini monitors and I recall the sound as thin, bass-light, foundationless.  Yes, the soundstage was much wider than the spacing of the speakers, the imaging had what some will call “layering” but with the Tone wrong, this mini monitor system with all its expensive tubed amplification was unpleasant.

“King Tone before all else” thinks Sonic.

Till I report on the completion of the door sealing project, have a look at this:

Source: http://jeffsplace.me/wordpress/?p=9495&cpage=1

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sat Jun 17, 2017 6:19 pm

"Following Mr Green's pointer, Sonic has tested and the learning is that the doors are significant but while the Scandinavian plastic rugs on the wall help some, they have a “minus” contribution to the room sound. The bass has increased but the life and transient pace is weakened. Moreover, after settling there was slightly but perceptibly more bass on one side of the room than the other. Not exactly satisfactory."



Welcome to my world Sonic Smile

Always being a student of what is missing, as much as what is there, builds tuning wisdom.

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:37 am

Mr Green -- Sonic learns from you study

Door Sealing Progresses

Sonic has applied the TPU door seals completely.  What this means all the edges where the doors contact the door frames have been sealed.  Add to that the seam/edge where the two doors of each pair lock on each other when closed have TPU seal strips. Now it is only the edge of the doors immediately above the floor surface that have a gap.

Eight hours of settling on and the remark Sonic says is “I did not know this room had so much lower frequency energy. The ‘concrete bunker’ sound of a hard ring from the walls has disappeared.”

The sound is getting tonally warm in the direction of the classic BBC monitors.

Now eight hours is not enough to tell the true emerging characteristic of the sound.  

Sonic will report as this settles through the coming week or two.

I am optimistic  Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:55 am

Door Seals – Day 3

Three days on and the cello range has come up in level and is therefore more prominent. This is something Sonic has been looking for. Bass is more growling and weight has increased, you can hear it on downward glissandos. I like the sound of the weight in the deepest notes.

Violins are more articulate and a bit sharper, this is not a dark, slow sound at all. Sonic has heard this sharper articulation at live concerts of string quartets (assuming I remember accurately).

The “thrummm” subharmonics of Martin dreadnoughts like the HD35 when big chords are played and the “chunky tone” when a Gibson J200 is vigorously strummed is nicely audible.

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:04 am

Stuff from Bob Ludwig including a view on “What is Musicality?”

For the full interview go to: http://tapeop.com/interviews/105/bob-ludwig/

On the other hand, there's music that works especially within the boundaries of limited sound quality. Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska comes to mind, which is haunting, despite its "lo-fi" 4-track cassette sound.

With Nebraska, Bruce and his producers remixed the 4-track Portastudio cassette through a Neve console and an SSL console, but Bruce liked the cassette. I got a Nakamichi Dragon, a state-of-the-art cassette machine. I corrected the azimuth and speed of the tape, but Bruce liked it left alone — running quite slowly when played on a proper cassette deck. A few times during the years, when "Atlantic City" became part of a compilation, I would ask Bruce if he wanted the speed corrected to the same 440 [Hz] pitch he used when he sang it, and the answer is always, "No." It is what it is, and it is a work of high art.

Just recently I did a project with Jack White and Neil Young, called A Letter Home. Jack White refurbished a 1947 Voice-o-Graph vinyl recording booth, used to make one-off disks to keep, or mail to someone, to hear on their phonograph. It's almost impossible to keep on-speed, and, by design, the recording sounds not only like a 78-rpm disk, but a well-worn and ravaged one at that! Jim Farber at the New York Daily News brilliantly said it was "like some audio equivalent of a message in a bottle, long ago tossed into the sea." The record is sometimes hard to listen to, with lots of ticks, pops, and other noises, but it is 100 percent vibe and it works beautifully. A project totally worthy of the extreme effort they went through to create it.

You've referred to mastering as "the idea of bringing out the musicality of the material." Could you try to define musicality a bit further?

Musicality is a function of one's reaction to what one is hearing. Good mastering can bring out many details in the sound that might have been lost in the original mix. One can hear the details better and react to the subtleties that are inherent in the music. I would say it brought out the musicality inherent in the sounds that were recorded. When I master, I not only treat each song differently, if it needs it, but I consider every note of a piece to be sure everything is as good as it can possibly be. Sometimes a single bass frequency may need to be dipped for one note.

With digital masters, does a transfer to analog tape help to imbue musicality?

It is a case-by-case situation as to which is better. For most mix engineers, mixing to analog tape can beautifully glue the sound of their mix together in a way that digital can't — so far! However, for engineers like Bob Clearmountain or Chris Lord Alge, what comes out of the console is exactly what they want to hear. The soft saturation and head bumps — the warmth of analog tape — now become a bit muddy and lacking in clarity. Some producers of projects with limited budgets, where it was recorded and mixed in digital, have asked me to transfer the approved takes to analog tape and master from that.

I would say that 30 percent of the time it works beautifully, and 70 percent of the time it doesn't. Those times that it does work, it is an amazing thing, and I still wonder why a transfer can imbue so much musicality into the sound. If you are doing a pop project, checking out the sound of capturing your mix on analog tape is a worthwhile exercise if you can afford it. For me, the choice of tape machine, the choice of the electronics, the brands of tape, and the way the tape machine is aligned can give me plenty of choices to determine how the transients and saturation sound.

You once said that today's converters, with great clocking, cannot be differentiated from the analog source by anyone you've tested.

I'm not saying that no one can ever hear the difference, I'm merely saying when someone comes into the studio for a quick visit and I play the source vs. high resolution digital, a 96 kHz, 192 kHz, or DSD copy, no one can immediately pick out the difference. Don't forget, these are all awesome converters. The quality of the engineering of the analog-to-digital converter and DAC is much, much more important to the musicality of the sound than the sampling rate could ever be.

Our $8,000 converters at 16-bit/44.1 kHz sound way, way better than a 192 kHz playback from a $5 chip on a DVD-Audio player. I think the higher resolution sounds reveal themselves not in A/B testing, but in long periods of time. Play an entire album in a relaxed atmosphere at 96 kHz/24-bit, then, at the end, listen to it at 44.1 kHz/16-bit, and you'll get it right away. A/B testing, while the only scientific method we have, does not reveal too much with short-term back-and-forth comparisons due to the anxiety the brain is under doing such a test. The brain becomes very left-brain-technical, rather than right-brain creative and musical.

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Fri Jun 23, 2017 12:02 pm

Door Seals – Day 6

With six days of settling, Sonic likes the way I can now follow the tune being played by the bass and celli plus the change in girth and weight as different notes are played. Recordings that were thin and reedy now sound smooth and listenable without need for any boosting of bass or reduction of treble.  

Yet within these six days Sonic finds hints that I should not go overboard and start sealing up the doors to the point they need effort to close.  With excessive use of this TPU material the gain in warmth appears to reduce.  

So I am staying with full sealing round the perimeter of the doors but not the seam where the two halves close in on each other except around where the locks are where there is a gap.

Sonic would like to explore sealing the bottom of the door and the floor with the leftover TPU door seals.

Now if good Zonees are wondering what the TPU door seals look like, here is a picture:

In my post of June 20, 2017, Sonic wrote “assuming I remember accurately”. By saying this Sonic recognised that our memory of hearing is actually very poor. This has been pointed out by people such as Alan Shaw and Robert E Greene.  

For example, we may recall that the bass at a concert was huge, deep and more prominent that in our systems, we may recall the orchestra width was far wider than our systems, we may remember how the voices of choir faded into silence within a church nave. Yes we can recall that well, but more than this like the tone of violins, the precise balance of an orchestra and so on, our recall of what we heard may be way off.

So going to live concerts and coming home to compare sound and tune is good as a basis of understanding what the live musick we want to reproduce sounds like. But it has to be approached with the understanding that what we recall of the live musical event is fallible.

Of course there are varied ways to approach Tone.

For instance, we can rationalize that since we do not know what went into our CDs, downloads, LPs and tape we should forget about any concept of fidelity and tune our systems to be as tonally pleasing as we like.

Sonic has sympathy for this idea because ultimately our systems have only one objective – to sound pleasing to our ears. If we want to benchmark the sound of our systems to the fading recall of what we hear in concert halls, jam sessions and jazz pubs this is fine too. In truth if someone came to me and said “I find Reggae, Dub and Mendelssohn played LOUD on my Dr Beats headphones to sound so real and enjoyable!” Sonic cannot disagree!

I guess if we hit a Happy Spot then that’s OK, though this will not be the same as claiming that our systems are “tonally accurate”.

To achieve tonal accuracy from memory is a skill that few possess and comes perhaps with lots of exposure with live music and even training in musicianship and tonmeistership.

Sonic is pretty thrilled with what I am hearing with my room doors sealed

Two Questions for Michael
1.          So Michael, since our recall of musical events is prone to inaccuracy.  You offer tuneable speakers, tuneable rooms and tuneable room treatments.  How do I ever know if I got it right?  

2.          Is accuracy and fidelity important at all?

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Michael Green

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Fri Jun 23, 2017 2:17 pm


1. So Michael, since our recall of musical events is prone to inaccuracy.  You offer tuneable speakers, tuneable rooms and tuneable room treatments.  How do I ever know if I got it right?  


The simple answer is, if you don't use the same method used to create what is "right" your playback will always be inaccurate.


2. Is accuracy and fidelity important at all?


I've yet to come across any audiophiles who interpret a piece of music the same. What is accurate, and important to me, may be way off from what is important to some other listener. Playback is a sport of 'variables', so is the recorded code.

Audiophile myth creators tell their stories of what should be, many times, based on if the universe was not a moving continuum. If we truly got into how many versions of listening there were of the same recording the collective audiophile brain would explode. The variables and opinions is what keeps the hobbyist's mind engaged. However there are even huge differences between the many types of audiophiles. Each of these types look at any performance through their own lens.

My job is to create tools, as usable as I can, that allows the listener to be part of the debate of accuracy and fidelity. Does the end user get to their listening goal, is always on my mind. Me saying "something is accurate" would take an entire forum to explain. Thank goodness that's exactly what we have, an entire forum. study

michael green
PH 702 762 3245
Email mgtune@yahoo.com
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:02 am

Door Seals – Day 8

Two more days on, making eight, Sonic has been listening and assessing the effect of the TPU seals (on the door frames and the seams where the two doors close on each other) to understand more.  

Sealing the doors has not surprisingly changed the tone of the room a bit.  I can hear both more bass energy and also more midrange energy coming from the sides. My Tune tactic is to go forward instead of backtracking and removing the seals where the doors join each other.  The question Sonic has to ask “what next Tune should I do to change the balance by reducing the mids while maintaining the low frequency energy?"

There are a few Tune-actions Sonic can do to, among them a return in a form to the placement of FS-DTs on either side of my listening chair as shown in my post of April 7, 2017 (in my Tuning Computer Audio Playback thread).

Let’s start – then discuss the results here with Zonees.

More Thoughts About “Accuracy”

Michael sayeth:
“I've yet to come across any audiophiles who interpret a piece of music the same. What is accurate, and important to me, may be way off from what is important to some other listener. Playback is a sport of 'variables', so is the recorded code.

Audiophile myth creators tell their stories of what should be, many times, based on if the universe was not a moving continuum. If we truly got into how many versions of listening there were of the same recording the collective audiophile brain would explode. The variables and opinions is what keeps the hobbyist's mind engaged. However there are even huge differences between the many types of audiophiles. Each of these types look at any performance through their own lens.

My job is to create tools, as usable as I can, that allows the listener to be part of the debate of accuracy and fidelity. Does the end user get to their listening goal, is always on my mind. Me saying "something is accurate" would take an entire forum to explain. Thank goodness that's exactly what we have, an entire forum.”

The idea that there is an original performance encoded in the groove and pits that can be accurately reproduced is probably one of those views that seem logical on the surface but is not the whole picture when drilled into as an idea. It is a shallow idea actually. And it is this idea that has influenced an entire high-end audio industry -- including starting dubious trends of amps with no tone controls (a global trend started by Naim with their NAC12 preamp).  

Sonic posits that whatever live performance was recorded/exists in the grooves of our records was done from a perspective which listeners will never hear it from. For example: mics suspended 20 ft overhead an orchestra, mics at the conductor’s podium, ensembles miked from several positions and blended.  Mics placed at close distances to instruments. Then of course, multi-track recordings never had a live performance to begin with.

It is therefore somewhat illogical for someone to say “my system reproduces this LP with a perspective from Row H.” Good for you -- except if there is one thing that is certain, it is the orchestra/ensemble was NOT recorded with the mics at Row H.

Sonic thinks too once the sound is converted into an electrical signal/digital stream the event has been reduced and transmuted.  Our ears and the response of mics are NOT the same.

And then the final product was balanced by engineers using systems, speakers and rooms totally different from what we are playing back the recordings in. Again we do not know the SPL at mix down and mastering, so we are not listening at the same level when the produced “signed off” the mix.

Over at the home listening room, add the 1000s of variables of our systems – horns, planars, cone speakers or headphones, big rooms, small rooms, live acoustics, dead acoustics, messy acoustics. All are very different and create different realities from a recording. This is the same in concert halls too depending on where you sit!

An audiophile’s brain may explode or we could accept this reality and EQ and tune.

The point then is that any recording played back in our systems will be subject to all the variables from the mic diaphragm down the chain till the soundwaves hit our ears.  

Sometimes the end result will be pleasant, other times we can sense that something could be better.  

For instance, Sonic is now listening to a string quintet.  In this recording, I feel the viola could be more prominent.  And Sonic can adjust it with the EQ or do some tune – and I might be happy with the louder viola or it might sound ghastly making me conclude that the original balance in the record is right.  So I keep learning and my sense of musical accuracy gets progressively sharpened (tuned?).


Last edited by Sonic.beaver on Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:32 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Corrected text: the Naim preamp that started the trend of no tone controls was the NAC12 not the NAC32 as earlier written. See Sonic's posting of May 12, 2017 in the Computer Audio Playback thread for details.)
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:17 am

Something from Alan Shaw

Re: Digital Vs Analog recording!

Originally posted by EricW

"... the limited bit depth of the CD standard means that low-level notes don't actually decay naturally in a digital recording, because the resolution decreases as the level gets lower (contrary to analog, in which resolution does not degrade at low levels, at least so long as you're above the noise floor)..."

This aspect of digital may be true in the laboratory, but it's irrelevant for music reproduction. By implication, CD runs out of resolution only in the extremely low-level sounds. Those sounds are at least 30dB below the noise floor of analogue tape so they would have been completely obliterated by tape hiss* in an analogue system. And once they're smothered in hiss, they're truly gone forever. It's hard to describe how poor the resolution of analogue is, yet, ah yet!, there can be something very attractive about analogue though. I have several very large mastering analogue tape recorders and I've done my very best to align them to get the best from them. But even I have to admit, the romance is separated from the fact as soon as you measure their capabilities. The hiss really is a problem; the distortion can be minimised by jockying the recording level. Dolby SR noise reduction is marvellous for hiss reduction, but does erase much detail.


To give you an idea of how low a level we're talking about, take a digital recording of a concert, and in the second or two after the last note has decayed to almost complete silence turn up the volume dramatically before the track end to hear those extremely low level sounds. Do they sound distorted or strange? No, just a bit hissy. Is this issue relevant to your enjoyment of music - no.

* What we call hiss is nothing more or less than random noise. In the analogue recording world, hiss is caused by the random orientation of the micro-sized iron filings that store sound on magnetic recording tape. The practical technical limitations of these little magnets were reached about 20 years ago since which it has not been possible to improve analogue recording tape.

Alan A. Shaw
Designer, owner
Harbeth Audio UK

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