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 Which is it?

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Michael Green
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PostSubject: Which is it?   Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:41 pm

It's been a little amazing, almost scaring, how many emails, PM's, calls, conversations and messages I've received since I've been demoted to 2 listening areas instead of several Laughing . Don't look so worried I'm fine Very Happy In fact, I'm seeing more activity here than I did at Padre Bay so far, go figure Rolling Eyes

What has caught me off guard is a common question "what setup do I prefer"? Why ask me what setup do I prefer when I have downsized instead of when I was in several listening rooms? I mean yes I have always been asked this a lot, but now for some reason the question has been pouring in.

I put this thread in "mg Reviews" because the answer might surprise, heck it even might surprise me.

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PostSubject: Re: Which is it?   Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:03 am

For my source there is no doubt in anyone's mind that my choice is some variation of the Magnavox CDP. I call this a CDP because I don't use it for video, and if I did I would be clamping the top and bottom of the unit with the case on, because the video part of this unit really comes into focus tuned. However video and audio are 2 separate functions when it comes to tuning and there isn't a combined unit that tunes to both with the same setting. In other words if video focus is your gig you will probably be tuning the Magnavox to a tight setting. Typically this setting will shift the mid frequencies upward. I'm more of a mellow midrange listener so when I get my video to where I like it the soundtrack mix gets too forward. I can get it close but I guess I'm too much of a single source system guy.

what about vinyl mg?

Well vinyl and tape would certainly be high on my list and I have no fault or dispute with anyone choosing either of these over my Maggie. But my case may be a little different from most because of my background. I spent my early years of listening correcting the bias on both tables and tapedecks professionally. In fact my job as tape runner meant that it was my responsibility to make sure the playback, or playthrough, for the recordings stayed consistant through the chain.

I think it was the mid 80's when I friend of mine brought me a recording to listen to by Dire Straits. No it wasn't a tape this time around, or vinyl. What Brent brought to me was a CD. I wasn't new to CD at all, and I think I was maybe one of the first of my friends (other audio store owners) that sold CDPs as serious front ends. I can't recall how completely dedicated I was to CDs, but I was to digital as a language. I don't think I ever went through that myth thing where digital was a signal. I worked with signals all my teens and to me I never confused analog as a language and analog as a signal. Brent was the guy in the gang of engineers I hung out with that was going to stay with the analog language to death so when he showed up with this CD I thought it was to challenge and or taunt me. I always had the reference system for all of us when it came down to final decisions, with the exception of Brent's Klipsch set up or Martin's B&W or Joe's JBL. Those 3 and some others like Quad or Yamaha (NS series) that were used to identify with our fellow studios, were some of the guide lines and I was the outcast that had designers build mine custom to suit me. So anyway Brent walks in and said you gotta put this on. He said I can't believe what I'm hearing. Brent saying this was pretty crazy (remember we're a bunch of cutting edge engineers in our 20s, pretty cocky too most of us). Brent throws on Brothers in Arms (sample copy I think from Warner Bros, not sure), his eyes bugged as he sat there through most of the recording and said to us "I was wrong". He said when he got this sample it put him over the edge and he admitted CDs in the long run would win and so would digital as a language. "You might as well pack it in boys" was his proclamation. Now I'm going to brag and tell you I was on board with digital and CDs from the beginning but.....lets just leave that one there Wink . Let me just say that those first digital language guys were something else, hats off.

Digital and the CD (even though CDP designers didn't hit the mark always out of the gate) had companies like Magnavox and Philips who were nailing something and it turned my head every time when I played their less expensive players. It was something I heard with tape and vinyl but had this timing thing that was somehow more true. After some tuning and throwing away a ton of CDPs this, for lack of other words, truth always stuck with me. When you tune with vinyl or tape you get one pass. It may be an emotional pass hitting all the right senses if everything is just so, but for me has always been something shy from what I wanted. When I heard the CD it went past wanting and I knew I found my ultimate partner in finding every cue I searched for if I looked long enough and had patience. I'm not sure if that's appealing to the DJ listener or not, but moving from one pass listening to the endless repeat button changed me. I haven't been able to get back in to tape or vinyl with the same passion. A 20 or 30 or even 60 minute long playthrough doesn't thrill me anymore. I sit there and hear all the flaws that only repeating solves by allowing the signal to settle. Look at what I said there "signal to settle". Pass through is the only way to truly play with a full analog harmonic settling. Isn't that funny in a way, digital is the only source that we have that will play analog to it's fullest development. Chew on that for a while and feel your wheels turn.

So the Maggie may not be the end all of first pass playthroughs. It may be but isn't always the case. But for the listener, like me, who may spend hours, days or weeks on one recording the CDP is my cats meow. Not sure I would be so absolute on this if it wasn't for this little Magnavox collection of mine.

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PostSubject: Re: Which is it?   Wed Feb 21, 2018 5:36 am

next up

This next choice is completely room dependent. For ease the Combo Main/Sub system can not be beat.....unless you have a tunable room that resonates well into the low teens and does it consistently all the way up the scale. I'm sorry folks, but if you want to pull any recording off the shelf and play it to it's full range and dynamics your going to have to tune. You might fall in-love with a setup but the right (wrong) recording is going to come along and blow your system out of whack. I don't care who you are or how in-tune your system and room is, it takes one misplayed recording to change the harmonic structure of your system's setting. This can happen at any frequency and at any time. For a lot of you who think you have your system finally tuned in, this De-tuning can happen with your next storm front.

let me give you an example

Take one of your shirts and measure the length from the neck to the furthest part of the back. I'm tall so that's quite a length. Now take one hand and put it on top and one at the bottom and stretch the fabric. Get your new measurement. Now take that same shirt and throw it in the washer and run a cycle. Take the shirt out and measure it again wet. Now stretch that same part of the shirt and measure it (still wet). Let that shirt dry and repeat the cycle, measure. This time take that shirt when wet and put it in the drier. Spin dry that shirt and measure it. Now repeat the cycle and this time apply a little heat and measure. Notice through all those settings and as many times as you repeat this with different variables the shirt never measures the same. Now with this example we were talking about a simple shirt and washing machine. Do you have any idea the amount of change that happens through a storm front. Or, do you have any idea what happens from night to day and back to night? Don't kid yourself into thinking that recording sounds the same any two times you have played it. It doesn't sound the same because it isn't the same. A goofy example but every day your environment goes to sleep and wakes up again many miles away from the previous day. Not only is it traveling but it's in a constant electrical pole change.

Take a minute and read up on the movement of the Earth's poles and their polarities. Picture your poles as an electrical power strip and your system is plugged into it............see where I'm going here? study . Don't fool yourself into thinking you have finally landed as far as things sounding the same every day, and quit telling yourself all recordings have the same recorded code, just sound different Very Happy . Telling yourself "I have finally got my system the way I like it" is fools gold. Your eyes change, your body changes, your ears change and the Earth changes. My friends life changes, so why are you claiming your system sounds the same? One year your going to enjoy less highs and lows and the next you can't get enough of them, on the same recording. One year your all vinyl and the next you can't even listen to it. One day your CD sounds amazing and the next you play the same CD and you hear nothing but the highs. Folks this is our hobby, our life.

This is why this last 2 years you've seen me do the Sub Thing. I'm focusing on the Subwoofer because I want control over my crossover points and phase and volumes. I can't even imagine listening now without making a subwoofer adjustment. Now if I had a regular sub that might be different but because my Combo is more like a 3way speaker system getting to a comfort zone quickly with my CDP is far easier than rearranging my whole room.

Now I've had rooms where I didn't want a sub.....well that was just one big lie Shocked I've had rooms that played a certain recorded code, on a certain day, where I didn't want a sub. Now, if listening is my profession and I have the music on 24/7 and I think of something I want to hear out of my um-teen CDs, and I want to hear them at a particular level of performance, I have 3 choices. One pray and pretend, two expect I'm going to do some major tuning, or three I'm going to use my sub to give me the foundation so I can see where I want to go with this session. Since I have moved without my Tunable Room, I'm taking the Maggie & Rev Combo Sub system for sure.

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PostSubject: Re: Which is it?   Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:02 am

Ok I know, your all waiting for my Amp choice.

You also think this is going to be a long drawn out post where I cover many of my favorite amps. Some of you are thinking it's a sure win for an Audolici product or combo of some kind. I would say you are close to right, I should drag this out (and may) and walk you through the ins and outs of my sound and how I get where I'm going and what I need to do as far as my job goes. Before I do that though, I want to tell you something from my listening soul.

A big part of who I am and what I do, is uncovering the mask on High End Audio. Because the industry has not had the guts to teach listening methods first, so that listeners know what they are doing, the hobby has missed out on years of fun listening. The hobby has reduced the number of recordings a person can play successfully and lied about their listening claims of products. For me the main goal of a listening system is being able to pickup any artist I want and listen to their message at a reasonable performance level or my choice to where I want to stop and not where the system fails. Those who play the same 12 pieces of music their whole life that sound great on their system and hid the rest with either excuses of why it sounds bad or it's the recording itself, should and have limited their hype to less and less people, and frankly have no place in the audiophile hobby of exploring music. High End Audio is a hobby, but on many levels it is also a scam and a joke. Stock car audio and basic earphones have challenged the performance of $50,000-$1,000,000.00 systems and my heart breaks for the fooled that has been tricked into supporting the ultimate High End Hype. I am floored that some of these magazines are still promoting this presumptuous farse. And that they do so with such vigor and brainwashing that every show and every review has a new champion, making all else obsolete. They have not destroyed our hobby they have disgraced it. My friends the Audiophile community is stronger than ever but the highest of high end has been discredited. How has this fun loving hobby turned into a discussion on "dynamic range databases"? Are you kidding me. Here lets spend our every last dollar and then blame our sound on something we have absolutely no clue about, but it makes us feel better that our system...excuse my French, sucks.

I want you guys to know how proud of you and how happy for you I am, to see you guys grab ahold of your hobby and embraced your own abilities as master of your system and music. I'm not saying that all high end audio is bad, I just wonder sometimes if they are deaf to the wants and desires music lovers deserve. One of the members said to me not long ago and it rings in my ears every day "it is not the components, it's the method and tools". Yep, I want to tell you that if you have down the method of tuning you can take a $25.00 CDP and a $100.00 receiver and devastate 99% of all current high end audio products of today, at least you can with my speakers and tools.

My choice of Amp is far from the final go round of great amps. I have some amps here I am in love with all up and down the price scale, but one amp sticks out to me as being so super easy to tune and so inexpensive that I think it's a crime if you don't have one or if you haven't had a chance to use it as a reference in finding other amp choices. For this reason my amp choice is the Sherwood 4105. I know Mats just picked up the 4109 and I haven't looked closely for the differences but it looks like the basic same build. I'm looking forward to his reports and after I do some reviewing getting it back in my system for a good listen again. Maybe I will find that one of the other amps did indeed top it's performance and I need to update my results and will if it happens, but all in all this receiver has done so much to reverse the trend of listening performance at a reasonable price.

Wouldn't it be something if all of a sudden the script flipped and the hobby became real and reasonable again? Maybe the hobby just ain't getting it "we can tune now folks"!

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PostSubject: Re: Which is it?   Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:26 am



Every time I try a new piece of nicely voiced wood this image pops into my head. I don't want to spend my life changing out components. Honestly, it takes me further away from my goal not closer to it. I've tried to go back to it thinking there's something I've missed only to realize it was all in that piece of wood. I think "that whole component sound is right there in that piece of wood".

Now I look at it like finding that right little turn with that certain block I used before to get this. I carefully hold my breath and barely lift that component or part and ease that old piece out and sneak that new one in like a surgeon. Sometimes I can hear it as soon as that bottom plate of the chassis touches the wood and I'm like a little kids racing back to my chair. Or, I'll make the slight change but went too far and I'm like "oh rats, did I just do that"

But the thing is swapping components runs out of gas for me. I just like the feel of being part of the decision instead of these huge jumps. I like sometimes finding a different component for someone but honestly while I'm doing it I kinda hate to screw up my sound Laughing . Changing out components I guess just doesn't do it for me anymore.

I've been here just a short time now and getting into the groove. I was listening to this yesterday....


.....and as I was examining the patient I knew exactly the piece of wood and where I wanted to put this in the system. There was no doubt in my mind. The little piece was barely bigger than a toothpick, and as soon as I popped it in, the middle of the instruments all fell into place around 200hz and it was just heavenly. I sat there and laughed at myself thinking "there's no way on the planet I'd be able to change out a component and do what I just did". BTW the slight tweak I made was on the AP-01.

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