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 Is High End Audio A......?

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Michael Green
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PostSubject: Is High End Audio A......?   Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:15 pm



If you haven't been keeping up with my facebook page, you should.

Here's what I put up today.

"The best sounding systems in the hobby of listening are undoubtedly one source systems. Why? That's easy, because every source has a different EQ. Your turntable has a different EQ than your CDP for example. Lets say you have FM, Vinyl, R2R, CD and File. All of these have a different playback code. A lot of guys who may have had Vinyl for 40 years and then get a CDP or use Files might think that Vinyl is much better sounding source, and that may be the case (on their system's EQ setting). Same is true many times for the listener going from CD's to tape or any of these system source matchups. So, why hasn't High End Audio taught you this? Do the reviewers of High End Audio even know themselves this is the case? When High End Audio moved to "discrete" only systems and still included multiple inputs, why didn't they tell you that each of these sources were different and required different system settings to get the best performance out of each source? If you look back in playback history, you will see that the same time High End Audio went discrete only, that was also the same time High End Audio systems were no longer able to play the full music collection. Yep, the "bad recording" excuse was a scam from the beginning. Selling components replaced playback listening concepts & practices. There was no outcry for one of two reasons. Either the High End Audio money machine was in motion and the beneficiaries were somewhat predetermined, OR, reviewers and designers didn't know how playback worked. In either case, something went drastically wrong with the teaching of "playback and the audio playback system". An underground guilt memo of somekind was sent out saying "EQing is Bad". Well my friends, like it or not, EQing "IS" audio playback. You can either take the more natural approach like we do as Tunees, or you need to get your butts back in line and buy yourself an EQ. But if you have a discrete system and it is not able to play your music collection something is wrong, and or, you have been lied to. But lets be clear here, all recordings have different playback codes, all sources have different playback codes, and having a High End Audio "Discrete" system does not produce magic dust when the drivers move somehow fixing the problem between the speaker and you."
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PostSubject: Re: Is High End Audio A......?   Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:48 pm

My Facebook page has been gaining some popularity. Even folks who don't friend me have been making comments to me by PM (private message). Most of the time they let me know that they appreciate me standing up to High End Audio's "the powers that be", which to me is a "contradiction in terms". The Powers that be in High End Audio are the opposite from many other industries and I have always had an unique view into their workings. For one, I don't buy into the thought that audio reviewers are audio experts of any kind. Lets face it, buying ads pays for reviews most of the time, either by suggestion or right out negotiations. I don't think this should be a mystery to anyone nor do I think it is a bad practice if done with ethics and fairness to those who don't do ads. A reviewer should not be put on an un-due pedestal or on the same level as an audio expert. True some may be experts in certain parts of the business but most of the time in our hobby reviewers develop Ego-I-tis and God syndrome after a couple of pets from the crowd or designers. In a hobby like this one, where there is the sense of hearing involved, it's not hard to assume someone or anyone is hearing the same thing you are. It's a temptation to think that we know what the best sound is before realizing that everyone on this planet has an unique listening capability. Mix that with again EGO and you can take the hobby of playback listening and twist it into an unmanageable paradigm. That's exactly what High End Audio has done over the last 20 or so years. I'm not sure how many other designers were trying to get "them" to put on their brakes a little and spend more time in research and empirical testing, but fools rush in and what a mess that was made.

here's the mess I'm referring to

Stereo playback was (in the beginning) based on the fact that on one side you have a Recorded Code and on the other a Playback System. Each Recorded Code is and always was a unique set of frequency arrangements and values that represent the notes or effects being produced. A frequency is not a note, but is a single measurement on a scale that we call frequency response (cycles or hertz). A note is a much more complex unit involving fundamentals and harmonics (support systems) of the fundamentals. A note is so unique that every one played or created is different from any other played, even if it has close to the same value. Notes in playback go in and out of tune just like an instrument or room. In fact any where along the audio chain a note can go in or out of tune. Listen to a note inside the live recording room and replay it any where in the world and it will be different than the original note. How different depends on how each part of the audio pathway performs, or sounds, as an individual unit, through any audio signal passing conduit. The same measured note can sound literally millions of different ways. Likewise each ear/brain interpretations is different from the next. We tend to think of our playback systems as producing 20,000 measurable units but in reality a piece of music produces billions of variations as it is a continuum or Live signal.

Where High End Audio got off this huge ship is when they started preaching what is known as discrete audio. Discrete audio is based on one fixed signal path without any give or take in conduit flexibility. It attempted to remove or replace natural interactions of fields so that the signal could go from point A to point B without any influences. Nice in thought but horribly inaccurate. Because the audio signal "IS" motion as soon as a recorded language meets any part of the conduit the signal itself varies. The audio signal is a continuous variable. The entire audio chain and playback environment is a continuous variable. High End Audio can twist and turn theory as much as they want, but signals are tunable and need to be put in-tune to perform.

a major problem for High End Audio

High End Audio, as it has been designed since the late 80's is obsolete. The proof of this is seen in every High End Audio magazine or on every High End Audio forum in the world. Discrete audio systems only play "ONE" sound. They're design is Fixed to only play the audio signal one certain way. With some music this sounds great but for the rest all types of playback problems happen. Designers and reviewers started to try to explain why this was happening but the more discrete the component became the more the limitations started to appear in the playback sound stage. Terms like "Black holes" and "Revealing" and many more became band aids for part of the stereo industry that was getting further and further from playback reality. Costumers were being con to spend more money for less sound, being told their expensive system was more revealing. However not being told that they can no longer play their favorite tunes.

Listen to their argument "well my system is so revealing it won't play that bad recording". This is nothing more than the last attempt to cover up design failure. Listeners now exploring tuning are finding that these recordings were not flawed at all, but that the High End Audio systems are constricting the flow of signal. The movement away from High End Audio's high mass components is gaining momentum each day.

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PostSubject: Re: Is High End Audio A......?   Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:53 am



Have you ever wondered why High End Audio designers and reviewers frown on tone controls? Take a look around the high end audiophile componentry and count how many of these brands use tone controls and balance controls. More, look at these brands and count how many use Equalizers.

How is it that all of a sudden in the 80's equalizers got banned from High End Audio? No tone controls, no balance controls, no equalizers Hmmmmm....did High End Audio develop a secret technology that automatically matched the variable recording to the room? A magic driver, or cable, or transformer that knew how to read a recorded code and deliver it correctly, plus, be able to do this with every recorded code? That's pretty amazing that no one made an announcement about this incredible discovery. Just as amazing why do recording studios still use equalization? Fact is High End Audio hadn't explored the variable recorded codes before jumping into their new found money maker. Somebody didn't pass their basic Audio Engineering class, or at least didn't show up for lab. Now I don't know about you, but I've personally never been in a studio that doesn't use the EQ. I mean every instrument is different right? And every microphone is different, every console is different, every room is different and every recording is different, along with every ear. Do we wiggle our noses and the music plays in perfect pitch and every time?

I mean come on folks

High End Audiophiles pride themselves in their pictures of stereo systems and their price tags, but who's going to tell them that their componentry is now obsolete? Sure designers and reviewers can simply walk away leaving the listener holding the empty money bag, or, build more audio closets. Sometime though this is all going to come crashing down, and that time is near. How do I know?

7 or so years ago I took a low mass CDP and a basic stereo receiver and began to compare these two against High End Audio's (price no object) components. The empirical testing actually started in 1982, but in the last several years I've been focusing on using the Sherwood 4105 and Magnavox CDP (and others). This testing was done with my tuning methods so every component had a fair chance to compete. To make it more fair, the same testing was done around the world by others.





The testing resulted in a lot of High End Audio products going up on the used audiophile market. This $150.00 combo beat up on combos that cost as much as $45,000.00. Combos that are on Stereophile's recommended component list. Over 20 High End Audio reviewers were told about the testing, and only one was curious.

One of the DAC's selling for $9,000.00 (and on Stereophile's recommended components 2017) was embarrassed in every regard by the $29.00 CDP. Not one of their recommended components in the past 7 years (that we tried) was able to compete against these two (Sherwood and Magnavox) test components.

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PostSubject: Re: Is High End Audio A......?   Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:09 am



Back in the 1970's I became suspicious when we got a new mixer in the studio. Some of the techs couldn't wait to get their hands on it and I was excited to hear how it sounded as well. It was horrible sounding and the other guys couldn't do anything but make excuses. Finally we traded it out for something else, but not until after several clients chose to do their recordings in New York instead of Miami. Technology in music is suppose to be about playing more not less. Making excuses about why something sounds bad is only going to last as long as somebody proves you wrong. It's going to happen sooner or later as it always does but still some folks are going to try to keep that gravy train going even at the expense of your listening and their credibility.

Look at computers. We should be able to draw a healthy comparison between computer progression and audio component progression. Computers became more efficient, smaller, lighter weight and less expensive. High End Audio did the opposite. Computers are able to do more vs High End Audio Components playing less. Not just computers, but take a look at electronics in general. I would say we could make a case for High End Audio if they played more of the music and played it better sounding, but they don't. Look at my last post and look at the threads on this forum. Not just this forum, but look at audiophile forums that are not geared toward selling High End Audio. If you were a progressive person and did high end in the 1970's there's no way you would envision High End Audio looking like it does today. What other electronic venue has gone backward? More cost, bigger, and less performance. Honestly, High End Audio today looks and sounds like a more expensive heath kit of yesteryear. Maybe that's what High End Audio's intention is but if so I would make a wager that this part of the hobby has limited days left. Let's be frank, who's going to buy this stuff when they find out the "cheap" stuff has caught up and passed them up in sound? I'm sure I'm not going to be the only one calling out these folks over their questionable and fading market. Sorry but guilt buying only works on the weak minded and deaf. Electronics are more advanced now and it's time to face the facts, audio tanks are not needed for great Audiophile quality sound. Take your dampening and sand boxes out to the trash, get a modern system and learn about tuning your music. It's not hard, and a lot more fun than using a crane to change out your amp.

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PostSubject: Re: Is High End Audio A......?   Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:11 am


You know the most important part of this hobby is that it's yours. The emails, calls, posts and messages I get represent a certain crowd and if I told them they wouldn't be able to listen to their music with as much detail, space, tone and passion as they wanted, they would be disappointed in me. As a listener you have to keep in mind that this is not only a lifestyle for many of us but it also is a hobby and as with all hobbies there are those who know what they're talking about and those who are selling you. There was a time when this hobby had more music lifers than talkers, that's not the case anymore in the High End part of this hobby unfortunately. The last 30 or so years you've seen countless myths and myth makers. You've read writers who have skills in writing but not a clue about audio. Some of them, like you, are just now learning about the audio signal and how variable it is. Most of them have never taken apart a component to get to it's best core sound and then tuned it up. Most don't even understand what I just said. Some of you are so much more advanced in your hobby because you have explored beyond Plug & Play and accessories. Because you have explored, you probably have a system that is much different than the typical high end system. From what I have experienced and what I have heard from many of you (with your experience) High End Audio has hit a serious performance wall. If you read TuneLand you will see the long lists of flaws, but also see the other side of this technology, that leads to successful listening.

I think the best advice I could give you is, go to your music shop with someone and have them randomly go through the store and grab just any ole recordings from different sections. Go home and play those recordings and see if they sound (not talking about performance or taste) good or not. Listen to hear if their soundstages are big and bold or miniature. Listen to hear if the music is coming directly from the speakers or if you can shut your eyes and not point to the speakers. If I were to pick out music for you I would get some that sounded great on your system and others that sounded horrible. You would probably say those are bad recordings, but you would be wrong. The High End Audio part of this hobby has lied to you. Maybe they didn't know they were, but most of the time it's because they don't know themselves and can only pass along their experiences based on how far they have gone. I can absolutely guarantee you though, if they have taken that component out of it's box, plugged it in and given you a report, they have misrepresented the recordings they are playing. What they have done is the same as taken an acoustical guitar out of it's case and played a song without ever tuning that guitar. The other thing they have shown you is, any basic audio receiver that is played in-tune will out perform that High End Audio component on 80% of the music played. If properly tuned all the music that plays through the tuned setup will dramatically out perform the setup that is stock. The more harmonically flexible a component is the more music it will play and play more accurately. Again if your not sure of this read some of the threads here. Or, you and I can do your own testing together.

Is High End Audio A Scam?

Anyone who tells you their product is so revealing it exposes bad recordings, you can pretty much say yes you have been scammed. It's the responsibility of designers and reviewers to make and sell (recommend) components that play all recordings. Be careful because a huge part of this industry has not gotten beyond the basics and if your spending for these outrageously priced products and they can't be tuned you just lost your investment if playing music is your goal.

let me give you an example

Have you ever driven a car that performs wonderfully on the straight away but couldn't handle curves to save your life? Well that's the problem with 95% of the High End Audio components. When these components went discrete and over damped their ability to play a wide selection of music went out the window. The only thing revealing about a component or speaker that can't play all recordings is that it is out of tune.

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PostSubject: Re: Is High End Audio A......?   Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:47 am

A lot of music lovers have felt scammed for many years by the audiophile press Exclamation I like the approach that Mr. Green is taking with the Rev Combo and the rest of the Tuning tools. It's the only practical way to get to consistency in this hobby. The more hobbyist look to TuneLand the easier it will be to get the hobby back in line and moving forward.

Jim

Nice write up as usual Exclamation
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PostSubject: Re: Is High End Audio A......?   Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:33 am

Hi Jim, thanks

Sometimes I feel like I'm spanking my industry Laughing

High End Audio has done things in it's past to help the listener, but you almost have to be an active listener to find them because they spend so much time being salesmen for their advertisers instead of breaking down the hobby into a practical method (or methods) of listening. Plus some of the newer reviewers don't practice Tuning at all which makes their reviews worthless to the guy who wants to be a serious "go after the stage" type of hobbyist.

Hopefully though the day will come where the hobby will become more of a variable sport. That will change things up a lot.

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PostSubject: Re: Is High End Audio A......?   Sun Mar 25, 2018 12:24 am

The Recorded Code

I got a call from a long time audiophile and he had to admit for years he hated me. Shocked  Yikes, I don't mean to ever make folks mad. He told me he resisted tuning with every fiber of his being. Why he would hate me made more sense when he told me how much he had spent on this hobby. According to him over $500,000.00, as he threw out a lot of big names. I could hear him sighing over the phone, and then came the change in his voice "I did it". He told me about his audio melt down and that he bought the Magnavox CDP and simple (bottom of the line) Yamaha receiver and a used pair of MGA Studio 5's. He got RoomTune from Music Direct. He said it was the most painful experience until one night listening to his CDP to Christopher Cross and reality hit. He said at that point he knew there was no way around it. Since that faithful night he has been selling off his old audiophile life and using the money for recordings.

He had some choice words for some of the high end reviewers, but we mostly enjoyed talking about him rediscovering the late 70's and 80's pop music. Music that up until about a year ago he blamed recording engineers for their sound. He is very happy he hung on to his CD collection. And as for me, I think he kind of likes me now Smile

I hope you all the music happiness you deserve my new friend. Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Is High End Audio A......?   Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:41 pm

Hi Mike
A tangential, but related query. As you know, I have been setting up my listening room over the past few weeks using the RTs, XLTs and Polyester batts. Have been using CD to gauge the acoustic result and now very pleased with the result.

Over the weekend I used the turntable and whilst the reproduction was good and very musical, it did not have the clarity, dimensionality, transparency  and presence of the CDs. That was the first time I have that experience!  I sat there trying to figure out why and wondered whether I will have to adjust the room arrangements to suit use of the turntable playback ie have different room acoustic arrangements for each source?
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