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Sonic Voyager



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Join date : 2018-05-25

PostSubject: Audio Adventures   Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:32 pm



An Experiment in FLAC to WAV Conversion

Sonic read an article in a recent Hifi News and Record Review that you can, in Foobar2K, convert a FLAC file to WAV and then play it back. There are reportedly significant improvements in sound quality.

You can do it too. It is easy -- right-click the album you want in Foobar2K, select Convert from the dropdown table and follow the steps till you save the WAV file in some place convenient and play it in Foobar2K. The conversion itself takes a couple of minutes.

Sonic’s first WAV conversion was of Brahms sonatas for viola, cello and piano. Then some early Bee Gees.

The initial impression was there was no difference in Tonal Balance but the images and detail in WAV was a little more dimensional, closer to what I hear from vinyl at its best.

While Sonic cannot say anything definite from listening to two CDs but at this stage, I can say the difference was hardly “night and day” on swapping back and forth – yet there is something that makes the music with WAV more relaxing, a little more real.

I might experiment further.

A Tale of System Individuality

Tunees will discern from earlier tuning adventures that I prefer wood from Mr Green under my equipment, having moved away from the metal cones of the MTDs and the AAB1x1/Deep Bells, not to mention the many failed attempts with Space Cones which caused an upward shift in tone and thinness with settling.

Yet in a different system, the results using these devices worked “as advertised”.

Sonic has an audiophile friend who owns a system more advanced than mine. Serious amplification from Audio Research and a high-tech loudspeaker of a similar size and price range of the Harbeth 30.1s set up in a dedicated listening room that is mostly drywall with a carpeted concrete floor.

As we talked about my system’s successes and failures he asked Sonic “let me try those cones that didn’t work in your system”. So I handed over my bag of Space Cones and the AAB1x1/Deep Bells.

A few days later, he calls and says that with the Deep Bell AAB1x1 under his amps and the Space Cones about his system, the music now "sounds amazing…those things from Green have finally removed a treble roughness I been working to cure for a long time and just using those cones and it is gone….my system is exactly what I want it to be!”

So what did not work in my set up were the very things that perfected someone else’s system and created one more happy, though an indirect, customer of RoomTunes.

I guess this is a bit of a coda on my Space Cones episode.

Any comments on this, Michael?

Sonic

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Sonic Voyager



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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:45 am


Greetings Zonees

This is picture has a very Japanese-hifi feel does it not?



That’s an EMT being cued….and look at the happy audio clutter round about.

Sonic


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Michael Green
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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:28 pm

from Sonic
___________________________________________________________
Tunees will discern from earlier tuning adventures that I prefer wood from Mr Green under my equipment, having moved away from the metal cones of the MTDs and the AAB1x1/Deep Bells, not to mention the many failed attempts with Space Cones which caused an upward shift in tone and thinness with settling.

Yet in a different system, the results using these devices worked “as advertised”.

Sonic has an audiophile friend who owns a system more advanced than mine. Serious amplification from Audio Research and a high-tech loudspeaker of a similar size and price range of the Harbeth 30.1s set up in a dedicated listening room that is mostly drywall with a carpeted concrete floor.

As we talked about my system’s successes and failures he asked Sonic “let me try those cones that didn’t work in your system”. So I handed over my bag of Space Cones and the AAB1x1/Deep Bells.

A few days later, he calls and says that with the Deep Bell AAB1x1 under his amps and the Space Cones about his system, the music now "sounds amazing…those things from Green have finally removed a treble roughness I been working to cure for a long time and just using those cones and it is gone….my system is exactly what I want it to be!”

So what did not work in my set up were the very things that perfected someone else’s system and created one more happy, though an indirect, customer of RoomTunes.

I guess this is a bit of a coda on my Space Cones episode.

Any comments on this, Michael?
__________________________________________________________________________

mg

There are so many variables in audio that I try to make products that fit each situation. It's for sure not a one size fits all hobby. When I design I create different environments with different recordings and different setups. I've been doing this type of listening since the 70's and have always found it interesting that there always seems to be a sound or a structure that is different based on a particular setting than the rest. Our homes and listening environments are units of physical and energy uniqueness. Before doing home audio I found the same thing to be true in recording studios. That's why I spent most of my time playing in the studios when they were not in sessions, with maybe one or two music buddies and me.

I've always been attracted to sound, feeling and Vibe. That may sound weird if you are trying to do this hobby by using "Fixed" values, but if you see audio as a variable on a constantly energized planet, with all things being unique, we start to see something that is quite different from squares trying to fit in square holes. What we start to see when we tune is a continuum of flow instead of seconds ticking like on a watch. Energy is not measurement it's motion. We can't take a measurement at your place and transfer it to your friends house. What we can do is play with the physics at both locations and see how we can get those physics to do what we want.

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Sonic Voyager



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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:49 am



Yes Michael -- the art of the Tune is very system and room environment specific I have discovered.

In my case, your Low Tone Redwood blocks used under nearly all equipment were the cure for the upward shift problems though not everywhere. In some specific spots like under two FS-PZCs in my room only AAB1x1 cones work and under the FS-DRTs sitting on Brazilian Pine boards with no cones created the Total Tone that Sonic is working for. Anything else and the bass gets excessive and muddy or we go back to midrange glare.

Sonic

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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:30 am



In Conversation with the Audio Mystic: The Tone of Things and Might This Be How Mr Green Tunes Systems?

Sonic had listening time with my friend the Audio Mystic and during a session of tea and cakes we discussed and concluded a few things that Sonic would like to bring up here to see what Michael and other Tunees think:

a.            everything you have in your room – carpets, metal objects, vases, curios, curtains, furniture – even if they are not in the hifi music reproduction chain affect the sound.  If the sound waves produced by your system contacts these objects, there will be an effect.

b.            treat your audio system as an “epicenter” with concentric rings of reducing influence encircling it. These concentric rings do not stop at the walls of your room (except for the sound waves). Electrically and electromagnetically your fridge, the computers, TV sets in the adjoining rooms, adjoining apartments have influence roughly but not always diminishing with distance. Someone said you hear the whole neighbourhood in your audio system.  

c.            anything you place on, below or within your audio devices will have a strong influence on the sound and this influence is directly related to the materials the objects are made of.  

Cones and supports of various types of metals will sound like the metals they are made of – brass, steel etc.  Materials like carbon fibre can have a sterile, damped sound. Glass always sounds glassy, synthetic materials like corian and ceramic have their sound, slate and stone slabs can sound ringy and hard. Rubber, plastic and elastomer things create a dead, inner-opaque sound.

The reason why there always audiophiles who swear by each of these materials is possibly a matter of their “starting points”.  A bright, hard sounding system may benefit from the dulling effect of elastomer feet, a bass heavy system might gain some balance with the use of glass.  It goes on.

d.            each wood type have distinct signatures depending on their species.  Sonic adds that you should ignore the charts that tell you bass wood sounds more midrangey than mahogany and so on. A significant change can come from what the wood grain is and where is it cut from the log.  For instance Sonic observed that the Brazilian Pine used in Michael’s Cable Grounds sound different from the Brazilian Pine shelves in my system.  When I asked, Michael told me that these were cut from a different part of the tree and therefore sounded different.

e.            Sonic remarked that each material used to influence the sound of our systems will have a primary and secondary effect.  Let’s think about glass. The primary effect is an illumination of the upper midrange and treble.  The secondary effects usually become obvious after settling.  In Sonic’s experience, the secondary effect of glass is an inner ringing where the instrumental sustain and ambient effects are abnormally sustained therefore blurred (which might reflect my starting point).
 
f.            in the tuning adventures when Sonic was “beavering”, I got a sound most pleasing when nearly all metal supports (MTDs, Harmonic Feet, AAB1x1s) were swapped for Michael’s Low Tone Redwood blocks, Brazilian Pine boards or  Magic Wood (a Basswood variant).  There are now only AAB1x1s cones under two FS-PZCs and in time these might be substituted with wood contact.    

g.            I told the Audio Mystic about RoomTunes and why Sonic is in awe of Michael Green: “When Michael Green was demonstrating the power of the Tune to an audio writer (Positive Feedback magazine), he asked if the writer would like to hear Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” with more or less cymbals?  The audio writer asked for less.  Mr Green goes to the Tune Rack adjusts one bolt under the shelf supporting the CD player by 1/16 turn and the cymbals disappeared!  And when asked by the audio writer “bring them back!”, a slight turn of the bolt and the cymbals were heard again.  

Sonic:       “You know Michael had dozens of tuning bolts and adjustable supports in that room – the rack, the speakers, the walls, the PZCs, wall tuners, adjustable shutters, a Tunable Wall (SAM) behind the listening chair not to mention about 100 tunable points in the joists under his floor.  How would Michael know which bolt to tighten or loosen but he did?”

Mystic:       “You show your shallow knowledge with this question   Exclamation  Embarassed .  I think I know what Michael Green is doing, it is perfectly reasonable and there is no magic involved.  You (Sonic) know I use my specially selected wood slices under my equipment and all around my room to create quantum effects and modify the sound of my system (he has JBLs).  What I do is this: I do what I call the “General System Modification Setting” with my wood slices.  Then as I set up my room or any room, I will find one or maybe two spots that stand out as more sensitive to adjustment.  And it is only these I touch when doing “Specific” sound modification to take into account different recordings or equipment I am evaluating."

"Remember when you saw me adjust the sound of (my) system?  You heard some changes right?  How many spots did I add or move wood  from – it was just one spot right?  I know my system well and that is the place I know where the changes can be made.”

“While I don’t know Michael Green’s system, I won’t be surprised that for that set up, he was such a good listener and experienced Tuner that he had chosen ONE  “pressure spot” to tune and get the tonal and soundstaging effects he demonstrated.”

“I am sure neither Green or your RoomTune friends go about adjusting every cone, wood block or Tuning object in sequence or randomly just to get an effect.  Our lives are too short for stuff like this! Let me ask -- if you hear a dull recording and want to fix it, where do you go?”

Sonic:   “I go for the JVC Nivico SEA-10 Equaliser.”

Mystic:   “and anything else?”

Sonic:    “if I want a tighter center image at expense of width, I might tighten up the bolts of the PZCs, and if I want a super-warm presentation it will be (Low Tone Redwood) blocks on the DAC and its power supply.”

Mystic:   “See, that is the idea   Exclamation  I am sure Michael Green and your friends have found their selected (tuning) points on their equipment racks or somewhere and they only tweak these to make the changes they are looking for….”.

“Is not that complicated is it, Sonic?”

Michael, is this a correct observation?  

Sonic


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Sonic Voyager



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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:36 am

Greetings Zonees

Sonic has been looking at the pictoral records of the European Triode Festival.

I found this picture of an ingenious idea from Thomas Schick's blog (from ETF2006).



Have a look Very Happy

Sonic


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Michael Green
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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:34 am

"Remember when you saw me adjust the sound of (my) system? You heard some changes right? How many spots did I add or move wood from – it was just one spot right? I know my system well and that is the place I know where the changes can be made.”

“While I don’t know Michael Green’s system, I won’t be surprised that for that set up, he was such a good listener and experienced Tuner that he had chosen ONE “pressure spot” to tune and get the tonal and soundstaging effects he demonstrated.”

“I am sure neither Green or your RoomTune friends go about adjusting every cone, wood block or Tuning object in sequence or randomly just to get an effect. Our lives are too short for stuff like this! Let me ask -- if you hear a dull recording and want to fix it, where do you go?”

Sonic: “I go for the JVC Nivico SEA-10 Equaliser.”

Mystic: “and anything else?”

Sonic: “if I want a tighter center image at expense of width, I might tighten up the bolts of the PZCs, and if I want a super-warm presentation it will be (Low Tone Redwood) blocks on the DAC and its power supply.”

Mystic: “See, that is the idea Exclamation I am sure Michael Green and your friends have found their selected (tuning) points on their equipment racks or somewhere and they only tweak these to make the changes they are looking for….”.

“Is not that complicated is it, Sonic?”

Michael, is this a correct observation?
_____________________________________________________________________________

Our system environment is a playground of energies in a continuum of action. Every time we go looking for an adjuster we can find one that is so powerful it can change the sound of the entire space. They're everywhere and all around us. It's fun to get to a place with our system where we can touch that one domino and listen to the whole chain go into motion, one move affecting the next. That's the first part of the fun and then there's the event of settling, my personal favorite. Hearing and feeling that adjustment we made mature. That's a thrilling ride!

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Sonic Voyager



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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:02 am


Greetings Tunees

Shall we start with some audio clutter Question



With lots of listening taking place this week, Sonic also tried to analyse my sound and describe it for Tunees.

It is a “vintage” sound, warm in the low end, extended but not really tight/punchy bass.  The treble is smooth and maybe slightly tilted down and an unaggressive midrange. There is a big soundstage.  This is a sound that is pleasant to listen to  Smile  and at the opposite pole of the modern and fast sound that you hear in the High End audio salons today. In short, the sound of my room/system would a mix of the tone of the old British monitors with the speed and BIG soundstage of Magneplanars.

The present crop of hi-tech loudspeakers can be best characterized as Bright, Analytical and voiced to sound “Exciting” and “Impactful”. It’s a “modern sound” that I keep hearing over and over especially from brands whose names rhyme with Focus and Magic. This sound is in the opposite of direction of what I hear from speakers by Harbeth and Audio Note.

The Cause: I wonder if a new generation of consumers has come to have different expectations of sound – expecting slam, impact, super pin-point imaging etc.  From women I talk to – whose ears have possibly more treble extension of men in any age cohort – this “new” sound is overly bright and aggressive, usually played too loud. One audiophile said to Sonic, “when I listen, I want slam like a live performance so I play loud.  When my wife is in the room, I turn the volume down to suit her.  It will be about where you play your stuff.”  Are male audiophiles’ taste different from females, are men getting hearing loss early and the designers (mostly men) designing products that tonally compensate for their own creeping hearing impairment?

Other pieces of evidence Sonic has of audiophiles’ playback levels are: in one review in Positive Feedback, the writer referred to an equipment test where a tympani shot from Holst’s Planets was 102dB.  Another case was reviewers from Abso!ute Sound mentioning that their tests blew out a speakers’ fuse or the tweeter.  Now how loud do you have to play to do that? Think about it…..

Update on My System: it is almost completely the same set up as it was when the “beavering” stopped in end-May.  

The only difference is there are more Cable Grounds are now being used.  Sonic reintroduced some Series 1 Michael Green Cable Grounds made of hemlock MDF (the same material as Mr Green’s first generation grey-coloured Clamp Racks.  They work well supporting the interconnects.  Sonic uses the new generation Cable Grounds (Brazilian Pine) for the speaker cables, the older Cable Grounds (hemlock) for interconnects while the power cables lie on the floor/carpets.

I recently added more Cable Grounds to support the speaker cables – one more per side making a total of four per channel.  This helped tighten the bass a little, gives more snap to snare drums and a little more drive to the sound.  

Here is a picture of the two generations of the Cable Ground products from Michael:

 

Sonic

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Sonic Voyager



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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:18 am



Greetings Zonees

Here is an article explaining what Upsampling is and how it differs from Oversampling (but remember this article promotes a product so keep that in mind):


To upsample or not to upsample; that is the question.

Source: http://bitperfectsound.blogspot.com/2013/11/upsample.html

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Back in late March, I posted some introductory comments here regarding how DACs actually function.  Anyway, following my recent posts on Sample Rate I thought it might be apropos to revisit that subject.

Today’s DACs, with a few very rare (and expensive) exceptions, all use a process called Sigma Delta Modulation (SDM, sometimes also written DSM) to generate their output signal.  A nice way to look at SDM DACs is to visualize them as upsampling their output to a massively high frequency - sometimes 64, 128 or 256 times 44.1kHz, but often higher than that - and taking advantage of the ability to use a very benign analog filter at the output.  That is a gross over-simplification, but for the purposes of the point I am trying to make today, it is good enough.

Doing such high-order up-conversion utilizes a great deal of processing power, and providing that processing power adds cost.  Additionally, the manufacturers of the most commonly used DAC chipsets are very coy about their internal architectures, and don’t disclose the most significant details behind their approaches.  I would go so far as to say that some DAC manufacturers actually misunderstand how the DAC chipsets which they buy actually work, and publish misleading information (I have to assume this is not done intentionally) about how their product functions.  Much of this centres around cavalier usage of the terms ‘upsampling’ and ‘oversampling’.  Finally, some DAC manufacturers use DAC chipsets with prodigious on-chip DSP capability (such as the mighty ESS Sabre 9018), and then fail to make full use of it in their implementations.

Let’s study a hypothetical example.  We’ll take a 44.1kHz audio stream that our DAC chip needs to upsample by a factor of 64 to 2.88MHz, before passing it through its SDM.  The best way to do this would be using a no-holds-barred high-performance sample rate converter.  However, there are some quite simple alternatives, the simplest of which would be to just repeat each of the original 44.1kHz samples 64 times until the next sample comes along.  What this does is to encode the “stairstep” representation of digital audio we often have in mind, in fine detail.  This is acceptable, because, in truth, the 44.1kHz audio steam does not contain one jot of additional information.  Personally, I would refer to this as oversampling rather than upsampling, but you cannot rely on DAC manufacturers doing likewise.

If we are going to use this approach, though, it leads us down a certain path.  It results in the accurate recreation of the stairstep waveform at the output of the DAC.  Even though we have oversampled by a factor of 64 in our SDM process, the output of our DAC has been a faithful reproduction of a 44.1kHz sampled waveform.  This waveform, therefore needs to go through an analog brick-wall filter to strip out the aliases which are embedded within the stairstep.  This is exactly as we discussed in my last post on Sample Rates.

In principle, therefore, by upsampling (using proper Sample Rate Conversion) our 44.1kHz audio by a factor of 2 or 4 prior to sending it to the DAC, we can avail ourselves of the possibility that the DAC can instead implement a less aggressive, and better-sounding, brick-wall filter at its output.  That would be nice.  But that is not the way many (and maybe even most) DACs that use this approach are built.  Instead, they use the same analog brick-wall filter at high sample rates as they do at 44.1kHz (because switching analog filters in and out makes for complicated - read expensive - circuitry).  If your DAC does this you would not expect to hear anything at all in the way of sonic improvement by asking BitPerfect (or whatever other audio software you use) to upsample for you.

So let’s go back a couple of paragraphs, and instead of our DAC oversampling the incoming 44.1kHz waveform, suppose it actually upsamples it using a high quality SRC algorithm.  Bear in mind that all of the audio content up to 20kHz in a 44.1kHz audio stream is aliased within the frequency band from 24.1kHz to 44.1kHz.  If we are to upsample this, we should really strip the aliases out using a digital brick-wall filter.  Done this way, the result is a clean signal that we can pass into the SDM, and which is precisely regenerated, without the stairstep, at the DAC’s output.  So we no longer need that aggressive, sonically worrisome, analog brick-wall filter.

Let’s take another look at these last two scenarios.  One had an aggressive analog brick-wall filter at the output, but the other had essentially the same brick-wall filter implemented digitally at an intermediate processing stage.  If the two sound at all different, it can only be because the two filters sounded different.  Is this possible?  In fact, yes it is, and there are two reasons for that.  The first, as I mentioned in a previous post, is that an analog filter has sonic characteristics which derive from both its design, and from the sonic characteristics of the components with which it is constructed.  The digital equivalent - IF (a big IF) properly implemented - only has sonic consequences arising from its design.  There is a further point, which is that digital filters can be designed to have certain characteristics which their analog counterparts cannot, but that fact serves only as a distraction here.  The bottom line here is that, if properly designed, a diligent DAC designer ought to be able to achieve better sound with this ‘upsampling’ approach than with the previously discussed ‘oversampling’ approach (again, I must emphasize this is MY usage of those terminologies, and is not necessarily everybody else’s).

Using the ‘upsampling’ approach I have just described, it should once again make little difference whether you send your music to the DAC at its native sample rate, or if you upsample it first using BitPerfect (or whatever).  However, all this assumes that the upsampling algorithm used by the DAC is at least as good as the one used by BitPerfect.  There is no guarantee that this will be so, in which case you may find that you get improved results by using BitPerfect to upsample for you to the maximum supported by your DAC.  And you should use one of the SoX upsampling algorithms provided by BitPerfect, rather than CoreAudio.

The bottom line here is that you should expect your DAC to sound better (or at least as good) with your music sent to it at its native sample rate than with it upsampled by BitPerfect.  And if it doesn’t, the difference is probably down to BitPerfect’s upsampling algorithm sounding better than the one implemented in your DAC’s DSP firmware.

So, in summary, in light of all the above, our recommendation here at BitPerfect is that you do NOT use BitPerfect to upsample for you, unless you have conducted some extensive listening tests and determined that upsampling sounds better in your system.  These tests should include serious auditioning of BitPerfect’s three SoX algorithms.

Posted by Richard @ BitPerfect at 12:23 pm


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Sonic Voyager



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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:13 am

About the Quality of Analog Tape Hiss

Sonic likes collecting and reading old audio magazines.  Very informative as I can see how the state of the art has advanced, what the debates were then and now, and where prognostications were correct or wrong. Sometimes you find observations that are real gems.

Reading Positive Feedback’s Spring 2000 issue (that’s 18 years ago), the writers were extolling how DSD/SACD will take over the music world, how this format as Editor Dave Robinson said will “....give us ‘mic feeds and master tapes for the masses.’”

In an article by Jennifer W Crock “Highly Biased Output…..A Little Bit on SACD”, within this same Positive Feedback issue, she makes this observation of listening to SACDs:

“…..I was even SHOCKED to hear tape hiss on gthe analog sourced re-masters that actually sounded olike RAL tape hiss.  

“You might think you know what I am talking about, but unless you have lived with really good analog tape recording and done live recording you haven’t a clue. You see, the tape hiss has a tonal character and a spatial character. On a master tape, it ‘floats’ like a translucent veil, and is separate from the music, never attached to the notes or voices.  One easily listens ‘around’ or ‘through’ the veil of quite hiss, and easily tosses it into non-perception. Duplication of a master tape destroys this separateness of the hiss, and attaches it to the sounds and sonic images, making itself heard and hard to ignore.  Worse yet, make a PCM digital copy and the tonal character of the hiss changes and becomes downright irritating, With SACD, the hiss from the analog masters retained its proper tonal character and it did the heretofore impossible: it stayed in its veil, unattached to the music….”  


Putting aside how right or wrong Robinson, Crock and co.  were about the superiority of DSD and the conquest achieved by SACD, Sonic knows what she said about the tape hiss phenomenon – I hear a version of this with my 78 rpm playback. With the right cartridge and Tuning the noise from the 78 rpm records separate from the music.  This “separating” did not occur with the Shure M78 cartridge but it does on the Stanton 500 v3 along with Tuning of the turntable being used – removing excess mass, Low Tone Redwood, the right mat and set up including VTA – playing into my somewhat Tuned system/room (compared to the luminaries of the Tune like tjbhuler, Hiend001, Drewster and others, it will be presumptuous if Sonic referred to my system as “Tuned”).

As for tape, it is not something I want to get into.  Of all the music formats, it is the most expensive, both in hardware, software and in maintenance terms.  The machines are expensive and are as good as how they are restored or maintained.  Then the tapes – they will never be master tapes but copies of copies of copies so the hiss will be “bundled in" with the sound.

Yet tape holds a fascination for many.  Here’s a charming picture from Japan:



Source: Yokota Air Base    

Sonic

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