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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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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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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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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Fri Sep 14, 2018 7:14 am

Neat Systems

Hi Zonees

Have a look….there is much we can learn from the pictures of these systems:



Sonic




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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Fri Oct 12, 2018 8:46 am


Greetings Zonees

Here's some Tuning done by Sonic this week.

The experiment with the Wings has helped me better understand the tuning of the corners behind the Magneplnar MG1.5Q/Rs and how different treatment such as “thud” rugs and the location of DecoTunes and RT Squares in different parts of that zone affect the sound.

With that, Sonic took down the Wings and did a set up where the DTs (formerly leaning against the wall behind the loudspakers) have now been moved to positions on the side walls ahead of the Magneplanar MG1.5Q/Rs.

Here are the pictures of where the DTs are now and a view of where they used to be:



This new placement of the DTs was determined from BOO! tests and is unrelated to first reflection points of the speakers.

Sonic found that further movement of the DTs forward towards the listen sofa improved details in the soundstage but started to overtighen the bass and started the low-end roll off I have encountered when too many room treatment devices from Michael are used.

I discovered too that the effectiveness of the DTs are greater when leaning against the wall as you see here rather than mounted in their stands.

The benefits from this latest set up is better focused images just inward of the panel positions, a little more damping of the room reverb as heard from the listening sofa and a more forward image plane ahead of the loudspeakers.

Sonic

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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:58 am

A Recent Adventure

Sonic was recently invited to visit a recording studio that is being rebuilt.  It is presently fully high-res digital as its primary capability for its rock and pop customers.  The owners are adding an analog capability with classic Studer machines, and the monitoring is done with big JBLs.  Sonic did a Boo! and handclap tests in the mixdown room and found the sound to be very tight and dry.  An “uttered Boo!” stays round my head and doesn’t sound like it is expanding into the room like a pebble tossed into a pond. Handclaps likewise are tight and dry. They “stay close”.  I wonder how music sounds in this space? Is this too dry? We could not listen to music in the space because of the rebuilding works and the monitor system was not wired up yet. However talking in that room and across the diagonal of the room with my host is easy, no need to raise voices and the articulation is clear. Even when one of us was in the Utility Room where the circuit breakers and servers were we could converse and hear each other.

It is also fascinating to see the difference in size between a 16-track Studer A80 and a digital 64-track JoeCo.



(These pictures are not of equipment in the studio I visited.)

Sonic


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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:27 am

A Tuning Variation

Sonic, after conducting some Boo! testing, has concluded that the Classic FS-DRTs from Michael Green offer more control in the mids than the later DecoTunes. As a result, I varied last week’s set up to this. See where the FS-DRTs are now ahead of the Magneplanar MG1.5Q/Rs (ref. my post last week), their locations being swapped with the FS-DRTs.



There are also a mini TuneStrips adhered near to the bottom edges of each Magneplanar around where the speaker wire terminals are located.  These face with their reflective sides outward (absorptive sides against the Magneplanar MG1.5Q/Rs).

The result is a sound that is slightly drier in the mids without affecting the highs or lows.  Sonic likes it….and I have to say that one side benefit of this Tune is now easier cleaning of the front corners of the room.

Sonic has also tried the FS-DTs with and without their wooden stands. It appears that just leaning the panels against the wall sounds a little better. I am also experimenting with the distance of the FS-DRTs from the walls and there are signs that a few inches more distance from the side walls might be beneficial for midrange smoothness and bass quality.

Sonic



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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:39 am


A Discussion with The Audio Mystic on Playback Levels

The Audio Mystic:  I think you (Sonic) and a lot of audiophiles play music too softly.  I like my music loud, to get the feel of a live sound.

Sonic: How loud is enough for you?

Mystic: Ok, we know that if a recording is mixed at one level and you play if softer than that, the balance will change and you will not be hearing the mix as intended.  There is the SMPTE standard that studios do their monitoring and this involves a 83db C weighted average level.

Sonic: That’s very loud.

Mystic: I knew you will say that.

Sonic: Your room is smaller than mine, won’t the sound be very “in your face”?

Mystic: I damp my room heavily.  My approach is to super damp the room and then reduce the damping a bit to the point where the music sounds right.  Whatever it is, my room is far more damped than yours. Although you seem to be using more damping than you used to.

Sonic: I broadly follow Michael Green’s approach.  A damped room robs the life from the music.  I say keep the room balanced acoustically with RoomTunes and Pressure Zone Controllers and use as little curtains, carpets and stay away from the foam.

Mystic: I heartily disagree! I damp till I can get average levels of about 83 dbC at my listening chair from my JBLs. Then I know I am hearing Miles Davis the way it was intended. You like the classic Absolute Sound yes? You bought up [Name of Audiofan]’s collection.  If you read carefully, HP and J W Cooledge listened at levels far higher than you.  When Ken Kessler went to listen HP’s Infinity IRS system he was warned that he might come back with jellied internal organs.  How HP and his friends are getting real music – you are getting only half the music. So much for your lip-service to King Tone.    

[Remark from Sonic: neither of us have heard each other’s system, only seen the layouts and pictures. This discussion is not adversarial. Mystic and I were having strong coffee when this conversation occurred and the caffeine buzz contributes to the fun.]

Mystic: HP has been known to blow out tweeters of smaller speakers like the Advents during testing.  How loud do you think he must be playing for this to happen?  One reviewer Patrick Donleycott said he listens at 85 dB and over.

So what levels do you set to?

Sonic: I generally listen at 70 dB C average, if want LOUD then I crank the system to about 75 - 78 dB C.

Mystic: Ha ha….you call that Loud? Thanks because in your “live” room you cannot crank your system beyond 80 dB C before your room shrieks and honks and compresses. Go home and see if you can get 83 dB C average. You will never get 95 dB peaks like I can. You can’t do it, it will blast your ears. Enjoy your coffee.

Sonic’s view…..such are friends…..look at this May 2014 Sound on Sound article in particular the charts to calculate the optimum reference level for your room:  


https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/establishing-project-studio-reference-monitoring-levels

The writer Hugh Robjohns makes this point:

“This 83dB SPL reference level (with 103dB peaks) is perfectly acceptable if you're listening in a big space, like a cinema or a film dubbing theatre, or even a very large and well treated commercial studio control room. Unfortunately, it will be completely overwhelming in a smaller space, because the listener is inevitably sitting much closer to both the speakers and the room boundaries. The very different nature of early reflections makes the level seem, psychoacoustically, much higher than it would be in a larger room.

Consequently, the optimum reference level for smaller rooms needs to be lower, on a scale which is dependent on the enclosed volume of the room in question. You can work out the volume of a room simply by multiplying together its length, width and height, of course, so a home studio which is four metres wide, six metres long and 2.5 metres high has a volume of 60m³. If you prefer to work in imperial measurements, the example above would be roughly 13 x 19.5 x 8 feet, and 2028 cubic feet in volume.

The recommended reference monitor SPLs for different room sizes are shown in the Room Size vs Reference Level Table.

For the example room cited above, this table suggests the ideal monitor calibration level is 76dB SPL.”


Sonic’s room is about 2,900 cubic feet and the recommended level from the chart is also 76 db C.

Interesting how my “Tune instinct” level for “loud” listening corresponds to this.

Am I losing the balance of the records in my music collection? Definitely not if I am listening to near the 76 dB C reference level.  Does it worry me that my room system cannot allow 85 db C average levels due to acoustic compression (I tried and it can’t)?  Yes it troubles me a little perhaps knowing that my system has a weakness but should it be a problem if I am getting all the music at a lower and hearing-friendly level?

From this I can understand that “The very different nature of early reflections makes the level seem, psychoacoustically, much higher than it would be in a larger room” makes a specific measured level for home listens less important as long as we can achieve high levels psychoacoustically – meaning, in a Tuned room you can play Deep Purple at what is subjectively 100 db when in the room, it might be 80 db.

Good enough for Sonic.  

Sonic

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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:18 am

….And More Tuning

After the Tuning Variation that you read about on October 19, 2018, Sonic listened as settling progressed and I took stock.

In short, very nice.  The fly in the ointment is a narrow band lower treble emphasis (or a time smear) that without some records makes violins playing in that range feel edgy. It can on occasion mask details and Tone so that the unique texture of massed violins are confused….into mellotrons!

Sonic tried an experiment where I put wood spacers (half-inch) behind the DecoTunes on my side walls:



This picture just shows which pair DTs were Tuned (only one shown, but Michael and Zonees know which DTs Sonic is referring to), not the spacers.

I thought the air-gap will improve the treble control.  It worsened the glare and the remounting of the DTs against the wall improved the Tone again.

Now Sonic has noticed that lower down in my room, things like FS-DTs, FS-DRT and FS-PZCs want space behind them to give their control.  But it was beginning to appear that higher up the walls, the same principle did not apply.  I tried the spacers with some of the DTs on the front wall, turned reflective sides out.  Awful….RING-g-g-g, Boo! going out of control. See the mid-height DTs – they are what Sonic is referring to:



Sonic wondered , “what might I do to kill off that glare using what has been experienced here?”

“Aha!” thought Sonic, “the solution might be to mount the EchoTunes that are mounted round the top of my room flat against the walls.”



Here you see the ETs that are mounted presently at an angle across the ceiling/wall corner.

Sonic got this idea from what Michael and some Zonees have done in their rooms.  



So I tried this:



Promising indeed! The upper treble is smoothening out while there is no loss of control in the bass. With a few hours of settling the glare is tamed and the headroom of the listening space increasing slightly.

This followed logically:



The sound got even better! The further reduced glare and smear is allowing more treble details through. I get better inter-music silences/signal to noise.

The angled ETs across the side ceiling/wall right-angles was a detour, a mistake.

Now the rear wall – here an angled ET works. Sonic listened and realized that I had to retain the present angled set up over the air conditioner. Any removal or change of this ET placement caused some return of the glare with a thinning of the bass:



Then I adjusted the ET at the front wall mounting it flat. Within a day or some of settling, the glare increased. So it was returned to its original setting as in this picture:  



So with the side wall ETs mounted flat, the glare is now remedied sufficiently that Sonic can hear in my system some of the smoothness of certain British monitor speakers that I like.  The ETs  on the front and rear walls needed to be set at an angle for best glare reduction and the most bass.

This Tuning experiment shows how a recommendation from Michael’s angled ET tune can work well in one zone yet not be right in another zone even in the same room.  Room treatment utilizing any approach is always an installation-specific thing.  

Tuning -- Never One Size Fits All.  

Sonic  

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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:11 am



Tuning on a Roll….(or just another tuna roll?)

After the Tunes that Sonic reported doing a week ago in this thread (November 2), more progress has been made in this week. I think one of the Tunes done is significant both as a discovery and in its effect.

Finding that angling the EchoTunes at the front wall kept the upper midrange/lower treble glare in check, Sonic added two more to the upper front wall at the ¼ and ¾ width points both angled against the wall.

[Pix ETs goeth here]

It sounds good, much reduced midrange glare.

Then as I was looking at the front wall, an idea came to Sonic!

For years, I always tried keeping the cluster of FS-PZCs away from the front wall, as far away as possible, maintaining as much as space behind the three Michael Green PZCs. The advice and examples I got from this Forum is that FS-PZCs have effect at creating 3D images in the central soundstage when they are pulled out into the room.

Doing this, the effect has been satisfactory to Sonic’s ears and the PZCs do their work.

My question this time is “this room behaves in odd ways….what if I did the opposite and brought the three FS-PZCs right up to the wall instead?”

I kept the existing \ _ / arrangement but pushed the three FS-PZCs right up to the wall. The centre FS-PZC is about xx” from the wall and the two flanking FS-PZCs have a corner touching the wall.

[Pix PZCs goeth here]

The FS-PZCs close to the wall made a surprisingly large change. Larger than anything I have done for some time.  This is not a small improvement like climbing up a staircase one step up. This is a jump up to another floor entirely.

Very quickly, the music started to fill the room ahead of the speaker plane, the girth and low-end impact got stronger. The room is more “acoustically smear-free” which results in micro-details and “hidden recordings” being now noticed. Remember Zonees that an increase in audible ambience and low-level details is not always a good thing, it can be due to dynamic compression – yet definitely not in this case. The sound for a given preamp setting appears to be softer but when the loud bits of the music come, the louds are LOUDER (a sign of improved dynamic range performance of the system).  Sonic is finding that because there is less room compression that the Parasound A21 amplifier seems to be coming to life, all 400 W (into 4 ohms) of it.

With this improvement, assuming it stays or improves over the next week, Sonic has one more Tuning Action that now should be done – that is, to have my system and room response measured by a properly qualified acoustics consultancy using the appropriate measurement devices and analytical tools.

Sonic


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PostSubject: Re: Audio Adventures   Today at 8:17 am



Measurements –1

Sonic hired a well-respected and suitably qualified acoustics consultant, known for their work in design and treatment of professional studios and home theatre spaces, to test my equipment and room.

Before the tests were actually done, we looked at the room dimensions using their app to see if the speaker positions and listen seat placement were correct for the room.  Of course the system offered a few possibilities but we could see that my Magneplanar MG1.5Q/Rs were in about the best positions for the room. The location was spot on.   Sonic’s listening seat was however rather too far forward by about two feet but the testers noted that the Bookcase Wall will make that calculation of the theoretical listening spot invalid.

These tests were then carried out:

a.          individual loudspeaker near-field impulse and sweeps to determine frequency response. We tested at my normal listening listening levels of 72 dB C, at the 76 db C average level indicated for my room size (see my post on this thread of October 26) and at over 80 dB C.

b.          loudspeaker phase angle and impedance.

c.          frequency and impulse response at my listening seat and alternate locations. Waterfall plots and RT60 measurements were also done at the listening spot and two other locations to indicate the acoustic response of this room.  This will be of interest to friends at Tuneland as we are taking on a non-subjective measure of the effectiveness of Michael Green’s tuning devices working in combination with my sofa, tapestries, thud rugs plus the hard walls, doors and so on.

Audiophiles are primarily subjectively driven --  we hear talk for example “the midrange sounded so smooth on my favourite music after I put up the (brand of/type of) treatments”.  Now we will see if the treatments worked and what their effects are in terms of amplitude and decay time.  

d.          subjective hearing sensitivity test, where I matched tone against my hearing sensitivity which gives and indication of what shape of frequency response envelop the listener likes/responds subjectively well to.

The data, acoustician’s commentary and recommendations will be in Sonic’s hands (actually on my screen) next week.  

The hearing sensitivity/preference test shows that Sonic actually likes a Gundry Dip (the sound of BBC monitors that were supposed to have a small dip in the 1 – 4 khz range engineered in).  I appear to like a sound that has a gentle, easy on the ears midrange and lower treble along with a rather too warm, slightly boosted bass all the way down into the lowest bass. It is possible that listening paradise for Sonic might be large BBC monitors placed near the corners of the room. In short, modern hi-tech speaker with their “forward, analytical balance” is out for me. The hard truth is that Magneplanars might be a marginal “fit” for me. Sonic’s preference to go in the direction of the BBC monitor sound from the Stirling LS3/6s, Harbeth Monitor 40.2s maybe the Quad ESLs 57 and 63...how about Altec Valencias….!?  

In my post-test discussion, the Consultant agreed with my self-assessment – “OK, since you asked……yes, you are a classical music bass-head!”

Hearing Tested Too

The other thing the hearing sensitivity test and another related hearing test done recently reveals that Sonic is over-sensitive in the midrange/treble up to 8 khz which appear to me to be subjectively to be louder than the 1 khz reference. Higher up there is a notch in hearing around 10 khz but satisfactory audibility against the 1 khz reference level returns at 12 khz and I can hear tones up to 15 khz – down in level against the reference but still audible.  

When the full results and discussion/observations are received, Sonic will describe the findings here.

Sonic


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