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LFD LE Mark IV

 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1346
Registered: May-05
Hello All,

My Wyred 4 Sound has been around for 2 1/2 years and I still enjoy the sound and the power. But, I remember Art's high praise for the LFD and Soneteer amps. I keep dreaming about one of the LFD amps that I've read about and finally got to hear the LFD Mark III while in Arizona. It sounded great but it is so hard to judge what an amp is doing in someone else's system.

So, I made the mistake of checking AudiogoN the other day and a dealer in Texas was selling his LFD LE Mark IV demo. After begging the wife and explaining that I would either keep it and sell the Wyred 4 Sound, a difference of less than a $1000, or if it didn't improve the sound, I'd just resell it for a breakeven or slight loss. It took more than begging, just so you know.

But, I bought the LFD LE Mark IV yesterday, which is shipping in a week. I won't be able to A - B them exactly because I can't run two sets of speaker wires and connections off either amp to my speakers but I can spend a bunch of time with them both and make some critical listening decisions. More to come. . .
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3135
Registered: Oct-07
Given the similarites between W4S and PSAudio, no matter how much Wyred tries to distinguish itself from its 'near clone', I can understand simply getting tired of the amp. It took me somewhat longer, though I had been listening less and less for the last couple years.

The Parasound would be a GREAT way to go. Depending on speaker sensitivity, needs, and ROOM size, you may get away with a single A23 or the 2x the power A21. A friend here in SanDiego has the JC-1 monoblocs for sale, if you are interested. They are heavily biased to class 'a', generate some heat as a result but are beyond stable, generate huge power reserves and simply sound GREAT.

Please keep the board informed of what you find to be the +'s and -'s of each setup. We can compare notes off line if you choose.

�..cheers�...
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 16519
Registered: Feb-05
Let us know how you fare with the LFD. I love them with Harbeth but less so with Spendor (A series like my A6R, not the Classic series).
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1348
Registered: May-05
Well, the stork has left the nest, by way of Fed-Ex, and the new addition is set to arrive on Thursday, which gives me an evening to get everything set up and a weekend to see whether nirvana has arrived or just a large birthing bill.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1349
Registered: May-05
What the hell is with FedEx. Our delivery guy never shows up at our house before 5 p.m. BUT TODAY, he shows up at 10:30 a.m. while I'm at work so no amp until tomorrow at the earliest. This is the same jackass that screwed up my speaker delivery, taking almost 8 days to get it delivered from the time it allegedly arrived in Spokane. I wish they would just hold it at their facility and let me pick stuff up so I don'thave to deal with these morons.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1350
Registered: May-05
Well, I picked up the LFD yesterday, brought it home, unboxed it from its nice double boxes, took one last listen to the Wyred 4 Sound, turned off the power at my power conditioner and switched out the two integrateds. After hooking up the LFD, I put in Holst's "The Planets" for a first listen. Big problem, right speaker sounds fairly good but the left speaker is very scratchy and playing at about 1/10th the volume of the right. Check all connections and try again, same result. Turn off all electronics again at the power conditioner, switch the speaker cables, same result with the problem now moved to the left speaker. Try changing the RCAs to different inputs and the problem remains. Call seller and I explain the problem. He assures me the unit was working fine when it left his shop and he's making a claim to FedEx. More to follow I'm sure but no review of the LFD in the near future that's for sure. Gotta love this hobby when you live in the audio desert. Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17912
Registered: May-04
.

Maybe all of your old amps have been wrong and this is the only amp that knows Holst's instructions for "The Planets" was to have one side of the orchestra play veeeeeeeerrrrry softly.



I have a class D amp that runs on batteries or AC. The cover to the battery holder doesn't fit when the amp is loaded with batteries. Same story, "It worked fine in our shop." I suppose Texas and the rest of the world have different sizes of AA batteries.



Sorry to hear about your problems, Dak. Good luck getting them resolved.



.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3137
Registered: Oct-07
Sorry to hear about your apparently DOA amp. Hope you get this sorted out and can get back to simply listening rather than playing electrician / installer.

When I changed from my 'd' integrated to parasound seperates, it took HOURS. Had to modify speaker cables, install and CLEAN the stereo equipment enclosure followed by a session with the logitech remote. And I STILL have to go to a stereo installer or somebody and BORROW a crimping tool to crimp on the spade ends I bought for the AMP end of each speaker lead. And don't forget, I'm biamping so the number of connections has increased by 2x.

That somebody who sent / sold the amp is NOW going to try to BLAME the shipper! What kind of shape was the box in at reception? PHOTOGRAPHS may help before and during opening ceremonies. Next, it'll be YOUR fault!
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 16523
Registered: Feb-05
Sorry to read about the LFD issue, David. Be patient and it will all work out.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1351
Registered: May-05
Thanks all,

It isn't working out at all. Initially, the guy said he would make a claim to FedEx. But, he told me to run the amp in for a couple hours and see if things improved. They didn't. Then, he talked to Fidelis, one of the two distributors, and they thought it was just a fuse. Not excited about opening the box but I did and replaced the fuse. Still no right channel so I switched the known working fuse with the new fuse and still no working right channel, i.e., not a fuse me thinks. But, the left channel was now starting to show something funky so I shut everything down and asked him to refund my money and I'd ship it back. This purchase was based upon an Audiogon ad that stated it was 9/10 quality, a "demo amp" and only 1.5 years old. I explained that wasn't what I got. Now, he claims his "website" says "ALL SALES ARE FINAL" but I didn't buy it from his website, I bought based upon the representations in the Audiogon ad and there's no language like that in the ad. He's refusing to refund my money and I've shipped the amp back to him and protested on my credit card. We'll see where it goes from here. Anyone know a good lawyer? ? ?

Wait a second, I am a good lawyer. Probably not a fight he should pick, I think. More to follow. I really wanted this deal to work.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17914
Registered: May-04
.

" He's refusing to refund my money and I've shipped the amp back to him and protested on my credit card"



Not sure sending the amp back without an RMA is the best idea, Dak. The guy's being a d*ck but now you've put yourself in a situation where you have no proof to show the amp you received as actually defective. And, obviously, you have no amp but he has your money. I hope your credit card company is reliably on the buyer's side.


.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3140
Registered: Oct-07
I know how RMA works with business, but how does it work with an Individual? Do you need one?

I agree with the idea that now that the amp is out of Daks custody, he'll have a whale of a time proving 'defect' and 'cause'.

I'd have made a (video)TAPE of the sound of the defect and also considered taking to a tech for analysis.
Since these are essentially hand assembled artifacts, it wouldn't be out of the question for a SINGLE solder connection to not be quite up to snuff and have worked loose during shipment.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17915
Registered: May-04
.

Don't know what the situation is exactly with the seller. But you sure need something that says "send the 'defective' amp back" before you let it leave your hands. Dak, I think you've allowed evidence to leave your possession. That could put you in a very tight spot when it comes to proving anything.




.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1353
Registered: May-05
Jan and Leo,

Thanks for the input. I took an audio recording of the amp playing into the defective channel so I have that. Also, I emailed him and told him what I was doing and he told me send the amp back and he would send it to Fidelis for warranty repair and then ship it back to me. So, I took him at his word and shipped it back to him. After I sent him the tracking number, he changed his tune again and said he's going to refuse the amp. So, he isn't sending out the clearest of messages but . . . we'll see where it all comes down. At this point, if I have to sue him and light him up on Audiogon, so be it. I was hoping the guy would just be reasonable.

Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17917
Registered: May-04
.

Good luck, Dak. Consider what you, as a lawyer. would say if you were presented an audio recording of music the other guy said proved the amp was OK when he sent it.

I'd say right now there's enough BS coming from this guy to report to Audiogon. Probably not yet though. P*** him off and you'll never get satisfaction.


.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1354
Registered: May-05
Jan,

Right you are. But, he did refuse the amp so it's back on its way to me. So, at least I'll have the amp and a long email exchange to show everything I did.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3144
Registered: Oct-07
Now, of course, the amp was GOOD when you got it, and you decided you DIDN'T want it after all and it was damged on the SECOND round trip.

After the dispute, and you get your money back (big IF) you need to charge the guy for the 3rd shipping!
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1355
Registered: May-05
Leo,

Well, he'll have a very hard time with that story because there's an email trail a mile long, including his various suggestions to "fix it" and my attempts to "fix it", including running it for 2 hours after set-up (bad idea the amp was overheating as it turned out once I got the lid off so it probably wasn't a bright idea to suggest running it for 2 hours), replacing the fuse with a fuse from Radio Shack (turns out the manufacturer specs a specific fuse and replacements have damaged these amps - learned after I replaced the fuse at his suggestion) and the story goes on.

I'm thinking I advise him that since he refused to accept the amp and try and it get repaired under warranty that it is now "abandoned" and I'm charging him storage charges and a restocking fee until he comes and gets it. . . At it's present value, those charges will exceed its value shortly, no? . . . LOL
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3146
Registered: Oct-07
Keep everyone posted, please. Good luck charging the original seller storage. You may argue in court that some kind of bailment relationship exists since he refused return of the amp. Just a thought.

IMMEDIATELY start dispute proceedings and notify your credit card people OR those wretches at PayPal.

To ME this seems clear, but I'M not the one to render a decision. Best of luck with this.

Running defective electronics is a good way to REALLY screw it up. You should know better.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17918
Registered: May-04
.

" including his various suggestions to "fix it" and my attempts to "fix it", including running it for 2 hours after set-up (bad idea the amp was overheating as it turned out once I got the lid off so it probably wasn't a bright idea to suggest running it for 2 hours), replacing the fuse with a fuse from Radio Shack (turns out the manufacturer specs a specific fuse and replacements have damaged these amps - learned after I replaced the fuse at his suggestion) and the story goes on."


Hope you have a copy of the message HE sent instructing you to remove the top of the amp.

A "specific fuse" and others have damaged the amp?!!!

My god! That is right on the edge of saying the amp was built with specific chicken bones the designer deemed to be best for the output. I've not heard of any such thing in any amp sold by a reasonable company. What's "specific" about the fuse? It's a given Voltage and a given Amperage rating which will blow over a specific amount of time when higher amperage is being drawn. That's a fuse, plain and simple and, if a Radio Shack fuse is OK as a replacement according to the schmuck you're dealing with, there can't be anything "specific" about the OEM fuse.

You are being drawn down into a puddle of BS with that situation, Dak. If a "specific fuse" is required to make the amp operational, a spare (or two) should be provided and the situation should be notated in BOLD letters in the owner's manual AT LEAST if not in the sales material.

Sorry you're involved in this mess, DAK, but this is exactly the sort of crap that gives high end a bad reputation.

Well, that and the lunacy of stuff like this; http://www.tweekgeek.com/bybee-holographic-ac-adapter/

Ya gotta love the sales pitch, "What can I expect to hear?

More textures in the music, more decay, air, space, dynamics, musicality. Any more audiophile buzzwords? Yes! Way better bass reproduction with more finesse, tunefullness and impact."

What's it gonna take to get you in one of these little beauties, jack? Tighter bass? More decay? 3-D Holograms dancing on your f***ing eyeballs? Look, Chauncey, you wan'it? This thing's got it. OK?! Gimme your card, c'mon, just hand over the card."







.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1357
Registered: May-05
Leo,

I was kidding about the storage. The dispute is already in the works, paperwork and the email string on the way to my credit card company. As for "running defective electronics", the right channel was low volume and scratchy and he suggested running for a couple hours to see if that would straighten it out. It was only two days later when I opened the lid, at his suggestion, that I learned it was overcooked when I touched the fuse bracket and burned my fingers.

Jan, apparently, the manufacturer does include several extra fuses in the box, which leads to the question: "What happened to the extra fuses?" Especially pertinent since this was supposedly a "9/10 dealer demo 1.5 years old." One would suspect that no one had ever lifted the lid and the fuses should be there, no? Anyway, I told y'all it was a long story.

Now, about:Ya gotta love the sales pitch, "What can I expect to hear?

More textures in the music, more decay, air, space, dynamics, musicality. Any more audiophile buzzwords? Yes! Way better bass reproduction with more finesse, tunefullness and impact." Where do I get that amp, here's my credit card boss. . . LOL
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17919
Registered: May-04
.

Oooooh, Dak! NO!!! Just NO!!!!!!!
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3148
Registered: Oct-07
I had a switch stick on my PSAudio integrated. Nothing serious�.BUT, before I popped the cover (TORX drive) I went over the screws with a magnifier to see if they had EVER been touched after initial assembly.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1359
Registered: May-05
Leo,

Oh sure, now you come in with the brilliant suggestions. . . LOL, Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 16527
Registered: Feb-05
Well, inquiring minds and all of that. What happened!
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1360
Registered: May-05
Art,

I got a "tentative credit" which means that the charge is not appearing on my bill and I'm not paying interest. They give him 2 billing cycles to convince them otherwise and he really doesn't have any basis to get it reversed. So, I wait 6-7 more weeks and I should be good to go.

I am very interested in the LFD and I'd love to know what you liked or didn't like about it and why you moved on.

Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3153
Registered: Oct-07
Dak, since you are an attorney, this suggestion better not come as a surprise, BUT��

I'd be anticipating the reaction from the seller. If he drags his heels or 'contests' the payback, what is YOUR reaction to be? What is the role of the mediator in all this? Will they heavily weigh your Original complaint made literally hours after receipt? Or can they somehow rely on the sellers contention of 'perfect condition when I shipped it!' That may mean the sale goes thru and you have to somehow get the shipper involved, which at this advanced date is questionable.

I'd be making 'worst case scenario' contingency plans.

Does this NOW turn into a he said - he said situation?
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1361
Registered: May-05
Leo,

Several of the points I made to my credit card company are: (1) he selected the shipper; (2) he packaged the amp, somewhat inadequately IMHO - it was double boxed but the larger box was quite small and left little room for anything to protect the inner box but that was his call and I don't know that it matters but it wasn't consistent with what I have received before; and, he purchased insurance and he was shown as the "shipper" so he had the relationship and only right to make a claim against FedEx if the damage happened in shipping. I pointed those facts out to him, although I went light on the packaging issue because I didn'twant to impact his claim against FedEx and he never argued that I could make a claim to FedEx. He simply wanted me to make a warranty claim to the distributor and I explained that was also his right not mine because I was not accepting the amp in its defective condition. This last point is required by the Uniform Commercial Code within a reasonable time and it essentially means that I don't own the amp, he does because I refused to accept since it didn't comply with our "contractual bargain."

BTW, he can't drag his heels. If he does nothing, they give me a "final credit". So, he has to explain why I am incorrect on the law and why the "contract" is something different than I've described and they now have a copy of his ad and it doesn't address anything about "All sales final", "as is", "subject to the terms on my website" or anything else that changes the risk of not delivering what he promised from him to me. So, I'm fairly confident I win but . . . I've been wrong before. LOL

Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1362
Registered: May-05
Well guys,

Apparently, he gave up and he asked me to pay to ship the amp to the distributor. I've already paid to ship it to me originally and paid to ship it back to him and he refused to accept delivery. I think I'm done paying . . .
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 16528
Registered: Feb-05
I have not owned an LFD amp but have listened to it with most of the gear that I own at a dealer. They are very fine amps. Very open midrange, detailed bass (if a little light) and extended highs. For my tastes the highs are a little glassy sounding and the bass just a bit too light. It's just a preference thing.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1363
Registered: May-05
Art,

Have you heard the LFD Mark IV or the LFD Mark V or the NCSE?

If by glassy, you mean "bright", I'm not sure how that would work with my Cary CD-500, which is pretty darn clear and doesn't add much warmth like their tube players.

I know that "light bass" was one of the complaints with the Mistril(sp?) and the Mark III but supposedly those were addressed in the Mark IV, Mark V and the NCSE. I'm still contemplating my navel but likely to take the plunge on a new Mark V.

If anyone has heard the IV or V and has strong reservations, let you speak fairly soon, although the dealer has agreed up front to take it back if I don't like it. Unfortunately, I'm getting into a price range where I could pick up a McIntosh integrated. . . (That was added to get Jan back involved. LOL

Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 16529
Registered: Feb-05
I've heard the Mark IV and V. Part of the problem may have been the LFD cables that are said to be "required" for the best sound with the amps. These amps are a "go to" recommendation with Harbeth speakers and work fairly well with Spendor but I would be wary if either your speakers or source are on the edge. You might want to consider the Sonneteer Alabaster or Orton.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3155
Registered: Oct-07
Dak, all this stuff 'recommended' to go with one another is dicey and opinion, at best�..well intentioned, though it may be.
But for My $.05? I'd go and just BORROW something for a couple days to just plug into the system. Best outcome is a discovery of something cool. Worst outcome is simply another data point and something to NOT get into.

I'd be personally suspicious about ANY amp which required a specific cable to sound its 'best'.

Some other forum I've read compared the LFD with NAIM with some +s and -s noted. At least one person said the lack of remote was a deal breaker.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 16530
Registered: Feb-05
Leo, I didn't say that I recommend LFD with one brand or the other however I know several dealers who do. I know of at least one other major US dealer that recommends using the LFD cables only with the amps. I am not passing any judgement on whether that is a good recommendation or not. Listening is always the best test...if you can. That is not always possible and then you are left with best guesses. At the cost of admission that can be a bit risky, even though some things can be predicted with a little research.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1365
Registered: May-05
I haven't talked with the distributor about their cables but I'm unwilling to pay another $1000 plus for speaker cables and interconnects with the amp. Moreover, like Art and Leo, I don't believe that the amp should be greatly affected by that and if it is then there is a problem with the amp, IMHO. That said, it seems that both major distributors prefer the Harbeth speakers with these amps. I've heard Harbeth speakers with other amplification and they were very nice speakers but I think my speakers outperform them in treble, bass and midrange. But, that doesn't necessarily mean they will sound great with this amp. In this case, it may come down to what it will cost me to return the amp, besides shipping, if it's not to my liking. Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 16531
Registered: Feb-05
The Monitor 30.1 is at a different level than any other Harbeth at the top...an extraordinary speaker. Likewise the Spendor D7 exceeds all of my expectations in a near full range loudspeaker. Meanwhile I will keep on loving my Spendor A6R and KEF LS50's.

I would still bet that the Sonneteer Alabaster would work nicely with your speakers.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3156
Registered: Oct-07
I"ve heard the LS50 2x. Both times at T.H.E. Newport.
Last year they were demo'd with all PARASOUND gear and the result was terrific.
Richard Schramm was in attendance and spoke to all. We swapped some Chicago stories! Great guy and accessible to stereophile of all ilks.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17926
Registered: May-04
.

"If anyone has heard the IV or V and has strong reservations, let you speak fairly soon, although the dealer has agreed up front to take it back if I don't like it. Unfortunately, I'm getting into a price range where I could pick up a McIntosh integrated. . . (That was added to get Jan back involved. LOL"


I'm watching, Dak. However, there's not much I can add to the current discussion. I've never tried to tell anyone what they should be perceiving from any component and certainly not from a system of components. In my mind, doing so is pure BS and typically comes from someone wanting to feel far more important than they really are. By suggesting a component does this or that, you place the idea in their mind they should be listening for this or that and that tends to then miss the more important aspects of what music is about. I can't recall in my 62 years ever hearing music which was bright, glassy or cool(in the wrong sense). I've heard my fair share of performers who weren't cool but that's an entirely different discussion. Music is music and it is a perceptual experience you will create for yourself. Substituting one component for another in any system and then commenting on the change first ignores the fact you are listening to a system of components - not the least of which is the room and the system set up - but also removes the pleasure of listening ... well, for pleasure. It sits at the crux of any A-B comparison. You are no longer listening for the pleasure music can bring but for the discomfort a certain component has to offer. The average listener in high end audio, IMO, is always looking for the bad and not the good when it comes to certain "audiophile" values. And listening to others tell you what's good or bad is just a waste of time IMO because they don't have your priorities. If you're wanting to say you know this and that will happen when you insert this component into a system you haven't experienced because you know this component does this and that, you're waaaaaay better than I am at this game. IMO that is self promotion rather than good sense. If you tell me you enjoyed the experience, great. But I know my priorities must be met on their own with no assistance from the peanut gallery. I know what my priorities are and that's just how it goes for me.


"I haven't talked with the distributor about their cables but I'm unwilling to pay another $1000 plus for speaker cables and interconnects with the amp. Moreover, like Art and Leo, I don't believe that the amp should be greatly affected by that and if it is then there is a problem with the amp, IMHO."

Really?! you might talk to the distributor about their cables? What would they say? Their cables are designed to be neutral sounding? What BS ... again! I don't think I'd make a very good distributor because I'd laugh at most of the questions I've heard people ask distributors. If you didn't become enamored of the music when such and such a cable was or was not used, why would the amp be to blame? Why not the cable? Or, why not something ele in the system which is lacking transparency and therefore giving you a false sense of what should be happening? Or, why not something that is providing too much transparency for the limited transparency of the component in question? Look, for decades Naim suggested the use of their own very simple cables when you purchased a Naim amp. Why? Largely because the gross electrical parameters of their cable design made their amps perform in a certain way on a test bench. Eventually Naim succumbed to the magic of cables to which their high end customers bought into and their zip cord like cables were more or less a thing of the past as far as recommendations are concerned.

Or, are you actually saying you don't think any cables are worth $1k in value to you? That, my friend, is an entirely different discussion also. Though, if that's your opinion, do you let your tires get flat just because you think proper inflation is BS? It's a system, Dak, and you can't IMO evaluate a system by "listening to" one part of the system. And, most importantly, it's music not hifi. What makes that cable be recommended? That it images well? That too is BS in my book. No doubt I spent a lot of time on the sales floor discussing imaging and soundstaging etc, etc, etc with my clients. However, I'd already ascertained by that time they did not listen to live music so they had a very skewed opinion of what to expect from a music reproduction system.

DFW has a really weird audio store mentality IMO. First, most stores do judge you by what you drive. Secondly, I don't want to be told the system they have is better than the system I have or another store has because their system is such and such. I learned very early in my sales career that my priorities were not those of most of my clients and certainly not what I was selling against in most cases. They are my priorities, I don't expect anyone to use them as their own. I've sat beside good friends listening to both live and recorded music and come away with vastly different opinions of what we've both just experienced. Great. If what they are commenting on is the musical experience. If you actually can find some place to listen to live, unamplified music being made in front of you, I think you'll find it generally falls short of the great majority of values audiophiles say they want in a "good" system.

Do I think any one component has a "personality"? Yes, I do. And can one personality clash with another? Yep! I've not been someone who thought pairing ying with yang makes a good system. No, you probably wouldn't want to be close friends with someone who was a nice neighbor as far as keeping their lawn mowed but was also a deeply devoted and highly vocal r@cist or @narchist. There's a distance you would maintain with either because, from all indications, Dak, you're a genuinely nice guy. We seek out those values which reflect our own thinking - our own priorities. Nor would you want to be too close a friend with a true, dyed in the wool, sheepishly conforming polyanna, too much of any good thing becomes too much of everything after a time.

Dak, IMO if you're ordering gear without a proper audition, you're likely to be disappointed sooner or later. That, unfortunately, is what the high end audio market has become though. Reading reviews and taking the word of another for audio is like taking the advice of someone else about your spouse. I may like my neighbors as a neighbors but I surely wouldn't want to live with them.

My advice is to just get yourself back to the music, Dak. Figure out what priorities you have for music and then apply those values to your auditions. Unless, that is, you're after some sort of trickery a system can pull off. Chasing what others say is good is like a dog chasing its tail. Neither of you are going to ever catch the darned thing. Find what's good about the music before you ever go looking for the bad.


. }
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1366
Registered: May-05
Hey guys,

Great comments. I am not planning to chase Harbeth speakers at this time. I've enjoyed listening to them in the past and they are very good speakers no doubt. But, I have speakers that I'm very satisfied with and that I'll likely die with, given that I owned the ALs for 30 years.

As for the cables, it is somewhat related to the cost, Jan, but it's also related to the problem I have with a manufacturer manufacturing a component "that sounds best" with a particular cable or power cord. IMO, a manufacturer should strive to produce a component that doesn't flavor the music at all. If thy manufacturer succeeds, I should have an experience that comes as close to live as possible.

Like you, I listen to a fair amount of live music, I finally talked the wife into symphony tickets a few years ago so we go. In addition, I find my way into places that play live music, although probably not as often as you or as often as I would like.

The LFD is an experiment really, an expensive one if it doesn't work. As I explained before, I'd love to be able to audition gear here but there is no "here here". One Call is the online site for Huppins Hi Fi and they serve low to midfi at best and we have a BB. So, no quality audio can be heard here. When I go to Portland or Seattle, even L.A. sometimes, I try to get to audio shops to hear other gear but trying to compare that to what I have is a fool's game - lack of aural memory that provides anything close to an A/B.

So far, I've been lucky by reading lots of reviews, looking for reviewers that tend to prioritize along the lines of my priorities and then taking the plunge after making certain I can return things for little cost if I'm unsatisfied. Most of the people I've dealt with have been good about that and I've been lucky to find gear that has met my immediate needs. I'm fairly happy with what I have now, I'm just wondering if the LFD will take me further down the road towards "real"?

I could go to the distributor's shop the next time I'm in the L.A. area but I'll hear the LFD playing into Harbeths playing on a high end turntable, which I don't use. I'm sure it will sound great but it will give me no idea how the LFD plays in my system so . . . ???
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17927
Registered: May-04
.

"As for the cables, it is somewhat related to the cost, Jan, but it's also related to the problem I have with a manufacturer manufacturing a component "that sounds best" with a particular cable or power cord. IMO, a manufacturer should strive to produce a component that doesn't flavor the music at all. If thy manufacturer succeeds, I should have an experience that comes as close to live as possible."

So the amp's designer/builder suggests his or her amp meets his or her own priorities when used with a certain cable. Others agree. Ho-hum. So what? If there is no specific electrical reason for the pairing as there was with the early Naim gear, what's it matter to you? Their priorities are not your priorities so what cable you select must meet your priorities, no? I see this as a bit of audiophile goofiness. Sort of like the guys who wouldn't buy a demo item at a discount because they wanted to experience this thing called "break in" that all the magazines were writing about. Really?! you want it to sound crappy for the first few weeks? There's just a certain mind set in some audiophiles that I cannot get my head around.

Yes, things should be neutral. But, if we ever reached that point, someone would be telling you there's only one system that's neutral and you need to buy it. Or everything's neutral and it doesn't matter what you buy. Somewhere in the middle is where we've been for decades and, I suspect, where we will remain for many more. At least until all the chip amp designers agree on which chip is the most neutral and then we can all buy the amps with that one chip. Don't hold your breath would be my advice. Either you believe this amp is better than that amp - more able to bring you closer to live perhaps - or you accept that all amps will have personality. Then none of them are neutral and neither is any cable going to make them neutral. It's the game, Dak. No reasonably well designed cable can make an amp be anything. No reasonably well designed amp can make a cable perform better. You can look at the electrical parameters of the system and make educated guesses but most of the time cable vendors aren't pushing electrical parameters. So you puts down your money and you takes your chances. If you like the music more with this cable than that cable, then you have to justify spending the cash. You spent the money on the amp, so why not the cables? It's a system your assembling. You wouldn't buy a high end automobile and put cheap tires on it. You wouldn't have an expensive house and let the landscaping go to he!!. You wouldn't have a nice meal and drink a Diet Coke. Personally, I think most claims for most cables are hogwash. Not that the cables aren't well made and well suited to audio applications, just that the sellers make stupid and ridiculous claims for them. That doesn't mean I cannot see the benefits to more expensive cables in certain systems.

Now, if the designer said their cable only works well with this specific amp, then I'd be worried.

I doubt what the "experts" are saying is the amp produces music that sounds like a dog taking a vile smelling crap if you don't use these cables. Think of it as a recommendation, then forget every recommendation you've been given. Including that one.

What exactly do the experts claim this cable "does" that's so wonderful with this amp? What is it you want from your components? You should be able to state in a few sentences what your musical priorities are. And you should be equally able to say in a few sentences why you feel your present system is not giving you those values. If your priorities are simply being closer to live, then you probably need to rethink why you want to spend money at this time. If you're thinking there's something magic about a certain component, then you've hopped on a merry go 'round that I never committed to. I think it was in your first post to this thread that you said your present amp has been around for two and some years. So, what about music has changed in that time?


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Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1367
Registered: May-05
Jan,

I want "real". Yes, a nice "sound stage" is great and even better if it's wide, high and I can visualize every musician playing and hear each note perfectly. I want PRAT that is consistent with what real music sounds like and want cymbals that shimmer just right and drums that thump so that I can feel that thump and . . . so on. Yes, I am joking somewhat because we all want these things.

I'm getting a fair amount of the "real" part right now. As I've said, the LFD is just an experiment and I've got decent cables that have migrated over several iterations that work with my current set up but may not work with something else. I'll try some of the cables I already own with any new gear and trade up, down or sideways if new stuff makes it sound better.

As for the LFD cables, I have no idea what they claim. Dr. Bews won't tell you much about his amps, except what's on the website, and he doesn't tell you much of anything about the cables on there but he recommends them.

http://lfd-audio.com/power_amplifiers.html
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17928
Registered: May-04
.

Maybe I'm missing it but it doesn't appear as though anyone is saying these cables are "required" for good performance. Looking at the very sparse webpage it seems more like this designer thinks his designs are quite good. No problem with that IMO. A fair amount of designers in the high end section of audio have made similar suggestions with equipment produced by other designers when both feel a comfortable alliance of thoughts about music reproduction. For those folks who have a difficult time matching a system, this makes for rather simple decisions and will probably give quite good results in most cases. But no one is forcing anyone to spend $1k on cables just to have decent sound. My assumption is anyone buying the amp would be offered an audition of the cables and you make up your own mind. If they improve the quality to the extent you could not achieve for the same amount of money elsewhere, then they are a good deal, no?


.


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Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1368
Registered: May-05
Jan,

Excellent point and I agree no one is saying the cables are required. But, you raise an even better point I hadn't discussed with the distributor. I didn't ask whether he would let me demo the cables. I will do that so thanks for that thought.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17929
Registered: May-04
.

"When I go to Portland or Seattle, even L.A. sometimes, I try to get to audio shops to hear other gear but trying to compare that to what I have is a fool's game - lack of aural memory that provides anything close to an A/B."



Dak, if you would, try this audition technique rather than relying on your aural memory for an A/B against what you have at home. First, forget what you have at home. Don't make an A/B comparison to anything. A/B comparisons do as I suggested earlier, they remove you from a pleasurable listening environment and put you in a situation where you are being tested as a listener. Now you are listening not for the enjoyment of the music but for perceived differences between this and that. I assume this is not how you listen at the symphony - though I've known many a client who told me their system imaged way better than the live performers did.

I typically asked my clients if they do or ever had played a musical instrument. If they did not and they did not attend live performances, then we got down to very basic levels of comparison. The sort that revolve around "tight bass, clear mids and clean highs" to the ever popular "wide and deep soundstage" (like they talk about in the magazines). I don't know what your musical experience is or how you listen when you attend a symphony performance. If you're there because you want to compare your system to live music, then you may be missing some important details of how music is created and performed. If you can articulate the musical differences between pace, rhythm and timing, fine. If not, you need to think a bit about what they actually mean to a musician IMO. Just knowing PRaT is something you want is not enough.

If you've played an instrument, you probably understand how synchopation works in music. How does it work in an audio system? If you've played, you probably have a sense of how a musician will use the various techniques at their disposal to create interest and variety in their performance. Slurs, slides, bends, hammer ons and pull offs plus vibrato are a few of the most common things you'll hear in popular/rock/blues music. How one performer creates those technical aspects of their performance will be unlike how another performer plays the same technical bits and pieces. How BB King, Clapton and Hendriks played a vibrato would tell you easily which player you were hearing. Most audio systems have difficulty making this obvious to the listener. You should become the listener who is aware of those nuances since THEY ARE music.

In jazz styles and more melodic classical styles the manner in which a performer communicates with another is at the heart of the genre. Musical lines are repeated and altered as the composition flows. Understand how a musician will achieve this reworking of the same theme and musical line. You will hear deeper into the music as you begin to perceive the pulse of the performance.

I would suggest you listen to a mono recording but most shops don't keep them around. However, even if you are unfamiliar with the music or the performance, a mono recording removes the tendency to focus too much on the "stereo effects" put into a modern studio recording. It also tells you how well the system actually does things like soundstage since there is a spread of instruments before you in mono and a good system should still have width and depth if it existed in the original recording. Most mono recordings were made when mic techniques were much simpler than today and performers played together in the same room at the same time. If you are unfamiliar with that sound, vintage mono is an education. Listen to "Prairie Home Companion" on a local PBS radio station (Saturday nights around 5PM). Done live before an audience there are no edits or overdubs and very simple mic techniques. If you understand music, you should perceive a very obvious difference between that sound and 99% of the recordings you'll listen to.

Don't make excuses for a system with a turntable making music that won't sound like your system. Digital and analog are still somewhat different in their strengths and weaknesses but music is still music. Unless you feel your digital front end is at fault - in which case, buying a new amp won't change that fact and you don't want to begin putting BandAids on a problematic component - you are after the musical abilities of the system and not a demonstration of analog's or digital's better points.

I would suggest to you that you pay attention to timbre - which is not the same as tone. However, a good working knowledge of timbre requires you to know timbre as it exists in acoustic instruments. And it also requires a recording which has captured the correct timbre of the instruments. Various microphones can do harm to timbre as can mic placement or how the performer uses the mic. Though I would say most "audiophiles" should have an understanding of the timbre as it exists in, say, a Martin D45 (played by CSN&Y) and a Gibson J200 (played by Dylan, Scotty Moore and Emmy Lou Harris to name a few). Or between a Steinway and a Baldwin piano. Stop in a Guitar Center sometime in some city and ask someone to play that D45 and J200 for you. Listen to the sound of a Martin and a Gibson. They are both excellent guitars but they are not just a "guitar" sound. They are unique and any good system should portray them as distinct.

This sort of listening should remove A/B comparisons and allow you to focus solely on the music as you hear it from any system in any store and do so within a very short time span. You are simply asking yourself whether the music you hear playing recalls the same emotions and sense of musical reality you experience at a live performance. Not whether "this" is better than what you have at home. Of course, you cannot be certain the component will perform to a similar level when used in your system. There are specific electrical parameters which must be met for any system to mate properly and, if those values are ignored, even the best component is likely to suffer. Consider though, if the component performs in a superior fashion in this system and does not do so in your system - as long as there are no electrical mismatches to account for that change, then you cannot fault the new component. It simply means your system is lacking transparency in ways you should address if you want the best from your purchase.

Use a USB drive to carry around several audition pieces so you have some familiarity with the music. But make your decisions based on musical values, not hifi values. If you have a recording made in the symphony hall you listen in, include a sample which should demonstrate that venue's ability to portray attack and decay, tonal balance and dynamic range. If you have a recording of a performance you have heard, all the better. Most of all, forget about words like "woody" or "reedy" or "more percussive". And definitely forget everything those audio reviewers have said.

Read music reviews instead of audio reviews. The person doing the review of a night spent at the symphony does not use words like "imaging" or "soundstage". They discuss the music ... and the performance ... and the performer's ability to pull of the musical performance. They talk about "tension" and "release", "romance" and "fearsomeness". Those are the values you should be desiring in your playback of any recording IMO. Hearing lips smack is BS audio stuff. Detecting the slight hesitation in the release of a breath is what makes that performer interesting.

Really, stop reading audio reviews. They've mostly come down to comparisons between what two different components did on a very small portion of a recording you probably don't have. Those differences are immaterial to the whole that is music. Each and every component can be compared second by second to another. IMO you want to know just how frightening Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony is when reproduced though a system of electronics. You want to know whether you will give Elvis a standing O at the end of "Such a Night". You'll be miles ahead if you can detect the unstated moments of communication between the three players in the Bill Evans trio as they perform live at The Vanguard and how they play with the beat and their synchopation of that beat to move the music and each other forward.

These are values you can ascertain in short time from any system. In short, how easy is it to walk away from the music. If the system performs all the required audiophile tricks but doesn't make the music as interesting as a live performance, then keep on walking. If you perceive the difference in how a string is bent just short of the next fret's sound, how it is held, its gentle vibrato and how it is released before the next note arrives, keep on listening.


Just a suggestion.


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Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1369
Registered: May-05
Jan,

Wow, I love it when you talk dirty. What you just did was explain why this hobby can be very frustrating. When I go to the symphony, I often close my eyes, listen intently to the music to capture the mood, the changes in mood, the changes in tempo, timbre and rise and fall of the music. In other words, I allow the music to just be and affect me with the emotion of it. I don't worry about sound stage, depth, width, etc. I know where the musicians sit, what instruments they play, how those instruments sound and where the sounds are coming from.

Now, do I listen differently when I'm listening to my system. Honestly, yes and no. I think on certain pieces that I know well and that I have heard on this system many times, I just sit back and enjoy. More often than not, I enjoy what I'm hearing and I feel that the sound reproduction expresses the music as it was recorded originally and I get the emotions, I get decay, I get vibrato, I get the breathes of a singer hesitating a beat or half beat and I get the variance in the instrument or voice, including fret changes, etc. Unfortunately, I don't know enough about the instruments to know whether I'm listening to a Gibson or a Fender or a Martin but I can usually tell that this electric or acoustic guitar has a different sound, although I may not be able to tell whether that is because of a distinct sound of the guitar or the player. Same for pianos.

I don't play much of anything anymore. I played violin many years ago, picked up a guitar and played some into my mid 20s. Recently, bought an electrified acoustic to see if I could still play and to get back to playing. Obviously, I'm not playing Hendrix, the Beatles or anyone else just yet. But, amazingly, I can still tell when it's in tune or close to in tune and not. Hey, my ears aren't totally shot just yet.

Yes, I have many mono recordings and I'll try your experiment. Of interest, I usually enjoy these recordings a lot because it reminds me of listening to recordings in the 60s and 70s in a bad car radio or even bad stereo system. Loved the music, didn't care that the system sounded crappy.

Typically, when I audition gear, I take 2-3 Cds that I know well. But, I like your idea of taking more music on a thumb drive so I can select a play list that tests different instruments, voices and aspects of a system.

I know that part of my issues is the room but I've done as much as my lovely wife will allow with "treatments" and I know that I haven't solved all of the room's problems. Thanks to you guys, I've tried some tricks with isolation gear for feet and improved my rack and all of that helped as did looking at different cables and connects and power cords. I don't have a power conditioner but I have very good power as measured by an electrical engineer buddy.

I will be starting the symphony season in about a month or so and that does help me when it comes to hearing music at home, especially orchestra pieces. This system does complicated orchestra pieces much better than where I started, occasionally sending tingles down the spine and tears to my eyes. That said, some pieces still don't separate instruments as well as they could and instruments sound like they have run together too much. Instead of individual violins, violas, cellos and bases, I get a wall of strings, etc. In fairness, I don't know how much of that is the system and how much are hearing issues caused by hearing aids that amplify sound but I don't get that in a live symphony so . . . dunno.

Maybe, I just wait on a purchase and take the time to go visit the distributor next time I'm in L.A. visiting family. You guys really have me on the fence. Wouldn't you know, I see another used LFD Mark IV just showed up on Audiogon. . . LOL
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17930
Registered: May-04
.

"Jan,

Wow, I love it when you talk dirty. What you just did was explain why this hobby can be very frustrating."





Well, in that case, I'm not even going to mention what I was wearing when I posted that.

Why is this hobby frustrating for you, Dak? I'd like to know. My guess would be you are reading audio reviews. STOP THAT!!! What did I just tell you?! You're going to go blind!

Let's talk about audio reviews for a minute. I have a pretty good collection of "vintage" audio magazines that extends well into the '70's when Stereophile and The Absolute Sound were becoming popular and more readily available. When I moved to Dallas in '78 there were several book stores in town which carried items from overseas publishers so I have a good range of British and even a few Japanese audio mags from that time. Back before the Japanese economy tanked and they were buying up all the old US audio stuff they could get shipped over there. Back when they were hand building horns from specific woods and Luxman was building tube amplifiers using obsolete tubes no one else had in stock just because those tubes were the best. Just as the Japanese market was turning to the small vendors who built 1 watt single ended triode amps and handwound moving coil cartridges and loudspeaker motors. Lots from the British mags where every reader's question was answered with, "Buy a Linn". I have several magazines which ran out of steam in a few issues as they got run over by the juggernauts of Stereophile and TAS. Boxes and boxes of magazines about audio are in my closets and attic.

Every now and again I just reach in and pull out a magazine to read a few articles. At times I become somewhat disappointed about what the average audio magazine is lacking nowdays that the short run magazines attempted to highlight. Mostly though, I get my fix of
"jawdropping" changes in resolution coming from a component introduced in the late '70's and early '80's. So many windows have been wiped clean in those magazines that I just can't imagine the size of the house all these windows belong to. The number of times I can read about "this" component being the "best of the breed" is nearly endless from these old magazines. I have absolutely no need to buy a current issue of anything when I have so many absolutely mindblowing components I can read about which are now 30 years or more old. "Neutral" components were created waaaaay back when and yet "more neutral" components show up every year ...

The Sound
The recent crop of top-priced tubed preamplifiers, from such firms as Audio Research and Counterpoint, has redefined the meaning of "tube sound." No longer can we generalize that tubes sound warm, fat, glassy-bright through the upper midrange, and soft (sweet) at the top. Lately, tubes have been sounding more and more like the best solid-state, and vice versa. The Premier Seven is another one.

It is, in fact, about as close as any tubed preamp has come to being perfectly neutral in soundâ€"in nearly all respects. The high-level section has a gorgeous top endâ€"effortlessly sweet, open, and airy, yet immensely detailed. Nothing I have heard has bettered its high end, although some have equalled it. Resolution of detail is excellent across the board, as are (almost naturally) all aspects of soundstage presentation. So phase-coherent is it that it can present a very specific, tightly bunched image, and also produce convincing images 'way out beyond the locational limits of the speakers when suitably phased signal is delivered to it. http://www.stereophile.com/content/conrad-johnson-premier-seven-preamplifier-pag e-2


So, if you had a perfectly neutral pre amp in 1988, what exactly are you going to buy in 2014? Now, I'm not saying there aren't components and speakers which are superior to what was available in 1988. There are and inexpensive audio is better than it was back then. However, as I frequently told my clients, listen for the "music system" and not the hifi system. If you buy the hifi for what hifi is about in the magazines this month, I guarantee you there will be another component or speaker or cartridge or cable or something that will be better than what you now own. If, on the other hand, you buy a system that is all about the music, what about music has changed in the last three decades? What has changed in the last five hundred years?

That was always my point with my clients; if a product serves the music well today, it is likely to serve the music well in the future. Maybe there will be "better", I can see there likely will be something better, but unless you just have the irresistible urge to buy something, it will likely take a long time for you to explore all of the things your musica system can achieve in service to the music you have in your collection. Even if you read current reviews, depending on just how into serving the manufacturers the reviewer is, there are reasons a Klipschorn or a McIntosh MC275 tube amp still are worth owning.



This isn't meant to talk you out of buying a new amp. There are lots of good products out there today. And we all should have our own priorities and a Klipschorn or a 275 might not meet those specific priorities. I get that and I made a living off of that for a long, long time. I mean, there must be a lot of really good stuff available if audio reviews have come down to comparing several components at the end of a long review where the insides and outsides of the component and the box it came in are described in detail, how many friends it took to get it in the door, where you were when it arrived on your doorstep, and the associated equipment and some pithy comment on something I'm supposed to think makes you smart, etc, etc, etc and the review ends up telling which of three components had a flash more dynamic swing on the sound of the French horns at exactly this moment of this album. Right? If they were all equal up to that exact moment, what exactly are we arguing about when we talk about hifi? I'm afraid the most relevant answer to that is "BS". I'm not an objectivist who thinks all things which measure the same will perform the same. You're using a system and just the electrical parameters of it being a system says there will be differences. But, if we get down to discussing those moment by moment differences because that's what we were listening for, haven't we simply lost sight of why we own a better than average audio system?

Maybe I'm just too old and too worn out by all of it but I was never frustrated by audio. I'm always surprised at those folks who are. I kind of think they are letting the urge to have something new, something someone else said was the best, in their equipment rack get the better of them. They're tired of their hifi. OK, didn't I tell you that would happen if you bought a hifi system? I really mean it, DAK, when I say stop reading audio magazines.

Do this one thing, OK? Pull a current audio review out of the air and read the discussion of how the thing sounds. Then pull a review of a music event out of the air and read it (try the NY Times if you don't have a good local reviewer). Finally, use your search engine to find some comments from working musicians commenting on other musicians. I'd say Dylan's words regarding Woody Guthrie are always good examples of how musicians think about how other musicians think but you pick your own examples. Compare the three things these viewpoints express and tell me which is the most ... "vital" to what your audio equipment should be accomplishing. IMO that little exercise should remove a lot of the frustration about equipment.




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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17931
Registered: May-04
.

Here's something I received in an email today which might clear a few things up for you, Dak. Don't be overly concerned about the timbre of a Martin vs a Gibson at this point. It's a rather simple thing to acquire that awareness by being around the sound when you can. Our local library and museum have music programs where you can hear free music being made by a wide variety of performers. The local Basically Beethoven series presents classical music at no cost and is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The local colleges all have programs to enjoy. Learning to play music is, IMO, one of the greatest ways to understand how your audio system should operate on a musical level. So plunge into learning and getting back to old skills. Just be aware you will likely spend less time with your system and more time with your instrument.

http://www.premierguitar.com/articles/21259-electric-etudes-jerry-garcia

You don't have to understand the various modes discussed in the article or the chord progressions used in the examples. Just understand that Garcia was a highly skilled and exceptionally talented musician who employed a wide range of experiences to create music which touched on rock, pop, blues, classical, Hindu, psychedelic, folk, etc. Quite often as you listen to a single solo you can hear several of those influences in his work. As you listen to Garcia's playing, just learn to let yourself follow his musical line which will weave in and out of several touchstones along the way. It's not important that you recognize the points of departure and arrival, just that you are following how he is taking the listener along on a ride. Take a simple tune like "Truckin'" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPQAbBI7E38) and listen to the way the music moves forward with a bounce to the beat. There's a veeeery slight hesitation to the note being struck just a hair's breath off the actual beat which creates that bounce. You'll hear it a lot in roots country and acoustic blues. If the system can't get your toes tapping and your fingers swinging with your head bobbing when you listen to this song, then the system is missing those very fine timing cues which make live music an experience. And recognize Garcia admitted many times there were nights when the band was on and feeding from the energy of the audience and night's when they weren't quite there. When they were "on" this was quite an extraordinary group of musicians working together and over the years they grew to know each other so well one could complete the other's thoughts.

Take the Bill Evans Trio at the Vanguard and listen to the drummer's work. In this group every instrument used was considered a "rhythm instrument" when employed by a larger group. So the way in which these traditionally "rhythm" oriented players worked their way through single note works is exceptionally interesting IMO. The drummer in this case was Paul Motian; â€With Paul, there was always that ground rhythm, that ancient jazz beat lurking in the background,†said the pianist Ethan Iverson, one of the younger bandleaders who played with and learned from him toward the end.

Mr. Motian’s final week at the Vanguard was with Mr. Osby and Mr. Kikuchi, in September. â€He was an economist: every note and phrase and utterance counted,†Mr. Osby said on Tuesday. â€There was nothing disposable.â€


IMO it's brilliant musical awareness on display. And not very system can or will do it justice. The original recording is an audiophile classic since it was recorded with very simple mic techniques but just listen to the music and forget the hifi for awhile.


". This system does complicated orchestra pieces much better than where I started, occasionally sending tingles down the spine and tears to my eyes. That said, some pieces still don't separate instruments as well as they could and instruments sound like they have run together too much. Instead of individual violins, violas, cellos and bases, I get a wall of strings, etc."


Consider what that wall of violins is meant to be. There will be a first and second violinist in the orchestra, they are what should stand out at specific moments within the performance. At those times when they are not intent on being distinct sounds within the larger group, they are to meld into one "wall of violins". Composers will use the individual instruments to make a musical point. However, for the most part the intent of the conductor is to get everyone sounding as though they were a mass of sound coming from the stage and not 83 pieces of individual players. Don't again buy into this audio magazine malarkee about picking individual instruments out of a crowd. There are moments when that is meant to occur and many more moments where it is not.

Understand how a recording engineer thinks. They are what you are hearing even more than the performers. And their intentions are often at loggerheads to what an "audiophile" is told to expect from a recording. Audiophiles tend to make the equipment the end product. In the musical chain of a recording, audiophiles are the only ones who think like that.

The Frank Sinatra/Nelson Riddle monos are good examples of what mono can achieve. When I say mono will have width and depth, don't confuse this with me saying there will be a brass player who sounds as though they are standing outside of your speakers. Mono will always be more restrictive in its spread than will stereo. However, most mono recordings were created with a single microphone and some instruments were further to one side or the other away from that single mic and some were placed deeper into the stage than were others. On many of the Sinatra monos what you will perceive is that arc of instruments placed behind Sinatra with his vocal positioned in front and centered so as to stand out from the orchestra. The entire group in still positioned well within the boundaries of your speakers but the sound that arrives in phase and in time comes from each individual instrument being just that much closer or that much further away from that one mic.


"Yes, I have many mono recordings and I'll try your experiment. Of interest, I usually enjoy these recordings a lot because it reminds me of listening to recordings in the 60s and 70s in a bad car radio or even bad stereo system. Loved the music, didn't care that the system sounded crappy."


Then you're listening to the system too much, Dak. I always become mystified when I hear this sort of opinion about "mono" recordings. Do you think your father or your grandfather thought the music sounded crappy because it didn't sound like today's recordings. I don't think so. I've said often on the forum when the engineers had nothing but mono to work from - when there were no audio reviewers discussing imaging, and soundstaging and palpable 3D and so forth - what your father heard was the music. That's all the engineers had to work with at that time. Therefore, when you only got one thing to work with, that one thing becomes the most important thing you will work with.

Stop listening for the hifi. Listen to an AM radio station. It too can be an interesting experiment if you have a car system that gets to the musical bones of the sound. Most don't however.

Listen to the music. Listen to Duke Ellington, Harry James, the Dorsey's, Count Basie (the man with the best swing of them all), Billie Holiday and enjoy them in their original "crappy" sound. It's not the sound you're after, Dak, it's the music. Learn to find the music no matter the sound. If your system can't deliver the music through all the other junk that goes with old recordings, then, IMO, you need a better system. Mostly though, when I hear those sentiments from someone, they aren't listening for the musical intent, they're listening for something that has nothing to do with the music.


Just my two cents worth.



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Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1370
Registered: May-05
Jan,

That was way more than 2 cents. I don't have the time today to respond as thoroughly as I would like as you make multiple great points. That said, it seems we're now talking again about the same things that were discussed in that long string you posted several years ago that talked about "live" music or something similar. I may need to revisit that string because the system I had then is quite different that what I've got now. Today's system is closer to live that where I was then.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17932
Registered: May-04
.

"Today's system is closer to live that where I was then."



OK, tell me how. What does your system do or not do that you feel brings you closer to the music and a live performance experience?



Take a fairly simply piece of music, Dak. Try John Hurt's "My Creole Belle" for starters; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aabc8ZK6bxU

His fingerstyle playing is relatively simple on this song while sounding far more complex than what his fingers are actually doing. This is largely due to his use of synchopation which places notes "off" the beat. The song is in 4/4 time, so four beats per measure is what he's playing and, in this case, he sticks fairly close to maintaining that rhythm throughout the song though with typical John Hurt flourishes. Try counting the beats along with his thumb notes, that's where the beat lies in this style of playing. The synchopation occurs in the melody line which is loosely played by his fingers on the (top three/highest tuned) E-B-G strings of the guitar.

So follow his thumb strikes mentally as they occur and count the 1-2-3-4 thumb struck beat within the song. What you'll hear at first is 1-and-2-and ... with the finger plucked synchopated melody notes coming on the "and" between each beat played by his thumb on the bass strings. This is an alternating bass line meaning you'll hear Hurt's thumb bounce between the sixth string and the fourth string for most of the song. For now, focus just on the thumb strikes which are playing the 1-2-3-4 beat.

Once you have that under your belt, try to determine which beats Hurt emphasizes with just a bit more force than others. Normally, a player such as Hurt will put their emphasis on either the 1 and the 3 beats of each measure or on the 2 and the 4 beats. Hurt does not keep strict emphasis in this song but you should be able to pick up on the idea that he is striking certain bass notes with his thumb and putting slightly more emphasis on pairs of beats throughout the song. Give a listen.

This song is typically played in the key of C Major or G Major both of which are "happy" sounding keys where the keys of F or D are a bit darker or denser sounding. Hurt liked to play in G Major due to the key's ability on guitar to allow his stylistic flourishes to fall at easy to reach locations. The song here sounds more or less to be in the key of G Major which means the chords are going to be a simple I-IV-V chord progression of G Major-C Major and D Major and then a return back to the I chord (what's called the "tonic" chord).

You'll hear this sort of I-IV-V progression in lots and lots of songs from old timey acoustic blues to many of the rock songs you and I would have listened to in our younger days. What that progression accomplishes in any key is the fulfillment of a listener's expectations. We've become so accustomed to the sound of that three chord progression that we simply accept it as the norm from which other songs can depart. The I chord - the G Major "tonic" in this case - is home base. It's where the listener feels safe and secure. As the music moves through the three chord progression the sound of the music moves further and then further again away from that home base of G Major. As the listener goes away from their safe spot, the G Major, there will be "tension" built up by the sound of the IV and V chords. This is what fuels 90% of modern music written in the 12 note Western scale system over the last 150 years.

Therefore, as you listen to most of the music you'll have in your collection, you'll hear the same sounds though not always in the same key. Some music will have more tension and some will have less tension. But whenever the player has introduced chords which move away from the tonic chord, the listener will begin to feel the need for that home base safety. The most common way to play this I-IV-V progression then is to reach the V chord which will have the strongest sense of "insecurity" and then return quickly to the I chord, the G Major (when the song is in the key of G major). Always think "tension" and "release", that's what the vast majority of your music will follow as a musical line. "Tension" meaning at times real tension as in an uneasiness and most often meaning that sense of moving away from the safest sounds we expect in this key. The I chord, the safest sound, is typically where a song will begin and where it will end.

Even if at this point you cannot detect which chords are being played or the key of the song being played, listen for those moments when the chord changes. A I-IV-V progression doesn't go that simply through the chords, there's a format called the 12 bar Blues which lays out rather common movements using those three chords. But always know when the player reaches the V chord, where the strongest "tension" exists, there will inevitably be a return to the I chord's safety as home base if the song is to sound "resolved". So at the least, listen for that release of tension or fulfillment of aural expectations. It occurs every few measures as the song repeats itself in an A-A-B phrasing.

If you still don't grasp the concept of "tension and release", pick up your guitar and tune it. Play an inverted "L" shape of single notes beginning with the open sixth string which is E. Your inverted "L" will be the open sixth string, the open fifth string and, finally, the second fret of the fifth string. Play just that much and, when you reach the B on the second fret of the fifth string, you should perceive this "tension" of an unresolved progression. The sounds you've made with those three notes will sound unfinished until you return to the "tonic" or "root" note which is your open sixth string E. So you'll now play E-A-B-E, a common I-IV-V-I progression. Now the sound should appear to be finished or stable rather than the instability of stopping on the B (the V note). Those are the sounds you want to hear in Hurt's playing.

If you want to hear unresolved music, play New Age. One reason you hear New Age as a relaxing journey is the chord progressions never really resolve themselves in the same way Hurt's song will. Tensions are kept to a minimum by playing chord tones closely related to the tonic (and using the "modes" mentioned in the Garcia article) and the closer you remain to your home base, the less unsettled you, the listener, will feel. Eventually, the New age composition will end and when it does it typically follows the common convention of using the I chord as the last chord of the song thereby signalling to the listener they are home and safe again. While much of what occurs in "jazz" will break or more rightly develop from that I-IV-V theme, you will typically find you can feel the same safe return to the tonic as the performer's move though the song. For now at least, learn that sound of home base and relaxation of tensions or the fulfillment of expectations. No matter how the player gets there or what genre of music they are playing, you should virtually always hear that final move back to home base.

A few songs will end on an "unresolved" chord, which is more often than not a V chord with a flatted seventh note or what's called a "Dominant Seventh". By altering the V chord slightly, the listener senses even greater unease in the structure of the song. By leaving you hanging with the V7 chord sound, you should feel the song has left questions about how the themes of the song have been or can be resolved.

So let's have you just try counting beats, perceiving the strongest pair of beats in a measure (typically, either the 1-3 beats or the 2-4 beats) and learning to recognize the build up of tension and the resolution of tension found in the simple I-IV-V chord progression. You should be able to hear these sounds in the majority of "popular" music songs you have in your collection.

OK?


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Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1371
Registered: May-05
Jan,

Can do. I am just finishing up a most of a week where I've been buried and that should end by close of business today, which means I can pick up my guitar again and play a little. But, before I do, I'll try out your experiment or try it and play a little in between. It's very slow going at this point as the fingers aren't nearly near callused.

Of interest, at UCLA, I spent 2 semesters in a jazz class, Prof. Tanner's class - Kareem Abdul Jabbar, then Lew Alcindor, frequented the class - his dad was a jazz musician. Anyway, I digress - he took us through every age of jazz from beginnings to 70s and taught us some fairly basic concepts involving musical styles and various systems leading up to Monk, Parker and guys who seriously changed the way jazz was played.

What you're asking is tickling some of those old brain neurons that haven't been tickled in years. This should be fun and I'll spend some time Friday night and over the weekend playing.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17933
Registered: May-04
.

OK, Dak, if you're up for this, here's a little simpler song to begin with. Here's Clapton playing "Alberta Alberta" in C Major; http://www.eminence.com/pdf/Eminence_2014_Guitar.pdf

And here's Stephan Grossman teaching "Corrina Corrina" in C Major; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Em6DLGmPfc

Same song, different words and different players. In both videos you can see where the chord changes occur. In C Major the I-IV-V progression is C Major, F Major and G Major though you'll hear that Dominant 7th being used in the song. It's a slow song so it's relatively easy to count the beats. Grossman plays an alternating bass line with his thumb with little change in emphasis for the purposes of the lesson. Clapton plays the emphasis beats. Once again, listen for the beats and count them at first, listen for the emphasis beats and pay attention to the chord changes and how the song sounds "resolved" when either player returns to the I chord which is C Major here.

Listen and make comparisons between the two styles of playing the same song. Do your best to ignore anything the hifi is doing and simply pay attention to the music.



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Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1373
Registered: May-05
Jan,

Tried the experiment and although I'm not fully certain that I understood what I was experimenting with, I certainly could follow chord changes and the chord progression and hear the way the song progressed or resolved, not sure exactly how to express that.

I played it on my computer system, which isn't even close to low fi, but the chord changes and progression were easy to follow, even if I can't play them worth a darn yet.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17936
Registered: May-04
.

Good, now transfer that to your system. And listen to the music, not the hifi. This time pay attention to the musical differences between the two levels of quality coming from the electronics. That's where this is headed, musically a low bit rate will have "holes" in the music due simply to the low sampling rate. Don't listen to the system, just pay attention to the music and determine what you are hearing from one system vs another beyond the obvious ability of your bigger system to deliver a greater quantity and depth to the bass notes and so forth. You're not listening for quantity but for quality. Soundstage is not what you're paying attention to here. Is it easier to hear HOW Grosmann plays his version of "Corinna, Corinna"? What is it you're hearing from your system musically even when you begin with a low bit rate? Try comparing other examples of two versions of the same song and pay attention to HOW the music is played. Can you get any ideas why one performer would play this way and another play a different way? Does that give you any ideas of how to play the song in yet another way? Pay no attention to "the system" beyond its ability to portray the music. If the system is transparent to the input, the more you should be able to make these distinctions ... and others. If one system is more transparent than another, the ideas should flow from the music, not the hifi. Listening should be come a dynamic experience. not an observation of "depth" and then sitting there waiting for the next hifi thrill to come along.

Count the beats being played. One, two, etc. If there's synchopation or a non-conventional time signature, count that. One-and-uh, two-and-uh, etc. Listen for those emphasis beats and determine where they reside in any performance. Listen for triplets and how they are played. Vibratos are unique to a player, pay attention to the waggling finger or wavering breath output. Really put your focus on understanding how the player is using the tools they have at their disposal to make the music flow from here to here to here moment by moment. It has nothing to do with the static value of a "wide soundstage". Music is dynamic. Pay attention to the changes occurring along the way.



I can't tell you how to listen, Dak. To either the music or to your hifi. You decide what's important to you and that's what makes up your priorities. However, when you immerse yourself in audio-speak, you tend to listen for audio-speak terms. If that is where you end up, that's your choice. As I said, there will always be another piece of audio gear that is written up in terms which make you want to experience that piece of audio. Why? Because this amp imparts an "inner glow" to the music maybe. Or because that pre amp delivers music with a soundstage unlike you perceive from your present system. Whatever it may be that's driving your decision, your present system will be inadequate. Some would argue that's the very reason for subjective audio reviews. To always keep the buyer hungry for new.

I don't often agree with John Atkinson's evaluations of audio gear because he and I have somewhat different priorities. Yet, one of the most insightful comments I've read from any audio reviewer came from JA and they weren't about a piece of audio equipment. At a CES (I think it was) he wrote about a performer and her musical imagination. Atkinson is a musician and made a living as a working musician for several years. He plays regularly so he is aware of how music is created. His comment was something along the lines of, "It's not that I can't play the notes she plays. It's that I can't imagine playing the notes she plays." THAT!, IMO is how you listen through your system. When the music can leave you dumbstruck, then you are moving in the right direction. Do that and I think your equipment decisions will no longer be what you described as frustrating.

An audio retailer has hopefully put together a system of parts which complement one another. That system expresses what they think is important. Do they think the system is important? Or, the music? Do you want to stay and listen to another album? Or, have you heard what the system can do and you're done? Take away one part and move it to your room and now you have a different system. Frustration sets in because you're still hearing the same bottlenecks you had before you made the change. Go listen in another store and you are relying on your audio memory to say which system has the wider soundstage. Now you are climbing on the merry go 'round of describing components as being "cool" or "muddy" or "thick" or "lacking depth" and so on and so on. What does any of that mean? If you don't know what "warm" means, why use the term? And, most importantly, why listen for it? Ho Hum. What's the music sound like? Does it strike a chord of interest? Or, just exist there as a bunch of sounds? A local audio shop tells me their stuff is "accurate". If that's what they want to sell, fine, but it's also musically boring. I'll take inaccurate and the system that keeps me up at night listening to one more album.



Can you pick out one instrument and determine whether they're playing in 3/4 time rather than 6/8 time? Don't know the difference? That's what search engines are for. Can you isolate that one instrument to follow the chord progression? Is the chord structure a simple I-IV-V? Or, has the musical selection made by the player(s) moved the music to a I-ii-V? Or, is there a relative vi minor chord in there? Don't know the difference? Use your search engine. Educate your ears and your mind. You probably won't know what chords are specific in terms of this in any key but just follow the musical line. Just let the music take you where the performer wants to go.

My experience is most audiophiles don't actually understand music. If you don't understand music, then you listen for the more obvious values of imaging and soundstage and depth. Those values though are generally not related to the musical performance. Listen in mono, the music is still there but the hifi is not. If the music changes when you throw the mono switch, why? What's the system doing to the music? Yes, on occasion a recording is using the ability of the system to become a part of the musical experience. DSOTM is better with a good system. Bernard Hermann (http://www.discogs.com/artist/164279-Bernard-Herrmann) often arranged the instruments in unconventional seating patterns and included odd instrumentation to create "an atmosphere". Compositions such as "The Planets" are a more fulfilling experience when the instruments come from a "soundstage". However, you should be able to understand the music without any of those hifi oriented additions. Largely, if you take these values away from the audiophile, they won't listen to the recording. More often than not, the musician and the "music lover" won't care. One boss I had at a store was a jazz and symphonic drummer. He didn't care about the equipment at all and owned his speakers because they fit along side the fireplace. He was perfectly satisfied with that. At times he would drive me nuts because he would stand behind a client while I was playing a LP and jingle the change in his pocket to the beat he was hearing. He was simply listening to the music and letting it move his imagination.

Most audio sales people don't understand music. They are, therefore, reduced to selling you the soundstage and depth and the lips parting details. I would say you will have a very different experience in the audio salon's auditions if you say to the sales person, "I can follow the chord progressions with greater ease here. Did you hear that change from the Dominant V back to the I? Great stuff!", or, "Motian's cymbals just pull me into the music and mess with my mind when he's hitting like that, just a slight bit behind the beat LaFaro is setting down", or "WOW! that bent note starts and stops just like I would play the note, the slide to the B flat is terrific. I can hear just what he's up to in the music." Those are qualities which are integral to the musical performance and they are what will make the music say "this" or say "that". They are what will be different about this recording vs that recording, this performer vs that performer.



You are probably aware of the concept of music as a language. Think of it in that manner. Think of the many ways you could take a simple statement such as, "You're happy", and turn it into a message that has extremely unique intentions. If you go up at the end, the words become a question. If you say them flatly, you might express disappointment or boredom. If you go down at the end, you might be unhappy. Music and musicians use the same ideas to make a musical language the listener responds to. What are the language differences between the two versions of Corinna? How is the player using the language of music to make a different statement? Listen and think and, if need be, for the first few tries, write down your own ideas of what you are hearing in the music. Not the hifi, just the music.

If you get lost or distracted by something the hifi does, go back to the basics of counting time and isolating the beat. How is the player using the beat? Can you follow the beat and possibly hear a chord change occurring off the beat? Nothing fancy and nothing you need a great education to do. Can you perceive the communication between players using just the beat? Can you pick up how a vocalist such as Elvis or Sinatra uses phrasing to play with the music and the meaning of their words? Does the music swing when it should swing? What is making it swing? All very basic stuff, Dak, barely scratching the surface of listening.

Put the audio reviews down and pick up those articles which delve into an artist's work. Read interviews with musicians to see how they think about their music. If you read about the influence of another style or musician, take a little time out to see if you can hear what was referred to. Just pull up, say, a walking bass line from this song on your computer and then make a comparison to what you hear from your system. Many classical compositions were written as a response to certain situations or conditions present at the time. Read a review or a synopsis of the composition before you listen and pay attention to how the music expresses those ideas.

That's the start, Dak. Just get away from listening to a bunch of boxes. They are not the music. Think about what you want to know about music and then use your system as a tool to explore that idea. That's really the point, your system should be used as a tool to explore the music and not as an end to itself.

You start with the basics of following the beat and grow from there. And learn how to create music on your guitar even if you can't imagine playing the notes your system is reproducing. You can't play it if you can't first hear it. Play what you're hearing in your head, that's where the music exists. Your system is only a tool to help you hear more.



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17937
Registered: May-04
.

Dak, put some music on your system and sit off center. Sit someplace where the soundstage isn't what you think of as a proper audiophile "soundstage". Turn your back on the system. Raise the volume a little and listen from outside of the same room where the speakers sit.

What are you hearing?


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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3161
Registered: Oct-07
When I do that with my Maggies, it sounds LIVE. Especially solo instruments.

When my sub was on the left, corner loaded, my DEN, however, had a big bass 'bump'. Relocating the sub to the right, NOT in a corner, fixed that issue without hurting bass in the rest of the room.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17938
Registered: May-04
.

OK, so, what's "LIVE" sound like to you, leo?
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3163
Registered: Oct-07
Without getting all touchy-feely, 'live' sounds like the guy is in the other room.
Timbre is correct. Pace feels right. Dynamics on a proper recording are preserved. I hear about the detail I'd hear if the performer were in the other room.

This is mainly for solo recordings. classical guitar like John Williams and Solo Piano. I have a recording of Gershwin playing Gershwin on Piano Rolls transribed to a yamaha clavinova 'player' piano. Quite the live 'feel' to it, which is preserved well, even when listening from the kitchen when I'm on KP.

Large Orchestral works, not so much! Scale is off. (size, not the stuff covering fish or the range of notes played)

Blues Harp is particularly 'visceral' I just got the Paul Butterfield Blues Band 'East West', an early work, but still and all, the BEST of its type.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17939
Registered: May-04
.

Do you have specific qualities you listen for which are related to the "how" of a performance? As I mentioned, vibrato is unique to a performer and no two players will have an identical sound to their finger touch or vocal technique. Sinatra was one of the best at phrasing. Are you paying attention to values such as that? Or, is your listening more a matter of the whole - a "live feel" to the music - rather than the individual parts?


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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3166
Registered: Oct-07
Valid question.
I suppose when listening to John Williams classical guitar, I listen for his, maybe defects?, as well as 'the notes'. You can hear his fingers slide as he doesn't quite release one chord before going to the next�.you hear that little detail.

At other times, even listening to the Sirus/XM feed on the small dish, I love the COMBINATION of instruments and rythmic interplay, this while listening to some of the Jazz feeds.

I understand about the unique phrasing and vocal technique of Sinatra, and frankly, sometimes, it can feel a little forced, if that's the right word. When it was released I heard 'New York' so many times, I could just SCREAM when I hear it now!

And, as for recording quality? It can go either way. Some old recordings make me listen to the music. Some are boring and I switch stations. But I also appreciate a recording which, if done right, can feel more like 'surround sound' with an enveloping feel. At those times, I KNOW why I love Maggies. I think the extra clarity in the bass I got by turning DOWN the bass to the mains speakers helps lots. A standup bass line is now Very Clear, fast and detailed. While the highs have benefited from being less��phasey, a problem which unsettled me with the 'd' amp.

I enjoy NOT taking the music apart, though. The 'wash' of sound of the best recordings which are both technically fine in the studio/recording aspect, as well as fine, nuanced, performances, wind my clock. As I noted before, a good Blues Harp recording makes my day.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17941
Registered: May-04
.

Here in Dallas we have several harmonica "festivals", leo. A dozen or so players, usually with their bands, and a guaranteed ten hours of harp being featured. I've never attended, the very thought of ten hours of harmonica players trying to top one another makes my head hurt.

Harmonica is one of the more difficult instruments I've played. Just looking at it, it looks very simple; a diatonic scale that you blow and draw. What's difficult about that? The simplicity is what I think defeats most people. I find it's difficult to not sound like a thousand other harmonica players. Playing harmonica behind a vocalist is one tough job IMO and one that most players fail at. Try Ann and Steve; http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=ann+armstrong+and+steve+hughes+youtube&FORM= VIRE5#view=detail&mid=4DA7A59F733D22F6FD384DA7A59F733D22F6FD38 They're friends of mine and I took lessons from Ann for awhile. I think Steve is a great harmonica player.

I think "tearing the music apart" is not listening for pleasure. I may do some tearing if I'm trying to figure out a piece but, otherwise, I'm taking the parts and putting them into a whole. Even a solo player like John Hurt has "parts" to their music. His thumb is acting as the rhythm section with a steady thumping beat while his fingers are playing the melody line normally covered by several individual performers. Here's "Spike Driver Blues", an interesting tune since there are no chord changes in the song; http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=misissippi+john+hurt&FORM=VIRE4#view=detail& mid=E309301D97E70D8A22BBE309301D97E70D8A22BB Despite the various finger shifts and the movement in the rhythm and melody line the entire song is played with only a first position G major chord. I'd say give a listen to "the parts" and pay attention to how they fit together. Thumb on the root note and then the fifth interval note (a I-V) and the fingers on the harmonized notes of the chord. (Actually, Hurt tends to play a bit of a brush stroke on his bass line rather than a straight forward, single note, thumping bass line with his thumb hitting the bass side sixth string first and then lightly adding in the higher pitched fifth and fourth or the fourth and the third strings.) It's an "alternating bass" he plays with his thumb so the thumb strokes move between the sixth and fourth strings for most of the song. A fourth string "E" is played on occasion which gives a bit of a relative minor sound to the song keeping it somewhat mournful despite the bounce in the beat. John Lee Hooker uses similar techniques with many of his one chord songs. Yet, listen to Hooker when he has a backing band and they are playing the chord progressions and the pentatonic scales related to the key. There, the sound of the group is expansive rather than focused down on only Hooker and his guitar. That's more or less how I pull music "apart" and reassemble it in my head.

I follow the beat - first and always - and my systems have to be transparent to that beat and it's movement and momentum. Either the beat is moving the performers or the performers are moving the beat. Listening to a tight group such as The Dead I hear the group as a whole flittering around "the beat" like a moth around a lamp; lots of small parts going in multiple directions at times and swirling around as a unit at others, never quite touching it but always drawn to it as a touchstone. Listening to Count Basie, I hear some of the most wonderful use of the beat as a tool and as the life's rhythm of the performance. Players move around the beat, play with it and nudge it one way or another while always paying attention to where the other players are going with it. It's almost a tactical game of who has the beat and where will they take it, who will they hand it to and where will they go with it when I listen to the best of the swing bands. Alberta Hunter sort of beats it up and makes the beat submit to her. Doc Watson, with his stiff wrist style of playing, plays with a beat you could set a watch to. Yet, listen to his playing and he's often using those same blues techniques as John Hurt. His enjoyment is contagious and comes through the system as are his moments of sorrow on his first albums after his son was killed in an accident. John Hartford and Arlo Guthrie, both just have a heart that beats to a musical rhythm; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uZ4_5dgfs0

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=arlo+guthrie+train+they+cal+new+orleans&FORM =VIRE3#view=detail&mid=2F27FEEDC84A8809172E2F27FEEDC84A8809172E

Marty Stuart named his current band The Superlatives and they certainly are that. Listen to the parts melt into one sound but spend a moment paying attention to his back up guitar player; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDIJ-3hGL2A (That big Martin Stuart is playing is playing is Hank William's original D45. It was purchased by Johnny Cash and given as a present to Stuart when he was married to one of Cash's daughters. That's the sound of a pre-war Martin worth about $500k.)

Marty Robbins simply had the smoothest parts of anybody; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezJkRDQmL2Y

Sister Rosetta Tharpe had parts that were taken from gospel yet foreshadowed rock and roll; http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=sister+rosetta+tharpe&FORM=VIRE1#view=detail &mid=30B6470B2B09998AAB5630B6470B2B09998AAB56 She was an early influence on Elvis who would later take his gospel beat to a new landing site; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZzvF1nZCeo


That's a great collection of parts, leo.


Harmonies are multiple parts which create one whole all the while staying to the side and behind the star. Harmony vocalists are individual performers who at their best are weaving between being one sound and then moving apart to emphasize their individual contributions. The Jordanaires, the Mills Brothers, dozens of those people standing behind the star are parts which I listen to for their contributions.

I'm not much on what passes for "detail" nowdays. I pay attention to nuance; a bent note and how it's done, a vibrato, a lilt to the striking of a note and how the playfulness of the performer is evidenced. I have my Sinatra favorites and, I suppose, if you're not a Sinatra fan, he sounds as if he is forcing it at times. That's mostly in his elder years when he'd sung the same songs for fifty years and 250 nights a year with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays. A young Sinatra in his prime is not forced, IMO, it's flowing and always thoughtful. There's never a doubt as to what is going through his mind as he sings; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkwdkUXQ1yo There had to be a special trick to playing behind him at that point in his career.

Then there are the players like T-Bone Walker who play on the edge of everything for their entire life. A friend was a roadie for him for a few years and says his band simply never knew what to expect at any moment. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=96761445 The parts simply came together through his will power.

Yep, I listen to parts.



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17942
Registered: May-04
.

Most all of those musical examples are presented in MP3 format. If you have the opportunity to hear them in a higher resolution format, I would greatly encourage you to take the opportunity to not only hear some great music but also compare again the differences between formats and systems. Most are probably available as higher resolution downloads for minimal cash.

Most of the songs are also examples of standards covered by other performers. Try a few other player's versions of these selections and make some musical comparisons.



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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3167
Registered: Oct-07
WAY back in the mid/late 70s, when I first started moving around SoCal, I had a buddy who was a good drummer. He played with Kirk the Cowboy and several others in a band called Diamond REO. (note: There IS NO Diamond Rio. The band of THAT name is a perversion) REO stands for Ransom E. Olds (Think Oldsmobile) and was the name of a very popular truck. Diamond was from the Diamond T truck and the 2 companies merged.
Anyway, Gully showed up one day with a buddy from school. Guy asksd me to put on some 'tunes' so I obliged. He stood in front of the stereo with his harp and Jammed for about an hour. He was GOOD. Never did catch the name.

Gully and the band ended up going to Alaska to play for the guys building the pipeline. I dont' think they made .02$ between the costs and drinking.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17944
Registered: May-04
.

I'd guess the harp player wasn't listening in the same manner as you were. Did you ask what he was hearing that inspired his performance?

How good was the system he was listening through?


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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3169
Registered: Oct-07
System was, to be charitable, AWFUL.

I grew to HATE the speakers (Fisher) and later got rid of the Pioneer SX-727 receiver, which would NOT stay on FM station center.
I kept the Duel 1209 TT.

My first 'better' system was a Kenwood Integrated still seeing service with my Nephew as a Guitar amp! and a pair of RSL speakers which you (Jan) might be familiar with from your SoCal days. The RSL 3600 were JBL 4311 copies.

At some point I sold the RSLs with the stands I made and bought my FIRST panels, some MG-1s which I had for 20+ years and a rebuild at the factory.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3171
Registered: Oct-07
Yes, the Harp player was in his own 'zone'. No question about it. His improv around the main melody thread was pretty darn good for a 'walk on'. Too bad the rest of the band wouldn't give him his own 'break'!

You know, most of my listening is while doing 'chores' around the house, and as such I do not mind the quality of the feed being only 32khz / mp3 160 level or so. I figure this is about how PERFECT FM would sound if you had a better than 'average' tuner.

I KNOW it's 32khz since NONE of the indicators I have on my DAC light up which is ONLY the case at 32k. I now use the DAC on the Parasound P5 for the small dish feed. This way, I retain the '1 button on/off' of the logitech remote for ease of use and don't really sacrifice anything to the better DAC of the DacMagic+ I use for CD listening and feed from the confuser with ALAC files.

A proposed upgrade would be an experiment with the Emotiva BT Dongle. If it mates with my DAC, I'm golden. And at 1/2 the cost of the $100 Dongle from CA! (what a rip)
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17945
Registered: May-04
.

Then you're listening to a less than perfect soundstage quite often. I can see why the panels appeal to you in that situation with their ambient rich sound.

I have mixed feelings about low bit rate recordings. First, it's the music that matters and, if that's where you go to get the music and that's the only place to find the music, then it's better to have the music than to insist it can only be of "X" quality. However, since the most consistent trend I've seen in audio over the decades has been toward greater convenience vs higher quality and BS over the music, I find the ability of a young listener to cram thousands of low bit rate songs on their portable player is bothersome. In my business I go into dozens of houses that either have no audio system of any sort visible or their best system is a dock with built in speakers and amp for their portable player. And yet, turntable and LP sales are supposedly increasing every year. I wonder just what these buyers' listening habits are. Sonic wallpaper isn't necessarily well suited to LP's and manual tables.

Regarding the system you had for the harp player, at least the table got the music off to a good start. It could certainly be a case of listening beyond the system's limitations. I can't say I'd want to have nothing better than a 727 receiver - no matter what the "vintage receiver" fans say - but there certainly were a lot worse receivers and other junk audio than that Pioneer. At the time, I'd say it's worst sins were being a receiver and being fairly bland when it came to music. I do remember its tuner being not very good. Today, "perfect" FM doesn't exist in most cities. I have my Mac MR71 (that I don't use because FM is so bad here in Dallas) and I've sold very good tuners and heard several Marantz 10B's with excellent antennas and I can say they are some of the best sources I've come across when the station was interested in quality. Of course, the antenna is the key but no station I know of outside of the NorthEast US does live programming today. Back when I had just moved to Dallas, the local classical music channel broadcast live from the symphony hall. There were weekly broadcasts from NYC and its was fairly easy to get a "live" music situation on your tuner. The only "live" broadcast I can count on nowdays is "Prairie Home Companion".

As a salesperson I had the attitude of finding the good aspects of a system and working within its limitations. I remember selling a $199 system in 1975 with house brand Pacific Stereo receiver, speakers and turntable with a house brand cartridge. Definitely low end but better than a department store system with fold out speakers and at times what the customer could afford to spend. Pacific as a company didn't get into a name brand receiver and table for at least twice the price. I sold that $199 system at least twice a week because it had some musical value IMO. The other salespeople would step the customer up to junkier speakers IMO that had a spiff to them or would simply refuse to sell anything that "cheap". They never listened to the system so I doubt they ever saw anything but a limited spiff in their sales when a customer was on a limited budget. To my ears that little system got the beat right and didn't f*** with the music so it was better than most of the alternatives I had to offer. That system didn't even pretend to be something it couldn't be. One manager was po'd with me when I would sell it because I wasn't pushing the "right" house band stuff but, IMO, that was his problem. The customer came in looking for a music playback system and that's what I tried to provide to them. Listening was all it took and demonstrating the system's better points to the client.

On the other hand, I can remember when I had a fairly decent system for the mid 1980's and I couldn't really listen to a SRV album. One of SVR's techniques was to use two amps for his Stratocaster with one played basically clean and the other cranked into serious overdriven distortion. Listening to the album through my system, I just couldn't get beyond the seriously overdriven amp. No dynamics, no soundstage, just a flat blast of distortion across my front wall, no bass and no beat the recording had been pieced together by multi-tracking and overdubs used in most studio recordings of the day. It was just about everything I didn't want in a recording. I could just feel my shoulders creeping up around my ears whenever I tried it and it eventually worked its way to the very back of my LP stack.

One night I went over to a friend's apartment and he played the album on a fairly cheap rack system with the speakers generally and horribly set up for sound quality - away from all the walls and almost centered in the room sitting up slightly so the paper cone "tweeters" were firing over my head. SRV had never sounded better to me than on that system. I made a comment to the effect it took a cheap system to play a garage band and make it listenable - which I immediately regretted saying. But it became another lesson in hearing what there is to offer from any system and putting the music ahead of the system. At times the ability of the system to honestly portray the music is a detriment rather than a benefit. All of the warts, edits and overdubs simply stood out too much on my system. There aren't many albums I couldn't listen to on my systems but that SRV LP never worked its way back into my playlist. But, despite their reps and their influence on other players, I still am not a fan of SRV or Hendrix.

At the time I began selling audio I was working in the largest Advent dealer West of the Mississippi and the original Large Advent was the best selling speaker in the country. It was being sold against JBL's consumer versions of the 4311, the L100, which cost several times the price of the Advent. That was the most typical comparison I was making for customers though, the Advent or the L100. The 4311 was a "studio monitor" and, while the L100 was not an exact copy of the monitor, it's sound was not that far off from the pro version. The L100 was the proto-typical "West Coast" sound and the Advent was the refinement of the "East Cost" sound of the day. Ying and yang doesn't begin to compare the two.

The Advent had the original paper dome tweeter it had been designed to use in 1967 and by the mid '70's many critics were complaining about the obvious roll out of the tweeter above 14kHz. Soft domes were still several years away and metal domes were only an unapproachable ideal. But, remember, the L100 had a paper cone tweeter with really beamy highs. Kloss, the Advent chief, displayed a pair of Advents at several CES's with no roll out designed in and paired with a typical cartridge of the day, a Shure M91. No one thought the nekked Advent sounded better or was more musical than the consumer model. Of course, that was in the days of Stereo Review and Len Feldman and Julian Hirsch printing measurements and claiming everything was a good value if it measured well, in other words "flat". Kloss had made his point but, how many people listened? The Advent went on to sell in huge numbers for another few years based on its musical performance while the JBL's and so forth sounded far less musical and appealed - in the Midwest, at least - to the buyers listening for "tight bass, clear mids and clean highs".



I suspect your harp playing guest may have been listening beyond the limitations of the system to find the music. He probably could have done the same with that $199 system I used to sell. It's in the listening and not the system when it comes down to brass tacks. I have many times recalled the symphony conductor client of mine with the Pioneer rack system and speakers about 35' apart. He always said he didn't need better, he knew what to listen to in the music.



.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3173
Registered: Oct-07
'Listening beyond the limitations of the system' was not hard to do. Anything with musical value was done a major injustice.
I grew to really dislike the Pioneer and 'they' were unable, in 2 or 3 attempts, to fix the abrupt station drift problem. You know me, I'm near-obsessive about ventilation and in no WAY was that receiver allowed to 'cook', being always out in free air.

I personally LUSTED after the original large Advent. They were real-priced and 'aspirational'. At least until I got the RSLs. They were the 'up-tweetered' 3600 model with a 1" DOME and much better HF dispersion than the 3300 OR even the JBL they were cloned from. If I owned 'em today, I'd REMOVE the tweeter and mid attenuation and replace with 2 or 3 position rotary switch and FIXED power resistors of some sort.
I got the RSLs WITH the Kenwood KA-7100 and they combo was pretty good. Later, the Kenwood drive my MG-1 panels until I bought the 'Cube'. These days, I've got OVER 3db headroom against the cube AND 3db RMS increase. But, the Parasounds are FAR more musical.

Before the RSL or Maggies, I had those AWFUL Fisher speakers. When I finally DESTROYED the midrange (too loud��.too long��too bad!) I bridged 'em out with power resistors of at least 10 watt rating. I think they sounded BETTER that way!

My first exposure to Magnepan was a real GobSmack. I took 'em home immediately for the 400$ ask (maybe too much?) and IMMEDiATELY had a buyer come over for the RSLs. They were 'room friendly' taking up a Fraction the real estate of the Panels while being more 'conventional'. I hope the buyer got YEARS of use out of 'em. Also, he junked out the stands I built to get 'em up off the floor and tilted back. If I were doing the project again, I wouldn't tilt em' back as much and would fill the lower portion of 'em with SACKRETE. Done Deal.

In my phono days, I had a run at various carts, too. I started with an Empire, quickly graduated to the Shure M91-ed level or perhaps one of the Pickering�.Not the V-15 type. When I went thru my 'installer' phase, I used the Grado almost exclusively. Inexpensive and terrific stuff! A good match for the budget TTs of those I helped.
Later, I bought what was THE revelation in carts. I bought an ORTOFON LM-20 which was a unitized cart/headshell and was SO LIGHT I had to remove the counterweight and replace it with a lighter weigh which came WITH the cart. This was so cool, it was like buying ALL NEW records with just better EVERYTHING. I spent a bundle on it, too. Some kind of 'whim' purchase!

My down the street neighbor, I'll call him Cletus, LOVES his vinyl. And he had the WORLDS WORST player for it. No matter. He'd sit out in his GARAGE and rock out to the oldies. Beer in Hand. I helped him install a new cart, balance it 'properly' (the nickel was swapped out for a DIME) and confirm the Robust Cable Connections. IOW 'Does it work?' 'Yes'. 'Than good, let 'er rip!'
Cletus was a collector of almost ANYTHING. He bid on and bought my PEZ collection and wanted my Ancient (tube type) Zenith Trans Oceanic. No sale.
But he DID have a wonderful UNOPENED Vinyl Collection, many signed by the artist. He wouldn't TOUCH those.
I suggested and even SHOWED him an entry level system in the form of one of the entry level Rega or Music hall offerings (catalog picks) and speakers at the AudioEngine A5 level. No Sale. I'm sure he is still listening to that JUNKY system.

My brother is a DieHard JBL fan. Not even the fact that they've been bought and sold a bunch of times and now reside with the Harman Group disuaded him from Any Other course. Recently when he was looking for a new stereo for his house, he was at Guitar Center and spotted the JBL monitors. Why in heavens name would anyone want IN HOME speakers capable of 130db? How do they sound at less than bone-crushing levels? Dodged THAT bullet!

I worked at a local retailer here for about 2 months, last year. I couldn't bring myself to recommend Monster Cable. And the COMMISSION structure with CLAWBACKS if somebody came in later with the 'lower price guarantee'? I SOLD it in good faith. I got some good reviews from people who came back for me�..since I was pretty knowledgable. I even straightene out a few folks and made sense to them about Length of speaker wire run vs Power vs expectations. I tried to 'upsell' to at least 16ga since they were looking at 18 or even worse. I didn't want to go commission with the END of the Christmas Season looming, so I went on about my way. Decent coworkers, though, generally honest and hard working.

I live in an FM Free zone. I'm NORTH of San Diego and South of LA. So, I don't get good reception of EITHER. The hills don't help, either. It is against the CCRs to put up an antenna, and I don't know about fitting one WITH a rotor in my Attic!

More later, when I can organize my listening thoughts. I try not to intellectualize it too much. Whatever 'feels' good is the way I go. Sometimes vintage rock. Sometimes Jazz. Every once in a while, I'll go to the Latin end of the scale for some Carib stuff, like BV Social Club.
I just bought my MIL a Vicente Fernandez album and put that in my iTunes as both lossless AND mp-3.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1375
Registered: May-05
Jan and Leo,

WOW, you guys moved along ways without me. I'll need to catch up this weekend. I'm back from vacation, working long hours and trying to catch up at work. I'll be relaxing starting Friday for a week or so and catch up then.

But, I got this in email today which bears on what we've been talking about:

http://hometheaterreview.com/do-you-need-to-love-music-to-be-a-true-audiophile/
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17966
Registered: May-04
.

While the same question has existed for decades, I'm not really sure the answers provided have much to do with our conversation, Dak.

Loving music is not a requirement for owning high end gear. However, as I think you'll have deduced from my previous words, listening to music reproduced well is, IMO, an advantage of a better system.

You can own nice gear and not be interested in the music. However, if that's the case, why bother even turning the equipment on other than to see the pretty lights? You can look at it with any music playing.

You'll probably have an idea what you would be hearing because you'll have read every review of the gear before you made the purchase.
Actually listening to music played through the system is almost sure to be a disappointment to that buyer. If not today, soon.

I'll return to what I've said to many a client. Buy a hifi system and it will be outdated by the time you have it set up in your house. Buy a music system and music hasn't changed much over he last few hundred years.

You decide. I represent both types of systems.



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Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1376
Registered: May-05
Well, I'm finally caught up with Leo and you. WOW, a lot of ground covered and, as usual, I learned some things along the way. My system is sitting while I'm "half deaf." One of my hearing aids died and it's 10-21 business days to get it repaired and back, if I'm lucky,

Unfortunately, we start our symphony season this weekend and I've got only one hearing aid so I'll be missing part of the music but it will still be a nice evening. As for me, I'm afraid I don't analyze the music, "deconstruct it?" the way you do Jan, I haven't played instruments in years, my music theory was limited other than my jazz classes at UCLA and I am more interested in just spacing out and listening. I know that is typically your approach as well but I'm no where near your sophistication in what I'm hearing. For me, it either sounds good or it doesn't. If it sounds good, which usually means a lot of things - like I'm there, the beat is nice, the instruments sound lifelike and the music is involving, I'm happy. If it's an album that can't give me those things, it either sits or gets traded in on something else.

I don't have as many CDs as Art or probably you guys but I have a bunch of CDs. I don't have many country CDs and I have 1-2 operas and I have never gained an appreciation for opera. It just doesn't float my boat.

I seldom listen to music when I'm puttering around the house, Leo. Either I'm in the car, I'm in my 2 channel room or I'm at a live performance and I'm interested in listening to music and not much else. It's an escape. So, I'm back from vacations, back from work travel and ready to participate a little more, bring it on, Jan.

P.S. - got my broken "E" string fixed and I'm playing around again, very slow go for me.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17982
Registered: May-04
.

http://justinguitar.com/

Give Justin a try, Dak. It's by far the best free, on line source of instruction I have found. Start from the beginning and take the course as it exists. Even if you think you already know something being covered, it can't hurt to hear it explained in someone else's words or with new exercises used to cement it in your head and in your fingers. The forum goes with the lessons and will answer a lot of questions most people might have. At times it's good to have a discussion between several people all trying to figure out the same thing at the same time. And I'll be glad to help whenever I can. Enjoy the experience.


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Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1377
Registered: May-05
Jan,

Thanks for the link. That's a different guy than the one I've been using. The more the merrier and that will give me another viewpoint and some different exercises/lessons to try. Much appreciated.

Now, this weekend to the symphony with only one hearing aid. That should be interesting. I'm trying to decide whether to leave it out and miss the higher notes or leave it in and have everything half off. What a choice. LOL
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