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Archive through May 23, 2004

 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 801
Registered: Dec-03
On April 25, on the "Receivers" thread Frustrated with NAD T762, Jan Vigne made what was probably intended to be a throw-away remark.

"As an aside, am I the only one who thinks music almost always sounds better when you listen just in stereo. How old I feel."

My reply was as follows. I start this thread with this repeat post, to try to open up the discussion.


I thought that, too, strongly, and was extremely reluctant to get into all this HT business. I am from the "old school" and hated the whole idea of active subs - speakers should be full-frequency range, and introduce no colouration, n'est-ce pas?

But my family wanted movies, and I baulked at the price and quality of stuff being sold as all-in-one surround systems, knowing full well my stereo was miles better.

I was right.

Once you have a device to read 5.1 discs and amplification, you just use your old speakers. Speakers are still speakers, sound is still sound. And it becomes even more important that you can hear where it is coming from. The old virtues are the new ones, too. And inside 5.1 is 2.0, ready and waiting. Just as a good stereo system could also do mono.

About a year later, I come out the other end, discover DVD-Audio, and thank my family. The family is also delighted with the result, and discovered the old guy knew some things, since we have a system far superior to all-in ones in kids' friends' homes, and sometimes at much less cost.

As an unexpected spin-off, I have a renewed interest in listening to music, including in stereo, including my LPs. I have read this from a number of regular contributors here.

BTW some of the quality DVD-Audio recordings do not use the sub at all, and often not the center channel, either, for reasons stereo purists will see immediately. 5.0 or 4.0 recordings are not uncommon.

The problem with DVD-Audio is it gets filed under "Home Theater". We have a new category here under "Home Audio" for "DVD-Audio and SACD".

Nevertheless my NAD T533 DVD/CD player user's review, and DVD-Audio is under "DVD players" under "Home Video" (placed there by admin), so I try to link it from more relevant threads. The latest posts there have something about which music really benfits from surround reproduction. Some of it really does - greatly.

The answer to whether music sounds better in stereo is simple: it depends on the music
 

jan vigne
Unregistered guest
Jan Vigne
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2004 - 08:40 pm:

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John, you're correct that the format choice may depend on the music. The only comment I would add is I seldom hear a stereo (2.0) recording whether it be old, new or reprocessed mono (why do they do that?) that sounds that good to me when it is run through digital processing and multiple speakers. I am probably being an old stick in the mud but it almost always seems to detract from the music or at least not add anything. It seems to be similar to the idea for the original Bose 901. Amar Bose had evidence from studies done at MIT that 9/10 of what you hear in a concert hall is reflected sound. He set about building a speaker with one speaker on the front to send sound directly (approx. 1/10) at your listening position and 8 speakers on the sides and rear of the cabinet to send reflected sound (approx. 9/10)into the room. This was miltiplied times two for a stereo pair. This, of course ignored the fact that within your own listening room what you hear is predominately reflected sound. Instead of adding life to the music digitally created multiple sources seem to muddy things up to me. But my listening area is set up for a rather lively response that adds a sense of ambience. When I added SACD to the system last year I tried a few discs and found the resolution better but it reminded me quite often of the days of CD-4 quadrophonic sound where the mix down put you in the center of the band and even, sometimes, in the center of the guitar's stereo pick ups or the snares on a drum set. Sound, sometimes from the same instrument was coming from different parts of the room. Back in the 70's, when I was much more experimental with my entertainment enhancements, I found that occassionally interesting but now it bothers the P-diddle out of me. It's OK with "Dark Side of the Moon" but orchestral pieces and many live recordings don't work for me. As always the mix down is what will make the recording.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 816
Registered: Dec-03
Jan,

You wrote "I seldom hear a stereo (2.0) recording whether it be old, new or reprocessed mono (why do they do that?) that sounds that good to me when it is run through digital processing and multiple speakers".

I completely agree. In fact I would delete "seldom" and replace it with "never".

Following your post, I wrote a long essay about Blumlein pairs, where to put microphones, and what is wrong with the Bose mentality. And where to put Bose... Here is another long essay, instead.

Jan, your posts are hugely informative and stimulating, and send me off in too many directions.

I can even follow "(why do they do that?)" I have some Decca Eclipse LPs, "mono recording electronically reprocessed to give stereo effect on stereo equipment". They did it for the same reasons we now have Prologic and all these naff matrixed surround processing programs. In 2020 people will be saying "Prologic: why did they do that?" Briefly: Decca had a back catalogue of mono recordings, stereo was getting fashionable, and they hoped no-one would notice the difference.....

(My aside: one of my first LP purchases was a Decca "Eclipse" LP. I now have the same piece of music on DVD-A. In between, I have two Cd versions. Thrilled by the DVD-A, and with my LP interest rejuvenated partly by your throw-away remark "open the lid", I played the original LP, now almost exactly 30 years old. It is dire. Wonderful performance, LP still in good condition, good surface, good frequency response, "stereo effect" gives you the impression you have gone completely deaf in one ear. And do you know what? My receiver has NO MONO BUTTON. The only way to play those things was in mono.)

Trying to get back on the rails...

Jan, you know audio inside out. I am in awe of your knowledge and insight. But, as with one or two other experienced listeners who post here, I suspect - and forgive the presumption - you are still trying to filter out all the hype and gobbydegook surrounding home theater/home cinema. You know it is garbage, but I believe that you are accidentally throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Consider.

1. With four speakers, and you in the center of the square whose corners they are at, you have a stereo pair on each of the four sides. That is four stereo pairs. All the old rules apply; phase coherence if you can get it; full frequency response if you can get it; speakers angled inwards so you are listening on-axis.

2. Center speaker. On most recording you have to put up with it. "Audiophile" DVD-As often don't use it at all, even if they say "5.1" on the label. However, when used by a recording engineering who thinks his job is to be creative, the center channel does real damage to the sound stage.

3. The source. It has to be a true, multichannel recording. 4.0 is probably the best, but for marketing reasons, probably, 5.1 is now the norm (as in 2, some cunning labels quietly forget to put anything on the center and LFE channels). 6.1, 7.1 etc is total nonsense, and a marketing ploy.

4. What sort of performance do you wish to listen to? Here is the ancient dilemma, still with us. For many people, the engineer's job is to give you a sound which is exciting and interesting, but never existed in the real world. This is OK, it should not be made illegal. BUT..... if you wish to re-create, as accurately and faithfully as possible, the actual sound you would have heard had you been there at the performance, then DVD-Audio is HUGE progress. (I cannot speak personally for SACD).

5. If "approach to the original sound" is your goal, get a disc made by sound and recording engineers who had that objective themselves. I have about 12 DVD-As and it is clear there are going to be all the old problems again. I can suggest some cheap but very good "classical" DVD-As. Rock etc. is a bit more problematical because it is less likely there ever was an original performance. But not always. www.aixrecords.com might be a good multi-genre DVD-A label. I have yet to hear any, but have some on order. www.kaproductions.co.uk have done some great early DVD-A recording for Naxos (www.naxos.com), but now seem to have been supplanted by people who DO NOT KNOW WHERE TO PUT MICROPHONES (heard that before...?")

6. The heck with Bose. Your own room should be as close to anechoic as practicable. What you will get is the sound of the original performance, and it was not in your sitting room/ lounge, so try to cancel that out; it will only cause confusion. Soft furnishings etc.

7. The "sweet spot" is now determined by where your head is relative to the corners of the square, not the ends of a line. Start sitting right at the center, with the speaker delays to the same value, because the distance the sound travels to your head is the same. In practice you might have to delay the center a bit (but see 2): it is likely to be a bit closer. You can experiment a bit with altered delay values and listening positions, but you have to start somewhere. But remember, the essence of stereo positioning is phase. With stereo, you could sit almost anywhere along a line perpendicular to the one joining the two speakers, and intersecting them halfway. You cannot do that now. For your brain to resolve all the positions of the sources of sound, there is one fixed point in space where all the phases and amplitudes will be those you would have experienced IF YOU HAD BEEN THERE.

8. If you knew all that, apologies, and please say so. If you didn't, please give it a shot. Just put one something you are generally familiar with, close your eyes, and listen. And do, please, post back! Or maybe start a new thread. Or just an e-mail.

All the best.
 

Jan Vigne
Unregistered guest
Jan Vigne
Unregistered guest
Posted on Saturday, May 01, 2004 - 02:04 am:

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John A. You and I seem to end up doing a back and forth quite a bit. I think, when all is said and done, we are in agreement that the mix is the big deciding factor in the sound you can achieve. And always has been. I believe that is the old garbage in = garbage out. Since you are the only person I have seen use the term Blumlein pair on this site and you apparently know where that should be positioned in a concert hall I commend you. My real objection is to two channel recordings that are processed through the digital circuitry of an A/V unit and regurgitated out to 5,6 or 7.1 channels. (Being an old fogey I seldom hear that .1 that I'm impressed with. Too many are designed for explosions and car wrecks.) I too own many mono recordings from the original pressing and subsequent remixes and elctronically reprocessing all too often strip the music of its best qualities. The end does not justify the means. It comes down to what was the intent of the original artist/recording engineer and does any further processing by another engineer or my A/V reciever improve the music. My system is well set up for a system that has to exist in a communal location. Multiple speakers make for more compromises than a single pair where I can dedicate a space to the "music room". And if I have to choose between a space for my music and a space where everyone can watch videos and occassionally listen to music, I'll take the music room as my priority. So in the A/V room/system I probably don't have everything as "correct" as in my music room. Maybe that will change as multichannel reproduction improves and I aquire more good sounding discs that require more than two channels. But, as you seem to agree, I think I will find too many recordings where the center channel is unecessary but is (over)used to convince me I spent my money wisely on the extra speaker (which was the reason for all that reprocessing and ping pong games that were recorded in the late 50's and early 60's). I have expressed my opinion of the need for a center channel speaker in a different thread on this site and provoked some rather fierce responses. I am again unusual in my tastes as I set my center levels much lower than an SPL meter would indicate is balanced; so what, its my system and I prefer a wider spread across the front with just enough to bring the dialogue to the center but not call attention to "Hey, I've got a center channel speaker!!!" And with the surrounds I spend too much time listening to the speakers and not the music. Should I have direct radiators or maybe diploes. Or maybe bipoles? Should they be high or low? Rear wall or side wall? I've asked and never recieved what I thought was a satisfactory answer. "Well, for some recordings you will want a dipole and for others you will want a bipole that's why we've made our speaker switchable or you can have them be both, or neither, or switch back and forth in between." PUH-Leese! Just let me go back to adjusting VTA between each cut on a record and only playing one song off one side of an album. I know it's a hobby but so is listening to music. When I was selling I always kind of liked the guys who bought their McIntosh or Marantz systems twenty years before and had somebody come set it up and never did a thing to it except continue to buy records and tapes to play. Anyway, so far my response to the handful of SACD and DTS discs that I have purchased is I am underwhelmed, and I don't get the feeling DVD-A will change my opinion much. But, please everyone out there buy more of these discs and players because that is the only way things will improve. I will keep trying because the few that sound good are interesting though I don't feel I have been transported to a particular venue which I kind of thought was the goal of "the absolute sound".
 

Jan Vigne
Unregistered guest
Posted on Saturday, May 01, 2004 - 02:15 am:

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This site is learning that I'm long winded and is telling me to stop and listen to others. To finish my thoughts from above I will say, as you have, the engineers on the new recordings do not seem to know where a microphone (or two or even seven) should be placed. Rock and pop are back to the days of "Were these people even on the same contiinent when they layed down their tracks?". (OK, the Beatles weren't at the end but they got Phil Spector to make it all better.) And several of the classical pieces I have in multichannel would make a Duetsch Grammophone engineer from the 1970's envious with how many microphone locations there seem to be and how much channel riding is done in the mix down. It's amazing that a French horn and a piano can be the same size. Then could it sound better if I had purchased dipoles?
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 831
Registered: Dec-03
Posted on Saturday, May 01, 2004 - 03:35 am:
______________________________________________________

Jan,

Thank you. I have a response to every point. As you may have guessed, or maybe feared. ....

I am currently a bit manic about DVD-A, and must surely sound mildly deranged. I really did not think such progress was possible, not in one swell foop. The people I am most keen to compare notes with are long-term careful listeners, and you seem to be about numero uno at the moment. E.g. I can suggest exactly what to do about the dilemma of "serious listening" vs "family entertainment", and how to get the best of both, which is very desirable. Also some example of wonderful engineers discretely dumping the wretched center channel, while leaving "5.1" on the box so as not to lose sales.


 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 832
Registered: Dec-03
Not posted previously, but a first, draft response Jan's original post of April 28. All further comments welcomed.
__________________________________________

Jan,

I agree that a recording made in stereo 2.0 should played back that way. And I am still delighted with stereo. Hearing a individual instruments or performers arranged as if across a stage in front of me is a pleasure. What it allows is the isolation of individual sources in space. Any type of music benefits from hearing the individual parts, and how they fit togther. That is the essence of music, harmony, it reaches us at some deep level and moves us in a way that no-one can entirely account for, I think. There is also speech. Broadcast plays, chat shows, news etc - anything where people are communicating with each other - these also benefit.

If you start with the simplest assumption of a pair of microphones, placed where you, the listener, would be, the perceived positions of the sources of sound on playback is determined by both their relative amplitudes and phases from the two speakers.

So a sound source right in front of you has equal amplitudes from the two speakers and the same phase. One to your right will be re-created by more amplitude (volume ) from the right speaker, but also by the phase difference in the sound from that single source, caused by the greater time if took the sound to reach the left-hand microphone. Somehow or other the brain can take those millisecond delays and phase shifts from the sound reaching our two ears, which, in reality, are hearing only two loudspeakers, and apply its own processing. The result is a recreation of what we would have heard if we had been where the microphones were in the recording. It is like holography; you make the appearance of something three-dimensional, even when the information is only on a surface (two dimensions).

Most recording engineers use more than two microphones. For example, in the simple case of a round-table discussion on the radio, the each person speaking usually has one microphone, placed on the table in front of him. The sound engineer has to mix the lines to give a two-channel output that resembles what would have been obtained with just two microphones, in the right place. The result is usually a stereo broadcast where it sounds like you sitting at the table, listening to the conversation. Usually the chairman or whatever sounds as if he is sitting opposite you - this is just because the signal from the mike registering his/her voice is equal in amplitude on the two channels, and in-phase.

I get some stereo broadcasts these days by digital satellite. It is very interesting to switch between stereo and "matrixed" surround sound, and to listen to what is going on. It is quite clear that the sound engineers have taken considerable care with the phasing, in order to give you surround sound effects. E.g. in a panel discussion or stage show in front of a live audience: you are given surround that makes it sound exactly like you are a member of the audience. Even TV advertisements, fanfares announcing the news with the station's signature tune, etc, are very skilfully laid out so the voice is coming from in front, and there is, say an orchestra or something laid out behind you. The same is true on many two-channel videotapes. The surround sound effects are no accident. And in movies they are used to great effect, because they can re-create moving sources of sound, e.g a helicopter circling around, or whatever.

In music you do not usually have moving sources of sound, but it is not ruled out, and can be quite effective. There are many examples; marching bands, ceremonial processions, other things.

But even for musical performers sitting or standing in one place, which is the norm, what you can rebuild from surround sound is the sound of the room in which the recording took place - the reflections, mostly. You just cannot do that in stereo. And if the performers are actually located around you (and some music was written for that kind of performance) there is just no way to get back that experience from stereo.

The big mistake of the Bose approach, in my view, is that the reflected sound you hear at the performance cannot possibly resemble the reflected sound in your listening room. Maybe if you had your two speakers set up in a room of the same size and construction as the hall in which the performance took place, if might be possible to approach what Bose probably had in mind. But it is nonsense to think this can be done in the home. You are right, the Bose approach just muddies up good clear stereo positioning. If you take the Bose approach to surround sound, it is much worse.

To re-create a 2-D, surround sound stage, you need good, old-fashioned, directional loudspeakers, as phase coherent as you can get - even for "Surrounds". The ideal home listening room today would be anechoic: lots of soft furnishings can get close enough, probably. If your listening room has its own reflections, these will be competing with the recorded ones, and you will get a collision of two incompatible perceptions of the space you are in. It is stressful to get incompatible signals, the brain has to devote too much attention to trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

Genuine multichannel recordings (5.1 etc) give sound engineers much more control, and the effects in movies are now quite startling and add to the experience considerably. The effects in music, meaning reproduction of a real musical performance, are potentially very rewarding. The problem is the approach of the sound engineers. Mostly they do not seem to imagine they are even in the business of capturing a real performance. Some do, however. We knew that with stereo. But in fifty years of stereo there is still no clear decision between creating something arresting and synthetic, versus capturing a real event and reproducing it as accurately as possible.

From my limited collection of DVD-Audio discs, there are still the bad guys and the good guys, and a lot in between. The there are the clowns who may (or may not) understand full well what the medium will do, but for whom the first priority is to force their own interpretation onto the listener, getting in the way of the performance.

But the potential is there to do great things. We should not write off the medium, just try, as you put it, to "listen and learn".
 

Jan Vigne
Unregistered guest
I think, if this is to go any further, I would like to open this to the other responders (John A. and I being the bravest of the brave first responders) by asking a few questions of the listeners in the forum. In today's market place the predominant format for recording music is still a two channel stereo mix. In the same market the sales of two channel equipment has plummetted in the last few years as multichannel Home Theater gear has far outstripped the competition in market growth. Many stores here in the US don't (or barely) carry two channel equipment in stock. The "new" formats of SACD and DVD-A, after a half dozen years on the market, are still struggling to get a foot hold and loosing the war as retailers are pressed for display space. I've found quite a number of people who don't know and don't care about the higher resolution of another copy of "Abbey Road". Since the library of discs and the higher price means a "better" sounding disc will represent a relatively small portion of the music you own, what are your feelings toward the success and failures of the equipment and music industries. How do those of you who have invested a good deal of time and, probably, money justify your purchases of a medium that is at odds with the media you own. How many of you listen to a stereo recording in stereo and on what type of system (two channel or more)? Have we become a society where the $29 CD boombox is relevant? Is the Home Theater the only system in the house and if so do you listen to two channel recordings in five, six or more channels? If so, why or why not? What does it benefit a two channel recording to be played back in something other than two channel playback? And, as an aside, do you realize that if you play back two channel recordings in Dolby Pro Logic you are essentially recreating the same matrixed surround sound that was sold in the 70's as Sansui QS surround? Those of us who have been at this for a while might actually have a recording we purchased first as a stereo mix, then as a quad mix, then as a (replacement) stereo mix and now as as a different stereo remix and are looking at replacing it with yet another multichannel mix. That being the case, how far has the industry moved forward in the last four decades? I realize many of the responders in this forum weren't even a sparkle as they say back when Sansui was a well known and respected name in electronics but join in and tell us why you own the equipment you have. Not "I bought the Yamanon Acoustics SX-1000B (in silver face plate) because it kicked the butt of the ...". Why did you purchase a type of product such as stereo, multichannel, Home Theater, etc.. How do you feel about the music that is at odds with the industry? Are you satisfied that one compliments the other or what should change?
My feelings are Home Theater and video are still totally different than two channel music reproduction and I have separate systems for each (though the A/V has now pushed out the stereo to take over the family space and the stereo has had to find a niche in another part of the house). But when I listen to music on the A/V system it is almost always in stereo (and no, my A/V system does not have "church" and "disc" parameters). I have sold receivers that boasted the ability to reproduce the acoustics of thousands of venues, all in presets, and found them useless (if not intrusive) since my personal knowledge is of but a handful of spaces. I am a proponent of your cassette or DVD player having more buttons than all the other pieces in your system put together. I own pieces of equipment that are 40+ years old and have owned many pieces in my current system for more than fifteen years. But I had to replace my A/V reciever after less than ten years. Multichannel music recordings, for the most part, sound fake to me despite the better resolution of SACD and the like. Not all but many. I run my center and surrounds very low in level and other than the benefit for most video sources I don't care for the center speaker in music reproduction unless it is very well (read mildly) treated in the mix. Am I missing something?
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 846
Registered: Dec-03
"I think, if this is to go any further, I would like to open this to the other responders".

Thank you, Jan. I agree.

I have things to say in response to your last posts, but will not reply, here, before at least three other people have a go, first.

Everyone,

Jan understands the technology, the industry, and people, with a long perspective and an insight that I envy. He seems about as puzzled as I am. Our differences are small.

"Sansui. Floats likes a butterfly; stings like a bee".

You do not have to remember that in order to qualify for posting on this thread.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 208
Registered: Dec-03
ok jan not following your questions to a tea i
will throw in my take on it.

ok we know high end audio has less people diving
in so with that in mind it would make sense that
less 2 channel equipment is sold.

many people like to gather the family together to
watch a movie so the ever growing multi surround
market is growing.

the same people who are not into high end audio
are not going to buy expensive media "sacd/dvd-a"

now remember this is all my personal belief and
not based on any sensus or other just what i believe.

keeping on that i feal that not until recently we
have started to realize what we need in multichannel
to also make 2 channel sound good (quality prepro
/amp/ front speakers.these things have finally
started to come down in price so more people can
afford them.

and likewise i think people are also realizing
that it takes a different setup now for surround
than it use to.

you use to be able to get away with small spkr's
all the way around including center channel.

now with multichannel music and the likes of es
and ex soundtracks the center and surrounds are
sent a full spectrum signal and need to be larger.

as the word spreads what needs to be done to make
2 channel perform well in multichannel setup and
there is more quality equipment to choose from
in the mid price range we will get more very good
sounding systems out there.

ok my take on 2 channel sources is the same as the
multichannel source and that is play it the way
it was mastered.

i believe you can have excelent 2 channel sound
from a multichannel system if it is done properly.
i enjoy listening to 2 channel as well as multi.
to me it depends on how well it is mastered for
either.(but play 2 channel in 2 channel)

i personally have a dedicated 2 channel system in
one room and the multichannel in another.
that is mainly do to speaker building i need to
hear the speakers in 2 channel to find out if i
am getting what i want from them.

and it wasn't until recently myself that i was
able to realize what was needed in multi to get
2channel to sound correct.

so i believe when the speaker building is done i
can have both my 2 channel and multi in the same
room without comprimise.

on to the media, i recently purchased the denon
2200 universal player so i can get full use from
the higher resolution formats and if one,the other or both cease to exist i am not out anything
as i still have my media to play that i did get
and plays on my player as well as all my other
media that the player plays also.

i personally like both new formats and bye media
for them and enjoy both the multi and 2 channel
selections.(some better than others)

and now that most good audio equipment has some
form of descent bass management subwoofers can be
used more effecively for both music(2 channel and
multi) and movies.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Ghiacabriolet

NC

Post Number: 54
Registered: Apr-04
As one who just plunked down $3800 on a multichannel system, I might be qualified to remark on this topic....with the denotation that I haven't actually gotten to listen to the multichannel yet. For what it's worth:

I received my first "all in one" music system in the 70's. Don't remember the brand just that it had tuner, turntable, etc all in one unit. Probably cost $100 tops. Don't know for sure because Santa brought it to me.

When I was around 10, my dad helped me get into "separates"....which, in my case, meant a Technics receiver and a separate Technics turntable. We were supposed to spend my $150 on the receiver but my dad plunked down an extra $150 so I could get the turntable too. (Those prices are recollections and may or may not be accurate) We tried to get through dinner before breaking the news to mom but my "i've got a secret" smile didn't get past her radar.

Fast forward to 5-6 years ago. Where I work, everyone was happy with the stock price and started buying boats and home theaters. My plunge into this was on the low end, price-wise ( I used my stock to buy a house). I bought a Yamaha RXV795 AV receiver, a Toshiba DVD, and Bose Acoustimass (!). Fortunately, someone set me straight about the Bose and I quickly returned them and got the Energy Take5 system.

I used the HT regularly for several months. The surround was solely for movies as I had no DTS discs. When listening to 2channel, I never used any of the DSP (?) modes - which I have always hated. (See, I was an audiophile in the making I guess) One discovery I made with this system was my CD's sounded better on the Toshiba DVD than they did on the Kenwood CD player I had. Of course, I had no idea then why - but, I've learned on this forum about things like DAC's and transports - so I guess that played a role.

Within a couple of years, I was never using the HT and was starting to hear about this "audiophile" thing. I was also realizing that music was important enough to me to want to be able to have the best sound I could afford. So, I gave the Yamaha a/v, the Kenwood 5-disc CD changer and a pair of the Energy's to a couple who doesn't have much discretionary income and had no system. I then bought my current NAD c350/c541i and B&W system. This 2 channel system has served me well. The only complaint I had was the low end reproduction and knew the system needed a subwoofer upgrade.

I first learned of SACD when I got the Original Master Recording of Aimee Mann's "lost in space" which is also a hybrid SACD. From an Aimee Mann forum, I found out that this SACD thing was supposed to be much better sounding than regular cd's! Heck, it is even supposed to remind you of the sound of LP's without all the scratches and pops! But, of course, you had to have a special player to play it.

In the course of researching subwoofers, I came across this forum. Here's where I found out about DVD-A. The real turning point for me was listening to John A describe the effect DVD-A had on him. At that point, I decided I wanted to take the "plunge into multichannel". Honestly, I still have heard very little of it but still spent the money to get a system. I think my biggest motivation at this point is the higher resolution more than the multichannel capabilities.

Despite not being a true "audiophile", I still can tell there's a harshness to regular CD's. Despite popular convention, I can still tell that an MP3 file is nowhere near "cd quality" even at 192k. In fact, when I first started ripping my CD's to the computer, I found that going less than 320k was not acceptable to me. This compression sounds ok through the iPod, less so through the main stereo - although it is ok for parties or "background" music when doing chores. Anyway, I guess my point is (and it is strictly visceral nothing scientific), the promise of a better sound from the high resolution was enough to sway me. I hope my money has been well spent.
 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 244
Registered: Feb-04
Okay Guys, - past and future.

After the 'bedroom record players' in the sixties, our foray into sound began in the early seventies, after marriage and little money, with cheap rubbish including a Sanyo Quad system, then later upgrading to something a little better with a Kenwood Int amp, tuner, Technics turntable and Yamaha (wegde) tapedeck with 3 way Coral speakers.

When CD's arrived, we upgraded to a 80 wrms Yamaha int amp, Technics CD changer, and Acculab 3 way speakers. A big step up - but cream of the crap and still mediocre sound. The variable loudness control on the amp and insulation packing in the speaker boxes helped make them sound passable.

Then came DVD. Upgraded to 100wrms Yamaha int amp, added a 3 channel Yamaha processor (60wt pc) a top end Yamaha DVD with inbuilt decoders and a pair of small used Yamaha wall mount rears. Gave the Technics DVD changer to our son and replaced it with a Yamaha changer(we have our reasons for having a 5 disc changer over a better quality single player). The top of the line DVD player was nothing but trouble so we then bought a discounted Luxman, which has worked very well.

Naturally, we have tried listening to 2 channel sources in surround modes a couple of times - doing nothing to appreciate is an overstatement. Stereo listening was always going to be much more preferable. Surround DVD movies were okay, but, we still wanted much better.

We began reseaching for an entire new kit that would provide (a) quality stereo performance for cd's and (b) quality HT surround for movies (including music DVD's).

After research we were interested in and listened to NAD, Marantz, HK and Denon receivers. Nad topped our list but reasons (explained in NAD - to be or not to be) led us to the Marantz SR-7300 after discounting the HK and Denon 3803.

We began our upgrade with Danish made JBL XTi-60 towers followed by a Richter sub. Did a blind test on the speakers with several others (Mission, Energy, Boston Accoustics, Mirage Omnis) driven by a Nad amp. When we connect them to the Yamaha, the improvement was astounding but, as expected, sounded a bit bright. When, we finally brought home the SR-7300 everything changed, especially after we connected the cd changer to the 7300 with optical cable. The 7300 paired with the JBL Xti60's makes most cd's sound marvelous and some just absolutely wonderful. It was a whole new world for us!

With 5.1 movies the system is also excellent, can't say enough, but we really like the 5.1 movie concerts. In most cases, the system (now including JBL S3611 wall mounts) provides a great soundstage, a sense of being there with wonderful clarity.

For music only, stereo reigns supreme in our house, it just sounds sublime. But I am looking really forward to DVD-a in particular, and even SACD. At present, we are looking towards the Denon DVD-2900 not only for those formats, but for durability and video handling also. While these new music surround formats might sound magnificent on some recordings, they are, however, like surround movies, correctly positioned listening is required. Although it's great to listen to stereo music sitting in the sweet spot, it's still worthy listening from virtually any position in the room.

What Jan stated about the HI FI dealers, the same applies here: surround systems dominate their stocks because that's where the money is now. They stock very little in stereo componentry. While other formats may certainly carry excellent listening benefits, good stereo sound, I hope will always be a choice.

 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 850
Registered: Dec-03
Kegger, Ghia, and My Rantz.

Wonderful. Thank you, all three. I think your "how we got where we are and why we have the stuff we have" is fascinating and revealing. I have things to say. I expect Jan could write a book, and it would be a good one. But I will still hold off for a bit, maybe coming back soon with something on surround sound formats and modes, where I think the industry hype has been especially confusing, at least to judge just from this forum, and my own puzzling about sales literature etc. I also promised another reply to Jan, and will not forget.
 

Jan Vigne
Unregistered guest
Let me add this question. The advertising for many speakers and HT components suggest a different approach to designing for stereo music reproduction and Home Theater (why does that get capitalized and stereo does not?) reproduction. Companies refer to their products as "for those who still listen to music" and there are endless numbers of speakers that are in a company's Home Theater line. Kegger's reply seems to indicate he has taken a diferent approach to his designs for the different uses. Is there a difference in what anyone looks for in a speaker or component? If not, what do you make of this approach by the manufacturers?
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 864
Registered: Dec-03
Jan,

HT marketing guys wish to claim sonic perfection; stereo marketing guys wish to claim it is only possible in two channel. Underneath, the basic principles are the same, I think - "sound is still sound".

I have commented before about the anti-stereo "backlash" in the 60s. The argument was: for a given amout of money, you are better off getting one powerful single-channel amp, and one ffrr speaker, than you are getting two separate channels and speakers, each with lower specifications, just to get the sounds of games of ping-pong and steam locomotives moving in front of you: these have nothing to do with music. There was some truth in this school of thought, and it had some distinguished adherents, of whom Phil Spector, whom you mentioned, was one.

I think we are in a comparable position, now, with surround sound. The cheap 5.1 systems are full of gimmicks and the basic sound quality is not good. But that reflects the cost of the components, mostly, and the HT-in-a-box sellers are keen to claim no trade-off with sound quality, even arguing that there is something more musical about synthetic surround sound effects e.g. "jazz", "church" "stadium". It is nonsense, of course, but they are just trying to draw attention away from the limitations of the systems they are selling.

That intended as brief comment. Still some point unanswered, from earlier. Will be back!
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 213
Registered: Dec-03
Jan i am very interested in your question/thoughts.

and i ask this question for 2 reasons 1 i am at
work right now and 2 would like to give your question
a little more thought.

i was wondering if you could explain your question
a little more thurough so i get excactly what you
are looking for.

THANKS!

 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 250
Registered: Feb-04
"If not, what do you make of this approach by the manufacturers?"

Jan,

I don't know about Hi Fi/Stereo/HT marketing in your part of the world, but here it's all Home theatre. Age old Hi Fi specialists are all promoting Home Threatre and stereo components are hard to find and there is little to choose from if one can. I note speaker manufacturers are always promoting HT use heavilly but add great for 2 channel listenning. What is the difference between 2 channel and multi channel main speakers - some are making them with high bandwidths (43mhz) to accommodate the new audio formats, even though our ears hear much less than half that range. IMO any quality speaker will perform well for both stereo and multi-channel - perhaps a high end a little over 20mhz for the higher frequency formats would suffice, but a speaker is a speaker to me. On the Gold Coast there may be 4 or 5 Hi Fi specialists who now deal primarily in HT or surround sound gear. To audition stereo components, one needs to travel to the capital cities and try their luck. It's now a Home Threatre/Surround Sound world. Yet, there is not one outlet here on the coast (pop circa 500,00) that sells DVD-A's or SACD's. The internet is the only source for now. Go figure!
 

jan vigne
Unregistered guest
Kegger - I'm just throwing out some open ended questions at the moment. I'd like to explore how everyone makes choices about the equipment they own and how they use the technology that is available to them. I would like to know your feelings about the material you have to play on the system you spent hard earned money to own. Hifi has always been a hobby where you could spend enormous amounts of money for equipment. A quick glance at Stereophile's recommended components indicates a class A turntable selling for over $70,000, a tonearm for $4,000 and "The Absolute Sound" just reviewed a $13,000 cartridge. And you still don't have cables to hook it up. All that for an "obsolete" technology. I don't suspect many in this group to be traveling in those circles, though I wish everyone well enough that you could, but you all, from your own experiences, understand the monetary aspect. After all that money has been spent you are still letting the ultimate quality of the sound and video be determined by a source you may spend a few dollars to own. In what we have read so far Ghia seems to have plunged into a fairly pricey system after being drawn by what she heard and read about high quality reproduction but having little experience in the actual product. A very laudable exercise. The type that used to draw people from their fold out speakers with a turntable attached to eventually seek out "audiophile" equipment. In my experience it has always been the person who heard about a better sounding import mix, then found a better sounding component to play it on, and so on it went until one day they were an audiophile. So it seems there will always be someone willing to seek out the best reproduction of the music they want to experience. As to not that many people interested in high end audio, there seem to be, judging from the ads in the magazines, more equipment manufacturers than ever before. Certainly some will disappear just as they always have. But, just as certainly more will replace them. Who is supporting these companies? Why spend the money for a system when, in the case of My Rantz, you don't even have a convenient source for the music to play? Kegger, it sounds as if you are searching for something special in your speaker designs. What have you found in your designs that has taught you something about hifi and about music? What we have had as contributions to this point have been great insights into your journey to the systems you now own. I would hope more folks would join in and tell their stories and relate their experiences. Let's hear what made you search out that better system. What made you look for something better? Why were you unhappy with what you had already? What did it not do that you thought was important to your satisfaction with playing music? What do you want when you go out to find a better piece of gear? What qualities are you looking for? Obviously everyone wants it to sound good but what does that mean to you? Do you listen to live music? If you don't, that's fine with me. If you do, what are you trying to find in your audio set up that says this is good music? How do you get there; two, four or more speakers? After all this thought about what makes you happy with your system, what are you finding in the music and electronics industries that you find help and benefit you? What are you finding that gets in the way? The advertising and the press would make you think that buying more equipment and more stuff will bring you a euphoria that was, until now, only experienced by the Greek gods. Equipment is described as if it will impart some power to you that mere mortals can only dream of. That is until next month's issue or next year's product announcement. How do you filter that into your purchases? Or don't you? It's a lot to chew on and everyone is encouraged to send this off in another direction if you fell it will benefit the discussion. Maybe I'm asking the wrong questions. But this all started with John A. and I grousing about the dissatisfaction we have had with multichannel and the recording quality and an overall sense of after all these years it should be better than this. And occassionally, particularly as John has delved into DVD-A, he has obviously gotten excited about some of what he has heard. I'd like to know how others feel about how the people you are giving your money to are treating you. I hope this will be a more interesting discussion than "what cable is the best match ...". Let's see what happens. John A., it's your turn.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 215
Registered: Dec-03
ok jan as i have stated on many occasions i look
at things a little bit more simply than others
and allways try to figure out the most
simple/easy/cost effective way of doing so.
(it doesn't allways turn out that way) but that
is my approach.

just in case any of this may have a bearing of
where i am coming from."I am 38 years old"
I work for a computer company and have been into
electronics for as long as i can remember.

I make halfway descent money but have a home so
i can't spend huge amounts on electronics, well
at least not as much as i would if i could.

I think many of us are in the same boat "allways wanting better"

I live in an area where their are at least 30 or
so electronic shops within 30 miles.like i said
i am into electonics so i visit a lot of them
quite frequently and see whats out there. some i
like but can't afford so i try to make due with
what i can figure is basiaclly the best bang for
the buck in the area i am interested.

from my experiance/researching i found that most
speaker manufacturers make compromizes in there
building of speakers and charge a lot more for
something, that i can build for less.

what i'm into lately is picking up used speakers
taking the cabinets apart and rebuilding them.
i have done ground up designs but it's a lot less
work to start with someone elses design and improve it.

the two main things for me in improving the sound
of the speaker is the cabinet and the crossover.

most cabinets do not have enough internal bracing
and use inferior parts in the crossover.they also
do not make the cabinets thick enough.so i take
the time to get the cabinet at least 1.5 inches
thick on every wall and try to brace at least every 6-9 inches depending on cabinet size.and i
rework the crossover most of the time, starting
with general computer numbers then tweaked by ear. i feal i can build or rebuild a better unit
than i can afford.

now amplifiers/recievers/preamps as of right now
i am not going to attempt to say i can build better.

so when i am looking to upgrade i do a lot of
internet research and try to narrow down choices
then go check them out.

when i hear of a new technology or sound format
i generally want to wait and see if it sticks or
if the mass market units adopt it.before i delve
into it to see what it's about.

so when dvd-a and sacd came out i was interested
but not until more recently when more than a few
units hit the market.and i went and auditioned it.and i felt with the improvement in sound that
i would get from the new formats and video of the
new player for my widescreen tv that a universal
player was the choice for me.so i did research
and got what i think is the best bang for the buck in universal players.

i am very stubborn and it takes a lot to convince
me of something if i don't believe in it.so i can
not put much stock in what most sales people try
to suggest to me.

the main things that make me want to keep looking
for the better equipment.

1. a friend of mine owns a buisiness and has more
money then i and because of this he purchases a
lot more expensive equipment than i can afford he
also is very good at picking the best equipment
in his price range so hearing and seeing his gear
makes me strive to want more.

2. i love music clean and sometimes loud and that
is harder to do than most might think.there is a
fine line between clean and loud for budget gear.

3. i go into these high end shops to see and hear
what they have to offer but can't afford and will
find some gear i would love to own.

4.i believe in technology and the thought that
someone can allways improve something or a new
breakthrough leads us to a cheaper more effective
way of doing something.

i personally feal with enough research done on
the net you can get almost all of the info you
need on an electronic purchase without even going
to the store to check it out.

my thought on multichannel be it music or movies
is as i stated above has recently changed.
and that is you need quality full range speakers
all around with a good quality sub and good bass
management form your electronics.

I also feel the speakers are the same for quality
2 channel as it is for multichannel.if anything
maybe for a little extra zing in multichannel be
it movies or surround would be the speakers be a
little on the bright side.
and maybe that could be some of the manufacturers
reasons for having dedicated surround speakers
that some might feel to bright for 2 channel.
i personally like my speakers to be slighty bright.

but i have the 2 channel setup to better evaluate
the sound of the speaker.i believe the speakers
need to be able to perform in 2 channel before
they can be thought of for use in multi.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 216
Registered: Dec-03
i also believe some of the reason that more of
the general publc purchase surround systems and
not dedicated 2 channel is that the manufactures
build more multi cahnnel so the price comes down.
then when the general public goes out to buy the
system they say to themselves why would i spend
that much and just get 2 speakers when i can get
5-7 spkr's and a sub for the same or less.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 876
Registered: Dec-03
I agree, completely, Kegger. Well said.

The times are a'changing with home audio. I think the name of the game is keeping the best of the old, and putting it together with what is really worth having in the new. It ain't easy to work out which is which. I get the impression that you and I, at least, agree about the basics.

I agree especially about the need for full-range all round. The ht-in-a-box systems lean heavily on the active sub to do the heavy work. That is so you can string the little speakers around, and hear things coming from different places, at the least cost, all while still getting some deep bass. That is not the way to go if you want the best sound the format will allow. But you don't have to scrap the whole idea.

I think that any 5.1 system worth having is able to do stereo just as well a conventional stereo. And even surrounds should just be the best speakers you can afford, too; there is nothing different there, except people mostly want them to be small, and hang on the wall.

So "5.1"/"2.0" is not a case of "either"/"or". It was the same with stereo coming in to add something you could not get from mono.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 879
Registered: Dec-03
I do not wish to dominate this thread, or deflect readers from the previous, excellent points made by all the posters. Please scroll back to Kegger and previous posts, and by all means skip this one, without referring to it, in order to reply to them. But, here seems a good point to relocate an edited version of part of a post I made on April 17 on Best cables for amp and pre-pro, as follows.
____________________________________________________________

Surround sound.
I went through a steep learning curve on surround formats on this forum. My whole experience of surround sound is still not quite one year old. One thread is still running. What does "DVD-audio" mean here?. Admin has just moved that thread to the new category "DVD-Audio & SACD". This is good. "DVD-Audio" belongs under "Audio", and has got to get away from the home cinema/theatre bracket. Anyway, I started that thread with some stupid newbie misapprehensions, got some flames, and ended up learning from guys who could be bothered to explain what was going on. One was Gregory, posting then as "G-Man", and I thank him. There were others.

This is what I now think I know. Or, at least, think.

Dolby Digital means many things (you can find it on videotapes etc). AC-3 is the 5.1 format that helped kick-off the DVD-Video deal, I think in 1997. It is a compromise format aiming to give movie watchers acceptable stereo in addition to true 5.1. The 5.1 is probably built around the assumption that the listener/viewer has an all-in-one system with speakers the size of tin cans, a low-power amp, and it therefore leans heavily on the active sub for everything else, from all channels. On many discs I have, if you give it large speakers all round then it seems to duplicate the bass intended for the LFE channel.

DTS "Digital Theater Systems" is a competitor to Dolby. It started with audio and computer engineers concerned with getting good sound quality for movies in cinemas/movie theatres, and has an interesting history going back to the earliest experiments with digital sound encoding (there is a pdf file on their site - linked below). They got backing from Spielberg and the first DTS movie was "Jurassic Park". When DVD HT kicked in, they produced a format radically different from Dolby, using intrinsically higher-resolution encoding (96 kHz; 24 bit; PCM - same as DVD-A for 5.1) but they had to compress the files, to get them on a disc alongside Dolby AC-3. The claim is it is that the compression is "perceptually lossless" but it isn't - DVD-A proves THAT, too! But you've got to give it to those guys for trying to do something. In reality, DTS is a less audio-compromised format than DD: it is designed for large speakers for all 5 main channels, with LFE as a separate act. The price they pay for the average movie watcher is that it is 5.1 or nothing - stereo down-mix is impossible, and there is no 2.0. Now, I was knocked out by DTS. It was so clearly superior to Dolby that I could not understand why it was not common knowledge. It could be down to my decoders (in the receiver), but I doubt it.

File sizes. A DD AC-3 file is about half the size of the file containing the same programme in DTS. Now the cost of physically burning and producing a DVD, whatever the format, is very small. What dictates formats available on DVD-Vs is largely marketing questions. For an average movie, the recording company has to choose how best to use the available space. Where there is a multi-lingual region, the distributor will want a movie dubbed into maybe 4 or 5 languages, so the supplier will stick with Dolby Digital. Examples: light romantic comedies; and especially children's movies, where subtitles are not an option, and parents, rightly, care about kids learning their own language. If you choose DTS, you get better sound, but it swallows up the available disc space. So DTS is only worth it to the company if it is likely that sound quality is going to be an issue for the listener/watcher, and if they think people are going to be happy with subtitles (taking almost no space) instead of dubbed soundtracks. Perfect example: feature-length "serious contender" movies e.g Gladiator etc. and many more.

There is a notable example, par excellence, The Lord of the Rings, and not just because chunks of it are in Elvish. Each part of the trilogy was released in the cinema in December; then on DVD "theatrical release" (Dolby Digital only) on just one disc in about the following August; then as an "extended edition" (the full movie, without the cuts the director didn't want to make, and in DTS) on two discs (plus "the making of" etc on further discs) in November. The extended editions are so much better it is untrue. Some of the actors have said the extended edition DVDs will outlive all other versions, and the only ones worth considering if you want to know what Peter Jackson and his guys were really trying to do. If you look at the "Extra material" of the Fellowship, you can see how obsessed with sound quality and music they all were. Any "Audiophile" who doubts the seriousness of intent of some movie makers as regards sound quality should take a look at the "extended" Fellowship, for example, and then see the supplementary material by Jackson, the sound engineers, and especially the composer, Howard Shore.

DVD-Audio. To my complete surprise, it leaves even DTS at the starting blocks. There is a genuinely lossless packing to use the disc space effectively, called MLP. - but even then, they use the entire disc for sound i.e. they don't have to "waste" space on video footage. It is a new era in sound reproduction in the home. I mean that. I won't write any more on DVD-Audio! Sure, its origins are in home cinema, but so what? Half of the industrial revolution and the transport we have today comes from steam locomotives and bicycles (the Wright Bros. were cycle dealers if I remember correctly).

That's about it. Even DTS 5.1 is an big advance on CD sound in my opinion. Dolby Digital 5.1 is an all-purpose format for movies, effectively giving 2.0 and 1.0 in addition to AC-3. In computers this would called "backwards compatibility" and is a good thing. Don't knock Dolby Digital, it gives people pleasure. But it is not there, today, if you are serious about sound quality.

More links

I have read up what Dolby and DTS each have to say about their two competing systems. I greatly prefer DTS sound. Dolby rubbishes DTS, but to me Dolby's arguments are unconvincing, as is the sound. Read, listen, and decide for yourself....

Dolby Evaluates DTS, Parts 1&2 (PDF; 99 KB)

DTS Position on "Dolby Evaluates DTS" (Part 1)

DTS Position on "Dolby Evaluates DTS" (Part 2)

This DTS link is interesting and, to me, makes a lot of sense:-

Brief History and Technical Overview

The best I have read on DVD-Audio, and SACD, is from a disc manufacturer. I have just one of their DVD-As. It is an object-lesson in how to do it, all the way from the recording to pressing, manufacture, and presentation. I particularly recommend downloading and printing the pdf linked there, though the web pages are good, too.

DVD-Audio Overview
 

Bronze Member
Username: Ghiacabriolet

NC

Post Number: 60
Registered: Apr-04
Jan wrote:
"In what we have read so far Ghia seems to have plunged into a fairly pricey system after being drawn by what she heard and read about high quality reproduction but having little experience in the actual product. A very laudable exercise..."


Or a clear sign of insanity! ;-)
 

Bronze Member
Username: Ghiacabriolet

NC

Post Number: 61
Registered: Apr-04
Kegger wrote:

"i personally feal with enough research done on
the net you can get almost all of the info you
need on an electronic purchase without even going to the store to check it out. "

From my experience, I think this is mostly true. I think you can end up with a good quality system without having heard it...but there's the question of whether it pleases you sonically/tonally if you haven't had the benefit of listening to it.

I don't have a background in audio equipment retail or manufacturing so I don't really know what drives the focus on multichannel/HT systems. Products are always evolving and there's probably a perception that "stereo systems" are old school and "entertainment systems" are new school. For your average consumer, they want to get the most bang for their buck and they probably perceive an HT system as being a better value - as it can handle both movie sound and music.

Probably 85% of those who have HT systems care more about the aesthetics of the systems and whether or not it delivers the big explosions from the soundtrack. I would be willing to bet that a large portion of those also do not do "serious" music listening but instead use music as a background soundtrack to their lives....the music is there but there's always something else going on (parties, chores, etc). In this situation, most folks would never know if they weren't hearing "all" of the music or whether it is coming out of 2ch or 5. And, most of them probably don't care either.

Those who are captivated by the music and spend time just sitting in a chair listening to it are most likely going to wonder if their system sounds as good as it can/should. The curiosity drives them to start finding out about the equipment. The real challenge is when they do hear a better sounding system. Once you've heard how good your favorite music CAN sound, it's hard to go back to what you were used to before. The flaws which you may not have noticed before start to stand out and start to gnaw at you. For me, this happened after listening to the NAD c350 at the local dealer. I knew at that point, I could not continue to listen to the bright sound coming out of the Yamaha HT receiver & Energy speakers I had.

As Jan said: " In my experience it has always been the person who heard about a better sounding import mix, then found a better sounding component to play it on...." This is exactly what happened in my case. I bought the Original Master Recording of "Lost in Space" because I knew the remastering usually sounds better. But, I had no idea what a "hybrid SACD" was or what SACD was, but it was on the disc label and I had to find out more about it. Hence, here I am...on the verge of having my own hi-resolution system with the added bonus of having made a few new friends. :-)
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 220
Registered: Dec-03
GHIA you are a perfect example of what i meant
by that, and hoped you would chime in.

and you said just what i meant "almost all of the info you need"

you did research narrowed your choices and then
had to decicde for yourself what was going to
sound good to you.

unfortunately the only thing we need b&m's for is
listening to the equipment.

i personally try to find what i want locally and
if it is close to what i can get it for online i
will purchase it.

i have only made 1 brandnew online purchase for a
complete piece of eqipment. "b&k pt3 series II preamp"

sure i've bought several parts online but i try
to give the b&m's as much of my business as i can.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 928
Registered: Dec-03
Just to illustrate my suggestion that part of the problem is inflated claims of manufacturers.

Barry Fox in HiFi News (a sort of UK audiophile mag), January 2004, writes about a £500 "high end" DVD home cinema system which claims "'high fidelity speakers and amplifier for the best possible audio performance' with 'accurate sound reproduction unmatched by larger and more expensive systems', 'sonic accuracy' and 'audiophile-grade' performance".

"But when CD stereo was played loud enough throgh the front pair [of speakers] the distortion was truly horrid. To rub salt in the wound, the makers promised 'superior quality audio for music CD playback' and slagged off competing products 'flooding the market' as 'hopelessly outclassed'"

Fox attributes these sorts of claims to "...marketing men who haven't heard un-amplified music since they sat in school assembly and would not know a stereo image if it bit them on the leg. They are the same people who sell amplifiers with ambience setting that promise the natural acoustic of hall, stadium or jazz club".

"If an amplifier adds the artificial ambience of an imaginary hall, to whatever natural ambience the recording has captured, then what finally comes out from the speakers will be the sound of the hall as heard in another hall. This isn't accuracy, it's distortion".

Nice to read some forthright views from time to time!
 

Silver Member
Username: Rick_b

New york Usa

Post Number: 202
Registered: Dec-03
Hi Jan,

I have been following this thread with keen interest, and mostly biting my lip. I admit, I like a few "seasoned veterans", are starting to feel like an old dinosaur. Maybe I'm just an old analog guy stuck in a digital world. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not against technology. But feel we were all made to be slaves to it, by virtue of our chosen hobby. Yes things evolve, but where does it end? I started out seriously 34 years ago. Like many budding enthusiasts, we started copying first playings of our treasured vinyl to open reel tape for higher fidelity. Then along came 8 track which no one would take seriously. On to cassette tape and the advent of DNR processing. So once again we transferred our vinyl or open reel tape to cassettes. Then our world changed forever......CD's Red Book, HDCD, SACD, DVD-V, and now DVD-Audio (multi channel at that). The question for me is where does it end? How many more format wars must one endure? Maybe I'm just tired and want to sit down, relax, and listen to great music. But hey, isn't that all we ever really wanted to do anyway? I have no real opinion on DVD-A yet, but for all the "enhanced" CD formats-PHOOEY! To me they never sounded any better than a well recorded regular CD.

Let's move on to our beloved equipment. I can't even begin to list the gear I have gone through over the years. But again, we all were on the quest for the absolute sound. Maybe the Holy Grail or Golden Fleece would have been more obtainable, and cheaper. I know have a collection of components for my 2 channel stereo(my true passion) that when new were considered reference quality? Are they still after 6-7 years, or will todays $1500 receiver equal or better, yesterdays Proceed pre-pro-Aragon power amp combo? You tell me? Do I need to go out and listen still to more new gear? On the subject of speakers-forget it. I still haven't found the true,one and only, absolute sound for me. I thought I came close with the Maggies, then I heard the Ohms again after a million years, and another says the truth will be found in the Green Mountain Europas. Enough........... I am sure others feel this way.

I am going to log off now, go into the living room and crank up some Pink Floyd, at bone crushing volume. I feel "Comfortably Numb" would be in order. I'm going to close my eyes and pretend that it's me playing that sweet sounding strat. I'm sure Mr. Gilmore won't mind. I haven't done this for a while, but it always reminds me why I started this hobby in the first place.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 259
Registered: Dec-03
i think what a lot of people are having problems
with are the growing feeling of need to updrade
to the latest equipment.

the older good quality cd player's,amps and spkrs
are just as good as anything else produced today.

so the only thing you need to keep upgrading (if
you allready have these quality things) are the
media players "dvd players today" and your prepro
or reciever.that is if you want to keep up with
the latest sound tech.

i believe once you have been in this field for
awhile and have acumulated enough quality equipment
and want to stay on the cutting edge is, you need
to upgrade your processing every couple years.

now some spend quite a bit more on their processor than others
and find it very expensive to upgrade.also a lot
of the newer units are being able to be upgraded
and i think this is what we need to be more concerned with.
you use to able to keep your reciever or preamp
for 15 years before you needed to upgrade now if
you don't, like i said before, upgrade every 2 years you
can't use some of the media to it's full extent.
and you get behind in the formats that come out.
not that the new formats are automatically going
to be better but you won't know if you can't use
them.


RICK BARNES
hears to you buddy
"ROCK ON"
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest
Yes, Rick, it seems music is the first casualty of format wars. Equipment comes and goes and every now and then you come across someone still using an Ampzilla and Dahlquist DQ-10's. But every once in a awhile you get to hear a pair of original Quads or Maggies or even a pair of original Advents. (I chuckled at your reference to "advent" of cassettes.) As I have said in these forums before I own and use a pair of McIntosh tube amps from the 1960's that I purchased used over twenty years ago and I have a pair of Roger's LS3/5a's that were designed back in the 70's that I listen to everday. I know technology has moved forward in the past forty years and many pieces of today's equipment are capable of reaching further into the music, but there is a truth that classic pieces of equipment can find that all but ended my constant quest for the Holy Grail. Listening to the Macs is like getting behind the wheel of my old SS Chevelle. They are dinasours in many ways but what they were designed to do they accomplish very well. As I stated in a response to John A., when I was selling audio I had a certain admiration for the guys who bought really good stuff and then added nothing to the system except music for the next twenty years. Of course they were the ones that wandered into the shop twenty years later to see what was new and then decided to trade in their Mac tubes. I often wonder if they regretted that decision. What I can't get over is the cost of the technology today. I can see that a Honda Accord is a far better designed and built automobile than my Chevelle, the Honda handles better and would be my choice for safety hands down. But it costs ten times what my Chevelle did. When I look at the new state of the art in audio I see items that cost one hundred times what the McIntosh amps sold for! Until a few years ago I had the opportunity to bring home some of these pieces to live with for a while and I never found one that justified that disparity in value. So maybe we are both becoming the old grey horses of the world. When I bought the Chevelle I paid less than $3,000 and it wasn't hard to find a car that, off the showroom, could turn high 13's in the 1/4 mile. Today I read the magazines and you can once again buy a car that dead stock will run 13.7 in the quarter but you might pay $130,000. I must be missing something.
Well, happy listening. Pour a glass of Chivas, turn out the lights and be Mr. Gilmore for a short while.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 989
Registered: Dec-03
What a great thread. For the latest posts: thanks, Kegger; thanks, Rick. I agree.

Rick, one is never too old to take up a musical instrument! But, when you emerge from listening to Pink Floyd, please take a look at PCM Stereo. It is touted as yet another darned format. And, if you are in Mozart etc. too, you should be the first to know.

Personally, I think the water is getting a bit less clouded. But it is a helluva struggle seeing through all the industry bullshit. Some of the younger guys haven't got a chance, you know, and it is the old pharts who can often see the wood for the trees, and are right at the edge. I see I have mixed my metaphors. Heck, why not, I am amongst friends.

Kegger, I think we are in the middle of a transition from low-res (convenience) to high-res (quality sound) digital sources. As regards players, you are dead right at the moment, but I think it will probably settle down in a couple of years. The reason is, DVD-A (and "PCM Stereo" which is probably the same thing) sounds, to me, as good as analogue. After that, there is nowhere else so go. Not as regards the source.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 260
Registered: Dec-03
JOHN i agree with you at least for now about the source.

but i believe we will keep getting the newer and
more channel surround formats.

i personally right now run my reciever with 7.1
and externally amplify 7.1 for 14 speakers and
6 subs.(give me more channels bring it on i dare yu)

so i believe they are going to give us more channels in surround until we are, well surrounded completly.

with these new surround formats and technology
getting better in the d.a.c. department you will
still need to upgrade that processor now and then.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 991
Registered: Dec-03
Jan,

Sorry I am consistently missing your posts. I have to stop in a minute. Please see other thread "PCM Stereo", too.

I too am weary of hype. I promise you DVD-Audio is more than hype. Keep the McIntosh amp and the LS3/5as. You won't get better without spending the Earth. Give that system a stereo signal from a digital source at 192 kHz, 24 bit, i.e. DVD-Audio, and you will say "I never knew what it could do".

And the music.... Absolutely, guys!

Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.


Kegger,

That was Shakespeare. We discussed him before, I recall!

"more channels in surround until we are, well surrounded completly. "

..and can't get out...?!

If you believe in stereo (I do), then there is nowhere to go, after 4.0. If you get to 8.0 (or 8.1) all you gain is a center speaker for each side, stereo says there is no need for it, and no recording engineer should be trusted with that; it would be giving a toddler a loaded gun to fix his bike.

There has been a performance, in a London art gallery, in 40.0 - with one channel per performer. I concede that this could offer some advantages. But there are practical considerations for the average sitting room, such as "Is there any space left for the listener'?

All the best to all here.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 261
Registered: Dec-03
JOHN one last thought on that.

yes it might not work out to well for music or
most peoples setups.

but it could be very interesting for movies.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 993
Registered: Dec-03
Agreed, Kegger. The extra channels still have to be on the disc, though, and what the producer/director intended.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Ghiacabriolet

NC

Post Number: 78
Registered: Apr-04
I think I might be a little less grey than some of the guys on the forum but I'm a definitely weary with the "progress" promised by technology. My weariness comes from the computer side mostly along with the "intrusions" of things like cell phones, big brother cameras, etc. I believe we are well past the point where technology is beneficial and life improving. I believe it is now becoming a real burden and detrimental to the quality of life.

The technology of the audio equipment is not yet a burden for me. Hopefully, I'm getting in at a point where the system I'm getting will serve my needs from this point forward with the understanding that the source equipment might need an occasional upgrade.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 997
Registered: Dec-03
You express very well what many people feel, including me. But we cannot dodge the issue of what counts as "technology". Without a doses of penicillin about eight and also fifteen years ago, I, for one, would not be here to post. The average life expectancy in pre-industrial England was about 45, and a whole chunk of that was infant mortality, often taking the mother, too; this was still common in the early C20th. In Elizabethan England, absence of smallpox scars was so unusual as to be counted as a rare indicator of physical beauty. Half the World still lives under such conditions, and worse (and I salute Mr Gates for honestly trying to do something about that). Not to mention communications, transport, etc. etc. A clean water supply is "technology"; so is a postal service. I guess we are all spoilt, modern Westerners, here. "what sort of technology do we want?" only we can decide. That is something.

I do think sound reproduction in the home (a good thing, if you can afford it) will stabilize, soon. I also think technology still retains the capacity to be "beneficial and life improving", but whether we go that route, or another, is up to us.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Ghiacabriolet

NC

Post Number: 80
Registered: Apr-04
That is a very true point. Technology encompasses more than circuit boards and silicon chips. But, even advantages of medical advances has a limit. We can now keep humans alive despite whether they want to or whether it's beneficial to them. Frankly, with the state of the world today, I'm not sure I want an increased life expectancy which modern medicine affords us.

You wrote: "what sort of technology do we want?" only we can decide."

This point, I have to disagree with. Much of the technology is forced upon us and we don't have a choice. Small cases in point: even if one chose not to carry a cell phone, that doesn't prevent one from having to listen to the conversations from other cell phone users. And, in a local city, red light cameras issue tickets to motorists who've run the light. Do they deserve the tickets? Of course. But, this technology is more of a revenue generator than a safety device.

Reading back through the above paragraph, I was tempted to take it out. I'll leave it in because it illustrates how irrelevant and narcissistic my perspective is in light of the suffering of citizens of third world nations.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Ghiacabriolet

NC

Post Number: 81
Registered: Apr-04
Not to mention the suffering of less privileged individuals in industrialized nations.

Sorry, I seem to have diverted this thread from its original intent.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1008
Registered: Dec-03
No. no. Ghia, you have every right to post here. And I, to follow you, as I did.

All I can suggest, as a link back, is that this thread is mostly about which technology, in just one area, might actually be worth having, and which not. Other things being equal. Getting something good that lasts, and, if not, is repairable, is surely a step in a positive direction. Having a hifi is not such a crime. Replacing one every couple of years, just out of insecurity, is a use of resources that could be used more constructively, if one looks at "the big picture".
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 183
Registered: Feb-04
Thanks for all who have posted on this stimulating thread. It really got me thinking. Here's a very brief summary of my train of thought:

Who needs forty speakers? Why not just build machines to reproduce the sounds of individual musicians and singers. Yeah, I'm talking about a robot orchestra and choir. How far should the science of simulation go? Why do we seek the ultimate in sound reproduction? Does it de-humanize us? Instead of going to a concert, listening and watching real people with real people, we cocoon in our listening rooms or home theaters enjoying the simulation of what's real. Is there something a little disturbing about people spending tens of thousands of dollars to create these simulation systems? Is it any different than a teenager spending hours on end in the basement playing, say, a video basketball game instead of being outside and really playing basketball. Does technology really improve the quality of life in this regard?

I will try to attend more live performances. I will go for a hike this weekend near the ocean or the mountains. I will not obsess about the sound quality of my audio equipment. That's the new trick this old dog will learn.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Ghiacabriolet

NC

Post Number: 82
Registered: Apr-04
John A

Right, keeping an eye on the "big picture" is key. It is easy to lose focus of what is really important when one spends time/money trying to keep up with the Gateses (forget the Joneses.) I think that is what technology has wrought - especially in America.

My original point, I think was inspired by Rick's lament of technology "that we were all made slaves to it..." This is a sentiment I share and it brought about my original diverting.

2c,
Excellent! "Virtual reality" Where does it stop?
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1010
Registered: Dec-03
Ghia and Two Cents,

This is very interesting and thought-provoking. thank you!

I always favour asking the question "why are we doing this, and discussing this, in the first place?"

My own view is that numero uno for music is performing, oneself. At any level. But, especially, with others, in a group of some sort. It is wonderful mean of communication between people, quite unlike any other. I know anyone who plays, or has played, music will agree.

AS regards concerts, they are second. They are rewarding to attend. You can listen and learn; also see. But it ain't always possible, and, even if you are fortunate to live somwhere like London, New York, Berlin etc, where there is all sorts of live music all the time, there is, even then, some real value in listening at home, when it suits you, to recordings made by people you might never hear. And when the artists are gone, meaning split up, or are no longer alive, you can still hear how they did it, and receive some glimpse of their understanding of what could be done, what could be said. Then again, if you live out in the sticks, that may be all you can do, even for active performers.

I see no harm, and a lot of good, in listening to recorded music. Enjoying it, trying to understand it. The best outcome is if it inspires one to "have a go" oneself.

I have played, at a very amateur level, in amateur groups, over the years. The last one split up about six years ago.

While I am slightly embarrassed by my number of posts on this forum, there is another postive aspect: you can discuss, compare notes, learn from other people what they think, and add your own "2c". This forum has been a real education for me for nearly a year, now. And you share views with all sorts of people whom you would never meet in everyday life, and from all sorts of places you will never visit - Kegger first pointed this out to me, on another thread.

2c, thanks for the thought of the "Robot Orchestra". It is a very useful concept! One could write a science fiction novel. I should not expect music from a robot orchestra, but would be willing to listen, with interest, to see what it could do. I should never, in a million years, wish to play in one! In my professional life, I have to write, and say, something later this year on the idea of a robot researcher. I think it is rather the same idea. There, you have helped me in my work!

I do value "the long view" on this thread. However, I also enjoy advising confused people on e.g. digital vs analogue intereconnects, on other threads. WE all have every right to be confused in this complex business, where the industry itself is wilfully obscure. Something that I can see clearly, and help others to understand, in about two minutes, is a pleasure to impart. And it is two way. For example, I have just learned I never used my own DVD player (the last one) to its full extent, by thinking about someone's "Newbie" query concerning how to get PCM DTS, on another thread. Then I have received undestanding, and much, much better LP sound, for example, courtesy of the deep insight of Jan, whom I nominate as our resident audio guru. Then again, I would never have discovered DVD-A if Gregory had not argued obstinately with me last year on surround formats, This list of practical and general things I have learned here is extremely long.

And I had many discussions with my wife and kids about things I have read here- all sorts.

It ain't so bad, really!
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1011
Registered: Dec-03
2c,

I said "robot orchestra" was thought-provoking!

Consider, too, the "robot soloist". Suppose Sony gets all its technology tuned up, and can eventually make a robot cellist. With computer "intelligence", perception, etc. it might even be able to sight-read music, not just run one algorithm.

Give it a Bach solo cello suite. (I choose that for many reasons).

What do you get? Not Jacqueline du Pre, that's for sure!

Do you get Bach?

Now, that's a question....!

Playing a musical instrument requires all sorts of skills: tuning it; listening; understanding. Primarily, wishing to communicate - with others in a group; with any listener, even when alone; always with oneself, and in response to what the composer has provided. All this is apart from technical (but demanding) questions of knowing which notes to play. The questions a musician tries to answer, each in a different way is how, and why. So far, only human being can do all that. I wonder whether that really could change?
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 263
Registered: Dec-03
JOHN stop you make me want to cry. lol

I could be wrong but it looks to me that i am the
only one that has no problem with technology.
I beg and crave for it can't get enough.
and i feal everything can be improved by it.

i have gone to concerts,sporting events and of course
the movies as i have gotten older and have my own
place that i have spent a lot of money on my home
entertainment, i now prefer to stay home than go
out, and have no problem admitting that.

I am a home body and proud of it.i really enjoy
tinkering with my electronics it consumes me but
i have no problem with that, give me more.

i do not yearn to do something more thought provoking
with my life.i am not married and don't aspire to be.
i like my space to do with what i want and right
now i choose to be home building things and use
them.

i go through phases where i concentrate so much
time and energy into what i do it's allmost like
a drug, then slowly comm down and move to the next.

I am in the computer buisiness which changes all
the time that is my job that is my life it is all
fast paced and doesn't slow down ever evolving.

I feel most things electronic are going to keep
doing this including audio louder/cleaner more
spatial and more channels i welcome it and say
bring it on.

if there is a new technology out there i want to
learn about it and see if i can use it.

so yes i am one of the ones who the engineers have
corrupted and they have done a dam good job.

as stated before everyone has their oppinions and
thoughts that is what makes us different.some can
not decipher technology nor do they want to.
I for one can and do.


yah yah yah i know get out more!!

well dammit i don't want to, make me!!!!!!!
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1019
Registered: Dec-03
Kegger, you are right, as usual. No-one should tell any one else what they think is good for them.

But, look, you've got to admit there is some technology out there that is designed by clever guys to waste everyone's time and money, and sometimes much worse. And, more often than not, they succeed.

All the likes of you and me can do, here, is try and switch on the "cr*p detectors", and see if we can say anything useful. Probably you and I have ours switched on all the time....

Yes, I always like to try and understand new things, and how they work. But "what is it for, really?" is just as important. And, if you can understand how it works, the chances are you can make up your own mind on what it is REALLY for. Things are not always as they seem. And not always as people wish yo to believe. Audio is a prime example. For example, and I repeat, "The Compact Disc: Perfect Sound that lasts forever". Look at any TV or newspaper ad, for any product, and you have a good chance of seeing dishonest people trying to bullshit people in order to make a quick buck. When they wheel on the technobabble, someone, somewhere, has a duty to try to shoot it down. Personally, I rather enjoy that. Must be the hunting instrinct.

Don't you think so?

BTW I am more or less where Ghia is on some issues, I think, but on human cloning and all that. The technology is not so hard to understand. Why the h*ll anyone wants that, pretty well scares me even to think about. Some of the scenarios you can imagine make "Brave new World" seem like a tea party.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 266
Registered: Dec-03
yo john you and the others had just gone on long
enough that i felt i had to chime in. and voice
my opinion.

and you kinda made my point in a way with your!

"All the likes of you and me can do, here, is try and switch on the "cr*p detectors", and see if we can say anything useful. Probably you and I have ours switched on all the time.... "

they are on all the time!!
you hit it right on the head.

I consider myself fairly smart when it comes to
electonics and can usually filter through the crap.

so like i said bring it on!!!!!!

anyway's i've seen a few people rant now and then
so i thought i would do a small one.and i'm sure
you took that way but no offense meant!
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 267
Registered: Dec-03
man I should preview what I write better.
I just can't type that great.

I'm leaving letters out of words and missing some
words alltogether.

It must look like a 4 year old or some backwoods
hic that's never seen a computer.

I know I'm not the greatest speller but come on!

ssshhheeeeeeezzzzzzzzz!!!!!!!!!
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest
Wow! I said, as this thread got started, this should be more interesting than "Which cable should I buy..." and, by jiminy, it is! The only problem with the various pieces we have started that become stream of conciousness out pourings is so many ideas get tossed into the soup pot that those of us whose hair is becoming a different color can get lost in all the concepts that deserve, because of their honesty, a quick response. Maybe I need a PDA. No, that's the point of this thread.
To quickly take the road marked detour, if you would follow me monentarily. The story of stone soup. (Stop me if you've heard this one.) A soldier came into a small town hoping to find lodging and a meal. The town's people, being like most inhabitants of a small town, were at first distrustful. As he went from home to home asking for assistance, he was viewed with a wary eye and no one would be the first to offer him food or lodging. Finally, the young man set up a small area in the center of the town and began building a fire. As he searched for materials for the fire he made a great show of his labors knowing he would attract the attention of the town's inhabitants. Eventually curiosity got the better of the citizens, as happens in most small towns, and they began to come out to see what the soldier was up to. "I'm making soup" replied the soldier to their queries. "Soup? But you have nothing to make soup with" scoffed the people. "Well, I may not have all of the ingredients yet, but I have the recipe for the most delicious stone soup you have ever tasted" the soldier replied quickly. "Stone soup? How do you make stone soup?" was the question. "Before I tell you the recipe, does anyone have a large pot I can use?" asked the soldier sniffing at the breeze as if he were on the trail of something wonderfully appetizing in the air. "I have the largest pot in valley", came the proud reply from the eldely gentleman who gazed at the soldier with a squint. "And if I can have the first taste of this wonderful soup of yours I will gladly loan it to you. But you must return it in good shape for it is made of fine copper and it is only a loan", the still suspicious offer came. "Fine, there's a start. Go fetch your pot while I find just the right... Ah, yes! Here it is. This is the perfect rock to start our stone soup", the young man announced as he held the craggy main ingredient at his waist. As the people closed in around him to get a better view of the stone, several questioned, "How is he going to make a soup from that?!" Laughter started to spread through the growing crowd who once more decided the soldier was insane and not to be trusted. Gently lifting a Lady Bug from the surface of the stone the soldier's face grew pensive, as if he were performing the role of Hamlet. "Well, of course if one of you could loan me ... a carrot...?" he said softly. Cautiously a voice from his left said, "I can loan you two carrots. ... If I can have a bowl of your stone soup." "Why of course you may. Of course you may ...but... do you have three carrots?" was the softly spoken reply. From his right came, "I have three carrots I will gladly loan you for a taste of this soup" "I have some celery." "I can loan you a few turnips." Bay, salt, onions, garlic and more were offered for loan. The fire was built, all the ingredients were placed in the large pot to be cooked and seasoned just right. Bowl after bowl of the most delicious soup the town's folk had ever been served were dished out and gobbled up amid the laughter and music of the evening. Wiping the last drops from his copper soup pot the old man placed his finger to his lips, "Best soup I've ever had.", he said with a wink.
Folks, I believe we are making soup!

John A. - Performance art. Must be by twenty something who never heard those old Duetsch Grammophone recordings with 40 mics for 35 players. Everything old is new, or, as NBC said of their summer reruns a few years ago, "If you haven't seen it, it's new to you."

The discussion has taken an interesting arc here recently. The music has been the focus of many comments so let me take the ideas of a robot musician and the experience of playing an instrument and add my thoughts.
When I was selling I was surprised by the number of clients who told me they virtually never heard live music and, more suprising to me, they had never learned to play an instrument. They had never taken a music course in school and they had no idea how a piece of music was constructed beyond "diamond ring" rhymes with "sweet thing". Fine, I was selling to quite a few doctors and lawyers and I had never taken a law class or learned how to set a broken leg. But it made my job more difficult because of how I liked to sell equipment. Since I sold in the high end audio shops I seldom had to sell junk but there was a varying degree of quality that more or less followed the price of equipment from top to bottom. Selling audio was not, in my opinion, like selling eyeglasses. It shouldn't just be here's A and here's B which is better. That could be accomplished without my help by simply putting a switch box in the room and letting the customer go at it themselves. Kind of like what many stores are doing today. I was always asking why someone thought A was better than B so I could decide what C should be. One of the ways I would try to guide the client to understanding why they were hearing an improvement as we went along was to use the example of a band playing together. As I said,I wasn't showing junk so this was like putting them in a Jaguar and a Ferrari and asking which they preferred, something most everyone will be better at with cars than audio equipment. The example I would use is the high school band playing a piece for the first time. Do you remember how that sounded? Not how much bass there was or treble or the sound stage. Those are artifacts of a hifi system. They can be changed no matter what you purchase as the system is moved within the room. Focus instead on how the music goes together. When the band finally plays a piece through for the first time there is a discontinuity that sort of takes the music apart even though it is recognizable as that particlar piece of music. They are likely to sound like robots. As John A. said, it is more than playing the right notes, though that is a technical marvel in its own right. The next time they work through the music it will be a better played performance. How? The performers will begin to move beyond just the technical aspect of hitting the right note at the right time and begin to feel comfortable with their skills. Now each performer is beginning to be not just an individual but a part of the whole. How? The violinist is listening to the horns for when to enter and how loudly to play. Everone is listening to the bass as it usually moves and drives the music forward and sets the tone of the performance. Everyone is listening to the performer next to them and to the player across the stage. Can you hear them listening? Then the whole moves beyond just listening and they begin to listen with a purpose and to communicate. And with communication comes understanding and then the whole moves beyond understanding to choosing. Choosing the meaning of their part, seeing how it fits in the whole and shapes the whole experience. Do you think the guy with the triangle just waits for his twenty seconds of fame? No, everybody has be committed to making the piece move forward in a logical and emotional manner. For those who have done this, it ain't easy. Finally as the performers move beyond being a group that can play a piece of music and all end up at the end at the same time they learn to reach across the procenium and grab the audience to feed off the energy of the experience. Can you feel that performance? Can you feel the communication? That is a performance. That is art. Fine, now we're at the jump from recievers to components and now I want you to think of how good a professional symphony orchestra sounds compared to the high school band. Then I want you to think of the very best orchestra you have ever heard and the best performance you have heard them create. That is the piece of equipment you should buy. When you can no longer hear and justify the difference between two components in how they communicate the music you should stop and pull out your credit card. Forget the imaging and the brightness or warmth of the sound. Dynamics are used to convey the music not to drive the price up. The people who got this, I believe, bought very good music systems. New pieces will come every six months and there will be a flavor of the month in amps or turntables or what ever. But if what you have purchased can reach into the music to communicate with you no matter what type of music you play you will be happy for years to come. You will find the music even in poor recordings. If anything a good system will make a poor recording easier to listen to. That is how I picked all of my components and, of course, that is why I feel I can live with forty year old amplifiers and thirty year old speakers. (That and, as I said in another response, I find the prices of the best of today to be outrageous.)
Comments? Carrots?
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1023
Registered: Dec-03
Kegger,

No offence taken, man, not by me. On the contrary, we are on the same side, you and I, and it does look like there is a digital war on. I shake your hand. Don't worry about spelling. Life is too short for all that. It is what you say that counts. Hey, can we get Jan to write all his great stuff, but in paragraphs? (Teasing, Jan: I have to take a deep breath before diving into your blocks of text, for fear of running out of oxygen. It is always worth it! Don't change a thing!).

Will come back to Jan a bit later. What a fun thread.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1024
Registered: Dec-03
Jan,

I've dived in, there was enough oxygen, and it was worth it.

Wonderful. Really. I am going to print out "the Stone Soup" and read it to the kids.

You know, you are so right about the relationship between musical performance and playback of recordings of it. I only wish to add two small qualifications, not disagreeing on anything.

One. It isn't just "classical". You and I know that. On other threads I was recommended "The Last Waltz", the farewell concert of The Band. On the DVD-V you can see all the things you decribe happening, as well as hear them. They happen between The Band members, who included, one by one, as guests, some complete legends of modern music - and they responded in the same way. And their focus, listening to each other, producing something by working together, is indeed somethng anyone can tap into. In contrast, I have yet to see a classical DVD that conveys anything except a great stuffy and self-important tyrant making futile but grandiloquent gestures from a rostrum, while a bunch of robots play the music, and we all know they could do it just as well, if not better, without the conductor there. I think it has to do with cameras, and the restricted point of view they have, always chosen by someone else, not by you, the listener and watcher. That is all most people think of when they read "classical". And we know, too, that is the opposite of the truth, for all the reasons you set out.

Two. Nobody should feel intimidated by any sort of music. It either reaches you, or it doesn't. We all have every right to make up our own minds, and none at all to make up other people's. If you play music, you always meet the sorts of people who want everyone to do it their way. That is as bad as "who cares? Anything goes". In between is common understanding, and respect. Out of that, and that alone, comes great things.

And Three. (nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition...). I keep thinking of Kegger. I think I understand his point of view, and agree completely. You don't have to play/sing/hit-things-with-sticks yourself, or even want to, to understand and appreciate any sort of music. No-one is disqualified. But what you get out of listening is something those guys put in, by doing that.

That's all I can say right now, in general response, without losing the plot.

Just one more thing.

I do not remember Deutches Grammophon (wish I could spell that) and its multi-miking. I mostly think DG is on the "high-tech for high-tech's-sake" track, and find their recordings sound very artificial, precisely because they seem to strive to put the medium between the performer and the listener. As you so beautifully describe for hi-fi - we should be looking for the exact opposite. I imagine their multi-miking was used on some damned atonal, ideology-ridden garbage (Sorry, I've got to let it out from time to time!). I name no names, but fancy you know of whom I write....

The 40-track recording I mentioned is the exact and total opposite of all that.

It is seriously esoteric, and I am afraid of putting people off, since even the average "Classical" buff/snob will run for the hills at the mention of Thomas Tallis. But, for the 4.0 version (it is enough) it must be the ultimate surround reference disc. Apart from anything else, I've just noticed that the physical disc itself is made by Disctronics, whom I keep linking as the reference on formats. I posted originally on Dec 06 on What does "DVD-audio" mean here?, and on Dec 29 on What's the best dvd to test out my new system?

Thomas Tallis (c1505-1585) wrote a 40-part motet, "Spem in alium". It is for eight choirs, each of five voices.

It has now been recorded "in the round". The singers form a circle around the listener. Choir 1 is front left; choir 2 front centre; choir 3 front right; and so on. It makes eight, if you think about it. One human voice to a part. Therefore, forty parts. This is no high-tech garbage; it seems to be, for the first time, a recording of exactly what the composer had in mind for the performance - in 1571.

The recording is available either on DVD-A/DVD-V (the video is PAL only) or on SACD/CD hybrid. Coro. The Sixteen. (Admin: this is absolutely not an advertisement).

All the things you describe are there, Jan. People have always been the same; so has music. Let me add, this is another one where my own, first, recorded version was on LP, and I now go back and hear how much better it is than the CD.

But - and this is right on-topic: The DVD-Audio sweeps all other recordings before it. Especially in surround sound. And this judgement is made entirely from a musical point of view.

All the best.
 

j. vigne
Unregistered guest
John A. - I didn't restrict my examples to classical music when I used them in a sale. Sometimes it fit because their reference was having to sit through a child's school recital. I would have been happy to talk about how a garage band goes from one point to the next and how it always follows the same route to arrive, hopefully, at the same destination. Just good music making whether it was the type of music I choose to listen to or not. And in my time in sales I learned from my clients about many new ideas in music that I otherwise would never have explored on my own. (I also had several pieces ruined for me for life. Ask any audio salesperson how often they sit and listen to "Dark Side of the Moon" at home and you are likely to get a vacant stare.) When someone understood the process of making music it moved the sale from "So, do you want them in the oak or cherry cabinets?" to a process where the client could hear and understand the end point. Even if they couldn't afford what they thought was the best, they knew why they chose what they purchased and where to go for improvement instead of a helter skelter approach to system building. Part of my frustration in the example I've given was always how few people had the experience in their life of communicating in a fashion other than their native language. I think it goes to a shift in our society from where we were 100 years ago. When there were no ready sources of music, i.e. turntables or radios, the entertainment was a family member or neighbor who played an instument or sang (or told stories about stone soup). It was a language that could unite various groups of people with different backgrounds, possibly in a new country, that otherwise might have little in common. As a result of the instant access to sound the number of people who can't communicate beyond not just their similar language but can't move beyond having someone else think for them and feed it to them is staggering. I don't know what the situation is like in Great Brittan but here we have talk show channels that regurgitate the same ideas over and over 24 hours a day. When you read the news paper editorial letters or hear the people call into these shows they are spitiing out the same garbage that went in over and over 24 hrs. a day. The dumbing down of America has resulted in people who cannot think for themselves and are afraid of something that is not the same over and over. And music and the arts are a way to look beyond your narrow little perspective to see what someone else thinks and feels. So I found the experience sometimes depressing as the sale spiralled down to "So, do you want them ..." because the people I saw were educated but they wouldn't step out of their comfort zone (?) to learn and think for themselves.
And on the other hand some of the cheapest systems I ever sold were to musicians. But they found the music in the system and they didn't need expensive gear because they had learned how to listen. Sometimes a musician was the hardest to sell to because they listened for what they heard when they performed, the guy next to them.
Annecdotaly, I had a Stevie Ray Vaughn album that I thought sounded horrible on my system at home. I couldn't listen to it because I heard all the mic and mixing problems. I went over to a friend's house and he put the same album on a cheapo fold out turntable system and it sounded like music. I made the comment, "Sometimes you need a garage band system to play garage band music". I had insulted his system but I meant it in what I hoped had been a complimentary fashion. His system played the music and didn't get in the way, it couldn't. I don't think he ever forgave me for that comment.
 

Silver Member
Username: Rick_b

New york Usa

Post Number: 207
Registered: Dec-03
Jan,

What about the guys I know with $50,000-$60,000 systems that don't turn them on. The just look at the stuff and tell you how great it all is. When you say, "can we listen to it?" they tell you the humidity in the room is not right, the wind isn't blowing from the southwest, and the moon isn't going to be visible tonight.......any excuse so as not to turn it on. What the.......hey is up with that? No kidding, I really know people like this.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1037
Registered: Dec-03
Jan,

Wonderful. I agree so much with everything there. The world need music more now than ever, in my opinion. BTW I read your "Stone Soup" to the family, as I said. All enjoyed it. Wife says she has heard it before, but the soldier was a tinker. No matter. Great story, especially the way you told it.

Rick,

In all walks of life, you will find people with more money than sense.

Also, there can be a status factor about having an expensive hifi. Jan must have met lots of these guys, too. There comes a point when the reward is just knowing how much you spent - and letting other people know, so they can admire your disposable income. For such people, hifi is just another means to a completely different end.

I have no fear of falling into that trap. I wish it were even possible!

BTW guys (including Ghia), I am finally not alone in my insanity. There is another madman who has just posted on Twilight of the Compact Disc, having been bitten by DVD-A. One runs out of words....
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1044
Registered: Dec-03
Jan,

That Thomas Tallis DVD-Audio (see above May 13) is really the most wonderful recording I have ever heard, apart from the music itself. I could maybe say something about TT on "Twilight of the CD...?"

The DVD-Audio has DVD-V (Dolby Digital 4.0 and DTS 4.0 - the latter already on the way to a gold medal for sound) on the flip side, together with some video footage (with the soundtrack there in 2.0). The interviews with the musicians are relevant to many of the issues we have discussed here.

But... the sound engineers. My god, woolly jumpers, grizzly beards, you can picture it. They are surrounded by the equipment, on which I submit they made the nearest thing to a perfect recording I have ever heard - including just a little from outside (a car starts up at one point; they are also not far from the Heathrow flight path; I don't know what they do about that, maybe record when there is a South-East wind).

I am pretty sure their monitors are.... I don't have to tell you. BBC LS3/5a.

Thought you should know!

Anyone else heard/seen that disc?
 

New member
Username: Asimo

Post Number: 5
Registered: Apr-04
John A

I know that that Monteverdi, may be Palestrina and Tallis too, have some madrigals where the singers are moving around in the room while singing, a good use for multichannels.
Anyhow this performance is a unique one and still most if not all the classical music comes to us from the front.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1049
Registered: Dec-03
Asimo,

Not wishing to be pedantic, Tallis had probably never heard of madrigals. His pupil, William Byrd, had, and reworked some of his consort songs as such. We could take this on "Twilight of the CD...?", maybe. I doubt they intended the singers to move around, but it is not impossible. But they did think the listener was probably going to be one of them, so that's a case for multi-channel, too. Thanks!
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1050
Registered: Dec-03
Asimo and all,

Why on Earth are we not using the words "polyphony" and "polyphonic" instead of "surround sound"; "multichannel".

It is obvious, clear, and we might begin to understand each other!

Monophonic -> stereophonic -> polyphonic.

Or is there something better?

My kids talk about "polyphonic" rings tones on mobile phones. Musically, they are dead right. But, from the point of view of audio, the phone itself is still monophonic.

Do we need another word?
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1080
Registered: Dec-03
Correction to May 13: "woolly jumpers, grizzly beards". They are in shirt sleeves, and clean-shaven. My memory plays tricks....

Though I am still fairly sure about the speakers.

Of the three video clips, the last is longest and perhaps most interesting. It is about music, performance, sound, and many things, including two of the composers having set the same text as a political "protest song", but fifty years apart, and for different reasons. View it for further insight into present-day Iraq, as mentioned in the interview.

I've stopped threads before by mentioning this disc. Seems it never fails!
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1148
Registered: Dec-03
Setting speaker delays/distances, also known as "channel delays".

This is a novel feature of surround sound. It is not required in stereo. It is important to get these values right if you are to obtain a good, coherent image of where the sources of sound were in the original performance.

I wonder if lack of attention to speaker delays might explain Jan's original question (see May 01), and it is clear that he speaks for many others: "...am I the only one who thinks music almost always sounds better when you listen just in stereo...?"
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest
John A. - I didn't mean to give the impression that my surround sound system was not set up with a proper amount of attention to detail. I have spent too many nights tweaking speaker positions and cleaning contacts on stereo systems to ignore the basics of set up on a system. But my audio system, until recently, was the sole purpose of the room where it was located. I had complete flexibility to position equipment and chairs to get the best performance with regard to nothing but the sound. That room has now been taken over by the A/V system and it is used for a gathering place for friends and neighbors to watch videos. That part of the multi channel system is very enjoyable since friends seldom cared to sit in the audio room and listen to music with me. That was fine as they weren't interested in high end audio and some didn't have more than a radio as their source of music. But to me video is still video and is a secondary source compared to my music. The system still got the attention to detail in the set up with the one exception of one rear speaker is in a bookcase with a back and the other is in an open bookcase. I have moved the rears and not had a change in sound quality as long as I set them up properly so I've not worried about the slight discrepancy in position. But I would never have had that much difference in my music system. The front array is equally distributed across the space and I have the sweet spot for listening to video or music from this system. I dutifully measured the distances and set the appropriate numbers in the menu with the small exception that my player and reciever have distances marked in 1' increments. All the other dressings of a good system are included; spikes, stands, Sorbothane, cables, etc.. But there's this big cabinet between my front speakers that I would never have in my music system. And the room is set up to seat five people. Even that is not my problem with surround sound music since many of my records and CD's do not have pin point imaging and I am more concerned with the music than the high end audio trappings. I just am not convinced that multi channel is a huge step forward from what we have had prior to SACD and DVD-A. This is not to disparage those formats. It is obvious the improvement in sound quality is available from these two formats. They have not convinced me that multi channel is the cat's meow. Most of my recordings are two channel mixes and due to the cost and lack of what I find to be interesting material in multi channel that is unlikely to change any time soon. So all total out of hundreds of recordings I have twelve at this time that represent multi channel. And very few offer what I consider a real reason to make an investment in multi channel over my stereo system. I picked up a copy of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony (live recording) on SACD since we had discussed it recently and was extremly disapointed in the sound. It was a murky mix that had no sense of perspective into the hall. The engineer rode the gain on an over mic'd set up. So as soloists emerged within the score they rose to a prominent position on the stage and then receded into the ocean of instruments. None of this was reflected in the surround channels that would be called convincing. I then put on a copy of the same music on a Naxos two channel CD from the early 90's that, in stereo, had none of those problems. Though it lacked some resolution it was a musically satisfying recording that let me enjoy the performance and not be distracted by the recording. This has nothing to do with the format but simply the skill and choices of engineer/producer. The effect when I play a studio recording is obviuosly imaginary at best. And even "Dark Side of the Moon" benefits little from the "enhancement" other than greater clarity, which they claimed on I can't tell you how many other copies of that album that I already own. So I'm asking where are the Living Stereo, RCA Red Seal and Columbia equivalents in this format. Those are recordings that still hold up as musically and sonicaly superior. Right now nine out of twelve SACD's have given no more than ping pong games and trains on the track. They don't convince me and they don't interest me as adding anything by being multi channel. Worse yet are the other several hundred two channel recordings that make up most of my listening. When I let the reciever (used to be HK/Citation, is now NAD) add its part to the playback I find I am even more distracted by the equipment and the music suufers because of that. So here is my position as of today. From my own experience and from reviews I don't get the feeling the multi channel recording, despite its higher resolution, has transported me, more often than not, anywhere but into my room surrounded by speakers. For all the enhanced formats for two channel playback I just don't use them. This reminds me of the expensive sports car with the self adjusting whale tail spoiler that will generate 3 G's down force at 165 M.P.H. but you are going to use the car in traffic at a crawl that sometimes doesn't exceed 5 M.P.H.. Add that to what I see as a further cheapening of the components and their sound quality that goes with most Home Theater and I am left with the feeling we have taken a good sized step backwards in quality and a big step forward in marketing.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 290
Registered: Dec-03
jan i am sorry for your experience/dislike of the
surround music formats thats disapointing!

whether it is my system or my tastes i am in love
the music i get from my surround recorded music.

and i find it very enjoyable.with a well recorded
source i find it to be a major improvement over
2 channel.

as they say with music to each their own.
as long as you like your 2 channel that is all
that matters!
 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 284
Registered: Feb-04
Jan

I know your last post was directed to John A, and I'm sure he will take you up on a point or two. I am not qualified to comment on the sound quality of these different formats as I am yet to really experience them, but I did notice you were talking about SACD's and not DVD-A's. From many reviews and forum posts, I have come to the belief that DVD-A (recorded appropriately) is sonically superior to SACD, given the fact that the latter is 1 bit and not oversampled to the point that it should be and is restricted to about 8mhz on the high end. Please correct me if I have this wrong - as I mentioned I'm not qualified and only glean from what I have read and memory may well be an issue.

Would it not also be the case, that when listening to these new formats, one would be concentrating on sounds, and their surround origins more than the music itself, at least until the novelty wears off. Like when stereo first appeared on the scene. Once used to the noveau format, we settled back and took in the music rather than being critical about what eminates from which speaker. This struck me also when first experiencing DD and DTS surround and now, though still enjoying the momentory effects, I just tend to take it for granted.

But, of course, real high end 2 channel audio can make all the difference and make one more critical about these new formats, however, for the surround gear I have, which probably borders on mid range (and provides a credible 2 channel step up from what I've been used to) I must admit to looking forward to this new experience.

Some credible posters like John A do not seem to be the types to applaud without merit and to read what a knowledgable and experienced antagonist has to say leaves one with mixed feelings. If only it was possible to borrow some worthy software and hardware and test it on my gear in my home for a couple of weeks. Then I could determine if or how much to spend. Either that or stop reading.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1163
Registered: Dec-03
Jan,

You know, I agree so strongly with all of that, and could never have put it better myself. I never said you might have ignored your speaker delays - in fact I rather knew you would, for some reason. That is partly why I asked for your specific comment; you would understand what they do; we would get to the point.

"But there's this big cabinet between my front speakers that I would never have in my music system. " That just amuses me so much. I have one too, and hate the thing.

"I don't get the feeling the multi channel recording, despite its higher resolution, has transported me, more often than not, anywhere but into my room surrounded by speakers".

Yes. Three cheers.

"I am left with the feeling we have taken a good sized step backwards in quality and a big step forward in marketing"

I think the problem is that the step in marketing is so big it is difficult to resolve any steps in quality at all. And people have become rightly cynical - only the credulous accept anything the industry says, these days. I am not sure it was always like this: this is where I find it so difficult to correct for one's changing point of view as one gets older. I guess a historian could look at the adoption of RIAA equalization for phono in 1954. And RIAA itself must now be a completely different kind of organisation - I imagine it once had electonics and acoustics engineers. Is this naive? Access to RIAA payroll records in 1954 would help me understand if the world (or, at least the West) really is in decline, or if I just suffer the fate of young romantics; to become cynics in middle age.

But, as before, I do think throwing out surround is "throwing the baby out with the bathwater".

As we agree, giving clowns surround mixing control makes everything worse- as you described so clearly with the two versions of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony.

All I can add, in a short reply, is to repeat that I am surprised and quite delighted by DVD-A in all its channel formats, up to 5.1. I had heard music in surround before, and there seemed to be little gain, only distraction. Maybe part of my enthusiasm comes from the fact that I had begun to think that progress in quality was actually now completely obstructed my marketing questions.

As My Rantz has picked up, and others have noticed, I am very distrustful of SACD. It is interesting to ask why it started as a stereo format in 1999 and became surround in 2001.

I guess there are two plausible points of view. One is that SACD was for people who care about sound, and "sold out"; "went down market" etc. under threat from DVD-A. I could so easily see myself there. But there is another: DVD-A brought the improved resolution of a DVD to audio, to address sound quality, and one obvious application was the old idea, finally realised, of getting quality surround sound. From the latter point of view, DVD-A was more a new, true audio technology than SACD, which was really about securing property rights on disc content, with "quality" primarily a sales pitch.

I must stop now. I will return. Thank you so much for responding to a direct invitation to comment!
 

Bronze Member
Username: Ghiacabriolet

NC

Post Number: 100
Registered: Apr-04
Jan,

There's not much more I can add over your and JohnA's comments. I'm new to the hi-rez/multichannel world and don't have an extensive library or experience to share. But, I can offer some comments based on my initial impressions.

First, multichannel has not blown me away. So far, Miles Davis, Kind of Blue is the only multichannel I've listened to and I came away feeling that the multichannel was pretty cool but, ultimately, preferred the 2ch mix. The Aimee Mann SACD's are "only" in stereo and they sound fantastic. The benefits of the higher resolution are unmistakeably present. And, for that alone, I feel my foray into the multichannel equipment I purchased will be worthwhile. Although, if I find that I continue to prefer the 2ch mix, I may be hesitant to put as much money into the surround speakers as I did the front.

Your post above reminded me that I have "Dark Side of the Moon" on SACD and will need to listen to it. Maybe I'll be able to do that tonight.

The only DVD-A I have is Blue Man Group and, while it is interesting, I don't consider it to be musical and it isn't enough to allow me an opinion on the merits of DVD-A. I think my next DVD-A purchase will be Beck's Sea Change which I also have on HDCD so that can be a 2ch - multichannel comparison.
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 194
Registered: Feb-04
Folks,

Like most of you, I'm in the process of exploring multi-channel formats. It seems there are a variety of opinions expressed here. I tend to agree with most of them, but would like to contribute the following distinctions:

The source material and the 5.1 mix make all the difference in whether the m-c recording is any good. I have the impression only a few engineers have a good grasp of the new format.

Some types of music don't benefit much from multi-channel playback. Acoustic country, jazz, and folk music played by a small group don't seem to gain much from multi-channel over stereo. I prefer to listen to my Emmylou Harris and Diana Krall discs in stereo.

There are two types of music that seem to gain the most from multi-channel recordings. Large orchestral works where having more than two speakers helps separate the instruments during congested passages. The best recordings use the rear speakers subtly to recreate hall reflections, providing a sense of being in the same "space" as the musicians. Last night, I was listening to a SFSO/MTT Mahler SACD, recorded with multi-channel in mind. All the music seemed to be emanating from the front when I was in my listening position, with no discernible sound coming from the surround speakers. But when I moved closer to the surrounds, I heard what seemed to be the entire orchestra playing at low volume, not just a few instruments. It seems this recording separates the orchestra across the front three speakers and uses the surrounds only to recreate the hall reflections. It worked for me.

The second type of music that benefits from the multi-channel format is purposely trippy music. These are recordings that don't attempt to sound live but rather try to get inside your head. DSOTM might be a good example of this type of music, but the original stereo mix was so successful in achieving the psycho-acoustical affects that multi-channel only accentuates what's already there in stereo instead of adding anything new. The best examples of this type of music in multi-channel are Beck's "Sea Change" and Flaming Lips' "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots." Both recordings are a revelation in 5.1, and a different kind of listening experience from the stereo version. Not coincidently both recordings were mixed by Elliot Scheiner, which reiterates the first point about the source and mix making all the difference.

SACD and DVD-A are no different than CD and LP in that recording and engineering quality vary widely. It's important to choose your disc wisely. A good source of listener reviews of SACDs on the web is SACD-net. I haven't found a good source of DVD-A reviews. If anyone knows of any, please share your knowledge.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 92
Registered: Dec-03
I think the DVD-A of Sea Change is 24/48 which is a rip off. You are better off with the SACD. The poor sampling quality of most of the DVD-A's that I have seen makes me wonder how legitimate of a format DVD-A is. I have not seen the same problem with SACD.

 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 286
Registered: Feb-04
Ben,

Perhaps you might like to read the info on this link: http://www.iar-80.com/page17.html

Interesting!
 

Silver Member
Username: Ghiacabriolet

NC

Post Number: 101
Registered: Apr-04
Isn't there an adage, "the more I learn, the less I know"? I'm feeling that way right now. This might be occasion to go home and pop open some nice Southeastern Australia Shiraz to help clear my head. :-)
 

Bronze Member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 93
Registered: Dec-03
I already read it...I don't think the publication is legit. There is no way that companies like Linn and DCS would produce players for a flawed medium. Mofi and Linn would be producing DVD-A discs. Stereophile wouldn't have named the Sony SACD 1 their digital component of the year (a few years ago).
 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 287
Registered: Feb-04
Ghia

I feel the same way with all the conflicting info. I think it is a case of just bite the bullet, go with whatever, and enjoy what pleases our ears with any good Austrlaian wine.

Ben

I'm no expert and as far as reviewers go, I don't put much credence in what any of them say. But it's all a matter of opinions isn't it? Like wines!
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 195
Registered: Feb-04
Marantz sound = cabernet
NAD sound = pinot noir
Rotel sound = chardonnay
Denon sound = sauvignon blanc (dry variety)
home theater in a box = wine in a box
 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 288
Registered: Feb-04
Two Cents

LOL! Depends on the vintage! Nevertheless, I enjoy my cabernet.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 293
Registered: Dec-03
pioneer elite=southern comfort

harmon kardon=yukon jack

yamaha=sour mash (kentucky straight)
 

Bronze Member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 94
Registered: Dec-03
Arcam = 2000 Bordeaux aged to perfection.

My Rantz,

I agree. I do feel that it is important that people looking to learn get to hear all sides to the story. I don't dislike DVD-A, I just haven't heard anything that would lead me to believe that it is better than SACD...and I own both. In fact, I have been extremely dissapointed with the fact that most DVD-A discs that I have seen do not even try to achieve the medium's potential. It almost seems like they are setting up DVD-A consumers to by "newly remastered 24/192" discs a few years down the road.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 294
Registered: Dec-03
the yamaha is pretty much right on.

at first kinda harsh but after youv'e had a few
and get use to the taste and the right envirionment not so bad!

 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest
Sommelier, a box of your finest!
 

Silver Member
Username: Ghiacabriolet

NC

Post Number: 103
Registered: Apr-04
2c,

Very appropo!

My BF has allowed (!) me 5 minutes to logon and issue a slight correction....I got it right that it is Australian but it's not Shiraz. We've popped open a 1999 Peter Lehmann Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon. Nicely complements the Cowboy Junkies "Lay It Down" redbook CD currently playing - in STEREO, Jan. ;-)

Gotta go.
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest
Everybody, go get your favorite beverage cause I'm in a writing mood.
Ghia - You go, girl! STEREO RULES!!!
Two Cents - Great post. My only problem is my heritage says there should be an Italian wine in there. How about a Sangiovese? Or better yet, a Barollo?
My Rantz - Thanks for the link. But it reads less like a review and more like the government's new Medicare Prescription Pharmacueticals Manual. Not that it's hard to follow but it seems to be a fact searching for justifications to prove how smart they are. They use subjective conclusions to justify what should be an objective outcome and contradict themselves too many times. On the opposite side of the coin I posted at another thread a quote from "The Absolute Sound" that indicates SACD will emerge as the "audiophile" standard while DVD-A will morph into another format entirely. I'm not saying either author is correct or smarter than the average bear; but, as we have seen all too often facts can be made to support any conclusion if you already have reached the conclusion in advance.
Kegger - Your last post is so true about so many things.
John A. - We discussed, on another site, the KEF approach to dumbing down the surround formats. Let me suggset to you www.niro1.com. It don't get no dumber than this.
Which leads me to - I would ask everyone to try an experiment. How many of you have listened to an out of phase speaker pair? Even if you have, bear with me. Pick a good quality recording with a solid center fill of, preferrably, a single vocal. Listen to your favorite song in stereo. Now shut down your amplifier and at ONE SPEAKER ONLY reverse the polarity of the system. What was connected to + is now connected to - and vice versa. Turn on the amp and listen to the same song again. We'll work our way back to this.
As we started this thread, John A. mentioned the term "Blumlein pair". This is in reference to a microphone technique that tries to recreate the most natural environment from recording to playback. For those of you willing to do a little digging to get a better understanding of what you are hearing I would ask you to put "Blumlein pair" and "Ambisonics" into a Google search and just cruise a few articles. Do that now and come on back. We'll be here. Don't forget your drinks.
For decades now the recording industry and the high end audio industry have (supposedly) been moving forward with the goal of recreating a live event in your space. As with so many things in life, goals that should be inclusive seem often to be at odds with one another. One of the most important means to this end (in my opinion) is the proper use of microphones in capturing the original event. Even more than equipment choices the recording industry has multitudes of options in how the original event will be preserved. If you've taken the time to do some searching and reading you will see that vitually every microphone technique has tried to do a better job at getting on tape the actual sounds of the space the event existed within. Ambisonics, for the most part, has been considered one of the most successful at this objective. That is due to their unique use of microphone techniques that capture a four dimensional soundfield. Four dimensions being height, width, depth and time. If you did the experiment I presented at the beginning you should understand that surround sound is all about phase and your ears' perception of time/phase relationships. John A., the Ambisonics site has an interesting reference to DVD-A for you.
The type of microphone a technician/engineer will choose for a specific recording will vary depending upon a few factors. Simple recordings, close mic'd studio types or small groups, offer less choices than large orchestral receordings but the basic technique is the same for all situations. Unless the engineer is purposefully trying to distort the sound in some way the effort is to capture the original as closely as possible. As with many things, the simpler the ingredients the harder it is to get it right. For years the recording that offered some of the most challenging tasks to a stereo system has been "The Weavers, live at Carnegie Hall". It is a recording of five performers on stage that move (slightly) about the space and the audience that shares that space with them. If you've not heard this recording I would suggest you go to your local library, they probably have a copy you can borrow. Play it, of course, in stereo. What you will hear is a very simple microphone technique that captures the entirety of the performance hall in an immediate fashion that few recordings over the years have matched.
The microphones gather the information from the front, sides, back, top and bottom of the space. Unless the engineer chooses to use a very directional microphone the sound arriving at the mic's capsule will contain the direct sound from the performer combined with the reflections off the front, sides, etc. that amount to the temporal relationships of a space. These are then transferred to a recording device. It is generally ceded that the more microphones in a given space the more difficult the job of keeping all the time/phase relationships straight as each "hears" a different set of reflections of the original.
In your playback system at home (we'll stick with either mono or stereo for now) you want to recreate these same time relationships as intact as possible for the most convincing rendering of the actual event. As your speakers reproduce the sound of the recording with all the direct and reflected signals that have been captured by the engineer and his microphones you are also hearing the time/phase problems inherent in your speakers, which may be minor or not, plus the reflections from your walls, ceiling, floor and furnishings. Unless you are in an anechoic chamber, which would make even conversation sound unnatural, you are now taking all the reflected sound on the recording and ading the reflections of your space onto the top of what you will hear. The first reflections from objects close to the speakers (that darned big box?) are the most troubling since your ear has a hard time distiguishing between them and the direct sound from the speaker since there is little to no time difference percieved by your ear. Just enough to smear the sound from time problems and frequency problems (comb filtering). The generally accepted solution to this is to damp the front of the room to squelch early reflections and leave a slighty live back of the room where time and frequency problems are lessened by the difference in amplitude of direct vs. reflected sound sources. This generally gives a good sense of "ambience" to the experience.
When you attend a live performance your perception is very much like that of the recording microphone. Some concepts of recording take this to the extreme and place microphones where your ears would be, separated by the distance your head occupies. Like the microphones, you are hearing the direct and reflected sounds as they arive at your ears at different times, from different directions and with different frequency and amplitude combinations. From a seat in the middle of the hall you will experience a sense of the early reflections that say you are so far away from the performers. You need no center speaker to tell you whether you are sitting to one side or the other. As you move to the upper balcony your sense of the direct and the reflected signals has melded into a more amorphous sense of that is the live sound and this is the reflection. But just as the exact position of performers on stage has softened the image from in front of you, you do not experience the sense of a "soundstage" behind you with individual instruments highlighted within the "image". Returning to your seat in the middle of the hall, if someone were to open a door at the rear of the auditorium wouldn't you be jolted to hear the sounds from the lobby that didn't belong with the performers but none the less are a part of the space?
Now we get back to your listening room and still have all those reflections from the space the speakers occupy combining with the reflections that are on the recording and we are going to add three more speakers for center and surrounds. It only stands to reason each of those three add their contribution to the direct/reflected potpouri.
So my question is(didn't think I had one, did you?) what are you hearing from your systems that makes you think this is correct? While our ears are terrific at picking out very tiny signals they also have the ability to fill in the blanks to tell us what we want to know. If you reach a conclusion your ears and brain will work to make it a fact. It doesn't take a high priced stereo system to be decent at imaging and soundstaging, but once you add all those reflections from multiple speakers what happens to the sound in your system? Are your ears making promises your brain can't keep? Is what you hear from the rear speakers a sound you would relate to the sound of the back of the hall or does it sound, too often, like the orchestra turned around behind you playing more quietly? How often does the sound from the rear become more like that open door that attracts your attention than the natural sound of reflections off a surface? And , I would really like to know if you are hearing those reflections off the early surfaces along the sides. Do you sense the music rolls down and through a space or are you hearing front and back and that is what you were expecting so that's close enough for your brain? Are you hearing an acoustic space that the performers existed in or are you hearing front and back?
What steps have you taken to achieve this result? Does anyone have a great story about a breakthrough in recreating the space top to bottom and side to side? We've pretty much agreed that the mix is still the key to good surround sound and most mixes don't convince us. Am I correct? So, what's lacking? What needs to happen to make this really convincing in terms of what you can control? I don't feel the answer is full range speakers all the way around but I could be wrong. Part of the promise the manufacturers made was the advances in surround would be easy to experience at any reasonable price level. John A., Ghia and several others have invested a fair amount of money into their surround system and I'd like to know what their system doesn't do for them. What still needs improving in your opinion? And, finally, yes, finally, where are the engineers who know how to make this work? Are you finding a particular label or engineer/producer that has the touch?
Any takers?
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1170
Registered: Dec-03
Ben,

Re May 21.

"There is no way that companies like Linn and DCS would produce players for a flawed medium."

Well, they produced CD players. I see Linn is now proud to be producing an in-car-system for the Aston Martin DB9, quite rightly. It has Dolby Pro Logic II. Wow. That is a "flawed medium" imho.

Those are good makers, I agree; but they produce players for the discs people actually have, or think they will have.

"Mofi and Linn would be producing DVD-A discs."

I remember reading fierce denouncements of CD, from Linn. The MD, Ivor Tiefenbrun, I think, was scathing about the medium, and dug in deeply against CD for years. In 1984, one could have said "CD is not as good as LP, because Linn does not make a CD player, or CDs. It only makes turntables and LPs".

Linn actually started Linn Records to demonstrate the superiority of LP, and to guarantee future LPs for for people thinking of buying a Linn turntable, and worried about the new success of CD.

Linn eventually caved in and started making CD players, and CDs, because they wanted to stay in business, and had no choice. That's what all companies do. I don't mind that.

I do mind the revisionist history on their web site "While Linn engineers were testing our flagship product, the Sondek LP 12 turntable, they became frustrated with the poor quality of some of the LPs they were using. As a result, we began pressing our own LPs to use in these tests."

And selling them. And telling everyone they would always be better than any CD, which they would never dream of producing. When did Linn cease LP production?

So, it is early days.

In the pipeline for DVD-A players: Naim. Meridian, Arcam and Linn are already there. Meridian is, too, and even invented MLP.

"Stereophile wouldn't have named the Sony SACD 1 their digital component of the year (a few years ago)."

Sure it would.

Practically every audiophile mag I saw on news stands for May featured the Sony SCD-XA9000ES SACD player/TA-DA9000ES digital mutichannel amp as Sony's new "flagship" models. Magazines have to sell, too. And who knows their full balance sheets, except themselves and their auditors?

But read what they actually say. Bottom line from Paul Miller in HiFi News ("Exclusive"....!), for example: "The SACD player...represents the real jewel in Sony's very heavyweight crown. If DVD leaves you cold, and you ever buy one last CD player, then make it the Sony '9000".

Sorry to interrupt, subsequent posters. Will come back to other points.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 295
Registered: Dec-03
jan personally i think you and others look at
surround music incorrectly.

what i mean by this is that i don't believe most
surround recorded music is meant to simulate
a concert enviornment.

i believe they just take advantage of the other
channels and give you a unique perspective of how
the music could sound.and when they do a good job
of mixing "to me" it can be a very rewarding experience.

i have read a few different artist have gone back
to remix some of their stuff for surround and
have enjoyed seperating some of the intruments
so you can hear them more clearly.

now to me this is where the full range speakers
all the way around come in.

if you have smaller speakers in the rears it will
still sound like it use to in other surround type
formats and that is an echo type effect which is
very much not to exciting to listen to.

now a lot of people can't get away from listening
to there music and trying to envision the live
performance.to me those are the people that more
than likely will not enjoy surround music.most
of your audiophiles will probably never like the
surround music formats.and that is fine that is
their perogative.

i feal their is enough 2 channel music around for
us to enjoy while having some excelent surround
experiences also.

i do not believe one replaces the other just lets
you enjoy more music."if you want"

i have been hearing the same music on the radio
for years so to me it is refreshing to hear it in
a new way on a system that is setup to play it
correctly.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 95
Registered: Dec-03
John A,

You didn't get the point. Sony has tried for over a decade to make MiniDisc work. It is a bad medium and that is why other compained never adopted it in their product lines. You aren't seeing that with SACD.

This kind of quote makes me wonder: "As My Rantz has picked up, and others have noticed, I am very distrustful of SACD. It is interesting to ask why it started as a stereo format in 1999 and became surround in 2001.

I guess there are two plausible points of view. One is that SACD was for people who care about sound, and "sold out"; "went down market" etc. under threat from DVD-A. I could so easily see myself there. But there is another: DVD-A brought the improved resolution of a DVD to audio, to address sound quality, and one obvious application was the old idea, finally realised, of getting quality surround sound. From the latter point of view, DVD-A was more a new, true audio technology than SACD, which was really about securing property rights on disc content, with "quality" primarily a sales pitch"

Is your distrust of SACD more in line with the fact that you chose to go the DVD-A route? Some sort of buyers remorse? DVD-A uses PCM which has been around for decades. SACD uses DSD which is new. DVD-A and SACD both attemt to secure property rights. Why do you think DVD-A players won't transmit 24/192 through digital outputs? I just don't get your argument.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1172
Registered: Dec-03
Ben,

Thank you. I have just written a long post off-line. It is in reply to earlier questions. If I leave it, it will be out of date. I promise to come back to your questions, after that. Even then, I will not have caught up with Jan V. Maybe we need a new thread, or two?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 96
Registered: Dec-03
BTW - New Morrissey CD is excellent. Good songs, great recording, cool packaging.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1173
Registered: Dec-03
Fascinating, everybody. I cannot keep up. But must. Ben and I should probably go back to arguing on "DVD-A and SACD- which way will the industry go?" (where I learned some good things from Ben).

I have to put Gregory right (May 21 on Plunging into Multi-channel ) on how we perceive the direction of a source of sound. I am in some doubt about which thread is best. I can put this there, too, if you will allow it.

Why stereo is so good

Phase is everything; amplitude nothing.

To demonstrate, here is an experiment. Close your eyes. Completely block one ear (finger in ear is good enough; this is why folk singers do it, I am not sure they know). Ask friends or family to say things from different locations, with and without one ear blocked. With one ear blocked, you cannot tell where the sound is coming from. You do not get the impression they have all moved to the side opposite the blocked ear - but the amplitude difference between your two ears become huge, and that is precisely the effect you would predict if amplitude ("loudness") is what gives you directional information.

So, it is not amplitude, it is phase. (what is phase? - I can make a diagram if anyone does not know).

What time resolution are we talking about? Microseconds, actually. Your ears are maybe 0.5 ft apart. Even with sound coming entirely from one side, (on a line projected from the one joining your ears) that is only about 500 microseconds' delay, since sound take 1 millisecond (equals 1,000 microseconds) to travel one foot.

Yet, you can certainly tell when a source of sound right in front of you has moved through only, say, ten degrees. Any one can hear that, no problem. The relative, direct amplitude change is close to zero. What actually tells you the sound source has moved, and by how much, is that the sound no longer reaches both ears at the same time: it has begun to reach one about 44 microseconds later than the other. Then the relative amplitude perceived by each ear becomes important, but that amplitude difference comes from the phase difference, not from the distance (and therefore loudness) of the source: it therefore depends on wavelength (and therefore frequency).

For example, at 10 kHz the 44 microseconds' delay we have calculated to result from a 10 degree movement of the source is nearly half a wavelength: if you just add the amplitudes at your two ears, after the source has moved, you are close to phase cancellation - compared with simple summation when the source was straight ahead. At 5 kHz, the 44 microseconds is nearly a quarter wavelength; and so on. The brain does all those calculations of amplitude differences, for many frequencies simultaneously, and arrives at a single, global solution for the angle through which the direction of the source of sound must have moved. And it can do it simultaneously for many different sources of sound. And it can resolve the different waveforms, and tell an oboe from a cor anglais. Computers? Huh! A mere abacus....

This is how stereo works. This is why phasing is so crucially important.

Why surround sound is better.

Now, Gregory's arguments (and I must say that Gregory turned me on to DVD-A; I thank him, others may condemn this fact).

"bass management is hundreds of times more important than delays"

I totally disagree. It is the other way round. Bass management is to compensate for different speaker efficiencies. It makes little difference, in most systems.

"No doubt, if one speaker is a few feet closer to you, it will have a tendency to make the sound seem like it is coming mainly from that direction".

No, that is not how it works. All you can tell is that THE SPEAKER is closer to you. You should not be listening to the speaker.

Gregory's point about the some instruments being further away than others, anyway:

"There can be a 30-40 foot difference between the front and back of the orchestra.".

Of course. Quite right. But you play into my hands. Stereo tells you nothing about that distance. Stereo is magical and wonderful, but all it does is arrange the sources along a line in front of you, and you do not know how far away that line is, on the original performance - all you can hear, from the reverberations in your room, is how far away are your speakers.

What do you need to tell how far away the instruments really are/were, as well as their relative positions?

Surround sound, that's what. Meaning 4.0 (extra channel up to 5.1 premitted, under duress) Without surround sound, you are listening to music reproduced in a way that tells you the directions of the different instruments, but not their distances.

Get 4.0/5.0/5.1 (recorded by folk who understand what they are doing); cut down your room reverberations; be aware of the reverberations from the hall in which the music was recorded; and, then, your brain will be able to arrive at that global sum of phase-dependent amplitude differences at different frequencies, and determine the positions of all the instruments, in two dimensions - both left-right AND front-back..

For the first time, you will be able to reproduce, in your home, the depth of the original sound stage. It can be awesome.

You absolutely DO need surround speakers for that. Be aware of the sound they produce, but do not listen to it.

Do not listen to any speaker.

Listen to the music.

The case rests, M'lud.

I shall take a break, and reply to Jan. Also, to Kegger: of course, you are quite right - not everyone is trying to reproduce a real performance in the first place. Also, now, to Ben. Basically, I agree with all. Our points of agreement far outweigh our differences. Except on the relation between music and surround sound, the original question on this thread.

May we have an "Ode to Jan Vigne"?

How about the title "Vignettes"?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 97
Registered: Dec-03
Multi-channel may be best for classical music. I will never know because it does not interest me. I listen mostly to alt country, rock, and bluegrsass and only know a handful of artists (Rundgren, B-Boys off the top of my head) have attempted surround (or quadrophonic) sound in a live setting. Most of the time you have a stage and a stereo PA facing the audience. Here is an interesting essay on putting high quality 2 channel tracks on concert DVD's (near the bottom of the newsletter).

http://www.psaudio.com/newsletters/5-04.asp

 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1177
Registered: Dec-03
Jan,

I have many times saluted Kegger for saying, essentially "each to his own". I also made some scathing comments of my own on that web site. What a clown. With friends that, who needs enemies?

I am going to reply in chunks. I need to up my "Post Number" rating.

I went to the link you kindly provided. I got "Welcome to NIRO web site. Please click your flag to enter". I haven't got a freakin' flag, and I don't want one. When I've calmed down, I'll go back, but anything they have to say on speakers or anything else is damned, for me, before they start.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1178
Registered: Dec-03
Jan,

I chose "Canada". Nice country.

Sublime link. Thank you.

"1999: Designed the compact six-CD car changer, small enough to fit inside the car".
What a genius - who would have thought of that last bit?

"2003: Released the NIRO 1.1, the world's first single-speaker 5.1 home theater system".
I aways thought "5.1" indicated the number of, er....? Is this New Math...?

"It doesn't matter if your TV is 15 inches or 35 inches...the screen size does not matter. In other words, your senses meld with the screen. "
No comment. Maybe, see "Terminator".

"NIRO1.1 works in any room of any shape, large or small."
Smaller than the speaker? See car. I once flew over the Millennium Dome... Shape? Anybody?

"To create a true 5.1 surround sound field from one speaker enclosure, we developed proprietary NIROSON processing. NIROSON CINEMA processing is unique to the NIRO 1.1 and it follows something called HRTF theory. What is HRTF? It's easy to tell, even with your eyes closed if someone is talking to you from the right or left or from where a fire engine's siren is wailing. You can do this because your brain can interpret the differences in how the sounds that hit your left and right ears. The physics that explains this phenomenon is called the Head Response Transfer Function (HRTF). Our proprietary NIROSON CINEMA algorithms are an application of HRTF. The algorithms are so complex we had to put a computer in the NIRO 1.1 to process them. The computer, the NIROSON algorithms and the speaker program your brain into believing the sound is coming from all around you".
OK, that explains it, then. Glad they cleared that up. "Head Response Transfer Function ". Yes. Time to re-write the Physics Textbooks.

Behind it all is surely lies the profound "BBB" principle which I have mentionend before: Bullshit Baffles Brains.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1179
Registered: Dec-03
Jan, Jan, it is so much simpler that all that. Instead of the Blumlein pair, we just need the Blumlein quartet. And four speakers: no more, no less.

Which Ambsonics site?

BTW You can do this because your brain can interpret the differences in how the sounds that hit your left and right ears. Full stop. Period. I did not edit, I promise.

I have another party trick. I have a Denon CD stereo test disc. It has the same track in-phase and out-of-phase. With Prologic or "EARS", the in-phase track sound much the same, while the out-of-phase track is put back in-phase, but comes out of the surrounds. It is quite striking, and sounds much better, of course. It is almost impossible not to turn round.
 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 290
Registered: Feb-04
J.A.

"NIRO1.1 works in any room of any shape, large or small."

Including the toilet?
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1180
Registered: Dec-03
Ben,

I said I would come back.

"Sony has tried for over a decade to make MiniDisc work. It is a bad medium and that is why other compained never adopted it in their product lines. You aren't seeing that with SACD."

Not yet, no. But it is obvious that the take-up has been disappointing to Sony and its licensees. The jury is still out.

"Is your distrust of SACD more in line with the fact that you chose to go the DVD-A route?"

It is certainly in-line - my scepticism about SACD was one of the reasons for my decision not to keep that option open.

"Some sort of buyers remorse?"

Not at all. The more I read and think about it, the more I think it was a good decision. For me. You were really helpful, actually, Ben - so were Gregory and others, on "What does 'DVD-Audio' mean here" and "...which way will the industry go?" I knew zero about these formats until I got discussing with you guys, then reading some magazine articles, etc. I am certainly not saying you and Gregory made bad decisions, either. We have different objectives and preferences. Also, I have a massive number of competing demands for my small amount of cash: Jan is quite wrong in saying I have an expensive system. I've never been in Ghia's enviable position; always moved a step at a time, and always tried to get something good that would last.

"DVD-A uses PCM which has been around for decades. SACD uses DSD which is new."

That does not influence me. New/old does not correlate with good/bad. Not in itself. That's my view.

"DVD-A and SACD both attemt to secure property rights."

My reading suggests that that is the primary purpose of SACD. I could be wrong. DVD-A has watermarking as an option, added routinely now by Warner for example, but it is not an intrinsic part of the format. Also, DVD-A comes from a consortium, with competing companies making different parts of the total system, and even competing with each other about the best implamentations. I find it interesting that Sony/Philips make both players/amps and discs - and hole the licences. This could be the reason Linn went the way it did. Each part of the company has to justify what it is trying to do to the other, and to the controlling board and shareholders. I've always prefered buying things from independents: speakers from people who stand or fall by making speakers, and so on.

"Why do you think DVD-A players won't transmit 24/192 through digital outputs?"

Because of "format rights agreements" (NAD at least are up-front about that) which are probably necessary for the consortium to hold together. I do not defend that; it is a scam, in my opinion. But everyone wants assurance that there will be some sort of a market for what they make, and invest in. Only the consumer can decide how far to let them go. What the 6-channel analogue connection is NOT about is bandwidth or "the only way to get pure, analogue sound" (that is the industry shooting itself in the foot, in my opinion, as an LP guy - anyone can see that, surely). Yet we heard exactly those arguments from a bunch of people on "What do we mean by 'DVD-Audio'.." if you remember. At that stage, I did not know what, or whom, to believe.

Personally, I admire Pioneer for going its own way with iLink/Firewire. I wonder if they can only do that because of a legal loophole, e.g. the forbidden digital links were the common ones; RCA co-ax and TOS-link optical. Nobody ever worried about people copying CDs, in the early days - there were no writers. The average computer then had no hard disc, and its operating system ran off a 512 kb floppy disc. No-one could foresee that people would one day easily be able to copy and share CDs. Most important of all, the internet was for only for geeks with Vax clusters etc., and the large-scale data storage meant 10 MB, and was expensive.

Clearly the whole industry is scared to death people are now going to start sharing/copying files instead of buying them - and from them. If the industry can't control the distribution of the media/discs, it is going to control the distribution of the content, if it can. Otherwise a lot of people are out of a job.

Personally, I have no problem with them doing something useful, instead, like sweeping streets or growing cabbages. Even hairdressing. But that's me (I have been described as an anarcho-syndicalist - I have no idea what that means).

So it all gets political, and I have to back off and say I am fairly pessimistic that technology is now actually being used for the service of the people who might benefit most. I think Ghia said something like that, too. I am also very sceptical that we are ever presented with the real agenda. This is not paranoia, it is common sense.

And, at the end of it all - no, I have not heard SACD. I have never, in any post here, compared the sound quality of SACD and DVD-A - I cannot speak about that. I note you, Gregory, and others, place a lot of value on the availability of titles. That's a good point, but I am not so bothered about that. If SACD wins, and DVD-A disappears, I'll maybe get an SACD player, one day. It will be no climb-down: I eventually gave in and bought an analogue tape cassette player. But I don't think I would have missed much, without one.

But I've got some DVD-A discs and a DVD-A player, so I've already got my money's worth. I sure won't ever throw them away. They are just a great step forward in sound quality, and get me closer to the music. That's all I can say.

So I do!

Thanks for your time Ben; you ask straight questions, give straight answers, and it's always interesting. I write too much, I know that. I take some comfort from Jan's posts....
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1181
Registered: Dec-03
M.R.,

Do you mean ""NIRO1.1 flushes down toilets of any shape, large or small."?

Man, you've got to follow that link from Jan. It is priceless.
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest
Anarcho-syndicalist - Try www.ambisonic.net. With all apologies, I had Dallas TexMex for lunch and I'm off to a small room to check out the Head Response Transfer Function. Sounds so much more ... polite, that way.
 

Silver Member
Username: Rick_b

New york Usa

Post Number: 218
Registered: Dec-03
You are indeed a gentleman..........Jan.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Sem

Post Number: 93
Registered: Mar-04
2c
The weather's been nice so I'm behind in my reading. But something you touched on yesterday has given me cause to respond (in agreement). You mention that certain types of music possibly lend themselves to the whole surround scene better than others, and you give some examples. While classical music remains off my radar for now, I can understand why you'd think it might benefit from surround. I also would agree that surround can enhance "trippy music." You gave the example of Pink Floyd's DSOTM, certainly one of the most widely recognizable albums anywhere. It is on my list because of that. I definately have a baseline for comparison - 3 LPs two regular cds and one ultra gold something or other disc. Floyd should list me on their credits. I'm sure I'm not the only one in that boat either :-)
And who knows how much better it would have sounded if they'd asked the original recording engineer to do the surround mix ; )
It also seems you mention the Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, almost as much as John A. goes on about all that is good and right with DVD-A :-) I think I may put that title on my short-list to pick up. You say that Beck's "Sea Change" and YBTPR both were mixed by Elliot Scheiner. I also see his name attached to Steely Dan's "Everything must Go" and Porcupine Tree's "In Absentia." He certainly seems to be making a name for himself in the surround mixing business. In fact, if you're interested check out http://www.yamaha.com/publications/allaccess/summer2K1/08sheiner.htm

Back to my reading.....


 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 291
Registered: Feb-04
People

NIRO1.1 somehow reminds me of Bose!

Seriously though, some of the stuff transfering from heads in reponse to functions relating to audio in this thread and a couple of others is simply astounding. Whether they be short and to the point, or eloquent epics, the opinions, arguments, rebuttals, and testimonials are enough to leave my poor head spinning.

I'm not complaining though. Most of the generously provided information is priceless and I do learn a heck of a lot. Whether it is retained is another thing! But, what I have deduced from all points of view is that musical perfection (or the proximity to) is in the ears of the beholder. And the beauty of it is this: we don't really need to form an opinion of what is really the best, because we can have it all. Technology itself may be the clear winner even though it has yet to lead us to Musical Utopia. And if it had, then we would surely be the losers because, as humans, we'd still be left wanting, as there is no one who could tell us we'd reached that point.

Because of my lesser knowledge and experience in all things audio, I cannot contribute much to these debates, however, I certainly do enjoy them and I have many to thank in this forum for my modest advancement into this realm and the enjoyment that has followed. And sadly for our savings account, it's not over yet.

So guys and gals, don't hold back!

BTW: "HRTF" - I'll have to tell my wife that one! Much more tactful than: "Not tonight dear I've got a headache."
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1188
Registered: Dec-03
Short reponses.

Jan: Thanks for the ambisonics link; just my cup of tea. WIll try to get my head round that and report back. Watch out for Black Widows (do I have the correct Southern State?) while disposing of NIRO1.1

Rick: Full agreement from me.

Sem: TDSOTM is one of my wife's favourites. I keep suggesting we get that and she says "No, it's OK, we have the CD". I will tell her I know a guy who has six different versions. I personally lost track with PF after Ummagumma (?) which a student friend had and played all the time; his was the first hifi I ever set eyes and ears on. They had a No 1 hit then, too, was it "See Emily Play" or similar. I will check. BTW "All that is good and right about DVD-A". It's OK, thanks, I understand, please do not explain. Anyone who repeats "Americans have no sense of irony" needs only to be directed to this site, an oasis of humour.

My Rantz: as on other posts, you self-effacingly summarise a philosophical position the World needs more than anything, imho. "And if it had, then we would surely be the losers because, as humans, we'd still be left wanting, as there is no one who could tell us we'd reached that point." But there would surely be people who would tell us exactly that, or that we could find Utopia, if we followed them. They are the same guys we have all around today, and who have screwed things up. We do not want them, and should not even listen. Our reply is, and would still be: "no-one can tell us we have reached that point, except we ourselves. Furthermore, we can never know for sure, even if, by chance we are really there; we can only go on listening".

Thanks, guys. Apologies to all for the rant to Ben.

All I can think of for HRTF is Hormone Replacement Therapy Foolishness. I note that the audio phenomenon which HTRF "explains", according to NIRO, is described in an incomplete sentence. This seems apt, somehow. Personally, I don't need trippy music, finding the World is bizarre enough already. I recall the old adage:

"Warning: Do not adjust your mind - reality is at fault".
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 196
Registered: Feb-04
Sem,

The weather is lousy here so I've been able to catch up on my reading. The DSOTM 30th anniversary SACD is definitely worth getting, even if you have it in other formats. It's a great recording in both stereo and 5.1. Before the SACD I had been listening to my original LP version, which I preferred to the CD version I had heard years ago. I haven't listened to the gold CD though. I'm sure you know better than I about the various remasters of DSOTM. All I can say is the SACD version is better than the original LP version. Perhaps if you buy the SACD disc and write to Alan Parsons, you could make into the liner notes for the 40th anniversary release in 25.3 surround sound.

I apologize if I repeat myself when I recommend the Beck and Flaming Lips discs. They are definitely technically masterful, the best I've heard. "Gaucho," which I haven't heard, has also received great reviews, including from Kegger. However, if you don't like the music, the recording quality and brilliant Elliot Scheiner mixes won't really matter.

John A. and Mrs. A.,

If DSOTM is available in DVD-A, as a multi-channel fan you would probably dig it. If there isn't a DVD-A version, I would say that's another reason to get an SACD player. (Before you flame me, I just want you to know I'm kidding, sort of (smiley face here with wink))

My Rantz,

Like you, I'm not as knowledgable about audio equipment as most contributors here, but it's all good. I think the discussions are better if everyone pitches in their 2 cents.

Peace.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 303
Registered: Dec-03
mr. rantz and mr. 2 cents i think it is because
of this collection of oddballs that we seem to
have hear "everyone included" that brings out the
good and bad. that i think we all have learned at
least a little something from each other.

or at least a new way to look at things and maybe
change some oppinions we have had for so long.

if you delve into this hobby with an open mind
i think you can enjoy it a lot more.

if anyone who hasn't been hear before was to read
about 3 of the threads that the majority of this clan
has posted on they could probably answer just about
any question pertaining to sacd/dvd-audio or anything
related to surround music with out even having to ask!

so sit back crank up the system and have a cold one on me cheers!
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest
I hope everyone who is brave enough to venture into the www.ambisonics.net site will take the time to click on "articles" and "links". There are some interesting but sometimes dense (in a good way) things to be found there that address many of the comments and questions that have been put forth in this and other, similar threads. Spend some time there.
After you have had your fill at Ambisonics try a few other artcles I have found interesting and informative:
www.stereophile.com/musicintheround/ At least read #1 and #4.
www.soundfieldusa.com/b_format.html#future
www.transaudiodirect.com/sodedvd.html
www.transaudiodirect.com/sounmasel.html
www.trifield.co.uk/audio.swf
Kegger - As we have all agreed, what we enjoy and how we get there is each individual's journey. But, I have to take exception to the idea that multi-channel sound should not be held to the standard of truth that has been the driving force of audio improvement over the last century. That is somewhat the point of this discussion; essentially, how much have the music and audio industries dumbed down the product the consumer is recieving. Please don't take offense at my remarks, but, if the goal was not to continually improve the quality of reproduction against a single standard, the absolute sound, if you will, we would either be back in the days of mechanical horns and cactus needles reproducing the sound or there would be so many variations on "sound" that picking a component would be even more like walking into the breakfast cereal aisle than it already is. Though not all recorded information must be classical music or conform to a template of I sit here and the performers sit there, without the standard of trying to recreate the experience of the original event there is no real "correct". It has been the bane of the music industry for decades that studio albums have become exercises in, as one author put it, "I can do it" vs. "I should do it". (Curse you, Sgt. Pepper!!!) Wouldn't you prefer, cost aside, to have the abilty to come home and hear your favorite performer as if she/he/they really existed right in front of you? as an example, a neighbor had me assist in his purchase of a new Home Theater with a 50" Pioneer Elite plasma, Rotel/B&W and high defintion satelite. As I sat there finishing the adjustments and tweaking the remote person after person would walk into the room, stand there for a minute, seeing HDTV on a realy good screen for the first time, then declare, "It's just like being there.". So much so that it has become a joke between us whenever anyone new sees our A/V set ups. That is what should be the goal of audio, don't you think?
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest
Ghia - I would like to hear your response to "a big box in the center". Did you set your system up with a TV in the middle or is this an audio only system now? What are you hearing?
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