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New CDP or Current CDP + DAC

 

Bronze Member
Username: Chriswild87

Holden, MA

Post Number: 86
Registered: Dec-08
I have very limited knowledge when it comes to DACs and CDP and even less in listening experience. Over the last year I have focused on amplification and speakers, for which I am now running some B&W CM1's with a Rotel 1062. I very much like the sound, but I know these two components can be much better with a little time (speaker placement) and some more investment.

My current CDP is an old Sony 5-disc changer from BB that I bought years ago running toslink to my H/K 445 which is doing the D-A conversion for both my CDP and my CPU through USB.

My primary goal is to gain transparency in the mid and highs and sure up the bass. Secondly any sound stage improvement would be great as I love when the speakers disappear and objects "appear across the sound stage".

Based on these goals and the upgrade bug where do you guys feel the most benefit could be gained. New CDP without DAC (~$500) or new DAC (~$500) using my old CDP as a transport.

In my brief search I have come across some options

DAC:

Arcam rDac
Peachtree Dac-it
Cambridge DACMagic

CDP:

Oppo BDP-83SE (used)
Marantz SA8004 (used) - a bit of stretch on budget
Marantz CD5004

Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17472
Registered: May-04
.

Have you considered dispensing with the CDP altogether and going with a computer sourced audio system? It would be cheaper that buying a CDP which is of sufficient quality to pair with your system.

Your questions raise too many issues for an easy answer. However, if I were in your place, I would strongly consider a computer based system. In my personal system I hope to have finally purchased my last CDP. I have an external DAC which will be fed a coax signal from the existing player. (I wouldn't suggest the five disc changer is ideal for use as a transport only device.) I'm also in the process of setting up a USB based computer system as an alternate source in the same main system area. The DAC I chose handles both types of inputs.

There are, though, a growing number of very high quality DAC's which are fed only from a USB port off your computer. I recently heard music played through a Jolida based system just this spring at a local audio show and I was quite impressed with the overall quality of music reproduction coming from a relatively inexpensive system. The system was using a Jolida miniDAC which sells for less than $150; http://www.jolida.com/product/glassfx/fxdac taking its input from a midlevel laptop. While certainly not the best overall sound at the show when you consider ten of thousands of dollars had been invested in several of the display systems, the value per dollar was definitely out the roof. An even less expensive netbook computer can serve as the intermediary device between your music files and the system proper. How you handle the files is more important than what you use in the computer department. http://www.computeraudiophile.com/

Also, an iPod has become a decent music source and many external DAC's are being designed specifically for use with an iPod. (MusicMan retails portable players with high quality DAC's which could easily sub for the iPod in an even more simplified system.) Here your choices are anywhere from a fairly simple yet effective dock which will replace the iPod's internal DAC and provide sufficient output amperage to give the music some "oomph" when run into a receiver's or pre amp's "AUX" circuits. You have your choice of DAC's which accept several types of digital outputs; http://www.stereophile.com/content/peachtree-idac-da-converter or just a single USB output; http://www.stereophile.com/content/peachtree-dac149it-da-converter

http://www.stereophile.com/content/2012-recommended-components-digital-processor s



The options available to you are literally too many to name. While it doesn't appear the CD disc is going away anytime soon, replacing a somewhat expensive CDP every few years no longer makes sense when transports can last for a decade or more but the DAC portion of the system will require more frequent upgrades. If you switch to a computer based system, you'll probably have a system with greater flexibiltiy and equally as high quality music reproduction as you would find in any high quality CDP.



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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2915
Registered: Oct-07
DacMagic is no longer current. The DacMagic+ has replaced it for a slight increase in price.
At the same time, Cambridge introduced a lower end model at a big savings against the 600$ (street price) of the DM+

I have a DM+ and use 3 of the 4 inputs. Fine piece.

Think ahead to multiple digital sources when you consider your purchase
 

Bronze Member
Username: Chriswild87

Holden, MA

Post Number: 87
Registered: Dec-08
Jan,

Thank you very much for the response. It was very detailed and extremly logical. I gather from your response to paraphrase an external DAC of good quality will allow for more options as this will allow for CPU based audio of a high quality and CD audio of good quality too as the technology that makes a good analog CDP changes much more rapidly than that of the technology and the mechanic parts that make up a good transport.

In saying this, what characters classify a good transport i.e in a CDP everyone takes about the internal DAC and the ability for it to re-clock and potentailly upscale the music (i believe this is correct) but how when I look at the specs or the technology understand that in example the NAD 515BEE is a "better" transport than a CA 350C or is it all subjective?

I know I am writing quite a bit but I also understand that the internet dispite its flaws has many people willing to help others to learn with useful unbiased information.

In saying this I went to my local dealer earlier today posing the same questions, granted they tried to sell and sway me towards the products they sell, they did enlightenment and also provide with more questions.

The first: they said that a dedicated CDP playing analog out will out-class and out sound any transport external DAC combo due to a clocking issue and that a mid level DAC and transport could not sync clocks whereas a mid level CDP has its internal DAC and transport synced.

In your opinion is this true or have you heard this before?

Secondly, I listened to two mid level CDPs today, the NAD516BEE and the Marantz 5004CD. I found the NAD to be more smooth, have a crisper low end and darker treble, with better imaging than the Marantz (being played through Marantz receiver and B&W CM8 as I have the 1's, no rotel hooked up unfortunately).

These characteristics I experienced are these being produced buy the transport side or the internal DAC side. I.E if I use the NAD as a transport with an Arcam DAC will "hear" more of the DAC or the transport in terms of sonic characteristics?

Finally, I am also looking at Cambridge Audio for a CDP/transport dependent on direction. How does the house sound compare to the maratz and NAD, more or less transparent, brightness between to would be where I would want to be and imaging as good or better than the NAD is what I am looking for.

Thank you to all in advanced.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Chriswild87

Holden, MA

Post Number: 88
Registered: Dec-08
Sorry forgot yet another question that was raised: is overall imaging ability based mostly on the sources ability to decode the data or the speakers themselves (if positioned correctly for the room). The dealer indicated it was the source and the quality that truly brings about the imaging prowess. Is this what you have found in your experience?

Thanks
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17475
Registered: May-04
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Obviously, reading the disc correctly is where CDP's and transports start. If the signal is not extracted bit perfect, then nothing downstream in the system can replace that data. If interpolation errors exist at the source, they will be passed down through the rest of the system chain.

As to what makes a good transport, that is a question I don't believe any individual has answered. Certainly each designer has their opinions and they build around those opinions. You can begin reading about transports and this should give you some idea of what to consider when you are choosing for yourself. Keep in mind most transports and most CDP's today have a very limited selection of CD based transports to choose from. The market has moved onto building DVD based transports and, though they are backwards compatibile, a good DVD transport isn't always a good CD transport. The Esoteric (Tascam) players are said to contain the very best transport available today. I suppose there would be some diagreement from competing manufacturers but, in the Esoteric's price range, there aren't many competitors. It has been proven and generally accepted though, that a transport can alter the quality of reproduction.

Pay no attention to the disc drawer - if there is one. A flimsy drawer can be loaded into the player and the use of a good clamping mechanism will resolve all "flimsiness" issues once the disc begins playing. On the other hand, a solid drawer mechanism can easily mean the manufacturer has used a transport with higher quality throughout. I have no facts to back this up but the best CDP's I have owned and heard tend to use a simple top loading transport - such as you will find on a Rega Apollo - with three balls attached to the center spindle. That's not a recommendation, just an observation.


"The first: they said that a dedicated CDP playing analog out will out-class and out sound any transport external DAC combo due to a clocking issue and that a mid level DAC and transport could not sync clocks whereas a mid level CDP has its internal DAC and transport synced."


I'm not exactly sure what "playing analog out" means. Is that meant to say, just using the CDP as it stands and taking the analog output to your pre amp? If so, I'd say stating that as fact is somewhat like saying the Yankees at home will always beat the Orieles due to the left field fence in the new Yankee stadium. There are too many variables to take into account when you say anything so utterly sweeping in nature when it is based upon one assumption of (dis)similarities. For example, one selling point of a high quality integrated amplifier is the ability to dispense with one interconnect cable between pre amp and power amp. That's a correct statement of fact but not a correct usage of logic. Any integrated amplifier vs separates will always have a large and typically noisey power supply meant to fed the power amp in closer proximity to the noise sensitive circuits of the pre amp. That's a bad point for not having an interconnect between the two components. So, which is the correct opinion? As usual they are only opinions and opinions are not facts.

Jitter and clocking errors have been discussed in high end audio since the mid 1980's when external digital devices were first created to deal with the problems known to exist in the "perfect sound" of CD's. How you go about resolving those issues is up to the individual. We've gone through too many variations to even begin to name. Jitter and clocking errors exist even in a CDP, so going that route is no sure problem solver. Many CDP designers and transport designers have come up with modifications to their circuits in an attempt to minimize both values. However, jitter and clocking errors seem to be the fad d'jour of digital audio. While they are certainly issues which need to be resolved, looking only at the jitter and clocking errors tends to make you miss that your rear tires are low on air and the backseat is uncomfortable. Don't get caught up in too many buzzwords because they change constantly and forever. It's a daunting task, but do some reading about digital circuits and make up your own mind regarding what's important and what's not. Never take anyone's word for something when they say, "Take my word ... ". Like listening to talk radioheads, when they say, "Those people ... ", don't trust them. When a retailer says, "All CDP's will ... ", they are just as guilty of obfuscation as the talkers.

Many of todays external DAC's have addressed the issues you - and your dealer - have mentioned. Is their approach to resolving these issues the best ? That's very difficult to say since the cables between the components will alter the numbers. High quality cables - which needn't cost alot - can go along way towards minimizing the problems. So where does that leave you? Still in limbo. If you can afford, say, a $1k CDP, you could also afford a $1k DAC. If you put together the components with care, my edge would go to the higher quality DAC than to the CDP which has to compromise funds to include a transport.

Even the $500 USB DAC's are getting very good reviews right now. And those DAC's with a coax input seem to gain in a computer (USB) based system when a USB to S/PDIF converter is used in line. But check out the AudioQuest Dragonfly, the Halide DAC and the HRT DAC's before you make up your mind about a CDP. There are other less well known DAC's to consider but those should give you a decent basis for comparison.


The CD is a medium which is being outpaced by downloads. That fact is unasailable. CD's wil eventually attain the status of vinyl in a high quality system and CD is not going away without a fight. The digital market is going fast and furious with new designs and new ideas. For myself, I will continue to have a CDP in my system for the foreseeable future. But it will probably feed an external DAC as that's where the real movement forward seems to be occurring. Once again, with only a handful of quality CD transports availabe to a designer, what is your opinion of CD's future moves forward in quality? I'm not guessing it will occur in the transports you and I can afford. I am guessing the DAC's and the analog out section will continue to improve as digital in some form dominates the market.



" These characteristics I experienced are these being produced buy the transport side or the internal DAC side. I.E if I use the NAD as a transport with an Arcam DAC will "hear" more of the DAC or the transport in terms of sonic characteristics?"


I can't answer that because I don't have your ears and your musical priorities. We all listen for different values in music - expecially music reproduction - and what I prefer might not have any relevance to what you prefer. Would there be a difference for either of us? Probably, but I sold high end audio for twenty five years and it was my job to identify the "what's different" questions for my clients. Considering the analog output section of a DAC can be the single part which has both the greatest influence on the final quality and the circuit most easily fudged by a manufacturer who distracts you with Sabre and TI and any number of other chips in the D/A process, I'd still put my money on the sound you hear from your proposed combination being that of the DAC's analog section.



" Finally, I am also looking at Cambridge Audio for a CDP/transport dependent on direction. How does the house sound compare to the maratz and NAD, more or less transparent, brightness between to would be where I would want to be and imaging as good or better than the NAD is what I am looking for."


You'll clearly get different answers from different listerns as one or the other will float their priorities boat. IMO NAD is the most "laid back", Marantz is relatively neutral in its price range and Cambridge can be a bit too much if attention is not paid to system synergy. That said, I would suggest - as I did to all my clients - that you forget the audio buzzwords. If you are making values such as "imaging" and "brightness" your motivators, you are, first, missing the real point of a higher quality music reproduction system and, secondly, always going to find another component that can outdo whatever you presently own in those areas. There are too many word swhich have become reviewer shorthand for "good audio" to be concerned with in a hifi system.

Pay attention to the music first and foremost.

I would quite often ask my clients if they ever listened to live music. If they haven't - or if they'd only heard amplified live music - what were they expecting from their system when it comes to reproducing music? Many of them had no ideas. Many of them regurgitated buzzwords from a magazine. And a very few knew how music was structured and how a musician went about their business. Those were the few who paid attention to the music because that was their purpose for buying a higher quality system - to hear more completely into the artist's intentions.

I listen to a lot of mono recordings which, by today's standards do not have the expansive soundstage and razor sharp imaging of a modern multi-mic'd, isolation boothed pop/rock music stereo recording captured with a 168 channel mixer and then processed to death in post production. What they do have when you compare it to live music is really quite a bit better than most modern recordings due to the way in which they were recorded. But, most of all, when all the buzzwords have been stripped away describing what the system can do, all that's left is the music. Either it moves you or it doesn't. If it doesn't but it can image like a MF with stereo, I couldn't care less for that component.

I happen to use fifty year old McIntosh tube amps - among others. When they were designed, stereo was still an option for most systems. They do a wonderful job at imaging and soundstage - as good as virtually any modern tube amp I've listen through - but they don't forget they were designed to reproduce music with the utmost transparency. Forget "accurate", it normally can't boogie. Focus on being transparent to the source above all other values. My systems have always been put together to extract the music even from the worst recordings. If that's not what I'm after - the music , what's the point of spending all this money?

Certainly the recording is the place where it all begins. "Audiophile" recordings are there to prove that, though too many don't do a good job at it. But listen, for example, to the fifty year old Mercury Living Presence and RCA Living Stereo recordings (both available in mono, two and three channel formats) if you want to hear what the recording does for the reproduction values. These were very simple, three microphone recordings made with the highest quality equipment. After fifty years, these are still recordings which demonstrate the value of paying attention to the source first - the disc itself in this case. Your system can be no better than the source. As I mentioned, if information is left out, nothing in the chain can replace it and nothing can make up for a poor source.

But forget about "imaging" as a priority. If the system is right and the music moves you, the imaging will be right enough to satisfy most anyone. Do a little search for NAIM equipment. Their purpose in all of their designs is to make music which is interesting. Imaging and soundstaging can be bettered by many components but not their ability to play interesting music. NAIM gear generally sounds more like what you will hear at a live music performance when there are no amplifiers. If you're not familair with that sound, I would strongly urge you to go listen to some music before you make up your mind regarding a system. Figure out what makes music interesting for you and not what makes a hifi system perform tricks you are being told the system should do.





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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17476
Registered: May-04
.

https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/672623.html
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2919
Registered: Oct-07
Article on transports...computer and otherwise.

link\{http://www.codebunny.org/audio/cdtransports.html,http://www.codebunny.org/ audio/cdtransports.html}

Now, about transports. Philips and Sony 'invented' CD about 30 years ago. I've got an original 14 bit player and bought it new, at that time.
Most CD players use transports from one of a few sources.
Sony, Philips, Sanyo, Toshiba, Panasonic and a smattering of others. The first 2 on this list sell the vast majority of transports. At the same time, sellers like Cambridge Audio will use the SAME transport in the 300$ player as the 1500$ player......
Check out THIS link for further information.

link\{http://vasiltech.nm.ru/CD-Player-DAC-Transport.htm,http://vasiltech.nm.ru/ CD-Player-DAC-Transport.htm}

If I were searching for a transport only, I'd find the common or most reliable unit...probably one of the Sony KSS or Philips Pro or CDM series and search ACROSS lines for those transports.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2920
Registered: Oct-07
http://vasiltech.nm.ru/CD-Player-DAC-Transport.htm
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2921
Registered: Oct-07
http://www.codebunny.org/audio/cdtransports.html
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17477
Registered: May-04
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Another opinion; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/technology/personaltech/a-sound-system-as-reso nant-a-concert-hall-tool-kit.html



leo, while I appreciate the effforts on display in your second link, I'm always sceptical of anyone who draws such conclusions based solely on static measurements. Such measurements are always limited in scope and, if the tester doesn't delve deeply enough into the measurements, there could easily be differences which are meaningful but not readily apparent. In the end, subjective listening comparisons are, IMO, more valuable than a raft of static tests aimed at uncovering only a handful of test bench measurements. Most of us accept the idea that what measures alike on a test bench might not - and probably will not - sound alike in a real world music situation.




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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17478
Registered: May-04
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This is, more or less, the current trend in USB DAC design ...

"To achieve the maximum resolution, a D/A converter must use a high-precision clock circuit running at a fixed frequency to control the timing of the conversion of each digital sample to an analog voltage. By contrast, almost all USB DACs operate in what's called adaptive USB mode, which means having to use a variable-frequency clock rather than a fixed-frequency master clock. For various reasons, a computer cannot maintain perfect timing of the data packets it sends a DAC via USB. Most adaptive USB DACs are based on one of Burr-Brown's PCM270x family of chips. The BB chip typically changes the master-clock frequency to match the average sampling frequency of the data it receivesâ€"hence the "adaptive." The drawback to this, says Ayre (and which John Atkinson's measurements of other USB DACs seem to confirm), is that adaptive USB DACs tend to have high levels of jitter. Also, the BB receiver chip maxes out at a resolution of 16 bits and a 48kHz sample rate.

The USB standards documents also list a mode of operation called "asynchronous." This is not to be confused with Asynchronous Sample Rate Converters; asynchronous USB operation is called that because the DAC's master clock isn't synchronized to any clocks within the computer. Instead, the DAC is controlled by a high-precision fixed-frequency clock, and, to match this clock, the DAC controls the flow of data packets from the computer to a buffer upstream of the D/A converter chips
.
"
http://www.stereophile.com/digitalprocessors/ayre_acoustics_qb-9_usb_dac/




More info;
"Asynchronous mode is technically most advanced in that it has a feedback loop so that the amount of data in the frame can be controlled ...

The thing is: Asynchronous USB data transfer doesn't guarantee perfect sound**. Well, technically speaking, it does. But bit-perfect transfer doesn't guarantee enjoyable sound. When using a PC as source, having very precise, very correct sound can be too much of a good thing if the source computer already sounds thin or when the rest of your system tends to the overanalytical. Having all the bits in place is a good starting point, but many tests I've done have shown that extremely precise dacs can be very unforgiving and too-controlled sounding, while other dacs can be extremely musical. But what constitutes musical? This is something that everyone has to decide for him or herself but my point is that what you find sounding good doesn't neccesarily have to measure well. This sounds controversial, I know. Of course it is best to use accurate applications on the computer and also try to keep the data transfer as integer as possible. But this would lead to the best sound only if everything else in the system is carefully matched. For example: on my full size PC, I like to use kernel streaming. It provides the best soundquality in my system. But when I use the Macbook, I prefer iTunes without additions such as Amarra, simply because the Macbook, for whatever reason, sounds very grey, flat, undimensional and technical. In my opinion, using bit-perfect transfer (for example by means of Amarra) pushes this already lean and mean sound over the edge.


Compare it with the analog, physical world. If you were to assemble a system based solely on specs, chances are that it will end up sounding very mediocre. Use your ears instead, swap some cables, try a different rack, add component feet etcetera and you will effectively have coloured the system to match your taste or compensate for its weaknesses. In the computer world it is not much different.


The bottom line? Use your ears, not only your mind, and listen to the computer/transport/interface/dac of your choice and don't let the technical mumbo jumbo get too much in the way!"
;

http://www.hifi-advice.com/USB-synchronous-asynchronous-info.html




Yet another approach; http://www.halidedesign.com/bridge/design/




Audio is full of trade offs. If I give you one thing, I will usually take away another, or possibly two. If I give you a single chassis CDP with the possibility of lower jitter, I will take away the benefits of, say, easy upgradability and isolated power supplies for each portion of the player; ie, transport and DAC or DAC and analogue output section.

The task of selecting which component best suits your needs and desires is one in which each positive is weighed against each negative and an eventual compromise is reached.



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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2923
Registered: Oct-07
99% agree. Measures don't tell the whole story. However, IF...(biggie) enough valid (another biggie) data is taken LISTENING coorelations can be made which make sense, or better sense, anyway, of what has been measured. That apparently is the history of hi-fi from few or NO measures to todays impressive suite of abilities to measure....and still miss the point.

I was just reading somebody who is testing amps to redline using resistors. Big set of measurment gear, scope, signal generator, dummy load, variac....the works and than some. The dummy load is water cooled and will sink several KW at several resistances. Big deal. Speakers aren't resistors and 2 amps which measure the same into 4, 8 and 16 ohm resistors will NOT measure the same into a reactive load. So much for measurements.

My dad used to tell me......'Don't sweat the small stuff'.

That's why my system is stable. Sounds fine to ME over the vast majority of source material. If somebody wants to gift me something at Christmas, make it a Pass INT-150, which I'll take un-listened......or hesitation.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17480
Registered: May-04
.

"IF...(biggie) enough valid (another biggie) data is taken LISTENING coorelations can be made which make sense, or better sense, anyway, of what has been measured."



"Compare it with the analog, physical world. If you were to assemble a system based solely on specs, chances are that it will end up sounding very mediocre. Use your ears instead, swap some cables, try a different rack, add component feet etcetera and you will effectively have coloured the system to match your taste or compensate for its weaknesses."



Richard Heyser made his statement regarding measurements when he built a technically perfect amp in the 1970's. No one, not even the severe objectivists, thought the amp to be of a high quality when music was the final objective.


"Measurements & Sound Quality


By John Atkinson •

"One of the worst-kept secrets in audio engineering is that what we hear does not always correlate with what we measure." So wrote the late Richard Heyser 30 years ago, as quoted in Time Delay Spectrometry, a 1987 anthology of his writings (footnote 1). What do we hear? Music heard live consists of a sound pressure that changes according to the logical demands of two things that have no physical reality: the way in which music is structured in time and pitch, and how that structure is ordered by the composer/musician. Heyser, one of the most perceptive audio engineers I've had the privilege to meet, repeatedly emphasized in his essays and papers that the reproduction of music is a multidimensional event ... "
; link{http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/398awsi/index.html,http://www.stereoph ile.com/asweseeit/398awsi/index.html}





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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2924
Registered: Oct-07
I think we've had at least part of this chat before:

State of measurement art is changing. Has been for years and will continue into the foreseeable future.
Even circuit simulations which never existed past the ohms law level are now very detailed.
The 3rd revision of SPICE is being used.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPICE

So, the art of measurment is always improving....the first distortion measures helped with what people heard and now you could measure it......And while I'd agree that 100% correlation is still a way down the road, and the end may not even be in sight, that the progress made has been dramatic.
I find it amusing that you quote JA.....
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17483
Registered: May-04
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JA was quite the fan of Heyser. Partly due to their shared nationality and mostly, I suspect, because Heyser represents the pinnacle of an objectivist educaton resulting in a highly subjective approach to problem solving. While I was on the Stereophile forums he and I had several discussions of Heyser's thinking. I'd known a bit about Heyser and his theories for sometime but JA was more fully informed than I could have been. I would personally rank Heyser as one of the top five minds in audio and probably the most significant in the area of music perception as it correlates to objective measurements. His theory of how humans perceive music has enormous similarities to the work performed by cognitive scientists several decades hence.


I'm very suspicious of measurements in general when anyone claims these static numbers can be predicitive of music perception. Somewhat like speaker designers never seeming to talk to amplifier designers, those people who determine which measurements are relevant to audio quality have never spoken to the cognitive scientists who work with perception. Ignoring Heyser's perception of music as a multi-dimensional experience, they still seem to ignore the fact audio is about music, not sinewaves. In other words, the objectivists remain detached from the reality of the experience while developing more measurements to satisfy themself.

Over a decade has passed since JA had promised to author a comprehensive article on which speaker measurements are relevant to what sound quality value when listening to music. While a few simple truths have been recognized in this regard, the multi-dimensional apects of music make the task one of monumental proportions. To my knowledge, Atkinson has dropped the project altogether - along with several others which promised much but delivered very little.




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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2925
Registered: Oct-07
When doing process improvement activities, we had 4 quadrants to address.
The 1st quadrant was 'easy / lots'....Easy fix with BIg results.
Next?
2nd quad was Easy fix w/ small payback.
Than?
Hard fix w/ large payback
and finally?
Hard Fix with Small payback.

This is where we are with hifi measurments. All the low hanging fruit would appear to be taken. Easy things with smaller paybacks have also been address while hard things to measure with large paybacks have also been eaten into. The last catagory of Hard things to measure with small payback has not even been touched, except perhaps by some of the perceptual people......
But the further along, the more difficult it becomes to get more results, until a 'wall' is reached.

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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17484
Registered: May-04
.

The problem with any of that IMO is that any "quandrant" can be measured to who wouldn't have it but few people will agree on what the measurement means. As always, if they all agreed, we'd have one amplifier that we'd all own.

This is the dog chasing its own tail. The objectivists get to decide what to measure and they get to declare it a good measurement. Head to any of the objectivist forums to see them all congratulating themself for all the numbers they can compile. Not a word about music being the goal. It's like saying the operation was a complete success - but the patient died. Certain people do not understand the larger picture of what measurements should mean. So they just measure - and declare it good.






Music is temporal, it occurs in real time and no static measurement can predict what will occur in the mext nanosecond. Read the Atkinson article on Heyser for a bit of what he saw as a near insurmountable problem with measurements.


I've yet to meet a severe objectivist who won't be an @ss when told someone uses tubes. Yet there are too many tube amps which are capable of excellent music reproduction to dismiss the entire genre because you can't get your head out of an oscilloscope or a distortion analyzer.


Convincing me we are making headway with measurements isn't likely to happen. The more we measure solid state, the more antiquated solid state becomes. We can count 1's and 0's forever and still not scratch the code that quantifies "music". Yeah, we know a lot of numbers. What we don't know is what makes an audio component reproduce interesting and emotionally involving music. I agree with Heyser that we probably never will because the people in charge of looking aren't looking in the right places.



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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2926
Registered: Oct-07
Jan, you miss my point.
Process improvement CAN be measured. Yield. How much out for how much in. Rework. Cycle time. Equipment utilization .... Stuff like that. All can be charted/graphed and have numbers or %ages assigned. Costs can be evaluated and it is possible that a slow process with better yield would be better from a profit standpoint.

With hifi, a similar methodology can be followed. The early measures to make were easiest and yielded the most results. Frequency response. Sheer amp power into a resistor. Early engineers dealt with the metrology equipment they had how measures effected what they immediately heard...thru the drivers of the period.
Later, distortion and later still, all the 'types' of distortion......IM, TIM and the rest of the alphabet soup. Square wave response came into use. Somebody hooked an amp up to a characterized reactive load and saw difference in ability to drive such loads.

As knowlege improved and electronics improved and modeling improved, engineers learned what to look for. People, mainly the 'listeners' began putting 2+2 together and noted correlation with the measures.

Is the process done? Of course not. Will it get better? certainly Will they ever be able to TOTALLY characterize an amp for some mythical 'quality' and assign a single number or quality factor to rank from 'best' to 'worst'? Doubtful.

You could probably help. Work with a good 'scope / metrology / measurement guy and TEACH him/her what you listen for. Help devise a test. Be able to measure and distinguish one amp from another on the basis of some yet as undone measure. That Heyser character could probably help, too. Get the people who are looking.....looking in the right place.

An example of a 'hard' fix with 'big' improvements in a stereo piece would be the use of coupling caps in a tube amp. Big arguements here, and only limited agreement. Not even agreement about a bypass cap or NOT. Clarity issued a white paper about microphonic capacitors. And the 'fix'.

I'm not into simply declaring a problem or situation 'insoluable' and walking away or being satisfied with status quo or declaring some unmeasurable is responsible. Nope, Human ingenuity is pretty deep and if it hasn't yet been measured doesn't mean it can't be measured or is unmeasurable. Or that if it can be measured, would make a difference.
Even if you have to start on the issue from the OTHER direction and wire several peoples brains...one of whom should be essentially tune/tone deaf and seeing how they respond to various 'good' or 'bad' hifi conditions........

I'm not hear to convince you that progress in measures is being made. It obviously HAS been made in the past. That it could continue into the future is certain.

Do you really have a '500? I'm jealous.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17486
Registered: May-04
.

This site seems to be plagued by demons. Posts just disappear into the netherworld only to be replaced by pop ups for something I don't want.

I won't try to duplicate my now non-existent post to your message, leo. Instead I'll just say a few things I feel are important to my position. That position being; meaurements have not really served to improve consumer audio's fidelity to the source, which has been the stated goal of superior audio design since the 1920's.


Regarding a 50 year old tube amplifier now being reissued by its manufacturer; "As I said, it is difficult to believe from its measured performance that the McIntosh MC275 was designed almost half a century ago (by a team led by company cofounder Sidney Corderman, footnote 1). Good audio engineering is timeless." â€"John Atkinson

Where exactly have we come in audio measurements when a 50 year old tube amplifier design is still competitive with the best offered today?



"Later, distortion and later still, all the 'types' of distortion......IM, TIM and the rest of the alphabet soup."


I believe you've helped prove my point, leo. We now have an "alphabet soup" of audio specs and meaurements. Pointing that out does not explain how this soup has improved audio fidelity over the last, say, 50 years. I read Otalla's original white paper on TIM when it was first published. He made a convincing argument for his assertions and I used the ideas he had presented as a selling tool when I was selling just as I did square wave performance and wide bandwidth designs. I still find myself drawn to components which can exhibit good square wave performance. (As an aside, that 50 year old McIntosh tube amp is spec'd to be down 3dB at 100kHz and, if you look at the Stereophile measurements, it does a pretty nice square wave. Wide bandwidth design had been promoted by Sidney Harman and many others in the 1950's. Otalla's paper came out a good 15 years after that amp was designed.) Unfortunately, most of what Otalla had to say has been dismissed or forgotten by the bulk of the audio community involved in designing today's consumer audio products.

Imagine telling an iPod buyer they should be looking for good squarewave performance.

To the severe objectivist, MP3 and 44.1 kHz sampling are perfect because thay have been proven to be so by measurements. That's not me saying so, that's the engineers who created MP3 saying so. Even at that, all digital audio springs from Nyquist theory which was developed in the mid 1930's - before such a thing as "stereo" existed.


" Somebody hooked an amp up to a characterized reactive load and saw difference in ability to drive such loads."

Do you really suppose audio engineers had to wait until someone developed a simulated speaker load before thay could understand the implications of Ohm's Law? If so, please explain why the most common type of loudspeaker used with (current limited) tube amplifiers was a high impedance, nonreactive type? Have we truly advanced when we feel a highly reactive load which dips to 1.5 Ohms is a suitable product to design? Why would you think (the seventy year old design of ) Alnico magnets still persist as the most sought after for sound/music quality? If profit was not the driving force behind the bulk of consumer audio design today, wouldn't we still be using Alnico for any serious consumer audio design? Can you name one high end speaker manufactuer using Alnico magnets today?


" People, mainly the 'listeners' began putting 2+2 together and noted correlation with the measures."


Unfortunately, leo, your words do not match up with my personal experience with the severe objectvists. "Listeners" are ridiculed as being "audiophools" unable to distinguish reality based measurements from the placebo effect of a $1k interconnect.


http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/10-01-06/

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/47056-6-kudos-arny-krueger

http://www.stereophile.com/news/050905debate/


Here is why I quote JA on occasion, "However, as you can also hear, these assertions were not supported or fleshed out. I assumed, therefore, that Mr. Krueger was basing them on the one criticism he has repeatedly made over the years that is correct: to wit, that Stereophile's reviewers do not perform their listening evaluations under blind conditions. Instead, they know what it is they are listening to. This, of course, is as J. Gordon Holt envisaged it when he founded this magazine 43 years ago: that the optimal way to judge a component's performance is to use it for its intended purposeâ€"to listen to it.

As I explained at the debate, I didn't always hold this view. In fact, when I first joined English magazine Hi-Fi News in 1976, I was as hard-line an "objectivist" as Arny Krueger, due both to the arrogance of youth and to the fact that I had trained as a scientist, working for some years in government research labs in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I believedâ€"no, I knew that amplifiers operated short of clipping did not sound different from one another. An editorial I wrote in the April 1979 HFN illustrates the man I was back then: "The result of a subjective test can only be regarded as valid if all potentially misleading variables have been removed, but this is very often not the case," I thundered ... "
; http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/705awsi

It's a good read, I would encourage you to take the time.


"The early measures to make were easiest and yielded the most results. Frequency response. Sheer amp power into a resistor."

It takes me less than one minute listening to music sent though a two watt SET amplifier to confirm all the years I wasted with amplifiers over 40 watts was time wasted when I could have been listening to music. I always thought small amps made for better music and I always prefered the smallest amp in a line when everyone else was interested in "sheer amp power into a resistor". It is - and long has been - my subjective opinion of music reproduced by a wind up "Victrola" - or even a cylinder - which informs my opinion that we have not come very far in the search for a higher fidelity to the original source by creating more measurements while ignoring - as JG Holt suggested - that audio equipment be tested by using it for its intended purpose.

That is not to say we have not improved the very best home audio equipment over the last half century. However, the vast majority of what I would consider to be "improvements" have come from areas which often times cannot be measured. Try to tell a severe objectivist that a paper in oil cap is better for the music than is a poly cap. Or that a metalized resistor is superior in certain circuits. You will be deemed an "audiophool", leo.

Suggest that speaker cables do matter beyond mere guage. Good luck. I just recently had this discussion - once again - with an older salesperson/tech with whom I had sold. Les is not what I woud call a severe objectivist but to Les all tubes of the same type are equivalent substitutes and a Yamaha receiver is "good enough" for him. Les never once, in the time I worked with him, sold anything more than a $5 roll of 18AWG wire. He spent time telling his clients why anything more expensive was a waste of money.


What you claim for the severe objectivist camp is not, in my experience, the response you would get from any of the severe objectivists who judge equipment by numbers and who discount the act of listening to music as a relevant test. If it measures well, in their opinion, it will perfom well. Period. To believe otherwise is "audiophoolery" as Winer puts it.

IMO Heyser proved them to be inadequately educated for their jobs. I don't believe I am alone in stating the opinion that we have not actually made much progress when it comes to using measurements to build a product with higher fidelity to the source in consumer audio equipment.

You can say again that I've misunderstood you, leo. But eventually when someone continues to refute what I've posted and continues to repeat the same message back to me, I become convinced they are trying to convince me of something.


.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17487
Registered: May-04
.

Yep! I have a 5 speed, Rosso Brilliante, Sport with a functional sunroof. 101HP even. The Abarth did not suit my needs at this time.

It is fun to drive, alot like my CRX Si.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2946
Registered: Oct-07
Jan, I think I'm a goner.
Wife and I were up getting gas today. 5 or 6 car line per pump station.
Getting gas was a lady in a '500.
Of course, wife being the shy retiring type hopped out.....made a brief self-introduction and chatted up the lady with the Fiat.
It almost came to a test drive. Wife sat in it.......test fit the wheel, looked around and did her chatty thing with the owner.
WIfe gave it great reviews. The car in question had the leather interior. It was also the 101hp / auto. Wife doesn't drive 'stick'.
I'll pay you 10$/hour to teach her. That way I can get one of the supercharged versions.

Enjoy the ride. I sold my S-2000 and ended up with an Element for my outdoor hobby life. Couldn't figure out how to fit a Kayak in the S.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17522
Registered: May-04
.

I have a lot of people asking about my car. Some because they've never seen the Fiat before. With only a handful of dealers across the country, that's a bit understandable. On a short trip we took to Weatherford - about 60 miles other side of Fort Worth - I had one guy from pick'em up country who was driving a Ram dualie ask me what my car was. I thought about telling him,"It's your truck's cousin", but I thought that might be too long a conversation with no good end. Some people have seen the Charlie Sheen add and think all Fiat's come with an ankle bracelet. Most guys want to know if I bought the Abarth. Most gals want to know about something that cute. If you don't like the idea of people telling you your car is cute, don't buy a Fiat. A number of SUV drivers want to know about the mileage.



This forum is the best for Fiat info; http://www.fiat500owners.com/



There are new models coming in 2013 with a mid-line turbo charged version which should fit between the 101hp Sport like I own and the 165hp Abarth. There's also a sort of Mini-like club version that has more storage space and can fit a more life sized human in the rear seat. The standard 500 though has a remarkable amount of storage capacity. I would not, however, want to put any adult in the back seat for more than a trip around the block.

What I own has the best mileage with the manual transmission. I drive in a very suburban neighborhood with actual hills and at times stop signs/lights every block or two. I'm averaging 33-35 mpg in the city though a few of the Fiat forum members report substantially higher mileage. I don't doubt you cuold manage higher if you were in a more conventional "city" area where your average mph was above 17. Some members are reporting as much as 52mpg on the highway. The Fiat engine technology is pretty interesting and it's worth watching the youtube videos on its development. Apparently a good deal of this technology and way to build a car will trickle down into the new Dodge Dart II. I haven't seen one in person but the ads don't make me think I would want that car. And, isn't reviving the "Dart" line a bit like reviving the Falcon?

The manual transmission does make a big diference to mileage and the feel of the car. You can, of course, treat the automatic more or less like a manual but ... not really. The automatic will do what it wants to do and, if you try to put it into a gear before it's ready, it just won't go there. For me that led to some level of frustration when I was given an automatic equipped car as a loaner for two days. But due to where I actually drive there was no really purpose in the Abath and there is no real value- for me - in gassing it at a stop sign. Been there, done that when gas was thirty five cents a gallon. So nowdays I drive more for decent mileage - and safety - than anything else. That still gives the car a nice feel and the handling with a 91" wheelbase is still more than a little bit o'fun. The suspension is all electronically controlled to give a sporty but "comfortable" ride - which it is. I have no idea what the cost will be to replace suspension components after the warranty lapses.

When I was selling cars I had to teach people how to drive a stick. And there's a thread on that forum that details how I would go about getting someone into a manual transmission Integra. As you know, there's nothing to driving a manual transmission - just attention to what gear you should be in at any time. It normally took about ten minutes max for me to get someone driving smoothly when I was teaching them. But I never had to be with someone six months later when they were in traffic and driving a stick. If they are unhappy with the transmission at any time, they are going to blame the person they think "talked them into" buying it.

Give the Fiat a drive, it's a nice little car that doesn't cost very much. I've had no problems with mine other than the menu for all the electronics can be a bit fussy about performing commands. No big deal, nothing that can't be re-entered and nothing that really matters to the operation of the car.





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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2950
Registered: Oct-07
If the super/turbo engine can be had with an auto, I could maybe make a case for it. Otherwise, the 101hp with auto is the default.

You don't even want to try to explain to a Dodge truck owner that Fiat now has a hand in HIS truck......in any way shape or form.

Here in SoCal we have lots of freeway. But as a work commute car, the higher powered versions don't much matter to me, either. I owned a Honda Accord when 86hp was IT.....but it did have the 5spd and nicely chosen ratios.

We have a dealer maybe 15 miles from here....and as they say....'Freeway Close'. I think I'll go visit and see if they have anything on paper. I'd like to say a direct model-to-model comparison and see what the additional money going upline actually gets you. Though I'm sure with the right radio....the base model would be more than satisfactory for a to-work commuter.

No worry from me about carrying lots-o-people, either. The 'Lament carries 4 in good condition and plenty of space for junk.....a shovel and chains for mountain trips....you get the drill........

years ago with my Beetle, I eventually gave up the Clutch altogether, at least after getting rolling. The slack between gears produced a zero tension shift and no noises. Heel and toe was fine in that car, too.
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