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Old 29th Aug 2020, 5:13 pm   #1781
mark_in_manc
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Ah, just go to a concert, or read a book and listen to something "no fi" enjoy the content!
I find if I listen to one of my half-restored MW sets using a mini-mod and the headphone out on my stereo - and later that day go into the front room and sit in front of the (rather unremarkable) stereo itself - it totally blows me away! Stereo! Soundstage! Bandwidth! Absence of whistles/buzz/crackles/pops/arabic music in the background!

I'm going into business as 'Hair Shirt Audio - bespoke auditory fasting individually-optimised to maximise your listening pleasure' (you have to tell me what you really don't like listening to, and I make you listen to that for ages. Cassette tapes might be involved).
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Old 29th Aug 2020, 6:36 pm   #1782
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Just read the stuff advertised in post #1743, and see that the £100,000 cable is second-hand, normally around £180,000 new. At least it should have the advantage of having been run in to align the crystal domains.
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Old 29th Aug 2020, 7:08 pm   #1783
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... There are two techniques which blow the whole biwiring thing out of the water.

1) Why not locate power amps right at the speaker? The best speaker cable has to be no speaker cable (except from the point of view of the cable manufacturer's accountants)

2) Do crossovers at low level and have individual amplifiers for each driver. This avoids all the imperfections of power inductors ...
As Craig says, hi-fi people are aware of this and some of them do do it. They call it bi-amping (or tri-amping, if appropriate).
This is also very common with studio monitors too. Many of them include basic crossover adjustments to compensate for room placement while some newer ones include DSP to allow for more advanced room correction and time alignment.
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Old 29th Aug 2020, 8:27 pm   #1784
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We live these days in a society where many people who can afford hi-fi are likely to be cash-rich but time-poor. Sadly it's not hard to see that they'd sooner buy their way to a better sound than spend what little and precious free time they have working their way through the above list. That doesn't mean they're right, but it might explain the phenomenon known in hi-fi circles as 'box-swapping'.
Too true. The same thing happens in the home studio market, where the solution to any given problem is commonly perceived to be equipment-based, rather than knowledge-based, an assumption which equipment manufacturers are only too pleased to reinforce. The paucity of real information in many hi fi and home recording publications only exacerbates matters.
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Old 29th Aug 2020, 9:36 pm   #1785
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Has anyone come across speaker cables with inbuilt Zobel Networks? They are out there.

Mind you, I once came across an amp that someone had paid (about £1k) to be modifed. This 'upgrade' involved removing the Zobel... The owner was wondering why his tweeters kept blowing.... It had the ugliest square response I've ever seen, with the FR looking like the foot of a mountain. Maybe the fellow who did this modification is in league with the Zobel-cable peddlers? That would make sense. He could knobble your amp, and you'd need to buy his mate's cable to cure it. Genius.
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Old 30th Aug 2020, 3:17 am   #1786
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We live these days in a society where many people who can afford hi-fi are likely to be cash-rich but time-poor. Sadly it's not hard to see that they'd sooner buy their way to a better sound than spend what little and precious free time they have working their way through the above list. That doesn't mean they're right, but it might explain the phenomenon known in hi-fi circles as 'box-swapping'.
Too true. The same thing happens in the home studio market, where the solution to any given problem is commonly perceived to be equipment-based, rather than knowledge-based, an assumption which equipment manufacturers are only too pleased to reinforce. The paucity of real information in many hi fi and home recording publications only exacerbates matters.
Yes it's endemic. Often the concept of fidelity or transparency is not understood. It's assumed that a component or system which is linear will make everything played through it "sound cold, clinical and boring", hence the desire for a system with "character" and "attitude". Almost a kind of anthropomorphism.

It can be more visual than sonic. Some hope that a different looking box or component will add something different sonically, as if there's a necessary connection.

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Old 30th Aug 2020, 7:49 am   #1787
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Yes it's endemic. Often the concept of fidelity or transparency is not understood. It's assumed that a component or system which is linear will make everything played through it "sound cold, clinical and boring", hence the desire for a system with "character" and "attitude". Almost a kind of anthropomorphism.

It can be more visual than sonic. Some hope that a different looking box or component will add something different sonically, as if there's a necessary connection.
Indeed, and out of that we can deduce that these people assume that all recordings are cold, clinical and boring. Odd that, when you think that in the recording process some people listened to it and had comprehensive equalisers right in front of them to twiddle it to their taste. Not only that, they had independent adjustment of every contribution in the mix-down - something quite impossible to achieve afterwards, in the listener's home. The sound on the recording is exactly what the artists/producers wanted it to be.

What is it they want to listen to? what's on the recordperhaps ? or something only in their imagination? Maybe they ought to buy copies of the multitrack masters and a mixing desk? But what's in the desk would offend them greatly, if by having one right in front of them forced them to see it.... all that plain wire, all those opamps... Digital..... ugh!

It's interesting that all the tweaky audiophile things have to be essentially visual. They have to see that the vaunted product is there in their system. The cables have to look special or they would never have sold with the exception that some products have their specialness visible only on the receipt or the credit card slip. This makes it more difficult to impress visitors, so the majority fit into the eye candy bracket. They really haven't taken on board the small thing that electricity and electrical parameters are invisible.

Do they wear spiked shoes when listening to headphones?

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Old 30th Aug 2020, 8:10 am   #1788
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Or even worse David - manymodern mixing desks work in the digital domain, or are mixed domain.

One of the best of the best is SSL in Oxford https://www.solidstatelogic.com/ . Look at all those knobs! Look at all those motorised faders, bog standard wiring, op-amps, computer control! This is their latest studio mixer https://www.solidstatelogic.com/products/origin

But wait - £100,000 of cable in the domestic living room erases all of that stuff and gives you a window on the original performance...

Craig

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Old 30th Aug 2020, 9:59 am   #1789
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Ah, but doesn't that mean that if the studio bought one length of £100,000 cable and used it on the output side of the desk, then EVERYONE would get the benefit, and people in their homes would no longer need high end systems?

What a benefit for mankind!

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Old 30th Aug 2020, 11:34 am   #1790
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What is it they want to listen to? what's on the recordperhaps ? or something only in their imagination? Maybe they ought to buy copies of the multitrack masters and a mixing desk? But what's in the desk would offend them greatly, if by having one right in front of them forced them to see it.... all that plain wire, all those opamps... Digital..... ugh!
This is something that both amuses and puzzles me- some of the most highly regarded recordings in all genres of music were captured via esteemed and expensive desks and recorders which I can attest were chock-full of every cardinal sin and blasphemy known to audiophoolery- NE5532/4s, 4066s, 4558s, tantalum capacitors, metal film resistors, monolithic regulators, unexotic interwiring, non-silver solder.... It's something of a miracle that anyone could bear to listen to anything with all that sonic apostacy. (Seemingly).
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Old 30th Aug 2020, 12:24 pm   #1791
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What is it they want to listen to? what's on the recordperhaps ? or something only in their imagination? Maybe they ought to buy copies of the multitrack masters and a mixing desk? But what's in the desk would offend them greatly, if by having one right in front of them forced them to see it.... all that plain wire, all those opamps... Digital..... ugh!
This is something that both amuses and puzzles me- some of the most highly regarded recordings in all genres of music were captured via esteemed and expensive desks and recorders which I can attest were chock-full of every cardinal sin and blasphemy known to audiophoolery- NE5532/4s, 4066s, 4558s, tantalum capacitors, metal film resistors, monolithic regulators, unexotic interwiring, non-silver solder.... It's something of a miracle that anyone could bear to listen to anything with all that sonic apostacy. (Seemingly).
Agree, some of the best stuff recorded in my lifetime was on pretty ordinary equipment by modern day standards, i always thought it added to the sound somehow, bit like that nice second harmonic valve amp distortion, perhaps super hifi is about faithfully reproducing the crud as well as the sound, sadly my ears have packed in so it's no longer an issue for me.
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Old 30th Aug 2020, 12:38 pm   #1792
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Default Re: The Audiophoolery Thread.

Also, none of the signal paths in the mixer or from the microphones were bi-wired. How could they ever carry the full audio bandwidth with all its nuances?

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Old 30th Aug 2020, 12:53 pm   #1793
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...some of the best stuff recorded in my lifetime was on pretty ordinary equipment by modern day standards...
Yes but the difference is they were experts who knew the limitations of their gear and were largely able to skilfully work around those limitations. The recordings sounded good not because of the gear limitations but in spite of them.

Young guns today - often good musicians themselves - in love with the music of their favourite performers from the 60's can believe that if only they could afford the original vintage gear they could achieve equally good results.

Even back then there were sometimes very successful musicians who got it into their heads that they could seamlessly make the transition to Record Producer and tell the engineers where and how to set up the microphones. David Crosby (CSNY) was Producer on an early Joni Mitchell album. I think it was his one and only venture as Producer of an album. It was panned for its poor production. He went back to doing what he did so well, writing and performing great songs.
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Old 30th Aug 2020, 12:55 pm   #1794
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What is it they want to listen to? what's on the recordperhaps ? or something only in their imagination? Maybe they ought to buy copies of the multitrack masters and a mixing desk? But what's in the desk would offend them greatly, if by having one right in front of them forced them to see it.... all that plain wire, all those opamps... Digital..... ugh!
This is something that both amuses and puzzles me- some of the most highly regarded recordings in all genres of music were captured via esteemed and expensive desks and recorders which I can attest were chock-full of every cardinal sin and blasphemy known to audiophoolery- NE5532/4s, 4066s, 4558s, tantalum capacitors, metal film resistors, monolithic regulators, unexotic interwiring, non-silver solder.... It's something of a miracle that anyone could bear to listen to anything with all that sonic apostacy. (Seemingly).
Agree, some of the best stuff recorded in my lifetime was on pretty ordinary equipment by modern day standards, i always thought it added to the sound somehow, bit like that nice second harmonic valve amp distortion, perhaps super hifi is about faithfully reproducing the crud as well as the sound, sadly my ears have packed in so it's no longer an issue for me.
Greg.
Speaking as someone with a background working in studios, I've long thought that one of the reasons classic records made on analogue gear sound good is that analogue signal chains give you a lot of room for error. Analogue gear with an SNR approaching 90dB has been around for over 40 years. It's quiet, and if you are clumsy in setting levels it will clip progressively. Whereas digital has been quiet for many years as well, you are limited to 0dBFS - and exceeding this will create sudden and unpleasant distortion. This creates an inherent advantage to analogue paths, as judicious limiter settings are less crucial, and if the odd transient drives the circuit into clipping - assuming overload recovery is good - few will even notice. In short, analogue consoles (as an example) can actually make it difficult to get something to sound bad; whereas a digital console will need careful gain structure setting for fear of 'zzzz' when it clips. Of course, in a 24 / 32 bit world digi gear gives you a wider envelope so you can afford to leave a few dB of headroom, but in the grand timeline of recorded music this gear is a relatively new product.

40 years after its release, the NE5532 is still the 'Swiss army knife' of opamps. There are quite a few modern OAs that beat it in specialist areas, but I'm not aware of one which offers such a good balance of drive capability, low noise and distortion in such a wide variety of areas. Likewise for its sibling, the NE5534 - which (as I think has already been remarked) is still the best OA for MM phono preamps in terms of noise. You can save about a dB if you roll a discrete circuit, but the 5534 is still supreme noise-wise in this application - about 45 years after its introduction.

(if anyone wants to refute that the NE5534 is still the noise champion for MM preamps, please show me the actual proven measurements).

And to think, the analogue consoles (SSL E/G series particularly) are thoroughly peppered with 5532 / 5534s. And some of them work as voltage followers, with ultimate feedback. But as we know, having gone through about a hundred of these opamps, eschewing feedback on the final amp makes all the difference!
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Old 30th Aug 2020, 1:50 pm   #1795
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Speaking as someone with a background working in studios, I've long thought that one of the reasons classic records made on analogue gear sound good is that analogue signal chains give you a lot of room for error. Analogue gear with an SNR approaching 90dB has been around for over 40 years. It's quiet, and if you are clumsy in setting levels it will clip progressively. Whereas digital has been quiet for many years as well, you are limited to 0dBFS - and exceeding this will create sudden and unpleasant distortion. This creates an inherent advantage to analogue paths, as judicious limiter settings are less crucial, and if the odd transient drives the circuit into clipping - assuming overload recovery is good - few will even notice. In short, analogue consoles (as an example) can actually make it difficult to get something to sound bad; whereas a digital console will need careful gain structure setting for fear of 'zzzz' when it clips. Of course, in a 24 / 32 bit world digi gear gives you a wider envelope so you can afford to leave a few dB of headroom, but in the grand timeline of recorded music this gear is a relatively new product.
Analog desks and recorders dont give us margin for error over digital. A solid state analog preamp clips just as hard as digital running out of bits. Analog tape did overload progressively and with a perhaps less annoying distortion but it still needed the help of double ended noise reduction to bring the noise floor down. Tape saturation happened precisely because the recorder's noise floor wasnt low enough to allow a lower recording level (more headroom).

In the early days of digital audio recording pre emphasis/de emphasis was used as in tape machines but as converters improved, it became redundant. Even inexpensive converters today dont AKAIK use pre emphasis.

The best AD/DA converters today can manage about 130 db S/N (A). Inexpensive ones can do around 115 db (A). That's well above what tape could manage.

Still the most common digital recording error today seems to be clipping, and again it comes from people using unbelieveably good gear but not understanding the basics,
such as how to set the recording level. Clipping is occurring at a time when there is now no good reason to record at such dangerously high levels.

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Old 30th Aug 2020, 2:13 pm   #1796
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Still the most common digital recording error today seems to be clipping, and again it comes from people using unbelieveably good gear but not understanding the basics,
such as how to set the recording level. Clipping is occurring at a time when there is now no good reason to record at such dangerously high levels.
Perhaps that is driven by the loudness wars? The quest to make your recording come over sounding livelier than a competing one, and thereby take the number one slot or get more airplay or sell more loo roll.

Digital techniques handling real world signals have their biggest difficuty ner the clipping threshold, and that is just where naked commercialism drives them.

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Old 30th Aug 2020, 2:38 pm   #1797
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Still the most common digital recording error today seems to be clipping, and again it comes from people using unbelieveably good gear but not understanding the basics,
such as how to set the recording level. Clipping is occurring at a time when there is now no good reason to record at such dangerously high levels.
Perhaps that is driven by the loudness wars? The quest to make your recording come over sounding livelier than a competing one, and thereby take the number one slot or get more airplay or sell more loo roll.
Partly perhaps. Good practice is to record live with a good safe headroom margin (since we dont know exactly what levels are coming when they havent happened yet). But then in editing later we can change overall level to whatever we like. Software tools allow us to identify recorded peak levels precisely and to raise the level of the entire recording to just below clipping on the highest peak. In that sense it's never been easier to get high final levels but without noise, distortion or clipping.

The loudness war was around well before digital but eventually new digital tools just allowed us to massage the recording in a way that allowed even higher subjective levels, with supposedly no distortion, but it's there alright. Mastering engineer Bob Katz has tracked the increase in loudness in each decade since the CD first appeared.

I believe we now have the technology to end the loudness wars but maybe not the will.

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Old 30th Aug 2020, 3:50 pm   #1798
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Analog desks and recorders dont give us margin for error over digital. A solid state analog preamp clips just as hard as digital running out of bits.
I think it depends on your definition of 'clipping'. If you define it as the slightest flattening of a waveform under magnification, with only a slight increase in THD, then I agree. However, if you monitor the output of many analogue circuits while increasing input on an FFT analyser in real-time, you will see that harmonic distortion (in many circuits, not all) creeps up a few dB before radical clipping akin to exceeding 0dBFS. If it's a low distortion circuit with inherent harmonics, say, below -90 with normal signal levels, these harmonics can creep up to somewhere around -50 or so, before you get a blitz of them when it truly hits the rails. Harmonics at -50 won't sound great, but it's a far cry from what happens when 0dBFS is breached. On transients, few may even notice it. Assuming no limiting, if an ADC clips, you will usually hear it, even if momentarily on a transient.

Analogue circuits tend to have a more benign initial clipping characteristic, which is the point I was trying to make. Of course, this is a generalisation and some analogue circuits can have shoddy headroom and give little room for error (one of the big improvements in modern opamps is the ability to swing near their rails - some older designs are terrible in this regard). A reason why modern music sounds clipped and rough is, as you suggest, due to severe limiting (as well as the fact that so much modern music is made in home studios, as opposed to years ago when record sales were greater, affording artists the luxury of dedicated engineers and purpose-built studios).

To my knowledge, a decent tape machine + Dolby SR can achieve an SNR of around 90dB. While well below that of even consumer ADC / DACs of today, the saturation characteristic can be more forgiving when driven hard, unlike an overloaded ADC. That being said, the reasons for differences in recording quality of modern music vs a few decades back are multitudinous and generalisation is just that.

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The loudness war was around well before digital
It can be traced back to when the delta-mu valve was used in the first limiters (late 30s I think). In the early 2000s (when the Internet was awash with discussions bemoaning overt limiting), I realised there was nothing new under the sun when I attended an AES lecture. We heard recordings that used these limiters , as well as the attempts made in latter years to restore them with expanders... Even then, record labels were keen to jump on any technology that they felt could enhance sales. Although the technology existed well before, the use of aggressive limiting didn't become a norm until much later in the century. An interesting comparison is to look at the level meters when comparing original releases with their reissues (regardless of format). I try to avoid reissues unless I know that they haven't been squashed, which isn't easy.
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Old 30th Aug 2020, 4:24 pm   #1799
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Half the sound of 50s rock 'n' roll is that of tape saturation, aided by the lackadaisical transient response of VU meters. The BBC Transcription recordings of Ted Heath also used large amounts of saturation.

I think this eternal chase after loudness is absurd - especially with material of a certain age, the net effect of compression is to make noise more obvious and to rob the sound of impact, which is all about light and shade rather than continuous battering of the eardrum.
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Old 30th Aug 2020, 7:09 pm   #1800
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Default Re: The Audiophoolery Thread.

I think part of the problem with compressed dynamic range (AKA loudness wars) is the way in which a large swathe of the human race listens to what passes for music. Through ear buds on the underground or other high ambient noise environments ( buses, trains etc), or thought in-car entertainment systems.

Have you noticed that there are only two pieces of music? The car that passes "thump, thump, thump..." and the ear bud listener "tst-ttd tst-ttd tsd-ttd..."

Craig
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