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Thread: What determines where overboard begins?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    What determines where overboard begins?

    For those of us who are not solely constrained by not being billionaires, how do we individually find our place where either the law of diminishing returns or the importance of other audio factors negates going further up the technical reproduction food chain? I mean this as a question of the dominance of factors outside our control rendering further refinement of our system and listening area unimportant or even below audibility. More of a technical question than an aesthetic one. This is not a "if you are happy with the sound then it is the right system for you" discussion.

    I may usually set the line of demarcation lower than some. For me, my gear can only strive to present what is on the recording as resolved and euphonia free as possible. (If you seek a particular presentation that deliberately deviates from what is on the recording, feel free to join the discussion, but that is a separate inquiry. So please state your position up front. I am very interested in how one could reconcile purposefully deviating from the recording while still seeking to improve the accuracy of the system.) I see a fork in the road even at this beginning, because one might not see the recording process as a limiting factor, but rather another "instrument" that is played to get a particular sound or presentation. Myself, I think of my audio reproduction system's job as giving me the most accurate version of the recording. So I don't concern myself with that.

    So...Where I see the demarcation is where the limitations of recording, which do vary in each example of it, become large enough to render further attempts to refine the reproduction of it unproductive or even useless. Certain to contribute only inaudible or less accurate differences.

    But here I see another fork, sort of. You have probably experienced that some systems that are very revealing get the very last bit of information to you but end up at some point being a catalog of warts, while others seem to be quite forgiving as they offer more resolution while still seeming to mine every last nit on the recording. While the latter situation is probably the product of some frequency anomalies, it can enhance the listening experience compared to using lesser systems. I happen to have representatives of both types here and am not inclined to get rid of either. The extreme here would be a super system that only sounds good on a handful of recordings. I have always believed that tailoring your listening to recording quality rather than how good the music is, is a fundamental cart before the horse result. Listening to the equipment instead of the music. My goal is to get the best I can out of all the music I want to listen to, not to hear how great my gear sounds with perfect recordings. This in itself indicate a possible stopping place beyond which "going overboard" exists.

    So that is where I stand, still with choices that have nothing to do with having different gear for different genres of music, but rather to cater to two different Weltbilder. At this point I am very satisfied with the way things sound. Really satisfied. But with my speaker systems, my quandary is since I heard the presentation of the MBL system in Chicago at AXPONA, I might just value that as highly as other definitions of what a "better" speaker is.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


  2. #2
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    I alway though the point was to make the gear so as to not hear it, or as little as possible.



    But I think this could go both ways with a lot of people. Most just want to enjoy any music they play rather the pursue that never ending perfection that's never in reach.

    I for one tend to be a bit in the good is good camp. That being said I still enjoy tweeking things to get a few extra horse power.

    Nick

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducatista47 View Post
    I see a fork in the road even at this beginning, because one might not see the recording process as a limiting factor, but rather another "instrument" that is played to get a particular sound or presentation. Myself, I think of my audio reproduction system's job as giving me the most accurate version of the recording. So I don't concern myself with that.
    If this seems esoteric, I know that it is on the minds of some members.
    Originally Posted by cooky1257
    Don't kill me.....but virtually everything you play these days will have gone through DAW's in the recording/production stage(probably several).
    Awareness of what the 'original' should sound like is sketchy at best so I'm curious just how important is it to wring out the very last gasp of subjective transparency in the DSP when it will in effect be modifying the output as part of it's function....

    Replies timc:

    It's a fair point. The way i see it we have two options.

    1: Just assume that what is on the record is the "answer". That means that our system must bring that into the room as uncolored as possible. Then absolute transparency is the goal.

    2: Realize that we can't know the exact conditions in which the mastering was done. We can also assume that the monitors used were not perfect. Then we can follow your reasoning and just tune it to our subjective liking.

    Imo both methods have their merits. Personally I am in camp number 1 for the time being.
    In other words, is one's goal to reproduce the recording or to fudge it in the supposed direction of reproducing the performance to a greater extent than the recording did? I say good hunting, but what a can of worms. Perhaps Pandora's Box is a more apt description. Attempting to improve the recording would truly be the bleeding edge of the audiophile universe. I'll pass.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


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    Senior Member hsosdrum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducatista47 View Post

    In other words, is one's goal to reproduce the recording or to fudge it in the supposed direction of reproducing the performance to a greater extent than the recording did? I say good hunting, but what a can of worms. Perhaps Pandora's Box is a more apt description. Attempting to improve the recording would truly be the bleeding edge of the audiophile universe. I'll pass.
    I agree. Attempting to "improve" recordings is a bottomless rat-hole. Every recording is different and would require almost endless experimentation just to determine exactly what "improvements" are required and how to achieve them.

    There's no such thing as a perfect audio reproduction system because:

    1) Audio reproduction is an illusion that human musicians are performing the music in the here-and-now.

    2) Each and every recording presents a different version of this illusion.

    3) Each of us hears with their brain, and each person's brain is satisfied by a different illusion.

    4) No single reproduction chain (recording>audio system) can deliver a perfectly satisfying illusion to all people.

    The best one can ever hope for is to assemble a system that creates the most satisfying illusion to them on the greatest number of recordings. No one will never be satisfied with the illusion created with all recordings. The sooner we accept this the sooner we can spend the rest of our lives enjoying music instead of engaging on an endless quest for non-existent perfection.

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    What

    It's the what do you like, the sound of "Hi-Fi" as defined by magazine copy and EQing to satisfy current trends, via components, or the accuracy of a well designed no nonsense sound system?

    Les than perfect recordings? Hell, less than perfect ANYTHING?

    That's what tone controls were made for.

    It's not all that complicated really (or some spiritual dilemma) to contemplate along with that lint in your navel.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Of course, but notice how rare tone controls are in contemporary gear. Same with balance controls. I installed an analogue parametric equalizer in my system and in some quarters I have committed sacrilege. In my view, it sounded good before and now it sounds better.

    I also note that everyone here chiming in about this "issue" of tampering with the recorded result has rejected it. I would like to hear from any who embrace it. For the record, my sound modifications are to tame frequency response in my transducers, not to massage the recording. I do like to preserve the integrity of it.

    So where is your line beyond which things go overboard?
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


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    Senior Member macaroonie's Avatar
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    The Cello Audio Palette ( Levinson ) is a hugely interesting component to play with. Utterly transparent and with the most gentle of adjustments. It does not sacrifice any of the subtleties for the EQ changie it makes , a remarkable piece of kit.
    Mucho dinero of course but you know , in the context of a big bux system , tweakability is kinda nice if the original recording is out of whack.
    Can DSP do this right ,

  8. #8
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    The one commercial attempt to automatically fix a CD that I am aware of was aimed at bad mastering, not recording. REGA had a CD player that would sense if it had a crappy early CD and massage it accordingly. You know, the CDs that sent RIAA tapes straight to the disc. It worked quite well. I wish I had it every time I want to hear the original Love Devotion Surrender CD. It is both thin and incredibly hot in the treble.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducatista47 View Post
    REGA had a CD player that would sense if it had a crappy early CD and massage it accordingly. You know, the CDs that sent RIAA tapes straight to the disc. It worked quite well. I wish I had it every time I want to hear the original Love Devotion Surrender CD. It is both thin and incredibly hot in the treble.
    Which model REGA was that?

    I bought new an original Planet, waaaaaaaaay back, their first. Sold it after about 10 years of enjoying it much. I just don't keep digital players for too long as service can became an issue after a decade or so. Been getting into (and having a lot of fun) with first generation machines with Philips based transports (CDM1) as of late.
    http://www.thevintageknob.org/philips-CDM.html

  10. #10
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wagner View Post
    Which model REGA was that?
    A friend owned it, I'll have to ask him. I can never remember if it was a Jupiter or an Apollo. I am old, but I think it was ONE of those.

    I have one of those Philips transports in my old JoLida player, but I retired it when the remote function died. Only expensive CDP I ever bought, never again. I recently purchased a very nice Onkyo for $150 and I think it is better. The higher end charges so much for casework. I do coax out and don't care what the thing looks like.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


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    Senior Member Hoerninger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducatista47 View Post
    I do coax out and don't care what the thing looks like.
    Me too.
    I recently got a BluRay-player which gives surprisingly PCM 88,2 kHz out for SACDs on coax (stereo).
    (It is superior compared to my old analog out.)
    "Fire and forget"
    __________
    Peter

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    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducatista47 View Post
    I have one of those Philips transports in my old JoLida player, but I retired it when the remote function died. Only expensive CDP I ever bought, never again. I recently purchased a very nice Onkyo for $150 and I think it is better. The higher end charges so much for casework. I do coax out and don't care what the thing looks like.
    Have always been one of those who thot all CD decks sounded the same (except the PS1) , but when I recently acquired the ARCAM with dual transformers and the renowned RING DAC , it rejuvenated my CD collection. The image is so airy and 3d that its a revelation.

    http://www.stereophile.com/cdplayers/251/

    Have even slowed down on LP playback as the Cd's are so enjoyable now.

    I do a lot of compilation mini disks from different CD's. My workhorse has been a deck that has CD & MD in one and is designed for copying. Since the ARCAM output is so good, I'm now dubbing from it to the Pro ATRAC type R MD deck. Truly superb results.
    Now that the slightly older high end gear has depreciated, ( I couldn't have afforded a $2,500 CD deck ten years ago), Why buy new ? To me ...a 10 y.o. BMW is still far superior to a new Kia.

    (I recently had a 1965 C-38 Baron pair (D130/075) and found them much more enjoyable than anything Bustbuy sells today.)

    As long as I can buy at these prices, overboard will NEVER happen
    Yes, I've got my reasons and to me they're all true,
    And I wouldn't change them, not even for you.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Ian Mackenzie's Avatar
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    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zrpUDuUtxPM

    Not wanting spoil the fun but view this presentation by Floyd Toole.

    The industry thrives on what Toole calls the circle of confusion.

    Some years ago to visited Clark and we agreed on what mattered most.

    As l recall it was good recordings and it was all about the midrange.

    We swapped back and forth between Clark's Stax headphones and his loud speakers and had a lot of fun.

    Prior to meeting Clark l was lucky enough to hear an orchestra practising in Chicago and l was dumb struck by the purity, scale and tonality of what l heard.

    More recently l was out pushing the four year old in the pram (he likes to travel in style) and we went past an RSL hall and we could hear music. Inside was an orchestra practising.

    What got me was the purity and scale of the sound.

    My view is that if the midrange is reproduced well enough you don't focus too much on the bass or the highs.

    The irony is seldom can a system do that anywhere near the reality of the original event.

    Interestingly the reproduced sound l have liked most is from relatively efficient loudspeakers like the Super 12's, Steve Schell's conical horn system, the Altec Iconic and the Everest 66000.

    The common factor is the midrange capability.

    Based on these observations my current project is a two way system using a JBL 2216 woofer and a large sand cast conical horn made by Bill Woods as used by OMA audio and a TAD 4003 compression driver.

    A mix of SOA drivers and engineering pioneered from the days of early motion picture sound and the basic design attempts to do most important things well as discussed in Floyd and Geddes presentations.

    Because the horn is conical it tracks directivity in a 60 degree and from 700 - 15000 hertz with only a modest rise in the on axis response from 2-5khertz which is not objectionable.

    The throat is completely open to the driver without modification and this enables a completely natural midrange quality.

    The pic below is for presentation only and is not the driver in use.


    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fE2nWVwFT9k

    Earl Geddes did a great presentation at the RMAF 2015 on his research into human hearing and points to scientific fact that how sound is reproduced in the 700-7000 hertz range is the key to what we like or dislike about sound reproduction.

    If you take out or ignore the lavish market of so called hi end audio the science behind the facts pretty much tell you what the limitations are.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Quote Originally Posted by SEAWOLF97 View Post
    Have always been one of those who thot all CD decks sounded the same (except the PS1) , today.)
    So you've tried the PlayStation SCPH-1001 as a stand alone player?
    I did and loved it; problem is, the lasers all seem to fade out on me after a short time (I've collected several)
    After all, they did get probably a million hours put on them playing games!
    Haven't gotten off my ass and tried re-capping any of them though.
    Have had a hard time finding good quality KSM-440ACM replacements to try/have on hand (you would THINK there'd be millions of 'em floating around, of the OEM variety that someone would love to get off their shelves/inventory sheets at this late stage of the game!); a lot of the chinese copies are DOA; I tried a couple and returned them (read that I wasn't the only one, there are tutorials on-line on how to make one good sled out of the old SONY and a chinese clone)
    I did a few of the mods that were popular on the many German sites as well, like lifting the muting transistors.
    Also picked up a couple of PlayStation 2 remotes at GameStop (which work with the "1") and make things a lot easier.
    All in all, one of the best sounding players I have owned, including the "high end" REGAs and others costing a lot more, IF I can keep them going.
    Eventually I'll have to revisit one, maybe even try one of the several output mods as well.
    Big bang for the buck (don't think I paid more than $20 for any of mine) and they usually come with plenty of games you can (still) ell easily on "craigslist" along with the controllers
    There's even one guy (another German) re-configuring them and putting them in nice cases and selling them for big bucks

    Another thing I like about them is the laser voltages and bias are easily adjustable. I should go through one completely (re-cap) and see what I've got then. They were just so good stock I never took it very far.

    Stereophool just scratched the surface with the possibilities:
    http://www.stereophile.com/cdplayers...4lJEo7RSMks.97
    They are also INCORRECT about their comments on SONY's dedicated AV cable output for the Audio versus just the PHONO jacks. The AV output has an additional op-amp in-line that you DON'T need (less parts for the signal to have to pass through)
    I have all the links and schematics here someplace if anyone is interested; I'll try to dig them up.
    Some of the sites are NLA though.
    Here's the most useful one I can find for now that's still up and working (the "1002" version is simply the European designation, same machine as the U.S.A. "1001" version):
    http://dogbreath.de/PS1/index.html

    This is a good one too but I can't find/figure out how to get the English translation thing going:
    http://methe-family.de/cd.htm

  15. #15
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    What determines where overboard begins?

    I'd submit the answer is quite personal. The line will vary widely from person to person.

    That said, if you are focused more on minor changes in the sound of your system than the music, or you can't enjoy your music collection because your system isn't performing as desired, then you've likely gone off the deep end.

    If the question is: "Where does the point of diminishing returns begin?" If you're careful and buy the right used gear you can get an excellent sounding system for a couple hundred bucks.



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