TheFlash

How to audition hifi properly

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53 minutes ago, Camverton said:

Have you never listened to music and felt it in your heart or perhaps found that you were holding your breath such was the intensity of the music and it’s performance?

Many times.

1 hour ago, Camverton said:

If you seriously can’t understand what I am talking about then just stick to measured assessments. If you do experience music in a powerful way than you might, I certainly do, find that some equipment conveys that emotion better than others. That is one of the things I look for when auditioning equipment.

Given that CD players essentially blameless in terms of the limits of human hearing I just can't see how one CD player can convey emotion in a performance better than another. I really don't think that makes me less of a music lover, it just makes me skeptical about the values ascribed to certain bits of equipment. Speakers, perhaps yes but not CD players.

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11 hours ago, rabski said:

To drag the topic back to where it started.

One hour. In your own system.

Any 'new' piece of kit gets an hour here. If it sounds crap after an hour it will still sound crap after a month, but you'll have got used to it.

I agree. And I'd even take it further - depending on what's being compared.

For example, I've been to a bake off where it took me a few seconds (of the first test track being played on the second system) for me to identify the major differences between 2 systems. Including which one was better and why. Every track after that just confirmed my initial findings.

It helped that I was very familiar with the first system (but not the room) and familiar with the first test track.

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4 hours ago, bobovox said:

Many times.

Given that CD players essentially blameless in terms of the limits of human hearing I just can't see how one CD player can convey emotion in a performance better than another. I really don't think that makes me less of a music lover, it just makes me skeptical about the values ascribed to certain bits of equipment. Speakers, perhaps yes but not CD players.

I reported my audition of several CD players as I experienced it, feel free to be sceptical!

Everything being relative, it could be that the Marantz did less “getting in the way” of the signal than the other players; who knows who cares. I have Found something similar with speakers to greater degree. With a pair of much hyped fine measuring speakers a couple of hours listening was my limit. With my own speakers four or five hours can happily go by, but then again with one I am listening to hifi and the other being sucked in and entranced by the music to the extent that the hifi is the last thing in my mind.

For many genres the question of scale, as mentioned above, comes into play. Fortunately for me, perhaps, my favourite genres are for small acoustic forces. When I used to chat to John Jeffries, who made the Lumley loudspeakers, he always told me that recreating that sense of scale was very important for him. I, personally, have found that dipoles and true omnis help recreate this illusion whereas supposedly accurate monitor speakers, whilst good for monitoring a recording, often fail at recreating a convincing illusion of the original performance.

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I personnel think it's impossible to measure every aspect of music, just like it's impossible to know everything about existence. They may come a day when dos, listening will do for now. 

Time and again everyone talks about blind testing and subjective listening but hardly about hearing actually distortion in an enjoyable playback system in a blind test. 

If an objectivist can't pick out a system with distortion in a blind test then the argument that distortion can be heard is not valid. If subjective listeners need to prove blindly so do objective listeners as regards hearing distortion in a blind test time and again.

This may well go a long way to prove whether it's necessary to have precise accurate measurements when it comes to music reproduction and also at what level of distortion.

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2 hours ago, Nativebon said:

I personnel think it's impossible to measure every aspect of music, just like it's impossible to know everything about existence. They may come a day when dos, listening will do for now. 

Time and again everyone talks about blind testing and subjective listening but hardly about hearing actually distortion in an enjoyable playback system in a blind test. 

If an objectivist can't pick out a system with distortion in a blind test then the argument that distortion can be heard is not valid. If subjective listeners need to prove blindly so do objective listeners as regards hearing distortion in a blind test time and again.

This may well go a long way to prove whether it's necessary to have precise accurate measurements when it comes to music reproduction and also at what level of distortion.

Lots to say in that post, so...

Firstly measurements have come a long way I'm modern times, comparative/null techniques, for example, have become much easier and it is now quite easy to make changes and check to see what differences it makes to the output.

I consider it to be a reasonable assumption that if modern test equipment can not detect a difference, then you are unlikely to hear one.

Distortion in a system covers a multitude of sins, some very objectionable, some less so and very hard to detect. To use an example often used here, a Yamaha and Steinway piano will sound very different when playing the same note, the harmonics of each instrument will determine the timbre and what we actually hear as the characteristic sound of that instrument. This works with hifi too, but in this case the harmonics are considered distortion and though they might be measurable, they may be difficult if not impossible to hear.

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Super Wammer
Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, MGTOW said:

I consider it to be a reasonable assumption that if modern test equipment can not detect a difference, then you are unlikely to hear one.

That is a big, sorry, I mean BIG assumption and goes the heart of the discussion! :PxDxDxD

Also, 'modern test equipment' covers a whole raft of different gear and how much of a measured difference do you personally consider to be inaudible?

Edited by Fourlegs
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Posted (edited)

I've been wanting to jump in on a lot of the comments but I've been holding back.. 

Valve distortion.. A lot of valves have much lower distortion than transistors to start with. 

You can use the same corrective measures to reduce the distortion further in valve amps, they then tend then to sound just like the average transistor amp.. 

But valves generally don't need a lot.. or any.. corrective feedback so they tend to be used with just a little or none. And they tend to sound better for it

The sound of many immaculately measured amplifiers is that of signal cancellation, its not neutral.. or nothing added as I see regularly quoted just because they are low distortion.

I've found that most measures to to reduce distortion cancel the fine parts of the waveform

Remember transistors on the other hand tend (but not all) tend to sound dog rough with out enough feedback

Nelson pass showed people preferred the sound of a little 2nd harmonic. But it was not clear if they liked a little 2nd harmonic or disliked the sound with what it took to remove it.. Think about that one... 

I use set valve amps, no feedback, no push pull to cancel the 2nd harmonic. Power supplies that reduce intermodulation distortion. No crossover distortion. I use them well within their ratings so they are low in 2nd harmonic. I cannot tell by listening if I've got a fraction % or 3% of 2nd harmonic.. sounds it sounds the same, I have no reason to disbelieve the old 5%+ rule most of my loud listening is at 1/2watt or so

I believe that single ended operation is less of a sound killer than most push pull amps, both single ended solid state & valve. The drawback is you need high efficiency speakers. 

Now I know there are well engineered exceptions to what I've said, but simple seems to work best. 

Odd harmonic distortions in small quantities spoil the sound. Total distortion measurements are not worth anything in my view, indeed there was a big push to re classify them in standardised specs in the 50s.

I've heard too many amps, amps that make background clapping sound like a football rattle, and that sound dull and lifeless, amps that kill dynamics to some degree. There all out there there in large quantities. 

I'm happy to do a/b comparisons and measurements at the wam show or my home once we are back to normal. Good sound is not rocket silence. It's about the simple stuff..  Distortion is of course important, but it also needs to be understood. 

Edited by steve 57
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Agreed, it is a big assumption.

But in this case I am thinking of the kind of test that measures and displays the output of a component and allows you to make changes and see what difference that makes.

Maybe a test comparing noise/distortion spectra might be an interesting or other specialised measurements so that we can see if the changes being madeare making a measurable. Differences are the order of the day here,  I do not expect the measurements to tell me what is better or worse, but if a difference can be heard, I would expect to measure some difference.

Difficult for me as I have little expertise in these areas, I have read plenty, but everyone appears to have an agenda and genuine, unbiased views are pretty hard to find. This is why I like hifi rather than computers or electronics, it's easy, get your hands on the component in question and try it out, if you like it, buy it!

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Super Dealer
3 hours ago, steve 57 said:

I've been wanting to jump in on a lot of the comments but I've been holding back.. 

Valve distortion.. A lot of valves have much lower distortion than transistors to start with. 

You can use the same corrective measures to reduce the distortion further in valve amps, they then tend then to sound just like the average transistor amp.. 

But valves generally don't need a lot.. or any.. corrective feedback so they tend to be used with just a little or none. And they tend to sound better for it

The sound of many immaculately measured amplifiers is that of signal cancellation, its not neutral.. or nothing added as I see regularly quoted just because they are low distortion.

I've found that most measures to to reduce distortion cancel the fine parts of the waveform

Remember transistors on the other hand tend (but not all) tend to sound dog rough with out enough feedback

Nelson pass showed people preferred the sound of a little 2nd harmonic. But it was not clear if they liked a little 2nd harmonic or disliked the sound with what it took to remove it.. Think about that one... 

I use set valve amps, no feedback, no push pull to cancel the 2nd harmonic. Power supplies that reduce intermodulation distortion. No crossover distortion. I use them well within their ratings so they are low in 2nd harmonic. I cannot tell by listening if I've got a fraction % or 3% of 2nd harmonic.. sounds it sounds the same, I have no reason to disbelieve the old 5%+ rule most of my loud listening is at 1/2watt or so

I believe that single ended operation is less of a sound killer than most push pull amps, both single ended solid state & valve. The drawback is you need high efficiency speakers. 

Now I know there are well engineered exceptions to what I've said, but simple seems to work best. 

Odd harmonic distortions in small quantities spoil the sound. Total distortion measurements are not worth anything in my view, indeed there was a big push to re classify them in standardised specs in the 50s.

I've heard too many amps, amps that make background clapping sound like a football rattle, and that sound dull and lifeless, amps that kill dynamics to some degree. There all out there there in large quantities. 

I'm happy to do a/b comparisons and measurements at the wam show or my home once we are back to normal. Good sound is not rocket silence. It's about the simple stuff..  Distortion is of course important, but it also needs to be understood. 

Yes you reduce distortion in a valve amp and it sounds like a solid state amp.

Reducing distortion ‘cancels the fine parts of the waveform’!
Look  at harmonic spectra measurements of Nelson’s designs that’s how he makes the amps measure and sound different, valves just add different amounts and orders of distortion, incredibly high distortion in the case of SETs.

Use valves by all means, but don’t kid yourself they are more ‘real’, ‘lifelike’ it is just added distortion.

Keith

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1 hour ago, PuritéAudio said:

Yes you reduce distortion in a valve amp and it sounds like a solid state amp.

But if you use a ARC Ref 75SE and play music at 10w RMS then you will get about 0.2% THD, mainly 2nd and 3rd harmonic. Is that level of THD audible, probably not? Does an ARC 75SE sound the same as a Naim 250DR and a Krell 300XD......try and listen.  Bruno Putzeys said it was far more complex and he is quite good at making amplifiers, or so I am told.

Because valves have a more linear transfer function they need less NFB and some do not need any. Possible wih transistors??

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3 hours ago, PuritéAudio said:

Yes you reduce distortion in a valve amp and it sounds like a solid state amp.

Reducing distortion ‘cancels the fine parts of the waveform’!
Look  at harmonic spectra measurements of Nelson’s designs that’s how he makes the amps measure and sound different, valves just add different amounts and orders of distortion, incredibly high distortion in the case of SETs.

Use valves by all means, but don’t kid yourself they are more ‘real’, ‘lifelike’ it is just added distortion.

Keith

I'm not going to try and change your views Keith.. i know you have some very valid opinions on hifi 

I've been building solid state & valve amps for over 25 years, have attended most of the wam shows, organise the audio talk diy meets that have run for 15 years or so. I've heard alot of kit. 

I trust my ears.. most of the time ...

The fact the single ended amplifiers to many people can sound more real is a fact. You don't have to agree. 

Morgan Jones agreed with my view regarding push pull signal cancellation , I trust his views far more than your views...sorry

I know you do not get or want to hear my views. That's fair enough, but it does not make you right and me wrong.

I've heard some distortions that make some systems sound better, when I've tried them on my system they sound distorted.

There's also some great systems regardless of topologies 

A guy at scalford once described my system has been able to listen to the 'back' of the recording, a nice comment.

I've not heard any distortion that does that to music..

Me I'll take (most of the time) less than 1% 2nd harmonic and virtually no other distortions than many,  supposedly low distortion systems I've heard

I think I'm not far off with what I wrote. 

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Super Wammer
Posted (edited)

Is the purpose of hifi the pleasure of the listener? Or is it accuracy, the literal roots of High Fidelity?

_____________

Fundamentally, this is what this timeless argument comes down to.

Accuracy can be measured; enjoyment cannot. Measurement is objective; pleasure is subjective.

Those who insist on the "true meaning"/definition of hifi being restricted to a literal interpretation based on its lingustic roots need to get real. If the one and only truth lies in the roots of words, lay your etymological truth on me with "wifi".

Ah, but that's different, it's derivative. No, it's called a living language, and the meaning of a word or phrase is that which we choose to attribute to it, collectively and changing over time, in order to be able to use it to communicate.

There is no universally agreed definition of "hi fi", as there is no universally agreed definition of most words.

Which is why measurement is an opinion, not a fact. That's a fact by the way.

Edited by TheFlash
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3 hours ago, steve 57 said:

I know you do not get or want to hear my views. That's fair enough, but it does not make you right and me wrong.

Steve, you ARE right on this.

Good SET's, and I'd include your homebrew SET in the good SET category, get closer to sounding like there's nothing there between the source and the speakers - in the midrange - than any solid state amplifier I'd heard so far.

The transistorised hash that even really highly rated solid state amplifiers put in the midrange and treble is noticeable when you do an AB demo against a good SET. It's most noticeable on vocals, pianos, acoustic guitars and cymbals.

For sure, SET's aren't all things to all men. But give them an easy amplification task and it's the genre of amplifier that I'd pick to listen to if I could.

THD+N distortion measurements are largely a load of cobblers. It's measuring particular types of distortion for steady sine waves at relatively high power levels. Music isn't steady sine waves. And music in the home, especially if you have high efficiency speakers can require less power than a mosquito twitching a knee.

Published THD+N measurements all seem to cut off at 0.1 or 0.001 watts. Most of the time I listen at lower power levels than that. For late night listening to the opening bars of Bolero I will be listening at nano watt power levels, which is quite mind-boggling.

Anyone claiming that any given solid state amp is delivering less THD+N than any given SET amp at 80 nano-watts is just guessing, or using wishful thinking.

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Posted (edited)
On 21/05/2020 at 11:25, steve 57 said:

I've been wanting to jump in on a lot of the comments but I've been holding back.. 

Valve distortion.. A lot of valves have much lower distortion than transistors to start with. 

You can use the same corrective measures to reduce the distortion further in valve amps, they then tend then to sound just like the average transistor amp.. 

But valves generally don't need a lot.. or any.. corrective feedback so they tend to be used with just a little or none. And they tend to sound better for it

The sound of many immaculately measured amplifiers is that of signal cancellation, its not neutral.. or nothing added as I see regularly quoted just because they are low distortion.

I've found that most measures to to reduce distortion cancel the fine parts of the waveform

Remember transistors on the other hand tend (but not all) tend to sound dog rough with out enough feedback

Nelson pass showed people preferred the sound of a little 2nd harmonic. But it was not clear if they liked a little 2nd harmonic or disliked the sound with what it took to remove it.. Think about that one... 

I use set valve amps, no feedback, no push pull to cancel the 2nd harmonic. Power supplies that reduce intermodulation distortion. No crossover distortion. I use them well within their ratings so they are low in 2nd harmonic. I cannot tell by listening if I've got a fraction % or 3% of 2nd harmonic.. sounds it sounds the same, I have no reason to disbelieve the old 5%+ rule most of my loud listening is at 1/2watt or so

I believe that single ended operation is less of a sound killer than most push pull amps, both single ended solid state & valve. The drawback is you need high efficiency speakers. 

Now I know there are well engineered exceptions to what I've said, but simple seems to work best. 

Odd harmonic distortions in small quantities spoil the sound. Total distortion measurements are not worth anything in my view, indeed there was a big push to re classify them in standardised specs in the 50s.

I've heard too many amps, amps that make background clapping sound like a football rattle, and that sound dull and lifeless, amps that kill dynamics to some degree. There all out there there in large quantities. 

I'm happy to do a/b comparisons and measurements at the wam show or my home once we are back to normal. Good sound is not rocket silence. It's about the simple stuff..  Distortion is of course important, but it also needs to be understood. 

New interview with Nelson Pass posted yesterday, and he talks about distortion and measurements from 38.40 position.

Edited by Nativebon

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Following on from my posts about distortion. I've spent some time on the net looking at distortion, most stuff on there is not very informative, in fact it echos Keith's views. 

For me, my findings are that push pull cancels the music signal mainly due to lack of symmetry between the push and pull, and  the power supply 'contaminates' the audio signals due lack of decoupling between stages and chanels

In my view these are the main shortcomings with most (nearly all) amplifiers

For the best sound quality transistors and other components should be exactly matched to ensure equal paralleled or symetrical (for push pull) output. 

Normal sign wave testing does not highlight the failings from the above not been followed, but when a complex music signal is played, one can hear clear differences

I found this link below that explain the difficulties of measuring the ability of amplifiers to reproduce music or complicated wave forms. 

If you are interested please go on to read page two as it is very relavent to what I've found, and although it can be heavy for the not so technical, the gist of the findings will be apparent 

What it does highlight is the difficulty in measuring what we can easily hear. 

I have found that some don't trust their ears and believe that the so called low distortions must be more accurate.. What would say is please be open minded.. 

http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/distortion/page1.html

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