TheFlash

How to audition hifi properly

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Super Wammer
16 hours ago, tuga said:

Listening to music and evaluating performance are different tasks with distinct objectives.

I use the latter to improve the performance of my system so that I can better enjoy the former.

.

An audio system's goal is to reproduce recorded music. Audiophiles use their ears and measuring equipment to evaluate how the equipment performs its task.

On that point, I completely agree with you, @tuga - they are indeed two very different things. My concern, I suppose, was where the evaluation becomes the end-goal, rather than the listening for enjoyment. In other words, losing sight of the reason for doing the evaluation in the first place. Thinking back to when I studied music at A-level during my college years - one of the exercises we had to carry out was to listen to a passage of music being played perhaps 5 or 6 times, then we had to write out the score with all the various instrumental parts, based on the listening. It was a difficult thing to do, and all effort was focused purely on intense listening into the recording, trying to follow the various instrument parts. From memory, I'd say that not once did I think "oh, this is a great piece of music" because I was too intent on just picking out the viola melody from the violin and transcribing it accurately. That's kind of where I was going when I was talking about the critical ("expert") listening earlier - while it's useful to do this while auditioning hi-fi equipment, if you forget to also kick back and enjoy the performance as a whole, I think the point has been missed.

Then again, I have come to realise that there are probably people for whom ownership of the equipment itself provides the enjoyment, rather than the use of it, rather like car collectors who buy all manner of exotic multi-million pound cars, then stick them in a environmentally-controlled garage and never drive them. Mind you they probably also treat them as an investment, which is something that sadly does not apply to our hobby...:(

I confess I may have mis-judged your position in this discussion. It sounds as though you have a pragmatic approach to auditioning, albeit with probably more emphasis on the technical, as no doubt you understand it far more than I do. My apologies.

Oh, and your English is exemplary! :^

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44 minutes ago, Jules_S said:

On that point, I completely agree with you, @tuga - they are indeed two very different things. My concern, I suppose, was where the evaluation becomes the end-goal, rather than the listening for enjoyment. In other words, losing sight of the reason for doing the evaluation in the first place. Thinking back to when I studied music at A-level during my college years - one of the exercises we had to carry out was to listen to a passage of music being played perhaps 5 or 6 times, then we had to write out the score with all the various instrumental parts, based on the listening. It was a difficult thing to do, and all effort was focused purely on intense listening into the recording, trying to follow the various instrument parts. From memory, I'd say that not once did I think "oh, this is a great piece of music" because I was too intent on just picking out the viola melody from the violin and transcribing it accurately. That's kind of where I was going when I was talking about the critical ("expert") listening earlier - while it's useful to do this while auditioning hi-fi equipment, if you forget to also kick back and enjoy the performance as a whole, I think the point has been missed.

Then again, I have come to realise that there are probably people for whom ownership of the equipment itself provides the enjoyment, rather than the use of it, rather like car collectors who buy all manner of exotic multi-million pound cars, then stick them in a environmentally-controlled garage and never drive them. Mind you they probably also treat them as an investment, which is something that sadly does not apply to our hobby...:(

I confess I may have mis-judged your position in this discussion. It sounds as though you have a pragmatic approach to auditioning, albeit with probably more emphasis on the technical, as no doubt you understand it far more than I do. My apologies.

Oh, and your English is exemplary! :^

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There is nothing to apologise for.

I confess that there was a time early on, I must have been in my late teens early twenties, when I obssessed too much with the fiddling and spent more time analysing and comparing than listening and enjoying music, to the point of listening to the same handful of audiophile-approved tracks over and over again.

After I graduated I started working and travelling a lot and I stopped paying attention to the system, only listened to music on minidisc with headphones.

Nowadays I loathe the analysing and comparing, find it extremely boring, and can very easily turn the sound assessment mode on or off at will. And I've been slowly learning about measurements and the technical aspects, which has made me less dependent on listening.

As you say, there are many reasons why people practice audiophilia but I think that most people do it because they enjoy music that is reproduced with quality. For me the system is a tool, like a screwdriver or a hairbrush, whose purpose is to reproduce the recording. I don't get emotionally attached to the gear or the designer behind it.

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For many years I used to be into hifi and into music.

I have a 'linear' mind, I don't multitask in anything really, so very easy to treat them as two separate hobbies. For much of the time I would have two systems, a constantly changing and evolving hifi and something for everyday music playing. 

I'm sure many enthusiasts do something similar.

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I'm into hifi and Music (classically trained but now just drumming) so I know what "proper" music sounds like but I find it hard to listen to the music without also listening to the hifi.

There are several "systems" in my house, primary and 2nd hifi, a Denon do it all in the kitchen with Tannoy speakers, radio/alarm clock in the bedroom etc. They all sound different, are of varying quality but they are intended to do different jobs.

Back to the topic - I think auditioning can be different things to different people and at different times. I remember in 1990 going to KJ West One to audition my first proper hifi, I had some idea of what I wanted having read various reviews but was buying CD amp and speakers. I recall that changes to the CD player (£1k) and amp (£500) made little difference but oh boy the first set of speakers (Rogers something, LS/5a??) sounded horrid and boxy, then they wheeled out the EPOS ES14s and that was it - sorted. Meridian 206B and MF A100 amps to go with them.

Further on I've then looked to upgrade single items with the aim to change the sound in certain ways or to achieve a more specific objective. I think one has to bear in mind the objective of an audition or listening session. Listening at someone's house or hifi show can be very illuminating - I've heard expensive speakers that sounded horrid and small speakers that sound sublime - I got a feel for what I liked and what I disliked, the sound I might be aiming for if budget allowed.

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18 hours ago, MGTOW said:

At the end of the show I looked them up, found footage of their performance at Glastonbury and Airplayed the audio to the system, they were interesting so found an album on tidal which I am now playing, and very good it is too.

"Double Negative"? Wonderful album. Dread to think how many records were sent back because of that intro.

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I had been messing with the system earlier and had it on rather loud, made Mrs M jump, and she was three rooms away.

Definitely worth another look, If you haven't seen it the 2019 performance on iPlayer is pretty good, bit less intimidating than the start of Double Negative.  :)

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Super Wammer

Reading about how some of you listen to the hifi or the music or amount of equipment (multiple items) or having several copies of the same album I can say that I am not an audiophile. I buy hifi if circumstances change and then forget about it.

I dont do well trying to listen to hifi elements and really just think about do I enjoy the music, are people playing well, do I like the tone. A few times though I have commented to my wife that the new Luxman t/t ‘was sounding great’ but with little inclination to think about why or what it was doing in hifi terms many of which I just don’t get.

But I do take pride of owning nice products. Like most people I work hard and want to see some reward. For my destination turntable it really had to deliver on looks and function as well as sound. It was a like a confirmation or symbol that my hard work had paid off. 

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Super Wammer
On 28/05/2020 at 19:18, tuga said:

Listening to music and evaluating performance are different tasks with distinct objectives.

I use the latter to improve the performance of my system so that I can better enjoy the former.

.

An audio system's goal is to reproduce recorded music. Audiophiles use their ears and measuring equipment to evaluate how the equipment performs its task.

Did you say English was your second language? Beautifully and succinctly put.

Tell me your first language and I'll try to return the compliment.

Brace yourself.

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Super Wammer
21 hours ago, MGTOW said:

Sadly the degree of sophistication was quite appalling, mostly they just needed to read the latest edition of 'What Boom Box'

I liked your whole post but just wanted to quote this bit so it gets the attention it deserves. A cracker!

:notworthy:

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Reading a few of the recent posts on this it appears that many were into the hifi and music equally or maybe skewed a bit to kit.  I can honestly say I was into the music totally in my teens to being in my late twenties.  It never occurred to me to listen to the equipment, all I could hear was the music.  

My family had a Sharp music centre and I thought it was the business.  It played the Friday rock show with Tommy Vance and all my records (it wasn't called vinyl then). The music centre played all my taped tapes of "TV on the radios" concert broadcasts.  Many years later I recall after moving into my own house having my Fidelity music centre with me.  That too was bliss it was something to play my beloved music on, still didn't give actual Hifi a thought not even for one moment.

But then one day my Fidelity music centre packed in.  A black day because then the hifi barged down the front door and everything changed.  The reason for this was I had a bit of spare cash that I didn't have through my student and flat days.  I reasoned good equipment would make my music sound better.  I have to say the sound improved but the magic went.  Don't get me wrong I sort of like the kit but its hard to listen through it or beyond it.  I remember being able to play whole albums, doubles and even triple albums and revel in the music without once thinking about soundstage, sibilance, etc etc.

Hell I even used to revise for my degree listening to a TDK tape of Tales from Topographic Oceans on a radio cassette player and loved it, a Sharp with a graphic equaliser, oh yes.

I think the post heading says it all really, how to listen to hifi properly.  Everyone has a film or a book or an album they wish they could unsee/unread/unhear so that experienced can be felt anew.  I'd like to unhear the equipment.  But once the bug bites it bites hard and the itch lasts a long time.

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57 minutes ago, toms wait said:

Reading a few of the recent posts on this it appears that many were into the hifi and music equally or maybe skewed a bit to kit.  I can honestly say I was into the music totally in my teens to being in my late twenties.  It never occurred to me to listen to the equipment, all I could hear was the music.  

My family had a Sharp music centre and I thought it was the business.  It played the Friday rock show with Tommy Vance and all my records (it wasn't called vinyl then). The music centre played all my taped tapes of "TV on the radios" concert broadcasts.  Many years later I recall after moving into my own house having my Fidelity music centre with me.  That too was bliss it was something to play my beloved music on, still didn't give actual Hifi a thought not even for one moment.

But then one day my Fidelity music centre packed in.  A black day because then the hifi barged down the front door and everything changed.  The reason for this was I had a bit of spare cash that I didn't have through my student and flat days.  I reasoned good equipment would make my music sound better.  I have to say the sound improved but the magic went.  Don't get me wrong I sort of like the kit but its hard to listen through it or beyond it.  I remember being able to play whole albums, doubles and even triple albums and revel in the music without once thinking about soundstage, sibilance, etc etc.

Hell I even used to revise for my degree listening to a TDK tape of Tales from Topographic Oceans on a radio cassette player and loved it, a Sharp with a graphic equaliser, oh yes.

I think the post heading says it all really, how to listen to hifi properly.  Everyone has a film or a book or an album they wish they could unsee/unread/unhear so that experienced can be felt anew.  I'd like to unhear the equipment.  But once the bug bites it bites hard and the itch lasts a long time.

The music is the music, right now it is Art Blakey from 1961, a young Wayne Shorter on sax. Last week I was reliving my misspent youth, mostly enjoyed in my late 20s. Jesus and Mary Chain anyone.

Hifi was a hobby I used to have, lockdown has had me revisit it a little, but I still haven't bought anything.

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3 hours ago, TheFlash said:

Did you say English was your second language? Beautifully and succinctly put.

Tell me your first language and I'll try to return the compliment.

Brace yourself.

If you really wish to give it a try, it's Portuguese. Simples?

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7 hours ago, MGTOW said:

. Jesus and Mary Chain anyone.

Definitely

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Super Wammer
7 hours ago, tuga said:

If you really wish to give it a try, it's Portuguese. Simples?

Não acredito! Minha mulher e Portuguesa. Your English is excellent Tuga. @TheFlash take care with the accents on vowels!

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On 28/05/2020 at 16:01, tuga said:

Great analogy!

I see my playback system as a racing car. Just as the higher performance F1 will produce the fastest lap, so the higher performance system will produce the most accurate reproduction of the recorded signal.

I can't afford an F1 so I race in the Fiat 500 Cup :D

Try driving an F1 car on normal roads and see how you enjoy it. 

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