Rerurn to Romy the Cat's Site

Playback Listening
Topic: Ways to use audio methods.

Page 1 of 1 (11 items)

Posted by Romy the Cat on 07-11-2006

I do not know that they say about “size” and “ways to use it” but in audio “ways to use” unquestionably rules. It is funny how Audio people create cult of abstract “better” audio components of element but completely discard any sensibility to use those “better” elements. Generally the rule of sum is following: an audio person accumulate the audio components that he or she believes do “better audio”. Then the person piles them up in a room and he expects that as the result she of he would have “better sound”. Nothing could be further form truth.

It is unbelievable how many (practically all of them) installations I heard that was built by more or less “capable” elements but that sounded so horrendous that I hardly knew if I had to laugh or cry when I heard them.  In a way I understand why the system owners did it and how they end up with those results. In Audio for Morons ™ the capacity of audio elements determined by amount of drummed buzz the component have managed to create. Let even presume that the component does deserves it and is capable stay behind own reputation. So, what then?

Unfortunately nothing. An avenge audio person learn to learn about audio elements but this person learns about audio elements form the most ignorant, pompous, egotistic amateurish and absolutely hollow source – the audio reviewers. Those people run their lips in order to incentive consummates to buy components and they feel that “audio” is over since the sale is committed. The problem is that “the real audio” juts started then.

No one educate audio used what to do with audio when audio in his/her room. Reviewers are not qualified as they are clueless themselves, not to mention that no one pays for it to them. However, right in there when all “peaces” are paid, sitting in the room and connected the most important things start. Now a listener should learn to understand the audio results, react to the results and make decision about the understanding of those audio results. Let pretend that equipment could not be sold or bought. So, what is left is sense of the system owner how to organize own system enabling the system to do what the system can do well and do not let the sustain to go what it will slip. There is many-many ways to do it but practically no audio people USE their send to navigate their playbacks to a desirable direction. As the result most of their playbacks have cookie-cuter identical sound resembling to the dead sound of voice-automated answering service at Fidelity Investments.

There is very-very-very-very-very few really personalized, tailored playback installations and one of the reasons because audio people do not use “ways to use it” but instead explicitly exploit the alleged “size” proposed by the reviewing magnifier glass….

I have seen the people use senses. I have seen how even using not necessary capable elements people made the playbacks to sound very-very interesting. I applauded those people and to look how they organized their installations (if it was intentional) is like read someone’s novel. As of course there are other people – the dominating army of Audio zombies with high confidence, high pomposity and high patronizeabilety but with remarkably-identical generic “dildo-sound”. I always said that any technology in the hands of barbarian produce barbarian results. Well, why do you think that it does not work in audio? Do barbarian results identify barbarisms? I would not think so. But the barbarian results do identify the barbarian intentions. In the  “Les Misérables” was said: “It is time for us all to decide who we are…” The intentions! Sometime it is too tricky to say to own playback “stop” and do not let the playback to portray own sense of sonic barbarism... Sometimes it is very indicative…

Romy the caT

Posted by stuck.wilson on 09-05-2006
i certainly know a lot of 'audiophiles' with a vast array of gear-- some good, some bad -- but i think there are a variety of reasons people are so confused about what constitutes good sound.

one of the most heinous-  outside public opinion-  is the current state of 'studio recording'-  not scrupulous and thorough transparent use of good recording equipment, but the economics-derived aesthetic of 'louder is better' overcompression of everything so that screechy/boomy pop music is louder than commercials!  sadly.. i think few people hear human produced music in any context.. so the idea of 'harmonic integrity' is a really confusing ideal to people who haven't grown up around live music. and to a certain extent, it's difficult to find even amongst instrument builders, who cater to musicians expecting hyper-exciting tonal balances out of their instruments as thats what they hear on the radio!

sadly, folks who grew up in an era of pop-radio hits have mostly heard ONLY the super-mediated, studio manipulated recordings of their musical heroes.  good recordists haven't presented the plate, the evils of 'production' have..  this being the case-- a very skewed form of 'good' has been presented to most people, as their musical tastes don't always include less screwed-with music.

i end up listening to a lot of small ensemble jazz, as well as classical, rock, and field recordings-  but even still, i've caught myself expecting a more real than real presentation at times!   theres definitely an education gap in expectations of what music sounds like-- whether live OR reproduced these days, and i think it goes even beyond the likes of audiophile magazine, audio asylum, the local hi-fi con-artist, or even the gear manufacturers.. and as compressed audio becomes the norm, we're getting even farther from honest sound! 

how is it that people who wish to have a semblance of 'good sound' in earnest find it WITHOUT the help of well-trained folks who DO in fact, know 'how to use it'?  i feel pretty lucky that i've found a small cache of folks who work really hard at not overblown, tonally correct, and really gratifying playback-- but for the people who don't have access to smart folks with truly beautiful sounding systems can pull themselves out of barbarism? 

i say this, as i myself grapple with the expense of assembling both knowledge and gear which would represent what i feel is good within the context of my space, aptitude, and ability to listen!



Posted by Romy the Cat on 09-05-2006
 stuck.wilson wrote:
one of the most heinous-  outside public opinion-  is the current state of 'studio recording'-  not scrupulous and thorough transparent use of good recording equipment, but the economics-derived aesthetic of 'louder is better' overcompression of everything so that screechy/boomy pop music is louder than commercials!  sadly.. i think few people hear human produced music in any context.. so the idea of 'harmonic integrity' is a really confusing ideal to people who haven't grown up around live music. and to a certain extent, it's difficult to find even amongst instrument builders, who cater to musicians expecting hyper-exciting tonal balances out of their instruments as thats what they hear on the radio!

The ever-increasing level of Moronity of audio engineers is unquestionably the factor. What the do it not even barbarism but the near-criminal action and the do it completely un-punishably, embraced by their stupid industry medals and awards. Last Sunday NPR broadcasted a wonderful program dedicated to the best opera recordings of 100 years ago. It was a compilation of Enrico Caruso, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, Marcella Sembrich, Emma Eames, Pol Plancon and others. Te singers and the performances were superb but how about the quality of sound? I have all those recordings on LP/CD and I practically never listen them as they are unlistenable sonically. Still, if you have chance to hear them on 78s then you understand my attitude toward to the Morons who did the mastering. It is not that CD/LP are fundamentally faulty and not able to do what 78s do but it is the heads of the cretins who were responsible for the transfer vandalized the greatest and no re-insatiable recordings. Do you think the problem is that the audio engineers-mechanics are ignorant? Nope the problem is deeper – they do not first care. I was searching for 6 year one absolutely unique production of “Swan Lake” on DVD. I have it on very ole and much worn tape.  Musically it is stunting - was brilliantly conducted by Uriy Guratise and I feel it is the best full score of “Swan Lake” even committed to recording media. So, I did find a DVD after all for huge amount of money (70 Euro) but found it. When I received the DVD I was always crying. The Morons filtered out sound under 100Hz and heavily EQ. They make it so bright and so obnoxious that it is literally not recognizable.  Furthermore they de-synchronized video and audio making video 2 second delay from audio. It sounds not as my TV is derived by the Magico Mino loudspeakers… How the hell this ballet could be watched!!!!! What was in the minds of those idiots who signed this DVD to production? It is not that they’re disable to do it. When they want the can (listen the DG “Originals” and many others) but thye the juts do not care in most of the cases.

Teh caT

Posted by stuck.wilson on 09-05-2006
i definitely see what you're saying there.. but i do wonder if it has more to do with the economics and the powers that be than a full on case of negligence.  most sound engineers-- or at least those i've known (and not the bastard species of failed musicians known as 'sound-men' prevalent in clubs about america..) really do care about doing any recording justice- at least to their best ability or the best ability of the tools at hand.  it's just the notion of 'producing' that demolishes any semblance of credibility, as it's really 'aural marketing'.. hence the boom-tizz B&W mini-monitor aesthetic thats everywhere.  most good recording engineers i know avoid that position like the plague...  but sadly continue on the well worn track of technological determinism.

also.. is the horrible sound a product of horrible sound products and the marketing of JBL, Sony, etc., or are people actually demanding gritty, faux detailed recordings of their own free accord?  i'd bet it might just be a mixture of corporate economics making cheaper and cheaper solid state amps and less expensive media (hence quick and dirty computer mastering) , and some wierd communal  search for 'detailed sound' at the expense of listenability. but which is the chicken and which is the egg?

what a strange hiccup of logic this whole thought process presents?!  conscientious DIYers and thoughtful playback freaks work really hard on creating amenable sounds (even if they don't necessarily always succeed), and the software/machinery being made by and for the majority sounds worser and worser!  it's a conspiracy, i tell you..  at least theres a lot of used records circulating out there..

at least there's a small legion of folks trying to keep music listenable.. it keeps me hopeful, if broke!


Posted by Gregm on 09-06-2006

I think the sorry state of the music industry (s/ware, sound) is primarily due to:

a) the trend toward audioVISUAL and the ensuing market for products
b) how people listen to music

A) I believe this is self-explanatory; the bulk of the market invests in VISUAL supplanted by audio. As this is a digitally controlled medium, it results in "canned" sound most of the way -- unless of course one invests hideous amounts of money which is not a mass market habit anyway.
Here the sound is secondary and supportive to the visual element. Excepting videos of musical performances, the sound "quality" and dynamics are largely dependent on sound-effects rather than unamplified (or electrical) instruments and volume (i.e. sound pressure) is more important than the actual changes in volume (i.e. dynamics -- or whether the sounds are natural: most aren't, as in the sound of two people kissing, or fighting.
So intelligibility of dialogue is important, but otherwise sound quality is not (hence the "dialogue" speaker).

B) Most people use reproduced music as an alternative to background noise or in a car. The other use is entertainment. In both cases, this is passive listening. Research has it, few people nowadays listen to music as an occupation. We (audio + music philes) can get together "to listen to music"; this is not a mass practise any more.

1) Dynamics must be banished, or you have to fiddle with a volume cotrol all the time. The sound must be flat. Think about it: Without compression even Madonna is difficult to listen to in a car without having to turn the volume up or down many times during just one track. The situation is worse with classical of course... Not good for "background music".
2) Music is also used to create entertainment ambience /atmosphere. Here the volumes are high (110 dB) and are conducive to "mass" entertainment psychology: everyone is reacting together as a group to one individual -- the DJ. Dynamics MUST be limited here too -- or the equipment will self-destruct really quickly...
3) Intelligibility, detail, etc are unimportant because in both cases above (v. low volume or v. high volume) they are NOT audible. Timbre, harmonics, etc are a non-issue as the music played does not contain any such elements in a crucial role.
4) People are jsut as happy using low resolution media as others -- and this hurts industry sales leading to heavy cost-cutting. This in turn means that the cheaper the recording & mastering process the better. "Worse" Smile, for a few decades now, artists themselves take an important part of the profits... (ah, the good old times when you paid the artist only if there was left over money) many engineers are required to produce a low-production cost product to keep bread on their table...

A final point which is the worst of all: ROmy states above that many (most) hi-end systems sound mediocre. It's usually due to set-up in my experience and to injudicious choice of components. 
I would add that systems sound horrible given the investment -- but they look very good. {Most systems I've heard fall into one of two categories: good for girl with banjo or good for girl with cello -- ONE cello. Add a subwoof and you get two notes fm the double-bass}

But given the mediocrity of sound, how can ANYONE expect a non audiophile to catch on, to be impressed, to consider the audio & music hobby if, for the sum of a few $10k's the result is not obviously different from their $250 Sony minisystem (including sales tax). If it were obviously different and better I am sure they (anyone) would hear the difference.

Posted by clarkjohnsen on 09-06-2006
That is correct, but another factor enters equally: Few people know how much great sound is imbedded in those 78 grooves, therefore they never aim to capture it. Instead they concentrate on the noise.

Were they able to play 78s rightly, they would discover a sound that tends to lessen or even extinguish the noise.

clark (who claims to play a 78 better than anyone)

Posted by Romy the Cat on 09-06-2006

 Gregm wrote:
{Most systems I've heard fall into one of two categories: good for girl with banjo or good for girl with cello -- ONE cello. Add a subwoof and you get two notes fm the double-bass}
This was very-very correct and very in-depth observation! If we extend it a little further then we can easy come up with absolutely perfect definition of success for the audiophile-minded audio:

"Good for girl with banjo, or good for girl with cello - one cello, or good for girl with a cello - bad cello, or good for girl with a good cello - the girl can’t play. Use anything out of scope of the above formulation and the Hi-Fi chokes, or the listener's awareness chokes!!!"

Regarding the rest. I think the biggest problem, since audio became an ordinary commerce commodity, is the state of marketing representation of audio success. As I always said that problem are not the people designing poor audio but the industry idiots (primary the marketing junk) who keep promoting all that garbage as the 8th wonder of the world.  Since the marketing dirt apply their target efforts to the lover denominator of prospective consumer then have no other option besides selling the cheaply-substitutable, quantifiable virtual, artificial quality. Do you want an explanation how they do it? He is a material that I have written in the end of the 90s. Ironically, no mater now absurd my writing is but it is not a subject of my fantasy but literal description of the event that I experienced in the listening room of one of the dealers:

"However, if I were a dealer I would perhaps have difficulty selling audio equipment. It would be much easier for me to demonstrate to my client other equipment: "My dear friend! For another $15K you will have the ability to hear how the stomach of your favorite artist consumes a ham sandwich which the artist ate a day before the recording...Oh! I'm sorry, you are not a proctologist... in such case, did you know that when a drummer hits the cymbals, the impact of the drum stick with metal surface actually consists of 50 micro-hits and you could entertain yourself by counting them. Let do it together... 1,2,3,4,5... Or you know what? For additional $5K I could offer you a portable device that could count it for you. Even more ...if you get both of them today then I will provide you with two years of free battery replacement and promise to inform you when a new state-of-the-art device detecting the positioning of the drum stick relative to the North Pole will be available...." Absurd? Not at all. It is a necessary routine that dealers must follow in order to be in the business. They need to provide evidence that a model they are pushing now is far superior to the model they sold last year. It is easy to demonstrate quantitative differences to a client than to force the client to read books, go to concerts, and visit museums for a long time before entering a Hi-End store.”

Romy the caT

Posted by morricab on 09-11-2006
Hi Romy, 

Just a couple comments on recorded quality and dvds.  If you have a chance try to find the DVD called Eroica put out by the BBC a couple of years ago.  It is a quasi-reinactment of Beethoven's unveiling of his new masterpiece 3rd symphony.  There is also the option of only playing the performance with silent visuals from the movie.  The performance is outstanding and done on period instruments.  The sound quality is also top notch and one of the best Beethoven 3rd symphonies I have heard (I also have a good version from Böhm and from Harnoncourt). 

I also found a very nice DVD of the Alban Berg Quartet playing Schubert's Death and the Maiden (one of my absolute favorite string quartets) on EMI.  This is one of the world's premier quartets and they play superbly.  The recording is a bit upfront but very clean and clear.

It is simply the case that evaluation of real hifi can only be done with complex and dynamic music.  To use anything less is to lower the standards where nearly all hifi can pass the exam!!  Unfortunately, much recorded music is designed to have the standard lowered so that modest systems are not overloaded.

Posted by clarkjohnsen on 09-11-2006
A few words on Eroica: I couldn't watch the damn thing. It was as fake as a movie ever gets. For one thing, while the musicians were supposed to be there playing in front of Beethoven, it was so obviously a slick studio recording on the soundtrack, I couldn't handle the dislocation.

Also it was your typical British period costume fluff.

Sorry, guy, to be so dyspeptic.


Posted by morricab on 09-12-2006
Clark, clark, clark.  Can't you pull away from that microbe on the bark of that tree you are starring at and see the forest a bit?  The performance is good, the sound is good, who gives a S*%T if the movie is a bit cheesy.  I wouldn't advise to watch the movie at all just the performance, which can be selected from the menu.  It isn't badly synchronized for one thing and they are using period instruments.  Let's just say that the professional classical musicians I know who have seen it loved it.  My girlfriend was even buying them as gifts for her friends (she is a professional violinist) who are all classical musicians of a high level.  They don't CARE if the acting sucks or the costumes look silly.  They like the performance first and sound quality second. 

Posted by Romy the Cat on 09-12-2006

Sure the video imaging might be beneficial or devastating. Sometimes a great camera work can and good acting can embrace performances the push them way out there and sometime video can wreck even the best play. Sometimes, when I come across video that impresses me, I shut down the screen and try listening just soundtrack. Interesting that since I have seen the video then the visual chain frequently reconstructs itself in my mind, despite of my intention do not do it.

It is well know, that classical music severely suffers from disability of the most cinematographers to bund their efforts with musical impressionisms. How many times we have seen that image zoom-in on something that is completely inappropriate in the context of the given musical impressionism, given tempo or give accents. How many times we have seen that the camera people have juts no sense of tact (I use word tack in Europeinean meaning), no sense of taste or no sense of the event that they are filming…  How many time we have seen the cheesy and tacky attempts to make kitsch video even from good music.  I really wonder how the new MET broadcasts will be done. If they do it tastefully I would be wonderful and I will be first who go the theater….

Ironically the most powerful cinematographic moments of classical music come from “no presents of camera” type of work, sort of documentary. One of the most powerful and the most interesting moments that I even experienced and the same time the moment when the presents of video was no juts justified but very much worked affinity with sound was in the DVD “The Art of Piano - Great Pianists of 20th Century”. In the mid of the film there was an episode where I believe it was Alfred Cortot teachers his student about the syntax and phonetic of Schubert’s notes. Listening his voice, the why how he plays, seeing his expression on his face and looking at what he is trying to say to his student.. is absolutely amazing experience…

The caT

Page 1 of 1 (11 items)