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Audio For Dummies ™
Topic: Verify that you sources do not underperform.

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Posted by Romy the Cat on 02-02-2007

Everyone get different sound on own listing room, with a scope of own ability make reproduced sound and own understanding the nature of reproduced sound. We use different media: mechanical recording on records, magnetic recordings, digital recordings on disks, digital recordings from files (completely different ball game), FM/AM reception and whatever else….

I have to advise that it is very educational for the sake or pure “abstract audio” to run the very same material across all media element and to observe the delta between them. It is not necessarily portrays which format “is better” or “more capable” but rather this experiment is a phenomenal test to confirm the each of the source in your playback performers in the way it should. Why it is so phenomenal test? Because if envying else is done properly then all sources should deliver in your listening room the same sound, perhaps very slightly different in quality but still THE SAME SOUND.

Well, it of course will be some minor differences - the differences that justifies a given format, however, the tonal balance, the coloration and contrast, the punctuation and the basic musical phonetics across all sources SHOULD BE IDENTICAL. If not, then some of your sources underperform. Fix them…

Romy the caT

Posted by RonyWeissman on 02-02-2007
That is very interesting post Romy.  I noticed that I have changed a lot of CD-Players and Dacs over the years until I found the sound I wanted, but only had to change my Tuner once, and my analog playback has been the same for years and years now.  I tried a lot of the latest and greatest CD-players, cables etc. until I found some very good vitage equipment that gave me the 'analog type' sound that suited me.  Now the only MAJOR differences between my playbacks is when there is live broadcast on the radio, and then as you discuss, it is something else entirely.  Hey, I think this is my first post on your site! 

Posted by Romy the Cat on 02-02-2007

Well, the added benefits of cross-source validation is that some of the sources are stable but others are less stable and might vary in its basic quality with time. For instance digital is very stable and since you once set it up properly then it remains more or less constant. In contrary the records playing, being as finicky as it is, might run away in quality (because multiple reasons). Actually any of the sources might “run away”…

In my personal word I try all my sources to deliver basically the same sound playing the same material (in fact they deliver same Sound paling even different mater but this is more complicated subject). Over the years I found/made a few test tracks that I have learned very well and sometimes, juts for sake of test, I play them across all my sources.

With my analog at this point the only my Sheltered Arm passes my test of being neutral. All the rest arms/needles some “kink”. Also I have so far no “correct” second phonostages to make it works in the way how I would like to.

My CD sources CEC-TL0 (that from my point if view has no contestants in any other area) is notoriously not neutral (thin in upper bass). However, it perfectly balanced out by the “upperbass chubby” Bidat. The CD source and “Shelterd” analog produce absolutely the same type of sound. Of cause there are some advantages in analog: more interning lower bass, better HF, better subjective dynamics, way better transients, way more sophisticated tone and many others things. However, still the Sound in its basic structure between my CD and record player is very much the same.

Defiantly having an ABSOLUTELY TRANSPARENT PREAMP with 6 inputs and ability instantly switch the inputs from… a remote control is a great help in those experiments. I am not juts trying to kiss my damn preamp in it’s ass. I insist that absolute transparency of a preamp at each and single of its input is a very fundamental “the must”.

Going to other sources I feel that It is much less difference, even at the micro-levels, between analog and my recording media. The recordings to 88/24 uncompressed files are WAY more identical to their sources then PCM playing from a CD player. It is pretty much anything that put on a disk sounds worse. It is slightly better result with reels. My reel recorder at 15ips and using BASF 486 tape does very fine with practical identical result to the sources.

The point is that when (once a half-year or so) I make all my sources to play the same things and while it’s doing so I am flipping the preamp’s inputs then I should not experience …. any “wrong” events. There are two types of events:

1) “Something was changed”
2) “A source was changed”

The first event is fine. The second event is an indication that something is wrong with the given source chain and it should be fixed…

The caT

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