It is very uncommon, practically never happens but still very rarely it is possible to talk about sound or playback systems from a prospective of “absolute tone”. Yes, the audio people love to take about tone of their audio but in 99.999% those audios has no tone but instead the numerous and numerous multi-correlative problems that all together create some kind of flavor of reproduced sound. That has nothing to do with the “absolute tone” that I’m taking about. The tone that mean is an added value to a regular very good quality Sound. It sort of the tone of some Giuseppe Guarneri’ or Antonio Stradivari’s violins among the army of other fine instruments. It is sort of a sense of instantaneous nobility and humanity that transmitted within in sound that colors Sound into the sovereign flavors.
I would like to say that before this “absolute tone” might manifest itself all technical and semi-technical problems with playback should be resolved, but in some instanced the royally of the “absolute tone” is capable to break through of some audio troubles. The way in which it works: if an element (driver for instance) has the aptitude to the “absolute tone” then there are “special conditions” under which the amplitude of the “absolute tone” manifests itself the most. The “art” in here, is to recognize those conditions and to let the driver to operate into the most favoriteable for it’s “absolute tone” environment.
Most of the audio people that read this article would associate the “absolute tone” with the different flavors of tubes, coloration of magnetic, minute tonal influences of passive parts or wires. It is not how I see it. I do NOT believe and do NOT subscribe the idea that the “absolute tone” comes from electronics. The electronics can only destroy or minimize the “absolute tone” by (for instance) the unreasonably high or low transient, de-coloration or coloration of tones, enunciation or compressing contrasts and by thousand other moments. However the electronics can’t create the “absolute tone”. In fact the “absolute tone” would manifest itself at its full glory ONLY if the electronics do not dye the sound in any ways at all. The electronically induced “absolute tone” can fool some listeners for a short period of time but in the log run the electronic “absolute tone” is a dildo of sound reproduction. Well, if so then what I am taking about?
I feel that the “absolute tone” is the exclusive property of reactance of mechanically elements of sound reproductive chain – namely the loudspeakers. Interestingly that the “absolute tone” dose not necessary mind the loudspeakers topologies and it might manifest itself among all possible loudspeakers topologies. I do not know where the “absolute tone” is hiding but most likely that it is in the driver itself, probably in the special relationship between the mass and material of the moving elements and the forces that influence this movement. There are many different ways how unreasonable or even stupid dealing with the drivers (that might be cable to produce the “absolute tone”) would kill in them the “absolute tone” ability but sometimes when the correct drivers allowed to “breathe freely” then they could really blossom with their “absolute tone”…
Among the numerous drivers that I have seen/heard there are very few, and only conditionally, that were cable to do the “absolute tone”. The beaten by me Vitavox S2 is one of them. The T350 tweeter, only if it driven very hard and at the very high dynamic ranges is capable to throw the “absolute tone” that is unimaginably beautiful. I wish the T350 would be able to do it when it plays soft. The 10” and 15” Tannoy Red (certainly vintage, not contemporary) drivers, being placed into a sensible enclosure might conditionally throw the “absolute tone” of very high degree. The Podzus Gorlich’s midrange driver in ordinary enclosure is capable to handle the surprisingly good “absolute tone” if not used too low. The Vitavox K15/40, AK151 (if they properly used) handle the “absolute tone” in the upper-bass world. Some older Scan-Speak and Vifa inexpensive silk dome tweeters were very “absolute tone capable”, again, if they were properly used and in very limited applications. The list might go on and on…. What is intriguing, that the contemporary drivers do not “absolute tone compliant”. If you take a contemporary good loudspeaker than you might get out of it very good quality sound but it will not be even close to the “absolute tone”. Take for instance Wilson Alexandria or the latest Grand Slamm or the older Grand Utopia that is set at it’s proper HF distance (do not take the newest Grand Utopia – this speaker is unspeakable garbage). All of them will do quite high quality sound (conditionally) but none of them even remotely approach the nobility of the absolute tone.
In the end I do not think that the “absolute tone” is so elusive. It is as elusive as the concept of elusiveness itself. If one knows how to pin down the ingredients of the absolute tone or at least to facilitate the conditions where and when the components allowed to do the absolute tone at tier best then the playback dose that Wienner’s violin tone or the Prague’s woodwinds. If one does no have any sensibility about the “absolute tone” then his/her playback sounds like anyone else in Hi-Fi audio…Rgs,
Romy the Cat
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche