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12-23-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,138
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 1
Post ID: 3353
Reply to: 3353
It takes balls to shop (never mind the nuts)

These thoughts come in the wake of Romy’s recent encounter with a certifiable fringe dweller who, IMO, is not just illustrative in the generic hi-fi nutbag sense, but also in the there’s-more-to-this-nutbag-than-his-worst-would-suggest sense.  By this I mean that if one looks at the products this guy offers in the context that he himself has established, then likely there is nothing there but expensive OCD nonsense.  But if you bring your own knowledge and objectives along while exploring/shopping, then some of the stuff this guy offers might turn out to be useful.  Like it or lump it, it is often the nutbags who “push the envelope”.  Sure, it can be tough dealing with zealots; but who else can we trust?

I hope it is understood here that although I am making a case of “Romy’s” guy (who shall remain nameless herein), I am really talking in general terms about a specific type of audio component developer/supplier.  You know, the sort where you browse the website (or store) with trepidation or even foreboding because of the stench that you notice right away and then it eventually pervades the place?  I mean, how can you take seriously the claims of a guy who (it turns out) listens to (and so, presumably, evaluates) all his “SOTA” components with nothing but electronic music delivered via Celestion 600s in a 10 X 10 listening room?  For instance, can “The Best IC in the World” be determined from this set-up?  I am also trying to get a handle on the sort of acumen required to make one’s way through the insane asylum/minefield/marketplace in an attempt to make any headway in this hobby.

The fact is that to wind up with anything useful from exploring/shopping you must either be supremely lucky or you must bring with you at least some sense of what you want and how to get it, ie you must have some “background” against which you can compare and contrast the statements and claims made by others, in order to evaluate their statements, claims and components in your own context.  There is an approach, I think, that makes it possible to find and adapt useful components from almost anywhere, from Radio Shack™ to Sound by Singer™.

With respect to the “marketplace”, who knows why so many audio tweaks are nut jobs?  Clearly there is a form of audio psychosis that is contagious.  As in the case of religion or “science”, ideas about audio seem to get into the brain like worms that just eat away all reason and obscure the power to truly discriminate.  But is it reasonable in the first place to judge components from the claims their purveyors make?  Maybe partly, but experience and reason also suggest that the only meaningful proof of a component is within one’s own context.

I have wrestled for some time with the ideas of “better” versus “different” versus “accurate” versus “musical” and I have come to the conclusion that many of the conclusions I arrive at are subject to change.  Also, I have pretty much abandoned label-specific loyalty, if only because others’ conclusions also appear to be subject to change, sometimes without checking with me first.

I am trying to think of any component I use that remains stock.  My Ortofon MC3000II cartridge and matching T3000 transformer and my ML2s are about it.  I think I have futzed with everything else in one way or another.  This does not take into consideration the fact that most component manufacturers supposedly design a “line” of components that are meant to be “synergistic”, ie, the lot of them working together is supposed to do “better” than the sum of the parts.  Wouldn’t it be nice if this were true?  I think it would be nice if anyone could just design something good and then leave it alone for a while without effing it up in the name of a “II” or “S” designation.  A particularly narsty example of this syndrome is all too common, when the “improvements” are really just cost-cutting measures or some other form of pandering to current “market” expectations.

But I have to give credit where credit is due: to the few nutjobs out there who really don’t give a tinker’s damn about anyone else’s opinions, even in cases where others’ opinions happen to be right.  These guys just keep bopping along to the sound of their own drum kits, regardless of common knowledge, public opinion or poverty.  Like suffering zealots everywhere, they may even derive a certain grim pleasure from the notion that they are “right” (and others are wrong).  So, who really cares about parts, anyway?  These guys would kill or be killed over whether or not a part should be cryogenically treated, or whether it sounds best oriented length or width-wise along the sun’s vernal axis.

Which brings me to the idea of “difference”.

Years ago I did not scoff at the notion of power cords making a difference, even though I had yet to hear any such difference myself.  Then, I heard a difference.  As far as I am concerned, this is the stuff of madness, because, as it turns out, I have for years been able to “hear” pretty much any and every change I make to my system, down to a single resistor or jack.

Whack?  Youbetcha!  But you can’t tell that to the poor souls who are “out there” dedicating their lives to exploring and categorizing the differences that they either do hear or that they think they hear.

Many years ago, as an undergraduate, I was required to serve as a “lab rat” in a series of experiments that ostensibly dealt with hearing.  Subjects were asked to listen to words recorded onto a reel of tape and indicate to the researcher any change that was detected.  In one series in which I participated, a word was repeated a few times, and then I continued to listen and note it as the word subtly “morphed”, like this: Ship; ship; ship (etc); schick, shit, sip, etc., etc., with the “differences” vague but at the same time clearly audible to a careful listener.  Only, guess what?  It turns out that the “reel of tape” the subject watches un-spool is really just an elongated “loop” of one, unchanging (and so, unchanged) word; meaning that any “differences” “detected” in this experiment (and there were plenty of subjects, and they all “heard and described the changes”) are in the mind of the subject rather than on the tape.  Take a few minutes with this one.

So, here we are, adrift on the great big sea of audio tomfoolery, without a metaphorical paddle.  If we can on the one hand hear any and every change in our systems, then this implies that everything is worth considering.  If we are prone on the other hand to confuse what we do and don’t actually hear, then although everything may be worth considering, does it make any difference we can certainly identify as an “improvement”?

All these rhetorical questions I offer up as my part in building the New Audio Tower of Babble, where any and all changes will be tried, codified and [com]piled until we ascend finally to the Sound Absolute.

Meantime, I will continue to just take the periodic flyer on stuff that “sounds like it could be good” in the sense that the “facts” as I presently understand them suggest a candidate.

As for running the gauntlet of whack-os who guard the temples that enshrine the SOTA components, I guess I’ll keep taking them on a case-by-case basis.  No, I will never pay just to browse a fancy Manhattan salon.  But I might well make nice to some drooler with air caps in Boise.

Best regards,
Paul S
12-26-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,511
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 2
Post ID: 3377
Reply to: 3353
Selfdenial as Audio Tower of Babble?
 Paul S wrote:
So, here we are, adrift on the great big sea of audio tomfoolery, without a metaphorical paddle. If we can on the one hand hear any and every change in our systems, then this implies that everything is worth considering. If we are prone on the other hand to confuse what we do and don’t actually hear, then although everything may be worth considering, does it make any difference we can certainly identify as an “improvement”? All these rhetorical questions I offer up as my part in building the New Audio Tower of Babble, where any and all changes will be tried, codified and [com]piled until we ascend finally to the Sound Absolute.
Ironically the “New Audio Tower of Babble” has already existed but it is way outside of realms of audio. Are we hearing audio while we are listening audio? Sure we, so what? I attended plenty of live musical performances when musicians did not play anything else besides juts Sound… S, what is my point?

A few months ago I read Sviatoslav Richter’s dairies and autobiography. It was in Russian and I do not know if it ever was published in English. His autobiography was boring but his dairies were extremely interesting. What Richter did was not keeping the regular dairies as some people do but rather he was describing, year after year down with his German anal-retentiveness, his feelings after he experienced a musical performance. What was particularly interesting for the subject of the given illustration that Richter seldom differentiated in his feedback if they were recordings or live concerts…. Sometimes he did mention that the heard recording, sometime he did not. He named a performing piece and the performer, also the location and circumstances of the performance. Then he spoke about the performance and only somewhere in a middle of his comments it was possible to detect that he was talking about recording but not live concert….

Does our playback reproduce imitation of music or our awareness marks it as imitation? Sure the is a huge difference between live and reproduced sound but is any difference between live and reproduced Music?


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
12-26-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Max Shatsky
Posts 19
Joined on 01-03-2005

Post #: 3
Post ID: 3379
Reply to: 3377
Musical Messages
> Does our playback reproduce imitation of music or our awareness marks it as imitation? Sure the is a huge difference between live and reproduced sound but is any difference between live and reproduced Music?

I would use 'Messages' instead of Music, since it is very general subject and it is true for any art.

I think that it depends on a person's ability to extract a Musical Message. Someone is able to get a message from a table radio, but someone else requires 'other' reproduction quality or a live performance to get the Message.
A musician can get a Message from a composer notes,  just-listneres need music and a conductor to digest a Message. Certnainly, a conductor and performers inject its own Messages into music, producing somewhat transformed Message or a mixture of Messages . So, an electronic reproduction system distorts the original Messages and  adds its own.  Can you get messages from photo-printed paintings? Sometimes yes, sometimes not. Depends on types of the messages present in a painting.

Then, it is a person's abilities and types of messages. I think the same is in music, some messages are in melody (most reproduction systems will be ok), some are in sound of instruments (here we go), ... Anyone to continue this list?


12-26-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,138
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 4
Post ID: 3381
Reply to: 3377
The Sound of Music by and for musicians

I don’t know what other people respond to as “music”, but I certainly regard sound itself as very important, indeed, and my own sense is that sound itself is usually most of what I am futzing with when I futz with my system.  Basically, I trust myself to be able to use sound as a tool to home in on music with my hi-fi.  Regardless of my serious jokes about drifting and piling inanity to Babble-on, I still try to tune my system to sound like I want it to.  While I can’t help but distinguish between live music and hi-fi, I also aim to capture/re-create with my hi-fi as much as I can of what moves me about live performances, including fair sonic verisimilitude.  No, I can’t get Beethoven’s 9th just right, but then I don’t presently aim to.  Call me a quitter, but I just mostly gave up quite a few years ago.  It’s just too freaking BIG.  Still, with respect to your point, Romy, I do at times get something very much akin to musical awareness even from Beethoven’s 9th, sonic disparities notwithstanding.  And in answer to the post just prior to this one, I do not get an analogous art fix from looking at, say, prints of Pollocks’ paintings, compared to looking at the originals.  I am thinking right now about “texture” and a sort of “perspective” implied by “texture”, not to mention “gesture”, and I think this applies broadly to music, as well.  By this I mean to say that I “believe” I have actually gotten some of these things “right” in the rote sense with my sound system.

I am always amused when people mention musicians in the context of audio, especially when “musicians” are introduced as though a musician somehow naturally has better hi-fi discernment or a better handle on sound reproduction.  Although I’m sure that others’ experiences will vary, I can count on one hand the musicians I’ve known who gave a fig about hi-fi, and of those only one ever bothered to try to assemble a “special” system.  He went out shopping, asked questions, listened and spent some real money on it.  Eventually he (apparently) put together the system he was looking/listening for, and IMO it sucked (although it would get pretty loud).

So who knows what a musician is thinking about with respect to live versus Memorex?  Those I talk to generally seem pretty far removed from sound per se, except as it relates to something very specific, like a particular instrument or a certain tonic value, etc.  Otherwise, they seem mostly interested in performance, per se -  how so-and-so performs a particular piece, or exactly what so-and-so did/does in fairly rote terms.  While I’ve gotten some remarkable insights into music from listening to musicians talk about music, I have also pretty much had them let the air out of what I thought were some great performances.  I would not be surprised to find out that Richter did not bother to further distinguish what to him warranted no further distinction.

Best regards,
Paul S
12-27-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 496
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 5
Post ID: 3382
Reply to: 3381
The Original Sound
 Paul S wrote:
I don’t know what other people respond to as “music”, but I certainly regard sound itself as very important... I do not get an analogous art fix from looking at, say, prints of Pollocks’ paintings, compared to looking at the originals... I am always amused when people mention musicians in the context of audio... Eventually he [a musician] put together the system he was looking/listening for, and IMO it sucked.


To me the most important thing is to intuit, to feel, to sense, what the musicians were thinking and feeling that moved them to perform just as they did at the time of the recording.  To be successful in musical reproduction for me is to be brought closer to the original musical event because THAT TIME is where the ideas and emotions are conveyed.  Every recording of a recording gets hazier like a poorly recorded copy of a copy of a video tape of a birhtday party, compared to actually being at the party live. 

Paul gives an excellent example because musicians can easily pick up on things with little clues because they are so familiar with the music that the ideas are instantly conveyed even with what we might consider poor hi fi.  We poor audiophools need the special vacuum tubes because we have more difficulty getting close to the music.  Maybe we should all take some music lessons and learn to play an instrument; it might make it easier when we listen to the music to get to the core.

Adrian
12-27-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,511
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 6
Post ID: 3386
Reply to: 3381
Audio, visual art and Cesar salad.

Reading Paul’s reply I came across to asking myself of what we call painting. Let get for instance any famous works, let I be the early Dali’s portrait of his sister “Figure at Window”. What we call as the “Figure at Window”?

Dali_FigureAtWindow.jpg

When we mention the “Figure at Window” do we mean the actual original canvas with panting or we rather refer to the message/impression that the work ignited within its viewers? What we call “event”? The happening that took place in distant past or out perception of the event fact? I certainly am not wiling to dive into the well-fought debates of German 19 century subjective idealist; we all were there in our tens. However, there was a lot of truth, if not truth then “peacefulness” in those views…

To me, the “Figure at Window” as a fact is rather a persistent sentiment then the painting that hangs somewhere in a museum or in privet collection. I never seen it life and I have no real intention to do it. How different it would be from music. What is important to know what the Beethoven IX is all about or to have an opportunity to …go into a museum and to see the Beethoven IX is handing on the wall?

Once again, it would not be the unified answer and it all depends HOW YOU USE IT.

You might built better audio or learn to develop more sensitive perception and you end up with the same results. This why I, staring from a certain level, refuse to combine audio and music and  feel that audio resole own purely “abstract audio” tasks (and I do not see anything negative in it) and musicality exist “as is”, completely out of the scope and our or regards of the audio methods…

Well, I have mixed and confused that all together, didn’t I? Good for me.

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
12-27-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
jessie.dazzle


Paris, France
Posts 456
Joined on 04-23-2006

Post #: 7
Post ID: 3389
Reply to: 3386
Relative Contrast

I wrote this before seeing Romy's last post with the painting, so it not a response to that post... strange coincidende that we were both thinking of painting...

In the case of music we are dealing with art.

The one common denominator in art is the expression of a vision... No vision = No art.

Assuming you are the artist, and you the artist have a vision (hopefully something that burns in your gut), next comes the expression of that vision, and the mastering of the power and subtilty of that expression.

In painting, there is no point painting anything until you understand compostion, and have learned to draw...

Please do not talk to me about color if you havn't mastered light and shadow (contrast).

Color is really the last thing you need to worry about. When you finally do reach for the colors, if you have everything else right, as long as you control the contrast, you can use literally whatever color you want, wherever you want... it is nearly irrelevant.

Consider that real life happens in living color.

Now remember the last time you saw a well photographed black and white film with a good story ; A half an hour into the film did you find yourself wanting high-def super-saturated living color ? Did you really care ?

My opinion : Just as in the world of good black and white film, once strapped into your listening seat, your brain most appreciates a system capable of naturally rendering relative contrast.

jd*




How to short-circuit evolution: Enshrine mediocrity.
12-27-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
yoshi
Jefferson (MA), United States
Posts 69
Joined on 05-04-2005

Post #: 8
Post ID: 3390
Reply to: 3386
aura of art
Rene Magritte is a famous surealism painter. His images are reproduced in many publications, books of his works, museum catalogs, even used in some advertisements. I suppose most of you are familiar with at least a couple of his works.
http://www.magritte.be/
With his works, you can probably get the superficial idea of the work through reproductions, but it's only the surface of the story. His originals are created with very subtle manipurations of the texture with very, very dry, completely matt finish. Through this extreme finishing touch, you feel the fear, the wonder, the air the artist breathed, and yes, his vision. In the reproduction of grossy printing, all this content is lost and only a playful image remains.

On the other hand, Jasper Johns' works are more dependent to the image (or the elements of images) itself and his intent comes through more clearly in his prints or, sometimes, in the reproductions. I feel the material-ness of his originals creates conflicts with the content in many of his works.

When young Celibidache asked Fultwangler about a correct tempi of a particular work, Fultwangler's answer was "it depends on the hall". The size, shape, number of audiences all contributes to the reverve time and subscequently, the balance and the tempo of the orchestra to achieve his intent.

Can a recording/reproducing faithfully recreate this aura of one time performance in your living room? I guess not, and I'm not sure how relevant it would be to appreciate the greatness of the performance, considering many poor concerts I attended live.

Yoshi
12-27-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Max Shatsky
Posts 19
Joined on 01-03-2005

Post #: 9
Post ID: 3391
Reply to: 3386
Why, why Abstract Audio?
>You might built better audio or learn to develop more sensitive perception and you end up with the same results. This why I, staring from a certain level, refuse to combine audio and music and  feel that audio resole own purely “abstract audio” tasks (and I do not see anything negative in it) and musicality exist “as is”, completely out of the scope and our or regards of the audio methods…

Romy, I still don't get why you call it 'abstract audio' and why you put audio out of music context. Yes, audio and music are not the same things, but the type of audio discussed at this forum serves as a tool of conveying musical messages (at least some of them).
A composer can use a violin to create a sense of bird singing. If a reproduction system is incapable to deliver that AUDIO qualities, then the message is lost. That's why you can't get the same results from "built better audio" and "learn to develop more sensitive perception". Different intentions/messages/visions may require different tools/perceptions to convey themselfs.

>"own purely “abstract audio” tasks " 

what are these? You mean the taskes that have no connection to music? then why do we need to bother about it (in this forum)?


12-27-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Max Shatsky
Posts 19
Joined on 01-03-2005

Post #: 10
Post ID: 3392
Reply to: 3389
Re: Relative Contrast
>
jessie.dazzle : 
> My opinion : Just as in the world of good black and white film, once strapped into your listening seat, your brain most appreciates a system capable of naturally rendering relative contrast

I don't agree. B&W and Color serve different purposes, they do not substitute each other.
BTW, what is 'relative contrast' in terms of music?
12-27-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,138
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 11
Post ID: 3396
Reply to: 3392
"Differences" versus "contrast"
I do not mean to set up a discussion about apriori categories, etc.  Rather, I mean to drag the notion of differences back to audio and some of my original observations.  I am thinking of systems I have heard that seemed to heighten one's sense of certain differences by various means - say, "contrast" - and how unatisfying this approach has been for me over time.  At the same time, I can't think of a system I have heard that resolves/realizes more/better than mine the sort of information I am looking for, or perhaps the balance of informational cues I expect from music, and without producing "too many" of its own gratuitious and/or annoying sounds/sound effects, either.  (I will be happy to grant rather than argue about it that this is "subjective", by the way.  Also, ask me again tomorrow...)

Although we could probably fill pages with what constitutes "differences", I think it's easy to understand that the notion is not limited to SPL/dynamics.  The many shades and subtlties of music are not only temporal or tonal, but also relational on many different "levels" (which is another trippy topic) that inhere in existance and are showcased in music.  A stupid but also clear example of this is to imagine Beethoven's 9th done on the kazoo.  I hope this illustratioin finally puts to rest the chestnut that all hi-fi components/sytems are "equal", "if you like it", etc.  Not to be a pill, but I can't imagine myself being baited into that discussion.

I was saying that I do expect my hi-fi to remind me of music, and I do not think I want a particular reproduced sound because I don't know anything about music.  I am remembering that my listening, itself, to hi-fi and live performances, becomes more "alike" when my system is "on".  I do know what I'm listening to/for, apart from when something much better just whups me upside the head, like the ML2s, which just came to me from out of Nowhere;  but now I "get" them, too.

I agree with yoshi that listening to "live" is certainly no guarantee of musical satisfaction; and - just to provoke - perhaps it is less so because we can pretty much at any time dig out Callas/De Sabata/La Scala, "Tosca", etc, etc., just as mood and circumstances appeal to us.  Yes, it's "cheating", etc., but we wouldn't be here if we didn't get something out of it.

So, just to further the discussion, consider the rendering of "differences" as part of the journey-with-a-destination that is hi-fi.

To close, I am entertained rather than enthralled by 20th Century French philosophy, even though I grant them much of what they say, particularly within their own eliptical contexts.  Anyway, I do not mean by this post to repeat the notion of "The Play of Differences" as a "core concept", either.  Just the hi-fi, folks.

Best regards,
Paul S
12-28-2006 Post mapped to one branch of Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,511
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 12
Post ID: 3400
Reply to: 3391
I would shade some light about “abstract audio”

 Max Shatsky wrote:
>You might built better audio or learn to develop more sensitive perception and you end up with the same results. This why I, staring from a certain level, refuse to combine audio and music and  feel that audio resole own purely “abstract audio” tasks (and I do not see anything negative in it) and musicality exist “as is”, completely out of the scope and our or regards of the audio methods…

Romy, I still don't get why you call it 'abstract audio' and why you put audio out of music context. Yes, audio and music are not the same things, but the type of audio discussed at this forum serves as a tool of conveying musical messages (at least some of them).
A composer can use a violin to create a sense of bird singing. If a reproduction system is incapable to deliver that AUDIO qualities, then the message is lost. That's why you can't get the same results from "built better audio" and "learn to develop more sensitive perception". Different intentions/messages/visions may require different tools/perceptions to convey themselfs.

>"own purely “abstract audio” tasks " 

what are these? You mean the taskes that have no connection to music? then why do we need to bother about it (in this forum)?


Max, I understand what you are saying and where you are coming from.  Audio might be not “abstract” might be very much “applied”. Audio might be in the state where audio contents and musical contents are the undividable the same, where one evaluates the state of truthfulness of other. I do not need to be reminded about it and in fact I would not argue if somebody insists that this “merged” state of mind is the very ultimate goal of high-end audio evaluation.

Still, there is something after that and it is not only my own observations but also a common pattern. A person eventually become so familiar with the mechanisms of own listening awareness and so demanding to his/her listening experiences that for that person it became more beneficial to acknowledge reflections of own extrapolation instead of the sound of actual reproduced reality. When the person in his/her development riches this state the “quality” of sound reproduction become less and less relevant, up to the point of being irrelevant at all. (Actually the definition of “quality” becomes to have different meaning...)  At this state the person might still continue working on audio improvements but what the person does form now and on is pure “abstract audio” as it serves purely self-serving audio objectives…. because the person’s  musical objectives have no audio aim already.   Interesting that I do not recognize the term “abstract audio” as an offensive expression, in fact, I personally consider that the “abstract audio” it is the only purist and the most objective way to deal with sound reproduction. A person at this state resolves pure audio tasks, and yes, if it is necessary then the person plugs into the dame all necessary cultural and musical “support”. However, the person at the very same time clearly recognizes that success or failure of this “abstract audio task” is absolutely detached from own listening awareness and own cultural musical evolution.

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
12-28-2006 Post mapped to one branch of Knowledge Tree
jessie.dazzle


Paris, France
Posts 456
Joined on 04-23-2006

Post #: 13
Post ID: 3402
Reply to: 3392
Color Theory 101

The following reflects the current state of my understanding, and in some cases, my opinion... I welcome and very much value other points of view.

Max, regarding B&W and Color : Actually we do agree here ; I did not write (nor mean to suggest) that one could replace the other. They most certainly cannot substitute each other.

Paul, please bear with me ; this does get back to audio.

When you view a B&W film, your eyes register contrast. This contrast renders the scene legible without color. However, a color film without contrast would be illegible.

A person with totally defective cones (color receptors) is totally colorblind. A person with totally defective rods (contrast receptors) is just plain blind, and no amount of perfect cones will change that.

Without contrast, color is of no interest.

It is contrast not color which defines space.

Dali_FigureAtWindow_No_Color.jpg    Dali_FigureAtWindow_No_Contrast.jpg

In the first image, all the color information was removed, but all the contrast was preserved.

In the second image, all the contrast information was removed, but all the color was preserved (meaning that all color was brought to the same level of contrast... You can see how little color info this image really has)

Whether you view a film, or listen to music, your mind is actually reading space (I am not referring to the recording space) ; The writer or composer sets up immagery through which your mind navigates. It does not matter whether you see the input or hear it or both, you mind is on the move.

Contrast, is fundamental to the perception of this space or any other space.

Color is fundamental to the perception of... color. It is an additional but subordinate level of information.

Yes space can have color, and yes color can help or hinder the definition of space.

The term relative contrast (as opposed to absolute contrast) refers to the contrast within a scale defined by a given situation. Your mind auto-calibrates to these scales.

My point in the example of the black and white film is that even though life happens in "Living Color", the mind calibrates to this limited set of information, and in the case of a good film, the mind recognizing it has what it needs, takes that information, and runs with it.

How does that translate to audio ?

A musical performance may contain many times more information than the creator intended to convey.

Again, this is my opinion :

It is not necessary or even desirable that a system reproduce all the information of the live event.

Yes some of this information is of interest, but this is not the meat of what allows perception.

The principal element of what allows perception of sound can only be put forth in terms of relative contrast.

Relative contrast of duration, pitch, dynamics, and timbre.

It is difficult enough to assemble a system that completely renders all information the performer intended to convey in just these terms.

Just as in a painting, until relative contrast is mastered, the addition of color serves only to further pollute the message.

What I'm saying may sound obvious, but consider how many expensive systems you've heard that are capable of rendering micro-detail, without completely nailing the basics.

The typical list is as follows :

The compromised Mid Range driver being solicited for Mid Bass duty as well

The total absence of real Mid Bass / Mid Bass with tone

The overly hot, overly present High Frequency driver

The Lower Bass which has no tone and is way too strong around 40Hz because the ports have to kick in somewhere...

With problems of this magnitude, the rendering of a finer level of detail is as ridiculous as dressing a pig in a Chanel gown.

************

Regarding the possibility to replicate a live performance via HiFi :

The musician uses his musical instrument to produce sound. The musician does not try to get the sound of a cello from his instrument unless it is a cello (or a synthesyzer). The HiFi guy on the other hand uses the one membrane of his Mid Range driver to produce the sounds of half the instruments in an orchestra, sometimes all playing at once !

It is said that "a good driver can handle the simultaneous reproduction of more than one sound"... Hold that thought, I'll get back to it.

When you think what a Mid Range driver is being asked to do in the case of an orchestral performance, even the crappiest of drivers is at first glance performing what seems to be a miracle ; something way beyond what the technology involved would suggest. How can a piston moving in two dimensions start, stop, and change direction fast enough to produce the sound of all those instruments playing at once?

The answer is simple, and it is not a miracle ; This is possible only because the human ear is also a one membrane system, in a way, a mirror of that one driver.

When we listen to live performances, the membrane of our ear is being pressured by the natural sum of several sounds. From this, our brain re-assembles a sound image.

The fact that to our ear, a driver can mimic the symultanious reproduciton of more than one sound, does not mean that it is producing several sounds. It is producing the sum of several sounds, first summed by the microphone(s) and all the recording gear, and then sent as a summed package via all our play back gear to act on the drivers membrane, finally pressurizing the membrane of our ears. The difference : In the case of a live performance, our ear is allowed to sum the input, and our brain processes this raw information directly ; In the case of HiFi, the summing has already been done, and our brane is asked to extrapolate a line of pre-summed information.

To hope to reconstruct the original picture from information that has been completely altered (in different ways with each recording) seems ridiculous.

For this reason, if one day somebody does succeed in reproducing the sound of a live performance via HiFi, I would not be surprised to see they started by creating a recording consisting of several channels, each one carrying the information from only one instrument. This multi-channel recording would then be played back via a corresponding number of dedicated drivers set up where the instruments were found (relative to each other) at the time of the original event, leaving it to our ears and minds to sum and decode the total.

jd*




How to short-circuit evolution: Enshrine mediocrity.
12-29-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Dominic
Montreal, Canada
Posts 69
Joined on 08-23-2006

Post #: 14
Post ID: 3404
Reply to: 3386
a healthy divide
"Once again, it would not be the unified answer and it all depends HOW YOU USE IT. "

You might built better audio or learn to develop more sensitive perception and you end up with the same results. This why I, staring from a certain level, refuse to combine audio and music and  feel that audio resole own purely “abstract audio” tasks (and I do not see anything negative in it) and musicality exist “as is”, completely out of the scope and our or regards of the audio methods…

Well, I have mixed and confused that all together, didn’t I? Good for me."


Actually that's the first time i figured out what you've meant all this time!

I was at a rehearsal for a christmas concert recently given by the Montreal Symphonic, and my sister was singing with the children's choir. That's not the interesting part, what's interesting is that since the children aren't as strong as a pro soloist standing in front, they had them mic'ed and amplified, and it was horrible, but when i allowed myself to listen to the music, it was great. My soundidiot was getting in the way. It's hard to really blame myself much, as it really was a shit system, but that was not important. Having heard several of the Choir's concerts before and knowing a number of the other choristers i knew their voices, the usual tonal balance and texture of the ensemble etc, and it was all abolished. But there was still music being made. Having a crap PA come on right after the orchestra has gone through the program in acoustic glory really shows the difference.

anyhoo, that's my anecdote

maybe i've been saved by having a short attention span? i've got a limited amount of time in the year that i end up spending on audiofoolage and the rest is taken up with other interests so i sit (or jump around, depending) to appreciate the music rather than crritically listen to the hardware.
12-29-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Gregm
Greece
Posts 91
Joined on 02-16-2005

Post #: 15
Post ID: 3405
Reply to: 3402
Further musings on JD's ideas above.
The visual analogy is very appealing I must say. Looking at audio from the point of view of music, as you treat the subject, I could comment on the following:

"It is not necessary or even desirable that a system reproduce all the information of the live event."
Agreed.

"Yes some of this information is of interest, but this is not the meat of what allows perception." Agree again. 

"The principal element of what allows perception of sound can only be put forth in terms of relative contrast.
"
I don't think so. I find this concept of relative contrast very attractive -- but it seems to be more fitting with the visual example rather than audio. Reproduction of music begins to exist, when the music begins to sound real -- i.e. the various sounds have ultimate cohesion, the sounds are no longer tones but part of an intelligible whole... 

I.e., the elements of the music are easily perceptible and they come forth /thereby we no longer listen to just sounds but to music.

For much of the music we listen to, the correct perception of rythm, melody, and harmony are essential. As JD notes aptly, most systems fail one way or another to reach this goal, aiming instead at the restitution of certain sounds -- evidence the fashionable speakers that sound like whistles.
Think of how many times every one of us has listened to melody without rythm -- or at least s/thing was not quite right and the brain had to make up for that.

"Relative contrast of duration, pitch, dynamics, and timbre."
I think those are characteristics -- not the "meat". Those are tools: you can also add tempo, and tonality

"...the human ear is (...) a one membrane system, in a way, a mirror of (...) one driver." Are you sure? Aren't there tiny hairs, each of which, given SP, oscillates at a different frequency, thereby giving the brain the particulars of tonality, amplitude, etc?


"In the case of a live performance, our ear is allowed to sum the input, and our brain processes this raw information directly ; In the case of HiFi, the summing has already been done, and our brane is asked to extrapolate a line of pre-summed information.

To hope to reconstruct the original picture from information that has been completely altered (in different ways with each recording) seems ridiculous."

I like this view and would like to think about it.
Maybe I'll even take my scope for a holiday ride to listen to a ruthlessly revealing system...

01-01-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Dominic
Montreal, Canada
Posts 69
Joined on 08-23-2006

Post #: 16
Post ID: 3416
Reply to: 3405
not to be too picky, but it might be important
"...the human ear is (...) a one membrane system, in a way, a mirror of (...) one driver." Are you sure? Aren't there tiny hairs, each of which, given SP, oscillates at a different frequency, thereby giving the brain the particulars of tonality, amplitude, etc?"

the cochlea is after the tympanic membrane. Those hairs divide up what's been picked up by that one membrane.

Sort of the inverse of a single driver driven by multiple amps. I was pondering
 a couple days ago and came to the conclusion (if i were to be overly categorical) that there can be
 no such thing as an 'absolute sound'. One's mood changes far too much.
01-01-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Gregm
Greece
Posts 91
Joined on 02-16-2005

Post #: 17
Post ID: 3417
Reply to: 3416
Let's put a positive, festive note to this
"One's mood changes far too much"
Let's hope it's for the better, more positive. Happy new year!
01-02-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Dominic
Montreal, Canada
Posts 69
Joined on 08-23-2006

Post #: 18
Post ID: 3421
Reply to: 3417
Sure why not! + optical ideas

Researching more advanced display technologies i came across a reference to HDRI. high dynamic range imaging.
i thought i'd link to the wikipedia page on the subject as i think it could help give some context to the colour vs texture vs contrast debate.
As these are terms from visual reproduction it might be sensible to re-introduce that context. I don't want to say too much.
 be best to let you guys have at the idea for yourselves.
01-02-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,511
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 19
Post ID: 3422
Reply to: 3421
Color hearing and foreign languages...

The substitution of tonal semantics to visual semantics is well researched phenomena.  I think Russian composers and musicologist in end of the 19 century of the 20 century went further then anyone else into the subject.

From an emotional perception of tone in renaissance (for instance)

C-dur - cheerful and warlike
D-dur - joyful and VERY warlike
E-dur - quarrelsome and irritable
Es-dur - cruel and stern
F-dur - violent and hasty
G-dur - tender and joyful
A-dur - joyful and pastoral
B-dur - majestic and joyful
H-dur - stern and sorrowful

through the German evolved sensual recognition of tonality in 19 century, Russians went for a direct association between colors and tones. Rimsky-Korsakov of course was the key in there and the Scriabin symphonies for light installation and orchestra were in the very summit. I think there is something race-biological in Salve because it is know that they generally very inclined to color hearing. Ironically the morons with medical diplomas recognize color hearing as chromesthesia and suggest treating it with prescription medications.  :-)

Still, I feel, although it perfectly comfortable with explanation of musicality by visual association but there is catch in it. This association comes to existence ONLY when we try to explain music (even for ourselves)… but any explanation is in fact a conversion of poor musicality into…. literature.

So, I do not think that there is anything wrong with visualization of music … but only if a person can not communicate on native musical semantic, phonetic and vocabulary. If the person’ awareness can operate in the realms of pure mural abstraction then any visualization of music become unnecessary. People who study foreign languages in the beginning translate what they hear into their native language. Then, the better they command the foreign languages the faster they inner-translate the messages and eventually they switch into  direct use of foreign languages, without any intimidate translation…

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
01-17-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Dominic
Montreal, Canada
Posts 69
Joined on 08-23-2006

Post #: 20
Post ID: 3506
Reply to: 3422
what's the problem.
That each piece of music tells something different, in a different way.
Part of the fun of certain songs for instance works because of the way it troubles the electro mechaincs of a table radio.
Some artists like to play in a big hall with a juicy echo. Some like nearly anechoic studios.
It seems to me that it is a tall order indeed to satisfy, not the technical demands of reproducing, but to serve the musical flavour to provide the 'right' contrasts and resonances, and even distortion, that the artist(s) were playing to. Or even just mixed to.

Have i just been making excuses?

What does it really mean to operate at higher musical consciousness?

Why don't musicians speak the same language as audiophiles, even though they love music just as much.
Is it a false dichotomy and it's just easier to live and express in terms of the dichotomy?

I feel it might be like Lao Tzu said: "he who can describe it does not know". There's this kind of division between the articulation and the understanding of music, and i find that the musicians' dialect/lexicon of half measures, key, minor 5th chords etc. just throws my understanding off. Even though I know 'what' these things are, i find that the perspective of the dialog changes to something possibly unhealthy, if not for most people, then at least for me. Some artists, and diletantes for that matter, speak of music as math. Yes, it is. Sort of. Music of everykind, has to do with flow, in time. Math has to do with answers. Music can successfully be dealt with in terms of mathematical ideas; multiplication, addition, subdivision, differentials, vectors, negative, positive. There is a subconscious understanding of these principles at work while we listen, and that's why it works to think of it that way. But that is really just the dipthongs and umlauts, while fully useful, and a great part of the character of the language aren't what the message is.

Perhaps i've been going on, i'm sorry. I don't know where i'm going with this, but some fruit to bring out the flavour in the pork can't be a bad idea.
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