A few year back a Russian audiologist A. Likhnitsky’s published a book “Sound Quality: New approach to testing of the home audio equipment”. (P&K, 1998) The book has many positive moments and altogether it was a wonderful attempt to bring into our listening audio evaluations and into the general audio practice some light of so necessary there objective rational and sanity.
Looking at the today’s audiophiles, I agree that the semantic and purposeless foolishness with which the audio people operate while they evaluate audio is staggering and the book makes an attempt to structure and to organize thinking about audio evolutions in a very civilized and very humanly-objective fashion. The book was written in Russian. Currently the book is experiencing a second attempt to be translated into English by the efforts of Peter Qvortrup (the Audio Note - UK guy), but knowing how much money/efforts he has commissioned to the project and knowing the intricacy of the Mr. Likhnitsky’s thinking/writing I do not anticipate that Peter will ever succeed. Therefore I presume that the western audiophiles will die in ignorance (just kidding) and will continue to call each other pathetically screaming: “I just bought that amplifier because the damn Patricia Barber was almost in my room!”
Actually, the audio people select audio gismos not just because their listening ignorance or their lack of audio-applied obective methodological ability. Mostly they are just victims and hostages of well-oiled machine of audio-moronisation, namely the Audio Propaganda, that deploys to audio people a set of faulty and totally irrelevant audio evaluation methods, audio objectives, audio critiques, and, weel as it offers to a target market a totally bogus, inner-brewed coordinate system of the audio thinking. It would be even OK if the audio propaganda does it’s bad thing intentionally but unfortunately it is not always the case. The audio propaganda’s composite consciousness itself is a victim of own actions and most of the power-players within audio propaganda are just regrettably feeble and disqualified people.
If you want to make a conclusion about the participants of the audio-power hoodlumhood then do not subscribe to their Internet masquerade or to their hypocritical writings. Meet them, talk with them “live”, sit in their rooms and get your own feeling of what you deal with. You will see how little is there, how afraid they are to maintain their own status-quo and how limited their understanding of what they deal with while they write their audio-doodles. You might be very surprised to meet your “favorite reviewer” and to learn how much idiocy, zombienisation, primitivism and ridiculousness s/he possesses, and particularly when audio is a subject. There is no wonder why most of the audio doodles that they spread around themselves are just the direct depictions of what they are, not to mention the numerous cases of an open untruthfulnees and perpetration of intentional fraud to pubic. I am not even taking about the frequent cases when the audio writers are the factual distributors of the products or the payrolled marketing departments. I am taking about the plan senselessness and stupidity that stuffed practically any audio publication. As an illustration I may recall the quite “popular and famous” reviewer who published a large drooling review about a multi-thousands dollars phonostage. The fun part is that he did not even have a turntable and therefore he used a reverse-RIAA filtered analog output of his SACD player to feed the phonostage. Well, now get the punch line: when I “gently” informed him that it was not a correct way to drive a phonostage the reviewer replied: “Why not, what would be the difference?” (nd the guy was damn serious!) Is anything else should be said? I would not even go into the fact that the most of the “industry sponsored audio judges” have no necessary cultural level, musical acquaintance and practicly no absolutely-required humane sensitivity in order to evaluate the methods and means of Music reproduction.
Anyhow, what Likhnitsky did with his book was an attempt to take the audio evaluations and audio judgments from the ignorant hands of a commonly moronic audio-oligarchy: manufacturers, dealers, reviewers, editors, audio-heaters and the rest residue of audio industry (not all of them but the dominating majority of them, approximately 80%) and give the correct audio-evaliation keys to wide public, and to help them, to the ordinary listeners, to become the owners of their hobby, their actions, their judgments, their listening ability and talents.
As I said, the book with more or less success (more frequently “more” then “less”) covers various aspects of audio evaluations. I suspect that the minor drawbacks and the too-simplified approaches that Mr.Likhnitsky did in his book were due to the fact that he targeted wide and mostly none-prepared addressees and therefore we was forced to go as simple and as easy as possible. The book is still mostly too complicated for an average audiophile audio-zombie.
Anyhow, I do not write a review on the book, but would like to embrace it and to offer a comparable vision to one of the strategic aspects of the Mr. Likhnitsky book. I refer to the book’s approach to stricture a listener’s progress into a played material. If to abridge everything tremendously then according to Likhnitsky a process of communicating with the musical messages is a multifaceted process and contains 4 hierarchical levels.
I will be paraphrasing:
At the first level of musical perception a listener deals with Sonic Accuracy: tonal balance, tonal purity, space resolution, sounds clarity, sounds distinctions, sounds details, voices separation, sounds characters, sounds connections, dynamic contrast, dynamic colorations and many others. Most of High End lives within this domain and most of playback systems introduce so much of “sonic contaminations” that any further musical perception remains locked out. In case of none-negative result from the first level and an absents of a sonic dissatisfaction in here a listener’s awareness has no impediments to go further to the second level.
The second level of musical perception has deal with tone and timber. This is much more complex quality related to neutrality, individuality, timber beauty, humanity, harmonization and many others ingredients of music. If a playback system does not screw up at the second level that a listener could fly further.
The third level is an emotional communication with music. At this level a listener deals with the capacity of a system to be transparent for emotional charge of music, musical energy, and the most important the correctness of emotional rendering. Most of the playbacks (if they ever reach this level!) introduce the emotional distortions but should a system still remains the emotionally transparent and “honest” to the source then a listener could go further (assumingly that the source-music has within itself something more then just the tonal and timber contents)
The last, forth level of musical perception, deals with esthetic content of music: the purposefulness of all elements of playback, the connectively of musical events, the meaningfulness of the messages and so on.
What Mr. Likhnitsky offered was very good and he illustrated the subject in his book quite well, offering many useful practical recommendation and examples. However, I consider his vision not exactly accurate, not particularly because it wrong (it is not) but because it is not inclusive and becose it portrays a slightly twisted picture.
Within this thread I will elaborate on my interpretation of the Likhnitsky’s visualization. I’m calling it “Six-Leveled-Listening Benefits”, as I have mentioned it in the description of my playback, (the emails with the questions that I’m receiving since I deployed the description made me to initiate this thread). The name “Six-Leveled-Listening Benefits” is totally irrelevant and actually it has not six levels but seven levels (more on it - later on). They are the gradual steps that listing awareness takes almost sequentially while we are trying to evaluate the elements of playback.
To keep the flow of my subsequent posts on the subject constants I will remove the club member’s ability to post within this thread. Should one wiling to corroborate on the subject then initiate another thread.
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