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In the Forum: Melquiades Amplifier
In the Thread: To drive the 6C33C...
Post Subject: Some spaghetti of thoughts: distortions, 834Posted by Romy the Cat on: 3/21/2006

 hagtech wrote:
After many years, Romy has come to enjoy this style of amplification.  If I read his words correctly, the sound of these machines brings him more emotion and connection with the music and musicians.  An admiral goal.  Who the heck cares about distortion numbers when you have this?

Actually, Jim, it has absolutely nothing to do with “emotion and connection with the music and musicians”. My feelings about the necessary to “appropriately saturate” reproduced sound with second harmonic do not derive from any “emotions” or even from music itself but rather from very simple reproduction of even the individual sounds. (There is even no need to go into the complexity of music). A single note has a pitch, or a centered frequency of maximum amplitude. However, the signal hit the pitch only instantaneously and a single note it s juts clams up to the pitch and then descends down. The pitch is always the same and even the “roundness of the pitch” (or a duration of long a single note stays at its amplitude summit) is always the same (for the same duration of the note). What is different would be the profile of the parabolas with which sound rolls to its pitch and roles out form the pitch’s summit.

I have no numbers. My RTA can work in a distortion analyzer mode and Dima bugs me to measure the Melq’s distortion pattern. I really have no motivations or needs to do it. There is something that I recognize as “THE correct acoustic distortion” and this is how I tune my playback. Let to visualize the distortions as the reflections. The 2nd distortions would be the initial reflection of acoustically produced sound, the 3rd would be the third and so on… In the real world we never register the direct sound, but always deal with reflections. The reverberation radius (the distance where we hear 50% of direct sound and 50% or reflected sound) is very small and if I remember correctly then for the large places like Carnegie or MET it is within a half dozen feet. The point is that our perception is always trained to perceive reflected sound and the dominating amount of information about the notes, tones and their expansiveness lives not in the instant hitting of the pitches but in the note’s harmonic.

Now, let pretend that you in the Carnegie Hall, filed with people (necessary for a proper reverberation patter), you have a single violinist is taking tones on stage and you are in a chair with a remote control and you might move your chair: from a few inches from that violinist to the end of the Hall. Moving back and force you moderate amount of distortions (primary and secondary reflections) and eventually you can find a place what you feel that the sharpness and evenness of that violin’s notes would be correct. Interesting that the “correct distance” for that violin will very-very little fluctuate with the volume of the notes and our hearing in natural acoustic space can accommodate our hearing attention (more about it later). However, the microphones can not do the intentional accommodation and they register everything alike and unconsciousness. In order to fight with it we need to inject into the recorded-reproduced process the “acoustic space-like behaving” superstructure that would overwrite the microphone’s vision and mimic for our awareness the acoustic environment – the space where out awareness is accustomed to operate and where all roles of phono-harmonies were born. The way to do it is to position between the absoluty correct signals that we get from he sources (let pretend that it is absoluty correct signal) and us, the listeners, a proxy layer. What this semi-transparent layer should do? I do not know but after this layer will be trespassed by Sound the Sound should have similar to the original acoustic structure patterns of the primary and secondary reflections. So, here is where the mechanism the phase randomanization kicks in, where is the none-linearity according to the “objective measurements” become “beneficial” and many other thing take place. Here is where my rules of “The Beach Effect” operate and here the humanity-like outcome of the electronic-barbaric methods becomes the key.

We should never forget that the “The Beach Effect” (or let it call it the “language of electronic transformations”) has also own negative consequences that always poison the core of purpose - Sound. For instance in that single violin on the Carnegie Hall example we never have any serious fluctuation of the “best harmonic distance” depends the volume of the notes but with a playback it is the Bitch and each mV of input signal on the input grid would require own behavioral patters of the above-mentioned “proxy layer”, or own algorithm of “The Beach Effect”. It is very-very complicated and as far as I know there is no one in audio who ever conquered this subject with a minor exception (minor because it was most likely accidental and because it was never made at the demanded level) of Lamm L1 preamp. There are many other “operation complexities” for the “proxy layer” but what it the point?

The point is that the definition of success of that “proxy layer” is not something that needs to be descried mathematically or measured by a distortion analyzer. Sound after passing the “proxy layer” should have acoustic-like signature. This acoustic-like signature is very much no subjective parameter and any person who has civilized and not corrupted reference points in music ends up with absolutely identical reference results.  Let pretend that a group of 1000 people have an imaginary ultimate 1000000-bands equalizer, the one that do nothing negative to sound besides juts EQ the amplitude. We take music, EQ if up and down randomly and then let those people to de-EQ it back. Anyone among with those 1000 people who are familiar with the way how life music impacts them will painlessly adjust that EQ and will end up with very much identically final outcome, means their Sounds will be fundamentally the same. Others will set up their own sounds to reflect their or cultural and musical corruptions - they will be somebody whom I call the Morons ™ and I always question what they do in audio.

So, the point is that no mater what an amplifiers or phono-corrector do they should output that very same “identically strategic final outcome” (an entire systems?) This is how I try to assess the distortion patterns - juts by listening and interpret my reaction to the heard Sound. It is import to note that I do not pay a lot of attention to “how it sounds” but rather “how Sound affect my own inner-me”, looking in myself as a reflection of the sound instead to the sound as a reflection of my imaginary model.

 hagtech wrote:
Anyway, the trend here is the same as for the phonostage (corrector, whatever).  The EAR834 input tube has similar distortion characteristic at its bias point. 

In the end a few words about the EAR-834PT. I do not use it raw but with Expressive Technologies transformer. The Expressive does with EAR-834PT very interesting thing; although I did not detect that it did such an interesting things with any other correctors that I used, at least not to the same degree with other correctors…

It is hard to explain what it is because it is unprecedented and would sound like a BS for anyone who did not experience it. Let for instance take any good transformer and place it in front EAR-834PT. It will do 20dB -30dB gain and if a transformer is really good then it will not loose any notable quality of the Sounds. I did it with a dozen transformers and let take the S&B/Bent step-up for a reference. It does not do anything wrong and produce perfectly OK Sound but when fan begins when the Expressive substitutes the S&B/Bent (or any other magnetic that I tried) The Expressive hugely INCREASES dynamic range of the Expressive-EAR-834PT tandem (or at least make it to appear this way). Also, it widen the extreme frequencies quiet dramatically but at the same time it combines all the sounds across the entire frequency range in some kind of very uniformed, very unswerving and very connected substances. It is very difficult to describe and it should be heard.

So, I do not know if my admiration of the Expressive-EAR-834PT tandem derives from to Expressive’s or from 834PT. I remember that when I use the raw 834PT with MM cartridges I still had not problems with 834PT sound, but what one can say in context of the MM 5mV Grado?. When I drive my 3mM SPU into the 834PT direct it has enough gain but I do not like sound and I use my SPU with the 65dB Expressive-EAR-834PT tandem.

Romy the Cat

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