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Robin L

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I wonder how good they ever got one of those to sound. In other words, before they went out of style, what did the pinnacle of gramophone technology sound like?

I've never heard one.
Eerily present. More so than any other form of sound reproduction I have heard so far.
 

MattHooper

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Eerily present. More so than any other form of sound reproduction I have heard so far.

Now that you mention that, I'm not too surprised.

It reminds me of my experience listening to these wacky speakers at the last Toronto audio show:

https://aer-loudspeakers.com/aer-excenter-2/

Basically lowther-type drivers with big plastic lenses focusing the sound "gramaphone-like" toward the listener.

From a close listening distance they produced the most eerily present and real sounding classical guitar I've ever heard in reproduced sound.
 

JJB70

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Something to keep in mind is that better is not a synonym for nicer. When it comes to what people find to be nice it is a personal subjective thing and it is very common for it to go in a different direction from what might be considered objectively better.
 

richard12511

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Really only engineers strive for a horizontally flat response, domestic listeners prefer a slightly downward tilted response , is more bass slightly less treble.
Keith

I would say that only engineers that don't understand that flat anechoic doesn't not mean measured flat strive for a flat response. Good engineers will know that our brain actively compensates for these directive differences, and thus it expects a downward tilted response in order to sound neutral. A good speaker should only measure neutral anechoic at 1m.
 

richard12511

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The problem with the purist it has to be neutral approach is that it ignores one very important factor - we are all different. Your neutral is my shrill (it was in my case for many years), my dynamic is your brash - balancing this out with equipment that is not neutral is just as valid an approach as using DSP in a neutral system. The colour settings on a TV example - defective colour vison in men is very common, why should someone watch a TV with a colour balance that looks wrong to them simply because it is correct?

Depends what you mean by "neutral". If you - without an NFS - are measuring a neutral response, then your speaker is almost certainly too bright, or shrill. This is why anechoic measurements are so critical.
 

richard12511

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I've followed the debates on tube amps for many years and not being an electrical engineer I'm not qualified to determine the answer.
But from what I've seen the answer to why tube amplification can be preferred by some is far from easy or established. First there's the problem of whether in any particular case, someone is actually able to hear a difference, that is if the distortion is audible, or if he is imagining it.
Then if it's granted that audible distortion is occurring, it's still vexing. The usual folk lore is that tube amplifiers distort in a pleasant way, both in clipping behavior and in the harmonics added in the distortion "primarily pleasant sounding 2nd order harmonics that can slightly thicken and brighten the sound." The problem there is that this may indeed explain *some* tube amplifier distortions, e.g. some single ended triode designs that people use to run high efficiency speakers. However plenty of tube amps, e.g. push-pull designs, seem to produce some odd order distortions just as solid state is *purported* to produce as well (though very low level). So it starts to become a head-scratcher - at least to laymen like me trying to follow the debates - as to what exactly if anything is causing the "pleasant" distortions when they occur. Some lay the blame on the tube amp output transformers. I dunno.

I think we all greatly underestimate just how much our own brain determines the sound we "hear". Without that, I agree that the tube sound can be a real head-scratcher. With that, it doesn't surprise me at all, as what we "hear" has more to do with our brain state than it does with the sound entering our ears. Something like 60/40. Even if the soundwaves entering our ears are exactly the same, that's only 40% of the equation, the rest is down to our brain state(biases and past experiences).

Looking at the objective data. Tube amps can definitely distort loud enough to be audible, but those distortions will still be minor. Those distortions will be less audible than the difference between two samples of the exact same speaker.
 

MakeMineVinyl

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I wonder how good they ever got one of those to sound. In other words, before they went out of style, what did the pinnacle of gramophone technology sound like?

I've never heard one.
I have one similar to that and I've got to say there is a unique quality to the sound. Of course it's the lowest of low fidelity by traditional measurements but it does have that strange quality of realism.
 

ThoFi

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Beside accuracy of the speaker FR (?) what are the most important design issues to get a realistic sound reproduction?
Off-axis performance, a coax-driver point source ….??
How would a perfect speaker look like?
 

atsmusic

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Beside accuracy of the speaker FR (?) what are the most important design issues to get a realistic sound reproduction?
Off-axis performance, a coax-driver point source ….??
How would a perfect speaker look like?

it seems like a lot of the more expensive speakers put a lot into making the cabinet as sturdy as possible, like really low resonances. I wonder how much this matters?
 

Doodski

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it seems like a lot of the more expensive speakers put a lot into making the cabinet as sturdy as possible, like really low resonances. I wonder how much this matters?
It matters a lot. To have a buzz in a cabinet at a resonant frequency would be a disgrace. There is no repairing the cabinet because it's more than furniture grade in many instances and the buzz won't go away. When in warranty it usually takes a bit of time to get authorization to replace and then get the replacement in-house for the customer. I've replaced a couple of cabinets that where buzzing but in most cases they advised to replace the entire speaker. As per intentionally resonating and using that to add to the sound it's pretty rare that a manufacturer designs that into a thin walled speaker but it apparently happened with some British speaker model which I can't remember the name of. Perhaps it was from Harbeth or designed and licensed for manufacture by the BBC. Maybe somebody can chime in on that speaker.
 
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DanielT

DanielT

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It matters a lot. To have a buzz in a cabinet at a resonant frequency would be a disgrace. There is no repairing the cabinet because it's more than furniture grade in many instances and the buzz won't go away. When in warranty it usually takes a bit of time to get authorization to replace and then get the replacement in-house for the customer. I've replaced a couple of cabinets that where buzzing but in most cases they advised to replace the entire speaker. As per intentionally resonating and using that to add to the sound it's pretty rare that a manufacturer designs that into a thin walled speaker but it apparently happened with some British speaker model which I can't remember the name of. Perhaps it was from Harbeth or designed and licensed for manufacture by the BBC. Maybe somebody can chime in on that speaker.
To build a pair of full range DIY speakers I do not fix it but a subwoffer with woffer with hell's ability to pump air, high x-max, sensible level of distortion, which can dig deep in a sensible linear way. EQ as usual of course together with subwoffer. I can fix that, DIY. If I can do it, most other happy amateurs with limited knowledge can do it. I think.

What I would come to. In connection with this, you yourself have full control over creating such a resonance-free box as can only be done.

When I think about finding a woffer with the specifications I mentioned, it will not be cheap ..so to say ..:p:oops:
 

Soundmixer

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I have worked in the studio and as a sound engineer all my life

My studio monitors are straight, flat and piss off dull but damn accurate!
At home I want to cuddle with a little voodoo-flum and cuddly sound "

I agree with all of this, except I like my voodoo-flum in a different place than he does. My studio has acoustics that lean towards the dry side. At home, my Hometheater's acoustics lean towards the more natural neutral side with more diffusion and reflections. I still want my speakers to be on the "accurate" side.
 
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Mart68

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I wonder how good they ever got one of those to sound. In other words, before they went out of style, what did the pinnacle of gramophone technology sound like?

I've never heard one.

I had a friend who collected them and the 78s to play on them. They're awful in every possible way. I know some say 'Oh the presence!' but I didn't hear it. Replacement styli are cheap though.
 

MattHooper

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I think we all greatly underestimate just how much our own brain determines the sound we "hear". Without that, I agree that the tube sound can be a real head-scratcher. With that, it doesn't surprise me at all, as what we "hear" has more to do with our brain state than it does with the sound entering our ears. Something like 60/40. Even if the soundwaves entering our ears are exactly the same, that's only 40% of the equation, the rest is down to our brain state(biases and past experiences).

Looking at the objective data. Tube amps can definitely distort loud enough to be audible, but those distortions will still be minor. Those distortions will be less audible than the difference between two samples of the exact same speaker.

Agreed with all of that.

A slight sidebar on this:

Ironically I'm currently experiencing some fascinating *apparent* sonic fun with my tube amps. I'd recently tried some "tube rolling" on my preamp and amplifiers and the apparent sonic differences depending on the tube is fascinating. My CJ amps are still working ok but are really old and I thought at some point I'll send them to CJ for a look over, see if any parts are getting out of spec etc. Admittedly I was intrigued by many CJ owners having their amp capacitors upgraded, but it's one of those "I'd like to try it, if it actually improves the sound but too skeptical to risk paying for it." It turned out I was able to nab an amazing deal on the same amplifiers, but with the capacitor "upgrade" (Teflon) so that I can compare it to my own and sell whichever I want. In effect it works out to a "free" chance to see if the upgrade is worth anything.

The upgraded amps also came with different tubes - KT120s vs the 6550s in my originals.

I gotta say it's been headscratching: with the newer amps it sounded like someone had replaced my speakers with bigger speakers. Everything from the sound staging, image size and bass sounded "bigger and deeper." Pretty wild. But I've been going through the variables, switching tubes between the amps etc, and the tubes seem to make the most difference. But even when I've switched all the tubes from my original to the new amps, there still seems to be a slight sonic difference (newer one sounds "cleaner, more pure, less grain.")

I'm pretty busy with work, but I've thought about actually doing a recording of the system with each amp (and maybe even borrowing my friend's Bryston to throw in), to see if what I think I'm hearing translates in to audible differences between the recordings.
 

krabapple

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What you’re saying can be boiled down to ”Amir’s charts say this therefore you MUST like it otherwise you’re a troglodyte” (you put it more politely).

What I did was point out questionable bases of some of your 'firm beliefs', some of which are widely shared in among audiophiles.

No more or less.
 

krabapple

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It isn't a strawman argument, chill out, it was an opinion, which I am perfectly entitled to hold and express. You can also hold your pity where I'm concerned but thank you anyway. I think In Through The Out Doors is brilliant, as are several other Zeppelin albums.


I find it smacks of elitism when people imply the only correct way to enjoy the music is with as neutral a playback chain as possible.


"People didn't actually say this arrogant thing, but it's what they meant'
 

A Surfer

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I find it smacks of elitism when people imply the only correct way to enjoy the music is with as neutral a playback chain as possible.


"People didn't actually say this arrogant thing, but it's what they meant'
Exactly, they veil the judgement in what seems like neutral, accepting language, but the message remains clear: "I wouldn't do that, but if you want to, well ...."
 

Galliardist

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I find it smacks of elitism when people imply the only correct way to enjoy the music is with as neutral a playback chain as possible.


"People didn't actually say this arrogant thing, but it's what they meant'
The idea of enjoying the music is an interesting one. Yesterday, I was listening to and enjoying a collection of 1960s songs... through the wall, the source being a neighbour's smart speaker. The sound in our place was not much above a whisper, either.
If you don't find yourself enjoying music in your local supermarket (well, not all of it necessarily!), on AM radio, etc. I'd be surprised. Similarly, it comes as a slight surprise to me that people are (paraphrasing) enjoying music, except when it is being played on an "accurate" system.
I presume that the underlying reason why each of us individually discover audiophilia/high fidelity has something of a role in this. and if a hifi system is presented to us, we judge in a different way to hearing music in a different context. That's subjectivism in a nutshell - we set a high standard for our systwms ,but not necessarily the same high standard.

Elitism? It's not elitism to presume that any particular user will prefer a more "accurate" (as defined by the research) system. That's a matter of research and statistics. It may well be elitism to turn that idea into a dogma.

Elitism, at the end of the day, is when I assume that my subjective response is better than your subjective response. And that applies if my subjective response agrees with some piece of objective research, just as much as if we rely on the subjectivist paradigm that "I heard a difference with change X, so you should as well">
 

Newman

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Perhaps the reason that the generic recommendation, for a smooth, flat and extended direct sound FR (and a tonally consistent reflected sound signature), is attracting criticism, is on the basis of "who are you to tell me what I prefer: we are all individuals with specific tastes etc." Sounds familiar?

This criticism overlooks the fundamental reason for the generic prescription: that we are hearing real sound sources, such as voices and instruments, every day, and apparently, when tested, we pretty much universally prefer it when reproduced music sounds like that.

To claim you prefer it any other way is a bit like saying you don't like the sound of reality and wish it sounded different. Our brains, it seems, are hard-wired not to think like that: instead, we think the sound of reality is comfortable, and digressions induce discomfort. It's logical really.

The main exception would be the Uncanny Valley Effect which, IIRC, can be induced with reproduced audio, but requires massive banks of speakers in a 3D field and matching processing. We don't approach that situation with current audio technology.

To reiterate: I suspect that the name-calling ("elitist!" etc.) comes from the feeling that one's individuality is being denied. But individuality exists side by side with human commonality, and this just happens to be something that lies in the commonality realm, like not being able to hear 100 kHz or see X-rays. Our individuality is applicable to other aspects, like what music we individually prefer.

cheers
 

Inner Space

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Perhaps the reason that the generic recommendation, for a smooth, flat and extended direct sound FR (and a tonally consistent reflected sound signature), is attracting criticism, is on the basis of "who are you to tell me what I prefer: we are all individuals with specific tastes etc." Sounds familiar?

I agree the second half of what you say there is the same old weak, exasperating crap we're fed up of. It means nothing and goes nowhere. My uneasiness with the generic recommendation is that it's a fantasy. No loudspeaker has ever produced a flat FR. Not in all of history. Reliable measurements show the very best examples swaying up and down in a 3dB window. Imagine an ascending figure played on a piano, or a violin, or a guitar. The sound power in the room is doubling, halving, doubling, halving all the way up. That's atrocious. Musically, that's shameful. And that's the best. Most are somewhat worse.

And yet ... whatever units measure joy, passion, euphoria and so on, trillions and trillions have been generated over the last century by hopelessly inept equipment. We should accept that the brain does a remarkable job of interpreting input, and that therefore FR might not matter all that much. Rather than aim at a target that has never and will never exist, why don't we spend time figuring out how much FR deviation we actually care about, like we did with noise and distortion and so on. It could be the chase for less and less horrible FRs is the same as the chase for ever-higher SINADs. It might not matter. In fact a century of observation says it doesn't.
 
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