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Amir's 2023 Pacific Audio Fest Report Day 2

I've got a basic Breitling my dad gave me. I wasn't looking for such a thing but now that I have it I really appreciate it. It keeps time and I don't have to worry about it. It won't break, the crystal won't scratch, there's no battery to go bad over time, it won't get hacked or bricked after an update, the charging port won't get fowled up, no chance of water damage, doesn't need an internet connection, winds itself. I only have to adjust it every now and then.
yes that what i thought as well, but you do need to wear it almost every other day, that made me go back to good ol' quartz, from 1998, watch is 25 years old but still works & i appreciate i can leave it almost anywhere

but preference: to each it's own
 
I guess in the context of this exhibition, where all you see are fridge-sized amps and DACs or record players, this must be a radical approach ;)
Fridge-sized ... Hey why when there is so much audio bullshit and electricity wasting in voodoo high end audio, why isn't there a DAC or amp that gets cooled down to almost 0°K for REAL maximum conductivity and erasure of thermal noise? ... bloody hifi hypecrites out there
 
yes that what i thought as well, but you do need to wear it almost every other day, that made me go back to good ol' quartz, from 1998, watch is 25 years old but still works & i appreciate i can leave it almost anywhere

but preference: to each it's own
There's definitely a place for quartz! I do wear the watch every day, pretty much 24/7. But for people with different watches who like to switch out and enjoy some variety, like my dad did, you end up needing one of those watch wiggling boxes to keep your automatics wound. I actually have one of those contraptions that he left behind. My mother thought it absurd. It is kind of funny.
 
Fridge-sized ... Hey why when there is so much audio bullshit and electricity wasting in voodoo high end audio, why isn't there a DAC or amp that gets cooled down to almost 0°K for REAL maximum conductivity and erasure of thermal noise? ... bloody hifi hypecrites out there
Superconducting cables with liquid nitrogen jackets would be really high tech and inconvenient. I've been thinking about designing speaker boxes that have to be kept filled with pure hydrogen, and heated to 100 degrees hotter than outside ambient temperature. It should reduce the sound level inside the box and produce a purer tone. So we'll be simultaneously cooling the voice coils with liquid nitrogen and heating the box volume. Should use up lots of energy, be complex and potentially dangerous to operate, and expensive! It might sound good too. If it requires state and federal licensing to operate that will add to the pride of ownership.
 
Actually, there was a pair for sale over on Audiomart. It sold fairly quickly.
 
Hey Amir, thanks for the review and all your hard work generally. I really feel your contribution to our hobby is not fully appreciated.

This maybe a very silly (subjective) question to someone who values measurements above all else but that's how I/we learn.

Do you (and other members) feel a lay person who purchased a system with a SINAD of say 100+, which has been tuned using DSP so it exhibits a flat response from say 25hz to 20,000 Hz will be able to hear the difference with the best systems you have just reviewed.

Say a system that is played at 90db fed from a well mastered source through a bit perfect streamer into a flex8 or computer with Dirac live into a balanced Topping DAC and then one of the latest Hypex amps putting out say 200W into 8 ohms.

Also assume speakers similar to high quality Revel stand mounts integrated with 2 quality subs using REW in a room of say 5m x 6m.

Let's assume it's a double blind test with matched levels etc, ie all things being equal.

I think you could assemble such a system for $4-5k.

If the answer is yes then where would the differences lie?
 
Hey Amir, thanks for the review and all your hard work generally. I really feel your contribution to our hobby is not fully appreciated.

This maybe a very silly (subjective) question to someone who values measurements above all else but that's how I/we learn.

Do you (and other members) feel a lay person who purchased a system with a SINAD of say 100+, which has been tuned using DSP so it exhibits a flat response from say 25hz to 20,000 Hz will be able to hear the difference with the best systems you have just reviewed.

Say a system that is played at 90db fed from a well mastered source through a bit perfect streamer into a flex8 or computer with Dirac live into a balanced Topping DAC and then one of the latest Hypex amps putting out say 200W into 8 ohms.

Also assume speakers similar to high quality Revel stand mounts integrated with 2 quality subs using REW in a room of say 5m x 6m.

Let's assume it's a double blind test with matched levels etc, ie all things being equal.

I think you could assemble such a system for $4-5k.

If the answer is yes then where would the differences lie?
You seem to be asking the question "Would we be able to tell the difference between an optimally designed system that has been based on measurements vs the variety of speaker systems that Amir listened to during the show?". I think the answer to that is "Yes", because the systems that Amir listened to didn't really blow him away apart from the D&D. For a start a lot of those systems at the show weren't setup optimally, and didn't use roomEQ, etc, and secondly a lot of those systems probably wouldn't measure that optimally if Amir measured them using his Klippel - that's my thought anyway.
 
So If I am at an audio show, and I walk into a room with these speakers, right after hearing the Dutch&Dutch room right next door, both playing classical music I don't know, my clear perception of 3-5khz being 15db sucked out, and horrific laser-like dispersion, are totally invalid because I saw the speakers, and don't happen to know the particular piece, orchestra, and specific recording, or possibly re-master that they are playing?

I think I'm making a point that's both more subtle and more obvious than you've grasped.

The issue I'm flagging is double unfamiliarity - you don't know what the speakers are supposed to do and you don't know how the program is mixed. So yes you can judge the whole as a whole, but you can't determine the root causes of what you're hearing. In your example, you don't know the source of that hypothetical suckout. It could be the speakers, it could be the program, it could be setup error. So to say based on that "the speakers sucked" you could be wrong - the track could have sucked, or both could've sucked in a way that combined especially poorly. If you hear the same coloration across several different tracks that's more like evidence, but from a single track...no.

You raise a fair point about evaluating a speaker's dispersion pattern and evenness. That is indeed an example of a sonic attribute one can reasonably infer from a show audition, because any changes in the program's spectral balance are uncorrelated with your movements around the room.

Trying to memorize the tonality, stereo characteristics, and other quirks/etc of hundreds of songs you'd request to judge audio, is significantly more unreliable than using the magic of simple comparison/elimination.

I don't think you've framed that correctly. One need not "memorize" something to identify variance. It's like if somebody washes and dries your raw denim jeans that you had been "breaking in" without your knowledge - you don't have to know exactly where every scrape and fade was to notice they look and fit differently after the mishandling. Likewise, if you've listened to a given track quite a few times in a number of environments, you don't have to "memorize" it to sense when it's coming back at you somewhat differently than expected, or especially nicely.

If that wasn't enough, I'll give you this tidbit of info, I work in live sound. I need to tune and mix on PA systems I have never worked with before, with artists I have never heard of before. Are you suggesting that if mid-set, a change in the performance reveals a minor issue with the subwoofer to line array integration, or the guitarist changes a pedal setting that creates a screechy unpleasant resonance, according to your logic (judging subjective acoustic effects is only valid blind, and with songs you know well), therefore I should radio to the stage manager and have them stop/pause the show, so that I can put my blindfold on, and play songs that I know well, and fix the issues?

Production is different from reproduction. In your example, there's no recorded program. You care about making the whole live performance sound as pleasing as you can within the constraints of the equipment and adjustments you have. The equivalent would be trying to evaluate the sound quality of the stage monitors based on the playing of musicians you've never heard playing compositions you don't know.

And before you say "Oh well actively engineering isn't the same as listening/judging speaker fidelity", a -15db 4500hz Q=4ish dip like in the above linked Zus, sounds the same to the listener if it is a filter in my mixing console, or a fault or the speaker...

Your last sentence is exactly my point. A listener cannot know if a perceived issue is inherent to the program or a reproduction flaw in the loudspeaker if both are unfamiliar. So you can't judge either one in isolation. You can only make a statement about the gestalt.

I 100% agree with you for A/B/X comparisons,

I'm curious what exactly you think you're agreeing with, because I didn't write a word in this thread about "A/B/X comparisons."

If judging how something sounds (speaker, mix, room, etc) is only possible blind with material you are familiar with,

One can certainly form an opinion of how the whole thing sounds to her. But if the speakers, room, and mix are all unfamiliar, then, with exceptions of sonic traits that vary substantially by listener location (e.g. speaker dispersion, room imprint on bass) or are clear cases of overload (woofer former smacking against the backplate, amp clipping, etc.) then one cannot disaggregate the impact of component parts (within reason - somebody's going to bring up ground loops or something like that to score internet points...whatever) on that whole.
 
woofer former smacking against the backplate

Ouch, that hurts. To me, that is the equivalent of fingernails down a chalkboard or the clattering of a broken connecting rod in a wrecked engine.
 
Anecdotal obviously, but other than flowery prose in a "review" found in an advertiser-supported publication... I almost never see a review of 6-figure speakers that isn't somewhat negative. I have to wonder how many people that can and do purchase $250K+ audio setups actually listen to music on them and if they ever considered anything else or just told the dealer - give me "the best" for my budget and essentially let the commission determine what they get.

I guess it's the Maybach effect... you mostly purchase such things to prove you can... but your direct engagement with the product is cursory at best.

I also enjoyed how a few rooms had as much or more in cables as anything else... you definitely don't have to guess where the best margins are found! :rolleyes:
 
Fridge-sized ... Hey why when there is so much audio bullshit and electricity wasting in voodoo high end audio, why isn't there a DAC or amp that gets cooled down to almost 0°K for REAL maximum conductivity and erasure of thermal noise? ... bloody hifi hypecrites out there

This is a secret prototype by luxury appliance brand Sub Zero for their upcoming "Audiophool Kitchen" series of audio appliances. This model starts at $150K... power cord not included but available for MUCH extra $$$.


OIG.yrt96tUJCBnAtn6Tu2dc
 
Now you know everything ;)
Switch is more important then everything else you ignorant!

ps. an active lan cables. WUT?!
So the lowest voltages found in any system. traveling in some of the best shielded and noise rejecting cable topologies between two grounded devices - creates the most audible noise... huh. I'd love to see the "science" behind that. You would think multi-billion dollar datacenters would employ such devices - not just gullible affluent audiophiles! :facepalm:

To be fair, the switch itself might create noise - but that doesn't need to be sitting on top of your audio gear... they make phone closets/mechanical rooms for a reason.
 
So yes you can judge the whole as a whole, but you can't determine the root causes of what you're hearing. In your example, you don't know the source of that hypothetical suckout. It could be the speakers, it could be the program, it could be setup error.
As someone who works in this field, I can tell you, that you should be able to infer a pretty darn solid understanding of whether it’s a quirk in the music production vs the system asa whole after 2-3 songs.

In the majority of Amir’s coverage of the show he listened to more than one track per room, and thus should be able to understand a tonality trend across multiple individual songs.

I’m not asking Amir to critique setup error or room, Im asking for an opinion on the entire exhibition, with the music played out of the equation.

I don't think you've framed that correctly. One need not "memorize" something to identify variance. It's like if somebody washes and dries your raw denim jeans that you had been "breaking in" without your knowledge - you don't have to know exactly where every scrape and fade was to notice they look and fit differently after the mishandling. Likewise, if you've listened to a given track quite a few times in a number of environments, you don't have to "memorize" it to sense when it's coming back at you somewhat differently than expected, or especially nicely

This is a huge contradiction from your original point. You are suggesting that comparison of systems can be judged by a subconscious metric of if is “right or wrong” based on arbitrary subjective “feelings” based off of prior experiences listening to the track, without being able to translate them into real terms which would be a judgement that is far more of a reach than my suggested approach (listening to multiple foreign songs and finding common denominators)

Your last sentence is exactly my point. A listener cannot know if a perceived issue is inherent to the program or a reproduction flaw in the loudspeaker if both are unfamiliar. So you can't judge either one in isolation. You can only make a statement about the gestalt.

True in subtle differences. But when you are at an audio show and are auditioning a well designed speaker after a horrifically “broken” one, as many of the systems are at these shows, it is pretty obvious to identify tonality issues.

When the differences are more subtle any person with a competent ear should be able to draw a judgement (in a vacuum, not comparative) on speaker tonality after 2-3 songs by different artists/engineers.

Production is different from reproduction. In your example, there's no recorded program. You care about making the whole live performance sound as pleasing as you can within the constraints of the equipment and adjustments you have. The equivalent would be trying to evaluate the sound quality of the stage monitors based on the playing of musicians you've never heard playing compositions you don't know.
I think you misunderstood my point, which was that people can judge correct tonality without familiar reference material. The second you add more data points (different songs) to your listening, you can find common traits. And if you have a good ear, the more songs you listen to, the more accurate your judgement on a system is.

The differences in song production and engineering are smaller than you think, even more so at audio shows. Exhibitors are not playing songs with ridiculously broken tonality. 5 seconds in a room with those ZUs I could tell you something was very wrong, and the minute the next track came on and exhibited the same issue I would be able to tell you exactly where and how drastic they are wrong. That might just be me, but it’s not fair to write off being able to say if exhibits sound right or wrong as flawed ideology just because you might not be able to hear or make these judgements.

'm curious what exactly you think you're agreeing with, because I didn't write a word in this thread about "A/B/X comparisons."

I’m aware you didn’t mention it. The reason I said that is mostly due to your point on sighted listening. A/B/X should be done blind of course.

One can certainly form an opinion of how the whole thing sounds to her.
Yes this is my point. I was not asking Amir to write down what the amps or room effects or individual complements sound like.

But more of a “this exhibition booth/room sounded great, tonality was neutral over the few tracks that were played and the imaging and dispersion seemed nice, except for one song (outlier) which had a diffuse center image and anemic bass, but the other 2-3 songs I listened to were fantastic so I was able to logically infer that my bad experience was due to a fluke poor recording”

I’m not trying to argue here. I just think my above example “quote” is a valid thought process.
 
You seem to be asking the question "Would we be able to tell the difference between an optimally designed system that has been based on measurements vs the variety of speaker systems that Amir listened to during the show?". I think the answer to that is "Yes", because the systems that Amir listened to didn't really blow him away apart from the D&D. For a start a lot of those systems at the show weren't setup optimally, and didn't use roomEQ, etc, and secondly a lot of those systems probably wouldn't measure that optimally if Amir measured them using his Klippel - that's my thought anyway.
Thanks Robbo for your reply.

I guess what I'm really asking is would a $4k-$5k system comprised of well measuring components combined with room equalising DSP equal or even better these systems costing 10 times that.

I'm asking from a sound performance perspective.
 
Thanks Robbo for your reply.

I guess what I'm really asking is would a $4k-$5k system comprised of well measuring components combined with room equalising DSP equal or even better these systems costing 10 times that.

I'm asking from a sound performance perspective.
You could have more accurate sound at lower volumes than them. But is hard to beat statement speakers on power and large image they can project. This why many buy them.
 
Thanks Robbo for your reply.

I guess what I'm really asking is would a $4k-$5k system comprised of well measuring components combined with room equalising DSP equal or even better these systems costing 10 times that.

I'm asking from a sound performance perspective.
Yes, I think your hypothetical $4k-$5k system comprised of well measuring components combined with room equalising DSP would better most of the systems on display at the show (is my impression). I guess Amir has a point re "Power" in his previous post though, but I find even my pair of JBL 308p Mkii speakers to have a very large image indeed - the speakers just disappear and you're hit with a wall of sound that is completely free of any kind of impression that the music is coming from the point source of the speakers (if you listen at ideal equilateral triangle) - I can't really imagine a bigger image.
 
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The issue I'm flagging is double unfamiliarity - you don't know what the speakers are supposed to do and you don't know how the program is mixed.
FYI you can take your own music to these shows and some people do. I get a kick out of them when they bring a suitcase of LPs! :)

I did try to take a thumb drive to one of the shows. It was challenging to get it used though. You would have to stop the flow of their demos, get them to open and load the files and then play. The companies that knew me did it willingly which was nice. But others would give me excuses like it is not safe, they don't have a way to play them, etc. But it is possible if you want to rule out the selection of content by presenters.

I have given up on true objective review of what is played. I go there to enjoy some nice sounding music and to interact with companies and fellow audiophiles. I suppose if you were going to buy a $250K speaker and this was your only chance to hear them in person, then bringing your own music would be quite sensible.
 
FYI you can take your own music to these shows and some people do. I get a kick out of them when they bring a suitcase of LPs! :)

I did try to take a thumb drive to one of the shows. It was challenging to get it used though. You would have to stop the flow of their demos, get them to open and load the files and then play. The companies that knew me did it willingly which was nice. But others would give me excuses like it is not safe, they don't have a way to play them, etc. But it is possible if you want to rule out the selection of content by presenters.

I have given up on true objective review of what is played. I go there to enjoy some nice sounding music and to interact with companies and fellow audiophiles. I suppose if you were going to buy a $250K speaker and this was your only chance to hear them in person, then bringing your own music would be quite sensible.

Yeah, sensible to bring your own music, but spending $250k :oops:?

Goes to the heart of the issue I raised, would a lay person who is an avid music lover hear any effective (real) difference between these speakers and a SOTA system. I get your comment on power and imaging but surely multiple subs (maybe 4 centred on each wall measured and equalised using REW in accordance with Dr Toole's criteria) would go along way to achieving the same outcome.

Anyway its obviously academic as those who would spend that sort of money have a different perspective on what constitutes good value than the majority of the members here, and I get that much is learnt going to excess and that there is a trickle down effect much like the development of formula 1 cars.
 
Awesome stuff. I still love a good audio show. Majority of musical gear at these shows I would never buy or could afford but it's still cool to look at some of the wilder stuff and hear some good music in certain rooms. The pictures from this show came out very nice. Thanks for sharing a lot of these music tracks I've never heard. I'll probably check them all out at some point. Great job!!
 
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