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Message to golden-eared audiophiles posting at ASR for the first time...

Blumlein 88

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It might horrify some to find out that, these days, the mix for film and tv is often monitored by clients and creative personal...from their own home, via video conference. So..whatever headphones or speakers (usually headphones) the client has chosen to wear.

And yes this can cause problems. Sometimes they want us to change something..."I need to hear more X"...just because they have their volume turned down too low!

(For the vast majority of film work in my career, it was not like this; we were all in the mixing theater together, for the most part).
Reminds me of an article on one of the hot music producers who was also a mastering guy in the go-go times of the 1980's. He spent all his time coked up and with girls. He had a team get things close and then they'd play it to him on the cordless phone he had at home. He would make some suggestions, the team would implement them and it was done. He made a lot of big hits, and a backlog of clients. I guess he eliminated the influence of cabling that audiophiles hear by going wireless.
 

Chrispy

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The final mix is a compromise between the playback devices that are expected to be used. The mastering engineer listen to the mix on his car system, and perhaps plays it on airpods when he gets home. There is no ideal mix, and popular music isn't mixed for the audiophile. They don't mix for what they consider the best sound in their studio.

Wouldn't that be more a mastering function than mixing?
 

MattHooper

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Reminds me of an article on one of the hot music producers who was also a mastering guy in the go-go times of the 1980's. He spent all his time coked up and with girls. He had a team get things close and then they'd play it to him on the cordless phone he had at home. He would make some suggestions, the team would implement them and it was done. He made a lot of big hits, and a backlog of clients. I guess he eliminated the influence of cabling that audiophiles hear by going wireless.

Oh man, I can believe it. Plenty of stories in our industry.

We were working on a sword 'n sorcery fantasy series in the 90's. The producer was in the mixing theater, and old guy of great eminence (had a hand in producing various blockbusters in the hollywood golden era). There was a scene in a market with a goat in the back ground. He kept saying "I want to hear that goat, more goat!" The mixers turned it up and up, until it was almost the star of the scene. Yes, the producer was very old, and very hard of hearing. But "more goat" became one of our rallying cries from then on. :)
 

Keith_W

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I have been to a lot of concerts in my life. Small venues to very large ones that still sound good. The last big, but yet great concert was Prince for me.
Though the sound was very dynamic and I always loved to watch Prince perform my playback system is better than any concert I've ever been too,
including Pavarotti live, twice.

Nothing is perfect in a band live, nor will it ever be on a recording either. BUT it will sure sounds better to a guy like me if the people mixing half way
know what they are doing. What do you do with a person that plays and mixes his own music to ready it for sale? Maestro.

WHO has the stones to argue with a person about his or her intentions when they hand you an LP/CD/ReeltoReel/or cassette. After all they put it on that
medium. There must have been a reason to record it that way and then mix it the way they did or didn't.

Fruit for thought.

I agree. There is no such thing as "reality" when it comes to live sound, particularly if we are talking about sound that has gone through an amplifier and played through speakers in a concert. In that case, "reality" is what the sound engineer created, and that might include all sorts of processing and maybe not even the singer (see Milli Vanilli).

Even if we are talking about real acoustic instruments, what you hear is heavily influenced by the design of the concert hall and where you sit. Concert halls are designed so that everybody can hear the music legibly. If you sit near the front, you will hear more direct sound and less reflected sound. If you sit near the back, reflected sound predominates. The same performance will sound different in different concert halls. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a rehearsal of a piano sonata by the pianist who was a friend of mine, and it sounded VERY different in her practice room and where she eventually played it, which was an open air auditorium. The SPL's in the practice room were simply deafening, and I was offered ear protection when I attended. When I asked her why she was playing so loud, she said that she was going to play in an open air auditorium, so it has to be loud.

Having said that, I do not think we should give up pursuit of accurate soundstaging in our systems because it does create an illusion of reality, even though I just argued that reality does not exist (I believe this is what @MattHooper is arguing for).
 

MattHooper

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Having said that, I do not think we should give up pursuit of accurate soundstaging in our systems because it does create an illusion of reality, even though I just argued that reality does not exist (I believe this is what @MattHooper is arguing for).

To be clear: I'm not arguing that anyone ought to pay attention to anything they don't care about. I've simply given my own justifications (shared by some other audiophiles) as to why I still use live sound as a touchstone for some of the characteristics I want in reproduced sound (for my system). Among those qualities is the sense of instruments/voices occurring in "free space" around the speakers. Relative to every day real sound, much reproduced sound to me has a sort of squeezed, hardened deformed character, including the acoustics captured (or added) sometimes around instruments - like a sort of hard edge around the instrumental images, as well as a sort of hard stopping line to the acoustics. When I pay attention to real instruments in real space, there is a size, a bloom (where the sound seems bigger and expands in to the room) solidity roundness and dimensionality that is usually missing in reproduced sound. Insofar as a system "relaxes" those artificial cues and gets a bit closer to the sound of "instruments in free space"...I find that both more natural and realistic, and more pleasing. To that end, I generally don't care for speakers that require head-in-a-vice listening (e.g. many electrostatics, or narrow dispersion speakers despite what else I may like in the sound), which feels unnatural to me.

And, as I've expressed before: this isn't just to do with trying to have "realistically recorded" tracks sound more real. These are aspects that I find satisfying, and more "real" across a large variety of recordings. Tons of jazz or folk or acoustic/electric pop may have been recorded totally artificially. None-the-less, an acoustic guitar can appear just as much "right there" in the soundstage, and the drums "over right there," as any "more naturally recorded" instrument may appear in a soundstage. And to the degree that guitar, drums or other instruments have presence, body, seems free of the speakers etc, it also sounds "more like the real thing" and it's a pleasing characteristic. A guitar track can be placed within a totally artificial reverb too...but still have the sense of "that's more like a real guitar sitting in that alcove of reverb." And the very aspects that make acoustic objects more believable and pleasing translate to every single type of music. If the system presents an acoustic guitar or drum tom as dense objects in free space, it will confer similar benefits to a synth line or drum machine or anything else. The very features of a system that enhance the realism of acoustic instruments, enhances the quality of most anything I play through that system.

Again, I don't proslytize this for anyone who doesn't have the same interests or goals, but I have found this approach to be very satisfying, myself.
 

CtheArgie

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I don’t know if this goes here, but I am speechless. Even with other stuff said there before, this tops it off.
IMG_0717.jpeg
 

danadam

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We were working on a sword 'n sorcery fantasy series in the 90's. The producer was in the mixing theater, and old guy of great eminence (had a hand in producing various blockbusters in the hollywood golden era). There was a scene in a market with a goat in the back ground. He kept saying "I want to hear that goat, more goat!" The mixers turned it up and up, until it was almost the star of the scene. Yes, the producer was very old, and very hard of hearing. But "more goat" became one of our rallying cries from then on. :)
You sure it was goat and not a cowbell? ;)
 

killdozzer

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Since this thread has no real goal and it's almost impossible to derail it or kidnap it, let me take a pound or two of beef with several arguments here.

I think oxidization and patina on relays and such, is just another steaming pile of... myth. Yes, myth. As one member noticed, the result is not expected to be a quiet channel.

I did get a CRACKLING in my audio-out cable and cleaning it helped. I got an on/off effect on my master volume AND yes CRACKLING again when I move it and cleaning helped. It didn't just get quiet. But it's mostly theoretical. I had equipment that was never cleaned ever and had no problems. Because, you know what, you remember how for the length of, let's say 2-3 meters, you can use 4mm cross-section speaker cable? You know that, right? And you know how you can use 2.5mm and 2mm, and 1.5mm and 0.75mm and there won't be a shred of detectable, audible, measurable change? Yes, there's a lot of patina to form before you need to do anything (which is not to say it can't happen, but cleaning it on regular basis is listening to power cables).


Some unrelated beef; I see some logical fallacies in your understanding of studio recording as a blueprint for what you try to achieve. It doesn't really matter what equipment they were using for creating a recording. When it comes to REcreating!!!!!! (Folks, it's RECREATING) you'll do a better job with neutral equipment. Because through neutral equipment and well-treated, corrected room, you can get as close as possible to whatever equipment they were using. THAT is the whole idea of flat frequency response. It's the idea of what goes in comes out.

You're NOT using the neutral equipment (meaning accurate) to FIX or CORRECT the coloring that came out of the studio. That's not the goal. And it is precisely because you can't reach live experience through home listening (never was my goal and am not that crazy for live performance) that you shouldn't waste time on trying. I call the recording process a one-way-valve, as in; you can't peak beyond it to see what it was when it was live. All you have at your disposal is the recording. And STILL, you can hear the closest proximity through non-coloring.

And a last bit of beef that actually just got stuck at the bottom of the pot; you're forgetting that this tendency, in fact, sprung out of the circle of confusion. It seems to me you like citing Toole, but don't like to read much. It's right there at the beginning of the book - studio folks having at their disposal only the coloring speakers that they're stuck with having no clue what the product of their work will be once it leaves the studio.

But his proposal to remedy this is setting a standard to follow in both studio AND home audio. Let me give a comedic example; Genelec for the studio and Revel for the home. Of course, it's not an iron law, but an example to follow. We clean the channel of conveying as much as possible so that we have a pretty good idea what it is that we're selling and what it is that people are buying.

And, as I already once said, even for people who like to set it up to their own taste, they will achieve it much easier with coloring the non-colored sound than they would with coloring the colored or buying a different amp and different set of speakers for every Studio Sound Signature. What you definitely CAN'T have is "one color fit all studios" equipment (unless it's no-color and you just take the product as it is). If you agree, as subjectivists often do, that all studios have some sort of "sound", that is not an argument in your favor, but against it. You can "cool down" a, what is colloquially known as, "warm recording", but if you play a rather cool one through the same equipment, it'll get harsh. So both sides would benefit from buying as neutral as possible and would achieve their goals easier.

I actually really liked Toole for this proposal and saw it as helping most in this hobby. I never saw it as one-sided. All sides benefit.
 

Bridges

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They have big horn speakers; I have big horn speakers. What's not to like? ;)
Which studio monitoring are we talking about? The control or mixing room, or the actual recording room were the musicians play and hear the play back of what they have just performed? One is done with little or medium size monitors at near field, the other done with large horn monitors pointed down toward the musicians.
 

fpitas

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Which studio monitoring are we talking about? The control or mixing room, or the actual recording room were the musicians play and hear the play back of what they have just performed? One is done with little or medium size monitors at near field, the other done with large horn monitors pointed down toward the musicians.
The big room where you show off the tracks to customers etc.
 

fpitas

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fpitas

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So big horn systems?
Right. They're pretty standard in larger studios. The tracks may have been mastered and returned at that point.
 

thecheapseats

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Ok, so then you would understand that sound can be manipulated to sound less or more natural/realistic, correct?

What, then, do you actually disagree with that I have written?

Or is your derisive laughter pointed at someone else's posts?

If you think people were arguing that we are able to reproduce live music to sound indistinguishable from real, then that's clearly a strawman. Nobody (that I saw) has said such a thing, and most have argued why that is unlikely (including me).

So then we have the discussion of whether sound reproduction can be on a continuum to more or less natural/real. Which brings up the fact that one can manipulate some recordings to sound more natural/realistic than they would have sounded if they hadn't been altered (which is a way of coloring the sound).
I don't see how you could disagree, especially if as you claim you have any experience in sound recording/engineering/manipulation. But I'm all ears if you have a legitimate counter argument.

What exactly do you find so preposterous? (That is actually accurate to what anyone is saying).
Perhaps it is best if you continue to tell me what I 'understand' as well as what I think, or agree and disagree with - it will save me time and hassle responding - thanks in advance...
 

MattHooper

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Not sure who you are addressing here, but...

Some unrelated beef; I see some logical fallacies in your understanding of studio recording as a blueprint for what you try to achieve.

Ok, but speaking of fallacious logic....

It doesn't really matter what equipment they were using for creating a recording. When it comes to REcreating!!!!!! (Folks, it's RECREATING) you'll do a better job with neutral equipment. Because through neutral equipment and well-treated, corrected room, you can get as close as possible to whatever equipment they were using. THAT is the whole idea of flat frequency response. It's the idea of what goes in comes out.

Insofar as " It doesn't really matter what equipment they were using for creating a recording" admits of the fact that a wide variety and quality of equipment is used to create recordings, you've literally contradicted yourself there.

If a recording was made using Yamaha NS10 monitors, using a very neutral playback monitor at home will depart from the sound heard on their equipment precisely because you chose a more neutral monitor.

That's the circle of confusion.

So of course if you are trying to get as close to the sound of the equipment used making the recording, it totally matters what equipment they are using. (That's why Toole wishes that more universal criteria was adopted for studio monitoring).

Nothing wrong with choosing neutral equipment, there are still good reasons, but the case you are making seems pretty sloppy IMO.


You're NOT using the neutral equipment (meaning accurate) to FIX or CORRECT the coloring that came out of the studio. That's not the goal.

Well, of course not. That's essentially a tautology: Neutral equipment entails not coloring the signal, so of course the goal of Neutral equipment isn't to color the signal. And if one's goal was to further color the signal...obviously looking to Neutral equipment is the wrong direction.

But then, we still have facts about different goals people can have, which you don't seem to be acknowledging.


And it is precisely because you can't reach live experience through home listening (never was my goal and am not that crazy for live performance) that you shouldn't waste time on trying.

Speak for yourself. :)

You don't seem to be leaving any room for nuance in your declarations.

Virtually all audiophiles acknowledge that perfect reproduction of the original event, or generally speaking, of "live sound," is impossible, or at least exceedingly unlikely. But it's a fallacy to move from that acknowledgement to "therefore live sound can not be, or should not be anyone's reference." Because even if you can't reach sound indistinguishable from "live" in a system, you CAN get closer or further away from live sound. And so taking cues from live sound quality - understood with the above caveats - can indeed guide one's goals in their system.

Far from a "waste of time," I'm glad I didn't take your advice, because exactly this goal has led me to great satisfaction in the results in my own home systems.

See, not everyone has precisely the same taste and goals...and as Jack Handy councils us "That's Ok." :)


I call the recording process a one-way-valve, as in; you can't peak beyond it to see what it was when it was live. All you have at your disposal is the recording.

Which could also justify simply making the recording as pleasing as you can.

And STILL, you can hear the closest proximity through non-coloring.

Except, as above, in many recordings you could get closer to the control room sound with colored NS10s....or...even beats earphones (and other low-fi transducers that have been used to check the sound of mixes. When my group, a funk group, recorded, it had to sound good on our car stereos).
But his proposal to remedy this is setting a standard to follow in both studio AND home audio. Let me give a comedic example; Genelec for the studio and Revel for the home. Of course, it's not an iron law, but an example to follow.

Exactly. But that's why your original logic of "it doesn't matter what they used in the studio" doesn't follow.

And, as I already once said, even for people who like to set it up to their own taste, they will achieve it much easier with coloring the non-colored sound than they would with coloring the colored or buying a different amp and different set of speakers for every Studio Sound Signature. What you definitely CAN'T have is "one color fit all studios" equipment (unless it's no-color and you just take the product as it is). If you agree, as subjectivists often do, that all studios have some sort of "sound", that is not an argument in your favor, but against it. You can "cool down" a, what is colloquially known as, "warm recording", but if you play a rather cool one through the same equipment, it'll get harsh. So both sides would benefit from buying as neutral as possible and would achieve their goals easier.

I think you are confusing different issues here.

Nobody that I've seen has suggested that choosing a piece of gear that is colored in some way, be it a tube amp or a non-neutral loudspeaker, is going to correct things to recreate the variety of different studio gear! So that's just a moot discussion.

Rather, the issue is whether an audiophile finds a particular coloration to be agreeable or not (or, if the coloration may remind the audiophile of "real sound" more than another choice of gear).

And if you think no one will find a "one color fits all" solution, well you are wrong. Plenty of audiophiles have found exactly that (being very happy with some non neutral, non ASR approved transducers...or sometimes amps...). I'm among them. As to achieving it "much easier" in another way (I presume you are implying the use of EQ with neutral equipment)...in some cases sure, in other cases not necessarily. I had an excellent graphic digital EQ in my system for a long time, and I was never able to achieve exactly the character I hear from my tube amps. The tube amps are for me a "set and forget" solution to the sound I like, with no need for additional equipment like an EQ (hence I sold it). YMMV of course.

Likewise, it would not be possible simply with EQ to fully recreate the sonic character of every loudspeaker I've owned and enjoyed. I doubt for instance EQ would make a Revel speaker sound precisely like the MBL omnis sounded in my room. There's a reason why Amir often points out why one speaker's response is more amenable to EQ over another.

Again, I think anyone can make a totally reasonable case for desiring neutral gear. I just don't think you've necessarily managed that in your post :)
 

MattHooper

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Perhaps it is best if you continue to tell me what I 'understand' as well as what I think, or agree and disagree with - it will save me time and hassle responding - thanks in advance...

Why are you are pretending to not notice that my responses were couched as questions to you as to what you are actually arguing?

Notice all these little things...?....

And "correct?" placed at the end of a statement is to ASK if you agree or not, and invite you to please explain otherwise.

And that I said I'm open to whatever argument you are making, and asked explicitly...what IS it you are claiming?
 

krabapple

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As veteran of 9 medical device startups with 6-7 sham or placebo arm studies, half the patients would get treatment but the other half would get be selected and not treated and followed as treated patient. With drugs they would get dose of sugar pills if on the sham side. Two important things to state here. Having the placebo data is only important if there is another group has some difference that is being measured. Second, If the patient knows that that they have 50-50 chance of getting the placebo it alters the outcome that less will have placebo effect or a unexpected benefit. Most studies that have a sham are double blind, that is, those administering and conducting the study do not know which patients got which treatment or anything about the patient until the data is analyzed. Telling someone who is expecting there to be difference and then not having one, tells you absolutely nothing except that people will try ascertain the difference or guess.

I put 'placebo effect' -- a term one of my respondents introduced, not me -- hoping to avoid just such niggling objections to phantom switch results.

Of course it 'tells you something'. So does presenting oenophiles with the same wine in two different bottles, effectively 'telling them' that the two are different.

They could:
try to ascertain the difference and report none
try to ascertain the difference, find none, and report a 'guess' -- you can't really know this unless they tell you it's a guess
try to ascertain the difference, find one, and report one

The frequency of the third choice there tells you something about human behavior. It may seem an obvious something to those familiar with RCTs, but if it was obvious to audiophiles, I'd have noticed that by now.

Audio is rife with situations where A and B are vanishingly likely to sound different, yet listeners report significant difference. The phantom switch situation is simply the limit case of that.
 

Timcognito

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I put 'placebo effect' -- a term one of my respondents introduced, not me -- hoping to avoid just such niggling objections to phantom switch results.

Of course it 'tells you something'. So does presenting oenophiles with the same wine in two different bottles, effectively 'telling them' that the two are different.

They could:
try to ascertain the difference and report none
try to ascertain the difference, find none, and report a 'guess' -- you can't really know this unless they tell you it's a guess
try to ascertain the difference, find one, and report one

The frequency of the third choice there tells you something about human behavior. It may seem an obvious something to those familiar with RCTs, but if it was obvious to audiophiles, I'd have noticed that by now.

Audio is rife with situations where A and B are vanishingly likely to sound different, yet listeners report significant difference. The phantom switch situation is simply the limit case of that.
Okay I get the point you are making. The one I was trying to make, is it less important to illustrate that there is little or no difference than conducting a study that defines differences and demonstrates and measures them. Some improvements can be substantial, things like DSP actually work and can be heard. What you are saying, again valid, is about people learning about their own behavior. Actually analyzing what things are aural improvements and and same time removing bias from the subject and the presenter is really more important. By telling someone a lie about the outcome is creating bias and not good science.
 

killdozzer

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I put 'placebo effect' -- a term one of my respondents introduced, not me -- hoping to avoid just such niggling objections to phantom switch results.

Of course it 'tells you something'. So does presenting oenophiles with the same wine in two different bottles, effectively 'telling them' that the two are different.

They could:
try to ascertain the difference and report none
try to ascertain the difference, find none, and report a 'guess' -- you can't really know this unless they tell you it's a guess
try to ascertain the difference, find one, and report one

The frequency of the third choice there tells you something about human behavior. It may seem an obvious something to those familiar with RCTs, but if it was obvious to audiophiles, I'd have noticed that by now.

Audio is rife with situations where A and B are vanishingly likely to sound different, yet listeners report significant difference. The phantom switch situation is simply the limit case of that.
Don't mind me, I'll just keep on pushing for people to stop using wines to explain audio.
 
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