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There is nothing holy about the signal

Is the signal holy?

  • Yes it is

    Votes: 18 16.5%
  • No it isn't

    Votes: 84 77.1%
  • Undecided / No opinion

    Votes: 7 6.4%

  • Total voters
    109

Sal1950

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I've stated my philosophy on this several times. I started out as an audiophile including believing all the garbage (or at least much of it). After doing very early DSP Room Correction (more than 20 years ago) I came to what I still believe. Put together the cleanest, most transparent, most high fidelity rig you can. Then season to taste. Pultec plug ins are excellent for this. I originally chose target curves from a menu on Tact gear. It had the well known slightly downward slope, but you could create your own or pick different slopes.

It would be incredibly ostrich-like to say preference has no role. The gripes here are with those who mistake preference for superior fidelity.
Just caught this thread and agree with Blumlein's thoughts 100%.
So YES, the signal is holy, if your system is distorting it in ways that can't ever be avoided, (very high distortion sources/preamps/amps and the rest) Get the signal in that pure form first, then things from DRC to improve systems IR response, to upsampling 2ch into surround are great if that's you thing. Just don't kill the chicken before she hatches the egg.
 

mhardy6647

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I've tried to listen to some of them, tried watching some of their performances. I'll never get the appeal, much less the fanaticism.
Drugs are catalytic. ;)
That said, I still enjoy their shtick immensely -- but only some of it.
I was never and won't ever be a Drums and Space kind of person.
 
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mhardy6647

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American Beauty. Don't quibble. Just get it. :cool:

cheers
I'd never disagree. A very good place to start with the Dead.
They had gotten interested in Crosby, Stills & Nash's harmonies and manifested a level of discipline that was rare for them. The album of course also has an elegiac, end of an era quality hanging over it, largely (it is said) due to the recent deaths of Garcia's mother and Phil Lesh's father.
1705106647552.jpeg
Europe '72 is live Grateful Dead cut from similar cloth.

All this being said, for the benefit of ol' @MattHooper -- I was actually gonna suggest Reckoning. Maybe a little sleepy, but the highlights are pretty... umm... high (not that kind, the other kind!) and the audio quality is very good.

 

Sal1950

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I kind of like their music. It is sort of a jamming session. The only rock-like music that is suitable for background music. I usually listen to music or not. But the Grateful Dead is okay for background. Never understood the fanaticism either. Like Widespread Panic.
Me either.
I never got much into the Dead beyond American Beauty and Working Mans Dead.
 

mhardy6647

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Me either.
I never got much into the Dead beyond American Beauty and Working Mans Dead.
No problem there.
That'll do -- Dead-wise. Although for whatever reason, I am not crazy about Workingman's Dead. American Beauty, though, is sublime.

My favorite Dead studio album, for which I can offer no rational explanation (can't even blame drug abuse), though, was and remains:

1705115745532.gif
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

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Sorry for the clickbaity title but I thought it was time for another ASR bun-fight ;)

For some time now, I have noticed that both groups of audiophiles - subjectivists and objectivists - share the same belief: that the signal should be kept uncorrupted. Purity is all important. The only distinguishing feature between the two groups is the approach. Subjectivists believe their cables, power conditioners, cable elevators, DAC's, and analog systems keep the signal clean. The whole purpose of an analog system is to prevent the signal getting corrupted by digital. The intention of power tweaks is to keep power "clean" because they think they can hear "dirty power". Objectivists believe that the lower the distortion/SINAD, the better. Speakers are selected for low measurable distortion. The whole point of this engineering exercise is to keep distortion and nonlinearities as low as possible, preferably pushed into inaudible limits. There is certainly a large contingent of very vocal ASR members who say that the system is there to reproduce what the artist intended, and nothing more. So you can see, both are the same yet both are different.

However, there are two major aspects to sound reproduction that everyone agrees has a major impact on the sound: (1) the recording, and (2) the speaker/room interface.

The recording: this is the result of a bunch of subjective decisions made by the artist and the mixing engineer on their monitoring system, which is different to your home audio system - i.e. Toole's "circle of confusion". Take a look at the VST plugins offered by only one company, and realize there are thousands more offered by other companies. All these VST plugins manipulate the signal - compressors, expanders, EQ, harmonic distortion generators, emulators for tube sound, vinyl sound, tape sound, reverb VST's, and so on. Some recordings are completely artificial constructs that never existed in reality, e.g. all electronic music. Some recordings of less talented singers have been "autocorrected" to make them sing in tune. Even recordings of live acoustic instruments have been manipulated. I listen almost exclusively to classical music, and I can tell you that recordings sound crazy different from label to label, and even with the same label. Just compare Deutsche Grammofon from the 80's and 90's and current recordings, even though the recordings are digital. They have changed something in their workflow that makes the recordings sound different.

The speaker/room interface: despite the best intentions of speaker designers, the moment the speaker is placed in the room, the response is changed. I think that nearly all of us here on ASR agree that some type of room correction is necessary, preferably with DSP. And if you correct with DSP, you will need a target curve. Here is an older thread on ASR about target curves:

index.php


I have tried all these target curves, and they all sound different. All are purportedly supported by science. Some of these curves were arrived at by hypothesizing what the speaker's room response would look like if a speaker that measured flat under anechoic conditions were placed in a room. Some others are based on preference studies, e.g. the Harman curve. Even the Harman curve has three bands, "more bass", "less bass", and "Harman curve lovers". These bands are split into different demographics - younger men and older women respectively for the first two groups, and the largest group being "Harman curve lovers".

I suspect that whether we admit it or not, many of us pick the target curve that we like based on what sounds best to us. So here is the rub: the moment we pick a target curve, we are manipulating the signal to our preference. Even if we choose a speaker that has a certain target curve with no digital signal manipulation, we have still chosen a target curve that we prefer.

Another point of data: valve amps and turntables distort the signal and measure objectively worse. Yet there are many people, myself included, who think that they sound pleasant. Why? My hypothesis was that people just like some additional distortion, so I performed an experiment on distortion - thread here. I deliberately added distortion to the signal, and asked people if they prefer "A or B", without revealing what the intervention was. Nearly all the people I tested preferred some distortion. As I emphasized in that thread repeatedly, this was not a scientific test given that it was performed under uncontrolled conditions with only one system, but the trend seemed significant.

And yet another data point: in another thread, @ppataki recommended I try Pultec EQ to improve subjective bass slam. I downloaded a VST and tried it. It works by boosting bass followed by a little undershoot, i.e. it effectively modifies the target curve. It is still early days in my testing, but I like it very much. I need to throw more music at it to see if it still holds up after a few weeks of listening, but here is another example where signal manipulation has increased my enjoyment of the system.

Conclusion. My system is an unholy hodgepodge where I have manipulated the signal to an extent that would horrify both objectivists and subjectivists. It started by realizing that recordings all sound different, and Toole's circle of confusion meant that my system wasn't reproducing what the artist intended anyway. I began correcting the system with the intention of making the circle of confusion smaller, before I realized that this intervention by itself was manipulating the signal to my preference. So why not go further. I ended up installing all sorts of VST's and rejecting most of them on grounds of taste, so I have only kept a few. The important feature of my system is that I can turn everything off with a few clicks and everything is restored to unmolested signal, with the exception of the target curve that I can not avoid because it is baked into the system.

If you conclude that it is OK to manipulate the signal to your preference, the very uncomfortable corollary is this: there are no standards in audio, nor can there ever be. All the preference scores in spinorama.org are moot. We are back to the Wild West where anything goes. I myself am uncomfortable with this because as a scientist at heart and by profession, I can not accept a universe of disorder and chaos.

So my questions for ASR are: do you think signal integrity is important? Do you avoid all manipulation to the signal? If you did manipulate your signal, how did you choose your target curve? Do you think there is a role for preference when it comes to signal manipulation?
It's the room.
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

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Your target curve should reflect your hearing and differences in left and right ears in order to hear what the musicians / engineers intended. It’s easy to do an audiology test to get a curve for each ear.
If you have issues, go with that idea.
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

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And my point is that there is a 'ballpark of accuracy'. So yes there is no perfect reproduction but there is a zone within which it is closer to perfect and beyond that zone it is far from perfect.

It's my view that getting within that zone matters - because otherwise too many recordings begin to sound bad and the system begins to determine what recordings we can listen to with some amount of pleasure.

In other words it's still the wild west but there is a sheriff in town. He can't be everywhere and police everything but just him being there keeps enough of a lid on things that the townsfolk can go about their business without automatically being shot and robbed.
Blending subs should not be so difficult.
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

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I prefer to have as accurate a system as possible to provide a good basis or starting point. I do not want my system adding distortion or unknown frequency response aberrations. From that (hopefully) uncolored start I manipulate to my preference. I can listen as the artist intended, remembering it is not just the artist but also the mixing, mastering, and perhaps corporate input driving a frequency response that may or may not be what the artist actually intended. Decades ago when I had some (very limited) involvement in the process, mastering was a fuzzy target given the recording had to sound "ok" in systems from high-end home stereos to 8-track car players. It was my exposure to the circle of confusion long before I knew that term. It did teach me that adjusting the sound in my system to sound what I liked was not some sort of sin against the recording gods. In fact, most recordings were created IME/IMO to sound good on more modest systems and sound OK in the car, and were not EQ'd to sound great on a more accurate system.

My curve is close to the Harman curve with some tweaks. I do not listen as loudly as most mixers (or so I have been told) so have implemented the bass boost, but since my room is fairly well treated my high-frequency roll-off is milder than the basic Harman curve. From there it is up to the recordings, which I found to be all over the map, at least to my ears. Some seem way too "piercing" in the highs, others have very "boomy" bass. I'd love a simple bass/mid/treble set of tone controls I could easily change from the listening position. One of my frustrations with modern processors is that they have gone all-in on room correction and target curves, exhibiting tremendous processing capability, but don't offer a simple way for me to do just the basic "tweaks" I used to do all the time with my tone controls.
Need just clean punchy blended bass. So hard.
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

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I have played with a number of target curves in Dirac Live. In many recordings I prefer the Harmon curve. In some I like the Harmon curve with 3 or 4 dB of extra bass. For a few recordings I like a flat response at the listening position. My DSP stores 4 target curves I can select, which is convenient.

For me, it comes down to the music and how it was recorded. It would be nice if all recording engineers used the same amplifier and speakers (preferably flat response) while mixing, but that is not realistic. Moreover, recording engineers vary among their tastes. So, there is not one target curve that is always going to be the best solution.

As far as equipment, I have compared expensive speaker wire to inexpensive wire and heard no difference. Expensive power cables seem strange to me - your electricity is flowing through Romex from the breaker panel all of the way to the outlet, sometimes pushing 100 ft., and changing the last 6 ft. is going to make a difference? Etc., etc.

On the other hand, decades ago I did research and ran power loss experiments on laminated steel inductor cores. Long story short, steel core power losses increase exponentially with frequency and magnetizing force, and thus they are not optimal for use at frequencies above the bass region. Improvements over steel core inductors provided by air core inductors (heavy gauge wire) were clearly audible, though to different degrees depending on the steel core designs and sizes.
You could hear the difference? Need to try with the fridge.
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

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I've been to a decent number of concerts in the past 20 years or so. I think the number of venues I've been to where the sound was noticeably good, and not absurdly loud, I could count on one hand. I've been to more shows where all you can hear is a 40hz drone with maybe some cymbals on top.
Best response ever heard.
 

terryforsythe

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You could hear the difference? Need to try with the fridge.
With inductors? Yes, especially when used in series with a midwoofer/midrange as part of the low pass filter circuit. The worst inductors are the ones using the shiny steel laminations (maybe 1-2mm?) as the cores (I don't recall what type of steel alloy they are, I did the testing over 30 years ago). The inductors with silicon steel cores (dark gray) and thinner laminations perform better - the core losses are lower. Air cores perform the best. On a woofer crossed over really low, say around 200 Hz, steel core inductors probably are fine, though.

Test it for yourself. Build a circuit to allow you to switch between a cheap 1 mH steel core inductor and a 1 mH air core inductor in series with a midrange. Use inductors with the same DC resistance to keep the I^2R losses the same. I would be very surprised if you don't hear the difference.

It is interesting to me how much discussion I have seen regarding capacitors and resistors, but not so much regarding inductors. At my age I highly doubt I would hear the difference between different capacitors, and I never have heard a difference between different resistors that are the same value and not being overheated. Any differences there are are extremely subtle and, if even detectable, probably only so at very high frequencies. Inductors are a whole different ball game. Inductors with high core losses can suck dynamics out of the midrange.

Fridge??? Not sure what you mean. Flash freezing inductors will not have any measurable difference. Kind of like burning in capacitors, which is complete nonsense. When I was an EE in filter design and manufacturing, we baked our capacitors between 100 and 120 deg. C (depending on the dielectric) after winding them. There is no amount of audio burn-in that will change a capacitors impedance, dielectric absorption or ESR after they have been baked, which is standard practice in the industry.
 

Philbo King

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Me either.
I never got much into the Dead beyond American Beauty and Working Mans Dead.
I thought the title track of Terrapin Station was pretty exceptional and quite a departure from their other material (in a good way). It gets interesting about halfway through...

 
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Sal1950

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I've been to a decent number of concerts in the past 20 years or so. I think the number of venues I've been to where the sound was noticeably good, and not absurdly loud, I could count on one hand.
Speaking in general terms, that's what I've loved about country music concerts vs rock.
The country artists tend to not try and blow out your eardrums and present at a more moderate level.
I've been anal about protecting my ears for decades now and it's only been at a number of my fav country
artists that I felt comfortable listening without wearing ear protection and screwing up the FR of the sound
which at least for me can be a real treat.
 

Ze Frog

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Cable's, extra conversion, analogue, digital...none of it bothers me, I connect in the most convenient way and to hell with all the pointless toiling over is it optimal or not.

As for the EQ side and adding what you like, again, that's a personal preference and science can't decide what you like. I always aim for speakers with a flat frequency response, and I like flat for critical listening and certain genres. However I also like to adjust such things for certain genres or if the mood takes me.

Many of us are here for the science, and science is good, but you should never lock yourself into the whole it has to be flat all the time, we are all wired differently. And the most important part and what this site offers is a chance to see what measures good and what doesn't. It's far better to have a flat FR and good directivity as a base, because when you do decide to adjust to taste, at least you have that level from which to do so. I think some who say people here are all hung up on something has to be ruler flat etc, all the audiophile tropes don't quite grasp that as with any science, you have to start from some kind of controlled base. The irony is a lot of those people are actually arguing against something that perfectly fits with their own ideas but can't see beyond the trees.
 
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Soandso

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Since I have age related hearing loss I modify the music signal whenever possible.

The measured degree of dB loss for low frequencies and high frequencies differs between ears. My right ear has worse loss than the left for low frequencies and conversely my left ear has worse loss than the right for high frequencies.

At home for music appreciation I comprehensively EQ the left and right audio signal and listen with flat response headphones. Otherwise for recreational listening I do not EQ the amplifier only altering the balance to favoring a left channel.

Out of the home wearing headphones wired to a cell phone I never deploy a dinky EQ. My preferred audio playing cell phone can adjust left and right balance so I set it favoring more left dB and ideally listen on flat response headphones.

When the cell phone has no L:R balance option I can still enjoy the audio signal as is. I don't think the nuances of my particular hearing loss not being EQ'ed make my enjoyment of listening to good music any less.
 
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krabapple

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To answer your question, the integrity of the signal matters 100%...up to the point where I get to manipulate it. So, pure from source into the DAC, and pure until my preferred DSPs kicks in. I want all the 'degradations' to be my choices, as much as possible, from there on. The hardest to control, by far, are the rude ones added by the speaker and room.

(Disregarding primitive, inherently degraded sources like vinyl and its inaccurate electromechanical tracking technology.)
 

Barrelhouse Solly

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Seems to me that you want the best possible reproduction of the original data. Then at the final stage you can tune it to your personal preference. For years I believed that I should never touch the bass and treble controls. Then I got an AVR with room calibration.
 
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krabapple

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I've been to a decent number of concerts in the past 20 years or so. I think the number of venues I've been to where the sound was noticeably good, and not absurdly loud, I could count on one hand. I've been to more shows where all you can hear is a 40hz drone with maybe some cymbals on top.
True and unfortunate, but not universal. I attended a Radiohead concert a few years back at the notoriously terrible sounding Madison Square Garden sports arena, from not-great seats to the side... and it sounded rather like I was hearing it in my room, with all that detail intact right in front of me It was astonishing. Surely a feat of massive DSP and smart PA deployment.

I attended the court of Madonna more recently at another arena in NYC (Barclay Center), from really good floor seats, and sorry to say, Madge sounded like bass-heavy sludge. LCD Soundsystem in a Queens warehouse, on the other hand, had clear, delightful sound (though a tad too loud at times).

It's such a crapshoot.
 
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