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tmsorosk
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Digital

I've been wondering why Stereophile has no dedicated Digital column. I have no problem with analog and it's following, in fact I still have a SME 20/12 at the lake that we occasionally use. But it seems there's less and less digital in are favourite mag. Even the newest addition ( The Entery Level ) has more to do with analog than anything else. The last time I checked CDs were outselling LPs over a 100 to one. It would be nice to see more of what the avagage person uses and what many older die hards are going back to. If Stereophile wants to attract new readers, a quallity digital column may be a good first step as thats what most newbees would be listening to music through.

 

                                                                     Tim

jgossman
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Maybe..

It's because Stereophile is a perfectionist magazine, and CD's, well, suck.

tmsorosk
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Maybe yours

 jgossman,,,Maybe you should have said YOUR CD's suck, or more accurately your CD play back system sucks.

My CD play back system is on the same level as my SME 20/12 and Manley Steelhead. 

Of coarse this isn't the point, the point is, there are many audiophiles using CD players and always will be, but the coverage by are favourite mag is getting pretty slim. Nothing wrong with vinyl and it's folowing but does Stereophile want to lose everyone else, there starting to lose me after 19 years.

Ariel Bitran
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Progression of Digital Audio Coverage

While I'm certainly not the official rep for matters like these, i would say that Stereophile's coverage of digital audio is quite expansive if you include all the DACs and Computer Audio products we cover, as well as CD players. CD listening was just the beginning to the ever-expanding world of digital listening that we can now experience, and I think to not include other Digital Audio products in your wished for "Digital" Column would be short-sighted.  In that regard, you can visit AudioStream.com for plenty of news on Computer Audio, and you can continue to find reviews in Stereophile on different CD Players, Transports, DACs, and Computer Audio products.

And for the purpose of taking a tally, these are the following Digital Products we have reviewed in all of Volume 35 (our current series, 2012):

DACs:

Classe CP-800 D/A preamplifier (planned for September), 

Bricasti Design M1 D/A processor (followup planned for September, Full Review in February)

Furutech GT-40 digital interface (followup planned for September

dCS Debussy D/A converter (followup planned for September

Musical Fidelity V-DAC Mk.II D/A processor (followup planned for September, February

Halide HD D/A converter (August)

NAD M51 DAC D/A preamplifier (July)

Peachtree Dac.It D/A processor (May)

AMR DP-777 D/A processor (March)

Rega RegaDac  (February)

Weiss DA202 D/A processor  (January)

Music Servers:

T+A Music Player (followup planned for September)

Meridian Digital Media System (July followup)

Musical Fidelity M1 Clic media server (March)

CD Players: 

Audio Note CD4.1x CD player (July)

Rega Apollo-R CD Player (July)

Electrocompaniet EMP-2 universal player (July)

Krell Cipher CD player (May)

Luxman D-05 SACD/CD player (April)

Emotiva ERC-2 (Followup in April, January)

NAD C 515BEE (February)

jgossman
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Nope

Actually, I've heard first hand a few mearly more expensive systems than my 800.00 Arcam CD72 and some much more expensive systems.  And while some are starting to bridge the gap, you can't put back what isn't there in the first place.  CD is just a shitty medium.  And unlike Cassette or R2R or LP's or any reasonable analog format, you can only improve it so much with execution.  It's why so often products in the digital realm, like NAD and Arcam CDP's from 5-10 years back and now Oppo and Arcam and Vincent come along and smack around the "high-end" and show off the kings lack of garb.

That aside, you'll rarely mistake a Rega P3 that I love and honor like a golden calf with Dudley's 124 or Fremers Caliburn.  With analog, you truely spend more, you get more.  With digital, maybe.

That tells me all things being equal, the format is just simply flawed.

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Actually....

I still believe real world (under $5K) digital sounds as good or better than analogut of the same cost...To get that magic analogue so loved on Stereophile one has to really spend a LOT of money. Not saying that analogue for less sounds bad, just that it is not as reliably good as digital.

tmsorosk
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Digital

I was hoping this thread wouldn't turn into a digital verses vinyl debate, it was more about the shrinking coverage of digital in general, but I must agree with ,,, JIMV,,, my vinyl rigs cost was nearly $50,000 while the digital setup was about $12,000 and there sonic attributes has nearly reached convergence. Yes very close for all that hear them, including many die hard analog loving friends. It's fun to see there mouths agape after hearing digital done right, maybe for the first time. I'm not pro or con vinyl or digital for that matter, but as a long time reader one cannot help but notice a lessoning of digital coverage in favour of excessive vinyl medium. 

Ariel, no need to mention the digital products that have been reviewed for me, I've read them all. As far as music servers go and being short sighted, I guess your right, but although I have most of my music on the MAC computer and interlinked by an Audio Research DAC 8, I still prefer spinning discs. Guess I'm turning into a dinosaur. That may be good news as many considered vinyl users dinosaurs not that long ago. 

I think there could be much more to a digital column than just reviewing equipment, just as Micky and Art have made much more of there columns without a complete submersion of equipment reviews. Many newbees don't seem to understand the technical aspects of digital and how it works or how to set things up properly, many of us old farts have lots to learn too.

                                                                                                                                                                  Regards  Tim

Ariel Bitran
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N/A Dinosaur

tmsorosk wrote:

 I still prefer spinning discs. Guess I'm turning into a dinosaur. That may be good news as many considered vinyl users dinosaurs not that long ago.

don't get so down on yourself! wink

i don't think it has anything to do with age

more about situation/habit/and how involved you wanna be with your music while you're listening to it.

I always do hi-rez online streaming from my computer, synced hi-rez streaming from my phone, CDs for home listeninng, and I'll bring vinyl back once I repair my turntable.

Maybe the reason why digital/CD playback has less coverage from all angles is because is it less expensive/less involving (not sonically---not going there--) but also less in the amount of work done in listening and system building. Analog playback involves so many things i barely understand: cartridge setup, resistave loading, capicitance, tonearms, plinth stability, vinyl weight, mods, and repairs. Having read every review in the past two years (as yourself), I haven't seen this much variety in what can be done in a digital setup. I can't offer this as a truth because I am unsure, but maybe as a suggestion why there isn't a "digital" column? Kal has something close to it with his technical prowess and very-readable approach to how he manipulates his sound and room using digital tools, and I usually really enjoy reading about his escapades.

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I believe one of the big

I believe one of the big reasons for the very high cost of good analogue is simply the big number of bits that must go togeether to complete that front end. Turntable, arm, cartridge, phone preamp, cables and yes, even the media is more expensive...now add in cleasning gear and setup gear and you quickly add up to a lot of cash. All analogue improvements are hardware related. In the digital world, companises like Pure Music or J-River are making software changes every couple of months.

tmsorosk
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Dinosauritis

Very true Ariel, there are many aspects to vinyl playback, and on the evenings that audiophile/music loving friends stop over those things add to the audio experience. But although digital is quite easy to use once setup it can take years to achieve a sonically rewarding sound that doesn't leave you wondering whats missing. I've spent years not just trying different DAC's and player/transport combinations but experimenting with conditioning, sometimes different conditioners for DAC and transport, isolation devices, digital links, interconnects, power cords, fuses and placement of sensitive equipment, probably many things I've missed but you get my point.

It is nice to come home after work and just slip a disc into the music maker and sit back with a favorite beverage and enjoy. There maybe no such thing as a perfect playback system but it's nirvana to me.

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Stereophile - Analog vs. Digital

I'm happy with the current mix of analog and digital content in Stereophile without a digital specific section, whether we're talking source components, amplification, or recordings. I don't think we have any totally digital speakers yet, do we? I consider the magazine to have a reasonable mix of analog, digital, high end, low end, hardware, and software coverage. It will never be perfect, but I think it's a decent compromise. 

As for my own mix of vinyl and digital music at home, I listen primarily to digital music files (about 90% of the time) mostly for the sound quality. That's because my turntable is not very good, being a 1983 Japanese direct drive linear tracker. The other factor is convenience. Lately I've been listening to a 3,672 track playlist I put together. I have the software player set to shuffle because I enjoy being surprised when each new track starts, and I like the variety. It's amazing, but there isn't a bad track in the bunch! haha. It's also nice to not have to get up every twenty minutes or so to change a record on a turntable. I've felt pretty spoiled since I set up my Android phone as a remote control device for the Foobar2000 player.

But sometimes I like to rock out old school, so I put a vinyl version of Hendrix, ZZ Top, or something from Bloomfield/Kooper on the turntable, and crank the volume up. I don't think my modest vinyl setup has the flat frequency response, high resolution, or the channel separation of my digital source, but it's still immensely satisfying in a different way. I have a friend with a very nice turntable/cartridge/phono-stage, which tempts me once in a while to upgrade my rig, and invest in a bunch of records to expand my limited collection, but my budget is too limited right now.  New speakers are a higher priority.

I'm glad the magazine isn't too specialized one way or the other.

tmsorosk
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No digital content

Don't no how anyone can be happy with the current mix of analog and digital content, there is no digital content unless you include reviews. It makes no sense to me when you consider most, still listen digitally, analog is a small niche market. I'm still an analog user but have become somewhat discouraged and disinterested by the over abundance of analog coverage. If thats the market Stereophile wants to target than so be it, but the'll have to live with loosing many long term readers that the'll likely not get back. Not sure how many new readers and would be audiophiles won't be interested because of the same. 

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Content..

I think you'd have to look at the 10k foot picture to see what's happening with Stereophile.  First, they cover the hell out of digital.  I'm not sure how they could cover more without separating the magazine in to two rags. 

Second, you have a market from 300 dollars to 300k dollars, frankly going analog.  So the riff that they are alienating readers just doesn't fit the market.  When people hear music on a Rega 1, 2, or 3 and immediately a light goes off that says "you mean analog ISN'T that expensive, and I OWN the music outright, no restriction, people are going to take a second look.  They will still have thier iStuff and servers and cd players.  But people really like the idea of analog when they hear it.  And when they hear a properly set up system, even inexpensive, they like the PRACTICE of it too.

Don't forget, Stereophile is an enthusiast magazine.  Would people keep reading Car and Driver if they only reviewed Toyota Camry's?

tmsorosk
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Re : Content

Jgossman said  " they cover the hell out of digital ". I'd like to no where, in what issues and on what pages? Other than reviews i couldn't find a single tech article, or other in the past two years, correct me if I missed something. Quite a change from past years, all those types of articles are now about analog, ALL. As I've said above, nothing wrong analog, but you would think they would give digital equal time. 

As far as Mr. Jgossman's comment about the Camry, that's exactly whats happening with analog, just too much of one thing. Great for one type of enthusiast but not for anyone else.

Has Stereophile turned into a mag that caters only to analog and headphone users? 

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Well

Ask yourself, how user oriented is digital technology?  You put a new box filled with stuff that you don't really care about even if you understand in your system and decide if it sounds more like real music or not.  With analog, you fiddle, you mod, you swap, you tune, and each change is a REAL change.  It's almost ALL user oriented technology.  If the inclination sets upon me, I can make a tube preamp.  I can make a tube amp.  I can make a turntable.  MOST people can't make a really good dac, cdp, etc.  SOME people can.  That set of statements applies to most people.

Almost EVERY Stereophile is laden with digital reviews.  So I guess I just don't understand the question.  But the fact is MOST audiophiles prefer analog even if, like me, most listening is via a digital source.  And Stereophile IS an enthusiast magazine for audiophiles.

Like my car analogy.  At one time I had at the same time a Toyota Matrix and a BMW 323 convertible.  The Toyota was a "perfect car" (forever? wink wink Sony/Philips).  Quick, check.  Ride, check.  Handling, check.  Milage, check.  Storage room, check.  It was engineered by a focus group and they did it well.  It was really fun, until I bought the BMW.  Suddenly, I knew what DRIVING was all about.  It wasn't perfect.  It was a little heavy, overdamped, a little spot of rust here and there.  But it was magnificent.  It was the real sensation of DRIVING an automobile.  It was FUN.  It was, ANALOG.  By comparison, the Matrix was merely "perfect"

Ya get it?

tmsorosk
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RE; Well

I understand what your saying Mr. jgossman. There is one point I must take issue with, " MOST audiophiles prefer analog " . Not sure what you base this on. The audio club I'm a very active member of ( just a whisker under 100 members ) great folks from all walks of life with music makers that range from tiny apartment systems to breathtakingly expensive systems with homes to match. Last time we took a pole it was about 50/50 as to which each prefered, and that was based souly on sonic merits. Analog always seems to take up the most talk time. I'm not suggesting our little group represents audiophiles in general, just suggesting there is a large group of audiophiles/music lovers that seem to be forgotten by the media, a media that seems to want to chase whatever is hot at the time. Short sightedness one should think. My point is, there is room for both, but apparently not in the pages of Stereophile.

I understand that John and the wonderful staff will do what it takes to keep Stereophile in print, and they will always have my financial support, but I don't have to agree with there narrowing direction.

P.S. my last beamer was great too, well, till I had to work on it.

 

                                                                                                                                      Regards  Tim

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Digital

CD sucks? LOL

 

ever heard of nyquist/shannon?   redbook audio is faultless to the limits of human hearing , and furthermore, digital beats the breaks off analogue in virtually every parameter.

you get your own opinion, not your own facts.

audiophiles are a strange breed. they willfully reject facts in order to bolster their own biased, misguided opinions.

 

and no, MOST audiophiles do not prefer analog. that is not my experience.  analog is a niche market, and in my experience is NOT the preference of most "golden eared" (lol) listeners.

 

 

and your car analogy is wrong, gossman. a more apt analogy would be comparing a steam engine with a ICE Train

 

even a tiny bit of research will demonstrate clearly that digital is superior to analogue in every single way.   audiophiles cling to analog out of fear, perception bias, familiarity, nostalgia...

 

just like the   harbeth challenge(that no audiophile, in spite of being vocal and obnoxious on every forum) would step up to the plate on.  there are studies upon studies upon studies, huge bodies of data that show how digital outperforms analog, yet audiophiles stubbornly cling to their 1950s tech for dear life.  times have moved on.  analog is a lame duck.

tmsorosk
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Analog VS's digital

Technical aspects aside, what do your ears tell you? I have a very nice CD and analog source ( Ayre C5mp/ARC- DAC8 & SME 20/12- Manley Steelhead ) to say one is sonically superior in more ways to the other would be incorrect. I'm in the middle with these debates. I like both, but the one we prefer is the one we're listening to at the time. 

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Digital

It's weird, on paper digital should way outperform analog, what with theoretical dynamic range and signal to noise ratio of digital media far exceeding the best analog source.  Ditto the source electronics. Yet, even on the best systems CDs can so often sound lifeless, paper mâché, thin, tinny, two dimensional, threadbare, compressed, annoying, shrill, glaring, synthetic, metallic, grainy, boring, electronic, attenuated on top and bottom.  This is especially true if the source is digital tape. 

The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry.

 

Geoff Kait

Machina Dynamica

TheOctavist
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I dont hear that.

I just hear what is on the recording.  Being an engineer,  I am familiar with comparing the control room and live feeds, and digital gets closest. 

 

analog is definitely nothing like the original signal..

 

muddy, colored, and sluggish..

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control room sound

Sure, what you hear in the control room sounds very good. The problem as I hear it is that the CD we as consumers can buy all too often sounds truly awful. The vinyl edition by comparison almost always sounds better.

We as consumers wonder why so many "perfect sound forever" CD's sound so damn bad!

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I hear that

  " The vinly edition by comparison almost always sounds better " maybe to you , I've noticed about a 50/50 split as to which format is sonically superior. I own lots of really crappy sounding vinyl.

 If your digital playback truly sounds awful, I can assure you it's your gear. 

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Digital vs analog

 

 "If your digital playback truly sounds awful, I can assure you it's your gear."

If the CD is a typical, off the shelf, untreated disc that sounds generally as I described above, an excellent system should reveal those sonic characteristics even more clearly than a mediocre one, I can assure you.  

 

Geoff Kait

Machina Dynamica

tmsorosk
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Ok

But that's not always true Geoff. It may be true that a better system will sometimes reveal and highlight weaknesses in a poor recording, But a recording that is less than dynamic, lifeless and dull ( which is most ) can be greatly inhanced and even brought back to life by the right system. When I moved up to a great CD player and DAC the recordings I owned that I felt were not play worthy went from several hundred to several dozen.

It was quite a challenge to find CD playback equipment that had great detail but wasn't ruthlessly revealing, sterile, or fatiguing. And to be satisfied over the long haul, I also had to find gear that was on par with my SME 20/12, I was able to do so.

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CDs for the most part

Of course it's not always true.  I didn't mean to suggest it's always true. I think the point I was trying to make is that off the shelf untreated CDs are....oh, nevermind.  

 

An ordinary man has no means of deliverance.  -  Old audiophile expression

 

geoff kait

machina dynamica

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Not too far, Geoff

On this I have to agree with tmsorosk, to the following extent. If your CDs always sound truly awful, you can't blame the media. In fact one of the things a good table or cd player is going to do is lay bare the shortcomings of the recording. Remember, the signal has been through about 10 gain stages before it ever hits a tape or harddrive, much less your disk. And that doesn't include the sometimes terrible amount of processing and conversions that occur getting from the artist to the master.

That said, the LP almost always (in my collection of duplicates) sounds better.

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Off the shelf CDs

There are a number of tools that have been at the disposal of audiophiles who are disenchanted with the generic, bland sound of CDs.  To whit, demagnetizers, ionizers, colored pens of various colors, Cream Electret, Rainbow Foil, rings, scattered light absorbing mats, vibration damping devices such as Black Hole, quantum chips, at least fifteen different CD cleaners and enhancers, cryogenics, Nespa photon canon device, Audio Desk CD edge beveler, vibration isolation and last but not least the Red X Coordinate Pen.

 

geoff kait

machina dynamica

tmsorosk
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jgossman wrote:
jgossman wrote:

On this I have to agree with tmsorosk, to the following extent. If your CDs always sound truly awful, you can't blame the media. In fact one of the things a good table or cd player is going to do is lay bare the shortcomings of the recording. Remember, the signal has been through about 10 gain stages before it ever hits a tape or harddrive, much less your disk. And that doesn't include the sometimes terrible amount of processing and conversions that occur getting from the artist to the master.

That said, the LP almost always (in my collection of duplicates) sounds better.

Just spent the last few evenings randomly comparing LP's to CD's of the same recording, It's still pretty much a 50/50 split as to which better conveys the essences of music, to me it's clearly a matter of the specific recording.

I'm not trying to claim one is better than the other, I'm just tired of people telling me one is superior, come to my place and hear both for yourself and tell me again what you think.

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i tend to ...

listen to CD's when I like to hear a lot of bass with an edge to it too. also CD's when I listen loudly, for some reason. I listen to vinyl when I listen at low to moderate levels.

michael green
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having a system that can play the music

I use Cd's exclusively. You guys can say they suck, but you let me know and I'll give you my shipping address. I'll even let you tell me I don't know what I'm talking about or any other put down you would like. Heck I'll help you, just get those babies packed up and I'll be waiting by the mailbox.

Oh BTW had 27 TT's at one time and a vinyl collection that barely fit in a 1200square foot storage.

yep CD's suck and I'm sure it has nothing to do with the systems

audiophiles are so strange :0

PO Box......
Las Vegas, NV

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

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I felt compelled to respond

I felt compelled to respond to this post as I have a fully digital based system. I have also heard a few very good hi-dollar systems.

So rather than get into a debate on digital vs analog, I felt that I would shift the discussion back to recording.

So as many know, a lot of modern recordings and mixes are all done in digital realm so for those its hard to believe that analog would me much better since the original multitrack is all digital (you could argue the studio DACs are better but then your rely on your analog gear to uncover that difference).

Personally, I think stepping back there is no reason for digital not to be every bit as good, but my guess is there are actually differences between the two and I don't believe it is on the playback side. To my understand a lot has to go into Vinyl and there are adjustments that need to be made to cut the master disk. My guess, is these settle differences are what is actually given us the different sound. To my understanding, these modifications were the original job of mastering studios.

Again, I'm more of a digital listener but would be interested if anyone has more info on the above.

tmsorosk
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convergence

One thing I'd like to mention if I may, over the years both my vinyl rig and digital play back sources have improved, as they improve there getting much closer to convergence. Probably less of there format related sonic signature shining through. Tell me I'm getting old and my ears have gone south if you like but when I'm deeply immersed in music I often have to look up to see which source is playing. At that point does it really matter ?

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Us old farts........

.....are often discredited by the 'young buck' audiophiles.
However, we have years of listening that will often reveal characteristics other, less 'well seasoned' ears may miss.

I like your choice of words.
Convergence.
It has been my experience, with my own system, that at around the the $2k point digital (a DAC) will begin to compare quite well with a $2k table & cart.
At prices under that, analog provides better satisfaction.

Keeping in mind Mark Twain's words that any generalization is false, including this one.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please -

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That's funny...

I always thought that digital has the high hand especially in the lower price brackets: an Oppo will give you plenty of music while costing far less than a (sonically) comparable analogue rig.

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listeners levels

The only people who choose vinyl over digital are folks who have not been able to get their systems to play the source. This industry has spent years investing and perfecting the art of excuses, but as we start to treat our systems abilities with more respect and apply the "knowhow" of system voicing, we find that digital is fine and dandy. I have found that the only people who have problems with sources and types of music and the other audiophile "snobery" points, are people who have not taken the time to explore and treat this hobby as a doing thing. An action sport. Those guys who do plug and play are not taking their system to a higher level because they are limiting the signals capability to break through. They cover this up with smart and stinging replies but to me this is only a sign that they have not taken this hobby of listening seriously.

it's all there waiting for us, all we have to do is find it

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

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Joined: Jul 13 2007 - 1:46pm
Whoa....
Michael Green wrote:

>>>>>The only people who choose vinyl over digital are folks who have not been able to get their systems to play the source.<<<<<

Wow!
I just mean Wow, Michael.
This is a V broad & sweeping generalization.
Are you quite sure you do not wish to rephrase this statement?

michael green
michael green's picture
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Last seen: 10 hours 4 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
yes, I'm sure

Hi Bill

Yes, I'm sure. People can have a taste preference and choose Tape, Vinyl or Digital but on a system that is flexible enough to play any source, it can play any source. Most of my clients can play any source format they wish and any recording they wish to a high level of reproduction. Let me give you a quote fresh from today.
__________________________

"Great to hear that we have similar taste of jazz music. Ya…… the bass of Bob James “Restless” album is fantastic low. I have all the Hiroshima albums collections. Two of my favorite albums from them are “Go” so jazzy…… and “East”. You should also try one of the Hiroshima member solo album project “Spirit and Soul” by June Kuramoto, great stuff ……….. Ray Obiedo “Iguana” album track#8 – ‘At First Glance’, the solo guitar part was soo emotional that I felt a lump stuck in my throat… The guitar unique harmonics really hypnotize me…….

Thanks Michael for your recommendation list. The Eagles feeling as if I’m inside the stadium atmosphere…..
Ya…Dire Straits is soo bluesy and scary…….

Hi Audiophiles,

You will never get the above listening experience if you are still stick with high-end audio. My listening experience session with Michael Green’s Tunable products are soo enjoyable.

You will realize that over Audiophiles forum the traffic are always very busy with tons of content about problem and leading to another problems without really solve the problem

In Tuneland forum the traffic is light because Michael really knows the root cause of the problem and provides solution. Therefore over here no grieve but happy listeners with lots of curiosity on comparing notes about surprise musical notes which never hear before.

Musical enjoyment is all about emotional feeling …… "
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These are the types of reports we get from people who have spent much of their time following the typical audiophile paths. They reach a certain level then stall untill they set their systems free, or change their systems out for ones that can play more of the music. Again I don't make the rules, I just uncover and discover them. Then I put into practice and developement what it takes to get there. As people from here or other forums, or those who happen to find TuneLand become a part of "the tune" they find a world that is far different (more open) than what they usually find in places that still are a little stuck when it comes to listening practices for the extreme listener. This is no put down to the guy who goes part way, it's merely that there is a step beyond for those who wish to go there. here's where this statement is http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/t169p105-hiend001-s-system

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

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