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bjh
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

Ethan,

I'm suggesting you attempt to get some sort of peer review of your work/measurements/theory. Would there be any harm in that? After all are you an expert in this field, are you recognized as such?

Incidentially the most recent plots provided do little to ameliorate concerns, roller coaster frequency response (including the upper octaves to 20kHz).

ethanwiner
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word


Quote:
After all are you an expert in this field, are you recognized as such?


Of course - I'm a legend in my own mind.

Seriously, I don't need someone else to tell me that my data is valid. I've been an audio professional for 40 years now, and I've been measuring rooms since the late 1970s. I'm confident that my extensive body of work stands on its own, and I've had about 80 articles published in audio and computer magazines over the years. Many are on the RealTraps site and others are on my personal site. If you have a theory as to why you think my data is not valid, I'd love to hear it.


Quote:
Incidentially the most recent plots provided do little to ameliorate concerns, roller coaster frequency response (including the upper octaves to 20kHz).


Not sure what your point is because this is exactly what you get in an untreated room. Kinda makes some folks' obsession with ultra-high sample rates and the need for a ruler flat response to past 20 KHz appear misguided, no?

--Ethan

bjh
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

Ethan,

I had a look at your site, interesting, but to tell the truth I couldn't help but get the impression (e.g. http://www.ethanwiner.com/myths.html) I was in the presence of Peter Aczel's Mini-Me. Anyway as your confidence is obviously self-awing I'll leave you in peace to enjoy it.

Cheers,

trevort
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

Personal revelation on meaning of the word "sound"

I've been puzzled by posts with Andy, whereby we seem to be drastically mis-communicating.

I think I see why now... at least I hope.

Remember the old philosophy puzzle:
If a tree falls in the forest, and no-one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
Well, you will recall, that there is no correct answer to this, it depends on your definition of sound.

Andy, I think you and I have been referring to the meaning of sound differently:
"All amplifiers sound the same"
to me, this is equivalent to
"There is no audible difference between amplifiers"
This is because I've been using "sound" to mean "perceived sound"
I am guessing you make a distinction between "perceived sound" and "measurable sound"
Therefore the two statements are not equivalent, as there is no difference in perceived sound between amplifiers, but there is a measurable but inaudible difference.
I'm leaving out the clause "modern", or "properly functioning" for simplicity's sake.

This is similar to my saying "yes" a tree falling alone in a forest does make a sound, while you say "no" it doesn't.

Does this make sense?

In which case, you can rest assured than I'm not battling opponents, or trying to deliberately mislead, as you fear.

My interest is simply to understand where people are coming from.

As someone who listens for pleasure, I'm oriented to sound as something I can hear. I am interested in the proposition that that all amps sound the same, as well as all cables sound the same. (It seems that perhaps all cables sound the same in both senses of "sound", as I hear from Ethan there is neither a perceivable or a measurable difference)

Where this gets interesting for me, whether I think I can hear a difference. I have thought I could, but with the bracing education of this post, and yes its been good, overall (thanks guys), despite the tendency to get heated, now I'm interested to test and see. I'd be happy to learn that I can't, but as we see, testing is tough.

I did think up a test I can do at home: I have an old, inexpensive CD player, but it has both analog and digital outputs. I took the digital output through a modern, midrange DAC, into my pre-amp. Also the analog output into another entry to my preamp. My wife wasn't home so all bets are off as E says, but I thought I could hear a difference. Not as much as I'd like, and the psychological snakes were hissing -- what was that I was hearing anyway? I even reduced the volume on the external DAC version, as I did favour it, just in case it was slightly louder and maybe that's what I was hearing as a difference. Will report back when I get my volunteer to blindfold me.

Meanwhile -- audio engineers all: Should I expect that all DACs sound the same?

The other aspect of this thread that interests me, the emnity, the dirty-wordedness of audiophile, is certainly in abundance here, but I'm afraid I can't make any sense of it!

andy19191
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

> Personal revelation on meaning of the word "sound" [...]
> Does this make sense?

As a logical explanation of previous posts no. The word sound has a clear meaning in referring to the acoustic waves in a medium. The perception of sound occurs in the brain and is something else.

> In which case, you can rest assured than I'm not battling opponents, or
> trying to deliberately mislead, as you fear.

Why should I fear? I am observing you and others defend your beliefs and trying to sidestep reason.

> My interest is simply to understand where people are coming from.

This is my interest also.

> I am interested in the proposition that that all amps sound the same, as
> well as all cables sound the same.

Since nobody claims all amps or all cables sound the same it does raise the question why? The closest one can get is audiophiles claiming that other people make the claim and nonaudiophiles claiming a particular subset of amplifiers and cables sound the same under certain conditions.

> testing is tough.

Testing is not tough so long as you can think clearly about what is to be tested. What can be tough is overturning beliefs to which one has an emotional attachment and have backed in public.

> Meanwhile -- audio engineers all: Should I expect that all DACs sound the
> same?

The situation is similar to amplifiers. Competent modern DACs even in consumer equipment (e.g. universal DVD players) do not differ by an amount that is audible in controlled listening tests. They can be expected to often differ in uncontrolled listening tests but this is to do with sound perception and not the technical performance of the DACs. However, some older DACs, some very cheap DACs and some expensive "audiophile" DACs will sound different.

> The other aspect of this thread that interests me, the emnity, the dirty-
> wordedness of audiophile, is certainly in abundance here, but I'm afraid I
> can't make any sense of it!

It is easy enough to understand. The non-audiophiles (e.g. Ethan and myself) are asking the audiophiles to defend their flat earth beliefs using reason (e.g. bjh, yourself,...) which, by definition, they cannot do. This leads to a degree of emotional engagement and the adoption of diversionary debating tactics.

DUP is an exception in that he is arguing against audiophile beliefs but is clearly emotionally engaged in the way that Ethan and myself are not. I suspect that this is because he wants to be part of the audiophile tribe but on his terms. I suspect he would be a fair bit happier if he went off and joined another tribe like Ethan and myself.

bjh
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

"adoption of diversionary debating tactics"

That's rich coming from a guy who argues that one requires a muanced approach when interpreting the dogmatic declarative pronouncements of Peter Aczel!

ROFL

andy19191
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

> That's rich coming from a guy who argues that one requires a muanced
> approach when interpreting the dogmatic declarative pronouncements of
> Peter Aczel!

So if you do not like what someone has said there is no need to argue against it but to substitute an alternative and then argue against that? When you do this you declare yourself to be dishonest and will be treated accordingly.

bjh
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

When I was young I swiped a quarter from my mother's purse and denied it when questioned. Clearly it was just a short two step from there to developing into a cable loving lying audiophile.

{sigh}

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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

LOL

RG

trevort
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word


Quote:
The word sound has a clear meaning in referring to the acoustic waves in a medium. The perception of sound occurs in the brain and is something else.


look to
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sound
Note that the first definition is "sensation" (ie perception ) of sound.
Second definition is "mechanical" (ie acoustic) meaning of sound.

I hope this is enough to show that there is room for using sound to mean the perception of sound in our discussion. Then you can re-consider this thread, keeping in mind that sense of word in the phrase "sounds the same".

Also, its interesting that you build up the idea that there are camps within this forum -- non-audiophiles and audiophiles, and you put me into one of these camps. As a newbie, I've used the terms audiophile, objectivist, subjectivist, in an exploratory manner, especially in the sense that they apply to my beliefs. So far, I would say that all three terms apply to me in some sense their meaning.

Not that I disagree that there is a tendency for some to try to polarize the community. I wonder how many others would be keen to align themselves with your camp, as you claim.

Thanks for you perspective on DACs. Given this, I'm all the more curious to test whether my perceived differentiation holds up when I get the chance to test blind.

andy19191
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

> I wonder how many others would be keen to align themselves with your camp, as you
> claim.

What claim? I used the word tribe rather than camp in order to include an emotional attachment. My tribe is the one that values scientific knowledge and reason which has been both an interest and the day job for many decades. Numbers are still significant but have been falling recently.

Windzilla
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

sounds multiple definitions, perception and what-not

this is a very useful and overlooked point TTT. how we perceive sound is a complex science in and of itself, one which lies largely outside the realm of electronics engineering.

This
Record Producer turned Neuroscientist has some very very interesting research in this area, I recently found his scientific publications and have yet to digest any of them, but it definitely looks very intriguing.

-Moderator, and thread contributors

I think this thread isn't contributing well to the "entry-level" forum and may be happier over in general rants and raves, is it possible to move it? what do ya'll think?

cheers

ethanwiner
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

I'm with you 100 percent Andy, except:


Quote:
The non-audiophiles (e.g. Ethan and myself)


I very much consider myself an audiophile because I love music and audio. In my career I've taken that love even further because I'm a musician, composer, recording engineer, and (semi-hack) circuit designer. As I see it, the difference between me and some other audiophiles is I firmly believe in science and the scientific method. As the son of a psychotherapist I also have a pretty decent grasp of psychology.

--Ethan

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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word


Quote:
I had a look at your site, interesting, but to tell the truth I couldn't help but get the impression (e.g. http://www.ethanwiner.com/myths.html) I was in the presence of Peter Aczel's Mini-Me. Anyway as your confidence is obviously self-awing I'll leave you in peace to enjoy it.


Again, nothing of substance, no refutation of the content of my posts or article. Only insults and a sort of reverse "argument from authority" aligning me with Peter Aczel. (Who I heard of only relatively recently.)

--Ethan

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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

W:
What a curious turn for a career! I read the abstracts for several of these articles. I must say I'm more interested in exploring psycho-acoustic phenomena than neurological - the latter gets too heavy too fast for me.

This waltz through the documents made me think that one reason why a listener might perceive a difference when there is no physical change. The amount of attention one pays to listening has a huge impact on what one perceives -- obvious enough, I think. Certainly, if I'm tired or distracted I will find the music less engaging.

If buddy buys a new gadget, he may well be excited, more engaged etc. and thus will listen more closely, hear more, and voila -- perceives the music differently!

For all the talk of loudspeakers, room treatments making the most difference in perceived sound, surely it is our ATTENTION that has the greatest effect of all.

And perhaps its the hardest to achieve/control.

andy19191
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

> I very much consider myself an audiophile

How curious. Among my peers if they use the word audiophile at all it is as a mildly derogatory term. Audio enthusiast, hi-fi buff or similar being mainly neutral.

I am aware that with the decline of the term high fidelity youngsters tend to use the word audiophile widely but you appear to be of my generation and presumably therefore remember a time when there was a booming high fidelity industry and no audiophile industry. Or was the word in common use in America in the late 60s and early 70s? Or was the marketing based "subjectivist" sector of the industry not referred to as audiophile when it emerged in the mainstream in the late 70s? Or...

Windzilla
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

This is what i was attempting to express earlier, that there are many out there, or at least in here, that are both among objectiveists and also concider themselves audiophiles. I don't know what the common usage of audiophile is, but among my peers, it implies nothing about there understanding or aptetude in scientific persutes, young and old alike.

cheers!

trevort
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

Blind test results.

Got my wife to administer the test described in the previous post:
CD > preamp (via internal dac)
CD > external dac > preamp

She played the same (about 30 second) musical snippet 10 times, recording which preamp input she selected.
She made distracting noises and extra clicks of the preamp input selector.
Sometimes she played the snippet with the same input selected, sometimes she switched.
She had her back to me, and we didn't talk during the test
She didn't know which input selected which, or even in any detail what I was listening for.

My score was 9 out of 10 selections correct. Only the first one I got wrong. After a few listens, I had a pretty high degree of certainty which one I was listening to, one was noticably richer and smoother.

Still doubtful is whether sound levels are matched to within .15 db. Is it possible the one dac is louder than the other, and that is what I was hearing as increased richness? It didn't sound louder.

trevort
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

Coming full circle

I certainly didn't consider audiophile to be a dirty word until reading the wikipedia article. And then it only made sense after reading the talk page, whereby one contributor in particular hammered home a rather negative onslaught.

It seems to me the term itself is inherently neutral -- meaning roughly "sound lover". I would be happy to associate with such a label. It is only a minority that seems to try to give it a negative connotation.

Somewhat similar to, say, afro-americans that have been called a term that is essentially neutral, but so often laced with hate that it becomes a negative term by usage.

And like some brave afro-americans of late, I say we stand up and claim the name, reapproprating it with pride.

I am an Audiophile!!!

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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

You heard correctly is my guess--- there are huge variables in DACs. It should be obvious really- it's the reason there are so many CD players. Many ways to skin the cat, some better than others. HOWEVER, and this gets us RIGHT back to where some can't let go of, the digital cable IMO can make a difference in sonic signature too.

Gentlemen, you may fire when ready... Heheh.

Seriously, the digital cables can loose or change data. How much? I let my own ears be the judge. Anyway, the DAC itself would account for 90% of what you heard. But which one won for you? Internal or external, and what were the brands?

andy19191
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

> She played the same (about 30 second) musical snippet 10 times,

Audible memory is short and this form of listening is not the most sensitive for picking up small differences in the sound field. You will usually pick up difference better if you are able to instantly switch back and forth and move around to find the bits that may hold audible differences. On the other hand, it is likely to be more sensitive than a gap of a few minutes while hardware is physically swapped.

Music is also not the most sensitive test when trying to find audible differences and your results are likely to change with the type of music and the form of the small differences. (As well as all the other things like concentration, tiredness, alcohol, etc...).

> My score was 9 out of 10 selections correct. Only the first one I got
> wrong. After a few listens, I had a pretty high degree of certainty which
> one I was listening to, one was noticably richer and smoother.

Yes. When repeating the same sound the brain can focus on different aspects until it has picked up what to listen for. The perception of the same sound before and after can be quite different. This is similar to the video at the beginning and your observation that musical colleagues already knew what to listen for but you needed a bit of time to hear the same thing.

In audibility experiments one would usually either go up the learning curve before the test or only hear the sound once. It depends on what form of perception is being tested.

> Is it possible the one dac is louder than the other, and that is what I was
> hearing as increased richness?

I am afraid it is a significant possibility.

> It seems to me the term itself is inherently neutral -- meaning roughly
> "sound lover". I would be happy to associate with such a label.

This is often how people who identify themselves as audiophiles like to think of themselves but it is not necessarily how they are seen by others. Do believers in a flat earth see themselves in the same way you see them?

> It is only a minority that seems to try to give it a negative connotation.

Possibly but that minority are the ones with a technical knowledge in the area and/or a genuine interest in sound quality in the accurate/neutral sense. Ethan disagrees and so it is not 100%

Audiophile is the word that believers in the magical properties of home audio hardware use to describe themselves and hardware so endowed. What other word are those that work with scientific knowledge about sound/audio going to use to label this group which has come to largely dominate the expensive end of the home audio sector? Will they use it as a positive, neutral or negative term?

> Somewhat similar to, say, afro-americans that have been called a term that
> is essentially neutral, but so often laced with hate that it becomes a
> negative term by usage. And like some brave afro-americans of late, I say we
> stand up and claim the name, reapproprating it with pride.

Not at all. Audiophile is a recent word adopted by the '"subjective" assessing of audio' movement that first appeared in the mainstream in the late 70s to distinguish themselves from the high fidelity mainstream. As a new word associated with contentious beliefs and an evolving group of people I would suggest that having an inconsistent meaning is pretty much inevitable.

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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

dbowker:

The cd player is a Mission, I think it is just called cd-1. It dates from the early-mid 90s. The external unit is a Bel Canto dac 2, which I liked better. When I bought it, it was to replace the internal dac in my airport express, but at the time, I thought it made the cd player sound better as well.

As I entered the audiophile fray, I got to wondering if, in fact, I could really hear a difference between anything, or whether it was all psychological. Now I have some confidence that my ears are not totally deceiving me. The difference was only detectable by sitting down and listening carefully -- I would not be surprised if I couldn't hear any difference in the interconnects -- but if several components each provide as much difference as changing the dac, the overall effect is probably dramatic.

andy:

Its true, in my listening, I looked for certain artifacts that distinguished the two sounds. For example, this recording was a live vocal performance, and when a solo singer did a short phrase then stopped, the echo through the church that was clearly different between the two. On the other hand, having a stretch of music provided a bit of "rest" for the concentration, so I could wait, then focus in on the telling artifact. After I got used to the two sounds, I got so I could just "tell", and used the few special spots to verify. I think just popping back an forth could get a bit confusing without the rest periods to gather the concentration.

If I knew (or thought) that the earth was flat, I wouldn't really care what the world thought. I could be a proud flat earther. Maybe I'm just insensitive.

Likewise, knowing that music is lovable, I can wave my freak flag and be a proud audiophile.

Looking in from the outside, it has been hard to see why anyone would paint someone who loves sound negatively, unless they thought that sound is not worthy of the attention.

all and sundry:

Doing my listening test, one of the strongest impressions I got was how different recorded sound is from live sound. We have a long gap to close in our pursuit of getting near to that lovable sound. Its like a long distance call from a friend. There's so many barriers between the performer, through the recording equipment, the recording, the playback system, the room, to be received by the listener. The desire to get close is powerful for an audiophile, and so they would like to make each barrier as transparent as possible.

I've decided right now - having survived my first post, I have gotten a better idea of what's going on with the term audiophile, not only am I going to parade myself around as one capital A audiophile, I'm going to leave others to work toward optimizing the playback system, there's lots of talk about that. I'm going to get all old-timey religion on the perception barrier. I'll read a bunch of Windzilla's articles and with every post, I'll rant on the importance of paying attention, actually hearing the sound, blah blah, whether its relevant or not.

ethanwiner
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word


Quote:
Doing my listening test, one of the strongest impressions I got was how different recorded sound is from live sound. We have a long gap to close in our pursuit of getting near to that lovable sound.


Yes, and most of that difference is the affect of the room you listen in. I've been hammering on that for 20+ years now but, sadly, more people have heard of Monster Cable than RealTraps and RPG. If a recording is made well, and captures the ambience and spaciousness of the concert hall, and the recording is played back in a well-treated listening room, you'll get as close as possible to hearing the original sound.

--Ethan

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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word


Quote:

Quote:
Doing my listening test, one of the strongest impressions I got was how different recorded sound is from live sound. We have a long gap to close in our pursuit of getting near to that lovable sound.


Yes, and most of that difference is the affect of the room you listen in. I've been hammering on that for 20+ years now but, sadly, more people have heard of Monster Cable than RealTraps and RPG. If a recording is made well, and captures the ambience and spaciousness of the concert hall, and the recording is played back in a well-treated listening room, you'll get as close as possible to hearing the original sound.

--Ethan

Questions:

Even if my room has lots of comb filtering, wouldn't a great speaker and sound system still be able to give me the impression of the speakers presenting open windows into the original preformance...as though they were doing that in my room?

Even if my room has comb filtering, wouldn't good imaging still be able to give the impression of the performance occuring "in my room?"

These seem as though they may be a little comb filter independent as far as listening goes.

Having a system/speaker that was "perfect" should sound the same "in my room" as would two magical windows that opened out into the actual live performance, no?

At some point, live sound trumps comb filtering effects.

I can tell the difference between a live violin in my listening room vs. a violin recording...yet they both occur in the same room. Does my room not comb filter the live music and then magically appear when I play a recording?

I believe in room treatments for comb filtering, no problem there, but there is more to it than that.

Elk
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

Buddha, I agree. While room treatment is extremely important and makes a tremendous difference we haven't even begin to approach capturing and reproducing live acoustic instruments.

We are now at the point that we can create wonderful facsimiles of instruments. Yet we have a long way to go to accurately reproduce a single instrument, let alone two or more playing simultaneously.

To take out room effects is anyone aware of measurements taken of a instrument played in an anechoic chamber which is simultaneous recorded, and the sound of the recording played back by high quality equipment in the same chamber? I wonder how close the measurements would be. I also wonder how different live and recorded would sound.

bjh
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

Buddha and others,

You might want to take a look at room evaluation Musical Articulation Test Tones (MATT) test and evaluation service offered by ASC.

I admit, perhaps despite appearances, that I have been mulling over the comb filtering theory quite a bit. Yet I must say that while I can certainly notice considerable differences changing from my normal listening position to something more resembling near field, i.e. a few feet forward, I certainly don't notice any significant difference shifting my position by mere inches. The only time I find such minor changes to be significant is when centering the image while listening to mono material; as far as tonal differences go I can't say I notice much not even when I completely abandon the central image (for mono) because I'm feeling lazy and lay out on the couch (which puts my head almost in line with one of the speakers and no where near centered).

My curiosity lead me to finding the ASC MATT material which I must say seems sensible especially as it (according to the text) correlates easily preceivable effects to various room characteristics (see section "Demo the Defect - Room Articulation").

It seems to me that the MATT poses an opportunity to test the comb filering theory, specifically by performing MATT recordings (see link) for various positions that vary by inches. One would expect to see significant variance in the MATT plots if in fact position variances are as significant as suggested by the Ethan's comb filtering proposition. Of course if the MATT plots showed little variance that would cast doubt on the theory.

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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word

Very helpful post about the test. I was looking around the net for something similar to the MATT. Thanks.

ethanwiner
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Re: Discovering "audiophile" is a dirty word


Quote:
Even if my room has lots of comb filtering, wouldn't a great speaker and sound system still be able to give me the impression of the speakers presenting open windows into the original preformance...as though they were doing that in my room?


I don't see how. All the good goodie goodness coming out of your loudspeakers will be stepped on by the side wall and other reflections.


Quote:
Even if my room has comb filtering, wouldn't good imaging still be able to give the impression of the performance occuring "in my room?"


No, because real instruments radiate sound very differently from loudspeakers. So the reflections are more coherent, and thus damaging, with speakers as the source.


Quote:
I can tell the difference between a live violin in my listening room vs. a violin recording...yet they both occur in the same room. Does my room not comb filter the live music and then magically appear when I play a recording?


Again, this is probably due mostly to the radiation pattern of a real violin.

--Ethan

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