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michael green
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Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
one big musical instrument

If someone came to you and gave you the choice between a totally tunable system able to make any sound you wanted or the best of the best component mix, which would you choose?This hobby has two worlds that sometimes are housed in the same home and yet could not be more different from each other.

What makes the stock world different from the tweak world? First thing is the stock world implements design into the system that is something other than sound. The question is do these things hurt the sound?

We don't talk a lot about the kit, but this was the beginning of high end and when you think about our garrage hobby it's still the case with maybe a prettier face on it. Over the years we have made the audiophile hobby into a beautiful piece of visual art, but as this hobby progresses there is one problem that has never been completely addressed. In other hobbies and with other types of products we usually don't have a bunch of parts and pieces that need to be put together to work. The car comes prepackaged, so does the boat, but as you get more involved in any hobby you find that you have to play a part in the outcome of performance. In high end audio your also dealing with something that is quite unusual the "audio signal", "electromagnetics" and "soundwaves". Your sound is totally dependant on your environment and the electricity that flows from a power plant. When you first got turned on to this hobby it was about walking into a room somewhere, a store or friends, and the room was filled with music. The more you got into it the more you started to identify with something we call the soundstage. You sit in a room and it feels like the performers are playing around you, or you are watching them in your minds stage. You joined a hobby that is making sound visual. The better the stage the more you see the engineered recording come to life. There's really nothing like it.

I was much like anyone else pulled into it. So much so that I became an artist, engineer, store owner and high end audio designer. Getting in the new product every month was one of the funnest times of my life. That was until the sound hit the wall. My personal wall started when running sound for the Atlanta Symphony and came home to a soundstage that was tiny compared to the real deal, or recording in Miami and going to my store or sitting in the control room and hearing something that sounded like a boxed in version of the recording instead of what was being done at the studio. Something is happening between the live room and the playback that is keeping the "whole picture", "the absolute sound" from coming through. This became my quest for life and "the soundstage" became everything. I went to every show and visited as many experts as I could, had products made for me and owned almost every stock product on the planet, at least enough to tell me there was a problem. The problem was I realized that this hobby was trying to package something as if it was to be unpacked, plugged in, then played giving the whole picture of the recording. I spent every dime I had going down this road, and read every word. Still the hobby never grew into "real". It got really expensive and really pretty, but not real. I wanted to hear a soundstage like I heard when I walked into a room full of music. Everytime I visited a reviewers or hobbiest home I kept thinking why is this so small, and why are these guys talking about this as if it were "the real thing"? I kept hearing this same basic audiophile box everywhere I went, and heard some of the greatest talk and read some of the greatest writting, but it wasn't until I started to break out of the stock shell before I heard what I was hunting for. After I heard it, I began working on a path, a method, to make this a reality, something that was repeatable, and something that was predictable. My journey in no time started to take me out of the mainstream mainly because of two issues. Stock was not going to get there, and every environment was completely unique and needed to be treated as an individually unique setup. How unique is the scary part, and how many are really going to do what it takes to hear "the absolute sound" is a marketing question that may never get answered.

My starting place is here though. If you are listening to your system with two speakers in the room and not hearing the entire room, and outside the room fill up with front to back, side to side, and a far over head soundstage, you are not hearing the whole recording. Fact is there are people who say that the average audiophile is maybe hearing 10% of the music content. I would call this outrageous if I hadn't hear this for myself and been experiencing it for 20 some years now. Is this a line? Ask the people who are also listening to it. Many who when hearing it for the first time had to wonder what was wrong. Why is this so different from the sound and soundstage that is being pushed by the hobbies leaders? My answer is and always has been the same. Because the hobby's leaders are listening to stock and have no reference other than what they been exposed to.

Early on in the beginning of RoomTune I enjoyed hanging out with some of the reviewers and exploring the beginning of an expanding soundstage. The memory of Tom Miiller making his famous breakfast sandwich as we got ready for a day of listening still puts a smile on my face :) . We were right there at the beginning of a "revolution". A time of breaking out of the box, making the room into a component. I can remember thinking "well they got it now" "time to move to the next step". The next step setting the equipment free, but I made a mistake. I thought that by tuning stock equipment I would be able to tune the vibrations allowing the signal to pass through giving more of the signal. It did indeed work with many components and speakers but I didn't count on one thing. If the speaker or component was over built it was going to close in the sound even further, instead of opening up the harmonics it instead would squeeze them. Rats! Still indroducing clamping and tuning was pretty successful except that the weirdest thing happened in this hobby of reproducing music. For some really odd reason the industry decided to move away from the way musical instruments were built and moved toward the way army tanks were. The theory was born that if something vibrates it will distort. Even though this completely flies in the face of music creation from a scientific and practical view, the boat anchor age was born. You would have thought that as with all other industries becoming more efficient by going less mass and instruments themselves being designed to vibrate on purpose not to distort, that high end audio would have followed this natural progression, but the industry took a completely "away from music and science" approach. When I sat at TuneVilla and reviewed these products for myself I was in shock. The soundstage with 80% of high end audio shrunk a good 25%. What was worst was that it seemed like no one was paying attention. Bigger was better, heavier, more mass, much higher price tag, killing the rooms sound, all the things you would have thought should be outlawed for music sake became the norm. Shaking my head I had to step away and take a look at what was happening. What I found changed the way I viewed the hobby ever since.

It's painful when you see something happen that you know is going to have to come all the way back and head the opposite direction to advance, but these types of things I guess have to take place in order for people to explore what works and what doesn't. There's also the whole ego thing to deal with and that may be the toughest hurdle to jump. Saying that though is not so tough for me cause I've listened to both sides very closely now for many years and can see that if not now, then later the direction change will happen. How the writters and designers deal with this is up to them, but as components and speakers become more like musical instruments you will see some huge open doors for the industry.

High end audio has always needed to be more of a participant sport than just plug and play and no matter how many dollars you throw at a guitar or piano or audiophile system your going to have to tune it before music comes out. You can rant and rave all you want but if you want more than basic sound that is playing in the typical high end audiophile box you are going to have to break a few eggs and get cooking.

michael green
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Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
so I got an email

I've been getting emails and notes from listeners wanting to give their comments about some of the things I've been saying on this forum. One comment is that I seem to be flying in the face of the established. I asked the one guy "what do you think". His reply was "do you not think that these guys know what they are doing". My answer was simple. "I am these guys".

I asked this fella what his amp was. Then I asked if he was able to lift the transformer in his amp up and set it on wood. His first answer back to me was all the reasons he shouldn't but I asked again did you do this or not. Finally he did the experiement and got back to me with a Wow! I next asked if he liked soldering. He did and changes parts regularly in some of his stuff. I had him extend the leads on his amp transformer and move it outside of the chassis on it's own piece of tuned wood. "my soundstage doubled and I can hear what was missing"

Got another email saying that since he started tuning and has been trying to talk to others about it he gets blank stares and dead silence from the audiophiles.

I think this is why music lovers don't get audiophiles. I can bring an audiophile into one of my rooms and he is stuck cause the system is so simple and the sound is so real. He's lost and trying to come up with why something has to be wrong and isn't. He will say well I like this and not that, so I will make the change with my tunable setup and he really gets scared now. I bring a music lover into my room and play the same piece of music and they are tapping their toes looking around the room smiling. I do the same thing for them (make a change) and they say "that makes sense".

It makes sense to make a system like a big musical instrument. So I have to wonder why the audiophile has resisted so long what the rest of the world sees as normal for music and the making of it. I can give example after example of how this is happening and lets start with the word inert.

We must build our systems inert, really? Let me look up inert.

Definition of inert (adj)

Bing Dictionary

in·ert

[ i núrt ]

 

  1. motionless: not moving or not able to move
  2. nonreactive: not readily changed by chemical or biological reaction
  3. sluggish or unmotivated: lacking in energy or motivation

Everything I know about music or audio says inert is not a good thing. Every experiment I have made or seen anyone else make says the same thing. Audio is vibration, audio is motion, audio is energy. The audio system is based on reaction. Where does inert fit into the audio equation? So the signal is suppose to pass through the audio chain without motion?

Ok, what about damping? nah, I'll leave that one alone for now.

A listening buddy of mine said as we were talking about why this part of the hobby is so stuck. "there is a difference between a music lover and a audiophile engineer". It's his opinion that this is a hobby of engineers and not one of listeners. This may very well be why the audiophile has such a hard time getting good sound and the artist listening type finds good sound easy. He's right I think. When I'm with an artist type it's like tune and tweak and there. With the engineer type it's tune, wait a minute, side step, try this, can't get that to work, debate. Two clearly different types of hobbyist. I have noticed that the engineer can't quite put the soundstage together and gets off into test and placement and talk about the things that should work, but when they go to do it, it doesn't. I've also noticed when frustrated they will say that their tiny sound is right and the rest is distortion. So what about distortion.

Definition of distortion (n)

Bing Dictionary

dis·tor·tion

[ di stáwrsh'n ]

 

  1. misleading alteration: the describing or reporting of something in a way that is inaccurate or misleading
  2. reconfiguration from correct shape: the bending, twisting, stretching, or forcing of something out of its usual or natural shape
  3. misshapen part: a part of something that has been bent, twisted, stretched, or forced out of its usual or natural shape

So someone makes a real life picture "recorded soundstage" and it is played back on a high end audio system that shrinks it into a box of sound in front of them. This is distortion.

I want to thank the guys who have made this hobby fun for me and have been open minded about the possibilities of stereo and how you have gotten out of the box and keep me pushing toward a bigger picture.

michael green

MGA/RoomTune

michael green
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Last seen: 9 hours 43 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
as people tune

It's been fun getting notes and calls and also people posting on TuneLand from here who are starting to tune. If you ask them you will see that even in a short time the hobby has changed dramatically for them. The biggest change is how much systems will open up and become more "3D".

michael green

MGA/RoomTune

michael green
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Last seen: 9 hours 43 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
The tunable room

Had a chance to visit my tunable studio up in New York and give a room demo. Some of the local engineers were raising their dampened hands in the air and I needed to silence them. Of course you never really silence engineer types cause their on a mission that is usually one that has nothing to do with the topic. They sit there with a rubik's cube in one hand and a Radio Shack test mic in the other. But I had a job to do.

In meeting with them we stood in the middle of the studio talking. I chose this on purpose so the afternoon was about listening rather than talking. They went off on their rants and raves like usual saying how you need to kill the room instead of whatever I do to it. So I asked them to setup the room and record. They did. After, I went into the room and picked one corner of the room that I wanted to tune and began so. Took me about 15 minutes and I asked them to come back in. When they came in I had them record again with the same drum they were using but in the corner of the room I tuned. After the recording was done we went into the control room and we listened to the recordings. We played theirs first and then played the one in the tuned part of the room. First they looked at each other then at me. Excuses started flying when they realized that in the first recording even though they tuned the drum, on the recording it was out of tune, yet recorded in the tuned part of the room the drum was in tune. They wanted to do the recording again but before we did this, I had one of the drummers come in and tune the drum in the part of the studio where I had adjusted the walls putting them intune. The drummer tuned. then I asked him holding the drum to walk from the corner I did to the area that they did with their foam and traps and untuned walls. I pointed out where the tuning ended and the traps and foam and non-tuned part of the walls began. When the drummer walked from the tuned area to the trapped area the drum went out of tune. He walked back over the tuning line and it went back in tune. This was done several times, but the engineers still had a problem with me so I said draw their own line in the room and I will make one half tuned and the other they can treat anyway they want. We did, and the same thing happen. So the one engineer said ok lets tune the drum in our half, so I said sure. You tune the drum in your half, record, then tune the drum in my half and recorded. We did and went into the control room using headphones and the room, and in both cases their drum was out of tune and our half was intune. I went a step further and tuned the control room to our drum and it became even better sounding while theirs got worse.

The tunable room is an amasing tool and goes much further than the other types of rooms out there, but this is not my point. My point is this whole hobby of ours has far more to it than we have uncovered so far. The more we explore how tuning works, the more we are going to hear in our home listening. Those who are exploring tuning their systems are hearing more of the music then ever before in this hobby. I want to encourage you to take even the first step and hear how much more there is. You could be sitting there right now and instead of hearing a small portion of the production, have the whole thing open up like you were there. I know some are going to say you have all this resolution, well if you have the chassis on, and rugs in your room, and the rack between your speakers and your speakers against the same wall and multiple components needing line conditioning, I would bet you your hearing maybe a tenth. Wouldn't you like to hear more? If not that's cool go back to listening no harm done I'm not trying to upset you, but for those who want to hear more, for those who have been messing with this stuff a long time and have a closet full of components and tweaks and garden hoses, are you tired of the chase? After having 5 stereo stores full of this stuff I decided I needed a method of listening instead of piles of equipment.

Time to be thinking about the next step folks. Variable tuning is the next step in high end audio. It's been around a long time and is proven, but the industry needed to go on it's own path to get as far as it could by creating thousands of sounds but that's not enough. Time to open up what we have and head the other way. If your happy with your system I'm happy for you I really am no problem, but if you have been stuck and feel there is something more, there is, and you don't have to be caught in the never ending story.

Just do me one thing, next time your in an instrument store have a guy take a guitar and play it out of tune, have him tune it and play it again. Which did you like?

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

michael green
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Last seen: 9 hours 43 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
Tunable system gathering.

This week there was a gathering at one of the "Tunable Rooms", and I wanted to share the comments as they come in.

"Harold here

I'm wrapping up my Chicago trip and want to give you some feedback. Let me start by saying when Michael tells you, your going to enjoy the tunable room this is one of audio's understatements of the century. I'm going to report more on this when I get settled, but I want to give my first impressions.

When you walk into someone's house and see the room standing there the first thought is "giant musical instrument". Hearing about the tunable room and seeing pictures is one thing, but having one in front of you is an experience that transcends. This is beyond high end audio and makes any listener rethink their priorities. This environment should be at the top of any serious audiophiles list. Forget about all the bells and whistles this hobby throws at you, this is the holy grail of rooms. For some this might have been a "where do I start" moment, but when that adjustment driver was placed in my hand I felt instantly at home. This room talks to you. That may sound odd, but when I sat down I knew what to do. It was like being able to see into the music and the room was guiding me. After listening a minute I made my first adjustment and the room did exactly what I was thinking. I sat back and smiled. After 3 more adjustments, I sat back and my smile turned into a laugh "what is this industry thinking"

I must and will have one

more to come"
_________________________________

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

michael green
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Last seen: 9 hours 43 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
The Tunable Room

Here's more on The Tunable Room visit by Harold Cooper

http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/t211p15-harold-cooper-of-sound-consultants

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

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