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gdg
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Overlooked technologies?

About 1 1/2 years ago, after ten years of experimentation, my system coalesced into something that is so completely satisfying that I seldom even pick up a hifi mag anymore.
The first breakthrough came when I introduced a Tact 2.0s Room Correction Processor/Preamp into the equation. It took a little getting used to and, after a life time of being exposed to the classic 8-12 db room induced bass hump, the sound initialy seemed lean but... I approached the technology with an open mind and, much the way one adjusts to a new improved eyeglass prescription, my I soon adjusted. I can't even imagine going back to an "uncorrected" system at this point but more importantly, I can't understand why this technology has been largely overlooked (save a single review of the first generation units about 5 years ago). It seems to me that we are on the beginnign of a new era in audio, on par with the introduction of Stereo, where digital room correction, in combination with digital crossovers, has the potential to utterly revolutionize the way speakers are designed and setup.
The second major breakthrough was completely unexpected and came as a result of a decision to ripp my music collection to a PC and stream, via a Squeezebox, directly into my digital processors. Using Exact Audio Copy to rip (which rereads the CD up to 50 times in order to extract bit perfect data) in conjunction with the bit perfect transmission (via the 2 way eternet connection of the Squeezebox) made me finally understand what high end transports had been trying to achieve (with limited success) for the last 15 years ie error free bit perfect data. The improvement in sound quality was absolutely stunning.Again this revolutionary technology seems to have been overlooked at Stereophile and I can't understand why.
My setup is relatively modest but, as stated, HUGELY satisfying. I've had many a visitor comment on it's musicality which is particularly impressive from young people who, with good ears and having heard some top end hi- fi systems, generally don't like the hyper detail, finicky setups etc etc.
Here it is:
Remote PC > hardwired to Squeezebox> Big Ben Reclockng device> Benchmark Dac1> Bryston 4bsst (highly recomended by Thiel for their speakers and very very good)> Thiel 2.4 speakers
Gerry

Ps I won't bore people with all the stuff I've tried and auditioned but suffice to say, relying heavily on my musicians ears, I've heard most of what's out there, including the most outrageously expensive stuff available.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Overlooked technologies?

1. The very TacT device you mention was reviewed in Stereophile.
2. How can ExactCopy improve the sound quality of an undamaged CD?

Kal

imispgh
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Re: Overlooked technologies?

I use a Behringer DSP for the exact same purpose. While it is only a solution for the sweet spot it is extremely effective (combined with set up and room treatment). I think it might be nice if Stereophile did an expose on setting up an entire system and tweaking it to perfection (or close). They could use an RTA and show the room interactions, explain the speaker location options, show us what room treatment was used and why and maybe utilize a DSP for final/precise correction. All the while we should be given RTA data to show their progression. Lastly it would be nice to know how they interpret the data and some insight in to decsions that are made based on relevent trade offs. (I would be very curious to see in room response curves of the reviewers main systems. This way we could ascertain their biases, potential hearing irregularitities, competancy and be able to utilize this data when we evaluate their evaluations)

gdg
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Re: Overlooked technologies?


Quote:
1. The very TacT device you mention was reviewed in Stereophile.
2. How can ExactCopy improve the sound quality of an undamaged CD?

Kal

Cd read errors aren't just a result of damage to the surface, they can be a result of mechanical vibration of the
transport mechanism, laser tracking error, out of round cds etc etc. The fundamental problem of any transport is the fact that data must be extracted in real time and if errors occurr these values must be "guessed" using error correction algorithms. Having a Physics backround, when the notion that a copy could be better than the origonal was first suggested, I found the notion ludricrous. The fact that EAC can read and reread on numerous passes combined with the fact that the laser angle can be adjusted on each pass means that it is indeed possible that the copy is more accurate than the origonal. Imagine, if you will, written text that has been damaged or is so small as to be "almost" unreadable. Or... maybe your eyeglasses prescription is no longer effective. If you had to read it quickly there might be instances were you misinterpret or misread. If you have time to examine closely and reread over and over you may be able to extract the exact words (at the expense of continuity and overall comprehension). But once the words are understood one could in theory recreate a new and pristine copy (maybe with larger text) which is easily readable.
Gerry
Ps The above analogies are obvious oversimplifications but I believe they make the general point.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Overlooked technologies?

Point taken. I have used EAC and even when set for optimizing the rip, it rarely ever needs to scan anything more than once except, as I said, for damaged discs. So while I understand and accept your logic, in practice it seems not to be an issue.

gdg
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Re: Overlooked technologies?

Actually Kal,
There is another factor involved: the Squeezebox.
The fact that the Squeezebox is also able to transmit bit perfect data may be where the real improvement lies. The same problem exists for data transmition as exists for reading ie. ERRORS. The squeezebox is able get the data from one place to another with no errors and it is able to to do this very cheaply by taking advantage of current technologies:
a) by using the 2 way comunication of the ethernet to test and correct transmission errors
b)by buffering the data stream so that it does not need to do this in real time.

The bottom line is that I DIDN'T EXPECT ANY IMPROVEMENTS IN SOUND AT ALL by going to a PC based system. The improvements were a surprise and not in any way a result of a placebo effect (which I believe is a huge factor in HiFi).I had done my homework of course (researched EAC and the Squeezebox etc) but I was really only aiming for equaling a decent cdp with the added browse/playlist potential of a computer. I simply happened to be listening one day (about a year after adding making any other changes to my system besides going the PC/sqeezebox) when I notices that the sound had "solidified" in a way that I had never experienced before. In fact it was while listening to the remaster of Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms". The rolling thunder at the begginning of the track sounded so utterly real and substantial that it literally sounded/felt as thought thunder clouds were actually rolling through my apartment. After this I began to notice and criticaly listen for other improvements to the sound. The first and most obvious example was that highs now had an analog quality and had lost the digital "edge" that has been the bain of digital since it's inception. I could go on and on but suffice to say that I consider this discovery particularly credible because there was no "placebo" effect at all (I wasn't expecting it) and the improvements were NOT subtle. My current system (PC/Squeezebox/Big Ben/Dac1) UTTERLY smokes my previous Resolution Audio CD50 and Classe CD10.
Gerry

Ps Reread my above post. I modified it and added some important points about the Tact.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Overlooked technologies?

GDG-
I just wanted to point out that Stereophile has, in fact, covered most of these technologies even though they are outside the mainstream of its readership, at least so far. In addition to what I attempt to cover in Room EQ devices (more coming), JA has discussed the SqueezeBox and EAC has turned up time and again.

Kal

gdg
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Re: Overlooked technologies?


Quote:
1. The very TacT device you mention was reviewed in Stereophile.

Kal

I did note that the first generation Tact was reviewed by Stereophile but I'm surprised that the technology hasn't been followed. While room correction technology represents a substantial step forward in "hi fidelity", when combined with it's digital crossover capabilities the potential is nothing short of revolutionary. Currently speakers must be designed with high and low drivers in the same box in order to achieve proper time and phase integration. The problem is that this involves substantial compromises in terms of the physical placement of the speaker. Placing the speaker near a wall or in the corner improves bass efficiecy, time coherance and minimizes constructive/destructive wave interferance but results in compromized high frequency performance. In order to optimize the high frequency performance (imaging) the speaker needs to be placed away from room boundries and thus bass response is compromised. In addition the drivers must be integrated with electronic analog crossovers which add substantial colourations.
Current digital technology allows the drivers to be housed in separate enclosures and placed in their respective optimal postitions by:
1) digitally crossing the drivers
2) digitally correcting for time a phase

That means woofers can be optimally placed in the corners and integrated seamlessly with remote high frequency satelites placed futher into the room. The Tact 2.2x allows one to do this and the results are both theoretically and practically revolutionary. The main improvement with a this type of system (according to people who have tried it) is in the area of improved bass clarity, speed and time coherance while retaining imaging, correct timbre etc etc. In fact, if I was to upgrade my system, it would involve going this route with a Tact 2.2x, corner loaded woofers and a pair of high frequency satelites (I wish NHT still made the Super Zero. With almost no bass it would be perfect in such a system)
Gerry

gdg
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Re: Overlooked technologies?

Oops Kal,
I posted before I read your responce. One point you make which is important is that the technologies I have alluded to are indeed not "currently" mainstream and thus subject to the inertia historically associated with change. My father, who grew up with tubes and was around for advent of stereo, makes an interesting historical point. He claims that people initially resisted the introduction of "stereo". People had grown so accustomed to the "in a barrel" sound of mono speakers that they believed that stereo sounded "unatural". That may explain why, when I bring this stuff up
over at Audio Asylum I get lots of flac.
Gerry

Ps I also didn't notice that the modifications (re Tact) to my second post didn't take. Hence the last post.

smejias
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Re: Overlooked technologies?


Quote:
JA has discussed the SqueezeBox

You can read about John's experience with the Squeezebox here. And a thorough "Follow-Up" report will be published in our September issue.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Overlooked technologies?


Quote:

Quote:
1. The very TacT device you mention was reviewed in Stereophile.

Kal

I did note that the first generation Tact was reviewed by Stereophile but I'm surprised that the technology hasn't been followed.

Considering it ain't yet mainstream, I also covered the NHT xD speakers, Audyssey EQ in the Denon AVR and the Meridian MRC in the Ref861.

Kal

gdg
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Re: Overlooked technologies?

I guess I didn't title my initial post very well. What I should have said is "Why aren't current revolutionary digital technologies a point of focus".

Gerry

Ps I had read JA's review and my only quibble is that to my ears, as a transport, the squeezebox is not only the equal of any conventional transport I've ever heard, but indeed better. The diffence may be because, before my processors (Tact and Benchmark), I run the Squeezebox into a the Big Ben reclocking device.(and I use EAC, not iTunes)

gdg
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Re: Overlooked technologies?


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
1. The very TacT device you mention was reviewed in Stereophile.

Kal

I did note that the first generation Tact was reviewed by Stereophile but I'm surprised that the technology hasn't been followed.

Considering it ain't yet mainstream, I also covered the NHT xD speakers, Audyssey EQ in the Denon AVR and the Meridian MRC in the Ref861.

Kal

Point taken.
The NHT review did catch my eye and prompted me to wonder why Tact doesn't hook up with a great speaker manufacturer and come up with a digitally crossed/corrected speaker system and while we're at it... let's make the dang thing active too!

Gerry

Ps Active speakers are another obvious area where the audophile community has missed the boat. (I had a pair of Paradigm Active 40s that, at that price point, were utterly mind boggling (Tact corrected to tame the bass of course)).

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