For years you've been reading great reviews on turntables in both Stereophile and TAS. It's accepted that a table and the parts to a table are highly tunable and just the slightest adjustment can make or break the sound or change it to almost any desired flavor the more skilled you become at tuning them. In audio the turntable and the microphone are two examples of vibrations meet electricity. This meeting of mechanical, electrical or electromecanical happens throughout your entire audio chain and is what makes your components, speakers, parts and pieces sound like they do. For years you have been exposed to the flavors and sonic taste of some of the most brilliant audio designers out there. Some are engineers, some are artist, and I have no doubt that in the original environment these products are designed and built in the sound is fantastic. But what happens when the product is shipped and the conditions of the electromechanics are completely different in the new location? I have been studying this for years and have had equipment sent around the world so that I may test the difference between when it leaves the factory and when it arrives at a new set of sonic parameters. You don't have to be a scientist or physicist to understand that an audio product changes in sonic character as it is put into a different environment, but you can be if you want or do a little studying and find out that an audio product that is put in two different environmental conditions sound different. They will sound different even if moved to a different location in your home. The vibratory code of one place is completely different than the next. Why is this a big deal? Because your audio signal is in the range of vibrations that are highly sensitive to energy sources that in and outside of the component change the sound of the audio language passing through.
If your sitting there listening and know sometime isn't quite right with your sound you may want to keep reading.
When I was first aware of this I thought if we dampen the physical parts in a component and shield this will act as a barrier and block out the "bad". I saw many go down this path and I likewise explored it in great detail and at great exspense. But the more I looked into this I kept coming out with weird results. If I dampened the signal even a little I lost part of the sound. Part of the music whether it be air or dynamics, size, shape or pace and presence all changed and became out of balance. Another thing I noticed and is what drew the line for me is when I made these attempts and the soundstage and size of instruments shrunk. Once this sound and these characters were in my head they stuck out and as I went to shows, dealers, reviewers, and designers I heard and kept hearing this problem. I started making products that allowed people to tune the vibrations of their components, but I was not doing this long before I realized we had a major problem in this industry. High End Audio had put the wheels in motion to make bigger and better in their minds and there was no stopping this train. As I read the reason (not many took the time to say why BTW) behind making all these thick parts and pieces I made my own research facility that was all about vibration and energy. My studying and listening was based on how the audio signal is being affected by it's surroundings. To my surprise when studying the dissipation factor I found that I could change the audio signal with mechanics up to 40 feet away from the source. This was so amazing to me and the people around me that it was hard for the audiophile engineer types who worked with and for me to get their minds around. I hired musician audiophiles and we went to town. It got to the place where I could stand in my equipment control room and make variable changes of great degrees just by changing the tension of chassis and movement of parts in the tiniest amounts. This same tuning technique and others including field movements and mechanical transfer I tried on everything audio I could get my hands on with the same results. Mechanical conduits that host the audio signal and all the materials they are touching from the lead on the resistor, to the circuit board, stand offs, chassis, stands, floors and structure all play a part in the sound, as well does the acoustical sound pressure of a room for those who have their components in the room with them.
how much of a difference?
I had some audiophiles change parts to their amplifiers and preamps and players, going from stock to well reviewed audiophile parts that were recommended for those components and had them test the difference from the sound of these components to the sound changes that could be made by tuning the component and in every case the tweak came back to me with the same answers. They could do much more with a little tuning than changing the parts. They also were able to make variable tuning moves (variable sonic signatures) with transfer tension tuning, compared to the parts changing which only gave them fixed (one sound) changes. Another interesting part to this was the guys even were able to tune their components to the sound of the audiophile part change while using the stock parts. We had fun sitting in the rooms saying here's the brand X sound and the brand Z just by making the systems tunable. An interesting fact, the instruments after the varible tuning was done were more in pitch than with the fixed parts. I did a demonstration of this with a recording of the Indianapolis symphony where some of the string players were telling me that in the recoding the cello and violins sounded out of tune with each other. With me adjusting (tuning the equipment and speakers) and them listening we put the recording in tune in front of a few wide eyed audiophiles.
In my high end audio life I've watched fads come and go and with each one I keep wondering what the audiophile world is waiting on? An industry made of a bunch of fixed products makes little sense to me after seeing how tunable we can make audio reproduction. The greatest part to what I have learned is what I am saying can't be proven wrong and this isn't about me. Hundreds if not thousands of audiophiles are already tuning and as people begin to do this more they are going to find a totally new part to high end that is bigger than they have ever been a part of before. Think about it, the very thing that makes us so fasinated with turntables can be done with everything in the audio chain. Guys we've only just begun. We've gone all the way over to the dead side and it's time to come back. Time to learn vibration is not distortion but energy wanting and needing to be tuned, and most importantly tuned to your individual space and even for the extreme each recoding.
Won't you be surprised when you find that the recording you paned actually sounds quite nice? Or that sonic problem you can fix? As you shed the audiophile over build and dampening and learn how to tune you will find a clarity and dynamic range and stage you never thought would be possible. On Tuneland we are tuning systems everyday and I get emails always of people who can not believe they have left so much music behind all these years.
Let me leave you with one quicky. Open your amp or pre or player and look at the transformer. That electromagnetic field generator is sitting bolted down and maybe dampened causing it to not be able to adapt to another environment than the one it was tested and installed in. The more locked down and dampened the more closed in the sound. Free the transformer and listen to how much your sound changes. If it's a good transformer for audio you will hear the sound open up and get better dynamic range. Over dampened transformers shut down harmonics creating a very fixed sounding signature and not able to recreate the sense of air around the recorded instrument. I'm not hear to tell you not to like that sound only to show you that an audio system should be made variable so you can either get the original sound of the component or the original sound of the music.
This is one of many simple test anyone can do to get them to start thinking about the hobby as something different from plug and play and disatisfied.
Why is high end audio not tunable yet?