JIMV
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Playing small
Jan Vigne
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What other speakers in a real audio system have the same problem.

Virtually any speaker that has a phase/impedance graph that looks like this;
http://www.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/806legacy/index4.html

or this; http://stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/207/index8.html

or this; http://stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/206gen/index3.html

Something like this probably sounds good at low volumes levels; http://stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/669/index6.html

and this; http://stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/104moth/index4.html

from personal experience I can tell you this does well at low volume levels;http://stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/693/index9.html

ncdrawl
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no, what speakers have the same problem Jan... not the good ones.

Jan Vigne
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I don't understand. You want to know what crappy speakers don't sound good?

Most.

dbowker
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I would bet it is (as always) very much amp dependant too. Many amps seem to like it a bit more cranked than low levels so that could very well be a factor. And let's not for get input! Everything out of my CD player needs less volume than my TT setup, which uses a low-output moving coil. So for "low volume listening" on a CD my Krell integrated will be set way down to 03 out of 125, and a record would average about 20. I would guess it all has to go into the mix.

Buddha
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Interesting topic!

I think reviews frequently touch on one aspect of this continuum when they mention speakers' characeristics staying the same or 'becoming strained' at higher volume, but it is rare to see a comment about a speaker's performance at low volume vs. 'normal' volume.

Did Wes Phillips once review the Dahlquist "Macrospeaker/Microspeaker" for which this topic seemed to apply?

I didn't check out Jan's links so as not to bias my reply, but I will in a minute, Jan!

I would think speakers with some lower mid upper bass humps (like the effect of the old 'loudness' button) may get false credit for sounding 'good' at low volumes, but they would not really be 'accurate' transducers.

You mention listening near field, so driver integration may be a bigger issue for you than others, too.

mrlowry
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Magnepans are unbelievably accurate even at whisper quiet levels.

JIMV
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Phase and impedance graphs! You might as well say 'frogs entrails'...I do not read stereophile for graphs.

Lamont Sanford
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I have a small listening room as well in the living room. I generally listen between 80 and 98 dB. Most people know I use two pairs of Sansui 2500 and they sound fine at any level. As for Bose, I have a pair of 201 IV in the bedroom. These are used in conjunction with the television system. Basically, it provides 2 way stereo through a 2 way amp for watching TV. Now, with these they work just fine with the rest of the components to the stereo television at any level since the TV controls the volume and the amp volume is preset to match the volume on the TV. Even on the music channels 80-100 dB is no problem. They actually sound pretty good. That's just me fooling around with sound on a budget.

As an aside, my Tivoli Model One at the office sounds just fine at low volume or high volume. It has one speaker. I run it like a table radio should be run. I don't abuse it. Anyway, its in an office environment. I only turn it when up Sweet Home Alabama comes on. Come to thing about it I've never tested it with my Radio Shack meter.

JIMV
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I agree with that. My previous setup used small maggies with a small integrated tube amp with very good effect.

Jan Vigne
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I do not read stereophile for graphs.

Right, you just buy it for the pictures.

scleary20
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this may be a little off topic but enough on topic for me to feel it worth asking. i have sometimes people refer to reference volume when listening to set of speakers. i just was not sure if anyone else had heard about this, and what it would be.

JIMV
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No I buy it for the writing and the opinion of folk I have learned to trust. If a chart serves to keep you happy, go for it. I like a well written sentence or so.

Elk
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Mastering engineers calibrate their systems to a specific sound pressure level and use this as a reference in a variety of ways.

I believe some reviewers have a preferred listening level and set new setups to this level with pink noise before critically listening.

Perhaps the second example is what you have seen referenced.

Jan Vigne
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Everyone listens at a volume level that is comfortable for their own situation. I once sold a pair of Klipsch Cornwalls to a twenty-something male and after I had delivered and set up the system the new owner opened the windows and walked across the street. I increased the volume until I could no longer tolerate the levels and when he returned he said he thought that should be sufficient for his needs. Another friend occasionally listens until, according to him, his ears hurt. I, on the other hand, listen at very reasonable levels that emphasize the ability of the components to perform at somewhat less than realistic levels for most music. However, the level is appropriate for my listening room.

There is the theory that every individual piece of music has its ideal loudness level, one usually associated with how you would hear the performance in a live setting. This has more to do with acoustic music performed at less than ear splitting levels than it does with stadium rock concerts - Schubert would be played at lower overall levels than Mahler which would still be lower in level than a live metal band. The morning after an Eric Clapton concert I would typically go into the demo room and crank "Cocaine" up on the K'Horns for one more blast of pleasure, then I could go back and enjoy John Lee Hooker on the Celestion SL600's or Quad ESL's at about 90dB.

It is true some systems require some amount of volume before they begin to sound "good". IMO this is a function of speakers that are more than slightly difficult to drive and amplifiers that are less than up to the task. Also, IMO, that would imply speakers should not be difficult to drive. Buy high impedance speakers with a relatively high efficiency and you should have good sound quality at almost any level, assuming, of course, the speaker/amplifier sounds good at a comfortable level also.

That statement ignores the realities of the human hearing mechanism which is subject to a level dependent frequency selective curve in its response. This is why some pre amplifiers/receivers used "loudness" compensation. For more information regarding how your ear/brain works place "Fletcher/Munson loudness compensation" into a search engine.

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No I buy it for the writing and the opinion of folk I have learned to trust. If a chart serves to keep you happy, go for it. I like a well written sentence or so.

Actually, charts do keep me happy. After spending time with JA's charts and graphs, I am disappointed when I read TAS or one of the on line magazine reviewers who wouldn't recognize an oscilloscope if they woke up to one alongside them in their bed. In particular, I find speaker measurements to be of significant value since the subjective reviewer seldom hits on the difficulty of driving a speaker with a real world amplifier. This, IMO, is one of the most common reasons, after buyer's remorse, to explain why audiophiles are often disappointed in a new purchase. They have not taken the time, and no one at the dealership has helped them, to learn how to understand the graphs provided by Stereophile. Those charts and graphs are exactly what would suggest you do not pair certain products with other less capable or less sympathetic gear. They do not grasp the basic electrical interfaces which make a system work well. This goes beyond the written word and beyond what we normally refer to as system "synergy".

If you buy a passive pre amp or an active pre amp with a high output impedance, you should not expect it to drive long interconnects to the power amp without some sacrifice in sound quality. If you have a speaker with a wandering impedance curve, you shouldn't pair it with a tube amplifier with a high output impedance unless you like hearing large peaks in the response of the system. And so on. I like to know whether a pre amp inverts absolute polarity. Stereophile is the only large scale publication that gives me that information.

The charts and graphs are one reason I keep my Stereophile subscription and have let my TAS subscription lapse due to their generally non-informative approach to this hobby.

That said, I greatly enjoy ST and AD when there are no charts and graphs. Their style of writing appeals to me and I get a good sense of how the unit under review performs with music rather than test signals. If I were to consider purchasing a product they have reviewed it would be up to me to gather the requisite information needed, IMO, to make an informed buying decision. And I am keenly aware that AD will generally prefer the musical performance of a single ended triode amplifier while JA will typically find its many flaws when considered on a purely technical basis.

When I received the latest issue of Stereophile, I paged though the magazine from back to front, finding highlighted quotes from the review before I found the reviewer's name at the front of the article. I was able to read the quotes and guess who wrote the review in almost all cases. I find each Sterophile reviewer to have their own style and I can get much more of what interests me from AD than I can from WP. That doesn't mean I don't read WP but I do find the technical information provided as a supplement to both writers a good guide to further understanding what a particular reviewer finds of value in a component and how (or how not) that relates to the essential technical aspects of a component's sound.

Quite honestly, I can't imagine someone interested in this hobby not wanting to know how an amplifier's square wave performce or harmonic distortion component distribution predicts in many ways its overall sound quality. To go back to JGH's assertion when he first started Stereophile, it is not the total HD spec that matters but rather how the various distortion components are distributed throughout that THD value. You can only get that correlation by comparing how the measured distortion components exist against what the reviewer has stated when technical measurements are provided. Reading TAS leaves me feeling like I have not had my dessert after a very good meal. Without the measurements provided in Stereophile, I feel like I've read only the third act of Hamlet.

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That said, I greatly enjoy ST and AD when there are no charts and graphs. Their style of writing appeals to me and I get a good sense of how the unit under review performs with music rather than test signals.

I like when they find something squirrly in a review and have the ability to ship it off for testing. Then, If I am interested in the item, I read the test, but I always skip to the conclusions as I do not understand the techno-babble.

Jan Vigne
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... I do not understand the techno-babble.

Would it be presumptuous of me to say you will learn only by reading what you don't understand? You have to make the attempt to gain knowledge before you can move forward to a better understanding. No one will constantly spoon feed you the information required to make a better buying decision and it is only to your advantage to have this education. But, if you read each measurements section of the review, possibly take notes of what you do not understand, over time you will eventually gain some insight into how the components do what they do when it is explained in a more technical manner than the written subjective review allows.

IMO, this should be a large part of how the Stereophile forum operates rather than the constant bitching about the cost of high end components or how foolish some audiophiles are when they hear an improvement made by switching cables. This forum should be an exchange of available knowledge and not just a place where you come to grouse about something you don't understand or cannot afford. There are some very smart people on this forum - and some who have left forever due to the constant rehashing of cables and this and that which has dominated this forum for the last four years - and those smart people should be providing good answers to questions posed by less educated or less experienced new comers when techincal issues elude their grasp. If those asking the question and those with the knowledge weren't so quick to be offended when their knowledge is questioned, there might be an actual exchange of ideas as found on a few other forums.

Even the smartest and most experienced here might learn something or be reminded of something they have forgotten if the discussions were about something positive rather than the constant negative approach taken by too many members. Unfortunately, the experienced members sometimes resort to a "Hell, I do know it all!" approach to any challenge to their learning or opinion. They prefer to stay stuck where they are and will not risk being wrong on occasion and therefore will defend their position no matter the odds and evidence against them.

This is my deepest regret with the Stereophile forum. I thought there would be smart people willing to exchange ideas about equipment, music and audio in general but mostly what I have found are people more willing to shout the other person down which only leads to more shouting by all parties involved.

But we have strayed off topic.

JIMV
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Actually, I have no idea how my TV, computer, and, for that matter, the firing mechanism on most of my firearms work either. I am perfectly happy to know that each and every time I turn them on or pull the trigger, the device will function as designed. My enjoyment of the hobby is not like that of a gardiner knowing how to make his crop grow and prosper through daily tinkering, but in the joy of pushing that one button 'on' and then having the music I crave appear as though by magic, fully formed in my room. My interests in tweaks is of the swap and change sort, not the guts and innerds of the thing sort. I save my deep understandings for things of more interest to me, like history, civics and politics.

In other words, as Conan Doyle noted a long time ago in 'A Study in Scarlet'

"You see," he explained, "I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones."

Put another way. I find such things as odd quotes of more interest and use to me than electrical theory. Realizing my limits in the area, I go to folk who are experts with my questions.

I thank you for your expertise.

Lamont Sanford
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I don't know much about what makes my sound equipment fire but I sure as hell know how my firearms operate. If I can't take it apart and put it back together with my eyes closed than I'm not about to take it out and shoot it. Remind me not to go to the same range as you.

Elk
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That's fine for my Glock, Buck Mark and other such critters.

My 10 meter race guns I do not take apart, and there is no need to do so.

Then again, I would enjoy seeing someone putting one of these back together with eyes closed. Even putting a Buck Mark together with eyes closed would be quite a trick. An AR-15 - no biggie.

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There is world of difference between managing and operating ones firearms and taking apart ones stereo. If you break down your revolvers to individual screws and parts you are a gunsmith, not a shooter. The equivalent would be to disassemble the stereo down to the individual transistor, cap and resistor....that makes one an electronics tech, not an audiophile.

ncdrawl
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I was the weapons maintenance NCO for my company, knew the 240G, m249b, m16a2,m4 carbine, and 9mm like the back of my hand, could repair, disassemble(could take apart and put together blindfolded any of those) and maintain any of those... but I am a damn good marksman too. Technical knowledge does not diminish the ability to shoot, or listen in any way.. it can only enhance.


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There is world of difference between managing and operating ones firearms and taking apart ones stereo. If you break down your revolvers to individual screws and parts you are a gunsmith, not a shooter. The equivalent would be to disassemble the stereo down to the individual transistor, cap and resistor....that makes one an electronics tech, not an audiophile.

JIMV
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But did your troops need to be able to break down their small arms to the individual screw level? If they did why have such a thing as your specialty?

One does not need to be an electronics tech to enjoy a quality piece of audio gear or to hear a piece of music played back well. There are 75,000,000 gun owners in the USA
and very few gunsmiths yet that hobby thrives.

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Quite honestly, I can't imagine someone interested in this hobby not wanting to know how an amplifier's square wave performance or harmonic distortion component distribution predicts in many ways its overall sound quality.

Square waves are not very helpful for audio. If you

Lamont Sanford
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That's because firearms are simple, especially military firearms. I see your point. You like your firearms, the same as you like your sound equipment, and for the most part they do what you want them to do without having to be an expert at them. But I disdain and watch through the corner of my eye anyone I suspect of owning and firing a firearm with rudimentary or no knowledge. They are easy to spot. There is a lot more at stake with firearms than sound reproduction. I don't interfere with anyone in a showroom jacking around with sound equipment inappropriately. Someone on the range pointing the weapon anywhere but downrange will feel my wrath. Anyone that doesn't or is incompatible of at least being able to field strip their weapons have absolutely no business handling it around other people. On the other hand, I can care less what sound equipment people own and use. Like I mentioned, I get your point, but it is like comparing apples to oranges. A Remington 870, Remington M700/M40, Browning designed 1911, Glocks, XDs, and so forth are designed for a person with minimal instruction to break down, clean, and return to service with little effort. There are occasions where an armorer is needed to service a weapon. Thus, the need for them. As for commercial gunsmiths, if people would learn to tear down their weapons and put them back into service themselves will realize that most of the gunsmiths' work and orders are needless. Money that could be well spent for ammo, targets, and related equipment. I don't have much respect for people that cannot answer simple questions about their firearms. These people are amateurs that will probably end up getting in an accident with their own firearm. Statistics have proven this over and over again. Rarely does someone get maimed or killed because they just enjoying turning up the volume on their sound equipment.

Lamont Sanford
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That's fine for my Glock, Buck Mark and other such critters.

My 10 meter race guns I do not take apart, and there is no need to do so.

Then again, I would enjoy seeing someone putting one of these back together with eyes closed. Even putting a Buck Mark together with eyes closed would be quite a trick. An AR-15 - no biggie.

Exception to the rule, Elk. A $4,000 precision instrument probably have few that can work on it to begin with. Why do you own a race gun, anyhow? Nevertheless, a Browning Buck Mark is no sophisticated firearm. All it needs is field stripping unless something breaks (rare). Even then you should be able to repair it yourself. The XDs and Glocks are simple enough but on occasion, mainly due to abuse, it may need a trip to an armorer or gunsmith. Again, watch some of these morons in the shop. I've them actually bring a weapon in for repair with a round in the chamber. Not cool. A gun store or shooting range is a dangerous place to be. Not because of the products but because of the idiots that own them or want to look at them.

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yes, we all had to know how to break down the weapons and put them back together.. that is a rudimentary thing that all troops should know. I didnt choose it as a speciality.. but the army doesnt work that way.. I was a rifleman in my company(my MOS(job) was 11B ,Light Infantry(as opposed to Mechanized), with an AB identifier. the company lost the weapons guy(armorer) and I was dinged to take his place. the army is built on "hey yous", not personal choices...so I was sent to Armorer school in Hohenfels for a month, and the rest was history.

and no you dont have to be an expert to enjoy music.. but the knowledge I have of the technical stuff makes my listening experience all the more enjoyable. cant suffer from too much knowledge. some chinese dude said that once.


Quote:
But did your troops need to be able to break down their small arms to the individual screw level? If they did why have such a thing as your specialty?

One does not need to be an electronics tech to enjoy a quality piece of audio gear or to hear a piece of music played back well. There are 75,000,000 gun owners in the USA
and very few gunsmiths yet that hobby thrives.

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Even the smartest and most experienced here might learn something or be reminded of something they have forgotten if the discussions were about something positive rather than the constant negative approach taken by too many members. Unfortunately, the experienced members sometimes resort to a "Hell, I do know it all!" approach to any challenge to their learning or opinion. They prefer to stay stuck where they are and will not risk being wrong on occasion and therefore will defend their position no matter the odds and evidence against them.

This is my deepest regret with the Stereophile forum. I thought there would be smart people willing to exchange ideas about equipment, music and audio in general but mostly what I have found are people more willing to shout the other person down which only leads to more shouting by all parties involved.

Jan, I agree with your feelings in the first paragraph quoted above. It doesn't have to be like that. It's difficult to express oneself fully in only the written word. A voice conversation can clear up much that the written words seems to lose.

As for the latter paragraph quoted above, there are "smart" people, and there are "intelligent" people. I like to think that I am one of the latter and I don't think I am one of the former. It doesn't matter either way IMHO, as long as we make sensible remarks in the forum that contribute to the advancement of audio understanding. I have reported my observations honestly and have been met by attacks on my credibility or perceptual acuity (by only a few). Otherwise, we do have exchange of ideas, and want that to continue.

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In fact, I suspect JA could contrive an amplifier circuit that would sound terrible but produce these square waves quite nicely.

Years ago, the late Richard Heyser, well-respected in audio profession, demonstrated a circuit that tested perfectly under the usual tests. It sounded terrible on music. He was making a point.


Quote:
So what do you feel is informative about these plots?

Square waves comprise frequencies that theoretically go up to infinity, in odd harmonic steps of the fundamental. So a 1 KHz square wave can tell you about the circuit up to 10x of that frequency (rule of thumb) and beyond. The shape of the output may not look like the input square wave, which says that something in that range of frequencies is not treated equally. It could be high-frequency roll-off, high-frequency rise, ringing, loss of lows, etc.

It's interesting that Dynaco amps and pre-amps were tested (if I recall, at 100Hz, 1 KHz and 10 KHz) and showed fairly good square wave performance. A reasonably good square wave at 10 KHz impiles good frequency response up to at least 50 KHz or more.

I like others to chime in on this beginnings of an explanation.

Lamont Sanford
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Quote:

Quote:
Even the smartest and most experienced here might learn something or be reminded of something they have forgotten if the discussions were about something positive rather than the constant negative approach taken by too many members. Unfortunately, the experienced members sometimes resort to a "Hell, I do know it all!" approach to any challenge to their learning or opinion. They prefer to stay stuck where they are and will not risk being wrong on occasion and therefore will defend their position no matter the odds and evidence against them.

This is my deepest regret with the Stereophile forum. I thought there would be smart people willing to exchange ideas about equipment, music and audio in general but mostly what I have found are people more willing to shout the other person down which only leads to more shouting by all parties involved.

Jan, I agree with your feelings in the first paragraph quoted above. It doesn't have to be like that. It's difficult to express oneself fully in only the written word. A voice conversation can clear up much that the written words seems to lose.

As for the latter paragraph quoted above, there are "smart" people, and there are "intelligent" people. I like to think that I am one of the latter and I don't think I am one of the former. It doesn't matter either way IMHO, as long as we make sensible remarks in the forum that contribute to the advancement of audio understanding. I have reported my observations honestly and have been met by attacks on my credibility or perceptual acuity (by only a few). Otherwise, we do have exchange of ideas, and want that to continue.

That's why a diverse group is best for the learning experience. I'm low budget. Some people are high budget. Some people know the science. Some people know Kentucky windage. It all works together.

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You are falling into a logic error here, the false either/or argument. Either one has a gunsmiths expertise with his weapons or he spends his range time unsafely pointing weapons willy-nilly everywhere. Either one has a deep understanding of electronics or one can barely turn the gear on and off much less insure the plug is in. The falacy is plain...the world between the extreems.

If is possible to own. clean, and safely use a firearm without being a gunsmith, as demonstrated by 75,000,000 folk a day, just as it is possible to own, use and enjoy a fine audio system without the skill to open the box and play with caps or resistors.

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... these are extremely misleading plots and unless the customer has a thorough understanding of what is being illustrated here, it looks like the Sonic Impact performs ridiculously poorly.

Well, I believe you've made my point about learning how graphs and charts correlate with the written subjective review. Unless the customer has some knowledge of what specific measurements indicate - at least to the extent our present day knowledge can inform us - the uninformed customer is capable of buying a pig in a polk ... sorry, poke. Does that mean you cannot put together a top notch system without any knowledge of how to interpret measurements? No, of course not, no more than choosing a system based solely on measurements would guarantee such luck either. Nor do I consider it necessary to be an engineer or even have extensive grounding in the theories of electricity to understand the basics of what JA's measurements tells us. I can read an Italian menu without being fluent in conversational Italian as spoken in the Piedmont region up by the French border and at the foot of the Swiss Alps. A little knowledge can be sufficient to avoid a costly mistake when ordering dinner or an amplifier.


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Square waves are not very helpful for audio. If you
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Years ago, the late Richard Heyser, well-respected in audio profession, demonstrated a circuit that tested perfectly under the usual tests. It sounded terrible on music. He was making a point.

Quite true, that point being lost on a significant number of audiophiles. However, the over-riding point Heyser was constantly making was, IMO, listen to the music and then find out how the measurements predicted what you have heard.

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You are falling into a logic error here, the false either/or argument. Either one has a gunsmiths expertise with his weapons or he spends his range time unsafely pointing weapons willy-nilly everywhere. Either one has a deep understanding of electronics or one can barely turn the gear on and off much less insure the plug is in. The falacy is plain...the world between the extreems.

If is possible to own. clean, and safely use a firearm without being a gunsmith, as demonstrated by 75,000,000 folk a day, just as it is possible to own, use and enjoy a fine audio system without the skill to open the box and play with caps or resistors.

Huh?

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A $4,000 precision instrument probably have few that can work on it to begin with. Why do you own a race gun, anyhow?

I've got a couple. For 10 meter shooting of course.


Quote:
Nevertheless, a Browning Buck Mark is no sophisticated firearm.


Agreed. But I couldn't take one apart and put it back together blindfolded. There really is no such thing as filed stripping a Buck Mark, it's a basic target pistol that needs a screwdriver and a hex wrench to take it apart to clean it.


Quote:
The XDs and Glocks are simple enough but on occasion, mainly due to abuse, it may need a trip to an armorer or gunsmith.

True. A Glock can be ripped apart in about 30 seconds.

But none of this has to do with safety. A shooter who knows little about how his firearm works can be very safe. One can easily tell by who someone carries the weapon to know if they are safe or not.

It's often those that think they no more than the average person that is dangerous.

With respect to audio:

I adore knowing how things work and it adds to my enjoyment of the hobby.

But I do not accept for the tiniest moment that one needs to know anything about the equipment other than how to turn it on to fully and deliciously enjoy fine music reproduction.

In fact these people may even enjoy the music more - they don't care a whit about the equipment itself.

Lamont Sanford
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Yep, I sometimes envy people that can care less about the equipment. My sister has a nice new McIntosh system in her living room. All she knows is that it is the best system she has ever heard. I guess, for us, it is sort of like going to AA for the first time. It will ruin your drinking for the rest of your life. I wish I had a McIntosh system. I really do.

JIMV
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It is depressing when audio Philistines have better gear than one does.

59mga
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Quote:
I listen nearfield, actually about 5-6 feet from the speakers. As a result I listen at modest volumn levels.

Perhaps a simple comment on the efect of low level listenng when reviewing speakers or gear might help folk like me more than details of how magic the system plays at concert levels.

Like yourself, I listen nearfield...at about 60 - 70 dBs.
I have auditioned several models that produce all the ranges equally well at these levels. The Epos M16i, Usher x-718 and VMPS 626. The Renaissance MLP-403.5 (reviewed in here in Stereophile as well as the M16i) is said to sound good at low levels, also.

JIMV
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Nice gear. I will look at Usher next time I can afford new speakers

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