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Buddha
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So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

Sorry for the awkward title.

With the recent JGH ranting and raving, and the back and forth on several topics, it has seemed ever more to me that we may all have this hobby in common, but, somedays, there ain't all that much we have in common!

So, my big question...

What is it that you expect from your audio system?

Can you put down in a paragraph or two exactly what it is you want/need your system to accomplish?

Don't automatically post what you think other audiphiles want to hear. Be an "audio sociopath" and post what the real brass tacks are to you.

I need some more time to think of my own answer.

Lamont Sanford
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

I want to hear from my system what "they" heard in the studio on playback. Or a very close representation of such. It needs to be sensitive enough so that if the original recording was shit than what I will hear on my system is shit. There is a lot of shit out there that sounds just fine on a shit system. If it was a great recording than I expect to hear things I normally never heard on a shit system. Any recording will sound okay on a shit system. I expect more out of my system. Shit!

gkc
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

This topic has been done, Buddha, in many different contexts. But, I dutifully chime in, once again.

I have more software than I can carry out of my apartment or cabin in half a day. More than 2500 CD's and more than 3,000 LP's. And I am constantly paring down. I am left with 5,000+ artificially-contrived concerts, all of which are survivors of my semi-annual cleanouts.

Great. There is only one problem. All of them sound different (aside from musical content). Most are flawed -- some are too "glassy" and irritating, some are too dull and boomy, and, across these two general matrices, I hear varying degrees of dynamic lassitude.

In this imperfect world, I want my system to bring all this varied and flawed plastic to life. I want to get as close as I can to the life I can remember -- my most recent trip to a live event. There is a reason I spend $10,000+ per year chasing live venues. I can't live without the music. There is a reason I have spent over half a million on playback equipment and software, over the past 50 years, trying to recapture the live experience. I can't live without the music, even between trips to the live venues.

Now, I have been at this for long enough to know that, once you put on/in the software, there is no solution to the problem of keeping the best sounding software sounding where it is, and, simultaneously, getting the maximum out of the badly recorded (but indespensible -- remember, I cull all this shit twice a year...) majority.

I want the best compromise I can get. I want truth to middle C, even if the extremes are unmanagable most of the time. Because that is where music lives. Around middle C. The more dynamic, the better. I want what I already have. And I am just about finished looking.

Still, I'm always open to new talent...

Happy listening, all.

Buddha
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

Hi, Clifton!

Thanks for replying.

I know we've kind of done this before, but it started hanging out more in my mind as we went through some of the discussions this past week.

I thought maybe some fresh takes would be interesting to see what people had on their minds after all the give and take of the last week or two.

Pardon my redundancy!

My own first thought was, "It's my system's 'job' to capture and then hold my attention."

Then I thought, "Well, that's the role of good wine, companions, love interests, etc...give a BETTER answer."

When I get right down to it, my system must be able to keep me interested. Plenty of things can attract my fleeting attention, but it's quite difficult (just ask my wife) to keep it.

The funny part (funny because I am an audiophile,) is that my answer was so nebulous.

It isn't a specific sonic attribute, it's some combination of things that add up to a feeling of aural involvement.

That's why I didn't answer at first...I don't have my own answer yet.

I think yours was pretty terrific, I will try not to plaigerize when I get my brain in gear and spit out the proper description!

Cheers, Clifton!

gkc
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

Actually, Buddha, in its bald simplicity, the thread is a good one.

It seems to me (from personal interactions and reading) that most audiophiles and music lovers (and the minority who combine both -- this is not so much a judgment as an observation) lose this main point. Just what in hell are you AFTER? I suspect that is why you worded the same old go-round in this particular way...

We can also re-hash this one...

How many potential and actual customers for a "good" (accept that for what it is, in all its ambiguity) sound system enthusiastically attend live concerts? We won't even go into the "acoustic" vs. "amped" opposition/continuum.

So, "What the hell do you WANT?" is certainly a legitimate question. Better than live? That's what many say, as surprising as it sounds. Hey. Whatever turns you on. A midnight light show? No problem, here. Lots of choices out there...

Good measurements? Guess I better leave THAT one alone.

Nice furniture? Can't argue against that one, either.

Hurricane force? Sorry. Couldn't resist...

Cheers, and happy listening, too.

bifcake
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

I know exactly what I'm looking for:

I want to be able to close my eyes and mind meld with the music. I want to be pulled in and have almost an out of body experience. I want to be the music, I want to be one with the music, I want to be transformed. This is my criteria for judging the equipment. If I'm distracted by various attributes such as sibilance or sloppy bass, then I'm not completely immersed. If the system doesn't pull me in, but simply plays and lets me analyze it intellectually, then it sucks. If it reaches out and emotionally connects with me, then I know it's a good system. Everything else will be "right" by default.

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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

Buddha, you are the master of the party thread.

My system's job, first and foremost, is to produce sound with convincing timbre. I am most sensitive to inaccuracies in the reproduction of vocals, guitar, and brass instruments, particularly trombone. When I'm listening to instrumental pieces, I want to be thinking "That's a ___________".

Beyond that, I want my system to be non-fatiguing. I'm not fond of brightness. My preferences tend towards this arrangement: Detail retrieval and "sharpness" is the source's job, and should be accompanied by a somewhat warm or "laid-back" amplifier (with good percussive ability) and relatively neutral speakers. I like hearing deeper into the music, but I will not sacrifice a relaxing tone to do so. I want a stereo that makes me want to sit in the sweet spot, but is also enjoyable off-axis.

With regards to my system, I'm very happy at the moment, and feel that it's "doing its job". I REALLY could use a turntable, though, because I believe that vinyl is the best way to hear some types of music, especially jazz.

I could stand to have some more revealing speakers, but I have a feeling that I'll have to swear off gear purchases for a long time after I pull the trigger on a P3, for both monetary and Mom-etary reasons. My prediction regarding music purchases in the future is that CD collecting will drop off the radar and the record stores in town will know me by name.

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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"


Quote:

Don't automatically post what you think other audiphiles want to hear. Be an "audio sociopath" and post what the real brass tacks are to you.

Hi Buddah and all

I like that

tomjtx
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

Watts: teh job is to get teh watts to teh speakers. Nutin else matters.
Teh more watts teh better.

LISTEN to watts , not teh music, watts matters, no phony , snake oil notes.

Sorry, couldn't resist. must be missing the dupster :-)

dbowker
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

Actually AlexO sort of said it already. What I want in a great system, what I want my own system to do, is what a good live show does for me: stops thought and takes over my soul!

Now I don't mean what I listen to has to sound "live" because it rarely does, and usually isn't recorded that way. But when I'm sitting at a club listening to a great jazz band, (or rock too and Classical), and that magic something happens it's like time stands still and everything else just drops away. That's what I want when I really sit down and put on a great record or CD- that magic and electricity.

I have to say that feeling has come and gone with various systems (and rooms) over the years. Lately it's back almost all of the time as I think I've got that "just right" synergy in my system that, to relate the thread about diminishing returns, I'd have to spend a LOT more to really get much better. So yeah- it's all about hearing that song, (could be sublime, could be angry thrashing), that just takes you some place a little outside your inner dialogue and daily life and gives you somehting great.

Ergonaut
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"


Quote:
Watts: teh job is to get teh watts to teh speakers. Nutin else matters.
Teh more watts teh better.

LISTEN to watts , not teh music, watts matters, no phony , snake oil notes.

Sorry, couldn't resist. must be missing the dupster :-)

Hehe -- why does this guy remind me of DUP
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhF32Tkhrsk

ethanwiner
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"


Quote:
I want to hear from my system what "they" heard in the studio on playback.


Exactly. Just as you want to see a painting in a museum under lighting favorable to the artist's original concept. If we agree that the mixing and mastering engineers are the final arbiters of what we're "supposed" to hear, then the only way we'll experience their vision is to have a system that sounds like theirs, in a room that sounds like theirs.

--Ethan

gkc
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

The only problem I have with this, is the reference isn't grounded in sense experience. I have never been in a recording studio. Ethan has. But even he hasn't been in the various studios that recorded all the plastic that resides on his shelves.

Now, I certainly haven't been in all the concert halls that inform all the plastic on my shelves. I HAVE, however, been in the venue and listened to the conductor and orchestra that went through the electronic chain that finally wound up in my collection. I have about a dozen of those, roughly speaking.

So, there is no absolute reference, even for someone like me, someone who attends live events often. After all, even live events get filtered through memory. And, in our species, memory is language. "This recording has the richness I recall from a performance I heard..."
Or, "this recording sounds strident, compared to my memory of the live event..." And on and on.

Still, over time, I have taken away enough memories from enough concerts to have an "idea" of what I want simulated in my listening room. In absolute terms, this is a flawed reference, because of all the intervening factors that weaken the recalled impression of the original experience. But, under the moon, all reference is imperfect. This is the best I can do, and it has served me well, over the years, in terms of enjoying what I CAN get in my listening room.

Pater said that "...all art constantly aspires to the condition of music." In our hobby, all music constantly aspires to the condition of bad prose.

Michael Fremer occasionally notes, in his evaluations of various equipment, that "I heard this piece played at (some such) hall, and, in the presence of this system, I didn't have to work very hard to get back to the original experience..." (in so many words -- this is not an exact quote, but the point is well made).

Buddha used the word, "job," in his title, and maybe that's what it is. I, like Mikey, don't want to have to work that hard to imaginatively get back to the original experience.

Happy listening, all.

Lamont Sanford
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"


Quote:

Hehe -- why does this guy remind me of DUP
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhF32Tkhrsk

The other day we were cleaning up a messy paper shredder. Big one that chops up the paper. We unplugged it and wheeled it to the side to clean it. It had been sitting on a vinyl chairmat to protect the carpet. Anyway, Twila asked me to pick up the mat. As I was pulling it off the carpet you could hear the static electricity popping away. I held it out away from me about three feet and was moving it back and forth and you could hear it humming. Suddenly, and without warning, a blue streak flashed from the mat straight to my pant zipper along with a very loud pop. I ended up looking something like this....

I sort of like electricity. I've been shocked a few times in my life and I can remember every time and how good I felt the rest of the day. Must be something to that electroshock therapy stuff...

Lamont Sanford
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

Ah, a compliment of understanding from one of the Masters! I thank you kindly, sir!

Buddha
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

Found my answer (I was groping for a long time to come up with the right word):

My Hi Fi's job is to deform the musical experience as little as possible.

To do as little damage as possible to something as ineffable as the simple act of listening to music.

(It's almost an environmental statement, too!... ...)

So, that's it, that's what I want.

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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

I want to be transported by music and be able to enjoy the experience for hour after hour without fatigue.

Today I played with an orchestra and chorus with fantastic soloists. My system will never equal that. the perfomance was great, with the tuba sitting right behind me and the organ pipes about 15-feet away. Nobody's system will achieve that and chasing that is wasted effort so far as I'm concerned.

Neither do I want to "hear what they heard in the studio". That actually sucks for the most part. It's great to sit in the control room and hear a great solo develop, but most studio monitors are harsh and the unbalanced mix is dry and well... unbalanced.

Dave

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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"


Quote:
Found my answer (I was groping for a long time to come up with the right word):

My Hi Fi's job is to deform the musical experience as little as possible.

To do as little damage as possible to something as ineffable as the simple act of listening to music.

(It's almost an environmental statement, too!... ...)

So, that's it, that's what I want.

I was just about to type something along those same lines, but, now I don't have to. I also want it to transport me to that summer rain coated highway when I listen to "St. Elmo's Fire" on Another Green World.

cyclebrain
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

Tonite my system performed its job. It completly amazed me and my wife with its ability to present the beyond my comprehension skills of the musicians. How do they do what they do?

tomjtx
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"


Quote:
Tonite my system performed its job. It completly amazed me and my wife with its ability to present the beyond my comprehension skills of the musicians. How do they do what they do?

A whole lot of practice :-)

RGibran
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"


Quote:
A whole lot of practice :-)

I met a music professor once and was taken aback by what I considered the over the top daily practice regimen required of his students.

RG

tomjtx
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"


Quote:

Quote:
A whole lot of practice :-)

I met a music professor once and was taken aback by what I considered the over the top daily practice regimen required of his students.

RG

I 'm busted

What's over the top about 5 hours a day ?

Elk
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"


Quote:
I 'm busted

What's over the top about 5 hours a day ?


Amateur.

Elk
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"


Quote:
Tonite my system performed its job. It completly amazed me and my wife with its ability to present the beyond my comprehension skills of the musicians. How do they do what they do?


A musician's most important attribute are his ears; you can't play what you can't hear.

That is, you cannot create a performance any better than what you can yourself appreciate.

This is true also of those who listen to music. If you cannot hear/appreciate what the musicians are doing, you cannot appreciate how good they actually are.

This relates to audio. Those who cannot hear/appreciate tonality, timing, etc. are unable able to appreciate what good playback systems can do.

tomjtx
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

Yes, hearing and memory.
Playing a piece is like remembering the future, the 1st phrase can't really be understood w/o knowing the last phrase.

That and lotso watts, can't play w/o teh watts

( guess I better give up classical guitar or always play amplified, don't want the DUPster getting on my case when he returns)

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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

As a musician, I tend to listen analytically into the deep structure of the music. So what I need most in a playback system is clarity and resolution. I want to be able to focus in on and follow each instrumental or vocal line within a complex harmony. I need sufficient timbral accuracy to be able to distinguish easily between similar sounding instruments. And I prefer a presentation that is relaxed and natural sounding, especially in the mids and on human voice--detailed without becoming hard, edgy or fatiguing. I like bass to go reasonably deep, but excellent pitch definition is more critical than high SPLs (no boom, please). High frequencies should shimmer and sparkle, not spit and sizzle. Precise imaging and a deep, wide soundstage are nice, to the extent that they help me sort out who is playing what, where, in the arrangement, but are definitely secondary to clarity and naturalness of tone. Reasonable dynamics are important--speakers and amp should be able to handle big orchestral crescendos without distorting or compressing.

tomjtx
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

I would have to concur, excellent description of what I need in a system.

Buddha
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

I went out "quote stealing," and paraphrased a few I ran across.

Any of the following you think work?

Stolen, then edited or paraphrased quotes:

"I've always thought that Hi Fi is a lie, an interesting lie. And I'll sort of listen to the "lie" and try to imagine the world which makes that lie true... what that world must be like, and what would have to happen for us to get from this world to that one."

Apologies to JGH

Elk
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My System's "Job"

I would like my system to allow me to appreciate the music as if it were a live performance.

That said, I do not expect it to actually create a live performance. This cannot be done, at least not with today's playback systems.

For example, I am listening to a live recording of a recent concert of a local early music choral - a superb highly regarded group. I recorded the concert and just finished editing my recording.

One song is performed by two incredibly similar sounding tenors. Each sings a verse as a solo, the third is harmonized, the last is in unison.

Most systems will not allow the listener to hear the subtle differences in sound between the two singers, let alone reveal the slight distinctions in soundstage placement. Many will not allow one to hear that the last verse is sung in unison as their timing, diction and intonation is so perfect.

At least for me, there is an emotional difference between a piece sung as

1) a solo for three verses, with one verse harmonized, and
2) verses 1 and 2 as a solo, the third harmonized and the fourth a unison of the two voices.

Experiencing #2 also allows for a greater appreciation of the art of the two musicians.

If I cannot hear these subtleties in reproduction they simply don't exist; I can't fill them in with my mind's ear. Without them, something is lost.

There are many other examples of changes in timbre, small level dynamics, etc. that similarly must be reproduced or the music loses much of its expression.

It is a musician's job to express emotion and to reveal what is in the music. A great example is how different performers bring out the lines of a Bach fugue. If it sounds as lots of pretty notes the performers can play what's on the page, but they are not playing the music.

The voices and interplay should be obvious to the listener by how the piece is performed; the small differences in volume, accent, note shaping, timbre, etc.

A system must reproduce these small differences.

Another example is Diana Krall. I am not a big fan, but enjoy some of her earlier recordings. Her vocal inflections are often subtle and are made even more minute by the dynamic compression used on her voice.

A lesser system does not present many of these inflections, without which her singing is exceedingly bland. A better system lets them be heard, revealing a completely different performance.

My system's job is to capture and present these nuances to the listener.

While we as listeners can fill in many blanks with our minds, we cannot fill in a performer's intent. If we can't hear these details we do not know what the performer said. Thus I do not fully accept the proposition that a musician can fill in the missing blanks while listening to a poor system. This "imagine the truth" method only goes so far.

dbowker
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

Great set of quotes Buddha. How come no source links though? Yeah, extra work I know, but IF you feel like it, I bet a few people would take advantage of it. A few in quotes particular I'd be into reading the whole article or piece. Several I think I actually remember reading too. Anyway- thanks for the stimulating reading.

Buddha
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"


Quote:
Great set of quotes Buddha. How come no source links though? Yeah, extra work I know, but IF you feel like it, I bet a few people would take advantage of it. A few in quotes particular I'd be into reading the whole article or piece. Several I think I actually remember reading too. Anyway- thanks for the stimulating reading.

Hi, Dbowker!

I didn't think of that. They are all really "mis-quotes" because I changed a few words here and there to fit in with Hi Fi.

If I get some alone time one of these nights, I'll go source the originals.

Cheers!

cyclebrain
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

Since I listen to music that is electronically processed, mixed and amplified, comparisions to live have little meaning. Actually I have usually preferred my home system to the poor live performances and production of many shows.

As for musicians ability to play fantastic moving music being related to practice, practice and more practice is very similar to some high end audio gear. Sometimes the feeling gets lost in the perfection.

Elk
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"


Quote:
As for musicians ability to play fantastic moving music being related to practice, practice and more practice is very similar to some high end audio gear. Sometimes the feeling gets lost in the perfection.


Indeed. Technique has no value without expression.

It is the same reason that so much electronically generated music has no soul.

It isn't the medium. It's whether the artist can use the chosen medium to create art.

trevort
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

Thanks for the quotes!
Seems you sometimes single-handedly keep this forum stirred through the lulls.

As a non- or at least less-technical audiophile, I really appreciate the philosophical flavour some of the quotes brought up.

Based perhaps in an exposure to cognitive science in my school days, I'm currently focussed on the far end of the reproduction chain. That is, the huge gulf between the sound filling my listening space and my comprehension of it.

Restating the reproduction chain as I currently understand it:

Musician's intention,
musician's expression (the notes),
musician's expression (the performance),
the sound of the performance in the space,
the recording of the performance,
then all the many steps between the recording and the my vibrating speakers (the focus of the discussions here),
the sound that fills my listening space,
the sound that vibrates my ears,
what I perceive from what is vibrating in my ears,
what I understand from that perception (of the musician's intention)

So thanks for the
"
"Many are willing to suffer for their Hi Fi. Few are willing to learn to listen."
"

So true -- its so much easier to buy a new component, or try measure the sound with a device, or talk about the engineering principles than to simply listen.

A recent technique for me, and surprisingly its not that easy, is to just sit for a minute or two, to settle down my thoughts, listening to the near silence, before putting on the music.

KBK
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

I'm here to be wound up..and spun away.

And each time my capacity to discern comes into play, I have to come up with some new fundamental change in the system....to restore the magic.

I'm very good at discerning. Much to my consternation. Thus many regular, repetitive, and fundamental changes are necessary. Like: electrical, temporal, mechanical and molecular.

Innovation rears it's head through the fog of emotional desire.

piinob
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Re: So, what, exactly, is your system's "job?"

The purpose of my system is to bring me pleasure. Sometimes I really enjoy "tweaking". Sometimes I want to become one with the music, and sometimes I just want something playing in the background.

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