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geoffkait
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You want dynamics?

New project, the Sony Walkman, I obtained a S2 Sport Walkman in like new condition for $49 on eBay and accumulated about ten cassettes in great condition, some of them, like Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin II, going back to the late sixties. I think the newest one is thirty years old and I'm still in shock how robust these little hummers are against the ravages of time. Cassettes like Fine Young Cannibals and the Stones' Undercover are much more dynamic than you would be led to believe if you had only listened to the CD. I would guess the dynamic range, subjectively, is two to four times what I hear out of most digital. That would be 3 to 6 dB greater for you technical weenies out there. I should add, if you don't mind my saying so too much, the cassette format seems considerably more musical than CD, you know, right out of the box.

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Geoff Kait
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geoffkait
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Am I Tuning now or what?

Isn't this whole portable cassette player thing the ultimate Tuning project? No speakers, no room, no electronics, no cables, no transformer, no big capacitors. And battery power. Sweet!

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

michael green
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:)

Hi Geoff

It has always surprised me that the high high part of this hobby puts on it's blinders when it comes to mass. Remember when Corey Greenberg gave his review of the walkman? People laughed, but the fact is low mass blows away high mass in dynamic range. The hobby has been teaching and pushing high mass as a must to good sound but I and others have found it to be the opposite. The picture has been painted of "cheap", but this has nothing to do with it. The more we overbuild something the more we chip away at the dynamics and content. As I have been writing about on here and TuneLand how the hobby takes a smaller part of the sound and gets way focused on it, instead of opening up the content.

The hobby has got to go back and look at these things and take note at how the recordings have a lot more range on them to give. I understand the "loudness wars" thing, we all beat that to death, but we should also be paying as much attention to the dynamic range of our hobby with the electronic components.

What you are saying about the little player you have is exactly what listeners say about listening to a low mass in-room system tuned. "much more dynamic range than high end"

Amazing what we gain when we loose the extras!

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

geoffkait
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On the dodgey subject of low mass systems

I'm definitely on board the low mass train, as the Sony Walkman S2 weighs in at a mere 10 ounces including headphones and cassette, the idea notwithstanding that the actual explanation might not be strictly low mass per se but rather perhaps the absence of large toxic transformers, capacitors, semiconductor chips, many feet of cabling and their induced magnetic fields, connectors, ground wires, DACs, impossible to calibrate turntables, absence of many feet in internal wiring in speakers and electronics that is likely as not installed backwards, fuses (that are likely installed backwards), high mass diaphragms of speaker drivers, crossovers in speakers, the absence of the component-induced, acoustically excited and structureborne vibration inherent in most systems, absence of scattered background laser light problem, the absence of room anomalies such as echo and comb filter effects and all the ills associated with power supplies.

Cheers,

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

Allen Fant
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I concur w/ Michael Green.

I concur w/ Michael Green.

geoffkait
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Uh...
Allen Fant wrote:

I concur w/ Michael Green.

And....?

Geoff Kait
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wkhanna
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Hey Geoff,

Hey Geoff,

The context of your first post made me think you had plagiarized one of my posts word for word……'cept there was no internet 30 years when I said the V same thing soon after the See Dee hit the market.

It was not just me.
Most anyone with a decent vinyl &/or cassette rig was making the same comments.

Thankfully, the technology has improved since then, but instead of taking advantage of it, they decide to compress the hell out of just about everything, now.

Ancient audiophile (curmudgeon) saying:
“One of the consequences of getting old is suffering how excited youth get when they think they have discovered something new.”

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

geoffkait
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Back to the Future
wkhanna wrote:

Hey Geoff,

The context of your first post made me think you had plagiarized one of my posts word for word……'cept there was no internet 30 years when I said the V same thing soon after the See Dee hit the market.

It was not just me.
Most anyone with a decent vinyl &/or cassette rig was making the same comments.

Thankfully, the technology has improved since then, but instead of taking advantage of it, they decide to compress the hell out of just about everything, now.

Ancient audiophile (curmudgeon) saying:
“One of the consequences of getting old is listening to how excited youth get when they think they have discovered something new.”

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

I realize the sentiment of my OP has been previously expressed, especially when digital was introduced to unsuspecting audiophiles, including your humble scribe, thirty some odd years ago. What makes my OP so, uh, fraught with irony is that I have been on the side of the humble CD lo these last fifteen years or so since I abandonded my monster vinyl rig to explore the potential of digital. The irony being, of course, that I have helped bring out the information, the dynamics, the tone of what was inherently recorded in the CD, all that of course not possible with off the shelf technology, as I lay out in the opening volley of my recent article, what's wrong with CDs and why do they sound so horrible? With my what fifteen or so CD oriented products? But this recent experience with a stock 30 year old technology, the very humble 10 ounce portable cassette player, gee, my gut reaction is that this whole digital technology and the quest for improving the digital technology just might have been a waste of time. What a revolting situation! Lol It's a little like the movie The Fly, in which Jeff Goldblum tries to demonstrate his invention - a Teleportation Machine - by teleporting a ribeye steak from one teleporter pod to the other. When the steak arrives at the second pod it looks like the same steak and feels like the same steak and looks like the same steak. But it doesn't taste like steak. Breaking down the steak to its DNA and Re-assembling the DNA on the other end didn't work. Ditto the digital process. You can't fool Mother Nature.

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Geoff Kait
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michael green
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CD Players

Along with over building Amps and Speakers, CD Players almost right from the start were over built in high end audio. I can rattle off tons of tape machines and tables that sounded pretty good (different but good), but when it comes to CD Players there is not one heavy player I have ever liked the sound of, regardless if it was "audiophile" recordings or everyday stuff being played. Digital is a different science and when the high end tried to package it into it's sellable look the sonic results were and still are tragic. At the same time we need to look at how screwed up high end audio in general has become. A lot of listeners can remember the days of simplicity and will be the first to name a system they may have had that brought them the closest to the music before they were guilted into the high end audio $$$ ladder game. There was a simple time when dynamics ruled and we should stop and remember those times and what made those systems sound so good, and get back to them. Going back to vinyl or reel to reel for some might be one way, but it's not going to take us all the way back to the day dynamics was lost.

People who say CD's weren't as good as vinyl or tape are people who have not figured out how to put together a CD based system. When I look at Amp & Speaker designs today I can easily see why hobbyist would take that view.

michael green
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wkhanna
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Us People....
michael green wrote:

People who say CD's weren't as good as vinyl or tape are people who have not figured out how to put together a CD based system.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

Really, Michael?

Such generalizations as these come across sounding both sanctimonious & sacrosanct.

There are few who would disagree early SeeDee’s & players were fraught with sonic issues that were being jammed between the ears of consumers with mega-dollar marketing for the purpsoe of of brainwashing them into believing the propaganda of ‘better sounding than analog’ from the V same music industry you came from along with the equipment manufactures.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

geoffkait
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Digital vs analog

Michael wrote,

"Going back to vinyl or reel to reel for some might be one way, but it's not going to take us all the way back to the day dynamics was lost."

Them's fightin' words, cowpoke.

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When you synthesize something you wind up with something, uh, synthetic. You can paint a donkey different colors but it's still a donkey.

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

michael green
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sources & sanctimonious

Bill wrote

"Such generalizations as these come across sounding both sanctimonious & sacrosanct."

mg

I would have to agree, if I didn't do my own research on the topic and be involved in the start to end process of recording and playback. Have you ever heard me say "I don't like tape, I don't like vinyl, I don't like digital"? Your not going to cause I have a respect for the sciences they represent, and have had the privilege of knowing experts in these fields. Before judging me too harsh consider that there are many who have as well come to the same conclusions I have independent of me.

As much as some would like to paint me as a "tuning" cult leader, you don't see many who actively tune that are unhappy with their results and the gain in their systems dynamic range increase.

The bottom line is go look on TuneLand at my music playlist, and the others there and see what is different from what goes on here many times. Some here get a bad sound and blame it on the source material, the same music being played on TuneLand receives raves. You say "sanctimonious" they say, WOW, that was a great music ride. I don't make up their music reviews for them, nor did I when Tom Miiller changed his thoughts on some of the music he once panned before tuning, and reversed to thumbs up. Same goes true for Guy, Les and a host of other reviewers who at one time heard a recording they panned only to turn around and rave after they heard those recordings on some what differently tuned setups.

The music lover has experienced this throughout audio history and many reading this have heard music sound good on their system and terrible on their neighbors and vice versa. I push for making systems able to play more of the music through a method, and you call me sanctimonious. I would prefer you call me what the reviewers, musicians, and peers do "passionate" about sound.

I think the difference here is, on one side of the fence you have the guy who listens, likes or dislikes and makes a judgement based on one setting, or their current setting. On the other side of the fence you have the guy who listens and thinks about the recording as a whole and puts into action a plan to make that recording sound the best it can through a method of tweaking or tuning. The one side is the guy who treats his system as one that reveals all truths, and the other the guy who views his system as a tool to let the recording reveal itself.

I think the difference between you and I Bill, is you have one (maybe more I don't know) system that is based on mass and I have several systems based on the entire range from super light weight to high mass and am making judgements based on perhaps a wider curve. I also use the acoustical environment as part of the variable maybe a little more than you based on your pics. I as well have several systems setup at several locations. You ping pong your sound back and forth with Dan (which is very cool) and I ping pong my systems from a few locations in the US many miles and conditions apart. You and Dan have according to you similar taste and sound prefrences, whereas my listening partners range all over the map with just as much passion as each other for the absolute sound for them, BTW all of them sounding different and correct according to them. Your system is set, and my and any of my listening partners can walk into each others rooms (and do regularly) and tune in their sound on each others.

Picture Bill, 5 listeners meeting at one tunable system location and tuning in "each" "correct" preference. How can that type of thing in any way be "sanctimonious"? I see sanctimonious as being associated with one view, taste or setting trying to push out the others, and tuning as more of a community view.

michael green
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geoffkait
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Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!!

Michael Green wrote,

"As much as some would like to paint me as a "tuning" cult leader, you don't see many who actively tune that are unhappy with their results and the gain in their systems dynamic range increase.

The bottom line is go look on TuneLand at my music playlist, and the others there and see what is different from what goes on here many times. Some here get a bad sound and blame it on the source material, the same music being played on TuneLand receives raves. You say "sanctimonious" they say, WOW, that was a great music ride. I don't make up their music reviews for them, nor did I when Tom Miiller changed his thoughts on some of the music he once panned before tuning, and reversed to thumbs up. Same goes true for Guy, Les and a host of other reviewers who at one time heard a recording they panned only to turn around and rave after they heard those recordings on some what differently tuned setups."

Throw away your tuned speakers. Throw away your springs. Throw away your speaker platforms. Throw away your cables, your chassis-less, transformer-less electronics. Get a Sony Walkman cassette player and some cheap earphones. Resist the urge to get up and tune your system and tune your room every single time you want to just kick back, relax and listen to another record. Rise up, Throw down your chains. Step out of your leg irons.

Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!!

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Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

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My cassette walkman with Dolby b....

It gave up the ghost a while back as one of the nylon capstans developed a crack and the cyclical click is just too annoying to listen to anymore, but in its day, I took it on many a road trip (sales calls actually) and enjoyed the heck out of it. Should have bought the professional version (D6?), but never did.

I did own a portable DAT to go with my Sony DTC-690, but after 2 repairs of the portable I gave that up as well. My 690 is still going strong.

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the portable movement

I agree, and am glad to see Jim, Geoff and others come up here and talk about their portable experiences. There's a lot of audiophiles that down play some of the simple technologies as being cheap and beneath them, but I see the whole portable movement as people getting closer to music and not further away.

Geoff, I don't think I'll give up in-room listening or tuning anytime soon lol, but I do think a lot of listeners who have done the over built high end thing and aren't or weren't quite able to get the results they wanted with a room system have and will turn to the "simple" headphone setup. Someone on one of these threads said that they didn't understand why some audiophiles are stuck on floorstanding speakers over bookshelf. I feel the same way. Why try to make something work that is meant to work another way? If your not good at or don't have the wife's permission tuning the room why not do headphones or on wall bookshelves instead of trying to force the floorstanding speakers to do something they don't want to? I get pics every week of listeners trying to force the music because they have a certain idea of the hobby and the hierarchy of it. I say screw that, do what works and do it at the level that feels and sounds right to you.

I was doing a little comparing last night, and even though my small room setup smashed my headphone I would still choose the phones over the typical video-screen type audiophile stage. Music has got to have demensionality to it or (to me at least) it sounds sterile. Even my outside system sounds better than the flat stage. If something only goes 4 feet or so deep I loose my interest quickly. Got to have that full front to back action going on.

Jim, It's kinda sad tape technology did not stick around like vinyl. I think the hobby would be more fun if instead of replacing the sources we would have kept all 3, tape, vinyl and campact disc in production. I guess I look at things different than a lot of other guys do. I don't look at things being better than each other, but more how can I get the most out of each or all. It's still pretty cool to go tune a system and see the guy using DAT or reel to reel for me. Tables get a ton of attention, but I think tape is just as cool, and in some ways more so.

Geoff, I see your trying again to put a spin on things, but let me make this one easy for you. I think tape is very hip, and have done as much tuning with it as the other formats, maybe more in my early years, so your not going to see me downing tape, vinyl, CD's. Also you won't see me downing headphones, but I'm also not going to down play the magic of having an in-room system, which as you have said yourself can do things the phones can't. There's something about turning that room into a concert palace that goes further (for me) than having to wear something on my head, which after a short time starts to bug me, but to each their own. I also like to listen from different locations around my place and tune my whole environment to give that sense of music peacefulness whether I choose to be in the room falling inside of the stage or outside the room enjoying the flow as it intermingles with the rest of life. One thing that does bug me about phones is losing my contact with my surroundings, whereas with an inroom system I can choose to what degree to be a part of things and not just on or off. This is also why I like tuning and free resonant listening. I don't like in room systems that you have to stay stuck in one place to enjoy, and out of that "sweet-spot" things fall apart. I like a system that makes me feel like I'm entering the room with the players, and when I leave the room can still feel the musics vibrance and textures.

It's all good and fun making it all better, why people get uptight about tuning it in is a mystery to me. The only reason I can think of is that they really aren't as pleased with their music as they claim, so they have to try to poo poo on others. Their loss, cause sharing the fun and enjoyment of making the perfect system is a big part of what being an audiophile is. Audio and phile = having a system that can play it and getting on with enjoying it. People who disbelieve are people who have not done, people who believe are spending their time talking about the music itself. http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

michael green
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geoffkait
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There you go again

Michael wrote,

"Geoff, I see your trying again to put a spin on things, but let me make this one easy for you. I think tape is very hip, and have done as much tuning with it as the other formats, maybe more in my early years, so your not going to see me downing tape, vinyl, CD's. Also you won't see me downing headphones, but I'm also not going to down play the magic of having an in-room system, which as you have said yourself can do things the phones can't."

Well, yes, I did say that speaker systems generally do soundstage better than headphones. But you are forgetting the advantages of headphone listening that I have previously pointed out. Maybe you forgot. Let's take the Sony Walkman with the Walkman earphones, for example. OK, ready? Here we go: no transformers, no capacitors, no big motors, full range transducers I.e., no crossovers in the earphone drivers, very lightweight transducers for lightning fast transient response, no cabling, no electronics boxes, no chassis, no house power, no ground so no ground issues, relative immunity to RFI/EMI, no room anomalies to worry Po me anymore, no thin, bass shy, tizzy synthetic CD sound due to a while raft of ills, including scattered laser light, out of round CDs, no seismic isolation, etc. etc., etc. The humble cassette player not only has better treble, better bass and better midrange than CD, it's MUCH better. I won't even mention the expense and effort required for speaker systems, just the hard work of trying to get them to sound halfway decent. Where is the time left to listen?

Michael also wrote,

"One thing that does bug me about phones is losing my contact with my surroundings, whereas with an inroom system I can choose to what degree to be a part of things and not just on or off."

Hmmm, that's weird, I have no such drawback with my Sony Walkman system or my CD based headphone system. I suspect you might be grasping at straws with that one. It's not like I really wish to multitask when I'm listening, anyhow, even though I do at times.

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

michael green
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no problems here

Hi Geoff

If you have those problems with your CD and in room systems "thin, bass shy, tizzy synthetic CD sound" I can certainly see why you moved to headphones. There's a lot of folks like yourself in this hobby who have had a hard time getting the in-room system to work for them. Like wise for those a little more diligent there are rewards in having a system that uses the room as a natural amplifier. I enjoy both headphones and in-room systems. I also enjoy different types of sources. BTW if you have looked at my setups you will see that I also spend time with battery setups.

I find it interesting though that after all the talking you now prefer the low mass walkman over your high mass CD system. Would you mind playing the same recording on each and giving us the difference between the two from what you are hearing?

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

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A Complete Understanding..

Hi Michael,

We have many things in common, foremost our shared passion for music.
Where we parts ways is in the belief of a ‘panacea’ that transforms all music.

Additionally, I have no desire to turn my listening room into a giant set of headphones.
I have no problem with some one who does.
My goal is to recreate as best as possible the sound I hear at live acoustic performances.

I never accused you of saying you do not care for any particular format.
Nor did I make accusations of you personally, only that your broad generalizations come across as sanctimonious.

I have spent a lot of time on your website, (I am a registered member).
When I reported Dan & I found no effect from some of the, albeit limited, experimentation we have implemented base on the information at your site, rather than offer advice, you dismissed our findings in another sanctimonious generalization...

“[I] have been in the same place so I completely understand why what happened, or didn't, was your finding.”

Regarding our systems & experience…
Dan has three, I have two.

Of the other closer members of our audio clan with whom we meet on a V frequent & regular basis, one has two systems composed of a more typical high-power SS, the other a flea-watt tube (fully open chassis) & single full-range drivers.

The two others have diverse systems, one fully tube based with both multiple analog & digital sources, the other with SS & computer-based source.

When we get together the majority of time is spent experimenting with rooms, equipment placement, swapping out components (from fuses & cables to racks to different speakers, amps & sources).

If we are not meeting at each other’s homes, we are travelling to dealers & shows.

As for my particular main system, Bob Carver likes it.
One of our close group, whose system I referenced above, is Greg Simmons, an audio journalist for Stereo Times.
He likes my system.

Maybe what I have is system that does not need ‘tuning’ to provide an exceptional level for the reproduction of live acoustic music.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

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repeat

This is a repeat from the other thread.

"Hi Bill

I don't mind being in a different place than you are. Everyone has different levels of wants and needs. I like that this hobby has different meaning for different folks. My goal is only to help others get to places they want to be, and to invite the extreme listeners to go to places they haven't if they would like to. How they perceive what I do is completely up to them.

“[I] have been in the same place so I completely understand why what happened, or didn't, was your finding.”

I'm sorry you find this sanctimonious. I find this being truthful. Some folks get uptight when someone says "{I}" which is what you are pointing to. Nothing I can do about that except hope that someday you will see me for who and what I am instead of that particular picture you have painted in your own thinking.

You said you've been to my site, well you don't see them calling me sanctimonious do you? People in this or any hobby tend to gravitate to their own types and likes as far as personality goes. You say Bob Carver likes your system and I say George Harrison liked mine. You have reviewers in your group, and I have reviewers write about me. This doesn't make me like your system more or less and I'm sure it doesn't affect what you think of mine, it's music and the perseption of it. You might call me sanctimonious and the next guy gracious, not for me to judge. I'm going to be myself and invite people to our world. If that rubs someone wrong, I'm not sure that has anything to do with me."

As far as you saying the thing about yours and Dan's system not responding to the tweak I recommended, I didn't get into that too far on purpose. Wasn't meant to be a snob thing, just didn't know if you were open to people making comments about your setup. But my comment was "low mass tunes easier than high mass", which is what we have found. You being on our site can see that in practice and the explanation for this, but I'm happy to share more if there is something specific.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

toledo
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Bill,

Bill,

Actually you might have made it a bit personal when you toss out words like sanctimonious and since Michael came from the recording industry he was somehow part of the problem with cd playback.

Since the gist of this thread is low mass and dynamics, the comments on cd playback in a traditional over built method are very valid. There is tons of information on the cd medium that when setup correctly yields tons of dynamics even with over compression. Yes, I am not a fan of over compression, but am I going to toss this music aside and limit my choices .. heck no.

Also, in regards to you hearing little or no changes with tuning, you need to take into account that a high mass system does not react well to tuning since the sound is pretty locked in place due to the over built nature of high end components. This was what Michael was referring to in stating he had been there.

I also have been there and tried tuning my high end pieces. You can't get very far since the mass won't allow it. I love equipment and always have and it was a hard decision to make to scrap my tube based equipment, but, it was holding me back and limiting what I could listen to.

These are my hard fought findings which concur with what Michael has been saying about low mass and variable systems. The idea really make a lot of sense if you let it sink in.

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Respect.....

And so two gentleman agree to disagree over the means, but share the passion & joy of the result.

Be well, Michael.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

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toledo wrote:
toledo wrote:

Bill,

Actually you might have made it a bit personal when you toss out words like sanctimonious and since Michael came from the recording industry he was somehow part of the problem with cd playback.

Hi Toledo,

I will let Micheal's body of work here stand on its own, as I will mine.
For the record, I did not say he was part of the problem.

regards,

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

toledo
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Bill,

Hi Bill,

Perhaps I mischaracterized your words.

Passionate gentlemen in a passionate hobby.

Where are the ladies, BTW ... Too much sense, I figure ;)

Enjoy your Sunday.

geoffkait
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Thin Lizzie
michael green wrote:

Hi Geoff

If you have those problems with your CD and in room systems "thin, bass shy, tizzy synthetic CD sound" I can certainly see why you moved to headphones. There's a lot of folks like yourself in this hobby who have had a hard time getting the in-room system to work for them. Like wise for those a little more diligent there are rewards in having a system that uses the room as a natural amplifier. I enjoy both headphones and in-room systems. I also enjoy different types of sources. BTW if you have looked at my setups you will see that I also spend time with battery setups.

I find it interesting though that after all the talking you now prefer the low mass walkman over your high mass CD system. Would you mind playing the same recording on each and giving us the difference between the two from what you are hearing?

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

I suspect you either misunderstood me or else you are twisting my words to suit your purposes. Whatever the case may be, my description of CD sound as being thin! bass shy and tizzy is referring to what everyone gets, whether they realize it or admit to it, when they play stock CDs out of the box on stock untweaked systems. Assuming they can hear which is often an open question, no? Why, do you think that out of the box untreated systems don't sound thin, bass shy and tizzy? Lol

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

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CD Walkman

Hi Geoff

Have you compared the Tape walkman vs the CD walkman yet?

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You have to consider that the Cassette format was way before

The industry began its severe use of dynamic range compression. Most material available on cassette is of sufficent age so as not to suffer from the relatively modern use of DRC in the digital domain.

As crappy as cassettes are, they are still a good indication of just how much has been lost with severely compressing the superior format of CD. I mean, if even cassettes are starting to sound good by comparison, that's a testament to just how bad recording engineers are screwing up the music now days.

I hate the cassette, btw. Even with the advent of Dolby, 8 tracks sounded way better to me.

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CD vs cassette Walkman
michael green wrote:

Hi Geoff

Have you compared the Tape walkman vs the CD walkman yet?

michael green
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Good question. Not yet, but I've actually got one on the way.

Geoff Kait
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Tape and CD
Catch22 wrote:

The industry began its severe use of dynamic range compression. Most material available on cassette is of sufficent age so as not to suffer from the relatively modern use of DRC in the digital domain.

As crappy as cassettes are, they are still a good indication of just how much has been lost with severely compressing the superior format of CD. I mean, if even cassettes are starting to sound good by comparison, that's a testament to just how bad recording engineers are screwing up the music now days.

I hate the cassette, btw. Even with the advent of Dolby, 8 tracks sounded way better to me.

Is there a Sony Walkman 8-Track? I'm on board if so. I'm not a big fan of Dolby (RIP) per se, I actually like to hear the hiss, if I can't I feel something's missing. Which brings me to my next point: why can't you hear the tape hiss of the original tape recording on CD? You can hear the hiss on vinyl. Answer at 11.

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Catch22 wrote,

Catch22 wrote,

"As crappy as cassettes are, they are still a good indication of just how much has been lost with severely compressing the superior format of CD. I mean, if even cassettes are starting to sound good by comparison, that's a testament to just how bad recording engineers are screwing up the music now days."

Ironically I listen almost exclusively to CDs that were produced prior to the beginning of the loudness wars. One notable exception is, of course, Dylan's Modern Times, which was the subject of the discussions regarding dynamic range and CD treatments on these very pages. Thus, there is almost certainly something else going on and we will have to look further to find why a sport cassette player and rather flimsy looking sport earphones from the last century outperform an advanced CD headphone system, if I can be so bold to describe it as such, if not for every single audiophile parameter at least for the most important ones such as musicality, realism, frequency extension and dynamics and entertainability if there is such a word.

When you ASS-U-ME something you make as ass out of me and Uma Thurman.

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Tape, CD's,Vinyl and FM

This is a great discussion BTW. The industry moves so fast at times before taking a really good listen at where they have been and where they are. Remember when FM was at it's peek, and all these great tuners were on the market? Those stations were in big part playing 8-track or reel to reel. You always see pictures of turntables with a DJ sitting there, but the reality was most of this music was being played on reel to reel or 8-track when the stations moved from request spinning to programing. If you paid attention you could hear which was which. The tape was usually warmer sounding.

Another thing that I have always found interesting was why did High Enders choose keeping a-float vinyl and not tape? You hardly ever hear anyone praising tape like you do vinyl, yet tape was "king" as far as recording and playback went. When reel to reel replaced vinyl early on the only reason vinyl hung around was because of storage, LP art and easy to play. It wasn't because of a better sound compared to tape, it was about marketing.

I think sometimes this hobby needs courses in music playback history more than the marketing product of the month clubs.

As far as CD's go, I really think people should separate the CD's from the engineering. You can make a great sounding CD that does everything any other format can do. When people are bringing up "the loudness wars" that should be talked about in the context of engineering and not the CD as a storage medium. It's not the physical compact disc that has anything to do with compression. Engineers that do the compressing is a separate issue. You can do compression on vinyl, tape, FM or Cd, so I think those interested in this should be looking at the recording side and not confuse it with the type of music storage that happens to be popular during the time these engineers decide to use compression as a recording tool.

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Zombie Apocalypse

Hindsight is 20/20. I suspect the biggest mistakes were moving from tape as the recording medium to digital and moving from tube electronics for the recording medium to solid state. Its like the Zombie Apocalypse out there, the warmth, the air, the drive, the extension, the realism got gutted, the soul eviscerated..

The Reiner Chicago Version of the Strauss LP pictured below is a landmark of what got lost, the richness and realism of the tone is to die for. I MUST have this on cassette. I have had it on vinyl.

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progression

I'm not sure the moving from one source type to another was the problem. I think it's more that engineers weren't sure what they were moving from or to, while designing the parts and pieces. In part they were looking at the numbers that should have worked but as you have pointed out were lacking in some of the execution. This happened in both pro and home audio. Again as you have said, putting transformers to close to the lasor and other parts that can easily be contaminated. Digital on it's own is pretty smart, but designers not thinking about the physics all the way through caused some bad results.

Where you and I agree is this industry went transformer and inductor crazy when it should have been thinking about making as little electromagnetic distortion as it could. Somehow they were thinking they could power their way through the problems, but this only increases the interference and distortion. I'm not sure why they didn't and still don't get this. Simplicity is so logical when we are talking about magnetics, fields, gravity and currents. We shouldn't be wanting to subject the audio signal to all those hurdles.

Me, my portable CD player and simple Magnavox are looking forward to your listening results with your CD Walkman. Some of the dampened portables are not all that dynamic but the ones that have little to no dampening have a big bold sound like your describing with your tape player.

I know you have a pretty hefty CD setup at present but I'm hoping you get to experience the lower mass side of things like with the tape player. What I have found is the low mass and simply approach is universal. It doesn't work with every design because of designers tend to over build their circuits to compensate for the sound of the mass, but I have a feeling that as you explore the simple lower mass side it's going to continue to open doors for you.

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It gets even worse
michael green wrote:

I'm not sure the moving from one source type to another was the problem. I think it's more that engineers weren't sure what they were moving from or to, while designing the parts and pieces. In part they were looking at the numbers that should have worked but as you have pointed out were lacking in some of the execution. This happened in both pro and home audio. Again as you have said, putting transformers to close to the lasor and other parts that can easily be contaminated. Digital on it's own is pretty smart, but designers not thinking about the physics all the way through caused some bad results.

>>The problem with transformers is not only does it contaminate everything close by and even not so close according to the inverse square law, but it also contaminates itself! Recall the current flowing through wire produces a magnetic field, one might remember something the teacher was saying about the Right Hand Rule. That's the rule that applies to the induced magnetic field in all wires, including the wires in transformers. Enter mu metal.

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Where you and I agree is this industry went transformer and inductor crazy when it should have been thinking about making as little electromagnetic distortion as it could. Somehow they were thinking they could power their way through the problems, but this only increases the interference and distortion. I'm not sure why they didn't and still don't get this. Simplicity is so logical when we are talking about magnetics, fields, gravity and currents. We shouldn't be wanting to subject the audio signal to all those hurdles.

>>it's even worse than you suggest, even though we basically agree in principle. Because not only do transformers and inductors produce ye olde magnetic field but ALL wires produce the magnetic field, too. All wires, including all transformers and inductors are essentially shooting themselves in the foot! Even high end manufacturers are either acting dumb or really are dumb on this important issue. I suppose I should also bring up magnetism's ugly sister, wire directionality, another thing that high end manufacturers, save for a few cable and fuse manufacturers, have failed to observe on their radar screens yet. That includes ALL wire! wire in capacitors! wire in inductors, wire in transformers, wire in speakers, internal wiring, all cabling and all power cords. Hey, I didn't invent reality!

Me, my portable CD player and simple Magnavox are looking forward to your listening results with your CD Walkman. Some of the dampened portables are not all that dynamic but the ones that have little to no dampening have a big bold sound like your describing with your tape player.

>>>It's going to be a tough nut to crack for the CD Walkman as the cassettes are just so right sounding and coherent. But I will keep an open mind and will report my results, probably sooner rather than later.

I know you have a pretty hefty CD setup at present but I'm hoping you get to experience the lower mass side of things like with the tape player. What I have found is the low mass and simply approach is universal. It doesn't work with every design because of designers tend to over build their circuits to compensate for the sound of the mass, but I have a feeling that as you explore the simple lower mass side it's going to continue to open doors for you.

michael green
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Cheers,

Geoff Kait
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Mixing media

Michael wrote,

"I'm not sure the moving from one source type to another was the problem. I think it's more that engineers weren't sure what they were moving from or to, while designing the parts and pieces. In part they were looking at the numbers that should have worked but as you have pointed out were lacking in some of the execution. This happened in both pro and home audio. Again as you have said, putting transformers to close to the lasor and other parts that can easily be contaminated. Digital on it's own is pretty smart, but designers not thinking about the physics all the way through caused some bad results."

To paraphrase the Seinfeld episode in which George who at the time is working for the Yankees, suggests to the team manager that he consider having the team wear cotton uniforms rather than the usual polyester. It's a natural fiber. They'll be cooler, they'll play better. The manager says, George, I think you've got something, to which George replies, oh, I've got something. Cotton, it's a natural fiber, it breathes. Same for tape, it's a natural medium and by no coincidence the same medium used for recording. It's a natural medium, it breathes.

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Tape & fields

I try not to be bias when listening to formats as they all have their own flavor, but because of being in with tape machines from early on, and being use to the different sizes, and brands of tape, I feel the most comfortable with the sound of tape as a play back material. But tape like all the others does have "it's" sound and for that reason the digital possibilities has always seemed hopeful to me.

Material, chassis and design of CD players has always been a bug in my soup. Same with the other parts you have mentioned. Cutting out the extras is what this part of the industry needs to be looking at, and is why for this camper my ultimate in-room system will come down to either a one or two part component setup.

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the parts, the pieces and the sound

"not only do transformers and inductors produce ye olde magnetic field but ALL wires produce the magnetic field, too. All wires, including all transformers and inductors are essentially shooting themselves in the foot! Even high end manufacturers are either acting dumb or really are dumb on this important issue."

A good friend of mine said to me "this is not a hobby about listeners, it's a hobby about engineers". I asked him what he meant and he explained to me that it's not even about engineering and designing, it's about the engineer himself. He's an engineer BTW. His basic point being, there are clearly to sides to this hobby. One side is indeed spending time making choices based on hearing, but he says there's a much bigger side in high end audio that puts what they are hearing in context with only what they understand. "Simple psychosis" is a disorder where an engineer only accepts that an answer to something technical need be complicated. They typically take the long way around to answering short questions. "it must be more difficult than it looks"

One would think that something like simplicity would be job one for music reproduction. You hear people talk about being purist yet their audio systems are full of electromagnetic field building machines. We see these huge transformers and other massive parts and wonder why we are only able to trade this sound for that, instead of opening up the big picture associated with the recorded signal. High end audio has created an endless cycle of push and pull. The speakers become more complicated to chop the signal up into slopes, and the amps become more complicated to drive the speakers. On the other end the power, source and pre become more complicated to be compatible with the taxed amp making it harder for the interconnects (which shouldn't even be a part of the chain) to be a proper umbilical cord. The power gets unbalanced from the wall so more transformers are thrown into the mix by way of a line conditioner and as a result the dynamics at the end of the day are almost all but gone.

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Yes that's right music will

Yes that's right music will really help while in the scenario of working out. It will give us energy and boost us for more information.

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Initial results for Sony Walkman S2 CD player

The first Sony Walkman CD player arrived today and I have it up and running. I am using the original Sony earphones with the CD player, which are the same ones I use with the Cassette Walkman. The sound is not as refined or smooth as my Modded Oppo headphone system and displays noticeable distortion up in the treble but from the waist down it aquits itself quite well in terms of dynamics and speed. Very well. It is almost sweet in spots but not nearly as sweet or believable as the Walkman cassette player. Therein lies the rub for me. I listened to a cassette of the famous Heifetz Reiner Chicago recording of Brahms Violin Concerto yesterday and today. The voice of Heifetz' violin was sweet and correct sounding, one thing CDs tend not to do very well. The whole structure of the treble seems to completely wrong on CD. Anyway I have another Sony Walkman coming in soon, a more refined one, hopefully. One made in Japan.

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Getting down to brass tacks, tweaking the Sony CD Walkman

Have been playing with some simple tweaks, treating the two AA batteries, Codename Turquoise color coded dots for the surfaces under and above the CD, followed by a few blasts of Dark Matter, PWB Green Leaf Cream + Orange Square, a PWB MagnaBlock on the outer shell of the CD player. The sound is rather like my modded Oppo and Woo Audio WA6 SET headphone amp and Sennheiser HD 600 system, I'm a little reluctant to say. Still, a hint of tinny ness remains.

Addendum: after playing the Sony CD player for a couple hours the sound has gotten more analog like, supple and smoother, liquid and warm, I would say. Even a little sweet.

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BINGO!

"Addendum: after playing the Sony CD player for a couple hours the sound has gotten more analog like, supple and smoother, liquid and warm, I would say. Even a little sweet."

Other sources do this as well, but with digital specifically, as it plays it smooths out. When I do referencing I'll leave the same piece of music play on for a pass or two, or even days to get what is going on as the harmonics settle.

With both vinyl and tape you get one pass (unless you have auto-reverse), and it's mostly true that the first pass from either tape or vinyl is smoother than digital, but do this same comparison after the CD has been playing a while and the results will change or even flip, from the CD coming in last to first for range and smooth.

I'm not saying this is always the case cause every copy of any piece of music varies, but I have noticed that digital takes a long time to settle in perhaps because it does have more info. More info means more settling time of the mechanics of the system.

For example: for the last 3 days I've been listening to Jamie Cullum "twenty something". The first pass was interesting but the "digital" sound was part of the music without a doubt. Second and third pass through the sound became liquid and reasonable. After that it has been like a new recording growing in stage and becoming more believable as time goes on. At present you would have a hard time telling if someone was in the next room or a recording being played. Entering the room there is no trace of speakers playing at all.

I personally like vinyl, tape and CD's and could live with any of the three if I had to, but I don't see CD's as being a step below the other two, just different in the use. People in this hobby rush to make decisions with the quick A/B type of thing, but this is not really very telling compared to a responsible way of listening.

Geoff, I commend you for doing this in a step by step process. Common ground in this hobby is found in the doing.

michael green
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Cassette vs CD vs Whatever

There was never (with the advent of Dolby b/c) a real technical reason for cassette (mini cassette, technically - which is not micro-cassette or the Sony Cassette format, whatever it was called) to be considered inferior. The area where CD and LP are superior by far is the simplicity of the transport.

High end transports from Tascam, Sony, Onkyo and of course the 3 motor two belt Nakamichi standard transport used for over 20 years were all mechanical works of art. But those decks ran 600-2000 dollars - in the 80's and early 90's. And having owned some of them, compared to what 1000 bucks MIGHT get you today, they SOUNDED like you'd expect a piece of high end analog equipment to sound.

Another thing to consider per this discussion, is that they were well constructed, but not over built.

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Sweetness and warmth

I had originally written, "Addendum: after playing the Sony CD player for a couple hours the sound has gotten more analog like, supple and smoother, liquid and warm, I would say. Even a little sweet."

To which Michael replied,

"Other sources do this as well, but with digital specifically, as it plays it smooths out. When I do referencing I'll leave the same piece of music play on for a pass or two, or even days to get what is going on as the harmonics settle."

I am used to vinyl doing sweet but not digital. Ditto warmth. Digital has always been a cold removed medium for me, even with my uber modded Oppo the sound whilst analytically quite good I'd say lags behind cassette considerably when it comes to warmth and sweetness. Example. I was listening to Heifetz doing Brahms Violin Concerto in D with Reiner and Chicago, a famous recording, and rightfully so. On one of my modded Sony Walkman Cassette Players, the sweetness and warmth of his playing is rather remarkable. The top end is just so right. So *unlike* digital or at least the digital I've heard. The portable Sony CD player seems like it might just be closing the gap, however. Hendrix CD :blues sounding spectacular. It is the first time I ever took my earphones off and turned around to see who was talking to me.

Geoff Kait
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Should tapes come back?

I want to keep saying, that I don't have a problem with any source, it's my job to tune in whatever someone has. I can't see me at this point building my own source machine and getting people to follow yet another movement. That said, I do think it is healthy for the audiophile to look into more than one source or finding the source that suits them best.

As vinyl is still hanging on to a degree, should the industry consider bringing back tape as there have been a few suggest? Some say if this happens it should be 8-track or a slightly bigger tape than what cassettes use.

Second, what about tape warble, and head misaligning?

And lastly, with the audiophile being so head strong about vinyl how does the industry bring tape to the front line?

Where I would disagree that CD's sound bad, I do believe that with times changing for the maturing audiophile, why not make products available for all the guys out there? Shouldn't there be choices other than CD, vinyl or computer?

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Tapes coming back?

I wouldn't imagine in a million years tapes would stage any kind of come back. however in terms of pure musicality the tapes have it all over digital. I'm not talking about stock off the shelf digital either. Out of the box digital is simply pathetic. Words cannot describe. Tape even cheapo cassette players are better than most digital. If they could somehow rig up a cassette player to play speakers at the show they'd win Best of Show, no doubt about it. Now, I'm a reasonable person and I can appreciate that like everything else, there is hierarchy of cassette players and I have a bunch here as we speak. The cheapest one sounds surprisingly good, but lacks the subtlety and realism of it's more expensive brethren. The breath and air and dynamics of the better cassette players of the ones I have here and the correctness of the tone and harmonic structure is clear. I am beginning to be of the opinion in terms of that sheer musicality and digital you just can't get there from here. So much AIR and HARMONICS!! Godzilla Mother F$$kers! Of the portable CD players I have on hand presently only one or two shine, but those two shine like diamonds. The rest of them are expendable dog meat.

Photo is El cheapo Sony Walkman cassette player. $15 used like new.

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shining

So the CD players "but those two shine like diamonds" that you aprove of compete against the tape?

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Two diamonds
michael green wrote:

So the CD players "but those two shine like diamonds" that you aprove of compete against the tape?

michael green
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If I didn't know cassette players existed I would be very happy wth the CD Walkman, uh, Walkmen. Fortunately I can have my cake and eat it, too. The tape is just SO seductive. Especially on things like organ, trumpet, violin, cello, bells, cymbals, guitar, the sparkle, the way the harmonics are presented, and the speed. And so sweet. But the CD Walkman is surprising, too, especially the bass performance and, dare I say it, warmth.

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That's what I thought thanks.

Hi Geoff

Where I was driving at is it isn't the digital but the digital playback system. Where as there are lots of tape players that sound very nice, there are not as many CD players that have reached that level. But I don't want people to think that Digital is the same as saying Compact Disc. Where the compact disc may have had problems with players, digital is successful as a language. For example look at the DAT http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Audio_Tape (for those not familar). The timing of digital tape and the compact disc over lapped and people choose the CD over the tape for home use, but where tapes and tables have had a long history in R&D the CD Player being a different animal never got the same attention. As you and I both pointed out the transformers were a big no no, and there were other things that I have found that didn't work so well with the over built players. Some of these same problems I have heard with over built tables and tape players, but that laser pickup and conversion some times works, and some Players can burn a hole right through the brain. I have my thoughts on why, but I don't think it is from a lack of info.

Anyway I'm glad you have confirmed that some players do indeed sound good.

michael green
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The word good can be misleading at times

Everything is relative, don't you think? Maybe I should have kept my Radio Shack 3400 portable CD Player all those years ago. Alas, the grass is always greener. With cassettes you get tape hiss and wow distortion sometime but you also get the soul, I.e., sweetness and warmth. With CD players, if you're lucky, you get analytically correct sound but at a cost. It's possible I can get the CD Walkman to come around, to tease the sweetness and warmth out of it, and all the gobs of air, but I have my doubts. It might very well just be a simple case of you can't there from here.

You'll know it when you hear it.

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hearing it

This is why I mod the Magnavox's that I do now, and have for the past several years. Once you get a player that opens it up and delivers the body, the advantages tilt toward using CD's, for me at least.

For myself it would be either tape or compact disc, with vinyl falling a little behind. Not that I don't like vinyl and had a huge collection, but I've always been very sensitive to outer and inner groove changes. I'm somewhat the same way with tape warble and the begining to end change of home grade tape and tape players, but can handle it more than the in your face change in vinyl. Plus I'm more use to studio tape machines which are pretty stable, but still need work to keep them perfect.

The way I see all of them is they are mechanical, which means there is good and bad, and the attention we give to each player can and will make or break that specific player. Audiophiles are too into this "setup a system and let it play", but when you get down to it, that's not really how recordings are made. As we move closer to making none spining storage better that will be a whole new ball game, still needing the vibrations addressed, or as I say "tuned". Saying that though, it is a loss leader when we put together a system and pretend on it's own it knows how to playback a recording. When I see highenders talking about how they are jumping from one recording to the next without any type of adjustments whether it be vinyl, tape or CD it sets me back a little. Not trying to be a snob, but it goes past understanding to me, coming from my background plus having the wide range of studio and mastering mixes I have had, to think that people are saying "they are judging the music" from one point of reference. That's like saying the batter is able to hit with the same swing everytime with all the different pitchers and their pitches.

One thing that I'm pretty sure you are going to, or have noticed, is whether it be vinyl or CD or tape all 3 are giving something the other one isn't. Just as every mechanical device gives something different so does every recording.

It's always seem very odd to me that there are thousands and thousands of guys that have "all" different sounding systems, rooms, and music and they are trying so hard to come up with "the" answer, instead of seeing this hobby for what it really is.

I'm glad that your going through different players and with different recordings comparing (cross referencing) each.

I'd also like to add. I wish some good "tape runners" from the good ole days would come up and make comments on recordings. I don't know if John A or others have spent anytime talking about the ins and outs of Tape Recording, but there's a whole science in this that would help audiophiles understand where their roots come from as far as recording presence goes.

For those of us who have had several studio tape machines side by side referencing them, there is a story to be told that is important to the audiophile and people collecting music from those golden years. Not only in the recording end but the duplicating end as well we will tell you that each recording machine sounded different, and in plackback mode you can here when one is slightly off from the other in regards to the flavor of the air and even slight oscillation sounds. It's something you get use to as a tape runner, and can pick out when a recorder is getting slightly out. The best way I can explain it in playback is like when you just barely loose your balance, or the sound variance when you breathe in and breathe out. When you live in the world of listening to and for these things they stick with you. Anyway, each recording really is different from the next in a few ways and if someone truly wants to pursue an absolute rightness it's a good idea to learn and be a part of the whole chain.

michael green
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Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
The hierarchy of equipment

I am definitely on board the whole freewheelin' portable player thing, just in case anyone missed that. I modify these little guys, too, but most likely not in ways that anyone would ever suspect. And degaussing the tape head of the cassette player every couple of hours is pretty much a requirement. And regular cleaning of the heads is also required. I find is the portables respond very well to tweaking. The cassettes and CDs can also be treated for optimum results. The stock cassette players vary in performance quite noticeably as do the CD players. One big problem I see coming down the unavailability of the best players, at least for these Sony players, as they have been out of production for some time. There is also the cost issue. You would not believe what they want for a Professional Sony Walkman Cassette Player! So, here's the deal, you can get a fairly inexpensive Walkman Cassettte player, tweak it and enjoy very good sound, maybe the sound will approach that of the UN-tweaked Professional cassette player. Well, that might be wishful thinking. Or go all the way and tweak the Pro model. With CD players the trick is finding one that sounds inherently very good, one with some bass hopefully as many that I've tried here just don't have any to speak of. And dynamics are terrific. With CD players, the ones I'm playing around with, anyway, dynamics are even better (as you would expect), it's the tone and harmonics in the treble that's the issue.

It should be pointed out how terrific the sound on the portables is not only considering the size and cost of such things but the size of the rather flimsy looking Sony Walkman earphones sold with the players back then, and how TINY the earphone wires are! Hel-loo!! Ah, the advantages of low power, low current, low voltage systems. And the concomitant low gauss magnetic fields.

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

michael green
michael green's picture
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Last seen: 4 years 1 week ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
re-visit

Hi Geoff

I wanted to re-visit this after some time went by and things cleared up about your systems. I'm glad that a couple of tape guys jumped in and talked about their machines and experiences. Mainly though concerning your tape players some things didn't add up for me and I wanted to explore things a little further on my own and through others to make sure I was accurate.

After doing the listening I did and getting feedback, the same question kept coming back to me from others.

"what is Geoff doing about the different sounding tapes and tape settings"?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tape_head

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

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