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robert_kc

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  1. robert_kc

    Advice for Beginners....

    I understand that some people may quarrel with my use of the term “electronic music”. (And I’ve sometimes loosely used the term “pop music”.) I’m not meaning to be disrespectful of someone else’s choice of music. And I recognize that some music is what I’ll loosely call “hybrid” (i.e., some natural instruments, and some electronically amplified instruments). The problem - from my perspective - is that for the purpose of this discussion I need to use convenient terms for two types of music: Music performed by natural instruments (e.g., violins, trumpets) in the intended venue (e.g., symphony hall), where no sound reinforcement system is used. No electronics are employed in the performance of the music. And the music is not deliberately distorted (e.g., via a DAW) during mastering. Classical music is an example. Some forms of big band, jazz, folk, etc may fall in this category. For convenience, I’ll call this “natural music”. For other music, which involves electronics in some form when the music is performed, or created (e.g. using a DAW), I’ll refer to as “music that is not 100% natural”. (I’m not an expert in these types of music.) This distinction is relevant IMO to the question: What is your benchmark for “true ‘high-fidelity’ reproduction” of recorded music in the home? As a classical music lover, my benchmark is the live performance of classical music in its intended venue. Granted there are differences in the acoustics of one symphony hall vs. another, but I have a pretty good idea of how a large-scale orchestra sounds in a symphony hall, when no sound reinforcement system is used (which is the norm). I have a pretty good idea how opera sounds in an opera house, when no sound reinforcement system is used. (This is completely different from musicals, for which body mics and sound reinforcement is common.) I have a pretty good idea how chamber music sounds when performed in a venue when no sound reinforcement system is used. I recognize that a problem with my approach is that it relies on my memory. However, I attend live classical concerts more than 20 times a year, and I’m content with relying on my ears and my memory to assess the sound quality of my hi-fi systems. For “music that is not 100% natural” (i.e., music that is created or altered by electronics), how do you know how the music is “supposed to” sound, unless (as I said in my earlier post) you were in the control room when it was created, or you have installed in your home the same speakers, amp, and acoustic treatment that were in the control booth when the recording was mastered? It seems to me that for music largely created by synthesizers, and when distortion is deliberately introduced, it is impossible to define “high fidelity reproduction”, because the consumer doesn’t know how the music is “supposed to” sound. It seems to me that the “original sound” is what the producers heard on the studio monitors when they used electronic tools to create the sound, whereas the consumer’s speakers probably sound different from the studio monitors. Am I wrong? OTOH, let’s consider music that doesn’t use synthesizers or deliberate distortion, but involves (for example) electric guitars, or a classic electric organ. I’m interested in opinions from people who listen to (or perform, or record) such music. I’m not knowledgeable about electric guitars. Do some electric guitar aficionados know how a particular guitar (e.g., Stratocaster) sounds when played through a particular amp (e.g., British vs. US amp)? Does a particular guitar player have a “signature sound” based on which tubes are in the amp? If so, and the music is not deliberately distorted, would an aficionado be confident that they know how the original performance was “supposed to” sound, and is such an aficionado therefore able to assess whether what they’re hearing in their home is “faithful to” the original performance – i.e., “high-fidelity reproduction”? (What if a wah-wah pedal is used to “distort” the guitar? Are there a few classic wah-wah pedals that an aficionado would recognize?) What about a classic Hammond electric organ? I want to be clear, I think it’s perfectly OK to have as a goal for a hi-fi system to “sound good”. But some people are suggesting terms like “accurate” reproduction, or “true high fidelity”, and I’m trying to understand what they are implying that these terms mean, depending on the type of music involved. And, I think this is relevant to this thread’s topic, because this issue IMO should be important to a newbie. In my first post to this thread I suggested to a newbie: “You must define the goals for your home hi-fi system.” Bottom line, it seems to me that the meaning (or lack of meaning) of “accuracy” and “true high-fidelity” for in-home audio reproduction is dependent on the genre. How do you define “imagined differences vs. real differences” for the music you love? Are you satisfied with letting some “expert” tell you that your hi-fi system is “accurate”, or are you concerned with how the music that you love sounds to you when played via your home hi-fi? Your thoughts?
  2. robert_kc

    Advice for Beginners....

    I’m not knowledgeable about audio recording, so perhaps someone who has experience can help me understand the following issues. For those who listen to electronic music (or electronically altered or amplified music), am I correct that if you have installed in your home the same large speakers (JBL?) shown in this picture of the control room of the recording studio, and the same amp that was used to drive these speakers, and your listening room has acoustics similar to the control booth where the music was mixed, then you can reasonably assume that you’re hearing what the producers heard when they mixed and mastered the popular music recording? (In this case the “producer” of electronic music presumably is a music business executive who determines (perhaps in collaboration with the musicians) how the final recording should sound - by adjusting various hardware and software electronic tools, such as the pictured console that appears to have 1,000 slider adjustments, or software plug-ins for a DAW.) OTOH, if the consumer doesn’t own the same speakers and amp used during mixing, then how does the consumer know how this electronic music is “supposed” to sound? (If you’re listening to a decades-old rock or pop recording, are your speakers and amp anything like the equipment used in the control booth decades ago?) Or, has someone figured out multiple EQ curves that will replicate the sound of these large studio monitors - based on the recording studio for each pop recording – such that if that “pop music EQ curve” is overlaid onto a home hi-fi system that has “flat” in-room frequency response – then the sound will replicate what the producers heard in the control booth when they created the music? For music that is electronically produced, and/or electronically modified (i.e., deliberately distorted), and/or amplified, what is the meaning and relevance of “accurate” sound reproduction via a home hi-fi system? Accurate compared with what benchmark? As I said earlier, I respect the fact that different people like different music. I’m just trying to understand whether having your home hi-fi system adjusted via DSPs to “flat” in-room frequency response has any relevance to what the producers of electronic music heard when they created the recording in the control booth. (I have no experience with recording – so I’m probably not saying this correctly.) In simple terms: Do your speakers sound like their speakers? OTOH, it seems to me that for classical music, the “producer” isn’t someone sitting at a mixing console or DAW. For classical music, the “producer” is a conductor leading an orchestra that is playing natural instruments in a venue designed for classical music (i.e., symphony hall or opera house). For classical music, the musicians perform together live (i.e., no mixing of instruments recorded at different times and places). For classical music, there are no electronics used to amplify, alter or deliberately distort the music. For me the benchmark for the reproduction of classical music via a home hi-fi system is straightforward – i.e., the benchmark is the live performance. When my home hi-fi system falls short of this goal, I want what I hear from my hi-fi system to be a pleasant simulacrum of the live performance. As a classical music lover, I don’t care what the recording engineers heard on their studio monitors. I want the sound on my home hi-fi system to sound like the live performance. For classical music, it seems to me that if your home hi-fi system is adjusted via DSPs to “flat” in-room frequency response, then that might be a good starting point for tuning your hi-fi system so that it recreates the live sound. However, I certainly would not blindly accept that the sound that I’m hearing from a “calibrated” hi-fi system is “accurate”. Rather, I’m going to assess whether the sound from my hi-fi system reminds me of the countless live classical performances that I’ve attended. If I have to manually adjust tone controls, or choose a different amp/speaker combination, or different tubes in order to recreate the original classical concert - so be it. I’m trying to understand the relevance of “flat in-room frequency response” to the reproduction of any type of music. As I said in an earlier post, I think that a newbie needs to decide for themselves what “accurate” sound reproduction means, and what “true high fidelity” means.
  3. robert_kc

    Advice for Beginners....

    Let’s dissect the claim that all amps sound the same. Is someone asserting that ALL amps sound the same, including tube amps and solid state? Is someone asserting that all solid-state amps sound the same, or only all “modern” solid-state amps? Is someone asserting that all modern solid-state amps sound the same, or only solid-state amps bought at a “big box” store? I’m not an expert on amp design – so perhaps someone more knowledgeable can jump in – but my understanding is that not all modern solid-state amps are designed or built the same. Is someone asserting that all modern solid-state amps sound the same, regardless of Class A, Class AB, Class D, output transformers (e.g., some McIntosh) or not, type of feedback, design of power supply, quality of components, etc.? The average consumer will undoubtedly buy an AVR from a big-box store and be content. That makes sense. Someone who watches Hollywood movies, and/or listens to electronic music, and/or listens to poor-quality recordings, will likely be content with an AVR from a big-box store. Someone who listens to music only in the background will likely be content with an AVR from a big-box store. For the newbie, listen for yourself and decide for yourself. If you want an AVR that’s totally cool. A good friend of mine needed a new receiver and Blu-ray player. Stereo (maybe a subwoofer later). Movies and music. Limited budget for this expenditure. He had been satisfied with his old Onkyo stereo receiver. I coached him to buy a new “open box” Onkyo TX-8270 for $300 (free shipping). This is a state-of-the-art 2.1 network AVR with 4K HDMI switching. I’m glad he’s satisfied with his purchase. At the same time, when he and his wife come to my home, they comment on how much they like the sound of my tube amps when listening to classical music. If a newbie listens to music that involves natural instruments (e.g., classical, and some big-band, folk, jazz, etc), and you intend to engage in serious listening, and you intend to buy high-end Klipsch speakers, then I suggest that you listen to high-quality recordings via Klipsch speakers driven by tube amps. And if possible, listen to different tube amps, with different output tubes. And if possible, when auditioning equipment, listen to your favorite music for a long period of time, in a relaxed environment. If after an hour of listening you have no listener fatigue, and you’ve completely forgotten about the equipment test because you’re totally mesmerized by the music, and you have a huge smile on your face – you’ve probably found the right equipment for you. If a newbie has heard tube amps, and is intrigued, the good news is that the newbie can experiment, and it won’t necessarily cost them a lot of money. Unlike an AVR, vintage tube amps have established resale value. In other words, you could buy a vintage tube amp, and if you decide to sell you will probably recoup your investment by selling on eBay. I am certain that my hi-fi systems are not the best in the world. With that said, every time someone comes to my home they comment about the excellent sound quality of my hi-fi systems, and they ask if the sound quality is because of hi-res recordings, or tube amps, or the speakers. My answer is “yes”. Regarding the proposed $10k amp test - I’ve conducted my own version countless times. I have 5 hi-fi systems. Four are equipped with multiple amps. For example, here’s the equipment in my TV room. My modern solid-state NAD C375BEE amp sounds good. For serious listening to classical music and opera, I find the tube amps more musically engaging – more enjoyable – more like what I remember hearing in the symphony hall. I’ve switched between these amps countless times, and I always prefer the tube amps for classical music. Which amp I prefer depends on the recording. (Is someone going to mail me a check for $10k? ☺️ ) Same situation and results in my office system and living room system – each has multiple amps (including one solid-state amp and multiple tube amps). In my basement system I’ve gotten rid of the solid-state amps and have only tube amps. I mostly use the solid-state amps for summertime, Hollywood movies, and background listening. Could I live with one of my solid-state amps if I had to? Yes. But I’m a hobbyist, and I enjoy being able to listen to different amps – specifically tube amps. And when I settle in on a cold winter day to listen to classical music, it’s going to be via one of my tube amps.
  4. robert_kc

    Advice for Beginners....

    My recommendation to beginner audiophiles coming to this forum for advice. Summary Be prepared to read (and hopefully consider with an open mind) significantly different opinions. You must define the goals for your home hi-fi system. (No one else can do this for you.) Understand the concept of garbage-in / garbage-out. Think about your priorities and constraints. (No one else can define these for you.) Think about whether you wish to have hi-fi as a hobby. (Some people don’t – they just want to enjoy music.) My Advice: Listen with your own ears. Details Be prepared to read significantly different opinions. Here’s an example where opinions differ: I disagree with the assertion that amplifiers don’t matter. I own 24 tube amps (all restored and in good working condition), plus several solid-state amps, and they all sound different. (And many more amps have come and gone from my systems over the last 45 years – and they all sounded different.) Let me hasten to add that undoubtedly speakers make the biggest difference in the sound quality of a hi-fi system (assuming good quality recordings and electronics). However, I disagree that speakers account for 99.9% of the sound quality of a home hi-fi system – I think this is an exaggeration. (I’m amazed that some people who spend significant time and money in this hobby refuse to consider high-quality hi-res recordings. More on this later in the section titled: “Understand the concept of garbage-in / garbage-out”.) IME “synergy” between amps and speakers is real – not “audiophoolery”. (Even if technologists can’t explain why.) It seems to me that this synergy is particularly important for Klipsch speakers, when it’s sometimes necessary to “tame” the high frequencies. For me the concept of “module independence from other modules” sounds somewhat interesting, but I’m more interested in the final sound – and synergy between amps and speakers IME cannot be denied. View the youtube videos about “audiophools” with a healthy dose of skepticism. (The smirks on some of the panelists’ faces – and their glee at tricking people with contrived tests - reveal their lack of objectivity, and their lack of professionalism. IMO.) There have been many debates about these videos which I won’t rehash. Suffice it to say that many people disagree with some of what is said in these videos. $64k question: Do you think (and listen) for yourself, or do you tend to believe “experts” who claim to have all the answers? If testing methodologies (such as double-blind listening tests) interest you, then I suggest that you educate yourself. (FYI, developing and administering “objective” audio listening tests is much more complicated than a newbie might imagine. This endeavor is fraught with problems.) Recognize that people have different sensitivities to different aspects of sound. (Some people are sensitive to spatial presentation. Some focus on reproducing the natural timbre of a violin, or other natural instrument. I’ve heard people talk about the “rhythm” of a hi-fi system. I’ve heard people whose main criteria was how a brush sounds on a cymbal. Some want the full dynamics of a large-scale orchestra. Some want the deepest pedal notes of a pipe organ. Some want extremely loud rock music, with little regard for audio quality.) And, people have different priorities. (More regarding priorities below.) Disagreement is common is this field, and disagreements sometimes involve fundamental (and IMO interesting) conflicts between subjectivity and objectivity. Recognize fallacious arguments, such as “hasty-generalizations” and “straw-man arguments”. If you decide that you can hear a difference in a component, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re an “audiophool”, or that you’ve been duped by a “snake oil salesman”, or that you’re guilty of expectation bias. I suggest that one component (e.g., speakers) cannot deliver top-quality in-home reproduction of music, without all components being reasonably high-quality – including electronics – and particularly including the recording. (This does not necessarily mean the most expensive.) Bottom line regarding “differing opinions”: You must decide what’s best for you. Each person must define the goals for their home hi-fi system. Would a new hi-fi system be used for listening to music, and/or watching movies? What is your relationship to music? What types of music do you listen to? Will you use the hi-fi system for background listening at a low level? Will you use the hi-fi system for serious listening (i.e., sitting down and intently listening) to music? How loud do you like to listen? How large is your listening room? Is your goal to reproduce the natural timbre of orchestral instruments at reasonable sound levels in an average size room? For a string quartet? For Mahler’s Symphony No. 2? Do you want to reproduce the lowest pedal notes of a pipe organ? Or, is your goal to put a “heavy metal” band in your living room playing at levels that might cause hearing damage? Achieve sound reproduction that is so natural sounding that you’re drawn into the music? Or, recreate a buffalo stampede in your listening room? “Rattle the windows” while showing off your system to your friends? For classical music, there is a clear benchmark for audio quality. I want what I’m hearing from my hi-fi system to sound like what I heard in the symphony hall or opera house - where no electronics are used – no sound reinforcement – the sound is 100% natural. FWIW, I attend more than 20 live classical music concerts a year – ranging from chamber music to large-scale orchestra and opera – and this forms the basis for how I evaluate the sound of my hi-fi systems. (In other words, this is how my ears are “calibrated”.) And, I want any deviations from a live performance to sound pleasant vs. unpleasant. I don’t care very much about what technical specifications or graphs say. IMO a few technical specs don’t directly correlate to enjoyable reproduced music - at least for the classical music that I love. I regard my hi-fi systems as being “dialed in” when I completely forget about the equipment, and lose track of time, and become completely engrossed in the music, and I can listen for hours without “listener fatigue”. I regard my hi-fi systems as being “dialed in” when I feel like I’m in the symphony hall, or opera house (or other venue for chamber music, such as a church) - which involve 100% natural sound - no sound reinforcement system – no electronics – no sound board operator to “muck up” the music. OTOH, for at least some pop music there is no such benchmark. For some pop music there never was a live performance (i.e., sound was produced by different musicians performing in different studios at different times and was electronically cobbled together). Some pop music involves electronically generated sounds and/or electronically altered sounds. Many pop recordings are severely compressed, so that they can be heard in noisy environments (like a car), and so that they stand out on the radio. It seems to me that the concept of “high fidelity” reproduction has little meaning for such recordings. How do you “faithfully reproduce” sounds that were electronically cobbled together, unless you were at the mixing console or DAW (I’m not an expert) when the pop recording was electronically created, and you remember what the studio monitors sounded like? What does “accuracy” mean for such pop music? If you tune your speakers/room to “flat” frequency response, what relevance does this have to what the producers heard through their studio monitors when mastering a pop recording? Were their studio monitors “flat”? If you want to hear what the producers heard, wouldn’t you need an EQ profile for the specific recording studio that produced the pop recording? (I suppose that if you own the same studio monitors that were used during mastering, and the same amp, and your room’s acoustics are very similar to the room where the recording was mastered, you could argue that you are hearing what the producers heard when they mixed and mastered the pop recording.) In other words, for many genres of popular music it may be difficult to pin down what the music was “supposed to” sound like to begin with. (Do you know what a particular electronic synthesizer is “supposed” to sound like? Do you know what pop music is “supposed to” sound like if it’s been deliberately distorted and compressed? What is the “real sound” of such music, and what is the meaning of “high fidelity” reproduction of such recordings in the home?) IMO, for some pop music, the concept of “accurate reproduction” is meaningless – and you might as well choose whatever recordings and home hi-fi configuration sounds good to you. I want to be clear – I respect the fact that different people like different music. With that said, if your goal is to blast vintage heavy-metal music or EDM (I had to google that one), then I’d imagine that the quality of the electronics probably won’t matter much. How can you determine if the sound you’re hearing in your home is how it’s “supposed to sound”? To each their own. OTOH, for someone who wants to build a hi-fi system to play recorded music that involves natural instruments that perform music live in a real space (e.g., classical, opera, some jazz, some big-band, some folk music, some blues, etc.), then that involves different challenges. For example, the challenge of reproducing the timbre of natural instruments. We know what a violin sounds like. We know how a trumpet sounds. We know how an oboe sounds. We know how a double bass sounds. Some of these natural instruments have complex sounds – and when many such instruments play together in an orchestra – the sound is extremely complex. Moreover, someone who has never heard a large-scale orchestra perform classical music in a symphony hall might be amazed at the power and the dynamic range. Bottom line: We know what a string quartet sounds like - and we know what a symphony orchestra sounds like (recognizing some variance in hall acoustics). For a classical music lover (and people who listen to other music that involves natural instruments), there is a clear benchmark for how recorded music should sound when reproduced in our home. Consider these questions: What is meant by “accuracy” in sound reproduction? What is meant by “true high-fidelity audio”? (I have several late 1930’s TOTL tube radios that are “High Fidelity”. It says so right on the front.) What is meant by the suggestion that there is a difference between something that you “imagine” that you hear vs. something that is “real”? Does science currently understand every aspect of human hearing as it relates to the enjoyment of music? (I don’t think so.) Do technologists have tests and specs that define every aspect of human enjoyment of music? (I don’t think so.) And most importantly: What is your benchmark for the quality of sound you are hearing from your home hi-fi system? (Someone else’s benchmark may not be relevant to the music you listen to, and may not be relevant based on your priorities.) Ask yourself: For the recorded music you will listen to via your home hi-fi system, are you concerned with achieving sound quality that is “musical”, or are you concerned with a theoretical definition of “accurate”? Does someone else’s definition of “accurate” make sense to you? Once you’ve defined your goal, how do you achieve your goal? Do you rely on your ears or do you rely on PC software and graphs? (Various approaches are not necessarily mutually exclusive.) Understand the concept of garbage-in / garbage-out The availability of true hi-res (e.g., 24bit/192kHz PCM, or DSD) recordings varies by genre. By “true hi-res” I mean recordings with hi-res provenance, i.e., originally recorded and mastered in hi-res - NOT Redbook CD (16bit/44.1kHz) converted to a FLAC file. Because I like classical music, opera, and occasionally ballet, then SACD, Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, plus downloaded hi-res (24bit/192kHz) FLAC, and DSD are all relevant. New performances of these genres are routinely captured and offered in hi-res formats, usually featuring multi-channel (5.0 or 5.1), and sometimes featuring audio/video. Your hi-fi system will never sound good if you use low quality recordings (e.g., highly compressed digital downloads, and/or poorly made recordings). CDs can sound good. Whether hi-res is worthwhile for you is something only you can decide. I suggest that a newbie consider this question: Why spend a large amount of money on hi-fi gear if you’ll be playing poor quality recordings? Think about your priorities and constraints. Money: Some people can’t afford to spend any money, and are looking for discarded equipment, or donations from family or friends. For some people, it’s all about the “thrill of the hunt” (e.g., when they “score” used equipment at a yard sale or the local thrift store). OTOH, some people spend more than $100,000 on their hi-fi system. Like many consumer products, there are dramatically diminishing returns beyond the price point associated with a high-value good-quality product. You must decide how much money you are willing to spend. Time: How much time are you willing to invest in the process of defining your needs, learning, researching products and services, shopping (possibly including driving to brick-and-mortar stores and auditioning systems), installing, fine-tuning, maintaining, etc. Architecture / home decorating / aesthetics Do you want all equipment built-in or hidden (e.g., speakers, amps)? Can you conveniently run wires? Are you willing to have large floor-standing speakers? How large? (I wish I had room for Jubilee or Klischorn, but I don’t. Tower speakers fit my living spaces. I own Palladium, RF-7II, and other tower speakers.) Are you willing to install acoustical panels on walls and/or ceilings and/or corners? (Rugs might benefit a room that has “live” acoustics because of hard floors.) It depends on your priorities. Some people put foam panels on the walls of their listening room. Other people put paintings or family photos on their walls. Equipment aesthetics are a personal choice. Some guys put flat-black painted speakers in their “man cave”. Some people want traditional style speakers with only the finest furniture-grade veneers. Some people want contemporary style. Have you seen equipment (e.g., turntable, amp, or speakers) that you think looks cool? (E.g., the glow of vacuum tubes in a darkened listening room. Or ,“blue eyes” meters on a McIntosh amp. Or the look of a vintage “silver faced” receiver with numerous knobs and buttons.) Think about whether you wish to have hi-fi as a hobby. To me, there are potentially 2 fundamental facets to hi-fi: enjoying music, and tinkering around with hi-fi. Of course, these are not mutually exclusive. For people who enjoy tinkering around with hi-fi, there are many ways to enjoy the hobby (many sub-facets), including, but not limited to: Some spend many hours focusing on LPs, or reel-to-reel tapes. Some enjoy cataloging and editing metadata for huge collections of digitized music, and seeking the most beautiful GUI interface, and building playlists, etc. Some are into digital networking, accessing all their music throughout their home by using their smartphone, and accessing their music from anywhere in the world. Some people are interested in vacuum tube technology, and enjoy tube rolling. Some people enjoy using calibrated microphones to measure and plot the sound in their room, and use DSP based gizmos to adjust frequency and delay, and use separate amps for each driver. Some people are interested in DIY (e.g., building your own speakers based on on-line plans, or building an amplifier from a kit, or restoring old gear). Etc. Some people aren’t only looking for the most efficient or effective means to increase their sound quality. They’re also looking to have fun in the process. My Advice: Listen with your own ears. My opinion: Don’t rely on “experts” to tell you what is best for you. Rely on your ears and your brain. Either you’re moved by the music being reproduced by your hi-fi system, or not. IME, technical specifications (or plotted graphs) can’t completely predict or explain your visceral response to what you hear. (FWIW, I have a science and technology background – for more than 45 years – so I’m NOT anti-science.) Science is, of course, essential in the development and testing of electronic equipment. However, IMO, acceptable technical specs represent a necessary though not sufficient condition for good sound quality from a hi-fi system. IME, part of achieving excellent sound quality from a hi-fi system involves some “seat of the pants” judgements and decisions vs. relying strictly on instrumentation. One of the most challenging aspects of the hobby of hi-fi these days is the limited number of retail showrooms where you can listen to equipment. If you are respectful and professional in your postings on a forum such as this, another forum member with similar interests might invite you into their home to hear their equipment. (I’ve done this once. I was glad to have a husband and wife – both classical musicians – come to my home and listen to a variety of speakers and amps and recordings (including hi-res and CDs) – and I think it was useful to them.) Final Thoughts I suggest that you ask for recommendations for speakers and amps from people with similar tastes in music, who have similar room size, similar listening preferences, and similar budget. However, you must listen for yourself. Only one opinion matters regarding sound quality: yours. The debate about what different people hear in reproduced music will never be settled. Pick the system that sounds best to you, and when you must make compromises, then choose the trade-offs that suit you best. My experience: Klipsch speakers and tube amps go together like peanut butter and jelly. (Except that IMO sometimes a solid-state amp does a better job of delivering the sharp attack of a grand piano.) Each audiophile must decide if a tube amp or solid-state is best for them. On one hand, a tube amp with point-to-point wiring is repairable, OTOH occasionally tubes may need to be replaced. Each audiophile must decide if hi-res recordings, and/or CDs, and/or LPs suit them. Here’s some specific examples: When I listen in my TV room to my Klipsch Palladium P-37F and P-312W via my NAD C375BEE solid-state amp, my reaction is generally “that sounds good”. OTOH, when I listen to these same Klipsch speakers via my McIntosh MC225 tube amp (directly connected to my Oppo UDP-205 playing hi-res classical recordings – i.e., no pre-amp or pre-processor), I am more likely to be “drawn into the music”, and I’m more likely to “get lost in the music”. This configuration (Oppo UDP-205 direct to tube power amp) is a nice “minimalist system” – i.e., with the minimal amount of DSP “mucking around” with the music I love. Do I agree that “DSP is the devil”? I’ll say this: DTS Neo:6 Mode in my UDP-205 is switched OFF. My attitude generally is “keep your stinkin’ DSPs and PC software away from the classical music that I love”. Is this naïve? Were DSPs used during the mastering of some classical recordings? I don’t know. I do know that for some classical recordings, the producers claim that no DPSs were involved. I believe in keeping things as simple as possible. For hi-res digital recordings, IMO my Oppo UDP-205 directly connected to a tube power amp is as simple as possible. As I type this I’m listening to a hi-res recording (24bit/192kHz FLAC download) in my office of Beethoven Late String Quartets. I began my listening via my NAD D 3020 Class D solid-state amp, and then switched to my Fisher 500C tube receiver, and then my Scott 299B tube amp. I prefer the sound of the tube amps. (On this particular recording, I preferred the Scott 299B and its 7189 output tubes. However, on different music my choice in amps might be different.) When listening to classical music I sometimes find that solid-state amps sound “dry” compared to tube amps, and more importantly compared with what I remember hearing in the symphony hall. And, IMO the “dry” sound of some solid-state amps is a form of distortion that is less appealing – and less musical – compared with the distortions introduced by my tube amps. IMO all hi-fi equipment is like all creations of mankind – i.e., imperfect. My advice: Choose the imperfections that suit you. I’m unconcerned with whether technologists can explain why a solid-state amp sounds “dry”. I’m concerned with what sounds best to my ears, when listening to music that I like. Regarding surround-sound audio/video, in my basement system I use an Oppo UDP-205 for surround-sound Blu-ray (some audio-only, some audio/video), and for SACD recordings of classical music and opera. (There are many audio/video Blu-rays available for opera, ballet, and classical concerts that feature surround-sound. There are some Pure Audio Blu-ray (i.e., audio only) discs that feature surround-sound. And there are many multi-channel SACDs for classical music.) I use tube amps to drive RF-7IIs for a 4.2 configuration (i.e., 2 powered subwoofers) in my basement system. This system can deliver the full power – and natural sound – of what I remember hearing in the symphony hall. IMO, one thing is certain: Your approach to hi-fi will likely vary based on the music you like, based on your goals, and based on your priorities and constraints.
  5. robert_kc

    forte 1 with tube amp

    What types of music do you listen to?
  6. robert_kc

    FYI For Palladium Owners and Klipsch

    I checked mine. No Problem.
  7. robert_kc

    Two receivers, One set of Speakers

    Here's my 2 cents: Terminate the speaker cables with banana plugs. Wire the amplifiers' speaker connections to one of these: https://www.vadcon.com/pp/pps8-bbgs.html https://www.vadcon.com/pp/pps16-bbgs.html https://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-Binding-Two-Piece-Coupler-Speakers/dp/B075CV2GD5/ref=pd_day0_hl_23_6?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B075CV2GD5&pd_rd_r=54165784-b317-11e8-8742-1712fd196554&pd_rd_w=kBCQt&pd_rd_wg=AeLrp&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=ad07871c-e646-4161-82c7-5ed0d4c85b07&pf_rd_r=QEC02WSKSZDS43KEGQ26&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&psc=1&refRID=QEC02WSKSZDS43KEGQ26 With the amplifiers powered off, you simply plug whichever speakers you want into whichever amp you want. Use something like a Niles AXP-1 to switch the RCA output (e.g., from CD player) between the amps. This can serve many amps, and many speakers, and has no amp power limitations, and no concerns about frying an amp because of what's going in inside a box. I have this installed in several systems. Works great.
  8. robert_kc

    Vintage Telefunken Stereo Console

    Blaupunkt? Is it tube or solid state? If tube, definitely restore it - i.e., preserve it for what it is. Even if it's solid state, and it works, I'd preserve it.
  9. robert_kc

    What does RMS mean

    The question "how much amp power is adequate" cannot be answered without knowing: The sensitivity rating of your speakers. (Sensitivity is rated on a logarithmic scale. As a result, different speakers can need significantly differing amounts of amplifier power.) The size of your listening room The types of music you listen to Whether you listen to modern "hi-res" recordings that can have relatively high dynamic range (depending on genre) Whether you use a powered subwoofer with crossover before the main amp, thereby off-loading the main amp and speakers How loud you like to listen FYI, many people who use high-sensitivity Klipsch speakers use tube amps with less than 10wpc. (Because of different clipping characteristics, solid state amps generally need significantly more power than tube amps in order to perform satisfactorily.)
  10. robert_kc

    Vinyl Sound

    There are many modern classical recordings that were captured in hi-res, and are available to consumers in a variety of hi-res formats (SACD, Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, 24bit/192kHz downloads, and DSD downloads). Hi-res recordings are available in stereo, multi-channel, and audio/video. For classical music, “LPs vs. CDs” is a false dichotomy.
  11. robert_kc

    Speaker Switch with tube amps?

    Here's my 2 cents:Terminate the speaker cables with banana plugs. Wire the amplifiers' speaker connections to one of these:http://www.vadcon.com/pp/pps16-bbgs.html http://www.vadcon.com/pp/pps8-bbns.htmlWith the amplifiers powered off, you simply plug whichever speakers you want into whichever amp you want.Use something like a Niles AXP-1 to switch the RCA output (e.g., from CD player) between the amps.This can serve many amps, and many speakers, and has no amp power limitations, and no concerns about frying an amp because of what's going in inside a box.I have this installed in several systems. Works great.
  12. I agree that sometimes classical music fans must decide between an older performance that they prefer vs. a newer recording that has better audio. As I said in another thread, I’m not a music scholar, so I’m not hypercritical of the performance. I enjoy many modern conductors and orchestras. (Some experts on operatic singing are so critical of technique that I wonder if they enjoy more than a small percentage of recordings available.) Specific to Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”, as I said in the other thread, I think that my hi-res FLAC download of the following 2011 recording has better audio quality than the 1982 recording by the LA Philharmonic, and is an enjoyable performance: An eBay seller is offering a new multi-channel hybrid SACD of this “American Stringbook” by the do.gma chamber orchestra for $14.15 US, free shipping. With that said, certainly there are some performances that are difficult to match. Here’s a 1982 Zeffirelli film adaptation of “La Traviata” that for me has not yet been bettered. This was recorded on 35mm film. I have a DVD. I hope that someday the 35mm film will be re-digitized and remastered as high definition video and hi-res audio (i.e., Blu-ray or Ultra HD Blu-ray).
  13. I listened to the loud passage (the part that sounds harsh) of the 1982 recording by Bernstein “as delivered” via the CD (i.e., as mastered by DG), and then with your EQ applied (i.e., your XML file imported in Audacity, Effect, Equalization). As expected, with your EQ applied, the treble is significantly attenuated, and IMO doesn’t sound good at all. Unless I’m missing something – and bearing in mind that I’m not a recording engineer - I think it’s more accurate to call this “attenuating the treble of a poor quality recording” – vs. “demastering”. To each their own. I prefer to buy a newer performance and better quality hi-res recording, vs. using Audacity to adjust EQ on an old recording that has poor audio quality. P.S. My hi-fi systems are tuned by ear, and sound great when fed a good quality recording. My benchmark is live classical music.
  14. Here’s a CD that includes a recording of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” that I think has poor audio quality: This is a DDD recording from 1982. I don’t think the harshness has to do with frequency imbalance. I’m not an expert – my suspicion is that it has more to do with early digitization technology. Here’s a hi-res FLAC download of a 2011 recording that I think has better audio quality: This recording does not have attenuated high frequencies, and yet doesn’t sound harsh (to my ears). Bottom line - I don’t think the difference in audio quality between these two recordings is primarily due to frequency balance. (I imagine that LP aficionados have AAA LPs that don’t sound harsh, and have vivid presentation of the massed violins.) If Bernstein’s performance with the LA Philharmonic had been recorded on analog tape, then perhaps the recording could be re-digitized and remastered from the original analog tapes and delivered as a hi-res digital deliverable. I don’t doubt that attenuating the high frequencies of the 1982 recording by Bernstein would make this recording sound less harsh, but I would not characterize this as “demastering”. (Perhaps I’m just hung up on semantics.) Am I missing something?
  15. robert_kc

    Klipsch speakers x Classical Music

    Chris: I’ve read your other thread, and your instructions. I’ve downloaded Audacity 2.2.2 Am I correct that you’re using Audacity as a graphic equalizer? Everyone’s situation is different, but based on what I’ve read thus far, I don’t feel enthused about using a graphic equalizer to manipulate my classical music files. I can use a tube preamp with tone controls when I want, and 3 of my systems have subwoofers with remote controls. Since I have 5 systems, presumably if I used Audacity I’d have to manipulate each music file for each system? There’s no easy way to copy the SACD layer of SACDs, or Blu-ray, so editing those files apparently is out? I used Audacity to generate a frequency analysis for 4 different operatic sopranos performing 4 different arias, and I don’t see the point of the exercise – for me. Here’s Magdalena Kožená singing “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” – which is beautifully recorded: For me this graph serves no purpose. I suppose I could do a frequency analysis of 2 different sopranos singing the same aria, but this doesn’t interest me either. Here’s what I think each hi-fi enthusiast who listens to classical music must decide for themselves: For the classical CDs in your collection that have poor audio quality, is it worth experimenting with the Audacity software to adjust the tonal balance in an attempt to make the recording sound better? My opinion: If it’s an old poor-quality recording, then it’s unlikely you can “make a silk purse from a sow’s ear” – in other words, a poor-quality recording likely has more problems than tonal balance. (As we’ve discussed earlier, some RCA Living Stereo recordings as early as the late 1950s have surprisingly good audio quality after they were professionally remastered from the original tapes (i.e., true remastering) and delivered on SACD – but these are the exception IME.) I respect the fact that different people enjoy the hobby of hi-fi differently. For people who enjoy tinkering around with hi-fi, there are many ways to enjoy the hobby (many sub-facets): Some people spend many hours focusing on LPs. In some cases, a different turntable and cartridge for mono recordings. Perhaps different cartridges for different music genres. (Is a belt drive turntable better for classical music???? Is an idler-wheel turntable better for jazz????) Some enjoy cataloging and editing metadata for huge collections of digitized music, and seeking the most beautiful GUI interface, and building playlists, etc. Some are into digital networking, accessing all their music throughout their home by using their smartphone, and accessing their music from anywhere in the world. Some people (the cool kids) enjoy tube rolling. 😊 Some tube amps accept multiple types of output tubes, and multiple types of rectifier tubes, and multiple types of input tubes, yielding more than a hundred combinations of tubes, that to some people’s ears each sound different. Some people enjoy using calibrated mics to measure and plot the sound in their room, and use DSP based gizmos to adjust frequency and delay, and use separate amps for each driver. Some people like using graphic equalizers (sometimes vintage hardware, sometimes modern software) to adjust the sound to their liking. Some people like tinkering with room acoustics, installing foam panels on their walls. Some people collect 1970s era quadraphonic recordings and equipment There’s even a guy who collects 8 track tapes and players. (Google: Tracker Bob Hiemenz) Etc. My opinion - based on what I know thus far - messing around with equalizer software isn’t my cup of tea. My solution to a poor quality classical recording is to buy a newer performance that was captured via a high-quality recording (preferably 24bit/192kHz, or hi-res DSD) and delivered in a hi-res format (i.e., SACD, Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, plus downloaded hi-res (24bit/192kHz or 24bit/96kHz) FLAC, and DSD). I’m not a music scholar, so I’m not extremely persnickety about the performance. I enjoy many modern conductors and orchestras. OTOH, I can’t tolerate poor audio quality – particularly when the sound is harsh and causes listener fatigue. My opinion is that if the recording was made and mastered at 24bit/192kHz or 24bit/96kHz, why not buy it as 24bit/192kHz or 24bit/96kHz (e.g., FLAC download or Blu-ray or Pure Audio Blu-ray), vs. buying a version that was down-sampled to the 30+ year-old Red Book CD standard (i.e., 16bit/44.1kHz). Similarly, if a recording was made as hi-res DSD, why not buy it as an SACD or hi-res DSD download, vs. buying a version that was transcoded to PCM and down-sampled to CD. In rare cases where a performance was captured in high quality analog (e.g., magnetic tape or 35mm film), then remastering from the original analog tape can deliver good results. In addition to superior audio quality, modern recordings of classical music often feature video, which IMO can be an enjoyable way to experience a classical concert, and of course is particularly important for ballet and opera. As discussed earlier, for large listening rooms, 5.1 surround sound can be beneficial IME. FWIW, my favorite deliverable for classical music is currently Blu-ray video, followed by multi-channel SACD and Pure Audio Blu-ray, followed by hi-res downloads. (Ultra HD Blu-ray classical recordings are very slowly becoming available.) Bottom line: To each their own. OP: My suggestion is to try some modern hi-res recordings. IMO –a great way to start is the following Blu-ray box set that I showed in an earlier post in this thread: Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos Danish NSO Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1–9 Joaquín Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez Hector Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14 Richard Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie (An Alpine Symphony), Op. 64, TrV 233 This Blu-ray box set is currently available on Amazon for $40.32 US, which I think is a tremendous value considering the amount of music (12 major compositions) being delivered in high-quality hi-res audio and video. If you’re using an AVR to drive you Klipsch, and you’re satisfied with the sound quality – great. OTOH, if you think the sound is “dry” – or not musically engaging – perhaps try vacuum tube amplifiers. My opinion is that classical music, hi-res recordings, tubes, and Klipsch can be a great match in terms of audio quality. If you buy collectible vintage tube amps and you decide they’re not your cup of tea, you can always get your money back by selling them. IMO, buying a vintage Scott or Fisher tube amp is like buying a vintage Omega mechanical watch. Buying a vintage McIntosh tube amp is like buying a vintage Rolex. Either you like this kind of stuff, or you don’t. OP: We haven’t heard from you in a while. What do you think?
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