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About robert_kc

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  1. robert_kc

    To Pre or not to Pre

    I use Oppo universal players (UDP-205, BDP-105, or BDP-95) that can decode any digital recording. The Oppo UDP-205 has built-in high-quality multi-channel DACs, "pre-amp" functionality including selectable downmixing (e.g., 7.1, 5.1, 5.0, 2.1, 2.0), bass management (i.e., configurable subwoofer crossover), and remote volume control. You can play any hi-res recording through the Oppo’s analog RCA line-level connections. I connect vintage tube amps directly to the Oppo players (i.e., no pre-amp). IME adequate gain for driving a power amp can be achieved by adjusting a parameter in the Oppo’s software for the “trim level” for the speakers. The only times I use a preamp is for LPs, or if I want tone controls (e.g., when KT88 amps sound too bright).
  2. Yes, I love the classical Blu-rays. They feature DTS-HD MA 5.0 audio and 1080p video. (There are a few Ultra HD Blu-rays becoming available.) Both audio and video are excellent. I enjoy watching the conductor, and the musicians. The Blu-ray classical box sets are a great value - a lot of music for the money. I have a box set with all Beethoven symphonies, plus a box set for all symphonies by Sibelius, Schumann, Brahms, Mahler, and Bruckner. Plus Blu-rays of individual classical concerts, opera, and ballet. I have a strong preference for Blu-ray audio/video, vs. audio only. Does the video influence how I perceive the sound? I don't know. But I'll say that the modern Blu-ray's DTS-HD MA 5.0 is probably the best audio quality I've heard. I listen via tube amps and RF-7II for L, C, & R, plus a single RF-7 for rear, plus 2 powered subs, and this delivers the full impact of a live concert. And it has that wonderful tube sound. P.S. I just received bad news. The symphony is cancelled tonight due to ongoing snow. I can't remember that ever happening. Bummer.
  3. IIRC, when we had a classical guitar concerto a few years ago in the symphony hall, the guitar did not use sound reinforcement. Violin soloists never use sound reinforcement in the symphony hall. However, when I heard Pepe Romero (and I think his son and two of his nephews) perform in a different venue, they used sound reinforcement. BTW, I have a Blu-ray that features Pepe Romero performing Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. Excellent audio and video. I'm hoping that Tatyana Ryzhkova releases some Blu-rays ...
  4. The key is the venue. We are very fortunate in KC that benefactors donated money to build the Kauffman Center For The Performing Arts, which includes separate purpose-built halls: a world class symphony hall (Helzberg Hall), and a world class opera house (Muriel Kauffman Theatre). When the Kansas City Symphony performs classical concerts (i.e., the Classical Series for which I have season tickets) there is no sound reinforcement. Of course, when they perform outdoor concerts (e.g., Memorial Day) they must use sound reinforcement. Usually when I attend chamber concerts in various venues such as churches and an historic theater, no sound reinforcement is used. However, a few months ago I attended a chamber concert that was performed in a large meeting room of an office building, and sound reinforcement was used. I talked with the President of the organization that puts on this series of chamber concerts, and she said that they felt that sound reinforcement was needed in this particular venue, but it isn't used in any other venue they perform in. I was disappointed that sound reinforcement was used for this concert, but I complemented the sound board operator that he took a "minimalist approach" and provided only a small amount of amplification. There was a big stink (partly caused by me) when the opera company staged a musical (vs. opera) and used sound reinforcement. (The difference between opera singers and people who sing in musicals is that opera singers don't use microphones.) I've read that there are a few opera companies (other cities) that perform in halls with poor acoustics, and they use sound reinforcement. Use of sound reinforcement is very much frowned upon by opera purists.
  5. When my local symphony performs classical music, no sound reinforcement system is used. No sound board. (Sound reinforcement is used when pop concerts are performed in the same symphony hall.) I've verified with the symphony's Executive Director that during the symphony's classical subscription series the only thing microphones are used for is recording. When my local opera company performs an opera, no sound reinforcement system is used. No sound board. (Sound reinforcement is used when musicals are performed in the same opera house.) I'm not a recording engineer. I don't doubt that sound boards, mixers, etc are used to facilitate recording.
  6. I'm not sure what point you're making. I've said repeatedly that when listening to my home hi-fi system, I want the illusion that I'm in the symphony hall. And, I want inevitable imperfections to sound pleasant vs. unpleasant. Nothing is perfect, but many modern recordings do a good job of creating this illusion. All of the recordings that I've bought recently are Blu-ray audio/video of live classical concert performances featuring DTS-HD MA 5.0 and 1080p video. When the surround-sound is played back via my tube amps and Klipsch speakers, I think the audio quality is excellent, and there is an illusion I'm in the symphony hall. (And the HD video looks amazing on my plasma HDTV.) The reason I mentioned mid-hall is because that's where I sit when I attend the symphony.
  7. There is no perfect approach to assessing the sound quality of a home hi-fi system, including mine. With that said, I attend more than 20 live classical concerts each year, and I have a pretty good idea how classical music sounds when performed in its intended venue (recognizing that there is some variance in the acoustics of different halls). The benchmark I use for the sound quality from my hi-fi system isn't perfect, but it has validity for me. And that's all that matters.
  8. This thread appears to have become a contest in who can wear the other down via argument through repetition. I’m trying to avoid being baited into further beating a dead horse - however, I’m sorry to report that I can’t resist. Thus far 2 potential causes have been identified in this thread for differences in the sound quality for amps: tone controls, and non-linearity. I seriously doubt this list is complete. How do you explain the observation of some audiophiles that some amps sound “dry”, or aren’t “musically engaging”? IIRC someone rhetorically asked (many pages ago): “Is there a list of “approved” modern amps that meet some definition of ‘linearity’ “? I think that many audiophiles (vs. John Q. Public) would respond: Who cares? One thing this thread has established is that some of us value “musicality”, while others want to convince themselves that their hi-fi system is “accurate” (whatever that means), and some people appear to employ the “hope strategy”. Apparently, some people hope that they’re hearing what the record producers and engineers wanted them to hear. As I’ve said before, unless you’re using the same amp, speakers, and room treatment that was used in the recording studio control booth, or you have an EQ curve that mimics every recording studio in the world, I don’t understand how this makes sense. If you have your hi-fi system calibrated for flat in-room response (according to your “calibrated” mic and PC software), you’re probably not hearing what the recording engineers heard. My perspective is different. For the classical music I love, the recording engineers and producers aren’t the artists. For classical music, the composer, conductor, and musicians are the artists. (And BTW there is no sound-board operator, because there is no sound reinforcement system when classical music is performed in a symphony hall.) For the classical music I love, there is a clear benchmark for how the music should sound. I care what someone heard when sitting mid-hall during a live performance of the classical concert in a world-class symphony hall. I’m completely unmoved by an argument that says that I should buy any amp that is “linear” (and has adequate power, adequate features, and appealing aesthetics). I care about how the music sounds. Each consumer must decide their goals for their hi-fi system. And each consumer must employ a decision-making methodology that suits them.
  9. Thanks for the explanation. I have no insight into the "Richard Clark $10,000 Amplifier Challenge" other than what ODS123 provided: Do we interpret the highlighted text above to mean that there were two different conditions that might have caused Clark to insert an equalizer into the audio chain of one amp, in an attempt to make the amps sound similar? If frequency tailoring circuits cannot be completely bypassed, OR If the amp's "input and output loading" affects frequency response. On one hand, this seems to me to be pointless speculation. OTOH, ODS123 cited the "Richard Clark $10,000 Amplifier Challenge" as strong evidence that all modern "linear" amps sound the same. I'm wondering if this assertion needs to be clarified to say something like "all modern amps that are linear for resistive loads, and are linear when connected to a wide range of loudspeakers"? If so, what's the difference between this statement and "In the real world, all modern amps don't sound the same?"
  10. Are you saying that one factor that can cause two modern amps to sound different is "input impedance vs frequency and output impedance vs frequency". (I'm not a technical expert, so additional information would be helpful.) If so, does the "Richard Clark $10,000 Amplifier Challenge" attempt to mask these inherent differences in 2 amps by inserting an equalizer into the audio chain of one amp?
  11. Here's the opening statement from wikipedia re ABX: An ABX test is a method of comparing two choices of sensory stimuli to identify detectable differences between them. A subject is presented with two known samples (sample A, the first reference, and sample B, the second reference) followed by one unknown sample X that is randomly selected from either A or B. My earlier questions stand:
  12. If you're not sure about the meaning of this: The rules for the "Richard Clark $10,000 Amplifier Challenge" also state: "Compensation will also be made for input and output loading that affects frequency response." Then, why did you say this:
  13. I'll repeat the question I asked earlier: The rules for the "Richard Clark $10,000 Amplifier Challenge" also state: "Compensation will also be made for input and output loading that affects frequency response." What does this mean?
  14. Late at night when I can't sleep, I sometimes listen to the mono system in my bedroom, and it sounds very pleasant at low/moderate volume: The speaker is a single Klipsch WF-35. Source is an older CD player. Fisher TA 500 (1950s era AM/FM mono tube receiver).
  15. If you already own (or have access to) 2 stereo amps and 2 sets of speakers, you can cobble together a proof-of-concept system to determine if surround-sound suits you. You don’t need an AVR (or pre-processor) to play multi-channel digital recordings (e.g., SACD, Pure Audio Blu-ray, and Blu-ray video). An Oppo universal player (e.g. UDP-205, BDP-105, or BDP-95) will decode any digital recording. These Oppo players have built-in "pre-amp" functionality, including selectable downmixing (e.g., 7.1, 5.1, 5.0, 2.1, 2.0), bass management (i.e., configurable subwoofer crossover and RCA line-level connection), and remote volume control. Additionally, you can simply not connect the rear channels and have 3.0 or 3.1, or combine the rear channels for 4.0 or 4.1. You can build a great surround sound system with an Oppo universal player and two stereo amps and speakers (i.e., 4.0 or 4.1 system). If you’re interested in experimenting with this, I suggest that you conduct a test by connecting a stereo amp and speakers to the Oppo's Surround Left and Surround Right outputs and listen for how much rear content there is in your favorite recordings, and how much L vs. R distinction. Only you can decide if separate L&R rear channels are worthwhile. (For the classical music I listen to, there is little rear channel sound (basically hall sound) and little L vs. R distinction. I therefore combine Surround Left and Surround Right.) If L vs R distinction isn’t important to you for the rear channels, then combine the rear channel connections from the Blu-ray player into one via an RCA Y-cable. Connect one stereo amp for L&R, and a second stereo amp for center and rear. (Of course, you could implement 5.1 by using two stereo amps plus one mono amp.) I use the Oppo's analog line-level RCA connections to my vintage tube amps - in other words using the Oppo's DACs and pre-amp. In my 4.2 system, L, C, and R speakers are Klipsch RF-7II. The single rear speaker is an RF-7. Subwoofers: SVS SB16-Ultra, Klipsch R-115SW. I use whatever tube amps I choose. For example, yesterday I listened to a classical Blu-ray using a Scott 296 for front L&R, and a Scott 272 for center and rear. Sounded fabulous.