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Music Lover vs. Audiophile


Mallette
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We might say then, that to best have HipHop and Rap in the home, one would be best advised to build a speaker system that looks like the speakers they put into cars whose owners play that music deafening levels as they ride along?

You probably weren't looking for a literal answer here, but the engineer in me couldn't resist :) But I also think the answer shines some light on the complexity of accuracy.

Cars have a lot of cabin gain due to their small size:

http://www.caraudiohelp.com/newsletter/cabin_gain.html

In the home, we don't have the same 12dB/octave boost, so the car audio sub ain't gonna achieve that blasting bass you get in the car. This necessitates a different driver design to achieve that same system response....

The interesting thing is that the different subwoofer system in the home is going to sound different - even if the same frequency response is achieved. That whole cabin pressurization sensation surrounding you feels very different from a standard wave passing around you. Also, the different driver design means completely different nonlinear behavior and that will sound different too.

I guess it's obvious that two different environments will sound different, but which is more accurate to the playback intent?

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Music lover---Ignores it.

 

I believe that the problem is that the average music buyer thinks that the music itself is manufactured by machine without audible errors (which, to some degree, it is nowadays due to the extensive rehearsing and editing).  The problem is--it doesn't sound like humans were in the loop of generating that music anymore.  That is the problem. 

 

No music is perfect when performed by humans, even though some may not hear the errors.  The noise of musicians moving in their chairs, breathing, and percussionists dropping their gear on the floor is inextricable from the music--in real life.

 

Chris

Edited by Chris A
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First and foremost I consider myself a music fan. I indulge in a wide variety of music and like what I like because it sounds good to me not because it is played on specific gear. I can enjoy music on a car stereo or ipod, but I am convinced that this same music can sound even better with better equipment. I think any of us posting in here have audiophile aspirations or we wouldn't care enough about sound quality to post. After forty years of dedicated listening on a wide and ever revolving line of gear, I have for the most part found my happy place......for now....hahaha!

Edited by teaman
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Let's face it: we're all freaks on this bus.

 

Have any of you met a human being who truly hates music?  I haven't.  This means we're all at least tolerant of it and in most cases derive a modicum of pleasure from it.

 

Now, how many of you personally know (forums don't count) at least THREE adults who have similar, equivalent, or superior stereo systems to yours?  I don't.  Most folks just can't be bothered with all the wires and boxes and things that go everywhere.  It's a "messy", technical, expensive hobby that tends to scare the women away.  Give most folks a Bose WaveRadio and they have everything they will ever need.

 

Bottom line: music lovers are a dime a dozen.  Audiophiles are a nearly extinct species that once roamed the Earth in large grunting hairy packs as recently as the 1980s.  If you own Klipsch, I would say that you are at least appreciative of high quality, lifelike sound reproduction.  If this forum is any indication, there is a high probability you are also an audiophile.  Deal with it.

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Audio has been a journey for me that started in the 70's and continues today.  When I was younger I wanted the high dollar solid state units that were available in stereo shops all across America. I was young, broke and had higher priority things on my plate.

 

Fast forward 30 years and I stumble across audiokarms.org. I find a vintage 70's Marantz receiver that I lusted after in my youth,  I continue reading about audio and tubes and horns pop up on my radar..

 

I purchase a pair of used Heresies , not good enough, purchase a pair of LaScalea's, not good enough, purchase a pair of K-horns..... Upgrade the crossovers along the way (Crites, DeanG and Klappenbergh crossovers in the LaScalas) 

 

Purchased a pair of NosValve VRD's and a JuicyMusic BBXtreme preamp...... along with a SOTA TT and a tubed CD player

 

Suddenly recordings (bad) become very evident............ 

 

So I start listening to recordings on the stereo..... looking for better recordings all of the time......I've reached the point of no return.  Going to have to spend a lot more money for small gains in sound......... ugh..........

 

Fast forward 10 years when I start becoming critical of how my stereo sounds, it's time to listen to new music......

there is so much good music, old and new to listen to that I will never hear it all....

 

Am I a music lover or an audiophile?  Yes.......In no particular order!!!!! 

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  • 2 weeks later...
It also doesn't help to know if someone is sharp or flat without having to have a reference tone to compare to (...I'm talking about a form of absolute pitch). It's actually somewhat stressing to me to hear music being played sharp or flat. I'm pretty sure that I'm in a minority but that standard has existed in music for centuries. This is something that I know I can't turn off, unfortunately. That portion of my musical background won't disappear.

 

Anyone out there that can hear whether a tone is sharp or flat?  I was listening to the J.S. Bach "Christmas Oratorio", and I noticed how the brass always sound way too sharp for these performances on period instruments.  Then I found this:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concert_pitch#Current_concert_pitches

 

and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concert_pitch#History_of_pitch_standards_in_Western_music

 

Now I see why I find so many common-mode noise frequencies on orchestral recordings, e.g., 58, 59 Hz or 61 Hz for US orchestras, 48, 49 or 51 Hz for EU orchestras (mostly sharp), when I'm remastering music.  It's important to get the exact frequency of that noise when attempting to remove it using high-Q notch filters.

 

Apparently one of the steps used in the music remastering process from analog tapes at the large record companies is to do a pitch correction of the music to account for the irregularities of individual analog tape recorders used, and that usually winds up pushing the line-level noise frequencies (and their harmonics) in the recording a little sharp or flat.

 

Not cool, but interesting nevertheless.  :blink:

 

Chris

Edited by Chris A
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Yikes, don't notch the power supply noise. You're notching your signal too - yucky.

And usually it's not radiated common mode noise, but rather leakage current through the EMI caps in the power supply, which conduct over the shielded audio cable. All that to say, the dominant levels tend to be at 120Hz (or 100Hz) due to the bridge rectifier. There are other harmonics too.

If you do anything, I would recommend a dynamic EQ with multiple notches that slowly rolls into play as the music gets softer - ultimately relying on the masking effect.

Even then, the ear tends to be better at filtering out constant sounds. I personally prefer a little hum / buzz over whacking away at the source material.

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Mike, did you want me to respond, or is this merely another drive-by? 

 

In this case, I believe you're probably out of your depth from the comments that you've made just above.

 

Chris

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Just passing along free advice. Why so cranky all the time?

 

I was once as zealous about "remastering"....and I've already been down the power-supply notch path. I don't like it one bit. Maybe one day you'll grow out the remaster phase when you realize the damage that it causes. And oh I get it, everything sounds better when you're doing it. That's the philosophical complexity of being a good sound engineer. It's one of the hardest things to teach my students, but eventually it clicks. It's just a matter of time. Equalization is an art, not a science (even though it needs to be backed by science).

 

To bring this back on topic - there is no way a music lover is going to appreciate giant dips in their frequency response. If it were desirable, then we'd see gear creating those notches on equipment without power supply noises. I simply don't see any music makers exploring such techniques. I'm open-minded enough to believe there might be some useful application like maybe a toned down phaser effect or something, but I don't see here thinking "Gee, I just wish I had a huge cut at 60Hz because it'd make my bass guitar sound better". And I shouldn't have to explain why an audiophile shouldn't be interested in such insanity. Oh wait, I should have used an "acoustic bass" as my reference - "afterall, electronic instrumentation has nothing to do with the audiophile pursuit"
 

Source material should be treated delicately and with great respect - that is the common theme I've seen from all the recording engineers that I've grown to respect. Guys like Dave are so delicate they want the blasted buzz from the lights in the room....I'm not quite that hardcore, haha, but that is an approach I can respect. Not taking an ax to someone else's creation...

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Maybe one day you'll grow out the remaster phase when you realize the damage that it causes. And oh I get it, everything sounds better when you're doing it.

 

 

:pwk_bs: Mike  That's not fair to Chris considering you have probably never heard any of his re-mastered recordings.

 

Any damage done by re-mastering when done by someone who uses common sense and takes the time to educate their ears is well worth it versus listening to the obviously poor mastering done in the original releases of crappy recordings.    

 

 

 

 

 

Source material should be treated delicately and with great respect

 

 

That's a wonderfull idea...to bad the majority of the recording industry has abandoned that ideal..... to bad reality is that the majority of recordings have so many colorations (intentional and unintentional) because of all the many non-standards in the process of all it takes to making a recording as well as obviously mastering/editing a recording to sound best on low-fi equipment and car system for $$$$$ profit first and not about mastering for the best sound reproduction possible as the main goal which they could do but that would mean releasing multiple versions of a recording and thus cutting into profit $$$$..!!!!

 

Some recordings can be salvaged/improved through the re-editing like Chris is doing or as in my case some well chosen (Tone compensation EQs applied when applicable during playback).

 

 

Sorry but IMHO there is no defense to what the recording industry has as a general rule been doing for decades now..!!!  It's really sad that we will never hear many artist at their very best and these opportunities are lost forever because of the recording industry's misguided choices of the last few decades...!!! :pwk_bs:

 

 

miketn

Edited by mikebse2a3
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Well, seems I am often in the middle and so both sides hate me.  (sigh)

 

While I've not had the pleasure of hearing it first hand, I've read enough of Chris work to believe he's mastered a very difficult area.  Shame he isn't in charge of remastering somewhere we can all reap the benefit. 

 

OTOH, I agree with Mike that one cannot alter any signal and improve it over the source recording.  "You can't fix crap."  However, you CAN ameliorate mistakes in transcoding or otherwise degrading what was once a fine master recording.  I've seen Chris' before and after graphs on some of these and if I can see the improvement I have little doubt I'd hear it. 

 

But I am also reasonably sure that except in absolute minimum correction I'd hear some artifacts from any change in the source.  I am speaking purely acoustically here as most know I don't do mixed or otherwise processed recordings.  Only mike to storage.  For me, this provides the best you are going to ever hear and you will never improve it, only change it. 

 

What I have little doubt of is that Chris can really do a lot to reverse damage done after the mastering.  Getting patched up is never as good as not being injured at all, but it sure beats sitting around and bleeding.

 

Dave

Edited by Mallette
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It is easy to do and completely reversible... (just delete the new files you created if you don't like it).  Every recording I've tried with Chris' changes has been improved. I'm curious about the "damage" or "artifacts" that has been mentioned.  What is this?  There is no equipment inserted anywhere so you can't be talking about anything except the source.  Of course with any bumps or dips you will bump or dip EVERYTHING at that frequency.

 

On the state of recording engineering, I imagine that engineers are getting what they are after and what they are paid to do or they wouldn't stay employed.  It is just sad that some of it sucks so bad in my opinion.  Could I do better?  Ha!  Nope!  Only by sheer luck and not much chance of that.  I never got much past a single condenser mic connected to an old Panasonic portable cassette player when I was 10 or 12 years old. 

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On the state of recording engineering, I imagine that engineers are getting what they are after and what they are paid to do or they wouldn't stay employed.

 

Absolutely true.  Accuracy isn't an issue when your target group has lost all ability to know shit from Shinola.   I am a realist.  They don't care because they don't have to and a love of pure sound isn't part of the equation.  Only little niche companies actually care about getting it right at the source and then leaving it alone.   

 

And we are their target...which tells you just how little and niche they are.

 

Dave

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What I have little doubt of is that Chris can really do a lot to reverse damage done after the mastering. Getting patched up is never as good as not being injured at all, but it sure beats sitting around and bleeding.

 

While the metaphor is a little colorful...yes, this is the case in all the recordings that I've unmastered. 

 

You'd think that the mastering done would be to add a couple of dB here and subtract a couple there, but what I've found isn't defendable from any musician's standpoint.  If you know the sound of a table radio vs. a good full-range stereo system, that is the difference in sound: it's a massive change that only iPod/earbud wearers and table radio listeners could stomach, (because they probably can't tell the difference in the music over their devices). 

 

"So why do that to the music in the first place?", you might ask.  I can imagine clearly where all this comes from...A&R executives and their staff via contractual obligation in the mastering engineer's contracts.  I can't imagine anyone actually liking what they've done (classical and non-classical).  Mastering has to be a very frustrating profession since you would probably hate what you're doing to the musicians' music and never willingly listen to your work after it was completed and released.  You're under a time limitation on each track (...it sort of reminds me of the going to a doctor and typically getting all of 6 minutes total contact time, on average), and under contractual obligation to produce music that's way too loud (clipped and compressed), as well as degraded with the addition of massive amounts of noise.  Refer to the following video, starting at minute 8:

 

 

I can't do anything about the mastered-in noise and little with compression, but there is a lot that can be done to reverse the clipping and the massive levels of EQ used...on virtually every commercially produced music track.  Fortunately, I see and hear that most mastering engineers are trying to use techniques that can be undone (e.g., clipping and EQ to sound like a table radio), rather than those that largely can't be undone (e.g., noise injection and compression). 

 

One of the most notable PWK former employees was John Eargle.  He was, in addition to his duties as VP of product development at JBL at the Northridge plant in the San Fernando valley, chief recording engineer for Delos records.  Most of the recordings done by him have been cast aside--merely 8 years after his death.  After you unmaster one of his recordings (note that he was never the mastering engineer, rather the recording and mixing engineer), you will find in some cases what I'd call magical recordings that have been disguised as poor or mediocre recordings, simply by the EQ applied to them after he released them back to Delos for mastering: I'm particularly impressed by these after unmastering.  There are perhaps two or three dozen of these recordings available from places like Amazon Marketplace for $0.01 per disc, plus shipping ($3.99). Highly recommended for unmastering after you've gotten a few discs unmastered under your belt.

 

Chris

Edited by Chris A
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Dave and Chris-

The name "John Eargle" sounded familiar to me as I read Chris's post. Eventually I recalled that his name appears on my Pono player as being connected to many of the excellent tracks on Klipsch Tapes Vol. I.

Are either of you familiar with those recordings? If so, what are your impressions? If not, they're available from High Definition Tape Transfers in CD or digital formats. At $16 for a high-resolution FLAC file, they're a bargain. IMO they appeal to music lovers and audiophiles.

According to a favorable review at Positive Feedback, the recordings were done with John Eargle as recording engineer under the supervision of Paul W. Klipsch. John Eargle introduces several tracks on Vol. I and, according to the Positive a Feedback reviewer, John Earglebplayed the organ on several tracks.

Edited by DizRotus
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