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Too much transparency?

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Hi,

I'm wondering if people have ever had problems with there system being TOO transparent? I’m mainly thinking in terms of   a system revealing less then great engineering or mastering from track to track. Anybody find themselves gravitating to music they know is well recorded rather than music they may like, but can’t stand the bad recording?  High transparency is hearing everything, warts and all.  Has anybody addressed this issue when choosing gear? Example, using a less transparent Dac with a very transparent amp/preamp or vice versa? My question is a little muddled but hopefully you get what I’m bringing up.

thanks for any perspective on this, Ted  

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Maybe this is the entire quest in Audio?

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Yes Sir this has been the subject of many a post and thread here on the Klipsch Forum. Because Klipsch speakers are very revealing especially of bad recordings. There is a member here who "de masters" recordings to the best he can. Sometimes recordings especially the final mastering is so bad there is not much that can be done. I'll try and find his de mastering thread and post a link to it.

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It’s not any matter of choosing your equipment. It is a matter of choosing your music/recordings. 

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19 minutes ago, Bosco-d-gama said:

It’s not any matter of choosing your equipment. It is a matter of choosing your music/recordings. 

Sorry, but have to disagree.  It's all related, gear, music choice, recordings, room configuration and acoustics.  It's not just one thing.

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My experience is that everything matters and the better things get the more exposed the recordings/mastering become. Not a perfect continuum but  you get the idea. 

  1. Nothing really sounds good on a transistor radio, but if you like the music and groove you are still tapping your toes
  2. Put just about anything on a Scott Integrated tube amp that has been reworked by a guy that know his stuff and pair with Forte/Cornwall/Chorus and everything sounds darn good. Your toes still tap. Even if the room sucks and the recordings are sub-par.
  3. Reach your end all be all equipment chain (whatever that may be) say Khorns, separates and a killer vinyl rig and the good/great stuff sounds amazing but the not so good source stuff is difficult to listen to once you have heard what is possible. You pull out the killer recordings where you don't really care for the music from time to time just because it sounds so darn good....or to show off your system to those that say it does not matter. When you play a favorite that is poorly made you are left wanting, always hoping it will get there but it never does. Still you tap your toes and smile.

 

If you can live with the Scott and Forte, never wondering what is around the corner you die happy. If you are like everyone on this forum you are chasing #3 or are there and wonder why you dumped so much time and energy into it. You wish you could go back to #2 but it is impossible. 

 

I'm not a fan of the word transparency but can't really say why. I've heard some very accurate, detailed (expensive) systems that are too sterile or clinical. I agree with @jimjimbo that it all matters when you get past #1. Somewhere in the 2 to 3 things like the room start to matter a bit more and the gear a bit less....but to get it really right, it all has to be there. 

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A well designed Tone Control EQ for real world recordings allow valuable  compensation when needed or bypassed when not required.

 

This type of equalizer is easily adjusted by ear and can offer real improvement to many recordings by restoring a more accurate tonal balance when reproduced on high resolution systems. 
 

miketn

 

32240E33-8312-45EB-B3C7-4574C91EE4C9.thumb.jpeg.0919c59261cae1541d5ae90210a974e6.jpeg

 

28C0E7D4-81FC-4D7B-A10E-1BD592672B0F.thumb.jpeg.8988cce86ddccbbb72d7930229e9a43d.jpeg

 

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30 minutes ago, rplace said:

You pull out the killer recordings where you don't really care for the music from time to time just because it sounds so darn good....or to show off your system to those that say it does not matter. When you play a favorite that is poorly made you are left wanting, always hoping it will get there but it never does. Still you tap your toes and smile.

One of the more exciting things that I found is that the demastering of recordings from the late 1950s to at least 1991 (the year when the Loudness War escalated dramatically) results in a much greater percentage of music I both prefer and in its subjective sound quality.  After 1991, you have to look at the Dynamic Range Database DR ratings carefully--because the music has oftentimes been completely trashed--compression and clipping, along with way over-processing turns everything into corned beef hash.

 

That observation alone should generate some interest in the method by those that value music before 1991.  But it does require a little effort...and, shall I say it...a little expertise gained by doing it.  My music library rotation is large enough where I don't have enough listening time to listen to everything as often as I would like (and I listen ~12 hours/day, 7 days a week).  With my setup's subjective sound quality in mind, it would indicate that's saying a lot. 

 

I find that about 70% of the multichannel recordings require no demastering at all (...lately I've run into severely clipped rock multichannel recordings).  I've been collecting multichannel versions of everything that I can get my hands on--and the sound quality is generally outstanding on a dialed-in setup. 

 

Chris

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20 minutes ago, Chris A said:

One of the more exciting things that I found is that the demastering of recordings from the late 1950s to at least 1991

 

I find myself very interested in this topic and I'd love to explore it, like I have my active set up...alas, time is my real issue. I need to find a way to clone myself. Like that that 1996 film Multiplicity....just don't want the clone running into my wife in the kitchen in the middle of the night.

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When your system "comes together", so to speak, it allows you to listen to less than stellar recordings and still enjoy them for what they are. I accept the bad with the good without the desire to "eq" them. If your system runs you out of the room with mediocre (not horrible) recordings, you have more work to do.

 

Just be sure not to fall into that age old audio(phile) trap of listening to only excellent versions of terrible music just because they sound good on your system. You know the guy who has a 50K stereo and 100 records. Don't be that guy.........

 

Shakey

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57 minutes ago, mikebse2a3 said:

A well designed Tone Control EQ for real world recordings allow valuable  compensation when needed or bypassed when not required.

 

This type of equalizer is easily adjusted by ear and can offer real improvement to many recordings by restoring a more accurate tonal balance when reproduced on high resolution systems. 
 

miketn

 

32240E33-8312-45EB-B3C7-4574C91EE4C9.thumb.jpeg.0919c59261cae1541d5ae90210a974e6.jpeg

 

 

What a beautiful piece of equipment ------and one reason why Sound Engineers use Mixing boards in Studios behind the scene  -

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25 minutes ago, Shakeydeal said:

If your system runs you out of the room with mediocre (not horrible) recordings, you have more work to do

 

I don't think anyone on this forum is in the category. We just tend to exaggerate both the good and the bad. The change was jaw dropping or this sound absolutely terrible. Neither are true. They all sound different degrees of really, really good and beyond. We are in the 1%, surely the 10% of best music reproduction on the planet...even with our second or third systems. 

 

You could play a 128kbs MP3 on most of our systems with one speaker facing backwards and it is still going to sound decent.

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Great points from everybody!  Maybe it’s not that some recordings sound bad, but just so much less than the really good ones. Demastering sound so interesting, but I feel a large learning curve is involved.

(I’m starting the learning curvre to get to active networks first)

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49 minutes ago, rplace said:

alas, time is my real issue.

I guess it's like anything else...you do what's important to you.  Obviously, listening to good music each day is pretty important here... 🎶🎹 

 

It's always been that way for me, however.  Having to work in an environment without listening to music of my choice...some of that time is of interest to remember, but not to re-experience 😉

 

16 minutes ago, rplace said:
46 minutes ago, Shakeydeal said:

If your system runs you out of the room with mediocre (not horrible) recordings, you have more work to do

 

I don't think anyone on this forum is in the category.

I wish that were true.  I've run across a lot of recordings that are pretty horrible on the setup (listen to the CD soundtrack of Little Shop of Horrors, 1986 for instance).  It's just that I can (and will) do something about it.  A lot more than 50% time (more like 80-90%)--they're not horrible anymore. 

 

In the case I mentioned, it's a good recording now--much more than just "toe tapping".

 

So why do I keep mentioning this?  It's not about me--or my own enjoyment of music.  It's about you guys, especially when threads like this one come up (once again)...

 

MikeTN does it on the fly by album each time he listens using EQ in real time. I do it once, maybe twice (after I discover something else that increases sound quality of the Jubs/TADs).  That's the only real difference.

 

Chris

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32 minutes ago, VDS said:

Demastering sound so interesting, but I feel a large learning curve is involved.

You could learn how to "do it" better for the rest of your life.  The real question is: at what point in time investment does it result in "better".  It turns out, that happens pretty quickly if you are ready to do it--just rip the tracks to a lossless format--and start.  For some albums, the first time around results in engagement and enjoyment vs. "listening is torture".  It really starts when you want it to start.

 

[Perhaps I should cobble together a thread of "how to" for beginners--because there are things you can do right away--like declipping/normalizing and re-balancing the overall stridency of a track to make them sound much better on your setup if the overall mastering EQ is really bad.  That old Missing Octave thread has many years worth of learning curve embedded in it that doesn't need to be rehashed again.]

 

About 98% of the really old tracks from decades ago (60s, 70s chart toppers, and a lot of 80s singles, etc.) mostly all seem to have some sort of problems that are addressable: mostly boosted highs and attenuated bass to make them sound "better" on 6x9 oval auto loudspeakers (in mono) from the 1960s.  After 1991, it's severe clipping that's the main issue, and some creative EQing during mastering. 

 

Chris

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When I discovered Klipsch I found myself listening to stuff I would have never considered before and I have to credit my wife for a lot of that also. Used to be pretty much a 80s 90s hairband listener exclusively. But acoustic guitar sounds so good on lascalas! Now I have a very wide range of music in my library from frank Sinatra to avenged sevenfold and everything in between

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On 1/14/2021 at 11:24 AM, VDS said:

Hi,

I'm wondering if people have ever had problems with there system being TOO transparent? I’m mainly thinking in terms of   a system revealing less then great engineering or mastering from track to track. Anybody find themselves gravitating to music they know is well recorded rather than music they may like, but can’t stand the bad recording?  High transparency is hearing everything, warts and all.  Has anybody addressed this issue when choosing gear? Example, using a less transparent Dac with a very transparent amp/preamp or vice versa? My question is a little muddled but hopefully you get what I’m bringing up.

thanks for any perspective on this, Ted  

 I've been there and it's not a good place to be. Check this out: https://www.schiit.com/products/loki

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On 1/14/2021 at 10:24 AM, VDS said:

but can’t stand the bad recording

One of my favorite bands, RUSH, fell into the bad recording era for several of their albums, and I almost find it more enjoyable to listen to them on less revealing systems....like while driving in the car, because on my good systems they just sound awful!

 

For a while, and still to this day, a great deal of recording was/is done to maximize output level for radio play..... which killed all dynamics!!!!

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See the following for more on that subject:

 

There are some interesting developments vs. year of release that you can see, and the effects of the two types of albums, i.e., those albums that were compressed and clipped vs. those that basically weren't, which coincides with the genre of music one is looking at over time.

 

Chris

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