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Mas says,

"I reject this notion that there is no accurate reproduction system."

I'm on the other side. I can only remember a few times in my 35 years in this hobby that I heard music that sounded close to the real thing. I heard some fantasic system but not many are fooling me into believing I'm hearing real sounds. It's difficult to reproduce something a simple as a normal conversation! That's why we say our hi-fi systems are a long way from the real experience. Maybe the systems are "accurate" but it's hi-fi not live music. Anyway, that's my thought.

Thanx, Russ

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Mas says,

"I reject this notion that there is no accurate reproduction system."

I'm on the other side. I can only remember a few times in my 35 years in this hobby that I heard music that sounded close to the real thing. I heard some fantasic system but not many are fooling me into believing I'm hearing real sounds. It's difficult to reproduce something a simple as a normal conversation! That's why we say our hi-fi systems are a long way from the real experience. Maybe the systems are "accurate" but it's hi-fi not live music. Anyway, that's my thought.

Thanx, Russ

I didn't say that I had it or that they are readily available! But neither is my standard simply an arbitrary one based upon whim or fashion. And yes, it is a complex subject.

But my ultimate criterion of an accurate system is to be unable to distinguish the original source from the reproduction. And it is an ideal, and not one I expect to find any time soon. But my evaluation of a system is based upon the degree to which this ideal is achieved - not simply upon some subjective like or dislike of whatever FX or coloration is desired (as has been explored in several recent amplifier threads). And there is no confusion or unrealistic expectations. It is made cognizant of the myriad factors that are understood and not understood, and some that are still yet to be identified. But that is just my criterion. Everyone is free to use whatever criterion floats their boat.

(And to date the most amazing recording system - capturing 360 degree phase information and reproducing an uncanny 360 degree ambiance - I have ever heard was of the ITE - In the Ear recordings made with the ITE microphones from Etymotic Research that Don Davis experimented with extensively in the 90s and which I just discovered from Don that Richard Clarke - yup the same R. Clarke of auto and 60inch woofer fame - has bought them and is 'playing'/researching with them.)

I simply meant that this is a valid criteria by which to evaluate a system rather than looking for a system that imparts some kind of arbitrary 'character' or 'tone' or 'distortion' to the signal.

To me it is the standard by which all acoustical science must ultimately be evaluated that is not concerned with simply providing some sort of FX generator for whatever the application may be.

But no, I don't expect to find it in any system in a box nor X.1 system nor as a result of any magical interconnect. It simply serves to drive many folks' understanding of acoustical physics.

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Mark----A second cousin went down on the Royal Oak.

Ahh.. Interesting Tom. Well, tragic really. I've not read beyond the potted tourist type histories of the events--and those a long time back. Both the WWI German fleet was scuttled (self-inflicted) there, and the WWII (Oct. 1939...v early) horror of the loss of 833 sailors on HMS Royal Oak.

When I was staying in the Orkneys (30+ years ago) I was told that the U-Boat captain had recced the inter-island tide depths and obstacle placements as a pre-war tourist. Not sure if that is true however.

mas, I believe the UK nuclear sub fleet is based at Faslane on Gare Loch (HMNB Clyde)--S.West Coast of Scotland .


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I am having trouble correlating a good system making a bad recording sound worse than a bad system does.

I can understand that the difference between a good recording and a bad recording may be more obvious on a good system but ultimately even the bad recording should sound better on the good system than the bad one.

Did anyone follow that? I am not even sure I did!

Anyway - as a classical music/opera listener who uses almost entirely vinyl I can say I have good and bad recordings. I can also say that I listen to both - as the music/performance takes over in fairly short order. In other words a poor recording only bothers me for the first minute or so of playback (especially after listening to a good recording) and then I forget the quality issues and get into the music.

What has never crossed my mind is to take a poorer recording - copy it to a CD and play it back on my JVC boombox. However bad the initial recording it will not sound better on that than on my main system.

As for "re-creating reality" my take is that the only thing you can really achieve is to gain a semblence of what you think a given piece of music should sound like.

Aside from the obvious - were you there at the original recording session question - and if not how on earth do you know what accuracy is there is the further question that even if you were there how good is your audio memory really?

With my own system my criteria are pretty much as above. I want a violin, for example, to sound like I think it should. Circumstancial evidence points to my being fairly accurate with my assessment.

Of all the aspects of simulating reality probably the most abstract is soundstaging. On one level whilst I can fully understand those that say soundstages, due to the nature of the recording process in many cases, is totally artifical I would ask the simple question - why stereo?

The biggest change stereo brings over mono is that it allows the recreation (creation?) of a soundstage. It is a step nearer to creating a convincing "being there" feel to listening to music.

Of course - Paul is correct when he says that attending a live classical performance rarely yields the sort of soundstage and detail in playback that one might achieve in playing back a recording. I wonder, therefore, if it is a crime to suggest that in terms of the purely musical experience that actually listening to a system can be better than reality?

Could it be that possibly we are not merely recreating reality, therefore, but actually improving upon it? A good recording should represent the "best seat in the house". Further possibly the best seat in the best house - with the best performers, at their best, available for your listening pleasure. This is a rare pleasure live (certainly where I live) but quite common in my record collection.

My conclusion, therefore, is this. A good system (defined as one that sounds the way you want it to sound) will allow, subject to the recording quality, a near perfect listening experience. It should also maximize what you can get out of a poorer recording. If it cannot do those 2 things - then possibly that system is not such a good system for you afterall.

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Morning Guys.

I really appreciate all of you guys thoughts/ideas. Maybe I've just gotten to critical in my old age. What do I think marks accuracy? I want the band to sound just like it is in the room with me. Height, depth, width of sound stage. The drummer needs to sound like he's in the back, the lead singer in the front- usually in the middle. I've played music myself since I was 14. drums when in high school/college, bass guitar in a blue grass band for about 10 years and I still play classical guitar today. So I do have an idea of what 'live' music sounds like. I also am fortunate to have an extremely good music room. My house was built in 1850 and has brick walls that are 3 layers deep/ each wall in the house is 18" thick so it makes for a pretty decent sound chamber. Plus the floors have log timbers for support along with subflooring and oak flooring on top. The music room is also carpeted. 10' ceilings.

Somebody asked what I consider good recordings. As I mentioned in an earlier post, all of the Acoustic Alchemy stuff is very good. Buffets 'License to Chill' is well cut. These are just a few of the good ones. Bad ones..... Most of the old Moody Blues recordings on Cd. What do I find bad about them? The music has a tendency to vary volume within the recording, and the musical positions(instruments) have a tendency to 'wander'. Almost like the balance is being messed with. Probably not a very good definition but I can't think of a better way to put it. Just that the music 'wanders' or the volume is not consistent. This doesn't show up on the better recordings.

Phil.... Funny but you seen to have alot of the same hobbies as i do.. I'm also into telescopes... I've got a nexstar 5 and a meade 10' starscope. And I've got a whole bunch of old guitars....

I by no means intend to suggest that my system is 'perfect'. Its not, but to my ears its pretty darned good. I'm not sure that there is a 'perfect' system in the world. I guess the root of the matter is that I have come to the conclusion that mine is about as 'good' as I can make it. Alot of the tweeks that I have done have helped, but only a couple made any 'great' change. Primarily going to good tube gear and upgrading the caps in the crossovers. The most bang for the buck came there. Interconnects, rewiring etc all made minor, sometimes barely noticeable improvement. Other than the speakers themselves, my greatest improvements have come through the electronics. Now I'd just like to enjoy the music. Now that brings another thought to mind. Maybe thats the problem... I spend so much time being critical of the sound, that I've forgotten to enjoy the music... I think thats what alot of you guys are saying. thanks


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Few things on this earth are 'Perfect' and audio reproduction is a far cry from anything close to it. Audio is a means to an illusion. There is no 'being there' to it, as in you can not reproduce the experience of a live show. That isn't saying that a live show is a better listening experience than a nice audio system. I've been to a lot of bad-sounding shows - some truly painful ones.  Enjoying music is, in most cases, a given in this hobby and not the goal. Anyone who enjoys music can do so on a cheap AM radio and the vast majority of music lovers have little or no interest in pursuing higher quality music reproduction. Putting together a good-sounding system is the main goal of most audio enthusiasts and I have benefitted greatly by reading other folk's experiences and comments regarding their pursuit - that's pretty much why I come to this forum. 

Recreating the live experience may not be attainable but it is what some folks are going for while building and tweaking their system. Others only wish to create a pleasing sound but all the variables involved in the pursuit eventually boil down to personal taste. Everyone has their own ideal of what they want to hear as well as a different list of priorities for building their system. Its always nice to have your audio buddies come over and complement your system but given the same resources and opportunities, odds are that none of them would end up with the same system as yours. 

Just being on this forum and pursuing an audio ideal would be considered "going too far" by most outside of this hobby but within the fold, I can't imagine a scenario in which you can overdo it. Of course, you can spend too much money or buy your 'ultimate' piece of gear only to find that it didn't fit in with your system but that's part of the process and adds to the experience and one's education in this hobby. Have fun...
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Dave...before you check yourself into a clinic please try a couple of these selections. I frequently am bummed about how bad cds from the 80s and 90s sound and bemoan the fact that I own so many from that era. I need to cull about 300 from my collection. With a great recording I am usually happy with my system. Maybe we can start a thread getting folks to list their 5 favorite cds for sound quality. Here are my five.

Sonny Rollins-Saxaphone Colossus

Mark Knopfler-One Take Radio Sessions

Miles Davis-Kind Of Blue

Mark Knopfler-Shangri-La

Van Morrison-Pay The Devil

Sonny Rollins-Way Out West

Tahe 2 of these and call me in the morning.


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