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Article: Why We Need Audiophiles, The subjective perspective
2Bdecided
post Apr 17 2009, 13:16
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Apr 16 2009, 20:49) *
The frequency domain part I'll agee with, but the time domain part - well numerous counter-examples exist. For example, one of the major innovations of the last 20 years in crossover design has been the so-called "Linkwistz-Riley" configuration. However Linkswitz-Riley agressively time domain response for improved frequency-domain response.
True.

However, in a digital world it's possible to make both excellent. I see no reason to compromise the time domain even if it's 100x less important. You don't need to make any trade off with digital cross overs, i.e. better time domain response doesn't implicitly make the frequency domain response worse. Of course, in both domains, it's what the errors are that matters, not just whether there are any - and in both cases, it is a real skill to correlate measurements with what you can or cannot hear. I don't have that skill - I'd do measurements and double-blind listening tests to try to understand the correlation. I think I've already reported passes and fails of such tests in both domains.

QUOTE
QUOTE
The front/back depth of the sound stage is increased, the location of (say) the singer is focussed more tightly etc etc.
That kind of poetry slides off the lips so gracefully...
Well, you have to describe what you hear somehow. Spatial width, depth, and source position uncertainty are real repeatable subjective quantities associated with audio. I made a psychoacoustic model that could measure some of them once. I make no claims of accuracy for it, but it was a start.

QUOTE
QUOTE
You can also put the speakers further apart before the sound stage falls apart.
Whatever that means. The means by which it was verified by means of a DBT seem to be unknown...
I don't have Harman's nice speaker test room to enable genuine double-blind testing of speakers.

However, I've tested many virtual surround sound algorithms, both via headphones and speakers. These tests were by necessity double blind - the listener can't see or know what algorithm they are listening to, and the PC doesn't know the contents of the files it is presenting. The qualities which you described as "poetic" are the exact kinds of details I was interested in, and reliably garnered from listeners. "It's further away" "It's closer" "It's over there" "It's not really anywhere" etc are the kinds of things that people say!


Let me be clear what I meant (though I'm convinced you know all this better than me): the stereo "trick" works when the perception of most listeners is that the singers, instruments etc which are present on both channels, sound like they are in the space between the speakers. The stereo "trick" can be said to be failing when that doesn't happen, and the perception of most listeners is that those same singers, instruments etc are difficult to locate - they're diffuse, or not particularly anywhere, or are clearly coming from the location of the speakers (rather than between them).

If you take a pair of speakers, and move them further and further apart, so increasing the angle at the listener, there comes a point where the stereo trick stops working. I'm not talking about toe-in (to keep a single variable in this test, you've got to keep the speakers pointing directly at the listener).

My experience is that the stereo trick keeps working at a greater angle for some speakers than for others. My guess is that this has something to do with the accuracy of the speakers, and something to do with how closely they approximate a point source, but I never had the chance to investigate further.


No, I have no ABX tests to back this up. Maybe Sean at Harman can do some.

However, there comes a point when is reasonable to assume that someone really does hear a difference, even without an ABX test. I suggest that moving the things that are actually making the sound by several feet is beyond the point where ABX tests are necessary - especially as there is already well-documented psychoacoustic data proving that humans can detect the location of something down to a few cm!


OTOH, I have evidence to prove that what people see affects their perception of sound location - putting an unconnected speaker at the location of a virtual source (whether the virtual source is presented via headphones or speakers!) changes the perception of that virtual source dramatically. However, having speakers visible which are well away from the virtual source has no detectable effect on localisation perception.

You could blindfold people to check this (I did) - but then if there was an interaction, you'd want people to be able to see the speakers, as that's how they usually listen.

Which is hilarious, and you'll hate it, but it's one example of where an audible difference isn't "placebo" in the traditional sense - it's due to a specific way in which our ears and eyes work together. When you see a speaker somewhere, you expect the sound to come from that location. You don't want to remove this effect from the test, so much as quantify it.

Cheers,
David.

This post has been edited by 2Bdecided: Apr 17 2009, 13:28
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HotshotGG
post Apr 17 2009, 13:58
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QUOTE
There is a cottage industry in the audiophile world nowadays (or at least on sh.tv) around hunting down the earlier 80s remasters of many albums because they are considered higher quality than their 90s/00s remasters. The alleged problems with oversampling, reconstruction, jitter, etc in the early 80s equipment, I recall, have not been legitimately tied to any major levels of distortion in the CDs of that era. While mastering processes needed to change for digital (and perhaps did so too late), I think history has smiled on the early 80s CD releases.


I have a small collection of original 80's recordings they sound about 10x better then modern masterings with a lot of headroom! I also have K2 24-bit remasters of a few 80's records that were transferred to digital that aren't even butchered as bad as some modern recordings are! I call it the "golden age" that period between 85-90 when they were using ambient miking with natural studio reverberation for recording and mastering CD's extremely well. They sound perfect to me.

This post has been edited by HotshotGG: Apr 17 2009, 13:58


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cpchan
post Apr 17 2009, 14:38
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QUOTE (HotshotGG @ Apr 17 2009, 07:58) *
I have a small collection of original 80's recordings they sound about 10x better then modern masterings with a lot of headroom!


Very true. Most CDs these days are casualties of the loudness war. Sigh...
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Apr 17 2009, 16:32
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QUOTE (shenzi @ Apr 17 2009, 06:47) *
Elsewhere on the site someone posted a link to an entertaining wire coat hanger vs audiophile loudspeaker cable ABX test ...

http://forums.audioholics.com/forums/showp...mp;postcount=28

I wonder of Guru Fremer's ears would pass?


The chances of Fremer actually doing a proper ABX test are about zero.

Remember that Fremer went to an AES demo of ABX back in the very early 1990s, but the simple thought of it triggered a major public meltdown by him in 2005.

IME Fremer clearly belongs to the same school of scientific crticism as Pope Urban VIII (1568 – 1644): Any finding that disagrees with closely-held tradition and personal anecdote must be false. ;-)
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krabapple
post Apr 17 2009, 16:45
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QUOTE (zipr @ Apr 16 2009, 14:30) *
Has there ever been any studies where vinyl, CD, and file-based formats are tested against an album master? If someone thinks a vinyl album sounds 'better' than a CD, does that mean that it's closer to the source material -- or the creator's intentions?



James Boyk claims to have done one between CD and vinyl, long ago, but never published it in any detail (he says vinyl 'won'). I can't find any links to it, but he did release a 'demonstration' recording of sorts:

http://www.performancerecordings.com/albums.html

QUOTE
pr7lp (LP), pr7cd (CD): Boyk plays Mussorgsky 1991
Mussorgsky: "Pictures at an Exhibition"
Performer / Co-engineer / Producer / Album Notes

World's only comparison of (a) pure digital, (b) digital-from-analog, and © pure analog recordings, made at the same time from the same microphones; (a) and (b) on the CD, © on the LP. The analog master tape was the first tape made on MagnesaurusTM. From the album notes: "Interested listeners may use this double release of LP and CD to investigate some timely questions: Given an analog master tape, which medium preserves its virtues better, LP or CD? (Compare the LP with the analog half of the CD.) Does a CD sound better made from digital or analog master tape? (Compare the two versions on the CD.) And most important, which preserves the emotional impact of the music better, purely analog or purely digital recording? (Compare the LP with the digital half of the CD.)"





He also records with a modified tubed Ampex deck....

btw could someone translate the following into a dynamic range figure I can understand? It would appear to set an 'audiophile' bound for analog:


http://www.its.caltech.edu/~boyk/rep-int.htm


QUOTE
REP: How does the noise measure out?

JB: Noise measurements are enough to drive anybody nuts. I can't come up with anything meaningful. What I want to do is the CCIR/ARM measurement that Dolby has promulgated, but I don't have the proper filter for that. My guess is that it's 67dB below 250n/W. (Complete specifications.) I'll tell you what I've learned, and I've looked into each of these questions elaborately: The most meaningful thing you can say about measuring noise is that with blank tape on the machine and the tape stopped, you read the noise off the playback electronics. Then you run the blank, unmodulated tape. Your tape-stop noise, playback electronics only, should be better than 10dB below the silent tape run noise at every point in the spectrum, looking at it with an FFT analyzer.
That's the goal. Then you turn on Record with the level pot down all the way. Now you have bias noise on there, and the record electronics, of course, and ideally it should not go up more than 4dB or 5dB above the blank tape playback noise.


REP: And that's mostly bias and tape modulation?

JB: Yes. Now that's the ideal. The theoretical is that it goes up 3dB. If you get 4dB or 5dB, you're doing great. But let's talk about dynamic range for a moment. The stock, factory 351 gives you a signal-to-noise of 60dB, very roughly. When you go to 1/2-inch tape, you gain 5dB. You ought to gain only 3dB because you've doubled the tape width. But the relevant thing is not the width of the tape; it's the width of the track. The 1/2-inch, 2-track tape uses the tape very effectively; 1/4inch, 2-track does not. When you compare track width instead of tape width, you see that 5 dB is what you should expect.

REP: What is the dynamic range of the machine?

JB: Using a peak meter at the Mastering Lab, we actually measured transients off tape, which are 14.6dB above 250n/W, clean. Absolutely not getting into the tape. Nobody would listen to it and say it was overmodulated, compressed. 14.6 above 250, which means it's 16.6 above 200, or 17.2 above 185n/W. That's almost unbelievable, and frankly a level that I didn't think tape could take. It's hot! With piano transients! I think part of that possibility, that advantage, is tube electronics, much more headroom and much more transient capabilities. It sounds marvelous.


This post has been edited by krabapple: Apr 17 2009, 16:58
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krabapple
post Apr 17 2009, 17:02
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QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 16 2009, 16:24) *
QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 16 2009, 11:02) *
IN his 'real life' Fremer was/is a psychiatrist, and in in NYC that can pay pretty well.
Fremer is a psychiatrist? That joke writes itself. Multiple times over actually. Heh.


For some reason I thought he was...but looking him up online, I'm not finding any substantiation. I do see he helped with the sound design of "Tron" in the 80s ;>

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Kees de Visser
post Apr 17 2009, 17:09
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QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 17 2009, 16:45) *
QUOTE (zipr @ Apr 16 2009, 14:30) *
Has there ever been any studies where vinyl, CD, and file-based formats are tested against an album master? If someone thinks a vinyl album sounds 'better' than a CD, does that mean that it's closer to the source material -- or the creator's intentions?
James Boyk claims to have done one between CD and vinyl, long ago, but never published it in any detail (he says vinyl 'won').

Not a study but this message was posted today in a ProAudio mailinglist, FWIW:
QUOTE
...we recently produced a vinyl disc and a DVD and a CD. All of the same 24/96 master.
The vinyl was closer to the master than the CD regarding the over all impression of depth and detail. Yes it was maybe a little colored, very little. But The CD compared to that couldn´t represent the 24/96 master as goog as vinyl. The DVD-Audio of course was exactly like the master.

Roland Storch
Adebar Acoustics
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krabapple
post Apr 17 2009, 17:14
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QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 16 2009, 18:45) *
I think it's abundantly clear that Fremer is all about emotion rather than audio quality in any meaningful sense (that we are concerned about). That vinyl has such noises doesn't matter, because he asserts it evokes emotion that CDs do not.

More generally, many audiophiles believe that audio quality is intrinsically tied to emotional responses. The two concepts are more or less inseperable to them. That such and such component has a terrible frequency response or high distortion may not matter to them, because quite simply, the "sound quality" is still top class. Just look at the emotions it conveys! And look at Fremer's comments on the first CD listening - "it made me feel horrible!". And Atkinson's comments on the emotions experienced with different amps that ABX'd the same.



As if these dbags never grooved to a song playing in their cars.

Most of them probably fell in love with music listening to crappy transistor radios.

A great thing about music is that it can evoke strong emotions with little relation to its (re)production quality.



QUOTE
I think that us ABXers and skeptics are also arguing fallaciously when we decry all high end audio as placebo, and/or highly corrupted by observer bias due to price/shiny knobs/etc. I think audiophiles can toss those sorts of things aside rather easily and it makes us look bad.


I don't. I see no reason to believe audiophiles are any less suspectible to them , than non-audiophiles.

QUOTE
Really, we don't have a very good scientific understanding of how sighted testing actually works. If we did, we could predict it. And we can't! We can make educated guesses, based on all sorts of sighted factors like cost etc, but nobody's actually argued these correlations with any degree of accuracy whatsoever. The guesses are plausible to us but laughably hypothetical to others.


Sure we do --are you suggesting there have been no studies of factors influencing customer choice? There are whole INDUSTRIES devoted to that.

No, it doesn't mean we have perfect predictors....but science doesn't require that to dub a model 'good'.

QUOTE
Rather, the problem here is that the whole notion of trusting some touchy psychiatrist fourty/fiftysomething's emotions when it comes to your music purchase decisions, or even your audio worldview, is batshit crazy - golden ears or not. And that's even before we get to the problem of trusting one's own emotions on the matter. I mean no offense to Mikey on professional grounds, insofar as his "profession" is concerned - he's not crazy, not evil, and not stupid - but he is elitist. I do believe he is grossly disrespectful to how normal people in this country listen to their music, and how they should be listening to their music. And taking him at his word on a great many topics will not save you money and will not make you a happier or better person. It only lets you perceive yourself as of a higher class for entirely specious reasons.


IMO he's a ranting, hair-triggered, ignorant (re digital) gasbag, on top of being 'elitist'.

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krabapple
post Apr 17 2009, 17:16
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QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 16 2009, 19:56) *
From what I have read , I have to say I see no problem at all with anything Fremer stands for.

He is a well respected pro in his field , & I feel he fights for what he believes in ,


His 'field' is intellectually and scientifically bogus, so to be 'well respected' there is like being a 'well respected' ghost hunter.

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krabapple
post Apr 17 2009, 17:24
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QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 17 2009, 00:13) *
Oh & Let's not forget the Greatest Audio Marketing Line / Joke Of All Time ,
that never wears off in trigerring my blood pressureon so many of our cds:

"The music on this Compact Disc was originally recorded on analog equipment. We have attempted to preserve, as closely as possible, the sound of the original recording. Because of its high resolution, however, the Compact Disc can reveal limitations of the source tape."

If you have been there , you know what I mean ,& it worked.


Perhaps because it was true. CD audio *could* and *did* reveal tape hiss that was obscured by LP surface noise. Not to mention that if LP production tapes were used to make the CD, you'd hear things that would have been appropriate for LP playback, but no so much for more accurate playback.


QUOTE
Lol at some stage everyone was getting rid of their Records like the plague.

Fremer won't forgive.


So? Fuck 'im.

QUOTE
Many of us that lost their record collection because of it & rebought their record Collection on CDs, only to find out the jittery truth afterwards, still feel the pain, now more then ever.


uh, oh *the jittery truth*, I sense a flood of handwaving coming on. You guys always resort to 'jitter' as the villain eventually.


QUOTE
When the 'New' Change Came ,& people were told:
"You know , we have done some research, turns out CDs are just not as good as we assumed, Here's a SACD for ya , now give me your credit card"
they were shown the door instead.


Right, and audiofools like the writing staff of Stereophile fully bought into that....the rest of us bought SACDs in the hopes that 1) the mastering wasn't loudness wars-driven and 2)the multichannel mixes were cool.


QUOTE
So I sure get it.


I don't think you do. Your bitterness is misplaced and perhaps misinformed.


QUOTE
for All these people, like Fremer, only NOW, true HD recordings can compete, but maybe too little too late.


There is no evidence that HD itself is audibly different from Redbook, at normal listening levels, so you're just buying into more shuck there.

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krabapple
post Apr 17 2009, 17:37
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Apr 17 2009, 08:16) *
Let me be clear what I meant (though I'm convinced you know all this better than me): the stereo "trick" works when the perception of most listeners is that the singers, instruments etc which are present on both channels, sound like they are in the space between the speakers. The stereo "trick" can be said to be failing when that doesn't happen, and the perception of most listeners is that those same singers, instruments etc are difficult to locate - they're diffuse, or not particularly anywhere, or are clearly coming from the location of the speakers (rather than between them).



Following Floyd Toole, I'd say it really works when the soundstage is apparently divorced from the speakers -- that is, there is wide 'apparent source width' extending *beyond* the speakers, where appropriate (like a symphony orchestra) , as well as 'sound objects ' in between them, as well as a sense of 'listener envelopment' that replaces the actual listening room with the illusion of another space; finally, there is also front-to back depth in the placement of instruments.

With a *two channel* system I've only ever experienced something like this in near-field listening...though the soundstage width was compromised.


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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Apr 17 2009, 20:16
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Apr 17 2009, 08:16) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Apr 16 2009, 20:49) *
The frequency domain part I'll agee with, but the time domain part - well numerous counter-examples exist. For example, one of the major innovations of the last 20 years in crossover design has been the so-called "Linkwistz-Riley" configuration. However Linkswitz-Riley agressively time domain response for improved frequency-domain response.
True.

However, in a digital world it's possible to make both excellent.


Not in any universe that I'm familiar with. Perhaps its my high standards for flat and smooth frequency response - deviations less than a few tenths of a dB from 20-20 KHz.

QUOTE
I see no reason to compromise the time domain even if it's 100x less important. You don't need to make any trade off with digital cross overs, i.e. better time domain response doesn't implicitly make the frequency domain response worse. Of course, in both domains, it's what the errors are that matters, not just whether there are any - and in both cases, it is a real skill to correlate measurements with what you can or cannot hear. I don't have that skill - I'd do measurements and double-blind listening tests to try to understand the correlation. I think I've already reported passes and fails of such tests in both domains.


In the universe that I inhabit, digital techology is often proudly used to implement Linkwitz-Riley crossovers...

Take a speaker system and equalize it within a few tenths and then move your measurement location a few inches. There went your claimed precise performance! ;-)


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B0RK
post Apr 17 2009, 21:14
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First,
@2Bdecided ,Thanks you for bringing some much needed finer angles to this discussion, thanks.


@
QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 17 2009, 11:37) *
Following Floyd Toole, I'd say it really works when the soundstage is apparently divorced from the speakers -- that is, there is wide 'apparent source width' extending *beyond* the speakers, .... finally, there is also front-to back depth in the placement of instruments.

With a *two channel* system I've only ever experienced something like this in near-field listening...though the soundstage width was compromised.


That's interesting , I still could not figure what hat you were wearing as some your posts suggested you read some of the studies about analog gear & subscribed to the findings , but then you go & say things like Fuck Fremer.. dbags etc ..

Feel free to ignore that tip, but for those that might read it & try to get the effect happenning on their system, I find it quite interesting you experienced something like this in near field listening, as the effect does not materialize without some distance from the speakers to your ears, for bass to flesh out & create a good weighty Center.

for all of the 'technical' posts about vinyl ... right ..
I am far from a vinyl expert, but saying stuff like
.." a $350,000 system is wasted on a Record player as a source".... O-K.

All I can say is : Please do your homework & read some measurements & analysis about what's possible with vinyl & Tape, then reconsider your statements.

QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Apr 16 2009, 23:32) *
People with iPods using the stock earbuds represent the majority market here (not here in hydrogenaudio but the general audio community). It doesn't mean they are right, it just means they are the majority.

Again, what is wrong with lossy encoding? There are many people throughout the world (and many respected members here) who cannot properly differentiate between lossy files and lossless ones. What is so wrong with that?

I would hate to know what you think of people who actually pay for lossy music.


Hmm looks like I did not did not get my point across as well as I hoped .

Wrong is a big Word.
My view of lossy audio is not in the wrong or right perspective per se.

But, the misuse & promotion of lossy audio as a worthy Product, is indeed wrong.

I have been working with & around musicians all my life.
There's nothing in common with all of them, apart from being musicians of course.

Many musicians I have met , did not give a Rat's ass about their playback system.
But they had some fine excuses.

Some just are busy making it & hearing the real thing all the time,
they can see quite well for their reference use , even through a dirty window,
& some have all their money spent on their music performing gear.

But that changes, when they start recording music.
Even the Most Lo Fi guys I have met ,do realize that some effort has to be made,
to get the recording right.

I can tell you I have seen many people go from zero interest in it ,
to go all out & move from studio to studio , recording the same song,
to get something else in the sound.

Can you see where Im going with this ?
You see, Now they cared.

How many of you have sat with someone downloading some bad Lame mp3 rip of his own album, remembering the sound he had in the mixing stage, how disappointed he was from the mastering stage, & then seeing the horror in his eyes when he actually dares to play it.

You know what the saddest part is ? Some people will only know his song sounding like That.

Lossy Audio , as a downsized pointer to the real thing , I have no problem with.
I even signed up to help the LossyWav project.

Fm Radio is one great example, it can point you all day long to everything.
for some it was all that was needed, I know.

But it was never the real thing , never something you could own, buy, or god forbid , transcode.

It has served the Real product.
It has served the Real Experience.

Some views expressed here (I am disappointed to say), may lead the inexperienced music lover, that it is OK, if that's all he will ever know.

If Kids (or adults too actually .. )
want to claim something is Indistinguishable from the real thing- they must KNOW the real thing.
it does NOT mean you can claim so without a long & serious affair with the Real thing.

So I Do not have $4000 Power cables, & most of my LPs are scratched to death & never get played anymore.
& Yes ,Id LOVE to have a $350,000 System .. who wouldn't ?

Regardless , I Do believe that Itunes ( or anyone else !) saying buy the Lossy Album - & your'e done ! You Got the album ! , is an Insult to both their clients , & additional spit in the face of the musicians that make them.

When what should have been a low end marketing tool, becomes the Reference Product,
then Yes, We , Music lovers, at least here at Hydrogen , should have a problem with it.

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pdq
post Apr 17 2009, 21:40
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This is very disappointing. Year after year the members of HA study the issue of sound reproduction and how to improve it. They do tests and research the literature in the quest for the truth. Then someone like BORK comes along with lots of wild, unsubstantiated claims that I'm sure he will be quite unwilling to back up. rolleyes.gif
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rpp3po
post Apr 17 2009, 21:53
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A post's length often inversely correlates with the lack of sufficient data to backup ones claims. There is no scientifically valid reason to turn up one's nose at modern lossy encoders (quality wise).

But quality isn't everything. Alone knowing that bits were stolen from your source (in the believe that you cannot hear them anyway) may seriously harm an audiophile's listening experience. After having spent quite some time over the years with some of the very rare problem samples I know this feeling, you can have it without believing that it is justified.

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kornchild2002
post Apr 17 2009, 23:12
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QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 17 2009, 13:14) *
Some views expressed here (I am disappointed to say), may lead the inexperienced music lover, that it is OK, if that's all he will ever know.


Again, I fail to see anything wrong with that. Audio is recorded, mastered in the studio, pressed to CD, and then encoded by the end user for personal use (whether the process is lossy or lossless or both). The lossy encoder is doing its job if people cannot differentiate between it and the source CD. Who cares what anyone else thinks? The people listening to the lossy file are getting the full experience of what the artist has to offer. So yes, it is alright if people will only ever listen to lossy encoded files. Again, I fail to see what is so "wrong" with this. Feel free to post your blind ABX tests results (I won't hold my breath) and disagree. My point is that you have someone who fails numerous blind ABX test results comparing the lossless source material and the lossy version. These people will have the same listening experience with the lossy files as they sound exactly the same as the source lossless files.

I also don't see why you bring up music artists as you do. It has been shown here a countless number of times that musicians are just like everyone else except they can play an instrument (or sing). They can fail blind ABX tests comparing 128kbps lossy material to source lossless files.

I think rpp3po summed it up. There is absolutely no reason why someone should look down upon lossy encoding when results are different for everyone.
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Ron Jones
post Apr 17 2009, 23:23
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QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 17 2009, 12:14) *
for all of the 'technical' posts about vinyl ... right ..
I am far from a vinyl expert, but saying stuff like.." a $350,000 system is wasted on a Record player as a source".... O-K.

All I can say is : Please do your homework & read some measurements & analysis about what's possible with vinyl & Tape, then reconsider your statements.

I'm pretty familiar with the limitations offered by analog tape and familiar enough with vinyl to understand its inferiority to analog tape with respect to its ability to preserve fidelity. I mean, that's just a given. I've also tracked projects to tape: it's kind of neat, kind of interesting, but nothing all that desirable from a technical perspective. I mean, I could sit here and list all of the problems you can encounter in the studio when you track to tape, but it's a fairly exhausting list of issues. I mean, in 2009, I can't even imagine having to actually worry about bleedthrough, print-through and a tape machine's constantly-wavering bias. Then there's the constant degradation and...well, just count me out.

Based on all the information (real technical data) I've come to know and understand, I wouldn't particularly welcome the opportunity to record any source to analog tape -- not even to 1/2". I might choose to utilize tape saturation and/or tape delay as an effect, but my main interest is primarily in high bit depth, high sample rate digital recording as it affords me the greatest possible opportunity to maintain fidelity. I can mimic the effects of tape saturation with DSP if I want to with satisfactory results.

In any case, what specifically does tape offer me as an engineer and as a consumer that LPCM does not? What specifically does the vinyl record offer to consumers that Redbook CD audio does not? Purely from the perspective of technical specifications and the technical limitations with respect to noise, dynamic range, linearity and lack of distortion, what does vinyl offer me that PCM and 1-bit DSM (DSD) do not? Throw some links at me if you have some time and I'll work through them. Tell me what I need to be reading.

QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 17 2009, 12:14) *
want to claim something is Indistinguishable from the real thing- they must KNOW the real thing. it does NOT mean you can claim so without a long & serious affair with the Real thing.

I've never understood the "real thing" angle. When I record something, I'm not at all concerned with its "real thing" score: I just want it to sound good. A mixer is going to intentionally de-"real thing" every track on the mixer. If the heavily-processed sound is what that engineer craves, that's what's going to go into the mix.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Apr 17 2009, 23:47
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QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 17 2009, 11:45) *
QUOTE (zipr @ Apr 16 2009, 14:30) *
Has there ever been any studies where vinyl, CD, and file-based formats are tested against an album master? If someone thinks a vinyl album sounds 'better' than a CD, does that mean that it's closer to the source material -- or the creator's intentions?



James Boyk claims to have done one between CD and vinyl, long ago, but never published it in any detail (he says vinyl 'won'). I can't find any links to it, but he did release a 'demonstration' recording of sorts:

http://www.performancerecordings.com/albums.html

QUOTE
pr7lp (LP), pr7cd (CD): Boyk plays Mussorgsky 1991
Mussorgsky: "Pictures at an Exhibition"
Performer / Co-engineer / Producer / Album Notes

World's only comparison of (a) pure digital, (b) digital-from-analog, and © pure analog recordings, made at the same time from the same microphones; (a) and (b) on the CD, © on the LP. The analog master tape was the first tape made on MagnesaurusTM. From the album notes: "Interested listeners may use this double release of LP and CD to investigate some timely questions: Given an analog master tape, which medium preserves its virtues better, LP or CD? (Compare the LP with the analog half of the CD.) Does a CD sound better made from digital or analog master tape? (Compare the two versions on the CD.) And most important, which preserves the emotional impact of the music better, purely analog or purely digital recording? (Compare the LP with the digital half of the CD.)"




How uncertain abd overstated can this be? Let me count the ways!

The criteria that Boyk is promoting is "Emotional Impact". It turns out that emotional impact is a combination of sensation, memory, and glandular chemistry. Of the three, only sensation can be directly traced to technical influences like accuracy of reproduced sound. So, where science tries to factor out irrelvant evidence, Boyk is trying to add-in factors that are next to impossible to control.

Recording is neither a reliable, repeatable nor predictable process. I wasn't at any of Boyks recording sessions, so I can only guess at the work flow that was used.

The most important element of recording is the choice of microphones and their deployment. Typically one records a portion of the rehearsal and then plays back the recording to see how the existing choice and deploument of microphones is working out. Microphones are added, removed, or re-deployed, and iterate. The means by which the reocording is auditioned is critical as it colors the perceptions of how the process is proceeding. In the case of Boyk's recording, it would appear that there was one performances or set of performances that was recorded using the same set of microphones. Since analog and digital recording are generally distinguishable from each other, which recording was used to audition becomes a controlling parameter.

IOW, if you make an analog and a digital recording of a musical performance, the whole scene and setup will be inherently biased towards analog or digital depending on which method of recording dominated the audition process.

QUOTE
He also records with a modified tubed Ampex deck....


I guess we don't have to think for very long to decide which recording format biased his recordings. ;-)


QUOTE
btw could someone translate the following into a dynamic range figure I can understand? It would appear to set an 'audiophile' bound for analog:


http://www.its.caltech.edu/~boyk/rep-int.htm


QUOTE
REP: How does the noise measure out?

JB: Noise measurements are enough to drive anybody nuts. I can't come up with anything meaningful. What I want to do is the CCIR/ARM measurement that Dolby has promulgated, but I don't have the proper filter for that. My guess is that it's 67dB below 250n/W. (Complete specifications.) I'll tell you what I've learned, and I've looked into each of these questions elaborately: The most meaningful thing you can say about measuring noise is that with blank tape on the machine and the tape stopped, you read the noise off the playback electronics. Then you run the blank, unmodulated tape. Your tape-stop noise, playback electronics only, should be better than 10dB below the silent tape run noise at every point in the spectrum, looking at it with an FFT analyzer.
That's the goal. Then you turn on Record with the level pot down all the way. Now you have bias noise on there, and the record electronics, of course, and ideally it should not go up more than 4dB or 5dB above the blank tape playback noise.

REP: And that's mostly bias and tape modulation?

JB: Yes. Now that's the ideal. The theoretical is that it goes up 3dB. If you get 4dB or 5dB, you're doing great. But let's talk about dynamic range for a moment. The stock, factory 351 gives you a signal-to-noise of 60dB, very roughly. When you go to 1/2-inch tape, you gain 5dB. You ought to gain only 3dB because you've doubled the tape width. But the relevant thing is not the width of the tape; it's the width of the track. The 1/2-inch, 2-track tape uses the tape very effectively; 1/4inch, 2-track does not. When you compare track width instead of tape width, you see that 5 dB is what you should expect.

REP: What is the dynamic range of the machine?

JB: Using a peak meter at the Mastering Lab, we actually measured transients off tape, which are 14.6dB above 250n/W, clean. Absolutely not getting into the tape. Nobody would listen to it and say it was overmodulated, compressed. 14.6 above 250, which means it's 16.6 above 200, or 17.2 above 185n/W. That's almost unbelievable, and frankly a level that I didn't think tape could take. It's hot! With piano transients! I think part of that possibility, that advantage, is tube electronics, much more headroom and much more transient capabilities. It sounds marvelous.



I get 60 dB for the basic 350 recorder, plus 5 dB for the extra wide tracks, plus as much as 17.2 dB for the alleged dynamic range above 0 dB. Maybe 82.2 dB @ 3 % THD. Pretty bad by even 16 bit digital standards, but not bad by standard analog tape standards.
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Axon
post Apr 18 2009, 04:22
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Apr 17 2009, 10:32) *
IME Fremer clearly belongs to the same school of scientific crticism as Pope Urban VIII (1568 – 1644): Any finding that disagrees with closely-held tradition and personal anecdote must be false. ;-)
Heh... I don't think that is a good comparison to make.

There was very little scientific evidence that strongly advocated the heliocentric worldview specifically. Geo-heliocentrism was equivalent from a mathematical standpoint and was rather widely used. Without Keplerian orbital mechanics, heliocentrism was arguably no "cleaner" than Ptolmaic astronomy, and certainly no more accurate - but note that Galileo never actually acknowledged Kepler's work.

The churches' opposition to heliocentrism revolved entirely around the notion of centrism. (No pun intended.) The irony of this, of course, is that Galileo and the churches were both wrong, and the universe is certainly not centered around either the sun or the earth in any meaningful sense.

Urban VIII actually encouraged Galileo in heliocentric discussions early on (if only as a hypothesis). That Galileo was persecuted as much as he was, was not entirely because of his beliefs: much of it had to do with the (widely documented) fact that he was something of a dick. Writing a book where the theories of your opponents are represented by the character named "Simplicio" is just begging to get your ass kicked, in both the 17th or the 21st centuries.

Urban's role in all of this is almost entirely political in nature. Theologians had no problem with non-traditional theories as long as they were geocentric. None of Galileo's observations were being challenged.

QUOTE (zipr @ Apr 16 2009, 14:30) *
Has there ever been any studies where vinyl, CD, and file-based formats are tested against an album master? If someone thinks a vinyl album sounds 'better' than a CD, does that mean that it's closer to the source material -- or the creator's intentions?


Stockfisch has released a few direct-to-disc LPs with a parallel SACD recording path, bundling the LP and the SACD in the same (80 EUR!!) bundle. I think this is going to be as close of a valid comparison as you are ever likely to get.

http://www.stockfisch-records.de/stckff/sf...sfaceCP_pu.html

QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 17 2009, 11:02) *
For some reason I thought he was...but looking him up online, I'm not finding any substantiation. I do see he helped with the sound design of "Tron" in the 80s ;>
Heh. Thanks for the clarification, that might have gotten ugly if I actually trotted that out in a debate.

QUOTE
I don't. I see no reason to believe audiophiles are any less suspectible to them , than non-audiophiles.
Me neither - all I'm saying is that the "it's all placebo" argument is extremely easy to dismiss. It can even be dismissed on thoroughly logical and sensible grounds. Therefore, don't argue it in the first place.

QUOTE
Sure we do --are you suggesting there have been no studies of factors influencing customer choice? There are whole INDUSTRIES devoted to that. No, it doesn't mean we have perfect predictors....but science doesn't require that to dub a model 'good'.
Customer choice research has never been studied in the audio field with the intensity that exists in other industries.

Science it does require predictors of some sort. I think "science" is only content with indirectly demonstrated predictors for mostly dead or inscrutable fields where more directly proven, accurate prediction is not useful. That these biases are inferred from human psychology or anecdotally related as a result of blind testing does nto make them "demonstrated" in any statistical sense.

And I really think there is a huge use for more accurate prediction. A better knowledge of the mechanics of sighted listening bias - to the point of statistical meaning - could drastically improve the persuasiveness of the blind testing position. It could inform customers on what to look out for when performing sighted evaluations of speakers, when blind testing is for whatever reason unavailable, so that they can adjust their perceptions accordingly.

QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 17 2009, 15:14) *
That's interesting , I still could not figure what hat you were wearing as some your posts suggested you read some of the studies about analog gear & subscribed to the findings , but then you go & say things like Fuck Fremer.. dbags etc .. Feel free to ignore that tip, but for those that might read it & try to get the effect happenning on their system, I find it quite interesting you experienced something like this in near field listening, as the effect does not materialize without some distance from the speakers to your ears, for bass to flesh out & create a good weighty Center.
Blind testing is all about subjective evaluation. Few of us dispute that such small soundstage differences can and do exist. Krab's problem is that these differences can also be explained by sighted listening biases. Additionally, much of our problem with Fremer is that he simply does not accept negative blind test results as having any valid interpretation, which most of us disagree with. Finally, he's on the whole not as knowledgable as you think about audio engineering, and he does get important facts wrong.

QUOTE
But it was never the real thing , never something you could own, buy, or god forbid , transcode. It has served the Real product. It has served the Real Experience. Some views expressed here (I am disappointed to say), may lead the inexperienced music lover, that it is OK, if that's all he will ever know.

If Kids (or adults too actually .. ) want to claim something is Indistinguishable from the real thing- they must KNOW the real thing. it does NOT mean you can claim so without a long & serious affair with the Real thing.
So, to agree with Ron here, I am of the opinion that the whole notion of "the Real Thing" is a pernicious idea. Of course lossless exists as a reference against lossy - but what exactly makes lossless any more of a "real" "thing" compared to lossy, besides a) distortions which are rarely or never audible in some cases, and b) warm fuzzies? The distortions present in high bitrate MP3 etc are astonishingly minor compared to any number of effects in mastering, recording, etc. To say that a lossy encode is compromising the ability to "know the real thing" is just as false as saying that listening to a transcribed score compromises the ability to "know the real thing" as the original score of a classical work. Justifying a statement like that requires delving down specifically to what is lost in translation, and by that time, you have no need to refer to "The Real Thing" to begin with.

This is not a pro-MP3 argument. I am in total agreement with you about how a listener should purchase their music, especially in regards to iTunes. What I'm saying is, frankly, the crux of the issue is not based on intrinsic qualities of a recording, like its authenticity etc. And it may have very little to do with audio quality, except for corner cases like transcoding, small risks of encoder failures in iTMS-purchased music, etc. Rather, it has to do with a) the specific, testable qualities of the medium, and b) the larger philosophies surrounding music listening, which often have very little to do with audio quality per se. In other words, I don't like FM becuse it is "not the real thing", I don't like it because of massive amounts of its dynamic range compression and amplitude and phase eq - and also because of non-audio things, like the fact that I don't like the inflexibility of broadcast music, etc.

QUOTE (pdq @ Apr 17 2009, 15:40) *
This is very disappointing. Year after year the members of HA study the issue of sound reproduction and how to improve it. They do tests and research the literature in the quest for the truth. Then someone like BORK comes along with lots of wild, unsubstantiated claims that I'm sure he will be quite unwilling to back up. rolleyes.gif
I don't think he's making anything of the sort - I suspect he is trying to articulate an audio philosophy that is more or less the same as ours, combined with a music philosophy that is much different. Both are quite defensible, but I do believe they are using a poor choice of words.
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Ron Jones
post Apr 18 2009, 05:50
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QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 17 2009, 19:22) *
The distortions present in high bitrate MP3 etc are astonishingly minor compared to any number of effects in mastering, recording, etc.

Yep. Engineers routinely squeeze the fidelity out of everything that gets tracked with obscene amounts of equalization, massive compression, fake reverberation, multiple layers of intentional harmonic distortion (through the use of tube amplifiers and analog tape saturation/saturation emulation) and so on, and so on, and so on. Everything we do after we record something -- everything -- is reducing fidelity by increasing noise and distortion. We can never get any closer to the original instrument's sound, only further away. Each click on a rotary knob is just that much more degradation. Every time a fader's moved from unity, it's pure destruction (at least in the analog world, anyway)

One engineer I studied under told me a pretty hilarious (and revealing) story about how a mixer he had worked with achieved his "signature verb". The process was fairly straightforward: the mixer would have a prestigious L.A. studio set up a speakerphone in one of the live rooms and mic one of the room's corners. The mixer then set up his own speakerphone in his control room in his own studio. He'd call the phone in the live room miles away, blast the track he wanted wet into his phone's receiver with the control room monitors and have the studio at the receiving end record the speakerphone (with the room mic). He'd then go out to the studio, pick up the tape with the phone recording and drop it into his mix. He didn't use an advanced convolution reverb; he didn't mic his own live room; he recorded a God damn speakerphone. That was his signature sound.

These kinds of practices, nonsensical as they seem to the pursuit of achieving "good sound", aren't likely to change. Engineers are going to utilize wild and sometimes unbelievable techniques to get the sound they want, and that routinely includes processes that utterly decimate the fidelity of the original recording. And here's where audiophiles sit, thinking they're listening to recordings intended to mimic reality!? Hardly smile.gif
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B0RK
post Apr 18 2009, 06:15
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@Ron Jones
well ...Now in your post you switched to looking from the Recording chair angle ...

So first let me clarify what I meant with the "Real Thing":
It was from a consumer / end user, playback point of view ,as the real product, I never mentioned anything about an engineer being faithful to the recorded event .. as it's totally off topic (& as you said not that popular nowadays anyway).
If your'e a recording engineer , no further words are needed.

You'd know how hard it can be to squeeze the tracks in the mix , & you'd know that getting a 16 bit 2 track to shine as it did with the full hi res track count played in the studio is no small feat by any mastering guru's standards.

So after all that effort, having companies & people implying that even the (Downscaled CD) is not a mandatory experience cause it's "indistinguishable" & they can prove (lol) they cannot hear the differnece by failing their foobar ABX tests , & make people pay for lossy music claiming that is the product , is just outrageous really.

You know what I mean ?

This is where we are at now ..:
Every time the word Audiophile is being thrown anywhere nowadays,
you get a bunch of Trolls, waving their Ipods in fury, taking a break from doing spectrals of their transcodes,
& pointing un/ (& sometimes over) educated fingers at analog purists like Fremer.

I am just trying to make a case for why he is a purist.
& How being as close (or even surpassing the experience in a way) to the recorded event and product should be admired & desired by all music lovers, without looking at it only through my angle.


Now about the Recording angle of it:

If I would have taken that seat, Id say the exact words you just used , we are dead on the same page about that.

But Fremer ..Im sure you noticed, is on the Playback side of things ....

You mentioned you know the pain of getting a pure analog recording system setup right.

so I figure on 2nd thought ,even though you implied his $350,000 system is wasted on a Record player source, you'd agree getting a setup like his to tick is not easier ... if not harder.

Looking from the recording angle - I agree , I would never make the effort , & I'd never have the patience, to go the pure analog route today (excluding summing).

As for me, & I think I am not totally alone on this, I cannot help but admire the man for perfecting a purist Analog playback system like his nowadays.

sometimes I wish I would see half that devotion to sonics from the studios.

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botface
post Apr 18 2009, 12:35
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Just thought I'd throw in a couple of observations.

We all love music or we wouldn't be here. I can't speak for everyone but I assume that most of us love music because of the emotional response it triggers. So, why are we surprised if some people let their emotions "tell" them things that are probably not true. Isn't it just a difference between individuals of where the emotional stops and the logical takes over?

Do musicians have better ears than the rest of us? Probably not. However, they (and engineers, producers etc) are more habituated to sound as they spend more time exposed to music even when not deliberately listening to it. If they play an acoustic instrument and perhaps play in a band or ensemble of some kind they have a much better idea than the rest of us what their instrument and other "real" instruments sound like before any engineering has been done on them. I'm willing to accept that some professional musicians are more sensitive to deviances from "true" as a result.

There is an inconsistency with the collective HA position (maybe that's just because it is collective). On the one hand we're happy to accept that while most lossy encoders are able produce results that are transparent to most people, most of the time, there are problem samples for every codec that some people can easily identify. This doesn't surprise us as we know a lossy copy is different to the original and some people are more sensitive to these differences than others. On the other hand if somebody claims to be able to hear a difference in two items that we know are measurably different - cables or 24/96 vs 16/44 perhaps - we say that they must be wrong as the differences are too small to detect. Again, I'm willing to accept that some people have better ears than others and maybe they can hear things that I can't. Having said that they should be able to demonstrate their ability reliably and repeatably in a blind test
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ShowsOn
post Apr 18 2009, 13:40
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QUOTE (2tec @ Apr 16 2009, 22:55) *
I'm interested in what the HA community thinks about this new Gizmodo article, or blog, about Michael Fremer, an audio reviewer from Stereophile, which clearly goes completely against the grain around here.

Fremer is the guy who wrote a glowing review about a recent vinyl reissue of The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, but then a few days later was informed that it was cut from a digital tape, and thus surreptitiously took down his old review, and replaced it with one complaining that the album sounds too digital.

This is exactly what I expect from people who push nonsense as if it is an ideological agenda. The less said about him the better.


--------------------
www.petitiononline.com/RHCPWBCD/petition.html
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[JAZ]
post Apr 18 2009, 16:14
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QUOTE (botface @ Apr 18 2009, 12:35) *
On the one hand we're happy to accept that while most lossy encoders are able produce results that are transparent to most people, most of the time, there are problem samples for every codec that some people can easily identify.
[...]
On the other hand if somebody claims to be able to hear a difference in two items that we know are measurably different - cables or 24/96 vs 16/44 perhaps - we say that they must be wrong as the differences are too small to detect.


I believe you got that wrong. Let me show you why:

First, what we accept is that lossy encoders, most of the time, do what they are designed to do, which is reproduce an encoded audio signal(*1) which is indistinguishable(*2) from the original, and using much less bits to store that signal compared to the original.

Problem (aka killer) samples define either an error in the implementation, or a deficiency of the format or methods used by that format. Some people are more sensitive to some types of artifacts, but that doesn't mean we accept they to tell us so without an accepted methodology.

Then, you throw in that we don't accept that a measurable (by hardware or software) difference could be heard by someone.

Well, of course, we do not accept that, if it is not proven by accepted methods, just like we would do with one person throwing in a killer sample.

In other words, the importance, for us, is to ensure that when talking about audio, only the audible differences are taken in consideration.

That's the corner stone of it all.


(*1) audio signal, specifically one in the range of the human perception
(*2) indistinguishable, not able to tell the difference, using accepted methods ( ABX/DBT )
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Axon
post Apr 18 2009, 17:13
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QUOTE (ShowsOn @ Apr 18 2009, 07:40) *
QUOTE (2tec @ Apr 16 2009, 22:55) *
I'm interested in what the HA community thinks about this new Gizmodo article, or blog, about Michael Fremer, an audio reviewer from Stereophile, which clearly goes completely against the grain around here.

Fremer is the guy who wrote a glowing review about a recent vinyl reissue of The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, but then a few days later was informed that it was cut from a digital tape, and thus surreptitiously took down his old review, and replaced it with one complaining that the album sounds too digital.

This is exactly what I expect from people who push nonsense as if it is an ideological agenda. The less said about him the better.


Wow! I didn't hear this story. Have a link?
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