Quarter Notes, Volume 3, #2

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Dear Get Better Sound Readers,

Welcome to the tenth issue of Quarter Notes!

Quarter Notes is a quarterly newsletter for Get Better Sound readers, expanding on the Get Better Sound manual, as well as introducing new and timely subjects.

This issue discusses setting up speakers and what to listen for. But wasn’t this covered in Get Better Sound? Well, GBS does cover this topic. But this is the tale of my personal efforts and (sometimes new) revelations as I set up my new speakers in my demo room. It goes into more detail that I hope you can think about and employ for your own system.

Additionally, we’ll look at some other topics that will be of interest as well. Yes, I’m actually gonna take a break from Computer Audio this issue, except addressing a mini-breakthrough I came across recently.

Don’t forget, you are invited to e-mail me with your questions and comments.  If appropriate, and with your approval, I may include your note – or a reply to it – in an upcoming newsletter – as I have done in previous issues.

Best e-mail address

Since you’re reading this, the e-mail address that I used to notify you must have worked.  However, the only e-mail address I have is the one associated with your initial Get Better Sound order.  

If you have an e-mail address that you’d prefer to use to receive Quarter Notes notifications, send it to jim@getbettersound.com. Be sure to list the month of purchase (if possible), and definitely include the address I used originally along with the one that you want to use to replace it.

Health issues and your correspondence

Most of you remember the Interim Quarter Notes I sent out in late October 2011. In that update, I mentioned the health issues I was encountering and an upcoming surgery.

Initially, I replied to each of your notes, but it quickly got out of hand as many hundreds of notes kept coming in! I was surprised and overwhelmed (in a good way) at the sheer numbers of well-wishes, but I couldn’t possibly keep sending individual replies! So now, I want to thank all of you who sent encouraging and uplifting personal notes.

The total hip replacement surgery on Nov. 30 went very well. I have two more surgeries to go, but I am very optimistic that the outcome will be better than ever. Thanks for your support, your thoughts, and your prayers!

It’s not just babies that take nine months – the 1st comprehensive GBS DVD review is born!

We started shipping the DVD sets nine months ago. While there have been some interesting commentaries that have appeared, the first comprehensive review has just been posted in the new Positive Feedback Online – Issue 59.

Rather than quote from it in this newsletter, for those who might be interested in reading reviewer Jeff Day’s take on the DVDs, please go here:

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue59/better_sound.htm

The only significant area where I disagree with Jeff is the price. He quotes it at $39.70, the regular price. However Quarter Note Press has had it promotionally priced at US $19.95 for a while now.

Question about the Best Coupling to the Floor

Reader Al N. sent me a note wondering if I might comment on the best coupling to the floor with speakers (and I’ll add racks and amp stands as well).

Of course any “Best” statement is always going to be disputed. And in this area, I’ve probably gone against the Audiophile Establishment more often than not. :(

This answer comes from the experience of doing hundreds - if not thousands - of set-ups and from all those Show demos I did where we won Best Sound.

I know there are lots of well-respected (and famous) designers out there who recommend spikes for their loudspeakers. I’ve written and commented on this position before, but it seems as if I need to touch on it in a little more depth.

This topic comes up on a number of RoomPlay voicing sessions as well. Quite simply, using spikes as the interface between the floor and the speaker consistently produces what I call Audiophile Bass. There is no question that the bass is tighter. It even affects the overall sound in the higher registers.

I tend to prefer more of what I call a musically organic sound, whereas the spikes produce a more mechanically precise sound. So there is room for calling one or the other a simple preference.

Until you think about the sound of live bass, acoustic or amplified, I always say, “It’s not a preference when you have a reference.” :)

Over many years of concert-going, and making live recordings for various entities, including Public Radio Affiliates, not once have I EVER heard live bass (acoustic or amplified) that sounds as tight and shriveled as I hear from systems where spikes are used. Not once – never…

Yet, I can go into a show where – time-after-time – the speaker designer is on hand, proudly demo-ing his latest creation, which, more often than not, is sitting on spikes. Rather than being critical, let’s just chalk it up to a matter of opinion and experience.

We think we need to couple speakers (and racks) to the floor. I’m not sure if that is the right term. I’ve almost come down on the side of those whose viewpoint is that we need to decouple the system from the floor. Or at least do it in a more valid and musically interesting way.

I can attest to the fact that I’ve voiced dozens of systems lately where the client was using spikes under their speakers when I arrived, because that was what came with their speakers. I do not suggest removing them. I do suggest refining the interface between the spike and the floor (Doesn’t matter if the floor is hardwood, tile, carpeted, etc.). Don’t know whether to call it coupling or decoupling. I do know the results are wonderful!

And, in every case, the client did not want to give up the solution I brought along, in my case, to aid with the movement of the speakers. If you’ve ever tried to move heavy speakers on spikes, you know what I mean!

Next, we’ll look at a few elegantly simple solutions to this issue …

Speaker sliders – a better solution

In the last issue, I referred to putting speakers on furniture sliders to enable easier placement. That actually works pretty nicely, but if you have heavy speakers with sharp spikes, it doesn’t work as well, because the spikes start to protrude through the furniture sliders.

Reader Mike M. reminded me of a much more elegant solution. Why is it more elegant?

First, let’s have a look at it. I wish I owned this company because everyone who tries these gliders from Herbie’s Audio Lab has to buy them right away. They are called Cone/Spike Decoupling Gliders:




Although I initially tried the giant gliders, I ended up using the standard ones myself and on every voicing job. About the only time you’d need the giant ones would be if your speaker is maybe 175 lbs. or more.

I also like the brass inserts. So basically, the least expensive version (US $14.89 each) has consistently worked out best.

In certain cases, the Threaded Stud Glider is a great solution as well. I use them in audio furniture pieces that were threaded for a spike/cone assembly.

The icing on the cake is that – at least with the Herbie’s gliders - you can make the most minute speakers adjustment without cursing and questioning why you ever got into this weird and wonderful pastime of ours!

But just to be extra clear, everyone always prefers the sound with their spiked speakers sitting on Herbie’s gliders – not to mention the enhanced ease of movement.

________________________________________________________________________

Not sliders, but the best when sound is foremost (and price isn’t) - The Grand Prix Audio Apex Footers & Threaded Levelers:

I do prefer the sonic quality of Grand Prix Audio Apex footers and levelers, but they are vastly more expensive and they do not allow sliding around, because the ball coupler will come out of its socket.

However, either the GPA footers or the Herbie’s Gliders yield a far more musically interesting – and to my ears – accurate sound, especially in the bass. It’s consistent as well - carpet, hardwood, tile, whatever – they outperform any spike arrangement I have ever heard (and I’ve heard most of them).

Link to Herbie’s Audio Lab gliders:

http://herbiesaudiolab.net/spkrfeet.htm

Link to Grand Prix Audio Apex Footers & Threaded Levelers:

http://www.grandprixaudio.com/prod_apex.php



And One More…

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other devices I’ve used to couple/decouple speakers from the floor and to isolate audio components. In fact I use a small one (14” x 12”) under my MacBook Pro that I use as a music server. And I use one of the standard sizes (19 x 14”) each under my REL B-1 subs. I’m talking about Symposium Acoustics Svelte Shelves. A bit pricey, but they work. They also make it easy to push a heavy speaker around on a carpeted floor.

The Symposium Acoustics website:

http://www.symposiumusa.com/svelte.html

In a few instances, when an audiophile lived in an apartment above less-than-accomodating-neighbors, I’ve used Symposium Ultra Shelves to help to isolate the sound from the lower floor.

Finally, if you don’t see it here, I either have no experience with it or my experience wasn’t so good. All of these devices mentioned and shown here serve the music and they can make your life a bit easier when setting up (except that the GPAs don’t slide as well without the danger of the item above toppling off the ball coupler).

Mini-breakthrough in my Computer Audio system – and a tip even if you don’t use computer audio but you have a TV connected to your system

I was participating in a thread on AudioAsylum.com about Computer Audio. I received a private e-mail from someone who was apparently reading the thread, but not participating in it.

He is someone who I believe is a reliable source of information. He prefers to stay anonymous, so I won’t out him here… :)

In our discussions back and forth, he mentioned something that he thought made a nice improvement in Computer Audio. In fact the same concept can be applied to any system that also has a TV set connected to it as well.

I had all of my components connected to my new power conditioner. I mean ALL of my components. I had questioned the validity of this approach, especially when it came to digital isolation. The manufacturer was confident of his isolation. So I accepted his opinion. And really, I was thinking about isolating my DAC. It never occurred to me that the wall wart AC power supply for my MacBookPro could cause contamination.

But this gentleman was mainly concerned with isolating grunge that leaks back into systems across the computer power supply.

He suggested a fairly inexpensive item to try. Since it had a guaranteee, I thought, why not.

But it sold for about one fortieth the price of my power conditioner, so I was skeptical.

It’s a simple (but excellently engineered) power supply filter for computers. It was originally designed to prevent grunge from infecting the performance of ham radio stations.

I got it, put it on another circuit, and was amazed to hear my system improve so much. When things sound louder, even voices, that’s usually a sure sign that you just reduced background noise. Reduce background noise and you increase the effect of musical dynamics. Increase musical dynamics and increase your musical involvement.

A similar thing occurs when we remove the TV’s power cord from our main system’s AC supply. Doesn’t even have to be powered up to cause trouble. So isolate that TV power!

I understand that Array Solutions may have some more audiophile-oriented filters in the works. I have no idea just now. However, I do recommend this item from Array Solutions: http://arraysolutions.com/Products/nqnaclinefilter.htm

I chose the AC-7a, you may need a different unit. Only $106 for an effective line filter for your computer! Your system will love it.


Apology re RTAs

I get way too many questions about Real Time Analyzers and pink noise. Somehow, I’ve made them more important than they really are in most cases.

So I owe you an apology. I am sorry to have misled some of you into thinking that a RTA is a must have. It is NOT!

For example, all of my RoomPlay clients could vouch for the fact that out of an 8-hours voicing session, I use the RTA 10 minutes at most. OK, maybe 15 minutes in really tricky sessions.

I only use the RTA to quickly determine where the room resonances from 30 Hz to 300 Hz are located in the room. Then it gets put away until another project.

There is no way that I would choose the optimum place to sit from a response curve on a RTA. Invariably it will be in the generally “best” area, but I will always need to settle on the absolute best position by listening to music, starting first with the Chieftains disc I mention in the book and DVDs.

Another request I get is to give an opinion on one of the many programs or devices that are available. Most likely, I simply have not tested them.

Anyway, the program or device could be fabulous, but if you do not have an excellent omni-directional microphone, the equipment or program is useless. There is NO electronically compensated curve that will reliably work in the bass with a cardiod microphone, period! If for no other reasons than these pick-up patterns suffer from bass roll-off and proximity effect.

I’d say that in general, if you have to climb a steep learning curve to understand a Real-Time Analyzer - its filter settings, a, c, or flat weighting, decay time, 1 octave vs. 1/3 octave vs. 16 octave settings, etc., you can make do just fine without the hassle and expense…

Balanced outputs – better or worse?

I hear this question constantly. Reader Harry K. asked me to comment on it…

I used to think they were not all that different. In fact, in some systems they really aren’t. But sometimes there can be a substantial difference.

I was working with my reference system in my listening room. Although it had balanced outputs, my line stage also had a pair of RCA unbalanced outputs. I had usually opted to use them as it was easy to mix and match unbalanced and balanced components.

This time I had someone who wanted to borrow a set of my unbalanced cables for a project he were conducting.

So I got out an old pair of Canare 4 microphone cables to use here temporarily. These are balanced, and in this case, were about 3 M long. I have used them for location recordings for years. They cost relatively little compared to almost any audiophile-approved IC.

Before I tell what happened, this might be of interest – We (I include myself here) seek out the best sounding cables. If the budget allows, sometimes they are very expensive.

And yet the recording we play almost certainly used balanced ICs such as the Carnare, or Markerteks, etc..

So we will pay hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars to play back a recording that was mastered on ICs that were infinitely less expensive (and without any sound claims).

Anyway, I listened to my system with the $49/pair balanced ICS, in place of the $10,000 unbalanced ICs that I had been using (don’t get excited – the cable manufacturer had left these with me on indefinite loan – I didn’t - and probably wouldn’t - buy them even if I could afford to do so).

Imagine my shock when the garden-variety microphone cables used as ICs easily outperformed the mega-buck audiophile unbalanced cables!

About that time, I had an opportunity to ask Charles Hansen of Ayre Acoustics about how such a thing could happen. He said that in some cases, even very high-end manufacturers will sometimes skimp on their unbalanced connectors and circuitry.

His curiosity was aroused enough to offer to send me one of his less expensive line stages (compared to the much more expensive one – from a respected competitor – that I was using). He wanted to know if I could pick out a difference between balanced and unbalanced with his components. Since I already had an Ayre QB-9 DAC with both sets of outputs, now I could do a full comparison.

Well, I still thought the balanced connections sounded better, but only slightly better. It was a matter of focus, but exceedingly marginal. It was so close that I’m not sure I could consistently pass a blind-fold test.

So my answer to Harry K. is along the lines of what I usually end up saying. You’ll need to listen. If a manufacturer offers both types of connectors, I’d want to listen before buying. I would NOT assume that they are equal (or for that matter – unequal).

And this is NOT to say that a particular unbalanced component might not be overall better than a balanced competitor – it’s only to recount actual comparisons with components that offer both on one chassis.

When do the best measurements NOT yield the best musical involvement?

I had wanted to write about how I chose my personal speakers recently, and how I voiced them, but this issue is simply too long. Maybe next time…

There are several things that I re-learned in the voicing process, however, things that I hadn’t thought about in a while. I’m hoping they might be of use to you as well.

I won’t go into all the details of voicing for best bass. Much of that is in the book or DVDs. At any rate, I was overjoyed to have found a place in my room with my new speakers that played the most perfect bass I’ve ever heard. When I measured it, the response variations were less than +/- 2 dB from below 30 Hz to almost 300 Hz!

I’ve been measuring speakers in real rooms for too many years. But I have never encountered such flat response. There’s usually at least one or two peaks or dips in the best of systems, and always greater than 2 dB.

I settled in to listen to my system that evening, unusually excited. I’ve always said and fervently believed that, until you get the bass – the very foundation of your music – right, you’ll never be satisfied with your sound. When I’ve said right, I have meant with the smoothest bass, never expecting it to be nearly a straight-line on a frequency response graph.

Yet, I now had both. I reveled in the sound and especially of the bass lines and subtle shifts in bass dynamics and pitch. After a few hours though, I realized I wasn’t completely satisfied. In fact, I was listening to great sound rather than great music.

After some frustrating times of trying to understand how something so good could end up not so good, I had an idea.

It turned out that the listening seat position that yielded the most accurate bass I’ve ever seen or heard exhibited a shallow suck-out in the region around 200-400 HZ.

Because it was shallow and it started slowly, I hadn’t noticed that the dip continued downward above 300 Hz.

This area was producing the exact coloration that I mentioned in the book & DVD. When a component or system is lean or slightly down in frequency response in this area, it gives the illusion of a mechanically precise sound, but never the compellingly musically sound that we want.

So I moved my seat back and forth a bit and listened to what happened. Ultimately, I ended up sitting back about 3-4 inches. Happily, in my room, that filled in the 200-400 Hz suck-out area. But the bass, although still very good, wasn’t quite as superlative as before.

But now the musical experience was exceptional. And I’ve never had any desire to go back to that flat uninvolving, technically superior sound. And dozens of advanced listeners who have heard it are unanimously in agreement about the powerful musical impact of the system.

Warning - this may be the beginning of addressing how we listen – with our ears connected to our brains, or connected to our hearts.

Another instance of technically correct set-up at the expense of the music.

Again, without revealing too much about my system at this time, I decided that it might benefit from having outboard super-tweeters. The first pair I tried, simply were not a good match, mostly due to efficiency.

So then I tried some really exotic super-tweeters. These had high efficiency (so that I could carefully turn them down in level to match my main speakers). They were 8 ohms, like mine. They used Alnico magnets like mine. I came up with a fairly sophisticated means of dialing them in. I was cutting them in at about 16,000 Hz, and they went up to somewhere way beyond what I can measure (spec’d to at least 50 kHz).

I managed to get them time and phase aligned. When playing music, you could not detect any change in tonal balance. And yet, they defied logic, as various instruments, including voices, seemed noticeably cleaner, especially so on leading edges of transients.

This was super exciting sound! Everyone who heard the system (including a well known industry set-up guy) said it was by far the best sound they ever heard, at any price.

This all took place after my findings about the bass in the room.

One night, maybe around 1 AM, I was up listening and reveling in my sound. I was skipping around, enjoying the sound of virtually every cut I played.

Then it dawned on me. I was listening to sounds! When I voice a system, I do it with the primary aim that it will deliver the goods in a powerfully musical way.

Certainly after my discovery with the bass, you’d think I wouldn’t fall for the same thing twice, but I did. Maybe I’ll blame it on all the meds post-surgery. Or not…

I decided to cover up the super-tweeters with a couple of thick towels. Next thing I knew it was after three o’clock as I had once again fallen into the music. Then I disconnected the super-tweets and removed them from the room. I listened to MUSIC until almost daylight.

I’ll never forget that awakening. We can have technically precise sound that may be exciting on the basis of its sound, but if it is at the expense of having each piece of music speak to us, what good is that?

So I’ve decided to see what I can do to help audiophiles to think about - and to voice their systems – to strengthen that ear-to-heart connection.

These pending topics will have to wait until another time:

Full range speakers need subs too.

How to voice subs (2, not 1, of course) with full range speakers

Living on the edge with Computer Audio - VM.

Pure Music Settings

Listening seat not always against or near the back wall.

Effects and proper usage of tube traps.

The 83% rule – NOT!

More set-up details.

Tone

The Compromise

Can we trust the manufacturer’s opinion?

OCD – is it treatable? – The speaker I chose, how it came to be, and the true trials and tribulations of achieving a reference set-up. And the rewards, as well…

Announcing RoomPlay Reference™ (http://getbettersound.com/roomplay-reference.html)

The following list comes from a powerful new reference tool for audiophiles. I call it RoomPlay Reference. The list illustrates what I personally value and listen for when voicing a system. You may notice that it goes well beyond listening for certain audiophile audio tricks. Although all the information about RoomPlay Reference is on its own page on this site, I wanted to include the basic list here, as it is directly related to the above discussion about voicing.

When I voice a system, there is an internal list of standards that I expect to achieve. It’s my reference. These are the reference standards that I carry in my head and my heart when voicing a system:

  • A powerful sense of presence. I expect to get the distinct impression that the performer(s) are performing expressly for me. If the sound stays over there by the speakers, without enveloping me in the experience, I have work to do. Nothing to buy, I just need to spend a little more attention to voicing detail.

    This is not an ordinary illusion. I rarely ever hear it from most systems. Yet, when the system is voiced properly, and I play the first tune in a demo, it’s quite common for the listener to make a few
    unplanned comments in the first 10 or 15 seconds! I’ve almost come to expect it - they simply had no reference for that illusion being possible.
  • High emotional impact. I’m not looking for a background music system. If done right, it should even be compelling at medium to low levels. Inflections and the use of vibrato in vocals should draw me deeply into the music. The sense of listening to a stereo system is gone as I follow the performer’s musical lead.

    After a listening session the previous night, the next day, we should still feel the music in our souls, the way we do after live concerts.

    This is as true today as when I started talking about it in the 90s. Why do audiophiles never think that their music playback should touch them emotionally enough to feel the effects next day? It should, it’s their right, and they should expect to receive it.
  • Tone quality. It’s hard to truly connect with the message of the music without it. I wish I could explain this phenomenon so that it’d be easy to understand. Visitors here “get it” immediately. Often it’s most noticeable in the sound of plucked strings and especially in the sound of violins, cellos, guitars, dobros, etc.

    It manifests as an unusually dense harmonic presentation, with a fuller and more prolonged decay time. And it will pluck your heart strings on the right music…
  • A palpable, reach-out-and-touch-it imagery. If this isn’t happening, how can I suspend my disbelief enough to fall into the music?

    This is not related to the sort of ‘audio spectacular’ imagery where all sorts of pin-point sizes instruments are arrayed between and behind the speakers. I’m referring to an image that seems to have a body, a palpability.

    In a properly voiced system, human voices are anything but emaciated caricatures of the real thing. This sort of image feels as if it is inhabiting a space in the room with you.
  • Increased energy and effortlessness.

    Systems that require lots of power to come alive, and shortly after that, start to sound fatiguing, are systems that will have difficulty conveying the message of the music. Careful attention to component location, as well as seating location, can significantly help to offset any drawbacks that a system that leans in this direction may normally exhibit.

    We want to enlarge the window of acceptable playback level to reach a level that is inviting at most settings, not just a narrow one between coming alive and becoming obnoxious.

    This effortlessness sometimes shows up as a sort of ‘bloom’ on the sound. It’s inviting and contagious.
  • Graceful and delicate details reproduced to their full effect. Subtle nuances show up, but only to serve the music, not to create an audiophile showpiece. The heightened expressive quality of a performer’s vocal is an example. Subtle shadings of tone and even soundstage presentation all serve to help the listener suspend his or her disbelief.

    Whether it’s a harp, a violin, a guitar, or any other instrument, when it’s being played softly, it invokes a sort of hushed reverence. These delicate musical sounds intertwine to portray the most gorgeous musical palette. Sadly, this wonderful illusion can be damaged through improper wave launch into the room, or inadvertently sitting in the wrong place in the room where the beauty is lost.

    This delicacy is often portrayed in a soundstage where lots of small musically inter-related things are happening, but together they build something very special.

    Since this is the revelatory part of the complete music listening experience, it’s critical to know how to preserve this delicacy in a manner that serves the music.
  • A vast difference in the presentation between ‘they are here’ and ‘we are there’ recorded perspectives. If this difference is not dramatic, then much of the potential to become immersed in the music will be lost. These cues serve to transmit the illusion of being in the presence of live music, appropriate to the recording’s inherent perspective.

    It’s one of the major offenders I hear when I arrive to voice a system. It’s as if the system is compromised in both arenas. It’s hard to hear the performance and its venue when recorded deep depth is fore-shortened, and recorded shallow depth sounds not all that different.

    This is ‘fixable’ and it is paramount to help us fall into the music as the performers intended.
  • For a ‘we are there recording’, the listener should feel virtually transported into the venue. Almost as if he or she can feel the air moving in the hall. Little remains of the sense of being in their room back home.

    As I mentioned above, this is big, and rarely is it at an appropriate level of resolution.
  • For a ‘they are here recording’, there should be the distinct feeling that the musicians have packed up their gear to come to my client’s house to perform a concert just for us. Very intimate and engaging. No walls, no ceilings and no speakers. Just the event.

    Intimacy is the key word here, but very few audiophiles have ever dealt with this aspect (at least, not from their stereo systems!). I make this observation from the reactions I see when they do finally experience it here or in their own homes.
  • Soundstage depth that extends beyond what was thought possible with the current system. Although achieved through technical set-up means, the end result is the firmly grounded creative expression of the live event.

    We covered this topic somewhat above, so I need not go further, except to say that, once you’ve experienced it, you’ve simply gotta have it.

  • True soundstage width, not what is often described in message boards and audio publications. This is an area that has received so much misinformation, that it’s probably not possible to correct the myths that surround it. At any rate, there is a definite standard for what is correct, and once heard, the misinformation is always exposed to the interested listener for what it is.

    I rarely spend much time on this aspect for clients, except to show them what it really is and explain what it can’t be, no matter how lofty and incorrect the claims get.
  • Tuneful and powerful bass, produced with authority & uncompromised dynamics, but never overwhelming (unless the recording is produced that way). Unless the bass is reproduced as accurately as possible within the framework of the system and room, listeners will never be truly satisfied with their musical listening experience.

    This foundation affects tone, presence, and dynamics – the cornerstones to any involving listening experience. It even affects soundstaging. At the technical level, booming or missing notes contribute to a false impression of the music and its performance. Compromising its capability means a dramatic reduction in the overall listening experience.

    The way it can compromise dynamics is especially concerning, and it is why I always say that until you get the bass right, you’ll never be happy.
  • All of the notes reproduced faithfully, with none emphasized, diminished, or altered. You would think this would be a given, but it has never been my experience when I have encountered any audiophile’s system.

    In fact, it’s most often the biggest shortcoming in systems today. It is almost never the fault of the speaker, at least within its’ published frequency extremes. It’s most always the room. In fact, it’s almost always the wrong seating position in the room. And it’s not rocket science – it just requires a bit of adjustment for it all to come together.
  • Greater focus and inner detail, but always serving the musical experience, never at its expense. Musical transitions should flow, not sound mechanical.

    When detail becomes a distraction, there is definitely some additional voicing to be done.
  • Story telling prowess – the combination of dynamics, tone, presence, and emotional impact must combine to make the listener feel as if he or she is on the edge of their seat, anxiously awaiting the next part of the story/song as it unfolds.

    This is perhaps the trickiest effect to achieve with voicing. It helps if one of the components already has the ability to capture the listener’s rapt attention. Just having had the experience does elevate the reference level that is to be applied, even if it cannot always be fully realized. ”


So is it ‘science versus art’ or is it ‘science serving art’? Technical excellence vs. creative excellence?
These two descriptions of system set-up are not at all separate. All too often, I hear a technically excellent component or system that sounds – well, boring – when listening to actual music.

Yes, all the audiophile sound effects are reproduced to great effect. But when the thrill of audio delights diminishes, what’s left? Most systems – if they ever get there at all - remain at the “audio delight” level. And their owners, never having experienced the next level of music reproduction are satisfied with themselves and their systems. Except, of course, needing to upgrade as finances allow.

Creative excellence accepts all of the tenets of technical excellence. But then the creative juices kick in - driving the system to an exalted level, as tone, presence, dynamics and more begin to assert themselves on the musical reproduction stage.

Well, I hope the long delay between Quarter Notes was worth the wait. Future issues should get back on schedule.

 
     
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