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insider9

Chasing system accuracy... Is there a point?

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I went to see a band I've not known on Thursday.  Only put on a few tracks prior to the gig and though I'd like them. Band is called Birds of Chicago. Must say they were outstanding! Trio playing acoustic guitars, banjo, etc. and singing. Small venue packed max 100 people. They sounded excellent! As part of encore they came down and sang unamplified so you had a point of reference to how vocals sound. I spoke to them after the gig as well. 

Been listening to all their recordings since and must say that the vocals sounded so much better live. It's not just the atmosphere and I've only had two pints (0.5%). But some of their recordings sound too clean compared to live performance. Don't get me wrong SQ is good but there was marked difference. 

Considering room acoustics (both) concert venue and studio, different mics used, guitar strings or even picks... Is there a point sweating over playback accuracy? When there's so much variation during recording process.......

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25 minutes ago, insider9 said:

I went to see a band I've not known on Thursday.  Only put on a few tracks prior to the gig and though I'd like them. Band is called Birds of Chicago. Must say they were outstanding! Trio playing acoustic guitars, banjo, etc. and singing. Small venue packed max 100 people. They sounded excellent! As part of encore they came down and sang unamplified so you had a point of reference to how vocals sound. I spoke to them after the gig as well. 

Been listening to all their recordings since and must say that the vocals sounded so much better live. It's not just the atmosphere and I've only had two pints (0.5%). But some of their recordings sound too clean compared to live performance. Don't get me wrong SQ is good but there was marked difference. 

Considering room acoustics (both) concert venue and studio, different mics used, guitar strings or even picks... Is there a point sweating over playback accuracy? When there's so much variation during recording process.......

There really isn't no, but if you are a salesperson, its in your financial interests to convince people that accuracy has more relevance than enjoyment, so it breeds places like that audio science forum. Basically, technicians trying to find soul in measurements (but refusing to accept that 'soul' exists yet listening to a 'soul' record to maximise its 'accuracy' so it stirs their 'soul' , oh they are so confused xD

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6 minutes ago, CnoEvil said:

I chase system enjoyment.....In my case, it has been more fruitful....doesn't mean it isn't accurate though....

Accuracy is impossible, as what we know today, we will know more of tomorrow. What we learned yesterday we didn't know twenty years ago. So science evolves, and therefore is unable to capture 'everything' and can only capture what it knows today, which may in itself be inaccruate or not the full picture. 

Therefore measuring is futile, and just listen with your ears, and what you feel in your heart for you sound...well, thats all that matters.

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I posit that accuracy is only relevant for controlled environments. The room is always going to interfere with sound reproduction, as is the aspect of a speaker having narrow HF dispersion and LF radiating in all directions. So even with perfect room and perfect components, you'd need a perfect speaker to be accurate and the closest I know of is the Meyer Sound Labs Bluehorn, but nobody wants (or can likely afford) that in a domestic room.

I posted just yesterday how smaller furnished and cluttered rooms tend to break up and absorb sound waves and make a room 'warmer' than neutral, while a larger room with less relative clutter and more reflective wall space will be 'brighter' than neutral. As such, a neutral/transparent/accurate hifi component, only makes sense for 2 possible aims:

1) knowing that there is no audible distortion or noise added to the music signal

2) having a room treated such that it is neutral and neither tilted towards bright or warm.

Only if you achieve BOTH the above, is chasing accuracy worthwhile, because without ensuring (2), accurate equipment will not ultimately result in accurate replay due to the room. (And the fact there is no perfect speaker).

Without doing that, you may as well buy what sounds good to you, or will go some way to minimizing room effects.

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My favourite genre is classical chamber music and my aim is to get the illusion of having, depending on the recording, either the musicians in front of me or the feeling that I am in the location of the recording. One might think that accuracy is the best way to achieve this but sometimes too much perfection can be a distraction. There are loads of ways of enjoying our music and each as valid as another giving that we all hear, and doubtless remember the original sounds differently. 

I recently auditioned the very accurate Dutch & Dutch 8C speakers. They were superb at reproducing the sound on the recording, but in the end I couldn’t get away from the feeling that I was listening to a very good hifi playing sounds rather than performers playing music. Having said that they worked very well with manufactured recordings such as much pop and rock. 

Horses for courses.

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Super Dealer
14 minutes ago, Metatron said:

I posit that accuracy is only relevant for controlled environments. The room is always going to interfere with sound reproduction, as is the aspect of a speaker having narrow HF dispersion and LF radiating in all directions. So even with perfect room and perfect components, you'd need a perfect speaker to be accurate and the closest I know of is the Meyer Sound Labs Bluehorn, but nobody wants (or can likely afford) that in a domestic room.

I posted just yesterday how smaller furnished and cluttered rooms tend to break up and absorb sound waves and make a room 'warmer' than neutral, while a larger room with less relative clutter and more reflective wall space will be 'brighter' than neutral. As such, a neutral/transparent/accurate hifi component, only makes sense for 2 possible aims:

1) knowing that there is no audible distortion or noise added to the music signal

2) having a room treated such that it is neutral and neither tilted towards bright or warm.

Only if you achieve BOTH the above, is chasing accuracy worthwhile, because without ensuring (2), accurate equipment will not ultimately result in accurate replay due to the room. (And the fact there is no perfect speaker).

Without doing that, you may as well buy what sounds good to you, or will go some way to minimizing room effects.

Well no, if we take the example of the 8Cs, we have wide even dispersion, due to the tweeters waveguide and a cardioid response, they are also designed to be placed close to a wall, so effectively there is no rear bass reflection, totally phase coherent, and room modes can be ameliorated with the built in EQ.

Keith

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2 hours ago, insider9 said:

Considering room acoustics (both) concert venue and studio, different mics used, guitar strings or even picks... Is there a point sweating over playback accuracy? When there's so much variation during recording process.....

This is very true .. BUT of course the recordings we buy are down to the production team.  A badly produced band will always (or should I say usually) sound better live.  However, if you end up in the wrong place for a gig it can be awful live too.  A prime example of this was seeing Dire Straits at Earls court .. the echo off the back wall was horrendous and the live album was so so much better (not recorded at Earls Court and the Album is On the Night).  Similarly Live & Dangerous by Thin Lizzy is one of my fav recordings of their work (even though I understand there were a lot of overdubs done in the studio).

The thing I find about accuracy in my system is - the closer your system is to accurate (a flat frequency response in your room) then the better everything sounds (IMO).   Yes it is true that the brilliantly produced albums make you go weak at the knees but a bad recording of music you like is better than no recording at all 'cos at the end of the day it is all about the music.

It really annoys me that some great music is so badly produced (Boston is a Prime Example - try the track More than a feeling) which is so compressed but I still love the music.  Similarly with Dave Matthews band where his first three albums were produced by Steve Lilliwhite and the sound is just sooooo much better than the albums that came after (IMO).  

So chasing accuracy is not a waste of time in my book .. there will always be recordings that are not good but think of the venues you go to for live performance which may not have a good sound .. if you want to listen to the band it will not stop you going similarly a poor recording should not stop you listening but at least chasing accuracy you know that you are at least getting to hear it the best it can be.

My acid test of an upgrade or change is that everything I play should sound better than it did before.  However, at the end of the day a bad recording will always be a bad recording.

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There is a point...but I think there are probably two types of accuracy!   

You, I suspect, meant studio-type accuracy, flat neutral response, lack of distortion, etc.  But many listeners want an accuracy of feel, emotion, or impact.  They want to be moved or stimulated, and to achieve something reminiscent of their experience of a live performance.  

Those two types converge in higher-end systems that I’ve heard, but many designers head in one direction over the other.  Then users end up juggling combinations of kit to get the best outcome with their budget. 

Most curious of all, is what a satisfying experience listening to a car radio, or mini system, can be if the content is interesting enough.

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Moderator

Depends what you mean by accuracy.

Some follow the Williamson holy trinity of THD, frequency response and noise. They were relevant in the 50s when the component quality was not high. When those measurements were good enough, instead of listening to why the equipment still did not sound like live music they carried on pursuing those three to stupidly low numbers. And in doing that they started to make the equipment sound worse and worse with for example adding more and more feedback to get THD lower and lower.

Others measured and listened and found that other changes were needed to make the equipment sound more realistic. Some of the equipment sounded better but the dreaded THD increased. Hell, you let THD go up by 5 noughts 3 % to make an amplifier sound better. These companies (Pass Labs) listened to the equipment. Imagine that, using the equipment for what it was designed to do, listening to music, not fiddle about with tiny % distortion or noise figures.

So as you have found out, some equipment sounds closer to real music and others measure well and the numbers look lovely but it is sterile and unreal. Of course, there is some equipment that measures well and sounds lifelike. 

Your money, chase the numbers and run the risk that you will end up with a sterile and non-lifelike system. Or look at the numbers and chose what looks OK and then listen and choose what sounds lifelike to you.  

And then you can come on forums and argue about chart after chart, number after number, graph after graph but safe in the knowledge that what you own sounds lifelike to you. Yes, there will be some albums that do not do it but when all your music is sterile something is very wrong. 

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Super Dealer

You always confuse live music and its reproduction, live music is live music, at home we can only hope to accurately reproduce the only artefact we have the record/cd.file.

That is what all serious designers have strived for all these years.

Keith

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5 minutes ago, PuritéAudio said:

You always confuse live music and its reproduction, live music is live music, at home we can only hope to accurately reproduce the only artefact we have the record/cd.file.

That is what all serious designers have strived for all these years.

Keith

Like Nelson Pass, you mean?

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Super Wammer

Difficult question to answer really as for most if not all of us the final link in the chain is different that being our rooms . One thing I did learn from the work I did making active speakers is that measurements do have there value and place they will tell lots of things about how items perform and what changes to those paramters then do to the output sound .

As always though they do not tell you everything and my belief is that they never have . I have heard a speaker and measured and recorded a speaker with a flat response from 10 - 2000 hz twice . Once at a feloow wammers house who was helping me and had some incredibly expensive but effective DSP / Crossover units that could be sett to ensure any speaker fed by them had a perfect flat response . Second was at home after measuring and creating a flat response , this one was only from 20 - 20000 hz as the bass speaker was not stable below this so signal was stopped .

In both cases the sound was flat unimpressive and lacking either dynamics and the main sound cues I like to hear in music . They made Earth Wind and Fire sound boring andthey stipped Otis Redding of his soul feeling . Now the measurements may state that this is a flat reasponse but I have discovered I do not want a perfect flat response . Instead I like many others add what is know as a house curve which I adjust till it sounds right to me , with my equipment and my music in my room . In general I found that my curve was similar to many used by other people and even makers . We tend to push the Bass up slope back to flat in the Mid and then slightly drop off the treble . I have seen lots of variations on the sizes of the Bass increase and the treble drop off and in some cases the mid is not quite flat but the general shape of the curves is the same .

So for me at least I do not and would not ever decry the usefulness and use of measurement in order to get any product to be working in the right area. Once oyu get there though then it needs and requires a human ear to listen to music and finesse the sound to be enjoyable and acceptable to the majority . Not a win for either side . if I was pushed then I would have to say I woud pursue musical enjoyment rahter than perfect measurement as to date I have not heard any perfectly measured system that sounded enjoyable .

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12 hours ago, PuritéAudio said:

Well no, if we take the example of the 8Cs, we have wide even dispersion, due to the tweeters waveguide and a cardioid response, they are also designed to be placed close to a wall, so effectively there is no rear bass reflection, totally phase coherent, and room modes can be ameliorated with the built in EQ.

Keith

Stopping early reflection does not correct the room.

I know you know this.

So the room still determines if replay is accurate.

You get closer to an accurate studio reference, but without a neutral controlled room, it will never actually be accurate.

DSP gets us close, but there are many aspects DSP cannot fix.

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Super Dealer

Considering reflected sound is one element of sound quality, a loudspeaker with wide even dispersion ( constant dirctivity) will sound less coloured than a speaker with a ragged off-axis response.

EQ can be used to reduce a bass ‘boom’ that is going to hugely improve sound quality, a fine measuring loudspeaker is always preferred in listening tests.

The new actives aim and succeed in making a domestic space behave  more like a fully treated studio.

Keith 

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