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Audiophile quality download files please

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Posted on 25 Apr 2012 11:19:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 Apr 2012 11:21:19 BDT
MC Zaptone says:
D.W. Salter, or anyone else, what's your take on the trend for A/V receivers to come with automatic room/sound calibration via provided mic. For example Denon's Audyssey and Pioneers MCACC systems claim that they can automatically provide the best room/audio set up by calibrating various aspects, (7 separate tests). Pioneer claims this: Using MCACC (Multi-Channel Automatic Calibration System) developed in collaboration with AIR sound studios "The result sounds as if a sound engineer has fine-tuned your amplifier".
Conjurers trick or solid science?

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 12:18:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 Apr 2012 12:21:04 BDT
D. W. Salter says:
I mentioned about this kind of thing before. They may make a terrible room acoustic sound slightly less terrible, but the physics just doesn't work. The saying in the audio industry is that "You can't solve a time domain problem with a frequency domain solution". A complex audio sound is made of a mixture of tones lying in the 20Hz to 20kHz band (arguably, practically speaking this is really 50Hz to 15kHz for most people) and each of the tones have a different wavelength. Imagine a 2 dimensional example of ripples in a pond when you throw a pebble in. A 100Hz tone has a wavelength of 3.4 metres (sounds travels at 340m/s) and a tone at 10kHz has a wavelength of 34mm. The phase relationships between these tones will vary considerably according to your listening position, and will have most effect on the mid and high frequencies if you move a small distance, and on low frequencies if you move a greater distance. ie if you use a calibration mic to set up the sound for one particular listening position, and then you move your head by only 17mm (less than 1 inch), then all the 10kHz tones are now out of phase to what they were, but the other frequencies are more or less unchanged. So if you are listening in a room that contains lots of reflections and standing waves at various frequencies, then the whole frequency response of the speaker/room/ear interface can change dramatically after a movement of only a few inches.

The best thing to do for a home listening environment is to choose a room which has fewer solid brick walls (as these reflect all the low frequencies back) - and go for mostly studding walls, cover the back wall (opposite the speakers) with a LOT of thick foam (I have used a Queen size mattress before - works wonders), and cover at least 50% of walls and ceiling in proper acoustic foam - especially in the areas where sound will reflect directly from the speaker to the listener (you can use a mirror to find these locations). If you avoid using a room that has solid brick walls all round, then you will reduce the intensity of the low frequency standing waves - because much of it will pass through the wall - and mids and highs will be absorbed by the foam. THEN do the mic calibration thing to tune out the low frequency problems. As low frequencies have much larger wavelengths, the listening position has more leeway.

It might even be worth getting some books on studio design and acoustics - just to get an idea of where the important factors lie.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 13:31:08 BDT
Regarding balanced interconencts, some high end does use them. Like I said before, I am frustrated by the fact that my CD player has them, but my 'matching' amp from the same series does not. I find that the noise floor seems to be better if I use phsudo balanced cables. At least then the shield is only a shield and not used for the signal (For those not in the know, this is where a balanced cable is used with phono/ RCA connectors and the shield is only connected at one end with the two center connectors being used for signal and return) Most of the cables from Chord Company are made this way. Some other brands do the same.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I think that the phono/ RCA connector was a very early (failed) attempt at an RF connection with the not much better standard aerial connector coming around the same time.
Please see:

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 23:07:59 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 Apr 2012 23:08:15 BDT
MC Zaptone says:
Studding walls, queen size mattresses?! I'm convinced that given time, the brain adjusts to accept the sound it has grown accustomed to. A survey at UCLA on first year students over a ten year period revealed that teens who had grown up listening primarily to Mp3 sound through earbuds actually preferred the tinny sound over all other formats and thought that vinyl played through top end equipment in a sound studio was the worst possible sound. I understand where you're coming from though
I have recently become a fully fledged groundsman, where once I saw green grass wherever I went, I now see disease and blight. You just can't stop it!

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Apr 2012 00:09:35 BDT
Many people who do not consider it risible to continue paying for music that can be acquired for free with minimal effort could be considered so called audiophiles. I suspect that many intelligent paying customers, with varied tastes and a solid appreciation for music, would value CD-quality downloads. As bandwidth increases, your argument carries diminishing weight - then it will be up to Apple or Amazon, or somebody else, (assuming there remains true competition in this area) to market the stunning increase in clarity...

Posted on 26 Apr 2012 00:11:00 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 26 Apr 2012 00:11:51 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Apr 2012 00:48:59 BDT
Have you been looking at my lawn, MCW??

Posted on 26 Apr 2012 06:27:36 BDT
C. Spark says:
i dont think rca/phonos are a proper balanced audio connector only XLR or TRS connectors have twisted internal wires with a shield.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Apr 2012 06:42:01 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Apr 2012 06:57:33 BDT
You are right RCA's even using pseudo balanced configuration are NOT balanced, but using twisted internal wires with a shield and RCA's in pseudo balanced configuration is usually the best that is possible with hi-fi. At least then the shield is not being used for the signal.

Posted on 26 Apr 2012 06:54:47 BDT
Peter Lanky says:
re. M. C. Williams....... I saw a TV item a few years ago that suggested the opposite. A trendy overpriced expensive player with a piece of fruit on it was put into one box and a modest hifi-separate system bought for 30 on Ebay put into the other. I can't recall if headphone (as opposed to earphones) were used or speaker, but the overwhelming result was that the cheapo system was superior; a result which really surprised the participants.

Having said all that, my own children, who listen to good rock music as opposed to manufactured pop, have no interest whatsoever in music sound quality to the tune that one of them turned down the chance to acquire my old hifi kit, in favour of keeping a 100 player.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Apr 2012 13:29:58 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Apr 2012 13:32:05 BDT
D. W. Salter says:
But my point was, that if you don't deal with reflections and standaing waves in the room, then the frequency response is different depending on your position in the room - and changes with the slightest change in position. I agree, the brain compensates, but it can't do that if the sound is constantly changing.

And I would be interested to see what the first year students think after another 10 years, once their brains and ears have developed a bit more.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Apr 2012 14:15:53 BDT
MC Zaptone says:
Peter, not sure how the TV test is relevant to the UCLA test but I would say the findings are, if anything, similar not opposite. With the advent of compressed files and the omnipresence of the ipod (played through earbuds) it is no wonder that that level of 'quality' has become the norm and the preferred listening mode, than say, your superior hi-fi kit. Remember (and obviously I'm generalising here) no matter how much younger people may claim to eschew the trendy, two or three big black boxes with various knobs and buttons on are just not in keeping with their view of cool.

@ smitty, yes mate I have and you have some nasty fusarium spot with a mild coverage of fairy ring.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Apr 2012 16:27:44 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Apr 2012 16:32:31 BDT
How can I get rid of it, MC???

I blame the New Zealand Flatworm myself, the snottery looking brutes have killed off our humble and hardworking earthworm. Now there is no drainage :-(

Buy the cd, then rip it into whatever format you want. If the hard drive crashes you still have the cd. Just listening to Little Feat reissued just this spring. Marvellous. Mp3s are alright for getting the idea across, but cd/wav is for the full monty, or rather is until the higher res downloads take off and drop in price. $75 for Get Yer Ya Yas Out in high res, no thanks :-(

As someone else has already pointed out, the record companies have the high res transfers to start with and have to pay someone to skillfully reduce the file size until they get what they want fitted into the current red book format, or lower.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Apr 2012 22:41:20 BDT
dejan says:
The audiophiles might be a minority, but Amazon thrives on long tail of minorities. There are so many 'obscure' CDs and books on Amazon, which would not be there if one followed the logic of 'not worth the resources'. After all, Amazon is a leader in cloud services and surely has the resources.
More importantly, everyone else would benefit from better quality sound; it would also give everyone chance to buy FLAC files legally.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Apr 2012 22:56:53 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Apr 2012 22:58:25 BDT
MC Zaptone says:
@smitty, it's a common problem and easy to rectify. Google: Castclear
It fixes the nutrients at a lower level in the soil and has a naturally bitter taste. The worms remain healthy, aerate the soil but won't surface, no more nasty worm swirls (casts) on your lawn. It will help against certain diseases too.
Unfortunately not available in Hi-Res just yet.

Edit: even better 'Zon sell it!! CastClear - Organic Lawn Specialist Treatment for Worm Casts
Your reply to MC Zaptone's post:
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In reply to an earlier post on 26 Apr 2012 23:04:47 BDT
Castclear, if only I was getting casts in the garden. I had a line of cut logs sitting along the side of the garden a decade ago, which I would turn over every day to remove the New Zealand flatworms that congregated under them. I reckon in a 8 week period I had removed over 100. I rang Queens University and they told me that a garden they monitored in Moira, not to be confused with the Caverns of Moria, had over 2500 over that same summer.

Castclear it is then.

Yes, to get it in a high res format would be good.

I dont understand why a high res download, no physical product to shift or deteriorate in storage, can cost more than the cd. I wonder if the artist gets better royalty deals with the high res downloads. Spotify are notorious for giving an utterly abysmal return to the artists on downloads/online listens.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 11:08:20 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2012 11:16:42 BDT
Red says:
Thank you for your kind suggestions
By the way what headphone amp did you get?
I guess your Unico amp is integrated? If not which Pre did you get?
Do you use any other sources besides the Unico CD/Dac?
Thank you very much

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 11:14:10 BDT
Red says:
Thanks DWS
Appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 11:56:53 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2012 11:58:43 BDT
Red says:

I agree with you about hi fi mags in relation to how believable their reviews are. It must be tough for them to give an honest but damning review about a product that they may also be receiving advertising revenue from with the obvious conflict of interest therein.

I have always (naievely perhaps) thought and hoped that they dare not give anything but a balanced, fair, thorough review as otherwise they may damage their credibility with their readership. However as the appreciation of how good or bad components and systems sound is commonly thought to be subjective who can say that the reviewer did not give an accurate review, mentioning all the good and bad that he/she may have found in the product?

I believe the fairest way and the most confidence inspiring would be to have a huge panel of reviewers all listening together in the same listening room listening to all the competing products using the double blind method (probably quite an expensive option that). Maybe some mags are already doing this anyway? Although I guess if a reader reads enough reviews from a particular reviewer they will get to know what sort of sound the reviewer does or does not like (as long as the reviews are consistant, if that's even humanly possible?).

Surely though most reviewers would agree on the very best and the very worst performing products and then find the middling performing products difficult to judge one way or the other because they do not stand out.

I fuuly agree with you about dem rooms. I have always bought from dealers that allowed home loans in the past. Dem rooms always seem to be well damped with little, if any, echo even though there is no obvious room treatment and the dem can sound wonderful. Get the stuff home and instant 'room boom'. My current speakers are front-ported so I am OK with 'room boom' at the moment.

During dems I have occasionally known some dealers to turn up the volume higher than I could possibly play at home. Sounds more exciting and you hear more detail, but pointless if I cannot play at that volume at home. I really so much would love a convincing, realistic sounding system at home that I can play at low levels and still hear plenty of detail. Maybe valve amps and efficient spkrs?

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 12:43:39 BDT
D. W. Salter says:
Simple law of physics, if you listen at low volume to music with a wide dynamic range, then you will not hear the detail. To get that sound without annoying the neighbours, the only way is with a great pair of headphones as I have said. Valve amps are not accurate, people might like the sound of them, but they add harmonic distortion, especially to the transients, but as it is musically related distortion, to most people is sounds good. To me, I just hear the distortion, particularly in the sibilant vocal sounds ("ess" and "tee") and although I can tell whether it is even-harmonic (musical) or odd-harmonic (metalic) I still find it irritating because the end result is not how the original sounded. I have a couple of valve microphone pre-amps, and one mic that has a valve inside it, and I only use them if the vocalist has a dull sounding voice naturally and I need to sweeten it up. If you listen to everything through valves, then you will not be hearing what the engineer intended you to hear.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 12:45:24 BDT
Try Icon Audio. Ring them and have a chat with David, he is a real gent and completely 100% sound(no pun intended, honestly. I could not think of a better term for him).

Google them and look at the products on offer.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 13:20:09 BDT
Hi DWS. I must dissagree with you about tube equipment. Yes there is a lot of trash about, but a good tube amp is not about adding distortion. OK, a good amp may have 0.1% and not 0.001% but with the distortion of speakers or headphones in the equation, can that make so much difference. If the only reason that a good valve amp sounder good was because of a particular type of distortion then surely it could just be added to a transistor amp at the flick of a switch.

Is it not possible that the reason that the better tube amps sound good is because they have lower distortion in some important way than a lot of transistor amps? The only thing that I really know is that there is less need for feedback in a tube amp. There has been discussion about this causing a problem that the human ear is sensitive to. Perhaps you can tell me a bit about this?

I would agree that in theory one should be able to choose am amp on specs alone, but are we so sure which specifications are the most important?

Is the real reason for using transistor not due to cost. If one has say 500 to spend, it is going to be much easier to get a good transistor amplifier. The other day, I bought a Chinese tube amp for 250 as an experiment. It sounds OK, but it is not strictly accurate. It is fun to listen to, but frustating at the same time. When I use my old leak TL12+, that is quite another story, but of course, if made today it would cost a lot lot more. That is my point. A good tube amp is just expensive to make. and to make one with higher power is a lot more expensive.

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 14:43:49 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2012 14:48:20 BDT
D. W. Salter says:
It is not possible to reproduce valve distortion with transistors. Fets come close, but it is still just a simulation.

You will never see a valve amp driving studio monitors because the engineer wants to hear what is really there, not a "rose tinted" version. If you want accuracy, then fet/bipolar wins every time - but not everyone is looking for accuracy. Some people think the world looks better through rose tinted spectacles.

There are many different types of distortion, the distortion added by valves is a completely different type to that which occurs in the speaker.

Many people think feedback in an amp is a bad thing, possibly because the only thing they know about feedback is the "howl" of acoustic feedback. That is "positive" feedback, which has the effect of causing a system to saturate. The kind of feedback in an amp design is "negative" feedback, which causes a system to stabilize. There is the issue that you can create a very bad amp design, and then use tons of negative feedback to stabilize it (called a high open loop gain), so in that respect too much feedback is a bad thing simply because it is indicative of a bad design, but negative feedback in itself is not a bad thing unless the amp causes phase shifts (ie different frequencies feedback by different amounts) then you do have problems.

As I have said before, a well designed fet/bipolar amp will always outperform a valve amp (and will sound better to those of us looking for accuracy) as long as the fet/bipolar amp has plenty of headroom. And by this I mean, at least 10 times more power available than your average listening level. This might sound outrageous, but this is necessary to avoid clipping the transients. This can happen without you being aware of it because it will not sound like distortion because it happens so quickly, but will have the effect of making the sound less distinct. Without going into too much detail, the brain receives a large part of the information that indentifies a percussive sound in the first few milliseconds, and if information is distorted, then it becomes harder to identify the different instruments in a mix. Music usually has a 10 to 1 ratio or more of transient level to average level (also known as the crest factor), so unless you have an amp that can reproduce this signal level without clipping, then you will not hear the transients clearly. A valve amp simply compresses the transients because it doesn't have a hope of reproducing them faithfully- in a similar way that magnetic tape used to - and some people prefer that sound too.

The reason it is often better to chose an amp on specs alone is that most people cannot tell the difference between real physical differences, and psychological differences (analogous to placebo effect), and the world of hi-fi marketing has taken full advantage of this for many years, in a similar way to the pharmaceutical industry.

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 20:39:53 BDT
C. Spark says:
hi ISCM, the problem with valves is they don't follow the input/output signal accurately they tend to have a slight peak after the signal has stopped and they peak a bit more, whereas transistors are pretty much follow through the frequencies. if you put a square wave in a valve amp is distorts madly..

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 21:49:34 BDT
Are these problems true of all valve amps of is it dependent on the particular design? It is just that I have an old singel ended tube amp and when used with vocal recordings (mainly jazz) one can feel as if the singer is there in the room. I find it hard to believe that it is only due to extra distortion.

I am the first to admit that I have heard very few tube amps that can cope with complex classical. Regarding rock, I think that anything goes (at home), none of it is natural anyway, but I still like it played through a good tube amp.

I do not think that it can al be due to the placebo effect, as there have been times when for me the transistor amp clearly sounds better. Surly a lot must depend on the particular speakers and of course the room. My limited understanding is still enough to know that most tube amps can not cope well with some speaker loads.

I do agree that it is good, whatever amp is used, to have pleanty of headroom/ power, but conversly, I have found that some high powered amps (even from respected brands) can sound pretty bad.
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