How Different Are We?

General HiFi discussion, using the Tune Method to evaluate performance

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Charlie1
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How Different Are We?

Post by Charlie1 »

I bought or borrowed various integrated amps recently and noticed that I seem to experience them as either offering better tunefulness or better rhythm, but never both. The most extreme examples are the Linn LK Majik-i and Creek 4140 S1.

The Majik is the most tuneful amp of the half dozen or so. I can better appreciate musicianship when I follow a specific player, as well as the rhythm played by that one instrument. Yet the Majik discects the music and makes it very analytical, breaking some connection between the musicians, and upsetting the overall rhythm. The Creek is the least tuneful, but is much better at this 'connectedness' or 'musical cohesion', but is distracting in it's untunefulness on some material, especially at low volume.

However, I have begun to wonder if this is more about the way I listen to music. Speaking to a friend, who owns and much prefers the Majik amp, he mainly listens to jazz and tends to let his attention settle on one musician at a time. If I listen this way then I too find the Linn more enjoyable. The problem is I tend to experience music as one lump of sound, perhaps cos I'm more into rock/pop. I seem more sensitive to how all the instruments link into one another and impact rhythms that way than I am to tunefulness. Sometimes a member will comment about a clip being more in-tune somehow and I just don't hear it at all.

Maybe we don't give enough credit to potential differences in the way each of us listens and experiences our music.

Thoughts?
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Re: How Different Are We?

Post by donuk »

Totally agree Charile1 with your post, which leaves the door open for a variety of opinions about amplifiers.

It depends upon what you yourself are doing. If you are a musicologist listening to a Beatles record noting down the clever vocal harmonies in sixths on If I Fell, you might prefer the Magik. If you are my age and want If I Fell to conjure up the emotions of one's early courting days, then perhaps the Creek would be preferable.

To my mind the best amp attempts to do both. Or at least you choose one which is a suitable compromise for you.

I make anologies with digital photography. You can contrast and sharpen an image to reveal lots of detail, but it is unpleasant on the eyes. Similarly you can soften it and make the colours lush. Neither extreme is good.

To my mind this all contributes to the fact that many folk prefer vinyl. The music has already undergone a stage of simplification by effectively sending it though a mechanical transducer, via a rock. It slightly pre-digests it for the ear. I don't expect folk to agree with me, and let's not debate it.

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Re: How Different Are We?

Post by Ozzzy189 »

That's what forums are for Don, debate!
I think that's the reason why I praise Fredrik and his equipment so much (oo-er missus), because he seems to be able to strike that balance as well as anything in and above the price bracket Lejonklou sits in.
I've even started to listen to vastly different types of music because of this. Who'd have thought a rocking metal head would be listening to smooth jazz?
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Re: How Different Are We?

Post by DavidHB »

Charlie1 wrote:Maybe we don't give enough credit to potential differences in the way each of us listens and experiences our music ... Thoughts?
I couldn't agree more. I think it is always useful to assume that the most unreliable and unpredictable component of any H-Fi system is the one between the listener's ears. As that is also the most indispensable component, we are in something of a bind. This is where Tune Dem, and sometimes working in company rather than alone, come in, at least for A/B comparisons and testing. But you rightly point out that we do have different patterns of perception when we use the system for the purpose for which it is intended - extended listening, in which the music itself, and not the means of reproduction, should be the focus.

I listen mainly to classical music, and enjoy it most when I can perceive the detail but also immediately relate it to the general character of the piece - structure, mood and so on. I find that happens best when I am relaxed and essentially unaware that I am listening to a Hi-Fi system at all. There is some ancient wisdom from Aristotle. Talking about the theatre, he noted that a play is an essentially artificial and unbelievable thing, and it therefore works best when it is so engaging that the audience willingly suspends its disbelief. Hi-Fi is like that too.

We can't (and actually wouldn't want to) have a symphony orchestra or jazz band playing in our living room, but our Hi-Fi works best when it fools us into believing that the musical performance is happening here and now. The best Hi-Fi systems are those that most readily enable us to be accomplices in our own deception. As we all (I suspect; it is certainly true in my own case) use different modes of listening at different times, a good Hi-Fi system has to adapt itself to the different modes; and that process (or effect) is most certainly a useful topic for discussion.

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Re: How Different Are We?

Post by lejonklou »

DavidHB wrote:We can't (and actually wouldn't want to) have a symphony orchestra or jazz band playing in our living room, but our Hi-Fi works best when it fools us into believing that the musical performance is happening here and now.
No, the objective a HiFi system is not to fool us into believing that the performance is happening in the room. That's what audiophiles do; fiddle with the sound to accomplish an illusion.

The true purpose of a HiFi system is to communicate the emotional message of the music to us. The better it does that, the more we are moved and engaged. And the less effort is required of us.

The Tune Method is used to make fast decisions when comparing equipment and deciding which is better. And with this tool, one could reach the surprising conclusion that the kitchen radio is in fact better than the expensive system next door. This despite the kitchen radio not giving the slightest illusion of "here and now".
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Re: How Different Are We?

Post by donuk »

lejonklou wrote:
DavidHB wrote:We can't (and actually wouldn't want to) have a symphony orchestra or jazz band playing in our living room, but our Hi-Fi works best when it fools us into believing that the musical performance is happening here and now.
No, the objective a HiFi system is not to fool us into believing that the performance is happening in the room. That's what audiophiles do; fiddle with the sound to accomplish an illusion.

The true purpose of a HiFi system is to communicate the emotional message of the music to us. The better it does that, the more we are moved and engaged. And the less effort is required of us.
I have to totally disagree with you here Mr L. I like to try to reproduce the orchestra in my room, albeit scaled down. The emotion they give their interpretation is enough for me. It is presumptuous to try to improve on reality. Otherwise why not get a graphic equaliser and a reverb? I understand better your adherence to tunedem. Each to his own. Nobody is wrong in matters of art and emotions.

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Charlie1
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Re: How Different Are We?

Post by Charlie1 »

We're veering off a touch, but I don't see anything wrong in wanting/hoping your HiFi will somewhat resemble the real thing, especially if you listen to a lot of un-amplified music. It's just that some folks take it to extreme and it becomes their primary focus. They seem to lose sight of the factors that we value, above all else, on this forum. Don't some of these audiophile systems actually exaggerate the holographic qualities of sparsely recorded instruments, thereby creating an illusion that is more 3D than real-life?
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Re: How Different Are We?

Post by Spannko »

Reading up on the art of recording orchestras, there’s been an ongoing debate about what’s trying to be achieved since about 1930.

There are two schools of thought:

1. Bring the venue to the listener ie recreate the sound of the orchestra.
2. Take the listener to the venue ie recreate the emotional element of the performance.

The best recordings and the ones which can now demand prices in the hundreds of pounds were all recorded with the intention of taking the listener to the venue. Decca’s recordings of the early 1960s are a prime example. Even then, the Decca engineers recognised that too many microphones used in the recordings were devoid of any emotion, and they considered the idea of recreating the orchestra in the home futile. Hence the design of the “Decca Tree” which recorded the orchestra in mono (which is probably why they sound so good!), with a couple of additional microphones for ambiance and stereo spread. For some recordings this is all they used, later they tried adding another two microphones set further back in the audience for a bit more ambience or a few spot mikes, but it’s the earlier recordings which are revered by audiophiles. If you go to the Audinote room at a HiFi show, you’ll often hear the early Decca’s. They don’t sound much like a real orchestra, but bye-eck they’ve got some verve!
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Re: How Different Are We?

Post by sunbeamgls »

An illusion of a performance?

Or an illusion of the emotional message?

Both are illusions because they're not really happening in your room. Possibly one definition of "performance" is the conveyance of the emotion of the music, not just the recreation of the musical notes?
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Re: How Different Are We?

Post by Music Lover »

Spannko wrote:Reading up on the art of recording orchestras, there’s been an ongoing debate about what’s trying to be achieved since about 1930.

There are two schools of thought:

1. Bring the venue to the listener ie recreate the sound of the orchestra.
2. Take the listener to the venue ie recreate the emotional element of the performance.
Then in the 70s, Ivor arrived with a new approach, so far unparalleled: Tune Dem.
An 100% objective method evaluating musical understanding.

3. Enhance the musical understanding, playing a record.
It's all about musical understanding!
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lejonklou
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Re: How Different Are We?

Post by lejonklou »

sunbeamgls wrote:An illusion of a performance?

Or an illusion of the emotional message?

Both are illusions because they're not really happening in your room. Possibly one definition of "performance" is the conveyance of the emotion of the music, not just the recreation of the musical notes?
I don't agree that the emotional message is an illusion. Emotions are real and so is the musical language. It's not about creating an acoustic illusion, it's about delivering the message. Sometimes seemingly simple systems are capable of faithfully delivering a musical message, even if they don't sound particularly impressive (for instance with very limited dynamics and frequency range).

To me this distinction is fundamental. Music is an emotional language on a higher level than its carrier, the sounds.

I was once on high doses of morphine after acute surgery (ruptured appendix). A friend came to the hospital with a compact HiFi system and a good pair of headphones, I was happily surprised. Morphine, it turned out, completely blocked my understanding of the emotional language of music. I played record after record, listening to the stream of sounds. I couldn't feel anything, neither the purpose of the song or whether it was "good" or not. It took me a long while to grasp what was happening; that I had no access to the musical message. I could, however, experience and analyse acoustical illusions like the stereo effect and how realistic the recordings felt.
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Re: How Different Are We?

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sunbeamgls
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Re: How Different Are We?

Post by sunbeamgls »

lejonklou wrote:
sunbeamgls wrote:An illusion of a performance?

Or an illusion of the emotional message?

Both are illusions because they're not really happening in your room. Possibly one definition of "performance" is the conveyance of the emotion of the music, not just the recreation of the musical notes?
I don't agree that the emotional message is an illusion. Emotions are real and so is the musical language. It's not about creating an acoustic illusion, it's about delivering the message. Sometimes seemingly simple systems are capable of faithfully delivering a musical message, even if they don't sound particularly impressive (for instance with very limited dynamics and frequency range).

To me this distinction is fundamental. Music is an emotional language on a higher level than its carrier, the sounds.

I was once on high doses of morphine after acute surgery (ruptured appendix). A friend came to the hospital with a compact HiFi system and a good pair of headphones, I was happily surprised. Morphine, it turned out, completely blocked my understanding of the emotional language of music. I played record after record, listening to the stream of sounds. I couldn't feel anything, neither the purpose of the song or whether it was "good" or not. It took me a long while to grasp what was happening; that I had no access to the musical message. I could, however, experience and analyse acoustical illusions like the stereo effect and how realistic the recordings felt.
Fascinating thoughts Fredrik. In your drug induced state (sounds like a rough time), it is possible that the equipment was capable of the acoustic illusions but not the emotional ones. Or this could apply to yourself in that condition. Or both of course.

Referring to the emotional illusion was not meant in anyway as a derogatory concept. There's nothing wrong with an illusion that stimulates the artist's intended responses in the listener. I often wonder how purely electronic music manages to stir emotions, even without the drugs that sometimes accompany some sub genres :)
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Re: How Different Are We?

Post by DavidHB »

I'm glad to have started this discussion, albeit quite accidentally. Actually, my understanding is closer to Fredrik's than he was implying, which is why I (perhaps ineptly) used the phrase "the musical performance is happening here and now". Having quoted Aristotle (whose whole purpose is to to discuss how different kinds of theatre produce different emotional effects by essentially artificial means), I was referring to the (essentially emotional) effect on the listener, rather than suggesting that the musical activity itself is re-created in the listening space.

David
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