Thoughts on HiFi

General HiFi discussion, using the Tune Method to evaluate performance

Moderator: Staff

Post Reply
Charlie1
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 2919
Joined: 2007-12-11 00:30
Location: UK

Thoughts on HiFi

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-11-10 23:53

Does anyone else here feel that they need a very musical HiFi because they are actually at some kind of disadvantage to most people? I’m beginning to think I have some form of musical dyslexia - as if my brain is not 100% correctly wired. I used to convince myself that I was into HiFi cos I wanted to get even more enjoyment out of my music, to better appreciate musicianship and broaden my taste in music. But I don’t think I get any more enjoyment than friends that share a love of music. In fact, I think all this effort finding a more musically coherent HiFi has just brought me up to their level. Many of my friends happily passed through the worst of CD without a moment of diminished interest in their listening, getting into new bands and artists far quicker than me. I really am beginning to think that the best HiFi can offer me is parity with ‘normal’ people.

donuk
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 304
Joined: 2010-02-21 13:25
Location: York, UK
Contact:

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by donuk » 2019-11-11 01:14

I think this a very interesting aspect of our hobby Charlie1 and quite brave of you to raise it really.

I am sure you are being hard on yourself. I know a lot of remarkably non-musical friends who may also have poor systems who get a great deal of pleasure - often from music that I would not have in the house. But not that they are wrong.
I think having a good system, almost by definition, allows the emotion of music to come through (perhaps referred to on this forum as musicality). I think it has nothing to do with one's intellectual stand-point.

For the sake of argument - let's assume I am reasonably musical - I have played jazz professionally part time for decades now. When I listen to a recording I generally like to be able to follow the chord progression, hear the sequence, and follow how chords resolve one to another. I like to be able to follow the tune of a bass line and observe how a good bass player will create a melody of his or her own while helping to state and predict a chord progression. It is also intellectually satisfying to hear how a jazz soloist uses the underlying chords to embellish what is being voiced. A great drummer (like Bernard Purdie) can put in almost humorous cross rhythms. Yes it is nice to know what is going on, but it is not necessary. It is also possible to extract most of the above information from relatively ordinary hifi systems.

But musicality is emotion. Which, from my perspective is the definition of good hifi. It does not have to be totally accurate - just capable of conveying the message of the music.

It should be remembered that performing musicians often play in acoustically poor situations. Many gig settings have poor acoustics, noisy crowds, and other distractions. Bass players find this more than anybody in my experience - their instrument is often lost and muffled to the rest of the band, while sounding better down the hall. But communication between players can be good enough to create the spirit necessary to produce engaging music.

Consider fine art. You go to a gallery and you see a picture that you like. It will engage with your emotions perhaps. You may be a student of art and point out that the artist has cleverly observed the golden mean, has balanced the subject matter excellently helping the eye more easily towards the focus of the picture, &c. You may know intellectually what is happening in a picture, and what makes it satisfying to you. But it is not necessary to know all this just to stick a favourite snap on the 'fridge.

A bit like music - ultimately you love it just for the noise it makes.

Anyway that is how I look at it. Others may disagree, but it is all subjective. So, Charlie1, I suspect you are not musically in the dumb row. Perhaps just a bit more thoughtful than most folk, being someone who likes to reflect on what you are doing. Too much of this can be a bad thing!

Donuk beautiful downtown York
Donuk

markiteight
Active member
Active member
Posts: 120
Joined: 2012-01-13 01:50
Location: Seattle, Wa. USA

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by markiteight » 2019-11-11 01:48

Great question, Charlie1! I'm relieved to know I'm not the only one who has battled this conundrum. I look at it two different ways, and either way the conclusion I've come to is no...our brains are not misfiring. They're just operating on a different plane.

Listening to music is just like most other things in life: as your appreciation increases, so do your demands. This is true with just about anything: food, wine, cars, all forms of art. It's not so much that you struggle to achieve the same level of appreciation as your friends, but more that your respect and appreciation for music is so much deeper that you demand much more before your brain registers it as acceptable. Some people are perfectly happy with a jug of Gallo from the bottom shelf, while others couldn't stomach a sip of that swill. Some people are satisfied driving whatever anonymous crossover SUV thing they happen upon, I can't fathom why those useless abominations exist! With greater appreciation comes greater demands, and less tolerance for (what the individual perceives as) imperfections.

Then there are the professionals. I know a few professional musicians whose musical knowledge and depth of appreciation far exceed my own, yet they are perfectly happy streaming music from Alexa on their kitchen counter. I've spoken to and heard stories from a lot of professional racing car drivers who could care less what they drive on the street. These pros spend all day exposed to the very best. It's their job. But off the clock they could care less. You'd think that being exposed to the very limits of their respective genres would make them intolerant of imperfection, but it's quite the opposite! Perhaps their extensive and consistent exposure to the upper echelons of their respective genres leaves their demands satisfied, while we mere amateurs' limited exposure leave us craving more all the time.

I have found that my appreciation and enjoyment of music has improved significantly since embracing the tune method and eschewing standard audiophile practices. Indeed, it was the pursuit of "perfect sound" that ruined my enjoyment of music in the first place! If I heard a song I like being piped over the PA system in the grocery store, I used to think, "ugh that sounds terrible!" Now I think, "ooh I love this song!"

I call that progress.

Spannko
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 771
Joined: 2008-01-24 21:46
Location: East of The Black Country, UK

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by Spannko » 2019-11-11 10:55

Charlie1 wrote:
2019-11-10 23:53
Does anyone else here feel that they need a very musical HiFi because they are actually at some kind of disadvantage to most people?
Definitely!

Initially, I thought that I was able to hear things that others couldn’t. I remember being demo’d an A60E against one of its competitors. The dealer couldn’t understand why I felt that the A60E sounded more “coherent” than his preferred amp. He couldn’t hear that aspect of the performance.

Later, I met many professional musicians who were able to listen to quite complex pieces of music on a Dancette and get a tremendous amount of musical enjoyment from it. This made me realise that their brains were able to reintegrate all the different strands in the music, whereas I needed the music to be presented to me in a more coherent structure for my brain to stand any chance of reassembling the information.

So yes, I think my ear/brain system struggles with making sense of poorly reproduced music.

Charlie1
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 2919
Joined: 2007-12-11 00:30
Location: UK

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-11-12 10:52

Thanks folks.

I wanted to respond last night but ran out of time.

It's a nice idea that I'm a some sort of connoisseur with high expectations. I am defintely the opposite of a connoisseur when it comes to wine. To me, it all tastes broadly the same and I just tend to like it all equally - with a few exceptions. I suppose my wife is like that with HiFi - her exception being the Kan cos it has no bass on some material.

I don't really know the truth of it. My hunch is that I share Spannko's difficulty in 'reassembling the information'. This kinda fits with people that have complained over the years that the LP12 simplifies the music for them, or adds some kind of relentless forward motion to the music. Perhaps they don't need this help but these attributes could be the very thing I need for music to make sense.

David Neel
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 593
Joined: 2008-02-08 23:17
Location: This Sweet Old World

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by David Neel » 2019-11-12 12:21

Interesting question and interesting replies!

For me, there are a few recordings or pieces of music which get "unlocked" by an upgrade. And then my "understanding" stays, even if I have to fill in some gaps another time I still get it. But even where I think I know the music inside out, when an upgrade reveals more, it enhances the experience of listening. Sometimes I listen with my head, being analytical, and "thinking" about the music. When music is really communicating with me, and/or when I'm truly receptive, there is no "thinking" and I'm listening with my whole being - I'm barely aware of anything else. And I strongly suspect that this type of musical experience is correlated with (amongst other factors) musicality improvements in the system.

So yes, I spend time and money improving my system way beyond the point where most people would not bother! To me, the enjoyment is worth it. Am I different from other people? The evidence would suggest so!
The search for knowledge is not nourished by certainty, but by a radical distrust in certainty.

u252agz
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 434
Joined: 2013-10-03 12:44
Location: UK

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by u252agz » 2019-11-12 15:14

At a very simplistic level I think most people will ‘enjoy’ a piece of music they like on most systems.

For some that is all they ever need and they are happy bunnies.

For others - they gain a huge amount of extra enjoyment from more musical systems and the more musical it is the greater the enjoyment; so much so it becomes a necessary fix for them.

And like any other addict they chase the ultimate high all the time and become agitated and depressed when someone denies them this fix.

For some people it is music that does this , for others it is reading poetry, novels, watching sports on tv/ live , or box sets Etc etc

Most of us will have a few ‘hobbies’ we enjoy and push to higher levels and sometimes one in particular we are obsessed with ‘ pushing the envelope’ as it gives us so much enjoyment.

I listen to the same music on various Systems in the house. All are ‘enjoyable’ but only the LP12 / KDS one gives me that fix .

Members of my family all appreciate the ‘better’ music in the main system , but only I get a fix from it.
KDS2/Sagatun Tundra Monos /242s /LP12 Kore-KRad-Ekos SE/Slip 7

Sneaky/RP3/Slip 6.1/ Boazu/ Komp110

Spannko
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 771
Joined: 2008-01-24 21:46
Location: East of The Black Country, UK

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by Spannko » 2019-11-12 17:30

u252agz wrote:
2019-11-12 15:14
At a very simplistic level I think most people will ‘enjoy’ a piece of music they like on most systems.

For some that is all they ever need and they are happy bunnies.

Members of my family all appreciate the ‘better’ music in the main system , but only I get a fix from it.
Yes, I wonder why that is?

A friend of mine played in a band and had several albums out in the 80’s. He’s really enjoyed listening to jazz on the systems I’ve had over the years and I helped him to assemble the classic Mimik/Malik/Keilidh system.

However, his system hardly ever gets used and the last time I saw him he was raving about how good Miles Davis was and proceeded to play something for me on his phone !!! To me, it was a noise, but to him it was blissful.

Spannko
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 771
Joined: 2008-01-24 21:46
Location: East of The Black Country, UK

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by Spannko » 2019-11-12 17:41

This raises the question, are we ‘Golden Eared’ or perhaps ‘Cabbage Eared’?

There are undoubtedly some people with Golden Ears, but I would say that I definitely fit into the later category!

Defender
Active member
Active member
Posts: 192
Joined: 2018-02-14 22:35

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by Defender » 2019-11-12 19:45

Really interesting discussion and a lot of interesting thoughts.
For me music is like a language which is independent from where you are born and with which language you did grew up. Some already related it to art and like art I am appreciating work/craftsmanship where you realize some genius put all the passion he or she has for that work into it.

Yes I do think I am different than others but I think my hearing is rather worst than better than others.
But I care more about what I hear and if it sounds natural or like if I would hear the same musicians live.

The brain gives you what you are asking for - if you dont care much about the quality you might be able to enjoy the music of a lower level system. If you focus your brain on finding what is not perfect it will find those issues ... and that is the difficult part. I think something was guiding me into the wrong direction for years trying to fix imperfections and not really enjoying music.

Since I am here I feel like in an Tune Dem Anonymus group - we are all a little bit strange but in a good way.
Music is like meditation for me - after a stressful day I am looking forward to hear music ... its expensive some times but more healthy than going over to the Anonymus „something else“ group.

u252agz
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 434
Joined: 2013-10-03 12:44
Location: UK

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by u252agz » 2019-11-12 22:17

Spannko wrote:
2019-11-12 17:30
u252agz wrote:
2019-11-12 15:14
At a very simplistic level I think most people will ‘enjoy’ a piece of music they like on most systems.

For some that is all they ever need and they are happy bunnies.

Members of my family all appreciate the ‘better’ music in the main system , but only I get a fix from it.
Yes, I wonder why that is?

A friend of mine played in a band and had several albums out in the 80’s. He’s really enjoyed listening to jazz on the systems I’ve had over the years and I helped him to assemble the classic Mimik/Malik/Keilidh system.

However, his system hardly ever gets used and the last time I saw him he was raving about how good Miles Davis was and proceeded to play something for me on his phone !!! To me, it was a noise, but to him it was blissful.
I am sure your friend is one of those happy bunnies - I have just listened to a Christine and the Queens CD on my VWGolfs music system and it was very enjoyable ( as is the FM radio but not the DAB stations) but It did not hit the spot in the way my LP 12 does with the vinyl album.
KDS2/Sagatun Tundra Monos /242s /LP12 Kore-KRad-Ekos SE/Slip 7

Sneaky/RP3/Slip 6.1/ Boazu/ Komp110

Charlie1
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 2919
Joined: 2007-12-11 00:30
Location: UK

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-11-12 23:42

Today I was reading about an LP12 owner that suffered a bad head injury and for a period (not sure how long) he lost all awareness of timing and sense of rhythm. He said he got a real insight into what music is like for those for whom rhythm is unimportant and it illustrated how timbre, tonal accuracy and low coloration become far more significant under such circumstances.

ThomasOK
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 2560
Joined: 2007-02-02 18:41
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by ThomasOK » 2019-11-13 00:15

There are a lot of interesting thoughts going on here so I'm not sure where I'll take it. For starters we are all at a disadvantage to "the great unwashed masses" because we have trained our ears and have come to want more. We have caught the reproduced music loving disease and, although we can listen to the car stereo (which in my car is surprisingly pretty good) or a radio in the kitchen, we don't get the emotional connection we receive when the system is really cooking. Is this bad? I don't think so because it appears to me that those of us who really put together musically engaging systems (as opposed to audiophile Hi-Fis) do become more engrossed in the music than most people appear to be. How may normal people have you seen actually sit down and listen to a record and literally be brought to tears by the beauty of the music? I've done it, I've seen Fredrik do it, I've even seen a reviewer do it in one of my rooms at an audio show (it made me sure he knew what he was hearing). So I think that we likely do get a deeper connection with the music and a fuller enjoyment of it. We also generally broaden our taste in music due to the ability of the system to really convey the message of the music.

This is not just a music thing. As others have mentioned it applies to art appreciation, to appreciation of quality food, fine cars and apparently fine alcohol or pot as it's becoming a more legal drug in the US. I don't drink any alcoholic beverages, nor coffee for that matter, so to me they are all just bilge-water, but I know others who appreciate the subtleties of different varieties. I have actually read up on wines and whiskeys when I was going to give them as gifts and have found the connoisseurs of these products are possibly worse than audiophiles! They do find both inexpensive and expensive products they like and they have their own language for descriptions which often defy understanding. "A delightfully complex nose of vanilla, hot cross buns and bakery shop, cherries, coconut, raisins, figs, licorice, old leather, and hay barn. A smooth, viscous palate offers lemon honey, fragrant oak, cigar ash, dark berries, and more coconut. Spicier notes emerge with water, while the finish offers rich smoothness, with spiciness, chocolate-covered coconut, tobacco, and bitter herbs." I actually read one that said it offered a taste of saddle leather! It made me want to know who goes around licking old saddles, or in the case of the review above tasting cigar ash to come up with these descriptions. But there you have it - almost makes the "caramel colored coloration" and delicate imagery of the Hi-Fi publications seem sane.

In my experience, once you accustom yourself to quality it is hard to go back. Although I live relatively simply in a small house in a moderate neighborhood, I have become accustomed to a number of quality things and I prefer to have quality rather than quantity. As such I probably visit a fast food establishment maybe twice a year - if I'm going out to eat it had better be good food well prepared, not expensive, just good. Luckily for me I am quite a good cook so I don't have to go out often to get tasty food. I decided sometime around the time I turned 60 that I was going to apply this thinking to most of the things I buy as I was tired of buying junk because it was cheap and then having to replace it. So when my $30 umbrella broke I bought one of the best at $150 and I am supremely happy with it. I bought quality items when I rebuilt my kitchen a couple of years ago but again not the most expensive, like IKEA cabinets. I bought a really great Swedish parka and three pair of Hestra gloves. I'll also likely never buy another gasoline engine car. On the other hand I don't spend a lot on clothes as I mostly live in Levis jeans and polo shirts and I buy them cheap.

These types of tastes come mostly from experience. You learn about things and you learn to appreciate what is good and what isn't. You taste good food or beverages and don't want less. You study art and start to see the difference in execution between masters and others. You listen to music and learn to appreciate quality musicianship. For me this has probably been somewhat costly. Although Hi-Fi has been a hobby for at least 50 years and consumer electronics my profession for over 40, I am also a musician (never professional) specializing in tablas but like most percussionists able to play a wide range of drums and associated pieces (for a drummer anything you can beat on and get a noise out of becomes an instrument). And I am also an artist having blown glass for a few years (truth be told I would have made glassblowing my profession if I hadn't had an aversion to being a starving artist). So I have an appreciation for quality glassware that Fredrik can attest has lead to an excessive collection of Jenaer products. Like most of those into artwork I have also dabbled in most other types of art so I also appreciate fine woodwork, pottery, metalwork, painting, etc. Now I haven't invested heavily in most of these as furniture is also generally something that I just use, hence IKEA record cabinets and a cheap roll-around kitchen card for my record cleaning machine. But the tendencies do pop up in places like the plinths on my two LP12s, and the few pieces of pottery I have around.

So yes, we are all crazy, but we are far from alone. And, in my opinion, our craziness comes from a sensitivity to what is superior which allows us to become more deeply enmeshed in the experience of music. Music is important to us, it can bring us joy, it can be cathartic (try a little NIN when you need to get some anger out), it can mellow us out, as someone said it can be a meditation (for me meditation is my meditation, but music is close). As Aldous Huxley said "After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music."
Manufacturer, Distributor, Retailer and above all lover of music.

Spannko
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 771
Joined: 2008-01-24 21:46
Location: East of The Black Country, UK

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by Spannko » 2019-11-13 12:40

I guess that makes you Golden Eared then Thomas.

What would we say of the composer of the music that makes you cry who listens to music on a Dynatron? Or Beethoven who wouldn’t be able to listen to anything? Or Evelyn Glennie? Where does their appreciation of music come from? Does your trained ear and Worldie hifi system enable you to enjoy music at a higher level than them?

u252agz
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 434
Joined: 2013-10-03 12:44
Location: UK

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by u252agz » 2019-11-13 14:06

I suspect the composer does not 'enjoy' the music as much as the listener ( who will be moved by a great reproduction of the music either live or recorded, but not so much by a poor reproduction of the same).

In the same way a brilliant author will not be moved by their poem/novel whilst they are in the process of writing it.

Or an artist be moved by their painting as they create the masterpeice.

I think the creators of such things of beauty and emotion just do what they do and have an amazing gift for this. They may look at the finished product with such a critical eye/ear they may not even appreciate the beauty as others do, and only see how it could have been better.

I suspect this may apply to professional musicians who listen to music with a very critical ear, and r many other masters of creative work.
KDS2/Sagatun Tundra Monos /242s /LP12 Kore-KRad-Ekos SE/Slip 7

Sneaky/RP3/Slip 6.1/ Boazu/ Komp110

ThomasOK
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 2560
Joined: 2007-02-02 18:41
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by ThomasOK » 2019-11-13 19:03

Spannko wrote:
2019-11-13 12:40
I guess that makes you Golden Eared then Thomas.

What would we say of the composer of the music that makes you cry who listens to music on a Dynatron? Or Beethoven who wouldn’t be able to listen to anything? Or Evelyn Glennie? Where does their appreciation of music come from? Does your trained ear and Worldie hifi system enable you to enjoy music at a higher level than them?
I don't know about golden eared, but I know what I like! I think u252agz has the feel of it and you already answered your own question as Beethoven was able to write very moving music without being able to hear it. Which means it was all in his head. I believe this is the case with most musicians and composers and is one reason they are rarely into Hi-Fi. Another reason is they are used to what it sounds like live and no Hi-Fi can match that. Because of that they tend to listen through the audio equipment filling in what their mind tells them should be there. This shows up in the fact that top musicians have endorsed crap Hi-Fi in the past.

I also have a personal experience that ties in with that. My ex-wife was a musician playing piano and recorder and teaching piano. She didn't really understand my interest in Hi-Fi and said it all sounded the same to her. She was fine with a basic music player. One day while I was playing a piano piece she asked me what the big deal was about a system like mine. (This was an LP12/Ittok/Troika, LK1, LK280 and Isobariks.) I told her it was the ability to really hear what is going on in the music and said: "If you knew your pianos you would be able to tell whether this was a Steinway or other brand." Here immediate reply was: "Yes, it's a Baldwin." I asked how many systems she had heard where that was obvious. She answered; "Only this one." Point proven I didn't have to answer that question again.
Manufacturer, Distributor, Retailer and above all lover of music.

tokenbrit
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 951
Joined: 2012-03-22 19:47
Location: New England

Re: Thoughts on HiFi

Post by tokenbrit » 2019-11-14 06:15

Spannko wrote:
2019-11-13 12:40
What would we say of .. Evelyn Glennie? Where does their appreciation of music come from?
Thanks for mentioning Evelyn... I have to admit I wasn't familiar, but did a little Googling, which led to this: https://www.ted.com/talks/evelyn_glenni ... _to_listen - I found her talk, musicianship, insight, & humour quite interesting, and thought I'd share here.

Post Reply