An Audiophile Goal


An Audiophile Goal.

I have been grappling with the perceived problem of listening to LPs at the same volume setting, for every LP. The original post that I addressed this problem with is here http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1179765549&openmine&zzAcoustat6&4&5#Acoustat6. It was to discuss my idea of playing back all LPs at the same volume setting regardless of type of music or recording etc. To say it was a debacle would be an understatement to say the least. The discussion did not start the way I thought it would and went quickly downhill from there. I would like to put that behind me and realize why it was so controversial and failed as a discussion. As I originally said this idea was new to me and it took such a long time to coagulate my thoughts about this and the reasons why it works. The answer is obvious now. I didn't have an audiophile goal.

I got the answer from reading the recent post about J. Gordon Holts article in Stereophile which was discussed on Audiogon. .
The reference being about an audiophile goal in one of the posts. This was my thought, myself and audiophiles in general don't have an audiophile goal (actually, I do have several but I will stick to the topic). It seems that no one can agree on a goal, its all so subjective some say, I like it loud, I like it quiet, I like a lot of bass, I like imaging and on and on. This is fine, that is why we all buy different speakers and equipment. It comes down to you can't measure music. You have to hear it, does it make your toe tap? Can you listen at a low level? Is the tweeter too bright? Is the Bass too loud? Ad nauseum. And there we go again are my toes tapping enough? What is low level listening? Is the bass loud enough for hip hop but too loud for a violin concerto?

I found myself an audiophile goal and an easy one at that, its 20-20k hz. Yeah, you like it too. Right? You buy phono cartridges, pre-amps amps etc. that are flat 20-20k hz. So my audiophile goal is to get 20-20k hz flat (as possible). I said I needed a goal! I know there is more to it than that, but undeniably it is a goal. Now if I go with a test reference of 83db at 1000hz from my test LP this will be an excellent level for dynamics, noise levels and acuteness of hearing. All that is required is 1000hz at 83db from the test LP and all other freq matching this level, So 10,000hz and 5,000hz along with 500,100, 80, 50 and 30hz with all of the freq in between at the specified level of 83db will all be played back off of the test LP at the same level or as close as possible as can be obtained within a systems speakers and equipment and rooms limitations. Find this level and you leave your volume control set to this position for every LP you play. Pretty simple actually.

The original idea came to me slowly over the last three to four years, though I struggled with the quandary for as long as I can remember and I have yet to hear anyone say, sure you don't do that? I thought we all did. All because I didn't have an audiophile goal. Now I find out that perhaps even J. Gordon Holt may not have an audiophile goal, even one as simple as this. The best thing is now I get to listen to all of my LPs at the same gain setting with its attendant qualities of dynamics, constant noise levels, unchanging freq response and a host of other benefits which come along for the ride.

I knew it was wrong to be changing volume levels and bass levels for different LPs. Jumping up in the middle of a song to hear the bass drums or turning it down for a quiet violin solo and doing the same for complete albums. It was insane, I always felt like I was in junior high school cranking it up for the cool parts. But every one does it, so did I. I was missing that audiophile goal.

I enjoy listening to my Lps, many of which I still have from my early high school days and everything in between which amounts to about 2500 quality LPs. As a now confirmed audiophile, now that I have a realistic and perhaps more importantly a measurable goal, I could start figuring out which albums sound good and which do not. It was easy, every LP is played back at the same gain level (volume control setting if you will) and guess what you hear? Every Lp for what it actually sounds like.

Another benefit is that every system you hear is played back to the same standard from the same test LP, perhaps it could even be used at audio shows where every room is played back at this reference setting. If you choose not to listen at the standard then it is stated at the door that reference setting is either higher or lower than the reference. This way if you choose not to abuse your hearing in a room that is 6db above the reference standard you are warned before entering.

And all of this because J Gordon Holt didn't have an audiophile goal.

If you can listen to one Lp at a certain level whether it be a high or low level why can't you listen to any other record at that level?

Just a few thoughts.
Thanks,
Bob
acoustat6
The flaw in this argument, I believe, is that lps (and cds) are cut at varying volume levels. Some direct-to-disk lps have higher levels than any standardly cut lp. Playing them back at the same "volume control level" tells you nothing. Not to mention distortion, compression etc. And every now and then you'll see a recording (usually of Wellington's Victory) that warns you not to play it too loud because you'll blow your speakers when the cannos go off. I believe your intentions are good, but conceptually muddled--at least the way I read them.
Bob these are just my knee-jerk thoughts on reading your post, they are of no value!

1) 20-20,000 Hz flat response has a lot less to do with your gear than it does your room!

2) 20-20,000 Hz while looking good on paper is rarely enjoyable for listening. While audiophiles like to pretend they are neutral in their listening preferences, this is a fallacy. I had a former friend (who it turns out is mentally unstable) come over with a computer and test equipment and measure my room. It turns out that all of us present preferred the sound of the colored room to the more neutral room.

I would have sworn up and down (just like you are right now) that I want my room to be as neutral as possible, but I did not like how it sounded. I did alter my room tuning devices, but could not keep the room where it sounded the most neutral.

3) Short of spending more money on your room than you did on your house you will never get a 20-20,000 Hz flat response...

I'm not sure I see the point of listening to all your LPs at the same volume, unless you plan to buy a pre-amp that does not have a volume control. If you can bypass that connection, then you are that much better off!

I think volume is more dependent on mood, or the purpose for listening than it is to allow a certain level of musicality into the experience, but I'm usually wrong!

O

o

.
Those posts above are absolutely correct... Also, does one really want to hear a string quartet at Tina Turner levels? Even Tina sings softer or louder as the music dictates. The really good part of this is that although we may not have on/off switches, we all have volume controls. They are your ears, in your house, do what you want.
Putting your efforts and money into 20-20KHz +/- 0dB is counterproductive for several reasons.

1. Flat frequency response is overrated in the sense that it is the distortion that we listen through the most easily. Think about a live concert. Between concert room interactions to the sound guy doing EQ boosts and dips, live music is never flat, yet it is the gold standard for fidelity because it is real. We are more used to listening past frequency nonlinearities than any other type of distortion.

2. Flat frequency response would be nice if it were achieved from one end of the signal chain to the very end, but it never is. So having a flat response for playback only preserves the last tweaks during mastering. Some recordings are mastered to sound good on an iPod or a car radio. Is this how you want to hear them through a 20-20KHz flat system? Personally, I can't BEAR to hear Motown CD reissues on a hi-rez system.

3. Some means of achieving flat frequency response wreck other sonic cues for which human hearing is more sensitive. For example, heavy-handed equalizing messes up phase relationships, which we use to identify timbre and location. That's one reason 1st generation CD players sounded so bad--they used a "brick wall" analog filter to shut down any frequencies above 20KHz, and wrecked the phase relationships of the audible overtones from 5-20Khz in the process.

4. 20KHz is nowhere near high enough to achieve realistic-sounding fidelity. It's not that we can easily identify test tones above 20KHz, but the upper frequency response also defines the rise time of every reproduced note. If my math is correct, a 20Khz top end limits rise time to 1/40,000 of a second. Listen to a system with electronics rated out to 150KHz and the music sounds more lively with faster and more dramatic transients. Good transparency requires speed. Look at how the Gram Slee Era Gold is such a highly regarded phono stage for the money. The designer is adamant that having a frequency response out into the MHz range is essential for preserving speed and upper octave overtones and therefore, timbre.
It's good to have a goal.

An LP has a dynamic range in the 60 to 70 dB range. There are physical constraints on the maximum groove excursions that can be stamped into a record.

The length of a record also affects the volume at which a record can be cut. If you want the max out of an LP, you can't put much more than 15 minutes a side on a record. If the recording doesn't have much bass, you can make this longer. If the engineer is willing to lower the record level, you can get still more time.

You also don't want to intentionally record at a lower volume than needed, as this will sacrifice the signal to noise ratio of the recording.

Examples: if I have a 30 minute harpsichord recording and make use of the headroom available on the LP, it will sound much louder than a 50 minute Led Zeppelin record with heavy bass. The recording level pressed into the Led Zep LP had to be significantly reduced to accommodate the extra bass modulation and time.

You have to use your volume control to play each of those records at a volume appropriate to the live version.

A LP record has a set of fixed constraints that an engineer must work within. How he juggles those to best match the demands of a particular recording will vary widely from LP to LP.
This is why I listen to CDs. :)
Hell, if measurements told the whole story we'd all have excellent sounding rooms. ;-)
Picking up on what others have said, and I hope adding to it, instead of driving yourself nuts trying to "equalize" your room, there is a fairly reasonable path to your goal, costwise, using digital equalizers. Several of these have been reviewed especially by Robert E Greene of TAS whose obsession with flat in-room response is similar to yours. You should be reading his articles, not Holt's. Equalizing in the digital domain ameliorates or avoids phase problems, too. You might be able to find one of the units that REG has reviewed in the Agon for sale listings, for a "reasonable" price.

Having said that, I can tell you that I listen to most all my records at one of two volume settings on my preamp, and they are only one click apart, i.e., about 9 o'clock and about 9:30 on the dial. (I have a very high gain LOMC-capable preamp.) But almost all LPs sound fine at 9 o'clock. So have I reached some sonic nirvana by doing that? I don't know, never thought about it in that vein, but I AM loving my phono playback system these days. My cdp is on the workbench for some upgrades, for the past 2 months, because I don't miss it.
Tarsando said, "Playing them back at the same "volume control level" tells you nothing."

How can playing all LPs back at the same playback level tell you nothing?
Would it not tell you which LP is recorded louder or quiter? Would it not reveal which LPs are more dynamic than the others? Would you not hear which has quiet vinyl, more or louder pops and clicks, which has distorted grooves? Which Lps have rumble and to what levels? Could you not hear which LP has more or less bass or has an overly aggressive top end? It would tell you which LPs you system has problems dealing with. It would tell you that if you system developed noise at this level something changed. Wouldn't it tell you your system needs to be only so quiet? It needs to be quiet at this level though, who cares if it gets noisy when the volume is turned up to 10.
Would it tell me that if you listen to your LPs not at the 1000hz 83db reference playback level and say that you are listening at 73db 1000hz level that LPs that sound quiet to you could sound noisy to me?
Bob
I believe what a number of you missed was not only the 20-20k response important but more importantly is the 83db 1000hz level. Really it is the place to start and I found it by accident just like Madame Curie and Galileo found... Oh nevermind.

Here are some of my thoughs recently and why I needed an audiophile goal. I believe that perhaps as you get closer to "a good freq response" all you need is 83db at 1000hz playedback from a test LP for an "easily" accomplished goal. This goal is a nice place to be, it is working for me. There are a number of reasons that 83db is used and I suggest you research "83db reference level". And if you all get lazy let me know and I will attach some links. My though would be most have heard of this allready.

For myself I am not expecting flat 20-20khz in my room and I do have a slight tilt up in the last octave which I like. I am still working on my room and system as I would like a better freq response. I know about the BBC curve also.

Now wouldn't it be nice to go to a show or a friends house and listen at the same levels? Of course being that the only freq you are expected to get correct is the 1000hz signal, all of the others freqs, being like mine and everyone elses systems, probably not nearly as flat as we would like. Would that not be what we are listening to?
How you get there and how well you you do is your thing and if you choose not to listen at that level it would just be duly noted that your system is playing at a louder or softer level than the reference.

Bob
Hi Bob,

What you're missing that people are trying to explain is that there is no correlation AT ALL between where your Volume knob is set and achieving 83db IN ROOM listening level on a particular record. And because human hearing itself responds differently at higher and lower listening levels, as does the relative response of room mode factors - You must have identical in room's to compare two lp's. The only way you could do that would be if every lp had a test tone track incorporated.

What you do by leaving your Volume knob at a spot where your system produces 83db from ONE randomly chosen test disc, is measure how much relative gain the Mastering engineer applied to the cutter head of each record - kind of. I say "kind of" because even this would only be true if all lp's were recorded at the same In Studio db level.

In cutting lp's, each performance has different requirements determined by how much the stylus travels during low frequence peaks and also by random decisions made about how many minutes and which tracks to put on each side of the lp. The more minutes, and the louder the bass content, the lower the gain you can apply to the cutter head - it's that simple.

Let's take for example, an lp that has nothing but a 1000hz tone that was actually recorded while the tone was being played at a measured in room 83db level in the recording studio. Covering all of side A is 17 minutes of this tone and covering all of Side B is 23 minutes of the exact same 1000hz tone played into the microphone at 83db.

Now - keep in mind that the disk mastering engineer has to reduce the excursion of the cutter head to fit the extra 6 minutes of grooves onto Side B. The tone was still recorded at 83db in the recording studio, however - Same tone, Same vinyl, same stamper number. But the grooves on the 23 min. side will have smaller squiggles and your cartridge will produce less db gain as the coils or magnets travel back and forth a correspondingly shorter distance in the same amount of time.

What happens now?

Not only does it tell you NOTHING about the recording itself to play back both sides with your Volume Knob at the same place - it is FLAT OUT misleading. If you set your Vol. Knob to measure in room 83db while playing the 17 minute side - producing the sound pressure level EXACTLY AS IT WAS RECORDED, and you leave your Vol. Knob where it is to play Side B - you would NOT produce in room 83db and therefore NOT be playing the tone EXACTLY AS IT WAS RECORDED. Case closed.

The 15 minute side will be louder. And it will sound slightly better to you because of that fact alone. (We don't need to prove that the same software, cut at a lower gain will produce more rumble and expose more noise in a system than one cut at a higher gain. We know that.)

Now it's obvious, but with 2 different lp's - before you can decide if one lp is of better quality, either as recorded OR as your system reproduces it - you have to turn your Vol. knob to the point where the the lp is measuring in your room at the level (or a fixed minus/plus db of the level) where EACH WAS RECORDED - which we don't know. The closest you can come is to guesstimate - based on the type of music and the circumstances - but it will virtually never be to leave the Volume output of the preamp at one fixed setting.
Hi opalchip, Thanks for an insightful reply. While I understand some of your arguments, I must repeat that what I explained works very well for me and I suspect it will for others also, except for those that use audio as a mood enhancer for mating.

Actually you dont need a test LP, my suggestion is to start at a "low" level and listen to your LPs at that level and continue to increase it as you tune your system to suite every LP. The key here is to listen to every LP without changing the level set. You may and should change speaker locations, tuning your cartridge and TT, sub/main speaker levels, seating location etc. Now if you need to increse or decrease volume setting do it and continue this untill yuo have reaced a point where the best LPs sound their best and lesser LPs are revealed for what they are. I believe that this will tune your system to its most natural and truthful ability. This will take some time, this is not accomplished in one listening session or overnight but is a long term goal. Except now that you know this is possible, perhaps the process can be accelerated.

The fact that every LP was recorded/pressed different is what I want to hear. Do we increase or decrease the volume on LPs that are dynamic? Do you turn up or down a LP that is noisy with limited gain on the LP? Do you turn up or down an LP with "big" bass or do you adjust the bass levels then turn it up? Does a rock LP that is "required" to be played loud get a special compensation now that the noise level of the LP is twice as loud as the "quiet" violin concerto played at half the volume level? Which LP is truly quiet? Which LP has great dynamics? How do you really know if the target is always moving?

Opalchip or others, please explain to me why you would change the volume level for different LPs, whether it be up or down, and what this can accomplish. Just how do you know where each was recorded? Or which LPs should be played back soft or loud.

We are supposed to be audiophiles for goodness sake and I find it just unbelivable that even something as simple as a good in room freq response at a certain level to be contemptuous is just amazing. Yes, I know it does not tell the whole story but it is a large part of it.

Opalchip, sorry to glean some of your quotes from your past postings, but feel that we are searching for some truth somewhere as you state.

"So I very much agree with the Hardesty camp that Flat, Time and Phase Correct HAS to be the holy grail, at least as a starting point, for serious listening."

"And that's OK - each to his own. Reproduction accuracy is not an ethical standard like "truth", it's a preference. And it's not a very popular one. Even "truth" itself isn't exactly a popular standard anymore. Not to get into politics, but look around! So why on earth would audio accuracy be important?"

"I prefer hearing what was actually recorded coming out of the front of my speakers..."
Opalchip or others, please explain to me why you would change the volume level for different LPs, whether it be up or down, and what this can accomplish.

This has already been discussed several times but it is apparently not registering.

Look at the basic design of an LP. It is a piece of plastic with a modulated groove pressed into it. Due to various design parameters (which include characteristics of stylus size and shape on the playback cartridge) there is a maximum modulated level that can be pressed into a record.

If a musical piece has a lot of low bass present, this requires wider grooves than music that doesn't have as much bass. As a practical matter, if you want the full volume on music with a lot of bass content, you are limited to about 15 minutes on each side of the record.

Unfortunately, not all musical pieces are conveniently cut into 15 minute segments. If you have a symphonic piece that is 50 minutes long (25 minutes a side), but still has lots of kettle drum action, the record stamping plant must press the record with a lower modulation level in the grooves to get it all on the record. That is just a fact of life.

With your system of finding a single spot where you permanently park your volume knob setting, this means that some records are going to be played louder than they should and some records will be softer. That long symphony (or Led Zeppelin) record you have will be played at too low a volume. However, a short record (say our harpsichord) would end up being played too loudly under your system.

You might be better off buying yourself an inexpensive sound level meter. Take it to some live concerts and check the actual volume you are hearing where you sit. Then go home, and use the meter to set your stereo to that volume. You'll be far closer to getting an authentic experience with this method than the one you're trying to use.
Hello, Trust me it is registering what you are saying, and conversely you are not hearing what I am saying. LPs are limited to only so much energy available to them, as an example, and it is up to the engineer to get the most out of this. I can only provide the vehicle for the LP to reveal itself as either a "good" or "bad" recording of music or perhaps its sonics are somewhere inbetween. If it is not there, there is nothing you can do to fix this, and all other problems with LPs including, but not limited to, previous groove damage, lack of dynamics, rumble, pops/clicks, noisy vinyl, bad pressings, LPs that are recorded too loud or too low etc... you tell me what changing volume levels does to improve the record? Or what you can do to improve them in general that would not adversly affect the sonics of a well recorded LP? Perhaps even why you want to say a record with those problems, if they are serious enough, are worth listening to?

Thats just it, most LPs suck, many are OK, a number are good and few are great. Or are you tring to tell me that all LPs are great? If you manipulate them enough... Its not my job to correct what some lousy engineer, bad pressing or poor condition LP has to offer by manipulating my system so no LP sounds good. I do have an slp meter.

Now about the audiophile goal..
Bob
...you tell me what changing volume levels does to improve the record?

Changing your volume knob's setting is a way to bring that recording closer to the actual experience of the live event.

Example 1: Our 15 minute per side harpsichord recording. It is recorded at full available groove modulation due to the short length of the musical composition and the lack of bass inherent in the instrument. At a live performance, let's say the average perceived volume at my seat is 72 dB.

I play the record with a preset volume control. Due to the LP I am presented with, I have a harpsichord blasting away at 90 dB. That hardly strikes me as desirable if one is trying to closely recreate the live experience.

Example 2: We have a LP of a 50 minute Mahler symphony. At the concert, the average SPL at my seat is 90 dB. Due to the inherent limitations of the LP format, the LP was pressed with lower groove modulations. (This is NOT because the engineer did a "lousy" job. The physics of LP production required that lower level.) When I play back this record on my fixed-volume level stereo, I get a 75 dB playback level. That is substantially softer than what I heard live.

The solution for the vast majority of music listeners is to turn down the volume somewhat when listening to the harpsichord recording and to turn it up when listening to the full symphony.

The quality of the record is just what it is. There is nothing we can do to "improve" that recording once it has left the pressing plant. However, one variable we do have control over is adjusting the playback volume to match that of a realistic concert. If you choose to listen to loud music at a low volume and soft music at a loud volume, that is certainly your prerogative. Of course, there are certainly times where the volume setting will be a good match for your LP. However, to not play a particular record at all, or to listen to it at an inappropriate volume simply because of a volume mismatch strikes me as unnecessarily robbing yourself of otherwise enjoyable experience.

In my opinion there is nothing magic about a particular volume setting on a preamp since the output volume of source material varies so widely. (This is also true of CD, open reel, FM broadcast and other music sources as well as LPs.) Having music play at an appropriate volume for the piece in question is important to me (and many others I suspect) and it is something over which I have control. It seems you choose otherwise, but that is certainly your option. Just remember to enjoy your music.
Acoustat6 said:
"Opalchip or others, please explain to me why you would change the volume level for different LPs, whether it be up or down, and what this can accomplish. Just how do you know where each was recorded? Or which LPs should be played back soft or loud."

Great thread, BTW.

I change the volume on each LP to the level that makes me happy at the time. Sometimes it's at a volume that I imagine for a live performance, at other times is softer than that and at other times it's louder than the probable performance level. My objective is to enjoy the music.

You obviously love music, given the size of your record collection. I don't think that most people collect that many records without loving music, so I'm going to assume that music attracted you to audio. I also suspect that you're a "numbers guy" of some sort.

I'm a "numbers guy" and make my living helping banks hedge certain interest rate risk and mortgage prepayment risk. I've been a CPA since 1970. Fixating on numbers is very common within corporate environments and can lead to unhealthy, unintended consequences. I see things go astray all the time, particularly when you start mixing numbers and egos. Most of us acknowledge that egos are not always rational and logical. It took me a long time to learn that numbers are not always rational and logical. Hopefully you'll trust me on that. Once I learned that, I started spending a lot more of my time trying to get people to focus on the "right number".

Just because something can be measured doesn't make it a appropriate or valuable goal. For instance, if you mainly listened to acoustic jazz, then a speaker that extended to 20hz rather than rolling off at 30Hz wouldn't increase your enjoyment of the music.

Another system might be flat up to 20kHz but then use nonlinear filters to make a hard response cut at 30kHz. Such a system might fatigue you, where a system that down 3dB at 16kHz, but rolls off smoothly up to 60kHz and higher might sound really smooth and be listenable for hours on end.

Why would you focus on volume, based on a reference that will likely not match your actual library of records? You might focus on such a goal because your hearing is already impaired and you want to avoid further impairment. That's a good goal and it'll extend your ability to enjoy music for a longer number of years. However, if the dynamics on a particular record or CD far exceed those on your reference, then you're hearing might still be at risk. Rather than using the reference, you'd be better off having a quick response SPL meter going all the time, that could flash red if you approached your danger threshold.

With all due respect, I think that you should focus on your own musical enjoyment. Measurements can never "validate" your system, since someone can always argue with what measurement is more important. OTOH, no one can say to you, "you couldn't enjoy that because the sound level wasn't realistic". You can answer back that "I enjoyed that thoroughly and played it at a level that was very pleasing for me at the time. Tomorrow I may play it louder or softer, but my goal will be to enjoy it, not match some perceived goal."

Just my two-cents...

Dave
....audio as a mood enhancer for mating. Now we're talkin'!

I agree in principal with the Hardesty camp. But it is just a starting place, ESPECIALLY when it comes to vinyl. You have to realize that in the golden age of LP's, nobody cared about Flat or Phase correctness. The recording signal probably went through 3 or 4 processors before landing on the Master tape, and not only that, but different tracks of the performance went through different processors at different settings. The mixing and mastering engineer used at a minimum - a peak limiter, compression, and an equalizer - in addition to whatever went on in the mixing board. If a voice was involved, they probably added a small amount of reverb to that track. And what's more, little attention was paid to "absolute phase" of each of these boxes. The end result that went onto the LP was actually far, far SUPERIOR to what a "Flat" recording of the studio performance would sound like. (In addition - and it's not a minor consideration - everyone's hearing is different. Your ears do not have a remotely flat frequency response.)

SO... if one can accept these facts:

One can also accept that a "flat" playback in your room is:
1. Not necessarily the best sounding - for, one, because your room is not and never will be, flat.
2. Flat what? - there is ZERO "flat" information on an lp to begin with. If you adjust the output of your system so that it sounds "better" it does not mean you are introducing coloration or distortion.

Should you NOT wear eyeglasses, in order to keep your vision "flat"? If you don't wear glasses is your vision more "honest"?

Now, I agree with Hardesty that "Flat, Time and Phase Correct" is a worthy goal and test of the ability of playback EQUIPMENT. But that does not mean that you want to use it "Flat". (And also, none of "Flat, Time and Phase Correct" is affected in the least by the volume control.)

My "audiophile goal" is simply to enjoy myself the most I can. If something sounds better to me, I enjoy myself more. This was the goal of the recording artist and mastering engineer in the first place. If an lp sounds better at one volume setting than on another, that IS the right setting. How do I decide if one lp is better than another IMO - I compare them both sounding their best.

If I find a piece of equipment that makes ALL my lp's sound better than before - that is a better piece of equipment. Simple.
HI Dcstep, Thanks for discussing this important subject and enjoying the thread. It is an important subject and I do believe there are some important answers also. If I can at least get people to think about it, it is a step in the right direction.

I believe that just being happy does not make an audiophile. We really do need some goals even personal goals for our systems and as I said I do have several, this being one of them which goes hand in hand with the others. Give me an other "goal" and maybe I can forget this one!

The last thing I am is a "numbers guy", really, I consider myself much more as "an artist". Not in a literal sense but more in my life pursuits. Aesthetics and philosophy are some of my life goals. Dont forget that I had realised this idea from just listening to my LPs, it was not a "numbers thing" to begin with. This is a way to tune your system and no you dont need a test LP to do this, as you are ultimatly tuning your system to its own maximum capabilites.

You said that if one listens to acoustic jazz then you may not need 20hz. I suggest that even if that is the case where have we gone wrong as an audiophile? Who makes the determination that its OK to miss a lower octave or two? I say find the lower octave at a correct level and you will have a goal and your system playback will be better for it.

Again one of my other "goals" is evaluating LPs, how does one do this when they are missing the last one, or I am sure, two octaves as many systems do. Can you actually say to me that a LP is quiet, when infact a LP has a high level rumble say and your system is not reproducing it. Or it is 20db down due to not being "flat" and now that you are listening at another reduced level because it is "acoustic jazz" this noise is now 40 db down, sure would be a quiet LP then, but is it?

Is a scratched LP quieter if it is a jazz LP played at a low level or if the same scratched LP is a rock LP and played at a higher level is it now a badly scratched LP. Can you grade a LP at different playback levels?

Changing playback levels does signifcantly change the sound of the room and you equipment out of its optimal range. Including I believe the Fletcher-Munson curve which does not change with the recording, but stays constant with the playback level, this I believe is very important idea/thought/possibility, which I believe to be true but am not positive of.

I always find it amusing when someone states how loud they listen to a certain recording, they dont take into account that if their system is bass shy from 40hz down for an example. that they are now indeed listening much louder to reach that level and it is all with "high freq". Someone listening like this may now be listening to their system at a 1000hz reference tone at 89db for example. Now thats loud. Rather than someone with a full range system which is capable of the same overall volume level but is listening to the standard 1000hz at a "reasonable/appropriate" level. While all the time missing those important low freq at a correct level, as an audiophile goal.

Also I believe that we are not reproducing a live event but in fact we are reproducing a recording of the live event, a large distinction.

Bob
Hi Opalchip, how about LOUD mood music for arguing and then mood music in a nice and soft level for the make up sex.

I think you are focusing, perhaps, too much on the "flat" part of it, yes it is a "goal", not withstanding the F-M curve and the BBC dip etc.. And the volume level DOES affect playback in the freq domain. So dont forget the "reference level", its is most important, if it is achievable with your system and to play it within its limitations and conversly to not be bamboozled by an overly loud system in the name of dynamics (turning it up does not increase dynamics) or a "live sound". What you can achieve, is a natural sounding recording showing off its limitations and it strong suits and most importantly to reveal the LPs for what they are.

Bob
Why doesn't enjoyment define an audiophile? let's explore that some. You could have a system that's absolutely flat from 20Hz to 20kHz at 88dB. My system, OTOH rolls off at 30Hz and starts rolling off at the top after 12kHz (and it has anomalies throughout its response range). However, I've gone to great pains to place my speakers in my room in such a way that intermodulation distortion between the speakers and room is almost eliminated, making for a very coherant sound. OTOH, the 20-20 system speakers are set in such a way that they're not driving together and lack coherance from the listening position.

Who is "more of" an audiophile, the one with a system that's more enjoyable to listen to, or the one with better numbers???

Here's another example. I don't "tube roll" but I've got a mix of tube and SS components in my amplification chain. Each piece was selected because I liked the way it sounded in my system. Also, I use an intergrated amp (actually a control amp) and everything is stowed away in a beautiful armoire that my wife loves as much as me. Am I less of an audiophile because I don't have a couple of 120lb monoblocks, sitting on special stands on the floor, powering my rig??

Are the guys and gals over at www.head-fi.org any less audiophiles than us because they chose to use headphones? Maybe they're more so, but then how would you apply the 20-20 criteria when all the headphones that sound good (AKG, Grado, Sennheiser, etc.) all have very serious frequency response excursions when measured.

Acoustat6, 20Hz frequency response is a great goal, my point is that you won't use (hear) it with acoustic jazz recorded in a studio. OTOH, live music in a cathedral will surely lose some impact if that bottom octave isn't there. Even with just a soprano singing a capella, the building itself will produce low frequency information that helps you to identify how big the room is and add to the recorded ambience.

Still, MUST I have that last 10Hz to be an "audiophile", I think not.

I think an "audiophile" is someone that enjoys reproduced music beyond the level of just considering playback devices utilitities or commodities. They can be trying to achieve the best possible sound in their iPod, or adding the last $10,000 interconnect to their mega-dollar system. Each has a purpose and interest beyond thinking of their music reproduction as a utility. They might actually be the same people, just at different stages of the journey.

BTW buddy, no disrespect was meant in suggesting that you might be a "numbers guy." I exercise both sides of my brain. As an accountant that regularly plays trumpet and guitar with others that are totally artistic I walk, to varying degrees, on both sides of that street.

Knowing that you're NOT a numbers guy gives me another clue. I find that non-numbers people sometimes think there's some comfort in the "absoluteness" of numbers. Old and humbled numbers people, OTOH, realize that there's little "certainty" in numbers. How does the saying go, "Statistics don't lie, but liers..." Thus, my waryness at latching onto numbers. (I'm a professional numbers guy BTW, when it comes to accounting a risk measurement numbers, I can do a backwards slam dunk over most other numbers guys).

Back to your "goal". With all due respect, I think that you need to rethink it. A goal without an objective is nothing. (Making a goal and objective, in and of itself, is dangerous). You need an objective related to why you're an audiophile. It couldn't possibly be to hear all your music at 88dB, me thinks. Some people are only into audio for music, while some love the glow of tubes (it IS really seductive, I KNOW) or some want to have a system entirely from Stereophiles A-list or some want the biggest, baddest looking system possible. ALL of those are legit reasons. After all, not everyone riding a Harley could take it onto a dirt track and slide it through the corners wheel-to-wheel with some other crazy at 100mph. It's the same in audiophilia and there's room for all of us.

Ciao amigo,

Dave
Hi dcstep, thanks for your thoughtful response even if it veered off topic to "what is an audiophile"?
You said
"Acoustat6, 20Hz frequency response is a great goal, my point is that you won't use (hear) it with acoustic jazz recorded in a studio. OTOH, live music in a cathedral will surely lose some impact if that bottom octave isn't there. Even with just a soprano singing a capella, the building itself will produce low frequency information that helps you to identify how big the room is and add to the recorded ambience."

I say it is not OK to be missing valuable information ie: one octave, or to have a ragged freq response and to not be concerned about this, regardless of the music genre. It is still missing whether you think the LP has it or not. If you dont have the last octave, just how do you know what is or is not there? If your system has a 12db peak at 80 hz it is there for every LP. This is the "sound of your system" in conjunction with your speakers voicing.

"Still, MUST I have that last 10Hz to be an "audiophile", I think not."

I say no, you can do as you please. It was, as all know, used to be a free country and I for one would like to keep it that way. All that I am saying is that this is a good goal, if you can get to 20 hz at the reference level.

"I think an "audiophile" is someone that enjoys reproduced music beyond the level of just considering playback devices utilitities or commodities. They can be trying to achieve the best possible sound in their iPod,"

Oh good, we just officially made all BOSE Wave Radio listeners certified audiophiles!

"BTW buddy, no disrespect was meant in suggesting that you might be a "numbers guy." I exercise both sides of my brain."

No offense taken, I do wish I was "better" at numbers, but math has never been my strong point. Maybe its time for me to put to memory once and for all the 12x12 multiplication table:). 7x7 is, 9x9 is.....

"Back to your "goal". With all due respect, I think that you need to rethink it. A goal without an objective is nothing. (Making a goal and objective, in and of itself, is dangerous). You need an objective related to why you're an audiophile. It couldn't possibly be to hear all your music at 88dB, me thinks. Some people are only into audio for music, while some love the glow of tubes (it IS really seductive, I KNOW) or some want to have a system entirely from Stereophiles A-list or some want the biggest, baddest looking system possible. ALL of those are legit reasons."

I have allready stated my goals, as an audiophile. One is to enjoy music, which I do. Two is to be able to evaluate LPs for their sonic qualities, which I can. There are others but they do not relate to this discussion at the moment.

Setting up a system as stated, you do not wind up with all music being played back at the same SPL level. This is absolutly what we are trying to avoid! All LPs have different dynamics from LP to LP and within the LP itself, and yes totally different "overall gain" if you will, this is what you want to hear. This is what makes LPs so exciting. You are searching for ways to enhance your systems ability to play the lowest recorded level LPs and the loudest recorded LPs at the same volume setting. This is my audiophile goal. This ensures that your system is operating within its limits for ever LPs potential for upward as well as downward dynamics and to play at a natural volume for LPs that are recorded well.

Here are some interesting reading for those interested.

http://www.regonaudio.com/Records%20and%20Reality.html

http://replaygain.hydrogenaudio.org/calibration.html

What did Peter Walker mean when he said?
"There is only one correct volume level for any particular piece of music" Peter Walker, Quad Electronics.

Bob
If "there is only one correct volume level for any particular piece of music" is true (I agree that there is a range, but would disagree that there's one exact level, but let's forget that for now), then how can referencing your playback system to one specific reference achieve Walker's goal? As you acknowledge, output levels from record to record vary widely. If we're going to adjust the level for a particular piece of recorded music to its "correct" level, then we need the freedom to vary from the reference.

That lead me to think that I must be misunderstanding your stated goal. I'm thinking, perhaps incorrectly, that your goal is 20Hz-20kHz at a reference SPL. Am I misunderstanding that?

I enjoyed the regonaudio piece, but conclude that the recording perspective is entirely arbitrary and cannot be set to formula. We all prefer different seats in the same house, so how can the engineer presume to know what that is. I think that he or she can only chose something that's pleasing to them. I happen to prefer the sound from the trumpet chairs, but no one could make a living selling recordings that only trumpeters would buy. When I read reviews of classical music, I love it when the reviewer tells me which seats it sounds like it's coming from.

Dave
Hi Dave, sorry to confuse the issue but I was going through some literature and saw that. I always want to be open minded believe it or not. I am not sure if that is Walkers exact quote, I believe I have seen it quoted in slightly different wording.
Speak the word friend and ye shall enter.
I have to go to work now and will answer your question later.
Bob
Johnnyb53 stated:

"1. Flat frequency response is overrated in the sense that it is the distortion that we listen through the most easily. Think about a live concert. Between concert room interactions to the sound guy doing EQ boosts and dips, live music is never flat, yet it is the gold standard for fidelity because it is real. We are more used to listening past frequency nonlinearities than any other type of distortion."

I hope I'm not to late and the overall thread thought hasn't passed, but here my take on this point, FWIW. It's not directed at or intended to pick on anyone, just a thought!

IMHO, this is where "reference point" becomes more distorted and open to interpretation. I can speak best for myself, but I would assume the purpose behind the chase for system fidelity, is to achieve/preserve the integrity of content. Meaning, if I'm listen to a recording of Bach and the engineers intend for the recording to sound a certain way (be it hard, balanced, warm, etc), the mode of playback SHOULD be design and setup to play the recording back as intended. In order to achieve this goal, I am unaware of any other way it can be achieved, outside of the end user portion being as close to neutral as possible; no characteristics to infer signature.

Keeping this in proper perspective, it's very difficult, at best, to build a system only to reach and maintain this absolute. When coupled with many other factors (room treatment, specific component selection, etc.), this absolute is within the scope of possibility. However, this should not deter from the attempt to reach this goal. Its a relevant goal; and the key to fidelity.

Now, throwing live recordings into the mix. No live sound is not flat. Yes, the engineers do tweak the frequencies and such to achieve a certain sound. But, you must keep in mind, this is the sound and feel the artist/production team intend for the material to be presented to the audience. For example, if the bass playback is muddy and the material calls for full bass, but not muddy, the engineers are trained and informed enough to know: 1. the bass is not supposed to be muddy, and 2. the bass needs to be corrected at a certain frequency/ies in order for the bass to sound full, not muddy. When you play the recording of the concert back, an audiophile grade system should play the bass back to sound full. Its the way the recording is supposed to sound, full bodied bass. It's double work to tweak the tweak to fit your taste unless it's done specifically to fit your taste. Otherwise, you're correcting the correction, which more than likely requires an EQ, which is a sore subject to most audiophiles. Some thing about the integrity of the playback, who knows!

Taste is one thing; that's the purpose of an EQ, give it more this or less that. Great! Fidelity and true reference is another. Taste no longer becomes a factor. Interpretation is obsolete; recording preservation is saved.

+/- 0db or bust!!! (It's a joke)

Bob has his eye on the prize and will get it far faster that most audiophiles who have been at it 6x longer. Keep at it, Bob, and good luck!!
Acoustat6 said:
".... As a now confirmed audiophile, now that I have a realistic and perhaps more importantly a measurable goal, I could start figuring out which albums sound good and which do not. It was easy, every LP is played back at the same gain level (volume control setting if you will) and guess what you hear? Every Lp for what it actually sounds like."

I've read and re-read this. I think that this concludes that all records will be played with the same gain (volume setting) and he'll decide which "sound good" using that arbitrary setting.

In my view, this is totally out in left field.

Further he quoted "There is only one correct volume level for any particular piece of music". To me, that's saying the opposite thing. I can agree with this, except that I would say "volume range" not "volume level" to get away from an implication of unchanging accuracy that might not vary for person to person.

Why would someone arbitrarily test the goodness of their records by limiting the playback to one level? We all know that they're all recorded at different levels and some are way more dynamic than others. I believe that there's a volume range where each recording will sound its best. My Conrad Johnson CA200 has a stepped attenuator with 99 .7dB increments. The typical range for seriously listening to music is 50 to 80. That's quite a wide range. If I played all my recordings a 55, I'm certain that I wouldn't enjoy the ones that I normally play at 75 as much, yet today I might think that they are equally enjoyable.

So, I'm either not understanding Acoustat6 or I think his playback level goal and 20Hz-20kHz goals are misguided.

Dave
Hello, Cdwallace is onto it, as I see it. True fidelty of the recording, but dont forget that more importantly is that this is a great way to tune your system.

Think of it this way, you select a volume setting and it would be low initially and listen to the entire listening session like this. Then the idea is to tweak every piece of equipment )one piece at a time!)to get the "best" out of it that you can. Set volume level LISTEN, adjust bass, move speakers LISTEN, move chair, adjust bass, adjust VTA, adj VTF, tweak the volume again LISTEN adjust VTF, fine tune crossover, ETC ETC... you may change anything you want but each time continue to listen to every LP at the same settings. This cannot be achieved overnight. You might find that you like the listening level but changing the crossover point makes the bass better and louder or lower then change volume level again if necessary, or moving your speakers improves the imaging or tweaking the VTF....etc.

Unfortunatly this does not work for those interested in "mood music for mating". You may have a default (lower or higher) level in the beginning (or any time but realise that this is not the optimum level), and never make any changes in your system at these different levels. Only make changes when you are doing some serious lisetening.

Dcstep, yeah, I'm out there and I'm loveing it!:)

I am sorry to have confused you with the quote from Peter Walker of Quad fame, and HE said "There is only one correct volume level for any particular piece of music". I did not say this and sorry to throw this into the mix and confuse things. I like to keep things rational you know!
Though I have seen the quote as "there is only one volume level for every recording" NOW that reads completely different and that can be read two ways.


Bob
Walker very clearly meant that for every individual recording there is one optimal playback level. It a factor of the instruments used, the distance from the instruments to the microphone(s), and the acoustic sizes of the recording venue and playback room. That means that for any individual recording the optimal playback volume can vary somewhat from room to room.
My goal when I listen to music is to be moved by the music. Whether the system goes from 20-20000 hz. has nothing to do with it..as long as the system can reproduce the music in a musical way. A big problem with many systems is that not the big dynamics necessarily, but the micro dynamics are missing. To understand what the music is doing, the seperate notes ebb and flow. Listen to the Joshua Bell or Jasha Heifiz versions of the Beethoven violin concerto. They are both excellent, both recorded well, and yet they are almost 2 different pieces in enterpretation. Every single note is at a different loudness level as the one after or the one before. This variation brings understanding to the piece. Just as in a stage play the slight emphasis on this or that word can change the whole meaning of the sentence, so it is with music. This is most obvious to me in classical music, but works for rock, pop, etc. One of the big faults of my system is that at low listening levels, you (or maybe just I) don't hear this ebb and flow. If I bring up the level, there is a place that those dynamics are suddenly exposed. Sure there are a myriad of aspects to music, but just touching on this one, I always find the most rewarding turn of the volume control for each piece.
Hello, Cdwallace is onto it, as I see it. True fidelity of the recording, but don't forget that more importantly is that this is a great way to tune your system.

Think of it this way, you select a volume setting and it would be low initially and listen to the entire listening session like this. Then the idea is to tweak every piece of equipment )one piece at a time!)to get the "best" out of it that you can. Set volume level LISTEN, adjust bass, move speakers LISTEN, move chair, adjust bass, adjust VTA, adjust VTF, tweak the volume again LISTEN adjust VTF, fine tune crossover, ETC ETC... you may change anything you want but each time continue to listen to every LP at the same settings. This cannot be achieved overnight. You might find that you like the listening level but changing the crossover point makes the bass better and louder or quieter, then change volume level again if necessary, or moving your speakers improves the imaging and bass or tweaking the VTF....etc. keep working these refinements to improve your systems playback at that level.

Unfortunately this does not work for those interested in "mood music for mating". You may have a default (lower or higher) level in the beginning (or any time but realize that this is not the optimum level), and never make any changes in your system at these different levels. Only make changes when you are doing some serious listening.

Dcstep, yeah, I'm out there and I'm loving it!:)

I am sorry to have confused you with the quote from Peter Walker of Quad fame, and HE said "There is only one correct volume level for any particular piece of music". I did not say this and sorry to throw this into the mix and confuse things. I like to keep things rational you know!
Though I have seen the quote as "there is only one volume level for every recording" NOW that reads completely different, and that can be read two ways.

Dave, said that "we all know of the LPs different recording levels and dynamic levels."
That is what I am trying to celebrate and encourage, these differences that make LPs so different (from each other) and exciting. I do believe that all LPs can/should be played back at the same level, if you like the sound of the LP is another question entirely or if your system is capable of the dynamics.
Bob
Acoustat6 said:
"I do believe that all LPs can/should be played back at the same level, if you like the sound of the LP is another question entirely or if your system is capable of the dynamics."

I guess that I should have asked this earlier (I've re-read and can't find my answer), but why? Other than to create a goal, which seems purely arbitrary to me, why do you "believe that all LPs can/should be played back at the same level"? If you gave a reason, I missed it at least a few times.

Your fellow audio buddy,

Dave

BTW, thanks for the REG link. He has lots of interesting views. I can't agree with everything he writes, but he does a great job of laying out his position.
Bob,

I think you are focusing and obesessing about aspects of reproduction that are not going to further fidelity.

In the video world we have different levels of 1hkz tone for different tape formats, be they analog or digital. No one would expect to play them all back at the same level - even different machines will record at different levels, and therefore they must be compensated for.

I realize this issue of playing back all LP's at a common level is important to you, but please realize that you are perhaps the only one in the world who this is important to. If in fact you were looking to design a system that had no volume control to denigrate the sound, then yes, I could see this discussion bearing fruit. But that does not seem to be the case.

Our hobby is an obssesive one for sure, but when other people who share your zeal for the best reproduction possible are telling you that your focus is misguided, you may have to examen in your life what is going on, perhaps under the guidance of a professional. You seem like a very nice guy, well educated, insightful, etc. It's really worth investing in yourself to be the best person you can be. You might even find you're enjoying listening to music more without worrying about the levels each LP/recording was cut at.

Have a great holiday.
Hi Dave, Thanks for having continued interest in this discussion. Actually there are many reasons for this and not limited to the few listed now.

A set level where all LPs have the ability to reveal their sonic character.

A set level for system noise.

A set level for LP/TT noise.

A set level that is consistent with human hearing at a "reasonable" level. This is NOT an arbitrary number/level.

To obtain a consistent and natural frequency level.

To set your system up within it limitations of system performance.

To obtain synergy between components.

To know what is needed to improve your system so all LPs can sound as good as they can sound, while poorly recorded LPs are revealed for what they are.

To be able to have some set goals that are obtainable and realistic.

There are other reasons that go along for the ride.

You only need so much amplification and you will know how much you need.

We don't look like a fools jumping up and down to impress our friends with our intimate knowledge of the volume control. Saying things like, this drum solo sound great LOUD, and now this part sounds great like this...
Do you wonder, if you have to do this, that your system is compressing dynamics?

It will force some people to actually listen to the music, recordings and their system. This statement is sure to get a few peoples undies in a bunch, I am ready.

Perhaps its a bit of a Zen thing at first. Just sitting there and listening to music. Maybe for the first time you will listen to the music, recording, pressing and condition of your LP playback.
Perhaps it will draw you in, to listen to downward dynamics and then shock you with your systems upward dynamics. Setting up your sytem this way encourages this. And unfortunatly show you that most LPs are compressed, noisy and have bad sonics. Fortunatly many LPs are quite listenable, even revealing the shortcomings, and great LPs are revealed.

So we all know, when stating things like I listen loud/soft, the dealer, audio show, friend etc.. cranked it up, we know what is meant by that.

Bob
Bob, you gave it a mighty try, but I'll need to agree to disagree. I seem not to have budged you one bit and I still think your goal will not yield fruit.

Thanks for the fun discussion and happy holidays.

Dave
I would like to contribute my humble thoughts. I am not looking to upset anyone or cause confrontation, just expressing my thoughts.
We live in a world that deprived us of true individuality, clear insight into life, how to reason and most of all the truth. Our education system which is responsible for this (mainstream commonfolk education system) is designed to get us to conform, obey the law and allow the rich to toy with society at large. In general the system does not reinforce enough that everything should be questioned. Most everything that is said or beleived by individuals is just repeated and never evaluated. Everything the media pushes on us is to distract us from real issues. Proof is what "they" get away with.
I don't want to rant but this is the heart of the matter. We have been lied to from day one to such a large extent that the truth is nearly impossible to find. Sure it works for the most part, the country is stable, but at what expense. What percentage of the population understands and enjoys fine cuisine, good music and cultural destinations ? Food is not explicitely to arouse our taste senses only but to nourish us as well. This contributes to robust health and balanced cognitive function. We need to nourish ourselves in order to function optimally, but without knowing this we can not reverse this destructive cycle.
We should be spoiling ourselves! Fine food, vacations to cultural destinations, concert subscriptions etc. should be a part of everyones life!! But because the rich run our country the middleclass cannot afford to live a fullfilling life because it is paying more than it should in taxes.
Audiophiles represent a segment of society with higher intellect. We appreciate music, an artform that moves the soul. We connect with musicians and composers. Music makes us happy. We learned to think for ourselves and don't blindly follow mags reviews.
I would tend to believe most audiophiles are moved by food as well.
We should be enjoying life and loving what we do.
Ask yourself- Am I enjoying my listening sessions?
We all have different tastes and perceptions. Find what works for you and take it to a higher level by exploring different components or rituals.
And by the way my hearing is influenced by my diet and supplementation, it may make a difference for you as well.
I hope what I said helped. If it angered anyone just ignore what I said most of my shallow friends do and I prefer it that way.
In the end I would like to see everyone have fun and find meaning in life.
Nice, Padrillo
Emailists said, "I realize this issue of playing back all LP's at a common level is important to you, but please realize that you are perhaps the only one in the world who this is important to."

Actually, it is important to everyone, its just that you don't realize it. I think, that perhaps, it is you who doesn' get it, the reasons why poorly recorded/mastered/pressed LPs sound bad. It is because they do! We all know that poorly recorded/pressed LPs can never sound good, so why keep denying it? And why keep altering you system to accomomdate them? Isn't this why we search for good/great sounding LPs? Can I/you put on an poorly recorded/pressed/mastered LP and and manipulate it enough to sound "good"? Including by manipulating the sound through the "biggest" equalizer we have, the volume control. You can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

Do you think, that a crappy recording, if played on a less resolving system improves the recording or that perhaps we can manipulate it enough that it "becomes musical".

You, yourself, answered these questions here in one of your own posts.
In your recent post "Listening to low quality" you said;

"On my main system....The recording totally falls apart. Hard to listen to. Not overly bright- but just thin, echo'ey, distorted, and not too enjoyable.

Back in my computer system all is well and I can really enjoy the music again.

I'm Just trying to think through what if any implications this has for my main system. It may make me think about those less than stellar real recordings in a new way.

After all ,it is musical enjoyment and fidelity to the original recording we're after, but can too much fidelity subtract from the musical enjoyment?

Just thinking out loud. Could something like a very tubey, bloomey, bufferstage that actually lowers resolution by a large amount and blurs musical details be a potential bandaid?"

Emailists

10-20-07

"Our hobby is an obssesive one for sure, but when other people who share your zeal for the best reproduction possible are telling you that your focus is misguided, you may have to examen in your life what is going on, perhaps under the guidance of a professional...."

Apparently everyone here on the Gon needs profesional help, from the single driver speaker aficionodos to the electrosattic speaker admirer to the SS amp lover and their tube lover counterparts and dont forget CD vs LPs, are we are all misguided if we think differently from each other?

How about Acoustic Resonators surely I didn't recommend "professional help" when you said,

"I put the Resonator on its stand (which was still stuck to the wall) behind me, and imediatley it sounded more dimensional, so I am once again a believer."

"Dear doctor I think its you instead"

"You might even find you're enjoying listening to music more without worrying about the levels each LP/recording was cut at."

I am enjoying it perfectly well, and do not have to worry about the different playback levels, that is the wonder of the way my system is set up.

Bob
Well Acoustat6, I think that I see your problem. You've got a seriously flawed system. If listening through your computer is superior, then you've got really big problems. Your speaker placement probably has you speakers behaving badly and literally fighting with each other. Get a Sumiko speaker set and you'll have totally different view of audiophile life. Seriously, if you're computer sounds better, then there's something really badly wrong with you system.

Dave
Hi Dave, The quotes were from "Emalists" posts, with my responses after. All words that are in quotes are from "Emailist" except for the "Dear doctor I think its you instead" Sorry it is not easier to read, Try reading it again and then tell me who has the problem, me or "Emailist" who is trying to give me some advice.
Bob
Hi Bob,

The post in which you quoted me was about low quality "bootleg recordings" made on microphones snuck into concerts.

It had nothing to do with LP playback at all. The gist was that on my high end system, some bootlegs didn't sound very good, yet on my lower quality computer system, the same bootlegs sounded more listenable. The entire thread was asking about if other people listened to very low quality recordings on high end systems.

This has nothing to do with your original question about establishing a reference level of LP playback. I offered you my proffessional input about reference playback levels from my field, in the hopes of getting you to realize that perhaps your efforts towards higher fidelity may best best be directed elsewhere.

Yet rather than address any of the annecdotes I or anyone else presented, you chose to read through a bunch of my past posts looking for anything resembling a contradiction with which to discredit me. I see the pattern here and it's obvious the help you need is not to be found on any audio forum.
Emailists, I'd have to comment that it is pretty common for people to use quotes out of context. The likelihood of this happening increases when you have someone like Bob who fervently believes he has stumbled onto an insight that few others, if any, have been lucky enough to see.

However, I'm glad you had a chance to correct the record (pun intended) regarding his misapplication of your words.

Bob's view that the volume control on a stereo system has one setting that is sacred above all others is rather unique. I have to say it certainly seems to offer him some type of satisfaction that increases his appreciation of his audiophile hobby.

That said, I still prefer adjusting the volume control so the level in my room is appropriate for the music I'm playing. That adds to my enjoyment and appreciation of the music.

I cannot fault the recording engineer and record producer for not wasting signal-to-noise ratio when they are making a recording of short duration, softly played music. Nor can I fault the engineer who reduces those levels to capture the sound of kettle drums in a long symphony. In both cases my opinion (which seems to be the more widely accepted one) is that the engineer is doing a fine job of making the most within the limitations of the media. The fact that I need to twiddle with my volume control a bit to take advantage of his efforts doesn't bother me.
Hi Emailists, I have not come here to bicker with you, but since you have not discussed anything with me, prior to your previous post, which was your first post to me. Where I correctly quote you..

"Our hobby is an obssesive one for sure, but when other people who share your zeal for the best reproduction possible are telling you that your focus is misguided, you may have to examen in your life what is going on, perhaps under the guidance of a professional."

And in your second post to me you say, and I quote,

"it's obvious the help you need is not to be found on any audio forum."

I had no idea who were or your thoughs on anything audio (except that you are a professional!) so I did read some of your posts.

If you would like to tell me why you think I am wrong, we can discuss it. Don't go right off the bat telling me I am wrong, and no reason why, except for your "professional opinion" (tin eared gardener?), AND that you think I need "professional help" or "advice not available in this forum."
If anyone is interested in discussing my thoughts on a particular subject, thoughtfully and with interest, it is not you job to discredit me and and say that I am wrong with nothing to back it up except your "professional opinion" (what was that again?) and your (which, by the way you did not give in your origional post) or prior posters "anecdotes".

Is this the way we are discussing things?

Bob
Bob, I'd remind you that it is easy to correctly quote a single sentence someone wrote but still have it be out of the original context in an effort to have it support an unrelated premise.

That appears to be what happened in this case. I'd further comment that it is also not uncommon for the person quoted out of context to be somewhat sensitive when they feel their words have been used to support a position with which they do not agree.

You've got a very unusual take on the subject of volume controls. That's fine but no need to be surprised that the world isn't following your lead. The only important thing is that it makes sense to you.
"Apparently everyone here on the Gon needs professional help, from the single driver speaker aficionados to the electrostatic speaker admirer to the SS amp lover and their tube lover counterparts and don't forget CD vs LP's, are we are all misguided if we think differently from each other? "

Yes...emphatically yes! Everyone's opinion is that if its not relevant in their minds, its misguided energy requiring professional help.

Welcome to the largest shortcoming on an audiophile...opinion. Reference is non-existent. This issue is the epitome of misguided energy; what should matter is now left to opinion and is so convoluted it no longer matters.

Acoustat6...let it go! You have an achievable goal that will enhance both your system, enjoyment and knowledge. It doesn't matter to others. Save yourself the trouble. Become a hermit like the rest of us and keep your knowledge to yourself. If someone really cares they'll reach out to those who have the true experience and not an opinion. Until then, keep at it and enjoy the trip.

Craig
Hi Craig, I am with ya brother, Amen.


Goodbye,

Bob
Maybe this will clear things up a bit. Call it a compilation of both angles.

Bob is searching for a reference level for LP's. However, this is no one reference level for all LP's. Largely because all LP's were not recorded to the same standards and reference, one to another. Bob is in search of why can't all LP's be played back at the same reference volume level. To better answer his question, they could if they were all recorded to the same references in other areas across the board. Since they are not, it would be a bit difficult to achieve such a task. Not to say some LP's can't be grouped or catagorized using a reference level range, but to have a finite level is a very daunting task.

I believe this was the end result this conversation was intended to bring about. However, it would have happened if all parties had a better amount of working knowledge concerning reference, not to mention how it applies to volume level. Since it is not the common thought or concensus of audiophiles, they don't understand it. This not slam, just an observation. Fidelity inhanced would be a better description. Almost to the point where fidelity becomes a critical to achieving it. This where being an audiophile takes on a scientific role; the two worlds collide.

For once its good to see the grey area shrink a bit. Remove the subjective and find the foundation of why!

Bob...you're becoming more of an audiophile than you think. Keep at it!

Craig
I think Bob's setting of a referance level does achieve a few things. I think what he has done is find the volume level where his system sounds the best. 83db is it for his system. Recording levels are set thats why there are engineers and meters on equipmnent. That is not what he is looking for. What Bob did do is set his system, room and mind up to fully take advatage of what is recorded on the records. He is not interested in jacking up the bass if its not there, he takes for what it is -a record with no bass. or a album that was recorded to low or to high. With a lot of background noise, rumble, or hiss. He has no need to play with speaker placement or wonder why now becuase I lowered the volume the sound change so let me get up and move thing around. I have tryed his approach and it works. You will have a system and room tuned to one volume that will come much closer to being enjoyed then if you don't. Keep in mind the is for critical listening. not when you a getting f*&^$d. Also thing of when you go to a audio store and listen to a speaker, amp, etc.. do you let the salesman screw with the volume control when listening. If you do you have a problem and probably like the speakers that it louder - unless they are Bose.
Hi JPV, Thanks for your post, you are close to what I describe. Don't forget that the 83db is the volume that my system is set at, is a reference tone of 83db at 1000hz from a test LP. This is an important distinction. You would use your test LP (NOT playing back an unknown quantity such as a favorite LP) with a reference tone of 1000hz and find that 83db to be the goal, of course then all other freq should be close. This way LPs cut low will play low and LPs cut high will play loudly, In the mean time the system noise levels and also the LPs noise levels never change, except that a noisy LP will be noisy and a quiet LP will sound quiet.

A dynamic Lp will sound dynamic when directly compared to a LP lacking dynamics. A LP that is cut incorrectly, say a solo violin recorded/pressed too high, will not sound right and that turning it down will not help this LP to sound good. Think about that for a moment, you decrease your volume level and that will reduce your systems ability to give good dynamic swings and a good in room frequency response.

You will find that LPs cut and recorded correctly will sound best with minimal noise. LPs that are not recorded/cut correctly do not sound good no matter if the volume is manipulated up or down, as they don't sound "good" no matter what you do with the volume control. Just face it, it is not a good sounding LP, and therefore why adjust your system to it?

I dont believe many systems are capable of playing 83db all frequencies (or if you dont want to listen that loud) in that case go to a lower set level, say 80db or 77db and set your system to this level. Whatever you do, do not make changes to your system when playing back at different volume control setttings. And definitely don't adjust bass levels to make up for volume control changes or lack of bass in LPs.

Bob
Dear Bob: +++++ " You buy phono cartridges, pre-amps amps etc. that are flat 20-20k hz. So my audiophile goal is to get 20-20k hz flat ." +++++

Looking to your nice single item audio system IMHO it is almost impossible to obtain ( per se ) your desired goal, many factors in your audio system preclude it: your phono stage has an un-desired non-flat inverse RIAA eq. that it is greater than 0.1db from 20-20kHz, your phono cartridge has a deviation on the same frequency over 1.0db, you have severe deviations on your speaker response due to a high output impedance in the amplifiers, room interaction, etc, etc.
Of course that your goal is a desired one but alone could means nothing, that goal have to come along with very low distortions ( any kind ), noise, colorations, right tonal/natural balance, high resolution, etc, etc.

Now and speaking on your " same SPL " for every LP: I normally heard my system at the same SPL, SPL where my system is right on target where I can hear it for hours with out any fatigue " ear/brain " sign where I always enjoy what I'm hearing it does not matters what I'm hearing where my " foots " are always dancing where my brain and feelings are full of emotions.
Yes, there is one SPL for each audio system where everything is almost right but not necessary that fact means that every single LP should shine: NO!, there are several LPs that have its own and singular SPL ( different from what I hear normally ) where they are on target.

There are many examples about but one that comes to my memory is the Patricia Barber Cafe Blue 33rpm and 45rpm versions: many people say that the 45rpm version is not as good his 33rpm counterpart and that's is true if you want to hear both at the same volume but if you increment by 2-3db the SPL on the 45rpm everything comes on target.
So in the same way that every single audio system has its singular right SPL where it shine in the same way the LPs have its own SPL where it shine each one.

This means that if everyone of us always want to achieve the best ( about SPL ) on each one LP then we have to adjust the volume for each one LP where we can obtain the best natural tonal balance.

Now, what to do?, easy hear at the SPL where you are satisfied!!!!

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Bob, I have marked every one of my LPs with the volume setting that is necessary to achieve 90 db on peaks. Thus, I use that volume setting for that LP before I sit to listen.
Some recordings, naturally, sound better than others, usually due to the varying degree of compression used, but at least I am comparing at a standard playback level at my listening spot. When I change rooms or speakers, I chnge the gain on the power amplifier to obtain the same peaks at my listening position for the same volume settings that I have used on the pre-amp.
Works for me!

Salut, Bob p.