Does "Fast" = "Detailed"?

I've noticed a few people discussing "fast" as an adjective for systems and components. A couple friends of mine use fast as an adjective they look for in amps and speakers (and other components including wire). I've noticed in my limited experience that those who like fast systems also tend to own/favor highly detailed systems. Recently, I looked at a member's system, which includes speakers built with ribbon tweeters used in conjunction with NuForce amps. He mentions liking a fast sounding system. Having heard both ribbon speakers and NuForce amps, I have an idea that this system is quite detailed.

Does "fast" equate to "detailed"?
I don't think so-fast should be transient response, detail should be the resolution or amount of information heard of the recording. Of course, I could see how it could be difficult to have one without the other-a lack of transient response would indicate that the system can't keep up with the information, so to speak, therefore they should co-exist somewhat. Thanks for reading my rambling...

I don't know if fast equals detailed, but I definitely think that fast reveals detail.

For example, take a speaker cone that is not well damped, whether it is due to the cone design itself, or whether it is due to lack of control of the cone by the amp. The inertia of the cone results in the cone being slow to stop or change its movement with signal changes. The undamped movement of the cone will then mask or muddy other musical detail. If the cone is "fast" in its start and stop movement, the detail would be revealed. So fast in this case isn't detail; rather, fast reveals detail.

I have a related story. One time I was playing with a pair of small monitors and a sub. I set the crossover for the sub at too high a frequency, with too much overlap with the monitors' mid/woofer cone. In addition to too much bass, the perception I had was that the monitors were "slower". "Slow" was the word that immediately came to my mind, without any regard or conscious thought to proper audiophile terminology. When I reduced the crossover frequency, the monitors then became "faster" as I perceived it. My rationalization was that the bass from the sub was masking detail produced by the monitor. The words "fast" and "slow" were the words that best described my perception of the sound.
I think you can have quick or fast but not really have great detail....quik bass would have nothing to do with detail, just for example.
I don't know about audio gear (like everyone on these forums isn't aware of that one by now) but I once had a girl friend that was "detailed" , if you know what I mean.

I used to equate the two terms but these days not necessarily so. I think there's a lot of crossover factors.

When generalizing about cables I think these terms might hit closer to the mark, especially when comparing silver and copper interconnects from the same manufacturer. In this instance, a "house sound" usually prevails and the only difference is that the silver cable sounds more detailed AND faster.

However, a complete system including all components, speakers and cables no matter how detailed in treble and midrange, can get bogged down by muddy bass and therefore sound slow.

Also, I believe a system with good PRaT will sound fast. But a system can have really good PRaT [pace, rhythm and timing] and still lack some detail.

A system that has a lean balance can sound fast and detailed because it has no bloat in the lower midrange or upper/mid bass to make it sound like it's running through a swamp.

But a system that is overly articulate can also sound slow becasue the pace and rhythm become hampered by the extra detail, thus making the system lean and detailed, but not as fast as it could be.

Does this make any sense or does it just add to the confusion?

Viridian, was her name Sarah?
Does this make any sense or does it just add to the confusion?

Gunbei (System | Threads | Answers)
I'm still trying to get a handle on Viridian's description of his detailed girlfriend.
I'm dating a sexy girl right now that has a greatly extended top-end, a slightly bloated lower midrange, nice mid bass, AND has got all that bing-bang-boom detail I love.
"Does "fast" equate to "detailed"?

I had always thought of it in broader terms of sonic resolution plus timing, i.e. accuracy of signal transduction in real time. Quick or fast speakers would be expected to have excellent detail, but REAL detail, not the grainy, harsh etched high end that results from deploying a sizzing tweeter. A quick system would also have low, tight bass, and excellent soundstaging/imaging characteristics, as well as accurate tonality and timbre. In short, a fast system would be highly resolving, so much so that it transcended harshness and approached the reality of the original event, within nothing more and nothing less than near perfection, with no need to "overcompensate" for its annoying weaknesses with sonic gimmicks.
Anyone have a warm sounding system that they consider fast? How about warm and detailed? My hunch is that one can have warm and detailed, but not warm and fast, due to top end roll-off and slight midrange bloat that, for me, translates to a warm sounding system.
...uh hum. Since my system is entitled "Speedd Freak" let me weigh in on this. IMO detail comes from getting the leading edge right.transient reponse. if the system is slow it tends to blurr the leading edge and exhibit ringing in the back edge. This blurrs deatil. I dont think they are equal but they do go hand in hand.
Gregadd, my observations tend to corroborate your comments.
fast = -LOG (square root of detail/ x-1)

If Bob has an amp playing Chicago at 100 Vus and Timmy's amp plays Boston at 5 VuS but has been warming up for an hour ....

I Like MdHoover's description. He took the words right out of my head. As close to reality to me is plenty fast and detailed. Close to real would also encompass warm and detailed as well. Those Mac amps can be pretty warm and detailed, Grant.
Every "fast" system that I have heard (as described by others) has been detailed, clear and without bloom. None have been what I'd consider warm and inviting. One or two have been cold, clinical and I could not listen for more than about an hour before getting a headache. Maybe I haven't yet heard the right "fast" system.

BTW, my VAC, Von Schweikert VR4 Gen III, APL Denon 3910 system is one I consider fast, although it has some bloat in the bass, so it is not as fast as others I have heard. It certainly makes the music sound real, though. Interestingly, the tube amp produces more realistic bass than any SS amp I have owned because all the solid state amps tend to overload the room with bass so the tonal balance can seem out of whack.
The term "tight bass" is often used to describe a restriction in the drivers harmonics that increases sensitivity and detail.
I also think mdhoover is onto something... I've definitely heard some warm + fast systems; in fact I think my own system is warm and fast. Triodes (push-pull or single-ended) in general can sound this way, with great transient speed, but without the dryness of a "detailed" solid state amp. The trick for speed, I think, is high slew rate and good time-domain response for non-periodic signals... to capture that leading-edge. Bold (possibly false) claim: I think some "detailed"-sounding amps are really just injecting correlated noise from the power supply (from regulators, electrolytic caps, etc.), which give added illusion of texture and microdynamics (that dry clean sound). My amps sound less "detailed" but much faster since installing polypropylene caps to replace some electrolytic caps in the initial gain stages... I now suspect what I thought was real detail was nothing more than power supply noise, and good riddance to that!
Tvad makes some very good points about the potential for a fast system to become overly cold, clinical, and/or otherwise fatiguing.

Injecting fast into a system that is seriously lacking in one or more other categories can easily lead to an unbalanced or fatiguing presentation.

Therefore, careful attention (as always) must be placed on the synergy of the entire system to strike the least uncompromising balance for hours of enjoyment.

In other words, if you have a 'fast' system, then you'd better make sure that your mid-range is full and blooming and your bass is deep, tight, and well-defined, you are using proper line conditioning, and on it goes....

Here's a thread about fast amps that may be of interest including my post where I quote Peter Moncrief in his reviewing the top 25 solid state and top 25 tube amps back in 1998.

Moncrief describes his encounter with the McCormack DNA-2 LAE (Limited Anniversary Edition) amp and went on and on about its tremendous speed and labeled it the best solid state amp.

I owned the DNA-2 LAE amp but the DNA-2 Rev A amp was, among other things, faster. The Nuforce Ref 9 amps are, among other things, faster still. And the new Nuforce Ref 9 SE Special Edition amps are, among other things, significantly faster than the Ref 9s. The dynamics and level of detail is amazing with the SEs.

The SEs are by far the fastest amp I've yet encountered and by a pretty good margin. 6moons just released a review on the Nuforce SEs. It may interest you to see what they have to say about the level of detail, nuances, and dynamics of this amp. In fact, I'm starting to think that all of these other attributes has almost everything to do with speed.

BTW, I ceased being just an enthusiast and became a dealer as a direct result of my first encounter with the Nuforce amps.
"Every "fast" system that I have heard (as described by others) has been detailed, clear and without bloom. None have been what I'd consider warm and inviting. One or two have been cold, clinical and I could not listen for more than about an hour before getting a headache. Maybe I haven't yet heard the right "fast" system."

I regard my system as fast and detailed. I have no interest in a system that sounds as you describe. A good ribbon or electrotstatic system combined with tubes is fast and not at all cold or clynical. e.g.My Moscode and M/L CLS or Soundlabs with an Atma-Sphere amp.
hi tvad. if a system has a treble roll off, and slight mid range bloat, how could it still be detailed ?

doen't the treble contribute more to the perception of detail than that of any other region ?
My 2 cents worth:
Both adjectives, "fast" and "detailed" refer to a high level of detail. "Fast" refers to details in the timing domain: how quickly the system can respond to reproduce the micro-transients, phase coherence, and a realistic leading edge. "Detailed" refers to details in the frequency domain: how accurately the system reproduces the nuances of the harmonic texture and structure of the notes. Let me add a third adjective. "Dynamic" refers to details in the amplitude domain: the range of amplitudes the system is able to reproduce and how faithfully it can reproduce micro-dynamics and dynamic gradations.

It takes a high level of detail in all three domains to reproduce the harmonic bloom as it evolves in time from it's leading edge to it's eventual fade without distorting the relative balance between the amplitudes of the different frequencies in its harmonic structure. Harmonic detail without a resolving enough time and amplitude domain results in cold, lifeless, and uninvolving reproduction. On the other hand, quick-slam-thank-you-mam presentation with a polyester-like harmonic texture lacks refinement as well. To complicate matters: poor room acoustics in the listening room, and poor speaker and listener positions could obscure nuances in all three domains no matter how good the audio components.
"doen't the treble contribute more to the perception of detail than that of any other region ?"

Not always. Until you experience a system with detailed, lifelike midrange and bass you might think so.
Puremusic, that is a nice explanation worth bookmarking. Thanks.

Gunbei, I believe your point has merit. Personally, I have never heard a rolled off system that seemed fast or detailed, though. To me, it's the attack of the notes that brings realism, and a perception of speed.
Here's another question. How much does a soundstage such as one that might be described as being holographic with clear placement of instruments rendered in a lifelike soundfield weigh on speed, or detail? Could this clear delineation of spacing and placement be construed as detail since it adds information to our perception of the experience?

Interesting, because what I've tried to describe is what many people might experience in a SET based system. A system most people wouldn't consider fast. And that's why, I think Puremusic's inclusion of "dynamics" has great relevance. Is detail then as Puremusic mentions limited to the frequency domain?

Tvad, I think one area I'm in the distinct minority here is that I consider a system that has good PRaT to be fast. And also that a system with good PRaT need not be highly detailed.
Oh yeah, I think it is very possible to have warm, fast and detailed. Snivesguy is on to the recipe, SET amp, especially one that delivers high current and relatively extended treble response, matched with efficient speakers with well damped bass, finally well thought out acoustic treatments. Lively, engaging, very articulate and detailed is the sound. The only lacking with this kind of system may be the macro dynamics, but much of fast is found in the micro dynamics, IMO.
Here's a good exapmle. I have a JOR. The Jadis stock tubes are KT90's. I decided to replace them with the Electro Harmonix KT88's. The 88's were like sludge, boomy, its was like the music was comming from the speaker like paste in a "tube". The 90's are detailed, sharp, vivid =fast. Anything that is not "fast' I refer to as grainy/smokey/hazy/dull. All 3 components can be subject to this "slow/dull" sound. The cdp, amp, speaker xover all 3 can be wired funky and thus the sound goes around in circles , too many circles, before it makes its exit to your ears. A good quick amp, vdp. xover will channel the music most intelligently/musically.
Now do you have the ears to tell the differences? Most folks make claims they do.

does 'detailed'='forward'? far as warm,fast and detailed, i default to the two out of three rule....any combination of the two but never all three.
"Is detail then as Puremusic mentions limited to the frequency domain?"

No, detail (the noun) is not limited to the frequency domain. As I mentioned in the second paragraph in my post above, "It takes a high level of detail in all three domains..." However, as best I could tell, the adjective "detailed" refers in most (but not all) discusions to the frequency domain; namely, the level of resolution of the harmonic details (as opposed to temporal or amplitude details). Musical Nirvana (as well as the devil) is in all the details and how faithfully (or unfaithfully) they are reproduced.

Tvad, Thanks for your kind compliment.
05-25-06: Jaybo
does 'detailed'='forward'? far as warm,fast and detailed, i default to the two out of three rule....any combination of the two but never all three.
Like having contracting work done. Good, fast and cheap. Pick any two. You can't have all three.
A friend that had the Audio research VLT200 said my JOR was more detailed/refined/precise/accurate/fast. All mean the same thing. A cdp can ve fast, a amp can be fast, a speaker can be fast. But really fast is misleading. A ss amp most likely is faster than the tube amp, but a high quality tube amp 'cooks ' the image before releasing it to your ear. Thus a tube amp developes the digital signal, adds softness and life to the image. Provided the speakers can properly process tha signal. If a speakers voice coil and or its Xover nert work is not on the same level as the amp's output, the end result will be the speakers distorting what the amp gives.
Likewise the signal from a cdp ,if too cold/lacks life will then alters what the amp is capable of producing. All 3 components muct add their share to the equation, the end result will be a fast/accurate lifelike soundstage.
Size of the system has absolutely no bearing on lifelike sound stage. Tyler's tiny 2 ways with the 5 inch midwoofer can produce its own modest soundstage as opposed to some gigantic speakers with up to 6 drivers/cabinet that on soundstage quality scale , 1-10, I give a zero.
Feel free to disagree, these are my findings after 30 yrs in researching stereo equipment.
If you go back and read some of my posts from many years ago, you'll find that i've always been a major proponent of "speed" aka excellent transient response in components. You can't reveal subtle nuances, drastic shifts in peak ( positive OR negative ) amplitudes, sharp changes in pitch, etc... without speed.

Greater speed assures natural linearity WITHOUT the need for copious amounts of negative feedback. In fact, it is the lack of speed that forces designers to utilize TOO MUCH error correction aka "feedback" ( positive or negative ). Due to the lack of response time and the associated delay and overshoot / ringing that accompanies a slow circuit, designers turn to this "band aid" approach. The end result is something that measures better in certain areas but worse in others.

This is why i've encouraged those interested in such things to learn how to read ALL of the pertinet test results and not just concentrate on those that we've been force-fed to believe matter most. A few spec's can only tell a part of the story, leaving you to guess at the rest. Since most spec's are inter-related, the more that you know about spec's and interpreting them, the easier that it is to "guesstimate" how the component will perform in normal use.

High amounts of negative feedback result in the hard, glaring, sterilized reproduction that sounds "sharp" and / or "lean" on many bandwidth limited SS components. Get rid of most of the negative feedback and you'll get rid of much of what many people complain about. Only problem is, the "slow" / "non-linear" circuit will now have gobs of distortion because it simply can't keep up with the music.

As such, a well designed "fast" component or system will have detail. It will also preserve the natural tonal balance of instruments AND have good "PRAT". That's because the "speedy" componentry not only preserves the proper pitch of the instruments, they deliver each note in the proper time / phase, regardless of frequency, amplitude or duration. In effect, speed is what "coherence" is all about.

"Faster" components will have a wider operating bandwidth than a "slower" component. The wider bandwidth allows one to hear a higher level of harmonic overtones, which can lead one to think that the system is "bright" and / or "lean" depending on one's perspective and references. If the overtones and the dynamics of instruments are trunctuated, for instance due to inductive speaker cables of a high impedance, much of that speed and the "airiness" that accompanies proper harmonic structure, speed and wide bandwidth, are negated. This is why i've always stressed "proper power transfer characteristics" aka "impedance matching" wherever possible. Properly matched impedances reduce the potential for time / amplitude / phase induced problems. The end result is more natural sound with lower loss / self-induced distortions.

As mentioned above, linearity is improved as speed is increased, so long as stability remains consistent. Some products run into problems due to being very fast and capable of wide bandwidth, but that's a subject for another thread. Sean
gentlemn, if there is a rolled off treble, there exists subtractive coloration.

depending upon the dip in the treble, there may be a loss of information.

one may miss certain low level musical details becuase they are recorded at a lower spl , because of the roll off.

thus, the warmth which is consistent with a roll off may eliminate some detail(S) on a recording.

can such a stereo system still be described as detailed ?

it would depend upon how one defined the term. no stsereo systems are perfect, so the designation of "detailed" already assumes that there exists something short of perfection, but how short ?

another words, how much loss of detail due to a dip in the treble still qualifies as a "detailed" stereo system ?
Both fast and warm is possible but unusual.My Supratek Cabernet preamp is both.I had a Metaxas Marquis preamp prior to this that was fast but not warm and all other non Supratek valve preamps I have tried are warm but not fast.
In a way many electrostats are fast and warm through the mids and highs but not so fast through the bass.
The gainclone type chip amps are very fast and when combined with a fast but warm preamp the overall sound can be both warm and fast.I have never heard a SS or digital amp as fast as the Gainclones so for people wanting speed and dynamics these are worth a try.
I have always wondered about this fascination with "speed" of electronics in sound reproduction through speakers, when one knows thast no speaker can "keep up" with even the slowest amplifier. One can determine the speed and accuracy of a signal through an amplifier by monitoring the output of a square wave and noting the deviations from the original. Ever seen the square wave produced through a speaker? makes one wonder what all the fuss is about when it comes to the shape of the square wave through an amplifier when the signal gets all screwed up in the speaker anyway.
Salut, Bob P.
Sean great post, especially about the bandwith issue. Restrictions in bandwith are characteric of lower quality components. Look at any concert/recording studio's set up, dozens of equalizers and fq boards, all for one purpose to enliven the human voice, bring dynamics to instruments. A high quality amp will have these built in characteristics.
I agree with Bob aka Inpep's comments to a certain degree. That is, loudspeakers are most certainly the lossiest part of the reproduction chain, even the very best that we have available to us.

Having said that, loss is loss and minimizing it can only improve the linearity and reproduction of the system. If such were not true, component changes would not be nearly as audible as they are in even a reasonably resolving system. This is kind of like having a leaky faucet at the end of a leaky hose. Fixing all of the leaks in the hose will deliver more of the content to the faucet, which is still leaking. Now we have a "controlled leak", but the losses are minimized ( and expected ) at that point.

I can remember the very first time that i heard a "fast" system. I was listening to a recording that i had heard hundreds of times. At one point, there is a stop in the music and a huge surge of dynamic energy from a drum strike starts the flow of music again. With this system, that drum strike had so much speed, attack and dynamic energy that it literally startled me. By "startling me", i mean that i literally jumped out of my listening seat onto the floor in front of me. I am NOT joking about the difference in intensity of the reproduction OR my re-action to experience something like this.

Not only was that level of energy and type of reproduction an eye / ear opening experience for me, but also for my Brother. The funny thing is, he just mentioned this system / experience to me two days before Tvad posted this thread. This came up because he knew that his current system lacked speed, therefore losing resolution and dynamic impact. Sean
Can you tell us what this system was that made you jump out of your chair when the drums kicked in?

Here is a link of Peter Moncrieff's description of "fast and detailed" in an amp.