Thanks for sharing this......
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Here is an experiment you should try to get a better idea of what your brain is doing. Record some one talking in your kitchen, or maybe your office.
Then listen with headphones. Do you now hear all the room acoustics? Does that same conversation sound thick with echo and reverb? Well truth is, your brain was busy filtering out those echos and reverberations you now hear. That's work you are doing you don't even known you are doing.
Now listen again in the same location, with a little practice you can start to hear the reverb and echo that before escaped you.
Erik, perhaps it is a little bit like macular degeneration. Your vision has black spot growing, but you don't know about it (until it is too late) because brain is hiding it from us. Before they discovered Transient Intermodulation Distortions (TIM) in 70s they made quite a few horrible SS amps. Internal overshoot of transitions was so bad that output transistors were going into momentary saturation causing tiny gaps in music. Again, brain was compensating but longer listening was very tiring. I have room that has a little bit too much of a slap echo. I bought acoustic panels but am too busy (read: lazy) to put them on the wall. When I listen at lower volume everything is better including imaging. A little bit more volume and sound becomes tiring. I know exactly that this is my problem, but as you said, brain shifts modes, and sometimes we might not have a clue.
We all know that buying gear based on specifications is silly but perhaps we should even pay less attention to sound itself but rather if it makes us feel good.
When I listen at lower volume everything is better including imaging. A little bit more volume and sound becomes tiring.
To your last point, yeah, often I read exactly this and I want to suggest room acoustic fixes first, but nope, the poster runs off to buy new interconnects or starts shopping for amps << sigh >>
I think that our brain compensates for a great deal, and there is a lot of training we subject ourselves to which allows everyone to hear differently. This isn't just taste, but a matter of repeatedly growing neurons to process sounds in a particular pattern. They have done interesting experiments with training people to see upside down. The brain is doing a LOT of processing and wiring between our sense organs and our perception.
Going to shows and interacting with other audiophiles has really made me aware of this. So many people can go and sit in a poorly treated room and really get into the music. I cannot. I cannot wait to get home and clean out my ears.
The number of rooms I can listen to in any given show are a handful. One of the best sounding rooms to my ears is the Magico listening room. My home is nothing like that, but that is what I strive for.
Of course, headphones have a big advantage in that the room acoustics are removed from the equation and you are listening purely to the driver and distortion, so headphones are one way of hearing this effect, but you hear a lot more too.
Large surface speakers like ESL's and long ribbons, any speaker really that can control dispersion so that room effects are minimized are also ways in which this is improved, despite many ESL's having horrible frequency responses.
Before they discovered Transient Intermodulation Distortions (TIM) in 70s they made quite a few horrible SS amps. Internal overshoot of transitions was so bad that output transistors were going into momentary saturation causing tiny gaps in music. Again, brain was compensating but longer listening was very tiring.
This was before me, but very interesting. We take this all for granted. I don’t think it is even possible to buy a linear or switching amplifier this bad anymore. You would have to deliberately build one.
Dr. Leach’s paper in 1976 addressed this problem by naming a number of circuits that were important in the design, and that was the blueprint and standard for decades.
My speakers are all custom made. My living room is a pair of these:
That’s just half the equation though. Room acoustics are vital. That all comes from GIK Acoustics
Electronics are Mytek Brooklyn DAC, Parasound P7 pre, and ICEPower Class D amps.
IC’s are pure silver, balanced custom cables. Speaker wires are 12 guage stranded copper, nothing special.
Bass is dependent on placement. The speakers have tremendous amounts of dynamic range as-is, but for movies I add a sub but run these as full-range.
There never was, and never has been any "hotness" or need for the speakers to mellow out. If you are thinking of the Golde Ear AMT’s, the NR sounds NOTHING like that. The Mundorf AMT’s are glass smooth, with plenty of dynamic range. You have to understand though that I tuned the crossover and drivers for my own taste from the very beginning. Even with world class tweeters, you can always ruin the sound with a bad crossover, and while the final crossover design is simple, the work in simulation took weeks to get right.
The caps did take about 72-100 hours to break in however. A little too fast on the cymbals. I know it was the caps because I recently replaced them and the same thing re-occurred.
I will say that if I leave the system off over night and listen... it takes a good 24 hours for the electronics to warm up again.
Most who listen say they are transparent and warm sounding. The biggest issue is really the horizontal dispersion is very wide. They need a lot of room to the sides to sound as completely transparent as they can.
Compared to the Magico S1 Mk II - Not as bright, more sensitive, same dynamic range, and less boom at the bottom of male voices and piano. When I say they are more sensitive, I mean it. The S1 needs gobs of power by comparison.
" One of the best sounding rooms to my ears is the Magico listening room. My home is nothing like that, but that is what I strive for."
so if you tuned the crossovers to your own taste and you picked out your equipment......what do you think your system needs to sound like the Magico listening room ?
maybe something has to be replaced / upgraded...?
Sorry, I should have been MUCH more specific. :)
I was specifically talking about the room and room acoustics, not the equipment or the speakers I heard. But the tube pre/amp I heard were pretty damn good too. I think it was CAT pre and amp. :)
When I say I strive for that, it is why I have so many GIK Acoustics panels and bass traps that move with me from apartment to apartment.
Here is an article with several good pictures of the Magico room:
"Most of the time, when you listen to a loudspeaker, you're listening to the room," Wolf said at the start of our exploration. "It's very easy to measure a speaker above 800Hz, regardless of the room it's in. Below that, it gets tricky. Hence, the environment in which you listen to and test your loudspeakers is crucial."
I should also point out that Magico’s approach is unapologetically expensive. They test for and listen in IDEAL acoustic environments.
Hence, my biggest criticism of the S1 Mk II speakers is having a dispersion that is too wide for a "mini" speaker. But the other side of the coin is that you could argue that the speakers are perfect and the problem is my room.
Speakers and rooms need to match. Good acoustic treatments make rooms more friendly to a wider variety of speakers.
For those who can afford an ideal listening environment, I think the Magico listening room should be the gold standard.
But for anyone who has to make compromises, it may be overly optimistic.
In one case it has me scratching my head. The S1 Mk II is a small speaker. That to me says "family friendly," but it's really not tuned that way. It's a large room speaker.
But please, no one should follow my advice on anything related to business, as I have no track record at all. :)
" Riley, the point of this thread was to share what I like about high end. :) Not to ask for advice, sorry if there was confusion."
there is no confusion.......I gave my opinion on something and like I said before, a person can give their opinion and another member will take it the wrong way....
" For those who can afford an ideal listening environment, I think the Magico listening room should be the gold standard. "
maybe to you that room sounds good, but maybe to another it wont.
Absolutely I can hear the room and surfaces around you when someone speaks or claps the hand.
I would be able to get around quite OK if I were blind as I can definitely sense things around me aurally. Ever see a blind person tapping their white stick and scurrying along just as fast as everyone else - they can hear obstacles just in the same way bats and dolphins use sound to echo locate objects (admittedly our human hearing systems are not nearly as refined as those animals for echo location tasks but the approach totally works)