Whatever you like is good sound to you.
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Mr. T, I think you've described two types of listening: hypercritical evaluative listening, and relaxed heart-&-soul listening.
In my opinion, we properly engage in the former to identify equipment that will allow us to later engage uninterruped in the latter (uninterrupted, that is, by illusion-destroying colorations and distortions).
I can get lost in a great song a cheap clock radio, if the message in the music strikes the right chord in me. But that's of no use in evaluating the sound quality of the clock radio.
I tend to give no credibility to a gushing review describing the emotion the reviewer heard in his favorite music over a particular piece of equipment. More likely to impress me would be the newfound emotional connection a reviewer feels in music that he normally dislikes. Still, that might well have more to do with the reviewer's mood than with the equipment.
Perhaps the ideal will be measurements that correlate very closely to our perceptions. That would at least be objective - free from prejudice, mood, music content, alchohol content, peer pressure, whatever. At this time I don't know of any reviewer who presents a suite of measurements that give enough information to consistently predict whether speaker A will sound better than speaker B.
In my opinion the goal of "good sound" is to recreate the same perception that the listener would have experienced at a live performance of that music. Yes emotion is a core part of what we experience at a live performance (I still smile when I think of the sheer joy of the last Rush concert I went to), but I suggest not reviewing based on emotion as that's too subjective and variable (my most trustworthy-eared audiophile friend hates Rush).
"Good" sound is completely relative to your reference frame of your most accurate/hightest fidelity stereo listening experience.. this will change as soon as you hear something "better" (which should possess a higher fidelity to the recorded source than previous frame of reference)
I remember when I thought "Good Sound" was a Dual turntable with Ortofon cartridge, a Marantz receiver, and a pair of JBL L-100's. That frame of reference has of course changed many many times.
The Key, I believe, is to have experience hearing and remembering what real musical instruments played together in an unamplified listening space sound like... anything from a symphony hall to a church organ recital, solo classical guitar, live jazz at preservation hall, blues guitar player on the street, etc... match these experiences to what you hear coming out of the speakers.
If a bear farts in the woods, is the pope really catholic, or did someone actually hear the sound of one hand clapping when the tree fell down? Snatch the pebbles from my hand and you will have a handfull of pebbles. I think, therefore I wish I were someone else who doesn't! Will someone please tell the voices to stop tormenting me!! Did the omlette come first, or was it the McNuggets? In a galaxy far, far away, in a land that time forgot, Yogi also said, "What're we gonna do BooBoo?" therefore I would not trust any accounts of the wiley brown thief of picky-nick baskets. I stand behind this statement and shall remain resolute in bringing the scoundrels to justice. Please, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, he's merely a pawn on the checkerboard. That's really all I have to say on this subject. What more can one say? I suppose you could mention something about Jesus, or the stock market, or point to modern trends in dental irrigation to prove the point beyond the shadow of a doubt, but I have no doubt that you must all be aware by now that my methodology is beyond reproach, and yes, the sound was a good one, to be sure. It came from over there.
Good on'ya for bringing that up! Glad that's finally cleared up now. Move along now folks, there's nothing to see here...
What is good sound? Well, how about this?
"i like a dull, veiled, laid,back, boring sound capable of putting me to sleep. i hate treble and i don't like detail. i like subtractive coloration to such an extent that all recordings sound the same. you can talk about detail, neutrality all day long. if you don't tap your foot, it doesn't matter.
"i want to relax, not bothered by detail or dynamics. veil the sound and cut off the highs. darkness and dullsville is my motto, by choice. thick caramel syrup makes me happy."
Mrtennis (Threads | Answers)
I think you've described the sound we all seek. Or perhaps not.
Good sound has go with the fabric on the couch and the window treatment. Good sound does not know skin color, religious beliefs, or sexual preferences. Good sound never wears brown shoes with a black belt. I know, I know, I told you I'd said my piece on this one, but I woke up this mornin' with a turtle head pokin' out my ass and I thought I'd share the joy with y'all. Good sound does not come in screw-top bottles, boxes or cans. I had my sound un-pimped by German engineers and it is gooder than good now. Good sound always knows which tie to wear and when to keep its mouth shut. I loved good sound once, but one day good sound stopped calling and left no forwarding address.
P.S. Fatparrot, didn't someone already say that?
I think you present an illusory dichotomy. The perception of transparency, neutrality, and accuracy is a physiological/psychological process. I agree with Audiokinesis that you use critical listening to select and setup an audio system that will be satisfying and not distracting when enjoying music.
Maybe my preference for recordings of chamber and jazz music stems from my experinece with live performances of such music.
there were two parts to this thread. the first part has been answered. the second part has not.
no one has attempted to provide a rationale, justification or reason for a position.
i have been battling with certain individuals about this for the last two months.
my perception is there is a lot of dogmatism and intolerance of opinions which differ from the conventional wisdom.
there has been argumentum ad hominem--heat but not light.
how about some defense ?
i realize that some of you don't see the necessity to defend yourself (9w ??).
however it is very easy to criticize and insult but somewhat unfair not to defend what seems to be in some cases arbitrary positions.
the dichotomy is not illusory. there are two ways to judge the merits of a stereo system, namely, equipment-based and listener-based.
a stereo system has an affect upon the listener. the stereo system can also be evaluated as to the usual criteria of neutrality, accuracy, transparency, resolution, etc. .
i believe both metods, the sound of the stereo system, independent of its affect upon the listener, or the affect upon the listener are valid.
many audiophiles feel that a listener's emotional response to sound is irrelevant as to the sound quality of a stereo system. such an approach places the stereo system as the point of reference.
i have yet to read a reasoned definitive argument rejecting one or the other position.
Fatparrot - Yeah, I know, I was playin' off your quote...ya'know; dejavu...didn't someone already say that, or was I dreamin'?...sometimes the ol' elevator doors don't open all the way and you got'ta squeeze out or spend the afternoon with the sweaty fat man in close quarters.
Newbee - you're lucky you didn't let Good Sound in when it came a knockin'. You've probably heard this story, but some of our younger members may not be familiar with the legend: Back in the early 70's Good Sound did a disappearing act and skipped town. Feds said they wanted him to ask some questions about a little boy gone missin' in Culver City. They sent a whole posse of men after Good Sound when someone reported a sighting in the foothills around Reno. 26 men went out, only 2 came back. Of those two, one can be found to this day muttering incoherently over an empty glass at Mr. O's in Reno. The other one was committed, and shortly after hung himself from a Joshua Tree. Good Sound showed up again in the 90's somewhere on the East Coast. Nobody said anything and the law's kept its distance. Good Sound was never prosecuted. Nothing could be proved. Speaking of incoherent mutterings (while making a few of my own)... Illusory dichotomy?!? I think someone's got his raquet strung too tight. I can't afford words like that (OK, I guess I could probably swing a used one), much less use them in a sentence! You know you can probably get better performance from those words if you get a better power cord for them. Better yet, daisy chain a Hydra to a PS Audio and you'll be cookin' with gas my friend!
First Mr. Tennis, I must thank you because, if it werent for you and the gauntlets that you throw out continually, then I would not be very inclined to write in as often.
To address the argument that you have been engaged in, it first needs to be pointed out that you are working under the flawed assumption that there are two ways to judge a stereo system; who has stated that there are only two ways to judge these systems it sounds like an opinion and a fallacious one at that; so as we all know, all arguments that are based on erroneous reasoning would lead to erroneous results, but I will overlook that just so I can get in a tussle with you, as I have a few extra minutes on my hands.
Prepare to duel
Shenanigans, shenanigans, I am calling shenanigans on you Mr. tennis. I think you are well aware that you presented a circular argument that is indefensible.
From past posts, you have described your listening preferences and the sound of your rig to be comparable more to a bad date or a sleeping pill than to a stereo. There is no doubt that you do not like excessive treble energy and you like tubes to sound like tubes, so, hypothetically, if you found the perfect system that fit your description exactly (rolled-off, dull, and boring) and someone came in and listened to it and declared it to be hard, brittle, and bright who is right? More importantly, who is going to be the judge to say that either person is right or wrong? The microphone that is how to judge in this situation and that is one of the times measurements could be factored in. If you had it measured and you were exactly right, according to the mic, in that it is rolled-off, dull, and boring, then you are 100% supported in your beliefs and the other guy is incorrect in his assumptions, but the question remains, do these measurements change the opinion of the guy who heard it as bright? The answer is probably not; when it comes to shelling out the cold hard cash, most people will go with their gut instinct and the rest of the opinions and/or facts are ignored. Measurements are useful tools to ensure that the intended sound is what it is expected to be nothing more, nothing less. Lets compare this situation to a car speedometer, it is intended to tell you the speed you are going, it does not tell you the correct speed to go or what speed the driver enjoys driving at it is a tool to give accurate information about the speed of the car, as sometimes the senses are misleading and do not support the reality of the situation.
I will go one step more, say we measure this perfect system of yours and it measures exactly as you described (rolled-off, dull, and boring) does this measurement imply that the other person would not still hear it/perceive it as hard, brittle, and bright? The point being made is that neither position is, or should be, defended, as they are not necessarily exclusive or inclusive, it depends on the who, where, what, and why of the evaluation; because measurements alone are useless in the big scheme of things, meaning take a hypothetical situation of a newly designed pair of speakers that measure flat in a chamber these measurements are published and distributed, then a consumer buys these speakers based solely on the published measurements, they place them in their room, measure them again in their environment, and, oops, the measurements do not look anything similar to the manufacturers! So, why would anyone publish measurements knowing that things may measure very differently when placed in situations other than the original measuring environment? Because it gives a glimpse of the capability of performance and a delta for comparison, more than it is a declaration of why to purchase the product. Also, measurements are a good way to get a person interested, but once they go and listen at either a shop or in their own system, it always boils down to what the listeners impressions and measurements become unimportant.
In essence, the point I am trying to make is that these two perspectives are intertwined; a designer of stereo equipment could not accomplish their design goals if they worked under the assumption that only measurements mattered (equipment based) or that only their idea of good sound mattered (listener based); measurements are extremely crucial in being able to tell compatibility (i.e., sensitivity, amp choice), but it cannot tell you who will buy it or why they will by it or, even, why they would enjoy it and someone else wouldnt. There is no standardization because the topic is subjective and there is no need for standardization, as it is not a contest, but an opinion-based endeavor on the part of the consumer.
To round out my reply to you, I am calling shenanigans because I think you are trying to slyly find a way to support the fact that you believe systems that are so called neutral, transparent, and accurate could only be purchased by tone deaf sheep who buy for measurements alone and are using only the measurements as their evaluation criteria without regard to sound; what I am saying is that measurements dont tell you enjoyability, but they also, do not imply that there would be the absence of an engaging, musical sound or that a person who relies only on measurements would not be truly engaged in their equipment or that a system that measures well would not be as warm and emotionally engaging as a system deemed by you to be warm and engaging, which is an assumption that you seem to be functioning under, as you have repeatedly asked others to defend and define neutrality, accuracy, and transparency. From my experience, very few audiophiles have actually taken the time to measure their systems once they are in their own personal environments, meaning TRUE MEASUREMENTS, not the simple Radio Shack meter and a tone disc, but using a calibrated microphone and RTA. In conclusion, I say most people buy from listening and purchase what they find engaging and pleasurable, so the onus is now on you to prove that the majority of audiophiles buy from the perspective of equipment based decisions, even if they find the sound non-engaging and without merit, but love the way it measures in a magazine review, while being completely ignorant of how it measures in their room. So, instead of having the minority opinion demand that the majority opinion prove that it is correct, I am turning the tables and, respectfully, requesting you to show some proof of your very vocal opinions.
If by equipment-based, you mean evaluating equipment as a physical entity, its reputation, or its cost as opposed to listening to its acoustic output, then I could agree to such a dichotomy. If you mean critical as opposed to ralaxed listening, I could also agree to such a dichotomy. If you mean listening as a physiological/psychological, i.e. perceptual, process as opposed to something else, I think you are mistaken.
My doctoral and post doctoral work was in binaural processing, and I can assure you all hearing is a physiological/psychological perceptual process. Those who blab on about an "emotional" amp are doing just that, blabbing.
The psyhoacoustic correlates of complex perception (as in appreciating a Mozart sonata) are not subject to scientific study.
hi lenny. you are discussing another topic.
let me restate my position.
there are two ways to evaluate a stereo system.
first there is the performance of the stereo system itself, whether through use of measurements, or by listening.
the issue here is not what does a stereo system sound like.
the issue is how do you evaluate a stereo system ?
of course, people wwill disagree as to what a stereo system sounds like and will also disagree as to what constitutes sonic excellence.
the other approach is to ask the listener to describe how he/she feels after listening to music played through a stereo system. is there some sense of improvment in mood, lowering of blood pressure, reduction in anger, etc. ?
what are appropriate criteria for evaluating a stereo system.
i have observed several answers from asute individuals, but i suspect that there is no definitive answer to this question.
if that is so, i would hope that people would be open minded an accept many ideas as to what constitutes a high quality stereo system other than the concept of neutrality, accuracy, transparency, lack of coloration, etc.
by the way, just for the record, my own preference for a reduction in treble energy has nothing to do with the quality of a stereo system. it is my own idiosyncratic taste.
this is another philosophical question whose purpose was to stimulate a discussion and provide an impetus to change attitudes about what constitutes good sound.
there are two ways to evaluate a stereo system."
"first there is the performance of the stereo system itself, whether through use of measurements, or by listening."
I agree, sound either has to be heard or measured.
"the issue here is not what does a stereo system sound like."
The title of the post is what is good sound
"the issue is how do you evaluate a stereo system?"
Well, again, it is impossible to answer this question because there are countless ways to evaluate the stereo for purchase, such as size of the room, size of the stereo, price, look, smell, feel, perceived value, you think it will get you more dates etc this is a silly question that cannot be answered, but is intended to corral others thinking into the issues you want addressed. If you are truly trying to discuss evaluation and the reader is to assume that you appropriately entitled your own train of thought (namely, what is good sound) and that is really your underlying intent, then listening and measuring are the way to do it.
the other approach is to ask the listener to describe how he/she feels after listening to music played through a stereo system. is there some sense of improvement in mood, lowering of blood pressure, reduction in anger, etc. ?
What does that have to do with the way a stereo sounds and performs. Music can make you feel certain ways, Heavy Metal (maybe energy), Latin (maybe to dance), Marvin Gaye (well lights out because when I get that feeling I need sexual healing, sexual healing, ohh baby). I believe a better system should bring those feeling more intensely, why would I want Led Zeppelin to make me relax, if I want to relax I will listen to Satie. Music should bring about a emotional response not hardware, which is just a tool. You have stated that you want to be bored and put to sleep when listening, so do you judge a system by how quickly you doze off? For example, would someone hear an exclaim of excitement if you were at an audio shop when you said This CD player only took 10 minutes to sleepy time and this one I put me to sleep in 2 minutes! It is the BEST! It is sooooo boring! How could you ever evaluate emotionally based on you likes, by you own words you are unconscious and bored, that would be the opposite of emotionally captivated.
by the way, just for the record, my own preference for a reduction in treble energy has nothing to do with the quality of a stereo system. it is my own idiosyncratic taste.
That is exactly what I thought.
I will write more later on your perceptions of neutrality, but I got the Marvin Gaye on, so it is time for a little healin'
Let me take a stab at it.
I think what Mr Tennis really means is " what is good sound to you?"
Meaning How do you choose your equipement? Based on measurements first, then listening for neutrality, accuracy, and transperancy then make, looks, proud of ovnership, bragging rights etc (in that order) even if it does not make you completely emotionally happy??
v/s if you were to choose based on lisening only ignoring if it measures rather poor on paper or you acknowledging in your mind that this particular system has colors at certain freq bands in absolute sense. Like may be upper harmonics are touch overblown, mid balance is rather weak but the bass is solid making the system sound rather romantic and smooth that actually sounds richer than neutral or real. But it brings you absolute emotional happiness regardless of its price and apparent faults
What is your leaning? What is good sound to you?
i'll try one last time.
there are two ways to approach the question "what is good sound ?"
the first is based upon the intrinsic qualities of the sound of instruments produced by the stereo system
the second, is based upon extrinsic criteria, having nothing to do with the quality of the sound but rather a listener's reaction to the sound.
if a listener has a negative raction to the "sound" of a stereo system, it is not a good sounding stereo system, for such a person.
thus there are two ways to judge the merits of a stereo system.
the same stereo system could be judged as excellent in quality based upon intrinsic criteria but judged to be of poor quality based upon how the listener's response to that stereo system.
can a case be made definitively for one or the other position ?
if not there should be more tolerance of differences and less dogmatism.
Mrtennis: To quote from a true classic, "Surrender Dorothy." Your contention, simply stated, is that if it sounds good to you, that's all that matters. That may be fine, but it's not what high-end audio is all about. There is indeed such a thing as a reference, and the closer a system can get to that sound the better. Accuracy isn't subjective. Your stated preferences clearly disqualify you from any discussion concerning reference-quality sound. Some people -- like you -- simply don't have the ability to determine whether a system is accurate, partly because you'd rather spend your time subjecting Audiogoners to your pseudo-intellectual babble than acquiring better listening skills. Now go listen to your system. Nighty-night.
9rw, chill out and take an anger management course.
i appreciate your kind remarks and concerns about my listening skills and qualifications for the presidency of the pseudo-intellectual babble club.
however arbitrary statements like yours are just another opinion, although, to your credit, shared by other "audiophiles" .
however, stating an opinion about reference and accuracy does not justify it. there are other points of view equally valid. your concept of "high end" may not be shared by others.
you don't have the force of logic and necessity to back up your statements. you have no proof.
keep up the good work.
Jeeze, talk about someone who needs an anger management course! You're a psych major(?) and you get upset when someone challenges you for your conduct in creating a thread and responding to posts. That surprises me as I would think your training should have caused you to expect as much, and your age and life experiences should have enabled you to ignore such comments or folks. Did you actually get a degree or did you just do Psych 101?
"other "audiophiles". How condescending. Just about as condescending as your inane responses to critism about your threads from folks who just can't seem to take you or your threads seriously.
All in my humble opinion, of course. I have no proof what so ever.
Now that I have spewed my venom I'm going to seek solace in listening to some good music.
Something that makes you want to either sit and listen or shell out money for it in the first place. Then that is good. It's sound that gets out of the music just far enough to actually let you appreciate the music.
or taken another way...
Conan what is best in life?
To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And hear the lamentation of their women.
That is good!
Good isn't quite as good as "best" but Conan at least has the idea.
As for listen vs. system? As long as the biases are disclosed (or easy to determine) I don't have a problem with a listener making a value or subjective call. Although I would prefer they at least back it up with something concrete. I don't really see how you would separate the two. WE could simply listen with test equipment (JA tries this in Stereophile with him measurements) but the measurements either do not tell the whole story or are misleading. So we are stuck with both.
What good is transparency, neutrality, and accuracy if you don't like the resultant sound? It is good or not? Yes AND no. Hence the problem and the constant bickering. Somethings can be universally accepted as good but it doesn't mean people will like it. There are lots of "good" people that I wouldn't want to live with with. Are they still good? I don't like them. They are good unless I equate like with good. In which case they are not good. Or taking driving. Everyone considers themselves to be a good or above average driver (amazing, huh?). The problem is everyone follows a different set of manners and rules that are largely incompatible or mutually exclusive from each other.
see the problem?
The orginal premise is shooting to see if we (and people) can agree to compare things on a apples-to-apple basis. This will not be possible. The original premise also states us to choose are preference and defend it.
In my case this depends on the goal. If I'm evaluating the stereo for me, then only my perceptions matter. I like my distorting tube amps and crackly vinyl. Soemone else can keep their squeakly clean, Stepford Wife of a digital/transitor system to themselves. That's their business. If I'm evaluating something to for sake of comparing, then I'll judge the system itself and attempt to use some sort of common language to describe or rate it. Therefore I can "describe" or "rate" it to be good. But if I'm going to "judge" it as good, then enter the listener biases.
That's my take. Tennis anyone? Not for me. I play racquetball.
Great post, by the way.
Actually, Roy Harris, you're the reason some of us may need to see a shrink -- to figure out your twisted thought process. You would be a great case study -- only you are not that complex. You post moronic "questions" for which there is no answer, then argue with anyone who tries to respond. Give us all a break already. Go back to writing your sophomoric "reviews" for Audiophilia (I hope no one is foolish enough to pay you -- or trust anything you write) and the system that puts you to sleep. Isn't it about your nap time by now?
I think you are not a serious person nor should your posts be taken seriously. I'm sorry I wasted my time and the time of anyone who read my responses to your supposed dichotomy. It's preposterous to imagine that anyone could be serious about evaluating an audio system through psychodrama.
Tell'em bout' his Mamma!!!
It's friendly banter like this that has Audiogon servin' up those complementary pipin' hot mugs of shutthefuckup. I'll take two sugars in mine please.
Who's taking bets on how much longer this thread is going to remain online? My money says it won't make it to Sunday morning.
I find some of mrtennis's threads entertaining & fun, if nothing else this is the perfect exercise on how audiophiles interact or react to such a simple question. To put things in perspective, since we all are taking chances just by living, I don't think any harm has been done here.
I think most of us can generally agree on what sounds good regardless of the combination of components used in a system, if the outcome is desirable and you find yourself enjoying the music & not paying attention to the components, you could very well be there!
A system that sounds good with a steady diet of audiophile music can be important but in my opinion it should also sound great with other types of music because variety is the spice of life.
my thought behind this question is the reference for the answer. should it be the perfromance of the stereo system itself, judged by the usual criteria, or purely whether the listener likes the sound or not, regardless of the reasons ?
if the latter, then i suspect there would be many disagreements as to good sound, if the former, i suspect there would be more convergence. what say you ?