Mark Levinson is the epitome of analytical. One time I was listening to a record that seemed almost perfect at first, but yet within minutes I was sick and tired and uncomfortable and really did not want to continue listening at all. This fascinated me. Why? What was wrong? So I kept listening. Very neutral. A little too bright or etched but no more so than a lot of others. Incredibly detailed, usually a good thing. After a while my mind landed on, "sterile". Like everything was there, only with all the life sucked out of it.
Which I think is the true meaning of analytical. Everything there, only with all the life sucked out of it. Like if you analyze a rose, you get all the cellular and molecular structure, everything but the rose. Like that.
Okay. So once I figured that out, that is quite enough of this record (Jacintha, Autumn Leaves) and back to the shelf it went, where it has rested for years, never played, kept around only in case someone wants a demo of everything wrong with solid state.
What does this have to do with Mark Levinson, you ask? Before putting it away I had a look through the liner notes. Recorded and mastered exclusively on Mark Levinson electronics. So there you go.
I used to think analytical sound was synonymous with fatiguing sound. However with the full Benchmark stack I do not find this analytical sound to be fatiguing, DAC3B | HPA4 | AHB2 x 2. It turns out this is my favorite sound signature.
I just spent a few months comparing Class A amps with tube DACs to see if they were preferred over the Benchmark stack. This other gear sounded great, a 10/10 however I always felt the analytical Benchmark stack went to 11 with just a little bit more.
I think the term "analytical" when used by audiophiles is generally a negative term used to describe any part of the audio chain lacking in body or warmth. In the context of this thread, I think "accurate" would be the better term. Then again, in the audiophile sense, "accurate" would be a step above "analytical" in sound quality, but still lacking in emotional connection with the music. Just my opinion. I've owned a lot of amplifiers, but I couldn't tell you which were actually accurate, as I never measured them.
different people hear differently, like different tonality, grew up with different types of sound, there is no right or wrong... if you like it that is what matters -- no matter what others say
that is why there is such a broad, rich selection of speakers and other equipment, each serves a different customer with different sensibilities and tastes
i associate the following with ’analytical’ sounding components -- lots and lots of detail served up right up front with minimal effort needed to hear ’into’ the music, fast transient response, zero rounding/slurring, tight deep bass with little overhang minimal overtones - i appreciate equipment that does this, sounds this way, but this is not my preferred sonic palette for extended listening sessions, where i would rather have more roundness fullness texture to the sound - perhaps somewhat less ’hear thru’ but with more saturated colors sacrficing some leading edge detail
just like being outside in the bright sunlight on a summer day without sunglasses... it is vivid and hyper-real but after a bit it can get a little fatiguing for the eyes...
what we like is what we like, a big part of the journey is to find out what that is, no shame nor apologies needed
last point - i don’t know ’accurate’ is -- i would submit that NO ONE knows... not even the recording techs that make the recorded music... once you put it through microphones, mixers, etc etc (not to mention digitization, mastering, and the reproduction gear on the other end), the real thing is long long gone...
the Stereophile definition is the best that I know of:
analytical - "Very detailed, almost to the point of excess."
No, that isn't even a good definition let alone the best. I already gave you a much better one:
"sterile". Like everything is there, only with all the life sucked out of it.
Now let me explain, and help you understand the difference.
Details are all the myriad subtle little bits and pieces that go together in music. All kinds of things qualify as details, everything from the tiniest treble way up high to the articulate tight and tuneful bass note, and everything in between. It is impossible to have too much detail.
It is on the other hand entirely possible for these details to be presented with grain, or etch, or conversely they can be liquid smooth. Same details, just one way grating and fatiguing, the other pleasurable, enjoyable, preferable. One way the details are artificial, one might even say analytical. The other they are natural. One might say lifelike.
So you see a much better definition of analytical is everything there, nice and neutral, only sterile, lifeless.
It is not productive to attempt to address "analytical" without also discussing tonality. It's properly a system issue, and not just a component issue.
Imo, it seems "analytical" is more properly applied to listeners, and "complex" applied to equipment. This mirrors Stereophile's definition, excessive detail, versus, "Sucks the life out of," which gives no proper descriptor for the audiophile to act upon. The potentially anthropomorphic aspects of the term analytical seem to muddy the situation.
Often, it's not the amp that is the problem, it's the way the audiophile set up the system. It takes about a dozen different iterations with any component to know the innate character of the component. Most do not have capacity to do so many rigs in order to find the true character of the component. They set it up with their gear, pronounce it's sound, and think they know. Likewise, people set up a rig with an amp and think they have hit the jackpot. They don't bother to try other iterations, and consequently never optimize their rig; they really do not know the innate character of the amp either. Most of what is passed around here as judgments of equipment are only partially informed, a function of how the community works (No judgment in that, just describing the reality of the situation).
Dont like these terms to describe audio. Much like metal in late 70s’ - 1990. Its metal. Not rectum ranger metal, pipe metal, spaghetti metal. Whatever the term. .......if its metal than its metal .. genres, upon genres, Like amps. Its not so much the amp as speakers and source material. My dna-750s r far from analytical, as are my odyssey kismet and carver sunfire. They all sound great. !!!!
Analytical and lifeless i would mention emotiva xpa1 1000W monos. They have been boxed up for 10 years now. Only plugging in 2-3X a year to keep caps used. Only other amp i consider analytical is my QSC gx5. Wwhile not analyticall, she is straight wire w gain !! very accurate and honest. Bad recording in ....bad sound out.
To reveal all the details doesn’t have to mean the sound is sterile, etched or irritating. It means just what it says. Details have life just as much as larger matters and occupy space in the same manner.
Details have warmth and body but on a lessor scale.That’s all. Details contribute to the overall sound of the music, just like in real life. When I hear details properly portrayed, I get a more complete picture or mental image of the event, which is what this hobby means to me: to recreate the event as well as possible.
Hearing the leading edge of something in larger proportion than it should be is not detail. Nor are the sounds that irritate. That indicates something wrong with your system and not the music.
That's very similar to what's accredited in her Jacintha Is Her Name CD. Executive Producers: Ying Tan & Sebastian Koh Produced by: Joe Harley Recorded & Mixed by: Michael C. Ross at OceanWay Recording. Hollywood, Ca. November 20-24, 2002 Mastered by: Bernie Grundman using the Sony Direct Stream Digital System Microphones: AKG C-12, C12A, KM-54, Neumann M-49, M-50, U-67, Sony C-12, Sennheiser 441, 421 Recording Cables: Audioquest Photography: Gaelin Casey Photography Hear: Marvin Lynch Make Up: Karen Gilbert Art Direction: James Lizard @LizardStudio.com
I am not disputing that at all, I have never heard it.
I am puzzled that the reason for it was quoted as "Mark Levinson" and yet, there seems to be no Mark Levinson in sight. I even linked to the liner notes of that album. What happened?
"Okay. So once I figured that out, that is quite enough of this record (Jacintha, Autumn Leaves) and back to the shelf it went, where it has rested for years, never played, kept around only in case someone wants a demo of everything wrong with solid state.
What does this have to do with Mark Levinson, you ask? Before putting it away I had a look through the liner notes. Recorded and mastered exclusively on Mark Levinson electronics. So there you go."
I probably stand along in my love of the Crown PS200/PS2 amps for their steady solid state signal from bottom to top. Factory recapped from the mother ship in the Midwest, driving a high output connected, carefully placed REL T5i and a set of very average towers (with jumbo RCA connectors from a rat rod input stream composed of an unpowered Shitt preamp and clever Chinese Bluetooth DAC) I am a happy listener.
Amos Lee, Handel's Water Music and Clarence Spady all sound warm enough to me, LOL