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 Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics

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Sonic.beaver



Posts : 2124
Join date : 2009-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:16 pm


Hi Michael and Zonees

Sonic has been letting the system really settle in as I worked to clean and catalog my growing collection of 78 rpm and mono SP/LPs. The musick is reaching a level where I am engaged more with listening and less fussing over equipment. For instance on the CD front I found a 1964 recording mastered to CD by Nicholas Harnoncourt conducting the Concentus Musicus Wein playing Buxtehude and Schien. His approach to baroque original instrument music may have been quirky but it is fascinating to hear this pioneering work that is coming up to 50 years old.

Along the way Sonic was reading the December 2012 issue of Stereophile Shocked where "burn-in" was discussed as part of a review of the Anthem Statement Class D amp.

Excerpts from Page 145 "we know that the ear/brain adapts well to sounds, coming to accept as normal what it's been exposed to for an extended period...Footnote: A significant part of burn-in. especially in non-controlled observations, is that we adapt to stimuli as they become familiar and accept them as a reference. Ever notice how the effect of burn-in is always positive?"

To what extent this phenomenon holds true for audiophiles at large, as a Tunee, I observe that the only proposition audiophiles can make is about "burn-in". There appears to be no concept of equipment and entire rooms settling in. There is nothing in current audiophile theory that allows for this.

The closest we get is some idea of Long Term listening that where over time reviewers notice or start to notice hitherto unnoticed flaws or maybe virtues. But settling? As a Tunee my experience shows that the Long Term experience is anything but always positive. My notes show that on the whole around 70% of the tunes I have applied succeeded and were accepted into the system. Of the remaining 30% of tweaks that failed, the early days were filled with "on the spot" decisions -- introduce a cable, a cone, a DAC or a whatever -- and make a judgment in under an hour of listening. But I did notice that some things that sounded great at first seemed to become disappointments over a longer period of time. And this was before Sonic started to tune in earnest.

Over time, I found that I could no longer make snap calls on the effect of a tune. Sometimes something great at first would turn out terrible later and lead me up the creek.

A good case in point was when I moved my bookcase wall forward by a foot to increase the pressure zone in my room. At first it was good but after a few days, the low bass fell away and a boom developed which i then expended days of tuning to reverse. It took a month to finally realise the detour that had occurred and then I had to go back to where I started. That was one memorably frustrating turn. However if Sonic finds the initial effect of any Tune I try is bad, I don't continue with that Tune action. So I cannot answer the question "you have heard initially good tunes go bad, but have you heard initially bad tunes get good?"

Keeping notes has been useful to record all this. Michael doesn't but he is the master of the tune. Me? I am skeptical about my ability because of an effect Sonic calls "Objective Fixation".

This happens often among audiophiles I observe plus me too. Objective-Fixation is when one parameter becomes so important that we tweak or tune for it to the extent that everything else goes to pieces and we don't notice it:

Case 1: audiophile wanted to remove a 80hz boom and extend lower bass. Achieved at the expense of very poor imaging, midrange honk and a rolled off upper treble.

Case 2: Sonic wanted to achieve beyond speaker edge imaging. Achieved at the expense of a recessed middle image and awful muddiness

Case 3: audiophile wanted achieve focus, slam and sense of performance. Achieved at the expense of a "boxed in", television soundstage maybe like a live sound heard through a small open window, the performance being disconnected from the listening room.

All of us thought our systems were great until someone else out of kindness or spite pointed out the flaws we were oblivious to.

This is why a "community of Tunees/Zonees" posting to share their experience, pushing each other on, suggesting solutions is so vital to the development of our art.

Sonic
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Robert Harrison



Posts : 254
Join date : 2010-03-08
Location : Harwood Heights, Illinois

PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:44 am


Hey, Sonic,

RIGHT ON!

I hear what you saying also about how something that intially seems to be great turns sour. I can't say how many times I have tweaked something, thought it sounded good and usually the very next day it doesn't sound so good or go in the direction I thought it was. And when I get frustrated, I go off on tangents. Currently, I have been experimenting with cardboard tubes, the kind movie posters are shipped in. I have a pair on either side of the TV standing up on end, with the top open. I didn't notice much at first until I moved them a couple of inches further to the sides of the TV and then the bass got goosed. Whether it is a good goosing or not, time will tell. I never have much time and how often has Mr. Green talked of letting a system get into its groove for a while before listening? He acknowledges that most don't have that luxury and perhaps that is what leads me to not being able to make those walls disappear.

On the other hand, if I could go back in time, I would more greatly appreciate just how much better my sound quality is these days, because I know it is, when I can get out of that "can't see the forest for the trees" mentality.

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Sonic.beaver



Posts : 2124
Join date : 2009-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:06 pm


Hi Robert

With those tubes you could build your own Roomlenses. I think there are some DIY Audio pages that show how a homemade (Argent) Roomlens could be made. They used plastic pipe stuffed with fibreglass. Perhaps the cardboard tubes with some stuffing may do better given that we plastic is not sonically neutral from Sonic's experience.

Keeping fingers crossed......Sonic is about to attempt an experiment over the Christmas festival break that might be a step towards something new.....I am going to move my MG1.5QRs out of the room and replace them with my Rogers LS3/5as.

The Rogers are smaller and will therefore interact less with the room. They are however less efficient (82 dB/W/1m vs 86 dB/W/1m for the MG1.5QRs) and a more complex load -- there is iron in the crossover to match the efficiencies of the KEF bass/mid driver with the KEF T27 tweeter. Of course with pressure zones activated via the tune, the idea of electrical efficiency should be less an issue and I got 100W in the amp if all else fails.

I'll report on this as we go into the new year assuming that Sonic doesn't chicken out. I been putting this experiment off. It may show:

a. how great the MG1.5QRs are in the room/system interface and reinforce my view I have reached a plateau of "satisfaction" that I'll stay with for a while OR

b. it may show how much the Big Panels influenced the pressure flows and how much Sonic had tuned with and round them.....and their removal released everything for the better....this one will be dangerous because it could start me down a whole new road that could see Sonic adopting the Mini Mods or the new Classic 60s from Michael.

c. the absence of the Big Panels shows how much Sonic had tuned with and round them...and their removal collapsed the system/room and I got to start over (for sure if this is the result, I will record this in my file, report it to the Zone but will quickly get the MG1.5QRs back into the room and forget I ever did this crazy thing)

Let us see in a few days.

Michael, Robert and Zonees -- before Sonic takes this mad leap...any words of wisdom, caution or encouragement?

Sonic
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Sonic.beaver



Posts : 2124
Join date : 2009-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:41 pm


Hi Michael and Zonees

Sonic brought in the Rogers LS3/5as and moved the MG1.5QRs out temporarily.

A good Tune-learning resulted but this isn't one path that I am going to follow. The Rogers are excellent speakers and in my sort-of tuned room, they can throw a very large soundstage. The problem is that they don't disappear tonally. Instruments and voices at the speaker positions sound different from when they are in the soundstage. An example is a cymbal crash -- when it occurs in say the front RH extreme rear corner, it is a big cymbal, a nice big piece of brass that spreads across the room but when a cymbal is "on the speaker" it is small, brighter and don't sound like part of the recorded event.

The Rogers in my room however taught Sonic a few things:

a. the treble from my MG1.5QRs in the present position is not right, it has some anomalies that the Rogers showed up and I got to work on.

b. the MG1.5QRs are even across the stage -- they disappear better. But the room under a "BOO!" test sounded better when the big panels were not present.

c. my MG1.5QRs may be over wide in set up which gives a distorted soundstage and less detail compare to the LS3/5as placed closer in. When Sonic resets the MG1.5QRs, I may try a different speaker position, a little closer together and a little further back towards the front wall (we are talking about 3 inches or so max).

d. the LS3/5as have much sharper imaging. Good for quality evaluation of speech (which is what they were used for at the BBC) but real musick is more diffuse.

e. the Rogers has that nice bass bump to fool us into thinking it has more bass extension that it really has. The Magneplanars go deeper and do not suffer from a compression Sonic has noticed in small speakers -- when the music gets complex and loud, the bass goes thin. The MG1.5QRs does not display this flaw.

A good experiment that might lead to improvements in my full range system.

Michael and Zonees, do my observations of the LS3/5as parallel what you hear?

Sonic
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Sonic.beaver



Posts : 2124
Join date : 2009-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Sun Dec 23, 2012 1:12 pm


Hi Zonees

After testing speaker placement, it appears that Sonic only needs to maintain the same distance from front wall and toe in but to move the MG1.5QRs closer to each other by 1" on each side. That is the outer edges of the Magneplanars are 19" from each side wall instead of 18".

This effectively reduces the angle that the tweeters are off-axis from the listening seat/listener's ears.

With listening to musick, this placement appears promising because the sound is nicely focussed and rightly detached from being sounding like they are emanating from the speaker panels.

In Sonic's listening, this is always a good sign because when images are sounding like they are generated from a loudspeaker panel or enclosure, it is something not as right as it could be.

Sonic

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Robert Harrison



Posts : 254
Join date : 2010-03-08
Location : Harwood Heights, Illinois

PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Mon Dec 24, 2012 11:59 am


Hey, Sonic,

Am I to understand that you have already given up on the smaller speakers and put the Magnepans back in place? If so, you really didn't give the set-up much in the way of settling time. Mr. Green has said a change can be a "shock" to your system which needs to be able to adjust. Then, you have to see what parts of the Audio Trilogy (everything affects everything) need to be tweaked to be complimentary to the different speakers. It can be a daunting task, but you are an old hand. I would give it another (and longer) try. You know it's going to nag at you if you don't.



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Sonic.beaver



Posts : 2124
Join date : 2009-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Tue Dec 25, 2012 3:05 am


Greetings for the Christmas season Robert!

Sonic had to back track on the Rogers LS3/5a experiment because a hurdle of impossible proportions presented itself to Sonic.

Wazzat?

Mini monitors are extremely dependent on the stands they sit on. Stands have a very large effect on the resulting sound, so much so that a mini monitor and stand should be considered a System.

I am using a pair of light, rigid steel stands -- the Linn Kan stands. Cheap and good and they work fine with an untuned room and system. I like them better than another fat pillared alternative I tried which were sand filled and weighed about 20+ lbs a side. The heavier stand just sounded dead.

But in the tuned room and system, it was clear what the Linn Kan stands signature was with the LS3/5as -- steely.

As the system settled, this steely signature became more prominent. This could also account for why the Rogers displayed the tonality change when an image was "on speaker" and "off speaker". Then there was the compression in the bass which occured on loud passages - which might be a facet of the mini monitors (the Rogers are not the only ones I hear this on).

Given that I had no other stands around to use, it became clear Sonic should Kan (heh heh) the idea.

OTOH, the move to bring the MG1.5QRs inward towards each other by 1 inch per side worked very well and the settling over the last couple of days started to prove the worth of this small Tune.

Sonic
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Sonic.beaver



Posts : 2124
Join date : 2009-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:46 pm


Hi Zonees

The results of settling again Sonic faces. A few days after moving the MG1.5QRs closer to each other by 1" a side, I started losing bass extension, got an increase in "airiness" but a recession in the mid-stage images. Treble detail and focus were compromised too.

What was initially promising in the repositioning of the speakers has now proven to be a dud.

Funny thing is too is the upset from the closed-in MG1.5QRs went beyond what we expect in the immediate sphere of connected influence.

The sound of the analog/mono system had record noise and hiss from the 78 rpm discs emphasized, while mid-bass articulation was reduced -- and this system is not connected electrically or by signal to the main Magneplanar MG1.5QR system.

Also the air conditioning became quirky too (this one is something Sonic will say it is a coincidence).

A move back to the 18" from side wall position for the MG1.5QRs made a difference for the better in terms of focus, bass extension and treble detail.

This means the 18" position is the ideal or very close to ideal within an inch around where the MG1.5QRs are at present.

Sonic
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Sonic.beaver



Posts : 2124
Join date : 2009-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:19 pm

Hi Zonees

Even though Sonic’s experiment with the MG1.5QRs moved inward by 1” a side folded up, two tunes that were related are working well.

This is what I did with the PZCs in the front corners:





They have been moved and the reflective surfaces has been turned to strengthen the pressure zone between them:







More recently, Sonic started to feel that my 78 rpm records/mono system reproduction sounded exaggerated in the low end and somewhat thick and inarticulate. While the sound was analog and pleasant, Sonic found a colouration that obscured the clarity of the sung word. There was this fat low end that exaggerated and muddied the lower part of the musick.

Then Sonic remembered what the owner of the Tangent RS2 told me – he had them modded by removing the internal sound absorptive treatment. He added this was a fad in the late 1970s among British audiophiles who tried removing the felt and wool and damping foam from inside their dynamic loudspeakers. Hi Fi Answers promoted this tweak and knowing the Michael and the Tune, a speaker box without damping will sound more lively as Hi Fi Answers pointed out nearly 30 years ago.

Of course for a speaker not to have any damping inside successfully, it is not something that can be retro-fitted/retro-removed. This has to be designed in from the beginning (like Michael's speakers).

I looked inside the Tangent RS2s and yes…someone had removed all the foam damping materials except on the rear panel.

Sonic then bought some speaker internal damping materials (I was in two minds given what Michael tells us about damping) and the mono RS2 was done in a few minutes.

Starting up the tube amp (Pioneer SA400) and setting up the turntable playback, the sound became tighter and better defined. I could hear instruments and voices clear and fleshed out in the way only analog can achieve. The bass also tightened up and the treble became more extended and sweeter.

Remember the bandwidth for these 78 rpm records only measure anything near “flat” between 1khz and 2khz. On either side, the treble drops by as much as -25 db at 7 khz and the bass by –20db at 100hz!

OTOH but where something has been gained, Michael is also right, Sonic found a certain “liveliness” and “realism” had disappeared from the 78 rpm system after the acoustic foam was introduced. into the Tangent RS/2.

Sonic

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Sonic.beaver



Posts : 2124
Join date : 2009-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:15 am


Hi Zonees

With Michael going through changes and now back in Ohio, where will the Tune go in 2013? This is an important question for all of us who follow the Tune.

Certainly a lot of it has to do with Mr Green. After all, he is the discoverer of the Tune Trilogy and the inventor of all those wonderful products. But all of us who follow and have applied the Tune have an interest too.

For customers of the Tune like us, we first bought RoomTune products to meet some need in their/our rooms. It could be thinness, boominess or poor soundstaging.

For a few of us diehards who went beyond just applying some room treatment products, the Tune has come to mean more for reasons best known to each one of us. With the Tune, our systems have developed beyond what we could have imagined.

Better still, we learnt a lot and had our brains challenged along the way. In this way the Tune may have given some us a new perspective on audio and took us away from going from endless changes of equipment chasing the "State of the Art" merry-go-round that we see in the audio mags month after month.

Given a studious application of the Tune, we will all find, sooner or later that we reach a point where the "Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction" scales start to balance and tip over to "Satisfaction". We got what we are looking for and we are generally happy with our systems. That point will come simply because Michael Green RoomTunes deliver on its promise. It works and because it works our room and system problems get solved. The Tune can be both finite (we can get off the train when we are happy) or infinite (where we tune our rooms and systems to the Nth degree).

On the Tune learning curve there are many points we can find ourselves satisfied and may not want to go further. This could be down to practical reasons like the limitations of our available space, personal budgets or other priorities we may have.

Understanding the Tune has to do with mindsets. Audiophiles are by and large product-driven rather than concept-driven. They start with products but rarely get to grips with the ideas behind them. So these hobbyists see a review in the mags, they see and ad or hear from friends "go and listen to this" but they rarely reflect on the thinking that led to the product and what it means for their systems. The Tune on the other hand is first an Idea and then Products.

I hope others will get more involved on this site to discuss, question, share ideas and suggest ways to get better sound using the Tune as a means to good music. The Tuning Revolution is there, we just need to get audiophiles thinking, listening and Tuning.

Happy New Year!

Sonic
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Sonic.beaver



Posts : 2124
Join date : 2009-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:20 pm


Hi Zonees

Michael is correct (as usual) when he said the presence of the mono 78 rpm playback system will affect the sound of my main system. It did. The rack with the turntable and the tube integrated amp and the single Tangent loudspeaker down the mid-line of the room slightly closed down the sound in the centre….and this where Sonic cannot afford to lose energy. So I worked to set it correct and moved the rack carrying the turntable and tube integrated amp (the Pioneer) from ahead of the main amp. I then set up one of my spare hemlock MDF clamprack shelves (a genuine Roomtune device) on the Right of the amp position to balance things out. This shelf sits on 4 Large Harmonic Feet but carries no equipment. It may support my tape playback unit later but Sonic is taking it easy and letting things settle.

It appears to work. The L-R image balance has been improved and the loss of energy (pressure) down the centre is reduced.

Now about a couple of other things that Sonic posted about earlier:

I said that 78s have a frequency response that is flat only between 1 – 2 kHz and steeply rolling off either side. This is the frequency response of the early acoustic recordings where performers sang and played into a horn that activated a cutter that made the masters. The frequency response of these records really did look like mountains.

After this came “electrical” recordings where microphones were used and the frequency response got better. We got flat between 300Hz to 5khz. The -5db points were 7 kHz and 100 Hz. By 50 Hz we were down 12+ db and up around 10 kHz was nothing but noise. Awful by today’s standards but that was the State of the Art. And more so that this is the response that the great movie theatre sound systems (WE, Motiograph, Altec) were delivering in theatres everywhere they were used.

Today’s equipment has clearly advanced in many ways, though the fans of that particular “sound of yesteryear” will disagree.

But things have improved in many ways. One simple example: if we played 78 rpm records on the old wind-up gramophones, we had to change the needles after every side to preserve our records. This is wasteful and not IMO environmentally responsible. Those needles were even made and purchased for different levels of volume. There were Loud Tone needles that played louder because the needles were thicker!

And the reproduction through the modern replay system is much better than the heavy metal reproducers, the unpredictable compliance of the often worn out needle assemblies and the “blasting horns”.

The thing about analog is there are so many more things to consider in replay – for instance, does anyone recall those record cleaning brushes on an arm like the Watts Dust Bug that you stuck on the turntable on the opposite side of the tonearm to clean dust particles off the record when it was being played? Those things affected the sound. The bristles of the brush tracked the grooves and reflected vibrations back to the cartridge which tests have picked up. Those were fun days.

With Sonic’s turntable set up with a right overhang and angling for the Shure M78, I am getting no dust that I need to clean off my stylus. One audiophile who I know said there is so much dirt caught on the stylus. Come to think of it, if our listening rooms are reasonably clean, our records have been cleaned and we get stylus clogging dirt, Sonic wonders if this is not the symptom of a misaligned cartridge wearing the grooves away.

I just stuck three small pieces of clear and thin double sided tape on my turntable platter and used them to hold down the felt mat. This prevents slippage at 78 rpm and tracking at 3 gm.

As we start our journey through 2013, Sonic’s system seems to be close to getting the centre and side images right along with the 78 rpm playback system producing musick.

Sonic

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Sonic.beaver



Posts : 2124
Join date : 2009-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:15 am


Hi Michael and Zonees

Over the new year break Sonic had time to play around with different positions of the PZCs, DTs and DRTs (or should I say I overcame the inertia and decided to give it a try).

Sonic found that I could use these devices to make noticeable changes to the perspective of the soundstage and the perceived distance of the performers from the listening spot. Up till now I been working largely to formula and directions from Mr Green with adjustments around what was recommended and what Sonic observed other were Tunees doing.

I think Sonic might be zeroing in to a good set up and combination where most of the problems and bugs I been less than enthused about may be addressed to a good extent.

As for my vinyl set up, I found the best spot for tuning the turntable with Space Cones is under the platter on the metal sub-chassis of the table. Putting the cones on the plastic plinth did nothing. Probably this is because it is just inert and dead. Anyway this is Sonic’s proof of concept table. If the Ancient Vinyl/Shellac Bug Bites, I’ll go for something like a Garrard 301, 12 inch SME arm and an EMT cartridge that was designed to play the early records…dreaming…

Sonic
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Sonic.beaver



Posts : 2124
Join date : 2009-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:32 pm

Hi Zonees

As Sonic moved the PZCs and the DRTs around in the front of my room, I soon found a good spot where I could leave them and listen. The spots I found were 2 ft out from the front corners. This is exactly as Mr Green said that placing PZCs about 2 ft away from corners and surfaces could have big time benefits.

So on went Musick by Perotin of the Notre Dame Period (ECM), Garden of Narcissus (Gothic Voices/Hyperion), Mozart's violin concertos (Iona Brown/Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields/Decca), Rossini Overtures (Claudio Abbado, DG) and some other bits and pieces.

The musick is good...until Sonic felt there is a dullness in the inner voices of the recordings. I know this colouration well. It meant Michael is right again when he said that my mono/SP system will affect the sound of the main system. I tried to ignore or tune round it and here was that sound again.

Sonic then did a test to see what I heard if I routed the Tape Out of the Pioneer SA-400 into the Tape In of the Quicksilver Preamp -- effectively coupling the two systems and seeing how the single Tangent RS2 compared to the MG1.5QRs.

Some Chopin, some Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and KAPOW! the Tangent RS2 is ejected into orbit by the Magneplanars.

Now I knew that analogue played on the MG1.5QRs (tape) is very good and superior to digital but the sound of mono SPs was something else -- straightforward "electrical" and acoustic recordings from before 1950 they are but the honesty and lack of processing gave me analogue propelled to another dimension Shocked

Of course, single speaker mono is potentially superior to the double mono from a stereo pair because single speaker musick has no comb filtering due to beats.

OTOH the Tangent in the room robbed the musick of life from the main system. On one folk rock CD, I found that the lead in grooves of a record auction had percussion. But it is reproduced like Muzak... you kind of hear it but it doesn't register.

With the Tangent removed from the room, I could hear what sort of percussion it is (congas or bongos?) on the CD. And it sounded real with real human beings hitting the drums, playing the guitars and singing.

And with the 78/SP system played through the MG1.5QRs, the sound was huge, with great naturalness of voices, and nice details even from worn records.

Sonic then removed the RS2 and its stand completely from the room and just like Michael said, the presence of that other speaker in my room was the cause of the inner dullness. The two systems were interacting even though they were not electrically connected.

This is a problem. The turntable and cartridge needs to be earthed to avoid hum. By connecting the main system to the 78 rpm/SP system by interconnects means the main system now earths through the SP system.

I have always preferred to float my earths. But now I can't because lifting the earth of the combined systems results in Big Time Hum from the turntable.

But the system with a floating earth sounded better.....the earthed system loses scale and impact earthed.

Michael, Garp...any comments or suggestion on how to run a floated system but get no hum when I play records?

Sonic
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garp



Posts : 121
Join date : 2009-09-26

PostSubject: Phono problems   Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:47 am

Sonic,

I have enjoyed reading about your mono lp recording observations. Regarding your hum problem, I assume you are using shielded cables from your turntable to Pioneer SA-400? Solving grounding issues can be a pain especially in older wired homes and components. Your Pioneer SA-400 could have some issues from the unshielded tubes, etc. Older wiring connections in the Pioneer SA-400 could be contributing to the problem, but the two most common hum problems generally occur as a result of grounding problems or unshielded cables in the phono chain.

I have a ZYX Artisan phono preamp that is a very small encased in wood, and it developed a hum when placed atop springs. Once the springs were removed, the hum disappeared and the unit performed well with a tubed amp.
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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:28 pm


Hi Garp

Good to hear from you Very Happy

My cables from the TT to the Pioneer are shielded and this Audio Technica didn't have an earth wire originally. The leads from the cartridge ran to a RIAA -> D/A converter PCB with a USB output. There was a switch that bypassed the RIAA and D/A and sent the signal out unprocessed to an amp by the coax cables.

I removed the circuit board completely, RIAA -> USB electrically and physically removed and the tonearm cables joined to the coax out.

The first thing I got was a loud hum but adding an earth wire from a central earth tag for all the circuitry solved the problem. Apparently everything (motor, control board etc grounded to the D/A board in this turntable which then grounded any hum down the signal coax shields to earth).

With the digital stuff out, the sound is a lot better. Less hash and grunge presented as a dullness and veiling of the sound.

This evening Sonic listened to some Schoenberg and Berg piano work (CD) and the sound was very good after I had moved the PZCs about in the front of my room (my post yesterday).

It is still early but so far running my system grounded has been OK. Maybe this time will work....I'll post pix of what I have done in the next few days once I am a bit more certain about what the latest tune is doing.

You are right that grounding problems can drive us crazy especially if they are intermittent.

The Audio Technica direct drive TT is quite OK given that Sonic has removed a 6 lb weight in the base and added Space Cones to the main chassis. The plastic plinth of this thing is acoustically and vibrationally dead. And there are rubber or elastomer feet underneath the base. Sonic will need to look at what I can do to maintain isolation without the musical life robbing effect of rubber. The rubber should eventually be replaced by something more tuneable. Shouldn't use springs because compliance is not the answer for this sort of applications -- for mechanical systems like turntable with a compliance, we should not add another compliance on top of that. One can excite the other and the oscillations begin.

Sonic had a friend who owned a Linn LP12 with a Hadcock arm and a very good cartridge but I forget what. He was influenced by the magazines who recommended the Cotter B1 and B2 isolation devices. These being unavailable here, there was a HiFi store here that brought in a knock-off of a Cotter B2 base -- a heavy top plate made of wood, metal and rubber like materials,springs in the corners all mounted in a heavy plinth.

The Linn sounded terrible on the base. It was not a Cotter but I recall it was bass light in the extreme -- and only when the Linn was removed from the spring base and onto a solid/rigid table did the sound come back. For sure the Audio Technica is not a Linn Sondek LP2 with its compliant suspension but the AT has been designed down to a price and that is when Sonic has to be careful working with the isolation of the 'table.

Sonic

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PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Sun Jan 13, 2013 1:44 am


Hi Garp

Forgot to ask - is your system grounded? What are the differences in sound you noticed between your system earthed and floating?

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:34 pm


Hi Garp and Zonees

Sonic has been running an earthed system for a bit now and found that the sound is fine...good even. This seems to be different from my earlier tunes where the earth sounded wrong after a couple of days. Now we are nicely past that time...but why did it work now?

I got this theory -- grounding the system from different earthing points in your system affects the sound. It may be eddy current effects? Previously I grounded my system from the CD player or the DAC and it never sounded right after settling.

Text book say I should ground everything to the preamp and take that to a real electrical earth. But I couldn't for several reasons related to the construction of the QS-Preamp so I tried earthing from the CD player chassis or the DAC (when I had one) instead. The leakage currents dropped a lot in both cases but it didn't sound right.

This time, the system earth is from the Pioneer SA-400 acting as a phono stage/tape head stage. The main system grounds through MG Picasso interconnects (R and L channels) to the Pioneer which then goes to ground through the mains lead to the wall mains plug.

It works now. There is no reduction in image width or hints of a tilted-up frequency range. Let's see what further settling brings but the SP phono system is completely quiet and sounds great. The earth leakage voltage over whole system is gone. All good it seems.

May be Zonees can give earthing a try? But from Sonic's experience connect to ground from the preamp or your integrated amp and not anywhere else in the system.

Will the cable you use for the earth affect the sound? Michael can tell us. Now Sonic is using a 16 AWG multi-strand drain cable to do the grounding of the system.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Imaging Beyond the Outer Edges of a Stereo Loudspeaker Pair   Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:35 pm



Hi Zonees

Michael Gerzon may have given a scientific explanation for imaging that is wall-to-wall and beyond the outer edges of the loudspeakers:

Studio Sound—July 1986

Stereo Shuffling: New Approach – Old Technique

Michael Gerzon introduces an approach for experimentation


Although many recording engineers and studios don't realise it they already have the equipment to produce a marked improvement in the stereo quality of many of their recordings. Not digital effects using reverberation, delayed echoes or the like but a technique that has been known but almost unused for over 30 years. This is the stereo 'shuffler'.

What is a shuffler, and how come you didn't know you had one? Last question first – a shuffler can be produced by unconventional connections between the inputs and outputs of many mixers (my initial experiments were with an £80 mixer (!) but it should work at any price level) along with a stereo graphic equaliser. But to get the best out of this, and in the absence of a dedicated commercial shuffler, it is important to understand what you are doing.

The basic idea of the shuffler goes back to Alan Blumlein's invention of modern stereo in 19311. (His British Patent 394,325 repays detailed study as perhaps still the best source text on how stereo works.) Blumlein conceived stereo not just as a left (L) and right (R) speaker signal but also in terms of a sum signal M (=L+R) and a difference signal S (=L–R). The letters M and S stand for 'mid' and 'side' signals (as in the M-S microphone technique): M is the signal containing information about the middle of the stereo stage, whereas S only contains information about the sides – since S=0 for a central signal.

Given M and S, the original left and right signals can be recovered by a second sum-and-difference operation, via 2L=M+S and 2R=M–S. By thinking in terms of the sum and difference signals, Blumlein was not merely able to devise the MS microphone technique (which was rediscovered and named by Laurisden in Denmark in the 1950s) but was able to modify the stereo effect of other recordings. In particular, Blumlein was able to modify the width of the stereo images of coincident microphone recordings by increasing (or decreasing) the gain of the S signal relative to M before recovering the left and right signals (Fig 1). An increase in the relative gain of S increased width, whereas a decrease of S gain decreased width. In view of the fact that width control was known in 1931, it is strange that it is still not available on most modern stereo equipment.

One of Blumlein's many discoveries' was that increased width could yield stereo images beyond the left and right speakers. This useful discovery would permit one to pan sounds over a wider stage than normally used in today's studio. There is no reason why panpots should not be designed to cover such an increased stage width – yet I am unaware of a single mixer in which this is actually done.

This is not to say that width control is without problems – which we shall discuss in more detail further on – however, these problems can often be solved by a more sophisticated process called 'shuffling', also based on Blumlein's work. Blumlein noted that one could not merely alter the gain of the difference signal S, but one could alter this gain in a frequency-dependent way by using an equaliser. By this means he showed how one could improve the directional quality of particular stereo microphone techniques (including one pseudo-dummyhead technique rediscovered at the BBC a few years ago). The process of equalising the difference and sum signals differently before recovering left and right is termed 'shuffling'. In effect, shuffling is a frequency dependent width control.

The first systematic commercial use of shuffling was in EMI's Stereosonic system in the mid 1950s, in which the bass width of recordings made with coincident crossed figure-of-eight microphone pairs was increased relative to the treble width. The reason why EMI used shuffling was that research had revealed that stereo images at bass frequencies reproduced more narrowly than at treble frequencies for a given intensity ratio in the two speakers, and the increased bass width attempted to compensate for this. This didn't work adequately with the actual recording techniques EMI used at that time, so they dropped it.

Read Gerzon’s full paper at: www.audiosignal.co.uk/Resources/Stereo_shuffling_A4.pdf

Sonic



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PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:17 am


Hi Zonees

Sonic yesterday posted that paper from Michael Gerzon (another Michael?) about the Blumlein Shuffler because it addresses the matter of beyond-the-speakers-outer-edges before there was an audiophile awareness of such an effect. It appears to be Harry Pearson who first wrote about the possibility of images appearing outside the stereo pair of speakers and the possibility of a wall-to-wall soundstage. But I read in Abso!ute Sound that he acknowledges there were others who spoke of a “curtain of sound” before he did.

Opinions fall all over on how images can go outsides speakers and the desirability of such an effect. Whatever we say, this is not mysticism but down to maths of some form.

Sonic knows that after Mono, we are dealing with equations of L/R, (L + R), (1/4L + 3/4R), (1/4R + 3/4L) then L-R. Many Tunees like a huge soundstage (me too) and the sense that the performance is taking place in a space larger than our physical rooms. Behind what we hear must lie solid science and logic to explain the phenomena. Unlike much quackery in the audio world, Sonic understands that the Tune is based on acoustic theory although it often restates what is known in unusual ways.

Sonic’s system now has three FS-PZCs in the front pulled out a lot from the front wall corners. The side FS-PZCs are no longer leaning against side walls at the front. The bases have been reattached and they are sitting on MG rods as spikes into Magic Wood.

I got two FS-DTs flanking the centre FS-PZC. There are three Michael Green Clampracks ahead of the FS-PZCs. The centre one carries the CD player and preamp. The Left Rack (from listener) carries the turntable and tube phono stage/drive, the Right Rack carries any test devices at the time like tape playback.

I got another pair of FS-DTs and these are moving a little in steps to somewhere around the front corners near the FS-PZCs.

Listened to a Telarc recording of Stephane Grappelli Live at the Blue Note and a Smithsonian Recordings of Elizabeth Cotten. Huge images and soundstage. Very neat.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:29 am

Hi Sonic

So much to get caught up on and it seems that the days are getting the best of me as I am still helping move some of my friends into their new place. I am so looking forward to a couple of days where I can breath in the tune and get back in the groove.

A question for you. When you grounded your system did you notice a decrease or increase in volume?

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PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:32 am


Hi Michael

Welcome back!

The perceived volume after grounding my system was steady even after a week of musick play and settling. There were no familiar recordings that I felt I had to turn up the volume. Maybe one or two where I felt I had to turn down the volume a notch.

What does a volume increase or decrease after grounding indicate?

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:45 pm

Hi Sonic

An increase in volume is always linked to an increase in energy obviously, and an increase in energy is a sign that more is getting set free to tune. This is what I look for in every tweak. Next I listen to hear if the increase has happened across the entire range. It sounds like this is the case for you, and you should keep an ear on this. Remember that you have added mass to the current and that you will want to find that perfect size of conduit. Grounds are (as you are learning) very fussy about the material the drainage happens in and the conditions of that material. Temperature, humidity and conductivity plus dialectic will all play a part in the way the sonic changes happen. Grounding is not only a return pathway it is a shield and most folks in the industry have not looked at the affect of mass when grounding. Most importantly is keeping "ground sound" from jumping into the signal.

It is very easy to over do a shield or ground and again is one of the reasons I like using few products and low mass.

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PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:33 am

Hi Michael and Zonees

With my recent set up of the Tune gear settled in I felt I needed more burn in the front and less around the Bookcase Wall and listening chair.

Sonic swapped the FS-DRTs at the Bookcase Wall with the FS-DecoTunes flanking the FS-PZC centre front. So the set up in the front now is:





that is: FS-PZC - [FS-DRT/FS-PZC/FS-DRT] - FS-PZC

The two FS-DecoTunes are set at the edges of the Bookcase Wall not angled in but parallel to the side walls.

This is giving a better front image density and a gain in volume. Some recordings at the usual playing levels sound really loud now and there are “sound bubbles” appearing and moving towards me. Very Happy This is bringing recordings to life.

I must let it settle…though I think the next step, which is to take my other set of DecoTunes and stack them on the pair at the Bookcase Wall, is going to do something interesting…..but in a few days time.

Michael -- the earth drain wire is different from the one I had been using for my earlier failed attempts to earth the system. The new one is multi-strand but thin.

Good thing the earth is working. I need it otherwise the turntable hums.

Sonic

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PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:45 am


Hi Zonees

Have a look at the pix in my earlier post today -- I think a picture instead of the odd diagram will show what Sonic did better with tuning the front of my room.

Apart from letting the system settle before I get to stacking the DTs, there is also the search for the right and best tonearm alignment that will give the best sound with my SPs.

There are several mathematical approaches to setting up a pivoted tone arm -- Baerwald and Stevenson and one more formula which I forget. Any pivoted tonearm has zero geometrical tracking error (and therefore tracing zero distortion) at only two points on a disc surface. It is wrong everywhere else. How to minimise or distribute these errors across the radius of the record is the purpose of these set up geometries. Each one is a compromise.

SPs due to their smaller diameter may call for different solutions especially when the outer zero point for a conventional arm is located not on the SP's groove surface but on the turntable mat...

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PostSubject: Re: Building a Room Full of Balanced Harmonics   Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:47 am


WHY RECORDED MUSIC SOUNDS TOO AGGRESSIVE BUT DOESN'T HAVE TO

"The most beautiful sound in the world"--Wolfgang Sawallisch describing the orchestral sound in the Bayreuth Festspielhaus .(personal conversation)

The orchestra in Bayreuth is under an overhang -- the audience hears no direct sound at all. Remember this when people start to talk about how musical reproduction is about imaging and transparency. These things are non-existent if the orchestra is under a roof--and yet that Bayreuth sound is "the most beautiful sound in the world".

Everyone who attends concerts of unamplified, acoustical music quickly notices that concert sound is quite different from recorded sound. Part of the reason is space. Concert halls are much larger than living rooms, and you hear the size of the room around you. But there is also a major difference between recorded and live in the character of the musical sound itself. Recorded sound is almost always brighter and more transient emphasized, more aggressive, as it were, than the real thing.

These differences arise primarily from a single, simple fact: The microphones are closer to the instruments than you would be in the audience. Why does this make such a big sonic difference? Why is the sound in audience locations so different from the sound right where the players are? In Issue 38, I treated the subject of why the close-up sound is brighter ("Records and Reality: How Music Sounds in Concert Halls"-also reprinted on this site). There I discussed tonal balance, primarily; my emphasis now is a little different. Let me start at the beginning.

How Sound Works in Concert Halls

Imagine a musical instrument playing a note on stage. The note begins with an "initial transient." Then, with a non-percussion instrument anyway, the note continues with sustained tone for a little while. Typical notes last about a quarter- to a half-second. Really short notes last around a twelfth of a second. (Consecutive notes at a rate of more than 12 per second tend to blur together, turning a scale into a glissando.)

Out in the audience, what do you hear? First, there is the direct arrival of the initial transient. This tells the ear/brain the direction in which the sound source lies, and later, related sounds, such as reflections, seem to come from that same direction, unless they are delayed so long they become an echo. Fairly soon after the initial transient's direct arrival, one hears the early reflections. In a typical concert hall, these begin to arrive in about 15 to 20 milliseconds. These are lumped in with the first arrival by the ear/brain and give an enhanced sense of the sound beginning. Unless they are very strong and asymmetric laterally, they don't change the perceived sense of the directional position of the source. As the note is sustained, one begins to hear tone, from the direct arrival of the sustained sound, from the early reflections, and from the build-up of the reverberation in the hall, the "reverberant field."

Now, the reverberation in a hall takes a long time to decay after the tone stops. In a good concert hall, it takes about 2 seconds for the sound level to drop 60 dB (the "reverberation time"). But the build-up of the reverberant field is much faster. This is a math thing (details omitted!), but the "rise time" of the reverberation, which is defined as the time for the reverb to get within 3 dB of its full value, is only 1/20 of the reverberation (decay) time. So 'if the decay time is the usual 2 seconds, the reverb is coming on strong within 1/10 of a second after the tone started.

The reverberant field is a big part of the sound, too. Anywhere beyond the edge of the stage, it is likely to be more than half the total sound. And out in the hall, where distance has diminished the direct sound, the reverberant part is much more than half of what you hear. Furthermore, the reverberant field has a different character from the direct sound. For one thing, it contains much less high frequency energy. The reverberant sound has bounced around the hall, so it has been traveling through the air a long way. And air absorbs high frequencies much more than it absorbs lower ones. So do most materials, especially the soft flesh of the people in the audience, and the seats, too, unless they are wood. (Even "hard bodies" are soft as far as sound absorbing is concerned). The steady-state frequency response of a hall is always strongly rolled off in the highs. The top octave is pretty much out of there, except in the direct arrival and the early reflections.

There is a second effect that is more subtle, but is perhaps even more important musically: The hall eats transients. Distance attenuates the direct sound, the first arrival of the initial transient. But the reverberation picks up and amplifies the steady, tonal part of the sound. The transient part is not amplified in the same way because it is over long before the 100 milliseconds (=1/10 sec) rise time of the reverberation.

You can think of this in another way: The hall acts on sounds as a kind of time-delayed amplifier. The reverberation, all those later reflections combined, amplify the sounds made on stage. But the process spreads out transients. They contribute their energy to the reverberant field, all right. But that energy is spread in time and therefore is not as "transient" as the transient sound directly from the instruments.

So what happens? The sound in the hall is much less transient-laden, far smoother, far more legato, far less staccato, less "bangy" and "crunchy," than close-up sound. It is also harder to understand the words at a distance. Theaters for speech (plays, etc.) have to have much less reverberation than a concert hall in order for speech to be comprehensible (speech comprehensibility depends on transient definition).

The more you think about this and the more you listen for it in concert environments, the more important and all-encompassing the difference becomes. And if you have a chance to listen to the close-up "main" mikes in a recording session, compared to the far way "ambience" mikes, the situation will be burned into your memory forever. The ambience mikes have the sonic character of a concert. The close-up mikes are far more aggressive, more emphasizing of transients. On piano music, the difference is startlingly - almost incredibly - large.

Acousticians are well aware of these effects. One of the main judgments involved in concert-hall design is the balancing between the transient-enhancing early reflections and the reverberation. Various measures have been introduced for this: R. Thiele's "Deutlicheit," which is the ratio between the energy of the first 50 milliseconds of a transient from on stage to the total energy received at an audience location; Reichardt and associates' "clarity," which is the dB difference between the first 80 milliseconds and afterwards (this difference is usually negative, properly so in a music hall: the later energy is greater).

What This Means for Music

For music, as opposed to speech, where articulation is the vital point, the smoothing out by the hall is intended and desirable, even indispensable. Modern musical instruments ate designed to be played in large halls. The instruments' sounds are tailored for that environment. As halls became larger during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, instruments were made more and more brilliant to compensate for the high-frequency roll-off in the larger halls. And old instruments were rebuilt for this purpose. (Almost no original-condition old Italian violins still exist. Almost all have been rebuilt to accommodate the higher string tensions of modern metal-wound strings that give increased power and brilliance. And the soft-sounding sweet-toned violins of Jacob Stainer, regarded in bygone centuries as ideal - J .S. Bach played one - have become collectors items, virtually unusable for modern concert performance.)

The changes are particularly easy to follow in the case of pianos, since the pianos of various periods are still around. (I once had the chance to play on a piano used by Chopin, a haunting experience even for a violinist with near zero pianistic ability.) The Erards of Chopin and Liszt are a different sonic world from the modern concert grand, far softer in tonal as well as dynamic terms, and having far less attack. Even an 1890 Pleyel is a far cry from a modern piano. Listening to the old instruments makes one understand Schumann's famous remark about Chopin's piano playing being like an aolian harp, and contemporary descriptions of how in Debussy's playing one could almost not tell when the notes began.

Modern instruments are musically well adapted to their intended environment, the large concert halls of our time. The smoothing and de-brightening effect of the hall turns their bright, aggressive, direct sound into the beautifully balanced, rather smooth sound that is musically appropriate.

How It Can All Go Wrong

The trouble is that if you record a modern piano or a modern orchestra at close range, even, as is often the case, with the microphone inside the piano, what emerges is utterly wrong in musical terms. The smoothing effect of the hall is eliminated. The resulting sound is far too bright and, worse perhaps, far too bangy and aggressive, more like a jackhammer than the Chopin/Schumann aolian harp. The Heifetz recordings by RCA in the early stereo era show how these effects operate on the violin: In real life, in the concert hall, Heifetz was ultra-smooth, almost too smooth for some tastes (Virgil Thomson called it "silk underwear"). On the records, his style seems crunchy and somewhat rough. I keep coming back to this example because having heard Heifetz live -- an unforgettable experience -- I find the misrepresentation on records is particularly disagreeable. But the phenomenon is general. Everyone is abused.

It is no wonder that musicians have found it hard to take audio seriously (Heifetz called high fidelity and stereo "high phooey and hystereo"). But of course this aggressive sound is not an intrinsic property of recording. It is simply a feature of too close microphone placement, egged on by generations of audio and record critics calling for "immediacy," "presence," and "clarity." (An empty hall is somewhat more reverberant than the same hall with an audience present. But this justifies only being slightly closer than in the concert situation, and slightly is the operative word here.) The intended sound of music is the sound in the hall. To the TAS motto, "the sound of real music in real space," we should add, "at a sensible audience location." In our own time, there has been a trend toward a more distant perspective. Let us hope this trend continues.

REG (Robert Everist Greene)

Source: http://www.regonaudio.com/Why%20Recorded%20Music%20Sounds%20Too%20Aggressive.html


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