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 Ron's System

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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Wed Oct 21, 2015 1:56 am

Hi Ron

I'll try to get to a listening session by tomorrow afternoon. This will be a good time.




sunny

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PostSubject: 192   Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:23 am

All:

The actual sound stage of the 192/24 version seems to be identical... The main improvements are totally silent backdrop in the beginning, and slightly extended high and low frequencies. So my reference notes remain unaltered.

I am curious to hear other listener's notes on this song! Notes from a previous session would be just as good -

Best Regards,

Ron
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PostSubject: INTRO TO MUSIC SERVER   Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:54 am

All:

I have included here an introduction originally written for the Stereophile community to provide background on my music server project. (You will need to go BACK in my thread to see more information on how I built it and why)
*********************************************
All:

If anyone finds themselves surrounded by $3-$5,000 separates but in need of a "streamer", also known as a music server, I have designed and built my own for under $500.

My design is based on the Bryston BDP series ($3,000, and no DAC).. As such, it uses the exact same iPad/iPhone/android freely available application to control it. (App shows album artwork and organizes collection)

My main design philosophy behind this approach is isolation.. The components from the streamer/server are separate from the DAC and amp/integrated/preamp...allowing for the best possible sonics.

Of significant merit, rather than Windows, I have chosen a hand-compiled version of LINUX which permits bit-perfect audio and can run on totally fan-less, silent hardware consuming a mere quiet 7 watts. Other high end manufacturers including Bryston also use Linux.

It consists of a totally silent component with no moving parts, an LCD screen to show artist and track information, and I am in the process of upgrading from the laptop switching power supply to a linear power supply I intend on building from scratch using a proven design in the audiophile diy community.

My design can also be customized with endless possibilities... Including the option to use a SoTm galvanically isolated, extremely low jitter USB port, or the option of AES/XLR balanced outouts, coax or optical SPDIF, and pretty much any spec you can think. The design is limited only by imagination and skill set.

The huge strengths in going high end DIY are complete customization, and zero unnecessary added, noisy circuitry. Also, severe cost savings.

I have progressed to the point in my design that it now far surpasses my entry level NAD 516 CD player, and I am very optimistic with the upgrade to a linear power supply it will match the sonics of the Bryston units. This in turn means that it is right up there with any commercial streamer, but for $500; depending on configuration.

The huge and only drawback: you have to possess very technical skill sets. But I've noticed a lot of audiophile types do.

If anyone is interested to learn more, or just talk about it and my design philosophies, please reply or go to my post under Digital Sources called:
"$250 Digital Music Server Equaling $1,800 - $3,000 Commercial Servers!"

Of important note, I also value aesthetics and have sourced a very understated and elegant case.. Here is a picture before LCD is mounted:



As with everything else, the case can be totally customized too... Merely pick a different manufacturer! I have found about a half dozen cases I consider to look good enough in any audio rack; also some are available in silver if that is one's preference. My case chosen is actually the least professional looking in my opinion, but to me, I want that more industrial, custom look.

While I have already purchased and programmed an LCD (only paid $30)!! the case manufacturer offers a customized faceplate including a larger LCD with control buttons I may use instead.

Regards,

Ron

ps. My DAC of choice after many months of research and 30 day trials is the Bryston BDA-1.
pps. I believe my strong background in computer science, Electrical Engineering, and scientific method allow me to build a seriously worthy component here. To be very realistic, I do not possess the knowledge and experience to attempt other audiophile grade components such as preamps and amplifiers. I am also being absolutely truthful in my facts and hope at least one person is compelled by this approach.
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PostSubject: UPDATE    Wed Oct 21, 2015 10:00 am

All:

My next test is to see if I can discern a difference in first loading each song entirely into memory before playback; as opposed to streaming it from my NAS. I have read many articles of other audiophiles claiming the merits of this subtle tweak.

Best,

Ron
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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:33 pm

Amused to Death, on System #3

I am going to start this on S#3 and then maybe move to the others to compare.

My approach may be a little different as I find it hard to not listen to the intro all the way through, since this is the opening to the recording as a whole work of art and also the dog and cougar carry on into the recording.

Very first remark is, as soon as this recording starts I am instantly greeted by the atmosphere created by the back ground, that is actual more than a background if listening closely to all the real estate going on. It feels like a recreation of an event but somehow placed in a neighborhood as maybe the memory is mated to the present, or the time frame this is taking place. This is no doubt a story being told on two fronts and both have their own space within the whole.

I took the time to get out my measuring tools and did a quick estimate, but this got shattered by a dog barking way off in that neighborhood yard that is behind me and off to the rear right. How far back? Who knows, but it completely fooled me and I have heard this recording many many times. Not saying this is the best I have ever heard it, but saying the "Q" sound was in full force.

I'm a little surprised by this because I have mostly adjusted speaker placement by a little while listening to Q-sound, but this time in nearfield the effect wanted to do it's thing just as it sits. No Adjustment? Q sound? well all is good with me on this first go around.

So how do you measure this stage? let's say for now it would take a walk outside except for the right side which I could get to measuring a good 25 or so feet out. The more I hit repeat though the more I was hearing inside the stage itself. I think I might have to come back and explore during the dark and with my own surroundings being quiet.

Atmosphere

Now a little more about this atmosphere before moving on. This is not a quiet background with images appearing, not on my system. What I'm hearing is recorded space and every inch of it full.

hang on going in for another listen

two things

This is extremely dynamic and extremely big. The dog and cougar exchange is one thing, but all the other parts going on at the same time makes my mind get pulled to each event.

Is it a transister radio? I don't know but in my stage it's about the size of a 20" or so tv refelecting off of it's surroundings. Could be a radio though because of the sound of the channel swithing. Maybe I'll tune that in later and listen to it. For me in this setting it's a little hard to pay attention to it because of these huge moving effects, maining spacial echoes that follow each note into their own big flowing production that float off into the space here. Very detailed mind you but each note followed by an echo pan that sometimes moves off to one side but more often moves slightly off side while moving from the front to the rear behind me as they fade. This is for sure not a frontal soundstage on this system as things are popping up all over the stage.

Back to the dog for a second. The dog is clearly putting the cougar on notice and even corners the big cat mid bark. very important for me to note here that in my stage there is constant movement taking place. The engineers are not making things appear still but in motion except for a few points of reference, like the program off to the left that is located almost directly beside me about 6 feet from my left ear as if it were sitting on a table. There is no sound coming from either speaker, and I should note that there is really no sense of height unless you point at specific images. Absolutely no lid that caps the stage. Things are as likely to go way over your head and past you as much as starting in front and past to the back and back again, which I also noticed with the dog moving as it barks as if he is pulling back at times and running toward at others. Everything is animated as if you were in a moving play happening arround you.

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PostSubject: Reply to michael   Thu Oct 22, 2015 9:45 am

Michael:

Back to Roger Waters : Amused to Death : The Ballad of Bill Hubbard:

On a 44.1 recording, the first few critical seconds are nothing but very analogue sounding tape hiss...nothing more. I unfortunately do not have information as to how the 192/24 version was mastered other than it was remastered in 2015 by James Guthrie which is promising. In contrast to the 44.1 version, there is absolute silence for these first few seconds..Then one can very abruptly hear the album start with the immersion into the sound stage of an evening in a suburban neighborhood with various dogs barking, crickets, etc.

I very much like the fact our systems agree completely on the quality, tone, and placement of the TV/transistor radio. Either way, a 20" old tube style tv with a single monophonic speaker to me is very analogous to a transistor radio.

I think where I get confused is this thing called "q effects" or similar... Maybe it's becasue I've been listening to a lot of acoustic music lately... But to my ears, it is just studio trickery and so sounds whacky and I can't reliably place some of the dog sounds.

However, I do find the album very enjoyable and that is the whole point of listening! Smile

As to the size and placement of the stage in general, i know when I step outside at night in a suburban environment in a warm climate, the general overall stage.. And as that is what I also am being presented in the recording, I am pleased to hear the accuracy.

Perhaps the only thing that disappoints me is I cannot in fact discern any direct sound as coming from behind me. But that too doesn't terribly disappoint. For in a live venue, the musicians are always up front. Therefore, most of the music is coming from that direction, with only reflections coming from the other angles; including behind me.

Listen On!

Ron


Last edited by rrstesiak on Thu Oct 22, 2015 11:36 am; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : Ja)
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PostSubject: Music of the week    Thu Oct 22, 2015 9:49 am

As my system seems to have reached another plateau and is stable and settled, I find myself listening to a lot of music... Here is a recent acquisition:

Genre: Latin Jazz
Album: Deep Rumba : A Calm in the Fire of Dances
Format: 44.1 flac

This album is an absolute soundstage treat! Throughout, the various drums and percussion are staged extremely well, as is the vocals. A true audio treasure I found in the "Audiophile" section of HDTracks.



Ron
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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Thu Oct 22, 2015 3:45 pm

This is why we reference



I would like to go back to our chosen recording and dive into this a little deeper. In doing so this helps us to understand the production from a few points of view as well our systems views and our own of course. It also gives us a chance to look into the comments we make and why, as well as the importance of these comments.

so if ok, I'm going to stay on point on this one

I have to run to a meeting then post for Sonic, then I would like to come back to this statement.

"I think where I get confused is this thing called "q effects" or similar... Maybe it's becasue I've been listening to a lot of acoustic music lately... But to my ears, it is just studio trickery and so sounds whacky and I can't reliably place some of the dog sounds. "

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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:49 pm

Back for a few minutes.

Ron said

"I think where I get confused is this thing called "q effects" or similar... Maybe it's becasue I've been listening to a lot of acoustic music lately... But to my ears, it is just studio trickery and so sounds whacky and I can't reliably place some of the dog sounds. "

mg

Above is where I left off.

In referencing music there's a wide span of engineering that takes place, but since stereo was introduced creating the soundstage became the goal. It allows us to move beyond point source to room/speaker interaction. The idea is simple, either capture and create what is there or create a new version of there. Both are legit ways to record and listen, both are variable and both cast a stage that is real size. There are two main parts to this, real size and real space in recording. One thing there isn't is black space or holes in a stage. Music doesn't appear out of dead silence. As the fader is raised it fills the entire space of the track. It can be asigned and it can be varied but the track itself covers it's entire space. This happens with both live and engineered info. Inside of that info you can produce a ton of variables that in turn creates the stereo sound stage. It's all about the engineers at the beginning and through the process creating a picture or recorded stage. Real size and real space are two very important parts to the hobby. Real size being the actual size of the recording and real space being all the content within that size.

It's important to think like the engineer sometimes when listening. What he is doing is gathering all the space and size and sending it on to the next part of the chain where that space is played with, added too and varied into dynamic range characters and effects. Some of this happens in the main control room but most of the time this goes through 2 or 3 steps.

Referencing comes into the mix, when the playback is listened to. This happens in the studio, mastering and the end users place or reference room. One thing about the reference rooms and systems I have designed or been a part of designing is, when the recording is turn on, number one there are no holes in the stage and two the stage is usually far bigger than the playback room itself. The frontal only soundstage is something that was made up by some audiophile along the way but is not really what is on the recording, meaning limited to a frontal only stage.

why do I bring this up?

Amused to Death is one of those recordings that can help us to understand the real space and size. It also helps us see the importance of front to back as well as the typical front only with a little side action. There are parts to this recording that start behind us then move through the stage and exit out another part, such as the bird on the second track that starts way back in the rear left flying through the stage on an angle and exiting far off into the front right. Why is this important? It's important because of the story being told and all the different places being used to express the content and meaning. It's also important for the audiophile because they are able to experience not only the placement, but the tonal balance of the stage and it's linear balance.

For example, if the listener hears a change in tonal balance as the bird passes through this might be useful to make note of. Second, does the bird vary from it's path as it flies or make a smooth slightly overhead movement that looks and feels like a real bird in flight. The dog, cougar neighborhood sounds are as well organized and not fade in and out appearences only. The guitars and their echoes along with the pinging purcussion all within this huge landscape are all parts of a coordinated, very exact production.

One great thing about rock & roll and other atmospheric recordings is, these recordings are not hit or miss. In the production there is clearly a story told and a soundstage painted with and around these stories. Theme LP's IMO are perhaps some of the most important recordings to the audiophile, why? Because these recordings were created and not just copied. They're not a group of guys curved around a stereo mic with two or 3 other ambient fills. Created recordings are pictures as well as performances. I've listened to many systems that play simple jazz and basic classical and sound like a frontal or even side to side masterpieces, but as soon as a created recording is put on everything turned to confused mush. This has nothing to do with the recording at all and everything to do with a system that is not tuned to the specific codes somewhere in the playback chain.

We must always use our recordings to judge our systems and not the system to judge the recording. The recordings themselves is what is "the source" not the front end of our components. This is why referencing is so vidal to this hobby.

One thing you can almost always bank on and the reason I like to listen through other's ears is, if I'm hearing something that sounds like a blurr, confused, out of balance or out of place somehow, someone else somewhere is hearing this same recording closer to the actual recording. It's about judging, but judging as a whole and finding that system setting or someone else's ears that has found that setting, that has brought that piece of music to reality. Someone who has figured out how to remove the fog, or uncovered the treasure.

In at least my experience, the actual recorded source is the teacher, and we are the students. With all the things that audiophiles try to blame as producing bad sound, it 99% of the time comes down to something either big or small that is out of tune with the orginal material and nothing more.

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PostSubject: Reply   Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:11 pm

I never got past track one...so will at least check out all of track 2 and pay attention to "the bird".

I find referencing to be the most enjoyable facet of this hobby.

Will report back on my findings with track 2. Looking forward to it!


Cheers,

Ron
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PostSubject: Further Investigation into Amused to Death   Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:57 am

Further Investigation into Amused to Death


All:

I should have known I was in "trouble" when Michael insisted on revisiting not only the first track, but this entire album and to really take note of it.

So that I did!

Smile

After a few attempts, I have found moving the speakers further out from the rear wall, and no toe-in, with tone controls bypassed on the Creek but subwoofer engaged... a vast improvement in the processing of the VOLUMES of audio "code" that is present here. I was also fortunate enough to locate a 192/24 version of the album.

Here is a picture of my setup tuned for best sound stage depth:



It will no doubt take me a few days of listening to establish a new reference of this material.

Thanks to Michael for bringing the calibre of this recording to my attention; which warranted a serious reply on my part and a serious tuning session to get my system to this configuration.


Respectfully,

Ron
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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Mon Oct 26, 2015 6:44 pm

The magic of referencing Smile

One of the things that has disappointed me in this hobby of ours over the last 15 or so years is the blame game. I "blame" Laughing this in big part on the going discrete movement. A movement that should have been made built on a foundation instead of a trend that was created without balance. Recordings that were never in question before mysteriously were getting blasted based on the equipment being the judge. No one stopped to think that the recordings themselves were supposed to be the judge and not the equipment playing it. Fact is, high end audio found a profitable marketplace and put this above the music. I was there as the guy who was setting up reviewers systems, so it wasn't hard for me to see where their own personal listening skills fell into play.

Referencing the music is where I find the music has far more to offer than the guys trying to judge the recordings. With referencing we are able to experience a recording through multiple brains at play. Referencing is an ego remover cause the fact is someone is hearing something we aren't somewhere. When we take that ego and put it to good use, we find that there is much more to the process of music reproduction than we gave credit to in the past.

Audio reviewing is a weird thing, and I have seen the difference between audio reviewing and music reviewing as being a lot further apart than one might think. Audio reviewing is about constant change and our own personal learning curves. We keep going through listening maturing our entire listening life, and along the way we see that it has not always been a steady climb of success, even though we might make it look that way to our peers. Any learning curve is based on one side being higher than the other and every time we adjust, we find fault in the other. We pull on the rope of one side to the point where we expose the weakness of the other. Sometimes we get so out of balance that we need to back the whole thing to an even spot (sometimes starting completely over), and start back up again. If we spend time reading the reviewers themselves we will see that even though they may never show it in an article, they themselves fall into un-balance. They're not God and are going to go through the exact same learning curves as every listener out there. None of us starts out as master, and at best we usually only rise to the point of master of our own systems and own egos.

Referencing breaks through these locked doors, and if and when we listen to others sound we learn that this hobby is not one of solitary. More importantly we start to realize that with all of our skills and efforts to make "A" system sound, recordings themselves were never made that way. Every recording and every studio adjustment is unique unto itself, and it doesn't play automatically. This one fact is what high end audio should be chasing and the mature audiophile has already realized.

Referencing gives us a chance to explore beyond our systems. It opens us up to the mindset of the artist, the engineer, the final product and our own skills. For myself, the guy who lives off of the dynamic range charts and reviewers reviews is at a certain place in their walk. The real walk begins when we share what we are hearing in the hopes of going further through not only what we have found but what others have found, giving us the desire to uncover that treasure in our own listening. It's a hobby that teaches us that there is an audio God, and we ain't it. There's something more in these recordings, and our systems, as much as our attachment is, are only part of the tools needed to take part in our audio adventures. They're not the judge, the human experience will never stop reaching, it will never stop being variable and we can never dig too deep.

Smile

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PostSubject: Reply   Thu Nov 05, 2015 2:51 pm

Michael:

That was a very well worded reply - thank you for taking the time and I think other readers will benefit too.

On the topic of Roger Waters: Amused to Death, I took the liberty of listening to almost the full album and have a couple of interesting observations:

I own both the 192 and 44.1 versions... and believe it or not, in some cases, I find the 44.1 to have a wider sound stage than the 192 version! I wish I took detailed notes, but the first time this happens is in the very first song... the chit-chat between two locust or crickets is wider in field on the 44.1 version. I chalk this up to different mastering techniques.

To be fair, I am certain the 192 version has its merits, but I will need to go back and listen.

Secondly, I found the effects in my system, with my tuned layout of speakers and listening chair, max out at effects sounding as if they are "next to me"...off directly to my left or right and in certain instances I remember the impression they were about 6 feet away.

I actually also found a thread on another music forum where they spoke in length about this album and q effects, and the moderator insisted that given stereo speakers, it is physically impossible to perceive sounds as coming from "behind". He cited a couple of systems, one of which approached US $1,000,000. ( I would assume a professional studio of sorts).

However, a couple of other listeners DID indicate they could perceive sounds emanating from behind their listening positions with only stereo speakers. One gentleman was very detailed in his accounts on the album.

So, it remains a mystery!

I would guess if I utilized a few key room treatments and had a listening room with 4 walls instead of open on one side, and perhaps better or further tuned equipment, I would hear sounds from "behind" my listening position.

An interesting topic indeed!

As it relates to room treatments, could you specifically recommend some of your products that would help attain this pretty specific requirement?

Kind Regards,

Ron
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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Mon Nov 09, 2015 6:32 am

Hi Ron

Sorry for the late response. I had been battling my computer and hook up the past few days, or should I say "daze" Rolling Eyes

When you get a chance let's take a look at the whole space so I can see what is going on there. I can then start making suggestions until you find a good starting point that suits you.

warning, once starting acoustical tuning the hobby will change for you

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PostSubject: Agree on Amused to Death   Fri Dec 02, 2016 5:07 pm

Ron,

Hope all is well with you. So I am finally migrating over to Tuneland as well. I am really focusing on soundstage improvement and am trying to tune things in a sperfectly as I can before I turn to system upgrades.

What I found fascinating was your comment about the 44.1kHz vs 192kHz version of Amused to Death and I think I agree with you. Not only do I prefer the version of The Bravery of Being Out of Range on the original CD better, I hear what you are saying about the soundstage. I think in certain cases the sound stage is wider and deeper off of the CD vs the 192kHz version. Honestly, I am a little annoyed I bought the 192kHz version for that reason.


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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Sat Dec 03, 2016 1:10 am

Hi Bierfeldt, it was my wife who first pointed out to me that something seemed missing with 192 in some cases. She calls it removing the feeling of being real. Our collection of older CD's has been on the rise. As Mr. Green points out often, it's the sound stage that ultimately tells the story. Since we have been listening more from the standpoint of letting the space guide us listening has changed at our place.

have fun, happy holidays Smile
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