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 Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback

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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:21 am

Hi Sonic,

I've been reading with great interest about you and Hiend01's adventures with computer audio and I'd like to join the club.  The first thing to do is to reproduce the laptop/DAC system that is working so well for you.  Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any Asus X455L laptops available in North American retail channels.  Are there any available where you are?

I could go to the store and find something roughly equivalent, but subtle differences between hardware can have a profound effect on the sound.  I would prefer to start with a known platform.  Also, a few questions about configuration:

Quote :
I followed Hiend001’s lead and basically bought his starting system.

Laptop: ASUS X455L

CPU: Intel i5 5200U up to 2.7GHz

Memory: 8GB with HDD 1TB capacity

OS: Windows 8.1

Is the 1TB hard drive you're referring to the laptop's internal hard drive?  I'm pretty sure I saw on Hiend01's thread that he was storing his music on an external 1TB drive.  Are you doing the same thing?  If so, what is the brand and model?

What's great about this is that the system Hiend01 and his PC audio guru put together is a completely different direction than I would have ever gone myself.  This means I can establish a performance baseline and experiment until I find even better configurations.  sunny
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Mon Apr 04, 2016 9:14 am


Greetings Bill333

Let me try to help with your questions one at a time, remembering Sonic is a novice at Computer Audio (my capabilities till now extended to the MS Outlook tools plus Word, Excel, Powerpoint -- the usual stuff we need at work, so using a computer for musick is something I am new at):

Bill333: there don't seem to be any Asus X455L laptops available in North American retail channels. Are there any available where you are?

Sonic: The ASUS X455L laptop is an old machine not in the present line up, Sonic might have got the last one in Singapore when I bought it in December. I bought that because it worked for Hiend001 and I was too new to dare try anything different.

Now Sonic knows another good person into Computer Audio and she uses an ASUS K501U which appears to be doing a good job storing and playing her music through the machine's in-built DAC, outputting to the headphone jack and quality cables to the hifi system.

Now the X455L's o/s is Windows 8.1 while the newer machines are Windows 10. We need to be careful as I hear that some DACs like the AUNE X1S that use the xmos driver may not work with Windows 10. It goes silent or works fine and then some update takes place from Microsoft and it stops. Sonic thinks Computeraudiophile discussed this somewhere. As understand the xmos driver is only required for hi-res while the DAC can play a 44.1 khz/16 bit files reliably off the USB out with Windows 10.

Bill333: I could go to the store and find something roughly equivalent, but subtle differences between hardware can have a profound effect on the sound.

Sonic: perhaps another ASUS would be safe although not having compared other laptops it is hard to say what else might be better or worse. Come to think of it, is there a Magnavox of the laptop world? It might pop up in the most unexpected place/brand.

Bill333: Is the 1TB hard drive you're referring to the laptop's internal hard drive?

Sonic: right, it is the internal drive. Since this is a dedicated musick-'puter, I store the music fils and play from there. The external HDD is for backup and recovery only.

Bill333: If so, what is the brand and model?

Sonic: I use a Western Digital 2TB My Passport ULTRA (comes in nifty colours too)

Bill333: What's great about this is that the system Hiend01 and his PC audio guru put together is a completely different direction than I would have ever gone myself.

Sonic: I am still learning the ways of Computer Audio -- what direction would you have taken?

Sonic
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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Mon Apr 04, 2016 2:33 pm

Hi Sonic,

I think what I am going to do about the laptop is get an Asus X555L.  These are commonly available at reasonable prices and they should be very similar to the X455L.  As far as the Windows 10 issue goes, my brief googling on the subject makes it look like new driver releases from XMOS have fixed the problem.  In any case, I'll try to make Windows 10 work.  If it doesn't, I can always get a copy of Windows 8 and install it over the original OS.

It would be nice to find a Magnavox in the audio PC world, but if we did I don't think it would be around long enough for many people to enjoy it.  Our best chance would probably be a manufacturer who makes reasonably priced network endpoints and keeps their product lines around for a while, like SoTM or Auralic.

So the external hard drive isn't normally connected to the computer?  Is that correct?  Also, do you normally have an ethernet cable plugged into the laptop, or do you use the computer isolated from any network connection?

While I'm asking questions again...  What version of Foobar2000 are you running?  And did you do your rips to compressed FLAC, or uncompressed FLAC?

What would I have done differently myself?  For starters, I would have built one of these - no laptop.  And I would have wanted to use one of my own DACs, which are all S/PDIF only.  So I would need a USB/SPDIF converter.  And let's talk about USB cables.  Getting a USB cable as good as what you're describing as a freebie in the box with a cheap DAC is like searching the cushions in your couch for spare change and finding a gold doubloon.  I would have budgeted at least $200 and maybe as much as $1000 for a good USB cable.  On the software side, I would probably have used Windows Server 2012, Audiophile Optimizer, and probably either Roon or JRiver.  And here you are using the perfectly free Foobar2000.

When you get right down to it, you already are using the Magnavox of the computer audio world.
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Tue Apr 05, 2016 10:40 am


Hello Bill333

Here some answers and thoughts:

Bill333: I think what I am going to do about the laptop is get an Asus X555L.

Sonic: sounds like the right move.

Bill333: So the external hard drive isn't normally connected to the computer? Is that correct? Also, do you normally have an ethernet cable plugged into the laptop, or do you use the computer isolated from any network connection?

Sonic: the external hard drive is only for back up and recovery -- it connected to the computer only for updating and backup. Otherwise the hard drives are stored in a separate place. Even though I have EAC, Foobar and the files all backed up on HDD, music is not played off a hard drive.

Bill333: What version of Foobar2000 are you running? And did you do your rips to compressed FLAC, or uncompressed FLAC?

Sonic: it is FB2K v1.3.9. My rips are lossless compressed FLAC. "Uncompressed FLAC", you mean WAV?

Bill333:As far as the Windows 10 issue goes, my brief googling on the subject makes it look like new driver releases from XMOS have fixed the problem.

Sonic: mine is XMOS 2.2.3 -- is this the one that has been updated to work with Windows 10?

Bill333: Getting a USB cable as good as what you're describing as a freebie in the box with a cheap DAC is like searching the cushions in your couch for spare change and finding a gold doubloon. I would have budgeted at least $200 and maybe as much as $1000 for a good USB cable.

Sonic: Well put about finding the doubloon Very Happy Sonic has tested the freebie USB against audiophile things costing plenty and found the costly USB cables sounding thin, colored, odd etc....of course many audiophile dealers I know will say "you got to upgrade to the [next higher model]/[more expensive brand]" and of course pay more.

When I read about the audiophile USBs costing lots, Sonic see there are lots of features added in the name of "innovation" maybe to justify the price through perceived value -- so we have carbon fibre this or that, triple twisted cabling with a countertwist, foam damping, double connects to separate the dirty 5v which eventually merges at the destination port Rolling Eyes , uranium who knows what else.....IMO these things are rather perverse in that they make things sound different but not better. My freebie sounds honest.

Perhaps best to start with the Michael Green principle by going to something simple. Maybe Belkin.

Speaking about Michael -- hey, Michael where are you? Let me know how to increase the strength my room's front Pressure Zone so Sonic can get to it!

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Tue Apr 05, 2016 5:37 pm

Hi Sonic,

Thanks for getting back to me with those answers.

In order to answer your question about uncompressed FLAC, I need to talk a little about tagging.  If you're not familiar with metadata tagging, this is descriptive information about a file which is stored with that file.  This is how Foobar2000 knows that the file you are playing is 'Sun King' on the Abbey Road album, and that the artists are the Beatles.  I hope I'm not being too basic.  Embarassed

Getting on to FLAC:  FLAC isn't just a compression algorithm, it's also a standardized tagging format.  The real problem with WAV files isn't so much that they take up a lot of space, it's that they don't have their own tagging format.  What this means is that you can rip your CDs to WAV files in iTunes, enter your metadata and have everything looking and working fine.  But try to read your iTunes files with Foobar2000 and your metadata is gone.  You can't tell which albums and songs are which.  This is because the tagging format that iTunes labeled your files with belonged to iTunes and nothing but iTunes knows how to read it.  The beauty of FLAC is that its tagging is read the same by every program.  If your new playback program says it knows how to play FLAC, then the album and song tagging will look exactly the same as it did in Foobar2000 and EAC.  If you're interested in learning more about how computer audio files are tagged, you can read about it here.

So when we say 'uncompressed FLAC', what we're really talking about is a WAV file encased in the standard FLAC tagging.  What this gives you is uncompressed files which are completely tagged and searchable on almost every music playback program.  The reason I asked is because some people say that uncompressed files sound better on playback than lossless compressed files that need to be uncompacted before they're played.  Note that we're not even talking about lossy compression.  Exclamation  If you wanted to do a useful experiment, you could take a CD that you've already ripped and rip it again as a FLAC file without compression and just give the album a slightly different name.  Then you could play both it and the compressed FLAC file and see if you hear a difference.  I know that Drewster did this and thought the uncompressed FLAC sounded better, but he was using different equipment than we are.  This review of dBpoweramp discusses uncompressed FLAC and why people are interested in it.  I know dBpoweramp supports it, I'm not sure about Exact Audio Copy.
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:38 am


Greetings Bill333 cheers

Thanks for explaining “uncompressed FLAC”. Sonic did not even know something like this could be done Shocked

On FLAC vs WAV, I ripped a CD to each file type for a test. On listening there were no really discernible differences and in the end though FLAC was slightly better. This is consistent with Hiend001’s observation where he advised me to go with FLAC.

Since you posted a couple of days ago on the Computer Audio laptop battery vs mains power issue, Sonic will take your advice and run this ASUS X455L from the mains for serious listening and during rips.

Oh yes, and you were asking: My ASUS laptop is presently not used for anything else other than audio -- NO email, games, Office, pictures, movies etc and all unnecessary app disabled.

Greetings Zonees cheers

Sonic was looking at my system, at the convenience factor, and knowing that my gear is due for a clean up, I am going to do a rearrangement of things so I can bring back in my second turntable and playback system for my 78s, SPs and EPs.

Got just the idea Idea

I just need a fiber brush and a roll of Ikea lint-removing sticky tape roller to get all the dust off the chassis and PCBs and we are away.

Michael has said that from time to time he would take down his system and build it back up. Sonic will do the same and post the results in this Friday’s post.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:30 pm

Hi Sonic

In regards to your front stage zone, if it were mine, I would move the 3 floor standers out and tilted in and see what is happening with the size of that zone and how it is working with the rear.

Meaning

1) the front FS would come toward me 1" and tilt it back 1"
2) I would do the same with the flanking sides

Sometimes when we want to see how much our zones are capturing we want to change the straight up and down to either a forward slant or more likely backward slant.

Two things to always look at in your virtual mind.

1) sound is round
2) sound is not 2 dimensional

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:09 am


Hello Michael cheers

Wow Exclamation Idea Exclamation To change from straight up and down to either a forward slant or more likely backward slant.

This looks like something I must do right away and report on ahead of rearranging my equipment.

An important point that you made is to suggest is that I pull the FS-PZC/FS-DRTs cluster out by 1 inch. Now previous tests to find the best distance from the front wall has shown that increasing the distance weakened the sense of presence and projection of the middle. Anyway you know a lot more about this than Sonic does, so a slight movement outwards there will be.

So we start – tomorrow Sonic will post some pictures and do the first report of the effect on my system/room sound.

Of course with just one day, the effect may be partial to grow and change somewhat as settling proceeds.

Let's see tomorrow Very Happy

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Fri Apr 08, 2016 11:12 am

Greetings Michael and Zonees

As Sonic got to preparing to do the Tune including tilting back the FS-PZCs and the two FS-DRTs, a realization landed on Sonic that the two side FS-DRTs that are seen side edge-on from the listening seat will look very strange, even unsettling, when tipped. Of course, the central FS-PZC when tilted back will look OK given it is viewed straight on.

See this and you can get an idea of what Sonic means:

 

Also the FS-DRTs have their reflective sides facing each other, their burn sides facing the side walls.  In such a case which side is the “down” side, what makes a forward or backward tilt, which is the “active” side  Question

This got too perplexing for Sonic so I did this – where the two FS-DRTs are brought forward at a shallow angle to the FS-PZC  just like Drewster’s triple FS-PZCs in his Chicago apartment (see his December 25, 2011 post), only in Sonic’s case the grouping of three tune devices is closer to the front wall:



Playing music immediately tells Sonic this is promising. The centre stage began to get into focus and develop girth.

The tilt back was done using Michael Green wood blocks under the front cones of the FS-PZC and the two flanking FS-DRTs.  This wood is the sundry wood that he generously sent Sonic gratis years ago bundled with one of my early orders – it is a darkish sort of wood, whatever it is, it is not the pale MW (box wood variety) – and we got about a one inch tilt back at the top for all three devices.

Here is the wood:



Michael, what wood is this?

Now to the tilt, in this picture the tilt is quite obvious, particularly of the FS-PZC:



Here the tilt is less obvious.



The FS-PZC is moved forward by 1 inch as recommended by Michael.  The FS-DRTs in this configuration are moved forward from the earlier perpendicular positioning.

The first impression is the images are beginning to line up more straight across the width of the stage.  The detail, weight and harmonic richness at the centre stage is increasing.  The Left-Centre-Right balance of a symphony orchestra that Sonic hears live is showing itself. Better dynamics and push in the bass too Exclamation

It is an hour of music play since I completed tune and the orchestra (file played being Haydn’s Symphony 100 “Military”) is on first impression narrower than before, and this is because it has a fuller centre. Good!

The next day and Sonic is feeling the spheres of images round the centre stage and to the right and left of it grow in strength (choral work: Palestrina Missa Aeterna Christi Munera – Oxford Camerata). I am getting impressions that Sonic has tuned a renaissance choir into my room.  We are on to something here  Very Happy  The FS-PZC/FS-DRT cluster with tilt is doing something!  Sonic will mark the spots on the floor and perhaps advance it forward bit by bit later.

The images are 3D and the sound – the overall orchestral sound envelope and individual images -- are becoming noticeably spherical in Sonic’s room.

Also the FS-PZC is supported on 4xAAB1x1 cones while the FS-DRTs have two large MTDs front (reflective side) and one large MTD centre rear (burn side).  Sonic will test 4 MTDs apiece for the FS-DRTs.

This is exciting and more from Sonic over the next few days to describe how this settles – then we take in again the effect of the mahjjong paper over portions of the record shelves, which were taken down due to the earlier-noticed apparent overemphasis of the sound from the loudspeakers themselves.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:28 pm

Hi Sonic,

I don't want to distract you too much from your tuning, but I wanted to ask: What did you think of the Audio Note 0.1x?  From your posts, it looks like you had both it and the Aune for a period of time.  Did you end up preferring the Aune, or did you just have to return the Audio Note and got interested in other things?  The Audio Note is one of those ladder DAC non-oversampling designs I would have preferred if left to my own devices, so I'd be very interested to hear how it fared versus the Aune.
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:15 am


Hi Zonees!

More settling time and what Michael recommended Sonic does to strengthen the front centre pressure zone is paying off in girth and sphericality (if there is such a word). So with help from Mr Green, Sonic's system has advanced a notch Very Happy

Now I notice some uneveness in the bass that Sonic will need Michael's help to cure. This is not related to the latest tune of the tilted FS-PZC and flanking FS-DRTs let me be clear.

Sonic will describe this effect which appears to affect some rock recordings but is relatively unnoticeable on classical music in a post here later this week.

Sonic has known about this bass uneveness for some time and may have even mentioned it in one of my threads but now with this system getting so many things done nicely, it is time to look at this bass issue.

Part of this came about because Sonic has been using a Sennheiser HD700 driven by the Aune X1S as a headphone amp (a good one it is too) and comparing the sound with the Magneplanar MG1.5QRs/Janis W-1 system.

Hi Bill333

Bill333: What did you think of the Audio Note 0.1x? From your posts, it looks like you had both it and the Aune for a period of time. Did you end up preferring the Aune, or did you just have to return the Audio Note and got interested in other things?

Sonic: The Audio Note AN 0.1x is very good but 3x to 4x more expensive than the AUNE X1S. The AN 0.1x is very musical and pleasing yet capable of speed and punch when the musick called for it. Sonic however felt it had "sweet" sound signature so that the AN seem to assert itself onto every file being played. The AUNE X1S is largely absent of this "sweet" signature and being much lower in price, I went for it.

When will your ASUS and AUNE arrive?

Go ahead and try the three filter settings of the AUNE and describe which you prefer. Sonic has settled on the minimum phase filter which has a little more roll-off at the extreme treble but no pre-ringing on impulse signals through the filter. Now pre-ringing is the most unnatural aspect of digital where the echo of a pulse (a sound) occurs before the pulse takes place as well as after the pulse. This pre-ringing has been considered one of the causes of the hard steely digital sound.

Also let us talk about your search for the best USB2.0 cable starting with the AUNE freebie.

I also know some audiophiles liking the AudioQuest Jitterbug which is supposed to reduced the problems of the "dirty voltage" and grunge in the USB2.0 connection system. Hiend001 told me it did not show any promise in his system and if you borrowed one or two, your experience could be instructive for Zonees.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:17 am

Hi Sonic,

The Asus laptop arrived yesterday, and the Aune should arrive today.  I already set up the laptop with Foobar2000, I'll wait to get the Aune before I install the XMOS driver.  Unfortunately, I ordered the wrong laptop.  Embarassed  I'm not sure how, but I got the F555L instead of the X555L.  My fault, not Amazon's.  On the other hand, I can't find any difference between the two machines except that the F555L has 2 more GB of RAM (8 vs 6).  They look exactly alike and seem to have the same specs.  

I downloaded and installed Foobar2000 1.3.10 since I couldn't find version 1.3.9.  This is all turning out quite a bit different from the reference platform you and Sonic are using, but I can always go back and rework things if I need to.  I'll let you know my impressions as soon as I have a chance to listen to the laptop with DAC.


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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Wed Apr 13, 2016 11:12 am


Hi Bill333 and Zonees

Sonic had an odd event during tonights musick listening where in the middle of playing a file the whole system stopped working and shut down Shocked

Upon restart, I went to the Foobar trouble shooting page and found that some components of 1.3.9 had to be updated that otherwise where known for repeated crashing. The update site Sonic was linked to was a Japanese site which Sonic did not want to take any chances with so I went and went and loaded the new version 1.3.10 of FB2K.

Music plays, it sounds the same. Let's see how stable it is.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:14 am


Hi Bill333

The other Sonic would like to hear from you is the XMOS driver of your AUNE X1S running with Windows 10.

Right now with my X455L Sonic doing everything I can to avert all the tactics with pop-ups that Microsoft uses to get the updating to Windows 10 started.

Have you got the set up running yet?

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:16 pm

"Here is the wood:



Michael, what wood is this?"

Hi Sonic

Can you take a close up of this for me so I can get a good look at the grain? Also the size. thanks

Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:45 pm

Hi Sonic,

Everything is here and has been on constant break-in since this morning. I downloaded the driver from the Aune web site - 3.20 I think. I've seen no troubles with the computer shutting off or the sound cutting out, but it's only been 11 hours.

As far as Windows 10 goes, I've only been using it for about a day, so I'm not the person to give advice. I know that in Windows 7 there's a way to shut off updates, but I'm not sure how that's done in Windows 10. I would try googling it.

The sound report on the DAC is that it sounded very soft and indistinct at first. After 11 hours, the sound has opened up a lot but I'm hearing a lot of bass and treble with a more recessed midrange. I'm also hearing an electronic sheen over the music. If I had to make a projection, I think this combination is going to be very highly resolved, like the Magnavox, but even more so.
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Fri Apr 15, 2016 12:48 pm

Greetings Michael, Bill333 and Zonees

The wood blocks in question are 2” x 1.5” x 0.5” in size and here are two pictures of the blocks on each side:



Michael, what wood is this?

Now to Sonic’s latest Tune.

Finally Sonic got down to what I been planning to do for a considerable time – to rearrange the system so all sources (Analog LPs, Analog SPs and Computer Audio) can play with equal convenience and operating safely that is Sonic not tripping over something, coming into contact with high voltage in the amps and leaving this universe in a puff of smoke.

Here is what the system now looks like:



The top of the table carries the Rega P5 and Audio Technica AT 120 LP direct drive TTs as well as the two phono stages, one tubed and the other transistor. Here a 45 rpm EP is being played on the AT 120 LP.

This is the close up of the second tier where resides the Quicksilver preamp and the AUNE X1S DAC. Sonic would like to place a piece of Music Ply from Mr Green over the table under the Low Tone redwood blocks.  I'll discuss this with Coop:



Below this is the EQ box for SPs. It is switched out when playing RIAA records like 45 rpms and Singles and has different settings for non-RIAA records like 78s and pre-RIAA/transitional things.

The placement of the amps and the Paradigm X-30 crossover:



After taking half a day to set this up, including lots of work to clean the accreted dust from the equipment with a fibre brush and a sticky roller from Ikea, Sonic was fearful that all the parts of the consolidated system might interfere with each other and cause an awful jangle.  

It didn’t at all.

After a quick test with digital to ensure everything was working, a few hours of warm up and settling took place before I played the first LP for the evening – the Encounters album of the Swingle Singers with the Modern Jazz Quartet. When I heard the first track Sonic was bowled over by the fullness of the instruments and realism of the voices in spite of the slight distortion of the 1960s Philips LP.  This was then followed by Bert (Jansch) and John (Renbourn)…nice version of Mingus’ Goodbye Pork Pie Hat for two acoustic guitars.  

And Sonic soon realized I had got it right this time. Several 45s and SPs followed on the other turntable – it is a simple Audio Technica AT95e tracking at 2.2 gms. And I enjoyed everyone of these.

Sonic is hearing good tone, voices projecting well with natural articulation, strings have sweetness.  I am now playing Peter Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings (Neville Marriner, Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields/Decca). This is great!

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:11 pm

Hi Sonic

Are those smaller wood blocks smooth or a little rough to the touch? Sorry for all the questions, just trying to remember the wood and batch.

When I picked out the wood I got them at different stages of cut, raw cut, rough cut and select cut. These are 3 different saws and different speeds. It's hard to tell by the pic which one is which. I treat them all different (sanding, baking and finish)


thanks

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Sat Apr 16, 2016 8:13 am


Hi Michael

The wood is completely smooth to the touch.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:21 am


Hi Michael

Have you figured out what wood that is?

Hi Bill333

How is the Aune X1S and the ASUS laptop getting along? I suppose you are using Aune freebie USB 2 cable for now?

Hi Zonees

This weekend Sonic attended two live concerts by a period instrumental and vocal group, having the opportunity of listening up very close to instruments like baroque gut-string violin with period-style bows, viola da gamba, percussion, recorders and voices.

After the concerts Sonic rushed back to my system and put on similar recordings -- Spanish pilgrim songs, music by D Buxtehude and such.

I was fearing Sonic's system will sound very pale after hearing the real thing.

As I listened, this system honoured the music and sounded sufficiently close so that the "musicality of the real event" was transmitted into my room. In fact Sonic could hear that Archiv and Decca and co have captured the sound of the gut-stringed instrument family very well. The zones that were lacking was in the hair-trigger transients from the harpsichord, hammered dulcimer, metal percussion. My system rounded off the edges of these sounds.

Other than that, this is sounds good. And from hearing the live sound in a Church sanctuary I can hear how the sound (as Michael says) is built up of spheres upon spheres of harmonics.

The digital files sounded very good, and when we got to vinyl... Shocked Very Happy cheers

Sonic
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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Sun Apr 17, 2016 8:11 pm

Hi Sonic,

The short answer is: very well.  For the longer answer, please have a look at the latest postings on my thread.

Yes, I'm using the freebie cable for now, and maybe for a good while.  No need to fix what isn't broken. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:48 am


Hi Bill333

Good to study your progress and observations. As for the Aune USB cable, you might never need to change it for something that costs more and serves only more colouration. This USB cable is of a straightforward design and sounds honest to me.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:46 am

Hi Michael and Zonees!

Sonic finds it is a good thing to take a walk thru Michael's Tuneland and Techno-Zone sites occasionally.  There is usually some things to look at from new angles and learn. Like this which Sonic found from Michael as he discussed his pillow products:

Michael writes/says/elucidates:

In this particular case I think it's a good idea to look at what diffusion is according to Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion

"In the audiophile world many myths have been created, the good of acoustical diffusion is one of them. First off they could have used a better word cause diffusion refers more of spreading out, and the way some acoustical companies are doing "their" form of diffusion is to make waves disembodied. The audiophile world talks about killing waves or causing them to break up. Where does this help the sound? The idea of an acoustical space is to support the sound pressure not destroy it." mg VH1 interview 2004

take a look



Above you see audiophile diffusion in action. How are the waves shaped coming out of the speakers? Spherical. What happens to the waves when they hit a diffuse wall?

this times a couple hundred



the uniformity is lost



Dampening the room can be just as bad.

As bad as diffusion is, the opposite end of acoustics "dampening" can cause just as much distortion. The idea of the room as amplifier falls apart the more direct dampening you have in the room. The way to control a room without losing acoustical signal is to implement an acoustical barricade system. Simply put, don't have the speaker created soundwaves absorbed without an acoustical membrane between the dampening and the listener."



------------------------------------------------------------


Sonic thinks this is good stuff from Mr Green.  The audiophile world looks at room acoustics as straight lines (get a friend to move a mirror along a wall, when you see your speaker baffle from your listening seat, apply DAMPING to that spot on the wall), absorption and diffusion.

We Tunees know that the straight-line mirror is a flawed idea, that once you use kill the harmonics with absorption, they are gone and you cannot get them back.  So absorption destroys music.

Sonic has a few questions for Michael:

1. Can you describe the sound of a room that replies on Diffusion for acoustical treatment?  Paint a "word picture" of what Pix 2 sounds like.

2. What is your view of acoustic Traps to control bass boom and resonances? (These are usually cylindrical or rectangular devices lined with fibreglass wool, mostly empty, covered by fabric -- can be quite large, for bass trapping you end up with objects 22 inches in diameter and nearly 5 feet tall) What does a room that looks like an ancient Greek temple with vertical columns of those cylindrical acoustic traps placed along the walls round the room sound like?  Is there a role for acoustical traps in room tuning?

Oh yes, one more question -- what wood is that block made from?

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:57 pm

Oh yes, one more question -- what wood is that block made from?

mg

Ever try to use different fingers after hurting your main typing ones Exclamation ouch affraid That's what I'm going through Laughing Yes, I'm a one or two finger picker Rolling Eyes but I try Smile

The wood is a smooth cut (select) white pine.

Q & A's

1. Can you describe the sound of a room that replies on Diffusion for acoustical treatment?  Paint a "word picture" of what Pix 2 sounds like.



mg

Diffused rooms sound lifeless, phasy and disembodied. When you walk around and talk often the sound goes up in your nasal cavity. Most of all though, sounds become missing as the harmonics are without formation.

2. What is your view of acoustic Traps to control bass boom and resonances? (These are usually cylindrical or rectangular devices lined with fibreglass wool, mostly empty, covered by fabric -- can be quite large, for bass trapping you end up with objects 22 inches in diameter and nearly 5 feet tall) What does a room that looks like an ancient Greek temple with vertical columns of those cylindrical acoustic traps placed along the walls round the room sound like?  Is there a role for acoustical traps in room tuning?

mg

Traps are a funny name really, cause like many mis-named audiophile products, trapping is not really what they do. Acoustical traps are really acoustical resonators. Once a pressure zone stimulates a trap they sound off like any resonant box or cylinder. Other than that function they're basically dampeners. I've designed and use several different types of resonators that interact with a room but I tend to lean away from heavier cloths.

What you guys have seen me do is introduce you to pressure boxes, which do a better job than audiophile traps, but in either case you have to know how to make your room become tuned.

Now I do and have designed Pressure Tuners but have been surprised that no one has asked for them yet. I think that our PZC's, RTD's and RTD2's, Sound Shutters, RoomTune and other designs we offer are a lot to learn and use, and someday I would like to show my pressure tuning, but there needs to be folks who might want them more than me. I think sometimes I may introduce things that are harder for people to use or understand and after I do some baiting I back off if no one bites. Pressure Tuners are on my list of products to produce but it's about timing.

I always have more toys than any listener could ever imagine. Smile


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PostSubject: Re: Tuning a New World of Computer Audio Playback   Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:41 am

Greetings Michael and Zonees

So the wood is smooth cut (select) white pine!

Sonic got another mystery wood that came with that pack of a la carte wood years ago:



The second piece has “[logo] WWP ® S-DRY PP-IP” stenciled on it.

This is a pretty wood, smooth in finish and lightweight, rather hard.

The blocks you sent me tend to vary in size a bit more than the Select Smooth Cut White Pine the average size being 2" x 1.75" x 0.75".

What wood is this?

Excellent description from Mr Green on the sound of diffusors.

Now on to Bass Traps.

With Michael’s take on the sound of Bass trap products, let Sonic say what I hear.  I have heard Cylindrical Traps in a system with Quad Electrostatics reinforced with subwoofers and the Cylindrical Bass Traps used were large ones (18 or 20 inchers) set up in the corners of the wall behind the Quads and midway along that wall. Cost the owner a lot bringing them in from the country of origin to Singapore.

Sonic’s take is the traps removed the bloom (the sense of “sphericality”) of the bass. The bass did not float but it had gone tense without bloom.  Yes, the subs went down to 30hz flat but 30hz is in live music is a big note, and while the note was audible on this system without boom or overhang, the bass became like a cardboard cutout and tiny. So the brain, of one accustomed to live musick, would whisper “this is not right, it is not real”.  

Is this what you hear with bass traps, Michael?

Since no one asked Michael, Sonic puts hand up and asks him:

“my room has a somewhat boomy/loose 100 to 120hz and slightly also at 60hz an octave lower.  How can I fix this with resonating boxes or other Tune products?  My bass stops fast everywhere else except at these points.  Tell me what I can do.”

Michael?

Now Sonic has recently carried out a test which is now easy for me to do with a Computer Audio set up -- it is to compare the differences in sound between music ripped to 16 bit/44.1 kHz FLAC and to MP3.

A friend of Sonic’s ripped a number of the Beatles tunes from CD to both FLAC and MP3 and delivered me the files on a thumb drive.  The average replay levels between FLAC and MP3 were matched and we got underway.

The MP3 employed in this case is the High Bit-Rate version rather than the Low-Bit Rate version used on internet radio that a competent listener should be pick out in a moment.

After playing tracks back and forth a few times, Sonic thinks that the differences between FLAC and hi-bit rate MP3 are somewhat small under conditions where the recordings are unfamiliar and the listening done is brief and non-critical.

By non-critical I mean like when listening to a car stereo where your expectations are not high.  In such cases, MP3 will be ok and enjoyable.

On further testing with more concerted listening and comparison, the differences Sonic heard were:

a.     Love Me Do -- the trill on Lennon’s harmonica playing at the start was blurred and obscured on MP3.

b.     A Day in the Life -- soft sounds with treble content like the percussion in the first stanza and the alarm clock in the bridge are more prominent (louder) with MP3 than FLAC. Might this be higher treble distortion from MP3?

c.     On both “Love Me Do” and “A Day in the Life”, the bass guitar on MP3 was more projected and “insistent” through an emphasis in the upper harmonic structure.  This makes McCartney’s bass apparently louder on MP3 than on the FLAC version but the tonality of bass on FLAC was fuller in the low-end and more “correct” and on MP3 slightly “honky” .

d.    A Day in the Life -- the orchestral crescendo with FLAC lets me hear the various sections of the orchestra playing to create the effect while on MP3 it is a “wash of sound”

Again I have to say that while these differences are present, if Sonic were to walk into an audio showroom and high bit rate MP3 was playing rock and pop, on an unfamiliar system, a casual listen might not lead me to say “Ha!MP3!”

In fact, the thought it was MP3 might not be the first thing that comes to mind, maybe the second after looking at the source equipment, the audio chain and the room.  However on classical music, the difference should be more telling given how the orchestra on A Day in the Life sounded phasey and turned into “generic orchestra wash sound. In this test, no classical music was used.

Do other Michael and Zonees concur with these impressions?

Sonic


Last edited by Michael Green on Fri Apr 22, 2016 11:15 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Added text)
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