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 Robert Harrison's Tunable System

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Michael Green
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PostSubject: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Tue May 04, 2010 5:11 pm

Hi techno-zone

Welcome to Robert Harrison's thread on his tunable system. You will find the beginning of Robert's system in Tuning under "Drop ceilings: good or bad".

http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/tuning-f2/drop-ceilings-good-or-bad-t41.htm.

Join us as we convert Roberts setup into a tunable setup.

thank you

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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Wed May 05, 2010 3:24 pm

Hello, everyone,

The fun will begin this summer when a pair of Mr. Green's Proto 6 speakers will replace the Magnepans. Despite my earlier posts claiming I had no interest in putting acoustic products on my walls (due to laziness), the last few weeks poring over posts on Tuneland have convinced me that the time has come get over my paranoia about having all those tuning bolts to tweak. Like Sonic, when I get in the mood to experiment, I can't stop for ages! At least now, I'll have some truly marvelous toys to work with.

Along with the speakers, Mr. G will be sending me platforms to put them on (with accompanying stands) as well as a platform for the Depth subwoofer; 8 PZCs; one tuning panel; a set of Cable Grounds; some Picasso interconnects; a pair of Bare Essence speaker cables; some Harmonic Springs; an assortment of Magic Wood; and a partridge in a pear tree). Laughing

In the meantime, I will ingrain the sound of my reference CDs and DVDs into my brain, so's I can hear the expected mighty big difference when my tuning adventure begins for real.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Fri May 07, 2010 12:52 pm

Hi Robert and Michael

Wonderful! You're on the path to really great sounds. What are Proto 6s? I find nothing on them in the Product Listing.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Fri May 07, 2010 6:24 pm

Hey, Sonic,

Other than the fact that Mr. G calls these satellite speakers, with a smaller diameter woofer than the 3 Proto models shown here on Tuneland, I myself don't know exactly what they look like. Frankly, it's the first I have heard of them myself. Of course, he's always coming up with something new, God bless him! Creative minds are always in motion.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Fri May 14, 2010 11:42 pm

Hi Guys

I wanted to pop in and say hi quick. I'm spending most of my time sanding and finishing wood for Bill333's tunable room. This is definitely the summer for systems as I've been picking up wood for several of you guys.

Wish I had 8 hands and 72 hr days about now but I'm having tons of fun.

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PostSubject: The doctor is in   Sat May 15, 2010 11:00 am

Not many of you know that Mr. Green is also a doctor.

Yes, that's right. When wood becomes ill, it heads to Dr. Green's office to be CURED! (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!)
Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Wed May 19, 2010 11:53 am

Hey, Tune fans,

I was considering what the effects will be of having a wall panel behind my listening chair. I realized that I could get sort of a preview of same by using those two 11" by 47" shelves (standing upright via the use of makeshift feet). They were recently positioned halfway between the rear of my speakers and the front wall, angled slightly toward the listening position. I moved them behind my chair and put them next to each other.

It seems the immediate result was to show me that I needed to reset the phase control on my subwoofer, which had been at 0 degrees. Otherwise, the soundscape merely stretched across the room from speaker to speaker. It didn't sound bad, mind you, but there was no depth at all.

My sub doesn't have a continuously variable phase control, but unlike most models, it adds 90 degree and 270 degree settings to the standard 0 degree and 180 degree options. I am currently going with 270 degrees and the depth is back. Occasionally, I can feel a bass wave bounce off those shelves and pass through me heading back to the front of the room.

I also purchased a cheap power strip from Walgreens (an American chain of drug stores, for you folks in other lands who aren't familiar with that name). I now have my Blu-ray/DVD/CD player, pre-amp, amps and television hooked up to this instead of the Monster Cable power strip which was much bigger and bulkier. I loosened the screws and I must report a definite sonic change for the better. I will report more on this after a few days of burning and settling in.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu May 20, 2010 10:40 pm

Very nice, keep up the learning it will come in handy.

got to go back to curing now

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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Fri May 21, 2010 11:42 pm

Thanks for the encouragement, Mr. Green.

Last night, I moved the "partition" (the upright shelves) an inch closer to the back of my chair. I experienced the return of that "subteranean bass" that I lost when I elected to re-insert the ceiling panels. I have been watching episodes of a sci-fi/action teleseries on DVD called "Firefly." In some scenes, the dialog can be bass heavy, probably a function of the set it was recorded on. At any rate, last night there was a scene set in a spaceship's engine room, and there was some doodad device with rotating parts. When these parts rotated toward the camera, there was a very low bass "whoomph" that was felt more than heard, which is what I prefer to what you get in most movie and home theaters, where the bass tends to boom and call attention to itself.

That said, I may have to make some adjustments as dialog spoken by the male cast members also caused a rumble in that cavity below my chest. That could be a byproduct of the sound mix. Then again, if I don't like it, that's what tuning is all about, isn't it?

The majority of the soundscape appeared to be coming from the rear half of the room, so after a couple of episodes of "Firefly," I put on the XLO CD to see what happened with music. The stage returned to the front half of the room (mostly, allowing for ambience, you know).

On the mono out-of-phase track of "Stormy Weather," that blasted right rear wall splash is still evident, moreso when I turn my head 90 degrees to the right. However, with the partition in place, when I turn my head 90 degrees to the left, I hear the out-of-phase energy bouncing directly off the partition, unless I move my head slightly to and fro (or should I say left to right), in which cases the sound bounces back to the front of the room.

My descriptive powers are weak, but the tone and character of the sound is otherwise different than it was just a few days ago. On the "Pure Moods" New Age collection, I notice the echoes more. As I said, the majority of music I listen to is "heavily produced," shall we say, not quite like listening to recorded concerts. The XLO CD does have some recorded orchestral and ensemble music, and I hear differences for the better on those, too. (Those particular tracks are HDCD encoded, and since my outboard D/A converter which had an HDCD decoder is shot, I have been using the internal D/A in the Panasonic Blu-ray player, so I reckon I have to allow for those tracks to not be presented optimally.)

Anyway, Tune fans, notice that we are talking about moving a couple of MDF boards an inch, corresponding with what I have read hereabouts with even moving a little sliver of Magic Wood a touch.

VIVA LA TUNE!
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sat May 22, 2010 12:29 am

Hi Robert

Have some MGA Platforms here with your name on them. cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sat May 22, 2010 9:59 am

cheers INDEED!

But, please, don't work yourself too hard. How's your health these days?
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PostSubject: Blast from the past   Sun May 30, 2010 3:50 pm

Hello, there, zonees,

Aside from the wealth of information available hereabouts, I do like to do web searches for other Michael Green trivia. Just yesterday, I came across a thread from 8 years ago in the AVS FORUM ARCHIVE. It can be found under THEATER ROOM IDEAS/TWEAKS AND DO-IT-YOURSELF/MICHAEL GREEN'S APARTMENT SYSTEM!!!

Before I lose my place there, I wanted to copy over some great pieces of advice in my thread here so I can go back to them for reference when I'm feeling antsy:


In my last post, I told you I was going to talk about some of the other inherit problems with setting up my apartment system. One of them is me and my lack of patience. I, like every other audiophile, have a desire to get to the end result. But, sure enough, my third day of listening came along and everything changed. I put on some of my simple pieces of music and thought I was listening to different instruments. Even though I was glad that my changes to the room/system were minimalist, I could just imagine the problems I could have gotten myself into by not letting my system get to it's first level of maturity before making further serious decisions.

...I was also at the same time breathing over this "newness sound" (maybe another new word for my glossary -- "newness sound"). Those of you who are experienced listeners know this sound well, it is the worst nightmare an audiophile can go through. Yes, everything is clean and when it is clean, inexperienced audiophiles automatically say that it is better, but these are not the things that I listen for. I listen for particular cues that can only take place after a system has a certain amount of harmonic balance.

...I let the system play for approximately five hours before sitting down and listening again. What I could hear was interesting. Yes, there were changes. Was I thrilled? Naahhh, no big deal. So I have decided to follow my own advice which is don't take "serious" any new change in your system for 3 days…AT LEAST!

And here is something from that same thread which Mr. Green did back in those Nashville days. Even though he changed it a couple of days later, I decided to try the same thing last evening. I won't comment on it until the requisite 3 days have passed:

My immediate listening area is cool because of one specific thing that just kind of happened. My rack, my speaker tuning boards and my SAM and chair are all sitting in pressure zones and all of the pressure zones are the secondary zones. My coffee table/foot rest is sitting at the edge of the center node. I started looking at the positioning of where the rack was and noticed that the rack was closer to its main wall than I was to the SAM. So I picked up the rack (yes by myself -- can you say the words "pain pills"?) and moved it from 4 inches off of the back wall to 12 inches off of the back wall. AMAZING! (By the way now my rack, my speakers, and my ears all strangely enough, are the same distance from their respective walls + or - and inch and a half). The linearity and tonal balance between the instruments in front of my stage and my back became instantly balanced and I automatically gained another two notes on the bottom end.

I would also like to point out that my 1 a.m. sleepy time has expanded to 2, 3 or sometimes past 4 a.m. Yes, I still "conk out" a lot during a movie or CD (and I have been listening to more music than I have in years), but when I wake up, I go back to the point where that I last recall being at and play through to the end. Then, maybe I put something else on.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Wed Jun 02, 2010 1:26 pm

Hi Robert

Yes, time is the key to all things audio. We tend to rush things instead of letting things happen. I hear this every day as I make my way into the finishing area of my place or places. I'm fanatical about spaces! and what it means to voice a space/system.

Quick fix in the reality of music just is not doable. Oh if we only had a time machine right. But then again there is so much to learn by the 1/4" method you are using along with the art of settling.

For me the fresh smell of wood is the reminder of how far I have to go before a system is voiced.

I'm enjoying your path

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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sat Jun 05, 2010 11:17 pm

And on the third day, this is what I heard...

I listened to 2 New Age compilations. I detected new textures to some instruments. At the end of one track, a voice echoed back and forth just behind my head, and that particular effect never happened before.

So, the next night, I listened to a compilation of SONGS, you know, with singers and lyrics. There wasn't much of that with the New Age stuff. After the fourth track, I changed the setting of the phase control on my subwoofer because I was having difficulty with speech intelligibility. I have heard these songs over and over through the years, so something must be causing this deleterious effect.

A change from 270 degrees to 180 degrees cleared that up fairly well, to the point that I listened to ALL the tracks this time through. Then, just for shits and giggles (as Austin Powers would say), I changed the setting to 90 degrees and listened to the whole CD again.

Intelligibility was still good, but added in to the equation now was more room filling depth and a couple of instances of that subterranean bass I like so much.

The next evening, I listened to the CD titled "Blood" by This Mortal Coil. All the songs are cover versions of other material, but these tracks are interspersed with original instrumentals, most of them with voices and other sound effects. Still sounded pretty good.

Last night, I re-watched a George Clooney sci-fi movie titled "Solaris." GREAT sound mix on this title, folks. When I viewed it last week (with the sub set at 280 degrees phase), I noticed the gongs in the musical score (I couldn't tell if they were real gongs, electronic gongs or real gongs treated electronically, Brian Eno style) were dancing around my head, but they exhibited an "overbearing" quality, as if the signal was being overdriven. Towards the end of the film, there is a big bass thump that occurs a few times in a row, which at that time sounded as if it was coming from off the entirety of the front wall and a bit "rough" in character.

The viewing last night, with the phase control still at 90 degrees, had the gongs sounding more "civil," and those bass thumps just "were," in other words, they seemed to appear at my seating position as one quick wave (hopefully the way they were intended to sound). Also, early in the film, as Clooney is walking down the street, a jet plane can be heard. On my first viewing, it was simply part of the mix. Last night, however, it sounded as if it was flying towards the front right corner of my room.

However, as with episodes of the teleseries "Firefly," I noticed on "Solaris" that I was getting a chest cavity massage from male voices and in some scenes, dialog lost some intelligibilty to this preponderance of bass, although I'm still not sure if this a "room tone/recorded on the set" effect.

I must confess, I'm still not sure how to best integrate the sub with the mains. Should I use the internal test tone in the Marantz pre-pro, use a test tone CD, or just go it by ear, as far as level? When I moved the sub from behind me to the front right corner of the room, I didn't adjust the volume control on the unit. It hasn't been calling attention to itself, as has happened in the past, so I've been skittish about making adjustments. In fact, I still haven't switched over to the Marantz's crossover. I'm still using the one in the sub.
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PostSubject: Setting up my subwoofer   Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:59 am

Hi Robert

This is roughly how Sonic set up my system subwoofer system:

Step 1
Using the Paradigm X-30, main system bandpass at 80 Hz, sub woofer cut off frequency set around the same point on the dial, phase at either end of the adjustment (not critical at the start), play some music with lots of bass content and set subwoofer output level approximately but on the slightly exaggrated side

Step 2
Play music with repetitive bass content and/or a steady 1/3 octave pink noise tone in the woofer operating band like 60hz (I have made a CD of test tones at various frequencies each lasting 20 seconds). Do not use sine tones as these interact with the room that a slight head movement will throw the level off.

Have someone (you must be in the listening chair) swing the phase control quickly then slowly to find the point where there is most bass. This is when your speakers and the subwoofer is pumping bass in phase. Mark this position. If you ever move your panels or the subwoofer, this will have to be done again.

Step 3
Play music and listen if there is excessive bass or too little bass round the crossover point. If there is too much lower the subwoofer cut off frequency a little. If the crossover zone is weak, raise the woofer cutoff frequency. This applies only to crossovers that give the flexibility of having a fixed main system bandpass and a variable subwoofer cutoff frequency. The Paradigm X-30 is one but there are other good ones too.

If your bandpass and subwoofer crossover points are fixed at the same frequency, skip this step but you may never optimally adjust your subwoofer as a result.

Sonic used both my ears with 1/3 octave band test tones and a sound level meter to test this along with musick.

Step 4
Set the master subwoofer level control. I used music and a 1/3 octave band pink noise at spot frequencies test referenced to 1 kHz using a meter but letting my ears make the final decision. I tested spot frequencies all the way down to 20 Hz. After trimmin in, my system has output within 2 dB referenced to 1kHz at 25Hz and useable output below 20hz.

All this took a couple of hours and since then, the settings have not had to be varied. Was very easy compared to when I used the Janis Interphase 1A crossover which I never could set right because of the fixed crossover points. I always ended up hearing the sub, and when I turned it down, all the sub-low freqeuncies disappeared too.

With the X-30 in use, people listening say "those panels can shake the room with those organ notes....whoa...by the way, why do you keep that funny wooden box with the torn veneer in the corner?" Heh, heh...

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:00 pm

Hey, Sonic,

Thank you for your sub integration tips. The Marantz pre-pro has a fixed 80hz crossover, so that is what I will be working with.
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PostSubject: Subwoofer Placement   Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:11 am

Hi Robert

Hope you get your sub set up properly. Musick is wonderful when you get another octave or more of repro. The realism is worth the effort.

One thing Sonic didn't touch on is subwoofer placement. I found the best spots to be in the front corners of the room. The most problematical placements is having the sub at any mid point -- either across or along the room. Peaks and valleys start developing big time.

In my experience, Sonic has not heard a good implementation of a sub midway between the two main speakers. The ones that worked were always in the corners. Behind my listening chair, that I haven't tried it but Michael seems to have done OK with it if you look at some pictures of his old AV system in the archives.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Fri Jun 11, 2010 11:31 am

Hey, Sonic,

Since you mentioned placing subs in the middle of room boundaries, I'll just bring up that there was a fellow who wrote a lot of articles for magazines (who shares my initials). His recommendation was for 3 subs, one placed in the middle of the front wall, a second in the middle of a side wall, and the third a quarter of the way in on the rear wall. His theory was that the peaks and valleys caused by these individual placements would somehow cancel each other out in total.

Gee, one would have to have a lot of money for that many subs. Then there's getting all those suckers time aligned to your seating position. I have enough trouble just working with one!

This fellow was also an advocate for placing the seating position in a third or a fifth of a room's dimensions (length and width) and, to compensate for peaks of resonances at these areas, to place the main left and right speakers in corresponding sixths or tenths, where nulls of the third and fifth resonances would smooth out the frequency response.

For the center channel (home theater, of course), he said to put that speaker a tenth of the room's width off center to avoid having to deal with the peaks and valleys found at room center. What I always found sort of counter-productive to his technique was his suggestion to pretty much say "screw it" with surround speaker placement: use dipoles placed directly to the sides of the seating position, more or less in the THX manner.

The man stated that this technique only works for direct radiating speakers (not counting the surrounds). I used this technique, but "modified" for the dipolar Maggies by seating myself on a third of the room's length (where I still am) and the Maggies also on the third, assuming that since they work opposite the way direct radiating speakers do, that this would provide the best frequency response. At one time, I also had my chair at a third of the width, but I didn't care for the off center phantom image. I tried to compensate for that with my outboard digital delay, but eventually went back to sitting dead center.

You have read how I tried nearfield listening for a while, then wound up putting the chair and speakers back pretty much where I have had them for the last few years. Maybe I'm just used to what I hear in these positions. Maybe, even, that's the best I can do with my system as is, i.e. with no help from PZCs and such.

Of course, won't it be interesting to see what changes will occur when Mr. Green's Care Package arrives. As far as that goes, I will say for the benefit of "guests" who check in occasionally, wondering why I am still waiting for same, that with Mr. Green, you have to think of those old wine ads with Orson Welles. To paraphrase: "Mr. Green will sell no speakers (or any item) before their time." Just a vote of confidence Mr. Green that I know you are doing what you do best for me and for all others, using your God-given talents to make the best products you know how to, and not just slapping something together so's you can "get it out by Friday."

In the meantime, I keep myself amused with experiments. My latest involves some rectangular mylars with graphics that we use at the theater I work at to advertise movies (for films that have come and gone recently). I have taped a bunch of these together to drape over the backrests of the 2 fabric recliners which flank my listening chair to cut down on the burn factor. Let's see what that will do...
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:19 pm

Hi Robert

These days running back in forth to the work space (till I move in) has tested my schedule so it is nice to stop and read your adventures.

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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Mon Jun 14, 2010 4:32 am

Hey, everybody,

I forgot to mention that I changed my sub's phase to 180 degrees. As always, a few days will tell the tale if something works or not and 90 degrees didn't cut it. I am still evaluating the mylar seatback covers.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sat Jun 19, 2010 11:31 pm

It's very hard for me to live without seat covers since I've gotten use to them. It's important though that you find the right materials for your ears.

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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sun Jun 20, 2010 1:30 pm

It was difficult for me to tell any difference with the seat covers. After a few days, I moved my listening chair forward one inch and THEN started to hear some differences. Last night, I listened to one of my all time favorite CDs, "Blood" by This Mortal Coil. It immediately grabbed me and surrounded me, with some parts sounding like that "remix" thing I was discussing with Sonic.

At first, on the "Pure Moods" New Age compilation, I noticed how I was hearing the percussion more than previously. It just seemed to fill in and meld better with the other stuff.

However, there are a couple of items on other recordings which aren't coming through as they did in days gone by. In video, there is such a thing as "below black," but I don't believe there is such a thing in audio as "below audible," so I still have some work to do. Specifically, there is track on a Windham Hill compilation which begins with something that sounds like a dove humming. That didn't come through at all the last time I listened to that track. And on the XLO Test CD, there is a track which begins with someone counting out "One...Two.." Through the years, I have had times where the "Two" is audible and other times, such as currently, where it gets lost.

Regarding that preponderance of chest tones on some scenes in the film "Solaris" and episodes of "Firefly," I have not come across the same in other flicks I have watched recently, so those instances must have been in the respective mixes.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Jul 15, 2010 5:28 pm

Here's what I've been doing the last few weeks...WORKING! Summer hours at a movie theater are long and hot. Of course, when compared to Mr. Green's workday, I really have nothing to complain about...EXCEPT it gives me less time to watch movies and listen to music.

At any rate, I finally took the covers off the Outlaw amps, and I only knicked one wire when cutting off the tie wraps. I did leave the tie wraps on the capacitors (if that's what those four battery-looking things are) because I was afraid they might go rolling around, though I'm probably wrong about that.

I changed the phase setting on the sub once again. It's now at 0 degrees.

I put a 1x4 inch piece of board on top of the pressure box in the front left corner. I can't tell if that does anything or not. Maybe if I remove it after a couple of weeks, then it will tell me something, eh?

Latest thing was to move the speakers once inch forward.

I can once again hear the "dove humming" on the beginning of that one track on the Windham Hill compilation. I still can't hear the guy call out the "two" of the "one...two" at the beginning of that track on the XLO CD. Otherwise, triangles have a nice ping to them now and I notice differences in voices. Fascinating stuff, as always.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:16 am

Drivers are on the way.

It's been a busy, tiring summer that seems to never end. I've added to my source of drivers to play with while I make systems for everyone. I need to talk about my recent work on my thread when I get to it.

take care

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PostSubject: Am I finally hearing harmonics?   Sat Sep 11, 2010 4:57 pm

Not been doing much except the occasional moving of a speaker or my chair an inch here or there. Musically, things were getting sweeter, but, in the grand tradition of "six of one, half a dozen of another," I have been subsequently losing girth, something Sonic is always on a quest for.

Two nights ago, I played a song compilation that I have not listened to in this room, usually only playing it in my car. After hearing each song, I moved the speakers one inch further forward towards the center of the length of the room. Then, I listened to all tracks again.

It seemed the phantom center had shifted off to the left a bit, something I have always struggled with. I thought my last chair move had taken care of that, doggone it. Also, there was new pressure on my ears, which has happened a couple of other times this summer. When I experience this, it usually means the room is saying, "Hey, you're getting closer, Bub!"

Last night, I played one of my New Age compilations and noticed what I believe to be more harmonics, if I (yet) understand what Mr. Green has always said about such. If harmonics enable one to better delineate the sound of one instrument over another, with said instrument sounding more "real," then that seems to be what I was hearing last night. I look forward to listening to more music to see how it may sound better or different. For a guy who wanted to spruce up the sound of motion picture soundtracks, I really have been listening to music more than ever lately.

I wonder if part of the settling aspect of tuning is also letting one's ears get used to the pressure changes wrought by same?
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