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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Fri Jan 22, 2010 4:11 pm

Hi Sonic

I think my favorite definition of the word axis is " a main line of direction, motion, growth, or extension". I like this more than the straight line approach. Reason being hard walls react so different from walls that give more flex and body to the note structures.

It's very important to treat different rooms differently. In flexible rooms sound moves more like a wide spread movement or wave where as in hard rooms frequencies have a tendency to sound like they are moving in groups of range. When I heard your description my mind immediately went to hard room mode.

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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:51 pm

Hi Michael

Good point you made on Sonic's discovery. You are right...all my listening has been done in relation to systems set up in with hard walls, concrete floors and ceilings with lots of glass - typical of homes in this part of the world.

But I heard a system in Australia in a house with walls of drywall. The gear was Magneplanars (SMGs or MMGs) with a 200w amp, a music server system and a subwoofer (REL, I think) and it had a mid-bass warmth that I rarely heard in my town. Considering the system was not tuned or modded, it was very satisfying to hear.

With the concrete rooms here, the sound can take on a hard and detailed edge and a sort of suck-out in the the upper bass/lower-mids that is typical of some USA-designed multi driver speakers that are described as analytical and clean/clear.

Sonic has thought that "analytical" and "clean" are colourations as much as "boomy", "bright" and such. But faced with the detailed sound, audiophiles try to correct it with carpets and absorbers and while this can reduce the glare, it makes the sound go dead. The Tune keeps the liveliness while rounding out the frequency balance and imaging. Come to think of it, Sonic has found that the sound in rooms may not just have an axis but a "direction of rotation" that pulls the images around and biases them to the Left or Right. The Tune can balance these out using Shutters and PZCs.

Michael's pillow products are a good base to stabilise the acoustics and then a tunee can build on this foundation with shutters, PZCs and to some extent FS RoomTunes to correct image or frequency biasing and create a realistic soundfield.

This evening, I listened to some old mono jazz and pop recordings reissued on CD. Images stayed centred and had girth and did not wander with frequency. I think adjusting the shutters did the job!

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:38 am

Hi Michael

What's a BigStage? Is it described anywhere in your product listing?

Sonic's listening this weekend -- POW!

After using my Shutters to control the soundstage and Left to Right balance, Sonic listened to several CDs including:

Ghazal -- Moon Rise over the Silk Road (Shanachie) -- a truly beautiful recording with wonderfully dimensional voices and instruments and percussion.

Orlando Lassus -- choral works including double choir (Gimmell) -- the twin choirs sounded nearly equally balanced between the right and left soudnstage. Very musical.

Bach -- Chromatic Fantaisa & Fugue etc (Pinnock)

Freddie Hubbard -- Red Clay

In all cases, I heard a better frequency depth which gave instruments and voices girth. And the improved balance and the control of the Pressure Circulation round my room gave a R-L focus and a projected centre image that was very real.

It was one of Sonic's better musical weekends with the Tune. I found that between different recordings, I could use my Shutters to adjust the balance and the image spread between the R and L halves of the stage and then by moving the other Tune gear I could start to shape the sound.

For sure as a newbie most of the shaping move in directions that were no improvements but some settings got some stunning sounds but then on the next CD an hour later, it wasn't quite right so I had to start optimising the sound again .

So there is a dilemma...Sonic can get a relatively good static that suits most recordings or could start getting into Dynamic Tuning that can optimnse each recording....err...beware...here lie dragons...especially since Sonic's listening habit is to choose 3 or so recordings for an evening of musick and listening in series.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Sun Jan 24, 2010 7:02 pm

Hi Sonic

This is the reality we live in Very Happy . Every recording has a code (a signature) that must be tuned in to reach the musics content. Whether you tune or not this signature exist. That is what sets the tune far above any other form of listening.

You always have the choice with the tune. Set your system to play all or tweak in every moment. It is the only method that offers you both. It makes me enjoy the music more even when I don't tweak in a piece cause I know I can change that any time I want.

Think of it world, a system that does it all cheers

A system that does it all. This is high end to me.

enjoy

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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:15 am

Hi Sonic

Sorry, the BigStage is the 24" X 48" half PZC half Deluxe RoomTune that didn't make it to the show last week but is part of the new line up. The SoundStage family of products are light weight easy to use pressure zone barricades. The front facing is a .25" thick tuning sheet with our paint/poly mix. Behind this is a cured Brazilian Pine frame partially filled with RoomTune burner. The back of the unit is ported allowing the acoustical energy to enter in and not come back out.

After the first show appearance you will probably see tons of these at the next CES as people were surprised at the control this gave to the rooms. You can get these units hollow so you can add your own filler to meet your personal taste.

Fresh pictures will be posted soon. Drewster will also be publishing pricing.

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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:43 pm

Hi Michael

Sonic got a question that may be of interest to other Zonees too. You advised me on the old Tuneland site that I could sharpen one end of the resitone plastic rods and use that to ground the rack to the shelf/floor.

Now which sounds better – a plastic rod grounded through a sharpened end or with an MTD?

Is the sharpened end a Best Practice or a stop-gap measure since MTDs are not presently available from MGD?

Now on to Sonic’s System 2:
This system with Rogers LS3/5A monitors gives good music and I have been giving it equal time with the Tuned System 1 this week. A certain mental shift is required but once that is done, System 2 is very enjoyable.

The Tuned system lets me be almost part of a performance where real people, instruments are playing in a real space albeit diminished. There is a sense of a very large space that is detached from any visible equipment. System 2 creates an ellipse that is bounded by the speakers and the rear wall. I listen nearfield at the apex of an equilateral triangle. The volume range is not great – the difference between too soft and shouty is very narrow.

Sonic is now listening to Telemann’s Darmstadt Overtures (Cologne Chamber Orchestra) and I am hearing good music. Listeners comment that oftentimes a voice or instrument sounds surprisingly real on this system…which by default may mean the rest of the sound may be artificial.

The Rogers don’t have any low bass, just a bump to create the illusion. Play some Ron Carter on them then compare it to how it sounds on System 1 with the Janis W-1 (that in my room goes near flat to 20 Hz) and hear the difference in scale and weight of the double bass. But on its own the illusion is remarkable. The midrange is incisive and a bit forward which is a requirement for a broadcast monitor so the producer can hear the air whistling between the newscaster’s teeth. And the tweeter goes flat to past 30 kHz. The LS3/5A is a remarkable speaker. And in this non-Tuned set up, it brings on a smile though no one listening to this system asks about where the hidden speakers are.

Sonic plays FM and CD through this system and it is a refreshing counterpoint to the Tuned system. I am looking for a valve amp to drive the LS3/5As and this may take away that shouty coloration that appears when I turn up the volume. But at soft volumes with my mental shift engaged, I can see why generations of audiophiles round the world love this little speaker.

So the Telemann plays on… Smile

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:41 pm

Hi Gang

I thought that I would just go ahead and put up my direct quote since it shows a good representation of my thought process.

"Hi Sonic

I like the sound of the sharpened rod better than the MTD but if the MTD is setup perfectly and a threaded rod is not than it is hard to beat the MTD setup. Here's why. The MTD uses the threads as the transfer and is a low mass connection, plus it makes it easy to balance the rate of transfer. As you have heard when this balance is found the dynamic range increases nicely. At the same time the sharpened rod has an advantage because it is more of a straight line direct contact. I like the idea of the direct contact but it makes things a little more difficult when tweaking with 4 rods. It's easier to adjust the MTDs than a whole rod. A 3 rod system is easier to tweak with sharpened threaded rods than a 4 rod system.

So if I were not worried about my ability to keep equal weight on the rods they sound better than the MTDs but if I don't get it just right than the MTDs win. Hopefully this helps you picture in your mind the pluses of both.

I know that sometimes it must sound like I don't give definitive answers (that can drive a person crazy) but the reason for this is because I find all these different ways that one thing can be better than another if used slightly differently. In my mind I know that a sharpened rod sounds better than MTDs if used right but sounds much worse if used wrong so I try to find the balance between good and best and if most people are going to use something the right way.

With your skills of listening and the tune I know that you will take the time to listen to weight distribution and transfer shifting to one side or the other or front and back. This is a learned art that after a while becomes second nature. So will you personally get better sound with "canopies" using sharpen rods over MTDs? absolutely yes. Will someone else who doesn't get it? maybe, maybe not

being definitive in a tunable world is interesting isn't it

michael"

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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:19 pm

In the old days,

there were 4 monitors that were at the top of the list for station playback. The Rogers, Yamaha, JBL, and AR. Depending on where you went in the world to work on a recording you would find one or more of these at any one given station or studio. All of these monitors were fun to listen to if you are willing to use your imagination to fill in the banks as Sonic alluded to. If you went for dynamics you listened to the Yamaha or JBL, for forward the Rogers, and for laid back (flat) the AR. For me there were also other monitors that gave me inspiration while developing the Studio 5 like the Spica TC-50, and Spectrum 108.

Powered monitors have left me feeling disappointed after a listening session with the exception of a clamped pair of Yamaha HS80M. Outboard power units for me are still the ticket.

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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:45 am

Sonic's System 2 featuring Rogers LS3/5A nearfield monitors


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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:53 am

Hi Michael and Zonees

This is System 2 – a deliberately simple set up as many music lovers may have something like this domestically. The speakers are 6.5 ft apart, toed in so that their axes cross just ahead of me when Sonic is sitting about 6.5 ft from the centerline of the speakers. Yes, that is an old Quad FM3 tuner on the second shelf of the Target stand.

Sonic intended System 2 to be a counterpoint to the Tuned where I deliberately won’t be doing any tweaks or Tuning to the gear or the room but it is turning out that each time an installation choice is made, the approach that is closer to the Tune always produces the better musick. Here are the examples so far:

a. The speaker stands were sand filled. They were heavy and dead and they sounded that way too. Sonic emptied the sand out and the musick came alive.

b. Not using Blu-tack anywhere in the system. Definitely NOT between bottom of the Rogers and the top of the stands. An audiophile tried this with mini-monitors (Sonus Fabers, I think) and the sound sounded damped and made the soundstage one-dimensional. Worse, one other Blu-tacked his speakers to the stand with four blobs in the corners and left it there for a year or more. The stuff oozed and stained the woodwork and when he separated the speakers from the stands, the veneer peeled off in one or two corners….and in the other corners there were stains in the woodwork or bits of Blu-tack embedded in the wood grain. When the speakers were brought to a craftsman for repair and refinishing, it was surprising to see how far and deep the Blu-tack had migrated in the wood. Took a lot of sanding down and staining to put right. This stuff does no favours for the sound and damages the wood.

c. Spikes under the speaker stands and the equipment rack should be used and I am using brass discs about ¾” diameter to protect the floor.

Learnt that the Rogers’ Tygan grilles have to be kept on. Without them, the treble gets prominent and peaky. For the first 5 minutes there is so much more detail but then it gets really irritating with the treble calling attention to itself. But this is not a criticism of the KEF T27 tweeters which go flat past 30 KHz.

All the cables are simple ones (OK there is Bare Essence feeding mains power to the CDplayer). Pure copper mostly and soon some silver but no Network boxes thank you.
The Rogers is a great little speaker and very easy to “hear into” which makes them very good for studio use. Of course the BBC did not intend the LS3/5As for music mix down – the LS5/7s were used for that. But the LS3/5As are clear enough to “hear into and through”. The Yamaha NS1000 and NS10’s are excellent too. System 1 is also very easy to hear into with instruments, voices and ambience both combined and separate enough so sound judgments can be made on relative level and positioning. Many famed studio monitors don’t make this easy.

Sonic heard a system using JBL 4343 monitors. The amps were Brystons (I may have forgotten) and the front end was Ortofon, a Studer A80 an very expensive CD player…maybe a Revox. But while the treble, mids and bass was all there, there was a Black Hole in the heart of the sound that would have made it very hard to balance the instruments and voice because it was all so opaque and one-dimensioned. But that audiophile was using arc-welding cables for speaker cables so I am not baling the JBLs. I won’t mind owning a pair. But there were also earth cables all over the system – red insulated car battery wires. The owner proudly said this was duplicated from a system seen in the Japanese magazine MJ or Stereo Sound.

But this is not to say that light is always best. I was recently trying an interconnect that was 26AWG solid core but it compressed the sound with a nasal colouration thrown in and I have tried other thin solid wires in System 1 and always went back to Michael’s Bare Essence wires….they always honoured the music in the end after the initial fascination with the imbalance of other cables fade off.

On the JBLs, we played lots of recordings including Bee Gees disco at “live” levels. And while the sound was punchy and powerful….transients were explosive at those levels and some would like that for sure. OTH Sonic finds more comfort in System 1 and System 2 at 75 – 78 dB average levels. Yes, I did try the Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive” at the insistence of our retro-pop friend on System 1 and it turned out to be a more sophisticated recording than I thought although it is not Sonic’s cup of tea.

But the JBLs 4343s have a potential that could be unlocked with tube amps, some Tuning and maybe attention to detail. Michael did say that just the angle of a studio tape recorder could affect the sound. If there was consideration for this sort of thing that system could make some wonderful music.

So this evening, Sonic listened to John Jenkin’s Concert Musick for Viols, Jacques Loussier and Dvorak’s Quartets and Bagatelles (Takacs Quartet/Decca). And there was musick…

Sonic
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PostSubject: Monitors   Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:43 pm

Sonic,


I have a soft spot for small monitor speakers and have owned the more recent Spendor 3/5s in a home theater setup tuned by Michael when he lived here in Nashville. After converting to the Tune, I have a Music Ply system including Music Ply 5s collecting dust in my closet which are begging to be used in another room. My step son has a modest recording studio in his home, and he uses Studio 5s, bare essence ics and MGD speaker cables powered by a little Jolida 1301 hybrid integrated like Drewsters. My son is recording young aspiring musicians, who cannot afford the costs of the many recording studios here in Nashville as a part time business.

If I did not embrace my current SET system, I would seriously consider a small monitor system augmented with a subwoofer powered by a lightweight pp tube amplifier and pre-amp or the hybrid Jolida. In fact, I have been thinking of setting up my 5s with the little Jolida in my bedroom.

I agree with your observations about removing the sand from speaker stands. I am currently using lightweight wooden and spiked speaker stands to hold my large but lightweight monitors. Like you, I discovered that the lighter weight stands restored the life to the music as well as aided in imaging and soundstage.

Since we are snowed in here in Nashville this weekend, I will be enjoying music most of the day and evening. I am home alone as my wife, a nurse, is marooned at the hospital, because the icy, snow covered streets are too treacherous to drive around our area.
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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:43 pm

Hi Sonic

First of all Garp be careful in that ice.

Sonic, I was trying to fine the picture that is up on www.tuneland.info of the stand mod for your stand but haven't yet. We did a few for some of the guys as that is a stand I use a lot as well.

You can replace the top and bottom plates with your favorite wood to make huge changes to the monitors. I think what I will do is post on my thread how I set up my new studio 5s maybe it will give you ideas on some fun stuff to do.

As GARP said the Jolida 1301 is heavenly on monitors. For me personally when I am in audiophile mode (which is a hard place for me to stay very long) I like tubes with small speakers better than big ones. Tubes unless hybrid have this funny "run out of gas" sound when used on bigger speakers. I hear this even with high efficiency horns, but on monitors there is this glow (kinda fake sounding of course) that makes things bigger and fun. One of my other favorite audiophile setups for the 5s was with the Counterpoint SA20 hybrid (sadly Counterpoint went under unexpectedly years ago).

Oh, let me just add. I like that you guys (I think everyone should have the chance) are talking about second systems. It's hard for me (probably a guy thing) to only have one system. I've been this way all along. Part of it is the feeling of change when you have different rooms for different moods. I'm the same way with art, I like to sit in different environments at different times. It's a very cool thing to have a musical home instead of just a music room.

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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Fri Feb 05, 2010 1:28 pm

Hi Michael and Zonees!

Tuning is fascinating and though there is the urge among Zonees to list their successful tweaks Sonic thinks that we learn as much from the dud tunes attempts as from the successful ones.

Sonic has been through a lot and this help create a musical-reproduction mindset in my head (with my ears for sure). Here are some things that Zonees may want to think about a bit from Sonic’s experience:

a. Ferrite in any form is a bad thing – on mains cable, interconnects, in circuitry…literally anywhere. In any form, clamps or rollers, even a well known weight encased in nice wood that you place on amps and gear….it dries and bleaches the sound. Music goes dead and shrinks.

b. Transformers or any concentrated weight should be mounted on MTDs or Harmonic Feet and not Harmonic Springs if not top tuned. Sonic mounted the toroidal and the preamp transformers on Harmonic Springs which allowed the transformer to get wobbly. It changes the sound for the worse in a way that is hard to describe. I tried this with the larger transformer of my pre-amp and the toroids of the two main amps.

You just know it is wrong, it is a bitter and restrained sound. If top tuning is done, it will sound great. OTH Sonic found that if the device being lifted is large in footprint for a given weight Harmonic Springs may work – like my amp driving the Janis W-1 is on Harmonic Springs but not top tuned but it is large in contrast to its weight and the toroid is in a mini clamp…you should have heard how bad it sounded when the transformer was on three Springs on the floor.

c. Sonic tried placing RoomTune to block the “first reflection points” beloved of audiophiles. Nope. Though it can sound rather nice by audiophile standards, this approach underperforms what Michael’s gear can do. This goes for first reflection points ahead and behind the loudspeakers including setting a pair of DRTs in front of the speakers at the outer edges angled so the listener sees only the edge of the DRTs. Not bad but you’d say I can get the same performance from all sorts of traps, diffusors, busters, corner controllers and such and be led to wonder what we Tunees and Zonees have been smoking.

d. When applying MW and other wood slices from Michael, thin and large nearly works better than thick and small.

This week, Sonic changed the ½ inch MW block supporting the front of the CD player for a thin MW slice on a Harmonic Spring I stretched to maintain the CD player’s leveling. The sound seemed to increase in volume by two notches up on the pre-amp’s volume control. I kept running back to check CD after CD….

e.The Tune is powerful that we need to be circumspect in what we do. Unless we are very immersed in live music as a reference, it is easy to tune ourselves into a corner. Even though Sonic is into musick performance, I got into a mess too and it after the setting up of System 2 that I found that I had set up my sound to have a recessed midrange to get a sense of bigness. The projection of the Rogers LS3/5As put me right and it took a bit of work but System 1’s mids are now projecting better with more perceived volume.

For this reason Sonic will not be tuning System 2 because I might bias everything in one direction. Best to have a counterpoint where System 1 and 2 can be used to cross check what I am doing and keep moving to the light of real sound rather than some imagined state. System 2 will be set up to “moderate audiophile practice” without going over board to give Sonic an alternative sound presentation.

f.Sonic is working on creating a balanced frequency response environment that is roughly equal in each quadrant of the room. The Tune can reveal that the frequency and transient response in different parts of our rooms can differ and this can cause sound images to cluster or pop up in odd places….Sonic wonders how many Zonees who are into rock and pop hear images in one place when listening to their speakers and then in a different position when listening off headphones…

Michael, Garp, Drewster any views?

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:39 am

Hi Sonic

my 2 cents (sense)

a. right on the money

b. it's hard for me to even listen to that concentrated sound any more so for this reason I use almost all super light weight products in my own systems

c. first reflection is an audiophile myth along with many things that audiophiles have tried to come up with magical theories on (some of them funny but not true) your approach to the room is much more satisfying

d. I find that different wood and sizes depends on a person's particular building construction many times (finding the system that works for your environment is key)

e. my systems are so tunable and light weight that I don't run into the same difficulties in areas where other people do

note: I think that when I went totally tunable I found that high end left little for me to look at and study. I like the sound of the fake high end perspective (short term at best) but I realize that this is not reality. On the other hand variable tuning is a reality I can get my ears around. In the coming weeks you guys will see me put together a little system that will blow your minds. It will feature my new ultra light weight rack, the new mini mods, a super light weight receiver, my cable, cable grounds (new finish), light weight DVD, mini tunepak, roomtune art, sound shutters, and I might throw in a couple of my all new roomtune deluxe floorstanders. This system I would easily take over any system that had a mass problem (no matter how small). Mass congestion throws everything out of wack and makes a system so that it can't fully combine balance in staging and tonal range clarity.

Not to be too critical here but the only weird thing I see that sticks out to me about your 2 systems is that you still have 2 audiophile "fixed" speakers battling out their differences. Neither one can (at this point) give you the full picture so I wouldn't go too far out on the limb when comparing them as one referencing the other. Both of those speakers (I have owned and like both models) have mass and or vibration issues that dictate certain locked in characteristics that are hard to get away from if not tuned out. BTW If you ever want to experiment I would be happy to send you (you pay the shipping) one of my smaller tunable speakers to play with and write about the difference between fixed and tunable. I think you would find the flexibility quite refreshing especially at your level of the tune. You have the gift of tweak!

f. the room experience is one of my favorite things to do (so many ways to create so many different views)

I always enjoy your findings and look forward to the different adventures you take. So much so that after reading this post I thought it would be really cool to get a mini mod 5, 6, or something close into your system so you could throw it into the evaluating mix. I often wonder how far you would go with that next tuning level under your belt. Maybe I should make a pair that could get passed around for fun to the people who want to play with a tunable speaker and don't have one yet.

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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:12 am

Hi Michael

That’s a great suggestion – loaning Sonic a pair of tuneable mini mods if I pay the shipping. That will inject a fresh perspective into how my systems and rooms interact given all the possibilities tuneable speakers create. Yes, I’ll take this up once my cable grounds and resonate rods arrive and get integrated into the system.

Sonic had a philosophical moment after your last comment on my comparison of how my Magneplanars and Rogers LS3/5As sounded. Come to think of it, such a comparison needs top be approached carefully for many reasons:

a. the speakers are in totally different rooms. One is sort of tuned, the other not.

b. the front-end gear is also very different – one is fairly seriously tuned and other deliberately thrown together in an “audiophile” manner.

c. the characteristics of the speakers are night-and-day. The Maggies have a bass/mid radiating area of about 450 sq inches and a tweeter quasi-ribbon area of about 62 sq inches and drive is sort of distributed over the area. The woofer/mid area of the Rogers is not more than 20 sq inches and the tweeter is a 1¾ incher in area. Maggies are bipolar and have no box, the Rogers has a moderately heavy box with lots of internal damping.

The Maggies are designed for low surface loudness but large wave launch, the Rogers attempts a point source. Neither speaker fully achieves their goals but are good tries nevertheless. The Maggies have energy storage problems in their panels and Michael observes the motion at the top and bottom of the panels are not in step. The Rogers has an almost beamy radiation pattern by comparison and designed for small control booths and close-field monitoring. The cabinets are designed to trap the backwave….oh yes and the crossover is complex with a transformer in there to match the efficiencies of the two KEF drivers.

Add in that I did not synch the volume levels when listening makes the comparison little more than useful in a very cursory sense.

Listening again, the Rogers does display a more prominent mid. But they were designed that way and the comparison in itself does not make it more right or wrong than the Maggies.

Often audiophiles fall into the A-B trap. Compare two things, hear a difference, decide on a subjective preference basis of which is “better” and draw a conclusion. There needs to be more consciousness on Sonic and other audiophile’s part that both devices under test could be flawed and the interactions causing the differences could be very complex.

Then there is the issue of programme material too…..

I remember a dealership pushing a brand of expensive monitors took many in with this trick. First play a recording of a solo acoustic guitar on the planar speaker – say a Maggie or Martin Logan….then switch to the mini monitor. Then the salesman exclaimed “see, what a focused sound these little speakers create…a holographic guitar”. Ditto with female voices. Too often, credit cards were whipped out by the unwary.

Nothing said about width and scale or that everything sounded focused but persistently small…..and the salesman was sure miffed when my listening buddy and I put on the opening bars of Beethoven’s 9th and Copland’s Red Pony. The planars took us closer to the sound of an orchestra playing, the mini monitors caved in within the first 10 bars. The shop was empty when we tried this out of consideration.

So back to Sonic’s system…I may have got a bit more mids into the Maggies but after a few days I started adjusting things like the shutters and MW. A sign that what I did has either extended the Tuning of the system/room or I’ve just injected a flaw into the system that needs unwinding. Let’s see which it is. Sometimes flaws can cause Sonic to seek new solutions which takes me higher up the Tune ladder…or other times, it leads accepting a dead-end has been reached and the selection of reverse gear.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:09 pm

Hi Sonic

As I said earlier I like your style of listening and posting. This latest post spells out clearly the audiophile style of listening and the problems with fixed tuning. I also think that the alluding to the fact that the room is really the speaker and not necessarily the box itself is a biggie. One doesn't have to go too far down the audiophile trail to experience the difference between being able to tune a guitar and not being able to tune a speaker.

Our next few months should be helpful for the listeners to follow along with. I will be sending you a speaker that may not even be your taste (don't know) but one thing that will stick out after a few sessions is how this little speaker will take on the shape of what it is tuned to. I would imagine that you will tune the Mod to fill in the gap between the Rogers and Maggies as well as going off into worlds that neither of the speakers can go.

The Mini Mod 5 is about the same size as the Rogers (give or take an inch). The cabinet resonance goes much lower and the inside is empty as apposed to wall to wall dampening. The Mod has a tuning bar where most speakers put bracing. Their reasoning is to deaden this area whereas mine is to use variable selective tuning. You'll quickly notice that my tuning bar approach gives believable clarity and the sense that no frequency goes wasted. It's much different listening to the plus of energy vs the minus of energy. Dampening distorts the harmonic structure where free resonance amplifies this same structure. Designers have been afraid of my approach thinking that it introduces "noise" to the sound, but they need to take a look at the natural progression of the process of sound and all amplified energy. Amplification of signal is noise if dampened so their argument becomes invalid before they get started. A loudspeaker is an acoustical amplifier. It takes a small signal (less 1db), amplifies it using vibrating parts (between 30 and 120db usually), and reintroduces the signal into the room. With my speakers you will have a chance to hear a speaker introduce sound to the room much like an instrument does.

should be fun!

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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:43 am

Hi fellow Zonees!

Sonic had one of those "what if..." moments as I was looking through the old uneland site. Noticed that Hiend1 remarked that in his highly advanced-tuned system, loosening his speaker cables every 6 inches lost him girth of sound.

I was listening to some Telemann, Lightnin' Hopkins and French 7-string viol musick, and Sonic thought I could do with more girth and my fingers could do with some exercise….so I closed up the loose points in my cables feeding the Maggie 1.5QRs. Played music and Yes…better focus and weight.

This shows that that mildly tuned systems like mine may not be advanced enough for the loosen-every-6 inches-treatment on the speaker cables. Already, Sonic’s system can sustain one cable per electrical pole for the Magneplanars and that should be satisfying enough but this loosening of the cable twist may be one tune too far.

After a few days of settling, it became clear that this tune tweak was beneficial. So Sonic tightened the Type 3 cables feeding the Janis W-1 subwoofer too. Not that big a change but for sure another (small) step forwards. And the improvement was not so much in the bass but in the upper bass and mids – way past where audiophile theory says there should be no effect given the 80 Hz crossover point!

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:21 am

The Trick Of Harmonics!

I will never be able to spend much time in the fixed world. It's lifeless and boring compared to the tuning change you just made. Opening up the bag of harmonic tricks is what this end of the hobby is all about.

Vibrating parts go much further than a crossover point. Amazing isn't it? Tricks like these I did back in my days of touring in live music. There is far more to the tweaking of cable than anyone (including me) knows.

very nice!

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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:10 pm

Hi Michael and Zonees

Sonic has been giving thought to something that is often discussed in audiophile lore – Depth. We hear stuff like “wow! The depth was so good that my soundstage put instruments out of my room into the street!...”, “ I could have sworn some instruments were playing behind others”, “this loudspeaker produces depth….and the moving coil cartridges have depth in spades….the moving magnet didn’t, everything was flat in comparison…”

Sonic heard some live musick this week played by a wonderful Chinese music ensemble. Five performers in all – positioned from Right to Left: viol, recorder, vocalist/wood clapper percussion, lute, banjo (I am using the nearest western equivalents for non-Chinese readers and really, Sonic doesn’t know the names of the instruments beyond the viol being called an Erhu and the lute a Pipa). The performance was unamplified and the musicians were seated in a shallow arc.

This experience has led Sonic to think again about depth and soundstaging. For one thing, image width in many recordings do not resemble the size and proportion of real instruments. And there is also the Soundstage Width-to-Depth ratio which may be function of the system tuning and also the recording. The Question is this: Given the frontal width of your instruments that is reproduced by your system, is the depth you hear for a given recording similar to a real ensemble or is it exaggerated?

In surveying many systems including mine, Sonic has found that the depth to be first dependent on record and then …..Highly Exaggerated in relation to the reproduced width. It don’t occur like this in real life! A jazz group will not have the drummer 25 feet behind the bass and piano.

Sonic listened to the Chinese ensemble with eyes closed for a long time. I could feel the width but even though the performers sat in an arc, there was no depth. Ditto listening to a string quartet. Once you are in the audience, you hear little audible front-back placement of the performers.

In the Chinese ensemble’s case, I could hear relative front-to back separation only on transients when the lute and banjo were plucked hard and even then not as much depth as I hear in audiophile sound systems. For an orchestra, except for the conductor and those on stage, it resolves into a huge wall of sound with a lot more width than depth. A rock band.is also a loud wall of sound with tremendous slam.

I am of course relating this to a live music experience. Sonic has no doubt that some systems place drums in the garden with vocals forward of the speakers and with synthesizers surrounding the listener. If it is pop music, it could have been set up this way by the producer and recording engineer. For sure it is entertaining but a live music event doesn’t sound this way and we are after all trying to reproduce:

a. What is in the pits of the CD, the groove of the LP and the traces of the tape?

b. Apart from highly processed recordings, there was a real event of music in there that has relation to the reproduction process.

Many systems I hear exaggerate depth vs width but there are some who do not. Don’t forget much varies from recording to recording.

From the listening adventures of Sonic, it may be that horn speakers I’ve heard that are most realistic in this respect. With horns there is almost no depth or very little front to back separation of instruments and performers but much more in musical values and realism.

Sonic is thinking that a change of tune emphasis is necessary for my system. Maybe I should work to tune out depth/ambience/ surround and work to get more girth and image size so as to get a realistic frontal width. Be less hung up on ambience behind me lets Sonic focus on tuning for more strength of the instruments and voices in front.

Sonic also needs in this journey to constrain my attitude. It is good to work on the sound and not criticize other peoples’ system. I have been to websites where audiophiles are insulted and lambasted (or anyone who doesn’t agree with the writer). They are called variously audiofools, morons or audioPHILIACs (note the emphasis so as to make the word clearly an insult). Sonic has been to several of these sites read them a lot. After a while it is all an endless stream of mocking and not just of equipment but the owners. This is not right and a mark of arrogance on the part of the writers.

At first Sonic thought that these person(s) have a special insight into sound as it is produced today but soon the web posts full of insults, argumentativeness and aggressiveness is ugly. Then it is good to remember those that who have within their contexts have spoken truths or observed the right things in audio. I can mention off hand the late Gordon Holt who questioned if equipment had a “sound” of their own. And Harry Pearson, who in spite of whatever is said for or against him, rightly noticed that toeing in speakers warped the soundstage and he was the one who pointed that there were images outside the speakers…and Peter Moncrieff who convincingly tested and wrote about sub-harmonics, infra-bass and how a plucked violin string could have significant frequency content of over 45 kHz as well as 5Hz! Ideas who reflected what Michael brought to fruition with the Tune.

So there is so much for us Zonees to learn and though there are many charlatans in audio, we need to be discerning because so much thinking and effort in what went before brought us to where we are today. So to mock Altec, Western Electric, ADC, Garrard or for that matter Sakuma-san, field-coil speakers including modern iterations is arrogance and one-sideness. It is good that Tuneland and the Techno-Zone has been free of this this trade in invectives.

There is much more for Sonic to digest and I found some possible tunes this weekend that may decouple the images more from the speaker positions and reduced the Width-Depth-ratio. But I must go in a disciplined way and not get mixed up as Sonic so often has.

Musick listened to this weekend: J S Bach’s Anna Magdalena Notebook (Igor Kipnis), Philip Glass' String Quartets, J S Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Grant Green with Ike Quebec (Blue Note) and a Django Reinhardt/Stephane Grapelli compilation (mono).

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:53 pm

Sonic,

Your last few additions demonstrate a lot thought that many in the audiophile community will never consider. Those that love music will seek out solutions that will attempt to move us closer to the live performance, which can still be described as a non ending journey and not a destination. Tuning, as you have discovered, is a useful tool for getting us closer to the live event.

As Michael can attest, my journey has been long and has touched all forms of audio equipment trying to fine the best tunable equipment from the high end community. As I posted on numerous occasions, I like tube equipment and I have settled on a US designer who makes very lightweight amps and preamps. As I continue my journey, I suspect passive preamps may become my next passion. I have not migrated from turntables and CDPs to PC based systems. While I have auditioned some PC based systems which seem to be in vogue, I not convinced that this medium has moved us forward in sound at this point. I love the sound of solid wood speakers, but I understand the difficulty of building this type of speaker. Michael has some manufactured some excellent speakers approaching an all wood speaker concept. I use his Music Ply sub and it continues to amaze me when real bass is present, and it integrates well with my cherry plywood speakers. I have learned that light is right.

My son dabbles in recording musicians and has earned a music engineer undergraduate degree. He has demonstrated to me how he can manipulate soundstage depth, placing the musicians all over the stage, adding surround sound, plus many other tricks that modern music engineers can add to a recording. My point is I agree with you that many recordings do not approach what really was offered by the musician. There is much exaggeration of what actually occurred. One my favorite local female vocalist has never sounded close to live on her many recordings. Her CDs lose her passion and soul that only can be experienced live. When I listen to her CDs, I experience the musicians correctly placed in the soundstage when compared to live, but there is always something missing. I do not think we will ever experience the emotion that a human vocal or human performed instrument conveys live when compared to a recording. This does not mean that a recording is not transforming. Well recorded music can stir all of our passions.

I like you music choices for this weekend.
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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:02 am

Hi Guys

This is a thoughtful post. It brings up a relationship that is misunderstood many times by people in the hobby. One of the things I enjoy the most about reproducing music is the perception of audio and sound. You guys often hear me talk about the microphone as a monumental part of the process. This instrument of the reproducing chain is where we go from real to electronic signal. All of the adjectives used to describe music (as fun as they are) become subject to technology at the point where air pressure moves the element/diaphragm of the mic. There is no piece of music that we listen to in our homes (unless being performed there) that is live. Bringing the recording to life again is a technical marvel that has many twist and turns. There are hundreds of approaches to listening and thousands of egos to help us get confused along the way, but the most important thing for us to keep a grip on is that the audio chain from the microphone back is very different from the microphone forward.

How Do Microphones Work?

Microphones are a type of transducer - a device which converts energy from one form to another. Microphones convert acoustical energy (sound waves) into electrical energy (the audio signal).

Different types of microphone have different ways of converting energy but they all share one thing in common: The diaphragm. This is a thin piece of material (such as paper, plastic or aluminum) which vibrates when it is struck by sound waves. In the diagram below the diaphragm is located in the head of the microphone.



When the diaphragm vibrates, it causes other components in the microphone to vibrate. These vibrations are converted into an electrical current which becomes the audio signal.

Note: At the other end of the audio chain, the loudspeaker is also a transducer - it converts the electrical energy back into acoustical energy.

Types of Microphone

There are a number of different types of microphone in common use. The differences can be divided into two areas:

(1) The type of conversion technology they use

This refers to the technical method the mic uses to convert sound into electricity. The most common technologies are dynamic, condenser, ribbon and crystal. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and each is generally more suited to certain types of application.

(2) The type of application they are designed for

Some mics are designed for general use and can be used effectively in many different situations. Others are very specialized and are only really useful for their intended purpose. Characteristics to look for include directional properties, frequency response and impedance.

Mic Level & Line Level

The electrical current generated by a microphone is very small. Referred to as mic level, this signal is typically measured in millivolts. Before it can be used for anything serious the signal needs to be amplified, usually to line level (typically 0.5 -2V). Being a stronger and more robust signal, line level is the standard signal strength used by audio processing equipment and home audio equipment such as CD players.

This amplification is achieved in one or more of the following ways:

Some microphones have tiny built-in amplifiers which boost the signal to a high mic level or line level.

The mic can be fed through a small boosting amplifier, often called a line amp.

Sound mixers have small amplifiers in each channel. Attenuators can accommodate mics of varying levels and adjust them all to an even line level.

The audio signal is fed to a power amplifier - a specialized amp which boosts the signal enough to be fed to loudspeakers.

When we enter the world of recording we realize that this is a far different world than live music or live amplified music. The recording world is designed to store the signal for later use. A live (house) mix is extremely different from a play back mix as the house mix is setup to a particular acoustical performance hall. A single stereo microphone as good as it may be can not capture the sound of the whole hall or studio except from it's primary point source location there for there is a need for multiple micing. Each micing position and type of microphone picks up a different perspective of the performance area. In the recording studio these different snap shots of the musical picture are then blended together to come up with the producers and engineers perspective of the music.

In most cases a recording is more of a touched up (processed) event with many microphone perspectives as apposed to the real thing that someone would hear if they were live in the audience. The thought that we as listeners are suppose to be able to get back to the real event is a little unrealistic, however there are enough cues in what the microphones pick up to paint a believable picture.

In cases where an omni-directional microphone is placed in the right spot suspended above the performance you can actually hear the whole space and layering of the playing and listening area. Depth is very real in this type of situation. When the same microphone setup is placed at ear level or just above there is hardly any depth to the sound at all. This tell us that the reality of the performance has "real space and size" depth and placement but the view from the seating gives us far less of the real picture due to the seating and general shape of the room in relationship to the listener.

As much as I appreciate the fun world that the audiophile spokespeople have made and passed on to the listeners in this hobby I have to look at the reality that I have and do live in as someone (among thousands) who has been on the inside of recording these events from all the angles. The truth of it is I can remember times when in a hall I have heard something that is close to a sound stage but as people started coming in and sitting down the stage would become drowned with mush from their bodies. At times I would even go up to the shotgun positions to listen instead of down below with the crowd so I could enjoy things more.

We have to give a lot of credit to micing and sound engineers who have made recording into so much of an art form that we can sit at home and hear the music sometimes even more realistic space wise than the live performance itself.

Is the sound stage there? Absolutely! Without a doubt there is a 3D sound there. Did we hear this sound stage live? Chances are no, or at least not as good as we could have if all of the conditions where right.

I think that maybe the audiophile authorities could maybe gain some knowledge on things before making blanket statements but I know that they are just having fun like the rest of us and being writers and such enjoy people who read their articles. Who am I to say that their fiction is a bad thing, as long as we have tuning that allows us to go any where we wish inside of the recording.

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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Sun Feb 14, 2010 3:02 am

Hi Guys

Garp and I must have been writing at the same time. As I have said before Garp and people like Garp who spend much time listening to both worlds see the differences but don't get hung up on the "Audiophile Thing". It's fun to be apart of both as long as we can except that they are never going to be exactly the same. For me it's wonderful to know people who take in the whole of music and learn about the different ways to get where we are going.

very nice thread

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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:09 pm

Hi Michael and Garp!

Good to hear from you both. It is the Lunar New Year holidays here in sunny Singapore (more like a heatwave…) and Sonic had time to tune and listen.

I found what Michael said fascinating in his reply – how live unamplified music at a normal listening height and positions in a hall may have no depth but with the right microphone techniques whole new worlds of sound, detail and depth open up to us. This means logically that trying to relate what we hear from our CDs, LPs and tapes to the concert-hall sound is not that simple. To tune/tweak our systems so CDs sound like “real” – that is, have less image focus, no depth, more projection in some frequency ranges etc. is to ensure we are getting it wrong for sure…..even attending a live event being recorded, the two sounds will be completely different unless the recording mics and the listener is in exactly the same location.

That’s something Sonic will need to pack away and think about but Michael has likely saved me from taking my system down another dead-end. But experimenting with increasing girth, moderating the amount of perceived depth from my system has been good because as I adjusted the Shutters, Sonic may have hit a sweet spot that got very nice weight and girth and a subtle effect of the sense that every molecule of air in the room was vibrating with the music being played. I adjusted the speakers too before I heard this but it gave a nice presence. Now this “molecular” thing was heard on several CDs which made the music happen in the room and took the event away from something coming from loudspeakers. Sonic must listen to more recordings to be able to describe this effect – but it is not ambience or reverb…it isn’t a boomy bass either, it is like a 3D curtain of sound contained in the space of the room….

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:41 am

Hi Sonic

That sounds like "harmonic alignment" to me.

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PostSubject: Re: Sonic's System   Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:40 am

Hi Michael and Zonees

Yes, some harmonic alignment seems to be occurring and Sonic is learning to listen for that and "get the tune", if you know what I mean.

Here are some steps taken by Sonic over the last couple of weeks:




I can now use less acoustic burn in the room and not get a confused sound. Notice the Tunestrip on the window blinds has come down.





The two Shutters on the floor are now brought closer to the centre line of the room so they are not directly in front of the Magneplanars. Much, much better focus, more image girth and separation of images from the speaker positions. The depth is less than before but it parallels live music heard at a normal listening position but on some CDs I can hear wonderful depth. Rear reverb/ambience was reduced so Sonic experimented and did this:




These are finished MW oblong pieces from Michael on the PZCs. They are loosely bolted on with a crinkled aluminum foil between the MW pieces and the PZC surface.

Very good results: image projection improved dramatically and the sound halo from instruments and ensembles now extends past me to the rear of the room just like real music. It is big image bubbles, not echoes from the rear of the room.

Much good musick hear by Sonic from these Tunes. And I recently discovered the music of Lester Young. No wonder they call him "The Pres"...

Sonic
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