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  • Transparency

    I hate when the high-end audio clueless start tossing around and misusing terms. I think in part traceable to the fact that these people have never experienced many of the attributes. Take for instance the term transparency. Transparency has nothing to do as the unwashed want to say with "faithfullness" to the original recording session. No. Transparency is all about reducing the noise floor in the system so one can visualize in the "minds eye"all the performers on the stage or in the studio . It is in my mind different than clarity that decribes the ability of the system to reveal the performer. Or in other words, the cloth over the performer as opposed to the veil over the stage. Where the breakthrough in transparency has been made is in a system's ability to full reveal the performers in the back of the stage equally as well as thost in the front of the soundstage.

    Transparency is probably the single biggest change that has occured in high-end audio over the last decade. Yes, transparency is very obtain as it seems to be the net accumulation of everything in the system starting with the AC and equipment isolation and then continuing to the equipment and cabling, room acoustics and last but not least, even the cleanlinesss and quality of the connections (AC/IC/speakers). Even the speaker cabinet and crossover have a big impact on transparency. But when the planets are in alignment, that elusive ability brings us one giant step closer to glimpsing that original recording event-namely the sense of space, information and tonality. No longer do designers have to resort to exaggerating the upper midrange (Hyper Definition) to get more information or sense of space. As a result, everything sounds more natural and in place.
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
    -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

  • #2
    Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
    I hate when the high-end audio clueless start tossing around and misusing terms. I think in part traceable to the fact that these people have never experienced many of the attributes. Take for instance the term transparency. Transparency has nothing to do as the unwashed want to say with "faithfullness" to the original recording session. No. Transparency is all about reducing the noise floor in the system so one can visualize in the "minds eye"all the performers on the stage or in the studio . It is in my mind different than clarity that decribes the ability of the system to reveal the performer. Or in other words, the cloth over the performer as opposed to the veil over the stage. Where the breakthrough in transparency has been made is in a system's ability to full reveal the performers in the back of the stage equally as well as thost in the front of the soundstage.

    Transparency is probably the single biggest change that has occured in high-end audio over the last decade. Yes, transparency is very obtain as it seems to be the net accumulation of everything in the system starting with the AC and equipment isolation and then continuing to the equipment and cabling, room acoustics and last but not least, even the cleanlinesss and quality of the connections (AC/IC/speakers). Even the speaker cabinet and crossover have a big impact on transparency. But when the planets are in alignment, that elusive ability brings us one giant step closer to glimpsing that original recording event-namely the sense of space, information and tonality. No longer do designers have to resort to exaggerating the upper midrange (Hyper Definition) to get more information or sense of space. As a result, everything sounds more natural and in place.
    X2
    SOURCE: VINYL - EAT C-Sharp with, EAT LPS power supply, My Sonic Lab Signature Gold
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    AMPLIFIER: Audionet MAX monoblocks.
    SPEAKERS: YG Acoustics Anat III Signatures (upgraded to Sonja 1.2) JL Audio F112 V2 (x2)
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    Comment


    • #3
      Oh yes, even the tape heads make a big difference.
      Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
      Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
      ________________________________________

      -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
      -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
      -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
      -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
      -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
      -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
      -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
      -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
      -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
      -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

      Comment


      • #4
        "Transparency" to me means grainless, artifact free, no equipment in the way, doesn't sound like a reproducing machine reproduction. I grok it first in the midrange, where the lack thereof (or whatever the correct term for what I'm describing) is readily apparent. I think you are correct that it relates to noise floor, Myles, but I'm not sure that is a necessary condition (though a desirable one). The old Quad is very transparent, to the point of spookiness, but it also masks stuff, is tolerant of noisy electronics (at least compared to 104db efficiency horns). I always considered the Quad a kind of "see through" experience when set up correctly. Maybe my terminology is off. I'm a bug for this issue, though--I hear grain, or something that says "reproduction" and it makes me discount what I'm hearing, to the point where I'll trade off other things to get it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Click image for larger version  Name:	Transparency Illustration 2.jpg Views:	1 Size:	41.1 KB ID:	35615


          I wrote an article in the Pacific Northwest Audio Society back in Oct. 2004. Following is what I said about transparency: "Every stage in the reproduction of music removes information and adds distortion. The effect is analogous to layers of glass in a window on the performance. Ideally, each layer of glass would be absolutely transparent and free of distortion / coloration."

          I've always liked the "visual" term transparency as it relates to audio. It describes what I hear in my minds eye. As the system transparency improves, i can hear (see) deeper into the recording and hear (see) more of the original performance.
          Joe Pittman
          Premier Club Member
          Last edited by Joe Pittman; 12-14-2016, 09:46 PM.
          Speakers/Amps: Genesis G2.2 Jr with Powered Servo-Sub Bass, Genesis GR1440 Mono Amps, 5,000 watts total power
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          Analog 2: VPI HW-40 Direct-Drive Turntable w/ 12” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Anna Diamond Phono Cartridge driving Genesis Gold Phono Preamp
          Analog 3: Studer A810 R2R tape w/ Bridge Console. Using built-in tape preamp
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          A/C Power: Extensive System Upgrades, Sub-panel w/hard-wired power cables, and IsoTek Super Titan Passive Power Conditioning for Amplifiers
          Accessories: Custom Acrylic Equipment Stands, Klaudio Ultrasonic RCM

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            That's a nice graphic.

          • MylesBAstor
            MylesBAstor
            Administrator
            MylesBAstor commented
            Editing a comment
            I've often conceptualized (and visualized) transparency as sitting in the audience and looking at a stage with one of those smoke machines. You crank up the smoke machine until everyone on the stage is obscured. (Like as if someone threw a smoke grenade). As the system improves, the amount of smoke on stage dissipates away until eventually all the performers are visible.

        • #6
          One thing we can never forget in this wacky hobby of ours is that nobody agrees on anything so we should never be surprised when 10 audiophiles have 10 different definitions for the same term. Your definition of transparency as "reducing the noise floor in the system..." is really talking about the total S/N ratio of the system which certainly impacts system transparency. I would say that the amount of transparency your system has is related to your overall system S/N ratio. But, I would postulate that you could have a system that was wired up by the world's best electricians with the leading audiophile approved wall-mounted isolation transformers with $100K of magic power boxes with classified power modules inside and the world's best outlets that were just cleaned by the world's best outlet cleaner and the world's best PCs which in total gave you a super low noise floor, that you could still have colored components that would limit the amount of transparency your system has.
          Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

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          • #7
            Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
            I hate when the high-end audio clueless start tossing around and misusing terms. I think in part traceable to the fact that these people have never experienced many of the attributes. Take for instance the term transparency. Transparency has nothing to do as the unwashed want to say with "faithfullness" to the original recording session. No. Transparency is all about reducing the noise floor in the system so one can visualize in the "minds eye"all the performers on the stage or in the studio . It is in my mind different than clarity that decribes the ability of the system to reveal the performer. Or in other words, the cloth over the performer as opposed to the veil over the stage. Where the breakthrough in transparency has been made is in a system's ability to full reveal the performers in the back of the stage equally as well as thost in the front of the soundstage.

            Transparency is probably the single biggest change that has occured in high-end audio over the last decade. Yes, transparency is very obtain as it seems to be the net accumulation of everything in the system starting with the AC and equipment isolation and then continuing to the equipment and cabling, room acoustics and last but not least, even the cleanlinesss and quality of the connections (AC/IC/speakers). Even the speaker cabinet and crossover have a big impact on transparency. But when the planets are in alignment, that elusive ability brings us one giant step closer to glimpsing that original recording event-namely the sense of space, information and tonality. No longer do designers have to resort to exaggerating the upper midrange (Hyper Definition) to get more information or sense of space. As a result, everything sounds more natural and in place.

            This is a very specific definition that most audiophiles will muddle with other aspects of system performance and priorities. The issue is that the hobby is still very abstract in the interface of equipment to the room and associated components as well as the very arbitrary way we describe that. Even with HP and JGH developing language and definitions for 30+ years we don't have consistency in application.

            You are a professional in the business so your language has to be specific. Unfortunately, most of us that don't make a living at this are prone to editorializing our impressions. What other "hobbies" are such that we can have vastly different colours of defined performance for the same thing by different people? ( automobiles, wine, etc)
            Phono: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 Power Supplies and Volume controls
            Brinkmann Balance & RonT Tube Power supply with Kuzma 4-point ,FR64S, Brinkmann 12.1 , .Koetsu Jade Platinum,Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, Lyra Atlas Lamda, Lyra Etna SL Goldfinger Statement, KLAUDIO RCM, HRSM3X
            Amps: Custom Direct Drive, Wyetech Topaz, Futterman H3 Quad II,Citation II, Marantz 8b, 5 ,2. Bedini 25/25
            Pre-Amps:Marantz 7, Marantz Model 1 Consolette Pair
            Speakers: Beveridge Model 3 Direct Drive amps, REL S/2 x 2, Quad ESL pair
            Otari 5050BXII, DeHavilland 222

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            • mep
              mep
              SUPER MODERATOR
              mep commented
              Editing a comment
              I think you kind of just said what I just said in the post above yours.

          • #8
            I think you are all close to the point. Abscence of the system is what I think of regarding transparency. I have said this before so I will be redundant. If I sit in a concert hall and there is that moment before the conductor gives the downbeat I hear that nothingness even though it isn't nothing. Actually it is that inexplicable bed of air on which there is transparency which delivers the truth of what is about to happen. The ability to hear every sound on the stage from every instrument. Ok, maybe not the string sections which you hear as a whole. When my system can do that I will know I have the ultimate fidelity and transparency.
            Turntable: TW Acustic TT with Ref motor & controller; Tri-Planar Arm; Ortofon Windfeld-Ti Cartridge, Harmonix-Combak platter mat & weight; PS Audio Stellar Phono Preamp; KLAudio Ultrasonic Record Cleaner.

            Digital: Bluesound Vault-2 Music Server & Streamer

            Amplification: PS Audio Stellar Phono Preamp, VTL 6.5 preamp Series II, Pass Labs 150.8 Amp

            Loudspeakers: Piega C711 Loudspeakers

            Isolation: Symposium Osiris Rack; Symposium Platforms and Roller Blocks plus grade 2.5 Balls

            Misc: PS Audio Noise Harvesters, Acoustic Revive RR-888 Low Frequency Pulse Generator, Synergistic Research 12 UEF SE Line Conditioner, Level 3 HC AC Cord and Level 3 power cords, Synergistic Carbon fiber wall plates, Synergistic Research Orange Outlet, Furutech NCF Booster Braces, Audio Art Ref IC, MIT Oracle IC, synergistic Research Atmosphere X Euphoria Level 3 Balanced ICs, Synergistic Research Euphoria Level 3 Speaker Cables, Synergistic Research Cable Risers.

            Sennheiser HDV 650 Headphone Amp; Sennheiser HD800s Headphones.

            Comment


            • MylesBAstor
              MylesBAstor
              Administrator
              MylesBAstor commented
              Editing a comment
              That's exactly the feeling I get at say Carnegie. It's indescribable but you just described it.

            • 1morerecord2clean
              1morerecord2clean
              Premier Club Member
              1morerecord2clean commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks Myles. Every now and then a pearl drops from my thoughts instead of the usual bubcus.🤓 Carnegie is one of those halls where that bed of air is really apparent.

          • #9
            A really good topic Myles ,
            I'll try to post my view it may not be as some post hear. When I post transparency it's not the source it's the system.
            Lets say I am in my truck and I am using my iPhone to play some music . The level of transparency in my truck limits the level of details of quality .
            So as I may be playing a ref track there is little to be heard in the truck . Clarity is separate as you state it is part of the noise floor as you cannot have great clarity if you have abundant noise . However for me clarity begins with the source , if it is not there transparency will reveal its lack there of. In my system I can roll many types of tubes each having there own signature of the above two terms.
            Some tubes are more muddy , less transparent no matter how clear the source . In my tube collection the lowest noise floor I have is Kron tubes a Kron recti and output tubes let's say a px25 has low level details that are there no longer just noises. To achieve this we need both clarity in source and transparency in the system to begin with. If my system was not transparent I would not hear the souce or the tube rolling for what they are.
            Now in no way am I posting about neutrality in my system that in my view is a third side to this. I hope I have posting something clear and transparent lol.
            analog stuff.
            otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 made new by soren
            otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 1/2 combo made new by soren
            sota sapphire used eminent tech ver 2 arm
            new sota nova table has magnetic levitation platter and full speed control and latest motor same arm as above
            thorens td124 sme ver 2 arm
            thorens td125 sme ver 2 arm
            kenwood direct drive sme ver 2 arm
            phono preamp Ml no 25 all re capped
            speakers cust infinity IRS V , new caps and LPS , magnets etc.
            mark levivson pre no 26 amps no 33
            digital three cust servers , win ser 2016 , AO
            Dacs lampi various

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            • #10
              Transparency == be able to reach out and touch
              Analog: VPI Aries 3, custom suspension + platter interface || Magnetically stabilized JMW 10.5i || Ortofon A90 || Modded & fully shielded Pass XP-25 || Last gen VPI SDS speed controller || Magnum Dynalab MD-90SE/105 Digital: Spectral 3000SL || Fully shielded Yggdrasil 2 Amplification: Spectral DMC-30SV || DMA-500AR Speakers: Heavily modded MartinLogan (custom Mundorf dual xover, cabling, woofers, xformer; structural mods) || Modded REL sub Cabling: Fully shielded MIT Oracle 50ic,MA-X,90.1 || Shunyata Alpha v2,Omega AES/EBU Power: Shunyata Denali 6000/S v2, Venom XC and NR cords, SR-Z1 outlets, Typhon. Tweaks: Isodamp, mumetal, 3M AB5100, Dynamat, Copper foil; Vishay diodes, resistors, Mundorf coils & capacitors

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              • #11
                Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                ... Transparency is all about reducing the noise floor in the system so one can visualize in the "minds eye"all the performers on the stage or in the studio . It is in my mind different than clarity that describes the ability of the system to reveal the performer. Or in other words, the cloth over the performer as opposed to the veil over the stage. Where the breakthrough in transparency has been made is in a system's ability to full reveal the performers in the back of the stage equally as well as thost in the front of the soundstage. ...
                I singled out that portion of your post because I think (respectfully) it is too specific or too subjective to serve generally in defining transparency for the vocabulary.

                I'm with you when you say "Transparency is all about reducing the noise floor in the system..." but don't accept differentiating the vocabulary to distinguish apperceptive differences of performers versus those of the soundstage/stage. Granted we each will localize to whatever we choose, but its all sound, more or less transparent. My experience of side wall reflections within a concert hall and my experience of Cruella DeVille singing "Spots for Me" is not one the result of gear that is more transparent and the other of gear that is more clear.

                On the other hand, I guess it is possible that you find these experiences sufficiently different in kind that they deserve distinguishing between them in vocabulary. I don't think there is an in kind difference between 'transparent' and 'clear' - at least not of the nature your post describes.

                Given, say two amplifiers, if I find one is more transparent than the other, I find: a) the terminology use is relative; it is not that one has the character of transparency and the other does not, and b) saying one amp is more transparent means it reduces an electronic scrim or haze that the other one does not. And the awareness of such comes from making the comparison itself. If you listen to enough gear and have a broad enough experience you can probably describe eg an amplifier as transparent, without requiring another amp for comparison.

                The most gob-smackingly straightforward experience of transparency I've had was the first time I heard an Atma-Sphere M60 amp compared with a Conrad-Johnson Premier 140. I am comfortable pointing at those two units for an ostensive definition of the term. Berning ZOTL amps are transparent enough to tell you Dusty brushed with Ipana, not Colgate.

                Without thinking much about it, I'd characterize the difference between clarity and transparency thus: Transparent is used to talk about less noise, less distortion. Clarity is used to talk about more information. But that's not particularly nuanced.

                I do appreciate these threads that help refine the audio listening/review vocabulary.




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              • #12
                If you have ever had the experience of listening to a system with a modestly priced preamp, then swapping in a passive preamp, you will immediately understand the term transparency (and perhaps also understand the term "lack of gain/dynamics", but that's another topic).

                Comment


              • #13
                Originally posted by mep View Post
                One thing we can never forget in this wacky hobby of ours is that nobody agrees on anything so we should never be surprised when 10 audiophiles have 10 different definitions for the same term. Your definition of transparency as "reducing the noise floor in the system..." is really talking about the total S/N ratio of the system which certainly impacts system transparency. I would say that the amount of transparency your system has is related to your overall system S/N ratio. But, I would postulate that you could have a system that was wired up by the world's best electricians with the leading audiophile approved wall-mounted isolation transformers with $100K of magic power boxes with classified power modules inside and the world's best outlets that were just cleaned by the world's best outlet cleaner and the world's best PCs which in total gave you a super low noise floor, that you could still have colored components that would limit the amount of transparency your system has.
                Without doubt and absolutely agree Mark! That's why pointed out transparency is only as good as the weakest link in the system! I guess the first question is where or what people should do first to get the biggest bang for the buck? It's also how interesting how veiled some of those cherished and highly rated components of yesteryear were.
                Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                ________________________________________

                -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                Comment


                • 1morerecord2clean
                  1morerecord2clean
                  Premier Club Member
                  1morerecord2clean commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Having just replaced my treasured 22 year old Threshold amp for a Pass Labs 150.8 I can say that some of those revered treasures are treasures no more.

              • #14
                Originally posted by kcin View Post


                This is a very specific definition that most audiophiles will muddle with other aspects of system performance and priorities. The issue is that the hobby is still very abstract in the interface of equipment to the room and associated components as well as the very arbitrary way we describe that. Even with HP and JGH developing language and definitions for 30+ years we don't have consistency in application.

                You are a professional in the business so your language has to be specific. Unfortunately, most of us that don't make a living at this are prone to editorializing our impressions. What other "hobbies" are such that we can have vastly different colours of defined performance for the same thing by different people? ( automobiles, wine, etc)
                I just think that audiophiles need to agree on definitions of terms in order to have meaningful exchange of ideas.
                Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                ________________________________________

                -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                Comment


                • #15
                  Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

                  I just think that audiophiles need to agree on definitions of terms in order to have meaningful exchange of ideas.
                  Wow now your asking for a lot there Myles , Audiophiles agreeing, has the fat lady sung LOL. The hardest part is getting all of these 'audiophiles' that have some sort of "pull" in the audiophile world in the same room or even to respond to a definition question. No doubt some might want to A/B the question for days or see some need a measurement before they commit to an answer. You have the Headphone crowd, the computer crowd, the Stereo crowd, the R-R crowd, the turntable crowd and lets not forget the audio engineer, the producer, and maybe even the artist. Audiophiles agreeing, interesting concept. oh, ps and then you have those true believers on way to many forums to count with their opinion on the subject.
                  Chris
                  ----------------------------------------------------------------
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