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  • Finish The Thought

    HP once said about early digital recordings and playback, "the absence of noise isn't the presence of music."

    But have we reached a point in high-end audio where "the absence of noise IS the presence of music?" Is that possible? What does one experience at that point?
    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
    Recently I had some affiliation with an archiving project which involved Sony, the question for the engineer who's also a friend was to live with the surface noise of the old shellac and preserve the natural dynamic presence and life of these early recordings or to filter the noise and kill he sound, fortunately he went with the former.

    My my own experience with digital files is the same, quiet but DEAD....
    david
    Manufacturer: American Sound Turntables and The Nothing Rack
    Distribution: NEODIO

    Special Sales: van den Hul
    Industry Representation: Lamm, Kharma OLS Speakers, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformer, Venta Airwasher

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    • #3
      If everything in the playback chain is up to it, a tangible illusion of music...
      Primary 2 channel stuff: Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk 3.3, Pass Labs X600.5 amps, Aerial SW 12 subs, True Sound Works Ultimate Apogee Divas, Dunlavy SC4s, VPI HRX Reference w Avenger mag drive and Reference footers, Gimbal Fatboy, Yamaha GT2000 for Mono, Miyajima Kansui, Miyajima ZERO, Fidelity Research MC-201 & 202, VPI ADS, Vendetta Research SCP-1, Audio Note UK- 3.1X II balanced DAC, Meridian Sooloos, Western Electric Speaker wire, mostly diy balanced interconnects, Furutech Power Cords

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      • #4
        Obviously when HP said that it was his impression of hearing early digital. The thing that stood out most, compared to an LP, is the absence of background noise. But there was also something missing because it wasn't "musical" - it didn't sound like real live music.

        So now today, that can be taken in a number of ways. Digital is still quiet, but much more musical than before.

        On the other hand, with modern electrical power conditioning, the system background noise level can be at an all time low, letting more music come through.

        But having said that, there is still much more to the presence of music than the absence of noise.
        Thiel 7.2s, Manley NeoClassic 250s, Wadia 850, MIT Oracle V3 speaker cables, MIT MI-350 Oracle interconnects, Black Diamond Racing Shelves and Cones in a dedicated room with ASC Tube Traps, Room Tunes and 3 X 20 amp dedicated circuits.

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm sure there is much more to reproduction of music that we don't understand. The absence of noise does not necessarily equal the presence of music. The way in which we choose to condition or manifest the lack of noise could have serious effects on the sound.

          How about the corollary of a company like Spectral that claims bandwidth to 2 or 3 Mhz? --we can't hear that transient response but that ability has artifacts that adds to the presence of the musical event and eliminates other factors that could compromise the illusion of the reproduced event

          I think Jim Smith wrote in his book "Get Better Sound" that he observed an unusual phenomenon- I'm paraphrasing... that any system that he has encountered that has some faint transient noise that is audible is more natural sounding and involving than a system that is dead silent. I can think of negative feedback and digital filters that can kill the sound in Jim's observations- I tend to agree.-- However, its one of those things you don't want to admit to your audio buddies.!

          I'll have to dig that book out again and read it. It has some good information and insights in it.



          Phono: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 Power Supplies and Volume controls
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          Comment


          • MylesBAstor
            MylesBAstor commented
            Editing a comment
            I think that Spectral might argue we are talking about settling time of the electronics?

          • kcin
            kcin commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes the outcome of extended bandwidth is fast settling time with clean pathways for the next impulse- avoiding confusion or distortion that is possible in other designs "according to Spectral".

        • #6
          There are a couple of ways to look at it.

          The lack of noise is an unnatural thing. There are a couple of places on earth where in effect there is no sound. One is a crater in Hawaii which due to a unique set of conditions is essentially noiseless when the wind stops blowing. Sound drops to something like -100dB. The only thing heard is your own heartbeat and the blood running through your body. It seems entirely unnatural. It is exceedingly strange.

          If you listen to any live performance there is ALWAYS background noise. As studios become more soundproofed/sound absorbing and as more instrumentation never occurs in real life, that is it exists only as a generated signal, this sense of ambience from background noise decreases. It sounds unnatural because it is. Low level sounds can also be filtered out during the recording process or in digital manipulation.

          In effect, a digital recording which has been so produced lacking the constant background we are all conditioned to hear and ignore is unsettling.

          Analog mediums always have a background noise, surface noise from LPs and tape hiss. In addition there is no removing of recorded ambient noise by way of processing. Even on the most exceptionally quite recordings, it is still there. Even if it is not consciously noticeable it is still there. The reverberation/reflections of a natural space also add to the sense of "real sound".

          Early ADC and DAC conversion was not perfect. It still isn't but it's getting better. Less ham handed processing leads to less damage to the recorded signal. Better algorithms and processors recover more of the signal. Yes, what goes in may be a bit perfect copy but not necessarily accurately converted. A less detailed noisier system may inject a little of that realism back into the mix, even if it's a substitute.

          Comment


          • MylesBAstor
            MylesBAstor commented
            Editing a comment
            I think there's a difference between the absence of noise and absence of sound here.

            Noise = distortions?

          • Rust
            Rust commented
            Editing a comment
            Not as I view it in this context. Noise would be the constant environmental background or equivalent to it while distortion is an alteration to the signal. In electronics if the noise floor is not constant, that is noise increases or decreases with signal then I'd view that as distortion as it would distort or interfere with the signal.

            Yeah I know, a somewhat nebulous not fully formed thought.

        • #7
          I really wasn't just referring to digital. Sorry for being misleading. I was talking about audio equipment in general. But analog counts too.

          The thread actually came out of a review am doing on the Doshi tape stage and what happens as the electronics, heads, connectors, etc. got better.

          In another words, the absence of noise is a good thing. But it's what happens next that's important.
          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


          • mkuller
            mkuller commented
            Editing a comment
            What HP said about noise was the noise in analog was in the background and could be ignored, but it in digital it follows the signal (as a type of distortion).

            As I mentioned below about the Merrill Class D amps - Bruno Putzeys' Hypex N-Core modules seem to have extremely low measurable distortion (in the .00001 range) but they sound to me like something is missing from the music reproduction. As Ralph can attest, it has something to do with the way the ear/brain interface interprets these things rather than static measurements alone.

        • #8
          >...I'm paraphrasing... that any system that he has encountered that has some faint transient noise that is audible is more natural sounding and involving than a system that is dead silent. I can think of negative feedback and digital filters that can kill the sound...>

          A couple of years ago, I borrowed a pair of Merrill Veritas Class D monoblocks ($12,000) and my impression of them was they were so quiet and clean, they sounded unnatural. It was like there was no air, just empty space between the musicians. Neutral, but not very involving.
          Thiel 7.2s, Manley NeoClassic 250s, Wadia 850, MIT Oracle V3 speaker cables, MIT MI-350 Oracle interconnects, Black Diamond Racing Shelves and Cones in a dedicated room with ASC Tube Traps, Room Tunes and 3 X 20 amp dedicated circuits.

          Comment


          • #9
            Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
            I really wasn't just referring to digital. Sorry for being misleading. I was talking about audio equipment in general. But analog counts too.

            The thread actually came out of a review am doing on the Doshi tape stage and what happens as the electronics, heads, connectors, etc. got better.

            In another words, the absence of noise is a good thing. But it's what happens next that's important.
            Depends on the noise Myles there are many different ones the most distracting and offensive IMO is anything & everything mains related, wether its ground loops or just hash. Certainly quieter electronics are better too as long as it's not just filtered along with the music.

            david
            Manufacturer: American Sound Turntables and The Nothing Rack
            Distribution: NEODIO

            Special Sales: van den Hul
            Industry Representation: Lamm, Kharma OLS Speakers, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformer, Venta Airwasher

            Unique Items: Vintage Horn Speakers
            http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...stening-room-1
            http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...earfield-setup

            Comment


            • #10
              Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
              HP once said about early digital recordings and playback, "the absence of noise isn't the presence of music."

              But have we reached a point in high-end audio where "the absence of noise IS the presence of music?" Is that possible? What does one experience at that point?
              In our "real world", I don't think there is such a thing as a zero noise floor. If you consider an anechoic chamber devoid of sound and reflection, it is a totally unnatural environment and quite unsettling, like being in a sensory deprivation tank. We have been hard-wired since the dawn of man to perceive our environment and hear ultra-low level sounds as a matter of survival. If we didn't hear that twig breaking way behind us, we were unlikely to pass our DNA into the future.

              Unnatural sound environments create a sense of stress (from or primordial past) triggering a kind of fight-or-fight response. Digital or analog sources creating a zero noise floor can sound unnatural or as David says above, DEAD. Whether digital or analog, there is usually some important information buried in the noise floor, removing it is never good in my opinion. It's a trade off, better to have some noise with information than none at all.
              Speakers/Amps: Genesis G2.2 Jr with Powered Servo-Sub Bass, Genesis GR1440 Mono Amps, 5,000 watts total power
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              • #11
                Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                HP once said about early digital recordings and playback, "the absence of noise isn't the presence of music."

                But have we reached a point in high-end audio where "the absence of noise IS the presence of music?" Is that possible? What does one experience at that point?
                Myles I wonder if HP got his thoughts from this article by Gordon Hempton.“Silence is not the absence of something, but the presence of everything.”

                http://www.dailygood.org/story/1360/...eslee-goodman/


                FYI: When I worked for Bell Labs I got an opportunity to go inside the Murry Hill chamber. You do not want to stay in there long. You can hear what seems to be the blood flowing throughout your body, the whooshing noise in your ears, you're heart beats that become louder the longer you stay in there.freaky, really freaky as your body adjust to pure silence or The Sounds of Silence . .
                Last edited by cpp; 06-08-2017, 09:19 AM.
                Chris
                ----------------------------------------------------------------
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                • Letsmakeadeal
                  Letsmakeadeal commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I had the same experience years ago in John Dunlavy's anechoic chamber...It was unnerving after about 5 or 10 minutes......

              • #12
                I guess it has been my recent experience that as I changed little things (like connectors on my tapestage, AC receptacles, etc.) that the sound became more transparent or cleaner and more low level details were suddenly popping up. Like suddenly hearing some instrument playing softly in the background or accompanying another instrument. Details that were buried in the noise floor. Less feeling of soundstage congestion at all levels. Unlike the artificial hyper detailing so prevalent in the '90s.
                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


                • #13
                  I think maybe we are confusing noise that shouldn't be in our playback chain vs having a "perfectly quiet" system that sounds as unnatural as an anechoic chamber . It's inevitable that analog reproduction-especially LP playback will have some level of noise associated with it. However, that noise can certainly be mitigated with a good table, proper cartridge setup, and a low-noise phono preamp. With really good vinyl pressings, I can hear the difference between the noise floor of the tape that made the recording and the actual noise floor of the particular vinyl being used. Tape playback has its own noise floor, and that noise floor can be really low depending on the tape used to make the recording and the quality of the deck and associated electronics.

                  I think we should all aspire to have a low noise floor in our systems and rooms. Nobody should want electronics that hum or hiss incessantly in their systems because otherwise, "their really musical." The best of both worlds is to have a system that has both very low noise and the ability to let the music pass through with its own noise floor left intact. With analog, you could always hear well below the noise floor of the medium like at the end of a song as it fades out. The song just keeps going even though the sound fades to a super low level. Contrast that with digital where it just cuts off and goes to "black." That has always sounded unnatural to me. Ditto for electronics that have incredible S/N numbers, but the music sounds like it was strangled to death.
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                  • #14
                    Those lucky enough to have a man cave in an isolated area have the luxury of worrying about the absence of noise debate. Living in a Brooklyn apartment adjacent to a main road there is always something there to distract me from that totally dead silence I have heard in studios/man-caves. I have also heard some battery powered equipment that is so clean and seemingly noise free that it's distracting but I adjusted and came to enjoy it almost as much as my regular gear.
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                    • #15
                      Originally posted by Beaur View Post
                      Those lucky enough to have a man cave in an isolated area have the luxury of worrying about the absence of noise debate. Living in a Brooklyn apartment adjacent to a main road there is always something there to distract me from that totally dead silence I have heard in studios/man-caves. I have also heard some battery powered equipment that is so clean and seemingly noise free that it's distracting but I adjusted and came to enjoy it almost as much as my regular gear.
                      I have been one of the lucky ones with a man cave that is 9' below ground and naturally has a super-low noise floor and is sound isolated from the rest of the house. I will dearly miss my room when we sell our house and move to TN. I have plenty of potential in the new house, but it won't happen over night.
                      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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