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  • What Do Measurements Mean?

    Dave Wilson weighs in on the subject.

    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
    Measurements get you into the ballpark, ears get you the home run.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Rust View Post
      Measurements get you into the ballpark, ears get you the home run.
      Ditto. I have audiophile friends who LIVE by measurements. They won't listen to an analog set-up. For them, digital is much closer to the real thing and that's the end of it. And these are educated engineering type people. And then there is me. I don't care what the measurements are. Does the equipment sound good? I love analog but in the end for me, digital or analog, if it's good then it is and if it isn't, fill in the blanks.
      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


      • #4
        Originally posted by Rust View Post
        Measurements get you into the ballpark, ears get you the home run.
        Interesting that you bring that up. At the Wilson Audio Alexx rollout, I asked Dave whether his crossover design philosophy has changed over the years and he mentioned how they, like many companies, use computer modeling to design their xover. Dave also mentioned that there was a whole lot more work to be done on the crossover once the computer spit out the answer. In fact, Dave indicated that the computer generated xover specs didn't sound very good.
        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


        • #5
          Something I wrote on measurements 17 years ago.

          http://www.herronaudio.com/images/Measurements.pdf
          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


          • #6
            Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

            Interesting that you bring that up. At the Wilson Audio Alexx rollout, I asked Dave whether his crossover design philosophy has changed over the years and he mentioned how they, like many companies, use computer modeling to design their xover. Dave also mentioned that there was a whole lot more work to be done on the crossover once the computer spit out the answer. In fact, Dave indicated that the computer generated xover specs didn't sound very good.

            Very true. The design program is only a starting point. From there you are on your own lol.

            Comment


            • #7
              I never got very caught up in the measurement/spec thing, perhaps because I grew up in the years when Holt and HP were making such a dent in the convention wisdom, and in those early days-- where most solid state amps that measured well sounded harsh and analytical- my experience reinforced the conclusion that measurements and accuracy (to what, one may ask) did not explain what we heard or why it sounded the way it did. One of the things you touched on in your "poll" of various designers, Myles, was the degree to which these devices don't operate in a vacuum. There is, obviously, the "room." And, all the associated components which, to greater or lesser degrees, impart some of their character on the end result. And, of course, as Wilson mentioned, the source. (He's impressive, what an articulate fellow; I have most of his old recordings, though I haven't listened to them in years).
              The idea that the system should have a "linear transfer function" (I think those were the words Wilson used- i.e. output replicates input) assumes that what goes "in" is not only "accurate," but can, through an electronic process, convey [all/many/some] of the cues of an actual musical performance. I hear the character of different mikes over my system- which affect the vocals; I know that most material, even if recorded "naturally" doesn't really sound the same as an actual live performance. When you sit in the control room of a professional studio, and are listening to the live feed, or the tape playback (yeah, my experience is dated), it doesn't sound like what is actually happening in the studio room itself; it is a pretty impressive replica when it is delivered over those crazy efficient big studio monitors with oodles of power and "thwack" but it isn't real. And that is as close as you are going to get. It all goes downhill from there, converting the recording into a final mix, mastering and creating an end product that is accessible to consumers- process, process, process.
              I know why audiophiles like simple recordings of symphonic music or small jazz combos. They are less likely to be messed with and more likely to convey some traces of the original performance. But, so much stuff isn't recorded simply or even well. And, that's the stuff we have to play with at home, unless you want to subsist on a diet of sonically superb records, which would leave me in the same place as eating at Michelin 3 star restaurants back to back (I've done it, and learned- it's no fun and really isn't that enjoyable after about the 5th meal).
              I'm fascinated by some of the innovations-- multiple channels, DSP, etc. But technology for its own sake is worthless to me. It has to provide some intended (and desirable) result. Though so much has improved in the time I've been alive, technologically, on many fronts, many of us cling to our tubes and horns, not because we are luddites, but because we seek something we find musical or "real" sounding. It's an almost impossible task, isn't it? I can be transported sometimes, but the illusion always breaks down on certain program material. Trying to shove an entire orchestra into a conventional residential room, and listening at natural levels isn't just hitting a wall or two in the playback room. I find that, at least with consumer audio "software" (records or digital, not so sure about tape in the home), having half a hundred instruments playing at once starts to sound congested- or the perspective changes, from immediate to distant, to accommodate everything that is going on in the recording.
              What do measurements mean to me? Baseline. Designer tools. Set up tools. Interesting way to "see" what a system is doing. It's still more art than science, perhaps because we don't have all the magic 'data' to predict what will sound good or right or real, but my suspicion is, if I came back to the planet in 500 years, there would still be a human element in all of this that says, "that bass isn't quite right" or the voice sounds "hooded." I think its an inescapable part of trying to convert a living, breathing event into a simulacrum. And that doesn't even take into account personal preference.

              Comment


              • #8
                And yet one must have both the measurements and the ears to develop a good sounding product.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Rust View Post
                  And yet one must have both the measurements and the ears to develop a good sounding product.
                  Without question!

                  Interestingly, most high-end audio companies products have a distinctive signature. D'Agostino. Audio Research. conrad-johnson. . VAC. Wilson Audio. Magico. Rowland. Lyra. Koetsu. The designer's fingerprint.


                  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


                  • #10
                    I find certain measurements to be pretty important. Others are almost irrelevant. Distortion in particular is a nagging problem, because the industry has not come to grips with understanding how the human ear/brain system perceives sound, despite a lot of that knowledge being around now for 20-30+ years.

                    For example, the ear/brain system converts most forms of distortion into tonality. This is why some of the amps mentioned earlier in this thread sounded harsh and bright, despite having low distortion. The distortion they did have was of the form to which the ear/brain system is particularly sensitive.

                    At other times, the industry ignores inconvenient truths. An example of that is the knowledge that the 7th harmonic contributes to a metallic quality. We've known this since the 1930s but many current design rules actually cause this harmonic (feedback application being one).

                    There is of course on going debate between 'engineering' types wherein only measurements tell the story, vs those that simply rely on their ears. This debate will not end until the industry produces spec sheets that tell you how a particular amp, preamp or speaker is going to sound. Until then that bit of paper IMO is an excellent example of the Emperor's New Clothes- the product strives to have good specs, but some of those specs don't really have anything to do with human hearing; instead its just supposed to look good on paper (I don't know of a better example of the ENC!). In some cases this results in an inverse relationship- where lower distortion often means poor sound. Its not supposed to happen that way, but the industry isn't motivated to do anything about it.

                    Hence high end audio, charlatans of all sort/snake oil, the smoother sound of tubes, digital that sucks, digital that does not, why analog still lives, on and on, all rolled into one big sticky and very argumentative ball. None of that debate is going away anytime soon and it all comes down to specs that have nothing to do with how we hear.

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