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  • Sure Everyone Has An Opinion on This!!!

    Is there such as thing as a "neutral" component? Is it possible to [ever] know when a component or system is "neutral?" If there was such a thing, how would or could you tell? Or should we just forget about neutrality altogether?
    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
    Audio Note has this idea "Comparison by Contrast": the most accurate (neutral) component is the one that reproduces more contrasts on a wide variety of recordings.

    Peter Qvortrup
    "Because every recording was done at a different time by different people, in a different location/room, using different equipment, microphones, mixers, amplifiers, cables etc. etc. every one of these differences will have left their "mark" in the sonics of each recording, and a good audio system or component should therefore be able to reveal these differences and thus differentiate the sonic individuality of each recording, this being the ultimate arbiter of quality. The less the equipment interferes with what is on the software the more of the individual character will reveal itself and differentiate the recording's sound from that of other recordings. And the better the gear."

    Comment


    • mkuller
      mkuller commented
      Editing a comment
      Here is the long article on this topic by Leonard Norwitz and Peter Qvortrup on that topic:

      http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazin.../audiohell.htm

      I first met Leonard Norwitz in about 1981 when I was running the Northern California Audio Society. At the time I believe he may have been a professor at San Jose State Univ. and he spoke to us on "How to Listen to Music" - a very informative talk. Then a little more than 10 years later I ran into him again when I was writing for TAS and he was the local Audio Note rep - he brought over the $60k Ungaku amp for me to write about. Very interesting guy.

  • #3
    Interesting subject Myles. We can debate this subject for years, much like "truth" versus "beauty". For me, if a component is not "neutral", then it is "colored" or distorted. The more transparent the system, the easier it is to perceive coloration's and distortions.

    Some people would describe components that don't work in a system as being non-synergistic, but I have not liked the concept of "synergy". Its like having a group of colored components and selecting the right combination for best results.

    It takes a lot of system applications (data points) in order to zero in on whether or not a component is truly neutral in my opinion. Take the latest Furutech GTX-D NCF duplex outlets for example. They are currently only available with Rhodium plating. Some people prefer Gold plating. But I have switched from Gold plating to Rhodium plating several years ago, so I like that it is not available in Gold. When comparing Gold versus Rhodium, Gold sounds colored to me, it sound too warm and well, "Golden". I have used the Rhodium plated Furutech receptacles, plugs, IEC's and chassis mounted IEC's for a few years now and installed them in several customer systems. My customers agree that Rhodium sounds more neutral. However, opinions will continue to vary and many will disagree.

    Based on my experience, I think non-neutral components can act as a tone-controls of sorts and therefore have value when used to compensate or correct the overall sound of a system. But this is a slippery slope.

    I recommend you use the most neutral components that you can, so that when you change/upgrade components you are not constantly compensating for coloration's in other equipment.
    Speakers/Amps: Genesis G2.2 Jr with Powered Servo-Sub Bass, Genesis GR1440 Mono Amps, 5,000 watts total power
    Preamp: SMc Audio VRE-1C Preamp (fully balanced inputs and output)
    Phono 1: VPI Signature 21 Belt-Drive Turntable with 10” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Windfeld Ti Phono Cartridge driving Lehmann Decade Phono Preamp
    Phono 2: VPI HW-40 Direct-Drive Turntable with 12” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Anna Diamond Phono Cartridge driving Genesis Gold Phono Preamp
    R2R Tape: Studer A810 with Bridge Console
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    Power: Audio-Ultra Power System, IsoTek Super Titan Passive Power Conditioning for Amplifiers
    Accessories: Custom Acrylic Equipment Stands, Klaudio Ultrasonic RCM

    Comment


    • MylesBAstor
      MylesBAstor commented
      Editing a comment
      Great advice!

    • Dr.Ears
      Dr.Ears commented
      Editing a comment
      If by neutral you mean true to the frequency curve, I believe most listeners find neutral to create listening fatigue quicker than systems with a little warmth. I prefer pure silver over both Rhodium and gold. I agree it makes sense to start out as neutral as possible and then add warmth to your taste.

  • #4
    A better question would be "Is there such a thing as a neutral listener"? Even if a few listeners got together, listened to a pile of equipment and decided on components that were neutral, another group could come in and have different results. There are those that chase accuracy and neutrality in a system and those that chase tone. Both approaches are valid and lead to great systems but can frustrate the owners of said systems especially if visitors don't agree!!
    Turntable: - 1. Fairchild 750/OMA slate plinth
    2. Analog Engineering AE-2008 MinusK support.
    Tonearm: 1. Schroder Custom
    2. Schick 12"
    3. Abis SA-1
    Cartridge: Miyajima Kansui and Premium BE Mono
    PhonoPre: AprilSound LR, EMIA Strain Gauge, EMIA silver SUT
    CD: Wadia 860x
    Server: Innuos Zen Mini Mk3
    DAC: Computer Audio Design 1543 Mk2
    Preamp: Bent Audio TAP-X w silver autoformers
    Amplifier: AprilSound SET50 monoblocks
    Speaker: Pioneer PAX-30C

    Comment


    • #5
      I just look at the few meanings of neutral and go hum !

      'having no strongly marked or positive characteristics'


      And as far as a neutral reviewer or even a listener : 'an impartial or unbiased person'

      As one poster has noted above, non-neutral could be tone controls, and I can add the changing to different tubes, or phono cartridges.

      So if we look at all things "measurement" for those that base everything on measurements, would neutral represent a 'flat line'
      Chris
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      Kef 201/2, Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE, Manley Chinook, VPI Classic, Dynavector DV20x2L, ExaSound e32, Acoustic Zen cables. (Office): Vincent SP331 Mkll, Quicksilver Pre, Lumin D1, (Ken Lau Signiture Edition PSU), Bryston BCD-1, Vapor Audio Breeze, WooAudio W6se,Questyle Audio CMA800R LCD-3,HD800s, HD600, Mr Speaker Ether C Flow,

      Comment


      • #6
        Depends on how you define neutral of course. To me, if a component was truly neutral, it wouldn't add anything or subtract anything that wasn't present in the signal fed to it. That would imply the component was perfect and we know perfect components don't exist. Having said that, some components are certainly more neutral than others and some components are capable of revealing more information in a more meaningful way than other components.

        The flip side of this is that many people either knowingly or unknowingly don't like neutral and they like to be the chef that adds the spices to the sonic recipe until they arrive at their own personal flavor profile. Like everything in high-end audio, it's complicated.
        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.

        Comment


        • #7
          Originally posted by mep View Post
          many people either knowingly or unknowingly don't like neutral and they like to be the chef that adds the spices to the sonic recipe until they arrive at their own personal flavor profile..
          Well said Mark.
          Chris
          ----------------------------------------------------------------
          Kef 201/2, Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE, Manley Chinook, VPI Classic, Dynavector DV20x2L, ExaSound e32, Acoustic Zen cables. (Office): Vincent SP331 Mkll, Quicksilver Pre, Lumin D1, (Ken Lau Signiture Edition PSU), Bryston BCD-1, Vapor Audio Breeze, WooAudio W6se,Questyle Audio CMA800R LCD-3,HD800s, HD600, Mr Speaker Ether C Flow,

          Comment


          • #8
            i define my preference as natural neutrality. and i do believe that you can find naturally neutral gear.

            and my mental concept is if you stacked multiple pieces of the same gear would it get darker and darker? or stay neutral? or get more sterile?.......since in essence that is exactly the way things go.

            Joe speaking about the Gold verse Rhodium plating on Furutech outlets is a good example. i read about some folks being 'afraid' of Rhodium, as if it would somehow push their system into sterility or take away the tone or body. while i respect that it's a matter of taste and not a good and bad thing, when you deviate away from neutrality and then multiply that 'shading' through the system you have placed a filter on information that you can never recover and added a 'sameness' over everything that is something other than music.

            if you add Rhodium outlets and it causes an edge then consider maybe there is another message in what you are hearing than the Rhodium is bad. look deeper. likely it's involved in the room or acoustics more than the signal path or power grid.

            and as you tune your system and find more and more nuance it is that freeing the signal path from 'filters' where the music breathes. at the end of the path the system and details and choices you have made define how close to the music you get.

            also; until we find a degree of maturity and tune in our systems it is so hard to judge the true effect of things. maybe you are fixing some sort of problem with coloration. you finally eliminate the problem and that coloration remains in your way. but do you realize it?

            these are the thoughts i apply to system development.
            https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/615

            Comment


            • #9
              Originally posted by Mike Lavigne View Post
              i define my preference as natural neutrality. and my mental concept is if you stacked multiple pieces of the same gear would it get darker and darker? or stay neutral? or get more sterile?.......since in essence that is exactly the way things go.

              Joe speaking about the Gold verse Rhodium plating on Furutech outlets is a good example. i read about some folks being 'afraid' of Rhodium, as if it would somehow push their system into sterility or take away the tone or body. while i respect that it's a matter of taste and not a good and bad thing, when you deviate away from neutrality and then multiply that 'shading' through the system you have placed a filter on information that you can never recover and added a 'sameness' over everything that is something other than music.

              and as you tune your system and find more and more nuance it is that freeing the signal path from 'filters' where the music breathes. at the end of the path the system and details and choices you have made define how close to the music you get.

              also; until we find a degree of maturity and tune in our systems it is so hard to judge the true effect of things. maybe you are fixing some sort of problem with coloration. you finally eliminate the problem and that coloration remains in your way. but do you realize it?

              these are the thoughts i apply to system development.
              Mike, I've read so much on the term "Dark"

              I've seen :

              A tonal balance that tilts downwards with increasing frequency. Opposite of bright. Weak high frequencies.

              and then this : A warm, mellow, excessively rich quality in reproduced sound. The audible effect of a frequency response which is clockwise-tilted across the entire range, so that output diminishes with increasing frequency. Compare "light."

              and ' Usually where the higher frequencies are less prominent.

              I guess Dark is subjective.
              Chris
              ----------------------------------------------------------------
              Kef 201/2, Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE, Manley Chinook, VPI Classic, Dynavector DV20x2L, ExaSound e32, Acoustic Zen cables. (Office): Vincent SP331 Mkll, Quicksilver Pre, Lumin D1, (Ken Lau Signiture Edition PSU), Bryston BCD-1, Vapor Audio Breeze, WooAudio W6se,Questyle Audio CMA800R LCD-3,HD800s, HD600, Mr Speaker Ether C Flow,

              Comment


              • #10
                Has anyone here ever heard a truly neutral system? Is it even possible to attain?
                Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

                Comment


                • tom_hankins
                  tom_hankins commented
                  Editing a comment
                  The AudioNet/Kronos/Airtight/YG Acoustics XV speakers and Kubala cables at GTT audio in NJ, made me a believer.

              • #11
                Originally posted by cpp View Post

                Mike, I've read so much on the term "Dark"

                I've seen :

                A tonal balance that tilts downwards with increasing frequency. Opposite of bright. Weak high frequencies.

                and then this : A warm, mellow, excessively rich quality in reproduced sound. The audible effect of a frequency response which is clockwise-tilted across the entire range, so that output diminishes with increasing frequency. Compare "light."

                and ' Usually where the higher frequencies are less prominent.

                I guess Dark is subjective.
                'dark' is a tonal cast, as opposed to weighty, or rich. open gear can be transparent, but also have tonal weight and a rich mid-range.

                maybe it's easier to consider cables and the concept of 'dark'......especially in a comparative sense (we don't get so defensive about calling cables 'dark' as we do our own gear). I have some very clear experiences of tonally 'dark' cables, and then in contrast more open, light and airy cables. and until I heard a more open cable, I had not been aware of the darkness of the cables I was using. so its a comparative concept.

                'dark' cables were an answer to certain speaker characteristics, and wanting to enjoy those speakers at higher SPL levels without high fatigue.

                one color to fix another color (or lack there-of). hence my philosophy outlined above.
                https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/615

                Comment


                • #12
                  Originally posted by Johnny Vinyl View Post
                  Has anyone here ever heard a truly neutral system? Is it even possible to attain?
                  I'm sure trying for that.....I would add the descriptor 'naturally' neutral.

                  here is a comment about my system from a recent visitor who specifically addresses the lack of coloration of my vinyl.

                  http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...l=1#post422672

                  this visitor has been traveling around the world inserting his SGM server into 'uber' systems so has heard a few nice vinyl rigs.

                  also consider that many prefer not so neutral.
                  https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/615

                  Comment


                  • #13
                    Originally posted by Mike Lavigne View Post

                    I'm sure trying for that.....I would add the descriptor 'naturally' neutral.
                    It sounds like you're pretty close already. Would it be accurate to say this also brings you closer to live?

                    Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      Originally posted by Johnny Vinyl View Post

                      It sounds like you're pretty close already. Would it be accurate to say this also brings you closer to live?
                      in one sense yes, when the recording is mastered to play back 'live' then I get that to a significant degree. so many are not.

                      'closer to live' is a fair way to put it.

                      but I'm not claiming any 'almost there'. but good amounts of 'suspension of disbelief'......
                      https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/615

                      Comment


                      • 1morerecord2clean
                        1morerecord2clean commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I prefer to think of systems as tuned. They are all tuned. Tuned to the taste of the individual. They are tuned reproductions. And as reproductions the last accurate sound was the pressure wave that hit the microphone. Everything after that is tuned thru wires, electronics, solid state boards, tubes, and speakers.Which photo of the Grand Canyon is accurate or neutral? They are all tinted differently and none of them really resembles closely the real thing.

                    • #15
                      Originally posted by Mike Lavigne View Post

                      in one sense yes, when the recording is mastered to play back 'live' then I get that to a significant degree. so many are not.

                      'closer to live' is a fair way to put it.

                      but I'm not claiming any 'almost there'. but good amounts of 'suspension of disbelief'......
                      So many jazz recordings were recorded with such high fidelity that it should make some modern recording engineers hang their heads in shame at what has been lost with so many technological 'improvements' over the years. I find that these easily obtainable high quality jazz recordings all have one thing in common, and that is the "suspension of disbelief" that you are hearing a recording vice sitting in front of a live session of primo jazz musicians.
                      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.

                      Comment

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