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Audibly transparent

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T

the record spot

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Overdose said:
chebby said:
'Transparent' is just another failed word in the lexicon of attempts to describe what is fundamentally indescribable. (Like 'natural', neutral', 'organic', 'warm', etc.)
I get your point about personal choice and wholeheartedly agree, however I do believe that 'transparent' is a valid term if used in the right context to describe a lack of obscuritites or to put it another way, lack of distortion.

It just so happens that transparency can be used in visual and aural contexts, but the visual context is perhaps more literal.

The other adjectives listed are a little more vague and not really anything other than an attempt to describe a sound in words. They are not quantifiable.
Very hard to achieve in standard audio. Very hard to achieve in passive or active systems too. You might get close, but recreating the "as is"? Nope. Hence why many folk go for "pleasing" and whatever version of "pleasing" you think that is.
 

WinterRacer

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the record spot said:
Very hard to achieve in standard audio. Very hard to achieve in passive or active systems too. You might get close, but recreating the "as is"? Nope. Hence why many folk go for "pleasing" and whatever version of "pleasing" you think that is.
Hard for turntables and speakers, especially passive ones.. I'd suggest we're there, or thereabouts for digital transports, streamers, DACs, SS Pre and power amps, oh yeah, nearly forgot cables in that list! :)
 

Andrew17321

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Nov 12, 2008
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To add to Cno's quote, it is a trait in modern life to consider relevant only criteria which can be measured and given a number.

So we are assured that our ears hear, and only hear, simple combinations of frequencies between 20 Hz and < 20 Khz. Why? Because that is easy to measure (and we can see hairs in our ear which respond to frequencies). But that is not the whole story; our ears are much better than that. They are very good at hearing, and recognising, transient sounds, like a symbol being struck, or a pin dropping, sounds which are not a simple combination of fixed frequencies. We can hear very quiet transients amongst other noise – our survival in the past probably depended on this.

Our bodies can sense frequencies below 20Hz, and there is some evidence for above 20 Khz, though maybe not through our ears.

I was once at a concert for deaf people. They stamped and clapped in time to the music. The Percussionist Evelyn Glennie is deaf but she plays in orchestras all over the world.

So do not get too hung up on figures, they measure only bits of the sounds we sense.

Andrew
 

drummerman

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spiny norman said:
WinterRacer said:
Hard for turntables and speakers, especially passive ones.
All this active-aggressive beahiviour is getting very tiresome.
I'm more of a passive-aggressive but can see where the active may come in handy ...

regards
 

AlmaataKZ

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Jan 7, 2009
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WinterRacer said:
Apologies if this has already been covered. A believe this is a good definition of audible transparency: "Ethan Winer, an acoustics expert, states that gear passing all these criteria will not contribute any audible sound of its own and in fact sound the same as any other gear passing the same criteria. - Frequency Response: 20 hz to 20 Khz +/- 0.1 dB - Distortion: At least 100 dB (0.001%) below the music while others consider 80 dB (0.01%) to be sufficient and Ethan’s own tests confirm that. - Noise: At least 100 dB below the music - Time Based Errors – In the digital world this is jitter and the 100 dB rule applies for jitter components." I agree with this definition, and believe it is the only sensible goal of hi-fi. Clearly, this has to apply at your chosen listening level, e.g., when your amp starts clipping it will no longer be audibly transparent. Speakers are the component furthest from being audibly transparent, which is why many people recommend spending most of your budget on them. Obviously, there's nothing wrong with personal preference, people differ in their tolerance to different types of distortion. BTW, to me'system matching' (beyond basic compatibility) is about adding one kind of distortion to another to mask each components shortcomings, e.g., using bandwidth distortion to mask IM distortion around a speaker's crossover.
I agree.
 

drummerman

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Andrew17321 said:
So do not get too hung up on figures, they measure only bits of the sounds we sense.

Andrew
Measurements often explain why things are/sound the way they do. To understand some of it is simply widening knowledge. How you use your findings is another matter but to simply ignore the only thing that is not subjective is a little foolish.

regards
 

WinterRacer

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drummerman said:
spiny norman said:
WinterRacer said:
Hard for turntables and speakers, especially passive ones.
All this active-aggressive beahiviour is getting very tiresome.
I'm more of a passive-aggressive but can see where the active may come in handy ...

regards
I haven't intended any aggression, passive or otherwise. Apologies if anything came over that way.
 

drummerman

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WinterRacer said:
drummerman said:
spiny norman said:
WinterRacer said:
Hard for turntables and speakers, especially passive ones.
All this active-aggressive beahiviour is getting very tiresome.
I'm more of a passive-aggressive but can see where the active may come in handy ...

regards
I haven't intended any aggression, passive or otherwise. Apologies if anything came over that way.
It didn't. No idea where he got that from.

regards
 

WinterRacer

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Andrew17321 said:
To add to Cno's quote, it is a trait in modern life to consider relevant only criteria which can be measured and given a number.

So do not get too hung up on figures, they measure only bits of the sounds we sense.

Andrew
We can measure far more than we can hear. The difference is that measuring equipment isn't biased as we are with any expectation.
 

AlmaataKZ

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WinterRacer said:
Thanks Craig, that's the article I was thinking of.

One point I think is important, I believe accurate kit is pleasing kit. The idea that it isn't I find very strange.
I agree.
 

AlmaataKZ

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Jan 7, 2009
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CnoEvil said:
I prefer the quote from Nelson Pass - "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgement. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers are for those who do not."

These two quotes nicely highlight the two diverging opinions, as to what is most important when buying a hifi system.....and there is no right or wrong, only what brings maximum joy to the owner.
that quote is so wrong imo! It is completely upside down and mixed up! Imo.
 

Frank Harvey

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Jun 27, 2008
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CnoEvil said:
"Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgement. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers are for those who do not."
I'm liking that. It doesn't mean I'm going to adopt it and live my life by it, but I like it :)
 

AlmaataKZ

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WinterRacer said:
the record spot said:
Very hard to achieve in standard audio. Very hard to achieve in passive or active systems too. You might get close, but recreating the "as is"? Nope. Hence why many folk go for "pleasing" and whatever version of "pleasing" you think that is.
Hard for turntables and speakers, especially passive ones.. I'd suggest we're there, or thereabouts for digital transports, streamers, DACs, SS Pre and power amps, oh yeah, nearly forgot cables in that list! :)
agree again!
 

drummerman

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spiny norman said:
FrankHarveyHiFi said:
Nothing will change.
Ash's to Ash's, so to speak
Quite normal that on a subject like this, active vs passive or the issue of topology will come into play if you ask me. Its all audio.

Perhaps hobby botanica is more peaceful? Mind you, there are probably some prickly issues too ...

regards
 
T

the record spot

Guest
AlmaataKZ said:
WinterRacer said:
the record spot said:
Very hard to achieve in standard audio. Very hard to achieve in passive or active systems too. You might get close, but recreating the "as is"? Nope. Hence why many folk go for "pleasing" and whatever version of "pleasing" you think that is.
Hard for turntables and speakers, especially passive ones.. I'd suggest we're there, or thereabouts for digital transports, streamers, DACs, SS Pre and power amps, oh yeah, nearly forgot cables in that list! :)
agree again!
And disagree. Again.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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AlmaataKZ said:
CnoEvil said:
I prefer the quote from Nelson Pass - "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgement. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers are for those who do not."

These two quotes nicely highlight the two diverging opinions, as to what is most important when buying a hifi system.....and there is no right or wrong, only what brings maximum joy to the owner.
that quote is so wrong imo! It is completely upside down and mixed up! Imo.
......and that is precisely why the two camps will never agree, or manage to change the mind of those with a different perspective.

There is no sense in buying a system just because it's (supposed to be) "accurate", if you hate the way it sounds, because it won't be listened to.....so logically, pleasure from the music is all that matters and the driving force behind any choice.

If that happens to be a system that (you believe) is as neutral, accurate and transparent as possible - great.....but even that is likely to have a subjective element to it.
 

lindsayt

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Apr 8, 2011
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WinterRacer said:
:... "Ethan Winer, an acoustics expert, states that gear passing all these criteria will not contribute any audible sound of its own and in fact sound the same as any other gear passing the same criteria. - Frequency Response: 20 hz to 20 Khz +/- 0.1 dB - Distortion: At least 100 dB (0.001%) below the music while others consider 80 dB (0.01%) to be sufficient and Ethan’s own tests confirm that. - Noise: At least 100 dB below the music - Time Based Errors – In the digital world this is jitter and the 100 dB rule applies for jitter components."...
I have a couple of problems with Ethan Winer's definition of transparent.

1. 20hz to 20khz +/- 0.1dB seems ridiculously strict. The room won't be flat to that extent. Concert halls aren't that flat. Recording booths in recording studios aren't flat to +/- 0.1dbs. Records are mixed with widely varying tonal balance, eg Dire Straits 1st album vs INXS. I think that +/-1 db would be good enough. Maybe even +/- 2dbs. Most systems don't come anywhere close to +/- 2dbs 20hz to 20khz.

2. No laboratory equipment is available to measure all forms of distortion. Only certain types of distortion at certain minimum power or volume levels can be measured with currently available equipment. He's setting a goalpost that can't be measured. Which seems a bit pointless to me. OK as an academic exercise. Useless as a practical exercise.

And 100db below the music is not 0.001% The db scale is logarithmic. So

-10dbs would be 10%,

-20db 1%,

-30db 0.1%

-40db 0.01%

-50db 0.001%

-60db 0.0001%

-70db 0.00001%

-80db 0.000001%

-90db 0.0000001%

-100db 0.00000001%
 

Singslinger

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Jul 31, 2010
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CnoEvil said:
I prefer the quote from Nelson Pass - "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgement. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers are for those who do not."

These two quotes nicely highlight the two diverging opinions, as to what is most important when buying a hifi system.....and there is no right or wrong, only what brings maximum joy to the owner.
Spot on. I have virtually no understanding of the measurements associated with audio, and to be honest, I have no interest in learning them. I have heard many very expensive systems that I was impressed with but didn't enjoy and conversely, have encountered lots of cheaper systems that are perhaps not as transparent but to my ears were a lot more listenable.
 

SpursGator

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Jan 12, 2012
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lindsayt said:
I have a couple of problems with Ethan Winer's definition of transparent.
Ethan Whiner's definition of transparent is intended to be provocative. And he succeeds.

WinterRacer, jitter has nothing to do with data errors and cannot cause a data error. Some of the most jitter-prone CD players are computer CD rom drives, which are 100% perfect as data devices, usually at many x the speed of CD playback.

As I spend more time on this forum I am learning. There are two camps.

I think that transparency is desirable but far less easy to define than Winer and others would have you believe. I also believe that neither measurements nor simple listening alone is adequate. I have other thoughts on the matter but I will refrain, since we JUST ARGUED ABOUT THIS TWO DAYS AGO in the other thread on transparency - although maybe we needed a new one that didn't start out by excoriating the WHF review team for not having a less normative standard for transparency in reviews. I've noticed that this is a common way to get things going - one of the more dogmatically biased forum regulars takes WHF to task for being...biased. Flame war ensues.

I try to stay open minded. But I've also heard two amps that measure almost identically on Winer's criteria sound totally different in the same system. It's a bit reductionist for me.
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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SpursGator said:
I try to stay open minded. But I've also heard two amps that measure almost identically on Winer's criteria sound totally different in the same system. It's a bit reductionist for me.
Either the measurements are incorrect, or the measured differences significant?

Some rational and thought provoking responses on this thread with the usual smattering of emotive and irrelevant ranting and sniping. It's why things are in general, never resolved.

Some questions that stand out in the noise, are that, if as suggested the most imortant thing about hifi is the enjoyment of music and that the best equipment is that which you enjoy the sound of the most, ie it's all subjective (and that is certainly the view of some) then does that not render ALL subjective reviews irrelevent except to the reviewer?

Another question, is that if the measurements are simply a guide and no more, why is it that 'upgrades' always tend towards the higher end (more expensive)?

Also, What references are used to quantify the audible superiority of equipment in a higher price bracket over cheaper alternatives?

I think that it is perfectly fine to have the view that if you like something then that's all that you need to know, but your opinion is based on the sound of something that can be measured and quantified, it has at the end of the day been designed to sound this way and its sound is very much measurable and repeatable. It has to be this way or every piece of this equipment would sound different. It's a manufacturing principle called quality.
 

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