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Audibly transparent

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Andrew Everard

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May 30, 2007
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JMacMan said:
I know it's semantics...lol... but if it isn't 100% transparent, isn't that opaque instead?
I think you'll find there are degrees of tranalucency inbetween: transparency and opacity are just the extremes.
 
J

jcbrum

Guest
Transparent is not the same thing as translucent.

Something may be both translucent and opaque, according to the degree of those qualities, but transparency excludes both.

JC
 
J

jcbrum

Guest
I don't think translucency has anything to do with HiFi, and I'm not sure about opacity either.

Transparency is an allusion, rather than an illusion, with reference to audio perception.

JC

edit: typo
 

hammill

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Mar 20, 2008
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jcbrum said:
Transparent is not the same thing as translucent.

Something may be both translucent and opaque, according to the degree of those qualities, but transparency excludes both.

JC
Opaque: Impenetrable by light; neither transparent nor translucent.
 
J

jcbrum

Guest
There are degrees of opacity, just as there are degrees of translucency.

If something trasmits 50% of incident light, it is 50% opaque, and translucent.

In the context of the OP, and thread title, 'Audibly transparent' means changes caused to the sound are undetectable by human hearing.

So, 'transparent' must be a 100% condition, in that context.

JC
 

ksoundwerx

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Jan 8, 2013
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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.)

It's a sense like sight and smell. Describe differences between greens on a colour chart and the variety of greens of springtime that you experience during a walk in the woods. Describe the colour of an old oak table in bright sunlight. The wood contains too many shades/hues and has too many reflected colours to just call it 'brown'. Describe the smell of leather without reference to leather. On top of this there all the personal associations and memories that forests, leather, old furniture etc. will have for you (just you) that cannot be conveyed adequately to another. Even artists and poets can only hope to try and communicate their impressions in any meaningful way. (They can't do yours. Although good ones can evoke or 'trigger' your own feelings and memories, they can't actually know that that will happen or put words to them.)

It's the same with hi-fi replaying recorded music. Someone who has heard a lot of their music collection live at concerts will have different impressions and memories and personal experiences than someone who has only ever heard music from stereos, radios, TVs etc. Their requirements of a system will differ. One experience is no more 'valid' than the other. We can't judge what the music from those people's systems will evoke in them. The concert goer is not more 'qualified' to choose a system for the other person or vice versa. However, they will have fundamentally differing musical 'triggers' when it comes to selecting a system they like. (As would someone who is actually a musician.)

Measurement merely goes as far as to tell you how well the component measures against tests accepted by the industry to demonstrate some degree of technical 'competence' and/or fitness for purpose, electrical safety and so on.

For every system described by it's owner as 'transparent' (or 'natural', 'organic', 'musical', 'smooth', 'fast' or whatever) there will be another person who finds it the opposite. (And I guarantee that will include any system whether active or not and whether costing £45 or £45,000.)

Back in the radiogram days people would say 'it has a nice tone' and would buy it, if it was the right price and suited their other furniture.

'It has a nice tone' says just as much to me as 'transparent'. (Ok it says more to me because I grew up in that era and know what it meant and how highly 'a nice tone' was valued.)

I'm rambling so thats it. Stopped now.
Chebby, that is an absolutley sublime post. Thank you.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and felt you have (as can best be) described the whole relationship between music, hifi and personal taste beautifully. The mix of those three things is why we are all here: sat down in front of our selected hifi components, with our chosen media source (CD, vinyl etc) and music selection (soul, electronica, rock) the combination is absolutely limitless, as is the very personal 'sound' or 'tone' we are looking for.

I find the whole transparency debate interesting, and it certainly makes sense on paper. But that doesn't mean it (whatever true transparency is) makes sense to the ear. My personal taste is to enjoy a warm lower end with crisp (but not shrill) highs. This is why I always come back to Marantz/Rotel and B&W speakers, as they seem to cater to my taste well. Is this sound classed as outside the tolerances of 'transparent'? I have no idea on the technical analysis of these components, but I do know that anything too clinical, too clean leaves me cold. I, and many more of us look for character, and if sometimes that can be put down to marginal non-transparency, then meh.

The pursuit of perfection, transparency or anything else it can be labelled as in hifi, is entirely paradoxical. Coming back to Chebby's analogy to furniture, the pursiut of transparancy to me sounds like aiming to make a chair made from completely perfect, uniform grain hardwood, machined on every face to within thous of an inch and put together by a computer program. A chair made with gnarly, imperfect wood and cobbled together by a one-eyed carpenter may not be perfect, but more appealing in every way. Horses for courses.

If the ultimate goal was for components to be made as neutral and clean as possibly and they ALL achieved that, where would be the fun in system pairing to bring out the character (flaws to some perhaps) to create that unique sound.
 

Andrew Everard

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jcbrum said:
There are degrees of opacity, just as there are degrees of translucency.

If something trasmits 50% of incident light, it is 50% opaque, and translucent.

In the context of the OP, and thread title, 'Audibly transparent' means changes caused to the sound are undetectable by human hearing.

So, 'transparent' must be a 100% condition, in that context.
Ah right – so you can degrees of one absolute, but not degrees of its opposite. Glad we optimised the pellucidity of that one... 8)
 

Covenanter

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Jul 20, 2012
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In relation to sound there is a clear definition:

"Of sound: clear, not blurred; without tonal distortion. " Shorter Oxford Enlsih Dictionary

Chris
 

Phileas

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May 5, 2012
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Covenanter said:
In relation to sound there is a clear definition:

"Of sound: clear, not blurred; without tonal distortion. " Shorter Oxford Enlsih Dictionary

Chris
Personally, I'm wary of quoting definitions like this from dictionaries. Dictionaries follow general usage which often changes over time and, of course, words often have many subtly different meanings.

I would say that transparent, in the context of this discussion, is very slightly different to that definition.
 
J

jcbrum

Guest
Andrew Everard said:
jcbrum said:
There are degrees of opacity, just as there are degrees of translucency.

If something trasmits 50% of incident light, it is 50% opaque, and translucent.

In the context of the OP, and thread title, 'Audibly transparent' means changes caused to the sound are undetectable by human hearing.

So, 'transparent' must be a 100% condition, in that context.
Ah right – so you can degrees of one absolute, but not degrees of its opposite. Glad we optimised the pellucidity of that one... 8)
Are you trying to write in clear english, Andrew ?

If people cannot properly understand the meaning of 'transparent', in an audio context, then you don't stand much chance with 'pellucid'.

:?

JC
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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19,195
Pronunciation: Brit. pellucid adj. + -tās (see -ty suffix1; compare -ity suffix). Compare earlier pellucid adj.The quality or condition of being pellucid; transparency, clarity, lucidity. Now chiefly fig.

1642 H. More Ψυχωδια Platonica sig. E, Nor did 't take in through pellucidity The penetrating light.1703 Philos. Trans. 1702–03 (Royal Soc.) 23 1332 The mistake lies in the pellucidity and fineness of those Pipes, which do most certainly touch the surface of the Sea before that any considerable motion be made in it, and that when the Pipe begins to fill with Water it then becomes opake and visible.1756 C. Lucas Ess. Waters i. 35 Our Thames..preserves her purity and pellucidity.1807 Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 97 313 From the perfect pellucidity of this water, its softness, and the absence of any obvious saline taste, I was led to suppose that it was uncommonly pure.1868 H. H. Milman Ann. St. Paul's Cathedral xviii. 463 With an incomparable ease and pellucidity of language.1904 Polit. Sci. Q. 19 124 Senator Hoar's work, while in general a paragon of pellucidity, leaves nevertheless one distressing uncertainty in the reader's mind.1949 Eastern Surv. 18 35/2 He offers us a marvel of pellucidity and Western cadences as a replica of something Chinese.1999 N.Y. Times 29 Aug. ii. 1 He is writing about jazz, about a musician making music, doing it with knowledge and pellucidity.
 

Covenanter

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Phileas said:
Covenanter said:
In relation to sound there is a clear definition:

"Of sound: clear, not blurred; without tonal distortion. " Shorter Oxford Enlsih Dictionary

Chris
Personally, I'm wary of quoting definitions like this from dictionaries. Dictionaries follow general usage which often changes over time and, of course, words often have many subtly different meanings.

I would say that transparent, in the context of this discussion, is very slightly different to that definition.
Yes but unless we have a common understanding of what a word means then using that word is pointless.

Perhaps WhatHiFi could publish a short glossary of the terms that they use in reviews so that we can have a common understanding!

Chris
 

WinterRacer

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Jan 14, 2009
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I quoted a scientific definition of "Audibly Transparent" in the first post of this thread.

In the context of this thread, my understanding of the definition is: A component without audible distortion. All audibly transparent components will sound identical. Once a component can be classified as audibly transparent, further improvments to performance are inaudible.

Perhaps someone with a better command of the English language could have a go at improving this definition.

My view is a large number of components fall in to this category, that is, most: speaker cables, analogue and digital interconnects, DACs, pre-amps, and SS power-amps. I am amazed that no review has ever found any two components that sound the same.
 

Electro

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Mar 30, 2011
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Covenanter said:
Phileas said:
Covenanter said:
In relation to sound there is a clear definition:

"Of sound: clear, not blurred; without tonal distortion. " Shorter Oxford Enlsih Dictionary

Chris
Personally, I'm wary of quoting definitions like this from dictionaries. Dictionaries follow general usage which often changes over time and, of course, words often have many subtly different meanings.

I would say that transparent, in the context of this discussion, is very slightly different to that definition.
Yes but unless we have a common understanding of what a word means then using that word is pointless.

Perhaps WhatHiFi could publish a short glossary of the terms that they use in reviews so that we can have a common understanding!

Chris
Like this one :)

http://www.newformresearch.com/audiophile2.htm

Or this one is better ,

http://www.integracoustics.com/MUG/MUG/bbs/stereophile_audio-glossary.html
 

Phileas

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May 5, 2012
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Actually, I think the definition in the context of the OP is quite, well, transparent. This thread should not be confused with the other one directed at WHF reviewers.

Edit: I see WR beat me to it.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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Singslinger said:
CnoEvil said:
Phileas said:
Actually, I think the definition in the context of the OP is quite, well, transparent.
Definition of more Transparent is less Fogg, Phileas! :oops:
And so around and around we go... :rofl:
.......I take it that you mean, "around the world we go", but it seems to take a lot less than the usual 80 days. :twisted:
 

WinterRacer

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Jan 14, 2009
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This is a quote from a blog and I feel relevant to a discussion of what might be audibly transparent vs. the view that 'huge night and day differences' exist between components such as speaker cables.

Google "Steve Zipser Yamaha Pass blind" to learn about the most public debunking of audiophool myth about the "sound" of electronic parts.

To summarize, a loudmouth Miami audio dealer was unable to tell the difference between flagship Pass amps and a humble "mid-fi" Yamaha integrated amp when biases were controlled, though he obviously heard big differences when he knew that what was playing because he was listening to his biases and not the music. This comparison took place in the dealer's own reference system in his own home, with his own musical selections he picked because he thought they clearly revealed "differences" in amp "sound."

There's plenty more out there like this if you care to look.
 

Singslinger

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Jul 31, 2010
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CnoEvil said:
Singslinger said:
CnoEvil said:
Phileas said:
Actually, I think the definition in the context of the OP is quite, well, transparent.
Definition of more Transparent is less Fogg, Phileas! :oops:
And so around and around we go... :rofl:
.......I take it that you mean, "around the world we go", but it seems to take a lot less than the usual 80 days. :twisted:
:) :cheers:
 

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