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Re: audiophile
MacMacMac #2842820 04/27/19 03:50 AM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
The high-end always suffers from the law of diminishing returns.

As for this ...
Originally Posted by LarryK
Without audio gear, there is no sound, of course. Audio gear is a means to an end.
Tell that to these guys:
[Linked Image]


I don’t buy audio equipment as an investment, I buy it to listen to music at a high level of sound quality. Like cars, audio equipment depreciates, and is a terrible investment.

I care about sound quality in many areas of my life. I play the classical guitar. Can I hear the differences between a cheap factory built guitar and an expensive luthier made guitar when I play them with my own hands? Yes, I can, just like people on here can tell the difference between cheap pianos and expensive pianos.

A cheap guitar is better than no guitar, like a cheap audio system is better than no audio system, and a cheap piano is better than no piano, but what is the harm in trying to improve the sound of the things we surround ourselves with?

I moved to New York City twenty years ago in part to be able to hear more live music and to get away from having to buy cars. The most I ever spent on a car was $5k for a used one, before I moved to New York.

I saw the English Concert perform Handel’s oratorio Semele at Carnegie Hall the other weekend and I’ve been going to Angela Hewitt’s Bach series at the 92nd St Y. Both were excellent but I cannot fit the performers into my small apartment.

I care about the sound quality produced in my home because I listen to a lot of recorded music. Playing recorded music is the only way we have to hear from those who are dead. I believe that by trying to faithfully hear what they recorded, I am being respectful of their work.

Good sound systems provide more emotional impact than poor sound systems. That’s why I buy high quality gear, for the emotional impact, not because of depreciation schedules or anything else. You should hear the human voice on my stereo! Nina Simone can just bring me to tears. From all that gear, I have some inkling of what she sounded like on stage.

I still contend that people here are audiophiles by another name, because you care about the sound you produce on the piano and that is really no different than caring about the sound of a stereo system.

Last edited by LarryK; 04/27/19 03:59 AM.
Re: audiophile
Bruce In Philly #2842822 04/27/19 04:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
The biggest issue with he word "audiophile" is that it has become very pejorative and not flattering. "Some deluded nut that throws stupid money away to impress others"

That's your interpretation.
The correct one would be similar to @Macs: audiophile = someone who loves audio.

Naturally, if you love sth, you want it at the best quality possible. To some that means spending absurd amounts, to others even cheap stuff is enough, because they don't have the ears for it. My dad loves music but he simply doesn't have the ears to appreciate good equipment.
We all have different ears and hear differently.

Most audiophiles I encounter are really nice persons that just want to obsess a bit about a hobby they are passionate about. Kinda like us pianophiles. laugh

Personally, I'd rather have s/o buy fancy luxury speakers than spending the money in a bar getting drunk. There are worse ways to get rid of disposable income than buying fancy audio stuff and enjoying musical recordings.

Most people that I tell I spent 1.5K on the Focal Clear think I'm completely bonkers. Well I think they are quite mad for spending that much on lame clothing or for driving to some beach for 2 weeks in order to get drunk in another country. We are wired differently, and thus enjoy different things. Nothing wrong with that.

Last edited by Granyala; 04/27/19 04:13 AM.

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Re: audiophile
Granyala #2842828 04/27/19 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Granyala
Personally, I'd rather have s/o buy fancy luxury speakers than spending the money in a bar getting drunk. There are worse ways to get rid of disposable income than buying fancy audio stuff and enjoying musical recordings.

In another life, I was in the investment banking world on Wall Street. I know people who could spend $3-5K in a single night.

One of them worked for me. Received huge bonuses like everyone in that life, but would burn through all his money every year. Rented an apartment in Manhattan which cost more per month than his base salary. Sure people scoff at that sort of lifestyle, but frankly, I sometimes think there is more scorn aimed at audiophiles than people like my former employee. At least when I wake up in the morning, I still see my audio system.


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Re: audiophile
Bruce In Philly #2842836 04/27/19 05:10 AM
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I think sound quality is a weird thing.

I’ve often found my wife watching TV with awful sound, I've pressed a few buttons, got the sound coming out of my amp, and said “doesn’t that sound 1000 times better”?

Her response is always “I suppose so, wasn’t bothered by it though”. My son is exactly the same.

Often if I change settings on my amp to suit what we’re watching, neither can tell the difference.

Whereas my daughter is just like me.

It’s exactly the same when it comes to picture quality on our TV (not talking about resolution HD/SD). I’ll set it up so skin tones look right, my daughter will say how much better it looks, son and wife don’t see the difference.

I like good sound, but personally think after a certain price point, the quality isn’t any better. I’m not sure in a blind test that My £700 amp and speaker setup for my TV would sound any worse than a £15000 one (to me). Sure they will sound different, but I’m not convinced I would pick the expensive ones over the cheaper ones. Especially as I’m used to the sound from my current AVR.

Then there’s the quality of the original recording. I would have thought you could end up with such a high end perfect reproduction that it ends up showing the flaws in the recording rather than improving the overall sound? Or you have such a high end system that you end up having a ton of sound processing to get rid of say tape or vinyl noise, and then you can argue what else is the sound processing getting rid of that it shouldn’t be. It can sometimes end up with listening to say a live concert, where it feels anything but live as the sound is so perfect and noise free.

But we’re all different, what I’m happy with, someone else might think it’s awful.

I have cheap (under £200 the pair) Wharfdale Diamond 8.1 Pro Active monitors on my PC, plugged into a Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 audio interface (around £200). I’ve been to my local music store and tried out monitors costing hundreds each, and while they sound different , I’m not sure I would call the expensive ones better, just sounding different (mind you, was only playing synths though them in the store)

Someone else would compare my speakers with some of the ones I tried, and would be shocked that I didn’t find xyz to be much better.

With regards to Piano, I’ve had both MP10 and MP7 played through my sound interface/monitors. I actually preferred the mp7 action to the mp10. Sound wise, I often used VSTs, but zero complaints about either.

I recently bought a Casio PX-870 so that I had something with no distractions, I could turn the piano on and just practice. I’ve sold my Kawai’s and while the PX-870 has a completely different action, if I said I didn’t like it I would be lying.

I don’t miss the Kawai’s, but I suspect if I played them side by side I would say the Kawai action is 100 times better. Sound wise, can’t really compare, Kawai’s through my monitors v inbuilt speakers in my Casio, again I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, just different.

Then we come to headphones. I listen to my iPad in bed through dirt cheap (under £10) ear phones, and the sort of thing I’m watching/listening to, I’m more than happy.

My PC I have noise cancelling headphones for when I’m gaming, and they’re quite bassy, very very happy when gaming, although I can’t have the noise cancelling on else it makes me feel weird/nauseous. I used to have a pair of Shure headphones that cost around £60 for listening to piano and synth through my PC.

When I got my Casio, I bought a pair of Audio Tec M40X headphones for £77. With nothing to compare side by side (not counting gaming phones) I'm totally happy with them.

My finances aren’t what they once were due to ill health, so I couldn’t have spent more on phones even if I had wanted to. I play mainly through speakers, only use phones if late at night or doing something like scales and wife’s trying to watch TV. If I played through headphones most of the time, that would be completely different.

Last edited by Ojustaboo; 04/27/19 05:12 AM.
Re: audiophile
Granyala #2842837 04/27/19 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Granyala
Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
The biggest issue with he word "audiophile" is that it has become very pejorative and not flattering. "Some deluded nut that throws stupid money away to impress others"

That's your interpretation.
The correct one would be similar to @Macs: audiophile = someone who loves audio.

Naturally, if you love sth, you want it at the best quality possible. To some that means spending absurd amounts, to others even cheap stuff is enough, because they don't have the ears for it. My dad loves music but he simply doesn't have the ears to appreciate good equipment.
We all have different ears and hear differently.

Most audiophiles I encounter are really nice persons that just want to obsess a bit about a hobby they are passionate about. Kinda like us pianophiles. laugh

Personally, I'd rather have s/o buy fancy luxury speakers than spending the money in a bar getting drunk. There are worse ways to get rid of disposable income than buying fancy audio stuff and enjoying musical recordings.

Most people that I tell I spent 1.5K on the Focal Clear think I'm completely bonkers. Well I think they are quite mad for spending that much on lame clothing or for driving to some beach for 2 weeks in order to get drunk in another country. We are wired differently, and thus enjoy different things. Nothing wrong with that.


I don’t think you’re bonkers for buying the Focal Clears but I think you’re missing something if you don’t build a good two channel system. My reasoning is as follows. Bass is felt by the body, by the largest organs, it cannot be completely replicated by listening with just your ears, it has to be felt. I don’t mean ground shaking bass, I mean, tight, tuneful bass.

As a result of this logic, I have spent far more in building a two channel system than on my headphones, and I would never listen with only headphones. Sure, headphones let me practice the piano silently but they don’t sound anywhere near as good as my two speakers.

By the way, I don’t play loud. My neighbors have never complained about the loudness of my stereo. I bought speakers that were designed for small apartments and they have a bass controller unit that rolls off bass to avoid boominess.

As for diminishing returns, which I forgot to comment on, most people buy such cheap gear that they never get close to the area of diminishing returns.

Last edited by LarryK; 04/27/19 05:25 AM.
Re: audiophile
Ojustaboo #2842839 04/27/19 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Ojustaboo
I like good sound, but personally think after a certain price point, the quality isn’t any better. I’m not sure in a blind test that My £700 amp and speaker setup for my TV would sound any worse than a £15000 one (to me). Sure they will sound different, but I’m not convinced I would pick the expensive ones over the cheaper ones. Especially as I’m used to the sound from my current AVR.

As MacMacMac stated:
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
The high-end always suffers from the law of diminishing returns.

That said, it all comes down to relative affordability. All audiophiles are hobbyists to one degree or another and spending is spending toward that hobby.

My sister recently spent an ungodly amount on a new racing sailboat for my niece. It's 3.5x the cost of a regular sailboat in its class. My niece wanted that one because of newer materials, it was lighter and stiffer, which means the boat can go a bit faster, which matters since she races and is on the varsity racing team at her college. But you and I, non-sailboat racers, wouldn't be able to tell the difference and might even pick the less expensive ones instead.

Hobbyists often don't mind spending a percentage of their disposable income on their hobbies, while they might not for non-hobbies. For example, cars are not my hobby. I would never consider spending a "percentage" of my disposable income on a car. I just buy the car I need and that's that. I have no urges for owning a more expensive car. But this is different for hobbies. For many people with hobbies, they can conceive of the spending on their hobbies in percentage of disposable income terms. And if the specific allocated percentage allows them to buy things in the area of diminishing returns, then that is that.


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Re: audiophile
Bruce In Philly #2842841 04/27/19 05:38 AM
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I recently upgraded my amplifier. I won’t mention prices but the new one was 10x more expensive than the one it replaced. Is the difference audible? Absolutely. The new amp offers a huge improvement, in terms of separating the instruments and making each one clearly heard. My guitar teacher sat down and listened and delighted in picking out individual instruments. He kept thinking there was sound coming from a third speaker in the middle but there is no third speaker, that’s a trick of the brain in reconstituting a stereo recording. I tricked an electrician into thinking I was playing the cello in the living room when he was working in the kitchen, haha! Like, I’m Pablo Casals, lol.


Last edited by LarryK; 04/27/19 05:39 AM.
Re: audiophile
Bruce In Philly #2842843 04/27/19 05:48 AM
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I don’t believe that some people can’t hear the difference in the quality of sound from different systems, I think they can. Claiming they cannot is akin to saying that some people are tone deaf. In order to be truly tone deaf, you would have to not be able to recognize your own mother’s voice. How many people cannot recognize their own mother’s voice?

Sure, some people are more sensitive to different pitches but everybody can be trained to hear pitch more accurately.

My wife, who is not into all this stereo gear, sat down and listened to a bunch of Beatles albums that she had heard her entire life. She said she heard things in them that she had never heard before and that she had never heard them like that before.

Re: audiophile
LarryK #2842844 04/27/19 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
I don’t believe that some people can’t hear the difference in the quality of sound from different systems, I think they can.

Well, if by "some" you refer to a population larger than 5%, you are likely right. However, it is true that studies have shown that 4-5% of the population, at least in the US and UK, are afflicted with cognitive amusia.


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across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: audiophile
Bruce In Philly #2842849 04/27/19 06:08 AM
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What about the quality of the performance; do some people care about that?
Or is it all about how those upper frequencies cut beautifully through the mix on the newest high-end Sony Thisorthat NV11?

Re: audiophile
LarryK #2842850 04/27/19 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
I don’t think you’re bonkers for buying the Focal Clears but I think you’re missing something if you don’t build a good two channel system. My reasoning is as follows. Bass is felt by the body, by the largest organs, it cannot be completely replicated by listening with just your ears, it has to be felt. I don’t mean ground shaking bass, I mean, tight, tuneful bass.

Trust me I've tried.
I tried bass management (I use an AVR), I tried low volume (to the point that I had to strain to hear everything), my neighbor keeps hearing stuff and it enrages him.

He admits that he is super sensitive to it and the fact that my one room apartment was built in afterwards (they probably used crappy thin walls and no sonic isolation whatsoever) doesn't help the case.

As it stands, I can only experience "bass that you can feel" when I visit my friend and listen to his setup. There is no way I can enjoy a speaker setup unless I move and right now that's not in the cards for at least 2024 when my student loans are gone. I seriously doubt that I will ever earn enough in my life to call a house my own and be free to enjoy speakers w/o the constant "is this already too loud? Do I annoy s/o?".

Maybe next life. <_<

With headphone, I can let my guard down completely, relax and ... well.. usually fall asleep after a few tracks. Damn couch monster. >.<

Originally Posted by Pete14
What about the quality of the performance; do some people care about that?
Or is it all about how those upper frequencies cut beautifully through the mix on the newest high-end Sony Thisorthat NV11?

It goes w/o saying that you need a good performance AND a well done recording/mixing process to get the most out of expensive gear.
A lot of the mainstream stuff is mastered so badly that it becomes completely unlistenable unless you switch to cheaper, more forgiving gear.

Last edited by Granyala; 04/27/19 06:17 AM.

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Re: audiophile
LarryK #2842868 04/27/19 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
Good sound systems provide more emotional impact than poor sound systems. That’s why I buy high quality gear, for the emotional impact, not because of depreciation schedules or anything else. You should hear the human voice on my stereo! Nina Simone can just bring me to tears. From all that gear, I have some inkling of what she sounded like on stage.

I think this is the main different point of view.
You think "what a great system it is".
I would think "such a beautiful record" or "Nina Simone is so great here".

Probably I'm too easy to please. Any "decent" stereo system is fine with me. It's the music that matters.
Weather report on a superb hi-fi sound system does nothing for me.

Re: audiophile
Pete14 #2842873 04/27/19 08:41 AM
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With respect to piano (or any musical instrument) you bring up the most important point.
Originally Posted by Pete14
What about the quality of the performance; do some people care about that?
Or is it all about how those upper frequencies cut beautifully through the mix on the newest high-end Sony Thisorthat NV11?
It's the music and the performance that matter most.

Re: audiophile
siros #2842875 04/27/19 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by siros
Originally Posted by LarryK
Good sound systems provide more emotional impact than poor sound systems. That’s why I buy high quality gear, for the emotional impact, not because of depreciation schedules or anything else. You should hear the human voice on my stereo! Nina Simone can just bring me to tears. From all that gear, I have some inkling of what she sounded like on stage.

I think this is the main different point of view.
You think "what a great system it is".
I would think "such a beautiful record" or "Nina Simone is so great here".

Probably I'm too easy to please. Any "decent" stereo system is fine with me. It's the music that matters.
Weather report on a superb hi-fi sound system does nothing for me.




Actually, I am thinking of the beauty of her voice and how great she sounds. I just recognize that I can hear so much more depth and soul on a better system. I’ve heard the same tracks in the car and on cheap radios and I was never moved to the same extent as when I listen to them at home now.

By the way, there was a great documentary made a few years ago about Nina Simone life called What Happened, Miss Simone.

The effect is not confined to Nina, it holds for Sinatra, Elvis, Callas, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, anybody you want to name.

The trouble, of course, is defining what is  “decent.” What was decent when I was in high school is not decent now. Technology is constantly getting better. The music matters AND the quality of the playback matters.

I don’t buy this argument that high quality audio gear just exposes flaws in the recording process. Sure, it’s true to an extent but sound engineers have cleaned up recordings so they sound great.

Last edited by LarryK; 04/27/19 08:47 AM.
Re: audiophile
siros #2842876 04/27/19 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by siros
Any "decent" stereo system is fine with me.

Well, the good thing is, we live in a time where you don't have to drop 4 figure amounts to get great sound.

As much as I adore my Clear, from a value perspective it doesn't have a chance against my loyal (and still frequently used) DT-880.
It's pretty astounding how close you can get for a puny 170€. Same goes for amps, DACs and, to a lesser degree, speakers.

Though with speakers, positioning and room treatment are of paramount importance. Going from a bad position to a good one can be more noticeable than spending 2K on new speakers.

Bottom line: don't fret if you are content with cheaper stuff. I could be too but since I have the option of more I choose it.

Originally Posted by LarryK
Actually, I am thinking of the beauty of her voice and how great she sounds. I just recognize that I can hear so much more depth and soul on a better system. I’ve heard the same tracks in the car and on cheap radios and I was never moved to the same extent as when I listen to them at home now.

Pretty much.

Esp guitars and string instruments are absurdly real sounding on the Clear. As if I could reach out and touch them or as if my dad sat right in front of me and played.

I definitely get more emotionally involved with the Clear vs the DT-880 but I still cry when I play Cello music through both of them.

Last edited by Granyala; 04/27/19 08:49 AM.

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Re: audiophile
Tyrone Slothrop #2842877 04/27/19 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by LarryK
I don’t believe that some people can’t hear the difference in the quality of sound from different systems, I think they can.

Well, if by "some" you refer to a population larger than 5%, you are likely right. However, it is true that studies have shown that 4-5% of the population, at least in the US and UK, are afflicted with cognitive amusia.


That’s fine, 95-96% can hear the difference in sound quality of different systems. Thanks for the reference.

Re: audiophile
Granyala #2842883 04/27/19 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
I don’t think you’re bonkers for buying the Focal Clears but I think you’re missing something if you don’t build a good two channel system. My reasoning is as follows. Bass is felt by the body, by the largest organs, it cannot be completely replicated by listening with just your ears, it has to be felt. I don’t mean ground shaking bass, I mean, tight, tuneful bass.


Originally Posted by Granyala

Trust me I've tried.
I tried bass management (I use an AVR), I tried low volume (to the point that I had to strain to hear everything), my neighbor keeps hearing stuff and it enrages him.

He admits that he is super sensitive to it and the fact that my one room apartment was built in afterwards (they probably used crappy thin walls and no sonic isolation whatsoever) doesn't help the case.

As it stands, I can only experience "bass that you can feel" when I visit my friend and listen to his setup. There is no way I can enjoy a speaker setup unless I move and right now that's not in the cards for at least 2024 when my student loans are gone. I seriously doubt that I will ever earn enough in my life to call a house my own and be free to enjoy speakers w/o the constant "is this already too loud? Do I annoy s/o?".

Maybe next life. <_<

With headphone, I can let my guard down completely, relax and ... well.. usually fall asleep after a few tracks. Damn couch monster. >.<


The real trouble is dealing with recordings that have a wide dynamic range, that's something we haven't brought up. Listening to a Brahms symphony on a stereo is a trying experience because symphonic music has such a wide dynamic range. Tidal actually calculates dynamic range numbers per CD. A Klemperer recording of Brahms Symphony #2 has a dynamic range of 18. A Norah Jones CD has a dynamic range of 9. So, to listen to the first one, there is no way you're going to be able to avoid listening to some loud passages. I have had to explain this to my wife over and over. I can't ride the volume control all the time or I will lose the quiet passages.

At home, I don't listen to rock music at concert levels and, as a matter of fact, these days, I don't expose myself to amplified music without wearing 15dB cut plugs, and, for the most part, I avoid amplified live music, it is all too loud for my ears.

My apartment was built in the 1930s and has walls made out of hard plaster and lathe, so it does tend to cut down sound transmission into other apartments quite a bit compared to just a few sheets of sheetrock. My living room does not share a wall with a neighbor, that helps a lot.

Originally Posted by Granyala
A lot of the mainstream stuff is mastered so badly that it becomes completely unlistenable unless you switch to cheaper, more forgiving gear.


Can you provide some examples? I guess I don't listen to mainstream stuff because that has not been my experience at all, that a lot of it is is mastered so badly that it is unlistenable.

Last edited by LarryK; 04/27/19 09:05 AM.
Re: audiophile
LarryK #2842887 04/27/19 09:20 AM
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I have this problem in the car all the time ...
Originally Posted by LarryK
The real trouble is dealing with recordings that have a wide dynamic range, that's something we haven't brought up. Listening to a Brahms symphony on a stereo is a trying experience because symphonic music has such a wide dynamic range. ... I can't ride the volume control all the time or I will lose the quiet passages.

If by this you mean that recordings are compressed to death ...
Originally Posted by Granyala
A lot of the mainstream stuff is mastered so badly that it becomes completely unlistenable unless you switch to cheaper, more forgiving gear.
Can we somehow uncompress that music? I cannot, but I'd welcome a solution. But I can't see how cheaper gear might be more forgiving on that front. Perhaps you're referring to some deficit other than compression?

Re: audiophile
MacMacMac #2842891 04/27/19 09:36 AM
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Posts: 2,588
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Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 2,588
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I have this problem in the car all the time ...
Originally Posted by LarryK
The real trouble is dealing with recordings that have a wide dynamic range, that's something we haven't brought up. Listening to a Brahms symphony on a stereo is a trying experience because symphonic music has such a wide dynamic range. ... I can't ride the volume control all the time or I will lose the quiet passages.

If by this you mean that recordings are compressed to death ...
Originally Posted by Granyala
A lot of the mainstream stuff is mastered so badly that it becomes completely unlistenable unless you switch to cheaper, more forgiving gear.
Can we somehow uncompress that music? I cannot, but I'd welcome a solution. But I can't see how cheaper gear might be more forgiving on that front. Perhaps you're referring to some deficit other than compression?


I don’t mean highly compressed recordings, necessarily. The dynamic range is the range between the quietest sound on the recording and the loudest sound on the recording. This is basically the orchestra playing at pppp or ffff. Highly compressed recordings that have a narrow dynamic range are easily listenable at any volume level it’s just that they’re tiring because they don’t have a variation in loudness. Artists try to grab your ears by playing loud all the time. Google: The Loudness Wars.


Last edited by LarryK; 04/27/19 09:39 AM.
Re: audiophile
Bruce In Philly #2842905 04/27/19 10:00 AM
Joined: Jul 2018
Posts: 452
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Joined: Jul 2018
Posts: 452
A thought experiment......

Take a population of folks who enjoy music but are not aware of equipment as a factor.... your average music enjoyer. Now give them each a small stereo system for the kitchen or wherever they like to listen (could be just a mono table radio thing).

Now, put a good speaker and good electronics in one, and average cheap stuff in the other. The units look exactly the same.... give half the good stuff, half the average stuff.

Or..... take a set of headphones that look the exact same.... put average cheap stuff wire and drivers in one, good in the other.... give to piano players....... (you get the idea).

IMO, over time, the hours listened (or played) will be higher for the better stuff than the average stuff. Finding? Quality matters.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

Last edited by Bruce In Philly; 04/27/19 10:10 AM.

Peace
Bruce in Philly
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