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Weekend at Harry's

206.255.211.134

Posted on February 28, 2011 at 18:30:03
E-Stat
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When I was in college in the 70s, I worked part time at a hi-fi shop in Atlanta. While I never made much money, what I did find proved to be far more valuable over time. It was through that association I met a number of people who became good friends and mentors to this young audio enthusiast. John Cooledge (former TAS writer JWC) would periodically come by the shop and invite the guys over to his house to sample his latest audio goodies. It was then and there I developed my fondness for electrostats with his Dayton-Wrights. It is also where I met Harry Pearson. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit Sea Cliff numerous times and just got back from a long weekend there.

These visits have always been learning experiences along with providing aural, visual and culinary delights. Every time serves to recalibrate my perspective of what audio and video systems can do and each time I marvel at what is available today. I’ve been to a number of audio shows, but they really do not provide an ideal environment to get the full measure of what the best systems can do. I wish others could share in my fortune and experience the same exposure to a world that I would otherwise not really know. From the outset, what you will find is that all three of his systems are phenomenally transparent. I do not use that adjective lightly. Play any piece of music that you know intimately and you will hear detail that you’ve never heard before. You find yourself rediscovering your old friends. While the exact make up of his systems constantly change, what remains constant is the level of quality. I’m not suggesting that he alone has found the “best”, but whatever you do find delivers spectacular performance. In 1980, the IRS system defined for me the concept of “authority”. The 2000 Nola Grand Reference system was the first system I heard that truly made the walls disappear. The current Scaena system adds better coherency - especially at the bottom where the four “depth charge” subs offer no excuses for any subterranean content you care to throw at them.

What triggered this post was some observations over at planar about the new Magnepan 3.7s. He has a pair in room 2 and I spent a lot of time listening to them both with HP and Mike Hobson (of Classic Records and HRT fame) and by myself. One of my challenges has always been to understand the capabilities of his systems. To that end, I always bring a collection of CDRs to help calibrate my ears to exactly what I’m hearing. It was also in that room that I spent a lot of time evaluating the 20.1s a number of years ago. So, how good are the 3.7s? Exceptionally so. I confess to having a particular passion (fanaticism?) about coherency which is why I like full range electrostats. Magneplanar ribbon tweeters have always offered extended response and “sweetness”, but have sometimes come across to me as belonging to a different speaker than the rest of the “quasi” ribbon drivers. The 3.7s impress me as closing that gap between earlier Maggies and single driver based systems. Here you find a speaker that is exceptionally coherent throughout its range. I should mention that hearing tri-amped Tympani IIIs in 1974 was a turning point in my audio awareness. At the time, they brought me closer to realizing my perspective of how a speaker should disappear and sound like live music. 3.7 shortcomings? They are few and expected given the physical constraints of the design: the bottom octave hasn’t fully reported for duty and image height (not depth) is slightly limited as compared with what floor to ceiling line sources can do. And I found the system just a bit bright for my tastes. I will be quick to admit that I don’t find systems which are measurably flat on top to sound truly natural to me. Wendell put 1.2 ohm attenuators on the tweeters. I might opt for a slightly different value. Let me also suggest that you consider using high quality fuses. I use Hi-Fi Tuning fuses in the backplates of my Sound Labs and HP was using Furutechs in the Maggies. I think they are a must to maintain the transparency of high performance speakers of all flavors. Other than that, the speakers offer no excuses. Which - in a sense creates a bit of a quandary and illustrates a realization that I have come to understand in the past couple of years. I find that I am arguing with myself. My mentors drilled into me the concept of starting with and building a system around the very best speaker you could find that fits your set of compromises. Source and electronics are important, but it is the speaker that rules. As of late, I find that I have turned closer to becoming a “Linnie” understanding that the source is what really determines the quality of everything that follows. These speakers assert that position. What I heard was an $85k analog and digital front end driving them to an exceptionally high level of transparency. Unfortunately, my guess is that many happy buyers of them will never fully appreciate their full potential. The big Scaenas offer more scale and bass power, but speak no more faithfully to the musical truth. That is saying something for the comparatively modest price they command. They can show you all the magic that is the EMM Labs XDS1 player or a VPI Classic with a Benz using the Veloce electronics playing one of Mike’s best recordings. I heard one of those incredibly realistic sounding recordings that you’ll read about in part II of HP’s assessment of the speakers. While I wasn’t able to directly compare them to the 20.1s (which I did hear in the MC/HT system), my take is they give up only some scale and a bit of first octave bass. Bottom line is that I could find myself quite happy with a pair.

As a videophile as well, no visit would be without sampling the HT system. This is a projection system using a three gun Sony unit on a 100 odd inch screen using a very nice audio system sourced by a Krell processor, Oppo player, Edge electronics, and a mix of Magneplanar 20.1s for the front, the latest CCRs (?) for center and 3.6s in the rear supplemented with three Nola Thunderbolt subs. Picture quality and color saturation is beyond belief. What struck me most, however, was the sound. Here are two instances. One night, I played Twister with Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton and I heard something that I’ve never heard before and hope I never hear live. Have you ever been to Disney and ridden the “Tower of Terror”? If you have, you know that there is a time when your car falls without warning. While you can intellectualize that you are on a completely safe ride, there is a split second during the “fall” when your primal instincts kick in and you find yourself in true fear. I felt a similar reaction viewing the movie on the Maggie system. There were two instances where you could hear truly unsettling sounds from the shrieks and growls of extreme wind found near a tornado. The instinctual feeling of fight-or-flight kicked in for an instant and I wanted to get the hell out of there! I had never before heard those exact sounds nor felt that sensation before then. And I never want to again for real. On another night, I was channel surfing on Dish Network and found Avatar in 5.1 HD. Say what you will about the story line, but the effects and the spectacular alien landscape are worth the viewing. Later in the film, there is a scene where Jake is riding Toruk (as “Toruk Makto”) with other Ikran flying about. I have seen the film countless times in IMAX 3D, other theatres and at home and have never heard the sound of the wings beating in the air sounding so realistic and utterly natural. Truly amazing.

Finally, I always enjoy sampling the Sea Cliff area Japanese restaurants for sushi. If you enjoy such and are ever in that area, I heartily recommend going to kiraku. The salmon sake sashimi melts in your mouth and I was introduced to a new treat – thinly sliced scallop sashimi. That was positively wonderful in its delicacy. High definition sushi nicely complemented the other sensual delights.

rw

edit: For any of you who would like to be an audio reviewer, its a lot of work. Harry has a two car garage and for at least thirty years it has housed audio boxes, not his car. A French made CD player needed to be returned and he asked if I could re-box the unit. No problemo. First of all, the player had the weight of a sumo. I got the huge box and wondered why the box itself weighed so much. The answer is that inside was a metal suitcase with fitted inserts for the player and accessories. That made packing the suitcase pretty easy. It didn't, however, reduce the task of putting the combined bulk into the outer carton. It came with a clever T-handled rope and plastic sled that fit underneath the unit to assist with the hoisting. You could then pick up everything with four handles. Ideally, however, with two guys. It was then I remembered an old audio store trick and decided it would be easier to put the box on the player than doing it the other way around. Also, I moved a phono preamp from room #2 into room #3. So how much can a phono preamp weigh? When it comes in two pieces and looks like and has the heft of monoblock amplifiers, the answer is a bunch. You'll have to wait to hear about this unit.

 

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RE: Weekend at Harry's, posted on March 1, 2011 at 19:28:18
bjh
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Lucky Basit


 

RE: Weekend at Harry's, posted on March 2, 2011 at 11:01:27
josh358
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Thanks, great review. It's interesting too to hear that HP's system is so clean.

 

HP still the father of the high end., posted on March 2, 2011 at 16:09:33
ruxtonvet
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HP is still the most honest golden eared reviewer out there. All of us who enjoy music on a high end system owe him our thanks.

 

RE: HP still the father of the high end., posted on March 2, 2011 at 17:01:52
jimdgoulding@yahoo.com
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Appreciate your article, E-Stat. A lot.

 

RE: Weekend at Harry's, posted on March 2, 2011 at 18:15:18
I trust your evaluation. People should take note. HP gets results that few achieve. His standard is significantly higher than most. Some people might be put off by the astrology or the weed.

 

He came on a little late for that, didn't he?, posted on March 2, 2011 at 18:18:27
Pat D
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In any case, I find it a little strange to give such a title to any audio reviewer. I'd look to Paul Klipsch, Peter Walker, Edgar Villchur, and others who made advances in design and/or manufactured excellent equipment.
-----
"A fool and his money are soon parted." --- Thomas Tusser

 

But without HP and TAS..., posted on March 2, 2011 at 19:04:48
mkuller
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...you would probably not know about most of the high end products of the past 40 years.

And would have a difficult time describing what you hear.

Assuming you do.

 

RE: But without HP and TAS..., posted on March 2, 2011 at 19:12:33
Pat D
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I am not aware that I owe anything to either HP or TAS.
-----
"A fool and his money are soon parted." --- Thomas Tusser

 

You for one here..., posted on March 2, 2011 at 19:14:01
mkuller
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...probably don't.

For you, it's all the same.

 

apparently you dont know, posted on March 2, 2011 at 22:13:08
hifitommy
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the difference between a REVIEWER (hp, JGH,JA,RH, etc) and a DESIGNER (Paul Klipsch, Peter Walker, Edgar Villchur, and others).

it shows how much you really pay attention. youre too busy trying to discredit others and not busy enough realizing that you have a lot to learn. too bad you dont enjoy this hobby.
...regards...tr

 

Apparently you can't read., posted on March 3, 2011 at 05:33:32
Pat D
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My post quite explicitly made a distinction between reviewing and designing. Do you want to read the text again? Here it is.

"In any case, I find it a little strange to give such a title to any audio reviewer. I'd look to Paul Klipsch, Peter Walker, Edgar Villchur, and others who made advances in design and/or manufactured excellent equipment."

I should point out that HP started HP in 1973 and JGH started S'phile in 1962. HP was a latecomer. So was JGH for that matter. Audio magazine began in 1947. High Fidelity magazine started in 1951. Stereo Review began in 1958.

But I also said I wouldn't give the title of 'father of the high end' to any reviewer. Why should I?
-----
"A fool and his money are soon parted." --- Thomas Tusser

 

It is you who has difficulty reading, posted on March 3, 2011 at 06:02:26
E-Stat
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The reference was to the high end, not run of the mill.

rw

 

Would you actually call a reviewer 'father of the high end'?, posted on March 3, 2011 at 06:14:22
Pat D
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GMAB
-----
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I'll just give you, posted on March 3, 2011 at 06:24:35
E-Stat
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a big smile for not understanding.

rw

 

How about Godfather? Uncle? Next door Neighbor?, posted on March 3, 2011 at 07:24:56
kerr
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But I think reviewers should be included in the voting for the various royal titles to the High End.

Peter Aczel gets my vote for Redheaded Stepchild and Beheaded Court Jester, Twice Removed, of the High End.

 

"Assuming you do" - not in this case. Not by a long shot. N/T, posted on March 3, 2011 at 09:06:14
carcass93
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N/T

 

Without Edison, we'd all be sitting in the dark. No Ben Franklin, no electricity., posted on March 3, 2011 at 09:47:00
Enophile
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If no HP and TAS, there would have been some other guy filling the niche.

Nothing at all against HP or TAS, I value both, but I won't go along with the notion that if it weren't for HP we wouldn't have knowledge of any high end gear from the last 40 years.

Hell, for all we know, there were more audiophiles buying Hi Fi gear before the hobby got ruined by us "aficionados."

I'll go search and try to compare circulation numbers now vs. the electronic/hobbiest magazines from before HP. It may be enlightening!





 

Another scientist would discover electricity, just a little later., posted on March 3, 2011 at 09:52:55
carcass93
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Many discoveries were arrived at independently, by different scientists, at about the same time.

Where do you see the difference, exactly?

 

RE: Another scientist would discover electricity, just a little later., posted on March 3, 2011 at 10:23:37
Tony Lauck
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Agreed.

"If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search... I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety per cent of his labor.
Nikola Tesla, New York Times, October 19, 1931"

Tony Lauck

"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar

 

Exactly. As I said, "If no HP and TAS, there would have been some other guy filling the niche.", posted on March 3, 2011 at 10:27:32
Enophile
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I also think it's fair to see if there has been a detrimental effect on interest in the hobby as a result of this move toward ever more connoisseurship.






 

Yes, "The High End" is a marketing segment created by peddlers, not engineers or scientists, posted on March 3, 2011 at 10:33:02
Tony Lauck
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"The High End" is a marketing category. It is entirely possible that HP was very important in the creation of this marketing segment.

It is questionable whether the quality of music that most of us listen to is better because of the existence of this marketing segment. It is entirely possible that without this artificial market segmentation the overall quality of run of the mill equipment (previously called Hi-Fi, now called mid-fi) would be better. And well before this artificial marketing segmentation there were niche products that were priced out of the range of all but a fraction of audiophiles.

Tony Lauck

"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar

 

I thought it was clear what point I was trying to make..., posted on March 3, 2011 at 10:49:37
carcass93
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I was wondering why you see journalists as hypothetically replaceable, but not scientists.

Tony below seemingly understood that.

 

My point was the opposite. Those were examples of fallacies regarding scientific achievement., posted on March 3, 2011 at 11:10:38
Enophile
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Try it again with your "sarcasm cap" on and I bet you'll see what I meant. People act as though without Marconi, we'd have never had wireless communication for the masses.

I thought it was clear the point I was making was that even without those "discoverers" I mentioned, we would not presently lack for what they discovered.

Hope that's clearer.

My point was that they are are replaceable and we'd end up with the same benefits.








 

Perhaps..., posted on March 3, 2011 at 11:49:46
mkuller
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...but he DID.

 

Why should you..., posted on March 3, 2011 at 11:51:05
mkuller
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...even be posting here in Critic's Corner?

 

Not true then..., posted on March 3, 2011 at 11:56:49
mkuller
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...in the early 1970s, High End were the manufacturers who were focused on producing "musically accurate" audio reproduction equipment.

Like Magneplanar, Marantz, Citation, Audio Research, Quad, Infinity and Levinson to name a few.

As opposed to the mass market Japanese rack systems, if you recall.

The early days of solid state electronics were no friend to music.

Perhaps today your comment might be more applicable.

 

Or in any other, except for Speakers and Music, for that matter. N/T, posted on March 3, 2011 at 12:02:36
carcass93
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N/T

 

RE: Not true then..., posted on March 3, 2011 at 12:21:47
Tony Lauck
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I was pretty well out of audio during the 1970's, after being in it throughout the entire 1960's, so I can't speak about that time period. I didn't buy any new equipment (just more LPs and a few prerecorded tapes) through this period. I was content with my Marantz 7T and MAC 275 that I inherited from my grandfather.

It was only after the CD vs. LP debate heated up in the 80's that I started getting new equipment, starting with an infamous Sony CDP-101, which was still working a few years ago when I last recall powering it up. Well made, but sounded like s***. In the 80's I also started to read TAS. And yes, I agree the early rack systems were pretty horrible on those occasions that I heard them.




Tony Lauck

"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar

 

RE: Not true then..., posted on March 3, 2011 at 12:31:32
rick_m
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"The early days of solid state electronics were no friend to music."

Can you think of anything whose early days WERE a friend to music?

I can't off-hand. It usually takes a good three generations before a truly new technology gets debugged enough to start delivering on it's original hype.

Actually I'm still not all that impressed with stereo, I'd rather have hi-res binaural.

Rick

 

RE: CDP-101, posted on March 3, 2011 at 12:35:03
rick_m
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I've still have mine moldering away in the basement and a service manual for them. You really should start a collection...

Rick

 

RE: CDP-101, posted on March 3, 2011 at 12:38:13
Tony Lauck
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Unfortunately, I sold the MAC-275. Big mistake. :-(

Tony Lauck

"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar

 

RE: My point was the opposite. Those were examples of fallacies regarding scientific achievement., posted on March 3, 2011 at 12:56:48
rick_m
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I think I get you. You're saying that by now we would be chatting on AA even without Al Gore...

But probably not without Rod.

Rick

 

RE: My point was the opposite. Those were examples of fallacies regarding scientific achievement., posted on March 3, 2011 at 13:04:47
Tony Lauck
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"You're saying that by now we would be chatting on AA even without Al Gore... "

Maybe by this late date, even without Vint Cerf,... :-)


Tony Lauck

"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar

 

RE: Not true then..., posted on March 3, 2011 at 13:34:21
Pat D
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My old Kef 104 speakers came out in 1973, I believe. the year TAS began. I can't see that HP and other reviewers had much to do with it. It was one of the speakers using computer aided designs.

Which is part of my point. I can't see that HP and most other equipment reviewers had much of anything to with advances in audio. Julian Hirsch at least encouraged manufacturers to provide accurate specifications for electronics.
-----
"A fool and his money are soon parted." --- Thomas Tusser

 

RE: Not true then..., posted on March 3, 2011 at 14:58:03
josh358
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Julian Hirsch touted equipment that sounded like crap. I credit him with playing a role in my own audio education, but measurements aren't all: the sound quality of the equipment I bought took a quantum leap when I discovered first Stereophile and then The Absolute Sound (with Issue 2: HP sent you the first issue too when you subscribed).

 

RE: Or in any other, except for Speakers and Music, for that matter. N/T, posted on March 3, 2011 at 14:58:29
Pat D
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Speaking of speakers, just what are those new speakers you got? The ones that replaced your Kefs.
-----
"A fool and his money are soon parted." --- Thomas Tusser

 

HP really does merit the title, though, posted on March 3, 2011 at 15:04:36
josh358
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IMO. Having lived through that period and watched what happened. And not, I should add, liking all of it.

Pluses: better sound and a community that helps people achieve it
Minuses: equipment that's overpriced for what it is, snake oil

 

More today I supect than in the past, posted on March 3, 2011 at 15:08:26
josh358
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because there's no "mid fi" left to bring new blood into the hobby. Even though there is still a good selection of modestly-priced, high value gear, some of it reviewed in Stereophile and TAS, kids get scared by $1000 cables and $40,000 speakers, and it's hard to blame them.

 

RE: Not true then..., posted on March 3, 2011 at 15:11:34
Pat D
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I never even auditioned anything based on a TAS review. My dealer had Kef 104 speakers, which sounded better than just about anything else in town, and I read a couple of British reviews who liked them. One of them supplied some measurements, though nothing like those supplied nowadays by Soundstage and Stereophile. I followed the methods laid out by Julian Hirsch, who suggested auditioning speakers with a good variety of familiar recordings. At the time, I discovered I had no really good choral recordings.

Before I got the Quad ESL-63's, I had auditioned them several times over the years. I also had read a number of reviews, including Dick Heyser's not so favorable one in Audio, with measurements, of course, and quite favorable reviews in Stereo Review and High Fidelity. So I have experienced a lot of room placement issues with dipoles.

Several years ago, I went to wide dispersion forward radiating speakers and haven't looked back.
-----
"A fool and his money are soon parted." --- Thomas Tusser

 

RE: Another scientist would discover electricity, just a little later., posted on March 3, 2011 at 15:17:42
josh358
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Cute quote, but then there's "I can hire mathematicians at $15 a week but they can't hire me." - Thomas Edison

Which reminds me of a story my 7th grade science teacher told us. It seems that Edison had given a light bulb to a mathematician and asked him to make an accurate calculation of its volume. The next day, the mathemetician returned and confessed that he'd been unable to do so. Edison took the bulb, filled it with water, and poured the contents into a graduated beaker.

 

Julian Hirsch at least... , posted on March 3, 2011 at 15:25:28
mkuller
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...encouraged manufacturers to provide accurate specifications for electronics.>

Unfortunatley the measurements at that time had very little to do with the way the components sounded playing music.

There is only a little more correlation today.

The top reviewers of the day never claimed to advance audio technology and design - only to identify the equipment which was able to sound the most like music and describe their positive traits and shortcomings with terms we have come to take for granted today.

HP coined "soundstaging" and "dynamic contrasts" among many other terms.

His reviews were very influential in the design of high end products - manufacturers took his criticism and modified their equipment to do a better job of reproducing music.

And as he has mentioned, he helped Marantz and Dahlquist voice the DQ-10 loudspeaker in his room.

A classic speaker and my first entry into high end.

 

RE: Not true then..., posted on March 3, 2011 at 15:26:59
josh358
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It was through TAS and Stereophile that I learned about the Tympani 1-D's, surely the most fulfilling audio purchase I ever made. They were, for all their flaws, light years ahead of any box then made, and in one area at least -- midbass reproduction -- remain unsurpassed, all these years later. Amount paid? $700, used, to a guy in New Jersey. They go for more today.

I hadn't heard them when I bought them. I can't think of many critics whose ears I'd trust to that extent. In fact, while it may be a function of the fact that I don't follow this stuff the way I used to, I can think of only one: HP.

 

RE: Another scientist would discover electricity, just a little later., posted on March 3, 2011 at 15:27:32
Tony Lauck
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Cute quote, but then there's "I can hire mathematicians at $15 a week but they can't hire me." - Thomas Edison

All of which proves that Edison was more a businessman than anything else. However, when it comes to simultaneous invention the situation is the same with mathematicians. There are many examples, e.g. the invention of calculus by Newton and Leibniz.

Tony Lauck

"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar

 

"kids get scared by $1000 cables and $40,000 speakers" - that's NOT TRUE., posted on March 3, 2011 at 15:29:22
carcass93
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Now, had you said "Kids have no idea, and don't give a s..t about $1000 cables and $40,000 speakers" - I would agree with you. I just don't see why it's a bad thing - this hobby is relatively exclusive, and let it stay that way.

 

RE: Julian Hirsch at least... , posted on March 3, 2011 at 15:34:40
josh358
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The concept of the sound stage had, I think, a huge positive effect on speaker design. Before HP called attention to it, we treated stereo as essentially a lateral phenomenon, despite the fact that the enhanced reproduction of depth is discussed in Blumlein's original patent. Such imaging as occurred was almost accidental, what with enclosure diffraction, asymmetrical driver arrangements, poor speaker placement and acoustics, and bad polar response. And yet when I first heard it, imperfectly realized in a friend's KLH-9's, I realized right away that an entire dimension had been missing from my listening. There followed a period of frantic and ultimately failed experimentation in an attempt to get my own speakers, a pair of AR-11's, to do the same trick.

So much for the measurements of the time! It was an important lesson in what counts.

 

-N-O-T- TRUE., posted on March 3, 2011 at 15:42:18
josh358
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At least is is according to what kids have told me, in at least one case on the Asylum. Their image of us audiophiles is a bunch of overweight 50 year old guys with scruffy beards, spending thousands on gear that nobody cares about.

Now you might say what matter if the hobby doesn't attract new blood? From a personal perspective, and aside from a vague feeling of melancholy and personal obsolescence, it probably doesn't. Audio and video paid the rent for many years, for which I'm sincerely grateful -- how many people find people gullible enough to pay them to do their hobby? And even if the audio business were to disappear overnight, I could keep myself happy forever with what's available on Audiogon, or for that matter from Parts Express.

But I like to think that others will have the same opportunity I did to enjoy good sound, and the deep pleasure it's given me over the years. And if we don't attract new blood, fewer people will.

 

"I can't see that HP and other reviewers had much to do with it.", posted on March 3, 2011 at 15:43:26
E-Stat
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Correct. HP reviewed in in issue 8 and found its upper midrange peak unbearable, despite being non-boxy sounding and having good imaging. Computer analysis can as quickly create problems when you make the wrong assumptions as it can provide solutions. Early integrated circuits such as the LM301 were also computer designed - and horrible sounding!

rw

 

RE: Another scientist would discover electricity, just a little later., posted on March 3, 2011 at 15:52:45
josh358
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Agree entirely about simultaneous invention. Not so much about Edison! He unquestionably had creative genius, along with his well-known appetite for work. He himself said that he saw money as a metric of his success. But there are a lot of very successful suits who could never have invented the phonograph, and a lot of mathematicians, as well. In fact, almost nobody could have invented the phonograph just then, although, per your point, it would have happened eventually since the time was ripe owing to a propitious confluence of basic knowledge and technology. One fellow had even recorded sound on disks coated with carbon black, although there was then no way to play it back.

 

RE: "I can't see that HP and other reviewers had much to do with it.", posted on March 3, 2011 at 16:22:02
Pat D
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That proves HP didn't know what he was talking about-either that or you misidentified the speaker as Kef had later speakers which have 104 in the designation, such as 104.2, etc. Aside from several reviewers and myself, let's see what Paul Barton had to say about it.

"Barton: Yes. I would definitely agree with that. Can I talk about other speakers? It's one that no longer exists, but the original KEF R104aB was very flat on-axis. But they crossed the tweeter over way too high. If you put a pair in a room that had reflections, it was a very laid-back speaker. Very distant-sounding. Very pleasant.

Atkinson: Because of the lack of presence-region energy in the room?

Barton: Because the total energy wasn't there. The 104 was a very well-respected loudspeaker, and quite frankly worked well in a dead-end/live-end situation, which was at that time the way KEF designed loudspeakers. But it was very room- and placement-sensitive."

I agree with Barton's remarks on the Kef 104aB (and the earlier version, the 104). Upper midrange peak my foot!


-----
"A fool and his money are soon parted." --- Thomas Tusser

 

RE: Julian Hirsch at least... , posted on March 3, 2011 at 16:35:18
Pat D
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I can assure that my old Kef 104 speakers,which came out in 1973, could do plenty of depth of image, and indeed, there is an LP I have somewhere called "Depth of Image" on Opus 3.
-----
"A fool and his money are soon parted." --- Thomas Tusser

 

RE: Julian Hirsch at least... , posted on March 3, 2011 at 17:02:54
josh358
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E-Stat just mentioned that, it seems that HP praised their imaging in Issue 8 of TAS. But I don't think that affects my point, which is that before HP came on the scene, speakers weren't designed with the reproduction of depth in mind. Even if they'd wanted to do that, they wouldn't have known how. Clearly, though, Blumlein had observed the phenomenon back in the 30's, so there were speakers that did it.

I watched a demo stereo film made by Blumlein at a SMPTE presentation once, and the imagining was spectacular, even in a commercial movie theater. He was walking around on a stage, and you could hear not just his lateral position, but his distance from you.

 

RE: Julian Hirsch at least... , posted on March 3, 2011 at 17:20:33
Tony Lauck
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My old high school audio buddy, J. Peter Moncrief, had a pair of KLH-9's at his apartment in Boston in the 60's and I was amazed at the depth. But getting good imaging was nothing new, we used to take our KLH-6's to the chapel and play prerecorded tapes (around 1960). We couldn't get enough volume though to match a large orchestra in this room that would seat several hundred people. But the quiet portions were pretty realistic if you didn't mind tape hiss.


Tony Lauck

"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar

 

RE: Weekend at Harry's, posted on March 3, 2011 at 17:31:52
Pat D
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I'm happy that you enjoyed your visit with HP at Sea Cliff. He must have lots of good equipment on hand, and I understand he has an extensive collection of recordings. HP gave the Keynote Address at RMAF 2009. He seems to be a friendly and intelligent person. I'm sure he is very hospitable.
-----
"A fool and his money are soon parted." --- Thomas Tusser

 

RE: Julian Hirsch at least... , posted on March 3, 2011 at 17:59:57
josh358
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AFAIK, good imaging did happen, as evidenced by Blumlein's original patent, but it seems to have been a pretty much hit-or-miss affair. Forex, I gather the KLH-6's were symmetrical two-ways, but my AR-11's were asymmetrical -- midrange and tweeter side by side, but not mirror imaged. Which caused problems with crossover lobes, too, something that wasn't understood until a few years later. Also, I don't think the deleterious effect of early reflections on imaging was understood. Loudspeakers were regularly placed against walls, when pulling them only a few feet out into the room would have improved things dramatically. I also suspect that edge diffraction and symmetry issues are less deleterious at a significant distance, as in a large hall.

 

You know what, posted on March 3, 2011 at 18:13:04
E-Stat
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as Kef had later speakers which have 104 in the designation, such as 104.2, etc.

You're entirely correct. After the original 104, next came the 104ab. Let's review your comments to which I responded:

My old Kef 104 speakers came out in 1973

You referred to the 104. I too, referred to a review in 1976 of the 104. We both refer to the 104.

"Barton: Yes. I would definitely agree with that. Can I talk about other speakers? It's one that no longer exists, but the original KEF R104aB was very flat on-axis.

You and I spoke of the 104 while Barton speaks of a later revision called the 104ab. Was there any difference?

It would appear that the change involved the crossover. Apparently, they realized their earlier error.

I agree with Barton's remarks on the Kef 104aB

Ok, if that is the case (as opposed to what you originally wrote), then you and HP are referring to different revisions of the speaker. Did that clarify your confusion?

rw

 

Is it just me, or have you written more than what I've seen from HP in TAS lately?, posted on March 3, 2011 at 18:52:26
DustyC
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Really, I miss the multi page insights from when he ran the mag. I don't know why Harley doesn't let him run.

 

That's not the point..., posted on March 3, 2011 at 18:55:11
mkuller
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...before HP no one talked about "soundstaging".

He identified it and gave it a name.

Did Hirsch mention it or imaging?

Ever?

How about the other publications and reviewers you mention circa 1973.

How about you - did you say in 1973 - "Wow, my KEFs image and throw a soundstage like a mfer!"

 

He seems pretty unhappy, posted on March 3, 2011 at 19:24:53
josh358
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A year ago, he was talking like he was going to start a new magazine. Any word on that?

 

RE: You know what, posted on March 3, 2011 at 19:26:09
Pat D
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The difference between the Kef 104 and Kef 104aB is the crossover. After 17 nor 18 years, one of the crossovers capacitors went, so I had the distributor put in the 104aB crossover. I am quite familiar with both versions of the speaker. I certainly don't need HP to tell me how they performed.

The Kef 104 and Kef 104aB versions had a mid-range control, plus or minus 2 dB. The crossover was at 3 kHz. This of course means that the off axis is not as flat as with many modern speakers.

With the Kef 104, I turned the midrange control down to the -2 position. With the Kef 104aB, I turned it up to the +2 position, which Richard C. Heyser considered to give the flattest response. I couldn't compare them directly, of course, but I think I preferred the older 104.

If HP said there was a peak in the upper midrange of the Kef 104, I can only say he didn't know what he was talking about. The original Kef 104 was very flat in the listening window, no peak in the upper midrange. Indeed, peakiness in the upper midrange is something I particularly dislike. It was a somewhat distant sounding speaker, but I like that. If HP thought the sound was too forward, he could have turned the midrange control down.


-----
"A fool and his money are soon parted." --- Thomas Tusser

 

RE: -N-O-T- TRUE., posted on March 3, 2011 at 20:06:00
rick_m
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"But I like to think that others will have the same opportunity I did to enjoy good sound, and the deep pleasure it's given me over the years. And if we don't attract new blood, fewer people will."

I think they will be just fine. At least for 'personal' listening the average sound may already exceed what we had as young folks. I was pretty old before I could afford speakers that were as good as $50 headphones are now and it was the rare record, especially played on the turntables that were actually used, that could approach a 24/96 digital chain.

If Apple, the worlds most successful electronic toy company and currently a serious arbiter of taste, were to decide that they want to resell everyone their itune collection and move a new generation of players all they have to do is inform the herd that they must have hi-res or surround or something if they want to be 'in', have friends or practice procreating and it will be a done deal. Look at it this way, they've already limited out in the industrial design and size: they're cute as a bug's ear and cool as can be, what's left but performance?

Being an audiophile was once cool and a good system oozed success, virility and sophistication, just look at old Playboys from the 60's. Our time will come again! But it probably won't involve many of the extant 'high-end' folks, most of whom will die off when we do since they lack mind-share with the iGeneration(s). However just because our branch is nearing it's end doesn't mean that the tree will die or that the masses will be stuck with poor sound forever. As memory density and bandwidth continue to increase the value of MP3 tumbles. Why bother, just sell the experience and move on.

Which high end companies are working on useful things? Whose doing personalized pinna programming and headphones with built-in head position sensing so that surround sound is sane at home and on the road? No one in their right mind wants to be tripping over seven stupid speakers all over their room and have one good seat. Couple that with a decent head-mounted display and it's a whole new world. The thing is as we enter old-dufferhood, we really need the same gear. Personal sound can correct for hearing deficiencies, personal displays can correct of vision problems. Both can allow us to enjoy ourselves if stuck in a retirement home, a nursing home or the basement of our kid's place. Who cares about the real environment if you can virtually be at the Concertgebouw or watching reruns of Gilligan's island.

Gotta stop now, need Geritol...

Rick

 

RE: -N-O-T- TRUE., posted on March 4, 2011 at 07:13:00
kerr
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>Their image of us audiophiles is a bunch of overweight 50 year old guys with scruffy beards, spending thousands on gear that nobody cares about.<

Where does this stereotype come from??? I'm clean-shaven!!! Sheesh! :)

 

LOL, posted on March 4, 2011 at 07:56:41
josh358
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From a post of TeddiJackEddie's:

"You know the type - belly hanging over his pants, totally out-of-style clothes, scraggly beard."

http://db.audioasylum.com/mhtml/m.html?forum=critics&n=50423&highlight=totally+out-of-style+clothes,+scraggly+beard&r=&search_url=%2Fcgi%2Fsearch.mpl%3FForumSelect%3DSelected%26amp%3Bauthor%3Dlake%2540http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ciekawe.znajduj%EA.olawa.pl%2F%26amp%3Buser_id%3D52179%26amp%3BsortOrder%3DDESC%26amp%3B

Except I misremembered "scraggly" as "scruffy" . . .

 

That explains much. , posted on March 4, 2011 at 08:08:43
regmac
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" And as he has mentioned, he helped Marantz and Dahlquist voice the DQ-10 loudspeaker in his room."

That would explain why TAS has always gushed over the DQ-10, going so far as to rate it one of "The 12 Most Significant Loudspeakers of All Time" (TAS 205). A bit self-serving, don't you think?

 

RE: He seems pretty unhappy, posted on March 4, 2011 at 08:29:03
I've been hearing the same rumour for years. Just guessing, but financial backing for such a venture has to be hard to come by these days. Plus all people do is bash the few audio mags we have left now.

 

Good point, posted on March 4, 2011 at 08:47:40
josh358
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Between the recession, a shrinking high end, and the challenges the Internet presents to print media, it does sound like a hard sell.

OTOH, I think he'd have a guaranteed subscriber base among those who miss the old TAS.

 

"A bit self-serving, don't you think? ", posted on March 4, 2011 at 08:47:59
E-Stat
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No. That would be true only if that knowledge had been made common AND if TAS (or HP) had some stake in the success of the speaker. Neither criteria is met. Go back to the issue and review who made the recommendation. Hint: it wasn't HP. Seems to me that even thirty years later, you were unaware of that involvement. FWIW, I know of at least three other stories of designers trying out and refining designs at Sea Cliff. I suspect there are many more. The public is simply unaware of them. Which is just as well.

What's to complain about when the outcome is improved product refined through the feedback of truly discriminating ears observing the results on a truly discriminating system?

rw

 

You'll be happy to know, posted on March 4, 2011 at 09:08:34
E-Stat
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that part two of the 3.7 review is longer than what I wrote. It should be in print soon. :)

rw

 

RE: -N-O-T- TRUE., posted on March 4, 2011 at 09:51:11
josh358
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"Whose doing personalized pinna programming and headphones with built-in head position sensing so that surround sound is sane at home and on the road?"

Funny, you read my mind. With this technology, it should be possible to reproduce the spatial aspects of sound with complete fidelity. There's no reason to suppose that, except for the physical sensation of bass, a future iPod won't be able to provide a completely convincing simulation of an actual performance. In fact, I think we're a lot closer to perfecting headphone reproduction than we are to perfecting reproduction through speakers.

Interesting historical comparison, too. I think the main point audiophiles are making is that the audio gear that's available to kids doesn't compare with the best that high end audio has to offer. But your point that the typical kid has access to cleaner sound than his counterpart did 40 years ago is I think a valid one, both at the low- and mid-fi levels. And I like to think that improvements in sound quality will then grow organically out of the new media. To some extent, this has already happened, with high quality earphones and earbuds. There's also been some work on head position detection: Stereophile reviewed a very interesting system a few issues back, although it's geared to the emulation of loudspeakers rather than the recreation of the original sound field (which current recordings don't allow).

Unfortunately, I have the impression that these changes aren't going to come out of the high end industry at this point. High end audio has been very slow to change and adapt. Newer technologies -- file servers, high res digital, surround, etc. -- are adopted slowly, even grudgingly, despite a fair amount of attention in the audiophile press.

OTOH, I do think that loudspeakers will continue to be part of our lives, and those of our children. Home theater is one such area. I don't think most people want to be encumbered by a head-mounted display, despite its advantages. I could be wrong about that, after all, people walk around now with earbuds on, and future video displays will no doubt be light and easy to flip out of the way if the baby cries. But for the time being, anyway, I see home theater as fertile ground for improvements in loudspeaker technology, and I think that one of the industry's goals should be to find a way to get more people to select audio gear that works not just for home theater but for music reproduction as well. These goals aren't, IMO, mutually exclusive, in fact, the most satisfying movie sound reproduction I've heard has been through high end audio components.

And of course, there's the matter of partying. Maybe one day, all the guests will just sync up their bluetooth headphones, but for now, people need speakers if they're to dance to the same tune . . .

 

RE: Julian Hirsch at least... , posted on March 4, 2011 at 10:19:48
Tony Lauck
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As I recall, the tweeters weren't exactly above the woofers when the speakers were sitting on the floor (woofer down). But I could be mistaken about this.

In this time frame (early 60's) KLH had another model that had two tweeters, but I was suspicious of this one (heard it only in the store) as I had already experienced the bad results from running two KLH-6's side by side for each channel, with obvious comb filtering of the treble. That summer three roommates, E. Brad Meyer, Clark Johnsen and myself, had a lot of KLH-6's betweem us. At one point we had a fifth KLH-6 running an A + B center channel. When we were running only three speakers with the center channel we got good imaging on our Mercury Living Presence prerecorded tapes.




Tony Lauck

"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar

 

Let me relate my experience..., posted on March 4, 2011 at 10:34:11
mkuller
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...with the DQ-10s.

I had never heard of TAS in 1977 when I was shopping for a new pair of speakers.

I probably listened to 10 different ones in my price range but nothing really impressed me - even with a lot of the stores using "Time" from the DSOM, which was the "in" demo record.

Someone told me about a new speaker, the Ohm (Model A?), which was at a local Federated Store (big box).

So I went there to hear it and was let into their expensive equipment room.

A pair of Dahlquist DQ-10s sitting there had been left playing some Latin percussion music - it was coming from behind and in between the speakers there in space - it sounded like the instruments were right there in front of me. I'd never heard anything like it.

The guy went on to demo the Ohms and while they had a lot of bass, it was the DQ-10s I ended up buying.

Easily one of the 12 most significant loudspeakers of all time and a classic. There is still a lot of interest in them on the used market over 30 years later.

Self-serving, nah - while HP gave them a hand in voicing the speaker in his room, he did the exact same thing with every review he wrote, whether the manufacturer took his advice or not.

 

Nothing original here. This started in the 1930's., posted on March 4, 2011 at 10:42:07
Tony Lauck
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"...before HP no one talked about "soundstaging".

He identified it and gave it a name."


HP may have given it a name that stuck, but he was hardly the first to identify it. Lot's of us were familiar with the effects possible with a properly set up system and true stereo recordings. We may not have used HP's terms, but we certainly were looking for the same effects and knew how to fine tune a system to achieve them. This goes back to the early 1960's in my experience. And of course, Blumlein was familiar with these effects in the 1930's.

Around 1960 I was first introduced to stereo at a demonstration in the art gallery of Philips Exeter Academy. Brad Meyer was a student there (one year ahead of me) and a friend of Bill Bell who ran a Hi-fi store in Wellesley, Massachusetts called The Music Box. Brad arranged for a demo, and Bill Bell brought a huge Ampex 350-2 and a pair of Klipschorns, plus some microphones. The gallery had a grand piano and some local musicians provided the source material. As I recall, results with the piano were unsatisfactory until Brad's "condenser" microphone, a Neumann, was used instead of the the other microphones, which I believe were dynamics. Another student who heard this demo was J. Peter Moncrief. We noted the depth of field as well as left right positioning in this demonstration.


Tony Lauck

"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar

 

Who will provide the Soma? nt, posted on March 4, 2011 at 10:45:14
Tony Lauck
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Tony Lauck

"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar

 

That's what make the reviews interesting..., posted on March 4, 2011 at 10:58:19
mkuller
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...everybody has their own opinions.

And that's what I believe this forum was set up to discuss.

 

Ahh, J. Peter Moncrieff...., posted on March 4, 2011 at 11:00:55
mkuller
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...I could tell you stories.

He was managing an apartment building in Berkeley, writing his first couple of booklike editions of IAR when a couple of friends and I started the Northern California Audio Society in 1979.

 

RE: "A bit self-serving, don't you think? ", posted on March 4, 2011 at 11:01:13
regmac
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The king paints his masterpiece and his subjects like it; a prudent policy in every kingdom. In fairness, Stereophile was also somewhat complimentary, listing the DQ-10 #92 in its “Hot 100 Products,” a 40 year retrospective of what JA termed the “most important” products. Of course, Sterophile’s compilation is dated November 2002 while TAS’s “top 12” speaker survey *appears* to be dated Sept. 2010. Long live the king!

 

Just having you on, Mike., posted on March 4, 2011 at 11:06:12
regmac
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As I’ve pointed out on here before, I owned the DQ-10s for eleven years and purchased the speakers over the strenuous objections of the stereo shop’s owner who was a Bose 901 devotee.

 

RE: Ahh, J. Peter Moncrieff...., posted on March 4, 2011 at 11:14:12
Tony Lauck
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"...I could tell you stories."

I'm sure you can. :-) Perhaps we'll get together some day and tell our tales...

Tony Lauck

"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar

 

RE: -N-O-T- TRUE., posted on March 4, 2011 at 11:55:29
rick_m
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Oh I'm not against speakers, I use them most of the time. I'm using them right now.

But as you said: "I think we're a lot closer to perfecting headphone reproduction than we are to perfecting reproduction through speakers". I think that's typically been true but is especially nowadays where they are the prime transducers for so many people. I still have my decades old audio-technica Electret ones which beat most speakers but their transformer box rather limits their portability. The most interesting new ones I have are Koss clip-ons for which I paid $14. They pinch the pinnea a little but just do a startling job of plunking me right into the middle of the performance which much to my surprise I find I like. And, pinching aside, you hardly know you have them on. The first time I used them I stood up and turned around and got a brain cramp because the sound didn't shift with the movement so I guess it was adequately spoofed.

Perhaps if I had an RF version of them with a headband and a little pinwheel dipole on the top going speakerless might work. One thing's for sure, there are many more viable options and paths to good sound now than there were even twenty years ago and I think that's a good thing.

If we were both thinking of head-turning sound (tm) can Apple be far behind?

Rick

 

If anything, HP would..., posted on March 4, 2011 at 14:07:09
mkuller
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...probably start an internet-based publication - at least that would be my guess, if he ever decides to do something on his own.

It would take less capital, but would his ageing fan base follow?

And how would he derive an income from it.

Writing for TAS IS his day job.

 

Funny..., posted on March 4, 2011 at 14:08:10
mkuller
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...I would have guessed you were more of a Bose guy.

 

RE: -N-O-T- TRUE., posted on March 4, 2011 at 15:16:46
Tony Lauck
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I saw a post a few days ago that linked to a product that did the head turning effect... Don't recall the name or even the AA forum.


Tony Lauck

"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar

 

Hmmm, posted on March 4, 2011 at 15:54:44
josh358
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I'm a sample of one, but I'd definitely subscribe to a publication of his.

That's a start, anyway. And I suspect though can't be sure that I'm far from alone. After all, there are still a lot of folks willing to pay for subscriptions to Stereophile and TAS, and judging by what I've read here, others miss his stewardship of TAS.

On the other hand, I have no idea of how he could make a financial go of Internet-based publication. Perhaps a paid newsletter (I know he was contemplating that at one point) in PDF form?

 

RE: -N-O-T- TRUE., posted on March 4, 2011 at 16:30:24
josh358
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A head turning system was reviewed in Stereophile a few months back. It emulates the surround speaker system of your choice. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name either.

Wonder about those new scans for early Alzheimer's . . .

 

Head-turning sound, posted on March 4, 2011 at 16:44:34
josh358
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Joined: February 9, 2010
is going to happen, I think. At least one product is already being sold. It's only a matter of time before, as you suggest, companies like Apple start using it.

IMO, the true fruition of the technology will require a virtual reproduction of the sound field around a listener's head in the original performance space, along with real-time modeling of the listener's measured HRTF. Per the Helmholtz-Kirchhoff integral, you should be able to make such a recording of a live performance with an array of M-S microphones. Or the individual sound sources could be recorded along with a description of the acoustics and the sound field recreated synthetically. And you'll be able to use a similar recording to drive speakers using wave field synthesis. In that case, I suspect it will be most practical to record and reproduce only the part of the sound field that's coming from the front of the hall.

 

RE: Julian Hirsch at least... , posted on March 4, 2011 at 16:45:15
josh358
Industry Professional

Posts: 12205
Joined: February 9, 2010
Sounds like you had fun! Were the tapes discrete three channel recordings, or the two channel mixes?

 

RE: That's what make the reviews interesting..., posted on March 4, 2011 at 17:14:22
Pat D
Audiophile

Posts: 12478
Location: Fredericton NB
Joined: June 20, 2000
I watched the videos of HP's Keynote addresses to RMAF 2009 and heard him expound on observational listening, something you have never managed to explain. If E-stat's remarks accurately reflect HP's review of the Kef 104, it didn't work all that well.

I think HP's keynote speeches were best on marketing and reaching out to those using the new digital technologies.
-----
"A fool and his money are soon parted." --- Thomas Tusser

 

If you don't understand ..., posted on March 4, 2011 at 17:49:38
mkuller
Audiophile

Posts: 38035
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: April 22, 2003
Contributor
  Since:
December 28, 2003
...observational reviewing from my past posts about it, then you haven't been paying attention.

I've always described it as being an objective process, comparing what you hear to a reference - live music - and describing the differences.

Then adding a subjective component to it - whether it fits with your personal listening biases or not, i.e. do you like how it sounds.

I haven't seen that clip of HP in a couple of years, so I don't recall what he said about it.

 

RE: Head-turning sound, posted on March 4, 2011 at 20:05:35
rick_m
Audiophile

Posts: 6230
Location: Oregon
Joined: August 11, 2005
"sound field around a listener's head in the original performance space"

I suppose an issue would be where the virtual listener should 'sit' in the hall. Would it be fair to make you pay more for the sound from a good seat?

Push comes to shove, I just wish a lot more recordings were binaural, I don't really turn my head very much during a concert.

Rick

 

RE: Hmmm, posted on March 5, 2011 at 05:47:08
soulfood
Audiophile

Posts: 3725
Joined: August 9, 2001
It's apparent from the start, the road to this projected happiness is paved with conflicts.

 

RE: Julian Hirsch at least... , posted on March 5, 2011 at 06:27:10
Tony Lauck
Audiophile

Posts: 13629
Location: Vermont
Joined: November 12, 2007
They were commercially stereo recordings.

Tony Lauck

"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar

 

RE: Head-turning sound, posted on March 5, 2011 at 06:58:31
josh358
Industry Professional

Posts: 12205
Joined: February 9, 2010
Now that they can be sold as downloads, it seems to me they should make binaural recordings along with the standard ones. Still, they have some significant localization problems, owing to individual differences in the HRTF and the inability to move your head, which I think contributes to front/rear localization, something we're surprisingly bad at. I'm not necessarily talking about large or frequent movements here. We make small head movements all the time and the brain is presumably equipped to make use of them. Plus I've noticed that some aspects of localization are sticky. Once the brain figures out that a sound source is up front, it tends to remember that and keep it there, subjectively. It will even ignore spatial cues so that things make sense, forex, my computer speaker sub is off to my side and it crossover over at 350 Hz so I can localize it if I try, but if I don't think about it, my brain assigns the bass image to the image from the front. Or it assigns dialog to the actor who's speaking on the left or right of the screen, even though it's emanating from a apeaker at the center of the screen.

 

"Christian Distributivism" is the "Business Model", posted on March 5, 2011 at 08:37:20
John Marks
Manufacturer

Posts: 6922
Location: Peoples' Democratic Republic of R.I.
Joined: April 23, 2000
A little witticism there...

As far as "making a financial 'go' of it."

Christian Distributivism has usually worked when there is a rich patron in the background who provides the land or seed capital or whatever else is needed. Not that the Guild members don't work hard; it's just that the world doesn't value their works sufficiently to make a financial 'go' of things. Hence the need for sponsorship.

E.g. (even though it was not explicitly Christian), Elbert Hubbard's community Roycroft only worked because the workers received room and board and little if any money.

40 years ago you could make a living on a limited-circulation printed, mailed newsletter--if the information was timely and valuable. Today, things are quite different. Nearly everybody in the target demographic has a scanner and email. Keeping one's finger in the dike is not a realistic option. E.g., Stereophile's website gets more unique visitors in a month than printed copies get mailed. I usually get two rounds of letters to the editor: the first wave that comes when the print issue hits; the second wave (oftimes more rude and making less sense) when my column goes up on the web for free reading a month or so later.

When I was between TAS and Stereophile and therefore owed loyalty only to myself, I discussed with another writer the economics of a print-only newsletter that would not accept advertising. Our considered opinion: Impossible--regardless who the editor in chief was. Not enough people are willing to fork out fifty bucks in advance for six or eight newsletters, even if the newsletter were written by Shakespeare and copy-edited by T.S. Eliot.

So, OK, you have to have advertising. Oops. The same people selling ads and writing reviews? Are you serious? So you have to have an ad salesperson, and he or she needs to feed himself or herself and perhaps a family, and so it goes. You also need a business/copyright lawyer, and insurance, etc.

So it comes back to, the only way the craftguild business model works is to have a voluntary or involuntary "patron" or patrons. At one point I had been told by someone who should know that AMM's cumulative losses were in the vicinity of $6 million, although that person said in the same breath that post-kicking HP upstairs, the magazine was making money on a cash-flow basis. A magazine that accepts advertising, has had at least one prominent ethical imbroglio, is not written by Shakespeare, and is not copyedited by T.S. Eliot.

I am not making these points to run anyone down or to be a wet blanket. It is possible that the world would be a better place if HP had his own print newsletter (or .pdf). But barring someone who is willing to stand him a few years' living expenses, and pay the printer and the post office and the layout person, and for circulation development ($100,000 is a drop in the bucket right there) etc., and be willing to lose it all, I don't see it happening, certainly not on a pay-as-you-go basis.

The other factor of course, is that HP's appeal is primarily to men who are at least 50 years old and who have been in the hobby for at least a decade, and that is a demographic that is thinning out rapidly. And a business model that includes making HP more relevant to kids wearing earbuds makes as much sense as a business model of teaching Maria Callas to sing Motown... .

John Marks

 

Just how much..., posted on March 5, 2011 at 10:30:49
mkuller
Audiophile

Posts: 38035
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: April 22, 2003
Contributor
  Since:
December 28, 2003
...would people be willing to pay for an HP publication?

Remember Martin Collom's HiFi Critic?

No ads and something like $125 a year.

Is it still in business?

 

Just looked it up, posted on March 5, 2011 at 11:22:18
josh358
Industry Professional

Posts: 12205
Joined: February 9, 2010
and it seems to be:

http://www.hificritic.com/subscribe/order.aspx

It's business model and publication schedule seem very much like those of the original Absolute Sound. I wonder how many copies they sell?

 

RE: Just looked it up, posted on March 5, 2011 at 11:33:10
John Atkinson
Reviewer

Posts: 4041
Location: New York
Joined: November 24, 2003
>I wonder how many copies they sell?

I am told that current circulation is around 1000.

It must be low as I was interviewed for a recent issue of The HiFi Critic and said some
things that might have raised some eyebrows. However, I didn't get any email about it.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

 

RE: Head-turning sound, posted on March 5, 2011 at 13:20:38
rick_m
Audiophile

Posts: 6230
Location: Oregon
Joined: August 11, 2005
"We make small head movements all the time and the brain is presumably equipped to make use of them."

I just tried ultra large head movements. We just got back from a walk down to the river and through the woods as it were. Since I'm married to a 'birder' I was trying to locate pecking by ear. Even cranking my head around and trotting back and forth I never really managed to get a fix on it. The problem is the Z axis, it's really hard to tell how far away the creature is especially in a stand of trees. You try to judge by the reverberation but it's iffy. The tweety birds are easier since the radiation is more direct, peckers make a lot of the tree resonate. It ended well as she finally spotted the Red-breasted sapsucker on top of a snag, but I'm sure it had flown from where it was. When I was trotting along the road trying to get a bigger base angle I was thinking of our conversation concerning head position. Guess that proves that stereo is for the birds...

Rick

 

RE: Head-turning sound, posted on March 5, 2011 at 14:06:37
josh358
Industry Professional

Posts: 12205
Joined: February 9, 2010
I remember reading years ago about a study which found that subjects were able to localize sounds laterally with greater accuracy when they were able to move their heads. Also an ad hoc experiment someone tried -- in Stereo Review? -- in which he made a binaural recording with a moving head and then moved his head in unison with the original moves. Or something like that. He reported that it made the image pop into focus. Or, again, something like that -- I read it many years ago.

I've also read that people tend to underestimate distance when they're asked to estimate it. Since we use the percentage and character of reverberation to gauge distance, I guess it stands to reason that we'd be better able to do it indoors than out. To the extent we use parallax and triangulation, I'd also expect it to be easier when the sound source is continuous, though I'm just guessing here.

 

Those rich audiophiles..., posted on March 5, 2011 at 15:37:02
mkuller
Audiophile

Posts: 38035
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: April 22, 2003
Contributor
  Since:
December 28, 2003
...are too busy sailing around their winter homes in the islands to get around to emailing you.

 

RE: LOL, posted on March 5, 2011 at 16:21:38
Satie
Audiophile

Posts: 5424
Joined: July 6, 2002
Being a scraggly bearded pot bellied audiophile, wearing dis-fashionable clothes and bearing an aura of weirdness, while I am not yet 50 - I don't hang around audio shops - not since I turned 40. I got into the hobby when I was 16 and got into my own entry level "high end" system at 25. I was in the habit of visiting the hi fi stores a couple of times a year each till I was in my mid 30s and moved away from where the stores were. By then the selection of stores and breadth of brands carried was narrowing so that there was little reason to visit at all - you don't get to hear anything new outside of HT, which is uninteresting to me.

I have followed online discourse and reviews since they started and I read the English press for a long while and the Stereo Review, Audio and Stereophile, I was always thinking of getting a TAS subscription, but had too much reading to allow for another subscription. After Stereo Review turned useless and Audio mag closed down, I was looking at Soundstage, Positive Feedback, and later 6moons and got subscribed to AVGuide rather than add another physical mag to my pile. I am considering a sub to UHF mag from up North.

I have read many of HPs reviews and find him to be a trustworthy reviewer with somewhat similar tastes and preferences to mine. I don't need to read between the lines of his reviews to obtain an honest description of the sound characteristics of the equipment. Often a review ends up being a repeat statement of the reviewer's personal biases as they pertain to the equipment in question and his emotional responses to the music, all of which requires much reading between the lines to extract the sonic qualities of the equipment.

The main problem I have had with TAS is the lack of measurements and exposition of specs that may not be true unless confirmed with measurements - though in recent years products have come closer to their published specs than in the past. Some of the sonic characteristics can be explained by particular measured aspects and knowing these can help substantially in matching the ancillaries.

I buy used rather high end equipment including cables, but am more of a cheapskate and tweaker and send my stuff for modification, or buy modified equipment, or modify and build myself. There is very little improvement in new equipment to justify the extraordinary extra expenditure. Rejuvenating your current equipment with up to date caps and cleaner copper wire without PVC dielectric is plenty of an improvement and routinely brings old equipment to near the best of today's. The only exception is in the new switching amps and SS memory digital sources and marginally the new DAC chips and the availability of high rez digital.

 

"Trust Your Ears", posted on March 6, 2011 at 07:03:08
kerr
Audiophile

Posts: 4376
Location: Central Indiana
Joined: November 10, 2003
Still the best advice in audio. How a component is supposed to sound pales in comparison to how it actually sounds.

 

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