March 18, 2012

Technical Audio Devices Compact Reference Loudspeakers TAD-CR1 - Part 3


I am not going to write a ‘review’ of the TAD-CR1 loudspeakers. For that, you can find more professionally done articles on the web:

From Stereophile: http://www.stereophile.com/content/tad-compact-reference-cr1-loudspeaker

From TAS: http://ultimate-audio.eu/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/tad-cr-1-review.pdf

What I’d like to do instead is to share with you my experience living with the TAD-CR1 for the long(er) term, and also what prompted me to fork out a handsome sum of money to keep them in my system, since it is no secret that I am now the owner of a pair of TAD-CR1.

What I am going to write about is my own preferences and prejudices in hifi, they are pretty much personal and subjective (and you’ll see the word ‘I’ used many times). However, I can’t claim to be the first nor the only one who hold these sentiments, as the same are expressed by fellow audiophiles I know. You can also read similar thoughts articulated through discussion forums and the many dozens of comments posted in the first of this TAD-CR1 series.

Since the time I remember myself dabbling in hifi, I have been seeking a ‘sound’. It was my notion of my audio nirvana, so to speak. This ‘sound’ was not a constant, it changed over time. For example, I would yearn for the warm beautiful seductive vocals produced from, say, a classic valve based system driving some British loudspeakers and thought that was it; then I would change and lusted after lightning transient, big sound, hefty bass instead from some American offerings; and yet I would change again after some time and look for airiness, refinement etc.. It was never-ending.

Since the last few years, I started to realize that this chase was futile. Of the hifi gear that came through HiFi Unlimited, many had a sound, or flavours, if you like, that I found very enjoyable, yet if I were to ‘upgrade’ every time, I knew I’d not be satisfied with it for too long, because something that sounded ‘better’ would invariably come along.

Then a ‘hifi sage’ (he knows who he is ;-) ) started brandishing a simple term – ‘balance’. He would not be the first one who came up with it, but he was dogmatic in applying it, either in his own system or when listening to other systems or gear.

My understanding of ‘balance’ simply means that the sound we hear is even, there is nothing jutting out and nothing that is recessed, there isn’t one characteristic of the sound that attracts attention particularly, everything is treated equally.

If I were to walk away after listening to a variety of recordings in a listening session and impressed with one particular aspect of the performance, such as, “Wow, the bass sounded so powerful” or “The mid was so rich and seductive” or “The sound was so warm” or “The high was so sweet”, I’d say they are all signs of a unbalanced system, in various degrees. If you think about it, they are signs of some sort of colouration.

I am not saying that this kind of systems do not sound good. Many audiophiles enjoy tremendously certain type of sound and they tune and set up their systems towards a certain direction. There is nothing wrong with this kind of liking. It is a personal preference for the music they listen to. That was how the owners like it. Indeed, I found this type of sound impressive and attention grabbing on first listen. I have experienced systems that always sounded beautiful with vocals and some others that were always fast, dynamic, impactful, no matter what kind of recordings you played through it.

However, for myself, over time, I found that once I could detect a ‘sound’ in a system, I started to lose interest in it, the pleasure of listening to music via that system diminished. The more prominent the character was, the faster my interest was lost. I found listening this way boring, as every piece of music and every album was portrayed similarly, you could detect the same sound, the same signature.

A balanced system does not mean that the response is flat on all recordings (like, all recordings have the same amount of low, mid, high). It is recording dependent, an electronic guitar or a drum heavy recording will have more bass energy on a balanced system, and likewise a bright recording should have more treble. If the recording is dynamic then it should sound dynamic, if the music is slow, then it should sound slow. The equipment itself does not impose its character; it just reflects the character in the recordings. In short, the recordings should sound very distinctly different from one another, as different recording labels, different bands, different venues, different recording engineers will come up with different sound.

(Some would call this ‘transparent’, ‘neutral’ or ‘honest’. I prefer the term ‘balanced’ as I think it is more encompassing. If I were to ask a bunch of audiophiles, vast majority would say that balance in sound is a good thing to have. However, it is also my experience that a balanced system usually doesn’t impress, especially on a short listen. I speculate that this is because we are conditioned to a certain extent by some characteristics or some emphases in our system’s sound that we like and we unconsciously go look for the same, and it will take some time to unlearn).

I am not sure how much a flat frequency response is correlated with a balanced sound, though I think it is one of the very important pre-requisites. Most modern electronics are pretty even sounding (though there is some designer or brand signature to some extent), the biggest variation usually is in the loudspeaker and its interaction with the room.


Enters the TAD-CR1.The first few short listening sessions I had with them I was not very impressed. There was no character to the sound, I thought. Though, deep down there was something tugging at me that I could not let them out of my mind completely. They must have been doing something right. Anyway, I asked James to allow me to have them at my place for an extended listen, in an environment and with recordings that I am familiar with.

In the first few listening sessions, it was apparent that a bunch of colouration in my system’s sound went out the window or greatly diminished. With the TAD-CR1, the sound from various instruments sounded so much more accurate and realistic. I believe I was subconsciously compensating for the colourations and imbalances mentally in the past, especially after living with them long term.

By saying the insterments sounded accurate, I mean it sounds like the real instrument in live, the timbre or the harmonic structure of the instrument is intact. A piano sounds like a piano, a guitar sounds like a guitar. (I don’t mean it sounds like the actual performance that was recorded or the actual piece of instrument that was recorded, because we have no way to know it ourselves except perhaps the performers who made the recording).

Piano is one of the instruments I use to do this ‘balance’ test. As my children play the piano, I have a real life reference on how one should sound. Solo piano is considered by many as difficult to reproduce correctly, an imbalance system will make certain range jutting out, the sound character change as we go up and down the scale, the notes don’t sound like coming from the same piano. Worse, a bass heavy system for example may blur the piano bass notes making a mess out of it. You don’t have to be a piano player to know instinctively that the sound is wrong.

My favourite solo piano recording is ‘Black & White’ by Danny Wright. One track is particularly useful in this regard – ‘Don’t cry for me, Argentina’. The TAD-CR1 got this timbre thingy correct such that the piano sounded seamless and coherent. The instrument was positioned right in front of me and as the notes traversed the left hand and the right, the character did not change, it sounded like the same piano. It was not just the timbre accuracy, but the percussive and transient nature of the piano sound was conveyed accurately too. When Wright got heavy on the left hand, the bang of the notes was dynamic, and it was accompanied by all the harmonic complexity produced from the piano soundboard. When a note was sustained, I could hear the subtle changes and variation in the harmonic structure as the note progressed, just like in real life. The right hand pings instead sounded sharp and metallic with excellent attack, again just like real life. Now, that is a pretty damn ‘balanced’ portrayal to me. My experience listening to this on the TAD-CR1 was uncannily realistic.

Another album I like to use is Sonny Rollins’ ‘Way Out West’, the XRCD version. On the title track, the saxophone, drum, and double bass are portrayed with equal weight in the mix. Through the TAD-CR1 again, this was beautifully done. Rollins’ sax on the left channel balanced nicely with Brown’s double bass and Manne’s cymbal and high hat splashes on the right, each occupying the mid, bass, treble parts of the frequency spectrum. No one was stealing the limelight, each one took turn to shine in their solo part, and when they played together, my attention could shift from one to another and followed that thread with ease.

I love it. Once I heard this kind of portrayal and gotten used to it, even expected it, I could not go back to my previous experience. I got closer to the real thing.

Let me talk a bit about bass through the TAD-CR1 in my system. I like bass, my preference and expectation about bass was shaped by an occasion many years ago and re-affirmed recently through another listening experience.

More than 10 years ago, I heard a pair of Wilson X-1/Grand SLAMM at the first KLIAV Show. Their bass performance set my mouth agape. It was not the impact, scale, dynamics of the bass performance that floored me, though that was indeed impressive too, other big loudspeakers could do the same. What I remembered more was the ease with which these behemoths produced very high quality bass notes. The best way I can put this is that the Grand SLAMM showed clearly there were many bass note ‘varieties’ in every recording. The notes had great resolution, they sounded different from one other (rather than the more commonly heard ‘blob of bass energy’), there were subtleties that I could listen into, each note gently churned and changed until they dissipated into thin air, attesting to the very high bass resolution it had.

Recently, I heard the same kind of bass performance from a pair of Wilson MAXX3, similarly the ease with which they resolved bass impressed tremendously.


The TAD-CR1 on the other hand, had extension down to about 30Hz in-room, according to JA’s measurement in his listening room, published in Stereophile, which I believe is sufficient for acoustic instruments. The TAD-CR1 does not do low bass, that is a sin of omission rather than commission, and probably you won’t miss it much unless you listen to a lot of pipe organ or electronic music. The TAD-CR1 though could not match the big bass impact and loudness from those big Wilsons given the physical size difference.

I accept these bass limitations of the TAD-CR1, those Wilsons are at the pinnacle of bass performance. I instead want to focus on getting excellent bass resolution. The TAD-CR1 is definitely up to it in my experience, provided the upstream equipment is up to it too. I heard beautifully articulated bass notes from them via the TAD-D600 digital player, and having the TAD-M2500 power amp in the chain helped too. Bass notes were nicely defined and had excellent details, it was again an addictive experience.

The first few weeks the TAD-CR1 was at my place, the bass was a little thin. Some friends who came to listen commented just as much. A while later I realized that it was some equipment support and room treatment that I did to cater for the bass of my previous speakers that leaned out the TAD-CR1’s bass too much. The room was overdamped for TAD-CR1. I started to pare back the treatment, and the bass body started to come back. However that excited a bit too much bass resonance from wall reflection that muddied the TAD-CR1s bass texture. I have also treated that with some success over time.

As I was experimenting, the bass performance vacillated between being still slightly thin to slightly too much such that the system balance and bass resolution were affected. It was not until recently that I hit on a combination that I am ok with that gave a good balance between bass and the rest of the frequency, yet still preserved the bass resolution that I looked for. In ‘Way Out West’, how the double bass carried the tune, especially in the solo part, was the best defined rendition that I have heard from my system. Each double bass note sounded distinctive from the last, and it also carried the boxy resonance and the fat bass note we hear in real life.

My experiment with bass performance will continue, with balance and resolution as the 2 main guiding principles.

Moving on - if we were to talk about overall resolution, the TAD-CR1 must be placed as one of the top among loudspeakers today. Even with upstream equipment that cost no much more than half of the TAD-CR1 at my place, there is already a great wealth of music details from CD material that are resolved and let through by the TAD-CR1. Of the people who heard them, the resolution of the TAD-CR1 impressed many and probably shocked a few. A visitor even commented that there was too much detail in the music for him to process.

The thing TAD-CR1 does with all its resolving power is that it does not purposely go and highlight the minute details. It always packages the details as part of the musical whole. The TAD-CR1 presents them when the details are present, it does not throw them at you, it is up to you to go pick it up and listen and enjoy for yourself.

Again, once I heard this kind of resolution I could not turn back. There was so much in my music that I was missing out. I didn’t want to miss it anymore.

Now, the music and the performance, rather than the hardware in my system, are doing most of the talking. I found little urge to want to go dissect the sound. I remember the music more than certain performance aspects of the sound, and that is saying a lot about my music enjoyment.

Contact James Tan of AV Designs at 03-21712828 to listen to TAD


P.S., I want to thank many friends who have given me their feedback and suggestions. I especially want to thank JoKi who had helped with the placement of the TAD-CR1, the result was simply amazing.

91 comments:

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

OS,

Sounds like you got yourself a piece of Reference Class speakers!My congratulations to you!

Like they say, from now on, the only way is up! :-)

Half deaf said...

I think "honest to source" fits your bill perfectly.

PUG said...

Hi Felix, Ken, Oudiosleuth and others,

Granted that the musical source need to be very well recorded and accurate before it qualifys to be used for testing, ...

Can you tell us what music CD and sources you use to test the setup ? Do you also use measurement and what instruments/software do you use ?

Can you write more on the proper ways to gauge a system

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

PUG,

In order for us to understand your questions and give you an answer, I need some clarification.

Please define, "test".

Please define "proper".

Thank you.

PUG said...

To test if the system sound "accurate" and "correct"

I agree with you the "correct" sound should be accurate and live-life, meaning to say sounding as close to a real life instrument as possible.

Not many CD / Music sources are accurate, so what do you use ? Proper, means the correct way to gauge the system's accuracy

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

PUG,

Thanks for the clarification. I think OS can furbish you with those info on in room freq response.

Our listening sessions circled on 2 different setups. One is with OS's current system and another with ALL TAD components.

Our musical software were quite diversified. Mostly CDs from OS.

Ken said...

PUG,


I will always use a few cds to evaluate
1. Skye (Deep...Blue) - to evaluate the rawness of the vocals and also the imaging and depth.
2. Teddy Robin (Teddy Goes to the Movies) - to evaluate the rhythm of the drums in track 1 and 8 to hear if your system can keep up
3. Teresa Teng (Denon Mastersonic) - to hear the vivaciousness of Teresa Teng voice from track 4 and 12.
4. Dadawa (Sister Drum) - listen to track 2 to check whether your system can handle the drum whack
5. Aaron Neville (warm your Heart)-Track 12 and 13 to hear your system to differentiate imaging depth
6. Tag Maclaren Test Track - listen to track 10 to hear realism of cymbals and kick drum plus the enunciation of the singer
7. Tutti (Sampler from RR) - to hear the imaging depth and wideness - also very good to check your system's dynamic ability

I don't know how you can measure the system. Maybe Felix can.

My advice to you is to listen to as many system as possible to "find the sound that you like".

Hope this helps

OdioSleuth said...

Felix,
Thanks! :-)

HD,
You hit the nail on the head!

PUG,
My little logic game:

1.Accurate recording + accurate system = accurate sound
2.Accurate recording + inaccurate system = inaccurate sound
3.Inaccurate recording + accurate system = inaccurate sound
4.Inaccurate recording + inaccurate system = inaccurate sound

So if you hear accurate sound, you should have heard an accurate recording and an accurate system.
Though I think accuracy is a continuum, not a yes/no thing.

The CDs I usually use:

-2v1g
-Eva Cassidy, Live at Blues Alley
-Nils Lofgren, Acoustic Live
-Sonny Rollins, Way Out West
-Sonny Rollins, The Bridge
-Charles Mingus, Ah Um
-Dean Peer, Ucross
-Marcus Miller, Silver Rain
-Danny Wright, Black & White
-Reference Recordings, Dallas Wind Symphony Sampler
-Mozart, The Complete Symphonies, Neville Marriner/ Academay of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
-Damien Rice, O

kiarch said...

OS,

When I learned that you had eyes on TAD CR-1, I am kind of hoping that you would own it. I was hoping that it would go to someone I know, one whom I can gain access to quench my craving for future listening to CR-1.

Reading your part 3 posting on CR-1 makes me realized another reason why I am happy that CR-1 goes to you. It takes a high Listening Intelligent for one in understand the realm of "self-less" imposition in our indulgence, which in your term, called "balance"

Some may prefer to call it 'neutral', like white in colour chart. A system which is lacking of any colour of its own, not even from the exponential of many components that make up a audio system, is indeed rare & difficult to put together.

Such system allows the music to take its own physical form in space.

Congratulations!!

JoKi

Big E said...

Wow!

This seems to be shaping up like another party forum!

Some have asked me why I remained so quiet while so many questions abound?

I think non of the questions were directed to me in the first place. I think I am in no position to provide answers either!

I am glad that OS has taken the first step on the way to achieving his dream system.

Kudos!

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Ken,

I have a resident AudioControl 1/3rd octave RTA in my room for general checking (calibrated every year). For more indepth measurements I get my friend with a LinearX for more resolution. Both measures a pretty smooth curve.

I think OS may be using more sophisticated software to measure his room, if he has yet to do so.

What software/hardware do you use to measure your room?

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Big E,

What are your opinions of the TAD CR1?

Your Fact 8 speakers does have very good extensions too. Care to give us some comments on the sound of the CR1?

OdioSleuth said...

Jo,
Thank you for your kind words. 
I still have very much to learn indeed. 

Felix,
I have been learning to do in-room frequency response measurement. I run REW (Room EQ Wizard), a free download software, together with a usb sound card (to generate 20hz-20khz sweep) and a behringer calibrated mic. 

I am a newbie at this, still learning to do proper measurement and to interpret the result. So I don't want to make too much out of this. Though for more obvious thing like the bass resonance I mentioned in this post, I could see it the RT60 plot, confirming what I heard. 

mikelau.2 said...

OS,

On one hand you said "accurate recording + accurate system = accurate sound" then ended by saying accuracy can be a "yes/no" thing.

Can you enlighten your thoughts on this ?

If there is any tinge of "no" then we should not use the word "accurate".

By "accurate recording" are you refering to cds produced after rearrangement/editing by the
recording engineer ?

If one were to play a recording using 3 systems say Wilsons, Tad, MBLs the sound reproduced would be different from each other. So which is the "accurate sound" ?

High Fidelity is a continuum so is our aural orientation but... accuracy ? But again I feel that is not the right term to use because the word is more objective than subjective ? Or is "accuracy" also subjective ?

But what say others ?

Cheers,

Mike

tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PUG said...

Mike,

I see nothing in the statement that suggest that it is a Yes/No thing. It depends on how you interprete it.

The way i interprete it is that the closer you get to that ideal, the better. Of course you don't want statement 2, 3, and 4 to be your guiding ideal, right ?

There are some recordings that are done with none or minimal manipulation by the recording/mastering engineer. Maybe that would be a better test medium. That is, if you want to remove as much as possible the subjective element from the recording.

Of the 3 system, wiz, Wilsons, Tad, MBLs, the one that give you the closest illusion to sounding like real and live-Like would the the most accurate.

Why would you feel that the word "accurate" is more objective than subjective ?

You suggested the word "good sound". Would that not be more objective ?

"Accurate" has a "reference", that is to the real live sound of the instrument. At the very least it has a "reference" with which we judge the final result.

But with "good sound" what would the "reference" be?

I think many of us would recall, some time in our life, upon hearing a "better" mini-compo/hi-fi and then remarking how really "good" and realistic it sounded. Surely it is far from accurate ! What was reference used to judge it by? Most likely something we have owned or heard before. And as we journey though our hifi live, this often gets repeated again and again. But if we had used "ultimate reference" which is that of a real instrument, then we would have cut short all the mistakes we made along the journey.

Can you explain what you mean by "High Fidelity is a continuum " ?

OdioSleuth said...

tan,
I like the expansions you made to those 'formulas'. :-)


PUG,
Well said!


Mike,
Let me add a bit more on this matter.

I said accuracy is not a yes/no thing meaning accuracy in reproduced sound is not an absolute but a relative quality. It is my opinion that we can say “one system sounds more accurate than the other”.

However, from what you wrote, I understand that you take accuracy as an absolute, I respect your thought on this. We have different opinion.

It is good to reiterate my meaning of ‘accuracy’ before I go on further, let me copy the paragraph I wrote from my post:
“By saying the insterments sounded accurate, I mean it sounds like the real instrument in live, the timbre or the harmonic structure of the instrument is intact. A piano sounds like a piano, a guitar sounds like a guitar. (I don’t mean it sounds like the actual performance that was recorded or the actual piece of instrument that was recorded, because we have no way to know it ourselves...)"

Now, let me elaborate further my statement above, ‘one system sounds more accurate than the other’. I’d like to put forth a simplified and extreme example - Take a solo piano recording. Take 2 systems, one has a bass boom problem, the other has bass boom and a suck-out in the lower and mid treble region.

On the first system, piano left hand will sound too prominent, the bass note definition will likely be blurred. However, if the music progresses towards the high notes, there will be no problem.

On the second system, we not only hear the same bass problem, we also do not hear the sparkle in the high notes as the music progresses upwards.

So, I believe in this case we can say that the first system is more accurate than the second one reproducing this piano recording.

I can understand if you do not like to use the term ‘accurate’ in this kind of description, what is your alternative to describe this scenario?

You question on TAD, MBL, Wilson can be answered the same way. I agree with PUG, whichever one produces an instrument closer to how the instrument sounds in real life is the more accurate one. However, I think this comparison is hard to do, because it is not just the loudspeaker at play, but also involves the partnering equipment and the room acoustic.

I use only the CDs that are commercially available, I have no access to other material.

PUG said...

Tan,
I disagree with your contention.

Supposing you were to put together a few instruments and have some musician play them through a veil/curtain.

Supposing the audience were told instead that it is a "hifi set" playing from behind the curtain.

Then you ask Person A and Person B his opinion on whether it sounds "accurate".

Supposing Person A says it sounds very accurate, and Person B says it is not so accurate as it sounded somewhat bright, maybe he says the saxaphone sounded rather harsh....etc

And just because Person B says it is not so accurate, does that make the sound any less accurate, less than the real thing, or subjective ?

No ! Nothings has changed it from being the real thing.

The problem here lies with Person B ! And that has nothing to do with the "accuracy" of the music, which can't be any more realistic that it already is.

You have to differentiate between the "accuracy" of the hifi system's reproduction and the "accuracy" of a person's judgment.

The "accuracy" of a person's judgment is the one that's subjective. And that depends on his open-mindedness, experience, and listening intelligence, training....etc

tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mikelau.2 said...

Pug,

Quote-"Accurate" has a "reference", that is to the real live sound of the instrument. At the very least it has a "reference" with which we judge the final result.-uQuote

If there is any "balanced" system that is "accurate-to-live" I salute that person who owns it cause such a system is simply impossible to setup at whatever price. I am refering to a balanced system in every sence of the word playing all genre of music true to live.

"Live-like" music recorded and played back in your room with your "accurate setup" will mostly sound unlistenable because a transparent system like the CR1 or any other similar system will show all the flaws and distortions from the un-edited live recording.

When one listens to live music one's eyes overrides the ears and flaws and distortions can be unwittingly missed out. But not when one listens to hifi with full ears.

".. we judge the final result". WHO is the "we" ?

Our ears all hear differently. Infact most of our ears are unbalanced left to right by the time we passed 50 hehe. If you don't believe me go check it out. Of course this has nothing to do with the way we listen to music but we all hear differently so SOUND IS SUBJECTIVE. And when it is subjective one should avoid using "correct", "accurate", etc.

Close to accurate can be acceptable, I think. Maybe others may want to share their thoughts.

Ken said...

All,

I agree with Mike Lau and Tan.

The main contention is how do we know if the sound produced by a system is accurate in the first place?
1. We were not there at the studio when they are recording the music.
2. We were not there when the engineer is mixing the sound.

Since we are highlighting a piano for instance, how do we know exactly how a Bossendorfer or a Steinway sounds as compared to a Yamaha piano in that particular recording room? We do not know if the recording room is overdamped or just right.
Another thing we have to note is on the gears that we use is very different from the gear that the engineer used to record the music and also in mixing. And every gear that I hear adds something to the sound.
Real live music is loud. So can I say that a system that cannot play loud is not accurate?

So I feel using the word accurate is a misnomer. We are basing a lot of things in assumption, thinking some gear can sound more accurate than others.

At the end of the day, it just boils down to preference. If you love the sound, who’s to say that it is not accurate!

tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OdioSleuth said...

Ken,

Thanks for sharing your opinion.

When you mention Bossendorfer, Steinway, Yamaha, that is another degree of accuracy that we are going down to.

I can't tell a Bossendorfer from a Steinway from a Yamaha. I don't have that level of knowledge with pianos.

I stay at the level of 'piano'. When we hear a piano recording reproduced, whether it is of a Bossendorfer, Steinway or Yamaha, common people will recognize it as a 'piano' (barring a really distorted system or a really distorted recording). I think most audiophiles can also form an opinion on how closely this reproduction sounds like a piano in real life. This is the level of accuracy I am referring to.

I can imagine that if the discussion is among pianists who have played the different makes of pianos, their discussion can go down to the accuracy level of whether it sounds like a Steinway, Bossendorf or Yamaha. We'll be totally out of our depth in such a company discussing piano sound.

Granted, 'accuracy' may not be a generally acceptable term. what is the term that you'll use to describe my scenario about a piano recording played on a bass-boom system where the bass notes are totally jumbled up?

tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PUG said...

Quote Tan: It's muddy (less controlled) ,blur and fat, or perhaps too warm. Quote ends

Tan,
What would that be referenced to ??

tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OdioSleuth said...

Hi tan,

I see. Muddy, blur, fat, warm are good, specific terms to describe such a scenario.

If we are looking for a generic term to describe all these phenomena including many other 'problems', what would be a good term? 'Distortion' is what I can think of. So we say the reproduced sound is more distorted or less distorted, is this more acceptable?

OdioSleuth said...

Hi tan,

I see. Muddy, blur, fat, warm are good, specific terms to describe such a scenario.

If we are looking for a generic term to describe all these phenomena including many other 'problems', what would be a good term? 'Distortion' is what I can think of. So we say the reproduced sound is more distorted or less distorted, is this more acceptable?

PUG said...

Quote Tan: It's muddy (less controlled) ,blur and fat, or perhaps too warm. Quote ends

Tan,
What is meant to ask was what was it you are comparing to when you said "less controlled", blur and fat, or perhaps too warm.

What is that "reference sound" that you are comparing to ?



OdioSleuth said, quote : 'Distortion' is what I can think of. So we say the reproduced sound is more distorted or less distorted, is this more acceptable?


OdioSleuth,
This is just playing with words :-) It simply means more accurate, doesn't it. There is no escaping the word.

tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Guys,

Listen to yourselves, if I read correctlly, at the end of the day, no one can use the word "accurate".....but just personal preference. You got to be kidding me.

All of us here are both qualified and not qualified at the same time to discuss "accuracy".

For starters, please define accuracy and the terms of debate.

Take a stand and make a decision.

I say that the TAD CR1 is both a balanced and pristinely accurate speaker. Done't ask for measurements as it's already been done.

I say that ATC SCM 100 are very accurate speakers and are more full bodied than the CR1 but may not have the refinement or extension which I prefer.

I say that Wilson Maxx are superbly accurate speakers with the price to make the point too.

I say that MBLs are NOT accurate speakers but I like them for their design ingenuity and sound, especially the bass.

I am not too sure about JMLabs as I have not heard them in a suitable system yet.

Since when aren't we allowed to judge based on what we hear? This alone goes against everything some of you were talking about, that specs aren't everything?

Come on. Less talk and let's see a list of speakers you guys deem to be "accurate".

tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OdioSleuth said...

tan,

Ah, I stand corrected. You did say 'too warm'. :-)

mikelau.2 said...

Felix,

You honestly think it is possible to setup an accurate system that can reproduce accurate sound ?

This was the subject of argument.

I believe this "accurate sound" reproduced is subjective ?

Cheers,

Mike

Big E said...

Felix,

My personal take on the TAD CR-1. Unforced, natural, balanced tonality, truthful and poised sums up it's performance.

It's definitely SOTA, except for the last octave of the bottom frequency not fully produced, due to it's physical design limitations.

In some rooms, systems and preferences it wouldn't matter too much, like OS said himself.

To others, that single short coming virtually disqualifies it as a top contender for it's given price point.

My Fact 8 speakers are clearly a few rungs below in performance stakes compared to the CR-1. My saving grace is that it kinda matches the rest of my humble system and more importantly my room acoustics!

Ken said...

OS,

Accuracy is not the correct term to be used because we seriously do not know how accurate/close our system sound.

The only word I could think of is "life-like", which means sounds close to live music. But then again, this is debatable...haha

Anyway, it is good to see that a few audiophiles being passionate about the sound to post so much. This is refreshing

Ken said...

Big E,

I agree with your assertion about CR1.

I would say that the resolving abilities of this speaker is top notch, only that he bass does not extend to the more lower octave. In Stereophile, they would term it Class A Restricted LF.

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Mike,

Yes. Absolutely.

Take away ALL subjective and personal viewpoints and revert to textbook guidelines, we can ALL achieve a fairly accurate sound reproduction.

However, everything else in the soundroom must be considered in the equation. Every single point, down to the calculation.

The one biggest reason why some of us debate so heavily on this subject is because not all of us know how to do that, nor do we have the correct knowledge to do so.

I am curious Mike. If you think that it is "impossible" to set up an accurate sounding system, then why do you bother at all?

Since we are on the subject of accuracy, which speakers do you use in your system? Do share with us which speakers in the market you think is more accurate than those that are mentioned here, the CR1 included.

mikelau.2 said...

tan,

Yes 'eye-fi-ers' are indeed alive.

That is a fact in hifi.

Perception and Placebo can play havoc too.

OS,

I respect and accept your explanation on your term on "accuracy".

When I first started hifi some 6-7 years ago with a very entry-level used system I also thought the piano sound sounded very live-like and "accurate". Now 6 years down the road and with several upgrades of equipment the sound of piano may have improved or is better sounding. The years of experience also helped in the setting up with better speaker placements, acoustics etc. But I often asked myself if given this experience 6 years ago would I have been able to put together the same improvement in sound with the same entry-level used equipment but with the upgraded power supply and cables ? Would it be close ? I would not know until I try. But I am sure it will not be far off.

I have used several speakers from bookshelves to floorstanders. If one were to ask me if my current piano sound is "more accurate" than the previous speaker I will have difficulty saying a definite 'yes'. More extension - probably yes. Better sounding - maybe yes too. But "more accurate" ? Not a definite yes.

Would you say your current piano sound sounds "more accurate" compared to your Eggleston Nine ? Or better in other aspects but not more "accurate".

Sorry, maybe its my poor understanding of the word "accuracy".

Cheers,

Mike

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Big E,

That is a sensible and fair point of view.

I wonder if TAD makes subwoofers? :-)

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Mike,

There will never be a trade off for cutting edge performance or as how Big E always puts it, the last few percent of performance is the toughest.

There will always be a limit in perfromance to "budget" equipment.

During its manufacturing, the tolerances allowed are much wider than high end gears. This in itself presents a stop gap measure to better performance.

Take F1 race for example. 0.1mm off the valve calibration already means 2nd place.

For that matter, if we put MSchumacher in a souped up 600bhp proton inspira in the F1, do you think he can still win?

Sometimes, for that last ounce of performance, we have to pay.

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Ken,

I think when Big E mentioned lower ocaves, he meant 20Hz. In that respect, neither the TAD CR1 or the ATC SCM100 goes that low.

I am not sure how Stereophile classified the TAD CR1 but here is one the review by JA who also measured it.

http://www.stereophile.com/content/tad-compact-reference-cr1-loudspeaker

"Though the CR1 is ostensibly a stand-mounted design, it didn't lack low frequencies. The one-third–octave warble tones on Editor's Choice (CD, Stereophile STPH016-2) were reproduced with full weight down to the 32Hz band, but with a fast rolloff below. Listening to the half-step–spaced toneburst track from Editor's Choice with a stethoscope pressed against the enclosure revealed no resonances. The tonebursts "spoke" cleanly, with only a slight degree of blurring at the onset of each burst below 100Hz—excellent performance for a ported design. And again, the signal was reproduced with full weight to 32Hz".

"This has a beautifully even bass guitar throughout, especially in "Down in the Bottom"; the bottom octave was presented in full measure by the TAD monitors, but without any upper-bass boom to obscure the instrument's definition. Another recent acquisition, Busoni's virtuosic transcription for piano of J.S. Bach's Chaconne for solo violin, performed by Wolf Harden (CD, Naxos 8.555699), was similarly reproduced with an excellent sense of weight to the piano's lower register. Again, the instrument's low notes spoke evenly and cleanly. This recording also revealed how clean and uncolored the CR1's midrange was: though this is a complex, densely scored arrangement, there was no sense of congestion in the sound of the piano, or the feeling that some notes were being unnaturally projected forward".

"This is not to imply that the TAD was reticent or mellow—far from it. While the CR1 was not bright as such, it was far from being reticent in the highs, which means that it worked best with amplifiers that are themselves neutrally balanced".

There are more. It is a good read, especially about the part being "uncolored" and "neutrally balanced".

OdioSleuth said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks for sharing your experience. A very good read about your Hifi journey that many of us can identify with.

As for your question to me, I did write in my post, "With the TAD-CR1, the sound from various instruments sounded so much more accurate and realistic." :-)

The EgglestonWorks Nine are excellent speakers, otherwise i would not have lived with them for the last 4 years. the Esotar tweeter used is one of the best tweeters available currently. Despite it being a fabric dome, I'd put it in the same class as marten's ceramic, focal's beryllium, tad's beryllium and b&w's diamond (though I have only short listen to b&w).

The Egglestonworks has a voluptuous sound (a sound with very good body), and a overt sonic character which can be seductive and yet exciting to listen to. And no one will complain that the bass is light :-)

With the hefty price difference compared to TAD, it does not match TAD's overall resolution and evenness, which I put down to TAD's studio monitor pedigree.

Ken said...

Felix,

If the CR1 can produce 32Hz, do you think the ATC SCM100 is not capable of at least the same low extension or maybe lower extension?

Stereophile acceptance of full range is down to 20Hz for full frequency extension, if I am not wrong.

Anyway, you are quoting a review regarding a gear. I am sure you would not trust every word a reviewer says right? Otherwise, there will be no bad sounding gear ;-)

On another note, if I put "younger" Schumacher in a souped up Proton, I would expect him to at least achieve a respectable placing in the Rally type of race. I would expect him to give valuable advice to the engineering side on the main weakness of the car so that improvement can be made. If the engineering side is good, then you will see the gradual performance improvement of the outfit. The same applies to hifi.
If you are experienced, you can identify the weakness of your system and then try to improve it. It may involves a lot of things, even change of hardware. But before you do that, you must know what type of music you like and to also know if the system has the capability to sound good in those music.

Just my opinion!

mikelau.2 said...

Felix,

q-There will never be a trade off for cutting edge performance or as how Big E always puts it, the last few percent of performance is the toughest.uq

I believe in that statement esp the last part. And to those who think they can achieve that last bit of performance I wish them good luck.

q-Sometimes, for that last ounce of performance, we have to pay.-uq

For F1 - yes. Because its tangible. For hifi - no - because one will never get it. How do I know for sure ? Simple - Is there anyone out there who have reached this point yet and stopped searching ? No ? So, I take it as NOT ATTAINABLE ? Afterall Hifi is not a new hobby. Is that a fair assumption ?

I own a very modest thiel 2.4 nowhere near the CR1. Played with it for more than 3 years. But since you asked me to share I have to oblige and hopefully you can share yours too. I also want to share "my sound" with you, Ken & others and hopefully reciprocated equally too. OS, Big E and the eminent monk have my contact.

Maybe you and Ken will be able to take me to another level in my journey !

Cheers,

Mike

mikelau.2 said...

Ken,

I don't believe in everything written by reviewers, JA included. If only they write the truth it makes our job of buying an equipment easier.

Felix/Ken/Big E/OS,

"A jack of all trade is master of none"

Do you think this applies to hifi ?

Would appreciate your opinions on this.

My journey thus far seem to point towards that. Or this applies only to 'lowfi setups' and high ends are exempted ? Maybe OS best person to answer this last part of question.

mikelau.2 said...

Oops - Big E/OS,

I just realised you and OS are both also reviewers. When I made the comment on not believing everything the reviewers write you and OS were not on my radar, honest. Hope you both won't take offence. I was actually refering to reviewers in the audio/hifi mags.

Cheers,

Mike

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Ken,

Apart from the perceived higher SPL from the ATCs, I really can't tell if it will go lower or sound better than the TAD CR1, IMHO.

This isn't to discredit the ATCs in any way at all.

From my experiences with woofers, for drivers up to 12 inch, going down to 30Hz in an optimum box is easy enough but to hit 20Hz, you'd really need a 15 or better still 18" drivers. Twin drivers in parrallel won't go lower but maybe slightly louder. Twin driver in serial will go slightly lower but not much louder.

That's the thing Ken, rally and F1 are just 2 complete races, one of which I have some familiarity.

OdioSleuth said...

Mike,
No offence taken!

I myself read hifi reviews for information and relaxation. A review will not be the deciding factor in my purchasing decision. I expect the same with our readers.

If someone is looking for something and found that my writings have some information to assist his search and evaluation, I’d be more than glad already. Otherwise, if someone find my writings worth taking a few minutes to read, that is good enough for me too. To believe or not believe what I write, well, that is up to each person. :-)

Your question on “a jack of all trade is master of none” - I am not sure I understand entirely what you are getting at. Let me attempt something.

There is no perfect hifi equipment, and there will never be perfect hifi equipment. As technology, knowledge and skill progress, we can approach perfection but never reach it. That is the nature of the physical world.

I think of it this way- take the number zero to denote perfection (think of it as zero imperfection). Then take any number, keep dividing it by 2 (like halving the imperfection every time), we’ll get closer and closer to zero, but we’ll never reach zero.

All hifi equipment is a compromise. Which area to compromise is for the designer to decide, how much the compromise is may be decided by cost and skill.

A designer may need to compromise less with highend equipment assuming that he also has a bigger budget to play with so he can come up with a better design and use higher quality parts.

All hifi equipment is a ‘jack of all trade’ of some sort. It has to cover the entire audio range minimally (except perhaps a subwoofer, which needs to be a ‘master’ in bass only), not to mention reliability, transport-ability, repair-ability, ‘eye-fi’-ability etc..

A skilful designer with enough budget to spend may decide to make his gear less and less a ‘jack’ across board as he goes higher end; or he can decide to keep it a ‘jack’ in some areas, but more a ‘master’ in some other areas.

This is all my generalization, of course. Just my 2 cents.

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Mike,

I use a very modest Epos ES11.

Mike, no one will be able to help you attain hifi nirvana except yourself, definitely not me.

The challenge is with yourself, never with equipment or other audiophiles. I can see you have gone quite far into pushing your equipment yet you are unperturbed in your on going quest to do better. This is human nature for we are never really contented. Even if we think we are, Contentment and Complacency is just next to each other. You need to know where you stand all the time. Be clear and be truthful to yourself. Are you searching for accuracy or superiority? They are NOT the same.

In HiFi, the reason sometimes we feel like we are on a wild goose chase is because our hearing is continuously evolving as we traverse our musical journey. Our system need to catch up with our listening progress. We just need to make sure that we, are progressing in the right direction.

This is where we need to cultivate good listening abilities, developing a high listening intelligence (like a chef and his tasting abilities). Sometimes this means disembowelling what we think we already know.

6 to 7 years is not a long time. Some have spent much longer time getting to where you are at. Current Technology has unpegged performance limitations, technology wise. Newer and better ways are superceeding archaic ways in the blink of an eye. Old technology are good but newer ones are just sometimes better and more practical. You just need how to choose wisely and correctly.

Again, it boils down to yourself.

Personally, the TAD CR1 and most other high end speakers is more capable a machine than I would ever need a speaker to ever be.

mikelau.2 said...

OS,

Amazing. That's how "accurate" you can get to put your message across as I can relate to everything said !

Sorry if I stirred the hornets over a word or two.

Cheers

Ken said...

Felix,

I did not play you the whole she-bang of my disc collection. Of course, you could not deduce if it can go lower than the CR1. But I can assure you it does.

Anyway, I used to own Epos ES14 for some years, initially driving it with modest setup before going for wild with better pre/pwr combi. Even when I upgraded the other hardware in my setup, I never felt short-changed by the Epos 14. The only complain I have is that the Epos could only play to a certain spl. Can't really complain when I take the price that I pay for it into consideration.

Personally though I respect 1 or 2 reviewers, I do not trust any of them because each has their own preference.

mikelau.2 said...

Felix,

There is no hifi nirvana as far as I know and I am not looking towards that. Its misleading (hifi nirvana) and a misconception, a fallacy.

No I am definitely not looking for accuracy nor superiority. I am looking for something 'better' than accuracy. Let me explain. of course all this is subjective and other thing is I don't remember attending any top rate band. So my reference to sound is from live performance by 2nd or 3rd rate musicians and from listening to other better sounding hifi systems.

Take for e.g. On drums and perhaps guitar bass I just find the drums particularly less cohesive or consistent. In a couple of instances they sounded bad. The saxophone was also not consistent sounding. Unlike good recordings which have gone thro the hands of the recording engineer the sound is more cohesive and consistent (excuse me if I am not using the right term to describe). So I try to tune my setup to 'sound better' using my brain reference (of good sounds that I have heard), rightly or wrongly I don't know. But that's how I do it.

Superiority - Oh No ! But I must admit that if thro my hifi listening if I discover something that draws my attention say transient of a musical sound from a higher end system (eg 3rd track of Three Kingdoms), I would try to work on my system to at least match it without changing equipments but by tweaking.



Cheers

Big E said...

Guys,

In my lifetime, I've said many things which I've come to regret later. Hopefully not too much is said here in this blog pages.

However, today I'll say these:
1) There's no perfect hifi equipment.
2) There's no perfect recording.
3) There's no perfect acoustic enviroment.
4) There's no perfect power supply.
5) There's no perfect hifi owners.

So how can one achieve the perfect hifi???

Hifi is a game where the equipment only allows the music performance to fool one self, and even if the effect is only momentarily, I think we should consider our selves lucky already for having achieved such an experience.

To expect achieving absolute "acuracy" from hifi system is a fallacy. To expect an "approximate acuracy" is more atainable.

Reviews are just personal opinion on a subject matter by someone who(presumably) has much more experience than the average person. Reviewers are people too, and just like everyone else, is far from perfect!

So if anyone buys an equipment just based on a review, then god help them please! I think every reviewer would prefer buyers to touch, see and experience the product of intended purchase, prior to making a comitment if possible. Reviews are only useful as a guide to list out a few potential candidates for audition. From there onwards, the said punter would have to trust his/her ears!

Sometimes I think hifi guys take our selves too seriously. May I suggest we take a chill pill every now and then?

Now did I just said somethings that I would regret later in life?

Enjoy your hobby la. Ha! Ha!

Ken said...

Big E,

Your post is the best that I have seen from you ;-P

I agree with you on that post all the way.

I am just amazed that people think they can achieve perfectionism with hifi, no matter how expensive they are. What is worse is I know of some "audiophiles" who steadfastly believe in 1 way to audio nirvana.

Lastly, it is normal to say something and regret it later. Just make sure you don't do it to your wife...hahaha

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Ken,

I'll have to take what you aid with a pinch of salt as both TAD CR1 and ATC SCM100 has a cut off at 32Hz.

Like Willy said, lucky thing you are not a reviewer. Otherwise, I can't believe you at all.

Due to their different sensitivity, I would say that the SCM100 may be "louder" at that cut off frequency and that will follow through the roll off slope, that is if they share the same roll off gradient.

Mike,

I have to ask you this.

You only dabbled into hifi the last 6-7 years and you are proclaiming that there isn't hifi nirvana? Errr.....

I also think it is natural that if you put a badly recorded software into your system, it should sound bad, whether it is the sax or drums. A lot of music out there aren't really suitable to be used for system tweaking. I think I have mentioned a few to you before this.

Just my 2 sen.

Ken said...

Felix,

I expected you to have this conclusion because you primarily look at the specs of a hardware.

Anyway, I don't think Mike is the only guy who says that there is no audio nirvana, Big E also mention this very well in his post.
And I agree with both of them on this point.

Even if you own a megabuck system, you can and will hear another system (which maybe cheaper or more expensive) that can beat it at least in 1 or 2 areas. Because there is no perfect system. The perfect system is an illusion that some people created. It is akin to having a paradise. It just does not exist.

mikelau.2 said...

Big E,

You are one rare reviewer ! Talking about hifi attrbutes - "neutral", "truthful" - your post represents this.

Kudos to you for your unbiased view.

An excellent post.

Cheers,

Mike

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Ken,

My points of view are based on both specs and what I heard or didn't hear.

Big E's posting is about "perfection". I did not read him saying anything about "audio nirvana".

I didn't want to say anything but since you referred to his posting, I will ask you and also Big E this, tell me what in life is "perfect"?

Also, Big E is a 40 something audiophile/reviewer/blogger with a set experiences unique to himself and what he said is based on and limited to that.

Big E can agree that till today, he has not done everything more than everyone else or everything that his heart desires when it comes to audiophilia. With that perspective in mind, his review and point of view is all a personal point of view, which I respect but not necessarily will embrace wholeheartedly.

What is obvious is the fact that Big E, despite being a reviewer finds favourable audience in both you and Mike when he says things which is agreeable to both of you. Conversely, when the opposite happens, comments like "....not believeing everything the reviewers write..." comes about.

So, in your own opinion, when do we take what Big E or OS says to be acceptable? Which of their reviews is more believable?

"Audio Nirvana" is different for different individuals. You know you are near when you get hair and goosebumps when you listen to your own system. Most of us would have experienced that one time or another. It isn't about perfection, it isn't about specs or accuracy. It is about enlightenment, about finding your way into music.

A guys with 6-7 years experience dabbling into hifi proclaims that there isn't such a thing as audio nirvana and another guy with 15 years experience says otherwise. Who do we believe?

At this juncture, I am just glad that non of us here are audio designers. There will be little future left for the audio industry if anyone of us were.

But if by the remotest chance that we were, where do we start? We start with a sound and then the specs. Just to make sure that our sound is portrayed correctly and as accurately as possible.

mikelau.2 said...

Felix,

The number of years in the hifi journey has no co-relation to one's hands-on experience. But one's desire, commitment, interest and passion will determine the end result.

A newbie who is passionate and is able to conceptualize and the ability to pick things up fast with say 3-4 years experience may beat me or another guy who has more years of experience. Please don't get me wrong. I am not implying that I am better than you.

And there are some experienced audiophiles with plenty of technical knowledge but not able to apply them fully. Their sound system is testament of this and the fault probably lies in their listening abilities. Sorry for being blunt but this is my finding. I could be wrong of course.

On the subject of "audio nirvana" do you know of anyone who has reached this point? You can prove me wrong by just pointing to such a living person you know.

Nirvana is where one no longer needs to go any further, its the end of the road so to speak. One need not have to read up audio mags anymore. No need for any more upgrading any component. No need to listen to other systems or other views. No need to go to audio stores or read anymore reviews. Just sit back and enjoy one's system. That to me is - Nirvana. Short of this is not Nirvana.

What is your interpretation of nirvana ?

From my humble experience again there is not just one or two ways to tweak a system. Similarly one cannot just use only good material for tuning or tweaking. The more material one use for tweaking (dependent on one's system) the better.

I have listened to systems that are supposed to be "well-tuned" and "good sounding" (not newbie systems). They were 'impressive' with rock and some other more complex music. But it was not so when a simple jazz vocal was played. From that experience I always have a couple of "simple recordings" (Diana Krall one of them). It is from this simple recording that one is able to identify what's missing in one's system when compared with another, not necessary high-end but well-tuned system or one's own system that had at one time portrayed the recording better. I wish I can put my message across better but bear with me. I am merely responding to your suggestion on tuning/tweaking. Like I said rightly or wrongly this is how I do it. But at the end of the day it's the result - one's sound system.

Cheers

mikelau.2 said...

Felix,

Merriam Webster Dictionary's definition of "Nirvana" -

"A GOAL HOPED FOR BUT APPARENTLY UNATTAINABLE".

Don't take my word for it. Just google.

If you mean it differently perhaps use some other word to describe.

Cheers

Ken said...

Felix,

To me "audio nirvana" equates to perfection.

When a person listen to a system, he finds it to sound great but he later listen to another system and finds it even better. So can I say that it is audio nirvana in the second time? I would not because he probably listen to a 3rd system and find it even better.
I would conclude that the person has listened to a good sounding system and then better sounding system.

I can tell you that I have not reached audio nirvana. I can hear the imperfection of my system and I know that I cannot make it perfect. But I can tell you that I have never heard any system that can transfer me to audio nirvana. I can hear its imperfection! Maybe my demand / expectation is higher.

I never trust reviewers because all of them have bias towards some parts of the frequency spectrum. You also do not know their hearing ability. What is sibilance to one reviewer is “airy” to another! Also all reviewers have their own music preference. They can’t help it because they are human.
Also another aspect of reviews is that you often see them stating that they just heard a "perfect speaker" and then a few months later finds another "perfect speaker" which beats the previous one in certain aspects. There are quite a few reviewers who do it, from less popular hifi mags to those with high readership. It is never ending!
There are a number of gears that I heard that reviewers rave about but when I listen to them, they sound so poor that I could not believe it. And the thing is that I did bring it back home to compare for possible upgrade.
And please do not forget the fact that ALL audiophile mags survive with help from adverts from manufacturers.
I agree with Big E post when he says that perfection does not exist. He was not reviewing a gear when he was writing his post. I think you need to see that it is 2 different things.

But I do want to ask you do you believe the reviews you read?

Also having shorter years of dabbling in something does not equate to having less experience. If you are exposed to a lot of good hifi and if you are a fast learner, you can progress faster. I have seen some audiophile friends who progress through leaps and bounds and are now even better than me. What is important is that you need a good knowledgeable friend to show the way

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Mike,

Audio Nirvana to me means a subconscience sonic transcendence into the music.

Attaining musical peace free from equipment sound into a believable sonicscape almost tangible enough for our higher senses. A kind of liberation from our physical senses. Freeing ourselves from our bondage from perceived logic.

"To do this you need to purge yourself of (sonic) greed, hatred and delusion. To achieve neutral actions through balanced psycho-physical being".

Yes, the paragraph above, I am borrowing words straight from the buddhist context scriptures.

To quote GB, "Nirvana, is the highest happiness".

Have you never been excited about your system sound?

What you are describing is more like an arrival or an end of a journey or being free from hifi itself.

I could name a few person but I don't think it is prudent to publish them online without their consent.

Personally, I have had a few episodes of sonic "out of body" experiences too. That is what really keeps me going.

tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Ken,

Then in that case, you do not know the meaning of nirvana. It may be liberation, it may be pureness and it may be peace but it certainly does not mean perfection.

Big E was refering to perfection, not nirvana.

There are four paths to attain in order to achieve nirvana so yes, you can have the audio highs at least 4 times, and then some, if I corelate them like this.

Unlike spiritual nirvana, audio nirvana can happen over and over again. Don't confuse audio with spiritual nirvana.

I do trust reviewers as much as I trust any normal human being. Yes, all of them have biases (including you and me, who doesn't)but all of us have one advantage and that is the power of discernment. I bought almost all my gears based on reviews and further recommendation and I would say that only a very low percentage was misleading.

Even if you bought something wrongly from a magazine review recommendation, you are as much to be blamed as the reviewer is. No one is more right or wrong, it just means that you have a different taste from the reviewer. That's all. Good reviewers have a way of writing between the lines. You just need to learn how to read between the lines.

We have to bear in mind that reputable reviewers are read by readers globally. They do have their personal intergrity to protect. Especially with internet nowadays.

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Tan,

You have been enlightened.

Qudos! :-)and thank you.

tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mikelau.2 said...

Felix,

All that needs to be said about "Nirvana" has been ascertained in one way or other by MW and GB as posted by you.

The constant pursuit for technology and advancement in speaker manufacturing was the heart of your message relating to "accuracy". Yet you mention nirvana is "...to purge oneself from sonic greed".

Are these 2 views not contradictary ?

If you accept GB's interpretation then the right way to it is to give up hifi immediately...and you are in nirvana, right ?

I find it hard to understand your logic since you abide by GB's definition on one hand but at the same time emphasising the pursuit for technological advancement.

Cheers

tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mikelau.2 said...

Felix,

If you do not buy the definition as expressed in Buddhism please don't quote it to support your argument.

If you also do not accept MW's definition please use another word to describe what you want to express otherwise it causes a lot of confusion and disagreement.

Don't you think so ?

mikelau.2 said...

tan,

"Audio nirvana" is a marketing hype used often by manufacturers and some reviewers/promoters to promote their products and to make the hifi/audio industry thrive.

In reality there is no such thing as 'audio nirvana' and I think you know it too.

cheers

tan said...

Mike,

My understanding and interpretation of "audio nirvana" was mentioned earlier, simple as that.

I think sound quality is abstract, so is scent, which is hardly to be exactly described by words, so I never take it seriously, the best way for me is to listen to the system sound myself !

tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Mike,

I think you have not grasped what I was trying to say. And yes, you are confused.

Everyone knows audio nirvana is a term borrowed to describe a scenario and nothing to do with spiritual nirvana.

What we are discussing here is NOT spiritual nirvana but your misinterpretation of audio nirvana, a term which I used and was subsequently denied its existence by yourself which I took the liberty to correct. I quoted GB as a means to highlight both the differences and similarties. No offence intended to any Buddhist here whatsoever.

Lastly, "....to purge oneself from sonic greed"....is exactly how I meant it.

Sonic greed = colouration, excessive bass, excessive slam, over the top transient, highs, etc.

Purging oneself from sonic greed will attain neutrality, balance and refinement. Everything you need to get closer to accuracy.

Mike, I'll stop here if it confuses you further or offends you. Besides, this exchanges are veering off topic and getting pointless.

I am just very curious reading all your posts. Everything to you is not possible, unattainable, no such thing, etc....makes me wonder why you bother with hifi at all. Do you even enjoy it?

Just a curiosity.

OdioSleuth said...

Hi Mike,

The Merriam Webster Dictionary's definition of "Nirvana" quoted by you is biased. The person who coined this definition exposed his/her shallow or non-existent understanding of Buddhism. 

Go to google, type "define nirvana'. The first few entries that come up are a good start. 

All,
There is an ancient Chinese saying- "夏虫不可以语冰" which means "One cannot talk about ice to a summer bug". Everyone speaks from one's own point of view and experience, and if there is no overlap with the other person's, an impasse is inevitable. We are talking about Hifi, I agree with tan, the best is to listen to the systems. Let's not believe or reject words about 'ice' outright, go find out and experience 'ice' ourselves. 

tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mikelau.2 said...

Hi Felix,

Me confused ? Not in the direction of my hifi journey.

But I am a bit confused when you praise so ever highly of the CR1 when you don't own one yourself !! Even the owner did not go to the extent.

OS,

I googled as suggested. I find the essence of the meaning no different.

There are more summer bugs out there than ice bugs I assure you !hehe

Anyway I think we have said enough.

You and Felix maintain there is audio nirvana and I maintain audio nirvana is not attainable, a fallacy. OK ?

No offence. Catch up for a drink with you some time.

cheers.

Ken said...

All,

I am a Buddhist as well. And Nirvana to me means enlightenment, to be free of human negative feeling of lust, hatred, material etc. It is the highest attainment for any living thing in this universe.

Ignorant audio reviewers use this word to describe a sensation that they feel. This is blasphemous akin to saying that I am in heaven because I am listening to a audio hardware. Can you be in heaven or be heavenly when you listen to 50K gear or a 1 million system? It is just like saying that my system sound accurate. Do you know what is accurate? How do you measure accuracy? By looking at the specs of a gear that is measured in an anechoic chamber?
As John McEnroe would say, "You cannot be serious!"

They use a wrong word to describe what they feel.
I would have chosen "audio bliss" which to me, sounds correct. In Wikipedia, Bliss can be a state of profound satisfaction, happiness and joy, a constant state of mind, undisturbed by gain or loss.

Felix,

I never trust reviewers because I do not know their preference. I may respect 1 or 2 of them but I do not trust them implicitly. I never buy any gear based on a review. What I usually do is to take a gear home, review it in the context of my system, in my room with my music preference to hear if it is good. How do I do this? By having a good relationship with my regular hifi shop where I get loaners.
You see, manufacturers use review to sell their hardware. If the review is good, they will sell more. And the audio mags get more adverts. It is a simbiotic relationship that I am not comfortable with. But I am not saying that all gears are bad sounding. I am just saying I trust my ears and my experience when I come to buy anything with my hard earned cash. I am sure you can relate to this.

This is my opinion.

Actually if you look at the thread, we have been arguing about the choice of words. I seem to feel that the words that is used
describe a sensationis wrongly used. What is deem to be"accurate" now is blur in a few years time!

I am sorry if the word chosen may be strong for some readers.

OdioSleuth said...

Mike,

No offence taken. I hope I have also not offended you in any manner.

Big E and myself appreciate your particiaption on our humble blog.

On the discussion on hand, let's agree to disagree.

a teh tarik session is definitely a good idea. :-)

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Mike,

You said, "But I am a bit confused when you praise so ever highly of the CR1 when you don't own one yourself !! Even the owner did not go to the extent".

This is both an archaic approach and a hit below the belt. Very ungentlemanly of you. You sound like a defeated kid on the ground with a handful of sand.

For the records, I "praised" the TAD CR1 no more than you did putting it down.

I merely said that the TAD CR1 was very capable, balanced, refined and in OS's system, sounded very accurate (especially with full TAD gear). You challenged my findings so I posted to explain to you, a gesture I thought would do justice to everyone here.

The TAD CR1 sounded good to me and I believe it is a good product. It is called believing in something.

Whether you like it of not, "audio nirvana" is a term used by millions of people in this world. It wasn't coined by me or OS, no. You have the perogative to say i doesn't exist an we have our right to use it.

It is a term, not a place nor is it a religion. Get that out of your head. Now we know it doesn't exist in your mind or hifi.

I am curious, you sound very clear about your hifi directions, yet with your "everything not possible" approach, no such thing as audio nirvana I wonder which direction is that? Please do enlighten us.

Ken,

I read you and understand what you are saying and I can appreciate your opinion.

mikelau.2 said...

Felix,

I did not say it to offend you or to hit you below the belt. How can I ? My thinking was if you had not owned it and played with it for a length of time with materials familiar to you how would you know for certain the CR1 is really 'that good' ? And quoting reviews from stereophile ? Isn't that a fair assumption ?

You yourself agreed with me that the CR1 did not perform up to expectations at the showroom partnered with top Tad gears but only after I mentioned it. And I mentioned it because you spoke so highly of it. Not only you and I felt that way but you could see no one else's "jaw drop" either - for a setup costing more than half a million ringgit ?

I have listened to the CR1 with OS's 'better room setup' and so have many others but partnered with his existing gears . All I like to say is the speaker responded better in his room to my ears but again it was accessed with different source materials.

I don't want to say any more than necessary of the CR1 except that your assessment even supported by reviews, tech specs etc cannot be absolute and others are also entitled to their opinions too.

q - It is a term, not a place nor is it a religion. Get that out of your head. Now we know it doesn't exist in your mind or hifi.- uq

Funny,I quoted MW's secular definition and you responded by quoting the religious version, No ?

No, I repeat again - audio nirvana does not exist in my mind and because of that I am more blessed than those who think otherwise. Sorry for being blunt it is this group which includes you who are confused.

In response to your last para I see you have not got it yet. Nirvana is like the rainbow. If it was possible many of us would pay to go touch it, feel it. But you can only see it at a distance but you can never reach it or touch it.

Bliss, satisfaction, contentment, enjoyment are my goals in hifi. All these are not Audio Nirvana but to put in simple terms - 'below nirvana'. And because of that it's - bliss & blessed. The 'shok-shok' feeling you get from hearing to one recording is not nirvana. If it was then anyone can apply that term outside hifi like having a beer or scotch, bedding a girl you met for first time, girl receiving flowers on her first date, getting a patek philippe as b/d gift ? They don't use nirvana to describe their joy.

Anyway I have said enough and I think you know my thoughts by now. And you are entitled to your audio nirvana and I will not challenged it further.

And to put on record I still hold you in high regard besides our differences in opinion. My apologies if I have offended you or others in my post.

cheers

mikelau.2 said...

Felix,

About the rainbow analogy to nirvana let me put it in better perspective.

When an uneducated person sees a rainbow across a hill it does not seem far and would seem reachable. (I am sure we felt that way too when were were young and uneducated.)

Humans tho uneducated have the spirit to explore and in this case walk towards the rainbow in the hope of reaching it but only to find no matter how many times he tries he just cannot reach it.

This is the best analogy I can come up with.

Just too bad if you don't accept this analogy.

cheers

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Mike,

Let's just say, I have had my time with the CR1s, including learning and trying out its set up attributes. I did not only listened to it during shows and launch but numerous other times as well, partnered with different equipment. I first heard it about 3 or 4 years ago. Can't remember. So, I do know more about this speaker than some of us here, you included.

I won't comment further about the term audio nirvana as I meant it as a catch phrase rather than anything more serious.

However, you continue to confuse me. You said that Audio Nirvana don't exist but you also said that,......

"Bliss, satisfaction, contentment, enjoyment are my goals in hifi. All these are not Audio Nirvana but to put in simple terms - 'below nirvana'. And because of that it's - bliss & blessed. The 'shok-shok' feeling you get from hearing to one recording is not nirvana".

So, do you actually believe it exist or not? And what would be your definition of Audio Nirvana?

The strive for excellence is not an act of sin or greed. In fact, as human beings, we are required to excel, to do our best. Less we be victims of sloth and complacency.

Technological advancements and the strive for excellence is not greed or sin but complacency is.

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Mike,

Rainbows.

This is where some of us are different from each other.

For me, nirvana is being able to see the rainbow itself with my own eyes, the colour and the splendour, together with the glory of the rest of the landscape. To be able to breathe the clean air and to touch the wind. To be there when it happens.

If I wanted more, I would try to take a picture and hope that I capture it as accurately as possible to convey the feelings I felt, that one moment.

A slice of heaven on earth.

Cheers.

mikelau.2 said...

Felix,

Your last post is most beautiful and touched my inner side. You see I love nature too. The way you describe the beauty of the rainbow I see that splendor too and I always thank God whenever I see such a sight. It would appear we have that in common except our differences lies in how we term it. The other major difference is I am somewhat an 'absolutist' whereas I think you may be the opposite. That's why the argument when superlatives like "accuracy" to describe a sound or speaker and "audio nirvana" to describe a feeling touched a nerve.

Being an absolutist I need to see tangible proof to support the use of such superlatives.

Yes there is such a thing about comparative "accuracy" applied to some things in life which are tangible. But in hifi sound and anything related to it is not tangible. For instance if you were to use very accurate equipment to locate pin-point placement of your accurate speakers (and tow-in/out) and sweetspot you will very likely end up making minute changes to them (the sweetspot as well as the speakers) to suit your preference. So what is "accuracy" ? You may think I am assuming all this but I assure you I am not.

Similar on hindsight - Nirvana. I can't think of any hobby or sports that uses nirvana to describe their excitement or joy. Do you know of any ? If I am not wrong we are the only secular community using it but only some audiophiles and reviewers use it and use it to propagate and to sell. I can't think of any other good reason.

But like I said I have to acknowledge your choice of the word.

cheers

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Hello Mike,

Ah, good to know that there is a nature loving side to the absolutist in you.

Yes, you are right, I am not an absolutist. I am more a scientist.

On the case of speaker positioning, you could have gotten the position "accurately" wrong in the first place.

Do consider that the speaker itself has manufacturing tolerances issues. I would try measuring for the tweeter next time instead of the speaker box.

mikelau.2 said...

Felix,

Just a follow-up from your scientific approach to speaker placement and sweet spot location do you really stick accurately to the measurements without any manual adjustments to suit your preference ? I have to assume you have no preference but just listen to what comes out from the speakers even if the vocal is not spot on center ? What about fine tuning the bass to your liking ?

Do you use a subwoofer ? And is this also scientifically placed ?

cheers

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Mike,

I do like what everyone does. Postulate, calculate, position and tune by ear.

We have to assume that since our room itself isn't a perfect room, laser accuracy will only be as good as the imperfect room. Our ears are much more sensitive than a laser pointer so it will be able to detect anomalies which has to be adjusted by ear.

My L/R speaker has a <1mm offset at the tweeter mounting. My ear picked it up and I verified by measuring later. Now it is spot on. I don't hear the speakers most times, only the music.

Subwoofers are complicated yet simple at the same time. Depends on whether you know how to find the correct type, sweet spot and also have the space for it. For subs, I use the RTA to verify, fine tune by ear and then verify RTA again. Phase or anything that affects phase is the most inportant factor in subs implementation. I have special interest in subwoofers.

What do you think of the Wilson Benesch Torus Subwoofer?

mikelau.2 said...

Felix,

Wow, you have fantastic hearing abilities !

If you have to offset your tweeters does it mean that the speakers were not accurately made ?

I was keen on a used Wilson Benesch sub. The price asked was high but I was told it was sold 1 year later at the price that I was willing to offer then.

Mike

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Mike,

The ES11 has a floating front and back baffle. It was Robin Marshall's idea of decoupling the drivers from the box as resonant control. I do not know if it was poor manufacturing tolerances or I may have knocked it out of place over the years.

tan said...

All serious audiophiles should read this,

http://www.ultrahighendreview.com/the-sound-of-one-hand-clapping/