Question for digiphiles

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emers...@yahoo.com

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May 8, 2001, 7:58:50 PM5/8/01
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If you fit the following description:

- To you, digital recordings generally sound more like the live feed
or "live music"

- You insist that people who claim analog sounds more like music must
"like the sound of analog distortion"

Then I have this question:

Why do you trust your own perceptions but insist that the perceptions
of others are illusory? We all listen to music and make a subjective
judgement of its accuracy (to music in general, or if we've heard the
recording session live, to the live sound). Why are your subjective
judgements right while others who disagree with you must be under the
effect of an illusion? Do you not understand that accuracy is always
relative to the observer?

-Emerson Wood

Gary Eickmeier

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May 13, 2001, 12:45:54 AM5/13/01
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emers...@yahoo.com wrote:

> Do you not understand that accuracy is always
> relative to the observer?

Accuracy of what relative to what? You mean like if I ask two people to
stretch their hands apart by their estimate of one foot, they will both
be right? Do you mean if two people estimate the number of marbles in a
jar, they will both be right? Do you mean if two people estimate the
frequency response of a speaker, they will both be right?

Or is there an objective standard for these things?

Gary Eickmeier

Arny Krueger

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May 13, 2001, 4:08:37 AM5/13/01
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"Gary Eickmeier" <geic...@tampabay.rr.com> wrote in message
news:9dl3hu$hp$1...@bourbaki.localdomain...

> emers...@yahoo.com wrote:
>
> > Do you not understand that accuracy is always
> > relative to the observer?
>
> Accuracy of what relative to what? You mean like if I ask two
people to
> stretch their hands apart by their estimate of one foot, they will
both
> be right? Do you mean if two people estimate the number of marbles
in a
> jar, they will both be right? Do you mean if two people estimate
the
> frequency response of a speaker, they will both be right?

I've got an idea. Let's eliminate all objective measurements from
all of science and engineering. How long would our society as we know
it continue on?

> Or is there an objective standard for these things?

There are a variety of relevant objective standards for sound quality
accuracy. Digital audio storage formats are far more accurate than
analog storage formats with reference to all of them.

That sure takes the fun out of "the game", doesn't it?

;-)

Richard D Pierce

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May 13, 2001, 12:24:50 PM5/13/01
to

Let's change the question slightly:

To you, analog recordings generally sound more like "live
music"

You insist that people who claim digital sounds more like
music must be "meter reading, soul-less robots."

Then I have this question:

Why do you trust your own perceptions but insist that the
perceptions of others are illusory?

Now, what's the difference?

You go on to say:

"We all listen to music and make a subjective judgement of its
accuracy (to music in general, or if we've heard the
recording session live, to the live sound)."

No, there are those of us that know the difference bewteen
"accuracy," that is, changing the electrical signal in the least
possible manner, and "preference," which is a matter entirely
apart from accuracy.

You continue:

"Why are your subjective judgements right while others who
disagree with you must be under the effect of an illusion?"

Why are are YOURS, or George Graves, or Harry Lavo's right? They
have insisted, verily, they have DEMANED that they are.

"Do you not understand that accuracy is always relative to the
observer?"

Do you have a dictionary handy? Look up the word "accuracy." Is
there ANY notion of "preference" as part of the definition? No?

If I go out and by a tape measure, and it tells me an 8' piece
of wood is actually 9' 7" long, but the DEALER observes that the
tape measure is "accurate," am I stuck with it because HIS
observation is right, simply because it's his observation?

If the local TV weather droid "observes" the temperature as a
"brisk 92 degrees," and I'm freezing because it's really 36, are
both our observations "right?"

Your notion that accuracy and preference are equivalent is
absurd. We are NOT arguing that others' PREFERENCE is wrong,
not in the least. Please read that, please UNDERSTAND that and
PLAES STOP MISREPRESENTING THAT!

We are simply arguing that their preference is their preference,
and that preference is inviolate, unarguable, and THAT'S THAT.

We are also simply saying that any one person's preference is
VALID FOR THAT PERSON AND THAT PERSON ALONE, and needs no
technicla justification. Further, any attempts at nonsense
pseudo science to elevate an individual's preference above
perference to an universal law is absurd, arrogant and selfish.

--
| Dick Pierce |
| Professional Audio Development |
| 1-781/826-4953 Voice and FAX |
| DPi...@world.std.com |

Harry Lavo

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May 13, 2001, 12:46:45 PM5/13/01
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Richard, I'm afraid you and others have argued a little more than that. You
keep implying that electrical measurement = accuracy, while other's of us
argue that "hearing" is an integrated brain phenenomen that has as yet not
been reduced to a simplistic, measurable quantity. It is your stubborn
refusal to acknowledge that "music as experienced" is not measurable that
keeps those of us who feel "something is rotten in Denmark" back arguing the
case. Most of us don't dispute accuracy when their is an objective measure;
we do dispute "accuracy" when their is no objective measure.

"Richard D Pierce" <world!DPi...@uunet.uu.net> wrote in message
news:9dmcge$ct6$1...@bourbaki.localdomain...

Will Farrell2

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May 13, 2001, 1:45:47 PM5/13/01
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I've wondered this, too...whether, for example, Stewart perceives
when he listens to his own stereo what George hears when he listens
to *his* own...each taking a different route to the same neuro-path.

I've wondered this more about the sense of smell than that of
hearing. Does someone wearing what to me is *way* too much of the
most hideous smell in the world (patchouli, for instance, or Joop),
perceive the same thing I perceive when I smell Eau Sauvage, say, or
Chanel #5?

Maybe the proof, or at least the most logical explanation, of taste
(de gustibus) lies in neuroscience rather than engineering.

Harry Lavo

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May 13, 2001, 1:45:40 PM5/13/01
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Right, Gary, but their is NO objective standard for what is
considered music reproduction that sounds like performed music.
There are of course, objective measurements of lots of physical and
objective properties, but there is as yet no agreement on how these
combine in meaningful ways to the brain to interpret as "great
musical reproduction". So, since their is no absolute measurement
standard, one can only approximate a "scale" by asking people to make
a judgment.

If we had a thousand people listen to an analogue and a digital front
end with reasonably simpatico music on equipment that both camps here
acknowledge as high quality equipment, and in an environment that
both camps agree is a good acoustic environment for home listening,
and then took a vote as to which sounded "most real", we would have
our "measurement". Short of that, we only have measurement of some
things, on the one hand, and a judgment on the other that analog
media and front ends often seem more musically right.

"Gary Eickmeier" <geic...@tampabay.rr.com> wrote in message
news:9dl3hu$hp$1...@bourbaki.localdomain...

Gary Eickmeier

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May 14, 2001, 3:51:44 AM5/14/01
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Will Farrell2 wrote:

> I've wondered this, too...whether, for example, Stewart perceives
> when he listens to his own stereo what George hears when he listens
> to *his* own...each taking a different route to the same neuro-path.
>
> I've wondered this more about the sense of smell than that of
> hearing. Does someone wearing what to me is *way* too much of the
> most hideous smell in the world (patchouli, for instance, or Joop),
> perceive the same thing I perceive when I smell Eau Sauvage, say, or
> Chanel #5?
>
> Maybe the proof, or at least the most logical explanation, of taste
> (de gustibus) lies in neuroscience rather than engineering.

Your emotional responses may differ, because of your life experiences and
associations, but no, people do not experience different senses differently
from each other. For example, if two technicians (or even regular people)
were to adjust your color TV picture, they would both arrive at the same
adjustments. This is because they are adjusting it to look like what real
life looks like to them, and real life does not change in its colors and
shades from person to person. You learn that an apple is "red", grapes are
"purple", the sky is "blue", and so on, and you can duplicate those colors
on screen if the system works.

In audio, flat is flat in frequency response, no matter who is talking about
it. If you have a certain HRTF that is different from your neighbor's, it
matters not a whit, because you will both perceive the live music the same
way, and you would both want to duplicate that in your reproduction. Both
the original and the reproduction will be processed through those same HRTF
functions the same way (unless, of course, you're doing in-ear binaural,
which we don't need to go into here).

We all get different reactions to a Picasso painting, but we would probably
agree more on whether he got the anatomy correct or not.

Gary Eickmeier

Gary Eickmeier

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May 14, 2001, 3:52:07 AM5/14/01
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Harry Lavo wrote:

> Richard, I'm afraid you and others have argued a little more than that. You
> keep implying that electrical measurement = accuracy, while other's of us
> argue that "hearing" is an integrated brain phenenomen that has as yet not
> been reduced to a simplistic, measurable quantity. It is your stubborn
> refusal to acknowledge that "music as experienced" is not measurable that
> keeps those of us who feel "something is rotten in Denmark" back arguing the
> case. Most of us don't dispute accuracy when their is an objective measure;
> we do dispute "accuracy" when their is no objective measure.

As I discussed above in this thread, there is no single measure of "accuracy",
but there are many measurements that you could take or at least talk about when
referring to the live music. Most of them are not employed in hi-fi
reproduction, because there is only a certain distance we can go toward the real
experience, and cost is cost, as they say. So I guess you're both right to a
certain extent.

Gary Eickmeier

Gary Eickmeier

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May 14, 2001, 3:52:28 AM5/14/01
to
Harry Lavo wrote:

> Right, Gary, but their is NO objective standard for what is
> considered music reproduction that sounds like performed music.
> There are of course, objective measurements of lots of physical and
> objective properties, but there is as yet no agreement on how these
> combine in meaningful ways to the brain to interpret as "great
> musical reproduction". So, since their is no absolute measurement
> standard, one can only approximate a "scale" by asking people to make
> a judgment.
>
> If we had a thousand people listen to an analogue and a digital front
> end with reasonably simpatico music on equipment that both camps here
> acknowledge as high quality equipment, and in an environment that
> both camps agree is a good acoustic environment for home listening,
> and then took a vote as to which sounded "most real", we would have
> our "measurement". Short of that, we only have measurement of some
> things, on the one hand, and a judgment on the other that analog
> media and front ends often seem more musically right.

True, there are many measurements we could take on a live music event, and
commonly understood "hi-fi" makes use of very few of them. But if you combine
a study of architectural acoustics with the electronic facts of life, you can
come up with an understanding of why your puny "hi-fi" can never sound quite
like the original. You can take steps to get closer, but it will never go all
the way there, because you cannot recreate all of the sound patterns the same
way unless you go back to the original venue.

I was just commenting on his philosophical point that accuracy is relative.
Obviously not true.

Nor do I think that a good analogue front end should sound that much
different from a digital front end. There may be an overlay of pops or
surface noise, but the "sound" should be the same if EQ'd the same in
recording. No, I think you're barking up the wrong tree if you're looking for
analogue vs digital to make a difference in realism.

The four fundamental areas which I have observed differ between the real
event and our hi-fi are as follows:

1. Physical size. You can't make a small room sound just like a large concert
hall, so I say the bigger the playback room the closer it is to reality (the
greater the realism).

2. Power. You can't duplicate the dynamics of the real thing with cones and
domes.

3. Spatial characteristics. Number one above falls under temporal
characteristics; spatial refers to the incident angles of the total sound
field and the nature of a reverberant field. It is very difficult to
reproduce a full reverberant field with surround speakers, and the frontal
imaging performed by two or three speakers is only an approximation of the
many point sources of sound found in the real thing.

4. Accuracy in the signal domain. This is just the commonly understood
frequency response, freedom from distortions, and low noise in the signal
path from recording to replay. This one has gotten a lot closer with the
advent of digital.

Gary Eickmeier

George Graves

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May 14, 2001, 11:53:28 AM5/14/01
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In article <9dmh8...@news1.newsguy.com>, willfa...@aol.com (Will
Farrell2) wrote:

> >emers...@yahoo.com wrote:
> >
> >> Do you not understand that accuracy is always
> >> relative to the observer?
>
> >Accuracy of what relative to what? You mean like if I ask two people to
> >stretch their hands apart by their estimate of one foot, they will both
> >be right? Do you mean if two people estimate the number of marbles in a
> >jar, they will both be right? Do you mean if two people estimate the
> >frequency response of a speaker, they will both be right?
> >
> >Or is there an objective standard for these things?
> >
> >Gary Eickmeier
>
> I've wondered this, too...whether, for example, Stewart perceives
> when he listens to his own stereo what George hears when he listens
> to *his* own...each taking a different route to the same neuro-path.
>
> I've wondered this more about the sense of smell than that of
> hearing. Does someone wearing what to me is *way* too much of the
> most hideous smell in the world (patchouli, for instance, or Joop),
> perceive the same thing I perceive when I smell Eau Sauvage, say, or
> Chanel #5?

This is an excellent question. I think that human experience tells us
the answer. A case in point. I was alking down the street the other
day with a friend of mine when we both perceived a strange smell. To
me the smell reminded me instantly of rye bread, but there was
something more "chemicall-y' about it. I mentioned to my friend that
the smell reminded me of rye bread and he immediatly said, "Yeah!
That's it, rye bread!" but then he went on to say, "But not exactly
like rye-bread, there is a chemical-like component to the smell."
Obviously we both smelled exactly the same thing and perceived it the
same way. The smell evoked the same memory (rye-bread) from both of
us, its just that I was able to identify the memory quicker than he
could. We also noticed, independently, that the smell had a
chemical-like artificiality to it. We've all had similar incidents
of smell and of sight (smell seems to be the most powerful memory
stimulant in the human pantheon of senses. We can smell an odor that
can instantly transport us to a place in even early childhood that
we haven't thought of for decades.), where we notice the same thing
as others experiencing the same smell, and we have all been in
situations where we have shared a visual experience with someone and
all noted the same things. So, by extrapolation, I think we can
reasonably assume that every healthy human being hears things more or
less the same way too. What is, of course, open to debate is the
amount of information that we glean from a given experience. Someone
trained in art is going to see the same painting that we see and have
exactly the same image in his mind, be he is likely to observe more
in the painting than does the layman. One can train one's senses to
be more observant, I.E. to take the same tactile, aural, olfactory,
and visual input that everyone else has and make that input reveal
more of itself than it would to one who's observational skills in
that sense haven't been trained. A blind person, for instance can run
his fingers over the braille bumps in an elevator car and READ
information from them. A sighted person, doing the same thing will
likely notice no difference at all between any of the symbols formed
by those raised bumps, much less actually read them. I can smell
brandies all day and not notice anything different about any of them,
but a brandy connoseur can tell the brand, grade and often the year
that a fine brandy was put down with nothing more than a sniff. So
why shouldn't hearing be the same? If I find analog more like real
music than is digital, might that not be because I have trained my
ear to ignor analog's weaknesses and zero-in on its strengths? Might
not digital have other strengths that I don't hear because I'm
focused on things that are important to my listening enjoyment, and
that these are things that digital doesn't do as well as analog? And
finally, might not a digiphile do the same? Might he not ignor
digital's weaknesses and focus on digital's strengths (like lack of
surface noise, etc). And might it not also be the case that digital's
strengths are also analog's weaknesses? Just a thought....

> Maybe the proof, or at least the most logical explanation, of taste
> (de gustibus) lies in neuroscience rather than engineering.

It lies in what we have trained our senses (or had our senses
trained) to focus on as being important to the experience.

George Graves

Jean-Pierre Dussault

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May 14, 2001, 11:53:16 AM5/14/01
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Richard D Pierce wrote:

>
>
> Do you have a dictionary handy? Look up the word "accuracy." Is
> there ANY notion of "preference" as part of the definition? No?
>

Accurately measuring an inch, a meter, a SPL is trivial: those are
one dimensional beasts, represented by a single number.

In mathematics, closeness is termed "norm". For instance, in our
usual 3 dimensional space the Euclidean norm is simply the distance
between two points and is expressed as the square root of the sum of
the squared differences of each coordinates between both points
(whew, how could I ever write that?!?!). There are other norms, or
distances: for instance, the Manhattan distance is the length of the
path a taxi has to drive to get from point A to point B, much
different from the "direct" distance from A to B.

In finite dimensional spaces (YES, there exists infinite dimensional
spaces), all norms are "equivalent", that is to say that if a point A
comes closer to a point B gradually, eventually reaching point B, the
distance between both points will approach 0, and this will be true
WHATEVER the norm used to measure the distance. Of course, telling
that [two fixed point are at a distance "d" apart] have no sense if
you don't specify the norm used to define distance.

So, accuracy does not depends on preference since it is simply how
close something is to the "real thing". However, the norm used to
define closeness may change the relative measure. This is subtle, I
agree, and is not really intuitive, even for many scientists.

For our situation, things are even more complicated since a musical
signal is best described as belonging to an infinite dimensional
space. In such spaces, the norm equivalence I mentioned above is no
longer true, and the intuition provided by our usual Euclidean 3
dimensional space is really no more reliable! For instance, a point A
approaching another point B (but never reaching it, becoming as close
as you want) in a certain norm (this means the distance between A and
B in that norm closes down to 0) may well stay well apart from point
B in another norm (the distance between A and B in this other norm
stays say above 1).

Thus, measured accuracy has no reason to be related to perceived
accuracy: the norms underlying the distance measure have simply no
reason to be compatible.

To conclude, accuracy is a fuzzy concept, much useless in our case.
Every listener has a built in norm and estimate accuracy using this
personal norm. Engineers' instruments use yet another norm. Why
should we trust somebody else norm? Of course, preference is yet
another phenomenon that complicates the assessment of high fidelity!

JPD

Richard D Pierce

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May 14, 2001, 11:53:24 AM5/14/01
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In article <9dmdpi$dak$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>,

Harry Lavo <harry...@rcn.com> wrote:
>Richard, I'm afraid you and others have argued a little more than that.

Harry, I'm afraid that whoever charged you all that money for
your reading lessons owes you a serious refund.

>You keep implying that electrical measurement = accuracy, while
>other's of us argue that "hearing" is an integrated brain
>phenenomen that has as yet not been reduced to a simplistic,
>measurable quantity.

When exactly, did I say that, Harry? When, in exactly, did I
imply that, Harry? I have NEVER said, EVER, that it was
reducibale to a simplistic measured quantity. EVER! And I, once
again, object to your gross, obvious and repeated
misrepresentation that I did. I don't want, "you implied," or
any other such nonsense, I want a direct quote now, Harry,
because, in fact, for years I have been saying PRECISELY THE
OPPOSITE.

>It is your stubborn
>refusal to acknowledge that "music as experienced" is not measurable that
>keeps those of us who feel "something is rotten in Denmark" back arguing the
>case.

Harry, it is your stubborn refusal to STOP misrperesenting my
views that is the issue here. You have done it in the past, you
are clearly doing it here. Why? What do you hope to gain by a
dishonest or distorted representations such as this? How does
that serve the discussion?

>Most of us don't dispute accuracy when their is an objective
>measure; we do dispute "accuracy" when their is no objective
>measure.

Sir, you continuously argue that ANY and ALL views contrary to
yours are inherently inferior. And you do so by misrepresenting
the views of, certainly, myself.

Stop it.

emers...@yahoo.com

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May 14, 2001, 11:53:06 AM5/14/01
to
In article <9dmcge$ct6$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>, Richard D Pierce says...

>
>In article <9da17...@news1.newsguy.com>, <emers...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>
>>If you fit the following description:
>>
>>- To you, digital recordings generally sound more like the live feed
>>or "live music"
>>
>>- You insist that people who claim analog sounds more like music must
>>"like the sound of analog distortion"
>>
>>Then I have this question:
>>
>>Why do you trust your own perceptions but insist that the perceptions
>>of others are illusory? We all listen to music and make a subjective
>>judgement of its accuracy (to music in general, or if we've heard the
>>recording session live, to the live sound). Why are your subjective
>>judgements right while others who disagree with you must be under the
>>effect of an illusion? Do you not understand that accuracy is always
>>relative to the observer?
>
>Let's change the question slightly:
>
> To you, analog recordings generally sound more like "live
> music"

Okay.

>
> You insist that people who claim digital sounds more like
> music must be "meter reading, soul-less robots."

But I don't insist that. I'm curious, why would you think that I do
insist that?

>
> Then I have this question:
>
> Why do you trust your own perceptions but insist that the
> perceptions of others are illusory?

I said from my very first post that I don't question anyone else's
choice of digital or analog as closest to live music. However, some
"digiphiles" fit my two criteria above--that is, their subjective
perception of digital is that it is closer to live music, and they
insist that people who like analog like the sound of a distortion.
Do you fit these two criteria? You haven't really said whether you
do or not.

>
>Now, what's the difference?
>
>You go on to say:
>
> "We all listen to music and make a subjective judgement of its
> accuracy (to music in general, or if we've heard the
> recording session live, to the live sound)."
>
>No, there are those of us that know the difference bewteen
>"accuracy," that is, changing the electrical signal in the least
>possible manner, and "preference," which is a matter entirely
>apart from accuracy.

If you think they are entirely apart, then all I can say is we have a
very different understanding of what reproducing music is all about.

Is there no room in your book for comparing the total effect of a
recording to the total effect of live music? Suppose I listen to a
pianist live, then go to the control room, check how easily I can
hear the patterns that made the music, change something in the
recorder, record again, listen again live, listen again to the
recording, and in this way try to create a recording that feels as
close as possible to the original performance? What word would you
use for this if you don't use the word "accurate?"

>
>You continue:
>
> "Why are your subjective judgements right while others who
> disagree with you must be under the effect of an illusion?"
>
>Why are are YOURS, or George Graves, or Harry Lavo's right? They
>have insisted, verily, they have DEMANED that they are.

But I haven't, which apparently you haven't noticed.

>
> "Do you not understand that accuracy is always relative to the
> observer?"
>
>Do you have a dictionary handy? Look up the word "accuracy." Is
>there ANY notion of "preference" as part of the definition? No?

"Accuracy of music" is relative to the person who listens to the
music. I know of no useful definition of music that doesn't involve
a listening being.

Do you ever design some piece of equipment to have great specs, but
listen to it and it sounds bad or unlike the live feed? Has this
never happened to you?

>
>If I go out and by a tape measure, and it tells me an 8' piece
>of wood is actually 9' 7" long, but the DEALER observes that the
>tape measure is "accurate," am I stuck with it because HIS
>observation is right, simply because it's his observation?
>
>If the local TV weather droid "observes" the temperature as a
>"brisk 92 degrees," and I'm freezing because it's really 36, are
>both our observations "right?"

I don't understand how you can give these examples and even think
they are relevant. These examples involve objectively measureable
phenomenon, whereas there is no objective standard for how a signal
will be perceived by a human brain.

>
>Your notion that accuracy and preference are equivalent is
>absurd.

That would be pretty absurd if I were actually arguing that. You are
showing signs of all-or-nothing thinking. You state that they are
entirely apart, then you accuse me of believing they are equivalent.

>We are NOT arguing that others' PREFERENCE is wrong,
>not in the least. Please read that, please UNDERSTAND that and
>PLAES STOP MISREPRESENTING THAT!

I never thought you were arguing that. I still don't know if you fit
my two criteria.
I'm taking issue with the people who state that analog-lovers "like
the sound of a distortion," and asking how they would know this.

-Emerson

Kirk Lindstrom

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May 14, 2001, 11:53:10 AM5/14/01
to
Hi Dick
Haven't checked into this forum in maybe 6 years
Glad to see you are still holding down the fort and I am not
surprised to read some still believe in Santa!
Kirk (used to work at HWP) out

>
> We are also simply saying that any one person's preference is
> VALID FOR THAT PERSON AND THAT PERSON ALONE, and needs no
> technicla justification. Further, any attempts at nonsense
> pseudo science to elevate an individual's preference above
> perference to an universal law is absurd, arrogant and selfish.

--
best regards
Kirk Lindstrom
Editor: "Kirk's Investing & Personal Finance" @ Suite101.com
http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/investing
and "Kirk's Online Newsletter"
http://www.suite101.com/files/topics/270/files/WhatLetter2Buy.html

Richard D Pierce

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May 14, 2001, 5:27:46 PM5/14/01
to
In article <9dov1...@news1.newsguy.com>, <emers...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>I'm taking issue with the people who state that analog-lovers "like
>the sound of a distortion," and asking how they would know this.

Okay, let's examine the basis of the claim:

1. An LP reproduction system consists of a electromechnical
system. It's input is electrical, i.e., the electrical signal
from the microphone, from the master tape, wherever. It's
output is electrical, from the phone preamp. In between you
have the necessary preprocessing, equalization, compression,
mixinfg, the mastering lathe, the stamper, the LP, the
phono cartridge and the RIAA preamp equalization.

2. There ARE elements of the LP reproduction chain that ARE
nonlinear: non-linear in the amplitude, frequency, phase
time domains or combinations of two or more domains.

3. Any of these non-linear elements produce distortion.

Points #2 and #3 are not disputable points: these distortions
exist, they are large enough to be measured, they are present in
all LPs to one extent or another. Whether they are benign or
detrimental is NOT the discussion right now.

4. As a result of these non-linearites and the distortion they
produce, the electrical output of the LP reproduction chain
differs significantly from the electrical input to the
reproduction chain.

Point #4 is NOT a judgement: it is a statement of easily
verifiable fact. If you dispute this, this constitutes, given
the enormous body of technical klnowledge on the medium, and
extraordinary claim. If you dispute this, you are required to
provide extraordinary evidence to the effect that the LP
reproduction change has no effect on the electrical signal it is
designed to store and deliver.

In the absence of such extraordinary proof, it is safe to say
that the LP reproduction system, because it changes the
electrical signal, thus distorts the signal.

5. A significant number of people like, even prefer, the sound
of music reproduced through the LP reproduction chain.

Now, taking points 1 through 4, and point 5, we arrive at a
reasonable conclusion that a significant number of people like
the sound of LP reproduction of music, distorted as it is.

Now, does that mean that these people are warped? Confused?
Deluded? Deaf? Wrong?

No, absolutely not. There is NO judgement inherent or implied in
the logic.

If the LP system, with its attendant departure from linear
operation, which is technically called "distortion," sounds good
to some set of the listening population, then it's reasonable to
suggest that since the departure from non-linearity in the
amplitude, frequency, time and phase domains is the MAJOR
difference in the ability of LP systems to delivert the
electrical signal constituting musical reproduction systems,
these departures sound good to significant numbers of people.

Another term for "nonlinearities which sound good" is:

"euphonic distortions"

To some, these distortions "sound good."

These distortions are, thus, "euphonic."

Does that mean that those that prefer those "euphonic
distortions" are warped? Confused? Deluded? Deaf? Wrong?

Absolutely not.

Why do YOU care why you like what you like?

Just do not claim that LP playback systems are free of
distortions. They absolutely ARE NOT!

And if you prefer an LP playback systems, you prefer it along
with, or even because of, its nonlinearity. It's, well,
distortion.

It's distortion is a technically verifiable, physical
fact. If you care to claim otherwise, be prepared to have to
meet a huge burden of proof.

emers...@yahoo.com

unread,
May 14, 2001, 5:27:17 PM5/14/01
to
In article <9dov1...@news1.newsguy.com>, Jean-Pierre Dussault says...

Even if a musical signal belongs to a finite dimensional space, I
think your point about the norm affecting the relative closeness of
points still applies. For example, which point is closer to the
origin? (1, 2 ), or (2, 1) ? If we use simple distance or Manhattan
distance they are the same. But if my perception of closeness is
based on the square of the difference in the x dimension plus the
difference in the y dimension, and your perception of distance is the
straight difference in the x dimension plus the square of the
difference in the y dimension, then we will have different
perceptions of their closeness to the origin.

Of course at this point I see Dick or Stewart saying "the REAL
distance is whatever, the OBJECTIVE difference is.." But in audio,
there is no real or objective standard for how music is perceived.
There may be some objective measurements, but those don't necessarily
correspond with how music is perceived by every listener.

Some equipment measures very well and is also perceived to be
accurate by some people. And that's fine. But that doesn't mean
that everybody else "prefers distortion."

>Thus, measured accuracy has no reason to be related to perceived
>accuracy: the norms underlying the distance measure have simply no
>reason to be compatible.

I think that part of the problem is that Dick, Arny, and Stewart
etc. don't trust people to distinguish between judgements of
accuracy and judgements of preference. I don't want to speak for
them---is that what you think? I would agree that *some* people
would be unable to distinguish these but some people can.

In other words, if some of us think recorder A sounds closer to live
music as compared to recorder B, then I think a good starting
assumption is that A is doing something better than B---that it is
closer in one of the dimensions. Especially if those people who make
the judgement are highly developed musicians.

As a composer, I enjoy music that skillfully avoids monotony. I'm
extremely sensitive to monotony. For example, if a performer uses
exactly the same length of pause between each phrase, I will pick up
on it. So it seems an extraordinary claim that I would "like analog
distortion" considering that the distortion would color the sound in
the same way on everything. The truth is that the merits of analog,
for me, pass the test of time brilliantly---records keep sounding
realistic, and details in the music like contrast of tone colors keep
coming through clearly. In fact, most of my CD's sound monotonous
for having a sense of haze over the music or a sense of distance
between me and the music that affects every moment of the music.

-Emerson

c.l. hardin

unread,
May 14, 2001, 5:27:09 PM5/14/01
to
Gary Eickmeier wrote:

> Your emotional responses may differ, because of your life experiences and
> associations, but no, people do not experience different senses differently
> from each other. For example, if two technicians (or even regular people)
> were to adjust your color TV picture, they would both arrive at the same
> adjustments. This is because they are adjusting it to look like what real
> life looks like to them, and real life does not change in its colors and
> shades from person to person. You learn that an apple is "red", grapes are
> "purple", the sky is "blue", and so on, and you can duplicate those colors
> on screen if the system works.

There are in fact small but measurable differences in the color
matches of normal observers when presented with the same stimuli. The
use of broad color categories such as "red," on which all normal
observers can agree, tends to obscure these small variations. As
psychophysicists well know, individual differences in matching are to
be found in all perceptual modalities, including hearing. However,
they are not likely to be of much importance in accounting for the
individual preferences for vinyl or digital media in the reproduction
of sound.

Larry Hardin
(member of the Intersociety Color Council)

Harry Lavo

unread,
May 14, 2001, 9:49:12 PM5/14/01
to
"Richard D Pierce" <world!DPi...@uunet.uu.net> wrote in message
news:9dpik...@news2.newsguy.com...

Well, I'm glad we can agree on that, at least! :-)

I see two problems with this line of reasoning, Dick:

1) You continue to avoid the fact that these "distortions" may in fact make
two channel LP a more reasonable facimilie of live mustic than the so-called
"undistorted" cd sound you favor. And if large numbers of people agree with
this in direct comparison...then this defines musical accuracy even if it
doesn't define electrical accuracy. You continue to describe choice as
"preference"; when it comes to musical accuracy, there is no other way to
define it. I have argued that since last fall; Emerson has put it very
eloquently in another thread in the last 24 hours. There is no objective
measure of "musicality". You SURMISE people are hearing the "distortions"
you have identified, and "PREFER" the sound of that distortion. This may be
true. Or they may be hearing another combination of characteristics
altogether, or reacting to the absence of digital artifacts. You don't
know. But if a significant portion of the population when exposed to the
two side by side "prefer" one medium over another because it sounds more
like music (especially if that medium is "objectively inferior" on the most
commonly used measurements), then it is definitely worth taking note
of...scientifically...and exploring, rather than dismissing it as "already
known".

2) You continue to ignore the fact that CD reproduction has its own set of
limitations and distortions which many people find interfere to one degree
or another with their ability to "get into" the music. If that ain't
distortion, then I don't know what is.

> Why do YOU care why you like what you like?

Because a thoughtful audiophile has a natural curiousity about why he hears
what he hears and prefers. And he doesn't like being told (when it may NOT
be true) that it is only because "he (or she) prefers hearing distortion"
or he (or she) would otherwise prefer this wonderful, objectively more
accurate system called the 16 bit CD.

>
> Just do not claim that LP playback systems are free of
> distortions. They absolutely ARE NOT!

The argument has been that they may be judged more accurate to the sound of
live music, rather than that they are free of electrical distortions. And
that comparison is always mad vis a vis CD playback systems, which also have
their distortions.

>
> And if you prefer an LP playback systems, you prefer it along
> with, or even because of, its nonlinearity. It's, well,
> distortion.

Of perhaps its a combination of euphonic distortions and the absence of
digital artifacts that many people find prevent them from "getting into the
music" emotionally. Or maybe just the latter perhaps?

>
> It's distortion is a technically verifiable, physical
> fact. If you care to claim otherwise, be prepared to have to
> meet a huge burden of proof.

That music is different from sound and recognized and integrated by the
brain in some pretty primal ways, including emotional triggers, is also
scientific fact. And it is an arena far removed from conventional
electronic measurements and not at all thoroughly understood. If you care
to claim otherwise, be prepared to have to meet a huge burden of proof. :-)

> --
> | Dick Pierce |
> | Professional Audio Development |
> | 1-781/826-4953 Voice and FAX |
> | DPi...@world.std.com |

Harry Lavo
Recordist, Archivist, Audiophile

emers...@yahoo.com

unread,
May 14, 2001, 9:50:51 PM5/14/01
to
In article <9dpik...@news2.newsguy.com>, Richard D Pierce says...

>
>
>Just do not claim that LP playback systems are free of
>distortions. They absolutely ARE NOT!
>

I definitely don't claim that LP playback is free of distortion.

>And if you prefer an LP playback systems, you prefer it along
>with, or even because of, its nonlinearity. It's, well,
>distortion.

Well, part of my interest is in the question of whether I prefer it
*along with* the distortion
or *because of* the distortion, or both.

My favorite signal is a live microphone feed. I am not a recording
engineer so I have limited experience with this, but I have listened
to live microphone feeds several times. I heard things like
"liveliness" and "intimite presence."

My second favorite signal is off a good record. I hear a bit of this
"liveliness" and "initimite presence."

My third favorite signal is off a good CD. I've heard at most the tiniest
bit of liveliness in the very best CD's. But the average CD is way below
the average LP.

So my conclusion is that a live feed is the least distorted signal.
My assumption (which I would need a lot of experience as a recording
engineer to verify) is that both LP and CD are distorted, with CD having
more damaging distortions.

This is not simply an analog-vs-digital argument. Remember, I'm comparing
the average CD to the average LP. They each went through a number of
steps in recording and mastering. Who knows what went wrong along the way?
Or maybe in the digital age, different microphones are being used.

Even if some factor other than digital recorders is what makes the
difference, my arguments to follow are still relevant. What's relevant
is that some people are happy listening to classical music on CD, and
I'm not. Something in the average CD bothers me and other analog-philes
but not other people.

So we have some musical event E. We listen to it live and over a live
microphone feed. We record it with recorder A and
recorder D. Recorder A has much more measureable distortion. Recorder
D has much less. Does it follow that the playback from recorder D will
sound more life-like than the playback from recorder A?

Depends on what patterns the listener uses to perceive liveliness or beauty
or whatever the listener cares about.

I can make this point more easily with a visual analogy.

Suppose that we want to reproduce painting P with camera/print process A and
camera/print process D.

First we look at painting P directly. It is beautiful. Why? Well, I
haven't researched this area, but I feel that a critical aspect of beauty
is that different parts of the painting feel analogous to each other. Say
there's a curvy line. Some ripple near the bottom looks analogous to
some ripple near the top. Our peripheral vision picks this up.

Now both print process A and print process D distort the picture. Let's say
that print process A introduces some spatial mapping, like looking through
glasses that have a slight waviness in the surface. The waviness is low
in frequency, maybe 3 ripples across the side of the painting, but high
in magnitude. The ripples are very obvious in the reproduced image.

Print process D also introduces spatial ripples, but they are high in
frequency, maybe 100 ripples across the edge of the painting, but very low
in magnitude. The distortion in process D is not obvious at all.

So we look at the results of process A and process D. Suppose that A still
looks beautiful but D doesn't. If this happened, my guess would be that
process A preserved more of the relationship between the wavy line at the
top and the wavy line at the bottom, so our eye can still see them as
analogous. They changed a lot, but not in a way that made the analogy
between them invisible. Process D introduced the tiniest bit of distortion,
but it was enough to kill the perceived analogy. Where our eye expects to
see two similar curves triggering similar patterns in the retina, the patterns
that get triggered are quite different because of this tiny ripple of
distortion that is not analogous in each place.

I could extend this example to music, if anyone cares. Hopefully you get
my point. One recorder could add more distortion overall, but also
preserve certain patterns or relationships in the sound.

It is my theory at this point, that the analog process is better than the
digital process, *on average*, at preserving the patterns in sound that
I find meaningful.

-Emerson

Gary Eickmeier

unread,
May 15, 2001, 1:22:25 AM5/15/01
to
George Graves wrote:

> So
> why shouldn't hearing be the same? If I find analog more like real
> music than is digital, might that not be because I have trained my
> ear to ignor analog's weaknesses and zero-in on its strengths? Might
> not digital have other strengths that I don't hear because I'm
> focused on things that are important to my listening enjoyment, and
> that these are things that digital doesn't do as well as analog? And
> finally, might not a digiphile do the same? Might he not ignor
> digital's weaknesses and focus on digital's strengths (like lack of
> surface noise, etc). And might it not also be the case that digital's
> strengths are also analog's weaknesses? Just a thought....
>

> It lies in what we have trained our senses (or had our senses
> trained) to focus on as being important to the experience.

George,

I understand your point, and what I am about to say may or may not make any
sense, but I just want you to reflect for a moment on the fact that even with
a digital storage medium like CD, what you are hearing is not "digital" but
analogue, the digital having been converted to analogue before output to the
amplifier.

Now, some may say that that is a really dumb observation, but I am just saying
that there should be no difference in a signal that has been digitized and
then re-converted to analogue, unless the theory doesn't work. In other words,
if you take a waveform and record it to tape, or LP, or convert it to digital
and back again, all of the waveforms should look exactly like the original
unless something is very wrong with the process. So we never listen to
"digital" as such, only to analogue, but without the noise, distortion, and
freq response variations associated with LP or tape. So I don't see how you
could get "more" out of listening to "analogue" because the advantages are all
in one direction, that of the digital storage media.

Does that make any sense?

Gary Eickmeier

Gary Eickmeier

unread,
May 15, 2001, 1:23:10 AM5/15/01
to
emers...@yahoo.com wrote:

> So my conclusion is that a live feed is the least distorted signal.
> My assumption (which I would need a lot of experience as a recording
> engineer to verify) is that both LP and CD are distorted, with CD having
> more damaging distortions.

Emerson, both you and Harry have now said that CD is distorted, or has audible
"digital artifacts." Could you please describe or define the distortions or
artifacts that you hear with digital?

Gary Eickmeier

Gary Eickmeier

unread,
May 15, 2001, 1:23:30 AM5/15/01
to
emers...@yahoo.com wrote:

> Of course at this point I see Dick or Stewart saying "the REAL
> distance is whatever, the OBJECTIVE difference is.." But in audio,
> there is no real or objective standard for how music is perceived.
> There may be some objective measurements, but those don't necessarily
> correspond with how music is perceived by every listener.

What do you think of Harry Pearson's standard of "the absolute sound" - the
sound of live, unamplified music in the original acoustic space? That, of
course, is not a measurement of any sort, but it is a standard for what we
are trying to reproduce.

Gary Eickmeier

emers...@yahoo.com

unread,
May 15, 2001, 3:16:02 AM5/15/01
to
In article <9dq1uc$hi$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>, Harry Lavo says...

>
>Well, I'm glad we can agree on that, at least! :-)
>
>I see two problems with this line of reasoning, Dick:
>
>1) You continue to avoid the fact that these "distortions" may in fact make
>two channel LP a more reasonable facimilie of live mustic than the so-called
>"undistorted" cd sound you favor. And if large numbers of people agree with
>this in direct comparison...then this defines musical accuracy even if it
>doesn't define electrical accuracy.

Yes, my visual analogy for this situation is: suppose we transmit a fax
by a process that blurs it considerably. Then we apply a second process:
edge sharpening. The second process is additional distortion yet might
make the words clearer.

The analogy to music is that the relationships among sound events is the
"message" of the music, and perhaps some type of distortion acts to enhance
the audibility of these relationships.

However, that doesn't explain why every analog-phile I know likes the
sound of a live feed even better than the sound of an analog recording.
If there is someone out there who has heard the sound become more lifelike
AFTER being recorded and played back, please let me know.

It might be that analog has some detrimental distortion and also this
"enhancing" type of distortion, and the one distortion takes away while
the other gives back some, but not quite as much as was taken away.

Note that "enhancing" distortion, if it exists and we have no proof that
it does, would be unlike "euphonic distortion" as usually presented because
it would not become monotonous over time, it would probably enhance contrasts
in the music, and it would not interfere with hearing the relationships
among musical events. Contrast that to something like artificial reverb,
which can sound pleasant, but would probably become monotonous when applied
to every recording, would make things sound more the same, and would
obscure low-level musical detail.

I don't even know if such a thing (enhancing distortion) is possible.
That would be a neat trick of nature if it existed.

>You continue to describe choice as
>"preference"; when it comes to musical accuracy, there is no other way to
>define it.

Yes, a similar point is that I "prefer" the sound of live music the best,
so of course I'm probably going to "prefer" the most accurate recording.
However, if I were the engineer and I were recording a Steinway and
microphone A made it sound like a Yamaha while microphone B made
it sound like a Steinway, I would choose microphone B even if I happened
to like the sound of Yamahas better. And it would be my duty to the
musician to do this because her music would undoubtedly be initimately
related to the sound qualities of the piano and would come through more
clearly with the correct sound. On the other hand, if microphone B
also made her phrasing sound incompetant because it wasn't reproducing
the decay of the notes properly, then we'd have a judgement call.

-Emerson

Harry Lavo

unread,
May 15, 2001, 11:23:38 AM5/15/01
to
Gary -

I think this is the correct standard. The problem comes in applying it.

This is what I was suggesting in another post, when I suggested that doing a
comparison test among large groups of people, listening in an environment
and with equipment agreed by all involved to be able to 'sound musical" and
accurate, would be the only way to solve the dilemma of what sounded "more
real".

If say among a thousand people, 70% (just for example) favor vinyl as
sounding most like real music in direct comparison to 16 bit CD digital,
that WOULD be a "measurement" of how close to the remembered "absolute
sound" of music the human mind perceived, measured across enough people for
it to reflect a human reality and not just one person's opinion. And
presumably a medium that "won" 85-15 would be even more "accurate" (compared
to remember live music) and one that "tied" only 50-50 would be "equally
accurate" (compared to remembered live music). Regardless of what the
electrical measurements suggested.

One of the reasons some of us are persistent in raising the analogue issue
is the antidotal evidence that when presented with something approximating
this situation, many of us do find people making an overwhelming choice for
analog. And methodological disputes aside, this happens broadly enough to
raise questions. By contrast, I really haven't heard any "counter"
antidotes where people have set up such a comparison and had CD win.

"Gary Eickmeier" <geic...@tampabay.rr.com> wrote in message

news:9dqeg6$hb$1...@bourbaki.localdomain...

Harry Lavo

unread,
May 15, 2001, 11:25:32 AM5/15/01
to
Gary, I have on several occasions here described the effects I hear from CD
recording or playback systems.

One effect is a loss of "dimensionality" to the highs, along with an
unnatural "sharpness" that just doesn't sound like real music. The music
sounds flat and "reproduced". When you apply a "fix" to reduce the jitter
(I've experienced it both with "monster rings" within a one box system and
by a "jitter-buster" inserted between a two-box system) this problem is
greatly ameliorated or even eliminated.

Another is a "grey scrim" that hovers over the reproduction, making the
sound "mechanical" and "lifeless".

May I hasten to add that I managed to get rid of both of these obvious
effects in my system via careful attention to connection and de-jittering.
Once eliminated, I found I could accept 16 bit CD as a musical medium with
no obvious artifacts....just subtraction. In direct comparison to my analog
system the digital system still just doesn't sound as "real" somehow. And
not just to me, but to others as well. It is this "mystery" of how the
human brain "hears" that we have focused on in this discussion.

"Gary Eickmeier" <geic...@tampabay.rr.com> wrote in message

news:9dqefe$gj$1...@bourbaki.localdomain...

Jean-Pierre Dussault

unread,
May 15, 2001, 11:57:21 AM5/15/01
to
Richard D Pierce wrote:

......

>
> Just do not claim that LP playback systems are free of
> distortions. They absolutely ARE NOT!
>

I could not agree more. As a matter of fact, NO playback system is
free of distortions! That's life! A distorsion free system is an
abstraction of the human mind.

JPD

emers...@yahoo.com

unread,
May 15, 2001, 11:57:51 AM5/15/01
to
In article <9dqefe$gj$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>, Gary Eickmeier says...

Comparing digital to a live feed or analog, what I hear in the
average CD or digitally recorded LP is

(the last time I heard a live feed was a few years ago, so I'm most
familiar with analog as the alternative)

- sounds are weird instead of beautiful---harpsichord sounds
"squidgy," violins sound "edgy," brass sounds "splatty"

- sense of distance between me and music, the same sort of loss you
would get from placing the microphones far away (although the tonal
balance usually does not suggest a far miking)

- lack of startle factor --- when Rostropovich really nails a note in
my EMI CD, I know darn well that in person I would practically jump
backwards, whereas on CD I feel little --- startle factor on LP is
very high in general (I don't have this record though)

- lack of excitement on fast passages

- missing beauty causes the music to fall down -- a lot of Mozart
sounds boring or simplistic, trills sound stupid, etc. --- on records
and in person Mozart proves to be very strong and solid

I don't have a large collection of recordings--- about 250 CD's and
just starting to collect LP's this year, have 60 LP's so far---so it
is possible that I've only heard bad CD's. However I have a couple
dozen audiophile CD's from Sheffield, Reference Recordings,
Performance Recordings, etc. and they have the sense of distance and
the weird non-beautiful sounds, although nowhere near as bad as the
typical CD.

I'm not claiming that digital "has" to have these flaws. I've heard
good reports from people I trust that digital is getting very good
these days, at least when they play back digital on the same machine
that recorded it. I wonder how good the CD's made from these tapes
sound. If they really preserve the merits of a live feed, then I am
sure I would like them as much as analog, or better. But none of my
250 CD's sound like a live feed.

-Emerson

emers...@yahoo.com

unread,
May 15, 2001, 11:57:55 AM5/15/01
to
In article <9dqeg6$hb$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>, Gary Eickmeier says...

That is my standard actually---how it feels to listen in person.
Since we are changing the sound field just by the act of reducing the
music to two channels, never mind what happens to the signal on the
way, all audio is a type of distortion. So mechanisms of perception
come into play. The deviations from the standard will be perceived
as detrimental or benign, and that perception will be different with
different observers. That's what I mean by "no objective standard."
Obviously if we could recreate the sound field of the original
perfectly, that would be the undisputable objective standard.

-Emerson

emers...@yahoo.com

unread,
May 15, 2001, 11:57:25 AM5/15/01
to
In article <9dpik...@news2.newsguy.com>, Richard D Pierce says...

>
>In article <9dov1...@news1.newsguy.com>, <emers...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>I'm taking issue with the people who state that analog-lovers "like
>>the sound of a distortion," and asking how they would know this.

[quoted text deleted -- deb]

>If the LP system, with its attendant departure from linear
>operation, which is technically called "distortion," sounds good
>to some set of the listening population, then it's reasonable to
>suggest that since the departure from non-linearity in the
>amplitude, frequency, time and phase domains is the MAJOR
>difference in the ability of LP systems to delivert the
>electrical signal constituting musical reproduction systems,
>these departures sound good to significant numbers of people.

One other point:

Since I like a live feed better than LP, it is also quite possible
that I don't like the distortions of LP but just find them less
damaging to the music than the distortions of a typical CD.

>
>Another term for "nonlinearities which sound good" is:
>
> "euphonic distortions"
>
>To some, these distortions "sound good."
>
>These distortions are, thus, "euphonic."

I think it is possible that some people like some distortions. I'm
not saying that is impossible. For myself, I would want to do more
research. See my other post where I talk about monotony.

-Emerson

George Graves

unread,
May 15, 2001, 2:54:00 PM5/15/01
to
In article <9dqee4$f0$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>, Gary Eickmeier
<geic...@tampabay.rr.com> wrote:

> George Graves wrote:
>
> > So
> > why shouldn't hearing be the same? If I find analog more like real
> > music than is digital, might that not be because I have trained my
> > ear to ignor analog's weaknesses and zero-in on its strengths? Might
> > not digital have other strengths that I don't hear because I'm
> > focused on things that are important to my listening enjoyment, and
> > that these are things that digital doesn't do as well as analog? And
> > finally, might not a digiphile do the same? Might he not ignor
> > digital's weaknesses and focus on digital's strengths (like lack of
> > surface noise, etc). And might it not also be the case that digital's
> > strengths are also analog's weaknesses? Just a thought....
> >
> > It lies in what we have trained our senses (or had our senses
> > trained) to focus on as being important to the experience.
>
> George,
>
> I understand your point, and what I am about to say may or may not
> make any sense, but I just want you to reflect for a moment on the
> fact that even with a digital storage medium like CD, what you are
> hearing is not "digital" but analogue, the digital having been
> converted to analogue before output to the amplifier.

Why are you championing the incredibly obvious? OF COURSE its analog!
It was analog before it was converted to digital and its analog after
it emerges from the R & L audio jacks on the back of one's CD player.
Its the conversion PROCESS, or more accurately, the conversion
STANDARDS that produce the artifacts vinyl afficianados find so
objectionable.

> Now, some may say that that is a really dumb observation, but I am
> just saying that there should be no difference in a signal that has
> been digitized and then re-converted to analogue, unless the theory
> doesn't work. In other words, if you take a waveform and record it
> to tape, or LP, or convert it to digital and back again, all of the
> waveforms should look exactly like the original unless something is
> very wrong with the process.

Well, it DOESN'T. If what you say were correct,then one could use
four bits and sample at 32 KHz, and it would still be a perfect
replica to 15 KHz, but I can assure you that such a digital
representation is even further from being an exact replica of the
original waveform than is current CD. The process isn't flawed, as I
said above, but the chosen standard is simply insuffucient in the
same way that a 4-bit or an 8-bit system is insufficient. If CD had
32-bits, used logarthmic quantization rather than linear and had a
192 KHz sampling rate, I suspect that I would never have to listen to
LPs again (assuming that everything I want became available on this
idealized new format, that is). The current CD standards were chosen
because in the late seventies, 16-bit linear and 44.1KHz was WHAT
THEY COULD DO. If you read some of the papers publised by the Philips
people about the CD standard, even they realized that the system was
not good enough for music and was intended only as a stop-gap system
until something better could be implemented.

> So we never listen to
> "digital" as such, only to analogue, but without the noise,
> distortion, and freq response variations associated with LP or tape.
> So I don't see how you could get "more" out of listening to
> "analogue" because the advantages are all in one direction, that of
> the digital storage media.
>
> Does that make any sense?

It might if the conversion standards were adequate to the task, my
opinion is that they are not. I.E., digital PER SE isn't bad, but the
current 16-bit/44.1KHz IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR MUSIC (IMHO).

Michael R. Clements

unread,
May 15, 2001, 2:53:36 PM5/15/01
to
"Gary Eickmeier" <geic...@tampabay.rr.com> wrote in message
news:9dqee4$f0$1...@bourbaki.localdomain...

> In other words,
> if you take a waveform and record it to tape, or LP, or convert it
> to digital and back again, all of the waveforms should look exactly
> like the original unless something is very wrong with the process.
> So we never listen to "digital" as such, only to analogue, but
> without the noise, distortion, and freq response variations
> associated with LP or tape. So I don't see how you could get "more"
> out of listening to "analogue" because the advantages are all in
> one direction, that of the digital storage media.
>
> Does that make any sense?
>
> Gary Eickmeier

It does make sense. However, distortion can be introduced when
transforming back and forth between the digital and analog domain.
For example, the filters that are essential to cut out frequencies
above the Nyquist limit can introduce distortion below their
passband. Also, the clock signal of the D/A chip can leak into the
audio output. I'm not saying that these are the cause of the issues
that people raise with digital audio. I'm just pointing out that the
process is not as easy as it sounds. Both analog and digital
reproduction have mathematical and engineering limits that present
difficult problems to solve. Neither is perfect, but both can provide
resolution high enough that the limits are in the way the music is
recorded -- the room, the microphones and their placement, etc.

Howard Ferstler

unread,
May 15, 2001, 2:53:28 PM5/15/01
to
emers...@yahoo.com wrote:
>
> In article <9dq1uc$hi$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>, Harry Lavo says...
> >
> >Well, I'm glad we can agree on that, at least! :-)
> >
> >I see two problems with this line of reasoning, Dick:
> >
> >1) You continue to avoid the fact that these "distortions" may in fact make
> >two channel LP a more reasonable facimilie of live mustic than the so-called
> >"undistorted" cd sound you favor. And if large numbers of people agree with
> >this in direct comparison...then this defines musical accuracy even if it
> >doesn't define electrical accuracy.

> Yes, my visual analogy for this situation is: suppose we transmit a fax
> by a process that blurs it considerably. Then we apply a second process:
> edge sharpening. The second process is additional distortion yet might
> make the words clearer.

But the CD does not blur the original nearly as much as the
LP does. After all, the LP has easily verifiable problems
(surface noise, wow, flutter, inner-groove distortion,
wear-and-tear related distortions), whereas the so-called
distortions you claim the CD has are not pinpointable at all
as being digitally related. Rather, they are the result of a
more accurate reproduction of the original master.

So, why not start with the cleaner original signal that we
get with the CD and then use home-based signal processors
(surround-sound synthesizers, special speakers or speaker
placements) to carefully add euphonic colorations to each
program, as required?

> The analogy to music is that the relationships among sound events is the
> "message" of the music, and perhaps some type of distortion acts to enhance
> the audibility of these relationships.

This involves preference, and nothing more. I prefer the
sound of the CD; you prefer the LP. OK, that is about all
that can be said, with the exception that the LP exhibits
clearly defined negative artifacts (surface noise, wow,
flutter, inner-groove distortion) that can be easily
demonstrated. The supposed negative artifacts the CD has are
not quite to easy to demonstrate, I think, and usually if
they can be pointed out it will validate the ability of the
CD to subjectively reproduce everything, including the
negative artifacts, that was on the master tape.



> It might be that analog has some detrimental distortion and also this
> "enhancing" type of distortion, and the one distortion takes away while
> the other gives back some, but not quite as much as was taken away.

This is speculation, and reduces down to preference. That is
it. You prefer the euphonic colorations of the LP and are
not bothered by problems with surface noise, wow, flutter,
etc. I do not prefer the euphonic colorations, and am
severely annoyed by the negative artifacts I hear with the
LP. Preference is all we can go by, unless we want to start
comparing measurements and genuinely verifiable claims - and
in that case the CD mops up the floor with the LP.

Howard Ferstler

jim andrews

unread,
May 15, 2001, 2:53:08 PM5/15/01
to
In article <9dq1uc$hi$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>, harry...@rcn.com says...

> I see two problems with this line of reasoning, Dick:
>
> 1) You continue to avoid the fact that these "distortions" may in
> fact make two channel LP a more reasonable facimilie of live mustic
> than the so-called "undistorted" cd sound you favor.

I don't have a big problem with this statement, at least
if you are claiming it's true *for some people*. What I
find interesting is that many folks seem to be missing what
may be a far more salient point, and that would be that
there appears to be some pretty good evidence here that
the whole damn recording + reproduction process is flawed.

There can be no more of an amateur psychologist than me.
However, I would at least *like* to believe that both sides
in this debate would agree on the ultimate goal, that being
to reproduce the sound of live music in one's living room.
I would also like to believe that both sides would recognize
the dismal job either LP or CD do in this regard, if they
could actually *hear* the live music going on for comparison.
(I own a recording studio, and although I'm certainly no
George Massenberg, I can tell that there is a staggering
difference between my "pretty good" digital recordings and
the live music going on in the tracking room.) So, if at
least a significant subset of those who care think LP gets
"closer to the sound of live music", and it is verifiable
that an LP playback chain has more distortions and a higher
level of those distortions than a CD playback chain, IF WE
ARE TALKING ABOUT DEVIATION FROM THE ORIGINAL SIGNAL COMING
OUT OF THE MICROPHONES, then it seems to me we either have a
subset that's fooling itself or that some or all of the
process is screwed up. I don't know what to blame -- it
could be the microphone choices, the number of microphones
used, the electronics that in turn amplify the microphone
signals, or quite likely a two-channel archival and delivery
format, but something ain't working too well, AND IT ISN'T
THE DIGITAL STORAGE FORMAT THAT'S THE PROBLEM. CD is in
fact storing the information quite nicely -- it just may be
storing the wrong (or insufficient) information.

jim andrews

jj, curmudgeon and tiring philalethist

unread,
May 15, 2001, 2:53:40 PM5/15/01
to
In article <9dq1uc$hi$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>,

Harry Lavo <harry...@rcn.com> wrote:
>1) You continue to avoid the fact that these "distortions" may in fact make
>two channel LP a more reasonable facimilie of live mustic than the so-called
>"undistorted" cd sound you favor.

TO SOME PEOPLE this is true, Harry.

> And if large numbers of people agree with
>this in direct comparison...

No, "large numbers" is not a good choice of words here. "Small
Minority" might even be too strong a statement.

>then this defines musical accuracy even if it
>doesn't define electrical accuracy.

Harry, you're deifying your preference here. What is "accurate"
to you in the preference domain is simply NOT accurate to someone
else.

>You continue to describe choice as "preference";

Because that's what it is, plain and simple.

>when it comes to musical accuracy, there is no other way to
>define it.

"Musical accuracy" is a misnomer to start with, accuracy is an
analytic term, and music is evaluated by preference.

>2) You continue to ignore the fact that CD reproduction has its own set of
>limitations and distortions which many people find interfere to one degree
>or another with their ability to "get into" the music. If that ain't
>distortion, then I don't know what is.

AND JUST WHAT ARE THOSE? Bandwidth limiting and a very VERY low,
unobtrusive noise floor. Are you proposing more?

>Of perhaps its a combination of euphonic distortions and the absence of
>digital artifacts that many people find prevent them from "getting into the
>music" emotionally. Or maybe just the latter perhaps?

WHAT digital artifacts?

The onus here is on you to explain and demonstrate them, ANALYTICIALLY.
--
Copyright j...@research.att.com 2001, all rights reserved, except transmission
by USENET and like facilities granted. This notice must be included. Any
use by a provider charging in any way for the IP represented in and by this
article and any inclusion in print or other media are specifically prohibited.

jj, curmudgeon and tiring philalethist

unread,
May 15, 2001, 2:53:32 PM5/15/01
to
In article <9dpij...@news2.newsguy.com>, <emers...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>Even if a musical signal belongs to a finite dimensional space, I
>think your point about the norm affecting the relative closeness of
>points still applies.

What relevance has this? One can develop many kinds of norm, but
exactly why do they have meaning?

How does this relate to preference? (Hint: It doesn't for the
most part, if at all.)

Given that, why are you arguing with Dick P. about norms?

>But if my perception of closeness is
>based on the square of the difference in the x dimension plus the
>difference in the y dimension, and your perception of distance is the
>straight difference in the x dimension plus the square of the
>difference in the y dimension, then we will have different
>perceptions of their closeness to the origin.

But if, but if, but if! Yes, I realize you chose a fairly ridiculous
case for example, but "what if the moon were made of green cheese"
is all I see here.

>Of course at this point I see Dick or Stewart saying "the REAL
>distance is whatever, the OBJECTIVE difference is.."

Why, pray tell, do you keep building straw men. The LMS norm
is THE common, usually accepted distance metric. Dick is pointing
out that it has little if anything to do with preference, but that
it IS a good mathematical measure of ACCURACY, in the analytic
sense.

You can introduce all the ridiculous norms you want, but you'll
have to explain why you discount the LMS norm. When you suggest
that your perception obeys some other norm, you're going to have
to show me extensive evidence of your extensive testing of that
assertion.

"But if" simply doesn't cut it.

>But in audio,
>there is no real or objective standard for how music is perceived.

Oh, really? What is a DBT comparing two different bits of music,
using ABC/hr and asking for the "difference"? It's a real test,
it has real meaning, and it results in an objective measurement
of how the subjects percieve the music. (Note, this holds JUST as
well for different composition as it does for differently coded
or differently processed versions of the same performance!)

>There may be some objective measurements, but those don't necessarily
>correspond with how music is perceived by every listener.

Yes, Dick just pointed that out, so why are you going on like
he didn't say that?

>Some equipment measures very well and is also perceived to be
>accurate by some people. And that's fine. But that doesn't mean
>that everybody else "prefers distortion."

If I find that someone likes a given analytic inaccuracy,
then yes, they DO prefer distortion. Now that is not a
bad thing, understand, but your statement is simply absurd.
By the usual, well-selected, meaningful analytic measures,
a lot of people prefer distortion, btw, and there is
no reason to assume that this is a bad thing.

>I think that part of the problem is that Dick, Arny, and Stewart
>etc. don't trust people to distinguish between judgements of
>accuracy and judgements of preference.

Given the history of some of the people here, that's a very good
assumption to work on. We've seen a long history here of
people confusing "accuracy" in the analytic sense with their
preference.

>In other words, if some of us think recorder A sounds closer to live
>music as compared to recorder B, then I think a good starting
>assumption is that A is doing something better than B---that it is
>closer in one of the dimensions.

It's closer in your perception. You can't assume or propose anything
else without some analytic evidence. The literature is full of
examples of something "sounding closer" after some processing,
linear or not.

>Especially if those people who make
>the judgement are highly developed musicians.

Musicians judge music, not technology, in general. They may
decide that some technology sounds more musical (but they
don't tend to agree on WHAT, btw), but this again refers directly
back my previous paragraph.

Preference is preference. You can NOT go any farther than that
with preference. Preference does not imply accuracy, or even
desirability outside that individual.

LP's are a wonderful example here. It is indisputable that they
are analytically flawed, however some of those flaws do a good
job of making up for some of what we lose when we reduce soundfields
to two channels, and some people like that. The list of distortions,
etc, is not short, either, and the way that they act euphonically
at low levels is not in dispute, either.

jj, curmudgeon and tiring philalethist

unread,
May 15, 2001, 2:53:44 PM5/15/01
to
In article <9dq21g$kc$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>, <emers...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>It is my theory at this point, that the analog process is better than the
>digital process, *on average*, at preserving the patterns in sound that
>I find meaningful.

It is indisputable which system (CD) preserves more "information",
in any sense.

The fact that LP's euphonic distortions create a good illusion is fine,
but your theory is either untestable (if based solely on your
instantaneous perception) or disproven (if based on the idea that
LP preserves the "patterns" better CD in an analytic sense).

Jay Beattie

unread,
May 15, 2001, 7:10:47 PM5/15/01
to
Gary Eickmeier wrote in message
<9dqeg6$hb$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>...
>emers...@yahoo.com wrote:

<snip>

>What do you think of Harry Pearson's standard of
"the absolute sound" - the
>sound of live, unamplified music in the original
acoustic space? That, of
>course, is not a measurement of any sort, but it
is a standard for what we
>are trying to reproduce.

That apparently is not the goal in the recording
industry either -- even the LP recording industry.
Just look at the latest Analog Corner -- a
direct-to-disc recording with six microphones on a
drum kit? Why put the snare and the tom-tom in
separate states? Emerson's comment about the
Yamaha and the Steinway is also telling since
retaining proper timbre with well-chosen
microphones hardly mitigates the fact that there
are so many microphones and that pianos are
usually rendered way too big and too close. There
is too much editorial comment in the recording
process for any recording to sound all that real,
especially in two channel.

Also, you guys must listen to some pretty bad CDs.
Try the RR recording of "Pictures at an
Exhibition" (sure, it's a war horse) on good
equipment. It does a good job of capturing
ambience, timbre and scale, and the perspective is
better than my usually seat at the symphony by
about $25 a ticket (and no coughing or cramped
seating). -- Jay Beattie.

emers...@yahoo.com

unread,
May 15, 2001, 8:47:29 PM5/15/01
to
In article <9drtv...@news1.newsguy.com>, jj, curmudgeon and tiring
philalethist says...

>
>In article <9dpij...@news2.newsguy.com>, <emers...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>>In other words, if some of us think recorder A sounds closer to live
>>music as compared to recorder B, then I think a good starting
>>assumption is that A is doing something better than B---that it is
>>closer in one of the dimensions.
>
>It's closer in your perception. You can't assume or propose anything
>else without some analytic evidence. The literature is full of
>examples of something "sounding closer" after some processing,
>linear or not.

So could you give me some references? I mentioned from my first post
that I was interested in this.

>
>LP's are a wonderful example here. It is indisputable that they
>are analytically flawed, however some of those flaws do a good
>job of making up for some of what we lose when we reduce soundfields
>to two channels, and some people like that.

Can you elaborate? What distortion are you talking about? How
does it make up what we lose?

And: are you aware that every analog-phile I know prefers the sound
of a direct feed OVER an LP? How does this fit with the idea that
analog is preferred just for having euphonic distortions?

-Emerson

Harry Lavo

unread,
May 15, 2001, 11:57:18 PM5/15/01
to
----- Original Message -----
From: "jj, curmudgeon and tiring philalethist" <j...@research.att.com>
Newsgroups: rec.audio.high-end
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 2:53 PM
Subject: Re: Question for digiphiles

> In article <9dq1uc$hi$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>,
> Harry Lavo <harry...@rcn.com> wrote:
> >1) You continue to avoid the fact that these "distortions" may in fact
make
> >two channel LP a more reasonable facimilie of live mustic than the
so-called
> >"undistorted" cd sound you favor.
>
> TO SOME PEOPLE this is true, Harry.

The problem is, JJ, we don't know to HOW many, since this kind of comparison
has not been done on a large scale.

>
> > And if large numbers of people agree with
> >this in direct comparison...
>
> No, "large numbers" is not a good choice of words here. "Small
> Minority" might even be too strong a statement.

I think you look past the word "if" here, JJ. I was postulating, not
declaring.

>
> >then this defines musical accuracy even if it
> >doesn't define electrical accuracy.
>
> Harry, you're deifying your preference here. What is "accurate"
> to you in the preference domain is simply NOT accurate to someone
> else.

I'm talking "preference" across a large number of people. And again, this
is the second part of a postulate, not a declaration.


>
> >You continue to describe choice as "preference";
>

> Because that's what it is, plain and simple.
>

You don't see a difference between "which of these two do you prefer?" and
"which of these, in your opinion, sounds more like live music....like the
musicians were here playing".

> >when it comes to musical accuracy, there is no other way to
> >define it.
>
> "Musical accuracy" is a misnomer to start with, accuracy is an
> analytic term, and music is evaluated by preference.
>

I take it then you are not a suscriber to "the abso!ute sound" magazine?
:-)

> >2) You continue to ignore the fact that CD reproduction has its own set
of
> >limitations and distortions which many people find interfere to one
degree
> >or another with their ability to "get into" the music. If that ain't
> >distortion, then I don't know what is.
>
> AND JUST WHAT ARE THOSE? Bandwidth limiting and a very VERY low,
> unobtrusive noise floor. Are you proposing more?
>

Read my other posts. Yes bandwidth limiting. And jitter, jitter, and more
jitter. And perhaps that very unobtrusive noise floor is more obtrusive
than we think when it contains digital artifacts that rarely occur in
nature.

> >Of perhaps its a combination of euphonic distortions and the absence of
> >digital artifacts that many people find prevent them from "getting into
the
> >music" emotionally. Or maybe just the latter perhaps?
>
> WHAT digital artifacts?

See above.

>
> The onus here is on you to explain and demonstrate them, ANALYTICIALLY.
>

No I think the onus is on me, and others who hear them, to try to describe
them and their effect on the pleasures of listening to recorded music, and
let the engineers figure out exactly what they are and how to minimize or
eliminate them. It was this kind of feedback from the audiophile press in
the mid- and late- '80's that helped focus the industry on jitter, and it
has a made a huge difference in the quality of CD sound. But some remnants
still exits. However, if we suggest we can still hear them or at least
perceive them as a "distancing" us emotionally from the music, we
"messengers" instead get attacked.

> Copyright j...@research.att.com 2001, all rights reserved, except
transmission
> by USENET and like facilities granted. This notice must be included.
Any
> use by a provider charging in any way for the IP represented in and by
this
> article and any inclusion in print or other media are specifically
prohibited.

Curmudgeonly yours, ;-)

Harry Lavo

Richard D Pierce

unread,
May 16, 2001, 2:08:35 AM5/16/01
to
In article <9dq1uc$hi$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>,
Harry Lavo <harry...@rcn.com> wrote:
>
>1) You continue to avoid the fact that these "distortions" may in fact make
>two channel LP a more reasonable facimilie of live mustic than the so-called
>"undistorted" cd sound you favor.

Okay, Harry, let's stop right here, becasue you, in one
sentence, demonstrate what the problem is. It is YOUR problem,
so let's look at it.

First, I DID NOT avoid anything: indeed, I embraced exactly
the point you made.

Secondly, you state that I prefer "undistorted CD sound."

Harry, that's a lie. An outright untruth, and yet another
example of your rampant misrepresentation of my words.

1. I NEVER stated a preference for CD, did I?

(hint: no, I did not.)

2. I NEVER stated that CD was undistorted, did I?

(hint, no I did not.)

You have done this over and obver and over again, and I am
frankly tired of you painting a picture of me that simply does
not exist simply as your strawman to knock down, for what
reason, I do not care,

Please desist.

Harry Lavo

unread,
May 16, 2001, 12:30:02 PM5/16/01
to
"jj, curmudgeon and tiring philalethist" <j...@research.att.com> wrote in
message news:9drtv...@news1.newsguy.com...

> In article <9dpij...@news2.newsguy.com>, <emers...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >Even if a musical signal belongs to a finite dimensional space, I
> >think your point about the norm affecting the relative closeness of
> >points still applies.
>
> What relevance has this? One can develop many kinds of norm, but
> exactly why do they have meaning?
>
> How does this relate to preference? (Hint: It doesn't for the
> most part, if at all.)
>
> Given that, why are you arguing with Dick P. about norms?
>
> >But if my perception of closeness is
> >based on the square of the difference in the x dimension plus the
> >difference in the y dimension, and your perception of distance is the
> >straight difference in the x dimension plus the square of the
> >difference in the y dimension, then we will have different
> >perceptions of their closeness to the origin.
>
> But if, but if, but if! Yes, I realize you chose a fairly ridiculous
> case for example, but "what if the moon were made of green cheese"
> is all I see here.
>

<snip>

JJ., you of all people I wouldn't have expected to miss his point,
much less deride him for it. He is talking about multidimensional
scaling and "fit"...in "x" dimensions. This is a standard
statistical practice nowadays. I used it 30 years ago in some
pioneering psychologically-oriented marketing research, working with
Professor Yoram Wind of the University of Pennsylavania. And he is
absolutely right.....you can have a perfect "fit" on two dimensions
and still miss the optimal point by a wide margin in such an
integration.

This was the point I was making last fall about my belief that the
brain uses such a multidimensional optimization model to determine
what "sounds real" and that it is even more sophisticated because it
can adjust the model dynamically to fit the circumstances and
perceived and remembered sound. For example, it adjusts its criteria
of what sounds "real" for sounds coming from another room versus
sounds coming from within the same room But of course, you already
know this, so why are you being so hard on him?

Harry

emers...@yahoo.com

unread,
May 16, 2001, 12:29:57 PM5/16/01
to
In article <9drtv...@news1.newsguy.com>, jj, curmudgeon and tiring
philalethist says...

>
>In article <9dq21g$kc$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>, <emers...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>It is my theory at this point, that the analog process is better than the
>>digital process, *on average*, at preserving the patterns in sound that
>>I find meaningful.
>
>It is indisputable which system (CD) preserves more "information",
>in any sense.
>
>The fact that LP's euphonic distortions create a good illusion is fine,
>but your theory is either untestable (if based solely on your
>instantaneous perception) or disproven (if based on the idea that
>LP preserves the "patterns" better CD in an analytic sense).

How can you claim digital is better at preserving the relationships
if you don't even know what those relationships are?

And did you notice that a live feed is better than LP? How does that
fit with your theory?

-Emerson

emers...@yahoo.com

unread,
May 16, 2001, 12:29:53 PM5/16/01
to
In article <9drtv...@news1.newsguy.com>, jj, curmudgeon and tiring
philalethist says...
>

>>Especially if those people who make


>>the judgement are highly developed musicians.
>
>Musicians judge music, not technology, in general.

Something struck me as odd about this statement. I just figured it
out: the sound that comes out of technology IS music.

The fact that you can make this statement shows we have a very
different concept of audio reproduction. Most likely, your
research is good at informing you about audio reproduction
as you view it, but with this kind of deep paradigm division
between us I don't find your knowledge to be of much use to me.

-Emerson

jj, curmudgeon and tiring philalethist

unread,
May 16, 2001, 12:30:12 PM5/16/01
to
In article <9dsims$i1$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>, <emers...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>And: are you aware that every analog-phile I know prefers the sound
>of a direct feed OVER an LP?

I don't believe that. I don't believe most analog-philes have HEARD
a direct feed.

>How does this fit with the idea that
>analog is preferred just for having euphonic distortions?

Since the issue has been reduced to testing a digital signal vs. a
direct feed, and the direct feed has not been distinguishable in a
good DBT, how do we deal with the contradiction you have introduced?

jj, curmudgeon and tiring philalethist

unread,
May 16, 2001, 12:30:08 PM5/16/01
to
In article <9drjl...@news1.newsguy.com>, <emers...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>Since I like a live feed better than LP, it is also quite possible
>that I don't like the distortions of LP but just find them less
>damaging to the music than the distortions of a typical CD.

And, since people have compared a live feed to a digitized live
feed and failed to hear the difference in a well-constructed test,
I'd say that you have some work to do here.

Now, modern pop CD's are compressed to death, and even some classical
compressed more than reason would indicate (i.e. any), but that's
not a fault of digital.

The onus is on you, demonstrate the "distortions of a typical CD".
Explain how that relates to your prior argument about all digitized
material.

Arny Krueger

unread,
May 16, 2001, 4:43:43 PM5/16/01
to
"Harry Lavo" <harry...@rcn.com> wrote in message
news:9dq1uc$hi$1...@bourbaki.localdomain...

>
> 1) You continue to avoid the fact that these "distortions" may in
fact make
> two channel LP a more reasonable facsimile of live music than the

so-called
> "undistorted" cd sound you favor.

What is the more reasonable facsimile of a steak. A steak with salt
or a steak without salt?

The "salt" would be the so-called "euphonic distortions" that any
reasonable person knows that the LP process adds to music.

I think that's the essence of the question here.

I happen to have been raised on a very low salt diet, so to me, a
steak without salt tastes more like a steak to me.

I was raised on live music not recordings, and digital sounds more
like live music to me.

>And if large numbers of people agree with

> this in direct comparison...then this defines musical accuracy even


if it
> doesn't define electrical accuracy.

The numbers game belongs to digital. All LP sales amount to being
about 0.5% of CD sales, and that includes the "turntablist" market
which has nothing to do with high fidelity. Indeed, the "turntablist"
market has to do with systematically mechanically abusing vinyl
until it quickly becomes unplayable in the conventional sense.

>You continue to describe choice as

> "preference"; when it comes to musical accuracy, there is no other
way to
> define it.

I have a box over here labeled "LP process". I can hear its effects
on sound quality in a DBT quite easily. Some prefer it, but I don't.

I have a box over here labeled "CD process". It is difficult or
impossible to hear its effects on sound quality in a DBT. Just about
everybody prefers it, and that includes me.

>I have argued that since last fall; Emerson has put it very
> eloquently in another thread in the last 24 hours. There is no
objective
> measure of "musicality".

In order to justify their adherence to a technology that beyond a
doubt technically corrupts audio signals, a tiny noisy minority of
people, many of whom are actually of an age where serious losses of
hearing acuity are the rule, have seized on a word that has no
objective measure, and made it into the measure of the technology
they wish to adhere to and promote.

> You SURMISE people are hearing the "distortions"
> you have identified, and "PREFER" the sound of that distortion.

That the distortions in the vinyl process exist is an objective fact,
there can be no doubt.

That the distortions in the vinyl process are audible is an objective
fact, there can be no doubt.

That a certain tiny noisy minority of people prefer hearing those
distortions with their music seems to be an objective fact, about
which there can be no doubt.

> This may be
> true. Or they may be hearing another combination of
characteristics
> altogether, or reacting to the absence of digital artifacts.

It is well known that digital artifacts in good digital systems are
difficult or impossible to hear.

There is a listening challenge posted at
http://www.pcabx.com/product/cardd_deluxe/index.htm involving
re-digitizing musical signals 20 times.

Now if you did the same 20 re-recordings using the best examples of
either of the well-known analog program storage technologies (LP or
tape) the results would be easy to identify, if not totally ruinous
to sound quality. IME music is pretty well ruined after being
re-recorded 10-12 times by analog means.

Yet, I have no reports of reliable detection of the audible effects
of this demonstration that involves re-digitizing musical signals 20
times.

>You don't know.

On the one hand I have something that causes clearly audible
degradation of sound quality, whether judged by ear or judged by
technical tests.

On the other hand I have something that causes little or no audible
degradation of sound quality, when judged by ear.

By significantly upgrading our measurement technology (by digital
means!), we can still measure the miniscule degradation caused by
good digital equipment.

Now what is it that I don't know?

> But if a significant portion of the population when exposed to the
> two side by side "prefer" one medium over another because it sounds
more
> like music (especially if that medium is "objectively inferior" on
the most
> commonly used measurements), then it is definitely worth taking
note
> of...scientifically...and exploring, rather than dismissing it as
"already
> known".

I don't think that 0.5% of the population is that significant,
particularly when our statistics can't differentiate between
audiophiles and turntablists.

> 2) You continue to ignore the fact that CD reproduction has its own
set of
> limitations and distortions which many people find interfere to one
degree
> or another with their ability to "get into" the music.

On the one hand we have anecdotes that generally don't stand up to
scientific scrutiny.

On the other hand we have the most robust scientific proof that we
can contrive in the world of audio technology.

Again, what is it that I don't know?

> If that ain't distortion, then I don't know what is.

It could easily be an illusion. It does have this interesting habit
of disappearing when placed under scientific scrutiny.

> > Why do YOU care why you like what you like?

> Because a thoughtful audiophile has a natural curiosity about why
he hears
> what he hears and prefers.

It looks like about 99.5% of all music lovers in the US have
abandoned buying new vinyl recordings. A big chunk of those who still
do buy vinyl, buy it to "scratch" it in dance clubs, not listen to
its innate beauty introspectively.

> And he doesn't like being told (when it may NOT
> be true) that it is only because "he (or she) prefers hearing
distortion"
> or he (or she) would otherwise prefer this wonderful, objectively
more
> accurate system called the 16 bit CD.

The world of science is a very harsh world. Science seems to care
very little about what we like being told.

> > Just do not claim that LP playback systems are free of
> > distortions. They absolutely ARE NOT!

> The argument has been that they may be judged more accurate to the
sound of
> live music, rather than that they are free of electrical
distortions.

Nobody but 0.5% of music lovers in the US seem to be demonstrating
that belief with their pocket books, and of that 0.5% a large
proportion aren't the least bit interested in sonic accuracy.

> And
> that comparison is always made vis a vis CD playback systems, which
also have
> their distortions.

An old technology whose distortions remain difficult or impossible
for just about any adult music lover to reliably hear.

> > And if you prefer an LP playback systems, you prefer it along
> > with, or even because of, its nonlinearity. It's, well,
> > distortion.

> Of perhaps its a combination of euphonic distortions and the
absence of
> digital artifacts that many people find prevent them from "getting
into the
> music" emotionally. Or maybe just the latter perhaps?

LPs are like buggy whips. For those people who prefer to ride in
buggys, buggy whips are still very real. Differences in the err,
stimulating properties of buggy whips are very important to that tiny
segment of our society that still ride around in horse-drawn buggies.
Just visit the Amish!

> > It's distortion is a technically verifiable, physical
> > fact. If you care to claim otherwise, be prepared to have to
> > meet a huge burden of proof.

> That music is different from sound and recognized and integrated by
the
> brain in some pretty primal ways, including emotional triggers, is
also
> scientific fact.

The facts are that good digital is audibly transparent, and that
99.5% of all recordings that are currently sold in the US are
digital.

>And it is an arena far removed from conventional
> electronic measurements and not at all thoroughly understood.

It seems to be understood well enough by the 99.5% or more of all
music lovers who DON't buy vinyl because they don't find it to be
advantageous to their love of music.

>If you care to claim otherwise, be prepared to have to meet a huge
burden of proof. :-)

The proof seems to be overwhelming and convincing in favor of digital
audio.

Howard Ferstler

unread,
May 16, 2001, 4:44:20 PM5/16/01
to
Harry Lavo wrote:
>
> "Richard D Pierce" <world!DPi...@uunet.uu.net> wrote in message
> news:9dpik...@news2.newsguy.com...

> > Does that mean that those that prefer those "euphonic
> > distortions" are warped? Confused? Deluded? Deaf? Wrong?
> >
> > Absolutely not.



> Well, I'm glad we can agree on that, at least! :-)
>

> I see two problems with this line of reasoning, Dick:
>

> 1) You continue to avoid the fact that these "distortions" may in fact make

> two channel LP a more reasonable facimilie of live mustic than the so-called


> "undistorted" cd sound you favor.

I believe that the assorted phase and frequency-response
anomalies that the LP exhibits can result in a sort of
spacious, floaty effect out in front, at least with some
kinds of speakers, in some kinds of rooms, and at certain
listening positions. Some people equate this with greater
sonic realism. I do not, and I believe that most other
people who listen carefully do not, also.

Any limitations the more electrically accurate compact disc
might exhibit by comparison is a problem with the way the
engineer produced his master tapes. His problem is that
accuracy is his standard, and he gets that better with the
CD than he does with the LP, in spite of the ersatz
embellishments the LP delivers.

> And if large numbers of people agree with
> this in direct comparison...then this defines musical accuracy even if it
> doesn't define electrical accuracy.

I do not believe at all that "large numbers of people agree"
with what you say at all. If they did, the LP would be
cleaning the compact disc's clock, instead of the other way
around.

To be more up to date, the CD is not really cleaning the LP
record's clock. The LP record has been technologically and
economically obliterated by the CD. The clock-cleaning job
happened some time back. The battle is over and the
battlefield is not a national monument.

> You continue to describe choice as
> "preference"; when it comes to musical accuracy, there is no other way to

> define it. I have argued that since last fall; Emerson has put it very


> eloquently in another thread in the last 24 hours. There is no objective
> measure of "musicality".

No, there probably is not, although two things are clear, at
least to me. First, your opinion of "musicality" is no more
valid than the opinions of a lot of other people who prefer
the compact disc. Second, true, live-music "musicality"
requires more than two channels, which puts both the CD and
the LP into positions of inferiority, if we are talking
about the ability to better simulate a live-music
experience.

> You SURMISE people are hearing the "distortions"

> you have identified, and "PREFER" the sound of that distortion. This may be


> true. Or they may be hearing another combination of characteristics
> altogether, or reacting to the absence of digital artifacts.

What digital artifacts? It has been shown that the digital
signal that exists on the CD is much closer to the master
tape than what we get with the LP. So, if there are any
"artifacts" of any kind that are audible, they belong to the
LP and not the CD. Think of surface noise, wow, flutter,
etc. Those are artifacts that you can sink your teeth into.

> You don't
> know. But if a significant portion of the population when exposed to the


> two side by side "prefer" one medium over another because it sounds more
> like music (especially if that medium is "objectively inferior" on the most
> commonly used measurements), then it is definitely worth taking note
> of...scientifically...and exploring, rather than dismissing it as "already
> known".

You say "significant portion of the population." What is
significant in the context of record sales and music
appreciation? Certainly, if we are talking about total
sales, the LP and its supporters are anything but
significant. (This tends to make me wonder why this debate
is taking place at all.) And if we are talking about clearly
audible negative artifacts (continuous surface noise, more
obnoxious surface defects like pops and ticks, distortion
during loud passages, distortion on the inner grooves,
limited deep-bass response, wow, and flutter), the LP is
easily and demonstrably inferior to the CD. Indeed, the only
thing you can say in favor of the LP is that it ads euphonic
colorations that some people think sound more realistic than
the clearly evident, cleaner sound we get from the CD.
However, a large body of people would disagree about the
benefits of those colorations.



> 2) You continue to ignore the fact that CD reproduction has its own set of
> limitations and distortions which many people find interfere to one degree
> or another with their ability to "get into" the music.

You are saying that less distortion and fewer negative
artifacts are some kind of limitation?

> If that ain't
> distortion, then I don't know what is.

Reality has been turned on its head: less distortion has
suddenly become more distortion.

> > Why do YOU care why you like what you like?

> Because a thoughtful audiophile has a natural curiousity about why he hears
> what he hears and prefers. And he doesn't like being told (when it may NOT
> be true)

Even if it is true? Note that nobody here (at least not me)
is denying that certain euphonic colorations might at times
be pleasant to experience. Heck, I add that kind of stuff in
all the time when I listen to two-channel material, although
I do so by synthesizing a center and surround channels.
However, the fact is that the CD does a better job of
reproducing the original master than the LP can. That gives
the user a better starting point than what he would get with
the LP, which applies its unique brand of euphonic
colorations continually, and with no way to adjust the
effect.

> > Just do not claim that LP playback systems are free of
> > distortions. They absolutely ARE NOT!

> The argument has been that they may be judged more accurate to the sound of
> live music, rather than that they are free of electrical distortions.

Well, there are those out there for whom the CD is a much
better reproducer of live music than the LP, and I am not
just talking about teenagers who purchase CDs because they
are easy to play around with. In my opinion, properly done
compact discs, mastered by first-class engineers, do a
considerably better job of simulating the frontal soundstage
than the LP. Remember, if you copy the output of a CD to an
LP (by means of the cutting lathe), the LP copy will not
sound like the CD. It will add those euphonic colorations
that supposedly enhance your sense of playback realism.
However, if you make a CD-R copy of an LP, the CD-R will
sound the same as the LP. The CD can then generate those
euphonic colorations, too, and the copy will even include
the surface noise, wow and flutter, and assorted other
distortions that are inherent with the LP.

> And
> that comparison is always mad vis a vis CD playback systems, which also have
> their distortions.

Distortions that are but a fraction of what we get with the
LP system.

> > And if you prefer an LP playback systems, you prefer it along
> > with, or even because of, its nonlinearity. It's, well,
> > distortion.

> Of perhaps its a combination of euphonic distortions and the absence of
> digital artifacts that many people find prevent them from "getting into the
> music" emotionally.

What digital artifacts? The system has very low levels of
distortion. Certainly, it has no surface noise, inner-groove
distortion, wow, flutter, etc. I consider those artifacts to
be much more obnoxious than anything the CD can deliver.

> > It's distortion is a technically verifiable, physical
> > fact. If you care to claim otherwise, be prepared to have to
> > meet a huge burden of proof.

> That music is different from sound and recognized and integrated by the
> brain in some pretty primal ways, including emotional triggers, is also
> scientific fact.

I do not think that symphonic music or classical music, or
even modern rock music is particularly primal. Our very
distant ancestors probably produced music by hammering on
hollow logs or blowing through reeds. Modern musical sounds
are way, way more formal and probably less primal by a long
shot.

More importantly, to say that the LP somehow clicks better
with our primal nature than the compact disc and works
better with our "emotional triggers" is certainly
speculative at best. There is no way to document that. It
may work for you, but it does not work for me and it does
not work for a lot of other people, either.

> And it is an arena far removed from conventional
> electronic measurements and not at all thoroughly understood.

It still boils down you preferences. You like the euphonic
colorations the LP delivers, and a lot of other people do
not, and they outnumber you by a wide margin. That is about
it.

Howard Ferstler

jj, curmudgeon and tiring philalethist

unread,
May 16, 2001, 4:11:14 PM5/16/01
to
In article <9du9u...@news2.newsguy.com>, <emers...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>In article <9drtv...@news1.newsguy.com>, jj, curmudgeon and tiring
>philalethist says...

>>>Especially if those people who make
>>>the judgement are highly developed musicians.

>>Musicians judge music, not technology, in general.

>Something struck me as odd about this statement. I just figured it
>out: the sound that comes out of technology IS music.

Yes? And? They judge the whole result in the sense of music.
How is this odd? Technology, technique, the lot, all are judged
as MUSIC.

I think you're laying some of your own assumptions about researchers
in the area on me.

jj, curmudgeon and tiring philalethist

unread,
May 16, 2001, 4:11:44 PM5/16/01
to
>How can you claim digital is better at preserving the relationships
>if you don't even know what those relationships are?

I would suggest that you study human hearing and human hearing
sensitivity for a while, and then you will find that the
study of human hearing restricts such "relationships" to a
rather smallish set of considerations, from the waveform
point of view.

Please do not project your own limitations on me.

>And did you notice that a live feed is better than LP? How does that
>fit with your theory?

I don't accept that statement, having run live feed vs. digital
experiments myself, and to put it bluntly, having had the listener
not be able to recognize one from the other. Think about THAT
in terms of your proposal, please.

jj, curmudgeon and tiring philalethist

unread,
May 16, 2001, 4:10:32 PM5/16/01
to
In article <9dstqm$f2$1...@bourbaki.localdomain>,

Harry Lavo <harry...@rcn.com> wrote:
>> >1) You continue to avoid the fact that these "distortions" may in fact
>make
>> >two channel LP a more reasonable facimilie of live mustic than the
>so-called
>> >"undistorted" cd sound you favor.

>> TO SOME PEOPLE this is true, Harry.

>The problem is, JJ, we don't know to HOW many, since this kind of comparison
>has not been done on a large scale.

Actually, we have a good idea when we look at how many people
use turntables and how many use CD players. Yes, there are other
factors involved, but we can get some idea of the percentages.

>> Harry, you're deifying your preference here. What is "accurate"
>> to you in the preference domain is simply NOT accurate to someone
>> else.

>I'm talking "preference" across a large number of people. And again, this
>is the second part of a postulate, not a declaration.

The numbers I'm aware of simply destroy your postulate, sorry.

>You don't see a difference between "which of these two do you prefer?" and
>"which of these, in your opinion, sounds more like live music....like the
>musicians were here playing".

They are both preference. There IS no difference in 2-channel sound.
Stereo 2-channel sound is so incredibly lossy that there is no chance
of being able to "sound like the original", so what we have is
differing illusions, and which one you like is PREFERENCE, only
preference, and nothing but preference. There's nothing bad about
preference, now, note.

>I take it then you are not a suscriber to "the abso!ute sound" magazine?
>:-)

Why?

>> AND JUST WHAT ARE THOSE? Bandwidth limiting and a very VERY low,
>> unobtrusive noise floor. Are you proposing more?

>Read my other posts. Yes bandwidth limiting. And jitter, jitter, and more
>jitter.

Get a cheap single-box player and you won't have any jitter to speak
of, of course, you'll have rotten output analog electronics :(

>And perhaps that very unobtrusive noise floor is more obtrusive
>than we think when it contains digital artifacts that rarely occur in
>nature.

WHAT are these "digital artifacts"? Do you know what dithering is?
Do you understand what it does?

>No I think the onus is on me, and others who hear them, to try to describe
>them and their effect on the pleasures of listening to recorded music, and
>let the engineers figure out exactly what they are and how to minimize or
>eliminate them.

What you refuse to admit when you say this is that engineers have,
a few times, added some of the LP distortions to CD's, and that
seems to "remove" at least some of the problems. Most of
this work is not, unfortunately, published, people don't seem to
regard it as a first-line research item.

>It was this kind of feedback from the audiophile press in
>the mid- and late- '80's that helped focus the industry on jitter, and it
>has a made a huge difference in the quality of CD sound.

I've seen this huge difference claimed. I've also run DBT's between
early and late CD players. I fail to find the huge difference, too,
in these tests, although I do find some really interesting analog
"oopses" in some of the newer CD players, especially some of the
"better" ones. Interesting, that.
--

jj, curmudgeon and tiring philalethist

unread,
May 16, 2001, 4:12:49 PM5/16/01
to
In article <9du9u...@news2.newsguy.com>,

Harry Lavo <harry...@rcn.com> wrote:
>JJ., you of all people I wouldn't have expected to miss his point,
>much less deride him for it.

No, I didn't miss his point.

>He is talking about multidimensional scaling and "fit"...in "x" dimensions.

Yes, I know that. I've used INDSCAL, SINDSCAL, and a few other
beasts over the years, as well as worked informally with
Barbara McDermott to separate out kinds of distortion at least
once.



>This is a standard
>statistical practice nowadays.

And it has NO, repeat NO relevance to the subject he was addressing.

>This was the point I was making last fall about my belief that the
>brain uses such a multidimensional optimization model to determine
>what "sounds real" and that it is even more sophisticated because it
>can adjust the model dynamically to fit the circumstances and
>perceived and remembered sound.

HOWEVER the brain can only work on what the auditory system gets
INTO the brain. That's where this whole truckload loses its breaks
on the downhill, Harry.

The pressure at each eardrum is a single-valued function (in terms
of its practical effect) of pressure over time, Harry. When I start
evaluating things, I start there, and work from there. It's very
useful, limiting one's variables.

C. Leeds

unread,
May 16, 2001, 4:15:06 PM5/16/01
to
Howard Ferstler wrote:

> ...the LP exhibits


> clearly defined negative artifacts (surface noise, wow,
> flutter, inner-groove distortion) that can be easily
> demonstrated.

The problems you mention are not easily demonstrated provided you're
using good equipment that's been properly setup. Of course, you will
be able to detect some of these problems with test equipment. But the
things you mentioned will not be readily audible on today's best
playback gear.

Gary Eickmeier

unread,
May 16, 2001, 4:57:53 PM5/16/01
to
George Graves wrote:

> It might if the conversion standards were adequate to the task, my
> opinion is that they are not. I.E., digital PER SE isn't bad, but the
> current 16-bit/44.1KHz IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR MUSIC (IMHO).

George, disregarding for the moment the technical specs such as noise,
dynamic range, frequency response to beyond human hearing and zero wow and
flutter, there is a very simple test for whether the current standard is good
enough for music. It is called the double blind listening test - have you
heard of this? We could set up a comparison between a live mike feed and the
same feed through an A/D, D/A converter.

But this has, of course, been done many times by now, and the answer is no,
there is no audible difference with a properly functioning digital system.

My first experience with this was when I was stationed in England in the
early 80s, when CD was about to debut. John Atkinson, with the Hi Fi News
magazine, was putting on a demo of a high quality LP system compared with the
same system run through the A/D, D/A converters of the new Sony F-1 digital
recorder. No one could hear any difference when the digital loop was
inserted. I think the point of his demo was to allay the fears of the coming
digital age.

The next time I experienced such a comparison was at an AES convention. David
Clark was demo'ing a live mike feed of a piano (in another room) compared to
the same feed through a digital converter which could vary the number of bits
used. At 4, 5, or 6 bits there was no contest - mainly a noise floor was
audible with the digital inserted. At 7 bits it was dicey, and by 8 bits it
was nearly impossible to tell any difference. Ten bits and above, no
question, no difference was detectable.

I think digiphobia is a curable psychosis. You just need to convince
yourself, ONE TIME, that digital is "OK." I went through the same thing at
first. I had convinced myself that there was "something wrong" with the new
sound of CD. It just couldn't be this clean and be right. What is missing?
But one fine day I got hold of a test CD from Japan that had on the back of
it in the liner notes something about being 99.9% error free (a perfect
pressing, as it were). That note convinced me that this particular disc was
going to represent the system as it should be, in its purest form, so I would
judge it based on this and not all those inferior discs I owned. Well, it was
a terrific recording and it calmed my reservations about the whole system
from then on, and I began to really enjoy digital. I think what really
happened was there were some bad CDs put out in the early days, EQ's for LP
and just straight transferred. The recordings became better quite quickly,
not the system itself.

I think exactly the same phenomenon is happening to people who audition the
new SACD recordings and imagine, or convince themselves, that THIS is now
digital done right. From that point on they may be able to enjoy digital
sound.

Maybe you can deprogram yourself (whoever out there needs to) and begin to
really enjoy more recordings.

Gary Eickmeier

Gary Eickmeier

unread,
May 16, 2001, 4:58:21 PM5/16/01