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  1. #1
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    Music from a farther room



    Origins



    Much of the content of the first few pages of this thread was originally created in AudioEnz, which prior to a failed forum software upgrade was a beautiful place to be.


    The journey continues.








    .

  2. #2
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    March 2009


    The story of course begins well before March 2009 but it was around this period I discovered my love for really big panel loudspeakers. Until this time I’d been on a diet of conventional dynamic speakers – both bookshelf and floor standers including KEF C30’s, Polk Audio Monitor Series 2, KEF Cresta 2, Mission 780 & 780SE’s, Quad 12L, Totem Acoustic Hawks to name a few.





    Photo 1: Quad 12L speakers replaced Mission 780 series



    Photo 2: Totem Acoustic Hawks replaced Quad 12L speakers. The Totems excelled at vocals and Jazz



    The audition and subsequent purchase of Eminent Technologies EFT-8B planar speakers was revelatory. Here was a speaker that was very reasonably priced [about US$2.5k] yet offered near full range performance combined with a massive soundstage.



    Photo 3: Perhaps the best value for money speakers I've ever purchased the Eminent Technologies LFT-8B planar


    Combined with a Unison Research Unico integrated source and fronted with Cary Audio CD-306 SACD professional music effortlessly flowed with touch of pleasing warmth. Equipment photo below on a SolidTech Rack of Silence reference rack and wired up with Nordost and Ecosse cables.


    Photo 4: The Unison Research Unico Integrated, nice warmth but ultimately not incisive enough


    Around this time I was also trying to figure out what my next "super integrated" amplifier purchase might be. The final answer came in the form of amplification from Denmark - the Gryphon Diablo, but not before cycling through a pile of other fine integrated amplifiers including the Jeff Rowland C-500 Continuum and the Abbingdon Music Research AMR AM-77.



    Photo 5: The Jeff Rowland produced amazing HiFi, but I just could not connect with the music



    Photo 6: The AMR AM-77 produced wonderful vocals and piano but was not the last word in resolution or bass reproduction



    Trying to find an integrated amplifier that was capable of producing intoxicating music - without compromise to HiFi reproduction proved much more difficult than expected!




  3. #3
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    March 2010



    Just one year later just about everything had changed in my system.

    First to be replaced was the equipment rack - the SolidTech Rack of Silence (reference version). I made the mistake of acting on lots of favorable reviews when I purchased this rack.

    The Unison Research integrated amplifier had been replaced with a state of the art Gryphon Audio Diablo. I also started experimenting with ESL speakers; notably Kingsound (China) King and Prince II speakers






    New amplification from Cary Audio; the SLP-05 pre-amp and CAD120S power amplifier offered great insight into music.





    I was also having fun comparing direct types of planar speaker. Here the Eminent Techs are shown with Kingsound King electrostatic speakers at the rear.




    I was also interested in comparisons between high quality tube amplification (Cary Audio) and high quality solid state amplification (Gryphon audio).






    The Kingsound Kings were subsequently replaced with Kingsound Prince speakers which whilst more reliable could not offer much in the way of bass response leaving music sounding a bit thin.





    Around this time I learnt one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learn in audio – that loudspeaker location and placement is everything.

    Later in the year I moved house and it was an opportunity to review again equipment and for the first time create a dedicated audio room. The proposed room was however small (at 5m x 3m) and thus the opportunity arose to seek and find some high quality stand mount speakers. After an exhaustive search I settled on a virtually unknown brand – Raidho Acoustics. I was the first person in Singapore to purchase this brand.

  4. #4
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    Music from a farther room


    Just 8529km from Wellington sits my listening room, hence the unimaginative even if technically correct title of this thread – Music from a farther room.

    Like most audiophiles I spent many years ignoring or otherwise taking for granted the importance of setting up a decent space in which to appreciate music. In naivety the only upgrades I ever imagined were related to hardware – bigger, better, more expensive etc. Naive, because I didn’t then appreciate that much of the sonic benefit derived from more expensive hardware was to a large extent being masked by poor room acoustics.

    J. Gordon Holt once opined that “It is probably safe to say that 95% of the systems in audiophile homes are being degraded by a bad listening environment. Sound waves reflect from walls, floors, and ceilings, reaching our ears milliseconds after the direct sounds from the speakers and smearing those sounds. Echoes reverberate back and forth between parallel reflective surfaces, adding more smear and colouring the sound with spurious brightness or resonating bass hangovers. And reflections from side walls are heard as false stereo direction cues, impairing the accuracy with which a system reproduces instrumental locations.”

    What then constitutes a good listening room? What is ideal and what is practical? The ideal according to Gordon would have brick or cinderblock walls, a concrete floor, and a concrete ceiling. Any flexibility in the room boundaries will cost you some deep bass, because some of the sound-wave pressure is lost through the flexing of boundary surfaces. The room would be symmetrical in shape, relative to an imaginary line running from the middle of the listening area to midway between the speakers. All room-boundary surfaces would be non-parallel. Why? Standing-wave frequencies are distance-dependent. With non-parallel boundaries, distances vary across each boundary. This broadens and smoothes out the resulting peaks and dips. The ceiling, for example, would slope downwards towards one end of the room the side walls would converge towards the listening area, and the end walls would slant away from one another as they approached the floor or ceiling. Obviously, wall tilting is easier to do with concrete or frame than with cinderblock or brick. The ceiling and floor would be heavily absorptive, with thick carpeting and under-liner underfoot, and efficient acoustical panels above. The walls, too, would be heavily absorptive, with deadening material covering 100% of the wall surface in the listening half, and 50% of the wall surface at the loudspeaker end. It is important to note that just like all things in audio, there is no real consensus on ideal listening room construction, perhaps in part to the fact that the “ideal” does not exist.
    Photos of my system and room (at time of writing) are below.




    Photo 1: Peeking into the audio room, view from doorway.




    Photo 2: The special Acoustic door. 3 inches thick with parameter and drop seals.




    Photo 3: The red listening chair. Warm hot blooded music?



    Photo 4: The completely fabulous Raidho Acoustics C1 loudspeaker




    Photo 5: The equipment rack. Cary Audio & Gryphon Audio Designs (Denmark) amplification




    My listening room is not ideal but at least upholds some of ideals opined above. The walls are brick and plaster, the flooring is solid concrete with timber strip overlay and the room is symmetrical in shape. I was not able to manage a concrete ceiling and I’m not sure I could relax in my listening chair knowing that several tons of concrete might one day fall on my head! In its place I have acoustic ceiling tiles which are 30mm thick high density fiberglass with a noise reduction coefficient of 0.8. This is followed by a second high density 100mm Rockwool layer. The window (windows are always problematic) at the front of the room was replaced with a double glazed type. This was more about keeping extraneous noises out rather than improving internal acoustics. The window was internally covered with a floor to ceiling acoustic curtain which was imported from the USA. While not shown in the photos a thick floor rug fills the space between the listening seat and the speakers. In order to seal the room properly a three inch thick acoustic door was added. The door is essentially made up of solid timber plates with two inch acoustic Rockwool infill. Raven parameter and heavy duty drop seals are incorporated. The room is served with three dedicated 20-amp circuits which take their feed directly from the main electrical panel. The room is also served with a dedicated earth.


    SMALL ROOM PROBLEMS

    There are lots of challenges with small audio rooms! It is common knowledge among those who’ve tried to find out, that the ideal listening room is rectangular and fairly large. The reason for the larger size isn’t so you can put your speakers farther apart, though that is beneficial, it is so that there is more space between your speakers and the reflective surfaces of your room. In a small room, wall reflections alter what you hear from your speakers and always in a negative way. A second challenge which was certainly relevant for my room is one of echo. This “ringing” quality is known as “flutter echo,” and if clearly audible can defeat the best efforts to produce decent sound. Flutter echo is due to the successive reflection of (generally) higher frequencies back and forth between flat, untreated, opposing walls. It may be cured either by damping those wall surfaces or by doing something to break up their flat surfaces—making the reflections less directional by dispersing them. The best solution is to provide the room with a reasonable balance of dispersion and absorption.

    To cure the issues in my room absorption proved more effective than diffusion. With assistance from the design team at GIK Acoustics the solution comprised of Tri-traps for the room corners, Monster bass trap for the rear wall and three absorption panels for each side wall. Further panels are concealed in the ceiling and behind the curtain. A couple of the absorption panels where nicely dressed in a package called Art Panel, see GIK Acoustics ArtPanel for more details.

    The room design follows a diluted “live-end”, “dead-end” philosophy; diluted because the prospect of completely deadening a portion of the room was not aesthetically pleasing but more importantly it has been my experience that rooms which employ this heavy absorption sounded a mite too dead for my taste. I won’t bore you with the measurements or the math but the room is broadly divided into thirds with the speaker’s approx. 1/3rd (of the room length) from the front wall and the listening seat approx. 1/3rd of the room length away from the rear wall. This means the listening position might be considered by some close to “near field” which for small rooms is often advisable, leading to improved perceived soundstage depth and solidity of the central image.



    Photo 6: View from front wall to rear wall


    The room continues to be a work in progress as I experiment with different treatment types and placements.



    Reference: Holt, J. Gordon (1983) Stereophile, The Listening Room: The Forgotten Factor, March 3rd Ed.

  5. #5
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    Acoustics in my small audio room – Update One



    “You’ve got the sound system to die for but a listening room that’s killing you.” Rives Audio


    “The room is the first thing we start with and the last thing we think about.” Unknown




    Photo 1: The equipment rack with acoustic treatments from GIK Acoustics



    This update is a continuation of my thoughts and experiments in setting up a good listening environment within the confines of a small listening room measuring approximately 5m x 3m x 2.8m (L,W,H). Philosophically the room design is LEDE with the speaker end being moderately diffuse and the listening end employing absorption and additional diffusion.

    In my opening post I mentioned that one of the greatest challenges I faced in trying to derive positive acoustic values from my small room was flutter echo and this was resolved using absorption panels from GIK acoustics. However, flutter echo is far from the only challenge one faces in optimizing a small room. In my room linearity of mid-bass (or lack of) also raised its ugly head and this post contributes my thoughts together with some theory and measurements around this problem and the on-going solution thereof.


    THE MID-BASS PROBLEM

    Recollect that my loudspeakers were approx. 1/3rd of the way into the room and my listening position about 2/3rd into the room. While one rule of thumb suggests that this should be optimal for best bass response in my room this did not prove to be the case. Listening tests over an extended period using a mixture of recordings with a constant bass note of around 60-70Hz showed unequal pressure distribution caused by standing waves as evidenced by moving the listening chair forward and backward and observing heavier and leaner bass energy as a result.

    While it is possible to find the critical optimal position of the listening chair by ear using such constant bass recordings I felt it important to undertake a number of relatively simple in room measurements to validate what my ears were telling me.

    From the outset it needs to be said that one should expect unevenness in bass at some point(s) in the low and mid bass frequency range due to room modes. Room modes are natural resonances that occur in every enclosed space, and the frequency of each resonance is directly related to the room’s dimensions. For example, a room 16 feet long has a mode at 35 Hz because walls that far apart provide a natural resonance at 35 Hz. Additional modes occur at multiples of 35 Hz because those frequencies also resonate in the same space. Wall spacing that accommodates one cycle of a 35 Hz wave also fits two cycles of 70 Hz, three cycles of 105 Hz, and so forth. When you play a musical note having the same pitch as a natural resonance of the room, that note will sound louder and have a longer decay time than other notes. Of course, this is undesirable because some notes are emphasized more than others, and the longer decay times reduce clarity. Therefore, room modes are important because they directly affect the character of a room. Although room resonances can be reduced by adding acoustic treatment, in particular bass traps, they cannot be eliminated entirely.


    CALCULATING ROOM MODES

    If you don’t want to do the basic math Real Traps offers an on-line program that assists here; simply plug in your room dimensions into the “Real Traps ModeCalc” (note 1) and a plot will be generated showing the resonant modes graphically. Chart 1 below shows the results for my room. Input was in equivalent feet.



    Chart 1: Calculated Room Modes for Authors Small Listening Room


    As evidenced above the smaller the room the greater the challenge in distributing room resonance modes and bunching or coincidence of modes is a result of the room height and room width being somewhat similar in measure. The audible unevenness in the bass (earlier observed) can be explained by height and width modes piling at 60Hz and 120Hz to create peaks in the response at these frequencies.

    It is widely held that the “ideal” situation is one where modes are evenly distributed across the lower frequency range. (note 2)


    INITIAL IN ROOM FREQUENCY RESPONSE

    The frequency response plot of my “original” seating position is shown in Chart 2 below. This is followed in Chart 3 by smoothed SPL plot using 1/3rd Octave test tones from 20Hz to 20 KHz.


    Chart 2: Frequency sweep with listening seat and speakers in original position



    Chart 3: Smoothed response plot of listening seat and speakers in original position


    The jagged lines you see in the “non smoothed” graph are the result of normal comb filtering which occurs in nearly all listening rooms. This plot shows peaks at 120Hz and 150Hz which not surprisingly are harmonics derived from a fundamental of 35Hz and room coincidence at 60Hz. Overall reasonable linearity can be seen above 200Hz but clearly remedial action is needed address the significantly greater energy in the lower octaves relative to the treble.

    In my next update I will share what steps I took to address this problem.


    Note 1: See RealTraps - ModeCalc
    Note 2: Information sourced from Robert Harley, The Complete Guide to High End Audio. Other reference material drawn from F. Alton Everest, Master Handbook of Acoustics and resources and from Rives Audio, see Links

  6. #6
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    May 2, 2011




    Acoustics in my small audio room – Update Two



    This update is a continuation of my thoughts and experiments in setting up a good listening environment within the confines of a small listening room measuring 5m x 3m x 2.8m (L,W,H). Philosophically the room design is LEDE with the speaker end being moderately diffuse (and reflective) and the listening end employing absorption.

    Recollect that my loudspeakers were approximately 1/3rd of the way into the room and my listening position about 2/3rd into the room. While one rule of thumb suggests that this should be optimal for best bass response in my room this did not prove to be the case. Listening tests over an extended period using a mixture of recordings with a constant bass note of around 60-70Hz showed unequal pressure distribution caused by standing waves as evidenced by moving the listening chair forward and backward and observing heavier and leaner bass energy as a result.

    While it is possible to find the critical optimal position of the listening chair by ear using such constant bass recordings I felt it important to undertake a number of relatively simple in room measurements to validate what my ears were telling me.

    The initial set of measurements can be found in my March update.

    Using 1/3rd Octave test tones sweeping from 20Hz to 20KHz I set about moving the listening chair to the point in the room which gave the smoothest bass. Note here the priority is on listening chair position not on loudspeaker position which is tweaked later. After significant repositioning of first the chair then the speakers (with tweaks to both as the day wore on) the positioning outcome is illustrated in Figure 1 below.


    Figure 1: Chair and loudspeaker positioning


    The revised response curves are illustrated in Charts 1& 2 below. By moving the listening chair closer to the rear wall and moving the loudspeakers further into the room (around 2 meters from the front wall) a dramatic measured improvement can be seen particularly in the problematic prominent resonant frequencies arena. Overall the frequency response is now broadly within a 10dB range across the spectrum, a big improvement over the original positioning which at less than 200Hz saw amplitude swings of more than 25dB. Audibly the evenness and the intelligibility of the bass have taken a giant step forward.

    Chart 1: Frequency sweep with listening seat and speakers in revised position


    Chart 2: Smoothed response plot of listening seat and speakers in revised position


    REVERBERATIONS

    Reverberation time is the time it takes for in-room sound to decay to inaudibility. The most common (but certainly not the only) measure is RT60 which looks at the time required for a direct sound to decay by 60dB.

    It is not necessarily a case of low reverberation time is best. In my larger listening room downstairs reverb time not surprisingly measures much greater than my small listening room and one benefit of this is that one senses the music enveloping them i.e. seemingly wrapped around the listening position. Too short a reverb time leaves music sounding unnatural and too long a reverb time leaves music sounding confused and muddy.

    Reverberation times can and will vary across the frequency range depending on the size of room. The objective here is to ensure decay is even across the frequency spectrum without favouring certain ranges. From the measurement point of view one tends to ignore measurements below 200Hz as in small rooms the measurement is flawed by the energy cumulated in room modes. The RT30 measurement of my room can be found in Chart 3 below:


    Chart 3: Reverberation time (RT 30) for the room


    Reverb times can be altered with acoustic treatment and work continues on optimal placement of absorption and diffusion panels. At time of writing placements are shown in Figure 2 below.



    Figure 2: Room treatment placement

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    28 August 2011



    Hmm, it has been a while since I last posted and there have been a few exciting discoveries…

    The first is the Sanders Sound Systems Magtech Stereo Power Amplifier which now officially joins the inventory. It in my humble opinion a remarkable product at any price, but at US$5k it is a steal.




    Photo 1: The Sanders Sound Systems Magtech Stereo power amplifier mounted on Stillpoints


    On first glance there is nothing on the outside of the Magtech to suggest that anything special lurks within. Indeed cosmetically the Magtech is quite unremarkable (even if pleasingly simple) and entirely lacks the butch machismo expected of muscle bound amplification. Many audiophiles like to have their equipment look as they expect it to sound and in this respect listeners really are in for a ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ experience.

    From the first disc the attributes of the Magtech are clear. The Magtech sounds solid, powerful and extremely dynamic. Bass is tight and firmly controlled, yet full bodied and rich, while the treble is airy but focussed and clean. There is nothing sweet, mellifluous or euphonic about the way which the Magtech reproduces music, rather the Magtech appears to be a model of neutrality wearing clarity and dynamics very much on its sleeve.



    Photo 2: The revised equipment rack. Magtech preferred shelf to floor


    Then there’s the new Nola Contender loudspeakers which go all the way down to the low 20Hz range in my room. Thankfully the room is designed to cope, because now I get to rumble with pipe organs. These are presently under review.



    Photo 3: The Nola Contender Loudspeakers next to my Raidho Acoustic loudspeakers




    Photo 4: The Nola Contender Loudspeakers



    By way of postscript the Contenders didn’t last long in my system. While I loved their reach down into the low octaves I could not stand the dis-jointed bass – with the speaker sounding at times like each bass woofer was doing its own thing.

  8. #8
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    September 11, 2011



    While waiting to receive an order for more diffusion products I thought I’d have a play with floor rugs. Many audiophiles have written to me saying that audio rooms need carpets or thick rugs on the floor to reduce unwanted reflections.

    To be honest earlier attempts at introducing carpet to the listening room either produced mixed or inconclusive results.

    Theoretically, carpet should indeed reduce reflection and it will absorb high frequencies and some of the mid-range – but of course will do nothing for the bass. I guess the question is – are all reflections bad and this for me is possibly what underpins my inconclusive results? There are instances, particularly with live recording of instruments like guitars and violins where I feel that slight reflections off the floor can give a more natural reproduction and a stronger illusion of the event being right there in the room.

    Experiments continue and some updated photos are included below




    Photo 1: View from entry door way




    Photo 2: View from listening chair


    So, any opinions and experiences out there on floor coverings?

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    September 25, 2011



    Norse Series Jumpers have been added. Based on micro mono-filament technology – the same being utilized for the internal loudspeaker wiring – they are employed (in my system) in series and as an end point termination to my Nordost Heimdall speaker cables. These were recommended by the local Nordost dealer and after hearing the benefits during the dealers audition I jumped (pun intended) at the opportunity.




    Photo 1: Nordost Norse Jumpers added to existing Nordost Speaker cable is the bizz…

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    November 6, 2011



    Acoustics in my small audio room – Update Three



    This update is a continuation of my thoughts and experiments in setting up a good listening environment within the confines of a small listening room measuring 5m x 3m x 2.8m (L,W,H). Philosophically the room design is LEDE with the speaker end being moderately diffuse (and reflective) and the listening end employing absorption.

    While generally pleased with the results to date which have seen giant strides in flattening frequency response, reductions in slap echo and audible improvements to the evenness and the intelligibility of the bass I have felt that more progress could be made and this update serves as a record to that end.

    At time of writing my existing room treatment placement is shown in Figure 1 below.






    REFLECTION vs. ABSORPTION AT FIRST REFLECTION POINT

    My endless tinkering generated from untamed curiosity naturally led to questions on what type of treatment should be employed at the first reflection point? Note here that I am focused on the reflection point closest to each loudspeaker. A quick literature review on the topic of reflection vs. absorption vs. diffusion at the point of first reflection shows strong support for absorption but protagonists exist for reflection (no treatment at all) and diffusion. It needs to be stated for the record that my focus here is acoustic treatment for small rooms and large rooms play by very different rules.

    Moreover, observations that follow should be read in conjunction with information provided in earlier updates and noting that the bass trap which resides under the diffusor will impact the sub 500Hz range.

    In order to arrive at my own conclusions on the topic I embarked on a series of experiments which incorporated listening tests, LEDR tests and finally measurements.

    First up was the listening tests which compared reflection (no treatment, brick, plaster and painted wall), absorption (GIK 242 panel) and diffusion (DIY 2D diffuser with bass trap base).

    What follows are my observations.



    Photo 1: Close up photo of the diffusion panel


    REFLECTION vs. ABSORPTION

    This was an easy win for Absorption. Versus no treatment, absorption at the first reflection point produced a far superior central image with greater solidarity and focus. Furthermore, not only was there produced soundstage wider and deeper but instrumental localization was light years better. The improved focus also underpinned observations around resolution with micro-details being bought out more from the otherwise cluttered and homogenized mix. Bass too was also improved with far greater control and more realistic decays being observed on good orchestral recordings.

    Were there any benefits to not treating the first reflection point? I observed two of note. First, while the central vocal image was more solid with absorption the more diffuse image rendered via reflection came across as more airy and live. Live recordings seemed more alive and more enveloping which with the right software was beneficial. Second, less amplifier power was needed to achieve the same SPL at the seating position. I was very surprised how much absorption attenuates perceptions of loudness or put another way – how much more amplifier power is needed when absorption is introduced.

    Overall the benefits of absorption far outweighed those of reflection – though I can understand personal preference will play a role here.


    ABSORPTION vs. DIFFUSION

    Versus diffusion, absorption at the first reflection point once again produced a better defined central image with marginally better ambience also being noted. However, absorptions benefits seemed to end there because diffusion appeared (strangely) to offer overall better resolution combined with superior air in and around instruments and actors. Despite the benefits absorption created with image – the image observed via diffusion simply seemed more life-like, more real and whilst some dimensionality was lost this did not hinder either the articulation or the comprehension of vocals.
    Overall the listening test nod went to the use of diffusion at the first reflection point which admittedly sets me at odds with literature and I dare say to the audiophile thought collective to.

    Time then for some more tests….



    Photo 2: Diffusion panel with bass trap underneath


    LEDR TESTS

    Like most audiophiles (I’m guessing) I have a quiver full of Test CD’s including those from Stereophile [Test CD2], XLO [Test & Burn in CD], Chesky [Ultimate Demonstration Disc] and Sheffield Labs [The Sheffield / A2TB Test Disc]. The most useful disc to date has been from Nordost via its “System Setup and Tuning Disc”. On this disc Nordost includes what I have come to consider as one of the most enlightening, instructive and valuable of speaker / room interaction tests – LEDR. LEDR™ stands for Listening Environment Diagnostic Recording, a test to subjectively evaluate the accuracy of stereo image reproduction. LEDR test tones are a series of computer generated tones created by EASI to assess speaker positioning and room interaction.

    “Lateral” and “Over” tests can provide valuable insights on important set up questions such as are my speakers correctly spaced apart, positioned and toed and are reflections from side walls or ceilings adversely impacting the image?
    Test results showed here that diffusion at the first reflection point created a smoother motion both on lateral and over tests – with the left / right (lateral) in particular having greater symmetry and evenness.

    In my next post I will provide some measured results for the room.

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    November 6, 2011



    Continued:

    ACOUSTIC MEASUREMENTS

    Using a PC with Room Wizard EQ Software (REW) an M-Audio USB soundcard with phantom power and a calibrated Behringer ECM8000 microphone and a Sound Level Meter, I set about taking measurements from the seating position to plot frequency response, waterfall, energy-time curve (ETC) and reverb decay.

    I believe that differences which can be audibly heard (between absorption and diffusion) should be measurable – so long as we know what and how to measure. The results of the various measurements can be found in charts 1-8 below.



    Chart 1: Frequency response with absorption


    Chart 2: Frequency response with diffusion


    Chart 3: ETC with absorption


    Chart 4: ETC with diffusion


    Chart 5: Waterfall with absorption


    Chart 6: Waterfall with diffusion & bass trap


    Chart 7: RT 30 with absorption


    Chart 8: RT 30 with diffusion


    Analysis of these measurements will follow [when I get the time] but what is immediately obvious is the significant improvement in frequency response between 100 to 300Hz [as seen in the frequency response the waterfall charts]; reduced early (near-field) reflections as seen in the ETC chart, which underpin the observations around soundstage spaciousness and reduction in slow bass decay time.

    Overall I am completely wrapped in the improvements this exercise has rendered. If audio is Everest, I feel that I have just arrived at a higher base camp.

    Below is an updated view of my listening room




    View from the listening chair



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    Re: Music from a farther room

    November 29, 2011



    I have received a number of questions on the DIY diffusion panels I am using and I will use this post to address them.

    The Panels were made by a third party in Singapore based on micro diffuser blocks sourced from China. I do not have details on the design save for the following information.

    Each micro block measures 64 mm X 64 mm X 45 mm and is constructed from ABS (similar material to car bumpers). A photo of the block can be seen in photo 1 below:




    I see many diffusers out there (for example RPG’s Hemiffuser tm & Skyline®) manufactured from polystyrene foam and I consciously preferred a material which was more rigid and fireproof. Furthermore the ABS is much easier to paint if desired and if one didn’t want to try that at home a local auto-shop (specializing in car damage repairs) quoted less than US$2 a block in virtually any choice of colour to match your decor.

    Each micro block is claimed to diffuse from 2 kHz to about 9 kHz and this range is extended downwards by interconnecting and gluing multiple layers together. My panels vary from one to three layers and are effective from around 600 Hz. The combination of the varying cell depth and the staggering of the sections of blocks greatly assists with the temporal effects (phase) of the diffuser. The overall bandwidth of the diffuser is broader than commercial products like the RPG Omniffusor ®, a typical and similar 2D QRD design. The micro diffuser blocks are grouped and glued (epoxy or hot glue) back onto a piece of plywood which could be screwed onto the wall as-is, though I preferred framing which in my opinion looked better and allowed the panel to free-stand which was useful whilst trying to optimize positioning. Each grouping measures approx. 600 mm x 600 mm x 145mm (depth) and I use a 1×2 (wide/high) configuration for the side walls and a 2×2 configuration for the front wall. The side wall diffusers sit on top a bass trap which due to its restricted volume was most effective in addressing measured nulls between 100 – 300 Hz.


    THE RESULT



    I could not be happier with the impact of diffusion at the 1st sidewall reflection point. Continued listening has confirmed within the context of my room that compared with absorption the resolution, in particular resolved micro detail and ambient information, is far superior and this seems to benefit all recordings – but particularly poor CD recordings which often lack air and spatial depth and tend to decode as a thinly dimensioned central homogenized cluster or worse audibly appear tethered to the loudspeakers.

    Admittedly these findings are at odds with my previous endorsement of absorption at the first reflection point for small room settings. Once again then I find myself eating earlier articulated views and so called canon on the topic and the only thing I can be certain of is that as time progresses I will find more things I need to change my mind on, or simply be flat out wrong about.





    More happily, my overall objective of holistically assembling an audio playback system that provides no limits on your musical enjoyment – as evidenced by extended listening sessions and embracement of a wider diversity of musical styles and an ability to satisfyingly play any music in one’s library – has taken a further step forward with this project.

    But more still can always be done and freshly armed with the recent acquisition of XTZ’s latest Room Analyzer Pro II measurement system, my attention now is turning to treatment of the rear wall. Stay tuned


  13. #13
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    December 1, 2011



    omegaspeedy; wrote: Kiwi_1282001, I love how dedicated you are with your explorations of different room treatments! Great job particularly because it’s an area that isn’t really taken seriously enough by HiFi geeks like myself even though I know I really should!
    Hi James,

    Someone once quipped that “The room is the first thing we start with and the last thing we think about.”

    While that statement is catchy and makes for good headline, I don’t believe it is absolutely true because we do from time to time think about our rooms and ponder “what if”?

    My thesis is that the room tends to get neglected because it is one of the least understood influencers in the audio reproduction chain – and frequently one of the most challenging to change. Further, it does not help that equipment purchases are so damned exhilarating and that dealers can eagerly and readily demonstrate how cartridge X, DAC Y or amplifier Z is going to improve your world in a way that they can less easily with acoustic devices because of their room dependencies. More-over, often the very dealers upon which we depend for good advice have scant regard for room acoustics themselves – the proof of which can be seen by merely stepping into their show-rooms…

    For years then, in naivety, the only upgrades I ever imagined were related to hardware – bigger, better, more expensive etc. Naive, because I didn’t then appreciate that much of the sonic benefit derived from more expensive hardware was to a large extent being masked or even completely annulled by poor room acoustics.

    I hope my postings encourage all readers to pay more attention to the topic. That bloated bass, screechy treble or one dimensional soundstage might be better corrected with a few hundred dollars spent on acoustic treatments rather than a few thousand spent on new loudspeakers. The influence of the room on the overall reproduction of audio should not be underestimated or ignored and I have to declare with some degree of embarrassment that this fool of a scribe has learnt the expensive way….. Don’t follow me.

  14. #14
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    February 6, 2012



    Acoustics in my small audio room – Update Four


    This update is a continuation of my thoughts and experiments in setting up a good listening environment within the confines of a small listening room measuring 5m x 3m x 2.8m (L,W,H). Philosophically the room design is LEDE with the speaker end being largely diffuse and the listening end employing absorption.

    In the last treaties I had indicated that my focus now was shifting to treatment options for the rear wall. The arrival of the XTZ Pro II room analyser system however placed this on hold as the software indicated via RT60 measurements that decay time at 8 KHz was a staggering 2 seconds! Was this a measurement anomaly which was a possible consideration since all the other RT60 values were nowhere near the 8kHz reading and when there is a high RT60 reading it is typically correlated to a higher SPL reading which in my situation wasn’t the case. Further, supporting the anomaly theory is the well-known fact that higher frequencies are very directional which makes it much harder for the microphone to properly pick it up and measure it.



    Chart 1: Frequency response and RT60 for the room


    On the other hand it could also point to a slap echo artefact and the need to place additional absorption (i.e. GIK 242) in the room.

    What to do and why hadn’t REW picked this up? Frankly I was at a loss. Surfing the web I came across an interesting document entitled “Acoustical Measurement Standards for Stereo Listening Rooms” (Mellor & Hedback, 2011).
    http://blog.acousticfrontiers.com/st...ist.%20Rms.pdf


    This document suggests that an acceptable T60 range is 0.2 to 0.5 seconds i.e. a decay of 60dB (250Hz to 4 KHz).
    After a bit of farting around I decided to pace the room clapping my hands on the lookout for flutter echoes and sure enough between the rear of the speakers and the corner traps I found strong distinct echoes. To patch this problem I decided to re-deploy the diffusion panels from their first reflection point location to the area of bare wall between the speakers and the front wall.



    Figure 1: Revised room treatment layout


    This not only fixed the problem but the newly placed side wall diffusors enhanced the impact of the diffusion already in place on the front wall allowing the soundstage width and depth to further expand. Sometimes problems can be blessings in disguise.

    Below is the revised configuration. I am now re-looking at 1st reflection point treatment options and additional bass trapping. The project continues ….



    Chart 2: Bass needs more work!



    Photo 1: Revised room treatment configuration

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    April 7, 2012



    Acoustics in my small audio room – Update Five



    This update is a continuation of my thoughts and experiments in setting up a good listening environment within the confines of a small listening room measuring 5m x 3m x 2.8m (L,W,H). Philosophically the room design is LEDE with the speaker end being largely diffuse and the listening end employing absorption.



    Photo 1: Revised room treatment configuration


    In the last update what was possibly an RT60 measurement anomaly or a slap echo artefact led fortuitously to the repositioning and employment of diffusion panels on the sidewalls in the front soundstage (behind the speaker plane).

    Whilst earlier explorations had uncovered that if you diffuse the sound that reflects off the front wall you will have depth in your sound stage that appears to go right through the wall – this did not prepare me for the benefits that could be gained by placing additional diffusion in the front soundstage sidewalls. The audible effect of front soundstage diffusers enhanced the performance of those already placed on the front wall. In addition they allowed the sound stage width to expand in the same manner as the depth did when I treated the front wall. This discovery was not anticipated and somewhat of a shock when you consider we are talking of sound enhancements which fall behind the speaker plane and thus must be reflected and dissipated!


    While I waited for the delivery of additional diffusion panels so I could check again on earlier observations made on absorption vs. diffusion at the first sidewall reflection point I experimented with different thicknesses of absorption at the first sidewall reflection. I had 2” and 6” thick panels (GIK 242 and GIK Monsters) to play with.

    Toole[1] controversially suggests that treating first reflections are optional (wow!) But, if it is to be done treatment should be broadband when used, ideally uniformly effective above 200Hz. Toole points out that the typical 1 inch fibreglass sound panel most often affixed to walls works only at relatively high frequencies (>1 KHz) and acts to effectively turn down the tweeter with no effect on the midrange or upper bass, thus not preserving spectral balance. Uniform attenuation of the full spectrum of reflections is considered an important design goal. I thought it would be interesting to see if his comments on sound panel thickness applied also in my setting?

    Listening tests which ran for the better part of one day tracked irrevocably towards the conclusion that additional absorption bandwidth (which in the case of the GIK Monster was effective down to about 80Hz) was welcome and audibly hallmarked by improved bass definition, transient response and decay. Furthermore on the question of absorption versus no treatment at all at the first side wall reflection point – my earlier preference for absorption remained unchanged. One possible explanation for this preference lies in the observation that the ambience already present in many recordings is that of a large space, such as a concert hall or movie scoring sound stage or recording studio. When played back in a small room having too little absorption, the strong small-room “early” reflections simply drown out the larger sounding ambience in the recording, thereby losing detail.

    The eventual arrival of additional diffusor panels once again opened the ‘jack in a box’ on whether the earlier stated preference for diffusion (versus absorption) at the first side wall reflection remained valid and to cut to the chase – it did! Beyond earlier observations made, perceptively, one big difference between absorption and diffusion at the first side wall reflection point was the ‘view’ of the performance being played. The use of absorption gave the impression that one was viewing the performance from the back rows of a large auditorium – whereas, diffusion placed one more mid hall. One possible explanation for this is that variation in the amplitude of reflections may cognitively underpin and aid judgements the listener makes on the distance of sound.


    SUMMARY

    Thus far, I’ve drawn a conclusion that in the context of a small listening room, choosing what type of acoustic control you use at the first side wall reflection is important and treatment can be simplistically thought of as an ‘imaging versus spaciousness controller’. Using absorption on the side walls audibly narrows the soundstage and improves imaging. Leaving the sidewall reflective makes the sound spacious but loses out on pinpoint imaging and detail. Using a diffusor on the side walls is a reasonable compromise between the two approaches. So what you do with sidewalls really comes down to personal preference in musical presentation. For example, ‘Image freaks’, a term coined somewhat impulsively to describe audiophiles who place heavy emphasis on the quality of the image (usually girl and guitar music types in my experience) will likely prefer absorption for its ability to provide superior specificity and density to the image. ‘Orchestral and live event nerds’ on the other hand may prefer diffusion for its perceived ability to deliver a larger soundstage with a somewhat more listener enveloping experience.

    This then nicely Segway’s into my next topic of discussion, “You are there” versus “They are here”. Stay tuned.


    References
    1. Toole, F, 2006. Loudspeakers and Rooms for Sound Reproduction – A Scientific Review. Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, 54 / 6, 451-476.

  16. #16

    Re: Music from a farther room

    Wow! Incredible perfection and dedication-- we are humbled keep up the good work!

    Glad you got rid of those Nolas--they are over hyped-- sorry HP!

    B

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    April 7, 2012



    You are there vs. They are here



    A thread on this topic posted on AudioGON in April 2010 peaked my interest. Given my recent obsession with room acoustics you may ponder what relevance the topic has to my room and system and on-going efforts in setting up a good listening environment?

    The answer in short is everything.

    Before I continue some definitions are in order. Borrowing from Mr Cunningham (the contributor on Audiogon):


    “Sometimes a system sounds like “they are here.” That is, it sounds like the performance is taking place IN YOUR LISTENING ROOM.

    Sometimes a system sounds like “you are there.” That is, it sounds like you have been transported to SOME OTHER ACOUSTICAL SPACE where the performance is taking place.”

    Mr. Cunningham goes on to opine that whether a system sounds like “they are here” or “you are there” is principally determined by AMBIENT CUES during playback.


    I am looking for a “you are there” experience when music is reproduced. I like the prospect of being transported to another space – even if such an objective seems hopelessly implausible given the physical confines of a small room.
    My contribution on this subject is that listening room design has a weighty bearing on the illusion of “you are there”. As attested earlier, the employment of heavy absorption at early sidewall reflection points tended to make the presentation of the music somewhat aloof and distant. You are not there! My hypothesis is that absorption clearly reduces reflections as heard at the listening position thereby diminishing a sense of sound envelopment which is needed to give the illusion of “you are there”. This is to say, that direct sound only carries insufficient cues to convincingly transport us to another location and a degree of reflected sound is needed to underpin the you are there experience – though my findings have been that reflection via diffusion offers a superior experience to unconstrained reflections. I do my best to illustrate this point in diagrams 1 & 2 below.



    Diagram 1: “They are here”





    Diagram 2: “You are THERE!”



    None of the above overlooks the fact that it is the actual recording which is the supreme commander of the “you are there” experience. You obviously cannot put into your listening room something that was not on the recording in the first place. It further assumes that any ambience contained in a recording is real and not synthetically created at a later stage in the recording chain and that the sound engineer has mixed sympathetically as again you cannot put back into the listening room something that the mikes may have picked up but the engineer subsequently mixed out. Moreover, I do not pretend that the recording and acoustic controls are the lone ingredients of a “you are there” experience as other system variables such as the quality and neutrality of the playback system and the noise floor of the room – to name put two examples – are surely stakeholders in this goal too.

  18. #18
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    April 29, 2012




    Acoustics in my small audio room – Update Six



    This update is a continuation of my thoughts and experiments in setting up a good listening environment within the confines of a small listening room measuring 5m x 3m x 2.8m (L,W,H). Philosophically the room design is LEDE with the speaker end being largely diffuse and the listening end employing absorption.

    In my last update I had concluded that within the context of a small listening room, choosing what type of acoustic control you use at the first side wall reflection is important and treatment can be simplistically thought of as an ‘imaging versus spaciousness controller’. Using absorption on the side walls audibly narrows the soundstage and improves imaging. Leaving the sidewall reflective makes the sound spacious but loses out on pinpoint imaging and detail. Using a diffusor on the side walls is a reasonable compromise between the two approaches. So what you do with sidewalls really comes down to personal preference in musical presentation. For example, ‘Image freaks’, a term coined somewhat impulsively to describe audiophiles who place heavy emphasis on the quality of the image (usually girl with guitar acoustic music types in my experience) will likely prefer absorption for its ability to provide superior specificity and density to the image.

    Orchestral and live event nerds’ on the other hand may prefer diffusion for its perceived ability to deliver a larger soundstage with a somewhat more listener enveloping experience.

    As interesting as experimenting with different acoustic panels at the first reflection point may be – its importance borders on near insignificance compared to selecting where you seat in the listening room!


    POSITIONING THE LISTENING CHAIR

    Of all the choices one has to make in setting up a good environment in which to listen to music – by far the most important – is selecting the location of your listening chair.



    Photo 1: Where you park your listening chair is critical


    While you will doubtlessly read of audiophiles who invest hours and in some instances days – and often on their hands and knees – (ouch) in tweaking the location of their loudspeakers their effort is ill-spent and near worthless (in my experience) if they then simply proceed to arbitrarily plonk the listening chair at a fixed distance away from the said speakers.

    The key objective must be to discover where in the room you should sit to take advantage of the least negative room interactions such as obvious peaks and nulls in the bass.

    Measurements (I recommend 1/12th Octave RTA) are the most effective – and quickest – way of achieving this goal and this latest round of adjustments interestingly saw the listening chair location move closer to the rear wall where the best combination of smoothest and deepest bass existed.

    To objectively demonstrate the impact (and critical importance) of listening chair location consider the below measurements taken in my listening room last month.




    Graph 1: Frequency response initial



    Graph 2: Frequency response after repositioning seat



    Graph 3: Spectrogram – a huge improvement over previous measure



    Measurements were performed using REW software with M-Audio external USB soundcard with phantom power and calibrated Behringer ECM 8000 microphone for frequency response and waterfall analysis and XTZ Room Analyser II Pro kit for Spectrogram analysis. The later depicts a colour spectrum with frequency, amplitude and time data and provides a quick glance guide of decay time as a function of time and frequency. Measurement methods are log sine sweep, full FFT and sliding CSD.

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    May 2, 2012




    I find the importance of Stereo Imaging (generally defined as the production of stable, specific phantom images of correct localization and width) varies markedly among audiophiles. I attend a live concert every month and without fail I’m presented with a wall of sound – not tiny pin pricks of sound cleverly arranged on a large stage. Such concerts give me pause of thought on what goals we should have in mind when setting up a decent audio reproduction system. For some, critical listening means not just hearing the totality of the reproduced sound, but hearing into the sound – that is, desiring to observe the variety of sonic attributes that go to make up the whole. It is not at all uncommon to come across audiophiles who are more interested in a recordings revelation of ‘space’, that is the environment in which the performance was recorded, then the performance itself!

    On the topic of measurements, one pet theory I have is that audio specifications and measurements have increased significance as they move from the source to your ear. Measurements of a DAC, CD player or amplifier won’t tell you a whole lot about how they will sound. Loudspeaker measurements are much more revealing and finally loudspeaker / room interface measurements offer quite vivid insights into how things are likely to sound. As my theory goes, master the room / speaker interface and Nirvana (liberation) awaits – even if prefaced by a very modest investment in equipment.



    .

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    June 9, 2012



    Music from “Another” Room


    In times past I have made opaque references to ownership of a second audio system, this one located in a larger room on the ground floor. This is my ‘social’ system, deliberately conceived for the enjoyment of family and friends and proffering that all important space “for the girls to wiggle.”

    This system is dominated visually by a pair of near 2 meter tall Electrostatic speakers (ESL’s) offering wide dispersion characteristics and the ability to create a massive soundstage. Other than the ESL’s and a 52 inch LED monitor which is connected to provide an A/V experience, all other components are concealed.

    It must be said that I love panel speakers, especially ESL’s. Engineered properly, the most apparent benefit of ESL is its reproduction of high frequency content. The response of the lightweight diaphragm is in every way superior to the heavy moving coil used in a magnetic speaker. The sum of the mass of a magnetic speakers voice coil, suspension system and cone can prevent them from responding quickly enough to follow a rapidly changing audio waveform with perfect precision. In contrast the mass of an electrostatic speaker’s diaphragm is very small indeed and as a result it is far more easily able to respond to instantaneous audio signal changes even if it is still imperfect. ESL’s, at least those that valiantly endeavour to be “full range” (huh), do have one Achilles heel and that is their ability to deliver deep bass and my speakers bass might best be described as hung over, lumpy and boomy entirely lacking in definition. Still, its oft been said that in reality, all components are imperfect and the real subjective choice in assembling a good audio reproduction system will often come down to a choice of which particular imperfections or trade-offs you can live with over the long run. For whilst the bass response on these particular ESL’s leaves much to be desired – you forgive them almost immediately when you hear the sublime reproduction of that most important instrument of all – the human voice.




    Photo 1: Descending from Music from a farther room to Music from another room




    Photo 2: The Speakers




    Photo 3: The engine room



    System Components

    Tacima CS929 mains conditioner with Quantum Qv2 AC Line harmonisers
    Ecosse Big Orange & Big Red power cables
    Cisco HD Set Top Box
    Oppo BDP-95 Universal Player
    Modwright Instruments LS 36.5 tube line stage
    Sanders Sound Systems ESL Mark II stereo power amplifier
    Kings Audio Limited The Prince II Electrostatic loudspeaker
    Nordost interconnect, speaker and jumper cables




    Photo 4: From the listening sofa





    .

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    August 7, 2012




    Acoustics in my small audio room – Update Seven



    This update is a continuation of my thoughts and experiments in setting up a good listening environment within the confines of a small dedicated listening room measuring 5m x 3m x 2.8m (L, W, H).

    The guiding philosophy underpinning the room design has – until this update – been LEDE. It must be said that the thinking behind LEDE appealed to me; that is, make the front of the room diffuse, punctuated only with requisite bass trapping thereby creating a soundstage seemingly far greater than the physical confines of the room dimension and then treat the rear of the room with absorption to reduce reflections from side and rear walls which are widely held to impair the accuracy with which a system reproduces instrumental locations. To that end, progress is thought to be made when your ears / brain are relieved of processing and decoding unwanted and coloured reflections.

    In hindsight, the LEDE philosophy was hiking towards extinction well before this particular update was authored as evidenced by my declared preference for two dimensional (2D) diffusion at early side wall reflection points! Observant readers would have also been puzzled by the largely untreated (and reflective) rear wall – also inconsistent with the philosophy.


    WINDING UP AT A DEAD END

    Within the context of my small listening room I knew the LEDE philosophy (for me) was dead the minute I mounted additional broadband absorbers on the rear wall. It didn’t matter whether I mounted 2 inch (GIK 242) or 6 inch (GIK Monster) panels, the result was the same. It was as if life was sucked out of any reproduced music and the observation held true irrespective of music genre with solo vocals sounding dehydrated and lifeless and orchestras rendered like a biblical valley of dry bones replete with brittle instrumental signatures. If this was “accuracy” I was hearing then I plainly did not want it…..

    We can of course debate the importance of “accuracy” when it comes to acoustics and the reproduction of music and I’ll simply say here – to be perfectly transparent about it – that my action research to date has been adjudicated more by preference than notions of accuracy. For me at least the question is straightforward, do you want a presentation that attempts to emulate real live acoustic music as you would hear it live, with its more diffuse sound field or do you wish for an accurate stereo construct, with ultra-precision pan pot spatial effects? Many audiophiles will prefer the “Hi-Fi” stereo construct with its precision imaging et al; and I have no beef with that, it is a preference, just like other alternatives – but to my ears such “accuracy” ends up an empty triumph precisely because it doesn’t sound as I perceive it should in real life. Recall here, my earlier observations about the employment of diffusion at the 1st side wall reflection point; it was a trade-off – slightly reduced / diminished image focus in return for greater ambient retrieval, superior micro dynamic transient response and a more enveloping portrayal of the recorded performance.

    Unsatisfied then with the application of absorption panels on the rear wall, an alternative was clearly needed and so it was back to the drawing board. “Knowledge is always gained through action and for action” as one my less mainstream university professors used to extol; recalled here in plain sympathy to the fact that some of my findings to date are far from mainstream….

    Crossing absorbers off the list of rear wall treatments, I began looking at alternatives. Options included polyfusors, abfusors, BAD panels (all three of which combine absorption with reflection / scattering or diffusion) and 1D/2D diffusors.


    STEPPING THROUGH THE REAR WALL TREATMENT OPTIONS

    My initial hypothesis went along the lines that having polyfusors either side of the rear wall bass trap would be the way forward. I opined that since polyfusers only offer scattering and not temporal (phase) effects, you can sit closer to them than “true” diffusers that provide both effects and this was a clear consideration since my listening chair is only 1m from the rear wall.

    In practice however, the performance of the polyfusor was little in difference to the RPG BAD panel and the Vicoustic Wavewood Abfusor in that they were all effective in breaking up slap echo and producing some amount of scattering or reflection of mid / high frequencies but overall – they appeared to absorb too much high frequency energy. Further, the diffusion characteristics touted by the polyfusor and BAD panels were not especially effective. That said, to my ears they all offered a better rear wall solution than the GIK absorption panels earlier tried.




    Photo 1: Treatment options from top left clockwise, Vicoustic Wavewood, Vicoustic Poly Wood Fuser, Binary Amplitude Diffusor and Vicoustic Multifusor DC2



    Not fully satisfied with treatment options tried thus far I turned my attention to full on 2D Quadratic diffusion. Considered the most consistent and predictable type of diffusion, the design effectively takes the reflection and “chops” it up into a group of smaller reflections if you will and then redistributes those “reflections” back into the room in a fan like array. The distributed energy back into the room is not altered in time or amplitude. Conventional wisdom has it that a properly diffused rear wall surface makes the whole room sound larger than its physical size. In comparison, absorption reduces the amplitude of the reflection by changing some of the reflected energy to heat.

    While the prospect of listener envelopment caused by later arriving reflections appealed the chief concern was that the diffusor may be ineffective at close range – remembering here that my listening chair is only 1m from the rear wall. Distance is required because of the way a quadratic diffusor works. For the interference patterns to fully develop into a diffuse field, it is recommended that the minimum seating distance be three times the longest wavelength diffused. Diffused wavelengths need time to form completely before they reach the listening position. If one is seated too close or has the diffusor too close to the speaker or sound source, the diffused wave does not have time to properly form and you can have image shifting. Possibly slightly mitigating this concern is the observation that the DC2 columns are top end sloped and this may assist in redirecting some high frequency away from the listener.
    Time then for action.


    2D OR NOT 2D – THAT IS THE QUESTION…

    The first configuration I tried was placing four 600mm x 600mm Vicoustic DC2 panels directly behind the listening chair. While this meant the removal of the rear wall bass trap I had heard this configuration work well in a friends system. For the listening exercise I selected two CD test tracks. The first was “Eden” the title track from Brightman’s 1998 album (Angel 7243 5 56769 2 4). This Hooverphonic masterpiece is full of high treble energy replete with synthesised atmospheric texture, Gregorian chants and throbbing bass. The recording leaves a lot to be desired with endemic glare, unnecessary (and needlessly distracting) techno sounds and poor orchestration often on the verge of overpowering Brightman’s voice and this rather underpins why I’ve chosen it. The second test track ranks among the very finest orchestral recordings available, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade (Living Stereo 82876 66377 2). With breakneck speed, monumental dynamics and remarkable fidelity the result is as close to the original sound of orchestra hall as your loudspeakers and room acoustics can provide and therein lays the test track justification.




    Photo 2: Diffusion directly behind the listening chair


    Immediate impressions of diffusion behind the listening chair were all favourable. The most obvious area of change, in comparison to absorption, was the decay of musical notes which was pleasingly extended in the mid-range, particularly with brass and strings. The Gregorian chants in “Eden” grew in scale and stature – metaphorically gaining height and shape similar to that of a surfers wave which is about to break. Both soundstage air and sense of space was equally enhanced in “Scheherazade”, it was almost as if headlights had been switched to full beam in a dark tunnel, it was possible to see deeper into the mix, migrating it from a somewhat flat canvas to a more layered presentation.

    However, more reflective thought after extended listening did throw up one flaw. The greater treble energy evidenced in this configuration appeared out of spectral balance with the bass and after this realization that I was awakened to the recognition whilst I was revelling in the overtones – the bass was actually diluted, losing weight, solidity and some intelligibility.



    Photo 3: Absorption directly behind the listening chair


    The restoration of a single GIK broadband absorber (bass-trap) behind the listening chair put right the underpinning of the bass and until this incident I hadn’t appreciated just how important that trap was. However, the repositioning of the absorber immediately discounted the mid and high mid improvements I had witnessed with the diffusor installation and the immediate question now became – how can I have the best of both?



    Photo 4: Absorption and diffusion on the rear wall


    To cut to the chase, the combination of 2D diffusion and absorption on the rear wall offered to my ears the best overall compromise. The absorption aided the bass and the diffusion increased the soundstage, aided ambience and improved tonal definition of instruments and the combination of the two created the impression of being a larger more natural environment.



    Figure 1: Revised Room Treatment Layout



    CONCLUSION

    On more than one occasion I have thought that I’d reached the zenith of what was possible with small room acoustic design believing that further improvement would be marginal at best.

    I was wrong.

    In each case a period of malaise was followed by truly exciting breakthroughs which in my considered opinion – recording permitting – further closed the gap between live and recorded performances and did so for modest expense.

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    August 7, 2012




    Here are photos of my latest room layout.





    Photo 1: Latest room photo front to rear





    Photo 2: Latest room photo from listening chair







    .

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    September 2, 2012




    Acoustics in my small audio room – Update Eight


    This update is a continuation of my thoughts and experiments in setting up a good listening environment within the confines of a small dedicated listening room measuring 5m x 3m x 2.8m (L, W, H).

    In my previous update (Update 7) I waxed lyrical on how studied selection of rear wall treatment had aided in creating the impression of being a larger more natural listening environment. The application of diffusion and bass trapping to the rear wall underpinned what I now consider to be the most “real” sounding music reproduction I’ve ever experienced in my room. That said, careful observers of my treaties would have noted the complete lack of commentary surrounding the introduction of new side wall treatments – and I use this particular update to speak to that.

    Around the same time as I was experimenting with different rear wall treatments (and subsequent to it) I was also pondering what to do with the somewhat less critical back side wall which save for a couple of GIK Acoustics Art Panels was reflective in nature. It was quickly apparent after comparing the GIK absorption panels with Vicoustic DC2 diffusors and Vicoustic Wavewood absorbers that the later was the way to go.

    This observation then upheld a transformation from this:



    Photo 1: GIK Acoustics Art Panel (framed 242 panel with custom artwork)



    To this:




    Photo 2: Vicoustic Wavewood Panels



    So what did I find audibly attractive about the Wavewoods? The quick answer is that this product fitted nicely into the needs for this location which whilst primarily absorptive in nature – also benefited from some reflection, but not as much as provided by the D2 diffusor.

    By design the Wavewood has a perforated plywood face and an absorbent high density foam backing. The series of sequential cavities visible on the front face of the panel are said to provide some diffusion characteristics, but after experimenting with the panel for a month or so, I think that is more cosmetic than factual. What the Wavewood does appear to deliver is some attenuation of high audio frequencies without strangling the life out of them and I’d accredit this performance more to reflection off the face than miraculous effects of perforations. More-over the Wavewood seems effective in killing flutter echo whilst retaining some aliveness / ambience and in this regard I preferred it over the GIK Acoustics product.



    Figure 1: Vicoustic Wavewood Specification


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    Re: Music from a farther room

    September 16, 2012



    Tweaking – Crying over Cryo


    One of the challenges of audio reproduction is that everything seems to matter and nearly every action or tweak has the potential to enhance or degrade Sonic’s.

    The gamble one takes when tweaking revolves around the observation that it’s really about how a particular tweak interacts with your audio system and importantly, how much of that interaction is perceived by you. To further expand – often the same tweak will produce a different result from one system to another and be perceived differently from one listener to another as well. Such lack of consistency understandably explains why forums are full of sometimes vitriolic arguments where one party is reports itself to be in ecstasy over a particular tweak, while another thinks it nothing but ‘snake oil’.

    Nonetheless, audiophiles perpetually find themselves in a strange misrule of appetites and passions and this serves as a forward propellant – come what may ….


    MAINS WALL SOCKET UPGRADE – EFFECTUAL OR POMPOUS?

    Let’s cut to the chase – protagonists are quick to question the sanity of spending vast sums of money on a rig, only to have it slurping juice (AC) through some sorry-ass low rent twenty year old mains outlet which with wear can barely keep a stock plug from falling out! The same audiophiles that agonise over $500 interconnect cables ironically appear to be inconsistently cavalier about the contact integrity and quality of the mains wall socket. Protagonists believe that ‘audiophile wall sockets’ which typically omit switches and proffer thick casings and faceplates said to assist in isolating it for RF and EMI interruption and large internal contacts to better secure plug grip – logically lead to increased conductivity and superior sonics?

    Antagonists on the other hand scoff at the notion of ‘superior sonics’ via ‘audiophile wall sockets’ placing such perceptions down to psychological factors. Power is after all power and so long as it is reaching the appliance satisfactorily – then any notion of ‘superior sonics’ should be treated as being due to psychological bias. Humans harbour biases and these prejudices influence what we hear. In other words, our audio reproduction sounds better through an ‘audiophile wall socket’ for no other reason than we expect it to.


    AUDIOPHILES ARE RISK TAKERS – I THINK

    Without prejudice to the above I made an impulsive decision to buy an audiophile wall socket whilst attending a recent Hi Fi show in Singapore. The socket, made under the SINE brand, was advertised as a “Hi-End Grade Cyro Platinum Duplex Receptacle (US 15A)” model SW-2LP. The “Cyro” bit was an eye opener. SINE we are told uses a low freezing process at -196 degrees Celsius (Cryogenic) to “re-structure metal molecules and increase conductivity, thus allowing electric currents to flow through smoothly”. How cool I thought, trying hard to keep a straight face, as I parted with $145.




    Photo 1: SINE ‘Cryo’ faceplate and accessories



    Photo 2: Rear view


    The purchase of the socket did afford one other potential side benefit and that was the opportunity to ditch an adaptor I was using. The adaptor provided a UK plug to the wall (Singapore using British standard (BS 1363)) and provided a US Standard socket (NEMA 5-15) for my North American power cables. The adaptor also corrected the AC polarity issue between these two standards.

    I simply replaced the stock el cheapo wall socket with my shiny new cryo wall socket carefully noting the correct locations of the phase and neutral cables. Somewhat odd I thought was inclusion of a crimpable spade in the accessories kit that was clearly intended for the earth cable. Why you’d want to use that was beyond me so I used bare wire terminations as I had for the other conductors. Installation took about 10 minutes.



    Photo 3: Before



    Photo 4: After



    THE SOUND & CONCLUSION

    My immediate observation after ignition and equipment warm up was that the system seemed a touch louder than previous. I did not take any before and after SPL measurements to confirm this, so the observation needs to be treated with a grain of salt. Moreover, the bass appeared a bit deeper and the treble a mite more airy but to be brutally honest about things, these differences, if indeed they were real, were far from dramatic and the sonic results were therefore inconclusive.

    The bottom line – circling back to my opening commentary – is that unless the effects of a tweak can be clearly perceived then one can’t claim a win on the gamble.

    I have probably wasted $145.

  25. #25
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    November 18, 2012



    Acoustics in my small audio room – Update Nine


    This update is a continuation of my thoughts and experiments in setting up a good listening environment within the confines of a small dedicated listening room measuring 5m x 3m x 2.8m (L, W, H).

    My recent focus has been on the selection of acoustic treatment for the rear wall. The final decision to adopt a mixture of absorption (read – broadband bass trapping) and 2D diffusion was primarily motivated by a desire for bass ‘support’ whilst diffusion increased the soundstage, aided ambience and improved tonal definition of instruments. The combination of the two acoustic tools created the impression of being in a larger more natural environment.

    Be that as it may, room measurements, notably XTZ spectrogram measurements showing room reverberation time in the low frequency band (16 – 250Hz); still vividly pointed out that further improvement in the low bass should be investigated and this is an update to that end.


    BASS LIKE GOD IS EVERYWHERE

    Looking around the room one could be forgiven for thinking that sufficient bass trapping was in place. After all, three of the four room corners have GIK Tri-traps stacked two high (specified as effective from 50Hz to 5KHz); each of the sidewalls have GIK Monster Elite traps also stack two high and finally the rear centre wall has a stand mounted GIK Monster trap deliberated spaced from the rear wall to aid its low bass performance.

    While sometimes difficult to interpret room measurements don’t generally lie and as evidenced by the spectrogram below issues remain. The idea of the spectrogram is to show the decay time as a function of time and frequency. An uneven colour spectrum suggests an uneven frequency response in the room. High amplitudes (warm colours) reaching far into the right of the chart show that there are problems with long decay times. The problem areas are centred around 35Hz and 60Hz, not surprisingly being room length, width and height modes.



    Graph 1: Spectrogram (2D Waterfall) shows long decay times at high amplitudes


    The burning question was now – what acoustic tool could be used to address bass issues at 35Hz and 60Hz? With so much broadband bass-trapping in place and this being largely ineffective at these low frequencies lent itself to the prospect that some form of tuned bass trap was needed.


    THE DEEP BASS CHALLENGE

    Thick boomy bass is a common affliction that can be difficult to control. It is often the result of room resonance modes – but other possible causes include poor loudspeaker placement, poor loudspeaker performance or not enough low-frequency absorption in the listening room. The site of the listening chair can also mitigate or exacerbate bass bloat.

    Not wishing to leave any stone unturned I once again embarked on a campaign of tedious ‘furniture movement’ moving the speakers incrementally forwards and backwards and the listening chair forwards and backwards carefully measuring and recording acoustic results of each movement. Those readers who have tried this exercise will understand the frustration of such a task. One usually sees improvement in frequency response in one area of the spectrum only to find another area of the spectrum now measures worse. Further, room nodes (dips) can be stubborn pesky beasts, refusing to meaningfully change despite your best and most patient efforts in placements. At the end of a day’s effort the placement of the listening chair and loudspeakers remained largely unchanged from where I started – this location producing the smoothest bass – but still an unsatisfactory room decay measure.

    Satisfied that my loudspeaker and listening chair placement was in order I now surmised that I needed to acquire some truly low frequency absorbers. It is important to note that the purpose of such absorbers is not to reduce the amount of low end you hear in a room, but to reduce destructive reflections and thereby even out the level fluctuations that occur at different frequencies within the room. The objective becomes to attenuate those reflections that might otherwise cancel out the direct sound from the loudspeakers, causing those unwelcome dips and peaks (being measured) in the room response. Done right, evenness in the bass should improve with no obvious bass ringing or resonances.


    A CALL TO GIK ACOUSTICS

    While the landscape is dotted with various acoustic panel manufacturers; GIK Acoustics – in my opinion – is difficult to beat on a value for money basis and the fact that their team are very accessible and liberal with their acoustic advice / consultancy services and importantly prepared to modify products for specific needs rather underpins why I have a room full of their gear.

    GIK’s latest Scopus range peaked my interest because it seemed to offer a good solution for my needs. As their marketing blurb reads “The GIK Acoustics Scopus Trap takes low end control to new level with maximum targeted absorption using a membrane design with an air tight chamber. Think of them like a drum in reverse. When you strike a drum, it makes a sound based on the mass of the head and the size and depth of the drum body. In the Scopus Trap, the sound strikes the ‘head’ and causes the membrane to move, absorbing the energy based on the mass of the membrane and the depth of the sealed cavity.



    Figure 1: GIK Scopus tuned trap design. Source: GIK website accessed Nov 2012


    The Scopus Traps come in 3 different options that cover a frequency range from 35Hz to 125Hz. Centre frequencies are 40Hz, 70Hz, and 100Hz. It is a perfect addition to rooms that already have broad band control, but are still require targeted control without absorbing above 125Hz. All of this in a package that is as thin as 10cm!”

    The T40, centred on 40Hz is advertised with an absorption range of 30Hz to 60Hz. Since my particular challenge was a 35Hz room mode I enquired whether the T40 could be modified to have a lower centre frequency? Yes, came back the prompt reply we already have a T38 model with the essential difference being it is 1 inch thicker than the T40. I ordered two units to try out thinking that if I could measure improvements I could subsequently order more.


    THE SCOPUS T38 IN ACTION

    Installed at the base of the rear wall the initial measurements were a disappointment. Using the high resolution mode of the XTZ Room Analyser II Pro, which focuses on the frequency range of 16-250Hz with 12 points per octave measure smoothing, the frequency response showed NO change at 35Hz, the peak being unchanged from the earlier arrangement with just the Monster trap in place. What had changed however was a reduction in the peaks at the F2 & F3 resonant modes.



    Photo 1: Initial rear wall configuration – GIK T38 to the left & right of listening chair with stand mounted GIK Monster trap in-between. Other panels visible in photo include GIK Tri-traps stacked in right corner, Vicoustic (Portugal) Multifusor DC2 2D diffusors on rear wall & Vicoustic Wavewood absorbers on left & right sidewalls.



    I fed the results back to GIK and they replied that first, 35Hz is a huge wave and therefore coverage is an important factor (read – more panels would be beneficial); second, the effect of the T38 would be felt more in decay times rather than frequency. GIK further noted that, “We have also found that keeping the units together rather than spread apart does a better job in both decay times and in frequency response – assuming that they are positioned at the location of the problem for frequency.”

    Taking the advice on-board I reconfigured the rear wall – joining together the T38’s at the base of the wall and sitting the Monster trap (centred) on top. The measurements of this configuration can be found below and show significantly improved decay times at and either side of 35Hz thereby demonstrating the efficacy of Scopus in the context of this small listening room.



    Graph 2: Spectrogram (2D Waterfall) shows much improved decay times




    Graph 3: 3D Waterfall (300ms/slice, 200ms duration, sliding CSD)


    SUMMARY

    Although it seems counter-intuitive, a device that traps low frequencies will in fact increase the amount of bass a room can produce. When the cancellations caused by standing waves are eliminated, or at least reduced, the most noticeable effect should be improved bass evenness, bass quality, and clarity from your loudspeakers.

    One of the most rewarding aspects of acoustical room analysis is that significant measured changes always translate to identifiable and meaningful audible changes. In my next update I will detail my observations on what was heard as a result of the reconfigurations as described in the preceding text.

  26. #26
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    November 26, 2012



    ducati88;176077 wrote: WOW! Holy smoke, you are clearly passionate about obtaining the best experience possible in reproducing music in your own home. Your thread is both exceptionally informative & inspirational.

    I have recently been party to the bigger, better more $$$ phenomenon you refer to re; gear upgrades & room accoustic negligence. A good mate (& now business partner, as we are importing Legacy Audio speakers & AVM components) has a nice collection of HiFi components (Stradavari speakers, Pass Labs 350.5 & ALOT of other tasty pieces) that express his absolute love of music. We have experimented with alot of cables & various component cocktails with some mixed results. However, recently he added a false rear wall that was heavilly braced, that acts as an air gap. The difference was more than noticeable. I was gobsmacked to be honest! For just under $1000.

    I am selling my current house, & am designing my new home that will have a dedicated listening room of 6m by 10m (the Whisper XDs will need it) in the new build. Dont get me wrong, I am not wealthy & the total build will be around $200k with me doing a fair amount of the graft.

    Your thread is the most informative & importantly for a relative novice, comprehensible I have found to date.

    Many thanks for your time & effort in posting & sharing your knowledge & experience with those of a like mind.

    Many thanks for your kind words.

    It is important to note that I am not an expert in acoustics and I’d rather hope that my approach to the subject – not to mention the odd reversal of previously reached conclusions – amply demonstrates this.

    Perhaps the single most important lesson I’ve learned by direct experience is that the stereophonic reproduction of music within our homes, with all its elements and interconnections, represents a complex system and therefore we cannot fully understand it and we cannot always predict its behaviour. Of course we can interact with complex systems very successfully. We do it all the time. But we do it by managing them, not by claiming to understand them. This threadblog then is neither a text book nor tutorial; it falls well short of such standards; rather, it is my personal record of interactions. I do something, wait for a response, and then do something else in an effort to get a different result. This endless iterative interaction acknowledges I don’t know for sure what the system will do – I have to wait, observe (measure & listen) and finally scribe for future reference.

    I am of course delighted that readers are seeing value in this work. That was the objective, to make a contribution for the benefit of others.

    I’ll close with the following thought which I think speaks to your experience. Many audiophiles are not aware of how badly their room damages sound quality. No matter how much one has paid for their loudspeakers, amplifiers and source and regardless of their published specifications, as soon as you put them into a typical living / listening room they will exhibit a horribly skewed frequency response. Without some form of correction, much of the sonic benefit therefore derived from more expensive hardware can to a large extent be masked by poor room acoustics.

  27. #27
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    December 18, 2012



    Lost & Found – And the Genesis of my new loudspeakers


    Lost. Of all the components in your audio system, the loudspeakers job is by far the most difficult. The loudspeakers drivers must not only reproduce the sound of all instruments – but do so in a fashion that is convincing and real.

    A fellow audiophile, Craig F, once opined that loudspeakers “were the keepers of music.” I liked that intellectual proposition so much that I have since – and quite vocally – claimed it as my own. If the predominate influencer and guardianship of music is the loudspeaker, then it becomes obvious where the lion’s share of your audio system spend should go.



    Figure 1: One possible idea of spending priorities for Stereo HiFi System





    The world unfortunately is full of dreadful loudspeakers. I know this because I’ve owned some. But to circle back to Craig’s observation I think the key sign that a loudspeaker will provide long term satisfaction – assuming it is right for your room and musical taste and importantly amplifier matched – is that if during audition and thereafter you find yourself enjoying the music so much that you are not thinking about loudspeakers at all.

    Such has been the happy experience had with Raidho Acoustics over-achieving C-1.0 reference monitor. Despite ownership of some near full range floor standing dynamic speakers (Nola’s), not to mention some 2m high electrostatic speakers – it was the Raidhos that I listened most too. From the upper bass to the treble the Raidho C-1.0 were the most finely detailed loudspeakers I’ve ever auditioned (at least until the C-1.1 came along) and I place much of that down to the exemplary drivers – a planar magnetic tweeter and ceramic mid/bass woofer. It clearly helped that combination of high resolution tweeter with an extremely fast Mid/Bass driver was ideal for my small listening room – but in the finish the greatest praise I could bestow on these speakers was not the technology but the sense that they got you closer to the musicians than any other small speaker I’ve heard. With the right music these speakers ‘kicked the audio ball’ well past the mere delivery of music – onward to the higher emotional meaning of the musical message itself and this was delivered with uncanny ‘quietness’ and goose-bumps the size of golf balls.





    Photo 1: Raidho Acoustics C-1.0 loudspeakers



    So what were the kickers? There are two – both of which should be obvious; bass extension and peak loudness. The bass extension on the C-1.0 was impressive, so impressive in fact that one could easily believe that the C-1.0 was a large full range floor standing design. At reasonable power under room loaded conditions there is enough weight down to 36 Hz to be quite convincing. There is no low pass filter on the C-1.0 so it will even attempt lower frequencies if contained in the programme material. Second, there were instances with some material, particularly big movie scores and some classical works where the speaker was hitting its peak loudness limits. While instances of these kickers were rare it was still enough to ruminate on that most expensive of questions – what if?


    Found. A visit to Singapore by Lars Kristensen, front man of Raidho Acoustics concluded in a decision to exchange contemplation for action. Lars in his usual energetic and affable nature ‘suggested’ that I might like to try Raidho’s new D-Series speakers which are to be officially launched at CES (January 2013). I was unsuccessful in saying NO to that suggestion and what will follow over the coming weeks and months will be my thoughts on Raidho’s new D-2 loudspeaker. For now, please enjoy the photos.





    Photo 1: Raidho speakers – waiting to be revealed





    Photo 2: Speakers standing on its head, awaiting attachment of the base





    Photo 3: Unique resonance control footers at base of Raidho D-2





    Photo 4: Protection for the Planar Magnetic tweeter





    Photo 5: Wired up with Nordost Resonators. The Raidho D-2 uses Nordost cabling internally





    Photo 6: Upright and ready for action





    Photo 7: In temporary position for 250 hours of burn in. The Raidhos like to be spaced as far apart as possible (irrespective of side walls) and toed into the listening position. Recommended seating is also near field.



  28. #28
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    January 6, 2013



    “D” is for Dissonance


    The Life of an audiophile is full of choices. Should I upgrade the loudspeakers? If so, should the amplifier be upgraded at the same time? What loudspeaker brand should I choose? Would Floor stand or stand mount speakers be more appropriate? If I choose floor stand speakers will they be too much for my room? Will I need to invest in acoustic room treatment to dampen the bass boom generated by the large woofers in floor stand speakers? Where should I buy the speakers from? Should I choice a speaker with a finish that matches the furniture?…. Rarely do we face a situation in which one option is without a doubt the only reasonable choice. Most choices have pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, benefits as well as costs. Once we make a choice, however, we accept the disadvantages of that option and give up the advantages of other, unchosen, options. Realization of these consequences leads to incongruity that arises after we make a decision: I chose option A, which has drawbacks; I rejected Option B, which had its own benefits.

    Thus, post-decisional dilemmas are a form of regret, a worry that perhaps we didn’t make the best choice.

    As psychological theory recounts, buyer’s remorse is an example of post decision dissonance, where a person is stressed by a made decision and seeks to decrease their discomfort. We are told that there are four ways to reduce the dissonance that comes from making a decision: revoke the decision, increase the attractiveness of the chosen alternative, decrease the attractiveness of the unchosen option, or reduce the importance of the decision. One common way that audiophiles seek to reduce the dissonance is do both the second and third options, that is, make the chosen alternative look better and the unchosen option look worse and I believe audio forums conveniently serve to that end. How so? Well Dissonance Theory predicts that people will try to avoid exposure to information that they suspect may arose dissonance (and unpleasant motivating state) and they may seek out information that is consonant, or consistent, with their attitudes. Once a purchase is made we have a tendency to seek out consonant information and avoid dissonant information. We seek affirmation that our choice, whether it be X brand of amplifier or Y model of DAC etc. was the right one and audio forums serve that purpose well. Fellow owners of X brand of amplifier or Y brand of DAC are bound to congratulate you on your outstanding and prudent buying decision and be equally quick to rubbish the alternatives.

    Why the preface on post decision dissonance? Well, if it is not obvious allow me to clue you in – I was in that unhappy place of buyer’s remorse during the first week of ownership of my new loudspeakers, the Raidho Acoustic D-2’s. It was not that the loudspeakers were in any glaring way bad – far from it – it was simply that a gap existed between what I expected from the speakers and how I initially perceived them and this left me wondering whether I should have purchased them or not?

    In my next update I will highlight some of the triggers for the dissonance and how this is being ameliorated.

  29. #29
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce View Post
    Wow! Incredible perfection and dedication-- we are humbled keep up the good work!

    Glad you got rid of those Nolas--they are over hyped-- sorry HP!

    B

    Hi and Thanks Bruce.

    The Nola Contenders did not work for me at all. I can't recall flicking any pair of speakers quicker!

    I have listened / auditioned other products in the Nola range. The Nola KO's and Micro Grand Reference gold were far more to my liking though not compelling enough to replace my Raidhos.

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    January 27, 2013



    Initial Impressions on the Raidho D-2 Loudspeaker


    In this update I provide my initial observations on Raidho’s new D-2 loudspeaker. These observations are made during the first 50 hours of burn-in. Raidho recommend 250 hours of burn in so caution needs to be applied in interpreting initial findings. Where practical I compare the D-2 to the stand mount Raidho C-1.0 which I have owned for several years and to other comparable loudspeakers I have recently auditioned including Magico’s Q1 and S5 and Martin Coltranes. The update will pass initial comments on the Raidho design and follow this with listening observations.



    Photo 1: The Raidho D-2 in my listening room


    DESIGN

    Cosmetically similar the Sonus Faber Venere 2.5 and with similar technical specifications, the D-2, like the C-2.0 and C-2.1 is a 2.5-way design, meaning that its top two drivers, a 1” sealed-back ribbon tweeter and a 4.5” midrange-woofer, are basically configured like a standard two-way aka C-1.0. The difference is that the D-2’s third driver – the bottom woofer – augments the bass response of the midrange-woofer above it below 180Hz. This 2.5-way configuration is increasingly popular in compact floor standers because it retains most of the simplicity of a two-way crossover while adding more bass and power handling than a single-woofer design could provide. The drivers are wired in series and the unwanted frequencies are then diverted around the driver by the crossover components. Raidho believe the series arrangement offers the advantage that in the crossover region the drivers are fed the exact same current and this is believed to keep the phase response stable under dynamic loads which is surely important to consistent character and stable acoustic image.

    The D-series carries the same tweeter as the earlier generation .1 series, but outside of this and the obvious physical cosmetic similarity virtually all other electrical components are changed. The most visually vivid change is the colour of the woofers which evolve from an appealing – at least in the author’s eyes – white to a less appealing grey colour. The woofer colour change is directly related to the carbon layer applied on top of the ceramic woofer cone – the essential differentiating feature of the D-series from the C-series. Other design changes incorporated into the D-series include a newly designed cross-over board with for the first time the use of Raidho in-house components, new resonators and upgraded internal cabling. The price increase is steep being 50%, reflecting perhaps the purported use of diamond on the speaker cones.


    THE SOUND

    Before discussing the sound I think it worthwhile to broach placement, if for no other reason than to point out that I did not put a lot of effort into the placement for the burn in period and as such further effort in this arena may deliver superior sonic results at a later date. What was immediate obvious is that the D-2 was no different to the earlier generation speakers preferring to be placed some distance from the front wall, parked relatively close to sidewalls (to increase their distance apart), aimed to the shoulders and set for near (ish) field listening. Such an arrangement I must say suits me perfectly because I find it psychologically beneficial that depth of soundstage is aided by the impression of depth created by having loudspeakers placed some distance from the front wall. Yes, I tried the Raidho’s at just 1ft and 3ft from the front wall and frankly hated the result which amounted to a perceptively and audibly flat canvas which significantly diluted one of Raidho’s key strengths – the ability to create a massive and lifelike sound stage. Moreover, close placement of the speakers to the front wall added physicality and weight to the bass (and no doubt room boom in poorly treated rooms) which is simply neither wanted nor needed.

    Let’s start with the overall sound of these speakers which by in large completely replicates the essential qualities of the Raidho C-series. The D-2 exhibits simply unbelievable openness, transparency and stunning scale. Instruments come to life in vivid colour, realistic scale and tonality, and in correct sound-field placement. Like the C-1.0, the sound totally defies their size with dynamic abilities that at times were almost startling. With the C-1.0 the upper bass and lower midrange were so alive and of such high quality that one seldom missed their low bass deficiencies but the D-2 offers the complete package including reproduction of deep bass.

    Breaking down the overall sound into the usual audiophile descriptors sees the delivery of somewhat mixed results and for this particular update I will focus on two areas, resolution and bass; and use a subsequent update to illuminate other traits of the speaker.


    RESOLUTION

    Starting first with outright resolution the Raidho D-2 like the .1 C-Series simply shines. Coming straight to the point – I have not heard any box speaker that resolves and reproduces more detail than the Raidho’s do. Not even Magico, arguably Raidho’s nearest competitor in the low coloration stakes can match the Raidho’s ability to reproduce fine detail. Having heard the Q1, S5 and Q7 I find the Magico domes good, very good even, but ultimately are outclassed by the much larger and more lightweight surface area of the Raidho planar magnetic tweeter – a feat which is all the more impressive because the Raidho tweeter is sans midrange overemphasis, sibilance or edginess. One of my favourite tests for resolution is a recording error in Patty Griffin’s “Someone Else’s Tomorrow” (Patty Griffin, Children Running Through, ATO Records – ATO0036) where high resolution systems will reveal two recordings being played back, the title track plus another country genre piece at low level but distinct enough to identify it as a different female artist to Griffin!




    Figure 1: How high-res is your system? A test track from this album will tell you.



    Clearly unintentional and perhaps a result of stray pickup or crosstalk during the recording process the clear delineation of the error is rarely reproduced well on anything other than large electrostatic speakers and while the Raidho does not best a well-engineered ESL it certainly betters conventional drivers I’ve heard from the likes of Accuton and Morel.

    What is more, the D-Series surpasses even the lofty resolving heights of the C-series in that the D-series provides an even blacker background to musical proceedings. Courtesy of the diamond woofers (no doubt) the noise floor of D-Series is Kilo Class submarine impressive – utterly quiet and undetectable and this serves not only to improve dynamic range – but to assist in illuminating even the smallest of micro-detail bringing us closer to the fabled ‘absolute sound’. To expand further, there is no more telling instrument about the sound of speakers than a piano. The sound of the piano on the D-2 was coherent from top to bottom. While I have long loved the sound of the Piano I have frequently concluded that its reproduction is best served by valve amplification; either pre and power or integrated. While solid state does a fine job in the percussive element, notably the leading edge of piano notes – the reproduction of the notes body and tail is where valve electronics really seem to shine. Perhaps this has something to do with harmonics – I don’t know and here is not the space to postulate. Yet, with the D-2’s hooked up to my steadfastly solid-state Sanders Magtech power amplifier immediately impressed me with its uncanny ability to let voices and piano breathe. For example in Taylor’s ‘Chimes at Midnight’ (Allan Taylor, Old friends – New roads, Stockfisch Records – SFR 357.6047.2) a song of no regrets written in a hotel room in Essen Germany, the grand piano notes just seemed to float. It was almost as if the notes were momentarily suspended in the air until they decayed naturally.




    Figure 2: A piano or guitar, a male voice and another outstanding Stockfisch recording



    Further, the weight of each piano note seems so precise and its placement so clear that the fragile relationship between Taylors gruff ‘Knopfleresque’ vocals and the instrumental underpinning is beautifully preserved and with it the full emotional weight and sense of Taylors loneliness as a travelling troubadour.

    I have always believed that resolution is important and that there really is no such thing as too much information at least not in terms of detail itself, but perhaps more in terms of what the loudspeaker can and can’t do with it – and just how obvious that becomes. The Raidho’s class leading resolution was further cemented in my mind again in Taylor’s “Chimes at Midnight” where simply incredible amounts of subtle reverberant and ambient detail were reproduced providing all the cues necessary to reveal the complete acoustic space.


    BASS

    The bass of the Raidho D-2 speakers simply defies reason. No, they don’t deliver much visceral punch to the listeners stomach and if that’s your calling then large Wilsons or Rockport’s are the ticket – rather they deliver extraordinary bass definition. These speakers nail the pitch, texture, and palpable feel (rather than punch) of bass with rare precision. Truly deep bass, that is under 30Hz, is not expected of these speakers and yet under test in my listening room using a Nordost Test CD (Nordost Corporation, “System Set-up & Tuning Disc”, CD NOR TD1), the D-2 was able to reproduce a low frequency test tone at 21Hz with a creditworthy 93dB (c-weighted) measured at the listening chair. This increases to over 100dB at 30Hz. When Raidho release the technical specifications of the D-2 [they have not done so at time of writing] I expect that they will leave the “Technical Information” unchanged from the C-2, that is, a frequency response of 40Hz-50KHz. If so, the specification should be taken with a pinch of salt because in-room performance is very different. My experience with the C-1.0, a loudspeaker you may recall with a claimed frequency response of 50Hz-50KHz, was that it was quite capable of reproducing notes at 35Hz and with startling amplitude – the Danes its seems are the masters the understatement….

    The D-2’s bottom-end is fast, very nimble, and accurate with a leading edge that was as good as I have heard from any speaker at any price. They let you hear the snap of a fast drum as well as the finger work on a stand-up bass and they really shine in large scale acoustic orchestral pieces. Case in point is the score to the HBO mini-series “The Pacific” (The Pacific, Music from the HBO Miniseries, Rhino Entertainment – 8122-79810-9) where the Hans Zimmer inspired opening soundtrack “Honour” is at once both solemn and technically demanding. The music starts slowly at first with barely audible random strings accompanied by a muted French horn and the background boom of the kettle drums reminiscent of cannons firing from battleships.




    Figure 3: Hans Zimmer produces another woofer exercise tool….



    Played in adagio the opening strings set a solemn and sombre mood, building cadence towards a soaring crescendo marked by the explosion of percussions dominated by clashing cymbals. Many loudspeakers are unable to manage this track particularly as it reaches its climax. Certainly my Raidho C-1.0’s could not and neither could the marvellous Magico Q1’s – but this music played up a particular strength of the D-2 which is the low frequency extension of natural instruments, for example the fundamental tones of the bass, cello and harp.


    A SEED OF DISCONTENT

    While the reproduction of natural instruments clearly is a Raidho strength the same unfortunately cannot be said for heavy processed material typical of complex synthesizer arrangements found in electronic pop. To give a couple of examples, in the 2009 live recording of “Vienna” by Ultravox at the legendary Roundhouse in London (Ultravox, “Return to Eden”, Chrysalis, 632 0532) the center mid bass woofer of the D-2 is quite easily bottomed out by the bass synth leading up to and during the tracks climax. The D-2 beautifully tracks the dynamic contours produced by the synthesizers (there are three active in this track) but hits clear limits mid song requiring the concert level volume to be attenuated. Similarly, in “Los” by German industrial metal band Rammstien (Rammstien, “Reise, Reise”, Universal, 06024 9868150) the blend of pulsing acoustic guitar in drop C tuning and incessant bass beat are again too much for the centre mid/woofer to manage at loud listening level. In all of this I should point out the bottom woofer which is responsible for the energy in lowest octaves remained bulletproof.




    Figure 4: Industrial metal, not standard audiophile fair – but good systems shrink at nothing



    Of course, when designing speakers there will always be compromises, on one side you want the speaker to perform well at the deepest notes and you want the ultimate in speed and transient capability and on the other side you also want exceptional power handling, two poles that work against each other. When designing the D-2 Raidho have clearly tuned the low frequency extension to work best with natural instruments and this means with too heavy processed material the speaker may run into their limitation as observed above. That said, I can’t help but feel that further design optimization is needed – though I stress here again that these observations are made during the first 50 hours of break in and the possibility remains of improved low frequency performance with changes in driver suspension compliance.

    The seed of discontent felt more like a winter of discontent earlier this month when I penned “D is for Dissonance”. I was in the unhappy place of buyer’s remorse during the first week of ownership precisely because of the gap between expectation and initial perceptions in bass performance. I expect loudspeakers priced as these ones are to be good all-rounders, that is, capable of loud reproduction of all music genres – and we remain somewhat short of that benchmark at time of writing.


    IN CLOSING

    I have much more to say about the Raidho D-2 loudspeaker including its sound staging and imaging; musicality; realism; areas of clear superiority over the Raidho C-Series and the demands the loudspeaker places on amplification. Stay tuned.



    .

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    February 24, 2013



    Initial Impressions on the Raidho D-2 Loudspeaker – Part II


    In this update I provide further observations on Raidho’s new D-2 loudspeaker. These observations are made with around 100 hours of burn-in. Raidho recommend 250 hours of burn in so caution needs to be applied in interpreting initial findings. Where practical I compare the D-2 to the stand mount Raidho C-1.0 which I have owned for several years and to other models of the C-series, notably the C-1.1 and C-3.1 which I have also auditioned.

    I have been contacted by a number of Raidho owners who are essentially interested in how the D-series differs sonically from the C-series and so this update particularly focuses on addressing that question. Readers interested in the topic might also what refer back to my initial comments (see earlier in the thread) were I also scribe some observations on the subject.


    BLACK IS THE COLOUR (OF MY TRUE LOVE’s HAIR)

    Though it is not an entry in the well-known Stereophile Audio Glossary (Stereophile, July 1993, Holt., G) the term ‘black’ is nonetheless a descriptive subjective term frequently drawn upon. For example in a 2008 review of the Raidho C-1.0 written by Chris Thomas (HIFI+, Issue 60) Chris notes;


    “Resolving the subtleties of phrasing is one major area that separates great systems from good systems. These realisations are certainly not the sole responsibility of the speaker, and you’ll also need the right electronics and installation if you want to explore this aspect of music, but few designs are sensitive to the subtleties of these shifts as this Eben. This is due, in part, to the speakers’ uncanny quietness. Low noise floors are usually applied to electronics but the C1 has an inky black quality to its backgrounds that leave the music sounding even more vivid and colourful. There is no other speaker of this size, in my experience, that comes close to being able to show tonal colour with anything like this complexity and texture.”


    Blackness then is a term of imagery, drawn upon by audio reviewers to describe a lack of noise, often in the context of the backdrop or background of a reproduced performance. But like so many subjective audio terms it can have more than one meaning or at least be expanded to be used in a somewhat different context. This is amply demonstrated in a comment made by the great Austrian classical pianist Schnabel who once quipped


    “The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes—ah, that is where the art resides.”


    If indeed “Music is the silence between the notes” as Claude Debussy famously maintains then blackness is not merely the absence of unplanned, extraneous and unwanted noise that can potentially veil otherwise good recordings, it is also very much the planned and orchestrated silence between notes. Music itself is a structure of sound and silence in that music inherently depends on silence in some form or another to distinguish other periods of sound and allow dynamics, melodies and rhythms to have greater impact. For example, most music scores feature rests denoting periods of silence and musicians’ are taught and reminded often how important the rests are in the music.

    Everything emanates from silence and reflecting upon this I think it behoves us when creating an outstanding audio reproduction system to consider first, how to eliminate extraneous noise (and here a quiet music room among other things is real blessing) and second, how to select products that introduce the least amount of noise and are agile enough to respond quickly to silence in any recording.


    THE ADVANCE OF THE D-SERIES

    The relevance of all of this finds it feet as the pivotal background in what I understand – and hear – to be the key difference between the Raidho C-Series and the Raidho D-Series and for that matter how the Raidho D-series differentiates itself from competitors such as Magico, Marten and Estelon. Blackness. The D-series manages to exceed even the C-series already exalted levels of quietness. How it does this I cannot be sure – but there is an odds on chance it comes down to two changes in product design. The first and most visible being the diamond coated woofers; the second and completely invisible being the incorporation of Sparkz coil technology designed on concert (I believe) with sister concern Ansuz Acoustics. Exactly how these changes work I don’t understand and won’t even attempt to address here. What I do understand after passing my reference tracks through a C-3.1 and not to mention by beloved C-1.0 is that listening to the more expensive D-series you can hear much further into the timbral identity of the instruments. This could be important because US studies (note 1) have shown that perception of emotion conveyed by a melody is affected by the identity or timbre of the musical instrument on which it is played.

    Moreover, with increased blackness comes an obvious gain in transparency and solidity of images. The D-2 images better than even the C-3.1 which has the benefit of a dedicated mid-range driver. The result rewards the soundstage which becomes more defined and stable. The improved definition which ‘blackness’ aids not only improves the leading edge of notes but also their harmonic envelopment and decay. Hand in hand with this a dramatic increase in low level resolution produces music that is full of immediacy, presence, communication and sophistication.

    To cite two examples; in Sade’s “morning bird” (Sade, Soldier of Love, Sony, 8697-63933-2) the opening piano key strokes come across wonderfully weighted as does the delicate metallic shimmer of the percussion. Referencing my earlier comments on timbre; very much in evidence here is not only the instrumental signatures but how my senses immediately respond to them – in particular the mournfulness of the cello and the seeming desolation and silent pain of the piano.




    Figure 1: If this album doesn’t move you – you might have thick skin or a thin stereo system…



    Also in evidence here is another earlier made point about how music is a structure of sound and silence. In “Morning Bird” the long rests between piano strikes create tension, intensity and a feeling of sparseness – precisely the backdrop the composer intended in order to build and sustain an atmosphere complimentary to the lyrics.


    In a similar vein Allan Taylors “Scotty” (Allan Taylor, Colour to the Moon, Stockfisch, SFR 357.6021.2) is another example of “black”. Scotty is a poem put to music – purposed as eulogy to a dear friend. The silence between the notes in this instance communicates respectful meditation and reflective thoughts on the value of life and the separation of death. Blackness here leads to increased definition of individual notes which has clear temporal as well as spatial implications because it becomes vivid where individual notes start, how long they are sustained, the relationship between the notes and how the musicians place them. This in a nutshell leads to increased perceptions of realism because of the direct insight into the chemistry of the performance and the interplay of the musicians.



    Figure 2: And if this album’s “Scotty” doesn’t move you – call your audio dealer immediately



    I understand that some readers may well heckle at all this precision – wondering whether this ability to lie bare the threads and sounds that constitute a piece of music come with a compromise – a lack of musicality. To my ears this is not the case with the Raidho where this wonderful detail, built on a foundation of blackness enriches the listening experience. Indeed one hears great detail, but this detail is in the service of the music as opposed to being an end in itself. What gets me hooked as a listener is not just the lyrics – as powerful they may be – but the stillness of the atmosphere in which the lyrics reside and what the music continues to message to me long after the stereo system is turned off.


    In this respect I have long believed that audio equipment reviewers have got it all wrong. They spill thousands of words about what a product sounds like during a marathon audition. Little do they realise that their audio reviews would be more effectual if they spent more time illuminating on what stuck with them after the system was turned off rather than concentrating entirely on what they heard when it was turned on…..



    CONCLUSION

    All of this is a roundabout way to lead me to the key point I wish to conclude upon – and that is music should be about emotion and engagement and the Raidho has it in spades. Unfortunately too many speaker designs today succeed in subtracting the life and purpose from the music leaving it thin and emasculated, much admired in some quarters but ultimately little loved. With Raidho speakers in general, and the Raidho D-2 in particular, what is there is what you get, which means it makes the most of what ever music you choose to play. The litmus test of a fine loudspeaker for me is what happens when the music stops. Why? Because that is time to reflect upon what the music has witnessed to you and what sticks with you at the end of the performance. If the answer is nothing then that’s what I think of the stereo system.



    References:
    Note 1 see It's not what you play, it's how you play it: Timbre affects perception of emotion in music


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    Re: Music from a farther room

    March 3, 2013




    Audio Room Acoustics – Update 10



    This update is a continuation of my thoughts and experiments in setting up a good listening environment within the confines of a small listening room measuring 5m x 3m x 2.8m (L,W,H).

    The introduction of a new loudspeaker (the Raidho Acoustics D-2) has given the opportunity to re-explore options for rear wall treatment. I was particularly curious whether the increased bass output of the D-2 meant I could remove the broadband GIK bass trap that stood directly behind my listening chair (located there to provide bass reinforcement and protect the ears and soundstage from rear wall reflections) and whether this bass trap could be replaced by diffusion at ear height and above?

    The only way to find out is of course to try.


    In applying diffusion (in this instance 600mm x 600mm Vicoustic DC2 2D diffusor panels) across a much larger section of the rear wall I observed the following results:


    1. Reduced perceived volume at the listening chair. This I attribute to the reduction in rear wall reflections and also to the fact that 2D diffusions spreads sound both laterally as well as floor to ceiling.
    2. A greater sense of subtle musical envelopment at the listening chair. This is kind of like artificially creating a larger sense of room size and space than actually exists. This isn’t a night & day difference but more along the lines of being subtly pleasing. This is not to be confused with “surround sound” which I find un-natural, but rather the establishment of a more natural and diffuse sound field – which I often experience in live concerts and I expect to hear in the reproduction of live recordings in my listening room. This envelopment aids realism.
    3. Improved soundstage resolution, in particular increased micro-detail and ambient information. Hand in hand with this came improved tonal definition of instruments and the enhanced impression of being a larger more natural environment. I reason these results are due to reduced rear wall reflections which can impair accuracy and smear sound.



    Figure 1: Observations of rear wall diffusion





    Photo 1: Revised rear wall layout, GIK Scopus T38’s traps at bass and Vicoustic diffusor above


    The prerequisite for second point is that the listening chair is sufficient distance from the diffusor. Recall here that for the interferrence patterns to fully develop into a diffuse field, it is recommended that the minimum seating distance be three times the longest wavelength diffused. Vicoustic claim the onset of diffusion is 500Hz (I would suggest this doesn’t become meaningful until at least 700-800Hz) so this will require a minimum distance of approx. 1.5m.


    Overall is the above an advance? Absolutely!

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    May 12, 2013



    A New Digital Source


    CD’s we are told are all dead, killed by iTunes and MP3’s and the empire of Hi-Res non-physical media.

    Well, anorak adorned anachronism that I am, I am not listening and neither am I buying into the myth that CD is dead.
    Backing belief with action – I have just purchased a new CD Player – yes one of those ancient mechanical machines that spins silver discs…..

    And what about that CD is dead myth? Well for the record, since CD was released in the early 1980’s we have seen over 30 billion commercial discs and over 100 billion blank discs enter the market – and they are not all going doing to do a “Cinderella act” and disappear at the stroke of 12 midnight next evening….

    Moreover, despite some reports to the contrary, record labels have shown no desire to ditch the CD. The format still accounts for most sales revenue, and labels have been able to encourage the development of new digital business models while enjoying – though perhaps less reliant on – the considerable revenue CD sales provide.


    WHAT ABOUT COMPUTER AUDIO?

    Naturally I looked very closely at the status of computer audio before spending money on a mechanical spinner. I also looked very closely at my own needs for needs music reproduction – which are very much focused on the optimal playback of a collection of just over 1000 CD’s including 150 SACD’s. Finally, I also listened to a fair bit of computer audio hardware including Aurender and SOtM reference music servers coupled with state of the art DAC’s from Meitner and Antelope audio.

    My conclusion? Computer audio is not for me – at least not just yet. Too complicated, too many boxes, rapidly evolving technology and standards (check out the advance of the Lumin Network music player as an example) and at the end of it, a sonic result that hardly betters a dedicated CDP for Red & ScarletBook reproduction. Indeed, on important determinants such as musicality and engagement I’ve found computer audio compromised.


    AN ESOTERIC SOLUTION

    The search for a replacement for my current CDP workhorse, the wonderful Cary Audio CD 306 SACD Professional version began in earnest some six months back when the ownership clock ticked over five years and Cary simultaneously ceased production of the model.




    Photo 1: Cary Audio CD 306 SACD Professional / CD Player



    The search was long and included the above-mentioned computer audio solutions together with best of breed CDP’s from Esoteric, Meitner and Playback Designs in the price range up to around US$11k.

    Interestingly, the Esoteric K-03 which I have since purchased was not the initial winner of my evaluation. I found the K-03, like its predecessor the X-03 (though less so) cool in musical presentation and whilst highly detailed and airy in the treble, it was also thin and somewhat lean in the mid-range. While the Esoteric had it over the Cary in terms of outright resolution, soundstage depth, bass the treble extension – the Cary produced warmer tones and greater mid-bass weight and sonic immediacy which I found more musical and engaging. Tweaking was necessary in order get the best from the Esoteric.




    Photo 2: Esoteric K-03 Digital Source Device / SACD / CD Player



    In my next update I will provide more details on the tweaks. They really were an eye and ear opener!

    Meanwhile I am sitting back in my red listening chair with my CD liner notes, pictures and credits. I just gotta have ‘um. (Yours – AAA )

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    May 22, 2013



    Lapierre;183262 wrote: Kiwi, Did you write up the difference in C1.1 and the new D1 in your audiogon thread?
    Notice I could not find the thread or your system. Anyway I will catch up on your thread since it’s been awhile.
    Lapierre

    Hi Lapierre,

    Nice to hear from you again, yes my Audiogon system page was taken down sometime back – the duplication being unwarranted.

    By way of overview, I think the Raidho C-1.1 and D-1 loudspeakers number along with the Magico Q1, the TAD CR-1 and the Sonus Faber Guarneri Evolution as the very best – money no object – stand mount loudspeakers available today.

    These stand mounts far exceed the performance of many floor standing speakers, I think in part due to the simplicity of cross-over design, their high quality of materials and directness of communication, their imaging abilities and attention to the reproduction of fine detail.

    As we have discussed previously the combination of planar tweeters with conventional cones, as in the case of the Raidhos, through problematic, when engineered well can lead to sublime results.

    Turning to your question – in a recent visit to Singapore by Raidho’s Chief Engineer, Michael Borresen, Michael demonstrated the key differences between the C-1.1 and the D-1. Before I get to that however, some context is in order. First, according to Michael, they are not able to measure any difference at all between the two speakers. All typical loudspeaker measures of frequency response, impedance, phase, sensitivity etc. and their inter-relationships are identical. On the basis of this one might imagine that there is no sonic difference between the two products – but myself and a dozen or so others at the demonstration clearly heard differences.




    Photo 1: Michael Borresen demonstrates how the D-1 audibly betters the C-1.1



    Second, the system used for the evaluation (C-1.1 vs. D-1) was not mine, but a dealers system, consisting of an Oppo Digital Inc. BDP-105 source, Ansuz cabling and a Devialet D-Premier amplifier in a dual mono configuration. I am not a fan of the D-Premier finding the amplifier a little on the dry side of things – but the global audio press seems to disagree with me.

    I labour to define the context because it is obviously less than ideal. I’ve heard Raidho speakers sounding far better in other partner equipment settings and furthermore any component comparison outside of one’s own system is dangerously disingenuous.

    So what did we hear? Well as accomplished as the Raidho C-1.1 is the D-1 audibly betters it most aspects, but for the purpose of this post I will focus on three determinants; realness, blackness and bass.

    Hunting for a single word I’d say the D-1 simply seems more “real”. Of course whether or not reproduction that closely approximates the “real thing” is ‘better’ is very much a matter of personal opinion. To be sure, not everyone is looking for the accuracy of reproduction which the Raidho’s seemingly deliver.

    If you have been reading my blog you will also see that I have commented quite extensively on “blackness”. Blackness is a term of imagery, drawn upon by audio reviewers to describe a lack of noise, often in the context of the backdrop or background of a reproduced performance. The term can also be used to consider the silence than can exist between notes. The Raidho C-1.0 and C-1.1 already exhibited an inky black quality to its backgrounds that left music sounding even more vivid and colourful and devoid of unwanted noise that can potentially veil otherwise good recordings – but incredibly the D-1 manages to advance the cause further.

    Finally and here is the rub, despite Raidho Acoustics not being able to measure differences in specification between the C and D-Series, observationally the D-1 produces much deeper bass coupled with superior bass definition and immediacy.




    Photo 2: The xx, an English indie pop (alternative rock) band; their first album went platinum in the UK



    This particular advance of D-Series was really bought home in one of the tracks Michael played on both speakers. That track was “Stars” from The xx’s 2009 album. At about 2 minutes and 46 seconds into the track one hears a deep bass note which should emanate from well behind the right speaker. How this bass note rises, sustains and decays is one possible measure sorting the men from the boys in loudspeaker design – assuming of course the mating amplifier is capable of delivering sufficient current without clipping.

  35. #35
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    July 28, 2013


    Craig F
    Participant


    Hi all,

    As I’ve had the pleasure of listening to kiwi’s system for a couple of hours on Friday I thought I’d add my thoughts on his system. The first thing that you notice is the room and the system setup. The rooms not big, as you’ve seen in the photos, and it’s possibly more dead that I would have thought optimal. The speakers are very close to the side walls and the listening position is pretty close to the speakers as well. Any of you with long memories will know that I had my system based around Audio Physic Tempo’s at one stage and they were close to the side wall and I was in the near field. That system is still the best I’ve experienced for enveloping me in the music so I wasn’t at all put off by what I saw in kiwi’s room. The speakers are beautiful to look at and appear very well built, which also goes for the electronics.

    Now to the listening. In the nicest way possible, it’s one of the least impressive hi-fi systems I’ve ever heard. After listening to a very wide range of music I didn’t come away impressed by the bass or the treble or the imaging or the sound-staging or the midrange or any specific part of the hi-fi checklist. What I did experience was possibly the most cohesive system I believe I’ve ever heard. This collection of boxes and cables makes music effortlessly, never drawing attention to the hi-fi and actually making it very difficult to put the hi-fi hat on and pull it to bits. And you know what, why bother pulling it to bits?

    From good recordings to bad, voice to orchestra, small groups to large, they all just magically appeared in front of me. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to some very, very impressive, expensive, well considered systems but none that I can think of convey the humanness of the recordings as well as kiwi’s. Obviously a great recording such as Steve Strauss on Stockfisch Records SACD was utterly incredible but equally a roughy that I like to throw at systems, Ben Vaughn’s “I dig your wig” sounded rough but the music just come flooding through. This is what a system should do – let you know when you’ve got a great recording but not spoil the music when you have a bad recording.

    I think kiwi has the balance bang on with his room treatments and this system. Despite my concerns about it being a touch dead when I walked into it, from what I heard the tops still sing and I didn’t come out of the session with the feeling that I do after listening in an overdamped environment. Quite the contrary, I came away from it feeling invigorated which is how it should be.

    All in all, I’m very happy to concur with kiwi’s comments on his room and system and for me, it’s one of the most enjoyable, musical systems I’ve had the pleasure to sit in front of.

    Cheers,
    Craig.

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    July 31, 2013



    Hi Craig,

    Thanks for the system review. One immediate fall out of your visit has been an expanded music collection with Ben Vaughn, Youn Sun Nah, Ian Moss and Christy Moore soon to join my library of music. Thank you for introducing me to these artists. Amazon.com would, I am sure, also like to pass on their thanks.


    Of your commentary, perhaps the most symbolic and personally significant to me, was your parting remark, “I came away from it feeling invigorated”. That is wonderful, because for the past few years my efforts in building the system have centred on an aspirational desire to respond to my hi-fi in the same way I respond to real live music. In this sense the ‘after effects’– that is, what happens when the music stops – are an important hallmark to me of progress in perceived realism. If I am animated and sweaty after a blast of Meat Loaf – that’s an authentication that things are as they should be.

    Cheers
    Ralph

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    August 10, 2013




    Initial Impressions on the Raidho D-2 Loudspeaker – Part III





    Photo 1: The Raidho Acoustics D-2 loudspeaker



    In this update I provide further observations on Raidho’s new D-2 loudspeaker. These observations are made with around 250 hours of running time on the clock. Three different digital sources were used including the Cary Audio CD306 SACD Professional version, the Esoteric K-03 CD & SACD & D/A convertor and the Playback Designs MPS-3 CD player.


    LOUDSPEAKERS – THE KEEPERS OF MUSIC

    I earlier opined (back in December 2012) and I’ll state it again – that in my opinion, of all the components in your audio system, the loudspeakers job is by far the most difficult. Further and perhaps more controversial, I also believe that loudspeakers are the largest determinant of overall sound quality. Of all the components of a modern audio system, the loudspeakers are easily and measurably the least perfect and therefore account for the widest variances in sound quality.

    Loudspeakers as my earlier thesis runs are the “keepers of music” and if we accept that they are the predominate influencer and guardian of music – then it becomes obvious where the lion’s share of your audio system spend should go.
    In my many years of being an audiophile I have owned some truly dreadful loudspeakers and this has led to a good deal of post-purchase reflective thought on how one should go about due diligence?

    In this particular update I will share with readers one particular test I like to administer on loudspeaker candidates. No, the audio test is not a panacea that will illuminate all that is ill with a loudspeaker and neither is it a guaranteed counteragent to poor purchasing decisions. Rather, take it for what it is – an indicator – a hint that should find collaboration and support with other determinants of value to the listener before a conclusion is drawn.

    With the above in mind, this update will specifically look into the loudspeakers sound-staging, layering and localization performance. Hand in hand with this I also endeavour to provide some thoughts on why sound-staging is important and detail the test I routinely undertake to assist in underpinning judgments I make on loudspeaker / sound system performance in this arena.

    For the purpose of this discussion and to ensure a common understanding on terminology used I turn to Stereophiles Audio Glossary (J. Gordon Holt, Stereophile, 1993) which defines each determinant as follows.


    Soundstaging is “The accuracy with which a reproducing system conveys audible information about the size, shape, and acoustical characteristics of the original recording space and the placement of the performers within it.”

    Layering is “The reproduction of depth and receding distance, which audibly places the rows of performers one behind the other.”

    localization in stereo reproduction is “The placement of phantom images in specific lateral positions across the soundstage.”

    Specificity is “The degree to which a phantom image exhibits a definite and unambiguous lateral position, without wander or excessive width.”

    Armed then with the definitions let’s begin by asking the question – why soundstage matters?


    SOUND-STAGE – WHY BOTHER?

    It’s often been said that a system is going to be a great all-around performer if it can do just three things well:
    1) Get the kick drum right
    2) Get the piano right
    3) Get female vocals right

    While few would argue that these determinants are easy or not important, my own evaluation of all round performance seems at first glance to be even more reductionist!

    The single fundamental question I find myself asking about any audio system is – does the system succeed in recreating the experience of a live band in my listening room, or perhaps more important and recording dependent, does the system transport me to some other acoustic space where the performance is taking place?

    It is about illusion. There is after all no method available today to reproduce the exact perception of attending a live performance. That leaves us with little else but the art of illusion.

    While the primary objective of a sound system is to enjoy the music, there is no question in my mind that a major step towards musical enjoyment in the home is the reproduction of a credible soundstage. This is easier said than done. A credible soundstage requires low time domain distortion – a real challenge when you consider that acoustical reflections from the floor, ceiling, walls, etc. of the listening room add another set of time and frequency domain distortions onto those already created by audio components, though with a very different signature in the time domain.

    I further find that listening to music while watching the hardware – physiologically demolishes the virtual environment that we have intent in establishing to further aid illusion. For this reason I am a strong proponent of not having your audio components staked up between your two loudspeakers.

    My experience and challenges thereof find support via an excellent article entitled The ABCs of Stereo Magic by Dick Olsher (January 2002) in which Mr. Olsher notes:


    “My personal conclusion is that the home hi-fi experience is distinct from that of live music. First of all, you can’t beat the illusion of being there when you are actually there. The combination of aural and visual cues, the sensation of being enveloped by sound, these are all unique to concert hall sound. It’s quite a trick, even for a high-end system, to transport the listener to a different space or, alternatively, to import a concert hall acoustic into your own living room. Bottom line: it’s all an illusion. Close your eyes, dim the lights, have a glass of wine, smoke your favorite herb – do whatever it takes to heighten the illusion. But in truth, there are no musicians arrayed between the speakers. Second, high-end audio has succumbed to a quest for heightened reality, with more detail, and greater focus than that of the real thing. I’ve yet to hear holographic imaging or pinpoint focus in a concert hall. The effect is partly an artefact of multi-mic, multi-track recording techniques, which generate extreme near-field recordings with artificially etched detail and jumbled perspectives. The quest for detail and focus at all costs has driven a wedge between audiophiles and music lovers. If you still value timbre and dynamic integrity above all else, count yourself as a music lover. If, on the other hand, you delight at the discovery of subtle noises such as lip smacking or foot tapping, previously buried in the mix, then take my word for it: you’re an incurable audiophile.

    In either case, something we all appreciate is a 3-D soundstage. Unfortunately, getting there is often a non-trivial task, made all the more difficult by the necessity of having to integrate a sound system into the confines of a domestic living room. It is critical at the outset to understand the limitations of two-channel or conventional stereo. Its major fault is that all of the sound, direct and reverb is presented from a plane between the speakers. Natural reverb, by its very nature, envelops the listener from all directions. The immediate impact of funneling reverb entirely through the right and left speakers is to place the listener’s perspective outside that of the venue, looking in through a window. Ironically, it is room reflections, whose role is often misunderstood by the average audiophile, that distribute ambient information more naturally in the listening room. The misguided motto of “the only good reflection is an absorbed one,” has driven too many of us toward heavy absorptive treatment of the wall surfaces immediately adjacent to and behind the speakers. The ultimate expression of this approach is the dead-end/live-end listening room. Although this makes some sense in a recording studio monitoring environment, it rarely works in a domestic environment. Try listening to a stereo recording in an anechoic chamber – an entirely echo-free acoustic. You’ll be surprised by the sterility of the presentation. In the case of two-channel audio, the room is not the enemy, but rather it must be used intelligently to achieve the most believable illusion of space. Incidentally, over half of the sound intensity at the listening seat in a typical domestic listening environment derives from room reflections.”


    What then might the ideal stereo soundstage look like? The ideal stereo soundstage for a large performing group will center the performers across an area between the loudspeakers, and will audibly separate the front rows from the receding rows i.e. layering. There should be continuity to the stage i.e. the stereo field should be spread and even with center filled. There should not be holes in the soundstage and neither should it feel bunched. Finally, there will be an awareness of the reflective boundary walls of the acoustic space behind and to the sides of the performers, and the spatiality of the hall itself will extend a considerable distance beyond the distance between the loudspeakers.

    For smaller performing groups each and every musician should have his and her own space, front to back, side to side, with specific boundaries, enough to qualify as ghostly, yet dimensional and specific enough that you must force yourself to resist the urge to get up from your listening chair to walk around the phantom images of the players….
    Of course, in both cases, the ideal can only be achieved from suitably miked recordings and as Mr. Olsher notes – it is the room or more pointedly the room acoustic design, including the placement and quality of the loudspeakers that hold most of the cards.

    Having discussed what a credible soundstage looks and feels like – it is now time to give an example.


    SOUND STAGE TEST

    John Rutter, Requiem, Reference Recordings RR-57CD, Track 7, Pie Jesu



    Figure 1: One of RR’s all-time best sellers.


    Recorded in Eugene McDermott Concert Hall at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Texas, using the High Definition Compatible Digital (HDCD) process the disk represents a terrific test of sound system dynamics, resolution and sound-staging. This arrangement consists of a piped organ augmented by harp, flute, oboe and cello and features a massed choir of around 300 and a solo soprano in the form of Nancy Keith.



    Photo 2: Eugene McDermott Concert Hall at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center


    Performed initially to a Three Four time signature in an Andante e dolce tempo we hear the opening pitch from a cello which is clearly located front stage, right of center. Two things should be immediately apparent. The first is the size of the hall / recording venue. The ambience is very dense and also apparent from the Cello’s slow and solemn opening chords is a very long decay time – which provides an audible cue to assist in defining hall size. You should be able to clearly hear reflections of the cello’s deep and resonate sound are mostly right side, with light reflections to the left and that’s how we can adjudge its location. The second thing which should be immediately apparent is your illusionary seating. It is evident you are seated near to the front, though this tends to only be apparent on high end systems. At around 3 seconds the cello is joined by a bright Oboe and this based on spatial information is located just right of center and a little deeper into the stage. This is then followed at around 7 seconds by a flute which is located left of center and at the same stage depth as the oboe. At around 17 seconds one hears the treble keys of the organ which again based on spatial information is located at the rear of the stage. At around 23 seconds one hears the voice of solo soprano Nancy Keith. Beyond sounding holographic, angelic, lifelike and uncoloured – the higher amplitude of the voice clearly excites the hall providing further hall size cues and clearly locating Nancy center stage, behind the flute and oboe. The cumulative ambient retrieval should now be sufficient to make a firm judgment on hall ceiling height in additional to other acoustic boundaries which opening instruments have already painted. At around 51 seconds pluck of the harp strings should be vivid along with its position which is far left of center and forward stage. At around 53 seconds earth seems to quietly rumble as the pipe organ has descended to its low registers (pedal C) performed with the bass pedal board. You should be feeling this and it should feel like earth has just opened up and you are now completely immersed in the sound in that the sound seems like it’s coming at you from all directions. At around 55 seconds the female section (Soprano’s & Altos) of the choir opens up followed by the warm tenors and basses 4 seconds later. The layered voices of the choir and their positions (see layout below) should be clearly delineated and some individual voices vividly demarcated – particularly several of the male voices on the far right of the choir which the recording captures some sibilance on. It is a hallmark of a fine system, in particular the speakers, to be able to discriminate individual voices and instrumental locations in the face of overwhelming bass bloom.



    Figure 1: Stereophonic location test – Can you vividly see this in your system?



    Given the amount of spatial / auditory scene information available in this recording, one should be able to close their eyes and “be there” and this for me rather underlies the importance of sound-staging. Further, if all is working as it should, your loudspeakers should have completely disappeared within the sound field and you should have been transported to the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas engrossed in this organ-predominant arrangement of the “Requiem”.


    SIDEBAR

    Owners of non HDCD decoder advanced compact disc players (i.e. Wadia / Esoteric / dCS / Meridian et. al.) wishing to use the above track as a reference to assess system sound may wish to turn off up-sampling if possible. Furthermore, advanced players should in my experience employ provisioned reconstruction filters like a Finite Impulse Response filter (FIR: a linear-phase digital low-pass filter) or an Apodizing filter as these tend to reduce some of the treble sizzle and sibilance. Most of the time I run my Esoteric wide open, sans digital filters and with maximum (4x) up-sampling – but not so for the above track. The Cary Audio player which incorporates HDCD decoder software sounded much better with this engaged.

    As an aside The Meyerson Symphony Center is home to a 4,535 pipe C.B. Fisk Opus 100 organ, known as the Lay Family Concert Organ. The organ is far from taxed in this recording. The Fisk’s 32ft Open Diapason low C has TWO pipes (producing 16Hz each!) for maximum Saint-Saëns!!


    THE RAIDHO D-2 PERFORMANCE IN THE ABOVE TEST

    So how did the Raidho D-2 perform? Well in a nutshell they produced the most transparent, spacious and spatially focused picture of the orchestra and hall that I’ve ever heard. Not only can each and every instrument be identified, localized and retain stability; their purpose and contribution simply make more sense. Importantly, while individual instruments have their own acoustic space and can be followed, this is not at the expense of a coherent space for all instruments.

    Perfection then – well no! My listening room is far from optimal for a reproduction of this scale. While the contribution of the Raidho loudspeakers was outstanding in aiding the perception of the auditory scene to override the perception of the listening room (thus creating the illusion of being elsewhere) the low frequency content of this program excites room modes which counter the otherwise fine effort the speakers make in illuminating the venue. The problem is easy enough to understand, namely, bass notes of around 150Hz and less in my listening room will decay more slowly than the original sound. Unfortunately, the solution to that problem remains elusive….

    Further, and to nitpick, there are specific determinants in which other loudspeakers better the Raidho. For example and for the above stated recording, I’ve heard large electrostatic speakers better the Raidho in terms of outright resolution and transparency and I’ve heard large 15 inch studio monitors from the like of TAD and Ocean Way provide more palpable deep bass, bass that can really be felt in ones bones! That kind of bass is not on the cards for the Raidho D2 and to the extent that low frequency content can be important to convince us we are in the presence of real live musicians – this is a demerit.


    SUMMARY

    Soundstaging is the accuracy with which a reproducing system conveys audible information about the size, shape, and acoustical characteristics of the original recording space and the placement of the performers within it. While the primary objective of a sound system is to enjoy the music, there is no question in my mind that a major step towards musical enjoyment in the home is the reproduction of a credible soundstage. Unfortunately, getting there is often a non-trivial task, made all the more difficult by the necessity of having to integrate a sound system into the confines of a domestic living room. Among other considerations, including time domain distortion, the quality and positioning of loudspeakers play a big hand in reproducing the rich spatial detail necessary for a credible soundscape and in this regard the Raidho D-2’s produced the most transparent, spacious and spatially focused picture of the orchestra and hall that I’ve ever heard during my usual sound stage test using Rutters Requiem.




    .

  38. #38
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    September 14, 2013



    Update on the Esoteric K-03


    It should be said right up front that the Esoteric’s strengths are formidable. Having now listened to many players at or around the same price point I strongly feel the Esoteric posts the deepest and best resolved bass. The bass is truly subterranean, no doubt helped by the players massive and multiple linear / terroidal power supplies and aided by the best transport in the business. The Esoterics ability to extract fine detail is also outstanding. While perhaps lacking the mid-range liquidity of Ed Mietners unique ring DAC implementation, its digital extraction on some great recordings; for example those of Stockfisch Records is so incisive that its possible to pick out that the acoustic environment in which the vocals were recorded, differ from that of the instrumental accompaniment. All of this is possible from Redbook mastered 16 bit/44.1 kHz recordings, a format many audiophiles decry as low-res, a-musical and anachronistic. Arguably the cold hard truth for audiophiles that subscribe to such a view is that the rest of their systems, most notably the loudspeakers and the influence of the listening room are not allowing them to get the best from and to hear all there is to hear from 16/44 recordings, let alone 24/192 ones. Done right 16/44 cooks with gas and properly implemented the Esoteric reminds us that standard Redbook is more than good enough; a good thing when you consider it is the only available format for a vast library of music. With Esoteric neutrality of playback is a given. There is no mid-range tickle or mid bass fat, you hear what is recorded sans third party editorial. In sum, the Esoteric for me has the characteristics of a perfect source – fabulous data mining, extraction and crunching combined with neutral delivery. If editing is needed, the source is not the place to do it – well that’s my long held view anyway.

    So what is the kicker?

    Well, by itself the Esoteric player is about as musically involving and sensorially enticing as a shower in acid rain and believe it or not the K-series is a significant improvement over the predecessor X-series. To my ears the Esoteric X-series was a bit lean and while the K-Series after significant run in corrects this – it by itself still fails to draw the listener in to the musical performance and evoke an emotional response to it.

    I stressed “by itself” twice above simply because we don’t hear components as individual constituents but as part of system and that system mercifully affords us multiple opportunities to tailor sound. In the case of the K-Series redemption was found by changing the CDP power cable from my usual Nordost “Valhalla” to Kubala Sosna “Emotion” (very appropriately named I might add) and exchanging my Gryphon integrated amplifier for a tube pre / solid state power combination and by leaving the CDP unit permanently powered up. I note that many owners of Esoteric players either use warm cabling systems and/or tube amplification – so I don’t feel like a lone reed in this instance.

    Moving forward I will live with the above combination for a while longer and then experiment further. Experiments however won’t be with the source but rather downstream with alternative amplification.

    There are many roads to the top of the mountain.

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    Re: Music from a farther room

    November 16, 2013



    4music;191504 wrote:
    [...] My experiences with power cords resemble yours, i.e. it looks that the power cable at least with the Raidhos is the most important cable in the system. I am currently experimenting with power cables (Ansuz P, Audience Au24SE, Nordost Odin, ASI Ref.) and vibration control, that seems to have a similar effect on my system as power cables.

    Hello again Tim,

    I would be interested to learn of any conclusions you draw from your experiments with different power cables.

    I agree vibration control is very important. Some call this resonance control – but my preferred term is mechanical earthing. My favoured solution for this presently is Nordost Sort Kones and yes their effect is profound.



    Photo 1: Sort TC, titanium post and base in combination with the ceramic coupling ball



    Sort Kones take a different approach from many other vibration control devices. Nordost believes that the most dangerous vibrations are those that originate inside the components. Transformers, power supply capacitors, DACs, transistors and tubes all produce vibrations, and these vibrations occur just where the delicate signal flows. Ideally we would provide a path to remove all these vibrations from the equipment. Rather than isolating the components from the rack, which is the approach taken most commonly, Sort Kones provide a direct path to remove vibrations from the components and route them into the supporting rack, shelf or floor. If we can channel the vibrations created within the components away from the other delicate electrical circuitry inside the components, we allow them to perform optimally – or so one theory at least goes…

    Over the years I have tried many different resonance control solutions – but the Sort TC Kones have been the best I’ve tried to date in my system.

  40. #40
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    November 29, 2013



    Audio is a science but there are many aspects of audio which science simply can’t measure.

    In spite of its many capabilities, science cannot describe music. The crude notes on a sheet of music provide a basic description to a musician, but science has no technical measures for the evocative elements of a good tune or good musicianship.

    While the simple fact remains that without science, there would be no audio, as we know it – it is also fact that the melodies and rhythms of music, the nuances of tone and inflection of instruments and voices, the emotive effects of sometimes subtle, sometimes explosive, sound effects in movies … are aspects of art for which there are no scientific or technical measures.

    Whatever ones position is on the uneasy relationship between many audiophiles and science – products will continue to be developed by adventurous manufacturers which further strain whatever bonds that remain between those that predominantly view audio as a science and those that see it as an art.

    One recent example of such a product is photographed below. This folks is Ansuz Acoustics (of Denmark) Sparkz sound enhancer. Don’t worry, I am not going to start a discussion on Scalar fields or Tesla coils – which this product is said to embrace – rather I am simply going to have a listen and that is harmless right?



    Photo 1: The Ansuz Acoustics Sparkz TC “Sound Enhancer”



  41. #41
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    You did a tremendously awesome job with this thread kiwi; thanx a whole bunch!

    I'll have to revisit it in order to digest all of it.
    ~ Bob ~
    "And it Stoned me to my Soul" Van Morrison
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    Re: Music from a farther room




    A new day has come









    As the calendar flips into 2014 it brings with it great change, both personally and professionally.


    On the audio front I am about to embark on the most exciting project yet – a brand new audio room, which will represent the culmination of everything I’ve learned over the past three years tinkering with acoustic treatments in my previous audio room, combined with the introduction of a host of new audio ancillaries.

    What is good can always be improved. My next room [at a new house] will be very different indeed in terms of philosophy and construct. It is going to take about sixteen weeks to put together and I can hardly wait.
    Borresen Acoustics Loudspeakers, Borresen Model 01 Compact monitor loudspeakers with Ansuz Darkz T2s Supreme resonance control, Audio Video Manufaktur GmbH (AVM) Inspiration amplifier & streamer, Innuos Zen MKII music server, Ansuz Acoustics cables & accessories. Please visit my system thread hosted on Audioshark for more details. Disclosure: The author is materially connected to Ansuz, Aavik & Borresen Acoustics via friendship with an owner.

  43. #43
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    I love your perfect attitude in a less than perfect world. ...And that picture is so peaceful and relaxing.
    ~ Bob ~
    "And it Stoned me to my Soul" Van Morrison
    ClickAudiophile Audition
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  44. #44
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    Quote Originally Posted by NorthStar View Post
    You did a tremendously awesome job with this thread kiwi; thanx a whole bunch!

    I'll have to revisit it in order to digest all of it.

    Thanks Bob!

    I have learned a tremendous amount through reading forum and blog postings by experienced audiophiles. This is my contribution back to the hobby.
    Borresen Acoustics Loudspeakers, Borresen Model 01 Compact monitor loudspeakers with Ansuz Darkz T2s Supreme resonance control, Audio Video Manufaktur GmbH (AVM) Inspiration amplifier & streamer, Innuos Zen MKII music server, Ansuz Acoustics cables & accessories. Please visit my system thread hosted on Audioshark for more details. Disclosure: The author is materially connected to Ansuz, Aavik & Borresen Acoustics via friendship with an owner.

  45. #45
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    Ralph - this was an absolutely fascinating read. So good in fact, I have made this a sticky (I think this might be our first one - congrats!).

    Your journey is one of persistence and was proof that you often take one step back for every two steps forward when it comes to room acoustics. There is no road map. There is only trial and error - and measurements - and listening.

    I would like to hear more about your current AC situation. Room and clean power are so important. I ignored the room for WAY too long. I was pleased that you were in a similar situation, but obviously "came to" and tackled the problem with fervor.

    I am curious about one thing. Whenever I spoke with Lars, he wasn't ever keen on room treatments as we know them - ATS, Vicoustics, etc. He likes more natural treatments (bamboo, etc.). What are your thoughts?

    Again, well done. Bravo!
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Ralph - this was an absolutely fascinating read. So good in fact, I have made this a sticky (I think this might be our first one - congrats!). [...]
    Wow, thanks for that rare honor Mike.

    I will come back to you shortly with a detailed reply to your questions.

  47. #47
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post

    [...] Your journey is one of persistence and was proof that you often take one step back for every two steps forward when it comes to room acoustics. There is no road map. There is only trial and error - and measurements - and listening.
    Yes, I ignored the room for WAY too long. That was a mistake.

    When I started to look at the environment I listen to music in it finally clicked that ultimately one is listening to a room and how the speakers interact with the room.

    I am not an expert in acoustics so this thread rightfully reads like an amateurs personal record of interactions. I do something, wait for a response, and then do something else in an effort to get a different result. This endless iterative interaction acknowledges I don’t know for sure what the system will do – I have to wait, observe (measure & listen) and finally scribe for future reference.

    Along the journey I have frequently had to reverse previously reached conclusions.



    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    I would like to hear more about your current AC situation. Room and clean power are so important.

    Indeed! When we listen to music through a hi-fi system what we are actually hearing is the power supplies that drive the system. Horrible AC can be a cause of hard, flat, lifeless and grainy audio reproduction. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so my current AC situation is drawn below.






    The drawing omits the inclusion of Ansuz Sparkz coils, which sit in empty distributor sockets and at the wall socket and Nordost Quantums which are in series with the power cord from the socket to the distributor and alleviate the impact of poor quality mains power on your sensitive electronics, limiting RFI and timing errors associated with the AC line (or so the marketing blurb goes.)



    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    I am curious about one thing. Whenever I spoke with Lars, he wasn't ever keen on room treatments as we know them - ATS, Vicoustics, etc. He likes more natural treatments (bamboo, etc.). What are your thoughts?

    I can’t speak for Lars or Raidho but I believe their concern around room treatments is that they are frequently overdone (or poorly done), that is to say way too much absorption is being incorporated into the listening room and the net result is their loudspeakers no longer sound like their speakers.

    To expand, their loudspeakers no longer sound like their speakers because large coverage of thin (typically 1 inch or so) absorption panels not only leads to a dead sounding room but much worse leads to a skewed frequency response because the such panels will only absorb high frequencies and do little for the midrange and nothing for low frequencies – a situation which is clearly worse than using no room treatment at all.

    Moreover, the introduction of too much absorption also stresses both the loudspeakers and the amplification because more power is needed to achieve the same SPL as in a non-treated room.

    Viewed from this perspective if I were a loudspeaker manufacturer I’d also be very cagey about acoustic treatments.






    Turning to your point about natural treatments, Raidho is frequently seen to be employing bunches of dried plant / willow at the first side wall reflection point. Beyond being decorative, this should be seen for what it is – a scatterer or rudimentary form of diffusion.
    Borresen Acoustics Loudspeakers, Borresen Model 01 Compact monitor loudspeakers with Ansuz Darkz T2s Supreme resonance control, Audio Video Manufaktur GmbH (AVM) Inspiration amplifier & streamer, Innuos Zen MKII music server, Ansuz Acoustics cables & accessories. Please visit my system thread hosted on Audioshark for more details. Disclosure: The author is materially connected to Ansuz, Aavik & Borresen Acoustics via friendship with an owner.

  48. #48
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    Thanks Ralph. I found this interesting article:

    http://www.onhifi.com/features/20020815.htm


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
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  49. #49
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi_1282001 View Post
    Yes, I ignored the room for WAY too long. That was a mistake.
    We all made/make that same mistake.

    When we talk about the sound of our speakers we actually talk about our room.
    When we talk about a certain audio component we talk about a variation of our room's acoustic.
    When we talk about a certain audio wire, we talk about ...
    ~ Bob ~
    "And it Stoned me to my Soul" Van Morrison
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    Re: Music from a farther room

    Ralph,

    It's great to see you've brought over to Audioshark your Audio-Enz postings. We're all amazed and appreciative of your sharing your audio journey so generously. Best of luck with your new home and listening/music room.

    All the best,

    Tom
    SE MI

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Audioshark is a community of like minded individuals. Audioshark welcomes participation from all manufacturers and owners of all brands and products. It is our belief that online forums provide a community of like minded audiophiles and music lovers to encourage the growth of this wonderful hobby.

Sincerely,
The Audioshark.org Team

Music from a farther room

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