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 Post subject: Is bigger better???
PostPosted: May 8th, 2018, 9:19 pm 
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Joined: October 21st, 2013, 6:53 pm
Posts: 263
So it comes to my attention pretty regularly that a lot of audiophiles, and a lot of people in general are a little bit confused about MAGNITUDE. In audio circles they call it SPL. The common belief that a lot of people don't frequently question is, that if you have a little bit of a good thing, and you get more of it, it's always better. I'm a little bit confused about it myself, and I would never criticize someone who believes this, because it's a very logical belief. The truth however is that it's not true! Whatever thing you might conceive of, when you get it in quantity, it will cease to be as valuable as it was in scarcity. This is a law in nature, it's a law in economics, and I tend to believe it's a law everywhere else in the universe!

So, what does this have to do with audio??

Yes, you always need a certain SPL to be perceptible, but above this you start engaging the law I mentioned.

So my question is "where does HiFi fit into this picture??"

I will admit, and this is why I'm a little bit confused, that I have been to a concert before, where the profoundness of the experience had a lot to do with how loud it was, but my answer to my own question is that I think HiFi's job is not to reproduce the "loudness" of the experience, but rather to reproduce the "quality" of the experience at a safe SPL.

HiFi doesn't replace real performances, but it gives you the opportunity to partially experience them in the comfort of your own listening room.

MAGNITUDE in HiFi however is still in question, SO WHAT DO YOU REALLY NEED???



Chris


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 Post subject: Re: Is bigger better???
PostPosted: May 9th, 2018, 5:31 am 
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Joined: January 15th, 2015, 7:19 am
Posts: 651
Location: Baltimore MD
It has t be just loud enough to enjoy the experience. For me this changes constantly. It solely depends on my mood. Maybe my comfort level at the moment. I can enjoy ZZ top both at a whisper and at room rattling levels.


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 Post subject: Re: Is bigger better???
PostPosted: May 9th, 2018, 8:24 am 
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Joined: February 28th, 2013, 1:19 pm
Posts: 217
Chris,

Pardon me, but I followed your previous posting on Minimalist Audio, which seemed to digress from what seemed to be a potential project discussion or direction to a rather heated and deteriorating thread that ended up stirring up alot of flames. Here you are asking a general audio "philosophy" question that has no definitive answer that will only solicit a wide range of opinions with no real technical resolution. You are posting in the Project Discussion, but I do not see any discussion of a project. What are you trying to do? Is this an honest question or just an attempt to stir things up? In either case this discussion should be moved to General and not Project.

I think Paul is spot on with his answer. "It depends" is the only correct answer to this unanswerable question. Having attended a wide range of live performances from a handful of rock concerts in my youth (which I now avoid because they are too loud for me), full symphony orchestras w/ chorus, to clavichord recitals. The latter is a great example of how quiet a performance can be, forcing you to really concentrate on listening to hear the subtle and micro dynamic expressive range of the instrument. So, it depends on the music you listen to, and how you experience and enjoy the music. There is no universal answer, no universal laws.

However, a few things. Live performances are very dynamic in its content, and this is where things fall apart in recording and reproduction through a home audio system, which tends to compress the sound, particularly with small, inefficient speakers and low power amplifiers. Do you adjust the playing level to capture the same dynamic peak to re-experience what you hear live? Usually that means you may play the music too loud on an average level. Do you listen only to a level where the music does not sound strained or forced? This will vary considerably based on system quality. Do you want to not bother the neighbors (or bother them)? Obviously the listening room is an area with severe constraints on audio reproduction, and will limit what magnitude of the sound is tolerable. Another point to make is our perception of frequency balance is based on SPL, and playing too loud or too quietly will skew that. So somewhere in this is that there probably is a "technically correct level" from a reproduction standpoint that is true to the recording, it will be different for each recording AND there are alot of factors that work to limit this practically in a home audio system.

So it depends.

David


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 Post subject: Re: Is bigger better???
PostPosted: May 9th, 2018, 8:38 am 
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Joined: February 28th, 2013, 3:31 pm
Posts: 944
David McGown wrote:
Chris,

Pardon me, but I followed your previous posting on Minimalist Audio, which seemed to digress from what seemed to be a potential project discussion or direction to a rather heated and deteriorating thread that ended up stirring up alot of flames. Here you are asking a general audio "philosophy" question that has no definitive answer that will only solicit a wide range of opinions with no real technical resolution. You are posting in the Project Discussion, but I do not see any discussion of a project. What are you trying to do? Is this an honest question or just an attempt to stir things up? In either case this discussion should be moved to General and not Project.

I think Paul is spot on with his answer. "It depends" is the only correct answer to this unanswerable question. Having attended a wide range of live performances from a handful of rock concerts in my youth (which I now avoid because they are too loud for me), full symphony orchestras w/ chorus, to clavichord recitals. The latter is a great example of how quiet a performance can be, forcing you to really concentrate on listening to hear the subtle and micro dynamic expressive range of the instrument. So, it depends on the music you listen to, and how you experience and enjoy the music. There is no universal answer, no universal laws.

However, a few things. Live performances are very dynamic in its content, and this is where things fall apart in recording and reproduction through a home audio system, which tends to compress the sound, particularly with small, inefficient speakers and low power amplifiers. Do you adjust the playing level to capture the same dynamic peak to re-experience what you hear live? Usually that means you may play the music too loud on an average level. Do you listen only to a level where the music does not sound strained or forced? This will vary considerably based on system quality. Do you want to not bother the neighbors (or bother them)? Obviously the listening room is an area with severe constraints on audio reproduction, and will limit what magnitude of the sound is tolerable. Another point to make is our perception of frequency balance is based on SPL, and playing too loud or too quietly will skew that. So somewhere in this is that there probably is a "technically correct level" from a reproduction standpoint that is true to the recording, it will be different for each recording AND there are alot of factors that work to limit this practically in a home audio system.

So it depends.

David


Excellent reply David.


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 Post subject: Re: Is bigger better???
PostPosted: May 9th, 2018, 9:23 am 
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Joined: January 15th, 2015, 7:19 am
Posts: 651
Location: Baltimore MD
wow my day has been made.
Someone actually agrees with my opinion, maybe even too! Thanks
My first impression of Chris's start of a thread was "here we go again" and I thought long and hard (well maybe 10 sec) whether I should respond or not. I did stay away from Chris's pervious thread.
Starting a conversation about a topic is always a good thing, and when it goes off in weird directions can also be of interest, just as long as egos and nastiness does not become a part of the discussion.
I do agree that this should have been posted in the "General Discussion" area and maybe that was the only faux pas here.


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 Post subject: Re: Is bigger better???
PostPosted: May 9th, 2018, 1:41 pm 
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Joined: October 21st, 2013, 6:53 pm
Posts: 263
Thanks David, and Paul,

I am just trying to start conversations about real topics.
My style might be a little provocative, but no ill intentions exist.

It was just an error that it showed up in Project Discussions.
My webpage says I'm in General Discussion right now.

If anybody knows how to fix it, let me know.


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 Post subject: Re: Is bigger better???
PostPosted: May 9th, 2018, 1:53 pm 
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Joined: October 21st, 2013, 6:53 pm
Posts: 263
Back to the thread, I was looking for some specific things:

Maybe some psychoacoustic answers to my question that would involve habituation, or sensitization.

I also think that a single tone, or combination of tones at a certain SPL can produce a physiological response, independent from any intellectual response we would get from a musical interpretation of the sound. It could be that everyone has their own unique threshold, but it might be generalizable too.


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 Post subject: Re: Is bigger better???
PostPosted: May 9th, 2018, 2:17 pm 
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Joined: January 15th, 2015, 7:19 am
Posts: 651
Location: Baltimore MD
a more basic question is what is music and why does seem to have such an effect on us.


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 Post subject: Re: Is bigger better???
PostPosted: May 9th, 2018, 2:52 pm 
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Joined: March 5th, 2013, 9:35 am
Posts: 219
Location: Highland, MD
Because the main answer is, "It Depends," I'll say how it is for me.

I think a primary purpose for HiFi is to reproduce a performance to the extent that it seems like I'm at a live performance. This is one reason I had season tickets to the BSO: so I could gain experience of how live orchestral performances sound. Then I'd go home and see what gaps I might identify in my system.

As David McGown, many recordings and systems can compress audio, but I tried to start listening by setting my volume at what I remembered at the live performance. So my answer to how loud is "how loud" is "that loud."

Others' mileage may vary. :music-listening:

_________________
- Guy


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 Post subject: Re: Is bigger better???
PostPosted: May 9th, 2018, 3:06 pm 
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Joined: March 12th, 2013, 11:12 am
Posts: 416
For me, big and efficient speakers sound more real. Probably due to 1) their ability to handle macrodynamics (big) and also microdynamics (efficient).

But the minute you hear a live concert you realize how far from reality our audio systems are. I was recently at a concert (BSO) and they were playing so softly that you could barely hear it. At the same time it had such quiet authority and underlying potential that it demanded attention. I have NEVER head an audio system that sounded even close to pulling off this trick. Really big WE horns are the closest and even then it is a pale imitation.


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