‘Listening through the system not to the system’

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Shiver, Jul 6, 2016.

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  1. bhazen

    bhazen Magical Mystery Tourist

    Newcastle, WA
    Gretsch Tennessean, wasn't it?
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  2. VinylRob

    VinylRob Forum Resident

    Ok, so which one of you is spot on? George was credited with electric guitar on the cut, with John on acoustic, yet their is some debate if Paul did the honors on the later as it was after all, his song, I've read...

    Not that equipment matters, or anything. I'm still trying to listen through. :)
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2016
  3. acdc7369

    acdc7369 Forum Resident

    That's really my goal - to get to the point where I don't have to try to listen through the system, it just happens. An accurate, dynamic system is the only way that can happen for me. Otherwise I find myself listening to the system because I notice its shortcomings and they get in the way of the music.
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  4. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    Oh yeah, I forgot there was an electric guitar on there!

    George used both a Strat and the Tenny on those sessions, but if he in fact is playing the electric, my money is on the Tenny.

    I don't think that's Paul playing acoustic... most likely the bass track was cut "live" with the rest of the rhythm track.
  5. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo Music gives me Eargasms

  6. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    Some musicians do get inspired when listening to a high quality system.
    For example, from this thread and the WSJ article it is about: The story behind Steppenwolf's 'Magic Carpet Ride' (WSJ) »

    Here's a quote from the WSJ article from that thread:
    The lyrics to Magic Carpet Ride are about listening to their music on a high end stereo. :D
    All this time I never knew that was what the song was about. I'll never be able to listen to that song now without thinking about my sound machine taking me away on a cloud of sound. I'll be listening to that song rather than through it.
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  7. bhazen

    bhazen Magical Mystery Tourist

    Newcastle, WA
    I was just hazarding a guess; George played a lot of that guitar in '65, particularly on Help!.

    But listening right now, I'm thinking it's one of them :D playing one of the new, baby-blue Strats they all (except Ringo) got around this time (and got a lot of use: the solo in "Nowhere Man", and all over Revolver.) I'd be surprised if it wasn't Paul on the acoustic rhythm part, though.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2016
  8. Chooke

    Chooke Forum Resident

    Perth, Australia
    Good thoughts. I know this is an oversimplification, but over the years of helping others set up and fine tune their stereos and listening environments there are two broad classes of audiophiles - those that chase a 'euphonic' sound that is subjectively pleasing to their ears (ie more of listening to the stereo) and those that chase a transparent 'tell it as it is' system (ie more listening through the stereo). Either goal is never truly met as with very few exceptions I haven't met anyone with a euphonic system that doesn't think it can be improved, regardless of how happy they are with their current set up. Likewise, a transparent system is a goal which can never be fully met, if only for the speakers and room acoustics.

    Which approach is better is very much an individual thing. I'm in the transparent camp which to my ears brings out the best in well mastered music but it also detracts from listening enjoyment from mediocre mastered music because it exposes the flaws in the recording. I have another stereo which sounds good on any music thrown at it, even lowish rate MP3s, and sounds better than the main transparent stereo on this type of music. But the hearing bliss from well mastered stuff certainly justifies having transparency on the main stereo.
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  9. Merrick

    Merrick The return of the Thin White Duke

    I think for a lot of the way euphony and transparency go hand in hand. That is, increasing the transparency lets you hear more of the music, which lets you enjoy it more. But I agree at a certain point the road diverges and generally one should choose between the system that will make everything sound good (or at least listenable) at the expense of maximum transparency, or between the system that will reveal all the detail at the expense of making some recordings tough to listen to.

    Personally I'd prefer euphony over maximum transparency, but I know I'm nowhere near the level I want to be at for either with my main system.
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  10. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Michael Mercer did a review for Positive Feedback on the Zu, Omen Definitions (issue #54).

    This brings me to another thing I'd like to share with you. This does not have anything to do with the Omen Defs in particular, but after having a chat with Sean Casey (engineer at Zu) I felt I had to share this story as it bears on the way I view HiFi and the review process as well. I had included this in an earlier draft of the speaker review (and subsequently removed it) but my conversation with Sean inspired me to put it back.

    When I left The Absolute Sound, and went to work for Arif Mardin at Atlantic Records, I experienced surreal culture shock. TAS was my first job and I was very young. I assumed that all the record executives and people involved in the recording process within the music industry would have these amazing reference systems. I was surprised to see this wasn't the case (which led to my building systems for a few of them, where it was both an honor and a privilege building systems for people like Ahmet Ertegun and Arif Mardin). I often wondered why they didn't have extravagant stereo equipment all over the place. One day I experienced something that changed my outlook on HiFi forever:

    We were working at Avatar Studios in Manhattan. Arif was arranging and producing some strings for Eric Clapton and BB King's Riding with the King album. During a break, he and I got into a discussion about audiophiles and he told me that having a great stereo really helps in conveying the captured emotion of recorded music, but chasing the actual recorded event (the physical recording process itself) and trying to re-create that experience is a futile exercise. He said that music is meant to be enjoyed and that HiFi is a great avenue for which to enjoy it, but you'll never get back to that place and time (of course many of us realize this; we were talking about the notion of an "absolute sound").

    In order to show me what he was talking about, when the session started up again, he took me into the live room. There were at least a dozen or so musicians in the room. I stood behind the conductor and he told me to close my eyes and listen, just like I did at home. After a few minutes he came and got me and asked me to walk into the control room where we listened to the performance through the monitors sitting atop the meter bridge (and on the larger speakers in the walls above the mixing desk). He asked me if the two situations sounded alike. I didn't think so at all (and no, they hadn't mixed anything down yet, they were only tracking at this point) but it did sound lush and dynamic. He told me the moment a sound is captured by a microphone and fed into recording equipment that the sound is forever changed. This had a profound impact on me. So I stopped listening critically and simply started to enjoy my system at home. I'm not saying there's no room for critical listening. I'm merely saying that hifi should ultimately be about enjoying ourselves and whether or not your system makes you smile when you crank it up. There has been plenty of grinning going on in our media room since we installed the Zu Audio Omen Defs. If a loudspeaker can help bring some joy into your listening experience, I think it's something you need to consider. Everything else is easier to grasp (the specs, etc.) but the happiness we derive from our audio systems, well, some things need to be experienced in order to be fully understood. I've been having a blast experiencing these loudspeakers, and I'm sure many pairs will find good homes. They deserve it. The world could use a little fun, loud and clear.

    I liked the last paragraph the best.

    Getting that system synergy, is a little like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, it's like finding that happy place in the middle, not too hot and never too cold.
    Tim Irvine, 2xUeL, chacha and 2 others like this.
  11. VinylRob

    VinylRob Forum Resident

    Thank you SandAndGlass for sharing such an opportune, and on point experience with all of us. It really lends perspective and a little redirection back to what it is really all about for any of us at times, who loose sight of the goal.

    Happy Listening!
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  12. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Your post on open baffle speakers got me thinking about them again. First off I have never heard, or seen an open baffle speaker. When I started running across pictures of them on the Internet, I would think, how dumb. As in what sense does this make? I had a pair of large Maggie's back in the eighties. So I get the planer thing. Being an old Altec "user" from way back, I never warmed up to home speakers.

    Sure, some of them did have nice sound, but the best of them could not do what my A7's could do. In those days, hard rock was it and home systems (unless they were in really big cabinets, then, we have something to talk about) could never seem to cut the mustard with me.

    The tower speakers, I have today, (they are large towers), do more for me, than regular home speakers did years back.

    My amplification, both SS amps sound better than the amps I had back then, by a long shot. and my tube (didn't have tubes back then) amps, well there were love at first sight. I have learned to get the A7's sounding better than I ever thought was possible, so I am pleased with my system. Sometimes, it is transparent, sometimes it is not. I think that it does depend on the quality of the source, the mastering, more than anything else at this point.

    Other than a new tube phono amp, I have no immediate desire to upgrade. Well, maybe a new center channel that matches one set of my new front mains, but I will wait until the go on sale first.

    One thing, I like to put something together and listen to it. Other than to measure the sound level to calibrate the channels for HT, volume levels only, I never measure anything.

    But, I do remain curious about the unknown, Better phrased, unknown to me.

    One one those things are open baffle speakers. They, well, they baffle me.

    I understand my horns, the planers, I used to have. I mean, aren't you supposed t put made for box speakers in boxes? All along I thought that was the whole idea?

    After reading your thread the other day, I happened to be on the Tekton site and I noticed they had an open baffle speaker. That took me by a mild surprise, given their other speaker designs, which go in the opposite direction. And as I thought back about most of the OB speakers I have viewed in advertisements on the Internet, they were shown in expensive looking surroundings and they were rather expensive themselves.

    I would think to myself, just what is expensive about a speaker mounted on a board? I mean, other than a planer speaker or a pure horn system (only horns) $$$, it has always been about cabinets, like your DIY cabinets or my A7's.


    Since your background in real speakers, being not that much different than mine, could you enlighten me about what they sound like?

    I get the "transparent" part, but, for a moment, could you pretend that you are doing a review of the OB speakers that you built and, help me, the best that you can, understand what they sound like? I would like to hear your POV As compared to reading anther BS fluff review.

    Thank You,

  13. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    That's what I did (or, at least that's what I want to believe)...
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  14. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    You are welcome, VinalRob!

    While I remembered this post, I had quite forgotten that the review was about the Omen Definitions. Having looked over the Zu line and seeing the Definitions at + $12K, then seeing the Omen version for $3,100 for the original model. I have been really curious about the Zu speaker line. The feedback on their speakers, had no middle ground. Seems that people either loved them or they hated them.

    I said to myself, if I ever catch a deal on a pair, I am going to spring for them. well, a few weeks ago, a pair popped up on eBay. Now they are sitting next my LSiM707's.

    They have an organic, earthy type sound that I have not heard before. With the right music, they do achieve transparency. Or as much as possible, considering that the music is not live, but recorded in a studio.
  15. bhazen

    bhazen Magical Mystery Tourist

    Newcastle, WA
    I sometimes wonder if the growing interest in vinyl (and vintage audio generally; turntables, tube gear, old receivers, acoustic-suspension speakers from New England) isn't a kind of subconscious reaction to the difficulty some have with "surrendering" to modern hifi. When we had gear like that originally, we probably hadn't even heard of "soundstaging" or whatnot -- we just played tunes.

    I actually regard the day in 1976 or whenever it was, when I first wandered into a high-end audio shop and heard a system driving huge Magnepans playing Joni Mitchell's Hejira, as a kind of black day in my musical life ...!
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
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  16. sunrayjack

    sunrayjack Forum Resident

    Man , we do sound a lot a like on how we listen and speaker choices.
    The open baffle was a nice change and they just had a much different sound than I was use too.
    I could not get use to seeing the crossovers , backs of the speakers and wires, not too mention seeing my big 515's so exposed to potential damage, so I dismantled them boxed the drivers up for the next project.
    I really like the idea of trying a different kind of speaker like that and they were simple to put together just to get an idea of the sound.
    It was a worth while project and in the future I may try building a more pleasing baffle.
    I still have the frames and baffles in the shop, I am going to close them in and build something along the lines of a Valencia I think.
    They did sound good, but then it was all Altec, how can you go wrong with that!
    I never measure anything for sound, I wouldn't know how if I wanted too.
    I do a lot of reading about other peoples projects, study JBL and Altec cabinet designs and other high end vintage speaker cabinets to get ideas, then I sketch something up that I think I would like to see when I walk thru the house and I build it.
    You know if you want to get an idea of open baffle sound,"this is going to send some people over the edge" pickup some cheap speakers at good will or where ever .
    Get your jig saw , lay the speaker on it's side and draw a nice scrolled line from the top front corner down to the back bottom corner and cut away.
    Take the back and half of the sides out and give a listen.
    Not a perfect test but for 20 bucks and a few minutes of time you can get an idea if you would like to go to the next stage or not.
    My A7's are as you describe , some music is unbelievable on them and some makes you want to cover your ears while you get to it to turn it off.
    Eric Clapton unplugged sounds great, as well as Hanns Zimmer music song tracks.
    I had the Zorro sound track playing thru the A7's and was in the other room, They started the flamingo dancing with that foot stomping they do, I just about crapped my pants and got whip lash at the same time turning so fast in that direction.
    It sound like a large hall with live dancing going on, it sent chills down my spine , it was so real.
    I mean ,I have heard great things out of these Altecs and the horns, but I wanted to drag people off the street in and say come listen!!!
    I am speechless when it comes to describing the incredible A7 sound, we A7 owner are a lucky fortunate lot for sure.
    Where was I, you wanted to know about OB's, I drifted into Altec heaven and forgot the topic, sorry.
    I am sure there are super fine OB's out there and for the people who love the design and can deal with the placement requirements they are fantastic speakers.
    I on the other hand am a speaker crazed whore, I can never have enough big cabinet speakers, drivers are always 15 inch and they must have horns, pretty much anything Altec or can be made into Altec.
    I have Jbl drivers in the A7's right now 2225h I think and they sound great, I will Play them for a while then change out to 416's for a while then 515's, it keeps things interesting.
    I hope this help, sorry about the drifting off on you.
  17. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Not to worry, with our music, you need horns to see through the system. When you get 'em right, you are there. There are chills down your spine. It is real!

    I was just chatting with another member who posted some new photos of the system in his living room. D.I.Y. A7's in WAF friendly cabinets. They are the most beautiful cabinet's I have ever seen, horns or not. But of course, they are Altec horns. The supporting equipment is 1st class. Makes me feel like a brown shoe. :nyah:

    If you have not see his system, here is a link to his latest photos. Back some time ago, he had posted photos during the construction. His whole display is well thought out, very elegant looking. You could place this system, as pictured, in the most expensive of homes. As you might well believe, he spreads the gospel of horn speakers!

    There is a difference in simply enjoying your system or your music, and getting excited about it.

    I like the sizes of your living room and your bedroom. Big music likes big rooms.

    My room is about 450 sq. ft. and works well enough for my needs. Sonically, it can appear far larger. Had my first pair of A7's built when I was 16. Had the 500W's, model 19's. Have 3-pairs today. Main pair is 3-way with Jbl baby cheeks on top of the 511B's, plus a 15" commercial sub next to them.

    Check into ALK crossovers, that is the secret. The universal medium slope, about 500/pr. Once you get the jumpers configured correctly, and take your time with this (took me about 3-weeks), even you will be even more amazed!

  18. Juan Matus

    Juan Matus Reformed Audiophile

    What I have learned here in one years time I can sum up in one sentence.

    Many audiophiles can't see the forest for the trees.
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  19. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Then again, many of them plant trees so the can see the forest. :)
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  20. Raylinds

    Raylinds Resident Lake Surfer

    The only time I listen to my system is when I make a change to something and want to assess whether it is an improvement or not. It is important for me that the speakers disappear- nothing worse than when the sound is obviously coming from two distinct sources. Of course, that mostly has to do with proper speaker placement and room treatment.
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  21. sunrayjack

    sunrayjack Forum Resident

    Those are his version of A7's?
    They are very nice, I will have to check out the Alk crossovers, I have heard good things about them.
    But hearing it from a fellow Altec guy carries a lot more weight, If you like it I am sure I will.
    These big rooms give lots of space for great Altec's to fill, that's for sure.
    So you say they are about 500 a pair, that's really not that bad, it's not like they only last a few years like tires or batteries.
    Thanks for the compliments and advice.
  22. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Yes, they are his versions of A7's, no bass horn, but a well designed cabinet. and the support electronics are first class.

    Check out this link to some material that I posted on ALK crossovers, the link will take you to page six of the thread.

    Just check out the page from beginning to end, click on the links as they appear, referencing Al's site. Open them up in a separate tab, so you can read my references, then switch to the referenced page on Al's site, going back and forth. You will see, the exact crossovers I have have been replaced with a lower cost design. You can call him tomorrow, if you have any questions.

    My thoughts on Blue Jeans and Monoprice speaker cable.

    Al's site is a bit confusing as far as the navigation goes. It is one of things, if you understand it and what you are looking for, it's isn't that bad, if you don't, then it seems a bit on the screwy side.

    You will talk directly to Al before your order. Al does not keep any finished products on hand. They are built to order. He wil collect a few orders, then he will order all of the necessary parts, when the parts come in, he builds the units and ships them out in the order they are received. Expect 4-8 weeks, have patience, you will get your reward!

    This will take your A7's to an all new level!

    And, yes, they will last forever, maybe replacing the caps every 20-25, years or so.
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  23. sunrayjack

    sunrayjack Forum Resident

    Do you run your A7's as a two way original design or have you added a tweeter?
    Do you cross them at 500 or 800 hz, and what drivers do you find gives you the best over all sound?
    Do you run 811's or 511's on your A7's, the mounting block for the horn looks to be setup for either or.
    I have seen those beautiful speakers before , I had no idea they were DIY A7's, very nice.
    That is a very good site on Al's crossovers, as I was reading he kept repeating " no changes or substitutes" on his crossovers.
    I would not for a minute question his choices on what works and what doesn't, I love my hobby of building and listening, I know a master when I see one.
    From the way he describes theory and the reasoning that goes into his builds, sounds a little foolish that anyone would even think they have a better way to design a crossover.
    I mean anyone who is in the market to buy a completed crossover from a builder should either accept his product or keep looking.
    Big difference between a crossover guru and a weekend warrior builder.
    Thanks for the advice of looking at Al's crossovers, now to shift the budget around to buy a pair.
  24. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I have three pairs of A7's, two of which are stored away in another room.

    The main pair, are older cabinets that were bought and restored by my go to guy. The cabinets have been strengthened over the original Altec factory design, internally. The bass speakers are from Eminence and went for about $175 each and has response curves similar to Altec's, they will handle twice the power.

    I always prefer to use the 511B horns, they go deeper and sound better, that is with good drivers and crossovers. This pair has the 908 series driver, which can handle more power. The 902's will sound ever so slightly more refined. They are crossed over at 500-cycles. The horns and drivers are designed to do this. If done properly, you will not have any issues with crossing over at 500-cycles.

    Keep in mind that the real Altec Lansing has been out of business for quite a number of years.

    The ALK crossovers are designed to be upgrades for the large Klipsch speakers, like the Klipschorn's. They are not designed for Altec's at all. This is something that does not matter to me at all. They work fine in the A7's.

    My custom guy built a pair of crossovers that are effective from 6K up. This is where the Altec's naturally start to roll of on their own, so filtering is not necessary and would only serve to get in the way. They are a three way system with JBL baby cheeks mounted on top of the 511B horns. They provide that sparkle with brushes on the cymbals that I happen to be listening to as I write this.

    They are supplemented by a UCS1 15" commercial sub, powered by a bridged Crown XLS 2000, 1,300 watts, mounted in a standard 19" metal rack behind the TV.

    In actual practice, they are a 4-way system.

    Al quit forum participation years back because of the weekend warriors you speak of. He is a educated microwave engineer, they are idiots. Enough said.

    You will notice on his web site, if he feels there is a design deficiency in a product, he will explain what that deficiency is, what it needs to be corrected and what is necessary to correct it.

    Al's crossovers are not meant to be run in theater PA applications where high power is needed. limit his crossovers to fifty watts. This is more than you should subject your ears to, since the A7 cabinets are 103dB (rated at 4').

    He suggests Bob Crites' crossovers for higher power commercial applications. For those commercial applications. I would use an electronic dividing network, which I would not use in a quality oriented home setting (I do have a Behringer in the commercial rack).

    Don't expect to connect them and go. I may take you many weeks to get the correct settings.

    I currently use them with a tube preamp and Rogue tube monoblocks, M-150's running in the triode mode, providing 75-WPC maximum.
  25. sunrayjack

    sunrayjack Forum Resident

    I mix and match speakers and crossovers all the time, so I'm with you on not letting it bother you using them on the A7's, I too prefer the 511 horns.
    With my bedroom setup I have 511's with JBL drivers on them and I could listen to them all night without getting fatigued.
    I have been buying most of my Altec drivers from Great Plains Audio, the closest thing to new Altec, they make some fine drivers.
    I have some JBL 2405 tweeters I have thought of using on the A7's, your thoughts?
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