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chebby's picture
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RE: Audibly transparent

'Transparent' is just another failed word in the lexicon of attempts to describe what is fundamentally indescribable. (Like 'natural', 'neutral', 'organic', 'warm', etc.)

It's a sense like sight and smell. Describe differences between greens on a colour chart and the variety of greens of springtime that you experience during a walk in the woods. Describe the colour of an old oak table in bright sunlight. The wood contains too many shades/hues and has too many reflected colours to just call it 'brown'. Describe the smell of leather without reference to leather. On top of this there all the personal associations and memories that forests, leather, old furniture etc. will have for you (just you) that cannot be conveyed adequately to another. Even artists and poets can only hope to try and communicate their impressions in any meaningful way. (They can't do yours. Although good ones can evoke or 'trigger' your own feelings and memories, they can't actually know that that will happen or put words to them.)

It's the same with hi-fi replaying recorded music. Someone who has heard a lot of their music collection live at concerts will have different impressions and memories and personal experiences than someone who has only ever heard music from stereos, radios, TVs etc. Their requirements of a system will differ. One experience is no more 'valid' than the other. We can't judge what the music from those people's systems will evoke in them. The concert goer is not more 'qualified' to choose a system for the other person or vice versa. However, they will have fundamentally differing musical 'triggers' when it comes to selecting a system they like. (As would someone who is actually a musician.)

Measurement merely goes as far as to tell you how well the component measures against tests accepted by the industry to demonstrate some degree of technical 'competence' and/or fitness for purpose, electrical safety and so on.

For every system described by it's owner as 'transparent' (or 'natural', 'organic', 'musical', 'smooth', 'fast' or whatever) there will be another person who finds it the opposite. (And I guarantee that will include any system whether active or not and whether costing £45 or £45,000.)

Back in the radiogram days people would say 'it has a nice tone' and would buy it, if it was the right price and suited their other furniture.

'It has a nice tone' says just as much to me as 'transparent'. (Ok it says more to me because I grew up in that era and know what it meant and how highly 'a nice tone' was valued.)

I'm rambling so thats it. Stopped now.

 

 

"We are currently awaiting the loading of our complement of small lemon-soaked paper napkins for your comfort, refreshment and hygiene during the journey."

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RE: Audibly transparent

chebby wrote:

'Transparent' is just another failed word in the lexicon of attempts to describe what is fundamentally indescribable. (Like 'natural', neutral', 'organic', 'warm', etc.)

I get your point about personal choice and wholeheartedly agree, however I do believe that 'transparent' is a valid term if used in the right context to describe a lack of obscuritites or to put it another way, lack of distortion.

It just so happens that transparency can be used in visual and aural contexts, but the visual context is perhaps more literal.

The other adjectives listed are a little more vague and not really anything other than an attempt to describe a sound in words. They are not quantifiable.

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RE: Audibly transparent

Only four parameters are needed to define everything that affects audio quality: Noise, frequency response, distortion, and time-based errors. "Transparent" just means that all these parameters are below defined levels.


Didn't J. Gordon Holt say something about the idea that making pleasing rather than accurate kit was what destroyed the high end?

 

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RE: Audibly transparent

WinterRacer wrote:

Didn't J. Gordon Holt say something about the idea that making pleasing rather than accurate kit was what destroyed the high end?

http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/1107awsi/  

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RE: Audibly transparent

Thanks Craig, that's the article I was thinking of.

One point I think is important, I believe accurate kit is pleasing kit.  The idea that it isn't I find very strange.

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RE: Audibly transparent

drummerman wrote:

I think Winteracer has hit the nail on the head with his previous comment on 'transparency with DSP' for occasions when you dont agree with the sound engineer.

Agreed.

Hi-Fi - Yamaha RX-V667 > AVI DM5 > AVI subwoofer

Head-Fi - Epiphany Acoustics EHP-O2Di > Sennheisser HD700

Portable - Sony NWZ-A847 > Westone UM3x

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RE: Audibly transparent

I prefer the quote from Nelson Pass - "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgement. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers are for those who do not."

These two quotes nicely highlight the two diverging opinions, as to what is most important when buying a hifi system.....and there is no right or wrong, only what brings maximum joy to the owner.

"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

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RE: Audibly transparent

One man's transparent is another man's coloured...

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RE: Audibly transparent

drummerman wrote:

Understand where Winteracer is coming from. I believe he uses AVI's new 40 which is probably more transparent or technically adept than many other options out there.

However, even over on HDD, there are people that would like a little bit more 'warmth' (distortion) than their equipment has on occasions. A certain irish person recently has changed the mid/bass drivers on his ADM's to gain some body, furthermore, he has recently started a thread on 'warmth' ...

regards

 

Yes, vastly chucklesom, still banging the same old drum too.  Bless...

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RE: Audibly transparent

Overdose wrote:

chebby wrote:

'Transparent' is just another failed word in the lexicon of attempts to describe what is fundamentally indescribable. (Like 'natural', neutral', 'organic', 'warm', etc.)

I get your point about personal choice and wholeheartedly agree, however I do believe that 'transparent' is a valid term if used in the right context to describe a lack of obscuritites or to put it another way, lack of distortion.

It just so happens that transparency can be used in visual and aural contexts, but the visual context is perhaps more literal.

The other adjectives listed are a little more vague and not really anything other than an attempt to describe a sound in words. They are not quantifiable.

 

Very hard to achieve in standard audio.  Very hard to achieve in passive or active systems too.  You might get close, but recreating the "as is"?  Nope.  Hence why many folk go for "pleasing" and whatever version of "pleasing" you think that is.  

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RE: Audibly transparent

the record spot wrote:

Very hard to achieve in standard audio.  Very hard to achieve in passive or active systems too.  You might get close, but recreating the "as is"?  Nope.  Hence why many folk go for "pleasing" and whatever version of "pleasing" you think that is.  

 

Hard for turntables and speakers, especially passive ones..  I'd suggest we're there, or thereabouts for digital transports, streamers, DACs, SS Pre and power amps, oh yeah, nearly forgot cables in that list! Smile

 

 

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RE: Audibly transparent

WinterRacer wrote:
Hard for turntables and speakers, especially passive ones.

All this active-aggressive beahiviour is getting very tiresome.

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RE: Audibly transparent

 

To add to Cno's quote, it is a trait in modern life to consider relevant only criteria which can be measured and given a number.

So we are assured that our ears hear, and only hear, simple combinations of frequencies between 20 Hz and < 20 Khz. Why? Because that is easy to measure (and we can see hairs in our ear which respond to frequencies). But that is not the whole story; our ears are much better than that. They are very good at hearing, and recognising, transient sounds, like a symbol being struck, or a pin dropping, sounds which are not a simple combination of fixed frequencies. We can hear very quiet transients amongst other noise – our survival in the past probably depended on this.

Our bodies can sense frequencies below 20Hz, and there is some evidence for above 20 Khz, though maybe not through our ears.

I was once at a concert for deaf people. They stamped and clapped in time to the music. The Percussionist Evelyn Glennie is deaf but she plays in orchestras all over the world.

So do not get too hung up on figures, they measure only bits of the sounds we sense.

Andrew

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RE: Audibly transparent

spiny norman wrote:

WinterRacer wrote:
Hard for turntables and speakers, especially passive ones.

All this active-aggressive beahiviour is getting very tiresome.

 

I'm more of a passive-aggressive but can see where the active may come in handy ...

regards

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RE: Audibly transparent

WinterRacer wrote:
Apologies if this has already been covered. A believe this is a good definition of audible transparency: "Ethan Winer, an acoustics expert, states that gear passing all these criteria will not contribute any audible sound of its own and in fact sound the same as any other gear passing the same criteria. - Frequency Response: 20 hz to 20 Khz +/- 0.1 dB - Distortion: At least 100 dB (0.001%) below the music while others consider 80 dB (0.01%) to be sufficient and Ethan’s own tests confirm that. - Noise: At least 100 dB below the music - Time Based Errors – In the digital world this is jitter and the 100 dB rule applies for jitter components." I agree with this definition, and believe it is the only sensible goal of hi-fi. Clearly, this has to apply at your chosen listening level, e.g., when your amp starts clipping it will no longer be audibly transparent. Speakers are the component furthest from being audibly transparent, which is why many people recommend spending most of your budget on them. Obviously, there's nothing wrong with personal preference, people differ in their tolerance to different types of distortion. BTW, to me'system matching' (beyond basic compatibility) is about adding one kind of distortion to another to mask each components shortcomings, e.g., using bandwidth distortion to mask IM distortion around a speaker's crossover.

I agree.

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