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Old 31st May 2014, 06:44 PM   #1
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Default Use of terms in audio fidelity discussions

i think that in the end this hobby can lead me to madness ...
I have always tried hard to understand at least some bits, but sometimes i sincerely think that the task is beyond my possibilities ...
One last case
The product in question an op-amp based line preamp presented here in this forum.
I am sure it is a really great product, with SOTA specifications.
And still the designer says in the project pages ...

... Nevertheless I would like to mention some of my ideas that guided this design. In the past I did design and listening tests on vacuum tube amplifiers. That background and experience did lead me to:
Do not use more semiconductors in the audio path then needed. More semiconductors easily make the sound less open and transparent.
I do no want to start a discussion on what open and transparent is.
For me it is easier to understand an open window, or a transparent glass ...

Can this transparency in audio circuit be correlated to some parameters ?
If so i would very much prefer words like ... low noise, low distortion, high slew rate ... to avoid any form of confusion.

Then ... speaking of semiconductors in the audio path ... well and opamp has several of them ... even 30 !
Just for me to understand .. does this mean that an op-amp must be seen as a single semiconductor ?

Another thing ... if measurements are so important (the designer mentions impressive figures to support the quality of the product i guess) i do not think tubes are champs on this matter, at least distortion and noise wise.

I am trying to understand as i said at the beginning ... but it is not easy.
Kind regards, gino

Last edited by ginetto61; 31st May 2014 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 31st May 2014, 07:03 PM   #2
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Your definition of open and transparent is about as good as any I have heard.

The only thing I can add is I associate these terms with devices deliberately not designed to be effects boxes.
"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine
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Old 31st May 2014, 07:03 PM   #3
Mooly is offline Mooly  United Kingdom
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Lets just say that opamps do sound subtly different (the best of the best) and with a correspondingly bigger difference between the best and "worse".

The terms you use have all tried to be identified and matched to specific parameters but with little success.

As to considering the opamp as one semiconductor, well I suppose you do really. Change it and you change the whole circuit with a corresponding change in subjective audio performance and measured performance too. If you really did construct your opamp from discrete parts (it can be done) and then changed the individual semiconductors in that discrete opamp you would not notice much change in performance (within reason and not being silly with choice of devices)

If you are interested in opamps then you might like to try this. We did some pretty involved tests some months ago but the files are long gone now, this one is purely for fun

Low Noise opamps for 2014?
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Old 31st May 2014, 07:46 PM   #4
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Hello and thank you very much for the valuable replies.
Needless to say that i have not any kind of prejudice towards op-amps.
They are used in very high quality equipment. So they must be good.
Nevertheless i also know that to use them right is not an easy job.
I will stop my ramblings and go back to study the link proposed
Thanks again and kind regards, gino
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Old 1st June 2014, 12:42 AM   #5
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The real problem is identifying components that have these elusive properties. If we had units that had more of one of these properties than another component then we could study the small difference. We would have to exclude components that have euphoric coloration's like SET amps and phono cartridge pre-amp combinations also exclude loudspeakers. All these items have so many differences that we would never be able to identify the cause of the elusive property.
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Old 1st June 2014, 08:40 AM   #6
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Hi and thank you for your reply
What i cannot easily accept is the "It measures very bad and sounds very good", with this being a case taken from Stereophile magazine

Click the image to open in full size.

This is very hard for me to accept.
Just thing also how this graph would be with a real loudspeaker load ... a mess.
Maybe i have found a limit in the way audio equipment are tested.
Usually tests are carried out only on a single equipment, with a standard signal and a standard load in standard condition with the results seen on a scope.
Instead the testing of all the chain is usually done by listening.
I would like to see some measurements carried out on the whole system, placing a mic in the listening position (with the room effect also captured).
I wonder how many Golden Ears have limited earing abilities. Do they have their ears checked and certified ?
I think that a component can be good in standard testing conditions, but have problems when put in a complete chain.
The more i think about it and the more i am convinced that the instrumental testing way is the way to go.
The rest is just fraud ...
Thanks and regards, gino

P.S. i do believe much more in a good mic than in a old human golden ear

Last edited by ginetto61; 1st June 2014 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 1st June 2014, 04:24 PM   #7
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I think that equipment reviewers try so hard to hear small on non-existent differences that when a real difference comes along, it's automatically labeled as good.
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Old 1st June 2014, 04:46 PM   #8
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How an amp sounds can be different to two different people.
Sound is very much a personal thing.
I love the sound of an over driven valve amplifier, but when it is over driven it is distorting. So perfect reproduction isn't always the best solution for me.
Murton-Pike Systems PCBCAD51 pcb design software.
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Old 1st June 2014, 06:01 PM   #9
M Gregg is offline M Gregg  England
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The way I see it,

Open is space between the instruments etc in a sound stage between speakers.

Transparent is the clarity with which the instruments or voice can be heard in the soundstage.

Veiled is not being able to hear the sound of an instrument or voice clearly.

Smear is not being able to hear the position of instruments or clear voice.

Have a look at the ledr tests

Online LEDR Sound Test | Listening Environment Diagnostic Recording Test

The ideal is a transparent sound with good soundstage (positioning of instruments) with enough smear so rubbish recordings don't sound to bad..

M. Gregg
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Old 2nd June 2014, 03:01 AM   #10
fas42 is offline fas42  Australia
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Smear? No smear, please - the ideal is that "rubbish" recordings do sound good - that way, all the recordings sound good ...
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