Colouration (crude test)

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Given that we'll never get access to the masters (nor are we present when it's recorded) I tried this recently myself. It's pretty crude but it was quite revealing.

1. Take a recording device (even a digital camera set to "audio record") and record yourself talking/singing/playing an instrument. I secretly recorded a string ensemble busking when I was out in my local town centre. The device records in the .WAV file format and this becomes your SOURCE recording.

2. Use your digital streamer or PS3 or whatever and play this SOURCE recording through your system. If you don't have a streamer then burn the SOURCE to cd and play that.

3. Use the same recording device as before (1) and, once it's set up at ear level in your favourite listening position, hit record and capture the music from the speakers as you'd hear them in the room. This is the SAMPLE recording.

4. Back to the PC and compare the SAMPLE with the SOURCE.

5. Repeat this for any other systems you have. The fact you have the one and only unique SOURCE gives a pretty fair basis of judgement. It's also quite useful for comparing one system to another in an A to B too.

For turntable setups, you could go the whole hog and pay maybe £45 to press the recording onto vinyl (google "one off vinyl press ").

This is all pretty crude and doubtless riddled with inconsistencies I know but it's a start and very cheap.

NOTE: On a PS3, plug the camera in via USB, the audio files won't be shown but the device will be found, click the triangle and choose "show all files" and all will be revealed.
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That appears similar to one of Tom Danleys testing procedures but he goes for generational degradation ie play something through your item to be tested and record the output.
Play the recorded output and record that etc.
Any inaccuracies will add up and be easily audible eventually. The number of repeats before it becomes unlistenable is a good indicator of the magnitude of the inaccuracies.
Digital copies can stand a large number of generations, analogue ones a lot less and speakers only very, very few.
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