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The Critical Ear

fauxpas

Member
2007-11-15 3:09 pm
The scene... I'm in my room/office... My partner is out watching TV...

"Sweetheart, come here for a sec'. Quick." I yell.

"Yeah yeah, what...?" she replies walking into my room like I just interrupted her finding the cure for cancer.

"Listen to this." I say, like I did find the cure to cancer.

Music plays for some time...

She looks at me with a blank face... "What?" she asks.

"What? What?? Can't you hear it?" I ask.

"Hear what?" she replies.

"Don't worry, go back to your TV." I say.

Why is it some of us have this ability to be very critical of the music/sound we hear? Sometimes I wish I wasn't this way. It'd be a hell of a lot cheaper.

Anyhow, I change my cheapie 6P3P tubes which came with my amp new with some 6L6GC Mesa tubes [Sylvanis/Philips]. Much more revealing of the music. Buena Vista Social Club justs bursts with new sounds. I'm having to go through my collection again and have a good listen...
 
That is quite true and it can be frustrating. A lot of people I know do not have the ability to critically listen. Even if one system is 3 notches above another, they can't hear a difference.

Luckily, I've secretly turned my girlfriend into an audio snob. Our home system is tube amps that I built. She never comments how good it sounds, but whenever we listen to music somewhere else she says "it sounds like crap":D
 
A lot of people I know do not have the ability to critically listen.

This is why we have MP3's!!! Actually I believe that in todays rush rush society, most people have never taken the time to learn how to listen.

Did you ever notice that cats and dogs can tell the difference. I get comments from customers that say "my dog was startled" or the cats ran and hid when I put a movie on, that has never happened before." Have we humans lost this ability because of all the noise pollution in our environment?
 
Listen carefully!!

So it is not just me! The listening public does indeed seem to have lost (Or never had in the first place) the ability to critically listen.
We are seeing it everywhere, the audio quality in telephones has deteriorated (frequency spectrum)....we see people "listening" to music thru laptop micro-speakers....how is this possible?
Are we going back to a modern equivalent of the 60s' six transistor AM radio glued to the ear?
Often times I will pick out a frequency span on a musical passage and my wifes remark is a "Thats' fine honey". Perhaps if one has never heard true high fidelity before, they don't know what they have been missing.
I can hear clipping, overtones, frequency shifts, sub-harmonics, tube vs. SS, et.al.
My "test" is to invite someone to my living room with an acoustic guitar to "jam" with my system....with closed eyes...who is the real thing and who is the "reproduction".
Fortunately my wife has acquired 'the ear' to good sound reproduction....she just doesn't know how to quantify just what she is hearing.
_____________________________________Rick............
 

MJL21193

Disabled Account
2007-03-10 1:20 am
Re: Listen carefully!!

Cal Weldon said:
IMHO, no. In some cases it gets in the way of enjoying the music.

Amen. The more we know, the harder we listen. The harder we listen, the less we enjoy.

Richard Ellis said:

... the audio quality in telephones has deteriorated (frequency spectrum)....we see people "listening" to music thru laptop micro-speakers....how is this possible?


I have given up trying to find a decent sounding cell phone (just for communication purposes). They have so much c rap stuck in them now (camera, MP3, bluetooth, internet, games, software that would have filled the average computer 10 years ago, etc.), there's no room for distortion free sound.
 
IMHO, no. In some cases it gets in the way of enjoying the music.

There was an article in BBC Music magazine some time ago that had people from different areas of the music business select a new stereo system for themselves. It turned out the only person who selected a big fancy audiophile grade system was a BBC music producer, while the musicians selected fairly cheap micro systems. Now it may be because the producer makes more money than the musicians, but it may also be that the musician only cares about the "music", notes, harmonies, chord progressions, playing techniques, the artistic meaning of it all, etc, and not about the "sound".
 
According to my experience, even people who claim to have ears damaged by bears hear differences well. They hear them even better when returning back to the "stock sound". My wife now can't listens to stock audio systems, they sound horrible for her years now, but before she used to say, "I don't understand what you are doing, it already sounds nice!"
Speaking of differences between sound of 6P3S and 6L6, your wife may be right: 6P3S and 6L6GC sound the same. Differences are, 6P3S on ePay have very wide spread of parameters so are hard to match. Also "GC" tubes were made for guitar amps that required more power dissipation so tubes would live longer.
 

fizzard

Member
2006-11-02 8:12 pm
Re: Re: Listen carefully!!

Hi-fi is a hobby. The taxidermist isn't any more interested in audio than you are in taxidermy.

Richard Ellis said:
We are seeing it everywhere, the audio quality in telephones has deteriorated (frequency spectrum)....we see people "listening" to music thru laptop micro-speakers....how is this possible?

It's a portable computer with audio capabilities, not a portable hi-fi system with computing capabilities.

Richard Ellis said:
I can hear clipping, overtones, frequency shifts, sub-harmonics, tube vs. SS, et.al.

Most people can, very quickly. Do they care is the more important thing.

Richard Ellis said:
My "test" is to invite someone to my living room with an acoustic guitar to "jam" with my system....with closed eyes...who is the real thing and who is the "reproduction".

No guitarist would ever be fooled by that, not even close.

Richard Ellis said:
Fortunately my wife has acquired 'the ear' to good sound reproduction....she just doesn't know how to quantify just what she is hearing.

Are you able to quantify what you're hearing? If so, please explain how.

MJL21193 said:
I have given up trying to find a decent sounding cell phone (just for communication purposes). They have so much c rap stuck in them now (camera, MP3, bluetooth, internet, games, software that would have filled the average computer 10 years ago, etc.), there's no room for distortion free sound.

Maybe call up Apple and thell them the next iPhone should have a tube amp in it.

Sound quality isn't the first priority in engineering lap tops and cell phones. Size, power consumption, network bandwidth, etc. are important too.
 

MJL21193

Disabled Account
2007-03-10 1:20 am
Re: Re: Re: Listen carefully!!

fizzard said:

Maybe call up Apple and thell them the next iPhone should have a tube amp in it.

Sound quality isn't the first priority in engineering lap tops and cell phones. Size, power consumption, network bandwidth, etc. are important too.


A cell phone is first and foremost a communication device, right? I should be able to clearly understand what the person on the other end of the phone is saying, right?
I changed my cell phone a few months ago. I had a fairly cheap LG, with no bell and whistles, but it sounded great. On both ends.

The available choices for it's replacement had every bell and whistle but sound terrible, even the big PDA versions. They are on a par with a cheap walkie-talkie, sound quality wise.

I don't think it's too much to expect a audio communication device to focus on that.

Tube amp not required. (my LG didn't have one.)
 
Re: Re: Re: Re: Listen carefully!!

MJL21193 said:



A cell phone is first and foremost a communication device, right? I should be able to clearly understand what the person on the other end of the phone is saying, right?
I changed my cell phone a few months ago. I had a fairly cheap LG, with no bell and whistles, but it sounded great. On both ends.

The available choices for it's replacement had every bell and whistle but sound terrible, even the big PDA versions. They are on a par with a cheap walkie-talkie, sound quality wise.

I don't think it's too much to expect a audio communication device to focus on that.

Tube amp not required. (my LG didn't have one.)

By the way, I use speakers from them in my line arrays. They are flat from 1 to 20 KHz except some <3 dB peak on 2 kHz.