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08-06-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 1
Post ID: 7990
Reply to: 7990
The Absolute Sound of Audio Idiocy.

Yesterday I was looking through “The Absolute Sound” off the stand. There was one moment  in there that made me to pay attention and to comment about the read. In the very beginning of the magazine, in the reader letters section, there was somebody who had issue with the validity of the expression “Absolute Sound”. I was attracted to this as I myself frequently use the term “Absolute Tone” and I would not have problem to use the term “Absolute Sound” if it not was blemished by the name of the habitually dummy publication. I had no problem with the TAS reader questioned the validity of the phrase “Absolute Sound”, after all, most of the readers of my site also have no understanding of my use of the phrase “Absolute Tone”. So, I was wondering what the TAS folks would reply. They did reply and I call the reply idiotic. (Who would expect it from me!?)

I did not buy that TAS issue, so it will not be a quote but rather an abstract of what I remember. I think it was Robert Harley who replied, or HP or one of their matriarchs….Anyhow he said that instead of reviewing audio elements based upon their comparative performances, one of the magazine’s founders came up with a “shining” idea to review audio in relation to sound of unamplified acoustic instruments. This sound they described as the “Absolute Sound”.

Well, it is certainly a creative play upon the feeble minds of the TAS’s reader. If the sound of unamplified acoustic instruments is the Absolute Sound then what is has to do with the tasks of audio reproduction? If the goal of audio (according to TAS) is to reach the Absolute Sound by artificial ways then I presume audio shell be mimicking the unamplified acoustic instruments, right?  The problem is that live sound of “unamplified acoustic instruments” is one thing and any sound of audio reproduction is very different thing. They have the same external sonic manifestations but generally they are as much similar as smell of ocean similar to the smell of fish department in “Bread and Circus” (for foreigners - believe me or not but it is the name for a popular US food retailer). It is not that that I say that Audio sound is not good – it is different and has own expressive means and own effectual values. The worst thing a person can do is to “externally compare” the live sound with audio sound. This is EXECTLY what the TAS’s people propose: they invented the concept of Absolute Sound, the concept that understood ONLY in weighing of live against reproduced sounds but at the same time the concept that is completely incompatible with the comparing premises. In the muddy wetter of the endless and even theoretically not accomplishable comparing between live sound of “unamplified acoustic instruments” and the audio sound surrogate TAS magazine right along with the entire stupid high-end industry throw the fishing net, the net constructed with artificial and faulty audio requirements and with gullible fished-out consumers completely misguided in this their peruse to the faulty mirage-like goals 

The ambiguity and confusion that TAS flaks created with the deployed of their marketing bogusness is not too accidental and it has two layers.  First layer is the primitivism of the people who run the TAS. Yep, folks, you will be surprised to know that behind the all pompous blubbing, their funny “40 years in the business experience” and patronizing attitude most of those people are very limited in understanding of what is important and what is going on. They are in a way the victims of own invention where the metastases of “audio comparing” that they injected into audio industry have concurred, enslaved and spoiled this own frail minds. The second layer is that only in the environment of comparing live sound with audio sound trios people and their idiotic industry can actually sale something. Do not forget that anything those people do has the only one motivation - to maintain audio saleable. Those people cannot afford to think about audio and the ways for an individual using the means of audio to address own interest in sound (which is THE Absolute Sound). They cannot afford it because it would be nothing for them to sell. You can’t build an industry based upon expansion of listening awareness and simulation of interpretive-listening consciousness. Those TAS people need to have a brown UPS track monthly to deliver some kind of new crap to the cretin who subscribes the industry’s rules of the game. It is very much like health. How good a pharmaceutical company would do if people live healthy and in clean environment? Probably let people to eat previously eaten food, to drink gasoline and to breathe gas is something that helps to the pharmaceuticals to peddle their medications…

To “eat previously eaten food, to drink gasoline and to breathe gas” - was it the sonic equivalency of the TAS’s late recommended audio components, wasn’t it? Sure, it was what I call the TAS’s Absolute Sound of Audio Idiocy.

Rgs, Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
08-07-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 498
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 2
Post ID: 7992
Reply to: 7990
The Goal of Audio
Romy,

I really do not understand this diatribe against the idea of the absolute sound.  You mention in fact your own idea of absolute tone.  Surely the goal of audio reproduction is to faithfully convey the portion of the emotional and acoustic information recorded by the microphones at the time of the original musical event?

Yes, it is much like playing telephone with two tin cans and a piece of string, but audio can remind us of the music we love like a photograph of a seashell reminds us of the ocean, which I think is not a bad thing.

How then shall we assess our efforts in audio?  While it is inexact to compare audio reproduction to live music, it frees us from the endless relativistic comparisons between different audio components, the audiophile trap.  Is it so wrong to cast off these chains?

Adrian
08-07-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Antonio J.
Madrid, Spain
Posts 272
Joined on 08-16-2004

Post #: 3
Post ID: 7993
Reply to: 7992
As I see it
Romy criticizes the absurdity of taking the "sound" of a live performance -of some serious music- as the rule against which to measure an audio system's performance. There's no way reproduced sound can be a perfect copy of natural sound.
However there're a completely different set of objectives you can aim using audio, which are different, and should be, for anyone of us. There're evolved objectives, which sit into a realm different than pure sonic performance, and there're basic, elemental objectives, that are the ones that most people looks at, but which are quite irrelevant to get to the evolved ones.

IMHO audio should aim to the evolved set of objectives, which raise from our own self-knowledge and also our interaction with the music at higher levels than sound. Keeping the audio thing at the level of reaching good sonic performance mimicking natural sounds, is not very evolved, nor trully satisfying for someone having deep interaction with the music.

Elaborating from your photograph example, the "common audio" approach would be having that picture made in a big format, with a very closed diaphragm, so you can see clearly defined every layer in depth, using the film brand that better captures natural colors, trying it to resolve every tiny detail and light nuance, and even using flash or auxiliar light sources to have everything resolved and captured. Would that get you closer to your feelings when you were exposed to the real view?... The evolved approach to that picture making, would be the one of using the necessary "tricks" if needed, to help you feeling right the same you felt when seeing the view, and if possible inducing new sentiments. This would need disregarding if there's perfect focus on every part of the picture, there're imperfect shadow definitions or you need to make an effort to actually see something that the picture just indirectly suggests.

Perhaps some people can have the deep emotions looking at the "perfect" picture, but the ones who had a profound interaction with the view, would experiment a deeper impression looking at their "personally tailored" one.

Rgrds
08-07-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
guy sergeant
United Kingdom
Posts 258
Joined on 08-03-2004

Post #: 4
Post ID: 7994
Reply to: 7993
A consistent medium?
There are times when a photograph, however well taken, is not enough. The contemporary British artist Lucien Freud  paints portraits that tell more about the scene and the subject than perhaps a photograph ever could. This interpretation somehow conveys more of the sitter and their surroundings although upon close inspection there are colours and textures in the paint that could never have been there on the skin of the model. I suspect that this might be more analagous to the kind of sound representation that Romy feels an audio system should re-create. Whether this kind of 'lens' can be held in front of all music and convey the enough of the depth of its meaning regardless of genre is perhaps questionable. Just as Freud's technique might not be applied to and convey the impact of a bridge, a church or a landscape as well as some other representative means.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucien_Freud
08-07-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Antonio J.
Madrid, Spain
Posts 272
Joined on 08-16-2004

Post #: 5
Post ID: 7995
Reply to: 7994
That's the point
If you face audio as the means to get everything that was recorded, then you need no high-end devices, get some professional gear and you're done. But if you assume audio as a means to get from the recorded music the essence that better comunicates with yourself, not trying to mimic a reality which is unattainable, then you're into a completely different practice.

Rgrds
08-07-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,148
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 6
Post ID: 7996
Reply to: 7994
Audio Journey to Ixtlan
Many years gone now, I have tried to keep in mind the sound of live acoustic instruments and voices as I tuned my hi-fi system, as it and I have evolved.  So far it seems that there are an infinite number of ways to "move closer" to a constantly-changing sense of an "Absolute Sound" without actually "getting there", until this movement itself becomes the ego-centric, relativistic motion/change-in-and-of-itself that Antonio describes.  While I might say I am closer to "live sound" now than I have ever been, I could not from this infer that it is in fact a greater relative proportion of or closer proximity to to the "Absolute Sound" that most involves me musically.

For some time now I have been thinking  about how noise undermines/sabotages "fidelity" in hi-fi.  Ironically, it appears that "FR" means noise, as well.  Also, "true" LF is so elusive in practical terms that I imagine I am not alone in virtually "writing it off" when I listen to hi-fi, as though somehow the "Absolute Sound" can exist without true LF.

You wouldn't know it from the above, but I remain open to the idea of Sonic Fidelity.  However, I have to admit that my ideas about what constitutes "Fidelity" have changed since I put the ML2s in play.

Another Perpetual Irony for me has been that the "closer" I get in terms of rote "fidelity", the clearer it becomes just how wide the gap is.  Adumbration, I suppose...

I can feel new ideas about music (re)production taking shape in my mind, but they are forming "differently" now than they were even 1 year ago.  Even though I am still listening/looking for pure Fidelity, Music itself, more than ever, has become the driving force, and by this I'm pretty sure I mean the Language of Music more than its "absolute sound" as rendered via hi-fi, which, as I have written before, appears to be a moving target, although certainly still no less than this is so in terms of one's evolving appreciation of Music.

While I choke on the the "if you like it, then it's good" theory, it's OK that there's more than one road to Ixtlan.

Best regards,
Paul S
08-08-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 7
Post ID: 7998
Reply to: 7995
The Absolute vs. Relative Sounds

 Antonio J. wrote:
If you face audio as the means to get everything that was recorded, then you need no high-end devices, get some professional gear and you're done.

Antonio, you did nailed it but with a minor correction. If you need a factual, a materialistic, an accurate representation of everything that was recorded then you might use any audio devise and the result will be only upon you (or somebody else) sell to you the definition of reproduction success. However, the “everything that was recorded” is NOT musical representation of performing event. The “everything that was recorded” is just a projection of the original event into a language of physical, mathematical or acoustic approximations.  The approximations describe Really but it is not Really itself and pointing attention to description of Really we unavoidably take out aim out of the Really itself. It is like an infant is crying because it experiences hanger for instance and you recognize the sound of the baby’s voice without recognizing the needs to feed it. The TAS does with this vision of “Absolute Sound” exactly that – they eliminated the commodity that they can’t trade - the human consciousness - and they use the “Absolute Sound” as a set of external approximations that compare Really and the clone of Really. The “Absolute Sound” doe not exist in this situation, what exists is ONLY the “Relative Sound”. The true “Absolute Sound” is a perception and it could not exist without awareness of listener.  The TAS version of “Absolute Sound” is in fact “Relative Sound” spiced with ever-changing industry literature to wrap the “Relative Sound” into the glossy paper of “Absolute Sound”.

 Antonio J. wrote:
But if you assume audio as a means to get from the recorded music the essence that better comunicates with yourself, not trying to mimic a reality which is unattainable, then you're into a completely different practice.

Yes, I would not be able to express it better myself. Actually, Guy did express it better than me in his post above. What Lucien Freud does is in my view is the highest form of artistic expressiveness imaginable and I am very glad that someone sees some similarity between what Lucien Freud does with painting and what I am trying to do with audio. Lucien Freud paintings are like the Gabriel Márquez’s Melquiades - the gypsy who poses the “another knowledge” and that saw other side of the sings – the essential core side – the side the made everything else derivative. Can the Lucien Freud’s paintings be considered as “Relative Depicturing” or “Absolute Depicturing” (read Sound)? The answers would wary depending of what you are doing. If you are a little whore who made own objective to sell audio devises then what Lucien Freud does is very far from “Absolute Depicturing”. You would probably stick with the painters who practice Realistic Painting techniques and would be abscessed how a painting is differ from the same photograph. That is where the “Relative Depicturing” rules and it where TAS’s awareness operates. However if one have interest into the eccentric character of the things then we are in the “completely different practice” and in completely different set of demands. Here is the realm where “Absolute Depicturing” aka “Absolute Sound” might be possible.

Rgs, Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
08-08-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,148
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 8
Post ID: 7999
Reply to: 7998
The "Spin"
Of course the All-Important Idea of Consciousness is not and never will be a commodity, which pretty much guarantees that we will read precious little about it in consumer-oriented magazines like TAS, etc.  And, naturally, their consumer-oriented approach also means that what they do write is likely to be marketing-speak rather than profound abstract thinking.   Taking it a "logical" step farther, they constantly re-hash any and all ideas, good and bad, simply in order to "test the market" for them, with Absolutely no consideration for the Idea other than trying to gauge the "market" in terms of units sold.  And, of course, their own notions of the Absolute Sound are no exception.

Still, regardless of where HP/TAS ended up, and moving on from TAS's version, I think there is merit in the idea of keeping the "complete" sound of music in mind (eg., the Absolute Tone) as one develops a sound system, given, of course, one also has some rational ideas about Music.  After all, we don't want the whole thing to sound like a kazoo, right?  As it happens, it was Stereophile founder (and recording engineer) J. Gordon Holt who always insisted that the system should "accurately" render everything on the recording, and he went on from there to talk about how best to record.  HP differed in that he +/- abstracted the idea of live acoustic music as +/- an aural pivot/litmus test for the entire "chain", and he then wrote endlessly on the expanded version of this root concept.  Meanwhile, JGH wanted to fix the responsibility for the "end product" (ie, the music) with the engineers.

But our own paths are not so simple, because in the Real World there are wild variations in sound from one end of the "sound chain" to the other, and there is No Way we are ever going to be able to do anything but interpret a musical event via hi-fi.  No question that this is the case; the only question is "How" (with critically important sub-sets of "what" and "why").

I get the L. Freud reference, but in many ways one might as well mention S. Freud in the same context.  Sure, I get the drift, but I happen to think Jung is more fun, and I think L. Freud's ideas are extreme enough to be both good and bad examples at the same time of the "Spin" one invariably puts on (re)produced sound, let alone music.  I like L. Freud, but I don't want nothing but his work all over my house.

Why doesn't anyone ever equate the total effect of video in terms of actual verisimilitude?  Maybe because most people lean 90% to visual, so it's just plain harder to fool many people with video?  In any case, I think it is obvious to most people that a video is "not the same" as what it "represents".

Carrying over the same truism to audio, this does make the idea of "the open window on the sound" a bit of a laugher.

Best regards,
Paul S
08-08-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 9
Post ID: 8000
Reply to: 7990
The true audio is lonely discipline by nature…
… and this certainly violates the idea of populization of audio by consumer publication. The absoluteness of audio orienteers dose not live in the audio loneliness but rather into a strict individualism of audio. However this individualism is applicable ONLY in situation when a person has individual, or better to say personal, requirements to the audio results. Those personally-bread demands and individually-tailored results are virtually non-existing in high-end audio and they are mostly bleached out by cookie-cutter requirements of lobbied demands and pre-sold result. Here is where the TAS with their version of “Absolute Sound” shines in full stupid glory…

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
08-09-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,148
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 10
Post ID: 8002
Reply to: 8000
Exactly!
Also, "marketing" is not really "Something for Everyone"; rather, it's "Choose from this lot at your price point".  And people continue to cruise this site with exactly that "pre-sold" mindset, that for a given amount of money they can expect a pre-metered/pro-rated "level" of "performance", which mindset always includes the notion that if "cost is no object" one can merely obtain "The Best".  Ha!

Shoppers/Grasshoppers: the only "secret" here is well hidden in plain sight:  You are your hi-fi.

Best regards,
Paul S
08-09-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
be
Copenhagen, Denmark
Posts 86
Joined on 02-12-2007

Post #: 11
Post ID: 8004
Reply to: 8002
Absolutely autonomous ego projected by various means.

Freud creates his own reality with the aide of sadistic and tenious demands of his victims/diciples/models and tries to make an aproximation of his inner vision on a canvas.

An audio guy can try to become his own composer/conducter/musician through the technical mastery of his stereos colorations, idiosyncrasies and neologisms by letting these filter or enhance a reproduction of a piece of art, forexample a CD.

This can be compared with taking a reproduction of a Freud painting and putting pieces of coloured glass and other objects in front of it and maybe adding an ornementation with a pen here and there or even covering parts of the painting with paper .  Further one could choose to illuminate it with ultraviolet light and maybe observe the result with a night vission with attached fish eye lenses. 

To try to recreate as much as possible of an unamplified instruments sounds, or other mechano-acoustic noices, is not necessarily less noble, easier or more primitive than the ”artistic” goals above and to get anywhere actually requires self awareness from a different (arguably higher) perspective .

What path to take, depends not only on your inclinations, creative drive, level of narcissism etc., but also on how much of the reality is represented in the reproduction, if not much there might not be a point in trying to be objective in a psycho acoustical context.

Cheers be

08-09-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 12
Post ID: 8005
Reply to: 8004
Be, and continuing your post I would add…
... that “absolute sound” exists ONLY in agreement of acknowledged results with person’s own inclinations, creative drive, level of narcissism etc., not to mention how much of the person’s perception of reality is represented in the reproduction s/he is trying to accomplish. Therefore the definition of success for “absolute sound” might be viewed only in context of user requirements and functional specifications for OWN success – something that TAS & Co. never were able to afford, recognize, sale or even to understand.

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
01-05-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
tokyo john
Narashino, Japan
Posts 32
Joined on 01-31-2006

Post #: 13
Post ID: 9351
Reply to: 8005
Japanese were right about absolute sound
fiogf49gjkf0d

It is funny but for many years I had been intrigued by the different approach to audio by Japanese vs "the West".
"The west" here refers to Absolute Sound type (not everyone in the West is this of course) criteria of live performance.

Confession time - having been a reader of TAS as a school kid in the 80's, I thought the Japanese were crazy to aim for "my own individual sound".
Audio magazines in Japan would never really criticize a reviewed product, but merely descibe its sound characteristics. If it has a unique sound, that was seen as good and of value.

As I grew older, I thought this was cynical business motivation; do not piss off any advertizers, in other words. (and could be true to great extent)
Until recently I put it down to religious differences; Japanese can and do worship many Gods in a superficial manner (pagan idolatry?), as compared to religions like Christianity and Islam that is more absolute in the sense that they demand to be the only religion subscribed to. (I was young)
More recently, I think the Japanese are just kind of more correct about audio in the Romy sense (his comments just above). Sometimes they are lucky I guess :-)

A little digression - this search for "my own sound" means that Japanese audio critics love expensive high-end equalizers (from Accuphase etc).
I play with an FM Acoustics linearizer myself from time to time (is like a Cello Audio Pallette, I believe). My initial hope was that it would replicate some nice characteristics of FM sound. Infidels, surely!?
01-05-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 498
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 14
Post ID: 9352
Reply to: 9351
Different ways of listening
fiogf49gjkf0d
 tokyo john wrote:
It is funny but for many years I had been intrigued by the different approach to audio by Japanese vs "the West". "The west" here refers to Absolute Sound type (not everyone in the West is this of course) criteria of live performance... [while] the Japanese ...aim for "my own individual sound".
I do not believe the two approaches are mutually exclusive. Recalling my previous post:

http://www.goodsoundclub.com/GetPost.aspx?PostID=8773

If a dog hears different frequencies and hears a sound differently than we do, it is easy to imagine there will be variation from person to person.

What listener is so perverse he does not want to be connected to the music, that does not make this his goal? Perhaps, we have the same goal, but hear differently, so we must take different paths to get to the same place.

Adrian
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  »  New  “How audio might sound”..  Re: Revealing Quality...  Playback Listening  Forum     8  43865  03-12-2005
  »  New  The elusive “absolute tone”...  Breeze......  Playback Listening  Forum     24  156355  07-28-2005
  »  New  Ways to use audio methods...  Classical Music and Video lines....  Playback Listening  Forum     10  62708  07-11-2006
  »  New  The “Inverted High End Audio” ™..  God is in the Nuances...  Playback Listening  Forum     30  143884  10-08-2006
  »  New  About destiny of “High-End Sound”...  Got today via email....  Playback Listening  Forum     6  45216  01-19-2007
  »  New  Playback journeys and Music..  Audio form and content...  Playback Listening  Forum     1  13763  04-29-2007
  »  New  About the Playbacks’ Thinkability...  The right stuff...  Playback Listening  Forum     5  28131  01-30-2009
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