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Accuracy or Musicality, Consumer Reports on Digital Audio, Putting on the Brakes – Audiophiledom April 14, 2015

Accuracy or Musicality, Consumer Reports on Digital Audio, Putting on the Brakes

Not much going on the last few days. Lots of ‘zines pulling out old posts.

This one caught my attention…

Who’s Right? Accuracy or Musicality (J. Gordon Holt, Stereophile, 1977)

I think they used to write longer articles back then than they do now.

Based on the brands mentioned, it seems like products with more accuracy have greater longevity than musicality. At least over the last 40 years.

Over the last 20?

It seems to me, as several major brands go under and/or get bought out – that it is the brand names that have longevity. Name recognition is very important in today’s crowded marketplace and online marketing chaos.

J. Gordon Holt’s point, to sum it up, is that whether a sound is accurate or musical is in the eye of the beholder [measurements tell us something but not nearly enough to be able to call something ‘accurate’] and that an audiophile should take a closer look at just who this beholder is that they are counting on for an assessment of the quality of a piece of audio gear.

Well, if he thought this “who is that beholder you are trusting” thing was a problem in 1977…. !!!

As Neli and I are called upon to reflect on what we have learned over the last 13 years after turning our high-end audio hobby into a business, and as we think seriously about expanding the business, it is the wide range of quality of equipment reviews, both by the trade and by the audiophile, that is, we feel [well, maybe I should leave Neli out of this :-)], primarily responsible for marginalizing our industry and putting a cap on any growth that might occur.

For example…

Manufacturers can consistently always find several people, trade and/or consumer, to give their product a positive review. And a lot of audiophiles put a lot of faith in these reviews. This means, for example, that from a buyers point of view, all $100K amps must be of equal quality, because they ALL get rave reviews. In fact, they all get several raving, drooling, OMG, OMG reviews.

This has fallout that I will write about when I am in a really, really bad mood [Neli tries to prevent me from reaching the keyboard at those times, so it might be awhile :-)]. The only antidote, at this time, seems to be more and more shows [yay!] and more good dealers who have good sound – places where people can hear things for themselves. [“Trust your ears, Luke”]

Consumer Reports

Michael Lavorgna [what is it with people named Michael being so much smarter than people with other names? :-)] over at AudioStream pointed to an article by Consumer Reports on How to make your digital music sound better which he says is a worthwhile article for non-audiophiles to read.

And it is!

And kind of funny too, in an inside joke kind of way.

Perhaps there is some implicit good ‘tide is turning’ news here when a mainstream publication starts treating music fidelity with respect?

Putting on the Brakes

Another post from the wayback machine.

This from 1923, no less.

This is your standard “anti-tweak, anti-technology, it should only be about the music, things sound good enough already” post.

In the last month, we covered at least two stories that were promulgated by essentially this exact type of personality. One was anti 24/192 (who needs these new digital formats? Digital is already perfect). And… Uhhhmmm… I am forgetting the other one.

Anyway, these people still tend to dominate the news and the discussion. I consider these people to be true, old fashioned high-end audio conservatives – they fight change for the sake of change. They provide a useful function, IMO. Not very exciting though [how about a 128 bit (VLW) / 1 Bhz format – now THAT would be AWESOME…! :-) ]

There is some discussion of this on InnerFidelity

Geez, all three posts were from Stereophile-rated websites. Sorry ’bout that folks. Next news blast is already shaping up to be different…

That’s hi-fi for now folks. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Rock Legends Cruise, DSD Live Streaming, Retro Hi-Fi – Audiophiledom April 5, 2015

Rock Legends Cruise, DSD Live Streaming, Retro Hi-Fi

This sounds like a blast! Rock Legends Cruise IV

This floating rock festival for a cause aboard Royal Caribbean International’s spectacular, Independence of the Seas, departs January 21 – 25, 2016 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


Peter FramptonGregg Allman
Grand Funk RailroadAmerica
John Kay & Steppenwolf
The Marshall Tucker Band | Randy Bachman
Ace Frehley | Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band | Uriah Heep
Foghat | The OutlawsRik Emmett
Kim Simmonds & Savoy Brown
The Pat Travers BandThe Artimus Pyle Band
The Devon Allman Band | Matthew Curry
Warrior’s Pride | Gary HoeyDana Fuchs





Oh, I hope this is the wave of the future. The heck with studio recordings and Recording Labels…

DSD Live Streaming
“In April, this site will stream two live concerts using the latest DSD 5.6 MHz digital audio format, as a proof-of-concept test for DSD online music distribution. These free presentations will be made possible through the kind cooperation of the Spring Festival in Tokyo, which is now in its 11th year, and the world-acclaimed Berliner Philharmoniker.”

Retro ads…

retro vintage modern hi-fi

Retro hi-fi girls…

retro vintage modern hi-fi

I find some of the posts on retro vintage modern hi-fi endlessly comforting. But YMMV.

Tidal Hate, roon and chosen.fm, CanJam SoCal wrapups – Audiophiledom April 2, 2015

Tidal Hate, roon and chosen.fm, CanJam SoCal wrapups

The Press hates TiDaL Streaming Music. They really do. Or they hate Jay-Z. I don’t get it [and no, it is not the press hating rich people – they LOVE rich people. Who do you think buys ads?]

Long detailed list of Hate Press in Computer Audiophile and a summary at AudioStream.

Some of it is people having problem with a subscription service. Mr Lavorgna comments that freemium is dead, but in fact it is growing rampantly, it is just not working out so well for the musicians and journalists yet. When one game can make $200M to $1B+ off of freemium, it is not dead. It is that the music services still suck, they just don’t know it yet.

Maybe Roon or Chosen.fm will fix this:



It appears that the core Sooloos team now sees the Online Streaming Cloud services light and is doing something about it at RoonLabs




And Chosen.fm is also trying to get it done right, where right means both music lovers and musicians both win.


Inner Fidelity and AudioHead both had blurbs on the CanJam show in South California that was.


Kind of slow news for a few days… must be that Spring! is finally rearing it wonderful head…. :-)

That’s hi-fi for now folks. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.


EMM Labs: MTRX Amplifier – The Sound of Quiet

EMM Labs: MTRX Amplifier – The Sound of Quiet

We started doing this by accident. Not sure I remember how we starting doing this, in actual fact. But once we did it was fun to do, and to demonstrate to people, because it produced such an amazing effect.

What did we do? With these 750 watt per channel solid-state monsters … I mean amplifiers?

We turned the volume down.

Way down.

So low that people could have a conversation using their ‘quiet voice’.

Well, maybe not quite that quiet. [Not when Neli was around, anyway, given her life-long love affair with that volume control :-). What’s a husband to  do? *sigh* :-)].

So, what was the effect? This amazing effect?

The  effect was that the music was still perfectly legible. It was just quieter.



Soundstaging, imaging, separation, timbre, decay, rhythm… the same as when the volume was turned up.

The background noise was THAT quiet.

The ability to control the speakers in the tiniest ways, which we have been posting about many times before when the volume was quite loud, apparently has as a consequence this other, unworldly, strange, Twilight Zone-like unique capability at very low volumes.

This makes the music really accessible at low volumes.

Typically, on other amps, music at low volume is missing a lot of information. So, for these ‘other’ amps,  much of the signal for most of these quiet subtle  notes is so close to zero that the notes start to fade into the amps background noise. Anthropomorphically, these amps are trying to figure out “Is it noise? Or is it a musical note?”

Bass, for example, with the  MTRX, is still there. It starts. It stops.

It even has slam…  it is just miniaturized. Those little bass notes are just a tiny little ‘Pump’, but it is still tightly rendered, with accurate start, stop, and decay.

Reminds me of those model train sets some people build, where everything looks like a real town, just smaller [Well. YMMV :-)].

The MTRX amps are so different from what has passed as ‘solid state amps’ for 50+ years.

We need a new category.

Maybe we could call these ‘Good Amps’. Or the others ‘Performance-challenged Amps’.  :-P

Anyway, the point here is that it is really important that an amp be able to control the small details of your music playback when the volume is turned down low, because then most of what you are hearing is small details.



33 days: 3 shows, digital technology is already perfect, standing waves – Audiophiledom March, 25, 2015

Octoberish show month, digital technology is already perfect,  standing waves. Three shows and counting in October / very early November.  Technology confuses yet another person. Understanding our complicated listening environments

Digital technology is already perfect

Another article about how digital is good enough and uses the common incoherent argument that compares the ear’s frequency range to the format that should be used to store, transmit and reconstitute music.

Why DACs Need to Become Like Digital Cameras — and Less Like TVs

These kind of articles should be ignored, people [of course, me linking to it and saying that people should ignore it means y’all will head on over there at the earliest opportunity :-0].

The first time I heard this technology-is-good-enough argument, a variant on it anyway, was in 1985, I think, when PCs with the new Intel 286 chip came out, replacing the standard 8088 chip.

PCs with the 286 were about, literally, a million times slower than PCs today. Or your smartphone. But a friend told me that this speed improvement at the time was ridiculous, “how fast did they think a secretary could type, anyway?”

And the digital camera vs TV thing? Just what the heck is that about? So much link-bait out there, getting kind of wacky doodle.




Shows – Eenie, Meenie, Miney, … I’m sure there must be a Moe

3 major shows in 33 days.

The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest October 2-4, 2015

TAVES in Torotono October 30 – November 1, 2015

You then have the New York Audio Show November 6-8, 2015

Its not like people don’t like shipping gear here, there and everywhere… But the real problem is that these 3 shows are actually good shows, and a person shouldn’t miss either of them if they like going to  shows.


Standing Waves

An interesting article on our acoustical environments 

That’s hi-fi for now folks. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.