Pursuing the Ultimate Music Experiences

Audio Federation High-Fidelity Audio Blog

Older people hear music better

Older people hear music better and there is hope for high-end audio as the earbud-wearing, cheap-headphone-toting kids grow older and start to hear more and more nuances and finer details of the music they are listening to

Some think we heard better when we were younger.

I used to think YES. This is exactly right.

That music sounded glorious in our teens because we could hear harmonics better. So even inferior stereo systems sounded Grrreat. [Boy, did they!]

That we spend our later years having to build systems with more and more resolution and harmonic content because we have a hard time getting the musical content past our aged ears and hardened listening centers and into our poor overworked tired brains

But now I really wonder if this is Bull Hockey.

That the young have unformed, lazy, uneducated ears. That they could hardly benefit from high res and rich harmonic content because their young ears and brains just cannot process it.

Of course, some people’s ears never grow up. They remain lazy and dull in their admittedly extra-curricular job as fine listening instruments.

But this explains why we have all these iPod, earbud-listening kids. This just sound grrreat to them. But later, as they get older, their ears will begin to develop and they will want a more refined listening experience.

This bodes well for the high-end audio business in the next couple of decades.

I came around to this point of view because sometimes I notice my ears becoming VERY sensitive. The sound of my [long] hair moving across my face was loud and annoying me. WTF?

I have come to realize that my hearing is often incredibly sensitive, especially in the early morning or late at night.

Often painfully so.

Well. Not painfully. Supremely annoyingly so, anyway, in the wrong environment.

So, it is not that screaming kids irritate adults because the kids are all that loud. It is that adults have more and more sensitive hearing as they age.

Sure we lose a few Hz at the top frequencies as we grow old, but the overall effect is one that allows us to hear the most fantastic nuances in music, voice, and in the sounds of the world all around us.

Cool huh? :-)

Subwoofer THIS

The subwoofer has an interesting role in high-end audio.

I’ve been thinking about these beast ever since we started our new high-end audio subwoofers page in the Audiophile’s Guide to the Galaxy

It is both loathed and reviled and cheered and loved with abandon.


1. If your system is not flat to 20 Hz, then your system sucks. It is just for leettle boys.

[Of course, at 100 dB, a subwoofer flat to 20 Hz... oh, excuse me, it says 15 Hz on the spec sheet, would have to be registered as a weapon of mass destruction. It would be hard to walk across the floor of most homes but at least the mice would finally give up and go live somewhere else :-).]

2. Subwoofers are cool and should indeed be registered as WMD

3. It is too expensive to buy a full-range speaker that goes this low


1. The crossover in your subwoofer is necessarily not as deft as that in your much-more-expensive speakers, and in any case it is different, so the overall sonic quality of your playback suffers.

2. Most real music does not go down to 20 Hz. In fact most modern music is heard through JBL-like speaker systems and the satisfying bass we hear on those systems is way above 20Hz.

3. Subwoofers take up space


Most people buy subs for home theater, pairing them with small speakers that only go down to 100Hz or so. They NEED to use subs to get any bass at all. I’ve heard Magnepan systems designed like this that were excellent – small Magnepan wall-hanging speakers and a REL sub.

Us? We’ll stick with full-range speakers that go down MOSTLY to 20… uh…. 25… uh … Hz. It works for us at this time.

Subs are just not a necessity for us.

However, having heard the Acapella ION Plasma tweeter again here for almost a year now – I think super tweeters might indeed be a necessity. :-)

[Having a hard time convincing Neli of this... but there is just so much more Presence and Life when the high frequencies are fully fleshed out...  Then again there are the same pesky CONs #1 and #3]

In the end, it is this argument [and not the "You ain't no manly man without a sub" argument :-)]:

How can it be “high fidelity” if your system can’t reproduce all of the frequencies?

I confess. We don’t use a subwoofer. And this question annoys me.


More high fidelity blogs to read. Ugh :-)

Added More high fidelity blogs to the Audiophile’s Guide high-end audio blogs and magazines page.

The featured photo is of HiFi Answers alternatively called Our Listeners Club. It seems to be the most opinionated and of most interest to me.

The Poor Audiophile also has some good food for thought. Loving it. Great name by the way.

Sound Perfection has a ton of reviews of Headphones and their paraphernalia. Kind of wish the index had links to the reviews…

The Ear is a modern magazine type website – nice and helps us keep up with what is happening to our audio world which we probably should do a better job of…

Three of these have feeds and will appear shortly on Ultimist.

But, first: time to Press Play.












Dark Star [Grayfolded]… Forever

The Grateful Dead playing Dark Star forever and ever and ever… Or. Are. They?

[Dark Star] Grayfolded 1 & 2 – John Oswald Grateful Dead. As CDs or as 3-LP 180-gram set

Let me pull some quotes from the Amazon comments:

“What Oswald did was use parts of the Dead playing “Dark Star” to create his own piece.”

“In some pressings of [CD] disc 2, there are three minutes of extra music hidden before the Multiple Garcias shout “transitive nightfall of diamonds”.

“He has taken over a hundred hours of tapes from the Dead Vaults ,all of performances of Dark Star and compiled ,segued and overdubbed a symphony of the Dead.”

“…as we hear Jerry Garcia in 1971 duelling with Jerry Garcia in 1991″

Part of “The Dark Star” effect, for me, is that we could listen as they actually had the guts to subject unwary crowds to this kind of  “This is how your thoughts sound on Pluto. Say Hello’ music. And how much the crowds [and me!] liked it.

This is not that.

That said, this album sounds like it would be very … uh…. inspiring. Yeah. That’s it. I bet they sell a lot in Boulder. It’s on my list [have to see if Neli will... uh.... not like.... them tampering with perfection by remixing the Dead like this. :-) ]

[Thanks to TwoGoodEars for posting about this album. Wow.]

High-end Audio Super Tweeters

We added a page for high-end audio super tweeters to the Audiophile’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Super tweeters are high fidelity stand-alone devices that produce very high frequencies. They tpically [I would say] start at about about 5000 Hz and often rise to above 20,000 Hz.

The help fill in high-frequency harmonics which in practice helps the midrange and other frequencies sound more authoritative and real – as well as adding the ‘air’ and ‘image solidity’ that one might expect.

Thought there would be a large number of these. But if there are, they are hard to find [kind of the reason for collecting them all in the guide in the first place].

One of the more popular, the MuRata series of spherical super tweeters, has stopped production:

MuRata Super Tweeters:

Translated from the Japanese:

“Notice of end of production of spherical tweeter and spherical speakers
concerning (harmonic enhancer) all models spherical tweeter and our spherical speakers then it has expanded over the long time, I was allowed to end all production and sales.
Inquiries such as repair for this product, toll-free: or, (00: 00-12 13:00: 00-17 9 excluding weekends and holidays, our regular holiday) 0120-015-008 here to ask I would like to. With Thanks very much for your patronage of the past, as will your understanding, thank you.”

As usual, if anybody knows of any high-end super tweeters [and we do not mean regular tweeters, which seems to be a lot of what Google finds] then PLEASE let us know about them.





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