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15ft XLR interconnects, $1950


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Let's see....

These magic interconnects are listed at $1,995.00 or Best Offer.

The body of the ad says $1950 (MSRP $900)

A little lower it says (MSRP = $3900)

But none of the above makes me think the seller is hopelessly confused. No--it's this part:

"For only $35 more, MSS HiFi will burn in this cable for 72 hours (or 3 cycles) on the Nordost Vidar cable burn-in device. The Vidar drives electrons in a special way through the conductors and the dielectrics, achieving results that are not possible with simply connecting the cable to a system. "

You think after selling some wire for 2 grand they're gonna chase dem electrons for free? And who doesn't love a bargain? Electron-chasing is regularly $50. Think of the savings!

PT Barnum was right.

Anyone wanna buy a nice bridge?

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Let's see....

These magic interconnects are listed at $1,995.00 or Best Offer.

The body of the ad says $1950 (MSRP $900)

A little lower it says (MSRP = $3900)

But none of the above makes me think the seller is hopelessly confused. No--it's this part:

"For only $35 more, MSS HiFi will burn in this cable for 72 hours (or 3 cycles) on the Nordost Vidar cable burn-in device. The Vidar drives electrons in a special way through the conductors and the dielectrics, achieving results that are not possible with simply connecting the cable to a system. "

You think after selling some wire for 2 grand they're gonna chase dem electrons for free? And who doesn't love a bargain? Electron-chasing is regularly $50. Think of the savings!

PT Barnum was right.

Anyone wanna buy a nice bridge?

This is the only industry based on a hobby that I can think of where people successfully make money selling high priced merchandise which either does nothing or so little and no better than far cheaper merchandise and yet still survive. Somewhere there's a guy who sells wooden volume control knobs (just the ordinary knobs he turns on a lathe) for $500 each. But it doesn't stop at the "exotica." CD players, speakers, amplifiers, hardly seem even remotely worth their price when you consider what goes into them. And when you ask why should something that costs less then $100 or $200 to build even at retail prices such as a small preamplifier based on three 6AT7 vacuum tubes sell for $10,000 the laughable answer almost always comes back as "research." And six months later there's always a new and improved model that obsoletes the previous one. The result of more research no doubt. And some people wonder why as Tom has said, this industry has died.

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This is the only industry based on a hobby that I can think of where people successfully make money selling high priced merchandise which either does nothing or so little and no better than far cheaper merchandise and yet still survive.

You must not watch a lot of late night TV. Compared to weight-loss product scams, "high end audio" makers are rank amateurs. You might not consider weight-loss a "hobby," but the range of products and instructional videos available sure make it look like one to me.

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This is the only industry based on a hobby that I can think of where people successfully make money selling high priced merchandise which either does nothing or so little and no better than far cheaper merchandise and yet still survive. Somewhere there's a guy who sells wooden volume control knobs (just the ordinary knobs he turns on a lathe) for $500 each. But it doesn't stop at the "exotica." CD players, speakers, amplifiers, hardly seem even remotely worth their price when you consider what goes into them. And when you ask why should something that costs less then $100 or $200 to build even at retail prices such as a small preamplifier based on three 6AT7 vacuum tubes sell for $10,000 the laughable answer almost always comes back as "research." And six months later there's always a new and improved model that obsoletes the previous one. The result of more research no doubt. And some people wonder why as Tom has said, this industry has died.

Realisticly, I think Tom is correct. High end audo is currently fading out if favor of simple, small and convenient. It's my opinion Bose has helped the state of affairs by claiming their systems are as good as the high end systems. Those of us who've heard both know this isn't true, but the marketing is brilliant. Then there's the current iPod craze. Easy, small, convenient and they can reasonably reproduce noise. I've nothing per se against computers but I have had hard drives fail and have see commercial grade RAID 5 arrays loose everything. I want my source on something a bit more permanent than a flash drive, hard drive, Etc.

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Somewhat unfortunately, those among us who care and absess more about the sound of the music rather than the music itself are slowly becoming an extinct breed. I note 'unfortunately' because it's their caring and obsessing that has elevated the equipment technology to a state that most of us can truly enjoy the music more for what it is.

I also agree, it is evident from the popularity of iPods, etc... the convenience and portability of music is clearly what most of the public want and I think it is becaue they can hear much of what was recorded and are happy with that level of clarity and definition.

To me as long as instruments and voices sound like they are supposed to and I can recognize them for what they are, I'm happy. :lol:

p.s. No, I don't own an iPod.

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IMO, the primary cause of the demise of high-end audio isn't Bose cubes or iPods, but home theater. High-end audio has always been as much a game of one-upmanship as a pursuit of better sound; for some perhaps more. The downside of audio-only one-upmanship is that the only people who are impressed by a $100,000 audio system are other audiophiles; the average non-audiophile won't even recognize a lot of the gear as being ridiculously expensive. But everyone can recognize and understand the amounts of money that go into creating a home theater with a 120" projection display, and the over-emphasized bass that the average consumer seems to find so impressive becomes a sonic asset rather than a flaw when the source changes from Dvorak to exploding Death Star.

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Realisticly, I think Tom is correct. High end audo is currently fading out if favor of simple, small and convenient. It's my opinion Bose has helped the state of affairs by claiming their systems are as good as the high end systems. Those of us who've heard both know this isn't true, but the marketing is brilliant. Then there's the current iPod craze. Easy, small, convenient and they can reasonably reproduce noise. I've nothing per se against computers but I have had hard drives fail and have see commercial grade RAID 5 arrays loose everything. I want my source on something a bit more permanent than a flash drive, hard drive, Etc.

Based on most of what passes for music today it is my opinion that mp3 and ipod technology is radical overkill.

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IMO, the primary cause of the demise of high-end audio isn't Bose cubes or iPods, but home theater.

Actually, another train of thought might say just the opposite. Quality audio components and 2-channel music listening died completely as a viable commercial market sometime in the '90's, maybe even earlier. Aging Baby Boomers who purchased their Pioneer receivers and Advents in the '70's were pretty much through buying 2-channel audio by 1990-something.

Home Theater extended the life of the quality component market by several years. Onkyo, Marantz, Yamaha, Denon and all the other mass-market electronics mfgrs would be out of business completely if not for HT. Same with the step-up companies like McIntosh, Rotel, Parasound, etc. They're now making 3- and 5-channel power amps and 5.1 pre-amp/processors for HT use. Very high-quality gear. If the HT market didn't exist, they'd be gone.

If they were gone, so too would be most of the speaker companies. At least there is SOME interest in real high-fidelity Home Theater audio. Look at the mags like Home Theater and Sound & Vision. They review and recommend good gear, for people who still care about audio quality.

If there was no home theater market, there'd be no good audio equipment being offered by anyone. 2-channel was already gone as a viable (as opposed to fringe) market a decade ago.

That's the way it is. Home theater didn't kill the 2-ch audio market. That market died on its own, for numerous reasons that I and others have previously explained in great detail.. HT SAVED the equipment manufacturers and provided a new market for them into which to sell their goods.

Steve F.

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That's the way it is. Home theater didn't kill the 2-ch audio market. That market died on its own, for numerous reasons that I and others have previously explained in great detail.. HT SAVED the equipment manufacturers and provided a new market for them into which to sell their goods.

That's certainly true for the large manufacturers of "mid fi" (which covers everything that I own), but the market segment that used to buy 2-ch Pioneer receivers and Advent speakers was never the same as the "high end" audiophiles who might be inclined to shell out nearly $2k for a set of interconnects. That bunch was always a niche, and based on the smaller number of dealers I see still catering to it vs those that have morphed into custom HT installers, it's a much smaller one than it used to be.

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That's certainly true for the large manufacturers of "mid fi" (which covers everything that I own), but the market segment that used to buy 2-ch Pioneer receivers and Advent speakers was never the same as the "high end" audiophiles who might be inclined to shell out nearly $2k for a set of interconnects. That bunch was always a niche, and based on the smaller number of dealers I see still catering to it vs those that have morphed into custom HT installers, it's a much smaller one than it used to be.

"Mid-fi" is a term audiophiles coined for other people's expensive equipment they don't like...or are jealous of ;)

It was interesting about the cables. It comes so early and is so simple and therefore covered so quickly (no more than one lecture at most) I'd all but forgotten it. To any electrical engineer, the telegrapher's equation is all you need to know about cables. That and how to perform simple filter network calculations and that's basically it. The model must be close to 100 years old at least and may be a lot older than that. It has always correlated excellently with experimental measurements. Practical experience shows that a one dollar Radio Shack interconnect cable can transfer an NTSC video signal with over three hundred times the bandwidth of a high fidelity audio signal from one piece of gear to another flawlessly. Anything different from that is flawed but the market is as gullable as it is ignorant.

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"Mid-fi" is a term audiophiles coined for other people's expensive equipment they don't like...or are jealous of ;)

It's always seemed like a perfectly valid description of the range of products I tend to buy. "High end" audio prices reach the point where they seem absurd to me long before they reach the point where I can't afford them.

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I'll throw another idea into the blender. Does the death of 2 ch audio approximately corrolate with the decline of the music industry overall? It amazes me the number of "kids" that have discovered the music from the 70's and 80's and think it's new. This in itself is a testiment to quality of the era and the poor quality commonly being produced today.

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I'll throw another idea into the blender. Does the death of 2 ch audio approximately corrolate with the decline of the music industry overall? It amazes me the number of "kids" that have discovered the music from the 70's and 80's and think it's new. This in itself is a testiment to quality of the era and the poor quality commonly being produced today.

The death of 2-channel audio--whether 'mid'-fi or high-end--has more to do with shifting demographics and new time demands than anything else.

I'll reprise a post of mine from 3 years ago and run it up the flagpole:

"Most of us on this Forum—with all due apologies to Charger, Joe N, Mark and a few others—are in the 40-ish to 60-ish year old category. We have a remembrance from 20 or 30 years ago to listening closely, critically, to music at home for hours on end, uninterrupted. Perhaps some of us still have the time to do so.

However, things in the wider marketplace have changed dramatically. I’ll make an observation that may elicit howls of protest or cheers of agreement, but here it is: Most people today, especially younger than us (again, apologies in advance to the younger people on the Forum if this generalization doesn’t apply to them), use music as a kind of “aural wallpaper,” something that occupies a background position, but does not command their primary attention. As such, their requirements for super-fidelity equipment and recordings are much different—much less—than ours were. The primary requirements for them are convenience, clarity, ease of use, reliability, and affordability.

I can remember—vividly!—arguing with my friend (a Large Advent owner) that my 2ax’s did a better job of reproducing the unique sound of Mel Lewis’ 20” Zildjian pang cymbal (a very unique-sounding gong-like cymbal) than did his Advents. We would play the track “Tow Away Zone” from the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis big band album “Central Park North” over and over and over again, hanging on every note, listening intently as Lewis switched from his regular ride cymbal to the pang ride as the chorus switched from Joe Farrell’s sax solo to Eddie Daniels’ sax solo.

People don’t listen that way anymore. Not as a matter of course. But I did. You did too. It was just what we did.

So…are today’s manufacturers simply responding to the new realities of the marketplace’s requirements when they make today’s equipment?

I said the following in a post last April (2006) and it’s still relevant to this discussion:

1. Convenience, not ultimate quality, is king. Now that playback quality has reached a pretty high default minimum level, it’s convenience that rules. The iPod is an excellent example. Not really as good as a CD, even to so-called untrained ears, but pretty darned good on an absolute basis nonetheless. Do people sample at the highest rate for best quality, even though that means fewer songs will fit? No, they sample at the lowest rate, to fit the maximum number of songs. Know why? Because to the average user, the lowest sampling rate still sounds acceptably good. Far better than their $29 GE clock radio. Good enough so that quality is not the issue. Quality has passed the threshold to where convenience now is paramount. But in 1969, we argued over every subtle difference between the Advent and the 2ax. Not anymore for today’s 25-40 year-old. Convenience is king because quality is more or less automatic and expected.

There is so much competition for today’s discretionary hobby/leisure time dollar that audio/sit-at-home music listening is yesterday’s pastime. Now there are computers, DVD, soccer/little league obligations, golf with your buddies on weekends, you name it, all manner of activities and distractions that we, as 50-somethings, either didn’t have at all or didn’t have to anywhere near the same degree in the 60’s and 70’s. When was the last time you just sat down on a Saturday afternoon and spent 3 hours listening to music on your system? More importantly, have your adult children EVER done that? No, they haven’t. (At least mine haven’t, and if you’re honest, yours haven’t either.)"

There. That's my take, as I said three years ago.

Steve F.

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1. Convenience, not ultimate quality, is king.

You said it! I remember how thrilled I was when we got a big high-def TV. We now enjoy movies in our living room with a big, sharp image and an earth-shaking surround sound (classic speakers of course!). I'm flabbergasted by (young) people who not only listen to compressed MP3s through crappy ear buds but also watch movies on their "smart" phones! Wow--there's a true entertainment experience. Can't wait to download Avatar to my cell phone. Sheesh! What's the world coming to?

btw--much as I enjoy my surround sound system (Onkyo receiver, AR4x front, AR7 rear, Cambridge Soundworks sub), I also maintain a more "purist" 2-channel system. That one keeps changing. Right now the main speakers are AR2ax, with KLH Twelves in my work area. Plan to put some OLAs in place of the ARs, then try KLH Fives, then JansZen Z-800s. Those are all works in progress. Amp? Sold my AR amp and am temporarily using a monster Sylvania receiver while my "new" MAC4100 is being tuned up. FM comes through a Scott 350C tube tuner. My tech says the Fishers are far superior, but the Scott pleases both the eye and the ears.

i Pod! Bah! Humbug!

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It is such a shame that so many people who have easy and inexpensive access to music don't take advantage of it. Listening to music is one of the most enriching experiences in life. It harms no one. It can be enjoyed at any age by people of any means. I'm talking about real music, not recordings of music. Playing a musical instrument is even more enriching but that requires discipline and committment, a comnodity often in short supply. It is remarkable how many students we get here who want to learn to play a string instrument or the piano have never heard a single piece of classical music in their lives, not even a recording of one. Many know few songs. I've got a friend whose young children don't know any songs at all. How sad. One factor is the end of teaching any music courses in the public schools.

The hope and promise of those who sold equpment for playing recordings of music was once that it would duplicate the audible experience of hearing real music. It was expected that as time went on, progress would be made that would close the gap between what the technology would offer and what real music sounded like. That is what makes this site so interesting, that was the goal of the people who created the equipment we collect, restore, and value here. I think for many that is why they value it. The LvR demos were not a trick as some suggest, it was an appeal to prospective buyers in the market for loudspeakers that at least under some admittedly contrived situations, the speakers were approximately capable of it. It also revealed the goal and philosophy of Acoustic Research Inc at the time. This may explain in part why during that period it had the lion's share of the market. At that time the expectation was that the process would continue to improve products through research and development leading to technological advances. Quadraphonic sound was probably the last gasp in this effort. It didn't fail becuase of the multiplicity of systems or the cost and complexity of of the equipment, it failed because it was a technical failure, it didn't live up to its billing.

The effort basically died at that point. When I say it, it gets some people angry, especially people who make money working in this industry. When those in the industry say it, they get a grudging nod and people just go back to the way things are. The editors of TAS magazine said it about 5 years ago. Gordon Holt said it at a talk which was reprinted in Stereophile Magazine.

http://stereophile.com/asweseeit/811/#

"I've been getting the impression that we don't believe our own hype anymore. No one today would claim seriously that a reproducing system sounds "just like the real thing." And we're right. I've heard hundreds of classical concerts, a few stadium rock concerts, and a number of electric instruments playing in nightclubs and music stores, and I can attest that the vast majority of so-called high-end systems don't come CLOSE to reproducing those sounds."

"But what's worse is that, among ourselves, we seem to have come to a tacit agreement that it's no longer necessary, or even desirable, for a home music system to sound like the real thing."

That speech was made in 1992. Here's the folloup 15 years later;

http://stereophile.com/asweseeit/1107awsi/

Atkinson: "Do you still feel the high-end audio industry has lost its way in the manner you described 15 years ago?"

Holt: "Not in the same manner; there's no hope now. Audio actually used to have a goal: perfect reproduction of the sound of real music performed in a real space. That was found difficult to achieve, and it was abandoned when most music lovers, who almost never heard anything except amplified music anyway, forgot what "the real thing" had sounded like. Today, "good" sound is whatever one likes. As Art Dudley so succinctly said [in his January 2004 "Listening," see "Letters," p.9], fidelity is irrelevant to music."

"Since the only measure of sound quality is that the listener likes it, that has pretty well put an end to audio advancement, because different people rarely agree about sound quality. Abandoning the acoustical-instrument standard, and the mindless acceptance of voodoo science, were not parts of my original vision. "

Call me Don Quixote or Ponce de Leon, I've been on this quest much of my life. I don't ever give up and I don't compromise. The beatiful sound that live music can be is my quest and I won't pretend or say that I or anyone else is close to reaching it unless they actually have....much to the chagrin of some people. In my opinion, this problem is definitely solvable...by people who have the technical skills, financing, and freedom to explore the problem to its conclusion. At this time I don't see that those conditions exist anywhere.

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The topic of whether or not the goal of high fidelity equipment is (or even should be) to convince the home listener that they’re hearing live music is certainly an interesting discussion. That goal could be accomplished one of two ways:

1. By convincing the listener that the musicians are actually in their home living space (possibly an attainable goal for a solo piano or string quartet or jazz trio), or

2. By “transporting” the listener to another venue, with a recording and equipment that accurately reproduces the acoustic space and cues of the original performance space, thus creating a believable illusion of being present at the performance.

These may or may not be the goals of recording engineers and equipment manufacturers. I suppose we could argue whether they are worthy goals or whether manufacturers ever really took these goals seriously. Perhaps they did at one time and perhaps that has changed in recent times, for various reasons (diminishing customer interest, realization on the part of manufacturers/recording companies of the unattainability of the goal, etc.)

From my perspective, this was never the appeal of hi fidelity music reproduction. Never. I am a formally-trained musician, and I have attended/performed in countless classical concerts and jazz performances. I love music. I know what it sounds like live.

For me, the appeal of good hi-fi is that it does a darned-good job of rendering a very effective facsimile of the real thing in my home. I can hear the inner details of the music, which is very gratifying. I get some enjoyable low-bass visceral impact. I jump a little when Buddy Rich surprises me and hits a loud rim shot on his snare drum because it reminds me—very closely—of the real thing. When I can recognize that Jack DeJohnette is playing Sonar drums on a Stanley Turrentine album, it makes me feel good, like I’m “in” on the story. It takes really good speakers to reveal that level of detail and I enjoy having them.

But not for a split second have I ever been fooled into thinking that Jack DeJohnette was actually in my living room or that I was at the Jazz Workshop listening to him live. I never EXPECTED to be fooled into thinking either of those things.

That expectation is wholly unrealistic in my view. If equipment manufacturers/recording engineers really think they could do that, it’s either cynical or naïve on their part. I don’t fault them one bit for advertising such or implying that they can. I can read between the lines and come to my own conclusions. So can you.

I’ve always measured my satisfaction with a hi-fi system by the degree to which it APPROACHES “live” sound, by the degree to which it approximates the way real instruments/voices sound.

But expect there to be living, breathing musicians performing in my room? Expect to feel like I’m sitting at a stage-side table in a smoky nightclub?

No. Never my expectation. And not my yardstick of evaluation. I suspect not many other people’s either.

Steve F.

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I've written here before that it could be possible to duplicate the sound of acoustic instruments if ever the technology was developed to play the actual instruments in your living room - although hall ambience would still be a problem. Thus the perineal problem of the moving coil loudspeaker will be a thing of the past.

OTOH, Yamaha new offers concert grand pianos that will play many of the classic pieces right in your living room (if you can afford it) thru the use of pre-programmed CD's. http://www.yamaha.co.jp/english/product/piano/e3/

Now that's live music!

But, for many of us who enjoy a facsimile thereof (me included) we understand it's not so much the sound of the music, but instead, the music itself.

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It is such a shame that so many people who have easy and inexpensive access to music don't take advantage of it. Listening to music is one of the most enriching experiences in life. It harms no one. It can be enjoyed at any age by people of any means. I'm talking about real music, not recordings of music. Playing a musical instrument is even more enriching but that requires discipline and committment, a comnodity often in short supply. It is remarkable how many students we get here who want to learn to play a string instrument or the piano have never heard a single piece of classical music in their lives, not even a recording of one. Many know few songs. I've got a friend whose young children don't know any songs at all. How sad. One factor is the end of teaching any music courses in the public schools.

The hope and promise of those who sold equpment for playing recordings of music was once that it would duplicate the audible experience of hearing real music. It was expected that as time went on, progress would be made that would close the gap between what the technology would offer and what real music sounded like. That is what makes this site so interesting, that was the goal of the people who created the equipment we collect, restore, and value here. I think for many that is why they value it. The LvR demos were not a trick as some suggest, it was an appeal to prospective buyers in the market for loudspeakers that at least under some admittedly contrived situations, the speakers were approximately capable of it. It also revealed the goal and philosophy of Acoustic Research Inc at the time. This may explain in part why during that period it had the lion's share of the market. At that time the expectation was that the process would continue to improve products through research and development leading to technological advances. Quadraphonic sound was probably the last gasp in this effort. It didn't fail becuase of the multiplicity of systems or the cost and complexity of of the equipment, it failed because it was a technical failure, it didn't live up to its billing.

The effort basically died at that point. When I say it, it gets some people angry, especially people who make money working in this industry. When those in the industry say it, they get a grudging nod and people just go back to the way things are. The editors of TAS magazine said it about 5 years ago. Gordon Holt said it at a talk which was reprinted in Stereophile Magazine.

http://stereophile.com/asweseeit/811/#

"I've been getting the impression that we don't believe our own hype anymore. No one today would claim seriously that a reproducing system sounds "just like the real thing." And we're right. I've heard hundreds of classical concerts, a few stadium rock concerts, and a number of electric instruments playing in nightclubs and music stores, and I can attest that the vast majority of so-called high-end systems don't come CLOSE to reproducing those sounds."

"But what's worse is that, among ourselves, we seem to have come to a tacit agreement that it's no longer necessary, or even desirable, for a home music system to sound like the real thing."

That speech was made in 1992. Here's the folloup 15 years later;

http://stereophile.com/asweseeit/1107awsi/

Atkinson: "Do you still feel the high-end audio industry has lost its way in the manner you described 15 years ago?"

Holt: "Not in the same manner; there's no hope now. Audio actually used to have a goal: perfect reproduction of the sound of real music performed in a real space. That was found difficult to achieve, and it was abandoned when most music lovers, who almost never heard anything except amplified music anyway, forgot what "the real thing" had sounded like. Today, "good" sound is whatever one likes. As Art Dudley so succinctly said [in his January 2004 "Listening," see "Letters," p.9], fidelity is irrelevant to music."

"Since the only measure of sound quality is that the listener likes it, that has pretty well put an end to audio advancement, because different people rarely agree about sound quality. Abandoning the acoustical-instrument standard, and the mindless acceptance of voodoo science, were not parts of my original vision. "

Call me Don Quixote or Ponce de Leon, I've been on this quest much of my life. I don't ever give up and I don't compromise. The beatiful sound that live music can be is my quest and I won't pretend or say that I or anyone else is close to reaching it unless they actually have....much to the chagrin of some people. In my opinion, this problem is definitely solvable...by people who have the technical skills, financing, and freedom to explore the problem to its conclusion. At this time I don't see that those conditions exist anywhere.

I for one em still trying I have one setup withe four AR9's and a AR 90 for a center channel driven by a oppo bluray into a fosgate FAPT!+ and two five channel 200watt fa1000 amps for byamp the software are dvd audio sacd dts and conversions of them of over 2000 Quadraphonic sources tapes and lp's. I listen to drums bells a piano and cello in my house. our jr high sounds better then most bands on the radio today. the other set up is 10 AR LST's double stacked with all restored AR11 crosovers and AR11 mids and tweeters byamped it takes 20 amps do drive that is were the other 2 five channel fosgate fa 1000 amps come in.I know what live sounds like and would like to get as close as i can to it without the snake oil cables and such. my children understand what real music sounds like they listen to it and play it. but there friends are clueless as to what music other then a ipod sounds like. by the way my cables are AR cables and speaker wire is to all though they are the ms series i got them cheap.

its all about the music man

and if it comes close to my 1923 ESTEY baby grand great.

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The topic of whether or not the goal of high fidelity equipment is (or even should be) to convince the home listener that they’re hearing live music is certainly an interesting discussion. That goal could be accomplished one of two ways:

1. By convincing the listener that the musicians are actually in their home living space (possibly an attainable goal for a solo piano or string quartet or jazz trio), or

2. By “transporting” the listener to another venue, with a recording and equipment that accurately reproduces the acoustic space and cues of the original performance space, thus creating a believable illusion of being present at the performance.

These may or may not be the goals of recording engineers and equipment manufacturers. I suppose we could argue whether they are worthy goals or whether manufacturers ever really took these goals seriously. Perhaps they did at one time and perhaps that has changed in recent times, for various reasons (diminishing customer interest, realization on the part of manufacturers/recording companies of the unattainability of the goal, etc.)

From my perspective, this was never the appeal of hi fidelity music reproduction. Never. I am a formally-trained musician, and I have attended/performed in countless classical concerts and jazz performances. I love music. I know what it sounds like live.

For me, the appeal of good hi-fi is that it does a darned-good job of rendering a very effective facsimile of the real thing in my home. I can hear the inner details of the music, which is very gratifying. I get some enjoyable low-bass visceral impact. I jump a little when Buddy Rich surprises me and hits a loud rim shot on his snare drum because it reminds me—very closely—of the real thing. When I can recognize that Jack DeJohnette is playing Sonar drums on a Stanley Turrentine album, it makes me feel good, like I’m “in” on the story. It takes really good speakers to reveal that level of detail and I enjoy having them.

But not for a split second have I ever been fooled into thinking that Jack DeJohnette was actually in my living room or that I was at the Jazz Workshop listening to him live. I never EXPECTED to be fooled into thinking either of those things.

That expectation is wholly unrealistic in my view. If equipment manufacturers/recording engineers really think they could do that, it’s either cynical or naïve on their part. I don’t fault them one bit for advertising such or implying that they can. I can read between the lines and come to my own conclusions. So can you.

I’ve always measured my satisfaction with a hi-fi system by the degree to which it APPROACHES “live” sound, by the degree to which it approximates the way real instruments/voices sound.

But expect there to be living, breathing musicians performing in my room? Expect to feel like I’m sitting at a stage-side table in a smoky nightclub?

No. Never my expectation. And not my yardstick of evaluation. I suspect not many other people’s either.

Steve F.

I've been over this ground before. So at the risk of repetition (whoever doesn't like repetition move immediately to the next entry)...

"The topic of whether or not the goal of high fidelity equipment is (or even should be) to convince the home listener that they’re hearing live music is certainly an interesting discussion."

This is a complex and difficult topic and it is very interesting. The question boils down to; Is the sound of live musical instruments heard at a performance better or merely different from what we hear from sound reproduction systems of any type. If it is better, why is it better? I have come to the conclusion that it is but the explanation is too detailed to mention briefly. Lots of people have said a lot of things about it often waxing rhapsodic about it. Among the advantages live music has is that it has far more impact. I'm not just talking figuratively, I mean there are qualitative differences that can be explained showing for example why it is necessary for audiophiles to play recorded music at far louder levels than people enjoy live music at. The desire of many audiophiles to listen at or near deafening levels has a legitimate basis to it which relates to the lack of impact reproduced music has because it lacks essential qualities live music has that are not understood. The sense of space, reverberation, and perceived distance to the source are among the factors which contribute to why live music at any given SPL has more impact. The human brain judges it as being more powerful.

" That goal could be accomplished one of two ways:

1. By convincing the listener that the musicians are actually in their home living space (possibly an attainable goal for a solo piano or string quartet or jazz trio), or

2. By “transporting” the listener to another venue, with a recording and equipment that accurately reproduces the acoustic space and cues of the original performance space, thus creating a believable illusion of being present at the performance."

These are two distinctly different goals which I have talked about before and both meet the criteria of reproducing live music. The first I'd call "they are here" while the second I'd call "you are there." What is interesting about them is that in studying the problem, it is necessary to have an understanding of acoustics which leads to the conclusion that in solving either problem, you are solving exactly the same equations for a different set of criteria. That was a surprise to me. The implimentation is of course different but the two goals can be combinable into a single system that will perform either function. I have defined the different modes as a type I high fidelity system and a type II high fidelity system.

"These may or may not be the goals of recording engineers and equipment manufacturers. I suppose we could argue whether they are worthy goals or whether manufacturers ever really took these goals seriously. Perhaps they did at one time and perhaps that has changed in recent times, for various reasons (diminishing customer interest, realization on the part of manufacturers/recording companies of the unattainability of the goal, etc.)"

All recording companies are in business for only one reason and that is to make money. Historically most music we call "classical" and other serious music such as jazz was recorded as a kind of documentary effort to capture the original performance or the intent of it insofar as possible. Even where signals were deliberately manipulated they were done in the service of this goal. Other types of music were recorded where there is no basis of a live performance to compare to and so the recorded sound was an end in itself. What came also as a surprise is that the same kind of techniques that restores recordings of classical music to sounding like live performance in either type system imparts the same missing qualities to all other types of recorded music greatly enhancing their enjoyment.

"From my perspective, this was never the appeal of hi fidelity music reproduction. Never. I am a formally-trained musician, and I have attended/performed in countless classical concerts and jazz performances. I love music. I know what it sounds like live."

I think you are fortunate. I think most people rarely or never hear live music. I've enjoyed both live and recorded music all of my life. I've certainly enjoyed recordings and audio equipment that did not sound like live music. I also understand the frustration and resignation that comes from what seems like a hopeless effort to find equipment that reproduces those sounds we hear only live and to accept that it simply can't be done from recordings. I'm telling you it can be done but not by the approaches taken up to now and not by the people who have worked at it. People who will gain far greater insight into the phenomenon of sound, room acoustics, engineering, and perception of sound will have to acquire and apply knowledge they don't yet have.

"For me, the appeal of good hi-fi is that it does a darned-good job of rendering a very effective facsimile of the real thing in my home. I can hear the inner details of the music, which is very gratifying. I get some enjoyable low-bass visceral impact. I jump a little when Buddy Rich surprises me and hits a loud rim shot on his snare drum because it reminds me—very closely—of the real thing. When I can recognize that Jack DeJohnette is playing Sonar drums on a Stanley Turrentine album, it makes me feel good, like I’m “in” on the story. It takes really good speakers to reveal that level of detail and I enjoy having them."

"But not for a split second have I ever been fooled into thinking that Jack DeJohnette was actually in my living room or that I was at the Jazz Workshop listening to him live. I never EXPECTED to be fooled into thinking either of those things."

"That expectation is wholly unrealistic in my view. If equipment manufacturers/recording engineers really think they could do that, it’s either cynical or naïve on their part. I don’t fault them one bit for advertising such or implying that they can. I can read between the lines and come to my own conclusions. So can you."

Well I can't agree that false advertising is acceptable but given the current state of the art, the expectation really is unrealistic.

'I’ve always measured my satisfaction with a hi-fi system by the degree to which it APPROACHES “live” sound, by the degree to which it approximates the way real instruments/voices sound."

"But expect there to be living, breathing musicians performing in my room? Expect to feel like I’m sitting at a stage-side table in a smoky nightclub?"

One question which few people ever explore is why does the discussion of sound whether the sound of live music or of recordings or playback equipment arouse such strong passions and interest. I think that the answer lies in the importance of hearing. I have concluded that of the five senses, hearing is the most important one, at the very least equal to sight. This is why it is so highly developed. Our senses exist to tell our brain about our environment to help us better survive. The presence of something in the environment which may be a potential threat or food, or a mate is often first detected by hearing it before you see it. The instinct is to turn your head immediately in the direction at the first indication of the sound of something present to look at it. Even that mechanism is not understood. If the current model used to explain it were accurate, binaural sound would work perfectly. It meets the criteria of that model. But it doesn't, it is a dismal disappointment. There is still much to learn and IMO those who think that this art has been perfected have about as much hubris as those who thought that by building the finest horse and carraige they could, they'd reached the pinacle of what transportation could achieve.

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