The Listening window

arj

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Came across an interesting article by Jeff Day. The premise is that a good Hifi should have a wide listening window of being able to play all types of recording quality as well as music itself well rather than good recordings.

Also brought out another fact that some of the older equipment, at a time when music was a popular in a different way since people got a chance to attend Live music so much more and very often the unamplified kind, audio equipment were also designed to make the recordings sound like the live event itself .

Currently the vast majority of us listen to music only from recordings or even if we hear live its the amplified variety. Today perhaps only classical/Jazz music fall into that earlier category

The article is here. An extract
The ability of a hifi system - or the individual components it is composed of - to be able to play a wide variety of recorded music from different periods, of different styles, and of varied recording quality, I refer to as the listening window.

The listening window is a subjective measure of how wide a variety of recorded music one can listen to through a high-performance audio system and still have it sound and feel believably like a live music experience.

My parents console televisions stereos from the 1950s and 1960s had a wide listening window that allowed for enjoyable listening of pretty much anything of any recording quality. How was that accomplished?

Yet many contemporary audio systems fail miserably at having a wide listening window, and can only accommodate a very narrow listening window of superb recordings, or risk sounding decidedly amusical on average recordings of great music.

A narrow listening window results in their owners buying the same audiophile recordings over and over again with each new remaster of the same old recording, because that's the only thing that sounds good on their stereo systems.


Was also reading up on a lot of the "Older " design philosophies like Klipsch, Altec Lansing, JBL, Tannoy etc and all of them had designers who loved and understood music and perhaps got a chance to attend so many live performances . At the same time the serious buyers were also of a similar thinking and hence perhaps systems which tried to reproduce that event along with the feeling for that event.

Is that why some of the older equipment which are praised so much today have a magic about them such that owners like to think of them as end state ?

Not saying that all current equipment do not have magic and that all old ones have it. just that some who have it survived while the others did not. Wonder which of the new ones will become classics in the future.
 
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anilpatel

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You have shared nice article.
It is very difficult to find knowledge oriented articles in this information overloaded world where many self proclaimed authors publish many junk articles.
 
D

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A very important subject, @arj. I have been getting increasingly sensitised to this thanks to Prem, the mentor. I haven’t read the article yet (shall do so), but the extract and your introduction/synopsis resonates. I shall add further, from my recent experience, that it’s not just the modern equipment, but even most of the accessories (especially the branded/specialised ones) and tweaks end up reducing the ‘listening window’. When I simplified my system by getting rid of all those, I am now enjoying a much larger (almost total) listening window and more ’moving’ sound as a result. I had to of course let go of my obsession over fidelity, detail, soundstage etc (all of which I have settled to what my system can give intrinsically in its budget range). I gladly take this trade-off. Proof? I have been listening to a lot more music (and have almost stopped fiddling with the system) than over the last year or so when the obsession was at its peak. And I can’t wait to listen to the next album/genre (including recordings in the early half of last century) and the next. The proof is always in the eating.
 
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D

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Read the article. He has built the premise, but left us hanging as he plans to unfold the details over the next year or so. :(

But in one of the comments in the discussion he provides some more interesting opinions:

"The sales pitch was "Hear how loudspeaker A has better imaging? That means it is better than loudspeaker B that doesn't image as prominently."

So all of a sudden the non-musical recording artifacts of imaging, soundstaging, resolution, etc. - became important in the showrooms, because they were increasingly emphasized in the hifi rags, and thus with customers.

Comparatively few listeners knew enough about the elements of music - timbre, tone color, beat, melody, rhythm, harmony, etc. - to make any kind of judgement about whether a product was better or worse in those terms, which actually happens to be what high-fidelity to the music is all about."


Isn't that our experience here as well? The shift from the attributes in red above to those in green is perhaps the single-most important transition in the journey of an audiophile, bringing him back in touch with the music. I refer the ones in red as 'wowing' factors and the ones in green as 'moving' factors in my cryptic signature below.
 

arj

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@prem had mentioned a very simple philosophy he was following currently : "I don’t want to know WHERE he is on the stage. I want to know WHY he is on the stage. "

I thought that summed up pretty well on what the end result should be !
 
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His article series (link to the first part below) on the site is quite informative.

 

raghupb

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If one stops listening to the equipment and starts listening to content, the window is huge.
Focused session, background listening, in the car, on the mobile/laptop, tinny earplugs, BT speakers don't really matter.
I use all of these methods, because I can't be sitting in front of my rig always.

One the music reaches you, and indulges you, the medium disappears.
So guys, listen to music whenever, wherever and however you can.

Cheers,
Raghu
 

viren bakhshi

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Good points, Raghu. Let the music take over.

Also, isn't it ironic that it has taken Jeff Day to come to this realization only now. And, that he touts it as his personal revelation now?

Here's a review Jeff Day did in July 2004:

The movement towards a renewed portrayal of music had started in Jeff's home country as far back as the 1980s. It has taken this reviewer this long to reawaken to the fact. A personal saga indeed!

Viren
 
D

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Good points, Raghu. Let the music take over.

Also, isn't it ironic that it has taken Jeff Day to come to this realization only now. And, that he touts it as his personal revelation now?

Here's a review Jeff Day did in July 2004:

The movement towards a renewed portrayal of music had started in Jeff's home country as far back as the 1980s. It has taken this reviewer this long to reawaken to the fact. A personal saga indeed!

Viren

Viren ji, we all have our own journeys - quicker or slower, depending on the degree of our conditioning, our exposure and our openness. What’s valuable is that the reviewer (Jeff Day), however late* in his realisation, is now verbalising it to his readership in an articulate manner that resonates with their experience and increases their conviction - like it did mine. I find his categorisation of fidelity into two distinct categories - the musical and the audiophilic - a conceptual masterstroke. It could bring the much needed clarity to many hobbyists saving them a lot of effort, money and years.

*: Even MK Gandhi used to say that if two of his views on a matter contradicted each other, we should go with the latest.

(Unless of course there’s good reason to doubt one’s integrity. Mere inconsistency in stated opinions over a period of time cannot be the proof).
 
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arj

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Good points, Raghu. Let the music take over.

Also, isn't it ironic that it has taken Jeff Day to come to this realization only now. And, that he touts it as his personal revelation now?

Here's a review Jeff Day did in July 2004:

The movement towards a renewed portrayal of music had started in Jeff's home country as far back as the 1980s. It has taken this reviewer this long to reawaken to the fact. A personal saga indeed!

Viren
:D in the end its a capitalistic industry . the cynic that I am, I am sure Jeff Day was looking for theme to start a new "approach" since he has a loyal fan base .
But again Maybe its something he believed in privately but did not speak much since thats not what the consumer market was all about !
 
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