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In the Forum: Playback Listening
In the Thread: The elusive “absolute tone”.
Post Subject: ... everything upside down.Posted by Romy the Cat on: 8/30/2005

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 morricab wrote:
I guess I view absolute tone a bit differently than what you describe.  I think that each real instrument or person (as in singer) has its own "absolute" tone….

Actually when I was taking about “absolute tone” I meant only reproduced sound. The semantic about “absolute tone” derives form the Clark’s semantics of “absolute phase”: there is no “absolute phase” but there is only the corrector and incorrect phases. The same with the “absolute tone”.  The “absolute tone” is a RELATIVE term (ironic???) that describes a capacity of reproduction projected to the expectations of a listener and the tonal quality of the recorder music.

 morricab wrote:
Now I can tell you from a fair bit of practical experience that a strad still sounds like a strad even up close.  All the harmonics and overtones are there.  They are distinctive to the instrument (a different strad of course will have another set of harmonics/overtones) and to the musician playing it.  My girlfriend and I did an interesting experiment awhile back (I am a scientist afterall).  We wanted to see if we could "see" the difference between two top violins (the Guraneri and Guadhini) so we hooked up a microphone at about 2 meters away and fed the signal into a 61 band RTA that I have.  The RTA has a peak and hold feature so that we could examine the harmonic distribution for a note that she played.  It was startling how much difference there was (and it was abundantly clear from just listening) between the ratio of lower to upper harmonics.  The Guarneri was much "darker" sounding and it showed graphically.  The decay of sounds for both instruments in the same hall (and in the same spot) will be the same, therefore, the RELATIVE differences will remain.  The Guarneri she had would simply sound that much Darker (as it is mostly higher frequencies that get lost).

I am not so much disagreeing with you (as I too find violins sound much nicer some distance away) but the basic "essence" of the sound is still distinguishable as such.

Well, this is all correct it is has nothing to do with reproduction. Do no forget that we in audio use very barbarian electro-mechanical methods to mimic the harmonics, not to mention that the harmonics themselves are necessary but not the inclusive part of the “absolute tone”. 

 morricab wrote:
I don't think it has as much to do with the up front HF response as it has to do with the application of compression.  Most "dead" sounding loudspeakers are designed to be good with standard pop/rock music (the majority of their customers listen preferrentially to this kind of music so it makes economic sense).  The music industry compresses this (mostly) garbage to have a dynamic range of 10db or less in most cases.  A speaker need not worry about being dead sounding when the average level is 90db +-5db.  No worries, it won't sound dead.  Also of course the perception of HF and LF changes with SPL.  This is where EQ boost or cut is used in studios.  It is not so much an issue with classical (although compression can be).  I am convinced that most people don't like classical music in general because their systems are so poor at low level resolution and reproducing "correct" tone from the recording. 

Interesting point. I kind of agree and disagree about it. I agree with what you suggest but I can bring myself  many contra-arguments  (and I will agree with them) that would make this vision “incorrect”… Go figure…

 morricab wrote:
  I don't quite see how what you are postulating in the final paragraph can be true.  Any curtailing of HF in the audible range (this is variable for everyone...I can hear to 16KHZ) will affect the tone of instruments that contain higher harmonics (ie. most of them).  You will alter the tone structure of these instruments and therefore not get either "absolute" tone or "correct" tone as I have described them.  If the sound is worse with greater HF extension on the speakers it is likely the fault of the electronics injecting noise into this region (a big reason why the new breed of "digital" amps don't sound natural is their excessive HF noise content). 

I do not know… the rules of the game are completely changed at high frequencies. When we are talking about 12kHz, 16kHz or 20kHz then we are not talking about minus 3dB anymore. In my system I clearly recognize the ½ dB deviation at minus 9dB at HF as well as all playback that had plat response down to 20kHz sound too amusical to me. The way in wish I see it the reproduced sound should roll-off from 11-12kHz and the presents of HF should determine ONLY by the steepness of this roll off. So to me it is not important were is minus 3dB: at 10kHz or at 10kHz but rather were would be 20kHz: at minus 6dB or at minus 12dB….

 morricab wrote:
I think you are wrong to blame all loudspeakers in this regard, I would more likely put the blame on the electronics.  The best tweeters I have heard have extension well over 20kHz, but they also only sounded great with great electronics behind them.  What you are suggesting sounds to me like shooting the messenger because of the message.

Perhaps. I blame whatever I know and whatever I’m experienced with. I know little about electronics and even among the little that I know I see a lot of variables in electronics (HF) that are superbly difficult to control. I think all bravado of the electronics people about the HF they got are not real accomplishments but juts semi-accidental results and no one knows how to make them sound realistic. People learned to measure frequencies and phase but there is a lot of more to it at the HF….

Romy the Cat

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