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In the Forum: Playback Listening
In the Thread: The elusive “absolute tone”.
Post Subject: No problemPosted by morricab on: 11/2/2007

I have a problem with how you are using the english language, Romy.  You are using an absolute word (like absolute) to mean something you have invented and it is a relative thing.  This for me won't do.  I understand more or less what you are trying to say but I don't entirely buy it. 

"Let me to state it again and it is very imperative: audio does not produce the original sound it just reproduces it"

This is so obvious that honestly it doesn't need to be restated and I in no way implied or said anything different. 

"ordinal tone recorded and played back has little to do with original tone but rather it creates own producing environment in which the NEW tone get created"

No, this is not correct.  It might be a nice metaphorical way of thiking about why the sound is different but it is not really what is happening.  What is happening is that an original note with its fundamental and accompanying harmonic envelope, which by the way changes throughout the decay of that note and upon the intensity with which that note is played, is captured with a fairly high degree of frequency and dynamic fidelity by the microphone along with room acoustics, which are distinguishable to a large degree by the time and frequency difference from the main body of the note.  This is passed with minimal losses to a preamplifier, which subtly alters the harmonic envelope and dynamic range of the transmitted signal from the microphone.  This is passed (ideally) to a recorder, which again subtly changes the harmonic and dynamic envelopes and perhaps also sublty changes the fundamental as well (wow and flutter affecting pitch).  If there are more steps then there are more subtle (or not so subtle) degradations of the original event.  This is why direct to disk vinyl recordings can sound extremely realistic tonally and dynamically, simply fewer steps means less degradations (in general).  The note is still the same note but "mutated" somewhat and this is what gets reproduced and as a result is no longer "absolute" nor is it wholly realistic (your brain being very good at noticing these subtle differences).  Playback "mutates" this note even further to varying degrees giving more indicators in the pattern that it is not real. 

IMO, it is not about making something new it is about minimizing degradations of all kinds, frequency, phase, resonance etc. and introducing as little audible additives as possible; such as high order harmonics, IM distortion and other electronics based distortions (like jitter in digital as well or tracking distortions in LP) that are dead giveaways to our brains that we are not listening to something natural like an acoustic instrument.  This is the ultimate goal of reproduction to add or take away as little as possible in the hopes that what is on the recording is as close as possible.  Obviously, if that is not the case then the end result may be good sound but not realistic.

"If you feel that a cello of the original event has the “absolute tone” characteristics then why do you feel that vibration of speaker driver’s cone (along with many other things) should not have the “absolute tone” property? It is not the “absolute tone of cello” it is the “absolute tone” of audio drivers.

Obviously a speaker cone has its own sound but this is a bad thing not a good thing.  The absolute sound of a cello is usually a good thing.  A cone overlaying its bending and breakup resonances onto the cello sound (or voice or trumpet etc.) is a BAD thing and detracts from the illusion of a cello playing.  As basically all drivers have a voice of their own (the exception maybe being an ion plasma) I have found that the more uniform that voice is from top to bottom (ie. all drivers having the same voice or in my case a single full range panel) the easier it is for the brain to "ignore" this uniformity.  The brain is much better a recognizing when things change abruptly.  I heard this in great relief once listening to a pair of B&W 802 Nautilus speakers.  They have an aluminum dome tweeter, a kevlar mid, and carbon fiber bass, this coupled with very steep filters results in a coloration nightmare.  Because of the steep slopes, the drivers hand off to each other very abruptly and the coloration of each driver is quite different.  This means that transitions between drivers with the same instrument, like a saxophone, are very obvious and immediately destroy the illusion of a real sax as there is no continuity in the harmonic envelope of the instrument.  All speakers designed this way suffer the same problem.  When you have lived with full range electrostats or ribbons for a long time this kind of error is intolerable.  Coherence from a speaker is a key first step in believability.  From electronics it is a similar quest.  An amp that produces a pattern of distortion, at all levels, that is inaudible to the ear (ie. masked) will sound more natural than one with very low measured distortion but heavily weighted in high order harmonics, which are unnatural and not masked.  Again top to bottom coherence is important (in frequency response, phase response and distortion response).

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