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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Casting out Nines - Analog vs. digital & speakers vs. headphones or the sound of air

It possibly happened to everyone, out there... sometimes our music-system sounds below par after the last gathering with friends, the evening before...

Great enjoyment, involving sound few hours before and then... a distorting ghetto blaster today!

My very own quality proofing is, like for everyone, related to some specific records, but also to a sort-of feeling - i.e. if a disk sounds MUCH better than same disc when played on my turntable... oh, oh... there is something wrong.

Yes, it's old stuff... digital vs. analog... hardcore lovers for both formats and media, BUT, nonetheless, a good vinyl is usually - and far more - more natural, right to the ears and involving than a good disk.

It happened many times... wrong platter mat, VTA, cartridge/arm matching, MC transformer, plinth material, armbase material, cables, feedback from vibes, out-of-phase mains plugs, etc... down to air humidity variations;-)

The sound coming from a turntable has so many mind-boggling variants I'm sweating only to think to them all;-)

I'm not saying I'm "using" digital format to reach, via-fiddling and fine-tuning the analog rig, the same sound coming from disk... but I'm sure saying a bell rings and gives a direction in correcting things.

Trying to make it clearer, the sound - a real, low frequency sounding, air column - of a pump coming from an ancient organ in an old church in an arly '60s Deutsche Gramophone's or in Mark Levinson's superb organ recordings discs own a richness and true-to-life character hard to be beaten when the turntable (and whole system) is "right" you simply can't be wrong.

It's like all the above mentioned possible shortcomings be able to cancel or damage the most important, yet delicate, fragile shades of life, the subtleties in sound and ambient debrises still "here" in the recording, which give or not this very breathe of trueness to any music reproduction at home, approaching the sense of being fooled, surprised, moved like during a real performance.

Gestalt topics, more than audio... this reminds me to "21 grams", the 2003 movie with Sean Penn and Naomi Watts about the (possible) weight of the soul... metaphysical more than science, here too, but, I swear, after educating your sense - i.e. knowing what to look for (listen to) - the lacking or presence of "air" and better details in a recording it's something everyone is able to feel.

Same happens with the following... try to listen to a record you know and like with a good quality earphones and then re-try to listen to the same recording through your speakers: the more differences you'll find and recognize, the more you'll have to work on SEVERAL aspects and levels at your music system.

Apart the body/couch vibes, the headphones are, usually, maybe most of the times, winning on speakers as overall better musical and audio experience.

The more you go ahead in your search for quality, the more this gap becomes narrow, almost non-existing.

Nothing new under the sun, pals... but both the above are true musical/audio "casting out nines" proofs, so cheap, yet simple to seems silly, don't you?!?!

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