Romy The Cat …

Romy The Cat …

دوشنبه 29 آوریل 2013
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یک نوشته خوب از رومی :

There are many conversations out there about the fact that many music people do not “get” audio.  In most cases this is correct. They are many conversations, we had some of them at this site and the reasons of the phenomena that were brought are all valid. I would like to bring another aspect to this subject that never was expressed.

We all know that music notation deals with moderation of pitch – the key signature – or raising or lowering a note by a half-tone. This is what musicians call sharp or flat and it there from beginning of times. There is more complexity in key signatures but the basics implies that if a musician plays “too sharp” then he or she hits a slightly elevated pitch of intended tone. There is nothing wrong with it, however in audio it is way more complicated.

We need to understand that a note A for instance is not 440Hz pitch but a complicated time/amplitude parabola with summit located at 440Hz. If the instrument is tuned to 440Hz, the musician take A and the summit of parabola is not at 440Hz then we say that the musician too sharp. This is how music people recognize as they operate in the world where the shape of the pitch-rolling parabola is fixed in most of the cases (some interments and human voices are able to modify it is a degree). In audio however, we have very little control over the pitch itself but we have practically unlimited control over the harmonics and therefore we can easy alter the profile of the parabola with which tone can roll to its pitch.

Music people mostly do not get it as this option is not available to them. The harmonic signature or the parabola’s profile for musicians is factored in the design of musical interments and into playing techniques. There are some techniques that allow musicians to a degree play with harmonics but no were nears as wide as we do in audio.

For musicians to have the options that we have in audio would be totally ridicules. You can see some kind of trumpeter is bringing his 3-4 versions of D trumpets to play some Baroque piece and he swears that each of them have own tonal infliction. Of cause his swears are right do, but the Trumpeter use one trumpet at time to play. Pretend the same musician is sitting in Mahler orchestra with his 6 C trumpets and blow each note on different trumpet because each of them deliver different type of brightness. Sound absurd? Well, this is what we have in audio.

In Audio playback moderates harmonics very aggressively and what the most annoying  is that the rate of harmonics moderation fluctuates with the given playback setting, the dynamic range, with sound rate change and with zillion of other factors, some of them as ridicules as the state of the local power grid…  As the result a playback not only can screw up the pitch (many of them do) but it will screw up harmonics in non-acoustical way and by doing that it will change the subjective perception of sharpness or flattens of the tone.  I have see when a playback that playback that fasten the harmonics was   perceived by music people as played too high. Interesting that music people do not feel it “too sharp” but they fell it “like too sharp”. The reason is that the pitch reference in their brains do suggests them that the pitch was accurate but they still feel that “something” is not right. The problem with them that this “something” doe not exists under normal circumstances in life sound, so they do not know how to react to expedited harmonics. How the expedited harmonics or prolong harmonics affects listening experience is another subject that I would like do not touch in here

I need to admit that there are ways for musicians to moderate harmonics event by paling the same interment. The string players could fake harmonics but those techniques are not used all time and more consider as delicacy sound effects. In audio we could easily implement a playback decision that would permanently make all music to be played in perceived “sharp” mode or to make music to be perceived “sharp” in specific dynamic range, or to go sharp in specific octave…

Rgs, Romy the Cat


Well, to make audio elements to be adaptable is very complex but possible. The beigest problem in this is not the technical disability of audio to be adaptable, or to demonstrate deferent behavior under different let say dynamic of frequency conditions.

The beigest problem is that audio hoodlums in their unfortunate majority do not recognize it as an issue.

Even to acknowledge that audio do not handle specific type of music signals appropriately do require quote high level of listening intelligence. When I mean “to acknowledge” I do not means to say that it does not sound good but to identify what specifically is not right. The 99.9% of audio people not only enable to do it but they also consider that it (believe or not) politically incorrect to think about sound in term of dissatisfaction.

For those few who do acknowledge that something is specifically wrong it is very hard to figure out why it is so. The reality is that in most of cased there is no answer “why”. The answer “why” exists only in functional systems that do something correct and therefore there is an answer “why” they do something wrong. Audio by nature is incorrect functional system by nature and therefore there is no definitive answer “why”. You can give very precise answer why some voltage is not there, or some pressure is not there or some any another measurable parameter is not there but you not necessary will be able to give an answer why some tube, soldering point, cable direction or cartridge VTA change the subconscious emotional or esthetical feedback a listener get from listening.

I gave a very simple example as we are not taking about the full emotional feedback as the Morons love to whore about in audio reviews. I am talking about very definitive and very minute fragments of sound retroaction what a specific micro-sensation, under a very specific narrow playback operation condition do not make to the listener. Pretend that you have a very specific reaction of let say “punished sentimental kindness” to a very specific musical fragment. Let say it to be the clarinet and viola duet in the second movement of Penderecki’s Clarinet Quartet. You get a recording and your playback delivers the “similar” feeling at 90dB but does nothing to you if you play it softer. Where will you start? Most of audio people do not even acknowledge the problem but if you do they what would be the audio action you can make to address the problem? The most complex would be how to fix that “punished sentimental kindness” at soft volume but do not hurt anything other characteristic behavior in the same dynamic and the same frequency range.  It is very complex and there is no definite answer in this or even developed knowledge in this. To make the playback to react dynamically  and to adopt own operational paradigms in respect to incoming music is truly very complicated and very few in audio are able to operate at this level, not only the level of accomplishments but the level of demands.

I would say that nobody ever in audio was able to operate at the described level of accomplishments and I am quite confident that I know about all more or less serious audio movements even made public. As in physics the Unified Field Theory formed by Einstein does not have an accepted agreeable conclusion in audio there is no unified audio design ideology. It is not only no audio design ideology but there is no unified audio assessment principles and many other basic postulates with wish any sensible discipline could not exists.  Sometime in past I had a conversion with a guy who involved somehow in music and did composing, playing, conducting. I explained to him that his music field from some perspective is much less complicated then audio field. It might sound ridicules for some uninformed people but in reality it is exactly what it is. In music there are definitive pre-existing answers and definitive way to reach the answers. You go study music, perhaps do it for years and years and if you are a talented person and work hard then you become a good instrumentalist. If you in addition to it is an intelligent and sensitive person you will become in addition a good musician. If you an artistic person then you might become a few chose from your musical feels who push the field forward from one or another perspectives. In all of that there are well established and universally recognized aspects of what you do and what consequences of your actions are. It does not happen in audio.  There is no structure learning, training, educating or evolving or reference point in audio.  There is no even methodology available of any kind, so to immensely complex field with zillions of unknown and with no unified way to deal with even know and with no even accepted language to take about ether known and unknown….

The Cat

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