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#391508 - 03/28/13 05:19 PM High Definition Audio
gnickers Offline
frequent flier

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 17
Loc: London
Not sure where this goes...

I've recently switched from 2 channel audio to 7.1 channel and i am very happy with the sound.

Most tracks in DTS-HD Master sound very realistic, acoustic guitars and pianos and voices sound like they do in real life. Even with older recordings you hear things you didn't know where there..crickets (Dire Straights), bongo drums (Steely Dan) etc.

Audio equipment has improved so tremendously since i stared in 1972 with a Dynaco tube amp, AR manual turntable and AR speakers and yet the source formats seem stuck in the past, IMHO CD's are now the limiting factor at 'removing the curtain'. You can spend $100,000 and have the sound compromised by a 35year old format.

BTW, i just listened to Neil Young's Le Noise and the 1st acoustic number is awesome as you can really hear his voice and the guitar. Who knew that he could actually sing?

The frustrating part is trying to find content. Local stores stock only CD's, many HD online stores can't sell in Canada and even Amazon is spotty. If i could find a place that will sell HD discs they can have my credit card on loan.

There are also a lot of albums i would like to hear in HD (recognizing that a poor original recording will not be a good HD release) but there seems to be so little released in HD. After listening to the HD version of Neil Young's Harvest the CD version is packed away for a yard sale.

Why are CD's still around? It is your parent's format...blu-ray discs and even DVD discs can hold so much better resolution.

The sound on the Eagles Farewell Tour from melbourne is fantastic, same for the Pink Funhouse Tour. I plan to move to 9 or 11 channel sound ASAP...

</rant off>


Edited by gnickers (03/28/13 05:20 PM)

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#391509 - 03/28/13 05:36 PM Re: High Definition Audio [Re: gnickers]
CatBrat Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 5660
Loc: Some random location
It's because most people simply don't want to spend extra money on something beyond what a low quality CD recording can supply. And they don't know the difference. Nor seem to care.

Like last night at a meeting I attended. "You spent $4000 on a TV? Why would anyone in the world do that, because there's nothing out there that's worth watching anyway."

That's what I have to put up with.


Edited by CatBrat (03/28/13 05:39 PM)

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#391510 - 03/28/13 07:37 PM Re: High Definition Audio [Re: gnickers]
exlabdriver Offline
aficionado

Registered: 09/07/11
Posts: 812
I've gotten into SACDs in the past years. Generally very good, full sound in most instances.

I don't think that one can blame the CD format - it is the poor mixing & compression that the recording engineers seem to use today. I don't know why the artists put up with it. SACDs seem to be much better recorded & mixed, probably because they are deemed to be 'audiophile' type recording. Most include a 5 CH surround layer, although I use mine only in 2.1 CH mode.

Lots on Amazon but ebay is best for me in selection & price wise...

TAM

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#391511 - 03/28/13 07:56 PM Re: High Definition Audio [Re: gnickers]
Socketman Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 07/12/09
Posts: 1009
Loc: Whitehorse YT
Check out the LOUDNESS WARS on youtube . <<<<< This is why CD's sound like crap and its has been going on longer than most of us realize. They got us listening to MP3's and lousy compressed internet radio stations, and now no one knows what the ***K music is suppose to sound like. I for one have bought a nice TT and listen to my music the way its meant to be heard, on vinyl.
IMHO apple destroyed all things musical with the ipod revolution.
_________________________
DOG is GOD spelled backwards.

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#391512 - 03/28/13 09:54 PM Re: High Definition Audio [Re: gnickers]
JohnK Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10308
Gord, you're underestimating the CD as a format. The 44.1/16 sampling and bit depth characteristics it has are ample for the capabilities of human ears and the dynamic range of the music we listen to. Carefully controlled blind listening tests conducted a few years ago showed that SACDs and DVD-As of excellent quality were audibly just as excellent when their output was run through an ADC/DAC conversion process to "downgrade" them to the 44.1/16 CD standard. As has been mentioned, the problem isn't the capabilities of the format, but the quality of the recording, mixing and mastering used in producing a particular disc.

This applies to stereo source material, not discrete multi-channel, of course, but using modes such as DPLII to extract the natural ambience coming from directions other than the front captured by the microphones and imprisoned in the front channels(there was no place else to put it)can greatly increase the realism of the listening experience by sending it to the surrounds where it belongs. I always listen to 2-channel music sources in 5.1 or 7.1 surround with full enjoyment of the(almost entirely classical)music I appreciate.
_________________________
-----------------------------------

Enjoy the music, not the equipment.



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#391525 - 03/29/13 01:08 PM Re: High Definition Audio [Re: JohnK]
gnickers Offline
frequent flier

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 17
Loc: London
John, you are correct in that a well recorded CD can be good. I used to use a demo CD produced by John Eargle to test equipment. Mr. Earle was a good engineer who understood recording. Hunt down any of his albums or writings, well worth it. However, many or most CD recordings sound constrained or restricted or unnatural compared with good HD material. I've got hundreds stored away.

For example, my Harmonia Mundi CD's still sound good, but they are not as realistic a re-creation of the original recording as a HD version.

As a test take something like Mark Knopfler's Shangri-La CD and HD versions. I hauled the cd player and the cd out of storage and switching between the CD and the HD version is like night and day. The dynamic range and presence, sense of depth etc all add up to the feeling he is 'in the room'.

IMHO the argument that there are good CD's or good LP's does not refute the fact that DTS-HD master recordings on good equipment can be 'almost' like the original performance.

In my opinion the 'holy grail' of audio is to make them indistinguishable, so that a person sitting in front of a curtain or blindfolded cannot tell if it is 'live or memorex'. (to quote an old marketing slogan)

I think the new audio formats come closer to this than anything before and take full advantage of all the advances in audio and in a person's investment in their equipment

That does not negate the enjoyment of LP records or reel to reel tape, it is possible to enjoy a sound that is not totally an accurate representation of the original performance (certain high-end speakers prove that!)

gord

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#391529 - 03/29/13 03:18 PM Re: High Definition Audio [Re: JohnK]
chesseroo Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 05/13/02
Posts: 4736
Loc: western canada
Originally Posted By: JohnK

This applies to stereo source material, not discrete multi-channel, of course,

I'm glad you added that part John b/c DPL-II does not sound at all like a discrete multi channel recording.

As previously and long stated, i find DPL-II to sound echoey like a fake DSP was added to the sound and much prefer music in 2-channel on direct mode in these circumstances.
Best overall surround sound i get are from DVDA (SACD, DD, etc.) without a doubt.
_________________________
"Those who preach the myths of audio are ignorant of truth."

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#391550 - 03/29/13 08:56 PM Re: High Definition Audio [Re: chesseroo]
gnickers Offline
frequent flier

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 17
Loc: London
Agree, dolby pro logic is passe....

My disillusionment with the audio orthodoxy reached the breaking point after reading yet another stereophile reviewer wax poetic about slam, pace, etc while all the time trumpeting the superiority of the last century technology (LP records). Having owned many LP's, i put up with their imperfections as that was the best sound you could get at the time.

Once i realized the high-end reviews were basically useless i started questioning the high-end assumptions.

What if multi-channel audio on DVD discs could provide a more realistic re-creation of the original recording? Has the high-end focus 2 channel analog audio held back progress?

I vowed never to pay attention to Stereofool again and decided to go my own way. The results have been satisfying, over a period of years i've managed to assemble at 'reasonable' cost an excellent system for audio (and movies).

Doing this required overturning some high-end truisms. For example, after comparing to multi-channel analog and multi-channel digital i decided to go all digital as far as possible.

And rather than spend 1/3 or 1/2 of the budget on the CD/DVD player i looked for a unit that had the best chipset at a reasonable price and had HDMI. I settled on the Oppo unit, a new unknown at the time. Now on my 3rd Oppo having upgraded as new models to get the latest chipsets.

And rather than spend huge sums on a Krell or other bling amp i went with Emotiva amps. Low cost and no cache but they amplify sound and they have XLR connectors.

I select the low-cost Integra 9.8 pre-amp as it had DTS-HD master and other multi formats, used HDMI, had XLR connectors, and good chipsets. It also has the audyessy audio equalization with mic so i could auto calibrate the speakers to the room.

The bulk of the budget with to 2 areas, the speakers and the screen.

Rather than follow the usual recommendation of having all the speakers from the same manufacturer i looked for speakers with the same characteristics and specs - figuring that at a certain price point well made traditional box speakers will sound very much alike (a point shown in the NRC work done by Dr. Floyd Toole on what listeners preferred in sound characteristics, you should read his stuff.) I also needed speakers that would work well in the intended location.

I selected the PSB titanium speakers for front left/right and the axiom vp180 for center as i liked it better than the psb offering. They mated together perfectly in a seamless front (once the minor level differences were calibrated with odyssey).

Because the front speakers had to be a bit too close to the corners than was optimal i added a paradigm 15" active servo sub which gives bass without boom. Finally for the 4 surround channels i used mirage omnipolars. I find their driver arrangement excellent for surround effects with great dispersion.

For a screen I choose the best panasonic plasma (non 3D, non smart, no speakers, crap tuner) as it had very good black level and once calibrated the screen is very realistic. Would have preferred a Kuro but they are hard to come by on the used market in my area. Also built an XBMC htpc unit to provide youtube, streaming video and audio etc for non-critical use.

The whole project took a couple of years to put together but the result is excellent. The problem now is in finding content!

Of course, no technology stands still so the next set of upgrades is to add front left high/wide and front right high/wide channels which means replacing the integra 9.8 and adding 4 more amps. At least i already have the extra 4 mirage units...bulk buy when on sale!

anyway - thanks for reading this long rant, i guess what i have learned is to ignore the high-end audio press and do your own research and listening and figure out what you want and what works for you. Put your money where it counts and where it will pay off, not in esoteric power cords, tube designs from the 30's or "cryogenically frozen reverse polarity oxygen free" cables...

happy listening
gord

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#391558 - 03/29/13 11:03 PM Re: High Definition Audio [Re: gnickers]
JohnK Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10308
Gord, since it's extremely unlikely that human hearing capabilities will miraculously improve in the future so as to make the CD 44.1/16 specs become inadequate, I expect to continue enjoying(in surround)the excellence of the present CDs I have and to purchase new ones.

You appear to have an impression that DTS-HD MA is some uniform high definition standard. In fact, if you examine The Bluray stats here (select DTS-HD MA in the Audio box and then Filter), you'll see from the summary table at the bottom that most of the discs have no special HD characteristics(other than the label). Generally the audio is 48/16, similar to the CD's 44.1/16.
_________________________
-----------------------------------

Enjoy the music, not the equipment.



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#391559 - 03/30/13 01:05 AM Re: High Definition Audio [Re: gnickers]
chesseroo Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 05/13/02
Posts: 4736
Loc: western canada
Gord, your philosophy seems to parallel that of my own.
A bit of research and a bit of personal experience to blend a fit.
There is no rant per se rather than a simple belief, and philosophy. Beyond that, things start to get stupidly complicated and it really doesn't need to be.

I say congratulations on your choices. It seems like you are on my own path toward audio nirvana.
Happy and blissful.

does it matter than i've had half a bottle of Mondavo '00 cab sav before posting?
Perhaps.
But Alanis MOrrisette never sounded so good on my Angstrom Legatos.
http://www.angstromloudspeakers.com/oldsite/reviews/TIE_reviews_Legato_Forza.pdf
_________________________
"Those who preach the myths of audio are ignorant of truth."

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