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The diary entries of a little girl in her 30s! ~ Part 2 - Page 279  

post #4171 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by bowei006 View Post

Good songs in my opinion are

 

Storytime

Rest Calm

Ghost River

I want my Tears back

Storytime was ok.  I tend to find nightwish is at their best when they forego the cookie monster vocals.

post #4172 of 21760
Thread Starter 

I've been thinking a bit about ideals when it comes to audio equipment.

 

The Japanese seem to look to both the past and the future when it comes to high-end music reproduction. This can be clearly seen in the styling of Luxman, Accuphase, Leben, Shindo, Kondo / Audio Note, ORB, Final Audio, Stax, and even bigger names like Audio-Technica and JVC. Much of the gear they produce would look right at home in the 60s and 70s, yet it often incorporates contemporary twists and streamlining. It's not just aesthetics either: often this gear uses older designs and topology which have been updated and improved while still retaining the original core strengths. In some cases vintage parts are even used, such as with Shindo Labs that employs and designs equipment around NOS electronics a tubes. This link with tradition is undoubtedly important for Japan, a certain continuity running from the past into the future as an unbroken succession.

 

Conventional head-fi wisdom suggests one ought to have the most neutral and unobtrusive source as possible, and as one proceeds down the chain gradually introduce more coloration into the picture if that's what one so desires. Transparent source, colored headphones. Often times with higher-end Japanese setups however, I've noticed this gets flip-flopped. It seems like there's more of an emphasis on warmer "musical" sources whereas the headphones are transparent. Going back to the first approach for a moment, it's worth noting the underlying philosophy at work: an audio chain is one's "window" onto music, a through street that ideally lets one get to the music with as little obstruction as possible; situated as the last component in that chain, headphones can almost be used as EQ hardware, allowing one to tweak things a bit here and there through their unique frequency response. Ideally one can hear the differences when switching from headphone to headphone more clearly as a result.

 

With the other approach it seems as though the transparency of the listening device emphasizes the character of the upstream gear. This seems reasonable if the gear in question was designed around specific vintage parts. I've found that while high-end Japanese gear tends to be diverse in nature, there's an underlying character that strikes me as "organic." It's detailed and nuanced yet polite, and it flows with a sense of natural effortlessness. Nothing really stands out as immediate or pressing. Very often the presentation is warm, musical, and stereotypically analog sounding. The headphones themselves complement this, which often translates into a highly transparent or very subtly colored, analytic yet reserved transducer. Obviously there's a range and various exceptions to this, what is ultimately a major generalization. Also this isn't meant to be a heavy handed accusation that certain Japan high-end audio companies are encouraging people to listen to their gear and not their music. Rather, it seems to me that the Japanese approach is more holistic. With the previous approach, the objective was to provide a window looking out onto a vista of music. With this approach, the window is merely looking out onto the music and the source: the two are almost inseparable. It's a drastic simplification, but in the first instance the source is the window, whereas in the second the source is part of the scenery so to speak.

 

Though that isn't exactly right. There's a certain nuance to what I'm trying to say. Perhaps it's better expressed thusly: rather than a window or conduit, the gear is more along the lines of a host or instrument. Not only does it convey something, but it also imparts something along with what it manifests. This is true of any playback system. There's never a 1:1 accuracy in translation, however one often finds audiophiles who treat it as such for all intents and purposes. The latter approach therefore can be seen as more readily embracing this.

 

This originally stemmed from my thinking about the Sony Qualia 010. The Q010 is a misunderstood headphone in certain respects. I have a sneaking suspicion some of the more negative impressions are the result of two primary factors: a lack of proper fit and a lack of synergy. The first is straight forward enough; the second point is more relevant. What many folks 'round these parts don't seem to realize, or at least take into consideration, is the fact that Sony voices their products to play best with their own gear. It's something Sony has been doing all along and not just with audio (their memory stick, file formats, etc.). Corporate practices aside, I think it's a good example of the above point. Most of Sony's headphones and earphones sound best on their desktop CD players, Walkmen line, and other components. 

post #4173 of 21760
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thrak View Post

 

EDIT:  just checked and the 'Artist Series' is still around.  Sourced mine at amazon, btw.

 

That's because it *is* the Adam ARTist 5 lol. Their "proprietary driver" is actually a Heil-type ribbon tweeter. Another similar speaker is the Emotiva Airmotiv.

post #4174 of 21760
Quote:

Originally Posted by a_recording View Post

 

Happy Birthday :3 What exactly is an arcade bar?

 

A bar with a bunch of arcade cabinets in it, which means they weren't all broken years ago by angry kids.  The quality and variety of machines they have there is actually my main motivation for wanting to go, rather than drinking. 

 

Speaking of booze, though, I've been drinking a lot of random Italian wines lately and finding I quite like them.  Although I should probably stop drinking 1-3 glasses every time I go online.  That seems excessive.

 


 

Thanks to everyone else for the birthday wishes! 

 


 

I wish I had something to say about headphones.

 

I'll read that big MF post in a bit.  

 

-Edit-

 

The idea that the source and the music are inseparable, so to say, seems congruent with the pluralism the Japanese enjoy in other forms of art. See: puppeteers in bunraku, benshi in classic Japanese movie theatres, etc, which is kind of cool. 


Edited by driver 8 - 12/28/12 at 9:32am
post #4175 of 21760
That is an interesting concept/view MF. As it should be obvious, I am in the non-Japanese path/view, just because that I don't have the funds to play around with a lot of gear. With that said, I wonder if the Japanese way can be emulated with cheaper range of gear, as I am quite intrigued by the notion that you described.
post #4176 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by MuppetFace View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by thrak View Post

 

EDIT:  just checked and the 'Artist Series' is still around.  Sourced mine at amazon, btw.

 

That's because it *is* the Adam ARTist 5 lol. Their "proprietary driver" is actually a Heil-type ribbon tweeter. Another similar speaker is the Emotiva Airmotiv.

 

LOL, yeah, I know redface.gif (didn't there used to be a blushing smiley?)  I should've rewritten my whole post once I found the ARTist was still available.  I spaced...

post #4177 of 21760
Thread Starter 

I just put in an order for the JVC FXZ200 and Senn IE800 via Amazon.co.jp.

post #4178 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by MuppetFace View Post

I've been thinking a bit about ideals when it comes to audio equipment.

The Japanese
Interesting post, and observation. Can you really call the majority of Japanese headphones neutral, or transparent, aiming for purity? Certainly Stax has this and a few miscellaneous headphones like the Qualia or AD2000. Polite does fit universally, but many Japanese headphones are noticeably colored, for example the recent AT woodies that were very popular here, though openly regarded as colored. The Fostex and Denon lines are certainly not aiming for purity. Both are bassier than real to varying degrees, the Fostex being closer to neutral, yet still with a romantic midrange and slightly rolled highs, the Denons having a somewhat sucked out midrange leaving a clear U frequency response. Sony has been all over the map since they make so many lines of headphones, but among their reference lines there is still variance. The detailed neutral Qualia and the sweet, smooth R10.

Moving to the other side of the world I see Germany/Austria with Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic and AKG with typically more aggressive attack, yet as a whole have a more pure line of headphones. These companies have as their current top of the line, a fairly pure headphone in the K701, T1 and HD800. Then you go back in time to the HE90 which is absolutely romantic, the K1000, a closer to neutral, yet still warm headphone, and Beyer phones like the DT770/880/990, none of which are anywhere near pure.

Japanese headphones more polite? Sure. More pure/neutral/transparent? I think they are about the same as the European companies, but not as much lately.
post #4179 of 21760
Being on break my sleep schedule has returned to it's crazy non-24-hour-abiding rebelliousness. Yesterday I tried to sleep at 1AM (after waking up at 4PM that day) and I woke up today at 3PM. So essentially, I was up for 9 hours, then slept 13 hour straight. This makes no sense to me at all. In the end I wasted 13 hours and I'm STILL waking up in the mid afternoon. This sucks. I'll never understand my body.

I'm falling in love with all the pics of speakers that people are posting. Speakers truly can look beautiful.
post #4180 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by compoopers View Post

Being on break my sleep schedule has returned to it's crazy non-24-hour-abiding rebelliousness. Yesterday I tried to sleep at 1AM (after waking up at 4PM that day) and I woke up today at 3PM. So essentially, I was up for 9 hours, then slept 13 hour straight. This makes no sense to me at all. In the end I wasted 13 hours and I'm STILL waking up in the mid afternoon. This sucks. I'll never understand my body.
I'm falling in love with all the pics of speakers that people are posting. Speakers truly can look beautiful.


My 4 years in college actually taught me a lot about my body's circadian rhythm. I noticed that the best up-time is anywhere from 12-16 hours, but I always push my sleep ahead 1 hour, so each week I would be waking up an hour later in the morning, then afternoon, and finally evening. That certainly didn't help with my morning classes though!

post #4181 of 21760
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post


Interesting post, and observation. Can you really call the majority of Japanese headphones neutral, or transparent, aiming for purity? Certainly Stax has this and a few miscellaneous headphones like the Qualia or AD2000. Polite does fit universally, but many Japanese headphones are noticeably colored, for example the recent AT woodies that were very popular here, though openly regarded as colored. The Fostex and Denon lines are certainly not aiming for purity. Both are bassier than real to varying degrees, the Fostex being closer to neutral, yet still with a romantic midrange and slightly rolled highs, the Denons having a somewhat sucked out midrange leaving a clear U frequency response. Sony has been all over the map since they make so many lines of headphones, but among their reference lines there is still variance. The detailed neutral Qualia and the sweet, smooth R10.
Moving to the other side of the world I see Germany/Austria with Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic and AKG with typically more aggressive attack, yet as a whole have a more pure line of headphones. These companies have as their current top of the line, a fairly pure headphone in the K701, T1 and HD800. Then you go back in time to the HE90 which is absolutely romantic, the K1000, a closer to neutral, yet still warm headphone, and Beyer phones like the DT770/880/990, none of which are anywhere near pure.
Japanese headphones more polite? Sure. More pure/neutral/transparent? I think they are about the same as the European companies, but not as much lately.

 

 

Wasn't suggesting it applied to the majority of Japanese audio, but rather that it was a common trend among high end companies there. You'll note the majority of those names I mentioned, with the exception of Sony and AT, were boutique names. As for Sony and AT, they're so large you'll find a wide variety of sound signatures represented. Most of the mass market stuff is like any other country: they target the average consumer. In Japan that means an emphasis on vocals and sound signatures that accentuate pop music and symphonic rock-type stuff. You also have to consider that a lot of headphones in Japan are marketed as either fashion or limited edition collectibles. Basically the stuff you find on AudioCubes, the cheaper Sony stuff, the Audio-Technica woodies, the FAD Piano Forte line, etc. Many of these headphones are designed to be self contained and not demanding of a high-end rig (though they don't necessarily eschew it), and as such the coloration is "built in" already. It's tuned to sound musical and enjoyable to certain tastes when used with any old source. However Final Audio also has their balanced armatures; Sony has their SA3000, SA5000, Qualia 010; Stax has their everything; Audio-Technica has their AD series and CK earphones. Then there's TakeT. I wouldn't call these headphones (Q010, AD2000, etc.) "miscellaneous" either, as they're some of the most famous representations of Japanese audiophilia.

 

The Sony R10 and Fostex TH900 are interesting examples. They have very distinct colorations are a result of their biocellulose drivers, but overall I think they still retain a clarity and purity that is very natural sounding. The high-end Denons were designed for the international market, and they're also meant to be used for a variety of everyday tasks (computer jack listening, movies, etc.) despite their high price tag.

 

When I listen to a high-end Japanese audio system, that is to say the whole system and not just one or two parts in isolation (be it headphones or speakers: Stax, Kondo, etc.), I'm usually struck by how everything just sounds "correct." That's not to say other countries don't make proper gear. Rather, for high end audio Japanese tastes seem to prefer sound that is presented holistically, the opposite of what one finds with some of those uber-analytic German headphones: it's not about picking apart little nuances and details, but rather just hearing the music as an organic unity. You just start listening to the music and not caring about the individual constituents. As cliche as it may sound, it's seems to be about the emotional response conveyed in the totality of parts working together. Again, that's obviously a generalization, and I'm not saying you don't find this in other places. It's a trend among audiophiles of any nationality.

 

The Q010 actually fails at this when paired with a lot of gear. The notes are too dispersed and the song structure breaks down, sounding disjointed and too clinical. When paired with Sony's own gear however it acts as a counter-balance.


Edited by MuppetFace - 12/28/12 at 6:36pm
post #4182 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vuroth View Post

700

 

I'm always tickled to see the very idiosyncratic ED 10 stand design being copied and used to hold headphones that are nothing like the ED 10.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MuppetFace View Post

Also I kinda want to pick up a pair of sub-$500 Heil-tweeter speakers:

 

You do swing between extremes, don't you?

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MuppetFace View Post

Perhaps it's better expressed thusly: rather than a window or conduit, the gear is more along the lines of a host or instrument. Not only does it convey something, but it also imparts something along with what it manifests. This is true of any playback system. There's never a 1:1 accuracy in translation, however one often finds audiophiles who treat it as such for all intents and purposes. The latter approach therefore can be seen as more readily embracing this.

 

 

How I think of it is that my audio equipment is part of a signal chain that began at the microphone. And that it is neither a matter of subjectivity (illusion) or objectivity (realism); it's a matter of my choosing what best makes the sound believable (verisimilitude). This is the same decision-making process that occurs on the recording side, in which the equipment has to either tailor the sound in the ways they see fit, or leave the sound as unchanged as possible, but either approach is considered a valid production method, as long as the result is artful.

 

(If this sounds like I'm being handwavy about the engineering that goes into good-quality music production, I'm not; an effortless-sounding production requires the most technical knowledge and skill.)

 

I (would like to) think the Japanese audio system designers think of it that way too; I think it goes some way to explaining why many of the most interesting boutique designers develop systems end-to-end rather than focus the majority of their energy on specific components (mainly speakers, or mainly amps, or mainly record players): They are not intending to design a piece of equipment whose output, an idealized version of the input, is handed off to the next device in the chain; they are trying to design an ensemble whose synergy makes the best sound.

post #4183 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by MuppetFace View Post

 

The Q010 actually fails at this when paired with a lot of gear. The notes are too dispersed and the song structure breaks down, sounding disjointed and too clinical. When paired with Sony's own gear however it acts as a counter-balance.

Sounds similar to SA5000, but it fails with less gear.

post #4184 of 21760
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dukeskd View Post

Sounds similar to SA5000, but it fails with less gear.

 

I actually like when the Q010 "fails." It's only really a failure depending on your goal; sometimes I'm in the mood for hyper-analytic listening and getting wrapped up in every little breath and creaking floorboard. It's fun.

 

But when I want to hear music in an organic way, albeit with an extremely open and detailed presentation, I'll hook the Q010 up to my Walkman or old Sony CD player.

post #4185 of 21760
By miscellaneous I didn't mean to infer they were somehow unimportant, just that the sheer quantity of non-transparent Japanese headphones dwarfs those who are, IMO. I guess what I'm taking exception to in your argument is that you are compartmentalizing then drawing a broad conclusion. You say certain headphones are engineered to be self contained and that they sort of don't count, then you bring up the more neutral lines of the companies and then make your argument based off those lines. I also think you might be widening the field a bit too much by including the SA3000/5000 and the entire line of AT ADs. Certainly the 3000/5000 share characteristics of the Qualia, but really are not revered in any way. Again with the AD series, the AD700 gets it's popularity due to it's price, and while it is a somewhat neutral headphone it clearly has limits. The models between it and the AD2000 are steps in the right direction, but really only the AD2000 has any magic. I don't have any experience with the CK and FA earphones, but wasn't it pretty much just one model of the CK that was wildly popular due to it's balanced signature? Once you start looking at the true icons of Japanese transparency your list gets rather short.

While they may not have the politeness of the Japanese, there are at least as many icons of tranparency from Europe, however they are likely not quite as revered due to the nature of Japanese fandom.

Reading your post makes me realize that I haven't actually heard a modern fully Japanese rig, perhaps I'm missing the magic as you say, but it appeared your post was more about how their headphones were neutral and their gear colored. I'm simply comparing Japanese headphones with the rest using the same amp and source.

I do agree with what you said about Japanese going about audio in a more holistic manner, though. They design systems, not components.
Edited by Maxvla - 12/28/12 at 6:58pm
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