- Jun 26, 2001
The following has been posted by Peter Qvortrup at Audio Asylum in March. Qvortrup is the owner of Audio Note UK. I have found many of Qvortrup's unconventional ideas about what to look for in music reproduction and how to go about evaluating systems and components very helpful in the past. His philosophy is at least thought-provoking. And Audio Note systems tend to be very musical and engaging to my ears. A couple of months ago, I have even bought one of Audio Note's non-oversampling, digital-filterless CDPs. So, I guess he has a point.
Posted by Peter Qvortrup (M) on March 11, 2003 at 04:48:45
In Reply to: Re: Use music you don't particularly like for the initial evaluation... posted by Rob Doorack on March 09, 2003 at 07:50:52:
Thanks for remembering that!
I shall expand on this if I may?
I work on three basic methods when doing serious evaluation work.
1.) Comparison by Contrast, main tenet is the fact that no two recordings can be the same and therefore the better the equipment, the greater the sonic difference between recordings.
I know that this flies directly in the face of current wisdom, which favours "consistency" which can only be interpreted as homogeneity or "sameness", something which the digital media do particularly well, however, in my mind there is no question that if one's main purpose in owning an audio system is in order to listen to and explore music in all its variety and glory, then this is the last "quality" one would want, as it reduces the greater performances to the also-ran.
2.) The use of unfamiliar music or music you do not like, the better system will normally engage you better thus keeping your attention, if it does not then chances are that the system is not making the most of the source material.
It is important to see the broader issue here, because in order for any listener to be allowed access to new music or music which was previously rejected as uninteresting, unpleasant or irritating, a system which suddenly changes this has on offer a staircase to a greater appreciation of a wider range of music and thus an expansion of ones understanding of oneself.
3.) Use of music which is VERY badly recorded, preferably recordings from the early part of the 20th century, on all these recordings the noise competes heavily with the music, and the system or component that makes more "sense" of the music by "separating" it from the noise the best, IS always the better.
An interesting observation, two things happen when you play 78's or 78 transfers at hifi shows.
A.) The vast majority of visitors walk out immediately, without giving the music or the system a closer listen, and normally misinterpret the sound of the recording as the sound of the system.
B.) The few that stay for long enough to listen more seriously are normally struck in amazement by how good the underlying sound and the quality of the performances are, once they have allowed their brain's natural filter time to work.
Over the years, as I have studied and refined the various aspects of the evaluation process, I have also come to the conclusion that the greatest artists somehow manage to "punch" their art through an otherwise inadequate medium much better than the lesser ditto and my experience has been that the better sounding the system the greater the difference in the quality of interpretation and emotional expression between recordings.
It is not that most of us are incapable of being touched by these great performances, but we are so distracted by the noise initially that we rarely give ourselves the time to listen beyond that, the "seasoned" audiophile is especially prone to dismiss anything unfamiliar when walking into a room at a show.
In contrast, interpretatively poor and musically shallow performances on technically excellent recordings actually benefit from the audiophile obsession with sonic "packaging" such as, low noise, imaging, sound staging, bass slam etc., and favours equipment that provide these sonic elements to the detriment of the music itself.
To me this is a compelling argument for why the audiophiles are rarely music lovers and the music lovers almost never interested in equipment.
As a fairly serious music lover and record collector myself, I fall into the latter category were it not for the fact that I decided to make equipment myself, which has always caused me to consider and analyse both sides of the argument.
Whilst I agree that absolutes do not exist in terms of "perfection", they do exist if one sets the lesser goal of making equipment that makes the best use of a wide variety of recorded music and provided that the "best" is defined this way, not by the more common single criteria review processes, which mainly address simplistic and fashionable criteria such as "Rhythm, sound stage, imaging, detail, slam etc." it is in my opinion comparative easy to establish whether one product, circuit, component or system is better than another.
This bias towards and blind favouring of totally artificial and perceived differences between equipment, rather than music based and musically relevant issues has lead the audio industry into what I see as a blind alley where the sound of the equipment has become far more important that the music it is playing to the point where the recording process and technological development have become biased in the same way.