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Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby N i g e l » Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:37 am

Tim Gillett wrote: Is it possible what flatters the sound is the beer? Not just for you but for all of us...

cheapest hifi upgrade is a glass of wine/beer !

Alcohol takes the edge off the real time processing ability required to detect a fake soundstage from the real thing.


What i cant get is Studio engineering v HiFi, surely the same thing with a common goal, yet they are two differnt camps.

Active monitor speakers - putting the electronics in a pressure modulated enclosure - thats like having someone tap your valves with a biro in time with the music ???
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Luke W » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:40 am

N i g e l wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:
What i cant get is Studio engineering v HiFi, surely the same thing with a common goal, yet they are two differnt camps.

Audio engineers use speakers to listen to their music, and Hi-Fi enthusiasts use music to listen to their speakers.

Or something like that, I'm sure I'm not quoting it perfectly...
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby ef37a » Wed Nov 20, 2019 10:07 am

Tim Gillett wrote:Unless the NAD is faulty, is driving speakers it's not designed for or is pushed beyond its limits, it's most unlikely to be the weak link in the setup. Is it possible what flatters the sound is the beer? Not just for you but for all of us...

I USED to be of the opinion Tim that power amplifiers of competent design* were subjectively 'perfect' and did not add 'colour' to a signal.
After reading Self on amps I realized that unless the output resistance is extremely low, some loudspeakers with wide variations of impedance could show response iregularities especially if they dipped below 4R.
I still think such an effect would be very subtle and speaker responses are pretty wild, even if driven from a truly near short. Then the marrying up of such a crap amp with a mad Z speaker is quite unlikely?

*You could of course argue that an amplifier that did not have a near zero OPZ was not a competent design anyway?

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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Arpangel » Wed Nov 20, 2019 10:20 am

Chump wrote:I mix on studio monitors but I've got an old NAD 3020 amp based setup in the living room that gives a definite colouration to the sound (I've tried the amp with a few different speaker / room combinations, and its definitely the amp that gives the colouration). Sounds absolutely nothing like my monitors, but is weirdly flattering to pretty much any material I throw at it, and with a beer I think I might prefer it to my monitors. Useless for mixing though.

Chump. I'm not a hi-fI freak, or an obsessive about this subject in any way, but that NAD is absolutely awful, god knows how it became a fave of the hi-fI community.
It's so bad, the top end is searing, a friend had one and he's almost deaf, and even he couldn't stand it. We used to laugh, it was so harsh and toppy. It wasn't a fault, they're all like it.
It will make the smoothest dullest speaker sound like an NS10 on steroids.
It was a product of that obsession with detail in the early 80's, they thought that just by emphasising the upper mid and top it was all you had to do, at the expense of everything else.
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:40 am

ef37a wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:Unless the NAD is faulty, is driving speakers it's not designed for or is pushed beyond its limits, it's most unlikely to be the weak link in the setup. Is it possible what flatters the sound is the beer? Not just for you but for all of us...

I USED to be of the opinion Tim that power amplifiers of competent design* were subjectively 'perfect' and did not add 'colour' to a signal.
Dave.

I used to believe that a hifi amp was the last thing to colour the sound. Back in the day I had a Sansui 222 turntable, Celestion Dittion 15 speakers, and a Leak Stereo 30 amp. I upgraded the amp to a used Sugden A48 (one of the orange, silver and brown ones which I still have) and even my wife heard the difference immediately. It was night and day.
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby ef37a » Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:43 am

Sam Spoons wrote:
ef37a wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:Unless the NAD is faulty, is driving speakers it's not designed for or is pushed beyond its limits, it's most unlikely to be the weak link in the setup. Is it possible what flatters the sound is the beer? Not just for you but for all of us...

I USED to be of the opinion Tim that power amplifiers of competent design* were subjectively 'perfect' and did not add 'colour' to a signal.
Dave.

I used to believe that a hifi amp was the last thing to colour the sound. Back in the day I had a Sansui 222 turntable, Celestion Dittion 15 speakers, and a Leak Stereo 30 amp. I upgraded the amp to a used Sugden A48 (one of the orange, silver and brown ones which I still have) and even my wife heard the difference immediately. It was night and day.

Ah! but which one was 'right'?

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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:44 am

:D Definitely the Sugden
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:47 am

ef37a wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:Unless the NAD is faulty, is driving speakers it's not designed for or is pushed beyond its limits, it's most unlikely to be the weak link in the setup. Is it possible what flatters the sound is the beer? Not just for you but for all of us...

I USED to be of the opinion Tim that power amplifiers of competent design* were subjectively 'perfect' and did not add 'colour' to a signal.
After reading Self on amps I realized that unless the output resistance is extremely low, some loudspeakers with wide variations of impedance could show response iregularities especially if they dipped below 4R.
I still think such an effect would be very subtle and speaker responses are pretty wild, even if driven from a truly near short. Then the marrying up of such a crap amp with a mad Z speaker is quite unlikely?

*You could of course argue that an amplifier that did not have a near zero OPZ was not a competent design anyway?

Dave.
Interestingly the venerable NAD mentioned appears to be rated for minimum load of 8 ohms total. Then examples are now decades old (how are the caps?).
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Arpangel » Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:54 am

Sam Spoons wrote:
ef37a wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:Unless the NAD is faulty, is driving speakers it's not designed for or is pushed beyond its limits, it's most unlikely to be the weak link in the setup. Is it possible what flatters the sound is the beer? Not just for you but for all of us...

I USED to be of the opinion Tim that power amplifiers of competent design* were subjectively 'perfect' and did not add 'colour' to a signal.
Dave.

I used to believe that a hifi amp was the last thing to colour the sound. Back in the day I had a Sansui 222 turntable, Celestion Dittion 15 speakers, and a Leak Stereo 30 amp. I upgraded the amp to a used Sugden A48 (one of the orange, silver and brown ones which I still have) and even my wife heard the difference immediately. It was night and day.

I had a Stereo 30, it wasn't that good, and it was noisy.
I upgraded to a Quad 303/33 and that sounded much nicer, I had a Thorens TD160 SME/V15, and home-made speakers with 10 inch dual concentric Wharfdales.
Everything has a sound, occasionally I meet engineers, I mean trained electronic engineers, that have this view that if it's right on paper then it doesn't have a sound, and all ampliers sound the same if designed "correctly" and they apply that theory to everything, CD players, mixers, speakers, anything.
The real world, interaction between equipment, component selection, a whole myriad of things that make equipment what it is, and different, never seem to be taken into account.
And they smirk at my view like I'm some sort of alchemist or deluded idiot.
Not all engineers are like this, and, I've had some great friends that have been like this! but we just agree to differ.
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:56 am

Arpangel wrote:
Chump wrote:I mix on studio monitors but I've got an old NAD 3020 amp based setup in the living room that gives a definite colouration to the sound (I've tried the amp with a few different speaker / room combinations, and its definitely the amp that gives the colouration). Sounds absolutely nothing like my monitors, but is weirdly flattering to pretty much any material I throw at it, and with a beer I think I might prefer it to my monitors. Useless for mixing though.

Chump. I'm not a hi-fI freak, or an obsessive about this subject in any way, but that NAD is absolutely awful, god knows how it became a fave of the hi-fI community.
It's so bad, the top end is searing, a friend had one and he's almost deaf, and even he couldn't stand it. We used to laugh, it was so harsh and toppy. It wasn't a fault, they're all like it.
It will make the smoothest dullest speaker sound like an NS10 on steroids.
It was a product of that obsession with detail in the early 80's, they thought that just by emphasising the upper mid and top it was all you had to do, at the expense of everything else.
If that was typical for the many examples sold, NAD would have , or should have, received many customer complaints within the warranty period, not to mention probably scathing reviews by the reputable HiFi press of the day. Did that occur?
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:13 pm

N i g e l wrote:Active monitor speakers - putting the electronics in a pressure modulated enclosure - thats like having someone tap your valves with a biro in time with the music ???

The better (meaning more expensive!) active speaker designs house the electronics in a separate cabinet compartment which is not exposed to the massive pressure variations of the bass driver!
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Arpangel » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:22 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:If that was typical for the many examples sold, NAD would have received many customer complaints within the warranty period, not to mention probably scathing reviews by the reputable HiFi press of the day. Did that occur?

The hi-fi world is very strange, and PR plays a big part.
Just by changing the colour, and removing a few knobs, can make an average unnoticed amplifier sell like hot cakes, and it imediatly gets a "Best Buy"
A friend worked for a top PR company, and he had the accounts for a couple of well known hi-fI companies, and he not only engineered this to happen, but witnessed its success.
Also, unfortunately a lot of people wouldn't know a good sound if it hit them in the face, and they don't care, all they really care about is the name and how it looks, but that's OK, it's their money.
There was a bit of a thing going on in the 80's, some people were saying that a Thorens 160 we'll set-up with a decent arm sounded better than a Linn Sondek, and a guy wrote to a magazine saying that, a month later he wrote in withdrawing his statement, I wonder what side his bread was buttered?
I'm not saying that certain well known brands aren't brilliant, they are, NAD aren't one of them though! I just think that sometimes people fall for the hype and convince themselves that some equipment is actually good when it obviously isn't.
Forget money, pretend it's not an issue, I wouldn't own a Linn turntable, or any British amplifiers, or speakers, I wouldn't say I was a hi-fI freak, I like a combination of looks and sound, a compromise, and I listen to most of my music on a John Lewis portable radio, rarely my stereo, but sometimes it's nice to hear "the big picture" like going to the cinema.
It may seem that I care more about hi-fI than I actually do, but sometimes it's easy to have the wool pulled over our eyes and our wallets emptied, for gear that is basically just not worth it.
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby ef37a » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:27 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:
Arpangel wrote:
Chump wrote:I mix on studio monitors but I've got an old NAD 3020 amp based setup in the living room that gives a definite colouration to the sound (I've tried the amp with a few different speaker / room combinations, and its definitely the amp that gives the colouration). Sounds absolutely nothing like my monitors, but is weirdly flattering to pretty much any material I throw at it, and with a beer I think I might prefer it to my monitors. Useless for mixing though.

Chump. I'm not a hi-fI freak, or an obsessive about this subject in any way, but that NAD is absolutely awful, god knows how it became a fave of the hi-fI community.
It's so bad, the top end is searing, a friend had one and he's almost deaf, and even he couldn't stand it. We used to laugh, it was so harsh and toppy. It wasn't a fault, they're all like it.
It will make the smoothest dullest speaker sound like an NS10 on steroids.
It was a product of that obsession with detail in the early 80's, they thought that just by emphasising the upper mid and top it was all you had to do, at the expense of everything else.
If that was typical for the many examples sold, NAD would have , or should have, received many customer complaints within the warranty period, not to mention probably scathing reviews by the reputable HiFi press of the day. Did that occur?

My thoughts exactly. I found a Stereophile review of that NAD and it looked pretty good. Certainly no respose gyrations that would cause any 'colour'.

The point that is alway missed/ignored in these debates it the term "competent design". If an amplifier is noisy it is either faulty or of bad design.
IIRC the Leak Stereo 30 was a very early Quasi complimentary design? These did not deliver good results and the setting for decently low crossover distortion required some skill and patience. Class A power amps are of course free of crossover distortion but rather impractical above about 20W per channel and that would not go far with low sensitivity speakers.

The beardy,tweaky audiophool world was and reamains fickle.

The Quad 303 was hailed as one of the best amplifiers ever made when it first arrived. Then the B.T.A's decided it was 'unmusical' and it was reviled for years. Now they can't get enough of 'em I seem to read?!!

Did Peter Walker ever have to stump up the 2 bags?

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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby John Willett » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:29 pm

N i g e l wrote:Active monitor speakers - putting the electronics in a pressure modulated enclosure - thats like having someone tap your valves with a biro in time with the music ???

Like the crossover in a passive loudspeaker :bouncy:

My own active loudspeaker has the electronics in a sealed compartment separate from the resonant chamber of the loudspeaker itself.

Also - some active loudspeakers have the electronics outside the box and connected by an umbilical.

I far prefer an active design with the amplifiers driving the drivers directly and with an electronic crossover before the amplifiers and the whole thing designed together - rather than having a passive crossover inside the loudspeaker with all the problems that come with a passive crossover.
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby ef37a » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:38 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
N i g e l wrote:Active monitor speakers - putting the electronics in a pressure modulated enclosure - thats like having someone tap your valves with a biro in time with the music ???

The better (meaning more expensive!) active speaker designs house the electronics in a separate cabinet compartment which is not exposed to the massive pressure variations of the bass driver!

Even so, transistors, ICs and resistors are not microphonic. Capacitors are to some extent but the gain inside an active monitor is rarely more than 30dB* and the caps would not be a problem (if you tap the coupling caps in the first stage of a valve guitar amp you will hear a 'clunk' but we are talking MASSIVE gains there)

*Many budget 'monitors' do indeed have too much gain and that makes them noisy, a problem reported quite often in forums.

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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Arpangel » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:45 pm

ef37a wrote:The beardy,tweaky audiophool world was and reamains fickle.

Do you remember the Quad adverts, the guy with a beard, smoking a pipe, sitting in a comfy armchair......'The Closest Approach To The Original Sound"
I knew a few young people who wouldn't buy Quad products purely because of that advert, they didn't want to be perceived as that type of person. It didn't bother me though!

ef37a wrote:The Quad 303 was hailed as one of the best amplifiers ever made when it first arrived. Then the B.T.A's decided it was 'unmusical' and it was reviled for years. Now they can't get enough of 'em I seem to read?!!

Did Peter Walker ever have to stump up the 2 bags?

Dave.

I loved my Quad 33/303, but I think my friends Ferrograph amp sounded a bit better, even more coloured and creamy!
Now I have a Quad 405/33 combination, still sounds good.

:)
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby John Willett » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:51 pm

Arpangel wrote:Now I have a Quad 405/33 combination, still sounds good.

:)

I still have my Quad 44/405-2 - though not used much now as I have a Grace m903 driving active monitors. :thumbup:
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:04 pm

ef37a wrote:My thoughts exactly. I found a Stereophile review of that NAD and it looked pretty good. Certainly no respose gyrations that would cause any 'colour'.

It was pretty good for its time, and especially so for its price. I think I paid £75 or so... It had comprehensively positive reviews, and I think deservedly so. I had one in the early 80s. Gave it to my Dad when I upgraded after a few years and re-inherited it after my Mum died five years ago. It's still in my man cave and still works well. Surprisingly dynamic and powerful for a 20W design. Best coupled with modest bookshelf speakers rather than anything beefy, but I'd say it had/has a slightly warm and laid-back character. Certainly not searing or shrill. Quite the opposite, in fact. I used it with Videotone GB3 speakers initially, and then some Heybrooks.

Having said that, I have a niggle in the back of my mind that there was a design flaw with the NFB in the earliest 3020s, but I don't know if that made it 'searing' or not. Mine was a later 3020A.

Regarding the Q303... it was/is a good, solid, well-engineered amp... but it's certainly not 'perfect'. If it was, Mr Walker and co wouldn't have felt the need to build the 405... which also wasn't perfect... or the 405-2 which was better... but still not perfect. I've got a (properly serviced and completely up to spec) original 405 and I'm really not very impressed with it. My Rotel 970BX II (rated at 60W) absolutely trounces it! :-)

To be fair, Quad's power amps were all quite clever designs of their time... but their preamps were always terrible IMHO. The 33 is noisy, veiled-sounding and prone to unreliability. The 44 (and its 34 derivative) both have completely ludicrous internal gain structures, and variable sound quality (particularly crosstalk and HF response) depending on which inputs are selected. The Tilt filter was a genius idea, though, and I've always appreciated the flexibility of the various low-pass filter options intended for taming crappy records (especially 78s). The one thing going for them today is their modularity and lovely build quality which lends itself to some intelligent reworking, and there are myriad upgrades (both DIY and from professional upgrade companies) for all of those early Quads which really do make major improvements.

H
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Arpangel » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:15 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
ef37a wrote:My thoughts exactly. I found a Stereophile review of that NAD and it looked pretty good. Certainly no respose gyrations that would cause any 'colour'.

It was pretty good for its time, and especially so for its price. Comprehensively positive reviews. I had one in the early 80s, too. Gave it to my Dad when I upgraded after a few years and re-inherited it after my Mum died five years ago. It's still in my man cave and still works well. Surprisingly dynamic and powerful for a 20W design. Best coupled with modest bookshelf speakers rather than anything beefy, but I'd say it had/has a slightly warm and laid-back character. Certainly not searing or shrill. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Having said that, I have a niggle in the back of my mind that there was a design flaw with the NFB in the earliest 3020s, but I don't know if that made it 'searing' or not. Mine was a later 3020A.

Regarding the Q303... it was/is a good, solid, well-engineered amp... but it's certainly not 'perfect'. If it was, Mr Walker and co. wouldn't have felt the need to build the 405... which also wasn't perfect... or the 405-2 which was better... but still not perfect. I've got a (properly serviced and completely up to spec) original 405 and I'm really not very impressed with it. My Rotel 970BX II (rated at 60W) absolutely trounces it! :-)

H

When you talk about the Quads Hugh, some being better than others, do you mean better as in more neutral or more transparent?
If I had to admit it, I like a coloured sound, during the 80's there were a bunch of us that disliked the movement for more detail and less coloration, we'd have things like powerful Trio amplifiers, Michell turntables, and big American speakers. The other lot would have things like B&W speakers, Linn Turntables and Naim amplifiers,
We liked our stuff because not only did it sound amazing, but it also looked like a work of art!
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Re: Are high quality monitors suitable for relaxed listening?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:34 pm

Arpangel wrote:When you talk about the Quads Hugh, some being better than others, do you mean better as in more neutral or more transparent?

Much more control, better dynamics, lower noise floor, lower distortion (or more transparent, if you prefer) ...

If I had to admit it, I like a coloured sound...


Yes, I'd already reached that conclusion from many of your other posts! :lol:

...during the 80's there were a bunch of us that disliked the movement for more detail and less coloration, we'd have things like powerful Trio amplifiers, Michell turntables, and big American speakers.

Less colouration was a good goal... the 'more detail' thing was a pain in the ear -- but it exploited the 'louder and brighter is better' response that all we humans suffer... I remember spending many hours in hi-fi shops through the 80s and 90s positively wincing at some of the stuff they were trying to tell me was good... Big American speakers of that time were pretty grim, too. Thankfully I'd already been heavily exposed to the really good stuff in the form of LS3/5As and LS5/8s and their ilk (I loved the Spendor BC1s, too!)

The other lot would have things like B&W speakers, Linn Turntables and Naim amplifiers...

Never got on with Naim stuff. Liked most B&Ws and Linn was okay, if overpriced. The Thorens it was based on was better IMHO...

We liked our stuff because not only did it sound amazing, but it also looked like a work of art!

:-) As always, one person's 'amazing' is another's 'brash' and lacking fidelity! That word again... :-)
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