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      04-26-2013, 02:53 AM   #1
SteveC
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Harman Kardon running in

4 weeks ago I collected my M135i....few days later I commented that I was a little underwhelmed with the HK sound system which I felt had a slightly boomy, 'one note' bottom end. I speculated that it may need time to run in.

Well that was indeed the case. Yesterday, after about 20 hours of playing, I sat in the car with engine off for another 'listen' and the system has improved markedly. Bass is now far more agile and musical....the system 'images' extremely well (for a car) and has exceptional pace, rhythm and timing. If its anything like domestic hi-fi, it will probably continue to improve up to around 50-60 hours playing time.

Its also taken me quite some time to get the seats perfectly positioned, but I think I've now found the spot. Sitting in my garage, playing music at realistic levels, I was struck by what a beautiful and accomplished car this is.
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      04-26-2013, 03:15 AM   #2
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On recommendation of the sales person when taking delivery of the car, I've set the treble quite high and the bass a little a little higher than the standard setting. Having played around with it subsequently these settings do definitely bring out the best in the system!
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      04-26-2013, 04:23 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveC View Post
Yesterday, after about 20 hours of playing, I sat in the car with engine off for another 'listen' and the system has improved markedly. Bass is now far more agile and musical....

....If its anything like domestic hi-fi, it will probably continue to improve up to around 50-60 hours playing time.
It should be mentioned that the notion of "run in" of sound systems is simply not borne out by the facts. Precision measurements of hi-fi equipment immediately following purchase and then after a period of use generally shows no change at all. Some speaker cones can be stiff when new, but that will be resolved within a few minutes of use.

In reality, what "runs in" is not the speakers... it's your ears and brain.

What you've experienced is a growing familiarity and comfort with the tone of the Harman/Kardon tuned system. If you don't believe me, I'm receiving a new F20 with H/K in a few months, and I plan to analyze the system with the acoustic measurement gear I own. I'll then be able to re-test after many hours of operation and publish both results.

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the system 'images' extremely well (for a car) and has exceptional pace, rhythm and timing.
What you're hearing is not imaging, it's the additional physical sound radiators located in the centre dash, and the "Logic 7" processing. Real imaging is simply not a feasible characteristic of even the best car audio system, simply because of the grossly asymmetric listening position.

At the most basic level, achieving real stereo imaging tends to require high consistency between the left and right channels, and to avoid crossover within key frequency ranges. A high end home theatre setup can have its imaging potential disrupted by placing the speakers asymmetrically and/or near side walls.

Pace, rhythm and timing are meaningless words you'll only ever find in press releases and "What Hi-Fi" grade reviews. They're meaningless because they rarely mean the same thing to different people. The real question is linear response, cabinet resonance and room acoustics.
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      04-26-2013, 05:11 AM   #4
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Great, we have an audiophile on the BMWholic forum
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      04-26-2013, 12:00 PM   #5
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Oh Boy....I've hooked one! A fellow audiophile

Quote:
Originally Posted by AussieSimon View Post
It should be mentioned that the notion of "run in" of sound systems is simply not borne out by the facts. Precision measurements of hi-fi equipment immediately following purchase and then after a period of use generally shows no change at all. Some speaker cones can be stiff when new, but that will be resolved within a few minutes of use.

In reality, what "runs in" is not the speakers... it's your ears and brain.

What you've experienced is a growing familiarity and comfort with the tone of the Harman/Kardon tuned system. If you don't believe me, I'm receiving a new F20 with H/K in a few months, and I plan to analyze the system with the acoustic measurement gear I own. I'll then be able to re-test after many hours of operation and publish both results.


What you're hearing is not imaging, it's the additional physical sound radiators located in the centre dash, and the "Logic 7" processing. Real imaging is simply not a feasible characteristic of even the best car audio system, simply because of the grossly asymmetric listening position.

At the most basic level, achieving real stereo imaging tends to require high consistency between the left and right channels, and to avoid crossover within key frequency ranges. A high end home theatre setup can have its imaging potential disrupted by placing the speakers asymmetrically and/or near side walls.

Pace, rhythm and timing are meaningless words you'll only ever find in press releases and "What Hi-Fi" grade reviews. They're meaningless because they rarely mean the same thing to different people. The real question is linear response, cabinet resonance and room acoustics.
Hey Simon....hope you're up for a good discussion.

Firstly to the concept of running in. There has been an objective vs. subjective debate about this for years in the Audiophile community with absolutely no agreement or conclusion.....so let me relate one experience. Some years ago I purchased a brand new pair of Sonus Faber Extremas for my existing Balanced Audio Technology system. I installed the speakers and took a listen....the sound was not to my liking. Instead of putting myself through hours of torture, I simply placed the speakers face to face, reversed the polarity of one speaker, selected mono on the amp and left the speakers playing for 60 hours. Because the speakers are facing one another and out of phase, there's virtually no sound but current is flowing and the speakers are working hard. After 60 hours I tried them again and again I did not like the sound. Another 60 hours running in and the improvement was absolutely clear to hear. The system had lost a particular edginess and brittleness that I found most unpleasant and gained a wonderful musicality that was not present on the first audition. In the complete absence of any familiarizing period the sound changed completely and didn't change the more I listened.
Second experience.....blind testing of a new vs. used component. In random substitution of 2 otherwise identical components we were able to pick the new component 100% correctly, simply by identifying artefacts of the sound that were entirely absent in the used component. The effect of this artefact was to create discomfort...so you didn't have to listen that carefully....with one component the music was gorgeous while the other caused a degree of discomfort...totally reproducibly, time and again.

Imaging......imaging is something created 100% psychoacoustically i.e in your head. In nature a sound always emanates from a single point. The difference in level and phase reaching each ear is used by the brain to assign distance and directionality to the sound. In audio, we have 2 or more sound sources, so we can manipulate the information that arrives at each ear, creating an illusion of direction and distance that doesn't actually exist. It is therefore entirely possible, by manipulating levels and phase, to create the illusion of imaging in a car. The imaging created may not be accurate in terms of the original recording...or the same as that created by a stereo system but it is certainly capable of providing the illusion of spacial depth and width. Essentially both stereo and multi speaker systems are all doing the same thing....manipulating the sound waves that reach your ear to create spacial illusion. The only place that imaging really exists is in your head. It does not exist in a room. Why do walls and reflective objects destroy imaging? Because they blur and distort the sound waves reaching the ears, so the brain can no longer relate the input from each ear to construct a clear sense of depth and direction.

Pace, rhythm and timing involve human perception. Play the same piece of music on one system and it will leave you unmoved, while another will have you bouncing out of your chair (or driver's seat). The first system sounds slow and lifeless, while the other gives the music real drive and impulse and sounds highly rhythmical and involving. Given that the record, CD or memory is being tracked, read or clocked at identical speeds, the difference comes down to presentation and perception. Onc system sounds like it lacks pace, rhythm and timing, while the other has these characteristics in spades. PRaT probably can't be measured at least not that I'm aware of, but it can most certainly be heard in terms of how involving and engaging one system is vs. another. I suspect that it has to do with the tonal balance of mid-bass vs. the rest of the spectrum but that's pure speculation

Last edited by SteveC; 04-26-2013 at 03:48 PM.
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      04-26-2013, 12:14 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by hwelvaar View Post
Great, we have an audiophile on the BMWholic forum
Clearly there are two!

SteveC, do you mind using your superior knowledge of sound and share the settings you use for your HK system? AussieSimon can do the same when he gets his. Thanks!
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      04-26-2013, 07:42 PM   #7
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      04-26-2013, 07:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveC View Post
Firstly to the concept of running in. There has been an objective vs. subjective debate about this for years in the Audiophile community with absolutely no agreement or conclusion
Of course there's been no agreement or conclusion, because the subjectivism is like religion -- everyone has their own story and is convinced it's correct. Yes, in the end, sound is an entirely emotional experience. But until those pressure waves hit your ears, the whole process is purely measurable, repeatable science. Unfortunately most system evaluations test the emotional experience, and almost never the actual sonic properties of a system.

In regards to blind tests, their usefulness entirely depends on the component, and the rigor used when setting up the test. For example, different copies of the identical model of speaker are often sufficiently different to be marginally audible. For components in the signal path, a difference in sound pressure of a couple of decibels is enough to reliably skew results heavily in favour of the louder component.

Your paragraph on imaging is substantially correct, but might as well be a quote from Layperson Wikipedia. It's not a response to anything I said.

Your paragraph on pace, rhythm and timing is amusing -- but like arguing with someone's religion there's just nowhere to start, and nowhere to go.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The entire consumer audio space is infected with many layers of misinformation, misunderstanding and plain old bullshit. Layer upon layer upon layer of complete and utter wrongness. Perhaps the biggest lie in audio is that personal taste matters. If you set up a good system properly (i.e. competent equipment, good acoustics and accurate calibration) then it will immediately sound fantastic to 90% of ears. The remaining 10% or so will take time to acclimate, but will always, without fail, eventually prefer the accurate system over their old system.

For anyone who's interested, here's a quick summary of what matters when it comes to audio reproduction:
  • What you're listening to. If you listen to terrible music, the best equipment in the world can't fix it!
  • What you're used to. If you're used to a treble-heavy system, everything else is going to sound flat. Like reducing salt from your diet, food will taste bland for a while. Your tongue can slowly acclimate; your ears can slowly acclimate, but it takes a while. The same applies to dips and peaks across the entire audible frequency spectrum.
  • The room. And anything you can do to improve the room. Simply stated, the best speakers in the world will sound like crap in your bathroom. Modest speakers will sound amazing in an ideal space. Most people's listening spaces are somewhere between a bathroom and the ideal; more often closer to the former than the latter.
  • The speakers and speaker cabinets. They matter a little bit; they certainly define the upper limit of potential of a system. Particularly the speaker cabinets -- this is why treating your door cavity can be so important.

And here's what doesn't matter:
  • Cables
  • Interconnects
  • Amplifiers (as long as they're driven within their limits, and not broken)
  • Digital audio exceeding 44.1kHz/16 bit
  • DACs and source devices
  • Magical tweaks
  • "Pure direct" modes
  • Your favourite brand name
  • Everything else I haven't mentioned

Last edited by AussieSimon; 04-26-2013 at 11:30 PM.
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      04-27-2013, 03:12 AM   #9
SteveC
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Typically.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by AussieSimon View Post
Of course there's been no agreement or conclusion, because the subjectivism is like religion -- everyone has their own story and is convinced it's correct. Yes, in the end, sound is an entirely emotional experience. But until those pressure waves hit your ears, the whole process is purely measurable, repeatable science. Unfortunately most system evaluations test the emotional experience, and almost never the actual sonic properties of a system.

In regards to blind tests, their usefulness entirely depends on the component, and the rigor used when setting up the test. For example, different copies of the identical model of speaker are often sufficiently different to be marginally audible. For components in the signal path, a difference in sound pressure of a couple of decibels is enough to reliably skew results heavily in favour of the louder component.

Your paragraph on imaging is substantially correct, but might as well be a quote from Layperson Wikipedia. It's not a response to anything I said.

Your paragraph on pace, rhythm and timing is amusing -- but like arguing with someone's religion there's just nowhere to start, and nowhere to go.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The entire consumer audio space is infected with many layers of misinformation, misunderstanding and plain old bullshit. Layer upon layer upon layer of complete and utter wrongness. Perhaps the biggest lie in audio is that personal taste matters. If you set up a good system properly (i.e. competent equipment, good acoustics and accurate calibration) then it will immediately sound fantastic to 90% of ears. The remaining 10% or so will take time to acclimate, but will always, without fail, eventually prefer the accurate system over their old system.

For anyone who's interested, here's a quick summary of what matters when it comes to audio reproduction:
  • What you're listening to. If you listen to terrible music, the best equipment in the world can't fix it!
  • What you're used to. If you're used to a treble-heavy system, everything else is going to sound flat. Like reducing salt from your diet, food will taste bland for a while. Your tongue can slowly acclimate; your ears can slowly acclimate, but it takes a while. The same applies to dips and peaks across the entire audible frequency spectrum.
  • The room. And anything you can do to improve the room. Simply stated, the best speakers in the world will sound like crap in your bathroom. Modest speakers will sound amazing in an ideal space. Most people's listening spaces are somewhere between a bathroom and the ideal; more often closer to the former than the latter.
  • The speakers and speaker cabinets. They matter a little bit; they certainly define the upper limit of potential of a system. Particularly the speaker cabinets -- this is why treating your door cavity can be so important.

And here's what doesn't matter:
  • Cables
  • Interconnects
  • Amplifiers (as long as they're driven within their limits, and not broken)
  • Digital audio exceeding 44.1kHz/16 bit
  • DACs and source devices
  • Magical tweaks
  • "Pure direct" modes
  • Your favourite brand name
  • Everything else I haven't mentioned

First off let me say that I would LOVE audio to be as simple and straightforward (and therefore cheap) as you claim. I work for one of the World's premier test and measurement companies and I can tell you categorically that every time a measurement system significantly increases in sensitivity, we find out new things about our World. Claiming we can measure everything assumes we know everything, which we most certainly don't. In fact every new discovery typically brings with it a host of new questions. There was a long debate about the efficacy of after-market power cables in hi-fi, one manufacturer even being sanctioned by an advertising standards agency for unsubstantiated claims. His response was to buy some sensitive test equipment and hire a consultant. The resulting scientific paper showed exactly what was causing the sonic differences between power cables. But of course you do have to know what to measure, which isn't always as straightforward as it sounds (excuse the pun)

On measurement vs. subjective listening I refer you to some back issues of Hi-Fi News or Stereophile, where they do both, exhaustively. Lots of examples of poor measurements sounding great and vice-versa. Most tube systems measure rather poorly but a lot sound great in terms of their ability to raise goose bumps vs. leave you cold and unmoved. Ask some of the truly legendary electric guitarists why they used old valve amps in preference to solid state blockbusters (figuratively speaking of course....because they're dead). Its was because the tubes sounded altogether more appealing, despite their poor measurements (and sometimes loud humming).

Think about all the progress we've made in the area of acoustics, CAD, materials, adhesives, power tools, precision manufacturing, measurement systems etc. Can we build anything approaching a Stradivarius or Guarneri violin? No we can't. One of the reasons (we hypothesize) is that climatic conditions at the time these violins were made caused the trees to grow much slower and therefore the grain of the wood to be much closer.....but mostly we don't really know why they sound so wonderful.

Regarding your point on imaging....you talk about 'real imaging' but what is 'real imaging'? My point was that all imaging is a psychoacoustic phenomenon created by manipulating sound pressure levels and phase of sound waves reaching the ears. Its is therefore just as possible to create imaging in a car as it is in any other space, as long as you can control SPLs and Phase. Given that the designer of a car system has almost everything under his control (system, speakers, acoustics, seating position, speaker positioning etc.) it is entirely possible to create 'real imaging' in a car....it just requires a different set of playback setpoints from those of a typical stereo system in a room.

In summary, there's a lot of misinformation and snake-oil around hi-fi, but the black and white "if you can't measure it, it ain't happening" view is equally misguided in my opinion, given our very limited knowledge on the subject of electronic measurement and psychoacoustics and bearing in mind that observation is the starting point of all measurements.

Anyway, I'm sure this is getting boring for non-audio BMW fans.

Suffice to say that to these experienced ears, the HK sound systems in BMWs take a considerable time to sound their best and that their best is really good at reproducing music in a highly entertaining and enjoyable manner, that in hi-fi related value terms far exceeds its relatively modest asking price. The changes to the system aren't subtle...the new system sounding electronic and quite harsh in the midrange and tops, while the bass lacks tonal definition and sounds monotonic. Given some hours, the system loses the harshness, becoming sweeter and more natural and the bass becomes a lot more musical, accurate and agile, propelling the music with a greater sense of rhythm and drive.

By the way, there is a major difference between compressed MP3 and lossless WAV files, the latter being altogether more musical. WAV takes a lot more memory but again the difference isn't subtle. I haven't tried every codec or data rate but 320kbit/s seems to be a minimum for reasonably good reproduction that preserves fidelity and transparency. Given that I have my music collection on 32GB memory sticks I'm not memory limited so can go for the superior WAV format, where I have the CD and 320kbit/s MP3 for downloads

Last edited by SteveC; 04-27-2013 at 04:34 AM.
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      04-27-2013, 04:04 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by SteveC View Post
given our very limited knowledge on the subject of electronic measurement
Seriously? You're saying that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveC View Post
I work for one of the World's premier test and measurement companies
Clearly not one related to audio.

Last edited by AussieSimon; 04-27-2013 at 04:22 AM.
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      04-27-2013, 04:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveC View Post
Can we build anything approaching a Stradivarius or Guarneri violin?
The only thing a Stradivarius has is a sense of mystique. They're not special.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptiveca...pick-the-strad

Your response about imaging either completely misses the point, or is a willful misinterpretation. And anyway, achieving "real imaging" would require incredible trickery to achieve in a vehicle, because you have nearly everything going against you -- a very small room, offset listening position, weird shaped cabinets, huge relativistic distances between drivers, and many sources of reflections.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveC View Post
Suffice to say that to these experienced ears, the HK sound systems in BMWs take a considerable time to sound their best ... Given some hours, the system loses the harshness, becoming sweeter and more natural and the bass becomes a lot more musical, accurate and agile, propelling the music with a greater sense of rhythm and drive.
Yet somehow these massive differences can't be measured.

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Originally Posted by SteveC View Post
By the way, there is a major difference between compressed MP3 and lossless WAV files
Double-blind tests have shown that LAME MP3 encodings as low as ~175 kbps VBR produce results that are nominally considered transparent. Sadly the MP3 codec has some fatal flaws that mean certain exceptionally rare artifacts can remain regardless how high the bitrate is. With AAC support pretty much universal now, nobody should be encoding as MP3 any more except for compatibility reasons.

If you are encoding for listening on the move (in your car or with portable headphones) then you don't need anything more than 128kbps AAC, which is indistinguishable to the original for all but the most careful listening. If you want uncompromising quality with a reasonable file size, 256kbps AAC is completely and utterly transparent, even under the best listening conditions possible.
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      04-28-2013, 03:27 AM   #12
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Stradivarius

Someone with your wealth of knowledge should immediately see the flaw in the Stradivarius testing. You even refer to it in one of your previous posts.

Clue.......what's statistically known as a confounding variable.

Ever been to a hi-fi show? What was your overall impression of how the exhibited systems sounded?

Regarding electronic measurements in general.....we've been at it for less than 100 years and look how far we've come. Are you expecting no further progress in the next 100 years? Should we fire all our R&D guys and gals 'cos there's nothing left to discover? Given that we still don't even know exactly what's going on with static electricity, the list of what we know we don't know is still pretty damned long. Let me give you a specific example of what I mean. When you listen to music you listen to the guitar, the drum, the cymbals, the violin, the voice etc. Name me any piece of electronic hardware that can pick out and measure any of those instruments like the ear/brain does. So when the voice sounds harsh, how would you pick that aspect out of a frequency spectrum and measure it? One day it will be possible, but not today.

Car vs. home stereo/multi channel

Your points about imaging are perfectly valid except you're forgetting one important thing.....when designing systems for use in the home, the designer has no control over room size, shape, construction, acoustics, partnering equipment etc. so designs and tunes for the average. On installation, unless you use a processor to measure and correct for room response, you are stuck with trying to install a fixed system in a fixed acoustic space. If you take a lively, slightly bright sounding system and install it in a room with lots of reflections and little absorption i.e a room with a long RT-60 reverb time, you'll end up with a very fatiguing sound. Similarly if you install in an L shaped room, where one speaker has a wall and the other doesn't, you'll never get proper imaging, unless you take other acoustic measures.
A car is ENTIRELY different. The complete system and acoustic environment is fixed, so everything to do with the system and its installation is under the control of the designer. He can adjust for reverb time, he can change the frequency balance....resonances can be damped or tuned out, speaker phase shifts compensated, response curves corrected, phase adjusted, cross over points and filters manipulated, individual speaker levels set, etc. In short, the designer has almost complete control over the engineering of the sound waves that reach your ear. And since imaging is your brain's interpretation of the sound waves entering your ears, its entirely feasible to produce imaging in an automotive environment. One very simple example of what I'm talking about is having volume increase with speed to create the impression of constant volume level and clarity, despite increasing background noise.

If we go back to your point about bathrooms, why do you think a typical hi-fi sounds bad in a bathroom? Its because you're installing a system that's designed to work in a far larger, less reverberative space. But could you actually design and tune a system to sound good in a bathroom? There's absolutely no reason why not.....but it would sound pretty damned weird if you then installed it in a normal living room.

Of course please feel free to disagree (I'm sure you will and that's ) but I would politely request that you keep your replies nice and friendly, otherwise we descend to the level of the average acrimonious hi-fi forum, which I'm sure neither of us particularly enjoy.

Finally, here's how a Strad is supposed to sound. Bit different from the sound clips in the trial you mentioned and another clue why no one could hear the difference between the various violins.



Cheers!

Steve

Last edited by SteveC; 04-28-2013 at 05:52 AM.
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      04-28-2013, 03:38 AM   #13
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Quote:
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The only thing a Stradivarius has is a sense of mystique. They're not special.
You probably don't mean that...
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      04-28-2013, 04:25 AM   #14
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Whoa, whoa....on the Stradivarius discussion, or indeed -- any discussion of any musical instrument -- it's important to distinguish between sound issues associated with production of the source sound, and those associated with the reproduction of that sound after a process of recording and resurrection. My experience is in woodwind instruments, and there are many variables that effect the heard sound of the live performance: the instrument itself has many variables -- the maker, the temperature and the humidity are all critical, on the day; the musician -- specifically, his or her energy and mental focus. And then there is the performance space, many of which have not been acoustically designed for the instrument(s) being played, including voices.

I think that's a quite different set of issues, and shouldn't be used to confuse matters.

The second issue is hearing, and from experience I can tell you that your ears do "break in" to different music, sounds, and the listening space. I've had experience in groups where the first sense is that the sound is really bad, and then you play and play and replay, and to the self....it's sounding great. And then you have a concert, and you're told it didn't sound so good

The third issue is the listening space. I'm no expert here, but I've hear enough acoustic specialists describe how spaces should be changed to improve sound quality, and how you should carefully position both the source and the listening position. I think it's pretty obvious that cars are severely compromised in terms of both these issues, so one's expectations should never be too high, especially given other factors, such as engine, road and wind noise

The fourth issue is, of course, the reproduction process. This has become a total geek space, so I refuse to comment, except to observe that some processes enhance, and others detract, and that mixers and associated technicians often seem to be as hell-bent on leaving their mark on the reproduced sound as the original performers.

However, like most of us, I love to listen to music while driving. I didn't order the HK option, because I've been sucked in before by supposed high end optional sound systems in cars (ie, Bose systems in Audis). Initially, I was disappointed by the system in my M135i, but -- guess what -- it's getting better!



(no, it's not --- it's objectively probably the same, but my ears are getting used to it, as they do when you play in groups for a while. Our ears notice the "change" in sound much more readily than the sound itself, but our brains quickly adapt. That's my line on all this.)
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      04-28-2013, 05:02 AM   #15
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Taking Science at Face Value

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Originally Posted by Brenyaman View Post
You probably don't mean that...
I think the Stradivarius Trial highlights one of the dangers of science. Can you imagine the headlines; 'Scientist Proves that Stradivarius Violins are Superior to Modern Counterparts' ......not exactly compelling reading. The opposite however stands 300 years of expert opinion on its head by supposedly proving that there's actually nothing really special with these 300year old Cremona masterpieces and that its all hype. Now there's a headline....

The thing is that only truly surprising science make the headlines....if the researcher had found the Stradivarius violins superior, you'd never have heard about it.....indeed it would hardly merit publishing in even an obscure Acoustics journal, given that we've known about it for 300 years.

But lets look a little more closely at the experiment. The thing that sets a Stradivarius apart from its counterparts young and old is its ability to energise a large reverberant space with a richness and power way beyond its diminutive size. The video clip I posted above demonstrates this perfectly.

So where was this test conducted? In a hotel room, described in the commentary as having a 'dry' acoustic. Translated, this means non-reverberant. Take a typical hotel room....fairly small, low ceiling, curtains, carpet, sofa, large bed and a duvet. A room full of absorbent materials, all perfect at soaking up high frequencies. So you take a violin renowned for its ability to energise large reverberant spaces and make them 'sing' and test it in a small over damped room, with enough absorbent material to suck the life out of any frequency above 400hz (most violin fundamentals and all the harmonics). Its no wonder it did not distinguish itself; how could it when the room is removing the very thing that differentiates it....namely its reverberant qualities?

As a parallel, Imagine I took half a dozen food and wine journalists out to dinner, gave them prime Angus beef fillet mignon and salad vinaigrette, then reported the fact they couldn't reliably tell Chateau Laffite-Rothschild from Woolloomoolloo Carbernet. Admittedly most wine experts would know not to mix vinegar and wine....but the parallel holds.

Last edited by SteveC; 04-28-2013 at 05:54 AM.
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      04-28-2013, 05:30 AM   #16
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Nice.
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      04-28-2013, 06:39 AM   #17
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Acclimatization of the senses

Quote:
Originally Posted by ttimbo View Post
(no, it's not --- it's objectively probably the same, but my ears are getting used to it, as they do when you play in groups for a while. Our ears notice the "change" in sound much more readily than the sound itself, but our brains quickly adapt. That's my line on all this.)
Of course the senses adapt....all you need to do is to be listening to music at 'normal' levels, then hit the mute button for a few minutes. Hit the mute button again and you nearly jump out of your chair at the volume level....yet a couple of minutes later its fine again.

Its also now widely accepted that humans can adapt and even enjoy certain types of distortion....there is a years old discussion between solid state and vacuum tube aficionados on that topic.

But there's any easy way to test what we're discussing. Listen to the stereo in your brand new car and list what you like and don't like about the sound. Now listen to a similar system in a used vehicle. If you can hear a difference and a lot of what you disliked is absent, break-in is real. If there's absolutely no difference, and it sounds identical, it isn't.

Last edited by SteveC; 04-28-2013 at 11:17 AM.
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      04-28-2013, 09:12 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveC View Post
Someone with your wealth of knowledge should immediately see the flaw in the Stradivarius testing. You even refer to it in one of your previous posts.
Someone with your wealth of knowledge should immediately see that their test has far fewer flaws than any test where the violinist and listeners know what's being played. A barrage of confounding variables like a herd of stampeding elephants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveC View Post
Your points about imaging are perfectly valid except you're forgetting one important thing.....when designing systems for use in the home, the designer has no control over room size, shape, construction, acoustics, partnering equipment etc. so designs and tunes for the average. On installation, unless you use a processor to measure and correct for room response, you are stuck with trying to install a fixed system in a fixed acoustic space.
Welcome to what I do for a living. :-)

Any professional hi-fi installer that doesn't do acoustic analysis is incompetent and not worth the call-out fee. You can achieve substantial improvements in a room with surprisingly subtle acoustic treatments, and with analysis-driven speaker positioning. After the room has been physically treated (given aesthetic constraints) room correction software can then smooth the response towards flat. Room correction software is an essential part of any hi-fi, but there's limits to what it can do -- it can't turn shit into wine.

My current drive is a Mazda 3 MY09, with the standard hi-fi. I've stuck my analysis gear in there and ran a barrage of tests. The first thing I noticed was that the default tone settings were so far off it's not funny. (For anyone who cares, the settings which gave the best measured and subjective result are Bass -4 and Treble -4.) The second thing was that resonances within the door cavities were completely out of control, and that the right deadening material could probably make an enormous improvement to the sound. And the third thing I noticed was that the acoustics were completely out of control, far beyond the realm of digital processing.

I did try though -- I have a nifty little DSP processor with many bands of finite impulse response filtering, and I loaded it with a profile that should have made modest improvements. But the end result was worse: the filtering was futility fighting against resonances all around the cabin, and just excited trouble-spot frequencies.

The end result is I just don't listen to music in the car. Which is okay; a lot of my audio diet is radio and spoken word. Hopefully though my new BMW will change this -- I do enjoy music on occasion!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveC View Post
He can adjust for reverb time
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveC View Post
But could you actually design and tune a system to sound good in a bathroom? There's absolutely no reason why not.....
Tell that to the guys who do sound reinforcement in halls and churches.

Assuming the listener has two ears and/or free movement of their head, it's impossible to usefully adjust away reflected sound. It's similarly impossible to stop a projected film from illuminating a white room -- the light bouncing off the screen is going to scatter everywhere and there is nothing you can do about it.

Look, I'm sure you're a nice guy, but I'm not going to get anywhere arguing with someone who so beautifully epitomizes the Dunning-Kruger effect. And I don't blame you -- the entire hi-fi industry makes a motza reinforcing the unscientific mumbo-jumbo so readily swallowed by their customers. Some people sincerely believe they can hear the difference between brands of same gauge wire. Most agree that's nonsense, but fail to acknowledge the sincerity of that belief, and the existential jeopardy this places on other confidences. Few are willing to acknowledge that their brain can and does lie to them. Fewer still even realise how manipulable our sense of hearing is.

I work on the principle that if you can't see the difference or measure the difference, it's not worth paying for. It's a horribly imperfect principle, but it works very if you have limited funds. And I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't.
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      04-28-2013, 11:42 AM   #19
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[quote=AussieSimon;13899031]Look, I'm sure you're a nice guy, but I'm not going to get anywhere arguing with someone who so beautifully epitomizes the Dunning-Kruger effect. [quote]

Beautifully phrased!

Quick question....how do you put those little boxes around the quotes...it looks really cool
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      04-28-2013, 12:00 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tawia View Post
+2 treble
+1 bass
So, is there consensus on this?
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      04-28-2013, 04:40 PM   #21
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Tone controls

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Originally Posted by mdt View Post
So, is there consensus on this?
Just had a lengthy play around with the system....tried a few different settings, a couple of different codecs and various bit rates.

The best tone settings I could find were flat. I tried all 8 combinations of +1 and +2 on treble and bass but the effect was always to subjectively depress midrange information...flat gave me overall the most musically pleasing result. Similarly any minus setting was subjectively subtractive at the frequency extremes...bass lost drive and treble lost sparkle. Logical. Whatever was selected, the music improved when switched back to a flat setting.

Then to codecs. I used dBPoweramp's CD Ripper multi-encoder to prepare a few files in FLAC, WMA (Windows Media Audio) and MP3 format. In FLAC I used Lossless level 5 to achieve reasonable file size, whereas in WMA I selected Quality level 9.2 giving a lossless file with 1411 kpbs bit rate. For MP3 I used 320, 256 and 192kbps. Straight away, I can tell you that if you want anything even close to a good performance from the HK set-up, then lossless is the way to go. The difference is not subtle.
MP3 at the lower bit rates is, for me at least, absolutely unlistenable..... boring, compressed, unresolved, harsh, homogenized, irritating....horrible. In these days of cheap memory there's absolutely no reason to use low bitrate, compressed files.

In terms of WMA and FLAC, I could hear no difference between the 2 formats. The sound of either was big and dynamic with excellent width and reasonable depth perception (good for a car). Instruments and voice occupied their own acoustic space, were uncoloured and contained high levels of timbral information. Bass was quite rich with excellent articulation, and drive but not particularly extended. Treble was clear but lacked a certain airiness and sparkle of a good home audio system. The sound overall was presented forward of the listening position and I was not aware of any sounds coming from the rear of the car. In my domestic hi-fi I'm never aware of sounds coming directly from the loudspeakers, which often sound like they are producing no sound whatsoever despite the room being full of music. The effect in the car was similar in that music was spread across the front of the listening position, with some layering and depth perception i.e instruments could be heard further back in the mix behind voice and lead instruments.

All in all, with lossless files, the HK system gave a good account of itself....certainly not the very best but excellent value nonetheless when compared to the Business System that came in my E70 X5, which was way less capable
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      04-28-2013, 05:25 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveC View Post
Quick question....how do you put those little boxes around the quotes...it looks really cool
You got it right, except your trailing [/quote] is missing the forward slash. In many computer markup languages, the forward slash in front of the code designates it as an ending.

The easiest way to do this is to make a wholesale duplicate of the whole-post quote and edit its centre down to the paragraph or sentence you want. Then for the next quote, rinse and repeat. (It also helps to resize the text field so everything fits on one screen.)
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