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    #11
    Senior Member JPNola's Avatar
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    A Gaffer I worked with years ago told of a shoot where he and the DP spent hours meticulously sorting out the lighting for a PSA featuring Casey Kasem. At the last minute, just as they were about to roll, Casey's wife arrived. She looked at the image of Casey on the monitor and said something to the effect of "He doesn't look right. I know Casey and his lighting needs...something." The Gaffer, frustrated by this, told Kasem's wife "Hold on a minute. I'm going to make a change and you tell me which you like better, before or after." The Gaffer went behind the white seamless backdrop, took a clothespin in his hand, and used the clothespin to make a "snap" sound similar to the clicking sound of the switch on an ARRI fresnel. He called out "Okay, ready?" He then said "better here?" made the clicking sound with the clothespin , and then said "or better here?". He repeated this "Better here?" <click> "or better here?". "here" <click> "or here?" Kasem's wife, watching the monitor, excitedly chose one of the options "oh, much better the second way! Now he looks right!".

    No change was made to the lighting, Kasem's wife got to think she was looking out for her hubby and putting her expertise into the mix, everyone won.
    Big sources matter.


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    #12
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    There was a huge jump in quality from the Denon 2807 to the Yamaha A3010 on Polk RT2000p speakers (now fairly ancient) with a Polk MTM center and Polk wedge side/rears. The RT2000p's didn't sound that great new (compared to the speakers I replaced (went from 2 ch to 5.1)), however the Yamaha receiver makes them sound amazing. The built in powered subs are more than enough to shake the building (have bass pulled down quite a bit in respect for the neighbors). I wasn't expecting the quality jump as high as it went- I think part of it is Yamaha's Enhancer filter which reconstructs compressed audio, of which everything not on BluRay now is. Encourage anyone looking for a good bang for buck to look at the Yamaha Aventage series. The A3080 is the current model of the A3000 series I'm still using (highly recommended + see the reviews: https://usa.yamaha.com/products/audi...mps/index.html ).

    Some friends went down the ultra high end path with expensive monoblock amps, crazy cables, and B+W speakers that cost more than some people's cars. A fun hobby, like some people with cameras and lenses.

    For ultra high quality listening, I haven't found anything better than electrostatic earspeakers. For around $740, customized Stax (+ custom earpads of your choice) are an amazing value: https://brightland.com/w/the-best-he...s-3100-review/ . You'll also need a decent DAC (I'm using a Sound Devices USBPre2). The electrostatic sound is ultra accurate, and most people describe it as 'fast' with exceptional detail and no distortion. The reason is the thin film has very low mass. Planar magnetic come close (similar principle), and don't need a high voltage 'energizer', however you can definitely hear a difference when doing an A/B test with your eye closed (single blind test). To my ears, sub $800 modded Stax sound better than $3000 planar magnetic with a very high end amp (also $$$), and fare well against the $3700-$4300 Stax: https://staxaudio.com/earspeaker .

    I listened to the prior Orpheus a few years ago, they're now $59,000: https://en-us.sennheiser.com/sennheiser-he-1 . Sure, they sound better than all the Stax's, are super comfortable, and the entire system is a work of tech art (nice for coffee table conversations with guests haha. The tubes go up and down with power on/off). Yup, that's real marble. They might not move many, but there's a market for them.

    When purchasing monitor speakers for mixing, I auditioned a bunch at Guitar Center in Hollywood. I really liked the look of some Adam speakers (style matters!), however they sounded weak compare to fairly inexpensive Tannoys. I got the Tannoys and they still sound amazing, however they do have somewhat noisy amps and when not playing anything there's a slight hiss: not a big deal in a room with computer fans etc.

    Again, the trick is to listen to the lowest quality you can tolerate for a while, then listen to the good hardware occasionally to maintain the WOW factor. iPhones with typical earpods do well for the low end re-calibration


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    #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by filmguy123 View Post
    AV Receiver researching and spent an hour at Magnolia A/B testing Denon VS Marantz receivers. ...

    I am not an audiophile and I have no doubt there are people that could tell the difference clearly. ...
    Look at my replies to Paul and DLD below.

    Anyhow, in my living room there is an A/V receiver to watch movies and a completely separate stereo setup to listen to music: separate amplifiers, loudspeakers and all the rest.

    Quote Originally Posted by paulears View Post
    ...
    Audiphools are objectively subjective or subjectively objective. Nobody has designed a test meter at any price that can measure audio quality, because nobody can define what it is in any meaningful way apart from by comparison, and that always fails the tests. …
    One can choose audio gear based on either measurements or subjective experience.
    The subjective listening experience differs greatly from one person to another. What sounds great to one person may sound bad to another.

    On top of that, more often than not, the room acoustics, including the placement of the loudspeakers and the listening position impacts the subjective sound experience (as well as the measurements) more than the sound gear itself.

    Which is why, when I was active in local audiophiles forums, whenever a newbie asked for advice about any piece of gear, say loudspeakers, or amplifier, or even cables – my advice was always to try whatever one intended to purchase with the rest of their existing system, in their own living room, or wherever the audio setup was placed.

    Quote Originally Posted by DLD View Post
    ...
    However, true audiophiles claim to hear differences between a $300/m cable and a $4,000/m cable.
    I DO hear differences between all kinds of cables: interconnects, loudspeaker cables and power cables. To my ears and subjective listening experience, a higher price tag doesn’t mean a cable will sound better.

    Quote Originally Posted by DLD View Post
    ...
    Others yet spend big money on power conditioners. ...
    In my stereo setup there are (relatively) low-cost isolation transformers, made to my specs, by a local transformers workshop. By no means ‘big money’, yet great (subjective) sound-quality improvement.


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    Quote Originally Posted by jcs View Post
    ...
    When purchasing monitor speakers for mixing, ...
    Monitor speakers for mixing are entirely different ‘beast’ than home theater setup on one hand and a stereo setup on the other hand. The requirements are completely different; the first two are usually intended for enjoyment, while mixing calls for accuracy (whatever that may mean) and evaluating, or attempting to evaluate, how the sound track may sound in the intended distribution environment – movie theater or whatever.

    On top of that, more often than not mixing is done in a different place, or different room than ones’ living room.

    Quote Originally Posted by jcs View Post
    ...
    Again, the trick is to listen to the lowest quality you can tolerate for a while, then listen to the good hardware occasionally to maintain the WOW factor. ...
    I concur with the advice to start with the lowest cost (not necessarily lowest quality) gear that one finds satisfactory enough. However, to my view, it isn’t to give a room for a possible later WOW factor, but to get used to the way the entire system, or setup, sounds, before choosing any possible improvement.
    When considering replacing an A/V receiver with existing speakers, best is to try the intended candidate on ones’ existing location, with the existing speakers.

    Again, the room acoustics may well have a greater impact than the gear used.
    For tuning the room acoustics, my advice is to hire a pro and consider their recommendations.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua_G View Post
    ... Anyhow, in my living room there is an A/V receiver to watch movies and a completely separate stereo setup to listen to music: separate amplifiers, loudspeakers and all the rest...
    That would be my recommendation too but it's his budget.

    PS. And a power conditioner can be had for a decent price these days and is considered a must. And good cables too.


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    #16
    Senior Member David W. Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPNola View Post
    A Gaffer I worked with years ago told of a shoot where he and the DP spent hours meticulously sorting out the lighting for a PSA featuring Casey Kasem. At the last minute, just as they were about to roll, Casey's wife arrived. She looked at the image of Casey on the monitor and said something to the effect of "He doesn't look right. I know Casey and his lighting needs...something." The Gaffer, frustrated by this, told Kasem's wife "Hold on a minute. I'm going to make a change and you tell me which you like better, before or after." The Gaffer went behind the white seamless backdrop, took a clothespin in his hand, and used the clothespin to make a "snap" sound similar to the clicking sound of the switch on an ARRI fresnel. He called out "Okay, ready?" He then said "better here?" made the clicking sound with the clothespin , and then said "or better here?". He repeated this "Better here?" <click> "or better here?". "here" <click> "or here?" Kasem's wife, watching the monitor, excitedly chose one of the options "oh, much better the second way! Now he looks right!".

    No change was made to the lighting, Kasem's wife got to think she was looking out for her hubby and putting her expertise into the mix, everyone won.

    I did the same thing years back as the production director of a radio station I worked at with a client known to be very picky.

    I phone patched the client and said... Well I gave you 3 different reads. I personally like number 2 the best, but I'll let you decide. Then I played the same spot 3 different times.

    Oh you're right, take 2 is the best, let's go with it!


    FWIW my last 2 receivers have been Yamaha, and I have been very pleased with both of them.


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    #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPNola View Post
    A Gaffer I worked with years ago told of a shoot where he and the DP spent hours meticulously sorting out the lighting for a PSA featuring Casey Kasem. At the last minute, just as they were about to roll, Casey's wife arrived. She looked at the image of Casey on the monitor and said something to the effect of "He doesn't look right. I know Casey and his lighting needs...something." The Gaffer, frustrated by this, told Kasem's wife "Hold on a minute. I'm going to make a change and you tell me which you like better, before or after." The Gaffer went behind the white seamless backdrop, took a clothespin in his hand, and used the clothespin to make a "snap" sound similar to the clicking sound of the switch on an ARRI fresnel. He called out "Okay, ready?" He then said "better here?" made the clicking sound with the clothespin , and then said "or better here?". He repeated this "Better here?" <click> "or better here?". "here" <click> "or here?" Kasem's wife, watching the monitor, excitedly chose one of the options "oh, much better the second way! Now he looks right!".

    No change was made to the lighting, Kasem's wife got to think she was looking out for her hubby and putting her expertise into the mix, everyone won.
    Well, probably the most remarkable similar incident was about 20 years ago when I worked for few weeks as a camera technician for rental house. A producer hired a video camera (a very expansive SD one) to shoot a clip for a local popular singer. Me, as a camera tech, accompanied the rented camera. I new almost nothing about the inside of that specific camera, my job was actually to see that the camera will not be ill-treated by the crew.

    Close to the beginning of the shoot, the DP/Camera operator (looking at the camera’s viewfinder, there was no external monitor) said the image was out of focus and turned to me, as the ’camera tech’, to fix it. I knew nothing about fixing the focus, so I opened the camera’s side door and turned a trimmer on the PCB. The DP looked again at the view finder, seemingly satisfied with the ‘improved focus’ and continued the shoot for the entire clip. It isn’t likely that turning the trimmer affected in any way the focus.

    Such occurrences don’t mean that there aren’t audible differences between different amps, receivers and all the rest of audio gear. However, it takes ‘training ones’ ears’ over time and familiarity with the sound of the setup to be able to note real differences.


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    #18
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    Love all the stories guys!

    Regarding isolation transformers / power conditioners - are these the same? What exactly do they do? And why are they a must?


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    Paul McGowan of PS Audio says it's not necessary because every amp has a transformer anyway.

    On the other hand, PS Audio is quite famous for its line of power products, including some that run $10,000. (hey, if you want a perfect sine wave, you have to pony up for it)

    I say, if you're spending $5,000 on your setup, spend $100-$200 on the power conditioner and the same on power cables.


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    #20
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    Can you hear a difference past decent audio cables? Does a power conditioner make an audible difference? (might help with life of gear: I use true sine wave UPS/conditioners for computers for that reason)

    How to know for sure- record A/B and do a spectral analysis. Can't measure a difference = save your money.

    Z Reviews records headphones & speakers. Can a recorded headphone sound amazing? (this is the prior low end Stax similar to what I'm using (learned about the 3D printed mod and ear pads here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_HwOOuIsWM )):



    + read the comments to see how others reacted!


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