Author Topic: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System  (Read 6724 times)

DaveC

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A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« on: March 07, 2014, 04:43:54 PM »
Most components, including cables, have a sonic signature. It seems like this signature is basically some amount of inaccuracy that colors the music in some way. We combine components in a way these inaccuracies balance out as much as possible, or to achieve our own personal preference in sound reproduction.

In my little biz I have 2 IC cables that I have sold quite a few of so far. Both sound great but one is not very accurate and the other is as perfectly neutral and realistic sounding as I have ever experienced.

The less accurate cable has a much wider distribution of reactions, from unbelievably good to horrible. I try to sell the right cable to the right people, so the outliers are much more often good, but there have been a several absolutely poor reviews, and there is much less middle ground.

The more accurate cable, which is also an objectively very high performer, has a MUCH narrower distribution of reactions. So far it is universally praised which has taken me by complete surprise. I did not think this was possible, and while I'm sure there may be some that it doesn't work for, I haven't found one yet.  8)

So, I am starting to think "synergy" is something that applies much more to less accurate components, and a perfectly neutral component (theoretical, of course) should synergize perfectly with any system it is used in and synergy just isn't an issue AT ALL anymore. I know, heretical...  :rofl:

What do you think?

Offline bhobba

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Re: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2014, 05:30:40 PM »
Hi Dave

Accuracy is a very nebulous thing.

Check out the Bob Carver challenge:
http://www.stereophile.com/content/carver-challenge

What that showed is measurements do tell the whole story - BUT (there always has to be a kicker) there was huge number of parameters he had to tweak to accomplish his feat of getting two amps to sound the same.

The issue then is, with the huge number of things that affect what we hear, is exactly what is their order and priority in figuring out what is more accurate?  That is a very subjective thing, and why even for a total objectivist it is highly subjective.

Here is a real world example.  I am currently mucking around with a very interesting DAC right now called the Killer.  It most definitely comes down on the musical side of the analytical vs musicality thing.  You may be inclined to think, while sounding glorious, it not as accurate as other DAC's.  But measurements have been taken and indeed in some areas like the distortion of its valve output stage other stuff is better, but in others like jitter it is actually quite spectacular.  Which is the better measurement to have?  Well on the basis of this give me jitter any-time - but others who like the analytical thing quite likely would not agree.

Interesting isn't it?

Thanks
Bill

DaveC

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Re: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2014, 07:58:47 PM »
Hi Bill,

I agree, the definition of accurate and interpretation of measurements is going to cause some issues.

For me, it is definitely a subjective interpretation based only on experience listening to lots of parts changes and how they affect the sound.

For example, you can get a feel for how certain materials or cable geometries have an effect on the sound and with experience identify strengths and weaknesses. So I look for an absence of weaknesses, and an overall realistic sound.

The more colored cable I am talking about has certain weaknesses, but overall is a very sweet sounding cable. The coloration can have a negative synergy with some systems that are already off balance in the same direction the cable is off, the coloration adds like 2 waves coming together with constructive interference and it doesn't sound right. On the other end, if you use the exact same cable on a system that is off balance to the opposite end, then you get destructive interference and the result is a better balanced system and these people think the cable is the greatest thing ever. And I have seen both results with the same cable many times.

My system is well balanced. I have had the same system for years and have custom built the amp and preamp for the speakers and selected every part used from the DAC's PCB to the drivers input tabs. It's not a cost-no-object system but most of the parts are one step down from that. In my system I can appreciate the pleasant coloration of the cable, but compared directly to the accurate cable, it sounds less accurate and not as good.

So where does the colored cable fit in? Basically only when the customer has a system that is off balance in the right way for the cable to help with the overall system balance.

And there is a price to pay for inaccurate components, you lose resolution. I think only an accurate component is capable of delivering all the detail possible.

In comparison, the accurate cable does not seem to have synergy issues at all, and it has better clarity, detail and tone. It has been very interesting...

IDK... maybe the whole synergy thing is just a necessary evil because components are not accurate?  :twisted:

Offline _Scotty_

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Re: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2014, 09:43:24 PM »
I am not sure if the premise holds true in every case. If a system has some kind of deviation from neutral a neutral component may not make it any worse and it should fit into system.
 As far as cables go,even a perfect cable will not work in all systems. Three out of five times it will work but sure as heck the other times someone will complain about too much bass  and the other guy will complain about the highs being too prominent.
The systems the cable goes into aren't neutral or perfect so the cable is going to tell the truth and the owner of the system can't handle the truth.
 Playing back music files from computer, using one of HALs MS-2 PC Music Servers running Win8, has opened up another can of worms.
 I have five different players on the desktop utilizing WASAPI direct:XBMC, PlayPCMWin, uLilith, foobar and JRiver 19. All of the players are supposed to be bit perfect and all of them sound different from one another. Foobar and JRiver sound very similar to one another, XBMC and uLilith sound very similar. PlayPCMWin is an outlier and sounds different from all of the rest.
 My DAC can sound like five different dacs depending on which player I use. XBMC is the one I use most often as is the one gives me the most listening pleasure over the longest period of time. I also make a concession to convenience. For me uLilith sounds slightly better than XBMC but is a little more cumbersome to use.
 If all of the players are bit perfect than correct playback of a wav file comes down to choosing the sound of the player you like.
 The sonic differences between the players are large enough that one could be choosing cables or other equipment attempting to change the sound of the system when they might be better served by changing the player they use.
 At this point I couldn't tell you if any of the players are "neutral" from a sonic standpoint and at this time I don't really care. You might say the XBMC and uLilith players have the best synergy with my system. I saved MQn player for last as it is a total pain in the ass to use, even though it doesn't sound to far away from XBMC and uLilith. It will only play one song at a time and there are at least 15 different versions of the player, all of which sound slightly different from one another. Yeesh
Accuracy, what's that?
Scotty

AcidJazz

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Re: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2014, 10:00:33 PM »
Quote
Accuracy, what's that?

Yeap.
Same as for 'neutral', one man's neutral is another's  ???
We all like to think ours is the Best.

DaveC

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Re: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2014, 10:44:42 PM »
Good post Scotty, sounds like you have a case of too many choices  :-P

I guess it will take some to to find what you like...

But I think the idea of accuracy can have some objective criteria, such as low distortion, etc. and the closer we can come to using components that are accurate the better off we will be and the less synergy will matter. Of course this is a hypothetical situation involving a system with all "neutral" components so it's not that realistic.

I do think my observations regarding peoples reviews of a colored vs a more neutral cable are interesting though. It's not a subtle difference between them... and as far as a business, definitely less returns on a neutral vs a colored cable, even if the coloration is DaVinci quality.  :)

AcidJazz, that is a very good point in that we are all biased to our own systems and it's type of sound, so that would be neutral to us. I suppose it's impossible to eliminate that kind of bias but at least we are aware of it and exposure to other systems via meetups, friends, audio shows, etc can help broaden our perspective. Testing components in different systems is also very helpful. Over time I have come to appreciate good sound no matter the source and I think implementation is more important than topology. I have a Hi-Eff/SET system but my favorite system ever is a conventional multi-way low-eff system.

But it is true a lot of people do not have a broader perspective and don't really understand how their system sounds and what they really want. Lucky for them return policies exist, we all have to learn somehow...  :lol:




Offline _Scotty_

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Re: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2014, 04:29:35 PM »
Having multiple players available is useful in a couple of ways. The greater the difference that is heard between the players the greater the likelihood is that the system is low in coloration and high in transparency. The less obvious the sonic differences are between the players the greater the probably is that there are significant levels of masking or coloration present.
 If a component or cable is inserted into the system that reduces the magnitude of the differences between the players
then you immediately know that the DUT is less transparent than what it replaced.
 As I previously mentioned the different sonic qualities of the players allow fine tuning of a system without the further expenditure of $$$$. All you have to do is take the time to download the programs and set them up on your computer.
Scotty
 

Offline richidoo

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Re: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2014, 11:59:42 AM »
Synergy and euphonic band aids are two sides of same coin right? All components have some euphonic signature so there need be synergy between their colors, but the degree of coloring is a different question. Some genres of music require more disguise, while other 'philes will ignore faults to get last drop. Less to with equipment than with your avg recording quality and lust for detail. Add color in many different ways as needed.

DaveC

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Re: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2014, 08:59:11 AM »
Scotty, free is great and computer audio does give us some free or inexpensive stuff to play with.

Rich,  I would say synergy is combining colorations (band aids?) in a pleasing manner. I'm not sure I agree adding coloration is a good thing but it might be depending on the system. I find the most satisfaction from removing coloration, but I may just be tilting the presentation to my preferences although I try to maintain some objective standards.

In that line of thought I have had a couple returns on my speaker cables from people who think my cables are more accurate but another cable sounded better. I can understand it, in all cases these were compared to very thick regular copper cables which are  smooth and warm sounding.

This doesn't fit my personal goals and why I am into audio (I am a perfectionist), but I have to accept that some people don't care about accuracy and just want it to sound good.

In this case is a truly neutral component even welcome? 




Offline rollo

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Re: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2014, 08:39:42 AM »
  Accuracy to what ? How does one know how accurate a cable is ? We were not at the recording venue to really know.
    I hear neutral all the time. Let's define neutral. Neutral means linear. Nothing stands out. Bass does not sound more profound than the rest of the spectrum and visa versa.
    Live music has color. The room, hall, etc plays a role in that. Third order harmonics from the room or other instruments add color.
    One size does not and will not fit all. We can measure all day long designing however the end result is what we hear. Meaning the entire IC assembly.
   Synergy is how the LCR of said cable affects the components connected to it. Impedance matching as well plays an important role. A key role.
    It is NOT the wire, connector or bonding technique. It is all of the above that matters. Again the complete design.
    Then there is personal preference. Some like a dark sound others a bright sound. Some like big bass. Some like detailed treble. Oye the list goes on.
   Try as many as you can and find the right fit for YOU. Cable guys come and go. Hot today gone tamale. Fair pricing. less hype and solid performance is all one needs.


charles
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Offline Nick B

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Re: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2014, 10:12:38 AM »
To me, accuracy/neutrality is one's perception of what the original recording sounded like. I will never be able to attend a live recording session and then listen to that being played thru various system configurations in one's home or a showroom. I am trying to achieve this accuracy/ neutrality utopian ideal so that I can keep this "mixing and matching" of components, cables etc to a minimum. Yes, that's a pipe dream, but I'd like to keep the process as simple as possible if possible. Right now, I don't have the means or the money to do otherwise. That's why this is a great site...because people who's ears I now trust have been able to do some of this extensive listening and testing for me.
I'm fortunate to have some very good components right now and adding something like Dave's cables in the future will really add to that further. 
ICEpower 1200as2 amp
Audio Hungary APR 204 preamp
Fritz Carrera 7 BE speakers
Border Patrol SE dac
Auralic Aries Mini & Mojo Audio lps
Roon, Tidal & Qobuz
Don Sachs phono
Basis Ovation turntable
Graham 1.5 T tonearm
AT-ML150 cartridge
PI Audio UberBUSS

Offline rollo

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Re: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2014, 09:19:28 AM »
   Accuracy is accuracy to tonality and harmonics not the recording session. Neutrality means a linear presentation.
   The definitions vary since a definition has not been clearly defined. We need a definition of terms so we talk the same talk.
    Having an expensive system does not guarantee great sound. I have heard numerous systems costing little that present proper tone and harmonics. The combination of components is the key.
     By now we all know that clean power is a given. Room size and acoustics matter. Then there are classic matches with components.
     Cables for the most part are filters or tone controls. They can make or break a systems performance.
    I look at cables as an entire assembly not the parts used. It is the sum of the parts that make it sound the way it does. I look for a low capacitance design for starters and just listen to as many as I can to find the right fit.
   

charles
     
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DaveC

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Re: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2014, 10:12:54 AM »
Earlier I also defined accuracy as an absence of obvious problems... while tonal and harmonic accuracy can only be determined by comparisons with what you hear in real life, problems are problems, and learning to identify and eliminate them is important if you want to avoid listening fatigue and hear all the detail in your music.

Charles, what you say about taking the component as a whole rather than looking at it's parts is very important too.... all parts will have a certain flavor and learning to combine them into a good recipe takes practice. This is also the case with components as well as cables.... I have tried many different parts in my preamp/amp searching for the perfect blend.

And finally we combine these components into a whole, a system, that hopefully is balanced. If the components that make up the system are perfectly designed and perfectly neutral (theoretically), then we would not need to worry about synergy when putting a system together.

I am putting it out there that this is the main definition of a "good" component... one that is closest to neutral and perfectly accurate. Not something that sounds "good" to someone's personal preference. Otherwise we are not into "hi fi" anymore.

Which is why in my last post I asked if you are going to try to add "color" then is a truly neutral component welcome? I guess it depends on whether you want the music to sound like you envision or whether you want high fidelity....


Offline _Scotty_

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Re: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2014, 03:03:45 PM »
Dave, what equipment and speakers are in use in your system, not including your cables of course? :D
If you posted to the equipment thread years ago,I don't remember what components you might have listed.
Scotty

DaveC

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Re: A Truly Neutral Component Will Have Synergy With ANY System
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2014, 12:40:19 AM »
Bose wave radio...  8)


Source is PC/Foobar > Schiit Bifrost Uber.

Preamp is a DIY Aikido w ~$1500 in parts not including tubes... this is a really nice preamp  built on the glassware Octal PCB running 6SN7s.

Amp is a SET buffer, the Aikido drives EL34s directly with no input stage, no coupling caps, just a grid blocker and bleed resistor... the gain is actually slightly negative which is why I call it a buffer. James OPTS and all Clarity TC film cap power supply.

Omega Super 3 XRS w/ custom solid maple stands. 10" Adire Audio XBL^2 sub in sealed cab... prototype I bought from factory with fairly little info, it's pretty awesome for a 10"sub.

All jacks/binding posts are gold plated copper and Neotech UPOCC copper litz or Duelund silver internal wiring...

I just got parts for the Pi speakers 4Pi kit with the JBL 2226 15" woofers and horn tweets. I'm going to build a bass cab with interchangeable tweeters. My listening space is a little small for a 15" bass bin but well, I want them...  :)

I'm going to build a xover for the Omega 4.5"  full range driver / JBL woofer as the Omega driver is a better tweeter than almost every tweeter on the market, and probably better than anything even near it's price... I think Louis is charging under $200 for a pair of 4.5" drivers, and they are really amazing.

Next upgrade is a new DAC, maybe an Auralic Vega...

It's turned out to be a very good system for testing cables as well as parts like resistors, capacitors, etc. as it is very, very simple with minimal parts between the DAC and the speaker driver. But it does need a 15" woofer for high volume operation. The system is poor at recreating rock concerts as-is. Peaks are around 105 dB at listening position with the sub. 120+ would be nice...  :twisted: