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  1. #1

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    Default How Different Music Tracks Affect The Listening Experience.....Mine Anyways

    I thought twice about posting this but I decided to do it in hopes others would share their opinions.

    My rig consists of SDA 2Bs TLd, a Marantz CD5000, Adcom GFA-545, and a Bottlehead Quickie tube amp. I am relatively new to the hobby, two years into it as a matter of fact. I have not had a great deal of exposure to other systems which is a thorn in my foot at this point. My rig sounds good at times, great at other times, and then not so good at others. Case in point. When listening to Steely Dan's Aja my gear sounds pretty good. I understand that this is one of the best recorded albums and I have always busted it out as I have completed a project in reference to my equipment. I have been doing some critical listening lately identifying my likes and dislikes. What I have found is that the vocals in the Aja album are raspy and frankly I cannot stand to listen to some of the songs anymore. And that stinks because the album is great in my opinion. I also notice that my right channel plays at a higher volume on this album that the left. Is it me? I wondered that so I get my daughter sitting at my listening point and start the album. I explain to her what to listen for, the raspy voice, but I do not mention the right channel. She listens to a whole song and says yeah, the voices are raspy. Then she also states that the right channel is of higher volume than the left. So now its not me.

    Now here is where it gets interesting. I play some lighter music, The Guitar Trio. I put some volume on it and it sounds wonderful. Musical. Detailed. Just right. So now I am wondering if my speakers are not responding well to some music that has more to offer in the midrange area. Aja is definitely more busy than The Guitar Trio and I start to wonder if I am limited somewhere else in my system in reference to tracks that are busier. Would that affect vocals? I listened to a spot in a track on Aja with my headphones and there was a amount of rasp to the vocals. And it sounds like my speakers are putting out what my cd player is giving them.

    So I am wondering if it is the experience of others that some albums sound head and shoulders above another even though that album is considered very well recorded? I have this experience with other albums and find myself listening to those albums that sound great instead of something I like better but sounds mediocre.
    SDA2BTL
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  2. #2

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    I can't say I've ever found the vocals on Aja to be raspy or the balance shifted right.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

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    Not sure whether it's the music track but it could be a problem with either your room or equipment. The balance shifting to the right can be caused by cancellation on one side of the room or just one tweeter being louder than the other. The raspiness of the voices might be a tip off that something isn't right.
    2Ch Tube Audio Convert

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    Good to know. I have always had a .33 ohm resistor in place of the polyswitch so I don't think that is it. And I would hear it on other tracks. Now I will say there is a brief moment on the Aja cd I have in a track where it sounds like something is wrong. A second of static for lack of a better word. Maybe I have a cd that was faulty. I will order another Aja cd and see if that is the case. I don't know the manufacturing process but I assume it is possible for a cd to be faulty.

    Ill check it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by F1nut View Post
    I can't say I've ever found the vocals on Aja to be raspy or the balance shifted right.
    SDA2BTL
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    Adcom GFA-545
    Bottlehead Quickie Tube Preamp

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    I listened to the Aja cd that I had ripped with JRiver on my work computer and it has the same qualities. Raspy voice. Static on the track I Got The News at one point. I think the cd was not mixed well or something went wrong in the manufacturing process. I don't know. Lesson learned don't lean one a particular album to critique your system based on its history of being well recorded. This one is file 13 and another in the mail to me. I am sure the next one will carry a better sound quality. Sure has cost me some time trying to determine the cause but helped me find some weak spots in my 2 channel system too. Should I be thankful for poor workmanship now!? ;-)
    SDA2BTL
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    Adcom GFA-545
    Bottlehead Quickie Tube Preamp

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    I take it you purchased the standard issue CD. I have a Japanese import, which sounds way better than the standard issue. I also have the SHM-SACD, which sound quality wise is even better. However, there is an issue with a lack of soundstage. Some think the polarity was reversed in the mastering. Whatever it is, it's a damn shame. I tend to listen to the Japanese CD because of that.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

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    Just listened to it on vinyl. Sounds awesome as usual. I did not notice any channel problems and Donald Fagen sounded like Donald Fagen..
    I got static in my head
    The reflected sound of everything

  8. #8

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    This thread inspired me to pick this up: Name:  $_57.JPG
Views: 120
Size:  144.8 KB
    Bedroom 2 channel: NAD C316BEE, Marantz cd6004, Polk Audio TSi100, Audioquest Bedrock & King Cobra
    HT: Onkyo HT-RC360, Athena Micra 6

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    F1Nut, maybe we have a moment of concurrence on a topic. I find that all the tracks I have that are SHM-CD based sound absolutely amazing. Comparing SACD to SHM-CD for Aja it seems like the Japanese SHM-CD version is a little bit bright, I'm not saying it's a bad thing just an observation, I'm starting to think that their mastering process tends to favor that type of brighter/crisper sound i.e. it's from deliberation in the mastering in Japan rather than a product of the format. What are your thoughts?

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    Found it.

    My Japanese CD of Aja is not a SHM-CD, so I can't comment on that one. As noted above, I also have the SHM-SACD.

    Most of the SHM-CD's I have are improvements over the standard Redbook issues, however like you note about the SHM-CD of Aja, some of them are excessively sharp/bright. Like you, I have come to the conclusion that at least some of the guys mastering the SHM-CD's like it sharp/bright, which I cannot tolerate. Therefore, before purchasing one I will seek out reviews and read between the lines. Still it's a crap shoot. For example, I just picked up two ZZ Top SHM-CD's, both got very good reviews. Tres Hombres is excellent, best I've heard. Rio Grande Mud is a bit too sharp/bright for my liking. Go figure.

    Back to Aja. It's my understanding that the same master was used for the SHM-SACD and SHM-CD. The SHM-SACD is not bright, so why is the SHM-CD? Things that make you go, hmmmmm?
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

  11. #11

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    Thanks Jesse. When I get an SHM-CD on a speaker that produces delicate highs like an RSII or Dahlquist then it accentuates and makes it sound better. If it's a brighter speaker then it makes it intolerable so I'm kind of torn.

    Do you think that there were changes made to the master as part of putting it on the SHM-CD format? I have Tres Hombres laying around somewhere but not Rio Grande Mud. I'll see if I can circle around and get some cycles today and give Tres Hombres a listen.

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    Do you think that there were changes made to the master as part of putting it on the SHM-CD format?
    It would seem in the case of Aja that even though the same master was used, someone either screwed around with it for the SHM-CD or there's something about DSD that made the high frequencies of the SHM-SACD sound good.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

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