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  1. #1

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    Default A paradigm shift....

    Have you ever had an experience where what you though what was a 'standard' or 'reference' has just been completely negated?

    Well, that's what happened to David and I last night. While browsing through LP's at a shop downtown a couple weeks ago, I met Leonard Gibbs, recording engineer for, primarily, the Charleston Symphony. Very nice gentleman in an odd sort of way. Anyhow, we chatted a bit about music and audio and he promised me a copy of some music that he recorded and an invite to hear his system and room which had been featured in Stereo Review some years ago. His premise was that all commercially recorded music was crap, regardless of label, pressing etc etc etc.

    Fast forward to yesterday, David and I went to Leonards home in an older neighborhood in Charleston. From the outside, I was wondering where this huge listening room exactly was as it is, from appearances, a small house. Anyhow, got inside and led down the hall to a foyer literally CRAMMED with RTR , mixing and recording gear that opened up into a 20x30 (roughly) full-on acoustically treated, dedicated listening room. Accross the front were 3 Dahlquist DQ-20's, each sitting on a DQ-1W woofer. Backend was vintage Perreaux gear. Anyhow, we chatted about the room, music etc for a while and then we got down to business.

    Now, my version of hifi, is fidelity to what is recorded as opposed to what the performance sounded like live. In my opinion, this makes sense because, well, most of the stuff, I've never heard live and I sure as hell didn't hear the recording live that I'm listening to. Leonard's perspective is different and much more ambitious. He, unlike most of us, has a wealth of live recording and his setup is geared to recreate the live performance. Doing this he explained is impossible with a standard 2 channel setup. He employs an identical (his speakers were hand tweaked by none other than Carl Maschitto (SP) the designer of the DQ-20, primarily to ensure identical tweeters) center speaker set at -2db playing mono to anchor the image. Anyhow, we ran through a number of live recordings done with just 2 microphones and, honestly, I've NEVER heard anything so seamless, transparent and lifelike in my life. All from standard 16bit 44.1 CD's (albeit transferred direct from the master tapes) My whole frame of reference has been altered. Then for fun, he put in the SACD version of Also Sprach Zarathustra by Reiner and the Chicago Symphony. A reference for me interms of range and dynamics. Hell, we might has well have been listening to Camptown races through a plastic Fisher Price record player. Oh, and for a source? His reference player took a dump so we were listening through a modded 39 dollard Toshiba DVD player, that wasn't the 3950/3960. Ultimately, Leonard has very good, but hardly esoteric, gear. However, the setup is second to NONE.

    The big takeaway from this for me, is, that in most cases, what we are listening to is substandard due, mainly to processing and compression. THAT is the real limiting factor in our rigs. We are spending all this money on gear to extract more and more information off discs that largely, just aint' there. How you like THEM apples?

    Anyhow, thought I'd share. Leonard is a GREAT guy and I look forward to picking his brain for a long time to come. He will be in attendance at Polkfest '06 with some of his recordings. Also MAY be able to work in some demo's of his rig (this is TBD as logistics and so forth would have to be worked out)

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  2. #2

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    Damn, damn, damn. Excellent write-up. Among the best I've read on this forum.

    I'm amazed at his use of the $39 DVD player. I went to a "high end" audio store and they were using Rat Shack DVD players on their reference systems. It pissed me off so next time I took my CD player and hooked it up. Night and day difference -- mine sounded much better. Just wondering what that guy's system would have sounded like with a higher quality source. But hell, he's the expert, so maybe I'm missing sumthin'.
    Last edited by Early B.; 04-10-2006 at 10:12 AM.

  3. #3

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    Well, his premise is that it's the material that makes the biggest difference. Obviously, a 'better' player would result in better sound but the point is that an excellent recording on properly set up gear will sound good. Honestly, after last night, I'd be hard pressed to disagree.

    Now, there are a couple of caveats to that, one is that your speakers and amplification have to be up to the job. His room and system was designed to the minutest detail for a very specific purpose. The room has a LOT to do with it. Probably more than the gear.

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  4. #4

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    Also, this was not an off the shelf DVD player, it's got some extensive modifications and has hard-wired interconnects....if I didn't mention that, but, yes, I do plan to plug my Jolida into his rig for ****s and giggles.

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  5. #5

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    Hard-wired interconnects? Man, this dude is hard core. Gotta love that!

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by TroyD
    The big takeaway from this for me, is, that in most cases, what we are listening to is substandard due, mainly to processing and compression. THAT is the real limiting factor in our rigs. We are spending all this money on gear to extract more and more information off discs that largely, just aint' there. How you like THEM apples?
    At some point perhaps we ought to focus more effort on acquiring better recordings, not more gear. I'm off to do some research...

  7. #7

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    I've read of people (most of whom have connections) collecting their own recordings from live performances. That is their thing. I recorded a live band one time in a basement. Actually we did about 5 takes. It takes some skill and equipment. All though it turned out ok there were leaps and bounds which could be made.
    madmax
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    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D

  8. #8

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    Leonard's contention is, and it's hard to argue, that most commercial recordings simply by virtue of so many microphones, can't be realistic. They can sound good, but aren't going to be realistic.

    Chuck, got to remember this guy has been making recordings for 30 years and has the gear to do so properly in a proper venue.

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

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    I like how you brought up that we spend so much on gear in an effort to extract every minutia of information yet we try to extract data that isnt there to begin with.
    Joey's College Gear:
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  10. #10

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    Most of the mass produced cds that we listen to were mastered for playback in cars and portable players. Why would we think they would sound good on audiophile equipment? Compression is the order of the day to make it listenable in a high noise environment.

    Telarc, Mapleshade, Chesky, Stockfisch are a few that make at least an attempt to create hi fidelity, but the music choices are less than stellar.

  11. #11

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    Agreed but, for example, the Reiner performance of Also Sprach Zarathustra is not really the standard commercial dreck. In his system, it wasn't unlistenable but it fell FAR short of anything else we listened to.

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Gardner
    Telarc, Mapleshade, Chesky, Stockfisch are a few that make at least an attempt to create hi fidelity, but the music choices are less than stellar.
    Agreed.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by TroyD
    Chuck, got to remember this guy has been making recordings for 30 years and has the gear to do so properly in a proper venue.

    BDT
    Yea, that was my point.

    So, now that we know, how do we find these people and get them to make copies for us? :)

    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D

  14. #14

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    Default

    here here
    I smell ass, burning ass, glowing cherry red spanked ass.

    RT1

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by TroyD
    We are spending all this money on gear to extract more and more information off discs that largely, just aint' there. How you like THEM apples?
    Yep, same applies to HT also. DD & DTS are slivers of the master audio track.

  16. #16

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    Well, the problem is that the material is, by and large, property of the Charleston Symphony therefore copying it for any sort of distribution is prohibited by law.

    Sorry guys.

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  17. #17

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    I suppose we just have to make do with what we got.
    Joey's College Gear:
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    RUSH Med School 2008!!:D

  18. #18

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    It sure would be cool to have a sample. Surely a sample would be ok...
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D

  19. #19
    Stronzo
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    There are tons of great recordings out there that will make a HTIB sound damned impressive.

    I like this guys un-orthodox approach. Thats usually the way to the best results...

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zero
    There are tons of great recordings out there that will make a HTIB sound damned impressive.
    That's pretty much Leonard's point, the recorded material in his opinion should not "make" the equipment sound better (Coloration which we normally associate with the components in line not the recorded event). The material ,as well as the recording process, is of a caliber that without compression or other processes it translates as close to the original "live" sound. As an example most avid "listeners"(audiophiles if you will) would not think of running bass boost(loudness) on a given recording it's an enhancement ,good or bad sounding, that takes you further from the original sound as intended. Compression will increase the perception of volume of softer passages but at the expense of dynamic range for the piece as a whole.(FM radio is the prime example) What Mr.Gibbs has accomplished is to capture the "live" experience with all the dimensionality and natural dynamic range that is at the performance.
    Last edited by DAGLJAM6; 04-10-2006 at 09:15 PM.

  21. #21
    Stronzo
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    David,

    I understood his point... just re-itterating is all. I think its pretty cool what he has going on.....and this is just from *reading* about it.

  22. #22
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    Fine write up, Mr. D. And happy to read that Mr. Gibbs is going to attend the fest.

    ... but now I'm trying to figure out how a dual mic recording requires 3-ch playback for realism...

    EDIT: Just remembered that when I auditioned the Vandy 5A's, the set up included a Vandy center channel (VCC-5, I think) that was definitely doing some anchoring.
    Last edited by Tour2ma; 04-11-2006 at 06:03 AM.
    More later,
    Tour...
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  23. #23

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    It's not a third channel per se. It plays in mono (L+R)....set -2db. It's absolutely seamless.

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  24. #24
    Old School
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    It was the same in the Vandy set up, i.e., center was L+R.

    "Channel" was not the best choice, but at 04:53...

    And on the whole compression thing... remind me to bring/ send you a dbx expander to play with. I think you'd love what it can do for your vinyl...
    More later,
    Tour...
    Vox Copuli
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. - Old English Proverb

    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
    "There is a certain entertainment value in ripping the occaisonal (sic) buttmunch..." - TroyD
    "Death doesn't come with a Uhaul." - Dennis Gardner

    Rebuilding Maggie 2-ch & Amazing 2-ch... Building 2-ch "wall"... Figuring out the HT

  25. #25

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    You'd LOVE to talk w/ Leonard, he was good friends with David Blackmer who founded dbx and later Earthworks (he uses thier microphones)....

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  26. #26

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    Very cool story, Troy. Thanks for sharing. Didn't you own DQ's before?
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  27. #27

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    I owned the DQ-10's which I believe doro still has.

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  28. #28

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    Red face

    Quote Originally Posted by TroyD
    Anyhow, we ran through a number of live recordings done with just 2 microphones and, honestly, I've NEVER heard anything so seamless, transparent and lifelike in my life. All from standard 16bit 44.1 CD's (albeit transferred direct from the master tapes) My whole frame of reference has been altered. Then for fun, he put in the SACD version of Also Sprach Zarathustra by Reiner and the Chicago Symphony. A reference for me interms of range and dynamics. Hell, we might has well have been listening to Camptown races through a plastic Fisher Price record player. Oh, and for a source? His reference player took a dump so we were listening through a modded 39 dollard Toshiba DVD player, that wasn't the 3950/3960.

    The big takeaway from this for me, is, that in most cases, what we are listening to is substandard due, mainly to processing and compression. THAT is the real limiting factor in our rigs. We are spending all this money on gear to extract more and more information off discs that largely, just aint' there. How you like THEM apples?
    I would be remiss if I did not mention that we have heard a quote similar to this recently and the member who made it was smacked repeatedly for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by John K.
    What does matter and deserves our special attention(and money)in audio is the source material(e.g. CDs and DVDs, not the devices to play them), the speakers and the listening room. It isn't realistic to assume that any of these three factors are the same for different source materials, speakers and locations, but if it was arranged to have exactly the same source material playing through exactly the same speakers in exactly the same room setup, then by definition there'd be no difference in sound. There can be no effect without a cause.
    While I do still feel his knowledge is incorrect in that there is no real differences in source, amps, pre/pro's and wire. His basic logic of what should you change to have the largest impact on your system may in fact be correct. (or at least worth more consideration that I had at first given it)

    I guess I am willing to admit that his opinion, as incorrect as I find it, does have as much merit as mine.. :o

    Not trying to bring up another wire debate - just trying to let others in on thinking in a new paradigm.....

    Michael
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  29. #29
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    If Troy and John K are gonna start agreeing, the end of time must be upon us...

    Troy,
    Agree... that's a conversation I would enjoy. I did some reading on Blackmer and dbx a while back. Interesting guy...
    More later,
    Tour...
    Vox Copuli
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. - Old English Proverb

    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
    "There is a certain entertainment value in ripping the occaisonal (sic) buttmunch..." - TroyD
    "Death doesn't come with a Uhaul." - Dennis Gardner

    Rebuilding Maggie 2-ch & Amazing 2-ch... Building 2-ch "wall"... Figuring out the HT

  30. #30

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    Did Leonard show up at Polkfest 06? That is if anybody recalls considering how late my response is?

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