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For months my current setup has been dead ... variety of reasons, primary was a loss of interest in "doing this stuff". Anyway, finally bit the bullet, fixed the actual fault that ceased operations - connection to a tweeter broke - and fired it up. As mentioned on the Music forum here, wasn't too bad on first listen; did a few rounds on albums until a key recording showed where I was at - this was https://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/melos_quartett/the_string_quartets__melos_quartet_/.


I've used this quite a bit over recent years - comments by other are "a harsh sound", and "let down by recording quality that is less than distinguished" ... this can sound very flat, the musicians just grinding away playing the notes; the sort of thing that puts people off classical music ... which is what I was getting right now ...


A very clear reason for this situation was that I had just plugged everything in, with no thoughts for minimising external interference effects - the careful configuration I had earlier for running it was now in disarray, and the loss in quality for not restoring such was obvious.


This means that work needs to be done to make the rig more robust in itself, rather than relying upon tweaking how the environment is organised to get the good results - this is the longer term process that is required, that I haven't tackled as yet for this combo ... as a short term workaround, get the two audio components, CD player and amp, running off one house circuit - ah, much better! The strings now have some lively tone, and the acoustic is beginning to come through ... BTW, I was reminded that the engineers didn't do their job so well on one day - on the outside of the hall, one can clearly hear a tram on a track crossing at one point - the clack as each set of wheels jumps the gaps.


OK, this is just to give an initial idea of how I go about doing things - everything's always a work in progress, and step by step I look at what is easy to do, that will likely have the greates effect, and then build from that.


Just now, getting a nice big acoustic from a DGG Verdi Opera Choruses CD - brass tone is very nice ....



We have a cheap, Aldi TV PVR here ... a 1TB drive being used inside. Unfortunately, the programming done to make it all work is dreadful, and it's extremely clumsy, and slow in operation. Over time more and more clips added, and it's been switched off at "the wrong time" so often that the poor thing is completely confused - the files are a mess, and the box finally became unusable to record, and play.


So, fixit time! Nothing inside just about; small power supply, drive, and circuit board the size of a smart phone - removed the HDD, plugged it into a general mounting kit with USB - and had a look. Files all still there, but huge amount of stuff that was supposedly deleted, but also still there - no wonder it was so slow ...


Now, the idea is to backup all the wanted clips, and clean up the drive - there's definitely disk errors, Windows and CHKDSK say so. Started copying the most important files, and problem one: the operation slows to a impossibly slow crawl depending on whether it's full moon or not, completely erratic in the speed. Googling, and this is Yet Another Windows Nightmare - this copying speed issue is driving people batty, and there are a 100 reasons, and possibly another 100 answers on how to "fix it". Part of it could be due to fragmenting - it uses the exFAT file system, which is not as robust as NTFS. Anyway, recovering all the important files will take weeks, with this speed issue.


Changing tack, will try to sort the file system errors - at first I wasn't sure whether CHKDSK was actually doing anything, there's zero progress indicators, and many operations freeze when trying to talk to the drive; I'm discovering all the recent disk utilities as I investigate things - and there's some good stuff out there. Finally convinced myself that CHKDSK was working, and now seeing if that program has enough grunt to work it out.




Completely unrelated to audio, was out and visited a local boutique chocolate emporium, in passing - "everything made in store" - and discovered Dark Chocolate Sorbet ... I'm hooked!! Amazing taste sensation, the ultimate chocolate hit for fanatics - it doesn't get better, I'd reckon: the intensity of the best chocolate, with the mouth feel of ice cream.


Now, to see if I can find a good recipe and do it myself ... :D


I was just reminded of a Gene Pitney Greatest Hits CD I have, which was purchased for almost nothing at a flea market - one of those 'no name' European efforts that, ummm, are really legit ... :P. And it's a shocker - from needle drops, and the gorilla who did it decided that it needed noise reduction to "improve it" - the latter was done in such a clumsy and obvious way that normally it renders many of the songs almost unlistenable - the massive level and noise pumping artifacts from the crudeness of this doctoring is something to behold!


So, what's the point here? Well, on midfi playback these severe anomalies are largely obscured because the replay will not have the resolution to show up what's happening; the recording sounds quite reasonable and can be enjoyed for what it was intended for: casual, background listening. But on an ambitious rig that's "highly detailed", these tracks are a nightmare! One grinds the teeth, being constantly aware of the damage wrought upon the original recording - which song it is barely breaks through into the consciousness, it's just "too much work" dealing with the distortion which is constantly drawing attention to itself.


OK, throw it into the bin then!! ... ... but, not so fast! Turns out that 'convincing' playback rescues the recording - gets it back into the zone that the midfi playback of the album delivered; meaning, you can hear that there are issues if you choose to focus on such, but the musical message comes through, loud and clear. How can this be? Well, think of the recording as having two 'spaces': that of the original recording, and that of the terrible, hamfisted mangling done in the "mastering" of this "copy" - it's as if one is listening to two recordings, overlaid upon each other.


If the system is less than convincing in quality then it is far, far easier to register the "mastering recording" in the listening, the "recording of the music" is largely lost, buried in the 'noise' of the other "recording". But when the quality of the playback is sufficient then the other 'acoustic' asserts itself, that of the original recording - you "hear" the song, and not what was done to damage the information of the track.


I have been fascinated by the variation in the subjective impact of these tracks - I asked the other person listening to a quality replay of one if the problems disturbed them, and they said, "What problems?" ...



Right, into the meat ...


First of all, there is a blog at http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com.au/, same name, which largely documents the optimising of my current audio project - and other random thoughts. That is intended to be developed over time, but for various reasons my activity there has lapsed - to be continued!


Here, in this blog, I will expound some more on my philosophy and viewpoints, to counterbalance what may be discussed in threads on this forum.


The Art of Audio Conjuring? Well, I could have called it the The Science of Audio Reality, but we are nowhere near fully understanding all the parameters that matter, so in the interim I'm going with the "wobbly" version name, :).


The word Audio is, well, not a problem ...


Conjuring? Well, everything I have done and considered in my thinking, to date, has made it clear that the illusion of a 'live' musical event is possible, and very much worthwhile. This "mirage" is "conjured" up using various techniques; the "reality", OTOH, is that two speakers, which is all I use, are projecting sound from their drivers into the room, left and right channels.


The Art aspect comes into it, because there is no straightforward formula, as yet, as to how to "conjure" - it's a process, a journey, a directed set of experiments and steps, aided greatly by intuition and experience to date. One of the most important elements of that is knowing what can be achieved, which means you're far less likely to make too many really wrong moves.

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