System Videos and the References Used to Judge their Quality.

Al M.

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The main problem with videos seems to be what different people are trying to convey and what different people are trying to get out of it.

The listeners are on a gamut from I think this one video qualifies as an entire system audition, to those who try to get characteristics of system and component over time through compares. This is no different from how different people treat hifi shows. It's also no different to someone looking to buy a piece of gear who will do so at the slightest positive written comments while others will do a more deep dive

The system owners have a varying range of sensitivity which is reflected into the videos. For the posters please think if your video is representative of what you heard before posting. Some are, and some aren't. I am sure by now many who haven't posted must have heard their own videos played back

Yes, I don't find videos entirely useless, but it is important to manage expectations when listening to them.

The best use I think is direct comparisons of components, with all else being the same, including recording equipment and position. Then you can listen for differences in tonal balance, for example. Tonearm/cartridge videos can be quite instructive in that respect. Just don't expect to hear the absolute performance, only relative differences.

Videos can also be useful in shattering preconceptions.

For example several people found Peter's system videos useful and enjoyable as they, correctly, suggested that you can get a warm, natural sound from Magico speakers rather than the stereotypical 'clinical' sound. I knew that already, but the fact that I could hear that basic characteristic in Peter's choral videos was a main reason why I encouraged him to publish them (not that he needed my input). His videos of Carla White and Scheherazade I think deepened that notion of a natural, even full bodied sound being possible, even though the absolute sound quality is much better hearing it in person.

Or you can hear, which I personally find useful, that horn speakers can have a quite 'normal' timbre, without the infamous stereotypical horn colorations, at least not in an entirely obvious way which would come through in any decent video. You can also hear good basic resolution on violin sound, for example. I really enjoy those experiences. Do I draw absolute conclusions from such videos about the actual timbre from such systems? Of course not. I still hear flaws, but these could very well be the recording. The main point for me is hearing a more or less normal sound from a variety of horn speakers, which in itself is quite revealing.

On the other hand, I have never heard dynamics from those horn system videos that exceed the dynamics of my system heard in person, and often the dynamics are less. So in that sense I have not heard yet the reason for being of such horn systems. But do I draw absolute conclusions? Of course not. I might still be blown away by the dynamics of some horn systems hearing them in person, who knows? (Even though my own standards for dynamics and liveliness are *very* high.)

So it is important not to get carried away into absolute conclusions from videos, while on the other hand appreciating the usefulness of hearing some sound characteristics from such videos, which otherwise would remain unknown without any video evidence to those who have not heard the system in person.

Of course, hearing a system in person beats any video, but given the above, it seems to me videos do have some limited usefulness which can be quite enjoyable.
 

User211

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Jul 28, 2014
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These guys have built a business around selling kit, mainly refurbished JBLs, via internet videos.

Have a look at their channel it is insane.


They do use good kit to record stuff with if the reflections I see in some speakers is anything to go by.

Just listened to the above using my reference Bluetooth speaker. It's frequency response is no doubt a joke and it is severely bandwidth limited as well as being mono.

This tells me I can hear a lot of room acoustics and cabinet colourations. Plus a harsh mid range.

But is any of that really true? I have noticed that microphones appear to pick up on room issues far more than the human ear seems to in room. And this is obviously detrimental. There's a whole industry feeding studios with sound damping kit for this exact reason.

In practice it can be very hard NOT to be influenced by these videos and have a belief that you can somehow hear through the limitations.

It has to be said of course that there is some truth in what any mic pics up. But the degree of truth varies a lot.

I've posted so many compromised show videos and videos of my own kit to have a good feel for this subject.

I remember doing some recordings of the Martin Logan CLX when it first came out London. I used the Rowland. They sounded pretty vague and dreadful. The speaker sounded OK at the show, if lacking bass extension and dynamics playing ZZ Top's La Grange. And very good on some other material. That one really stands out in the memory as to how misrepresentative even using a good quality recorder can be.

IMG_20200826_104131.jpg
 

User211

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Jul 28, 2014
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You may wonder why I do it.

Well, it's hi-fi init. Or not in the case of phone videos in particular.
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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North Shore of Boston
Yes, I don't find videos entirely useless, but it is important to manage expectations when listening to them.

The best use I think is direct comparisons of components, with all else being the same, including recording equipment and position. Then you can listen for differences in tonal balance, for example. Tonearm/cartridge videos can be quite instructive in that respect. Just don't expect to hear the absolute performance, only relative differences.

Videos can also be useful in shattering preconceptions.

For example several people found Peter's system videos useful and enjoyable as they, correctly, suggested that you can get a warm, natural sound from Magico speakers rather than the stereotypical 'clinical' sound. I knew that already, but the fact that I could hear that basic characteristic in Peter's choral videos was a main reason why I encouraged him to publish them (not that he needed my input). His videos of Carla White and Scheherazade I think deepened that notion of a natural, even full bodied sound being possible, even though the absolute sound quality is much better hearing it in person.

Or you can hear, which I personally find useful, that horn speakers can have a quite 'normal' timbre, without the infamous stereotypical horn colorations, at least not in an entirely obvious way which would come through in any decent video. You can also hear good basic resolution on violin sound, for example. I really enjoy those experiences. Do I draw absolute conclusions from such videos about the actual timbre from such systems? Of course not. I still hear flaws, but these could very well be the recording. The main point for me is hearing a more or less normal sound from a variety of horn speakers, which in itself is quite revealing.

On the other hand, I have never heard dynamics from those horn system videos that exceed the dynamics of my system heard in person, and often the dynamics are less. So in that sense I have not heard yet the reason for being of such horn systems. But do I draw absolute conclusions? Of course not. I might still be blown away by the dynamics of some horn systems hearing them in person, who knows? (Even though my own standards for dynamics and liveliness are *very* high.)

So it is important not to get carried away into absolute conclusions from videos, while on the other hand appreciating the usefulness of hearing some sound characteristics from such videos, which otherwise would remain unknown without any video evidence to those who have not heard the system in person.

Of course, hearing a system in person beats any video, but given the above, it seems to me videos do have some limited usefulness which can be quite enjoyable.

Nice post, Al. Given what you just wrote, it seems to me that videos do have MORE than some limited usefulness which can be quite enjoyable. Surely you make no absolute conclusions, and people are not expecting you to. But, as you write, I too am quite surprised by some of the comments people made regarding the conclusions they reached about hearing Magico speakers in my few posted videos.

The question I tried to raise in this thread which does not seem to be discussed much so far is the value of listening to something like the sound of a solo violin through a video of one's system versus the sound of a solo violin on a live video recording. My point being that they are both videos made with a microphone. As far as judging the sound of a cartridge on a particular arm versus another such comparison, I myself might find it helpful to compare both to the recording I posted in the OP to see if one combination or the other sounds more like what I hear in this live recording used as a reference. To my ears, it sounds considerably more like a violin in a real space than to either of my own recordings of a solo violin.

It is easy to go back and forth quickly, and that suggests some utility to me. It seems others disagree, some strongly. I am not arguing that any video is a substitute for actually listening to the system in the room, or even better, listening to the violin live on stage.
 

ack

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May 6, 2010
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They all sound like hand-held transistor radios from the 70s
 
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HughP3

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I tried recording my system but Ipad sounds nothing like what I had just heard. I tried to compare to other recordings and I would say mine Sounds like it out of a phone booth. I guess if not done with real recording efforts it’s kinda a waste
 
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Al M.

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I tried recording my system but Ipad sounds nothing like what I had just heard. I guess if not done with real recording efforts it’s misleading.

That's why I'll never post a video of my system: it will never capture how good it really sounds.
 
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PeterA

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That's why I'll never post a video of my system: it will never capture how good it really sounds.

I would have thought the same about MikeL. And then, this morning he posted a video. No way it sounds like what he hears directly, but it sounds quite nice and was fun to watch. We are all free to decide whether or not to do it. I'm sure we all respect your decision not to.

It would have been interesting to listen to the different subwoofer positions though, and to listen for sub/monitor integration. That kind of stuff probably does come through on a system video. One can clearly hear the differences between cartridges for instance, which may be less dramatic than subwoofer position/integration.
 
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andromedaaudio

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I have recorded in the past some vids with my sony A7 camera with inbuilt mic .
I find the recordings with the standard samsung A70 phone much better sounding .
It also doesnt capture everything off course , but it gives an impression.
 

Al M.

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I would have thought the same about MikeL. And then, this morning he posted a video. No way it sounds like what he hears directly, but it sounds quite nice and was fun to watch.

That video further deterred me from posting a video myself. I can impossibly imagine that its sound does MikeL's system any justice.

It would have been interesting to listen to the different subwoofer positions though, and to listen for sub/monitor integration. That kind of stuff probably does come through on a system video. One can clearly hear the differences between cartridges for instance, which may be less dramatic than subwoofer position/integration.

You don't hear bass on a video.
 
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bonzo75

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I have recorded in the past some vids with my sony A7 camera with inbuilt mic .
I find the recordings with the standard samsung A70 phone much better sounding .
It also doesnt capture everything off course , but it gives an impression.

I don't know the Sony A7 particularly but I don't get much out of professionally done videos which sound great like Spotify, but don't really give in room ambience like mobiles do. You then feel like the music has been overlaid on the video
 
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andromedaaudio

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I dont think with tape you cant get the organ like this on the recording
Tape does round of a bit at the bottom.end
 
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Al M.

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stehno

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Jul 5, 2014
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mm
Its the storage medium thats the main culprit.
Whether is digital , direct to disc ,
tape .
They have to invent a new / better medium to improve reproduction substantially

Who told you that? If there were any truth to that statement then at the very least shouldn't even one hi-rez format, say Blu-Ray music, help substantiate your claim?

I'm sorry but to the best of my knowledge, this is pure folklore. Especially since there should be no evidence to substantiate it. Yet, a popular notion because perhaps some like yourself realize something musical continues to be missing and I'm guessing it's safe because it's almost impossible to prove wrong (or right). Almost.

BTW, if you're into Ed Meitner and Robert Harley, they thought much of the music didn't make it to the recording because of something catastrophic was occurring at the recording mic's diaphragm. This was their conclusion based supposedly on an Ed Meitner experiment involving a guitar and amp for both recording and playback. IMO, Meitner's experiment as shared was in some ways questionable and if so, they too have no evidence to substantiate their claim. So their notion toward a culprit is the recording mic's diaphragm and your notion is inferior formats. Yet, neither has any evidence.

Perhaps just one more high-end audio topic with remedies all over the map?
 
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andromedaaudio

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Perhaps just one more high-end audio topic with remedies all over the map?

No thanks .
I have it from ralph karsten / atmasphere who did analogue recordings, digital and direct to disc recordings afaik.
And who actually listened to direct mic feeds , did you listen to direct mic feeds often ??
Plus what are you re credentials in the recording bizz to dismiss all that ??

Its most likely not in cables , the electric department

The speed of electromagnetic waves is certainly known and is defined to be exactly 299,792,458 m/s in vacuum (same as the speed of light).

Okay through copper slightly less , but still pretty fast i reckon , for us humans undetectable .

EM waves through copper .jpg
 
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