The Much Coveted Jump Factor - Friend or Foe

morricab

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Apr 25, 2014
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#61
It still doesn't seem there's much of a consensus on exactly what the jump factor is or what exactly causes it (live music), or when (live music). Startling, jolting, jumping are some of the terms tossed around. I've included the term "emotional impact" because I don't think there absolutely has to be a real physical response everytime when/if a jump factor event occurs.

RogerD mentioned jump factor in movies and home theater several times. But that really shouldn't count as it seems Hollywood would like nothing more than to shock and awe us with every event in every movie. At the very least, Hollywood has little / nothing to do with high-end playback music.

DaveC seems to imply that whatever jump factor means to him, it can only occur when one is surprised or not conditioned and he used the 1812 Overture as his reference since everybody and their mother has heard it. So maybe DaveC is implying that the jump factor can only occur on new unfamilier music. I don't buy that. To use an extreme example. If a .45 cal pistol was fired 5ft from my ears 50 times a day every day, I suspect my body would express an emotional impact every time whether blind-folded or not indoors or outdoors. On the other hand if the distance were 75ft. from my ears I may not be emotionally impacted even once.

Those who admit to experiencing this jump factor during a live performance seem to indicate it is a rare event. But even they seem elusive as to the actual frequency they encounter it. Does rarely heard imply a handful of times in one's entire lifetime, or a handful of times per live event?

With regard to playback music and jump factor, it does seem every few posts that distortions of some sort either directly or indirectly may come into play.

Efficient speakers entered into the discussion several times and based on my limited experience, I really don't see that as an issue worth consideration. At least not from my very limited experience. I think about the time back in 2006 when I owned a fairly highly touted McCormack DNA-2 Rev A amp at 300wpc@8ohm (1200wpc@2ohm). Peter Moncrieff of IAR in 1998 rated the DNA-2 Ltd Annerversary Edition amp (which I also owned) as the most musical and fastest/quickest SS amp among the 30 or 40 he evaluated and Rev A was significantly better. Anyway, I received from a distributor a pair of nuforce 9 SE Class D 160wpc mono-block amps he was begging me to audition. When I unboxed 7 lbs. amps I thought they were a joke but immediately upon install and especially after burn-in the nuforce amps were significantly more refined and musical across the board. Especially in the bass regions where the bass was deeper, tighter, more well-defined and my speakers at the time were among the very least efficient at 86db@4ohm. I immediately sold the DNA-2 Rev A and became a dealer for nuforce.

Also, one ingredient that seems for the most part overlooked in this topic (and in most other topics) is listening volume levels. I've mentioned that on average my listening level is most always around 96db - 98db. It's been my experience that the vast majority of those subscribing to high-end audio listen at db levels significantly lower than that. That I do not get. Why would audiophiles be trying to replicate anything in a live performance if they're not even willing to listen to playback music at roughly the same levels? In some ways, that seems like driving a top fuel dragster down the quarter mile strip at half-throttle but expecting to still get sub-4 second ET and 300+ mph.

To the best of my knowledge about 2 generations ago audiophiles started training themselves to listen at lower listening volumes because historically the distortions of our playback systems could be overwhelmingly unpleasant and unmusical. But in recent years it seems most everybody claims to know how to lower distortions so surely things have progressed but I've not seen any real evidence of volume levels increasing to higher more like live performance db levels.

Anyway, I find it difficult to believe that anybody can really expect to intelligently discuss comparisons about most any high-end audio topic if we aren't even willing to reach some common ground here listening volume-wise. But I digress.
No offense but those Nu Force and their reference model sound horrible...truly. Flat hard sound with no jump factor whatsoever. Made everything sound terribly compressed. Really one of worst I have heard.
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
2,934
275
83
Switzerland
#62
It still doesn't seem there's much of a consensus on exactly what the jump factor is or what exactly causes it (live music), or when (live music). Startling, jolting, jumping are some of the terms tossed around. I've included the term "emotional impact" because I don't think there absolutely has to be a real physical response everytime when/if a jump factor event occurs.

RogerD mentioned jump factor in movies and home theater several times. But that really shouldn't count as it seems Hollywood would like nothing more than to shock and awe us with every event in every movie. At the very least, Hollywood has little / nothing to do with high-end playback music.

DaveC seems to imply that whatever jump factor means to him, it can only occur when one is surprised or not conditioned and he used the 1812 Overture as his reference since everybody and their mother has heard it. So maybe DaveC is implying that the jump factor can only occur on new unfamilier music. I don't buy that. To use an extreme example. If a .45 cal pistol was fired 5ft from my ears 50 times a day every day, I suspect my body would express an emotional impact every time whether blind-folded or not indoors or outdoors. On the other hand if the distance were 75ft. from my ears I may not be emotionally impacted even once.

Those who admit to experiencing this jump factor during a live performance seem to indicate it is a rare event. But even they seem elusive as to the actual frequency they encounter it. Does rarely heard imply a handful of times in one's entire lifetime, or a handful of times per live event?

With regard to playback music and jump factor, it does seem every few posts that distortions of some sort either directly or indirectly may come into play.

Efficient speakers entered into the discussion several times and based on my limited experience, I really don't see that as an issue worth consideration. At least not from my very limited experience. I think about the time back in 2006 when I owned a fairly highly touted McCormack DNA-2 Rev A amp at 300wpc@8ohm (1200wpc@2ohm). Peter Moncrieff of IAR in 1998 rated the DNA-2 Ltd Annerversary Edition amp (which I also owned) as the most musical and fastest/quickest SS amp among the 30 or 40 he evaluated and Rev A was significantly better. Anyway, I received from a distributor a pair of nuforce 9 SE Class D 160wpc mono-block amps he was begging me to audition. When I unboxed 7 lbs. amps I thought they were a joke but immediately upon install and especially after burn-in the nuforce amps were significantly more refined and musical across the board. Especially in the bass regions where the bass was deeper, tighter, more well-defined and my speakers at the time were among the very least efficient at 86db@4ohm. I immediately sold the DNA-2 Rev A and became a dealer for nuforce.

Also, one ingredient that seems for the most part overlooked in this topic (and in most other topics) is listening volume levels. I've mentioned that on average my listening level is most always around 96db - 98db. It's been my experience that the vast majority of those subscribing to high-end audio listen at db levels significantly lower than that. That I do not get. Why would audiophiles be trying to replicate anything in a live performance if they're not even willing to listen to playback music at roughly the same levels? In some ways, that seems like driving a top fuel dragster down the quarter mile strip at half-throttle but expecting to still get sub-4 second ET and 300+ mph.

To the best of my knowledge about 2 generations ago audiophiles started training themselves to listen at lower listening volumes because historically the distortions of our playback systems could be overwhelmingly unpleasant and unmusical. But in recent years it seems most everybody claims to know how to lower distortions so surely things have progressed but I've not seen any real evidence of volume levels increasing to higher more like live performance db levels.

Anyway, I find it difficult to believe that anybody can really expect to intelligently discuss comparisons about most any high-end audio topic if we aren't even willing to reach some common ground here listening volume-wise. But I digress.
Many of us don’t have domestic situations that allow such high average levels. Only on occasion, so liveliness at lower levels becomes important.
 
Jul 5, 2014
648
16
18
Salem, OR
#63
No offense but those Nu Force and their reference model sound horrible...truly. Flat hard sound with no jump factor whatsoever. Made everything sound terribly compressed. Really one of worst I have heard.
If you're implying that only one of us can be right and the other wrong, well I can certainly go along with that. I mean, it's not like I didn't already have my suspicions. :)

Many of us don’t have domestic situations that allow such high average levels. Only on occasion, so liveliness at lower levels becomes important.
Really? So are you condoning designers who might juice up their designs so there can exist a sense of liveliness at half-throttle? I can appreciate your dilema but what does that have to do with maintaining a signal's fidelity or actually getting closer to the live performance if you've moved the target on the wall?

But seriously, if you opt for your own unique efforts and/or for equipment that induces a false sense of liveliness at half-throttle, what happens to the sound on those rare occasions when you can go full-throttle? Wouldn't those occasions kinda' be shot to hell?
 
Likes: KeithR
Jul 5, 2014
648
16
18
Salem, OR
#64
Stehno, I’m especially not sure why you are discounting (high?) efficiency speakers especially if you have limited experience. If dynamics were a factor for some people’s correlation with what they consider jump factor to be (and I certainly also ascribe to this) then high efficiency speakers (horns come to mind here especially) could certainly be of relevance.
I thought I gave a pretty good example why I think the effects of a speaker's efficiency may be overrated. There are a numbrer of areas that contribute to a dynamic presentation and a speaker's efficiency is but one of them and it's certainly not the most important contributor.

I also don’t understand where you evidence legions of scary audiophiles historically TRAINING themselves to listen at specific volumes. My heavens I’m glad I missed that part of the journey.

And the day that someone determines that there is an actual dB value for correct listening and that anyone who doesn’t listen at the volume is therefore somehow invalid or has less understanding then we should all consider getting out of this hobby and just topping ourselves.

Seriously dude... how desperate are any of us to be sooo correct we can’t see that there is already way too much objective argument over what is essentially subjective and really just more BS in this hobby where soooo many are pretending to know what’s really going on when the best parts of this experience lays in the marvellous mystery of human perception. As music lovers and gear heads we could all do with a bit of chill and just a dash of LATITUDE. Arbitrary rules and constantly arguing over noise with more noise isn’t fun. It’s all distortion, this is an illusion. There is no great and binding truth other than we should just enjoy the diversity of all our experiences and stop trying to tell people that their version of the experience isn’t true because it doesn’t align with ours. Said with peace and love and good music playing all the while on my SET amp through my high efficiency horn speakers and getting ready to factor in another jump... whatever and wherever that may be. Peace out brother and enjoy the epic joys of the great and the unknowable.
Seriously dude? Well, I actually implied that as a sub-conscious training rather than a conscious training.

But I think it safe to say that even though many may falsely believe high-end audio has arrived at achieving at or near live music performance levels, there are siill plenty of us who believe high-end audio still has quite a ways to go.

If, and it is so, then that implies there exists plenty of distortions remaining. For example. Harshness, listener fatigue, choral and operatic music or even a piano's sharp upper-register note's causing breakup or flattening out, congestion and compression of dynamic/complex passages, etc. are all evidence of a system heavy laiden with distortions. Which includes most every playback system to one degree or another.

But then again, if we all listened at elevator music volume levels, we'd never know many of these distortions still exist, right?

And if one is unable to address the causes of these distortions, then the only thing left is to address the effects such as lowered listening volume levels. It's called conditioning and common sense.

I don't know about you but I've listened to many systems at homes, dealer showrooms, audio shows, etc. and even at low volume levels I've wanted to leave the room within the first few minutes so I could only imagine what I might hear if they turned up the volume to at or near live performance volume levels.

Seriously, dude.
 
Last edited:

RogerD

Well-Known Member
May 23, 2010
3,299
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48
BiggestLittleCity
#65
It still doesn't seem there's much of a consensus on exactly what the jump factor is or what exactly causes it (live music), or when (live music). Startling, jolting, jumping are some of the terms tossed around. I've included the term "emotional impact" because I don't think there absolutely has to be a real physical response everytime when/if a jump factor event occurs.

RogerD mentioned jump factor in movies and home theater several times. But that really shouldn't count as it seems Hollywood would like nothing more than to shock and awe us with every event in every movie. At the very least, Hollywood has little / nothing to do with high-end playback music.
Stenio,
I did not mention home theater. Film soundtracks are some of the most emotional and moving music ever written. it’s main goal was to create emotion to fit the story in the movie.
Most classic soundtracks were recorded by the film industry recording engineers and they forgot more than most pros know about recording. Also most soundtracks were imbedded on the 35mm or 70mm film...the king of analog media.
So soundtracks should be fertile ground for a emotional connection or reaction to the music.
 
Jul 5, 2014
648
16
18
Salem, OR
#66
Stenio,
I did not mention home theater. Film soundtracks are some of the most emotional and moving music ever written. it’s main goal was to create emotion to fit the story in the movie.
Most classic soundtracks were recorded by the film industry recording engineers and they forgot more than most pros know about recording. Also most soundtracks were imbedded on the 35mm or 70mm film...the king of analog media.
So soundtracks should be fertile ground for a emotional connection or reaction to the music.
Got it. Sorry, my bad.
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
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#67
If you're implying that only one of us can be right and the other wrong, well I can certainly go along with that. I mean, it's not like I didn't already have my suspicions. :)



Really? So are you condoning designers who might juice up their designs so there can exist a sense of liveliness at half-throttle? I can appreciate your dilema but what does that have to do with maintaining a signal's fidelity or actually getting closer to the live performance if you've moved the target on the wall?

But seriously, if you opt for your own unique efforts and/or for equipment that induces a false sense of liveliness at half-throttle, what happens to the sound on those rare occasions when you can go full-throttle? Wouldn't those occasions kinda' be shot to hell?
Glad you can admit to being wrong...

I never said anything about designers "juicing up" their designs, nor was it implied. IMO, a system that can't maintain a semblance of live at much lower than live levels is losing resolution, masking dynamics and generally flawed. If you HAVE to goose it to near live levels to get a lively sound that is a big red flag. Of course if it will play live levels cleanly that would be nice too and not too many home systems qualify...but those that do are either very large or have high sensitivity drivers somewhere (either horns or pro drivers).
 

morricab

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Apr 25, 2014
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#68
I thought I gave a good example why I think a speaker's efficiency may be overrated. There are a numbrer of areas that contribute to a dynamic sound and a speaker's efficiency is only one of them.
I think you have this backward: a speaker's sensitivity generally summarizes a number of areas that contribute to a lively sound.
 
Jul 5, 2014
648
16
18
Salem, OR
#69
Glad you can admit to being wrong...

I never said anything about designers "juicing up" their designs, nor was it implied. IMO, a system that can't maintain a semblance of live at much lower than live levels is losing resolution, masking dynamics and generally flawed. If you HAVE to goose it to near live levels to get a lively sound that is a big red flag. Of course if it will play live levels cleanly that would be nice too and not too many home systems qualify...but those that do are either very large or have high sensitivity drivers somewhere (either horns or pro drivers).
You're acting silly. Who said I HAVE to goose it up? I don't have your dilema so I have the pleasure of listening at or near live performance volume levels. Also, I don't have to deal with the same distortions you do, so I'm exceedingly pleased to listen at or near live performance volume levels. So the way I see it, I would only be compromising my life on this earth if I played in your sandbox.

But if you wanna play hopscotch with recordings at far less than live performance volume levels and still strive for lifelike effects ie to get components and playback systems to achieve the unreasonable, well as you know you have such freedom to do so.

I think you have this backward: a speaker's sensitivity generally summarizes a number of areas that contribute to a lively sound.
No. As usual I had it right. :)
 

morricab

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Apr 25, 2014
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#70
You're acting silly. Who said I HAVE to goose it up? I don't have your dilema so I have the pleasure of listening at or near live performance volume levels. Also, I don't have to deal with the same distortions you do, so I'm exceedingly pleased to listen at or near live performance volume levels. So the way I see it, I would only be compromising my life on this earth if I played in your sandbox.

But if you wanna play hopscotch with recordings at far less than live performance volume levels and still strive for lifelike effects ie to get components and playback systems to achieve the unreasonable, well as you know you have such freedom to do so.



No. As usual I had it right. :)
You are the one stating that at anything less than live levels you have do not have a lively sound.

You have no idea what distortions (or lack thereof) I have to put up with any more than I know which ones you have in your system, although I can surmise they must be hindering as you seem to need live levels...or your hearing is getting on in this world...

My system will play just fine at near live levels and I exercise this right when I am able, but I can only do so when the family is not home...a rarity. IMO, your system is compromised BECAUSE you need to play it near live levels or it falls flat (implied by your own words).

Not sure even what you mean by playing hopscotch at less than live performance levels...seems like a few mixed metaphors in there not coming together with a coherent thought.

Given your admitted lack of experience with high sensitivity speakers, I would be curious how you think you are right about sensitivity only being one component of a lively sound? Give details please about what factors you think contribute? We can then see how those may or may not be encompassed in a definition of lively sound. Responsiveness to input? Captured by sensitivity. Ability to make high SPL without much movement or effort (i.e. lower distortion)? Check. Higher SPL onset of thermal compression? Check. What else would you include? Go on, here's your chance to outline all elements of a driver or speaker system that would make lively sound.

The only things that come to mind are things that would equally affect speakers of all sensitivities, like crossover phase issues, cabinet resonances, driver breakup etc.
 
Jul 5, 2014
648
16
18
Salem, OR
#71
You are the one stating that at anything less than live levels you have do not have a lively sound.

You have no idea what distortions (or lack thereof) I have to put up with any more than I know which ones you have in your system, although I can surmise they must be hindering as you seem to need live levels...or your hearing is getting on in this world...

My system will play just fine at near live levels and I exercise this right when I am able, but I can only do so when the family is not home...a rarity. IMO, your system is compromised BECAUSE you need to play it near live levels or it falls flat (implied by your own words).

Not sure even what you mean by playing hopscotch at less than live performance levels...seems like a few mixed metaphors in there not coming together with a coherent thought.

Given your admitted lack of experience with high sensitivity speakers, I would be curious how you think you are right about sensitivity only being one component of a lively sound? Give details please about what factors you think contribute? We can then see how those may or may not be encompassed in a definition of lively sound. Responsiveness to input? Captured by sensitivity. Ability to make high SPL without much movement or effort (i.e. lower distortion)? Check. Higher SPL onset of thermal compression? Check. What else would you include? Go on, here's your chance to outline all elements of a driver or speaker system that would make lively sound.

The only things that come to mind are things that would equally affect speakers of all sensitivities, like crossover phase issues, cabinet resonances, driver breakup etc.
So this is my chance, eh? But I'm in a bit of a quandry as I contemplate responding to your definition of dynamics or the defintion of life-like dynamics?

Please advise.
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
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275
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#72
If you're implying that only one of us can be right and the other wrong, well I can certainly go along with that. I mean, it's not like I didn't already have my suspicions. :)



Really? So are you condoning designers who might juice up their designs so there can exist a sense of liveliness at half-throttle? I can appreciate your dilema but what does that have to do with maintaining a signal's fidelity or actually getting closer to the live performance if you've moved the target on the wall?

But seriously, if you opt for your own unique efforts and/or for equipment that induces a false sense of liveliness at half-throttle, what happens to the sound on those rare occasions when you can go full-throttle? Wouldn't those occasions kinda' be shot to hell?
So this is my chance, eh? But I'm in a bit of a quandry as I contemplate responding to your definition of dynamics or the defintion of life-like dynamics?

Please advise.
live unamplied music
 
Jul 5, 2014
648
16
18
Salem, OR
#73
live unamplied music
I’ve no intention of going down some speaker building rabbit hole with you regarding speaker designs, construction quality, materials, internal components, etc. so I’ll just give you the short version of minimum requirements.

Assuming we’re starting with an already reasonably well-thought-out playback system the major contributors toward achieving an even somewhat realistic level of dynamics in a given playback presentation include but not necessarily limited to the following:
  • Extreme forms of vibration mgmt.
  • Extreme forms of electrical mgmt.
  • Speaker placement (full-range)
  • Unamplified gain stage i.e. a passive pre.
  • Robust amplification.
  • Dedicated lines for high-current-drawing amps already flirting with a circuit’s amperage limitation.
  • Listening volume levels that approach live performance volume levels.
Then again, the above are all pretty much the basic requirements for anyone hoping to even remotely achieve any sense of realism for any of live music’s characteristics in a given playback system.

On the other hand, for men like yourself who are seemingly forbidden from listening at reasonable volume levels, I’d like to suggest you pursue an active gain stage pre-amp as a minimum requirement. This should provide you at least some of the robust dynamics and a sense of liveliness at lower listening volumes guys like you might otherwise be missing. Just so long as you're aware this boost has nothing to do with achieving a sense of realsim but it should at least keep you from falling asleep.

And no, an efficient speaker is not a requirement.
 

the sound of Tao

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2014
991
421
63
#74
I’ve no intention of going down some speaker building rabbit hole with you regarding speaker designs, construction quality, materials, internal components, etc. so I’ll just give you the short version of minimum requirements.

Assuming we’re starting with an already reasonably well-thought-out playback system the major contributors toward achieving an even somewhat realistic level of dynamics in a given playback presentation include but not necessarily limited to the following:
  • Extreme forms of vibration mgmt.
  • Extreme forms of electrical mgmt.
  • Speaker placement (full-range)
  • Unamplified gain stage i.e. a passive pre.
  • Robust amplification.
  • Dedicated lines for high-current-drawing amps already flirting with a circuit’s amperage limitation.
  • Listening volume levels that approach live performance volume levels.
Then again, the above are all pretty much the basic requirements for anyone hoping to even remotely achieve any sense of realism for any of live music’s characteristics in a given playback system.

On the other hand, for men like yourself who are seemingly forbidden from listening at reasonable volume levels, I’d like to suggest you pursue an active gain stage pre-amp as a minimum requirement. This should provide you at least some of the robust dynamics and a sense of liveliness at lower listening volumes guys like you might otherwise be missing. Just so long as you're aware this boost has nothing to do with achieving a sense of realsim but it should at least keep you from falling asleep.

And no, an efficient speaker is not a requirement.
Your points on elements within a system that work strongly to achieve life like dynamics really isn’t particularly on point nor reflective of perhaps more typical experience.
  • Extreme forms of vibration mgmt.- (these can help in some applications in terms of dynamics in my experience but vibration management doesn’t always buy dynamics... more so under power supplies but under other components resolution can more often be the primary gain)
  • Extreme forms of electrical mgmt. (some ‘extreme’ forms of power management actually do quite the opposite if they are worked too heavily into noise suppression and can often then bury dynamics... Shunyata is an example of one power conditioning and cable system that clearly does work towards exploiting dynamics)
  • Speaker placement (full-range) (speaker placement contributing to dynamics... once again not really the principle outcome from dialling speakers in which is more often about coherence, soundstage and balance.
  • Unamplified gain stage i.e. a passive pre. (Wow, passive line stages are often incredibly poor in this area... often dynamics can be their archilles heel and most people comment rather that it is resolution and low noise that makes them go for a passive and instead having active pre stages has a lot to do with gain structure and dynamics IME)
  • Robust amplification. (Too broad a definition I’d suggest... a poorly designed amp no matter how robust could just as easily be flat, compressed and unlistenable as it could be dynamic.
  • Dedicated lines for high-current-drawing amps already flirting with a circuit’s amperage limitation. (This is actually often helpful in terms of realising dynamics)
  • Listening volume levels that approach live performance volume levels. (This is such a misdirect... I agree with Brad, if your system has to be thrashed to sound interesting and just isn’t performing satisfyingly at lower volume levels there are probably system issues that could clearly relate to it missing out on dynamics)
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
2,934
275
83
Switzerland
#75
Your points on elements within a system that work strongly to achieve life like dynamics really isn’t particularly on point nor reflective of perhaps more typical experience.
  • Extreme forms of vibration mgmt.- (these can help in some applications in terms of dynamics in my experience but vibration management doesn’t always buy dynamics... more so under power supplies but under other components resolution can more often be the primary gain)
  • Extreme forms of electrical mgmt. (some ‘extreme’ forms of power management actually do quite the opposite if they are worked too heavily into noise suppression and can often then bury dynamics... Shunyata is an example of one power conditioning and cable system that clearly does work towards exploiting dynamics)
  • Speaker placement (full-range) (speaker placement contributing to dynamics... once again not really the principle outcome from dialling speakers in which is more often about coherence, soundstage and balance.
  • Unamplified gain stage i.e. a passive pre. (Wow, passive line stages are often incredibly poor in this area... often dynamics can be their archilles heel and most people comment rather that it is resolution and low noise that makes them go for a passive and instead having active pre stages has a lot to do with gain structure and dynamics IME)
  • Robust amplification. (Too broad a definition I’d suggest... a poorly designed amp no matter how robust could just as easily be flat, compressed and unlistenable as it could be dynamic.
  • Dedicated lines for high-current-drawing amps already flirting with a circuit’s amperage limitation. (This is actually often helpful in terms of realising dynamics)
  • Listening volume levels that approach live performance volume levels. (This is such a misdirect... I agree with Brad, if your system has to be thrashed to sound interesting and just isn’t performing satisfyingly at lower volume levels there are probably system issues that could clearly relate to it missing out on dynamics)
I was going to write a lengthy reply but you covered it quite well. A couple of the points will have a direct impact on dynamics...for good or ill (such as power products, filters, cables etc. ) The rest is sort of incidental and may or may not have signficant impact. Not sure what he was banging on about passives (based on a different comment from him I think he was trying to say passives hurt dynamics) but I don't use a passive...I either have integrated amps or use amps with active preamps. All of these points, while potentially relevant completely overlook the elephant in the room...high sensitivity speakers vs. low sensitivity speakers, IMO.

Take audiophile bills new Swing IIs as an extreme example. They will play concert levels on less than 1 watt! Add to that the drivers are designed (at least the mid/high compression driver) to go to around 140 db and all conceivable musical scale in a domestic environment will be covered with just a couple of watts. Contrast that with an 86db speaker that will require hundreds if not thousands of watts to do the same...if in fact it even could. The problem is that the usual equation of every 3db requires a doubling of power only holds true when the voice coil is at ambient temperature. As you increase the temp, the conductivity is reduced and pretty soon that doubling of power is only getting you 2db, then 1db then none. Now, if Stenho is running AVERAGES of 95-96db as he claims and his speakers are some 8-10db less sensitive than that level, those voice coils are already quite toasty and ready to resist more incoming current for peak demands. This means that a large peak coming in will result in a non-realistic scaling in SPL due to the compression from the driver not conducting normally anymore... This is why pro drivers have A) very high sensitivity and B) Huge vented voice coils in order to minimize this effect. What is interesting is that they are designing for very high levels, so when you bring that back down to a domestic environment you get huge dynamic potential essentially without thermal compression even into the 100db+ range. How this cannot be perceived as important to "jump factor", lively sound or LIVE sound is not clear to me.

Also, I agree that "Robust Amplification" is far too vague to be useful. Robust in terms of watts, power supply capacity/speed, ability to withstand nuclear explosions? I have found that watts and getting a lively or "jump factor" sound has zero or even a negative correlation? Why? Well it's not the watts per se, it is how an amp is typcially designed to get those watts (generally PP, Class AB with substantial feedback). big power supply? Yes, but only if it is also a "fast" design with a low internal impedance...otherwise it gets in it's own way and might be good for not sagging under heavy steady loads but likely not responsive enough for real music demands. Nuclear explosions? maybe if it is coated in Starlite....
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
2,934
275
83
Switzerland
#76
I’ve no intention of going down some speaker building rabbit hole with you regarding speaker designs, construction quality, materials, internal components, etc. so I’ll just give you the short version of minimum requirements.

Assuming we’re starting with an already reasonably well-thought-out playback system the major contributors toward achieving an even somewhat realistic level of dynamics in a given playback presentation include but not necessarily limited to the following:
  • Extreme forms of vibration mgmt.
  • Extreme forms of electrical mgmt.
  • Speaker placement (full-range)
  • Unamplified gain stage i.e. a passive pre.
  • Robust amplification.
  • Dedicated lines for high-current-drawing amps already flirting with a circuit’s amperage limitation.
  • Listening volume levels that approach live performance volume levels.
Then again, the above are all pretty much the basic requirements for anyone hoping to even remotely achieve any sense of realism for any of live music’s characteristics in a given playback system.

On the other hand, for men like yourself who are seemingly forbidden from listening at reasonable volume levels, I’d like to suggest you pursue an active gain stage pre-amp as a minimum requirement. This should provide you at least some of the robust dynamics and a sense of liveliness at lower listening volumes guys like you might otherwise be missing. Just so long as you're aware this boost has nothing to do with achieving a sense of realsim but it should at least keep you from falling asleep.

And no, an efficient speaker is not a requirement.

On the other hand, for men like yourself who are seemingly forbidden from listening at reasonable volume levels, I’d like to suggest you pursue an active gain stage pre-amp as a minimum requirement. This should provide you at least some of the robust dynamics and a sense of liveliness at lower listening volumes guys like you might otherwise be missing. Just so long as you're aware this boost has nothing to do with achieving a sense of realsim but it should at least keep you from falling asleep.

Umm, I have an active preamp...not sure what made you think I don't. It does help with dynamics but ignores the elephant in the room...the speakers. With that covered, liveliness and robust dynamics are there in spades even at moderate volumes. Maybe you should just turn your hearing aids up a bit and then you won't need to listen so loud all the time...
 

KeithR

VIP/Donor
May 7, 2010
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#77
Ralph’s post has some patent falsehoods in it, particularly about being limited to a 300B and getting wide bandwidth. There are a number of significantly higher output SETS with bandwidths from say 10-15Hz.to 50-60khz at full rated power.

He is right that higher order harmonics start to grow with high power output but what is important is whether the pattern stays roughly the same or if the high orders increase faster than the second, third and fourth . The ratios matter. The pattern in many amps changes not only with power but also frequency and this is detrimental to sonic quality and believability

Ralph is also not taking into account that most of PP tube amps have pretty high distortion at all powers and at low power and SPL it is most critical and at high power/SPL it is the least critical. I will state again, Sensitivity to distortion is SPL dependent.
To be fair, he didn't say it was impossible but that it was just hard to get wide bandwidth out of 300B (my empirical experience as well). The Air Tight in the recent Sphile maybe the best I have seen that tube measured.

But he's right that running SETs on unfriendly speakers isn't a good idea. I certainly wouldn't on <95db speakers. Nor are OTLs for that matter ;)
 

KeithR

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May 7, 2010
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#78
Let’s forget about the jolting. But going back to the rather dynamic 1812 Overture video, why didn’t the musicians sitting 4 ft in front of the cymbals seem startled even once? Or those musicians in front of the tympani or horns? Surely morricab was not sitting closer to the instruments than these musicians were to the cymbals.
As a 7-year band and orchestra member through high school this doesn't surprise me - we were used to it. If anything, conductors were usually trying to get us to accentuate dynamics more.
 
Likes: DaveC

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
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Switzerland
#79
To be fair, he didn't say it was impossible but that it was just hard to get wide bandwidth out of 300B (my empirical experience as well). The Air Tight in the recent Sphile maybe the best I have seen that tube measured.

But he's right that running SETs on unfriendly speakers isn't a good idea. I certainly wouldn't on <95db speakers. Nor are OTLs for that matter ;)
Well, that was a bit my point...Ralph saying it is a bit pot meets kettle. However, there are a number of (seems to be a Eastern European thing) SET amps out there with real balls and they have widebandwidth and serious grunt to drive speakers well down to 89-90db without sounding strained or dynamically limited. Brands like Aries Cerat, KR Audio, NAT, Vaic (now Ayon), Traffomatic, NAF (Italian but still pretty ballsy). Some very good tube engineers from that part of the world as they worked with them far longer than in the west. Even invented some new designs (Vaic/KR). These amps don't have the same gentle characteristics that many of the American and/or Japanese SETs have. They have huge power supplies, huge output trafos and the designers seem to really know their business (not that the others don't although from measurements it might raise eyebrows). The chinese brand, Line Magnetic is also quite promising.

I can state categorically, that I don't think anyone would find our 60 watt Diana Forte lacking in grunt or dynamics even on a speaker like the Thiel CS3.7...Thieliste can testify to this fact I think from his demo with us back in October last year. I have had similar experiences with big KR Audio amps and NAT amps. Maybe Ralph is used to 8 watt 300B amps with wimpy power supplies and total amp weight under 20Kg but I can tell you that this isn't even close to what is out there now.

As a contrast, I have a 20 watt JJ-322 parallel 300B amp. It sounds very good when driving the right speakers (read over 92db and pretty easy load). They didn't like the Thiels at all. I saw a review in a Polish magazine and the amp made an honest 15 watts into 8 ohms for 1% THD with a bandwidth from below 20Hz to 35kHz. Pretty darn good for that kind of amp and it is a solid 42kg (92lbs in US). BUT it needs a sympathetic speaker...so no wonder Ralph is saying what he says but it is far from the whole story. On 92db and up this amp can really sing and it has very large output iron (12Kg each or so) giving good clean bass.

I have seen independent measurements on an early version NAT SE2SE where it put out over 100 watts with less than 1% THD! I think it was going to Class A2 to do this but the distortion was still more than acceptable. It sounds that way too...powerful. This amp outdrove a CAT JL2 signature on a pair of Apogee Grands (running passive using a Diva crossover)...it simply sounded better.

When I was a KR dealer 10 years ago I put a VA350i (30 watts at 3%) on a pair of Acapella Violon mK I (90db or so) and it drove the crap out of them, easily destroying sonically an Electrocompaniet AW250 amp...it was more powerful in the bass more, more dynamic sounding...more real.

With Aries Cerat, well we drove the hell out of little 83db Boenicke W5s with "only" 25 watt Genus...jaws were on the floor.

Try somethign like that with Cessaro and maybe that is what you will want to keep.
 

KeithR

VIP/Donor
May 7, 2010
3,431
324
83
Marina del Rey, CA
#80
Well, that was a bit my point...Ralph saying it is a bit pot meets kettle. However, there are a number of (seems to be a Eastern European thing) SET amps out there with real balls and they have widebandwidth and serious grunt to drive speakers well down to 89-90db without sounding strained or dynamically limited. Brands like Aries Cerat, KR Audio, NAT, Vaic (now Ayon), Traffomatic, NAF (Italian but still pretty ballsy). Some very good tube engineers from that part of the world as they worked with them far longer than in the west. Even invented some new designs (Vaic/KR). These amps don't have the same gentle characteristics that many of the American and/or Japanese SETs have. They have huge power supplies, huge output trafos and the designers seem to really know their business (not that the others don't although from measurements it might raise eyebrows). The chinese brand, Line Magnetic is also quite promising.
But most forget to mention those "high power SET" tubes are with output tubes not designed for audio (and very high voltage rails if something goes wrong). And you are usually stuck with one version of a tube making system matching more difficult and retain the difficulty of higher distortion into higher required wattage. If I want SET, i'd prefer to buy a simple SET-friendly speaker and get *all* of the benefits.

I've heard several Line Magnetic integrateds and would disagree with your assessment. The 219 had poor bass despite its 100lbs or iron. I have not heard the 805 version, which may be better - but see above.

Anyways, we are way off topic. Sorry Stehno!
 
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