Do you record your system changes?

I once thought it was pointless to record my system using my phone’s video camera, but I’ve come to do it as habit after a friend suggested it.

Although the fidelity of the recording isn’t true to life, the recording is very good at highlighting differences. I’m able to hear in the recording that different HDMI cables sound different.

A few tricks I’ve learned a long the way:

  1. Find a position to hold the phone and always hold it that way. I stand the phone upright, so it sums up the sounds into a center channel. I find this emphasizes differences more than if I had to discern stereo in landscape. It also prevents the phone from doing odd noise cancellation between the channels.
  2. I hold the phone as to not obscure the mics on top/bottom. I cross my leg and rest my wrist on my knee, holding the phone up two inches above my knee.
  3. I have a set list where I record the first minute of each song.
  4. I try to use the same headphone while listening. If I switch, I’ll listen to an original reference recording before listening to a recent one.
  5. I level match by ear, but try to keep playback around 75dB.
  6. I write down the key components or changes in the videos metadata.

Do you record your changes?

Sample A

Sample B

Edit: Added #6 and samples

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I’m confused. If a lowly cell phone can document changes in the sound of an expensive stereo system, why not save your self a lot of money and simply listen to music on your cell phone?

I feel like you answered your own question. Documenting and listening are two different objectives…

To answer your question, though — I listen on my cell phone when I’m not home.

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:+1:t2: given the device is the same, the microphone is performing without change, and the recording position and angle are the same, then you probably established your benchmark against which you measure future changes. I’d imagine a MiniDSP mic with a free software (though less convenient) may do that too?


What kinds of details and changes can you document? Frequency, timbre, soundstage, clarity, detail, ???

@Palouse, there is a little bit of practice involved. Part of the exercise is remembering the actual sound in room to the recording and translating what I hear in the recording to what I recalled. I often listen to the recording right after I make it to improve my memory. After a while, hearing differences in video becomes second nature.

I can hear room reflection / absorption, low to high balance, excess sound energy in low/mods, vocal clarity, soundstage (this manifests as centered vs. spacious sound).

As an example, I’ve listened to enough of a friend’s videos to learn his system sound profile and now offer feedback to him based on his videos and our discussions. In a recent recording, I asked him if he moved anything in his room because the sound became quite spacious — he had moved several bass traps into new positions which changed the absorption pattern in his room.

@Serhan, a baseline is essential. Mic recording would be better, but I find a phone is readily available and easy to share videos.

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I can’t see any point in this.

I have no sense of nostalgia for any audio equipment. It’s lumps of metal and plastic and I do not have a single piece of audio equipment in storage, other than two things my son bought for University and in total are worth about $300, and a small box of left-over cables that might total $200. I had a CD player, but gave it away.

I certainly have no nostalgia for how a previous system sounded.

My current listening space is about to be completely changed and the stereo moved to another room, so it will be set up again from scratch. My dealer will come round and do it for me and I will then leave it alone.

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I don’t have a cellular device to record my systems…mmmmm

I know people who keep detailed notes of the impact of changes. For example, they listen to a specific piece of music, note relative instrument placement in the soundstage, what additional sounds can be heard (e.g., an oboe’s pads), relative loudness between instruments, micro-dynamics (instrument attacks, etc.) and much more.

It is remarkably repeatable for them.


In answer to the subject line of the thread: no.
I don’t use my phone mic as a benchmark for the same reason I don’t use my phone cam as a benchmark for my collection of Nikon SLRs (analog and digital). I do admit I’ve kept notes of my impression listening to my system … directly. Which is all that matters to me.


I’d wager the best way to record system changes is simply taking the output, electrically.

I have done this with a hp amp’s tubed preamp outputs by recording the line signal onto a Tascam recorder. Then amplifying it to audible levels with Audacity.
With different tubes I’ve compared the buzz signal’s waveform and spectral harmonics, also saved these recordings from different times of the tube’s lifetime. Interesting!

Now, this is simple as it’s just line level tube buzzing (without any input) but it’s not that complex to record an amp’s output with some equipment to do it.

I record in words every change I make in the system and what I hear with that change. I have never actually recorded the sound in any way unless you count recording voltages or waveform readings on my oscilloscope for no real reason except playing around.