LISTENING TESTS 101


#1

I thought it appropriate, given the past “wild” week of listening tests, to share my own “personal” view on this subject.

Controversial subject?

You bet it is!

But not so much when you drop it to the Music level because I believe that when it goes “there” we are pretty much all the same.

I started last Thursday [posted the set up in the impressions thread] and over the next two days I listened to music.

I did limit my listening to a dozed tracks and I did not change anything in my system set up.

I just listened, not as a potential reviewer, as a music listener.

From the very first track I was a teeny bit startled. Yes there was a moment of regression where I noticed More bass and it’s slight tubbyness. The slight hardness of the upper mid range singer’s voice.

My PWD was not like that. It does of course, have thousands of hours on it now and my rig is all “tuned” to get the most I can out of it. These two DS traits also vanished after 2 days of burn in.

Yet something was affecting me differently and I slid into a much less analytical mode and eventually got lost in the MUSIC.

Between tracks [listening can make you thirsty] I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water.

My living, dining, kitchen is all open concept, and while I was in the kitchen I realized that the Sound was still wonderful and had me swaying my shoulders while pouring the water. [dangerous].

I walked back to my “sweet spot” chair and sat down. Now my foot is tapping.

Why am I telling you all this?

Well, it seemed obvious to me that no matter my listening angle or distance from the speakers, or even with furniture and such in the way, the Sound was “real” sounding and had a pace to it that Sounded “right” and I was “connecting” to it.



I have a few dedicated and insane Audio chums and two of them came over to give a listen on Saturday to the new DS DAC.

They arrived with their favorite “test” CDs, a new digital cable one was testing, and they had already decided on the drive over how they would work as a team to set up the blind comparisons between the DS, PWD and also another “high-end” dac that one just received.

They came in like storm troopers ready for “call of Duty” Action. One of them even had a check list.

I made a suggestion.

How about we just “listen”?

HuH?

We sat for one minute [my usual routine] in silence and just let some of the energy dissipate and our heartbeats slow down a bit.

Then, we just “listened”.

"That sounds like a “real” guitar, one of them said. “Wow, I can see right into her voice”. “gee, I’ve never listened to this album so loud without cringing”.



AND THEN THE MOOD-BREAKING MOMENT ARRIVED.

"What kind of interconnects and speaker wires are we listening to?"

We had just made the shift from Listening and enjoying Music TO the Audiophile infatuation of Playback Equipment.

Not that we thought this was wrong, given the context of our get-together.

On the contrary, it is a vital and enjoyable part of our hobby.



But, for us and at this moment, it was a distraction from our toe-tapping enjoyment of the “fruit” from our Audio Tree.



This is why, in my case, the impressions posted were less about comparisons, set up, equipment, and even track content or origin.

It was about involvement with Music.

I did not need to be “BLIND” to do this. I did not jump from CD to DSD to attempt to describe what or how it could sound “better”.

I think back to the many posts by TED where he kept saying that source, cables and equipment may become less critical to the listening enjoyment of the DS.

How can that be?

Certainly there are rigs and set-ups and even ROOMS, that will make the contents of your source SOUND of a higher quality.

That could make the “real” sound “better” but not necessarily sound more “real”.



When you get your own DirectStream dac and plug it in, maybe try what I did.

Relax for a minute and then Just Listen. “Enjoy The Music” as they say. Experience the involvement.



THEN, if you wish, look deeper into why it is affecting you and Just Sounds Right. See if any of the traditional buzz words are still appropriate to explain it. My bet is they will somehow be a bit less important to you and “toe-tapping” may just become your best benchmark.

You don’t need to be “blind” either.

Ted, Paul and the gang have created something pretty special with this DAC.

This “sonic signature” and “realness” should be protected at ALL costs.

It takes a lot of time and skill to deliver that SQ and they are all keeping hawk eyes [and ears] on the signature as features are activated and added.



This rant was prompted by a you tube video by Ethan Winer [AUDIO MYTHS older one] where they discussed how preconceived ideas can and do interfere with objective Audio testing. Of course they do.

But, just try “BEING” while listening instead of “DOING” and see if it makes a difference.











#2
Gordon said: I think back to the many posts by TED where he kept saying that source, cables and equipment may become less critical to the listening enjoyment of the DS.

Hey Gordon maybe now's the time to get rid of that Resonator, hey? :)

Sounds like great fun ...my upgrade kit is due only in May :(

#3

Sounds like Gordon’s experience with the DS as compared to the PWD is the same as mine. From the moment that you hear the DS you’ll know and there’s just no going back. For those of you getting the upgrade kit- don’t worry- you’ll know the difference right away and won’t really need to do a side by side comparison. It’s what you’ve wanted out of your CD collection for 30 years. :slight_smile:


#4

8->



Can’t wait!!!


#5

Listening to music with your whole body:

What makes a great musician may be the same as what makes a great listener.

"She illustrates a richer picture that begins with listening to yourself, and includes emotion and intent as well as the complex role of physical spaces — instrument, concert hall and even the bones and body cavities of musician and listener alike."



http://blog.ted.com/2007/04/06/evelyn_glennie/


#6

Interesting post. I am a very analytical person by nature, but also highly creative. My mindset is to go through the testing, comparing and concentrating to get the system or software under evaluation to the best I can get it at the moment.



Once things are dialed in, then I kind of forget the chase and just concentrate on the heightened dramatic moments created in the room. I suppose I ping pong back and forth between the two states.



From the descriptions, the DS is exactly the kind of presentation I’m looking for. relaxed and natural with the detail and texture woven into the music.



I may have posted this before, but I have friends who host live bluegrass jams here in NYC several times a year. One of my activities through the night is to close my eyes and listen as if I’m evaluating a system. I even take note of room colorations from different spots within the room to better be able to understand how the room interacts with live and music systems, and what elements are retained no matter the coloration.



I guess my point is that with live music from up close, the hyper detail and clarity is woven into the fabric of the music without a feeling of it being etched or enhanced as with added detail in video. That seems like an aspect the DS brings forth, rather than it highlighting imaging or other artifacts of the record and playback process.



On another note a doctor friend I was telling about the new DS, remarked that it seemed like I was describing virtual reality. While it was an interesting point I agreed with at first, I realized that there is nothing virtual about sound reproduction. If you’re reproducing the same compressions and rarifactions made during the original event (even if a good percentage is lost) it seems to me like that it is in part reality. It would seem that screens and lenses can’t reproduce the same photons from the original event, only an electronic view of some of the photons in the event from a specific focal length colored by the DP’s chosen piece of glass.



While the mic can very much act like a lens, there seems something more direct about the encode decode cycle of a membrane being oscillated by the waves in a room.