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View Full Version : Why do some tracks sound *especially* good on Boom?



Mark Lanctot
2008-08-29, 11:52
I just realized something when posting a rare moment of mushiness in another thread:

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showpost.php?p=333912&postcount=6

Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight just sounds especially good on Boom. Sure, almost everything sounds good on Boom but there are some that are *extra* good. I'm curious as to the technical reason, assuming there must be one...

Had an intense listening session and these are the song's characteristics:

- not too much bass, even though Boom is very capable in this regard

- vocals nice - my main system does vocals better, but it's a Transporter with $1K speakers, so it sure ought to.

- quiet guitar sounds especially good, this is the guitar not in the chorus

- the guitar in the chorus has lots of reverb

- the track is very "spacious" even with StereoXL off

- not an intense amount of treble, just the occasional tick

- the quiet parts sound very quiet (low noise floor?)

So I'm not sure what this is exposing about Boom's audio performance. Good in midrange? Low noise floor? Good clarity and separation? Not sure.

I've noticed there are other tracks that are especially good on Boom, perhaps for similar reasons. For example, my girlfriend's Jazz sounds stunning even in a lossy format and even considering it's not my favourite genre. Any other beta testers come across any especially good tracks on Boom?

Michaelwagner
2008-08-29, 11:57
Having just read Clapton's autobiography, I suspect he'd say it's because he wrote it from his heart.

And Mark, jazz sounds good on anything, because it just sounds good. :-)

Howard Passman
2008-08-29, 12:09
Having just read Clapton's autobiography, I suspect he'd say it's because he wrote it from his heart.

And Mark, jazz sounds good on anything, because it just sounds good. :-)

Michael, having been a Clapton fan since the early 60's I have to say the autobiography grossed me out. Don't get me wrong, I was part of the entire 60-70's thing including playing in bands and counting junkies as friends, etc., but the codling EC had was way beyond what any man deserves and especially to come out on top. Steve Winwood even said if he writes his autobio he doubts he'll be as forth coming. I can't say exactly why, but it knocked Eric down a notch or two in my eyes.

Mark, I think you'll find well made, small speakers are going to have these traits. I think it's just indicitve of small drivers in a properly made cabinet. You'll probably find James Taylor sounds good too and that hard rock may be the least pleasing on these speakers. I'm waiting for my Boom to find out.

Have fun.

Howard

JJZolx
2008-08-29, 12:19
I've been deliberating about whether or not to post my opinions about the Boom sound as it now stands. I'm anxious to hear others as it makes it into the hands of those with better ears than my own.

I'm still finding the Boom's midrange to be quite harsh. Very forward, grainy and often just plain unmusical It's not terrible for tunes while I'm doing dishes or cooking dinner, but even then I find the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end and have to turn it down to lessen the effect.

I think there's a lot more to be had and wonder if the problem lies within all of the DSP processing going on. Even with all of its faults, my 15 year old Sony boombox sounds more pleasant and less grating. I suspect that there's a perception by those who voiced the system that this sound is somehow "detailed", while ignoring listenability.

Michaelwagner
2008-08-29, 12:43
Michael, having been a Clapton fan since the early 60's I have to say the autobiography grossed me out. Don't get me wrong, I was part of the entire 60-70's thing including playing in bands and counting junkies as friends, etc., but the codling EC had was way beyond what any man deserves and especially to come out on top. I can't say exactly why, but it knocked Eric down a notch or two in my eyes.

Yeah, been there, done that. I never played in a band (no one much wanted a guy with classical violin training), I was more the roadie-tagalong type, doing lights or mixing or something.

I was never drug dependent, but certainly knew people who were. And have had more than a lifetimes share of brushes with alcoholics.

I had several, very conflicting feelings while reading the book (and it varied depending on which part of the book I was in). Like you, how coddled he was, how many chances he had.

If he hadn't been EC, he wouldn't likely have had half the chances.

Lucky for him that he was.

What about all the other poor slobs who didn't have his talent and therefore the indulgence of the world?

How come he lived? So many others didn't survive that sort of insane druggyness. Joplin, Morrison, Hendrix, etc.

Wonderful Tonight, the song that started this thread, is about his relationship to Patti. How badly he treated her (and everyone else he was involved in for so many years).

How he was pseudo-orphaned by his mother and raised by his grandparents. Well, boo, hoo, at least someone took him in. How many orphans are truly orphans. My gf was raised by her grandparents - she didn't turn to anything stronger than tobacco (and even that she ditched 15 years ago).

At times, the book felt like a pity party. Sure, he had it rough. But so did many others. I find it hard to excuse so much excess, so much abuse of so many people he claimed to love.

But then, maybe I'm looking at it with post-AIDS eyes. The drugs, the needles, the sex, it was all easier (and we believed at the time, safe) back then. But it's hard to get my revulsion about what it would mean post-AIDS out of my mind when I read that stuff.

At the end, I was glad to hear that he sobered up and has stayed sober now for years.


Steve Winwood even said if he writes his autobio he doubts he'll be as forth coming.

Well, I have to say I admire EC for being as forthcoming as he was. Some of it, about his former habits, must have been hard to write, once sober. I think writing about it may have been a way of exorcising some ghosts. It must be hard to write what amounts to "I was a jerk for most of my life".

ccrome2
2008-08-29, 13:03
That's a really interesting comment. I end up listening to the same few
songs over and over and over with the boom during various phases of
testing. Everybody in my half of the building (including myself) is
completely sick of the intro to Hotel California from Hell Freezes Over,
among a few others.

I suspect that it's largely in the mastering of the track, but frankly
that's nothing more than a wild guess. What's your encoding? I wonder if
that has anything to do with it -- MP3 vs. FLAC could have some effect with
the StereoXL processing. MP3s can remove phase information that's used in
the StereoXL.

Sounds like a job for Erland's fantastic ABTester plugin to see if the
encoding has anything to do with it.

-Caleb


On Fri, Aug 29, 2008 at 8:52 PM, Mark Lanctot <
Mark.Lanctot.3ex49n1220036102 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:

>
> I just realized something when posting a rare moment of mushiness in
> another thread:
>
> http://forums.slimdevices.com/showpost.php?p=333912&postcount=6
>
> Eric Clapton's -Wonderful Tonight- just sounds especially good on Boom.
> Sure, almost everything sounds good on Boom but there are some that are
> *extra* good. I'm curious as to the technical reason, assuming there
> must be one...
>
> Had an intense listening session and these are the song's
> characteristics:
>
> - not too much bass, even though Boom is very capable in this regard
>
> - vocals nice - my main system does vocals better, but it's a
> Transporter with $1K speakers, so it sure ought to.
>
> - quiet guitar sounds especially good, this is the guitar not in the
> chorus
>
> - the guitar in the chorus has lots of reverb
>
> - the track is very "spacious" even with StereoXL off
>
> - not an intense amount of treble, just the occasional tick
>
> - the quiet parts sound very quiet (low noise floor?)
>
> So I'm not sure what this is exposing about Boom's audio performance.
> Good in midrange? Low noise floor? Good clarity and separation? Not
> sure.
>
> I've noticed there are other tracks that are especially good on Boom,
> perhaps for similar reasons. For example, my girlfriend's Jazz sounds
> stunning even in a lossy format and even considering it's not my
> favourite genre. Any other beta testers come across any especially
> good tracks on Boom?
>
>
> --
> Mark Lanctot
>
> "Make it so it doesn't suck" is a good design target, but hard to
> implement - Michael Herger
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Mark Lanctot's Profile:
> http://forums.slimdevices.com/member.php?userid=2071
> View this thread: http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=51685
>
>

Goodsounds
2008-08-29, 17:04
Michael, having been a Clapton fan since the early 60's I have to say the autobiography grossed me out. Don't get me wrong, I was part of the entire 60-70's thing including playing in bands and counting junkies as friends, etc., but the codling EC had was way beyond what any man deserves and especially to come out on top.

I wasn't going to add any substantial non-Boom content, other than to say that I found your reaction, Howard, to be interesting. I'm not sure what part of the story you found so surprising, but it would appear quite a bit triggered a strong reaction!

I've also been a fan (of his music) for a long while. I enjoyed the book a great deal. I generally have low expectations for artists and people in show business. It's always nice to find the ones who aren't societal misfits in one way or another, but sadly they seem a minority. Not too surprisingly, Clapton's upbringing didn't much prepare him for the broader world and the fame he's enjoyed, and it isn't like he had the sense to overcome that sooner as so many others did, but of course many didn't. He's lucky he lived long enough to grow up and straighten himself out.

Michaelwagner
2008-08-29, 17:48
Perhaps it would be best if a mod could move the Clapton comments to the music forum, since, as has been pointed out, we seem to have moved to non-boom content.

http://forums.slimdevices.com/forumdisplay.php?f=15

ModelCitizen
2008-08-30, 00:16
I'm still finding the Boom's midrange to be quite harsh. Very forward, grainy and often just plain unmusical It's not terrible for tunes while I'm doing dishes or cooking dinner, but even then I find the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end and have to turn it down to lessen the effect.

Not my experience at all. I think the sound is extremely good (and very attractive). If I have any criticism at all it's that I'd like Boom to be louder.

Did you experience this harshness with all the dsps Jim?

MC

Phil Leigh
2008-08-30, 01:12
Not my experience at all. I think the sound is extremely good (and very attractive). If I have any criticism at all it's that I'd like Boom to be louder.

Did you experience this harshness with all the dsps Jim?

MC

That's my observation too... I don't find it harsh at all, but very occasionally I wish it could be a tiny bit louder.
I haven't done any serious structured listening across genres - will do so this morning and see what my conclusions are.

BTW is the Wonderful Tonight track referred to above the one from the remastered Slowhand album? (Luckily I have all EC albums, having been a big fan of his music since forever, regardless of his personal problems)

dwilliams01
2008-08-30, 06:44
I also think that the sound is very, very good (perhaps a couple of more verys there). On the loudness front, I guess that I've never turned it up past 80 or so for any normal listening so I'd have to say that, at least where I use it, it gets loud enough. My main usage areas are in a large, open plan first level (kitchen, great room, dinning room combined with mainly a bar counter to break them up and a very high ceiling) and outside on the deck.

One thing that I have noticed is that the boom appears to be rather directional. If you are in front of it you hear it, but from behind the sound fades out very quickly. This has been extremely handy with not bothering the neighbors with my music when I'm out in the yard working on something.

Michaelwagner
2008-08-30, 07:06
BTW is the Wonderful Tonight track referred to above the one from the remastered Slowhand album?
Could it be that the remastering introduced artifacts that are reproduced harshly? Sometimes processing can introduce harmonics that are more sensed than really heard, and they can be intrepreted in different ways by different people (with different hearing abilities).

I know I have an audio test CD that cheap CD players start playing harmonics about half way up the scale, and better CD players don't have the same trouble with it.

JJZolx
2008-08-30, 10:28
Not my experience at all. I think the sound is extremely good (and very attractive). If I have any criticism at all it's that I'd like Boom to be louder.

Did you experience this harshness with all the dsps Jim?

It's never been great, but the firmware prior to the release version, with the weird extra bass manipulation, was worse. That's why I suspect it's some DSP processing that may be the culprit.

I have a Boom sitting on my desk in my office, where I have an inexpensive audio system connected to my PC and to an SB2. That system consists of

SB2 > CI Audio VPC-1 passive pre > Rotel RB-1050 power amp > Paradigm Atom v2 speakers

The difference in sound is striking. Certainly not that they're different, but how they're different. The Pardigms are not known for being laid back, nor are any Rotel amps. And the passive preamp won't mask any of that. Normally, it's not a combo that I'd recommend, but it was put together from components that weren't being used elsewhere. It's so much smoother than the Boom that the Boom sounds broken.

Issues with the Boom in the kitchen may have to do with playing it a bit too loud. The Boom doesn't play very loudly at top volume and begins to sound strained at volumes over 75 or so. With the discussions of the processing done to manipulate the sound at different volume levels, that's what I'm hoping is causing the nails-on-a-chalkboard midrange, and that it can be fixed.

Phil Leigh
2008-08-31, 02:06
Do you have the XL processing on? At "high" setting it can do some wierd stuff in the midrange band.

Odd. My experiences are almost the opposite of yours...I have XL set to "medium". I wonder if there is something wrong with your box?

In fact, I spent a good part of yesterday listening to the Boom in direct comparison to my main system across many genres and was rather surprised by how good I felt it was. However, I did notice that:

1) Replaygain really helps to avoid driving the Boom into distortion over 80 or so...
2) occasionally (certain discs), heavily compressed/clipped rock can sound "gritty" at high volumes.
3)Well-recorded, mastered and produced material sounds very very good.
4)Any system that can even begin to reproduce Mezzanine by Massive Attack without giving you a headache is basically doing something very right
5) Jazz sounds great and that is a lot of midrange action - vocals, brass etc

ccrome2
2008-08-31, 02:34
IMO, medium is the right setting for SXL. Dean made me put the 'high' in --
I didn't want to :-) It does do strange things in the midrange.

JJ, if you put your ear close to each speaker (with the volume low of
course), do you hear any differences between R and L tweeter ? or R vs. L
woofer? Since you got an early unit, and some of them had bad solder
joints, it's possible that one leg of the differential signalling is bad.
I've seen that before.

Actually, on pause, check to see that the ilde noise sounds the same in
both. If one has significantly different sounding idle noise, that's a
sure sign that there is something wrong between the DAC and power amps.

-Caleb


On 8/31/08, Phil Leigh <
Phil.Leigh.3f02in1220173802 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:
>
>
> Do you have the XL processing on? At "high" setting it can do some wierd
> stuff in the midrange band.
>
> Odd. My experiences are almost the opposite of yours...I have XL set to
> "medium". I wonder if there is something wrong with your box?
>
> In fact, I spent a good part of yesterday listening to the Boom in
> direct comparison to my main system across many genres and was rather
> surprised by how good I felt it was. However, I did notice that:
>
> 1) Replaygain really helps to avoid driving the Boom into distortion
> over 80 or so...
> 2) occasionally (certain discs), heavily compressed/clipped rock can
> sound "gritty" at high volumes.
> 3)Well-recorded, mastered and produced material sounds very very good.
> 4)Any system that can even begin to reproduce Mezzanine by Massive
> Attack without giving you a headache is basically doing something very
> right
> 5) Jazz sounds great and that is a lot of midrange action - vocals,
> brass etc
>
>
> --
> Phil Leigh
>
> You want to see the signal path BEFORE it gets onto a CD/vinyl...it
> ain't what you'd call minimal...SB3+Stontronics PSU - Altmann
> JISCO/UPCI - TACT RCS 2.2X + Good Vibrations S/W - MF
> Triplethreat(Audiocom full mods)- Linn 5103 - Aktiv 5.1 system (6x
> LK140's, ESPEK/TRIKAN/KATAN/SEIZMIK 10.5), Townsend Supertweeters,
> Kimber & Chord cables
> Outdoors: Boombox+Creative Sub (If I remember to turn it on...)
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Phil Leigh's Profile: http://forums.slimdevices.com/member.php?userid=85
> View this thread: http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=51685
>
>

ModelCitizen
2008-08-31, 03:27
4)Any system that can even begin to reproduce Mezzanine by Massive Attack without giving you a headache is basically doing something very right
Haha. A favourite and extreme track... which starts to distort at 80% volume on my Boom (the kick drum right at the beginning).
Even harder to reproduce is the Chemical Brothers' Under The Influence. This starts to distort my Boom at about the same time. Very rarely have I heard a system that can handle this track elegantly.

I have Stero-XL set to medium and replaygain activated.

MC

ModelCitizen
2008-08-31, 03:29
IMO, medium is the right setting for SXL. Dean made me put the 'high' in --
I didn't want to :-) It does do strange things in the midrange.

I'm glad it's in. I have some very processed psy-ambient music which sounds sort of hyper-real. The high StereoXL adds nicely to the extreme nature of the already very large sound.

MC

ccrome2
2008-08-31, 03:32
On Sun, Aug 31, 2008 at 12:29 PM, ModelCitizen <
ModelCitizen.3f067z1220178604 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:

>
> ccrome2;334632 Wrote:
> > IMO, medium is the right setting for SXL. Dean made me put the 'high'
> > in --
> > I didn't want to :-) It does do strange things in the midrange.
>
> I'm glad it's in. I have some very processed psy-ambient music which
> sounds sort of hyper-real. The high StereoXL adds nicely to the extreme
> nature of the already very large sound.
>

Dang, Dean's right once again.

Phil Leigh
2008-08-31, 03:35
Haha. A favourite and extreme track... which starts to distort at 80% volume on my Boom (the kick drum right at the beginning).
Even harder to reproduce is the Chemical Brothers' Under The Influence. This starts to distort my Boom at about the same time. Very rarely have I heard a system that can handle this track elegantly.

I have Stero-XL set to medium and replaygain activated.

MC

I don't have the CB track. Massive Attack sounds very good on my main system, and a woeful mess on a lot of full-range systems I've heard. A good sub and DRC really helps with this album. It's a bit of an "acid test" for me. Boom doesn't fall apart but you can hear it is under pressure - that kick drum as you say is a tough moment :o) Many systems/rooms just lose the plot completely. You need a lot of power delivery and to be able to go flat down to below 40Hz to keep coherence. Of course, Boom gets round this by avoiding the troublesome low-end completely. The end result sounds rather like a gentle "polite" remastering job. This rather changes the nature of the music, removing some of its edgeiness (as in danger).


I'm going to try the Alan Parsons Soundcheck later today. That should be fun!

ModelCitizen
2008-08-31, 03:48
I don't have the CB track.
You should try and get hold of it, even if only just for a test.

My SB+, PMC OB1s and Bryston 4B SST handle the Massive Attack track very well. However when listening to the Chemical Brothers track the cones start hitting the back of the speakers at a depressingly low volume level.

MC

Phil Leigh
2008-08-31, 04:02
You should try and get hold of it, even if only just for a test.

My SB+, PMC OB1s and Bryston 4B SST handle the Massive Attack track very well. However when listening to the Chemical Brothers track the cones start hitting the back of the speakers at a depressingly low volume level.

MC
I'll pick it up - sounds interesting...thanks!

Michaelwagner
2008-08-31, 05:15
Dang, Dean's right once again.
Don't you just hate it when that happens

Phil Leigh
2008-08-31, 05:24
If you want to hear some sonic fireworks, try the Alan Parsons/Stephen Court Soundcheck CD - The Chieftain Tank, Thunderstorm and Jet flypast are a hoot!

The other music tracks (non-compressed/effected multitracks, solo'd on the desk by the sound of it) are interesting too. By the way, judging by the low level bleed-through from adjacent tracks these recordings sound like analogue to tape...(ah - the good old days)

If you want reference material that has only been digitally tinkered with at the final mastering/CD production stage, this is a very useful disk.

ModelCitizen
2008-08-31, 05:45
If you want to hear some sonic fireworks, try the Alan Parsons/Stephen Court Soundcheck CD - The Chieftain Tank, Thunderstorm and Jet flypast are a hoot!
OK, but which would you recommend Phil? I can get either the original 1993 version or the later MFSL version.

MC

Phil Leigh
2008-08-31, 05:50
OK, but which would you recommend Phil? I can get either the original 1993 version or the later MFSL version.

MC

Erm - I have the 1993 version.

I'd heard about the MFSL version, but I haven't heard it. I wonder how that sounds? Aren't they rather rare (ie expensive).

treble
2008-08-31, 12:09
I've been deliberating about whether or not to post my opinions about the Boom sound as it now stands. I'm anxious to hear others as it makes it into the hands of those with better ears than my own.

I'm still finding the Boom's midrange to be quite harsh. Very forward, grainy and often just plain unmusical It's not terrible for tunes while I'm doing dishes or cooking dinner, but even then I find the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end and have to turn it down to lessen the effect.

I think there's a lot more to be had and wonder if the problem lies within all of the DSP processing going on. Even with all of its faults, my 15 year old Sony boombox sounds more pleasant and less grating. I suspect that there's a perception by those who voiced the system that this sound is somehow "detailed", while ignoring listenability.

I have the same experience with the Boom. Some genres, like Latin Jazz sound really good, but others, like rock sounds pretty mediocre. I have the stereoXL on medium. Strange.

ccrome2
2008-09-01, 04:53
On Sun, Aug 31, 2008 at 12:09 PM, treble <
treble.3f0uan1220209804 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:

>
> JJZolx;333930 Wrote:
> > I've been deliberating about whether or not to post my opinions about
> > the Boom sound as it now stands. I'm anxious to hear others as it
> > makes it into the hands of those with better ears than my own.
> >
> > I'm still finding the Boom's midrange to be quite harsh. Very forward,
> > grainy and often just plain unmusical It's not terrible for tunes while
> > I'm doing dishes or cooking dinner, but even then I find the hairs on
> > the back of my neck standing on end and have to turn it down to lessen
> > the effect.
> >
> > I think there's a lot more to be had and wonder if the problem lies
> > within all of the DSP processing going on. Even with all of its
> > faults, my 15 year old Sony boombox sounds more pleasant and less
> > grating. I suspect that there's a perception by those who voiced the
> > system that this sound is somehow "detailed", while ignoring
> > listenability.
>
> I have the same experience with the Boom. Some genres, like Latin Jazz
> sound really good, but others, like rock sounds pretty mediocre.
> Strange.
>
>
I'll have to get back to the audio lab and see if there is a reason for
this. Perhaps the most likely problem is the amount of compression used in
Rock tracks just sounds bad, and when played on a high quality speaker that
has good response all the way to 20 kHz, it just sound wrong. That's what
I'd like to think anyway :-)

Most of the descriptions like, "detailed" or "listenability" actually have a
relationship to a particular defect frequency response. Frequency response
is BY FAR the most important factor in speaker quality. (This includes
off-axis frequency response). So I'll check it out again. Perhaps a bug in
the software got in. BTW, you need to take 1/20th octave measurements to
get a very good frequency response measurement. 1/3 or even 1/12 octave
measurements don't really tell you what's up.

-Caleb

Howard Passman
2008-09-01, 07:01
On Sun, Aug 31, 2008 at 12:09 PM, treble <
treble.3f0uan1220209804 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:

>
> JJZolx;333930 Wrote:
> > I've been deliberating about whether or not to post my opinions about
> > the Boom sound as it now stands. I'm anxious to hear others as it
> > makes it into the hands of those with better ears than my own.
> >
> > I'm still finding the Boom's midrange to be quite harsh. Very forward,
> > grainy and often just plain unmusical It's not terrible for tunes while
> > I'm doing dishes or cooking dinner, but even then I find the hairs on
> > the back of my neck standing on end and have to turn it down to lessen
> > the effect.
> >
> > I think there's a lot more to be had and wonder if the problem lies
> > within all of the DSP processing going on. Even with all of its
> > faults, my 15 year old Sony boombox sounds more pleasant and less
> > grating. I suspect that there's a perception by those who voiced the
> > system that this sound is somehow "detailed", while ignoring
> > listenability.
>
> I have the same experience with the Boom. Some genres, like Latin Jazz
> sound really good, but others, like rock sounds pretty mediocre.
> Strange.
>
>
I'll have to get back to the audio lab and see if there is a reason for
this. Perhaps the most likely problem is the amount of compression used in
Rock tracks just sounds bad, and when played on a high quality speaker that
has good response all the way to 20 kHz, it just sound wrong. That's what
I'd like to think anyway :-)

Most of the descriptions like, "detailed" or "listenability" actually have a
relationship to a particular defect frequency response. Frequency response
is BY FAR the most important factor in speaker quality. (This includes
off-axis frequency response). So I'll check it out again. Perhaps a bug in
the software got in. BTW, you need to take 1/20th octave measurements to
get a very good frequency response measurement. 1/3 or even 1/12 octave
measurements don't really tell you what's up.

-Caleb

Hi Caleb,

Could it be related to the material rather than the reproduction. My personal opinion is that most rock isn't recorded that well and the source instruments don't sound all that great either. I know a 100 watt Marshall sounds really "cool" live and cranked up, but it really isn't what you would call high fidelity. Isn't it possible that even if you could defeat the massive amounts of compression used, that the problem starts with musicians instruments, carries to the studio and then get further pillaged during preparation for reproduction.

Before anyone gets me wrong, I like Rock. Grew up on Rock. Played Rock and was involved in music and musical instruments for years. However, when you record too much noise and distortion, you get back exactly that.

I'm sure you'll find some short comings in the speakers, but I think folks might be expecting too much to begin with.

Am I off base do you think?

Howard

ccrome2
2008-09-01, 07:22
On Mon, Sep 1, 2008 at 7:01 AM, Howard Passman <
Howard.Passman.3f2aub1220277902 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:

>
> ccrome2;335149 Wrote:
> > On Sun, Aug 31, 2008 at 12:09 PM, treble <
> > treble.3f0uan1220209804 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>
> > wrote:
> >
> > >
> > > JJZolx;333930 Wrote:
> > > > I've been deliberating about whether or not to post my opinions
> > about
> > > > the Boom sound as it now stands. I'm anxious to hear others as it
> > > > makes it into the hands of those with better ears than my own.
> > > >
> > > > I'm still finding the Boom's midrange to be quite harsh. Very
> > forward,
> > > > grainy and often just plain unmusical It's not terrible for tunes
> > while
> > > > I'm doing dishes or cooking dinner, but even then I find the hairs
> > on
> > > > the back of my neck standing on end and have to turn it down to
> > lessen
> > > > the effect.
> > > >
> > > > I think there's a lot more to be had and wonder if the problem
> > lies
> > > > within all of the DSP processing going on. Even with all of its
> > > > faults, my 15 year old Sony boombox sounds more pleasant and less
> > > > grating. I suspect that there's a perception by those who voiced
> > the
> > > > system that this sound is somehow "detailed", while ignoring
> > > > listenability.
> > >
> > > I have the same experience with the Boom. Some genres, like Latin
> > Jazz
> > > sound really good, but others, like rock sounds pretty mediocre.
> > > Strange.
> > >
> > >
> > I'll have to get back to the audio lab and see if there is a reason
> > for
> > this. Perhaps the most likely problem is the amount of compression
> > used in
> > Rock tracks just sounds bad, and when played on a high quality speaker
> > that
> > has good response all the way to 20 kHz, it just sound wrong. That's
> > what
> > I'd like to think anyway :-)
> >
> > Most of the descriptions like, "detailed" or "listenability" actually
> > have a
> > relationship to a particular defect frequency response. Frequency
> > response
> > is BY FAR the most important factor in speaker quality. (This
> > includes
> > off-axis frequency response). So I'll check it out again. Perhaps a
> > bug in
> > the software got in. BTW, you need to take 1/20th octave measurements
> > to
> > get a very good frequency response measurement. 1/3 or even 1/12
> > octave
> > measurements don't really tell you what's up.
> >
> > -Caleb
>
> Hi Caleb,
>
> Could it be related to the material rather than the reproduction. My
> personal opinion is that most rock isn't recorded that well and the
> source instruments don't sound all that great either. I know a 100
> watt Marshall sounds really "cool" live and cranked up, but it really
> isn't what you would call high fidelity. Isn't it possible that even
> if you could defeat the massive amounts of compression used, that the
> problem starts with musicians instruments, carries to the studio and
> then get further pillaged during preparation for reproduction.
>
> Before anyone gets me wrong, I like Rock. Grew up on Rock. Played
> Rock and was involved in music and musical instruments for years.
> However, when you record too much noise and distortion, you get back
> exactly that.
>
> I'm sure you'll find some short comings in the speakers, but I think
> folks might be expecting too much to begin with.
>
> Am I off base do you think?
>
> Howard
>
>
Yeah, that's definitely one possible explanation -- that I was alluding to
before. Could be the mastering. They often expect replay to be on low
quality systems.

Phil Leigh
2008-09-01, 07:39
Hi Caleb,

Could it be related to the material rather than the reproduction. My personal opinion is that most rock isn't recorded that well and the source instruments don't sound all that great either. I know a 100 watt Marshall sounds really "cool" live and cranked up, but it really isn't what you would call high fidelity. Isn't it possible that even if you could defeat the massive amounts of compression used, that the problem starts with musicians instruments, carries to the studio and then get further pillaged during preparation for reproduction.

Before anyone gets me wrong, I like Rock. Grew up on Rock. Played Rock and was involved in music and musical instruments for years. However, when you record too much noise and distortion, you get back exactly that.

I'm sure you'll find some short comings in the speakers, but I think folks might be expecting too much to begin with.

Am I off base do you think?

Howard

I am not Caleb, but in a word...YES you are off-base. I could literally write a book on why.

If anyone made a hi-fi that actually could make a Marshall Stack on full sound exactly like a Marshall stack on full I'd buy it. "Fidelity" in this context means accurate reproduction - warts 'n' all. There isn't "too much noise and distortion" - there's what the artist/producer etc wanted. Most commercial rock is in fact very well recorded using state of the art studios, mics, desks, FX etc. Sometimes days are spent getting the right snare drum sound...

Most rock musicians pride themselves on "their" sound and spend years/dollars perfecting it.

Anyway - to avoid writing that book I mentioned - a system HAS to attempt to reproduce ALL forms of music well - including all forms of rock. There is nothing intrinsically unmusical or abnormal about rock compared to jazz, C&W, punk, folk or even classical. Any system that can't make of a fist of Deep Purple is going to struggle with Wagner.

Oh - and you can't undo dynamic compression! It's a one way street. You can try dynamic expansion, but as you have no idea what the original sound was like it or exactly how it was compressed it just becomes an "effect".

I have 2,500 cd's of which 75% are "rock" of some sort. I'd say maybe 100 of those have issues in terms of how they were recorded/mastered/butchered. I have a much higher percentage of classical CD's that sound awful...DG being a particular bunch of criminals IMHO.

YMMV

ccrome2
2008-09-01, 09:19
On Mon, Sep 1, 2008 at 7:39 AM, Phil Leigh <
Phil.Leigh.3f2cgn1220280002 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:

>
> Howard Passman;335202 Wrote:
>
> > Am I off base do you think?
> >
> > Howard
>
> I am not Caleb, but in a word...YES you are off-base. I could literally
> write a book on why.


Hi guys... I think you both have very valid points.

Most pop/rock music is extremely compressed as its released on CDs. This
has several roots I think. To casual listeners, louder == better.
Therefore more compression == louder == better. If somebody is from the
music industry, please chime in here and correct me if I'm wrong.

Obviously, more compressed doesn't really mean better, but that's the
reality of how CDs are mastered.

The biggest difference between HD CDs and regular CDs has nothing to do with
high sampling rates or bit-depth. It has to do with the mastering of the
material. This has been demonstrated using carefully controlled
double-blind tests, with high-end and low-end systems. Check out
http://aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=14195.

HD CDs sound better because people who really care about the music quality
get to control the final amount of dynamic range. On regular widely
distributed CDs, the music executives require a ton of compression, and it's
not left up to the artists/engineers discretion.

So, yes, source material and mastering does matter in the final evaluation
of sound quality, and *may* have something to do with why some tracks sound
better than others. I don't know, and the only way to find out is to run
some experiments.

That said, I completely, 100% agree with Paul, that the goal of a speaker
system is transparency, and I highly doubt that the difference are in the
source instruments. The Marshall Stacks have *terrible* fidelity, but
that's intentional and part of their sound. If you tried to play a symphony
through guitar amps, it would sound horrible. If you used a studio monitor
as your guitar amp, it would not sound right either. The intention of Boom
is to be as much like a studio monitor as possible.

The idea that some music should sound better on some systems seems kind of
silly to me. The people doing mixing and mastering have to use very flat,
wide dispersion speakers and they try to make it sound as good as possible.
The equalizers in systems that have settings like "Jazz" and "Rock" and
"Pop" are really silly IMO. That would mean that there is some systematic
defect in all studios that produce rock music, and a different but
consistent defect in all Pop studios. That's clearly ridiculous, especially
since it's the SAME studios that produce all kinds of music. Speaker EQ is
best left to the speaker designers (if they know what they're doing...)

Truthfully, I was reluctant to put in any Bass or Treble controls at all,
because the only thing they can do is create a less flat response. However,
in the end there were a couple of reasonable reasons to include the tone
controls: 1) to eliminate high frequency crud on badly compressed MP3s 2)
to remove bass when you don't want so much, like at nighttime and 3) because
people expect it.

So, let's find out what the real sources of different perceptions on Boom
are. If there's a defect in the signal processing in Boom, we'll find it
and fix it...

-Caleb

Phil Leigh
2008-09-01, 10:09
OK - let's try and nail this.
Can anyone come up with some tracks that they feel don't sound good on a Boom?

I put the following playlist through a Boom on Saturday and compared the sound against my main system occasionally. Nothing on this list sounded like nails on a chalkboard:

Wonderful Tonight - Slowhand - Eric Clapton (Remastered)
Black Coffee - Too Darn Hot! - Claire Martin (Linn CD AKH272)
Take Five - The Great Concerts: Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Carnegie Hall - Dave Brubeck Quartet
Inertia Creeps - Mezzanine - Massive Attack
Buffalo Soldier - Street Symphony - The Persuasions
Couldn't Get it Right - Gold Plated - Climax Blues Band
Im Mandy Fly Me - How Dare You! (remastered) - 10CC
Ooh La La - Supernature - Goldfrapp
Black Cow - Aja - Steely Dan (remastered)
La Grange - Tres Hombres ZZ Top (remastered)
Siberian Khatru - Close To The Edge (remastered) - Yes
Speed King - In Rock (remastered) - Deep Purple
Graceland - Graceland - Paul Simon
Feelin' Again - Little Head - John Hiatt
A Day In The Life - Love - The Beatles
Cochise - Audioslave - Audioslave
Hell Yeah - 12 Songs - Neil Diamond
Ode To Billy Joe - Nashville West - Nashville West
In The Ghetto - From Elvis in Memphis - Elvis Presley
Warming Up The Band - Tracks - Head, Hands & Feet
Power To The People - Love, Peace & Understanding - Curtis Mayfield
When Smokey Sings - Alphabet City - ABC
Bad Weather - The Very Best Of - Poco
Creedence Song - Revival - John Fogerty
Cool Dry Place - Volume 3 - Travelling Wilburys
Anarchy In The UK - Never Mind The Bollocks - Sex Pistols
Cloudbusting - The Hounds Of Love - Kate Bush
Wind-Up - Aqualung - Jethro Tull
Bloody Well Right - Crime Of The Century - Supertramp
Tales Of Brave Ulysses - Disraeli Gears - Cream
Crosstown Traffic - Electric Ladyland - Jimi Hendrix
Let's Stay Together - Al - Al Green
Beat It - History - Michael Jackson
Jesus Was A Crossmaker - Judee Sill - Judee Sill
Pull Down The Blind - Distant Light - The Hollies


PS To Caleb - yes there are plenty of over-compressed (at the mastering stage) CD's out there. My point was that up until mastering the actual tracks themselves - and probably the master mix - will have been lovingly nurtured...then some idiot turns up and decides that the mix has to be squashed to hell.

I have well over a 1,500 (rock) discs where this hasn't happened. Annoyingly most of what has been released since roughly 1998 has this problem to some extent. Fortunately, my collection is heavily 60's/70's biased :o)

ModelCitizen
2008-09-01, 10:14
A good proportion of those tracks would sound like nails on a blackboard to me whatever I was listening to them on. :-)

MC

Phil Leigh
2008-09-01, 10:25
A good proportion of those tracks would sound like nails on a blackboard to me whatever I was listening to them on. :-)

MC

Which was kind of the point of the test I was doing ;0) However, having just assassinated my musical "taste"...

ModelCitizen
2008-09-01, 10:46
Which was kind of the point of the test I was doing ;0) However, having just assassinated my musical "taste"...
sorry....

MC

Phil Leigh
2008-09-01, 10:50
sorry....

MC

Hey MC - You know I was only jesting :o) - I know my tastes are ...catholic. I was trying to use tracks that others might be familiar with.

Do you have any tracks that aren't satisfying on the Boom?

ModelCitizen
2008-09-01, 15:20
Do you have any tracks that aren't satisfying on the Boom?
Not so far, no.
One of my favourite all time groups, Joy Division sounds crap on any decent stereo (especially the first album Unknown Pleasures) and is much better listened to on crap gear. I listened to a lot of Joy Division on the Boom yesterday and it didn't sound too bad at all (not too sure what this says about the Boom though!).

I don't tend to listen to guitar based rock. I'll try some Can on it soon though. The reproduction of You do Right often sorts the men out from the boys (for no reason I can work out).

MC

Howard Passman
2008-09-01, 16:55
...with anyones take on my post, but I will whole heartedly disagree with anyone who says that there is a speaker out there that will do equal justice to all types of music. It ain't happened yet and it ain't likely to.

Wooohoooo,

Howard

Mark Lanctot
2008-09-02, 06:47
One of my favourite all time groups, Joy Division sounds crap on any decent stereo (especially the first album Unknown Pleasures) and is much better listened to on crap gear. I listened to a lot of Joy Division on the Boom yesterday and it didn't sound too bad at all (not too sure what this says about the Boom though!).

This was pretty clearly referenced in the movie 24 Hour Party People, a must-watch for any Joy Division or New Order fan. They recorded She's Lost Control with the drum kit on the studio roof to eliminate the "rattle" producer Martin Hannett was hearing.

Tony Wilson's acid test of the final track was to listen to it on his car stereo when driving, and everyone agreed that it sounded very good... Oh and in a comedic moment Stephen Morris is shown still playing the drums on the studio roof as Wilson and the rest of the band drive past on the motorway - seems no one told him to stop.

The drums in that track are highly distorted, almost underwater-sounding. You'd be forgiven if you thought it was from an early drum machine. However that's the signature Hannett sound.

Mark Lanctot
2008-09-02, 07:01
Wow, this thread has taken off over the long weekend. Some responses and comments:


Everybody in my half of the building (including myself) is completely sick of the intro to Hotel California from Hell Freezes Over, among a few others.

Dang, that WOULD sound good on Boom (quiet guitar similar to Wonderful Tonight), I gotta try it out.


What's your encoding? I wonder if that has anything to do with it -- MP3 vs. FLAC could have some effect with the StereoXL processing. MP3s can remove phase information that's used in the StereoXL.

I'm using FLAC here.


BTW is the Wonderful Tonight track referred to above the one from the remastered Slowhand album?

Err, ahh, sadly no, it's from one of those "20th Century Masters" compilations. Yes, I know...

Not sure which master it came from.


1) Replaygain really helps to avoid driving the Boom into distortion over 80 or so...

For sure. I was listening to a particularly loud and bassy track as a real workout for Boom. I won't reveal what track it was or everyone would think I have no taste at all. Anyway I have RG data in this track and turned it up to 100 in order to hear Boom's speaker protection filters kick in. But it went up to 100 without significant distortion. It only sounded a little strained.

However it was SO loud I'm scratching my head as to why anyone would think that Boom is too quiet. Perhaps people listen to music at 110 dB+? I should have dug out my SPL meter, but I'm sure Boom was over 100 dB at that point. The bass could be felt through the floor and the floor was carpeted!