Did "Andy's Gang" Call It Correctly?

Did you compare the two files on the University of Texas blogsite? The one that most readers here originally identified as harsher and brighter was found to be running .1% faster than the other, so Mr. Distler, slowed it down and again posted the files. I both listened and I looked at them using Audacity. So you could say I "cheated" but it doesn't matter. Forget what I heard.

Examine carefully the waveform "slices" above, three of them, one stacked above the other. The top-most is the original File "B", the one analogplanet readers said sounded warmer and fuller.

The middle one is file "D" while the lower one is file "C". Rather than asking you to determine which two are identical, I will tell you where to look: just past 33.0 is the loudest excursion. Just before that is a smaller one. Look at the bottom of that one and you will see a form that looks roughly like a squeezed version of the continental United States and you can see "Florida". You can see that on both the top and middle waveforms. The bottom one has an extra "Florida". Note that the three files were not precisely aligned so you can see more to the beginning of the top-most file. The magnification of the waveforms was identical for all three files. There were other indicators that "D" was "B" but I'm just giving you that one.

Below is a comment left on the website by "Andy". I don't know who Andy is, but Andy and his gang corroborated what I heard here (yes, I'd seen it too):

"So I have listened to these two samples. I have invited co-workers to listen to them and I have invited guests of our establishment to listen to them. All of us have used the very same computer station, volume, settings etc. and none of the listeners other than myself were introduced to the context of this listening. All of us (admittedly, only 5 people) have said we hear them as being different. All of us have also stated individually, again without prompting or context added, that File C is a brighter/harsher/more revealing version and that File D is warmer/fuller/stuffier sounding. I don’t know what result you are hoping/expecting/predicting but that is what 5 people thought here. I hope you update this at some point with your own ‘tell’ of what you are testing. Do you hear a difference?".

Now unless Andy's ears and those of his friends, and my ears and what I can see in the files are all wrong, I think….well you draw your own conclusion. And yes, I realize a sample of six is not dispository but it's pretty good!

On the other hand if Mr. Distler reveals that "C" on bottom is identical to "B" and that Andy, his gang and I are wrong, I'd like to know how that "hanging chad" appears only on "C".

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COMMENTS
SimonH's picture

Alas I couldn't open the files on the Uni web site - but looking at the three plots, blown up on my screen, there are subtle differences between all of them.  Or am i going mad ha ha.

StonedBeatles1's picture

My name is Chad but I'm not hanging..

Jim Tavegia's picture

I am not convinced that the .1% speed diff is an issue in comparing the sound files. I would be more concerned if there was significant wow and flutter. In this case we are saying that a 1000 hz tone played back at 1001 is significant?   1% is .01 as a decimal, so .1 % is .001.    1000 hz times a speed increase of 1.001 = 1001 .  

I would honestly bet that every table I have in my house is worse than that.  I'll bet there are plenty of piano tuners who are worse than that. 33.33333 times 1.001  = 33.36666333  . Unless my math is way off I don't see this as an issue. With production tolerances what they are who really knows what we all have.  

I do agree with a comment that Michael has made many times over, if you know your tables run fast you should make the changes necessary to have them leave the factory ON speed. One can certaily have a machine shop properly diameter a pulley to do just that. 

I seem to remember some tests JA made years ago with the power regenerators and how JA preferred changing the AC line frequency which he could do at the touch of a button. Why would any one not do something if it made their system and their enjoyment of music better?  I would. Especially if it is cost effective. 

I sure hope no one ever comes up with an app that allows one's strobe markings to be sent by HDMI to their big tvs. That would be the end of civilizations as we know it. I'm going to cut back on my caffine. Maybe vinyl enthusiasts feel left out as the digital folks have jitter to worry about.  It just isn't me. 

Superfuzz's picture

Michael, you're diminishing your own website by chasing this dumb issue. If some people believe that cables make no audible difference, let them believe it. Don't keep baiting them with stuff like this. I don't care about some files that some person posted on some blog. The classy thing for you to do would be to just let it go....

or92log's picture

Long time cable sceptic (little experience). Your files made it clear to me that there is a difference, though I have never been able to hear any with my own small experiments a long time ago. Unlike you, I prefered file A "blind" as I found it more airy, open and tranparent. Much like other descriptions, which I only read later on. Quite a revelation. Whether I would be able tell the difference if I did not compare the two files immedeately one after the other is difficult to say. Perhaps not. Differences were small, as also shown by the proporion that did not hear a difference. Would I pay 2000 dollars to get the Thales cable and enjoy what to me was an improvement? Perhaps. But I understand those who would think I was crazy! If it is worth it (or an improvement at all) is, as you clearly state, subjective.

But a big, big thanks and lots of respect for putting up those files. A real learning experience and very rewarding. (and yes, I trust you did not "manipulate" those files, though that is a matter of trust exactly - I simply cannot see why you would risk putting up digital files that can be analysed by anyone with a computer and an interest in the topic (those would be drawn to this site, eh?), rather than continuing to live on in the safe haven of "i got the reviewer sample and you do not, so my opinion rules", like every other reviewer)

or92log's picture

Long time cable sceptic (little experience). Your files made it clear to me that there is a difference, though I have never been able to hear any with my own small experiments a long time ago. Unlike you, I prefered file A "blind" as I found it more airy, open and tranparent. Much like other descriptions, which I only read later on. Quite a revelation. Whether I would be able tell the difference if I did not compare the two files immedeately one after the other is difficult to say. Perhaps not. Differences were small, as also shown by the proporion that did not hear a difference. Would I pay 2000 dollars to get the Thales cable and enjoy what to me was an improvement? Perhaps. But I understand those who would think I was crazy! If it is worth it (or an improvement at all) is, as you clearly state, subjective.

But a big, big thanks and lots of respect for putting up those files. A real learning experience and very rewarding. (and yes, I trust you did not "manipulate" those files, though that is a matter of trust exactly - I simply cannot see why you would risk putting up digital files that can be analysed by anyone with a computer and an interest in the topic (those would be drawn to this site, eh?), rather than continuing to live on in the safe haven of "i got the reviewer sample and you do not, so my opinion rules", like every other reviewer)

birdlandwb's picture

Hi  Michael:

I've been lurking on this website for awhile.  However, something happened when I played the two original files (A and B) for my wife which made me register to post my comment.

I played the files using Foobar2000 on my laptop and through its regular crappy speakers.  I had a hard time noticing the difference although eventually, I did think that File A was 'brighter' and File B was 'smoother'.  I liked File B better, just FYI.

So I played the files for my wife who wasn't even sitting in front of the laptop and she immediately said that she liked File A because it sounded closer to Peter, Paul and Mary's real sound.  Now let us put this last statement in perspective.

My wife is an avid PP&M fan.  She has seen them over 40 times.  She has also seen, and obviously heard, them UNMIKED.  She said that the guitar in File A sounds like the guitar she heard when they were practicing without amplification.  Take note that the song you chose is one of her favorite songs if not her most favorite.

When she has heard them at a concert, she was usually right up front by the stage so she also heard their music at various venues directly from their instruments and their voices.

Does this mean that the non-direct cabling sounds more accurate than the single cable to the phono pre-amp route?  I have no idea what to think about this.  Is it possible that whatever the difference is with the extra cable is actually bringing the sound closer to the real deal?

Michael Fremer's picture

Which cable is "more correct" is a subject I don't even want to get into because I'm not sure it's possible. After all, recordings are all mastered on different speakers by different people. And the ultimate outcome depends upon the associated gear.

The real point of all of this is simply to point out that cables do make a sonic difference and that if your system needs to move in one direction or the other (brighter, smoother, etc.) a cable change can often accomplish it.

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