Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Nothing more to add to this today and now Audio listening/Home Theater rooms are talked about.

The tiniest of changes

I asked in yesterday’s post how the tiniest of changes can be heard through the grossest of mediums. Loudspeakers and rooms.

Loudspeakers are grossly inaccurate. Phase, frequency, and linear transfer of energy are off by orders of magnitude relative to the electronics that drive them.

To add insult to injury, rooms add yet another layer of distortion to the mix.

How is it possible that through all these performance barriers—difficult to measure jitter levels, near perfect energy transfer, frequency response beyond human hearing—we can still detect minute changes in sound quality?

It turns out we humans have amazing abilities to change our points of reference on the fly. For instance, we can pick out single conversations from a crowd of people, pinpoint location and timbre amidst a cacophony of distractions and recognizing vanishing low levels of added harmonics, as examples.

The question of importance between sources and outputs is a circular argument based around this very important observation in today’s post.

Let’s ruminate on its implications and pick up the discussion tomorrow.


Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

More from Paul about the audio playback chain and its effects on sound quality.

While he is focused on audio, the same thing goes for video and Home Theater systems.

He mentions this here, but still not talking about the room as much yet and this is one of the biggest problems when it comes to playing great sounding music in the high end audio realm.

I’ve got well over $1,000 in room treatments to control flutter and help with room gain and also use audio EQ’s for both my main speakers and two subwoofers. All this, to make better quality sound, so occasionally you do feel like the performers are in the room with you. Of course, most recordings don’t get you close enough in the first place, but yet, we keep trying.

Now from Paul, with one really funny typo corrected.

Chipping away

My friend Tony reminds me it is unrealistic to focus one one part of a complex chain, when what we hear is the sum of all that has transpired.

He’s right, of course, but those of us creating the chain have to do both.

Imagine Michelangelo’s task of converting a slab of stone into the statue of David. He had to chip away at the bits, in service of the whole.

As designers we tinker with the bits and evaluate the whole through imperfect speakers and rooms. What a daunting task!

One of the most curious aspects of our art is the delicate, minute work we do—taking jitter to seemingly absurd levels, flattening phase and amplitude beyond the reasonable, lowering the tiniest of perturbations of the signal—and evaluating the benefits on grossly inaccurate speakers played in even worse rooms.

Reader Steven Segal sums up our task brilliantly.

Take two wooden boxes, a few wires, transistors, capacitors and transformers, and make a device that will PERSUADE me I’m sitting in Carnegie Hall listening to Vladimir Horowitz playing Scarlatti.

We chip away at the tiniest of imperfections to change the bigger whole, yet somehow it works.

So, the question for tomorrow’s post: how can the tiniest of changes be so obviously reflected in the grossest offenders in the chain, the speakers and room?