I think measurements are good, to a point, but then the other part!
The importance of measurements
Somehow the opinion that I am hesitant to embrace measurements as a means of determining sound quality has grown into a “thing”.
It’s funny how ideas and notions can become a thing. Perhaps it’s time to set the record straight.
Over the past 50 years, there isn’t a product we’ve released that hasn’t benefited from measurements. In fact, let me go a step further by saying there isn’t a stereo product we’ve released that hasn’t spent the majority of its development—hundreds of hours—on the measurement bench. And not just to check the results of our efforts. The designs themselves are mostly a result of measurements.
I remember the endless hours I spent sitting at my bench while designing new amplification circuits. Before me were my trusted friends: a scope, an HP analyzer (and later an AP), and signal generator. Without them I would be lost.
Only near the end of the process do we haul the device into the listening room for the final phase of development.
Where I think we cross swords is the idea that measurements (or listening) are all that one needs.
Black and white.
Positive and negative.
It either is or it ain’t.
The truth, like so much of life, is found in the in between grays of middle ground.
We need measurements and we need listening.
One without the other offers only incomplete results.
Polish before cutting
It sure is tempting to add the polishing steps to a stereo system before finishing the basic cuts and steps. Kind of like seeing how the jewelry looks before getting fully dressed. Though sometimes helpful, more often than not it simply clutters the process.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with having a listen to what’s eventually going to be the finishing touches. Where I get cautionary is when we start making decisions around those final steps without having first mastered the basics.
It’s especially hard for an impatient person like myself.
I have found over many years that the audio cable swaps, dressing the connections, lifting the speaker cables off the floor, and all that hazarai we do at the end are best kept at the end.
Restraining myself helps me get the best results in the shortest period of time.
Better to fill in the basic blanks first, else run the risk of the polish determining the cut.
This kind of cheating is ok with me.
One of the more famous plugins available to recording artists is called autotune. Autotune allows a singer or instrumentalist’s pitch to be adjusted to perfection.
Is it cheating?
Many would say it is. They want the singer to hit the right note and if they can’t then either try harder, get a singing lesson, or leave it in.
I wonder about that.
What about visual manipulation? Is it cheating to crank up the color saturation of a photo?
In my days as a photographer, I went through a number of phases. One of those phases was what I called my Ansel Adam’s purist’s period. From what I knew about Adams he was a purist. He lugged around a big view camera and waited for the light to be just right. Only then did he shoot his picture. I did the same thing for years.
What he captured was pure. Until I learned it wasn’t.
Turned out Adams was also a master in the darkroom. There are books written about his techniques to save images or enhance what he had captured.
In the same vein, I wonder if I wouldn’t be happier to hear the perfect note even if it took a little manipulation to get there.
If the music carries enough emotion to connect with me I really don’t care how it got there.
I haven’t yet heard PS Audio’s speaker, but would be interested in seeing what they have come up with. Totally custom, I believe and expensive!
Nearfield FR30 loudspeakers
The first round of FR30 loudspeakers are almost ready to be shipped to anxious customers. We’re close. Very close.
Never ones to rest for very long, as we’re waiting for the FR30s to be released into the wild we tasked the FR30s designer, PS Audio senior loudspeaker engineer Chris Brunhaver with building us a pair of custom nearfield monitors for Octave Records. These are one-of-a-kind, active nearfield monitors tuned specifically to the main control room at Octave Records.
This is super exciting. As many know, one of our goals at Octave is to be end-to-end perfect. To hear everything from the microphones to the final master on the FR30s. This will not only ensure we hear every last nuance possible, but the level of consistency in recordings will be quite remarkable.
Problem is that in the tracking control room where we lay down the recording tracks, the engineer has to be fairly close to the window looking out into the studio. This means that when he or she is making decisions based on microphone techniques and creating the rough mix they will have to be closer to the FR30s than they were designed for.
Enter in our resident speaker genius to save the day.