Audiophiles don't really want NEUTRAL. Audiophiles don't really like NEUTRAL.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Steve Hoffman, Nov 6, 2010.

  1. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Scottish Borders
    The modern trend seems to be to have equipment that's voiced on the brighter side; makes system matching all the more delicate. I know that some Cyrus and Cambridge Audio equipment goes this way, the recent Klipsch RF range floorstanders had a very sharp horn tweeter and so on...not sure why, but I know that I like what the older gear does. The Sansui AU-717 I have is a keeper; I'll run this thing until it puts out its final watt and then I'll probably try and get another. If that means I forsake an element neutrality to have a sound I like, I can live with that, but too much colouration just destroys the music.

    As someone on another site said the other day, some people treat tone controls or sound in the same way people use salt - some lather their food with it, killing the flavour, others treat it sparingly and some do without it completely relying on the natural flavours to come through. YMMV.
  2. This is true. An audiologist told me the same.
  3. MacGyver

    MacGyver Forum Resident


    i've tried listening with my tone controls FLAT,
    and i just didn't care much for the sound in relation to
    the tone settings at what i usually listen to.

    my amp is a 1990/1993 PIONEER VSX-D1S AVR,
    which has BASS/MID/TREBLE controls, and i generally like
    to boost my BASS and MIDs some, while leaving TREBs FLAT...
  4. krlpuretone

    krlpuretone Forum Resident

    Grantham, NH
    Ahh, and it is a chicken/egg thing assuming that there was neutrality in the original mastering chain.

    Maybe all music should be mastered in Switzerland? :laugh:
  5. Kimo

    Kimo New Member

    What would be the equivalent of the Shure in a digital source, player/dac? Perhaps I have asked a dumb question given the measurements I see published in Stereophile?
  6. jkauff

    jkauff Putin-funded Forum Troll

    Akron, OH
    I'm with you on this one, Feisal. I enjoy good sound, but it's not why I listen to music. I'm after the visceral response, the thrill that the Who gives me when played in my car stereo. It sure ain't audiophile, but it sounds and feels great and helps me get ready to go to work.

    I'm old enough to remember the pleasures of AM Top 40 radio in the 1960s. It's the music, not the reproduction, that matters (unless that's your hobby or your job, of course).

    When work like Steve's enhances the response, I'm all over it, but I'm no audiophile. The amazing thing about Steve is that I can hear the difference on non-audiophile gear.
  7. edb15

    edb15 Forum Resident

    new york
    I fully agree that people (not just audiophiles) don't like neutral, but we've known that since the 1930s.

    I'm not sure the Shure is the best example though. It has dull transient response due to its moving mass. Moving coils have lower moving mass and better transient response--slightly exaggerated, in fact due to resonance above 10k. However, when you consider that most recordings are compressed, and most LP masterings are compressed again, and record wear reduces HF response, that might explain why people find MCs more enjoyable.

    And what really is neutral in consumer playback? We can only control the equipment, and we can choose neutral or we can choose what, combined with real world recordings, sounds best to us.
  8. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    I've read several columns over the years stating what Steve said and that people wouldn't enjoy listening to music wherein the speakers and associated components are completely flat.

    The real issue is that our hearing isn't completely flat.
  9. OcdMan

    OcdMan Forum Resident

    I have to disagree about the moving mass of the Shure being more than moving-coils. It's effective moving mass is only 0.17mg. That's much, much lower than most moving-coils and nearly all moving-magnets. There have only been a handful of cartridges ever that have had less moving mass. Several came from Denon and Technics (yes, Technics!) from the 1980s. It's cantilever resonance is way out of the audible range at 33kHz. If there's a problem with the transient response of the Shure V15VxMR is not related to its moving mass.
  10. JA Fant

    JA Fant Well-Known Member

    Yes, "bloom" is a good thing.
  11. OcdMan

    OcdMan Forum Resident

    Some examples of effective moving mass:

    Ortofon X1 0.75mg (HOMC)
    Ortofon X3 0.75mg (HOMC)
    Goldring Eroica H 0.60mg (HOMC)
    Pickering XSV-3000/Stanton 881S 0.50mg (MM)
    Ortofon OM-10 0.50mg (MM)
    Ortofon OM-20 0.40mg (MM)
    Ortofon X5 0.40mg (HOMC)
    Goldring Elite 0.35mg (MC)
    Goldring Eroica LX 0.35mg (MC)
    Soundsmith SMMC-2 0.32mg (MI)
    Van den Hul Black Beauty Special-X 0.32mg (MC)
    Ortofon OM-30 0.30mg (MM)
    Ortofon OM-40 0.30mg (MM)
    Ortofon 2M Black/Bronze 0.30mg (MM)
    Soundsmith SMMC-1 0.30mg (MI)
    Ortofon MC-2000 0.27mg (MC)
    Pickering/Stanton D22E Stylus 0.25mg (MM)
    Van den Hul Colibri 0.24mg (MC)
    Ortofon Jubilee 0.22mg (MC)
    Denon DL-303 0.18mg (MC)
    Shure V15V-MR, V15VxMR, Ultra 500 0.17mg (MM)
    Denon DL-305 0.168mg (MC)
    Technics EPC 205 0.098 mg (MC)
    Denon DL-1000A 0.077mg (MC)
  12. proufo

    proufo Forum Resident

  13. edb15

    edb15 Forum Resident

    new york
    Thanks, and very interesting. Are these independently assessed or from the manufacturer's specs? I'd like to see Dynavector 17d series and a Lyra on this list.
  14. kevintomb

    kevintomb Forum Resident

    I used to own a V-15, thought it was awesome, but going along with what steve says, I got rid of it for an Ortofon OM-30 or 40 I forget which one I ended up using most, (( Got a super bargain of 2 of them one the OM-30 and one OM-40 for only $10.00 for both in a pricing mistake at a store!!! )) but it had a tad more clarity or something that made it sound "more" transparent in some way, most likely a small high end boost. Although that cart was still great, it may have been a bit colored in some ways, as most are. The Shure was very very neutral seeming. Sometimes what we perceive as more clarity or this or that is simply going away from neutral sound and while it may appeal, its not accurate.
  15. OcdMan

    OcdMan Forum Resident

    You're welcome. Manufacturer's specs. I'm not sure who would have the ability to measure this sort of thing these days. Cartridge manufacturers had the technology. I'm still waiting for a response from Dynavector and Audio-Technica about their cartridges. I'm particularly curious about the 17D3 too. It's a solid diamond cantilever but it's very short. Might be pretty low. I need an email address for Lyra.

    The cantilevers that were largely responsible for the low mass of the Denons, Technics, and Shures are not even made anymore. Denon (and I think Technics too) used an exotic tapered hollow boron tube. Shure used beryllium in place of boron. Stanton took their patents and technology with them when they stopped making their better cartridges. I think they used a really short tapered alloy tube of their own design with a nude stylus on the early versions of the 881MKII-S. The cantilever was longer towards the end of that cartridge's life.

    Most of the better cantilevers that are still being made are boron and ruby but they're straight solid rods. Not exactly promising when it comes to minimizing mass.
  16. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Yikes, I misread this as: "Shure used beryllium in a piece of bacon".

    Gotta put my reading specs on..
  17. OcdMan

    OcdMan Forum Resident

    Now I'm hungry...
  18. Natt

    Natt Forum Resident

    Acton, Canada
    Bacon cartridge bodies should sound fantastic - a nice fat bass, crisp high and lots of flavour!
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  19. kevintomb

    kevintomb Forum Resident

    Only after a bit of uh........(( drum roll....)) "Burn in"
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  20. bhazen

    bhazen Infinitely Baffled

    Newcastle, WA
    When I first started buying gear associated with "audiophilia", it was UK-made stuff (Rega, Naim etc.) Neutrality wasn't really an issue with this particular approach; gear that brought the music to life - "Pace, Rhythm And Timing (PRAT)" - was the aim. Indeed, to my ears some of the kit designed under this philosophy departed noticeably from neutral or "flat". Speakers in particular could err on the bright side. I don't think my Rega RS1's are anything like ruler-flat.
  21. Scott Wheeler

    Scott Wheeler Forum Resident

    Here is an opposing point of view on neutrality. I put this out there for the sake of discussion. I have found what I think to be pretty glaring flaws in Sean Olive's beliefs and methodologies (and yes I have debated those points with Olive himself)

    "Part 1 of this article presented experimental evidence from a study conducted by the author demonstrating that trained and untrained listeners prefer the same loudspeakers (see reference 1)."
  22. showtaper

    showtaper Concert Hoarding Bastard

    Everything sounds better with bacon......
  23. Steve G

    Steve G Forum Resident

    los angeles
    so true - great post!
  24. Paul G

    Paul G Forum Resident

    New York, NY, USA
    I am one of those to whom the Shure V15VxMR sounded dull. I replaced it with an Audio-Technica AT150MLX, and I'm glad I did. Indeed, I have found that needledrops done with the Audio-Technica match the tonality of CDs mastered from the same source very closely.

    An example:

    Here's an excerpt from the Bangles' "Hero Takes a Fall" from the All Over the Place LP, captured from my Technics SL-1200M3D with the AT150MLX:

    Here's an excerpt of the same song from the All Over the Place CD:

  25. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan


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