About

Thanks for looking.


My main theme is this:

Stereo audio is a solved problem, but most people have never heard it done properly.

Implemented reasonably well, the combination of the two speakers produces what seems like a clear window onto a three dimensional ‘scene’ and has some of the visceral qualities of live music.

The technology necessary to do this is now ‘mature’, and its application is much more straightforward than the audiophile world likes to believe – and it has very little to do with money.


I cannot claim to be an authority on anything, but I have played with, and built, hi-fi and recording equipment since a young age.

I was very young when the hi-fi industry took off in the 1970s, and I was obsessed with it, reading all the magazines, and understanding the basics pretty well, I think. After that, I always had audio equipment – some of it DIY – but didn’t necessarily follow the trends and gossip within ‘the industry’. I made the move to CD in the eighties, and went through a headphone phase in the nineties and noughties, using a self-designed headphone amplifier for quite a few years.

Then, about five years ago I began taking more of an interest in the technicalities of speakers – something I had previously left to the experts. Very interesting! Is it possible that the vast majority of audio systems are built around a quaint configuration that made sense in the 1950s but can now be surpassed using more complex, but lower cost, technology?

I thought it would be fun to ignore much of the conventional speaker building wisdom, and have a bash at building a system using DSP, active linear phase crossovers, driver correction, unfashionably large sealed woofers and the ‘high end’ configuration of three drivers per speaker. As a result, I seem to have built something that, to my ears, works tremendously well, and which attracted some very positive comments when I showed it in public.

I then had a go at a different pair of speakers which are ‘concordant’ with my admiration for 1970s hi-fi styling. I am confident that these speakers, too, sound excellent despite their smaller size. This time I am indulging in DSP EQ to extend (not “boost”) the bass, which seems to give remarkable results – I know it is not a free lunch but the upsides may outweigh the downsides – and it can be turned off of course.

Apologies if my online persona is dogmatic, dismissive, abrasive or sharp; I’m quite harmless if you meet me and would be only too happy to share your enjoyment of turntables, R-R tape recorders and valve amplifiers – and I love vintage equipment. But my particular theme is that if we are serious about hi-fi, then digital audio and DSP are mandatory, and the lovely turntables and valve amplifiers must be relegated to nostalgia duties. You may disagree!

My qualifications for all this pontificating are simply that I am an ideas-oriented R&D engineer with a B.Sc.. I can wield a soldering iron, use basic woodworking tools such as a router, write software, and I have some slight knowledge of how to process signals in real time using DSP. I am also a bit musical, and can doodle on the piano.

I also think that, at heart, I am reasonably rational about this stuff – a philosophy that doesn’t quite mean what many people think it does.

In addition to the theory and practice of audio, I am also interested in vintage equipment, technology in general, the aesthetics of technology, and music.

Please post a comment. It would be great to make contact with anyone who would like to discuss the ideas behind music, hi-fi and audio.

You can also contact me directly on therationalaudiophile@yahoo.co.uk

[Last edited 02/01/18]

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10 thoughts on “About

    1. Hi Guenter. Thanks for the comment. Is it the Calf X-Over and other plugins that we’re talking about? – those are seriously good looking interfaces. Am I missing something about the control of phase, though? Could I load a phase correction curve into the system? All I see on the X-Over control panel is a knob for “phase”.

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      1. Hi.

        You are right it is a solution with calf studio gear.
        http://calf-studio-gear.org.

        At the moment with limiter, xover and equalizer. For each channel phase is by a switch but you can also adjust it by a delay wheel in ms. A curve for delay or phase is not visible. In the diagram you see db(Hz). The level for each channel can also adjusted by a wheel in db. This is visble in the diagram.

        My configuration is with 8 channel output pcm over hdmi to an 7.1 AVR .
        DA conversion is done by the AVR.

        But 8 channel analog output with a 7.1 soundcard is also possible.

        Regards

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  1. Sorry, maybe I’m misunderstanding your point, but ABX is not about aesthetic at all, is about being able to detect differences.
    The question is not do you like A or B, but can you tell A from B? And it’s considered valid only if you demonstrate you can, not otherwise.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. The way I see it, a listening test that involves music is (even if we don’t want it to be) influenced by the ‘art’ within the ‘signal’. If I am not able to distinguish between A or B while listening to a particular piece of music, it could entirely be due to my emotional reaction to the music, rather than the sound itself. The choice of music for the test is also based on someone’s opinion that it is good test material. Again, they might be influenced by their own emotional reaction to it, rather than the sound itself. I just don’t think it is ‘science’.

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  2. Mr. Rational Audiopile: You are an exceedingly intelligent observer! Please keep it up. The audio world needs a shake-up.

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  3. Your site is exactly what I’ve been looking for for a very long time – I just didn’t know how to articulate what I needed. Somewhat like you, I’ve been participating in this “hobby” (of course music can be much, much more than just a hobby like fly-fishing or collecting bottle caps) since the 1970’s, and have seen lots of things come into fashion and then leave (tubes, Class A transistors, tubes again (single-ended triodes this time), vinyl, ,CDs, vinyl again, streaming, format wars, loudness wars, blah blah blah…I even cobbled together my own tri-amped speakers, which sounded “the best in the world ever” – at least to me. But now I’m just using active speakers that come from a studio environment, meaning they’re reasonably priced, well-built, durable and work really well. (I particularly like the Pelonis gear, though the dealer that sold them thought I might find them “too accurate” – what a truly strange thing to say).
    Anyway, enough blather – I’ll be reading this avidly and even participating in the rare instances where I might have something useful to say.

    Tom
    Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

    Liked by 1 person

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