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Stereophiles

BLE…shame on you. The Cars are/were one of the most requested party band sounds of their era and later. You obviously never drank enough partying to learn to appreciate the perpetual sameness of the rhythm in all their songs and lack of lyrical content in their compositions. Yoooo, get it on.

The notable exception being “Drive” which was one of the better rock ballads of it’s time. This tune illustrates “The Cars” social responsibility to party goers as it shows their concern for drinking and driving. The lyrics actually meant something, or not, depending upon the amount of alcohol consumed by the listeners.

"Mike, You are right when; you mention Bose to audiophiles, you get a knee jerk reaction and a plethora of negative comments. I personally feel they like other professional audio equipment companies, like JBL, have a handle on sound reproduction for most. Make it long term listenable using long standing basic techniques that minimize the abrasiveness of sounds reinforced in environments like cars. This means that the music produced lacks absolute accuracy but becomes a more pleasant experience. Bose has a good handle on this aspect of sound reproduction. “double clutch” is right; it will sound “good” but will not be as accurate.

What most don’t get is, accurate sound for most becomes very abrasive and fatiguing to listen to long term. Don’t fall for the "accurate " sound argument in a "forced to listen " environment like cars, elevators, stores and the like.

Most if not all stock high end systems in cars are tailored and equalized for the cabin space they’re in, negating some of the effects of passengers, glass, engine noise, etc. Modern ones will even try to compensate if you crank up the A/C fan in some cases, and all but the cheapest will change their equalization profile to compensate for different volume levels.

Audio is subjective. I’m pretty sure after all these years I have some high-frequency hearing loss, and I like to feel a little bass (not like a thumpin’ system playing rap), whether or not this is true to a live concert performance of whatever I’m listening to. So I bump up the highs and lows, and turn down the vocals a little. (mids)

Perhaps a true audiophile system is one that would be indistinguishable from a band in concert. But a lot of bands in concert aren’t so hot compared to their recorded media either. The best system in my opinion is one that sounds good to you, can be made to play music in that ‘sweet spot’ the way you like it, and can produce clear sounds with no distortion or flatness at any volume level from almost nil to where it becomes painful to listen to.

…and I’m OK with The Cars. They did have a somewhat unique 80s sound, and Ric Ocasic (sp?) went on to sponsor many other bands that were just starting out.

One thing I found out a long time ago is that even with the cheapest lo-fi playback equipment, 5-tube AM radio or even the speakers on a small TV, one is clearly able to identify what instrument is playing a tune. That’s because the information in the sound that identifies an instrument is not in the tone of the sound, but in the transitions from silence to tone and tone to silence, also known as the attack and decay of the sound.

If you listen to a recording of an instrument and eliminate the attack and decay by turning the volume down during those parts of the tone, it becomes surprisingly difficult to identify the instrument making the tone. It’s sort of the audio version of trying to identify the taste of a food with your nose clamped shut so you can’t smell the food.

This is one of the reasons why I have quit taking some of the audio performance specs so seriously.

Nothing wrong with “The Cars”, it just that their music got old real fast to me, but then the same is true with Van Halen.

I adjust the equalizer by playing a cd with a solo piano and adjust until it sounds natural. For some reason, the piano sound is more difficult to record and reproduce. I remember the old gramophone recordings and even the 78 rpm recordings where the piano didn’t sound quite right.
On my own equipment, if the piano sounds natural, then all the other instruments do as well.

“On my own equipment, if the piano sounds natural, then all the other instruments do as well.”

That’s a real good point. Also, nothing shows up wow and flutter on a tape deck or a turntable than piano music.

Would you, dear readers, do any post-factory stereo system modifications that would make a difference in the sound quality?

Not on a system like this. I’d set the equalization flat with the sound meter, then tweak if you find it necessary.

A really great sound system will sound great at LOW volume.

This fact just completely irks and confounds so many people around me…until they hear the difference.

My wife couldn’t see the value of a high end car system, until…

And a local radio station puts on an anual fashion show and could not determine the solution for people’s complaints. Some said they couldn’t hear well while still others said it was too loud. A little 100 watt p.a. with one speaker on each side of the stage. After all it’s just a fashion show not a concert, right ? They know me from my club and concert country rock band.
----- So I told them they needed MORE p.a. system. More speakers and a more powerful amp.
“But we don’t want to blast them.” they said looking at me like I wanted them to start a dance hall or something.
“Yes”, I said, “you want to be able to turn it down” as I pointed to their volume 8 on the baby p.a. amp ( headroom in the amp power ) AND broadcast that same volume 3 to every one in the room ( more speakers placed all around the room ). let me show you how."…

There is an element of truth to this person’s opinion. It contradicts what you see in home and car audio as promoted for profit. In the search for good sound, like a good golf swing, everyone has been hoodwinked into thinking that that both require high end/ and lots of time and money. Both are available through a little common sense, to ANYONE.

http://www.mother-of-tone.com/speaker.htm

“the information in the sound that identifies an instrument is not in the tone of the sound, but in the transitions from silence to tone and tone to silence, also known as the attack and decay of the sound.”

That’s right! Nothing whatsoever to do with overtones! That’s why pipe organs (pick a stop) are indistinguishable from the human voice, or the harmonica. Nailed it!

“Ken green” A really great sound system will produce good sound at low volumes only if two things happen. The system is capable of producing all audible frequencies at the decreased volume and two, the listener hears them. Individuals hear different frequencies differently. If a flat response is reduced intact to a lower volume, nomal hearing will not perceive that response as flat anymore, hence, the base enhancer or auto frequency adjuster on all digital receivers which make that adjustment.

The keys are to not introduce extraneous overtones anywhere along the chain during this process and good dispersion. That’s why professional audio use tons of EQ and lots of different location sampling. Many systems are now being made to do this process automatically…but regardless. If the listening environment is not dealt with successfully, all will be in vain. The car is a speaker box. Factory installed systems all have the potential of giving you the best bang for the buck, that is if they care to. The car you buy is just as important as the system you use.

Using natural fiber audio transducers and environmental reflective surfaces, does wonders in making good sound cheaply. Good sound in general in a car, is that you can live with over extended listening periods. Making speaker drivers out anything but cellulose is begging for lots of compensating adjustments. Nearly all professional musicians get this and the speakers and equipment they use reflect it. Buyers of aftermarket systems for cars often that don’t get it, spend tons of money needlessly, then convince themselves they have a great system, only to experience listening fatigue resulting in the perpetual upgrade syndrome. Do it right and learn to listen correctly.

Your pocketbook and ears will thank you.

So yet another crank sets up a website (“Mother of Tone”) to show everyone his lack of technical knowledge.

There’s a good reason only the very cheapest speakers have used plain paper cones for the last 30 years.

Crossovers are used to make up for distortion of non-paper cones? Baloney!

“sound is reflected inside the horn many times and adapts the vibrational character of the horn-material” hah!

Pseudo-science is alive and well in the world of audio.

There’s a good reason only the very cheapest speakers have used plain paper cones for the last 30 years.

Umm…Wrong…Some of the best speakers in the world have used paper and are still using paper…WHY…because it’s stable and doesn’t introduce any harmonics of it’s own. At least for low-frequency speakers…I have no idea about the credibility of mother-of-tone…but I do know that Paper has been used and still is being used today by some of the best speakers ever made…

One statement mother-of-tone made which I thought was crap…was that they said the cone material is the most important…Well maybe…but I think equally important is the frame or basket…MOST speaker companies use a stamped-steel construction…while many of the best use a cast frame construction. This makes the frame much more stable and less chance to warp. A cast frame is many times more expensive…but it’s well worth it…especially for professional speakers.

For high-frequency…the idea is to have low mass to produce good clean highs…Material like Titanium, Aluminum, Polymer or even Neodymium is used by some of the best speaker companies in their high-frequency drivers

Yep, the BS meter just pegged. A huge factor in speaker sound is the frequency response, which is the result of careful matching the various design parameters. Cone material is pretty much irrelavant in that, as long as it has the required physical properties. Many fiber cone speakers sound great.

Well guys what is your general advise for the BMW premium system? Tweek the EQ or leave everything alone (i.e. flat or at zero)? I assume they engineers at BMW did extensive music testing in the car? Do you really think the new CNBC show on BMW The Passion is reality or marketing?

"circuit smith " Sounds like a man who has invested mucho bucks in a system comprised of hype.

As Mike said, ALL of the big name makers in professional audio in their most expensive speakers use mostly or exclusively paper drivers. Generally, car speaker drivers used by Bose, JBL and most original equipment are PAPER. It has nothing to do with being cheap as the labor in stamping out metal and plastic cones is cheaper. Many professional performers demand paper drivers for their personal stage monitors. Why? Relative Accuracy and listening fatigue which could lead to long term hearing damage are important and paper tends to be one of the most stable. So, while most tweak their little Best Buy stereos at home, those of us who use and work in professional audio (I do instruction for hours on end) and work with others in the music field where we are exposed to music and require relative accuracy for hours on end, use paper. Our varied listening environments and customers “demand” it even if they are technically unaware of the difference.

As far as frame material is concerned, all decent PA equipment has cast frame construction because of the durability and high output demands. Most home audio equipment does well with stamped steel. Anything more for moderate power applications, including cars, and you have been duped. I point out the “mother of tone” article, not because I believe in every detail, but his basic assumptions and premise are correct and NO one should subject themselves or others to “accurate sound” at performance level volumes in a car for extended periods as these higher volumes are the only way you can experience them. Texases is right about frequency response.

But the fact is, in most applications, paper drivers are good enough for most environments and most other materials affect frequency response that have to be dealt with electronically. Flat does not really exist and if it did, most would not like it for long term listening.

I feel SunnyAl is right. Do yourself a favor, tweak your EQ in your OEM paper driver system and move on and save your money for the gas pump.

“the information in the sound that identifies an instrument is not in the tone of the sound, but in the transitions from silence to tone and tone to silence, also known as the attack and decay of the sound.”

"That’s right! Nothing whatsoever to do with overtones! That’s why pipe organs (pick a stop) are indistinguishable from the human voice, or the harmonica. Nailed it! "

It seems you don’t believe the importance of transients when it comes to your brain identifying the instrument playing the tune.
Many years ago, as an exercise in note reading, I took a familiar song and wrote a backwards score of that song to be played into a tape recorder. Played backwards, the tune is totally unfamiliar and so I had to actually read the notes as I was playing the song, I couldn’t cheat and play by ear or memory.
Then I ran the tape backwards to check my playing and the song sounded right but the instrument I was playing (violin) sounded totally unlike a violin because the decays of the notes were now the attacks and the attacks of the notes were now the decays.

A Hammond B3 electric organ most likely can match the overtones of a true pipe organ but you will never mistake a B3 for a pipe organ mostly because of the percussive beginnings of each note or key clicks that is sort of the signature sound of the Hammond B3. Hammond actually tried to correct this “design flaw” but the jazz and rock musicians that used this organ liked the effect so much that Hammond quit regarding this as a design flaw.

The Mellotron is an electomechanical keyboard instrument that uses a whole bunch of prerecorded tape loops to generate the tones. A whole bunch of different tape loop sets could be had including human voices.
Listen to the Mellotron intro in the Beatles song “Strawberry Fields” and tell us what instrument was used to record the tape loops in that Mellotron.

You’ve all missed the subtlety of what I said: "plain paper"
The “Mother of Tone” website shows what seems to be a 6x9 speaker from an old table top AM radio.
JBL was an early adapter of complex composite materials for driver cones, eg. the L-100 woofer back in the '70s.

“Sounds like a man who has invested mucho bucks in a system comprised of hype”</b">

My home speakers are homebrew. Similar to the Klipsch Heresy.
The electronics are competent brands, but nothing exceptional.
The speaker wires are zip cord of moderate gauge.

You’ve all missed the subtlety of what I said: “plain paper”

Yup…I missed that…You’d be amazed at the science that goes into designing speaker cone material…Many have tried different materials along the way…and most have gone back to using paper…It’s stable…it’s consistent…and very accurate.

Haven’t seen any of the new JBL speakers…I didn’t know they were using any composite materials for their woofers…I do know they used paper and are still using paper for many of their drivers today.

I too built my own speakers…Mine use all Altec Components (the real Altec Lansing). 12" woofer and CD Horn loaded compression driver…and I designed and built the crossover.

Loved the Klipsch Heresy speakers…Amazing the sound you can get out of a speaker so small.

I also built my amp (from a kit). 5 channel tube amp…a whopping 12 watts per channel…But it’s more then enough to drive my speakers to very loud levels.

Unfortunately many folks think 1,000 watts plus thumping bass makes a good car stereo. My '96 ES300 stereo is one of the better car ones I’ve heard, only extra cost was for the CD changer. I think Pioneer made it. Far better than the optional THX system in my new MKZ…grrrrrr…