Sound Quality Discussion

Radar Love by Golden Earring (free upgrade!)

We use Radar Love for test listening quite a lot at Vertex, to develop prototypes and analyse system faults. A track like this is important because it stresses a system considerably. And we only need to have a few faults in a system to turn this track into an unpleasant mess.

Let’s consider a few specific details. First the drums – how they are played and recorded. In particular the kick drum and cymbals. The kick drum has a fast double beat and often a system loses the feeling of the quick pulses of ‘air pressure’. These pulses are smack […]

By |February 19th, 2014|Free Upgrades!, Sound Quality Discussion|0 Comments

Speakers In Corners – Or Not (free upgrade!)

It’s always a significant decision. Where do you put your speakers? There are domestic issues and sound quality issues to consider. And sure, it’s always going to be a compromise.

Elsewhere in this blog we have discussed the symmetry and accuracy issues of speaker positioning. But recently I saw a very simple and effective demo by Jeremy Baldwin of The Right Note, as he explained to a audience at a show a simple way to appreciate what can happen to the tonality of your systems sound if you put your speakers right into the corners of your listening room. […]

Why digital sources sound different

During my many years of work in Vertex AQ I have gained a very clear understanding in my mind about whether digital sources can sound different or not. And yes, they do sound very different.

There are many elements to the debate. So I thought it might be worth sharing some of my experiences and conclusions.

Lets start with the good old disc spinner. A dedicated transport, or a good quality CD player. You will hear people say that transports cannot possibly sound different. They all produce the required standard spdif signal/optical output and that’s it. Data is data, end […]

By |October 8th, 2013|Computer Audio, Sound Quality Discussion|1 Comment

Volume Stability

How your system responds to the volume control is a very clear indicator of it’s stability in terms of systematic interaction.

Roraima mains leads – key for improving system volume stability

If a system has no significant protection against microphony and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI), then it’s really not going to perform well generally. One of the major characteristics of a system in such a condition is that it will have a poor response to different volume settings. At low volume the system sounds weak and flat, there is not much tonal expression, rhythm or musical involvement. At this low level, the […]

By |August 17th, 2013|Sound Quality Discussion, Systematic Approach|0 Comments

Listening Tests

When we make a change in a system and then have a listen to that change, we rush. We seem determined to come to quick judgements about the new piece of kit – is it better or worse than the item we just replaced. Some people insist on blind tests, A/B/A or what have you. But we know from our years of experience at Vertex, that when you substitute one item for another there is a lot more going on with that change than might first be apparent.

Every individual piece of equipment in a system effects the whole system. And […]

By |August 17th, 2013|Sound Quality Discussion, System Upgrading|0 Comments

Left, Right and Central Imaging (free upgrade!)

Often an area of great confusion and debate, soundstaging and imaging is a subject that needs to be properly understood in terms of both musical presentation and hi-fi functionality. Over many years now, throughout our research and product development, we have learnt a great deal about 3D soundfield perception, the science of signal behaviour and the reproduction of signals in a stereo context.

Here let’s consider the elements of left, right and central perception. The obvious mechanism is simply a level difference between channels, but the more important one probably, is the phase difference between channels. Phase difference relates to time […]

By |August 17th, 2013|Free Upgrades!, Sound Quality Discussion|0 Comments

Dynamic Loading

When we consider the often well held view that many modern recordings are badly engineered, particularly with excessive compression, we invariably find that this is not actually the case. Sure, a lot of your pop and rock is somewhat compressed, but equally, a lot of good modern recordings are actually very good.

But modern recordings are often more dynamic, busy and energetic than those of the past. Artists and studios do have commercial pressure on them to grab the listener’s attention for sure, but they simply are not that unprofessional as to drive their hard work into masses of distortion. No, […]

By |August 8th, 2013|Sound Quality Discussion|0 Comments

Introducing Unwanted RFI

In essence, watch out for something new being introduced into the environment around your hi-fi system or house that may instantly add another source of unwanted RFI. We’ve had several conversations with customers who have been puzzled over sudden strange and unwanted drops in sound quality, only to discover that they have recently installed a new router, or their kids have a new games console.

If your going to make any equipment changes in your house, by moving or adding any computer or RF transmitting device, or anything with a potentially noisy switched-mode power supply (TV, DVD player, DAB radio), be […]

By |August 4th, 2013|Sound Quality Discussion|0 Comments

Rhythm and Timing

As we make improvements to a system, what are we expecting to achieve?

The hi-fi industry has created a large range of ‘adjectives’ to describe the improvements we hear, ranging from the obviously technical, such as accurate frequency response, to those that are essentially human, such as a better expression of emotion. Some of our descriptions are very important to understand in some detail, because they enhance our ability to analyze system performance.

‘Good imaging’ might be one example. As well as basic left/right power levels, the ability to image well is dependent on a system’s ability to retain the phase integrity […]

By |August 4th, 2013|Sound Quality Discussion|0 Comments