Sunday, May 14, 2017

Too Loud

Even the tiniest step above "real" is "too loud."  On first brush, it might seem as things get louder they get more and more immersive, you hear more and more.  But the opposite is true, beyond a point, a point even exceeded periodically in live classical music, the audition system begins to close down, like an armadillo, and one can actually discern less and less, only the stress of loudness.  Which can feel bracing, I suppose, to some.  But it's a low information thing, one big bit.

But I sensed this phenomenon hearing a demo of the Linkwitz Orion system on some fairly pedestrian electronics (22 series Marantz) playing MP3.  It was about 10 dB elevated compared with my loudest listening, 90-100dBc instead of 80-90dBc.  I sensed a loss of information specifically from the high loudness.  Of course the source material probably didn't help.  I wasn't made to feel my going electrostatic was a waste either, though the Linkwitz were clearly top shelf for dynamic speakers.  (Let's say the HPM-100 I bought very cheaply are something altogether different--a chorus of wheezes rattles squeaks and buzzes which somehow combine to form something vaguely carrying the tune of the original.  Update: my second unit has good drivers and sounds ok, and it plays loud, but I have mixed feelings except for my intended purpose as garage speaker.  Anway, There's a strange magic in how louder can sound better louder than softer beyond the point where that happens in other speakers because as they play louder, the stiff drivers become more dynamically responsive to all frequencies impressed on them magnetically, a kind of "opening up" that invites cranking up.)

But I'm getting the same sense (and moreso) from the HPM 100.  In their present evolving condition (quite a bit more wheezing and buzzing than normal, I think, due to somewhat shot drivers if nothing else).  Even ignoring any of the design or maintenance problems of this speaker, which are multifold, I can tell now that there is a too loud, and actually it's not that loud, but more like where I have generally been gravitating too, even with my unwarranted fear of digital gain.

Symphonic music occasionally throws in a sustained section of too loud, perhaps even topped by even louder boom from the drums.  That can be in the 90-100dB range with the final boom hitting 106dB or more.

But it's not always like that, not even mostly.  The median level is more like 82dB.  That's where we get the depth, sweetness, and lyricality.  The loudness elevated sections are to give the stress and passion, or sturm and drang as they say.

It's true, in some kinds of music, rock n roll and derivative and similar popular music is all about the stress and passion.  There is no sweetness.

But since we're making it up anyway, though you could argue a rock concert is "real" it isn't actually any realer than a home or studio performance.  A rock concert is a temporary drunk, listening at home is life.  So it seems to me even the all passion all the time music should remain mostly below 100dB.  And I think I'll be happy in the higher information retrieval range 75-90dB even for Rock.

That's my 5 min. assessment.  And I was going to spend years investigating this.

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