# Excellent Quality --- Distortion? WTF.

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In the vinyl vs digital post Nahash mentioned that Unclemeat likes distortion. True statement technically isn't it.. I like my distortion as well. In reality , Greg measurers things and would know that adding a tube buffer after a CD player would make its measured performance worse if I'm not mistaken.. None the less many of us enjoy them. Same with turntables vs CD or even solid state vs tube amps. I love the sound of tube amps although its common for them to have near .5% distortion at full power. A solid state may have measurements 10 or 100 times better for distortion. I thought it was interesting that Greg, being scientific and dealing with measurements, was stating a fact that could almost sound critical of Unclemeat, although the fact is, that many of us enjoy certain types of distortion. Some types may sound more life like. It's not a perfect sonic word that we live in daily. There are different types of distortion and I know little about them, other than some can be perceived as good, and others as bad. Distortion can be like added spices to food. Sounds crazy but I think its the truth.. Nahash, do you know which one's are more common to perceive as good or lifelike? Like the ones added by a tube buffer.

Stickers

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Someday....there will be the home stereo equivalent of a guitar sampling amps 200+ "voices" and/or a profile library to load into your 24 or 32bit DSP EQ and/or Crossover. The EQ's and Crossovers are available now, but your would need to know how to set all the parameters to get the desired effect or profile.

And then of course, an additional offset table for our hearing test results.

With or without the Single Malt effect?

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And then of course, an additional offset table for our hearing test results.

Is there anything we can do to offset our hearing limitations.  I can't hear high frequencies. It doesn't matter how loud you turn it up, I don't hear it.  So an equalizer isn't going to help.  My left ear is worse than my right.

Like myself most people have sensory neurologic damage  (chemicals like Aspirin, physical damage from loud noises, health conditions like diabetes, HBP can all damage the nerves) and the high frequency sensory nerves are most susceptible,  is there anything we can do to replace what's lost.  Can an audiologist do anything for us? Or are we shit out of luck?

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is there anything we can do to replace what's lost.  Can an audiologist do anything for us? Or are we 5hi7 out of luck?

Like with a lot of our problems, the only cure may be Alien Intervention

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I think that first, you should define distortion at least as it applies to sound reproduction. This is by no means official, yet, I see distortion as any deviance from a pure (undistorted?) signal. That would involve many possibilities, possibly a bass or treble control moved 'away' from the intended reproduction, rather than helping to correct an anomaly causing a variance in the signal in the first place.  Being true to the original signal may not be as we want to hear, and THAT is where is it is up to us to follow our taste rather than a graph, or someone else's taste. Having said that, you have to start somewhere, and that may well mean that a flat frequency response for example is first goal, then altering it to our taste/hearing/preference.

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Is there anything we can do to offset our hearing limitations.  I can't hear high frequencies. It doesn't matter how loud you turn it up, I don't hear it.  So an equalizer isn't going to help.  My left ear is worse than my right.

Like myself most people have sensory neurologic damage  (chemicals like Aspirin, physical damage from loud noises, health conditions like diabetes, HBP can all damage the nerves) and the high frequency sensory nerves are most susceptible,  is there anything we can do to replace what's lost.  Can an audiologist do anything for us? Or are we 5hi7 out of luck?

Sorry to hear this chiro; do you know what the highest frequency is that you can still hear?  Hearing aids can be tuned to help in the vocal range but I don't know if they would help or make an audio system sound worse since you are putting an amplifier between the room and your ear.

I've got similar concerns I think I'm getting tinnitus in both ears.  I try to keep the volume at moderate levels so I don't make it worse than it already is.

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Even-order harmonic distortion can be so pleasant that back in the 1970s the Aphex Aural Exciter was very popular in recording and broadcast specifically because it was designed to generate and add these harmonic distortions!

Well that explains a-lot about why recordings from the 50's and 60's sound so sweet. They added distortion back to recordings that were designed to be played primarily on vinyl records, via SS amplifiers. I wonder how deep this rabbit hole goes with an all-tube system. Of course the Carver "t/TFM" mods help get us closer to that than most other SS amps.

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Nothing above 13,000 Hz

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Normal hearing loss with age drops hearing of highs from 20kHz down to around 15kHz; my max is about 18kHz but notes that high are almost painful to hear for any duration. I can understand how it would be annoying to not be able to hear say a triangle or the the top end of chimes or flutes. I'm praying that my tinnitus (if that's what it is) does not become a permanent problem, when starts I can't hear anything but the ringing.

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First of all, I recently had a hearing test, and found what I already knew to be true. My hearing is not what it used to be. Maybe that explains why I am no longer annoyed by someone turning a page of a newspaper, or other distractions that used to be everywhere.

Now, mind you, that I Cringe! even as I type this, but I should at least express what I am finding in just the few minutes that I have begun to audition a device from about 20 years ago. It was made by Acoustic Research, and I heard one 15 years ago, and didn't like it. It is called an 'AR Sound Enhancer', which has a particularly bad ring to it's name. I bought it on Ebay for $45 shipping included, and it indeed had never had the box opened. Let me try to skip pass the BS, and get to the point. Think of it as a loudness control. It is a transformer device that increases the signal level (I hate that part), and adjusts, if you will, the frequency response to increase bass and treble. Because of this, I can play my system a little louder before I find the midrange to be particularly edgey. That has been a problem for my ears for some time now.Using an old Yamaha SACD player, and a solid state amp, it comes out better than it did before. The reason that mention this is for Chiro, who might benefit from the device. At this price, it may be worth a try. #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites The short answer - human hearing is complex. And I mean that in the most grounded sense of the word - it is not fully understood, and what is understood is 'non-linear'. The frequency response of my ear will not match yours, or anyone else's. We are as diverse in our hearing as our faces and hair. However...and this is a big however, there are trained ears, and untrained ears. There are also damaged ears, and slightly damaged ears. There are also zillions of different reasons why people like certain sounds over others, very much like all the musical preferences out there. So, like so many things, we have some universals mixed with variability. No fly is alike if you look closely, but they all seem the same from a distance. Are you with me? I like distortion too. I grew up in the 80's and Eddie Van Halen was like God for about 3 years of my life. I fucking loved his ruthless, rebellious fuck you I'm having fun Dirt shit guitar tone. It was incredible. My dad hated it. It wouldn't have mattered what stereo I put that music in - wouldn't have mattered at all. My dad is as close to me genetically more than anyone - yet we weren't hearing the same thing. How is that? That's the 'Better' part of what you're hearing. It's subjective, and it's okay. It's part of who you are, and no one can take it from you. But it isn't atomistic...it isn't universal. It's you. Now, what about when I hear the same recording on the FM, then on LP (which I had all the VH LPs up to F.U.C.K.), then to CD, then mp3, then FLAC, then I change my system, different speakers, different amps, etc. Sounds different every time right? Pretty much? Did you even bother looking close to find the differences and why? Probably not, but the reality is some media, and systems, deliver the signal with more faith than others - and here's the key... we may never, ever have experienced true fidelity before. But, we may have come close. So lets go back to the 80's again. Short story...I grew up on Pioneer, Technics, JVC - you know, the mass produced 'everyone had one' stuff. Affordable stereo. But, then I heard VH on a Carver M1.0t, on CD, in a Denon player (when they were awesome) and Keff speakers. Holy shit. Something was different. It was fidelity. That's what I heard and that's what I wanted. But I couldn't afford it...so I faked it for a while...then I ended up here, and now I still can't figure out how to get that sound again... Perhaps, it was just a magical experience, and that's all it was. It was just me, and not really the true fidelity I thought it was. But it's out there...guarded by high walls that take a fortune to climb...or, just very solid knowledge about how this stuff really works. Enter... The Carversite. Here's where we find out and share experience. Try it, like it or not, it's part of the adventure. So just be happy with your stuff. Listen to the music, not the gear. That's how you fell in love with music to begin with right? And when you're ready to change, go ahead. Keep what you like. But don't disregard the facts...they won't ever change. But you will. #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Stickers So just be happy with your stuff. Listen to the music, not the gear. That's how you fell in love with music to begin with right? #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Nice story Greg, I can fully relate. I grew up in the VH era loving their music too (parents hated it also)! My family had a 1967 RCA console stereo with tube amp but it only had a tuner and a record player. My Mother worked for the local RCA distributor, if she hadn't my parents would not have been able to afford it. In 1967 the wholesale price of it was ~$500, it was their TOTL TV/Stereo colsole.

In the early 80's, right about the time I was getting interested in music, we got a SS Fisher rack system (low-end) with the tape deck for all of our walkman/car tapes. It sounded OK but the RCA had much richer sound; I didn't know why at the time, and took little notice. A friend's father had an NAD/NHT set with the first CD player I ever heard but it also didn't have the rich sound of the old RCA. Late 80's roll around and I heard a Carver system at a party with Bose 901's and was VERY impressed, it sounded like that RCA console from long ago. I bought my Carver/Magnepan set in the early 90's after listening to other brands because it sounded better, it was more lifelike and warmer.

The tubes in the 490t are a joy to listen to. It's taken my CD listening experience above the level of my Vinyl. It's taken me back to the sound of that RCA set, with all the advantages of CD's while the TFM-45 and ALS Hybrids are better suited to deliver the power, range, and detail. To my ears the slight 0.5% harmonic distortion added by the tubes (NOT heavy over-driven guitar distortion) adds wonderful timbre, soundstage and warmth to everything. I've got one pair of Amperex D-Getters that are just mind blowing (to my ears).

This is where I'm at in the journey, and I'm happy to be here and only slightly (.5%) distorted! Others may have a different opinion about how distorted I am!

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Guys - there's more involved in the 'tube sound' than 0.5% distortion. That's only part of the picture...a very thin sliver actually.

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Stickers

So true. The old stuff is fascinating. Think 'Futterman'.

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Could you tell us more Greg? I'd be very interested in learning why tubes sound so different, I'm sure many reading this thread would like to learn about the inner workings of tube buffers/amps also.

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I'm not trying to steer this thread off course but thought this might be an interesting clip for those who were reading the thread. Wasn't sure where it might fit in, but ...........

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Stickers

Yeah, a couple of hours per day standing in front of a wall of guitar amps, drums and stage monitors will do that. Those guys should be wearing OSHA earmuffs. If the audience is leaving with cottony ears just think what it's like for the band.

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Interesting reading about distortion and tubes as they pertain to guitar amps. Totally different than HiFi.. They talk about hard they have to overdrive tubes, before they "bloom".. It seems that tubes have a tough life in guitar amps. I don't think I would by "vintage" tubes from a guitar guy.

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Stickers

I have a friend that plays a mean guitar and he's the one that showed me that just about any serious guitarist uses Tube amplifiers.

This was a shock to me since they have a limit to how loud they can play.

If you like classic rock and thus electric guitar as the main musical instruments, it makes total sense that distortion is a part of music and that we are actually used to it.

I basically keep my Tube Buffer on all the time. I'll turn it off once in a while, when listening to vinyl but otherwise it stays on when using both of my CD players and for all music except Classical that I have learned to really like as I gotten older.

I can empathize with those losing there hearing as my Dad can't really hear the true highs anymore. All I can think of is to adjust a bit with the tone controls or buy speakers that use aluminum tweeters as they are usually really bright with the highs.

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I have a friend that plays a mean guitar and he's the one that showed me that just about any serious guitarist uses Tube amplifiers.

This was a shock to me since they have a limit to how loud they can play.

If you like classic rock and thus electric guitar as the main musical instruments, it makes total sense that distortion is a part of music and that we are actually used to it.

You're talking about sound generation - that is not at all related to sound reproduction.

Apples to Oranges comparison.

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Stickers

I have a friend that plays a mean guitar and he's the one that showed me that just about any serious guitarist uses Tube amplifiers....
In the 80's and 90's Marshall made a line of hybrid "Valvestate" amps with valve preamps and SS amps.
They were very capable of emulating the tube sound but they didn't sell very well.

....This was a shock to me since they have a limit to how loud they can play....
Stand in front of a cranked Fender Twin or Marshall half stack and tell me they don't play loud enough.

Seriously though, most guitarists/bassists in bands who play large venues employ huge stacks of chained amps.
(Or they mike one or a few amps and feed that through the sound system.)

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RichP wrote a nice long post on the subject HERE .

There's a Wikipedia entry devoted to "Tube Sound" HERE .

And there's been a long history of pedals (Rockman, Tubester), processors, and plug-ins to mimic the effect.

FWIW Nelson Pass wrote that in his experience, one third of people preferred a little even order distortion, one third preferred a little odd-order distortion, and a third preferred none. I'm not sure if that means with all program material, all gear, under all conditions, all the time...

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