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  1. #1
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    Opinion: How important is "system dependency"?

    I may be opening a can of worms with this post, and if it has been discussed previously, my apologies.
    Basically, I'm wondering what your opinions are concerning the importance of system dependency when listening to new components. In other words, will a new disc player/amplifier/whatever make a more or less significant difference in sound depending on the associated components? We've all read the posts asking for opinions on component A vs. component B, and the varying responses ranging from "It made no difference" to "It was night and day!". One opinion saying they loved the difference it made, the next post hating it.
    I ask because I recently talked my best friend into the world of hi-fi. In price, his system is comparable to mine, but they consist of very different components, as our priorities with sound differ. Shortly after he bought his new system, I did an a/b comparison in both our systems of both our disc players. I heard a bigger difference between the two in my system than in his, and he concluded when he did his own a/b.
    Thoughts?

    Mike

  2. #2
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike That Likes Music
    In other words, will a new disc player/amplifier/whatever make a more or less significant difference in sound depending on the associated components?
    Sure it can. Either from a strictly electrical matching viewpoint or a performance standpoint. For example, if one system uses very long interconnects, it is more sensitive to the interconnect used and/or the output driving capability of the source or preamp. Similarly, my HT system is not as revealing as my main music system. Consequently, I don't use the same level of associated components and cabling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike That Likes Music
    ... but they consist of very different components, as our priorities with sound differ. Shortly after he bought his new system, I did an a/b comparison in both our systems of both our disc players. I heard a bigger difference between the two in my system than in his, and he concluded when he did his own a/b.
    My guess is that both of you hear the same differences. The choice of which is better has to do with your individual listening priorities.

    rw

  3. #3
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Yes, no, who knows...

    You really do open a can of worms here. Often you'll find that components have very subtle tonal characteristics, some by design, some not. Depending on the associated gear in your system, these may be immediately noticeable, or masked.

    You start running into a problem if, for example, you have bright sounding speakers, and buy a warm sounding amplifier, to counteract this, then have some other components that continue this see-saw battle. And who's to say what sounds better?

    An Audiologist acquaintance of mine swears that many, many studies prove the shape of a person's ear will influence the properties of the sound they hear far more than any differences between similarly priced or performing equipment. At first I was a bit skeptical at how significant this could be, but he got me to do a very simple test: simply cup your hands over the back of your ears as if you were extending the lobe (like Hulk Hogan does) and pay attention to the difference in midrange and higher frequencies...it does change a little...actually, alot more than what you'd get swapping players...and apparently, the closer to the inner ear you go, the more even slight variations to ear construct will have on perception of sound.

    This would certainly explain why two people can listen to a NAD integrated, and one find it too bright, while the other finds it too warm.

    All this reinforces the importance of not just testing equipment in-store, but in-home on your system if possible.

    It also points out how irrelevant all our opinions are on gear you are potentially interested in.

  4. #4
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    kexodusc, not only can you hear an obvious difference when cupping your hands by your ears, but try something even more subtle...(ok...this is going to sound silly) but just manipulate your ears any which way (equal of course for both ears at any given time). Push them both out just a little bit...now push them further forward...now try pushing the rear of your ears flat against your head. Move only the top up or only the bottom.

    I've always found that even small changes in manipulation to the shape of your ear has a profound effect on what I actually hear. Next time your talking with some people, take notice to the shape (and position) of their ears...there seems to be an endless combination that I have no doubt makes more difference than any component change.

    So next time someone asks how two people could walk away from the same evaluation with such differing opinions on what they heard. Just look at their ears, the answer for the differences may be as obvious as the nose on your face
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  5. #5
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    Hi Mike,

    It sounds like both of you bought a system which suits your needs/wants/preferences...not a bad accomplishment at all. But because your needs/wants/preferences may be different...you two have two systems that sound different from one another.

    Will simply having a newer player or components in a system be the cause of the change? No. While there can/are differences...age (or price) is not always indicative of a reason for that change or improvement.

    Also don't forget to take the room into account. I've seen audiophiles make mention of reviews and evaluations where the reviewer put different speakers in the same system and in the same room. The conclusion was that the amplifiers and other components performed so well that there were little changes in sound even when changing speakers. They mentioned that all the speakers sounded similar even tho the speakers were supposed to be quite different sounding.

    This not only make me suspect of that review...but all other reviews the person has ever done. The person made no mention of room acoustics or that the room was actually adding much of it's own sound on all the speakers. So don't discount the room either.

    have fun with the hobby!
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