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GO STEELERS!
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Blowed Up...
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I love that HU. I was about to order one for my truck and then i decided i wanted the GTO, so until I get the GTO the HU is on Hold. If you havent played with it yet you will love it. simple to use and looks much cleaner than a flip up unit.
 

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GM Tech
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GO STEELERS!
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I noticed they have a version of this that serves as a DVD/Nav/CD/MP3 Player, and then another version that serves as a Digital music hard drive.

Is their one that does all that? ie Has navigation, DVD, and a harddrive?
 

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I don't much like compression. The better the system, the worse it sounds. MP3/Atrak/WMA etc sounds passable on a crappy plastic PC speaker, but on a high end audio system its like processing filet mignon in a blender and drinking it through a straw. What we need is a HU that plays SACD. JMHO.
 

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High sample rate MP3's and WMA's sound hardly different to the ear unless in perfect listening conditions. (IE: A sound proof room with ultra high end audio) In which case, a SACD would truely make a difference, or even a standard CD. When driving around with the windows down and a beasty engine under the hood at 80mph on the highway, you'd never notice any difference between the quality of a 128kbps+ MP3 and a CD.
 

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mistermike said:
I don't much like compression. The better the system, the worse it sounds. MP3/Atrak/WMA etc sounds passable on a crappy plastic PC speaker, but on a high end audio system its like processing filet mignon in a blender and drinking it through a straw. What we need is a HU that plays SACD. JMHO.
Sounds to me like Mistermike really know Hi-Fi. Question: which is more accurate representation of live music: vinyl LPs or CDs?
 

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NewGTOFan said:
Sounds to me like Mistermike really know Hi-Fi. Question: which is more accurate representation of live music: vinyl LPs or CDs?
The question's a bit more complicated than it might appear on the surface. There are several criteria used to judge quality of reproduction, and then there's the quality of playback equipment to consider. Furthermore, if the goal is the most convincing reproduction of unamplified acoustic music in a 3 dimensional space, then the argument narrows. In the conventional arena of measured specifications like THD, S/N ratio, and response flatness, a digital storage medium is clearly superior. However, there is considerable controversy as to whether the specifications describe what we hear. Throughout the early history of electrically reproduced music, it was clear that some techniques sounded better than others. Engineers, particularly those at Bell Labs, began to attempt to quantify those differences, and came up with a series of measurements which described why some equipment sounded better than others. Most gear was dreadfully far from the ideal. Over the years, equipment, measurement techniques, and recording techniques improved dramatically. But at the same time, the industry became specification driven. The mantra became "It sounds better because it measures better." rather than "this sounds better, let's try to find out why."
When digital audio first became available to the public, the average audio system consisted of dirty records played on 4th rate turntable/tonearm/cartridge combos. A noise free, relatively undistorted playback was a godsend. However, at the same time, serious audiophiles accustomed to high precision, somewhat exotic LP playback equipment were shocked that anyone could tolerate the glassy, two dimensional sound of a CD. Over the next decade, the original philosophy of audio testing once again took hold, and engineers attempted to quantify why the sound of CD's was so irritating, when all the conventional measurements said it should sound fantastic. Phenomenon such as phase jitter, nonlinear group delay, UHF ground noise began to be examined and addressed, with much success. Unfortunately the original Red Book CD standard represents essentially 1980 technology, and a lot of the assumptions about digital sampling and audio have subsequently turned out to be inadequate.
But to return to your original question,
Outside of studio master tapes, the best sound I have personally experienced in the home has been on vinyl LP's, carefully manufactured and reproduced. CD's utilizing the best available knowledge and execution coming in second, with the bulk of commercially produced CD's much further back, and bad vinyl bringing up the rear. SACD's can be stunning when done right, but I haven't taken the plunge as of yet.
 

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Great post, Mike :) Another thing worth mentioning is that distortion in itself may or may not be offensive to the ear. In some cases, distortion is actually pleasing on the ear, where the original untouched signal may not be. For example - tube amplifiers vs. solid state amplifiers. Nearly all of the amplifiers you'll find on the shelves of your popular stores will be solid state (Best Buy and the like, even up into some of the more esoteric audio shops). Once you get into the really high end, you'll begin finding more and more tube amplifiers. Well, vacuum tubes are ancient technology, why would they be used in a $10,000+ power amp? Simple -- they sound great! Put 'em on the bench and compare it to your $200 Sony, and the Sony clowns it in specifications but sounds much more dry and lifeless. Tubes are warm and open, its a treat to listen to a good system powered by a good tube amp.
 

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It's actually the latest technology. A tube amp is the newest version of an N-channel field effect device, and analog is simply digital audio with an infinitely high sampling rate! :D
 

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Can't help ya, Sorry.
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Hey MrMike,

I have dipped my toes into SACD and DVDA. My system is not referance quality but I do notice a spectacular improvement over CD. My player, Pioneer 45A, is not a true SACD player as it converts the data stream to pulse before analog but it still produces the most natural sounding horns, cymbles and vocals I have ever heard from my home system. DVDA is simmilarly spectacular and my ears can not tell a differance that I could blame on the technology vs the recording itself.

By the By, Great Post Mike.
 

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sxty8goats said:
Hey MrMike,

I have dipped my toes into SACD and DVDA. My system is not referance quality but I do notice a spectacular improvement over CD. My player, Pioneer 45A, is not a true SACD player as it converts the data stream to pulse before analog but it still produces the most natural sounding horns, cymbles and vocals I have ever heard from my home system. DVDA is simmilarly spectacular and my ears can not tell a differance that I could blame on the technology vs the recording itself.

By the By, Great Post Mike.
The beauty of cleaning up your "front end" is that you do not need a spectacular amplifier and speakers to hear the difference. This is the principle that put the Linn Sondek on the map. Quite simply, no amp, speaker, etc. can replace information lost further back in the playback chain. When I used to sell Linn turntables, I would set up a system using the Linn table, arm, and cartridge into a mid-fi integrated amp and $600/pair bookshelf speakers. Customers could compare that to many kilobucks worth of Levinson electronics running a set of Snell A2's, all fronted by a lesser TT setup with a very expensive moving-coil cartridge or a good CD player playing the same recording. Invariably, serious, unprejudiced listeners chose the Linn system as being more musically satisfying.
 

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Mistermike, thanks for the reply! Brains, you have well stated what my initial thoughts were when I posted the question. Way back in the mid 80s I being a poor kid just out of college wondered into an unbelievable hi-fi shop. CD technology had just come out. I had the fortunate opportunity to listen to about five or six different tube based hi fi systems each costing $10K+. The gentlemen in the shop played several different LPs on each of the systems and the sound reproduction was phenominal (sp?). I closed my eyes and the music was "alive". The CDs he played pailed in comparison to the LPs ability to recreate the music. Note: both CD and LP were compared on the same system. To this date, I still desire to buy a real hi-fi system (tube based) someday!

Given my limited understanding of the technology, I believe the difference is essentially in that digital music is an approximation of the live analog sound. A digital recording will always be incorporating some error due to the digital square wave approximation of the analog wave of the music. Hence, an LP played on a high quality tube based pre-amp/amp, phono and catridge system will always be more real than any digital system. I know that the S/N ration, and all the rest of that non-sense tends to favor the digital stuff, but it is like that supreme court justice said about porn, I know when I see it. Well with music, I have never heard anything like the "old-fashioned" tube based systems in my life! I am sad that old hi-fi shop closed it's doors sometime ago. Maybe someday I will own a real hi-fi system just like I finally own a GTO!
 

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good stuff, but off topic. The HU is nice, although I understand the hard drive space is not as advertised; it's much less.

Re: MP3 being inadequate due to it's compression causing distortion... that's a common opinion from folks who consider themselves audiophiles. No disrespect intended to anyone here, but come on... its in a car stereo where noise and spacial dimensions are against you. Use good amps, HU and speakers and you will have a great sound quality for a car. I speak from experience on this as I have an MP3/WMA system and it sounds phenominal.

Re: analog source and amps... true - the analog amplification (kept within the linear curve of the amp) is cleaner and more accurate than it's digital bretheren, but your ear will not know the difference on quality systems. What most audiophiles hear on hi end tube amps etc, is typically just plain ole phase shifting; which adds a 'dimension' to the sound. The perception of 'better' is in the spacial distortion of the source signal; not the accurate reproduction of said source.

So get a quality HU for your car and enjoy the portability of music in the digital format; save over priced tube amplification for your homes. :)
 

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NewGTO,
Your evaluation of the musical experience led you to a conclusion. In a sense, the less you think or care about the technology, the easier it is to just use your ears. I believe that digital sampling technology has the potential for fabulous reproduction. Unfortunately, the limits of human perception were not investigated before the technology was standardized. Along the same lines, I have heard some beautiful sounding solid state electronics. It's just easier to do with tubes.
It's too bad you're little hi-fi shop closed up. Unfortunately, true music loving audiophiles have become a rare breed. The high-end boom of the 80's was largely fad/status driven, and eventually gave way to the "home theater" and multiroom audio phenomenon. Add to that the fact that most music today is 100% synthetic in nature, the criterion of "real" no longer has any validity. Classical and acoustic jazz lovers have virtually no market influence in the grand scheme of things. The shop I used to work for fell victim to the same trend. Ironically, the founders of the shop (long dead) were the original "home theater" buffs. As far back as the late 60's, they watched films on 35 millimeter projectors in their modest homes, using original theatrical prints.
 

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Josephra,
I absolutely concur that an automobile is not a critical listening environment deserving of much consternation, unless that is one's hobby. And to pull it all the way back on topic, in the final analysis, I'd much rather hear the motor :D
I would respectfully disagree with the assertion that tube amps sound good due to a simple phase anomaly. Phase response has been well understood since the early 40's. My home system uses Quad ESL-63 electrostatic speakers whose time domain behavior looks like someone drew it with a ruler. They are driven by a pair of Futterman H3-aa tube amps that have no transformers, the chief source of phase distortion. The only amps I ever heard that sounded better with this speaker were a pair of Levinson No 20's that were well beyond my budget. They were a transistor mono unit with the proverbial "DC to light" bandwith, unmeasurable phase shift anywhere near the passband, and behave as a textbook voltage source down to less than 1 ohm. In other words, a solid state audio engineer's wet dream. They sounded even more 3 dimensional than my tube amps on recordings that preserved that subtle information.
 

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mistermike said:
Josephra,

I would respectfully disagree with the assertion that tube amps sound good due to a simple phase anomaly. Phase response has been well understood since the early 40's. My home system uses Quad ESL-63 electrostatic speakers whose time domain behavior looks like someone drew it with a ruler.

Didn't mean to imply tube amps only sound better due to phase shifting; that was a little too general. It's only a contributing factor. But, tubes do introduce phase shifts and delays via the cathode plates and control grids. There are many factors that contribute 'charactoristics' to the amp. I've always been fascinated how the amplification of electrical and electromagnetic fields are so different when turned into sound. All waves in nature are the same and operate on the same physics principles; still sound can vary sooo much. I can only guess it's the human ear. 'course, I'm no expert on the subject - just an over opinionated guy w/ some basic understanding of electrons.

I too love tube amps and can't wait for the day to have a proper studio/theater room. Till then; I'm pleased there are quality and affordable alternatives. Why are tube amps so dang'd expensive anyway? It's not like they are more difficult to make than silicon. Must be darn'd good marketing. :)
 

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They're expensive for several reasons. There are only a couple of tube plants left on the planet, and the best tubes are often hand picked from a large lot. The prices for new tubes are very high. The manufacturers of tube audio gear are often very small outfits who are engaged in a labor of love and must, by definition, cater to the high end crowd, who are the only people who buy this stuff. That means high end transformers, components, chassis, packaging, and cosmetics. There's no economy of scale because these things are hand built in such small numbers. Dynaco and Eico were great in their day. Fabulous sound in a plain brown wrapper. Unfortunately that market has evaporated. I only hope there is enough ongoing appreciation of that sound to keep the remaining tube factories running.
 

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mistermike said:
There's no economy of scale because these things are hand built in such small numbers. Dynaco and Eico were great in their day. Fabulous sound in a plain brown wrapper. Unfortunately that market has evaporated. I only hope there is enough ongoing appreciation of that sound to keep the remaining tube factories running.
/nod - that certianly makes sense; thanks for the insight. I have a feeling the high end market will remain, even if small on the percentage scales. Let's hope the few places left stay above water.
 

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Man, my days of working with tubes intended for the opposite end of the spectrum are long past, but I still remember them fondly :) My experience wasn't in high-end audio, but instead in the music industry. I was a technician who repaired the stuff and often spent quite a bit of time with a musician setting up his amp, trading out tubes and re-biasing the amp to get just the right tone. We'd go through boxes and boxes of tubes from different countries trying to find the perfect match from preamp to power stage, to find just what he wanted. Then on the opposite end of the spectrum, I was repairing the (then very new to the market) digital amplifiers -- amps that employed very high-frequency switching of high current MOSFETS to build the output signal (ie. Peavey DECA amplifiers). There weren't too many people who understood those and could make 'em live in the field. ;) They still sounded like crap though ... lol. For solid state, I still have a soft spot for the old Crown 300A .. For what it is, its a good sounding little power amp.
 
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