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Bcdesign

Timing and rhythm

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Hey guys, 

Can someone explain how equipment can’t “keep up” or doesn’t show rhythm?

ive seen this particularly in reviews for amplifiers. 
Amps are just amplifying the sound of the source. How can timing or rhythm be effected? 
Furthermore, shouldn’t speakers be responsible for soundstage and detail?

Little help?

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Sorry, can't explain it, but it's real.

 

Sometimes it's just a recording, but the right combo of kit can get the band boogieing together so your foot taps like a mid 80's Linn dealer...

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i think it is synergy you are refering to, why does one combination of gear sound ( different/better/worse) than another, there are many factors involved, size of power supply, type of output device, size of speakers, sensitivity of speakers. Reviews are an indication  of someone else's view of the equipment. I have read reviews and went and listened to the equipment with the same tracks used for review, to see if i could understand the reviewers perspective of what they were hearing, i have not always seen/heard it the same way, we are all different, otherwise we would all have the same equipment

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In addition to many listeners accounts there are lots of discussions and articles on the subject such as:

 

https://www.stereophile.com/content/pace-rhythm-dynamics-page-2

 

https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/can-an-amp-have-pace-rhythm-and-timing.157889/

 

https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/what-do-audiophiles-mean-when-they-talk-about-pace-rhythm-timing.701989/

 

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/amp-timing

 

Subjectively, it is commonly said or claimed the speaker also accounts for a lot and you need amp and speakers to achieve good timing and rhythm.

 

Quoting one of the posters Agitator from the above links this appears to describe it technically for the amp:

 

I personally believe that when people talk of "PRaT" (what a silly term) they are mainly referring to a couple of measurable characteristics which mainly pertain to amplification and speakers. Perhaps the subtleties are mostly imperceptible, but there are measurable quantities that directly pertain to the idea. The term PRaT is obviously an invented one, as what qualitative descriptors are not? It is a qualitative way of describing a couple of attributes:

- transient response: the time it takes the system to go from 0V to xV. This varies with the frequency of the input signal, i.e., the transient response for low frequencies is often different than that of high frequencies. This can affect a number of perceived things. For example, slow transient response (referred to as slew rate in reference to electrical responses) can affect the "snap" of a snare, or the initial attack of an upright bass, or kick drum. A deliberate and real-world analogue of this is during the mix stage of a record where mix engineers will use compressors as a way of controlling the initial attack of an instrument. These changes affect our perception of the timing and cohesiveness of an ensemble significantly. Obviously in a mixing situation this is an artistic choice, but the same principles apply to the transient response of your equipment: it is modifying the initial attack of instruments.

Another way the transient response (slew rate) of your equipment can be related to the concept of "PRaT" is the fact that transient response is not linear across the entire frequency spectrum. I explain above how this characteristic can affect our perception of the attack, and thus the (micro) timing of a sound. When these transient responses differ across the frequency range of the equipment, then it is conceivable that we will perceive very small differences in the timing between instruments in an ensemble that occupy primarily different frequency ranges. For example, if the low frequency transient response is significantly longer/slower than that of the high frequency response it is possible we could hear the upright bass as being out of time with the hi-hat or vice versa. These differences are often very, very subtle, but they may be perceivable.

- system resonances/system ringing: somebody touched on this above in their allegory of placing an isolation platform below their turntable. Whereas the transient response of a system can affect the attack of a sound, the system's resonances can affect the perception of the release (or end) of a sound. A real-life analogue would be a choir. Choirs place great emphasis on the timing of both the start and ends of their text. If a choir starts a word perfectly on time, but the end consonant is not exactly in time we perceive that as a smearing of the note. When both the attack and release of the sound is perfectly in time we perceive the ensemble as much more cohesive on a whole. You can extend this analogy to an electrical system where uncontrolled resonances affect the perception of the timing of signals”

 

Edited by Al.M

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Bad dancers do not believe it exists.A lot of wealthy audiophiles seem to be bad dancers. 

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1 hour ago, Bcdesign said:

How can timing or rhythm be effected? 

It's not actually affected.....  It's just the way people hear/describe certain types of "bad sound".... perhaps it's a severe peak/dip in the frequency response, or compromised dynamic range, or..... 

 

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Timing is for me an interesting subject in hi-fi. Too much transient attack sounds unnatural, and many CD players and DACs, and amplifiers with very high slew rates, are guilty of this. A lot of people think that the faster the attack, the better the timing. Not so. 

 

In a good system, the reproduction of a small jazz ensemble will get the toes tapping because of the life-like transient response of individual instruments. When snare and hi-hat, a trumpet, a sax, enter and overlap, you can clearly hear the different moments - or times - that they do so. Looser rhythms, if you will. You can hear the start, harmonic middle, and decay of each note so that there's a relaxed space between them. In jazz terms - the band really swings! 

 

In a poorer system, these rhythmic overlays sound artificially tight, and the instruments interact like synced midi devices.

 

In this respect, a digital waveform has a harder job than pure analogue (I'm not technically qualified to talk about jitter, noise etc). In general, a good turntable has better timing than a CD player. 

 

One of the best digital systems I've heard comprised a Metronome disc spinner, Boulder pre- and power-amp, and Kharma floorstanders. The timing was excellent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by was_a

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9 hours ago, Bcdesign said:

Hey guys, 

Can someone explain how equipment can’t “keep up” or doesn’t show rhythm?

ive seen this particularly in reviews for amplifiers. 
Amps are just amplifying the sound of the source. How can timing or rhythm be effected? 
Furthermore, shouldn’t speakers be responsible for soundstage and detail?

Little help?

A conventional amplifier should faithfully amplify a  small AC (Alternating Current)   signal to be a larger resemblance of that same AC signal. Conventional amplifiers though are voltage amplifying devices and DO NOT account for the loudspeaker correctly.  A better design of amplifier would see it as assessing the current from the loudspeaker load and applying feedback from the loudspeaker to correct that load:   

 

The AC signal is however sadly already different to the source providing, as a result of the mainstream industries steadfast adoption of many authors economic ideas concerning how a signal can be attenuated  this is where the problems with timing start. If we want to explore even deeper though  we can look at timing related to the source component as well, which then would look at mechanisms of distortion such as jitter in digital circuitry. Malcolm Hawksfords discussions

give insight:  

  

For brevity's sake lets assume the source component is reasonably trustworthy as to not to have excessive timing errors we need to look at what happens after the source.  If we view beyond the source  attenuation is one such example we can see mechanisms for non linearity .  Mary Hallock Greenwalt is one such author who's good ideas were borrowed to suit another purpose , her patented invention the rheostat    https://patents.google.com/patent/US1357773  was intended for a instrument to reproduce visual music  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Hallock-Greenewalt

 

We can see though her invention reallocated  by the electronics industry forms the basis of a good proportion of volume controls in audio equipment. There is wrong assumption this 100 year old method entirely suits today's needs of attenuating audio signals which it was never intended to do . We can see one brave person raising the question of potentiometer distortion here:  https://pinkfishmedia.net/forum/threads/alps-potentiometers-gain-and-distortion.68076/ 

 

     

Can we view any non linearity distortion as being related to timing - IMO the two are intertwined. IMO timing or the lack of dealing with timing in circuitry contributes to non linearity.  

 

With attenuation we can remove contacts altogether. The three methods removing contacts  are:  attenuating magnetically , using semiconductors such as mosfets or fets to work as voltage controlled resistors, or to use light dependent resistors that vary resistance with more or less light intensity.    

 

Similar to cheap inappropriate ways of attenuating AC signals, the same industry driven cheap methods of using DC in circuits, persists:

  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltage_source

"An ideal voltage source is a two-terminal device that maintains a fixed voltage drop across its terminals. It is often used as a mathematical abstraction that simplifies the analysis of real electric circuits. If the voltage across an ideal voltage source can be specified independently of any other variable in a circuit, it is called an independent voltage source. Conversely, if the voltage across an ideal voltage source is determined by some other voltage or current in a circuit, it is called a dependent or controlled voltage source. A mathematical model of an amplifier will include dependent voltage sources whose magnitude is governed by some fixed relation to an input signal, for example.

 

Even in this Wikipedia explanation of a ideal voltage source we can see little is being said about a uncontrolled voltage source, which has the same propensity for existing where any DC signal is different. Exampled by wiring or distance from its origin namely if we view this at its best a battery, its  terminals we can see there is much scope for DC to depart from its ideal origins . As example there is wrong assumption that a DC signal remains entirely consistent and circuitry can resort to just capacitance to act as localized storage and like a band aid, and magically all will be well.   This article by Cyril Bateman explains mechanisms for distortion in capacitors   https://linearaudio.nl/sites/linearaudio.net/files/Bateman EW 08 2003 distortion v time v bias.pdf

 

The study of transmission lines  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmission_line  we find much care or gentle approach to harnessing very high frequencies.  If we borrow these same good ideas for use at lower frequencies are we wasting our time ?  No it would seem as Cyril Bateman discusses here   http://www.waynekirkwood.com/images/pdf/Cyril_Bateman/Bateman_Speaker_Amp_Interaction.pdf

and the forum itself has discovered here:    

 

This short look at AC signal and DC in circuits  of course all relates directly  to timing and departure from timing. If we look at methods to correct timing we need to use components that can turn on to supply DC locally.  Thyristors in DC circuits as I discuss here  in relation to LDR's  offer one method to achieve this 

 

 

Thyristors and triacs have ability to time the arrival of DC to be placed in circuits at the correct moment. the basic operation of them see's current and voltage to a gate terminal which then turns on the anode terminal toward the cathode. Without thyristors  we are at the mercy of DC to be everywhere at the same time - which has consequences in how audio is then reproduced with respect to circuitry components using that DC at the correct time when passing signal AC 

 

Also planar speakers or speakers that are omnidirectional would appear as assisting our correlation of sound. In this video we see the ability of the MBL speaker to accurately reproduce very fine detail in music, and to offer a better engineering approach ( note at very high cost ) 

  

 

David Blackmer  similarly refers to the importance of time, . David explores what we can hear and how to meet its needs in full: 

  

  

Edited by stereo coffee

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Read up on "Slew Rates" and "Damping Factors"

As a retired DJ my ear is particularly sensitive to pace and timing.  It's not voodoo though, it's very measurable.

Edited by DJGopal

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the rhythm of MJ's Wanna be Starting' Somethin'  has a complex interplay between instruments/sounds at opposite ends of the freq - bass and chirpy percussion etc. If the system is not cohesive, the shekre (i think they call them) on far right of sound stage can "feel" out of sync. like the player cant quite keep up. On other systems it adds s nice degree of tension. 

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It all comes down to sense of rhythm.  Some people are born with it, in many cases it has been learn. You can learn in when practising playing instrument with Metronome.

Try Metronome on smartphone (free app).

The sense of rhythm is a curse and blessing at the same time. For anybody sensitive about rhythm slow amps are not acceptable. 

While many artist are constantly using accelerando and ritardando in many situation all instruments have to be on time. 

Some amplifiers don't keep up in bass section with mids and heights. It creates illusion of slowness.  

Sometimes is hard to say unless you have 2 amps next to each other for comparison. 

Some brands are paying extra attention to timing others don't care at all. 

I tried Mozart symphony no 40.  Violins at the top and cellos and double basses at the bottom or  Nils Lofgren band bass and drum intro.

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On 11/12/2019 at 10:01 PM, Bcdesign said:

Amps are just amplifying the sound of the source. How can timing or rhythm be effected? 

It can't. More audiophile imagined boogeymen.

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5 hours ago, A9X said:

It can't. More audiophile imagined boogeymen.

It would be idyllic if cost saving measures were not implemented by manufacturers, but sadly that is not the case. Cost saving with components that are not tailored sufficiently, then reflect in perceived audio quality.  

 

As example the Quad 306 power amplifier, can you tell me what is wrong with the biasing arrangement to the base of  TR2 ? 

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58 minutes ago, stereo coffee said:

It would be idyllic if cost saving measures were not implemented by manufacturers, but sadly that is not the case. Cost saving with components that are not tailored sufficiently, then reflect in perceived audio quality.

How about you show me a measured example of an amplifier with I/O timing differences that can be heard by a human.

 

59 minutes ago, stereo coffee said:

As example the Quad 306 power amplifier, can you tell me what is wrong with the biasing arrangement to the base of  TR2 ? 

Please explain how it's relevant to the discussion at hand.

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This just another example of people struggling to describe, non-scientifically, what they are hearing.  Like when I asked what is "warm" sound.  If you take the terminology literally it does not make sense.  You have to be prepare to substitute your own terms for the ones they are using, and because not everyone agrees on what they mean, it results in confusion.  There is no agreed upon lexicon for this hobby :) 

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1 hour ago, A9X said:

How about you show me a measured example of an amplifier with I/O timing differences that can be heard by a human.

 

Please explain how it's relevant to the discussion at hand.

In my longish post I inferred very little is presently done to address timing issues. For instance buying a current driven amplifier arranged with the loudspeaker as the assessed load is just possible, but don't expect to see them on shop shelves whilst voltage amplifiers continue being purchased.

 

The ideal amplifier that would begin to address timing issues would see either a separate transformer and DC regulated supply or at the very least a separate transformer winding and DC supply  tailored to the amplifiers front end. 

 

Presently though the majority of amplifiers arrange components to reduce current and voltage in antique ways to arrange DC current and voltage to the front end - originating from the same supply that is also providing to the output stage.  If manufacturers begin to address the front end as being vastly separated we would start to see recognition of the importance of timing. 

 

The Quad 306's components chosen for TR2 cater exactly for the provision of the 6v8 zener diode, but NOT the transistor or current source CR2 that ironically  the zener and resistor arranged is supplying .  The problem is 14 x too much current at that point. We can see if we cater for the transistor and the current source  properly their parameters as components, begin to be fully realised.  Quads choice of a resistor and zener diode was one of economics. Where we instead care for voltage and current we then get a better result. However if we use any component because it can supply voltage appropriately we have failed to care for current provision - cater for both and hey presto what improves is the ability of the amplifier to be a excellent amplifier vs a good amplifier. There is general agreement the Quad 306 is a good amplifier.  

 

How do I know this effects timing - I have one channel of 2x Quad 306 amps modified with provision to TR2 and CR2 correctly and the other channel of each amp standard.  The modified channel is continuously used - the standard channel remains presently not used. 

 

You are sure to ask for measurements - sorry you will just have to try it yourself. But assured it makes sense to supply correct current to components- if not we need to then rewrite electronics theory to have allowance related to economics, and that would be a very sad day.  

   

  

 

  

Edited by stereo coffee

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10 hours ago, A9X said:

It can't. More audiophile imagined boogeymen.

Bull puckey.

 

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Just a change in tonearm on my Garrard 401 from generic gimballed arm to a unipivot drastically impacted on the PRaT of my replay chain.

Some people spend too much time looking at oscilloscopes and not enough time listening to music...

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53 minutes ago, DJGopal said:

Bull puckey.

 

And your empirical evidence is?

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On 11/12/2019 at 11:08 PM, davewantsmoore said:

It's not actually affected.....  It's just the way people hear/describe certain types of "bad sound".... perhaps it's a severe peak/dip in the frequency response, or compromised dynamic range, or..... 

 

It's a fascinating question (I think).

I've heard systems that definitely get my toes tapping more than others. But it can't actually be that any timing is out… that would manifest differently - and how could it be possible that the sound of a drum or a snare gets delayed relative to anything else… simply can't happen.

 

So what is happening I wonder?

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12 minutes ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

It's a fascinating question (I think).

I've heard systems that definitely get my toes tapping more than others. But it can't actually be that any timing is out… that would manifest differently - and how could it be possible that the sound of a drum or a snare gets delayed relative to anything else… simply can't happen.

 

So what is happening I wonder?

Enjoyment (of the music).  Failure to find an adequate expression to express why, new terms are invented.

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1 hour ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

how could it be possible that the sound of a drum or a snare gets delayed relative to anything else… simply can't happpen.

I think it's more noticeable with floorstandings going down to 35Hz or lower.

One thing that is happening is some amps don't send signal at the same time for height, mid and bass frequency. In consequence usually the bass is behind/late.

Shell we say there are 3 instruments (flute piccolo, violin and double bass).  On some parts of music all instruments have to have even timing, if the double bass is late it means that either the musician can't keep up or the system makes the double bass sound like it can't keep up.  

It can happens in 2.1 systems as well (bookshelves + subwoofer). If the subwoofer is late the reason might be slow amp , not the sub.  

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56 minutes ago, Irek said:

I think it's more noticeable with floorstandings going down to 35Hz or lower.

One thing that is happening is some amps don't send signal at the same time for height, mid and bass frequency. In consequence usually the bass is behind/late.

Shell we say there are 3 instruments (flute piccolo, violin and double bass).  On some parts of music all instruments have to have even timing, if the double bass is late it means that either the musician can't keep up or the system makes the double bass sound like it can't keep up.  

It can happens in 2.1 systems as well (bookshelves + subwoofer). If the subwoofer is late the reason might be slow amp , not the sub.  

You are talking about time-alignment right?

i understand that explanation 👍

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2 hours ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

You are talking about time-alignment right?

Isn't that more to do with  speakers and distance?

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