THE OPTIMAL AURAL MATRIX STRATEGY
THE NEW AUDIO BADA BING, BADA BOOM
HOW TO INSTALL AN AURAL SUPERCHARGER
A wise techno-shaman prepares for long trips, so I spent a glorious weekend with Michaelangelo in Florence, chiseling and polishing my "300B" grave stone, which stands ten feet tall, , and announces..HE WAS A BAD DUDE, BUT HE MADE GOOD SHIT HAPPEN. All around this profound statement are carved naked cherubs and devils dancing. I hope to soon display my custom made coffin on my web site, so you can see "the artful vessel" which will transport me to me to Triode Heaven. It contains a complete SNAP ON tool kit, soldering iron, awesome music system, lots of catalogs, snacks, and girlie and hot rod magazines but it is the graphic design that will wow you.
When I got home, waiting for me, was a letter from Kenneth Maluchnick, a Listener subscriber, and this email from Tony Soprano:
Can you help me? I get these anxiety attacks whenever I think about all the weird shit you write about in Listener.
My response to Tony was,
Let me make you an offer you can't refuse. I am going to take your audio bada bing, bada boom, so high it will need an oxygen mask. BTW, I am sorry about the passing of your mother. Death comes to us all, too soon.
When I thought about Ken and Tony's out reach, I called Art and told him to cancel the article I just sent, because I needed to refocus on this question: Why do we struggle so hard to create an ecstatic illusion in our living room?
The answer is we have no choice; men with listening gifts need more. Clearly it is my responsibility, as a tribal elder, to inspire you to explore the edge, because that is the only place where, you, the new generation of young audio braves, can find your truth. Not an easy task.
Having accepted that challenge I must now explain a very complicated technical subject THE OPTIMAL AURAL MATRIX STRATEGY, because I want to empower you to shuck off conventional aural limitations. At first this strategy wont be easy to understand. or master, but if you do, your audio bada bing, bada boom will drip with music juice, in the same way a barbecued steak drips from music juice. Because most of you didn't graduate from MIT, or grow up in Brooklyn, I have created two different male tools of ecstasy analogies, to explain this complex subject, so even an audio newbie can understand:
SCENE ONE: We see two cars at the stop light. At the wheel of the brand new $150K BMW, wearing an Armani suit, is Mr. Robb Report, who believes he owns the road if you know what I mean? Next to him is a ragged 1972 Chevy Nova, with OAK RIDGE OLD AGE HOME painted on the door, that looks like "I only drive it to church on Sunday" driven by Mr. Redneck DIY Gifted Listener in ripped jeans. The light turns green, with pedal to the metal, howling motors, billowing burning rubber, the cars lurch forward, and Mr. Robb Report's BMW is left in the dust because Mr. Gifted Listener is driving a "sleeper" , with a DIY 800 HP nitrous burning supercharged 427 Chevy "Crate" motor under his hood, that eats BMWs for breakfast .at a measly fraction of the cost of the BMW.
SCENE TWO: You are in the bathroom of your local truck stop. You go to the vending machine on the wall that is selling 'HIGH MILEAGE BLOWOUT PROOF CONDOMS..GUARANTEED FOR 100K MILES OR YOUR MONEY BACK. You buy two and take them home and put both on, and make love to your loved one. Next, you remove them both, and wait five minutes, and then make love to your loved one, once again. If you live very far from a truck stop, try this experiment with a rubber glove. Grunt if you noticed the difference in pleasure. If not, don't bother reading any further.
End of tools of ecstasy analogies.
Is the bad Dr. Gizmo asserting that those mega-buck BMW audio gizmos, that you read about, are not vehicles of ultimate performance, and YOU can achieve much higher performance, for much less money? Am I suggesting that in the 21st century, the gizmological foundation of the top tier of the audio arts has been overthrown by a new audio bada bing, bada boom that is 70 years old?
Is the bad Dr. Gizmo suggesting that old American high end audio orthodoxy is a double truck stop aural condom matrix and that every audio professional is aware that they are promoting a less than optimal aural matrix? Is it possible that the keepers of the bro ha ha, our most esteemed audio savants, are confusing a strategy to avoid AIDS with aural mediocrity?
Grunt and scratch your butt if you are hanging with my provocative existential meta-references which are designed to give you an anxiety attack?
At the frontier of the audio arts, we find a very simple, and most fundamental question of the audio arts, that is taboo in America: What is the optimal interface between loudspeaker and amplifier? This is the most important question any audio artist can ask, because the quality of the answer determines the ultimate quality of our aural matrix and in 99.999999% of American living rooms, (and I don't care how much money you spent) the aural matrix is not optimal, because the speaker/amplifier interface is not optimal. Nothing wrong with that Robb Report sound, but let's not confuse an expensive four wheeled computerized jelly bean with air bags, with a no-holds barred, gut wrenching, neck snapping, fire breathing hot rod audio system of optimal performance.
The optimal aural matrix strategy first appeared in the 1930s when amplifiers were flea powered, and movie theaters were as large as train stations. Q: How do fill a theater with the sound of Gone with the Wind? Put a dedicated amplifier on each speaker's driver was the answer, and eliminate the passive crossover. This wisdom about optimal amplifier/speaker interface re-emerged in the consumer market in the late 1950s. I first discovered this strategy in an Audio Magazine article, in the early 1960s, and it has been my religion ever since. This strategy is now SOP in the pro-audio market and in Japan. The pro-market does it all wrong, the Japanese do it right. The American consumer market now pretends it doesn't exist out of fear.
Over the decades many have tried selling this strategy to the consumer market, but the effort was feeble, presented at the wrong time, and pitched to the wrong customer. Every major "classic" American and European speaker brand, at one time, supported this strategy. Even Marantz, Mc Intosh, JBL, Crown, Bozak, Audio Research, were into it. Linn and B&W promote this strategy, outside of America, because they rightly believe that the average American loves the taste of Texas Road Kill in August sound.
IT IS BETTER TO DO IT IN THE FRONT THAN THE REAR
That says it all, and I have been screaming this out in my writing for a decade. First..it is impossible to separate an amplifier from a speaker they are one electrical circuit. There is only one right answer to the interface question: connect the amplifier directly to the speaker's drivers, and do all of the crossover filtration at the front of the amplifier, with an electronic crossover. This is, again, seventy year old wisdom.
By doing your speaker filtration in the front you are creating, in effect, an AURAL SUPERCHARGER that will eat the higher priced competition. I remind you that men, and Mike Tyson, love to eat their enemies, and the women they love, because male DNA is cannibalistic.
Now that you understand this complex strategy, you see how simple it is to use a dedicated, and much smaller amplifier, on each driver, or, at the very least, a dedicated amplifier on the woofer, and a separate one on the combo of midrange/tweeter, which still may be connected with a passive crossover. When you look at the capacitors, and resistors needed to accomplish crossover filtration, at the front of your amplifier, you are looking a few tiny parts which replace the pounds of inductors, capacitors and resistors, at the rear of your amplifier, which make up your speaker's crossover.
What is the difference you will hear? It is the difference between a normally aspirated motor and a supercharged motor. Again, it is the difference between a truck stop condom and not. Everything you love about your system will be there in much greater magnitude, and much of what you hate will disappear. This electrical superiority can easily be demonstrated with test equipment.
WHY IS THE DOUBLE AURAL CONDOM MATRIX
THE AMERICAN ORTHODOXY?
Why does Bill Clinton keep on shooting himself in the foot? Why did America, the creator of the Bill of Rights, have to fight a civil war to end slavery? Why am I the only one discussing this subject? Why couldn't my doctor find a treatment for my brain damage? To spiritual sophisticates WHY doesn't matter, only HOW. No blame. No shame, just doing the right thing now and in the future.
The century that glorified the sub-optimal aural strategy of one Goliath amplifier driving a very inefficient speaker has gone the way of Pee Wee Herman's School House.
HOW NOW DR. GIZMO?
This optimal aural matrix strategy has almost universal application including acoustic suspension, ported enclosures, mini-monitors, transmission lines, horns, electrostatics, planar, from mini-monitors to line source, and it doesn't matter if you are using tube or solid state amplifiers. It works especially well for apartment dwelling audiomaniacs.
Are there restrictions to the use of an electronic crossover? Yes, but fewer than you think, and for the tube maniac the possibilities for expanded musical ecstasy are staggering for example:
YOU DON'T HAVE A CLUE, DUDE
The majority of tubemaniacs own pentode push/pull amplifiers. More and more of you own single-ended directly heated triodes, and the few and the brave own OTL amps. If you are not using an electronic crossover you don't have a clue about how glorious your tube amplifier is, and buckle your seat belts most tube audio designers don't have a clue, either. Over thirty years I have proved to myself, over and over again, the benefits. I have owned and used about ten different electronic crossovers, from the budget Ace Audio, to the Marchand, and have used them with every kind of tube amplifier and speaker, with exactly the same results off with the aural condom, and kick in the aural supercharger.
This is the first time in the history of audio arts, because of the availability of accurate information, primarily due to the Internet, that you have an enormous range of choices in creating an optimal aural matrix, because you are into tubes. You can choose between the pentode push/pull, directly heated triode push/pull, single-ended directly heated triode, and OTL aural matrix, and they are not the same; each has its own unique beauty, that can only be revealed when you remove your aural condom; remove your passive crossover. This wide range of aural diversity is not available in the world of the silicon amplifier, though even the sand crowd benefits from following Dr. Gizmo's advice.
Let me give you a concrete example: There are literally hundreds of thousands of 60 watt plus pentode push/pull amplifiers out there in audio land. If they were used just on woofers, while a smaller, and more refined pentode push/pull amplifier was used on the midrange/tweeter, Mr. Pentode Push/Pull would get so high he will have to use oxygen while listening to music.
Is this an E-Bay buying alert? Should you be looking for a used small pentode amplifier for your tweeter/midrange?
Why is this strategy so important for single-ended maniacs? Trust me use a 300B on your woofers, and a 2A3 on your midrange/tweeter, and discover for the first time the magic of the single-ended aural matrix. Where do those big mutha' 845, 211, 805 single-ended amps fit in this strategy with their high output transformer turns ratio? Use them on woofers, and 300B or 2A3 on top.
A REFLECTION ON THE ONE WAY WAY REBELLION
Why are so many flocking to the One Way Way, which is the way of no crossover; the way of no aural condom? The answer is, that in spite of their anomalies, for many men this is small price to pay, to be free from aural de-sensitivity. The One Way Way is a rebellion against passive crossovers. If you want the unique immediacy, transient response and dynamics of The One Way Way, and you want more, I have just described the path to take, and again, it is over 70 years old.
BACK TO THE LOGICAL PRESENT
Think about the logic of speakers: use a dedicated driver for a narrow frequency band because getting one driver to do reproduce the entire musical bada bing, bada boom is impossible: a woofer is optimized for the low frequencies, a midrange is optimized for the midrange, and the tweeter is optimized higher frequency, and the same logic applies to amplifiers. USING ONE AMPLIFIER FULL RANGE IS A COMPROMISE YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIVE WITH ANYMORE. Are you having trouble breathing?
How much power do you need for your woofer? Probably about 90% of your "total amplifier energy", so why not use an amplifier that is best at that task? Then you can use a much smaller and more refined amplifier for, let us say, above 400Hz. By isolating the low frequency in a dedicated amplifier, your midrange amplifier will be unburdened, and will be an aural supercharger of midrange liquidity. How much power do a majority of speakers, even those that are inefficient, need for above 400 Hz? Probably not more than a few watts. If you are a pentode push/pull type of guy think of the possibilities EL84, 6V6, 6L6, EL 34..in triode "sweeter" mode. How do you convert a pentode to triode operation? With one ten cent 100 ohm resistor per output tube. Are you breathing better?
Thirty years ago the optimal aural matrix strategy was to use a solid state amplifier on the woofers, for their slam, and tube amp, on the midrange,for its natural tone, but I don't recommend this combo because you will hear an obvious aural discombobularity. On the other audio newbie hand, if you own a solid state amplifier, why not buy an inexpensive solid state electronic crossover, and buy a used pentode push/pull amp for your midrange/tweeter, and start on the optimal path in the same way Dr. Gizmo got on this path thirty years ago? Just take your first, cheapest step.
For the aural connoisseur, you can not mix pentode push/pull and single-ended, or pentode push/pull with directly heated triode push/pull because of feedback meaning push/pull pentode's use feedback, and these other modalities don't. Feedback affects an amplifiers "timing" and when you mix feedback amplifier with non-feedback amplifiers, they are out of time sync, and you will hear this timing discombobularity between the woofers and midrange. In addition there is a very large difference in the push/pull and single-ended, in terms of energy distribution within your aural matrix, or, as I say, their harmonic/space/time continuum is quite different. If you mix them, aural weirdness abounds.
Remember, our goal is to achieve the optimal aural matrix and that means optimal aural organic wholosity.
GET ON YOUR OXYGEN MASK
Why does the optimal aural matrix strategy favor tube maniacs? Do the mathematics of multiplying the possible combinations of tubes used in your woofer and midrange amps. The number is staggering. Most will use 6550s on woofers, and triode connected EL34s, or 6L6s on the midrange/tweeters. Which combo of tube brands sound best? In my own 4th Wave Modality SET system I am in love with KR tubes, on the woofers, and AVVT tubes on the tweeters, on Monday and Wednesday. On Tuesday and Friday, I prefer AVVT on the woofers and KR's on the top and that is only the beginning of my never-ending search for fine tuning my optimal aural matrix. What happens when I go back to my passive crossovers? Back to the double aural condom.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE JEWISH
Though it is true that Jewish people can smell a bargain in the same way a Tennessee coonhound can smell a raccoon, anyone can do the math you already own one amplifier no cost here. You already own loudspeakers. No additional cost here. Buy a crossover, and a small second amplifier even if it is used. Use your hands for about an hour and you can "hotrod" your speakers for bi-amplification, or more
Now that I have taught you to kick sand in the face of Mr. Robb Report Audio, do you want to move your aural bada bing, bada boom up a couple of more notches?
DR. GIZMO RECRUITS JOHN BROSKIE TO DO THE RIGHT THING
I was so impressed by John Broskie's, the thermionic savant, web site, tubecad.com, which is a "graduate school for tube maniacs", that I gave him the Triode Guild Platinum Brain Award, and convinced him to join my crusade to expand the power of The Tube Matrix, which means expanding your power. How now brown cow?
John is creating the first modern "school" in tube audio for the tube audio newbies. It is being created so you can take your integration higher, because the more you know, the more pleasure you will experience. This course is designed for the musicmaniac who have NO technical skill or understanding. When you enroll you start in THE BUNNY GROUP, and when you graduate from THE GRIZZLY GROUP, you will have mastered, tiny step, by tiny step, tube circuitry. You will understand how "valves' work, how different types of topologies work, and most importantly you will understand the compromises inherent in the design process. You will be able to read a schematic. John likes to use the analogy of a "Tube Cooking School": once you learn how to cook, and the basic flavors, you can create your own gourmet feasts. Who knows better than you what flavors are your unique ecstasy?
How much will this higher education cost that will save you thousands of dollars, and move you to the top of The Tube Matrix? What about $50.
Those who know are now mumbling.."Dr. Gizmo wants American audiomaniacs to imitate their Japanese bros' ". Right arm, and if you can use chopsticks to eat Sushi, you can graduate with honors.
CHECK WITH JOHN BROSKIE WHEN THIS COURSE WILL BE AVAILABLE
COMING FULL CIRCLE
While writing this I received news that my friend David had malignant cancer, and it reminded me that Mr. Death can, at any moment, invite us for our last slice of pizza. Whenever I consider my mortality, and ask myself what I would do if I only had a short time to live intrinsic to the answer is, The Most Musical Pleasure. I have now explained why a wise man will devote himself to the optimal aural matrix strategy that is the future of the audio arts, and is seventy years old wisdom taboo no more.
Oh, how I love dancing to the paradoxes of the audio arts, which is now finally emerging from its adolescence. The good news is David had an operation and is okay. Life is too short, so don't waste your precious time with aural mediocrity.
Dr. Gizmo: www.meta-gizmo.com
e-mail Dr. Harvey "Gizmo" Rosenberg: firstname.lastname@example.org
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