Sonics Columns - by Vladimir

These are selected reprints of columns, written by Vladimir,  that have previously run in Cadence Magazine© Cadence Magazine 1976-2010

Basic system design. 1999/10

 My basic premise when designing an audio system is to start with simplicity. The concept behind creating the most perfect sounding audio system is to have a "straight wire with gain" architecture. This means that an ideal audio system would take the original signal and simply make it louder, neither adding nor subtracting from what was recorded. …

Change for the sake of change. 2005/07

The following paragraph is from an exchange between me and a manufacturer of high end audio products:
[I] Totally agree - much of high end is about marketing.  My old rep used to tell me "Change the look of the [product] - time for a change."  …

Dynamic range. 2003/08

While dynamic range is one of the most important aspects of recorded music, it is also one of the least understood and most often abused areas of the recording and playback chain. Simply put, the dynamic range of a sound refers to the extremes between the loudest and the softest sounds. …

Dynamics. 2001/08

Past columns have touched on some examples of bad engineering that make modern recordings less than they could be. Some readers have requested a more in-depth look at some of the issues I presented in those columns. …

Failure to scale. 2001/03

A common thread between low-fidelity, mid-fidelity, and high-fidelity components is the failure of many to sonically "scale up." It is this inability to scale up that prevents many system upgrades from achieving the goal of an overall improvement to the sound.

Genetically altered food and the search for high fidelity. 2000/01

 A basic tenet of selling products is that the seller should do nothing that could confuse the consumer; that the seller should make it as easy as possible for the consumer to part with his money; that debunking myths/and educating and exposing customers to conflicting viewpoints are not conducive to the smooth transfer of the buyer's money to the seller's hand. …

Good sound from the start. 2006/03

Good sound in reproduced music comes from an intelligent and well executed initial design. Often this crucial first step is given a cursory effort with the idea that all can be fixed at a later stage by throwing technological electronic wonder circuits as the final link in the chain to fix up all that is ailing. …

Headphone listening. 1998/11

While the headphone has certainly become a ubiquitous part of everyday life, many people dismiss them as essentially low-fi devices to be used only if necessary. Sure, the bulk of the headphones available are made to satisfy the portable market. …

Mediocrity is the rule and excellence, the exception. 2000/09

"It's amazing the sound that comes out of such a non-descript, economical unit when I think how mediocre all those 'high-end,' sleek-looking, effetely marketed but shallow and jagged sounding pre-amps are. …

Sonic truth. 1999/03

The sound of music is what every audio system should be trying to reproduce, yet it is the rare audio system that gets this crucial aspect correct. There is an intangible sort of rightness that, when it exists, seems to allow the musical intent to come through despite all other odds. …

System simplicity. 2001/12

I have noticed an interesting syndrome about the best sounding audio systems that I have heard that correlates with the best sounding recordings that I have heard: System Simplicity. The least amount of 'stuff' needed to reproduce music with your home stereo will probably result in the best sound overall.

System synergy. 2000/03

System synergy is what all audio systems should strive for. It is also what most audio systems fail to achieve. It may seem obvious that an audio system should be just that: a system that works together to re-create music, but the widespread failure of this concept suggests to me that it is either not so obvious, or it is given up on too easily. …

The goal of high end audio. 2000/05

 Is the goal of high-end audio to advance the state of the art in reproduction or is it to provide increasingly finite amounts of musical pleasure? Are they mutually exclusive goals?

One of the reasons for the great disparity in products, listening experiences, and opinions is due to the lack of clarity of the goal of so called "high-end" audio. …

The hazards of chipping away at high performance. 2001/01

Something tragic is happening in the world of high end audio. Not only is the concept of high fidelity (fidelity to the source material) being eroded, but even the quality of the source is faltering badly. …

The speaker. 2001/06

While a stereo system is only as strong as its weakest link, and while the quality of the source signal is the most important thing to get right, it is the last piece in the chain that will provide the greatest variable in your listening satisfaction. …

Trickle down theory, or something positive. 2002/03

For many people, the thought of a high-end audio system conjures up images of huge, costly stereos. Certainly they can be large and expensive, but that is true of just about everything at the extreme edges of performance. …

Tubes vs solid state. 1995/11

My system sounds rather bright and thin. A friend of mine suggested that I should get a tube preamp to solve this problem. What do you think?
H. Krause - Albuquerque, NM.


Lately I have been getting calls and letters pertaining to system fixes via the insertion of a “magical” piece of tube gear. …

Value. 1998/10

It has been my contention that while people do not want to spend more than they have to, they are very often willing to spend what they need to spend in order to get a product that serves their needs. …

Weak link of the system. 2000/05

In the early days of CD playback equipment, often there were large differences between the sound of different CD players. Designers then found that by paying more attention to the analogue output sections as well as power supply design for the digital section, it was possible to do something about the flat, brittle sound that marked the early CD players. …


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