Audio qualia

experience the real sound of music !

welcome to my site.........



 I have opened a new forum, here:


I have had to lock the forum on this site as it is being abused by spammers. All new comments, postings and questions should be made on the new forums site, linked to above. PLEASE NOTE, THERE IS NO POINT IN REGISTERING ON THIS SITE, ALL INFO ALSO APPEARS ON THE NEW FORUM.


most of the information from this site has been transferred, and the rest will be shortly. Some graphics are missing, these will be included, as well.


All new postings and comments should be made on the new forum. See you there.



this site is all about my continuing search for audio nirvana, to build a system that will keep me happy the rest of my days. I don't accept most of the rubbish that is talked about hifi. I prefer to find out for myself. So I do lots of experiments to see what's what, and build things using this knowledge.

This is my journey.

A quale (kwa lay) is a phenomenon that one has to experience to be understood. Try explaining what the colour red is to a blind person, or what backache is to someone who hasn't experienced it. Explanations seem inadequate, if not impossible.

The quale I am after is the illusion that one is listening to a real musical experience. That can be a classical music performance on the radio (Radio 3, see "radio tuners") or a studio recording of a rock group on a vinyl record. In these instances, it is possible to obtain the illusion that one is listening to real musicians playing real instruments, and not just listening to hifi replaying some music.

The illusion does not seem to be of an ensemble playing in one's own room, as most hifi mags seem to suggest, but that the hifi system allows a performance to be listen to through it, to 'transform you' to the recording venue, in the case of a classical music performance (or 'live' folk/rock/jazz performance) or to give one the impression of listening to the recording studio's monitor speakers. With the latter example, it is all that can be attempted, as many instruments are recorded straight into the recorder (via the mixing desk) and that, when the recording is played back, that is the first time the sound has been heard, i.e. they are producing, rather than reproducing! In this case, acoustics are mixed and vague and the stereo image is false, but we should be hearing what the recording engineer intended.

In summary, one listens through hifi to a performance, rather than listening to the hifi, which suggests the hifi has contributed something of its own, which it shouldn't, of course!


 " The laws of Physics involved in audio reproduction are established beyond any shadow of a doubt, yet they are regularly called into question"   John Watkinson, Electronics World, June 1997


One only has to read a few left field hifi magazines, or most of the threads on most hifi forums to entertain the notion that there are some wacky ideas out there in hifi land. Shared between punters and manufacturers alike, there seems to be a lot of pseudoscience profligated, which is set to ensnare the unwary.

The argument usually starts (and sometimes finishes) with the idea that one's ear/brain is the final arbiter in anything related to hifi, and that science, although sometimes agreeing with subjective assessment, is usually dismissed when it doesn't, even though physics is universal, (except when applied to hifi, so it would seem!). Of course, this is a load of rubbish. Physics applies to hifi as much as anything (or anywhere) else!

So why do the subjectivists choose to ignore the science when it doesn’t support their evidence? I suggest for that very reason; if one's beliefs are undermined by the science, then ridicule the science, and it will hopefully go away. It doesn't of course. The science, proper science, is built on sound (sorry) foundations, and the work carried out to rigorous scientific protocols by rigorous scientists. The 'theory', often disparagingly dismissed as 'not of the real world' by mystics, is arrived at after very serious thought, it is not just a whim of an individual, such as a mystic. For the most part, mystics will offer a view, unsupported by no more evidence than their own ear/brains, or even wishful thinking, that adds something to support the raison d’être of their cherished systems, or part builds. How dare anyone challenge the validity of a bit of hifi kit a mystic has (built) when the mystic's own ear/brain says its the bee's couilles.

As you have guessed by now, I am firmly in the camp where all the scientists are, I need objective evidence before I can begin to accept a belief. I'm not saying listening is not to be believed, just that the evidence from listening and scientific measurement should agree. Most of the time they do, but when they don't, there is a rational explanation, although most mystics will try to convince you that the disparity is because science can't measure the 'magic' properties involved. Rubbish, if science can't measure it, either the scientist isn't measuring the appropriate thing, or there is nothing to measure.


Beranek's Law
It has been remarked that if one selects one's own components, builds one's own enclosure, and is convinced one has made a wise choice of design, then one's own loudspeaker sounds better than anyone else's loudspeaker. In this case, the frequency response of the loudspeaker seems to play only a minor part in forming a person's opinion.

L.L. Beranek, Acoustics (McGraw-Hill, New York,
1954), p.208.


I thought I should list here, my present system/s, as this is 'the path less travelled by'.


Main system:

Turntables:   Lenco 75, with a modified tone arm and Ortofon OM cartridge body, with which I use either an elliptical stylus for mono records, or a stylus especially for 78 shellac records.

A Cambridge Audio 640P phono amplifier

2 x Cambridge Audio 640A v2 integrated amplifiers, used as monoblocs,each stereo amplifier driving one Usher604v, one channel for the bass/midrange, one channel for the treble, with supertweeters fed by the switched output.

a pair of Usher 604v floor standing 'speakers, augmented with ribbon tweeters. These will be amended to use aperiodic loading, as the bass output is a little powerful for the listening room.

The record deck is one of several Lenco decks, including 'Darwin', which is based on a Goldring G99 (itself based on a Lenco 75) with my Rega 250 modded tone arm, carrying a Dynavector 10x5 moving coil cartridge. Also up for building is a valve-based phono amplifier, line stage and headphone amplifier, and a dedicated mono phono amplifier, with switchable turnover frequencies, to accommodate virtually any cutting curve.


Five channel system:

Cambridge Audio 540V FM receiver/DVD/cd player, 5.1 amplifiers.

Epos M5 side 'speakers, front 'speakers using the same Epos M5 drive units, and the centre channel will probably be the lab. speakers. Bass is from the CA 640A driving the bass/midrange of the Usher 604v's only.



Cambridge Audio 640C cd player.

Sony DAT recorder.

2 x Denon cassette recorders DR-M30HX, 3 head, dual capstan.

Hitachi FT5500 FM/AM radio tuner, with digital signal strength meter.

Quad FM4 tuner.

Leak Troughline2 tuner (mono at present, but see elsewhere).

various other homemade 'speakers, radios and a valve power amplifier which will be rebuilt.



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