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Feb. 2018
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Great audio engineers

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  • Great audio engineers

    A long overdue subject here, and having been searching for years for a particular Paper for my never-ending research into loudspeakers, I've found it, and had it translated back to English.

    I'd like to add the name of British audio engineer James Moir to the list of truly brilliant hands-on, pragmatic audio engineers. You may never have heard of him, but his contributions clearly had immense impact on Harwood at the BBC Research Department and finally I have been able to trace that infuence to source. It fills in many hithertoo gaps in my understanding.

    Mr. Moir's obituary follows and explains a full and active life at the hub of the audio industry. Should you find any of his work, feel free to link to it here. It will be relevant, approachable, trustworthy and digestible - the writings of a subject master.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    Absolutely. His was a fine intellect expressed in a prose of classically British clarity.

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    • #3
      I respect James Moir very much. My favourite paper of his is the ABX test of different QUAD amplifiers conducted back in 1978. I'm sure that its results are still valid, except perhaps conclusions concerning burying most of amplifier distortions in the record replay system hiss and noice. Conclusion of that test was that all possible distortions from amplifiers operated within their power ratings, are likely to have been masked by the much greater distortions in the recording / replay elements, even though these were representative of the best then-current professional practice.

      We have to bear in mind that in 1978 both in recording studios and home systems only analogue was used, as digital wasn't invented yet. As digital record and replay systems of today are practically distortion-free, no masking of amplifier distortion is possible in digital replay systems. Therefore, this conclusion of Moir's test has to be reconsidered, especially with regard to tube amps. Besides that, I'm sure that Moir's conclusions are still as valid as they were almost 40 years ago.

      https://linearaudio.nl/sites/lineara...tors%20DCD.pdf

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Milosz View Post
        We have to bear in mind that in 1978 both in recording studios and home systems only analogue was used, as digital wasn't invented yet. As digital record and replay systems of today are practically distortion-free, no masking of amplifier distortion is possible in digital replay systems. Therefore, this conclusion of Moir's test has to be reconsidered, especially with regard to tube amps. Otherwise, I'm sure that Moir's conclusions are still as valid as they were almost 40 years ago.
        Actually, there was already some limited use of digital recorders in studios by 1978.
        Denon, for one, was producing analog LP discs from studio recordings made using their own PCM digital equipment.
        See this paper: http://www.aes.org/aeshc/pdf/fine_dawn-of-digital.pdf

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        • #5
          Originally posted by IMF+TDL View Post
          Actually, there was already some limited use of digital recorders in studios by 1978.
          Denon, for one, was producing analog LP discs from studio recordings made using their own PCM digital equipment.
          See this paper: http://www.aes.org/aeshc/pdf/fine_dawn-of-digital.pdf
          Thanks for great article, I think I have in my phonoteque some of those very early classical music digital recordings from late 70s. Must check.

          ATB

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          • #6
            Originally posted by IMF+TDL View Post
            Actually, there was already some limited use of digital recorders in studios by 1978.
            Denon, for one, was producing analog LP discs from studio recordings made using their own PCM digital equipment.
            See this paper: http://www.aes.org/aeshc/pdf/fine_dawn-of-digital.pdf
            http://www.highfidelity.pl/@lang-en

            Here you can read more about early digital recordings, first vinyl record pressed from digital in 1971, which was Something by Steve Marcus + Jiro Inagaki & Soul Media, that was out in January 1971 (Nippon Columbia NCB-7003) and the first digital recording, although released again on vinyl, that was awarded Grammy in 1979: the Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring.

            However, my reflections on James Moir's test remain unchanged as only the analogue replay system was used during the test (Studer A80) and there is no mention that any of the tapes that have been played to the listening panel contained recordings of different type than AAA.

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            • #7
              Commercial digital recordings of classical music from first, early era.

              I must dig deeper into my phonoteque ; for now I have found three examples of DDD recordings from years 1979 - 1981:

              1. J.S.Bach - Motets BWV 225-230; Concentus Musicus Wien / N. Harnoncourt - Stockholm Bach Choir / Anders Ohrwall; TELDEC - Recorded at St. John, Stockholm 29th Nov. - 1st Dec. 1979. Recording engineer - probably Erich Wolfson (as usual) / Producer - Heinrich Weritz - one of the greatest takes of this Bach's set ever performed and recorded, believe me. Also outstanding recording. Play "Komm, Jesu, komm" and you will find yourselves in different world.
              Elaborate review - http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/B...arnoncourt.htm

              2. Gustav Mahler - Symphony no.1 'Titan' - New York Philharmonic / Z. Mehta; CBS / Sony Classical - Recorded at Avery Fisher Hall , Nov. 10 & 25th, 1980 - Engineer Bud Graham / produced by David Mottley. - If someone thinks early good DDD recordings lack of detail or dynamics I recommend to listen to this one. The acoustics of Avery Fisher Hall is not less realistic as this depicted at one of the latest digital recordings of the same orchestra in the same venue (e.g. Anne Sophie Mutter's recordings of Rhim / Courrier's modern violin concertos).

              3. G.F.Handel - Water Music / Music for The Royal Fireworks - Stuttgarter Kammeroechester / Karl Munchinger; DECCA - Recorded at Evangelische Schlosskirche, Ludwigsburg, May 1981 - Producer: Michael Haas / Recording engineer: Stanley Goodall - Despite years and so many changes regarding art of performing early music this recording defends itself due to masterly reading from conductor and skills of chamber orchestra's players. The acoustics of the church is really splendid.

              I think that the remasters of those early digital recordings from almost 40 tears ago made in 1990s helped to bring to the music lovers a lot of additional information hidden previously in vinyl releases.
              Replayed via the latest technique Oppo multiformat player they sound very natural and deliver a lot of realism of the original performance while auditioned with very good, naturally sounding loudspeakers.

              ATB

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              • #8
                Click image for larger version  Name:	moir-sc.jpg Views:	1 Size:	312.8 KB ID:	72893

                Back to the subject of James Moir, from an article in HiFi News, Octover 1980 (a few years before his death) and his follow-up of Raymond Cook's (KEF) earlier work on the reality of making 'accurate' speaker measurements even in an anechoic chamber.

                Picture of Moir next to his telescopic hoist above which was a speaker (facing upwards). The maximum extension of the hoist placed the speaker some 8m above the ground.

                The truth is that it is practically and actually impossible to measure the LF output of a loudspeaker with 100% accuracy. There are various techniques to minimise the influence of the environment, but all amount to an approximation and any manufacturer who is bold enough to make rock-solid specifications about the bass roll-off of his speakers is doing so with a degree of inevitable uncertainty.

                Incidentally, I wrote to the individual responsible for making speaker measurements in a well known audiophile magazine some months ago, including a hand-calculated comparison of his method of stitching a near-field measurement to a far-field one and pointing out what seems to be a mistake in methodology (which, on the fac eof it doubles-up the displayed bass resonse of the speaker below , say, 150Hz) but as yet, no reply. It could very well be that his method is another variation on what is a far from settled and standardised issue amongst loudspeaker designers and critics.
                Alan A. Shaw
                Designer, owner
                Harbeth Audio UK

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