Granular Thought Modes

Equipment reviews are a ripe subject, bubbling and fragrant. Reviewers are very loquacious. They surely love the sound of their own keyboards. (Do they get paid by the word?) For the reader, it’s a mixed bag. If you can get through the first several paragraphs of pablum and fluff and the next bunch of bloated paragraphs about the physical description (that a couple of good photos could have done better), then you get down into the deep, deep doo-doo about the sound and the recordings used for evaluation.

Here are few sweet samples—

Though it has superior drive and pacing and low-bass extension, I now hear the [XYZ] as having a dry midrange, a lean midbass, and a treble that’s extended but ever so slightly grainy.

Makes me thirsty just reading it.

But I digress. . .

Really? Nah!

. . .the many drum crashes and orchestra tuttis [sic] throughout the first movement were thoroughly satisfying, as long as I didn’t turn the volume knob too far to the right.

Scary. Turn up the volume at your own risk.

The [XX] was simply devastating in its ability to naturally present a voice or oboe without false resonance but replete with subtle plosives. I used the usual singing suspects: Sara K., Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Roy Orbison, etc. Each of these distinctive voices was, of course, instantly recognizable, but each was also definitively integrated as a single voice and source across its unique tonal range, though never isolated from the varied accompaniments.

Huh? Decipher that for me. On second thought, forget it.

The [Guppies] bass extension went on forever, rivaling that of any other speaker—including subwoofers—

They sure as hell better! He’s talking about an 800 pound, $65k pair of speakers! They better fly me to the moon too.

[MissD] had rather a grainy, forward sound quality on its high-pass outputs. The graininess disappeared after an hour or so and the forward character diminished, but did not disappear altogether. This might be a relevant factor in a system already somewhat forward in balance.

I’m still scratching my head. Maybe some of that graininess will relieve the itch.

Grain has certainly become a buzz word. Where’s the grain coming from? Grain can be synthesized and I know what it sounds like, but from an audio playback standpoint, there’s yet to be a satisfactory definition of what, if anything, ordinary audio electronics can do to a signal to make it grainy. The power of vagueness makes it a good talking point. You can toss the word about freely knowing that it makes you sound as if you know what you’re talking about without truly knowing or saying anything of substance.

And as for granular thought, let’s get to the nitty gritty. It’s become a corporate buzz word too. (Ooo baby, I love business-speak.) There’s always a new word or phrase buzzing through the world of corporate management that’s supposed to encompass some new hot way of thinking. In every instance, it’s repackaging a same’ol, same’ol idea. Slap a new word on it, empower it with repetition, pretend it’s out of the box, take it to the next level and you’ve got a holistic, mission critic sustainability that’s an actionable win-win to incentivize.

What this reveals to me are the sandy thought processes of the talkers-non-thinkers. Reviewers and corporate cheerleaders, on the surface, left unexamined, put on a good show. Lots of trendy words, catch phrases and techie jargon generously chopped up with abstruse descriptions of nebulous nonsense keeps us reading (listening and parroting) with intense attentiveness, or more likely, a dear-in-the-headlights glaze.

It’s plain to see it’s been disintermediated [sic] into entertainment. Everywhere we look the news, reviews, reports, and documentaries are gradually becoming more and more entertainment first, information a far off second, analysis not even last, simply null. What’s next? Teachers wanted, Master of Physical Comedy and two years minimum standup experience, submit CV and video.

More on grain : [Granular Synthesis]

And : [Granular Thinking]

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