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Marja & Henk
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: PS Audio PWT; Dr. Feickert Blackbird/DFA 1o5/Zu DL-103; Phasure PC and NOS1 DAC
Streaming sources: XXHighEnd; iTunes; Devialet AIR; La Rosita Beta [in for review]
Preamp/integrated/power: Tri TRV EQ3SE phonostage; Audio Note Meishu with WE 300B (or AVVT, JJ, KR Audio 300B output tubes); Yarland FV 34 CIIISA; Qables iQube V1; Devialet D-Premier; Hypex Ncore 1200 based monoblocks; Trafomatic Kaivalya; Trafomatic Reference One; Trafomatic Reference Phono One
Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega; Arcadian Audio Pnoe; Vaessen Aquarius; Zu Submission; Pancin Art Technology VZ1 [in for review]
Cables: complete loom of ASI LiveLine cables; full loom of Crystal Cable cables; Nanotec Golden Strada #79 nano 3; Nanotec Golden Strada #79; Nanotec Golden Strada #201; Nanotec Golden Strada #207; Nanotec Power Strada #306; Element47 Black Master IC and LS cables [in for review]
Power line conditioning: Omtec Power Controllers; PS Audio Powerplant Premier; PS Audio Humbuster III
Equipment racks: ASI amplifier and TT shelf
Sundry accessories: Furutech DeMag; ClearAudio Double Matrix; Nanotec Nespa #1; Exact Audio Copy software; iPod; wood, brass, ceramic and aluminum cones and pyramids; Shakti Stones; Manley Skipjack; Blue Horizon footers [in for review]
Room treatment: Acoustic System International resonators, sugar cubes, diffusers
Room size: ca. 14.50 x 7.50m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls, wooden flooring upstairs, ca 7 x 5m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls and concrete floor downstairs.
Review component retail: €250 for the software plug-in

Streaming in 432Hz. The Internet is filled with more and more stories about the alleged benefits of using a different concert pitch than is the current international standard. That implies an altered tuning of musical instruments. The current concert pitch which most musicians use worldwide has A above middle C (i.e. A4) set at 440Hz. It's what you hear when you pick up your land-line phone. In a symphony orchestra it's what the oboist plays and what all other orchestra members with adjustable instruments tune to. The oboe is used because it has stable tuning and is loud enough to be heard by all orchestra members during that somewhat chaotic tuning minute preceding the actual concert. Thus all instruments in an orchestra and from there all instruments in most other musical ensembles use this tuning. But there's more.

Besides concert pitch there’s the interval system. Western music uses the diatonic interval system. That's a range of 7 pitches all spaced apart by a perfect fifth. A perfect fifth equates to a mathematical 3:2 ratio dating back to old Pythagoras who experimented with a stretched string, held his finger at 2/3rd its length and noted both pitches. On a piano the keys F-C-G-D-A-E-B are the natural tones occurring at a perfect fifth apart. To get all 12 tones of our octave, there are five added semi tones as the piano's black keys. This scheme separates all keys by a minor second or half step.

Mathematically however that's not exactly true. It's thus not just about tuning but temperament. Remember J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Piano? Temperament slightly detunes certain notes from their mathematically correct pitch. In fact pitches are slightly rounded off, some to be a little higher/sharper, others a little lower/flatter. In Western music it's this correction which enables harmonies whereby music can be played across different keys without sounding 'off' or slightly out of tune. This 'averaging' goes by equal temperament. It's interesting how most ethnomusicologists who study non-Western music in its cultural aspects have found something common across all cultures. First is the notion of the octave. An octave doubles the frequency of its starting point. An octave beginning at 440Hz thus ends at 880Hz. But it appears that all cultures not only have knowledge of this doubling but also about the midpoint, in our example 660Hz or E. It seems that the human brain naturally recognizes and uses these octave midpoints. This midpoint is also used in building so-called scales.

Here’s another example. Take any frequency and call it C. Now double the frequency to get the higher octave C2. Halfway into the octave is a note we call G. Double G to the octave for G2 and halve its frequency to get D which is the next starting point. This doubling and halving goes on until we get all our 12 tones. The only problem? With such mathematical doubling and halving we do not finally end up at our starting part. This uncorrected scale is called the Pythagorean. When playing music only with the notes C, D, E, F, G and A (C major) the half tones F-sharp and E-flat when included would sound dissonant though they give color to the music. From that color notion stems the term chromatic. Hence the scale of 12 tones created by doubling and halving is called the chromatic scale.

Music is defined as a set of pitch relationships. Here it's irrelevant on which pitch the scale begins, be it A=401, 412, 456, 123Hz or any other frequency. As long as the relation between pitches isn't arbitrary, things will be fine. From one note to the other there is no equal change in cycles per second. However for us the step from one note to the next and so forth are all equal. It appears that each note is around 6% higher in frequency than the note preceding it. It appears that the non-linearity of the scale is due to the fact that frequencies as measured in Hertz rise progressively or faster the higher we go. That becomes logarithmic. But twelve steps of 6% equals a doubling, hence an octave. To extrapolate we have our concert pitch, interval system and its temperament. Together that's our tuning system. It's beyond this article to go deeper into musical tuning as it has evolved over the ages from Greece's Pythagoras until now and as permutations in semitones, cents etc. Our focus here is to get to the three basic parts of a tuning system. Some instruments have a fixed tuning like an organ. Those instruments are very hard to tune on the spot. But throughout history concert pitch has changed a lot. There are records of organs whose A above middle C was tuned at 380Hz and 480Hz. It seems that every organ builder used his own concert pitch. Most likely they used pitches to suit the circumstances which the organ was built for - a large church, a small one or even a house. If other instruments were to join the organ, their tuning had to adapt to match. Some instruments can be tuned easily to a fixed pitch. Others have more difficulties.