Carver C-9 Sonic Hologram Generator and Soundstage

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jeffmackwood

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Folks,

On another site I posted what follows here, as part of a discussion about expanded soundstage with stereo recordings using a two-speaker stereo set up. Immediately afterwards I thought that what I posted might make for an interesting thread discussion on this site. I did a site search here and could only find one thread that made any mention - in a few posts - of the Carver C-9 Sonic Hologram Generator. (Note to mods: if this is not the right place to start this thread, please feel free to move it.)




Carver C-9 Sonic Hologram Generator.

Read about it here (page 33) and here (page 20).

Short of using a multichannel set-up, using either "native" or processed "surround" sound, in my experience the Carver is the only way that I've ever been able to experience greatly expanded depth, height and (especially) width from a two-channel system.

As those reviews I linked to say, it is very much dependent on source material, but with some material the effect can be startling. (What those reviews might also not emphasize enough, is how important it is to follow the placement / layout instructions in the C-9 owner's manual. The effect is very much dependent on physical positioning of speakers and listening position etc. and the net effect does drop off considerably the more you deviate. In one of the two C-9 systems that I'm running - in a stereo system in my main HT - everything is as "perfect" as can be, and when listening I can certainly tell that it is.)

In general, with two stereo speakers only, and without using something like the C-9 or other processing (like DPL-IIx Music), increasing the width and depth seem to be the two parameters that are easiest to do, especially width. But height? Not so easy. (Note that I'm talking about soundstage, which to me is not the same as simply sound. A floor-to-ceiling-sized speaker will give you sound that fills what can be the entire height of the room in front of you, but a (relatively) small set of bookshelf speakers on stands could provide much better (I know that's a subjective term) height soundstage. Regardless, my experience is that expanding the soundstage's height is much more elusive than width and depth.)

And that's where the Carver C-9 comes in. Again limited to source material, it can provide height cues that you would never expect to hear. So far my best example is Jean-Michel Jarre's Oxygene, Parts I and II in particular. Perhaps it's the totally-artificial nature of the recording itself (as opposed to, say, an orchestra on stage), but it can provide an Atmos-like experience from two stereo speakers. It's uncanny.



Do any other members currently use a Carver C-9 and if so, what stereo recordings have resulted in a surround-like effect (and how would you describe the change in soundstage width, depth and height)?

Jeff
 

gene_stl

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Hi Jeff and welcome to Quadrophonic Quad,

This is a great group. I joined because despite being an audiophile for 53 years I somehow completely missed quadrophonic "back in the day". I never had any friends that had set up quad and never heard a set up in a store here in St. Louis. Also most of the titles I saw for records, at that time, didn't necessarily grab me. In the mean time we have discrete multi channel at high rez essentially four or 5.1 at least at CD quality or higher. What we only could have dreamed of back in the day.

I played with the Sonic Holography both back in the day and more recently. At this moment there is a Carver C10 sitting on the floor of my listening room which I probably will sell soon.

I am not empowered to speak for the group but compared to real multi channel whether it is matrix encoded in stereo or one of the discrete methods, the sonic holography thing is mainly a bit of a gimmick. I have tried it out on a very good stereo and can't decide, what, if anything, it does. There have been other similar things. My late stereo buddy and I once wasted an entire week end trying to get a "Denon Phono Crosstalk Canceller " to work using blind testing and it did NOTHING. Without as much "scientific" testing I do feel the same way about the Carver Sonic Holography. (I wish my late BFF were here to help me decide that)

Carver is a physicist but he likes to imply that his various gadgets , which there have been many of over the decades, can somehow work around the laws of physics. I don't think they really can. Especially just using a bunch of op-amps. Increasing ambiance is more of a psychoacoustics trick than a physics trick but physics is involved and nobody that does it well tries to use only two channels.

If you want to increase the ambiance or similar effects of a two channel recording, something I am EXTREMELY interested in since I have like 800 stereo CDs(and a huge number of LPs) but only one or two hundred discrete sources, at the very least what you likely need to do is increase the speaker and amplifier count. The first thing might be a center channel. (I would like to try the SST Trinaural processor designed by the late great Jim Bongiorno of Ampzilla fame) There are members here that like "wide" channels. But the one the comes to mind has separate HT and music systems and the HT system is 17.1 iirc. So he has gone for "the full Monty" so to speak.

More reasonable than that (at least for starting out) would be a 5.1 or 5.0 system depending on whether it is for music or HT. (home theater) I am not an HT guy particularly. There are many that think that for most music a 5.0 is sufficient. To upmix to that from a stereo source you can used DPL II music, or a Lexicon Logic 7 equipped processor. The Involve audio Surround Master from Australia (see posts from Chucky 3042) can upmix so well that there is a thread called "Stuff that sounds great on a Surround Master" which started with the SM1 , they are about to release the three and I intend to buy one (about $700 i think) There also is the Meridian TriField processor even pricier to get than the Logic 7. And the new darling of upmixing , the Auro 3D Auromatic upmixer which folks really seem to like. Available on newer HT equipment. There are computer based upmixers if your music is file based and there is lots of info on that here.

Many forum members here use various legacy decoders to extract the maximum quadrophonic goodness from legacy sources and equipment. A great deal of that gear , back in the day was already better than most folks ears. I sorely regret having missed it back in the 70s.

This can be a very deep rabbit hole to dive into. You will find LOTS of help here. But it takes some commitment of time monyas and learning. It is a very big subject. I considered myself a pretty advanced audiophile when I got interested in multi channel. A LOT to learn.

Welcome.
 
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LuvMyQuad

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I played with the Sonic Holography both back in the day and more recently. At this moment there is a Carver C10 sitting on the floor of my listening room which I probably will sell soon.

I am not empowered to speak for the group but compared to real multi channel whether it is matrix encoded in stereo or one of the discrete methods, the sonic holography thing is mainly a bit of a gimmick. I have tried it out on a very good stereo and can't decide, what, if anything, it does. There have been other similar things. My late stereo buddy and I once wasted an entire week end trying to get a "Denon Phono Crosstalk Canceller " to work using blind testing and it did NOTHING. Without as much "scientific" testing I do feel the same way about the Carver Sonic Holography. (I wish my late BFF were here to help me decide that)
I played with a C-9 quite a bit in my stereo days. It was a real mixed bag for me and eventually I decided I was better off without it. If the program material suited it, it did increase the width of the sound stage, no question. But it always did so at the expense of the center image, making it more recessed and one dimensional. And it had to be the tiniest listening window of any processing device I ever had. Move your head 4 inches and the effect lightens and eventually goes away, but the damage to the center image remained. I didn't care for it.
 

proufo

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Very, very distracting specially if you are familiarized with the original mix.

Very old equipment. If you want a taste of that get a Lexicon unit.
 

Sonik Wiz

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No experience with Carver Sonic Holography but there's been many pieces of gear over the years based on the same principle. I had at one time a JVC unit that used delay like the Carver to widen & deepen the soundstage. I also DL'ed a free app that would process stereo using delay as well as HRTF for the same effect. I think it was called Ambiophonic?? Don't forget the Polk speakers that used a set of drivers mounted to the side of main drivers, wired out of phase to create the widening effect. I've heard them. A honky comb filtered mess compared with similar Polks. And of course the latest iteration of this type of processing is in the Surround Master v2 called TSS, Two Speaker Surround. All of these fail to produce anything as satisfying as real surround, & I'll include the SM (using the Involve/QS mode) and some other units that do a superb job of synthing stereo into surround.
 
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jeffmackwood

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Thanks everyone for the replies so far.

In no particular order...

I did not mention the Polk SDA line of speakers - which were, I believe, recently re-introduced - because while I have listened to them way back when in a showroom, I never owned a pair and never listened to them for any length of time. I would like to listen to them at some time in the future.

As I think I mentioned in my intro post when I joined this site last week, I'm a big surround sound fan and have pursued it, both native and processed, in probably all of its forms ever since I caught the hi-fi bug in the early '70s. (Yes, I even had an 8-track-based Quad system in my bedroom.)

I have a considerable collection of multichannel DVD-Audio and SACD, with the latter being ripped to a Synology server and streamed natively - as well as hundreds more from other formats: Blu-ray Audio, LD, DTS-CD, DVD multichannel, and even all of the Monster Music titles.

I have two main surround systems in my home, with a third to be put in place early next year. One of those is a basement-based 7.1 system that I refer to as my main HT. It's used for movies, concert videos, and music. Because the room is extensively treated, and has multiple source components, I've also installed two semi-separate stereo systems within it - and one of those is the one I use with one of my Carver C-9s. And as I said above, the results can be amazing.

I have a thread about my main HT over at SHF. Rather than repeating here what's already there, here's a link to it. The thread's over three years old but I add new posts whenever I make changes to the system, so skip to the end to see it as it now looks.

But back to the Carver C-9...

I can certainly understand how it's not everyone's cup of tea. Or maybe only mine! :) As I mentioned, I have two units in play. The other one is in a living room stereo system that uses a pair of Totem Sttaf speakers. There, mostly because of the room, the effect is not as dramatic. Never unpleasant; but sometimes nothing to get very excited about.

Jeff
 
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newslane

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Folks,

On another site I posted what follows here, as part of a discussion about expanded soundstage with stereo recordings using a two-speaker stereo set up. Immediately afterwards I thought that what I posted might make for an interesting thread discussion on this site. I did a site search here and could only find one thread that made any mention - in a few posts - of the Carver C-9 Sonic Hologram Generator. (Note to mods: if this is not the right place to start this thread, please feel free to move it.)




Carver C-9 Sonic Hologram Generator.

Read about it here (page 33) and here (page 20).

Short of using a multichannel set-up, using either "native" or processed "surround" sound, in my experience the Carver is the only way that I've ever been able to experience greatly expanded depth, height and (especially) width from a two-channel system.

As those reviews I linked to say, it is very much dependent on source material, but with some material the effect can be startling. (What those reviews might also not emphasize enough, is how important it is to follow the placement / layout instructions in the C-9 owner's manual. The effect is very much dependent on physical positioning of speakers and listening position etc. and the net effect does drop off considerably the more you deviate. In one of the two C-9 systems that I'm running - in a stereo system in my main HT - everything is as "perfect" as can be, and when listening I can certainly tell that it is.)

In general, with two stereo speakers only, and without using something like the C-9 or other processing (like DPL-IIx Music), increasing the width and depth seem to be the two parameters that are easiest to do, especially width. But height? Not so easy. (Note that I'm talking about soundstage, which to me is not the same as simply sound. A floor-to-ceiling-sized speaker will give you sound that fills what can be the entire height of the room in front of you, but a (relatively) small set of bookshelf speakers on stands could provide much better (I know that's a subjective term) height soundstage. Regardless, my experience is that expanding the soundstage's height is much more elusive than width and depth.)

And that's where the Carver C-9 comes in. Again limited to source material, it can provide height cues that you would never expect to hear. So far my best example is Jean-Michel Jarre's Oxygene, Parts I and II in particular. Perhaps it's the totally-artificial nature of the recording itself (as opposed to, say, an orchestra on stage), but it can provide an Atmos-like experience from two stereo speakers. It's uncanny.



Do any other members currently use a Carver C-9 and if so, what stereo recordings have resulted in a surround-like effect (and how would you describe the change in soundstage width, depth and height)?

Jeff
Hi Jeff,

I'm in all the way with Sonic Holography, and in fact I created the Facebook Sonic Holography page: Log into Facebook

I built my listening room to accommodate this system. I have a Carver C-4000 preamp, and I have worked to create the exact set up that Carver describes in the manual: Klipsch surround speakers positioned exactly where they should be for the time delay system, roof level and 10 feet behind; and Klipsch main speakers exactly equidistant from my listening chair, about 50 inches away and 20 inches apart (I used a laser measuring tool to ensure that both speakers are exactly the same distance from my head). The complexity of the set up and the fact that you can listen in only one place is the main limitation of the system.

To enhance the holographic image I wanted to eliminate any chance of cross-talk between the channels, so I have a bridged Carver M-500t Mark II amp for each channel. The C-4000 and the amps were rebuilt by Carver expert Greg Garska (you should read Bob Carver's recommendation of his work on Greg's Nelion Audio site), and Greg installed a "Gundry" upgrade in the C-4000's holography circuit.

I could not disagree more with those who call sonic holography a gimmick, and here's why: properly set up, the listener can pinpoint each instrument where it was in the mix within 12 inches or so of its location. This works especially well with small jazz combos - each instrument is clearly and precisely separated. You can turn your head to "look" at the instruments in space. When a studio trick like an instrument panning from left to right is used, you can follow the music's precise location with your eyes as it moves between the speakers.

You mentioned height in your post, and interestingly just this week I was listening to a Japanese remaster of "Chocolate Kings" by PFM, which has a second disk of the band live in Nottingham. I noticed that when Mauro Pagini played violin, the music appeared about 18'' to the left of the left speaker, and about 6 feet off the ground. Franco Mussida's guitar was about 18" to the right of the right channel, and eye level to me. I realized it was like being in front the stage, with Franco Mussida playing seated and Pagini standing while playing the violin. I listen in darkness, and I could "see" this image. I have noted other songs that have a height element, such as the synthesizer at the end of "Lucky Man" by ELP. It rises up on the left, and goes over the top of the speakers to the right. The effect works best in complete darkness when the listener cannot see the speakers, otherwise the eyes insist the music is coming from a speaker. With my set up, speakers just four feet or so in front of me and 20 inches apart, the music is in a 160 degree arc and about 10 feet behind the speakers, depending on how adventurous the mix was and where the instruments are placed in the mix. Some instruments can appear directly to the left or right, creating a 180 degree arc.

My 5.1 system is in the four corners of listening room, surrounding my Carver set up, and I have all of the 5.1 releases from my favorite bands, but 80% of the time I listen in holography because the instruments are separated like they are in 5.1, but right in front of you. And it's great to think that your entire stereo music collection can be listened to in this way. It's really something special when set up correctly, and that's easier said than done.

I have attached a list of music in my collection that sound adventurous in holography - that is, a lot of thought went into the mix, creatively using the stereo soundfield.
 

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jeffmackwood

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Fantastic post!

I gave your attached list a quick look and I have quite a number of those albums in my collection. I'll start working my way through them this afternoon.

If you can, give Jarre's Oxygene a listen. I hear sounds passing diagonally directly above my head. In my main HT system I'd swear I was listening to 7.1, rather than 2.0 with the C-9 in it.

Jeff
 

newslane

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[/QUOTE]
Fantastic post!

I gave your attached list a quick look and I have quite a number of those albums in my collection. I'll start working my way through them this afternoon.

If you can, give Jarre's Oxygene a listen. I hear sounds passing diagonally directly above my head. In my main HT system I'd swear I was listening to 7.1, rather than 2.0 with the C-9 in it.

Jeff
I'm on Discogs right now! Thanks for the tip.
 

gene_stl

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As a result of the above posts I may try again with the C10 that I have. All the times I have switched SH on and off I am at the preamp in the center , not at the MLP. I will peruse the links mentioned.

But I stil am very skeptical.
 

newslane

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As a result of the above posts I may try again with the C10 that I have. All the times I have switched SH on and off I am at the preamp in the center , not at the MLP. I will peruse the links mentioned.

But I stil am very skeptical.
Let me know if I can help! PM me.....
 

THX1136

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I'm wondering if the list of 'suggested recordings' that Dynaco included with their Quadapter would be ideal for the Carver set up? Here's a partial list:
Beach Boys: Sunflower & Surf's Up
Beaver/Krause: Gandharva
Berio: 'Sinfonia' (Columbia MS 7268) Section II in particular
The Flame (Brother 2500)
Quincy Jones: Walking in Space (A&M SP 3023)
Lee Michaels (A&M 4199)
Pink Floyd: Ummagumma
Simon & Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Waters - Cecelia & Bye Bye Love in particluar
Stockhausen: Electronic Music (DG SPLM 138811)
Kurzwellen (DG 2707045)
Wagner: Siegfried (London OSA 1508)
The Who: Live at Leeds - Magic Bus in particular

There are many more. On the list they have an asterisk to indicate 'substantial front-back directionality' when played through a Quadaptor. Since the Carver approach utilizes some of the same attributes - out of phase info, etc. - perhaps these recordings would show similar results when played through it.

Also, they mention the 'Dynaco 4-Dimensional Demonstration Disc' which was available through Dynaco dealers or direct from the company for under $4. Has anyone heard one of these lps - or have a copy?

Also to the point made about 'gimmickry', the Carver setup is taking advantage of how we 'translate' audio info and the way our brain 'decodes' that info to where we can pinpoint the location of sounds. That may seem like a gimmick, but from my pov it's just taking what we have 'built in' and exploiting the ear-brain connection to it's fullest in the way the audio is processed.

Another related thought: several years ago (maybe mid 90s) Mix Magazine had an article on how eq'ing audio in particular ways can alter our perception of where the sound is coming from. I recall the article even had an example of a particular eq setting that would result in the audio appearing to come from above or behind the listener. Been a long time ago so I apologize for not having better info (that and the fact I sold all my back copies to someone at IK Multimedia).
 

newslane

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Bob Carver himself refers to Sonic Holography as an "illusion", so "gimmick" is consistent with that. To me, it comes down to being able to isolate a specific instrument to a specific place, and to me that makes this system unique and not at all "surround sound". I find it endlessly entertaining to note the decisions made in the studio where to place things.

I have experience with two of the albums/artists listed - Ummagumma, and a different Stockhausen piece. The latter is mind-blowing, with multiple (12?) discrete instruments arrayed in a wide arc. The Ummagumma studio album is better than the live one.
 
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newslane

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Fantastic post!

I gave your attached list a quick look and I have quite a number of those albums in my collection. I'll start working my way through them this afternoon.

If you can, give Jarre's Oxygene a listen. I hear sounds passing diagonally directly above my head. In my main HT system I'd swear I was listening to 7.1, rather than 2.0 with the C-9 in it.

Jeff
Jeff...I bought the new master recording of Oxygene, which includes a 5.1 and a live version. I'll let you know how it sounds on my system. Thanks again for the tip.
 

newslane

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Sonic holography isn't any more an illusion than regular two channel stereo.

Doug
Doug, that's what Carver says in the manual - stereo is an illusion, too, but he argues that it's an incomplete one. Sonic Holography completes it, he says.
 
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THX1136

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Bob Carver himself refers to Sonic Holography as an "illusion", so "gimmick" is consistent with that.
For me the word 'gimmick' brings a negative thought to the expression which directed my thoughts on it's use. It comes down to our unique life experiences and how we each have the impressions we have on various things. That makes your thoughts just as valid as mine. Your thoughts are more in line with the actual definition; mine are more emotionally driven which moves my reaction 'out of context'. Thanks for the reminder and for sharing your thoughts as it helps me understand much more clearly where you're coming from and your own perception.
 
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