Ken B Jammen

The Essential Ken B Jammen

The Real Scoop on Musical Auditory Acuity

January 19th, 2016

A recent discussion about guitar myths brought me back to some research I was fortunate to take part of earlier in 2015.  This research had to do with auditory acuity and different perceptions of how things sounded by different people.   The study was an attempt to find out why people heard things different and why people were able to hear the difference between an analog signal and a digital signal.

Although I am not privy to the results of the study, some interesting information crossed my path.  People who could consistently tell an analog signal from a digital signal, could also consistently tell a high quality digital recording of an analog amplifier from a high quality digital recording of an amplifier modeler.

Hearing acuity is more than hearing different frequencies at different levels.  It is also more than the minimum threshold of dB where frequencies are heard.  Some people are able to hear frequencies and complexities in the frequencies and some people are not.  Which brings me back to people having strong arguments about things that affect tone on the interwebs…

People are not tested (nor do I think there is a test) for heightened auditory acuity.  No one is able to systemically test and quantify how well someone can hear nuances in different sounds.  However, we are able, to test for color-blindness, identify people who have that disorder and inform them.  We generally do not have people who are color-blind arguing what color things are because they are identified.   If we were able to identify people who for a better term, have Dulled Auditory Acuity to FrEquency Nuances (DAA-FeN) and inform them, these people would likely not plaster the interwebs with their uninformed arguments.   So if people with identified DAA-FeN did argue, we would all just pass on and know how silly they are arguing on something they cannot hear.

So, we must make a conscious decision to pass on the argument that my $200 modeler sounds as good as a Dumble, tone wood doesn’t matter in guitars, cables don’t matter in tone, and the rest of the silly arguments that circle the interwebs consistently.  Focus on what matters most to you, improving your skill and improving your tone, not arguing hues with those who are color-blind.

Single Coil Sunday – Tube amps are more organic

December 21st, 2014

Here’s Single Coil’s opinions on nearly everything important about guitars. I’ve limited to 20 points, all of which should be accepted as Gospel. Trust ye the word of Single Coil on this folks, he knows what he’s saying.

Point 9

Tube amps still sound more organic than solid state amps. The difference is mostly in the power amp section, however. That’s just the way it is.

Maybe, really? I am not a qualified amp repair person, nor do I care to understand why an amp works.   Maybe a better question to ask is what does organic mean?  What I do know is that a well tuned tube amp sounds great, has better harmonic responses and responds better to dynamics in playing.  From my experience the tube in V1 has the most effect on the overall tone and playing.  A harsh Chinese branded 12ax7 is more brash and brittle sounding than a NOS 1950’s Mullard 12ax7. Even better to my ears is the increased headroom that you get by increasing the headroom by putting a 12au7 in V1.

Take this as food for thought.  The Orange Micro Terror is a tube pre amp into a solid state power amp section.  Put a NOS 12au7 in the pre-amp section and instantly you have a very responsive pedal friendly, less harsh sounding amplifier that is more friendly to pedals than a new Fender.  A good pre-amp tube in V1 is going to be your friend.   That’s the way it is in 2014.