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Voicing a System: To colour or not to colour? - Page 2

post #16 of 262
Just look at my sig. Every thing in my chain has been modded to impart the best presentation to my ears, with the music I like. Unfortunately, the music I like is mostly horribly horribly recorded/mastered/burned/ripped, whatever. Let's admit it, early bebop is not the most high fidelity thing in the world. Neither is mid-80's new wave. Neither is grungy live rock 'n roll.

So I take the HP-2, and do things to it that Joe Grado would revoke my listening license for. But in the end, almost everything is tolerably enjoyable to the point where I'm just grooving to music again, and the better recordings just pop out and really are a pleasure when they are served up on the queue.

It's not the most technically proficient rig, I'll be the first to admit, but it makes my music sound Real (versus fake/artificial/processed, I can't stand that, including EQ), and Really Good (cutting down on the Garbage In by spraying some perfume on it before going to Garbage Out. I use a modded soundcard and amp that brings the bass, the PRaT, and the Grado keeps up as one of the fastest most forward cans out there, plus the Cpads give some really impressive soundstage, just the amount that I like). That's good enough for me!

Edit- I love "Jazz at Massey Hall" with Bird and Diz and other Lords of Bop. So to the poster above me, I highly recommend picking it up!
post #17 of 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by bangraman
Stick one of these in the mix. Best done in the digital domain. All the colour you could want, and IMHO a much better prospect than hit or miss amps. Pick the base favoured flavour of your headphone, the most neutral, accurate amp (i.e. one that measures well) and tweak away. Takes time to use effectively, but no more than evaluating multiple amps, tuberolling, etc.


http://www.tcelectronic.com/Finalizer96K
IMO this absolutely the wrong way to go about it.
If you want all your cd's to sound like they are played on the radio (compressed to hell) this is the way to go.
This box is supposed to be a poorman's mastering engineer one stop box.
It has it's use but not for reprocessing your well recorded cd's (IMO).

Veto
post #18 of 262
I don't agree that most recording are voiced for low-end gear. The majority of the real pro Audio Engineers are perfectionist and they work with real high-end gear.

A good mix should translate on everything from crappy mono radio to $40k setup, and honestly i'm always amazed by details, small reverb, stereo effect, etc...that you can hear on very good setup from recordings not supposedly 'audiophile'. Many, many good mix are painstakingly recorded with lot of 'things', soud effects, which are absolutely not audible on average stereo setup.

If you find lot of horrible recordings it's from lack of skill, maybe from very small indies labels, i don't know. Like Jazz, 99% of my music collection sounds great, only few old recordings sound really bad.

I also think lot of audiophiles like or try to achieve a real neutral reproduction, because IMO coloration will always be boring on the long run and will make all recordings sound the same.

EQ-ing won't resolve anything about coloration, quite the opposite, it will add it's own coloration. IMO/E neutrality is more about low harmonics distortion than absolutely flat frequency response. And the shorter your signal path will be the lowest 'chances' you'll have to color your sound.
post #19 of 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by ephemere
The human brain is the world's most powerful DSP. Adding additional coloration on top of a bad recording obscures information and makes it harder for the brain to do its work. This is why I never use EQ when I'm doing any serious listening. Jeff Wong speaks the word.
I concur, and you yourself ephemere speak a lot of the word as well. To me, sins of commission are far worse than sins of ommission. When you deliberately add something to the music like a coloration or and equalizer or what not, you may create a sound that is pleasurable but over long-term it will constantly remind you that you are still listening to reproduced music.

If something is missing from the music due to gear however, the brain does an amazing job of "filling in the blanks." The brain works wonderfully as a natural EQ and DSP, as long as you let it and keep your signal path as tranparent and clean as possible.
post #20 of 262
I try to get the most accurate rendition of acoustic instruments possible in my rig. However, as I was reminded numerous times, we all hear music differently, and what sounds realistic to me may not sound realistic to other people.

For instance:

I was a concert pianist, and I am used to hearing a piano as I would were I sitting in front of the keys. This means that I'll hear more of the vibrations of the strings, hear a brighter sound as the upper frequencies aren't lost due to the distance the sound travels, hear more detail from the piano itself (pedals and keys creaking, pages turning, fingernails tapping keys, etc) but less of the acoustic properties of the recording venue, and in general I'll prefer a more upfront sound - it sounds real to me this way. Someone who is used to hearing music from the middle or back of a concert hall will probably prefer a warmer sound as the upper frequencies will be attenuated at their listening location. Ditto for the forwardness. Are we trying for a specific coloration here? Not at all. Both of us want the most realistic sound possible, we just have different definitions of what is real - to us. Hence the wide variety in presentations, none of which being the ideal, but most of which being ideal for a specific type of listener. The choice to color or not to color may not be a conscious effort to create a specific effect as much as it is to reproduce music the way the system's creator hears it. We also have different physiognomies, and differently shaped ears and ear canals. There probably are significant audible difference in how the same music sounds to different people, so if I hear one system as neutral and you hear another diametrically opposed system as being neutral - we're probably both right.

And of course, let's be honest here... who, in the real world, has audio gear like we do? Who has tube amps, high-end electrostatic or dynamic systems, obscure esoteric speaker systems worth more than the house they're in, racks of pre-amps and DA converters... not too many people at all. We're a niche audience, and most recordings aren't made with our gear in mind. I absolutely agree that most recordings are mixed for subpar consumer gear with aberrant frequency responses. I see it all the time in my electronic music - a lot of music is created with less bass than it should, because the gear it will be played on (and presumably was mixed on with the purpose of recreating consumer-level systems) has horribly bloated midbass and no deep bass. On my more-or-less linear system, these records sound anemic and bassless. It's not the fault of the system! The bass is underpowered in the mix to make the music clearer on subpar systems, and to prevent them from distorting from overpowered bass.

From that standpoint, a system with some warmth/coloration in the midbass and midrange may not necessarily be linear with properly mixed recordings, but may result in a more linear, realistic playback with recordings that are mixed for consumer level gear.

Honestly, the more I think about this, the more an audiophile quality equalizer looks like a good addition to my system If my quest for linearily and neutrality is subjective, and is most likely defeated by the quality of the source material itself... Aw, hell, I'll just go listen to some psytrance
post #21 of 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veto
IMO this absolutely the wrong way to go about it.
If you want all your cd's to sound like they are played on the radio (compressed to hell) this is the way to go.
This box is supposed to be a poorman's mastering engineer one stop box.
It has it's use but not for reprocessing your well recorded cd's (IMO).

Veto

No-one's saying you have to use every effect on it in one go And a little goes a long way. The thing about outboard FX is that you can tweak it at your leisure and even take it out of your chain if you don't feel like it.
post #22 of 262
Here's my $0.02 as someone with a very basic home studio. When I'm making sounds, whether they might be music, ambient, whatever - i want that output to be fairly flat and neutral. And given my budget at the time, i think I have achieved a fairly flat and neutral setup (at least for my needs). Listening to music, however, is quite different. If i'm listening for analytical purposes, then my mixer/monitors sound great. But when I'm listening to music for a pure enjoyment (non-fetishist) purposes, I'll adjust the signal. Either with EQ, or sending it to an entirely different output (amps/headphones).

Here's an interesting example, I visited my parents recently and discovered my father's old SONY TA-F45 integrated amp. My intention is not for this to become vintage/new debate, but simply to state that this amp brings with it some MAJOR colouration. Frequencial wackiness aside, this thing is WET - really quite sloppy, but is an absolute dream to listen to, just warm and delicious.

When i first started making really bad dnb and digital hardcore nearly eight years ago *shiver* i really had no idea what i was doing (I'm no pro now by any means). But when i first started sharing my compositions with friends, listening to burned CDR's on crap car stereos, discmans, and boomboxes i began to realize that colouration is part of the equation, and is fundamentally unavoidable.
post #23 of 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaZZ
Does anybody feel the need to equalize or otherwise color a live concert because it sounds boring the way it sounds?
That's a concert, not a recording. If the hall is decent, you have a good seat and the orchestra is good, you're all set. Most classical/jazz recordings are properly recorded anyway. It's the rock stuff that's usually butchered and buggered with. For example, Miles Davis "Kind Of Blue" sounds nice through any headphone. But many pop/rock records need to be "averaged out" (ex. a flat padded RS-1 will smooth out some of the screeching highs). It is a form of "cheating" I suppose but if it makes the music more enjoyable, then so be it. Most of music happens in the midrange anyway, so here is the main reason that those Grado's shine and are more listenable in the long term.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ephemere
The human brain is the world's most powerful DSP. Adding additional coloration on top of a bad recording obscures information and makes it harder for the brain to do its work.
Brain should not have to work. But bad sound will make it work (trying to filter out or ignore sonic anomalies), to the detriment of musical enjoyment.
post #24 of 262
Outstanding. I'll take what I got from this thread.
post #25 of 262
the recording process has a few parts and the engineer in the studio is almost always not the person who masters the recording for release on cd or lp. Most recording are ok to excellent at the stage of stereo mix then the tape is given an engineer to master. The person who masters either Fs it up with Noise reduction, heavy handed eq and compression .
Different masters of the same recording can sound vastly different.

IMHO eq or anyother addition is never the answer more circuitry in the chain only gets you further away from the sound of the recording then closer. With that said I am a detail and ambience freak over wanting bass or mid peaks or dips.
The best place to start is the best version of the music.
post #26 of 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by aerius
My system's coloured but I'm liking it a lot more than my "neutral" Senn 580 setup.
Ahaha, senn 580's neutral. :P

But boring? Yes.

Biggie.
post #27 of 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanth
If recordings are produced to be played on craptacular gear, then perhaps having the most linear and transparent rigs are not the ideal in most instances. Heck even many jazz and classical recordings are subpar! Must we then only search out those prized audiophile recordings? Steve Hoffman specials? Some folks actually do this! I'd rather listen to a ton of music myself.




So then, given most recordings are off, making it impossible to ever get remotely close to the what the musicians truly sounded like, are we able to admit that some people like one colour vs. another? Some enjoy a really warm and thick sound, others mildly so, others prefer cool, or down right frigid. However, could it be that by adding the proper colouration we can correct the colourations or alterations the engineers implemented? Can we make the music sound more natural?


Though this stems from recent musings on RS-1's and my interview with John Grado, it does seem that most folks aren't interested in studio monitors but would much prefer some fine speakers (or headphones) that are resolving, extended, fast, transparent and have that level of colour that suits one's tastes.

So what say you all?
A: I think that you are getting there in your answer, but heres what i discovered:
Although lots of recordings are made to sound on craptacular gear, also lots of mastering engineers produce sound to sound great as you upgrade gear.
For instance: The beat and dominating 60hz bass is emphasized and can be heard on most stereo, while the midrance comes out clear, and thats pretty much the "core of the music.It can be heard on anytype of speaker
But wait! what happens when i put the ssame song on something quality, neutral with a good sub instead of crap? Now the music still has has discovered transparency, airy highs and separation in the music while the bass still hits, but its also layered! And also the tiny tiny sounds like ambience, bg vocals and effects [not the core of the music] are greatly audible. Trying out my Ted Jensen remastered BoA best of soul on different speakers i noticed this greatly. I do believe he has made recordings that sound good on high end and low end.

A: . Mixing in a studio sound into an enclosed studio "box" compared to reality where we listen to things in live streaming data the acoustics and environment is much different than a production on CD.I guess everything has color in it, from the things that music is produced on, the Eq shaping guitar amps, the environment recorded in, the headphones the user is mixin on...the skill of the mixer and masterer is also important. So what i am saying here is the studio production to try to simulate something realistic or fantasy is up to the skills of the engineers, and environment presented in.

A:Imho i think Coloration can be used warmth and all that other stuff that you like is up to you. Sometimes engineers make a sound too cold than what is "true" Flat being equal volume of everything they mixed. Flat doesn't equate to cold or warm. I feel the recordings should be as balanced as possible to what it would be if a performer were to perform live, or how they want it to sound regardless. If you ask the musician, and producer what sound equipment they want you to hear their recordings on i think the answer would be a lot better!!!

So in conclusion
A. sound is subjective
if you like it warm i guess thats ok, cold thats ok too. Whether you like your sound being lied to you thats fine.
B. Skills of engineers are highly important
Flat doesn't mean cold or boring.
C. Live recordings if mastereed well are fantastic

D. I am pretty damn sure your audio knowledge way surpasses mine, but this is just what i could come up with from studio producers, working in mixing, audio tv production, Audio class and ted jensen.

This was a fine thread you made
post #28 of 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beagle
Brain should not have to work. But bad sound will make it work (trying to filter out or ignore sonic anomalies), to the detriment of musical enjoyment.
For you, perhaps, but not for me. Consider two of the several available transfers of Schnabel's Beethoven sonata cycle from the 1930s. EMI is a label marketed at the lowest common denominator, and their transfer has a great deal of noise-reduction applied. It sounds nice and mellow. Good background music. Pearl is a label marketed at the connoisseur, and they applied almost no noise reduction or other processing to their transfer. The real Schnabel appears in these transfers, for anyone who is willing to listen.
post #29 of 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by NotoriousBIG_PJ
Ahaha, senn 580's neutral. :P

But boring? Yes.
Yup, that's why "neutral" is quotes. And yeah, it is boring, that's why it's on computer duty.

Listening these days is mostly on my AKG K340, with my Grado 225's being used for reference purposes and to rock out to guitar goodness.
post #30 of 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by jp11801
... The person who masters either Fs it up with Noise reduction, heavy handed eq and compression .
Different masters of the same recording can sound vastly different.

IMHO eq or anyother addition is never the answer more circuitry in the chain only gets you further away from the sound of the recording then closer. With that said I am a detail and ambience freak over wanting bass or mid peaks or dips.
The best place to start is the best version of the music.
Mastering is needed for almost every recording!
I think an awful lot of people would be really disappointed if they heard a raw mix.
Most recording studios dont have the right listening equipment to really make accurate sound decissions, certainly the smaller ones. This may sound strange but IMO this is true. Most of the time there's gone no thought in room/accoustic design etc.
Also don't forget that the mastering engineer is supposed to be someone who looks at the overall sound and doesn't have to (can't) worry about single instruments. Fresh ears. It's amasing how this differs from mixing, and a whole different set of skills is needed.
That there are an awfull lot of bad mastered recordings out there doesn't mean the process is bad. Just shows that it really is an art.


Veto
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