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Noticeable distortion.... pls help! :'(

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hello head-fiers

I've been pondering over this issue practically since I've joined head-fi, and hopefully this is the right place to post this sort of thing.

When I listen to music, at a 'certain frequency' and 'volume', I hear distortion. It IS noticeable and incredibly frustrating. If it's any indication, I can consistently hear 'it' happening on more complex jazz/classical sound tracks e.g.: when the 'trumpets' blow (sound distorts more as the louder it blows). This also happens sometimes with my rock CD's in electric guitar passages (nowhere near as bad). Of course, it's not as bad if I'm listening on very low level.

What is causing this? or is this just the reality of music through electronics?

Is it my source? the CD's? headphones? amp? even IC's?????!

I did a little bit of research. I have a couple of friends in the marching band and I did come to watch them practicing in the field. I focused as hard as I could on the 'trumpets' (sry I have no idea what those big things are called) but the sound definitely never distorted like the way it does with any setup I can come up with.

I tried everything from iPod shuffle-> R10(!!) to pioneer->mpx3 se (with all sylvania tubes)->sony earbuds w/ 1/4" adapter (the bassy'est setup I've ever heard in my life). In terms of distortion the bass on the latter did cover up pretty much the entire sound spectrum, but that's not good is it. While the former.......... >_>"

I hope some members can help me out with this issue.
post #2 of 13
It's probably the way the recording was made; these days they blow up the dynamic level until it is a huge wall of sound with minimum dynamic levels, just for the sake of being loud.
post #3 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMarchingMule View Post
It's probably the way the recording was made; these days they blow up the dynamic level until it is a huge wall of sound with minimum dynamic levels, just for the sake of being loud.
I don't see this being the case in a classic/jazz recording.
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by colonelkernel8 View Post
I don't see this being the case in a classic/jazz recording.
Well then, whatever it may be, I can guarantee you guys it's not the ICs.
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Akabeth View Post
I can consistently hear 'it' happening on more complex jazz/classical sound tracks e.g.: when the 'trumpets' blow (sound distorts more as the louder it blows).
I have a decent amount of baroque and earlier trumpet music in my classical collection. My understanding is that the trumpet is a notoriously difficult instrument to record well.

I have also found myself that choral pieces with large choirs can easily sound heavily distorted.
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Everyone above, thanks for the insight

Quote:
Originally Posted by nick_charles View Post
My understanding is that the trumpet is a notoriously difficult instrument to record well.

I have also found myself that choral pieces with large choirs can easily sound heavily distorted.
Wow I didn't know some instruments can be harder to capture than others I thought if the noise it makes were within the recording equipment's frequency response (?) it'll be captured with no problems.
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Akabeth View Post
Wow I didn't know some instruments can be harder to capture than others I thought if the noise it makes were within the recording equipment's frequency response (?) it'll be captured with no problems.
A digital system can sample any arbitrarily complex waveform within it's parameters, the problem as I understand it lies at the microphone end.
post #8 of 13
the world standard neumann electrostatic microphones have one
of the lowest distortions of any microphone. And they are .5% thd
at peak levels. Dynamic mic's can have a distortion in the 2 to 3%
range. If it was recorded on an analog recorder, as the machine
approaches even -10db, the distortion and compression rise an
additional 2 to 3%.

Instruments like a trumpet with a high peak to rms waveform are
indeed hard to record.

All digitial recording chains certainly help a bunch, and some of
the better new mic's are as low as .05% thd.

Then you compress the crap out of it and stuff it into an ipod and
all the fidelity goes away.
post #9 of 13
Your profile picture is awesome, Aky.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tridacnid View Post
Your profile picture is awesome, Aky.
Was that intended for me? Thanks

---------

I'd like to post an update for the thread and hopefully provide an insight to concerning head-fi'ers.

I have been rotating around more than 20 Compilation, Classical and Jazz CD's since my last post above. Some are remastered albums, some are compilations of old 50/60's records in CD, movie sound tracks, and others are just 'normal releases'.

Upon more scrutiny, it's quite apparent that all the distortion originated from the recording. Whether it was by the intention of the engineer, editors, etc, there were more than a few instances (>10) where the same song sounded 'very' different on different CD's. As examples I have three well known movie tracks:
Suite by Hans Zimmer (from Gladiator) <-- btw this one sounds -absolutely INCREDIBLE - through the R10 + JAN RCA 12sx7gt & 2x Sylvania 6bl7gt
Duel of the Fates by John Williams (from Star Wars - The Phantom Menace)
The Fellowship by Howard Shore (from The Lord of the Rings - Fellowship of the Ring)

Of course I can't list all the nuances, subtle differences, good and bad of all three above since it'll be too much to write For me, I was amazed that the remastered version(s) often sound 'better' than the original CD's. The trumpets 'distortion' are [at certain parts] much less apparent on the earlier compared to the latter.

So this is why they say 'source first' I'm beginning to buy into that.
post #11 of 13
I'm reminded that I also have heard distortion with trumpets. I have a particular memory of hearing it very clearly on redbook version of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. I did not hear it on the SACD version, which leads me to wonder if the redbook version isn't pushing into digital clipping.

Dunno...just a thought
post #12 of 13
since the title is about distortion... can somebody explain BRIEFLY to me in a simple (own) words what IMD and THD really are?
(yes, ive read all technical info in the net)
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by knights View Post
since the title is about distortion... can somebody explain BRIEFLY to me in a simple (own) words what IMD and THD really are?
(yes, ive read all technical info in the net)
Not an expert but I'll take a stab at it.

IMD & THD are measurements of distortion.

Distortion is something unwanted added to a signal, something that wasn't there to benign with.

Total Harmonica Distortion is a measurements of distortions that are added to a single pure frequency at harmonic intervals. The intervals are whole multiples of the original frequency ie 2x ,3x, 4x the signals frequency.

Inter Modulated Distortion is measured by using two pure tones that are not harmonically related one low and one high. The output is examined to see how much effect the low tone has on the high one.
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