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Sibilance and 'Blame'.

post #1 of 76
Thread Starter 
See, no one likes sibilance in a piece of audio equipment right and I've seen many a time where people on here have dumped a otherwise great piece of equipment, so be it headphones, IEMs and speakers, because of sibilance (the DT880 being a classic example). However it it really the equipment to blame or is the equipment being more revealing of the recording to the point of 'hey there's actually sibilance in this recording'. I feel that alot of people neglect this possibility and too much blame goes on the equipment.

Your opinions?
post #2 of 76
I've found it more the recording but a piece of gear can make it more pronounced. Grado can put you in auditory ICU if you don't tube them.
post #3 of 76
Some recordings are clearly sibilant. Also, while we're on the subject, I think headphones get blamed for sibilance too frequently. I suspect that many times the problem is the recording or a digital source, and the new phones are indeed just revealing what is being produced.
post #4 of 76
Headphones, source / amp hardware, source material, and the sensitivity of the listener = synergy = factor into whether sibilance is experienced as a problem for someone.

Coincidentally, I was listening to one free internet radio station earlier and was hearing way too much sibilance. I switched to a different station and the same song was playing, but the sibilance was gone.
post #5 of 76
Heh, I'd never actually thought of blaming the headphones. I mean, I know some must present sibilance more clearly than others, but it just means the headphones don't go well with sibilant recordings.
post #6 of 76
I think you're generally right. Some headphones are very revealing of the recording and sibilance happens in real life. I've heard sibilance in any number of live performances, so it stands to reason you'd find it in recordings.

I don't know why people expect their headphones to "correct" the recording. They should instead do their best to accurately reproduce what's there.

Put another way, if the recording is sibilant, the headphones better damn well reveal that sibilance or they're not doing their job.

To complain about headphones that reproduce the recording accurately is nonsense. I think quite a few people are used to the rolled off highs on some equipment. When you've heard a lot of live music and favor equipment with plenty of top end competence, you know the sibilance is there and don't freak out if your equipment reproduces it. For one, I don't mind it, since I know the gear is just being accurate.

I also think that underamping and amplifier mismatches can emphasize the top end. A lot of amp problems show up in the bass area - not enough power can leave the bass weak and flabby and force the amp to clip. Even a fairly powerful amp can become bad with a power-robbing impedance mismatch. The upshot there is that while bass is weak, there's usually enough power to get the highs mostly right since they don't use as much power. That can give overemphasis to the highs while the bass is weakly blended in. Keep in mind that amps have output impedance curves, as do headphones, so the power being received by the headphones varies by frequency. This can also lead to overemphasis up top. It's also why careful amp matching is important - there's more to amps than power output. This is where much of an amp's sonic signature comes from.

But don't blame the headphones. The recording is mostly responsible and the amp somewhat.
post #7 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinesekiwi View Post
See, no one likes sibilance in a piece of audio equipment right and I've seen many a time where people on here have dumped a otherwise great piece of equipment, so be it headphones, IEMs and speakers, because of sibilance (the DT880 being a classic example). However it it really the equipment to blame or is the equipment being more revealing of the recording to the point of 'hey there's actually sibilance in this recording'. I feel that alot of people neglect this possibility and too much blame goes on the equipment.

Your opinions?
I think the DT880 250 and DT990 250 are more sib prone then other headphones I have heard. Both 05. It seemed to be pretty consistent with the DT990, to the point of, oh no, here we go again. The DT48 is a bit different.. It is there, and more profound in certain recording due to the heavy focus and uncolored mid range, but veries from none, barley heard, noticeable to distracting. But after listening to many songs, I find it to be the recording.. But, I was using the DT880/DT990 with my DAC1, so maybe it's also gear related.
post #8 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post
I don't know why people expect their headphones to "correct" the recording. They should instead do their best to accurately reproduce what's there.
It's really not that hard to understand. Not everyone wants revealing headphones that don't synergize well with their less than ideal sound card (for example) and less than ideal source material. Accurate (revealing) reproduction is a personal preference that is not shared by or affordable to everyone who enjoys this hobby.
post #9 of 76
I think some of the time people confuse sibilance with notchy/peaky treble. One of them happens in the real world (a type of fricative), and is often in recordings. The other can be a headphone or a gear pairing or also the recording.

Notchy/peaky treble in the 8-10k region can enhance sibilance, but I doubt it is the sibilance itself that causes discomfort or fatigue, but the treble spike.


And, there are some headphones that are almost never accused of sibilance - the HD650 or DT250 come to mind.
post #10 of 76
bah. I think blaming the recording is usually a lame excuse for phones that emphasize sibilance prone frequency ranges.

I don't buy it that recordings are sibilant, and the phones are just "revealing" what is already there. I think some recordings are a little peaky in the top end, but if you listen to a recording like that with a rig that is truly neutral, like a nice HP1000 rig, you can hear the peaky treble that is in the recording, like a pronounced "ssssss", but it still very rarely hurts your ears.

It seems that the vast majority of modern dynamic phones emphasize certain frequencies in order to make them seem more detailed, and then when a recording isn't completely, and absolutely beautiful, a peak in the recording combines with the peak in the phones and it just goes off the charts.

I've read so many people say that headphones can't be sibilant, that it must come from the recording. But this is over simplified, IMO. Yes, the sound that is sibilant is coming from the recording, but it is the headphones that are making a small problem worse. Or, in many cases, there are phones such as certain grados, that make gorgeous recordings sibilant. Try listening to Radiohead on a pair of SR125's and then tell me that it's the fault of the recording...
post #11 of 76
Sssssssssssssssss i b i l a n c e.
post #12 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhythmdevils View Post
bah. I think blaming the recording is usually a lame excuse for phones that emphasize sibilance prone frequency ranges.

I don't buy it that recordings are sibilant, and the phones are just "revealing" what is already there. I think some recordings are a little peaky in the top end, but if you listen to a recording like that with a rig that is truly neutral, like a nice HP1000 rig, you can hear the peaky treble that is in the recording, like a pronounced "ssssss", but it still very rarely hurts your ears.

It seems that the vast majority of modern dynamic phones emphasize certain frequencies in order to make them seem more detailed, and then when a recording isn't completely, and absolutely beautiful, a peak in the recording combines with the peak in the phones and it just goes off the charts.

I've read so many people say that headphones can't be sibilant, that it must come from the recording. But this is over simplified, IMO. Yes, the sound that is sibilant is coming from the recording, but it is the headphones that are making a small problem worse. Or, in many cases, there are phones such as certain grados, that make gorgeous recordings sibilant. Try listening to Radiohead on a pair of SR125's and then tell me that it's the fault of the recording...
Have you ever heard sibilance live?

Get out to some concerts and performances and listen for sibilence. It is there and you will hear it.

If you recorded that performance, then the sibilence will be on the recording.

Play that recording back on headphones and you can't blame the headphones for that.

About that quip regarding sensitive headphones being unaffordable, my first pair of DT48s were $60 or so. The other two pairs were under $100. As much as I love my other audio gear, I still use the DT48 as a reference.
post #13 of 76
You don't even need a concert to hear sibilance - just listen to someone talk.
post #14 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinesekiwi View Post
See, no one likes sibilance in a piece of audio equipment right and I've seen many a time where people on here have dumped a otherwise great piece of equipment, so be it headphones, IEMs and speakers, because of sibilance (the DT880 being a classic example). However it it really the equipment to blame or is the equipment being more revealing of the recording to the point of 'hey there's actually sibilance in this recording'. I feel that alot of people neglect this possibility and too much blame goes on the equipment.

Your opinions?
I agree 100%. I have DT990pro and some people say they are too sibilant but it is as you say. It is the recording that is sibilant and not the headphones. On some recordings I hear no sibilance at all and on some others I do hear some sibilance. I can pick out distortion in recordings very easily with these headphones too and once again it is the recording that is at fault and not the headphones.

Some people have very sibilant voices too. Was listening to radio CBC recently and the guest was female and she had very sibilant voice. Every S was like ssssshhhh. Made my Totem speakers sound sibilant even and I know those are not sibilant speakers.
post #15 of 76
I may be partly to blame for this thread, in regard to the HD800’s. For the record, blame was never pointed directly at one piece of equipment. The outcome of what I now like to term as “slightly hot” treble, was based on my the overall system.

Further listening and scrutinising have changed my opinion somewhat. I find now that the HD800 has indeed softened from extended listening. The result is now very pleasing indeed, and realise the thread was probably pre-mature.

IMHO the HD800’s are very delicately tipped, hook up the wrong wagon and it’ll scream at you, they draw a fine line. Careful system matching is mandatory.
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