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Personal ear resonances / equalizing

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
We all have different ears, and it's a known fact that the ear/ear canal contains resonating frequencies which differ between people, due to the shape and workings of our inner ear. If you lined up 10 people and had them listen to a sine sweep through the exact same setup, they'd all probably report at least 2 spikes in volume at different places (yet within close proximity) of the other listeners.

At least, that's how I'm understanding it. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I think it's less of a specific frequency and more of a range. For example, with my HD600 there's a huge spike between 5150-5200, whereas on the K701 I hear it loudest at 5300. Why this is, I'm not sure.

A few ponderings... 1. Why isn't this as apparent as it is with speakers? I don't have access to any speakers in which I can play a sine sweep so I can't test this right now. However the "crunchiness" I experience in music with headphones doesn't seem to be there through speakers, nor everyday life.

2. Should my brain be adapting to this and cancelling it out? I thought I read that once - but I can hear it, so clearly my brain is not ignoring it.

3. Why aren't more people EQing out their resonating frequencies? Is it a purist thing? I truly wanted to use a non-EQ setup, but the difference between eliminating my resonance freqs and not is astounding. Anything in the 5khz range sounds abysmal if I don't EQ it down by about 8 db - it's THAT bad.

So does anyone know much about this? I googled a bit but it was mostly stuff related to the working of the ear rather than the perceived sound...
post #2 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vkamicht View Post
A few ponderings... 1. Why isn't this as apparent as it is with speakers? I don't have access to any speakers in which I can play a sine sweep so I can't test this right now. However the "crunchiness" I experience in music with headphones doesn't seem to be there through speakers, nor everyday life.
You have to remember that headphones are an extremely unnatural way if taking in sound. High frequencies decay quickly through the air (or solids), on account of how many cycles the waveform goes through in a given distance. Think of standing outside a club, and hearing just the thump-thump of the low frequencies, or being really far from some outdoor event and still hearing the PA. In headphones, those frequencies don't have a distance to attenuate over. That's why headphones sound so "detailed". Some headphone fans really like that. I do not (I find it unrealistic, as you hear a lot of mic detail that you wouldn't hear in real life even if you were two feet away from the source, and also fatiguing), which is why I like really laid-back cans.

So that's what your brain has adjusted to. But I think the fact that you're using sine waves is probably a big factor; headphones or not, sine waves are unique (they are pure tones, which doesn't occur in nature), and I notice perceptable differences in volumes of various frequencies (and a shift from the tone being more prominent in one ear over the other) when playing sine waves on a synth that I do not when playing an actual instrument, or other synthetic waveforms, for that matter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vkamicht View Post
2. Should my brain be adapting to this and cancelling it out? I thought I read that once - but I can hear it, so clearly my brain is not ignoring it.
Well, yes, but you might have, at this point, trained your brain to notice (or even exaggerate) it when listening on headphones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vkamicht View Post
3. Why aren't more people EQing out their resonating frequencies? Is it a purist thing? I truly wanted to use a non-EQ setup, but the difference between eliminating my resonance freqs and not is astounding. Anything in the 5khz range sounds abysmal if I don't EQ it down by about 8 db - it's THAT bad.
I'd really like to believe that the goal when listening to electronically reproduced music is to provide the closest possible facsimile of a live performance. That's an impossible goal, even more so through headphones, so it's always about compromise. So I'd imagine that many people would want to avoid EQ-ing away their natural hearing.

Granted, "audiophiles" are often not musicophiles, to the point that some refuse to listen to live music because there are too many variables. But I'd try to avoid moving into that territory, attempting to produce some artificial "perfect" frequency response curve for your ears.

I also think a lot of this may be in your head. Wait, no, scratch that, your ears are in your head. I mean in your mind. 8 dB is quite a drop, considering that your cans are already dialed down a bit (-3 dB on the HD600's, according to Headroom) at 5kHz.

Also, I don't think you're quite understanding how acoustic resonance works. The effect of the shape of your ear canals, unless you have a physical deformity, is going to be fairly minimal, and is going to affect a broad swath of frequencies. If the sensitivity you have at ~5kHz is truly as dramatic as you say, it's more likely to be an issue with the hair cells resonant to that range than your ear canal.

The effect of acoustic resonance works differently on a body (such as a string) than it does on a tube, particularly when that tube is taking sound in than when it's the source. A body will vibrate sympathetically to a tone that it is resonant to. That's why a singer can break glass in certain very rare situations, or if you play or sing a note in tune on an instrument near a piano while holding down the sustain pedal, the strings of that pitch and on up the harmonic series will ring.

A tube will emphasize the harmonics of a fundamental based on its length and shape. The length of the tube will determine the pitch (to an extent; they aren't magic) produced if a fundamental tone is played directly into it (the vibrating body must be at one end of the tube, like the lips or reed), but that's dependent upon the fundamental; think of a bugle. The shape will determine which harmonics are emphasized (high or low) in the sound; the timbral color. Think of a cornet versus a trumpet, or a curved soprano sax versus a straight one, or saying "o" versus "e". Curved or conical tubes will produce a darker tone (emphasizing the lower harmonics). So the shape is going to effect timbre far more than it is a single pitch.

Of course, Tuvan singers do have the ability to emphasize particular harmonics to produce pitches merely by altering the shape of their mouths, but again that is sound coming out, not going in. If you put a trumpet mouthpiece up to your ear, you're not going to suddenly hear a huge emphasis on a particular pitch. You might hear a slight emphasis on a range of pitches in a given harmonic series, but not a particular frequency.

I hope that was somewhat helpful.
post #3 of 12
there's 3 schools basically:
-those that refuse EQ'ing, because it's "evil"...but they are pretty clueless if you ask me
-those that feel that their brain will EQ those spikes down(partly true)
-those that do EQ to kill resonances using those 2 tutorials and get an as flat as possible FR:
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f4/how...torial-413900/
The necessity of headphone equalization
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSGant View Post
Well, yes, but you might have, at this point, trained your brain to notice (or even exaggerate) it when listening on headphones.
I thought this could be the case - but I noticed it before I noticed it. I know that sounds odd let me explain: before I scrapped my entire rig and bought a new source, amp and phones, I was listening to Grados through an A/V receiver and I had the bass and treble boosted mightily high. Obviously I never noticed anything at this point, because it was being drowned out by lows and highs.

The minute I switched to the Hd600 "purist" setup I immediately noticed something wrong with certain sounds. Electric guitars with a bit of distorted sounded VERY 'crunchy.' Some are supposed to sound that way, but it was very exaggerated. Any cymbals/drums that involved the 5khz range sounded very very unnatural to me. I couldn't explain how they sounded wrong, they just did. Given how much I had paid for a new source and amp too, I was pretty annoyed.

I had honestly given it 1-2 weeks of listening before I had done a sine sweep and heard the increase in volume at the 5khz mark. And it never did sound "right" to me until I equalized that down.

I suppose if I've 'broken' my brain in this regard, I doubt I'll ever be able to listen without EQ on headphones anymore. You know what they say - once it has been seen, it cannot be unseen. Or heard and unheard, apparently


Quote:
Originally Posted by DSGant View Post
I'd really like to believe that the goal when listening to electronically reproduced music is to provide the closest possible facsimile of a live performance. That's an impossible goal, even more so through headphones, so it's always about compromise. So I'd imagine that many people would want to avoid EQ-ing away their natural hearing.

...

I hope that was somewhat helpful.
Very insightful read, thanks. As for the 8db measurement, that's using E-MU 0404's equalization filters, if I were to use Electri-Q it's closer to 5 or so. They seem to have different ideas of what a dB is...
post #5 of 12
I think im going to move into this thread.. and just stay here for a while where the people are sane ... ;-)

ok, ok, im just glad to hear some people who really "get" the whole EQ thing..

no suprise leeperry showed up ;-) He has EQ radar...

by the way can we just lock this post now and leave it in its perfect harmonious and untainted state - its so beautiful..
post #6 of 12
There was a thread on science forum about Equalisation a little while back.

IMO nobody said anything on the thread to convince me that EQing is a bad idea. EQing is a neccessary thing in most real world situations as unfortunately we don't live in an ideal world, ideal speakers, ideal room accoustics, ideal recordings etc.

This is a harmonous thread. I am feeling good karma.
post #7 of 12
You might also find the following article interesting:

Reference earphones
post #8 of 12
I've heard a lot of weird stuff with EQ but never managed to get a "crunchy" sound.
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vkamicht View Post
We all have different ears, and it's a known fact that the ear/ear canal contains resonating frequencies which differ between people, due to the shape and workings of our inner ear. If you lined up 10 people and had them listen to a sine sweep through the exact same setup, they'd all probably report at least 2 spikes in volume at different places (yet within close proximity) of the other listeners.

At least, that's how I'm understanding it. Correct me if I'm wrong.
I'd put the differences of frequency processing in the auditory cortex. It's been shown that tonotopic mapping (physical area of brain devoted to processing) of frequencies in the cortex can increase or decrease depending on experience. A labmate of mine is working on research to show that reinforcing particular tones increases the area of auditory cortex that responds to those particular tones, but that isn't published yet.
post #10 of 12
eucariote, 50 years ago Alfred Tomatis invented a device called Electronic Ear to try to sensitize people to their missing frequencies by temporarily boosting those frequencies. Your friend might like to hear about him.
post #11 of 12
Thanks for the tip, it sounds like a good reference
However he's running the test with rats and the critical manipulation will be a depletion of projecting fibers from cholinergic neurons to see if they are necessary for learning/auditory map expansion. These are the neurons lost in Alzheimer's/Parkinson's with dementia so the therapeutic value will probably be to identify the sources of cognitive decline with disease.
post #12 of 12
sdfsdfsfsfsfsdfds
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