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Confessions of a failing audiophile - Page 4

post #46 of 168

Someone once told me the definition of an audiophile is someone that uses music to listen to his equipment. From experience, that's not altogether far from the truth.

If you really want to see how good your headphones (or whatever component) are, get a copy of Nilsson's Aerial Ballet (especially, the "Good Old Desk" track), Carly Simon's Boys in the Trees or Lady Gaga's (yes, Lady Gaga!) acoustic version of "Poker Face". All are lush, naturally ambient recordings of brilliant music.

But if you just want to smile, put your favourite LP/CD/mp3 into your player, seal your 'phones into a comfortable place and just listen.

post #47 of 168
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcasey25raptor View Post

you tell me.

 does this sound harsh to you (disregard youtube quality)?

 

the chorus sounds harsh to me while the rest of the song seems to flow better. so is it my gear or the song?


Awesome song, it's as smooth as silk on my gear, but it's probably the O2's doing all the magic, they're more forgiving than a catholic high school girl (if they're forgiving, I wouldn't know =P).

 

But then again, I have the critical listening abilities akin to a bucket of rocks, so obviously, my opinion doesn't hold a whole lot of weight ^^.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by homeros8000 View Post

I agree! But I believe that classical music (and Jazz) is more complex because of the instruments used. It's very hard to reproduce the timbre and vibrations of strings and piano accurately on audio equipment. I didn't mean that non classical music is not enjoyable on high end audio. But you can enjoy rock and metal on low end audio as well, but it's almost impossible to enjoy classical properly on low end equipment. May I'm wrong, but this is my very subjective experience.


Yeah that's cool, I don't listen to much classical and jazz, so I can't really relate to it that much =]. I was just trying to point out to any newbies out there that the benefit of higher end headphones doesn't exactly 'stop' if you don't have any well recorded material.

 

In my own personal experience, it takes a seriously good headphone to be able to make a poor recording enjoyable while still presenting all the details without shouting in your face or making your ears bleed.

 

I reckon it's easy for a headphone to make a good recording sound good, but it takes an absolute monster to make a bad recording sound good. And that's what high-end means to me, because there's no point in having somewhat racist audio equipment in which I am unable to enjoy ALL the music out there.

post #48 of 168

Take something like Metallica and the quality is awful, there is so much clipping and distortion but it still sounds OK when played through a cheap amplifier and low quality speakers.  But if you play Metallica through an expensive hifi it sounds so bad and distorted it makes it hard to listen to.

 

Now listen to the Foo Fighters. It's a similar sounding music style but the quality of the performers, mixing and recording is excellent. When the Foo Fighters are played through a cheap low quality setup is still sounds OK like Matallica does. But when you play the Foo Fighters through a good quality expensive hifi it sounds truly fantastic with lots of detail and clarity.

 

Most thrashy sounding metal music is bad quality but there's still some good quality stuff available too.


Edited by steve1979 - 6/12/11 at 10:38am
post #49 of 168
Quote:
Originally Posted by dynhm6 View Post

Someone once told me the definition of an audiophile is someone that uses music to listen to his equipment. From experience, that's not altogether far from the truth.

If you really want to see how good your headphones (or whatever component) are, get a copy of Nilsson's Aerial Ballet (especially, the "Good Old Desk" track), Carly Simon's Boys in the Trees or Lady Gaga's (yes, Lady Gaga!) acoustic version of "Poker Face". All are lush, naturally ambient recordings of brilliant music.

But if you just want to smile, put your favourite LP/CD/mp3 into your player, seal your 'phones into a comfortable place and just listen.


That's well said dynhm6.  I really like that saying......  :)  That's exactly the situation I was finding myself in, I was starting to listen to my equipment instead of the music.  I was never quite satisfied.  I love music, and I really love music that is well reproduced.  I've stopped using the audiophile barometers such as transient attack, PRAT, etc. and have begun using, what to me, are more musical barometers.  Does what I'm listening to make me want to dance, sing, get up and boogie, etc.  Am I touched or moved by the music I'm listening to.  In my experience by using those barometers I've really begun enjoying the listening experience again.

 

post #50 of 168

Sorry if this post is a bit off topic.

 

If anyone wants to use music listen and analyze their hifi equipment then get yourself a copy of 'The Turn of a Friendly Card' by 'The Alan Parsons Project'.  The sound quality and production value of this album is by far the best that I've ever heard.  Alan Parsons is one of the worlds top people when it comes to high quality music recording and he has made several educational videos on how to mix and record audiophile quality music.

 

Even if you don't like his style of music it's still worth listening to just to hear the quality of the sound.  In my opinion 'The Turn of a Friendly Card' is just as good if not better than most so called audiophile quality recordings of jazz or classical music.


Edited by steve1979 - 6/12/11 at 11:30am
post #51 of 168
I stopped at the UM3X's as I feel content with my setup right now. I also have a set of cheap AKG K81's that I love to death. Instead of buying more expensive gear, I am looking into buying introductory gear, like the Portapros, because they sound stunning for something that cheap.
post #52 of 168



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deadlylover View Post

 

I reckon it's easy for a headphone to make a good recording sound good, but it takes an absolute monster to make a bad recording sound good. And that's what high-end means to me, because there's no point in having somewhat racist audio equipment in which I am unable to enjoy ALL the music out there.



That's what I like about the Westone UM3x. They will immediately show up any imperfections in a song and make it very clear to hear but they're never too rude about it and let it spoil the music.

post #53 of 168
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsamp05 View Post

I've stopped using the audiophile barometers such as transient attack, PRAT, etc. and have begun using, what to me, are more musical barometers.  Does what I'm listening to make me want to dance, sing, get up and boogie, etc.  Am I touched or moved by the music I'm listening to.  In my experience by using those barometers I've really begun enjoying the listening experience again.

 

That's exactly right. Components may impress the logical side of your brain, but it's the emotional side that makes your toes tap.

post #54 of 168
Thread Starter 

Wow, this thread has really taken off.

 

Well, I have some good news.  I've recently discovered that my laptop's soundcard is quite bad.  I think this the main reason why I couldn't notice differences in high quality recordings.  I totally agree that it's most important to enjoy the music vs analyze it.  That's kinda what I've been doing in the last year or so.  Recently it had come to my attention that I wasn't noticing the differences in my high quality flac files, and I felt like I was missing something that could be had in the quality of my music.  I know the TF10s are good enough to resolve those differences, and I'd like to think my ears are too, so I'm hoping  an improved DAC will help.  I just don't want to spend too much money.  

 

I can definitely tell that my laptop puts out sound significantly worse than my iPod nano 3g (It also makes a sound remarkably similar to the fan running on my laptop, which would be nice to get rid of).  So here's hoping that my upgrade will make a difference.  I just don't want to get caught in a multi-hundred dollar amp/dac pursuit...

 

On a side note, I realize that the quality of recordings is also extremely important, and I can notice that among different songs in my library.  My question is, does alternative music tend to have decent quality recordings?  I mostly listen to artists such as Coldpaly, Killers, One Republic, Keane, Blue October, and such.  

post #55 of 168

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foie View Post

I totally agree that it's most important to enjoy the music vs analyze it. [....] Recently it had come to my attention that I wasn't noticing the differences in my high quality flac files, and I felt like I was missing something that could be had in the quality of my music.

 

On a side note, I realize that the quality of recordings is also extremely important, and I can notice that among different songs in my library.  My question is, does alternative music tend to have decent quality recordings?  I mostly listen to artists such as Coldpaly, Killers, One Republic, Keane, Blue October, and such.  


Re enjoy vs analyze: To be clear, I don't think there's a right or wrong to the enjoy vs analyze camps. I just think you need to be aware of the options, so you don't confuse one for the other.

Re identifying differences between low and high quality recordings: Back in the dawn of the mp3 era (mid-90s), I was a member of a long-ago defunct site that matched songwriters with up-and-coming singers/bands and we did some pretty extensive testing to see what, if any, (perceivable) differences in sound quality there were between mp3s (of the same songs) recorded at a constant bitrate of 128kHz (which, at that time, was considered (wrongly!) to provide CD-quality sound) vs variable and higher bitrates (up to 320kHz). Although the majority of members (mostly musicians) were quite happy with a constant 128kHz for most types of music, some (like me) could easily (and repeatedly) hear the negative effects of digitization on most types of music when converted to anything below 256kHz. Without going off on too-far a tangent, I'll just say that if you have a sound editor (Cool Edit, etc.), try converting 3-4 songs (some electronic and some acoustic) from LPs or CDs and, then, play them all back, one-at-a-time, through your standard rig. Even if you do this through your laptop, I'm pretty confident that you'll hear the difference between the low end and the high.

Re quality of recordings: Of the artists you cited, I'm only familiar with Coldplay and Keane, neither of which, unfortunately, appear to've put alot of effort into producing high quality recordings. It's probably not the artists' faults, because their record companies generally have the last word in how the final release sounds and the reality of the business today is that most 'companies have no choice but to put profit over quality. This is where it sometimes makes sense to let your logical brain lead when selecting music to use to judge audio components. That is, you might want to broaden your musical horizons to include artists or recordings that you wouldn't otherwise listen to because the quality of their recordings allows a component's flaws to be revealed more readily than your usual musical fare.

 

 

 


Edited by dynhm6 - 6/12/11 at 1:27pm
post #56 of 168
Quote:
Originally Posted by homeros8000 View Post

I agree! But I believe that classical music (and Jazz) is more complex because of the instruments used. It's very hard to reproduce the timbre and vibrations of strings and piano accurately on audio equipment. I didn't mean that non classical music is not enjoyable on high end audio. But you can enjoy rock and metal on low end audio as well, but it's almost impossible to enjoy classical properly on low end equipment. May I'm wrong, but this is my very subjective experience.


That's not true at all.  You're just better at spotting those differences because that's what you normally listen to.  If you listened extensively to another genre you'd be able to pick up on the other things that better transducers did better with that genre, loudness war and all.  I don't listen to classical a whole lot so I'm not good at picking out those differences but I don't say those differences don't exist just because I don't know what to look for.  OTOH my better headphones are quite capable of resolving more sonic information out of even poorly mastered and recorded metal tracks and making them more enjoyable.

 

If there's a lower limit to "recording" quality that can't benefit from better transducers, I haven't found it.  The synths on the NES sound better through better headphones than they do through cheap ones.  Even something as simple as that is apparently beyond the abilities of most 'phones to reproduce transparently.  What does that say about something slightly more complicated?

post #57 of 168

If you cant tell the difference between 128 and flac, there is a huge problem.

post #58 of 168

Eloquently put. When I harpooned myself into audiophilia, I was expecting sonic nirvana. When I received nothing but "better" sound, I was distraught and convinced myself that I was still too much of a greenhorn to discern the nuances in the music, thereby keeping me from the nirvana I so coveted.

After a few months, I came to my senses and stopped letting my hopes fly with wings of wax. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dynhm6 View Post

Someone once told me the definition of an audiophile is someone that uses music to listen to his equipment. 



 

post #59 of 168

Isn't the reason 128 was the standard is that theoretically most people can't hear better than that?

 

I stop hearing differences at 192kps even using my Clip + -> Westone 2.  From 192 up to WAV I hear no difference.  I feel kinda lucky, actually. 

post #60 of 168

I guess that would depend on the dynamic range of the actual track. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RecklessFable View Post

I stop hearing differences at 192kps even using my Clip + -> Westone 2.  From 192 up to WAV I hear no difference.  I feel kinda lucky, actually. 



 

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