Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Confessions of a failing audiophile
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Confessions of a failing audiophile - Page 6

post #76 of 168


Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

So, I take it 201kbps is OK, while 196kbps is "unlistenable, like listening to an old static radio". I guess a difference of 5kbps makes all the difference in the world.



post #77 of 168



Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

So, I take it 201kbps is OK, while 196kbps is "unlistenable, like listening to an old static radio". I guess a difference of 5kbps makes all the difference in the world.


haha i got confused.  I didn't mean 196, i meant 128.


so to recap


128 unlistenable 

196  ehhh

250  first place i hear/see changes

320  good/act like i can hear difference between wav

post #78 of 168

I'd say that a well made recording with 192 kbps usually sounds awesome if you are a music lover and a not a grear-lover primary. But ofcourse I have 90 % flac and 320 kbps :)

post #79 of 168
Originally Posted by cyberspyder View Post

What is audible vs visible on a oscilloscope  screen are two different things. Just because it shows up as a spike does not necessarily mean it's audible.

I just explained that what I'm talking about are scientifically proven and acknowledged by the clinical researchers and doctors etc. this is not something you can say "I can't hear that" - this is clean accepted science. These big differences its like test tone stuff - If you can't you have a strong hearing disability. In a proper test scenario unless you are extremely disabled in your hearing everyone will hear these things. By proper test I mean scientifically with many repeatings in a room with no distractions etc. like no background noise or even the artifacts filtered from the main content so smaller disabilities in terms of excessive forward and backward masking is diminished. Now this has to be done right of-course as forward and backward masking is some of the main tools used to hide errors in lossy codecs. That would be people who mix the sound up a little when there is too many details kinda like dyslexia for sound just weak and somewhat common in normal functioning adults. Just as with poor directional filtering - i.e. when only few people talking leading to mess you can't get understand. This is way more common than you would think. Just notice the silent types at a parties and ask - not just your grandma' wink.gif My better half has some level of poor directional filtering for an example - also she is snow-blind; in a snowy party with more than like 5 people talking and shes totally fucked biggrin.gif
post #80 of 168

Trying to keep a dying thread alive. Here's my epic tale.

  • I spent $25 on some huge Sony over-ear phones when I was 16. I thought I was "there" with these.
  • At 17, I got a new Sony portable CD player with optical out and paired it to my portable Mini-Disc recorder/player. It was cool to have clean recordings, but I quickly realized that the cheap-o headphones that came with the CD player sounded better than my over-ear beasts. WT_heck?
  • When I got married in 2002, my wife had Boston Acoustics computer speakers that she never thought anything of... until we hooked my Mini-Disc player to it. At this point, I could finally hear that the MP3's encoded at 128kbps had so many artifacts and sounded narrow compared to the Mini-Disc. Oh well, too poor to do anything about it but re-encode with MP3pro in MusicMatch. The speakers are no longer with us. We have some cruddy in-monitor speakers for the desktop computer.
  • In 2007 or 2008, I got some Shure E2c IEMs and I could hear the background noise hiss on my iPod Mini for the first time and I could tell it was always clipping when any EQ was turned on in the iPod. So I had to dial everything back to neutral and I could tell which files needed to be encoded better. At this point, I spent a while with it until I couldn't hear a difference between straight from the CD and 256kbps, so I re-encoded everything in my library that I had on CD (what I hadn't e-purchased) to 256kbps. I also did it in Windows Media Player in MP3 format because that sounded best to me of the three programs I was bouncing between.
  • Late 2008, I got to a Cambridge Soundworks radio and things sounded really good to me once I got the bass turn down a tick. My wife liked the high quality sound, which she never experienced from a CD player or radio, and said she always wanted to have quality sound from here on out. We were satisfied. We had the CSW radio. I had my Shure IEMs. She had my iPod ear buds.
  • Early 2011 rolls around and I get to use some AKG K171 mk II phones for recording a training at work. They sounded like they had emotion to them. That was new and strange to me. I borrowed them for casual listening and found that while the bass was lacking, the overall sound was a very noticable improvement over my Shures. Classical music sounded really good. So now I have these same AKGs and my 4 year old son loves to listen to the classical radio station with these on, and I like them for pretty much everything.
  • Three weeks ago, I get to plug my AKGs into a NuForce uDac2-HP and it sounds a little cleaner than my laptop port. Nothing great, but cleaner was interesting. There also seemed to be a touch of some added dynamic thast I couldn't quite place. Maybe it was something good in the circuit, or maybe it was one of the well-known flaws with that device. So I looked into it and found out about Head-Fi.org. This place is a real mixed blessing!
  • Two weeks ago, I start using SRS HD Audio Lab. It sounds great to me and brings out the bass capabilities of the AKGs. I'm satisfied with even better sound.
  • Three days later, I get to plug my AKG's into a NuForce Icon HD. It sounded good and thick. 5 minutes into it, everything was different. It sounded awesome! The bass was excellent (no SRS HDAL in the way here), the sound was spacious. The details that I thought I could hear in my usual round of tracks are easily discerned. There's stuff in the music all over the place that I didn't know was there. I'm in the middle of a studio recording for the first time in my life. I liked it way too much. It was like seeing color TV after being used to B&W. Too bad I don't own that thing.
  • A week ago. I get to try Beats Audio. It's pretty good. Discernably cleaner sounding on the analog pathway and I know for a fact that it uses SRS technology when you turn the enhancements on (I'm kind of a hacker and I got deep into some of the driver files). I go back to my regular laptop and suddenly realize, even without Beats Audio, that I actually can tell the difference between 256kbps and lossless. I'm now mostly done re-encoding my library to lossless with error correction on. I don't want to re-encode my library for a LONG time, so I'm doing it right this time.


I thought people were full of it when they would talk about huge differences. I've heard more than what I've listed here and I was unimpressed with all the stuff I omitted. I absolutely know that 1) we adapt a large degree to what we're listening to, and 2) a lot of expensive stuff doesn't sound as good as the AKG's to me. Even though they really sound better with a good amp... since I don't have a good DAC or Amp that's actually mine, I just take stock in the fact that I know they're better than what I started with and I just enjoy the sound in my Shure's (at work) or AKG's (at home).


I'm absolutely certain that A/B testing isn't as effective for me as long term familiarization. How can it be if I didn't recognize the 256kbps artifacts and lack of depth issue until after more than two years of listening? I ABx'd that to death when I chose 256kbps but after listening to better for a while, I suddenly saw what was up.

post #81 of 168
I read all contributions with great interest as they mirror some recent experience I had. for long I have been content with iPod outputs, albeit soon ditched the stock phones to be replaced with Sony MDR-EX81LP type phones. bose triports joined the fold and quiet comfort 3. Music whenever and wherever in crisp digital quility (of some sort). Quite a departure from Sony DD Quarz and some questionable mini earbuds, that was the lay of the land in the 80s, then MiniDisc in the 90s, now ipod/pad/phone it is.
Content up until about a week ago, where I wanted to finally upgrade to the greatness professed to in an earlier article (years ago) about Shure noise isolating headphones. the idea: get something good and the ipod ought to sound better. SE535s arrived and plugged in. i started using them with EQu on the iphone to tune the output to my liking (boost +6 dB at 20 and 20 k Hz, small Q).
I didnt know what to expect, just something better. I wasn't blown away, just taken on journey as I started to like the immersion, more dimensionality, where specific frequencies stand out and a sort of surgical precision I could more readily indulge in. straight from the iphone4 with EQu this was a winner. i then couldnt go back to junk for my workouts and got some UE triple.fi 10 for the gym. as they came in I did test this setup. i listen much to minimal techno and electronica. i had one track at 128 kb encoded (Phantom heart brother 2 - The Dark Side of the Moog 3) and took the CD, ripped it in Apple Lossless. listened to it on both IEMs: no difference. not between each IEMs nor the different codec based tracks. Then I used a dj tool (djay) syncing 128 kb and lossless version. with a crossfader going back and forth there was no discernible difference using either IEM: no nuance, sound or clarity missing or unresolved. No difference at all.
Still I started to hear a lot of new details in the music overall, more pronounced contrasts that really reconnected me to my collection. just no difference between bitrates and IEMs at all. I am waiting for a headroom total bithead DAC/amp to see if the good can get better (maybe a NuForce Icon, Ray Samuels Predator or Peachtree Nova if it does?). good that 128 kb will still do for me (for now?), but some dance tunes are rather flat due to production efforts being lo tech, I guess.

anyone have similar experiences?

is a headphone amp going to work, especially the higher end DAC in the Nova, in improving the quality of at least the higher quality 192&up VBR? Which amp would that be?

For now its just for mobile and office use and I like the sound already...
post #82 of 168

@OP  I applaud your honesty.  I waded into this hobby skeptically trying not to spend to much money unless I was sure that I was noticing real improvements.  My first were Senn PX100, and I was very impressed over the crap I had been listening to before.  My next major upgrade was the SE530.  When I first got them, I didn't like the sound at all, and they seemed to lack bass completely.  I felt like a sucker, and had a sick feeling in my stomach.   But then with a little adjustment and the right tips I found a good seal and things improved dramatically.  Still I didn't feel like they were worth the money, until I had listened to a lot of my music, and discovered so many things I had never heard before.  Then I listened to Kid A, and it absolutely blew my mind.   So I guess I started with the assumption that this was a bunch of people faking it to be a part of a club, and didn't expect much, but I was proven wrong by my own experience.  I can definitely hear the difference between 192 and 320.  Not so much (at all really) between 320 and lossless.  128 is crap.  That said, I can really only hear the difference well with the SE530, and not so much with phones.  Forget about subtle differences like 192 vs 320 with the phones I have.  The SE530 will bring it out though.   Anyway, like I said I applaud your honesty!   I love it when people don't give in to peer pressure, or say and do things they don't mean or feel just to be a part of a club.  Maybe this just isn't for you.  There's nothing wrong with that.   At least you are REAL, and are not a poser.   Shame on anyone who would dog you for that.  I have more respect for someone like you than for some audio snob with like 20K posts that likes to look down his nose and be rude to people who haven't spent tens of thousands of dollars on multiple uber rigs.  

post #83 of 168

You guys don't hear a difference in more accurate timbre, clarity, speed, instrument separation, warmth/cold, etc? 


I have the K701s, ER4S, Monster Miles Davis Tribute, Bose IE2, Portapros and have tried out numerous others - and I hear a difference between all of them!  


However, I listen mainly to genres with organic instruments (Classical, Jazz, etc), and I'm also a musician (piano/guitar/drums).  What gets me excited is hearing instruments on recordings sound exactly as I know them to.  I absolutely lloovvee accurate timbre, and dynamics - I want to hear the bow tear into the strings during Shostys SQ's, or that ride cymbal to sound full and like it's in the room. 


If I listened primarily to more digitally produced music or styles filled with effects and distortion, I probably would have went with other equipment.  I love Apoptygma Berzerk and Black Eyed Peas etc, but being honest...it's the other non-electronic genres where I think my headphones/iems shine, and that's usually what I put on to show them off. 

post #84 of 168
Originally Posted by bcasey25raptor View Post

ya i love the song but i can't listen to it because the harshness drives me nuts. it just plain hurts.


You're listening on the computer right?  Dial in some EQ already.  A parametric EQ really helps you find out the problem frequencies of your music and tune them out accordingly, like this:


At first I was bewildered by the limitless choices available, but then I found a really useful tool--right click on a control point and in the context menu that appears, there is a "bandpass" item at the bottom.  Click that, and the control point you've selected temporarily turns into a bandpass filter--filtering out all frequencies except the ones you're affecting with this control point.

If you move this control point around you can now hear different frequencies in isolation in real time--so say you hear a boominess in the bass that is colouring vocals, you can move the point around until you find exactly the frequency around where you hear nothing but "boom boom boom boom".  Now uncheck the "bandpass" item to turn your control point back to normal and you can remove just this boominess by lowering the gain at this point.



edit: even toying with whatever graphic equalizer comes with your player would be a good start

Edited by Joe Bloggs - 7/12/11 at 12:21am
post #85 of 168



I can rarely hear any difference between 320kbps and lossless, and to hear the difference I need a dac, an amp and good headphones.

difference between 250kbps and 320kbps is also impossible to hear with some tracks.



I had a track once that was 128kbps, but I like the song so i wanted to get a better version. 

After getting the song in 320kbps, I A/B'ed them and strangely enough I prefered the 128kbps.

So i deleted the 320kbps version and kept the other one.


The thing is music is very emotional to me and i don't care what's better or worse technical speaking. I just take whatever i think sounds the best.



post #86 of 168

128kb/s -> 320kb/s = Big difference for me.  More can be heard, and it's a lot more lively.

192kb/s -> 320kb/s = Differences are audible, I can pick out one or two things different with the recording.

256kb/s -> 320kb/s = There's a difference, I can hear something different, but they are extremely small and subtle, you have to try to listen for it...  Which kills the song since you're all focused on listening for the differences in sound rather than enjoying the music.


This is comparing MP3 @ certain bit-rates.  Not a conversion from lower to higher (arrows might be a little misleading).


A lot of my songs are also 256AAC (not included in comparisons) due to iTunes' store purchases.  I have trouble telling those apart from 320kb/s MP3 as well.  It could also be how iTunes/iPods play them as well.

post #87 of 168

The difference between some bitrates can be hard to pick up on if you compare MP3s side by side, but I think our brain and ears can tell the difference even if we can't immediately discern between them.


Any higher fidelity stuff with rich production values always sounds to me like there's a noticeable extra layer of polish when I listen to FLAC, 320, and good VBR vs 128. I can tell the difference between 128 and higher bitrates almost without fail - 128 kbps imparts a clunky unsatisfying sort of feel to drums, and overall the texture of the music comes through as less finely detailed. The difference between a good ~256kbps VBR MP3 or 320 or FLAC is a lot more subtle, and I think is perceived more on an unconscious level. Higher bitrate music feels like it has a "presence" that isn't felt from the lower bitrates, even though it's difficult to put your finger on what exactly sounds different. I think that's the cumulative effect from all the extra subtle layers our brains perceive, even if we can't consciously tell what's different. I've always thought that was the big factor at play in the analog vs digital debate. Even if you can't consciously tell the difference in blind listening tests, there's something subtly better about the sound of vinyl that's hard to write off.

Edited by moleface - 7/12/11 at 9:12am
post #88 of 168
Originally Posted by moleface View Post

The difference between some bitrates can be hard to pick up on if you compare MP3s side by side, but I think our brain and ears can tell the difference even if we can't immediately discern between them.

Our ears and brains know there is a difference, when there is something missing in the sound our ears hear, the brain tries to automatically fill it in so it sounds correct.  As bitrates increase, it's easier for the brain to do this (less gaps).  At lower bitrates, the brain may fill in some things incorrectly (loss of timbre).  As you add more and more detail in, the changes get subtle because the brain was already adding the differences in itself. 

post #89 of 168

good read

post #90 of 168

I've been pulled into the world of "audiophile" listening recently too.  I have a pair of Beats by Dre Tours IEM's that I thought sounded great.  I initially came here reading about Comply foam tips, as they are somewhat hard to come by in Canada.  Then I read all the hate for Beats products, and decided to give another headphone a try.  After reading, conferring with members and many days of debating with myself, I picked up some Miles Davis Tributes.  Do they sound better than the Dre's?  A little.  Am I happy with the purchase?  Absolutely.  Will I get rid of the beats?  No, they are good for some types of music over others.


My other debate has been with whether I should keep my music in ALAC lossless, or convert to 320kbps MP3.  I can't hear much of a difference, if any, and the space savings would be great.  But in the end, I decided to keep the ALAC files.  Storage is cheap, I do stream music to my stereo, where I can hear a difference between the two, and I'm futureproofing my music investment.  Can't go wrong with lossless, if just for the knowledge that you have the best you can get in portability.  I think that's the major factor.  Knowing that I have the best quality I can get makes me happier than saving space.


In the end, I'm still trying to just enjoy the music, instead of trying to hear the "attack, blackness of the sound, or the space between notes".  If you can enjoy what you hear, then you're still doing something right.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Confessions of a failing audiophile