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Confessions of a failing audiophile - Page 7

post #91 of 168

I am supposedly a failed audiophile as well in that I now have an objectivist view. I am not surprised when I hear people cannot hear differences on kit where measurements find there are no audible differences. Those who can hear differences with such kit have more explaining to do.

 

I also think that very little in the hifi chain makes a night and day difference and such descrptives are inaccurate due to their exaggeration. FM radio on a mobile phone with stock IEMs against lossless files to a decent DAC and amp to some lovely AKGs is night and day. Two decent DACs or amps with flat frequency responses are not night and day, they are subtle (if at all).

 

IME (one that is shared by many) price and performance are not as related as many would like it to be.

 

So I love my music as it is very well reproduced on a not very expensive set up where I have concentrated on what matters. So I am not really a failed audiophile at all and neither is the OP nor others who think they may be. We just have a more objectivist appraoch to hifi.

post #92 of 168

Head-fi is a place where people gather to share and obtain information. First I have to say that not all information here are bad, obviously. However there are a few fundamental flaws that contributes to the bad information flow model. Many are already mentioned.

-Inexperience-

This forum here is a bit different form other audio forums out there. A lot of the people here are (mostly young) people who just got a DAP and want to upgrade their earbuds. The recent smartphone trend also adds to this. Thus the demographic is very different from other speaker oriented hi-fi sites, where they most likely own a property (well, you need a place to house them don't you?), which translates to (in general) an older bunch of people and thus more experienced in audio demographic. We have experienced audiophiles here who have been in the hobby for decades, but they appear to be the minority here.

And being inexperienced in the hobby leads to two things. As they have not heard the really good stuffs, they tend to exaggerate the difference between the low end and the not so high end stuffs. On one end there are people upgrading they equipment to something-better-but-not-that-good kind of equipment (budget DAC to replace decent sound card, one consumer DAP to replace another). On the other end we have people pursuing audio nirvana by going for uber expensive portable setup. Sure they sounded good and different, but in the grand scheme of things they are not that good and different, and no matter how good they get they are still IEMs. There are just more efficient use of money for audio quality. I think this is a significant source of disappointment.

Thus I have come to learn to put more weight seasoned hobbyist who have been around for decades than someone who strap the latest portable amp for latest gazillion drivers custom because they just got an iPhone.

-Emotion-

A good amount of people post are people that are having gear fever. Gear fever is self sustaining. People buy something and get crazy about it and start posting stuffs here. The more they hang out here the more stuffs they buy and the cycle repeats. Gear fever prevents one from objective judgement. This kind of fever is also often contagious. On the other hand people who are genuinely happy and had looked past the equipment tend to disappear from the forum. This leads to the skewing general "consensus".

-Source recording-

I admit that for most of my music, my equipment just sounds ok, even those purported to be "audiophile recording". Only once in a while, I get the "this is it" tracks. Simply put most mainstream music does not benefit beyond mid end equipments. If you have trouble differentiating 128kbps from higher bit rate this is probably why. Back then I could even hear difference between 128, 192, 256 and 320kbps MP3s out of some Creative Soundblaster (the one before Audigy, can't remember the name) with a mere Sony MDR-EX70.

-Lingo-

Because of a combination of inexperience and bad source recording that they are accustomed to, some purport to hear something sounds "natural" or "balanced" when they don't really know how they sounded like. Or when they describe something sounding "real" when they actually meant it sounded exactly like they are in a real rock concert where heavy compression is employed. This is where I put weight into the music genre that they listen to, or the instruments they play.

Personally I am fortunate to have local stores that stock a plethora of headphones and earphones. I have auditioned most of the top of the line IEM and portable amps. Thus I am able to verify all the hypes that are being perpetuated, I believe most people here buying blind will have to rely on return (also much harder to compare side by side). I am also made aware of the inherent limitation of a portable setup and the point of diminishing return sets in pretty early, not to mention the environment that they are used in. In fact I thought all of the multi drivers IEM are objectively inferior to ER-4P (instead of just being different). They all cost much more but the transparency is just not as good (the limitation in miniature crossover?). Although I can see how they can be more fun if one is limited by source material.

post #93 of 168
Quote:
Originally Posted by swbf2cheater View Post

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


See what I mean! I would be far more convinced by the following 'if you can't enjoy your music because you are worried about the apparent difference between 128kbps and lossless, which is only a small part of what makes music sound good, then there is a huge problem'.

 

post #94 of 168
What a thread! Subscribed hehe. First of all, i think everyone here has lied or pretended at least once. Not saying it's a bad thing, but we just can't help it. I have to admit i didnt care before about flac and 320 mp3. Now with more "expensive" equipment, i realized that it makes a difference, but it really isn't that significant. If i didnt read the file information, i might not even know if it's flac or mp3. The only reason why i listen to flac is because i "know" that its flac and that makes me listen very carefully in order to find the sonic differences between flac and mp3

A while back i was obsessed about top tier equipment, now all i care about is my equipment being "good enough". I love my portable setup and i wouldnt change a thing. As long as my music makes me smile i dont care about the best amp or the best IEM. i think ive become less of an audiophile since last year
post #95 of 168

Something I cannot get mu head round is that at times I have heard a difference and at others not. For example in the past I have easily passed a bit rate ABX test, but the most recent one I took I failed miserably. In the past I swore the Goldring NS1000s needed amping out of an ipod as otherwise they sounded tinny. But the last time I demonstrated that to someone both of us could hardly hear a difference.

 

Does that mean instead of being a failed audiophile I am really a part time one? tongue_smile.gif

post #96 of 168
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man View Post




See what I mean! I would be far more convinced by the following 'if you can't enjoy your music because you are worried about the apparent difference between 128kbps and lossless, which is only a small part of what makes music sound good, then there is a huge problem'.

 

That's what I meant.  I have over $5k invested in my home stereo, and I feel I can hear the difference between ALAC and 320kbps mp3's.  But with my portable system, which is only an iPod and my MDT IEM's, I have a feeling when I'm listening to mp3s, that I'm not getting the full benefit or sound.  Listening to ALAC files makes me feel better.  I think that's where the solution is for me.  Just be happy with one, and stick with it.  For me, storage of the larger files is relatively cheap, so I'm not worried, and I'm happier knowing I have the full file. 
 

 

post #97 of 168
Quote:
Originally Posted by Navyblue View Post

 

-Source recording-

I admit that for most of my music, my equipment just sounds ok, even those purported to be "audiophile recording". Only once in a while, I get the "this is it" tracks. Simply put most mainstream music does not benefit beyond mid end equipments. If you have trouble differentiating 128kbps from higher bit rate this is probably why. Back then I could even hear difference between 128, 192, 256 and 320kbps MP3s out of some Creative Soundblaster (the one before Audigy, can't remember the name) with a mere Sony MDR-EX70.


Agreed with everything you say, except this part.  I am finding that with proper tuning to fit each type of music my system can be made to sound good with all kinds of music, hi or lo-fi.  As for differentiating mp3s, well, a pair of phones that can only reproduce sounds above 10kHz would probably allow anyone to tell any mp3 encoded at any bitrate from the source wave while they proceed to rape their ears.  On the other hand, not being able to tell low bitrate mp3s from wavs in normal listening situations does not prevent me from improving the system to sound better with source files of all bitrates.

 


Edited by Joe Bloggs - 7/12/11 at 11:45am
post #98 of 168


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZMan2k2 View Post



That's what I meant.  I have over $5k invested in my home stereo, and I feel I can hear the difference between ALAC and 320kbps mp3's.  But with my portable system, which is only an iPod and my MDT IEM's, I have a feeling when I'm listening to mp3s, that I'm not getting the full benefit or sound.  Listening to ALAC files makes me feel better.  I think that's where the solution is for me.  Just be happy with one, and stick with it.  For me, storage of the larger files is relatively cheap, so I'm not worried, and I'm happier knowing I have the full file. 
 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man View Post




See what I mean! I would be far more convinced by the following 'if you can't enjoy your music because you are worried about the apparent difference between 128kbps and lossless, which is only a small part of what makes music sound good, then there is a huge problem'.

 



I disagree completely. When people say stuff like this, it tends to be indicative of their own deficits in music appreciation. I think there's a certain mainstream perception that if you can hear a song's vocals and the most obvious musical elements, then you've absorbed most of the info contained in the song. But there are genres that cater specifically to people who nerd out over guitar tones and textures.There are a lot of bands that I like mainly for the cool sounds they get from their guitars. If I go from good VBR to 128, all the tones and textures in the recordings sound noticeably less detailed. If I'm listening to my favorite electronic music, shoegaze/space rock. hip-hop etc , a big part of my enjoyment of the music is how awesome the various textures sound when they hit my ears. Take that away and you take away a large part of my appreciation for the music.


Edited by moleface - 7/12/11 at 5:49pm
post #99 of 168

Good stuff in your post.  I guess you could count me as one of these newbs with that kind of set up. (iphone w EQu>LOD >Fiio E11>JH16 when they get here.) Right now I'm using SE530 and it sounds pretty d@mn good IMO, for what that's worth (see my sig). 

 

I think it's important for people like me not to gush about new equipment just because they are excited about it, or think it's the end all be all.  I don't expect audio nirvana, but about as close as I can get in a truly portable setup that can make my work grind as pleasant as possible for 40hrs a week without my coworkers asking too many questions about my weird expensive equipment. Also I can go walking without lugging along a separate DAC and Amp strapped to my iphone, and take calls without trying to work around giant rubber bands holding everything together. 

 

One small amp sitting on the desk to clean up and improve the sound a bit while I am sitting at the computer isn't going to stick out too much.   However a giant stack of gear held together with rubber bands and weird fancy cables, and a big set of cans is going to attract alot more attention than I want.  And probably I will need some big expensive open back cans to match what the JH16 or even SE530 can give me in terms of separation, detail, and over all SQ.   (And I don't want my coworkers knowing I listen to Enya or Mr. Mister sometimes, so open back cans are a no-go biggrin.gif)  So the IEM customs route was the way to go for me. Also I like to listen while I am going to sleep.   So it's not like everyone that has an iphone/IEM setup is doing it without some reasoning behind it.  I would not compare it to a desk top set up with a top notch set of cans.  I have not experienced that yet, I'm sure it is great,  for me it's just not the most effective use of audio money to suit my lifestyle, though I am sure it may be superior in some ways.  I just wouldn't be able to get as much use out of it.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Navyblue View Post


Thus I have come to learn to put more weight seasoned hobbyist who have been around for decades than someone who strap the latest portable amp for latest gazillion drivers custom because they just got an iPhone.

 



 


Edited by macshooter - 7/12/11 at 7:54pm
post #100 of 168
I'm beginning to think I'm not so good at this. I listened to how impressive and yet bad an iPad speaker sounded and made fun of it. Then I heard HP's TouchPad's speakers and thought they were remarkable for their size and assumed limitations. Then I heard both side by side and realized that the iPad's speaker sounded better in most ways. Only in stereo and lower frequencies was the TouchPad's speaker not hollow sounding.

So I concluded that I might be at the point where I just don't want to know what I'm missing and should quit comparing things. If I like it, I'll stick with it unless I make no emotional connection to what I'm hearing.

Where this falls apart though is when I suddenly hear and obvious flaw such as an encoding artifact and then I'm ruined if I don't re-encode everything because I'll not be enjoying my music anymore. Instead, I'll spend the next week just trying to find flaws in everything. What a miserable life I've consigned myself to when a little thing threatens my emotional connection to my music. Sometimes I wonder if I ought to just go back to the crappy piece of crap iPod earbuds and deal with it. I liked what I heard and bad encoding didn't sound so bad. But alas, I will forever know there is something better to hear.
post #101 of 168

Even with m-Stage, Yulong D100 and ath W5000, I have to spend all my concentration and half an hour to tell the difference between 320 and flac...Especially when most of them time when I'm listening to music, I'm doing something else, or I'm on the streets listening to my Customs. I don't think it really matters for me to have it in flac or mp3...but of course, I get all my songs in flac since its more comforting for me to know that I have better music files...

post #102 of 168
Why is everyone stuck on bit rates? didnt the op mention more than just that? what about other qualities like accurate timbre, speed, analytical vs nonanalytical, instrument separation, clarity, etc etc.

dont you "failing audiophiles" care about any of that? its sad that everyone thinks audiophilia = "i can hear the difference between 320 and flac." i got into it because i wanted the most lifelike sound when i listen to my cd collection, not to sit around a/bing bit rates..
post #103 of 168

All I care about is does it sound good to me? I do not bother reading subjective reviews of sound quality anymore as they mean nothing to me. I do read about specifications, comments about build quality and to a limited extent measurements (primarily will those headphones play straight out of my ipod or do they need amped?)

post #104 of 168
I realized far to late that being a head-fier is very costly! Head-fi is one expensive hobby -_-
post #105 of 168

David58117- I agree. I just got an ipod classic and am converting the ~200 CDs I have to Apple lossless. Okay, my daughter is doing the actual work. :) I've got the storage and if/ I ever want to convert to a lower bit rate, there it is. I probably won't get rid of the CDs however (just in case).

 

It's about the music.

 

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