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Misconception of "neutral / accurate" - Page 3  

post #31 of 292

I thought music was about the emotion through the recording.

 

That written not all recordings are that well recorded. If you want the first-row-experience life performances are more worth checking out...

post #32 of 292

@deepfunk

 

It's true most recordings are lackluster in some way, but I believe applying a one size fits all fix is worse than leaving it alone.

 

 

 

Warning: a long winded and potentially disagreeable rant is below this line.

___________________________________________________________

 

@deadlylover

 

"Would the artist tell you to go to hell just because you are listening to his/her works with gear that isn't neutral? Never. All they want is for you to enjoy their works, I really don't think they truly care how you are hearing it, that's the recording engineers job =P."

 

If you were at a concert would they "fix" it for you?  If they tell the engineer what to do or how it should sound then they're doing their best to give you what is needed to enjoy their music, undermining it because another artist doesn't sounds like a sacrifice that doesn't need to be made.

 

Let's not forget those that have tons of headphones based on "taste", and EQ allows one to change an accurate pair of headphones to flavor however they want by dialing it in.  With erratic headphones it becomes very hard for accurate equalizing.

 

Now, if all you're listening to is streamed stuff with no engineer then adding an EQ to fix basic problems the engineer would have taken care of is probably a good thing.  You're probably getting other noise in the music that obviously doesn't belong -- the main point of contention here is stuff that IS mastered properly.

 

Once again though, that's something for the EQ to handle IMO.

 

 

"Hmm I was a little unclear with that statement. I kind of meant that them recording engineers were using flat measuring speakers, so if you also use flat measuring speakers, then things start to make sense."

 

No, no it doesn't.  You were talking about soundstage - speakers create their own soundstage that the recording by nature doesn't have.

 

"So if you do pop on some headphones, it can't really be accurate can it?"

 

In relation to what?  You're changing your point . . .

 

"Not unless you use the exact same headphone rig as the recording engineer, to hear whatever he intended."

 

You're arguing that because it won't be the exact same, it nullifies the ability to get as close to intended as possible.  Doing this is throwing out the baby with the bathwater though.  See next section.

 

"Then also comes the problem of individual differences in hearing/shapes of the ear and whatnot. You could argue that speakers also have some of the same variations with HRTF, but one can be certain that at least the equipment measures the same if you both have ruler flat speakers.

 

For headphones however, there is no same reference point as there is with speakers, nobody knows what a neutral headphone should measure like, as they have to result in frequency response trickery to sound natural. So it's fair to say that our actual ears kinda become the room's acoustics for a headphone, so we can't actually claim that we are exposed to the same sounds before our individual variations, since it's bloody difficult to shove a microphone up your trumpet. And while I have no proof, I think we can agree that individual variations in what we actually hear with headphones might be more dramatic than with speakers, you know, since people always make a kick in the fuss on how important a room's acoustics is. "

 

A lot of assumptions here.  First, with the right technology we can actually equalize for HRTF (Smyth Realiser).  Once again though, we're getting further from the point.  There is research that at least shows trends towards certain HRTF characteristics, by simply saying it isn't perfect and is therefore hogwash is self-defeating.  Dolby uses DF equalizing in their technologies with very good results for the majority of people, and many companies have followed suit.  Considering this it's highly probable that the majority of people will lean towards flat DF equalization as sounding close to accurate/neutral in the proper sense.  As such, a highly inaccurate DF equalized headphone will most likely sound inaccurate regardless.  If it meets neither DF or FF equalization as flat the odds that it will fit anybody's HRTF is extremely unlikely.

 

"Look at the history of transducers, there are agreed upon 'standards' for speakers, you can certainly see a trend in speakers manufacturers aiming to be ruler flat for their pro/monitoring gear. But what about headphones? All over the bloody place. So is it because they don't know what neutral should sound like? Or do they think that they've nailed what neutral should sound like, and everything else is wrong/different."

 

Yes, there are "standards" - but it's not a single one and finalized.  Odds are your ears falls into DF with a lesser chance of FF, but with minor variances from other people.

 

"Two ruler flat measuring speakers from different makers should sound more or less exactly the same, but isn't it funny how there are no two same sounding headphones from different makers?"

 

I've heard headphones that sound very similar before - my AKG K601 and Stax SR-202 being an example.  Actually, the SR-202 sounded like a K601 with stripped bass output.  I found it disappointing and sold it, but that's another story.

 

This has brought us full circle though.  By definition headphones are a compromise, but not all compromises are equal -- to claim otherwise is like saying ibuds are as valid for accurate reproduction at DT48/K601/HD800 because one enjoys them.  Ultimately, this is a write-up that's trying to show that purposefully coloring your gear with no way to undo it can backfire (see intentionally colored album being played on colored gear).  What some perceive as accurate and what really is accurate can be two very different things.

 

"If one can EQ up something neutral to become coloured when needed, can't I just EQ something coloured to become neutral when I need it? You do it all the time, don't you? (well to be fair, in your case, it's tweaking ^^)"

 

Doesn't work that way.  Take some really inaccurate headphones (I'm looking at say the Ultrasone ED. 8's).  Lots of dips and peaks.  First, even with a perfect EQ you've ruined the sensitivity of the headphone -- adding gain to the lower peaks can cause unintended distortion . . . EQ is mostly made to reduce troublesome frequencies.  Once again though, this was assuming being able to EQ perfectly, if the headphone acts erratically all over the audio band then it's not going to work.  A few small dips and peaks are easily handled, certain headphones just can't be fixed by traditional means.

 

"Am I seriously unable to enjoy a track the same amount as somebody else with wicked accurate gear? Sounds a little like audiophile snobbery to me, but if that's how it is, then that's how it is."

 

If it was properly engineered with input by the artist I think it should be touched as little as possible from a personal standpoint.  Even if you want to touch it there's better ways to do it rather than getting colored headphones.  You also attack accurate headphones because they may not be perfectly accurate, but ignore that there's degrees of accuracy to signal regardless.

 

You're free to enjoy colored gear if you really want, no one's going to say you can't enjoy it.  However, when it gets labeled as high-end and neutral it starts to bug some of us that really look for empirical accuracy.

 

An artist(painter) doesn't give a flying fudge how you interpret his/her works of art, so long as you enjoyed it for what it is.

 

Having talked to various "artists", I've been told enough times that I just "don't get it".  So yes, some artists do tend to take a holier than though approach.  Of course, even ones that aren't might get a bit peeved if you take yellow tinted lenses to look through when you're in their gallery . . .

 

I must have a ton of catching up to do, because here I am, thinking that music was all about the emotion, rather than the recording.

 

No one is saying it isn't about emotion, but certain recording techniques can deliver emotion in ways you wouldn't expect.  Covering those up can defeat the purpose . . . it sounds stupid, but movies when done right depend heavily on adding certain things to sound that if botched make a scene less scary/exciting/dramatic.  The idea of an accurate headphone is getting everything intended at the amplitude intended.  Some noises that would be fine on accurate headphones may be awful on something else entirely.

 

 

For you, if your majority of listening truly are the streams you claim, then modifying it in some way may indeed be beneficial as there's problems an engineer would have taken care of.  However, if you listen to music that has had the problems fixed with the "fixes" you were using on the stuff beforehand then you may have created substantial deviations from what was intended (see doubling the coloration).

post #33 of 292

I'm not going to reply to everything specifically because I'd balls it up and it'd look like a dog's leg, but let me just say that I truly appreciate you trying to enlighten me/set me straight.

 

First, we need to establish what is accurate and what is coloured. If something is not accurate, then it must be coloured, otherwise, we'd say different things are 'less accurate' rather than 'coloured'. Lunatique himself had to resort to some fancy pants EQ to get his speakers to sound accurate due to things like room acoustics. Since it wasn't accurate in the first place, it must have been coloured, and obviously, EQ was applied to finally make things accurate. This explains my previous statement of being able to fix coloured things up. And yeah, I suppose there are some train wrecks in which you cannot fix, I'm not disputing that.

 

If something CAN be less accurate but not coloured, what exactly is the line that distinguishes between the two? I don't think there is one, it's either accurate, or not.

 

And about the double colouration all the way, lets say this particular track has a warmness of 2. If my gear is coloured and adds a warmness of +2 to everything, I would be left with a warmness of 4. But what if I had accurate gear and the track instead had a warmness of 4? Everything is fine and dandy now since I have accurate gear, but I was left with the exact same thing with coloured gear, but the difference is, it's suddenly blasphemy.

 

No problem deadlylover, it's time to whip out the -2 warmness EQ to fix up that original track. Hold on a minute, clearly, you are now changing whatever the recording engineer wanted in the first place, but that's OK, you know what you are doing. What you are doing now is altering the track into what you _think_ is neutral. Therein lies the problem, we obviously have 2 different perspectives onto what we think is neutral, but why is my perspective wrong compared to yours? You're still making assumptions into what the track should sound like, just like I am.

 

So what are the benefits of an accurate headphone? If there is one, because, if something is accurate for me, it would probably sound different for you.

 

Being able to hear what the recording engineer hears? That's just not going to happen, I'm using headphones and he/she is using speakers.

Being able to differentiate different sounding recordings? I can still do that with my coloured headphones, I'm still able to contrast things as warmer, and cooler, except I have a slightly different reference point onto what I think is neutral.

 

I fully understand that some/many/most people find lots of enjoyment from trying to hear what the engineer hears, but it's just too hard for me to swallow that you guys with accurate gear have the ability to enjoy something more than what I can, with my coloured gear. Now if you didn't know, I'm not exactly using a terrible headphone or anything like that, I'm using the Stax Omega 2's.

post #34 of 292

I don't think anyone's trying to bring enjoyment into the picture. What you enjoy doesn't have to be accurate; the discussion seems to be centred on what accuracy is, and whether it's attainable with headphones. 

 

I've heard it said on Head-Fi--multiple times, recently--that headphones face difficulty in reaching the same level of accuracy as speakers. Something to do with the high degree of variation in the human ear, and how that surprisingly messes things up for engineers in ways that one wouldn't think it would. But it seems plain to me that we're in agreement that pretty accurate headphones do exist; where does that leave us?

 

Accurate headphones will show a track for what it is, whether there's exaggerated bass or not, whether the highs are too shrill or not. deadlylover: taking your example of a track that is mastered with a warmness of +4, the accurate headphones will allow you to know, from the moment you hit 'play', that the track is meant to be warm. Perhaps it is an acoustic guitar track, and you know from hearing acoustic guitars live that they do not sound so warm; well there you go, it's now possible/easier to say that the recording is warmer than neutral. 

 

Whether the track is too warm for you, however, is a different question. And that would be where Lunatique's suggestion of adding an EQ comes in; I *think* he believes it a more logical and/or versatile solution to begin with accurate transducers.

post #35 of 292
Thread Starter 

@deadlover 

 

It's much easier to attain a neutral/accurate sound if your starting point isn't heavily colored to begin with. The main reason is this:

 

If the coloration is due to the inherent physical limitations of the gear, and you try to push it with EQ, the gear will distort because it can't handle the amount of EQ you're applying. For example, trying make cheap earbuds reach 20Hz, or even 30Hz flat and still sound clean, will be impossible because the crappy driver just can't handle it. The closer your starting point to neutrality is, the easier it will be when you try to EQ it.

 

And you're right, there is no clear point of separation between almost accurate and too colored, but that applies to so many things in life where there are no clear boundaries between many things. So what we are left with is simply to try our best and reach for the most neutral and accurate we can within our means. 

 

When you say that your relative starting point is fixed, even if it's colored, that's just like saying if your TV has a noticeable green color cast all the time, but it's okay because at least that green is fixed and you'll still be able to spot the relative differences between colors. The question you should ask yourself then, is why would you want a TV that has a noticeable green cast to everything it displays? Why not have a neutral/accurate display so colors appear as they should?

 

Your example of the accurate gear and a track that is purposely mastered to warmness of 4 doesn't make any sense because it's illogical as an argument. If your gear is adding coloration, then it's exactly like a TV that's adding a color cast to everything it displays. If you enjoy that sort of thing, then by all means, continue to enjoy it. But most people I know prefer to have a neutral device that reproduces what it's supposed to without adding its own exaggeration. Imagine if you had a spoon that imparted its own flavor--let's say garlic, to everything it touches, whether it's ice cream, cereal, roast beef, or yogurt. Most people would much prefer a spoon that had no flavor of its own so they can taste different foods as they are supposed to taste.

 

If your gear is overall roughly +2 warm and you EQ it -2 warm to get it to sound more neutral, then yes, once you've done that, you could just leave that EQ alone and call it the day. That's basically what the ARC System is doing in my signal chain, and I have an EQ working on top of that to get even closer to the ideal neutrality.

 

 In the case of badly produced music that's grating to listen to, those are isolated cases and most people don't have that problem. If you have a special interest in crappy bedroom music made by people who have no idea how to make a good sounding production, then that's your unique problem, and you can deal with it however you like. I have some songs in my collection that's a bit too bright or of low quality that's grating to listen to, and if I must listen to them, I often just add another band to the EQ and do a simple broad dip from 4KHZ to 8KHz by as many dB's as it takes to get rid of the grating harshness. It takes me about 3 seconds to do it, and when the song is over, I delete that band. 

 

The Stax Omega 2 certainly is not something I'd call very colored. It's not quite neutral/accurate, but it gets closer than most headphones out there. I have EQ'd my Stax 007 mk2 and got it to sound fairly neutral, but even without EQ, I enjoy its sound enough to often listen to it without EQ. The LCD-2 is the same way, although it's a bit more neutral than the 007mk2 in general. The HD650 is also pretty good, except for the lack of authoritative sub-bass. It's harder for me to listen to the HD650 without EQ though, because I really need that sub-bass presence in order to feel like I'm listening to a full-range system. Even just watching movies or playing games, the HD650 doesn't reproduce the oomph in the explosions and rumbles to a satisfying degree. 

 

I don't think anyone is saying you don't get to enjoy music as much as those with more accurate sounding gear, but what is true is that you are enjoying music that always contain the gear's unique coloration, just like a TV that has a distinct color cast or a spoon that imparts its own flavor to the food. If you find that enjoyable, then it is enjoyable. It's really a matter of preference. It just happens that a lot of people prefer their gear to be as transparent as possible and not impart its own flavor into everything they hear.

 

I find it a little amusing though, since from the way you write in your posts, one would almost assume you were defending low-end consumer gear that sounds really colored, but you are in fact using Omega 2, which is what most would consider to be closer to neutral than not in the headphones community. 

 

BTW, I'm an artist, and I also teach art as well (you can check out my work at my site: www.ethereality.info). One of the most important lessons I teach my students is to learn how to convey exactly what they meant to say in their artwork so that their audience can understand what the hell they're trying to express. Believe it or not, most artists want to be understood, and they care very much whether their work resonates with people in the way they had hoped. Now if they think you're simply a shallow Rube who doesn't have the ability to appreciate their work, then that's a different story. In such cases, they are glad you don't understand their work. :)

 

Oh, and based on your description of "random Japanese high school girl singing," you might want to check out this girl who goes by the name "sundaytube." Search for her on yourtube and you'll find her. She's a multi-instrumentalists and singer, and she specializes in covering Japanese idols from the 80's. Really delightful voice, and she's quite a good musician with nice arrangement chops. Her early recordings were terrible--full of noise and distortion and very low quality, but she's improved her productions by leaps and bounds over time, and now sounds quite good. She just released her first CD recently. 

 

 

 


Edited by Lunatique - 7/29/11 at 8:43am
post #36 of 292
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post

Knowledge bomb


Ahh everything makes sense now, I now fully understand your point of view, thanks for that.

 

I'll keep an eye out for her, cheers. I'm a huge fan of amateur artists/indie music(?), there's nothing more heartwarming that seeing a 'nobody' starting to become more popular and finally releasing some CD's.

 

One of these days I'll invest in a nice speaker system and aim for accuracy, just for a change of pace. I'm pretty keen on DIY so it should be good fun tweaking things and having an actual goal to shoot for. I'll save that for when my music tastes change though, it's too embarrassing having my stuff play out loud tongue.gif.

post #37 of 292
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post

I find it a little amusing though, since from the way you write in your posts, one would almost assume you were defending low-end consumer gear that sounds really colored, but you are in fact using Omega 2, which is what most would consider to be closer to neutral than not in the headphones community. 


I though it was pretty funny that you two were arguing about this when you both have and enjoy the same pair of headphones.

 

There are plenty of people who will tell you some variation of the O2 being too dark, needs more treble, less bass, etc, etc though.

post #38 of 292
Quote:
Originally Posted by maverickronin View Post

I though it was pretty funny that you two were arguing about this when you both have and enjoy the same pair of headphones.

 

There are plenty of people who will tell you some variation of the O2 being too dark, needs more treble, less bass, etc, etc though.

 

It's even more funny when you consider that it was his review that practically sold the things to me.
 

post #39 of 292

I know I've link to it in the past, but I think the article "are you on the road to audiophile hell" has an interesting perspective on the topic of accuracy: The more accurate system is the one that reproduces the biggest contrast between various program sources.

 

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/viewpoint/0601/audiohell.htm

 

post #40 of 292
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by deadlylover View Post

 

It's even more funny when you consider that it was his review that practically sold the things to me.
 

 

*Slaps knee* Oh man, you can't make this stuff up. That's hilarious!
 

 

post #41 of 292

I remember reading once that one ultimate test for a high end audio would be playing a very high quality source of sound (lets say a recording of a person speaking or singing) and producing a perfect illusion of actual person speaking or singing without any distortions giving away a clue about this being a recording.

 

I'm obviously not able to produce such a high quality recording myself to test my gear. Are any available at all?

post #42 of 292
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JadeEast View Post

I know I've link to it in the past, but I think the article "are you on the road to audiophile hell" has an interesting perspective on the topic of accuracy: The more accurate system is the one that reproduces the biggest contrast between various program sources.

 

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/viewpoint/0601/audiohell.htm

 


That article pretty much has the same point of view as what I posted here--that an audio system should not impart its own coloration to the musical material being played, as that will homogenize all different kinds of material into having a similar sonic signature--the colored one that has been forced onto them by the audio system. They're totally right in saying that the more neutral/accurate a system is, the more differences you can hear between different styles of music and different production techniques being used.

 

post #43 of 292
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jack black View Post

I remember reading once that one ultimate test for a high end audio would be playing a very high quality source of sound (lets say a recording of a person speaking or singing) and producing a perfect illusion of actual person speaking or singing without any distortions giving away a clue about this being a recording.

 

I'm obviously not able to produce such a high quality recording myself to test my gear. Are any available at all?


This is what Hugh Robjohns of Sound On Sound magazine does. When he reviews monitors speakers, he'll play a spoken voice recording, which he feels is the most demanding of any audio reproduction device. You can email him and ask him what material he uses. I'm pretty sure his email is listed on their site: http://www.soundonsound.com/

 

post #44 of 292



Quote:

Originally Posted by jack black View Post

I remember reading once that one ultimate test for a high end audio would be playing a very high quality source of sound (lets say a recording of a person speaking or singing) and producing a perfect illusion of actual person speaking or singing without any distortions giving away a clue about this being a recording.

 

I'm obviously not able to produce such a high quality recording myself to test my gear. Are any available at all?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post




This is what Hugh Robjohns of Sound On Sound magazine does. When he reviews monitors speakers, he'll play a spoken voice recording, which he feels is the most demanding of any audio reproduction device. You can email him and ask him what material he uses. I'm pretty sure his email is listed on their site: http://www.soundonsound.com/

 


 

Why live vs recorded may be misleading http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-live-versus-recorded-listening.html , Dr. Sean Olive is a researcher at Harman and hosts a very interesting blog on all things audio


Edited by nick_charles - 7/29/11 at 10:03am
post #45 of 292
Quote:
Originally Posted by nick_charles View Post

Why live vs recorded may be misleading http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-live-versus-recorded-listening.html , Dr. Sean Olive is a researcher at Harman and hosts a very interesting blog on all things audio



Did you actually read one of the comments?

 

 

Quote:
The outdoor photographs of the Fine Arts Quartet -- along with Edgar Villchur, Roy Allison and other individuals -- were taken in Woodstock, NY during the initial recording sessions, and the AR-3s were for monitoring purposes and to check playback levels, etc. Clearly, the AR-3s received unintended publicity in this picture, but AR never used these pictures in any of its advertisements. It should be mentioned that Dynaco and a magnetic-tape manufacturer, Concertapes (as well as Ampex and Sony), were also involved in the LvR concerts. Concertapes had a recording contract with The Fine Arts Quartet at the time, and the Quartet approached Edgar Villchur in 1959 about doing live-vs.-recorded concerts together.

In 1956, the New York Audio League (Julian Hirsch) used four AR-1 loudspeakers, along with Bozak midrange drivers and the JansZen electrostatic tweeters, to reproduce the Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ in a Mt. Kisco, NY church, so LvR demonstrations had been done previously using AR equipment. This demonstration was also very successful, and it helped establish Acoustic Research's AR-1 as one of the finer low-frequency reproducers of the era.

The Fine Arts Quartet LvR concerts were AR's most successful, in my view, and they were met with almost universal critical acclaim from music critics, equipment reviewers and the public alike. More than seventy-five concerts were performed across the country in most of the largest cities, such as New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Chicago, LA and San Francisco. The ensemble tone of the Fine Arts Quartet -- performed in relatively spacious enclosed spaces -- was reproduced well from accounts from the newspaper reports and popular high-fidelity magazines of the period.

Subsequently, AR performed several concerts with classical guitarist Gustavo Lopez and the 1910 Seaburg Nickelodeon; while these demonstrations were quite successful, they lacked the closeness of playback of the Fine Arts Quartet. In the mid-1970s, AR used the then-new AR-10Pi (an updated version of the AR-3 and AR-3a) in a series of live-vs.-recorded demonstrations with jazz drummer Neil Grover. This LvR proved more difficult, as it took over 800-watt peaks to reproduce the drum "rim shots" and other drum sounds through the .5% efficient AR-10s. Amazingly, no AR driver was damaged except for a frozen voice coil caused by dc-offset from a failed Dunlap-Clarke Dreadnaught 1000 amplifier. Overall, I don't believe that these difficult demonstrations were as successful as AR's 1959-1963 Fine Arts Quartet series.

ARHPG (Acoustic Research Historic Preservation Group)

 

To me it sounds like the AR's work was not just a commercial gimmick and Dr Olive has a personal bias against these things. I do agree, there should be more science involved.

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