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The Holy Grail...

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

This is my first post. I would like to say hi to everyone here who make head-fi a very useful fountain of knowledge.

 

I am newbie in sound appreciation. I am trying to ascertain/understand what is the purpose of our endeavour. I realise that to its core it has to do something with music appreciation and elevating through sound.

 

If this is the goal, is then the strategy to try and bring/capture in our ears what the artist created in the closest possible fidelity of the produced sound?

 

Or are we to try and create with our own 'medling' (equalising, amplifying etc.) a soundscape that 'works' for us?

 

I would lean towards the first path personally. Then my question would then be: how does one achieve that? So far I have realised that the format of the music file is key (listening to wav vs a 320 mp3 in the same system and volume was eye opening).

 

After that, if everything that we put in the way of the sound alters it somehow, is there a way to track this change and then in our cans to bring it back to its intended 'form'?

 

I understand that this is a very generic subject. These are just some thoughts questions after reading a few very interesting threads and trying to understand critical listening a bit more.

 

Thank you for your thoughts/insights.

post #2 of 22

Honestly, I'm drawn to this forum because of all the endless possibilities, and the growth of my knowledge in this field is simply a byproduct of my exploring.

post #3 of 22

its not about the holy grail... its about the journey.  

post #4 of 22

As long as the human brain is involved, there is no "Holy Grail".  Get 10 golden-eared individuals together, let them listen to 3 different top-end reference systems, and I'm willing to bet each of the 3 reference systems would be judged "best" by at least one reviewer.

post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ch96066 View Post

 I am trying to ascertain/understand what is the purpose of our endeavour.

 

If this is the goal, is then the strategy to try and bring/capture in our ears what the artist created in the closest possible fidelity of the produced sound?

 

Or are we to try and create with our own 'medling' (equalising, amplifying etc.) a soundscape that 'works' for us?

Great way to approach the hobby. What is valued and to what end helps determine what is good and how to find it. Different people interpret the aims of the audiophile hobby in different ways, the differing values and approaches can cause an incredible amount of disagreement and make it impossibile to get to a common ground on issues.

 

An interesting article that I would recommend you look at is called are you on the road to audiophile hell?

http://www.audionote.co.uk/articles/art_audio_hell.shtml


Edited by JadeEast - 7/24/12 at 5:08pm
post #6 of 22

Listening to the Exact same music the audio engineer mixed isn't possible (you would simply have to go to his recording studio). It's not just about CD vs MP3, DacX vs DacY, Amp Z vs Amp A, The environment in which you play music has a large impact on what you hear. Not to mention everyone's hearing abilities are different.

 

But if you want to get close, you want a pair of studio monitors, and a good dac. It's that simple.

 

Honestly, headphones are rarely used by the audio engineer for mixing. They prefer speakers. Not to mention that the frequency responce of most headphones after 10kHz is non-existant.

post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xaborus View Post

Listening to the Exact same music the audio engineer mixed isn't possible (you would simply have to go to his recording studio).

 

And borrow his ears and eardrums, too... that treble boost might not work for you, but that old dude really seemed to be digging it... know what I mean?

post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ch96066 View Post

Or are we to try and create with our own 'medling' (equalising, amplifying etc.) a soundscape that 'works' for us?

I think you misunderstand the purpose of amplification and equalization. Obviously, without amplification, we don't hear anything at all. Line level isn't strong enough to produce enough volume to listen to. And the purpose of EQ isn't to create an artificial sound. It's to correct for imbalances that cause sound to be less real. Equalization is a tool. It isn't good or bad. It's all in how you use it.
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 

On the amplification part (being less intrusive on the original sound) I understand it more, I think, than EQ. My question about EQ is this.

 

If the sound editor/mixer has already EQed the sound to the point that the artist is happy with the overall outcome, what are we actually trying to correct? The obstacles/alterations that our equipment has brought in the mix? And if so how do we actually lessen these obstacles? Is it through better or even perhaps less equipment when playing a hi-fi musical format (file/cd etc.)?

 

I also understand that one cannot 'hear' the exact same sound as the engineer/artist for anatomical reasons, at least, if nothing else. However, is there any reason why we cannot at least 'capture' with our gear the exact same sound?

 

I understand that these may be very basic or even anorthodox questions lacking the basic underpinnings of understanding sound or audiophilia. I just ask them as I feel them. Always thankful for the comments.

post #10 of 22
When they mix a record, they listen to it on speakers that have been calibrated using an equalizer to have a perfectly flat frequency response.

When we listen to the CD, our headphones may not be perfectly flat. And speakers have a different response curve in any room you put them in. The response curve is all over the place.

In order to hear what the original artsts and engineers intended, you need to calibrate your headphones and speakers to flat like their monitors. Otherwise, the deviation from flat that is almost inevitable in a home setting will color the sound.

EQ is adjusted by sweeping through the range of frequencies with a test tone, listening for parts of the spectrum where the tone gets louder or softer. You use the controls of the equalizer to even out the volume, so it's one continuous sweep with no bumps. Once you've done that, the response is flat.

Frequency imbalances can cause all sorts of problems... masking, headache inducing high frequency spikes that can't be clearly heard, harshness, muffled sound, lack of clarity, sibilance, etc. it's a lot of work to equalize properly, but EQ is the probably the most effective way to improve the sound of your system.
Edited by bigshot - 7/25/12 at 2:02pm
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 

Bigshot, thank you for the clarification on the 'flattening' approach to remove as much colouration as possible. So what you are saying, if I read it correctly, is not about EQing the music, but about 'neutralising' the headphones prior to listening anything.

 

Any hands on tutorial on how to do that? Would this be the way?

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/413900/how-to-equalize-your-headphones-a-tutorial

post #12 of 22
I haven't read that tutorial, I'm afraid. You've got the idea though. Once your headphones or speakers are equalized, one setting makes all music sound better.
post #13 of 22

Of course, if you *want* to have a sightly non-flat baseline curve, that's up to you.  For example, you might be a basshead that wants everything below 120 Hz to run +3dB hot.  Some people like to EQ their home theater systems like that.

post #14 of 22
It's easier to do that after you're flat. In fact, just turning up the bass a bit would accomplish that.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

It's easier to do that after you're flat. In fact, just turning up the bass a bit would accomplish that.

 

Yup.  You definitely want to get the baseline under control before you tweak.  Parametric EQs are pretty cool - I have one for my home theater sub.  It was interesting how taming the high spots in the FR also tended to automatically bring the low spots up - I guess because they were probably room modes?  Anyway, it was the best $100 box I've ever bought.

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