I recently bought FiiO's E10 and paired it with my SRH 940s. I immediately noticed a pronounced sibilance in the upper ranges of a song I was listening to. I tried other songs as well, but they all had sibilance. I tried reducing the volume from my laptop and from the amp itself; the sibilance was still prevalent. I also tried adjusting the EQ minus 1 to 2db in the 5khz-7khz range; this failed as well. However, when I plugged my headphones straight into my laptop and listened to the same songs, the sibilance was gone. Also, only FLAC files are not sibilant when played through the amp. Only MP3 and AAC. Is there something wrong with the amp? Any input would be appreciated! Thank you.
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The SRH 940 is a bright headphone. See the big peak around 10 kHz in the graph listed below:
That is from the headphone.
There is also a distortion peak around 1.5 kHz seen here:
Both of these conditions combined added to the artifacts from compression which are typically in the high frequencies, are going to make the treble even brighter. Take all of that and put it through amplification and you get an even larger peak.
I say it is likely the headphone, but it may be the tracks you are listening to tend to be a tad bright.
Please list two tracks that your hear the sibilance.
I would be sure to turn off all EQ and try a different headphone and see if that fixes it.
Thank you for the input!
I heard pronounced sibilance in Alicia Keys' 'If I Ain't Got You' and Daughtry's 'Feels Like Tonight'. My EQ was off at the time of listening. Unfortunately, I don't have another set of headphones with me to try out.
Why is the sibilance not appearing when I plug straight into my laptop though? Is it because the signal is not being amplified to the degree that my E10 does?
I am going to have to noodle on that one for a bit. Perhaps someone else will chime in with their answer.
You said that the sibilance occurs when you have the PC volume at full and control the volume to the headphone with just the amp? How far up in volume, with 100% being all the way up, would you say the amp volume is when you hear the sibilance?
Give this a listen with your setup and report back if you hear the sibilance:
With my headphone out on my PC and using my in-ears I hear no sibilance.
With nothing playing at all, but with the volume turned up to 50% on the FiiO do you hear the sibilance?
Edited by NA Blur - 1/24/13 at 12:55pm
My PC volume was around 20% and my amp was between the 0 and 1 when I got the sibilance last time.
I tried the video with max PC volume and a volume between numbers 8 and 0. No sibilance! It was very clean. Interestingly, I tried the mp3 again and no sibilance as well. I also just tried the mp3 with my original settings (20% and between 0 and 1) and no sibilance. Everything was clean. It's like the sibilance happens at random.
If the sibilance never occurs with the PC volume at 100% and the amp volume lowered then the issue may be clipping. Clipping on the output often occurs when the volume of the amp is turned up, but the amp cannot actually give any more gain. The sinusoidal signal becomes flat at the peaks or troughs which leads to distortion.
Edited by NA Blur - 1/25/13 at 8:41am
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Sounds like gain combined with inherent problems in some of your recordings.
You're using a very efficient and sensitive headphone with an amplifier. This introduces higher gains from the amp which will increase the hiss/noise floor as well as slightly increase volume of frequencies per volume set. The non-amplified source has less gain added, so it's not going to do that as much if at all.