Originally Posted by bigshot
With playback, flat response is a calibration. If you play a song in New York on calibrated monitors, then fly to LA and listen to it again on a different set of calibrated monitors, it's going to sound exactly the same to you. Flat response in playback doesn't have a "sound". It's just a calibration setting... all frequencies presented equally.
It really doesn't matter if I have hearing loss in some frequencies and you don't. The music will still sound the same to each of us in New York and LA individually in the peculiar way we hear. But if you have a hearing defect where some frequency range in your hearing was attenuated, it would be possible for you to use test tones to determine the frequency and dB of that hearing loss. Then you could take your flat response curve and add that correction to the curve using an equalizer. It would correct for your hearing loss completely, but it might not sound good to anyone else.
But before you do any personal corrections, you calibrate to flat so you know you are starting out from an accurate starting point. If you buy colored electronics hoping to stumble across one colored in a way that perfectly matches the correction for your particular hearing loss, you're going to be wasting a lot of money looking for something that might not even exist. Easier to pull out an equalizer and calibrate, then apply your hearing correction.
But that's my point - what is accurate to begin with? Live music is NOT a flat frequency response, that's IMPOSSIBLE. There is no way no how that musicians in a band or an orchestra all play their instruments at the same dB to begin with. Some will press on the strings harder, some will swipe their bows faster, some will blow their trumpets harder. All this = higher or lower dB compared to the rest of the musicians/instruments, meaning that in a LIVE performance the frequency response is ANYTHING BUT flat, and thats the way it SHOULD be. When musicians get into the music, 'in the zone' to put it in sports terms, they will automatically adapt their sound to the rest of the band, dB included, and THAT is the sweet spot. Mind you, when I say adapt, it does NOT mean "match", it means play louder/quieter/faster/slower etc etc etc. so as to enjoy the sound more. When violins come in on a symphony where they should overwhelm the rest of the instruments they are quite a few dBs louder than the rest, and that is how it should be. So EQing a recording so it is flat (which I doubt is what you're really doing, more likely you're EQing so it sounds GOOD to YOUR ears, and you're calling it a flat response) is anything BUT good.
In fact, even if there's a SINGLE musician such as solo piano, the musician is going to accentuate some note (play them louder) than others, so the response will never be FLAT across the frequencies. Certainly you can EQ certain parts of a song so that the song as a whole sounds flat, but why would you do that to begin with? It will kill all that is good about it to begin with.
Edited by elmoe - 3/25/14 at 6:32pm