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Question : Why do headphones (whatever type) almost always sound like you are standing with your...

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 

By now I have quite good hardware and excellent sound files too.

 

However, whatever I use and whatever I try; the sound always sounds like I am with my back to the stage.

When I use headphones (including IEM's and earbuds) with great separation and soundstage the sound expands to the sides and the back but I'm still with my back to the stage.

 

Today I got me some binaural recordings (including Amber Rubarth's Sessions from the 17th Ward, yammie!) and this is quite an improvement and I can now really hear sound in front of me. Sadly the stage is still behind me.

The best I got out of the binaural files was high in the forehead or, now and then, just outside and above. The positioning is always front to back.

When testing with "Audio Stax - The Space Sound CD", everything is super detailed and exactly where it should be except sounds that should be in front of me are above my forefead instead.

I tried turning around, exchanging my earbuds, quickly turning my head and whatnot but that darn stage always stays where it is!

 

Anyway, can anyone shed some light on this?

Is my brain ready for an overhaul? Need my ears rewiring? Is my face blocking sound? Has it to do with me coming out the wrong way at birth? Please tell me!

 

 

PS. I enjoyed the binaural sound more with my HSA-E212 IEM's than I did with my open Sennheiser HDR180's... Weird..


Edited by zhubajie - 8/3/13 at 5:20pm
post #2 of 48

First I would make sure you're not currently residing on an ancient pagan burial ground. 


Other than that, all I can think of is: are you used to using loudspeakers? 

If so, you'd be very well accustomed to the stereo-imaging capabilities they offer, and having the gap between your ears and the sound narrowed down to zero destroys your usual sound listening experience.

post #3 of 48
Thread Starter 
Ehh, thanks for your reply.
The angry ghosts on the pagan burial grounds that I'm on must be gnawing on my brains because I don't understand what you said there.
Gap or no gap. There isn't one when I listen to normal loudspeakers and it doesn't seem logical that the gap, IF there needs to be one, should be in the front of me to make my listening experience miserable and make all the artists hide behind my back!
 
There must be some wizard in our midst that can enlighten this confused soul!

Edited by zhubajie - 8/3/13 at 5:18pm
post #4 of 48
Hello!

Do you mind listing down what are the headphones you mentioned in this thread?

Billson smily_headphones1.gif
post #5 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillsonChang007 View Post

Do you mind listing down what are the headphones you mentioned in this thread?

Sure,

I have it with all the gazillion headphones/earbuds/IEM's I have. It's not the earphones or the players or the music.

 

Today, when focussing on it I have experienced it with the Sennheiser RS180, Ultimate Ears Triple-Fi/10's, some Sony hybrid earbuds and the Hisoundaudio HSA-E212. Today I used these with the Colorfly C3, my PC, the Sansa Clip+, Sansa Clip Zip and Fuze+ (was burning in some stuff).

With all kinds of music. Mostly normal CD quality flacs but also with some binaural music.

I also used a few binaural demo files like "01 Kunstkopfumgang Im IRT, Dr. Theil.flac" from "Audio Stacks, The Space Sound CD".


Edited by zhubajie - 8/3/13 at 6:29pm
post #6 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by zhubajie View Post

Sure,
I have it with all the gazillion headphones/earbuds/IEM's I have. It's not the earphones or the players or the music.

Today, when focussing on it I have experienced it with the Sennheiser RS180, Ultimate Ears Triple-Fi/10's, some Sony hybrid earbuds and the Hisoundaudio HSA-E212. Today I used these with the Colorfly C3, my PC, the Sansa Clip+, Sansa Clip Zip and Fuze+ (was burning in some stuff).
With all kinds of music. Mostly normal CD quality flacs but also with some binaural music.
I also used a few binaural demo files like "01 Kunstkopfumgang Im IRT, Dr. Theil.flac" from "Audio Stacks, The Space Sound CD".

I think these are the answer to your question by looking at the headphones/earphones you mentioned above:

I have tested several IEMs like UE900, IE 800 as well as the XBA-4. While they are some of the best IEM out there or "high/mid-end" model, none of it offer good imaging, soundstage. I believe, UE Triple-Fi/10 is the older model of UE900 (I assume, correct me if I am wrong!) and by looking at the UE900 only, it offer excellent sound quality overall but the soundstage, imaging etcs are still on the bad side, I assume this also the same with the Triple-Fi/10.

I also personally think that the RS180 are no good at imaging as well!

The problem is not that all headphones have bad with imaging, it is just that the headphones you tested/owned that you mentioned above does not have good imaging. Try something like AKG K1000, HifiMan HE-400 that offer great imaging, and I am pretty sure that you won't feel like you are standing with the back to the stage and you will be able to tell from where the instruments is coming from etc.

Sometimes, position of the headphone driver can affect the imaging as well!

Hope it helps and clarify your doubt
Billson smily_headphones1.gif
post #7 of 48
Thread Starter 

Hi Billson,

 

Thank you for your reply.

I am sure it is not hardware related.

As long as it is behind me or to the right or the left I am able to pinpoint exactly where everything is.

The binaural file "01 Kunstkopfumgang Im IRT, Dr. Theil.flac" from "Audio Stacks, The Space Sound CD" is made to check these things out.

If it would be hardware related each headset would give different results in this test and that ain't the case.

 

I have used my wife as a guinnea pig and she perceives the same but to a slightly lesser extent.

She also hears the frontal sound somewhat higher than it should be.

However she also feels as if she is with her back to the stage.

She told me it sounded as if she was in the orchestra pit with the singer right behind her and the instruments somewhere behind the singer to left and right.

I used the binaural version of "Amber Rubarth - 01 - Hold On.flac" here.

 

With loudspeakers it's easy. These are right in front of you so this is no issue.

Headphones, whatever kind, are on or in your ears and there it isn't that simple. It becomes more artificial there.

 

So, my wife proves it isn't me and all other tests show it isn't the hardware or the music either.

I don't believe for a second that me and my wife hear that and all these experienced listeners here don't.

 

So... the question still stands : why do headphones sound like you are standing with your back to the stage?

post #8 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by zhubajie View Post

Hi Billson,

Thank you for your reply.
I am sure it is not hardware related.
As long as it is behind me or to the right or the left I am able to pinpoint exactly where everything is.
The binaural file "01 Kunstkopfumgang Im IRT, Dr. Theil.flac" from "Audio Stacks, The Space Sound CD" is made to check these things out.

If it would be hardware related each headset would give different results in this test and that ain't the case.


I have used my wife as a guinnea pig and she perceives the same but to a slightly lesser extent.
She also hears the frontal sound somewhat higher than it should be.

However she also feels as if she is with her back to the stage.

She told me it sounded as if she was in the orchestra pit with the singer right behind her and the instruments somewhere behind the singer to left and right.

I used the binaural version of "
Amber Rubarth - 01 - Hold On.flac
" here.


With loudspeakers it's easy. These are right in front of you so this is no issue.

Headphones, whatever kind, are on or in your ears and there it isn't that simple. It becomes more artificial there.


So, my wife proves it isn't me and all other tests show it isn't the hardware or the music either.

I don't believe for a second that me and my wife hear that and all these experienced listeners here don't.


So... the question still stands : why do headphones sound like you are standing with your back to the stage
?

If that is the case, I am guessing that it is because of the darke signature of most headphones in comparison the some speakers. The instruments sound louder than some vocals making you feel like you are behind the stage. To test this if it's true, EQ and boots the Frequency at around 16KHz, 6-8KHz.

Billson smily_headphones1.gif
post #9 of 48

Okay here are my experiences.. Mostly vocals are found at my forehead or at the top of my forehead, often slightly shifted to the left or right, and mostly nothing extends further forward than that. In general I tend to see headphone listening as being on the stage with the musician surrounding me.

 

Some headphones like the hd800, akg k1000, Stax Sigmas, etc have very angled drivers, which makes for an image that is mostly shifted forward, even being in front of your head/face at times. Some like the presentation of headphones, others don't.

 

While we are at it, you should try out Ottmar Liebert's 'Up Close' (binaural). 


Edited by davidsh - 8/4/13 at 8:17am
post #10 of 48

Depends on what you're using for playback, but if your system has an option/plugin for it you may want to try crossfeed - it may help the soundstage seem more forward/natural to you.  

 

I go back and forth between MediaMonkey and foobar, and both of those work really nicely with crossfeed.  MediaMonkey needs a Winamp 2 DSP Plugin called HeadPlug, and foobar has a crossfeed option built into the provided DSP Manager.

post #11 of 48

+1.  I experience the same, even if I swap L & R.  I use earphones mostly.  I would like to understand this.  Is it because the drivers are inserted deep in ears and is usually in a direction from behind the ears (not like speakers in front)?

post #12 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by vbvb View Post

+1.  I experience the same, even if I swap L & R.  I use earphones mostly.  I would like to understand this.  Is it because the drivers are inserted deep in ears and is usually in a direction from behind the ears (not like speakers in front)?

Just a general trait of headphones. Personally, I don't think it is like sound is coming from behind me, but more like the sound is inside a room in my head. Depending on headphone adn equipment it will seem like a miniature room, a 2D plane or simply just a line from 1 ear to another. Of course a good system will sound like you are in a miniature room, but in general headphones have a hard time displaying depth (sounds from behind and in front of you).

Also, it doesn't help that most recordings are recorded for speakers, which tend to make the head stage collapse into a plane with a lot of sound sources centered at left or right ear in worst case.

post #13 of 48
Thread Starter 

I did some searching and reading and by now I know our mind has trouble distinguising between sound coming from the front and sound coming from the back.

Our eyes help with deciding where it is.

When you are not using earphones (or IEM's or earbuds) the reverbs/echoes help your brain too. The form of your ears/earlobes help with that.

 

That's for normal stereo music and most people are so used to it they don't even notice it.....

 

But with binaural or holophonic music and binaural testfiles that should be much better.

And it is; I can perfectly and almost to the cm tell where the instrument or singer is (at least I feel I can).

But only the area from right to back to behind. Everything that should be in front sounds as if it is somewhere around/above my forehead.

The reason why that is is unclear but I'm sure that it has to do with the brain and not with the players or the headphones.

 

I think this is a very interesting topic so I will try to get info from an audiologist on this. However I fear they can't help me too.

But it never hurts to try.


Edited by zhubajie - 8/5/13 at 12:54am
post #14 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pwwaring View Post

Depends on what you're using for playback, but if your system has an option/plugin for it you may want to try crossfeed - it may help the soundstage seem more forward/natural to you.  

 

I go back and forth between MediaMonkey and foobar, and both of those work really nicely with crossfeed.  MediaMonkey needs a Winamp 2 DSP Plugin called HeadPlug, and foobar has a crossfeed option built into the provided DSP Manager.

Crossfeed doesn't help much with distinguishing front from back. It helps making your listening experience a little better on headphones by mixing a % of left and right.

With binaural or holophonic music you have to switch off Crossfeed as this music is made especially for headphones and crossfeed will get in the way.

 

If you have never tried binaural I advise you to do that. AudioStax has some nice testfiles. If you search for binaural you are shure to find some files (try torrent search engines).


Edited by zhubajie - 8/5/13 at 1:17am
post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by zhubajie View Post

Crossfeed doesn't help much with distinguishing front from back. It helps making your listening experience a little better on headphones by mixing a % of left and right.

With binaural or holophonic music you have to switch off Crossfeed as this music is made especially for headphones and crossfeed will get in the way.

 

If you have never tried binaural I advise you to do that. AudioStax has some nice testfiles. If you search for binaural you are shure to find some files (try torrent search engines).

Crossfeed definitely isn't the perfect solution, but at least for the way my brain is wired it does give me the illusion that hard left or right signals are coming slightly more from the front rather than directly from the side or rear.  Granted that YMMV, I suppose that everyone could experience this slightly differently.  It needs to be pretty subtle for me though - too much crossfeed and it really starts muddying the sound for me.

 

I've heard other people mention binaural recordings on here before, but have never heard any.  I'm going to have to go and search for the couple that you mentioned - sounds interesting!

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