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post #46 of 71

@elmoe and @ag8908 - gentlemen please calm down, there is no reason for a flame war. Just yesterday you two were getting along famously.

 

First of all comparing a two channel headphone (and all headphones are two channel in spite of any processing one may use to "simulate" surround sound) to a 5.1 channel speaker set up is a little unfair. Besides which, as stated earlier, trying to compare speakers to headphones is a bit like comparing apples to oranges.

 

Remember that most so called surround sound recordings are really just stereo recordings re-processed to simulate surround sound, which goes a long in explaining why the original stereo version sounds better. For those few rare recordings, which just so happen to be mostly classical and big band jazz recordings, that were originally recorded in real, full multi-channel sound, the multi-channel version can sound truly spectacular. The real pity is that so few recordings are true multi-channel recordings.

 

 

post #47 of 71
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ralphp@optonline View Post

 

First of all comparing a two channel headphone (and all headphones are two channel in spite of any processing one may use to "simulate" surround sound) to a 5.1 channel speaker set up is a little unfair. Besides which, as stated earlier, trying to compare speakers to headphones is a bit like comparing apples to oranges.

 

Remember that most so called surround sound recordings are really just stereo recordings re-processed to simulate surround sound, which goes a long in explaining why the original stereo version sounds better. For those few rare recordings, which just so happen to be mostly classical and big band jazz recordings, that were originally recorded in real, full multi-channel sound, the multi-channel version can sound truly spectacular. The real pity is that so few recordings are true multi-channel recordings.

 

 

 


I was just curious if the audio community had definitely reached a conclusion that speakers sound better than headphones, to confirm my perceptions. And to say that you should not be allowed to compare headphone sound to speaker sound, because they're apples and oranges, is like saying you can't compare live sound to headphone sound because they're apples an oranges. They're both sounds representing the same source, and they're only apples and oranges because one sounds much better than the other, which is not a basis by which you can prohibit comparisons.

 

It's fine if you don't know the answer to the OP, but I really don't understand why you had to add a post declaring that no such comparisons between headphones and speakers should be permitted. If you don't know the answer to a question, just go on to another thread. Don't try to sound smart by imposing arbitrary rules denying the validity of the question.

 

And to waste more time on the notion that adding three speakers can somehow make something sound worse, which is preposterous on its face: when playing a 2 channel song on a 5.1 channel system, you still get the stereo effect, it's just coming out of five speakers instead of two. All that's happening is that the right channel is being played out of two right speakers and the left channel out of two left speakers, and I imagine it plays it evenly in the center, plus the subwoofer of course, which only adds to sub 80z tones.

post #48 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by ag8908 View Post
 


I was just curious if the audio community had definitely reached a conclusion that speakers sound better than headphones, to confirm my perceptions. And to say that you should not be allowed to compare headphone sound to speaker sound, because they're apples and oranges, is like saying you can't compare live sound to headphone sound because they're apples an oranges. They're both sounds representing the same source, and they're only apples and oranges because one sounds much better than the other, which is not a basis by which you can prohibit comparisons.

 

It's fine if you don't know the answer to the OP, but I really don't understand why you had to add a post declaring that no such comparisons between headphones and speakers should be permitted. If you don't know the answer to a question, just go on to another thread. Don't try to sound smart by imposing arbitrary rules denying the validity of the question.

 

And to waste more time on the notion that adding three speakers can somehow make something sound worse, which is preposterous on its face: when playing a 2 channel song on a 5.1 channel system, you still get the stereo effect, it's just coming out of five speakers instead of two. All that's happening is that the right channel is being played out of two right speakers and the left channel out of two left speakers, and I imagine it plays it evenly in the center, plus the subwoofer of course, which only adds to sub 80z tones.

Okay let's start at the beginning. Of course one can "compare" the sound of headphones to the sound of speakers but all one is really doing is just expressing a preference for the sound of one versus the other. Headphone listening is just a different presentation of the sound of the recording.

 

For the sack of the way you originally started this thread let me say I find that headphones tend to make one more aware of the details of recording/sound but tend to sacrifice soundstage. More detail because just the act of wearing headphones kind of forces one to have focus on the music - outside sounds and other distractions are much less with headphones then with speakers. Less soundstage than speakers because with headphones one is only the direct sound with none of the reflected sound that one gets when listening to speakers.

 

Plus there is the 5000 pound elephant that has not been mentioned - headphone bass is never, ever as good as bass from a good speaker system, never.

 

So there is a "comparison" of headphones to speakers.

 

Now onto 5.1 channel versus stereo. Basically almost everything you wrote is incorrect.

 

5.1 channel is not a stereo effect with more speakers - 5.1 channel is an attempt to recreate the sound of the recording venue in one's listening room by having the direct sound of the instruments in the front with the reflected sound of the recording space reproduced by the rear channels. Or at least that's how it's supposed to work. I suspect that what you are talking about is just trying to play a stereo mix through a 5.1 channel without an processing. Plus depending on how well the 5.1 mix is done the center channel can either enhance the sound or just serve to collapse the entire soundstage but the center channel is not just a little bit of the left and right channels. I suggest that you do a little research and reading on the topic of multi-channel sound.

 

And last but not least a subwoofer does not, or rather should not, just "adds to sub 80z tones". A properly functioning subwoofer should just be reproducing whatever low frequency signals are present in the recording. A good subwoofer that is properly set up will enable the main speakers (be they two speakers, in the case of stereo, or 5, in case of 5.1 channel) to reproduce the mid bass signals without the need for the main speakers to have to reproduce the low bass signal. The use of a subwoofer should, hopefully, mean that there is less distortion in the bass resulting in cleaner and clearer bass. Again perhaps a little research and reading is in order.

post #49 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by elmoe View Post
 

Depends what kind of music you listen to, and how good the recording is. For big bands or orchestra, certainly a 5.1 system is better, but for small bands or jazz trios I disagree.

 

5:1 isn't dependent on the size of the band, it is about placing the location of the instruments in three dimensional space, instead of just a two dimensional plane in front of you. It can also add room ambience, like that of a small jazz club, that can add tremendously to the atmosphere of a recording.

 

Here's an example of a small jazz group recorded in spectacular 5:1...

http://www.amazon.com/Overtime-Blu-ray-Lee-Ritenour/dp/B007XNAPJS

 

And of course both stereo and mono small group jazz recordings benefit from 5:1 spacial placement using DSPs.

post #50 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralphp@optonline View Post
 

Remember that most so called surround sound recordings are really just stereo recordings re-processed to simulate surround sound, which goes a long in explaining why the original stereo version sounds better.

 

I'm not familiar with SACDs, but on blu-ray and DVD, most 5:1 music is true surround.

 

And it depends on how two channel material is processed for 5:1. I use Yamaha's 7:1 stereo DSP that perfectly preserves the front stereo soundstage while adding the center, sub and rears to create a broader soundstage placed in a very effective soundspace.

post #51 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by ag8908 View Post
 

when playing a 2 channel song on a 5.1 channel system, you still get the stereo effect, it's just coming out of five speakers instead of two. All that's happening is that the right channel is being played out of two right speakers and the left channel out of two left speakers, and I imagine it plays it evenly in the center, plus the subwoofer of course, which only adds to sub 80z tones.

 

That isn't how it works... With synthesized 5:1 from stereo, the mains play primarily sound that is unique to left or right and only the signal that is common to both left and right is sent to the center channel. Stereo recordings have what is called the "phantom center", which is sound that is equally distributed to both channels. You can't put the two speakers further than 8 feet apart or so without the phantom center suffering. But when a DSP pulls out the center channel info and pipes it to the center speaker, it makes it so you can put the left and right mains as much as 16 feet apart while maintaining perfect soundstage with no gaps. That widens the stereo soundstage horizontally to about double the size.

 

The sub-80Hz sound is sent to the sub, making it easier on the mains to perform flat and clean; and the rears get a custom programmed phase delay that simulates a larger room. It's effectively doing real time processing to take the stereo apart and send it to the appropriate speakers to create synthesized multichannel. It's not just doubling up the same signal to every speaker.

 

Kinda hard to explain... is that clear?


Edited by bigshot - 3/16/14 at 4:45pm
post #52 of 71

If the goal of sound reproduction is an accurate recreation of a live performance, then 5:1 speakers come the closest because 1) the listener can turn his head to precisely read the location of the various instruments and sounds in space, 2) the bass is fuller and can be felt as vibrations in the air, 3) the soundstage is three dimensional, not a straight line through the middle of the ears like headphones, and 4) room ambience is perfectly captured all the way around the listener. Headphones can't do any of those things.

post #53 of 71
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

 

That isn't how it works... With synthesized 5:1 from stereo, the mains play primarily sound that is unique to left or right and only the signal that is common to both left and right is sent to the center channel. Stereo recordings have what is called the "phantom center", which is sound that is equally distributed to both channels. You can't put the two speakers further than 8 feet apart or so without the phantom center suffering. But when a DSP pulls out the center channel info and pipes it to the center speaker, it makes it so you can put the left and right mains as much as 16 feet apart while maintaining perfect soundstage with no gaps. That widens the stereo soundstage horizontally to about double the size.

 

The sub-80Hz sound is sent to the sub, making it easier on the mains to perform flat and clean; and the rears get a custom programmed phase delay that simulates a larger room. It's effectively doing real time processing to take the stereo apart and send it to the appropriate speakers to create synthesized multichannel. It's not just doubling up the same signal to every speaker.

 

Kinda hard to explain... is that clear?

 

Yes with my system you have to plug a microphone into the receiver, put the microphone where you sit, and it will automatically calibrate everything.

post #54 of 71

Strangely, I always thought the opposite. I thought that headphones scaled much faster for the money with better performance than that of a speaker system. I have approximately a $1000 5.1 system (my audio head of a dads spare equipment) in my room, and to be honest I do not like it nearly as much as my $1400ish headphone set up (ADs, Project Ember, DX100). I even think it compares well to my dad's $10k+ set up. Honestly there is no true comparison, as my headphones will never shake the entire house. However if you listen to the micro details I think my headphones can do certain things much better. I can pick up little nuances that his speakers often do not. I also prefer the tone of my headphones, but that is my preference as I prefer a flatter sound. My dad has a warmish set up for his system (which can be really bright if set up differently) in which is not my preference. Headphones also do not have an issue with reflections and room dynamics.

 

I think it comes down to this

 

Headphones- Perfect position every time, can reach better micro details for less money, some people dislike the "the music in you head". 

 

Speakers- Has much more impact, better sound stage and sounds proper, needs a good room, limited isolation, have to worry about positioning, can reach better details than headphones at more expensive price tags.

 

To be honest OP it sounds like you are not driving the HD800s correctly or you just prefer the sound of a stereo system. Which is perfectly fine. I know a few members of my family hate the music being trapped in their heads, and would rather be engulfed by the sound.

post #55 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

 

5:1 isn't dependent on the size of the band, it is about placing the location of the instruments in three dimensional space, instead of just a two dimensional plane in front of you. It can also add room ambience, like that of a small jazz club, that can add tremendously to the atmosphere of a recording.

 

Here's an example of a small jazz group recorded in spectacular 5:1...

http://www.amazon.com/Overtime-Blu-ray-Lee-Ritenour/dp/B007XNAPJS

 

And of course both stereo and mono small group jazz recordings benefit from 5:1 spacial placement using DSPs.

 

I have tried a variety of recordings just like this, and I didn't particularly like them for anything that wasn't a big band/orchestra. A small band sounds better in stereo (and I don't see how stereo doesn't place the instruments in 3D space by the way, with proper room treatment stereo does the job just fine), 5:1 just feels strange to me. When you listen to a band in a small jazz club you don't put a musician behind your back... That's my personal preference though, I'm aware many people like to be surrounded by the sound but to me it just doesn't sound very natural for most music.

post #56 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

If the goal of sound reproduction is an accurate recreation of a live performance, then 5:1 speakers come the closest because 1) the listener can turn his head to precisely read the location of the various instruments and sounds in space, 2) the bass is fuller and can be felt as vibrations in the air, 3) the soundstage is three dimensional, not a straight line through the middle of the ears like headphones, and 4) room ambience is perfectly captured all the way around the listener. Headphones can't do any of those things.

 

I also pretty much disagree with this partly. It's true if you are sitting in the middle of the band during the performance, but not if you're standing in front of the stage, or a way's away.

post #57 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

 

I'm not familiar with SACDs, but on blu-ray and DVD, most 5:1 music is true surround.

 

And it depends on how two channel material is processed for 5:1. I use Yamaha's 7:1 stereo DSP that perfectly preserves the front stereo soundstage while adding the center, sub and rears to create a broader soundstage placed in a very effective soundspace.


Surround sound created from a stereo recording using DSP, no matter how good the DSP, is NOT the same as surround sound from a recording made using 5 discreet channels (right front, center front, left front, right rear and left rear). That said this does not mean that DSP created surround sound cannot sound very good because there are several DSP algorithms that produce outstanding results, such as Yamaha's DSP.

post #58 of 71
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

 

5:1 isn't dependent on the size of the band, it is about placing the location of the instruments in three dimensional space, instead of just a two dimensional plane in front of you. It can also add room ambience, like that of a small jazz club, that can add tremendously to the atmosphere of a recording.

 

Here's an example of a small jazz group recorded in spectacular 5:1...

http://www.amazon.com/Overtime-Blu-ray-Lee-Ritenour/dp/B007XNAPJS

 

And of course both stereo and mono small group jazz recordings benefit from 5:1 spacial placement using DSPs.


I was wondering where you got true 5.1 audio.

post #59 of 71
Thread Starter 

I've been doing a number of listening tests, and the HD800 still sound bad relative to speakers. With respect to detail, the speakers produce it so well that it's not really fair to call it "detail" anymore. It's part of the music, and it's not emphasized any more than it should be. The HD800 have a problem of pushing too much detail forward and into your ears, at a disproportionately loud volume. With some songs, the most important part, the voice, sounds like it's pushed too far in the back on the HD800, whereas minor and insignificant instruments are right up front..It seems out of proportion.

 

I haven't yet found one song in which the HD800 outperforms the speaker setup, but I'm looking.


Edited by ag8908 - 3/17/14 at 3:04pm
post #60 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by elmoe View Post

When you listen to a band in a small jazz club you don't put a musician behind your back... That's my personal preference though, I'm aware many people like to be surrounded by the sound but to me it just doesn't sound very natural for most music.

I only have one 5:1 recording (Roy Oribison's B&W Night) that puts the sound of the band in the rear channels. That is extremely rare. In the vast majority of 5:1 music, the rears are used for room ambience to increase the size of the soundstage. Instead of having a flat plane of sound 8 feet wide in front of you as with stereo, you have a 16 foot wide soundstage in front of you, along with room ambience that creates the space the sound is inhabiting. It really isn't "surround" sound. It's more like three dimensional sound. 5:1 makes it so the room you put your speakers in doesn't have to be large to sound really good. The rears can create the ambience of a good stereo soundstage placed in any sized room.

It's something you have to hear to understand, and unfortunately, I have yet to see a retailer with a 5:1 setup that is properly configured. Most people go to a store and hear a 5:1 system tricked out for gimmicky ping pong effects and never realize its potential for opening up the natural dimensional realism in recordings.

5:1 is as great of an improvement over stereo as stereo was over mono. With mono, sound was one dimensional... coming from a single point. With stereo, you get two dimensions... a straight line from speaker to speaker. with 5:1 it adds the third dimension... side to side soundstage and front to back phase too. Ideally, an 9:1 system with high and low mains and rears would give you up and down phase as well. That would be true 3D sound. I'm sure that will eventually happen.
Edited by bigshot - 3/22/14 at 3:56pm
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