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Help! I think something is wrong with the way i perceive sound.

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi guys, I have been listening to music for a long time now but only recently took audio quality seriously but I realize that most of the music I hear sounds like it comes from the back of my head instead of the front like it should.

 

At first I thought it was normal but I read somewhere that we should be able to perceive it as if it was in front of us and that there are people who perceive sounds from the front as if it was coming from the back. I am afraid if I am one of those people. 

post #2 of 11

Check the polarity of your headphones. If you're putting them on properly, go to YouTube and search for "stereo channel test" to make sure the wiring on it was done properly.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

Check the polarity of your headphones. If you're putting them on properly, go to YouTube and search for "stereo channel test" to make sure the wiring on it was done properly.

I am using my HD650 but this happens to me on every headphone I tried but I am not sure if it's just my imagination or if I am really one of those people, but I'll go youtube and test myself. 

post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by chee006 View Post
 

I am using my HD650 but this happens to me on every headphone I tried but I am not sure if it's just my imagination or if I am really one of those people, but I'll go youtube and test myself. 

 

Statistically speaking it's kind of unlikely that all of those headphones do that, but do check anyway so that one can be eliminated. Is it the same with IEMs and earbuds?

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Yup, also i just did a stereo test on youtube and it seems to be working fine, theres one test whcih had centre as well and it sounded like it was coming from the front for real. I am so confused now...

post #6 of 11

Yes! Thanks Chee, i thought i was the only person with such a sensation and i too have just begun listening to my kind of music in a far more serious way. Previously it's always been off my computer through a good quality desktop amplifier, my iPhone or iPad into earbuds but now I've begun my appreciation into HDMusic, 24/96 .flac files and using a FiiO X5 player or Fidelia on my MacBook, and downloaded a few albums of HDMusic i cannot help noticing that some of them just do not give me a sense of anything other than everything being toward the rear and into central area of my conscience.

 

Certainly the headphones ( Sennheiser HD25 SP) or a set of AKG K712) offer fairly reasonable performance i am certain. I am of  an age when i remember clearly when Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon and the sensation of hearing the crossing over sounds between left and right being so thrilling on headphones but even then NEVER have i heard anything forward of an imaginary line through my conscience during headphone listening.

 

Anyone else able to expand on this?

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by morristhecat View Post
 

Yes! Thanks Chee, i thought i was the only person with such a sensation and i too have just begun listening to my kind of music in a far more serious way. Previously it's always been off my computer through a good quality desktop amplifier, my iPhone or iPad into earbuds but now I've begun my appreciation into HDMusic, 24/96 .flac files and using a FiiO X5 player or Fidelia on my MacBook, and downloaded a few albums of HDMusic i cannot help noticing that some of them just do not give me a sense of anything other than everything being toward the rear and into central area of my conscience.

 

Certainly the headphones ( Sennheiser HD25 SP) or a set of AKG K712) offer fairly reasonable performance i am certain. I am of  an age when i remember clearly when Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon and the sensation of hearing the crossing over sounds between left and right being so thrilling on headphones but even then NEVER have i heard anything forward of an imaginary line through my conscience during headphone listening.

 

Anyone else able to expand on this?

Looks like we have that sad disease... :( 

 

I just listened to the DVD-A of DSoTM in 5.1 and it sounded absolutely astoundding, I am still thinking that it's my imagination because most vocals sounds like it's coming from within my head and not infront of me and most intruments sounds, like it's coming from the side, 

post #8 of 11

If it's coming from the rear that's puzzling, however if it's coming from inside your head that's normal. When we describe depth in sound it is never completely outside the head unless it's a binaural recording.

Let's take for example my HD600 and SR225. The latter has strong Left, Center, and Right signals, somewhat recessed between L-C and C-R, unless I wear it with the driver a little forward off-center from my ear canal. On the HD600, I wear it in a somewhat similar fashion - I put it on with the driver directly on top of the ear canal, then push it a little bit forward, just short of bending my earlobes forward (your earlobe size may vary enough that we won't line up with each others ear canals). Worn this way vocals are definitely inside my head, but a little to the front of the forehead. Other instruments are distributed behind and around it, but it varies with some sources, sometimes throwing more money at it can be detrimental to their natural positions relative to each other. Here are a couple of diagrams I've used in other threads (triangle - vocals; round/elliptical - percussion; rectangular - guitars; keyboard and symphony/quartet not included* for simplicity but usually behind and to the right of the drums)

 

Fig. I : Meier Cantate.2 (USB input) >> HD600

Notice how placement of instruments are in natural positions relative to each other; Cayin CD50T moves everything back a little bit, but mostly just makes each sound source more precise

 

Fig II : Marantz CD500x >> Meier Cantate.2 / Burson Soloist >> HD600

Note how the soundstage is all screwed up - Reed Richards just joined Dream Theater while Sue Richards suspends his drums around the audience (you) and shows off his stretchy arm drummer skillz

 

 

Fig III : Meier Cantate.2 (USB input) >> Audezee LCD-2 Rev.2

Note how this is very similar to the HD600, but all moved a little bit further back, but not by much; some notes from the toms didn't move back with the rest of the drum set.

 

As in the diagram above, a more expensive source does not necessarily translate to a more natural soundstage on a headphone, because that same Marantz ($400?)didn't have any issues when I tried it with a speaker system (I totally forgot to try its headphone output though). The Cambridge 3xxC ($350?) also had a similar issue - most of the percussion were in normal positions, though not that far behind the vocals, but the bass drum was in front of the vocals. In terms of tonal qualities the Rega Apollo still did worse than the Meier amp's USB DAC, being too warm. Among CDPs I tried the Cayins (CD50T, CDT23) worked well, and so did the Arcam CD72 and Shanling T200. All of these however are over $1,000.

 

Other than maybe your source units and headphones (or the amp not being transparent enough and adding too much of some frequencies), the lack of 3D soundstage may be in the recordings themselves. All those I used for the diagrams are metal bands, progressive or some kind of metal that uses instruments from a symphony (also tested pure classical symphonies but I was too lazy to do the diagrams, not to mention people would be more familiar with a four-piece modern band). In one example, there are parts of hard metal guitar riffs-driven parts then suddenly stops and the symphony plays a few notes (probably just the synth in a typical live show) in Epica's "Unleashed." When the symphony does this the first time, they occupy a wide swath behind and to the right of the where the drums are. When they do it again a few seconds later, the tone is higher and only occupies the right side of what it used to, indicating only the strings. On the third time, the tone is very deep and indeed sounds brassy, indicating the brass section, and only occupies the left side of what they did in the first. So likely in the recording the brass and strings were lined up left to right just ahead (behind, relative to the listener) of the right channel microphone. This isn't the best example of depth in the recording but a good balance of depth and width, especially for a non-acoustic recording (and in any case, technically the symphony instruments are acoustic).

 

If you have any local car audio clubs in your area or if you can get them some other (now illegal in my area) way, try to get a hold of test CDs used for car audio competitions or system set-ups. Focal's #2 disc is one example, but check any labelled/used by the EMMA or IASCA (not the bass-test disc). They have recordings there that have one guy discussing soundstage depth and how it is done, with him walking around a microphone to illustrate how this is done in the studio. If the sound isn't moving as he described it should, then there's something lacking in the system's performance. If it moves totally the opposite then there's something really wrong with one of the components. Even in my car his voice can seem to come from beyond the windshield.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*For recordings that have a string section or orchestra backing up the metal band


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 4/17/14 at 1:24am
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

If it's coming from the rear that's puzzling, however if it's coming from inside your head that's normal. When we describe depth in sound it is never completely outside the head unless it's a binaural recording.

Let's take for example my HD600 and SR225. The latter has strong Left, Center, and Right signals, somewhat recessed between L-C and C-R, unless I wear it with the driver a little forward off-center from my ear canal. On the HD600, I wear it in a somewhat similar fashion - I put it on with the driver directly on top of the ear canal, then push it a little bit forward, just short of bending my earlobes forward (your earlobe size may vary enough that we won't line up with each others ear canals). Worn this way vocals are definitely inside my head, but a little to the front of the forehead. Other instruments are distributed behind and around it, but it varies with some sources, sometimes throwing more money at it can be detrimental to their natural positions relative to each other. Here are a couple of diagrams I've used in other threads (triangle - vocals; round/elliptical - percussion; rectangular - guitars; keyboard and symphony/quartet not included* for simplicity but usually behind and to the right of the drums)

 

Fig. I : Meier Cantate.2 (USB input) >> HD600

Notice how placement of instruments are in natural positions relative to each other; Cayin CD50T moves everything back a little bit, but mostly just makes each sound source more precise

 

Fig II : Marantz CD500x >> Meier Cantate.2 / Burson Soloist >> HD600

Note how the soundstage is all screwed up - Reed Richards just joined Dream Theater while Sue Richards suspends his drums around the audience (you) and shows off his stretchy arm drummer skillz

 

 

Fig III : Meier Cantate.2 (USB input) >> Audezee LCD-2 Rev.2

Note how this is very similar to the HD600, but all moved a little bit further back, but not by much; some notes from the toms didn't move back with the rest of the drum set.

 

As in the diagram above, a more expensive source does not necessarily translate to a more natural soundstage on a headphone, because that same Marantz ($400?)didn't have any issues when I tried it with a speaker system (I totally forgot to try its headphone output though). The Cambridge 3xxC ($350?) also had a similar issue - most of the percussion were in normal positions, though not that far behind the vocals, but the bass drum was in front of the vocals. In terms of tonal qualities the Rega Apollo still did worse than the Meier amp's USB DAC, being too warm. Among CDPs I tried the Cayins (CD50T, CDT23) worked well, and so did the Arcam CD72 and Shanling T200. All of these however are over $1,000.

 

Other than maybe your source units and headphones (or the amp not being transparent enough and adding too much of some frequencies), the lack of 3D soundstage may be in the recordings themselves. All those I used for the diagrams are metal bands, progressive or some kind of metal that uses instruments from a symphony (also tested pure classical symphonies but I was too lazy to do the diagrams, not to mention people would be more familiar with a four-piece modern band). In one example, there are parts of hard metal guitar riffs-driven parts then suddenly stops and the symphony plays a few notes (probably just the synth in a typical live show) in Epica's "Unleashed." When the symphony does this the first time, they occupy a wide swath behind and to the right of the where the drums are. When they do it again a few seconds later, the tone is higher and only occupies the right side of what it used to, indicating only the strings. On the third time, the tone is very deep and indeed sounds brassy, indicating the brass section, and only occupies the left side of what they did in the first. So likely in the recording the brass and strings were lined up left to right just ahead (behind, relative to the listener) of the right channel microphone. This isn't the best example of depth in the recording but a good balance of depth and width, especially for a non-acoustic recording (and in any case, technically the symphony instruments are acoustic).

 

If you have any local car audio clubs in your area or if you can get them some other (now illegal in my area) way, try to get a hold of test CDs used for car audio competitions or system set-ups. Focal's #2 disc is one example, but check any labelled/used by the EMMA or IASCA (not the bass-test disc). They have recordings there that have one guy discussing soundstage depth and how it is done, with him walking around a microphone to illustrate how this is done in the studio. If the sound isn't moving as he described it should, then there's something lacking in the system's performance. If it moves totally the opposite then there's something really wrong with one of the components. Even in my car his voice can seem to come from beyond the windshield.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*For recordings that have a string section or orchestra backing up the metal band

Wow, thanks for the awesome and detailed description of the soundstage for different headphones and sources, I personally just upgraded my tube and my DAC to a way better one and now everything sounds great although I have not really paid attention to the soundstage of my new set up.

 

Yesterday I bought Dream Theatre 5 album pack and can't wait to hear them, is there any particular album or song that I can reference back to for soundstage?

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by chee006 View Post
 

Wow, thanks for the awesome and detailed description of the soundstage for different headphones and sources, I personally just upgraded my tube and my DAC to a way better one and now everything sounds great although I have not really paid attention to the soundstage of my new set up.

 

Yesterday I bought Dream Theatre 5 album pack and can't wait to hear them, is there any particular album or song that I can reference back to for soundstage?

 

All of them generally have decent sound stage as per recording standards, just don't compare them to acoustic recordings from Linn for example. However since my fave Dream Theater song of all time is still Metropolis Pt. I, that's what I listened to (and Octavarium) - drums should pan left to right on rolls but their position on the z-axis (depth) should be consistent (this tends to be a problem on some headphones rather than DACs, except for what I wrote above).

 

Epica and Nightwish also have a good deal of soundstage information. On Unleashed there's a part of the intro before the first verse where you can hear the effects of how an orchestra is seated during recording will affect the image. The metal band plays a heavy riff, then stops and the orchestra comes on, and you can hear it occupying a line from the center to the right, behind the drummer; they repeat this movement, but next time the orchestra comes in, the sound is mostly higher frequencies, and it occupies only the right half of that line; then they repeat this again, and this time the orchestra sounds deeper and brass-y, occupying only the left side of that original line. This suggests they were sitting in a line ahead/behind (depends on how you're looking at it) of the right channel microphone during recording.

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

All of them generally have decent sound stage as per recording standards, just don't compare them to acoustic recordings from Linn for example. However since my fave Dream Theater song of all time is still Metropolis Pt. I, that's what I listened to (and Octavarium) - drums should pan left to right on rolls but their position on the z-axis (depth) should be consistent (this tends to be a problem on some headphones rather than DACs, except for what I wrote above).

 

Epica and Nightwish also have a good deal of soundstage information. On Unleashed there's a part of the intro before the first verse where you can hear the effects of how an orchestra is seated during recording will affect the image. The metal band plays a heavy riff, then stops and the orchestra comes on, and you can hear it occupying a line from the center to the right, behind the drummer; they repeat this movement, but next time the orchestra comes in, the sound is mostly higher frequencies, and it occupies only the right half of that line; then they repeat this again, and this time the orchestra sounds deeper and brass-y, occupying only the left side of that original line. This suggests they were sitting in a line ahead/behind (depends on how you're looking at it) of the right channel microphone during recording.

Awesome! I'll keep an eye on those tracks and see if they sound as you describe. :) 

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