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I hear no difference. What am I doing wrong?

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 

Hi, guys.

I'm very sensitive for sibilance. My current day-to-day player is cowon d2+ with fiio e11 amp, my earphones are AM6 HiRez. I use rockbox EQ to cut down some high frequencies: -7dB, Q0.7, 7kHz. Well, AM6 sounds very well on many compositions without EQ, but sometimes they harsh too much. And on some forums (primarily on russian player.ru) people told me that it's not AM6 has sibilance, it's because of d2+ crap. They told me that fiio x5, for example, sounds without any sibilance with AM6.

In my PC I have asus essence stx, it has better DAC than d2+, but for me AM6 sounds the same on both devices. OK, yesterday I've decided to go to audiophile shop and listen all players myself and choose best one. For testing I used flac files and some mp3 320kbps. For example, there were (the most bright and sibilance) Arena - The Great Escape, Arena - What if?, Twilight Of The Gods - Destiny Forged in Blood, Madonna - Love Profusion songs.

I've spent 2 hours for listening iBasso DX50, DX90, Fiio X5, iHiFi 770, HM 901, Hidizs AP100, HM 601 LE. And I hear no difference between them and d2+. The all have sibilant where d2 has (even 601 with multibit DAC). And they all play very good. But I can't tell that, for example, HM901 sounds better than cheaper DX50 or even d2+. They all sound good, can't say anything like "it has more air", "this one has huge scene" and this - "articulated bass" like most audiophile and tech-review guys.

So, what am i doing wrong? Is my earphones not good enough to hear the difference? Well, i don't hear any difference with audio-technica m50/beyerdynamic dt990 pro/vsonic gr07mk2/sure e215 on d2+/fiio x3 (sold it because of lack of EQ) and asus assence stx also.

Maybe my ears not good enough? Or maybe players don't have so much difference as audiophiles told me? But it's easy to find comparison of players and review guy always hear the difference!

All this is a bit strange. Read reviews and articles - so much difference! Listen with your ears - no diff.

Maybe I should use some special songs to hear difference? But if i can't hear it with songs i love, it doesn't matter.


Edited by PDVJAM - 8/15/14 at 8:38am
post #2 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by PDVJAM View Post
 

 

.........Or maybe players don't have so much difference as audiophiles told me? But it's easy to find comparison of players and review guy always hear the difference!

 

How do you know said reviewers really do hear differences, you only have their word for it and their comparisons are often somewhat uncontrolled . For instance a reviewer might say "X is brighter than Y" but they last listened to Y 3 weeks ago which makes such comparisons unreliable. It is infrequent for two players to have the exact same volume at the same output setting or the same output impedance,  this means that to compare even only 2 sources you are battling with volume level differences which you have to adjust for before you can do sensible comparisons.

 

Most DAPs  are capable of reasonably flat FR and reasonably low distortion when not driven too hard into benign loads. Paradoxically the HM models you mention generally measure pretty badly e.g   HM601 but perhaps no badly enough to make a difference. You compared 7 players in 2 hours when you got to the 7th how certain are you you can accurately recall what the 1st sounded like ?


Edited by nick_charles - 8/15/14 at 8:52am
post #3 of 67

Two facts.  Reviewers suffer from hearing bias just like you and I do.  Reviewers are in the entertainment business.  I wouldn't have expected you to hear any differences.  Only an audiophile or a subjective reviewer would expect that.  Sounds to me like you have your hearing bias well under control.  That is a good thing and it will save you a lot of money.

post #4 of 67
Thread Starter 

Well, I could say that they all sounded similar, so even while I was listening, I could not say that DX50 has any difference with HM601...

post #5 of 67

have you ever heard a difference between anything else, at all?

post #6 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by PDVJAM View Post
 

Well, I could say that they all sounded similar, so even while I was listening, I could not say that DX50 has any difference with HM601...

 

Welcome to reality, please drive carefully !

post #7 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenni View Post
 

have you ever heard a difference between anything else, at all?

 

I'm now on the middle of bronze part of Philips Golden Ears test. So some difference I hear for sure:) Also, of course I hear the difference between headphones. But with sources - no.


Edited by PDVJAM - 8/15/14 at 10:56am
post #8 of 67
Transducers are always easier to hear differences in as they are orders of magnitude less linear and have much more variability and distortion than other components. Competent DACs should be flat and perceptually noiseless, amps are prone to more noise but many good SS amps are perceptually silent at normal listening levels, but compare the measurements of any two bookshelf speakers or headphones and they can be massively different.

Edited by nick_charles - 8/15/14 at 11:14am
post #9 of 67

Well , you are not doing anything wrong 

The best way to test the real differences between equipment is first to let your brain get accustomed to it then after a week try your old equipment , the discernible differences will only last around a minute tops ...then you brain gets back to work , the work is to get accustomed to the old stuff

Its quite hard and challenging but most of the time the differences in fact are minuscule , that's how I do it and it has worked but again to each his own. 

post #10 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrTechAgent View Post
 

Well , you are not doing anything wrong 

The best way to test the real differences between equipment is first to let your brain get accustomed to it then after a week try your old equipment , the discernible differences will only last around a minute tops ...then you brain gets back to work , the work is to get accustomed to the old stuff

Its quite hard and challenging but most of the time the differences in fact are minuscule , that's how I do it and it has worked but again to each his own. 

 

 

From what we know the very best way to have a chance of detecting differences between two signals is with as short a delay between the two as possible. Once you have a delay of more than a few seconds any differences that are not gross will be extremely difficult to detect. Many years back Tom Nousaine tested this by giving audiophiles a box to insert in their systems which may (or may not) add 3.5% distortion. Long term listeners could swap the box in and out as much as possible. These listeners scored exactly at chance it terms of correctly identifying whether the box had the extra distortion. Then he repeated the experiment, this time listeners simply had a switch which had two positions - one had the distortion one did not, with the rapid switching listeners did much better at detecting which setting had the added distortion.

post #11 of 67
A DAP has nothing to do with sibilance. Why even try to hear differences? IMO EQ is the best method to address the issue. Or else try different IEMs or getting your ear canals reshaped. The latter may have unpredictable side effects, though.
post #12 of 67
Thread Starter 

So I did basic, bronze and all tests in silver stage except Frequency Bands on Music in Philips Golden Ears test. Looks like I can hear differences:)

post #13 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by headdict View Post

A DAP has nothing to do with sibilance. Why even try to hear differences? IMO EQ is the best method to address the issue. Or else try different IEMs or getting your ear canals reshaped. The latter may have unpredictable side effects, though.

 

Well, the main question not about sibilance, but about - why on every forum/review you easily can read about differences between any DACs, some of them even like "heaven and earth", but in reality it's hard to say even about minor differences.

post #14 of 67
I believe Tyll from innerfidelity once said that in the beginning he didn't notice any difference either, it's something you have to learn by listening to many different amps/dacs etc. but I don't know wether this is right.
post #15 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by dead99 View Post

I believe Tyll from innerfidelity once said that in the beginning he didn't notice any difference either, it's something you have to learn by listening to many different amps/dacs etc. but I don't know wether this is right.


there is some truth to that as training helps you know what you're looking for. so instead of passive listening, you concentrate on some trebles and try to get if it sounds harsher or mushier than on another source or goes as high or rolls off... those are the kind of things you might miss if you don't go looking for them on purpose.

and to some extent our brain might actually be able to improve recognition with practice. I know it really works for visual cues(like fps players improving micro contrast differentiations after a few months of game) so maybe it also helps with audio? but that doesn't make us hear more, it's just a trick at the processing level of our brain.

and there is the problem, our brain is such a nice guy, when we look for something, it does anything to please us and find it. even when there is nothing to find. having heard more things with more experience, makes for more imagination about what could happen. I believe that's why we end up with funny stuff like the Harman test where the experienced reviewers had something like 20% less accuracy in blind tests compared to "vulgus amator".

 

@PDVJAM   audiophiles always exaggerate things even when they're real. the truth is that even crap nowadays sounds nice enough and the differences are small relatively to the quantity of sound.

if you really want to find out differences, get a switch. rapid switching is by far the very best way to perceive differences. if you go taking out your µSD from one DAP to another then boot and go pic a song, too much time passed for your memory of the first DAP to be very accurate.

anyway DACs should all sound the same as they are all able to output almost perfectly flat signature with very low distortion. so don't put too much faith into people who tell you otherwise. and when one does sound different, you can be pretty sure that it's not an improvement in audio fidelity.

amps are less good at it, some purposely go away from signal fidelity. there is the need to properly drive the headphone, and also impedance output can vary a lot. so a little more opportunities to get a different sound here by messing stuff up.

I have a few sources that I cannot tell apart in a fake blind test without much control(that's how I science), 2 of my daps do sound the same(with no effect ON) and my 2 usb dac/amps are pretty much impossible to tell apart(but I don't have super duper hard to drive headphone). everything else I can tell what is what. from some stingy trebles or some bad crosstalk(changing the positioning of instruments in space). because of some slight hissing, or simply with a difference in signature(real or because of impedance differences).  but I doubt I could always tell what is what with accuracy if I didn't have the others side by side and a switch. that's how small, differences usually are.

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