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MacacoDoSom

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Has anybody had this experience? let's say..  Two different but very good state of the art audio setups and rooms, I will call them Setup A and Setup B. Now In setup A some very good  recordings sound better/different in A than in B but others sound better in B than in A, The same happens with some bad recordings they sound bad in both but some better/different in A than in B and vice versa.
 
Its difficult to access the system's quality, for some recordings it seems that system A is better but for other recordings system B is better.
 
I have come across this with every listening room I have visited and I found very difficult to say which system is more transparent...translates better...
 
Any ideas on how to overcome this?
 
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ProtegeManiac

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Use an RTA - whichever produces the smoother graph* is more transparent.
 
 
 
*ie the straightest possible, with less and less severe variance from 1khz, not smooth syrupy ant-ridden audiophile honey-flavored snake oil
 
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castleofargh

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personally frequency response makes 90% of my preferences, so just how the guy EQed the album can make me prefer a different system because the system will not be dead flat but going closer to what I like.
 
outside of just plain old signature preference, the more resolving system will give us more goodness, and more of the problems too. making a super clean album sound marvelous, and a less than perfect album to sound harsh or clipped or whatever. when a more distorted system might just smooth out all that into some lush signal that was never in the album, while the great record might feel washed out a little.
 
I guess both in conjunction can explain what you talk about. I always have some 128kbps mp3 with dirty live records of punk music in my test files. they make everybody laugh, but they immediately show when a system is trying to get me with sub fidelity. if it's nice to listen to it, then it's not hifi ^_^. 
then comes the struggle, do I wish for hifi or do I wish to enjoy those poor recordings I always loved? always a hard choice for me and becoming an audiofool with slightly better gear certainly has "forced" me to slowly but surely change my music library with better recordings.
 
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MacacoDoSom

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  Use an RTA - whichever produces the smoother graph* is more transparent.
 
 
 
*ie the straightest possible, with less and less severe variance from 1khz, not smooth syrupy ant-ridden audiophile honey-flavored snake oil

That's a good idea but... its not practical to do...
 
When I try to listen to speakers I have 3 options,
1) Go to an 'audiophile' house and listen to is 'syrupy ant-ridden audiophile honey-flavored snake oil' and most of the time I don't like it much.
2) Go to a 'good' hi-fi store, and usually they have pretty decent rooms and a lot of snake oil to...
3) Go to a professional equipment / music store, but usually their rooms are less than ideal...
 
Even in the professional recording studios that I've been, each one has its own sound...
 
and I keep having this strange feeling of randomness in audio, I'm pretty happy with the system I own, some recordings sound great but some sound... not so great... and the strange thing is that same recordings sound (sometimes) the opposite in other systems...
 
Maybe the answer lies in the mastering/recording studio where they are made and there is no way around it...
 
What do you people think about it?
 
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jcx

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rooms and speakers have huge variations - speakers frequency response, directivity can be all over the place between different models, brands, philosophies
 
rooms, dimensions, adsorption/reflection, speaker placement, listening position dominates below a few 100 Hz for domestic "acoustically small" rooms
 
EQing "flat" at the listening position isn't a complete solution - it matters how much is direct vs reflected from room boundaries, what the delays are
 
even what is wanted isn't clear - some talk about a tradeoff between "imaging" and "spaciousness" - professional musicians have shown substantially different preference vs the general population on this dimension
 
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MacacoDoSom

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  personally frequency response makes 90% of my preferences, so just how the guy EQed the album can make me prefer a different system because the system will not be dead flat but going closer to what I like.
 
outside of just plain old signature preference, the more resolving system will give us more goodness, and more of the problems too. making a super clean album sound marvelous, and a less than perfect album to sound harsh or clipped or whatever. when a more distorted system might just smooth out all that into some lush signal that was never in the album, while the great record might feel washed out a little.
 
I guess both in conjunction can explain what you talk about. I always have some 128kbps mp3 with dirty live records of punk music in my test files. they make everybody laugh, but they immediately show when a system is trying to get me with sub fidelity. if it's nice to listen to it, then it's not hifi ^_^. 
then comes the struggle, do I wish for hifi or do I wish to enjoy those poor recordings I always loved? always a hard choice for me and becoming an audiofool with slightly better gear certainly has "forced" me to slowly but surely change my music library with better recordings.

Very good point...
 
I usually don't listen to (or have) punk recordings...  My problem is that I'm making my own recordings/mixing and I want them to translate well enough in other systems.
 
I only had a nice NAD amp with some B&W speakers and I liked it, now I have, for some time, a pair of pro bi-amplified near-fields and they are much more revealing of what you say, some things sound much worse (some old recording from the 70's, but not only) and some sound much better... but I had to chose them by what I've heard in the store with less than ideal conditions (noise, room sound), just by comparing with other models/brands...
 
When I'm talking about sounds better or worse its not related to over compression or taste decisions made by the mastering engineer/artist, I'm talking about the sound of the recording (may be the punk sound you talked about)
 
thanks...
 
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MacacoDoSom

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  rooms and speakers have huge variations - speakers frequency response, directivity can be all over the place between different modules, brands, philosophies
 
rooms, dimensions, adsorption/reflection, speaker placement, listening position dominates below a few 100 Hz for domestic "acoustically small" rooms
 
EQing "flat" at the listening position isn't a complete solution - it matters how much is direct vs reflected from room boundaries, what the delays are
 
even what is wanted isn't clear - some talk about a tradeoff between "imaging" and "spaciousness" - professional musicians have shown substantially different preference vs the general population on this dimension

what a mess... well at least I'm not the only one that feels the same,
...that's why sometimes I don't understand some endless discussions on DACs or amps, not to mention cables, to listen to, where? or what?...
The eternal search for the perfect space...
 
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ProtegeManiac

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacacoDoSom /img/forum/go_quote.gif

That's a good idea but... its not practical to do...
 
When I try to listen to speakers I have 3 options,
1) Go to an 'audiophile' house and listen to is 'syrupy ant-ridden audiophile honey-flavored snake oil' and most of the time I don't like it much.
2) Go to a 'good' hi-fi store, and usually they have pretty decent rooms and a lot of snake oil to...
3) Go to a professional equipment / music store, but usually their rooms are less than ideal...
 
Even in the professional recording studios that I've been, each one has its own sound...
 
When I said "use an RTA" on the (two) systems in the first post to determine which one is more neutral, it does not exclude asking for a home audition so you can measure both speakers in your own room. I simply phrased a short response to directly answer the initial question, without explicitly stating but again without excluding the possibility of your doing so to guide your purchase decision and using the components in your own room. What most people do especially if they're looking at really expensive stuff anyway is to audition several speakers at home, all that's different from what most do is that you also use an RTA (some actually use it). In any case you can still use an RTA on all those three in the quoted section and while the pro studio has its own sound, the only way to objectively confirm what the variance from a flat response is on all of them is to measure it.
 
In other applications like car audio we use RTAs not really to decide on what to buy, but to fine tune what we already bought and installed. Or in some cases instead of just relying on how our ears perceive the vocals to be close to centered as per tweeter and midwoofer angles prior to time alignment tuning we use the RTA to check for spikes (or dips). Auto-EQ and Auto-T/A on newer processors however take the added work out of using a USB mic and a laptop (short-lived era actually) in favor of integrating the measuring equipment into the processor including the microadjustments: the automated EQ on my Alpine uses an Audyssey-based system (an active set-up version of what you can find on Denon receivers) and 500pts of EQ adjustments, way more than on manual mode, but of course there's a USB connection that lets you control the processor more conveniently with a laptop (as opposed to Alpine selling a control faceplate as on the high-end processor) for manual inputs. Basically, it's not surprising that, when tuned to have as flat a response as possible, two different cars with different speakers can sound very similar.
 
Back to home audio: since you likely won't be using a processor to correct the response, then you're back to just choosing whichever system has the smoothest, straightest possible response with less and less severe variances from 1khz.
 
 
 
and I keep having this strange feeling of randomness in audio, I'm pretty happy with the system I own, some recordings sound great but some sound... not so great... and the strange thing is that same recordings sound (sometimes) the opposite in other systems...
 
Maybe the answer lies in the mastering/recording studio where they are made and there is no way around it...
 
What do you people think about it?
 
When engineers build a recording studio they try to minimize those issues by measuring the in-room response of whatever montiors they're using. Not all rooms and speakers sound identical, true, but a competent engineer will at least make sure that whatever system he's using should be as flat as possible using - surprise! - an RTA of some sort. Between albums mastered in such set-ups the playback equipment (including the rooms they're in) will have far more variances that affect the playback quality.
 
One factor though are the people involved in the production. The recording engineers as part of their professional responsibility should make sure their ears are healthy, but AFAIK it's not as enforced as, say, racing driver licenses or condom use in porno (I won't be surprised if certain studios like Telarc would check for that in the annual physicals a much as porn outfits check for HIV). Apart from that note that even with a generally flat response in the mastering system some preferences do come into play, especially by the artists', when setting the gain on the instruments and that can affect the final mix (as well as potentially highlighted or exacerbated by the playback system's response). 
 
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castleofargh

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  Very good point...
 
I usually don't listen to (or have) punk recordings...  My problem is that I'm making my own recordings/mixing and I want them to translate well enough in other systems.
 
I only had a nice NAD amp with some B&W speakers and I liked it, now I have, for some time, a pair of pro bi-amplified near-fields and they are much more revealing of what you say, some things sound much worse (some old recording from the 70's, but not only) and some sound much better... but I had to chose them by what I've heard in the store with less than ideal conditions (noise, room sound), just by comparing with other models/brands...
 
When I'm talking about sounds better or worse its not related to over compression or taste decisions made by the mastering engineer/artist, I'm talking about the sound of the recording (may be the punk sound you talked about)
 
thanks...
I know nothing of creating records, but certainly the sean olive post is right on target. I struggled a lot about that with photography, where a good deal of the post prod was strongly influenced by the support the picture would end up on. the nightmare of course being to put something online as almost nobody has a calibrated screen, different web browsers have different color profiles, and android until recently didn't have a color profile at all. I really can see how audio is the same kind of mess.
work for the pros, or work for the average consumer?  sadly not at all the same thing. I guess you would need one pair of studio monitors, and one pair of random crap, and maybe the same kind of option for the amp to try and hear how it goes under different configurations. or maybe some sound simulation software with different "rooms"? but I don't know much about those.
 
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jcx

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1 kHz is just a common frequency to use as a reference when comparing frequency responses - I believe Tyll is now using 500 Hz for his InnerFidelity headphone plots
 
with modern software you could do more complicated weighted averaging to decide how to overlay multiple frequency response plots for "fair" comparison - but you'd have to pick, justify the weighting function
 
 
 
the Smyth SVSW Realizer could be cheaper than multiple rooms and speaker setups - you can "collect" them for any system you can get ~1/2 hr access to for a personal calibration http://www.smyth-research.com/technology.html
 
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MacacoDoSom

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  1 kHz is just a common frequency to use as a reference when comparing frequency responses - I believe Tyll is now using 500 Hz for his InnerFidelity headphone plots
 
with modern software you could do more complicated weighted averaging to decide how to overlay multiple frequency response plots for "fair" comparison - but you'd have to pick, justify the weighting function
 
 
 
the Smyth SVSW Realizer could be cheaper than multiple rooms and speaker setups - you can "collect" them for any system you can get ~1/2 hr access to for a personal calibration http://www.smyth-research.com/technology.html

I have been using REW with sweeps and pink noise, never herd about a common frequency... how does it work?
That software seems to work only with headphones...
 
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I have been using REW with sweeps and pink noise, never herd about a common frequency... how does it work?
 
 
Meaning you match the FR plots at 1kHz as 0dB, and reference your other magnitudes from there.
  That software seems to work only with headphones...
 
He means that for the cost of actually getting a room and speakers fixed up, you could instead buy a Smyth and use it to emulate, via headphones, any particular listening room + speaker setup you happen to like, as long as you can get enough time in the room to get a measurement.
 
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