frontal sounds go up instead of further in front of me with headphones. why?
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castleofargh

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should I walk looking down when listening to music?

 
I don't know if this happens to many people(I do know I'm not alone), if it has to do with me or my gears, but if I take a voice and put it in mono, I never get it in front of me. instead the voice will be at an angle above me. with sounds "in your face", well that's where I get them and pretty much the only time when I get voices in front of me(more like in my brain or on my forehead), but sounds that are obviously intended to go further away right in front of me, well they climb up.

 
am I special?

 
stuff like the barber shop
I get everything at the back and sides just fine, and get goosebumps anytime something comes close to my ears(the guy made a mess of my hair though), but when he circles in front of me, I don't hear him walking in front of me, more like he's walking up up and down those stairs(the world is yours!!!)

 
I can get some small variations with different gears and headphone/IEMs that change the headstage more or less, but good gear, bad gear, bright stuff, warm stuff, the guy still walks up the stairs. playing with EQ I can change a lot of things, even more so when I start playing with different filters, phase stuff, and mid/side, but I can't seem to solve the issue. stuff in front are always up more or less, closer or further away, more or less focused, but always up. I play around using various settings of crossfeed, I even went and fooled around with crosstalk and phase a little wondering if that might be it. I can't seem to find one decisive cure.
I'm not saying that those stuff could not solve my "problem", just that what little I tried didn't do the trick.
 
so I was wondering if there was a "cure" obviously, but also how many other people get that feeling and maybe try to fnd out with them if we have a common factor?
 
 
weird hypothesis born from nothing:
 
at one point I wondered if maybe it had to do with the fact that I'm rather tall (thanks google 1.94 meters = 6.3648294 feet (6 feet 4⅜ inches)) and that people talking to me when they come close, in vast majority I have the voice going down below me as it comes closer. so I figured, maybe with voices in the headphone being close to me positioned in front, I would naturally move them up as they go further away. like it would happen in real life?
it's bat**** crazy, but here is one of those weird anecdotes that let me even consider such a far fetch idea. I use a laptop with a second screen on my left. often when it's only to look at stuff on youtube, I will output the sound through the laptop's own crappy tweeters. obviously when I looked at a video on the left screen and got sound coming from my right it felt really really weird to say the least. but time passed and now unless I close my eyes and concentrate, I could swear the sound is coming from the left screen ^_^. the marvels of the human brain.
so guys, do you have a known reason for my problem, or could it be some weird stuff my brain does for some reason unrelated to headphones?
 
 
 
thanks.
 
 
edit: short answer, HRTF.
 
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spruce music

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I have had exactly the same problem always.  No binaural really worked for me and also with regular music it was like I was listening in the balcony area having fallen asleep with my head down on the railing.  I am sure it has to do with the pinna shape.  Everyone who has had the chance says binaural takes a big step toward reality when the HRTF can be customized for your ear shape.  Things work fine to either side, but just like your picture of the steps as they moved to the middle.
 
Until several months ago that was.  I purchased some new headphones, Sony 7510 Pro Studio headphones.  I don't know if this is due to excellent design of the Sony or just a headphone cup that happens to match what I need.  I have listened to the virtual barber shop many times.  Now the imaging works just as you would expect.  I think the distance to the front is foreshortened, but it is in front of my face at the same level as he walks around which has never happened with any other phone I have used.  The clippers going around and over sound correctly placed as well.  These headphones also seem to lack a stridency many though not all headphones have caused me with extended listening.
 
 I have owned the old Koss ESP 9 electrostats, the early Stax Lamda electrostats, Stax Nova electrets, Beyer DT880, and of course several other phones including a couple of pretty good in ear models.  All exhibited the up-titled center problem.  The Labmda's probably had it less than anything else though it was still fairly pronounced.  These Sony 7510 phones image much closer to real than any of those for me.  They have a properly natural sound as well. Though some of the other models might be better at this or that facet of reproduction these are simply put on and enjoy music phones. I also find I can mix recordings with these better than other phones I have used (though mixing over monitor speakers is still the best way).
 
Now what causes height perception?  Comb filtering between direct sound to the ear canal and reflections off the outer ear.  Between 6 khz and about 11 khz your outer ear causes a notch in the frequency response.  That notch moves smoothly upward in frequency as the sound source moves higher.  By 11 khz the source is heard maybe 70 degrees above vertical.  Now how does that tie in with central sound images being upward, but not those to either side?  I don't know, but it is worth giving some thought to it.
 
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mindbomb

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invert the phase of just one channel and see if that helps
 
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castleofargh

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@spruce music it's not an expensive headphone so maybe I'll give it a try just for science (is it a comfy headphone? discomfort is a deal killer for me). I'm pretty confident that signature has the potential to solve this, but I have no idea how to go at it.  something to do with the shape of the outer ear and what it reflects depending on the vertical angle? it's not annoying for music as anyway soundstage doesn't really work on headphones, and panning if mostly artificial on records, so I don't feel the need for realistic stuff. but I'm really curious as to why mono stuff go up for my brain?
 
Quote:
  invert the phase of just one channel and see if that helps
eheh, it kind of works, I'm so mad at how screwed the sound is that I forget about the position of the front singer ^_^.
 
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spruce music

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  eheh, it kind of works, I'm so mad at how screwed the sound is that I forget about the position of the front singer ^_^.

Yes it is comfortable.  It is a circumaural closed back phone meant for monitoring.  It has 50 mm drivers and a generous ear cup.  The pads are comfortable and they have done a real nice job angling the ear cups to stay in place comfortably.  The drivers are also angled outward in the rear inside the ear cup by a small amount.
 
Of course it may be lucky happenstance on my ear shape and may not work at all for you.  Maybe you could find a way to try them out and return them if not happy or try them in person.
 
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castleofargh

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oh yeah I forgot to ask about headphones made for binaural recordings (stuff like er4b). thanks to the guy who just did some grave digging of posts. I don't have much headphones with strong trebles, so I can't really try to eq something into an er4B (well I can try with the HF5, I guess I'll try tonight, doesn't cost much to be curious).
I'm skeptical because if that was the answer, then everybody would have the rising effect like I do with most regular headphones right?
 
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mindbomb

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This overlaps with the mad lust envy gaming thread, since that thread is about using headphones with dolby headphone, a technology that uses binaural rendering to create front and back effects. So that thread has comments on binaural quality with different headphones. Imo, the best, within a reasonable budget, are the audio technica ad900x and akg k7xx. The sennheiser hd800 is very good if you want to go all out.
 
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Dare I quote literature:
 
"…there is also a vertical component experienced by some listeners—as interaural differences are minimized, the source can travel upward (von Békésy, 1960)."
 
this is from the chapter on the lateralization paradigm from Begault's 3D-Sound book. The reference given is:
von Békésy, G. (1960). Experiments in Hearing (E.G. Wever, Trans.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
 
So no, you're not abnormal, just French.
 
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spruce music

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  Dare I quote literature:
 
"…there is also a vertical component experienced by some listeners—as interaural differences are minimized, the source can travel upward (von Békésy, 1960)."
 
this is from the chapter on the lateralization paradigm from Begault's 3D-Sound book. The reference given is:
von Békésy, G. (1960). Experiments in Hearing (E.G. Wever, Trans.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
 
So no, you're not abnormal, just French.

Wish I could find more on the details of that.  I did find the 3D Begault book which is a worthwhile reference itself.
 
http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20010044352.pdf
 
The above bit was taken from page 35. 
 
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Wish I could find more on the details of that.  I did find the 3D Begault book which is a worthwhile reference itself.
 
http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20010044352.pdf
 
The above bit was taken from page 35. 
 
I have no idea if the Békésy reference discusses mechanisms either, or if it just noted the effect. My complete, utter, and probably worthless guess is that it has to do with adaptations for a ground-based species faced with a frontal sound that doesn't have a matching visual cue: the saber-toothed tiger must be above you if you hear it in front of you and you can't see it. Though I guess here there is also a front-back ambiguity. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
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  I have no idea if the Békésy reference discusses mechanisms either, or if it just noted the effect. My complete, utter, and probably worthless guess is that it has to do with adaptations for a ground-based species faced with a frontal sound that doesn't have a matching visual cue: the saber-toothed tiger must be above you if you hear it in front of you and you can't see it. Though I guess here there is also a front-back ambiguity. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
that's exactly what I used as an explanation for years, I don't see it so my brains decide it must be outside of my field of view.  but then why are speakers fine?
 
anyone knows what frequencies are the most obstructed by the face? I'm think if something is 45degres on my left, my right ear is partially blocked by my face thus different signature. but when right in front that one masking goes away and both ears can get the sound without the face blocking something. so there is a small area where I'm expecting to hear something that isn't simply the sound going more and more mono anymore. and because I don't get that difference my brain looks for the next best thing?
this would satisfy my own world, but then what about all of you guys who have no trouble hearing the singer right in front of you? it's what differs between us that intrigues me.
 
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Well, what's happening in this case, I think it's the impulse response of the headphones is such that there is the illusion of a reflection off the floor, which suggests the sound is coming from above you. Electrostatic headphones have the best impulse response, so perhaps the effect would be minimal there.
 
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I don't know if this happens to many people(I do know I'm not alone), if it has to do with me or my gears, but if I take a voice and put it in mono, I never get it in front of me. instead the voice will be at an angle above me. with sounds "in your face", well that's where I get them and pretty much the only time when I get voices in front of me(more like in my brain or on my forehead), but sounds that are obviously intended to go further away right in front of me, well they climb up.

 
am I special?

 
 
Sorry, no!

 
Many/most people hear that effect. Firstly, you are not really talking about mono, what you are actually talking about is a "phantom centre" within stereo. Stereo is an illusion, a clever illusion which takes advantage of how the brain processes the audio signals which arrive at both ears. This stereo illusion can be quite easily messed up though, that's why for example cinemas never have stereo sound systems, they always have a specific centre channel rather than trying to create a phantom centre. Headphones also defeat the stereo illusion to an extent. Hearing the phantom centre as being high up in your head is simply a consequence of your brain's perception, of how it calculates the position of sound sources, which tends to highlight that stereo is an imperfect illusion. Applying HRTFs can help to an extent but responses are variable from person to person and are only a step towards what might hopefully one day be a complete solution. While science is very good at understanding what hits our ears and how our ears respond to it, science is currently not so good at understanding how our brains manufacture a "perception" or therefore how to fool it.
 
G
 
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  that's exactly what I used as an explanation for years, I don't see it so my brains decide it must be outside of my field of view.  but then why are speakers fine?
 
anyone knows what frequencies are the most obstructed by the face? I'm think if something is 45degres on my left, my right ear is partially blocked by my face thus different signature. but when right in front that one masking goes away and both ears can get the sound without the face blocking something. so there is a small area where I'm expecting to hear something that isn't simply the sound going more and more mono anymore. and because I don't get that difference my brain looks for the next best thing?
this would satisfy my own world, but then what about all of you guys who have no trouble hearing the singer right in front of you? it's what differs between us that intrigues me.

From the same reference, head diffraction and reflection are mostly within 500-1600Hz.
 
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What happens when you change the headphones around so left is now on the right etc?
 
I do not hear him walk in front of me either and with headphones this is going to sound more in your head than in front of you because of how the headphone delivers the sound to your ears.
 
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