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harmon kardon and diffuse field curves and video games

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by FireDragon76, Nov 10, 2017.
  1. FireDragon76
    I've been doing alot of reading and youtube surfing and became aware that alot of headphones have elevated bass and treble relative to the midrange, the theory being that this will sound more like a loudspeaker listening experience in a typical room.

    However, it seems to me this could be problematic in computer/video games: it could lead to too much bass relative to the environment the player is in. It might lead to a less immersive soundfield, in fact. Sort of what you get with Dolby Headphone. Dolby Headphone sounds more like you are listening to a virtual loudspeaker setup, and the soundstage is not as realistic for games as compared to other implementations such as Creative CMSS/Pro Studio or Razer's headphone spatializer. This is particularly noticeable in any kind of game where locating the direction of particular sounds is important (Thief: the Dark Project is a good example of this, but it could apply to almost any games as well, where audio is important).

    Perhaps this is why I have tended to prefer cheaper, non-hi-fi headphones for gaming, or to choose headphones with less bass. I've never felt a bass emphasis is particularly realistic for gaming. Perhaps some of these issues, like trying to make a "realistic" sound in headphones, would be better solved through DSP's rather than acoustic engineering?
  2. castleofargh Contributor
    gaming and realistic can be little problematic. some games even to this day rely on very basic positioning simulation and some crappy doppler effect to make movements of the sound source "realistic". obviously headphones can improve with stuff made specifically for them, and having the right frequency response for your own body is also part of the trick for good cues. but that means some degree of customization instead of relying on 3D standards and praying that our body is close to that average.

    about bass, low frequencies are clearly harder to pinpoint and the high frequencies on the other hand are easy to pinpoint. so if what you want is clean direction, the low freqs are not very helpful that is true. they can even mask the frequencies just above if really loud, plus in games, explosions are annoying when we're serious about the "mission". on the other hand when it's about enjoying the cool effects and ambiance, some massive rumble can really feel cool IMO. PGM vs casual I guess ^_^. in a few games I would actually see filtering out the low freqs as cheating.

    and about Harman's frequency response for headphones, an important notion is that it's a preference curve. not some HRTF model. people just seem to like music more with that curve or something close to it.
  3. amirm
    A nit: the research is out of "Harman." Harman Kardon is their low-end mass market audio division which has nothing to do with this research. And it is Harman with an "a" not "o." :)
  4. FireDragon76
    PC gaming audio seems a bit hit or miss in terms of how well HRTF's work, especially because a sound engine developer has to write code for a headphone that has no standard frequency response.

    The best PC gaming audio I have experienced was with Sensaura's audio. Unfortunately they were bought by Creative, and they only partly implemented their technology. Sensaura's customized HRTF's worked extremely well at the time in games. I could see a customizable sound engine as being one way to deal with headphones with different response curves.

    I always try to EQ my headphones in PC gaming so I get a relatively flat response, that seems to help the positional audio the most. Usually I just use a 12-band equalizer. I'm sure I could get better results with a parametric equalizer, but I have no experience on using those.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  5. SilverEars
    Something I noticed with speakers vs headphones for tv, movie, and video game purposes is that the sound seems muffled with the vocals, and the ambiance effects sound closed, not open like speakers, and in general, speakers sound more natural. For music it's different for me.

    So, I prefer speakers for movies, etc.. For music, I do like to use headphones.

    I was actually looking for headphones for movie watching for isolation from ambient noise, but the unnaturalness of the sound has me use speakers instead. If there is a good headphone for movie watching that gets very close to speakers, I'd like to know.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  6. bigshot
    It's possible to trick out a speaker system to sound as good with music as it does with movies, but most 5.1 systems are set up for home theater use. Once you hear music on a well implemented multichannel speaker system, you can put your headphones in a drawer from then on. (That's what I did!)

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