Headphones vs Speakers -- an Inconvenient Truth
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gregorio

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  [1] What it does is to remove a layer of a type of distortion that causes us to know we are listening to speakers, not real music. Its a step closer to reality. 
 
[2] Sometimes I wish I could drag some of the audio experts into my messy room and have them take a seat to listen to hear what they have been missing. 
 
Some of the statements I see posted on head-fi are just mind boggling! It's just marketing nonsense repeated as gospel.
 
1. No, it does NOT remove a layer or type of distortion! What it does is add bass and treble, remove some low mids and play with the phase of the signal. It's entirely possible that an individual listener might like (or dislike) this effect but regardless, it's not removing any distortion and it's NOT more accurate or a step closer to reality. This and similar Sonic Maximiser  units used to be applied to mixes moderately commonly 20+ years ago, to recreate the sheen and bass often lost with analogue mixing and distribution. As digital mixing has taken over, with it's very accurate phase and frequency response, the need and use of Sonic Maximisers has gradually died out. This is presumably why BBE is finally discontinuing it.
 
2. I have heard the Sonic Maximiser many times and unfortunately you have it completely backwards, as it's what you are missing (low mids/high bass). I am not disputing that with your speakers, in your room and with your preferences, you do indeed find what you are missing to sound better. For everyone else out there though, this is NOT a magic box which will suddenly make your music collection sound more real, it's just a straight forward old analogue effects unit that distorts the sound and which you might or might not find likeable.
 
G
 
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5genez

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  Quote:
 
Some of the statements I see posted on head-fi are just mind boggling! It's just marketing nonsense repeated as gospel.
 
1. No, it does NOT remove a layer or type of distortion! What it does is add bass and treble, remove some low mids and play with the phase of the signal. It's entirely possible that an individual listener might like (or dislike) this effect but regardless, it's not removing any distortion and it's NOT more accurate or a step closer to reality. This and similar Sonic Maximiser  units used to be applied to mixes moderately commonly 20+ years ago, to recreate the sheen and bass often lost with analogue mixing and distribution. As digital mixing has taken over, with it's very accurate phase and frequency response, the need and use of Sonic Maximisers has gradually died out. This is presumably why BBE is finally discontinuing it.
 
2. I have heard the Sonic Maximiser many times and unfortunately you have it completely backwards, as it's what you are missing (low mids/high bass). I am not disputing that with your speakers, in your room and with your preferences, you do indeed find what you are missing to sound better. For everyone else out there though, this is NOT a magic box which will suddenly make your music collection sound more real, it's just a straight forward old analogue effects unit that distorts the sound and which you might or might not find likeable.
 
G
 
It remove "a" distortion.... and as a result,  more typical audio distortions can be heard as a result.  Why?   Typical speakers mask what the BBE allows you to hear.  It places you on a new playing field. One that requires you either improve what you have and learn better ways to use it. Or, go back to hearing audio sounding less like real live music.  That's the problem that some have, and wish not to use it.  That's fine, if you wish.
 
Its not simply a bass boost.   You will  never hear a tone control, nor typical EQ that can achieve what is done to the bass.
 
In one of my correspondences with BBE I was told what is going on there.  I will quote why it is unlike bass boosters nor typical tone controls.  I have used both in the past  (bass boost and tone controls) and they only produce a boom box effect.  
 
The BBE creates a deep, clear bass sound.  Its the best way I can describe it.  Its not muddy, it makes the bass sound real.  Bass drums punch through like real life.  It all depends upon your system's capacity.  But, those who have not heard it operate as it can sound jump to conclusions.  Sadly.,  to lose out.
 
Only the desk top version (at present) has been discontinued. All the other models still flourish. The desk top versions tend to go through model changes after so many years.   I have about the fourth, and fifth generations of the desk top model.
 
I now use full range speakers so I no longer need to use the Process function for the mid range and high end.  But, its so much better than a subwoofer for keeping your nearfield experience cohesive. In regards to using it for bottom end on smaller speakers?  This is what I was told by BBE support.
 
 
Quote:
 
   "Yes, the Lo Contour control boosts the 50Hz area in a linear fashion up to 145Hz and the Process control. 
    Unlike other tone control or graphic equalizer’s simple boost, the Process control can provide greater clarity
    with less boost."
 
 
 
There is a big difference.  The bass also goes through what is called "dynamic EQ."  It moves with the music. Typical tone controls and EQ's are not dynamic.
 
I am no fan of Bose 901's.   But,  by substituting a BBE in place of the Bose equalizer some who have done it, and said its to improve those speakers very much.  EQ is dull in comparison.
 
But, be that as it may.  I hope your opinion is not based upon hearsay, but is based upon you taking the time to find out first hand. For, I have seen many improvements rejected based upon subjective speculation of individuals unwilling to try a product. 
 
I would not have my Pangea power cords if I had listened to their nay saying.  And, I would not have found out how much better they sound over the typical stock cords.
 
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jibzilla

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heck not only japanese speakers...but their amps, too...
 my bud loved his shindo hand made preamp and tube amp...each at about US$15k.
http://www.shindo-laboratory.co.jp/
 
i'm coming around to enjoying the live sound from speakers
(currently Focal Alpha 50s...but they don't take a sub, despite have good bass))
such that i'm considering moving up to the mord $$$ CMS series...or Genelecs for my desktop rig
(but ***: their subs alone are $2-3K...ouch!)...and even prefer sometimes my iems over my headphones
(FLC 8S and incoming Aurisonics 1-plus)....but that said I might spring for a pair of Sony Z1R cans for a deal.
with good speakers, there is just something about that live 3D sound...but I also love the resolution
and detail I get from my cans and iems without having to spend $$$$ on a speaker system
(and then have to deal with room treatment, bass traps, etc etc for the best sound)
 
so i'm messed up, not totally happy in either camp (for now)...anyone else in the same boat?
 
I ended up getting Sony APM 4's and WOW. I know it is new toy syndrome and all but WOW. Lets just say my amazing experience with vintage japan TT's continues. The Adam's were great for what they were but they are getting dramatically not subtly beaten right now.
 
Could very well be the amplifier but I have recently gone back to the Ravenswood so it is getting the same preamp as the Adams and I decided I am keeping the Ravenswood. I have read that Inspire owners and Denis himself have said you really need to pair the pre (lp27a) and power amp (fire bottle SE) together but I have found the Ravenswood pre to be pretty awesome in its own right.
 
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gregorio

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  [1] It remove "a" distortion....
[2] Typical speakers mask what the BBE allows you to hear. 
[3] It places you on a new playing field. One that requires you either improve what you have and learn better ways to use it. Or, go back to hearing audio sounding less like real live music.  That's the problem that some have, and wish not to use it.  That's fine, if you wish.
[4] Its not simply a bass boost.
[5] You will never hear a tone control, nor typical EQ that can achieve what is done to the bass. 
[6] I now use full range speakers so I no longer need to use the Process function for the mid range and high end. But, its so much better than a subwoofer for keeping your nearfield experience cohesive.
[7] The bass also goes through what is called "dynamic EQ."  It moves with the music. Typical tone controls and EQ's are not dynamic.
[8] I hope your opinion is not based upon hearsay, but is based upon you taking the time to find out first hand.
[9] For, I have seen many improvements rejected based upon subjective speculation of individuals unwilling to try a product.
 
I'm not sure where to start with your response. It seems like:
A. You didn't even read my post before responding,
B. You are making/repeating incorrect factual statements and just making-up some magical properties to explain your personal opinions/observations and
C. You are continually trying to foist your personal subjective opinions on everyone else. You can't keep casting aspersions or using veiled insults against anyone who doesn't agree with you because they have different systems, listening environments or preferences!
 
1. This is an example of A and B. It does NOT remove distortions, it does not even attempt to identify distortion, let alone remove it!
2. Another example of A and B. There is no speaker masking and the BBE does NOT magically remove it. The BBE just boosts bass and treble, so what it "allows you to hear" is more bass and treble!
3. An example of C. It does NOT make music sound more live, although it may appear that way to you on your system, with your preferences. You CANNOT therefore use veiled insults about the "problem that some have". If anything, the "problem" is yours! Probably a poor system, system setup and/or poor listening environment, which just happens to be improved by boosting the bass and treble.
4. An example of A and B again. Firstly, if you'd read my post, you'd have seen that I did not say it was only a bass booster! Secondly, you even posted a quote from BBE themselves who stated that it does in fact "boosts the 50Hz area in a linear fashion up to 145Hz".
5. An example of C. You may not have heard EQ's or tone controls which can achieve what you are hearing with your system but you CANNOT tell me or anyone else what I will never hear!
6. B again: You are almost certainly not using "full range speakers", which by the professional definition of "full range" would need to be capable of a reasonably linear response from about 20Hz up to about 20kHz. Secondly, there are no full range speakers I'm aware of which are designed to be used "nearfield". And lastly, why would full range speakers make any difference to the mid and high end? A good set of bookshelf or nearfield monitors should have a good mid and high end, it's the low end where they roll-off early and are not therefore "full range".
7. B and C: Firstly, if it is a dynamic EQ which "moves with the music", then it is not linear as stated in the quote from BBE! Secondly, in pretty much all popular music genres some form of dynamic EQ (or Sonic Maximiser type effect) has probably already been applied to the bass (and other) freqs by the mix and/or mastering engineers! Maybe your system/environment has a particularly weak bass response or maybe you just like even more/over processed bass freqs, which subjectively sounds more natural/live to you?
8. A again. Why do you need to "hope" that, didn't you read my post?
9. That's a strange observation, I've fairly rarely seen that. I have however seen many occasions where a claimed improvement can be rejected based upon objective fact and therefore a listening test may not be necessary. Again though, none of this is applicable in this case as I've heard the Sonic Maximiser many times, I also quite commonly use different types of dynamic EQ, Aural Exciters and other tools which can achieve the same results but are more flexible.
 
G
 
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In favour of headphones:
 
1. perfect positioning around listener
This won't work on speakers as it should:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUDTlvagjJA
Competitive gaming is one more thing speakers can't
 
2. Most headphones are single band while speakers need 2 or more with a crossover. This does not contribute to spectre continuity.
 
3. Sub-bass may only be achieved with a speaker of 15 inch in diameter or more while with headphones it is not a problem.
 
4. Treble direction is often too narrow so that you only have one position where treble sounds best.
 
 
In favour of speakers:
 
1. No stuff stuffed into or stacked onto your head.
 
2. Feel sound with your body.
 
3. Don't need a unit per person.
 
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5genez

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In the mean time... I am hearing things you can not.  So? Where can I begin?    You must take the suggestion I offered if you wish to refute my claims. If you don't?   What are you basing your responses upon?  What?
 
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I LOVE my headphones (Abyss AB-1266, Utopia -- used to have the LCD-4 and HE-1000)
but my Martin Logans hold their own very well.
 
If I need to listen quietly, I reach for my headphones.
If I play games I go for the headphones.
If I want poor recordings to sound a bit better, headphones.
If I want more intricate detail and analytics in some areas, headphones.
 
If I want to tear up sometimes, speakers.
If I want to feel the music, speakers.
If I want to feel like I was at a live performance, speakers.
If I want real sub bass, speakers.
 
Honestly, if I had a slightly better room for it, and better living circumstances I would only ever listen to my Martin Logans.
I don't, and will not for a long time, which means my headphone stand their ground proudly.
 
Hell, to be honest, it amazes me how well my headphones hold up compared to my speakers.
 
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exsomnis

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  In the mean time... I am hearing things you can not.  So? Where can I begin?    You must take the suggestion I offered if you wish to refute my claims. If you don't?   What are you basing your responses upon?  What?
 
There are going to be people who don't mind tweaking and twiddling around with their sound until they get the sound that they feel like they want to hear. These are people like yourself, who will intentionally use equalizers, DSPs, tube stages and various other methods to achieve it.
 
And then there will be others who believe that the integrity of the sound source should be preserved from sound source to sound reproduction - where all parts of the signal chain should maintain the highest fidelity in maintaining that integrity without altering, enhancing or detracting from the sound in any way. In our case, if the amplifier or DAC or speakers or headphones are limited in any way, we swap them out.
 
There is also the fact that not all recordings are created equal - there are excellent, audiophile grade recordings that sound amazing on decent enough hardware but the genre has no appeal. On the other hand, the music that you love might not be recorded with high fidelity in mind. No system will play all audio sources excellently and in fact, the best systems will expose bad recordings for what they are.
 
If you feel that you have to enhance the sound of recordings that you like, then fair play to you. Just don't try to convince other people that you have a magic solution that will make all music recordings sound fantastic. There is no such thing. 
 
I am personally getting fantastic results with my Harbeth P3ESR2, an Audio-gd DAC-19 and an Onkyo A-9010 integrated amplifier. No equalizer, no DSP, nothing modifying the sound signal in anyway. On the right recordings, the vocalist is singing right in front of me, in my living room. Trumpets are palpable and their transients naturally decay into the air. Pianos are liquid, as they sound like in real life. Drums sound like they're being drummed right there. I'm in the club or recording studio or the concert hall with the musicians. I close my eyes and I can see the individual performers in my mind because even with my eyes open, the sound doesn't seem to be coming out of the speakers only. It is, instead, as they like to say, a wall of sound.
 
That is something I've been looking for for quite some time and I've found it. I just needed the right speakers and good speaker placement.
 
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gregorio

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  [1] I am hearing things you can not.  [2]  You must take the suggestion I offered if you wish to refute my claims. If you don't? [3]  What are you basing your responses upon?  What?
 
1. You have absolutely no idea what audio experience I have, you know nothing about my hearing acuity/training and nothing about my equipment/listening environment. Your statement is therefore ridiculous, as you have absolutely no idea what I can or cannot hear! It's most likely that the exact opposite of your statement is true, that I can hear things which you cannot.
2. What suggestion, that I come to your "messy room" and listen to your setup? If so, then yet again you are not reading the posts to which your are responding!! I have NOT refuted your claim of what you are hearing (or believe you are hearing) in your room or your subjective opinion of it. I am refuting your claim of: A. What the Sonic Maximiser is actually doing to the signal going to your speakers and B. That your room/setup, personal preferences and subjective opinion would apply to everyone else!
3. I've very clearly stated (twice now!) that I've heard the Sonic Maximiser on many occasions. I've also stated that I've personally used the Sonic Maximiser and commonly use other (more flexible) tools which can achieve the same effect. This is what I'm basing my responses on, have I not made that clear?!
 
I could go into more detail about my experience but that wouldn't in any way help your argument and besides, this discussion is getting silly because you are not reading (or not understanding) the posts to which you are responding and are making ever more ridiculous statements.
 
G
 
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5genez

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. 2. What suggestion, that I come to your "messy room" and listen to your setup? If so, then yet again you are not reading the posts to which your are responding!! I have NOT refuted your claim of what you are hearing (or believe you are hearing) in your room or your subjective opinion of it. I am refuting your claim of: A. What the Sonic Maximiser is actually doing to the signal going to your speakers and B. That your room/setup, personal preferences and subjective opinion would apply to everyone else!
3. I've very clearly stated (twice now!) that I've heard the Sonic Maximiser on many occasions. I've also stated that I've personally used the Sonic Maximiser and commonly use other (more flexible) tools which can achieve the same effect. This is what I'm basing my responses on, have I not made that clear?!
 
I could go into more detail about my experience but that wouldn't in any way help your argument and besides, this discussion is getting silly because you are not reading (or not understanding) the posts to which you are responding and are making ever more ridiculous statements.
 
G
Why have you heard it so much if its no good?   Its an honest question.  There are things to learn about its use.  That's why I am here.  Unless its set up correctly you will miss its benefits that can be realized.    Its seems you are not positive towards the BBE.   Am I reading that part wrong? I would have to know what were your experiences to validate them.   I have been using a Maximizer in its various version since the 80's .... apparently I have been using it correctly.  People have commented on what they heard.  One audiophile was astonished.  Another person was amazed at how good a soundtrack on a game even sounded. 
 
What are you trying to establish about the BBE?  It seems I can not read you correctly.  Maybe you should try a more direct approach?
 
 
   
1. You have absolutely no idea what audio experience I have, you know nothing about my hearing acuity/training and nothing about my equipment/listening environment. Your statement is therefore ridiculous, as you have absolutely no idea what I can or cannot hear! It's most likely that the exact opposite of your statement is true, that I can hear things which you cannot.
You're assuming mine.....   Aren't you?    So, where are we?
 
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You made your point now can you please let this go. I am so sick of hearing about equalizer's. The hd800 thread is now the Sonar works 3 thread thanks to this garbage.
 
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There are going to be people who don't mind tweaking and twiddling around with their sound until they get the sound that they feel like they want to hear. These are people like yourself, who will intentionally use equalizers, DSPs, tube stages and various other methods to achieve it.
 
And then there will be others who believe that the integrity of the sound source should be preserved from sound source to sound reproduction - where all parts of the signal chain should maintain the highest fidelity in maintaining that integrity without altering, enhancing or detracting from the sound in any way. In our case, if the amplifier or DAC or speakers or headphones are limited in any way, we swap them out.
 
 I have sold audio (hi end).....  The subjective integrity of the sound is designed into each speaker.   No two speakers sound alike. No two amps.   No two DACs. No two TT's.  No two headphones even...
 
 There is no true integrity to be found.  Just different effects on the play back. Some designs eliminate distortions that others ignore.  Just using different speaker cables will alter the "integrity."  Using different phone cables can greatly effect what we hear. The key is.... to find something that most achieves what hearing live music produces in your soul. 
 
How it makes you feel when music is good.  If anyone thinks there is an Absolute Sound to be gotten?   um umm... its not there. With the BBE some will just love how it makes their particular system to sound. If they listen to those who did not like how it made their particular system sound,  they will miss out.     And,  the ones who did not like it?   With a few tips may have learned why it was not working for them...
 
Open minds. Closed minds.    Where do we go in this world?
 
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   I have sold audio (hi end).....
 
And still are by all appearances, which explains a great deal! I've already answered your questions in previous posts, so we'd just be going round in circles and I agree with the previous poster, enough off topic marketing of an 1980's effects unit.
 
G
 
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And still are by all appearances, which explains a great deal! I've already answered your questions in previous posts, so we'd just be going round in circles and I agree with the previous poster, enough off topic marketing of an 1980's effects unit.
 
G

Its been through various generations of improvements since then. Interesting point... My refurbished Mac 275, made in the 60's?   You would have liked very much to have now.

 
The BBE contains a proprietary chip manufactured by the same Japanese company that brought us their excellent audiophile Muses chips. 
 
I placed a Muses 01 into my NuForce HAP-100. Until I may have different input, or output needs?  Its a keeper.
 
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gregorio

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Originally Posted by 5genez /img/forum/go_quote.gif
 
Interesting point...
 
No, none of that was the least bit interesting, it wasn't even on topic. Again, enough of the off topic marketing!!!
 
G
 
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