How to define DETAIL
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lojay

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What is DETAIL?
For my current system, I bought an E-MU 1212m soundcard and borrowed a Grado SR 225, connected ampless with cheapest interconnects you can imagine. Anyways, I've heard that both my source and my phones are great in detail, but what should I look for as detail? WHAT IS detail? I mean, is detail same as clarity? Is detail an equivilent term to how "real" instruments sound? Or is detail, just how many sounds I can hear in one moment?

The last definition I gave is perplexing to me especially. You just couldn't hear more "sounds" or instruments played from my SR225 than my cheap Sony ear buds right?
 
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aerius

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Detail's kinda hard to explain so I'll use an example from my personal experience. Take a well recorded solo violin track. In real life, or on a very detailed system, you will hear all the sounds coming from the violin. You'll hear the scrape of the bow against the strings, the various resonances from the body of the violin, you hear the sounds of the wood, the strings, everything. You can tell if the player's bow is moving up or down and how hard & fast the bow is moving, you'll hear the little slips & squeaks which sometimes happen as the player moves the bow from string to string.

Now, lets start at the bottom end, on a not so detailed system. You'll be able to tell that the instrument is a violin, and you can tell which notes are being played but that's about it. You don't get the scraping sound of the bow against the strings, you don't get the sound from the body of the violin, you just hear violin notes.

With a more detailed system you start hearing a few more things. You start hearing the resonances and sounds from the violin's body, and you can hear a bit of the sound of the bow against the strings.

Go up another level and things start coming together, you now hear the full sound from the violin's body and you start picking up on the things I mentioned in the first paragraph. With the best that money can buy you will clearly hear everything I mentioned in the first paragraph, that to me is detail.
 
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gpalmer

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Aerius's explanation is pretty much dead on the mark but there is one thing I want to add and one caution I want to throw in to the mix.

What I would like to add is that detail can also b evidenced in the separation between instruments. As an example let's assume that we are playing back a violin and piano piece where both instruments are playing simultaneously. With a poorly detailed system one instrument may disappear when the other instrument is louder whereas with a more detailed system you could still hear both instruments in the background. This also goes under the headings of both separation and resolution. This concept can be extended to include a whole orchestra. This seems to me to be a separate dimension from what aerius describes since I have heard systems that could pass one of these tests but not the other.

The thing I wanted to caution you about is that it is also possible to hype detail by accenuating upper frequencies. This is pretty typical in low end systems since it's cheaper to emphasize the upper frequencies than it is to use good parts and design and cheap parts will tend to be evidenced by a brighter sound. In this case you will hear the bow and finger noise more just because the frequencies they are at tend to be higher in frequency.
 
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Permonic

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Quote:

Originally Posted by gpalmer
What I would like to add is that detail can also b evidenced in the separation between instruments. As an example let's assume that we are playing back a violin and piano piece where both instruments are playing simultaneously. With a poorly detailed system one instrument may disappear when the other instrument is louder whereas with a more detailed system you could still hear both instruments in the background. This also goes under the headings of both separation and resolution. This concept can be extended to include a whole orchestra. This seems to me to be a separate dimension from what aerius describes since I have heard systems that could pass one of these tests but not the other.


Gpalmer, I'm curious, isn't that called resolution (aka definiton)?
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Permonic
Gpalmer, I'm curious, isn't that called resolution (aka definiton)?


I think I said that, in the text you quoted even!

Quote:

Originally Posted by gpalmer
This also goes under the headings of both separation and resolution.


But seriously, all screwing around aside, I think the concepts are related and overlap pretty significantly. I would tend to use the tag resolution if I were discussing the ability of an amplifer to differentiate numerous instruments at the same time and detail more for a single instrument or musical event but I don't really see that they are exclusive of each other nor would I find it unusual for someone to interchange the terms. As far as definition I would tend to use that more for a range of frequencies, as in "the bass of the amplifer exhibited excellent definition," more than to describe the performance with a particular instrument(s).
 
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As I understand it, audiophile "detail" is the attention that speakers/headphones/whatever can pay to everything that may be happening simultaneously in a recording, and their subsequent ability to reproduce these simultaneous sounds.

-Jesse
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by gpalmer
I think I said that, in the text you quoted even!

But seriously, all screwing around aside, I think the concepts are related and overlap pretty significantly. I would tend to use the tag resolution if I were discussing the ability of an amplifer to differentiate numerous instruments at the same time and detail more for a single instrument or musical event but I don't really see that they are exclusive of each other nor would I find it unusual for someone to interchange the terms. As far as definition I would tend to use that more for a range of frequencies, as in "the bass of the amplifer exhibited excellent definition," more than to describe the performance with a particular instrument(s).



Agrrr, sorry, my bad....I should read it slowly.
 
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More detailed means getting more of the sonic info off a disc and to your ears. Nothing more, nothing less. When you hear room ambience, echos and clues, slight sounds missed with other gear, the pluck of the guitar strings, slide of the sticks on a drum, nuances of a person's voice, and other things that are in the recording, but not heard, that is when something is more detailed.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by ServinginEcuador
More detailed means getting more of the sonic info off a disc and to your ears. Nothing more, nothing less.


A wonderful way to phrase it, very clear and succinct!
 
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lojay

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Well, I did some comparisons with other sources yesterday, and definetly (for me) detail is easier to see in comparison, i.e. isn't as absolute as I thought. The examples you guys made are great ways to track the detail in my source. But because of the lack of soundstage in Grados, the instrument separation, resolution and "detail" doesn't seem so "perfect". But separation is definetly there, just not as well as I believed them to be.

So, are Grados usually best at detail? How about the E-MU? would the E-MU's detail improve with better interconnects?
 
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bangraman

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Very good comments. I'd like to ask this though... a phone can be detailed (i.e. the information may be there) but you may have to look for it due to the tonal balance. Some phones thrust out this information while in others it's there and you have to focus on it.


So, is the latter less detailed than the former although eventually you can hear the same thing? Or would you just say some of it's detail is obscured by the phone's tonal character?
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by lojay
So, are Grados usually best at detail?


That question has been posed many times in polls around here, I think off the top of my head that the Etymotic ER-4s is usually the headphone that gets picked as the most detailed, ignoring the fact that it's really a canal phone. It's interesting in light of bagraman's comments that many folks feel that part of this detail is a result of certain frequencies on the 4s being more pronounced. In respect to the query bangraman posed, I'm not sure there is a "right" answer though there may be one that is more popular. It would probably make a really interesting poll! I think my feeling would be that they were equally detailed, but I'm betting that most people would go with their first impression and decide that the headphone that had a more forward display of the information was more detailed. I believe they usually refer to these people as the CD3K Liberation Front!
(Just kidding, just kidding, stop with the stoning already)
 
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It's a good question, isn't it



I like the Etys when you stick them on something like an RKV (Etys + RKV... the sight is comical I know, but it does work well) which rolls off the sound to a certain degree. It allows for much more even and slightly more natural sound in my view, but it also allows you to see how other phones come very close in terms of overall detail (much more than you will feel with a 'flat' amp) while doing a lot of other things better.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by bangraman
It's a good question, isn't it



I love questions like that because in debating the answer to open ended questions like that you usually learn something and grow in the process. Ultimately it doesn't really matter which destination is right, it's the journey to get there that really matters.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by ServinginEcuador
More detailed means getting more of the sonic info off a disc and to your ears.


ServinginEcuador,

Getting more sonic events to one's ears can be nice - if they are authentic. I believe that 95 percent of the sonic events audiophiles cherish as detail are artefacts of the reproduction (and of the recording). By and large, more detail is not a sign of superior resolution but of increased grain. Detail means the inability of preserving signal integrity, it means artificial emphasis on higher frequencies, it means subtle phase shifts, it means a lack of cohesion, it means distracting the listener's attention away from the music. It means the listener's inability to follow the musical flow and to perceive an instrument as one. It means focusing on analyzing sound, not on enjoying music.

To me, detail is a flaw. I do not perceive audiophile-grade detail in a live concert, why should I want to perceive it when I listen to a recording?
 
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