jacked up audio
Jan 31, 2003 at 1:40 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 24

Audio-Me

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coloration

I've observed that lots of different audio equipment escalates information of specific parts or the entire spectrum putting everything on a single plane. This further deviates from natural, some people think of it as an enhancement, I view it as a deliberate alteration which I find to be counter productive in accuracy. Secondary details are presented louder thus bleed into the primary portion of the music and sometimes even overbearing it. In real life, many of these "extras" blend into the rest of the sound or get drowned out.

What I mean by single plain is that soft sounds don't come out as soft, rather as sharp noises which matches or exceeds the volume level of the rest of the sounds. Is this lowered dynamic range? I certainly think so, but it still goes from really quiet to really loud you might argue, look it as two different forms of dynamics. Well if everything is at the same volume level, then coherency should be no problem right? Quite the contrary, everything is severed, resulting in a decrease in resolution and refinement (sort of like information loss of sampling analog into digital). This to me is compressed sound. Decay and texture suffers. What am I talking about? "I still hear every note fade" You're hearing just the sound of the attack get quieter, not actual variation of a sound, and texture couldn't possibly be portrayed since there's no real transient detail being reproduced. With false timbre comes inaccurate imaging leading to distorted soundstage.

Although accuracy might be thrown out the window, articulation heightens clarity and makes it easier to distinguish between different noises. With lower resolution, it reduces chances for confusion helping to follow along with the music better, brighten the beat you could say.

As for high end components that stresses every detail, but don't lose resolution, they may sound neutral, and transparent, but accurate in relation to how stuff sounds in real life, they are not.

I wonder if there are components that increase speed (faster timing) inorder to overload the listener with details fooling him into believing all that he is hearing was info from real time. As in cramming 2 seconds of details into 1 second by doubling the speed of reproduction.


The purist in me hates inflation, but others prefer performance boosts.

What do you take of it? Is this high performance, or fabrication? Do you like it/prefer it, or think nothing of it?
 
Jan 31, 2003 at 2:46 AM Post #2 of 24

millerdog

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That's a real good question. I have just gotten back into vinyl and sort know what you mean. While my system is by no means "high" end, I do hear differences in digital and analog playback. Right now, all I can say is that I like some versions on cd better and vice versa.
Since I've been listening to cds for awhile, it's the vinyl that seems colored; more mids and less highs if you will. Cds have that flat across the board sound you mention.
Vocals on vinyl win hands down for me. All others become a toss up. As far as attack and decay, I'm not that critical of a listener to hear or even search out things like that. If Sade sounds flat on cd and you call it compressed then I agree; I would rather listen to her LPs.
I don't mean to make this a digital vs. analog discussion; I'm willing to give SACD a try. To answer your question, I think compression is bad in anyform, but it does seem to suit particular types of music.
md
 
Jan 31, 2003 at 4:03 AM Post #3 of 24

andrzejpw

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So, your basic idea is that while some of us may think that a certain piece of equipment is making a certain spectrum of music more articulate/"detailed," it is actually moving away from true accuracy? If so, I'm a bit conflicted on this issue. On the one hand, I love hearing what a new component does. I love hearing more high extension, more natural mids, and punchy bass. But aren't we searching for accuracy in reproduction? On the other hand, I say that we'll possibly never reach true accuracy without "the real thing." So why not enjoy ourselves?

Sorry if I make no sense. Its 11, I had my last final, and I'm coming off a really tough Dance Dance Revelution session.
 
Jan 31, 2003 at 4:56 AM Post #4 of 24

CRESCENDOPOWER

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Well Audio&Me,

There is not one person on Head-Fi that I agree with every statement that they make, but in the general sense I really think you, and I are on the same page. However, I will add that from a technical point I think we are wrong.
As you step up to better, and more expensive equipment you almost always receive a faster, and more detailed presentation. Headphone amps with a zero ohm impedance rating, sources with better specifications, and parts, and headphones with a somewhat flat frequency response almost always give the more realistic, and accurate presentation of what is on the disc. But, in my opinion a lot of the time this is not very pleasant to listen to.
I will agree with you on the fact that live performances can't be replicated very well from audio equipment. There are also a lot of other factors that influence what one hears at a live performance like the person's seating position, or if the music was amplified, or not.
The bottom line is buy what is going to give you the most musical enjoyment, even if it happens to deviate from accuracy
 
Jan 31, 2003 at 6:14 AM Post #5 of 24

wallijonn

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I was just reading articles on compression and passive preamps. A passive preamp is basically a potentiometer between a cd player and an amp. One person stated that it sounded lifeless and lacked dynamics. He also stated that it adds capacitance and resistance into the sound stream. Someone else rebuted that it was "real" sound that was being heard, and that the lack of dynamics is actually a truer sound than highly compressed sound.

I believe that compression has come about directly because of the digital age. It may have started with DBX and Dolby, but today has encompassed DDS and THX. Today's THX amps, or Class D, G, H, T, etc. have little in common to Class A. The keyword today is ultra realism, or hyper realism. Strip away the top and strip away the bottom and present it as authenticity. We all are used to fast food, yet gourmet food is based on delicate flavours. How is it that we have strayed so far in audio? Perhaps it started with ported speakers, where our ears were trained in a societical manipulation, and has now seen it's pinnecle in automotive stereo reproduction where dynamics try to drown out extraneous noises. Perhaps digital sound is just something that we must all accept without question. I just hope that there will always be purists about.

Another industry spearheading the digital acceptance would have to be MTV musicians which rely on electronic instruments instead of "analogue" instruements. The moog may just have replaced the violin. The synthesiser has replaced a whole bevy of instruments; MIDI seems to be the norm. Did the Beatles really bring about the digital age? Even as we complain about the changes in audio, so have musicians lamented the shift from non-electronic instruments to electronic. If it is electronic, it can be digitalised. And therein, perhaps, lies the crux of the problem. As the world becomes more and more cramped, the only places that we may be able to hear pipe organs will be in Cathedrals and symphonies. Electronics can only hope to simulate a sine wave with a square wave, and to hear a pipe organ at home will necessitate compression by sheer necessity.

If you read my review of the DT880, one of the key points that I tried to stress was how it sounded uncompressed in comparison to other headphones. I'm hoping that others who audition it come to the same conclusions.
 
Jan 31, 2003 at 3:06 PM Post #6 of 24

chadbang

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I was on the same train of thought about two weeks ago in a post titled "Musicality, sometimes it's what you don't hear". I thought that equipment which was lower in resolution might present a more natural soundstage, but Tomcat, forwarded me this link which suggests quite the opposite is true. http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazin.../audiohell.htm

Here's the passage that refers to resolution:

"We'd like to briefly examine one of the moreÊinteresting misperceptions common to audio critique. Many listeners speakÊ of a playback system's revolving power in terms of its abilityto articulate detail, i.e. previously un-noticed phenomena.Ê However, it's more likely that what these listeners are responding to when they say such-and-such has more "detail" is: un-connected micro-events in the frequency and time domains. (These are events that, if they were properly connected, would have realized the correct presentation of harmonic structure, attack, and legato.)Ê Because these events are of incredibly short duration and because there is absolutely no analog to such events in the natural world and are now being revealed to then by the sheer excellence of their audio, these listeners believe that they are hearing something for the first time, which they are!Ê And largely because of this, they are more easily misled into a belief that what they are hearing is relevant and correct. The matter is aided and abetted by the apparentness of the perception. The "details" are undeniably there; it is only their meaning which has become subverted. The truth is that we only perceive such "detail" from an audio playback system; but never in a live musical performance.




"Resolution" on the other hand is the effectÊproduced when these micro-events are connected.... in other words, when the events are so small that detail is unperceivable. When these events are correctly connected, we experience a more accurate sense of a musical performance. This is not unlike the way in which we perceive the difference between video and film. Video would seen to have more detail, more apparent individual visual events; but film obviously has greater resolution. If it weren't for the fact that detail in video is made up such large particles as compared to the micro-events which exist in audio, we might not have been misled about the term "detail", and would have called it by its proper name which is "grain". Grain creates the perception of more events, particularly in the treble region, because they are made to stand out from the musical texture in an un-naturally highlighted form. In true high-resolution audio systems, grain disappears and is replaced by a seamless flow of connected musical happenings." [cf. "As Time Goes By" Positive Feedback Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 4-5, Fall '93]


Needless to say, I was also surprised.
 
Jan 31, 2003 at 10:14 PM Post #7 of 24

Audio-Me

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It makes sense how people would prefer an evenly laid out presentation, there's one less variable (which leads to even further reduction in variation, domino effect) that needs to be registered, thus it's easier for people to enjoy what ever they want to focus on. I happen to want to hear how it really should sound, I'm not saying my perception is more complex, if you think about it, it's the opposite, my want is straight forward, it's more enjoyable for me when the gap between real and reproduced is smaller, a single reference makes more sense to me than to have to get used to two different ones.

miller - I think that digital has more of everything, where as vinyl is truer to the original sound that was recorded. I take it that you view compression as bad but good thing. I have no interest in SACD. You're probably wondering why I'm not into vinyl, I think that vinyl sounds better, but I prefer CDs (practicality reasons), I just don't like its sonic flaws.

andrze - the reason you like hearing more highs and more natural mids in better components is because they aren't as resitricted as lesser components. I'm talking about better meaning more of the original recording is being reproduced. I believe that all components have some degree of loss, crappier equipment obviously screwing up more.

crescendo - yeah, you and I seem to see eye to eye in many areas, really cool. Could you elaborate on your opinion that a lot of times more realistic and accurate presentation is not very pleasant to listen to? I assume you're referring to ****ty/artificial recordings in which case coloration may help enjoyability...

wallijonn - what I'm about to tell you ties in with my reply to crescendo. Most of the music I listen to is actually electronically produced, so really I have adapted my tastes to both synthesized and live sound. Although I like euphonic coloration, I still crave everything to sound real, even the made up sounds! I'd like for the electronic music I listen to to simulate as best as possible sounds that can be created naturally.
Authenticity - a word I can agree with, I like things simple, I prefer neither fast food (feeble) or gourmet (perplex), this concept sticks with me on almost everything.

I'm with that guy on less dynamics is truer than more compressed, but less dynamic than normal isn't a good thing either.

The reason HD600 are my favorite headphones is because they sound the least compressed than all other headphones that I've heard, I think they're more natural than other ones. Yet it still has flaws, but I can live with them as they're not obtrusive ones. I'd like to hear the DT880s, although I question your review, it comes off as romanticization and Jans review contradicts some of your perceptions on them. Could they possibly be a HD600 with reduced flaws? I'd love to find out, but aren't going to buy them on chance. I really dig the DT-250-250 I recently got, it's along the lines of a lower resolution less refined HD600, just not as natural (or comfy, heh).

chad - thanks, that was a good reading. All of that is pretty much what I've been thinking for a while, I hate grain. What I look for in equipment is resolution which I find to have a direct effect on refinement, and the quality of the component is the deciding factor on accuracy.

For video, people think I'm crazy for liking video cassette, to me, lack of saturation is more realistic than oversaturation in color, because I notice with digital video, the vivid effect (grain, perceived detail) drastically changes the overall tone of the image. Same goes to sharpness, I prefer slight blur over exaggerated sharpness. I love old movies that were filmed with technicolor. =)

highlight, what a great word to describe grain.

It's easy to find components with neutral frequency response that is accurate on a bunch of aspects, the trouble is finding "true high-resolution" that has the natural coherency of live sounds.
 
Feb 1, 2003 at 1:59 AM Post #8 of 24

wallijonn

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A&M,

you made some very intriguing points, but I find myself at a loss as to why you would not consider SACD. have you had a chance to audition it against DVD-A and regular red book?

as to my review, don't worry. Greg will probably refute everything I have said. The review was just my impressions of the DT880 compared to the other headphones. Just as I state that the veil of the HD600 can not be easily discerned lest it be immediately compared to another headphone, the same will probably be true of my statement that the DT880 sounds uncompressed compared to the other headphones. Hopefully Greg will do a direct comparison of the HD600 to the DT880 in a very definitive and expounded manner.

Do you prefer the sound of tubes over solid state? or do you favour a hybrid? if your preference is solid state, do you prefer class A amplification over class B, AB, D, G, T, et. al.? If your prference is tubes, do you prefer a push pull design to a triode class A? etc. Do you find yourself liking vintage warm sound over today's over-analytical cold sound?

http://ei.cs.vt.edu/~netinfo/notes/c...mpression.html

 
Feb 1, 2003 at 2:23 AM Post #9 of 24

Audio-Me

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I used to prefer tubed sound, I had no idea there were solid state stuff out there that didn't have typical inherent flaws. I was going down the euphonics galore path. Then I heard a Classe power amp and a McCormack headphone amp, that changed everything. My ETA42 sealed my change in preference.

I've heard some SACD units, the first one being Sony SCD-333ES, I wasn't impressed. Rega Planet and Arcam CD-72 redbook players both sounded better, and they're not exactly top notch. Besides, I've already found a permanent source, which is an upsampling redbook player. There's hardly any music that I listen to available on SACD anyway. The new format screams "elitist" also, that doesn't win any points with me either.

I think that I am like an opposite to an audiophile, I don't care about the equipment, I just want realism, better stuff simply helps me reach that goal resulting in more enjoyment.

Vintage warm or analytical cold, I'll have to say neither.

you brought up a point I wanted to mention, about the ears being trained in manipulation, I'll touch up on it later.

The HD600 are nowhere near close to neutral, yet I see right past it and love the sound to death. I don't know if I perceive it as natural, or I simply prefer a little bit of that coloration, I still enjoy euphonics. By the way, they're not veiled you fools, your ears are just so used to emphasized stuff that you don't hear the normal response.
 
Feb 1, 2003 at 7:54 AM Post #10 of 24

wallijonn

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A&M,

which Classe amp? personally i like the new C101 (from the specs). and why did you like this amp over all the other amps in its class? how do you feel about the old accuphase, luxman, rotels, etc. do you think they measure up to today's amps? (i'm presently thinking of picking up a bedini 25/25 class A amp for my K1000). how do you feel about "slew rate"s?, etc.

is this the McCormack you heard?
mhdf.jpg


what's your definition of "audiophile"? to me you just sound like a "purist". i'd like to think that everyone here is striving to be a purist and not an equipment-gathering-audiophile.

what op amps are in your ETA-42? did you upgrade them to META42 specs? and did you chip roll to attain your present sound?

Greg has been in contact with the engineer who originally designed the HD600.
 
Feb 1, 2003 at 2:52 PM Post #11 of 24

kelly

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Is "equipment gathering" the new definition of Audiophile?

A&M makes some good points in this thread. The heart of this issue was one we argued about when we were discussing the Audio Technica W100 headphone. I argued that there was a fake sounding reverb effect that created a false sense of decay and that this was a coloration. Those who liked the W100 argued that the decay was real and that the W100 was simply better at revealing it. I think this argument has probably been had many other times on this forum involving different equipment but that A&M hit the nail on the head to summarize it.

My philosophy involves the chase of a colorless, completely neutral and transparent system that reveals the recording exactly as it was recorded. The goal is unachievable but for me the success of the system is in how much closer to it I feel I am. To that end, when I hear a signature or coloration, my goal is to try to minimize it. Often changing components will eliminate that flaw completely but introduce another. Sometimes the new component's signature seems less noticable to me and this is usually when I prefer the new component to the old.

Some people try to neutralize colorations by adding another component that is colored in an opposite way. If one component seems hard and fast, maybe pairing it with a softer component helps. If the bass is lacking in one component, maybe try a set of tubes with exaggerated bass. When people say "synergy", I think this is often what they're referring to. The ends justify the means of course and however you get to the sound you want is not wrong, but this isn't my approach to the problem. And when it comes to tonal correction, I would rather employ an equalizer than try to match different components that are purposefully less tonally neutral.

I do still like the HD600 as a headphone and I think I understand why A&M is such a fan of it. The HD600's signature is that it sounds a little soft and the resolution is low. This is a strong enough signature that combined with its tonal inaccuracies, I don't think I could ever mistake an HD600 for something else. However, this signature isn't very offensive when you think of alternate signatures. Phones that are very bright, harsh or hard sounding draw more attention to their flaws than the HD600 do. It's not that the HD600 is perfect, it's simply that while listening, it's easier to ignore its flaws than some other phones. This is subjective, of course, and the same flaws can draw more attention from one person than from someone else, but I think this is true for enough people to justify the HD600's populatity.
 
Feb 1, 2003 at 3:22 PM Post #12 of 24

bootman

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Is ultimate realism what you really want?
Does this really let you enjoy the music more?
"Audiophile" recordings aside, the majority of popular recordings (and this does include all forms of music that will make it to the radio) are not recorded to the standards that we might be pursuing.
The additional "colorations" introduced by equipment might even serve to make these recordings more enjoyable to the ear than a setup that will let you hear the recordings "as is."

Here is my personal example:
I enjoy listening to "classic rock", or the "popular" music from the late 60's and 70s through the early 80s.
All of this music was played on the radio and (I assume) mixed with this medium in mind.
The current re-releases of this music might be cleaner but I think that the original mix is still there.
While I don't have access to the most neutral system (if something like this even exist)
I do enjoy this music much more with my colored grados than say the more (relatively) neutral Senns or Sony or AKG or insert your less colored cans here.
My only reference was the HP-1000 and I liked this type of music more on the MS-II.
Not that the HP was bad mind you but I "enjoyed" the music more on the more colored model.
Now for "audiophile" recordings (like Chesky, Telarc, et al) I much more enjoyed the HP-1000 than my colored MS-II.
Are these recordings made with the neutral seeking audiophile in mind?
 
Feb 1, 2003 at 3:27 PM Post #13 of 24

kelly

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bootman
To that I would say that two wrongs don't make a right. The types of flaws I hear in popular recorded music aren't always the same as the flaws I hear in components. At first I thought you were going to talk about tonally neutralizing the sound, but then you mentioned using Grados (bright sounding phones) with rock music (bright sounding recordings), so this probably isn't the case. What is it about the modern Grados that you find more suitable for popular music than the HP-1000, given that you consider the HP-1000 better for well recorded music? What do the new ones fix for you?
 
Feb 1, 2003 at 3:30 PM Post #14 of 24

chadbang

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Quote:

I do still like the HD600 as a headphone and I think I understand why A&M is such a fan of it. The HD600's signature is that it sounds a little soft and the resolution is low.


Again, I think you guys may have the situation backwards - as I once did. I believe the resolution of the Senn 600s is, in fact, very high. This results in them sounding more musical. Again, I quote:

"Many listeners speakÊ of a playback system's revolving power in terms of its abilityto articulate detail, i.e. previously un-noticed phenomena.Ê However, it's more likely that what these listeners are responding to when they say such-and-such has more "detail" is: un-connected micro-events in the frequency and time domains.... Resolution on the other hand is the effectÊproduced when these micro-events are connected....in other words, when the events are so small that detail is unperceivable. When these events are correctly connected, we experience a more accurate sense of a musical performance. .... Grain creates the perception of more events, particularly in the treble region, because they are made to stand out from the musical texture in an un-naturally highlighted form. In true high-resolution audio systems, grain disappears and is replaced by a seamless flow of connected musical happenings."

According this this explanation, the Sennheisers are actually of higher resolution than some other phones mentioned here.
 
Feb 1, 2003 at 3:35 PM Post #15 of 24

kelly

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chadbang
I don't completely disagree with what you're saying. I've read that quote before, whether it was from you or somewhere else. I agree that sounding disconnected is not synonymous with high resolution, however, neither is sloppy midbass and blurred focus. Maybe the HD600 takes more lumps than it deserves but I do consider it lower resolution than HP-1000, R10, Orpheus, Stax... or even DT931s.
 

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