Sibilance: is it inherent on a recording, or the result of playback distortion
Sep 16, 2004 at 7:54 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8
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Lately I've been noticing (using the HD650) that albums with even the most biting vocals or cymbals have lost that sharp bite of sibilance that I had been used to (on other cans). For example I hear the sibilance loud and clear with the E5, which is supposed to have a more rolled-off high end than the Senns.

Looking at the headroom graphs (yes I know they're no be-all, end-all) shows the HD650 has almost no harmonic distortion, whereas the E5 has a pretty signifcant amount.

This leads me to wonder whether I'm hearing no sibilance on the HD650 becausme my plackback chain is extremely low distortion, or because the frequency response of the Senns is masking the sibilance. I.E. is sibilance a function distortion in the playback chain (so a neutral, undistorted system would have no sibilance) or is it just a fact of particular recordings, and any system that doesn't present it is not neutral or transparent?
 
Sep 16, 2004 at 3:10 PM Post #2 of 8

NotoriousBIG_PJ

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Its a lot more complicated then that. The amount of sibilance does depend on the recording, but things that increase this problem include bad power and bad digital. Harsh or bright components seem to ehance sibilance. Microphonic tubes will also enhance it in my experience. Also the refinement of the can plays a role. For instance I found omega 2 to present less sibilance then lower model stax, which I should think (as you note) is because its not distorting the s and t sounds as badly. Avoiding sibilance is a combination of power conditioning, system matching and accepting that a few recordings are really terrible hehe...

Biggie.
 
Sep 16, 2004 at 4:29 PM Post #3 of 8

jefemeister

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In my experience, sibilance is largely on the recording. I feel it is an artifact of poor/bad quality micing. Note that you don't hear it as much on synthesized sounds. This effect can also come from the playback equipment though. I relate the effect to intermodulation (IM) distortion. Basically, if you play a cluster of high-frequencies all at once the system will produce a relatively high amount of distortion ("unnatural" harmonics) throughout the audio spectrum but particularly at high frequencies. These harmonics basically add a lot of energy to the upper frequencies that isn't supposed to be there. IM distortion is generally horrendous in lower quality gear.
 
Sep 16, 2004 at 6:33 PM Post #4 of 8
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Quote:

Originally Posted by jefemeister
In my experience, sibilance is largely on the recording. I feel it is an artifact of poor/bad quality micing. Note that you don't hear it as much on synthesized sounds. This effect can also come from the playback equipment though. I relate the effect to intermodulation (IM) distortion. Basically, if you play a cluster of high-frequencies all at once the system will produce a relatively high amount of distortion ("unnatural" harmonics) throughout the audio spectrum but particularly at high frequencies. These harmonics basically add a lot of energy to the upper frequencies that isn't supposed to be there. IM distortion is generally horrendous in lower quality gear.


So then it would be safe to say that you think a truly transparent system should reveal some sibilance...?
 
Sep 16, 2004 at 7:37 PM Post #5 of 8

elnero

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Sibilance itself occurs in everyday life, just take a listen to people talking or singing unamplifed, it's there and perfectly natural.

I find the problems occur when there is an over-emphasis on in this area that draws your attention and can cause esses and tees to sound more biting than they should. A lot of times this can be accompanied by tizzy, splashy symbals that are just as grating.

This over-emphasis can be a product of the recording itself or I've found, and as Biggie noted, that it can be power related or component related so actually tracking it down can be a pain.
 
Sep 16, 2004 at 8:20 PM Post #6 of 8

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Yes theres no bite in real sibilance. My gf sings at weddings so I get to use her as reference for my system lol.

I wonder how good vinyl compares to good digital with regards to sibilance...

Biggie.
 
Sep 16, 2004 at 8:29 PM Post #7 of 8

jefemeister

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Iron_Dreamer
So then it would be safe to say that you think a truly transparent system should reveal some sibilance...?


My position is that a truly transparent system will yield you exactly what's on the disc. No more, no less. But that's not the point I was trying to make. My main point was that IM distortion will cause a overemphasis of energy in the high frequencies which will cause the sound you're objecting to. This distortion increases during sibilant-type sounds (sssss) because this particular sound is made up of numerous high-frequency harmonics which leads to inceased IMD.
 
Sep 16, 2004 at 10:42 PM Post #8 of 8

tiberian

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Iron_Dreamer
Lately I've been noticing (using the HD650) that albums with even the most biting vocals or cymbals have lost that sharp bite of sibilance that I had been used to (on other cans). For example I hear the sibilance loud and clear with the E5, which is supposed to have a more rolled-off high end than the Senns.

Looking at the headroom graphs (yes I know they're no be-all, end-all) shows the HD650 has almost no harmonic distortion, whereas the E5 has a pretty signifcant amount.

This leads me to wonder whether I'm hearing no sibilance on the HD650 becausme my plackback chain is extremely low distortion, or because the frequency response of the Senns is masking the sibilance. I.E. is sibilance a function distortion in the playback chain (so a neutral, undistorted system would have no sibilance) or is it just a fact of particular recordings, and any system that doesn't present it is not neutral or transparent?



this is great news man, i am so tired of the annoying sibilance that pops out frequently from my rig and my 650s should be here anytime.
anyway, i think sibilance is kinda related to rig and the recording. eric's cables have reduced sibilance quite a bit, most english songs don't have the sharp 'S' edge now, but most of my japanese songs still show sibilance. 'chi' 'shi' 'tsu' 'sa' 'za' etc...duh. the thing is i always hear people speaking japanese around the campus from my classes and friends and there is absolutely no sibilance whatsoever...so funny. i guess a little bit of sibilance is fine but not when its like a sharp whine.
 

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