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Stereo imaging - Vocals towards left side

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by sidewinder, Jul 13, 2010.
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  1. bigshot
    In orchestral music, the violins are usually on the left and they are usually louder on average than the rest of the orchestra.
  2. TheSonicTruth
    My readings are from examples spanning all genres, not just one or another, but that information about the violins is interesting.
  3. bigshot
    Well 1dB probably isn't perceptible anyway.
  4. Bansaku
    It sure is! Due to uneven ear canals between my ears, I have to set the balance 1-1 1/2 dB (depending on the headphone) in favour of my left ear and it's very noticeable.
    Funny thing is if I use those "bone conducting" headphones I have zero imbalance. It's just a shame that they are lacking in bass because they sound surprisingly good!
  5. Mediahound
    Have your ears checked by an otolaryngologist. I had that issue a few years ago and it turned out ear wax was built up and pushed around the ear drum. She cleaned my ear canal professionally and instantly I could hear even again.
  6. bigshot
    How are you measuring the 1dB? Volume pot ticks are notoriously inaccurate. Try using a sound editing program that is more accurate and see if it works the same. I'm betting it doesn't. .5-1dB is about the threshold for audibility of differences with tones. With dynamic music it's more like 2-3dB.
  7. castleofargh Contributor
    I agree with you about the range for noticing tones, and even then only around 1 to 4khz can I accurately notice and even set levels within 0.5dB(with a way of switching rapidly!!!!). but a 1dB imbalance over all the audio range is enough to subjectively shift things for me. once again, it is easy to notice for me when I do rapid switching. otherwise I doubt that I would really pay attention.
    on headphones we often have more than 1dB imbalance but in local areas only, rarely all over the audio range. and IMO that's why we often don't notice. except when we do ^_^. my last purchase was an IEM with 5dB imbalance at 3khz, it didn't take me long to notice that without even looking for it.
  8. gregorio
    1. Can't say I've particularly noticed that but RMS is not a measurement of loudness anyway, only of average energy.

    2. DAWs have only been common since the late 1990's and even today, in commercial studios, they are never used for mixing exclusively with a mouse. Without exception as far as I'm aware, commercial studios use DAWs with a digital mixing desk and/or controller. Also, near-field monitoring has only been common since around the mid-1980's and even then, virtually always in addition to mid-fields and mastering is typically mainly (or entirely) done on mid-fields.

    That's an example of how easily and quickly things can get misleading. Given a string section all playing fortissimo, the RMS would be higher on the right, from the basses and cellos. However, it will sound balanced or even the violins being slightly louder because our hearing is more sensitive to the violin freq range than the bass and cello range. On the other hand, measured over the entirety of a piece of music, the violins could easily have a higher RMS, simply because they are likely to be playing more of the time than the basses. Also, given an entire orchestra playing fortissimo, the brass will be substantially louder than the violins (even to the point of near obliteration), which incidentally annoys violinists endlessly!

    We have a similar situation in rock music, where there is typically more energy in the rhythm guitar/s but the lead guitar will generally sound louder, due to the distortion added to the lead guitar in the most sensitive hearing region. And most energy is from the bass guitar but that is typically (though not always) panned centrally. As an example, due to human hearing response, an equal balance (loudness) between the bass guitar and hi-hat would typically occur when the bass guitar is 40dB-60dB RMS higher than the hi-hat!

    I'd have to agree. Although even a 1dB imbalance over just certain parts of the audio range can have a significant audible affect, it depends on a number of factors: Where in the range we're talking about relative to human hearing response, what else is occurring in the mix at the same time and what exactly we're talking about. For example if we're talking about loudness then 1dB is typically inaudible but if we're talking about secondary affects, such as stereo positioning using headphones for example (or "quality" evaluations being another) then a 1dB difference can be easily audible. This is why blind tests require level matching to just 0.1dB and under very specific/exceptional circumstances (certain test signals) even 0.1dB can be discernable. During mastering, where we're dealing with the entire mix, the most exacting listening environments and finely tuned listening abilities, 1dB or 2dB is often considered quite large and adjustments of just a few tenths of a dB are common.

    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
  9. hobbes4444
    Well I dontd think it's the headphones. Played some vinyl through the SimAudio amp headphone jack. Vocals are properly centered, and accurately off center based on mixing choices. I played an LP of The Cars debut which had strong left I'm balance for vocals on the DCC CD and the LP had centered very like I was hearing on other sources . Also, Abbey Road 2009 mastering has some vocals slightly off center, for example, Here Comes the Sun, George is slight right and that is the case on the vinyl via the PM-2. Golden Slumbers has Paul dead center and that is accurate. Instruments are also properly panned left and right and center comparing the LP to the Spotify files.

    So since CDs and files exhibit the same hard panning issue with the Oppo jack and the amp jack, seems to me there has to be something in the Oppo DAC or the cables connecting the two units. Getting closer i guess. Sigh. . .
  10. bigshot
    He's talking about averages across all playing time and all CDs. I think with classical music, violins would be playing the most time as you say, brass would be in the middle, so it would come out 50-50, and the basses on the right would probably come out at a lower level. With the vast numbers of classical CDs out there compared to other genres, I can see it skewing the results a bit. But I have to admit, I think this "statistic" is just made up. Who would do a study like that?

    I really doubt that I would notice if one channel of a classical music CD was attenuated by 1dB. Music is different than tones. I think it would have to get to 3dB before I would notice. I could tell with mono music fairly easily perhaps, but not stereo with different content on the left and right. I think you would need a specific kind of music with a lot of mono content smack dab in the middle (like vocals) to notice.

    Try amping the output from the Oppo. If it's an impedance thing, that might help. It would still be a problem with the cans, but it might work around it.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
  11. castleofargh Contributor
    oh sorry about that. I thought I read that you had tried with another headphone, but I must have mixed up different threads. my bad.
    well I think you're partially complicating things here, but at least that provides more experience to narrow down the list of suspects.
    reading your first post more carefully this time, it seems that you had already found the culprit: SimAudio Moon 340i. does that align with your various tests?
    also maybe a cheap and very partial fix, try lowering the volume of a source(DAP, computer, etc) and increasing the volume on the SimAudio Moon 340i, to check if the imbalance improves noticeably depending on the knob's position(which is a pretty common issue on the most typical type of analogue volume control with the first 1/3rd usually being the worst. if the knob itself becomes the most likely culprit, maybe there is a solution cheaper than changing the entire device. any skilled DIYer around you(maybe you)?
  12. Glmoneydawg
    The forums are full of this topic and every one I've ever read has the left side being louder....any theories here?Driving with the car window open perhaps?
  13. Bansaku
    FabFilter Pro-L plug-in. Before that it was the channel sliders in Audio Midi in OS X. Trust me, I am seeing the numbers on the screen, not playing it by ear. Not bragging, but I have incredible hearing. My last audiology test showed 0's and 5's across the board (15 is baseline for a teenager), and the woman who tested me said I have the hearing of a young child who has never experienced the noise of modern day life. It's a curse as much as it is a boon.
  14. bigshot
    I'd sure like to see you detect a difference of 1dB in a channel with dynamic music in normal listening conditions.
  15. TheSonicTruth
    All I was pointing out is that most of the genres I measured showed about 0.5 to 0.8dB higher RMS on the left. Not always enough to hear, and as pointed out, more of a volts thing than audible, but still, odd.

    25 years ago, my hearing itself was louder on the left, but has improved and evened out steadily since.
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