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Testing audiophile claims and myths

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by prog rock man, May 3, 2010.
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  1. Glmoneydawg
    While i admire the heroic recording techniques. ...i will still be listening in an average room,that room will dictate the best spl level for me to enjoy your recording and will not be anywhere near an orchestra at full roar in a concert hall.I will however enjoy it at a scale suitable to my venue.Realism is scalable:)
    Steve999 likes this.
  2. bigshot
    The intended venue for recordings is the living room you listen to it in.
    Steve999 and Glmoneydawg like this.
  3. Glmoneydawg
    Right!!...that is exactly what makes our little hobby work!
    Steve999 likes this.
  4. bigshot
    It's also why moving a couch usually will make much more of an improvement in sound quality than buying a thousand dollar DAC!
  5. Glmoneydawg
  6. Glmoneydawg
    Oh dear ..not sure how i messed that post
  7. Glmoneydawg
    Btw...yellow smarties disappear into jalapeno peanuts...pretty much identical....perfect:)
  8. upstateguy

    There is no last n-th degree......... . [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
  9. GearMe
    It's odd that we can quote published sources/studies/etc. when they support our opinions/position and then ignore others when they don't.

    Then the "you haven't measured it, therefore your argument is invalid" tactic is typically invoked. Would I need to personally measure the Earth's gravitational pull in order to be able to invoke it in a discussion?

    The OSHA PEL is actually 90 dB...NIOSH REL is 85 dB. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation/pel.html

    Additionally, the OSHA PEL is for workplace environments where the time-weighted average (TWA) PEL is over an 8-hour work shift. Peaks well above 85 dB are allowable...

    So... if a listener has their system playing at 85 dB, guess they'll be 'flinching' the whole day! :wink:

    On another OSHA chart, they publish typical sound pressure levels for different things - https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation/loud.html

    On that chart, they describe a night club environment as 110 dB -- not clear if this is peak or average value. If that's an average value, the PEL is 1/2 hour. Obviously, most peaks in music are for a relatively small amount of time relative to the total performance time and if the 110 dB is peak level, then PEL would be > 1/2 hour

    Yes, these levels (> 100 dB) exist in clubs, rock concert venues, listening rooms, etc.

    In the end, am thinking I'll trust the OSHA/University/etc. published data over this forum's "I'll bet if you measure it argument deflections"...if that's ok with you :wink:

    TBH...this side-trip regarding listening levels is not worth the effort. I simply proposed that the test being cited might be suspect based on my personal experience with those exact speakers and a variety of amps ranging from 100 to 400 wpc. 100 wpc was underpowered for the way I listened in my listening room. If you choose to not believe that, good on you. I'll stand by what I said.

    Bottom line, they're just different use cases. You listen at lower levels and, when I owned this stuff, I listened at higher levels.

    In fact, I had two setups in two different rooms for this very reason. One for rock (JBL, or Infinity, etc.) and one for acoustic (Maggies, or Quads, or Acoustats, etc.). When we listened to rock, we typically played our music loud.

    Now I just use headphones (and have many different sound rooms!) :)

  10. bigshot
    I suggested that you get a SPL meter and check it yourself. That would give you your answer, not more numbers on more pages. They don't cost that much. 85dB is VERY loud in you living room with your speakers and your music.

    Remember that the dB scale is exponential. The difference between 20 dB and 30 dB isn't the same as the difference between 80dB and 90dB. You're talking about VERY loud sound.

    As I said, with headphones it is very easy to incur hearing damage with loud volumes. Please be careful.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
  11. gregorio
    We have to be careful here. Firstly, without distance, these numbers are meaningless. For example, from certain positions within a symphony orchestra, levels can reach 137dB. However, by the time we're at the distance of say the conductor's position, peak levels are typically around 105dB, although some exceptional pieces can reach as much as about 115dB or so. But at the ideal audience seating position, around 90dB would be the typical max peak. Also, although rock gigs have been measured at 150dB, that was only a couple of metres from the speaker array, the audience would be many metres further away. If the audience were experiencing 150dB peaks at a rock gig, they would have severe permanent hearing damage! Secondly, the one example where distance is given (fortissimo singer @ 3ft), is completely incorrect. Operatic singers at fortissimo, from 3ft, can reach sustained levels of around 100dB, with peak levels significantly higher. Of course though, no audience member ever sits 3ft from an operatic singer!

  12. TheSonicTruth
    Basically, venue size(and shape) matters. 110SPL in my bathroom is different than 110SPL at the Barclays, even dangerous to my health! That sound has no where to dissipate.
  13. gregorio
    1. Why? Every time you repeat your falsehood, effectively that we can measure everything/differences, I point out the Null Test which does exactly that. You then always come back with some variation of; you can't get a perfect null with analogue equipment, which of course is nonsense that ironically relies on an audiophile myth! We don't need a perfect null because human hearing is not perfect, a null which peaks at say -110dB is inaudible, we have masses of reliable evidence covering many decades which demonstrates this fact and in some cases even a very poor null (at say -20dB) is inaudible! This is probably about the fifth time I've had to refute your false assertion, point out the Null Test and then refute your false/misrepresented objection to it. So, why? Why do you keep going round in circles and repeating the same falsehood when you know it's false?

    2. In a test to determine the highest frequency teenage subjects can hear, the mid point of the distribution (average maximum limit) was between 16kHz and 17kHz.
    2a. Even if I still had access to that data (which I don't), it would be highly illegal to share it. The "single best score" was 19kHz, although it wasn't single, about half a dozen students achieved this, none ever managed 20kHz though. Interestingly, these best scores were all obtained by older (more experienced) students, 19-21 year olds, not the youngest (16 year olds).
    3. Our students had a very wide cultural background, from many different countries and of course, there are universities all over the world running sound engineering courses.

    4. You are misrepresenting what I have stated. Almost without exception all the students had better hearing acuity than me, but worse listening skills, which of course is why I was teaching them listening skills and not the other way around! What's the point of stating that we should "also include applying common sense" if you then don't? The only rational answer is: An attempt to legitimise a false/fallacious assertion, another extremely common audiophile tactic!

    5. Ah, so you're ignoring the response already given to this misrepresentation! Let me remind you: "The world record for the mile in the late 1960's was 3:51 and today it stands at 3:43. Even with all the modern scientific advancements in training that's still only an improvement of just 8 seconds in over 50 years, so a further improvement by another 103 seconds (to 2:00) is NOT "reasonably unlikely" it's incredibly unlikely and almost certainly utterly impossible (without artificial enhancements)!" - Just as with the very young children nonsense, you're now adding; maybe "in the next few thousand years". Again, you market your amps to very young children do you? Do you state in your marketing that it might be possible to hear a difference with your amps in a few thousand years time, assuming humans evolve better hearing? This is the application of common sense is it? :)

    1. That's a staggering statement from someone who professes to have recording experience/knowledge! Decibels (dB) is arguably the most fundamental of measurement scales in audio and you use it all the time yourself but you apparently don't even know what it is. The very first line of the wiki definition is: "The decibel (symbol: dB) is a unit of measurement used to express the ratio of one value of a power or field quantity to another on a logarithmic scale." - Any volume level expressed as a decibel is therefore by definition "relative". How is it possible you don't know pretty much the very first thing that any new student of recording should know? Staggering!

    2. Again, that's just staggering! You demonstrate you know you get less sound at your position in the audience than at the conductors position. In fact, you could roughly calculate how much less using the inverse square law that you yourself quoted! At the conductors position, a couple of meters or so from the orchestra, peak levels of a Mahler symphony might reach as high as about 110dBSPL, "some far corner of the [symphony hall] venue" would very approximately be about 40m away and using the inverse square law would result in a peak level of roughly 85dB. However, this figure only includes loss in a free field, it doesn't include audience (or any other) absorption or additional HF air absorption, so the peak level at your seating position is indeed going to be about 80dBSPL or lower. It would be easy to measure the SPL, so why haven't you? Furthermore, although you are distant from the orchestra, you are still inside the audience and therefore the orchestra is going to be much quieter but the noise floor is going to be roughly the same. Even taking the most optimistic peak level of 85dB and the likely noise floor about 40dB, you are ironically correct, you indeed wouldn't have a dynamic range of "only 50db", it would be significantly less; possibly as much as 45dB but probably no more than about 40dB!! Again, how is it possible you didn't know this and have never noticed (in all your years of proclaimed study and recording experience)? It's literally unbelievable!

    The rest of your post is effectively utter nonsense as it's based on this staggering/unbelievable ignorance!

    Why is it that when engaging with audiophiles (and audiophile marketers), that they inevitably lower the discussion to the completely absurd with absolutely zero relevance to the discussion/today's consumers? Babies' hearing acuity, human evolution in a few thousand years, CD isn't good enough even though it has a dynamic range 1,000 times greater than what you're actually recording, we haven't done parallel universes yet, is that next? sheesh!

    gargani likes this.
  14. GearMe
    Agreed...thank you for using logic and data instead of ignoring them and defaulting to the standard "buy a Rat Shack SPL tester" deflection when another's use case doesn't align with your personal view.
    It's an old and tired argument on this thread that lacks thought and is of little value to the discussion when there is real data 'out there' to work with.

    You don't need to measure things when they've been repeatedly measured and there's been an established set of data to leverage. You can certainly question/discuss the studies' assumptions/processes (i.e. Stereo Review's amplifier test using Maggie's) and make judgements about a given test's relevance to your individual use case.

    So...according to your ideal audience (Classical Orchestra) position, the audience would be hearing a 90 dB peak -- well into the "flinch zone" by Bigshot's standards. Not sure why concert-goers would pay good money to subject themselves to this constant flinching :wink:

    A quick run through with an SPL Calculator for the Rock Concert gig (150 dB at 2m) would yield...

    20 meters - 130 dB
    30 meters - 126.5 dB
    40 meters - 124 dB
    50 meters - 122 dB
    100 meters - 116 dB

    Changing that peak number to 130 dB at 2 meters still yields 96 dB at 100 meters.

    We'd have to limit the Rock Gig's set up to a max of 118 dB at 2 meters...to stop 'flinching' at 100 meters (more than a football field away -- 118 dB @ 2m = 84 dB @ 100m -- chart below)

    Googling "SPL levels in Clubs" reveals measurements/studies/etc. suggesting that the OSHA number for Club environments (110 dB) is reasonable as well with peaks as high as 131 dB and average values 100-110 dB in a club environments.


    Bottom line...people can and do listen to a variety of music at different levels in a variety of settings. Just because their use case doesn't align with another's doesn't make it invalid or require measurement to be 'deemed so'.
    If the playback systems exist to reproduce the music at those levels and someone says they do, I'll take their word for it...assuming positive intent (a novel concept in this forum for some members)!

  15. TheSonicTruth

    110-120dB SPL?

    Twenty minutes of maximum 95-100 SPL during thirty minutes of 'worship' in my own CHURCH is too much for me, let alone anything north of 100!

    (Although: I've been told that if something is too loud to me, the inverse might be true - something could still be wrong with my hearing)
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
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