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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. TheSonicTruth
    Well, I do not consider myself an audiophile, because I seek to 'remove the audio system' from the music, not have the system itself 'enhance' the music - the goal of many audiophiles.

    Personally, I could care less about multi-channel, 5.1, 7.1, or 9,573,547.1 sound! For me, reasonable frequency response and dynamics are more important. Our precious little TV speakers are capable of withstanding more dynamic impact than I think TV engineers give them credit for.

    True. Just horribly compressed. Those Nascars whipping by microphones mounted on the crash barrier sound like someone rapidly sweeping a concrete floor with a broom! And the roar of the crowd after a home run at Yankee Stadium over my surround system has the visceral impact of someone turning on a small tabletop fan. And the bat itself connecting with the ball? A little old lady snapping shut her purse: The frequency response is there, but little dynamic IMPACT.

    Now none of that requires "weeks in post-", does it? Just easing up a little on the rack settings. :wink:
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  2. gregorio
    1. If a particular music recording was mixed with say a 3dB hump in the bass, then replaying it on a good freq response system with a 3dB hump in the bass is not "enhancing" the reproduction, it's reproducing it with higher fidelity, while reproducing it with a flat system would be lower fidelity.

    2. TV and commercial music recordings are not created for you personally or what you personally consider "reasonable" dynamics to be. For example, millions of TV consumers around the world do care about multi-channel and therefore content is created in multi-channel because it's relatively easy and artefact free to turn multi-channel into stereo but not so the other way around.
    2a. Another extremely common audiophile myth/falsehood. According to audiophiles, engineers, who've been educated/trained and whose job it is to know how their mix is going to be heard/played back, apparently know a lot less than they do, a person who is uneducated/untrained and has never even tried to create a mix for TV broadcast or music distribution.

    3. Firstly, so you've effectively stated that you think a real but volume lowered/compressed soundtrack sounds a lot less "real" than a soundtrack which is completely unreal/fake in every respect. Secondly, how do you know what a Nascar sounds like from a couple of feet away on a crash barrier? All those who work that closely with running race cars have to wear hearing protection because we're talking about levels which can exceed 110dBSPL, sometimes by a lot. And no, TV speakers are not capable of that and even if they were, what consumers (apart from you apparently) would want anywhere near that? You may have your own preferences for what you consider to be a "reasonable" dynamic range but we have to work (by law and/or specifications) to a dynamic range considered to be "reasonable" by everyone else!

    4. How would you know? If we're to get the highest possible quality and the widest dynamic range within the permissible limits, how else can this be achieved without audio post? If you could answer that, you'd completely revolutionise TV/Film production and be an exceedingly rich man! The rack, fader and other settings are as they are to avoid the sound (of the sport) completely obliterating the commentary and avoid the possibility of breaking the law/not complying with specifications. Again, we've had many multi-billion dollar companies/organisations, in competition, all over the world, with teams of engineers and scientists researching and actually implementing TV broadcast of live sports events for over 80 years but you, with no knowledge of any of this research/information, no experience and no idea of how it's actually done or why, think that all of us have got it wrong and you know better.

    Part of the problem/issue described by @old tech is due to the fact that the new loudness paradigm allows a larger dynamic range than previously and less use of compression!

    bfreedma likes this.
  3. TheSonicTruth
    And that must break your heart, Calbi. Dynamics control is your bread n butter!

    Notice I said "ease back " on the amount of DRC in broadcast, not eliminate it entirely.

    Ease back Greg, just as we eased into this over-compressed loudness paradigm over the course of the '90s-early 2000s in the first place.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  4. bfreedma

    I wouldn't expect in car or near track audio to be similar to what you hear in the stands. Speaking from experience, both within a race car and as a track side marshal, what you're getting on the broadcast is a relatively good representation of those experiences. Obviously, volume limited for the audience's hearing protection. In the stands, you've getting direct and reflected sound from all of the cars - in car, motor and wind noise are the primary sounds.
  5. KeithEmo
    Just to sort of summarize what a few others have already said.

    In general, you usually don't get to hear "exactly what the real thing was like", and you probably wouldn't want to.

    What you get to hear is a carefully crafted version of a combination of "what the producer or artist wanted you to hear" and "what the recording engineer believes most people in the audience will believe sounds like it should". A real gunshot, in an enclosed room, without hearing protection, is usually so loud it makes your ears ring, and affects your hearing for some time... so what you hear when a gun is fired on a TV show is really "what most people expect a gunshot to sound like"... adjusted to avoid exceeding any safety regulations or making the listener actually uncomfortable. Likewise, real racing cars are awfully loud, so what you hear is hopefully carefully tweaked to convey "the feeling of really loud engines", but minus the safety issues and levels that would quite possibly damage your hearing or your stereo system or TV. (A real "LASER battle in space" would be incredibly boring... there's no sound at all in a vacuum... and you can't see a LASER beam in a vacuum unless it's pointed directly at you. Therefore, what you see and hear in a movie is a combination of "cool flashing lights and sound effects" and "what most viewers imagine a LASER battle in space would be like". In a documentary, we would like to hope that they do their best to "convey the gist of the actual experience". However, still, nobody wants to have to jam their fingers in their ears when the cars drive by in front of them.)

    Even beyond that, most people want their TV viewing experience to be relatively sedate. MOST viewers want everything at about the same level, so they don't have to get up and adjust the volume during the loud spots or the quiet spots. While there are several systems that do their best to control and level the volume... not all of them are supported by every TV or other piece of gear... so many show producers prefer to just avoid dramatic changes in level entirely.

  6. sander99
    I am confused by this. What exactly do you mean with "If a particular music recording was mixed with say a 3dB hump in the bass", do you mean that the 3 dB hump was only in the monitor system that the engineer was using during mixing and not in the resulting sound track, or do you mean that the 3 dB hump was actually in the resulting sound track? The way you say it makes one think the latter, but if that is the case and you play it back on a system that has the same 3 dB hump in its freq response it would add up to a 6 dB hump in total, wouldn't it?
    TheSonicTruth likes this.
  7. TheSonicTruth
    smh! No WONDER the first comment made by so many survivors and witnesses to the recent spate of mass shootings is "I thought it was fire crackers"!

    Because they are conditioned to the MUSHY CRAP that passes for gunfire on TV or in movies.. "BSHHH - BSHHH - BSHHH!!"

    I actually think that this is a public safety issue - people out at the mall, or in school, or wherever some nut decides to off-load a few thousand rounds - don't even know what real gunfire sounds like! It's more of a POP-POP-POP if being fired rapidly, as from a six-gun.
  8. TheSonicTruth
    Thank you!!!

    For me, personally, a playback system with a 'hump' anywhere on the spectrum is akin to the windows in my house all being tinted a certain color - distorting the view of what I see through them.
  9. gregorio
    1. And notice I said; required specifications and legal requirements! Do I follow what some misinformed person, with no knowledge or experience thinks he wants or do I follow the specifications and legal requirements (and keep my job)? Not a tough choice for anyone with a rational mind!

    2. This loudness paradigm has only existed for about a decade and only started becoming a delivery specification/legal requirement about 7 years ago. So whatever it is that you're talking about (presumably the loudness war in popular music), it's got nothing to do with the loudness paradigm in TV!!

    It's only in the monitoring chain and therefore what's in the track is the inverse. When the producer/musicians get the balance they want, the track would contain 3dB lower bass, corresponding to the 3dB raised bass in the monitoring system. On playback, a similar 3dB raised bass (to the studio's 3dB raised bass) will give the correct balance/higher fidelity, while a flat reproduction would result in 3dB too little bass (and therefore lower fidelity).

    We've already determined and you've already admitted that you don't know what the undistorted view should be. You thought the "real" sounded fake and the fake sounded real! A slightly raised bass on most consumer music reproduction systems would, according to your analogy, be like adding an inverse distortion to your window, to counteract the distorted view of what you're seeing (but are apparently unaware of)! @bigshot was correct, it's functionally the same as the RIAA curve.


    Edit: KeithEmo was also correct, people watch the TV for leisure/entertainment, they want a comfortable dynamic range, which is nowhere near the physical limits of human hearing (the pain threshold). The new loudness paradigm provides for a larger dynamic range than previously (up to 20dB LRA) and this is already beyond the comfort limits of many consumers' listening conditions!
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  10. TheSonicTruth
    So based upon what you were saying earlier - about 3dB humps - am I incorrect in leaving my tone controls flat during playback?
  11. TheSonicTruth
    Yes, the music loudness war - that paradigm. Not 1770 or EBU-r128, etc.

    And if you think the over-compression and makeup practices of that war were confined solely to recorded music, then it is you who are living in a fantasy world. Remember TV commercials so much louder than the program they occurred during? That was part of the reason for the development of the loudness standards I referred to, above.
  12. analogsurviver
    I have no idea how the actual bullet fired towards you sounds like. But based on the speeds of modern guns, it is most likely you will never hear the one to hit you - because they travel mostly faster than the sound in air. You might catch a muzzle fire blaze - or puff of smoke - with your eyes; and try to throw yourself to the ground and/or behind whatever shelter might be around. If the shooter is at large enough distance, you even might escape; if close(r) by and his aim is true ...

    One of the better movies regarding the bullets/explosions is Das Boot - with re-recorded sound in the Director Cut version. I have to admit I ducked a few times - while listening with baby Stax in ear system. As noted above, I have yet to experience real live ammunition fire aimed at me and therefore can not comment how autechnic sounding Das Boot acually is ; but it is damn convincing and frightening, when the story plot in the movie demands it. Baby Stax is capable of 114 dB SPL - although most probably likely less than the real thing, it does have an extremely fast and ringing free pulse response ( better than the larger normal sized Stax models, which are again likely to be better than most, but not all, dynamic models ) - therefore it can sound extremely convincing.

    Any explosion is likely to produce sound not only in officially audible ( up to 20 kHz ) range, but also far above that frequency. So, a shot from any barreled weapon is among the first candidates to test the realism of the reproduction achievable. You know what follows... - recording has to catch > 20 kHz and gear downstream also has to be able to reproduce it - if it is to sound truly realistic.
  13. TheSonicTruth
    I thought that part of what standards such as R128 and BU-1770 were designed to do was reduce inconsistencies between program segments - actual program, commercials, other broadcast material, and also reduce volume level differences from one channel to the next.

    Before that, peak-based metering was the norm in digital production, and volumes - between segments on the same channel, and when switching between channels, was all over the place.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  14. gregorio
    You seem to be missing the point: If you leave your bass and treble knobs flat, you will not be getting "flat", you will be getting whatever curve the HP designers have implemented or whatever curve the speaker manufacturer has implemented, plus the effects of your listening room acoustics.

    The paradigm of TV changed to a system (set of specifications) based on perceived loudness, as opposed to the previous paradigm which was a set of specifications based on levels. The music industry does not have any specifications, is constrained only by the ultimate physical level limits of the distribution media and this paradigm has never changed!

    The world I'm living in is the world of a professional engineer, who's worked in the TV/film industry for about 25 years, for many major networks and international distribution. What's your world, what education, knowledge and experience do you have, have you ever even been in a TV mix/dubbing suite, let alone actually used one? To the rational mind, there's only one answer to who is living in a fantasy world and therefore all you're doing is demonstrating that you do not have a rational mind!

    What, you mean you're not sure exactly what it is and what it's for? And you're arguing about it with someone who has to implement and comply with it daily, for a living? ... Which of us is living in a fantasy world?

    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  15. castleofargh Contributor
    I remember the dreadful years with ads being massively processed to sound loud, coming in the middle of some old movie where the perceived levels of conversations were a good 20dB below, sometimes probably more. I cannot understand how it took so many years for laws(or just common sense from the TV stations) to do something about it.
    TheSonicTruth likes this.
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