Testing for SPEED in IEM's - please participate in my test! [speed-metal / visual-kei / symphonic-metal / instrumental / electric-guitar shredding]
Sep 27, 2010 at 6:05 PM Post #76 of 120
The problem is in placing one number to represent a slew of things.  You want to be specific, which is helpful, but the system being used is generalize, which isn't really helpful.  For example, when I give a value for speed, I can't comment individually on high, medium and low frequencies because the system isn't split up into that detail.  The earphone may vary significantly in these ranges, but I instead have to provide an averaged value, a value that also doesn't indicate which frequencies are limiting the entire presentation.  I am not involved with production, so your terms have no meaning to me.  I do agree that there is a requirement to go into greater detail when discussing hardware.  In order for someone who has not heard a product, they need that in-depth level of detailed information to relate to the way a product sounds, even if only partially. 
Sep 27, 2010 at 8:45 PM Post #77 of 120
right..  I guess the question is more of how to establish a set of terms and their meanings, and then for the community to adopt the vocabulary (and use it properly).  Production people spend years learning the vocabulary and their subtle meanings, and more or less arrive at a surprisingly common understanding of certain features of sound. (which is why the profession works) I guess partially because it boils down to physics and electronics (very measurable), and also because it's vital to leave subjective opinions out when describing something, so as not to tint the description with one's own biases.
From my understanding of sound and how drivers work, I would relate "speed" to the response time of the driver.  The speed that it takes for a driver at position A to reach position B.  This is a meaningful measurement because it translates to good dynamics and also good harmonics reproduction.  
Good dynamics can be replaced with words like "snappiness", "punchiness".  It may also mean going from extremely soft to very loud (dynamic range) but I would think gear in the audiophile range should have no trouble reproducing full range..  
Harmonics is a little more complicated, as it's very similar to just having "clear" upper end.  It's different from just raising the treble on the eq because each instrument / sound has its own harmonics structure.  A recording with great harmonics reproduced on proper gear will retain a very resonant tone, with the sound standing out a lot (great presence, and "sound is right there" feel).  Great harmonics also sounds very "packed", like the sound is very focused, very high in energy.  It's up to the recording engineer to capture it in the first place, and the mixer / mastering engineer to enhance it or retain through the production stage, and then the reproduction medium to faithfully reproduce it.  There are all sorts of tricks to mimic or reproduce good harmonics, but they simply can't achieve the presence and power of a great recording.
Several things make these hard to measure from an end user though.  The problem is that there have been many production techniques invented the past decade or so, that will help less than stellar grade equipment achieve not so bad results. (or at least appear to)  For one, heavy "limiting" seems to help poor equipment perform better.  My theory is that because the drivers are constantly in full motion, it makes them easier to excite rapidly (because they're already in motion)..  this is sort of a fold theory on my part..  but as songs get more and more heavily limited (louder), it seems to sound the same on more reproduction mediums.
As for harmonics, most recordings have been "excited", or have had harmonics injected into them post recording to make them more hot and lively sounding than in real life.  So if it lost a bit of harmonics during reproduction, it would still sound pretty good.  It's not the primary aim of injecting harmonics.  The primary reason is to make the sound pop out at you.
From a more mechanical perspective, speed depends on the amp throughput and the number of drivers.  The more drivers you have, each driver can be in a different position, allowing more faithful reproduction of the material.  Though for each driver you add, there will be a crossover, and chance of introducing phase inconsistency.  And naturally, the drivers need to travel their distance as fast as required by the material, they need power from the amp.  When there is enough juice from the amp, the drivers will be traveling as fast as they can if required, reaching their optimal performing state.
Depending on the nature of the drivers, it also may have trouble slowing down when it needs to.  This would be more related to the material of the driver I think. (apart from electromagnetics)  The tendency for a driver to stay in motion will smear sounds together although the effects may range from audible to "measurable"..  but I sort of doubt anything in the audiophile range will be bad at this.
To really test a driver's performance, it's best to use non limited material (classic recordings, but not movie soundtracks) as they are mostly recorded as is, retaining full dynamics and are recorded to naturally retain all harmonics. (no harmonics boosts)  Pop /rock recordings are useful to test for real life situations, but don't push the equipment to full capacity.  If they did, the difference in quality of reproduction over different grades of gear would be too great.  Part of production is to ensure consistent reproduction.
anyway some stuff may be off if you dig deep, but that's my 2 cents.
Oct 7, 2010 at 2:28 AM Post #78 of 120
Late-night obsessive internet browsing along with the results in this thread have inclined me to the ATH-CK10's as my next purchase.
Sure, $290+shipping from Japan is expensive, however I'd rather satisfy my audio desire than climb an insatiable ladder of mediocrity, which could potentially lead to something worse like credit-cards
  I just want satisfaction and then I can move on to obsessing about something else, like music!

I like everything I've heard about the CK10's, and nothing scares me, I actually quite like a 10Khz peak, my favorite eq settings usually involve lowering the 3khz region and highering the 10khz.
One user (in the "best IEM's for trance" thread) described the ck10's like he's in a car listening to really high quality speakers, that's pretty much the sound I'm after+the intimate feeling you receive from an earphone.
I was listening to trance in a friends car that had invested in some $800 pioneer speaker setup with kevlar tweeters or something and that is pretty much the best experience I've had of trance, I just loved the silky clear highs, I hope the ck10 can provide something like that sound minus the obnoxious sub-woofer impact you can feel a mile away (which I realise is one sound aspect you can't reach in earphones or headphones).
So just to recap, my sound preference is detail, clarity, speed, treble-quality.  My genre preference is classical (baroque, violins, harpsichords), electronic(darkwave, EBM, industrial, synthpop, chiptunes, experimental, IDM etc.), female vocals(Celine Dion, Alison Krauss, a little j-pop) and then rock(alternative rock, garage rock, vintage rock, visual-kei, j-rock, speed-metal etc.), and then some pop and the continous exploration of new music! 

I just have a few quick q's about the ck10's which I'm curious about, perhaps these are naive questions but remember I am new to IEM's =)
1. frequency response 20 - 15000Hz <- - - this is atypically low, I'm still young-ish and can hear up to 20Khz, will I miss out on anything?
2. input max 3mW <- - - this is also low, I'll be using a portable cd player which has stated in the manual "5mW+5mW at 32 Ohm, nominal load 58 Ohm [or something]" could this damage my ck's at max volume?
3. ck10 and k701 comparison <- - -  do these really sound alike?  Apart from being bass-light and having a flat FR I can't imagine anything else sounding alike in these.
Oct 7, 2010 at 3:13 AM Post #79 of 120
p.s. I started this thread for popular review and discussion, not just me trying to find an IEM, I don't want to seem selfish in the above post, just if anyone has experience with the ck10 or a similar music pref. to me then I'll gladly accept their info on my ultimate IEM purchase =) (sub-$400).
Oct 7, 2010 at 12:58 PM Post #81 of 120
The problem is that track is not particularly fast, it doesn't have good instrument separation (placement, space, etc.), and reverb is so so in the sense of echo and noise.  I've got nothing against the song itself, but it may not be the best example to work with here when you want a good tool for measuring the parameters you seek.
It might be advisable to pick a specific track for each trait, something that provides an ideal for each.  For example for drum speed you might start looking at drum solos by Neil Peart, Joey Jordison, Mike Portnoy.  There's a lot really, but you start picking specific drummers known for speed, talent, etc. and pick one good example that might show range, speed, variety, small details that might be hard to reproduce (frequency, speed, decay, etc.).  I would also include some techno here simply because there are songs that have some crazy fast info.  An example is a 6k tone that is chopped like a high pitched kick drum speed run where you might have 50 distinct gaps of that frequency in a second or two.  There's just a lot of weird stuff thought up by artists to push the genre.  Speed and complexity is a big part of it, and it's not always easy for an earphone to reproduce everything.  There is organic complexity like an orchestra that requires a lot of speed to bring out the little details, but there is also synthetic speed that is simply weird ideas brought to life that are unnatural and not always easy to reproduce.  Things like a kick drum simply are very slow in comparison.  Many times an earphone falls short with drums only because it's muddy and lacks control in the lower frequencies, but a product does kind of need to be quite muddy to really start to mess this up.  There are just other sounds that are harder to reproduce. 
For instrument separation I prefer something complex like orchestra, choir, something with a lot of information mixed together.  The ability for an earphone to separate info needs to be stressed.  A good earphone will make the sea of noise into distinct, individual sounds.  For example one I like to use is Sarah Brightman's Fleuers du Mal, available in 1080p on Youtube through AntonyHDVProducer's channel.  It's a choir and orchestra backed up song.  An earphone with excellent separation has the ability to individualize all the singers of the small supporting choir.  The earphone will also be able to individualize the orchestra instruments during a noisy piece.  Having speed and detail will also allow these instruments to retain good articulation and complexity of information.  On lesser earphones, songs like these can just end up being blurred and noisy because of the earphones inability to separate and clearly define sounds.  I also like listening to old school live concerts for this too because you can pick up a lot of the audience.  Part of this has to do with how well the earphone can map out audience placement in a virtual sound stage.  Which direction and how far away is guy A yelling and where is girl B screaming from.  An earphone with better separation will typically include a better sound stage with better placement, distancing, and individuality of the sounds. 
Reverb for me has a lot to do with decay, echo, and just drawn out or delayed info.  I like strings like the cello that's deep and reverburating or large kettle drums that can hold a good ring.  A part of this will also be room echo too, so pieces recorded in open studios, small concert rooms, etc can carry a lot of this echo information.
Oct 8, 2010 at 1:25 AM Post #82 of 120
1.  Synthetic music is faster than natural music, not much discussion is required here.
2.  I-S is a sub-category in this test, 5 woodpeckers in 5 different trees is easier to perceive than 5 woodpeckers in 1 tree.
This track is an unaltered live recording, I can hear the different parts of the drumkit and a distinct seperation between lead and second guitarist.  I can concentrate on one woodpecker at a time.
I'm sure there's much higher quality tracks with 25 woodpeckers like the choir music you mentioned, and that would be perfect for an I-S test, in this instance it's just a sub-category of speed.
3.  Reverb is a difficult one, in this instance I'm only referring to spaciousness, the size of the locale in which the performance is being played, and the ability of the earphones to convey that size.  In brief, "when you close your eyes and pretend the earphones are not there, how large is the space around you?"
The reverberation of an instrument [cello, violin...] or piece of material [drum-kit, window pane, speaker chassis...] is of equally high importance but I'd like to keep that kind of reverb seperate to avoid confusion.
Spaciousness reverb is often present in digital keyboards, music software, and mp3 players and such stuff, the Cowon S9 has pretty good reverb for example, and when you use a good headphone the higher you adjust the reverb the more convincing it sounds, whereas on a bad headphone it just becomes really echo-ey and sounds strange.
Using convolution reverb in foobar is much better quality than the cowon S9 though, and I often use it, so the reverb in a headphone is important to me, real [live recording] and artificial [adjusted by me] =)
More on reverb here:
Oct 8, 2010 at 1:47 AM Post #83 of 120
As far as synthetic music is concerned, a new thread Testing for SPEED in IEM's part II [techno / synthetic] should be created, with a link to a track with
synthetic passages so fast that some earphones can't keep up whatsoever, and some kind of delivery to the listener so the listener knows what they should be looking out for, for instance a passage that gets faster and faster so the listener can feel how the fastest part should sound even if the speakers can't deliver.
In order to make that thread I need my SA-5k's and time to experiment and look for the right track and possibly remix it, I don't have my SA-5k's or that time at the moment, so if someone wants to jump the gun that is fine by me =)
Keep in mind this thread isn't simply testing the ability to hear every note, it's testing attack vs decay and the abilty to perceive every note as it's own island rather than a river of notes.

Oct 8, 2010 at 2:39 AM Post #84 of 120
I agree that the best test for speed should be electronic music. No question about that. The fastest IEM's I have heard in that regard are the DBA-02's. Michael Jackson's music has some really fast low level synth work that most people never even notice. There is some great stuff by Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk and Fischerspooner that can be used to test for speed. That's only a few too and they are not the fastest I have heard either. 
For instrument separation I usually use well recorded binaural music or minimalist mic'd symphonic recordings. For precise, natural imaging, I also would rate the DBA-02's as the best I have heard. If you like an exaggerated presentation (usually better with modern recordings) then the pick would be the Silver Bullets. They take what's there and make it bigger - not a good thing for the test recordings I use but they work wonders on the narrow soundstage of modern recordings.
Reverb is a misleading term. Reverberation is the persistence of a sound once the direct sound has finished (in other words, echo with decay). Using echo as a reference is bad because echo can be faked very convincingly. I think what you want conveyed is the ambiance within a recording - preferably a dry recording. Ambiance is the natural background audio representative of a given location. This includes the "air" or "noise" of the recording location. Ambiance retrieval is among the most difficult things a system can reproduce in a natural manner, be it on speakers, headphones or IEM's although, given the isolation, IEM's and headphones make it a bit easier to hear such detail. My vote for this goes to more than 1 IEM. In the universal arena, I think the DBA-02's are excellent as well as the Shure E3c (surprised?). The SE530, while being a dark IEM, reproduced ambiance rather well IMHO. The Westone 3 is also excellent at extracting detail and ambiance. Bright headphones and IEM's are great at showing details like ambiance and reverb. The trick is balancing the rest of the frequency spectrum so that everything sounds natural!
Just my 2 cents.
Oct 8, 2010 at 3:28 AM Post #85 of 120
LFF ->
Thanks, yes I think "ambience within a recording" is a more concise term than reverb in what I'm trying to convey.
Apart from the one's you mentioned how does the CK10 fare?  That's the IEM I'm considering purchasing very soon, if the DBA-02 has better ambience reproduction I'll reconsider.
It looks like I'll be purchasing a balanced armature 'phone, but I'm curious about a few dynamics as well if anyone has experience with Sony EX700(510/600/1000), JVC FX500/700, Panasonic HJE900 and anything in the Final Audio series which is way above my budget but I could always sell my guitar or something haha.
Oct 8, 2010 at 4:10 AM Post #86 of 120

LFF ->
Thanks, yes I think "ambience within a recording" is a more concise term than reverb in what I'm trying to convey.
Apart from the one's you mentioned how does the CK10 fare?  That's the IEM I'm considering purchasing very soon, if the DBA-02 has better ambience reproduction I'll reconsider.
It looks like I'll be purchasing a balanced armature 'phone, but I'm curious about a few dynamics as well if anyone has experience with Sony EX700(510/600/1000), JVC FX500/700, Panasonic HJE900 and anything in the Final Audio series which is way above my budget but I could always sell my guitar or something haha.

I wish I could give you the comparison you want but I haven't heard the CK10. I do however have experience with a variety of headphones and other IEM's, including customs. See my profile. I honestly feel that out of all the universals I have heard and owned, the DBA-02 is the very best. I haven't heard all of them but I have heard enough to know what I like. I was a big fan of dynamics but the DBA-02 blows them out of the water.
I actually use the DBA-02 to master binaural recordings.
Jun 6, 2011 at 9:33 PM Post #88 of 120
^ beautiful guitar. This thread is just an excuse to push visual kei huh?
lol...I Iove Versailles, I'd test my K271 and HD560 with your test but am not really satisfied with the youtube videos sq and feel it wouldn't be fair to test it with the L-PCM from the concert DVD

If you just want to hear somthing beautiful you should check out this live Malice Mizer song:
AEGEN ~Sugisarishi Kaze to Tomo ni  LIVE
The live version is beautiful, in the original CD track the guitars play through to the end; in the live they cut off and Gackt sings slower. The result is quite powerful.
Sadly my DVD ISO clips around 1 minute 30 seconds into aegen, my favorite song...


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