What causes a "veiled" sound?
Dec 6, 2016 at 9:07 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

alffla

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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Hey sound science forum! Have yet another question for the good folks here.[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]I enjoying trying all sorts of in ear earphones for the sake of review, and don't limit myself to just the most hyped and expensive products - there's a lot of fun to be had in trying to find the best budget and Chi-Fi products too![/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]I try to be as descriptive as possible in my reviews but at the same time I highly respect the science too, and thus I try to incorporate more descriptive and less flowery language when I review. However, there's always been one thing that I don't know the cause/source of. [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Some gear just sounds like there is a "veil" covering everything - I'm currently reviewing the Meze 12 Classics earphones, and when I demoed the newest Sony Z1R cans I also experienced this sort of "veiled" sound which I really find bad sounding. I also often experience this veil when trying out cheap earphones and don't know how to explain it. It's not "muddy" in that its just really boosted bass with a slow decay, its just this sense that there's a lack of overall clarity in the sound like its...grainy or something.[/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Is it just merely a tuning that has boosted lower mids with rolled off highs or something that i'm not used to? Or is this 'veiled' sound a sign of distortion or some sort of strange resonance related issue? What should I attribute this to? [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)][/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Sadly I only have a Vibro Veritas and am not sure if I will be able to take accurate measurements that mean much to find out the source of this issue.[/color]
 
Dec 6, 2016 at 10:20 PM Post #2 of 12

Zaph

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Probably harmonic distortion, likely low even orders. (2nd, 4th order and so on)  This is a type of distortion that is more common to softer and more flexible diaphragms of a curved design.  Also common to lower end drive motors with non symmetrical flux fields.
 
This type of distortion isn't really annoying like some other types but you can tell it's just not accurate.  Is that what you might hear?
 
Veiled is one of those words that is difficult to objectify.  To some it could just mean a depression in the upper midrange.
 
Dec 7, 2016 at 6:52 PM Post #3 of 12

castleofargh

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I'd still bet it's a frequency response thing, and maybe you can fool around with an EQ and try to find if boosting or lowering specific areas changes that feeling of "veil". it usually does, up to a certain point.
 
real strong distortions of course could be perceived and provide a vast range of impressions depending on quantity, order, and the frequency where they are the most virulent. but those will manifest as quiet sounds in the music, while signature impacts the sound even at the loudest levels. without more information and measurements, FR while not the only candidate, still seems like the more likely one.
 
Dec 8, 2016 at 1:54 AM Post #4 of 12

alffla

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  Probably harmonic distortion, likely low even orders. (2nd, 4th order and so on)  This is a type of distortion that is more common to softer and more flexible diaphragms of a curved design.  Also common to lower end drive motors with non symmetrical flux fields.
 
This type of distortion isn't really annoying like some other types but you can tell it's just not accurate.  Is that what you might hear?
 
Veiled is one of those words that is difficult to objectify.  To some it could just mean a depression in the upper midrange.

 
 
  I'd still bet it's a frequency response thing, and maybe you can fool around with an EQ and try to find if boosting or lowering specific areas changes that feeling of "veil". it usually does, up to a certain point.
 
real strong distortions of course could be perceived and provide a vast range of impressions depending on quantity, order, and the frequency where they are the most virulent. but those will manifest as quiet sounds in the music, while signature impacts the sound even at the loudest levels. without more information and measurements, FR while not the only candidate, still seems like the more likely one.

 
As with the case with many situations...it seems to be a bit of both. I played with the limited EQ on my Android phone (only 5band lol) on the way to work this morning and managed to get a more preferable sound out of it, but even then it seems like things were still really congested and grainy, potentially caused by a low quality driver. Will do some FR measurements tonight to get more accurate EQing !
 
Dec 8, 2016 at 12:27 PM Post #5 of 12

Headzone

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Sounds like jitter from your crappy cellphone dac.. Also a bad amplifier can cause this kind of veiled sound. I think the veiling you are referring is not related to high frequencies, but veiled (SLOW) transient delivery. Good gear has a sharp sound. I personally dont' think digital can reach the clarity of analog equipment.

 
A good amp can make bad quality hp's manageable. http://www.edn.com/design/consumer/4423155/Loudspeaker-operation--The-superiority-of-current-drive-over-voltage-drive
 
Another good read is why tube amplifiers sound better? http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/vendors-bazaar/157787-secret-tube-amplifiers-revealed-much-more.html
 
These articles are written for loudspeakers, but they are all moving coils with an electrical motor so..
 
Dec 8, 2016 at 3:29 PM Post #6 of 12

castleofargh

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  Sounds like jitter from your crappy cellphone dac.. Also a bad amplifier can cause this kind of veiled sound. I think the veiling you are referring is not related to high frequencies, but veiled (SLOW) transient delivery. Good gear has a sharp sound. I personally dont' think digital can reach the clarity of analog equipment.

 
A good amp can make bad quality hp's manageable. http://www.edn.com/design/consumer/4423155/Loudspeaker-operation--The-superiority-of-current-drive-over-voltage-drive
 
Another good read is why tube amplifiers sound better? http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/vendors-bazaar/157787-secret-tube-amplifiers-revealed-much-more.html
 
These articles are written for loudspeakers, but they are all moving coils with an electrical motor so..

so much is wrong hand waving statements here. 
-jitter. just because the huge timing variations of analog recording and playback systems respond to some kind of periodicity and are labeled with another name, it doesn't hide the fact that any and all timing controls are better handled by digital recording/playback devices.
 
-if you had bothered reading OP's question, you'd see that his feeling of veil is related to the headphone/earphone he's using. so while not impossible, answering that the cause is the source, seems like quite the reasoning shortcut.
 
-of course stuff that may or may not be generally true for speakers don't automatically apply to headphone. the power requirements are in average way too different, just like the load the amp has to drive. only a few IEMs may reach as low an impedance as speakers. so there are plenty of designs that will very obviously not be the best choice on both speaker and headphones and your argument is flawed. the simple fact that we're not all using speaker amps to drive our headphones should make that pretty clear.
 
Dec 8, 2016 at 3:55 PM Post #7 of 12

DoctaCosmos

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im not an audio engineer but from simple trial and error I find it to be the cone or dome material. Paper cones tend to have a good texture but in the highs the paper carries over to the timbre of the isntrument and veils what the voicecoil material is capable of achieving. Also I feel that if a cone material and the headphone limits distortial well you will hear any impurities in the voicecoil such as scratchy or grainy. There's always the frequency response too. you can have a perfectly flat frequency response i the highs and it can sound brighter than a headphone with a veiled highs with peaks.
 
Dec 8, 2016 at 4:24 PM Post #8 of 12

Headzone

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  so much is wrong hand waving statements here. 
-jitter. just because the huge timing variations of analog recording and playback systems respond to some kind of periodicity and are labeled with another name, it doesn't hide the fact that any and all timing controls are better handled by digital recording/playback devices.
 
-if you had bothered reading OP's question, you'd see that his feeling of veil is related to the headphone/earphone he's using. so while not impossible, answering that the cause is the source, seems like quite the reasoning shortcut.
 
-of course stuff that may or may not be generally true for speakers don't automatically apply to headphone. the power requirements are in average way too different, just like the load the amp has to drive. only a few IEMs may reach as low an impedance as speakers. so there are plenty of designs that will very obviously not be the best choice on both speaker and headphones and your argument is flawed. the simple fact that we're not all using speaker amps to drive our headphones should make that pretty clear.

One day I thought my headphones sounded veiled. Until I realized, that they were actually so accurate, to be capable of revealing that my source sounds very veiled!
 
such amplifier exists in Apogee Groove, for example. Also, you get what you pay for. If you buy a cellphone, don't expect it to put out DSD audio quality, it probably wasn't meant for that.
 
Btw, didn't people have pretty good results somewhere, using balanced headphone amp with HD600, for treating the veil problem?
 
Dec 11, 2016 at 6:29 AM Post #10 of 12

gregorio

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  [1] such amplifier exists in Apogee Groove, for example. [2] Also, you get what you pay for. [3] If you buy a cellphone, don't expect it to put out DSD audio quality ...

 
1. It also exists in countless other amplifiers, why mention the Apogee, are you trying to sell something?
2. That's patently untrue! Even just the relatively few dollars worth of say DAC components in a typical smartphone will produce jitter way below audibility and will audibly perform perfectly. Particularly with audiophile products, there's commonly little or no correlation between price and audible performance!
3. Why?
 
Maybe you're a shill or maybe you actually believe what you're saying but either way, your response is inappropriate. If the OP wanted to be shill'ed or wanted a recounting of the standard audiophile myths, then presumable s/he would have posted their question in one of the many other forums on head-fi dedicated to that type information. The fact they instead chose to ask their question here, in the science forum, indicates they are actually looking for some fact based answers rather than just some subjective audiophile myths.
 
OP: It's not possible to give a precise answer because "veiled" is a pretty vague, subjective term. Depending on exactly what you mean, there could be a range of causes; compression (audio or data compression), impedance mismatch or phase, crosstalk, etc. I agree with castleofargh though, it's most likely a FR issue and although it depends on what's causing it, EQ is the most likely cause. If you hadn't explicitly stated that it's not the "muddiness" caused by too much bass (level and/or decay), I'd be even more confident that it's a FR issued solvable with EQ. Even so, I'd say EQ was still worth a go, try; boosting the mid/mid highs, somewhere between 1kHz - 6kHz and/or reducing the higher bass, somewhere between about 100Hz - 400Hz.
 
Let us know how you got on or if you have any more precise observations of the problem.
 
G
 
Dec 11, 2016 at 11:34 AM Post #11 of 12

alffla

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Hi all! Back with some amateur measurements.
 
This is the FR I got from the Meze 12 Classics:
 

 
I guess it's a very heavy upper bass - mids bump that I'm not used to. Below is the kind of IEM FR that i enjoy much more (sorry for inconsistent range and stuff lol) :
 


 

Like I said in the previous post, EQing the 1-2k range down made it more enjoyable for me. But i think there is also some distortion thats making it sound still a little 'grainy' and 'congested'. Sorry for a lack of THD measurements.
 
Dec 14, 2016 at 5:42 AM Post #12 of 12

Joe Bloggs

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http://www.mikfielding.co.uk/EQ_Sound_Frequencies.shtml

I find that often a wide EQ cut centered between 200 and 300Hz improves clarity a lot on muddy / veiled sounding headphones. He (the linked) calls 200-600Hz the "mudrange" for a reason.
 

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