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Author Topic: Funny story - and trust your ears!  (Read 975 times)

George Reiswig

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Funny story - and trust your ears!
« on: September 16, 2020, 10:47:33 am »

I recently bought a pair of DB Tachnologies IG4T speakers from Mike Pyle. Fedex still has one of them, but I got plugged the one I had in, excited to try it out. So I hooked it up to my X32, patched my phone in with some high-res Spotify tracks on it, flattened the EQ on the X32 and...

Boy...this is not the sound I remember hearing when I first auditioned these. Not at all. Tons of high mids, with a really clear peak around 1.5kHz. No low mids at all. So I started tweaking the EQ, trying to trust my ears and not my eyes. I ended up with this very wide dip centered around 2kHz, about 9dB down. And boosting the lows. And it STILL doesn't sound right!

Maybe it's my ears, but I feel like I'm fighting something here. I continued trying, and adjusted my position relative to the speaker a lot. Tried putting it up on a stick, near a wall, etc. Nope...still sounds pretty much like a bad midrange horn going solo. Maybe the speaker is broken, or the DSP isn't working right? I spent a bunch of time fiddling with the speaker's DSP settings, trying to figure out what was going on. Nothing seemed to help.So I broke out my trusty DSR112 and plugged it in. Similar sound! Something is wrong here.

That's when the light bulb went on: last time I was on a plane was the last time I'd used Spotify on this device. And that was also the first time I'd tried a friend's set of Denon bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones. They required a lot of EQ in Spotify to make music tolerable. You guessed it: boosting the mids, lowering the lows. I hadn't turned off Spotify's EQ since then on that device.

I killed the EQ in Spotify, flattened the X32 EQ again, and voila! That's what I remembered! I know it's good to be skeptical, but I swear I've been bitten by my failure to trust my ears and my instincts way too many times for someone my age.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Funny story - and trust your ears!
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2020, 02:30:18 pm »

I recently bought a pair of DB Tachnologies IG4T speakers from Mike Pyle. Fedex still has one of them, but I got plugged the one I had in, excited to try it out. So I hooked it up to my X32, patched my phone in with some high-res Spotify tracks on it, flattened the EQ on the X32 and...

Boy...this is not the sound I remember hearing when I first auditioned these. Not at all. Tons of high mids, with a really clear peak around 1.5kHz. No low mids at all. So I started tweaking the EQ, trying to trust my ears and not my eyes. I ended up with this very wide dip centered around 2kHz, about 9dB down. And boosting the lows. And it STILL doesn't sound right!

Maybe it's my ears, but I feel like I'm fighting something here. I continued trying, and adjusted my position relative to the speaker a lot. Tried putting it up on a stick, near a wall, etc. Nope...still sounds pretty much like a bad midrange horn going solo. Maybe the speaker is broken, or the DSP isn't working right? I spent a bunch of time fiddling with the speaker's DSP settings, trying to figure out what was going on. Nothing seemed to help.So I broke out my trusty DSR112 and plugged it in. Similar sound! Something is wrong here.

That's when the light bulb went on: last time I was on a plane was the last time I'd used Spotify on this device. And that was also the first time I'd tried a friend's set of Denon bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones. They required a lot of EQ in Spotify to make music tolerable. You guessed it: boosting the mids, lowering the lows. I hadn't turned off Spotify's EQ since then on that device.

I killed the EQ in Spotify, flattened the X32 EQ again, and voila! That's what I remembered! I know it's good to be skeptical, but I swear I've been bitten by my failure to trust my ears and my instincts way too many times for someone my age.
That is familiar when using "computer" devices for playback.  I have run into it on computers, ipod type devices etc.

It can make to try to "fix" things and chase your tail, when actually nothing is wrong.

I have seen some very seasoned audio guys get fooled and chase the wrong thing.

Of course the best thing to do is to actually MEASURE first.  That will show up all kinds of things.

In one case, a customer was complaining that one side of the PA sounded different (this was an install).  He figured that he had different versions of the cabinet, despite being consecutive serial numbers.

He had brought in a number of other "audio guys" and they all concluded the same thing.

So finally I went there to take a look.  I started to set up my measurement rig, and he asked if I wanted to listen first.  I trusted what he was hearing, but listened anyway, and yes, one side "sounded" different.

I I took a measurement of the left side, and then a measurement of the right side, and they were identical, EXCEPT for the fact that the right side was 2dB louder.

We dug a bit deeper and found the levels in the DSP 2 dB different as well.  Then back to the console, and found that due to some routing issues, the right side had 2dB greater output than the left.

Fixed that, and now both sides sounded the same.

Sometimes little things can cause wrong assumptions.  I have noticed that even a 0.5dB difference in level can make a cabinet appear to sound different.

Measurements can often point out things faster, because they don't have a human mind hearing things, they just report what is actually going on.
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Ivan Beaver
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Frank Koenig

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Re: Funny story - and trust your ears!
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2020, 02:45:10 pm »

Of course the best thing to do is to actually MEASURE first.  That will show up all kinds of things.

Indeed, the corollary to "if it sounds good it is good" is "if it sounds wrong it (almost certainly) is wrong".

On measuring in these situations, it is very useful to have a recording of a test signal, such as known-good pink noise, in a format that the suspect device will play. Bonus points if it's at a known level so that the, sometimes inscrutable, gain scaling down the chain can be checked. The Bink Knowles CD tracks are great for this. They used to be publicly available, don't know about now and if there's any copyright issue.

--Frank
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Funny story - and trust your ears!
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2020, 06:18:43 pm »

Indeed, the corollary to "if it sounds good it is good" is "if it sounds wrong it (almost certainly) is wrong".

On measuring in these situations, it is very useful to have a recording of a test signal, such as known-good pink noise, in a format that the suspect device will play. Bonus points if it's at a known level so that the, sometimes inscrutable, gain scaling down the chain can be checked. The Bink Knowles CD tracks are great for this. They used to be publicly available, don't know about now and if there's any copyright issue.

--Frank

I found my original copy of Bink's test CD the other day, funny you should mention that.
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Don T. Williams

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Re: Funny story - and trust your ears!
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2020, 07:07:47 pm »

I have many HOW clients with Mac Book Pro computers.  They seem to be a HOW standard because of commonly used HOW software  They all would use the headphone out for tracks and background music during services, and would complain that the music always had a weird (what I would describe as hysteresis sounding) distortion, and indeed it did.  Using a inexpensive USB connected DA/AD interface solves the problems.  I no longer trust headphone outputs for any kind of demo or quality audio testing.
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Scott Bolt

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Re: Funny story - and trust your ears!
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2020, 08:20:56 pm »

I recently bought a pair of DB Tachnologies IG4T speakers from Mike Pyle. Fedex still has one of them, but I got plugged the one I had in, excited to try it out. So I hooked it up to my X32, patched my phone in with some high-res Spotify tracks on it, flattened the EQ on the X32 and...

Boy...this is not the sound I remember hearing when I first auditioned these. Not at all. Tons of high mids, with a really clear peak around 1.5kHz. No low mids at all. So I started tweaking the EQ, trying to trust my ears and not my eyes. I ended up with this very wide dip centered around 2kHz, about 9dB down. And boosting the lows. And it STILL doesn't sound right!

Maybe it's my ears, but I feel like I'm fighting something here. I continued trying, and adjusted my position relative to the speaker a lot. Tried putting it up on a stick, near a wall, etc. Nope...still sounds pretty much like a bad midrange horn going solo. Maybe the speaker is broken, or the DSP isn't working right? I spent a bunch of time fiddling with the speaker's DSP settings, trying to figure out what was going on. Nothing seemed to help.So I broke out my trusty DSR112 and plugged it in. Similar sound! Something is wrong here.

That's when the light bulb went on: last time I was on a plane was the last time I'd used Spotify on this device. And that was also the first time I'd tried a friend's set of Denon bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones. They required a lot of EQ in Spotify to make music tolerable. You guessed it: boosting the mids, lowering the lows. I hadn't turned off Spotify's EQ since then on that device.

I killed the EQ in Spotify, flattened the X32 EQ again, and voila! That's what I remembered! I know it's good to be skeptical, but I swear I've been bitten by my failure to trust my ears and my instincts way too many times for someone my age.
Any chance you could do an A/B of your new (congratulations) DB's against your trusty DSR112?  I have a pair of the latter and am curious :)
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Jay Marr

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Re: Funny story - and trust your ears!
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2020, 10:47:15 pm »

I had a similar experience recently.
Long story short - new speakers in my motorcycle.
I ended up adding a DSP unit (because I could not get the system to sound 'good'), downloaded a preset from the manufacturer that is supposed to 'flatten' my speakers.
I plugged my ipod into my system...went for a ride (after a small amount of additional eq'ing via the DSP app).
I'm riding, thinking - I thought this would sound better, but it still sounds so damn narrow and 1 dimensional.  What is going on here??!!
Then I had a light bulb go off - my ipod is set to Mono output (for use with my PA for background music).
Pulled the ipod out, turned of 'Mono' and breathed and there it is...MUCH better.
Felt like an idiot.  I had been wrestling with this problem for a couple weeks.

On a side note - Rockford Fosgate DSP unit - 4 ins / 8 outputs.  All outputs have their own Xover, Delay, Eq.
It's the size of an Apple Airport Express, weighs next to nothing, and costs $250. 
Wish there was a 'mini driverack' like this.
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Russell Ault

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Re: Funny story - and trust your ears!
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2020, 12:20:33 am »

I have many HOW clients with Mac Book Pro computers.  They seem to be a HOW standard because of commonly used HOW software  They all would use the headphone out for tracks and background music during services, and would complain that the music always had a weird (what I would describe as hysteresis sounding) distortion, and indeed it did.  Using a inexpensive USB connected DA/AD interface solves the problems.  I no longer trust headphone outputs for any kind of demo or quality audio testing.

I think it depends greatly on the device; I only buy cell phones with a real 3.5mm headphone jack built in, and basically the only thing I use it for is playing test tracks (and pink noise if wanted).

For the MBP, do you know what kind of cable they were using? I ran into a poor-sounding Mac headphone jack where the culprit was a 3.5mm TRS to 1/4" TS cable wired as a left-right wye (i.e. a passive "sum" but without any summing circuitry). I swapped over to an actual stereo DI (i.e. something that wasn't forcing the L and R headphone outputs to try and drive each other as inputs) and suddenly things sounded pretty darned linear.

-Russ
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MikeHarris

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Re: Funny story - and trust your ears!
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2020, 01:51:34 am »

moving further upstream i find that auditioning either 120db+ pa systems or studio monitors using the headphone output of a laptop is not a valid demo.
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John L Nobile

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Re: Funny story - and trust your ears!
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2020, 10:49:01 am »

I have many HOW clients with Mac Book Pro computers.  They seem to be a HOW standard because of commonly used HOW software  They all would use the headphone out for tracks and background music during services, and would complain that the music always had a weird (what I would describe as hysteresis sounding) distortion, and indeed it did.  Using a inexpensive USB connected DA/AD interface solves the problems.  I no longer trust headphone outputs for any kind of demo or quality audio testing.

I've never recommended using a headphone out on a computer. In the 80's and 90's it was because of letting an external converter do the digital to analog conversion to save processing power on the CPU. Later it just didn't sound right to have conversion happen inside a noisy environment like a computer. And you have to question the quality of a D/A in a computer where they try to save every penny to compete with the latest Acer type of offering.

I did use the headphone out on an Apple 7600 in the early 90's. My Digidesign card only offered 2 outputs and I needed more. The was a huge difference between the quality of them.
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Funny story - and trust your ears!
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2020, 10:49:01 am »


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