Jump to content

How I Learned to Stop Worrying ...


Recommended Posts

Tim the Equaliser


I've given the amplitude response for acoustic music and described in general terms what is done to "sharpen up" commercial recordings. And I think we largely agree on this. Tim's experiments, on axis with headphones, are pretty much what I'd expect to happen if you EQ at those high frequencies.


I'm not so happy with the recommendations of Recording EQ.com because I remember Producers doing this sort of thing when I was on the Pro side and Mastering engineers rolling it all out again because they understood the problems is caused.

Given perfect electronics it probably does none, but a trawl through Stereophile's Amplifier measurements show some bummers. Any amplifier's distortion rises with frequency and most manufacturers quote a mid band figure (1 kHz ) which would be much worse at 10 kHz. High Frequency intermodulation distortion can be a major problem with some amplifiers too. As I've already explained you won't hear anything from your speakers at much over 10 kHz and I may have already said that we tested our present speakers on a variety of golden ears with a 32 kHz sample rate and a brick wall filter at 16 kHz that none were able to detect.


I've been talking to Martin about this one and he's of the opinion that increasing the signal level at high frequencies will not be audible at those frequencies, but it will mix with and intermodulate lower ones. It is this extra distortion you will hear and it will vary depending on the performance of all the equipment in the replay chain. Tim the phone's findings are about what you'd expect and Tim the EQ's experiments where 2 dB is audible require further investigation IMO.


I do hope this makes sense.


Link to comment

I tried to complete the experiment by getting off axis from my Sennheisers, but I seem to have pulled a muscle in my neck.


I think the bottom line with software eq is that, unlike adjusting tone through component upgrades, it is inexpensive (free, even) and easy. Try it. Whatever you hear works for me. For my own part, I had to carefully choose the material boost 9db to hear anything in that 12 - 16khz band, even with the drivers just a few millimeters from my ears. The line between that and inaudible is a fine one.




I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

Link to comment

I'm listening to "Bye Bye Blackbird" off of Miles Davis' "Round About Midnight" (wonderful album!), and the 16k slider in iTunes may as well be a volume control for a mic hanging over the ride cymbal! I can hear the effect with as little as 3 db boost, and I can take it all the way to 12 db with almost no impact on the rest of the track. Of course this is simple, small combo jazz without much to get in that cymbal's sonic space, but it still tells me that this free eq is pretty precise and might be very useful with a bit of practice and experimentation. Makes me want to look for much more capable graphic and parametric software eqs to play with...


Ooo! Oooo! This is even more interesting -- that 12k slider has about half the "volume control" effect of the 8k slider, but while the 12K boost gives it sheen and opens it up a bit (if not taken too far), 8k makes that ride cymbal very hashy and hissy. Reminds me of my ex-wife.




I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

Link to comment

Tim wrote: "I'm listening to "Bye Bye Blackbird" off of Miles Davis' "Round About Midnight" (wonderful album!), and the 16k slider in iTunes may as well be a volume control for a mic hanging over the ride cymbal! I can hear the effect with as little as 3 db boost, and I can take it all the way to 12 db with almost no impact on the rest of the track."


Yup, that is pretty much in line with my experience. Not with this particular song, but with cymbals in general.


Cheers,[br] - Tim

Link to comment

Ash -


Maybe we differ in opinion because I listen to more "produced" recordings than I do of naturally recorded acoustic works?


I know for certain that I can afftect vocal sibilance by adjusting the the EQ in the 8-10KHz range. A few years ago, when I owned speakers that I felt exaggerated sibilance, I went on a small quest to rectify the problem with EQ. As part of the process, I recorded my own voice and ran it through an RTA to see where the "esses" showed up. I did the same with a particularly sibilant recording of a femal vocalist. What I saw in both cases were peaks in the 8-10K range.


I am also certain that can affect the presence and definition of cymbals, chimes and bells by adjusting frequencies above 10KHz, and that this is not auduble due to intermodulation distortion. I've verified this by measuring the output of my preamp with a filter at 13KHz in place, and also measuring the output of my speakers with and without the filter in place. Neither test showed an alteration to the amplitude of frequencies below 9KHz (which was dictated by the width of the filter).


But we seem to be going round on this subject, and I feel I have provided all of the "proof" I can on my side, and you on yours. Maybe it's best we just let everyone decide for themselves what works for them by playing with the different bands in the iTunes EQ. ;-)


Cheers,[br] - Tim

Link to comment

For the record, even though I own some rediculously expensive "boutique" gear, I generally agree with everything I've read from you and Tim. I still place speakers and recording quality at the top of the sound quality priority list (then the room); I am an advocate for EQ; and I make most of my own cables with Studio grade wire.


For me, owning nice gear is as much about owning something beautiful and nicely made, as it is about the sound quality. Like owning a nice car. Sure a Honda will get you from point A to point B just fine, but a Porsche is without a doubt a nicer vehicle, and the one I would rather own-- funds permiting.


Truth is, I was probably just as happy with the sound quality of my Denon AVR from a few years back as I am now with my "Classe" separates, but I likes me some audiophile jewelery. ;-) There's a good chance that the Classe does sound better than the Denon, but certainly not by the same magnitude as the price difference would have you believe. I suppose there is a bit of "better safe than sorry" thrown in my decision making process as well. :-)




Cheers,[br] - Tim

Link to comment

iTunes EQ is great.

There is a 'perfect recording' out there somewhere, but none

of us has ever heard it.

Last weekend I turned James Taylor's 'One Man Dog', recorded in

his new 'home studio' in 1972, into something slightly

more pleasant than a typical land-line connection back then.

Life is good.


Link to comment

I was bought up to believe that an English gentleman should buy things of quality but not overt statements of wealth. Now I realise that this applies to anyone with wealth and brains enough to recognise intrinsic worth in something and be able to distinguish it from a "mug's eyeful".


The great problem we face in a culture of celebrity and with enormous wealth in the hands of extremely un-discerning people is that there is a vast array of expensive goods of all types out there that don't stand critical analysis. Hi end more so than much of it.


You can imagine that as a relatively new company in the early nineties, we were very excited by the prospect of examining hi end audio equipment in the hopes that we might learn something. Sadly we did; That much of it was the product of ego rather than serious engineering ability, which ought not to have been a surprise since few hi end companies have mainstream products, as car manufacturers do, to build on. Rolls-Royce and Bentley could not have survived without BMW and VW buying them and the Seraph/Arnage would not have been possible without massive orders from the Sultan of Brunei's corrupt relative (Brother?).


Cambridge Audio has shown just how good properly designed and properly price separates can be and to rub it in, it is sold exclusively by Richer Sounds, an excellent chain of shops known for "bargains" in consumer electronics. The secret is not well kept and a degree of snootiness hasn't protected more expensive brands.


Buyer beware say I


Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...