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Subjectiveness.....

Geordie

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I was browsing headfi today when I saw a post which made me think, people just hear what they want to hear, and not what things actually sounds like. Its not the first time mind. The post in question this person claimed one component was "darker" than another. They happenned to be two components that I've had extensive experience with on multiple occaisions. His experience was the exact opposite to mine, and yet, I cannot see how he came to his conclusion.

Also, although they are not online now, both of these products had freq. response charts on the internet, and it backed up what I had heard.

So why did this guy say this? He's just plain wrong, IMO. I didnt bother replying to this effect, because 1 it was an old thread and 2 because its not worth the bother. I know that audio is very subjective, but some things are just plain wrong. Its like me trying to persuade someone that the background colour of this forum is black, not white!

Its a bit like the people who try and tell me that MP3 has no bass when I listen to it all the time, and that is clearly not my experience of it at all.

What is it about hifi that makes people hear what they want to hear, and not what is actually coming out of their speakers?

 
G

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Some people have better hearing than others:D. Seriously Paul i think we hear differently. Some people have a higher tolereance to high frequency and low frequency. Damned if i know what the real differences are btween people but they are there. Why do people like certain types of music. I hear classical and most of the time i want to throw up. But millions of people like it. I listen to Radiohead and hear the melodic beauty and dark comedy inherent. Others listen to it and want to slash their wrists. That's why science and music are very strange bedfellows. You need science which is a discipline to listen to music which is subjective. Funny old world innit;)

 

Davewhityetagain

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Jul 24, 2005
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Its a bit like the people who try and tell me that MP3 has no bass when I listen to it all the time, and that is clearly not my experience of it at all.
Where as I would say MP3 has no bass at all

Its correct what you say about Subjectivness, but I would add to that we also all define things in a different way

and in what context they are said.............. for example My speakers do bass big time by most standards

but even I when talking about Quad 57s would not say they lack bass
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Geordie

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Duvet, I can understand what your saying about people hearing differently, but when someone says at x sounds brighter than y, even when I hear different, and freq charts show me that what I hear seems to be correct, I just cannot understand how someones hearing can mess up sound that much. High frequency energy is either there, or it isnt. How someone can hear more high end energy in something over something else when measurements prove otherwise baffles me.

Dave, without wanting to get into an argument about MP3, I cant see how anyone can say it lacks bass. I can clearly hear bass from my MP3s and there is little, if not no difference against the original. If it really had no bass, surely nobody would like listening to them, as it would sound completely tinny and awful, but yet I get a nice strong bottom end when I listen to them, so why is that?
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A

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I think there are too many varibles,from the room size,furnishing,to partnering equipment,to speakers,it then becomes very dificult for two people to report the same thing.It would be more intersting if people were in the same room,hearing the same thing,then totalling diagreeing,it doesn't suprise me at all people find different results when the chain and infrastucture is different.

 

Geordie

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True, but in this particular case, we can rule out the room, because it was headphones being talked about. Also, I assume that he tested them on similar equipment... I did, but have also tried them on other equipment, and the overall result was the same. The headphones always had the final say on the sound.

 

hifikrazy

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182-Geordie wrote:

Duvet, I can understand what your saying about people hearing differently, but when someone says at x sounds brighter than y, even when I hear different, and freq charts show me that what I hear seems to be correct, I just cannot understand how someones hearing can mess up sound that much. High frequency energy is either there, or it isnt. How someone can hear more high end energy in something over something else when measurements prove otherwise baffles me.
Because everyones hearing response (ie their hearing response curve if you like) is different at different frequencies (as well as some peoples hearing is just better than others, why people have such a hard time accepting this is beyond me) and also hearing is not solely a function of the ear, ie a physical property but also depends upon the brains interpretation of what it receives.

For example I am more senstive to higher frequencies than most people. When i first got into hifi, stuff that most people described as good made my ears bleed (mission speakers for example), i just couldnt listen to it. I havent been to too many concerts/gigs either because the first one i went to was actually painful for me there was so much high frequency hash (and i suspect that one concert may have v slightly damaged my hearing in one ear), i had ringing in my ears for 4/5 days, whereas everyone i went with had it for a day or so.

As for people hearing what the want to hear, this applies to everything in life. Very few people are actually any good at being truly objective about pretty much anything, but lots of people think they are. Weird isnt it.
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wolfgang

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Jul 29, 2005
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182-Geordie wrote:

What is it about hifi that makes people hear what they want to hear, and not what is actually coming out of their speakers?
It is what we do.

Show people 2 powercords ........ then ask them to describe what are differences ........ but unknown to then they have actually listen to the same powercords twice.

Nothing mysterious. It is prefectly normal.

 

Kiang

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hifikrazy wrote:

182-Geordie wrote:
Duvet, I can understand what your saying about people hearing differently, but when someone says at x sounds brighter than y, even when I hear different, and freq charts show me that what I hear seems to be correct, I just cannot understand how someones hearing can mess up sound that much. High frequency energy is either there, or it isnt. How someone can hear more high end energy in something over something else when measurements prove otherwise baffles me.
Because everyones hearing response (ie their hearing response curve if you like) is different at different frequencies (as well as some peoples hearing is just better than others, why people have such a hard time accepting this is beyond me) and also hearing is not solely a function of the ear, ie a physical property but also depends upon the brains interpretation of what it receives.

For example I am more senstive to higher frequencies than most people. When i first got into hifi, stuff that most people described as good made my ears bleed (mission speakers for example), i just couldnt listen to it. I havent been to too many concerts/gigs either because the first one i went to was actually painful for me there was so much high frequency hash (and i suspect that one concert may have v slightly damaged my hearing in one ear), i had ringing in my ears for 4/5 days, whereas everyone i went with had it for a day or so.

As for people hearing what the want to hear, this applies to everything in life. Very few people are actually any good at being truly objective about pretty much anything, but lots of people think they are. Weird isnt it.
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is that your subjective view ?
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Tiggi

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Agree with most of the above. One other factor worthy of consideration is language. Each of us experience events, things, abstracts (IMO sound is an abstract) which are identical, but process these experiences slightly differently: Some people will describe something as having "Looked like .........", whilst others will use "Sounded like.......", and others "Felt like......"

The crunch comes when we don't all share the same vocabulary to describe experiences. This is particularly pertinent when trying to describe an abstract such as sound. I've been reading about hi-fi for many years, and when I read descriptions of sound including words such as "Bright", "Fast", "Darker" etc, I think I know what the author means, but I might be wrong !!

It's not an easy thing to communicate abstracts, let alone measure them, so whether you favour objectivism, or subjectivism, stick another album on, and have a very cool yule.

 

Geordie

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hifikrazy wrote:

Because everyones hearing response (ie their hearing response curve if you like) is different at different frequencies (as well as some peoples hearing is just better than others, why people have such a hard time accepting this is beyond me) and also hearing is not solely a function of the ear, ie a physical property but also depends upon the brains interpretation of what it receives.

For example I am more senstive to higher frequencies than most people. When i first got into hifi, stuff that most people described as good made my ears bleed (mission speakers for example), i just couldnt listen to it. I havent been to too many concerts/gigs either because the first one i went to was actually painful for me there was so much high frequency hash (and i suspect that one concert may have v slightly damaged my hearing in one ear), i had ringing in my ears for 4/5 days, whereas everyone i went with had it for a day or so.
I know what your saying, lets take your example, you. If x was brighter than y, even if you are sensitive to high frequencies, x is still brighter than y. Just that X might be unbearable to you and not to someone else.

But when most people say x is brighter than y (backed up by measurements) then someone says y is brighter than x, I cannot understand how they reach that conclusion !!!
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hifikrazy

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182-Geordie wrote:

I know what your saying, lets take your example, you. If x was brighter than y, even if you are sensitive to high frequencies, x is still brighter than y. Just that X might be unbearable to you and not to someone else.But when most people say x is brighter than y (backed up by measurements) then someone says y is brighter than x, I cannot understand how they reach that conclusion !!!
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But what measurements are you using to establish if something is bright? ie that x is brighter than y? - a peak around 17khz or something similar perhaps, or rising high freq output? Often with high frequencies it isnt actually the very highest that are the most annoying to most people, if i remember correctly its around 10-12khz for most people - but again everybody is different.

There are other factors as well - ie frequency response is not the only thing that people might associate with bright or harsh etc etc. I guess what im trying to say is that its probably not as straightforward and clear cut as it might seem - and then add in the fact that you already mention about people sometimes hear what they want as well its a wonder any of us ever agree!
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Just out of interest what are the components in question?

 

Hawk

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Jul 25, 2005
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I suspect its a whole mixture of whats already been said, especially the use of terms to describe sound... Setup might also play a part, especially if they managed to wire it up out of phase
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:D

 

Geordie

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hificrazy - the components in question are the Senn HD600 and HD650. Someone claims that the HD600 is darker than the HD650. I've had the 580 in my possesion before (same drivers and indistinguishable sound from HD600), but the 650 is clearly sounding darker and more rolled off than the 600 which sounds relatively clear and brighter in comparison with less bass bloat.

I would regard dark = rolled off in the treble, more bass, less bright.

Bright = emphasis in the upper mids and lower treble - i.e. 6 - 10 KHZ region.

Dave - I'm not wrong. If there was no bass, I would not hear any. I do. I also know the difference between no bass and bass, if I use an EQ, I can kill all the bass, and guess what, it sounds different. I know what bass sounds like
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I hear no difference in bass output between the original and a properly encoded LAME MP3. However, I wouldnt expect anyone on a hifi forum to admit they would agree with that
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mosfet

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Jul 20, 2005
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But what measurements are you using to establish if something is bright? ie that x is brighter than y? - a peak around 17khz or something similar perhaps, or rising high freq output?
If Y is 0dB at 10kHz and X is +3dB then X would subjectively be brighter than Y.

To put this into context the treble controls on hi-fi amplifiers are typically centered at 10kHz with adjustment of plus or minus 6dB. So an increase of +3dB would roughly be equivalent to turning the treble control up one half.

Often with high frequencies it isnt actually the very highest that are the most annoying to most people, if i remember correctly its around 10-12khz for most people - but again everybody is different.
2kHz to 5kHz is the region where things can become grating or uncomfortable. Merely because this is where hearing is most sensitive – and the reason many loudspeakers have a purposefully engineered dip through this region to make them sound smoother.

 

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