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  1. #1
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Audiophile Test!

    I was baited by an "objectivist" on another audio board to *match* my skills with his using an online sound distortion comparator. He considers components that I find can be of value like aftermarket power cords to be unsubstantiated *voodoo*. Alas, that is his loss, not mine.

    For anyone game, here is the link: Distortion comparator

    It requires using your (less than ideal) PC and headphones. I used a bone stock Dell laptop and Shure earbuds. Running on battery of course. The musical selection is not exactly my cup of tea either. In any case, see how you can do. My tempter achieved the -30 db level whereas I was able to go a bit further. What this really illustrates is the value of training and the notion that sometimes we must be told what to listen for. In my teens, I was most fortunate in having three mentors (all audio reviewers) who coached me in such affairs. Of the entire clip, I used only a select two second section to make my determinations.

    Give it a try!



    rw
    Last edited by E-Stat; 03-18-2008 at 02:54 PM.

  2. #2
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Always knew you were a Golden Ear

  3. #3
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Always knew you were a Golden Ear
    In my experience, there really isn't any such thing. I certainly don't claim to have an superior hearing abilities. Gradually with aging, the top range of mine is beginning to roll off around 14k or so.

    As I mentioned, I think it is all about training and long term exposure. I was hoping someone would at least try the link. I'm not saying there is but a single way to hear things, but I suspect that for this exercise, anyone could improve their score with a little coaching as to what they should be listening for.

    When I began to get exposed to better gear in my late teens, I lived for hearing deeper into my favorite music. With some help from more experienced guys, I was able to better appreciate that which is there.

    rw

  4. #4
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    In my experience, there really isn't any such thing. I certainly don't claim to have an superior hearing abilities. Gradually with aging, the top range of mine is beginning to roll off around 14k or so.

    As I mentioned, I think it is all about training and long term exposure. I was hoping someone would at least try the link. I'm not saying there is but a single way to hear things, but I suspect that for this exercise, anyone could improve their score with a little coaching as to what they should be listening for.

    When I began to get exposed to better gear in my late teens, I lived for hearing deeper into my favorite music. With some help from more experienced guys, I was able to better appreciate that which is there.

    rw
    I agree.... I tried the link and the first time got the average score.... I tried it again later with a better idea of what I was listening for (I followed your approach and used only a small portion of the audio - specifically the music and not the vocals)... The second time I substanially improved my score (early 20s - nowhere near 30 or 36 - but much better than my initial 12)...

    The test did raise some intriguing questions for me:

    EDIT: 1) Are distortions in vocals less obvious than distortions in other sounds? And if so, then why?

    2) Since it appears that we can actually train ourselves to become more sensitive to distortions and subtle musical differences (become audiophiles), the question arises of whether it's a goal we should really aim to achieve... I found that when I was listening critically in the test, I wasn't paying any real attention to the song, I was just looking for distortions... Kind of like having a beautiful woman beside you and spending all your time focusing on a small blemish on her ankle....
    Last edited by Ajani; 03-21-2008 at 04:09 AM.

  5. #5
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    ... and used only a small portion of the audio - specifically the music and not the vocals)... The second time I substanially improved my score...
    I found the most telling way was to listen to the guitar. Just after she sings "car", there is a crisp two step transient chord. The more distorted it is, the "fatter" and less crisp they sound. More muddled. At the first three high distortion levels, however, you can tell after hearing the first two seconds.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    1) Are distortions in vocals more obvious than distortions in other sounds?
    In this case, I would say no. I heard very little in the way of harmonic content with Tracy's voice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    2) Since it appears that we can actually train ourselves to become more sensitive to distortions and subtle musical differences (become audiophiles), the question arises of whether it's a goal we should really aim to achieve...
    Not as an end goal, but I find that the ability to find little sonic jewels in musical pieces lends depth to the overall enjoyment.

    Do you have Dido's first album No Angel? There is a neat little synthesized riff that first appears at 0:32, again at 0:43 and repeats a couple of times every three seconds before Dido begins singing. It is a "springy" little sound that goes kinda like "boint".

    rw

  6. #6
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I found the most telling way was to listen to the guitar. Just after she sings "car", there is a crisp two step transient chord. The more distorted it is, the "fatter" and less crisp they sound. More muddled. At the first three high distortion levels, however, you can tell after hearing the first two seconds.
    For the first three, you really don't even need to compare the two audio samples... the distorted ones just sound awful...

    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    In this case, I would say no. I heard very little in the way of harmonic content with Tracy's voice.
    Sorry about that, I meant to type 'less' and not 'more'... I found it easier to hear distortions in the instruments, like the guitar you mentioned, than to hear any in Tracy's voice. Actually, there is another test on that site using just vocals.... it seems to be much more difficult... you should try it out to see if you find vocals more challenging...

    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Not as an end goal, but I find that the ability to find little sonic jewels in musical pieces lends depth to the overall enjoyment.
    I guess a balance between hearing detail that we normally miss and being overly critical of every bit of distortion in the music is the best way to go... The reason I fell in love with Monitor Audio Gold Speakers and to a lesser extent Final Sound Speakers was because they both revealed a few seconds of magic in the opening 30 seconds of Billie Jean... Now anytime I audition speakers, I find myself listening for that magic again.

    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Do you have Dido's first album No Angel? There is a neat little synthesized riff that first appears at 0:32, again at 0:43 and repeats a couple of times every three seconds before Dido begins singing. It is a "springy" little sound that goes kinda like "boint".

    rw
    I have that album. What track does the riff occur on?

  7. #7
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    I guess a balance between hearing detail that we normally miss and being overly critical of every bit of distortion in the music is the best way to go...
    Well, while this test used added distortion, what I normally seek is the opposite - more musical detail!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    I have that album. What track does the riff occur on?
    Duh, that would help wouldn't it? Honestly Ok. Deep in the mix, there's also a strange synthesized vocal sound.

    rw

  8. #8
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    I'll give this a go when the ringing in my ears ceases.. If it does.

  9. #9
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    Thinkin' about changin' mah name....T' Stannic Stapes 'r some such....Hmph.

  10. #10
    Forum Regular Kevio's Avatar
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    I scored -12 dB. I can only take so much of Tracy Chapman so there will be no training regimen or retake for Kevio.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular hifitommy's Avatar
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    i will have to study for the test

    or not. perhaps.
    ...regards...tr

  12. #12
    abNORMal IBSTORMIN's Avatar
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    I disagree E-stat, kind of..

    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    In my experience, there really isn't any such thing. I certainly don't claim to have an superior hearing abilities. Gradually with aging, the top range of mine is beginning to roll off around 14k or so.

    As I mentioned, I think it is all about training and long term exposure. I was hoping someone would at least try the link. I'm not saying there is but a single way to hear things, but I suspect that for this exercise, anyone could improve their score with a little coaching as to what they should be listening for.
    E-stat - I think you have very good ears and you seem to think everyone else does too. A person can be trained to find the differences IF they have ears good enough to hear the differences. My father had a "tin ear" and I have really good ears. You couldn't get my father to tune in a radio that was slightly off station because he couldn't hear the difference. My mother and both my kids have hearing like mine. My wife can't hear differences I can hear although I have trained her to listen for them and she notices them more now. It's the equipment God gave you. I am not trying to brag, got no reason, just speaking from my experiences. I'm 53 and can relate to the higher frequencies slippin away.....but you DO have above average hearing.

  13. #13
    Forum Regular hifitommy's Avatar
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    its true that some people have tin ears

    but mostly so called golden ears are an easily acquired condition IF the wearer of them cares enough to try to hear differences that are pertinent.

    when i started this trek, i could tell speakers sounded different but didnt know what was better. then a friend said to compare the sounds to the real thing and the speaker that came closer to that was the better one. well YEAH.

    also, there is more than just frequency response to hear. dynamics and imaging/soundstaging are other factors to be reckoned with, hence the new popularity of some advanced horn designs (avante garde).
    ...regards...tr

  14. #14
    RGA
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    ESTAT

    I tied you big guy. Although I saved the graph to a word document - I wonder why above my -36db it says 442 and above yours it 884. Did I go back in time? Or do they do a fresh swipe every day.

    I used My Dell XPS M1530 Laptop and ran my $40.00 AKG 26P headphones direct from the headphone outputs.

    I would like to try it a second time, if they allow me to, and use my Senn HD600s with an external DAC/Headphone amp. But since that seemed unfair I just stuck to the headphone out socket.

    How did you save the graph as a picture?

  15. #15
    RGA
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    I would also note that distortion itself is not the key element here because when the dB level dropped I found myself listening to very small segements or parts (transients and decay). Under normal listening we simply don't A/B switch nor do we try an isolate individual elements in this way.

    Probably below about 18dB it would not matter too much for this kind of music. It's fun but I would not read a whole lot into the results. If the piecve of music was just a piano recorded by Opus 3, Reference Recordings, or Chesky it might be possible for everyone here to do a lot better than they did.

    Also, the particular mood your in at the time, how much wax you have in your ears that day, emotional states, patience to go all the way through the session, the familiarity with the music/singer, etc.

  16. #16
    Forum Regular Deadeye's Avatar
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    Talking Who cares what the deaf can't hear?!

    Hi Guy's!

    I've been away for some time and lost my log in and user name so I'm now "Deadeye". I used to be JoeESP9. All this is to say. Those terminally deaf subjectivists are just like creationists. Even when confronted with proof they refuse to believe the truth. I didn't take the test and won't. I'm too old to try to prove myself my ears and my rig to those who either can't hear or just don't know how to really listen.

  17. #17
    Forum Regular hifitommy's Avatar
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    uhOH, sp9 has turned into mtrycraft?

    please dont bore us with measurements. objective testing STILL needs audible substantiation.

    anyway, we have missed you. at least my memories of you are fond. welcome back Kotter! (insert john b sebastian singing theme here).

    yes of course, measurements are a necessity. they dont print them at tas but they are used.
    ...regards...tr

  18. #18
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IBSTORMIN
    E-stat - I think you have very good ears and you seem to think everyone else does too. A person can be trained to find the differences IF they have ears good enough to hear the differences.
    Beyond those with damaged hearing (attended too many 130 db rock concerts or like a friend who used to work on jet engines in the Air Force), I really think it is more a case of *trained* ears, not *good* in some superior sense ears. And equally - whether or not someone really cares. My wife has a nicely trained ear who plays piano and practices her voice. Every once in a while, she'll join me in listening to one of her favorites on the main system, but for the most part - she is disinterested. I ask for her opinion at times and get decidedly non-audiophile responses. I did enjoy her summary after first hearing the Sound Lab speakers. "They're not there."

    Quote Originally Posted by IBSTORMIN
    I'm 53 and can relate to the higher frequencies slippin away.....but you DO have above average hearing.
    I'm 52 and have can still hear about to about 14k. Part of that is because I wear ear protection anytime I use power tools, mow the lawn or go target shooting.

    rw

  19. #19
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    ESTATI tied you big guy. Although I saved the graph to a word document - I wonder why above my -36db it says 442 and above yours it 884. Did I go back in time? Or do they do a fresh swipe every day.
    Cool! You'll note that others do better than us! Honestly, I don't know how their metrics are derived. I took the test last March.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    I used My Dell XPS M1530 Laptop and ran my $40.00 AKG 26P headphones direct from the headphone outputs.
    I used a Dell 820 with Shure earbuds.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    How did you save the graph as a picture?
    Alt-Prt Screen copies image to clipboard. Paste into your favorite image manager software. Then upload.

    rw
    Last edited by E-Stat; 02-15-2009 at 08:14 AM.

  20. #20
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hifitommy
    but mostly so called golden ears are an easily acquired condition IF the wearer of them cares enough to try to hear differences that are pertinent.
    Exactly!

    Quote Originally Posted by hifitommy
    when i started this trek, i could tell speakers sounded different but didnt know what was better.
    I remember being quite embarrassed when I started listening with my reviewer friends at age 18 and honestly could NOT hear the differences they commented on. Fortunately, I spent enough time in those situations and learned what to listen for. Naturally, it helped that one sung in the ASO Chorus and encouraged me to spend more time at the symphony. It was he who got me the *job* of Official Timer for one of the Telarc recordings. It took lots of time for me to really experience their observations.

    rw

  21. #21
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadeye
    Those terminally deaf subjectivists are just like creationists. Even when confronted with proof they refuse to believe the truth.
    Did you really mean "objectivists"? Say, how are the Acoustats?

    rw

  22. #22
    abNORMal IBSTORMIN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Beyond those with damaged hearing (attended too many 130 db rock concerts or like a friend who used to work on jet engines in the Air Force), I really think it is more a case of *trained* ears, not *good* in some superior sense ears. And equally - whether or not someone really cares. My wife has a nicely trained ear who plays piano and practices her voice. Every once in a while, she'll join me in listening to one of her favorites on the main system, but for the most part - she is disinterested. I ask for her opinion at times and get decidedly non-audiophile responses. I did enjoy her summary after first hearing the Sound Lab speakers. "They're not there."
    I think you are confusing interest with skill. I believe it is a combination of "trained" and "good" like everything else in our lives. I have experienced that some people just can't hear details like others, their ears are not "good" and they can't be "trained". I can't hold my hands still enough to be a surgeon but can fix almost anything mechanical because I have skills for that. Our bodies are all different. We all have God given skills we are not interested in developing. Your wife has the skill but no interest in being an "Audiophile". I was tested to have "almost" perfect pitch in grade school. That means my ears are better than some and worse than others. I wanted to play the trumpet and they talked me into playing the french horn instead because my ears were good enough for the instrument. I wish I would have learned the trumpet but that's another story. What about the people on "American Idol" that think they are singing beautifully and we all know better. What do you think their problem is???
    Last edited by IBSTORMIN; 02-15-2009 at 09:05 AM.

  23. #23
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IBSTORMIN
    I think you are confusing interest with skill.
    I was unable to discern fine differences among various audio components when I was a teenager when my hearing was more extended. At the hi-fi shop where I worked in college, we had an alarm that emitted a piercing supersonic whistle (at least to me at the time) through a piezo driver (maybe that's why I hate them!). I was the only one who it bothered. Anyway, It took training by my mentors as to what to listen for and lots of practice. I guess what you're saying is that I also possessed some innate, yet untapped skill. Perhaps. There is always music running in my head.

    Quote Originally Posted by IBSTORMIN
    The best example I can come up with right now are the people on "American Idol" that think they are singing beautifully and we all know better. What do you think their problem is???
    Extreme optimism or tone deafness.

    rw

  24. #24
    abNORMal IBSTORMIN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I was unable to discern fine differences among various audio components when I was a teenager when my hearing was more extended. At the hi-fi shop where I worked in college, we had an alarm that emitted a piercing supersonic whistle (at least to me at the time) through a piezo driver (maybe that's why I hate them!). I was the only one who it bothered. Anyway, It took training by my mentors as to what to listen for and lots of practice. I guess what you're saying is that I also possessed some innate, yet untapped skill. Perhaps. There is always music running in my head.
    You have the skill AND the interest to persue it.
    I can hear the direction of bass, something others say is impossible but I have proven to many non-believers. A skill that required no training. A curse because sub placement is critical.


    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Extreme optimism or tone deafness.
    rw
    NO skill, only interest?

  25. #25
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IBSTORMIN
    I can hear the direction of bass, something others say is impossible but I have proven to many non-believers. A skill that required no training. A curse because sub placement is critical.
    Point taken. I have never been a fan of single subs for the same reason, seemingly no matter what the crossover setting. Back in '76 or so, a reviewer friend used a single 18" Cerwin-Vega sub in a huge cabinet to supplement his Dayton-Wrights. The organ pedal at the end of "Saturn" from The Planets always seemed to come from the right corner.

    Quote Originally Posted by IBSTORMIN
    NO skill, only interest?
    How many of them have any musical training? Here's an example of a female voice that I find difficulty listening to when she speaks - but when she sings, her formal training comes out! My wife turned me onto Wicked a while back. When I first saw Chenoweth in the movie "RV", I never imagined she would be singing with the Metropolitan Opera.

    The Good Witch of the North

    rw

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