Do some audiophiles really prefer flat frequency response?

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by Extremesam, Jun 11, 2018.

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  1. just dave

    just dave vintage rules!

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    The smiley is for taking pics.I've never set an eq like that.
     
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  2. 62caddy

    62caddy Trust but verify Subscriber

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    I couldn't agree more.


    This I would disagree with. Some classical recordings are just plain awful, even boarderline unlistenable in some of the more extreme cases.

    One CD of Mozart piano sontas, they botched terribly. Imagine not being able to mike a single instrument. They must've been too close to the piano because it aggravates my tinnitus horribly, while other piano solo recordings don't have this effect. It's a shame too because it had exactly the works I was looking for on a single CD - performed by one of my favorite Mozart interpreters no less.

    Another CD of woodwind concertos by Crussel, the engineers applied so much bass that in the louder passages are actually distorted - much like an oversaturated tape when the recording levels are set too high. Something was severely out of calibration in the studio that day.

    I've even heard CDs and records with audible 60 Hz hum in the recording! It will appear and disappear between tracks.

    Back in the days of Stereo Review, they'd always critique new releases on the recording quality as well as on the performance itself.​
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  3. woodj

    woodj Super Member

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    But what is the end result; remember there is at least 1 or 2 pieces of gear (which includes room) after the "unit".
     
  4. sdw54

    sdw54 Who? Subscriber

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    :thumbsup: Gotta have a starting point.
     
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  5. JoeESP9

    JoeESP9 ESL's & tubes since 83

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    Stereophile and TAS always critique the recording as well as the performance. The May/June issue of TAS may be worth acquiring as they have a list of 800 quality recordings. The majority are classical. This is an extension of the Harry Pearson Super Disk list.

    All I can say about recording quality is, "if you think some of your classical recordings sound bad you should hear what frequently gets released as a pop/rock/blues recording". The first copy of Sugar Ray 14:59 that I played on my system sounded so bad I thought it was defective. The replacement sounds just as bad. I have a CD single of Soul Quality Quartet. It sounds like a 78 that was used for playing Frisbee with the dog. None of the classical or Jazz recordings I have come anywhere close to being as bad as either of these two. Yes, I have more bad pop/rock/blues recordings.

    As I said, classical listeners know what a given instrument/orchestra is supposed to sound like. Consequently we are very sensitive to recording quality. Even so, there are far fewer bad classical recordings than any other type.

    As a non sequitur, Here in Phila the local PBS station's secondary channel frequently broadcasts concerts by advanced students from the Curtis Institute. Good music and sound and live to boot!

    FWIW: A live piano can sometimes exacerbate my tinnitus. Don't even ask about an organ doing the same. They hold free concerts in Gimbals during the week. They play the Wannamaker organ. The wrong notes or combination of, also sometimes exacerbates my tinnitus.
     
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  6. Audiovet

    Audiovet Well-Known Member

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    Members, Moderator: Promise not to perpetuate this, simply exercising right-to-reply:
    Guess, in a way: :) :) :) :D
    as in having little to do with the subject. (You must then totally abhor the presence of a volume control ... )

    Ergo: Yet again no technical or other explanation as to why "tone controls are bad" - perhaps none possible?

    The OP asked a question, and the 11 odd screen-fuls resulting would seem to indicate that a whole lot of folks do care about what is being used, not just a single opinion.

    Stepping away from further reaction to this, as promised;
    back to topic...
     

     

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  7. Audiovet

    Audiovet Well-Known Member

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    Exactly (as 62caddy said) - plus we have no qualms to correct, even slightly, what we perceive to approach reality in our living rooms.
     
  8. Grenadeslio

    Grenadeslio Super Member

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    Heres a little test for you. Set your equalizer's controls to flat, then switch it into and out of the signal path, there should be no change.

    I've used dbx sound expanders, eq's, etc in the past but always noticed the soundstage was more palpable with them off. One day I tried the above experiment, I subsequently removed all of my eq's and the expander, they were altering the soundstage and not in a good way. Sure I had more bass, more emphasis on the cymbals, but at what expense?

    Less is often more.
     
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  9. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Addicted Member

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    My EQ curve is almost flat, a little less bass and a little more treble. Anything more destroys the tonal quality of the singers voice. It’s just the stated reasoning as to why it needs to be flat that I found.....odd.
     
  10. bimasta

    bimasta Super Member

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    There's a small fallacy in the original question — How do we know if our system really is "flat"? So maybe the question is should we modify the sound (EQ, tone controls, et al) or leave it alone? For me, some recordings sound great as they are. Others suck. For the latter I'll do anything I can to make them sound better. I have a preamp with tone controls, and another with none. The first's tone controls are great; there's no effect on overall sound, except what you want. E.g., one click up on the Treble adds a bit more "tizz" to the cymbals in Jazz, and it's a near perfect recording to begin with. I followed the Audiophile Creed for too long: Total Accuracy to the Recording. But it's only a recording of music, it's not music. I've been to far too many concerts and clubs and heard live Classical, Jazz, Rock, etc, not to know that any recording, played on any system, falls woefully short. My new creed is Accuracy to the Music, and that means the spirit of the music, which defies rules, measurements or technical categorizations.
     
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  11. Beatnik

    Beatnik What's this ?

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    I don't understand why people get so upset over this ?
     
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  12. Beatnik

    Beatnik What's this ?

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    I forgot to mention. Because of this thread and all the others like it I decided last night to toss all my eq's. I also bypassed and tossed all pot's/switches except volume. If I knew how loud they were listening when mastering, I'd do away with that too.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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  13. tom67

    tom67 Active Member

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    I kinda agree, but that generates yet another discussion about what live music is. At concerts, you are listening to someone else's equipment, amplification and idea of how things should sound and rarely only raw instruments in this day and age. Lately, most concerts I have attended including the performing arts centers here in South Florida sucked. I wouldn't own a home stereo if it sounded as bad as half the live music I have heard in my life time. Much of the small venue stuff was ala cheap Peavey guitar amps....
     
  14. Bill Ferris

    Bill Ferris Super Member

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    Well folks, for what it`s worth I`ve read through this whole post/thread, and thought to add my experience in "voicing" , as it`s called on a lot of sound systems, both PA`s and playback, both home and a few recording studio`s control rooms starting back in 1978 using HQ 1/3 octave equalizers where available after buying and reading Don & Carolyn Davice`s Sound System Engineering Book.
    And realized back in 1975 when first purchased the book and understanding the benefits of EQ in "smoothing" out the irregularities in acoustic response of the "properly designed and setup audio system, but had to wait until 1978 to be able to afford my first RTA.
    I and about 98 % of the people, customers/clients agreed that the resultant SQ was much better sounding(though some people like the colored bass room nodes, and don`t like it tuned/voiced out !) when properly gain matched(via the EQ`s level control/s when switching between EQ & no EQ, as all EQ correction was always cut and never boosted, and often during the initial tuning/voicing it was found moving the speakers, sometimes just slightly, helped reduce room modes & nodes.

    For maximum benefit from the voicing, the sound system had to already be able to sound as best as it`s speaker/s quality and room placement would allow, as proper voicing of a well designed and implemented of a audio system can be considered "the icing" on a properly baked cake, at least, that was my take on it, and I never tried to voice flat, but followed the natural roll off of the end`s of the bandwidth of the speakers being EQ`d for the smoothest and most pleasing sound

    When I was employed for two years as a 6 night a week FOH Sound engineer on a 3 month 3 club rotation, and I was told many times, my cobbled together ,3 way bi-amped PA, sounded more like a loud clean stereo with very good SQ, that was consistent from club to club, even though radically different room dimensions, stages, room treatment(acoustics, or lack thereof).

    I also had a 1/3rd octave voiced stereo bi-amp`d system in my apartment at the same time and could readily demonstrate the benefit's of a voiced playback system to clients who were interested in taming their playback system/s frequency response, usually the bands below 500 Hertz showed the most noticeable improvement in most voicing applications..
    I was able to make enough money providing this service to be able to upgrade my crude Shure RTA to a IVIE IE31A class 1 analyzer & pink/white noise generator in 1980, @ a cost of $ 3,500.00 !, but it reduced my audio system voicing time, by at least half, so it started paying for it`s self pretty quickly, as most of the other local bands, if engaged for a length of time, or were a house band could justify the $ 50.00 that I was charging for voicing their PA, plus they often were not aware of problems in their system that I discovered prior to voicing(remember must be a properly baked cake before the icing is applied !)

    One of the benefits of voicing a playback system, was afterwards, any personal tonal voicing desired by the user of the system was easily handled by any mild use of available system tone controls to overcome varying music recording/production tonal differences, if desired, as their use seem to be more effective with less amount of control adjustment than before voicing the system.
    Now for my own personal tastes in playback voicing is to EQ it as smooth as possible and playback known HQ SACD/DDD CD`s and mildly adjust any 1/3rd octave sliders, if needed to make it more to what I might like, and then leave it alone.
    I then accept that not all my music will sound as good as those reference, to me recordings and just accept the great, good, and not the best effort of some earlier recordings, and won`t chase them with tone control adjustment.

    I originally manually 1/3rd octave voiced my Mac tri-amped living room`s system in 2003, after getting the system to sound the best I could before hand, and it took me all day with (7) 1/3rd equalizers to less than +/-2 db, and was so damn glad to upgrade latter on to a HQ electronic crossover(now called loudspeaker management that self electronically aligned both phase and distance the highs to the mids, and then align those to the separate bass cabinet.
    And then I purchased the Integra A/VP with it`s Audessy capability, in which I love it`s DSP super fractional octave and time alignment for the best sound quality that I have heard with my speaker room combination so far in the nearly 30 years that I lived in this house, and I`ve never felt the need to adjust any tone controls(in fact, I have never bothered to try to find out in the menu for accessing the ability to do so ) for various music selections, whether WAV; CD, BluRay Pure Audio, SCAD, etc. sources

    I, and others, prefer the smooth tonal balance of a properly voiced sound system.
    However, to each their own.

    Anyway, sorry about this long winded diatribe folks.
    Carry on and enjoy your music as you see fit.

    Kind regards, OKB
     
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  15. maxhifi

    maxhifi AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I don't use tone controls, or eq, of any sort, I've tried it and never liked how it sounds. The only exception being using some loudness contour with small speakers. The Yamaha variable loudness control works pretty well for waking up small speakers which need a little warmth.
     
  16. restorer-john

    restorer-john Addicted Member

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    This is so true.

    The entire pursuit of high fidelity audio was started, driven, and perfected by classical music listeners, passionate designers and hobbyists.

    Sound reinforcement
    on the other hand was driven by other musical genres, and outright fidelity was not the driving force- sheer level and impact was the goal.

    That said, all types of music have benefited from the developments in high fidelity, but don't kid yourselves, without that obsessive pursuit of perfection from the classical zealots, there would have been no compact disc and digital audio would have taken a decade longer or more to hit the mainstream.
     

     

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  17. 62caddy

    62caddy Trust but verify Subscriber

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    Yup.

    Also, FM broadcasting was usually classical in its early days; mainstream rock/pop etc was always on AM.
     
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  18. jrtrent

    jrtrent Super Member

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    My apologies if this has already been mentioned, but I agree with J. Gordon Holt's article "Down with Flat!":
    https://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/138/index.html
     
  19. restorer-john

    restorer-john Addicted Member

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    I'd say everyone would agree with his article. It is, however, about speakers.

    It is all the stages up until that point (source/DAC/preamplifiers/amplifiers etc) where it is essential to retain relative waveform fidelity and amplitude in a consistent manner.

    There are different approaches and they each have their merits and weaknesses.

    The Bose way: Put crappy speakers in a box and EQ them to be better in the amplifier tape loop. This is just a primitive version of much of the modern DSP driven gear for sale these days which essentially is, fix it up afterwards.

    The Other way: Make the very best speakers you can and use the most ruler flat gear at every step of the chain. This ensure compatibility, flexibility and saleability of various pieces of gear. Combining DSP with top quality gear is where it gets really interesting.
     
  20. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    I personally hear the filtering within my system and the squashing of the range that is within the source material being filtered. If you want a good sounding system it starts with the shortest signal path from source to the speakers, minimal switching and circuitry. The more switches in a system that the signal goes though the more noise thats introduced to that signal. Compound that with circuitry designed to filter frequencies you get a muddy mess, like listening to a system with ear muffs on.

    Technically you can go back to page 4 and read my only post on this matter here.

    Technically you only need a EQ if you have other problems. I prefer to correct the problem instead of masking it. I also said

    "Ask yourself why you don't see a eq in high end equipment setups or even in their product line. Even if they have a few tone controls on some of their equipment generally there will be none on TOTL and flagship equipment."

    Now technically please show otherwise, how about a newish high end home stereo system that has a EQ. Maybe you can show us a current high end manufacturers flagship preamp with a built in EQ or tone controls?
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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