Sub distortion...a good thing? - AVS Forum
Subwoofers, Bass, and Transducers > Sub distortion...a good thing?
Saturn94's Avatar Saturn94 01:20 PM 06-02-2013
I recently read this on Audioholics;
Quote:
.... Higher-order and/or odd-order harmonics have progressively lower allowable distortion limits, as these tend to subjectively be more offensive to the human ear than lower order and/or even-order harmonics. I have personally seen, as far back as the early 1990's from my own research as a subwoofer system designer for Miller & Kreisel Sound, that we often could "tweak" a compressor in such a way where we found the result more musical and pleasing, yet the THD as measured by some very expensive and reliable HP equipment would actually go up as a percentage of the output. In my own personal experience, this was almost always a trade-off for more low harmonics (notably second or third) for less higher harmonics (fourth or higher)....

If I'm reading this correctly, low order sub distortion may actually make the sub sound more pleasing?

I'm currently shopping for a sub and thought the lower the distortion the better, but this seems to indicate that some low order distortion may actually be desirable.

I'd appreciate some feedback from those who know much more about this than me (I know next to nothing about it wink.gif ).

mbfleming's Avatar mbfleming 01:36 PM 06-02-2013
Distortion is bad if you care about fidelity.

I got some good responses to a similar question three years ago:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1299983/the-problem-of-distortion
shadyJ's Avatar shadyJ 02:52 PM 06-02-2013
A lot of good points were made in that thread, it was a pretty good discussion. Josh Ricci also had some interesting comments about distortion about a week ago here. This is why I say that the component distortion charts in subwoofer tests are more important than THD tests. Second Order Harmonic Distortion can comprise a large part of THD tests, but it can hardly even be heard unless it is really bad (even then, it will probably be masked by other sounds being played). A lot of people even prefer the sound of some harmonic distortion. Some subs are mistakenly perceived as more articulate because they are mistakenly producing higher frequency sounds, and since higher frequency sounds are more easily discerned, they are erroneously thought to have more definition.

Everything being equal, I would rather my subs have no distortion, however if I see a moderate amount of lower order harmonic distortion in subwoofer tests, I do not regard that as a big deal.
Bill Fitzmaurice's Avatar Bill Fitzmaurice 03:11 PM 06-02-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturn94 View Post

If I'm reading this correctly, low order sub distortion may actually make the sub sound more pleasing?
Most of what you read there applies to mains, not subs. The main issue with subs with high THD is that the harmonics heard may be well above the nominal sub pass band, and would be directionally locatable.
Saturn94's Avatar Saturn94 03:14 PM 06-02-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbfleming View Post

Distortion is bad if you care about fidelity.

I got some good responses to a similar question three years ago:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1299983/the-problem-of-distortion

Thanks for the link. I'll check out that thread.

I do care about fidelity up to the point where it results in a system I enjoy. However, I'm learning that fidelity doesn't always equal enjoyment. And isn't enjoyment the ultimate goal? wink.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

A lot of good points were made in that thread, it was a pretty good discussion. Josh Ricci also had some interesting comments about distortion about a week ago here. This is why I say that the component distortion charts in subwoofer tests are more important than THD tests. Second Order Harmonic Distortion can comprise a large part of THD tests, but it can hardly even be heard unless it is really bad (even then, it will probably be masked by other sounds being played). A lot of people even prefer the sound of some harmonic distortion. Some subs are mistakenly perceived as more articulate because they are mistakenly producing higher frequency sounds, and since higher frequency sounds are more easily discerned, they are erroneously thought to have more definition.

Everything being equal, I would rather my subs have no distortion, however if I see a moderate amount of lower order harmonic distortion in subwoofer tests, I do not regard that as a big deal.

Thanks for the info. I'm certainly learning things I had no clue about when I bought my current sub (SVS 16-46PC+) ten years ago.
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