*Cupping* your ears while listening - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 09-29-2012, 12:06 PM - Thread Starter
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It's an interesting thing - no matter how good a system I've listened to, it sounds better when you put your hands behind your ears to act as reflectors. I don't necessarily making contact with your ears in the traditional way when you're trying to hear something quiet but rather just moving your hands behind your ears. I often find myself going back on forth on my 2 channel systems holding my hands open, vertical, and one to two inches behind my ears. It focuses the sound stage, improves clarity, particularly on the higher frequencies like cymbals, and so on.

FWIW, I have one system based with a Yamaha RX-990, Onkyo CS5VL CDP, Technics SL-QL1, and Celestion DL-8 speakers. The other system is a Marantz PM8004 and Marantz CD6004 CDP along with NHT SuperOnes. Both rooms are pretty flat acoustically.

Anyway, I just find it an interesting thing and think someone in the accessories business should make "Big Ears" - a foam set of reflectors you'd wear like headphones that were positionable behind your ears.

Anyone know what I'm so inelegantly trying to discuss? wink.gif

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post #2 of 32 Old 09-29-2012, 12:54 PM
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I made pair of ear reflectors from a old hat that I bought at Disney World. I only use them when when I wear my tin foil hat. smile.gif

Go for your idea. Get a design and patent. It could your "Pet Rock". tongue.gif
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post #3 of 32 Old 09-29-2012, 03:29 PM - Thread Starter
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As long as I could charge at least a couple large, maybe... biggrin.gif

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post #4 of 32 Old 10-05-2012, 03:44 PM
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what is interesting about this is another fact implicated by this experiment. and something people always forget.
Each persons head, ears, ear canals, sinuses etc ARE different and this is a factor on why people hear sounds different.
Another reason you have to get gear and set up your room on how YOU like it.
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post #5 of 32 Old 10-05-2012, 03:48 PM
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There was this company once that invented a near field music experiance the speakers were about bookshelf size, but mounted just out from the arms of Lazy Boy chairs. ( I don't know if they are still around, saw them at a trade show once, but not again) The experiance was amazing, I am sure this near field experiance eleminated many of the acoustical properties that are happening when you are sitting back in a room getting reflections etc.

And if you are by yourself there is always high quality headphones.
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post #6 of 32 Old 10-07-2012, 06:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSG123 View Post

It's an interesting thing - no matter how good a system I've listened to, it sounds better when you put your hands behind your ears to act as reflectors. I don't necessarily making contact with your ears in the traditional way when you're trying to hear something quiet but rather just moving your hands behind your ears. I often find myself going back on forth on my 2 channel systems holding my hands open, vertical, and one to two inches behind my ears. It focuses the sound stage, improves clarity, particularly on the higher frequencies like cymbals, and so on.

The usual effect of placing one's hands as you seem to be suggesting is an increase in the midrange and lower treble. There are other audible disturbances to your personal HRTF, as well. If you like your music with an increase in the midrange and lower treble, then its good for you. It is however a step away from natural sound.
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post #7 of 32 Old 10-09-2012, 10:56 AM
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I agree with Arny but... I actually enjoy a semi reflected sound with my high backed loveseat that I use for listening. The back of the loveseat reflects just the right amount of sound and it seems about the correct frequencies too that makes for an impressive soundstage. I swear it's like listening with a nice pair of headphones without the bother of headphones!
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post #8 of 32 Old 10-11-2012, 01:45 PM
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It just means you need bigger ears CSG! wink.gifbiggrin.gif

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post #9 of 32 Old 10-15-2012, 06:01 PM
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I think you can already buy these at Disney World smile.gif
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post #10 of 32 Old 10-20-2012, 05:21 PM
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Funny I just came across this thread!..last week while listening to steely Dan. With all the lights off and no distractions ,I cupped my hands behind my ears just as you described and....wow! The soundstage and everything sounded amazing...although I don't really want to do that all the time ,it really made me think about all the money we spend on this hobby and the free tweak by doing this!
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post #11 of 32 Old 10-20-2012, 05:26 PM - Thread Starter
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I was totally serious about this topic and hoped it would generate more serious discussion. It was my stepfather that first introduced me to this phenomenon when I was a kid (I'm 62 now and my hearing is pretty good save for limits at 13-14 kHz and above).

It's a helluva tweak and someone should make $3900 Magic Ears. Or maybe $20 Magic Ears. I only wish I could figure out how to make a pair without them looking ridiculous.

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post #12 of 32 Old 10-20-2012, 05:58 PM
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You can also just slouch in your seat or use a tall pillow behind your head. Change the upholstery depending on your mood or music genre.

This was similarly discussed on Audioholics in the last year. I remember jokes about "audiophile pillows".
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post #13 of 32 Old 10-20-2012, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
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No, it's different than that. More focused using your hands.

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post #14 of 32 Old 10-21-2012, 07:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSG123 View Post

No, it's different than that. More focused using your hands.

I remember a product that would 'extend' your ears this way. it was sold a few years ago but could not find it anymore using google.They looked like plastic transparent cups about 2x to 3x the size of your ear.

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post #15 of 32 Old 10-21-2012, 08:37 AM
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Actually cupping one's hands behind their ears works best at outdoor concerts. I've been doing it for years at marching band/drum and bugle corps competitions. I remember an ad in Stereo Review several decades ago for a leather device, sort of the back half of Koss Pro 4s. Should have bought a set then because I've never seen them advertised since. I've considered trying to create a new inexpensive version to be used and sold at the above mentioned shows plus any and all outdoor concerts. They even have a name - "Impact Ears". That name is not copyrighted so go to it.

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post #16 of 32 Old 10-23-2012, 07:59 AM
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Don't try this while driving a car, strange looks from other drivers will not be the only problem smile.gif

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post #17 of 32 Old 09-03-2014, 03:06 AM
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YES!!! i thought i was the only nutter out there but i cup my ears in my home theatre and the sound is soooo much better. Wondering how i can replicate this sound within the environment and without having to do the cupping with the hands
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post #18 of 32 Old 09-03-2014, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by acer0137 View Post
YES!!! i thought i was the only nutter out there but i cup my ears in my home theatre and the sound is soooo much better. Wondering how i can replicate this sound within the environment and without having to do the cupping with the hands
Cupping the ears has the effects that I mentioned in post #6 to this thread way back on 10-07-2012 08:53 AM.

They can be approximated pretty well with a parametric equalizer.

Your attraction to them suggests a suboptimal setup of your system.
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post #19 of 32 Old 09-03-2014, 09:33 AM - Thread Starter
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That's totally incorrect (suboptimal setup). It's a matter of focusing how the sound comes into your ears by, essentially, turning your ears frontwards. You can get the same effect by grabbing your ears and turning them forward. It changes how sound comes to you.

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post #20 of 32 Old 09-03-2014, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSG123 View Post
That's totally incorrect (suboptimal setup).
I don't see any evidence of an understanding of acoustics or HRTFs which are both highly relevant.

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It's a matter of focusing how the sound comes into your ears by, essentially, turning your ears frontwards.
That's all true but misses a ton of relevant detail. When you cup your ears you make a big difference in your HRTF. The change in preferred direction is real but smaller, and the effect of putting your pinnae at the bottom of a resonant cavity is generally far larger.

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You can get the same effect by grabbing your ears and turning them forward.
Not really because that does not create the resonant cavity that your cupped hands become.

Quote:
It changes how sound comes to you.
Errr, yes! But that conflates a number of disparate effects.

I'm looking at the question and seeing someone saying that he likes the way his system sounds better if he changes the directivity of his ears and inserts an acoustic bandpass filter in series with them.

Aside from unaesthetic surgery or a potentially painful and weird looking prosthetic appliance...

The change in directivity can be approximated by moving the speakers so that they are on-axis with the current geometry of the pinnae.

The change in frequency response can be approximated by adding a parametric equalizer to the audio system.

Last edited by arnyk; 09-03-2014 at 09:45 AM.
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post #21 of 32 Old 09-03-2014, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post
Cupping the ears has the effects that I mentioned in post #6 to this thread way back on 10-07-2012 08:53 AM.

They can be approximated pretty well with a parametric equalizer.

Your attraction to them suggests a suboptimal setup of your system.
Since no two ears on this planet are the same, wouldn't that mean everyone has a suboptimal setup of their system?

I turn the sharpness on my TV all the way up, because that's how I like my picture... real sharp.
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post #22 of 32 Old 09-03-2014, 10:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Apparently so, according to arny...

Guys like him are everything wrong with this hobby.

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post #23 of 32 Old 09-03-2014, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSG123 View Post
Apparently so, according to arny...

Guys like him are everything wrong with this hobby.
So are guys who sit in their living room with their hands cupped behind their ears instead of trying something that might approximate that effect and still leave their hands free for other purposes....

Why do people call this a hobby? Its obviously an obsession....
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post #24 of 32 Old 09-03-2014, 06:07 PM
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.......or you could use one of these and free your hands for other things






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post #25 of 32 Old 09-03-2014, 06:49 PM
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post #26 of 32 Old 09-04-2014, 04:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kuester View Post
Since no two ears on this planet are the same, wouldn't that mean everyone has a suboptimal setup of their system?
In the real world, nothing is perfectly optimal. However I know a lot of people whose enjoyment of their audio system is not improved by cupping their ears. Their systems sound pretty good just as they are.
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post #27 of 32 Old 09-04-2014, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by CSG123 View Post
Guys like him are everything wrong with this hobby.
What you refer to as this hobby is actually a fantasy world called Audiophilia.
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post #28 of 32 Old 09-04-2014, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve Kuester View Post
Since no two ears on this planet are the same,
Not same but very similar. Perhaps more similar than you would like them to be.
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post #29 of 32 Old 09-04-2014, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post
So are guys who sit in their living room with their hands cupped behind their ears instead of trying something that might approximate that effect and still leave their hands free for other purposes....
Cupping the ears gives a sort of midrange/treble boost effect. It's not that good sounding in general because there are a lot of resonances in it. I'm thinking that the guy's system probably sounds muffled, which is one of those things that is eminently fixable, but probably not with magic amplifiers or cables.

How this got warped in a perceived attack on personal preferences complete with personal condemnations is one of those strange things that happens on the web.
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post #30 of 32 Old 09-04-2014, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post
In the real world, nothing is perfectly optimal. However I know a lot of people whose enjoyment of their audio system is not improved by cupping their ears. Their systems sound pretty good just as they are.
Agreed.


I actually wonder if it truly sounds better when someone cups their ears, or just sounds different. I would doubt anyone would cup their ears for a long enough period of time to really determine better.


It would be like a new pair of speakers, right? As long as they are in the same ballpark as your current speakers, you might think they initially sound better, but after a while you realize they just sound different (and maybe worse)


Just my 2 cents.

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