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post #1 of 24 Old 07-24-2013, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Last night I was listening to my 2.1 system and had a different experience that I normally do. Normally, I listen and moderate to low volumes and for the most part think my system sounds wonderful. However last night I had the itch to really turn things up a bit. I turned on Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble and cranked it up to a considerable volume, +10 on my HK 3490. It was at this point while listening that Tin Pan Alley came on and suddenly it felt like Stevie was live in the room with me.

So, here's my question. Why do I not get the same feeling at lower volumes? I understand that at lower volumes it won't be as loud as a concert, but why don't I get the same sense of realism from lower volumes?
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post #2 of 24 Old 07-24-2013, 01:30 PM
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I can't say for sure, but I'm guessing what you're hearing at louder volumes are reflections from various surfaces in your room. Those reflections, or indirect sounds rather than those directly radiating from your speakers, contribute to the ambiance and the "live" feeling or sound. At lower volumes, you still get the same reflections, but due to the lower amplitude or volume, you don't hear them or feel them so much and thus aren't aware of them.

I think I know what you mean, and in my 2.1 room I can definitely hear and feel a wide and deep soundstage, sometimes enveloping me from the sides and even from behind, but only at loud volumes. In other words, it does feel more live.

BTW, I saw SRV live in Williamsburg, VA in spring 1984. It was a great show and happened to be with The Pretenders due to two converging tours going up and down the coast.
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post #3 of 24 Old 07-24-2013, 01:42 PM
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What Will said above plus also I think getting the music to a volume that would be realistic to real life as well. i e. how loud would it be if that person was actually standing in my room and singing. At a quieter volume than real life, it just doesn't seem as real to me either.
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post #4 of 24 Old 07-24-2013, 09:18 PM
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Put a room full of novice audio listeners in a room with 2 systems and play music all can agree on is something they like to listen to. Let them judge whether system 'A' or system 'B' is better - but have 'B' turned up 10db or so. I'm guessing those listeners will pick 'B' as sounding better almost 100% of the time.

I used to listen at high levels from time to time but never made a habit of it. I always loved cranking things up some - the wife? Not so much. It always sounded better louder.

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post #5 of 24 Old 07-25-2013, 04:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tweaked05 View Post

Last night I was listening to my 2.1 system and had a different experience that I normally do. Normally, I listen and moderate to low volumes and for the most part think my system sounds wonderful. However last night I had the itch to really turn things up a bit. I turned on Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble and cranked it up to a considerable volume, +10 on my HK 3490. It was at this point while listening that Tin Pan Alley came on and suddenly it felt like Stevie was live in the room with me.

So, here's my question. Why do I not get the same feeling at lower volumes?

At lower SPLs the ear's response at the frequency extremes fallls off pretty quickly particularly at the bass end.


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I understand that at lower volumes it won't be as loud as a concert, but why don't I get the same sense of realism from lower volumes?

The human ear's sensitivity to small differences at any audible frequency is maximized in the 80-90 dB range which is louder than what most people listen to casually.
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post #6 of 24 Old 07-25-2013, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
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So the difference is all in my head is what you are saying? Lol... But seriously, the differences are not in the performance of any piece of equipment, but rather in the functioning of my ears at that SPL?
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post #7 of 24 Old 07-25-2013, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Tweaked05 View Post

So the difference is all in my head is what you are saying? Lol... But seriously, the differences are not in the performance of any piece of equipment, but rather in the functioning of my ears at that SPL?

Yes, but don't take it personally. ;-)

The change you hear is like what we all hear under the same circumstances.

The idea that human hearing is some kind of constant or reference standard has been disproven many ways.
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post #8 of 24 Old 07-26-2013, 02:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

At lower SPLs the ear's response at the frequency extremes fallls off pretty quickly particularly at the bass end.

[snip]

The human ear's sensitivity to small differences at any audible frequency is maximized in the 80-90 dB range which is louder than what most people listen to casually.

As I recall, the once popular "loudness" switch was supposed to vary the response curve to counteract the ear's diminishing response at low levels. I dunno if the resulting curve was well thought out, but it seemed like a good idea. I used to have a Yamaha preamp with a variable loudness contour control.

Doesn't Dolby Volume do essentially the same thing in the digital domain? I've never fiddled with it.
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post #9 of 24 Old 07-26-2013, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brownstone322 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

At lower SPLs the ear's response at the frequency extremes fallls off pretty quickly particularly at the bass end.

[snip]

The human ear's sensitivity to small differences at any audible frequency is maximized in the 80-90 dB range which is louder than what most people listen to casually.

As I recall, the once popular "loudness" switch was supposed to vary the response curve to counteract the ear's diminishing response at low levels. I dunno if the resulting curve was well thought out, but it seemed like a good idea. I used to have a Yamaha preamp with a variable loudness contour control.

Doesn't Dolby Volume do essentially the same thing in the digital domain? I've never fiddled with it.

Audessy has their version of a loudness contour as well. These systems can avoid overdoing it because the calibration process adjusts the loudness contour to match the actual SPL.

http://www.dolby.com/uploadedFiles/Assets/US/Doc/Professional/dolby-volume-tv-techpaper.pdf

Dolby Volume seems to be more like compression scheme.
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post #10 of 24 Old 07-27-2013, 06:54 AM
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Arny,

Wouldn't you agree that at least part of the "live" feel at louder volumes, particularly with a subwoofer or more than one subwoofer, is that louder bass frequencies can be felt as well as heard. That thump you get in the chest at a live rock or blues performance comes from the bass frequencies and lots of air moving driven by a lot of energy, and you can get a similar thump at home with loud enough volumes, but not at lower volumes.

I'm thinking also that part of the live feeling is the sense of envelopment, which I suspect is noticed only at louder volumes, as the indirect reflected sound waves aren't noticed or heard much as volume diminishes. It's those indirect reflected waves that give the sense of liveliness or ambiance. Without those, a room is relatively dead. Even at lower volumes, a lively room doesn't feel so lively. That's why you can understand a conversation better in an extremely reverberant room or hall by whispering or talking at very low volumes versus louder or more conventional conversational volumes (you're reducing the comb effect, I think). Right?
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post #11 of 24 Old 07-27-2013, 07:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will2007 View Post

Arny,

Wouldn't you agree that at least part of the "live" feel at louder volumes, particularly with a subwoofer or more than one subwoofer, is that louder bass frequencies can be felt as well as heard.

Absolutely, when they are part of the live performance.
Quote:
That thump you get in the chest at a live rock or blues performance comes from the bass frequencies and lots of air moving driven by a lot of energy, and you can get a similar thump at home with loud enough volumes, but not at lower volumes.

All true.
Quote:
I'm thinking also that part of the live feeling is the sense of envelopment, which I suspect is noticed only at louder volumes, as the indirect reflected sound waves aren't noticed or heard much as volume diminishes. It's those indirect reflected waves that give the sense of liveliness or ambiance. Without those, a room is relatively dead. Even at lower volumes, a lively room doesn't feel so lively. That's why you can understand a conversation better in an extremely reverberant room or hall by whispering or talking at very low volumes versus louder or more conventional conversational volumes (you're reducing the comb effect, I think). Right?

Note that the timing of reflections from the room are vastly different in even a mid-sized venue then they are in a residential listening room.
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post #12 of 24 Old 07-27-2013, 08:35 AM
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For those who don't think seeing alters what we hear take a look at what is known as 'the McGurk effect'. What we hear isn't always what others hear - or see for that matter. Is perception reality?

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post #13 of 24 Old 07-27-2013, 08:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Absolutely, when they are part of the live performance.
All true.

Thank you.
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Note that the timing of reflections from the room are vastly different in even a mid-sized venue then they are in a residential listening room.

Thanks again. I forgot about the time domain issues being different in a residential sized room versus a concert type venue. Great point.
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post #14 of 24 Old 07-27-2013, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knucklehead90 View Post

For those who don't think seeing alters what we hear take a look at what is known as 'the McGurk effect'. What we hear isn't always what others hear - or see for that matter. Is perception reality?

Yeah, that one always freaks me out. Even that psychologist says it throws him even though he knows it works.
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post #15 of 24 Old 07-27-2013, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post

also I think getting the music to a volume that would be realistic to real life as well.

Good discussion, and I think this explanation sums it up. Sure, Fletcher-Munson is a factor, but a live band in a bar or auditorium plays at 90-100 dB SPL or even louder, so you feel the bass in your chest, and can hear musical detail more clearly too.

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post #16 of 24 Old 07-27-2013, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

Good discussion, and I think this explanation sums it up. Sure, Fletcher-Munson is a factor, but a live band in a bar or auditorium plays at 90-100 dB SPL or even louder, so you feel the bass in your chest, and can hear musical detail more clearly too.

--Ethan.

Fletcher-Munson curve and what he said, lol.

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post #17 of 24 Old 08-01-2013, 06:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knucklehead90 View Post

For those who don't think seeing alters what we hear take a look at what is known as 'the McGurk effect'. What we hear isn't always what others hear - or see for that matter. Is perception reality?

OK, sure, I heard one sound, then the other, and I kept "hearing" the two even after the effect was explained to me. But ...

When I had the privilege of playing the clip's audio through an audiophile-grade preamp/amp combo with audiophile-grade speaker cables and interconnects, I heard "baaa, baaa, baaa" and "faaa, faaa, faaa" with levels of clarity, depth, detail and warmth, and with a deeper soundstage and darker background, than I could ever hope to achieve with mere mid-fi gear. So there's garden-variety McGurk, then there's true high-end McGurk for those who can appreciate it.
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post #18 of 24 Old 08-02-2013, 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Brownstone322 View Post

OK, sure, I heard one sound, then the other, and I kept "hearing" the two even after the effect was explained to me. But ...

When I had the privilege of playing the clip's audio through an audiophile-grade preamp/amp combo with audiophile-grade speaker cables and interconnects, I heard "baaa, baaa, baaa" and "faaa, faaa, faaa" with levels of clarity, depth, detail and warmth, and with a deeper soundstage and darker background, than I could ever hope to achieve with mere mid-fi gear. So there's garden-variety McGurk, then there's true high-end McGurk for those who can appreciate it.

biggrin.gif You forgot to talk about the micro-details and air. I just assume you used cable lifters too.
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post #19 of 24 Old 08-10-2013, 06:04 AM
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an audio engineer once told me that,when mixing a rock album he will mix at louder levels than when mixing a Jazz album,simply because the rock music listener tends too listen back at different levels than a jazz listener.
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post #20 of 24 Old 08-10-2013, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Mila View Post

an audio engineer once told me that,when mixing a rock album he will mix at louder levels than when mixing a Jazz album,simply because the rock music listener tends too listen back at different levels than a jazz listener.

Some audio engineer someplace will probably tell you anything you do or do not want to hear. All generalities are false, including this one.
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post #21 of 24 Old 08-11-2013, 05:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brownstone322 View Post

Doesn't Dolby Volume do essentially the same thing in the digital domain? I've never fiddled with it.

Audessy has their version of a loudness contour as well. These systems can avoid overdoing it because the calibration process adjusts the loudness contour to match the actual SPL.

http://www.dolby.com/uploadedFiles/Assets/US/Doc/Professional/dolby-volume-tv-techpaper.pdf
Dolby Volume seems to be more like compression scheme.

Dolby Volume is actually both. For whatever reason they decided to combine their dynamic loudness compensation ("volume modeler" in Dolby-speak) and their compression scheme ("volume leveler") into one product. But they are distinct functions. One can have the modeler (Audyssey DynamicEQ equivalent, and IMO works at least as well) on and the leveler (Audyssey DynamicVolume equivalent, no idea how either one works because I've never tried them) off, and probably vice versa.

See the 3d paragraph at 1 in the above PDF, and the "volume modeling" section at 3.

I don't know why Dolby seems to emphasize the compression component over the loudness compensation component in their marketing stuff, but they do.

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post #22 of 24 Old 08-19-2013, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tweaked05 View Post

Last night I was listening to my 2.1 system and had a different experience that I normally do. Normally, I listen and moderate to low volumes and for the most part think my system sounds wonderful. However last night I had the itch to really turn things up a bit. I turned on Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble and cranked it up to a considerable volume, +10 on my HK 3490. It was at this point while listening that Tin Pan Alley came on and suddenly it felt like Stevie was live in the room with me.

So, here's my question. Why do I not get the same feeling at lower volumes? I understand that at lower volumes it won't be as loud as a concert, but why don't I get the same sense of realism from lower volumes?

Distortion, Distortion, Distortion.

I don't want to sound like in bragging but, to be frank. It could be that your system isn't good enough.

My system sound great and/or engaging at all levels above 45db.

My electronics have SNR's of -120db +- 0.1db from 4hz to nyquist, 35000watts, and all of this in a purpose built room with a noisefloor of 30db (or better), with acoustical treatments.

I have 10 high-end 18" subs, 109db per watt tweeters +- 5db full-bandwidth in-room.
They can produce peaks approaching 130db, and can handle the 85db-A continous pink-noise THX Ultra 2 spec without problems and with zero audible distortion. (Which you would expect after spending $55,000.)

Louder levels are more fun of course, even in my system; but it's not needed to make it sound great, and that is the difference between mid-fi and hi-fi (IMO).

That said, some people just can't get engaged at low volumes (of varying degrees), it's how they are hardwired; you could be one of those types.
I call them the "louder is better crowd".

My DAC is the Sabre Ref 32 (Oppo 105), my pre-amp is an Emotiva XSP-1, my speakers are SEOS 12's (DIY), my subs are TC LMS-18's, my amps are Lab Gruppen FP+ clones; pretty stout, so good results are to be expected.
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post #23 of 24 Old 10-20-2013, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Some audio engineer someplace will probably tell you anything you do or do not want to hear. All generalities are false, including this one.

Why is that false?
That he would mix different types at music at different volumes,and why should he put me on?
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post #24 of 24 Old 10-21-2013, 06:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mila View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Some audio engineer someplace will probably tell you anything you do or do not want to hear. All generalities are false, including this one.

Why is that false?

Sorry, I left off the smiley. The statement "All generalities are false" is a self-contradicting statement. It is a generality, so if it is true then it says that it is false.
Quote:
That he would mix different types at music at different volumes,and why should he put me on?

Usually mixing is done at fairly high listening levels because catching and correcting subtle errors is part of this job step.

Mastering should be done at the intended listening level because sound balance at this listening level is one of the goals of this job step.
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