What does "bad sound" sound like? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 10-06-2013, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
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I've seen the terms muddy and boomy around the net, but I don't have a clue what that sounds like; if it's not too much to ask, can someone list some of the terms for "bad" sound, examples of what they sound like and possible causes and fixes. The problem is I don't know what to listen for, so, I can't tell if the sound is right nor can I tell if it's damaging my speakers.

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post #2 of 17 Old 10-06-2013, 02:08 PM
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One or more of three things: too much of a given frequency, lack of a given frequency, or unintentional distortion (which can be divided into subcategories..., harmonic distortion, clipping, poor cabinet performance et al).

The only things that will damage your speakers are running frequencies through them that they are not equipped to handle, blasting an amplifier until it "clips," or truly overloading the speakers with too much current.

"Muddy" would be an absence of higher frequencies, or an excess of lows. "Boomy" would refer to an excess of deeper bass. Handheld bootleg recordings are generally very muddy, and can be boomy. The easiest example of boomy would be the turds that drag trash cans behind their subcompacts with 450cm wings on the back, and build the interior entirely from woofers.

On the opposite end, you have "shrill," "piercing," "hissy" "tinny," and so on. Picture the playback from an inexpensive mobile phone.

Our hearing is among our poorest senses, practically every word we use to describe sound is borrowed from another sense, or are onamonapia, with "loud" and "quiet" being the notable exceptions. Attempts to describe sound fail miserably unless those communication agree on references. Musicians speak of "woody," "brown," "reedy," "bright," "fat," "warm," "punchy," and dozens of other terms, but only because there are examples shared in advance.
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post #3 of 17 Old 10-06-2013, 02:11 PM
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Here's a link to stuff about frequencies. His language is a bit different from mine, unsurprisingly.

http://www.digitalprosound.com/2002/03_mar/tutorials/mixing_excerpt1.htm
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post #4 of 17 Old 10-06-2013, 03:40 PM
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To add to ermghoti's excellent answer:

There is also "muted". Sound nulls happen in rooms when frequencies effectively cancel each other out in a standing wave pattern.

The worst offender is 1 subwoofer placed without any thought or verification. Running two (or more) subs helps to remove the dead zones. EQ becomes trickier but maintains the properly SPL evenly throughout the room.
http://fmarvasti.com/Graphics/TwoSub1.jpg

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post #5 of 17 Old 10-06-2013, 07:02 PM
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Try and remember how an instrument or a voice sounds naturally. Then listen to the speaker reproducing that sound. If the speaker does a poor job of replicating the natural sound of a voice or instrument, then it is bad sound.

Dumb enough to spend lots of cash on this junk!
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post #6 of 17 Old 10-06-2013, 07:25 PM
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Good sound makes you want to turn the volume up. Bad sound makes you want to turn the volume down.
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post #7 of 17 Old 10-06-2013, 08:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys, very informative. This has been driving me crazy for a long time. I've messed around with the frequencies on my sound card and I didn't realize how obvious bad sound is.

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post #8 of 17 Old 10-07-2013, 03:45 AM
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To pile on to FF's point, assuming you have the resources, get a decent pair of headphones (Sony 7506 and Sennheiser HD280s both run $100, I've gotten them on sale for much less), and do some listening. The headphones take your room out of the equation (which is a lot of what Mich... is talking about), even if they aren't perfect at that price point. Listen to a CD, convert it to MP3 at a couple of different rates. See if you can find the same material on cassette. Run a graphic, or, better yet, a parametric, and fiddle with the frequencies to see what they sound like. From there, you will be better equipped to learn the more esoteric aspects.
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post #9 of 17 Old 10-07-2013, 06:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ermghoti View Post

"Muddy" would be an absence of higher frequencies, or an excess of lows. "Boomy" would refer to an excess of deeper bass. Handheld bootleg recordings are generally very muddy, and can be boomy. The easiest example of boomy would be the turds that drag trash cans behind their subcompacts with 450cm wings on the back, and build the interior entirely from woofers.

Also muddy are issues related to beaming, problems with clipping, all sorts of comb filtering (which I suppose is indeed a lull in HG)
"Boomy" as a negative usually isn't all that low of the FR scale.
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post #10 of 17 Old 10-07-2013, 06:34 AM
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Best advice: get training on how to listen.

http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2011/03/harman-how-to-listen-listener-training.html
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post #11 of 17 Old 10-07-2013, 07:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryLove View Post

Also muddy are issues related to beaming, problems with clipping, all sorts of comb filtering (which I suppose is indeed a lull in HG)
"Boomy" as a negative usually isn't all that low of the FR scale.

The frequency chart I linked agrees with.

As you say, the causes of muddiness, or any other subpar sonic performance is varied, but the experience can be still be described by frequency, distortion, and/or reflections. I originally disregarded reflections, perhaps erroneously, as they have little to do with sound system performance (mechanical abilty of the system to produce accurate sound), even if they have a great result on listener experience.
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post #12 of 17 Old 10-07-2013, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ermghoti View Post

The frequency chart I linked agrees with.

I think it's an equivocation issue. Your link lists 125Hz as "boom". I would not have considered that "deeper bass", and so responded to what I understood you to mean by "deeper bass", not, apparently, what you actually meant.
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post #13 of 17 Old 10-07-2013, 11:50 AM
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I hear friends stereos all the time that sound bad and they love 'em. Ultimately, if it sounds good to you then it doesnt sound bad.

No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!
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post #14 of 17 Old 10-07-2013, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryLove View Post

I think it's an equivocation issue. Your link lists 125Hz as "boom". I would not have considered that "deeper bass", and so responded to what I understood you to mean by "deeper bass", not, apparently, what you actually meant.

Sorry, I thought I typed "agrees with you."
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post #15 of 17 Old 10-07-2013, 02:20 PM
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LOL. No worries. smile.gif
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post #16 of 17 Old 10-07-2013, 02:26 PM
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Amazing how one little missing word can make one look like a spectacular knob, isn't it? biggrin.gif
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post #17 of 17 Old 10-07-2013, 07:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Any way thanks guys, you guys are extremely helpful. The link with the chart was simple enough for me.

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