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post #1 of 84 Old 01-12-2014, 10:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have myself a pair of RX6 floor standers for a separate room, with a Yamaha integrated amp a few weeks ago. I noticed that the sound in the room is very bright, not always, but sometimes when playing music.

My room is admittedly untreated, I just have some furnishings, a rug, thick curtains etc. My question is, are some recordings recorded bright compared to other recordings? My friend is telling me to change my amp because Yamaha tends to give a bright sound.

Now I know better to sell an amp for that reason. But the same amp I have many other people are reporting the same 'brightness'. Still, I know better. So I'm thinking the brightness that I'm experiencing is either room related or inherent in the source material.

Can source material be more laid-back, brighter etc etc etc irrespective of the acoustics? I'm not a recording engineer, but I thought I might ask because I'm curious to know.
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post #2 of 84 Old 01-12-2014, 11:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just to add, I've also heard from some people that the Monitor Audio RX6 speakers can sound a bit more lively at the top-end, but looking at the graphs from Stereophile I don't see anything to suggest this. Perhaps I'm not able to interpret the graphs properly.
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post #3 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 01:30 AM
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Could be that somewhere in the lower frequencies you have some missing/low frequencies. Without 300Hz and below taken care of you have no foundation to build the rest of the music upon. Do you have a sub or subs?

A frequency response measurement of your room would tell a lot.
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post #4 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 01:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post

Could be that somewhere in the lower frequencies you have some missing/low frequencies. Without 300Hz and below taken care of you have no foundation to build the rest of the music upon. Do you have a sub or subs?

A frequency response measurement of your room would tell a lot.

I don't have measurement gear. No subs currently. This is stereo only. Might add a subwoofer later.
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post #5 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 01:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm just trying to reach a process of elimination here. Would the source material be at fault? I think someone who is knowledgeable in this area would need to chime in. The brightness is not constant always. I don't know anything about recordings, but I'm wondering if certain songs were recorded with a bit of extra hot sauce, as it were.

Perhaps the issue is really a combination of recording and room, or predominantly recording. But I would need to know if the recordings could be an influencing factor.
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post #6 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 01:44 AM
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Well without measurements everything will just be a guess. You could spend the rest of your life guessing.

It only takes a 150 to 250hz hole to suck the life and warmth out of your music and make it sound dry and "bright".
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post #7 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 03:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

I have myself a pair of RX6 floor standers for a separate room, with a Yamaha integrated amp a few weeks ago. I noticed that the sound in the room is very bright, not always, but sometimes when playing music.

My room is admittedly untreated, I just have some furnishings, a rug, thick curtains etc. My question is, are some recordings recorded bright compared to other recordings?

In a word: yes. The spectral balance of a recording depends on 3 major influences:

(1) The music itself. Imagine a brass band that doesn't sound bright. Yecch! Imagine a piano concerto that screams in your ears. Yecch!
(2) How it was recorded. Speaking as a professional practitioner of the art, I know that one can do a lot with some good mics, a good mixing board and the freedom to use them.
(3) How it was mastered. The spectral balance of a recording can be changed a lot after the fact.
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My friend is telling me to change my amp because Yamaha tends to give a bright sound.

I've heard the "Yamaha amps all sound bright" story. It makes as much sense as the "All amps sound the same" story - no sense at all! The strongest influence on the sound quality of a good modern speaker/amp combination is the speaker placement and the room itself.
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Now I know better to sell an amp for that reason. But the same amp I have many other people are reporting the same 'brightness'. Still, I know better. So I'm thinking the brightness that I'm experiencing is either room related or inherent in the source material.

Exactly.
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Can source material be more laid-back, brighter etc etc etc irrespective of the acoustics? I'm not a recording engineer, but I thought I might ask because I'm curious to know.

Yes. If one looks at the spectral balance of a wide selection of good sounding recordings, one finds a common curve:



However any given recording might not conform to this energy distribution. That may or may not be a problem based on the influences I mentioned above. Note that the three recordings plotted out are different. The differences are big enough to be clearly audible. For example the green line describes a recording that may seem bright.
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post #8 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 04:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Arnyk! Learned something new today! After being hit over the head so much with amps, and how they are tested, and how they should be compared, I'm starting to see a pattern develop with people insisting on buying new amps. If you don't think carefully about the source of the issue you can just go chasing unicorns.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but speakers and rooms have noise and distortion thousands of times greater than amps? I want to kind of rub this in my friends face. tongue.gif I still find it strange that so many user comments on this Yamaha amp report a bright sound.

It's like mass suggestive bias or something. eek.gif
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post #9 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 04:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

Thanks Arnyk! Learned something new today! After being hit over the head so much with amps, and how they are tested, and how they should be compared, I'm starting to see a pattern develop with people insisting on buying new amps. If you don't think carefully about the source of the issue you can just go chasing unicorns.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but speakers and rooms have noise and distortion thousands of times greater than amps?

Depends on the speaker and the amp, but that's generally true. A good subwoofer might have 10% THD at 20 Hz, while the amplifier driving it might have 0.003% THD. That would be a difference of even more than what you estimated.

The same for frequency response. Get speaker/room response within 5 dB 20-20K and you are pretty much golden as far as FR goes. An amp has to cover the same range within 0.1 to 0.5 dB ro be worth even bothering to hook up.
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I want to kind of rub this in my friends face. tongue.gif I still find it strange that so many user comments on this Yamaha amp report a bright sound.

It is interesting how rumor gets turned into "Audiophile facts". I have 2 Yamaha amps in the house - one pro sound, one a low end AVR. I hook them up to various speakers and yes, they sound different! ;-)
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It's like mass suggestive bias or something. eek.gif

I admit it - I have a lot of fun driving skewers and trucks through audiophile myths. ;-)
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post #10 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 04:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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As far as acoustics go, is it possible for the reflective energy to be doing damage only at a specific portion of the frequency range, making some things sound bright or brighter than normal, while other music is unaffected?

With reflections, I assume that the harshness or brightness that comes with an overly reflective space is due to the decay times? So not all frequencies will be affected in the same way, so not all music will be affected in the same way?

Sorry for asking all these questions.
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post #11 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 05:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by arnyk 
It is interesting how rumor gets turned into "Audiophile facts". I have 2 Yamaha amps in the house - one pro sound, one a low end AVR. I hook them up to various speakers and yes, they sound different! ;-)

Thing that I don't get is if the amp skewed the response and made things sound brighter surely it would mean the frequency response was non-flat? The Yamaha amp I have is measurably flat. People I know have been recommending Arcam amps instead. I checked their amps, same story, the frequency response was measurably flat. So the tonal balance would be neutral. Still not sure why Yamaha always gets painted as a bright sounding amp. It's annoying.
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post #12 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 05:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

Thing that I don't get is if the amp skewed the response and made things sound brighter surely it would mean the frequency response was non-flat? The Yamaha amp I have is measurably flat. People I know have been recommending Arcam amps instead. I checked their amps, same story, the frequency response was measurably flat. So the tonal balance would be neutral. Still not sure why Yamaha always gets painted as a bright sounding amp. It's annoying.

Because you areading the writings of people who don't know what they are talking about. You have new speakers that allow you to hear things you didn't hear before.
Get used to them.
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post #13 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

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Originally Posted by arnyk 
It is interesting how rumor gets turned into "Audiophile facts". I have 2 Yamaha amps in the house - one pro sound, one a low end AVR. I hook them up to various speakers and yes, they sound different! ;-)

Thing that I don't get is if the amp skewed the response and made things sound brighter surely it would mean the frequency response was non-flat? The Yamaha amp I have is measurably flat. People I know have been recommending Arcam amps instead. I checked their amps, same story, the frequency response was measurably flat.

If you haven't looked there, check Stereophile amp tests. JA is the only technical reviewer that I know of who runs FR tests with speaker-like loads. His in-house load is IMO wimpy, but a serious load would make vacuum tube amps look even worse, which IMO wouldn't be good for his image among the tubed amp fringe and advertising sales, not to mention some of his staff.
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So the tonal balance would be neutral. Still not sure why Yamaha always gets painted as a bright sounding amp. It's annoying.

I'm beyond irritation with fables like this one. I've turned it into a butt for jokes, which is all it needs to be. IMO we've got people around here who claim engineering expertise who have fallen for this rumor big and hard and at this point, I can only politely smile.
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post #14 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

Correct me if I'm wrong, but speakers and rooms have noise and distortion thousands of times greater than amps?
I hope you don't mind me commenting smile.gif. The room distortions in the form of reflections are linear meaning if you put in frequency X, you only get frequency X (assuming no rattles, etc). In an electronic device, the distortions are non-linear meaning if you put in frequency X, you get X, Y, Z, etc. going to infinity. In addition, perceptually your brain is wired to ignore a lot of room reflections because they occur all the time around us. Not so with non-linear distortions which are not natural and brain not designed to ignore. Listen to a fading (analog) FM station. The static never goes away in your mind and you will keep getting annoyed by it.

Speakers do have distortions and high amounts but the issue with the argument is that there is no general mechanism for them to null distortion from other pieces in the chain. Distortions in a pipeline almost always add. They don't subtracts from others. If you put dirty water in a dirty glass, you get the sum of both in amount of contaminants. This is easy enough to demonstrate. Take a clock radio and turn up its volume to max. You will hear it getting distorted. Let's agree that its speaker in there is really awful and producing fair amount of distortion but we have no problem hearing what happens when the amp gets past its capacity to produce low distortion.
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I want to kind of rub this in my friends face. tongue.gif I still find it strange that so many user comments on this Yamaha amp report a bright sound.
Your argument is a very common one to dismiss distortion in audio electronics. So feel free to use that with your friend and it is guaranteed he won't know any better. Just know that it is not backed by science smile.gif.

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post #15 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 09:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi amirm, thanks for chiming in and for answering the questions. You're an acoustics expert I believe? Could you please answer my questions on the reflections, here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heinrich 
As far as acoustics go, is it possible for the reflective energy to be doing damage only at a specific portion of the frequency range, making some things sound bright or brighter than normal, while other music is unaffected?

With reflections, I assume that the harshness or brightness that comes with an overly reflective space is due to the decay times and frequency range, or just reflections affecting the frequency range? So not all frequencies will be affected in the same way, so not all music will be affected in the same way with an overly reflective room?

Sorry for asking all these questions.

I'm not clued up on acoustics, but I assume if the reflective energy is high in the room, that it's not constant with frequency, but more nonlinear? So some music is affected more or less depending on how strong the reflections are and within what part of the frequency range?
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post #16 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 09:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Your argument is a very common one to dismiss distortion in audio electronics. So feel free to use that with your friend and it is guaranteed he won't know any better. Just know that it is not backed by science

What do you mean? I assumed distortion in electronics were miniscule compared to speakers. Is that not true? Is it incorrect to say that distortion in amps are orders of magnitude lower than in speakers and rooms, or is there something else I'm missing? Thanks.
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post #17 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 10:20 AM
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What do you mean? I assumed distortion in electronics were miniscule compared to speakers. Is that not true? Is it incorrect to say that distortion in amps are orders of magnitude lower than in speakers and rooms, or is there something else I'm missing? Thanks.
It is the nature of the distortions and how we hear. Our ears are not THD meters. THD is an ancient distortion measurement that has little correlation with audibility. People keep using it but it has little place in discussion of *audible* distortion. The best work to show this has been in AES papers by Earl Geddes. I have bookmarked this post of his which explains this issue in the context of speakers:

"Let me interpret since I did the work. The "weak correlation" of THD and IMD to perception was NEGATIVE - you forgot to mention that. This means that, as a metric of perception, one should increase the THD to make it sound better. This is of course absurd, but it's the absurdity of THD and IMD measures that is the culprit not the results of the test.

The THD and IMD numbers are indeed shown in all the graphs. They are the X-axis.

Its NOT the level of the harmonics that matter but where the nonlinearity occurs - at low levels or high levels and the order, 2nd, sixth, etc. Low level nonlinearity is by far the most insidious especially if high order - like crossover distortion [he means switching of transistors in a class B amp] in an amp. This is why an amp with extremely low levels of THD can still sound terrible. But loudspeakers, on the other hand, tend to have nonlinearities that increase with level and are likely very low level like second or third. This makes them fairly benign. In fact, for the most part, nonlinearity in a loudspeaker (as long as its not broke) is a non-issue. In a test of compression drivers we had twenty five people evaluate distortion levels up to 25% and statistically noone could detect it at those levels.

Its hard to make blanket statements about the audibility of nonlinearities in specific cases, but for the most part nonlinearity is a major concern in electronics, but so much so in loudspeakers. There are, of course, going to be exceptions to this.


And this:

"What's basically missing in most distortion studies is how the distortion goes as the signal drops - not how it grows with signal level. The later is almost irrelavent while the prior is critical. When I looked at the harmonics for amps as the signal went down into the noise floor I found significant differences that correlated very well with the subjective perception. In a poor amp the levels of the harmonics rise as the signal falls and it can be very high order. A clean amp shows nothing as the signal falls. What it does near clipping is almost unimportant and in fact, I claim that a soft clipped amp sounds better."

So while one can hide behind simple measures like THD to make a point, as soon as you look under that argument with respect to audibility, the argument falls apart. This is why no one agrees on what level of THD is audible.

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post #18 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

As far as acoustics go, is it possible for the reflective energy to be doing damage only at a specific portion of the frequency range, making some things sound bright or brighter than normal, while other music is unaffected?
The reverse is easily done. That is, just about any absorption in the room will act on high frequencies but not low. For it to be active at lower frequencies, the absorbers need to be quite thick. I can't think of a scenario that would make a room bright due to acoustics. You can make it dull however and easily so if you chase the common (incorrect) advice to reduce reflections in the room.
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With reflections, I assume that the harshness or brightness that comes with an overly reflective space is due to the decay times? So not all frequencies will be affected in the same way, so not all music will be affected in the same way?
The harsh surfaces simply preserve the reflections. They don't magnify them. If the sound is too bright, it is the speaker that is the problem.

Answering your original question, recordings wildly vary in how they are put together. Since we never have a reference of what they are supposed to sound like, one never knows if the reproduction chain has caused it to be too bright or it was produced that way.

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post #19 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 12:30 PM
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Because you are reading the writings of people who don't know what they are talking about.

Exactly. And Heinrich, even minimal acoustic consideration will make a big improvement in the quality of your system. Far more than exchanging one perfectly competent amplifier for another.

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post #20 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by amirm 
The harsh surfaces simply preserve the reflections. They don't magnify them. If the sound is too bright, it is the speaker that is the problem.

But can't reflections in a room make a smooth sounding speaker sound bright while listening to music? I thought it was the room causing the reflections and the resulting brightness, not the speaker per se. But is the harshness from a highly reflective room additional decay, or is it just skewing the frequency response, or both? So you agree that a highly reflective room could be affecting a portion of the frequency range more than another portion where music is recorded which could make it sound brighter than usual?

I'm asking these questions to try and understand what may be happening in my room. I don't think my speakers are measurably bright. The curves at Stereophile don't show anything strange, unless I've misinterpreted the graphs (Monitor Audio RX6).
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post #21 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

But can't reflections in a room make a smooth sounding speaker sound bright while listening to music? I thought it was the room causing the reflections and the resulting brightness, not the speaker per se. But is the harshness from a highly reflective room additional decay, or is it just skewing the frequency response, or both? So you agree that a highly reflective room could be affecting a portion of the frequency range more than another portion where music is recorded which could make it sound brighter than usual?

I'm asking these questions to try and understand what may be happening in my room. I don't think my speakers are measurably bright. The curves at Stereophile don't show anything strange, unless I've misinterpreted the graphs (Monitor Audio RX6).

A peak in your speaker's off-axis response at the frequencies in question, combined with your untreated room, will certainly alter the tonal balance.

Heinrich, both Ethan's and Floyd Toole's books are excellent resources on the complex room acoustics topic. I highly recommend you get a copy of one or the other, or both, to continue your audio journey. Read them. Get yourself a calibrated mic and REW, learn how to use it.

And kudos on your learning process overall. Keep on learning, and remember, it's all about the music.
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post #22 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Wayne Highwood View Post

A peak in your speaker's off-axis response at the frequencies in question, combined with your untreated room, will certainly alter the tonal balance.

Heinrich, both Ethan's and Floyd Toole's books are excellent resources on the complex room acoustics topic. I highly recommend you get a copy of one or the other, or both, to continue your audio journey. Read them. Get yourself a calibrated mic and REW, learn how to use it.

And kudos on your learning process overall. Keep on learning, and remember, it's all about the music.

There is only one seat in my room and its mine. tongue.gif So I don't sit off-axis. I'll definitely order some books, I heard about the Floyd Tooles book, apparently it gets great write-ups. In the meantime, could you please answer some of the questions I asked about the acoustics?

If a room is overly reflective, its possible for the reflections to only affect a certain portion of the frequency range more than others? So it's not affected equally across the frequency range? If this is true, it may explain why some music sounds brighter in my room compared to other songs. I'm just testing theories, so please correct me if I'm wrong here.

The harshness that I hear, could that be reflections skewing the frequency response, or could it be a decay that is also influencing the harshness? If I clap my hands I can hear obvious echoes at the seated position.
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post #23 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 04:03 PM
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If I clap my hands I can hear obvious echoes at the seated position.
And... there ya go!
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post #24 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 04:14 PM
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See that output around 3500 hz or so? Imagine how that's interacting in your untreated, lively room.

As to your other questions, it depends, and any answer worth anything should be based on actual local conditions as you measure them, not my guess from here. You're ready to take that step, get one of the books and rta stuff and go for it. It's fun to learn while simultaneously getting your system and room to sound their best.
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post #25 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 06:11 PM
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If I clap my hands I can hear obvious echoes at the seated position.
As often as that is done, it is not a correct test of anything. You need a second person clapping where the speakers are. Clapping where you are sitting means the speaker is in your lap tongue.gif.

And no, that doesn't cause brightness even if you heard the echo the right way.

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post #26 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 09:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heinrich 
If a room is overly reflective, its possible for the reflections to only affect a certain portion of the frequency range more than others? So it's not affected equally across the frequency range? If this is true, it may explain why some music sounds brighter in my room compared to other songs. I'm just testing theories, so please correct me if I'm wrong here.

The harshness that I hear, could that be reflections skewing the frequency response, or could it be a decay that is also influencing the harshness?

I doubt I'll be expert enough to learn the answers to these questions by myself. I just need to know what could be influencing the brightness that I hear.
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post #27 of 84 Old 01-13-2014, 09:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne Highwood 
]See that output around 3500 hz or so? Imagine how that's interacting in your untreated, lively room.

Output around 3.5kHz is high enough to cause brightness? Wouldn't the top end need to be over-exaggerated for that to occur? Looking at the graph it doesn't look like the bump is that big, but I have no idea.
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post #28 of 84 Old 01-14-2014, 01:27 AM
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And a low output anywhere between 60hz to 300hz can make a speaker sound bright as well. Any substantial dip in that region can rob warmth - fullness - body and make a system sound analytical - thin - bright.

And I'm not talking about the low bass of subs either.

Any speaker, no matter how well it measures in tests, can suffer from below 300hz problems when placed in any room.
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Are Stereophiles rooms acoustically treated or anechoic? Just wondering how that graph posted earlier was generated.
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post #30 of 84 Old 01-14-2014, 05:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne Highwood 
]See that output around 3500 hz or so? Imagine how that's interacting in your untreated, lively room.

Output around 3.5kHz is high enough to cause brightness?

Yes.
Quote:
Wouldn't the top end need to be over-exaggerated for that to occur?

The top end is perceived as "air".

This illustration was referenced earlier in the thread, but apparently it was not inspected carefully so I clipped out the relevant portion:



And guess what - here's the problem with subjective terms - nobody uses all of the same ones. On this illustration 3.5 KHz is between Crunch and Edge. But its also brightness. Air fares better - both the illustration and myself used it to refer to the top end. There is a reason why people refer to frequencies as numbers and not subjective words - the meanings are more consistent.

Quote:
Looking at the graph it doesn't look like the bump is that big, but I have no idea.

Really? Referencing the origional graph:



This kind of plot is hard to estimate data from because the z axis is tilted, but I see an approximate 12 dB peak. That's big! This speaker sounds smoother and smoother the deader or more uniformly absorbtive the room is, but as others have pointed out, a room that is too dead is also bad. Its a speaker that sounds worse in a live room. One of the goals for a speaker designer is to create speakers that are both optimal in a room with good acoustics, but also sound as good as possible in a wider variety of more reverberant rooms.

This is a similar graph for a better speaker, with the z axis running in and out of the page for easier reading:



Notice how the off axis frequency response curves are smoother, and seem to consistently fan out from a common point? Again, its not perfect, but its a speaker that probably sounds better in a wider variety of rooms.
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