AVS Forum banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
830 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently set up an old gifted Pioneer SX1080 receiver in the bedroom to listen to CDs. I'm feeding it with a Toshiba SD-3960 and have yet to connect speakers. I tested it out with my in-ear headphones to make sure there were no connectivity issues (no CD input on this guy!) and was a bit surprised at the sound. It was really pleasing to the ear, I'm assuming not flat, hence the term "house curve". Most obvious was the bass, ALL of the bass (low, mid, high) and a smoothness to the midrange and high end that allowed me to turn the volume up A LOT without any edginess. It reminded me so much of when I was young and listening to what i thought at the time were killer systems. It just sounded incredibly powerful. FWIW all loudness/tone controls were defeated, so straight in, straight out. I'd love to capture a response curve of this sound and duplicate with EQ on my home AV unit for stereo listening.


Is this simply a function of the frequency response of the unit and its signal path and the resulting curve or do the type of electronics involved also contribute to this sound?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,445 Posts

What have you been using before with your headphones?  The old Pioneer, if working properly, will have a very flat frequency response if you have bypassed all of its tone adjustments (i.e., bass & treble, filters, loudness).  If you have been used to something that very poorly drives your headphones, that may well explain why you like the Pioneer so much.

 

By the way, the Pioneer SX-1080 is a nice unit, with a very good FM tuner.  You may find you like radio more than you previously thought.  See:

 

http://web.archive.org/web/20120109052510/http://silverpioneer.netfirms.com/sx-1050.htm

 

http://www.classicaudio.com/value/pio/SX1080.html

 

Now, given that the Pioneer is so old (we are talking 1978-1979), it is possible that it is out of spec.  But what I would really guess is that you have been using your headphones with some tiny portable device that simply isn't very good at driving headphones.  Now you have something that is up to driving them well.

 

 

Edited to add:

 

CD players use line level inputs on receivers.  Use the "AUX" input on your Pioneer SX-1080, or you could use a tape input.  Just don't use a "PHONO" input.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
830 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Admittedly using iPad/iPod with headphones previously. I know in part the sound from that set up is impacted by compression and lack of dynamics so it would be expected the there would be some improvement just going to CD. But the difference seemed so much more than that. I was intrigued enough to do some experimenting today. I listened to some well known tracks on the headphones through the pioneer, then brought the rig downstairs and ran the headphone out to my CD in on the AVR. Bingo, similar improvment. I am unfamiliar with what differs between headphone out and traditional pre-amp out, so kept the signal path identical except the added amplification stage of the AVR. I got the same experience I had upstairs with the headphones. Massive dynamic range, solid, solid bass to die for, nuetral voicing, awesome stage placement, transparent/holographic top end, virtually limitless volume ability. I could just keep turning it up (the Pioneer output) and get more of the goodness instead of harsher mid/high that I am used to when I egt on the AVR. The kick drum seemed so much more dynamic that I reverted back to CD>AVR to compare. Same CD and tracks, same CD player, just bypassing the Pioneer and going straight to CD in on AVR. Loss of dynamic range in the bass and more volume equals harsh mid/high jnstead of glorious impact. I went back and forth several times and had the same experience, swapping CDs a few times to see if other discs also sounded different. I even detected more LEDs lit up on the BFD during kickdrum transients (4-5 lights vs 2-3) when running through the Pioneer headhone out into the CD in, but I wasn't measuring SPL and can't say all other things were equal.


Unfortunately I noticed something else. The tweeters started audibly distorting when I approached anything north of 1/3 output on the Pioneer. I tried turning down the Pioneer and turning up the AVR but the result was simply not the same. Not sure if a pre-amp out would prevent the distortion as opposed to the headphone out I was using. I ran out of time to fiddle with it today.


I still don't know if this is altered frequency response, or just the difference between pre-amp and headphone signal path. I'll try the pre-amp outs when I get more time. Is it even possible for a headphone out signal path to somehow increase dynamics?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
830 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So I experimented further and am starting to think the headphone signal path/output on the Pioneer simply filters the signal in a way that allows me to turn up the volume louder on the AVR. Either that or the Yamaha AV receiver or Polk speakers I am using have some peaky response that is tamed by the input of the Pioneer. Or perhaps I have hearing sensitivity that is similarly soothed by the Pioneer FR. I inserted my BFD between CD player and Yamaha AVR and was easily able to replicate the smooth dynamic sound of the Pioneer simply by cutting the mids and highs in a few places. I was also able to sort out the distortion issue by using tape1 instead of tape 2 input on the Pioneer. Now there is no tweeter break-up.


With the mids/highs cut via BFD I was pleasantly surprised at how loud and clean I was able to listen. Master volume on AVR was -5ish for several reference CDs and was a pleasure. Holding back the high end really allowed for some decent low end response to come through the Polk bookshelf speakers, enough so that I could skip the sub or change crossover to 40Hz without feeling like I was missing anything. Previously, anything north of -20 on the Master volume would induce wincing, ear-bleeding mids/highs that made me want to turn it down. I did break out the Rat Shack meter to verify that I was at 85db at the LP both with and without EQ. I should mention, with EQ there were no issues with sound quality like colored vocals, strings, piano etc. It was very neutral sounding.


All of this brings me to a new question. Traditionally i have not wanted to alter signal path via EQ other than for the sub and only to tame large response peaks down low. Is there really anything wrong with EQing the mains if it means THAT much improvement in sound quality? I am very tempted to run out and by a parametric EQ to put between CD and AVR for 2CH listening based on what I observed today.


To clarify, I temporarily am using Toshiba 4960 CD to Behringer BFD to Yamaha R-XV450 AVR to Polk Rti6 bookshelk speakers. I ran the AVR in Direct mode (bypass all internal processing) and compared it to identical set-up minus the Behringer BFD at 85db at the listening position.


Thanks for listening to me think out loud while i sort this stuff out!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,445 Posts

It is unclear how you have connected things for your listening, so there is not much I can say about most of it.

 

As for EQing the main speakers, that is not a bad idea.  If it helps, use it, and if not, then don't.  You have to try it to see if you like it.  

 

Traditionally, some people have had a prejudice against EQs, as it is more in the signal path, but with modern digital processing, it should not do more than just EQ the signal that is already converted to digital (if needed) for the various processing that modern AVRs do.  Also, many people have not used EQs well, and consequently they can make things worse rather than better.  With an automatic system, it should work reasonably well, but you should try and see.  And, of course, with an automatic setup, one must place the microphone exactly as described in the manual, or it will not give a proper result.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
830 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
"To clarify, I temporarily am using Toshiba 4960 CD to Behringer BFD to Yamaha R-XV450 AVR to Polk Rti6 bookshelk speakers. I ran the AVR in Direct mode (bypass all internal processing) and compared it to identical set-up minus the Behringer BFD at 85db at the listening position"


Not sure if you missed this quote from above, but it is how things are connected. I would add that CD to BFD is analog RCA to 1/4" mono (per channel) BFD to AVR is analog 1/4" mono to RCA, and AVR to Polks is 12 gauge lamp cord from Home Depot. The Pioneer is completely out of the picture at this point. This is simply for 2ch listening. I was comparing the sound my usual set up which is identical minus the EQ.


I got it in my head a while back that EQ was bad. I overcame this fear years ago when I realized I could tame a 15db peak at 60hz in my sub response with a BFD and enjoy the bass quite a bit more but never applied that to mains. The AVR is older and does not offer Audessy (sp?) or YPAO etc. It is limited to a 3 band graphic EQ for center only.
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top