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Accurate and boring or colored and fun

MakeMineVinyl

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Like it or not, all of us are living with a permanent EQ. That is the speaker, and we choose our speakers based on their colorations - no speaker is totally uncolored. Some like more high end, some like more low end, and some like combinations of both with bands of emphasis spattered through the range. But make no mistake, we are already living with coloration and lack of 'neutrality' whether we acknowledge it or not. As long as we wiggle physical things back and forth to produce sound, this state of affairs is unlikely to change significantly.

Then there is the room which layers on a whole 'nother bunch of colorations.

A 'flatter' speaker does not have to be 'boring', and a speaker with wildly fluctuating response is not necessarily 'more fun'. ;)
 

Robin L

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Understandable!
Got bored with [in this order, more or less] the Fisher 500C, Dyna 70/PAS 3, Marantz 8b power, Audible Illusions pre. Ampex MX 10 was way too much trouble, as were Schoeps tubed microphones. I had a "starved tube" hybrid microphone preamp that had some useful limiting and rounding off of the sound. My Stax hybrid tube/JFET headphone amp/energizer never was boring. The Scott 299B was perfectly lovely playing 1950's LPs 'til the tubes gave out. Couldn't do much else with it as it didn't play well with modern gear.
 

MattHooper

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"Isn't it easier to have a solution that does not color the sound and when, if you want a colored sound, you plug in an EQ? "


No. :)

At least, not for me.

I had an Z-Systems RDP-1 digital EQ in my system for almost 20 years. I barely ever found use for it.

I'm not too bad with an EQ - I use EQ all day in my work to manipulate sounds just as I want them. But try as I might I could not truly duplicate the sound I got with the tube amps just using the EQ with a solid state amp. (As a side note, from what I understand tube amp simulation plug ins don't simply work by eq-frequency manipulation, but include other distortion factors, saturation etc).

But people don't want you to reduce their illusion and mysticism to something as simple as that.

I don't think there is anything magic going on in my tube amps. But as I said, I personally did not find it easy to simply mimic the characteristics just with an EQ.
 

MattHooper

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Like it or not, all of us are living with a permanent EQ. That is the speaker, and we choose our speakers based on their colorations - no speaker is totally uncolored. Some like more high end, some like more low end, and some like combinations of both with bands of emphasis spattered through the range. But make no mistake, we are already living with coloration and lack of 'neutrality' whether we acknowledge it or not. As long as we wiggle physical things back and forth to produce sound, this state of affairs is unlikely to change significantly.

Then there is the room which layers on a whole 'nother bunch of colorations.

A 'flatter' speaker does not have to be 'boring', and a speaker with wildly fluctuating response is not necessarily 'more fun'. ;)

Yes this is a point I've made before.

We are all choosing compromises (or most of us).

You may have the most neutral speakers in the world, but if they don't go flat to 20HZ, say they are a stand mounted speaker not full range and you aren't using subs, then you are "distorting" plenty of musical tracks by "removing" sonic information in those tracks (that which exists on the track but occurs below the frequencies your speaker can play).

Then there are the different room effects etc.

Not that one can't get closer or further to neutrality, but the point is I think plenty of folks who espouse "accuracy" (which I'm not against!) are likely making their own compromises.
 

stevenswall

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I don't think there is anything magic going on in my tube amps. But as I said, I personally did not find it easy to simply mimic the characteristics just with an EQ.

Yeah, if you want additional harmonics/distortion you'd need to use something besides just EQ. Warmth, 'detail', brightness, sibilance, air, and other frequency response issues seem to be the most common which seem to be things you can EQ in to a neutral speaker without bad resonances.
 

egellings

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With tube amps, there is also the home constructor part of it to consider, and I listen through home brewed ones. Tube circuits are simple and forgiving compared to S.S. ones, and parts & plans are readily available, so it's possible for people to make, or 'craft' their own amplifiers using the technology. That can go a long way in how one views sound quality of their own creation, given that it is at least reasonably electrically competent.
 

Purité Audio

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Like it or not, all of us are living with a permanent EQ. That is the speaker, and we choose our speakers based on their colorations - no speaker is totally uncolored. Some like more high end, some like more low end, and some like combinations of both with bands of emphasis spattered through the range. But make no mistake, we are already living with coloration and lack of 'neutrality' whether we acknowledge it or not. As long as we wiggle physical things back and forth to produce sound, this state of affairs is unlikely to change significantly.

Then there is the room which layers on a whole 'nother bunch of colorations.

A 'flatter' speaker does not have to be 'boring', and a speaker with wildly fluctuating response is not necessarily 'more fun'. ;)
Actually contemporary loudspeakers are pretty much transparent, given that they include the ability to adjust for the room’s additions.
Keith
 

MakeMineVinyl

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Actually contemporary loudspeakers are pretty much transparent, given that they include the ability to adjust for the room’s additions.
Keith
If the frequency response isn't a straight line, it ain't completely transparent. ;)
 
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jtgofish

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Different speakers will sound different in different rooms.Just like musical instruments.
A speaker that measures flat might be the last thing you need in your room.The best speaker is the one that sounds best in your room and system to you.Anything else including how it measures is almost irrelevant.
 

Galliardist

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As typical real instrument sounds. Most of them are really bad in nearfield without aggressive equalization.
Which raises the question, when a solo violinist is recorded and played back in studio conditions, should it sound like that violinist playing that violin in that studio, or your (romanticised?) idea of what a violin "should" sound like, probably achieved by "aggressive equalisation"?
Note the loaded language - I tend towards one of the choices, obviously.

The answer, surely, should be somewhat more nuanced - the real answer is that there are reasons why that performer played and interpreted that music when that recording took place, and that the recording's job is to allow us to listen and respond to the performance on our domestic playback systems.
 

MakeMineVinyl

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Which raises the question, when a solo violinist is recorded and played back in studio conditions, should it sound like that violinist playing that violin in that studio, or your (romanticised?) idea of what a violin "should" sound like, probably achieved by "aggressive equalisation"?
Note the loaded language - I tend towards one of the choices, obviously.

The answer, surely, should be somewhat more nuanced - the real answer is that there are reasons why that performer played and interpreted that music when that recording took place, and that the recording's job is to allow us to listen and respond to the performance on our domestic playback systems.
It depends on the intent. If the violin is playing a classical piece then the objective would be to have it sound as natural as possible and probably no EQ would be used. If its playing as background to some song, then it will sound the way the engineer determines that will blend with the other tracks.

Note however that microphones, like speakers, are colored intentionally, some more or less than others. Microphones for recording music (as opposed to instrumentation mics used for measurements) most typically have an emphasis on the upper end of the audio spectrum, and may have a proximity effect which boosts bass when the instrument or especially voice is close to the mic. Recording engineers pick the microphone's coloration to work well with a particular instrument, so in this sense essentially every music recording is 'equalized', either via electronic manipulation or by the character of the microphone.
 

Galliardist

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It depends on the intent. If the violin is playing a classical piece then the objective would be to have it sound as natural as possible and probably no EQ would be used. If its playing as background to some song, then it will sound the way the engineer determines that will blend with the other tracks.

Note however that microphones, like speakers, are colored intentionally, some more or less than others. Microphones for recording music (as opposed to instrumentation mics used for measurements) most typically have an emphasis on the upper end of the audio spectrum, and may have a proximity effect which boosts bass when the instrument or especially voice is close to the mic. Recording engineers pick the microphone's coloration to work well with a particular instrument, so in this sense essentially every music recording is 'equalized', either via electronic manipulation or by the character of the microphone.
Nice answer, though it shows a tendency of people on forums like this to go straight to a practicality when faced with a more abstract or philosophical question.
to respond to your points:
Except in a studio creation where everything is multitracked, there should be no difference between properly capturing a "classical piece" (by which I take it you see the violin as the solo instrument) or whether the violinist is playing a part in an ensemble/group recording. Part of any musical performance is the performer's response to their surroundings and to other players in a group, and the group members (perhaps conductor when used) should be responsible for the balance, the engineer's job to capture rather than determine it.

Perhaps we should be arguing for more accurate microphones and subsequent EQ. Colouring the performance in advance of it even happening just feels wrong in an age where we now have accurate choices available..
 

Robin L

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Nice answer, though it shows a tendency of people on forums like this to go straight to a practicality when faced with a more abstract or philosophical question.
to respond to your points:
Except in a studio creation where everything is multitracked, there should be no difference between properly capturing a "classical piece" (by which I take it you see the violin as the solo instrument) or whether the violinist is playing a part in an ensemble/group recording. Part of any musical performance is the performer's response to their surroundings and to other players in a group, and the group members (perhaps conductor when used) should be responsible for the balance, the engineer's job to capture rather than determine it.

Perhaps we should be arguing for more accurate microphones and subsequent EQ. Colouring the performance in advance of it even happening just feels wrong in an age where we now have accurate choices available..
I gather that you have made recordings of classical music?
 

MakeMineVinyl

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Nice answer, though it shows a tendency of people on forums like this to go straight to a practicality when faced with a more abstract or philosophical question.
to respond to your points:
Except in a studio creation where everything is multitracked, there should be no difference between properly capturing a "classical piece" (by which I take it you see the violin as the solo instrument) or whether the violinist is playing a part in an ensemble/group recording. Part of any musical performance is the performer's response to their surroundings and to other players in a group, and the group members (perhaps conductor when used) should be responsible for the balance, the engineer's job to capture rather than determine it.

Perhaps we should be arguing for more accurate microphones and subsequent EQ. Colouring the performance in advance of it even happening just feels wrong in an age where we now have accurate choices available..
I was speaking practically since I spent the beginning of my career as a recording engineer, initially owning my own studio (8 track 1") and freelancing doing classical and rock sessions, and ultimately working as a recording engineer at Sound City (the one they made a movie about).

At any rate, you certainly don't want to use a perfectly flat microphone to record music, and there are several reasons for this. The main sonic problem with using a 'flat' microphone to record instruments is that the result will end up sounding subjectively dull and lifeless. Microphones for recording have the typically elevated high end in order to overcome this since our ears hear differently than microphones. The result will subjectively sound 'natural' rather than sounding like it has its treble boosted. This is just as true of classical sessions as it is of other types of studio recording.

Another practical reason is noise. Recording with a 'flat' microphone and subsequently boosting the high frequencies (trust me, you'd end up doing that) will increase any electronic noise from the microphone. This is especially harmful when recording classical music with its wide dynamic range (I usually recorded using three spaced omni microphones).

Perhaps most practically, when there is a studio full of musicians earning union-scale and the clock is running, you absolutely don't have time to tweak around with EQ to 'get your sound'. You have to place microphones you know will complement the instruments at hand and get on with it. Some preliminary EQ might be added here or there based on experience, but the focus of a tracking session is getting the performance down on tape (in those days) and not wasting time.
 

tomtoo

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Actually THD is a poor predictor of subjective preference.

The GedLee Metric correlates much better with subjective preference. It looks at the transfer function directly and includes weighting based on psychoacoustic principles.

After he had completed the data analysis which resulted in his AES papers on the subject, Earl remarked to me, "Duke, now I understand why you and your friends like tube amps."

Ok, if i get it right.The only thing that changes is that higher order harmonics get more wight. But even this would not change much if we talk about 0.000x% thd of a good modern amp. Even if the wighting would make it 100 times more worse it would stay under many tubes. You had than to compare sota tubes against average SS. At least if your goal is low distortion. What is not everyones. What i accept,
 

Galliardist

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I gather that you have made recordings of classical music?
I've done some field recordings with portable recorders, but nothing like what we're talking about here.

I was speaking practically since I spent the beginning of my career as a recording engineer, initially owning my own studio (8 track 1") and freelancing doing classical and rock sessions, and ultimately working as a recording engineer at Sound City (the one they made a movie about).

At any rate, you certainly don't want to use a perfectly flat microphone to record music, and there are several reasons for this. The main sonic problem with using a 'flat' microphone to record instruments is that the result will end up sounding subjectively dull and lifeless. Microphones for recording have the typically elevated high end in order to overcome this since our ears hear differently than microphones. The result will subjectively sound 'natural' rather than sounding like it has its treble boosted. This is just as true of classical sessions as it is of other types of studio recording.

Another practical reason is noise. Recording with a 'flat' microphone and subsequently boosting the high frequencies (trust me, you'd end up doing that) will increase any electronic noise from the microphone. This is especially harmful when recording classical music with its wide dynamic range (I usually recorded using three spaced omni microphones).

Perhaps most practically, when there is a studio full of musicians earning union-scale and the clock is running, you absolutely don't have time to tweak around with EQ to 'get your sound'. You have to place microphones you know will complement the instruments at hand and get on with it. Some preliminary EQ might be added here or there based on experience, but the focus of a tracking session is getting the performance down on tape (in those days) and not wasting time.
Of course, I know a lot of this and still put forward the dumb version of the proposal, despite your prompting. What I'm really asking. and the question is still dumb, is whether we can get microphones that accurately (or very close) translate the sound into the studio into a form that is accurate to the average human ear, and use those. In the general case the answer is still no - microphones are no more transparent than loudspeakers.
We are dependent on recording engineers.
 
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