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Do we crave distortion?

MattHooper

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Had a look about it,this speaker?

Yes, of course. That was the point I was making. A classical musician was enthralled with a speaker that is not strictly neutral.

As I understood it, you claimed those in the " classical community prefers non distorted (and high dynamic) gear."

I took "non-distorted" to mean "more accurate," is that not right? So that the "classical community" (still not sure who that is?) seeks more accurate gear than
the average...person?...audiophile...?

My point was that I haven't seen any actual evidence for this, and the bit of evidence I can find doesn't seem to support that claim. The writer of the review is a classical musician who loved the presentation of a speaker that is not strictly neutral. And not just with classical music in general, but with recordings of his own performances, where he felt his instrument and playing were reproduced particularly well.*

So I'm still curious: what exactly is your claim? Who is the "classical community" and what type of gear do you claim they seek, and what evidence do you have for this?

Cheers.

*(And I agree with him. I found various aspects of acoustic instruments more convincing through those speakers).
 
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Sokel

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Yes, of course. That was the point I was making. A classical musician was enthralled with a speaker that is not strictly neutral.

As I understood it, you claimed those in the " classical community prefers non distorted (and high dynamic) gear."

I took "non-distorted" to mean "more accurate," is that not right? So that the "classical community" (still not sure who that is?) seeks more accurate gear than
the average...person?...audiophile...?

My point was that I haven't seen any actual evidence for this, and the bit of evidence I can find doesn't seem to support that claim. The writer of the review is a classical musician who loved the presentation of a speaker that is not strictly neutral. And not just with classical music in general, but with recordings of his own performances, where he felt his instrument and playing were reproduced particularly well.*

So I'm still curious: what exactly is your claim? Who is the "classical community" and what type of gear do you claim they seek, and what evidence do you have for this?

Cheers.

*(And I agree with him. I found various aspects of acoustic instruments more convincing through those speakers).
I can't speak for him.All I see is a speaker that looks as it sounds as a telephone.
I don't understand what you want about the people I mentioned,names and addressees?
I know some audiophiles ,my best friend is one and that's why I know some about it too but that's not the people I talk about,the (hard core) audiophiles I know usually listen to the same 10 songs,usually the ones who suit their gear.

The ones I know as @Jim Taylor correctly said favor first the ease of playback (dynamics or whatever is called) and clarity all over the spectrum.
Same with the pros who installed my gear,you can tell by my charts I think.
 

MattHooper

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As for the testimonies of soloists, I have found out over the years that soloists tend to concentrate on performances that emphasize the interests of the soloist. I view that as natural. Bassist primarily notice the bass line, and vocalists primarily notice the vocals, and so on and so forth.

That is certainly common among musicians, which is one reason why many don't have good systems. They don't need it.

But then that would undermine the idea that musicians, classical or otherwise, have "solid preferences" for any particular type of audio systems, neutral or otherwise.

Basically from what I've seen musicians are on a spectrum like the rest of us; some don't care about high end gear, issues of accuracy, coloration or whatever, while some happen to be audiophiles as well and who take care in selecting their components. My father was a working jazz musician and high school music teacher and he was an avid audiophile.

As a listener, I view the totality of the finished product. I think that is proper ... don't you?

I don't have a view on what anyone else should think in order to enjoy music.
 

MattHooper

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I can't speak for him.All I see is a speaker that looks as it sounds as a telephone.

That would speak to how some people can be mislead in interpreting measurements.

Your description is the exact opposite of how those speakers actually sound. Telephone sound is associated with extremely thin sound. Those speakers are the opposite: They tend to sound bigger and richer than the typical loudspeaker. I found that they sounded particularly convincing with acoustic instruments. String sections, for instance, had more life-like "heft" and size and density, vs the thin, wan versions I hear on most loudspeakers. I've rarely heard strings sound more like strings, from my experience. The classical flutist listening to those speakers certainly didn't hear his instrument as "through a telephone" but rather very much as he is used to hearing it. This is why subjective reports can actually be informative (where some would just dismiss those speakers based on the measurements not hitting a specified criteria).

I don't understand what you want about the people I mentioned,names and addressees?
I know some audiophiles ,my best friend is one and that's why I know some about it too but that's not the people I talk about,the (hard core) audiophiles I know usually listen to the same 10 songs,usually the ones who suit their gear.

I was just wondering on what evidence you based your claim about the "solid" preferences in the classical community.

It sounds like some personal anecdotes. Ok. Puts in perspective.

It seems to me you were generally open to the idea that if a system can reproduce certain important elements in classical music, for instance dynamics, then lesser failures (e.g. deviations from strict tonal neutrality?) can be forgiven. Is that right? If so I'd agree. (And the Devore speakers are one such example IMO). Cheers.
 

Sokel

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That would speak to how some people can be mislead in interpreting measurements.

Your description is the exact opposite of how those speakers actually sound. Telephone sound is associated with extremely thin sound. Those speakers are the opposite: They tend to sound bigger and richer than the typical loudspeaker. I found that they sounded particularly convincing with acoustic instruments. String sections, for instance, had more life-like "heft" and size and density, vs the thin, wan versions I hear on most loudspeakers. I've rarely heard strings sound more like strings, from my experience. The classical flutist listening to those speakers certainly didn't hear his instrument as "through a telephone" but rather very much as he is used to hearing it. This is why subjective reports can actually be informative (where some would just dismiss those speakers based on the measurements not hitting a specified criteria).



I was just wondering on what evidence you based your claim about the "solid" preferences in the classical community.

It sounds like some personal anecdotes. Ok. Puts in perspective.

It seems to me you were generally open to the idea that if a system can reproduce certain important elements in classical music, for instance dynamics, then lesser failures (e.g. deviations from strict tonal neutrality?) can be forgiven. Is that right? If so I'd agree. (And the Devore speakers are one such example IMO). Cheers.
The old telephones I know of (there are plug ins for those) are a midrange like this with no highs.
Sure I can deviate from a strict line (specially in the 2-4Khz area,brings me headache if it's prominent,lower is better for me) but not from the fundamentals where the musical energy lies,like the midbass.

Make the bass higher,I don't care about 20Hz,but i do care about a robust 30-200Hz without significant holes so a baritone sounds like one and not like his mouth is a cave or a pin hole,that's the foundation,and a fairly neutral midrange.
And as much as power for peaks available of course.

That's not to say I don't enjoy just about anything except the ones that sound thin or strident or squeak if you push them a little hard.
So big and neutral is a safe bet.
 

MattHooper

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The old telephones I know of (there are plug ins for those) are a midrange like this with no highs.
I know. I work in film sound. We use them all the time :)

Sure I can deviate from a strict line (specially in the 2-4Khz area,brings me headache if it's prominent,lower is better for me) but not from the fundamentals where the musical energy lies,like the midbass.

Make the bass higher,I don't care about 20Hz,but i do care about a robust 30-200Hz without significant holes so a baritone sounds like one and not like his mouth is a cave or a pin hole,that's the foundation,and a fairly neutral midrange.
And as much as power for peaks available of course.

I won't belabour this, as there's already a thread on this, but the particular graph you reproduced doesn't tell the whole story. The speakers are pretty directional in the highs, but on axis they are actually pretty neutral, though "big and rich" sounding. I found that in person the highs were open and airy and very realistic sounding (I don't like dark sounding speakers, which to me don't sound life-like).

So big and neutral is a safe bet.

As a generality, probably for most of the people most of the time, I agree.

Not for everyone all the time, though.
 
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Keith_W

Keith_W

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Revisiting this old topic. I have a question - does harmonic distortion matter more in low frequencies compared to high freqs? To me, it intuitively makes sense. The 2nd harmonic of a 20Hz fundamental is 40Hz, third harmonic 60Hz, and so on. All easily audible. However, the second harmonic of 10kHz is 20kHz. I definitely can't hear that, although younger ASR members might.

If my intuition is correct, this means that if we want to avoid audible harmonic distortion, we need to focus on preventing low frequencies from distorting. Alternatively, if we want to add harmonic distortion and make the sound "richer", we should be adding it at low frequencies.

At the moment I am adding fixed amounts of harmonic distortion across the entire frequency band. I would like to experiment with selectively adding it to some bands, and have the harmonic distortion vary with volume. Is anybody aware of a VST that does this?
 

Curvature

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Revisiting this old topic. I have a question - does harmonic distortion matter more in low frequencies compared to high freqs? To me, it intuitively makes sense. The 2nd harmonic of a 20Hz fundamental is 40Hz, third harmonic 60Hz, and so on. All easily audible. However, the second harmonic of 10kHz is 20kHz. I definitely can't hear that, although younger ASR members might.

If my intuition is correct, this means that if we want to avoid audible harmonic distortion, we need to focus on preventing low frequencies from distorting. Alternatively, if we want to add harmonic distortion and make the sound "richer", we should be adding it at low frequencies.

At the moment I am adding fixed amounts of harmonic distortion across the entire frequency band. I would like to experiment with selectively adding it to some bands, and have the harmonic distortion vary with volume. Is anybody aware of a VST that does this?
I'm not sure how your system is setup, but in a DAW you can use several channels: so create a crossover and apply Hx to the lower region.
 

kemmler3D

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if we want to avoid audible harmonic distortion, we need to focus on preventing low frequencies from distorting. Alternatively, if we want to add harmonic distortion and make the sound "richer", we should be adding it at low frequencies.
I think this is basically right, but for whatever reason I've heard that harmonic distortion of bass is not as audible as it would be in the mids. And of course as you've noted THD of treble often falls outside of the audible band.

As for a VST that does what you're asking... it's not hard to set up in a DAW. As far as standalone VSTs go, I am not sure if there are any free ones, but a quick google shows that Fabfilter Saturn should do the trick. You would link the envelope follower control to the mix level so that you get more/less distortion depending on input level. https://www.pluginboutique.com/prod...n/6423-FabFilter-Saturn-2?a_aid=5faa79ec85224
 

Axo1989

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Revisiting this old topic. I have a question - does harmonic distortion matter more in low frequencies compared to high freqs? To me, it intuitively makes sense. The 2nd harmonic of a 20Hz fundamental is 40Hz, third harmonic 60Hz, and so on. All easily audible. However, the second harmonic of 10kHz is 20kHz. I definitely can't hear that, although younger ASR members might.

If my intuition is correct, this means that if we want to avoid audible harmonic distortion, we need to focus on preventing low frequencies from distorting. Alternatively, if we want to add harmonic distortion and make the sound "richer", we should be adding it at low frequencies.

At the moment I am adding fixed amounts of harmonic distortion across the entire frequency band. I would like to experiment with selectively adding it to some bands, and have the harmonic distortion vary with volume. Is anybody aware of a VST that does this?

I'd say it's complex.

It's unlikely we hear any harmonics outside the audible range, obviously. But we may also be less sensitive to harmonic distortion of fundamental bass frequencies. The usual masking of lower (order) harmonics applies for all frequencies.

I think intermodulation distortion graphs give a more immediate/holistic picture, but there are many variables to consider.
 
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Curvature

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For reference:
 
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Keith_W

Keith_W

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I think this is basically right, but for whatever reason I've heard that harmonic distortion of bass is not as audible as it would be in the mids. And of course as you've noted THD of treble often falls outside of the audible band.

As for a VST that does what you're asking... it's not hard to set up in a DAW. As far as standalone VSTs go, I am not sure if there are any free ones, but a quick google shows that Fabfilter Saturn should do the trick. You would link the envelope follower control to the mix level so that you get more/less distortion depending on input level. https://www.pluginboutique.com/prod...n/6423-FabFilter-Saturn-2?a_aid=5faa79ec85224

It's not hard to set up a DAW? :) I have tried. I failed. I should try harder!

Can DAW's be used as real time audio processors? i.e. send output from my music player through it.
 

kemmler3D

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It's not hard to set up a DAW? :) I have tried. I failed. I should try harder!

Can DAW's be used as real time audio processors? i.e. send output from my music player through it.
Well, let me rephrase: This effect is not hard to get in a DAW if you're familiar with a DAW. As FX setups go it would be fairly straightforward. (send the audio to 2 tracks, filter one of the tracks, add the THD plugin to that track, use 100% wet output, done) Otherwise I guess it might seem pretty advanced.

Fabfilter Saturn ought to do it stand-alone in EQAPO or Jriver though.
 

lashto

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So the argument is that, if the ear adds distortion, then adding more distortion in similar fashion must be pleasing?

An alternative theory, for which I have no proof (nor care to find any), is that our brain compensates the ear's transfer function and adding additional distortion is less pleasing.
did not have much audio time this year but your "brain compensates the ear" post did stuck.
A bit of searching brought confirmation from an unexpected place: a seller of super duper expensive amps. Pretty bold and cheeky guys too: "Riviera is the future to be heard in analogue." But then, none of that makes em wrong.

Their technology page ~repeats what I've been posting:
... many studies have verified the creation of harmonics inside the ear and, specifically, in the cochlea. This is not a new discovery. First reports on this distortion are from Fletcher (yes, the famous of the Fletcher-Munson curve, in the ‘20s); more precise reports came from H.F. Olson (Acoustics, 1947) and many others later. It is interesting to observe that the ear generates really high levels of second harmonic: about 10% for pressure levels of 90dB (not 120dB, 90dB!).

... and nicely combines it with what you said:
The key points are:
1) the high level of distortion the ear self generates;
2) the ear+brain system cancel those harmonics and the perception is that of an absolutely pure tone.
In other words, the hearing system suppresses the harmonics generated by itself. Interesting, isn’t it? Even more interesting is this: the system suppresses the sound of “that” range of harmonics even if they are of “external “ origin, under the condition that the shape, the pattern, is maintained. Quite obvious: the system is programmed to cancel that shape of distortion and it cannot distinguish whether the origin of the distortion is internal or external (some interesting musical phenomena are related to this behavior, i.e. the missing fundamental note). If the harmonics differs from this pattern shape, the ear+brain system detects the harmonics as different tones.
One piece of extra info (at least for me) is that the ear only cancels its own HD spectra. Anything different stays and may sound very meh.
In retrospect, that sounds quite obvious. It cannot really be an universal distortion 'cancellator', just a sort of one-trick-pony.
And they conclude ~what I've been advocating in this thread:
Based on this, we think that an amplifier generating a distortion spectrum similar to that of human ear will result extremely transparent and clean, even if its THD level is relatively high.
Two examples of devices with ear-like-HD are tube-amps and turntables .. and the above is exactly what their (many) fans keep saying.

Anyway, there is still at least one "problem in paradise": haven't seen any serious proof/paper about the brain's HD-cancelling mechanism. Maybe someone else can help ...
 
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lashto

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So the argument is that, if the ear adds distortion, then adding more distortion in similar fashion must be pleasing?

... adding additional distortion is less pleasing.
That is a bit of a missunderstanding, I am not (necessarily) for "adding additional distortion". Mostly just the same as those riviera guys: make sure that all audio devices produce a distortion spectra ~same as the ear's.
Yes, in some cases it might be necessary to add extra distortion to achieve the ear's HD spectrum .. but that is just a side-effect.
Yes, in some cases adding extra HD can be (more) pleasing. Matter of taste and quite well supported by theory/DBTs/science. Let it be and maybe we can go easier with those "haha sucker likes distortion" posts.
And if the ear-like-HD can be done with less distortion & it sounds same as good or even better .. please do.

Just keep the HD-spectra of the ear and it'll all be roses :)

P.S.
And since the ear adds 1-10% of HD, even speakers will not count much in terms of "adding distortion". 10.1% is not exactly a huge diff. But if that 0.1% changes the HD-spectra, it may very well be audible. And 0.1% was demonstrated to be audible, even though "simple" THD numbers/math seem to say the opposite.
 
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