• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Do we crave distortion?

MattHooper

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
7,316
Likes
12,265
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).
 
Last edited:

Sokel

Master Contributor
Joined
Sep 8, 2021
Messages
6,092
Likes
6,132
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

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
7,316
Likes
12,265
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

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
7,316
Likes
12,265
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

Master Contributor
Joined
Sep 8, 2021
Messages
6,092
Likes
6,132
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

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
7,316
Likes
12,265
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.
 
OP
Keith_W

Keith_W

Major Contributor
Joined
Jun 26, 2016
Messages
2,656
Likes
6,057
Location
Melbourne, Australia
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

Major Contributor
Joined
May 20, 2022
Messages
1,110
Likes
1,393
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

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 25, 2022
Messages
3,351
Likes
6,854
Location
San Francisco
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

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 9, 2022
Messages
2,895
Likes
2,950
Location
Sydney
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.
 
Last edited:

Curvature

Major Contributor
Joined
May 20, 2022
Messages
1,110
Likes
1,393
For reference:
 
OP
Keith_W

Keith_W

Major Contributor
Joined
Jun 26, 2016
Messages
2,656
Likes
6,057
Location
Melbourne, Australia
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

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 25, 2022
Messages
3,351
Likes
6,854
Location
San Francisco
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.
 
Top Bottom