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Genelec on audio science

svart-hvitt

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I think that the Genelec blurb about flattening the in-room response is in complete contradiction to what was being recommended by Dr. Toole in this thread earlier (and my rants on many occasions in other threads!).

There you have it: the speaker is being set up wrongly (in the opinion of some of us) yet being used as a "reference" in the recording industry. I do wonder if this is responsible for some of the recordings over the years that I have heard that are mysteriously unsatisfying at the top end, with the engineers compensating for the over-bright sound (for as long as they can bear to listen to the 'reference setting') by shaving off the top end.

And after they've had enough, the 'science' is overridden with some ad hoc arbitrary tweaks that may make the sound more bearable:


Clearly they are confused by the awfulness of the sound of their own automated 'room correction' system, but they continue to sell it it.
@Cosmik , I read your funny tease and thought I should tease back.

You wrote: "I do wonder if this is responsible for some of the recordings over the years that I have heard that are mysteriously unsatisfying at the top end, with the engineers compensating for the over-bright sound (for as long as they can bear to listen to the 'reference setting') by shaving off the top end".

Then you go on an imply that Genelec is part of the problem which you formulate as shaving off top-end frequencies due to using wrong in-room curves.

Let's look at the data to replace your confusion and prejudices with facts and science. Take a look at figures 33, 34 and 35 on pages 96, 97 and 98 in this excellent master thesis (figures are posted below as well) from 2012:

www.makingsciencenews.com/catalogue/papers/394/download

This thesis is excellent in my eyes due to its empirical nature. In my view, there's too little empirical analysis around and too much theorizing (however, only measurements without theory is not satisfying either, so there needs to be a mix of empirical data and theory in a good research program). The master thesis by Rudolf Matthis Ortner, is based on a vast empirical database of 10.000 recordings in the past 60 years. The clever student has analysed the tracks and looks at things like average (median) frequency response etc.

What the empirical record (sic!) tells us is that the low frequencies have been pumped up for decades. Additionally, the lower frequencies are clustered a bit differently in modern times as compared to the 1950s. The high frequencies have been increased as well. But the bass frequencies have increased more than high frequencies. From 1982-1984 to 2006-2008, low frequencies (122 Hz) increased by 12 dB. High frequencies (8318 Hz) increased by 8,5 dB from 1979-1981 to 2003-2005. Hence the title of the thesis: "Je lauter desto mehr Bumm" (the louder the boomier).

In other words: You are sort of right in your remark that the high end may be a bit missing on recordings compared to the norm of yesteryear, relative to the low frequencies. However, this trend - boosting the low frequencies more than boosting the high frequencies - is so massive and clear that it would be conspirative to use Genelec's speakers to explain this phenomenon.

Instead of launching esoteric conspiration theories on room curves, the master student concludes that the empirical data is evidence of the loudness war; and in this decades long process the bass frequencies have increased the most.

To conclude, as you do, that Genelec and broadcast specifications is the explanation of the loudness war is a bit off I guess. I have never seen that argument before; that Genelec and others, making products that can be applied according to broadcast specifications, are the culprits in the loudness war debate.

In other words, it seems like your problem with the modern sound is attributable to the loudness war. Going from there to conclude that the loudness war is due to pro monitor producers and the frequency curve of such monitors seems confused.

Your comments on Genelec monitors are the product of invention and phantasy. GLM, and before that dip switches (all Genelec monitors still have dip switches), would let the user have the anechoically flat sound if he wanted to. Genelec never made monitors that are coloured. And the changing of the monitor characteristics due to room influences or to avoid listening fatigue was always voluntary, just a switch or click away from anechoically flat.

What remains of your comment is that you tried to put the blame for the loudness war on Genelec. And instead of criticizing EBU and those that make the standards, you criticize Genelec. So I guess your comment is a good example of the "Love hate relationship" people have with Genelec. As in other walks of life, hate is often the result of ignorance. And in pursuing hate, science loses.

Having said that, what strikes me in this discussion is that you so often use the opportunity to point out that people listen through the room. This means, implicitly, that people know what a good loudspeaker sounds like in-room. So far so good and in full compliance with established research by Toole, Genelec and others. And then, forgetting your prior stated scientifically supported view that people can separate good from poor speakers, you speculate that audio engineers in studios are different; as if they wouldn't hear if dip switches or DSP room software harmed the sound instead of improving it. In other words, in your world, audio engineers are different; they have poor ears. However, since you can't prove that audio engineers have significantly poorer ears than the rest of the population, this is another example of your starting with an interesting first principle (good speakers are anechoically flat and people like neutral sound, etc.) that you push too far, which then leads to false conclusions.


Teasingly (!!!) yours,

;)


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Purité Audio

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Dr Toole does discuss engineers versus civilian preferences in terms of sound quality in his ‘Sound Reproduction’.
Keith
 

Purité Audio

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Your last paragraph. Svart I have to ask do you work for Genelec in some capacity, it is just that I have never seen anyone defend a brand so doggedly .
Keith
 

svart-hvitt

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Your last paragraph. Svart I have to ask do you work for Genelec in some capacity, it is just that I have never seen anyone defend a brand so doggedly .
Keith
Toole's research indicated that trained listeners, say studio folk, have different preferences than ordinary people. There's a subtle yet important difference between "poorer ears", which I wrote, and different preferences. Hint: Preferences can be the result of training while "poorer ears" is a physical trait, characteristic.

Then you write: "...work for Genelec in some capacity"? Are you teasing, or trying to flatter?

What's the intention of this thread, you may ask? Well, among other things, I am just curious; what happens if you present a company following the scientific narrow path for four decades in a forum whose name is Audio Science Forum? It seems like the usual "Love Hate" surfaces here as anywhere else. That's interesting.

No, there is no relationship between Genelec and me; and I think you already knew that, didn't you?

However, let me introduce myself in the selfie-picture below (taken from The Audio Critic number 24, 1997, page 10)


Not taking ASR life too seriously yours,

;)

 
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Cosmik

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@Cosmik , I read your funny tease and thought I should tease back.

Instead of launching esoteric conspiration theories on room curves, the master student concludes that the empirical data is evidence of the loudness war; and in this decades long process the bass frequencies have increased the most.

To conclude, as you do, that Genelec and broadcast specifications is the explanation of the loudness war is a bit off I guess. I have never seen that argument before; that Genelec and others, making products that can be applied according to broadcast specifications, are the culprits in the loudness war debate.

In other words, it seems like your problem with the modern sound is attributable to the loudness war. Going from there to conclude that the loudness war is due to pro monitor producers and the frequency curve of such monitors seems confused.

Your comments on Genelec monitors are the product of invention and phantasy. GLM, and before that dip switches (all Genelec monitors still have dip switches), would let the user have the anechoically flat sound if he wanted to. Genelec never made monitors that are coloured. And the changing of the monitor characteristics due to room influences or to avoid listening fatigue was always voluntary, just a switch or click away from anechoically flat.
You were the one who told us that Genelec monitors are in 87% of recording studios (or whatever the figure was). If they are set up for flat in-room response as recommended by the manufacturers as a "reference" and therefore too bright (as some of us think), it is not too great a leap to speculate that the 'circle of confusion' is in full operation and therefore affecting records. (If it doesn't affect the recordings, why bother with 'scientific' monitor speakers at all?) To me, this just seems logical from the information we're given.

I never mentioned the loudness war, and if research shows a change in spectrum over time or whatever that report concludes, that can be completely independent of what I am speculating about.

(I do enjoy our conversations - it is always interesting to find someone who thinks in a completely different way to how I do!)
 

Floyd Toole

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Toole's research indicated that trained listeners, say studio folk, have different preferences than ordinary people. There's a subtle yet important difference between "poorer ears", which I wrote, and different preferences. Hint: Preferences can be the result of training while "poorer ears" is a physical trait, characteristic.
Sorry, but again you have not read, and/or understood what I have written. Chapter 3 discusses these matters in some detail, and I refer to Olive's work and show some of the results:
Olive, S.E. (1994). “A Method for Training Listeners and Selecting Program Material for Listening Tests”, Audio Eng. Soc. 97thConvention, preprint 3893.

Olive, S.E. (2001). “A New Listener Training Software Application”, 110thConvention, Audio Eng. Soc., Preprint No. 5384.

Olive, S.E. (2003). “Difference in Performance and Preference of Trained versus Untrained Listeners in Loudspeaker Tests: A Case Study”, J. Audio Eng. Soc., 51, pp. 806-825.

In summary, it is explained that the training is in the ability to recognize resonances, the most common flaw in loudspeakers - it is not, as some have assumed, teaching them to like any specific "voicing". In general the most neutral, least colored, loudspeakers are awarded the highest scores. With such training listeners are more consistent in their sound quality ratings BUT their product preferences are not different from those of untrained listeners (see the 2003 paper). Experience helps, but training is best from the perspective of rating consistency during repeated randomized exposures to the same sounds. See Figure 3.9, for example. The following paper is one of several that illustrate the somewhat surprising similarity in preferences among listeners of different ages and cultures.

Olive, S.E., Welti, T. and McMullin, E. (2014).“The Influence of Listeners’ Experience, Age and Culture on Headphone Sound Quality Preferences”, 137th Convention, Audio Eng. Soc., Paper 9177.

As for audio professionals, "studio folk" as you call them, when included in populations of "general" listeners and audiophiles they do not distinguish themselves except that those with significant hearing loss (an occupational hazard in pro audio) exhibit inconsistent ratings in repeated exposures to the same sounds. Those with relatively normal hearing did not have distinctive preferences in spite of suspicions that they might. Section 3.2 elaborates on this with examples. This is a problem in both music and movie sound industries. Chapter 17 elaborates.
 

svart-hvitt

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Sorry, but again you have not read, and/or understood what I have written. Chapter 3 discusses these matters in some detail, and I refer to Olive's work and show some of the results:
Olive, S.E. (1994). “A Method for Training Listeners and Selecting Program Material for Listening Tests”, Audio Eng. Soc. 97thConvention, preprint 3893.

Olive, S.E. (2001). “A New Listener Training Software Application”, 110thConvention, Audio Eng. Soc., Preprint No. 5384.

Olive, S.E. (2003). “Difference in Performance and Preference of Trained versus Untrained Listeners in Loudspeaker Tests: A Case Study”, J. Audio Eng. Soc., 51, pp. 806-825.

In summary, it is explained that the training is in the ability to recognize resonances, the most common flaw in loudspeakers - it is not, as some have assumed, teaching them to like any specific "voicing". In general the most neutral, least colored, loudspeakers are awarded the highest scores. With such training listeners are more consistent in their sound quality ratings BUT their product preferences are not different from those of untrained listeners (see the 2003 paper). Experience helps, but training is best from the perspective of rating consistency during repeated randomized exposures to the same sounds. See Figure 3.9, for example. The following paper is one of several that illustrate the somewhat surprising similarity in preferences among listeners of different ages and cultures.

Olive, S.E., Welti, T. and McMullin, E. (2014).“The Influence of Listeners’ Experience, Age and Culture on Headphone Sound Quality Preferences”, 137th Convention, Audio Eng. Soc., Paper 9177.

As for audio professionals, "studio folk" as you call them, when included in populations of "general" listeners and audiophiles they do not distinguish themselves except that those with significant hearing loss (an occupational hazard in pro audio) exhibit inconsistent ratings in repeated exposures to the same sounds. Those with relatively normal hearing did not have distinctive preferences in spite of suspicions that they might. Section 3.2 elaborates on this with examples. This is a problem in both music and movie sound industries. Chapter 17 elaborates.
Thanks, @Floyd Toole , I need to look closer at this!

FWIW, most of the time I’m confused about everything. So many people ask me why I focus on so few things.

Audio is a relatively new thing to me, though the statistics are very familier from what I normally do.

:)
 

pirad

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Loudness wars resulted from the proliferation of mobile music reproduction: car radios, walkmans, ipods, smartphones now...The background noise of 60-70dB forced the squeezing of signals towards the clipping range. That’s my theory anyway.
 

amirm

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Toole's research indicated that trained listeners, say studio folk, have different preferences than ordinary people.
His/Dr. Olive's research shows that the preference is actually the same for trained versus untrained listeners. See: http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2008/12/loudspeaker-preferences-of-trained.html

Harman Trained vs Untrained.png


As you see, the trained listeners give lower scores but overall preference/ranking for speakers are the same.

What you mean to say is that people who work with music as a job, have different preference when doing such work.
 

RayDunzl

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My favorite graph...
 

Theo

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Very intersting thread, with a lot of information to process. Thank you all!
A comment about the thesis (unfortunately, couldn't read it as it is in german...): it would appear that according to the spectrum curves figures that the "best" recordings (at least below 3-4kHz) would be from 1976-1978 or 1985-1987... Any particular reason?
What is missing though, IMHO, is an analysis based on music style. I would bet that these curves would look different. The share of acoustic (jazz/classical...) or electronic (D&B for example) - which started to become a significant share of the music market in the 80's, may explain some of the general trend.
I am not a professional sound engineer, which would require some actual training, so this question maybe out of scope: isn't part of the mastering process to listen to the final mix through different types of equipment, making sure it sounds good on most, including small systems (i.e. lacking bass rendering), by far the most common in the general public? Would that explain the bass boost? What happened in 1976-1978 (and 1985-1987?)?
 

Wombat

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Very intersting thread, with a lot of information to process. Thank you all!
A comment about the thesis (unfortunately, couldn't read it as it is in german...): it would appear that according to the spectrum curves figures that the "best" recordings (at least below 3-4kHz) would be from 1976-1978 or 1985-1987... Any particular reason?
What is missing though, IMHO, is an analysis based on music style. I would bet that these curves would look different. The share of acoustic (jazz/classical...) or electronic (D&B for example) - which started to become a significant share of the music market in the 80's, may explain some of the general trend.
I am not a professional sound engineer, which would require some actual training, so this question maybe out of scope: isn't part of the mastering process to listen to the final mix through different types of equipment, making sure it sounds good on most, including small systems (i.e. lacking bass rendering), by far the most common in the general public? Would that explain the bass boost? What happened in 1976-1978 (and 1985-1987?)?
Around 1984 to 1987 record companies were rushing their vinyl catalogues to CD. The easiest way to do this was by 'flat transfer'(direct copy process of 'vinyl' masters') with no or little change.. UK London label did this and also used some version of MFSL vinyl master tapes they held( MFSL not pleased) for the early Rolling Stones CDs. Abkco(USA) versions of these 'Stones recordings are held to be inferior because they didn't have access to the original tapes and also had hasty or unsatisfactory manipulations applied. I don't think all early CDs were afflicted with poor source material.

However, there were many n-th generation tapes floating around at the time and these were often used(also on cheap label vinyl issues) to poor effect. Generalising is something to be cautious about.
 
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Wombat

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Toole's research indicated that trained listeners, say studio folk, have different preferences than ordinary people. There's a subtle yet important difference between "poorer ears", which I wrote, and different preferences. Hint: Preferences can be the result of training while "poorer ears" is a physical trait, characteristic.

Then you write: "...work for Genelec in some capacity"? Are you teasing, or trying to flatter?

What's the intention of this thread, you may ask? Well, among other things, I am just curious; what happens if you present a company following the scientific narrow path for four decades in a forum whose name is Audio Science Forum? It seems like the usual "Love Hate" surfaces here as anywhere else. That's interesting.

No, there is no relationship between Genelec and me; and I think you already knew that, didn't you?

However, let me introduce myself in the selfie-picture below (taken from The Audio Critic number 24, 1997, page 10)


Not taking ASR life too seriously yours,

;)


But then, you do come over as overly pre-occupied with Genelec and whilst admitting your limited knowledge re audio fundamentals, quite assertive in your often unsubstantiated opinions. Maybe it is a national cultural difference in thought and expression? Maybe not. o_O

IMNSHO.

PS. I do tend to believe my Status Message has particular relevance in forum discussions.
 
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oivavoi

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Wombat, why do you insist on making every single discussion thread into a discussion about the people you're discussing with? How hard can it be to just focus on the content of what people are saying instead?
 

Wombat

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Wombat, why do you insist on making every single discussion thread into a discussion about the people you're discussing with? How hard can it be to just focus on the content of what people are saying instead?
THAT IS ONE HELL OF A RASH GENERALISATION.
I am not alone in this observation. This thread is composed of more erroneous thinking than beneficial information. Take my reply as feedback and not a personal attack. Geez. o_O

I do focus on the content. Some can't seem separate their content from their 'id'.

For consistency re your post you seem to behaving in the same way that you accuse me of.

You said, I said. Back to the thread. ;)
 
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oivavoi

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THAT IS ONE HELL OF A RASH GENERALISATION.
I am not alone in this observation. This thread is composed of more erroneous thinking than beneficial information. Take my reply as feedback and not a personal attack. Geez. o_O

I do focus on the content. Some can't seem separate their content from their 'id'.

For consistency re your post you seem to behaving in the same way that you accuse me of.

You said, I said. Back to the thread. ;)
I don't know man. I disagree with several of the things Svart-hvitt has said in this thread. But that's fine! Actually, because of Svart-hvitt's postings (some of which were erroneous in my view), this thread turned quite enlightening, much thanks to the input from people like dr. Toole and Thomas Lund from Genelec. I, for one, didn't know that the professional standards for room curves are flat (or at least it didn't stick when I read dr Toole's book). That's an important thing to know, and now I know it.

But refocusing a discussion on to the persons involved ("assertive in your unsubstantiated opinions") is unnecessary and destructive for the discussion. It may be true or it may not be true in a particular case - but that really doesn't matter. Let's just stick to discussing the topics. There is absolutely no need for venturing beyond that.
 
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