Discussion in 'SBAF Blogs' started by purr1n, Dec 26, 2018.
Or... you don't give out an Emmy during the Oscars.
@shotgunshane has a great list of recommended IEMs already.
My views toward IEMs tends to be very polar. Either it's good or it's shit, with not much in between.
I'd be happy to oblige, keeping in mind that this "blog" is just as much entertainment. It's kind of funny that I even came up with that headphone list in the first place, as all these years, I never did make such a list. I actually did start on one years ago, but David Mahler beat me to the punch with his list. So I never bothered finishing it.
Note: I've made some edits, added more comments, and fixed typos in the Top 5 headphones post.
Getting back to IEMs: I'd likely include a list of most disappointing shit, and end up intentionally unintentionally indirectly insulting people who liked the shit that I hated, for shits and giggles.
That would indeed be entertaining! Do it, do it, do it...
Thank you Marv. About focal utopia vs raal . Do you think they have the same resolution and plankton level?
The plankton aspect is the hardest to determine here. When it comes to most headphones, when I refer to plankton, it's very specific to amplitude, i.e. the ability to render low level information, usually in the context of other simultaneous louder signals.
Electrostats and fast planars introduce another aspect into plankton, that is temporal plankton because of their transient response. When I refer to plankton, it's usually in the context of "pure" plankton, the definition in the paragraph above. So there is often misunderstanding: we are talking about different things. This is why I don't consider STAX stuff to have the plankton of HD800 or even HD6xx for that matter, despite the dynamics being grayer or less clean or slower in the transients. The dynamics reach deeper into the lower signal levels. The burst response of the STAX stuff would seem to support this. The STAX drivers never quite stop and keep vibrating like a drum, this possibly masking low level information. This is just a theory and more data needs to be gathered to say for certain.
And then when it comes to speakers, there is spatial plankton! This is why I hold the DACs that are able to layer and separate depth in a soundstage of especially high value. Note that this has nothing to do with soundstage or headstage depth, as I do not mind a close stage as much many others so long as I can perceive the depth location of the instruments, i.e. feel the sound waves propagating from a specific x, y, and maybe even z location on the stage towards my position on the couch.
So where does the SR1a stand? It's up there with the best with terms of temporal plankton. While it's speed isn't the fastest (and this aspect does tend to vary extremely depending on source and amp), the transients are clean and tight. This is what I meant by its exceptional ability to convey texture. @Lyer25 was spot on in conveying my meaning in a prior post.
In terms of spatial plankton, again the SR1a is very dependent upon source and amp. Not there at speaker level, but far better than any headphone including prior leader HD800 with the BTA / SBAF cut-out mods that tighten up the layering (at the expense of a less diffuse and expansive presentation). Having drivers in front of the ear without cup and ear interactions does wonders.
So this comes to the "pure" plankton aspect, the ability to reproduce low level information while other louder signals are playing. This I cannot say for certain, but I think there is potential.
I am easily hearing the plankton differences between DACs, but I am not sure of ultimate plankton because of the amps being used. Yes, the most plankton resolving and best microdynamic shading solid-state amp I have in the house, the x2 Aegir monoblocks are excelling here. The Dartzeel (different system with source I was not totally familiar with) excelled as well. However, I am not sure if the plankton is reaching LCD-4, Utopia, HD800 levels from a TOTL amp (this only means ECP, EC, and DNA in my book). However, we have to remember that a direct drive amp, even of modest design, can totally change things because of the supreme capability of the driver in some crucial aspects.
In many ways, the use of a 100W-200W- speaker amp with a chain of resistors, chokes, transformers, etc. isn't ideal. We'll have to wait maybe six months, maybe a year to know or get a better idea.
Quick question because I'm honestly curious. What aspect of sound reproduction would hearing a sense of "breath" immediately after drum hits fall under? Transient response? Could be plankton since it's low-level stuff that's nearly simultaneous with massive thumps, but former makes a bit more sense to me— components recovering from "excursion" (or whatever the proper term would be for an amplifier) quickly enough to reproduce lower-level information.
For context I was over on the headphone.com forum talking about a Lake People amp I have on loan and, for however much I like it, it's pricey for what you get and can't even convey that sense of air moving in recording space following those humongous drum hits at the beginning of Rage Against the Machine's Take the Power Back, which the G1217 Sunrise (+ added LPS) managed reasonably well with the same upstream-and-down.
I remember you had a "holy shit my pants" moment listening to Under African Skies on the Atticus; RATM's song is my version of that with the HP-3s haha.
That's traditional plankton.
I’ve been meaning to reply to you for a bit but haven’t had the time. There is no recording space or rush of air. It is white noise and reverb. RATM s/t is an Andy Wallace mix. Thus it is a very dry drum kit recording with wet, reverby samples blended into the recorded hits in from a shitty 80s drum machine. The interesting part is he only uses bus compression, rather than compressing individual tracks. The “plankton” is hearing the overheads and Wallace ride the faders and his automation. That’s his biggest skill imo. The actual drum sounds you hear are kinda shitty. Listen to a bunch of his stuff and it’s all the same samples. Worse drummer? Not Dave Lombardo? More of the sample blended in. Sometimes the original recorded hit is wet too and the reverb is hilarious. His stuff sounds great on cars, TVs, and boomboxes but falls apart on speakers so much that you can then pick it apart on ANYTHING.
Hah, TIL. I'm still learning the "picking apart drum mic-ing" thing so that was helpful stuff. Had to look up some of the stuff you mentioned, but it's interesting reading all the same. Thanks! Now I'm gonna have to learn to differentiate this from actual recording space, haha.
What'd you recommend as a counterpoint for similar drumming but in actual physical space? Gear is probably too my-fi to delve too deep into recordings but it's fun all the same
The recording space is mostly fake and determined on the console or daw. Even classical has tons of automation and fader riding. The depth is an illusion of delay, roll off, and volume. Mix in a room mic or two too. They have depth plugins for this now where anyone off that street can set it themselves. Some gear like some Schiit boxes has artificial depth dialed into it, putting you further back, and can never be truly in your face even if mixed and recorded that way but can do depth beyond that. Sort of. Other stuff can’t replay depth at all. Hello chifi and RME and headphones. People talk about tube gear has “great depth” yet you can run your recordings, almost all done with solid state, into a typical cleanish tube pre or modelled tube gear plugin, and bam its instantly set back or in your face depending on your knob fiddling or sound of the gear.
That being said, you can actually increase perceived clarity of complex musical passages like a mixdown through more distortion ime. Human perception of audio is weird. The internet number chasers and objectivist can’t tell me why when I use certain “distorted” analog gear (certain “bad” consoles, pre-amps, compressors, etc), actual distortion plugins, and an actual console distortion pos DAW (Harrison Mixbus), the sound actually gets clearer and everyone on all systems thinks it is clearer and less distorted than the undistorted audio. It is not fully understood or not understood at all. Tubes, stuff with big transformers, and saturated output stages, should not do that but they do sometimes and most people, including you, the dude who distorted it, think it is clearer until you tell them what you the hell you did to it! But what you think is real is real!
Now as for real drumsLive bootlegs of untriggered kits that sound like muddy poop maybe? Live in the studio with bleed everywhere? The Stooges fun house still sounds good and isn’t too artificial. Cream. A few Led Zeppelin tracks with mostly overheads but those drums do not sound real. Most drums in popular music will be fake or sound far from real drums. Most older recordings will be real drums but sound totally unnatural. Even the Beatles drums can be totally splatted. the real drums will be compressed to level out the hitting and eqed to hell to get them to sit in the mix so it takes a ton of critical listening to many recordings to even realize that they’re heavily eqed samples, sometimes made from the drummers own hits. It’s just that Andy Wallace, The Lord-Alge brothers, and Scott Burns were the biggest of the fake drum producers before ezdrummer and Steven slate. Now those programs and plugins are far worse than the Nirvana dribbling kick drums, typewriter drums, and whatever the hell Wallace’s snare sample is but it is very hard to find drums that sound like a good, tuned kit in recordings. This includes dynamics. I like more interesting sounding drum productions so hell yeah When the Levee Breaks is better than jazz and classical. I don’t care what the hell they did it to it. Nothing else ever sounded like that and it’s not some copy pasted samples. Or whatever the hell the Born in the USA snare was. It might be fake but I don’t care. It might just be a really cool snare. I don’t know. The point is these are recordings and not a drummer behind a tuned real kit right in front of you in your room.
@Psalmanazar Just saw your edits. Okay, the Led Zep got me, I'm a fan. Only have the 1994 CDs from my dad though, will it be worth trawling used market for originals or nah, you think? They've been my "reference" tracks since high school, basically everything I demo has run When the Levee Breaks, Achilles', or In My Time of Dying.
Yeah, I figure drums would be a massive PITA to record because, er, physics. No comment on anything more specific, that's well beyond my ken at the moment and I'm already brain dead from gorging on journals and fiction to read more just now, haha. I'm at least with you on not caring if something sounds "real" as long as it sounds "interesting"; I respect the pursuit of pure fidelity but I need dem lo-fi beats to keep sane (this is humour... kinda).
The original Zeppelin CDs from the 80s suck. The 90s and current masters are good.
Interesting stuff. Not that I've been there for decades, but how, then, do they mix and handle that percussion live?
(I think that the last rock concert I attended was The Grateful Dead, London, c. 1990)
In my own small world of live South-Indian classical music, it is the percussion that gets screwed up the most. On rare occasions of unamplified (hey, it's acoustic music, not that you would notice, due to the guy on the sound board) concerts, even the half-deaf like me can notice subtleties in the mridangam (our equivalent to tabla in the North) sound that are utterly lost in (bad) mixing and amplification.
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