Poll: Rando Fatigue and its effects on subjective listening

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by randomg, Jan 7, 2019.

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If you listen to music at moderate volume equalized and then listen to it again unequalized:

  1. The unequalized music sounds worse than normal

    5 vote(s)
    11.9%
  2. The unequalized music sounds the same as it always has

    3 vote(s)
    7.1%
  3. This poll is layme as it provides absolutely no value to SBAF

    34 vote(s)
    81.0%
  1. randomg

    randomg Rando

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    tl;dr: Turn on an equalizer and listen to a song you know well, then turn off the equalizer and listen again, then answer the poll. Extra credit: If you don't notice a difference in the unequalized song, try two songs in a row to see if the effect for you might just take longer to manifest.

    I saw another thread on listener fatigue posted here, but it seems to be more specific than what I was hoping to discuss.

    I’ve been playing around with equalizing to try to flatten out a headphone’s frequency response over the years and have noticed a few things during the process. In particular, I noticed that after listening to a song at moderate to low volume with the equalizer turned on, listening to it again after turning it off sounded worse than if I had listened to the song first without equalization.

    My conclusion is that within minutes of listening to music, my brain has at some level calibrated itself to the sound signature of a headphone.

    If this same effect is experienced by everyone, it would seem to me that most of the methodology used to compare headphones is flawed, but I might be alone in experiencing this, so I figured I’d start off with a poll.
     
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  2. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    This is not an unreasonable conclusion based on your empirical testing with limited data points. Good on you for actually recognizing it. That's an important part about learning how to listen. The problem arises though when...

    ... you take your conclusions from your limited sample set and personal scope, and extrapolate it to apply to everyone else.

    What you are looking/listening at right now is the ear-to-brain-then-back-to-ear adjustment voodoo with a rather haphazard transition and no proper reference point. You're just doing A vs B and don't have the rest of the alphabet. Heck, at this point we don't even know what language you're speaking. It takes a long time and a lot of conversations with people who speak the same language to develop proper frames of reference.

    Yes, your ears will calibrate to some extent to the last piece of gear you listened to. At work we've got a dozen computers all with various crappy monitors; some are better than others and my eyes will calibrate to those, but that doesn't mean I forget what my good ones at home look like.

    Developing and training your senses to understand your frames of reference is important. Developing and sharing and understanding those references in a community is how you learn.
     
  3. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Ear/brain adjustment, done by the incredible sound processing system inside our heads, is not often given proper recognition by audiophiles. Or not by audiophools, at least, who may suffer from ear-ego connections, rather than ear-brain connections. They would never treat their genitals with such disdain!

    But, sorry, you make the point badly. You have brought an unspecified equalisation into the issue. And even I (half deaf. Seriously) could Eq music to the point where I'd still know, half an hour later.

    A realisation point for me, on this sort of thing, was listening to badly-balanced live music, noticing an improvement after twenty minutes, and realising that the "engineer" was nowhere near the sound board at the time.

    Another thing is repeating the same music in listening tests. Make me listen to the same thing a dozen times and I am either going to scream, or find something new that I didn't hear before. Even in Hotel California!
    Because my brain is not entirely stupid.
     
  4. randomg

    randomg Rando

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    Man... this place...

    I really wasn't sure what to expect on the poll results, the numbers are pretty limited, but it's interesting to see that more people seem to feel the same general way as I do.

    Sure, but I know I've read headphone reviews that do quick back and forth between different models or amps. I'm mostly referring to those types of comparison tests. There are plenty of tests that have two setups side by side, I've never read anything about making sure to wait between listening to each setup. If anything, I think human nature when comparing is to switch in between them more quickly so the memory of a particular song or passage sounds like is as fresh in memory as possible.

    Do you know how long your eyes take to recalibrate? How about your ears, do you know how long you should wait until you listen to a new headphone without having to worry about your ears "remembering" the old FR? Do you know how the affect changes with volume?

    It seems I did. Your response suggests you didn't understand the point as I meant to convey it. The result I was more concerned with was not what the EQ'd music sounds like, but what the unEQ'd music sounds like upon re-listen. You're right, I didn't supply a threshold in the post for how much EQ was necessary to make me dislike my un-EQ'd music more upon a second listen. I could experiment with that I guess and suggest that as part of the experiment, but I'm not sure it'd change my results much.

    Thanks for the responses though, its interesting for me to read that I'm not alone in experiencing this.
     
  5. randomg

    randomg Rando

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    Yeah, this quote by me is way over the top. I shouldn't have said "most", I should have been specific to point out reviews that are switching between systems without necessarily knowing if their brain is still remembering the FR of the previous headphone. I'm guessing that's why I got a few dislikes without comments to explain why?
     
  6. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    And here you stand on the slippery slope of trying to objectively quantify subjective impressions. Good on you for trying to put the thoughts together. It's just that this is an age old debate, one that most of us are tired of at this point.

    We as a community have a number of shared reference points by which we calibrate ourselves. We may or may not necessarily agree on all of them, but sharing those viewpoints is enough and there is (generally) enough consistency that we understand where the other is coming from. This is only possible with a small-ish community such as this, but of course we are subject to group-think just as much as anybody else.

    Almost all comparisons are relative. We do supplement with a lot of measurements by which we can self-calibrate along the way. Maybe that's enough for you, maybe it isn't, but that's all we've got.
     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    tl;dr

    Accommodating to linear distortion (frequency response non-linearities) is very real. I am closet bass-head, so I when I get used to a bassy headphone like the Klipsch HP-3 and then go to a neutralish headphone like the HD600, the HD600 sounds lean.

    The solution is four fold (#1 suggests that there was never a problem):
    1. self-realization / practice / experience / Kung-Fu (supreme skill from hard work - what @Armaegis said)
    2. to rinse, i.e. get back down to earth by listening to a neutral or relatively neutral speaker or headphone - this is why whiskey and wine tasters rinse when they come to the serious stuff
    3. rely on relative comparisons to other gear (what @Armaegis said)
    4. reality-check / reinforcement through measurements - related to #1 (what @Armaegis said)
    You are correct. Also for making a poll for something so trivial.

    game-of-thrones-oberyn.jpg

    Carry on.

    P.S.

    Added third-option to the poll (you can change your vote).
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
  8. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

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    Solution is to integrate subs so you never have to acclimate to the sadness.
     
  9. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    In that lifetime when I did some forum moderating, we found that people use polls as a what is now called clickbait. So we made their existence subject to moderation. No, it didn't make a lot more work, it made people not bother, hopefully realising that the poll added nothing to their thread,
     
  10. Uri Cohen

    Uri Cohen Friend

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    Who was this guy?
     
  11. Kernel Kurtz

    Kernel Kurtz Almost "Made"

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    Hey, could be worse...

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Too late: You missed him!

    Anyway, some guy who probably had some reasonable ideas about audiophile-listening tests and i) couldn't express them very well, ii) thought that people here don't know that stuff anyway.
     
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