The Audio 101 Thread

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by sphinxvc, Nov 12, 2016.

  1. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    Why are you inclined to believe that this forum would be any less mixed ?

    Otherwise I think this thread should stay on the topic of audio language and maybe some other basic technical questions. We can make another thread called Audio 301 for highly debated questions that involve graduate level prerequisite knowledge
     
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    My lifespan has been shortened by three months. Was going to write something on transient response, but I'm outta here for today.
     
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  3. Madaboutaudio

    Madaboutaudio Friend

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    I feel that once you have heard good plankton on a good system, it will be harder for you to enjoy music on other less plankton resolving systems as you have a natural tendency to turn up the volume on the inferior plankton system in order to extract more low level detail(to level match your good system) but instead it just makes things worse as you hurt your ears doing that and your ears tend to protect itself by tightening up and in the end you get less detail. That was my experience with recently trying out LG V20(less plankton) vs Sony ZX2(more plankton).

    It's like you have experienced the better pizza/wine/beer/car, it will be harder for you to go back to other inferior pizza/wine/beer/car. It also works the other way, if you never experience better things in life, you will not feel/notice/know that your current stuff is bad/inferior in the first place.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
  4. james444

    james444 Mad IEM modding wizard level 99

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    For starters, here's a pretty good (imho) summary of basics: Audio Terms and Definitions
     
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  5. Valolilol

    Valolilol Acquaintance

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    I woke up this morning and, as usual, a lot of threads came during the night (EU versus US) but the good thing was to see these two big blocks of @Marvey wanting to put his hands (@Hands, don't see any misconception link in here) about these two topics : microdynamics and microdetails. I grabbed a coffee and went through it. Although I think I got the sense of what you said, I am having some hard time with the term "macrodetails". Is it just an ironic term ? Which actually would then makes sense because by its construction.
    On the other hand, here are some information regarding cabling for @Stuff Jones, hoping that it will direct you to more dedicated threads and/or information :
     
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  6. Malabargold

    Malabargold Flipper

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    Although 'Macrodetail' might seem like a bit of an oxymoron it is very real.

    Just like macrodynamics refers to large changes in volume (the increasing intensity of a piano arpeggio) and microdynamics refers to the subtle changes (how hard the pianist pressed down each individual key during said arpeggio), macrodetial and microdetail can be thought of in the same way.

    Macrodetail refers to how clearly the large details are presented (allowing you to clearly hear each key pressed during a piano rift) while microdetails would refer to any nuances, trailing details and additional information that happens along with the macrodetails.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong. I am still getting use to a set up that is able to clearly resolve these things and have no where near the experience most people on this forum have.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
  7. Valolilol

    Valolilol Acquaintance

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    @Malabargold yes I think I understand what you mean and I had some hard time because when I refer to a "detail" I usually see something "small" as @sphinxvc mentioned it previously. However, I went through two websites in order to get a definition to then realize that I was wrong :
    These websites, assuming they are trustworthy, are referring only to "An individual fact or item". Therefore the note from @sphinxvc referring to an "atomic scale" when using the word "detail" is actually wrong. Detail is just "an individual fact or item" and you are free to play with the scale then as @OJneg mentioned it previously :
     
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  8. Garns

    Garns Friend

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    That's a nice definition. How about co-opting "acutance" as name for it? Wikipedia says:
    I would like to get a feel for the scope of this notion. Here are some things I've experienced which I am minded to think of as high in acutance/macrodetail:
    • nasty Sabre DAPs
    • badly soldered cables
    • records from the 70s where every part has been through about a hundred transformers, eg, the guitar on Joni Mitchell "Coyote"
    • very coloured tubes which impart a sort of spherical penumbra around the leading edges of notes (some kind of combination of acutance and something to do with staging that I can't really articulate)
    • HD650s with foam removed from behind the driver and no compensatory damping
    Common theme seems to be distortion/non-linearity or a peak in the upper mids/treble
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016
  9. Valolilol

    Valolilol Acquaintance

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    @Garns your suggestion sounds good to me. In the wikipedia page you suggested, there is a paragraph related to "Sharpness" :
    I would like to double check with you if we are on the same wavelength : Resolution would be "Microdetails" and Acutance "Macrodetails". If it is the case then I am 100% with you.

    Still assuming that we are speaking about the same thing :
    this sounds like a good related theme.
     
  10. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    This made me giggle. I often think of Grados or Beyers as "unsharp mask" headphones, and my HD650 as more like Lanczos scaling cans.

    (Damn my incipient synaethesia...)

    I think another good example of "high actuance" headphones might be the majority of Audeze planars- they have very sharp attacks, but little microdetail. Everything sounds very crisp initially, but with a bit of listening, you often tend to notice that it's merely sharp, but a lot of the tiny details after the fast attack are missing..
     
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    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016
  11. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    I think the preferred definiton of macro vs microdetail would be the same phenomena on different scales, but I feel that it hasn't been used that way in the past. I would generally substitute clarity in lieu of macrodetail when describing sound, for that exact reason.
     
  12. sphinxvc

    sphinxvc Gear Master (retired)

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    I think I can put a visual together to unpack this. Maybe this weekend.
     
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  13. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I tend to use the word macrodetail only to distinguish it from microdetail or plankton when explaining to noobs that their $799 Chi-Fi Sabre DACS aren't all that resolving compared to better stuff. In other words, I don't like the term detail or macrodetail by itself.

    This is why my preference has always been to use "low level information" or "plankton". A lot of mediocre bright shit sounds "detailed", but sucks at retrieving low level information, especially in the presence of higher level signals.
     
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  14. Madaboutaudio

    Madaboutaudio Friend

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    Most Sabre dacs has this un-natural overdetailed sound that over-highlights elements in the music that shouldn't be louder/in foreground. E.g. you will tend to notice more of the (background) audience hand-clapping exposing itself in front of the music presentation when it should be a softened "background murmur" in other good dacs.

    I'm gonna use photography as analogy yet again to explain what I feel about sabre glare issues, it's quite exaggerated in the over-sharpening but it's just to better explain things:

    Top performing DAC representation of detail(fur is blurry/soft as it should be):
    [​IMG]

    Badly implemented Sabre's representation of details(fur is popping out like spines/needles):
    [​IMG]

    image credit/source:
    http://imagatic.izoltan.com/page/effects-sharpen/
     
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    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    These exact same discussions and illustrations already took place on Changstar years ago. Allow me to repost:

    Typical decent D-S DAC
    DAClower.jpg

    Typical Chi-Fi Sabre DAC
    DACSabre.jpg

    Yggdrasil or equivalent (post-Yggdrasil)
    DACyggy.jpg

    As we can see, there is a level of unsatisfactory-ness with the top photo. Our eyes strain to see a better quality photo, but the information is simply not there. Because of this, many audiophiles gravity to brighter sounding gear (middle photo - an exaggeration of the effect), but all this does is fake the detail, and over time, audiophiles learn that brighter or sharper sounding gear is actually annoying (GUTB is not there yet, and some audiophiles never learn), especially when they get to hear better quality truer more resolving gear.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016
  16. Malabargold

    Malabargold Flipper

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    Eh, the top photo still got the job done for me
     
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  17. Kunlun

    Kunlun cat-alyzes cat-aclysmic cat-erwauling - Friend

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    In the land of in-earistan, would macrodetail be some of the appearance of clarity that comes from the treble spikes so often found in iem tuning? Or really any of the tuning tricks used in iems for bass or mids as well as treble.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016
  18. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    I have never heard treble spikes create clarity. Treble nasties tend to hurt clarity actually. To get true clarity you need to remove those layers of crap and lay the music bare.

    Most IEMs aren't particularly clear anyway. Need real speakers or at least open headphones before you really start hearing through the recording.

    We should be judging clarity independent of tonal balance anyway. That's why I think people shouldn't confuse clarity and macrodetail although you could argue that clarity is an attribute within macrodetail that also includes other aspects of reproduction.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    ON CLARITY / BLACKGROUND

    I'm on hiatus, so will limit myself to a few threads, and some items I need to follow up on.


    As @OJneg said , it's all interrelated, but clarity should be looked at independently. There are two aspects of clarity: distortion in the frequency domain, particularly in the bass where distortion can cloud or veil the sound. Then there is clarity if the time domain, on the gross scale, excess reverb (which I consider somewhat of a separate item from clarity per se in the Heptagon plots and will indicate separately "reverby seashell effect"); and on the micro scale: blurring, slow decay, lack of focus, etc. (which I consider to be more closely related to transient response, speed, articulation, etc).

    So in terms of clarity, I mean lack of veil or haze. Having a black (as opposed to grey) background or canvas of which sounds emanate. Here are some examples: the Schiit Jotunheim and Abyss headphone are quite good at the clarity / blackness aspect, but not the last word in plankton; the Ragnarok, despite having good clarity, if we listen carefully, has a slight haze when compared to amps which are clearer sounding.

    A lot of low-fi gear (car speakers or shitty OTL tube amps) sounds veiled, like having a blanket thrown over the speaker. There is strong correlation between low distortion and what we perceive as clarity. However, correlation is not causation. The O2 has great distortion specs, but has a grayish background (among other related deficiencies such as a blurring of sounds). Putting crappy capacitors in the signal path is destructive toward the clarity aspect. This is why amp manufacturers make a big deal about direct coupled, no caps in the signal path designs. And why boutique cap manufacturers make hockey puck sized caps and sell them for $599 for a 1uF.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I thought I should also mention that I don't like to equate the word clarity with transparency, despite huge similarities in dictionary meaning. The word transparency has a shit-stain on it because it's been overused in audio, usually in conjunction with the phrase "wire-with-gain" which is the biggest load of bullshit ever. What's funny is that anytime I hear someone say "wire-with-gain", I shiver, triggering PTSD memories of sizzly etched analytical solid-state abomination (SESSAs).

    Anyone who ever uses the phrase "wire-with-gain" is either deaf, or making up an excuse for his amp, blaming a shitty sounding source, which means he is deaf (either way).

    Yeah, I've been in a testy mood lately. Getting too old to not speak my mind.
     
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