What is detail retrieval?

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by rhythmdevils, Aug 12, 2022.

  1. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I might do this more often. We have some interesting discussions in the status section but then they get moved down, can’t be completed and are lost.
     
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  2. Gazny

    Gazny Friend

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    Yes, detail retrieval is interesting. Where does it start and what is it all?
    I had planned to do some content on this but just havn't had time.

    When I heard Ultralight Beam - Kanye west on the Focal Clear - Pro, the distortion on the vocal harmony was so obvious. and It was something I had never heard before, or at least I thought that was the case. But it wasn't in fact. The &xx does still resolve that even on a simpler dac like my at the time modi 3.Another time would be the Mini Open, it resolves the bass distortion of the YT compression algorithm, is that detail retrieval or just something else?

    So that wasn't it, but was it? Is detail retrieval things popping out more? if it is more laid back is it less resolving. Don't think so.

    Are more sensitive (electrically) transducers more resolving? Maybe. At least this is where I am. It might be synergy at that point I am unsure. But I can only say this because well I am ok with being wrong.

    Well to go a bit off topic.
    What is the right balance for me, is a bit deeper into timbral aspects of music. Is Micro Dyna(MIcro Dynamics, its more fun when I read a review here of a member scolding someone for referring to everything as micro) it, Micro plankton, Micro Tonal? Are these included? It is a real challenge at times as to what constitutes the realism or detail retrieval. not to be confused with transparency, that being hearing the upstream, or is that just familiarity ?

    one quick comparison was my PS1 some AKM chip vs a CDM2 CDP with a TDA1540. I would say the PS1 excels in the Microplankton, but fails
    miserably in the Micro dynamics and bass notes. Not high end by any means, but are these signs of detail or is the music still locked deep inside somewhere? Possibly, but my coughs on some cds have gone up since the 1540.

    Back from my tangent. I am unsure, I don't know if I believe in detail retrieval, just more obvious or pushed information.
    It feels good thinking something new is better, and it sucks when its worse.
     
  3. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    One problem with this topic, which is true of other characteristics upon which gear is judged but it's particularly true of resolution, is that it can only really be discussed productively w/r/t the entire chain. A headphone cannot resolve details that are not presented to it, and a dac's resolution ability can only truly be gauged if one's transducers and amplification are at least as resolving as the dac itself. Not to mention the hearing ability of the listener, which opens an even larger can o' worms. I am positive my dac is capable of resolving/presenting details that cannot be distinguished by the rest of my gear/my ears. The result is opinions all over the map.
     
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  4. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

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    @ColdsnapBry has a point.

    But I think it isn't a matter if something exists, it's if you're using terms effectively to describe what you're hearing.

    If a term doesn't help us describe differences between systems then that's not a very useful term.

    I understand this:
    "Yggdrasil A2 has more plankton but less blackground than LIM."

    I don't necessarily understand this:
    "Yggdrasil A2 has more detail than LIM."

    Or this:

    "LIM is clearer than Yggdrasil A2."
     
  5. TamHo

    TamHo Rando

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    Detail retrieval is what I deeply understand when jumping from the modi multibit to other dacs:)
     
  6. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    I'm gonna float my 6 (non-exclusive) categories for detail:

    1) "Holy carp, I never heard that before!" That random bit of studio chatter. That little auxiliary percussion part. That little breath or yelp between lines. That note in the bass or sub-bass. In part b/c bands and engineers love to tuck little details into the mix, often hard-panned, headphones are really fun for this. HPs, by their nature, also dominate your attention, so you're more likely to be paying attention to individual lines. (Versus speakers, which tend to be more wholistic listens, maybe?)

    Anyway, all of this can be a serious gateway into head-fi. Stuff you've never heard in songs you've listened to a zillion times. Pretty addicting.

    2) Touch. That soft little passing tone the pianist or guitarist worked in there. The drummer's ghost notes on the snare. The bassist digging deep. The fret buzz, the super subtle string bend. That pianissimo tag at the end of the track.

    Even Bonham's squeaky hi-hat pedal on various Led Zeppelin tracks adds something--even if just a reminder that instruments (but also voices) are physical things that you hit and strum and pluck and that, in the right hands, possess seemingly infinite dynamic range and nuance.

    3) The space, the ambience. The room sound. Some audiophiles are way into this stuff, being able to identify one concert hall or another, etc. I personally don't get too wrapped up in this, but when you can hear echo and reverb (whether captured live or added later) and the performance interacting with a place, that's kind of neat. FWIW, I think the Focal Utopia do this particularly well.

    4) Texture. Horns growl. Synths purr. Guitars jangle. Vocalists gonna vibrato. Fiddles can bark. Well-recorded drum sets can sound like they're in your room. And so and so on. I guess this is micro-dynamics? Whatever, there's enough fine-grain (high pixel count, etc.) that you get enough overtones or precision of attack and decay that instruments sound like they do when played live. Or, anyway, you get more of the care and detail that was put into tracking them.

    5) Realism. Sort of related to all of the above. Another audiophile category that's not super important to me. Because I mostly like studio recordings, and a lot of massaging of the sonics is done after the fact. But, whatever, more of the personality of the recording comes through.

    6) Coherence (or intent?). A track comes together more fully than it has on previous listens or on lesser (or just different) equipment. "Oh, that's what they were going for!" Or: "I hear this more as complete musical gesture than before." Or: "I hear how that part flows into that other part more clearly or convincingly now." And so on. Sometimes your mood comes into play here. Sometimes you're on something. Whichever way, more detail can help you get to that frame of mind more easily. Everything gels, to put it more prosaically.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 12, 2022
  7. zottel

    zottel Almost "Made"

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    Yes, I guess the problem with “detail” is that it’s all of the above, and a “more detailed” system doesn’t have to be better in all of the mentioned aspects.

    E.g., I’d say that my RU6 NOS with external upsampling (and only in that mode of operation) is far better than the ESS card built into my Jot 2 at 2), 4), and 5), but only slightly or not at all at the rest. (Going into a Clear Mg.)

    And it’s one thing that actually stands out extremely compared to everything I heard before, and that’s details in voices. Them being jaw-droppingly realistic, like somebody in the same room, suddenly hearing that the singer comes from a certain region by very small hints of dialect I never heard before. Such things.

    Instrument timbre, OTOH, is better, too, but not as much by very far.
     
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  8. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    I've mentioned this somewhere before but there's also the irritating propensity of the human brain to "fill in the blanks", unprompted, which is how gestalts happen; once I catch something I have never heard before on a more resolving chain, it suddenly jumps out to me as being "there" on a less nuanced one despite my never having heard noticed the same before on that latter chain.

    I think it was @pure5152 I had a convo with over on discord about how pro and hobbyist musicians get more mileage out of less superlative hardware primarily because they're more intimately familiar with how instruments ought to sound in person, far moreso than casual listeners e.g. yours truly. With that being the case, they don't strictly need Utopias or Sussyvaras to eke out every iota of nuance in a recording since their brains have autocomplete on steroids.

    After a certain point though, it really isn't so much about sonic elements being resolved as it is about how nuanced and realised those individual elements can be— it goes from picking macrodetail down to fluffier things like "plankton" and "texture" and the like.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 13, 2022
  9. ColdsnapBry

    ColdsnapBry Almost "Made"

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    I align with most of what is being said for sure. Especially the last comment by @Lyander, it's very nuanced. More like realism possibly, rather than detail. But I've also heard chains that stomp all over realism and aesthetics of the original recording. It's really a knifes edge.
     
  10. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    My memory is generally suspect but I remember a conversation on here somewhere about the difference between macrodetail and microdetail being almost entirely audiophile faffery (I disagree).

    Hah definitely. This is where crossfeed and magic sauce comes into play, adding a sense of "space" and corporeality when the same may not necessarily exist in the source material.

    Some people really don't mind a bit of editorial flair in their systems— I like unconscionable levels of low-end rumble a bit too much, for example; as long as the end result works for that specific person then hey all's well. It's when people try to preach what everyone else should be going for that things get messy.

    To contextualise the above comment re: personal preferences, there are times when things on here get a bit echo-chambery but it's less egregious than it was a while back, IMO. I like to think that it's largely in good faith though. To illustrate:

    Why spend a premium on an upper-mid-tier Violectric G-series amp when you can get a comparable sounding amplifier for less money? I don't like how one note the bass is and the treble balance on those seem to mostly irritate me, but I can see that there's an appeal to the voicing and very laterally-extended headstage. The lack of texture to things give the impression of a crisper presentation which is exactly what I hate, but if you primarily listen to things without much in the way of minute nuance then hey it doesn't hurt the experience nearly at all.

    Doesn't mean people can't complain, but the whinging needs established lore :D
     
  11. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    First, a language rant. Bad jargon. Why call it retrieval? Like the phones/speakers run to the source and dig something out. They don't. They portray what they get. As someone else pointed out, they present what the chain has sent them. For, in every way, better or worse.

    Epic post. So, it's about listening to music, and getting more or less of the the music and the experience.

    I remember the original profile post. The poster says he never hears "detail retrieval," and then goes on to say that he hears stuff that another person might say, well, that's detail retrieval, isn't it?

    One way or another. I just think this one is a jargon too far. We don't need it. We've got it covered already. I'd like to strike it from the record! :)
     
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  12. nishan99

    nishan99 Friend

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    Technically speaking everything is detail retrieval: FR extension on both ends, timbre of the sound itself, soundstage, micro/macrodynamics...etc. That's why I hate using this term or resolution. Instead I prefer using (and reading) the specific terms instead.

    I partially blame @Crinacle for this, assigning a single grade for "technicalities" is just bizarre! I understand why tho, people want simple explanation for things to feel confident in buying stuff blind or feeling relief that what they bought is the best deal ever!

    Also most audiophiles don't hear all those specific terms so they just wide brush it with other terms as a single "detail retrieval" or "resolution". I know this because I do this too from time to time (confession time: I don't hear bass definition/details).


    Now to answer your question RD, resolution to me is the texture of the sound itself and its clarity. Some headphones sound bleached some sound vibrant, some headphones sound smeared and some sound clear and defined. And sometimes those two qualities does not coincide! which is the single reason why I hate to use the term resolution.

    For example my Fiio FD5 sound more textured and vibrant (in the bass and mids) than my Shuoer S12 but the S12 is way clearer and defined.


    TLDR: use the specific terms ffs. It's already enough that we have different ears and preferences and electronics.
     
  13. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    Among the things that really turned me on to SBAF when I first started reading here, and which prompted me to join, was the serious discussion of terminology and the attempts to arrive at some precision and consistency (in contrast to the all-too-common flowery bullshit that gives more grounds for 'objectivists' to shit so heavily on 'subjectivity'). Unfortunately the full thread got whacked in the hack, but the first post in the recreated version (thanks again to @shotgunshane ) contains Wayback links to some of the important posts in that one and others:

    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...logy-subjective-terms-used-on-superbaf.11665/

    "Detail" as it's being used in this thread seems to encompass a bunch of different aspects which have been separated in the past, and which can be revealed differently by different components or systems. Let's try to use the terminology we have. It'd be useful for me, at least, if @ColdsnapBry could go through some of this and expand on what precisely he means by the term.
     
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  14. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    @nishan99 I generally agree with the sentiment other than laying responsibility at Crin's feet. Can't find it now but I distinctly remember there being a head-fi thread that purported to rank the best headphones of all time with letter grades. There were a great many headphones on that list, and while the author did go into detail and put a lot of qualifiers therein, it all likewise boiled down into a letter grade.

    Can't speak for anyone other than myself but those letter grades carried a lot of weight for me at the time, and it felt vindicating seeing expensive headphones rank poorly since I remember wanting to believe that high end audio was all a scam.

    Can't remember much other than there was a header image of some cartoon ships at war with brand logos shopped onto the sails and masts.

    Edit: found the thing. Wow this makes me seem absolutely terse.

    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared.634201/
     
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  15. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

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  16. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Yeah revisiting the thread after about a decade recontextualises how absolutely mad that whole endeavour was. Whoof.
     
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  17. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    I got some reading pleasure out of that thread, even if it was a little dated when I got to it.

    What an undertaking though. I wonder how much that one thread influenced the whole HP world. Or were people already hip to most of the HPs he was evaluating?
     
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  18. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

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    Dark ages. He posted that back in 2012. The mentality was really different back then with Tyll's Wall and the industry hadn't gone insane yet. At the time I imagine that thread was all many people had vs. meets that didn't exist or CanJam that wasn't really a thing.
     
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  19. Garns

    Garns Friend

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    I agree that detail/resolution is a composite notion but I think a really useful one. I define it quite simply: it's what is lost when you raise the noise floor.

    This is very pragmatic for me. Lots of my listening is on the street or on trains. So I don't really care about detail in this context.

    Under this definition, detail is, I suppose, some combination of clarity, blackground, precise transient behaviour, and presentation of low level information. What is more interesting is what it is not:
    • Timbre is not detail.
    • Coherence is not detail.
    • Microdynamic nuance is not detail. In fact it's sort of the polar opposite: it's almost the last thing that is still apparent as you go into noisier environments.
    Even if you disagree with this definition of detail, I think the above will still help you to limit its scope.
     
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  20. SSL

    SSL Friend

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    "Detail retrieval" is a strawman. There has always been something of a shared understanding on SBAF when it comes to describing sound, one that goes beyond the concept of gross detail.
     

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