Random Audio Rant...

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Zelandeth
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Random Audio Rant...

Post by Zelandeth »

Rant time. Really do reckon that I'm turning into a grumpy old man.

Is it just me, or has almost the entire world lost any trace of an idea of what constitutes acceptable audio quality? Has listening to the entire world through 0.00001" speakers with a frequency response limited to between 18,000-22,000Hz just become so normal that everyone has forgotten what decent - or even vaguely reasonable - audio sounds like?

Shortly before Christmas an addition to our house (nothing to do with me, I just live here!) as an Amazon Echo Dot. It's a little voice controlled hockey puck which can stream music, interface with other networked devices, do things like adding stuff to calendars, to-do lists, shopping lists and other stuff...it's actually quite clever and everyone else in the house seems to be able to use it.

...even if as seems to always be the case thanks to my accent it can't make any sense whatsoever of what I'm saying. This I've found tends to be the case with anything claiming to do voice recognition and me - any attempt to use it simply results in the device in question responding with complete disobedience.

The downside is that the speaker built into the thing is on par with what you would expect to hear from your typical cheap laptop speakers at best. Shrill, sibilant and tinny as all hell. It grates on me even hearing it from the very far end of the house. It can manage a surprising volume, and can indeed penetrate deeply into my skull even from a couple of tens of metres away!

Everyone else in the house however seems to find that it's "just fine" and is oblivious to this...or listening to music from the inbuilt speakers in the various iPads, tablets or smartphones scattered around the place.

We do have a pretty decent portable speaker (Bose Soundlink Colour) which can be either plugged in or paired by Bluetooth, which sounds entirely acceptable to me - even if it does seem to entirely defy physics as to how that much bass and that wide a soundstage can possibly come from such a tiny little box, I reckon that it runs on 50% science and 50% witchcraft. I've had this setup so that all anyone needs to do is press one button to connect the thing up, but it still never seems to happen, because nobody else cares about - or in fact even seems to be in any way aware of - the difference Except for me!

I like my music, and like to be able to sit down with a decent hi-fi setup to listen to it when I want to. For background audio though I'm not too picky...I just want something that doesn't actually hurt my ears...However it seems that the norm these days is in fact for most devices to have speakers which are an order of magnitude *worse* than even the Really, Really Cheap (TM) transistor radios of the 70s and 80s...

Is it really just me that is the odd one out because I actually notice how good (or not) the audio provided by various things is?

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myglaren
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Re: Random Audio Rant...

Post by myglaren »

I'm generally not too picky.
For my main computer I have an Harmon/Kardon amp and Jamo 20L speakers that do the job OK - Not as OK as a 70's Sonab kit in the dining room or the Shanling/Electrocompaniet/Jamo kit in the sitting room.

My son works nights so these don't get exercised very often :)

I listen to YouTube almost continuously while on the computer - or ripped CDs.
I usually use the earbuds that came with my phone but a few days ago plugged a pair of Sennheiser earbuds in and listening initially to Tubular Bells II I was astounded at all the things I was hearing that I hadn't picked up on previously - this continued with a lot of Samantha Fish and Sad Sam Blues Jam on YouTube.

Then my son came in with some over-ear phones for me to try.

The difference was again astounding - Bose noise cancelling phones. He paid $300 for them in LA - my Sennheiser ones were £18 :)
I have long been suspicious of the mere exotic earphones (always wanted some Koss Electrostatics but always short of cash) but perhaps they do have something to offer.
As I am a terminal wrecker I will give them a miss though.

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Stickyfinger
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Re: Random Audio Rant...

Post by Stickyfinger »

noise cancelling phones : Agree, I have a pair of Sony ones, fantastic things (I would never fly without them !)

I hate crap "sound", but I have been spoilt for years
Speakers : Mordaunt Short MS3.30 on steel spiked stands
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Amp: NAD 3020
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review:
https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_libra ... 3020.shtml

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myglaren
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Re: Random Audio Rant...

Post by myglaren »

Ooops!

He bought Sony ones but returned them as they were (in his words) absolute crap.

He is very discerning and dismissive of almost everything.

Hell Razor5543
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Re: Random Audio Rant...

Post by Hell Razor5543 »

Well, I am an avid gamer, and (to help limit any disturbance to others) I got myself a Corsair H1500 headset. The sound quality is very good (to my ears, at least), although the microphone is a bit quiet. Since I have now got an Oculus Rift CV1 VR headset (with speakers) I have found that this setup also has good sound, and better microphone levels.

elma
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Re: Random Audio Rant...

Post by elma »

Myriad amp and castle speakers is my dream. I have mission 730i speakers and a Yamaha receiver that are ok. They are in a container though, making do with the macbook speakers but they turn music into background rather than an experience.

superloopy
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Re: Random Audio Rant...

Post by superloopy »

Got a set of Sony NC phones used for holiday flying only. They do the job well and i dont think i've needed to swap the batteries yet. Got a full Tannoy Mercury speaker/sub system and 'old' (2009) Yamaha rxv 1065 amp installed locally although i'm due a decent upgrade when/if the 'old' tv (optoma themescene rd65) ever gives up! It's 11 years old now and a piece of beautiful piano black furniture but its got to go. I NEED a good tv and am waiting for the philips 7601 to hit uk shores but believe that brexit caused the dutch to try and teach us a lesson and withhold it. Its moreorless in every other european country bar ours. Back ot ... I've got a couple of Amazon echo dots too and find the sound output to be just fine. What that says about my ability to discern quality audio is anyones guess but theyre not half bad [emoji3]. SWMBO wants the dot's big brother in white for the kitchen.

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Last edited by superloopy on 30 Dec 2016, 19:05, edited 3 times in total.

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Stickyfinger
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Re: Random Audio Rant...

Post by Stickyfinger »

The Sony NC Headphones work well as NC ear defenders with (sort) good music but are a massive step up on uncomfortable earbuds. The NC aspect works well in the air.
I could not justify the cost of the Bose ones as I only use them when flying.

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white exec
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Re: Random Audio Rant...

Post by white exec »

I have a pair of Sennheiser HD414X over-ear headphones (with the famous yellow foam ear pads), dating from 1974. Bought in Boots, of all places, for just £9.99! Last year, our son-in-law brought over a pair of £200+ Bose noise cancelling phones, which I listened to, and was really diappointed with. We both the agreed the old 414's were vastly better.

Rest of the audio is Audiolab 6000 amp, KEF Reference Three's, and a few Sony CD and DVD decks, plus satellite radio and tv sound. Hooked up the to the PC is another bit of 1974 kit: a Garrard 401 record deck, with good old Shure M75ED. Use those for AudioCleaning vinyl to CD when needed, which is when the Sennheiser phones get plenty of use. An old Sansui AU-505 amp, also from '74, puts some sound around the garden from a couple of homemade speakers hidden in conifers.

Lousy or indifferent sound is a pet hate of mine, especially when something much better could be done - even like lifting speakers off the floor, or getting shot of a bell-wire apology for speaker cable. Flat-screen TVs are the work of the devil, sound-wise, but many owners just don't seem to know or care. What they're missing!!!

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myglaren
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Re: Random Audio Rant...

Post by myglaren »

I shove the output from the DVDs through my stereo - really only use the TV to watch DVDs - initially Mylene Farmer. My son and grandson hooked a PS4 and Xbox 360 up to the TV and now there is no sound on the HDMI ports anyway.

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bobins
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Re: Random Audio Rant...

Post by bobins »

I'm with you, Zel. If listening to music is what I'm doing, then it has to be excellent quality or I'd rather sit in silence. Skipping CDs, badly tuned radio, badly recorded vinyl ? - I'll happily turn them off and go and do something else instead.
I've just spent half an hour this afternoon changing the ferrofluid in the tweeters in my speakers as I knew it would be showing its age by now and I wouldn't be getting the best out of them. It was a simple job to do, but worth doing :)

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Re: Random Audio Rant...

Post by wurlycorner »

The world these days is used to listening to compressed mp3s through smart phone front speakers unfortunately. Since their experience of live events is generally also now going to be based on ones where councils have insisted on average and peak sound levels that result in the music being so horrendously comb filtered and compressed it has absolutely no 'life' or energy and it's almost impossible to tell one sound from another, or bars that have kitted themselves out with skytech cheap s**t pa though... They still wouldn't know any better.

Quality used hifi gear is so dirt cheap on eBay these days that there is no real reason for people to not have the top end stuff that I used to dream of owning when I was at school - which is exactly why my barn has a nice marantz receiver and set of acoustic solutions floor standers* for a sound system :lol:
Unfortunately style, portability and fashion/brandname are all that matter these days though, so they wouldn't even consider it.

Image
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My home set up is a Nakamichi AV10, Mission 773e, Paradigm PDR-10, Arcam Alpha 7se CD player. (That sub is rather lazy for music tbf but works nicely for films)

As for the Amazon echo, try it out on some different surfaces. I used to use a tiny Bluetooth speaker at the barn and found it sounded crap on the tool chest (tinny), but good on the wash tank or cx bonnet (much more guts and full sound)


* nb these aren't the real top end stuff that I was suggesting - my compromise between high end and what I could bring myself to subject to living in the environment in the barn... I just couldn't do it to a NAD etc. But, regardless, it does sound very nice in there :wink: and all for the princely sum of £35! :-D The speakers have really surprised me, given they were actually richer sounds budget brand of the time.

Peter.N.
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Re: Random Audio Rant...

Post by Peter.N. »

For those of us at a certain age with high frequency hearing loss those high frequency only audio systems, particularly in TVs are a boon, providing the top is turned right up, but I do admit the audio quality on modern TVs is abysmal due mainly to the speaker size restraints although the Samsung we have is pretty good except that it has no bass, there are many surround sound systems available on ebay for peanuts so that can be a cheap way of improving things.

I bought a cheap secondhand Harman Kardon system for my computer and its absolutely brilliant, I can listen to '50s music on it and it sounds as good as the original, with the top right up. Probably being so close to the speakers the high frequencies get to you before they are absorbed. I notice the same in the car, the sound is brilliant with a decent radio.

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Stickyfinger
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Re: Random Audio Rant...

Post by Stickyfinger »

Code: Select all

As for the Amazon echo, try it out on some different surfaces. I used to use a tiny Bluetooth speaker at the barn and found it sounded crap on the tool chest (tinny), but good on the wash tank or cx bonnet (much more guts and full sound)
Or

rest it over an (empty !) mug

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CitroJim
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Re: Random Audio Rant...

Post by CitroJim »

I too lament how music is 'consumed' these days :(

I appreciate good audio quality... I'm no audiophile but I do have what I feel does the music and radio programmes I enjoy justice...

All of it is old and vintage but no worse for that...

This year I intend to get back to vinyl with a good vintage record deck...