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What is the order of importance of things which can get in the way of your listening enjoyment?


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I thought "The Great Audio Debate" section was the most appropriate place for my question - given I expect it will get radically different responses.  :)

 

I was prompted to post because I've:

  • listened to quite a few people's systems in the last 6 months or so, and
  • recently made a significant amp change in my own (active) system.

 

It seems to me that everyone probably has different issues that spoil their listening.  For me, I would say - in order of most annoying first:

  1. 'listener fatigue' - by which I mean there's a hard edge to the music coming from the speakers which means, after a short while ... you simply don't want to keep listening.  :(  The cause is varied - it could be a metal tweeter ... it could be an amp which emphasises odd-order harmonics ... as well as other things.
  2. hum from the speakers.  Due to, essentially, earthing problems in the system as a whole.
  3. noise from components - such as fan noise or transformer hum.
  4. a high noise floor - typically due to a crap power supply ... or insufficent shielding.
  5. sibilance - aah, but is this in the recording ... or is your system creating/emphasising it?  xD
  6. lack of soundstage depth (soundstage width is easy!).
  7. congestion - ie. a lack of clarity in the musical lines going on.

 

So ... what are others' issues.  "Tone" might be one, for instance, that is super-important to some people?

 

Andy

 

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Inadequate wine and cheese.

Wife needing some sort of attention Ditto children Job Dog But seriously.....wife Rolling tubes just to end up with same SQ Rolling tubes just to end up with

It's hard to believe such a comment is being posted on the same forum where people say they can't live without the massive improvements a $1000 ethernet cable (allegedly) provides...

I don't have any of the issues already cited, but badly pressed/warped records ( from brand new ) really spoil my day.

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I would say a poor source. Doesn't matter how good your kit is, if the source is shite.

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I spent the last year eliminating hum, hiss, buzzing etc by focussing on cleaning up my power. I found those issues to be the most grating for me, since I often listen quietly in the background and only really wind it up when I know the neighbors are out.

 

Warped records are awful though. Thankfully I haven't had a new record arrive warped for years.

 

I do see a lot of modern popular music pressings cut just off center, which annoys the crap out of me. 

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Whatever is impossible to ignore easily--especially background hum/buzz/dirty power issues. I think the listener fatigue item would rapidly lead to a change in system components or configuration, wouldn't it?

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Let me add a factor that is oft ignored - our current mood. Depending upon my mood, I have loved some albums or been ambivalent to it - same room, same system.

 

 

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5 hours ago, anandpkumar said:

Let me add a factor that is oft ignored - our current mood. Depending upon my mood, I have loved some albums or been ambivalent to it - same room, same system.

 

OK ... how about a 2nd answer to my Qu if you assume you are in a 'beneficial' mood?

 

What annoys you, then?

 

Andy

 

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Up until a while ago I would say inconsistency in source material especially in how much bass content varies between recordings.


This recording does not have enough bass...

This recording has the right amount of bass...

This recording has too much bass...

 

So what to do?

And to make the matter even more complicated my system is a dual purpose Music and HT system.

Well on my main digital processor I now have four profiles and they all get some use.

 

Flat

2dB Bass Gain (Harman based)

4dB Bass Gain (Harman based)

6dB Bass Gain (Harman based)

 

Tone controls ?!?!?

Edited by Satanica
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19 hours ago, andyr said:

I thought "The Great Audio Debate" section was the most appropriate place for my question - given I expect it will get radically different responses.  :)

 

I was prompted to post because I've:

  • listened to quite a few people's systems in the last 6 months or so, and
  • recently made a significant amp change in my own (active) system.

 

It seems to me that everyone probably has different issues that spoil their listening.  For me, I would say - in order of most annoying first:

  1. 'listener fatigue' - by which I mean there's a hard edge to the music coming from the speakers which means, after a short while ... you simply don't want to keep listening.  :(  The cause is varied - it could be a metal tweeter ... it could be an amp which emphasises odd-order harmonics ... as well as other things.
  2. hum from the speakers.  Due to, essentially, earthing problems in the system as a whole.
  3. noise from components - such as fan noise or transformer hum.
  4. a high noise floor - typically due to a crap power supply ... or insufficent shielding.
  5. sibilance - aah, but is this in the recording ... or is your system creating/emphasising it?  xD
  6. lack of soundstage depth (soundstage width is easy!).
  7. congestion - ie. a lack of clarity in the musical lines going on.

 

So ... what are others' issues.  "Tone" might be one, for instance, that is super-important to some people?

 

Andy

 

 

 

Shouldn't Stereonet be added to that list? :) 

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10 minutes ago, Satanica said:

Up until a while ago I would say inconsistency in source material especially in how much bass content varies between recordings.


This recording does not have enough bass...

This recording has the right amount of bass...

This recording has too much bass...

 

So what to do?

And to make the matter even more complicated my system is a dual purpose Music and HT system.

Well on my main digital processor I now have four profiles and they all get some use.

 

Flat

2dB Bass Gain (Harman based)

4dB Bass Gain (Harman based)

6dB Bass Gain (Harman based)

 

 

I purposely put the level control for my bass way down low in the rack.  The effort to get up, walk over, and bend down to adjust it (then go back and listen, then go over and tweak it again, etc...  is just too much, so I just put up with it as it is  :)  

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2 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

I purposely put the level control for my bass way down low in the rack.  The effort to get up, walk over, and bend down to adjust it (then go back and listen, then go over and tweak it again, etc...  is just too much, so I just put up with it as it is  :)  

 

Ha, fair enough. 

I should add that all four profiles are remote control changeable. 

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On 19/03/2021 at 5:19 PM, anandpkumar said:

Let me add a factor that is oft ignored - our current mood. Depending upon my mood, I have loved some albums or been ambivalent to it - same room, same system.

 

 

This !!!

 

I can play something one day and absolutely love it. Excited by the experience, play it all the same the following day and hate it. Unless it’s air temperature/moisture or power feed related then it has to be mental/mood.

 

Same thing happens with my electric guitar amps.

Edited by JC.
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I like to avoid interruptions, and I prefer to do my critical listening deep into the night..

When the noise floor truly drops to almost nothing, and my equipment sounds even better. Even a basic mp3 recording will sound sweeter.

No one walking past, no messages on my phone and just a little cup of soup, my stereo and my music... 

My idea of quiet time..

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8 hours ago, petetherock said:

 

No one walking past, no messages on my phone and just a little cup of soup,

 

Oh, that brings back memories. Many years ago, “back in the old country” I used to love a cup of late night soup. I may have to pick up this habit again, after all, winter is coming.

 

What are you having, I suppose something light? I might start with a nice miso. Is there a soup thread on SNA already? :)

 

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It’s either a light tomato, or if I’m going to be listening for hours, I’ll have a bigger and thicker cream of leek along some Table Eight crackers... cheese doesn’t agree with me at that hour..

somewhere along the way, I’ll have to play ‘Nightshift’.. it’s a ritual...

 

 

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Sibilance (looking at YOU Rod Stewart Greatest Hits repress !!) - LOL 

Brand new records that arrive warped

Brand new records that arrive with scuffs/scratches/marks and then you have to pay attention to see if it affects playback instead of enjoying the music

 

Current mood really does come into play too - I find listening to albums on a Saturday afternoon for example is not as nice as listening late at night.

For some reason music sounds better late evening..............

is it because of atmosphere? Mood? more relaxed not sure - but just something I have really noticed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by April Snow
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On 19/03/2021 at 5:18 PM, andyr said:

I thought "The Great Audio Debate" section was the most appropriate place for my question - given I expect it will get radically different responses.  :)

 

I was prompted to post because I've:

  • listened to quite a few people's systems in the last 6 months or so, and
  • recently made a significant amp change in my own (active) system.

 

It seems to me that everyone probably has different issues that spoil their listening.  For me, I would say - in order of most annoying first:

  1. 'listener fatigue' - by which I mean there's a hard edge to the music coming from the speakers which means, after a short while ... you simply don't want to keep listening.  :(  The cause is varied - it could be a metal tweeter ... it could be an amp which emphasises odd-order harmonics ... as well as other things.
  2. hum from the speakers.  Due to, essentially, earthing problems in the system as a whole.
  3. noise from components - such as fan noise or transformer hum.
  4. a high noise floor - typically due to a crap power supply ... or insufficent shielding.
  5. sibilance - aah, but is this in the recording ... or is your system creating/emphasising it?  xD
  6. lack of soundstage depth (soundstage width is easy!).
  7. congestion - ie. a lack of clarity in the musical lines going on.

 

So ... what are others' issues.  "Tone" might be one, for instance, that is super-important to some people?

 

Andy

 


You must have good ears if you can discern all those issues. I guess I have wood ears as I don't notice too much about the audio quality itself lacking. I mean, my system is far from perfect, but there are only a few minor aspects I'd like improved.

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2 hours ago, Steffen said:

 

Oh, that brings back memories. Many years ago, “back in the old country” I used to love a cup of late night soup. I may have to pick up this habit again, after all, winter is coming.

 

What are you having, I suppose something light? I might start with a nice miso. Is there a soup thread on SNA already? :)

 


Haha, I don't like soup, so normally don't eat it, but have had it many times recently. I had a difficult tooth extraction (dodgy dentist I reckon) which resulted in dry socket and I'm still in some pain over a month later, hence a lot of soup as even the softer solid foods were painful to eat.

 

In that time I haven't made my own. I've had potato and leek (love!) and the heinz winter vegetable is a good, hearty one. Very peppery though, which I usually like, but I think it's overkill in that. Also had creamy chicken and mushroom, which is quite good considering I normally dislike mushroom flavoured soups and sauces, even though I like mushrooms... campbells cream of chicken, and asparagus and celery... hmm maybe I do like soup afterall lol. Well it's the best time of the year for them now also, with it getting cooler.
 

I bought a whole chook to roast, then make stock from the bones the other day. Going to make a creamy broccoli soup since it's not one I've seen in shops, and tastes pretty good/is healthy. Love a french onion soup from scratch too.

 

 

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17 minutes ago, Esoterica said:


You must have good ears if you can discern all those issues. I guess I have wood ears as I don't notice too much about the audio quality itself lacking. I mean, my system is far from perfect, but there are only a few minor aspects I'd like improved.

It's hard to believe such a comment is being posted on the same forum where people say they can't live without the massive improvements a $1000 ethernet cable (allegedly) provides...

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15 minutes ago, Ittaku said:

It's hard to believe

 

I would have hit the like button, but I don’t want to be accused of excessive high-fiving again...

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On 20/03/2021 at 9:55 AM, aussievintage said:

Shouldn't Stereonet be added to that list? :) 

Can you please elaborate?

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16 minutes ago, Steffen said:

 

I would have hit the like button, but I don’t want to be accused of excessive high-fiving again...

:highfive:

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I fortunately do not have any of the issues in the original list, but one that I do have, and may I possibly add it to the list, is the wife shouting from the other room - "would you turn the volume down?! I am trying to sleep here!"

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On 19/03/2021 at 5:18 PM, andyr said:
  1. 'listener fatigue' - by which I mean there's a hard edge to the music coming from the speakers which means, after a short while ... you simply don't want to keep listening.  :(  The cause is varied - it could be a metal tweeter ... it could be an amp which emphasises odd-order harmonics ... as well as other things.
  2. hum from the speakers.  Due to, essentially, earthing problems in the system as a whole.
  3. noise from components - such as fan noise or transformer hum.
  4. a high noise floor - typically due to a crap power supply ... or insufficent shielding.
  5. sibilance - aah, but is this in the recording ... or is your system creating/emphasising it?  xD
  6. lack of soundstage depth (soundstage width is easy!).
  7. congestion - ie. a lack of clarity in the musical lines going on.

 

So ... what are others' issues.  "Tone" might be one, for instance, that is super-important to some people?

More seriously, I agree with number 1 being the worst. I listen for many hours a day and cannot tolerate any fatiguing sound whatsoever. If any component in my system makes me want to turn it down - or worse - off, then it has no place here at all. The rest of your list bother me to various degrees but unless they're really bad wouldn't stop me from enjoying music as background music at least. Whilst I do ideally try to get tonal accuracy right more than anything else, it is not the thing that gets in the way of enjoying music. It tends to run hand in hand with avoiding fatigue anyway.

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1 hour ago, Ittaku said:

It's hard to believe such a comment is being posted on the same forum where people say they can't live without the massive improvements a $1000 ethernet cable (allegedly) provides...

 

1 hour ago, Steffen said:

 

I would have hit the like button, but I don’t want to be accused of excessive high-fiving again...

 

57 minutes ago, Ittaku said:

:highfive:

Toxic, belittling puerile  behaviour such as, but not limited to that above, is high on my list atm

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3 hours ago, April Snow said:

Sibilance (looking at YOU Rod Stewart Greatest Hits repress !!) - LOL 

Brand new records that arrive warped

Brand new records that arrive with scuffs/scratches/marks and then you have to pay attention to see if it affects playback instead of enjoying the music

 

Current mood really does come into play too - I find listening to albums on a Saturday afternoon for example is not as nice as listening late at night.

For some reason music sounds better late evening..............

is it because of atmosphere? Mood? more relaxed not sure - but just something I have really noticed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower ambient noise levels.

 

The other is controversial but I think possibly valid: cleaner mains power supply, less pollution due to less use. Maybe more valid with those like me that use valve gear *shrug*

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Over/under voltage. I always consult the voltage reading prior to switching (or not switching) my system on.

Edited by deanB
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Off-centre pressings. Once heard it cannot be unheard

 

Excessive sibilance or anything that draws unwanted attention to the system or the software being utilised

 

Wife walks in and wants to ask a question, NOW, necessitating mute button. Equanimity ruined

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Speaker, amplifier synergy.  If that is wrong , nothing will fix it. You can pair hyper dollar amps and speakers together, if they don’t feel the love you are in a world of pain. The right combination will hide the weaknesses is a plethora of other components, soft ware or mental state of mind. 

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2 hours ago, deanB said:

Over/under voltage. I always consult the voltage reading prior to switching (or not switching) my system on.

 

How are you measuring what your voltage is, at any point in time??

 

Andy

 

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Guest Eggcup the Dafter

Usually it's when  have to stop and do the washing up!

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On 19/03/2021 at 5:18 PM, andyr said:
  • 'listener fatigue' - by which I mean there's a hard edge to the music coming from the speakers which means, after a short while ... you simply don't want to keep listening.  :(  The cause is varied - it could be a metal tweeter ... it could be an amp which emphasises odd-order harmonics ... as well as other things.
  • hum from the speakers.  Due to, essentially, earthing problems in the system as a whole.
  • noise from components - such as fan noise or transformer hum.
  • a high noise floor - typically due to a crap power supply ... or insufficent shielding.
  • sibilance - aah, but is this in the recording ... or is your system creating/emphasising it?  xD
  • lack of soundstage depth (soundstage width is easy!).
  • congestion - ie. a lack of clarity in the musical lines going on.

 

Thankfully, I can say none of the above.

 

I just hope that is not all from personal experience. Throw in a dying dog and it reads like a Country & Western lament about audio.

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I probably have all those problems and more in my "system" but it still doesn't stop me from enjoying music. Accepting the limitations of my system (in its current state), there is still satisfactory sound produced at least to my ears. Upgrading over time is part of the fun, if I started at end game I think i'd be bored (and broke).

 

Inconsistencies in recordings are however truly annoying, as I cant get to appreciate the full crappiness of my gear!

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  • Wife needing some sort of attention
  • Ditto children
  • Job
  • Dog
  • But seriously.....wife
  • Rolling tubes just to end up with same SQ
  • Rolling tubes just to end up with sound being slightly different but not sure how
  • Spending hours changing cables to end up with same SQ
  • Spending hours changing cables to end up with sound being slightly different but not sure how
  • Spending $$$ on tubes/cables only for above to happen
  • A-B.....then can't listen to test tracks for months
  • A-B.....then finding piece of gear doesn't work when you put it back or you can't remember the settings
  • A-B....finding a hum or buzz that wasn't there before
  • A-B just too subjective.....because the new gear looks so pretty
  • FOMO....buy gear you don't need or constantly side grade
  • FOMO...fear of moving on.....get new gear....is it better than old gear really? Sold old (in my case, generally 2 weeks!!) gear
  • Buy old gear back (at inflated price) to find....yes new gear is better....sell old gear again
  • Constantly thinking about whether selling Utopia/VO/VC/HEDD/HD800S/RAD-0/Cayin HA-300 etc was a good idea
  • Constantly thinking about buying back above
  • Wife
  • Changing pads......on headphones people!

Music is my life....unless better looking music comes along....?

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3 hours ago, BlueOceanBoy said:

unless better looking music comes along.

So no rabbit holes yet over A/B’ing different masterings of the same albums? And when they’re different, is the new one even better? Some songs yes some no. Occasionally none at all but new one is a higher format so better looking for sure.  Fall in a heap. 

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2 hours ago, Indie Hi-Fi said:

So no rabbit holes yet over A/B’ing different masterings of the same albums? And when they’re different, is the new one even better? Some songs yes some no. Occasionally none at all but new one is a higher format so better looking for sure.  Fall in a heap. 

As you know Hugo......this is a huge rabbit hole. Tidal MQA vs Non MQA? CD via transport or using ripper like Antipodes K10 to store on external or internal drive? NAS connected to streamer? Which sounds better? Don't get me started on vinyl! Is one album version better mastered than another? Because it was "mastered"? Was that from original master tapes or remastered from digital? And how and by whom? 

Many on this forum decry Tidal in general and particularly MQA. To me, sometimes MQA is better and sometimes not. Sometimes Tidal is better than CD etc. Is it a mood thing? There was some heated discussion recently about Neil Young pulling his albums off Tidal because of how they (to him) were remastered. Bring on Qobuz!!!

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1 hour ago, BlueOceanBoy said:

As you know Hugo......this is a huge rabbit hole. Tidal MQA vs Non MQA? CD via transport or using ripper like Antipodes K10 to store on external or internal drive? NAS connected to streamer? Which sounds better? Don't get me started on vinyl! Is one album version better mastered than another? Because it was "mastered"? Was that from original master tapes or remastered from digital? And how and by whom? 

Many on this forum decry Tidal in general and particularly MQA. To me, sometimes MQA is better and sometimes not. Sometimes Tidal is better than CD etc. Is it a mood thing? There was some heated discussion recently about Neil Young pulling his albums off Tidal because of how they (to him) were remastered. Bring on Qobuz!!!

Not quite - Neil Young objected to them using the term 'masters' - when he says only he has the masters.  Hard to argue with that. But really? Ole Neil, much as I love him, just moved them over to Amazon... I suspect he got a better deal there...

And in answer to the OP's question - it bugs me when various apps don't/won't give me the details about the file I'm listening to... 

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