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Quantifying an "Open Sound"

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  • #16
    Pianos do exist as sound generators ....

    Originally posted by A.S. View Post

    Well, what do we make of that valid question?
    Well, pianos do exist as physical objects in the real world, and they are capable of making sound without amplification. (True, no two are exactly alike, but then, no two voices are exactly alike either.) Virtually everyone has heard an unamplified piano and has a fairly good idea what one sounds like.

    So, in very simple terms, I'd say a "natural" piano sound is a recording that conveys as much as possible the sound that makes a piano a piano, and not some other instrument.

    Too simple?

    Comment


    • #17
      Fatiguing Chicks

      Originally posted by A.S. View Post
      I'd say that 'natural sound' reproduced over a quality audio system will not be ....

      1) Fatiguing
      2) Too loud

      (This is more difficult than it looks!)
      I wonder whether the sound of the chicks in the nest of Great Tits might be very "natural" through Harbeth speakers, yet still fatiguing.

      Bruce

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
        ...But then which piano sound is accurate and natural? Compact7 was developed based on the bright tones of Steinway. So is Steinway is more natural than a Yamaha?
        Thanks for the quote but to the casual reader it could be misinterpreted as meaning that somehow the C7 was optimised in such a way that it enhanced the Steinway at the expense of the Yamaha. And that's definitely not true; it's not my job to design a speaker that has a strong sonic personality that could favour one istrument over another.

        The key question surely has to be this: One cannot begin the process of appraising what is 'natural sounding' unless you have some reliable, memorable experience of hearing a particular instrument (or at the very least, a class of instrument) in the raw, unamplified with your own ears and with enough time to concentrate on the sound and absorb and commit the experience (or at least, the ghost of the memory of the flavour of the experience) to long term memory.

        So, what I was commenting on was, heard 'in the flesh', how much brighter and interesting the tone of the Steinway was than I imagined it to be. Whether you like the Steinway sound is of course entirely a matter of choice. But it's certainly very difficult for any speaker system to capture that air.
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

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        • #19
          Is 'open sound' the same as 'natural sound'?

          Originally posted by garmtz View Post
          This thread started with the question how to quantify/qualify an 'open sound'. Is a 'natural' sound always an open sound? Or the other way around, is an 'open' sound always 'natural'?

          [snip]

          What makes a speaker sound 'open'? Is it low level detail, lack of colouration? A linear frequency response? I think this will asnwer the question of the topic starter best. Maybe we can open another topic to investigate what constitutes 'natural sound'?
          Yes, if "open sound" and "natural sound" are different, then we have two different questions. My original question -- What do we mean by an "open sound" and can one track it down, in an engineering sense, to a source? -- was prompted by Alan's worry that, driven by all the knowledge he has gained over the years, he might inadvertantly end up engineering the "magic" (which might be the "open sound") out of given speaker in its redesign.

          Bruce

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          • #20
            Something to do with frequency response? Yes or no?

            I'm wondering is this 'openness' is related to frequency response. Perhaps in the loudness of particular frequency bands or to the extension of the overall bandwidth at the extremities.

            We've looked at this sort of concept in very great depth in this thread.

            In particular, going directly to post #62, we can hear examples of the manipulation of the frequency response. Also have a look at posts # 63 and more examples in post #64.

            Are we still floundering or can we perhaps eliminate frequency response as a factor in 'openness' I wonder and move onwards. Or perhaps not? But we do need to run this one to ground.
            Alan A. Shaw
            Designer, owner
            Harbeth Audio UK

            Comment


            • #21
              Many questions and observations

              This thread started with the question how to quantify/qualify an 'open sound'. Is a 'natural' sound always an open sound? Or the other way around, is an 'open' sound always 'natural'? I think the first is true, because 'not open' will always point in the direction of some colouration, either subtractive or addictive. As for an 'open' sound to be natural:
              That's tough because we are having difficulties in describing what's natural. IMHO, Natural sounding speaker is not necessarily a criterion for open sounding. Unless, my understanding of open sound is different from the rest of the members here, I have perceived far better open sound in a some fatiguing speakers such as the Peavey that I mentioned earlier. The only thing that was common in these speakers was they were playing much much louder than I normally listen to and in a bigger room than mine.

              A.S. wrote:-I'm wondering is this 'openness' is related to frequency response. Perhaps in the loudness of particular frequency bands or to the extension of the overall bandwidth at the extremities.
              I suspect so. I am not sure if flat frquency response is an important criterion for open sound but from my experience with my PreAmp, I need to play above a certain minimum level for the sound to open up. Has this got to do something with loudness or the changes in FR at higher level of loudness? I don't know. Perhaps, my room is too damped that it sucks out the highs while playing at low volume.

              The other thing that I have observed is the dynamic range of some system, which seems to compress so that the loudest and quietest passage appears equally loud. Playing Jennifer Wernes Way Way down, the first few beat of the drum is as high as 100db and the vocal is moderately soft. In my friend's system which appears to be more open than mine both the vocal and the drum sound doesn't vary that much. Did they design the speakers in such a way so that high and low passages sound loud giving a false sense of attractiveness?

              ST

              Comment


              • #22
                Natural sound mimics nature. Open sound is not the same thing ...

                I don't think open sound automatically confers natural sound. For eg, most of the PA spks are very open sounding by virtue of its wide dispersion horn design. But are these PA spks natural sounding? Far from it!

                Same goes to a lot of other high end domestic loudspeakers. Many of these are also very open sounding but definitely not natural. I feel that a natural sound reproduction is one that closely mimics what we hear from anything other than those that's electrically amplified. Like voices, birds chirping & sounds from acoustic musical instruments.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Stop! We need some proper definitions of 'open' and 'natural' sound

                  Viewed from the outside, we are not looking too impressive in this thread. It would seem that we who live and breath high-fidelity sound can't succinctly define the very core words that we use every day. Even wine experts can agree a common lexicon to describe the basic qualities of wine.

                  I'm really concerned when in the same context as 'natural sound' I see mention of PA speakers with their "open sound." This is crying-out for a proper definition please. I did start that analytical process > here < but it just hasn't been followed through, hence we are going around in circles. Surely we need a short list we can collectively digest, not thousands of anecdotal words.

                  Can I urge you to press on with this until we have a draft working definition and keep tightly on subject until we do. I've asked Moderation to be especially vigilant in keeping to that path.
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    &quot;Natural&quot; vs. &quot;Open&quot;

                    Surely "natural" is the more straightforward term of the two. I would simply define a natural-sounding speaker as one that can reproduce a real-world unamplified sound (piano, voice, trumpet, birdsong) with audible fidelity to the original, without any too obvious distortion or coloration. There may be more, but I think that must be the starting point.

                    "Open" seems to me a more more slippery and inherently subjective concept. It sounds good, but I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean. Even assuming that it's a quality that we can zero in on, would it not be more a characteristic of a recording than of a speaker? Wouldn't a "natural" sounding speaker also always sound "open", if "openness" (whatever that is) is captured on the recording?

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Open and natural is ....

                      For me open and natural is:

                      -Low coloration/distortion, especially in the mid band
                      -no dynamic compression

                      Eric

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Maybe this?

                        I think it is difficult to describe a natural sounding speaker. So I asked myself why I bought Harbeth *even though I am unable to describe it.*

                        My reference for a good speakers has always been the vocals. I just can tell by hearing if the vocals is clean without any coloration. I think you just know it that the sound coming out from the speakers is the actual sound of the recording and not from the speakers.

                        Maybe, you can't describe a natural sounding speakers but you can comprehend one when you hear it.

                        ST

                        {Moderator's comment: OK maybe so but how to translate your vivid experience into language a hi-fi novice half a world away could understand? That is what we must try to do.}

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Circles?

                          Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
                          My reference for a good speakers has always been the vocals. I just can tell by hearing if the vocals is clean without any coloration
                          Are we going round in circles here. GOTO post#3 in this thread.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Defining 'naturalness' and considering 'openness'

                            Originally posted by EricW View Post
                            Surely "natural" is the more straightforward term of the two. I would simply define a natural-sounding speaker as one that can reproduce a real-world unamplified sound (piano, voice, trumpet, birdsong) with audible fidelity to the original, without any too obvious distortion or coloration. There may be more, but I think that must be the starting point.

                            "Open" seems to me a more more slippery and inherently subjective concept.
                            Eric's rough definition of "natural" would be my rough definition as well. Of course, it would take a listener with a finely tuned ear and extensive experience with the unamplified sounds of voice and instruments in various venues to judge the "naturalness" of a speaker with accuracy and reliability.

                            An "open sound", on the other hand, suggests to me a different sort of fidelity, something like the accurate reproduction of the "air" or "space" around the performer and in the venue, so that the speakers disappear and the listener feels as if he's been drawn right into the performing space. This may be related to sound stage creation too.

                            This is quite vague, and it may not correspond even vaguely with how others think of "open sound", but before we can arrive at a more careful definition, we should first agree at least on a vague meaning.

                            Bruce

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Refining definitions

                              Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                              ?.......

                              I'd say that 'natural sound' reproduced over a quality audio system will not be ....

                              1) Fatiguing
                              2) Too loud

                              (This is more difficult than it looks!)
                              I will add (3) sense of being there.

                              May I suggest that we modify (1) and (2) to reflect the quality of Harbeth's natural sound? How about

                              (1) you hear extended highs without feeling fatigue.
                              (2) it can play loud without feeling too loud.

                              ST

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Natural sound in audio playback

                                Newbie non techkie view of natural sound = faithful playback of entire frequency range + correct intensity (volume) of the original sound recorded......... though this doesnt tie in, in all situations with Alan (a) non fatiguing and not loud.

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