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Thread: Quantifying an "Open Sound"

  1. #41
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    Default Listener preference #6

    B sounds much more natural, which rich tonal balance and nice decay trails in the piano sound. Nice imaging and spaciousness.

    A sounds more 'crisp', but in my ears does not sound more open. It just sounds flatter, brighter and more fatiguing. In general, it sounds processed. How do I learn here about openness vs naturalness?

    B sounds more open AND more natural, despite the tipped up balance of A.

  2. #42
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    Post Using headphones connected direct to a macbook - comment #7

    B is more appealing to listen to. A sounds harsher, a bit of a rasp on the string section. But both tracks leave something to be desired especially the piano sounds, as compared to how it would sound live.

    So would B then be termed more natural?

    {Moderator's comment: listening on headphones is perfectly OK, but please state (as you have) that you have arrived at your opinion listening on 'phones not speakers. Thanx for the feedback.}

  3. #43
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    Default Listener comment No. 8

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    There are two audio clips here. The digital recording was made by Decca at the Kingsway Hall, London. Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20, K466. Vladimir Ashkenazy. Catalogue: 414 337-2.
    On PC speakers the main difference that leapt out was the slightly "swimmy" quality of the reverberation of version B. Likewise, there seems to be a tad more top in the strings in version B.

    The extra reverb. (in example B) could cause the strings to acquire this extra HF "sheen", or a little HF might have been removed from version A, dulling down the presentation.

    I guess that A is the true sound of Kingsway Hall - B sounds a little artificial in comparison.

  4. #44
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    Default Internal iMac Speakers - Listener #9

    "A" sounds to me like it was recorded a little farther back in the music hall than "B".

    {Moderator's comment: I think you mean that the microphones were further away from the performers in the hall. Right?}

    Reply: Correct.

    To me, it sounds if the the microphones were farther back and more in the middle of the music hall with clip A than in clip B.

  5. #45
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    Default Listener comment #10

    I listened to both clips on my IBM laptop built-in speakers.

    The immediate impression was that "A" sounded brighter with perhaps more energy weighting in the HF band and the piano sounded ever so percussive. Upon further listening back and forth comparing both clips, I confirmed "A" as bright and fatiguing - something which does not match my experience of classical music performance in a hall.

    Both "A" and "B" are Open, yet I felt "B" closer to what I thought as real music performance, i.e. natural sound.

    In other words, to me, "B" is Natural and Open. "A" is Open but not so natural.

  6. #46
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    Default Agrees with my experience!

    Quote Originally Posted by czekhaan View Post
    I listened to both clips on my IBM laptop built-in speakers.

    The immediate impression was that "A" sounded brighter with perhaps more energy weighting in the HF band and the piano sounded ever so percussive. Upon further listening back and forth comparing both clips, I confirmed "A" as bright and fatiguing - something which does not match my experience of classical music performance in a hall.

    Both "A" and "B" are Open, yet I felt "B" closer to what I thought as real music performance, i.e. natural sound.

    In other words, to me, "B" is Natural and Open. "A" is Open but not so natural.
    Spot on with my experience, stated earlier in my 'Listener preference 6' post #41. Clear preference for B on hi-fi (Harbeth) speakers. The same results on studio headphones (Shure SRH-840).

  7. #47
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    Default What exactly do we mean by 'open'? Preference No. 11

    Quote Originally Posted by garmtz View Post
    B sounds much more natural, which rich tonal balance and nice decay trails in the piano sound. Nice imaging and spaciousness.

    A sounds more 'crisp', but in my ears does not sound more open. It just sounds flatter, brighter and more fatiguing. In general, it sounds processed. [snip]
    This is also my impression after listening to A and B. But we are now using the word "open" as if we had agreed on its meaning. For me, personally, an "open sound" opens a window on the instrument (including voice) and the space around it. Closing my eyes, I could be there, near the microphone (when the recording is closely mic'ed) or in the hall (when the room makes more of a contribution). Like this:

    Quote Originally Posted by macroaudio View Post
    [snip]
    "Open Sound" might be described as depicting the air and ambience one experiences when listening to a minimally miked direct to disc recording session, such as Dave Grusin's Sheffield Direct to Disc title "Discovered Again!". If any of the forum members have that disc, listen to any cut and hear the air around each instrument, the ambience of the studio room, the 3D-ness of each performance, how the acoustic bass resonates within itself and the room. That is Open Sound!
    But is this how others are using the word "open" in our discussions? If we have different meanings in mind, then we're not communicating with accuracy and fidelity (to use two other audio terms).

    Bruce

  8. #48
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    Default Meaning of "Open" and its Source

    Quote Originally Posted by Euler View Post
    But is this how others are using the word "open" in our discussions? If we have different meanings in mind, then we're not communicating with accuracy and fidelity (to use two other audio terms).

    Bruce
    And once we come to some agreement on the meaning of "open", we still have the question that led to this thread: can one, in an engineering sense, track down the source of this "open" sound? Is it due to the speaker's resolution? Does an "open" sound result from high resolution/detail and a "natural" sound from the accuracy/fidelity of that detail?

    Bruce

    {Moderator's comment: Indeed. We are still collecting listener feedback from the two clips please hopeful that this will throw some light on the matter. Thank you.}

  9. #49
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    Default Please confirm speaker type

    Can contributors please confirm whether they have made their preference for A or B on h-ifi speakers/system, PC or similar small non hi-fi speakers (incl. inbuilt speakers) or headphones.

    Contributions, observations, preferences are still very much welcomed.

  10. #50
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    Default Suggestibility of others opinions?

    I have to admit that I have the least experience with live orchestra music. Therefore, after reading a respected member's opinion which contradicted mine I had some doubts about the correctness of my assessment. A *member of HUG ( a silent observer ) who initially agreed with my earlier observation is now having second thoughts.

    Looks like we also hear what one suggests. As for me, I still stand by my post No:36.

    ST

  11. #51
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    Default PC speakers

    Quote Originally Posted by garmtz View Post
    B sounds much more natural, which rich tonal balance and nice decay trails in the piano sound. Nice imaging and spaciousness.

    A sounds more 'crisp', but in my ears does not sound more open. It just sounds flatter, brighter and more fatiguing. In general, it sounds processed. How do I learn here about openness vs naturalness? [snip].
    Quote Originally Posted by Euler View Post
    This is also my impression after listening to A and B. But we are now using the word "open" as if we had agreed on its meaning. For me, personally, an "open sound" opens a window on the instrument (including voice) and the space around it. Closing my eyes, I could be there, near the microphone (when the recording is closely mic'ed) or in the hall (when the room makes more of a contribution). [snip]

    Bruce
    Just to confirm: I listened to A and B on PC speakers.

    Bruce

  12. #52
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    Default Listener opinion No.12

    On my laptop's built-in speakers - the farthest thing from high fidelity - A seems initially more impressive in that it seems to give a bit more bite and incisiveness to the piano's sound.

    But I agree with those who find B more natural-sounding: the reverb trails on the piano are easier to hear, and the strings in particular seem smoother and better-balanced. On A they sound a bit harsh and screechy.

  13. #53
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    Default Listener preference #13

    On cheap desktop speakers, my preferrence was "B". I found the strings on "A" to be unlistenable.

  14. #54
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    Default It hurts! Listener report No. 14

    Track A becomes fatiguing quite quickly. Too crisp and shallow.
    Track B is more "rounded" and relaxing. More musical.

    Finding words for what I heard is an interesting exercise in itself.

  15. #55
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    Default No right or wrong answer

    Quote Originally Posted by STHLS5 View Post
    I have to admit that I have the least experience with live orchestra music. Therefore, after reading a respected member's opinion which contradicted mine I had some doubts about the correctness of my assessment. A *member of HUG ( a silent observer ) who initially agreed with my earlier observation is now having second thoughts.

    Looks like we also hear what one suggests. As for me, I still stand by my post No:36.

    ST
    It's a matter of perception and as Alan said earlier, there is no right or wrong answer or assessment.

    You mentioned an interesting but different topic on influence, in particular, by a respected member. A book by Robert Cialdini elucidates how influence works its way in everyday life and makes a good read.

    Anyway, I enjoy this exercise and will learn even more about my own perception of sound, regardless of the "outcome".

    {Moderator's comment: this Forum cannot hide contributions and even if it could this is not a formal, structured test and needs a certain amount of visible user activity to encourage others to participate. The point you make though is correct about the dangers of opinion leadership. More listening experiences welcome.}

  16. #56
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    Default Listener preference No.15

    After listening through AudioEngine A5 active monitors, I heard A was louder and harsh which made me think it's compressed...

    B sounds less "open" and more natural relatively, to my ear.

    If A had a bit more clean upper midrange and treble, I would choose to play both synchronously... then it would be nicer than the real...

    I mean playing A+B synchronously could be better than acoustic live concert in audiophilic terms...

    Sometimes in concert hall, I feel acoustic sound of the instruments are less open, and less natural than they should be... also they don't have pin-point and 3D imaging like audiophile stereo systems:-)

  17. #57
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    Default Listener preference No. 16

    Yesterday I had chosen B, because of it sounds more natural.

    But after listening one more time, today it doesn't sound like it was yesterday. May be it's because of my ears, or my mood, or room air conditions, or speaker placement, or computer produce different amount of jitter...

    Now I choose A, it sounds clear (better than a Redbook CD) like SACD or XRCD version, the only thing I didn't like is: piano partition at the beginning sounds as if it's recorded microphones are closer to each instrument.

    B has a disturbing reverberation for piano (or as if it's a kind of electrical piano). I can't see the walls of the hall, I feel as if I hear the notes twice.

    If I had sound Photoshop I would mix A and B yesterday; today I would cut first half from A and second half from B to produce my taste.

    I don't know which one I'll choose tomorrow :-)

    Is there anybody who hears (or feels) different at another day?

  18. #58
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    Default Conclusions from 'openness' test? - last chance to contribute

    Quote Originally Posted by A. E. View Post
    ...Is there anybody who hears (or feels) different at another day?
    After a week or so I thank the sixteen contributors who had the confidence and willingness to step forward and give their opinions in an open forum. I take my hat off to you. This is a 1% response.

    The problem we now have is that with such a minute sample we have to take care to draw reliable conclusions that can truly expand our understanding of what we mean by 'natural' and 'open' when we describe audio experiences. So, before I reveal the identity of clips A and B this is your chance to review (or make) a contribution which will give us more opinions and more data to work with. You are contributing to a really important audio test.

    Just describe what you hear and feel. As I said before, there are no right and wrong answers. It may be better for those who contributed to be able to discuss this further in a secure, private sub-forum rather than we collectively give away, FOC, valuable knowledge to the entire industry.

    Thank you again for your willingness to play the game.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  19. #59
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    Default Listener preference No. 17

    I found A to be the more direct sound and by definition natural and open to the recorded sound. B I found to be more distant or indirect i.e. there was more real or electronic space between sound and the recording.

    This was with earbuds from the laptop. Of speakers I have owned, they could be sorted by the differences as mentioned, with 60's Kef Chorale's being like B and B&W DM4's like A.

  20. #60
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    Default Listener feedback No. 18

    Listened on my Dell desktop computer speakers.

    The big difference seemed to come when the strings played. in "A" they were brighter and "screechier" than in "B". In B -- and this could all be subjective -- it seemed easier to distinguish the different instruments in the orchestra from each other.

    Maybe that ability to distinguish is what people are talking about when they refer to an "open" sound. I have always imagined this term to refer to being able to hear the spaces between the different instruments or voices (meaning spaces in time, or in frequency).

    Others here seem to be referring to perceived physical space between the instruments on a soundstage, but maybe we're referring to the same impression of separation between the tones. This separation would let you better distinguish the different instruments or voices.

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