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catman

Can an audio system be too revealing?

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G'day all, I've recently read posts on this general subject on a few different fora of late, and I think that it is a point well made.  For whatever reason a given system can I think be too revealing/detailed to the point that faults/deficiencies in program material become too apparent/obvious and general musical enjoyment suffers.  I can think of at least one local AM radio station with 'ordinary' modulation quality that actually sounds better when listening on a radio of similarly 'ordinary' reception quality. 

 

Just today I commissioned a set of new Cambridge Audio SX50 bookshelf speakers for my bedroom audio system.  They sound wonderful, but clearly have superior treble response compared to the old Sonab's that they replaced, so much so that I am now aware of FM signal noise that I never did with the old Sonab's!  Yes, maybe a system can be too revealing?!  Regards, Felix.

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Perhaps not "too revealing" as you really cannot reveal more than what you have? But "overemphasize".

 

In terms of frequency response this is easy to see in the frequency. Uneven tweeter response, for example.

 

And then you have the room and near walls/floor...

 

Some of the best room/speakers setup which I have heard generally were unimpressive at first as there is really nothing to 'emphasize'. But then you listen for longer period over many recording materials and simply there's no fatique etc.

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G'day mate, yes good point.  A bit like a lack of distortion that sometimes sound unimpressive/boring at first listen.  Regards, Felix. 

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Yes, maybe a system can be too revealing?!  Regards, Felix.

 

Yes, I understand what you mean ..... but I think the term "revealing" causes a lot of problems.  It can have positive and negative connotations.

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Absolutely not and if you think so you're just fart arsing around. Just think about it, is there anything else we would even consider this other than Hi-Fi? That is if it becomes too good, too close to perfect it actually becomes worse? Oh you're reading this and you don't agree? Like I said, fart arsing around :)

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Guest Sime

If you can hear a sparrow fart outside the studio and the system is still warm and engaging, then that's as good as you could possible want.

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Guest Hensa

Can an audio system be too revealing? In the wrong room, absolutely!

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In the above case isn't the problem the room not the system?  The room's deficiencies can be tuned out by the use of correct treatment rather than hobbling the system but it might cost more.

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Answer to the OP - Yes. Pair a Krell KSA150 or one of the old Bob Carver power amps with a B&W 802 and what you will get is bad synergy with an overemphasised treble and high end of the sound spectrum, truly ear piercing. 

 

Synergy has a lot to play with matching components.

Edited by DefQon

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Generally speaking, people will use the term "too revealing" to cover up other flaws in the system. If the sound is etched and fatiguing, it is not the level of detail that is the problem but the tonal/ timbral balance of the system.

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Answer to the OP - Yes. Pair a Krell KSA150 or one of the old Bob Carver power amps with a B&W 802 and what you will get is bad synergy with an overemphasised treble and high end of the sound spectrum, truly ear piercing. 

 

 

That speaker has +- 5db peak and dip at 4khz and 10khz, this would certainly be audible (human hearing can differentiate 0.5db). Perhaps perceptually "too revealing"

 

1205802fig4.jpg

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Guest Hensa

In the above case isn't the problem the room not the system?  The room's deficiencies can be tuned out by the use of correct treatment rather than hobbling the system but it might cost more.

 

I see it as the combination of the system in the room rather than one or the other. It is only a good thing if you then intend (or can afford) to rectify the resulting room issues highlighted by the revealing system. But if no room treatment is then applied a revealing system in a bright (for example) room will be a poor match.

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But if no room treatment is then applied a revealing system in a bright (for example) room will be a poor match.

 

Don't forget the exact same thing happens with bass frequencies.

It doesn't matter if the speaker is fantastically awesome with a frequency response of +-0.5 db from 200Hz to 20Hz and costs $500,000.

The typical listening rooms and even really good ones are surely going to wreck it and there goes your "revealing" bass.

I've never heard a truly "revealing" system i.e. +-0.1db 20KHz to 20Hz, has anyone?

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Guest Hensa

Don't forget the exact same thing happens with bass frequencies.

It doesn't matter if the speaker is fantastically awesome with a frequency response of +-0.5 db from 200Hz to 20Hz and costs $500,000.

The typical listening rooms and even really good ones are surely going to wreck it and there goes your "revealing" bass.

I've never heard a truly "revealing" system i.e. +-0.1db 20KHz to 20Hz, has anyone?

I think that's making the assumption that "revealing" means a ruler flat system from 20Hz to 20KHz and in that case I'd agree - I haven't heard such a system I'm sure. However, "revealing" can also have a more subjective meaning and this is often how the descriptor is used in audiophile terms. It could also mean "revealing" through a more limited frequency response such as in the mids or highs. In either case, the revealing nature of the system may highlight room issues that need to be addressed and if not addressed, that revealing system will not sound as good as it can.

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Edited by Hensa

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I think that's making the assumption that "revealing" means a ruler flat system from 20Hz to 20KHz and in that case I'd agree...

 

Yes and I presume that's what the OP meant.

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Guest Hensa

Yes and I presume that's what the OP meant.

Based on the OP's description of the sound of the Cambridge bookshelf speakers, I very much doubt it...

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Based on the OP's description of the sound of the Cambridge bookshelf speakers, I very much doubt it...

 

Well if that's the case (and I don't believe it is) then it's the wrong question. It should be "Can a system be too high in treble output?". A relatively simple question with relatively simple answer.

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Guest Hensa

@@catman can clarify his meaning but seems clear that he is stating his speakers might be too revealing in the highs and asking the question in broader terms without restricting the definition of "revealing" to being flat response 20Hz to 20KHz.

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Edited by Hensa

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You're right, certainly a very average or poor audio source will sound crappy on a high end system because you will hear more of the faults that would otherwise be masked by a lower resolution system.

 

I think its akin to watching low budget High Def movies, you might start noticing the nasty make-up jobs, fake props and painted backdrops.

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If a system is "too revealing" is it not unbalanced?  That may happen when components are miss-matched or when the user expects too much of the components in the system in the area of use.  These unbalances can then be further exaggerated by inappropriate placement of components in the room (e.g. speakers, but could be other components).  Placement issues might be dictated by aesthetics, physical limitations, areas of multi-use/user considerations.  The room-system interaction (modes, reflection vs direct sound, absorption et. al.) will greatly further influence the final sound.  

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I am now aware of FM signal noise that I never did with the old Sonab's! Yes, maybe a system can be too revealing?! Regards, Felix.

If you can hear FM signal noise, fm signal strength is usually the culprit. As a general rule, if AM radio sounds better than anything you have serious issues with your source material.

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G'day mate, yes FM signal strength is the issue, only having a FM radio with an inbuilt telescopic whip for an FM antenna.  However the new speakers with greatly improved treble makes FM signal noise much more audible under the same reception conditions.  Regards, Felix.   

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Cumon guys your making this too complicated

Yes of course a system can be too revealing if the source or music you listen to is crap eg am radio or MP3

If the source or music you listen to is good then it's going to sound good no matter how revealing your system and I can't listen to am or fm on any decent system as it sounds shite!!!! Car stereos or window sill radios only here

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Most of my music is rock or metal so yes, sometimes I think my system rubs my nose in the bad recordings a bit too much.

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