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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:27 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:04 am
Posts: 202
Location: Chicoutimi, QC, CA
ABX and objective listening

I would like to share with you a way to train your ears with different music quality files and to compare equipments*, mixing techniques* as well as undesired effects like clipping.

*I still need to source or produce those files. Help is welcome since I'll have to learn how to do it. I'll update this thread as soon as I can. Note that I have access to music files with the owner's agreement.

With the right tools and knowledge we could hope to have more quality music and gear.

You can first practise your ears with your computer and heaphone. With your speakers and complete system, you will have to deal with the acoustic properties of your room. Once your ears get used to hear what you want switch with your speakers. Please share your experiences with gear swapping and the impact with your results.

If you own the proper equipement you can record your gear : preamplifier, amplifier, cables, DAC, sound cards, etc. and share your files. It could help members to get an idea on what they want to buy. Also It could be a good idea to build a database for comparison purpose.*

*Help here is welcome, to build a procedure or for file sourcing

Feel free to add content and correct me if needed. This procedure can be copy, reuse and modify at will, share it with your friends.


What you will need to do your tests* :

A computer or a laptop(more convenient).
Foobar2000 + Converter pack plugin + ABX comparator plugin
A high quality music file, like FLAC. Make sure your DAC fully support it. (You can rip it from a CD you own :
https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-rip- ... s-to-flac/ )
A usb DAC with a usb cable long enough to get to your computer
or
An RCA to audio jack
Attachment:
temium_rca_mini_jack_3_5mm_.jpg
temium_rca_mini_jack_3_5mm_.jpg [ 94.25 KiB | Viewed 1016 times ]

A preamplifier/ amplifier
Headphone and/or speakers
An open mind
A friend can be useful for testing with speakers if your cables are not long enough to get to your sweet spot.
You can get music files here

*The tests can be done with a computer/laptop and headphone only

https://www.mediafire.com/folder/sm2clu ... usic_files

See post #3 for more music samples

Note that I can send you the procedure (word format) if you want

-- 20 Sep 2017 13:37 --

Installation procedures

1- In order to do your tests you will need to download Foobar2000 and install it on your computer.

You can find it here : http://www.foobar2000.org/download


2 - For this exemple we will compare the same file with a different quality and bit rate. so you will have to donwload the Foobar2000's converter pack plugin.

You can find it here : http://www.foobar2000.org/encoderpack

Once downloaded, you have to install it.


3 - To compare files you will need the Foobar2000's ABX comparator plugin

You can find it here : http://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_abx

Here's the procedure to install it :

Step 1: Open the foobar2000 preferences dialog (click File | Preferences or key CTRL+P).
Attachment:
Foobar - Preferences.png
Foobar - Preferences.png [ 37.69 KiB | Viewed 1011 times ]


Step 2: Go to the Components page.

Step 3: Click the "Install..." button and select the component archive, or simply drag it to the list.
Attachment:
Foobar - Install.png
Foobar - Install.png [ 102.47 KiB | Viewed 1011 times ]

Attachment:
Foobar - Install - 2.png
Foobar - Install - 2.png [ 51.33 KiB | Viewed 1011 times ]


Step 4: Press "OK", you will be prompted to restart foobar2000 in order to load the newly installed component.

It's done.


Last edited by patate91 on Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:27 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:51 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:04 am
Posts: 202
Location: Chicoutimi, QC, CA
Converting process

You will need a high quality music file (make sure your DAC fully support it), you can use a file you have downloaded from a legal source or rip it from one of your CD.
https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-rip- ... s-to-flac/

Open Foobar2000
Click File -> Open -> Choose your music file
Right Click on the file in the playlist menu -> Go to Convert -> Go to ''...'' and click on it
Attachment:
Foobar -  Click Convert.png
Foobar - Click Convert.png [ 38.33 KiB | Viewed 1007 times ]


The Converter steup window will appear with four menus.
Attachment:
Foobar  - Converter Setup.png
Foobar - Converter Setup.png [ 26.12 KiB | Viewed 1007 times ]


1 - Outpout format
1.1 - Click on Output format -> Choose the output format you want and click Edit (for this exemple we will use MP3).
Attachment:
Foobar - Output Setting.png
Foobar - Output Setting.png [ 51.28 KiB | Viewed 1007 times ]

1.2 - Set the quality you want - 130kbps here for our earing test -> Click OK
Attachment:
Foobar - Quality Setting.png
Foobar - Quality Setting.png [ 24.03 KiB | Viewed 1007 times ]

1.3 - Click Back


2 - Destination

You can leave the default settings - Foobar will ask you where you want to save your file when the conversion will be done.


3 - Processing
Now we want to resample the file.

3.1 - Click on Processing
3.2 - Choose Resampler (DBpoweramp/SSRC) from the left menu and click on the arrow to load it to the right
Attachment:
Foobar - Processing menu.png
Foobar - Processing menu.png [ 52.98 KiB | Viewed 1007 times ]

3.3 - Select it in the right menu and Click -> Configure selected
3.4 - Select the desired bit rate - let say 44100 Hz -> Click Ok
Attachment:
Foobar - Bit rate selection.png
Foobar - Bit rate selection.png [ 50.96 KiB | Viewed 1007 times ]

3.5 - Click Back

4 - Other

You can leave this by default.

Click Convert
Attachment:
Foobar - Convert.png
Foobar - Convert.png [ 42.58 KiB | Viewed 1007 times ]


A window will comes up showing the converting progress.

Once finish close the output converter window

It's done!


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:20 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:04 am
Posts: 202
Location: Chicoutimi, QC, CA
ABX Comparison

Comparing our files

Click File -> Open... -> Select both files you want to compare.
Make sure both file are selected in the playlist menu - Right Click on tracks -> Go to Utilities -> ABX tracks... and click on it.
Attachment:
Foobar - Choose - ABX.png
Foobar - Choose - ABX.png [ 50.71 KiB | Viewed 992 times ]


Choose the number of trials you want - Let say 10 for now -> Click Ok.
Attachment:
Foobar - ABX - number of trial.png
Foobar - ABX - number of trial.png [ 30.54 KiB | Viewed 992 times ]


Let's have some fun and start comparing our files.

You can now play the A file and the B file, take your time here and try to identify which one is flac or 130kbps mp3.

Then play the X file and the Y file, you can go back and forth with the A and B file. (1)

Choose in the right menu if ''X is A, Y is B'' or ''Y is A, X is B''. (2)
Click Next trial. (3)
Start again.
Attachment:
Foobar - ABX - Listen and choose.png
Foobar - ABX - Listen and choose.png [ 26.26 KiB | Viewed 992 times ]


Once all 10 tests are done click -> Finish
Attachment:
Foobar - ABX - Finish.png
Foobar - ABX - Finish.png [ 32.02 KiB | Viewed 992 times ]


You will now have your log file, you can now -> Save it and share your results here if you want.
Attachment:
Foobar - ABX - Save log.png
Foobar - ABX - Save log.png [ 66 KiB | Viewed 992 times ]


Voila!

Now train your ear and share your results here. There's no shame to fail to identify certain things, there's a lot of marketing hype and a lot of people who will make you doubt : if you never heard a X system you won't never know. Most gear today are transparent and the room's acoustic will have a huge impact on what you are earing. But before someone can says he can hear difference between cables it would be a good thing to see if he can hear difference between commun music files.

Enjoy! :)

-- 20 Sep 2017 14:35 --

Useful links

Need music files to experiment?

Artifacts and noise : http://ethanwiner.com/audibility.html
Converters (25$ sound card vs high price gear): http://ethanwiner.com/converters.html
24 bits vs 16 bits : http://ethanwiner.com/BitsTest.html
Dither vs truncation : http://ethanwiner.com/dither.html
Dither http://www.sereneaudio.com/blog/what-do ... sound-like
HydrogenAudio https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/board,35.0.html

Youtube video

Compression

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEwoBjP1HXw

Clipping

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSrTuz8_1Tg

Others ways to train and test your ears

http://harmanhowtolisten.blogspot.ca/?m=1

Does your computer or music server will add noise?

https://archimago.blogspot.ca/2017/09/m ... r.html?m=1

Opposing Links to Archimaho's measurements, note that those articles are from 2013 and 2016. Feel free to comment directly on his blog.
https://db.audioasylum.com/mhtml/m.html ... o&n=155193
https://db.audioasylum.com/mhtml/m.html ... o&n=124929

24/192 + music files

https://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

Ask me if you have suggestions and I'll add them. Particularly links to different approach and way of thinking.


Last edited by patate91 on Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:59 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:49 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:33 am
Posts: 1021
Location: Kingston, ON, CA
If all you own is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.....

_________________
(Ken Hotte, of) Teo Audio


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:19 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:04 am
Posts: 202
Location: Chicoutimi, QC, CA
Teo Audio wrote:
If all you own is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.....


Very true!

I did some tests last night, I noted that I get tired pretty fast, and that I needed some breaks during a 16 trials test.

I did it in my dedicated room, at my usual listening level : ~65db, 70db max. Next time I'll plug my microphone to get the exact SPL.
Laptop* ->USB cable-> TEAC CDP/USB DAC -> RCA -> Amplifier.
*I did not used ASIO Driver since they were bugging.

Noise test with Ethan's file

-50db vs -60db, pretty easy, almost perfect
Quote:
foo_abx 2.0.4 report
foobar2000 v1.3.16
2017-09-19 20:20:44

File A: concerto-50.wav
SHA1: 1bb20b098aba99a598a90c0e05e74608c0e4ccbd
File B: concerto-60.wav
SHA1: 9972ec4973748e13bd1ead05d97373fee4778686

Output:
DS : Interface SPDIF (TEAC CD-2000)
Crossfading: NO

20:20:44 : Test started.
20:21:26 : 01/01
20:21:44 : 01/02
20:22:08 : 02/03
20:22:34 : 03/04
20:23:11 : 04/05
20:23:27 : 05/06
20:23:36 : 06/07
20:23:56 : 07/08
20:24:16 : 08/09
20:24:16 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 8/9
Probability that you were guessing: 2.0%

-- signature --
417d458e8c5b8196648ff32b5941854238fd0b26


-60db vs -70db - complet fail, I was guessing Note that I did a 9 trials before and I got lucky and got a decent result even If I was guessing. Did it again with a 16 trials.

Quote:
foo_abx 2.0.4 report
foobar2000 v1.3.16
2017-09-19 20:32:43

File A: concerto-60.wav
SHA1: 9972ec4973748e13bd1ead05d97373fee4778686
File B: concerto-70.wav
SHA1: fcf6c800dd8f1dcbf4f9b6d628cbad494de09e0c

Output:
DS : Interface SPDIF (TEAC CD-2000)
Crossfading: NO

20:32:43 : Test started.
20:32:52 : 00/01
20:33:03 : 00/02
20:33:12 : 01/03
20:33:25 : 02/04
20:33:29 : 03/05
20:33:40 : 03/06
20:33:50 : 03/07
20:33:54 : 03/08
20:33:57 : 04/09
20:33:59 : 05/10
20:34:00 : 05/11
20:34:03 : 05/12
20:34:05 : 06/13
20:34:07 : 06/14
20:34:09 : 07/15
20:34:11 : 07/16
20:34:11 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 7/16
Probability that you were guessing: 77.3%

-- signature --
e008989c3701a9d712cd091928f2c4d54b9ce19f


65 kbps vs 170 kbps with Steely Dan Black Cow (not really my cup of tea). - 100%

It was harder than I thought, I had to really focus on certain things like drum. I'll try again not so late with different SPL. I guess with headphone it would be easier, but I only have cheap one. Without ABXing I tried to compare 170 kbps vs FLAC and I was able to hear a difference. I'll keep practicing and lower the difficulty for my next attempts.

Quote:
foo_abx 2.0.4 report
foobar2000 v1.3.16
2017-09-19 20:56:52

File A: Black Cow 170.mp3
SHA1: 6fc4bb19578d6cfbc94ed6727e4ce7e63c61eb21
File B: Black Cow .65mp3.mp3
SHA1: 783b8a7b1b2dd70170059f49dfa7d5ba86aa9d42

Output:
DS : Interface SPDIF (TEAC CD-2000)
Crossfading: NO

20:56:52 : Test started.
20:57:33 : 01/01
20:58:11 : 02/02
20:58:51 : 03/03
20:59:22 : 04/04
21:00:07 : 05/05
21:00:51 : 06/06
21:01:22 : 07/07
21:05:15 : 08/08
21:06:51 : 09/09
21:07:21 : 10/10
21:07:38 : 11/11
21:08:08 : 12/12
21:08:36 : 13/13
21:08:56 : 14/14
21:09:26 : 15/15
21:09:38 : 16/16
21:09:38 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 16/16
Probability that you were guessing: 0.0%

-- signature --
d763a89980d105983a78c750b185a4f894f48f91


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:39 am 
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:45 am 
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jerr2501 wrote:
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Funny pick :lol: , but I think science has discovered more than what ordinary people like me knows. I really doubt there's so much to discover. Yes people are experiencing different things, but what happen in our brain and ear, as well as thing about soundwave, etc. have been studied and well understand now.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:49 am 
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Location: Toronto, ON, CA
I used to think that too.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:56 am 
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I mean deaf people can ear back again with coachella implant.

2001 news
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/artic ... -time.html

First implant 1961
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochlear_implant


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:07 pm 
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Sure but would they notice a guitarists image shift in the soundstage when I change a cable in my system?


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:18 pm 
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I'm not a scientist, but I would say they won't be able to explain the subjectivity of human perception, but they'll certainly be able to explain what's causing a difference.

But don't forget scientists usually works on thing that will make whole science advance. Anyway, I'm no scientist so I won't comment anymore about this and let people who has the knowledge do.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:57 am 
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Useful links updated :

Dither : http://www.sereneaudio.com/blog/what-do ... sound-like
HydrogenAudio : Upload Forum https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/board,35.0.html
You'll have to search there's a lot of informations


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:41 am 
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I can see maybe doing this if you are charging big dollars for things like cables (you need to justify the expense somehow, and saying it was extensive R&D/listening tests are as good a justification as any I suppose)...but as a music listener, would I really want to subject myself to this amount of work? I guess there's enjoyment to be found in the process, etc...but I'd rather say f*ck it and just turn on a radio before going to these lengths :)
B


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:47 am 
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In fact it's not that long. You can install everything in 5 minutes and starts a comparison.

The first time I've read an audio forum I didn't what clipping or compression was (wondering how it was supposed to sound too)

Same thing goes for noise what is really 50db vs 80db?? Can it be true that someone can hear it?

We all enjoy our hobby differently, but 5 minutes is not complicated and the knowledge I acquired is very valuable for me.

-- 22 Sep 2017 15:50 --

I was also wondering why would I pay or searched for high rez files if I can't even hear a difference? I know people like to pay for things that brings nothing to them, but that's not my case :)

-- 22 Sep 2017 15:57 --

What's interesting with the TN-2 is that it crossover at 650hz vs 800hz for tn-4.

The TD-4002 is a good compression driver I would prefer to get it down to 600hz.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:22 am 
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There are many reasons that people don't ABX.

A big one is fear:

If people don't ABX, then their belief that they have golden ears won't be compromised. As if their lack of superhuman hearing would cause their love of audio to vanish!

It's the same fear that drives not going to the doctor when you find a lump. Because, your health won't be compromised if you don't know.

Basically, some people don't want to know or accept their limits.

I mean really? If you play a sport and know you are not the best in the world at it, does that mean you should stop?


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