Headphones / Speakers

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Headphones / Speakers

Postby NativeAngels » 15 May 2019 09:39

When you create your registrations do you use headphones/ speakers ?
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Re: Headphones / Speakers

Postby Rev Tony Newnham » 16 May 2019 12:04

Hi

There are differences in how sound is perceived on headphones & speakers. It's generally better to use speakers if that's how the registrations will be heard when in use. If you use headphones, check the balance & stereo positioning etc. on speakers. Headphones enable you to hear small details more clearly, and can give a false impression of the final sound.

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Re: Headphones / Speakers

Postby Hugh-AR » 16 May 2019 17:36

Tony,

That is a very valid point you have made there. I wear headphones all the time, both for when I am playing my AR and when listening to CDs. My music room is a conservatory, with a stone floor and glass walls and ceiling .. so sound from speakers is very harsh and not pleasant to listen to.

Music is something you 'listen to' so what you hear is very important. When doing 'stereo' positioning using loudspeakers one could have eg. all the piano coming from the left speaker; and all the double bass coming from the right .. if that is where these instruments are positioned on the stage in front of you. Then when you are listening to the music from speakers, both ears hear the piano, and would position that piano to the left; and both ears would hear the double bass, and that would be positioned to the right.

But imagine that stereo setup listening through headphones. All the piano in the left ear and none in the right; all the double bass in the right ear, and none in the left. This would not help the brain determine where the sound was coming from, and would just drive you scatty! They used to do this in the early days of stereo. Here's an example I have found on YouTube. Just try listening to it with headphones on and it'll drive you scatty!



All the singing is in the left ear; and all the guitar playing is in the right ear. Drives me scatty! I'm sure this will sound fine if played through speakers.

So I would say that when setting up your 'Pans' (ie. sound to the left or to the right) do it with headphones on .. and check how it sounds afterwards from speakers. Luckily (by good management?) the AR does not allow me to do any of this 100% to the right or left. Even when I have the 'Pan' all the way to the left, or all the way to the right there is always some of the sound in the other ear .. so both ears get to hear all the sounds.
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Re: Headphones / Speakers

Postby Rev Tony Newnham » 18 May 2019 07:21

Hi

With experience/practice you can do a reasonable job of recording on headphones for replay on speakers. I used to record at Christian conferences, and since I was mainly recording the talks (for sale on cassette, and more recently CD) I was usually situated next to the sound desk using headphones.

Things are slightly more complicated these days because so much music is listened to via the ubiquitous headphones connected to an iPod or similar device - often with 2 listeners with an ear bud each, so they're only hearing half the stereo mix! This raises the question for the producer of whether to balance primarily for speakers or primarily for ear buds.

Aside from stereo mics, it's usually better to restrict pans between about 3 o'clock & 9 o'clock on the pan control - panning mono sources/individual instruments/sounds hard left or hard right rarely works - and definitely not in the sharing ear-bud scenario I mentioned above. The joys of the mix engineer!

Another issue is sound reinforcement in large venues, where proper stereo is impossible with a wide spread audience (quasi stereo effects are possible but difficult) so despite the control desk being stereo, and there usually being left & right arrays of main speakers, the system runs in glorious mono! Stereo keyboards can be a problem in this scenario, as some of the effects (phasing and so on) rely on the 2 stereo channels, so you either just take a mono output and realise that such effects will sound different, take a stereo output and it will often be treated as a mono source on the desk, so effects that rely on 2 channels often disappear(!), or pan the 2 channels just a little way apart, which is a good compromise.

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Re: Headphones / Speakers

Postby Hugh-AR » 18 May 2019 10:45

Reminded me of a friend I was talking to on the phone. He said his wife played a 'digital piano', so I asked him if the piano had any 'stereo' (or 'pan') effect when she was sat playing it.

"Don't know," he said. "Usually when I listen to her I am in the kitchen."

Hugh
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Re: Headphones / Speakers

Postby Hugh-AR » 18 May 2019 23:20

Another consideration when setting up your Registrations. Are you setting up your registrations just for you to play for your own enjoyment? Or is it your intention to play 'live' to others; or make a recording for others to listen to (like maybe on this Forum)? And do you wear hearing aids?

Well, I do, and my hearing aids 'up' the volumes of the higher frequencies as this is where my hearing is deficient. The lower frequencies I hear fine, and they are not compensated for. If I were to set up my Registrations without wearing my hearing aids I would no doubt 'boost' the higher frequencies on the organ itself, so the sound was right for me (without my hearing aids). In this situation, anyone with normal hearing listening to me playing would get a blast of higher frequencies and the music would sound harsh and 'raspish'.

My hearing aids compensate for my hearing loss, and with them in I hear things as a normal person would. A case in point. When in the park with my hearing aids in I can hear all the birds twittering. Without them, I can't. So when I set my Registrations up I make sure I have my hearing aids in .. even when wearing headphones. I just make sure the earpieces of the headphones are covering the microphones on the hearing aids. And it goes without saying that I couldn't use an 'ear bud' with an iPad or Tablet as Tony describes above. Then anything I set up, if it sounds right to me with my hearing aids in, I reckon it will sound right to somebody with normal hearing.

I have been to a few evenings at our organ club where I just haven't been able to listen to the 'professional' playing with any enjoyment, as his/her playing sounds gritty and 'raspish'. Take my hearing aids out and the music sounds fine. I just wonder sometimes if the person playing has set their organ up to their liking, and has 'upped' the higher frequencies to suit their hearing. Maybe if they wore hearing aids they would set everything up differently ... ??

I suppose I should ask the question, "Are any of us 'normal'"?

Hugh
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Re: Headphones / Speakers

Postby Rev Tony Newnham » 19 May 2019 07:05

Hi

Relevant comments from Hugh there - just a couple of weeks ago, Sue & I went to a concert of theatre organ & electronic keyboards (no names, no pack drill!). The sound of the digital keyboards was a little on the loud side, but I also suspect the player has lost his high-frequency hearing as it was literally unbearably harsh - we both quickly got headaches from listening to it. We left at half-time and went and had Sunday lunch in a pub! (There were other aspects of the presentation that I found less than desirable too).

It's only the 2nd time I've walked out of a concert - the first was a few years when we were on holiday, and a church in Morecambe had a board outside advertising a concert on the Saturday afternoon, so we decided to go. The organist spent about 15 minutes rambling on about how much time he'd put in to practicing for the event over the previous 2 years. It worked out at an average to 15 minutes a day max. - and the playing sounded like it. We left after the first piece, it was that bad.

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