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Logic behind tube vs regular mic sound difference?
Old 12th April 2021 | Show parent
  #241
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IanBSC's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Revealer ➡️
Tubes create extra harmonics in the audio signal which solid state transistors don't and they also distort the audio wave pleasantly and in a musical way when pushed.
I'm admittedly not an expert here, but I have used numerous SS devices with very high harmonic distortion and tube devices with much lower distortion. As I understand it, the actual difference, where bipolar transistors are concerned, is that tubes tend to generate even harmonics when they distort while the transistors lean towards odd. But MOSFETs can have a harmonic profile more like tubes.
Old 12th April 2021 | Show parent
  #242
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by IanBSC ➡️
I'm admittedly not an expert here, but I have used numerous SS devices with very high harmonic distortion and tube devices with much lower distortion. As I understand it, the actual difference, where bipolar transistors are concerned, is that tubes tend to generate even harmonics when they distort while the transistors lean towards odd. But MOSFETs can have a harmonic profile more like tubes.
It's not tube versus transistors, for even/odd harmonics. It's the circuit topology. Tube amplification tends to be single-sided (such as class A) more often than transistor. Even/odd harmonics just depend on the symmetry of clipping/saturation. (Consider that clipping a sine wave on positive and negative peaks tends it towards a square wave—which is made of odd harmonics.)
Old 12th April 2021 | Show parent
  #243
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by earlevel ➡️
It's not tube versus transistors, for even/odd harmonics. It's the circuit topology. Tube amplification tends to be single-sided (such as class A) more often than transistor. Even/odd harmonics just depend on the symmetry of clipping/saturation. (Consider that clipping a sine wave on positive and negative peaks tends it towards a square wave—which is made of odd harmonics.)
Interesting.
Old 12th April 2021
  #244
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ulysses's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kraku ➡️
Do tubes in mics actually color the sound at all?

Take a look at the attached pictures which show the signal curve of a tube and a transistor. They look awfully lot the same.
<snip>
I compare the results: what do I hear? Will there be any kind of perceivable difference in there at all?

Judging by the graphs there shouldn't be, unless I drive the signal through a tube distortion box?
I read through dozens of posts thoughtfully discussing test methodology and circuit topology, sprinkled in among 8 pages of asinine potshots by people who think art is the the opposite science. Not a single person pointed out the issue at the top here so I guess I will:

The two curves you're looking at are not depicting similar performance, nor are they attempting to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kraku ➡️
Here's a datasheet for a tube. It doesn't show any kind of graph for frequency based changes in the signal. In other words, they probably don't exist?
There are a great many very real operational factors and anomalies not described in the data sheets for vacuum tubes and transistors. The absence of a frequency response graph does not, as you suggest, indicate an absence of frequency response variation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kraku ➡️
I take a tube mic.
I screw it in one place so it won't move at all.
I play a digitally reproducible test signal into it and record it.
Then I take out the tube and replace it with transistor/opamp/whatever electronics which does the same thing as the tube electronics did.
I record the exact same test signal again.
I compare the results: what do I hear? Will there be any kind of perceivable difference in there at all?
I think your line of inquiry is worthwhile, and like Jaddie I would encourage you to try it. But because the microphone capsule and its mechanical mounting details, wind screen, etc are a variable you wish to eliminate, why not do exactly that? You can eliminate microphone placement and source repetition as variables by replacing the entire capsule and shell with a very high impedance (10GΩ) signal source. This is not an extremely easy task, but it's very doable and is of course done routinely in laboratory environments. Replacing the capsule with an electronic analog will allow you to compare the tube and transistor amplifiers independently, performing real-time ABX testing or producing audio files for further analysis.
Old 12th April 2021
  #245
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toledo3's Avatar
 
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This isn’t really a gear thread, it is purely “newb production zone” fodder.
Old 12th April 2021 | Show parent
  #246
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jaddie's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by earlevel ➡️
It's not tube versus transistors, for even/odd harmonics. It's the circuit topology. Tube amplification tends to be single-sided (such as class A) more often than transistor. Even/odd harmonics just depend on the symmetry of clipping/saturation. (Consider that clipping a sine wave on positive and negative peaks tends it towards a square wave—which is made of odd harmonics.)
Yes, exactly. And that symmetry is a function of the tubes curve and bias point.

Also, an FET or Bipolar transistor can operate in Class A too, with similar concerns. Just as with tubes, the specific device choice is very important for Class A operation.
Old 12th April 2021 | Show parent
  #247
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ulysses's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by earlevel ➡️
It's not tube versus transistors, for even/odd harmonics. It's the circuit topology. Tube amplification tends to be single-sided (such as class A) more often than transistor. Even/odd harmonics just depend on the symmetry of clipping/saturation. (Consider that clipping a sine wave on positive and negative peaks tends it towards a square wave—which is made of odd harmonics.)
You're right that it's not tubes vs transistors that determines the prevalence of odd and even harmonics. The specific phenomenon you're talking about is that push-pull circuits, when they're pushing and pulling symmetrically, actually cancel out even-order harmonics. That has the capacity to reduce overall distortion, but what's left is the more audible and less pleasing odd-order harmonics. Of course feedback can be applied in either case to reduce distortion further, even to the point of vanishing audible distinction if so desired. Or not, in the case of guitar amps.

However, both single-ended and push-pull circuits are commonly implemented with both tubes and transistors. The Fender Champ has a single 6V6 power tube and is single-ended throughout, but almost every other classic tube guitar amp that springs to mind (Twin, Deluxe, Bassman, Princeton, Vox AC30, most Marshalls, Ampegs, etc) use push-pull pairs of output tubes. In the studio, there's a ton of solid state gear using push-pull amplifiers either in IC op amps or API-style discrete op amps; but one of the most ubiquitously cloned circuits anywhere is the Neve BA-283 amplifier which is entirely single-ended.
(And 'class A' only tells us that each amplifying devices is conducting for the entirety of the waveform cycle, which is a necessity in analog single-ended amplifiers but optional in push-pull circuits - an entirely separate discussion.)
Old 12th April 2021 | Show parent
  #248
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jaddie's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by IanBSC ➡️
I'm admittedly not an expert here, but I have used numerous SS devices with very high harmonic distortion and tube devices with much lower distortion. As I understand it, the actual difference, where bipolar transistors are concerned, is that tubes tend to generate even harmonics when they distort while the transistors lean towards odd. But MOSFETs can have a harmonic profile more like tubes.
It's still about the actual application and topology. Picking the right device for the application and the circuit it's in.

Remember, an active gain device doesn't do anything by itself, and everything done around it changes how it works. If you look at tube data, look at how it changes operation based on varying plate voltage, just as one easy to see example. Transistor curve families change with Vcc changes also. But don't go comparing curves, the are apples vs wingnuts.
Old 12th April 2021 | Show parent
  #249
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I don't understand why only 2 people have brought up the incredible benefit of how a well designed tube mic applies a gentle compression when a vocalist is really pushing the mic. I've heard some mics do this and it's pretty amazing IMO. It just sort of grabs that note and gently holds it there.
Old 12th April 2021 | Show parent
  #250
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaddie ➡️

4. Swapping tubes doesn't prove how much of a factor of the total sound the tube contributes...
I never said it does. All I said was, that if I swap out several tubes in a mic, i can hear some of the differences between the tubes...all the other factors remain the same in the mic.

You seem to be saying that the only way to know those differences is to do scientific testing.
OK...I agree that if you want to know why they are different, and if you want to measure those differences...yes, you need to do testing...
...but you don't necessarily need to do testing just to hear some differences.

You also appear to be implying that anything you can hear...is always clouded by perception, and without testing, it proves nothing.
We use our ears every day to identify differences in sounds and to make decisions about them...without doing testing.

AFA as what factors go into making a tube mic sound the way it does...I never suggested it was just the tubes.
I only replied to the comment about how to try out different tubes and make fast accurate comparisons between them by using the same source, and recording it after each tube swap into a DAW.
Old 12th April 2021 | Show parent
  #251
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DougS's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Does he tell the truth or is he just a marketing guy - here to tell you how white your shirts can be?

IMO - He ain't no marketing guy.

The applicable information starts at the 55 second mark & continues to the 9:12 mark:
Old 12th April 2021 | Show parent
  #252
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DougS ➡️
Does he tell the truth or is he just a marketing guy - here to tell you how white your shirts can be?

IMO - He ain't no marketing guy.

The applicable information starts at the 55 second mark & continues to the 9:12 mark:
God, where'd you find this gem? I love how he initially feels saddled with them heavy old tube preamps and couldn't wait to get his first SS gear. Now those antique RCAs might go for a pretty penny!

And no, Doug is the real deal, not a carnival barker.
Old 12th April 2021 | Show parent
  #253
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🎧 5 years
Of course, one problem with comparing tube gear and solid state gear is the rarity of the same thing being design both ways. So, a lot of variable, usually comparing different manufacturers and designs, perhaps not even shooting for the same sound.

I bought a new mic, recently, that comes in a tube version and a fet version—Soyuz 017. My original thought was tube, because I don't have a tube mic, but ultimately settled on the fet version. I didn't audition them head to head, but the manufacturer supplies numerous samples of vocals and instruments being recorded under the same conditions. And there are a lot of opinions to be found on GS forums between the two.

So, I'll mention a few subjective things, and of course this is for a particular mic and can't be generalized to other gear. But it's interesting to consider possible differences, in two mics that have the same frequency response characteristics.

Some prefer the FET. At least one (and I think two) said they prefer the 017 FET on vocals, the 017 tube on piano. One thing that Soyuz makes clear is that the FET has a faster transient response, and clearly there are situations that would call for either the FET or tub, based on that factor alone. (Do you want to smooth and thicken, or cut through? for instance.) With the impression I got from the pro-sound salesman, who own the FET himself, and the Soyuz rep, I had the feeling the tube might be worth trying if I were an artist that was vocal dominant (like, acoustic guitar and vocals), but that the FET might cut through a dense mix better. And as someone noted, if anything I'd expect a little more characteristic of mild compression when pushed, with the tube.

Anyway, the interpretation is subjective, I mainly wanted to bring up that we rarely have nearly-identical gear available both ways. (In this case, the tube version is double the price of the FET—whew. If it were clear the tube version was superior all around, I would ave done with it. But with the FET, it not only seems to be the best fit, I don't have to deal with an external power supply, nor the minutes of warm-up...and saving $2k doesn't make that choice harder.)

Lastly, straying from mics a little but continuing with the "tubes sound great, but aren't necessarily better than solid state over all" theme, I'll note that although pro tube mic preamps continue to be widely available, it's the solid state pre's that have continued to dominate. That says a lot of the competence of solid state and small signals, in a field that can easily afford either. And even on different designs, again we have some with faster transient response than others, which again determines their best-fit use cases (you may want to mush/fatten the drums or guitar, or you may want pristine, sparkling transients).
Old 12th April 2021 | Show parent
  #254
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jaddie's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by miroslav ➡️
I never said it does.
Right. I wasn't referring only to you. Post #200 contains that questionable statement.
Quote:
Originally Posted by miroslav ➡️
All I said was, that if I swap out several tubes in a mic, i can hear some of the differences between the tubes...all the other factors remain the same in the mic.
Fine, I don't disagree with the possibility, I object to the test method as being incapable of generating reliable data.
Quote:
Originally Posted by miroslav ➡️
You seem to be saying that the only way to know those differences is to do scientific testing.
OK...I agree that if you want to know why they are different, and if you want to measure those differences...yes, you need to do testing...
...but you don't necessarily need to do testing just to hear some differences.
Sighted testing is biased, perception includes bias, just listening is not reliable when differences are small. And useless if you want to quantify anything.
Quote:
Originally Posted by miroslav ➡️
You also appear to be implying that anything you can hear...is always clouded by perception, and without testing, it proves nothing.
No, not at all. You can set up testing protocols where external bias is controlled. Much subjective, sighted, biased testing results in data that is too full of biases to be reliable, but then it's presented by the tester as "absolute", or "I know what I hear!!!!", which is not the case.
Quote:
Originally Posted by miroslav ➡️
We use our ears every day to identify differences in sounds and to make decisions about them...without doing testing.
Completely irrelevant.
Quote:
Originally Posted by miroslav ➡️
AFA as what factors go into making a tube mic sound the way it does...I never suggested it was just the tubes.
Others did. With conviction. There are may reading and commenting, not just you and me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by miroslav ➡️
I only replied to the comment about how to try out different tubes and make fast accurate comparisons between them by using the same source, and recording it after each tube swap into a DAW.
And my comments re: the dependability of those tests stands.
Old 12th April 2021 | Show parent
  #255
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jaddie's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets ➡️
I don't understand why only 2 people have brought up the incredible benefit of how a well designed tube mic applies a gentle compression when a vocalist is really pushing the mic. I've heard some mics do this and it's pretty amazing IMO. It just sort of grabs that note and gently holds it there.
That's because that isn't what this thread is about. We aren't discussing the subjective qualities of tube mics.
Old 12th April 2021 | Show parent
  #256
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jaddie's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougS ➡️
Does he tell the truth or is he just a marketing guy - here to tell you how white your shirts can be?

IMO - He ain't no marketing guy.

The applicable information starts at the 55 second mark & continues to the 9:12 mark:
Interesting, if irrelevant to the thread. He's discussing microphone preamplifier design, and in specific, overload characteristics. Yes, different circuit topologies overload differently. And yes, there have been quite a number of preamp designs where the designer was ignorant of the actual peak voltages that would be applied. So what? Bad design is bad design. And there were tons of bad SS mic preamps and consoles in the late 1960s.

It's sad that he focuses on the characteristics of poorly designed and overloading SS designs as the main point to building an excellent tube preamp.

So...you don't think that's marketing??

If it were a balanced view, comparisons would have been made of the tube preamp and a GOOD SS preamp operating within the same dynamic range. And in that range, the SS pre would not be overloading. It's also easy to take that clean SS preamp and make a simple mod that closely replicates the tube pre's asymmetrical soft clip characteristics.

The video is sales hype for his product without a balanced engineering view at all.

Read the Russ Hamm paper cited. It's clear what he tested, and why the results turned out how they did. It was also published in 1973, when times were still pretty dark for the SS topology. A few things have been learned in the last 47 years.

The thread is about the contribution of the tube to the sound of a tube mic, not about ancient technological deficiencies in the mic preamp, a different device entirely.
Old 13th April 2021
  #257
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64gtoboy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kraku ➡️
Do tubes in mics actually color the sound at all?

Take a look at the attached pictures which show the signal curve of a tube and a transistor. They look awfully lot the same. Unless you start driving the tube/transistor (or opamp) into distortion levels, there should probably be zero difference in the sound. None of the microphones I know of drive signal to such high volumes. That's what guitar distortion pedals are for.

In other words:

I take a tube mic.
I screw it in one place so it won't move at all.
I play a digitally reproducible test signal into it and record it.
Then I take out the tube and replace it with transistor/opamp/whatever electronics which does the same thing as the tube electronics did.
I record the exact same test signal again.
I compare the results: what do I hear? Will there be any kind of perceivable difference in there at all?

Judging by the graphs there shouldn't be, unless I drive the signal through a tube distortion box?
It has been alluded to, but these are not "signal curve" charts . I would be interested to see the slew rate figures of these two devices if you can find them.
Old 13th April 2021 | Show parent
  #258
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TurboJets's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaddie ➡️
That's because that isn't what this thread is about. We aren't discussing the subjective qualities of tube mics.
What is "subjective" about a tube mic providing natural tube compression to a signal? That would actually be Objective.
Old 13th April 2021 | Show parent
  #259
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jaddie's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets ➡️
What is "subjective" about a tube mic providing natural tube compression to a signal? That would actually be Objective.
Subjective: opinion, based on personal experience, emotion, etc., but not quantified.

Objective: measured without human opinion involved, generally on some sort of scale with a calibration reference.
Old 13th April 2021 | Show parent
  #260
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TurboJets's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaddie ➡️
Subjective: opinion, based on personal experience, emotion, etc., but not quantified.

Objective: measured without human opinion involved, generally on some sort of scale with a calibration reference.
Genius. Doesn't sound like you have much experience with good tube mics. I get it.
Old 13th April 2021 | Show parent
  #261
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jaddie's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets ➡️
Genius. Doesn't sound like you have much experience with good tube mics. I get it.
Odd conclusions you draw here. I've made no statements about my use of, or the subjective quality of tube mics at all. I've given no indication of my opinion of the sound qualities of any microphone technologies.

This is a discussion of how much the tube plays a role in the total sound of a tube mic. That's it. That is all.
Old 13th April 2021 | Show parent
  #262
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Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
This thread was done after the first ten or so posts, the rest of it just attracts trolls with an agenda - they bait, insult and drive away people who are trying to help.

GS needs to do a better job with moderation - I know it’s a thankless volunteer post, but in the long run, it’s worse for everyone if a thread is left to rot as troll bait.

Last edited by Sharp11; 13th April 2021 at 06:32 AM..
Old 13th April 2021 | Show parent
  #263
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Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets ➡️
Genius. Doesn't sound like you have much experience with good tube mics. I get it.
Congrats, you employed the ad hominem, which is a sure fire admission you’ve lost the argument.

Definition of ad hominem (Entry 1 of 2)
1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
an ad hominem argument
2 : marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made

AKA - a personal attack.
Old 13th April 2021 | Show parent
  #264
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Eric Dahlberg's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
Of course bad examples of tubes will make a noticeable difference, so would a broken capsule, or poor power supply.
Those things aren't the subject. It's common practice in the microchip test industry to test for extremes. Applied here, if the differences are small enough that they're difficult to measure, increase the variables.

In any case, I have now deleted my posts. You win.
Old 13th April 2021 | Show parent
  #265
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaddie ➡️
Fine, I don't disagree with the possibility, I object to the test method as being incapable of generating reliable data.

Sighted testing is biased, perception includes bias, just listening is not reliable when differences are small. And useless if you want to quantify anything.

No, not at all. You can set up testing protocols where external bias is controlled. Much subjective, sighted, biased testing results in data that is too full of biases to be reliable, but then it's presented by the tester as "absolute", or "I know what I hear!!!!", which is not the case.
I agree 100% what you're saying here. I believe people are unaware of how much expectation of the results skews how people actually perceive what they hear. Also the tests have to be made really carefully for the results to be reliable in any way.

I'd like to share couple of personal stories where and how I've noticed this happening. I'm not being ashamed to share these stories. I hope they are educational for those who think their senses are accurate and can't be fooled.

I quote my own story from an old thread on Gearslutz:

Quote:
Originally Posted by kraku
I’ll tell three personal stories about doing analytic comparisons of different things:


Story number 1:
When I bought my very first hardware compressor, I was excited and tested the thing with a pre recorded drum loop. I tweaked the knobs and could hear a clear difference with how the sound changed. Then I recorded the processed signal and did instantaneous switching between the original and the compressed signal and noticed they were 100% identical! I could not tell any difference between the audio clips when I switched between the two on the fly (0ms of silence when changing between the audio clips). I looked at the compressor and noticed it had been on By Pass mode the whole time while I was tweaking the knobs. So the compressor had not done anything to the audio during that session.


Story number 2:
I was (again) processing drum loops to fit a song I was working on. I had two versions of the loop. The original one and one with some distortion on it. When I listened to the distorted one there was a clear difference with how the high frequencies had more sizzle to them. Then for some reason I decided to put the loops in my DAW on the same track so the processed one would play right after the unprocessed one (no audible gab between the loops). I instantly noticed that it was REALLY hard to observe a difference between the two audio clips. I.e. when the unprocessed clip switched to the distorted one, the difference was so subtle that you really had to listen super carefully to even notice anything. When I had listened to those clips separately, the few seconds of silence between them had already clouded my judgment almost completely. Imagine what would happen if there were 10 second, one minute, an hour or even couple of days between auditioning those audio clips.

I ended up adding a lot more distortion to the drum loop so there would be some clearly observable difference.

When there is more than 1 second audio gap between two audio sources you’re comparing, your mind affects the judgement tremendously. I’ve noticed this countless of times when I try to switch between processed and unprocessed audio recording to find out how some more subtle audio processor/effect affect the signal.


Story number 3:
During my time working in the video game industry I constantly (more than 20 times per year) ran into the following phenomenon or some variation of it:
We were testing a new version of some gameplay feature. The coders had tweaked the feature to match the request of the game designer. Then the designer would test the feature and say “Now it’s perfect! Much better!”. Later we would find out that the designer had tested the feature with the same old version of the game instead of the new build of the executable file. Still they felt a clear difference between the “two versions” of the game. Other times some feature would make the gameplay more difficult as the player progresses in the game. Test people would notice a clear difficultly curve in the game only to later find out that the coder had forgotten to activate that feature.

This is a commonly known phenomenon in video game industry and also in all kinds of engineering industries. This is why they constantly try to figure out ways around this phenomenon. It’s a daily thing. In pure engineering you often can just measure things instead of relying on your senses. In video game industry this isn’t usually possible and extensive testing and statistical analysis is required to figure out how tweaks affect the actual gameplay.


What I’ve learned from all this:
Expectations modify how - and more importantly WHAT - people observe in a situation. If you expect the high frequencies to be more defined and clear after being processed with X, you direct a lot of your sensory abilities and brain power to observe and analyse that exact area of the audio instead of observing it the same way as before. Because of this you notice much smaller details in that area and thus decide that “I haven’t noticed those things there before, so now the signal is different and more defined.” Even though the signal might have been identical. It’s REALLY HARD to get around this phenomenon and this phenomenon is very powerful. No-one is immune to it. If someone is immune to it, he/she is probably a robot.

So in the audio interface case, the Gearslutz test I mentioned earlier tells the whole story:
People could instantaneously switch between the original audio file and the 10x loopback recorded one on audio interface X. There would be no audio gap between the auditioned test recordings when comparing the results between two audio interfaces. If the low-end and high end versions sounded identical, they probably were identical. There was no time gap between the audio tests which would cloud peoples judgment. Notice that there's still some expectation of results here so that can always skew what people observe as was pointed out in my story number 1.

Here's a concrete example how easy it is to fool human senses. It's not exactly the same with auditory system, but you get the approximate idea by watching the video in the below link:

https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/14/s...t-changed.html
Old 13th April 2021
  #266
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andychamp's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I doubt this thread will help anyone make better, more engaging music.
Old 13th April 2021
  #267
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No - but it might make them more knowledgeable about the gear they use to make, dispel a number of myths and preconceptions, and maybe enhance their critical reading and thinking ...
Old 13th April 2021 | Show parent
  #268
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The Revealer's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougS ➡️
The applicable information starts at the 55 second mark & continues to the 9:12 mark:
This guy basically says the same thing I said and yet according to some on this thread it is 'tube mythology'.

Bewildering.
Old 13th April 2021 | Show parent
  #269
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Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Revealer ➡️
This guy basically says the same thing I said and yet according to some on this thread it is 'tube mythology'.

Bewildering.
The difference is the guy in the video knows he’s being misleading, you didn’t.
Old 13th April 2021 | Show parent
  #270
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The Revealer's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
The difference is the guy in the video knows he’s being misleading, you didn’t.

I'm feeling confused. Is the content of that video incorrect?
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