Author Topic: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing  (Read 1063 times)

slope

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I'm using a Topping MX3 DAC amplifier wired to a pair of JBL Control One speakers as external audio for an Apple iMac + an iPad.

https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/integrated-amplifier/topping-mx3-class-d-amplifier-tda7498-bt-usb-spdif-2x40w-4-ohm-black-p-12277.html

https://www.richersounds.com/jbl-speakers-per-pair.html

EDIT: The amplifier had treble and bass controls, but I can't get enough "clarity" for spoken dialogue*

This is because I have compromised hearing at high frequencies (borne out after a hearing test a few years ago) + constant high end hiss tinnitus

Would introducing a graphic equaliser help - in that I could set the optimum frequency patterns for my duff ears (rather like the useful equaliser built in to Apple's iTunes application). Any recommendations or suggestions would be gratefully received.

*I'm certain this stemmed from several years as a freelance live performance sound engineer way back on the 1970s (Gary Glitter and The Ramones type noisy sods) followed by several years as a furniture maker without ear defenders, using loud planer thicknessers and large Wadkin table saws ::-)

PaulF

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2020, 06:19:21 am »
As you’re using iTunes as a source can you not use the EQ on the iPad? That should at least allow you to test the concept.

Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2020, 08:01:25 am »
does not increasing your exposure to (potentially high levels) of sound pressure at the compromised frequencies just increase the chances of further damage?   

cheers

nicknack

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2020, 08:37:12 am »
does not increasing your exposure to (potentially high levels) of sound pressure at the compromised frequencies just increase the chances of further damage?   

cheers
One hopes not, since that's how hearing aids work.
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slope

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2020, 10:23:07 am »
The main difficulties I encounter are hearing/distinguishing dialogue not music, hence thinking I could boost high frequency whilst adjusting the mid frequencies to 'unmuddy' the sound. I have a "feeling" there is a limited block of mid frequencies that are the main issue?

So it's not at all about high volume, it's low volume spoken clarity. Re the iTunes graphic equaliser, I can't see a way to channel my audio sources - streamed film/tv etc through the app.

As for the amp and speakers, I'm happy with music through them and they do seem ok at close range (ie placed either side of the iMac and iPad). These are the second pair of JBL Control Ones I've had. The first pair I bought in 1995 and have always very pleased with their 'performance'. I still have a matching JBL Control SB-1 subwoofer, but as I don't listen to music that often I don't bother with it.

Perhaps it's time for hearing aids? Although the NHS audiologist who tested me a few years ago suggested such devices might exacerbate my high end hissy tinnitus, which appears to be getting very slowly louder as time goes by.


Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2020, 10:50:48 am »
In music the muddy sounds are usually in the 200-500Hz range. As an sound engineer you already know that, Slope.

If you got a tone generator app (some are free; the one I have cost 99¢) you could find which frequency (or frequencies) you hear clearest, usually around 3-4kHz.

Audacity is free and has a 31-band graphic EQ. You could experiment with frequencies to find which ones when cut help clarify the sound.

Auntie Helen

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2020, 12:31:22 pm »
I understand that with the new iOS the Apple AirPods Pro will allow you to do some kind of hearing loss equalisation.
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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2020, 01:08:12 am »
The main difficulties I encounter are hearing/distinguishing dialogue not music, hence thinking I could boost high frequency whilst adjusting the mid frequencies to 'unmuddy' the sound. I have a "feeling" there is a limited block of mid frequencies that are the main issue?

So it's not at all about high volume, it's low volume spoken clarity. Re the iTunes graphic equaliser, I can't see a way to channel my audio sources - streamed film/tv etc through the app.

…. These are the second pair of JBL Control Ones I've had.....

FWIW I have hearing that (somehow) isn't terminally buggered and what I've noticed is that different loudspeakers differ enormously in the clarity of vocals in particular, even though they might appear to have a similar frequency response to other loudspeakers, and don't sound that different to one another when listening to (vocal-less) music which contains a similar mix of frequencies.

The conclusion I have come to is that the most likely reason for this is not that the loudspeakers are incapable of producing the appropriate frequencies, it is more that when they do so, the phase relationship between the different frequencies which comprise a given sound is not always accurately reproduced.   So for example certain sounds (eg amongst other things I think some are called 'plosives'...) include a mix of frequencies, are key to comprehension of language and such sounds also contain an implicit phase relationship between the different frequencies, because of how they are made.

So anyway IME the poorest rendition of vocals is often in two-way speakers; that you use the expression 'unmuddy' tells me that the problem may well be similar to the one I have observed. If so simply making certain frequencies louder may not help that much; in effect it is still rubbish,  just louder rubbish; this is no substitute for clarity!

I'd suggest that you try a few different loudspeakers; to my surprise the clearest vocal rendition is often most easily obtained by using a single driver unit.  Often these have single voice coil which includes an extra  (passive) cone in the centre of the diaphragm which is simply there to radiate the higher frequencies; I think that because it is part of the same structure as the rest of the diaphragm, it is much less likely that the complex vocal sounds will end up with bad phase distortion; in any event test data shows a flat response in the frequency range of interest but this is often out of all proportion with the vocal clarity.    If you can't find any speakers that you like the sound of to buy, I'd suggest you could probably make something easily enough by using simple car loudspeaker units (which are often of this layout) in a simple enclosure.  For example Pioneer TS-G1710F, mounted in a suitable enclosure, ought to provide good vocal clarity; to be clear I have not used this exact model myself  but I have used its predecessors, which are of similar construction/specification.

When I was younger I could hear high frequencies very clearly indeed but these days I am happy enough listening to music through a system which doesn't have much response above about 12-14khz. It has been a while since I had it checked but I suspect that at higher frequencies than this I'm just not hearing them as well any more; this is commonly the case with age; few retain perfect hearing as the years go by.

However provided a suitable speaker system is used, even with compromised hearing you can give yourself the best chance of hearing vocals clearly, and a lot of two-way speakers are noticeably lacking in this respect.

hth

cheers

Jaded

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2020, 07:26:57 am »
does not increasing your exposure to (potentially high levels) of sound pressure at the compromised frequencies just increase the chances of further damage?   

cheers
One hopes not, since that's how hearing aids work.

Well, quite....
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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2020, 07:50:43 am »
does not increasing your exposure to (potentially high levels) of sound pressure at the compromised frequencies just increase the chances of further damage?   

cheers
One hopes not, since that's how hearing aids work.

Well, quite....

OP has described how the damage occurred (in which case it would be indeed be a worry) and subsequently explained the present requirements. 

FWIW it has been my observation that in a proportion of hearing aid users, they have it turned up such that it might well be helping to cause further damage.  As I explained above if the real problem is in part a lack of clarity in the source, it might be possible to improve that, and it would surely be preferable to do so.

cheers

Jaded

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2020, 07:55:34 am »
To hear a frequency you don’t normally hear, it has to be louder. It’s physics.

Maybe some £1,500 speaker cables will help?
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2020, 08:02:19 am »
To hear a frequency you don’t normally hear, it has to be louder. It’s physics.

if the sound is not reproduced accurately, it won't matter how loud it is, it will still be distorted.  Also physics.


nicknack

  • Hornblower
Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2020, 10:44:47 am »
To hear a frequency you don’t normally hear, it has to be louder. It’s physics.

if the sound is not reproduced accurately, it won't matter how loud it is, it will still be distorted.  Also physics.
That's rather like saying if it's distorted then it's distorted. All sound reproduction systems distort the sound to some degree. If I go for a walk in the countryside I like to hear the birdsong. If I don't use my hearing aids then I miss a lot of it. Putting them in allows me to hear it. It's not perfectly reproduced but at least I can hear it. There are occasions when a bit of distortion is preferable to not hearing anything at all.
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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2020, 11:09:50 am »
Given slope's former occupation, I'm not surprised!

This is, incidentally, why we have ears and not just holes in the sides of our heads.  The odd shape of the human ear evolved to accentuate speech frequencies.
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slope

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2020, 12:54:34 pm »
Thanks everyone for making me think further about this  :)

Auntie Helen's suggestion of iPods reminded me that I already have a pair of unused wired iPods which came with a new iPhone last year. So I've just tried them for the first time, plugged into the iPad and started watching Withnail & I. The last time I watched the film on the iPad with the external Topping MX3 amp and JBL Control One speakers, the vocal audio wasn't very clear amongst all the other sounds of the film.

The difference was remarkable. Clarity was fantastic :thumbsup: I then started watching the film on the iMac through its internal speakers. This again was much much better at projecting dialogue clarity. So the issue seems less to do with my compromised hearing and much to do with the suitability of the external amp and speakers.

I'm not sure whether I can get used to earphones though. So rather than think about adding a graphic equaliser to my set up, I ought to consider a different external audio set up, with films/tv sound in mind, as opposed to music hi fi? Which Brucey alluded to.

Up until a year ago I did use wee JBL "Creatures" satelite speakers with a sub woofer and don't recall there being a problem with them for film/tv stuff. Sadly the flexible foam cone surrounds perished on the speakers, hence being replaced with the current MX3 and Control Ones.

Thanks again folks  :thumbsup:

Kim

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2020, 01:15:26 pm »
does not increasing your exposure to (potentially high levels) of sound pressure at the compromised frequencies just increase the chances of further damage?   

cheers
One hopes not, since that's how hearing aids work.

Well, quite....

Sometimes hearing aids do have to be loud enough to cause damage, and the user does so in the understanding that exacerbating the hearing loss is a reasonable trade-off for having some usable hearing with them for a while.  They might then go on to have a cochlea implant.

We're talking something more serious than the usual age-related mild/moderate sensorineural hearing loss, though.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

slope

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2020, 05:34:11 pm »
Just to add, I've watched today's live ITV4 Le Tour on the iPad with the new experience of Apple wired EarPods and was initially happy with the vocal clarity they provided - but after an hour or so, hated the tinny sounding colourless audio experience. Not to mention disliking 'things' in my ears.

During the adverts started to look at physical speaker alternatives and decided that spacial 'stereo experience' is something that might make these new fangled single speaker "home" things unattractive.

Work in progress

ps my hearing is definitely sub par, confirmed by the 3 years past audiology test  (obviously age + historical noisy experiences, play their significant part) and evidenced on a daily basis struggling to hear softly spoken voices, as in the local village shop owner's case and of course current mask use/being behind a perspex screen also impacts negatively.

pps just to pick up on a point mentioned earlier re graphic eqaulisers and 'unmuddying' sounds, I was thinking more along the lines of reducing certain mid frequencies to enhance clarity, rather than boost them.

Valiant

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2020, 05:40:09 pm »
Try some software EQs and see how that works. If still distorted I'd say take a trip to your local richer sounds or visit a few mates and see if the problem is with the speakers or your hearing.

If you want to a physical unit, then this mini dsp unit is brilliant and gives you a lot more control than just a graphic eq https://www.thomann.de/gb/the_t.racks_dsp_4x4_mini.htm
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slope

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2020, 07:21:32 pm »
Thanks Valiant :thumbsup:

Unfortunately Richer Sounds is further than I'm able to cycle right now (Llandudno and not a place I wish to visit anyway) and I don't have mates to lean on in this regard :-[

Also thanks for the link:

https://www.thomann.de/gb/the_t.racks_dsp_4x4_mini.htm

Could I press you on the software EQ route and how that would be possible to introduce into streaming films/tv on me iMac + iPad and my external audio set up?

The iMac is linked to the Topping MX3 amp via USB and the iPad is linked to it via Bluetooth

Apart from my initial post regarding spoken word clarity on tv/film stuff, I'm still interested in being able to personalise/tweak/graphic equalise my music outupt




Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2020, 08:18:37 pm »
FWIW my AV system has a lot of DSP modes and some of them are pretty clever.  But apart from a some movies (mostly with whizzbang soundtracks) and a few other things (which, ahem,  includes 'the simpsons',   believe it or not) the whole viewing experience isn't very greatly enhanced, and any benefits for music are often accompanied by as many drawbacks.  When I first got the system I had hoped that it would also replace a (theoretically more basic) stereo for music.  Fact is, it didn't; as well as all the DSP bollocks (for which you need a different setting for every other recording, it seems), the AV speakers have the wrong characteristics and are in the wrong positions in the room for really good music reproduction. Fundamentally I suspect that nothing much you can do with the signal via DSP will make a 'bad' signal really 'good' or properly compensate for distortion within the reproduction system.

All this means my old stereo system is still the 'go to' for music, and that sounds completely different with different loudspeakers fitted, and the speakers sound different in different rooms too; the same system drives speakers in several different rooms and no two room setups sound remotely similar even with the same speakers. Although each might be deemed 'good' or 'OK' when heard in isolation, it shows very clearly that the speakers have a primary role in the clarity of reproduction, and that the rest of the room can greatly affect the sound too.

FWIW  the pioneer drive units I mentioned are less than £30, will survive being posted, and will work OK in a sealed box of moderate volume, so are a fairly easy DIY proposition if you can't find something you like and you fancy an experiment.

cheers

Valiant

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #20 on: September 01, 2020, 08:41:59 pm »
Thanks Valiant :thumbsup:

Unfortunately Richer Sounds is further than I'm able to cycle right now (Llandudno and not a place I wish to visit anyway) and I don't have mates to lean on in this regard :-[

Also thanks for the link:

https://www.thomann.de/gb/the_t.racks_dsp_4x4_mini.htm

Could I press you on the software EQ route and how that would be possible to introduce into streaming films/tv on me iMac + iPad and my external audio set up?

The iMac is linked to the Topping MX3 amp via USB and the iPad is linked to it via Bluetooth

Apart from my initial post regarding spoken word clarity on tv/film stuff, I'm still interested in being able to personalise/tweak/graphic equalise my music outupt

This link (https://www.maketecheasier.com/apply-equalizer-macos/) will probably explain easier than I can. For a hardware route the DSP I linked to will let you adjust parametric EQs, be able to high and low pass signals, do limiting etc. Sometimes you find that by reducing or cutting the low end can substantially clear up the mids due to modulation, this is especially true of smaller speakers. The control ones do have a dip around the 800-1khz range and then straight into a little blip around 1.8khz that seems to really irritate me. I've installed 100s of the bastids, and that's my main bug with them, its an install speaker designed for background music. If you can give that with a EQ it does improve them greatly and make them more linear.
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Kim

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2020, 08:44:27 pm »
I should add that one useful feature of groovy funky surround sound systems for videos is they often allow you to alter the balance between the various channels.  Since speech tends to be on the centre channel and background music and effects on the others, that lets you improve the SNR directly without mucking about with equalisation.
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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2020, 08:56:57 pm »
Some TVs with virtual spatial expansion (movie mode or somesuch technobabble) excel at muddying speech.
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slope

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2020, 09:16:49 am »
I ended up with a £9 software solution - Boom 3D
 
Very satisfied - and easily able to set my own preferences with its 11 band graphic EQ :thumbsup:

Probably would have tried the t.racks DSP 4x4 Mini but it's not Mac compatible.

Thanks Valiant for your input :thumbsup:

Now I've got to try and figure out how to introduce some graphic EQ to my tele and JBL soundbar? - mind you, I don't think I can be happy with the soundbar and probably need to consider a better TV specific external audio solution (with graphic EQ capability)


Mrs Pingu

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Re: Adding a graphic equaliser to boost high frequency - poor hearing
« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2020, 06:28:07 pm »
I should add that one useful feature of groovy funky surround sound systems for videos is they often allow you to alter the balance between the various channels.  Since speech tends to be on the centre channel and background music and effects on the others, that lets you improve the SNR directly without mucking about with equalisation.

That's very interesting. I get exceedingly pissed off with films & tv dramas these days where the speech is barely audible. (I find I use subs a lot if I'm watching something from USAnia despite ostensibly speaking the same language.)
That and the see through subtitles that are unreadable when the background image is pale. But I expect I'm preaching to the choir :)
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