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joessportster

Biggest cause of SIBILANCE

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I am curious to others issues with Sibilance and what you found to be the main cause in your setup.

 

Reason:  I have a High Rez Music File FLAC of Ryan Adams Live at carnagie Hall. The wife & I have listened to it for years it is a favorite of ours we always enjoyed it. I put a better pair of full range drivers in place and immediately sibilance was overwhelming. I switched back to the older drivers thinking it would solve the sibilance.  WRONG !!!!!! 😡  With the older drivers in place the Sibilance was still present. My theory is with the older drivers the sibilance was not as forward and therefore never really noticed, Once heard up front and present there is no forgetting it, I will hear it no matter the drivers.

 

I have switched Pre-amps, Amps, Gone back and forth, the sibilance is forever present now.  Looking onliine it is discussed quite a bit in terms of recording and how to limit the effect through mic placement.

 

I am now convinced it is part of the recorded source and having a more revealing system made it stand out enough that it affected the enjoyment of the source, regardless of the system and changes one might make after in an effort to diminish its forwardness.  Funny how the brain works

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I had a similar experience. In my case, replacing a class-AB amp with a class-D amp did it. The sibilance was unbearable. Putting the class-AB amp back into the system reduced the sibilance significantly, but, as you said, once heard there is no forgetting it. For what it's worth, time cured the problem, and after several months with the class-AB amp I no longer notice any sibilance.

 

The class-D amp was highly regarded by the audiophile press, and I had it looked over by a manufacturer's repair facility (no trouble found), so either there is some sort of equipment incompatibility or I just don't like the sound of class-D amps.

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I am constantly battling sibilance in my system. I can adjust my mid/tweeter up or down until I get an acceptable or at least tolerable level, but usually the highs are too attenuated. Now here comes the interesting part: I have had other people over listening to the system, and when I mention the sibilance issue, they don't hear it. I have concluded that my hearing loss and tinnitus are contributing to the way I'm hearing things. And once I hear it, It drives me batty.

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46 minutes ago, kevinmi said:

And once I hear it, It drives me batty.

That goes with anything you hear, once you hear something you don't like it's almost like you listen for it.

 

A forum member here (Luther W) had a word he used to describe how speakers preformed which made alot of sense. He called it resolving power, the better the speaker the more it reveals any flaws OR also the better recordings.

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1 hour ago, kevinmi said:

I am constantly battling sibilance in my system. I can adjust my mid/tweeter up or down until I get an acceptable or at least tolerable level, but usually the highs are too attenuated. Now here comes the interesting part: I have had other people over listening to the system, and when I mention the sibilance issue, they don't hear it. I have concluded that my hearing loss and tinnitus are contributing to the way I'm hearing things. And once I hear it, It drives me batty.

Im with you, It makes me crazy.  The wife has been kicking me in the rear for introducing her to sibilance

 

2 hours ago, Edgar said:

For what it's worth, time cured the problem, and after several months with the class-AB amp I no longer notice any sibilance.

Im hoping that will be the case, as I am sure Priscilla is.

 

18 minutes ago, dtel said:

A forum member here (Luther W) had a word he used to describe how speakers preformed which made alot of sense. He called it resolving power, the better the speaker the more it reveals any flaws OR also the better recordings

Sounds like a good description. Im running 45 amps which are not generally thought of as "REFERENCE"  I have found many amps considered reference un-listenable, dry, & anemic.  I wonder if the drivers would calm down with a few  more hours of break in.......  Perhaps some tube swapping is in order thats the 1 avenue I have yet to investigate.

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In my systems... I've only ever had an issue with unbearable sibilance when using vinyl. Changing the settings/set up solved those issues. If I had sibilance issues with other media, I always just chalked it up to the source material and never played it again (lots of Beatles stuff). The interesting thing is, after going to an all tube front end, I can easily play formally unbearable source materials to the point where they actually sound quite outstanding. Distortion is down, presentation is silky smooth and sibilance is nonexistent.

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I think that the following article describes the source of the main portion of the sibilance problem with digital sources.  It's mostly due to the mastering EQ used.  The following figure was extracted from the linked paper below.  The figure has been edited to show an approximate acoustic-only spectrum without EQing present (the red line is approximately what you'd record if there were no amplification of instruments or voices...no EQ): http://www.mountain-environment.com/AES_paper_1996_4277.pdf

 

Heavy Spectrum vs EC 268-1 from Chapman.PNG

 

You would have to get the original stereo downmix track to avoid all sibilance problems, and perhaps not even then if the front-of-house (FOH) guy boosted the highs in concert after on-stage amplifiers are used, and recorded after FOH EQ.

 

The solution to this problem is to demaster your recordings.  Then you'll avoid 90 plus percent of the problems with sibilance.

______________________________________________________________________________________

 

The playback part of the puzzle is probably most strongly affected by the SPL and phase response (flatness) of your setup, as well as the reverberation times and the level of early reflections in the listening room.  I've found that the flatness of the phase response of the loudspeakers has a lot to do with perceived harshness, treble balance, and with that, problems with sibilance. There is a discussion on this part of the problem starting here, for the effects of flattening the phase response of system: https://community.klipsch.com/index.php?/topic/182419-subconscious-auditory-effects-of-quasi-linear-phase-loudspeakers/&do=findComment&comment=2380538

 

I don't believe that swapping out amplifiers is going to change much of anything.  If it does, it's probably to the degree that the amplifier is subtly changing the phase and/or SPL response of the loudspeakers due to output impedance differences of the different amplifiers and the susceptibility of the crossovers and individual drivers/horns in your loudspeakers to be affected by the impedance shifts around 4-8 kHz relative to the other parts of the SPL and phase response.

 

Chris

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I don't know for sure, but I would primarily blame the amps typically that people run.

 

On any good speaker, you hear all the flaws of poorly executed amps,  and most amps I see and hear are compromised in their execution.  A high efficiency speaker will throw it back to you -  " in your face " !!!

 

You get to hear their electrolytics,  (  sadly bypassing the cathode resistors, and / or,  in the main power supply ), instead of good film caps.  You get to hear other design mistakes, such as often-employed capacitor-input-filters, and almost always,  inattention to wiring, ........  on and on.  Makes listening a boring chore rather than a wondrous pleasure.  

 

Probably 98+ percent of tube amps, ever made to date, use simple UNregulated supplies to their front-end stages.  This degrades DICTION on voice. 

 

It is possible that only Audio Research Corporation includes some form of B+ regulation, to the front end of their amps, or, preamps . ( Wm.Z. did this from the beginning, on my 1968 Peploe Industries  Dual 100,  it had a separate tube- regulated  88 pound power supply chassis, and a 45 pound audio chassis.    I have not studied A.R.C's recent schematics for years, but I believe active single or double regulation is the case). 

 

In 1982, my first triode from scratch design and build, used DOUBLE active B+ regulation, to the front end stages.  My audio Mentor, Mr. Fulton, INSISTED I design it that way.  The amp was fabulous. After that amp build, I slacked off, and used either no or " single " B+ regulation on my succeeding DIY amps. 

 

However, in this Forum-covered 2019 KT88 SE DC amp build, I used DOUBLE series SHUNT regulation,  for the front end stage's B+ , and the " special listening experience " of understanding ALL the spoken / sung diction was heard again - in spades.  This level of audio performance, I had not heard ANYWHERES in audio, ever since building my 1982 amp !!

 

My comment is if your amp is not double series B+ regulated, it will not ever do a voice PROPERLY, and if it can't do a voice properly, that is perhaps part of what you cats are hearing and calling " sibilence".  The amp can't finely differentiate the signal, and the garbage, as well as it needs to be done. 

 

But then, active double series B+ regulation, is just ONE design consideration, I can name numerous other poor tube amp design areas, common in 99% of existing tube amps, that degrade music playback performance.  Its a sad sad state, how poor tube amps that the public accepts as "good" are, VS: what is possible to have for music playback.  Well, there you have it, like it or not. 

 

Now you know why I design and build my own amps, since 1982 .

 

Jeffrey Medwin

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13 hours ago, joessportster said:

I am curious to others issues with Sibilance and what you found to be the main cause in your setup.

 

Reason:  I have a High Rez Music File FLAC of Ryan Adams Live at carnagie Hall. The wife & I have listened to it for years it is a favorite of ours we always enjoyed it. I put a better pair of full range drivers in place and immediately sibilance was overwhelming. I switched back to the older drivers thinking it would solve the sibilance.  WRONG !!!!!! 😡  With the older drivers in place the Sibilance was still present. My theory is with the older drivers the sibilance was not as forward and therefore never really noticed, Once heard up front and present there is no forgetting it, I will hear it no matter the drivers.

 

I have switched Pre-amps, Amps, Gone back and forth, the sibilance is forever present now.  Looking onliine it is discussed quite a bit in terms of recording and how to limit the effect through mic placement.

 

I am now convinced it is part of the recorded source and having a more revealing system made it stand out enough that it affected the enjoyment of the source, regardless of the system and changes one might make after in an effort to diminish its forwardness.  Funny how the brain works

hey Joe -  if you remember the acoustic lenses of JBL  ,  they introduced these huge metal  lenses for the Hartsfield , and then the shape changed with some metal and smaller plastic lenses , these cut down on the sibilance as the grilles pointed down  to absorb - muffle the irritant sound   and it works very well -  they can be made from wood - metal - alum -SS -or even plastic - 

 

image.png.659f0a0b08a883cc058f4ae35d0cc4d5.pngimage.png.b779530f61180dbd2e9000373b26768a.png

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14 hours ago, joessportster said:

I am now convinced it is part of the recorded source and having a more revealing system made it stand out enough that it affected the enjoyment of the source, regardless of the system and changes one might make after in an effort to diminish its forwardness.

 

7 hours ago, Chris A said:

 ... the main portion of the sibilance problem with digital sources.  It's mostly due to the mastering EQ used.

 

  • I very, very rarely get objectional sibilance in Blu-ray movies or DVDs.  My best guess is that the movie people actually care and take steps to minimize it at the microphone, or "in the mix."
  • With entirely the same equipment, from player to speakers, I get it a little more frequently with CDs and SACDs.  I don't play much pop or rock, so if that's where people are hearing it, it might be due to the mastering EQ habits @Chris A mentioned. 
  • Some sibilance is naturally occurring, of course.  If you put your ear as close to someone's mouth as some microphones are, you would hear sibilance.  I've heard it from some lecturers at several feet (like from the front row of a classroom), especially when voicing the sounds sip, zip, ship, and genre.  IMO, if there were not some sibilance generated when those words were spoken, something would be wrong.
  • @Randyh, the JBL acoustic lens you pictured may well have worked to counter sibilance.  The 375 driver used with it took a nose dive at 11K. When they improved the Hartsfield by adding the supertweeter 075 (I think the Xover was at 7K -- at least it was on the Paragon), the sibilance came back.  As a friend said, "Now you can hear the spit."  Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes not.  It gives Satchmo a more interesting sound.

 

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19 hours ago, joessportster said:

Reason:  I have a High Rez Music File FLAC of Ryan Adams Live at carnagie Hall. 

 

 

There is a lot of sibilance in that live recording.  "Ssscchweeet Carolina..."  It's not your gear.

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14 hours ago, Chris A said:

 

The solution to this problem is to demaster your recordings.  Then you'll avoid 90 plus percent of the problems with sibilance.

I read part of your thread on this, way above my head

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14 hours ago, Schu said:

In my systems... I've only ever had an issue with unbearable sibilance when using vinyl. Changing the settings/set up solved those issues. If I had sibilance issues with other media, I always just chalked it up to the source material and never played it again (lots of Beatles stuff). The interesting thing is, after going to an all tube front end, I can easily play formally unbearable source materials to the point where they actually sound quite outstanding. Distortion is down, presentation is silky smooth and sibilance is nonexistent.

Been there my obsessive compulsive behavior to keep improving, Getting the best outta what I have always leads to a point where musicality is lost to a degree.  Its like there is a step to far, its hard to find the perfect balance between staying musical and getting reference quality sound

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1 hour ago, joessportster said:

I read part of your thread on this, way above my head

Perhaps taking it a step at a time?  This is the solution, trust me. 

 

I see a great many recordings where there is a local dip in SPL response of the vocal lines around 4.5-8 kHz that was obviously put there to counteract the sibilances of the vocalist into a microphone.  If you try to boost the response of the track in those areas during demastering--you get a lot of sibilance, so I've learned that when I see that little dip in response in that frequency band, it's due to a mixing engineer that's trying to get the sibilances out of the mixdown tracks. 

 

I find that the blast screens used in most recording sessions (in the videos that are shot in the recording booths while the vocalists are performing) are usually overcome by the vocalists putting their mouths on the blast screen or within an inch of the screen, thus negating the screen's effectiveness.  If the vocalist moved their mouths back 3-4 inches, almost all the hard sibilances would be gone, and their enunciation of the words would still be intelligible.

 

Chris

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By the way, one of the tools of the trade (mixing) is to use a multi-band compressor with one of the frequency bands centered on 4.5-8 kHz to catch the hard sibilances during the vocal track recordings (before the mixdown tracks), so that most of the time, the effect of the vocalist's hard consonant sounds does not affect the overall frequency response of the vocalist's track--only the hard sibilances are caught.  That's one of the better uses of multi-band compressors.  The problem is, not every recording or mixing engineer apparently does this, so we have a lot of stereo recordings full of hard vocalist sounds into the microphone.

 

Chris

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3 minutes ago, Chris A said:

This is the solution, trust me. 

 

Chris, I'm not challenging your technique, but your claim that it is a cure-all solution is overly ambitious. In my case, the appearance of sibilance coincided with the insertion of a new component into the signal chain. It was not limited to digital audio, or analog audio, or even to voice. It was present in all audio, and removal of the offending component ultimately solved the problem. That's pretty strong evidence that the component, not the mix, was at fault.

 

The really weird part was that the component checked out 100% OK in testing by a factory technician. So it had to be some kind of an imcompatibility with other components.

 

- Greg

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48 minutes ago, Edgar said:

In my case, the appearance of sibilance coincided with the insertion of a new component into the signal chain. It was not limited to digital audio, or analog audio, or even to voice. It was present in all audio, and removal of the offending component ultimately solved the problem. That's pretty strong evidence that the component, not the mix, was at fault.

Which component would that be--exactly?  (Name and model number...remember we're talking about digital only playback--not phonograph needles, cartridges, etc.)

 

When you look at the spectrograms of offending tracks, you can see the sibilances as bright spots in the 4.5-8 kHz band. 

 

Because you chose not to identify exactly which music tracks created sibilances (such that we can't talk about those exact recordings), I'm assuming that your music tastes mostly cater to the type of recordings for which the vocalists are holding a microphone or it is within 1-3 inches of their mouths.  While this occurs very often nowadays with popular (including rock) and jazz vocalists, it doesn't occur at all with, say classical music where the microphones are a reasonable distance away from the vocalist's mouth. 

 

My point is this: the type of recordings that are being listened to by a lot of people nowadays (pop/rock/jazz vocalists, etc.), the sibilances can be seen in the spectrograms.  If you take the time to go through the offending recording and put a local attenuating PEQ filter in the extremely short time windows of the bright spots on the spectrograms at the identified sibilance frequencies (above), you can remove all the offending sibilances and the effect on the fidelity of the recording is not audibly affected.  So the technique that I mention can completely remove this issues, if you have the time to go through them all.  This is the same story as chasing down pops and ticks in ripped recordings from vinyl--the pops and ticks are there to fix if you have the time.

 

If you do have an issue with a component in your playback system that accentuates the sibilances, my first question is: "did you run at least an A-B measurement in-room of the SPL and phase response of the component in-and-out of the loop on the sound reproduction system?".  If you didn't, and you're blaming a certain component, it's most likely because you've unbalanced the frequency or phase response of the system. That's a no-brainer to fix in any case--not just because of sibilances.  That's the definition of hi-fi and not "I want my system to sound the way that I want it". 

 

The reason why I talk about demastering recordings is because most "audiophiles" are specifically assuming that the recordings are "sacred scripture". They're not.

 

Chris

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15 minutes ago, Chris A said:

Which component would that be--exactly?  (Name and model number...remember we're talking about digital only playback--not phonograph needles, cartridges, etc.)

 

Perhaps you are talking about digital only playback, but that is specifically not what I am talking about. As I said, it was present in all audio. And I didn't need to run an A-B measurement -- my ears told me all that I needed to know, that this component didn't belong in my system. I could spend a lot of time and effort trying to figure out why and perhaps trying to fix it, or I could just replace the component with something that sounds better. I chose the latter.

 

As both an engineer and an audiophile, I constantly fight the measurement vs. listening battle in my own life. But in the end, it's all about how it sounds. There is plenty of equipment that measures good but sounds bad (the offending class-D amplifier in my system, for example), and there is plenty of equipment that measures bad but sounds good (just about any phonograph system, for example). I'll take good sound over good specs any day.

 

- Greg

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