People who play headphones for the first time can be roughly divided into two categories:
One type is enthusiasts who compromise from speaker systems to headphone systems. These enthusiasts are often “forced” to configure headphones/portable audio systems out of considerations of home environment and portability. They already have certain fever experience in speaker systems. With the accumulation of related knowledge, I have a clearer concept and goal of what kind of voice I want. Such enthusiasts will take less detours relatively.
The second category is that there is no concept of HIFI audio at all, just want to upgrade to get better sound, starting from the simple wish of “fitting the phone with better earplugs”, and gradually entering the new world of HIFI fever. This group of people are really early enthusiasts starting from scratch. They will encounter many problems that were completely unimaginable before. They are also the people who are most likely to be misled by some specious “theories” and malicious hype.
This article focuses on the second category: “pure” junior enthusiasts. I hope that through this article, everyone can avoid detours.
1. To discuss the sound at the price, use simple “good” and “bad” to summarize audio equipment
The most important thing about audio products is “choose only the expensive ones, not the right ones.” Because different audio products are not one-sided, but have their own style characteristics, and everyone’s preferences for music styles are also very different. If you don’t find the style you like, then the top product is a waste of money.
Therefore, when choosing an audio product, the first thing to understand is the basic style and characteristics of the product. Some people like to use simple phrases like “good”, “bad”, “invincible at the same price” to describe the equipment, but no Describing the specific characteristics of the equipment is the most misleading. For this kind of “evaluation” enthusiasts can simply ignore it.
The evaluation of sound is based on subjective feelings. It is impossible to completely unify to a digital absolute standard. However, there is still a general classification standard for the restoration of sound by HIFI equipment, especially through direct comparison of different equipment, it is very easy Recognize the basic characteristics of a device: such as the style characteristics of cold, warm, soft, and fierce sound reproduction, the restoration of details, low-frequency control, sound field/positioning performance and other basic qualities. Therefore, a valuable evaluation should include these detailed comparisons.
As a novice with a fever, there are some things that you can’t be lazy, not only need to listen more to accumulate experience, but also pay attention to distinguishing the evaluation of other people’s equipment, which is of reference value, and which can be directly ignored. In reality, novices like to look directly at the conclusions without looking at the specific comparison details. Seeing the so-called “spike”, “invincible”, “one step in place”, “artifact”, “strongly recommended”, “no need to think about” and other inflammatory texts are immediately moved. +Action, this type of text is exactly what some malicious hype people like to instill in the public. Those who take a detour like this really can’t blame others.
2. Sound = big thrust
It is often described by someone: “As long as the volume knob reaches a certain position, the sound is very loud. The conclusion is: this equipment has a great thrust.” This is a misunderstanding of the technical nature of audio equipment. An amplifier that pushes the headphone sound very loud does not mean that its thrust is large, because it also needs an important prerequisite: no distortion. Therefore, the output power parameter in the audio amplifier device must contain three details: output power (W), load (ohm), distortion (THD), usually the default distortion data is 1%, such a value is for the actual hearing In terms of it has been regarded as obvious distortion. Distortion data can be directly measured by professional testing equipment, so just look at the reliable test data for the thrust of the equipment.
As a typical example, SONY’s D100 recorder was called “strong thrust” by many people when it was first launched, and some even claimed that it was a domestic portable player with a thrust of more than 200 milliwatts.
Why is there such a misunderstanding? It is because D100 only needs to turn a small scale potentiometer to get a large volume, and the actual test volume knob has reached the limit of 1% distortion when it is turned to half (about 5 on the scale), and the output power is only 17.3 millimetres. Watt/32 ohms, this value is actually not much different from the 25 milliwatts/16 ohms in the manual, and compared to Mini Audio’s DX100 player of 378 milliwatts/32 ohms, the difference is more than 20 times.
Another form of false high thrust is that certain equipment uses software to increase the thrust. This is also a way of greatly increasing distortion, which is usually only used in non-HIFI mass audio products.
From the comparison of actual listening experience, it can be directly verified that the sound is not equal to being pushed well. For example, the performance of HD650 headphones driven by D100 is very bad, not only lacks dynamics, but also has obvious mid-to-high frequency distortion, which is a typical failure to push well.
3. Strong bass = big sound field
Some people confuse the low-frequency control with poor low-frequency control and exaggerated sense of volume, creating a sense of space (effects similar to reverberations and hall sounds) with sound field positioning. In fact, these are completely unrelated concepts:
A. There are mainly two parameters related to sound field positioning and equipment characteristics:
Channel separation: The higher the index, the wider the sound field, and the more it can restore the band’s proper formation.
High-frequency analysis and detail reduction: The higher these two indicators, the stronger the sense of positioning of the instrument. The human ear is not sensitive to the sense of low-frequency orientation, so there will be those 2.1 speakers.
B. The sense of space and the sense of hall are related to the problems of middle and low frequency, mainly the low frequency part. Poor low-frequency control can easily form some reverb-like effects: a signal ends with a reverberant tail, which looks a little dragged, and at the same time adds some false sense of space/hall.
Some people will say: Isn’t it very effective to create a sense of hall? But in fact, when recording, as long as it is live recording (most classical music), the reverberation in the concert hall at that time has been recorded synchronously, and the audio equipment can reflect the appearance as long as it is directly restored. The real sense of space. Poor low-frequency control is actually a kind of distortion, which exaggerates the feeling of space.
4. Misunderstanding of musicality and analytical power
The most common misunderstanding is that ear-piercing = high resolution and musicality = fuzzy. This involves subjective listening, and there is no absolute standard. You can also set a relative standard with reference to high-end audio equipment: the most important thing is to stay away from dryness. , Hard, thorny digital taste.
What is truly excellent resolution?
To sum it up simply, good resolution = rich details + no harshness, long listening without irritability. Many people are accustomed to listening to products such as ipods with heavy digital flavors and are accustomed to using irritating high frequencies as high-resolution. In fact, this is an authentic distortion.
What is excellent musicality?
It is neither the smearing of details to cover up the softness and mistiness of the details, nor the fake “details” that are blunt and stimulating. The intermediate frequency is the most sensitive frequency band for the human ear, and the human voice is the best way to identify the musicality of the equipment. Good musicality should be cordial and natural, with rich details, and a clear distance between the human voice and instrumental music. Many low-end equipment cannot achieve true high fidelity due to technical cost and other restrictions, so some details are deliberately erased to make the sound sound softer. This method reduces the cold and hard digital taste, which is more pleasing to the public. , But there is a significant gap between this tuning method and true high-fidelity. The most important thing is that the human voice restoration lacks emotion and intimacy.
5. Myth DSD format
However, in recent years, some new products have vigorously promoted DSD support as a selling point, causing some novices to misunderstand that only DSD support is “good” equipment. In fact, DSD is only a kind of high-bitrate audio files, and it is not new. The format most used in studio mastering is PCM 24BIT/96K. After original recording in DSD format, post-production needs to be converted to PCM high. Bit rate format. Therefore, the key to choosing a high-bitrate file is not what format it is currently using but what format is the original recording. In theory, the conversion between different formats will bring about loss of sound quality. It is a good thing to support one more format, but it is completely misleading to say that supporting one audio format is the decisive factor in the quality of the player.
6. Various misunderstandings about the technical indicators of audio equipment
Common misunderstandings include: the theory that technical indicators are everything, the theory that technical indicators are completely useless, and the sound card RMAA test data and non-standard test data are regarded as “objective data”.
Two points should be paid attention to when dealing with test data:
A. First of all, pay attention to the test conditions such as the instrument used for the test, the test method, and the load situation.
Some people often take the computer sound card + RMAA test data seriously for some non-professional websites. This is actually very unreliable, especially when testing the Walkman. Some websites just turn the Walkman to the maximum volume without adding Any load is tested with RMAA. The output power of different Walkmans is different. The sound card is not sensitive to small input power. If the input power of RMAA is small or too large, some weird data will be obtained. For desktop audio systems, the RMAA test data is closer to that of a professional tester. Relative data can be tested under the same conditions for comparison, but it cannot be used as an absolute numerical reference. The sound card + RMAA is very susceptible to external interference such as computers, and the data obtained by the test is also prone to various deviations.
In addition, I have seen some data on the walkman with a professional tester. It is the same to turn the volume to the maximum and measure the THD together and compare them. The output power corresponding to the best distortion data of different players (at least It is necessary to set a uniform output power to test the distortion, so that it is fair). There is also a bunch of so-called data directly measured without load, which is meaningless. For the Walkman, the difference between the data obtained with and without load is amazing. Therefore, unscientific test data can fool people.
B. The various parameters of audio products measured by professional testing instruments can reflect the sound characteristics of some equipment, but they cannot completely replace the sense of hearing. Style characteristics such as warm and cold, thickness, charm, etc. are not reflected in the data. Therefore, the most valuable evaluation should include valid test data and comprehensive hearing comparison.
7. Blindly worship foreign brands
Brand effect exists in any product, and in the audio field, brand is one of the most important factors that should be ignored. Once a major foreign audio manufacturer took a Chinese brand OPPO Blu-ray player and a Nissan cheap DVD to change the brand, the appearance was sold several times the price. Such a blatant flicker, there are still people buying it. Some established domestic audio companies, such as Shanling, are currently mainly engaged in OEM business. I have seen a large number of foreign brand products on the production line of Shanling, including some well-known high-end brands. Some of them are completely developed and designed by Shanling, directly marked with foreign trademarks, and foreign merchants will sell them at zero prices. In fact, domestic audio companies have many excellent audio designers and excellent audio products. Many products are widely praised abroad (otherwise there will not be so many OEM business), but it is difficult to get a fair evaluation in China. These domestic manufacturers are forced Become an OEM behind the scenes, and some foreign brands have made large profits, and then invested heavily in advertising and publicity to continue to “myth” their brand image, forming a strange circle.
As an introductory HIFI enthusiast, if you put aside the brand, blindly admiring foreign factors and treat domestic and foreign products as equals, then you can spend a lot of money less.