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Does surround sound actually work?

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Old 07-23-2014, 07:52 AM   #61  
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Originally Posted by shnabz View Post
Just stumbled on this, you guys should take a look, you might learn something.

http://www.dansdata.com/spkvshead.htm

Finally, someone with some sense.
Yep that pretty much explains that without some additional processing of recordings meant for stereo or 5.1 sound, headphones can not duplicate the pinnae effects. From the text:
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Your pinnae - the outer parts of your ears - strongly influence sound waves that pass through and bounce off them. 3D game audio uses Head Related Transfer Function (HRTF) algorithms to fake the effects of the pinnae, the head and various listening environments, so that injecting the sound straight into the ear canal can produce the impression of real 3D audio sources.
So, without something to add the HRTF algorithms to fake the effects of the pinnae, headphones won't do the trick.

I did learn something from reading that and what I learned (actually already knew, but was reminded) was some people will read what they want into some text to justify their premise. That text clearly explains why stereo headphones plugged into a stereo source will not produce the SS effects from sources recorded with SS equipment in mind.
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Old 07-23-2014, 11:07 AM   #62  
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My post was in reference to Dolby Headphone, which tries to duplicate the same sort of of multidimensional audio cues that one gets with surround sound speakers.
At first I though, 'why they would do this, why not just take the stereo feed from the movie?' then I realized, it's because the stereo feed was designed for 2 speakers at the front, and not headphones. The full spatial effects are not present in the stereo feed because it would be silly trying to simulate sounds coming from behind you from speakers at the front. However, it would work in headphones, if the effects had been mixed into the stereo track. The mix engineers should actually mix down a 'Headphones track' and embed it in the movie, along with the rest of them, I personally don't like the idea of the headphones processing the audio, or any equipment processing/altering the audio for that matter. I would prefer the RAW true high quality stuff, like DTS MA.

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1. How can that be if the fact that we have two ears means two channels is as good as it gets?

2. If more speakers makes for different sound, then how can the same stereo mix match the surround experience just because it's played through headphones? Sounds like magic to me.
1. The reason why the sound is different is because imperfections have been introduced when using SS speakers. You might not believe me but its true, some of the sound from the left speakers gets into the right ear, and some of the sound from the right speakers gets into the left ear, this is bad. It changes the sound-stage, however, i'm sure the mix engineers have thought of that and made the tracks so that they dont cause too much trouble. Also, SS speakers throw sound at the walls and objects in the room you are listening from. This introduces reverb, again, affecting the sound-stage. Lastly, I believe when people use SS speakers they invest a little and get some good quality speakers, and they sound great! But that should not be confused with the directional cues that this thread is about, although i'm sure people will be soo impressed with the quality of their SS speakers compared to a set of sucky headphones, that they become defensive, and over look the fact that im talking about the spatial soundstage and not the quality or clarity etc of the drivers.

2. It's quite simple really, because although SS makes a different sound, it all ends up as TWO audio streams when the sound waves mix and mingle and hit the ear drum, the ear doesn't actually know where the sounds came from at all, all they know is one stream of vibrations per ear. If you were to 'record the ear drum listening to SS" then play it back through stereo, it would EXACTLY the same vibrations, thus the brain would think it was the same. We cannot record the ear drum vibrating though, but we can use technology to simulate what the ear would hear quite easily, because we know about Doppler effect etc, this is what the Dolby headphones do, and other receivers that have similar functions.
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Old 07-23-2014, 11:23 AM   #63  
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First of all SPL vary greatly. By moving or adjusting headphones even a few millimeters on the ears you can radically change the sound. Properties such as soundstage, localization, Bass levels are dramatically affected as a result. Also the size of the drivers on headphones makes it very difficult to accurately reproduce low frequencies as they simply can not move enogh air.
I agree with all the above apart from the soundstage localization bit, this is what i'm interested in the most, headphones in theory should be better at providing soundstage localization. I think moving a few mm would mess up the localization, but only for aslong as you are adjusting, as soon as you stop adjusting it would be better than the SS speakers. You could also argue that turning you head in SS setup would also ruin the localization because if you look to the left, the front becomes the right, whereas with headphones the soundstage follows you. Headphone adjustment aside, there are no problems, only benefits.[/QUOTE]

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Here is another (and the main reason) that surround sound systems differ from headphones. As distance from the origination of the sound to the listener's ears increases the properties of the sound waves change both in intensity and frequency (a small part of the doppler effect). Headphones have no way to account for this.
They don't need to, because the distance from the headphone speaker to your eardum is soo little, it has no effect that needs fixing, whereas with SS you have to worry about all that malarky setting up speaker positions, worrying about wall reverbs, worry about girlfriends head getting in the way etc
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Old 07-23-2014, 11:37 AM   #64  
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They don't need to, because the distance from the headphone speaker to your eardum is soo little, it has no effect that needs fixing, whereas with SS you have to worry about all that malarky setting up speaker positions, worrying about wall reverbs, worry about girlfriends head getting in the way etc
And that is where you are wrong, the altering of sound waves (elongation, reflection, compression etc.) are exactly why surround sound sounds the way it does (allowing localization of sounds) and why headphones sound different. Those things effect the SPL and influence the ways the sound waves hit the eardrums. You simply either are uncapable or unwilling to understand the physics of acoustics { or are you trying to tell me there is no difference in the way my surround souns speakers sound vs headphones??}.
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Old 07-23-2014, 02:13 PM   #65  
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Yep that pretty much explains that without some additional processing of recordings meant for stereo or 5.1 sound, headphones can not duplicate the pinnae effects. From the text:

So, without something to add the HRTF algorithms to fake the effects of the pinnae, headphones won't do the trick.

I did learn something from reading that and what I learned (actually already knew, but was reminded) was some people will read what they want into some text to justify their premise. That text clearly explains why stereo headphones plugged into a stereo source will not produce the SS effects from sources recorded with SS equipment in mind.
I think this is the best point anyone has made on this whole thread (about HRTF), I feel much happier now that i havent wasted alot of money/time/effort on my SS system. So really, the question is can HRTF algorithms fake the effects of the pinnae well enough? If they could, headphones in stereo would be great for SS.

Last edited by shnabz; 07-23-2014 at 02:40 PM..
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Old 07-23-2014, 02:18 PM   #66  
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And that is where you are wrong, the altering of sound waves (elongation, reflection, compression etc.) are exactly why surround sound sounds the way it does (allowing localization of sounds) and why headphones sound different. Those things effect the SPL and influence the ways the sound waves hit the eardrums. You simply either are uncapable or unwilling to understand the physics of acoustics { or are you trying to tell me there is no difference in the way my surround souns speakers sound vs headphones??}.
Uncapable or unwilling!!!! Give me a fucking chance, its the first time u've mentioned all these new points. Geez. Right now I dont understand all of those points, but im gunna have a read up on them and learn about them. Thanks for bringing them up.

"are you trying to tell me there is no difference in the way my surround souns speakers sound vs headphones??"
^
No, i never once said this. I was always talking about spatial soundstage. Your response just goes to show that you have ignored my main question by insinuating the above, of course they sound different, but please get on the same page as me, I am talking about headphones being able to reproduce the same if not better spatial soundstage as SS speakers. We are not talking about sound quality here.

Last edited by shnabz; 07-23-2014 at 02:35 PM..
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Old 07-23-2014, 02:33 PM   #67  
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And that is where you are wrong, the altering of sound waves (elongation, reflection, compression etc.) are exactly why surround sound sounds the way it does (allowing localization of sounds) and why headphones sound different. Those things effect the SPL and influence the ways the sound waves hit the eardrums. You simply either are uncapable or unwilling to understand the physics of acoustics { or are you trying to tell me there is no difference in the way my surround souns speakers sound vs headphones??}.
I have read up on the elongation, which is the only thing I hadn't heard of before, and it still appears as though your post means nothing. You have basically just fired off a bunch a technical sound jargon and havn't actually constructed a meaningful statement. It's like me saying, oh the sun is different that the moon because there's infra red light, gamma, light refraction, those things affect photons and influence the way light hits our eyes.

Lets break your post down:
"And that is where you are wrong, the altering of sound waves (elongation, reflection, compression etc.) are exactly why surround sound sounds the way it does"
>>Did i say otherwise?...Nope
"(allowing localization of sounds)"
>>Actually, the ways in which all the above jargon are concerned, the only localization going on here would be of the actual speakers themselves, which is a bad thing! It would mean that your room would be affecting the sound in a bad way. You are not supposed to be able to localize an actual speaker, all of the speakers work together to create a soundstage, when a sound comes from the left, the right speak has to work as well as the left to make it sound like its coming from the left.
"and why headphones sound different"
>>Yes, the headphones sound different because the sound is going directly into ears, so you dont have all the above problems with them.
The compression, reflection, elongation etc was already recorded in the environment it was recorded in to make it realistic (i.e a film scene in a large hall), your not supposed to introduce more with your SS speakers, its supposed to hopefully go straight into ears uninfluenced by your room. Thats why theaters have acoustic treatment on the walls.
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Old 07-23-2014, 02:48 PM   #68  
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when a sound comes from the left, the right speak has to work as well as the left to make it sound like its coming from the left.
Incorrect when A sound comes 'from the left' the right speaker is silent and the left produces a sound. The localization of speakers (and sounds) is the basis of surround sound. The fact that our auditory system cannot localize frequencies below 80hz (they are in essence omnidirectional to our auditory pathway) is why you can place a subwoofer nearly anywhere without consequence. The only thing that matters is reflection off of surfaces.

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The compression, reflection, elongation etc was already recorded in the environment it was recorded in to make it realistic
Also incorrect or at least to a point - you can capture the acoustics of the environment in which sound was created (in relation to the microphone) but you can not account for the acoustic environment of the listener which occurs with surround sound.
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Did i say otherwise?...Nope
Yes you did:

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whereas with SS you have to worry about all that malarky setting up speaker positions, worrying about wall reverbs, worry about girlfriends head getting in the way etc
^^ those things are what allows surround sound to succeed

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I am talking about headphones being able to reproduce the same if not better spatial soundstage as SS speakers. We are not talking about sound quality here.
Oh we are talking the same thing here. 2 channel audio, aka stereo, does not give the same soundstage as surround sound. I am not saying a surround sound system can do a better job on 2ch audio for for something mixed in 5.1/7.1 etc (multichannel audio) it excels far beyond stereo.
You either don't get it or don't want to get it.

I use my Headphones for stereo audio a ton (typically ~10+ hours /wk ) but rarely for mutlichannel audio and then just to avoid disturbing somebody else in the same room.

Sound quality is something entirely different and deals with how accurately a speaker can reproduce a recorded signal sent to it.

Last edited by jkkyler; 07-23-2014 at 02:56 PM..
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Old 07-23-2014, 02:59 PM   #69  
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when a sound comes from the left, the right speak has to work as well as the left to make it sound like its coming from the left.
--Incorrect when A sound comes 'from the left' the right speaker is silent and the left produces a sound.
>>Facepalm...
The way you tell whether a sound's to your left or your right, is by processing the complex differences in phase, time delay and frequency balance that're imparted to differently located sounds by nearby objects (like walls) which are recorded in the the environment.

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The compression, reflection, elongation etc was already recorded in the environment it was recorded in to make it realistic
--Also incorrect or at least to a point - you can capture the acoustics of the environment in which sound was created but you can not account for the acoustic environment of the listener which occurs with surround sound. You either don't get it or don't want to get it.
>>Again, did i say otherwise?...Nope infact, that is precisely what i said, the SS will be negatively affected by your room reverb etc. Thats why headphones are great, you don't have to worry about all that. You are the one who doesn't seem to 'get it'.

Quote:
Did i say otherwise?...Nope
--Yes you did:

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whereas with SS you have to worry about all that malarky setting up speaker positions, worrying about wall reverbs, worry about girlfriends head getting in the way etc
^^ those things are what allows surround sound to succeed
>>Re-read what I have written, "whereas with SS you have to worry about all that malarky...", i didn't say don't have to.

Don't worry, you will get it eventually.
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Old 07-23-2014, 03:03 PM   #70  
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Uncapable or unwilling!!!! Give me a fucking chance, its the first time u've mentioned all these new points. Geez. Right now I dont understand all of those points, but im gunna have a read up on them and learn about them. Thanks for bringing them up.

"are you trying to tell me there is no difference in the way my surround souns speakers sound vs headphones??"
^
No, i never once said this. I was always talking about spatial soundstage. Your response just goes to show that you have ignored my main question by insinuating the above, of course they sound different, but please get on the same page as me, I am talking about headphones being able to reproduce the same if not better spatial soundstage as SS speakers. We are not talking about sound quality here.
Wasn't accusing - only asking (hence the question mark)

[
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You are not supposed to be able to localize an actual speaker,
Not a speaker but often a particular sound (outside of ambient background noises) - yes

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You could also argue that turning you head in SS setup would also ruin the localization because if you look to the left, the front becomes the right, whereas with headphones the soundstage follows you. Headphone adjustment aside, there are no problems, only benefits.
No, no, no ,no ,no - whether I turn my head or not if a sound comes from "position 'A' " whether I turn my head or not then it still came from position a - with headphones when you turn your head you are also in essence turning the entire acoustic environment.

Imagine me in a 8x11 room and a sound originated in the back left corner - that is where the sound came from - period. If I put headphones on and turned to face that corner then you have in essence reorientated the room and the back has now become the front and vice versa and the sound is now coming from someplace else on a global level.

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"whereas with SS you have to worry about all that malarky..."
EXACTLY - that stuff is important and why surround sound succeeds and is more effective than stereo

Quote:
he way you tell whether a sound's to your left or your right, is by processing the complex differences in phase, time delay and frequency balance that're imparted to differently located sounds by nearby objects (like walls) which are recorded in the the environment.
correct but that doesn't change the fact that those occur BECAUSE the left speaker makes a sound and the right one doesn't when a noise/sound comes from the left. When a sound pans across the soundstage multiple speakers become involved.

Last edited by jkkyler; 07-23-2014 at 03:07 PM..
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Old 07-23-2014, 03:08 PM   #71  
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Wasn't accusing - only asking (hence the question mark)
>>Wasn't persecuting - only replying (hence the informative statement)

[
Not a speaker but often a particular sound (outside of ambient background noises) - yes
>>The particular sound is localized using the sound-stage, nothing to do with reverb compression spl etc that you seemed to think it was. Like I said all that is about localizing the actual speaker.

No, no, no ,no ,no - whether I turn my head or not if a sound comes from "position 'A' " whether I turn my head or not then it still came from position a - with headphones when you turn your head you are also in essence turning the entire acoustic environment.
>>Exactly, great isn't it! Don't get that with SS, it would throw the whole sound-stage to pot, which is what you were arguing about.(Adjustment of headphones)

Imagine me in a 8x11 room and a sound originated in the back left corner - that is where the sound came from - period. If I put headphones on and turned to face that corner then you have in essence reorientated the room and the back has now become the front and vice versa and the sound is now coming from someplace else on a global level.[/QUOTE]
>>Agreed, but when your watching a movie you would mainly be facing the TV, so not really a problem, just like when you are adjusting headphones, its only for a second or two, not really a problem. Which again, is what your argument was.
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Old 07-23-2014, 03:16 PM   #72  
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What is the purpose of surround sound? We only have 2 ears, the sounds waves from all the speakers be it 5.1 or 7.1 will eventually 'merge' and be detected by our two ear drums. Why not just have stereo? We listen in stereo.
This was the original post. Remember?

shnabz - You have now answered this question many, many times in the thread. You started out postulating that stereo is as good as surround because we only have two ears, then acknowledged that there's a significant difference when listening to speakers. So, we are all in agreement that even though we only have two ears, we don't actually listen in stereo.

That leaves us with headphones. No doubt - phones are a different experience. But, the only substantive information presented so far in this thread seems to suggest that it is possible to produce headphone mixes that do a better job than stereo of producing surround sound. Your many, many, many posts contain almost nothing other your personal opinion. To top it off, the one and only link you provided explains why regular stereo is not the best approach for producing headphone soundtracks.
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Old 07-23-2014, 03:18 PM   #73  
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You still don't get it and we haven't even discussed circumaural vs supra-aural vs buds and whether or not headphones are open or closed which also have a huge effect.
I am most likely done no amount of logic or facts will convince you the earth isn't round (I mistakenly thought you could learn but your mind is made up regardless of fact) and I know the science and facts behind surround sound while you clearly do not. Talk to any sound engineer and they will tell you that you are plumb wrong (and possibly crazy)
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Old 07-23-2014, 03:31 PM   #74  
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You still don't get it and we haven't even discussed circumaural vs supra-aural vs buds and whether or not headphones are open or closed which also have a huge effect.
I am most likely done no amount of logic or facts will convince you the earth isn't round (I mistakenly thought you could learn but your mind is made up regardless of fact) and I know the science and facts behind surround sound while you clearly do not. Talk to any sound engineer and they will tell you that you are plumb wrong (and possibly crazy)
Already have done, spoken to two, they both agree with me, said its a difficult concept for some people to understand, but they both agreed that stereo is all that is needed. I mistakenly thought that you could learn but YOUR mind is made up regardless of fact. And i know the science and facts behind how the brain perceives sound (through ear-drum). While you clearly do not.
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Old 07-23-2014, 03:38 PM   #75  
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Seeing as I have a degree in biology with postgraduate work in anatomy and physiology and work in optics and vision and have for 20 + years and a lot of my research has centered around association with sound and vision a pretty comfortable in my knowledge as well as the real world application
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