Monday, April 9, 2012

Test / What's the best sound?

[ TEST ]
Fantastic! You are amazing.
I'm very impressed with how you responded,
in some cases with great competence and professionalism.
Continue. I'll wait for more opinions until the end of the day.
Your collaboration is being very good. Thanks.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Esme said...

I prefer 2 or 3 (3 is louder)
(Tested with Stax Omega electriostatic headphones, Stax valve hybrid headphone amp, Rega DAC)

Anonymous said...

I prefer the No. 2 or No. 3 (I think they are equal, only varies the sound volume)

harry said...


Anonymous said...


Fly said...


I liked the detail in reference to the brand of headphones :))

Fly said...

Hehehehe! :) This will be fun :) Get ready for surprises! :))
Do not be swayed by the answers already given :) Listen carefully and decide for yourselves :)

Hugh said...

2 :)

Samuel said...

Nº2, with headphones Sennheiser HD 565 Ovation :)

Anonymous said...

I don't know how good I am at these tests. 1 & 4 have the same perspective, with 4 being louder. 2&3 have the same perspective (shifted to the right) with 3 being louder. When I try to adjust for volume, I think 1 and 4 seem more natural. - Greg

Anonymous said...

All are 16-bit stereo tracks.
1 and 2 sound the same.
3 and 4 sound the same.
3&4 are louder than 1&2.
If you adjust the volume, they all sound the same.
Every HiFi salesman knows that increasing playback volume (within limits) subjectively improves sound quality.

Fly said...

1 and 2 are different... Should give attention to other details beyond the volume is higher or lower...

Anonymous said...

I prefer #2, seems to me that the stereo separation is clean with counterpoint lines principally articulated in Right channel, the left hand crisply in Left channel, but just enough crosstalk to provide a sense of spatiality. There is some "ringing" artifact at around 1:20 in all of the samples, but most pronounced in #3 & 4 perhaps because of the overall higher volume. #1 sounds abit "anemic," although I almost chose it as it is also the most uncolored and natural sounding...can't wait to hear what the results are.

I do hope you post koroliov's WTC Book II with similar settings to Book I to maintain consistency of sound.

Most importantly, thank you for a fantastic and always interesting blog!


Kolya said...

1 and 2 sounded very close, but i think there was greater separation on 2. I preferred 1, because it was more homogenized. 3 was louder. It reminded me more of 2 than 1. 4 I think I liked the best.

Mellowdawg said...

Listening to the 4 tracks on my laptop through Grado SR125 headphones I could only hear the difference in volume between the first two tracks and the last two. Switching to AKG K701 headphones through a modified Musical Fidelity X-Cans V3 headphone amp and a Naim DAC I could hear differences between all the tracks. Choosing a favourite is a bit tricky. I preferred 1 & 4: The sound of the piano on 4 seemed fuller and richer, but perhaps a bit fuzzy. Track 1 was clearer, with the sounds of the hammers striking the strings better defined, but the tone was thinner than 4. These differences are not dramatic and I could probably live with any one of the four. I'm curious as to what makes the difference as all four have the same DR value (dynamic range) and, accounting for the differences in level, the spectra are identical.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hi-Lo: 3-2-4-1
Sennheiser RS130-8 (+ very old ears!)

musiclover said...


Carlos said...

La pista que mejor se escucha con mis Sennheiser HDR 130 es la múmero 3.
Un cordial saludo

Anonymous said...

with Cool Edit : all numeric data are the same 1=2=3=4

zorgloki said...

2 seems to be the finest one

rufio said...

3 and 4 sounds just deeper and fuller than 1 and 2 which seems to me quite flat sounding. My best choice is 3 anyway.

Anonymous said...

I prefer 3 & 4

monoperro said...

i think number 3

Andy said...

It's a pity, got no headphones at the moment. With stereo loudspeakers (Nubert), I prefer No. 3.
Wunderful idea, Fly!

Thank you,

Fly said...

This test came after your question about "Special Edition / Stereo calibrated". It's a shame you don't have the headphones. Your response would be more accurate. Your choice is curious :)))

schontzi said...

No. 1 is the best, no. 4 is the worst.

Andy said...

Yes, I understand - and you are right, I'm aware that I would need headphones. Anyway, I will keep the files, may be there will be a chance to listen with headphones (actually, I should buy a pair...). This moment I'm listening to Koroliov's "French Suites" - heavenly!
Thanks once again,

P.S. Another great russian pianist: Grigory Sokolov (heard him 2 weeks ago at the Berlin Philharmonics), possibly the greatest among todays pianists...

bohuslav said...

Hi, this is great
1: piano more to the left side, soft sound
2: bass more right side reverb panning to left side, soft sound
3: little noises from left (mp3 artefacts?), bass more on right side, louder than 1.+2.
4: noises not so loud, more compact sound
louder than 1.+2.
2 and 4 are my favorites
greetz from bohuslav

Fly said...

I'm impressed with some of your analyzes. Competence :) Continue. I'll wait for more opinions until the end of the day. Your collaboration is being very good. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

El número 3). Saludos.

Anonymous said...

El número 3.
Aprovecho la ocasión para agradecerte toda la belleza que compartes con nosotros. Espero que puedas seguir haciéndolo todavía por mucho tiempo. Gracias.


lipatti_ro said...

I'm going with no.3.

anagy said...

Using Sony Studio Monitor headphones:

Nos 1 & 2 sound dramatically different from 3 & 4. My guess is that 3 & 4 were re-equalized with heavier mid-range emphasis. I can usually get this effect with any recording by using "Loudness" eq settings. Though initially more impressive, they lead to listener fatigue in short order.

Order of preference:
No. 2. It has a nice sense of "air" around it and the channels sound well-balanced to me.

No. 1 isn't bad, but I prefer the balance in 2.

No. 3 has the middle-heavy equalization but I find the soundstage coherent though slightly "middle channel" weighted.

No. 4 is the worst- slightly tubby equalization and too much left channel emphasis.

Your "taste test" was a brilliant idea!

Fly said...

Fantastic! You are amazing. I'm very impressed with how you responded, in some cases with great competence and professionalism.

Leny said...


kike said...

Hola Fly,

mis impresiones son:

Sampler 1. Game bajo, mucho aire.

Sampler 2. + game; más presencia y el piano se carga a la derecha, y se aprecia mayor reverberancia de la sala.

Sampler 3. game alto, frecuencia alta,mayor presencia frontal, menor respuesta de frecuencia baja, menos dinámico.

Sampler 4. game mediano.

Me quedo con el 4 - 2 -;

Miguel said...


raifhaddad said...

Gostei dos 1 e do 2,pois ha pouco chiado,o som do 3 e do 4 é melhor mas tem chiados.

moreira said...

Iká, a minha preferencia é 2-3-4-1
abraços. obrigado

Anonymous said...

Fired up my ELS 63 No headphone here

No 1 and No 2 are the same file
No 3 and No 4 are the same file

The only difference between the 4 files are gain, so all 4 files are the same.

All files are the the same source, but more important... none are lossless my ears tell me.


Fly said...

Hummm...(?!?) All the same? It's better to use headphones :)

Psst! They are WAV files (16-Bit Stereo 44,100Hz)... Not bad :)There are much worse ...

Mellowdawg said...

@oxbowox: Interesting that you felt none were lossless. I didn't check before, but I checked the files with Audiochecker and got the following results:

AUDIOCHECKER v2.0 beta (build 457) - by Dester -

Path: ...\TEST

1 -=- 1.wav -=- CDDA (100%)
2 -=- 2.wav -=- CDDA (85%)
3 -=- 3.wav -=- CDDA (62%)
4 -=- 4.wav -=- CDDA (100%)

Summary 86.75% CDDA


Audiochecker is sometimes tripped up by solo piano recordings, usually claiming the source lossy when it is actually lossless.

Anonymous said...

Hi Fly
Credit to you. I run a second test and make focus on dynamics instead of high pitch. So if this is 16bit I*m on my knees!!!


Froglita said...

I prefer track 1 the best.
And after reading all the comments, I went back and listened to all the tracks again, and still I would choose track 1.

Anonymous said...

No.1 is the natural beautiful sound

Nima said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Time Flies said...

I could be wrong :) and I don't think I have that golden ears. I just love music. But I will try...

I prefer no 1

Here's what I found: with order of preference (1>4>2>3)
1- has better texture and layering than 2. Lots of room to ply with the volume because of softer sound.
4- to my ears is similar to no 1 with shifted up amplitude. Since it is louder, it gives a little room for volume play in my amp. And sometimes (maybe the effect of volume pot no linearity or my amp linearity) it sounds mor congested than no 1.
2- smoother/rounder at the expense of less texture and layering
3- to my ears is similar to no 2 with shifted up amplitude. So the effect of making it louder is even highlight the problem in no 2

The weakness softer sounding track (like 1) is that sometimes the noise floor of my amp becoming more obvious because I have to cranck up the volume. But I choose this noise rather than the other weakness. If I have better amp with lower noise floor, then it should not be problematic anymore.

Note: I test Dynamic Range on all track, they seem consistently give me DR11. Which mean track 3 and 4 are shifted up (about 6dB; not linearly gain amplified) digitally OR track 1 and 2 are shifted down.

Note2: I load the tracks to Audacity. Despite the amplitudes difference 1,2 to 3,4, visually they look very similar.

Note3: I use 3 kinds of equipment to test. No 1 is obvious with any of my equipment. But the other tracks lack-ness seems only shown up with better equipment.
a. Lenovo T500 notebook -> cheap creative headset directly
b. Lenovo T500 notebook -> Tiny Tube DAC (modified with cap removal and OPA2209 buffer before the TPA6120A opamp power chip) -> Grado HF2
c. Lenovo T500 notebook -> PCM2706 USB to SPDI/F converter -> Monica II (TDA1545A NOS DAC without active gain stage, just Blackgate coupling cap) -> DIY Tripath TK2050 -> Hifiman/HeadDirect HE5LE

Note4: Could you please share this beautiful music as well... :)

Nima said...

Playing them using Winamp v5.623 (x86) on my VAIO E Series Laptop, I have connected my semi-closed AKG K-66 headphones.
I always listen to my music in 'flat' (un-altered) mode and turn off the limiters in the player software.
Before telling you my opinion I wish to emphasise that judging the sound quality of some wave files, when the music is played on a solo piano (compared to a full orchestra, or all that plus human voice and even electronically altered sound) inevitably brings some limitations and biases to one's judgement as the material they are listening to is not that varied and wide in timbre and frequency...

Anyway, to my ears 1 and 2 sounded quite the same and both were of the lowest quality.

I would say number 4 is the best, followed very very closely by 3. (Or maybe I am just being hyper-pseudo-sensitive, as I have listened to number 3 and 4 repeatedly after each other a number of times...)

All the best,
Thank you very much for your beautiful blog and posts.
Nima from Australia

(P.S. I used to be a pianist, so I certainly do not have any problems with the range and frequencies of the piano, especially when it is under the fingers of such a great artist.)

Time Flies said...

@oxbowox: the files cannot be the same... Even without listening, bit compared 1 & 2 are different, the same with 3 & 4. I use bit compare on Foobar; which is smart enough to find that the same song uncompressed (in WAV) and losslessly compressed (in FLAC) would give the same exact audio bits.

Tani said...

IMHO, with ears that are often pleased by Giulini :p

Best regards :D

Anonymous said...

I undoubtly prefer the file n. 3. Compliments for your exciting
blog! Mario from Italy

beethoven said...

I do not feel the differences over the level.
But for me it's hi quality also the 128 kb/s mp3.

michelcharles said...

My choice (from best to worse)

2 - 1 - 4 - 3

Thanks for the whole blog.

Anonymous said...

My headphones are the humble Sony one, don't exactly know the type, alas. But prefer the 3. Because it is sounded as if I stand near the piano. More nuance. If i crank up the volume for number 1 and 2, there will be hissing noise in the background. So I don't like that. The number 4 has problem of being too robust. The glitch on 1:04 when he goes up in scale is a bit too pronounced. The number 2 is more enhanced than 1. There is a "buzz" by the deep bass boom on 00:52 on file 2 but not so much on the 1. But i agree that it is a bit anemic. Prefer the 2 better than the 1. Overall, 3 is my preference

Dobermann said...

Hearing with Beyer Dynamics Headphones my preferences are:

1 is best, then 4 - 2- 3 .

Thank you for this interesting test and, of course, for all your offers.

Anonymous said...

So, best 1 and 4 louder - then 2 and last 3.
1 is best with loudspeaker (Chario bass reflex and Primaluna 2 amp) and 4 is best with headphones. Excuse but this is my simple (and ignorant) opinion. Not tested, not analyzed. Only simple ear. Interesting job. Ale55