• Register
  • Help
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11

Topic: How to make GPO sound better, a lot better

Share/Bookmark
  1. #1

    How to make GPO sound better - better headphones

    After seven years of not really liking most GPO sounds, and complaining here occasionally to no avail, I figured out the answer to why others like what they hear but I don't.

    I bought better headphones. There is no longer any question in my mind that headphones are one of the most crucial elements in a GPO system, assuming that you rely on phones for part or all of your monitoring.

    I've mainly been using the AKG K240DF, a classic professional studio phone, which was recommended here when I started. Even the estimable Dan Kury uses and recommends them. I sneakily disregarded his well-meaning advice to keep them, and received my new top-of-the-line AKGs today.* They make an absolutely amazing qualitative difference, even with no burn-in, though the K702 is said to require as many as 3-400 hours before they fully open up.

    I hooked them up to my modest headphone amp, a Presonus hp4, into which you can plug 4 cans simultaneously. My trial pieces are early music arranged by by me for modern orchestra. I have never been satisfied with the quality of sound from my samples and have been trying to figure out whether the problem is the GPO patches or some element(s) in my hardware chain from soundcard to headphones. Violins often sound scratchy, unpleasant. Drums are seriously underwhelming.

    After the new phones arrived today I started listening with my AKG K240S cans, not much used since purchased new about 6 months ago. They produce a pleasant sound, good bass and general resonance. The piece sounded nice, but a little murky and underdefined. I need to hear the individual instruments better.

    Then I listened to the same piece with my K240DFs, which I had bought used on Ebay about six years ago, obviously very well used as the pads were cracked and worn out. Cable and current pads are factory replacements. The DF sound on the piece is a little thin and scratchy in comparison to the K240S. In the DF's defense, I can't get enough power from this amp -- the pot is turned all the way around. Thus it may need more juice to produce. Or, maybe the drivers are over the hill. I concede that there may be something wrong with this individual pair.


    Then I tried the AKG K702 fresh out of the sealed box. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. All of a sudden my GPO4 orchestra got bigger, more powerful, and more spread out over the stage. There's the big bass presence I have been looking for, hoping it was there. The contrabasses just asserted themselves. And the K702 is not famous for bass. Haha, mine has it, sorry about yours, LOL.


    Another of my arrangements has a lot of timpani and bass drum, which always sounded anemic with both my older phones. Today -- BAM, BOOM! -- the K702 really brings them out. Finally, they produce a huge rumble. Still not nearly like what Dan can do with his stunning sequencer mixes, but I'm pleased with this. For years I have wondered why in the hell I couldn't get any power out of the percussion, ever since I first got Sibelius and GPO in 2003. Now here are the big drums in all their glory.

    Overall, there's an order of magnitude improvement in reproduction quality. And my K702 does not even have two hours of burn-in yet. Listener reports on headphone boards suggest anywhere from 150 to 400 hours of burn in for this unit. I look forward to Hour 300.


    My low-end amplifier is probably also a factor. A more powerful boutique amp is on the way -- a Sjostrom Audio QRV-07 kit, which I hope will improve things even more. On the hp4 I have to turn the volume dial almost all the way around to get normal listening level on both the DF and the K702.

    Finally I can get back to focusing on playing with the musical structure and making more of it instead of tinkering constantly with the software mixer and agonizing about why I am not hearing the beautiful sounds I think I ought to be hearing.

    I wonder how many colleagues on this board aren't hearing everything Gary's and Tom's orchestra can deliver.


    *The AKG K1000 is more expensive than the K701/K702, but it's a completely different design, kind of eccentric, and appears to be more of an audiophile device than workhorse reference phone for professional engineers or composers.

    (Of course I know I'm supposed to use studio monitors to mix, but I don't mix or master, I do What-Ifs with Sibelius. I live in an apartment, work late at night, and would prefer to spend $240 for high-end headphones than $3000 for pro monitors that I can't crank up fully anyway.)

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Just north of Sydney
    Posts
    272

    Re: How to make GPO sound better, a lot better

    Another funny thread on headphones?

    Herbert

    GPO, JABB, CMB, GWI, GOFRILLER, HALION PLAYER, ACCORDIONS by E Tarilonte
    Cubase 6, Notation Composer, VSTHost, GoldWave audio editor.

    Interests:
    Good Food, Gemütlichkeit, Wein Weib und Gesang – History, Politics, Civil Law –
    Electronics, Software Development, Physics – Plant Physiology, Creative Horticulture –
    Photography, Painting, Wood Working - Midi Orchestration, Music, Music, und Musik …

  3. #3

    Re: How to make GPO sound better, a lot better

    Actually no, I just took out my flip remark so as not to mislead. I wouldn't trivialize this topic. Perhaps the long post is rather forbidding -- my apologies -- but it may lead you to where it led me, to a new and better GPO sound.

    I think the topic is a serious matter of whether or not it is an unmitigated pleasure to listen to the samples, and whether the samples faithfully reproduce the instrumental sounds.

    I have established to my satisfaction that a simple upgrade in headphones can make a huge qualitative and quantitative difference in what the user hears in the GPO sounds. Qualitative in the character of the instruments, eliminating distracting flaws introduced by suboptimal hardware. Quantitative in being able easily to discern individual instruments playing simultaneously and hear actual balances set in the sequencer or notation program.

    If one needs to use headphones rather than monitors, the reproductive accuracy of the phones is just as important as the power of the CPU, lest GPO seem to underperform.

  4. #4

    Re: How to make GPO sound better, a lot better

    Sounds like your whole world of audio just improved and not just GPO samples.

  5. #5

    Re: How to make GPO sound better, a lot better

    Sorry, but your headphones will not make GPO sound any better or any worse on MY system, which is what counts at the end of the day.

    You still need to learn how to properly apply reverb, panning, EQ, etc. and whatever other tricks you can learn to sell the orchestral illusion.

    Peace,
    J

  6. #6

    Re: How to make GPO sound better, a lot better

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Monaghan View Post
    Sounds like your whole world of audio just improved and not just GPO samples.
    Oh yes, quite true. I thought my tuner and CDs sounded good enough with the DF, but they just got better.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsaras View Post
    Sorry, but your headphones will not make GPO sound any better or any worse on MY system, which is what counts at the end of the day.
    I wouldn't be so sure of this, unless you're already using top-quality cans. My main point, made a couple weeks ago in another thread, is that to maximize sound quality, we should consider examining each element in our hardware system for weakness, not simply focus on tweaking the s/w variables. By replacing one piece at a time, I finally identified the weakest link in my system's sound chain. If you are using a modest consumer or low-end studio headphone and have never heard a high-end pro model (doesn't have to be AKG) on your system, you will almost certainly notice a qualitative difference.

    You can easily prove or disprove my assertion by borrowing a friend's pro cans, or taking your laptop system to a Guitar Center or a head-fi can jam sometime. You could also take your current cans to the jam/friend/store and compare with the expensive gear. I did the latter, and should add that the differences were subtle yet still detectable on somebody else's system and music, but very dramatic on my home system where it's most important.

    You still need to learn how to properly apply reverb, panning, EQ, etc. and whatever other tricks you can learn to sell the orchestral illusion.
    Sorry, this is a different topic. Reverb and panning will not save a sound distorted to an unpleasant degree by one's headphones.

  7. #7

    Re: How to make GPO sound better, a lot better

    That's a great success story to read, Doug. It's the perfect example of how we don't know what we're missing in music until we hear it played back decently.

    It's too bad we can't edit our subject lines here on the Forum. I clicked on your post thinking it was going to be another thread of the infamous "How GPO could be 100% better" ilk--or whatever that was called. The OP on that thread wanted more samples in the GPO instruments, and a long thread developed explaining why that wasn't either practical or possible.

    A more accurate subject line for your post would be "New headphones!--I can finally hear GPO!" Oh well, it's OK.

    I take it you're in a situation where using headphones is your only option, in which case getting the best ones you can afford, as you did, is an excellent plan.

    Headphones, no matter how good, will always be second choice to monitoring over speakers though. I only use headphones when I'm working at a time that could disturb the neighbors with my speakers on.

    So many things happen while listening on headphones, like an exaggerated perception of stereo, ear fatigue setting in fairly fast which can lead to wrong mixing choices, even the way sound resonates through bone changes the way the same sound comes across in the air.

    Invaluable tools, headphones, even though no pro engineer would recommend relying on them completely.

    I'm just glad you're finally hearing GPO accurately after all these years. Now - that's one heck of an instrument library hummmmm? Yeah!

    Randy B.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Just north of Sydney
    Posts
    272

    Re: How to make GPO sound better, a lot better

    G’day Doug,

    I am really glad to hear about your success with your brand new AKG K702.

    You said:

    “And my K702 does not even have two hours of burn-in yet.”

    Electronic (solid state) and electro mechanical devices do not burn in. Mechanical devices wear over time.


    Best wishes,

    Herbert
    GPO, JABB, CMB, GWI, GOFRILLER, HALION PLAYER, ACCORDIONS by E Tarilonte
    Cubase 6, Notation Composer, VSTHost, GoldWave audio editor.

    Interests:
    Good Food, Gemütlichkeit, Wein Weib und Gesang – History, Politics, Civil Law –
    Electronics, Software Development, Physics – Plant Physiology, Creative Horticulture –
    Photography, Painting, Wood Working - Midi Orchestration, Music, Music, und Musik …

  9. #9

    Re: How to make GPO sound better, a lot better

    Doug - The "burn in" thing is interesting. Some think it's pure hokum, as un-true as the Monster Cable claim that their expensive cables deliver better sound to speakers.

    Here are opposing views on headphone burn in from the internet:

    "...When speaking of headphones, ‘burn in’ is the term used for the settling oft he design parameters of the diaphragms into their intended state. The physical process is that the diaphragms loosen up through use and eventually reach a point that could be considered final. A similar situation is breaking in a new pair of shoes...
    Fresh out of the box, a pair of headphones may not sound as good as a well used pair, as the designers have intended. Often, people want their headphones to sound the way that they are intended as soon as possible. Most people don’t want to wait for weeks or months of regular use, so the choice is to expedite burn in by getting the process over with in the first week of ownership. Others choose to listen to their headphones as they change over the burn in period..."

    And:

    "...There is no strong scientifically-testable evidence to support the theory that speaker (and thus headphone) break-in affects the sound of a speaker in a significant way. Blind A/B comparisons between brand-new speakers and one with hours and hours of playtime show that listeners are unable to discern between the two with anything better than random chance -- i.e. no statistical significance.

    It's your ears/brain that "break-in" and get accustomed to the different way in which new/difference equipment reproduces the music much more than any actual physical changes in the drivers..."

    Randy

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Just north of Sydney
    Posts
    272

    Re: How to make GPO sound better, a lot better

    G’day Randy,

    There is certainly a lot of misinformation and there are wrong beliefs in relation to audio components.

    You said:

    “ … Monster Cable claim that their expensive cables deliver better sound to speakers.”

    This could be so, depending on the situation. Speakers have a very low impedance of only 4 or 8 Ohm usually. The total resistance of the speaker wires need to be much lower say 5% of the speaker impedance or less. The requirements of heavy speaker cables are not normally set by the power of the system, but by the requirement that speakers must be driven each by a very low impedance, to dampen resonances of the speakers for good sound quality. Any excessive resistance of the speaker cables is likely to reduce sound quality.

    In a home system with the speakers only one or two meters away from the power amp, relatively low gauge wires might do. For any substantial installation, it pays to do some simple calculations. The speaker wire supplier needs to tell you the resistance per metre. You double this figure to allow for the two cores of the cable assembly and multiply the result with the cable’s length. The calculated resistance of the cable needs to be very low compared to the speaker impedance.

    Mostly, for engagements, I take my own sound system along. I use passive speakers and some real monster cables to cope with larger stages where cable length exceeds ordinary installations.

    You said:

    ...There is no strong scientifically-testable evidence to support the theory that speaker (and thus headphone) break-in affects the sound of a speaker in a significant way”.

    There is no evidence at all. It makes no sense.


    Best wishes,

    Herbert
    Last edited by sonata5920; 06-13-2010 at 07:30 AM. Reason: formating
    GPO, JABB, CMB, GWI, GOFRILLER, HALION PLAYER, ACCORDIONS by E Tarilonte
    Cubase 6, Notation Composer, VSTHost, GoldWave audio editor.

    Interests:
    Good Food, Gemütlichkeit, Wein Weib und Gesang – History, Politics, Civil Law –
    Electronics, Software Development, Physics – Plant Physiology, Creative Horticulture –
    Photography, Painting, Wood Working - Midi Orchestration, Music, Music, und Musik …

Go Back to forum

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •