Wednesday, September 21, 2005

What the fall-off sounds like

Here's a brief test for everyone who's thinking about buying the Cowon iAudio X5 and concerned about the fall-off effects of the Line Out... and wondering what it sounds like.

The music is from approximately 4:00 to 4:30 of the track "The Missed Symphony" of Infected Mushroom's Classical Mushroom (this is an amazon link) in 192K MP3. Well worth buying by the way if you have any interest in electronica. I've chosen this music because the effects of the falloff are most apparent in heavily beat-based music like this.

Both exerpts were recorded directly out of the X5 from the headphone socket (40 volume, all FX off, no EQ) and the Line Out socket on the subpack, going into a soundcard with a line-level input impedance.

Here's sample 1
Here's sample 2

Guess the Line Out with bass falloff (no need to post your guesses here though). It should be obvious... at least it is on the headphones/amps I use, but whether it bothers you is something according to your own tastes.

If you can't hear a difference, it's probably because your headphones /speakers have a boosted mid-bass response which is obscuring the differences in the lower bass regions, or that your phones / speakers aren't able to depict lower bass (either issue is not uncommon on lower-end consumer gear). In which case the falloff effect doesn't really disadvantage you in a practical context.

As you can hear either way though, the falloff-afflicted output doesn't sound noticeably more 'terrible' as some might whinge (too much time in RMAA, not enough time listening). But clearly it needs to be fixed because an EQ boost can't compensate for it, because all that would happen is that the EQ will boost up to the point of the falloff curve.

The track excerpt is not used with permission, although arguably speaking it falls within fair use. If anyone concerned has a problem with it, please drop me a private message at Head-Fi and I'll upload something else.
PS. The first sample is the line out.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the sample B-man.

Now, we have to bribe you to build your own lineout adaptor with one of the Gomadic plugs, to see if the problem lies inside the subpack or not, and if bypassing whatever components are in-line in the subpack would affect the issue.

-Dan (dwc)

Anonymous said...

I noticed immediately the falloff from sample 1 with cheap logitech 20$ 2.1 speakers. I guess I'll look elsewhere for a DAP to use my E5's with.