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Low Volume Help

jw3571

Inspired
I'm using Presonnus Sceptre 8 monitors with my Axe Fx, I can dial great sounding tones when i play louder(85-90db), but i'm struggling to get great sounds at 80db or below which is where i usually play. It's hard to describe but everything sounds muffled. To try to counteract this, i'll try this things:

-Cut the lower bass frequencies, including on the GEQ
-lower master volume
-lower bass on the amp block
-lower transformer match
-increase negative feedback
-increase air% in the cab block

The transformer match and negative feedback have helped more than anything. I can usually get my patches to sound better but I still get that muffled sound. Anything else to try, what do other low volume users do?
 

lqdsnddist

Axe-Master
FM becomes meaningful at very soft levels, but not at 80dB, which is honestly pretty loud. comfortable, but louder than I listen to my S6's at home.

If 80dB is quiet to you, I'd consider having your hearing evaluated because you may have some significant loses at certain frequencies. I test plenty of people who's thresholds around 3 and 4 kHz is at 70 dB or so, which means they can't perceive a sound until its at 70 dB, with "normal" hearing being a threshold of 25 dB or better. There folks usually describes things like music, tv, speech et al, as being muffled or lacking clarity. They perceive low frequencies well, but the sloping high frequency loss gives kind of a blanket over the speaker type of sound. These people usually crank the treble on their stereo to make it sound "normal" and clear, but anyone with better hearing finds it sounds very harsh.

Bottom line is you spend good money for some great monitors (love my S6 more than any I've ever owned in the past) which are meant to produce an accurate reproduction of your tone. If your ears aren't accurate though, and your boosting things trying to fix that deficient, then there isn't much point of good monitors, because what your hearing, and what anyone with normal hearing hears aren't going to sound the same
 

jw3571

Inspired
Interesting. The FM thing doesn't make sense as it sounds like it has way too much bass. I'm sure my hearing isn't perfect but i don't get the same muffled sound when my playing my tube amps at the same levels.
 

jw3571

Inspired
One other question, most of my presets have the saturation switched to off. If i change it to Ideal it sounds much clearer at low volumes. Should I be doing this on all my presets?
 

Rex

Legend!
FM becomes meaningful at very soft levels, but not at 80dB...
Not sure I can agree with that. Looking at the curves, there seems to be meaningful change throughout the range of useful loudness levels. If you compare the 80 phon curve to the 100 phon curve, the relative differences between response at 1 KHz and response at 10 KHz changes by 5 dB.
 

Rex

Legend!
One other question, most of my presets have the saturation switched to off. If i change it to Ideal it sounds much clearer at low volumes.
With Saturation set to Ideal, you're adding distortion. That increases upper mids and makes the tone punch through better. That's why it sounds "clearer," even though it's actually dirtier.


Should I be doing this on all my presets?
You should do it to any preset that it improves. IMO, no change should be applied blindly to all presets.
 

Rex

Legend!
What is the difference between the different saturation options?
"Authentic" works just like the saturation switch on a real amp. It adds distortion. But it also cuts your volume, as an unavoidable consequence of inserting clipping diodes into the circuit. Real amps do that, too. That's why there's an "Ideal" setting that gives you the same distortion without the drop in volume.
 

lqdsnddist

Axe-Master
Not sure I can agree with that. Looking at the curves, there seems to be meaningful change throughout the range of useful loudness levels. If you compare the 80 phon curve to the 100 phon curve, the relative differences between response at 1 KHz and response at 10 KHz changes by 5 dB.
That is true if your looking at 1 kHz vs 10 kHz, however, how much of the guitars spectrum sits at 10 kHz ? Most people high cut around 6 kHz, if not lower, to get more of that "guitar cab sound", so you need to look at the curves more within the 100-6000 Hz range, which is representative for guitar. The differences are massive on the low and high ends of the spectrum, especially at very low levels, of 20 or 30 dB, but no one is likely playing that softly. By the time you get up to modest level of say 50 dB, the curves get pretty flat, and by 60 or 70 things are equal to the extent where most folks aren't noticing a difference.

In graduate school I actually did some experiments for a pyscho-acoustics class project, essentially reproducing the FM experiments done in the 1930's. I had test subjects listen to a tone at a reference level at 1kHz, and then had them judge the required output of a tone at various other frequencies, such as 500 and 1000 Hz, 2000 Hz etc, raising or lowering the intensity until they deemed it equally loud. As we've all learned by now, it takes more intensity at higher and lower frequencies, and less intensity in the reference tone. Just comes down to the response of the typical human ear. My test subjects were all in their 20's, and all had clinically verified normal hearing thresholds. Fletcher and Munson of course tested far more people, so I wasn't trying to overturn their results, basically just recreate the research for the project.

With a decent monitor speaker or pair of headphones, its actually pretty easy to perform the experiment on oneself. The response of the monitor etc, will of course likely skew things a bit, but overall I think most listeners with normal hearing will find the FM effect isn't nearly as significant at typical volume levels as its become on the internet these days, unless we are talking about really, really low levels. 70 or 80 dB at home listening levels, vs 100 or so dB performance levels just aren't the massive change people seem concerned about. 20 dB vs 100 dB for a 5 string bass player ? Big difference, but for a midrange instrument like guitar, and louder than conversational levels vs gig volume, not so much.
 

Rex

Legend!
It’s true that F-M has a more drastic effect at lower levels, but it’s still significant at higher levels. At 5 KHz, the difference between the 80- and 100-phon curves is still 4-5 dB. Which would explain why I have revisit tones I dialed in on my home monitors when I get to the gig. :)
 

lqdsnddist

Axe-Master
I think your way over obsessing about things in all honesty. No one in the audience is going to hear you play and go "hmmm, the guitar isn't sitting right in the 5 kHz range, its about 4-5 dB too intense". I'm not saying your wrong mind you, but just that its pretty easy for musicians to go down an OCD hole of insignificant issues. I had a good buddy who used different cables at different venues, thinking a 10 footer sounded significantly different than a 15 footer...no joke. None of us could hear the slightest difference, and certainly no one in the audience could either (nor even cared remotely enough about who was playing to try), but I'm sure to this day he still will argue there is a difference, even though I bet 50% of the time he'd be wrong guessing which cable was which lol.

Academic discussion is certainly all in good fun though, but in terms of the real world, there are so many variables which can't be readily accounted for it makes things like a 4db difference at 5kHz between 80 and 100 dB patches kind of trivial.

If you came into my office and I tested your hearing, and then we repeated that test an hour later, you would not get the same thresholds. The intra-subject test/retest variability is on average 5dB. Did research experiments on that in grad school as well lol.

Point is, things like how your feeling that day, how much sleep you got, if you've got allergies, what you ate for breakfast, etc can and will affect your hearing. Vision doesn't readily shift, auditory perception does. I've tested and retested thousands of individuals in my career and never have I not gotten at least small threshold shifts, its just the nature of audiometric testing.

As such, I personally think its a bit silly to have patches made for 80 dB vs 100 dB, and a theoretical perceived difference at certain frequency extremes (in terms of guitar) when you could listen to the same patch, at the same level on two different days and end up perceiving as much, if not more, tonal differences.

We've basically known about FM for like 75 years or so, and in several decades playing guitar, its never been a real issue. You'd come into the rehearsal space, plug in, let the amp warm up and play. You'd go to the gig, plug in, turn up the amp, club owner would say turn down, you'd turn down for one song, play, then turn it back up on the second song. At home, you'd turn on, plug in, mom would yell, you'd turn down, play, she'd yell some more, and you'd turn down more, cursing her because its so quiet you can barely hear things lol.

Past year or two, suddenly FM is everyone and totally blown out of proportion. I mean its cool people are taking an interest in my field of audio perception and stuff, but I feel people have gone a bit OCD with it, thinking they need different patches for 70 dB or 80 dB or 100 dB.

Its a cool way to spend one's time, and tuition dollars while earning a doctorate in grad school, but in the real world, it just seems all and all a bit silly to spend precious playing time tweaking patches for minimum audiotory perception curves when we could instead be jamming.

That said, and given the OP is seeming experiencing the opposite issue at lower volume, I guess we will have to just respectfully agree to disagree on this matter. Fun conversion all the same
 
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