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Sennheiser lav audio tinny through computer speakers

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Cameron Zohoori
Sennheiser lav audio tinny through computer speakers
on Dec 20, 2011 at 9:54:11 pm

Hi,

I've got some audio recorded with Sennheiser wireless lavs (can't recall the exact model) and when I play it back through my Senn HD280s plugged into my MacBook Pro, it sounds great. However, playing it back through the laptop speakers, the audio sounds very tinny and one-dimensional. This happens on some other laptops as well, including after I have exported a Final Cut video using this audio. With headphones or external speakers plugged in, it sounds great. Audio in the same video recorded on other mics sounds fine on all speakers, including the laptop.

Any ideas on how to solve this? I'm putting the video online and expecting it to mostly be watched on laptops, so I'm really hoping to figure it out. The data is clearly all there, why does it sound bad only on certain speakers?

Thanks!
Cameron


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Eric Toline
Re: Sennheiser lav audio tinny through computer speakers
on Dec 21, 2011 at 12:43:18 am

Kind of difficult to diagnose the problem without hearing it. Can you post a sample or a link to the piece.

Eric


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Ty Ford
Re: Sennheiser lav audio tinny through computer speakers
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:20:25 am

Hello Cameron and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

It's very common. It's the laws of physics coming to get you. You need to move air to reproduce lower frequencies. Most lap tops don't have that capability. If you raise the low end in FCP to sound good on the lap top, it'll blow out if you playback on a "regular" system.

Best you can do is use a bit of compression and limiting and MAYBE boost the low end a little at whatever upper harmonic frequency to the true bass the small speakers will pass.

Past that, if you want better sound, get a small, amplified set of speakers.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Cow Audio Forum Leader
Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide


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Richard Crowley
Re: Sennheiser lav audio tinny through computer speakers
on Dec 21, 2011 at 7:48:59 am

1) Everything sounds tinny through computer speakers. By definition.

2) Are you sure you aren't combining the channels to mono (and possibly causing partial cancellation)?

You gave no details about HOW you recorded this audio. Have you used this particular combination of microphone, cable, adapter, recorder, etc. before? Did you combine L+R, or just use one (or the other) channel?


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Cameron Zohoori
Re: Sennheiser lav audio tinny through computer speakers
on Dec 21, 2011 at 10:13:09 pm

Thank you all for your prompt responses.

Richard, I think you nailed it - I'm not sure at what point it happened, but it does look like the two channels were canceling each other out; separating them took care of it. Can't believe I didn't notice it.
Thanks so much for what turned out to be a simple fix.

For my education, do any of you know why this problem was extremely noticeable over the terrible computer speakers but wasn't noticeable at all over headphones or better speakers? Do the laptop speakers mix together stereo tracks in a way that headphones don't?


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Eric Toline
Re: Sennheiser lav audio tinny through computer speakers
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:57:26 pm

If it sounds good on headphones plugged into the HP jack on your computer then it should sound good on your comp speakers....or there could be a disconnect problem in the HP jack that connects the speakers when the HP's are pulled from the jack. Keep a set of powered monitors connected to your comp and enjoy better audio.

Eric


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Bill Davis
Re: Sennheiser lav audio tinny through computer speakers
on Dec 22, 2011 at 2:16:49 am

[Cameron Zohoori] "For my education, do any of you know why this problem was extremely noticeable over the terrible computer speakers but wasn't noticeable at all over headphones or better speakers? Do the laptop speakers mix together stereo tracks in a way that headphones don't?
"


Cameron,

It could be classic phase cancellation. When you're listening to two separate signals via headphones, the sound paths are discrete. If whatever cable or device you are using to drive your "computer speakers" is summing those two channels into one MONO feed - and those signals are out of phase they can easily cause bass cancellation.

This same concept is pretty much why every pair of speaker wires properly manufactured has a little ridge, or a color stripe running down one connector - if you wire the positive line (with stripe) to the right terminal of one speaker of the pair - and wire negative line (without stripe) to the right terminal of the other - BINGO - diminished bass response via polarity cancellation!

It's amazing that so many of our young folks who grow up just "plugging stuff in" don't have a clue about fundamental wiring stuff like this. But you're learning and that's what counts in the long run!

Good luck.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Richard Crowley
Re: Sennheiser lav audio tinny through computer speakers
on Dec 22, 2011 at 3:24:21 am

An increasing number of consumer devices (mostly smaller and more portable ones) feature advanced digital diddling of the signal, often with venerable "name brands" attached such as "Dolby", et.al. The attempt is to give you a "better sound experience" by doing wierd things (like combining low frequencies into mono, processing it and then playing through both speakers, etc.) This kind of thing could very well cause symptoms as you are describing in some (but not all) situations.

Note that listening to out-of-phase channels on headphones will never give you the cancellation you will hear when playing through a pair of speakers through the air. Unless you have a big hole through your head.

This kind of out-of-phase problem can also come from trying to use the wrong kind of adapter when coming from an XLR microphone into a stereo 3.5mm mini-phone input, etc. Indeed, there are a dozen different things that could have caused your symptoms, and we don't know half enough about your details to hazard a guess at what it might have been.

But good on you for testing playback on a variety of devices to discover this problem before publishing the final mix.


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Ty Ford
Re: Sennheiser lav audio tinny through computer speakers
on Dec 22, 2011 at 3:50:08 am

Richard, et al,

A few Mac lap tops ago I was importing music CDs so I could burn an MP3 CD with 5 hours of tunes for a party. CSN&Y's "Carry On" sounded like it had been tossed into a phase mixmaster.

The problem was an effect in iTunes called "enhancer."

I suggested they rename it dehancer.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Cow Audio Forum Leader
Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide


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Bill Davis
Re: Sennheiser lav audio tinny through computer speakers
on Dec 24, 2011 at 8:14:39 pm

My phase issues "awakening" moment was reading the liner notes of a Poco album back in the 70s.

They warned that playing a particular track in MONO might cause "problems" for the banjo.

I hit the MONO button on my receiver and damned if the banjo didn't instantly TOTALLY DISAPPEAR from the mix!

I was so fascinated by the effect that I kept brining over friends to demo it.

(now that I look back, I think those who thought it was cool were the friends I hung out with longest at that point in my life, go figure!)

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Ty Ford
Re: Sennheiser lav audio tinny through computer speakers
on Dec 24, 2011 at 8:24:58 pm

Bill,

What fun. Do you remember which LP? I have 4-5 of theirs.

the Yamaha DX-7 keyboard had some very nice patches, but their wideness, too was a function of polarity flop. Mono the mix and POOOF! no DX-7!

Season's best,

Ty Ford

Cow Audio Forum Leader
Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide


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Bill Davis
Re: Sennheiser lav audio tinny through computer speakers
on Dec 25, 2011 at 5:26:48 am

Pickin up the Peces?

Or maybe not, too many years ago to recall, tho I do distinctively recall that either the album cover or the liner notes made specific reference to it which is why I fiddled with it.

And I'm positive it was the banjo part that disappeared, because it was so clearly "on top" of the mix.

(update: my curiosity got the better of me: the web knows all and a search of poco album phase cancelation enearthed a reference... It was Crazy Eyes!)

Have a happy holiday.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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