A little blind listening test: Can you "hear the buffer?"

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by justnick, Mar 6, 2015.

  1. justnick

    justnick Gold Supporting Member

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    In another thread we were discussing whether one can "hear a buffer," assuming the effects of cable capacitance are not in play (i.e. after another buffer or pedal, or with a short cable).

    Here's an audio clip for you to listen to if you feel like playing the game.

    The same, identical guitar phrase, recorded on a looper, is repeated 10 times. In some cases it was played through a mass market pedal with buffered bypass, in some cases it went through a pedal in true bypass. See if you can tell which is which.

    If you don't trust the streaming on Bandcamp you can download the clip in a lossless format.


    https://justnickguitar.bandcamp.com/...omparison-test
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2015
  2. Skreddy

    Skreddy Member

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    I was gonna say it's not really a proper comparison since the phrase is already going through a looper and has already passed through multiple stages of various buffer/gain and a-d/d-a conversion. But then I listened, and there are indeed two distinct sounds. The first is louder and brighter and ever-so-slightly compressed, and the second is warmer, slightly quieter, and more dynamic and "organic" sounding. They both sound good, though; just a matter of which one you prefer for the context and what effect you want to achieve.
     
  3. chankgeez

    chankgeez Member

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    From now on I'm reading all of justnick's posts in the voice of Werner Herzog.
     
  4. tremolo3

    tremolo3 Member

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    Sounds like you are just making small adjustments with your "high" knob. But is so insignificant that I don't care; I will add reverb, delay, overdrive, another fuzzy guitar, bass and drums anyways.
     
  5. DaveKS

    DaveKS Member

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    Well you really should have just asked if we could hear the difference without giving the buffer qualifier in the header. Once you throw that buffer moniker out there your subject group is already tainted, especially around here.

    But yes I could hear the difference, one a little more sparkly, fuller range and dynamic sounding.
     
  6. justnick

    justnick Gold Supporting Member

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    The clips are each repeated 5 times in a random order. Can you specify which clips in the order correspond to the two sounds? Thanks!
     
  7. MilwMark

    MilwMark Member

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    Just so I understand - you played the clip into a looper once. Then you repeated the clip in the looper, once with a buffered pedal in line and once with a TBP pedal in line, then played each 5x in random order on the clip?

    In any case, each either sounded exactly the same, or like 10 slightly different clips! I can't tell you which. And that tells you how reliable my ears and memory are. :facepalm Seriously though - by the time I'm 2-3 seconds into each clip, I can't remember the prior clip. I suspect if the differences were really apparent, I'd be able to, but who knows?
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2015
  8. Jet Age Eric

    Jet Age Eric Member

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    I agree with Skreddy's characterization.

    Listening only once, on my laptop's speakers, with the first one being "a" and the second one being "b" (how awful would it be if the first two are the same?):


    1 a
    2 b
    3 b
    4 a
    5 ?
    6 b
    7 ?
    8 b
    9 a
    10 b
     
  9. justnick

    justnick Gold Supporting Member

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    You have no idea how much I wish you would, and please record that.
     
  10. wookiefoot

    wookiefoot Gold Supporting Member

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    One listen with decent headphones:

    clips - 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 (Buffered)
     
  11. analogmike

    analogmike Gold Supporting Member

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    Agree, it's already a buffered signal. The test is a valid way to see if the buffer in the buffered pedal sounds good though. But not valid to compare buffered to unbuffered.
     
  12. Shiny_Beast

    Shiny_Beast Member

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    assuming it's the same link as the other thread I guessed this

    1) surprisingly the first signal sounded authentic,
    2) constrained.
    3) constrained.
    4) natural
    5) constrained
    6) constrained
    7) natural
    8) natural (starting to lose it now)
    9) constrained
    10) natural

    edit:
    just did it again trying to listen to more the mids and top end got the first 5 the same. Knowing these files probably null out to almost nothing I kind of feel like the goat being fed to the trex.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2015
  13. SirGilmour

    SirGilmour Supporting Member

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    I am going to call JustNick "JustBlindTest" from here on out.
     
  14. Skreddy

    Skreddy Member

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    Definitely easier to tell the difference on laptop speaker. I d/l'd the lossless version to try again on my hifi, and no way. My ears are fatigued now.
     
  15. chankgeez

    chankgeez Member

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    :roll

    I knew you'd appreciate that. :D
     
  16. to_be_released

    to_be_released Member

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    I mostly agree.

    Cable capacitance will always have some effect, but that effect is much greater if the output impedance of the input to the cable is higher. There will be a slight difference between

    low impedence output -> 50 foot cable -> amplifier

    and

    low impedence output -> 25 foot cable -> buffer -> 25 foot cable -> amplifier

    but there will be a much more noticeable difference between

    high impedence output -> 50 foot cable -> amplifier

    and

    high impedence output -> 25 foot cable -> buffer -> 25 foot cable -> amplifier

    Because guitar pickups have a high output impedence we usually discuss the latter situation, but there will still be a (much smaller) difference in the former (albeit the difference may be below the threshold of perception).

    Perhaps, to make Nick's test more representative of the second scenario here (because that's mostly what we're more interested in), someone could build a buffer type device with an intentionally high output impedance. You could then place that directly after the looper, to simulate the high impedance output of guitar pickups. It's been a while since I checked, but I seem to recall that it is possible to buy such a thing, to help with old school fuzzes placed later in a pedal chain.
     
  17. justnick

    justnick Gold Supporting Member

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    I understand that we aren't seeing the (very audible) effects of using a buffer to decouple a cable's capacitance from passive pickups. But why is this not a valid comparison of buffered/un-buffered chain? We are providing an audio signal from a low impedance source (the looper) in both cases; the input of the buffer and/or audio interface have "no idea" if the signal is from a guitar (say, with active pickups) or a looper. Why would that make a difference?
     
  18. justnick

    justnick Gold Supporting Member

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    Just to be clear, there is no question that buffers radically alter the sound of passive pickups connected to a longer cable run. This test has nothing to do with that.

    This test came about in response to claims in another thread that a buffer in line is clearly audible even when cable capacitance is not an issue. The point here was to remove cable capacitance and the loading of passive pickups as a variable.
     
  19. to_be_released

    to_be_released Member

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    My listening results:

    a
    b
    a
    a
    b
    b
    b
    a
    a
    b

    I found a to have more treble, and as such, I expect it to be the buffered version.
     
  20. Skreddy

    Skreddy Member

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    How about "no."
     

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