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How bad is .2% THD (1 Viewer)

Norman L

Second Unit
Joined
Feb 19, 2002
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261
The Pioneer 811S is rated with .2% THD

How bad is .2% THD?

Do you hear distortion at only high volume?

Do you hear hiss at high volume or moderate volume?
 

ThomasL

Supporting Actor
Joined
Mar 13, 2001
Messages
963
Norman, I've wondered the same thing. When I put my ear up to my front speakers with no source playing and in cd mode, I can hear a slight hiss. I don't know if this is related to the THD rating or not. I thought I remember someone in another thread awhile ago said that they read that the human ear can't distinguish THD below 2 percent. This is from the Yamaha FAQ page in the general questions section
http://www.yamaha.com/yec/customer/f...ral/faq13b.htm
and seems to confirm this:
"The THD spec stands for Total Harmonic Distortion. This
is the amount of distortion the amplifier will introduce into the original signal. Any high quality amp made today has extremely low distortion ratings. The human ear cannot
hear anything under 2%. For the most part, when you are
considering purchasing an amplifier, you can disregard
the THD specifications."
cheers,
--tom
 

AntonS

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Dec 18, 2001
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THD is not a hiss. It's how much 2nd and 3rd harmonics is introduced into the sound. For example, if you play a single 1kHz tone (a sine wave), you are supposed to listen (and see with spectrum analyzer on the outputs) only this tone. Instead, when THD is high, on the outputs you will see the 1kHz tone plus 2hHz, 3Khz, 4kHz, 6kHz tones - these are called harmonics. The energy of these harmonics is much smaller than that of the main tone, but if they are too big you'll actually hear that the sound is "colored". So the higher is the THD, the more unnecessary coloration is introduced into the sounds.
 

Ferran Mazzanti

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May 15, 2002
Messages
104
AntonS,
that's perfectly right. Harmonic distortion is exactly what you say, but what's under the question here is what's the lowest THD the human ear can notice. That's something that honetly I don0t know, 'cause I've heard many times that long ago (in the 60's and 70's) a THD of about 0.1 was considered to be extraordinarily good, while other people say that 0.1 is really horrible. I do believe that 0.1 (and 0.2) is certainly unnoticeable, and that you'll first notice other defficiencies in the unit rather than that, but I can't tell for sure... Furthermore, I do believe that you *might* notice the effect of high THD while listening to pure sinusoidal waves, which you never do! We all hear music and movies, and that far from being a single and pure Fourier mode...
 

AntonS

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Dec 18, 2001
Messages
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I cannot come up with the actual number when the harmonics begin to be audible. I'd say >1%-2%. 0.2% is not audible by itself, but the bad thing about harmonics is that they add up. If something else in the system also introduces a lot of harmonisc (CD player, speakers), then in the end you may have pretty high THD and the sound may become muddy. So generally you don't want to have too many equipment in a chain with high THDs.
 

Ferran Mazzanti

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
May 15, 2002
Messages
104
Oh, I never come to think that. Could you please clarify a little bit more? You say you should not put too many equipment in a chain because that make THD increase... what do you mean exactly? Receivers are though to allow for lots of different units connected to it, but I would say you only use one thing at a time (besides the speakers): the CD when listening to music, the DVD when watching movies, etc...
 

Mark Tranchant

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Joined
May 9, 2002
Messages
126
The Total Harmonic Distortion (sum of all the harmonics) is also not a very good measure of perceived distortion. Even-order harmonics, especially powers of two, are much "warmer" sounding than the harsher odd-order harmonics.

The second harmonic is an octave above the fundamental, and blends in fairly well. The human brain can tolerate very high levels of 2HD, which is why valve amps get away with monstrous THD figures - it's mostly 2HD.

The third harmonic is an octave-and-fifth, which doesn't sound too bad on top of a single sine wave tone, but sounds awful when applied to a complex signal. Solid-state amps tend to produce odd-order HD, which is why you see such small figures quoted.

However, 0.2% THD, even if entirely 3HD, is unlikely to be perceived as distortion. It may affect the overall sound quality perception though.

Note that hiss and hum are noise, and not harmonic distortion. HD is distortion derived from the input signal.
 

Aslam Imran

Second Unit
Joined
Mar 1, 2002
Messages
286
Even musical instruments have harmonic distortion but its all even ordered. Thats the reason 2HD from tube gear blends nicely with the music as the brain can't distinguish it from the fundamental note. OTOH odd order distortion is audible to the brain even in small amounts as it is perceived by the brain as harshness.

I am wondering if one were to grow up never listening to real instruments and only to ss Bose gear (with incredible odd order distortion that never gets quoted in their spec sheets), would his/her brain be accustomed to odd order distortion so when he listens to Bose gear he finds it warm and rich? Would he then percieve tube gear as 'harsh' sounding?

Just curious.
 

AntonS

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Dec 18, 2001
Messages
164
Ferran, what I mean in chain is that if you have your CD player with high THD (let's say 0.3%) hooked to a receiver that adds 0.2% and then maybe you have an equalizer with 0.2% (it's 0.7% already) and then your speaker drivers add more, then you may be in trouble. Especially if they all add a lot of odd harmonics.

Btw, music is based on harmonics. Musical chords are basically harmonics of the main tone. Every instrument produces tons of harmonics. Human voice is full of harmonics. Thats why they sound so different and so good. But they are all "good" harmonics, as was mentioned earlier. THD spec has to be strict on mostly "bad" (odd) harnmonics.
 

Norman L

Second Unit
Joined
Feb 19, 2002
Messages
261
Aslam, Anton

Is it reason not to buy a receiver at $300 with all the bells and whistles 6.1, preouts, etc due to the .2% THD?
or is it not that important for a bedroom HT setup.
95% Movies and TV / 5% Music
 

Saurav

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2001
Messages
2,174
Has anyone ever wondered why no speaker manufacturer lists THD specs? The distortion numbers of speakers are so much worse than any other component in the signal chain, and simple things like placement and room damping make such a difference in the sound, that I really don't see how a difference between .2% and .1% THD would be audible in a normal listening room. Of course, some people just need to have gear with good numbers, and in that case .2% THD is twice as bad as .1% THD, and anything above .01% is intolerable anyway.
 

Aslam Imran

Second Unit
Joined
Mar 1, 2002
Messages
286
Is it reason not to buy a receiver at $300 with all the bells and whistles 6.1, preouts, etc due to the .2% THD?
No, like Saurav said speakers have more distortion than any other component down the chain.

Saurav,
I think B&W lists the distortion specs for their speakers, if I am correct. Others, am I correct?
 

Saurav

Senior HTF Member
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Feb 15, 2001
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Hm, I was wondering if I should have said "almost no manufacturer". So the Nautilus 800 has an order of magnitude more distortion than a budget receiver. And how much do those speakers cost again? :)
 

Samuel Des

Supporting Actor
Joined
Feb 7, 2001
Messages
796
So is the Signal to Noise ration the measure of the "silent hiss?" i.e., the hiss that one hears when there is no source playing?
 

John Kotches

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2000
Messages
2,635
Aslam,

You said this:
Even musical instruments have harmonic distortion but its all even ordered. Thats the reason 2HD from tube gear blends nicely with the music as the brain can't distinguish it from the fundamental note. OTOH odd order distortion is audible to the brain even in small amounts as it is perceived by the brain as harshness.
This is in the "close but no cigar" category.

Instruments have fundamentals and overtones, it isn't distortion it's part of the natural sound of the instrument.

Further, different instruments have different fundamental and harmonic structures, and it is decidedly not mostly 2nd. Take the Clarinet as a perfect example. The 1st overtone produced from this instrument is the 3rd order (octave and a 5th). If you use an oscilloscope to capture the sound of a clarinet, it looks very similar to a sawtooth/triangle wave, because of the absence of the 2nd order overtone.

Take an instrument like trumpet: It's harmonic signature varies depending on whether it's got a straight mute, harmon mute, cup mute, or the bell is au natural.

Even electric guitars get different harmonic/overtone signatures based on their construction, which is why hollow bodied sounds different from solidy body, etc, etc,etc.

I just wanted to clarify what's going on from a harmonics standpoint.

Regards,
 

Larry B

Screenwriter
Joined
Nov 8, 2001
Messages
1,067
Saurav:

And how much do those speakers cost again?
The Signature model is about $20K, $4000 less if you forego the ugly "tiger stripes".

BTW, most agree that the 800 is the best speaker B&W has ever made. (But like all other B&W models, I personally don't really care for it.)

Larry
 

Michael R Price

Screenwriter
Joined
Jul 22, 2001
Messages
1,591
I think most speakers except horns and very large direct-radiators usually produce embarrasingly high amounts of THD and IMD, several percent I think I read somewhere. (If anyone has actual numbers, I'm quite curious.) Don't worry about the THD of your electronics.
 

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