Potentially interesting hearing experiment

I came across a song that has a sound that I can hear when listening to speakers but not headphones.

Before you bang out that reply telling me how crappy my equipment is, hear me out.

The song is Heir by Public Memory. The sound in question is a metallic tapping that begins at 0:33.

I tried several combinations of equipment I had on hand and the results were always the same.

Determined to solve this puzzle I started changing the position of the headphones. I found that if I took the headphones off my ear and pointed them at my ear from the front I could hear the sound!

I’m curious if other people experience the same thing or if this is yet another artifact of my messed up hearing.


The entire track from the start through 0:33 is largely metallic tapping/chimes/bells. Some other tones do enter at that point. Perhaps you can elaborate about the specific sound and when it might go away later in the track?

It’s a repeating click, like an old-fashioned mechanical metronome. Seems to be on the half-notes.

Lasts for pretty much the entire track but is less apparent in the busier parts.

Cool song, nice for testing treble! I think I hear the tapping you’re talking about, sounds almost like someone snapping their fingers? What headphones are you using?

The half-note click is very obvious with my Focal Clear. It sounds like someone tapping a drumstick on the edge of a drum to me. Interesting song, yes.

I can hear it on my Stellia, listening to the song on YouTube.

I really like that song. I’ve let YouTube play more by the band and it all sounds good. If I wanted to buy something by Public Memory, would you suggest starting at the beginning or getting the latest?

I tried AKG K702 and Koss KPH30i (same driver as Porta Pro).

It sounds more metallic to me (and my crappy hearing) but @generic also thinks it’s from the edge of a drum.

I came across the song in a playlist on Qobuz and hadn’t heard of the band before. Sorry I don’t have advice for their history.

Here’s the playlist, which has some other artists with a similar sound:
Qobuz playlist - Smooved & Dark


So far there’s three people who can hear the sound in headphones so starting to look like another quirk of my hearing. Thanks for taking the time to listen and post here.

My freakiest hearing quirk is that when playing sine waves through nearfield speakers most frequencies appear centered of course, but I perceive 2.5khz as hard left and 3.1khz as hard right. Kind of a mess for harmonics and some electronica, part of an instrument on one side and part on the other.

This is steering me toward mentally trying to enjoy what I can of my current headphones rather than budgeting for Clear/ZMF.


I wonder if it would help if you had an amp with crossfeed.

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I have tried some crossfeed software plugins. There is definitely some benefit but they also seem to mangle the sound in various ways.

I have seen some amps with crossfeed but they seem to be a bit pricey for an experiment.

It might come down to picking the lesser evil.

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I’ve used and mentioned this site previously:

You might use their tool to compare headphones and methods. My ears have some side-to-side imbalance in the 8K to 13K range.

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Thanks for the link. I have bookmarked in my browser and will read through the site.

That’s interesting as it’s the other way around mostly for me as something I get from headphones I don’t get from speakers.

Perfect example is this:

At the 00:16 mark a synthy sound comes in and goes back and forth from the right channel to left very quickly causing a really trippy sound. On headphones it’s super detailed and amazing but on speakers a lot of the magic is lost. It happens because you are not dealing with room acoustics and headphones isolate each channel to an extreme degree where as speakers don’t as much.

Just thought I’d check tonight using crossfeed on my headphones and see if the magic is lost.


Cool band! I’ll check them out tonight as they seem like a fun band to listen to on headphones

Yeah I definitely hear it … it’s not faint to me at all. Couldn’t quite tell what the instrument was. Sounded kinda like the rim of a drum but not quite. I looked into the band. It’s a solo project and I’m not sure what instruments the guy plays but listening to a bit of all the other songs on the album it sounds like the drums are electronic ( on this album at least ). Could be why it sounded metallic to you, kinda does to me too. Odd though that it’s faint or hard to hear to you though. Sounds very prominent to me listening on several different headphones and iems. I’m 50 and my hearing is garbage but mainly with upper frequencies. Oddly I can’t hear people talking right next to me if there’s background noise but I can hear a car door shut outside over the tv, low frequencies I can hear. Maybe something like that is going on for your hearing as well.


I see it’s your first post - welcome aboard!

Yes, the hearing quirks can unexpected.

The sound I can hear from far away is water boiling. There can be a phone ringing its butt off that I don’t hear but then I hear the pot ready to make pasta.

Our brain adjusts to our unique ears but I think the separation of left/right of headphones has a different effect when hearing is not ‘normal’.

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Well if nothing else, you definitely generated some income for Public Memory. :moneybag: :moneybag: :moneybag:

I bought both their albums and a single on Bandcamp. It reminds me of Zola Jesus and Fever Ray.


Welcome to the forum @Audiophool!

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In today’s production era it may well be either a distorted recording of a metal drum rim (not quite natural sounding), or a digitally processed real drum, or a synthesized fake drum. After being thrown into a mix there’s no way to tell for sure.

Other parts of the track sound metallic and hollow to my ears.