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EQ

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
In a recent thread I wanted to discuss what good sound really is, or rather, what a good headphone really is. People eventually ended up saying that "what's good is good", which is, when you think about it, a pretty good argument.
So I was thinking, if good sound is only what sounds good, then it can't really matter how you obtain that good sound. Me, for example, I'm a sucker for treble, and I think every headphone I ever heard had too little treble (or perhaps all the recording I ever heard had too little treble?).
The good news is that I don't have to spend a lot of money to get a headphone with the exact amount of treble I want - I can just add a little treble on my equalizer! Isn't that great? People buy new and ridiculously expensive headphones because "there's not enough bass", when all the bass in the world is within reach of your hand.
I searched the post on this forum dedicated to the art of sound, and didn't find one single post about EQ.
Isn't that weird? Is there something wrong with EQ? Isn't good sound what sounds good?
post #2 of 29
fidelity has more to do with than just quantity of bass and freq response, there are subtleties involved such as articulation and texture (detail within detail)

if something doesn't have the ability to portray those things EQ isn't going to magically bring those aspects onto the table...

low loud/quiet a certain band is is not the only thing that dictates the sound signature of a given product. there are other things involved that all make a difference. which is why there are so many different models that sound not so alike.
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
And if you have articulation and texture and just want to accentuate the treble a little more?
post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
(I said, pretending to know what "articulation and texture" means in a context of sound)
post #5 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by flordenuve View Post

a) Isn't that weird?

b) Is there something wrong with EQ?

c) Isn't good sound what sounds good?

a) In this hobby, it's pretty normal.

b) I don't think there is anything wrong technically competent digital EQ. If someone says otherwise, have them prove it to you.

c) That's not really a meaningful question. It gives rise to circular arguments. But digital equalization will start you down the path to asking meaningful audio questions. Be prepared--the learning curve is steep.

Generally, you're very much on the right track--minor or moderate adjustments to treble and bass levels in good headphones are typically matters of personal taste and there are no generally accepted right or wrong levels within a certain range, IMHO.
post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve999 View Post
a) In this hobby, it's pretty normal.

b) I don't think there is anything wrong technically competent digital EQ. If someone says otherwise, have them prove it to you.

c) That's not really a meaningful question. It gives rise to circular arguments. But digital equalization will start you down the path to asking meaningful audio questions. Be prepared--the learning curve is steep.

Generally, you're very much on the right track--minor or moderate adjustments to treble and bass levels in good headphones are typically matters of personal taste and there are no generally accepted right or wrong levels within a certain range, IMHO.
EXCELLENT response!
post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by panda View Post
fidelity has more to do with than just quantity of bass and freq response, there are subtleties involved such as articulation and texture (detail within detail)
Those things actually do have to do with obtaining a proper frequency balance. There's a psycho-acoustic principle callled "frequency masking" that can make a big difference in the amount of detail. The basic idea is that if certain frequencies are imbalanced, even as little as 3 to 5 dB, it can mask frequencies an octave up.

A friend of mine gave me a vivid demonstration of this. He had his speakers perfectly balanced to flat for his listening room. He went to his equalizer and did a slight boost to the midrange. Suddenly the brightness of the sound fell away completely and it sounded muffled. The midrange sounded about the same. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't witnessed it.

Balanced frequency response is the best for overall detail.

See ya
Steve
post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
Those things actually do have to do with obtaining a proper frequency balance. There's a psycho-acoustic principle callled "frequency masking" that can make a big difference in the amount of detail. The basic idea is that if certain frequencies are imbalanced, even as little as 3 to 5 dB, it can mask frequencies an octave up.

A friend of mine gave me a vivid demonstration of this. He had his speakers perfectly balanced to flat for his listening room. He went to his equalizer and did a slight boost to the midrange. Suddenly the brightness of the sound fell away completely and it sounded muffled. The midrange sounded about the same. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't witnessed it.

Balanced frequency response is the best for overall detail.

See ya
Steve
This is the main argument against eq, which I tried to make on another thread about eq usage. I didn't realize that it actually had a technical name. My experience is that the frequency masking you describe is an artifact of the use of equalizers. IMO better to use hardware eq to get sound signature that you desire, that is, select components to balance the sound in the direction you want.
post #9 of 29
Quote:
There's a psycho-acoustic principle callled "frequency masking" that can make a big difference in the amount of detail. The basic idea is that if certain frequencies are imbalanced, even as little as 3 to 5 dB, it can mask frequencies an octave up.
This is so true. I've noticed this effect on every headphone that I've used, especially when comparing my old SR-60s with my HD-650s, and also with my new STAX cans. I always felt that the HD-650 had significantly better high-frequency extension than the SR-60s, but later I realized that this effect occurred because the strong upper midrange masked the higher frequencies.

With my Lambda's there is a strong 5.5dB peak at almost exactly 7400hz, and a smaller one at 13.5kHz. EQing them out drastically increased overall smoothness and transparency.
post #10 of 29
i am a firm believer in eq for minor things, but you can only eq so much. this is why i try to go for the most neutral headphone i can, and eq minor things - larger width is better.

see what i wrote here:
Potentially good idea for improving sound out of cheaper headphones - Page 2 - Head-Fi: Covering Headphones, Earphones and Portable Audio
post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by hew View Post
This is the main argument against eq, which I tried to make on another thread about eq usage. I didn't realize that it actually had a technical name.
You're wrong. There is no way to correct for minor frequency response deviations and eliminate masking effects without precise equalization. Trying to balance response with "component matching" would be like trying to build the Golden Gate Bridge with an overripe banana. You need the proper tools.

See ya
Steve
post #12 of 29
Now that's an amusing mental image right there.
post #13 of 29
Using eq to fix sound is like peeing into the wind from the golden gate bridge, but if you like to play with knobs thats fine - to each his own. Btw, i love bananas.
post #14 of 29
hey, it's like putting R-Type stickers on honda civics, instantly turns it into an acura rsx!
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by hew View Post
Using eq to fix sound is like peeing into the wind from the golden gate bridge, but if you like to play with knobs thats fine - to each his own. Btw, i love bananas.
It's much more sophisticated than playing with knobs. I had to use pink and white noise, frequency sweeps, and several individual sine wave files and at least a few hours of testing and fine tuning to eventually come the equalization setup that I have now.



No amount of playing with hardware setups could ever deliver such precise results.
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