Originally Posted by Justin Uthadude
This is a great subject. I’m kinda tired of reading the ‘is the HD600 better than the HD650?’ kind of threads. Thanks Zelak. Bangraman, I hope you will reply again also.
I have some questions I’m hoping someone can address.
Let’s assume perfect or even textbook close hearing is not that common. Each of us has a slightly different hearing response curve. A certain head-fier has a love for oboes, but he doesn’t realize that his hearing is down 5dB at that frequency range where one would normally hear oboes. Every pair of headphones he has tried make oboes sound muffled and therefore he finds unsatisfactory. Then he stumbles onto the Sony Model 5B, which unbeknownst to him, has a response curve that has a 5dB shelf in that same ‘oboe range’. Voila! He has found the perfect headphone. (And depending on his fanboy quotient, tells the rest of us these are the best headphones in the world, and we need to get a pair, he knows since he has tried every pair made.) Actually, he has subjectively stumbled onto a hp that ‘equalizes’ the sound for his hearing. Right? Is the result any less valid than if Bangraman or myself did it by having an audiologist check our ears and then we looked for the measurably symmetrical headphone?
Now along comes another head-fier, tries the Model 5B’s and finds them honky in some way, they sound like crap, in fact he measures them and lo and behold the response curve verifies that they are crappy headphones. How can people have such bad taste he thinks.
One step further. What if the Sony Model 5B didn’t exist, and he instead stumbled onto an audiophile quality graphic equalizer? While playing with it, he found that the ‘reference’ headphones which everyone says are the cat’s meow, but sounded as bad as all the rest to him, suddenly sounded incredible when he inadvertently boosted the ‘oboe frequencies’ by 5dB? Has he not effectively accomplished the same thing; frequency matching so to speak? We know that all the music we listen to, with the exception of live music, has been EQ’d to death before we get it, yet EQ’ing by us after the fact is pretty much disparaged by the general masses here. Why is one better than the other? Is not EQ’ing the soundwaves kind of analogous to what my eyeglasses are doing for the lightwaves? (yes, admittedly good vision is easier to quantify than good sound).
Could any of this be actual and even commonplace? Might this type of thing partially explain some of the wildly divergent opinions we read here, or am I chasing the wrong rabbit . . .again?
You are chasing the wrong rabbit. Taking your example with someone down on -5db at "oboe freq" (OF). If this person attends a live concert with OF - this person will still hear the OF at -5db. Providing for accurate recording of source, if the headphone is boosted at OF by 5db - it will sound inaccurate as it was heard live at -5d - a boost of 5db means he hears it at 0db - which is inaccurate to the concert - heard at -5db. Defective hearer still hears this inaccurate 5db boost.
Paying for a hearing test will not aid you in your pursuit of musical enjoyment. Everyone has a built in audio reference that is as perfect as can be. Its called reality. I challenge all to emerge from their cocoons and to venture out and just close your eyes and absorb the natural sounds around you - the subway trains, buses, footsteps, birds - everything, every sound, savor them, all of them.
Why do some enjoy some phones more than others? Subjective preference - nothing more. The oboe player having referenced an entire musical career with an oboe blowing at the ears - referencing the rest of the band at a further distance will think the 5db boost at OF is the finest headphone ever assembled by mankind.
That is just my opinion, nothing more.