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Testing audiophile claims and myths - Page 11

post #151 of 3201

So what are the scientific evidence that they have a different sound ? And what do you mean by different sound BTW...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man View Post
There is no scientific evidence that electrostatic headphones are best, just that they are different.
post #152 of 3201
Thread Starter 

The evidence that states headphoneshave a different sound is best shown here

 

http://www.headphone.com/learning-center/about-headphone-measurements.php

 

where you see the different frequency responses of lots of different headphones. Electro-static speakers are known to struggle with low frequencies and not do bass as deeply or with such impact as dynamic headphones.

 

As for different, I prefer the sound of the Sennheiser HD201s rather than the tuned for bass HD202s. To some the bigger bass of the HD202s makes them better. I would say that it just makes them different.


Edited by Prog Rock Man - 10/10/10 at 10:59am
post #153 of 3201
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post

Electrostats sound nothing like dynamics. I heard my first electrostat a few months ago and it was so very different from any dynamic headphones I have ever heard. I spent hours comparing the Stax 007 MK2 (powered by the 717 amp) to various high-end dynamic headphones like the D7000, Alessandro Pro, HD800, W1000X, DX1000...etc and the flagship Stax just completely and utterly destroyed them in terms of musicality, clarity, detail, texture, holographic imaging, presence, and so on. If you know anything about high-end studio microphones, then it's exactly like the difference between dynamic mics and condenser mics--two very different sounding technologies running on different principles and designs. This is nothing like cables or amps or whatever--this is two completely different sounding technologies.

 

But keep in mind that I listened to one of the finest electrotats every made and the flagship product from Stax. I have never heard the entry or mid-level electrostats and cannot say if they sound similar to the 007mk2.



Isn't this hyperbole, big time????

 

It's only so much one can become accurate to the true sound one hears without using electronics and diaphragms to reproduce it.

 

How can two supposedly accurate reproductions sound completely different with one utterly destroying the other??  Geeez 

 

.... and no, I've not heard electrostats, but yes, I've heard cans that were preceded by similar hyperbole and had to smile.  While there may or may not be improvements, it's never a night and day situation with one sounding nothing like the other.  It can all be so misleading which lends itself to unnecessary spending secondary to overinflated hopes and expectations.

post #154 of 3201

The FR of most 'stats I've seen look like there's a steep high pass filter to kill sub bass. This (inherent!) lack of ability to reproduce deep bass is, imo, what makes many think that 'stats are somehow "faster".


Edited by xnor - 10/10/10 at 11:57am
post #155 of 3201

Prog Rock Man : So the evidence relies on different FR patterns for stats and dynamics... right ?

 

Lunatique : Thanks for this opinion. I've also listened to Staxes, but I was unable to compare them back to back with my actual phones. Now, I'm looking for scientific evidence of superority, not only differences. The kind of audible evidence you get by blind testing. Are you aware of such tests that have demonstrated a net preference for stats or dynamics ? Actually, I can see many musicians and sound engineers using stat mikes, but it looks like most of them use dynamic headphones. Someone here could validate this ?

post #156 of 3201


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Headdie View Post

Actually, I can see many musicians and sound engineers using stat mikes, but it looks like most of them use dynamic headphones. Someone here could validate this ?

 

Any professional's default position is to choose cheap, durable and reliable equipment, unless there is a very, very good reason to go for better stuff.  With microphones - in the studio - there is such a reason.  With headphones, there isn't.  Pro headphones are used for specific reasons ... for a singer to hear a click track or a backing track, or for an engineer to hear subway rumble or HVAC noise, etc - almost yes/no propositions where SQ is irrelevant.  It's rare for anything to be mixed on headphones, but on those rare occasions a producer might well unbox his or her fragile stats and use them.
 

post #157 of 3201
Quote:

Originally Posted by aimlink View Post

 

Isn't this hyperbole, big time????

 

It's only so much one can become accurate to the true sound one hears without using electronics and diaphragms to reproduce it.

 

How can two supposedly accurate reproductions sound completely different with one utterly destroying the other??  Geeez 

 

.... and no, I've not heard electrostats, but yes, I've heard cans that were preceded by similar hyperbole and had to smile.  While there may or may not be improvements, it's never a night and day situation with one sounding nothing like the other.  It can all be so misleading which lends itself to unnecessary spending secondary to overinflated hopes and expectations.


If you know me from my posts here, you know that I hate hyperbole. I always try to be as objective and realistic as I can be about everything in life. It's really hard to explain this with words--you really have to hear it for yourself. While finding a 007mk2 powered by a good amp to audition against other high-end dynamic headphones will be difficult depending on where you live (I had to travel to Taiwan in order to make it happen), there's another much easier test you can try that emulates the kind of differences between a dynamic and electrostatic sound. Just go to your local pro audio shop and ask to try a good quality condenser mic against a good quality dynamic mic--you'll immediately understand what I'm talking about. I can even do a recording of my voice with a good dynamic mic and a good condenser mic and post it for you to hear the differences--they both sound like me, but they really are night and day different. The two technologies sound so different, yet they both reproduce the same material "accurately." It's got nothing to do with frequency response IMO--it's about the speed at which the driver moves, and the weight/thickness/stiffness of the driver.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

The FR of most 'stats I've seen look like there's a steep high pass filter to kill sub bass. This (inherent!) lack of ability to reproduce deep bass is, imo, what makes many think that 'stats are somehow "faster".


Not with the Stax flagship headphones like the Omega 2 mk2's. They can go down to 30hz and still maintain a sense of authority, and when I tested the 007MK2 against the D7000, the Stax held its own against the D7000 on bass-heavy material with very deep and powerful hip-hop or IDM styled synth basses and kick drums. I also did sine wave tests at various frequency intervals and the 007MK2 performed very well down to about 30Hz. That's about as low as headphones really need to go because past that it's more vibrations than actual audible sound. Even most professional reference monitors can't go down to 20Hz even with an additional subwoofer, except for the very expensive ones.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Headdie View Post
Lunatique : Thanks for this opinion. I've also listened to Staxes, but I was unable to compare them back to back with my actual phones. Now, I'm looking for scientific evidence of superority, not only differences. The kind of audible evidence you get by blind testing. Are you aware of such tests that have demonstrated a net preference for stats or dynamics ? Actually, I can see many musicians and sound engineers using stat mikes, but it looks like most of them use dynamic headphones. Someone here could validate this ?


I don't think a frequency graph can tell you anything because that's not the real difference between the two sounds (see my comments above). If anything, I think if the measurements targeted the driver's reaction speed and distortion, then maybe we'll see clear differences.

 

Most musicians use dynamic mic because it's cheaper and can withstand rough handling. If you've ever seen a rockstar rocking out on stage you'd know that they really abuse the mics. Condenser mics cannot withstand that kind of physical abuse, nor can they withstand very loud SPL blasting at them from loud guitar amps at close proximity. But in the studio, it's a different story--you can carefully setup your mics and amps.

 

Some musicians actually do like the sound of dynamics--it's warmer in general and less analytical. I think especially for mic'ing guitar amps and rock/hip-hop vocals, they like the warmer and thicker sound. Condensers are much more sensitive, delicate, detailed, and clear--great for classical recordings or jazz, or acoustic/folk. But all studios have both, and also ribbon mics too, and use them as a chef would use different spices while cooking. The mic pre's are also used that way--for desired coloration.
 


Edited by Lunatique - 10/10/10 at 9:50pm
post #158 of 3201
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Headdie View Post

Prog Rock Man : So the evidence relies on different FR patterns for stats and dynamics... right ?

 

Lunatique : Thanks for this opinion. I've also listened to Staxes, but I was unable to compare them back to back with my actual phones. Now, I'm looking for scientific evidence of superority, not only differences. The kind of audible evidence you get by blind testing. Are you aware of such tests that have demonstrated a net preference for stats or dynamics ? Actually, I can see many musicians and sound engineers using stat mikes, but it looks like most of them use dynamic headphones. Someone here could validate this ?



Correct. We know some headphones have more bass than others and such measurements confirm this. As for scientific evidence of superiority, blind testing of components have often resulted in embarrassment for high priced kit. See the blind tests by Matrix Hifi Non 11 and DIY Audio Non 18 in the first post. Then the Carver blind test of amps shows that once line leveled and a bit of EQ, all amps can be made to sound the same. So I suspect that a series of blind tests of kit would result in various high end stuff being humbled, but a lot I am sure would shine through as the best.


Edited by Prog Rock Man - 10/11/10 at 6:32am
post #159 of 3201
Quote:

Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post

 

Not with the Stax flagship headphones like the Omega 2 mk2's. They can go down to 30hz and still maintain a sense of authority, and when I tested the 007MK2 against the D7000, the Stax held its own against the D7000 on bass-heavy material with very deep and powerful hip-hop or IDM styled synth basses and kick drums. I also did sine wave tests at various frequency intervals and the 007MK2 performed very well down to about 30Hz. That's about as low as headphones really need to go because past that it's more vibrations than actual audible sound. Even most professional reference monitors can't go down to 20Hz even with an additional subwoofer, except for the very expensive ones.

 


I don't think a frequency graph can tell you anything because that's not the real difference between the two sounds (see my comments above). If anything, I think if the measurements targeted the driver's reaction speed and distortion, then maybe we'll see clear differences.

 

Hmm I don't know what to think of this if I take a look at some measurements:

 

fr.jpg

 

(007 mk2 green, d2k red, 6 dB / vertical divison)

 

And I don't think you'll see the stax performs any better in terms of distortion, than lets say a HD600 which can do a 100 dB SPL with as little THD+N as 0.1% over a big range of frequencies. That's quite hard to beat actually. wink.gif

 

And, dunno if it's in this thread, but the waterfall plots by ryumatsuba show that some Sennheisers are quicker in decay and cleaner.


Edited by xnor - 10/11/10 at 7:49am
post #160 of 3201

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post

I don't think a frequency graph can tell you anything because that's not the real difference between the two sounds (see my comments above). If anything, I think if the measurements targeted the driver's reaction speed and distortion, then maybe we'll see clear differences.


Not really, stats are actually slower than some dynamics in all honesty.

 

SR-007SRM-717-Accumulate.gif

 

And, just for giggles compares to a portapro:

 

PortaPro-Accumulate.gif

 

Distortion for both of them is under 1% THD at 90dB.

 

 

post #161 of 3201
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

 

Hmm I don't know what to think of this if I take a look at some measurements:

 

fr.jpg

 

(007 mk2 green, d2k red, 6 dB / vertical divison)

 

And I don't think you'll see the stax performs any better in terms of distortion, than lets say a HD600 which can do a 100 dB SPL with as little THD+N as 0.1% over a big range of frequencies. That's quite hard to beat actually. wink.gif

 

And, dunno if it's in this thread, but the waterfall plots by ryumatsuba show that some Sennheisers are quicker in decay and cleaner.


That graph looks really off. When I tested the 007mk2 with sine wave tones, it certainly did not sound like it rolled off that much and that early, and that graph also contradicts other graphs I've seen of the 007mk2 (such as the one Shike posted below you). I'll be able to really put the 007mk2 through its paces in about a week or two though, since I've just purchases one and I can't wait to get it into my studio. I'll be testing it against all my other headphones including my Klein + Hummel O 300D's, so it's certainly a very tough challenge. I never bullshit anyone about anything, so if the king Stax is disgraced by my vigorous testing, I'll report it here on head-fi. I certainly did not decide to buy the Stax rig because it's the last word on accuracy or neutrality--that's not why I fell in love with it when I heard it. It was the musicality that blew me away. I absolutely loathe diminishing returns, and I'm extremely cautious about buying anything high-end because I know the diminishing returns are ridiculous. But in this case, I really fell head-over-heels for the flagship Stax sound and deemed it to be worth the thousands of dollars of investment.

 

I'm actually aware of how excellent some dynamics are in terms of distortion and speed. I've seen Tyll's measurements and some are amazing (such as the HD800). My LCD-2 is also damn good in that way. Maybe it's not only distortion, but something else I haven't figured out yet, but it's definitely there and clear as day, just like the difference between dynamic mics and condenser mics--it's absolutely unmistakable. Anyone here is an expert on the differences between the dynamic and electrostatic technologies? Can you enlighten us on the exact reasons why electrostats and dynamics sound so different, and exactly what are the measurable aspects that will show up in graphs? Is it the transients?
 


Edited by Lunatique - 10/11/10 at 11:31am
post #162 of 3201

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post

 

I'm actually aware of how excellent some dynamics are in terms of distortion and speed. I've seen Tyll's measurements and some are amazing (such as the HD800). My LCD-2 is also damn good in that way. Maybe it's not only distortion, but something else I haven't figured out yet, but it's definitely there and clear as day, just like the difference between dynamic mics and condenser mics--it's absolutely unmistakable. Anyone here is an expert on the differences between the dynamic and electrostatic technologies? Can you enlighten us on the exact reasons why electrostats and dynamics sound so different, and exactly what are the measurable aspects that will show up in graphs? Is it the transients?
 

 



It could be a few things.  First, this won't apply to all but mostly Stax since we know measurements on them and that's what most will base their static impressions off of.  Phase from dispersion characteristics, difference in decay (Stax don't seem to decay fast enough), difference in transients (varies, but there are a good chunk of faster dynamic headphones).  There is also a level of expectation bias.

 

My guess?  Longer decay makes people think the soundstage is larger (see numerous 'airy' descriptions).  Definitely not accurate in terms of a reference grade set, but obviously fun sounding for quite a few.  I have a set of SR-5s I refurbished myself sitting on a table myself, though they often go unused as my T-Amp isn't really enough to push them as hard as I'd like.

post #163 of 3201

In the above graphs, we have no mention of what was powering the Stax.  Such a steep roll-off in the bass suggests it was a very lowly Stax amp, and Stax doesn't make anything quite as comparable as the high-end dynamic headphone amps that are available, as likely it's too costly to produce an equivalent amp commercially.  I regrettably am not capable of providing a good technical explanation of what influences the performance of dynamics vs. electrostats, so I'll have to leave it to people seriously interested in that to ask someone like Kevin Gilmore who does know.

post #164 of 3201


Fit plays a very large role in how the O2 sounds (and thus measures).  

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shike View Post




 

 

My guess?  Longer decay makes people think the soundstage is larger (see numerous 'airy' descriptions).  


I don't think anybody has ever said they find the O2 to have a large soundstage, so no.

 

Can you show us the transient measurements you speak of?  I've only seen decay measurements IIRC.  How about attack?

post #165 of 3201


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by n3rdling View Post


I don't think anybody has ever said they find the O2 to have a large soundstage, so no.

 

Can you show us the transient measurements you speak of?  I've only seen decay measurements IIRC.  How about attack?



O2 may be the exception, because most stat headphones almost are always called airy IME.  Looking at lower models decay does tend to increase which makes me wonder.

 

There are no direct transient measurements, they are generally gathered from waterfall, frequency, impulse, THD, and squarewave graphs.  Attack is another term of transients, presumably in the beginning stage (ability to rise fast, the transient requires fast start and stop).  Impulse response is a decent way of showing that.

 

Since frequencies are based on cycles the transient response is inherent.  If it can't rise fast enough it will appear as non-linear distortion in another frequency also impacting amplitude, if it can't stop fast enough you get excessive decay (which also impacts amplitude over time).  If it has good THD, a moderately flat FR in the treble, and good waterfall graph measurements then it's safe to say the transients are okay.  The treble, impulse response, and decay are quite erratic on many Stax models which means they probably aren't the prime example of transient response.

 

Now, this isn't to say it's absolutely horrible either.  Most decay is done within such a short period of time so it's probably not going to be problematic.  Treble response and impulse, while not the greatest, are probably acceptable for a lot of people.

 

It's like arguing over a few hp while driving something that weighs tons - there's examples of stuff that's better, but to what degree does it really matter is the question.  Still, I wouldn't use Stax as a reference set when looking for accurate reproduction of a signal, and transients are just one sliver of the pie considering that.

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