I just spent the whole night creating the ideal EQ settings for the Westone 3 and Shure SE535. I used all of my best headphones as well as my Klein + Hummel O 300D's as references, and the goal was to make them sound as close to the ideal hybrid of those references as possible, while using the least number of bands (since IEM's are usually used with portable players, and EQ's drain batteries faster, although fewer bands will use less CPU while processing). It's generally it's best to use as few bands as possible, as that's just good mixing/mastering advice, and it's always better to cut than boost. But don't be afraid to boost if that's what it takes--you just have to learn how to do it with surgical precision at exactly the frequency you need, and often a broader bandwidth is better than a steep one--unless you know exactly what you're doing and exactly where the problematic area is.
Anyway, here are the settings for those of you who are using portable players that have quality parametric EQ (such as EQu or Equalizer for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad) or use your IEM's with the computer and have a setup that allows you to use quality parametric EQ plugins with your chosen media player/librarian (I use J River Media Center 16--it's got the most supreme native VST hosting implementation of all media players/librarians). If you own either one of these IEM's, give them a try and see just how much better these two IEM's can sound. They can get much, much, closer to the expensive high-end headphones with these settings.
You can download EasyQ from rs-met.com for free. It's one of the best free EQ's out there. If you don't know anything about VST plugins or how to host them, you ought to google and learn a bit about them.
I would suggest that when you do A/B between the EQ'd and bypassed version, you listen for about 30 seconds and get used to the sonic signature before you switch--don't just go back and forth quickly--that's not how you do A/B comparisons. I'm pretty sure that once you guys have listened to a wide range of musical material with my EQ settings, you'll see just what I mean by how much better these two IEM's can get with careful EQ'ing.
Personally, I like the EQ'd SE535 a bit more than the EQ'd Westone 3, but before EQ'ing, it's hard to say since both have glaring problems (SE535 is a too bright/fatiguing, and W3's bass is too bloated). After EQ'ing, I find the SE535 a bit more natural and a bit smoother overall, but they are very close since they were EQ'd using the same references and based on my ideal.
One last note--I didn't try to EQ them so they are pushed too much and try to do what dynamic technology isn't supposed to do, such as trying to match the very articulate treble of the Stax 007mkIi--that just wouldn't be appropriate IMO. I never go beyond 12 dB when I EQ, and when possible, I try to keep within 6 dB, unless that's just not enough. This is simply a matter of good mixing/mastering practice.
EDIT: I keep getting people messaging me asking how to EQ their headphones. Please follow the instructions in this thread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/551426/my-eq-curves-for-lcd-2-hd650-m50-and-007mk2
EDIT: Here's my latest custom EQ curve for Westone 4/4R (they are identical sounding, except for the matched drivers of the 4R).
This is only for the TRIPLE-FLANGE tip. I do not use other tips because they aren't as ergonomic or don't seal as well, and also because the triple-flange is the only tip that gets rid of most of the ear canal resonance because they fill up more of your ear canal than other tips.
This EQ curve is carefully tweaked by first referencing Tyll Hertsens' measurements (I've been waiting for him to measure the Westone 4 for years, and he's finally done it), and then meticulously tweaked by referencing pink noise and then referenced against my LCD-2 with custom EQ curve applied. I then double-check by testing with my select playlist of testing tracks I've been using for many years, swapping between the LCD-2 and Westone 4. I then triple-checked by making sure my custom EQ for the LCD-2 is in fact, still as accurate as it should be (using pink noise and test tracks), and then do another round to matching the two, and then one last round of checking the Westone 4 with pink noise tests and test tracks.
I found that for this particular case, you can't just EQ the Westone 4 based on the measurement graph, and if you do, it'll be too bright and shrill. What you should do instead, is to use the measurement graph to set your EQ points as according to the graph, and then play pink noise and take each node and restrict the movement to only vertical, and start moving it up and down so you can get familiarized with what too much and too little of that frequency range sounds like, and then set it at the spot that sounds the most even with the rest of the frequency spectrum. You do that for every node until you have a very balanced sound across the frequency range. This method is the best way to ensure you get what sounds accurate TO YOUR OWN EARS, because we all have slightly different hearing, and if you set it to sound balanced to your own hearing, then it can't get more accurate than that.
The settings are:
150 Hz, -3 dB, 2.37 oct
5,500 Hz, -3 dB, 1.02 oct
10,000 Hz, -10 dB, 0.6 oct
20,000 Hz, 10 dB, 1.13 oct
Please use any of the free online bandwidth to Q translators if your EQ uses Q instead.
I've finally written that comprehensive guide on how to easily/reliably EQ your headphone for the most accurate/neutral sound possible. I have included everything--from what tools to use, the exact steps and approach, what to listen for, and all the test tones you need as well as carefully chosen musical material that's from my own audio gear testing playlist, with descriptions for how to use each track to test for specific problems in your headphones (and of course can be used to test speakers too). Here's the link: http://www.head-fi.org/t/796791/the-most-reliable-easiest-way-to-eq-headphones-properly-to-achieve-the-most-ideal-sound-for-non-professionals
Edited by Lunatique - 1/31/16 at 2:29am