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Are headphone amps frustrating and depressing? - Page 2

post #16 of 47
Thread Starter 

I'm sure Bjork ballads, Mozart and orchestral drums will sound AMAZING with LCD-2s/amp and I can't wait. I was more concerned about the impact a Daft Punk, Eminem song or a building full of aliens exploding in a video game would give.

 

From your replies it seems I'm harshly underestimating the power of high quality headphones and amps. I'd still like the option to turn the lows or bass down a bit when I wanna take a nap to a Metal album or turn it up for extra punch when the Death Star explodes but from what you all said, it's easy to add a separate Equalizer. Perfect.

 

Thanks for your replies :)


Edited by Tigers Go GRRR - 4/7/11 at 11:00am
post #17 of 47
EQ's have always been the subject of controversy in the audio world but let me assure you there is not a band in the world or a guitarist or most important a recording studio that doesn't use EQ. Having an EQ if used properly is invaluable. In the headphone world for some reason there is this mindset that the equipment is what it is and you match your headphones to given equipment its the same ideology as using an EQ the only difference is you are not sliding or spinning a parametric dial. you are buying many sets of headphones its the same idea just a different implementation of EQ.
post #18 of 47

It's true that headphones have differing sound signatures, but there's more to it than that, of course; There's no EQ that adjusts comfort, appearance, usability, impact, transient speed, build quality, and soundstage of a headphone.

post #19 of 47

 

While I agree an EQ is absolutely mandatory when recording or when used for professional purposes, it's not for casual music listening. Every headphone provides you with a different listening experience and this cannot be matched with an EQ. People have large headphone collections primarily because each headphone is better suited for a certain genre of music. 
Note these are just my opinions and I'm certainly not condemning the use of an EQ.
post #20 of 47



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrScary View Post

EQ's have always been the subject of controversy in the audio world but let me assure you there is not a band in the world or a guitarist or most important a recording studio that doesn't use EQ. Having an EQ if used properly is invaluable. In the headphone world for some reason there is this mindset that the equipment is what it is and you match your headphones to given equipment its the same ideology as using an EQ the only difference is you are not sliding or spinning a parametric dial. you are buying many sets of headphones its the same idea just a different implementation of EQ.



The problem there is that in a recording studio people are doing a job. They can fiddle all they like and get paid for it, but in the end time will constrain them. Give a hi-fi nut an EQ and you're opening up Pandora's Box: he will play till the cows come home. He will tell himself that yes, he's got it now, that sounds perfect, but after two more tracks vague dissatisfaction will set in and it'll be time for yet another tweak of that third-from-the-left slider. This will go on forever, or until he collapses from dehydration. A hi-fi nut is not a normal human being. 

 

Of course if the aim is just to amuse oneself, that's fine. If the aim is long term listener satisfaction, it isn't.

 

I'm reminded of a guy I knew back in LP days. He'd had umpteen turntables and nearly drove himself crazy fiddling. Eventually he bought a B & O turntable, simply because there was nothing on it to adjust but the playing weight. Probably a wise move.

 

post #21 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post



 



The problem there is that in a recording studio people are doing a job. They can fiddle all they like and get paid for it, but in the end time will constrain them. Give a hi-fi nut an EQ and you're opening up Pandora's Box: he will play till the cows come home. He will tell himself that yes, he's got it now, that sounds perfect, but after two more tracks vague dissatisfaction will set in and it'll be time for yet another tweak of that third-from-the-left slider. This will go on forever, or until he collapses from dehydration. A hi-fi nut is not a normal human being. 

 

Of course if the aim is just to amuse oneself, that's fine. If the aim is long term listener satisfaction, it isn't.

 

I'm reminded of a guy I knew back in LP days. He'd had umpteen turntables and nearly drove himself crazy fiddling. Eventually he bought a B & O turntable, simply because there was nothing on it to adjust but the playing weight. Probably a wise move.

 


Well then I guess then the best thing to do is to pick one headphone one dac one amp and be done with it. I see your point and I agree I think that EQ's at least for my music listening would drive me crazy but when I play guitar that's a different story. But on the other hand people drive themselves crazy by buying 20 headphones just to get that certain sound be it imaging or sound stage or comfort. Many people on here are insane me being one of them.
If you look back at the posts I was just making the point that if someone wanted to add a bit of bass in Foobar for example its not the end of the world.
post #22 of 47

hmmmm not trying to piss on anyones parade here but whats wrong with eq? provided the eq circuitry is well implemented, it can serve to enhanced the musical experience much as salt pepper spices & the myriad variety of such condiments enhances the taste of food. 

 

for that matter, is there any commercially recorded material that hasnt been mix'd eq'd compress'd process'd & otherwise enhanced? all we get is the recording engineers version of the event & as such, there is no "natural & original" directors uncut version so to speak. as we do not have the same gear nor the same ears as said recording studio engineer, it serves that we do not get similar results.

 

i do agree that an amp should serve as a "wire with gain" but what if, to begin with, one isnt satisfied with the signal to be gain'd? isnt it much simpler to do some personal processing to suit one's equipment & ears? jus sayin' as all

 

for the OP if one doesnt want to invested in a decent hardware parametric eq, then perhaps something in this vein mite serve...

 

jvc jr201.jpg

 

its a vintage JVC JR201 receiver with a built-in 5band SEA eq i heard it at a buddys & am impressed enuff to be on the lookout for a higher spec local unit. despite the fugly looks, the 5band eq works so well that i think it should be a federal mandated reg that all amps come standard with it wink_face.gif

post #23 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottiebabie View Post

hmmmm not trying to piss on anyones parade here but whats wrong with eq? provided the eq circuitry is well implemented, it can serve to enhanced the musical experience much as salt pepper spices & the myriad variety of such condiments enhances the taste of food. 

 

for that matter, is there any commercially recorded material that hasnt been mix'd eq'd compress'd process'd & otherwise enhanced? all we get is the recording engineers version of the event & as such, there is no "natural & original" directors uncut version so to speak. as we do not have the same gear nor the same ears as said recording studio engineer, it serves that we do not get similar results.

 

i do agree that an amp should serve as a "wire with gain" but what if, to begin with, one isnt satisfied with the signal to be gain'd? isnt it much simpler to do some personal processing to suit one's equipment & ears? jus sayin' as all

 

for the OP if one doesnt want to invested in a decent hardware parametric eq, then perhaps something in this vein mite serve...

 

jvc jr201.jpg

 

its a vintage JVC JR201 receiver with a built-in 5band SEA eq i heard it at a buddys & am impressed enuff to be on the lookout for a higher spec local unit. despite the fugly looks, the 5band eq works so well that i think it should be a federal mandated reg that all amps come standard with it wink_face.gif


There's nothing wrong with using a good equalizer. Tube amps also distort the sound 24/7. Personally, would you rather fiddle with an equalizer or tubes? The choice for me is clear. I sold my Woo Audio 6SE tube amp and all the tubes (Sophia, EML 5U4G, and some others) and I don't regret it. The only tube amplifier I would consider is the Blue Hawaii amplifier and not because of it's tube character. I have the same feeling even after hearing all the tube amplifier's in the last Bay Area meet. After hearing what Cowon's eq could do, I know it is possible for an EQ to sound excellent even while making dramatic changes to the sound. I'm currently using PSP Neon HR linear phase VST equalizer on my computer and while it sounds great, I'm still looking for something to rival Cowon's hardware BBE in software form for a home set up. The versatility and ease of a good EQ trumps the hassle of tubes which doesn't necessarily sound better. Tubes always smooth out the details. My hearing also makes huge changes during a day so trying to adjust my system to sound good to my ears is a pain.

 


Edited by wind016 - 4/11/11 at 9:23pm
post #24 of 47
EQ can be OK if you do it right. Still, I take the audiophile hairshirt approach of not buying something unless it entirely agrees with me.

If something isn't what you want, then why buy it in the first place?

There's such a wide variety of equipment today that you can be picky.
post #25 of 47

A tiny tweak here and there - to make an aggravating treble peak a little less harsh, to bump out the midbass just a touch to give it more presense - is one thing, but if you have to tweak the EQ across the board, I think it begs the question of why you're using that specific setup.  If an amp and set of headphones gives you 98% of what you want, using an EQ to get that other 2% is a good move, since everything is already very close to what's desired, but if the EQ looks like a mountain range, why not look for a different set of headphones that inherently has the sound signature you're after, without requiring a bunch of artificial EQ to get there?

post #26 of 47
EQs definitely serve a purpose, whether someone uses it is of course up to their individual preference.

Functionally speaking, EQs are great for modifying the desired behavior of a piece of equipment. Sure you can hold yourself to buy only equipment that you absolutely completely agree with, but that might be in the end be a fool's errand and certainly require good access to funds. So whether you want a bit more bass or less treble, an EQ can be great to get you what you want and it would almost certainly be cheaper than replacing the headphones/amp. I am not arguing which way is superior, just that EQs offer a different solution to the same problem.

Aside from that, we are not all in the same mood every day or every moment. Some days I feel like a little more bass, some days I feel like a bit less bass, and I am sure others do the same. EQs can be very handy for making adjustments to the overall sound to fit what someone is in the mood for. There's how the musician/recording-engineer thought the music should sound, and there's how I think it should sound, I don't think it's wrong to prefer the former or the latter depending on the day or time.

That said, I don't actually have any EQs in my system, not because I don't want them, but because I'm lucky to have a few different headphones that offer me plenty of variety already.

Jack
post #27 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by DemonicLemming View Post

A tiny tweak here and there - to make an aggravating treble peak a little less harsh, to bump out the midbass just a touch to give it more presense - is one thing, but if you have to tweak the EQ across the board, I think it begs the question of why you're using that specific setup.  If an amp and set of headphones gives you 98% of what you want, using an EQ to get that other 2% is a good move, since everything is already very close to what's desired, but if the EQ looks like a mountain range, why not look for a different set of headphones that inherently has the sound signature you're after, without requiring a bunch of artificial EQ to get there?


There are EQs that allow for mountain range amounts of changes to the sound without sounding very artificial, but I agree. If a new headphone would give better sound then EQing a current one, then I'd get a new headphone.
post #28 of 47

At the end of the day, you have two kinds of people: HiFiers and Listeners. To be more precise, people who will look for the best individual sound in different tracks, and people who just listen to whatever music they have as is.

 

Problem arises when you suddenly realize that every single part of your listening process (source, processor, DAC, AMP, HP/IEM, Cables) creates and effect on your eventual sound signature. Even your own ears are different from others, and your history of sound changes the way you perceive sound in minute ways over time, which is why different kinds of people (HiFi vs. Basshead) look for different things with their ears, the characteristics of the headphones or the sound signal after processing.

 

Ultimately, its' a conscious decision to say, "okay, I'm going to be happy with this sound." or "hmm... maybe a little bit more in 56hz... 1,567hz..." because enjoyment is up to yourself. ^_^

 

There are headphones that are really malleable and respond well to different kinds of EQ; parametric, broad, extremely specific or whatever, and there are some that are best made for clear, natural sound that they would produce anyway.

 

So for me, buying even 5 pairs of headphones just because they sound better in different genres is a bit daft. I'd think it would be better to have a programmable integrated stereo amplifier, and load up the settings as you think are necessary. Of course, that's entirely an opinion.

post #29 of 47

definetly no right nor wrong in this dog fight. since most if not all hardware (& software too for that matter) eq`s can be easily bypassed or disabled, there really is no downside to having one in the system, costs aside. even then, standalone multiband parametric eq`s can be had for sub $100 used so why not hook one up & see if it floats your boat. 

post #30 of 47
Good point, nomexalloys.

All of the truly serious music geeks I know don't give a crap about the gear. People with really deep collections and who know a frightening amount about the music. They tend not to care much, if at all, about the gear. Cheap stuff is fine as long as it holds up and plays their music.

There's a lesson in there.

I think gear is fascinating - I love tubes and exotic drivers. But the music geeks are right. I'm thinking hard about getting rid of a lot of stuff and getting in deeper with the music. I'll keep a good rig, for sure, but the music should be more important.
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