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Flat sound vs. "fun sound"...so flat isn't fun?

post #1 of 90
Thread Starter 

I just don't get this whole headphone review mindset of "these are great b/c of the ultra flat freq response". Flip side...these are fantastic because of the warm "fun" sound they portray...far from a flat response, but very desirable. 

 

So which is it? I hear people who praise the flat sound say..."those are great...a really warm and fun sound" about something unflat.

 

So basically what I guess I'm asking...if you get a really flat freq...and that's what you're really wanting...when you listen to them, is it not fun? Critical listening...a term I don't quite get, I suppose. You have to be alert to enjoy these excellent cans. The flip side, these cans have that "fun sound" that you don't have to really be 100% alert and can just sit back and "chill" to.

 

 

 

Help?

post #2 of 90

Think of it this way. Some people much rather read a book to get a good story. Some people rather watch a movie. Some people much rather watch a play, etc.

 

When people praises a headphone for being great due to flatness, it just means they are technically great because they are achieving an effect similar to life-like, uncolored, sound. On the other hand, not everyone wants a headphone that portrays that. They might prefer a headphone that adds a little extra "spunk" to their music. This is what 'fun' means -- it isn't all realistic and grounded.

 

Of course, some veteran head-fiers have noted that the terminology of 'fun' is extremely misleading... because what a person finds as fun is extremely personal. So, you aren't the only one that is scratching your head over that term. So, there are really two definitions. One that you stated as 'warm', 'bassy', etc. while the other is the subjective liking toward a headphone.

 

This is what I got from my time being spent on here. I am pretty sure someone will be add more (or subtract in case I made an error) to what I have provided. smily_headphones1.gif


Edited by MaxwellDemon - 4/9/11 at 11:11pm
post #3 of 90

"...so flat isn't fun?"

 

This is a great question. For me, definitely more flat = more fun.

 

In general terms, "fun" means recessed mids (and often treble to a lesser extent). This of course manifests itself as heavy bass.

 

I think the problem is that, in the portables/earphones category, somehow "flat" has come to mean largely the opposite.

 

When I listen to very good speakers, that are reasonably flat (say +/- 3dB) down to 30 Hz, in a good room with a good source, I don't hear any lack of bottom end. When I listen to most flagship full-size headphones, I don't hear any lack of bottom end. Yet, when I listen to portables/earphones that are commonly known to be lacking in bottom end, they are called "flat".

 

Why a "flat" earphone should sound entirely different from a flat speaker or headphone always escapes me...


Edited by Andrew H - 4/10/11 at 11:48am
post #4 of 90

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew H View Post

In general terms, "fun" means recessed mids (and often treble to a lesser extent). This of course manifests itself as heavy bass.

 

 

I agree right there. Fun usually means there's a spike in the frequency response somewhere whether treble, bass, or both. I also interchange the word "fun" with "aggressive." I can appreciate both types of headphones, but now I prefer a flat presentation most of the time. Too much bass or treble can be fatiguing. I also agree that most headphones here considered "flat" isn't exactly what I consider flat at least in the bass.

 

FYI, I consider the Stax Omega 2 MK1 and the Audio Technica W11R to be flat. At least more flat than most of the audiophile headphones I've heard.

post #5 of 90

I think flat is always good.  However, the fun can come from the presentation rather than simply a factor of frequency response.  Flat doesn't mean you can't have energetic, engaging, dynamic, etc.

post #6 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew H View Post

"...so flat isn't fun?"

 

For me, definitely more flat = more fun.

+1
post #7 of 90
It is definitely personal preference. For me, I find flat more fun, because I enjoy it more. When theres a spike to any frequency, I feel like the music has been compromised. Everyones different though. Just like how some guys find fat girls fun
post #8 of 90

I'm a classical music geek. Reasonably flat response is necessary for instruments and voices to sound realistic. Unnatural colorations aren't "fun", they're really annoying. I can't, for example, understand how people can listen to Grado headphones with bowl pads worn around the ears; the shrillness that gives to orchestral violins is horrible. (I wear mine on-ear and well forward, which smooths out the highs quite a lot). And I don't find my Ety MC5's "dry" or "boring", I find them correct.


Edited by supersleuth - 4/10/11 at 4:33pm
post #9 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by supersleuth View Post

I'm a classical music geek. Reasonably flat response is necessary for instruments and voices to sound realistic. Unnatural colorations aren't "fun", they're really annoying. I can't, for example, understand how people can listen to Grado headphones with bowl pads worn around the ears; the shrillness that gives to orchestral violins is horrible. (I wear mine on-ear and well forward, which smooths out the highs quite a lot). And I don't find my Ety MC5's "dry" or "boring", I find them correct.

Part of it is a function of volume. At very low volumes (human equal loudness contour) we don't perceive low and high frequencies as strongly as mids. Thus for people who prefer to listen to music at low volumes, that V shaped "fun" sound suddenly becomes correct. That's one reason I could never like etymotic's IEMs. Another is that real music has bass. Even in classical, things like cellos don't sound right, and timpani end up sounding like a wet paper towel. That and soundstage, etmotic stuffs your orchestra into a closet. And timbre, as previously mentioned. redface.gif
 

 

post #10 of 90

IMO frequency response is not what makes headphones fun... i always try to eq my headphones flat, but even if all headphones were magically eq'd perfectly flat, they would still sound quite different from one another. 


 

post #11 of 90
The problem with "fun" headphones is that they aren't fun in the long term. You either get bored with the coloration or it starts to irritate you.

That's when most people decide to buy a more expensive colored headphone.

The only way out of the cycle is to get something accurate. Unless you want to start a collection, that is. The colored gear is more fun at first, but it won't stay that way. Get something accurate and concentrate on the music. You'll be happy. Otherwise, you'll be on the upgrade treadmill forever.
post #12 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by JxK View Post



Part of it is a function of volume. At very low volumes (human equal loudness contour) we don't perceive low and high frequencies as strongly as mids. Thus for people who prefer to listen to music at low volumes, that V shaped "fun" sound suddenly becomes correct. That's one reason I could never like etymotic's IEMs. Another is that real music has bass. Even in classical, things like cellos don't sound right, and timpani end up sounding like a wet paper towel. That and soundstage, etmotic stuffs your orchestra into a closet. And timbre, as previously mentioned. redface.gif
 

 

Not to my ears, and I both listen to and perform live orchestral music frequently.
 

 

post #13 of 90



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

The problem with "fun" headphones is that they aren't fun in the long term. You either get bored with the coloration or it starts to irritate you.

That's when most people decide to buy a more expensive colored headphone.

The only way out of the cycle is to get something accurate. Unless you want to start a collection, that is. The colored gear is more fun at first, but it won't stay that way. Get something accurate and concentrate on the music. You'll be happy. Otherwise, you'll be on the upgrade treadmill forever.


so true. I tend to go through cycles of spite with some of my headsets. the only pairs that have yet to offend me is my modded HD555's or TF10's. Copper's sound a bit too contained for an analytical DD, and the MD's bass can be a bit overtaking at times. TF10's are always sound so effortless and the grainy detail is as addictive as the first bite of a wheat-thin

 

post #14 of 90
I disagree I own both and like them both equally. Different ears.
post #15 of 90

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Confispect View Post

I disagree I own both and like them both equally. Different ears.



you're right, I just get tired of them occasionally. there's a reason I still own them wink.gif

 

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