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Why do expensier headphones generally get brighter and more laid-back?

post #1 of 73
Thread Starter 

This is something I've kept wondering, many expensive headphones and flagship models tend to be bright (cold/analytical) and laid-back. Of course there is some exceptions but it gets more and more common with that being the case the higher up you go on the pricelist. What is there that says laid-back sound and emphasized highs are more valued than forward and neutral (or gently darkish) headphones? Is the majority of people that have developed such preferences or does it have to do with some technical details etc? As a fan of forward and neutral or possibly slightly veiled highs (darkish) I feel a bit offended that there wouldn't be manufacturers creating highend stuff with what I'm looking for. Of course I ain't looking for $1000 headphones today but the thought still bugs me.

 

What do you think?


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 6/11/11 at 11:05am
post #2 of 73


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RPGWiZaRD View Post

This is something I've kept wondering, many expensive headphones and flagship models tend to be bright (cold/analytical) and laid-back. Of course there is some exceptions but it gets more and more common with that being the case the higher up you go on the pricelist. What is there that says laid-back sound and emphasized highs are more valued than forward and neutral (or gently darkish) headphones? Is the majority of people that have developed such preferences or does it have to do with some technical details etc? As a fan of forward and neutral or possibly slightly veiled highs (darkish) I feel a bit offended that there wouldn't be manufacturers creating highend stuff with what I'm looking for. Of course I ain't looking for $1000 headphones today but the thought still bugs me.

 

What do you think?

I think it has to do with people's preferences, the majority of "audiophiles" equate treble emphasis with detail, more treble=more details so in order to squeeze in more details, manufacturers have to reduce bass and warmth. also, I believe that phones become colder/more analytical as the sound becomes more transparent and thin (another result of striving for more detail) 
 

 

post #3 of 73

Maybe there's a correlation between getting older, being able to afford more expensive equipment, not wanting to sit on the musicians lap, and losing your hearing?  biggrin.gif

post #4 of 73

I see that when you have a $100 pair, that the headphones aren't forced to do anything and they take on their own personality. All the flaws, imperfections and problems just make the problems come out better. Like Treble on a Grado

 

But then as you rank up in price, the makers try to cover all the bases all at once and make headphones that are tweaked over and over again and force them to make certain sounds. This would give you better overall sound, but it's like castrating a bull. The meat will be better, but then the bull is only good for meat.

 

I also see it as a personal preference. I have three major headphones that cover highs, mids and lows so I can evaluate anything I wish. And then they are all under $100. But I can move up and start buying better headphones. It would give me better overall sound, but then nothing "special" to the headphones.

 

And this is what we differ from "Audiophile" and "Pro Audio User".

 

An Audiophile is looking for the greatest and best he can find.

 

A Pro Audio Listener is looking for a product to work the best as possible.

 

 

I'm an Audiophile that likes Pro Audio. I like my Grados, but then also love my Fostex

post #5 of 73

I guess it depends on what you call bright.

 

I wouldn't call the Stax SR-007A, Audez'e LCD-2 or Hifiman range (which I consider to be among the best headphones on the market today) bright at all.

 

The beyerdynamic T1 is mostly neutral but the the bright side of neutral and Stax Lambdas are mids-focussed with a slight emphasis to treble.

 

HD800 are bright and sibilant but that's just one.

 

Maybe the issue is that compared to a lot of entry level headphones, which have over-done mid bass, phones with a balanced amount of mid-bass seem bright in comparison? 

post #6 of 73

Most headphones are bright regardless of price, the new ones are just following the trend.  It's BS and I wish I had bigger bicepts so I could punch the engineers in the face.

post #7 of 73
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rhythmdevils View Post

Most headphones are bright regardless of price, the new ones are just following the trend.  It's BS and I wish I had bigger bicepts so I could punch the engineers in the face.


LOL, I just want to beat whoever thinks a certain sound characteristic is better/more important than another. That's like racism, only we're not talking about people directly but it still indirectly discriminating people's different preferences, all preferences should be equal why there should also be released more highend headphones with forward and non-bright sound signature.

 

Not every1 is getting the most enjoyment listening to a very revealing, analytical, cold and transparent or possibly "thin" sound (which are all great things for a studio monitor or when you just want to hear all details as clearly as possible) if only wanting to get as much enjoyment as possible of the music listening experience. You're wrong though about all new headphones are bright, not at all but the problem is that it's those $50 headphones or so that aren't. :p

 

LCD-2 is fine and that's roughly what I'd use as reference. It's neutral as you get IMO, it's neither bright or dark, many headphones are brighter than this though.

 


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 6/11/11 at 2:42pm
post #8 of 73

HD650
HE500
LCD2

None of the above are bright.

post #9 of 73
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by baka1969 View Post

HD650
HE500
LCD2

None of the above are bright.


Yea I agree on that as well. But the point was majority of expensier headphones get brighter AND laid-back. Around $50 mark there are probably far more headphones with less than neutral highs (as in it's not as elevated as it should be to be concidered neutral) while at $500+ it's probably percentage-wise just as many headphones that are brighter than "neutral". Which would indicate brighter than neutral is good and darker than neutral is bad. It's all matter of preferences and either one shouldn't be concidered "worse" IMO. This was my point.

 

Forward vs laid-back sound may not be as noticable in this aspect but it still seems like majority of very expensier headphones tend to be more laid-back than forward sounding as laid-back sounding has often indirect advantages (doesn't have to be the case but is more often than not the case) such as bigger soundstage, more transparent (=great values for studio monitor) but how about maximum music listening experience when these characteristics are of less value?

 

But yea perhaps it doesn't even have to do with people's preferences and could very well be it's easier technically to create drivers, housings and pads etc. whit these aspects (at least when we talk about laid-back vs forward characteristics). This cheap JVC HA-M5X I just tested for example features a "ringport" design http://cdn.head-fi.org/c/ca/ca53da5a_IMG_0574.jpg which seems is what makes it very forward sounding, why not using similar methods for expensier headphones but using that technically superior driver with it to please forward sound enthusiasts for example.

 


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 6/11/11 at 3:11pm
post #10 of 73

Quote:Originally Posted by RPGWiZaRD 




"Yea I agree on that as well. But the point was majority of expensier headphones get brighter AND laid-back. Around $50 mark there are probably far more headphones with less than neutral highs (as in it's not as elevated as it should be to be concidered neutral) while at $500+ it's probably percentage-wise just as many headphones that are brighter than "neutral". Which would indicate brighter than neutral is good and darker than neutral is bad. It's all matter of preferences and either one shouldn't be concidered "worse" IMO. This was my point.
Forward vs laid-back sound may not be as noticable in this aspect but it still seems like majority of very expensier headphones tend to be more laid-back than forward sounding as laid-back sounding has often indirect advantages (doesn't have to be the case but is more often than not the case) such as bigger soundstage, more transparent (=great values for studio monitor) but how about maximum music listening experience when these characteristics are of less value?
But yea perhaps it doesn't even have to do with people's preferences and could very well be it's easier technically to create drivers, housings and pads etc. whit these aspects (at least when we talk about laid-back vs forward characteristics). This cheap JVC HA-M5X I just tested for example features a "ringport" design http://cdn.head-fi.org/c/ca/ca53da5a_IMG_0574.jpg which seems is what makes it very forward sounding, why not using similar methods for expensier headphones but using that technically superior driver with it to please forward sound enthusiasts for example."


Between the dynamic, ortho and electrostatic headphones above $500 there actually seems to be a good balance and plenty of practical choices. Open and closed. In reality it would make sense to make pricier headphones that run the gamut of sound signatures. I believe there are plenty of choices out there no matter what your preferences are. Dark, neutral or bright.

post #11 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by baka1969 View Post

HD650
HE500
LCD2

None of the above are bright.



Yes but those are the ONLY headphones that aren't bright, and it's debatable whether the HE500 qualifies, if anything it's on the bright side of neutral from what I've read and from my listening of them at a meet.  That's not a balanced mix at all.  If you like a warm signature, you have very very few options.  If you like a bright sig, you can get it anyway you like it, it's like a fastfood commercial. 

post #12 of 73

The Stax SR-007A is not bright at all either has a very similar FR to LCD-2...

post #13 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by EddieE View Post

The Stax SR-007A is not bright at all either has a very similar FR to LCD-2...



okay, let's rephrase, most top tier phones have a bright sound signature

post #14 of 73

Maybe most audiophiles are like perverts, they just love hearing 'detail' and whatnot which is easier on bright headphones =P.

It also lets them bash poorly recorded music, its a win-win for them lol.

 

post #15 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhythmdevils View Post

Most headphones are bright regardless of price, the new ones are just following the trend.  It's BS and I wish I had bigger bicepts so I could punch the engineers in the face.



Lol. I agree it's BS, though I probably wouldn't resort to violence to remedy the situation. To my ears most HPs on the market in no way resemble the balance one hears at a live venue unless one is sitting in the orchestra/band, which of course suits some people just fine. Me, I'll take the 12th row, thanks.   

 

Oh, to the OP, I've fallen in love with that word "expensier". I'll be using it all the time from now on. biggrin.gif

 


Edited by pp312 - 6/11/11 at 5:11pm
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