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**Hifiman HE-400 Impressions and Discussion Thread** - Page 772

post #11566 of 17946
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmsaxon69 View Post

How loud do you listen? My older Nano got plenty loud for me.  I don't listen super loud though....

I don't go loud for long stretches of time, but 100% volume on my US (non volume-capped) iPod Touch is definitely not enough for my daytime listening.
post #11567 of 17946

Just FYI I know quite a few of the regulars here have ordered the Modulor's jergpads (batch 1), I received the pair he sent me a couple of hours ago, will be posting some pics and impressions in a bit (either here or HE500 thread or the jergpad thread).

post #11568 of 17946
Thread Starter 

Waiting on my pair and your impression Jerg. Pics!! popcorn.gif

post #11569 of 17946
Quote:
Originally Posted by egokun View Post


I don't go loud for long stretches of time, but 100% volume on my US (non volume-capped) iPod Touch is definitely not enough for my daytime listening.

 

How's the volume on those recordings?  I usually listen at about 80% with my ipod touch.

post #11570 of 17946
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattTCG View Post

Waiting on my pair and your impression Jerg. Pics!! popcorn.gif

Just a tl;dr before I start doing the pic+text post, they are impeccably made (unlike the pair I've made and have been using which look like mad scientist DIY in terms of mod quality) and sound very, very close to the jergpads v2 of mine.

post #11571 of 17946
Quote:
Originally Posted by KLJTech View Post

 

Thank you!

I guess what surprises me is that when I listen to a good recording, one that I know very well, like something from Alison Krauss, I'm not noticing that dip in the mid/highs like you'd think one would when you see that frequency response graph. I'll listen to a track with the HE-400's and then I'll switch to the K701's (that I'm very familiar with) and yes there's a tiny bit more "presence" in the midrange with the AKG's. Though what stands out even more is that the AKG's are not nearly as full sounding in the lower midbass and bass region. I was expecting to hear a lot more midrange from the K701's than from the HE-400's. Possibly my 400's just aren't burnt in yet or they're just sounding good with good recordings as they should. 

I do believe that there's more to a planar magnetic's sound than just a measured frequency response...maybe its speed, more transparency...I don't know. As I've already stated, I do know that Magnepans haven't always measured well yet can still "sound" incredible. Its also possible that the Bryston and Parasound DAC's I'm using are more forgiving in the region in which some are finding bright. I've not found either to be 'soft" sounding in my main system (through speakers) when compared to other DAC's I've auditioned. 

 

Usually when I find a piece of gear that I like I'll try my best to forget about the equipment itself and get back to focusing on the music. I found out years ago that if I worried too much about the gear (even after having done A TON of homework on the unit I just bought) that I tended to keep switching out DAC, amps, CD players and speakers so often that I stopped enjoying MUSIC all together unless it was in my car when I couldn't have cared less about the system itself. In other words, once you find that piece of audio gear that you enjoy, try your very best to stop thinking about the gear itself and get back to what this is all about in the first place....MUSIC!

I like your comments!

 

I agree with all of it. The frequency response graph was the worst indication of what the HE-400s would be like. They really do not graph all that different from other phones I have owned - a few dBs here, a few there. Yet when I plugged in my Sennheisers the other day, I was surprised at how all that 'extra' midrange they supposedly had didn't really come through. I was also surprised at how comparable the Senn's were to the HE-400 (I have the HD595). Turns out the O2+ODAC really boosted the performance of each. Also turns out I like brighter, more aggressive phones! 

 

The HE-400s have undoubtedbly been 'faster' and more 'transparent' than anything else I have ever heard. It was the live music recordings and jazz sessions I tried when I first got them that made it obvious that these planars have texture and a sense of 'space' between musical elements that I've not heard before. They were simply superior in a way more obvious than when listening to my studio albums. They can really transmit the power of the music as well - typically while sounding like they aren't breaking a sweat. They don't measure to be as 'bassy' as some other phones, yet I have no criticism of bass performance - it just sounds right to me. I attribute this in part to the fact that the planars have very large surface area - I doubt there are many dynamic drivers in the headphone space that come close to these in surface area. Does anyone here know?

 

I also figure that their ability to play loud with low distortion plays a role - since many headphones may spec well, but one rarely knows how they will behave when they are really getting pushed.

 

I am currently listening to Kasabian way too loud - a sort of 'harsh' band on typical equipment I have, but on the HE-400s, totally fun and awesome. These phones truly kick ass.

 

Course, lately I've been wanting the Andrew Jones 5.1 setup from Pioneer, for a mere $550 bucks. If it sounded 40% as good as their wireless radios, I would be in low-cost hi-fi heaven. But Wanting them has made me painfully aware that I spent about $700 bucks on these phones and an O2+ODAC. I must be going crazy.

post #11572 of 17946

Here are photos and initial impressions of the Modulor Jergpads, as promised. Link

post #11573 of 17946
[
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thujone View Post

I keep seeing this over and over again, so I will finally ask the question. What do you piercing highs and female vocals have anything to do with one another? The highest note ever sang by a human being is somewhere around 2000 Hz. The piercing highs on this headphone come from the 8000-10,000 Hz region. If you have a man or a woman make a "sssss" sound, it will be in the highs region (5000+ Hz) regardless - but that isn't considered a note being sung because it doesn't use your vocal chords. That being said, all this talk about female vocals being piercing seems to me like placebo is taking its toll. When I first tried to tackle the question of what mids, highs, and bass were in terms of frequency, I was initially under the impression that sopranos would be considered in the highs category based on several sources on the internet. Then, I found sources with concrete frequency ranges to describe the three, and I found that the "highs" are well above any note that can be produced by any human or normal instrument with the exception of cymbals and artifacts created by the human voice (whether man or woman) such as "ss", "th", "f", etc. Yes, I will admit that timbre of some instruments (snare drum comes to mind) is dependent on the driver's treble extension (ie more pronounced highs brings more crispness to a snare drum), but I still think piercing highs and female vocals have nothing in common. I have plenty of male vocal recordings that are insanely sibilant and other female recordings that aren't... Am I missing something huge that needs to be considered?
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrMateoHead View Post

Yes -

Primarily that the human ear is naturally sensitive to frequencies centered around 1 khz (sort of how our eyes are 'tuned' to the color yellow and we tend to be more sensitive to it). The HE-400s 'bump' in frequency response in the 1 khz area, followed by a deep recession through to about 6 Khz may be accentuating a frequency that makes them seem a bit 'hot' compared to more neutral headphones. If you add to that modern recording styles, which can be heavily compressed and include over-pumped up vocals, you get a really bad combination. In my experience, clipped recordings give off a slight 'static' sound with the HE-400s. Once you notice the static, that is more grating than anything else (I thought my phones' were failing at first, then I started looking at waveforms using waveform seekbar in foobar). Also in my experience, audio engineers appear more willing to screw around with female than male vocals, given that women are not only better looking, but usually have much much prettier voices. wink.gif Notice how many female vocalists are the central focus in many pop recordings that feature a female-lead. They are also 'hot'. Florence and the Machine are my favorite example - her voice and music is lovely but the recording is hot to the point that it is fatiguing even on my lower-fi equipment.

I agree with everything you have said, because I too have complained that those irritated by 'sibilance' a) need to separate sibilant recordings from sibilant speakers and b) need to stop blaming upper treble for sibilance when, in all liklihood, the majority occurs in a much narrower mid-range, not treble band. Hence tweaking response up to about 4 khz might be more effective than 10 khz. On the other hand, cymbals and other percussion make lots of 'ssss' sounds as well, so some folks may be conflating sibilant voices with other sibilant sounds. That is not the same thing to me and should be part of different discussions, but I can see how such confusion would cause people to stress focus on much much higher frequencies with apparent disregard for physical reality.

It seems true that 'audio artifacts' (such as with a female voice) in recordings may bleed into higher frequencies - making vocal sibilance in higher frequencies a 'digitally' if not physically possible phenomenon. You could, for example, just record yourself singing and will likely see audio information in frequencies both higher and lower than you expect. However, this can be misleading. The reason is, most record artists will want to filter out unwanted frequencies (to take out voice 'boom' and vocal sibilance). But also, if the high frequency response were, say, 3 dB lower than the 1 khz response, the frequencies we would expect to hear would be 'twice as loud' as the ones we didn't expect to hear. In other words, sure, they are there, but they are drowned out. The presence of artifacts is not, in other words, proof that all irratating sound is in the upper treble (no one ever seems to cut the bass using the reverse logic, for example, but heavy bass is also fatiguing).

Finally, I do not see the HE-400s as really 'peaking' in the upper treble range, for 2 basic reasons. First reason is that our ears are less sensitive to those frequencies - so boost is expected if you are seeking something approximating 'nuetral'. I think this is true even in the headphone world (which is admittedly very different than the speaker world). Second reason is that, when looking closely at the frequency response curve, if we were to center at 1 khz, the upper treble never actually significantly exceeds the other 'peaks' in response. If anything, the upper midrange frequencies which I would think are more irratating are the most deeply recessed.

As I continue to ponder these headphones, I have recently decided that part of their 'real' issue is that they are quite unforgiving. If you have a bad recording, they will be sure to tell you! If you have a really great recording, they will sound great! A lot of new music is unfortunately pretty badly recorded, IMHO. I read the article about HD-650s wherein the designer of the O2 argues that they are a lot like 'polarized sunglasses' - doing a lot of filtering on their own to reduce fatigue and sort of 'improve' on recordings. I would now love to try them out to see if that seems true in a back to back comparison with the HE-400s, since my other Sennheisers, in doing a little of that, ultimately seemed more veiled than anything else on an initial listen.

Ok, I bought my HE-400s in February and since then, I've been slowly working my way through this entire thread. I'm nearly finished now and wasn't going to join in until I got up to date, but I have to chime in on this subject as it keeps coming up.

Someone said something like the human voice doesn't produce tones above 2khz etc.. Well, that's untrue. The fundamental tone might not be higher than that, but there are lots of harmonics above that pitch that give it its unique timbre. These upper frequencies are not what a recording engineer would want to filter out! Quite the opposite - these are the tones that give the sound realism and identity. It's all these upper harmonics that distinguish a trumpet tone from a voice from a piano, all playing the same pitch but sounding different. Generally, these overtones are higher than the fundamental tone, not lower. Cutting these frequencies out would render it more difficult to distinguish the specific timbre of the sounding note. This is the information on a recording that gives it its lifelike and realistic qualities. Conversely, boosting them would absolutely cause an unnatural shrillness to the sound (what most people here are complaining about). But, don't think for a second that frequencies around 5-15khz don't make up any of the quality of a vocal sound. They do and they are key to giving that sound its realistic tone. They just don't sound good when exaggerated.
Edited by amigomatt - 7/24/13 at 5:36pm
post #11574 of 17946
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrMateoHead View Post

 

 

The HE-400s have undoubtedbly been 'faster' and more 'transparent' than anything else I have ever heard. It was the live music recordings and jazz sessions I tried when I first got them that made it obvious that these planars have texture and a sense of 'space' between musical elements that I've not heard before. They were simply superior in a way more obvious than when listening to my studio albums. They can really transmit the power of the music as well - typically while sounding like they aren't breaking a sweat. They don't measure to be as 'bassy' as some other phones, yet I have no criticism of bass performance - it just sounds right to me. I attribute this in part to the fact that the planars have very large surface area - I doubt there are many dynamic drivers in the headphone space that come close to these in surface area. Does anyone here know?

 

I also figure that their ability to play loud with low distortion plays a role - since many headphones may spec well, but one rarely knows how they will behave when they are really getting pushed.

Exactly my thoughts on the HE-500 when I got it. I used to describe it as if they were butchering fast and complex music compared to what I had at the time (in-ears and the dt880). Dynamic drivers don't really come close in surface area. They almost only emit sound from a single point (middle of the cone), whereas planars emit sound from all over the surface and therefore a planar sound wave will hit your ears.

My general feeling is that the 400 and 500 are very very fast, but the drivers don't decay as quickly as they react, giving kinda etchy transients or something like that.

 

A headphone like the hd800 does not  handle loud volumes that well. At 100 dB its distortion goes up a good bit from what I have seen on graphs.

post #11575 of 17946
Quote:
Originally Posted by amigomatt View Post


Ok, I bought my HE-400s in February and since then, I've been slowly working my way through this entire thread. I'm nearly finished now and wasn't going to join in until I got up to date, but I have to chime in on this subject as it keeps coming up.

Someone said something like the human voice doesn't produce tones above 2khz etc.. Well, that's untrue. The fundamental tone might not be higher than that, but there are lots of harmonics above that pitch that give it its unique timbre. These upper frequencies are not what a recording engineer would want to filter out! Quite the opposite - these are the tones that give the sound realism and identity. It's all these upper harmonics that distinguish a trumpet tone from a voice from a piano, all playing the same pitch but sounding different. Generally, these overtones are higher than the fundamental tone, not lower. Cutting these frequencies out would render it more difficult to distinguish the specific timbre of the sounding note. This is the information on a recording that gives it its lifelike and realistic qualities. Conversely, boosting them would absolutely cause an unnatural shrillness to the sound (what most people here are complaining about). But, don't think for a second that frequencies around 5-15khz don't make up any of the quality of a vocal sound. They do and they are key to giving that sound its realistic tone. They just don't sound good when exaggerated.

Yes, and no, no, NO. Overtones of vocals reach up to some max 3 kHz or something like that when we are talking vowels, but more like 2 kHz mostly. Consonants can reach a LOT higher, but they don't really have much to do with timbre, more sibilance, sense of air and the like.. 

In general I'd say timbre defining overtones of many instruments are to be found under some 5 kHz, probably with some exceptions. It is often below 5 kHz you find the 'presence' of many instruments. Of course somehting like a violin does extend higher, but I don't really think the actual timbre will change much if you EQ above 5-6kHz. Then we are more talking air, definition and maybe also some textural quality.

 

I am not very knowledgable in this matter so feel free to have other opinions, because I think this is an interesting subject, and I want to learn more.

 

Lack of treble tend to give a dull and flat sound, lack of upper mids tend to give an undefined and relaxed sound with less presence (also a more dark sound) IME.

 

I might want to try to experiment with an equalizer to see what happens to timbre and such when you scoop the mids, roll of treble and such. That would be interesting, just need some appropriate recordings for it.


Edited by davidsh - 7/24/13 at 6:08pm
post #11576 of 17946
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsh View Post

Yes, and no, no, NO. Overtones of vocals reach up to some max 3 kHz or something like that when we are talking vowels, but more like 2 kHz mostly. Consonants can reach a LOT higher, but they don't really have much to do with timbre, more sibilance, sense of air and the like.. 
In general I'd say timbre defining overtones of many instruments are to be found under some 5 kHz, probably with some exceptions. It is often below 5 kHz you find the 'presence' of many instruments. Of course somehting like a violin does extend higher, but I don't really think the actual timbre will change much if you EQ above 5-6kHz. Then we are more talking air, definition and maybe also some textural quality.

I am not very knowledgable in this matter so feel free to have other opinions, because I think this is an interesting subject, and I want to learn more.

Lack of treble tend to give a dull and flat sound, lack of upper mids tend to give an undefined and relaxed sound with less presence (also a more dark sound) IME.

I might want to try to experiment with an equalizer to see what happens to timbre and such when you scoop the mids, roll of treble and such. That would be interesting, just need some appropriate recordings for it.

I understand what you are saying, but I class presence, air and texture as all part of the 'timbre' of a sound. I can certainly tell you without having to check that adjusting even as high as 10khz will noticeably change the 'sound' of a recorded trumpet. Being a semi professional trumpet player with years of experience both recording and performing, it's these very high spikes in the HE-400s treble response that lead me to conclude that they don't present brass instruments with a realistic timbre. The same flaw would certainly apply to these cans representations of other instruments or voices where a more balanced delivery of these frequencies are key to retaining their timbre (female/high vocals?)
Edited by amigomatt - 7/24/13 at 6:19pm
post #11577 of 17946
Quote:
Originally Posted by amigomatt View Post

I understand what you are saying, but I class presence, air and texture as all part of the 'timbre' of a sound. I can certainly tell you without having to check that adjusting even as high as 10khz will noticeably change the 'sound' of a recorded trumpet. Being a semi professional trumpet player with years of experience both recording and performing, it's these very high spikes in the HE-400s treble response that lead me to conclude that they don't present brass instruments with a realistic timbre. The same flaw would certainly apply to these cans representations of other instruments or voices where a more balanced delivery of these frequencies are key to retaining their timbre (female/high vocals?)

Can't really disagree with that redface.gif I guess my point was that for the not that critical listener much of the basic timbre is to be found lower than 5 kHz.. But everything above do add a lot to the realism and texture, especially if you have played/heard said instrument live.

 

I highly doubt HE-400 is for you. I think you'd be more of a Stax kinda guy (!), alternatively HE-500 would do a lot better than HE-400 at least... Music can sound very enjoyable without retaining a correct timbre, and does for many. If you want true to life timbre the 400 is NOT for you!

post #11578 of 17946

Just a comment or two on the conversation above.  #1 it looks like he already has HE-400! It's in his signature.

 

Second, a trumpet is a pretty harsh sounding instrument a lot of the time in a live setting, just my opinion....

 

Third, Timbre is more based on fundamentals and texture, not higher frequencies that would be where you are getting harmonic overtones, not really what separates a guitar playing the same note as a trumpet, it contributes to the difference, but it's not the fundamental sound or texture of the sound

post #11579 of 17946

Timbre has been called, "...the psychoacoustician's multidimensional waste-basket category for everything that cannot be labeled pitch or loudness." (McAdams and Bregman 1979, 34; cf. Dixon Ward 1965, 55 and Tobias 1970, 409).

Many commentators have attempted to decompose timbre into component attributes. For example, J. F. Schouten (1968, 42) describes the, "...elusive attributes of timbre," as "...determined by at least five major acoustic parameters," which Robert Erickson (1975) finds, "...scaled to the concerns of much contemporary music":

  1. The range between tonal and noiselike character
  2. The spectral envelope
  3. The time envelope in terms of rise, duration, and decay (ADSR—attack, decay, sustain, release)
  4. The changes both of spectral envelope (formant-glide) and fundamental frequency (micro-intonation)
  5. The prefix, or onset of a sound, quite dissimilar to the ensuing lasting vibration
post #11580 of 17946
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmsaxon69 View Post

Just a comment or two on the conversation above.  #1 it looks like he already has HE-400! It's in his signature.

Second, a trumpet is a pretty harsh sounding instrument a lot of the time in a live setting, just my opinion....

Third, Timbre is more based on fundamentals and texture, not higher frequencies that would be where you are getting harmonic overtones, not really what separates a guitar playing the same note as a trumpet, it contributes to the difference, but it's not the fundamental sound or texture of the sound
You might be confusing timbre and pitch? Timbre has lots (everything) to do with harmonic overtones.
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