I'd like to get a good, cheap SPL meter and walk around with it all day + apply it to my headphones and home theater. Anyone know a good cheap one that does dBA and dBC weighting as well?
Using an App and my Nexus I am usually reaching uncomfortable @ 60-70 dB . Ambient noise is somewhere around 30-34 dB. I have no idea how accurate the Nexus or the app are (does the mic REALLY pick up 20 hz to 20 khz?), and don't yet have another tool to compare results. But I've turned up the headphones to a high level and jammed the mic next to the cup and also recorded about 60-70 dB. So would tend to believe, very much, that 80 dB is the threshold of pain and that the loudest I can usually stand to go to for short periods is 70 dB+music peaks.
Hence taking all these measurements at 90 dB and 100 dB is, to me, starting to look like dinging a Chevy Impala because it didn't handle like a Corvette at 100 mph. It is great to have "headroom" given the dynamics of music, but I would like to see measurements at 60, 70, and 80 dB as well as those would better capture my typical comfortable listening level.
I am getting older myself, but I can still hardly stand cities - subways, traffic, Airplanes. I go home with my voice hoarse from shout-talking all day. I have some slight hearing damage in my left ear from a non-music related issue, but still pick out lots of detail and am a better stereo "tuner" than most people I meet. Chalk that up to experimenting, reading, and paying attention for a lot of years.
Like you, perhaps, I have never found the HE-400 particularly "colored", and in fact find them quite neutral (perhaps a tad bass light / thin sounding initially), though the founder of the company claims to have sought an "American" (JBL) sound. That would translate as colored. Did he succeed? EQ'd+modded pleathers, I would say that they sound amazing more often than not and even if they are colored it is hardly noticeable or distracting. But as an owner of JBL speakers, I would say that Fang did get the "California sound" about right - somewhat subdued upper midrange coupled to a fairly bright treble (yet with pleathers, the bass is warm with excellent texture as opposed to "boomy" warm). My Pioneer speakers measure essentially flat and a major difference is the superior imaging / staging and always recognizable midrange. In fact, a little more bass punch and treble would actually be nice once in awhile. But I would call them warm and detailed. Maybe Apples to Oranges comparing headphones to speakers but, I find that the Pioneers, while presenting a more accurate tonal balance overall, don't make me feel as if the HE-400 is missing anything particularly critical. Quite the opposite. The speed of the planar drivers keeps offering up a sense of realism at times which is just surprising and satisfying over and over again.
Maybe someday I'll get some Maggies!
Get the Maggies, I had some MG-2B's back in college (late 70's) and they were great. Really need a dedicated room for them and they are not very efficient so a good class A amp helps (Mark Levinson ML-20's, Harmon Kardon Citation XX, Nakamichi & SAE Preamp). Sold the MG-2b's when I got married and really missed them so after I got divorced in 1998 got back into listening to music again and got a pair of 1.6's a few year ago and currently have them in storage since I moved into a 1 bedroom condo. As soon as my girlfriend and I move to a 2 bedroom all my audio gear in storage is coming back out and 1 bedroom will be sound room. Might not be using headphones much after that, lol.