Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Headphones that can be "fixed" with Equalizers
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Headphones that can be "fixed" with Equalizers

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I've been meaning to start this thread for a while but haven't got round to doing it. 

 

There's a lot of headphones out there each with their own sound signature that makes them unique. Due to these different sound signatures we tend to make a list of headphones that are suitable for what we want while ignoring others that don't meet all or most of our requirements. My question is this. Which headphones can be be "fixed" by equalizing and how would you go about doing it.

 

For example, I might be looking for a headphone with forward vocals, so (based on reviews) the D2000 and DT770 would be out of the question. But I would also like something with a decent bass in which case the AD700/900's would also be out of the question. Now it would be a real shame if I actually liked most things about the headphones such as their looks and comfort, but am unable to buy them just because they don't have the right sound. If they could be "fixed" by a simple EQ, then it would make buying headphones a lot easier and widen the choices.

 

Giving an example from myself. I'm looking for an open backed headphone with an engaging sound signature for vocals like the grado's but with less treble, better comfort, a bit less forwardness but the same or better bass slam. The only headphone that seems to fit this description is the AD2000 but it goes way beyond what I initially wanted to spend. 

 

Now I am a noob at all this, so my contribution to this thread will be miniscule but I know not all headphones can be cured by an equalizer. The AD900's for example will not give out any bass impact no matter how much you boost the bass. And increasing the bass, even by a few db has an immediate impact on the clarity which makes it what it is. Other may suffer from distortion when you mess around with the frequency and some headphones cannot be cured of their "metallic" or "plastic" sound as I've heard said about the Beyers and AKG's.

 

I was thinking maybe we could all get our knowledge and experience and maybe compile a list of headphones that are EQable and exactly what eq you would do i.e +2 @ 50Hz etc.

 

 

Not sure how popular this thread will become, or whether it's already been done before. Or maybe it's just a silly idea, I don't know. Anyway I await your idea and contributions.

 

Feel free to use your own formats, but here's an example of what I mean

 

Denon D2000

Common problems : Solution 

Recessed vocals -  : +2dB @ 1kHz 

Lack of bass punch : + 3dB @ 250Hz

 

(I haven't owned the denons, this is just an example. Please don't shoot redface.gif)


Edited by RayleighSilvers - 5/2/12 at 6:15pm
post #2 of 21

I personally believe every single pair of headphones deserves equalization, no doubt. There is almost no headphone that has the "perfect" sound signature for your personal listening preferences and that they should all be shaped around your own personal listening.

 

Here is an example of one of my personal equalizations: 

UveJ7.jpg

KRK KNS 6400: 

Heavy flat EQ to sub-bass because it is linear at sub-bass frequencies, but requires emphasis to make it stand out.

Peak at ~50-70hz due to a dip I detected with sine wave sweeps and also measurements. Emphasis to bass continues through these frequencies.

Dip at 2-4khz due to most headphones typically rolling off that part of the treble, whereas the KRKs emphasize it. Tames the "shouty" and forward nature of the vocals a bit. 

Small dip at 10khz to help tame the 9-10khz hump that most headphones have a bit. 

Optional: Increase emphasis at 100-200hz by a few dB to increase overall warmth and help defrost the mids a bit more.

post #3 of 21

EQ can be used to marginally improve certain parts of the spectrum, but you cannot work around the design and properties of the headphone drivers. Think about it in this way, the frequency response of the headphone tells you the output for a perfectly flat input, so a signal at 0dB gets either increased or reduced by some factor. The higher this factor, the harder it will be to EQ out that region of the spectrum.

post #4 of 21

I've had some pretty good success with EQ in the past. I've always had issues with every headphone I ever owned, that is until I got to the AD2000. biggrin.gif They are literally perfect and don't need any EQ or anything for my ears. YMMV of course. It's definitely easier to subtract than add something. A bass light headphone, if you try to bass boost it, might just become muddy or distort like you said. Bringing out a recessed midrange is very tricky. Taming a treble peak or something like that works quite well though.

post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

EQ can be used to marginally improve certain parts of the spectrum, but you cannot work around the design and properties of the headphone drivers. Think about it in this way, the frequency response of the headphone tells you the output for a perfectly flat input, so a signal at 0dB gets either increased or reduced by some factor. The higher this factor, the harder it will be to EQ out that region of the spectrum.

To an extent, but this factor is relatively low. You can check out the distortion numbers on Inner Fidelity for the change in distortion compared at 90dB and 100dB. The idea of the factor making things "harder to EQ" out is minor. 

 

You are right that you can't work around the design and certain properties of the headphone drivers. For example, the damping on the driver -- an overdamped driver will never have loose, boom bass. A particularly underdamped driver will never speed up to be tightened. The overall clarity of the sound won't improve. 

 

It's basically at the point where, assuming the driver doesn't have absurd distortion at a certain frequency, I no longer pay attention to the base frequency response of the headphone. All I care about are the other characteristics that I cannot change, like the nature of the bass, the clarity of the sound, and the overall soundstaging. Equalization is amazing.

post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by manveru View Post

I've had some pretty good success with EQ in the past. I've always had issues with every headphone I ever owned, that is until I got to the AD2000. biggrin.gif They are literally perfect and don't need any EQ or anything for my ears. YMMV of course. It's definitely easier to subtract than add something. A bass light headphone, if you try to bass boost it, might just become muddy or distort like you said. Bringing out a recessed midrange is very tricky. Taming a treble peak or something like that works quite well though.

This is why you always equalize down. When you equalize up, you risk distorting the sound. Equalizing basically makes you require a stronger amplifier. I think it is people experimenting while equalizing up that give it a bad name, 

post #7 of 21

I get distortion even while EQing up or down via software EQs, it makes no difference.  I think you might be talking about clipping.

 

Maybe eventually I'd invest into a good hardware EQ, but they can cost a lot as well.

post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post

I get distortion even while EQing up or down via software EQs, it makes no difference.  I think you might be talking about clipping.

 

Maybe eventually I'd invest into a good hardware EQ, but they can cost a lot as well.

 

You are correct, I am talking about clipping. You could get more distortion in a frequency band.

For example, I could definitely see EQing the bass up on the AD700 ( http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AudioTechnicaATHAD700.pdf ) signficantly causing unwanted distortion beyond acceptable levels. Assuming you don't have that type of distortion at a given frequency, though, it seems safe to equalize up and not expect a significant amount of distortion at a reasonable listening level. 

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post

I get distortion even while EQing up or down via software EQs, it makes no difference.  I think you might be talking about clipping.

Maybe eventually I'd invest into a good hardware EQ, but they can cost a lot as well.

You can avoid this clipping by lowering the preamp in some software based EQs by how much your max DB boost is. For example lets say I'm using iTunes and have various bands set up on the EQ. My highest one is +3db, if this is the case you need to lower the db on the preamp by -3db and you won't have to worry about clipping, you may have to turn your headphones or headphone up higher to match the same volume levels but you won't have to worry about distortion causing by clipping. The only downside is that, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this lowers the overall dynamic range. However I've not been able to observe an audible difference in dynamic range.
post #10 of 21

Yes I know.

post #11 of 21

I've had "success" in adjusting my SR80i's with some slight eq'ing (along with the L-cush pads & the tape mod). 

 

Followed Tyll's suggestions from the Grado-pads post and am very happy with it.  

 

Having said that, calling it "fixing" headphones goes a bit far.  The headphone's natural signature can be adjusted, but it's at the margin.  I.E.  If you are already a fan of the 'phone but want it to be a little bit "better" / "different", eq'ing can help you do that.  So, you want to the Grado's a bit, a slight drop around 2 khz may be just what you need.  

 

You can turn a really good headphone, into a great headphone.

 

In the end, it's a matter of degrees and I definitely would not expect agreement from the head-fi community on this type of a thread.

 

Best of luck in your quest.

post #12 of 21

I would think that headphones with reasonable frequency responses (no extreme colorations) would be the best to EQ.

 

There is a noticeable lack of discussion regarding EQing among audiophiles. I think this might be because it doesn't (necessarily) involve spending money.
 

post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eisenhower View Post

I would think that headphones with reasonable frequency responses (no extreme colorations) would be the best to EQ.

 

There is a noticeable lack of discussion regarding EQing among audiophiles. I think this might be because it doesn't (necessarily) involve spending money.
 

ROFL! darthsmile.gif

post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayleighSilvers View Post

ROFL! darthsmile.gif

 

+1

post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 

I really thought this thread would get more interest. I'm not really keen on the idea of EQing myself. When I've spent money on something I want it to work without having to do anything. I also believe it's kinda like "cheating" Although this can also be seen as ridiculous since it's not a competition. It's just that knowing that I've altered the headphones in some way kinda kills what it is, and the fake sound I'm listening to is always in the back of my head. 

 

It's like cars. I absolutely hate modding cars. I believe I should buy them how the manufacturer intended for them to be. When I see heavily modded cars on the road (generally done by kids) I can't stand them. But if a manufacter came out with the same design I wouldn't mind it, would probably even like it. I'm a purist in that sense. As I said in my OP though, it would be silly to disregard a headphone which I mostly like and spend a lot more money buying a different just because it has 1 killer problem (e.g recessed mids) that could be "fixed" with a little adjusting.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphones (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Headphones that can be "fixed" with Equalizers