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Which headphone has the most neutral tonal balance? (poll)

Poll Results: What is the most neutral dynamic flagship?

 
  • 40% (20)
    Sennheiser HD800
  • 26% (13)
    Audeze LCD3
  • 16% (8)
    Hifiman HE6
  • 6% (3)
    Beyerdynamic T1
  • 8% (4)
    Hifiman HE500
  • 4% (2)
    Denon D7000
50 Total Votes  
post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Seems like everyone has a different idea of which headphone sounds most neutral.  So I thought it would be interesting to see what the majority opinion is on what is the most neutral tonal balance.  

 

By neutral tonal balance, I mean the headphone that adds the least coloration (No extra bass oomph or treble, completely transparent).  Btw this means ignoring soundstage, detail retrieval, speed, and all those other things that make these headphones awesome.  

 

Hopefully this just doesn't turn into a headphone popularity contest.

 

Also if you think I left out a headphone that deserves a spot on this poll lemme know.  

 

EDIT:  I did not include electrostats, because relatively few have heard them, cost/barriers to entry are large (for most of the commonly known ones), and I suspected Sr 009 would take the cake.


Edited by rrahman - 7/14/12 at 10:10pm
post #2 of 24

A lot of people would argue the 600/650 to be more neutral than 800, and 880 to be more neutral than T1.

 

Also, the Audeze and Hifimans are not dynamics.

post #3 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post

Also, the Audeze and Hifimans are not dynamics.

 

Indeed, they're orthodynamic/planar-magnetics.

 

Since only the poll question states "What is the most neutral dynamic flagship?" while the thread title and post content make no mentions of specific transducer technologies, I was scratching my head wondering why the Stax SR-009 of all things, praised for its total neutrality in reviews, didn't make it in when both dynamics and orthos did. Then you pointed out the orthos that don't really fit in there because of the poll question...

 

I suggest that the OP either make it very clear in the thread title that this is a dynamic-only discussion, or open it up to all transducer types.

post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

 

Indeed, they're orthodynamic/planar-magnetics.

 

Since only the poll question states "What is the most neutral dynamic flagship?" while the thread title and post content make no mentions of specific transducer technologies, I was scratching my head wondering why the Stax SR-009 of all things, praised for its total neutrality in reviews, didn't make it in when both dynamics and orthos did. Then you pointed out the orthos that don't really fit in there because of the poll question...

 

I suggest that the OP either make it very clear in the thread title that this is a dynamic-only discussion, or open it up to all transducer types.

 

I excluded electrostats, because of 3 reasons; relatively few have heard them, cost/barriers to entry are large (for most of them), and I suspected Sr 009 would take the cake.  

 

I agree w/ the typo on placing planars in the group, but at this price point who wouldn't wonder why not include the planars.


Edited by rrahman - 7/14/12 at 10:00pm
post #5 of 24

the correct answers are not on the poll list, and they'd be the (joe) grado hp2, and the stax sr-009. some might also include the akg k1000, or perhaps some of the orthos, both older and newer.

if you want to include iems the uerm, and their latest uber creation as well as the jh13 are all wonderfully neutral devices (and yes, i'm aware of the sub bass bump in the jh13s, but it's executed in such a way as to give you a sense of very low frequencies in a way that's difficult for such tiny drivers so close to your eardrum normally have a hard time achieving, and they sound quite natural!

there are probably some other customs that i don't have experience with that are very good too.


Edited by daveDerek - 7/16/12 at 1:47am
post #6 of 24

Most people regularly reading this section of the forum have heard few, if any, of these cans.  I have heard only 2 of them.  This is a topic best posted in the Summit-Fi section of the forum.

post #7 of 24
As others have said, the correct answers are unavailable. There should be at least one kind of Grado up there, and a probably a whole slew of other dynamic and electrostatic cans. The easy answer to your question is there no easy answer and there is no group consensus. The corollary is that money doesn't buy performance.
post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

As others have said, the correct answers are unavailable. There should be at least one kind of Grado up there, and a probably a whole slew of other dynamic and electrostatic cans. The easy answer to your question is there no easy answer and there is no group consensus. The corollary is that money doesn't buy performance.

Well it only makes sense to compare similarly priced headphones, for the same reasons I excluded stax.  The assumption is most people who have purchased/heard a headphone at this level have spent a decent amount of time evaluating the other headphones priced at the same range.  In retrospect I probably should have included the HP2, lcd2 and edition 8.

 

What other dynamic cans do you think belong in the poll priced from 1-2k?

post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by rrahman View Post

Well it only makes sense to compare similarly priced headphones, for the same reasons I excluded stax.  The assumption is most people who have purchased/heard a headphone at this level have spent a decent amount of time evaluating the other headphones priced at the same range.  In retrospect I probably should have included the HP2, lcd2 and edition 8.

What other dynamic cans do you think belong in the poll priced from 1-2k?

At least one Grado (RS-1, GS-1000, or PS-1000) should be mentioned, and there's a number of electrostats that fit into your criteria as well (ESP/950, SR-507, etc). Again, price doesn't always correlate to performance, and there is no universal "best" - there's just "best for you." I also wouldn't assume people are doing a lot of homework - there's plenty of newbies who will jump on a T1 or HD800 simply because it's the most expensive offering from Amazon.
post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post


At least one Grado (RS-1, GS-1000, or PS-1000) should be mentioned, and there's a number of electrostats that fit into your criteria as well (ESP/950, SR-507, etc). Again, price doesn't always correlate to performance, and there is no universal "best" - there's just "best for you." I also wouldn't assume people are doing a lot of homework - there's plenty of newbies who will jump on a T1 or HD800 simply because it's the most expensive offering from Amazon.

 

I don't agree with most of what your saying... but i still appreciate your input.

 

1) There is a general consensus of what is neutral and which can (or cans) are closer to it than others. Its not just a random smattering.  After all I think you can surely point out which cans are not likely to win a consensus on neutrality (edition 10 anyone?)

 

2) Most Grado's are purposefully colored and stray away from the herd.

 

3) Perhaps the koss 950 and stax sr507 is the most neutral.  Still wouldn't be worthwhile putting it in here since so few have heard it couldn't win in a poll.  Although I guess a greater representation that expected may be significant.

 

4) Price has a correlation w/ quality, it may not be perfect or exact, but its there.  Moreover my aim w/ the poll has nothing to do w/ quality or whats best.  This suggests that is fair to compare cans in the same price range and likewise unfair to compare cans in different price ranges.

 

5) The assumption isn't that people are doing their homework, for the most part few do their homework at any price range.  Rather that a greater percentage of people are doing their homework.  This is a loose point, but I still think its salient.

post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by rrahman View Post

I don't agree with most of what your saying... but i still appreciate your input.
1) There is a general consensus of what is neutral and which can (or cans) are closer to it than others. Its not just a random smattering.  After all I think you can surely point out which cans are not likely to win a consensus on neutrality (edition 10 anyone?)

I'm unaware of such consensus, but if you say it exists...

The problem is that "flat" does not mean "neutral" - you can have a v-shape can that sounds "neutral" or "tonally accurate" because it makes a piano sound like a piano and a voice sound like a voice, but it doesn't measure like a board. Resonance can play into this as well.

As far as cans I'd add to the list that shouldn't be considered flat/un-colored:
Beyers (massive treble boosts)
Denons (massive mid-bass/bass boosts)
Sennheisers (treble boosts or mid-range drops or mid-bass boosts)
Grados (treble boosts or mid-bass boosts or extension issues)
Ultrasones (massive treble boosts and/or massive mid-bass boosts and/or screwy mid-range)

But having said that, how many of those SOUND flat to listeners? Or how many sound tonally accurate, while not being flat? wink.gif

To give you an example, a few years ago a lot of people "discovered" the Beyer DT48 and got together and insisted they have the most accurate vocal reproduction of any headphone made (even compared to some of the items on your list, that were available then). But the DT48 are *not* flat and are *not* uncolored (their FR actually looks pretty screwy). That's an example of consensus telling us something is accurate without it having to be uncolored. Grados are a lot the same way. Instruments can sound "right" but the headphones themselves aren't "flat" or similar.


Quote:
2) Most Grado's are purposefully colored and stray away from the herd.

So how is "neutral" not "colored" - or did you mean to say measures flat? In which case it's between Aude'ze, and a few 'stats (based on measurements from Tyll and Purrin). Most of the cans up there are "purposefully colored" - and "the herd" doesn't target anything universal anymore (because nobody aims at flat, you've got the "audiophile hi-fi" crowd trying to run 10-30 dB up at 10khz (is that neutral? is that uncolored?) and Aude'ze doing their own thing with an equally dramatic roll-off up there, and STAX and Koss that don't fit into either camp, so what's "average"?).

This can go round and round back to the "what is flat" argument which will eventually death-spiral down the drain. I'm also not the first person to mention Grado in this thread. rolleyes.gif
Quote:
3) Perhaps the koss 950 and stax sr507 is the most neutral.  Still wouldn't be worthwhile putting it in here since so few have heard it couldn't win in a poll.  Although I guess a greater representation that expected may be significant.

So the goal is no longer to find what's actually most "neutral," it's just a popularity contest. redface.gif
Quote:
4) Price has a correlation w/ quality, it may not be perfect or exact, but its there.

You already mentioned the Edition 10, do I need to say anything else?

I'm not trying to denigrate you, but I don't see how your question applies to what you want - in your original post you said this: "I mean the headphone that adds the least coloration (No extra bass oomph or treble, completely transparent)." But then you list off a bunch of currently popular cans that are inherently colored and non-flat, and refuse people telling you to include headphones that are inherently flat, transparent, etc on your list. Because they're unpopular. That's where I'm confused. I also don't quite get what you hope to gain from this, but that has never stopped me from participating in discussion about cans before - because after all, it's fun. smily_headphones1.gif

See this thread too:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/615781/what-high-end-phones-for-me-who-prefers-musicality-over-accuracy
Edited by obobskivich - 7/15/12 at 9:44pm
post #12 of 24

I'd say Grado HP-1000,oh my!,i can't believe i said just the ''G'' word!,just kidding!...or am i?.


Edited by stacker45 - 7/15/12 at 9:49pm
post #13 of 24

Grado with neutral tonal balance?! Gotta check that out if I have the chance!

post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post
 

 

Well, I guess to clarify what I meant...

 

 

 

First, a poll isn't going to pick up anything meaningful about a headphone like the koss950, because few have experienced them.  That doesn't mean this is strictly a popularity contest, rather that its a comparison amongst the readily available headphones.  So in that regard, there is an element of popularity involved.  I mean, I could include some old school yamaha ortho's, the k1000, and lots of obscure headphones, but they don't have a chance vs a headphone that is readily available and commonly reviewed.  I'm not saying your crazy for suggesting it.  I was impressed when I heard the Koss950, just the nature of a poll makes putting it in there kinda futile.  

 

I realize flat FR and waterfall plots aren't an accurate representation for what is neutral, since there are variations between distance of the driver and ear drum, reflections caused by the pinna, differing interpretations/rational for peaks n valleys etc.  Also in looking at the graphs I think most people would argue these headphones seem to be clustering around some theoretical ideal FR  Looking at them, I think you could also make an argument for any of the headphones I listed as being closest to this "ideal" curve.  So I guess my point is the headphones are more similar than different, which suggests they are aiming for the same thing.

 

So my opinion on grado's is just an opinion, I would have liked to include them in this for that reason.  I think they sound drastically different from the others in the group.

 

Only in the T1 I notice has a peak at 10khz... and none of these headphones have peaks/valleys as high as 30db.

 

Edition 10s existence doesn't negate either of our opinions.  Cost has an imperfect correlation w/ quality, which odd as it sounds I think you agree.

post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 

Also... as good as any headphone is, no headphone is "inherently flat, transparent"

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