Originally Posted by purrin He's got a point though: untrained listeners may not prefer the more accurate transducer.
This also disagrees with Olive's findings (which I'm not exactly in love when it comes to translating to headphones) - in Olive's tests, people in general prefer more flat and accurate speakers out of a group, trained listeners just give you better study data and are better able to pick out the bad eggs.
Also, his audience is the layman, not the audiophile (it is CNET after all). Although it seems confusing because he purports to be an audiophile himself. Maybe he's some sort of commie-audiophile who wants to pull off a cultural revolution to destroy high-fidelity audio. I dunno. I'll go back to my first point: He wants to stir up crap so people pay attention to him.
I'm not really sure who Guttenberg is targeting - he writes on CNET, but also shows up in Home Theater, Stereophile, Head-Fi, InnerFidelity, etc - and I have no idea if this article is a reprint or an original piece for CNET. But I do agree with the general consumer bent that he takes, I think if anything he's trying to walk that "center line" between tweako audiophile and average user.
So this whole post was just a shameless plug for your posts?
(I kid, I kid!)
Also SG's understanding of accuracy in terms of measurements is extremely limited. There are many other measurable aspects of accuracy other than frequency response such as energy storage / decay, transient response, and non-linear distortion. For headphones, the issue of frequency response accuracy is relevant because headphones in general tend to be horribly uneven in frequency response with severe energy storage / decay issues - especially compared to speakers. Note that smoother even FR does not necessarily imply neutral. I think it's a good idea that not all headphones sound the same, but come on, most of the headphones out there are just way out in left field.
Yeah, I would agree with this straight up. Especially the bolded last part.
But TMK there's been no actual studies done on listener preference for what the ideal headphone would be like (I know that Denon claims to have done ergonomics studies for the D7100, and that Sennheiser and AKG both claim their respective flagships are the result of "lots of research" but who knows what either of those claims means), beyond Ultrasone's work on S-LOGIC vs other radiative alignments (which are mostly inconclusive beyond telling us that Ultrasone, as usual, is madness incarnate). And by actual studies, I mean something that complies with ITU standards, is repeatable, and isn't done for journalistic reasons. Actual research. Like what Olive does with speakers. I'm not aware of *anything* close to that for headphones.
lol. I just have to lol whenever I see positive press mention of brand spanking new megabuck products, and the 7100s seem to be the most virulently shilled yet - I've seriously yet to read a truly negative review outside of user impressions (and most user impressions are anything but glowing; is it me, or is it getting funky in here?).
With that above statement from SG, I have strong reservations about him. Is he truly an audio journalist or an audio shill? The D7100s I heard were extremely bassy with a suckout in the upper bass. That alone would be OK if not for the extreme amount of distortion. I didn't need measurements to tell me this. Quite frankly, I find Eminem and the Fugees better sounding from the HiFiMan HE500s than the D7100s.
Lol. Like you said - it's CNET. There is a *strong* "move units" vibe when it comes to individual product reviews. But then again, that's the point of the audio "press."
Ultimately, I think what SG needs to do is to decide and go on the record whether he is a audiophile interested in high-fidelity, or an audio journalist for the masses rather than keep confusing the issue. These two groups are distinct and have very different sonic aims.
I could buy this - as I said earlier, he appears in so many different publications and takes the same bent across the line; I get that he's "prolific" or whatever in the audio writing industry, but he doesn't seem to have a unified "point" to make. Very confusing to say the least.
And don't take any of the above as a direct attack if you please - I do agree with many of your criticisms, but I also agree with the "central thrust" of Guttenberg's argument in attacking the whole "as the artist intended" and "flat rules the day" themes. I think the problem is that he makes statements like that, and then uses them to cover his tail for pushing the chicken (figuratively speaking). The other side of the coin is that the community is (seemingly) collectively onboard with pushing "flat and accurate" as the end of the world, and doesn't take into account personal preference - sure, there are studies (like those by Olive and Koenig) that say people, on average, will tend to preference, on average, the relatively flattest response of a series. But I think the problem is when we start extrapolating that and saying "you will like this one more because the squiggly is the right shape" - based on what? Ignoring that there's nothing that says what the "right squiggly" is for a pair of headphones, and ignoring that based on Koenig's writings there is likely no such thing as a "right squiggly" for all heads, what about the outliers? What kind of confidence are we making those generalizations with?
Again, I'm not saying we should have all of these insanely screwed up and quite frankly really megabad products, I'm just saying that one size fits all probably isn't as applicable here as it is with speakers. And that's more what I got out of Guttenberg's article.
Originally Posted by lejaz
quote from ultrabike:
3) "Buyer preferences for headphones are somewhat different than they are for speakers, but most people prefer bass emphasized over "flat," or more accurate-sounding models."
I find myself liking more accurate-sounding models. Is SG selling the idea that bass emphasized models will produce more "lifelike and realistic" sound? [end quote]
I think most audiophiles and audio enthusiasts would agree. All the new models from the major headphone manufacturers are attempts at 'flatness' and accuracy, AFAIK. Or Shure wouldn't have come out with the 940 and the new open models, AKG the 550... the new Beyer and Sennheisers, I assume are the same....attempts at high fidelity....not boomboxes for the ears. If a manufacturer could guarantee 100% fidelity at a consumer friendly price(impossible of course) wouldn't we all buy it? I assume people spending big bucks for a new lens for their camera are looking for transparency, not distortion and color. Wouldn't the same hold true for audio? It's the fact that total transparency is unobtainable, however, that makes this hobby interesting. We can experience all the different colorations that different equipment adds and debate which has a 'better' coloration.
I'd probably agree with what ultrabike is insinuating, but for a different reason: a lot of average consumers/normal users are buying headphones for portable or transportable use, not to sit in a "listening room" - and "boosted bass" can be a godsend in mobile environments when your chosen celebrifone has terrible low-end isolation. If that makes any sense. There's also the old adage that bass sells, and even with the most bass boosted headphone, you don't have anywhere the same mud and blood presentation you'll get with a bad subwoofer in a bad room (I mean what's the highest THD you've captured for LF on a headphone yet purin? Like 10%? And maybe like 10-15ms for a really bad ridge?).
To the other point - I'd probably disagree. Most of the new models that are "audiophile style" target extremely boosted treble as a means of being "detailed and accurate" and (perhaps somewhat snarkily) being different from the bass-boosted "DJ style" or "celebrity headphone" products that most audiophile poseurs wish to delineate themselves from. It's still a form of outward social presentation and all that (because remember, this stuff is all meant to be worn around in public). And I think that's probably the bigger disservice to all customers - it's saying that audiophiles want +30 dB at 10khz, and that "normal folks" want +30 dB at 100hz. Neither is really flat nor accurate. But both sides will still insist they're letting you "hear the music as the artist intended" - which is where I say "gag me" and get off that carousel.
I wanted to add that I agree with ultrabike's complaint that Guttenberg's claim that "measurements are less than the range of human hearing" (what a tired old crutch that is) - but I didn't grab his post in a quote. We can absolutely "see" whatever phenomenon we want to "see" - the question is then how do you INTERPRET it. That's where HSR needs to be done, and I think (at least in this field) there's more application than there is theory. Which leads to a lot of misunderstanding.Edited by obobskivich - 9/3/12 at 1:21pm