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B&W P3 - can the sound be "fixed"?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
First, let me clarify the title - I had a listen to these recently in less than ideal conditions (Apple store), an to me there was a clear difference compared to the P5, with the P3 sounding noticeable worse than the P5. So, to me, the P3 sound needs something done to improve it, hence using the term "fix" in the title. I realise that there are people that have the p3 and love them - that's fine, but this thread isn't aimed at them :-).

My issue with them is that the highs sounded quite distant, something that others have noticed as well. For example, when listening to a Bob Dylan track, the acoustic guitar just sounded further away then on the P5.

So, what I'd like to know is, has anyone managed to improve the sound to fix the issue that I hear? For example, some things that may be possible targets for investigation:

Amplifier - would an amp be able to bring back the highs...? I'm not sure one would make enough difference...
Cables - does one of the included ones sound different to the other? Has anyone made new cables for them?
Ear pads - Tyll reports that removing them improves things a lot, but there's clearly other issues with removing them or cutting part of the foam out.
Positioning - I've read that this can have an impact, but my (admittedly brief) listen didn't suggest much impact here.
EQ - I'm not a fan, but can it improve things?

Any suggestions? And please don't just suggest getting a different headphone, I'm aware of what alternatives are available, but I'm interested in what can be done to improve these headphones.

Thanks,

Dave.
Edited by digitaldave - 9/7/12 at 1:55pm
post #2 of 24
Interested in your comments.

I have spent about 4 hours in Apple stores this week comparing the P3 against the P5. I had read wonderful things about the P3 being better than the P5. As a P5 owner I just had to check.
After ensuring that the Apple store iTouchs were identically set up I auditioned these 3 times in 2 separate stores. For me the P3 wins hands down but I just could not decide whether to buy the black or white version.

Similarly to you I found that the P3's treble was more restrained / civilised but without the stridency that the P5 can rapidly introduce. Also the whole sound spectrum sounded better integrated with a more expansive soundstage.

Different ears, different results.

Ian
Edited by xeroian - 9/7/12 at 2:08pm
post #3 of 24
Hey Digitaldave, I have just twigged that we only live about 15 miles apart. Ian
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 

Ian,

 

Thanks for the reply. It's interesting that although you've heard the same differences, what I perceive as faults, you see as strengths. Vive la différence!

 

The testing environment wasn't the best, but I was concerned that if I could hear the difference between them clearly in the store, then it must be a real difference, at least to my ears. I'm going to try to have another really good listen to them soon to make sure that the difference I hear is one that's really going to be a negative for me. After all, with extended listening, I may end up finding that the P3 is actually a good solution for me. 

 

Did you go for black or white in the end? wink_face.gif.

 

Dave.

 

PS, you have PM

post #5 of 24
Although If I bought the black ones my wife would never notice I had yet more phones I am very drawn to the white. They are verging on the iconic. They would only be used indoors. In public I am only brave enough to wear IEMs.

I am planning to buy a white pair from The Apple store next week knowing that I can return them for any reason within 14 days. Then I can do some serious comparison work.

In answer to your earlier question I don't think an amplifier will make the difference you are seeking although Apple's line out signal is generally better than that from the headphone socket.

I have found that the bass reducer EQ setting can produce good results.

Ian
post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 

Funny you should mention EQ settings, I just read a review (by Dale Thorn) that said something very similar - he used the treble boost, but I guess the end result is similar. Getting tempted, they do look very nice, and comfy too...

post #7 of 24

IDK if this has been mentioned yet, but positioning with the P3 is very important.  It can make a difference between a veiled sounding headphone from a good sounding one.  If you move the headphones forward (forward = direction you are looking), you'll induce more bass (and more veil).  If you move them back (towards the back of your ear/head), then you'll notice more midrange with a loss of bass veil (as well as an increase in treble).  

post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 

Positioning is certainly something I'll investigate when I listen to them again, it'll be at a meet, but hopefully much better conditions than in an apple store. I seem to remember that the PX200s I had ages ago had positioning issues as well...

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

Positioning is certainly something I'll investigate when I listen to them again, it'll be at a meet, but hopefully much better conditions than in an apple store. I seem to remember that the PX200s I had ages ago had positioning issues as well...

 

It's not uncommon with small on ears...  Positioning becomes key simply due to the anatomy of the outer ear boosting frequencies around 3k quite a bit.  Read this Wiki article for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_ear

post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 

Update time...

 

I was at the UK meet yesterday, and someone had a pair of P3s that I was able to listen to, and the owner made an interesting suggestion - turn the ear pads up the other way. My initial reaction was that it shouldn't make much difference, but for some reason, it made it sound much better, with the highs being improved massively. The only problem with doing this is that they aren't designed to be used that way up, as there's a slight recess to accommodate the cable plugs, and the magnets are not ideally located for that orientation, so they fall off easily. I'm not 100% sure what was going on, but it looked like with them upside down, part of the pad moulding appears to block the bottom of the grille covering the driver. I don't know if there's anything else going on though. Whatever it's actually doing, it definitely made a difference.

 

Based on that, I'd like to ask a favour of someone that has a pair of P3s and some tape that wouldn't mind trying a little bodging / DIY... IF there's someone out there that is willing to try, have a look at what part of the grille is covered with the pads on upside down, and try putting a small piece of tape (electricians tape would be good I suspect) in the same place, so the grill would then be partly covered but with the pads on the right way up. Hopefully that makes sense :).

 

I'm not sure where the original idea for this came from, so if anyone has any links to the original suggestion, please share them. However, I'd love to see if anyone else has any success with either turning the pads upside down, or with putting some tape on the grilles.

 

Thanks,

 

Dave.

post #11 of 24

I fixed highs with some modding of the pads. Good news is you dont have to cut at all. Just put a paperboard inside the pads between the foam and case. Detailed info is here
http://www.head-fi.org/t/640163/b-w-p3-pad-mod
 

post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
devoker,

Thanks for posting your mod findings. Great news that seems to confirm my thoughts from the uk meet. I may have to pick up a pair now that I know the sound can be altered more to my tastes.
post #13 of 24

Try to recable?

post #14 of 24
Struggling to work out what you have done in your thread. Perhaps you could photo your mod. when it is separated from the earpad.
Also do you still attach the earpad upside down?
Edited by xeroian - 12/10/12 at 1:23pm
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by xeroian View Post

Struggling to work out what you have done in your thread. Perhaps you could photo your mod. when it is separated from the earpad.
Also do you still attach the earpad upside down?
The idea is to put something hard in front of foam. I used a hard piece of paper anything would work. I inserted it between the foam and the body of the pad. No need to attach the pads upside after this.
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