HEY, I resemble that remark.
If I was more incensed, I would represent it.........
Old habits die hard..
From the Shure SE846 thread:
From Mercer's Gloves Off thread:
And "...true to life" is the 'absolute sound' objective.
And time for a personal opinion:
This cannot be understood with 'synthetic' or electronic music. For where is the benchmark / reference?
It may be enjoyable, it may sound 'good', but how it compares to 'true to life' is anyone's guess.
I would say that you'd have to rely on how well the headphone renders more acoustically-driven genres (especially live or minimally-processed/multitracked performances thereof), or else how wide its general genre coverage is, and extrapolate from there. You're absolutely right, though. What would you base your judgment on for music which only really exists as a final mix? For that matter, what does a heavily multitracked studio recording really sound like, when everything was recorded in isolation, then mixed together at the whim of an engineer?
Generally (and this is just a big fat generalization on my part), neutralish (whatever that even means) headphones tend to have wider genre coverage than headphones with obvious coloration, at least insofar as I've gathered from my own (humble) experience and from reading many, many recommendation threads. When somebody is looking for a good all-rounder, generally the recommendations lean toward such a neutral balance. I'd say that if a headphone doesn't sound obviously wrong with any genre thrown at it (e.g. bloated midbass or shouty upper midrange or lack of upper extension), the way it renders any specific genre is probably fairly accurate. Now whether you like that sound for that genre is an entirely different matter.
There don't seem to be many absolutes in this hobby. That's why if I'm enjoying what I hear, I just try to shut the rest of the stuff out.
From the Grado modders' thread: Experiments with the "tape mod":
seems to be posting time - so i post some information about what i did last year to make custom bowls.
after buying my first grado (SR225i) last year or the year before i tried to improve bass and comfort by making my own bowls to improve the sound without modding the sr225i itself.
after reading a lot of articles here i thought
- that socks are a must
- the tape mod is nice as basis but should be thought to an end
- i was also inspired by tyll hertsens post on innerfidelity about standard grado and modded grado bowls
so i had the idea
- to put something around standard bowls
- to build something to put around the bowls to extend them in size
- to use socks to cover whatever i put around
after a lot of testing and listening here are the results - my custom grado bowl extension set:
it consists of different rings for the extension of the bowls, the sound tuning rings, the i call them "sound tuning chips" (that were inspired by tyll hertsens article on innerfidelity and his measurement and implication of bass response and size, i,e. diameter and circumference of the bowls):
i also tested different socks (very thin, normal, thick), in general the thicker the socks, the more bass, but this is achieved by absorbing the highs and loosing detail, precision and overall sound quality, so as result i only used very thin socks (thin socks size 39-42).
to explain the different parts, here are some samples:
as replacement for the tape mod the sound tuning rings can be used by just putting them around a standard bowl:
left - the first ring is made out of felt 2mm thick - very homogenous sounding, adds some warmth to the sound, so for example slightly more bass, less harsh highs
right - the second ring is made out of two layers of strong tape - improves the bass but as there is no glue between bowl and ring slightly less effective than tape directly glued to the bowl.
This is a bowl i made especially for the SR225i:
the bowl is extended by a bowl extension ring made out of felt 6mm thick, linear shape and 4 sound tuning ships between bowl and extension ring, a sock wrapped around the extension ring:
here the extension ring is made out of felt 6mm thick. the thicker the felt here, the more the bass is improved. to make the ring i cutted a piece of fitting length, 5mm higher than the bowl. i then cut a piece of felt starting at the height of the bowl on the inner side of the felt ring so that as result there is a linear shape, the inner side of the extension ring so gets wider with the height.
Shape of the Extension RIng::
- if you just use the felt ring as it is (no shape), the higher the extension ring, the more the bass, bass gets boomy and you start to get bass resonances
- a linear shape, as you see (sorry for my limited english to exactly descibe what i want to say) prevents the bass from getting boomy and resonant, the resulting extended bowl also sounds very grado-like
- i also tried a parabolic shape, this shape of the inner side of the extension ring gives you the best soundstage but more sounding like a standard headphone, not a grado. also the extension ring gets very thin with a parabolic shape, so the socks applied will result in a deformation of the extension ring
Sound tuning chips:
inspired by the article on innerfidelity were tyll hertsens had the idea, that resonance frequencies were related to the diameter and so the circumference of the bowl, i had the idea
- to put small plastic pieces at constant distances, symetrically
- or different distances, not symetrically
- to have areas of different reflection in the grado bowl
- and so different ares of acustic behaviour and absorbtion
- and so killing resonances circulating inside the bowls
and this really works
- the hole sound gets cleaner, the chips especially kill resonances of the higher frequencies, the highs get cleaner, more resonant free and not that harsh but without getting a warmer sound
- due the sound tuning chips also the bass gets cleaner but also the chips very slightly limit the lowest possible bass resonance frequency the bowl can transmit, but together with an bowl extension ring this is absolutely no problem as the effect is very small compared to the bass improvement due to the bowl extension ring.
This is a bowl i made especially for the SR325is:
it consists of a grado bowl, a felt sound tuning ring, 4 sound tuning chips (symetrically), a bowl extension ring 1cm higher than the bowl 8mm thick with parabolic shape, and an i call it "soundstage ring".
in the case of the sr325 the sound tuning ring made out of felt 2mm thick acustically couples the bowl with the extension ring, the felt sound tuning ring here also tunes the sound to the warmer, homogenous side as the sr325is highs are more pronounced than the sr225i (this ring was not nessesary for the sr225i bowl posted before).
i already explained the function of the sound tuning chips, here they are used because of the same reason.
the bwol extension ring here is 8mm thick so that the bass is more improved than with 6mm and also the parabolic shape is more effective.
the "sound stage ring" prevents the extension ring from beeing deformed when you put the socks around, so the ring takes care that the soundstage benefit because of the parabolic shape will not be eliminated by the socks deforming the extension ring.
also the soundstage ring works like an additional "tape mod" ring so further improving bass depth.
in this case i put socks separately around the bowl extension ring and the soundstage ring.
something about wrapping socks around the rings:
i tried a lot of different ways to put the socks around the rings or the hole extended bowl, aslo i tried the original grado bowl with socks (not worth to mention or to listen to), but after all the tests there are only two ways i used the socks:
different kinds of using the socks:
putting the socks around the bowl extension ring and/or the soundstage ring:
- the resulting extended bowls are grado-like sounding, preferable for smaller heights of the bowl extension ring, much better sound stage width and slightly better soundstage depth, much more comfortable
putting the socks around the complete extended bowl so that the socks partly close the bowl on the ears side:
- the resulting extended bowls are more like a non-grado headphone sounding, but with good soundstage wide and depth, nice imaging and extended bass response. my idea here was that applying the socks this way the socks form a chamber for the ear and also a defined volume and room for reflections and this really works.
btw i was amazed that the new AKG K812 has the same style of "bowls".
How to test and build:
In general i put all parts together for initial listening
- when i tought a specific extended bowl would be worth listening i put the parts together using small needles
- when i had decided to finally build a specific extended bowl i used superglue to glue grado bowl, sound tuning chips and sound tuning ring together (only superglue on both sides of the sound tuning ships)
- to glue sound tuning ring, bowl extension ring and soundstage ring together, i used a special glue based on rubber and made to repair clothes, keeps flexible, is heat resistant up to 120 degree celsius, the hole bowl can be washed.
for my next post i will prepare some drawings how to build this closed grado version i mentioned before.
From the DX90 thread:
In answer to a question from a member who doesn't understand headphone resistance:
Impedance and resistance aren't the exact same thing, and for headphones specifically, impedance is what is measured. In any case, it really depends on the amp design. On speakers, it's more straightforward - the impedance range is between 4ohm to 8ohm in most hi-fi applications, with the exception of car subwoofers that may have 2ohms, so generally lower impedance means higher output. Go too low however and your amp might be producing a lot of nominal power, but might not have enough reserve juice for dynamic passages. Since the rated impedance is nominal - depending on the design of the drivers, and it can also be affected by the crossover - many don't realize that depending on the frequencies playing impedance may change, so at any given point in the playback, your 8ohm speaker might be dipping a bit lower or higher, and this can be a bigger problem with 4ohm speakers since dipping lower means the amp driving it will hit its limits however briefly. This is why, between two speaker amps that measure the same way on a test tone, the one with the huge power supply that doubles its output when the impedance is halved might usually sound better than an amp that only produces less than 50% more power (when the impedance is halved). This is why not all Class D amps are as tiny as the Sonic Impact, or even if the circuit board and heatsink are tiny, the power supply is considerably bigger.
With headphones it's a bit trickier because of the much, much, much wider range of impedance from 16ohm to 600ohm, and as such some amps are designed to deliver more voltage to produce more power for high impedance headphones, while some are current drive amplifiers designed to deliver more power at lower impedance. It's not unusual for example to find a headphone amp that produces more power at 300ohm while another produces most of its power at 32ohm, although very generally given they are both powerful enough to get two headphones to a proper listening volume it is likely for the 300ohm headphone to perform well with both while the lower sensitivity, current-hungry headphone will sound less dynamic with the voltage-driven amp. There are different advantages and disadvantages to either design that affects headphones more than speakers (such as hiss on too low impedance headphones with the wrong amp) so it really depends on which ones the manufacturer would rather deal with for a given application.
From the O2 and ODAC thread, some good discussion came up about measurements vs. what we hear:
A good question indeed. Even though distortion measurements started off, and then were reduced further, below the what is often considered the threshold of audibility, my understanding is that different "measurement first" designs and topologies are still often (if not usually) perceived as sounding different [for reasons beyond my understanding and pay grade]. For example, I've read a lot of posts here and elsewhere regarding both the O2 and the Wire. It could be the product of confirmation bias, but I have yet to see a single post here or on diyaudio where someone suggests these two ultra low noise/distortion amps sound indistinguishable.
My sense is that perceived differences may have a few different sources:
(i) Different active devices (e.g. op amps, to say nothing of tubes) do seem impart subtle differences to sound quality, and I imagine this is further complicated by the fact some of these semi-conductors have fet vs. bipolar inputs. Think about the fact that certain diy amps (e.g. the dynahi/dynafet and differing fet vs. bjt revisions of the ehh rev. A) were created based on this theory - that these transistor types have different flavors. So by replacing my output chips with the booster board circuit, and also my gain stage chip with dual LME49990's, I think it is unsurprising that I would hear subtle but discernible differences - although I still do intend to build another stock o2 to compare back to back. Making matters even more interesting, agdr's bom offers up several different chips that can be used in place of the OPA140's on the booster. Some are fet inputs, and some are bjt's, and they all have differing impacts on noise, distortion and dc offset. So there's also the potential to build and compare different versions of the booster circuit and see if we can hear any differences.
(ii) The serious reduction in dc offset on the headphone jack may also play in. I used to think of dc offset simply in terms of not damaging the headphones, but as tangent and others explain it, minor dc on your jack also reduces dynamic range and possibly causes its own distortion. The booster is a 150x reduction in dc offset from stock.
(iii) Some argue slew is inaudible above and beyond what the stock O2 can swing. Others claim to love the 4 channel B22 because of its gargantuan ~170 something V/us slew rate, if memory serves. Raising slew from the stock 3V/us to 20V/us with the LME49990's can't hurt.
(iv) Doubling current output on peaks compared to the stock O2 can only benefit transient response.
All in all, to the best of my understanding, the booster is pretty awesome on paper, and my ears seem to like it a lot as well. That said, if I'm off on any of the above - please jump in and correct me!
Thanks for a well considered reply, it made for interesting reading. Fwiw, I'm no electronics specialist by a long shot but I do agree with your observations about differently sounding OPA's and the complex -and mostly unpredictable- result of many small variances interacting. Very interesting remarks about the slew rate, a couple of months ago I observed (don't recall if in this or another thread) that the slew rates the O2 could handle were imo marginal and almost got crucified for it .
My main point all along has been that perhaps there's more between heaven and earth than what's readily measurable. I tend to shy away from both the absolute subjectivists -who tend to be good at burning other people's cash- as well as scope wielding objectivists for whom there's only 1 path to follow and where any deviation from the true religion is considered a capital offence. Fanatics on both sides......
The booster board as well as agdr's overhauled and assembled product look very interesting, I'm sorely tempted to give one of them a try and compare with the ODAC/O2 sitting on my desk and feeding my HE-500 right now. But don't want to be stuck soldering a bagful of tiny components and at the price of the finished product I'd be about halfway down a B22-build or 2/3 down a F5-clone. But it sure takes up less desk space and (especially compared to the F5) one can run it without heating up the entire office.
One of the biggest problems with early product announcements is forums like this one. Too many people demand instant gratification (whether they actually purchase the product or not) and the vast majority of average enthusiasts do not understand the product development process, so when specs and estimated milestone dates slip or change, and they always do, the manufacturer gets castigated for "lying," "making promises they couldn't keep," "biting off more than they can chew," "failing," and generally getting called out for not knowing what they are doing. When in fact it's the critics who often do not know what they are talking about due to having unrealistically high expectations. So rather than deal with all the speculation and fall out, it's often best to say nothing until the box is ready to mail.
We forum dwellers did this to ourselves.