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Battle Of The Flagships (58 Headphones Compared) UPDATE: AUDEZ'E LCD-2 Revision 2 (6/4/13) - Page 92

post #1366 of 4940
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundFreaq View Post

I've been so very impressed with the Ultrasone Signature Pro. David, any chance you'll lay your ears on that anytime soon? I might even entertain sending mine to you. And your involvement in this thread is impressive. We are grateful. 

Thank you for this offer! Ideally, I  would like to include every significant headphone ever made, which would leave room for about another 50 headphones.  Unfortunately, I know this won't happen unless they are donated to me (which I don't expect will happen either) hahaha.

 

But for the time being, the Signature Pro is not on my shortlist, but I definitely would consider including them.

post #1367 of 4940

I can also compare DT990 to HD650 and HE-500 which I own and I have to say that while the drivers on the latter two may be technically superior (I am pretty sure HE-500 is, but HD650 may not be), DT990 actually sounds better damped and better executed to me than the HD650 and HE-500. I know I may get flamed for this, but I think HD650 is ever so slightly plasticy and congested sounding compared to DT990, while HE-500 sounds very slightly cupped in compared to the Beyers and I find both HD650 and HE-500 a bit slower on attack than is optimal, which takes a bit of life out of them compared to the snappier Beyers IMO. My sub par sources may be to blame for these findings, but I feel that these issues are not source related. Just look at the impulse responses of HD650 and HE-500 at Innerfidelity - they are pretty wild looking, which I believe is an indication of a non-optimal housing design or damping. Look at the DT880 impulse response by comparison - it is much cleaner. I know Innerfidelity doesn't have DT990 measurements, but I can almost guarantee that DT990 impulse response will still fair better than those of HE-500 and HD650. And compared to DT880... well... I think that DT990 sounds more optimally damped, while DT880 is damped a bit too much which causes it to sound dryer, more anemic, more sterile, more restricted than it should and doesn't quite do its driver capabilities justice IMO. I find that DT990 design makes better use of the driver, despite having more apparent (but less serious IMO) flaws. Again, it's all just my 2 cents and I am by no means an expert on these topics. I just go with my gut feelings on this based on listening and some data that I could find. 

post #1368 of 4940
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

I can also compare DT990 to HD650 and HE-500 which I own and I have to say that while the drivers on the latter two may be technically superior (I am pretty sure HE-500 is, but HD650 may not be), DT990 actually sounds better damped and better executed to me than the HD650 and HE-500. I know I may get flamed for this, but I think HD650 is ever so slightly plasticy and congested sounding compared to DT990, while HE-500 sounds very slightly cupped in compared to the Beyers and I find both HD650 and HE-500 a bit slower on attack than is optimal, which takes a bit of life out of them compared to the snappier Beyers IMO. My sub par sources may be to blame for these findings, but I feel that these issues are not source related. Just look at the impulse responses of HD650 and HE-500 at Innerfidelity - they are pretty wild looking, which I believe is an indication of a non-optimal housing design or damping. Look at the DT880 impulse response by comparison - it is much cleaner. I know Innerfidelity doesn't have DT990 measurements, but I can almost guarantee that DT990 impulse response will still fair better than those of HE-500 and HD650. And compared to DT880... well... I think that DT990 sounds more optimally damped, while DT880 is damped a bit too much which causes it to sound dryer, more anemic, more sterile, more restricted than it should and doesn't quite do its driver capabilities justice IMO. I find that DT990 design makes better use of the driver, despite having more apparent (but less serious IMO) flaws. Again, it's all just my 2 cents and I am by no means an expert on these topics. I just go with my gut feelings on this based on listening and some data that I could find. 

Interesting point correlating impulse response with cup damping. I wonder if this correlation holds with other headphones as well.

post #1369 of 4940

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post

I don't necessarily agree with donunus's opinion.  I like the DT990 very much.  I was just commenting on his experience, that the DT990 is a colored headphone, its certainly not neutral.  So obviously, the DT990's colorations are not for him.  However, my experience with the DT990 has been far more positive than his, but not quite as positive as your own.  I still like the DT880 more, and I've always found the DT880's midrange to be more to my taste.

 

Actually, I have a problem with this term "coloration." Can you provide your definition of it? Because I don't really understand how it relates to naturalness of sound. If uncolored means having a neutral frequency response, is neutral response required for the most natural sound - a sound that doesn't have any extra "color" added to it so to speak? If so - what is neutral frequency response? You are a musician and you are familiar with the sound of many real instruments and with many headphones - what do you believe the frequency response of headphones needs to be like in order to reproduce the sounds of real instruments faithfully to the average normal human ear with the typical Fletcher-Munson curve sensitivity?


Edited by Pianist - 11/27/12 at 10:36am
post #1370 of 4940
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post

I don't necessarily agree with donunus's opinion.  I like the DT990 very much.  I was just commenting on his experience, that the DT990 is a colored headphone, its certainly not neutral.  So obviously, the DT990's colorations are not for him.  However, my experience with the DT990 has been far more positive than his, but not quite as positive as your own.  I still like the DT880 more, and I've always found the DT880's midrange to be more to my taste.

 

Actually, I have a problem with this term "coloration." Can you provide your definition of it? Because I don't really understand how it relates to naturalness of sound. If uncolored means having a neutral frequency response, is neutral response required for the most natural sound - a sound that doesn't have any extra "color" added to it so to speak? If so - what is neutral frequency response? You are a musician and you are familiar with the sound of many real instruments and with many headphones - what do you believe the frequency response of headphones needs to be like in order to reproduce the sounds of real instruments faithfully to the average normal human ear with the typical Fletcher-Munson curve sensitivity?

I don't think it relates to the naturalness of sound.  You can have a colored headphone which sounds very natural.  I've tried to express that several times in the thread. :)

For me, coloration refers to the noticeable lacking of a flat frequency response.  If there are undeniably obvious areas within the frequency spectrum that are forward or recessed, this would be a colored headphone.  Again, it does not DOES NOT necessarily imply that the headphone is not good, or not natural sounding.

post #1371 of 4940
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post

I don't think it relates to the naturalness of sound.  You can have a colored headphone which sounds very natural.  I've tried to express that several times in the thread. :)

For me, coloration refers to the noticeable lacking of a flat frequency response.  If there are undeniably obvious areas within the frequency spectrum that are forward or recessed, this would be a colored headphone.  Again, it does not DOES NOT necessarily imply that the headphone is not good, or not natural sounding.

Right; that's my understanding as well.

 

Neutral = objectively measuring flat (with or without hearing compensation, not sure)

 

Natural = smooth measurements but with certain gentle dips and elevations which make recordings sound more realistic than purely neutral outputs (the specifics of those dips and elevations I don't know for sure, but things like "slight upper mid-range dip" and "slight broadband bass elevation" come to mind, though these traits might be perceived as worse to some ears)

 

And coloured = definitely non-smooth measurements with fairly significant elevation(s) / dip(s) which alter the output significantly from neutrality.


Edited by jerg - 11/27/12 at 10:52am
post #1372 of 4940

Ok, there's something important that I didn't mention though - that our ears have different sensitivities at different volumes. This means that a headphones with flat perceived frequency response at a high volume will sound somewhat light on bass and treble at lower volumes. And I think this answers my own question about what is a neutral frequency response - it is a moving target and there is no such thing as a neutral frequency response in an absolute sense. This is also why I mentioned that DT990 sounds better at lower volumes. And it may sound just as neutral at a low volume as DT880 or HD800 do at high volumes. Grado's PS/GS1000, for example, were designed with such reasoning in mind for low volume listening. As long as the headphones are of high quality and their frequency response doesn't have any sudden peaks or dips, or peaks or dips located in odd places, I believe that the headphones may be capable of sounding neutral at certain volume levels. In case of DT990, it has a broad and gradual emphasis on bass and treble with no odd peaks or dips and a nice, pretty flat midrange in between, so I think that it is a good candidate for accurate low volume listening with its default tuning and may be better for this purpose than the DT880, HD800 or other headphones that measure flatter in frequency response.


Edited by Pianist - 11/27/12 at 11:31am
post #1373 of 4940

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post

I don't think it relates to the naturalness of sound.  You can have a colored headphone which sounds very natural.  I've tried to express that several times in the thread. :)

For me, coloration refers to the noticeable lacking of a flat frequency response.  If there are undeniably obvious areas within the frequency spectrum that are forward or recessed, this would be a colored headphone.  Again, it does not DOES NOT necessarily imply that the headphone is not good, or not natural sounding.

 

So what are the merits of a flat (I suppose that by flat you mean neutral), uncolored frequency response then if it is not necessary for natural sound? To reveal differences between sources maybe? 

post #1374 of 4940
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post

I don't think it relates to the naturalness of sound.  You can have a colored headphone which sounds very natural.  I've tried to express that several times in the thread. :)

For me, coloration refers to the noticeable lacking of a flat frequency response.  If there are undeniably obvious areas within the frequency spectrum that are forward or recessed, this would be a colored headphone.  Again, it does not DOES NOT necessarily imply that the headphone is not good, or not natural sounding.

 

So what are the merits of a flat (I suppose that by flat you mean neutral), uncolored frequency response then if it is not necessary for natural sound? To reveal differences between sources maybe? 

Yes, and its also a good point of reference.

 

I'm taking this from post 1175...
 

Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post

I'm not sure if it's been asked and answered, or if I even asked this question in this thread before, but.. on the topic of neutrality,

 

What is the correlation between transparency and neutrality in this case?  In your review, David, you said you may favor the LCD-2's transparency over the HE-6 and HD800, making it seem to sound more realistic.  Wouldn't a more realistic sound be a more neutral and true-to-life sound?  Or are you making that sentence based on an HD800 with 'improper amp?'  Are you saying that with the right amp, HD800 is more natural sounding?

I think this is a great question and I'm happy it was asked because it gives me the opportunity to explain where I'm coming from with my take on neutrality vs transparency.

 

In the wonderful head-fi "Describing Sound" glossary, I disagree with hardly any definition at all, EXCEPT the definition of transparency: which states:

 

Transparent - Easy to hear into the music, detailed, clear, not muddy. Wide flat frequency response, sharp time response, very low distortion and noise. A hear through quality that is akin to clarity and reveals all aspects of detail.

 

If you have a headphone that doesn't exhibit EXTREME peaks or EXTREME dips, you can still have a a very transparent headphone.  If the colorations are handled in a seamless way, the transparency can remain unaffected.  And this is my reason:

 

When you're dealing with neutrality, you are speaking of frequency response / tone.  I should rephrase and say, that I am speaking of frequency response / tone (I don't want to put words in other's mouths here :)  You can still have a neutral-ish headphone that exhibits a peak somewhere.  If it's peak after peak after peak OR one truly significant awkward peak, chances are the headphone will not sound neutral.  

 

Now transparency is different.  Transparency is a reference to something vaguer, more complex and more emotive based on the human experience.  Transparency is achieved by what's going on regarding harmonic distortions, the speed, the decay, the frequency response is included, BUT at the end of all the different scientific principles, transparency  is simply "does it sound extremely close to real life?"

 

The below is an important part of how I consider transparency:
Neutrality refers to a quality that can occur in acoustic sound as well as electronic reproduction of acoustic sound.  You can have a room whose reflections cause the sound to be very bright.  Conversely you can have a room or hall which mellows and darkens the sound.  I've heard the same orchestra play the same work at Avery Fisher Hall and Carnegie Hall.  If you consider my positioning and the nature of the hall, the sound brought to my ears was very different.  At Carnegie Hall I was in the balcony and the sound was mellow, I could barely hear the triangle.  In Lincoln Center I was in the Orchestra seats and the sound was bright (excessively so).

 

One may say that my experience at Carnegie Hall was dark and my experience at Avery Fisher Hall was analytical.  But neither experience was more or less transparent to the acoustic sound than the other.  The reason? There was no electronic reproduction of the sound.  Everything I was hearing was the real acoustic sound.  This is why I feel you can have a dark headphone that still sounds transparent and also why I feel you can have a bright headphone that sounds transparent.

 

Transparency on the other hand is a phenomenon which occurs only in the electronic reproduction of acoustic sound.  So when we're talking about transparency, it is much more about whether the sound resembles reality.  Neutrality CAN play a role in producing a transparent sound, but one headphone which is absolutely / indisputably more neutral than another does not automatically insinuate (to me) that it is more transparent.

post #1375 of 4940

David, thank you for taking your time to dig out the information for me. I appreciate it. And still I don't understand something. You think that a flat (aka neutral?) frequency response is not necessary for a natural/transparent sound, but isn't the frequency response of the headphones supposed to mimic the response of the average, normal human ear in order to reproduce sound with minimal coloration, playing it back as close as possible to the way it was recorded? Of course, one will also need a source with enough resolution and other technicalities as well as a flat frequency response or frequency response mimicking the human ear + the recording has to be of sufficiently high encoding quality. But isn't that right? The more the frequency response of headphone will deviate from the frequency response of the human ear, the less of the original recording the listener will hear. Now, it is possible that headphones' frequency responses may enhance the original recording balance, creating a more natural sound, but that just seems wrong to me. The perfect hi-fi sound is supposed to be the one that reproduces the original recording in all it's glory or ugliness - isn't that right?

post #1376 of 4940
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

David, thank you for taking your time to dig out the information for me. I appreciate it. And still I don't understand something. You think that a flat (aka neutral?) frequency response is not necessary for a natural/transparent sound, but isn't the frequency response of the headphones supposed to mimic the response of the average, normal human ear in order to reproduce sound with minimal coloration, playing it back as close as possible to the way it was recorded? Of course, one will also need a source with enough resolution and other technicalities as well as a flat frequency response or frequency response mimicking the human ear + the recording has to be of sufficiently high encoding quality. But isn't that right? The more the frequency response of headphone will deviate from the frequency response of the human ear, the less of the original recording the listener will hear. Now, it is possible that headphones' frequency responses may enhance the original recording balance, creating a more natural sound, but that just seems wrong to me. The perfect hi-fi sound is supposed to be the one that reproduces the original recording in all it's glory or ugliness - isn't that right?

The point I was trying to make in that above post is that similarly to acoustic sound, you can have a transducer that colorizes the music.

 

I have never had the pleasure of hearing a work performed in the Concertgebouw Hall, but based on my many recordings, the Concertgebouw ranks as one of my favorite sounding halls in the world.  Firstly, it is very wet, but also quite mellow. Whereas, it is easy to hear that the Barbican in London is a bit brighter and drier. 

 

Now let's say I have a recording of the LSO recorded at the Barbican theater, and its closeup so its especially dry.  I may not want to hear the recording precisely as it was recorded, because frankly I don't love the sound of the Barbican theater.  I may instead choose a headphone like the R10 bass light which adds a sense of wetness and a bit of coloration (not excessive coloration).

 

Now let's say I have a recording that feels as though it was recorded too far back for my liking, in a wet hall such as the Concertgebouw.  I may opt to use a brighter headphone with a quicker decay as to find the perfect balance for my liking.

post #1377 of 4940

I bet HE400 wont be able to make it to top 25. Their mids really do not complement the other talents of this headphone. 

 

David, dont forget to use velours with your pair. Velour pads make them quite listenable.

post #1378 of 4940
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

Ok, there's something important that I didn't mention though - that our ears have different sensitivities at different volumes. This means that a headphones with flat perceived frequency response at a high volume will sound somewhat light on bass and treble at lower volumes. And I think this answers my own question about what is a neutral frequency response - it is a moving target and there is no such thing as a neutral frequency response in an absolute sense.

 

I've already posted twice about the need to factor different listening levels into the equation of why we have such differing opinions of the same phones, and no one has taken up the point. I referenced the old loudness controls and how they boosted highs and lows, and how useful the adjustable Yamaha one still is (or was until recently).  However, no one listens to me.

 

(mumble...mumble...)

 

 

biggrin.gif  

post #1379 of 4940
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post

The point I was trying to make in that above post is that similarly to acoustic sound, you can have a transducer that colorizes the music.

 

I have never had the pleasure of hearing a work performed in the Concertgebouw Hall, but based on my many recordings, the Concertgebouw ranks as one of my favorite sounding halls in the world.  Firstly, it is very wet, but also quite mellow. Whereas, it is easy to hear that the Barbican in London is a bit brighter and drier. 

 

Now let's say I have a recording of the LSO recorded at the Barbican theater, and its closeup so its especially dry.  I may not want to hear the recording precisely as it was recorded, because frankly I don't love the sound of the Barbican theater.  I may instead choose a headphone like the R10 bass light which adds a sense of wetness and a bit of coloration (not excessive coloration).

 

Now let's say I have a recording that feels as though it was recorded too far back for my liking, in a wet hall such as the Concertgebouw.  I may opt to use a brighter headphone with a quicker decay as to find the perfect balance for my liking.

 

 

You wrote that a headphone can sound colored, yet very natural. But natural means that you can hear what was naturally on the original recording. At least, that's how I understand natural in the context of sound reproduction. When the sound of the original recording becomes colorized by listening equipment, then I can't see how the recording can remain natural sounding, because well - people can have all kinds of weird tastes and surely we can't say that a coloration that suits their tastes makes the sound natural to them, can we? That would be a really strange, twisted meaning of natural. As I understand it natural = true to the recording, not something that suits one's tastes. Even if you say that it's just a bit of extra coloration, I don't think that it affects my argument because what's a bit? It's too subjective - a bit for one person may be seem a lot for another. And just the fact that it is an audible alteration of the original sound automatically makes it not perfectly natural. So, sure - technically nothing is perfectly natural, because there is always some coloration present in the reproduction system. However, I think that a frequency response that closely matches that of the average, healthy human ear may be a necessary prerequisite for allowing the reproduction system to reproduce as much of the original recording as possible for the largest number of people possible.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post

 

I've already posted twice about the need to factor different listening levels into the equation of why we have such differing opinions of the same phones, and no one has taken up the point. I referenced the old loudness controls and how they boosted highs and lows, and how useful the adjustable Yamaha one still is (or was until recently).  However, no one listens to me.

 

(mumble...mumble...)

 

biggrin.gif  

 

beerchug.gif


Edited by Pianist - 11/27/12 at 2:35pm
post #1380 of 4940
About the dt990 by the way guys, mine was a 32 ohms version. Those are supposedly the most offensive dt990 version. I definitely liked the 250 ohm dt880 much more than the 32 ohm dt990. The dt880s had much better bass and more tolerable highs. The mids are still a little recessed to me on the 880s but the 990s were too much on the V-shaped side of things to me. At the end of the day, the 880s are listenable cans while the 990-32s gave me tinnitus within a few seconds of music listening. Talk about the sibilance region being exaggerated, those cans are the worst offenders in the history of headphones.
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