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Noob question about Sound Signatures and Equalizers

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,

 

I understand that different head phones and IEM's have different sound signatures (I've learned this all here thanks guys).  Some are Analytical, Warm, Neutral etc etc and people prefer one over the other. 

 

My question is, a lot of prgorams or DAPS have pretty outstanding equalizers (Cowon J3).  Does this sound signature still matter even though you can EQ the shortcomings of a specific headphone / IEM to your liking?.  Can some audio experts here notice the difference if something is EQ'd and maybe my ears aren't experience enough to know.

 

As for example, I have an RE-262 and my brother has a DT 770 80 OHM.  When I borrow my his cans I have a separate EQ setting that bumps the mids.  For my RE-262 I raise the bass a tad bid on my EQ.

 

Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 21

you can tweak a sound sig to give for example more prominent highs, more powerful bass, gentler bass, more foward mids,
but its better to have a earphone that is already close to the signature you like, so you don't have to tweak or change it so much, cause some basslight pairs may not respond well to bass bossting and bass monsters are not going to be easy to tone down and make analitycal.
so yeah it matters, but a little less since you can tweak it to your liking later

just don't get bass monsters for analytical detailed listening and vise versa

post #3 of 21

yes, different eq's do behave differently. source, dac, amp is all very importaint as well
pick  a pair that sounds the best to you at stock, only after that you fine tune it.
don't depend on the eq saving the headphone's tonality. (unless you are experienced with tuning and are absolutely sure that you will use the eq all the time and are willing to be chained to devices that have the eq, and also confident to sacrifice stock tonality for extra detail/soundstage)

higher end headphones improve much less with the use of eq compared to cheaper models, simply because there is not much to tweak. it is already so good in every aspect.

post #4 of 21

Most reasonably good headphones aren't that far apart. Unless you're making gross adjustments of more than 10 dB or pushing it into clipping, a good equalizer is transparent.


Edited by bigshot - 11/26/12 at 4:18pm
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Most reasonably good headphones aren't that far apart. Unless you're making gross adjustments of more than 10 dB or pushing it into clipping, a good equalizer is transparent.

Hmmm....

 

So I looked up response measurements of the D-770 and the RE-262.  Guess what?  At several points in frequency response they are more than 10dB apart, at one point (6KHz) they are almost 20dB apart!  So much for good headphones being similar.  In fact, the OP noticed he likes a bit of bass boost on the RE-262.  Turns out, they're fairly flat at the bass end, but the D-770 are not...pretty huge upward bump at 100Hz, and another at 35Hz.  Yes, you'd need about 8dB more bass with the RE-262 to make them sound like that.

 

I will agree that it's best to start with good phones that sound less colored (all are colored, though...even the "good" ones), and tweak at will.  Sort of like getting better, more predictable color when painting on a whiter canvas.  None are ever flat, even if you ignore the required bass boost.  Looking at two extremely high-end headphones, they too are apart by 10dB at some points on the graph.

post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by SovonHalder View Post

Simple EQ'ing can't make them sound better, it can only make sound less poor(to you).

Frequency response is one of the most important aspects of sound quality. Even if you have just a 3-band graphic EQ (bass, mids, highs), you can make some headphones sound better.

 

Quote:
That's why many audiophiles use flat settings & depend upon the sound signature of high end headphones

I think the main reason is fear and uncertainty what's going on.

 

Quote:
. . besides eq power differs from device to device. so it's better to depend on the sound signature of a headphone.that same pair of cans can sound terrible on some device where you aren't able to EQ.

More FUD. The OP was referring specifically to devices with "powerful" EQs. It doesn't seem he's forced to switch to inferior devices.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaddie View Post

Hmmm....

 

So I looked up response measurements of the D-770 and the RE-262.  Guess what?  At several points in frequency response they are more than 10dB apart, at one point (6KHz) they are almost 20dB apart!  So much for good headphones being similar.  In fact, the OP noticed he likes a bit of bass boost on the RE-262.  Turns out, they're fairly flat at the bass end, but the D-770 are not...pretty huge upward bump at 100Hz, and another at 35Hz.  Yes, you'd need about 8dB more bass with the RE-262 to make them sound like that.

You gotta keep in mind that he also boosts the mids on the DT-770. He'd probably also need to cut the treble of the DT770 a bit etc.. no, they won't sound the same but way more similar than before.

 

 

Quote:
I will agree that it's best to start with good phones that sound less colored (all are colored, though...even the "good" ones), and tweak at will.  Sort of like getting better, more predictable color when painting on a whiter canvas.  None are ever flat, even if you ignore the required bass boost.  Looking at two extremely high-end headphones, they too are apart by 10dB at some points on the graph.

Agreed, but expensive != high-end != less colored.

post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone for the replies.  Now I'm a bit enlightened.  So I guess using good EQ's aren't that frowned upon here.

 

Off topic : Anyone here know a pair of closed cans that sounds similar to the RE-262.  I could use one for the winter.

 

Is there like a database of frequency graphs of decent headphones so I could compare

post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teleute View Post

Thanks everyone for the replies.  Now I'm a bit enlightened.  So I guess using good EQ's aren't that frowned upon here.

 

Off topic : Anyone here know a pair of closed cans that sounds similar to the RE-262.  I could use one for the winter.

 

Is there like a database of frequency graphs of decent headphones so I could compare

 

InnerFidelity doesn't have too many IEMs listed, but they have the RE-262:

http://www.innerfidelity.com/headphone-data-sheet-downloads

 

To be honest, the response of the Sennheiser HD 4x9 series seems relatively similar.  I've not tried these though.

post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks bud.  Guess I'd have to go through it one by one
 

post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

Agreed, but expensive != high-end != less colored.

 

Generally, but not always.  There are some very colored high end headphones.  Expense doesn't always correlate to the degree of coloration, though it may relate to how well received the result is.  Just reading how reviewers describe two high end headphones indicates rather significant differences in coloration.  

post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by SovonHalder View Post


If I am right, I don't think soundstage, 3D Audio Center, 3D imaging, 3D space level, these kinda facts can't be plotted on graph just by frequency responses. So if I'm right, try to hear the IEMs or Cans before you consider buying any. because these are some of the most important aspects.

You're right about 3D imaging not being represented by FR graphs.  There are some differences between the perspectives afforded by IEMs, open and closed headphones, and all should be heard, but there are also advantages to each design that may over-rule the change in 3D perspective. You can't really have everything in one set of headphones. 

 

3D space travel isn't on a response graph either, but if you launch your headphones through 3D space I'm betting the response graph would change a tad as a result.  Especially if there's a high impact landing.

post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by SovonHalder View Post

If I am right, I don't think soundstage, 3D Audio Center, 3D imaging, 3D space level, these kinda facts can't be plotted on graph just by frequency responses. So if I'm right, try to hear the IEMs or Cans before you consider buying any. because these are some of the most important aspects.

Channel balance over the whole frequency range is pretty important and is shown in the IF plots (red/blue). It's important for the center, imaging ...

What also helps, if you don't use a crossfeed processor, is an open headphone which lets a small amount of audio leak from one channel into the other - that's required for a real soundstage. Some portable players have this function built-in. Rockbox does anyway.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaddie View Post

Generally, but not always.  There are some very colored high end headphones.  Expense doesn't always correlate to the degree of coloration, though it may relate to how well received the result is.  Just reading how reviewers describe two high end headphones indicates rather significant differences in coloration.  

But what makes those people label them as "high-end" in the first place? My guess: the prize / what the marketing department says.

I would judge by how flat and accurate a headphone is, build quality, etc., not by the price. Measurements help a great deal to separate opinions from fact.

post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaddie View Post

So I looked up response measurements of the D-770 and the RE-262.  Guess what?  At several points in frequency response they are more than 10dB apart, at one point (6KHz) they are almost 20dB apart!

Instead of comparing two opposite headphones, compare each one against the zero line. If either of them gets much more than 10 dB off flat in the core frequencies (40Hz to 10kHz), it's not a good headphone. The differences at the very edges of the spectrum don't matter as much. The middle is where the music is.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by SovonHalder View Post

If I am right, I don't think soundstage, 3D Audio Center, 3D imaging, 3D space level, these kinda facts can't be plotted on graph just by frequency responses.

*Everything* you hear is frequencies. There are subtle depth cues captured by the microphones during recorded and added in post by means of a synthetic ambience that can be muddled by frequency imbalances. A spike an octave above or below one of these depth cues can create a phenominon called "auditory masking", which can render the depth cue inaudible. Typically, balanced response creates a more transparent and varied sound because no frequency is overpowering other ones.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post


*Everything* you hear is frequencies. There are subtle depth cues captured by the microphones during recorded and added in post by means of a synthetic ambience that can be muddled by frequency imbalances. A spike an octave above or below one of these depth cues can create a phenominon called "auditory masking", which can render the depth cue inaudible. Typically, balanced response creates a more transparent and varied sound because no frequency is overpowering other ones.

Spacial hearing is actually just a tiny bit more complex than just "frequencies".  Directional cues are complex combinations of both frequency and time domain modifications a sound wave will go through before it arrives at our eardrums.  A directional cue cannot adequately be captured by a single microphone, and cannot be masked by a single frequency, as in masking. It's way more complex that that. Depth and direction perception come from our ability to localize a source, and this gets things far deeper than we should probably get into in this particular thread.  But it's not the sort of thing easily captured, nor easily masked by a single response peak, since much more than just response is involved.

 

I will agree that balanced response creates a more transparent sound, though.  

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