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What do great mids sound like? - Page 8

post #106 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

I'd like everyone to elaborate on what they mean on "intimate and engaging mids".

I mean, while I can't speak for the AKG 70* variants, I'm here listening to the SR-Lambda as usual, and I find music quite intimate and engaging already while having the trademark Lambda vast soundstage. Couldn't say the same for the SR-202, though; mids are noticeably recessed, at least with an SRM-212. The general sentiment amongst Stax enthusiasts is that the original Normal bias SR-Lambda is as good as it gets for midrange 'til you start shelling out the big bucks for Omega-series flagships.

Maybe it's because I'm "engaged" more by the music than the headphones I'm wearing, for all I know. I mean, headphones do help bring out certain parts of the music, but if the excitement wasn't there in the music to begin with, then no set of headphones is going to help with that.

Intimate can also be taken to mean narrow, closed-in, etc (not quite congested though). It's a sound-staging trait primarily - think about how a Grado or the ESW9 or some of the various Koss dynamic headphones will stage compared to some of the AT full-size cans or Sony full-size cans (which are "wide" or "spacious"). Planars are kind of a wrench in that (because they radiate differently) - you get a planar wave hitting your ear, instead of a conical one, and this changes the sound-staging characteristics of the cans overall (your entire ear perceives the same signal as a "wall" - Tyll actually wrote an article about this relatively recently).

Engaging is basically a mid-range emphasis in the presentation (but not over-emphasis). Bring them together and you get a relatively forward and direct presentation of the mids, and assuming nothing else is totally wrong about the cans in question, the voicing should be pretty spot-on (the RS-1 is a good example of this). Of course there's no single trait that absolutely indicates good mids or bad mids in a given can - it's the result of many things being done "right" all at once. And this isn't to say that cans with a wide or spacious stage can't be good, but their voicing is usually somewhat artificial (for example cans with S-LOGIC sound good, image wonderfully, but have a degree of artificial-ness to them).

And yes, the voicing and mixing of the source material absolutely matters here (be it mixing in a movie, or a game, or music).
post #107 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pass View Post

I know I'm less than a junior here, but good mids mustn't sound... good? I mean, you may prefer neutral, colored or emphasized mids. What you like is what is good! Can't be as simple as that though!

The topic of discussion here is too damn ambiguous. "Great" mids means jack. Some prefer 100% utterly accurate neutral mids, others prefer some slight tonal colourations, others like it a little spicier still. The difficulty has always been that midrange is not as easily categorized as bass or treble, it is by far the most complex segment of the frequency response.

post #108 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerg View Post

The topic of discussion here is too damn ambiguous.

Aye. I'm starting to see that too. beerchug.gif
Quote:
"Great" mids means jack. Some prefer 100% utterly accurate neutral mids, others prefer some slight tonal colourations, others like it a little spicier still. The difficulty has always been that midrange is not as easily categorized as bass or treble, it is by far the most complex segment of the frequency response.

So then we're discussing what goes into personal preference? Or what goes into accurate voicing? I was assuming the later...
post #109 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post


Aye. I'm starting to see that too. beerchug.gif
So then we're discussing what goes into personal preference? Or what goes into accurate voicing? I was assuming the later...

A bit of both I'd say.

 

For me, I'd like to think that most people will like a midrange that makes music sound REAL. Whether it'd be accurate or stray from utter accuracy doesn't matter, it should just grant music a sense of realism and natural timbre because that is probably what that gives audiophiles musical nirvana.

 

Of course to achieve that, some preliminary things like smoothness (lack of abrupt peaks / dips), clean decay (lack of glaring ringing issues) are necessary. But past that it is anyone's guess.

post #110 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerg View Post

A bit of both I'd say.

For me, I'd like to think that most people will like a midrange that makes music sound REAL. Whether it'd be accurate or stray from utter accuracy doesn't matter, it should just grant music a sense of realism and natural timbre because that is probably what that gives audiophiles musical nirvana.

Of course to achieve that, some preliminary things like smoothness (lack of abrupt peaks / dips), clean decay (lack of glaring ringing issues) are necessary. But past that it is anyone's guess.

I can think of examples that have spot-on voicing (where voices sound completely natural), or examples that have both "traditional" or "contemporary" audiophile coloration to the mids but are still "clean" and "correct" sounding despite it. Contrasted to headphones that put the mids out in space or have too much grain or ringing or similar (or god forbid, all of the above).
post #111 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post


I can think of examples that have spot-on voicing (where voices sound completely natural), or examples that have both "traditional" or "contemporary" audiophile coloration to the mids but are still "clean" and "correct" sounding despite it. Contrasted to headphones that put the mids out in space or have too much grain or ringing or similar (or god forbid, all of the above).


I wonder how much of that is the vocal mic as well. I have a very fine condenser mic, a Rode NT1a and even it doesn't have a perfectly flat response. A lot of great mic's will put a little bump in the 10 to 12khz range to make vocals 'pop' a little more. If your headphones also have a bump, it can result in coloration and sibilance even though either by themselves would be an improvement, together they can ruin a vocalist.

 

Many engineers will also add EQ humps and dynamic compression to push a vocal track more forward in the mix. It's hard to find very neutral vocals in a song. Then there are the little things like the frequency curve of a mic changing off axis and the proximity effect with large diaphram studio condensers that increases their bass response significantly.

post #112 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kodhifi View Post


I wonder how much of that is the vocal mic as well. I have a very fine condenser mic, a Rode NT1a and even it doesn't have a perfectly flat response. A lot of great mic's will put a little bump in the 10 to 12khz range to make vocals 'pop' a little more. If your headphones also have a bump, it can result in coloration and sibilance even though either by themselves would be an improvement, together they can ruin a vocalist.

Many engineers will also add EQ humps and dynamic compression to push a vocal track more forward in the mix. It's hard to find very neutral vocals in a song. Then there are the little things like the frequency curve of a mic changing off axis and the proximity effect with large diaphram studio condensers that increases their bass response significantly.

Yes, as I said earlier - the recording in question absolutely matters as well. Garbage in, garbage out. Most headphones will have a bump around 10khz - usually this doesn't cause "sibilance" though (usually that's a result of the recording unless the cans in question are very bad); there are certainly exceptions to that, and some headphones are certainly more or less forgiving of harsh or sibilant recordings (usually extremely bright cans are less forgiving).
Edited by obobskivich - 1/8/13 at 11:07pm
post #113 of 153
Thread Starter 
[BEGIN QUOTE] soundtage is too wide and it creates trouble for the midrange. As John Grado reportedly said a few years ago (speaking about the GS-1000 if I recall correctly),when designing a headphone you can either have intimate and engaging mids, or a wide soundstage, but not both. And by and large, even if he didn't say it, I would agree with that claim. The 701 unfortunately fit into the later category - they have a wide soundstage, and as a result don't have intimate and engaging mids. Sure, they have good mids, and they have clean mids, and I'm sure someone will say "no but it's a ruler from 100 to 1k (or whatever other arbitrary points) - PROOF!" (rolleyes.gif) - but that's only one aspect of the overall design. Radiation is a big deal that almost nobody talks about. It matters for speakers, and it matters for headphones. The real trick that the 701 pull off is having as good of a mid-range as they do, despite their very large soundstage. Especially for the money (they are probably the best overall performer for the money today; there are a few cans that have gone out of production in the last year or two that cost around what the 701 do, and I would contend they are competitive if not slightly better in some regards, but none of them are made anymore). It still doesn't change the fact that they have a wide soundstage, and that gets in the way of "perfect" mids - there's only one headphone I've ever heard that will begin to challenge Grado's claim on intimate mids and a wide-soundstage (the Sony MDR-F1, if anyone feels like digging up history), and they are not without flaws - they also are (if I'm remembering ancient marketing literature and the original revision of their owner's manual correctly) the result of Sony (and not modern "broke as a joke" Sony, 1990s "ocean of money" Sony) putting their R&D know-how into solving that problem. Every follow-up that Sony has attempted (and I haven't heard the newest MA900) has tried to address the F1's various flaws, and ultimately ends up more closely re-creating the K701's problems than improving on the F1 (which leads me to believe the F1 represent a very real "wall" for designers). [END QUOTE]

 

What are these on-par-with-K701 headphones that are now out of production?

 

Also, despite the wide sound-stage of the K701, it's sound signature is still focused in the mid-range, wouldn't you say? With fairly rolled back bass and slightly rolled back treble?

post #114 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by cactus_farmer View Post


What are these on-par-with-K701 headphones that are now out of production?

Sony MDR-F1
Sony MDR-SA5000
Sennheiser HD 580 Precision (you could argue the HD 600 and 650 here - it's just that they cost a lot more than the 580 or the K701 currently)
Denon AH-D2000
Other people probably have more - basically my point is that overall quality in headphones hasn't gone away, but prices have gone up on average (even the Kenwood KH-K1000 would fit into this on-par segment, they're still in production, but the price has gone up over the last few years). Of course these headphones are all going to be different to one to degree or another, but I would regard them as being on the same level as the K701 overall despite those differences.

Quote:
Also, despite the wide sound-stage of the K701, it's sound signature is still focused in the mid-range, wouldn't you say? With fairly rolled back bass and slightly rolled back treble?

Not really - they're very well extended, they just don't have a ton of impact on the bottom-end and have a relatively clean top-end.
Edited by obobskivich - 1/9/13 at 2:26am
post #115 of 153
The mids on the K702 Anniversary is quite full and engaging, and that's even with the huge soundstage. Not as magical as the HD650s, but they arent just good, they are stellar.

They clearly ahead of the HE400's mids as well, quite a resounding victory in fact.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 1/9/13 at 2:38am
post #116 of 153

I compared burned-in k701 and k702 Anniversary in a listening room today both through a Schiit Lyr amplifier and Cambridge Azur 851 CD-player as a source. To my ears, the differences between these two headphones are subtle at the most. I'd say that k702 Anniversary has a touch more bottom end. The midrange (the music) is similarly open, naturally "warm" and wide. The treble is crisp. There is no edginess or anything fatiguing with any of the cans. Anniversary Edition is more comfortable (no bumps and nicer ear pads). I could live with any of them without any problems (even more with th k701s at their bargain price). Both are fantastic headphones and show that great sound and musicality doesn't have to cost you a fortune. I really like the midrange of k701, as much as I like the midrange on my HD650. K701 and HD650 can work as great companions, completing each other when playing different genres in my record collection. beerchug.gif


Edited by muxamed - 1/10/13 at 12:18pm
post #117 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by muxamed View Post

I compared burned-in k701 and k702 Anniversary in a listening room today both through a Schiit Lyr amplifier and Cambridge Azur 851 CD-player as a source. To my ears, the differences between these two headphones are subtle at the most. I'd say that k702 Anniversary has a touch more bottom end. The midrange (the music) is similarly open, naturally "warm" and wide. The treble is crisp. There is no edginess or anything fatiguing with any of the cans. Anniversary Edition is more comfortable (no bumps and nicer ear pads). I could live with any of them without any problems (even more with th k701s at their bargain price). Both are fantastic headphones and show that great sound and musicality doesn't have to cost you a fortune. I really like the midrange of k701, as much as I like the midrange on my HD650. K701 and HD650 can work as great companions, completing each other when playing different genres in my record collection. beerchug.gif

 

They are a great pairing. Interesting comments on the anniversary edition. A few people are raving about them, but I have a suspicion that they are the K702 with a Q701 driver in them, hence the hint of bottom end. Have you ever heard the Q701?

post #118 of 153

yes it is a great compliment to hd

post #119 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by elwappo99 View Post

 

They are a great pairing. Interesting comments on the anniversary edition. A few people are raving about them, but I have a suspicion that they are the K702 with a Q701 driver in them, hence the hint of bottom end. Have you ever heard the Q701?

 

Yeah, I have heard the Q701 but never compared them to k701 so I cannot say anything about the differences. One thing I can say is that to my ears, Q701 sounded very detailed, with broad image and good mids. Actually quite like k701.

 

There is one AKG headphone that I would really like to have, It is k501. I heard these a couple of years ago and really liked their presentation of music. I never compared them to any other AKG headphones but to my memory they were very realistic sounding. It is very hard to describe. I am not sure that I have ever heard such "naturalness" from a pair of headphones (certainly not my HD650 smile.gif) K501s are so rare today and it is almost impossible to find a mint pair. And the prices are quite high ($300-$400, I even saw a pair fo $999 on Amazon smile.gif). I wouldn't mind to pay the former price though if I could find a mint pair.


Edited by muxamed - 1/10/13 at 1:37pm
post #120 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by muxamed View Post

 

Yeah, I have heard the Q701 but never compared them to k701 so I cannot say anything about the differences. One thing I can say is that to my ears, Q701 sounded very detailed, with broad image and good mids. Actually quite like k701.

 

There is one AKG headphone that I would really like to have, It is k501. I heard these a couple of years ago and really liked their presentation of music. I never compared them to any other AKG headphones but to my memory they were very realistic sounding. It is very hard to describe. I am not sure that I have ever heard such "naturalness" from a pair of headphones (certainly not my HD650 smile.gif) K501s are so rare today and it is almost impossible to find a mint pair. And the prices are quite high ($300-$400, I even saw a pair fo $999 on Amazon smile.gif). I wouldn't mind to pay the former price though if I could find a mint pair.

 

Ehhhh, I'd spare yourself on the K501. 

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