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What do great mids sound like? - Page 4

post #46 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsh View Post

Seen from another thread:


A new audiophile craves bass;



An established audiophile craves treble;



A really serious audiophile craves mid-range.



 



See the point, IMO the best experience is found in the great representation of mids with musicality and authority. THAT is what music really is about



This is nice and accurate imho.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstark View Post

I'm quite new to all this, but this is my interpretation... am I right in that:

treble = high (frequency) range
mid-range = mid (frequency) range
bass = low (frequency) range

Bass heavy cans would emphasise the low range. This appeals to "bass heads", since they don't mind the extra "punch" at the loss of detail due to muddiness caused by an unnatural low frequency reproduction. (This effect is apparent in most cheaper cans?)

Mid-range cans emphasise the... mid-range. As has been mentioned, this is where "most of the music is". As far as I understand, an emphasised mid-range will make songs sound more natural, but may sacrifice some bass punch & clarity of high notes. (Audio-Technica signature sound?)

Now it's self explanatory what treble emphasising cans would sound like. (Grado signature sound?)

There's also neutral cans, but these seem to be referred to as "boring" nearly everywhere. People seem to want some "coloration", and "mid-range" seems to be the preferred one.

A truly great set of cans (usually $1000+ range) is one that can reproduce each of these ranges with distinction, a "clear" mid-range, "punchy" bass, and "sparkling" treble, without any of the trade off you may see in cheaper cans.

PLEASE CORRECT ME IF ANYTHING SOUNDS ODD! It's just my limited understanding from lurking around here for a few years.

Sorry if this isn't strictly on topic.

More or less I would agree - I wouldn't regard the higher-end Grados as being "treble emphasized" though. I think there needs to be a distinction between quantity and quality - and generally a lot of these discussion exist about (and only about) bass (the "new audiophiles"), but not about other parts of the spectrum. You can have increased treble quantity (and quality) without being a treble-focused presentation, if that makes sense. Same with bass, and mids.

As far as what great mids should sound like - imho they should sound natural, voices should sound like voices, strings like strings, and the snozzberries should taste like snozzberries. Neither the cold, dry, and analytical treble-boost "modern audiophile" sound signature, nor the syrupy, sweet, and lush mid-boost "oldschool audiophile" sound signature 100% capture this. The later gets closer though, but is usually too wet for it's own good. I'm not sure how to put this into clear-cut conditionals, but it's basically like native speaker intelligence - just as you know when something is or isn't grammatical, you will know when voices sound right or not.

There's only a few headphones I've ever heard that can really capture that, one of them happens to be a Grado. They aren't at all similar once you get beyond a "natural" and "good/great mids" - soundstaging, bass impact, treble impact, extension, etc are all highly variable. But they have great mids. So that says to me that it's a trait that can exist externally of being "bassy" or "treble-boosted" or whatever else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

For me, a great midrange presents no veil over the vocals, no texture, and isn't totally stepped on by the bass and treble.

Aye.
Quote:
At least, that's what my limited experience with a few headphone models has taught me. It became most obvious to me when I got my first Stax SR-Lambda, when there was suddenly this sense of clarity beyond what everyone else had described and it seemed like people were singing out to me, and then when I got an SR-202 setup afterward, where the vocals suddenly took a noticeable back seat and EQing up the midrange revealed this sort of "grain" in the audio that shouldn't have been there.

I couldn't rule out the amps due to the bias voltage differences and lack of a dual-bias amp, but it did show me what I really wanted out of a headphone more than anything (alongside general gaming prowess with headphone surround mixes.)

I know, it seems shallow to judge the midrange entirely on vocal presentation, but that's the easiest way for me to notice it. I suppose the other way to notice it is to listen if high-pitched or low-pitched notes aren't completely overshadowing everything else, if that's what the source calls for.

No, I don't think it's shallow at all. It's what we're most used to hearing, and what our brains are set-up to key in on most critically. We recognize people as distinct by their voices, for example if I say Robert DeNiro, Jennifer Tilly, or Robin Williams - you can probably immediately recall how they sound, and likely recall trying to imitate at least one of them at some point, and doing a miserable job at it. And you can also pretty readily tell if whatever you're listening through is doing a bad job of reproducing how a person is supposed to sound (or how you perceive they are supposed to sound). Whereas pianos or trumpets or whatever else are fairly consistent in how they sound, because if they weren't, they wouldn't be pianos or trumpets (they'd be something else).
Quote:
Originally Posted by headphonatic View Post

Money doesn't set the standard for sound quality but it does have a say. Many things are taken in to consideration when pricing a headphone, such as design, comfort, ect. which makes up the total cost, still it gives companies an idea. I was going to give you an example, but I'm sure that will result in my "it's my opinion" counterattacks. Back on topic.

Also have to remember that pricing itself is used to position products in the market, but otherwise I agree entirely.
post #47 of 153
Thread Starter 

Is that 'thumpy', 'chesty' sound with vocals, as if you can feel the vibrations like the vocals are coming out of your own voicebox - does that happen with every headphone with good mids, or is that more an indication of good bass?

post #48 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by cactus_farmer View Post

Is that 'thumpy', 'chesty' sound with vocals, as if you can feel the vibrations like the vocals are coming out of your own voicebox - does that happen with every headphone with good mids, or is that more an indication of good bass?

Honestly I wouldn't characterize that as characteristic of "good headphones" in general if they're coloring and distorting the mids that heavily. Sounds like a recipe for a pretty wooly and muddy headphone honestly.

A headphone with good mids (or good bass) will have control - if the source media is wooly or thumpy it will translate that, but it won't force everything to sound like that.
post #49 of 153
Go try some 'phones with good mids yourself :-)
post #50 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by zazex View Post

.

 

Great midrange is a subtle thing.

 

I agree with your description "coherent and real" - but will say that it 'soon' induces goosebumps - IMO & IME it doesn't happen "immediately".

Well-behaved mids will sound nice and fit your description. Really great midrange though will jump out at you immediately with any decent recording played. It is the realism and density of timbre that could startle the listener, not just transparency or neutrality; very few sound systems could reproduce music with a believable sense of realism.

post #51 of 153
The K702 Annie has a great midrange. Noticeably more forward and fuller than the HE-400s. No matter how many times I test it, the HE-400's mids sound thinner and pushed back in comparison.

The K702 Annie is the headphone for those who love the HD650 but want more energy in the treble (still a smooth headphone) and considerably larger soundstage. The mids are similar, but the HD650's wins due to a more intimate soundstage which puts more focus on them even though they are about the same in emphasis.
post #52 of 153

When someone says a pair of phones have good mids, look at a response graph for those phones and you'll likely see a flat line from 100 to 2000 Hz. Subsequently, some phones that people call neutral are massively wonky in their response overall, but tend to have a flat response in that (important) area, where speech sounds commonly fall.


Edited by vid - 1/4/13 at 2:15pm
post #53 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerg View Post

Well-behaved mids will sound nice and fit your description. Really great midrange though will jump out at you immediately with any decent recording played. It is the realism and density of timbre that could startle the listener, not just transparency or neutrality; very few sound systems could reproduce music with a believable sense of realism.

 

I've found that any audio gear, not just speakers and headphones, where the midrange - or any aspect of the music - "jump[s] out at you immediately"

is suspect

and inevitably becomes tiresome after a while. 

post #54 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by vid View Post

When someone says a pair of phones have good mids, look at a response graph for those phones and you'll likely see a flat line from 100 to 2000 Hz. Subsequently, some phones that people call neutral are massively wonky in their response overall, but tend to have a flat response in that (important) area, where speech sounds commonly fall.

True, but I found the flat line from 100 to 700 or 800hz, usually at the low mids. If they were completely flat from 100 to 2000, it would sound rather boring.

post #55 of 153
Good mids are somewhat hard to describe - you basically have to listen to a lot of different systems and learn what the typical midrange pitfalls are.

A good indicator of quality mids is how much the tonality changes based on the recording. Recordings really do sound different, with many factors contributing to the overall sound, and if a headphone portrays a consistent tonality then chances are it either is lacking a bit of resolution or is coloring things somewhat. Now, a little bit of warm/lush coloration is fine, but the level of coloration that you're dealing with in headphones is typically far beyond that.

On the other hand, to a lot of people, very clean and undistorted mids sound "boring." There's a decent article that I found here that essentially talks about how in the short term, higher levels of harmonic distortion have been shown to be statistically preferred in listening tests, giving the transducer a sense of clarity, but in the long term they tend to cause listening fatigue. That has been very true so far in my experience and is what I think is at the heart of the whole "Sennheiser vs Grado" thing we had going here for a while. Plus, peaks in the upper mids can make instruments sound a little bit more exciting, but again it is a coloration that messes up tonality.

I do think the HD650 does mids quite well, and speaker systems that I've heard that actually were flat 20-20 had tonality that's similar. Still, there's room for improvement. I think my biggest standouts for mids so far are the Stax 007 Mk1, SR-X Mk3 Pro, and 003.
post #56 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

The K702 Annie has a great midrange. Noticeably more forward and fuller than the HE-400s. No matter how many times I test it, the HE-400's mids sound thinner and pushed back in comparison.
The K702 Annie is the headphone for those who love the HD650 but want more energy in the treble (still a smooth headphone) and considerably larger soundstage. The mids are similar, but the HD650's wins due to a more intimate soundstage which puts more focus on them even though they are about the same in emphasis.

With the right amp for the HE-400, I just can't agree with you biggrin.gif. But maybe the K702 could surprise me as well, when properly amped.

post #57 of 153
Trust me, the SA-31 is a lovely amp for the HE400. I love the HE400. However, next to the Annie, you can clearly hear the thinness in the mids in a DIRECT comparison. The Annie has a generous heft to all aspects of sound, while the HE400 favors lower end body first.

The lower end belongs to the HE400, but overall, the Annie is more fleshed out and better balanced.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 1/4/13 at 7:26pm
post #58 of 153

What's a K702 Annie?

post #59 of 153
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post

What's a K702 Annie?

Was wondering the same thing...

post #60 of 153

That would be the limited 65th anniversary version of the K702

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