So after last month's experience with some Sennheiser headphones, I notice some grains/sibillance/hisses. Just wondering if those are measurable.
I understand sibilance and hiss but what do you mean by grains ?
Hi Billson. My understanding is that sibilance is mainly due to emphasis in the 4-10 kHz range. Tape hiss could be a result of emphasis in the 12-16 kHz range (air area.)
If by grain you mean this, then probably you are experiencing some level of distortion.
I have an HD558 and cannot say I have severe issues with this. My HD558 may be described as being a little high mids forward (2 to 6 kHz) and that may contribute a little to sibilance, but I don't think it is that bad. Relative to other cans, they seemed fairly balanced in terms of tone (frequency response.) They may have a bit of distortion in the bass area relative to other cans (though not SRH1x40 bad.) But the mids seem relatively clean to my ears.
The HD6x0 are probably a little less high mids forward and cleaner in the bass area though.
It is possible that you have a set of defective headphones. The problem could also be in the music source itself, but previous gear was masking them. What headphones were you using before?
Also, depending on what headphone model, amplifier requirements might be different. the HD6x0 require more voltage due to their impedance. However, you might be able to pair your HD6x0 with a higher output impedance amp than your HD5x8... What are you using to drive your cans, and like xnor said, what model do you have?
The XBA-4 seem to be BA IEMs though, and probably hard to drive ones. TBH I've not heard them. However, this link might be useful.
According to them, the FR is a bit bass emphasized. Furthermore, more interesting to me it's the impedance plot (second from the bottom.) It seems like 6.56 ohms all the way to about 1kHz after which it dramatically jumps to about 30 ohms at around 3.5kHz and 45 ohms at 6.5kHz.
This means that depending on your DAP or/and amplifier, the sound signature will change. They have the FR using an amplifier with 33 ohm and almost 0 ohm impedance and based on their results, it seems the 33 ohms will make the IEM sound brighter. Dunno about the distortion numbers, but they might creep up given the impedance characteristics of this IEM and the fact that its a BA type of IEM (with four drivers and probably 3 cross-overs!)
If you like them from your Apple players, then life is good. Note however that you might get better performance if pairing them with something like a Sansa Clip or so. You might find this article interesting: (scroll down to 1C15).
(EDIT) BTW: In a nutshell it seems that people that have heard them from low output impedance amplification give the XBA-4 high marks....
...also note that these are IEMs and they will naturally isolate more from outside noise relative to open full size headphones such as the Senn HD5x8.
(EDIT) I brought isolation up, because when I had my Audeo PFEs it seemed to me that the outside noise rejection aided in the perception of cleanness.
Sibilance is usually recognized in vocals when drawing out consonants through a narrow passage, like holding your tongue to your teeth. The resultant sound is in the famously annoying frequency range of 5-8khz. Any headphone with a peak in that range could sound sibilant and unfortunately a few Sennheiser phones qualify. Even their flagship, the HD800, can sound downright painful with a female vocalist.
There's also the issue of volume, in that the louder you listen the more the treble region is tilted up, so blasting an already sibilant phone is... cruel.
If by noise you mean elevated response then yes. All Grados have a 2khz peak and most have a secondary peak at 4-5khz, so mostly the upper mids, though peaks higher up also occur sometimes. I don't think this is wholly unintentional as John Grado's models like to hype the presence range to add an illusion of clarity. The enclosures are basically let loose to resonate, with the higher-end models' wooden cups acting like tone woods. It actually works quite well with some music.