Originally Posted by BetaWolf
Hello, I'm still relatively new to the community, as evidenced by my postcount. I've only recently gotten my first set of cans, a neutral and uncolored open-ear set with a very flat frequency response graph. It's a fairly highly regarded set on these forums, and I can see why: all sounds that come out of them are emphasized very evenly. You can hear each sound clear as day, neither louder nor quieter than others. It's very nice to hear sounds I've never heard before in music that I've been listening to for years.
I can't help but think that some music is meant to be emphasized differently, however. For example, maybe that percussion instrument is meant to be barely audible over the guitar and vocals, or that smooth beat is supposed to subtly complement the blaring synthesized sound.
Think of it like a painted portrait. It emphasizes a person's face, whether abstract or photorealistic, with a subtle background. Now, imagine if the face was less emphasized, the picture zoomed out and more of the background visible. The idea of the art piece loses focus, and people are left wondering whether they should be looking at the face or the vast white mountain off in the distance. The painting loses value due to the lack of focus, and confusion created among the viewers.
Is there anyone else who feels this way? If so, what kind of music do you listen to, what cans do you use, and why do you like them for that music?
I think if I'm understanding you correctly, I agree in part, but also think you may be misunderstanding to a degree. Let me address what may be a misunderstanding first:
A "flat," "neutral," or "reference" monitor (whether speaker, can, or IEM) is meant to most accurately reflect the recording as it was actually produced. Of course recording engineers have a great interest in this because they want to hear what's actually there. (From there, they often go to a wide variety of common listening sources to see how the "dry" mix translates to the "real world.")
Now though I did some live and recorded engineering, my reason for reference sources was much more fan boy in origin: I wanted to hear what the band/producers actually intended. This is going back, but Alan Parsons is a producer with a very distinctive sound for instance. Like Pink Floyd? They are definitely great but a major part of that Pink Floyd sound was due to Alan Parsons. I was at one time very geeky about trying to get into Alan Parsons' head to hear what he'd intended. So in such a case, I'd want very neutral sounding headphones.
But a neutral headphone doesn't make everything sound the same! Another favorite producer of mine is T-Bone Burnett and while he experiments and deviates more than Parsons, you can still tell a Burnett production and it's nothing like a Parsons one, etc.
So now we come to just listening to music. Right now just for fun, I pulled out my old Sony MDR-7506 headphones... a standard at one point and still are to some extent. The sound "good" to me still, but they aren't my preference by any means. I'm finding out my preference varies with what I'm in the mood for and what I'm listening to. For instance, right now I'm listening to Allman Brothers and I'd really prefer to be listening to my ATH ESW9 cans which I know aren't even as "accurate" as the Sony's. Why? because old recordings like this tend to be somewhat "tinny" and I love how my ESW9s thicken things up. (In general, I like roll off ala a "tube" kind of sound.) But let's say I was listening to a recording with all sorts of inherent roll off like some very old recordings, then I might prefer my JVC HA-S500 mods, that would tend to counteract the roll off. I also like the S500s for the "sheen" they bring to acoustic guitars and so on. In general though I'm beginning to realize I seem to like a "warm" headphone best for general listening.
Hope some of this rambling helps!
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