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Define "low level" listening

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've read lots of threads where people say things like "sound great at low levels", "these headphones shine at low volume", etc.

This is often said of Grado's.

My question is, what exactly qualifies as low volume? Seems to be a rather subjective thing.
post #2 of 12

Seems like BS to me.

post #3 of 12

Typically headphones with pronounced bass and treble relative to midrange can sound better at low volume levels.  Bass and treble are less sensitive at lower volumes so can seem more balanced at lower levels where as more neutral headphones might seem less so.  That's a totally subjective thing that can be taken either way, but the sensitivity is a fact.

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post

Typically headphones with pronounced bass and treble relative to midrange can sound better at low volume levels.

Yes, but that is one of the things I find confusing... Grado's are generally thought of as bass light, yet are said to sound best at lower levels...
post #5 of 12

Well I did say it's subjective either way you slice it.  For example I think Grados stink at high or low level volumes.

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Perhaps I'm coming at this question the wrong way... Or perhaps it's just a stupid question... wink.gif

How does one measure the volume of headphones in any way other than a purely objective manner? I can use a SPL metre for room measurements... Is there an equivalent for headphones?
post #7 of 12

Same way.

 

I don't see any reason to though it's not like everybody's measuring their headphones calling it low volume listening.  If you know your average listening level you should know what low and high volume listening for you is, and how it compares to other people you know.

post #8 of 12

Low volume is whatever low volume is for you.

There doesn't have to be a specified point where it becomes considered "low level"

I can take whatever volume I listen to music at on average, turn it down, and I'm there.

If a headphone sounds nice to you below your average listening level, you could say it shines at low levels and it would be an accurate statement.

As with most situations in the headphone game, it's subjective.

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post
 

Typically headphones with pronounced bass and treble relative to midrange can sound better at low volume levels.  Bass and treble are less sensitive at lower volumes so can seem more balanced at lower levels where as more neutral headphones might seem less so.  That's a totally subjective thing that can be taken either way, but the sensitivity is a fact.

 

These were my thoughts too,until I bought sony MDR 1R which is midrange oriented,and I found that it's better at low volumes due to the emphasized mids.

At first I thought that bass heavy and treble heavy headphones were annoying at higher volumes,but headphones with pronounced midrange can be annoying too,if not worse.I think that ear sensitivity is higher somewhere at mid freqs,at about 500 hz or 1 khz?

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by john53 View Post
 

These were my thoughts too,until I bought sony MDR 1R which is midrange oriented,and I found that it's better at low volumes due to the emphasized mids.

At first I thought that bass heavy and treble heavy headphones were annoying at higher volumes,but headphones with pronounced midrange can be annoying too,if not worse.I think that ear sensitivity is higher somewhere at mid freqs,at about 500 hz or 1 khz?

 

Ear sensitivity is highest in the 2-4 kHz region for a young person with normal hearing. With age, we gradually loose sensitivity to high frequencies, so it may be normal for a middle aged person's hearing to be most sensitive in the 500 Hz - 1 kHz and for an elderly person's hearing to be most sensitive in the 250-500 Hz region.

post #11 of 12
I've always found the better a transducer is, the more neutral it is, in fact, the better it sounds at low levels.

It's the crap headphones/IEMs you have to crank up to sound "good."

And then you're introducing all sorts of IM distortion into the ear canal, as well as reflex protective reaction by the ear itself, which makes it all actually sound worse!

So you crank it more to compensate, your ears and head start to hurt, and you're done listening.

You don't need to deal with any of this with a good pair of headphones or IEMs.



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post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post
 

Typically headphones with pronounced bass and treble relative to midrange can sound better at low volume levels.  Bass and treble are less sensitive at lower volumes so can seem more balanced at lower levels where as more neutral headphones might seem less so.

 

My experience so far is the opposite. I listen at very low volumes. I can't enjoy a V-shape because all I hear are the lows and the highs. Everything else is drowned out between the booming and the screeching. So mid-centric or even neutral is what I try to find.

 

Regarding Grados, I hadn't heard that they're considered good at low volumes. I definitely enjoy them, but I either have to raise the volume or amp them for airiness and fuller body. Maybe what they mean is that considering Grados' intense popularity among listeners of guitar-oriented music and Grados' spike at (on average) 9 kHz, the guitar can still be heard well at low volumes.

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