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On Hi-Fi headphone recommendations - rant / digression / question.

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

Hi this is a digression / question / rant.

 

I can never really understand why do people ask what music you listen to when they need to recommend a pair of phones.

 

I mean, the term Hi-Fi comes from the desire that the source is reproduced in the most reliable and exact way.

 

If the result of reproducing the source is the closest match, you have a good pair of Hi-Fi phones.

 

So why is it so important to know what music I listen to to recommend some cans ?

 

If a certain pair of phones have more or less bass (or treble) using the same source, clearly one or other is colouring the signal in certain way.

 

So what am I missing ?

 

Anyone want to throw some thoughts on this ?

post #2 of 33

I know nothing more than you when it comes to this but maybe because getting a headphone that is perfect for every genre (i guess i mean completely neutral) is very expensive so people want to know what imperfections or colourations in the sound would be the least problematic? As in, if you want to listen to electronic music you could get a higher end pair of headphones (he-500) or a lower end pair that happens to have a slightly elevated bass (as this would suit the genre to a degree). 

 

In this way people can get away with using lower overall quality headphones but still achieving a nice sound for the genre (and of course saving money). Anyway that's just my thoughts


Edited by julzd - 9/18/13 at 6:22am
post #3 of 33

Unfortunately, there is no headphone with perfectly flat response, so one has to choose in what way it will be audibly colored. Additionally, some popular genres might often be mixed expecting a non-flat frequency response (e.g. boosted bass) on typical consumer equipment.

 

But neutrality is indeed preferred ideally, and if/when coloration is needed, it is best added using equalization (something that audiophiles tend to avoid due to the assumption that it degrades the sound, but for whatever reason colored equipment does not).


Edited by stv014 - 9/18/13 at 6:29am
post #4 of 33

The most extreme example I can think of would be Electronic Dance Music. This music is ideally heard at relatively high volume with huge bass drivers driven by thousands of watts of power--a club PA setup, basically. So headphones with very broad bass extension will give a better experience for EDM, but really aren't needed for folks whose tastes run to ABBA and Air Supply, or on another genre, string quartets and piano sonatas.

post #5 of 33
I tried to adress this issue in my post Dynamic range of Music in relations to headphones, witch rather should be called **** recordings in relations to accurate headphones.

In my opinion, most recordings today are a bad match with the best Equipment. Music is about feeling something, and if I cringe when listening to Music that is ruined in mastering due to loudnesswar, i would rather listen to the same recording on my less precise HE-500 instead of using the mindnumming accurate Stax SR-009.

Its no question about it. The Stax is ten times the headphone that the HE-500 will ever be. But as a consumer of Music I find that i have to adapt to whats out there, rather than making it adapt to my Equipment.

Producers want us to listen to **** recordings. If i have to, I will find Equipment that makes me enjoy the **** they produce, and thats often alot cheaper than most would think. And once in a while I will bring out the big gun HD800 and listen to some rare classical masterpieces that has a lusious dynamic range that makes me feel nothing but pure joy.
Edited by MatsGyver - 9/18/13 at 7:49am
post #6 of 33
Buying Stax, Audeze or Sennheiser to listen to pop, rock or techno is the equivilant of buying a sportscar when you live in the Woods. Yes the sportscar is better than most cars, but when you only have gravel around you a $5000,- all terrain wehicle might be a better option.
post #7 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by MatsGyver View Post

Buying Stax, Audeze or Sennheiser to listen to pop, rock or techno is the equivilant of buying a sportscar when you live in the Woods. Yes the sportscar is better than most cars, but when you only have gravel around you a $5000,- all terrain wehicle might be a better option.

Yes, overall I'd agree. But for audiophiles the question gets even more specific. If you're listening to Classic Punk, by all means, stick with the all-terrain vehicle. But for Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Yes, maybe Steely Dan, Heart, etc, I would want my good headphones back. I've heard them on both, and these bands provide material worth listening to closely.

 

**Even** re techno, I'd want to know specifically who. Daft Punk for sure, as well as anyone produced by Yasutaka Nakata (capsule, MEG, Perfume). Nakata in particular loads up his techno tracks with densely but precisely layered musical material--very rewarding when listened to closely on good equipment.

post #8 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltMusicSnob View Post

Yes, overall I'd agree. But for audiophiles the question gets even more specific. If you're listening to Classic Punk, by all means, stick with the all-terrain vehicle. But for Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Yes, maybe Steely Dan, Heart, etc, I would want my good headphones back. I've heard them on both, and these bands provide material worth listening to closely.

**Even** re techno, I'd want to know specifically who. Daft Punk for sure, as well as anyone produced by Yasutaka Nakata (capsule, MEG, Perfume). Nakata in particular loads up his techno tracks with densely but precisely layered musical material--very rewarding when listened to closely on good equipment.

Yes I agree. It Depends on the recording more than the genre. If its a good recording like the last Daft Punk album Random Access Memories it for sure is more of a pleasure to listen too trough more precise headphones. But Im not that sure that the same goes for their earlier albums. Most of the Music easy availible in that genre sadly is closer to the former than the first.

If you have patiance and time, Im sure you can dig up some good recordings. But sometimes its not possible, no matter how wide and deep you look. Some bad recordings are as good as it gets, or as good as it was originally mastered. You cant improve what was never there.

Unless you have Beats. Then the bad distorted recording may actually be more pleasurable to listen too.
Edited by MatsGyver - 9/18/13 at 11:18am
post #9 of 33

All headphones  have different traits. And many seem to sound better with some kinds of music.

A really good $$$$ set of headphones often (but not always) sounds good with any kind of music.

All headhones do a few things well. The real test is a set that doesn't do anything BADLY.

 

I know that doesn't seem logical until you listen to a lot of cans and find out what that set

on your head falls short in. And sorry about your wallet.

post #10 of 33
There are two concepts at play here:

-- Musicality. Different genres of music sound more or less pleasant depending on the nature of the transducer. Its a purely psychological phenomenon.

-- Neutrality. Reproducing music as it was recorded.


A neutral headphone will be better at more genres, but may not be as musical for a particular genre.
post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrjimmybob View Post
 

Hi this is a digression / question / rant.

 

I can never really understand why do people ask what music you listen to when they need to recommend a pair of phones.

 

I mean, the term Hi-Fi comes from the desire that the source is reproduced in the most reliable and exact way.

 

If the result of reproducing the source is the closest match, you have a good pair of Hi-Fi phones.

 

So why is it so important to know what music I listen to to recommend some cans ?

 

If a certain pair of phones have more or less bass (or treble) using the same source, clearly one or other is colouring the signal in certain way.

 

So what am I missing ?

 

Anyone want to throw some thoughts on this ?

 

So how do you know how is the source sounds like? Go to the recording studio? Live concert? Live concert in a small cafe? Have the band sing in front of you? Compare it to the million dollars monitor in a perfect acoustically treated room?

 

My advice is for you to hear more headphones on different setup.

post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

There are two concepts at play here:

-- Musicality. Different genres of music sound more or less pleasant depending on the nature of the transducer. Its a purely psychological phenomenon.

-- Neutrality. Reproducing music as it was recorded.


A neutral headphone will be better at more genres, but may not be as musical for a particular genre.

--Neutrality is often recommended in recording techniques themselves, as in "Place the microphone in the best spot in the first place, do less or even no EQ later on when mixing." And two major avenues in recording equipment are buying for transparency, and buying for a desired audio coloration--vintage gear like the LA-2 optical compressor are sought after for coloration, and many varieties of tube-based gear. The former is about neutrality, the latter, musicality.

post #13 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktm View Post
 

All headphones  have different traits. And many seem to sound better with some kinds of music.

A really good $$$$ set of headphones often (but not always) sounds good with any kind of music.

All headhones do a few things well. The real test is a set that doesn't do anything BADLY.

 

I know that doesn't seem logical until you listen to a lot of cans and find out what that set

on your head falls short in. And sorry about your wallet.

This statement leans far more closer to the truth than anyone else's ridiculousness. Lets take the HD800 for example, its a headphone I have and Im sure many of us here are quite familiar with its bad reputation. Things like "HD800 is horrible with pop and rock music, its much more designed for jazz, vocals, classical and people who have a glass of very expensive wine while enjoying the HD800" is absolute comedy and far from the truth.


Edited by youngGeezeh - 10/10/13 at 4:08pm
post #14 of 33
http://www.head-fi.org/t/604058/whats-all-this-best-iem-for-rock-pop-bang-nonsense

Been there biggrin.gif

I'd say that neutral headphones would sound good even with EDM. That's already mixed with overwhelming bass, and even EDM has content in the higher frequencies, content that would be swamped out by the bass until all you get is BOOM BOOM BOOM if you used some of the crappier Beats. But like my linked post says, I do believe personal sound signature preference is important... it's just not correlated to what music you listen to.
post #15 of 33
I think this is a very complex issue, made out by many sound scientists to be simple but it really is not.

Sure the most accurate headphones give the closest reproduction of the original file. But for pure listenings expirience I sometimes enjoy artifacts like room Acoustics and "slam". With many studio recordings in combination With accurate headphones and a neutral/flat frequency response there are close to no room Acoustics, and the awsome Rihanna song you heard in the Club a couple of Nights before sound nothing like the one played With Your expensive Stax or Senn HD800`s. The Version you hear With Your flat headphones is more accurate and detailed, but it lacks the room-acoustics that you heard from the Club. The room Acoustics give the song the awsome deep bass rumble and punch, and it also kills details because there is so much bass-energy trapped in the room that all other high frequencies With less energy than the flood of bass gets drowned under a blanket of pure bass. Masking effekt i think it is called.

Beats actually give a closer representation of the Club sound than the SennHD800 when the original studio recording is used. Mainly because the bass ressonates inside the closed Chamber on beats wich resembles the ressonation of bass inside the club, but on a much smaller scale. While the bass-energy simply dissapear into the room With the Senn`s making it sound detailed and thin in comparison.

If you take a high quality tape recorder With you to the Club and capture the sound in something like 32/96bit the Sennheiser will be the best headphone for accurately capturing the sound you heard in the Club. This is because Beats add its closed Chamber Acoustics in adition to the room Acoustics in the live recording. Ending up With way too much ressonance.

I therefor often prefer closed headphones for pop, r&b, techno when listetning to original studio recordings without room-acoustics, and the more accurate pricyer headphones when listening to recordings that have more room-acoustics in the actual recording.

I actually enjoy some room-acoustics in Music because to me it sound more natural, but not when there is too much (beats and live recordings) and not when there is to little (Senns with studio recordings). When I combine the two and use beats for studio recordings and senns for live, i can enjoy all types of Music streching from blues, jazz, classical, to rock, pop techno and r&b. Its not so much about the Equipment but more about the Music and knowing what Equipment to use on witch recordings. A carpenter have lots of Tools suited for different tasks and thats how i think of headphones and hifi in genreral to. They are a tool to a means and a headphone, DAC or an amplifier is no more musical than the carpenters scissors.
Edited by MatsGyver - 10/11/13 at 6:58am
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