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Equalization of my Hifiman HE500

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hello,

 

The HE500 is a great headphone, specialy for its price, being already perfect to my ears. But "already perfect" isn't perfect. It suffers from some tiny but anoying defaults, at least linked to my high quality solid-state diy headamp:

- slight loss of sub-bass around 20Hz ("audeze alike" target, lol)

- slight bump in the 30-90Hz range (sometimes a little boomy)

- slight loss in the 1-1.9kHz range (lack of naturalness on human voices, piano notes...)

- emphasis in the 8-10kHz range ("hissssssss")

So I decided to test, measure and listen to some grill-mods: not satisfiying.

Then I decided to buy a miniDSP with its 31 graphic equalizer plug-in. After a long trip into analyses of published frequency responses of high-end headphones, own measurements and trials on my HE500, I ended to the following equalization (velour-pads).

My headphone sounds now amazingly natural, uncoloured, fully bodied and tonaly balanced.

Those who own a graphic equalizer but cannot measure, I encourage trying this config, I guess you will not be disappointed!

 

blues: both channels unequalized, red/orange: both channels equalized

http://img14.imageshack.us/img14/9818/9w31.png

 

equalizing config:

http://imageshack.us/a/img62/9513/ktdr.png


Edited by agnostic1er - 11/18/13 at 9:46am
post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by agnostic1er View Post
 

Hello,

 

The HE500 is a great headphone, specialy for its price, being already perfect to my ears. But "already perfect" isn't perfect. It suffers from some tiny but anoying defaults, at least linked to my high quality solid-state diy headamp:

- slight loss of sub-bass around 20Hz ("audeze alike" target, lol)

- slight bump in the 30-90Hz range (sometimes a little boomy)

- slight loss in the 1-1.9kHz range (lack of naturalness on human voices, piano notes...)

- emphasis in the 8-10kHz range ("hissssssss")

So I decided to test, measure and listen to some grill-mods: not satisfiying.

Then I decided to buy a miniDSP with its 31 graphic equalizer plug-in. After a long trip into analyses of published frequency responses of high-end headphones, own measurements and trials on my HE500, I ended to the following equalization.

My headphone sounds now amazingly natural, uncoloured, fully bodied and tonaly balanced.

Those who own a graphic equalizer but cannot measure, I encourage trying this config, I guess you will not be disappointed!

 

blues: both channels unequalized, red/orange: both channels equalized

http://img14.imageshack.us/img14/9818/9w31.png

 

equalizing config:

http://imageshack.us/a/img62/9513/ktdr.png

Maybe try some hard modding before going for a digital solution? :cool:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/646812/hifiman-he500-he400-jergpad-mod-v2-5-modulor-orders-updated-november

 

(scroll down in the thread for measurements)

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerg View Post
 

Maybe try some hard modding before going for a digital solution? :cool:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/646812/hifiman-he500-he400-jergpad-mod-v2-5-modulor-orders-updated-november

 

(scroll down in the thread for measurements)

Jerg, is the first "HE500 + full v2.5 Jergpads" measurement on page1 of your thread the result of your last and definitive mod(s)?

post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by agnostic1er View Post
 

Jerg, is the first "HE500 + full v2.5 Jergpads" measurement on page1 of your thread the result of your last and definitive mod(s)?

For the earpads, yes (for the foreseeable future). At the moment I'm more delved into driver damping so the Jergpad mod compilation is more or less solidified.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerg View Post
 

For the earpads, yes (for the foreseeable future). At the moment I'm more delved into driver damping so the Jergpad mod compilation is more or less solidified.

OK. From what I can see on the measurements, it seems that the treble sibilance certainly does stay present. Is it your goal to damp this fr range?

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by agnostic1er View Post
 

OK. From what I can see on the measurements, it seems that the treble sibilance certainly does stay present. Is it your goal to damp this fr range?

 

First off, you cannot simply infer that there IS treble sibilance here, that's poor interpretation. There are dark-measuring headphones with a ton of sibilance, and bright-measuring headphones with little to none.

 

Treble is on par in quantity with bass/midrange, only the upper midrange is slightly depressed. My mod isn't trying to make the HE500s measure like LCD3s, it still retains the general tonal balance of HE500s (flat up to 1kHz, roll down between 2-6kHz, then some treble presence around 10kHz). Treble region is pushed out, so instead of a peak it is a very even shoulder; it also connects very seamlessly to the upper mids now.

 

You might be perceiving sibilance because of the disconnection of treble to midrange with stock pads, causing the treble to stick out like a sore thumb.


Edited by jerg - 11/18/13 at 10:14am
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Jerg, 

 

I agree that treble sibilance might be highlighted by the balance between low and high frequencies.

I also know that measurements aren't saying the last word in terms of perceived sound quality.

 

BUT: believe me or not, I tested a huge number of equalizations on my HE500. My conclusions were that if I recessed the 2.2 to 5kHz level, the result wasn't satisfaying, whatever I modified on higher or lower frequency levels. Also, if the bump/peaks in the 8/10kHz area wasn't reduced by an amount of at least 4dBs, ringing did always stay present, here too, whatever I acted on lower frequencies. These findings are proven facts to my ears...with a linear (solid state) amp. BTW, if you look at some published frequency responses of the Stax SR009 which a majority of listeners agree that this can possess one or even the best trebles of the present headphones production, you might begin to understand why...

 

However I am not saying that your mods aren't able to render a best overal sound balance, mostly because I know that modifications on a large frequency range act hugely on tonal balance, often better than equalizing tiny ranges. So my tread has not the purpose to compete with your physical mods but to offer an outline for those having a graphic equalizer and no measurements possibilities.

Have fun with your work, it is very interesting.:) 

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by agnostic1er View Post
 

Jerg, 

 

I agree that treble sibilance might be highlighted by the balance between low and high frequencies.

I also know that measurements aren't saying the last word in terms of perceived sound quality.

 

BUT: believe me or not, I tested a huge number of equalizations on my HE500. My conclusions were that if I recessed the 2.2 to 5kHz level, the result wasn't satisfaying, whatever I modified on higher or lower frequency levels. Also, if the bump/peaks in the 8/10kHz area wasn't reduced by an amount of at least 4dBs, ringing did always stay present, here too, whatever I acted on lower frequencies. These findings are proven facts to my ears...with a linear (solid state) amp. BTW, if you look at some published frequency responses of the Stax SR009 which a majority of listeners agree that this can possess one or even the best trebles of the present headphones production, you might begin to understand why...

 

However I am not saying that your mods aren't able to render a best overal sound balance, mostly because I know that modifications on a large frequency range act hugely on tonal balance, often better than equalizing tiny ranges. So my tread has not the purpose to compete with your physical mods but to offer an outline for those having a graphic equalizer and no measurements possibilities.

Have fun with your work, it is very interesting.:) 

SR009s have a significant depression 6-10kHz, it is nowhere near neutral in the upper end. Also they are not the last word in terms of treble tonal balance, only in terms of treble detail extraction which is a separate attribute.

 

You just subjectively prefer a recessed treble relative to midrange.

 

 

I sunk dozens of hours into parametric equalizations too, on a number of headphones including HE500 (an example is below)

 

 

But ultimately I hated the fully-neutral balance that the EQ was able to present. HE500's natural tonal balance just sounds more natural and musical.

 

 

Ultimately FR preference is subjective from individual to individual, it is other attributes like transient response, decay, distortion, resolution that are more universal.


Edited by jerg - 11/18/13 at 12:59pm
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

It's funny to see that our opinions are so different about the treble range of the HE500; what appears as a recessed treble on my equalization measurement makes a perfect job in my perception of a natural treble tonal balance and the full equalized range gives me a much more natural sound overall, that's while I choose to equalize my phone.:smile:

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