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The State of Flagships - Ranked And Graded Via Measurements

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 

A friend on Facebook shared this with me. I don't really like measurments, but I thought it was an interesting read...


The State of Flagships

post #2 of 46

Thanks for posting this.  A lot of information in those slides.  A great way to tackle the technicalities of headphones.  The findings make the wallet sting of my recent HD800 purchase less painful knowing some great engineering is behind the HD800.  Something like the TH-900 which did not score so great as a flagship is still a well-loved headphone.  This is fine as it proves that a headphone with flaws can still reproduce music in an enjoyable way.  And, I'd be interested to see how the Alpha Dog does with his tests.    

post #3 of 46

a very nice read, thanks for sharing! oh i was looking forward to a lcd 2 grading...

post #4 of 46

Thanks for posting this.  VERY informative.  Should stir debate.

post #5 of 46
Wonder if my ED12s would measure any better than the ED10s? I got a feeling they probably wouldn't. redface.gif Ah well, I've tried a headphone or two that scored an A and was not a fan. I enjoy music that was recorded badly, and I enjoy headphones that measure badly. Just call me the ironic audiophile. biggrin.gif

It's an interesting read and I don't doubt the statistics, I just have one thing to say. There are many ways you can measure a product but many things can never be known looking at graphs alone, at least with the technology we have today. Can you test a headphones resolving capability with a graph for example? I'd be really surprised if you can't but I'm too ignorant to know which chart shows that... more importantly, can you test how a pair of headphones will make one react emotionally? I'm not talking about tube warmth here as I do hear that as a coloration but that unexplainable sound of rightness. As I've said, the music I listen to is usually recorded very poorly. A headphone that reproduces that perfectly to my ears is a non-starter, a headphone that can make this music sound decent without any obvious colorations on the other hand, well that's the ED12 imo.
post #6 of 46

Excellent presentation/article. As an engineer, I really like the way he analyzed each flagship by those 9 metrics, however, I already knew the conclusions for a few of the flagships even before reading . Brilliant work, we definitely need more emphasis on these kinds of issues.


At the moment, major companies (*cough*, Denon, Ultrasone and others) think that headphones are "just" luxury products. I am not a millionaire, therefore I wouldn't be buying them for that kind of purpose and I appreciate significant engineering behind flagships that contribute to the evolution of sound, and not the opposite.

post #7 of 46

go planar magnetics!!!! hahah i noticed only planar maggies & x1 high-end stat & the HD800 made A+ :)

post #8 of 46
What a great read! Thanks for sharing.

And oh those poor Ultrasones.
post #9 of 46
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by money4me247 View Post

go planar magnetics!!!! hahah i noticed only planar maggies & x1 high-end stat & the HD800 made A+ :)


My trusty old HiFiMAN HE-500's got a B+. Pretty good considering they're $699. ;)

post #10 of 46
Originally Posted by Austin Morrow View Post

My trusty old HiFiMAN HE-500's got a B+. Pretty good considering they're $699. ;)

heh... my dream pair of heapdhones TH900 made a D... which is the same as my current HE400... so I guess I just saved $1,500.

post #11 of 46
I got bored after a dozen pages and closed the tab. Seems to rank headphones on how well they are engineered, not how good they sound. That's nice for engineers and all, but does absolutely nothing for a listener like me.

Frankly, I don't care for measurements of any sort anymore. Been down that route before and found that most of the phones I tried based on measurements ranged from overly polite to downright insipid. Now I just test as many cans as possible and buy the ones I like best. The only time I've checked out InnerFidelity's measurements in the last couple of years was a few months ago when I got curious about a certain current amp and wanted to check out impedance curves to find out why it drove different headphones in different ways.. That was it.

I just select headphones based solely on what my ears tells me, how they make my favourite music sound, and how comfortable they are on my head. Frequency response, square wave graphs and other forms of rocket-science just end up confusing me and clouding my judgement. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the brightest spark in the room, but it's not like headphones could ever do a lap around the Isle of Man or Nurburgring anyway. Not saying the "engineering" is unimportant, because I do care about aspects like build-quality and whatnot, but there are many unmeasureable aspects I consider more important when it comes to audio.

I'd wager that many headphones I like are graded poorly in that study of his. Props to the chap for conducting it, and more power to you if you find the information useful, but to me it's about as informative as watching a bunch of squirrels grading different breeds of acorn. Won't really change the way I go about my own headphone ratings.
Edited by kurochin - 12/23/13 at 2:16am
post #12 of 46

I'm not sure what significance this would serve if any, but I noticed that a few of the headphones that measured poorly have been almost unanimously praised (I simply mean the supermajority, 75%+ is enough) in this community while I found zero head phones in his review that measured very well by his grading which were unanimously rejected by the audiophile community (similar to how the ED10s were). Maybe this shows that having good measurements guarantee unanimous praise, while poor measurements don't necessarily guarantee the counter-factual (rejection). That seems to be the general pattern of what's going on. 

post #13 of 46
post #14 of 46

I've always just been one who would rather listen to my music through my equipment rather than listen to my equipment through my music.  Although I can appreciate the effort, these objective measurements fail to account for personal preferences of musical genre, etc.  Getting too caught up in such studies, to me, somewhat devalues music itself.   

post #15 of 46

Given my druthers, I want gear that both sounds good to me AND measures well!

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