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What do you think makes headphones tiring?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Still new to HF, I've found my learning curve to be more of a spiral.  I'll start reading up on one concept, then see something that takes me in a completely different direction.  I don't understand much about electronics and I'm not familiar with audiophile terminology.  So I was hesitating on making any  choices.  Until the past week.

 

I got a Zero dac/preamp/headphone amp, which I immediately began burning in. I already owned a pair of Grado SR225's, which I had bought several years ago.  As the burn in process continued, I received a pair of Sennheiser HD700's that I bought from a fellow HF'er.   So I started to try to compare the two sets of headphones.  I'm not yet really able to put into words everything I heard, but I did notice the 225's seem brighter than the 700's.

 

Then I noticed is that I was gravitating more to the 700's.  I can't say that the 700's are "better" than the 225's, although I understand the 700's are higher up the Sennheiser ladder than the 225's are on Grado's. The Grado's just seemed to be more tiring to listen to.  It could be that the 700's are still new to my ears.  but I don't think that's it.  I think its because the 225s sound brighter to me, and maybe that's not the signature I like.  Don't know what it is. 

 

I did notice, also, that I can crank up the volume on the Zero with the Senn's higher than with the Grados.  Could this me simply that the Senns have a higher impedance than the Grados (150 vs 32)?  Or is it the brightness thing?  A combination of the two?

 

Whatever it is, what is it that you guys find make some headphones more tiring?  While I've seen comments about this, I wasn't able to find a thread specifically on the subject.  If someone can point me to one that exists that I missed, that's fine by me.

post #2 of 13
Thread Starter 

bump

post #3 of 13

More than the impedance, its the overall sensitivity / efficiency of each.    Grados have always been highly sensitive so it takes very little wattage (milli-wattage actually in terms of headphones) to drive them to sufficient volumes.   Just because one headphone is lower impedance does not necessarily mean its automatically going to be more sensitive, and play louder at the same volume.  My HD650 plays louder than my K701 at the same volume knob position... 300 ohms versus 65.

 

Treble boost over "pleasant" mids and upper-mids triggers my tinnitus.  (clinch your teeth together really really hard... thats the sound I get).  So headphones like the HD800 and DT880 remain out of my collection.  While the RS1, K701 and HD650 are perfectly balanced and "transitioned" between upper mids and treble.  My 650 foam sheets are socket-hole modded though... FWIW.  I think they helps to boost upper mids and helps with this transitional area.

 

Grados do have very bright treble, no denying that.  But I have always found it to be well balanced with the upper mids and bass, they dont give me that peakey-spikey "treble island".  So as long as I don't turn them up too loud they are fine with me.

post #4 of 13

Overly bright treble. I don't mean treble leaning, I mean when the high treble spikes. Even if it's not painful and sharp, having high hats and flutes smacking your ear drums for a while can start to fatigue terribly.

post #5 of 13

The first thing would be the comfort rather than sound

post #6 of 13
Sibilance and a mid bass hump. I can't handle the thudding from a mid bass hump for some reason. Nice creamy mids is my ideal

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
post #7 of 13
There's no getting around the fact that it is very unnatural to a have a sound source that close to your ears.
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post

There's no getting around the fact that it is very unnatural to a have a sound source that close to your ears.

 

True. I wonder if closed-back is inherently more tiring because of the suction factor on the eardrums. 

post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SomeGuyDude View Post

 

True. I wonder if closed-back is inherently more tiring because of the suction factor on the eardrums. 

 



Hmmmm....
...normally we hear music or speech in a room with some additional ambient sound:
if we are indoors we hear the acoustics of the room,
outdoors we hear the wind, rustle of leaves and grass, etc.

Listening to closed back 'phones is a bit like listening to music in an anechoic chamber.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SomeGuyDude View Post
 

 

True. I wonder if closed-back is inherently more tiring because of the suction factor on the eardrums. 

 



Hmmmm....
...normally we hear music or speech in a room with some additional ambient sound:
if we are indoors we hear the acoustics of the room,
outdoors we hear the wind, rustle of leaves and grass, etc.

Listening to closed back 'phones is a bit like listening to music in an anechoic chamber.

 

And not just that, but the pressure functions differently. Instead of simply direction sound at your eardrum, it's actually making a pressure wave on the whole chamber, which is why the seal is so critical to the sound. I kinda wonder if that causes fatigue as well.

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SomeGuyDude View Post
 

 

And not just that, but the pressure functions differently. Instead of simply direction sound at your eardrum, it's actually making a pressure wave on the whole chamber, which is why the seal is so critical to the sound. I kinda wonder if that causes fatigue as well.

 

Doesn't help too much that we tend to listen to headphones at really high volumes.

Apparently we lose our discrimination of high volume with headphones.

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post
 

 

Doesn't help too much that we tend to listen to headphones at really high volumes.

Apparently we lose our discrimination of high volume with headphones.

 

Fun thing to do: listen for about a half hour or so at whatever volume you're enjoying, then take them off for a bit. Put 'em back on and resume music. Marvel at how loud they were without you realizing it.

post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SomeGuyDude View Post

True. I wonder if closed-back is inherently more tiring because of the suction factor on the eardrums. 

Interesting conjecture.

Not much bothers me about my headphones, though I might be becoming more sensitive to treble.

The main issues are comfort: headbands that aren't U-shaped enough, pressure from the pads above the ears, heat from pads (pleather, ugh), pads that aren't deep enough. But all these have workarounds.
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