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Very specific criteria for portable, closed supra-aurals.

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I realize that my criteria might be too specific, and may even conflict in some cases, but:

I'd like for my music to blend in with as much ambient noise from my surroundings as possible for a more natural feel while on the go, yet remain prominent and engaging and not sound like I'm listening to speakers twenty-five feet away from me, or that it's taking a back seat to or being drowned out by the ambient noise. However, I WILL use these in public places like malls and hate broadcasting to others what I'm listening to, but for the most part I will be alone when using them (bike riding, at the park, working out)

 

For these reasons, I'm looking for portable, closed, supra-aural headphones with a fairly small sound stage, are most neutral and accurate, have the best imaging, and best sound quality for under $150? Clip-on recommendations welcome, as I might get pretty physical with them, and a lower profile is preferred but neither should come before the criteria listed.

 

Also, are there any that fit the criteria and are designed to leak little to no sound without compromising the amount of ambient noise they allow in? Or are supra aurals (even closed ones),by design, always going to leak a noticeable amount of sound to others when listening at a volume at medium or above ? Thanks.

post #2 of 13

I think I'm misunderstanding something here.

So you DO WANT to hear your surroundings?

post #3 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by GREQ View Post

I think I'm misunderstanding something here.
So you DO WANT to hear your surroundings?

Apparently so. But he also doesn't want any sound leakage. I don't know how that will work (lol).
post #4 of 13

I'm not sure how "small soundstage" + "best imaging" is going to work either.

post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by GREQ View Post

I'm not sure how "small soundstage" + "best imaging" is going to work either.

LOL

Click Here: I think you have described an impossible headphone, one that currently defies physics and known audio science. smily_headphones1.gif
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

Sorry, I think I may have misunderstood some terms and concepts while researching audio gear (I'm still new to all of this).

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by GREQ View Post
 

I think I'm misunderstanding something here.

So you DO WANT to hear your surroundings?

 

Well, yes. I want to hear my surroundings, forget what I said about wanting the music to not leak - I'll just buy a pair of IEMs for listening around others, and switch between them.

I already knew wanting openness with no leakage didn't make sense, but hey, there's still a lot about audio equipment and headphones I don't know and thought it was worth a shot.

There could have been some magic technology like noise cancellation that worked in the opposite direction on sound leaking FROM the headphones, or some other sonic wizardry, for all I knew.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GREQ View Post
 

I'm not sure how "small soundstage" + "best imaging" is going to work either.

 

Please correct me if I'm wrong about any of this, but I was under the impression that sound stage implied the perceived distance from the sound - as in, a large sound stage being akin to a large room where the source of sound would be further from you and sound fainter as opposed to a smaller sound stage akin to a smaller room where the sound would be closer and not as faint.

 

As for Imaging, I thought it described the separation and placement of instruments. If what I believe to be sound stage and imaging are correct, couldn't sound still be imaged well in a smaller sound stage - the music appearing to be in closer proximity of you and all around you as opposed to at just your sides. I realize that's mostly dependent on how a track is mixed, but then why would imaging even be a concern in headphones? (or is it only a concern in headphones with larger sound stages?)

 

If I'm correcting in believing this, but am still misunderstanding that closed, supra aurals will naturally have a larger sound stage, I guess I'll just live with that, too

 

So, I'd like to revise: what I'm looking for is a portable, closed, supra-aural pair of headphones with a neutral and accurate (do those two terms imply the same thing?) sound, with superb sound quality for up to $150.

post #7 of 13
What genre(s) do you listen to most?

You could broaden your search to include open over ear models because they're usually less isolating than a closed on ear.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Claritas View Post

What genre(s) do you listen to most?

You could broaden your search to include open over ear models because they're usually less isolating than a closed on ear.

 

 

Actually, it's quite difficult to say what I listen to most - I listen to a lot of genres whose styles emphasize cover the spectrum of frequencies, and all of them about the same, which is why I wanted a neutral, uncolored sound, and a closed back model to get the airiness that I want, yet not have an undetectable lower frequency (does the closed back even help in that respect? If not, I'll most likely broaden my search to include open backs). But for simplicity, I'll be listening to R&B and pop punk, about the same. I know R&B entails a bassier sound and pop punk (I believe) favors higher frequencies, but I still would like that there were no bias toward, or exclusion of, either

 

Do supra-aurals, open or closed, naturally have a bias towards higher frequencies?

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

Do supra-aurals, open or closed, naturally have a bias towards higher frequencies?

Open headphones typically have a bigger soundstage than closed. It's easier to design a closed headphone with heavy bass emphasis because of the seal against the ear, although there are still open headphones with good deep bass response. Closed headphones will have more isolation and leak less sound. Those are generalities.

Otherwise, open or closed, headphones can be designed for different frequency responses. No "natural" bias.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


Open headphones typically have a bigger soundstage than closed. It's easier to design a closed headphone with heavy bass emphasis because of the seal against the ear, although there are still open headphones with good deep bass response. Closed headphones will have more isolation and leak less sound. Those are generalities.

Otherwise, open or closed, headphones can be designed for different frequency responses. No "natural" bias.

 

Okay, but was I right in assuming what sound stage meant? If so, I'm sure I'd be happy with the opennes of closed-backs (sorry, I know my OP may have been misleading in that regard), but I still don't want to rule out open models. So can you recommend any portable, accurate, neutral (or as-neutral-as-it-gets for the respective type) sounding pairs with excellent sound quality, open or closed for under $150?


Edited by Click Here - 4/29/14 at 11:27pm
post #11 of 13
Quote:

As for Imaging, I thought it described the separation and placement of instruments.

Yes, but excellent imaging and expansive soundstage OFTEN go hand in hand. There are exceptions but those who are more experienced will often expect to find that these qualities are not mutually exclusive. 

 

Your understanding of the sound terminology is also fine!

I'm still not sure what would be best for you...

 

It seems you're putting a lot of emphasis on accuracy, so I'm leaning toward suggesting a Sony studio headphone.... but they're also not neutral and have a treble bias.

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GREQ View Post
 

Yes, but excellent imaging and expansive soundstage OFTEN go hand in hand. There are exceptions but those who are more experienced will often expect to find that these qualities are not mutually exclusive. 

 

Your understanding of the sound terminology is also fine!

I'm still not sure what would be best for you...

 

It seems you're putting a lot of emphasis on accuracy, so I'm leaning toward suggesting a Sony studio headphone.... but they're also not neutral and have a treble bias.

 

That's right, I remember I've read somewhere that "accurate" headphones actually tend to have a treble bias as they accurately reproduce the higher frequencies. I was confused and assumed this kind of "accuracy" was synonymous with overall fidelity, and thus higher sound quality, and not just another term for a treble bias. Now that I think of it, enhanced imaging seems like yet another colorization of sound (like a frequency emphasis), not intended by the original mixing. If so, then I'm not worried about imaging. In fact, I don't even think I want it any more, as I want to listen to a track the way it was mixed, which is also why I want a neutral sound.

 

So, upon further revision, I have removed accuracy and imaging from my criteria. This leaves as much neutrality as possible and excellent sound quality (clarity?) in a pair of open or closed, portable supra-aurals for under $150. I also forgot to mention that they will be driven by a Clip+, Clip Zip (either will be unamped) or a Fiio X3. It turns out the criteria aren't very specific after all, huh?

post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Click Here View Post

That's right, I remember I've read somewhere that "accurate" headphones actually tend to have a treble bias as they accurately reproduce the higher frequencies.

That's not "accurate" (lol). If by treble bias you mean enhanced treble, then a headphone that has treble bias means it's not truly accurate, for an accurate response would be a neutral frequency response. A headphone with enhanced treble has a "bright" sound signature--unless it's v-shaped, in which case it could have enhanced treble but have a lot of enhanced bass that might give it more of a warm tone.

Then again, frequency response is not the only characteristic of accuracy (although probably the most significant). For example, there's also the impulse response.
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