Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › IMPORTANT: Audio quality is a huge protection to your hearing!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

IMPORTANT: Audio quality is a huge protection to your hearing!

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

TL;DR
Lower quality made me turn up the volume. Higher quality made me lower the volume, a LOT.

 

Longer version:

I just created an account here to share with you what I consider to be an extremely important knowledge for the health of anyone who listens to music, including your kids.

 

In 2005, when I turned 14, my mom bought me a Philips SHP 805 for birthday. It's is a full-sized headphone that was something like 30 USD for an American, but here in Brazil the minimum wage at the time was 300 BRL, and this headphone price was 130 BRL. My jaw dropped when I found out the price of the headphone I just got, and I was pretty amazed, because what was in reality an entry level headphone, for me, was a ridiculously high quality product. I couldn't freaking believe in my life that I just got an SHP 805 from the holy Philips. The best of the best, oh yeah, baby (my thoughts at the time). I used this "excellent headphone for its price" from 2005 to 2014 and I have very little complaints. It was durable, had washable cushions, was reasonably comfortable and had a "critical listening" audio signature. It lasted 9 years so far and still works, but now, at 23, I wanted more.

 

So I took a step forward a few months ago. I bought an ASUS Xonar STX along with a Sennheiser HD 650. Today's Brazilian minimum wage is 724 BRL, and I bought this combo for 3100 BRL. It definitely made a slight change in my bank account and I'm sure the same will happen on the majority of people pockets, but I'm here to tell you that it's worth paying for a decent headphone not just because of the off-the-charts comfort and listening pleasure. This investment had a great impact on how I listen to music and how hard my ears take audio on a daily basis.

 

See, when I had the Philips SHP 805, although it reproduced an "acceptable" audio quality, significant imperfections on its frequency curve made me always had the volume on a more "present" level. The entry level headphone reproduced noticeably louder specific frequency ranges along with a "right inside your ear canal pseudo-detailed audio" signature, which was fatiguing after listening for a few hours.

 

When I first listened to the Sennheiser HD 650 my first thoughts were, in their respective order:

1. Holy ******** sh*t.

2. This sounds SO different.

3. Why does the audio look like it's being reproduced from 2 meters away? I have never experienced any kind of "acoustics" on a headphone! Amazing.

4. Unreal. The details, the warmth, the comforting sound, unbelievably realistic classical musical reproduction, incredibly pleasant smell of new headphone, wearing comfort so high that it feels like the hands of a god are over my ears, etc.

 

You get the idea. But respective to listening habits, what I later noticed after a few months of use was that:

 

1. My ears never ever got fatigued in any way after listening non-stop for 10 hours sessions or more;

2. My "ideal" volumes were much lower than with the entry level headphone.

 

These features are crucial, because they actively "protect" your hearing. 

 

Now, I knew how to handle the entry level SHP 805. Even though it always invited me to higher volumes and low volumes never satisfied, I was always fighting my volume slider down because I had done my research from the beginning. I had control over myself when adjusting my volume, but I know a lot of other people, specially teenagers, do not, thus raping the sh*t out of their headphone's diaphragms.

 

My "good behavior" paid off. The hearing checks that I've made two times a year, for the last two years, revealed that I have the same hearing health of an infant, which in the words of the medic who does the tests on me, says "it's rare". Why do medics consider rare a 23 year old guy, like me, having this level of hearing health?

 

- Because teenagers don't give a flying ***** about their hearing;

- They constantly go to parties and stay there for countless hours near deafening loud speakers turned to maximum volume;

- They have long high volume listening sessions on cheap headphones all day, everyday.

 

Cheap headphones contributes a lot to this, because satisfaction on cheaper sound sources might only come on higher volumes.

 

Right now, I'm listening to Uplifting Trance on my Sennheiser HD 650. The volume it's set is much lower than the sound I hear of a silent car cruising through my neighborhood. And well, this low volume is fulfilling and satisfying for me at this moment. My decade experience on the entry level SHP 805 can guarantee you that my volume at this exact same circumstance would be much higher.

 

Care for yourself and your kids hearing and only buy yourself or them high quality headphones and teach them how to use the volume slider.

The final product is that either you or they might be hearing surprisingly well after getting old.

 

Same old story: What is cheap now might turn out to be very expensive later.


Edited by Suncatcher - 5/28/14 at 6:40am
post #2 of 17
SPL, or sound pressure level, is very important when considering the age level of the listener. A lot of higher-end stuff has lower SPL, but not always. It does not have to be higher-end stuff, like Ety-kids earphones. You just have to search for stuff with less SPL yourself.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

I'm sorry, could you please elaborate on how SPL would be a matter of importance regarding one's tendencies to choose quieter or louder hearing sessions? I don't see any connections at all. If you can show me solid explanation on your statement relative to the topic of this thread I'll be very impressed.


Edited by Suncatcher - 5/28/14 at 5:50am
post #4 of 17
From the United States Department of Labor website:

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation/

I picked this site because of its laws and regulations with safety in the workplace.
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pbui44 View Post

From the United States Department of Labor website:

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation/

I picked this site because of its laws and regulations with safety in the workplace.

This is just a general basic hearing loss prevention article. I'm dealing with a consistently different matter on this thread: equipment induced human habits and tendencies. I still don't understand the connection of your first statements to the thread's topic.

post #6 of 17

I can certainly relate to the cheap vs. expensive thing, I used to turn up the music as I was hungry for more - that might have been more detail or whatever - it wasn't enough as it was.

 

That was on loudspeakers. Then there were the cheap headband headphones circa 1985 which I used as a schoolkid. Little isolation, and very cheap! I kind of wish that I'd had something as modest as a SoundMAGIC E10 back then, but I wouldn't value my current kit so much.

 

Like my Sinclair ZX Spectrum I had - I'm primed for a lifetime of feeling impressed with what computers can do, simply because I'm accustomed to the limitations of a 48k machine!

 

I agree that better quality is good for the ears, but crappy quality is good for the brain (sort of)!

Reply
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveHiFi View Post
 

I can certainly relate to the cheap vs. expensive thing, I used to turn up the music as I was hungry for more - that might have been more detail or whatever - it wasn't enough as it was.

 

That was on loudspeakers. Then there were the cheap headband headphones circa 1985 which I used as a schoolkid. Little isolation, and very cheap! I kind of wish that I'd had something as modest as a SoundMAGIC E10 back then, but I wouldn't value my current kit so much.

 

Like my Sinclair ZX Spectrum I had - I'm primed for a lifetime of feeling impressed with what computers can do, simply because I'm accustomed to the limitations of a 48k machine!

 

I agree that better quality is good for the ears, but crappy quality is good for the brain (sort of)!

Talking about isolation, in my experience even open air headphones, like the 650, can lead me to set, without noticing, surprisingly low volume levels on a reasonably active residential area. Even when outside common noises (like cars) are sounding louder to my ears—when inside the house—than my headphones volume, I can still be very satisfied listening to it. That never even got close to happen on the exact same conditions when I used the Philips SHP 805, which is also an open air headphone, like the 650.

 

As for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum you had. Wow, that is definitely not from my time, since this is the first time I've ever heard/read the name of this machine. 

post #8 of 17

I remember when this forum was all just fields :wink_face:

Reply
post #9 of 17

ZX Spectrum was also my first 'comp', if it is fair to call that thing 'the computer'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZX_Spectrum

post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveHiFi View Post
 

I remember when this forum was all just fields :wink_face:

 

When? I joined 11 years ago... but I can't remember. :D

Also ZX Spectrum was my first comp too... and it was AMAZING. We made it together with my father in 1989, I was 5 years old.. Good old times.

 

Back on topic - it's very important. I always listen on extremely low volumes - the brain adapts nicely anyway and your ears will say big thank you later in your life...

I can't really understand people, who listen their (closed) cans or IEMs so loud that I can hear the lyrics.


Edited by madwolfa - 5/28/14 at 9:06pm
post #11 of 17

I have a contrary view (at least with relation to headphones)

 

Higher end headphones have a lot (too much?) emphasis on treble and

have sometimes too little energy in the bass/mid level (200-300hz), which is responsible (at least for me for loudness)

Cause that configuration makes clarity/separation etc.better, but you don't feel the volumn, but feel the pain in your ears after a while:(.

Some examples of this are grados, old sennheisers(to lesser extend), DT880

 

On the other hand cheap stuff usually excels in that region (but the sound is muddy,veiled etc) so I more easily 'feel' the volumn there

post #12 of 17

Frequency certainly has a role to play - it's the higher ones which do the damage. Maybe higher-end can be more dangerous in the wrong hands.

 

I'm not such a fan of too much high frequency energy flying about either, I have the HE-400 which really suits me, as there's a good balance between the low grunt and the sparkle at the top - one doesn't tend to get in the way of the other.

Quote:
Originally Posted by madwolfa View Post
 

 

When? I joined 11 years ago... but I can't remember. :D

 

Haha, I'm a newby kid on the block round here - but with classic 80s computers being forgotten about, I felt somewhat of an old timer!

Reply
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by xdog View Post
 

Higher end headphones have a lot (too much?) emphasis on treble and

have sometimes too little energy in the bass/mid level (200-300hz), which is responsible (at least for me for loudness)

 

That's why I like my HD650. While being higher-end headphone, they have a perfect balance of treble and lower end.

post #14 of 17

For me it is the opposite, I turn bad quality down, and good quality up. Correlates with enjoyment.

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blinxat View Post
 

For me it is the opposite, I turn bad quality down, and good quality up. Correlates with enjoyment.

 

Yes, it depends. With good quality equipment and proper recording, you can crank it up without significant distortion increase, which makes higher volume levels listenable.

But you don't have to.


Edited by madwolfa - 5/29/14 at 6:42am
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphones (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › IMPORTANT: Audio quality is a huge protection to your hearing!