This is the tenth in my comparisons of three headphones, all using a group of 10 tests and scored by ranking their performance on each test as first, second, and third place. I call this the "Battle of the Bassy's" -- each is a closed headphone with enhanced bass, yet not quite to the threshold of "extreme bass-head headphone."
Details on the tests were most recently posted here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/722423/the-500s-side-by-side-testing-the-hifiman-he-500-grado-ps500-and-shure-se535-comparatively#post_10620725 .
In short, I use segments of four songs to perform 10 specific tests on each headphone. For each test, I rank each headphone against the other two, operating two at a time and repeating comparisons on each test and each pair until I can either rank order the three headphones on the test as first place, second place, or third place, or find that two or all three of the headphones tie in performance (i.e., I cannot reliably hear a difference). I assign 3 points for first place, 2 for second place, and 1 for third (the reverse of the place number, so that higher scores correspond with better performance).
I then do the above for each of the 10 criteria, then add up the total score of each headphone. Highest scoring headphone of the three is colored blue, second place is red, and lowest scoring is yellow. Score differences of less than three points are insignificant.
A major problem with this test method is that since scores are based on order of position in a ranking, a headphone that scores on a test way above another headphone will only differ by one (or if it scores better than two headphones, 2) points. Unfortunately, even headphones that are only slightly different in performance on a test will also get a one or two point advantage. Hence, the test overemphasizes small headphone differences (and underemphasizes big differences).
I compared the Beats Pro, the Yamaha Pro 500, and the Beats Studio 2013 (i.e., the second version that came out last year).
One motivation was the ad from Yamaha that has caused Beats to sue Yamaha...
The blue Yamaha 500 Pro shown is the type that was in my test against the Beats.
Beats Pro: This extremely durable headphone is the top of the Beats line. It is closed, over ear, with aluminum construction.
Beats Pro ($399 list / $399 on amazon.com)
Yamaha PRO 500: This is the top consumer headphone of Yamaha's PRO series. It too is closed, over ear, and like Beats, is recognized for its strength of bass.
Yamaha PRO 500 ($399 list / $217 on amazon.com)
Beats Studio 2013: Unlike the other headphones, these headphone include active noise cancellation (always on). Like the others, they are closed over ear style.
The table below scores the performance of each of the three headphones on each of the 10 tests. The best-performing headphone received a score of 3 on a test; the worst performing was given a 1. Ties were given equal points, with the value set to maintain a sum of 6 points across the row of one test.
The Yamaha PRO 500 was the top-scoring headphone. While it was just a bit weaker in bass than the two Beats, it was very good at high-frequency performance as measured by transparency, drum "twang," bass pitch perception (which relies on preserving harmonics), and others. As a side test, I compared the Yamaha bass power to that of the HiFiMAN HE-500 (with amplification for both). The HiFiMAN HE-500 provided more palpable bass.
Summary Of Tests To Date:
Below is a table of the nine three-way comparisons performed to date and reported on head-fi.org in more detail on dedicated threads. Color coding again awards first, second, and third prize to the winner of each trio; certain headphones appear in multiple trios to help anchor their results for attempting to construct an overall rank order list of all of these headphones. This current comparison appears as the last comparison in the table.
Edited by ruthieandjohn - 6/14/14 at 7:14pm