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Why don't headphone amp companies incorporate hardware eq into their desktop designs?

Poll Results: what would you like to see on a dedicated headphone amp from your favorite company?

This is a multiple choice poll
  • 10% of voters (2)
    bass boost
  • 5% of voters (1)
    low band eq knob/settings
  • 10% of voters (2)
    mid band eq knob/settings
  • 5% of voters (1)
    high band eq knob/settings
  • 5% of voters (1)
    soundstage boost
  • 5% of voters (1)
    loudness switch
  • 0% of voters (0)
    most of the above
  • 15% of voters (3)
    all of the above
  • 63% of voters (12)
    none of the above
19 Total Votes  
post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

 

WHY DON'T AUDIOPHILE COMPANIES INCORPORATE HARDWARE EQ INTO THEIR DESKTOP DESIGNS?


Little rant:

 

Ever since I paired up a th600 with a vintage receiver listening has never been the same. Once I hit that loudness switch, certain songs gave me neck pains from copious amounts of head bobbing and rocking out! But when I wanted things to be super detailed and clean I had to switch gears. 

 

Vintage integrated amps and receivers can be a solution but there are obvious reasons they can be undesirable.

 

I know I am not the most knowledgeable person around the block about equipment so this is a genuine question that I have because  though I find that companies like Schiit, WooAudio, Nuforce, Cayin, Alo, Garage 1217 and many others are Freaking AMAZING, I would like to know why they don't incorporate ANY of the following into their desktop desings:

 

  • bass boost
  • treble band eq knobs/settings
  • mid band eq knobs/settings
  • low band eq knobs/settings
  • loudness switches
  • mono/stereo buttons

 

Does anyone know?


Edited by grizzlybeast - 10/18/14 at 9:39pm
post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 

The heavily praised Rx Mk3-B+ has a very coveted bass boost and is an audiophile piece of gear so why no desktops?

 

maybe someone who makes amps can answer IM DYING TO KNOW

post #3 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by grizzlybeast View Post
 

The heavily praised Rx Mk3-B+ has a very coveted bass boost and is an audiophile piece of gear so why no desktops?

 

maybe someone who makes amps can answer IM DYING TO KNOW

probably lack of demand for such features as most audiophiles in the market for a dedicated headphone amplifier also eschew digital EQ so hardware EQ seems unnecessary.

 

all hardware EQ can be duplicated with free digital EQ software, so I don't really see the need.

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Actually hardware eq is most a lot better sounding than software eq.

MUCH LESS distortion. Try to eq the bass up on a portable source and then flip thr bass boost on your portable amp and you can hear a difference.
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by grizzlybeast View Post

Actually hardware eq is most a lot better sounding than software eq.

MUCH LESS distortion. Try to eq the bass up on a portable source and then flip thr bass boost on your portable amp and you can hear a difference.

you should always EQ down when using software EQ. hence, for a bass boost, you EQ all the other frequencies down.

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by money4me247 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by grizzlybeast View Post

Actually hardware eq is most a lot better sounding than software eq.

MUCH LESS distortion. Try to eq the bass up on a portable source and then flip thr bass boost on your portable amp and you can hear a difference.

you should always EQ down when using software EQ. hence, for a bass boost, you EQ all the other frequencies down.

I know this. Still not as effective as hardware eq. The eq from my UAD is very good and I get little distortion but even so its not like a loudness switch.

 

Also Professional equipment hard ware eq is better as well. They are making new mixing boards, Studio monitors are coming out with eq knobs on the back even more than before. Its becoming a must. Everywhere but audiophile equipment. 


Edited by grizzlybeast - 10/18/14 at 3:40pm
post #7 of 16

Audiophiles are interested in high fidelity audio reproduction and are essentially pursuing a neutral, accurate sound.

 

The serious ones research beforehand in order to procure a system that is as close to neutral as possible, eliminating many variables in terms of the necessity of equalization. Ideally, properly designed audio equipment would not interfere with the signal; it would transmit it as is, with no alteration or distortion. This is easier said than done, of course. You must inevitably compensate for variations (resulting from faults in the equipment or intentional coloration, depending on your preferred perspective) deviating from the ideal of perfect sound, and this is where EQ comes in.

 

As you pointed out, software EQ can negatively interfere with the signal, reducing sound quality in the process...but so does hardware EQ, albeit apparently to a lesser extent.

 

While it's a better idea to use "neutral" gear along with software for any EQ you desire than it is to use "colored" gear that intrinsically colors the sound due to its design (which limits your control from the onset)...what you seem to be proposing is "neutral" gear that gives you the option of onboard EQ.

 

The main reason I can think of that advanced hardware EQ is not readily available in audiophile equipment is due to its complexity. It would likely be difficult and expensive to implement. Avid EQ users don't want a few basic bass/mid/treble controls, after all. Can integrated hardware EQ match the functionality of software outside of a studio setting? I have yet to see it...and judging from all the switches, knobs, and tricky circuitry that would be involved, I may not want to.

 

That being said, I would be interested in a desktop device dedicated to EQ (with corresponding graphic/parametric visual interface), as long as it is more effective than the alternatives. I believe that separating it from the rest of the chain would be a more elegant solution than worrying about how to integrate it into another component.

 

In a nutshell: Let the amps and DACs do their job. Add an EQ box to do it right. At least that's my idea.

post #8 of 16

I voted 'none'. Because:

 

- Purpose of ANY amp is to amplify (Go figure) - it's a wire with gain when it's good. Any amp changing the sound signature of a source is badly designed IMHO.

 

- You should question the need of a stand-alone headphone amp...do you REALLY spot a difference between the amp circuitry built in your source and a separate amp?

 

- IF you want to change sound signature and/or customize sound  for YOUR ears, in most cases you need a combination of parametric AND graphical eq's. There is already a studio device doing this (and much more...) perfectly: DEQ2496. If you implement it on a digital level in your chain (best directly between preamp (...-stages) and poweramp or - professionally spoken - as an insert in the master, there is ZERO quality loss. Per definition: Digital is digital...you can't 'catch' noise, hum or ground loops this way.

 

But you may even use it connected through it's analogue In and Out (these are XLR balanced) - the AD/DA section clearly isn't the best of the best, but in NO WAY bad after all. This device has an EXCELLENT value and is a steal - I have four of them doing their jobs in various configurations. Sure, it doesn't look fancy - it's a TOOL and it looks...like a studio tool :) Much more convenient, versatile and useful than any software EQ (which I have also in my DAWs, but only on channel level...)

 

From my POV an 'integrated' solution just doesn't make sense.   

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Music Alchemist View Post

Audiophiles are interested in high fidelity audio reproduction and are essentially pursuing a neutral, accurate sound.

The serious ones research beforehand in order to procure a system that is as close to neutral as possible, eliminating many variables in terms of the necessity of equalization. Ideally, properly designed audio equipment would not interfere with the signal; it would transmit it as is, with no alteration or distortion. This is easier said than done, of course. You must inevitably compensate for variations (resulting from faults in the equipment or intentional coloration, depending on your preferred perspective) deviating from the ideal of perfect sound, and this is where EQ comes in.

As you pointed out, software EQ can negatively interfere with the signal, reducing sound quality in the process...but so does hardware EQ, albeit apparently to a lesser extent.

While it's a better idea to use "neutral" gear along with software for any EQ you desire than it is to use "colored" gear that intrinsically colors the sound due to its design (which limits your control from the onset)...what you seem to be proposing is "neutral" gear that gives you the option of onboard EQ.

The main reason I can think of that advanced hardware EQ is not readily available in audiophile equipment is due to its complexity. It would likely be difficult and expensive to implement. Avid EQ users don't want a few basic bass/mid/treble controls, after all. Can integrated hardware EQ match the functionality of software outside of a studio setting? I have yet to see it...and judging from all the switches, knobs, and tricky circuitry that would be involved, I may not want to.

That being said, I would be interested in a desktop device dedicated to EQ (with corresponding graphic/parametric visual interface), as long as it is more effective than the alternatives. I believe that separating it from the rest of the chain would be a more elegant solution than worrying about how to integrate it into another component.

In a nutshell: Let the amps and DACs do their job. Add an EQ box to do it right. At least that's my idea.
The uber expensive vintage amplifiers were used by serious audiophiles and this knobs were at their disposal. Though research is necessary to build a nuetral sounding chain, Improperly mixed and mastered songs are still enjoyed by the most demanding audiophiles with wide ranges of music selection. What you said would be very handy.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WHertz View Post

I voted 'none'. Because:



 



- Purpose of ANY amp is to amplify (Go figure) - it's a wire with gain when it's good. Any amp changing the sound signature of a source is badly designed IMHO.



 



- You should question the need of a stand-alone headphone amp...do you REALLY spot a difference between the amp circuitry built in your source and a separate amp?



 



- IF you want to change sound signature and/or customize sound  for YOUR ears, in most cases you need a combination of parametric AND graphical eq's. There is already a studio device doing this (and much more...) perfectly: DEQ2496. If you implement it on a digital level in your chain (best directly between preamp (...-stages) and poweramp or - professionally spoken - as an insert in the master, there is ZERO quality loss. Per definition: Digital is digital...you can't 'catch' noise, hum or ground loops this way.



 



But you may even use it connected through it's analogue In and Out (these are XLR balanced) - the AD/DA section clearly isn't the best of the best, but in NO WAY bad after all. This device has an EXCELLENT value and is a steal - I have four of them doing their jobs in various configurations. Sure, it doesn't look fancy - it's a TOOL and it looks...like a studio tool smily_headphones1.gif Much more convenient, versatile and useful than any software EQ (which I have also in my DAWs, but only on channel level...)



 



From my POV an 'integrated' solution just doesn't make sense.   

 



I honestly feel like this is an excellent solution and makes a ton of sense. I wonder how many ppl use equalizers in their rigs here.
Edited by grizzlybeast - 10/18/14 at 6:46pm
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by WHertz View Post
 

I voted 'none'. Because:

 

- Purpose of ANY amp is to amplify (Go figure) - it's a wire with gain when it's good. Any amp changing the sound signature of a source is badly designed IMHO.

 

- You should question the need of a stand-alone headphone amp...do you REALLY spot a difference between the amp circuitry built in your source and a separate amp?

 

- IF you want to change sound signature and/or customize sound  for YOUR ears, in most cases you need a combination of parametric AND graphical eq's. There is already a studio device doing this (and much more...) perfectly: DEQ2496. If you implement it on a digital level in your chain (best directly between preamp (...-stages) and poweramp or - professionally spoken - as an insert in the master, there is ZERO quality loss. Per definition: Digital is digital...you can't 'catch' noise, hum or ground loops this way.

 

But you may even use it connected through it's analogue In and Out (these are XLR balanced) - the AD/DA section clearly isn't the best of the best, but in NO WAY bad after all. This device has an EXCELLENT value and is a steal - I have four of them doing their jobs in various configurations. Sure, it doesn't look fancy - it's a TOOL and it looks...like a studio tool :) Much more convenient, versatile and useful than any software EQ (which I have also in my DAWs, but only on channel level...)

 

From my POV an 'integrated' solution just doesn't make sense.   

 

I looked up the DEQ2496. Very fairly priced! ...Or so it would seem.

 

Is this the best choice you know of for using as an equalizer while listening? (Not just studio work.)

 

Also, since it has built-in DAC capability, have you done any listening comparisons with dedicated DACs?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by grizzlybeast View Post

The uber expensive vintage amplifiers were used by serious audiophiles and this knobs were at their disposal. Though research is necessary to build a nuetral sounding chain, Improperly mixed and mastered songs are still enjoyed by the most demanding audiophiles with wide ranges of music selection. What you said would be very handy.

This should be an option in the vote section. I honestly feel like this is an excellent solution and makes a ton of sense. I wonder how many ppl use equalizers in their rigs here.

 

EQ is one of the audiophile topics I've researched the least, but I'm interested in learning the best ways to go about it. I don't think it's been covered in any of the Head-Fi Buying Guides either.

post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Music Alchemist View Post
 

 

I looked up the DEQ2496. Very fairly priced! ...Or so it would seem.

 

Is this the best choice you know of for using as an equalizer while listening? (Not just studio work.)

 

Also, since it has built-in DAC capability, have you done any listening comparisons with dedicated DACs?

 

 

EQ is one of the audiophile topics I've researched the least, but I'm interested in learning the best ways to go about it. I don't think it's been covered in any of the Head-Fi Buying Guides either.


On the reproduction side auf audio: Yes. Because it does so much for such a low price.

 

 I can't hear ANY differences between the AD/DA section of DEQ 2496 and (eg...) the TC Electronic Finalizer or the RME ADI 8 DS MKIII...the whole DAC discussion seems pointless to me, because there aren't big differences. Even the cheap U-Control UCA 222 does it's job (ADDA conversion) on a VERY HIGH level. And it also has SPDIF out (Toslink), so you may implement it digitally.

 

EQing makes many 'audiophile' (what an empty word) discussions pointless...that's why it isn't pushed by ppl who want to sell you their high-priced stuff. With a DEQ 2496 you won't have any problem to change the sound siqnature of any headphone to your liking. If you know what you're doing, that is. My headphones basically all have the same signature, because they're eq'ed (via stored presets) to the sound of MY choice (which is geared towards the findings of Sean Olive plus - sometimes - an additional bass boost).

 

Needless to say that it's supereasy to calibrate any can to my ears (with a mechanically modified dead flat inear measuring mic) with a DEQ, it's AutoEQ function and additional manual corrections. It works reasonably well. Why should I mod anything mechanically when I can change sound much more elegantly and easier on a digital level? ;) 


Edited by WHertz - 10/19/14 at 2:23am
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by WHertz View Post
 

On the reproduction side auf audio: Yes. Because it does so much for such a low price.

 

 I can't hear ANY differences between the AD/DA section of DEQ 2496 and (eg...) the TC Electronic Finalizer or the RME ADI 8 DS MKIII...the whole DAC discussion seems pointless to me, because there aren't big differences. Even the cheap U-Control UCA 222 does it's job (ADDA conversion) on a VERY HIGH level. And it also has SPDIF out (Toslink), so you may implement it digitally.

 

EQing makes many 'audiophile' (what an empty word) discussions pointless...that's why it isn't pushed by ppl who want to sell you their high-priced stuff. With a DEQ 2496 you won't have any problem to change the sound siqnature of any headphone to your liking. If you know what you're doing, that is. My headphones basically all have the same signature, because they're eq'ed (via stored presets) to the sound of MY choice (which is geared towards the findings of Sean Olive plus - sometimes - an additional bass boost).

 

Needless to say that it's supereasy to calibrate any can to my ears (with a mechanically modified dead flat inear measuring mic) with a DEQ, it's AutoEQ function and additional manual corrections. It works reasonably well. Why should I mod anything mechanically when I can change sound much more elegantly and easier on a digital level? ;) 

 

I added it to my wish list! Thanks for the info.

 

But since headphones are designed differently, even if you can make the frequency response the same, other aspects (like soundstage and resolving capability) are still pretty different between them, right?

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Music Alchemist View Post
 

 

I added it to my wish list! Thanks for the info.

 

But since headphones are designed differently, even if you can make the frequency response the same, other aspects (like soundstage and resolving capability) are still pretty different between them, right?

 

Right...well...: Scientifically there is no such thing like 'soundstage' when listening through headphones. The 'stage' is exactly as wide as the distance between your eardrums - not a millimeter more ;) If you elevate the frequencies around 2k (that's a little bit simplified) you'll get a narrower 'stage'; if you are lowering them, the 'stage' seems wider.

 

The same with 'resolution' , but rather in the 5k - 7k range. 

 

The language of audiophiles sometimes really seems....strange...to someone having a technical/musical/scientific approach to audio reproduction. :)

 

Much more important is the THD - that's the principal reason I like the LCD-2 very much....the THD with these is incredibly low - which means you can 'clone' almost ANY sound signature with them. :)

 

On thing you can't clone for sure is the dynamic capability of a sound converter. Here also the LCD's are - due to the technical principles involved - extremely good.


Edited by WHertz - 10/19/14 at 8:30am
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by WHertz View Post

 

Right. But scientifically there is no such thing as 'soundstage' when listening through headphones. The 'stage' is exactly as wide as the distance between your eardrums - not a millimeter more wink.gif

 



I'd call that soundstage "to scale," and practically every playback system is "to scale." If you were listening on speakers, are your speakers the same size as the stage the performers are supposed to be on? I don't think many people have that luxury, so even speaker systems' soundstage is also "to scale." Crossfeed, placement of the headphone drivers relative to the ear canals (ie forward of them and maybe angled, vs right over them), flat response - all these can help in bringing about a soundstage 'to scale' although at a size of one's head, not even between one's eardrums because if that were the case then all the sound will be imaged in a tiny circle inside the head.

It can be a bit farther out than one's head actually, given some headphones place the first line of the Z-axis on the soundstage in or in front of the head, but the drums are still noticeably behind that line.
Edited by ProtegeManiac - 10/19/14 at 8:18am
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WHertz View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Music Alchemist View Post
 

 

I added it to my wish list! Thanks for the info.

 

But since headphones are designed differently, even if you can make the frequency response the same, other aspects (like soundstage and resolving capability) are still pretty different between them, right?

 

Right...well...: Scientifically there is no such thing like 'soundstage' when listening through headphones. The 'stage' is exactly as wide as the distance between your eardrums - not a millimeter more ;) If you elevate the frequencies around 2k (that's a little bit simplified) you'll get a narrower 'stage'; if you are lowering them, the 'stage' seems wider.

 

The same with 'resolution' , but rather in the 5k - 7k range. 

 

The language of audiophiles sometimes really seems....strange...to someone having a technical/musical/scientific approach to audio reproduction. :)

 

Much more important is the THD - that's the principal reason I like the LCD-2 very much....the THD with these is incredibly low - which means you can 'clone' almost ANY sound signature with them. :)

 

On thing you can't clone for sure is the dynamic capability of a sound converter. Here also the LCD's are - due to the technical principles involved - extremely good.

I totally don't get when people say the soundstage is all frequency balance. That is a load of horse crap. Of the 45 headphones I have had that is not the case at all. The dx700 is a dark cavernous sounding headphone with a very deep and spacious soundstage that the brightest closed backs cannot touch. Sorry but that is not true at all. So that would mean that the hd800 is the king of 2khz. 

the th600 has a great ____ (insert what ever you want to call soundstage) for a closed back and all of these have similar 2khz levels and have vastly different"____"(headstages).

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