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An Interview with Paul Barton of PSB and NAD - Head-Fi TV

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by jude, Feb 10, 2015.
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  1. NOTE:  If you can't see the embedded video above, please CLICK HERE to see the video.
    Head-Fi'er's, you're in for a treat! In this episode of Head-Fi TV, we sit down with the legendary Paul Barton of PSB Speakers and NAD Electronics to talk about Paul's history, headphone measurements and R&D...
    ...and an upcoming PSB flagship headphone!

    Products mentioned in the video:

    1. PSB Speakers M4U 1 over-ear headphone
    2. PSB Speakers M4U 2 over-ear headphone
    3. NAD Electronics VISO HP50 over-ear headphone
    4. NAD Electronics VISO HP20 in-ear monitor
    5. G.R.A.S. 43AG Ear & Cheek Simulator Kit
    6. PSB Speakers Imagine T3 tower speakers


    An Interview with Paul Barton - Head-Fi TV produced by Joseph Cwik and Jude Mansilla


    We will occasionally post Q&A episodes of Head-Fi TV.  If you want to submit any questions (or comments), you can do so via email to tv@head-fi.org.

    lempriere, ellevoid, punit and 4 others like this.
  2. xEcuToR
    Great. Very interesting stuff indeed. Glad that this topic was covered in detail. Keep them coming Jude. If you had a monthly series like this with manufacturers and researchers talking about their product and science behind how they develop and come up with stuff, it will be a sure hit amongst not only head-fiers but also casual listeners. Like many mobile devices technology channels out there in YouTube, there should be channels dedicated to this technology with more frequent professionally made videos like this. 
  3. TheDreamthinker
    Recently auditioned the PSB M4U 2 and I must say that it was unexpectedly good. 
    Neutral sound signature with a hint of warmth as to not sound clinical - agreeable for long sessions of listening. Fairly good soundstage, no noticeable peaks and good detail. Noticeable clean decay.
    Not overly exciting or special (in the sense of revolutionary), but very competent in almost every way. Especially at the price point.
    Very effective NC and amp (ie quiet). A bit too heavy and chunky for everyday portable use, but foldable and portable enough for long haul flights. Also too heavy to walk around with or when head is not supported (chair) for long periods of time.
    I feel that it will become quite popular especially with us frequent flyers and travelers looking for a more neutralish sound from a portable headphone (with NC) instead of the more common V-shape / bass emphasised signature.
  4. vkvedam
    Nice interview, always good to see people like Paul Barton talking sense. Thanks for your effort Jude!
  5. intlsubband
    This is great! I love his approach. The M4U2 is my end-of-the-line portable for some years now. At one point I also got the NAD but I like the M4U2 better and ended up keeping it.
  6. Demo3
    Enjoyed it very much... thanks
  7. Jeff Y
    Oh, I love my NAD Viso HP50s! great to see Paul Barton connect with the Head-Fi community! I would love to listen to the T3 tower speakers and the upcoming headphones.
  8. Jess70
    I love my PSB M4U-2 headphones. I have been considering upgrading to planars, however, I think I will wait to see what PSB comes up with.
  9. TheDreamthinker
    I really like this discussion with Mr Barton.
    He seems to be a person of hard fact science rather than mere whim. Trying to find the perfect sound through objective measurement and psychological analysis (an aspect which i personally find too overlooked by the community). He uses understandable arguments to consolidate his point. 
    My initial impressions of his M4U 2 let me confirm his findings.
    I am very much looking forward to more (rational) discussions of this kind on Head-Fi TV and other media outlets about Hi-Fi gear.
    could anyone link the papers he referred to? Surely an interesting read.
  10. JMS
    It's good that PSB designs their products using scientific principles. I have heard many of PSB's headphones and speakers and their great neutral sound reflects that.
    However, I must call out the fact that, in yet another interview, Mr. Barton speaks at length about all the published research that he has made use of, but carefully avoids giving even the slightest hint as to any of their own research directions and results.
    Sure, PSB is a profit seeking company and has no obligations to give back. However, there are companies that do, to varying degrees (e.g., Harman, KEF). For this reason, I will avoid patronizing PSB's products when alternatives are available from companies that not only make use of the same scientific knowledge, but add to the pool.
  11. Jeb Listens
    This was a really enjoyable video, great work Jude. 
    I'm just getting into Audio and I was wondering if you or any other head-fifers would be able to help with some follow-up questions I have about the video.   I'm not sure I fully understand what Paul Barton was saying about there being a scientifically measurable and singular type of sound that we all want from Speakers / headphones. 
    I'm not sure if I have misunderstood, but doesn't the wide variety of sound signatures and people's different preferences tend to show that there isn't one type of sound that we are *all* looking for that will satisfy everyone or even 50% of listeners?
    Thanks for your help!
  12. MayorDomino

    I dont understand this either, who were the people asked.
  13. TheDreamthinker
    From my understanding.
    Do you like only treble focus? I suppose you don't.
    Do you like pure bass response without anything else? I suppose you don't
    The scientists at the NRC have tried (and succeeded) in finding an average measurement curve (sound signature if you will, between the extremes), which can generally be appreciated by everyone. This is done by matching objective sound measurements with subjective perceptions of a large test group. By doing so they noticed that there exists a curve which all people lean toward when given the choice of a number of different sound signatures. Repeating this process with many subjects results in a good approximation of the 'perfect' sound signature.
    Having heard the M4U 2, I can attest that they are headphones where I personally could not find any immediate fault. Every frequency was pretty much where it was supposed to be, the soundstage was fairly expansive, the placement was fine.
    Unexciting, yes - but very competent and enjoyable. As I described above - neutral-warmish sound, a sound how it is 'supposed to be' for casual listening.
    It may not be THE go to headphone which will change your life, but this sound signature will probably appeal to you independent of your usually preferred sound.
    I personally cannot assess the diligence with which this research has been conducted, as I do not have the papers in front me.
    Of course there are many factors which need to be taken into consideration - age, experience (background), control groups, testing procedures, neutrality (removing bias through external influence)...etc...
    Again if this really was the National Research Council of the Canadian Government, i suppose that the procedures were conducted in accordance with scientifically legitimate international standards.
    LajostheHun likes this.
  14. Jeb Listens

    Thanks Dreamthinker, that does make sense now.   It's a very interesting subject.   As MayorDomino says above, who were the people that were asked -  a random cross-section or people who are after a high-fidelity, therefore a "neutral" sound?
    I suppose that many "mainstream" headphone manufacturers - if they are trying to capture the biggest share of the market possible - are doing their best to approximate a sound that will appeal to the widest number,  or the widest number within a certain musical preference demographic.  I presume each manufacturer has a different idea of what that would actually be since they all have different sound signatures and it has been the trend for a while for many headphones to emphasise bass response rather than be neutral.   
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