Angled Drivers in Closed vs Open headphones and effects on Soundstage?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by WyldeGooseChase, Oct 25, 2017.
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  1. WyldeGooseChase
    I've tried a multitude of headphones since getting into the hobby at the beginning of this year.

    I love soundstage in headphones, though not at the cost of imaging, and was wondering about the science behind angled drivers in relation to the ear cup housing.

    Context: after trying the HD569, M50x, MSR7, and M40x, which are all angled drivers, to me they seem to have much less soundstage width than the DT770s, AKG K550, and B&O H6 that I tried, which don't have angled drivers. The MSR7 in particular I think has just as precise left to right imaging as the DT770, but it feels congested like the individual instruments are in a tiny room.

    With open headphones however, my experience is a bit different. The non-angled HE400s and AKG K240 that I tried definitely aren't as wide as something like an HD598 / 558, the latter example being angled. I did a comparison of the AKG K240 in particular (since they're my pair, the he400s my friend's) by putting Angled HM5 Velour pads on them and heard a noticeable change in width (as well as imaging) for the better just by angling the driver with angled pads.

    However, I haven't tried the DT880 or 990, nor the HD600. I know the former don't have angled drivers but are known to be extremely wide, and the HD600 is supposed to be less wide, though I'm not certain of the driver positioning.

    Is there a definitive way of creating soundstage with driver housing / positioning, or are my examples more a result of frequency response?
  2. RRod
    If you take a headphone that has bad soundstage and EQ it to match a headphone that has good soundstage, you'll be amazed how things open up. Frequency response is a major component of where our ears think sound is coming from.
  3. bigshot
    ^ this

    because "masking"
  4. ev13wt
    There is no soundstage headphones.

    swspiers likes this.
  5. bigshot
    ^ this too!
  6. WyldeGooseChase
    Ah, sounds like it's generally agreed upon to be more down to frequency response or possibly the recording rather than outright position.

    Tilting the drivers would affect the FR I'd imagine. Just wondering why companies do it when Beyers and AKG don't need it to create a good impression of width and imaging.

    Is Front and Back depth also just an illusion of the frequency?
  7. RRod
    Tilting affects how the sound field interacts with your ears, which causes shifts in amplitude/timing of each frequency component. I imagine certain manufacturers find tilting starts the cans off with a response closer to what they want in the end. Different shifts can be perceive by different people as various qualities of the sound, including soundstage and depth.
    ev13wt likes this.
  8. ev13wt

    Tilting the drivers will and does simulate, also using visual stimulation, distance and well, angle.

    This helps in suspending disbelief.
  9. bigshot
    But headphones don't have soundstage because the sound goes right through the center of the head in a straight line. And depth cues are dependent on mic placement and are baked into the mix. Perhaps what people perceive is more accurately described as frequency response variations.
  10. RRod
    Sure. Without some extra signal processing the headphones can really only be matching up to the speakers in regards to the ipsilateral impulse response, mainly the frequency response. But this is enough to explain perceptions like the HD800 having a big 'soundstage' (headstage, if you will).
    ev13wt likes this.
  11. 71 dB
    I wonder why people insist this. Is it because people listen to some dinosaur rock so much? Those 70's productions are abyssmally bad in respect of spatial cues. They contain strong spatial "anti-cues" that really mess with the listeners head. I don't listen to King Crimson for soudstages, I listen to them because it's brilliant rock music, made tolerable to listen to sound-wise by hard cross-feeding. Without cross-feed this stuff is a nightmare of spatial distortion.

    Headphones don't have soundstage? Sure, on some recordings with poor spatial information this is true, but great recordings with proper cross-feed do imo render a soundstage which for the most part is outside my head. Try some multichannel organ music recorded in a church during the last 15 years and tell me there is no soundstage or the sound is completely inside your head.
    TYATYA and I g o r like this.
  12. ev13wt

    No, because it is physically impossible for headphones to have a sound stage, which is a term from speaker land meaning things IN FRONT of you, left right up down - the end. Nothing fancy about it.

    Extended left and right has nothing to do with a "stage", or the odd spatial cue is because of the mix, or even mixing errors at time.

    Headstage, ok.
  13. bigshot
    It's because the whole idea of soundstage is that the source of the music is located in front of you at a distance like you're sitting in an audience with the musicians on the stage. The only way you can create that (short of a Smyth Realizer) is by physically putting your speakers a distance away from you. You can't do that with headphones. They're strapped to your head. Imagine what kind of sound you'd get from speakers if you put them on your extreme right and left pointed at you sitting in the middle. It wouldn't have any depth at all. I had friends in college who set up bedroom systems like that. They sounded terrible.
  14. 71 dB
    You can see how a loudpeaker is in front of you. It's called depth vision. There is a difference of the images seen by your left and right eyes and your brain knows how to create a 3D vision based on the differences. You can hear where a loudspeaker is, because the sound arriving to your ear contain spatial cues. Again your brain knows what to do. Ears can be fooled by playing sounds from two or more loudpeakers in which case the sound appears to come from somewhere where there no sound sources. Stereo image and surround sound are based on this. Hearing can be fooled with headphones too and that's how you get a sound stage with headphones. Some dinosaur rock doesn't fool anyone, but carefully done recording in real acoustic environments do. Brain doesn't care if the sound comes from a loudspeaker or a headphone. All that matters are spatial cues. Loudspeakers are good at this, because the spatial cues added to the sound are real, but that doesn't mean it's impossible with headphones, only difficult.
    Whitigir likes this.
  15. 71 dB
    Smyth Realizer can do it and there is a reason why (HRTF). In the end it doesn't matter where the sound originated. What matters is what comes to your ears. Ad spatial cues and ears are fooled. That's why stereo sound works with loudpeakers and you can render sounds between louspeakers for example. How can we hear sound from where there no sound source? Because our ears are fooled to think so.

    Your friends didn't know what they where doing so of course the result was bad. They "forgot" spatial cues of depth.
    Whitigir likes this.
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