ATH WS99BT Discussion & Impressions
Mar 12, 2016 at 5:58 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 40

Sonic Defender

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Moving away from posting in the XTZ Divine thread I've decided to start this dedicated thread for the few members who will be interested.
 
@Giogio to answer your question about what adjustments I've made via the parametric EQ in Neutron that I feel improves the WS99BT (personal taste) it turns out I prefer to adjust the upper bass a little currently around 214hz -2.49db with a Q of 1.19. next I have a mid midrange cut at 324hz at -3.07db with a BW of 0.31. Next up is 634hz cut -2.95db at a BW of 1.37 and then finally a cut at 1.6Khz of -1.36db at a Q of 1.
 
These aren't final settings, but currently adequate to improve the sound. I think the midrange was the main culprit for what I was perceiving as bass boom.  The above adjustments help to my ears. I intend to play around more.
 
Can you suggest what bass boost has worked for you? My problem is that Neutron doesn't appear to let you save custom EQ settings so I only have the one 4 band parametric to work with. I don't like any of the presets. I'm thinking of rooting my G3 to enable me to use Viper4Android, but I don't really want to root if I can avoid it.
 
So far very much enjoying the WS99BT and I agree with your assessment of it. I'm going to try and post impressions in this thread as soon as I can, but I'm really pushed with several school related projects that are more pressing. I will also be receiving the B&O H7 on Monday so that will be exciting. Loving the G3, it seems to have better Bluetooth than the Leap.
 
Mar 13, 2016 at 6:41 AM Post #2 of 40

Giogio

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Thanks for creating the thread, I kept forgetting to do it myself. I feel a bit ashamed now, being the one who brought the WS99BT to the attention of Head-Fi and probably of the international western audience.
A lesson about procrastination!
Anyway you may want to correct the title to ATH-WS99BT :)
 
So finally you also focused on decreasing upper bass and low mid!
I was starting to ask myself if there was something wrong with my ears when you said the mid bass was too much.
 
Did you already order the angled leatherette Brainwavz HM5 earpads?
As said (also for whoever else will read this thread), imo there is no WS99BT without HM5.
You told me you wanted to understand better their sound with the stock pads first.
But you may end burning them in and then putting the HM5 and not understanding anymore if the change comes from the HM5 or from the burn-in.
You may want to order the HM5, make a brief test now, then go back to stock, burn-in, and change again to HM5.
 
Talking of Neutron you should not rely on the graphical interface of the EQ too much. It is not very precise and it show a curve which does not really correspond to the reality. At least for what I saw by comparing with the same settings on several other parametric EQ on Foobar.
I have talked with Dmitry (the programmer) about this. He's working on that. It's no secret that graphical stuff are not his thing. Neutron is the best sounding but not the best looking player.
You do not need to save anything. It remembers the changes.
You can duplicate any preset (forget about the named presets, Rock Pop etc, they are made for those who cannot use an EQ). For example you take the ones called "x band", long click on it till a menu opens where you can rename, duplicate etc.
You duplicate it, name it what you want, you can change the target Freq for each band, the Q value, you can also go in the options on each band and change from Q to BW.
When tweaks are done, they stay saved.
If you accidentally tweaked a basic preset (like 4 Bands) before duplicating it, you have a button to reset it to default values.
There is more, but it is not the place.
 
I have no definitive setting, because I like to experiment.
Lately I also became either lazier or wiser, and I tend to simplify a lot, playing with Q/BW to touch with one band all the frequencies which I want to touch.
After all I feel that the WS99BT for my tastes do not really need much tweaking.
At the beginning I used to decrease more or less what you said now (I stopped at 600 anyway, max 900, because I liked and Like the warmth and presence they have above 1000).
Plus I increased the sub-bass, let's say 3db from 30 to 90hz.
After a time, probably due to burn-in, I did not feel the need to decrease anything anymore, so I just increased the sub-bass.
At first I used to peak boost the 60hz of something like 3db, with Q 0.9. Now I am experimenting with the 45 instead of 60, as I feel it maybe give a cleaner bass sometimes.
I am also experimenting with a low shelf on the 90hz, always 3db, Q 0.9. It's nice.
With EDM/Techno I push to 6db, and then I do decrease the 300hz of -1.5, with Q 1.5.
 
Till I have tried the XTZ Headphone Divine this is all what I was doing to the WS99BT.
After trying the XTZ with the Dirac DAP, which supposedly should give them a perfectly flat Frequency Response, I have realized that something was missing in the highs on the WS99BT (and on many many many if not all BT headphones).
So now I tend to have a high shelf on the 12000hz with Q 0.60, +6db. And I decrease the 6000hz of -1.5db, Q 1.8 or 2.4, to avoid sibilance (the WS99BT are not 100% sibilance free at high volume on some specific tracks, like Summertime of Morcheeba when she says "so huSH, little baby", or near the 2:10 of "Boa Sorte" by Vanessa de Mata and Ben Harper. And while without push on the highs this sibilance is almost not perceptible, with push it may come out more).
 
Mar 13, 2016 at 10:34 AM Post #3 of 40

Sonic Defender

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@Giogio thanks, I know my EQ settings remain, and thanks for the tip. What I had wanted was to ideally have an EQ I could save with more bands. I don't rely persay on the graphical look of the curves, but I do rely on the EQ being accurate in the settings where I adjust gain, Q and frequency, and I'm sure it is.
 
I take it you have the iOS XTZ app? I wonder how different the Android pseudo version of Dirac is? I like it and it seems to improve the Divine quite a bit. As I said, sadly my desktop computer doesn't have a Bluetooth transmitter so despite having the Dirac software installed I can't use it with the Divine. I suspect I'll get a BT transmitter soon, but I didn't see too many USB versions so I'll have to look harder.
 
I will try those additional adjustments you suggested and see what I think, thanks for the suggestions. On Monday my B&O H7 arrives! And yes, if I keep the WS99BT I will for sure order the H5 pads. I just need to decide if the B&O or the WS99 are being kept. I'm not sure that I want several headphones as I will be keeping the Divine for sure, but you never know, I might keep all three.
 
Mar 13, 2016 at 10:51 AM Post #4 of 40

Giogio

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Ahaha, now you ask about the XTZ here? :)
I think I gave you some suggestions for USB BT adapter, or was it somebody else?
Azio BTD-V401 and Creative BT-W2.
Now Avantree is soon coming with a new Dongle which I have ideated, which will be Class 1 and Aptx Low Latency. It will, like the Creative (and the Senny BTD500) be independent from the system, unlike the Azio which needs the CSR Harmony stack to be installed.
I may have told you of the Avantree Priva 2, which is indeed 3.5 and not USB, but allows you to connect 2 Aptx (not low latency) headphones at same time. This would make your comparisons much faster. I use that.
 
I am afraid I did not understand what you want to do with the EQ, can you explain?
 
Mar 13, 2016 at 11:29 AM Post #5 of 40

Sonic Defender

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@Giogio All I want is few more bands to adjust a wider range of frequencies. I like the four frequency attenuations I currently use, but ideally I would like say 6 individual filters. It isn't a big deal as I think 4 filters may work so I'll see if I can tinker with the WS99 sound a tiny bit more. I find the stock pads are fine in terms of sound impact so if you are that convinced the H5 makes that much of a difference it is a no-brainer for me to get a set. As I said, within a week I will know what I'm doing so at that point I'll decide. How easy are the H5 to get on and the existing pads to take off? And thanks, I think I'll grab one of the adapters you are suggesting. When it comes to the Low Latency, I wonder if both the transmitter and receiver need to implement it, or is is just the transmitter? Thinking about it it seems logical only the transmitter side matters, but being new to Bluetooth I have some additional learning to do for sure.
 
Mar 13, 2016 at 1:10 PM Post #6 of 40

Giogio

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Neutron used to offer a 5 band EQ, now it offers till 10 bands.
In the screen where EQ and Vol are, you find an horizontal slider under the EQ faders. It is tricky to use but with that you can slide to the other bands. Alternatively you just go to the settings, then click on Equalizer and you have all bands there. In case you see only 4 bands it is because the active preset is the 4 bands one as default. In this case go back to settings and select Equalizer Presets, select the long click on the one you want (6, 7, 8, 9, 10 bands) duplicate it, rename it, tweak it, done.
 
I will never praise the improvements on sound and comfort which the HM5 bring.
Buy them :) The angled leatherette, as said.
Of course, you may decide to buy also the angled velour, the flat leatherette, the flat velour, and the flat hybrid 3 materials, try them all, choose one, send back the others.
This is what I did and I preferred initially the flat leatherette due to the improved bass and kept warmth (the velour were making all a bit to bright for me).
When hybrid and angled leatherette came out I have tried them and started using the angled leatherette instead of the flat leatherette, as the flat add a bit of boominess and a very slight muddiness (compensable with EQ and with "my brain got used" effect, but still not ideal). The angled do nothing wrong to the sound as far as I could tell, respect it as it is, improving bass and soundstage (and comfort of course).
The hybrid are quite like the velour, just better looking.
I did not try the angled velour, they came out later and I have no optimism they will be different than the flat velour.
It is extremely easy to take off the original pads, and very easy to put the HM5. No worries. I did it sooooooooooo many times! Some times even very fast to compare them.
 
Class 1 and Low Latency need that both devices support those protocols.
For Low Latency is pretty obvious actually, as it is a different kind of Aptx, so it is normal that both devices must support it.
It costed me more to understand why was not enough that one of the two devices was Class 1, as I thought that Class 1 just mean a bigger antenna to have more range.
I still did not understand the technical reasons but I have accepted the reality: both devices must have the same class, otherwise the lower class will be used.
 
So, the WS99BT are Class 2 and normal Aptx.
But why would you buy an outdated adapter if there is a new one? Unless the new one is much more expensive (talking of Avantree I doubt it, they tend to be very fair with prices, even too fair), you have no reason to buy the old one. For headphone lovers like us, the "risk" to get a Class 1 and/or LL Aptx headphone soon in the future is high.
At least you will then already have the right adapter :wink:
 
Mar 13, 2016 at 2:04 PM Post #7 of 40

Sonic Defender

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So, the WS99BT are Class 2 and normal Aptx.
But why would you buy an outdated adapter if there is a new one? Unless the new one is much more expensive (talking of Avantree I doubt it, they tend to be very fair with prices, even too fair), you have no reason to buy the old one. For headphone lovers like us, the "risk" to get a Class 1 and/or LL Aptx headphone soon in the future is high.
At least you will then already have the right adapter :wink:

So, will the Class 1 adapters be backwards compatible with Class 2 devices? I assume so, but I would like your input. I have already been playing with the 6 Band Parametric EQ preset and now know how to edit and rename it. What I find harder to understand is how Neutron works with Q values. There are some EQs that only allow Q values from 0 to 1 so I'm not sure what if any difference the larger values provided in Neutron matter. Does he just provide finer gradations hence a wider range? So is 2.5 for instance small or big? I once found a guide that I've been trying to find again that provided advice about the Q that expressed a rule of thumb that if you have a frequency of say 250hz the Q value ideally would be a percentage of that, around 10%. Do you have any information on this? All I do now is of course trial and error until I get the sound the way I feel is improved. All I find when I research guides for parametric eq is aimed at recording engineers for mixing and mastering, which I find not that applicable. Cheers.
 
Mar 13, 2016 at 3:31 PM Post #8 of 40

Giogio

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I ignore what you say about Q being supposedly related to the frequency.
I cannot imagine why.
In the opening post of my Huge Comparison thread you find three links to threads in this Forum about how to EQ.
I had also previously linked some very nice guides found in internet, but I must have accidentally deleted in one of the edits.
 
You definitely can use a higher Q than 1. Please beware, Q and BW work in the exact opposite way, and Neutron has Q as default on the first band (maybe on the last too) but BW on the others. You can change BW to Q in the settings as said.
Basically and roughly, a lower Q (<1) has a wider curve and affects more frequencies.
This is why I use a lower Q on the boosts and a higher Q on the cuts.
 
I ignore which player you use or if you have Mac or PC.
I have PC and use Foobar. I can send you a PM with some suggested graphical parametric EQ where you can see very easily which frequencies are affected by your tweaks.
I always prepare my tweaks there before setting them on Neutron, due to the not yet reliable interface of its EQ (the EQ itself is, as you said, very reliable. He just is not a graphical guy).
 
About my settings, consider that they are referred to a burned in unit with the angled leatherette HM5.
On a new unit with stock pads you may want to increase highs of just 3db, yet decreasing the 6000 if the presence of the vocal region is too strong for you (the HM5 smooths it nicely, and you probably need to cut the 300 to 900 also without any boost in the bass (but I would give a 1.5 or 3db boost, probably low shelf).
 
I forgot: no, I do not have the iOS XTZ app. You will need to ask Brooko for that (on the other thread :wink: )
Cheers
 
Mar 13, 2016 at 3:43 PM Post #9 of 40

Sonic Defender

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  I ignore what you say about Q being supposedly related to the frequency.
I cannot imagine why.
 

I think the author of the resource was simply making a recommendation to keep a proportionate relationship between the width and the frequency. Sadly I don't really remember where this was so I could also be remembering incorrectly. Regardless, I have found several pro-audio engineering guides that say boost wide, cut narrow, which to me seems counter intuitive; however, this is in the context of mixing/mastering so I'm unsure of how this may change when simply looking at audio playback. As I said, I simple tune by ear and I try to make the smallest possible adjustment I feel works. Sometimes if I'm trying to find the frequency I am hearing as an issue I will use the frequency I think is the most likely culprit and either really boost it or cut it and see how it affects the sound.
 
Anyway, it has been years since I really bothered EQ use so I'm looking forward to getting my skills back up to scratch.
 
Mar 13, 2016 at 5:16 PM Post #10 of 40

Giogio

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You have to consider that when talking of EQ most engineers talk of EQing a song/mix.
EQing a headphone to compensate its signature is quite a different story.
Besides, in EQing a song you try to make it good for most people, in EQing a headphone you do it for YOUR ears and many things do not care anymore so much.
 
I am no engineer and if someone knows more is welcome to correct or complement my statements, but in my understanding you do not want to boost narrow or it will be too sharp and metallic.
A wider boost is more natural because instruments do not play in just one frequency.
You want to cut narrow because generally in a mix you cut a noise or some side sound which you do not want, and you want to keep the other sounds, so you limit the frequencies of the cut.
In EQing a Headphone I believe you may cut wider, but it is rarely necessary. If it is, you may want to consider changing headphone :)
 
For headphones the best is of course knowing the exact Response Curve and inverting it in your EQ settings to make it flat, like (one of the things which) Dirac does.
When doing it intuitively just using your ears and a reference song, all depends on how good your ears are, how well you know that song, and on which equipment you used to listen to it.
 
It is also probably different if you boost the bass or the mids or the highs.
Look at this screenshot of the EQ "TDR Nova":

 
What you see is the 60 and the 6000hz boosted of 3db with a Q of 0.6.
The width of the curve on the graphic is the same. But in that width happens many more things on the highs than on the bass. That range on the bass crosses the 0 on the 10 and the 300. On the highs it crosses the 0 on the 1000 and the 30000. It is a bit too much.
Thinking it well, this may be the reason why that guy was saying to use a Q which is a % of the frequency.
Frequencies are waves and waves are tighter the more you go up.
Now, if you boost the highs like I do, with a high shelf on 12000 with Q = 0.6, it will no more be too much, because many affected frequencies are actually not audible. You will have a naturally increasing curve which will boost less the most audible frequencies and more the less audible ones. The result is the one which I find nearer to the Dirac experience (airy crispy not harsh highs).
Same story for the bass, my low shelf on the 90 with Q= 0.6 start gently on the mid bass and reach the apex on the desired frequencies, and there you really do not need to be surgical, it really makes no difference (not negatively at least, and not imo anyway) if you have the 30 at 1.5 and the 45 to 60 at 3 and the 90 at 1.5, or if you have from 90 to 0 at 3...
Here the screenshot of the two shelves:

 
And here how it looks with the cut on the 6000 (Q= 2.4, and as you see it is perfectly ok, the 0 is crossed on 4500 and 7000):

 
And here the settings for EDM/Techno, where I boost the bass more and I dampen the ringing on the low mids:

 
Once again, as said, these settings are for my ears, on a burned in WS99BT with angled leatherette HM5.
 
Mar 13, 2016 at 6:03 PM Post #11 of 40

Giogio

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@Joe Bloggs, you are more than welcome to share your opinions about EQ.
I know you have a more "aggressive" and precise style of EQing, very different from the simplistic approach I am using.
 
Mar 13, 2016 at 6:46 PM Post #12 of 40

Sonic Defender

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Awesome information. I will study on it a little and get back to you with some questions. Shame that for now I can only use Neutron and not my PC which I of course would need to use software such as this. Thanks for the extensive information, I'm sure others will benefit from it as well. I wonder what aspects of the design of the WS99 makes it so EQ friendly in terms of accepting a bass boost. I have always opted to cut rather than boost as the few times in the past when I tried boosting I found it far too easy to introduce distortion or bleed into adjacent frequencies. I would assume that much of that was my lack of skill, but I'm sure there are actual physical limits imposed by the target device, dampening specifically I would think comes into play.
 
Mar 13, 2016 at 8:48 PM Post #13 of 40

Giogio

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They have 50mm drivers with a double chamber system and a semi closed design to optimize bass response and quality.
They are supposedly specifically made to have a good bass response.
That's why I was so amazed when I have found that they were excellent in the whole range.
 
Generally speaking it is like you say, subtractive EQ is better than boosting.
I do not ear any distortion at all on them but if you are experienced with good wired headphones and are generally able to ear distortion I would be glad if you could test the WS99BT with my settings and tell me if you feel anything strange. Then you could test them with the same EQ curve but made with subtractive EQ and tell me if you feel an improvement.
 
Anyway in Neutron there is the AGP (automatic gain protection) which reduces the overall gain if distortion/clipping is detected.
And beware that if you do not use the AGP you should not confuse the distortion coming from boost vs subtractive EQ with the distortion coming from just clipping due to too much overall load. Remember, it is digital audio, it distorts. It is not a wired with analog amp.
Even with subtractive EQ you could still have distortion if you for example increase the overall gain.
 
On Foobar I generally use a couple of tracks which I know are the more prone to make a boosted bass distort, and I reduce the gain on the EQ (subtractive EQ or boosting + reducing the overall gain is, as far as I know, the same).
And for an extra security I place a limiter at the end of the chain. But it is just security, as I check each ring of the chain with a Peak Meter and I make sure that there is no peak after any ring.
With MP3 there may be oversampling and more clipping but for what I have read (I am new in this subject) with Flac this does not happen, so it is all even more simple.
With Mp3 you should leave more headroom.
 
Mar 18, 2016 at 5:31 PM Post #14 of 40

strokerace

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Is there a difference in sound quality between the WS99BT (wired) and the older WS99? Bluetooth connectivity is nice but I might go for the cheaper WS99 if the newer WS99BT sounds worse. I've searched a little bit for this comparison but nothing came up.
 

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