Bad recordings out of expensive headphones
May 13, 2002 at 12:02 AM Post #2 of 17

DeanA

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Quote:

Originally posted by Matthew-Spaltro
I just want to make sure that I have got the concept. Expensive high end headphones should make bad recordings sound even worse? Am I correct?


For me, good headphones plus a good amp make bad recordings sound worse. I've had to replace a lot of my favorite, but older, CDs with a newer, remastered version just because of this concept. However, I find most of the time the recording production is much improved, therefore worth the investment.
 
May 13, 2002 at 12:20 AM Post #3 of 17

jpelg

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A quality headphone designed to portray the sound fed to it in as wide a portion of the frequency range as the human ear is capable of hearing (and those beyond which can be felt but not heard), with a flat (ie. neutral) portrayal of each frequency, will display more of what was actually recorded - good or bad. This is true for all of the links of the audio chain that lead up to the output devices as well.

I have found that the production qualities, and quality of recordings, within and across genres will vary greatly.
 
May 13, 2002 at 4:32 AM Post #4 of 17

JohnActon

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I think it also depends, to some extent, on the headphone, itself. My Sennheiser HD 600's and Stax SR-404's are both high-end, high resolution phones, and consequently, highlight every inadequacy of inferior recordings.

My Stax Omega II's, however, despite being very high resolution as well, seem to be very forgiving of poor recordings, and even let me listen to MP3's, wheres the other phones don't (or not pleasurably, at least). This forgiveness does not come at the expense of neutrality, however, so I'm kind of at a loss to explain it. I'm beginning to work on a review of the Omegas, but this is one of the issues I want to resolve before I actually try to encapsulate my findings and impressions.

My 2 cents, for what it's worth.
 
May 13, 2002 at 6:57 AM Post #5 of 17

Lizard_1

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Quote:

Originally posted by Matthew-Spaltro
I just want to make sure that I have got the concept. Expensive high end headphones should make bad recordings sound even worse? Am I correct?


Not only that, it turns bad CDs into frizbees...
 
May 13, 2002 at 7:51 AM Post #6 of 17

Joe Bloggs

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Quote:

I just want to make sure that I have got the concept. Expensive high end headphones should make bad recordings sound even worse? Am I correct?


Only because you've listened to better music after getting the high end headphones. (IMHO)

Bad headphones / speakers can be bad in a lot of ways. Some headphones would cause some (but not all) bad recording to sound good and good recordings to sound bad.

Bad recordings can also be bad in a lot of ways. Say if the highs were lost--it might sound better on a shrill headphone with usually unlistenably harsh highs than on an accurate pair of cans. But even worse on another pair of cans that have no highs to start with...
 
May 13, 2002 at 8:57 AM Post #7 of 17

Vertigo-1

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Quote:

My Stax Omega II's, however, despite being very high resolution as well, seem to be very forgiving of poor recordings, and even let me listen to MP3's, wheres the other phones don't (or not pleasurably, at least). This forgiveness does not come at the expense of neutrality, however, so I'm kind of at a loss to explain it.


Darth Nut said the same thing as well, and I was surprised back then to hear it. I'm surprised once again to hear it being repeated and confirmed by you John.

My R10s are absolutely ruthless to bad recordings. Not ruthless in the sense that you get kicked up the head by sibilance, but rather it reveals any distortions a CD might have such as a singer overloading a mic, which is particularly annoying to me. I don't mind instruments going out of whack, but a ruined voice is a ruined CD in my book. I think in this sense the Etymotics are even a bit more forgiving of distorted voices than the R10s are.
 
May 13, 2002 at 11:19 AM Post #8 of 17

Audio-Me

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Bloggy means when using quality headphones, if you EQ the **** out of really poorly recorded music, you will mask that ****tiness by diverting the attention to the even ****tier effect of EQ...
 
May 13, 2002 at 2:27 PM Post #9 of 17

JohnActon

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Hey Vert,

You know, it's funny. I'd like to hear the R10's some day, as it seems like (from your reviews) that they would sound fairly similar to the Omegas, at least in their "natural" portrayal of the musical event.

The Omegas allow you to hear EVERYTHING on a recording, both the good and the bad. Somehow, though, they also allow you to "listen around" the distortions, defects, skewed tonal balance, etc, and still get to the heart of the music. Maybe it's their smoothness (which somehow does not come at the expense of detail retrieval). It's a little bizarre, I admit, and very difficult to articulate in words. All I know is that I've got some really ****ty CDs, and the Omega lets me listen to them, whereas my other phones won't.

Also, keep in mind that I've only had the Omegas for like a month. I've listened a lot, but I wouldn't presume to state that I categorically have a handle on their sound. Vert, you made a great point when you stated some time ago that it can take a long time to fully understand a component. I agree with you 100%.
 
May 13, 2002 at 3:30 PM Post #10 of 17

RobertR

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any good component will reveal the weak links in the chain.
when I got better speakers I had to get better amps.
when I got better amps I had to get better turntable , then cartridge. When cd was born I have since upgraded cd players 3 times.
now with the ety I find that half my cd's have sibilance, grunge and high end graininess, although they are still musically enjoyable.
What's the next step? SACD?
 
May 13, 2002 at 5:43 PM Post #11 of 17

Calanctus

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Quote:

Originally posted by JohnActon
I'm beginning to work on a review of the Omegas, but this is one of the issues I want to resolve before I actually try to encapsulate my findings and impressions.


I'm looking forward to your review, especially as (in your other post) you cite the smoothness of the Omegas. I own a pair of electrostats (Koss ESP950s), and while I started out liking their detail, I now find them fatiguing and can't listen for long. So the very concept of a 'smooth electrostatic' headphone is very interesting.

If you can, please include some comparisons to the Senns, and also give us a sense of your general listening preferences (i.e. do you like detail, tight bass, neutrality, etc.).
 
May 13, 2002 at 9:31 PM Post #13 of 17

Oliver :)

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Quote:

Originally posted by Matthew-Spaltro
I just want to make sure that I have got the concept. Expensive high end headphones should make bad recordings sound even worse? Am I correct?


The good part: Great headphones make good recordings even better, or reveal that a recording is good in the first place.
I had a problem with Patricia Barber's Summertime Samba, she seemed to be ahead of the band a lot, tensed, out of sync, on all of our stereo systems (and we have some nice stuff here at my place, nothing serious, but no lo-fi) and portables.
Now, with the ER-4S and the TAH (again, the TAH is not high-end), the timing is perfectly relaxed and in tune, and that even with 320kbps MP3, not limited to CD.
On the other hand, I now tend to avoid overly distorted guitars on the go (e.g. Bush), as much of that music seems to be made for massive bass-shakers (as in KOSS PortaPro), it is not as much fun with cans that allow you to follow each little melody-line or sound that ist there.

To your question: It depends. You can have quite expensive equipment that will make about everything sound more or less great, but might lack the analytic qualities of other equipment able to push excellent recordings to the max. It depends upon what you want.
Personally, I am crazy for details and stereo-effects, so when I feel like blunt rock, I just pick up another pair of phones.
 
May 13, 2002 at 10:35 PM Post #14 of 17

impoeticpoet

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I'm just wondering: what is the "audiophilie's" genre of music? Does everyone here just suddenly shift to Classical once they get a pair of HD600's? I mean: the pop/bubble-gum music may not be the most perfectly mastered/recorded music, but if you still like it, do you have to change your preferences? I still like my Mark, Tom, and Travis Show CD with my SR-80's as much as I did with those ****ty things that come with the cd player, maybe a little more.
smily_headphones1.gif
 

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