Definition of Dark
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2thfixr

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New to this and still trying to figure out what I want.  No places to demo equipment in my area so I have to read reviews to make my decisions.  Totally get it when people say headphones sound warm, harsh, thin, etc but what does "dark" mean?  Bass heavy?
 
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Taking a quote from the article Describing Sound -- A Glossary:
 Dark - A tonal balance that tilts downwards with increasing frequency. Opposite of bright. Weak high frequencies.
Basically, it's bass-heavy, but the treble is weaker than neutral. It is unlike V-shaped frequency curves where both the treble and bass are emphasized.
 
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2thfixr

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Thank you!  Really appreciate the glossary link, I did a search for "dark" and it didn't yield much. 
 
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thatBeatsguy

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  Thank you!  Really appreciate the glossary link, I did a search for "dark" and it didn't yield much. 
No problem. I went there at least twenty times during the first month of being at Head-Fi to get to know the lingo. Searching for "dark" or any other term to refer to sound in a dictionary won't help, since they're not exactly accepted as a dictionary definition.
 
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My Jeff Rowland Model 1s might be classified as dark.  They have somewhat recessed highs, but would not say they are bass heavy.  The background is black - meaning that the sound seems to jump out of a noiseless background in a very impressive way.  If a component is too dark for your taste it can be compensated for by the other components in the system.
 
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  New to this and still trying to figure out what I want.  No places to demo equipment in my area so I have to read reviews to make my decisions.  Totally get it when people say headphones sound warm, harsh, thin, etc but what does "dark" mean?  Bass heavy?
 
Not necessarily bass-heavy. If a headphone or the system as a whole measures with the treble sloping down too early if not too sharply as well, the sound can be described as dark, even if the bass response is relatively flat. People tend to confuse these because when you cut the treble as such you hear more of the bass, and the perception of the overall sound is that they are bass-heavy, whereas if the treble was relatively transparent but maybe with some spikes in it or otherwise the cymbals come through loud and clear, but you tip the bass up enough, it gets called "v-shaped" around here.
 
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  Not necessarily bass-heavy. If a headphone or the system as a whole measures with the treble sloping down too early if not too sharply as well, the sound can be described as dark, even if the bass response is relatively flat. People tend to confuse these because when you cut the treble as such you hear more of the bass, and the perception of the overall sound is that they are bass-heavy, whereas if the treble was relatively transparent but maybe with some spikes in it or otherwise the cymbals come through loud and clear, but you tip the bass up enough, it gets called "v-shaped" around here.
 
That's why it's important to play with EQ to discover what you enjoy. (E.g., for a couple of weeks, I thought I might be a treblehead, but it turns out I simply prefer a somewhat bass light sound.)
 
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Not necessarily bass-heavy. If a headphone or the system as a whole measures with the treble sloping down too early if not too sharply as well, the sound can be described as dark, even if the bass response is relatively flat. People tend to confuse these because when you cut the treble as such you hear more of the bass, and the perception of the overall sound is that they are bass-heavy, whereas if the treble was relatively transparent but maybe with some spikes in it or otherwise the cymbals come through loud and clear, but you tip the bass up enough, it gets called "v-shaped" around here.

+1

It's also a relative term, like warm or bright. You use it in comparison to another headphone. So headphone X could be darker than headphone Y, but not dark in comparison to headphone Z. That's why these terms can be tricky to understand how people are applying them.
 
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Wow, great responses.  Really enjoying my time here, everyone is so helpful!  I spend a lot of time on car and watch forums, mostly a lot of egos that get in the way.... seems it's all about helping your fellow member around here.  Glad I found this place.  :)    
 
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Just realized I joined in Sept 2012!  Must have been when I was looking for a DAC, kicking myself in the head for not reading beyond the DAC reviews.  
 
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Head-Fi is generally a friendly place :D
 
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+1

It's also a relative term, like warm or bright. You use it in comparison to another headphone. So headphone X could be darker than headphone Y, but not dark in comparison to headphone Z. That's why these terms can be tricky to understand how people are applying them.
 
And the advantage of a headphone system is that you can attend a meet, as long as people around you are also listening instead of chatting loudly, you can get a better idea of each headphone for comparison, whereas with speaker systems you can attend a hi-fi show and you have to deal with long lines, plus there can be people chatting outside the listening area and they're still audible. The November Hi-Fi show here is always held in a hotel but you get a LOT of people attending, and they talk in the hallways while waiting, so even if you close the doors, that noise is still audible. Add to that how ridiculously small the average hotel room rented by your average distributor for each set-up (with one or two brands in each), and you still get nowhere near the exposure you can get on gear at headphone events.
 
Still, there's a downside either way with forums and actually handling the equipment - sometimes you get a sense that people are just hearing what they heard about a product, ie their expectation can be primed by reading many other opinions on a certain product. One headphone for example is known for great treble reproduction, and I was expecting a dynamic headphone to approach Stax-levels of treble performance, but I listened to several tracks and it sounded like JBL GTO mylar dome tweeters (I should know because I had them, and even proper installation to take out reflections can't fix the plasticky sound), which are definitely, absolutely, nothing like the Vifa XT25 or Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor tweets, let alone Stax or Aurum Cantus ribbons.
 
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Just ordered a set of Audeze 2.2s with extended yokes just in case and added the headband.  My cousin has HD800s and insisted the LCDs were the way to go.  Refused to let me order anything else.  LOL!  Looking forward to my first set of REAL cans!  You guys are great, excellent write ups all over the site.  
 
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