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Do Objective Headphone Measurements Correlate to the Audiophile's Subjective Experience?

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by purrin, Jun 16, 2012.
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  1. rhythmdevils
    Maybe these measurements would make more sense to you if you learned how to read them.  There's no question about how a CSD should measure to avoid coloring what's on the album.  Resonances are colorations.  Your perception of them is totally subjective though. 
    maverickronin likes this.
  2. swbf2cheater
    What ever happened to just enjoying your gear and the music, instead of worrying about how a machine tells you they might sound.
  3. jerg Contributor
    Nothing. It's just that with the rapidly growing headphone audiophile community, impressions and reviews of headphones (new or old) become increasingly in-demand; people want to be well-informed before they spend their hard-earned cash.
    Purrin is trying to show that measurements can indeed be just as trustworthy if not better than subjective descriptions of how "good" a headphone sounds.
    maverickronin likes this.
  4. jgray91
    Whatever happens to trying to understand what makes a headphone sounds good and satisfying curiousity and not getting your panties in a bunch when someone tries to by using measurements? [​IMG]
    anetode likes this.
  5. swbf2cheater
    I weep for the future of audio.  Say goodbye to the journey and experience of listening to many headphones and pieces of gear and just zeroing in on something you've never heard, purely based on a graph.  Graphs will never be more trustworthy, everyone hears differently.  Subjectivity is essential in sketching the bigger picture when it comes to information.  You gather intelligence from as many sources as possible from as many different ears as you can.  Plotting is just one part of it, and also another subjective part.  There are some headphones that sound good despite some pitfalls.  Where is the superior trustworthiness there?
    madriz likes this.
  6. MattTCG
    ^^This^^  Well put...
  7. jerg Contributor
    Graphs show intrinsic properties (decay / general sound signature and tilt) and signs of major flaws (peaks / valleys / balance / resonance), some of which aren't consistently there in most non-technical reviews or impressions. On the other hand, subjective write-ups describe more specific things as well as relative comparisons between cans. Ideally you'd have a marriage between the two methods to give people the best picture.
    As for the so-called journey, it's not always viable for people, financially and/or in terms of time. Nothing is wrong with the mentality of going for the "best" and "most suitable" for the price and whatnot, and potentially avoiding money and time wasted in unguided search. People with a freer grasp on expenditure might see that unguided journey or search as being valuable but again, it's not for everyone.
  8. Focker
    One of the aspects of objective measurements that interests me most is audibility of said measurements. Just because something measures a certain way, good or bad, doesn't mean that we can audibly detect what shows up on the graphs. 
  9. RPGWiZaRD
    Yea well Grados certainly wouldn't be popular if all headphones which measures badly wouldn't be liked. :p
  10. swbf2cheater
    Welcome to Head Fi, the place where people buy $10,000 audio rigs, freely trade their gear for other experiences and go to local headphone meets.  Its not viable to normal consumers, who here is a normal consumer?  Who here pays $2000 for a TH900 based only on its plot points?  Nobody.  If you are paying that much for your rig odds are good ( the wise consumer ) you will try to gain some real world experience with other gear before you blindly shell out thousands for headphones with no experience at all prior.  Once you get to that level, you are more than likely the type of consumer who has some experience in audio and enjoys headphones in general.  Normal consumers don't care at all for plotting.  Who goes to Best Buy or Walmart to ask the employees working in that department about the plot points of a set of Monster Beats or anything else they sell in the store?  Viability applies to a very small percentage, the majority rests in the average consumer who doesn't even know what the hell frequency response is and the rest falls to the experienced Audiophiles.  If you want an analytical experience, thats great.  I prefer high musicality and fun factor.  Those peaks and pitfalls you speak of are not generally found in actual music, its hard to hear and even find most of the time.  By that point, you miss the entire foundation of what it means to be an audiophile and why you got into headphones in the first place.  You loved music at one point....
    Look at the Philips Fidelio L1 charts.  The Bass and Midrange plots are crazy good yet almost nobody gives a crap? Why is that?  Its because its not an analytical headphone, its geared to actually do something a lot of us forget to do in just enjoying the music, high musicality factor.  The end results of the plot points of the L1 are not so good in the upper regions, but damned if that headphone doesnt have the smoothest mid tier upper region ever.   Its not endorsed by big name/popular audio enthusiasts so it won't ever be popular.  It doesn't look bulky or like a satellite dish on your head and doesn't require copious and dangerous levels of electricity to drive properly, therefor it won't be popular.  As I said, Plotting is a nice tool but I'll be damned if I let a machine decide what I like before my ears do.  Its just one piece of the puzzle.  You have ears, use them first then rely on the measuring gear to sort out which of your choices has the best responsiveness and hope that one is your favorite out of the bunch, its not always the best for your ears despite plotting well.
    madriz likes this.
  11. rhythmdevils
    The journey?  What, buying headphone after headphone because people who don't know anything write glowing reviews about how perfect they are, only to be let down by glaring problems over and over again?  I don't consider that a journey, I consider that a huge waste of time.  I've wasted 7 years doing that. 
    SWBFcheater, as someone who has written a lot of very dramatic threads about how disappointed you are in the majority of headphones you should be celebrating these measurements because they hold headphone manufacturers accountable.  What these measurements show is not debatable, you can't just pay off a reviewer, or trick people with fancy packing and marketing.  Headphone companies take advantage of this subjective mentality because anything can be anything, people's opinions and experiences can be shaped by marketing.  And it allows them to keep making headphones with gross colorations and selling passing them off as perfect.  These graphs don't show the whole picture, and they don't tell you whether a headphone is bad or good.  They tell you about speed and decay.  It's up for you to decide what kind of speed and decay characteristics you like. 
    The only reason to write off these measurements is if you are so insecure about your preferences that you can't stand the idea that something might be wrong with a headphone you like.  Instead of needing to claim perfection in something that is (as you have told us all over and over again) far from perfect, why not use these measurements as a way of furthering your understanding of sound.  THAT is a journey worth taking.  Use them to figure out what it is you like in a headphone, and what you don't like.  Maybe you like some resonance.  That's fine.  But we don't need to throw out facts, logic and very useful tools so that you can hold onto a silly and impossible notion of perfection and what seems to be sense of self worth that is attached to your headphones and preferences. 
    There's still room for subjectivity.  You like what you like.  These shouldn't be seen as a threat to what you like.  They are tools to help you better understand what you like.  And to help you more easily find more of what you like.  Again, THAT is a journey that is worth taking. 
    anetode, ujamerstand, Eric_C and 6 others like this.
  12. TMRaven
    He shouldn't enjoy this thread because he hated the LCD-2.  [​IMG]
  13. jerg Contributor
    And you were calling me entitled [​IMG]
  14. swbf2cheater
    I'm going to call you on a few points you have made.  First would be have you ever actually built a headphone from scratch?  Do you have any idea how hard it is to put everything together and come out with a win? Its not easy to tune headphones to tailor a specific sound.  Hold the manufacturers accountable?  I am not sure any headphone designer wants you to be overly analytical with your experience.  Ask Val from Vmoda if he created his company so you can listen to sweep tones and over analyze his headphones.  He made his gear so you can enjoy music.  The LCD2 didn't plot immensely well yet it sound very nice, the Fidelio L1 didn't plot well in the upper regions, yet it sounds nice.  Does that mean we bash them for this?  Hell no.  They all put immensely hard work into it, it took Sennheiser nearly 5 years to produce the HD800 and you want to bash them for some faults that are hardly even audible when you are trying to enjoy music?  What you are basically saying is the video game equivalent to creating a program that measures the texture geometry on the walls, the more perfect the angle the better the graph will look, yet the game can still look like pure crap.  You want to rely on a machine to tell you the textures are perfectly formed, yet they look like absolute crap. Go look at Star Wars Battlefront II for the pc, those textures on the walls are all nicely formed angles, yet the game looks like pure crap.
    I fully endorse my favorite headphones failures.  They do not bother me.  My DX1000 isn't sublime, nor is my Fidelio L1 yet they sound highly musical and the failures shown on a chart are not even audibly present the majority of the time.  So no, you are absolutely wrong in your assumption.  There is nothing wrong with using graphs to further your tech knowledge, I never said anything to the contrary.  I said it was one part of the puzzle, you made it seem like I said it was THE DEVIL or some demon you need to avoid at all costs when I clearly said the opposite, twice.  You saying that the graph will help you decide what YOU like is a rehash of what I said twice before on this very page, so yes I agree.
    Your idea what what journey is worth taking is purely subjective.  Many of us enjoy the experience and The Hunt.  Experiencing many products instead of just one.  Why on earth would I wan to celebrate measurements over the experience itself?  I am one of very few reviewers who almost never speaks of charts and plots because I feel them to be pointless and useless TO ME.  You are analytical, I am musical.  I prefer MUSICALITY over Perfect graphs.  I could care less if they looked like the Rocky Mountains so long as the end result sounds incredible.  
    @ Jerg,
    So what you are implying is that you got into headphones because you started off listening in a critical way?  LOL ok...
  15. rhythmdevils
    A lot of very silly accusations being made with very simplistic thinking. 
    You may find failures musical.  That's fine.  That is YOUR experience.  These graphs are not telling you what you can and cannot enjoy.  They are providing information about headphones. 
    Do you honestly believe that every single person finds the same exact coloration "musical"?  And would you then tell me I'm wrong for disagreeing with you?  That is in fact the same mentality that you are accusing "objectivity" of.  Making black and white statements about what is good and what is bad.  These graphs do not do that.  If you like peaky upper midrange, then that's great.  I DO NOT find that musical.  It really gets in the way of my enjoyment of music.  So for me, these graphs help me see what it is that is bothering me.  For you, they could help you find something that is "musical" with the resonance and peaks that you enjoy.
    I could very well accuse you of loosing track of the music in your love of buying and getting all googlie eyed over gear.  Is that the point of music?  Do you really think that musicians made music so you could use it as an excuse to buy stuff?  I say this not as an insult, but to show you that your experience is not so black and whtie, good/bad.
    You can't feel so threatened by information.  It's just information.  No one here is listening with test tones.  I have NEVER done that.  The resonances and peaks are there whether you like them or not.  Whether you like them or not is for you to decide.  And having more information makes it easier to understand what you're hearing and find more of what you want.  Which in my experience, would help me get back to the music and stop fussing and being bothered by what I find to be crappy gear. 
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