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Dynamic sound vs Planar Magnetic sound

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by lord voldemort, Dec 20, 2012.
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  1. Lord Voldemort
    What are the differences between the two in sound quality? Yes it's obvious that planar magnetic cans have superior transient response.
    However, I ask this because I recently bought a planar magnetic headphone and want to know if the differences are attributes of the planar magnetic sound or the particular nature of my headphone.  I feel that there is some kind of a "wall" of sound that makes things sound a bit distant, and I've read from two other people about the same thing. 
    Side note: should striving for a flat headphone be our main goal here? How often do sound engineers actually use flat systems to record and master the music? 
  2. ultrabike
    I know LFF is a mastering engineer and his T50RP based Paradox planar magnetic headphones strive for neutrality.
    AFAIK planar magnetic headphones are known to do bass better than most dynamic headphones, but I'm not sure what you mean by planar magnetic cans having superior transient response...
  3. chewy4
    From what I've seen the main difference is flat bass. Dynamic headphones generally have a mid-bass hump to some extent while planars can have it be totally flat.
  4. Lord Voldemort
    My Mad Dogs have more precision in the sound, especially in the sub-mid bass region. This is clear on acoustics tracks. 
    The problem I hear is present in piano music. It loses a lot of the dynamics that the artist intended (it's obvious because some scores have accents to them, and the Mad Dog do not portray them well). Everything seems "flattened" out to the same dynamic level. At first, I thought this was because the Mad Dogs were so neutral, and they are, not particularly emphasizing any particular frequency except the bass (to compensate for the vibrations that enter our bodies). But even with this in consideration, I feel like I'm hearing a wall of sound. I need to hear another planar magnetic can to confirm if this is just that kind of signature. MIdrange has less presence in my Mad Dogs for the most part, with a more artificial timbre. 
  5. ultrabike
    The Mad Dogs I heard had a little bit of bass emphasis. IMO the Paradox were more neutral (and therefore precise if we are striving for flat frequency response.) Not a bad headphone though.
    When a set of frequencies get emphasized over others certain details may get "masked".
  6. chewy4
    I don't get a wall of sound feeling at all with my HE-400's. Quite the opposite really, poorly mastered rock songs that are meant to sound like a wall of sound can sound a little empty.
    Are you sure it's not just the particular song? The Mad Dogs seem like a pretty fast headphone...
  7. ultrabike
    I agree with chewy4. I have the HE-400 and HE-500 on long term loan. Don't think I get the wall of sound effect there either.
  8. Lord Voldemort
    Oh yes it's definitely fast. The problem here has nothing to do with fastness. And no this applies to every song/ piece I've listened to out of the Mad Dogs. I've been trying to find comments about this 'wall of sound'. I've read it once somewhere but can't find that specific comment. Instead I've found: 
    "As Brooko said, I didn't say inferior.

    The "deal" with any planar radiator (ESP, electret, planar-magnetic/orthodynamic, etc) is that they put out a very uniform "wall" of sound, compared to the conical pattern that will come out of a dynamic cone (which is what you'll find in every Grado ever made). This is a very different presentation on it's own, even if they had the exact same frequency response (which they do not), because of how the sound-wave will interact with your outer and inner ear. So just like how an Ultrasone with S-LOGIC will not image or position audio in the same way as any conventional headphone, neither will any planar radiator. Same thing with speakers - there are plenty of great-sounding speakers that use multiple drivers in various alignments, and there are also a number of planar/dipole models that are also great-sounding. But they produce a very different sonic image because of the difference in how they put sound out.

    So not only should you expect to see a large difference in tonal balance (in that, nothing has the same PRaT, tonal balance, etc that a Grado does), but the difference in radiation will also change and influence the sound very heavily. I will tell you that flat-out, if you think your Grado headphones are the best sounding thing since sliced bread, nothing else will get you that same experience except another Grado. They're very unique. I say this to hopefully prevent a lot of dragon chasing - don't waste your time with other manufacturers trying to get "a better sounding Grado" - just get a better Grado. If there's *major* issues you have with Grado headphones (e.g. you hate their tonal balance), don't waste your time buying more expensive Grado models - try something else.

    It all ultimately comes down to preference - do you like chocolate or vanilla or perhaps Neapolitan?"
    "The "wall-of-sound" effect is because LCD2s are heavily damped, unfortunately that damping scheme is also what makes it sound like an Audeze headphone. I can make my HE400s sound quite LCD2-like with similar driver-back damping with foam and felt, without the properly tuned bass response / smooth mids ofc, but as a proof of concept." 
    Wish I had another planar magnetic to know for sure. I've only ever listened to dynamic drive headphones (lots of them) and they don't have this kind of sound. 
    dhruvmeena96 and alpha80 like this.
  9. ultrabike
    I found this post extremely valuable and might be relevant to our discussion: http://www.head-fi.org/t/223263/the-stax-thread-new/20355#post_8967417
    "But in practice, this shape of the transducer has nothing to do with the pressure wave that results from it. Be it a piston or a stretched diaphragm like and estat or ortho, they all drive a small acoustic space which is again in stiffness controlled region (no acoustic modes in the earcup cavity there) and you get uniform pressure across the earcup."
    dhruvmeena96 likes this.
  10. asdfghjkzxcvbnm
    What is transient response?
  11. thelostMIDrange
    it may sound simplistic, but to me, the difference is that planars are not dynamic sounding. And neither are some dynamics, but at least have the potential to for it....or at the least, the planar is dynamic in a totally different manner.
  12. TMRaven
    To me the main difference is just in the bass.  I don't really get a 'wall of sound' with the he-400.
  13. matti620
    Which cans did you upgrade from? Could it be that the "wall of soudn" you're describing is simply the deep extended slow bass which you weren't use to its presence before? It happened to me. Everything sounded much "heavier" when I got the HD650.
  14. Lord Voldemort
    No not at all. The HD650 does sound heavy, mainly because of its midbass. I had the same impression with the M50s as well. The Mad Dog has a very neutral midbass... about the same amount as my HD598 actually. 
    Maybe one day when I get the chance, I'll be able to compare it with a HE-400 or another planar magnetic. 
    Oh and I didn't "upgrade" from anything. I own the HD598 currently, though I've auditioned numerous cans in the price range and above. No dynamic headphones sound quite like the Mad Dogs. My main interest currently with the Mad Dogs isn't really its "wall of sound" but rather the lack of dynamics. Everything feels dampened, and although this doesn't affect most genres of music, it does affect my piano music heavily. A friend came over to audition my two cans and he agreed that the Mad Dogs just can't compete with the HD598 in classical music (well excluding organ). But he loved the Mad Dogs for darker ambient music. 
  15. TMRaven
    Well, that might be because they are a closed, heavily dampened headphone.  Hifiman headphones are extremely open and have almost no damping.
    I really can't comment on the lack of dynamics.  For what it's worth, I feel all Sennheiser 5xx series headphones lack dynamics.
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