Flat sound vs. "fun sound"...so flat isn't fun?
Apr 10, 2011 at 1:58 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 90

chelboed

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 25, 2011
Posts
126
Likes
11
I just don't get this whole headphone review mindset of "these are great b/c of the ultra flat freq response". Flip side...these are fantastic because of the warm "fun" sound they portray...far from a flat response, but very desirable. 
 
So which is it? I hear people who praise the flat sound say..."those are great...a really warm and fun sound" about something unflat.
 
So basically what I guess I'm asking...if you get a really flat freq...and that's what you're really wanting...when you listen to them, is it not fun? Critical listening...a term I don't quite get, I suppose. You have to be alert to enjoy these excellent cans. The flip side, these cans have that "fun sound" that you don't have to really be 100% alert and can just sit back and "chill" to.
 
 
 
Help?
 
Apr 10, 2011 at 2:08 AM Post #2 of 90

MaxwellDemon

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 20, 2010
Posts
732
Likes
25
Think of it this way. Some people much rather read a book to get a good story. Some people rather watch a movie. Some people much rather watch a play, etc.
 
When people praises a headphone for being great due to flatness, it just means they are technically great because they are achieving an effect similar to life-like, uncolored, sound. On the other hand, not everyone wants a headphone that portrays that. They might prefer a headphone that adds a little extra "spunk" to their music. This is what 'fun' means -- it isn't all realistic and grounded.
 
Of course, some veteran head-fiers have noted that the terminology of 'fun' is extremely misleading... because what a person finds as fun is extremely personal. So, you aren't the only one that is scratching your head over that term. So, there are really two definitions. One that you stated as 'warm', 'bassy', etc. while the other is the subjective liking toward a headphone.
 
This is what I got from my time being spent on here. I am pretty sure someone will be add more (or subtract in case I made an error) to what I have provided.
smily_headphones1.gif

 
Apr 10, 2011 at 2:46 PM Post #3 of 90

Andrew H

Member of the Trade: Maximo Products
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Posts
246
Likes
11
"...so flat isn't fun?"
 
This is a great question. For me, definitely more flat = more fun.
 
In general terms, "fun" means recessed mids (and often treble to a lesser extent). This of course manifests itself as heavy bass.
 
I think the problem is that, in the portables/earphones category, somehow "flat" has come to mean largely the opposite.
 
When I listen to very good speakers, that are reasonably flat (say +/- 3dB) down to 30 Hz, in a good room with a good source, I don't hear any lack of bottom end. When I listen to most flagship full-size headphones, I don't hear any lack of bottom end. Yet, when I listen to portables/earphones that are commonly known to be lacking in bottom end, they are called "flat".
 
Why a "flat" earphone should sound entirely different from a flat speaker or headphone always escapes me...
 
Apr 10, 2011 at 3:06 PM Post #4 of 90

wind016

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 19, 2009
Posts
4,004
Likes
263
 
Quote:
In general terms, "fun" means recessed mids (and often treble to a lesser extent). This of course manifests itself as heavy bass.
 

 
I agree right there. Fun usually means there's a spike in the frequency response somewhere whether treble, bass, or both. I also interchange the word "fun" with "aggressive." I can appreciate both types of headphones, but now I prefer a flat presentation most of the time. Too much bass or treble can be fatiguing. I also agree that most headphones here considered "flat" isn't exactly what I consider flat at least in the bass.
 
FYI, I consider the Stax Omega 2 MK1 and the Audio Technica W11R to be flat. At least more flat than most of the audiophile headphones I've heard.
 
Apr 10, 2011 at 4:24 PM Post #5 of 90

mvw2

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 9, 2007
Posts
1,879
Likes
105
I think flat is always good.  However, the fun can come from the presentation rather than simply a factor of frequency response.  Flat doesn't mean you can't have energetic, engaging, dynamic, etc.
 
Apr 10, 2011 at 6:11 PM Post #7 of 90

Rmccullo

Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 9, 2011
Posts
75
Likes
11
It is definitely personal preference. For me, I find flat more fun, because I enjoy it more. When theres a spike to any frequency, I feel like the music has been compromised. Everyones different though. Just like how some guys find fat girls fun
 
Apr 10, 2011 at 7:28 PM Post #8 of 90

supersleuth

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Posts
471
Likes
17
I'm a classical music geek. Reasonably flat response is necessary for instruments and voices to sound realistic. Unnatural colorations aren't "fun", they're really annoying. I can't, for example, understand how people can listen to Grado headphones with bowl pads worn around the ears; the shrillness that gives to orchestral violins is horrible. (I wear mine on-ear and well forward, which smooths out the highs quite a lot). And I don't find my Ety MC5's "dry" or "boring", I find them correct.
 
Apr 10, 2011 at 8:06 PM Post #9 of 90

JxK

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 18, 2009
Posts
1,055
Likes
22


Quote:
I'm a classical music geek. Reasonably flat response is necessary for instruments and voices to sound realistic. Unnatural colorations aren't "fun", they're really annoying. I can't, for example, understand how people can listen to Grado headphones with bowl pads worn around the ears; the shrillness that gives to orchestral violins is horrible. (I wear mine on-ear and well forward, which smooths out the highs quite a lot). And I don't find my Ety MC5's "dry" or "boring", I find them correct.

Part of it is a function of volume. At very low volumes (human equal loudness contour) we don't perceive low and high frequencies as strongly as mids. Thus for people who prefer to listen to music at low volumes, that V shaped "fun" sound suddenly becomes correct. That's one reason I could never like etymotic's IEMs. Another is that real music has bass. Even in classical, things like cellos don't sound right, and timpani end up sounding like a wet paper towel. That and soundstage, etmotic stuffs your orchestra into a closet. And timbre, as previously mentioned.
redface.gif

 
 
 
Apr 10, 2011 at 8:14 PM Post #10 of 90

Br777

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 2, 2010
Posts
3,930
Likes
295
IMO frequency response is not what makes headphones fun... i always try to eq my headphones flat, but even if all headphones were magically eq'd perfectly flat, they would still sound quite different from one another. 

 
 
Apr 10, 2011 at 8:15 PM Post #11 of 90

Uncle Erik

Uncle Exotic
Joined
Mar 18, 2006
Posts
22,596
Likes
510
The problem with "fun" headphones is that they aren't fun in the long term. You either get bored with the coloration or it starts to irritate you.

That's when most people decide to buy a more expensive colored headphone.

The only way out of the cycle is to get something accurate. Unless you want to start a collection, that is. The colored gear is more fun at first, but it won't stay that way. Get something accurate and concentrate on the music. You'll be happy. Otherwise, you'll be on the upgrade treadmill forever.
 
Apr 10, 2011 at 9:03 PM Post #12 of 90

supersleuth

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Posts
471
Likes
17


Quote:
Part of it is a function of volume. At very low volumes (human equal loudness contour) we don't perceive low and high frequencies as strongly as mids. Thus for people who prefer to listen to music at low volumes, that V shaped "fun" sound suddenly becomes correct. That's one reason I could never like etymotic's IEMs. Another is that real music has bass. Even in classical, things like cellos don't sound right, and timpani end up sounding like a wet paper towel. That and soundstage, etmotic stuffs your orchestra into a closet. And timbre, as previously mentioned.
redface.gif

 
 

Not to my ears, and I both listen to and perform live orchestral music frequently.
 
 
 
Apr 10, 2011 at 9:12 PM Post #13 of 90

aleki

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 4, 2010
Posts
989
Likes
28


 
Quote:
The problem with "fun" headphones is that they aren't fun in the long term. You either get bored with the coloration or it starts to irritate you.

That's when most people decide to buy a more expensive colored headphone.

The only way out of the cycle is to get something accurate. Unless you want to start a collection, that is. The colored gear is more fun at first, but it won't stay that way. Get something accurate and concentrate on the music. You'll be happy. Otherwise, you'll be on the upgrade treadmill forever.


so true. I tend to go through cycles of spite with some of my headsets. the only pairs that have yet to offend me is my modded HD555's or TF10's. Copper's sound a bit too contained for an analytical DD, and the MD's bass can be a bit overtaking at times. TF10's are always sound so effortless and the grainy detail is as addictive as the first bite of a wheat-thin
 
 
Apr 11, 2011 at 1:21 AM Post #14 of 90

Confispect

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 5, 2009
Posts
2,942
Likes
21
I disagree I own both and like them both equally. Different ears.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top