FLAT-sounding accompaniment to 4G iPod Nano
Oct 19, 2008 at 8:34 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 22

LDM

New Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 19, 2008
Posts
34
Likes
0
First of all, I'd like to say "hello" as this is my first post here at Head-Fi. While perhaps not an audiophile in all senses of the word, I certainly despise all maximized, compressed, brickwalled, noise reduced music. I look forward to any future activity in this lovely community.

With that said, I will take my turn as the leech with a question. I plan on purchasing the newly released 4G iPod Nano this week. As such, appropriate gear is required so I can spend even more money. I own several pairs of headphones including the CX-300 and the Crossroads MylarOne XBs. What I enjoy is a flat, "true to the recording" experience ('natural' is most desired but if the original recording is not natural there is little to be done). I understand that the newest Nano is a tad bright? Thus, the headphones would need to 'counter' this in some way or at least compensate. Again, my goal is to simply listen to the recordings as flat they are presented-- any EQ or enhancements will be done on the computer, away from the iPod.

Any suggestions, then? Inexpensive as possible, of course, but quality pays.

And any amplifier/mods/extra gear that would be recommended for my tastes would be greatly appreciated as well. Portability and price come second, but are of course delightful if they are all found within one product.

Thanks.
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 12:52 AM Post #3 of 22

ClieOS

IEM Reviewer Extraordinaire
Joined
May 11, 2004
Posts
20,100
Likes
9,561
Location
Mid Johor, Malaysia
ER4P/S is the flattest sounding IEM there is, but I doubt you are actually looking for a flat sounding IEM, more like neutral sounding IEM. Most user don't realize there is a difference b/w the two. If you want something neutral sounding, I'll suggest TF10 instead of ER4.
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 1:06 AM Post #4 of 22

mape00

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 17, 2008
Posts
224
Likes
11
Quote:

Originally Posted by ClieOS /img/forum/go_quote.gif
ER4P/S is the flattest sounding IEM there is, but I doubt you are actually looking for a flat sounding IEM, more like neutral sounding IEM. Most user don't realize there is a difference b/w the two. If you want something neutral sounding, I'll suggest TF10 instead of ER4.


I really don't realize this difference. Could you state this difference in technical terms?

IMHO, either you go accurate, i.e. etymotic, or headphones based on similar design goals. Or you follow another route (of which the extremest example is to disregard all logic a la Grado and still somehow end up with pleasing sound). I think it is wrong to call less accurate headphones "neutral" because they may appeal to peoples' taste. (If that is what you insinuated, of course.)
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 1:48 AM Post #5 of 22

toughnut

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 12, 2008
Posts
1,871
Likes
316
Quote:

Originally Posted by mape00 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I really don't realize this difference. Could you state this difference in technical terms?

IMHO, either you go accurate, i.e. etymotic, or headphones based on similar design goals. Or you follow another route (of which the extremest example is to disregard all logic a la Grado and still somehow end up with pleasing sound). I think it is wrong to call less accurate headphones "neutral" because they may appeal to peoples' taste. (If that is what you insinuated, of course.)



Correct me if i'm wrong.

Ety is not considered flat but it's accurate. the mid and high are boosted and the low being recessed.

TF10 can be considered neutral with each spectrum given equal emphasis.

i could be wrong as i never owned both. this is what i read on head-fi and other forums
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 2:04 AM Post #6 of 22

Caution

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 20, 2007
Posts
1,068
Likes
13
yea etys are accurate, but they aren't flat... Just because they have no bass doesn't mean they're flat :/ the TF10s have recessed mids though.

I'd still recommenced the ER4-S though, even unamped, I like them more than the ER-P
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 2:22 AM Post #7 of 22

ClieOS

IEM Reviewer Extraordinaire
Joined
May 11, 2004
Posts
20,100
Likes
9,561
Location
Mid Johor, Malaysia
Due to the fact that headphones (including earphones) in such a close proximity to the ears, all the head-related transfer functions (HRTFs) that normally associated with listening to sound in a natural environment (speaker, voice from another person, noise from traffic) are all eliminated, rendering the sound to be unnatural - that is, when you have a flat sounding speaker playing music a few feets away, the music that reaches your eardrum will NOT be in one flat freq. response anymore due to HRTFs. Some freq. will be rose a bit, some will be lower a bit. Our brain has compensating mechanism to account for HRTFs and incorporating it to help us on source-location determination, as well as building up soundstage and imagery. One of the main reason why people always complaint ER4 has very little soundstage is because flat sounding headphones doesn't includes the HRTFs that you will normally listen in a natural environment, yet your brain is still compensating for it. This is why many people do not like how Ety sound like - too flat to actually resemble a pair of flat sounding speaker (which isn't that flat when the sound reaches your ear).

Unlike the speaker world where most manufacturer are promoting how flat sounding their speakers can be, headphone manufacturer do not usually aim at making flat sounding headphones. As stated in Headwize, 'The acoustic space in headphones is, by its very nature, distorted.' To compensate for the loss of HRTFs, manufacturer often incorporate hardware EQ on their headphone freq. resp. to closer resemble what believed to be more natural sounding or more enjoyable by the listener, thus you won't find that many headphones in the market that actually come with flat freq. resp., as they are often considered to be too cold and lack of musicality that one would often find in speaker.

The issue is, many people like to judge headphones freq. resp. in comparison to speaker without realizing those are two very different concept all together. A pair of flat sounding headphone doesn't in any way sound like a pair of flat sound speaker at all. This is why when we don't refer to flat sounding headphone as being neutral, as neutral sounding headphones have a freq. resp. that manufacturer EQ'ed /tuned to resemble what they believe to better reflect the freq. resp. of speaker, which is HRTFs included (that is, un-flat freq. resp. in a headphone sounds flatter to your ear after the compensation, cause the total effect is more or less canceled out, or at least that is what the manufacturers hope for). Also, There are other factors manufacturers might use for tuning too, such as diffused filed and loudness curve, but we will leave them at that.
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 2:33 AM Post #8 of 22

ClieOS

IEM Reviewer Extraordinaire
Joined
May 11, 2004
Posts
20,100
Likes
9,561
Location
Mid Johor, Malaysia
Btw, Ety is considered flat cause nothing seems to have a freq. resp. flatted than ER4, at least not in the IEM world.
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 2:38 AM Post #9 of 22

LDM

New Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 19, 2008
Posts
34
Likes
0
I'm afraid I'm not seeing this flat vs. neutral difference. Are we meaning to say that one is headphone limitation and the other is recording limitation in the sense of equalization? My desire is to play how the recording sounds, and nothing more. Although "the magic is in the mids". The only thing I am hesitant about purchasing these neutral-sounding 'phones is that the source will be problem, ala the bass rolloff on the D2 or a particularly bright player. Will this be a problem?

While I do not have a specific price range, the TF10s are too much. The Etymotic earphones are not. What is recommended between the ER4-P and the ER4-s? Amps or not? I have read conflicting views on this topic on some different reviews.
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 2:45 AM Post #10 of 22

ClieOS

IEM Reviewer Extraordinaire
Joined
May 11, 2004
Posts
20,100
Likes
9,561
Location
Mid Johor, Malaysia
If you are looking for the flat freq. resp., than I'll suggest the ER4P, which doesn't need an amp to sound good. You can buy a P->S adapter later to convert the ER4P to 4S (but not vise versa). 4S can still sound good unamped, but amping is definitely recommended.
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 2:46 AM Post #11 of 22

LDM

New Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 19, 2008
Posts
34
Likes
0
Quote:

Originally Posted by ClieOS /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Due to the fact that headphones (including earphones) in such a close proximity to the ears, all the head-related transfer functions (HRTFs) that normally associated with listening to sound in a natural environment (speaker, voice from another person, noise from traffic) are all eliminated, rendering the sound to be unnatural - that is, when you have a flat sounding speaker playing music a few feets away, the music that reaches your eardrum will NOT be in one flat freq. response anymore due to HRTFs. Some freq. will be rose a bit, some will be lower a bit. Our brain has compensating mechanism to account for HRTFs and incorporating it to help us on source-location determination, as well as building up soundstage and imagery. One of the main reason why people always complaint ER4 has very little soundstage is because flat sounding headphones doesn't includes the HRTFs that you will normally listen in a natural environment, yet your brain is still compensating for it. This is why many people do not like how Ety sound like - too flat to actually resemble a pair of flat sounding speaker (which isn't that flat when the sound reaches your ear).

Unlike the speaker world where most manufacturer are promoting how flat sounding their speakers can be, headphone manufacturer do not usually aim at making flat sounding headphones. As stated in Headwize, 'The acoustic space in headphones is, by its very nature, distorted.' To compensate for the loss of HRTFs, manufacturer often incorporate hardware EQ on their headphone freq. resp. to closer resemble what believed to be more natural sounding or more enjoyable by the listener, thus you won't find that many headphones in the market that actually come with flat freq. resp., as they are often considered to be too cold and lack of musicality that one would often find in speaker.

The issue is, many people like to judge headphones freq. resp. in comparison to speaker without realizing those are two very different concept all together. A pair of flat sounding headphone doesn't in any way sound like a pair of flat sound speaker at all. This is why when we don't refer to flat sounding headphone as being neutral, as neutral sounding headphones have a freq. resp. that manufacturer EQ'ed /tuned to resemble what they believe to better reflect the freq. resp. of speaker, which is HRTFs included (that is, un-flat freq. resp. in a headphone sounds flatter to your ear after the compensation, cause the total effect is more or less canceled out, or at least that is what the manufacturers hope for). Also, There are other factors manufacturers might use for tuning too, such as diffused filed and loudness curve, but we will leave them at that.



Thanks for the explanation! You posted it at the same time as my last post, so ignore the first two sentences or so of my last post.

A question, though: how do we know we are basing flat speakers off of data, though? If our ears tell us that the music is flat, would these possibly considered "neutral" speakers-- that is, not a flat EQ but appearing flat after HRTFs?

And my main goal, once again, is to listen to the music not necessarily flat (the thread title is misleading, I suppose) but just how the music sounds without tampering whatsoever. Oh, and at a reasonable price.
wink_face.gif
If the Etys provide this (or something close to this), then I'm in.
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 2:48 AM Post #12 of 22

LDM

New Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 19, 2008
Posts
34
Likes
0
Quote:

Originally Posted by ClieOS /img/forum/go_quote.gif
If you are looking for the flat freq. resp., than I'll suggest the ER4P, which doesn't need an amp to sound good. You can buy a P->S adapter later to convert the ER4P to 4S (but not vise versa). 4S can still sound good unamped, but amping is definitely recommended.


We need to stop posting at the same time.
smile.gif


What is the advantage at all to the 4S, then? Is it that, with an amp, it sounds better than the 4P? If it sounds equal to it, then I don't see its purpose and the 4P would win.
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 3:11 AM Post #13 of 22

ClieOS

IEM Reviewer Extraordinaire
Joined
May 11, 2004
Posts
20,100
Likes
9,561
Location
Mid Johor, Malaysia
Here lies a big problem: Each of us have a slightly different freq. resp. in our ears - that is we all hear thing slightly different from each other. A flat sound sound to you might not be the flattest sound to your friend (you can go to an audiologist and have you hearing tested out). Combined with all the factors mentioned before, one can't easily determine which is actually flat sounding by his/her own ears. In speaker world, we often rely on instrument to tell us whether speaker sounds flat, and we take it as it is and adapt it as our reference, as HRTFs is naturally incorporated into our hearing and our brain will always compensate for it. The problem is, you can't tell your brain to stop compensating when you are using headphone, which lead to freq. resp. tuning and all soft of EQing to find that elusive 'right' sound.

Regardless, ER4P is still a good choice on the sub-$200 category (even better if you pair it with the cheapo FiiO E3 amp). Buying headphone is often a hit or miss, and it is hard to tell whether you'll like your choice with out audition.

Quote:

Originally Posted by LDM /img/forum/go_quote.gif
What is the advantage at all to the 4S, then? Is it that, with an amp, it sounds better than the 4P? If it sounds equal to it, then I don't see its purpose and the 4P would win.


This might answer your question:
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f103/e...ferent-372983/

The one advantage that 4P has is you can change it to 4S with adapter, but you can't do the same to 4S (to 4P).
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 3:33 AM Post #14 of 22

athompie

New Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 4, 2008
Posts
25
Likes
0
This is my first time giving an answer.

Head-direct RE2's for $100.

They are flat but I got used to it and it got a bit of a more balanced sound after a bit. Still flat though.

I think they are okay but I think you would love them.

I'm more into a warmer sound.
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 3:51 PM Post #15 of 22

LDM

New Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 19, 2008
Posts
34
Likes
0
Looks like the P's are the way to go. I'll do some more research regarding whether or not I want the S's and an amp. The E3 is cheap, but I may wait for the E5.

Any LOD or other gear to make my experience better?

And for the record, what are some of the more "flat" DAPs? The D2 w/ FiiO? I am aware that the iPod is not THE most reputable out there.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top