general question about headphone sound quality and amps
Nov 20, 2005 at 1:40 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 25

Special K

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I have never used an amp before, so I'm sure there is something I am missing here, but -

I always read on here when people compare cans, they will comment on the bass, treble, mids, etc. and say things like "the mids are lacking".

Why not just build/buy an amp with an active filter in various frequency ranges, and variable gain? If the gain was high enough, couldn't an amp compensate for any weaknesses in the headphone's frequency response?
 
Nov 20, 2005 at 1:42 AM Post #2 of 25

fewtch

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I find it very likely that at least some of the "voiced for Sennheiser" amps out there have high quality EQ components built in.

As far as variable gain, this is getting more common. More and more amps have at least a "high gain/low gain" switch.
 
Nov 20, 2005 at 3:24 AM Post #3 of 25

AdamWill

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A lot of people use digital EQ to do it. I have the midrange and treble on my Neuros dropped three notches (effectively boosting the bass) to make up for the lack of bass on my Etys. I think there's an unstated but widely held belief that using either analog or digital EQ is somehow 'unpure' and it's better to own a pair of headphones which is 'perfect' across all frequencies. That's the only explanation I can think of.
 
Nov 20, 2005 at 3:27 AM Post #4 of 25

Special K

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Quote:

Originally Posted by AdamWill
A lot of people use digital EQ to do it. I have the midrange and treble on my Neuros dropped three notches (effectively boosting the bass) to make up for the lack of bass on my Etys. I think there's an unstated but widely held belief that using either analog or digital EQ is somehow 'unpure' and it's better to own a pair of headphones which is 'perfect' across all frequencies. That's the only explanation I can think of.


Software or hardware EQ? Software EQ cannot produce a gain of greater than 0 dB, which means you can't really improve the phones beyond what they are capable of by default.

Wouldn't it be better to use an active hardware filter to really boost the lacking frequencies instead of lowering the other ones?
 
Nov 20, 2005 at 3:27 AM Post #5 of 25

Kenny12

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Quote:

Originally Posted by AdamWill
A lot of people use digital EQ to do it. I have the midrange and treble on my Neuros dropped three notches (effectively boosting the bass) to make up for the lack of bass on my Etys. I think there's an unstated but widely held belief that using either analog or digital EQ is somehow 'unpure' and it's better to own a pair of headphones which is 'perfect' across all frequencies. That's the only explanation I can think of.


or one could own different headphones for different purposes
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Nov 20, 2005 at 3:31 AM Post #6 of 25

AdamWill

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special k: er, just do what I did. The Neuros' EQ isn't very well designed, if you increase any frequency it distorts...so I just reduce the ones I don't want and increase the volume, which gives the exact same effect as increasing the frequencies you do want, unless there's something I'm missing.
smily_headphones1.gif


(Obviously if you already need max volume to drive your 'phones this option won't work, but that's your problem. :>)
 
Nov 20, 2005 at 3:51 AM Post #7 of 25

Special K

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Quote:

Originally Posted by AdamWill
special k: er, just do what I did. The Neuros' EQ isn't very well designed, if you increase any frequency it distorts...so I just reduce the ones I don't want and increase the volume, which gives the exact same effect as increasing the frequencies you do want, unless there's something I'm missing.
smily_headphones1.gif


(Obviously if you already need max volume to drive your 'phones this option won't work, but that's your problem. :>)



Yea but if that is the problem, then why ever buy new cans? Why doesn't everyone just tune down the freqs that are good on the cans, to better bring out the ones that are lacking?
 
Nov 20, 2005 at 3:56 AM Post #8 of 25

K2Grey

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Because there's more to a headphone than its frequency response.
 
Nov 20, 2005 at 5:07 AM Post #9 of 25

AdamWill

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Exactly. One cookie for K2Grey. Frequency response really isn't the most important thing about sound quality. You can equalise any headphone to get more or less the frequency response you like, but some will still sound a lot better than others.
 
Nov 20, 2005 at 4:47 PM Post #10 of 25

Special K

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Quote:

Originally Posted by AdamWill
Exactly. One cookie for K2Grey. Frequency response really isn't the most important thing about sound quality. You can equalise any headphone to get more or less the frequency response you like, but some will still sound a lot better than others.


So the rest of the quality is due to subjective things that can't be measured?
 
Nov 20, 2005 at 5:10 PM Post #11 of 25

Chri5peed

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Am I missing something? My amp has two gain settings, its an SM3, I just thought it made everything louder if you had very inefficient headphones?
 
Nov 20, 2005 at 6:06 PM Post #12 of 25

Citizen Z

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Special K
So the rest of the quality is due to subjective things that can't be measured?


I guess this begs the question, is there a physical metric for "coloration" in sound? You can recongnize it when you hear it, but what is actually different about the sound wave(s) from one color to another?
 
Nov 20, 2005 at 10:52 PM Post #13 of 25

sgrossklass

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Citizen Z
I guess this begs the question, is there a physical metric for "coloration" in sound? You can recongnize it when you hear it, but what is actually different about the sound wave(s) from one color to another?


Usually coloration has to do with resonance-induced narrow peaks and dips. Put your hands over the back grilles of open cans, and things will sound somewhat strained, with soundstaging suffering as well.
 
Nov 20, 2005 at 11:09 PM Post #14 of 25

cosmopragma

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Special K
So the rest of the quality is due to subjective things that can't be measured?


Not at all.Think about attack and decay or transient response, dependant on the mass in relation to the affecting power.How fast a transducer reacts is measurable and clearly audible.
 
Nov 21, 2005 at 12:06 AM Post #15 of 25

aaroncort

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Quote:

Originally Posted by AdamWill
special k: er, just do what I did. The Neuros' EQ isn't very well designed, if you increase any frequency it distorts...so I just reduce the ones I don't want and increase the volume, which gives the exact same effect as increasing the frequencies you do want, unless there's something I'm missing.
smily_headphones1.gif


(Obviously if you already need max volume to drive your 'phones this option won't work, but that's your problem. :>)




Thats a good idea! My NJB3's eq distorts but I haven't noticed if its only when you boost a value. I'm going to give it a try.
 

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