Headphone volume, frequency responce, the D-25s, and other thoughts
May 13, 2002 at 1:00 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4

RMSzero

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I know we talk about this like every day, but ever since I've gotten my D-25s, I've had a standard source to compare with. Here's the thing: when listening to CD's on the D-25s (like Live - Throwing Copper and DMB - Crash, for examples that people may have) using my Sony MDR-V6 plugged directly into the headphone jack, I usually don't like to have the volume any higher than MIN. Seriously. I actually wish I had my amp with me so I could make things quieter!

I usually keep things reasonably quiet compared to the volume my idiot friends listen to (they think that loud music improves hearing because it gives the ears a workout,
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) but am I really so sensitive that minimum volume sounds loud? Or is the D-25s that strong?

This relates to another point. The people who argue and disagree about headphone frequency response -- is it possible that these people are listening at different volumes, and that the frequency response of the ear is different at different volumes? I'm pretty sure that's true, last time I looked at those curves with the funny name. For instance, perhaps a flat frequency distrabution at 60dB sounds thin and without bass at 80dB - while a flat bass distribution to the 80dB listener sounds like it has elevated bass to the 60dB listener.

Therefore, it follows that there are better headphones for different volumes of sound. I know I fall into the low volume listening category, and I have for my entire life. The loud button goes on when I listen, because it sounds better. But in the world of headphones, where a loud button isn't the best solution, maybe the headphones that seem colored when driven enough for you loud folks are perfect for those of us with quieter tastes.
 
May 13, 2002 at 1:18 PM Post #2 of 4

Audio-Me

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When I had the D-25S, I listened @ min volume with the HD600 (this volume I assume is even quieter than what you're hearing with the V6). I figure its internal amp has a high gain.

At low volumes, most equipment lose dynamic range, as in minute details and decibel swings. I am sensitive to loud volumes, thus hate it when music goes from quiet to really loud, especially when it's dramatic (god damn shrills).

I assume this "loudness" button is simply a boost in both ends of the spectrum? I hate EQ, but at low volumes, it does have an effect of fattening the sound and bringing the vocals forward which I dislike but understand how some people might.
 
May 13, 2002 at 4:23 PM Post #3 of 4

phidauex

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Your ear's frequency response is VERY different depending on the level! This is a critical aspect of live room equalization.

When something gets softer, your response to high and low frequencies gets dramatically less. So when you measure the SPL or frequency response to a room, you have to compensate for that disparity. There are several weighted curves that were developed in the 30s by Fletcher and Munson at Bell Labs. This is an image of the three main curves.

Image3.gif


When you measure SPL or frequency response, you must take into account these variations. At very loud levels, you use the C-weighted curve, which is nearly flat. At soft levels, you use the A-weighted curve, which reflects our lack of response in the bass and high frequencies. If you measured frequency response with a flat weight, or something like a C-weight, but at a low volume, it would not correspond to what you are actually hearing.

There are many people who run pink noise through their system, and then use a little spectrum analyzer at the listening spot and fine tune the eq to make it display a perfectly flat curve. This is WRONG and will produce an inaccurate frequency response! Many analyzers meant for audio have weighting curves built in. At lower levels, you can select the A curve, and have it automatically compensate, and change the display to match what your ears are actually hearing, letting you make correct adjustments.

If I listen to headphones at a lower level than someone else, I will precieve comparatively less bass and high frequency response, where they will report comparatively MORE response in those regions. This is due simply to the design of your ear, and doesn't even take into account the changes in response with level of the actual headphone.

Anyway, its complex, but I hope that helps answer your question!

Peace,
PHidauex
 
May 13, 2002 at 4:27 PM Post #4 of 4

phidauex

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Another little note:

The 'loudness' button that many players have (my NAD integrated amp has one) put a frequency boost in the low and high frequencies that is intended to counteract this weighting. So at low levels, the 'loudness' button makes the true frequency response overly strong in the bass and highs, but makes it sound more flat to your ears. At high levels, the loudness button makes things sound worse, because your ear's flatter response reveals the true frequency response as being too great in the bass and highs.

peace,
phidauex
 

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