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Headphones fast and slow

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by charlesc, Sep 13, 2014.
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  1. bigshot
    With a good set of headphones and a little judicious equalization you can get close enough to flat for human ears.
    Again... look at the thresholds of human perception. Human sensitivity to frequency response imbalances is between .5 and 1 dB with tones. But under music, it's more like 3 dB. The narrower the Q of the imbalance, the less important it is. Knowing this, it's not at all difficult to take a good set on headphones and tweak them to be audibly flat. People get way too hung up on splitting the atom. Sound Science is made up of everyday principles not nuclear fission. It isn't hard to get good sound for a reasonable price. It's a lot harder to do that by following vague reviews and constantly upgrading equipment that doesn't need upgrading.
  2. castleofargh Contributor
    history! always so accurate it can disprove science.
    the slight problem with arguing that science is still missing a lot about sound and will surely be proved wrong in 75years, is that you take sound knowledge for what it looks like to audiophiles. the tiny little problem is that audiophiles usually don't know anything about sound, or any of the areas required to build an entire audio system. and about the 75years from now, well, a lot of the ideas we still use today are that old already. and if they're perfected or replaced by new more efficient/cheap ways, they're still waiting to be proved wrong.
    most of the discussion here comes from how wrong the title of the topic is. after several pages some still weren't sure what decay we were talking about. the idea of a fast headphone is simply wrong, or at least the way to say it, is. so we're here arguing about the perception of decay from the headphone resonance, when the only way to accurately affect that decay without changing anything else on a headphone, is to add some kind of reverb in the original signal. making us actually listening to the "other" decay we could have talked about.
    and there isn't a consensus right now probably because of how hard it would be to experiment. it would pretty much mean to control the impulse response without affecting the FR or the quantity of distortion. not a simple matter to experiment on.
    same with "can it be heard or not", it's a false question as there will always be a point where a decays will last long enough and be loud enough to be heard. the question is about what value should matter?
    also vid is not wrong, it's not instant science because it's written in the sound science section. most of what we all wrote here is massively linked to subjectivity, with all the uncertainty and statistical averaging that it implies.
    one thing we all know is that faster transient/better damping will lead to measurably better fidelity in the signal(as long as that doesn't force the bass response to roll off). past that, when is it audible for the average schmuck? no idea. the information posted about masking delays is certainly an interesting lead in my opinion.
    from the headphones I've heard with measurements I could look at, it seems like a driver strongly overshooting was what gave me the most feeling of fast decay, that's why I talked about the difference between the first signal and the decay itself, in DB, rather than how long the decay did last.
  3. bigshot
    We've have over a century of experience in sound reproduction under our belts now, and in that time we've created the light bulb, split the atom, put a man on the moon and created the internet too. I would think that it is bordering on the absurd to suggest that there are primary principles of sound reproduction that we don't understand yet. But folks cling so hard to their misconceptions they utter completely absurd things without even realizing the absurdity of it.
  4. Roly1650
    Pretty much the same as your posts then.

    You've been given the results of scientific studies, which you subsequently characterized as "speculation" and now class as "vague". The studies haven't been refuted, so hardly vague or speculation. You want to dismiss the science because it doesn't fit your position, write another study refuting the current knowledge base. Then your problem is solved.

    bigshot has the helm and I'd say he's doing a pretty fair job of it.

    It wasn't you specifically who bothered me, just one too many times seeing the same old claptrap.

    I don't intend to wade through the hack article you linked to, but it's fairly obvious the writer hasn't done his homework. Just a couple of examples, because that's all it's worth. Geocentricity was the teaching of the religions of the time. As I've already explained, the Greeks had a fair idea the solar system was heliocentric, aeons before the birth of Christ. It's a bit rich to slam science for knowledge suppressed by various churches for centuries, don't you think? Same with alchemy, a product of the dark ages as a result of the religious mores of the time.
    If this is the kind of article you're absorbing your view of science from, then all I can say is good luck.

    Do you really want me to believe that after 18 years of education you felt you knew it all because your educators told you so? Must have been one hell of a shock to your system! Or have I misunderstood? Or is it some conspiracy of the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned us of, ha ha.

    I'm pretty sure you're posting to this forum using some form of computing device, so I have to guess you want to cherry pick what you will and won't accept as science, even the cold stone certain parts.

    Anyway, enough off topic, I've had my rant.
  5. Redcarmoose

    I made my original post with the term perception of speed. I have no way to understand how an amp works and don't try to act like I do. My personal history was that I waited a year to start changing power cords from using regular computer power cords. I heard changes in the sound that sounded like a more detailed highly responsive amp.

    It was something to do with how my main system responded to new RCA interconnects and power cords. That is all I know. Of course it could be placebo, I am not arguing that fact. I'm totally aware of the power of placebo on the perception of sound. From a purely listening standpoint the cables could have removed lower end distortions and lower mid distortions opening up the mids to a detail that was only perceived as fast.

    I'm not anti-science or anti-education or anti-capitalist in any way. Again I'm just pointing out that certain beliefs change in the scientific community. For what ever reason you sound like you believe science has never had a wrong belief and is correct 100% of the time and always has been.

    I am actually in complete amazement of science and our achievements in the last 100 years. Who would not be? The point I'm making has to do with attitude and the complete arrogance in the scientific community at large. Note this concept here at Head-Fi and in the scientific community in general, especially when certain beliefs can not be proven with current scientific method. In truth, much of the understandings in this thread which are stated as fact will be different 100 years from now. This thread will read like a science book from the 1950s showing only the current understandings and arrogance with their reality.

    True science is always trying to prove itself wrong because at that point it is closer to understanding the true nature and inner-workings of the universe.
  6. Head Injury
    Science does not try to prove itself wrong. It tries to find the simplest, most consistent truth behind reality. The end goal is to have the true nature of the universe in hand, but it does not actively try to throw everything out the window when it takes a step closer. There are theories and laws which have proven to be very good at describing the universe, and they are only abandoned or altered under significant evidence of flaws. Relativity, for example, only superseded Newtonian physics because it explained things Newton couldn't, and did so in a way that was consistent with measured and repeated observations. Don't expect to wake up one morning to be told that gravity is an illusion, or that water molecules aren't made up of two hydrogen and one oxygen atom.
    Electricity is very well understood, and that understanding forms the basis of all modern living that surrounds you. Science is not going to throw it out the window because audiophiles swear their power cables make their headphones sound faster, a perception without any empirical evidence to back it up, that disappears when separated from sighted observations, that is much more easily explained by another thoroughly studied aspect of psychology. What's more likely, that what we know about electricity is fundamentally flawed and the ears of select individuals in uncontrolled and sighted environments is the only thing sensitive enough to notice the problem, or your brain works like everyone else's?
    You're chasing a major logical fallacy. Just because science has been and will be wrong does not mean it's wrong now and that your argument or subjective impressions have any merit whatsoever. It'll take a lot more to overhaul this theory.
  7. bigshot
    That's kind of like saying "I started keeping my car keys in my left pocket instead of my right and I immediately noticed that my car was able to drive further on a single tank of gas."
  8. Grave
    Some headphones sound slower than others to me but I do not think that it is because they are literally slower. It is just a sound signature thing which I assume is not measurable. e.g. the HD 650's are so smooth that they sound slow but they are not actually bad with fast paced music. Does this seem like a reasonable opinion?
  9. bigshot
    Everything in sound is measurable. It's a result of frequency response differences
  10. Grave
    They sound smooth no matter what you do with the FR. . . been screwing around with those for years.
  11. money4me247 Contributor
    I mean that there is no such thing as an "universal audiophile neutral." It is also impossible for headphones not to have any coloration. Even the experts in the headphone design industry agree on this. Their goal is to make headphones that sound the most natural and realistic... They are guided by frequency response measurements, but that is not the end-goal. There is no frequency response curve that is accepted as the 100% transparent and neutral as even the flatness of the curves you see online are derived by applying A-weighting (which is an imperfect formula to compensate for the different sensitivities of human hearing towards various frequencies). That means even a perfectly flat frequency response seen on an A-weighted frequency response curve actually contains coloration, and that different people will hear this frequency response curve slightly differently due to variations of hearing sensitivity, ear shape, and stereocilia. Frequency response curves that you might be playing with and try to flatten may not even be A-weighted, so you may even be pushing your sound farther away from the "ideal neutral." In fact, you will be surprised on how much variation are present in frequency response curves hypothetically that "looks smooth." If you look at the raw frequency response curve or the frequency response at a smaller vertical scale, you will realize that this perfectly flat frequency response that you are describing does not exist! lol.
    To base everything just on a single frequency response measurement is very limited and imperfect. It is just applying one data point out of hundreds of other data points that are important. If you go online and look up frequency response curves for a single pair of headphones, you will even find wide variation between measurements!!! That is because there are a variety of different variables that impact the measurements: testing environment, equipment used, microphone placement, headphone position, type of seal achieved, and shape of the "head" used. Also, they all apply different types of compensations to their raw curves. You can do the same measurement but slightly move the headphone position and get a completely different frequency response! Published frequency response curves generally do not have a large enough sample size to be considered a true scientific study. Good as a guideline, but falls short as scientific data if you run a statistical analysis.
    I totally agree with more objective criteria for sound leads to better products and better informed consumers. However, just basing everything off one frequency response curve is very limited and will not give you the total picture. I mean, you have the new $1000+ Oppo flagship. There are lots of headphones at a $100-$200 price range with extremely flat frequency response such as professional monitoring headphones. Why not just get those & EQ it to the Oppo? lol! Tyll actually measured the Oppo's to contain some extreme distortions at certain points in the frequency response, but Oppo stated that they achieved the sound that they wanted & are not chasing measurements. So why would you even go for that pair of headphones if your primary concern is just measurements? There are lots of headphones that measure better than your choice. Many of the modded Fostex T50RP display nicer measurements at a lower price. I would think that you just personally like the sound signature, which should be the final criteria for making any personal purchase!
    It is impossible to EQ a pair of beats into a pair of HD800 or a pair of orthodynamic headphones to sound like dynamic headphones. I mean, seriously, you can try it and see for yourself. Just because two frequency response curves are very similar, does not mean the sound is the same. The sound characteristics of headphones are influenced by the actual physic driver and its abilities, the physical design of the earcups and damping factors, materials used... etc, etc... This is pretty common knowledge and should make a lot of sense for people who concerned with science part of sound. What do you think that audio engineers and headphone designers are spending their R&D money on if making headphones is as simple as measuring a flat frequency response? It is a lot more complicated than that and there is not even a standardized ideal "audiophile neutral" that people can objectively say is the best frequency response curve. The flat curves you see online is an illusion as the real curves all are much more complicated when viewed at higher resolution (smaller vertical scale).
    The end-high headphone manufacturers all have their own unique sound signature derived from a combination of measurements AND listening tests. Frequency response curves are really used in this industry as a guideline, not the end-goal. Most flagships get "close enough" to that hypothetical ideal flat line, and the tune it base on how the headphones sound. All headphones are "colored" (though we usually reserve colored for headphones that deviate significantly away from the ideal neutral) and certain distortions/coloration on a frequency response curve actually sound quite nice. That is why making headphones is so hard! Not because it is hard to tune a driver to make a flat line on a measured frequency response curve. DIY modders can achieve that with the 10 year old T50RP driver. It is because a headphone's sound is more than just frequency response curve measurements. One good guideline and important measurement (if the frequency response curve really sucks, obviously the headphones will really suck), but not as important as you think as most well-reviewed headphones have acceptable measurements.
  12. money4me247 Contributor
    True, everything in sound is measurable. However, frequency response is NOT the measurement of ALL properties of sound. It is simply one measurement of sonic properties.
    I think that should be pretty obvious.
  13. bigshot
    Frequency response, distortion, dynamics, noise and directionality/phase. In modern solid state electronics, it's all pretty much taken care of. With modern transducers Frequency Response and Directionality are the big variables.
  14. money4me247 Contributor
    hahah you are just parroting what you heard in that youtube video.
    Your oppos are open right? Do an experiment. Place your hands over their open grills. 
  15. Rajikaru
    I was wondering about the same thing recently. Here's what I think:
    It depends on how you think about frequency response. Those curves at headphone.com or Inner Fidelity are the result from microphones being placed into some kind of dummy head / measuring device. This takes into account drivers, material resonances, open vs. closed design etc.  So from a certain point of view, frequency response is the headphone's sound. 

    Whether it's possible to EQ a Beats to sound like a STAX Electrostat, I'd say no way.  It may be possible to EQ them so that the curve shape looks similar when represented by a line in a graph (which in itself  isn't easy, at least when you want to be precise about it). But the frequency response curve itself, is not the headphones' sound. Just a over-simplified representation of it - which can say a lot, but not everything about a sound signature.  
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