Help - Headphone for Mastering & Monitoring
Jan 28, 2021 at 11:00 PM Post #17 of 54

PurpleAngel

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Don't you own one?
Or is your profile inventory outdated?
My MDR-V6's are somewhere (for years now) buried in a box.
Once I got my Audio Technica ATH-ESW9, they replaced my MDR-V6 as my preferred portable headphones.
 
Jan 29, 2021 at 3:19 AM Post #18 of 54

ADUHF

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The reason I initially focused on those two expensive phones (the LCD-X and the HD800) is that the so called remastering I do, isn't of musical recordings but of private field recordings - lectures, lessons, or old souvenir recordings of this type. These recordings are usually veiled or otherwise unclear, and I'd really like to make sure I remove all the interfering noise and make it sound as clear as possible. This is why I thought I need a neutral and revealing headphone. Other than that, I also transcribe recordings, which I guess also calls for a detailed SQ.

I would think that a neutral to neutral-bright headphone with low distortion that is well-extended in the treble would be good for something like this. A closed headphone with decent isolation might also help to filter out the influence of ambient noise on your editing decisions. But may be somewhat less true to the way the final content might sound over actual loudspeakers, if that is an important consideration.

Listening on more than one type of transducer is usually best for something like this. So maybe one open and one closed pair of headphones. An IEM, or two. And maybe also a pair of near-field monitors would be good, if you have the space and $$ for that.

Presumably you will also be using some hardware or software analyzers to help with your spectral analysis, to compliment and enhance the listening tests.

I currently have a $850 offer for a mint LCD-X, which is quite tempting, but I'm worried about its weight. I remember I was discouraged by the weight of an LCD-2 when I auditioned it.

The plots of the LCD-X's frequency response are somewhat inconsistent. Making it somewhat difficult to assess its worthiness for this type of application. Some of the plots look fairly decent. While others, such as this one, seem to show a fairly pronounced depression in the upper midrange (which would be fatal for accurate sound assessment imo)...

https://headphonedatabase.com/oratory?ids=71
 
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Jan 29, 2021 at 5:20 AM Post #19 of 54

tbger99

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Thank you, ADUHF. You gave me helpful ideas to think about.

I've been considering near-field monitors as you advice, and have found that the JBL Control 1 should be a good option, as they (supposedly) have quite a balanced response, and are cheap. Since I'm all new to the area of speakers \ monitors, would you please tell me if I'm going to need a dedicated amplifier (or a pre-amplifier ?) to drive these correctly, or could I just use a home receiver for that ?

As a side note, anyone knows if it's technically correct to use an equalizer for headphones ? I don't mean making them sound significantly different, but to gently make just subtle diminishing of volume in certain frequencies. I thought this might be a way to recess the HD800's 6 kHz spike (without having to make modifications to them, which I don't want).
 
Jan 29, 2021 at 3:05 PM Post #20 of 54

ADUHF

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For a somehat different take on the LCD-X, you might take a look at this somehat older article and video by Tyll Hertsens, formerly of Inner Fidelity. It is always good to look at different sources and reviews. There are few people as knowledgeable in the subject of headphones though as Mr. H...

https://www.stereophile.com/content/audeze-lcd-x-fazor-and-fresh-listen-current-lcd-2-and-lcd-3


Tyll's Frequency Response plot of the LCD-X does not appear as badly depressed in the upper mids as the previous plot by Oratory that I posted above. Two views of his graphs...

https://www.stereophile.com/images/AudezeLCDXSN7454971.pdf
https://github.com/jaakkopasanen/AutoEq/tree/master/results/innerfidelity/innerfidelity_harman_over-ear_2018/Audeze LCD-X

Tyll actually measured several different units of the LCD-X, and here are his other plots as well...

https://github.com/jaakkopasanen/AutoEq/tree/master/results/innerfidelity/innerfidelity_harman_over-ear_2018/Audeze LCD-X (sample 3)
https://github.com/jaakkopasanen/AutoEq/tree/master/results/innerfidelity/innerfidelity_harman_over-ear_2018/Audeze LCD-X (serial number 7454971)
https://github.com/jaakkopasanen/AutoEq/tree/master/results/innerfidelity/innerfidelity_harman_over-ear_2018/Audeze LCD-X (serial number 7456406)

Fyi, Audeze has often in the past made updates to their products without making changes to the model number. So it isn't necessarily surprising to see some differences in the measurements between older and newer units of the same model within their lineup.
 
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Jan 29, 2021 at 3:17 PM Post #21 of 54

ADUHF

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Thank you, ADUHF. You gave me helpful ideas to think about.

I've been considering near-field monitors as you advice, and have found that the JBL Control 1 should be a good option, as they (supposedly) have quite a balanced response, and are cheap. Since I'm all new to the area of speakers \ monitors, would you please tell me if I'm going to need a dedicated amplifier (or a pre-amplifier ?) to drive these correctly, or could I just use a home receiver for that ?

The JBL Control 1 appears to be a passive unpowered speaker. So they would need a separate amp. A home receiver or AVR would probably work ok, as long as it is within the speakers' power handling tolerance. Whether that would be the best solution for your needs though, I don't really know.
 
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Jan 29, 2021 at 3:23 PM Post #22 of 54

ADUHF

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As a side note, anyone knows if it's technically correct to use an equalizer for headphones ? I don't mean making them sound significantly different, but to gently make just subtle diminishing of volume in certain frequencies. I thought this might be a way to recess the HD800's 6 kHz spike (without having to make modifications to them, which I don't want).

Fwiw, I use equalization with all my headphones to make corrections to their frequency response, and also to tweak the tonal balance more to my particular taste for the music I'm listening to.
 
Jan 30, 2021 at 4:19 PM Post #24 of 54

ADUHF

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Thank you very much for all your input. It's helped me a lot !

Well, I'm sorry I can't just point you to something specific that will do what you need. The headphones that you're mostly looking at are out of my price range though. So that's why I can only offer some general-ish advice.

Regarding equalization, are you talking about an external analog equalizer, or a PC based one ?

I've used both with my headphones. And either approach can work effectively, if they're correctly set up. Software and other amp- or player-based solutions (including player-based apps) seem to be by far the preference though these days to the old hardware-based graphic EQs, because they're so much more flexible and less cumbersome to work with, particularly for portable use. There is less potential for the introduction of noise with the software-based solutions as well.

The software-based solutions do require some resampling of the audio data, which can be a potentially lossy process. I haven't heard too many complaints about this though. And as long as it's done at higher bit rates and depths, the loss should be minimal, and probably inaudible to all but a few folk with golden ears. I haven't really dug into all the technical details on it though.

Pickier listeners seem to prefer the parametric software EQs over the graphic/fixed-band style software EQs though. Perhaps because they sound a little smoother. I'm not sure there's really a big difference though. Especially when you have the ability to control the quantity and frequency of the bands used on the latter, which is definitely possible with some of the better software-based EQs. The parametric controls allow you to smoothly adjust a wider range of frequencies with only a few simple controls though. Which many seem to find easier than a fixed-band approach.

There are some hardware-based EQs which are becoming a bit popular with some audiophiles as well, like the Schiit Loki. The Loki has only 4 bands though. So it is more like a high-quality tone controller, with bass, midrange and treble controls.

Tone controls can also be quite useful btw, especially for making on-the-fly adjustments for different types of music content. I used that approach quite a bit with my old AKG K553's, and liked it quite alot. Though it didn't offer the same level of control as a full-on EQ did. After awhile though, I got tired of fiddling with all the different frequency bands on a graphic EQ, and just wanted something simpler and easier to use, that was less of a hassle to work with.
 
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Feb 8, 2021 at 7:54 PM Post #25 of 54

ADUHF

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I apologize for not posting this sooner, tbger99. But there are some very good 3rd party graphs of the frequency response for different loudspeakers on this site, which could allow you to more easily compare their neutrality, and both on and off-axis performance...

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?pages/SpeakerTestData/

Amir, who does most of the "spinorama" plots there, really seems to know his stuff. And there are measurements for speakers in a wide variety of price ranges as well. (So not just the uber expensive stuff.)

The site also maintains a ranking list of speaker preferences. Though I'm not sure exactly how those scores are derived. You can get to those rankings though by selecting "Speaker Rankings" at the top of the Speaker Review Indexer. Both indexs have a scrollbar on the right side, so you can scroll down the list to see more speakers.
 
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Feb 9, 2021 at 6:44 AM Post #26 of 54

tbger99

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Highly appreciated ! - I've spent some time reading the reviews there, and it has quite changed my mind about the speakers I mentioned above, and probably has also saved me money, thank you for that !

Based on Amir's reviews (which like you said, show he knows what he's talking about well enough, as his professional background would suggest), I think the JBL 306P Mkii would be a better option for my need of monitoring.

I've decided to try an EQ program and downloaded the one mentioned here in your signature, and I'm quite happy with it so far. Among the rest, one of the things I'm yet too ignorant about, is the (audible) distortion the EQ sometimes causes. I'd really like to know what causes that, and how and when I could prevent it from happening. I guess it depends on the capabilities of the headphone itself. I'm doubfull however as to whether it also depends on the manipulated frequency - i.e., is it more likely occur on a certain area of the spectrum (in all/most headphones), or does it all go down to the headphone potential. I've purchased a pair of HD800 from someone here, and I'm planning to try boosting their bass response (which I remember is tight but also too light), as well as the known 5.5khz peak.

Once again, thanks a lot for your input.


Roy
 
Feb 9, 2021 at 11:36 PM Post #27 of 54

ADUHF

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Highly appreciated ! - I've spent some time reading the reviews there, and it has quite changed my mind about the speakers I mentioned above, and probably has also saved me money, thank you for that !

Based on Amir's reviews (which like you said, show he knows what he's talking about well enough, as his professional background would suggest), I think the JBL 306P Mkii would be a better option for my need of monitoring.

I don't know a whole lot about speakers. Just what I've picked up here and there over the years, from talking to folks at pro audio shops, and listening to some of their monitors. And reading something about the frequency responses in technical papers. I looked at the review of the JBL 306P, and read some of the comments though. And they seem like one of the better options in their price range, for active monitors. There are a couple things I'd point out though...

The first is the presence of "hiss", "sizzle", or "buzzing", aka self-noise in most active/amplified speakers. The source of the hiss, particularly on the lower-end models, is the Class D amp used to drive the tweeters. And it is usually constant. Sometimes it can be reduced by turning down the speaker's gain control. And sometimes not. Also, it may be somewhat less noticeable with the speaker positioned at greater distances. Some high frequency damping in the room may also help some. But I'm less sure about that.

I mention this, because there were a few comments in the 306P topic regarding this issue. So it might be something to look into further. This is not generally as big an issue with passive monitors that need a separate amp.

There is a rather dubious list comparing the self-noise of different active monitor brands in the first post of this topic...

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/hiss-list-s-r.18050/
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?attachments/1607721865917-png.98569/

But it doesn't go into any real detail, or attempt to break things down by model. So not really much help. Because mfrs. won't use the same electronics in all of their equipment. And the amount of hiss should vary at least somewhat within their different product offerings.

There were also some comments regarding distortion in the 306P's lower frequencies. But they appear to be fairly confined in frequency, so may not be that noticeable. A couple people pointed this out though as a potential downside when questions arose about the speaker's fitness for use as studio monitors. My takeaway from those comments is that these monitors may be ok for a lower-cost home setup. But probably not acceptable in terms of distortion for more professional applications in an actual studio.

Frequency response and directivity looks pretty good though, for such a low cost model.

Another thing to consider with powered monitors is the durability and longevity of the built-in amps. Because the speakers will likely become unusable if those fail, unlike with a passive monitor that has no amplification built-in. I think if you take care of them though, they should last awhile. I've never owned anything by JBL. But they seem to have a fairly good rep for their loudspeakers. They are probably made in China though. So you might want to factor that into the equation as well.

They are affordable enough though, that it wouldn't be a major expense to replace them. And (if you do decide to get them), maybe after a few years of use, you'll want to upgrade to something a little better. An extended warranty, esp. one that includes full replacement for any defects, might also be worth considering though, if that's an option.

You also want to make sure that they have the types of inputs you can use. It looks like this particular model only has balanced XLR or 1/4" pro audio inputs, for example. Which might require some type of an interface for your PC. That's something else you should factor into the cost. Other models may also include unbalanced RCA inputs, which could allow somewhat better compatibility with home audio gear. And also digital inputs that could interface directly with a computer (though the offerings in this particular category appear to be rather limited, and more $$).
 
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Feb 10, 2021 at 12:06 AM Post #28 of 54

ADUHF

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I've decided to try an EQ program and downloaded the one mentioned here in your signature, and I'm quite happy with it so far. Among the rest, one of the things I'm yet too ignorant about, is the (audible) distortion the EQ sometimes causes. I'd really like to know what causes that, and how and when I could prevent it from happening. I guess it depends on the capabilities of the headphone itself. I'm doubfull however as to whether it also depends on the manipulated frequency - i.e., is it more likely occur on a certain area of the spectrum (in all/most headphones), or does it all go down to the headphone potential. I've purchased a pair of HD800 from someone here, and I'm planning to try boosting their bass response (which I remember is tight but also too light), as well as the known 5.5khz peak.

This is still somethin I'm trying to better understand myself. First thing you should probably do is make sure that your overall gain/preamp levels are set low enough so that no clipping occurs at any frequency. If you are using Equalizer APO's built-in Configuration Editor, you can see the combined output levels of all your filters in the Analysis Panel...

ANALYSISPANEL.jpg


The Peak Gain shown above in red, should not exceed 0 dB. Otherwise clipping and distortion can potentially occur in the louder musical passages. The overall gain can be controlled by a Preamp Filter (which is also part of the default config that comes up, when you first load the program).

PREAMP.jpg


In the above example, the Preamp needs to be lowered at least -6.1 dB to avoid clipping.

PREAMP2.jpg


After making that adjustment, the Analysis panel should no longer be showing a Peak Gain above 0 dB. So no more red stuff...

ANALYSISPANEL2.jpg


If you're using only one Graphic EQ filter in your Equalizer APO config, then the peak gain level (and preamp adjustment needed to compensate for it) should be determined by highest frequency setting on your Graphic EQ curve. And one other way to deal with that is to simply adjust all the points in your curve so they're all below 0 dB on the graph.

You can do that by simply selecting all the points on the graph, and moving them lower with the arrow keys on your keyboard. Or by using the "Normalize" shortcut in the tools underneath the Points List on the right side of the Graphic EQ window...

The last method of moving points is with the numeric inputs in the Points List on the right hand side of the graph window. Make sure though that your decibel levels are reasonable before you hit return to accept them. Frequencies are on the left and dBs are on the right...



There are also a couple different tools you can use to quickly make some changes to all the points on the graph at once, which are located at the bottom of the Points List...



The first two icons on the left will import or export your list of points to a CSV file (whatever that is). And the other three icons will perform the following actions...

1) Invert your curve in the vertical axis. (I don't recommend using this feature in Instant Mode.)

2) Transpose (aka normalize) your curve so the points are all below 0 dB. This can potentially eliminate the need for a Preamp adjustment, to prevent audio from being clipped at certain frequencies. If you're using other filters than just the Graphic EQ though, then a negative Gain in the Preamp may still be advisable to prevent clipping.

3) Flatten all points on the curve to 0 dBs.

As indicated in my excerpt above though, the gain adjustments will add together when using multiple filters. So if you're using more than one, then the Peak Gain of all of them could be either higher, or lower than the highest level on your Graphic EQ graph... Hence the need for a preview, such as the Analysis Panel, which shows the combined filter output levels on one graph.

There are more tips on using Equalizer APO's Configuration Editor and Graphic EQ filter here btw.

https://www.head-fi.org/threads/equalizer-apo-questions-discussion.953410/

These features in Equalizer APO do not require either the Room EQ Wizard or the Peace interface add-ons btw. (Neither of which are installed on my PC.)
 
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Feb 10, 2021 at 12:26 AM Post #29 of 54

ADUHF

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I've decided to try an EQ program and downloaded the one mentioned here in your signature, and I'm quite happy with it so far. Among the rest, one of the things I'm yet too ignorant about, is the (audible) distortion the EQ sometimes causes. I'd really like to know what causes that, and how and when I could prevent it from happening. I guess it depends on the capabilities of the headphone itself. I'm doubfull however as to whether it also depends on the manipulated frequency - i.e., is it more likely occur on a certain area of the spectrum (in all/most headphones), or does it all go down to the headphone potential. I've purchased a pair of HD800 from someone here, and I'm planning to try boosting their bass response (which I remember is tight but also too light), as well as the known 5.5khz peak.

Open back headphones are also limited in terms their gain potential and EQ-ability in the lower frequencies, due to certain physical limitations in their design. Since they are open, they can't maintain as much pressure inside the earcups to produce sub-bass frequencies as well as closed-back headphones can. So if you try to raise the levels too much in the sub-bass, the sound in the lower frequencies and midrange on open headphones will just begin to distort.

You also cannot simply flip/invert the compensated frequency response curve of headphone, and automatically use that as your EQ curve. Because it can potentially introduce large spikes at very narrow bandwidths into the response, which is never a good thing. When you flip an FR curve, any notches or depressions in its response suddenly transform into peaks. Sometimes quite large ones, which can potentially be damaging to your hearing.

Large changes in volume over small bandwidths should always be avoided. As a general rule, smoother curves are almost always more desirable, and will usually deliver the best results.

Sometimes the dips or depressions in a headphone's frequency response will also coincide with a bad spike in their distortion. And raising the volume in those areas with an EQ will also make the distortion more audible as well.
 
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