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How to compare headphones?

  1. TheWhiteMan
    I really hope that this forum is good and I will not see something like "GO AND LISTEN TO THEM IRL" instead do me a favor and leave this thread. Only tech specifications and personal experience / opinion.

    I though that I found my dream web site - http://www.rtings.com/headphones. You can find everything from frequency response to ear temperature after wearing headphones (breathability) in addition you get fabulous filtering system but...looks like at least some measurements do not correspond reality.

    So I was looking for new headphones, found : Beyerdynamic DT 770 (32,250,600), audio technica m50x and m40x.
    Here is reviews that I found :
    http://www.rtings.com/headphones/reviews/audio-technica/ath-m40x-professional-monitor
    http://www.rtings.com/headphones/reviews/audio-technica/ath-m50x-professional-monitor
    http://www.rtings.com/headphones/reviews/beyerdynamic/dt-770 250om

    On rtings it is listed that M50x beats m40x in every aspect and that M50x beats DT 770 in sounds stage.
    I found out that a lot of people saying that m40x is way better then m50x and also that M50x do not have any soundstage compared to DT 770 (so do I after listening to demos), frequency response seems to differ from site to site (yes, I know that everybody uses different mics etc.).


    Measurements :

    Innerfidelity
    https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AudioTechnicaATHM50x.pdf
    https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/BeyerdynamicDT770.pdf 600om

    Headroom
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Sound Demos :





    So my questions: how to compare headphones (soundstage, imaging etc), what are your experience with rtings and m50x, m40x, 770(all variants) in particular.

    Feel free to recommend closed (only closed), around 200, flat ( boost in bass as 770 is good / ok, but I'm not looking for beats) no sibilance allowed (heard from people that 770 can be high in highs for some people) with great imaging and relatively wide soundstage for closed cans. Thank you for your time.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017
  2. FumblingFoo
    The only pair of headphones out of those three I have tried are the M50x's. I can vouch that they do not have very much in the way of soundstage. These are very detailed but flat headphones, true to their character as studio monitors. They also have quite a lot of bass, very authoritative, which does encroach upon the mids at first but as they burn in does less so. The lower mids are very natural, but the upper mids are a bit tinny and have a bit of bite to them. Maybe its a bit more accurate to say that vocals can sound a bit nasal. The treble has great detail and sparkles but I wouldn't call them sibilant like the Beyerdynamic T90's can be.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017
  3. cossix
    The best way to compare is to try a bunch of geadphones, form your own opinions, and then find a reviewer who shares similar likes/dislikes as you. Then you can trust their opinion on gear you haven't heard yet
     
  4. FumblingFoo
  5. buke9
    Well you started out saying if you say you have to hear them to decide please leave the thread and you only want technical specs and graphs and personal experience and opinions but you have found the graphs to be wrong by people saying they like the 40's better than the 50's as opposed to graph response. I think the graphs will get you in the ballpark of a frequency response your looking for but can not tell you how they sound. I might be wrong but I have not seen a measurement for soundstage or image separation and detail. I've heard others say this or that is great with detail but have yet to see a graph to show what headphone has the greatest amount of detail I could be wrong but have yet to see it. You can go by graphs and impressions and might find some that you like but listening is the one and only test. Some people hate beets and asparagus and they are my two favorites and some like laid back headphone and others more on the bright side so reviews and impressions are what they are someone's take on what they hear.
     
    BunnyNamedCraig likes this.
  6. FumblingFoo
    +1
     
  7. GREQ
    Other factors that affect how you compare a headphone include:

    • What headphone you were using previously
    - Since your brain has adusted to it's sound signature (analogous to the way your eyes adjust to the light intensity going indoors or outdoors) and going to another headphone could sound ugly at first, like walking outdoors into bright daylight.
    • Time
    - This includes, time of day - a huge factor people forget. Your brain actually turns your ear sensitivity down hugely during sleep, and does not reach full sensitivity for a couple of hours after waking up.
    - How long you have the headphone - take time to visit it, revisit other familiar headphones and then go back to it over the course of days, or weeks preferably.
    • Expectation bias
    - More expensive means it's better.... right?........ RIGHT??? ..... you get the point.
    • Volume
    - Some people review their headphones at normal human volumes, some people like to preserve their hearing and review a bit quieter, and some people review headphones through a nuclear reactor do drown out the tinnitus.
    - Volume of the headphone WILL change your perception of the frequency response. Generally V-shaped signatures sound excellent at very low volumes, and warm signatures (slightly bass heavy, slightly treble recessed) tend to sound richer at louder volumes.
    - The reason for this, is that at lower volumes your ear's sensitivity or perception of bass is lower.
    - Search for "equal loudness contour"

    And most importantly, graphs, measurements, data, statistics etc can never be fully trusted.
    You simply cannot know how a headphone will sound from the data alone.
    The data can't tell you if the headphone imparts it's own unique timbre (most of them do) due to the various materials they are made of.

    This.
    Because - go out and hear as many headphones as you can. It's the only real way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
    BunnyNamedCraig and FumblingFoo like this.
  8. vkalia
    The day you can figure how to identify a perfect headphone by its response curve is the day you start making a lot of money in this industry.
     
  9. GREQ
    Oh yeah, forgot to mention that subtle differences in human anatomy also mean that our ear lobes and canals attenuate different frequencies.
    So nobody hears the same, so it's impossible to create one headphone for everyone.
     
  10. BunnyNamedCraig
    +1 with what everyone said ha. I like the idea of seeing if a reviewer has similar tastes as you and then being able to gauge your taste versus their taste. I do that with Tyll. I feel like I have a decent understanding of what he likes now after countless videos and also my own opinions of a headphone versus his. If he says "its too sharp" and I don't think its "that sharp" then I have a gauge. But yeah- listening to a bunch of lower to midfi cans and focusing on everything your interested in would help you tremendously. At least it did for me...
     

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