I spent several weeks to develop this EQ preset for Sennheiser HD800
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qyy920

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Hi all.
I've had my HD800 for several years but only started to try EQ since last year. The reason is I did not want to EQ with only subjective feedback. I need something to generate instantaneous, objective feedback aside from my ears.

As we know the HD800 is famous for its infamous high frequency peaks. It is necessary to use EQ whenever I listen to HD800 - I literally could not stand the original sound signature. But I couldn't EQ it properly which lead me to listen more to my speakers.

So I eventually got my headphone test jig last year and everything becomes fun since then.

Things I use:

-RME-ADI2 as the DAC + Headphone Amp;
-Fabfilter Pro-Q for EQ;
-REW for measurement;
-Audio Hijack to reroute the audio from REW (the test signal) to Fabfilter;
-HD800, serial number 01236 (early manufacture);
-MiniDSP EARS test Jig.

RME ADI-2 has some of the lowest distortion in the industry so I'm pretty sure what I got out from my HD800 is going to be close to what you hear(not the same since our HD800 are after all, different pair of headphones), unless your DAC/AMP's Frequency Response deviates from RME too much.

What I did was:
  1. Generate measurement result with REW;
  2. Compare it with Harman Target Curve;
  3. Sets the frequency and estimated magnitude of each adjusting point;
  4. Generate measurement Result after EQ;
  5. (Repeat step 2-4);
  6. Once the output of the EQed Headphone is close to the target curve, start subjective tuning;
  7. Adjust the frequency, magnitude and Q level of each adjusting point, trying to find the best preference of each adjusting point;
  8. Once the EQed headphone sound as pleasing as it could get, run the measurement again;(we get preset V1 here)
  9. Now use this "pleasing target curve" - which is close but not identical to the universal Harman target curve - as the new target curve;
  10. Create a set of new adjusting point, this time targeting the new curve generated in step 8;
  11. Trying to use minimum number of setpoints to achieve the same target curve (as we know, less is more)
  12. (Now you could see why it took me so long - A target curve can be roughly achieved by infinite combination of adjustment;
  13. After the new target curve is roughly reached with less number of adjusting point, do step 6-8;(we get preset V2 here)
  14. Compare preset V2 to V1, if V1 sounds better, repeat step 9-13; if V2 sounds better, repeat step 9-13 but this time, use V2 as target curve instead of V1;
  15. Repeat 9-14 until I couldn't make the preset sounds any better, and could not reduce the number of adjusting point anymore, we get the final preset Vn.
This process took me several weeks as the critical listening part could be difficult - you could only focus on analysing the sound for a limited duration.

I've been using the final preset for a while and it just sounds better than any other EQ (for HD800) I've created or found online.

I've incorporated the EQ into 2 test track which can be downloaded here:

Male Vocal with natural instruments:
Before EQ: Roadhouses & Automobiles
After EQ: Roadhouses & Automobiles - EQ
Synthesizer with symphony orchestra:
Before EQ: Main theme from Pacific Rim
After EQ: Main theme from Pacific Rim - EQ
Femel Vocal with synthesized&natural instruments:
Before EQ: Glem ikkje - Kari Bremnes
After EQ: Glem ikkje - Kari Bremnes - EQ

HD800 owners could immediately tell the difference between the 2 tracks. Please don't try the EQed tracks on other headphone/IEMs, they would only make things worse.

As Fabfilter is not opensource and actually quite expensive to purchase, I would not post the preset file here (Fabfilter use their own file format), to prevent any allegation as if I'm promoting this software. If you happen to have fabfilter and want the preset file, please PM me and I'll send privately.

If you're interested to try more tracks please upload and post the link here, and I'll incorporate the preset so you could compare with your favourite music.

Please let me know what you feel about the effect of this EQ preset.

Measurement of the right channel of my HD800 without EQ (Red) and with the final preset (Green).

Screen Shot 2020-07-13 at 1.45.35 pm.png
 
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qyy920

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P.S. The greatest difference emerges when you listen to the EQed version with maximum volume you could take, and switch back to the original tracks. This is when you would really feel the harshness of HD800 - with the original track.
P.S.2. What works for me might not for others. My taste of playback devices are natural, neutral sound. I tuned my HD800 based on my experience learning instrument (violin) and attended orchestra performance in youth. It might not be an "ideal" tuning for all music genre, let alone all other people. But I've found it works very well for me on all music genre since I arrived at this preset.
 
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