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IEM FR vs Full size

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by ytcrazytieguy, Oct 14, 2014.
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  1. bigshot
    Well engineered music *is* designed to be played with a flat response. My speaker system is audibly flat and almost all stereo and digital era recordings sound perfectly balanced without having to touch the tone controls. The same is true of most 50s and 60s jazz, and 1950s popular music of all kinds. The area where engineering doesn't follow the standard is in some modern remasterings of 70s rock music, a lot of contemporary pop music and rock... and just about all hip hop and electronica (which have boosted bass). I don't listen to a lot of the problematic music, so I can put my entire media server on random shuffle and hear about two years worth of music that doesn't require any adjustment from flat.
  2. money4me247 Contributor

    lol i love edm and it does sound best w generous amounts of basssssss dubwubwubwub!!!! hahahah
  3. ieee754
    Well engineered EDM could sound bassy even with flat FR, by extending dynamic range. And it would sound much better than EQing bass since only bassy instruments would be pronounced, without making everything else sound muddy (that's why I don't like using bassy headphones with electronic music).
  4. YTCrazyTieGuy
    Lets take a few steps back.
    IMHO the holy grail of sound would be hearing music exactly as the artist wants me to hear it. The sound is part of his performance, so if he wants the vocals to sound like i'm in a tiny bathroom with the vocalist singing softly into my ear, and the rest of the band is playing outside the building, then that is how it should sound. It's the same as him deciding to play a certain note at a certain time, or deciding to have the bass player only play in the chorus. Imagine if you could change the notes an artist plays with something as abstract and inaccurate as picking out a headphone based on online reviews! If this holy grail were achieved and you wouldn't like the sound, it's the same as not liking the performance imo.
    ***Reasons why scientifically finding the best response curve is nearly impossible without listening tests start here (u can skip)***
    There are several barriers to achieving this holy grail, the most relevant of which are the lack of a clear-cut reference reproduction system, and the wide variety of reproduction systems used by music listeners.
    Most people think a speaker that measures flat with no distortion or noise is the reference, but in reality room acoustics make this much less clear-cut. Not only do acoustics add a reverberation that cannot be controlled by the artist, they also add time-dependent frequency response changes, making it impossible for both the direct sound and the room tone to measure flat, or even all of the room tone. Over time, the reproduction systems used for making sound changes to recordings (aka mixing and mastering) have leaned in the direction of slightly boosted bass, and slightly reduced treble, relative to a flat-measuring speaker. I don't claim to exactly know the reasons for this (though I have some guesses), but I don't think they matter much for the sake of this discussion.
    Also, nearly all sound engineers tend to consider the listeners who use low quality reproduction systems such as apple ear buds, and attempt to make minimal sacrifices to the sound on their good reproduction system so that the music can be listened to on bad reproduction systems.
    When you get to headphones, this gets even more complicated, for reasons most of you know, one of the biggest reasons being that headphones bypass our individually shaped heads and bodies, which in real life interact acoustically with everything we hear. with that said, there has been developed an approximate equivalent to a flat measuring set of speakers on headphones, which is called a diffuse field response. Etymotic uses a modified version of this response their target curve. However as I have stated, a flat speaker is not the reference, and there isn't really a reference that everybody acknowledges.
    Another point to consider is that modern recordings don't necessarily have anything to do with how music sounds in concerts, and don't necessarily aim to replicate purely acoustic things.
    ***Reasons ... nearly impossible ... end here***
    With all of these factors considered, it is pretty impossible to scientifically find a target response for headphones.
    So, the next best thing IMHO (and that of Sean Olive) is to assume that most peoples' concept of what sounds good matches how most artists want their recordings to sound (a pretty good assumption considering artists generally want to please their listeners), and perform listening tests to find what curve is most enjoyable on headphones. This is what I meant by my previous comment.
    Sorry for the long post, just wanted to make my opinion as clear as possible.
    Edit: Please correct me if I made mistakes in my reasoning.
  5. Dark_wizzie
    Well... from my understanding, most producers make music they way they want it to sound based off of studio monitors in a treated room. Because that is their reference, that should be our reference ideally. The experience of studio monitors in a treated room is so different from that of headphones though.
  6. Sweden
    This is my experience as well. A higher elevated bass in in-ears don't sound as unbalanced as it does with over-ears. The thing with most in-ears that measure totally flat on a graph is that they almost always are balanced armature which is a driver design that aren't known for it's bass capabilities. However even a dynamic exception like the RE-400  which also measures totally flat feels limpdick as well. 
    My pet theory is the amount of air being moved. Electrostatic cans can also measure flat but the ridiculously thin diaphragm have a hard time pushing enough air to give a true sense of good bass impact. I suspect it's the same with the tiny in-ear driver. The smaller amount of air being pushed just isn't enough to give the same sense of bass. 
    I'm sympathetic to theories regarding measurement artifacts as well as you point out. 
  7. ubs28
    A neutral headphone or IEM would be custom made at the person's response curve. I have seen some measurements at a local audiologist and there is definitely variations between how people perceive frequencies. 
    Even if there would exist a frequency response curve for someone ears , I doubt it's technically possible to achieve a true neutral headphone or IEM. I have never seen a headphone or speaker that managed to be dead flat in the treble, mids and sub-bass area all at the same time. (there is always some roll off)
  8. YTCrazyTieGuy
    @ Dark wizzie - this is pretty much what Sean Olive's research is based on, though since no two rooms are exactly the same, there is no absolute reference, and listening tests are still needed.
    @ ubs28 - have you heard of the smyth realizer?
  9. Dark_wizzie
    No two people's heads are exactly the same either. But we can take lots of steps towards treating the room, not so much so our head's structure. [​IMG]
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