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Is 80% of "hi-fi" just EQ?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by dizzyorange, Sep 21, 2013.
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  1. swaffleman
    Ah, I see. So the drivers of the PX 200 II's aren't well suited for EQ ing as they aren't really hi fi headphones? I have to say, when I got them, they certainly seemed to be at the time! But I know there are leagues ahead of these out there. What would you say about the HD380 Pros?
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2019
  2. bigshot
    Yes, you could do a lot more EQing the HD380s. The thing with EQ is that the transducer has to be able to cleanly produce the frequency. If it just isn't able to, you can't squeeze blood from a stone. The difference between high end headphones and midrange ones is the degree of control over the response curve. Midrange headphones have wider manufacturing tolerances out of the box than expensive ones. But if you take your midrange cans, you can adjust them with EQ to get very close to the manufacturing tolerances of high end ones.
    billqs likes this.
  3. swaffleman
    Interesting. So I could, theoretically, EQ my HD 380 pros to sound similar to a more expensive set? I wouldn't even know how to do that, and they sound quite nice to me as is I have to say.

    Would the capability of the transducer have anything to do with the size of the driver in the headphone at all? Or them materials/type? Is that a dumb question?
  4. bigshot
    There is a thread on EQing headphones to a target curve. Do a search. I’m on my phone right now, or I’d link you.

    Yes, the performance is based on the material and design of the drivers.
  5. castleofargh Contributor
    the vague concept of a headphone being good or bad for EQ doesn't tell us much. when I consider the idea, I'm already thinking about the specific target response I want, and imagine how hard it's going to be to get there from the original FR. so to me a headphone bad for EQ is not necessarily bad for all EQ, just possibly bad for what I want:
    - the signature is just too different, I'd probably give this a pass. maybe it would work fine, but it's a bother and means taking more chances.
    - the initial FR has a very spiky stuff in the mid and upper mid range. that could become a PITA to EQ(even harder by ear). and with IEMs, I've become a little paranoid about EQing a resonance and ending up creating a carnage because the resonance has shifted a little from how I placed the IEM. so I tend to run away from big spiky stuff.
    - the headphone has very rolled off low end. I like me some rumble, and it's pretty common for a headphone with a huge roll off to cause massive distortions when we try to compensate it(it might still sound nice though). in general I'd aim for something with more bass than I want, and EQ down because that's always a safe move.

    depending on how much gain will be lost to avoid clipping after EQ boosts, we'd want to also consider the amp driving the headphone and if it can make up the difference without issue. and a related matter, how loud are you going to listen? because at my typical listening level, my headphone with a 10dB boost in the subs is still usually playing below 90dB SPL. some people are going to have more distortions with that same headphone and no EQ, simply because of how loud they listen to music.
  6. bigshot
    The problem is that people mention model numbers and expect other people to know what they are. These are the headphones he was saying he couldn't EQ. They fold up to fit in a case like eyeglasses cases...


    You can't expect portable $25 headphones to be able to be EQed to match HD-600s.
  7. Glmoneydawg
    Perhaps not.....but they do the origami thing very well.
  8. swaffleman
  9. bigshot
    Well, I have the old version and they are very good for portable use, but they aren't good on the standards of a home headphone. I'm pretty sure I didn't pay more than thirty or forty dollars for mine. Maybe they changed it.
  10. swaffleman
    I have both too actually.

    The newer versions have a more clear mid range and much more bass impact/articulation. From what I can tell. Although they are much more mechanical sounding whereas I found the originals to be pretty smooth sounding. Some people have likened them to a small version of the HD25s. i would be surprised if they weren't high quality enough to be EQ'd (in the capacity we are talking about) but I'll defer to your judgement as I'm a noob.

    OK, so I was slightly off. Original price was 109 dollars; https://theheadphonelist.com/headphone-review/sennheiser-px200-ii/
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019
  11. SilverEars
    So, I recently picked up a set of Bose QC20, which is an iem with a ANC built into it, and the ANC performance is very good for an iem. What's really interesting is how much the sound changes when I turn on and off the ANC. I believe there is a DSP that get's activated when ANC turns on, and it does enhance the sound significantly. When I turn off ANC the sound becomes worse, with an odd tonality that does seem right. Also, the sense of space is reduced. This DSP must be doing some sort of processing for ANC and also EQ'ing the response as well. it's quite interesting how much this EQ improves the sound quality from it being turned off.
    Steve999 likes this.
  12. Steve999
    You have it right—the EQ improves the sound “a lot.” :) Edit: or maybe not. I am reading different things in different places. Such is the current state of professional audio reviews. I’ll never know who is right. Use them the way you enjoy them the most! I cherry-picked a review for you to give you at least a little perspective and insight:

    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
  13. bigshot
    I was talking with an old time engineer about the Burwen DNR unit. He said that when it came out, the engineering community was horrified that it had a range of noise reduction that was so broad that it could damage the sound quality. They thought that the amount of broadband noise reduction should be limited to a narrower range that was sure to not adversely affect the music. To me, that is like making a hammer that isn't heavy enough to hurt your thumb if you hit it with it!
  14. DivineCurrent
    I'd like to add to this concept that EQ can increase perceived sound quality drastically.

    I've always preferred a neutral warmish sound signature in headphones, and that's why I always gravitate to the Sennheiser HD600 series headphones. The only complaint I have with them is the lack of sub bass, but the tonality and evenness of frequency response is just unmatched. Even so, I use EQ with the HD600 mostly to bring down 3kHz and 7-8kHz, because those spots are a bit too forward. Using sine sweeps + EQ, there are some other frequencies that sound slightly louder than others like 2.5k and 11-12k, but if those are reduced with EQ, the sound looses some clarity. This is just speculation, but I think that has to do with my personal ear canal resonances.

    I have been experimenting with EQing IEMs, and I have been trying to replicate the HD600's tonality in a portable IEM. I have done just that with the cheap Sony MH755, which actually has less distortion than the $150 Etymotic ER2SE. Almost every IEM I've tried has a hyped up response from 3-6kHz, and again, this is probably due to my personal ear shape, so I EQ that frequency range down a lot, around 6-7 dB in the case of the MH755 to sound like the HD600. My main method of EQing is sine sweeps using the SineGen program, plus looking at online graphs to set the bass to my preferred level. I try to make all frequencies a similar volume at normal listening levels, and reduce any large peaks. The Sony MH755 has a higher response in the 11-12kHz region that I only reduce by 2 dB because the HD600 has that same resonance, and that's why I think it sounds so natural and airy compared to most IEMs. That and it has a large dynamic driver with low harmonic distortion, many IEMs use BA drivers with loads of audible distortion.

    So, now with an EQ setting personalized specifically for my ears using FR graphs and sine sweeps, I have an IEM that has extremely similar tonality to the HD600, with more sub bass extension. All in a $5 IEM. EQ is a game changer that everyone should use.

    I should mention I also tried EQing the Focal Elex, and the results I got were disappointing. The bass and sub bass were incredible, but I could not fix the peaky treble even with EQ. I still heard some annoying metallic ringing which is that 20% that EQ can't fix.
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