Perception of "detail" in headphones
Sep 20, 2013 at 11:53 AM Post #16 of 34

MatsGyver

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Already having an accurate/flat/detailed headphone, it would make more sense to use signal processing (equalization, crossfeed, etc., even reverb to simulate room acoustics) to alter the sound for bad recordings, rather than to buy several headphones. Of course, if one only has bad recordings, then the high quality headphone might be wasted.

Yes, but it takes som skill with the computer, and some knowledge with the different softwares to make it good I suppose.

Sometimes its easyer just to have a main headphone for good recordings, and one with a rugged square wave response and phase problems on 30 hz giving an overemphasized bass for the lesser good recordings.

Having a good headphone for all genres is probably hard. The same goes for equalising and crossfeed the different settings to make the high quality headphone ideal.

I generally dont like to fight against the natural construction of a set of headphones. Either with using tube amps, EQ, mechanical modifications or crossfeed. In my expirience the headphones sound best to a wider spectrum of recordings when they are driven by a neutral amplifier with close to 0ohm output impedance. It is a harder load on the diaphragm when manipulated with EQ or coloured amps, and the diaphragm is usually worked a little harder than it may have been constructed for. Potentially giving the headphones a shorter lifespan.
 
Sep 20, 2013 at 1:23 PM Post #17 of 34

EthanWiner

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I don't really understand why anybody finds it necessary to use terms like 'detailed' when measurable quantities such as distortion and frequency response predate this new vocabulary by a considerable time


This.

when people resort to using these words I tend to tune out, because I think it's all a load of guff


It is a load of guff because the standard specs are clear, specific, and fully adequate. Flowery wording means only what the writer likes to think it means. To one person an "etched" sound means it's "transparent", and to another person it means "harsh." But knowing that the response is flat within a dB or so over the entire audio range tells us the sound is neither tubby nor harsh etc.

--Ethan
 
Sep 20, 2013 at 1:28 PM Post #18 of 34

EthanWiner

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Music is about feeling something.


Sure, but that has nothing to do with defining fidelity.

the notion that the best headphones is the ones that measures flat and has low distortion falls flat.


The headphones that are the most accurate will come closest to reproducing the intent of the artist and mix engineer. I can't imagine what else could be a more important goal. Now, some people prefer a sound that has a particular coloration. Maybe it's the slight added distortion from vinyl and analog tape, or the reduced treble response of an aging tube amp. If someone likes that sound, that's fine with me. But you won't hear what the artist heard when they signed off on the recording.

--Ethan
 
Sep 20, 2013 at 2:08 PM Post #19 of 34

bigshot

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A balanced response will definitely be more detailed because masking won't be an issue. If the mix is clear, the playback will be too.
 
Sep 20, 2013 at 4:13 PM Post #20 of 34

MatsGyver

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Sure, but that has nothing to do with defining fidelity.
The headphones that are the most accurate will come closest to reproducing the intent of the artist and mix engineer. I can't imagine what else could be a more important goal. Now, some people prefer a sound that has a particular coloration. Maybe it's the slight added distortion from vinyl and analog tape, or the reduced treble response of an aging tube amp. If someone likes that sound, that's fine with me. But you won't hear what the artist heard when they signed off on the recording.

--Ethan


In much poplular Music, the song you hear is not the song the artist produces but a compressed louder Version intended for mass appeal. So reproducing the compressed recording as accurately as possible, may actually take you farther away from the original artists intent. Equipment that makes it louder With more Dynamics and a fuller sound may actually sound better than the actual compressed drum beats of the recording that sound like farts, instead of drums, and can even be closer to the artists recording before it got compressed to farts and noise.

Some only listens to music that has low dynamic range, and to them impact and coloration may give a more pleasening listenig expirience. And to this type of music, details and neutrality may actually give a less pleasurable listening expiriance, because you hear more of the compression and distortion that took Place to compress the entire song to -6dB from clipping. Most audio Equipment that is loud enough, will be good enough too.

Sure, but that has nothing to do with defining fidelity.


Sure it does. What does the Fox Say dont need hi Fidelity equipment to sound good. It is constructed for mass appeal, and therefore sounding good on divices most dispose is much more important. The impact of the song lies in the lyrics and being loud, much of the same parameteres goes for most popular pop Music today. Most of the song is also -8dB from clipping. This is not very demanding on audio Equipment, and most Devices will manage to reproduce this dynamic range without much problems.

Tchaikovsky Ballet Suites does not sound good on the radio. Tchaikovsky dont have any funny lyrics it relies on, its not even loud. It has to rely on instruments and Dynamics alone to have an impact, and this requires Fidelity Equipment that has the ability to be loud without distorting on a number of levels. The dynamic range of the song can vary alot. Some sections may keep an konstant level of -6dB from clipping like What does the fox say, while other parts of the song keeps a constant -36dB from clipping but still uses the same dynamic range sporadicly. This is very demanding on the Equipment.

The audio eqipment needs to be dynamic, have low distortion and still be fast on 74dB, and still produce peaks up to 110dB. And it needs to be loud enough on 104dB, and still produce peaks to 110dB. Therefore it not only has to be loud, it needs to be fast too and have extremely low THD so its not audible in the parts With lower SPL.

Therefor it cannot be to hard damped, because it will not manage to reproduce the full signal on all Levels. And some compromise has to be made to Archive speed to play dynamic songs like this. To much damping gives more distortion and may reduce the drivers ability to produce SPLs and still be dynamical enough to produce the varying SPL of Tchaikovsky.

The song relies on the switching Dynamics to make you feel something. Equipment that cant reproduce the switching dynamic Levels, and still be detailed and have low distortion will reduce Your listening expiriance.
 
Sep 20, 2013 at 4:30 PM Post #21 of 34

bigshot

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woof!
 
Sep 21, 2013 at 3:07 PM Post #22 of 34

Solshock

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In much poplular Music, the song you hear is not the song the artist produces but a compressed louder Version intended for mass appeal. So reproducing the compressed recording as accurately as possible, may actually take you farther away from the original artists intent. Equipment that makes it louder With more Dynamics and a fuller sound may actually sound better than the actual compressed drum beats of the recording that sound like farts, instead of drums, and can even be closer to the artists recording before it got compressed to farts and noise.

Some only listens to music that has low dynamic range, and to them impact and coloration may give a more pleasening listenig expirience. And to this type of music, details and neutrality may actually give a less pleasurable listening expiriance, because you hear more of the compression and distortion that took Place to compress the entire song to -6dB from clipping. Most audio Equipment that is loud enough, will be good enough too.
Sure it does. What does the Fox Say dont need hi Fidelity equipment to sound good. It is constructed for mass appeal, and therefore sounding good on divices most dispose is much more important. The impact of the song lies in the lyrics and being loud, much of the same parameteres goes for most popular pop Music today. Most of the song is also -8dB from clipping. This is not very demanding on audio Equipment, and most Devices will manage to reproduce this dynamic range without much problems.

Tchaikovsky Ballet Suites does not sound good on the radio. Tchaikovsky dont have any funny lyrics it relies on, its not even loud. It has to rely on instruments and Dynamics alone to have an impact, and this requires Fidelity Equipment that has the ability to be loud without distorting on a number of levels. The dynamic range of the song can vary alot. Some sections may keep an konstant level of -6dB from clipping like What does the fox say, while other parts of the song keeps a constant -36dB from clipping but still uses the same dynamic range sporadicly. This is very demanding on the Equipment.

The audio eqipment needs to be dynamic, have low distortion and still be fast on 74dB, and still produce peaks up to 110dB. And it needs to be loud enough on 104dB, and still produce peaks to 110dB. Therefore it not only has to be loud, it needs to be fast too and have extremely low THD so its not audible in the parts With lower SPL.

Therefor it cannot be to hard damped, because it will not manage to reproduce the full signal on all Levels. And some compromise has to be made to Archive speed to play dynamic songs like this. To much damping gives more distortion and may reduce the drivers ability to produce SPLs and still be dynamical enough to produce the varying SPL of Tchaikovsky.

The song relies on the switching Dynamics to make you feel something. Equipment that cant reproduce the switching dynamic Levels, and still be detailed and have low distortion will reduce Your listening expiriance.

Do any of these principles lend any credence to electrostatic drivers being more "detailed?"
 
Sep 21, 2013 at 4:30 PM Post #23 of 34

MatsGyver

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Do any of these principles lend any credence to electrostatic drivers being more "detailed?"


Electrostatic drivers are lighter than most of the drivers of other designs like ortodynamic or dynamic. In combination With hard damping (In relation to driver size) electrostatic drivers are very controlled making them Incredible detailed. It is a combination of light drivers, hard damping and lots of Power availible, making it very controlled.

Heavier drivers are less accurate because they have more mass, and not enough Power in relation to mass compared to electrostatic drivers.

But as I mentioned. Sometimes less accurate drivers actually sound better (better not more detailed) because they are less detailed. This is probably mostly Down to bad recordings or recordings heavily influenced by loudnesswar.

Dynamic range of Music is the key factor when deciding what Equipment sound best. My expiriance is that Music With a dynamic range of 15dB+++ sound better on drivers that are better controlled, while Music With less dynamic range can actually sound better on headphones With drivers that are less controlled.
 
Sep 21, 2013 at 5:18 PM Post #24 of 34

bigshot

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I don't believe that. Speaker systems sound a million times better than headphones and they are much "less controlled" by that definition. The thing that makes headphones sound more or less detailed is primarily frequency response. A flat response allows everything to exist equally. Nothing jumps out and blocks the rest.
 
Sep 22, 2013 at 3:00 AM Post #25 of 34

MatsGyver

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By what definition?

Speaker drivers are much heavier, but they can also have 500watts of power making them detailed and very controlled. You can drive several hundred headphones with the same ammount of power.

And they have three, often four diaphragms that share the burden of producing frequencies from 20hz to 20khz. The smallest tweeters are very light in comparisson to the larger 10" bass subwoofers.

Orthodynamic headhpones have one diaphragm that has to produce the same range of frequencies. Not ideal really.

Headphones dont have the same troubling room acoustics problem, and that gives them a huge advantage over regular speakers.

Take for example, Audeze LCD-2 vs LCD-3 both have approx the same frequency response, but the LCD-3 is more detailed. Because it has a lighter and more controlled driver.
 
Sep 22, 2013 at 6:35 PM Post #26 of 34

bigshot

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Speaker drivers have a ton more mass and they have a much broader excursion. Compared to tiny little headphone drivers, they are much less controlled. Yet they can sound a lot better. The reason is frequency response. When you get speakers or headphones as flat as you can, the performance is more controlled and masking is eliminated, making every part of the spectrum of sound as clear as it can be. This is even more important in practice than distortion.
 
Sep 22, 2013 at 7:11 PM Post #27 of 34

MatsGyver

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They have a ton more mass and larger excursion, that i dont disagree on. But they have hundred tons more power and electrical damping.

Hifiman HE-6 has very large excursion compared to LCD-3, but uses 16 times more power. Both are detailed, but HE-6 is better for music with larger dynamic range because of larger excursion. HE-6 uses 16 times more power to keep it as controlled as LCD-3, because of the larger excursion.

Excursion can be controlled if properly damped. Both electrical and mecanical.
 
Sep 24, 2013 at 9:56 AM Post #28 of 34

Solshock

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  Speaker drivers have a ton more mass and they have a much broader excursion. Compared to tiny little headphone drivers, they are much less controlled. Yet they can sound a lot better. The reason is frequency response. When you get speakers or headphones as flat as you can, the performance is more controlled and masking is eliminated, making every part of the spectrum of sound as clear as it can be. This is even more important in practice than distortion.

 
So does that mean I can equalize my 35 dollar JVCs to sound like Stax 009s or HD800s, or better because it's all dependent on FR?
 
Sep 24, 2013 at 1:39 PM Post #29 of 34

bigshot

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I don't know about $35 JVCs, but if you have a midrange set of cans, you can probably EQ them to sound the same as high end ones. As long as the headphones can handle the corrections without distorting. I would guess that there are a lot of $150 - $200 headphones that could be made to sound very, very good. And even the high end cans you mention would likely be better with a little EQing.
 
Sep 25, 2013 at 7:20 PM Post #30 of 34

Solshock

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I don't know about $35 JVCs, but if you have a midrange set of cans, you can probably EQ them to sound the same as high end ones. As long as the headphones can handle the corrections without distorting. I would guess that there are a lot of $150 - $200 headphones that could be made to sound very, very good. And even the high end cans you mention would likely be better with a little EQing.

Right so what difference is there between cheap JVCs and midrange cans that gives them that flexibility?
 

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