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The four types of sound signature

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by cactus_farmer, May 16, 2011.
  1. cactus_farmer
    May I refer you to this link;
    ClieOS does a great job of detailing the 4 basic sound signatures;
    1). Analytical: (treble boosted, mids and bass recessed)
    2). Balanced: (treble and bass boosted, mids recessed)
    3). Bassy: (bass boosted, mids and treble recessed)
    4). Midrange-y: (mids boosted, bass and treble recessed)
    (There is a 5th sound signature mentioned in his post but that is more of a composite of two of the above basic ones).
    I guess I'm unlike most of you guys in that I don't enjoy upgrading my equipment as much as side-grading it. I want a collection of at least decent sounding headphones with each of these sound signatures. It's just interesting to me how different they present your music and there is no best way obviously. Can you guys recommend here a list of various low-to-mid-budget portable models and full-sized models (no budget limit) that best represent each sound signature?
    Thanks in advance!!
  2. Uncle Erik Contributor
    I'd argue that some headphones and speakers are even-handed across the spectrum. You'll find this illustrated by frequency response charts, as well.
  3. Brooko Contributor

    Actually - his description of analytical is:
    "usually refers to a neutral and detail sound. Neutral as bass to mid range is relatively flat, often gives a sense of thinness and coldness. Upper vocal, especially female, tends to get better highlighted than lower (male) vocal. Plenty of sparkles and crispiness; higher in resolution and separation but usually has medium to small soundstage"
    I think it's more correct to say flat bass and mid-range, rather than how you've described it as 'recessed'.
    I think you'd call my SRH840 'balanced' - although personally I wouldn't call the mids recessed either .....
  4. ldtboyl
    I don't think it's fair to describe sound signatures using only boosted and recessed.
    NaiveSound and SleathX1 like this.
  5. cactus_farmer
    yes, obviously boosted and recessed are RELATIVE terms ie. you can have an extreme v shaped sound signature and one that has only the slightest trace of a recessed midrange. We all know there is no such thing as perfectly flat frequency response anyway - otherwise there would be a general consensus as to what the most accurate headphone of all time is. And there isn't a consensus.
  6. SBoy
    I personally feels that headphones with emphasized treble tends to have wider soundstage. I'm personally comparing my HD650 with DT990 600ohm. 
    what's your opinion on this?
  7. khaos974


    That would be a perfect HPs, Wouldn't  they ? Coherence is the term I have in mind. 
  9. AmanGeorge Contributor
    Among full sized headphones I've owned, this is probably the best way I would group them if forced to choose those categories:


    1). Analytical: (treble boosted, mids and bass recessed) - Sony SA5000, AKG K701, Stax Lambda Normal Bias, Sennheiser HD800

    2). Balanced: (treble and bass boosted, mids recessed) - Beyerdynamic DT880, Shure SRH840, Sony MDR-CD3000

    3). Bassy: (bass boosted, mids and treble recessed) - Sennheiser HD650, Denon D5000, Audeze LCD-2

    4). Midrange-y: (mids boosted, bass and treble recessed) - Audio-Technica W1000, AKG K240 Sextett, (Stax Lambda could also fit here)

  10. badbob
    Yes its hard to know where your treble is if the bass is walking all over it.
  11. ClieOS Contributor
    The categorization of sound signature is basically a compromise, if anything else. It makes it simpler for visualization but at the same time over simplify each IEM. Takes the new Future Sonics Atrio M5 for an example: it probably has a more v-shaped like FR curve in measurement but I classified it into bass driven (to a lesser extend, Klipsch S4 also share the same characteristic) . So technically it should have been a 'balanced' sound but the whole sound is so dominated by the bass I would rather put it into bass category instead. It really isn't easy, or anywhere near perfect.
  12. ZeNmAc


    Maybe not in headphones...If the response is flat to +-3dB or less you're not really going to notice [​IMG].  FYI, most headphones aren't even close to this except for very high end ones like Uncle Erik is talking about.
    Besides you get a bunch of people that intentionally want headphones that aren't flat.  Then companies know that's what sells better and you have a whole boatload of headphones that aren't flat [​IMG].

    This.  Why not look for one really good headphone with flat response?  IMO that's better than having half a dozen decent headphones that won't satisfy you.
  13. sferic
    Only ONE good headphone? Now, say what you will about monogamy vs polygamy in personal relationships, but I suspect the vast majority of Head-Fiers have at least a couple of faves, depending on the listening situation or type of music. And "flat" isn't the same across people, or even time for the same person because hearing response changes. Some cans that are considered bright sound great to me at 50 because it takes me back to how music sounded when I was 17. Other times I want a mature, cohesive sound that is familiar and in line with what my everyday hearing is today.
    And even when we do definitively move on to favoring one set of equipment over another, we never forget the love we shared for Rig X (for whatever period of time we were saving up to try something different.) To quote an ancient, very wise, Almond Joy commercial: "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't." 
    Headphone promiscuity won't give you diseases, damage your reputation, or ruin your chances for elected office. But one MAJOR con is it will make your bank account limp.
    All that said, bro, I get your point. We're all looking for that perfect setup, and it's bliss when you achieve it. I'm just a little cynical because it's happened to me so many times, but then circumstances, recording technology, etc. changes and then you're back to looking out of the corner of your eye again.
  14. wind016
    When I say something sounds balanced aka natural, I NEVER mean the sound is midrange recessed. It's opposite. When something is balanced, the midrange sounds flat. Detailed and warm. It doesn't matter whether the bass and treble are recessed or boosted. In order for a headphone to sound balanced, maintaining a balanced midrange response is of utmost importance. Recessing the midrange to make something sound balanced makes no sense.
  15. YTCrazyTieGuy
    I think it isn't hard to tell the difference between 3dB tilted to the bass and 3dB tilted to the treble, and I think most head-fiers would agree with me. I think if you played around with an eq you could hear it too.

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