What are reference grade headphones?
Jul 22, 2010 at 7:35 AM Post #2 of 35

joelpearce

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Can we get a bit of context for that statement?
 
It could be talking about one of two things:
 
First, it could be talking about a pair of headphones that can be used as a reference point for judging other headphones.  This is a term that critics in almost every area use.  When I was a DVD critic, we used to talk about reference discs, that you could use to determine the quality of a home theatre system.  Likewise, if you are trying to judge headphones, you want to have a reference pair--one that you know well and is of high enough quality that it gives you a comparison point.
 
The other possibility is that it is referring to a pair of headphones that is accurate enough to be used as a reference point for the music that it plays.  In studio, headphones are one tool that can be used to determine if a track is mixed right, and you want to use reference grade equipment to ensure that everything is right.  Often, real studio designed/reference grade headphones are actually less preferred for listening to music, even though some of us tend to prefer that balanced sound.  In that context, studio headphones are often contrasted with "hi-fi" headphones, which aren't designed to be precise and accurate so much as they are designed to make music sound really pleasant to the ears.
 
Nov 27, 2011 at 10:26 PM Post #5 of 35

nikp

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Quote:
In that context, studio headphones are often contrasted with "hi-fi" headphones, which aren't designed to be precise and accurate so much as they are designed to make music sound really pleasant to the ears.


High fidelity means a high quality accurate sound reproduction (in other words, neutral) and it is definitely not a contrast to studio headphones. 
 
 
Nov 27, 2011 at 10:30 PM Post #7 of 35

nikp

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Quote:
It's marketing nonsense. 


beerchug.gif
 But some IEMs/HPs such as the UERMs are actually reference monitors.
 
 
Nov 27, 2011 at 10:58 PM Post #8 of 35
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Quote:
beerchug.gif
 But some IEMs/HPs such as the UERMs are actually reference monitors.
 


Which is likely just a case of so many headphones are called reference one actually might be.
 
A search on Amazon for 'reference headphones' and the first to come up:
 
Denon AH-D5000 Reference Headphones
SRH940 Professional Reference Headphones
 
Two complete opposites, bass heavy and bass light.
 
Nov 27, 2011 at 11:36 PM Post #9 of 35

Gwarmi

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 Just a marketing term for John Grado's 'reference series', only two headphones in the category
 
 RS2i and RS1i ~ really fun, coloured headphones that lend themselves to string instrument music,
 particularly guitar for rock and classic rock.
 
 Are they reference quality? The most common definition for 'reference' would suggest a very flat,
 neutral, 'colorless' headphone like the Sennheiser HD800.
 
Nov 28, 2011 at 12:06 AM Post #10 of 35

Saintly

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Quote:
 
 Just a marketing term for John Grado's 'reference series', only two headphones in the category
 
 RS2i and RS1i ~ really fun, coloured headphones that lend themselves to string instrument music,
 particularly guitar for rock and classic rock.
 
 Are they reference quality? The most common definition for 'reference' would suggest a very flat,
 neutral, 'colorless' headphone like the Sennheiser HD800.

 
Isn't the HD 800 known for a somewhat recessed midrange and forward treble?
 
 
 
Nov 28, 2011 at 12:10 AM Post #11 of 35

Gwarmi

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Quote:
 
Isn't the HD 800 known for a somewhat recessed midrange and forward treble?
 
 



It's known for a lot of things depending on what you plug it into ~ when someone reports harsh treble, recessed mids, ~ I always ask
about their recording of choice and the details of the rig.
 
No headphone is more finicky about the source and amp (especially the amp) than the HD800 ~ like a chameleon it changes from
amp to amp, you really have to hear it for yourself, it's quite remarkable.
 
Nov 28, 2011 at 12:13 AM Post #12 of 35

Saintly

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Quote:
It's known for a lot of things depending on what you plug it into ~ when someone reports harsh treble, recessed mids, ~ I always ask
about their recording of choice and the details of the rig.
 
No headphone is more finicky about the source and amp (especially the amp) than the HD800 ~ like a chameleon it changes from
amp to amp, you really have to hear it for yourself, it's quite remarkable.


I've heard the same thing and it's definitely at the top of my to-try list.  It was between the T1 and HD800 and I chose the T1 for its more balanced presentation and warmer/lusher sound.  Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice; so many what-ifs.
 
Have you had the chance to hear both?
 
 
Nov 28, 2011 at 12:20 AM Post #13 of 35

Gwarmi

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Quote:
I've heard the same thing and it's definitely at the top of my to-try list.  It was between the T1 and HD800 and I chose the T1 for its more balanced presentation and warmer/lusher sound.  Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice; so many what-ifs.
 
Have you had the chance to hear both?
 



Yep, I've racked up about 25-30hrs or so on both so I'm only now starting to get a picture of what the T1 and HD800 are about ~ The T1 is more of an audiophile
cliche I think ~ it's very flat sounding, does not throw an artificial soundstage nor does it add any excessive bass, not that the HD800 does in this instance but I
find the HD800 more satisfying on that front with the right gear.
 
I also think the T1 is far more adaptable in regards to different rigs and source material ~ it never really changes it's character nor does it misbehave if the
material is less than supremely mastered.
 
If you like the T1's signature then yes you made the right call ~ the HD800 is a Head-Fi tinkerer's dream, it will satisfy you in the end or drive you nuts :)
 
Nov 28, 2011 at 12:32 AM Post #14 of 35

Saintly

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Quote:
Yep, I've racked up about 25-30hrs or so on both so I'm only now starting to get a picture of what the T1 and HD800 are about ~ The T1 is more of an audiophile
cliche I think ~ it's very flat sounding, does not throw an artificial soundstage nor does it add any excessive bass, not that the HD800 does in this instance but I
find the HD800 more satisfying on that front with the right gear.
 
I also think the T1 is far more adaptable in regards to different rigs and source material ~ it never really changes it's character nor does it misbehave if the
material is less than supremely mastered.
 
If you like the T1's signature then yes you made the right call ~ the HD800 is a Head-Fi tinkerer's dream, it will satisfy you in the end or drive you nuts :)

 
Do you mean you find the HD800 to have more bass than the T1?
 
Your description of the two matches the impression I came got when reading about the two.  Vocals are huge in my music preferences so I opted for the more forward midrange.  I've also always favored a warmer and richer sound.  Coupled with the fact that I'm no good at tinkering with different amps and such, the less finicky T1s may very well be the right choice for me.
 
I do really value detail and clarity though and I get the impression that the HD 800 may surpass the T1s in that regard.  Not that the T1s are lacking at all (to my ears, at least) in terms of resolution, but I always wonder what I'm missing out on.
 
 
 
Nov 28, 2011 at 12:37 AM Post #15 of 35

nikp

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Quote:
I've heard the same thing and it's definitely at the top of my to-try list.  It was between the T1 and HD800 and I chose the T1 for its more balanced presentation and warmer/lusher sound.  Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice; so many what-ifs.
 
Have you had the chance to hear both?
 

 
I have the chance to compare them side by side and the HD800 drove me nuts (in a good way). Imo, the T1 sounds too close to the DT880 Premium (much better than the Pro though). I would go for the HD800 just for the gigantic soundstage - a great illusion isn't a bad thing.
 

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