What are the headphones with the flattest response?
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ebiester

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This is an odd request, I know. I'm not looking for a set of headphones that sound good but rather the flattest frequency response. (Ideally, these would be relatively inexpensive - say, under 300 used.)

Why would you want this, you ask, especially if you have something like sonarworks? Well, I'm looking at a project in the next few years to try and emulate headphone frequency responses using another headphone. (What if you could get a pair of... say, Monoprice Retros and start playing around with different frequency responses to see what you liked from a headphone? Now, what if you could get a headphone/amp combo that would allow you to change it on the fly? What if you could design your own frequency response? Can we emulate soundstage or fix imaging?)

What if we could settle the debate once and for all: if we equalize frequency responses on headphones, is there a true difference in detail retrieval?

This is a bit ambitious, and while I'd like to get this to an open source capability, I'd like to start with something that is a bit smaller in scope: can we take Equalizer APO and a headphone without any major dips or valleys and make it sound similar to another headphone using a pair of MiniDSP ears? In this, a flatter set of headphones would be more useful. As this is the initial tests and I'm looking to keep my outlay cheap to start, I can sacrifice on bass extension and take it out of the target headphone.

What makes this easier is that the headphones don't have to sound good on their own, and can have all sorts of other flaws.

Perhaps, in clarification, I'm looking for the fewest peaks and dips in order to make my initial job easier.

Thanks in advance!
 
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PurpleAngel

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Maybe monitor headphones (boring sounding headphones) like the Sony MDR-V6 or MDR-V7506 headphones.
 
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FastAndClean

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Maybe monitor headphones (boring sounding headphones) like the Sony MDR-V6 or MDR-V7506 headphones.
those headphones have nasty spikes in the treble and sound dry and grainy
HifiMan have very flat headphones or very close to flat, look into some of them like the old HE500
 
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GREQ

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I agree with the above post.
HE-500 + ZMF Ori pads (or aftermarket pads) is just about as neutral as you can get.
 
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ProtegeManiac

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This is an odd request, I know. I'm not looking for a set of headphones that sound good but rather the flattest frequency response. (Ideally, these would be relatively inexpensive - say, under 300 used.)

Why would you want this, you ask, especially if you have something like sonarworks? Well, I'm looking at a project in the next few years to try and emulate headphone frequency responses using another headphone. (What if you could get a pair of... say, Monoprice Retros and start playing around with different frequency responses to see what you liked from a headphone? Now, what if you could get a headphone/amp combo that would allow you to change it on the fly? What if you could design your own frequency response? Can we emulate soundstage or fix imaging?)

What if we could settle the debate once and for all: if we equalize frequency responses on headphones, is there a true difference in detail retrieval?

This is a bit ambitious, and while I'd like to get this to an open source capability, I'd like to start with something that is a bit smaller in scope: can we take Equalizer APO and a headphone without any major dips or valleys and make it sound similar to another headphone using a pair of MiniDSP ears? In this, a flatter set of headphones would be more useful. As this is the initial tests and I'm looking to keep my outlay cheap to start, I can sacrifice on bass extension and take it out of the target headphone.

What makes this easier is that the headphones don't have to sound good on their own, and can have all sorts of other flaws.

Perhaps, in clarification, I'm looking for the fewest peaks and dips in order to make my initial job easier.
You're overestimating how well an EQ works when Q Factor is what makes EQ functionality problematic and not how many bands you can use and what curve types, and where even if you have control over the Q Factor, it's not that simple.

In any case, there was an old music player on iOS that had individual EQ profiles to make some headphones sound like some other headphone, with very fine, programmer-end (ie not end user UI) EQ profiles. Tonally, you get very close, more on some combinations than others, but even without such level of control at the developer end, I can take my HD600 close to the HD650 anyway. It does not however make an HD650/HD600 have the soundstage of the K702, which affects "detail retrieval." Sure you get a sharper top end to get the cymbals more "out there," but without the K702's imaging, "out there" is like having a band if brought down to the size of what is imaged by a headphone would have Reid Richards on the drums showing off how he can hit cymbals way out in front of the vocalist and kick a bass drum that the vocalist is standing on. The reverse doesn't just "dull" the top end of the K702, it has a tendency to push the cymbals too far back that the cymbals and other high freq detail can end up worse on it when trying to emulate the HD650. That said, not going as far at the top end but boosting the K702 to match how much farther down the HD650 can go will kind of sound close to and LCD-2F without the weight causing fatigue.
 
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ebiester

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You're overestimating how well an EQ works when Q Factor is what makes EQ functionality problematic and not how many bands you can use and what curve types, and where even if you have control over the Q Factor, it's not that simple.
You're absolutely right that EQ is insufficient to do all of that. The total project involves learning more about digital signal processing than I can do in the short term, so I think of it as a first step to get my feet wet and understand the limitations of what can be done with EQ. After that, can we take a small set of sound samples and process the sample to take the differences in EQ in headphones into account to get closer in frequency response? Realtime doesn't have to be a requirement to start.

Then, I can swap out to the cheapest headphone possible that have reasonable bass extension. (See monoprice retros above.) Then, with an inexpensive set of headphones that a newbie can acquire, we could have a "This is what a warm headphone sounds like." "This is what a 5k peak sounds like." experience. It could start with a handful of creative commons music first and then move from there.

I think just having that would help new and experienced headphone users alike. Now, I am under no illusion that we could get to here in 6 months or a year if I started with DSP, but we'd have something of value by just having a generic warm versus bright versus neutral. From there, we could get to "I have X headphone and want to see what Y headphone's frequency response would sound like." OR,

As I start digging into DSP, I think it might be possible to experiment with delay and figure out what exactly causes soundstage. It might be able to process via DSP to be able to answer the questions of "This is what an intimate versus expansive soundstage sounds like." "This is what good versus bad imaging sounds like."

The end result is years away. This is probably past the edge of what research exists and might be past my mathematics and engineering abilities, even with work. (The programming is the easy part.) Thus, I look to start with a minimum viable project while still having a grand (and impossible?) vision.
 
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This is an odd request, I know. I'm not looking for a set of headphones that sound good but rather the flattest frequency response. (Ideally, these would be relatively inexpensive - say, under 300 used.)

Why would you want this, you ask, especially if you have something like sonarworks? Well, I'm looking at a project in the next few years to try and emulate headphone frequency responses using another headphone. (What if you could get a pair of... say, Monoprice Retros and start playing around with different frequency responses to see what you liked from a headphone? Now, what if you could get a headphone/amp combo that would allow you to change it on the fly? What if you could design your own frequency response? Can we emulate soundstage or fix imaging?)

What if we could settle the debate once and for all: if we equalize frequency responses on headphones, is there a true difference in detail retrieval?

This is a bit ambitious, and while I'd like to get this to an open source capability, I'd like to start with something that is a bit smaller in scope: can we take Equalizer APO and a headphone without any major dips or valleys and make it sound similar to another headphone using a pair of MiniDSP ears? In this, a flatter set of headphones would be more useful. As this is the initial tests and I'm looking to keep my outlay cheap to start, I can sacrifice on bass extension and take it out of the target headphone.

What makes this easier is that the headphones don't have to sound good on their own, and can have all sorts of other flaws.

Perhaps, in clarification, I'm looking for the fewest peaks and dips in order to make my initial job easier.

Thanks in advance!
The audiotechnica M40X is the most neutral gear I've ever used. Very flat and good for studio monitoring and audio work.
In fact it is so neutral I find it very boring for general music listening, but it is excellent when I use it for studio monitoring, to hear exactly what the artiste intended in their recoriding.
 
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