What Makes "Great Detail" in TOTL Headphones?
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bigshot

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Back when I was trying to figure out if binaural had anything to offer, someone recommended a Chesky music disc to me. I listened to it in headphones and it sounded just like any other music... guitar on left, vocals in the middle, keyboard on the right, etc. I tried playing it on my speakers and it sounded like it had a much more focused sound location on speakers than it did on headphones. It sounded more naturally present too. Are there binaural recordings that are intended for speakers? This one sounded better that way.

To be honest, I listened to a half dozen binaural CDs and none of them sounded at all dimensional to me in cans. They just had slathered on room reflections. For spatial accuracy, I've never heard any headphone that can match a well implemented multichannel speaker system. With surround you get real front, back, sides and top, not just reflections that your brain is supposed to decode. It could be that binaural recordings only work for certain people, but if you can recommend one that you think would have really good spatial location, I'd like to get it and check it out. My mind is still open to the possibility.

As for quick attack, what are you referring to? A snare hit? Because it seems to me that upper mid / treble speakers aren't likely to have much problem with reproducing a natural attack. If a tweeter can reproduce up to 20kHz without significant distortion, I don't know why it couldn't reproduce the transient in a drum hit that is a couple of orders of magnitude slower. Larger bass speakers might get floppy with a quick hit, but my old school JBL woofers do a real good job reproducing bass thump.

My point was that headphones may measure better in a lot of ways, particularly when it comes to distortion levels, but speakers sound more natural. The reason for that has less to do with the speakers than the real three dimensional effect of the room perhaps. Headphones can't seem to match that, even with binaural recordings.
 
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Glmoneydawg

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Sounds like shifting goalposts. Something mastered on speakers will sound "pleasant" with speakers, since good headphones will show the issues with the recordings, especially the janky panning artefacts. Take any good binaural recording and play it through a headphone with quick attack (rarely does anyone measure this parameter) and CSD and you've got something that will nail the balls on any speaker for realism or spatial accuracy.

I thought this place was about sound "science".
Sorry bud,i have pretty decent headphones and speakers...headphones just don't reproduce the scale of musicians in a room....headphones might be more proficient for dissecting engineering practices (maybe),but for enjoying a musical performance with scale and physicality.....it's got to be speakers.Btw your post(like mine) is only an opinion...shouldn't be throwing around the science thing as if it's proven fact.
 
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When it comes to "detail", whatever the definition of that may be, my opinion is the driver type and design is the most important factor. No amount of EQing the plastic drivers of the Sennheiser HD 600 can get you the same performance of the rigid metal speaker-like drivers of the Focal Elex. I don't completely understand the physics behind this so it is just guessing on my part, but I'm sure much of it has to do with driver excursion, how far the driver can move back and forth from resting position without hitting it's limit. I don't think this affects mid and treble response in any significant way, but this most certainly audibly affects the bass response. This shows on FR graphs as well, the Elex has hardly any roll-off in the sub bass below 50 Hz. The same applies to planar magnetic drivers, they have larger physical surface area to move at those low frequencies. So because of this, you get more bass "detail", as in more linear bass response with less sub bass roll off than other headphones, and less distortion.

But like others have said before, "great detail" is mostly subjective. Many people think the massive treble spikes on Beyerdynamic headphones count as detail, I certainly don't. Even FR targets like the Harman curve are based on subjective preferences.
 
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bigshot

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Sub bass is the one area that might be difficult to correct with EQ. If the cans can't produce a frequency, you can't make them produce it by EQing. But there are lots of mid range headphones that are capable of going low. No headphone can match what a speaker system with a subwoofer can do, but you can certainly make decent Sennheisers sound like high end cans. You should experiment with EQ. I think you'll be surprised. It's the best tool to make your system sound the way you want it to.
 
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Sub bass is the one area that might be difficult to correct with EQ. If the cans can't produce a frequency, you can't make them produce it by EQing. But there are lots of mid range headphones that are capable of going low. No headphone can match what a speaker system with a subwoofer can do, but you can certainly make decent Sennheisers sound like high end cans. You should experiment with EQ. I think you'll be surprised. It's the best tool to make your system sound the way you want it to.
Oh yeah, I'm a big proponent of EQ. I use it all the time with my headphones and IEMs, and I honestly can't go back to not using it.

I've always wanted to get a high quality speaker system, I've heard how amazing they can be. Too bad I have to live in the real world with family and neighbors, which is why I started with headphones in the first place.
 
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I did it by living in an apartment at the back of the building over the carport.
 
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@bigshot Which method of EQing do you recommend? I've seen at least 3 different methods on different threads at different places on head-fi and I'm curious which method would yield correct results.
 
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It's something you have to get a feel for. There is a thread here in Sound Science that outlines how to EQ to Harman using the published response measurements. You might want to start there. But any EQ calibration for the home is just going to be a starting point. From there, you might want to adjust. I'd recommend EQing subtractively, not by boosting; and make small changes and live with them a while listening to a wide range of music to see if you like it or not.
 
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Feels like micro detail is just having peaks in the upper midrange and treble. Timbre and tone seems to also get lost the more detail you push for. Its very rare that you can have both incredible detail and a smooth lush sound at the same time.
 
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Feels like micro detail is just having peaks in the upper midrange and treble. Timbre and tone seems to also get lost the more detail you push for. Its very rare that you can have both incredible detail and a smooth lush sound at the same time.
That's been my suspicion all along. It would explain why so many TOTL headphones have a treble heavy sound signature like the HD800 and SR-009 for example.
 
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When it comes to "detail", whatever the definition of that may be, my opinion is the driver type and design is the most important factor. No amount of EQing the plastic drivers of the Sennheiser HD 600 can get you the same performance of the rigid metal speaker-like drivers of the Focal Elex. I don't completely understand the physics behind this so it is just guessing on my part, but I'm sure much of it has to do with driver excursion, how far the driver can move back and forth from resting position without hitting it's limit. I don't think this affects mid and treble response in any significant way, but this most certainly audibly affects the bass response. This shows on FR graphs as well, the Elex has hardly any roll-off in the sub bass below 50 Hz. The same applies to planar magnetic drivers, they have larger physical surface area to move at those low frequencies. So because of this, you get more bass "detail", as in more linear bass response with less sub bass roll off than other headphones, and less distortion.

But like others have said before, "great detail" is mostly subjective. Many people think the massive treble spikes on Beyerdynamic headphones count as detail, I certainly don't. Even FR targets like the Harman curve are based on subjective preferences.
I can share my experience with EQ. EQ can be used and experienced as placebo. Let me explain.

At some point in time, there was hype regarding Audeze iSine or LCDi4 planar magnetic in-ear monitors. I decided to try it out, and noticed weird sound oddity in the response, and I was told in the thread that Apple devices has a special cable with dsp built-in to EQ this oddity, and also they released the Reveal plug-in to 'correct' the response with EQ. Their point was that their planars were extremely low distortion, and this is the argument made over and over again else where are well. Low distortion make EQ responsive, etc.. I found out that is not the case, EQ depends on the driver's physical capability to cause the EQ to respond, not directly correlated to distortion.

Here's my measurement of LCDi4 after EQ, and shows that EQ wasn't effective with the driver. I concluded that EQ was provided to cause placebo effect in people's mind without actually knowing if there were results or not. It's about if the driver is hopeless or not. As we can see here, the Audeze drivers are hopeless! This iem is $2.5k!!! Why?! I'm upset.

No EQ
LCDi4 no EQ.jpg

Reveal EQ
LCDi4 Reveal Plugin EQ.jpg

Chipher cable DSP EQ
LCDi4 w Cypher cable.jpg
 
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When it comes to "detail", whatever the definition of that may be, my opinion is the driver type and design is the most important factor. No amount of EQing the plastic drivers of the Sennheiser HD 600 can get you the same performance of the rigid metal speaker-like drivers of the Focal Elex. I don't completely understand the physics behind this so it is just guessing on my part, but I'm sure much of it has to do with driver excursion, how far the driver can move back and forth from resting position without hitting it's limit. I don't think this affects mid and treble response in any significant way, but this most certainly audibly affects the bass response. This shows on FR graphs as well, the Elex has hardly any roll-off in the sub bass below 50 Hz. The same applies to planar magnetic drivers, they have larger physical surface area to move at those low frequencies. So because of this, you get more bass "detail", as in more linear bass response with less sub bass roll off than other headphones, and less distortion.

But like others have said before, "great detail" is mostly subjective. Many people think the massive treble spikes on Beyerdynamic headphones count as detail, I certainly don't. Even FR targets like the Harman curve are based on subjective preferences.
What about drivers cones modal frequency response?
We always consider the driver cone movement taking for granted the cone behaves like a perfectly rigid body.
But what if at a certain (high) frequency the cone cannot be considered anymore as a
perfectly rigid body? What is is starts deforming and oscillating with certain modal oscillations?

I mention this because I know this can physically happen, but I don't know if this problem exists for headphone / IEM drivers.

This would explain why more rigid (metallic) cones behaves better that softer (plastic) ones.
 
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What about drivers cones modal frequency response?
We always consider the driver cone movement taking for granted the cone behaves like a perfectly rigid body.
But what if at a certain (high) frequency the cone cannot be considered anymore as a
perfectly rigid body? What is is starts deforming and oscillating with certain modal oscillations?

I mention this because I know this can physically happen, but I don't know if this problem exists for headphone / IEM drivers.

This would explain why more rigid (metallic) cones behaves better that softer (plastic) ones.
The more realistic approach is to assume that any given object will have a frequency that makes it resonate. That way you can focus on keeping the magnitude down in that specific range once you know it. And if that's not an option, you then proceed to design something that will resonate at a frequency that isn't a problem for audio content. And if that's not possible, you'll try at least to avoid the mid range frequencies so that a listener won't be too troubled by it.

I'm guessing that weight rapidly takes over as a significant variable when we're trying to achieve stiffness. Just like durability probably becomes a problem when trying to make things super light and super thin. But I'm only assuming that from the existing designs because I don't have the engineering knowledge for this. ^_^
 
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The more realistic approach is to assume that any given object will have a frequency that makes it resonate. That way you can focus on keeping the magnitude down in that specific range once you know it. And if that's not an option, you then proceed to design something that will resonate at a frequency that isn't a problem for audio content. And if that's not possible, you'll try at least to avoid the mid range frequencies so that a listener won't be too troubled by it.

I'm guessing that weight rapidly takes over as a significant variable when we're trying to achieve stiffness. Just like durability probably becomes a problem when trying to make things super light and super thin. But I'm only assuming that from the existing designs because I don't have the engineering knowledge for this. ^_^
I googled this, it seems a well known non trivial issue:

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1...xoKHRlABuEQ4dUDCAs&uact=5&safe=active&ssui=on

This sums it up pretty well in my opinion:
https://www.klippel.de/fileadmin/_migrated/content_uploads/KLIPPEL_Cone_Vibration_Poster_01.pdf

I will look for some more specific to cans and IEM
 
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