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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
mzil
post Aug 2 2013, 20:12
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Considering they sell dozens of other brands of headphones, many costing hundreds of dollars more (and I suspect generally with higher profit margins), even one that's nearly $2000, and the Sony's being widely distributed (unprotected market) means they have a lot of price competition to worry about, I don't see why they'd want to "push" the Sonys. What would be their incentive to cheat and embellish its actual performance artificially? Or did I misunderstand you, and you are suggesting they fudge the response curves of all the headphones they test, for some unknown (to me) reason?

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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Aug 3 2013, 15:37
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QUOTE (mzil @ Aug 2 2013, 15:12) *
Considering they sell dozens of other brands of headphones, many costing hundreds of dollars more (and I suspect generally with higher profit margins), even one that's nearly $2000, and the Sony's being widely distributed (unprotected market) means they have a lot of price competition to worry about, I don't see why they'd want to "push" the Sonys. What would be their incentive to cheat and embellish its actual performance artificially? Or did I misunderstand you, and you are suggesting they fudge the response curves of all the headphones they test, for some unknown (to me) reason?


The above calls for pure speculation, and I don't feel compelled to play that game right now.

I'm working from an evidentiary basis being that it is my perception that 7506's don't have as good bass as HD600s.
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mzil
post Aug 5 2013, 03:31
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^ Do you own a pair of HD600s, Arnold?

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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Aug 5 2013, 12:24
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QUOTE (mzil @ Aug 4 2013, 22:31) *
^ Do you own a pair of HD600s, Arnold?


No. Last time I personally listened to them was at a high end high fi show.
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Hifisound
post Aug 5 2013, 14:43
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To Arnold, mzil and other experts,

Just out of curiosity, which would be the best headphone and speaker based on measurements alone. irrespective of type/price
(if there are multiple candidates, the cheapest can be mentioned)

And on general note, is there something which measurements can't tell (esp for speakers and headphones) and one has to listen to decide (for that factor)

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Hifisound
post Aug 5 2013, 15:36
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Btw, I had hinted about AKG K702 sounding a bit more neutral to me than HD600 in the first post, based on brief listening earlier.
A day back I did get a chance to borrow them from my friend and compare both again for a long duration (I used Fiio E17 for both)

I have begun to like 702 more than HD600s. Its FR graph is also pretty flat (kindly correct if that's wrong)
They also seem much similar in tonality to my speakers (Dynaudio Contour 1.8mkii)
HD600s sound more like some B&Ws which I heard long back.
Similar difference in treble (soft dome vs metal). Could be a coincidence , but metal dome speakers I heard always sounded harsher to me.

Well the current search is for closed ones so back to it....
But its now more like "closed back headphones like K702s" smile.gif

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mzil
post Aug 5 2013, 23:18
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Aug 5 2013, 07:24) *
No. Last time I personally listened to them was at a high end high fi show.

Did you also have a pair of V6/7506 at hand when you listened to the HD600, for direct comparison, or are your observations as to the differences based on different listening sessions?
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Aug 6 2013, 09:15
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QUOTE (mzil @ Aug 5 2013, 18:18) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Aug 5 2013, 07:24) *
No. Last time I personally listened to them was at a high end high fi show.

Did you also have a pair of V6/7506 at hand when you listened to the HD600, for direct comparison, or are your observations as to the differences based on different listening sessions?


Didn't bring my 7506s to the show.

But at the time I owned HD 580s (later stolen or I'd still have them) so I was going back and fort between the 580s (which are similar to 600s) and the 7506s all the time. I used the 580s for listening for pleasure and the 7506s for editing.

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mzil
post Aug 6 2013, 18:35
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QUOTE (Hifisound @ Aug 5 2013, 09:43) *
To Arnold, mzil and other experts,

Just out of curiosity, which would be the best headphone and speaker based on measurements alone. irrespective of type/price

["Speakers" is off-topic and really should be another thread. Start one if you wish.]

There is no "best" headphone because different things are important to different people. Some people [arguably most, hence the long standing trend of what's actually on the market] think elevated bass is "correct". I don't agree, but I fully understand why it sells so well, hence its popularity. [Equalizers and/or tone controls are the correct place to make such alterations, when needed, where they can be tweaked and removed at the flick of a switch. Building in a fixed, intentionally skewed FR (that obviously can't be flicked off at will) in one's headphones is just as silly as building one into one's amplifier, if you ask me!]

Keep in mind, most people seek out "most pleasing to the ear" in a response curve (unfortunately) and not "most faithful to the recording and general sound reproduction", aka "fidelity (truthfulness/accuracy) which is the highest that can be achieved", or simply "hi-fi". They aren't the same thing and I even see some world renowned, JAES published, audio researchers make this exact mistake!

Some people think ultimate bass and treble extension, to the very reaches of human hearing (say from 20 to 20kHz) regardless of the level of the deviations up and down incurred to get there , is "most" important. This is a very bad approach, in my book, but I suspect it is common with people new to reading frequency response curves, trying to understand what is and isn't audibly significant. I'm much more concerned with there being as little level deviation within the musically significant 30 - 13kHz (or so) range, at the expense of overall bandwidth. This is why the MDR-V6 scores so highly in my book, despite being the least expensive pair of circumaural headphones I've ever owned!

Perhaps I'm blessed with an HRTF which closely tracks the averaged one used by these various measurement sites , when applying either a diffuse field, or more recently an Independent Direction (ID) correction curve, but all I know is the MDR-V6 don't have any blaring inaccuracies to my ears; they just sound pretty neutral. [And they are very amenable to applying bass boost, for example when I want to "rock out" or add some "equal loudness compensation" for lower level listening, on my own, for that listening session only.]

QUOTE
And on general note, is there something which measurements can't tell (esp for ... headphones) and one has to listen to decide (for that factor)


Probably the most important one to me is "comfort". There are others though.

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Martel
post Aug 6 2013, 19:22
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QUOTE (mzil @ Aug 6 2013, 19:35) *
... I'm much more concerned with there being as little level deviation within the musically significant 30 - 13kHz (or so) range, at the expense of overall bandwidth...
From my experience, 13kHz is not going to reproduce hi-hats and cymbals (snare, acoustic guitar and other metallic instruments) faithfully.
All these produce noise-like sound spread across a fairly wide frequency range (well beyond human hearing ability). This is very sensitive to both frequency range and ripple (FR spikes or dips screw up the "color" of the "noise").
For me, rolled-off/imbalanced treble is a trait of a low-end/mainstream product.


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mzil
post Aug 6 2013, 19:42
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QUOTE (Martel @ Aug 6 2013, 14:22) *
QUOTE (mzil @ Aug 6 2013, 19:35) *
... I'm much more concerned with there being as little level deviation within the musically significant 30 - 13kHz (or so) range, at the expense of overall bandwidth...
From my experience, 13kHz is not going to reproduce hi-hats and cymbals (snare, acoustic guitar and other metallic instruments) faithfully.
All these produce noise-like sound spread across a fairly wide frequency range (well beyond human hearing ability). This is very sensitive to both frequency range and ripple (FR spikes or dips screw up the "color" of the "noise").
For me, rolled-off/imbalanced treble is a trait of a low-end/mainstream product.

The Sony's aren't perfect, for sure, but I personally consider the flaws in the top octave of sound reproduction, 10kHz-20kHz, to be the least important in audio in general [especially since I'm not under 30, he-he]. That's just me though and I can respect others might feel differently.

In most music (which even has good power in that top octave, its not always there), it is usually perceptually masked by the much more powerful adjacent (lower) octave's content. Don't be swayed by your knowledge that you can successfully hear, 15kHz, 16kHz, 17kHz, heck even 20 KHz if you are very young, as an isolated tone. That's one thing, but with music [or any wideband signal], it's another.

Out of curiosity, for example, have you ever taken the high frequency cut off (aka "low pass filtered", LPF) audio blind test here?
http://www.audiocheck.net/blindtests_frequency.php

I find (in other tests) the highest frequency I can hear as an isolated tone, a sine wave, is much better than what I can actually reliably hear in that test, l linked to above, using bands of filtered noise below the frequency selected [which would better resemble actual music, including such things as high hats and cymbals]. This is because of masking. Give it a go.

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ChronoSphere
post Aug 6 2013, 20:37
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Gave it a go... I'm capping out at 15kHz (8/10), 16kHz is already nearly impossible to guess (3/10). This is kinda disappointing happy.gif

edit: that site is interesting, like the 8 vs 16 bit test

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mzil
post Aug 6 2013, 22:03
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Well look a the bright side, now you know that for music listening, you need not worry about having to buy headphones which exceed 15kHz, and you can instead focus on the accuracy of the much more important frequencies below that, so you may actually end up getting better, more accurate sound, for your ears, and you'll save money! smile.gif

---

edit to add: In the real world, with regard to music, not isolated sine waves, instead of a life-long pursuit of "20 - 20kHz" gear, all people would do much better to pursue " +/-1dB" gear; that's way more important to an overall faithful tonality, even if the gear's bandwidth isn't quite the ideal 20-20kHz.

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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Aug 7 2013, 00:23
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QUOTE (Martel @ Aug 6 2013, 14:22) *
QUOTE (mzil @ Aug 6 2013, 19:35) *
... I'm much more concerned with there being as little level deviation within the musically significant 30 - 13kHz (or so) range, at the expense of overall bandwidth...
From my experience, 13kHz is not going to reproduce hi-hats and cymbals (snare, acoustic guitar and other metallic instruments) faithfully.


In my investigations I've found that the peak output of hi hats and cymbals is in the 7-9 KHz range.

As others have pointed out while many people can hear pure tones @ say 16 or 18 KHz, clean brick wall filters as low as 16 KHz can slip right by you. It's all about masking of > 16 KHz by sounds < 16 KHz.
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Martel
post Aug 7 2013, 07:23
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The above test would be way better (more representative) if it used some real instruments instead of white noise. I find it harder to spot low pass filtering in white noise compared to some real stuff. I will try putting some samples together to illustrate my point as soon as I have some spare time.


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ChronoSphere
post Aug 7 2013, 10:50
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QUOTE (mzil @ Aug 6 2013, 23:03) *
Well look a the bright side, now you know that for music listening, you need not worry about having to buy headphones which exceed 15kHz, and you can instead focus on the accuracy of the much more important frequencies below that, so you may actually end up getting better, more accurate sound, for your ears, and you'll save money! smile.gif
Would that mean "looking at spectrogramms with mostly linear function in that range" (final decision being of course a listening test)?

QUOTE
edit to add: In the real world, with regard to music, not isolated sine waves, instead of a life-long pursuit of "20 - 20kHz" gear, all people would do much better to pursue " +/-1dB" gear; that's way more important to an overall faithful tonality, even if the gear's bandwidth isn't quite the ideal 20-20kHz.
What do you mean by "+/-1dB gear"?

QUOTE (Martel @ Aug 7 2013, 08:23) *
The above test would be way better (more representative) if it used some real instruments instead of white noise. I find it harder to spot low pass filtering in white noise compared to some real stuff.
I'd have to agree real instruments/music would have been a better test, but white noise is already much closer to it than pure tones (I can go up to 18kHz with pure tones), since you don't really have pure tones in music.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Aug 7 2013, 13:12
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QUOTE (Martel @ Aug 7 2013, 02:23) *
The above test would be way better (more representative) if it used some real instruments instead of white noise. I find it harder to spot low pass filtering in white noise compared to some real stuff. I will try putting some samples together to illustrate my point as soon as I have some spare time.


My experience is the opposite. White noise tests are generally the more sensitive test, probably because it has a flatter spectrum that most musical instruments. It is nasty to listen to which may put some people off.
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mzil
post Aug 7 2013, 16:29
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QUOTE (Martel @ Aug 7 2013, 02:23) *
The above test would be way better (more representative) if it used some real instruments instead of white noise. I find it harder to spot low pass filtering in white noise compared to some real stuff. I will try putting some samples together to illustrate my point as soon as I have some spare time.

That sounds like a good idea. Perhaps you should split it off as another thread that you link to from here, to try to gain a larger audience of listeners in the main forum, rather than only getting the exposure of the small list of people who are still actively reading this thread?

I would also recommend using short, 30 second (or so) passages from cymbal and high hat recordings where we hear those instruments by themselves, without the accompaniment of lower frequency instruments, to give listeners the best shot of hearing small differences in the highs, thanks to the greater sensitivity and lack of distractions. [Unless I misunderstood you and you feel hearing the full ensemble has importance. It is your test after all!]
---

QUOTE
My experience is the opposite
Same here. I've often used noise, usually pink, which I find to be easier on my ears (although I could see how white might provide greater sensitivity to picking up on small differences), with great success.
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mzil
post Aug 7 2013, 17:46
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QUOTE (ChronoSphere @ Aug 7 2013, 05:50) *
QUOTE (mzil @ Aug 6 2013, 23:03) *
Well look a the bright side, now you know that for music listening, you need not worry about having to buy headphones which exceed 15kHz, and you can instead focus on the accuracy of the much more important frequencies below that, so you may actually end up getting better, more accurate sound, for your ears, and you'll save money! smile.gif
Would that mean "looking at spectrogramms with mostly linear function in that range" (final decision being of course a listening test)?

For me that would certainly seem to be a good plan because I have good reason to believe that both the ID (independent direction) and slightly different DF (diffuse field) correction curves which these objective headphone reviewers apply before they post their frequency response curves [used to compensate for differences in how we hear headphones differently than speakers], pretty closely matches my own ear/head design [my "HRTF", as they call it], but that should not be assumed by all.

Conversely, the advice I often see posted in this and other forums of, to paraphrase, "Everyone hears differently, so you shouldn't worry about the measured response curves and instead should simply keep trying on different pairs until you happen to stumble upon a pair that matches your particular hearing" is even worse advice. People will inevitably seek out pleasing-to-the-ear designs [for example, a mild "smiley face EQ" response curve is one of the well known ones], but this has nothing to do with obtaining actual accuracy and high fidelity.

QUOTE
What do you mean by "+/-1dB gear"?


I mean the amplitude tolerance window that we should seek out when buying audio gear [equipment], at least in a perfect world, or the allowed deviation from a truly accurate, flat response, straying up and down from the neutral 0 dB "X-axis" by no more than a maximum of one dB, over the entire stated frequency range, or "bandwidth". [Not that I'm implying typical, commercial music recording engineers make EQ decisions based on the belief that our entire audio chain, start to finish, has a truly flat response. They don't.]

You know how we might describe a loudspeaker as having a frequency response of "20 to 20kHz, +/- 3dB"? [Usually one infers that also means "on-axis, at 1 meter, in an anechoic chamber"] I'm talking about the allowable range of deviation from perfectly neutral in that expression, or the "plus or minus" part stated at the end of the term.

A tolerance window of +/- 1dB, over the typical 20 - 20kHz bandwidth of human hearing, with low distortion throughout, is pretty easy to achieve with affordable amplifiers and CD players [which is why they all pretty much sound the same, at least usually] but it is much more difficult to achieve with affordable headphone and speaker designs [which is why they all pretty much sound different from each other].

edit: I've inserted a few links to definitions of some of the terms used, only so future readers of this thread who might not have the same background as us might better understand what I'm talking about.

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Hifisound
post Aug 8 2013, 16:05
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Headphone.com has mentioned how the FR graph of a "natural sounding" headphone should be (see How to interpret the line )

http://www.headphone.com/learning-center/a...easurements.php

Experts can comment if thats accurate...

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Martel
post Aug 8 2013, 18:17
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QUOTE (mzil @ Aug 7 2013, 17:29) *
I would also recommend using short, 30 second (or so) passages from cymbal and high hat recordings where we hear those instruments by themselves, without the accompaniment of lower frequency instruments, to give listeners the best shot of hearing small differences in the highs, thanks to the greater sensitivity and lack of distractions.
Yes, I wanted exactly that but unfortunately I own neither a drum-kit nor a full-range microphone to record it. I will try searching for some free samples on the internet. If I don't find anything, I will just cut it out of some CD. smile.gif

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mzil
post Aug 8 2013, 18:45
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QUOTE
Headphone.com has mentioned how the FR graph of a "natural sounding" headphone should be (see How to interpret the line )

http://www.headphone.com/learning-center/a...easurements.php

Experts can comment if thats accurate...

Much of what is expressed is correct, however much of what is discussed regarding why "a truly dead-flat, horizontal line response is undesirable" is more personal opinion, than fact. I agree with some of what they say, but it would be wrong to think they have the definitive word on the matter. [Also keep in mind they SELL headphones, so for them to insult what an expensive, profitable brand they sell claims, makes no financial sense.]

Although the basic mechanism of how we measure headphones [using these standardized dummy heads and comparing the response to how a perfect speaker would be perceived at the DRP, the eardrum], instead of a simpler headphone coupler method alone, is pretty well established stuff in the science community and agreed upon from studies that go back to the 1960s, where even the top scientists sometimes disagree is what exact curve we should be shooting for! [The "target curve".]

Should we look at the raw curve alone, looking for a smooth octave to octave balance, mostly? Should we worry more about where we know the ear to be most sensitive to inaccuracies of response, say near 3-4 kHz?
Should we use a free-field correction curve? One based on the speaker being 30 degrees off axis to the listener much like in most home stereos, instead? How about the speaker to the side of the ear, which is the same direction headphones actually radiate sound at you from? A diffuse field curve? An independent direction curve? Even once we pick say an FF, DF, or ID curve, who's exact curve should we use? Should we build in small room x-curve compensation? Do we need to account for no bass conduction in headphone use, compared to speakers? Does pumping up the bass to the cochlea truly replicate the bone conduction sensation lost in the body, or is that at least the cover story we go with (since we know headphones with bass boost sell better and we want to stay in business)?
Do we want the sound to be accurate and faithful, in a best case scenario "transparent" and truly indistinguishable to actual, real life sound? Or do we go by listener responses to the question "What do you like best and find most pleasing?" Do we assume most recordings have a skewed FR and if so do we want to correct that or replicate that?


As I see it, one of basic problems is that humans seek out "pleasing to the ear" or "natural to them", not "accurate to the incoming source, as the music artist intended you to hear it" and SONY and all the other companies are well aware of this and how to make their money. GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT! People just love bass. Think of how many headphones on the market even flaunt tonal inaccuracy in their very name, for example Sony's "XB" series which stands for "extra bass"! Me? I want the correct level of bass, that Yo-Yo Ma intended me to hear, no more no less.

I generally can't stand Sony headphones. The 7506/V6 is an anomaly from every other headphone they have ever made (including ones with rather similar model numbers starting with MDR-75xx or MDR-V6xx). I think it might have just been dumb luck , since they have never duplicated such an accurate (diffuse field) response ever since! If anyone has mistakenly pegged me as a "Sony fan" you should dismiss that from your mind immediately. Most of their headphones are junk.

Are you old enough to know what a "loudness" button is, found on many basic stereo systems in the 1960s through 1990s? In theory it was to "apply an equal loudness contour curve to the music to compensate for a perception of a diminished (mostly) bass, when listening at lower levels, as first measured by Fletcher and Munson in the 1930s ". And is that how most people used it? Absolutely not! People pressed it in, liked what they heard, and left it pressed in for all playback, not just lower volume sessions. Some sort of "bass kick" and/or "smiley face EQ" button I would assume still lives on in most mini systems on the market to this very day. [I haven't looked at one in decades though so I don't know for sure.]

If you ask people why they like the sound of such "enhancement" buttons [which you know to actually be just an elevated bass or perhaps instead a smiley face EQ curve] they will unabashedly respond "Because it sounds better and more natural that way." Key word: "natural" [at least in their mind]. The problem is for many compact, basic stereo systems, where a truly flat response with really good, accurate extension all the down to 20 Hz is very difficult to achieve, bumping up the bass in the octave or two above that can indeed create the illusion of deeper bass extension, flat to 20Hz, at least to a simple listener. The masses, having grown up listening to these modest, compact stereo systems with these buttons engaged, have unfortunately come to expect this sound as being "natural".

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mzil
post Aug 8 2013, 19:24
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Martel, EBU SQAM (Sound Quality Assessment Material) solo cymbals and musical triangles (also very rich in high frequency sound) can be downloaded for free here:
http://tech.ebu.ch/news/ebu-cds-now-online-31oct08

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ChronoSphere
post Aug 8 2013, 19:29
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I have the possibility to get the ATH-A900X for almost half of the EU price (~180€ vs 399€) or the ATH-M50 (~100€ vs 159€). I've been reading some reviews about the a900x and they seem positive, question is, is the ATH-A900X worth it over the M50 one? How do they compare to other headphones in the same price region? (Maybe I'm better off with, say, a German brand at the same price (100~180€) vs. the hassle of having to import the headphones?)

As for the loudness button, I'm guilty of using it myself. I don't know why, but it seems impossible to achieve the same sound by fiddling with the treble/bass knobs, and without loudness EQ I don't hear almost any low frequencies. This is only on this (cheap) Sony receiver though, I have an old Soviet made receiver and even at all treble/mid/bass knobs on neutral positions the bass is beautiful, not booming and/or covering other frequencies. So I guess you are right that the whole fascination with "smiley face" EQ sounding headphones comes from people being used to cheap receivers.

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mzil
post Aug 9 2013, 00:42
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QUOTE (Hifisound @ Aug 5 2013, 10:36) *
I have begun to like 702 more than HD600s. Its FR graph is also pretty flat (kindly correct if that's wrong)

edit to add:
Yes, flat means exactly what it seems to mean: "A straight linear line that stays right at 0 dB, or very close to it, all the way from 20 Hz (not 10Hz where the graph starts) to 20kHz" [The best case frequency range of a young person's hearing, who has never attended any loud rock concerts or dance clubs]. You don't need us to "read it" for you. smile.gif Whether flat is the goal is another matter (which I discussed in my rambling, earlier post), but flat does indeed mean flat.


You originally said the whole reason you were looking for headphones was because you needed it to not wake the baby and for office use. The AKG 701/702 are perforated on at least some of the back, no? [I've never seen them up close] Their isolation plots don't look like they'd keep sound from escaping any better than the 600's you already are complaining leak too much:
isolation plots

Isolation from sound escaping vs sound coming in aren't exactly the same, but they should be in the same ballpark.

You can get a good feel for how much leakage they have by playing them at the level you'd use them at, removing them from your head without turning down the volume, and then pressing the two ear cups against each other {ideally with a thick, dense object in between them like a large book}. The noise you are then hearing escape should be quite similar to what others around you hear when you actually use them.

This post has been edited by mzil: Aug 9 2013, 01:04
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