Best studio headphones?

Anything about hardware musical instruments.
SparkySpark
KVRAF
1611 posts since 30 Aug, 2004 from Skövde, Sweden

Post Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:31 am

Hi,

Thanks for the discussion re other things than frequency response, like distorsion. However, I truly feel the K240 lack seriously in the bass department and that the 7506 are too harsh. EQing wouldn't give much precision I think, so I'd gladly buy another set of headphones with a flat response (or a musically flat - maybe there really should be rollofs in either end, but spikes in the vocal range or overemphasized bass is not OK in my opinion). Studio monitors are not much better, if the room is untreated, and how many have a treated studio at home?

I have read some posts re Morphit and Reference. I'd say most trust Reference over MorphIt but many do the opposite as well.

In any case, here are three graphs for the DT headphones.

DT770: White
DT880: Blue
DT990: Orange
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Making music is a nine-to-five job:
From 9 PM to 5 AM.
Go MuLab!

enroe
KVRian
1021 posts since 19 Mar, 2008 from germany

Re: Best studio headphones?

Post Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:08 pm

DrGonzo wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:53 am
I know my AKG 271s aren't the most expensive and high-end there is, but damn I love them :love:
I used them for so long now that I already can guess how things will sound in the monitors.

/C
Yes yes! Even if your headphones are not soooo analytical, most important
is that you KNOW how they sound! So you can be lucky with your AKG 271. :clap:
free mp3s + info: andy-enroe.de songs + weird stuff: enroe.de

BerryLaCroix
KVRist
33 posts since 9 Apr, 2018

Re: Best studio headphones?

Post Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:38 pm

andymcbain wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 4:02 am
SparkySpark wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 2:09 am
Hi again,

Inspired by the discussion in this thread, I have taken a few screenshots from MorphIt (https://www.toneboosters.com/tb_morphit_v1.html). Full disclosure: I use the demo version of MorphIt, as I am not convinced it actually makes my headphones sound flat. I'd happily buy it if it really leveled out the differences between headphones.
I tried Morphit after trying Sonarworks and the curves for my Sennheiser HD650 were very different. I know the Sonarwork's guys are doing their own measurements which gave me a little more faith in Sonarworks - plus I preferred the sound. Does anyone know where the data for Morphit's curves comes from?
Not sure headphones should be tuned flat, I think they should be tuned towards a publicly available target curve, that ensures consistent playback between what you hear while mixing and what other people will listen to (speakers, headphones, in a car, etc).
Without a publicly available target curves, this seems impossible. And this is where sonarworks falls short. No published curves. How can we make sure that something that sounds good with their target curve, will sound good anywhere else?

Toneboostesr uses the Harman curves as taret. Well published for about a decade. You know what they are (they are in their papers). No secrets, no marketing yadayada.

The Sennheiser HD650 is a good example actually. Its response is quite close to the Harman curves, and Morphit correctly applies only little correction. Sonarworks on the other hand tries to make it sound nice. But that's not what I need. I need a reliable sound that translates. Not a 'sounds goodomaker' for headphones.

SparkySpark
KVRAF
1611 posts since 30 Aug, 2004 from Skövde, Sweden

Re: Best studio headphones?

Post Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:39 am

BerryLaCroix wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:38 pm
andymcbain wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 4:02 am
SparkySpark wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 2:09 am
Hi again,

Inspired by the discussion in this thread, I have taken a few screenshots from MorphIt (https://www.toneboosters.com/tb_morphit_v1.html). Full disclosure: I use the demo version of MorphIt, as I am not convinced it actually makes my headphones sound flat. I'd happily buy it if it really leveled out the differences between headphones.
I tried Morphit after trying Sonarworks and the curves for my Sennheiser HD650 were very different. I know the Sonarwork's guys are doing their own measurements which gave me a little more faith in Sonarworks - plus I preferred the sound. Does anyone know where the data for Morphit's curves comes from?
Not sure headphones should be tuned flat, I think they should be tuned towards a publicly available target curve, that ensures consistent playback between what you hear while mixing and what other people will listen to (speakers, headphones, in a car, etc).
Without a publicly available target curves, this seems impossible. And this is where sonarworks falls short. No published curves. How can we make sure that something that sounds good with their target curve, will sound good anywhere else?

Toneboostesr uses the Harman curves as taret. Well published for about a decade. You know what they are (they are in their papers). No secrets, no marketing yadayada.

The Sennheiser HD650 is a good example actually. Its response is quite close to the Harman curves, and Morphit correctly applies only little correction. Sonarworks on the other hand tries to make it sound nice. But that's not what I need. I need a reliable sound that translates. Not a 'sounds goodomaker' for headphones.
I couldn't agree more. And now what you are saying is more important than ever as so many listeners have moved away from Hifi stereos to headphones. Why mix for something people won't use for listening to your music?
Making music is a nine-to-five job:
From 9 PM to 5 AM.
Go MuLab!

SparkySpark
KVRAF
1611 posts since 30 Aug, 2004 from Skövde, Sweden

Re: Best studio headphones?

Post Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:50 am

Here's the freq response chart INVERTED for Sennheiser HD650.

I found it interesting to see that this is much flatter than the HD800, which, if I remember correctly, is a much higher priced and appreciated unit.

HD650 = orange
HD800 = green
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Making music is a nine-to-five job:
From 9 PM to 5 AM.
Go MuLab!

User avatar
tehlord
KVRAF
7760 posts since 22 Sep, 2008 from Windsor. UK

Re: Best studio headphones?

Post Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:57 am

It's funny that so many people think the answer is NOT the Beyerdynamic DT range. It's funny that so many people can be wrong, yet think they're so right.

enroe
KVRian
1021 posts since 19 Mar, 2008 from germany

Re: Best studio headphones?

Post Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:39 pm

tehlord wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:57 am
It's funny that so many people think the answer is NOT the Beyerdynamic DT range. It's funny that so many people can be wrong, yet think they're so right.
Once again:

The frequency response doesn't say much. Also because you can correct
any frequency-line with any good eq. Also a very cheap Headphone can
be made to have a nearly linear frequency curve.

Much more important are the distortion diagrams, intermodulation diagrams
and impulse-response diagrams. These diagrams correlate with the sound
of a headphone!

Or in other words: Even if the frequency diagram looks quite linear
a single impulse can be buried in sludge and mud. Technically the
stiffness and the low weight of the membrane decide whether a
headphone sounds dull, muddy and harsh - or transparent, soft
and analytical.
free mp3s + info: andy-enroe.de songs + weird stuff: enroe.de

SparkySpark
KVRAF
1611 posts since 30 Aug, 2004 from Skövde, Sweden

Re: Best studio headphones?

Post Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:54 pm

enroe wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:39 pm
Once again:

The frequency response doesn't say much. Also because you can correct
any frequency-line with any good eq. Also a very cheap Headphone can
be made to have a nearly linear frequency curve.

Much more important are the distortion diagrams, intermodulation diagrams
and impulse-response diagrams. These diagrams correlate with the sound
of a headphone!

Or in other words: Even if the frequency diagram looks quite linear
a single impulse can be buried in sludge and mud. Technically the
stiffness and the low weight of the membrane decide whether a
headphone sounds dull, muddy and harsh - or transparent, soft
and analytical.
Enroe,

Thanks. Are there some kind of similar graphs regarding these matters, so that headphones can be compared in terms of distorsion etc?

BTW, the freq response should be of importance (I think) when considering whether the bass, vocals or treble are too loud. For me, the sound is not the most crucial aspect of headphones really but the balance between these three.
Making music is a nine-to-five job:
From 9 PM to 5 AM.
Go MuLab!

JCJR
KVRAF
2727 posts since 17 Apr, 2005 from S.E. TN

Re: Best studio headphones?

Post Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:45 pm

It is possible to artificially construct (at least in DSP or electronics) specialized non-trivial impulse responses which have flat frequency response.

These are called allpass filters. At the extreme you can make a very long-decay array of allpass filters into a long-tail reverb which obviously has a non-trivial impulse response but still exhibits flat frequency response.

Smaller amounts of allpass can mess with the impulse rather drastically as shown on a computer analysis window, but be "rather difficult to hear" by humans listening to music. If the allpass filter is not moving in center frequency or mixed with the dry signal (as is easily ear-discernible in Phaser effect boxes and plugins)--Given a "naked" allpass filter only minor screwing up the frequency-dependent impulse a few ms, no change in frequency response, it can be beastly difficult for a human ear to a/b detect this kind of messed-up impulse response.

However, allpass filters are only a tiny subset of all the possible "messed up impulse responses" that could exist in the universe. It is easy to make an allpass filter in analog electronics or DSP but I suspect it would be very difficult to intentionally build an acoustic allpass filter as a speaker or headphone that massively screws up the impulse response while preserving a ruler-flat frequency response.

If we consider the vast majority of "messed-up impulse responses" which do not cunningly have flat frequency response-- Except for the special case of allpass filters, then if the impulse response is messed up then it will result in a non-flat frequency response. And if we have a non-flat frequency response then it is almost guaranteed that the impulse response will be messed up as well.

Maybe there would be some rare exceptions, but even a DSP linear phase EQ will mess up the impulse response. There won't be phase shift when you boost-cut bands, but there will be pre-post ringing in the impulse response.

It is (IMO) a fools errand to try excessively hard to flatten the response of a speaker or phones with bad frequency response. It probably won't sound very good even if you succeed.

But if you happen to find a speaker or phones with naturally "pretty flat frequency response" without any EQ, then as a general rule in the acoustical real-world I think you will find that any such "pretty flat" speaker or phones will also have a well-behaved impulse response. Because if the transducer didn't have a pretty well-behaved impulse response then it is highly unlikely that it would have a "pretty flat" frequency response.

SparkySpark
KVRAF
1611 posts since 30 Aug, 2004 from Skövde, Sweden

Re: Best studio headphones?

Post Mon Aug 26, 2019 1:45 pm

Hi again,

Since I own Ozone Elements, I have looked into the tempting current upgrade price of 99 bucks to Ozone Advanced. This product includes (among other modules) Tonal Balance Control, which lets the user choose a reference track/genre and does some spectral balancing to match the track to the reference.

I know there are some EQ's doing this too, but I would guess Ozone does this in a more powerful way. The reason why I am thinking of this solution is that the DT880's sound rather lame to me. If lame = flat (not sure that's correct) then I'd prefer to mix on my favourite (somewhat flat) headphones and then let Ozone do the EQing. After all, I would think Ozone would do a better job at this seemingly easy task than I would with DT880s or even with a sonically treated home studio. (It wouldn't surprise me if automatic tools would do a better job than I would in a superb studio.)

(The link goes to Neutron - I guess Tonal Balance Control is included in both products.)
https://www.izotope.com/en/products/mix ... ntrol.html
https://www.izotope.com/en/blog/masteri ... one-8.html
Making music is a nine-to-five job:
From 9 PM to 5 AM.
Go MuLab!

Eclectus
KVRist
218 posts since 1 Dec, 2013 from Belgium

Re: Best studio headphones?

Post Mon Aug 26, 2019 1:51 pm

SparkySpark wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 1:45 pm
Hi again,

Since I own Ozone Elements, I have looked into the tempting current upgrade price of 99 bucks to Ozone Advanced. This product includes (among other modules) Tonal Balance Control, which lets the user choose a reference track/genre and does some spectral balancing to match the track to the reference.

I know there are some EQ's doing this too, but I would guess Ozone does this in a more powerful way. The reason why I am thinking of this solution is that the DT880's sound rather lame to me. If lame = flat (not sure that's correct) then I'd prefer to mix on my favourite (somewhat flat) headphones and then let Ozone do the EQing. After all, I would think Ozone would do a better job at this seemingly easy task than I would with DT880s or even with a sonically treated home studio. (It wouldn't surprise me if automatic tools would do a better job than I would in a superb studio.)
So you are suggesting Ozone Elements as the best studio headphones? Interesting!

BerryLaCroix
KVRist
33 posts since 9 Apr, 2018

Re: Best studio headphones?

Post Mon Aug 26, 2019 3:32 pm

enroe wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:39 pm
tehlord wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:57 am
It's funny that so many people think the answer is NOT the Beyerdynamic DT range. It's funny that so many people can be wrong, yet think they're so right.
Once again:

The frequency response doesn't say much. Also because you can correct
any frequency-line with any good eq. Also a very cheap Headphone can
be made to have a nearly linear frequency curve.

Much more important are the distortion diagrams, intermodulation diagrams
and impulse-response diagrams. These diagrams correlate with the sound
of a headphone!

Or in other words: Even if the frequency diagram looks quite linear
a single impulse can be buried in sludge and mud. Technically the
stiffness and the low weight of the membrane decide whether a
headphone sounds dull, muddy and harsh - or transparent, soft
and analytical.
You might want to read up on a lot of Harman / Sean Olive's papers in Journal of the audio engineering society (there's about 2 dozen of them). Harman looked extensively at non-linear distortion and frequency response, and which of those had a larger effect on perceived quality. In fact, there was virtually no effect of non-linear distortion. Most headphones can reproduce high SPL levels with virtually no noticeable distortion (such as harmonic and intermodulation distortion), and therefore they've concluded several times that frequency response is in fact the dominating factor for quality for headphones.

Have a look here; there's a wealth of information on headphone correction:
http://www.aes.org/e-lib/collections/?ID=5

SparkySpark
KVRAF
1611 posts since 30 Aug, 2004 from Skövde, Sweden

Re: Best studio headphones?

Post Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:54 pm

Eclectus wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 1:51 pm
So you are suggesting Ozone Elements as the best studio headphones? Interesting!
Well, Ozone Advanced, but essentially yes, at least for hobby musicians within a decade or so. (That is also the reason why Ozone, Nectar and Neutron exist: to be the perfect engineer for mixing/mastering and leave all creative decisions to the user.)

I believe that in ten years' time, using Izotope products or similar will be a no-brainer for all but the most diehard mastering aficionados. But are these tools enough today - I just don't know.

I found a thread a while ago comparing results from Ozone, LandR and ... (the other one). The results were rather conclusive: LandR gave the best results and Ozone the "worst", meaning they were still good but not as good as the other two.
Making music is a nine-to-five job:
From 9 PM to 5 AM.
Go MuLab!

Eclectus
KVRist
218 posts since 1 Dec, 2013 from Belgium

Re: Best studio headphones?

Post Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:15 am

SparkySpark wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:54 pm
Eclectus wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 1:51 pm
So you are suggesting Ozone Elements as the best studio headphones? Interesting!
Well, Ozone Advanced, but essentially yes, at least for hobby musicians within a decade or so. (That is also the reason why Ozone, Nectar and Neutron exist: to be the perfect engineer for mixing/mastering and leave all creative decisions to the user.)
Cool, thanks. Are the elements comfortable to wear? Do they block a lot of noise? Do they have a replaceable cable? Or do I need the advanced for that?

enroe
KVRian
1021 posts since 19 Mar, 2008 from germany

Re: Best studio headphones?

Post Tue Aug 27, 2019 3:37 am

BerryLaCroix wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 3:32 pm
You might want to read up on a lot of Harman / Sean Olive's papers in Journal of the audio engineering society (there's about 2 dozen of them). Harman looked extensively at non-linear distortion and frequency response, and which of those had a larger effect on perceived quality. In fact, there was virtually no effect of non-linear distortion. Most headphones can reproduce high SPL levels with virtually no noticeable distortion (such as harmonic and intermodulation distortion), and therefore they've concluded several times that frequency response is in fact the dominating factor for quality for headphones.

Have a look here; there's a wealth of information on headphone correction:
http://www.aes.org/e-lib/collections/?ID=5
Hi,

yeah, I think you misunderstood what you read there. :)
In one article is stated that it is difficult to measure non-linear distortion:
Comparison of nonlinearities between different earphone models is not directly possible due to their different sensitivities and the high dynamics in the transducer's frequency response. Also, nonlinearities are highly dependent on the level of the excitation signal. An approach to overcome these differences and allow for fair comparison is proposed. The method is based on filtering commonly used stimuli like pink sweeps with a linear correction filter. This filter is obtained by a measurement at low input levels where the transducer shows linear behavior. The nonlinear response is then measured at different levels and THD is computed. In this way the non-linearity or different transducers can be compared directly. Some examples demonstrating the performance of consumer grade earphones are presented and discussed. The results show that nonlinearities mainly appear for low frequency excitation.
Generally - I don't know what expertise you have - the distortion is the main factor
for sound quality.

Even a novice in electronics can create every frequency-response curve by using
RC-elements. So the frequency curve really doesn't say anything.

Instead: It is important how a headphone reacts on a dirac-impulse. A cheap
headphone would have many overswings and ringing - regardless of its
frequency curve! These overswings and ringings make the sound grubby and
dull - no matter how much treble or bass it has.
free mp3s + info: andy-enroe.de songs + weird stuff: enroe.de

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