Equalization for Headphones Discussion

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adydula

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Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« on: 29 Sep 2019, 12:47 pm »
Hello,

Freo-1 has been experimenting with Sonarworks and has come to some conclusions as to its validity for him.

Here is a thread where we can discuss the merits of using EQ hardwar or software to "improve" your listening experience.

There are a few softare programs out there that help with this digitally with a PC or a DSP device like a phone.

On the non PC side you need to work with an hardware equalizer like Shitts "LOKI".

So do you use eq?

Note: Here is a thread that has a fairly good explanation of what and why its used, in particular the HD800s) but it could apply across the board to other headphones.
Again this is one persons opinion and experience.

https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/the-hd800-eq-ing-thread.1735/

Another good explanation on the "why"and how to"
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the-most-reliable-easiest-way-to-eq-headphones-properly-to-achieve-the-most-ideal-sound-for-non-professionals.796791/

Also to understand what equalization brings to the table its good to understand headphone measurements:
https://www.innerfidelity.com/content/headphone-measurements-explained-frequency-response-part-one

Is it good, bad or indifferent?

Like Freo-1 said "Let the debate" begin...

As usual keep it clean please!

Alex
« Last Edit: 29 Sep 2019, 01:54 pm by adydula »

Freo-1

Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #1 on: 2 Oct 2019, 07:58 pm »

After using sonarworks for a little over a week, I'm convinced that ALL headphones are flawed in one or more aspects regarding frequency response.  ALL headphones can be improved with proper equalization. 


To me, headphone reviews are incomplete, in that they are reviewed without EQ applied.  My position is that a mid-level headphone properly equalized will often sound as good or better than the higher end headphones without any EQ. 


I'm keenly aware of the audiophile dogma regarding EQ.  However, with the advances in the audio hobby, do not believe this no longer applies, especially for headphones.  Case in point:  The Sony MDR Z7 gets mixed reviews, some like it, others do not.  However, applying the EQ to the Z7 dramatically improves the overall playback.  The 70MM driver has ultra low distortion, and the EQ corrects all the peaks and dips that show up in the measurements.  It's rather amazing the difference in sound with the sonarworks corrections applied.  The EQ setup with the Z7 competes with some of the very best cans available.   


Although it's possible to attempt to mimic the sonarworks correction curves by other means (Foobar, Loki, etc), it's not easy to get the same results, especially with headphones that have a lot of variance in the measurements. 


I sincerely believe that digital EQ is the future of headphone playback. 


 


adydula

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #2 on: 2 Oct 2019, 09:00 pm »
Ok this has the makings of a good debate!!

I totally understand what your saying....

But what if a less than one hundred dollar software program improves a low to mid level set of headphones to be able to  compete with
higher end headphones??

Well we might as well buy a $300 set get the magic eq software and be done with it!!

Lots of headphone makers will not like this!!

So here is another look at this .....

I have gone thru many sets of headphones in the past several years....lots of dollars!!

They all sound "different", some closer to "flat" in their measured eq curves than others.

So on thought came to mind as Freo-1 started his eq journey into audio nirvana...

Many vendors state their headphones are the best, most lifelike, mor dynamic range and all that gorp...but they all sound different.

They are made different, different drivers, earpads, resonances etc...

So when I take of my T1's and put on the Focal Clears the first thing I said, "hey, these are tonally accurrate" even with the freq response curve being what it is.

So why are these Clears "better" in tonality than the T1's to me?

Could it be that headphones are put on heads with ears and human ears are different than measuring devices?

Could it be that Focal determined the freq curve needs to be "off flat" in measurments to sound they way they do?

....and if you flatten all headphones should they sound alike???

I like Freo-1 know there is some magic here, I think just by changing dacs and amps some magic in eq'ing takes place...the preceived sound changes...to my brain.

So even if you eq to flat, and change amps, the sound changes.

Its like a never ending race to flatten things to find that perfect playback.

I think, I really believe you can have an excellent sonic experience with and without eq...and neither is right or wrong IMO.

The one thing EQ can not do is make a 40mm driver have the respnce that a 70mm driver can, that would defy the laws of physics...and their are a few other
issues that come into play with this...

So to me eq definitely has its place in this crazy hobby...and it has its limits as well.

So what do other folks think about this??

Alex
 :D





adydula

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #3 on: 5 Oct 2019, 07:57 pm »
So I was thinking about this again today as I was listening and playing around with my equalizer settings inside of Foobar2000 and JRiver MC24.

I managed to produce eq' settings that closely match the inverse of the published curves for Focal Clears and T1's.

So if the goal here is to help the headphones to be "flat" ie 0db across the frequency spectrum then I think I am close, maybe not as good as Sonarworks but close.

But playing different songs some still sound not as good as others....so what has equalizing my transducers done for me?

It still sounds like I would benefit from an external equalizer and be able to adjust a knob quickly for each song on the fly?

Or possibly have a eq setting for an entire album if all the tunes on it were mastered the same way?

Finding even with a flat eq on the hardware digitally does not solve the variance in the eq of the source.

So this is driving me to buy a Loki and be able to twist one of four knobs to attenuate without having to open up several windows or much with sliders on a pc display...

Does any of this make sense?

Alex

Freo-1

Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #4 on: 5 Oct 2019, 08:20 pm »
I'm interested in the loki as well.  I'm not sure about the fact that there are only four frequency adjustments (20, 400, 2K, 8K).  I would have rather seen the adjustment parameters at 3K and 10K for headphones.  Still, it could improve headphone playback.

adydula

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #5 on: 5 Oct 2019, 08:52 pm »
From what I have read the eq points were well discussed and designed with wide crossover....supposed to make it easier for folks to dial in stuff with only 4 knobs vs
many...

Several folks really like the unit and it reviewed well..but I like you want to play first hand to see how this will work firsthand..

Oh Boy another new toy!!

Alex

Note: Loki is back ordered until 10/29.
« Last Edit: 6 Oct 2019, 02:38 am by adydula »

hibuckhobby

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #6 on: 6 Oct 2019, 12:54 pm »
I use the EQ in JRiver and don't ever go over 2db of boost or cut.  Have to admit I have profiles
saved for every phone I own.
regards,
Hibuck….

JLM

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #7 on: 6 Oct 2019, 01:10 pm »
Wonder if there is any known way of providing EQ for those of us (probably 98% over age 20) with hearing loss.  Most hearing loss is far greater than any headphone manufacturer would tolerate (-30 dB above 3,000 Hz is fairly typical over age 60).

NickMimi

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #8 on: 7 Oct 2019, 12:55 am »
I have sound signature preferences per genre and even further sometimes per song. I already mess with the sound curve by using a pre-amp w/tubes in line with most of my headphone amps. Personally i couldn’t care less for a flat frequency response across the board. Music is about feeling and emotion that is inspired by it, sometimes i want/need a nudge more or less of something. My 4 band Bellari eq. handles that well. Enjoy the music life is short.

adydula

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #9 on: 7 Oct 2019, 02:26 am »
We often look at headphone freq curves and wonder why the manufacturer didnt make them flat to begin with?
and if they all were flat would they sound the same?

of course there are vastly different build and hardware and electrical properties that come into play.

Also many manufacturers design there headphone to have these curves, whether we think they are good or bad.

This is partially why they sound so different...

Eq'ing IMO can only do so much...

But to many it makes things work or sound better and thats a good thing..

I am going to get a Loki to make minor changes to the material if 'needed" to suit my tastes...

Like you say Life is indeed short enjoy the music!

Alex

Freo-1

Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #10 on: 7 Oct 2019, 11:46 pm »
I have sound signature preferences per genre and even further sometimes per song. I already mess with the sound curve by using a pre-amp w/tubes in line with most of my headphone amps. Personally i couldn’t care less for a flat frequency response across the board. Music is about feeling and emotion that is inspired by it, sometimes i want/need a nudge more or less of something. My 4 band Bellari eq. handles that well. Enjoy the music life is short.



Interesting you mention that.  The most recent setup I'm experimenting with is to run the output from the Alienware computer (with sonarworks application) out to the Thomas Meyer 6AH4 preamp, and running the pre out to the Dynalo headphone amp.


So far, so good.  The 6AH4 preamp seems to enhance the output from the computer quite nicely.  It adds a bit of drive to the signal to the Dynalo headphone amp.  It also seems to "smooth out" the overall presentation.  This is well appreciated for rock/pop recordings.  Detail is excellent, as it seems to add just a hint of additional clarity. 


Need to evaluate this a bit further, but this seems like a worthwhile addition to the headphone playback setup. 

Saturn94

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #11 on: 8 Oct 2019, 03:09 pm »
Wonder if there is any known way of providing EQ for those of us (probably 98% over age 20) with hearing loss.  Most hearing loss is far greater than any headphone manufacturer would tolerate (-30 dB above 3,000 Hz is fairly typical over age 60).

Sonarworks does have an adjustable setting for age related hearing loss.

adydula

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #12 on: 9 Oct 2019, 12:23 pm »
Yes it does but its set according to what I have read based on data that is related to hearing loss as people grow older.....I dont know the actual source and how each of us fits in this analysis.

When I tried it and watched the high frequency portion of the spectrum it really boosts the higher freqs...

What I wonder is if your hearing is really bad at these freq's how can any boosting of these frequencies be heard at all??

I did a recent hearing test and my hearing is that of a 40-50 year old and I am 70...so I thank the man upstairs for this.

So when i did the age appropriate boost in Sonarworks it was too accentuated for me ears....

But I think its a noble idea and probably works for the "majority" of the aging population?

Alex

Saturn94

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #13 on: 9 Oct 2019, 04:21 pm »
Yes it does but its set according to what I have read based on data that is related to hearing loss as people grow older.....I dont know the actual source and how each of us fits in this analysis.

When I tried it and watched the high frequency portion of the spectrum it really boosts the higher freqs...

What I wonder is if your hearing is really bad at these freq's how can any boosting of these frequencies be heard at all??

I did a recent hearing test and my hearing is that of a 40-50 year old and I am 70...so I thank the man upstairs for this.

So when i did the age appropriate boost in Sonarworks it was too accentuated for me ears....

But I think its a noble idea and probably works for the "majority" of the aging population?

Alex

I had the same experience as you, so I don’t use that feature.

adydula

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #14 on: 10 Oct 2019, 11:59 am »
With the Focal Clears I have found that the way they made these headphones with their "eq" curve being what it is. most good music sounds really good without any eq'ing....and the mediocre music sounds really mediocre...so an external eq in the analog part of my setup would "help" somewhat here.

I am still debating if I want to add another device and set of cables...

Alex