Equalization for Headphones Discussion

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adydula

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Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« on: 29 Sep 2019, 12:47 pm »
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« Last Edit: 8 Mar 2020, 10:38 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 »
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« Last Edit: 8 Mar 2020, 10:38 pm by adydula »

adydula

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #3 on: 5 Oct 2019, 07:57 pm »
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« Last Edit: 8 Mar 2020, 10:38 pm by adydula »

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 »
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« Last Edit: 8 Mar 2020, 10:38 pm 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 »
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« Last Edit: 8 Mar 2020, 10:39 pm by adydula »

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 »
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« Last Edit: 8 Mar 2020, 10:39 pm by adydula »

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 »
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« Last Edit: 8 Mar 2020, 10:39 pm by adydula »

adydula

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #15 on: 27 Dec 2019, 03:03 pm »
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« Last Edit: 8 Mar 2020, 10:39 pm by adydula »

HAL

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #16 on: 27 Dec 2019, 03:19 pm »
If you are using a PC/MAC for file replay, then another option is running MathAudio Headphone EQ.  Is also be a VST plug-in for lots of players, or a component for Foobar2000.  The computer is the DSP in this case.

A calibrated USB mic and the DAC will work for measurements.

I run Math Audio RoomEQ on my PC speakers for better response. 

dB Cooper

Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #17 on: 27 Dec 2019, 07:15 pm »
Headphones are extremely hard to measure accurately, as anyone who ever compared HeadRoom and Innefidelity graphs of the same headphones will recognize.
The following all purport to be measurements of the same headphones (Shure SE535, which I used to be an owner of) :










At least two of these were created by professionals, using high-grade equipment. They are obviously dramatically different. Which (if any) is right? Who knows? And if you don't know, how do you equalize with any degree of certainty?

It has been claimed that flat frequency output from headphones does not translate to subjectively neutral sound. This AFAIK is the basis for the 'Harman Target Curve'. Regarding IEMs specifically, the ~2kHz peak created by the shape of the earlobe (the pinna specifically) is bypassed completely by the direct ear canal insertion, so in order to sound 'flat', an IEM must have that peak built into its raw FR or it will sound like a 'suckout' in that very important range.

I tried Sonarworks and liked it but it only supported two of my cans, neither of which I have anymore. I also used to have an app for my iPhone that had EQ presets for various headphones, but to return to my original point, from what data were they generated and how reliable is that data?

Obviously a tricky problem. These days, I use EQ mostly just to tame (IMMJ) 'bright' recordings and little else.

HAL

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #18 on: 27 Dec 2019, 08:02 pm »
The response of the headphones has to be modified by the ear's pinna impulse response to give overall flat response.  This has to be part of the headphone EQ or it will not sound good.  You can use a generalized ear impulse response but it may or may not sound good for you. 

The accurate way is measuring the HRTF (head related transfer function) to get an accurate in ear response for a person. 


hibuckhobby

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Re: Equalization for Headphones Discussion
« Reply #19 on: 28 Dec 2019, 04:12 pm »
My somewhat Luddite-like response to the issue is that I like what I like.  I have been
a singer and musician for over 50 years so when I listen to headphones that "seem" a
bit bright to me, I pull down the response around 6-10k a bit.  I guess, I don't so much
care about a frequency graph as I do the on-head response/sound.
YMMV,
Hibuck...