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Midorka
Jun 10, 2011

I have a pretty fucking good palate, passed BJCP and level 2 cicerone which is more than half of you dudes can say, so I don't give a hoot anymore about this toxic community.


Welcome to the 4th iteration of the headphone thread! This thread is meant to discuss headphones and all things related. The OP is meant to help guide those who need help, it will never be a definitive guide to what you should and shouldnít buy because the hobby is very subjective. I will do my best to cover all of the bases, but this will constantly be a work in progress as the audio world frequently changes. With that said, welcome and I hope this is a helpful resource to you!

Glossary

There have already been some great glossaries written, you can view them through this guide or this guide.

Why headphones?

I hear this question more often that I would expect given the huge resurgence in the popularity of headphones. Many people wonder why someone would buy headphones instead of speakers, or invest so much money into them. There are many reasons. Headphones offer a personal experience while either on the go, or while at home. There are many of us who simply canít have a speaker setup due to space constraints or out of politeness for others that may be affected by the open noise. Some of us travel a lot and need a setup that allows them to block the world out. Headphones are a viable choice for those who want to experience high quality music when we can not enjoy speakers. Chances are, though, that if youíre in this thread then you already know why headphones are a great option for high quality audio.

Types of headphones

There are many types of headphones, no Iím not talking about brands and models, Iím referring to their shape, size, and fit. Letís take a look:

Earbuds

These are the type of headphones that were included with most portable players until rather recently. Earbuds sit in the ear, but do not enter the ear canal. They act as miniature loudspeakers and since they do not form a seal they not only leak sound, but they let sound in. These types of headphones are going the way of the dodo, but there are a few companies that create quality versions. These are great options for those who would like to have music available to them, but need to be aware of their surroundings.

IEMs

These have taken the space that earbuds once held. This style has become quite popular, so popular in-fact that most portable music players and phones that come with headphones will include these. IEM stands for ďin-ear monitorĒ this means that the tip of the IEM will enter the ear canal, creating a seal. This allows for great isolation from the outside world. There are many shapes and variations of this style, as well as many tip choices such as: gel, silicon and foam. These are great for anyone who wants to block out noise while experiencing high quality music on the go.

Full Size, Supa-Aural

These are the big headphones, the kind that are worn with a band over your head and bigger drivers than earbuds and IEMs. Supra-aural means that the headphone sits on the ear rather than surrounding it. These can come in open or closed variations, with the closed variations generally being the preferred choice for on-the-go full-sized listening.

Full Size, Circumaural

These are the biggest type of headphones, bigger than supra-aural. This is because the pads of the headphones completely surround the ear. These can come in open or closed variations and are generally delegated to home use. The top tier headphones are almost all in this style.

Open or Closed?

This is a popular question from those who are new to the hobby. The easiest way to answer this is by providing us the answer to one question: Do you need high isolation? If you need high isolation then closed headphones are the way to go. You will need high isolation if you share a room or are travelling, high isolation headphones will keep the sound private to you while blocking outside noises. If youíre primary listening will be done in an area where you wonít bother anyone then you donít need isolation, therefore you can go open. Open headphones, in general, will provide better sound quality than closed variants of the same price. This is largely because of the difficulties when designing the enclosure for the driver.

To amp or not to amp? Do I need a DAC?

This is a very common question that appears here. The answer can be answered rather simply, are your headphones able to go to an acceptable listening level for you? If so then you likely wonít notice a difference with an amp, if you do then you it wonít be huge as many reviewers claim. In my personal experience with many budget amps, the difference tends to be minimal when using my headphones amped and unamped.

How about a DAC? Well as with an amp, I feel that a DAC provides a minimal upgrade in sound quality, assuming that your source is presenting the music with no audible distortion. Itís more complicated than that, but in my experiences the addition of a DAC has been minimal compared to upgrading headphones directly.

If you choose to amp your headphone there are a few articles written by NwAvGuy, the creator of the O2 headphone amp and ODAC. Regardless of what your opinion of the man is, he has great knowledge of how audio works and these are great references as to how to properly amp your headphone. Starting here is the best bet, there are links throughout. The other articles I highly recommend are: Headphone Amp Impedance and More Power. Headphone Amp Impedance explains how the output impedance of an amp effects the sound of your headphones while More Power explains, with a handy chart, how much power your headphone amp needs to output given a specific impedance to reach a desired loudness.

What amp and DAC to buy? Well thatís really up to you. Do you want tubes? How about something with a variety of outputs? Personally Iím a huge fan of the O2 and ODAC, but I recently sold mine for aesthetic reasons to purchase the very capable Schiit Magni/Modi stack. Maybe youíre a bit constrained on money and need an all in one option? Well FiiO is making a lot of great products at affordable prices!

What headphone should I buy?

I thought about creating a catch all list, but the problem with that is that even though there are many great headphones, itís going to be near impossible to create anything resembling a short list given the vast amount of variables. So how can you figure out which headphones to buy? Well Iíve created a Headphone Buying Guide on Head-Fi which has a huge list of potential headphones to buy. Assuming that you still find yourself lost and want to come here for a more direct and specifically tailored answer then I would ask that you please use this format in your request so those who can help, are able to provide a direct answer without having to ask a bunch of questions:

Budget - We need to know how much youíre willing to spend so we can find suitable headphones in the price range.
Source - What will you be plugging these into? Some headphones do have amp requirements so if your source is an iPod we know not to recommend these.
Isolation Requirements - Do you need isolation?
Preferred Type of Headphone - IEM? Over-ear? Etc.
Preferred Tonal Balance - Would you prefer bass heavy headphones? Maybe one focused on vocals? Maybe balanced? Let us know.
Past Headphones - Let us know what youíve had and what youíve liked/disliked about them.
Preferred Music - Let us know what youíre listening to.

These questions will allow us to very easily narrow down your selection to a few headphones!

What to Avoid?

Noise Cancelling
In general noise cancelling is a feature that many feel they need, but do not. Noise cancelling is not designed to stop chatter or other sporadic noises. Noise cancelling is designed to stop constant noises such as the hum of a plane, or a bus. Even so, many high isolation options exist that would suit the same purpose without paying the ďtechnology taxĒ of noise cancelling.

Bose, Beats, Monster and Skullcandy
In general these companies put out products that arenít worth their price tag. They are popular companies that spend huge budgets on advertising and pride themselves on their name, not their quality. These companies do have great products so this rule is not hard and fast, but in general be wary of their products and do plenty of research to make sure youíre not getting a really poor quality item.

Cables and other nonsense
This is a hot topic amongst enthusiasts many believe that expensive cables, power supplies and other nonsense truly enhance their sound. Donít buy into it. If it sounds too good to be true, then it is. There have been many cases shoddy products put out in-order to make a quick buck off of those who are either consumed by the hobby, or believe in magic. If youíd like to upgrade your cables for appearances or durability, that is a viable upgrade, but donít expect the sound to change. There are many audiophooleries that make shoddy/dangerous products aimed at making a quick buck. Stick with common sense and youíll be okay.

Iíve got the upgrade itch, where to next?

This is a great question, in general an upgrade in headphones will offer the biggest return on investment, assuming you meet the amplification requirements for them. I believe that headphones should be the number one upgrade in almost every case, but remember that sometimes itís best to ďenjoy the rosesĒ as they say. Remember weíre purchasing this equipment in order to enjoy music, so letís enjoy the music!

Resources

Jokerís multi IEM review
ClieOSí multi IEM review
Mad Lust Envyís Gaming Headphone Guide
Headphone.com for itís graphs and information
Innerfidelity for reviews and graphs
WugLyfe's Informative post on sound

Midorka fucked around with this message at 05:23 on Sep 9, 2013

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grack
Jan 10, 2012

COACH TOTORO SAY REFEREE CAN BANISH WHISTLE TO LAND OF WIND AND GHOSTS!


I very strongly disagree with lumping Monster under the "avoid" tag. They no longer make Beats and the only really poor product in their current lineup are the Jamz. Everything else is good to excellent.

Dogen
May 5, 2002

Bury my body down by the highwayside, so that my old evil spirit can get a Greyhound bus and ride


The Turbines are actually on the recommendation list, but unless they've changed their business practices generally there's no reason to give them money when equivalent or better products are available.

Also no Klipsch IEM love?

Midorka
Jun 10, 2011

I have a pretty fucking good palate, passed BJCP and level 2 cicerone which is more than half of you dudes can say, so I don't give a hoot anymore about this toxic community.


grack posted:

I very strongly disagree with lumping Monster under the "avoid" tag. They no longer make Beats and the only really poor product in their current lineup are the Jamz. Everything else is good to excellent.

Good compared to what though? You're still paying more because Monster heavily markets their headphones, advertising fees and the Monster name get rolled into the prices of their headphones. There are plenty of companies that make excellent headphones without the huge advertising budgets, with headphones at a fraction of the cost of Monster.

Skullcandy shouldn't really be lumped there anymore either, their good/bad quality product ratio is likely to be close to any headphone manufacturer these days, but overall they do put out some junk.

As for Klipsch, nothing outside of the X10 should really be considered, from what I've read in reviews/word of mouth. I tried the S4i and $50 headphones sound better than them. Even then though, Heir Audio is putting out incredible IEMs near the same price of the X10.

And again, this is why there will never be a recommendations spot in the OP.

grack
Jan 10, 2012

COACH TOTORO SAY REFEREE CAN BANISH WHISTLE TO LAND OF WIND AND GHOSTS!


Midorka posted:

Good compared to what though? You're still paying more because Monster heavily markets their headphones, advertising fees and the Monster name get rolled into the prices of their headphones. There are plenty of companies that make excellent headphones without the huge advertising budgets, with headphones at a fraction of the cost of Monster.

The Gratitude, Turbines and Nergy are all very competitive IEMs at their current street price.

Edit: The Miles Davis Trumpet as well.

grack fucked around with this message at 19:57 on Aug 5, 2013

Anti-Hero
Feb 26, 2004


I have a pair of Sennheiser 558s that I use at home for music listening and gaming. I love them. I would love to get a second pair for my office at work. At $150/pair, and my lack of a headphone amp at the office (and listening to Pandora), makes me think a cheaper headset would perform just as well for a work environment.

Noise bleed is a not a concern, as I have my own office with a door. However, some form of noise cancelling provided by supra-aural or circum-aural is a must as I want to filter out the lower level general office drone (computers, printers, etc.). Earbuds are out as I previously had some Shure E2Cs that I couldn't wear for more than an hour at a time due to comfort issues.

Anyone have a recommendation?

Ok Comboomer
Oct 20, 2007



Anti-Hero posted:

I have a pair of Sennheiser 558s that I use at home for music listening and gaming. I love them. I would love to get a second pair for my office at work. At $150/pair, and my lack of a headphone amp at the office (and listening to Pandora), makes me think a cheaper headset would perform just as well for a work environment.

Noise bleed is a not a concern, as I have my own office with a door. However, some form of noise cancelling provided by supra-aural or circum-aural is a must as I want to filter out the lower level general office drone (computers, printers, etc.). Earbuds are out as I previously had some Shure E2Cs that I couldn't wear for more than an hour at a time due to comfort issues.

Anyone have a recommendation?

I'm a big Grado fan. The SR60i is ~70 bucks and the 80i is about $100 (the price difference either gets you markedly better high/low performance or nothing noticeable, depending on who you ask). Both headphones are on the beefy side in terms of construction and cable, which I like for regular desktop use. Both models perform absolutely fine without amplification, though they readily improve with it- making them pretty versatile.

I'd also look at the Koss Porta-Pro, although I find them to be on the fragile/flimsy side. A lot of people also find them uncomfortable, though I personally haven't had any issues. They usually go for around $40, but I've seen them at ~50% off on Amazon before- at which they're an absolute steal for the level of sound quality you get (I was afraid of breaking them so I simply bought two when they were reduced).

Captain Foo
May 11, 2004

we vibin'
we slidin'
we breathin'
we dyin'


Clever Betty

I'm looking for some new headphones - for both music and gaming; I'd like a mic built in. Does that compromise my ability to get good sound quality? Right now I'm using some Koss over-the ear (no band) headphones, which have pretty much been the best I've ever had, although they are definitely starting to wear out. Ideal budget would be around $70, but if they're going to last I could easily see myself going up to about $100. Recommendations? Should I scrap thinking of a combination headset/mic if I want decent sound quality?

e- I believe I purchased the Koss headphones from a recommendation from some iteration of this thread

Captain Foo fucked around with this message at 00:45 on Aug 6, 2013

Dogen
May 5, 2002

Bury my body down by the highwayside, so that my old evil spirit can get a Greyhound bus and ride


Anti-Hero posted:

Anyone have a recommendation?

You don't need an amp for 558s, and have you considered trying some Comply foam tips for IEMs to solve the comfort issue, if that might be a better way to go? They sell a sample pack so you can see what one works best for you.

Midorka
Jun 10, 2011

I have a pretty fucking good palate, passed BJCP and level 2 cicerone which is more than half of you dudes can say, so I don't give a hoot anymore about this toxic community.


Anti-Hero posted:

Noise bleed is a not a concern, as I have my own office with a door. However, some form of noise cancelling provided by supra-aural or circum-aural is a must as I want to filter out the lower level general office drone (computers, printers, etc.). Earbuds are out as I previously had some Shure E2Cs that I couldn't wear for more than an hour at a time due to comfort issues.

Anyone have a recommendation?

Noise bleed and isolation go hand in hand. Anything that offers good isolation will drown out the hum that you mention, especially while the music is playing. Since you like the HD558 I'm thinking you'd probably like the Brainwavz HM5. The Creative Aurvana Live would probably be a good bet too.

As for the gaming headphones question, check the link at the bottom of the OP.

Captain Foo
May 11, 2004

we vibin'
we slidin'
we breathin'
we dyin'


Clever Betty

Midorka posted:

As for the gaming headphones question, check the link at the bottom of the OP.

I read the OP, and I totally missed that link! Looking like the Skullcandy SLYR is what I'm going for. Silly name, but who really cares!


e- and purchased

Captain Foo fucked around with this message at 02:09 on Aug 6, 2013

Centzon Totochtin
Jan 2, 2009


Is the only difference between the MEElectronics M6P's and M6's the mic on the former?

Agreed
Dec 30, 2003

The price of meat has just gone up, and your old lady has just gone down



Fuckin' scuttled the old thread, rest in peace. Best of luck Midorka and thanks for taking over!

Silvain
May 19, 2006

I'm kinda awesome.

You guys know of a pair of closed headphones that sound similar to the AKG K501's? There's just too much environment noise due to computer fans and the A/C fans on the building next to ours to enjoy the 501's. I've tried EQ'ing my Denon 2000's but I can't get it to sound as good as the AKG's with classical and acoustic.

Basically, are there any closed headphones that have a wide soundstage with an emphasis on the mids around $200 or so?

Mathturbator
Oct 12, 2004
Funny original quote

Iíve got a pair of Audio Technica M50 that I drive using either my Macbook Pro, 2013 Mac Mini or iPod/iPad, using Spotify or iTunes. Music is mostly electronic and metal. I really like these cans, but I wanted to try some decent open backs and I have now got a pair of AKG K702ís incoming.

Itís impossible to read about headphones without stumbling upon the need for a DAC and/or an amplifier, and people seem to think that the K702ís profile especially need some bass boosting (for the music I listen to anyway).

Iíd like to experiment a bit with achieving better sound quality, so I might look into lossless formats and such. Iím going to listen to the K702ís for a while without anything extra, but where should I look if I want to improve or spice things up a bit?

Whatís my weakest link at the moment? Are the DAC in the MBP/Mac Mini of a decent quality? Would an amplifier improve things noticeably, or would it be a waste of money considering the music quality of Spotify and/or iTunes?

Ernie.
Aug 31, 2012



Hello, headphone thread.

I've owned (and have not necessarily been proud of):
Sony MDR-V6 (twice) - my favorite for bass so far,
Sony MDR-7506 - my favorite for techno/electronic reproduction so far,
Sennheiser 555 - my favorite for soundstage so far,
Tritton 720+ - my favorite for directionality so far,
Bose QC15 - this wins not a single category.

I'm planning on an upgrade from the $150 range to let's say the $300/$350 range.

Really the only thing I want is a jaw-dropping step-up in audio quality. A nice soundstage/tight (but not necessarily powerful) bass are the only qualities I value the most.

So far I've been eying the Senn HD6*0s, Stax SR-003, AKG Q701s - I really don't even know how these four headphones compare to each other.

My main sources are my PC with an i5 motherboard/GeForce sound, and my HTC One. I have no qualms stacking the cost of an amp to drive whatever headphones fit the bill the best.

Josh Lyman
May 24, 2009





Ernutetnoiraud posted:

Hello, headphone thread.

I've owned (and have not necessarily been proud of):
Sony MDR-V6 (twice) - my favorite for bass so far,
Sony MDR-7506 - my favorite for techno/electronic reproduction so far,
Sennheiser 555 - my favorite for soundstage so far,
Tritton 720+ - my favorite for directionality so far,
Bose QC15 - this wins not a single category.

I'm planning on an upgrade from the $150 range to let's say the $300/$350 range.

Really the only thing I want is a jaw-dropping step-up in audio quality. A nice soundstage/tight (but not necessarily powerful) bass are the only qualities I value the most.

So far I've been eying the Senn HD6*0s, Stax SR-003, AKG Q701s - I really don't even know how these four headphones compare to each other.

My main sources are my PC with an i5 motherboard/GeForce sound, and my HTC One. I have no qualms stacking the cost of an amp to drive whatever headphones fit the bill the best.
The V-Moda Crossfade M-100 might be right up your alley, around $270 on Amazon.

Alan_Shore
Dec 2, 2004



I'm going travelling soon so I'm looking to sell my Beats Solo HD (don't judge me!) and buy something more portable, so I was hoping I could get some recommendations from people who know what they're talking about (that's you!).

Budget up to $200, IEMs for portability, they'll be plugged into a phone (Galaxy Note, though I also have a Fiio E7). I do like my Beats, I think the bass sounds good and the audio is clear. I mainly listen to rock, so I guess something that has good bass and clear vocals? Basically if Queen sounds good on it, I'll be OK. I'll be OK.

Midorka
Jun 10, 2011

I have a pretty fucking good palate, passed BJCP and level 2 cicerone which is more than half of you dudes can say, so I don't give a hoot anymore about this toxic community.


Silvain posted:

You guys know of a pair of closed headphones that sound similar to the AKG K501's? There's just too much environment noise due to computer fans and the A/C fans on the building next to ours to enjoy the 501's. I've tried EQ'ing my Denon 2000's but I can't get it to sound as good as the AKG's with classical and acoustic.

Basically, are there any closed headphones that have a wide soundstage with an emphasis on the mids around $200 or so?

The KAM HP1 will be your best bet. I've not heard a closed headphone with the imaging and soundstage capabilities and level of detail that these have.

Mathturbator posted:

Iíve got a pair of Audio Technica M50 that I drive using either my Macbook Pro, 2013 Mac Mini or iPod/iPad, using Spotify or iTunes. Music is mostly electronic and metal. I really like these cans, but I wanted to try some decent open backs and I have now got a pair of AKG K702ís incoming.

Itís impossible to read about headphones without stumbling upon the need for a DAC and/or an amplifier, and people seem to think that the K702ís profile especially need some bass boosting (for the music I listen to anyway).

Iíd like to experiment a bit with achieving better sound quality, so I might look into lossless formats and such. Iím going to listen to the K702ís for a while without anything extra, but where should I look if I want to improve or spice things up a bit?

Whatís my weakest link at the moment? Are the DAC in the MBP/Mac Mini of a decent quality? Would an amplifier improve things noticeably, or would it be a waste of money considering the music quality of Spotify and/or iTunes?

If you want a cheap all-in-one option the FiiO E07k is an upgrade of the classic E7. The device features a clean DAC and amp with bass boost capabilities that only distorted on level 3 when I had the E7.

@Ernutetnoiraud It sounds like you want the HD600. You can find them used on Head-Fi for under $300. If you wind up not liking them then you can sell them back for no/minimal loss.

Ezrem
Jan 23, 2006


My wife and I are flying to Alaska, nonstop, from the midwest, on Thursday. 6 hours of fun, each way. Should go without saying that I'll be loading up the iPad with a bunch of video.

What's the best bet to have two sets of headphones connected? Is just a simple splitter going to do the trick or is there something fancier I should consider? I was thinking about getting some noise canceling headphones, but I'm not sure about driving two sets from one iPad. Is that a bad idea?

GonadTheBallbarian
Jul 23, 2007


Grimey Drawer

Not really, but make sure you take steps to minimize the need for maximum backlight on your iPad- that'll be your biggest worry as far as battery life goes

Mathturbator
Oct 12, 2004
Funny original quote

Most noise cancelling headphones I've seen has been running on a set of AAA batteries.

TenementFunster
Feb 20, 2003
Probation
Can't post for 25 days!


So the MEElectronics M6Ps I ordered came in, and I'm not a fan of the fit (especially the memory cord), and the rather astoundingly cheap build quality (especially the volume/mic controls). I'll give them a few more days and play around the the flange size, but I'll probably end up returning them.

Anyone have any recommendations for an exercise pair of earbuds with an iphone remote/mic around $75-$100?

Fallorn
Apr 14, 2005


I've been loving my V-moda V-80 headphones and I just bought the BoomPro so I can use it as my computer headset and listening headphones. I got them for $99 on amazon on a sale and the boompro thing is like $35 with shipping seems like it will still be cheaper than turtlebeach. Any one used the BoomPro?

Anti-Hero
Feb 26, 2004


Electric Bugaloo posted:

I'm a big Grado fan. The SR60i is ~70 bucks and the 80i is about $100 (the price difference either gets you markedly better high/low performance or nothing noticeable, depending on who you ask). Both headphones are on the beefy side in terms of construction and cable, which I like for regular desktop use. Both models perform absolutely fine without amplification, though they readily improve with it- making them pretty versatile.

I'd also look at the Koss Porta-Pro, although I find them to be on the fragile/flimsy side. A lot of people also find them uncomfortable, though I personally haven't had any issues. They usually go for around $40, but I've seen them at ~50% off on Amazon before- at which they're an absolute steal for the level of sound quality you get (I was afraid of breaking them so I simply bought two when they were reduced).

My concern with the Grados is they are on-ear headphones. I'd be concerned about isolating outside noises from my office, like coworkers who have no idea that the speakerphone is a poor substitute for the handset.

Dogen posted:

You don't need an amp for 558s, and have you considered trying some Comply foam tips for IEMs to solve the comfort issue, if that might be a better way to go? They sell a sample pack so you can see what one works best for you.

One of my dogs actually ate my Shure E2Cs

Midorka posted:

Noise bleed and isolation go hand in hand. Anything that offers good isolation will drown out the hum that you mention, especially while the music is playing. Since you like the HD558 I'm thinking you'd probably like the Brainwavz HM5. The Creative Aurvana Live would probably be a good bet too.

As for the gaming headphones question, check the link at the bottom of the OP.

Those Brainwavz look pretty sweet. I actually found an old pair of Sennheiser HD200's I forgot I had. They are literally 13 years old. How do they compare to newer headphones?

Ok Comboomer
Oct 20, 2007



Anti-Hero posted:

My concern with the Grados is they are on-ear headphones. I'd be concerned about isolating outside noises from my office, like coworkers who have no idea that the speakerphone is a poor substitute for the handset.

I thought you said that isolation wasn't the be-all/end-all because you've got your own office.

I have a pair of 80i that I use at home and I find them to be just isolating enough for the listener. Sound bleeding out is way more of an issue than sound getting in, IMO.

Anti-Hero
Feb 26, 2004


Electric Bugaloo posted:

I thought you said that isolation wasn't the be-all/end-all because you've got your own office.

I have a pair of 80i that I use at home and I find them to be just isolating enough for the listener. Sound bleeding out is way more of an issue than sound getting in, IMO.

Sorry, I did a poor job explaining. Sound bleed is OK because of my own office, I won't need to worry about it affecting other coworkers. Sound isolation is a big deal as there is so much ambient noise from coworkers having loud conversations in the hallways, abuse of the speakerphone, printers going off, etc.

Lowness 72
Jul 19, 2006
BUTTS LOL

Jade Ear Joe

Are Complys really that great? As much as I like listening to my Shure 215s - they're not that comfortable to wear over long periods.

Philthy
Jan 28, 2003



Pillbug

Anti-Hero posted:

Sorry, I did a poor job explaining. Sound bleed is OK because of my own office, I won't need to worry about it affecting other coworkers. Sound isolation is a big deal as there is so much ambient noise from coworkers having loud conversations in the hallways, abuse of the speakerphone, printers going off, etc.

You definitely want closed headphones then. If it bleeds out, it will generally bleed in just as much unless you've got them incredibly loud where it just doesn't matter at that point.

GonadTheBallbarian
Jul 23, 2007


Grimey Drawer

Lowness 72 posted:

Are Complys really that great? As much as I like listening to my Shure 215s - they're not that comfortable to wear over long periods.

Hit or miss. They're certainly comfortable, but it's sometimes tough to get a good fit depending on the width of the nozzle.

Midorka
Jun 10, 2011

I have a pretty fucking good palate, passed BJCP and level 2 cicerone which is more than half of you dudes can say, so I don't give a hoot anymore about this toxic community.


I don't know if I posted about it here, but a few weeks ago I was solicited about reviewing Mad Scientist Audio's Can Openers. I have received the full line and am now trying to figure out how to determine whether these are bullshit or not. I don't think it will be possible to do a double blind test on the ones for headphone use on me, as I'll notice the added weight. I received a pair that goes on your amp/DAC so that I can do a double blind test with the help of my girlfriend. I'm planning on running a double blind test on her though, but she can't really discern good from bad. I won't tell her what I'm doing at all, I'm going to have her close her eyes and let me know if she notices any better sound.

I'm 99% sure these are bullshit, I see no way these could do anything, but these were free so I have no risks. If anything I can act as a PSA to warn others.

Ok Comboomer
Oct 20, 2007



Midorka posted:

Can openers.

There's no way these aren't complete bullshit.

Y2JMatrix94
Aug 24, 2005

Working overtime, fighting crime!

Alright so I'm in the market for headphones and I THINK I know what I'm looking for but honestly I need some help.

Budget - $150
Source - Computer/iPad/iPhone
Isolation Requirements - I don't think so. I travel on a plane at most 4 times a year.
Preferred Type of Headphone - Over ear.
Preferred Tonal Balance - I want clarity, I'd like to hear each instrument if possible. I like bass but I don't need my head blown off.
Past Headphones - I own a pair of $20 Sennheiser's with a cable that's WAAAAY too long and they sound OK. Other then that I listened to some Beats at an Apple Store :/
Preferred Music - Rock predominately. Classic, and new. Metal.

I've heard V-Moda's are good but I've never been able to listen with them.

Dogen
May 5, 2002

Bury my body down by the highwayside, so that my old evil spirit can get a Greyhound bus and ride


WugLyfe posted:

Hit or miss. They're certainly comfortable, but it's sometimes tough to get a good fit depending on the width of the nozzle.

They have different models for different makes, and different sizes for different ear canals. I think they're pretty great for the most part, it just sucks that you have to replace them periodically.

GonadTheBallbarian
Jul 23, 2007


Grimey Drawer

Dogen posted:

They have different models for different makes, and different sizes for different ear canals. I think they're pretty great for the most part, it just sucks that you have to replace them periodically.

Yeah, the sheet was handy, but they didn't do so hot for me with V-Moda remix remotes.

grack
Jan 10, 2012

COACH TOTORO SAY REFEREE CAN BANISH WHISTLE TO LAND OF WIND AND GHOSTS!


Midorka posted:

Can Openers

Okay, these really sound like something that should be on Machina Dynamica. The entire website is just one gigantic piss take.

Midorka
Jun 10, 2011

I have a pretty fucking good palate, passed BJCP and level 2 cicerone which is more than half of you dudes can say, so I don't give a hoot anymore about this toxic community.


Electric Bugaloo posted:

There's no way these aren't complete bullshit.

Agreed with you and Grack. Believe me I'm the biggest anti-audio bullshit person in the world. These were free though and in the worst case I get to expose them, in the worst case they somehow have fairies in them that make things sound wonderful somehow. I know they are bullshit, but I'm going to do my best to review them fairly.

Y2JMatrix94 posted:

Alright so I'm in the market for headphones and I THINK I know what I'm looking for but honestly I need some help.

Budget - $150
Source - Computer/iPad/iPhone
Isolation Requirements - I don't think so. I travel on a plane at most 4 times a year.
Preferred Type of Headphone - Over ear.
Preferred Tonal Balance - I want clarity, I'd like to hear each instrument if possible. I like bass but I don't need my head blown off.
Past Headphones - I own a pair of $20 Sennheiser's with a cable that's WAAAAY too long and they sound OK. Other then that I listened to some Beats at an Apple Store :/
Preferred Music - Rock predominately. Classic, and new. Metal.

I've heard V-Moda's are good but I've never been able to listen with them.

I've never heard the V-Moda, but I've heard good things. I don't know about how they suit your genres though. The first thing that comes to mind that I can personally recommend are the Creative Aurvana Live. Since you're going to use them for travel, even though rarely, these should suit you for every aspect. Definitely read up on the V-Moda though.

Yoshi Jjang
Oct 5, 2011

renard renard renarnd renrard

renard




I think one thing the OP should include is WugLyfe's effort post on all that sound jargon that may confuse or deter new users or those who are curious such as myself. I find it more welcoming to read than thumbing through a glossary.

Spermanent Record
Mar 28, 2007
I interviewed a NK escapee who came to my school and made a thread. Then life got in the way and the translation had to be postponed. I did finish it in the end, but nobody is going to pay 10 bux to update my.avatar

Has anyone listened to both the Westone 4r's and the Earsonics SM64's?

Which one did you like the sound of more?

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Agreed
Dec 30, 2003

The price of meat has just gone up, and your old lady has just gone down



Yoshi Jjang posted:

I think one thing the OP should include is WugLyfe's effort post on all that sound jargon that may confuse or deter new users or those who are curious such as myself. I find it more welcoming to read than thumbing through a glossary.

Opened it up to grab that out, it's good - Midorka, do as thou wilt shall be the whole of headphone law.

WugLyfe posted:

Alright, I promised an effortpost on quantification for novices. I apologize for the length, but there's a lot of material to cover.

Headphone reviews suck.
They really really do. It's not the reviewer's fault in the slightest that their audience (and therefore language) has to be somewhat specialized, but a novice looking to get their foot in the door can easily get lost with words like "bright sound" or "muddy bass." What the gently caress does any of that mean? People who mix music will have a general idea because they deal with the demands of content creators, and there's a rough consensus on what a lot of it is. This information isn't necessarily codified anywhere, though it's referenced ad infinitum online.

The other problems lie in the fact that sound is a known phenomenon. We know how to measure it, we know how to analyze it, we know how to chart it, we even know how to cancel it out when we don't want it. Pretty much any sound, however inaudible, can be measured in one of several ways. So why then, is there such a lack of precise language in discussion on headphones? Well, it's not fun. Also, the equipment necessary is stupidly expensive, training specialized, and there are so few people willing or able to put in the work to bridge the gap between novice and audiophile. Consequently, the reviews and articles that get attention are basically tailor-made for an interested audience loaded with shibboleths and unquantifiable adjectives that are sure to confuse someone who's never described sound as having qualities that are inherently impossible for a compression wave to have.

The Science
At this point, a refresher course on how you hear sound can't hurt, but the tl;dr version of it is:

1) Sound is directed down your ear canal by your pinna (outer ear)
2) Sound travels down your ear canal to your eardrum
3) Eardrum vibrates, moves inner ear bones
4) Inner ear bones (malleus, incus, stapes) interact with cochlea
5) Inside the cochlea are tiny hairs called stereocilia that move when jostled by fluid in cochlea
6) movement of stereocilia initiates the chemical process of sending signals to your brain to be interpreted as sound.

Kinda complicated, not gonna lie. The important bit here is that there are so many factors at any point that can alter what and how you hear the world, and this is extremely apparent when you plop headphones on your skull. While having excess earwax can gum up the works, other things like noise-induced hearing loss can occur in specific ranges of frequencies, your outer ears, a fever, your age, dehydration, tinnitus, etc. can all affect your hearing as well. This is important because your experience with certain headphones WILL NOT be identical to anyone else's, and this is why.

This isn't about headphones. You promised a post about headphones.

I'm getting to that. For now, I need to point out that due to the nature of how your ears work, there are certain "hardware limitations" of anyone listening to headphones. For example, if you're over the age of 25, chances are good that you can't hear anything above 17kHz (17,000Hz), and there are even anti-teen loitering devices made using this frequency, which most older adults cannot hear. Your ears are not as sensitive as you think. However, this does not stop some people from "hearing" things when given a positive suggestion. Don't don't don't take anyone's word on something unless they can show you proof, because there's always the risk that it's just bullshit. In comes the language aspect.

Finally.

While to a small segment of the audio enthusiast population, terms like "gritty" (increased distortion in the 30-65Hz range) mean something near-concrete for a certain purpose, unquantifiable adjectives are often used by marketing types to get you thinking that the gear they're hawking has a positive quality to it. Terms like "bright," "full," and "rich" are used to dupe people into associating the implied positive qualities to those words with something that cannot possibly be true. Sound does not give off light, nor can it contain anything, etc.

Because these marketing terms are aimed at the novice who knows that they aren't experts in the field, they see other people saying these things, and trust that they're meaningful. They're not, however, cognitive dissonance doesn't come into play until someone who buys into that language is confronted with the fact that it's total horse poo poo.

In an effort to find meaning in words that are bandied about without an actual definition, people associate qualities that by all accounts are fairly logical when you consider some of their implications. For example, a pair of headphones with "full" sound is often associated with a pair of cans that can output a large range of frequencies that include the harmonics of each note in your music. "Thin" or "tinny" sound is closer to what you hear from a telephone, which typically cuts off (or clips at 7-8kHz) at about half the range of frequencies that you can hear. Therefore, the range of frequencies (often listed a little greater than it actually is on the specifications of each pair of headphones) is what you're looking for here.

Neat. Translations.

Not quite, but there are more terms that have rough associations with real phenomena. There are others that don't, but by the end of this you'll probably categorically reject any more unquantifiable adjectives anyways.

Terms like "dark," "bright," "overpowering," "sweet" etc actually refer to certain ranges of emphasis or underemphasis; frequencies that are made to be louder or softer than others. If you look at a frequency response graph, it can be a little daunting, but the relevant information is easy to glean with some direction. For the sake of brevity in this post (har har) you should read this article on how to read an FR graph, as it puts it into a good perspective.

The short of it? A flat frequency response (all frequencies output at the same volume dB) is "ideal." However, this isn't ideal for everyone, and more suited for content creators than casual listeners. Most headphones have a more erratic response to emphasize certain ranges of frequencies to boost what people typically like in music. Any child of the 80s will remember bass boost; the Beats boost this range of frequencies to a crazy degree, but some people like that. Same goes for higher frequencies too: many manufacturers boost the 5-9kHz range to get some of the harmonic frequencies or higher-pitched stuff that gets lost behind other emphasized frequency ranges to show up in your music.

Bleargh, booo-ringg

Yep, and it gets worse. Headphones are based on lots of really old technology. The consumer-grade stuff is based on a lot of the same patents used in your regular old computer speakers, so there are other things that will impact what you hear out of your headphones. Your drivers (speakers) can only move so fast to produce sound, and this will add some low-level distortion to your music, as well as make some frequency sounds linger for a while. In music, this often means that a low frequency sound like a drum or bass drop lasts a bit longer than it should, but this can be measured by sending a quick burst of sound (or impulse) at a high level, and measure with a microphone apparatus how long it takes for the burst to be gone. A long response means that some sounds are likely to linger on too long and cover up less powerful sounds, and a short response means that this malady is unlikely.

This is usually referred to as "leaking," but that's really not an accurate term, now is it?

Oh, that's useful. What else can be measured?

All sorts of stuff. Tracking, for example, is measuring the channel preference (which side is louder at certain frequencies) of your headphones, which can completely ruin your experience through making certain instruments sound like they're only coming in one ear or the other. Very distracting.

Other things that can be measured are response time (how quickly/accurately the headphones can create sound and change frequencies), total harmonic distortion calculates the total distortion along all harmonics of frequencies (the higher the measure, the worse your music will sound), and even interference from comb filtering from echoes of sound at the same amplitude and frequency can cancel out short ranges of sound (typically only a problem with closed-back cans). There are tons of things that can affect your listening experience, 99% of which can be scientifically measured, displayed in a graph, and explained to you.

The Un-science

Believe it or not, your brain makes decisions on its own about a lot of things. Typically, this doesn't matter in your day-to-day life, but remember when you were little, and you asked Dad a million questions and never thought to fact-check? Like it or not, when it comes to new subjects, you still do the same thing. If someone you trust tells you that something is so, you tend to believe it. There is a big rift between people who think sound can't be objectively measured (Subjectivists), and those who do (Objectivists) . While the sides outlined in the link highlight the extremes, a fair bit of what happens in your listening actually happens in your brain, and not in your ears.

You just championed science, and now you're telling me that subjective stuff matters too?

Sometimes. A lot of it has to do with neuroscience though, and unless you're willing to do an intense study of your own thought processes with electrodes, lab workers at a university, and a generous grant, this ain't getting measured by science. However, that's not to say that any of that stuff mentioned before doesn't matter: it does. What I'm going to hash out now is simply highlighting that your brain plays tricks on you, and anyone thinking that the placebo effect doesn't play a role in how people view their own products is a fool.

So I'm an idiot now

What? No. Misled? Maybe, but I like to use the term: "not an expert in neuroscience." Not as pejorative, I think, and honestly, most anyone should be okay with not holding a PhD in that field. Anyways, your brain is an amazing organ. Like the internet, it is the center of a vast amount of information and control. Also like the internet, it does a lot of stupid poo poo. It has the ability to give you false sensory output (or alter it), and disregard some things over others. As you may have guessed, your hearing isn't immune from this tendency.

Based on a laundry list of factors, your hearing (or rather, your brain's interpretation of sound) can be altered. For example, your brand-new headphones are described as sounding a certain way, and due to the aforementioned placebo effect, you'll convince yourself you hear it.

Listening to communities that use the strange unsubstantiated adjectives also has a sociological component too: reasoning in groups can have lasting effects on a large population of homogenous (ie, shared background assumptions and views) people's widely-held assumptions, and opposing viewpoints are often disregarded. Beliefs that come about as a result of confirmation bias can trigger a placebo effect, and if this happens how you perceive sound will be impacted in some capacity by what assumptions and beliefs you hold.

Weird. So how do I find headphones I like?

The dirty little secret is, if you find headphones that work for you, fantastic, those are great headphones. This differs from person to person wildly, and you should never feel bad for liking something different. When you get into the higher end, you might run across headphones that have different electrical requirements, but overall, there is no one best pair of headphones because different people value different things in their cans. Unless you're comparing certain performance points, rarely can you say that one set of headphones is objectively better than another. This thread can help you find headphones to fit certain needs, but overall, it's tough to find reviews or opinions that will leave you with a complete picture of how a pair of headphones work for you. Go out to a brick and mortar store, try some on.

If you can't, there are a couple review sites out there that use scientifically-collected data, and if you like that, great! However, some of the data can get confusing. Just do the best you can, and think hard about what you really like about some headphones, what you hate, and just keep on truckin'. You'll find something that works for you eventually.

Let me know if y'all need anything else out of the thread before it gets archived.

Agreed fucked around with this message at 14:39 on Aug 7, 2013

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