Merv's Politically Incorrect Audio Blog

Discussion in 'SBAF Blogs' started by purr1n, Dec 26, 2018.

  1. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

    Friend BWC MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    10,248
    Dislikes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    On planet
    I for one would very much benefit from such an encyclopedia. My current method of triangulating involves owning several known headphones, listening to them on select head-amps (also known entities) and comparing my own auditory experiences with the comments posted.
     
    dubharmonic likes this.
  2. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

    Friend BWC Executed
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,745
    Dislikes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Grand Rapids
    There's no substitute for this anyway. It is the only way to navigate this hobby and browse forums without going crazy.

    There is a sense that an encyclopedia of terms would do a disservice to the hobby on a whole. I imagine n00bs on r/headphones misinterpreting and extrapolating based on their own false assumptions. Codifying the audio experience with mere language is a pitfall in that sense; there needs to be a firsthand connection to the experience in order for the language to convey meaning. How can sour mean anything to someone who has only tasted sweet their whole life?
     
    Priidik and Richgard like this.
  3. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Non Voting Friend

    Slaytanic Cliff Clavin
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,046
    Dislikes Received:
    103
    Trophy Points:
    113
    You can typically just measure flaws in drivers, cabs, and crossovers if you know what to measure as purrin pointed out. Like the Focal tweeters are all horrific if you know what to look for; even the beryllium ones with the breakup well past the audible range have audible resonances that come up in any FR chart and they sound nasty. The woofer can be really bad too. Then

    Now take something like mic pres and ad converters. Objectivists on ASR and reddit will tell you that all clean mic pres sound the same and that something like Neve is less transparent than what is in a Focusrite due to the THD. But you can do a simple test. Mic up a cab, play cleanly through a resonant wood guitar like a Les Paul. Run it through various pres and the ones that are awful will not let the body and ringing of the guitar you hear in real life come though. All of those pres the objectivists criticize the transformers and opamps in will let it come through on excellent if slightly colored stuff like Neve and Apogee. Awful stuff like Focusrite, RME, and Audient will just destroy the instrument. And some of these interface pres that vary wildly in sound are based around the same TI PGA2500 or 2505 chip pres. Yeah Focusrite and RME uses the same basic chip pres as the Prism Sound and MOTU AVB stuff but the first two sound a good deal worse due to poor design.
     
    allegro, Priidik, OJneg and 3 others like this.
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    50,694
    Dislikes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    Or they look at one measurement (usually THD of a 1kHz 0dbFS signal) and through confirmation bias instantly pronounce that they cannot hear a difference. It's also possible they are deaf. Can't help any this. The very strange and ironic thing is that some continue to chase measurements which would otherwise indicate no difference. Is 134db SINAD really any better than 94db SINAD?

    The best measurement system, despite variability because of mood or individuals' varying Kung Fu, remain human ears. Ultimately, it's about how we hear and listen. An AP-555 doesn't do that.
     
    Ash1412, Wushuliu, OJneg and 3 others like this.
  5. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Non Voting Friend

    Slaytanic Cliff Clavin
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,046
    Dislikes Received:
    103
    Trophy Points:
    113
    They also constantly move the goalposts. I remember objectivists offered on youtube a couple years ago someone a hundred bucks who can hear the difference between a Focusrite and an SSL pre. The difference was incredibly obvious even with youtube compression and the downloaded files had difference wave forms. They of course never paid out and just said it was impossible placebo.
     
    allegro, Ash1412, Johnston98 and 5 others like this.
  6. Johnston98

    Johnston98 Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2019
    Likes Received:
    59
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Michigan
    That’s for that as well.

    The argument being made was that timbre was a construct of distortion and frequency response. The other was to question the validity of timbre matching transducers in a multichannel setup.Two transducers with the exact same specs should sound the same. To be fair, that could mean anything.

    Your and purr1n’s responses are the direction I was heading in the argument. I was curious to hear your take on things. Thanks.
     
  7. Johnston98

    Johnston98 Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2019
    Likes Received:
    59
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Michigan
    That’s why you’re a trusted reviewer/measurer. When someone reads your posts and measurements, they know where you’re coming from. Your words, descriptions, and comparisons provide the context to your answer.

    You don’t just plug something in to your analyzer, listen to it at full volume with your one pair of headphones, and say it’s crap or good.
     
  8. Wushuliu

    Wushuliu Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2019
    Likes Received:
    54
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    13
    Location:
    PNW
    It's hard for me to take someone who refers to themselves as 'objectivist' seriously considering the real world definition of the term, which conjures images of someone in high school who just finished Atlas Shrugged AND Dianetics in a weekend binge.
     
  9. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Non Voting Friend

    Slaytanic Cliff Clavin
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,046
    Dislikes Received:
    103
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I think it’s just a good move to avoid funny stuff and keep your transducers consistent. Buy 5 of the same thing type of deal with a sub that integrates well with them and your room. Sure you will have problems selling that fifth speaker if you upgrade so get something you can live with. None of those guys trying to sell five units of one speaker at once or the one remaining unit that will have to be paired with another speaker of the same model in different condition ever moves them easily unless it can be harvested for rare parts. Keep the woofers paper, plastic, or some kind of polymer or carbon fiber. I’ve never heard anything that sounds normal for tweeters except for soft domes and some of the Kevlar domes and inverted domes. Even the smoothest of the smoothed over Genelecs still had metal tweeters on top even if they tried to damp out those resonances with the modern computer technology inside.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2019
  10. MisterRogers

    MisterRogers Ethernet Nervosa

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,196
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Aurora, CO
    Home Page:
    I bet I still have one packed in a box somewhere.
     
    pavi likes this.
  11. mscott58

    mscott58 Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,698
    Dislikes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Philly - Yo
    Was helping my dad clean up a bit in his basement and he had a pile of computer gear. My mom pulled me aside and said "please tell him to get rid of all of that junk!". Turns out dad was saving things like a old dial-up modem, a zip drive, an ancient Dell laptop that must have weighed over 10 lbs and a printer from the 1990's as he was sure they were all still worth quite a bit. Lucky for mom I won the battle.
     
  12. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Non Voting Friend

    Slaytanic Cliff Clavin
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,046
    Dislikes Received:
    103
    Trophy Points:
    113
    This is the mic pre shootout I was thinking about:

    The SSL is better in every way and the Apollo sucks balls. Same as my irl experience where even the RME pres and conversion didn't kill the body like the UAD junk which is only good for direct input and selling overpiced plugins. Then they cheated the one guy outta the reward in the comments section.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2019
    Richgard likes this.
  13. lashto

    lashto Rando

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    20
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    EU
    Let me guess: one of those ‚objectivists‘ eat your sandwich and only left a cryptic note saying timbre==tone :)

    Getting a bit more serious, I find it hard to understand why would anyone think about timbre as some sort of unclear/misterious unknown. Or some sort of unexplored new frontier in sound theory and/or measurements.
    „What is timbre“ is just a very basic LMGTFY question. And that „missing encyclopedia“ can hardly be more in your face:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timbre
    Tells you in very clear and concise terms what timbre is (e.g. the synonym for timbre is not tone but ToneColour). Also clearly states what sound phenomena are responsible for the timbre (i.e. where does the timbre come from)
    And if you properly read that wiki article you‘ll also know exactly where to look for timbre in a set of audio measurements/graphs. Yes, it’s there. 100%. Some hints: harmonics spectrum, csd/resonances, imd, impulse response/filters, fr linearity, etc.. And some even more important hints: it‘s not easy to read, it‘s surely not a single graph and it‘s most definitely not a single number (yet).
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    50,694
    Dislikes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    Let me fix that:

    ...and it‘s most definitely not a single number (never).

    Distilling things down to a single number is assinine. Heck, I'm pretty sure my dad's Oldsmobile could do 0.88Gs on a skidpad, but that thing would be the last thing I take down on the windy roads in the Santa Monica mountains.

    --

    I would even say that qualifying this stuff down to plots is kind of assinine. The reason I started Changstar (now SBAF) back in 2011 was to objectively quantify weirdness (mainly treble spikes) on headphones that most other people on HF did not seem to hear. The intent was surely not to quantify how good a piece of gear sounded, but to objectively confirm the existence of the clearly audible issues (at least to trained ears).

    I would still maintain that measurements are better suited to finding serious problems than distilling into a chart of a single numeric value of what's best. Already said this before: Measurements can only tell us if something is not shit. But they can't tell us how good something sounds.

    The RAAL Requisite SR1a is a good example of this. Certain measurements are excellent. but others are on par with traditional driver headphones, and yet others are plainly mediocre.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
    OJneg, Ash1412, Psalmanazar and 4 others like this.
  15. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2018
    Likes Received:
    2,633
    Dislikes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    La Mirada, CA
    If this was true the Denafrips Terminator would be f***ing amazing.
     
  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    50,694
    Dislikes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    Or the Schiit Modi 3 would be the best performance/price (SINAD per dollar) DAC.
     
  17. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2018
    Likes Received:
    2,633
    Dislikes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    La Mirada, CA
    Isn't the Modi 3 pretty high up there in terms of price/performance anyhow? I feel comfortable recommending it for budget or small systems.
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    50,694
    Dislikes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    MY TOP FIVE HEADPHONES 2019

    I get asked this question quite often in PM. While I always make an attempt to answer every PM even if it takes me six weeks to reply (sometimes, things do fall through the cracks), I would never answer this one because I would have to repeat myself too often. So I figure I will answer this here for what it's worth, and just refer folks to this post. I will answer in the context of what I personally like.

    (1) Sennheiser HE90/HEV90
    It's an electrostatic headphone, which means it will lack the heft and kick of orthos or traditional dynamics, but everything else about it is so much better than anything else, even in 2019. This is the best headphone and headphone system that I have ever heard. The HE90 renders sounds with a better sense of tactility than the STAX stuff. It does show a bit more grain vs. taking the plasticky timbre angle. The frequency response may be just slightly upward tilting, but it's much smoother without the big dips or small bumps found at various spots on the SR-007 or 009. FWIW, the modern Sennheiser HE1 system with the marble chassis amp is "meh" compared to the HE90/HEV90. People with both money and class seek out the HE90/HEV90. Chinese people or GOOP subscribers who want to brag about their wealth buy the HE1. Retaining its place as #1 because of both excellence and longevity of being at the top.

    (2) RAAL Requisite SR1a. Currently in the honeymoon period, so being careful of being too optimistic. Can be lean, bright, and shouty on the wrong system, but extremely responsive to EQ so we don't have to play the http://www.orfas.org game of choosing the correct $7000 amp and $8000 source to get the right "synergy". Don't even compare to the K1000, another ear monitor from long ago. The K1000 sucks in comparison (lacks any bass below 90Hz, honky and shouty, mediocre transient response, textural rendering). When set-up properly, it's what every headphone wishes it wanted to be (no cup interactions, clean focused transients with realistic "speed", fine rendering of textures, awesome sense of tactility, supreme translation of the rest of the component chain) with the only downside being lack of ultimate SPL in the bass. The SR1a is a prime example of why transducers matter more than amps, DACs, etc. Yes, it's easy to note differences in components upstream, but throw any decent amp at it with enough power, and the SR1a sounds good. It's hard to go back to most other regular headphones.

    (3) Focal Utopia
    Lots of folks slurped this up when it was introduced. Many dumped it later. However, this still remains on my list. Impactful, fast, very good mid-bass quality, perhaps more resolving in the mids than the HD800. On the wrong system, can sound lean with some emphasis in upper-midrange. The main complaint has been that the headstage is too close for comfort; but hey, the Audeze's are not any better in this respect. The fact we can so openly acknowledge the Utopia's weaknesses is an indicator of how good it really is. I'm too poor to own a Utopia, so I have an Elex. The Clear is good if you prefer a warmer more laid-back sound.

    (4) ZMF Verite
    ZMF tuning lays things on thick in the lows, has a depression this upper mids, and then slight comeback in the lower highs (and maybe a bump in the middle mids). Not for everyone, the Verite lively and snappy transients provides for an unusual juxtaposition with its voicing to arrive to a beguiling listen. I joke that ZMF is the finest manufacturer of Japanese headphones (think Sony Z1R, JVC DX1000/2000, Fostex TH900); but I am not kidding. This is the way to go if you want a romantic cozy type of sound. It's my wife's favorite.

    (5) Verum 1.0
    I'm sure many of you are rolling their eyes. I have my reasons: the timbre is wonderful and a throwback to the 70s Japanese orthos. The microdynamics rendering is more similar to a good traditional dynamic driver: lively, reactive, contrasty, immediate. Not the end-all in terms of ortho slam, resolution, and transients, but 90% there. The best part is that the Verum just sounds darn normal (or perhaps too normal) and requires no or very minor mods. Finally, like the HD580/600/650, the price is right. I generally don't like orthos, but this one I like enough to keep.


    SPECIAL MENTION

    (1) Sennheiser HD580 (HD650 KISS mod)
    By "HD580", what I mean is a headphone that lies somewhere between the HD650 and HD600. There have been so many running changes with the Sennheiser headphones that it's hard to say which sounds exactly like what. Basically, take a current HD650 with its smooth mids and highs, back off the bass slightly, and combine with the less dampened more lively sound of the HD600, but without the HD600's 2-3kHz bump. The HD650 KISS mod was an attempt to accomplish this.

    Yes, the bass sucks relative to most orthos and TOTL dynamics. However, the mids and highs keep scaling with better amps up to the boutique ECP, EC, and DNA stuff. Anyone who thinks these lowly Sennheiser's suck have never heard them though true HiFi chains or is still the audiophile infantile stage of prioritizing bass technicalities. The price is right and everybody should have a very good idea of how the HD580/600/650 sound like to serve as a reference. Without an affordable reference, it's pointless to ask what is best or how to move on to better gear. https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...audio-gear-words-of-wisdom-from-sun-tzu.2366/

    (2) HD800 (modded)
    It's bright. Damn bright. Needs physical mods. IMO, the least EQ'able headphone because much of its sound characteristics (good and bad) are a result of the positioning of the driver and the ribs and mesh of the cup. The HD800 has lost a bit of its luster over time: transient response is mediocre, bass extension quality is merely good. However, the HD800 remains resolving as heck, possess great top-end air, and has arguably the best headstage short of K1000 or SR1a. The HD800 serves as a better (and less expensive) base to modify than the HD800S. See here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...00-and-hd800s-distortion-analysis.5670/page-2

    (3) HE-5 / HE-6 (modded). Combination of low-end heft, extension, and great transient response throughout. A good power amp will alleviate the cloudy bass and grip the driver like balls in a vice. Needs significant mods to not sound like ass. Huge library of mods has been documented on the Internet. Again, I'm not a fan of orthos, but this a definitely a worthwhile consideration. The new HE-5s don't seem to have quite the heft of the classic OG HE-5s, but they sound a little bit lighter on their feet (different, not necessarily better or worse).

    (4) LCD-4. If and only if you get a grade A model. I'm not sure where Audeze is in terms of consistency. I've "heard" that they have recently gotten this right. The x3 LCD-2Cs would have indicated so. On the other hand, x2 LCD-3s purchased recently by members sounded different, with one sounding kind-of-like ass in the bass. However, one particular LCD-4, handpicked from a batch of 16 or so (is this like whiskey or bourbon now?) was spectacular, easily on the level of the Utopia, albeit with a different approach to tuning after the mids.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  19. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

    Friend BWC Executed
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,745
    Dislikes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Grand Rapids
    ^ should be pinned to front page. Permanently
     
  20. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

    Friend
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2016
    Likes Received:
    2,118
    Dislikes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    NOVA
    Home Page:
    No iems. that's either a statement, or a question.
     
    Sqveak, tommytakis and Gaspasser like this.

Share This Page