The Relationship between Perception and Measurement of Headphone Sound Quality - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 04-23-2013, 08:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Do people agree on what makes a headphone sound good?

We recently conducted some controlled double-blind listening tests on six popular headphones to see if listeners agree on which headphones they prefer based on sound quality, and whether those preferences can be related to a set of objective measurements.

To find out more check out my latest blog posting, "The Relationship between Perception and Measurement of Headphone Sound Quality"
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Cheers,
Sean Olive

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post #2 of 17 Old 04-23-2013, 08:20 AM
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For me, sound is meaningless if they aren't comfortable. Comfort is #1 because if they're not on my head I'm not listening to them. I use Audio Technica A700x. Comfortable and sound great, but not good for walking/jogging due to the headband design which makes noise.

Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #3 of 17 Old 04-23-2013, 08:25 AM - Thread Starter
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We did measure comfort as well as sound quality. Sadly, the most preferred headphone in terms of sound quality was the least comfortable (it was heavy and had a lot of clamping force on the listeners' head).

Luckily, the 2nd most preferred headphone in terms of sound was also rated high in comfort: so you can have you cake and eat it too smile.gif

Cheers,
Sean Olive

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post #4 of 17 Old 04-23-2013, 11:54 AM
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Intresting, I bought my "Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling Closed-Back Headphones" from Amazon for $130 last fall (they have MSRP of $199), tried to do research and saw a CNET review.

Upon getting them they did exactly what I expected, and upon taking them into BB and comparing them to Beats Studio for 2x the $ I'm glad I bought the Audio-Technica's.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002HWJT1A/ref=oh_details_o06_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


We had a 10 hour road trip Michigan to WashDC over spring break, and when I had my break from driving these were perfect for masking out the "noise" in the car, comfortable, and sounded great with spot on imaging and sound dynamics as well.

Bonus: my 16 year old and 11 year old liked them.

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post #5 of 17 Old 04-23-2013, 01:57 PM
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So which make/model are H1 and H2?

thank you
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post #6 of 17 Old 04-23-2013, 01:58 PM
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Do "closed"/"open" designators in the transducer design column have the same meaning as "closed back" / "open back" ? If so then AKG K701 should have been classified as "open"
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post #7 of 17 Old 04-23-2013, 03:37 PM
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I haven't even looked at the link, but I'm guessing whichever cans had the most bass were the winner....am I right?

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post #8 of 17 Old 04-23-2013, 03:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, I mislabeled AKGK701: it should read "open" not closed. Thanks

Cheers,
Sean Olive

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post #9 of 17 Old 04-23-2013, 03:44 PM - Thread Starter
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The answer is yes and no. The quality of bass matters -- not just the quantity

The preferred headphones (HP1) had the most extended bass response but it was smooth and reasonably flat. The ones that were less preferred (HP5 and HP6) had elevated bass/mid hump (not flat and smooth) that wasn't smooth. That combined with a large hole in the mids tended to make them sound boomy, muffled and colored.

Cheers,
Sean Olive

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post #10 of 17 Old 04-24-2013, 10:52 AM
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I take it you cannot identify the headphones by name, Dr. Olive.
That's unfortunate. I am sure the planars is the H1. But It would be inetersting to know which AKG is the H2. Oh well..
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post #11 of 17 Old 04-24-2013, 11:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zheka View Post

I take it you cannot identify the headphones by name, Dr. Olive.
That's unfortunate. I am sure the planars is the H1. But It would be inetersting to know which AKG is the H2. Oh well..

You can probably figure them out by looking at measurements of the headphones at www.headphone.com and www.innerfidelity.com.

I don't normally like to mix science with commercial interests when reporting listening test results on headphones or loudspeakers.

Cheers,
Sean Olive

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post #12 of 17 Old 04-24-2013, 12:01 PM
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I understand. Thank you for the pointers.
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post #13 of 17 Old 04-24-2013, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonmeister2008 View Post

We recently conducted some controlled double-blind listening tests on six popular headphones

Thank you Sean, you are awesome and you do awesome work!

--Ethan

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post #14 of 17 Old 04-25-2013, 04:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zheka View Post

I understand. Thank you for the pointers.

One man's opinion:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=100538&view=findpost&p=832237

hp1 - Audeze
hp2 - V-MODA
hp3 - k550
hp4 - k701
hp5 - bose QC15
hp6 - beats

Some bemusment here over the poor positioning of two highly promoted alternatives.

Note that the two AKG models are products of a Harman subsidiary.

http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/blog/2012/07/30/review-akg-k550-headphones

http://www.stereophile.com/headphones/806akg

http://www.harmanaudio.com/search_browse/default.asp?brand=AKG

The above list was outed as being highly defective here:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=100538&view=findpost&p=832261

New list:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=100538&view=findpost&p=832265

hp1 - k550
hp2 - k701
hp3 - Audeze
hp4 - V-Moda
hp5 - bose QC15
hp6 - beats

1300 EST update:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=100538&view=findpost&p=832328

HP1 - LCD-2 (Audeze)
HP2 - K701
HP3 - Bose
HP4 - K550
HP5 - Beats
HP6 - Crossfade (v-moda)
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post #15 of 17 Old 04-25-2013, 07:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

One man's opinion:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=100538&view=findpost&p=832237

hp1 - Audeze
hp2 - V-MODA
hp3 - k550
hp4 - k701
hp5 - bose QC15
hp6 - beats

Some bemusment here over the poor positioning of two highly promoted alternatives.

Note that the two AKG models are products of a Harman subsidiary.

http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/blog/2012/07/30/review-akg-k550-headphones

http://www.stereophile.com/headphones/806akg

http://www.harmanaudio.com/search_browse/default.asp?brand=AKG

The above list was outed as being highly defective here:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=100538&view=findpost&p=832261

New list:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=100538&view=findpost&p=832265

hp1 - k550
hp2 - k701
hp3 - Audeze
hp4 - V-Moda
hp5 - bose QC15
hp6 - beats

Thank you!

I find it hard to believe that H1 is not the Audeze. Most extended bass and the least comfort are tell-tale signs imho. The fact that H1 has not met the IEC diffuse field calibration also points to the Audeze

I would go with the S&A about the first two at least.
Quote:
Olive and Welti didn’t reveal the scores of the individual headphones, but having measured all of the headphones myself (except in the case of the LCD2, but I've measured the similar LCD3), it looks to me like the clearly preferred headphone was the Audeze LCD2, followed by the AKG K701 and (surprise!) the Bose QC-15. (So much for the assumption among some enthusiasts that noise-cancelling headphones suck.) Headphones with pumped-up bass and large midrange dips (the Beats Studio and V-Moda Crossfade LP, apparently) didn’t do so well.
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post #16 of 17 Old 04-25-2013, 08:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by zheka View Post

Thank you!

I find it hard to believe that H1 is not the Audeze. Most extended bass and the least comfort are tell-tale signs imho. The fact that H1 has not met the IEC diffuse field calibration also points to the Audeze

I would go with the S&A about the first two at least.

The guys at S&V use the same GRAS 43AG headphone measurement system we used for these tests, as they pointed out in the article.

Cheers,
Sean Olive

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post #17 of 17 Old 04-25-2013, 09:05 AM
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Thank you!
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