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Discussion Starter #101
Great thread, really helped me.
Glad to hear it.

This article was recently mentioned on IF, and looks like it gives a pretty good overview of the different techs used in headphones, for those who may be wondering about the differences...

http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/dynamic-vs-planar-magnetic-drivers

Looks like Tyll is also havin an interesting time putting his "Big Sound" gear together...

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/big-sound-2015-help-im-drowning-electronics
 

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Discussion Starter #102 (Edited)
Is there anything special about the bluray player you chose? Would a cheaper one suffice as current amazon price on that is 199
Holey cannolis! I only paid about 60 bucks for mine back in 2012. Any player with the red and white (L/R) stereo RCA phono outputs would probably work. Most current Blu-ray players no longer have them though. So you'd need an external DAC to convert the digital audio to analog for the EQ.

The main reasons I picked the Sony BDP-S390 player are...

1) It was one of the few afforadable models with accurate colors (after a software update) in its RGB HDMI mode. I needed that for an older TV that didn't support YCbCr on its DVI-HDCP input.

2) No fan. (It didn't need one because the hardware was more streamlined than previous models.)

3) Wi-Fi.

4) Good deinterlacing and HD upscaling (at that time).

5) It was one of the last Sony models with analog audio outputs, as already mentioned.

I've also heard that Sony used slightly better audio DACs in their players than some other brands. All of my players have been Sonys though, so I have no real basis for comparison on that. They've generally sounded pretty good to me though, after being properly configured.

There are a couple things I don't like about the BDP-S390 as well. It's virtual surround feature is very basic, and doesn't work reliably with DTS audio tracks, in my experience. So I usually leave it in Stereo mode, unless I'm watching a movie with a Dolby surround track. And the lightweight plastic case will vibrate and make some noise with some discs. I haven't updated the firmware in awhile though, so its possible that the V-surround feature has been improved (though I sort of doubt it).

The 2012 Sony BDP-S185 is essentially the same as the S390 btw, except it has no Wi-Fi, and the case is even flimsier. So that might be one lower-cost alternative to possibly consider, if you're looking for something along similar lines. I wouldn't spend more than 40 or 50 bucks on one though.

Most people will use a PC and software to EQ their headphones, rather than a graphic EQ like the DBX I'm using, btw. I wanted more of a standalone solution for my BD player though. So that's why I went the more basic hardware route shown above. And so far its seems to be working pretty well. I've only run into a few minor glitches here and there (which I'll discuss in more detail later).
 

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I would suggest not discounting Stax as being unattainably expensive - it should be possible to put together a very decent package for under $1k - for instance a SR-407 and a SRM-323S. I think the quality is extremely hard to beat by anything in that price range.

And it's a decent place to start. The 407's can be upgraded with 507 earpads, while the 323s will reasonably drive higher end Stax models.
 

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Curious as to what you guys are using to drive your Senn Cans?

I am using Sennheiser HDVA 600 amp with HD700 cans. I am using an Oppo 105d as a source due to the multitude of connectivity options.

I listen to both CDs and rips as well as a slew of Blu-Ray concerts.Typically late at night on weekends after a drink or two:)

Maybe as I'm relaxed but it seems on several CDs and Blu-Ray concerts I am maxing volume on the amp. It all sounds great but I don't feel I'm getting enough on some discs. I guess I should watch my ears but max volume on some recordings is concerning.

I want to add a second set of cans as well as a second amp in time. Will perhaps try a different amp first.

Boy I would love to try the Simaudio amp but it's too much right now. Fascinated with Woo as a try. I can go audition at my dealers as they have a wall of amps and cans but thought I would check around to see what others have had success with HD700 cans.

I am also not sure about the Oppo before suggestions. I really like my 105D a lot. Great all around piece. But at times I would like to experiment with a different DAC/brand.

Rick
 

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Discussion Starter #105 (Edited)
Curious as to what you guys are using to drive your Senn Cans?

I am using Sennheiser HDVA 600 amp with HD700 cans...

It all sounds great but I don't feel I'm getting enough on some discs. I guess I should watch my ears but max volume on some recordings is concerning.
If you're using the RCA inputs, have you tried adjusting the Gain control on the back of the HDVA 600?

If you make changes to that Gain control, be sure to lower the Volume control on the front to an appropriate level before using your headphones.
 

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Discussion Starter #106
I would suggest not discounting Stax as being unattainably expensive - it should be possible to put together a very decent package for under $1k - for instance a SR-407 and a SRM-323S. I think the quality is extremely hard to beat by anything in that price range.

And it's a decent place to start. The 407's can be upgraded with 507 earpads, while the 323s will reasonably drive higher end Stax models.
Interesting idea. Thanks for this suggestion, di_andrei.
 

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Discussion Starter #107
Most people will use a PC and software to EQ their headphones, rather than a graphic EQ like the DBX I'm using, btw. I wanted more of a standalone solution for my BD player though. So that's why I went the more basic hardware route shown above. And so far its seems to be working pretty well. I've only run into a few minor glitches here and there (which I'll discuss in more detail later).
I should mention that aside from the Beats Solo 2 squeezing my ears too much, there are two other glitches I've encountered in my EQ setup. The Gain controls were slightly mismatched on my first DBX 231s EQ, so I was getting more volume on one channel than the other if I went by the markings around the knobs. Counting the number of "clicks" as I turned the Gain control knobs worked better. (The 2nd unit did not have this issue, but I'm still counting the clicks).

Also, the 1/8" stereo output on the Nano Patch+ attenuator was not directly compatible with the Solo 2's newer 3-ring 1/8" microphone cable. That was also fairly easy to fix though. The Solo 2 cable is detachable. So it can be replaced with a regular tip-ring-sleeve 1/8" cable, provided the connectors will fit the small plug on the headphones. The 3-ring mic cable also worked with a regular 1/8" TRS extension cable, or with an 1/8" to 1/4" Y-adapter connected to the Nano Patch's L/R 1/4" outputs. So there were several possible fixes for that issue. The Solo 2's probably should have a regular TRS cable as standard equipment though.

I tried a pair of open-back circumaural Senn HD 558's as well, and those didn't seem to EQ/extend nearly as well, probably because they have more air to displace than the closed on-ear designs. The Senn did not squeeze my ears as much as the Solo 2. But they were more bulky and cumbersome than both the Solo 2 and Sony ZX100, and not a very convenient or comfortable fit in other ways.

The cheapy Sony ZX100's EQ fairly well. But they really need an amp, because they don't drive nearly as easily as the Beats. And they don't have nearly as good sound quality either. So I'm definitely givin the Solo 2 reconsideration. A different on-ear headphone, maybe with open foam pads, is another possibility though.
 

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Hello Adu,

I've been following your thread lot's of good information. Will add my impressions of the Audeze
LCD-2 which I ordered from Razordogaudio, should arrive in a week or so.

Some of the things i'll be looking at:

Amping, not sure if I need one or not. Portable or desk version.

Gaming on both Xbox One and PS4.

How well the LCD2 works with iPhone/Imac/Ipad.

Movies and Blu ray.

I can also do my best to answer any questions about the headphones bearing in mind I'm
a novice to headphone technology.

I'll post some initial thoughts when they arrive.


Bob


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My new Gold Standard benchmark headphone is AKG K812 Pro (married to Pathos Aurium for critical listening of Classical/opera only).

My second favorite is the Sennheiser HD600, probably the best sounding sub-$500 headphone imo. I use it mainly for movies and jazz tracks and occasional chamber music.

I do not listen to pop/ bass-heavy electronic music at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #110 (Edited)
Hello Adu,

I've been following your thread lot's of good information. Will add my impressions of the Audeze
LCD-2 which I ordered from Razordogaudio, should arrive in a week or so.

Some of the things i'll be looking at:

Amping, not sure if I need one or not. Portable or desk version.

Gaming on both Xbox One and PS4.

How well the LCD2 works with iPhone/Imac/Ipad.

Movies and Blu ray.

I can also do my best to answer any questions about the headphones bearing in mind I'm
a novice to headphone technology.

I'll post some initial thoughts when they arrive.


Bob


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Howdy, Bob.

Some fresh impressions of the LCD2 would be great. Some interesting stuff has come out since the LCD2's original release. But, based on the two links below, Audeze has continued to work on this and their other models. So I suspect it's still one of the very best sounding headphones out there.

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/spectacularly-yummy-audeze-lcd-2-and-lcd-3
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/audeze-lcd-x-fazor-and-fresh-listen-current-lcd-2-and-lcd-3

A quick note re the graphs in the above links... Most of the frequency response graphs shown in these articles, including the one shown below, were compensated using something called the "Indepedent of Direction" function. IOW, they don't show you the actual measured frequency data, but rather a version of that data which has been corrected to give a (somewhat) better idea how the headphone might actually sound in terms of its tonal balance.



The Harman curve (discussed previously in this thread) can also be used to compensate raw frequency data, like the IOD curve. The main difference between the Harman curve and the IOD curve (used for graphs like the one above) is that it attempts to take into account the lack of "room effects" in a headphone's sound, in addition to sonic distortions caused by the shape of the ear.

Here are some examples of room correction curves from another site. You'll notice that they all have a downward slope in the treble that's vaguely similar to the compensated plot of the Audeze headphones shown above and in the articles.



Since there's no room adjustment like the ones shown above built into the IOD compensation curve, in effect, what the Inner Fidelity IOD compensated plots show you is the headphone's room compensation component. That's why the compensated frequency curves of most the better-sounding headphones are higher in the bass and mid-range than in the treble.

The upper curves on this pseudo-Harman graph of the LCD2 may give a somewhat better idea of the headphone's perceived tonal balance than the previous IOD plot...



The relatively flat overall shape of the top two curves on this graph suggests that this is one of the more neutral-sounding headphones in the IF database. There appears to be a bit more energy in the midrange and especially in the upper treble than in the bass and mid-treble though. That may or may not be correct. And the spike in the upper treble would mostly be "air". However, the extra high frequency energy may be something to bear in mind if you're using these headphones at higher volume levels.

I call the above graph a "pseudo-Harman" plot btw because Tyll slightly modified the treble region on the original Harman curve before making plots like this one. The lower curves on the above graph are the raw measured frequency response btw.

I also think the Harman curve may need some "tweaking" to work correctly with the Inner Fidelity data, but maybe somewhat different than Tyll's adjustments. When I tried correcting/EQ-ing the Beats Solo 2 headphones to match the Harman curve, it didn't sound particularly pleasing to my ears, and seemed too bright in certain places. I had better success EQ-ing the Solo 2 to match other headphones in the IF database (like the NAD VISO HP50, for example). So the issues with the Harman curve could be related to differences in the acoustic measuring systems used by Harman and Inner Fidelity.

I think the Harman curve is more-or-less correct in terms of its general/overall shape. But I suspect it needs to be "adapted" a little in the lower and mid-treble areas to work more correctly with data from other measuring systems. (I'll try to go into more detail on that another time.)

Re iPhone/Imac/Ipad, this is one of the last comments in the first article linked above: "At about 60 Ohms impedance and 200mVrms required to drive these cans to 90dBspl, these are not headphones to drive out of your iPhone or iPad..." So you might not get the same sound quality on these headphones from a portable that you can get with a decent amp. I'd give it a try though anyway.
 

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What do people think about this one? KRK KNS-8400 According to the graph on http://www.headphone.com/pages/build-a-graph It has a decent frequency response if it is used with an EQ so that the bass can be dropped down a bit.

Also, the headroom is top notch, sensitivity is top notch, and the frequency response could be simple enough to EQ for cheap portable players to have sufficient EQ capability.
Crucially of course, the wire is detachable (headphone wire is a consumable), as are the cushions.
Its price is 180 USD at the moment in my area. It seems it could be crushed in a weak moment because it looks like plastic with lots of hinging. But apart from that its only real drawback seems to be its only color scheme being bachelor black.
Considering getting one and simply gluing it in one position and then spraypainting it with plastidip.
Compared to everything else I can find for sale in my area this seems to be very good value, have to go up to thrice this price to get a comparable FR (post slight bass EQ). Mostly due to the extremely common 8khz hump and 3khz dip.
 

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Howdy, Bob.

Some fresh impressions of the LCD2 would be great. Some interesting stuff has come out since the LCD2's original release. But, based on the two links below, Audeze has continued to work on this and their other models. So I suspect it's still one of the very best sounding headphones out there.

Re iPhone/Imac/Ipad, this is one of the last comments in the first article linked above: "At about 60 Ohms impedance and 200mVrms required to drive these cans to 90dBspl, these are not headphones to drive out of your iPhone or iPad..." So you might not get the same sound quality on these headphones from a portable that you can get with a decent amp. I'd give it a try though anyway.
The LCR-2's arrived today, just checked with the Iphone5 and as you mentioned they clearly need an amp to perform correctly. Right now i'm looking at the Sony Pha-3 or the Oppo Ha-2.

A question about the graphs, how do you use them for real world modding or purchasing. I'm familiar
with statistics and inference so am I looking for linearity as opposed to peaks and valleys and/or closeness to zero amplitude as desirable characteristics.

I'll have some UE CIEM's from the UE massdrop to test as well.

Will have more impressions tomorrow as time allows.

.
 

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Discussion Starter #113 (Edited)
What do people think about this one? KRK KNS-8400 According to the graph on http://www.headphone.com/pages/build-a-graph It has a decent frequency response if it is used with an EQ so that the bass can be dropped down a bit.

Also, the headroom is top notch, sensitivity is top notch, and the frequency response could be simple enough to EQ for cheap portable players to have sufficient EQ capability.
Crucially of course, the wire is detachable (headphone wire is a consumable), as are the cushions.
Its price is 180 USD at the moment in my area. It seems it could be crushed in a weak moment because it looks like plastic with lots of hinging. But apart from that its only real drawback seems to be its only color scheme being bachelor black.
Considering getting one and simply gluing it in one position and then spraypainting it with plastidip.
Compared to everything else I can find for sale in my area this seems to be very good value, have to go up to thrice this price to get a comparable FR (post slight bass EQ). Mostly due to the extremely common 8khz hump and 3khz dip.
Haven't tried the KNS 8400, but I did try the KRK KNS 6400 awhile ago, and didn't like it for a variety of reasons.

The KNS 6400 had a very "wooden" sound that wasn't pleasing, and very poor isolation and acoustics generally. Whenever I turned my head, the cable would cause loud creaking noises inside the headphones that sounded a bit like fingernails on chalkboard. (I kid you not.) The fit wasn't very good either. And I'm afraid you may encounter similar issues with the KNS 8400.

Based on the large ugly bump at around 100 to 200 Hz, the KNS 8400 also has a lot of "pad bounce", which might be difficult to EQ away.



There's also a problem with the seal on these headphones, as indicated by the different bass response curves in the raw FR plot (gray curves) in the first graph of this datasheet...

http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/KRKKNS8400.pdf

In Tyll's words-- it either seals, or it doesn't (I'm paraphrasing btw). The KNS6400 had a similar sealing issue...

http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/KRKKNS6400.pdf

It's just my 2c, but I think your bread would probably be better spent elsewhere.
 

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Why is the frequency response and raw frequency response different? What's the difference in methodology?
 

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Discussion Starter #115 (Edited)
Why is the frequency response and raw frequency response different? What's the difference in methodology?
The terminology in Head Room's Graph Comparsion tool is a little confusing, but the "Frequency Response Raw" is the actual measured data, without any correction or smoothing applied...



The Raw plots of the better headphones will usually have a fairly pronounced peak at around 3000 Hz (aka 3 kHz) in the lower treble.

The other two FR graphs, labeled "Frequency Response" and "Frequency Response Compensated", are both corrected with the Independent of Direction function, which is a proprietary correction filter (similar to the Diffuse Field function) developed by HEAD acoustics, makers of the head/torso simulator used by Inner Fidelity and Head Room.





The differences between the raw and corrected plots are explained in more detail here...

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/headphone-measurement-proceedures-frequency-response

All the Independent of Direction function really does though is remove the peak at ~3kHz in the treble.

In addition, the corrected graph labeled "Frequency Response" (middle graph above) also has a smoothing function applied. That's why the other two FR graphs look more "choppy".

I narrowed the Amplitude range on all of the above graphs from the default of +/-30 dB to +/-20 dB as well. So that's why the changes in volume at different points in the curves look a bit more pronounced (and easier to see) than on your original graph.
 

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Discussion Starter #116 (Edited)
Comparison of Head Related Transfer Functions

Independent of Direction Curve



Free Field & Diffuse Field Curves



Harman Curve



While we're on the subject of transfer functions...

The main difference between the Harman curve (black curve on last graph above) and other head-related transfer functions like the Independent of Direction, Free Field or Diffuse Field functions is that the Harman curve attempts to incorporate room effects (such as boundary gain in the bass, and absorption/beaming in the treble) into the sound of a headphone, as well as head and torso acoustics, to more accurately simulate the sound of a pair of loudspeakers in an audio mastering suite.

As such, it isn't really a "head-related" function, but rather a head and room transfer function. The room acoustics essentially add a darker tilt to the Harman curve that's generally higher in the bass and lower in the treble (esp. the upper treble) than the other curves. And it represents something close to an ideal raw headphone frequency response for the measurement system used at Harman.

I probably did a poor job of explaining this earlier, but the dashed green curve on the Harman plot essentially represents the sound of a flat loudspeaker with all of the room effects removed through calibration, measured at the eardrum. It correlates approximately with the Free Field curve on the middle graph.

The black curve on the Harman plot shows how the bass and treble were adjusted to sound "correct" on a pair of calibrated headphones by participants in their study, for a variety of music sources.
 

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Discussion Starter #117 (Edited)
A question about the graphs, how do you use them for real world modding or purchasing. I'm familiar
with statistics and inference so am I looking for linearity as opposed to peaks and valleys and/or closeness to zero amplitude as desirable characteristics.
The following link and video may be good places to start...

http://www.innerfidelity.com/resources


^Better sound quality on this version of the video presentation than the one I previously posted here btw. Though the graphs are a little easier to see on the earlier vid.

PDF of slides used in the above presentation...

http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/InterpretingHeadphoneMeasurements.pdf

I'm still sort of a newb to this subject, but I'll share a few more thoughts and insights soon from my EQ experiments and comparisons of various headphones in the following databases, including plots of the average data for some of the better headphones...

http://www.innerfidelity.com/headphone-data-sheet-downloads
http://ko.goldenears.net/board/GR_Headphones

I'm still shopping around for some better headphones than the Sony ZX100s to use for my EQ tests though. And was lookin at the AKG K553, which is currently on sale at Guitar Center, and thinkin those could be one possible candidate.

The K553 is a closed over-the-ear headphone that's essentially an updated version of the K550. They sounded a bit bright in my brief in-store tests. But they're more comfortable than the Beats Solo 2 (except for the headband), and not as cumbersome as the Senn 558. And I suspect they'd EQ ok. There are no graphs for the K553 in the above links though. So I'd have to use the graphs for the older, and reportedly slightly different-sounding K550 or K551 as my starting point, which is not so ideal.
 

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The following link and video may be good places to start...
Wow, just what i was looking for. I recently read his review of the Pono at Innerfidelity and was lucky enough to audition one at Ultimate Ears in Irvine and sure enough the highs stood out while the bass was muddied. Impressive to hear almost exactly what he described.

Still working on the LCD 2's been a busy week, went to the Schiit Show in Marina del Ray last week and UE Irvine on Tuesday plus replacing my cell phone (contract up).

I see the AKG 553 was up at Massdrop a couple weeks ago (closed now) Looks like it's currently selling very close to the Massdrop price.


.
 

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Discussion Starter #119 (Edited)
Wow, just what i was looking for. I recently read his review of the Pono at Innerfidelity and was lucky enough to audition one at Ultimate Ears in Irvine and sure enough the highs stood out while the bass was muddied. Impressive to hear almost exactly what he described.
Mr. H. and the folks at IF know their stuff pretty well, I think.

Still working on the LCD 2's been a busy week, went to the Schiit Show in Marina del Ray last week and UE Irvine on Tuesday plus replacing my cell phone (contract up).
Review of same: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/complete-schiitshow

Anything in particular that struck your fancy?

I see the AKG 553 was up at Massdrop a couple weeks ago (closed now) Looks like it's currently selling very close to the Massdrop price.
I missed the deal at Massdrop, but Sam Ash agreed to PM the current price at Guitar Center, and also let me use a $10 gift card from my EQ purchase. So I only paid a little over $100 for these.

I've only had the AKG K553's for a couple days, so I'm still kind of checking them out. The out-of-box sound quality definitely leaves something to be desired imo. So I can't really recommend them for that. And the fit is a tad snug around the ears. But they're more comfortable than the last few cans I've tried, and more compact than the Senn 558's. And seem pretty solidly put together. So hopefully the sound will come together a little better after some tweaking to the frequency response.

EQ-ing these will probably be more of challenge than the Beats Solo2 and Sony ZX-100 though, because there aren't any reliable FR plots for the K553 (yet?) on either Golden Ears or Inner Fidelity.
 

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Discussion Starter #120 (Edited)
A few graphs that I put together from the Golden Ears data...

This is the average raw (ie uncorrected) frequency response for 21 of the best headphones I could find in the GE database, based on the suggestion here and elsewhere...



The headphones included in the sampling are: AKG K812, Audeze LCD-3, Audeze LCD-X, AudioTechnica M50X, Beats Solo2, Beyerdynamic DT-880, Beyerdynamic T1, Bowers & Wilkins P7, Denon D5000, Focal Spirit Professional, Grado SR-325i, HiFiMan HE-500, KEF M500, Philips Fidelio F1, Philips Fidelio X1, Philips Fidelio X2, Sennheiser PX100-II, Sennheiser HD-800, Shure SRH-1540, Sony MDR-MA900, and Sony MDR-Z7. I tried to be as diplomatic as possible and include the best headphones I could find from a variety of mfrs, without compromising on quality.

I plotted 81 points for both the left and right channels of each headphone, so there were 42 samples (2*21 headphones) in all. And this is what the point distribution looks like for all the above headphones (along with the average curve in green)...



The plots were all centered at the same point in the mid-range for this graph. So that's why there's only a single point at ~630 Hz, and the distributions get broader away from that common point. And there are twice as many points in the treble, because greater precision was needed to accurately map all the fluctuations in that area.

There were no raw FR plots for the Oppos, Stax, NAD VISO HP50, and Senn HD 600 that I could find in the Golden Ears database, or I would have included those as well.

"Average" doesn't necessarily equal "neutral" btw (though I have a few ideas on that as well, which I'll post another time). As a general rule, audophiles seem to prefer headphones that are on the bright side. And roughly half of the headphones above would fall into that category imo. So the overall data is probably slightly skewed in that direction.

The main reason I'm posting these graphs is to give a somewhat better idea of some of the features you might find or look for in a "good" frequency response.

The feature that probably stands out most in the above graphs is the series of (~4) "peaks" in the curve, which represent resonances at various frequencies. The more (good) headphones you average together, the more well-defined those peaks become.



The first "bump" in the bass is the headphone's main driver resonance. And the 3 peaks in the treble represent ear resonances. Imo, the size position and shape of those treble resonances is somewhat dependent on the simulator used for the measurements. In the GE plots, they're more or less evenly spaced (in terms of frequency) at approximately 2.7 kHz, 9 kHz and 15-16 kHz. While in the Inner Fidelity plots the first treble resonance occurs closer to 3 or 3-1/2 kHz.

Also, the shape of the resonances isn't just a simple sine wave. There are "flatter" areas in between the peaks, as indicated below...



If you fit curves to both the peaks and valleys, they form more or less smooth arcs. So imho there is an underlying structure (of sorts) to these shapes which can potentially be used for comparison. And the positions and size of the peaks and valleys is not just random. This is something I've tried to use to simplify my own EQ adjustments, with some success.



The amplitude range (vertical axis) on all of the above graphs is 50 dB btw.
 

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