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DROP + SENNHEISER PC38X Review (Headphone)

phoenixsong

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Yes, would be great if Amir reviewed the K702. It's my favourite headphone, but I wouldn't mind if Amir found he didn't like it...not that I'm expecting him not to like it....I'm kinda expecting that he would like it after EQ, but if he didn't and gave it a poor review it wouldn't change my mind about the headphone & I wouldn't be mad either, ha! Afterall it's important people like Amir give honest interpretations of their experience in both measurements & listening experience, which can vary from person to person when it comes to headphones.
Precisely! I don't think he will like the series either because of bass roll-off and presumably high bass distortion and uneven upper frequency response, but it would be nice to have a clearly understanding by establishing a link between the measurements and what we hear :)
 

Robbo99999

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Precisely! I don't think he will like the series either because of bass roll-off and presumably high bass distortion and uneven upper frequency response, but it would be nice to have a clearly understanding by establishing a link between the measurements and what we hear :)
Oh yeah, at stock they're not good, but according to the measurements from Oratory (I sent him two of my K702 to measure) it shows that the frequency response is easily EQ'able to the Harman Curve.....so they're totally fixable from an EQ perspective when it comes to tonality. Distortion is not perfect in the bass and some other regions, but I don't think it's in the "danger zone"....and certainly not at mid to low listening volumes. Rather than developing this thread into a K702 discussion I'll link you to this one about the K702 where you can see all the measurements........check out the measurements of my 2nd K702 which is towards the end of the thread (as well as the measurements of my 1st K702 which is in the 1st post of the thread): https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-akg-k702-has-been-measured-by-oratory.22992/

Would still be interesting for Amir to measure the K702, even if we have details of the measurements from Oratory.
 

PeteL

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I am quite an avid fps gamer in BF1 over the last few years and I use sound to localise opponents. I use virtual 7.1 surround sound processing from Soundblaster, courtesy of my SoundblasterX G6 DAC. I also own all the different headphones you see in my sig and I EQ them to the Harman Curve, which I keep activated during my gaming sessions through the use of EqualiserAPO. I have indeed found that headphones with the best musical spatial qualities are also the best headphones for creating a 3D sound environment - for example my K702 is the best and the HD600 is the worst, with the HE4XX & NAD HP50 sitting inbetween. So there's certainly a link between the spatial properties of a headphone for music and their ability to be used with virtual 7.1 surround sound processing to create an accurate 3D sound environment. The Soundblaster software takes 7.1 channel information from the game (Windows also sees the Soundblaster as a real 7.1 device) and processes it down to the the 2 channels of your headphone and makes it possible to distinguish if sounds are coming from in front or behind you.....which you can't have if you're using headphones that are just in 2-channel mode, unless the game itself applies the generic HRTF information to simulate a 3D environment....however most games leave it up to 3rd parties like Soundblaster to do the processing whilst the game outputs 7.1 channel information.
I agree but a soundstage IS simulating a 3D environment. A stereo mix as depth, width and height. It shouldn't necessarily means " applies the generic HRTF information to simulate a 3D environment" Take a listen at this video at the 5 min mark. It's about Binaural recording. You'll hear sound from behind. Yes you may say binaural recording is a different thing, but it's still stereo, therefore if you can with two microphones recreate a sound coming from your back, it is also possible for sound designer to put a sound source there using phase and convolution (Yes arguably, this can also be called HRTF), but no need to be mixed in 7.1 and "simulate" to have 3 dimensions.

 
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Robbo99999

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I agree but a soundstage IS simulating a 3D environment. A stereo mix as depth, width and height. It shouldn't necessarily means " applies the generic HRTF information to simulate a 3D environment" Take a listen at this video at the 5 min mark. It's about Binaural recording. You'll hear sound from behind. Yes you may say binaural recording is a different thing, but it's still stereo, therefore if you can with two microphones recreate a sound coming from your back, it is also possible for sound designer to put a sound source there using phase and convolution (Yes arguably, this can also be called HRTF), but no need to be mixed in 7.1 and "simulate" to have 3 dimensions.

Yes, it's possible to "bake in" 3D style effects into a stereo mix - even in normal 2-channel music if the creators so desire, but it would be using a "generic HRTF". Afterall, Soundblaster is taking real 7.1 channel information and then processing it I guess using some crossfeed and also applying a generic HRTF to simulate the effect of "in-front" vs "behind" sound. However, you were initially asking about if good soundstage headphones for music listening translated to good headphones for gaming, and that is indeed the case in my experience - see my last post. As to how or why this occurs I am not clear, however my intuition is that headphones with good soundstage somehow incorporate elements of your own HRTF into the response received at the eardrum - probably something to do with angled drivers and large earcups somehow incorporating perhaps at least the partial elements of your own HRTF that are influenced by the specifics of your unique outer ear design, but that's just my interpretation & my imagination based on my understanding of elements related to "headphone science".

And to your last point in your last sentence - you absolutely need to have 5.1 or 7.1 channels in a game to accurately pinpoint unpredicatable in-game elements. The visibility of 5.1/7.1 can occur at the game level in terms of the game processing the unpredictable elements (eg enemy online players) from 3D space into 2-channel headphones......or conversely the game can just output 5.1/7.1 to the operating system at which point 3rd party software like Soundblaster can take those 7.1 channels and apply their own algorithms to convincingly mix the 3D landscape into a 2-channel headphone. So whatever happens, in both cases, somewhere there needs to be real & evolving 5.1 or 7.1 channel information that is being processed, either by the game or by the third party software (Soundblaster).
 

Propheticus

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Thanks Amir. I have Srnnheiser GSP500, but I don't really use them because there is an intermittent fault in the microphone switch. It works about 95% of the time. The microphone boom looks the same as this Drop model.
Ha, that issue was already there in my PC360 (released 2010). Every now and then, it does not come on when pulling the mic down. Those mic booms have not changed much (if at all) by the looks of it.
How's your volume control?

Sidenote: all the communications stuff (headsets) of Sennheiser are now part of the split-off company EPOS.

The establishment of EPOS is based on the decision to let the business segments of the joint venture – known as Sennheiser Communications – between Sennheiser Electronic GmbH & Co. KG and Demant A/S evolve in different set-ups. Alongside the introduction of a new own-branded portfolio, EPOS continues to sell the current Sennheiser Communications portfolio co-branded as EPOS I SENNHEISER. EPOS is part of the Demant Group – a world-leading audio and hearing technology group. As such, it builds on more than 115 years of experience of working with innovation and sound. With headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark, EPOS operates in a global market with offices and partners in more than 30 countries.
 

Weebster

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I hear this all the time but sadly don't have any experience myself as I don't play games. But I would imagine that any necessary spatial quality is provided by the signal processing in the game and not relying on these subtle effects. I don't even know if these effects are positionally accurate that we talk about here.

What is a Window's game that I can play in demo mode or something to experience such effect?
While this isn't a game, it is one of the bet uses of spatial positioning I have ever come across.
 

PeteL

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Yes, it's possible to "bake in" 3D style effects into a stereo mix - even in normal 2-channel music if the creators so desire, but it would be using a "generic HRTF". Afterall, Soundblaster is taking real 7.1 channel information and then processing it I guess using some crossfeed and also applying a generic HRTF to simulate the effect of "in-front" vs "behind" sound. However, you were initially asking about if good soundstage headphones for music listening translated to good headphones for gaming, and that is indeed the case in my experience - see my last post. As to how or why this occurs I am not clear, however my intuition is that headphones with good soundstage somehow incorporate elements of your own HRTF into the response received at the eardrum - probably something to do with angled drivers and large earcups somehow incorporating perhaps at least the partial elements of your own HRTF that are influenced by the specifics of your unique outer ear design, but that's just my interpretation & my imagination based on my understanding of elements related to "headphone science".

And to your last point in your last sentence - you absolutely need to have 5.1 or 7.1 channels in a game to accurately pinpoint unpredicatable in-game elements. The visibility of 5.1/7.1 can occur at the game level in terms of the game processing the unpredictable elements (eg enemy online players) from 3D space into 2-channel headphones......or conversely the game can just output 5.1/7.1 to the operating system at which point 3rd party software like Soundblaster can take those 7.1 channels and apply their own algorithms to convincingly mix the 3D landscape into a 2-channel headphone. So whatever happens, in both cases, somewhere there needs to be real & evolving 5.1 or 7.1 channel information that is being processed, either by the game or by the third party software (Soundblaster).
I guess my main issue is with vocabulary. Let's not confuse "3D" and "surround" A stereo mix is already 3D, it's only missing the rear channels, and I also somehow have an issue with the use of the word "soundstage". Maybe i'll sound like I'm picking on details, but words matters. A headphone don't have "good soundstage" or as in earlier comment by @revoc "Iem's have zero soundstage" Soundstage is not intrinsic to the headphones, Soundstage is the term used for the image created by the mix. An headphone can be better than others at displaying, recreating, this soundstage, it can image better, used as a verb. But a headphone cannot have a good soundstage, the soundstage of a mix can be good, large deep, etc. Headphone that don't image well fail to recreate it.
 
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Robbo99999

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I guess my main issue is with vocabulary. Let's not confuse "3D" and "surround" A stereo mix is already 3D, it's only missing the rear channels, and I also somehow have an issue with the use of the word "soundstage". Maybe i'll sound like I'm picking on details, but words matters. A headphone don't have "good soundstage" or as in earlier comment by @revoc "Iem's have zero soundstage" Soundstage is not intrinsic to the headphones, Soundstage is the term used for the image created by the mix. An headphone can be better than others at displaying, recreating, this soundstage, it can image better, used as a verb. But a headphone cannot have a good soundstage, the soundstage of a mix can be good, large deep, etc. Headphone that don't image well fail to recreate it.
You use the vocabulary how you see fit
 

AVKS

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I guess my main issue is with vocabulary. Let's not confuse "3D" and "surround" A stereo mix is already 3D, it's only missing the rear channels, and I also somehow have an issue with the use of the word "soundstage". Maybe i'll sound like I'm picking on details, but words matters. A headphone don't have "good soundstage" or as in earlier comment by @revoc "Iem's have zero soundstage" Soundstage is not intrinsic to the headphones, Soundstage is the term used for the image created by the mix. An headphone can be better than others at displaying, recreating, this soundstage, it can image better, used as a verb. But a headphone cannot have a good soundstage, the soundstage of a mix can be good, large deep, etc. Headphone that don't image well fail to recreate it.

I disagree. Soundstage IMO can be wide with a sense of scale but still have imprecise imaging within it. I get that the stage itself is generated by the perception of sounds coming from points in space at the 'edge' of the respective stage but having a wide sound doesn't automatically mean imaging is clear within it. For example, my old ATH-A900X headphones sounded as wide as my LCD-2 closed but the placement of specified sounds within that width was not as precise or layered to my ears; that's one reason I sold it. Also, my Aeon Flow Closed RTs are IMO as proportionally precise within their respective soundstage as my LCD-2 closed, but the LCD-2makes the overall space the sounds are generated from feel larger (a wider soundstage, if you will).

As an alternative, what word would you use to describe the trait that allows an equally wide perception of sound to be shared by 2 headphones but with differing levels of imaging precision? Would the differing precision be a product of something like, say, differing detail retrieval?
 

wwenze

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Interesting that such a performance comes in the bargain headphone but not higher in the tier.

I see the trend as getting objective performance right at a middle price and then going subjective at higher prices.
 

infinitesymphony

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I see the trend as getting objective performance right at a middle price and then going subjective at higher prices.
Hey now, Amir hasn't yet measured the Sennheiser HE 1 (currently $59,000 USD).

1896053.jpg
 

Tachyon88

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I am quite an avid fps gamer in BF1 over the last few years and I use sound to localise opponents.

I've been playing BF1 recently too with my HD800s and they did a fantastic job with the sound. In COD MW the vertical sound was bad, if people were upstairs walking around you could not pinpoint their steps like in BF1. I can't tell you how many people almost got me if it wasn't for my quick reaction from spacial ques.
 

Tachyon88

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I guess my main issue is with vocabulary. Let's not confuse "3D" and "surround" A stereo mix is already 3D, it's only missing the rear channels, and I also somehow have an issue with the use of the word "soundstage". Maybe i'll sound like I'm picking on details, but words matters. A headphone don't have "good soundstage" or as in earlier comment by @revoc "Iem's have zero soundstage" Soundstage is not intrinsic to the headphones, Soundstage is the term used for the image created by the mix. An headphone can be better than others at displaying, recreating, this soundstage, it can image better, used as a verb. But a headphone cannot have a good soundstage, the soundstage of a mix can be good, large deep, etc. Headphone that don't image well fail to recreate it.

There is both soundstage in the mix and the headphone, due to physical design. I would not say soundstage on a headphone is like a speaker in a room, but relative in comparison to other headphones. In an extremely well mixed track you can hear instrument separation and soundstage in a HD6xx, but that same track on a HD800s is larger and just more in comparison to the HD6xx. I had no understanding of the concept of soundstage from a headphone until I heard it.
 

Robbo99999

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I've been playing BF1 recently too with my HD800s and they did a fantastic job with the sound. In COD MW the vertical sound was bad, if people were upstairs walking around you could not pinpoint their steps like in BF1. I can't tell you how many people almost got me if it wasn't for my quick reaction from spacial ques.
I'm not surprised that HD800s would be a fantastic gaming headphone. About vertical identification of sound in BF1 - I find that's impossible without using your visual/situational cues to "work out" that the sound "must" be coming from above or below you, because BF1 is outputting 7.1 which cannot convey height detail.....I don't know if the game engine attempts to use a generic HRTF for height sound cues, but I don't think it does as it doesn't distinguish front & back when in simple 2 channel headphone mode - that's why you need a third party solution like Soundblaster to take 7.1 from the game and then the Soundblaster does the spatial processing down into 2 channels.
There is both soundstage in the mix and the headphone, due to physical design. I would not say soundstage on a headphone is like a speaker in a room, but relative in comparison to other headphones. In an extremely well mixed track you can hear instrument separation and soundstage in a HD6xx, but that same track on a HD800s is larger and just more in comparison to the HD6xx. I had no understanding of the concept of soundstage from a headphone until I heard it.
Yep, for sure you don't know what soundstage of a headphone is until you've tried various headphones that sit within the whole spectrum from narrow to wide.....and ideally you'd want those headphones in front of you in one listening session so that you can switch between them on the same tracks to see for sure the difference.....I own various headphones with differing soundstage so it's easy for me to compare them. But yeah, if you haven't experienced the different extremes of soundstage within different headphones then it's pretty much impossible to really know what soundstage is in the context of headphones.
 
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MayaTlab

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There is both soundstage in the mix and the headphone, due to physical design. I would not say soundstage on a headphone is like a speaker in a room, but relative in comparison to other headphones. In an extremely well mixed track you can hear instrument separation and soundstage in a HD6xx, but that same track on a HD800s is larger and just more in comparison to the HD6xx. I had no understanding of the concept of soundstage from a headphone until I heard it.

If the idea of soundstage is "sounds larger", then it's something achievable with EQ. I sold my HD800 years ago after getting better at PEQing my headphones.
If it is "even with stereo recording with headphones, I can hear male vocalist n°3 30° behind me to my right", then it's IMO just the lucky combination of the effects applied to that vocalist in the mix (EQ, reverb, etc.) + FR at your drum happening to coincide with your own HRTF, and the results may not be constant from recording to recording, or even from individual elements in a recording to individual elements since these effects are "baked in". Change the EQ and you may loose the impression that "male vocalist n°3" was behind you to the right, turning it into an undefined source, but gain the impression that "female vocalist n°2" is now 20° to your left in front of you (if you're lucky). That's basically been my life with headphones and stereo recordings. Some individual elements of a track may jump at me in a very spatially defined way, but most don't, and EQing headphones shifts that around.

With the advent of object-based recording systems (or game engines) I'm now rather looking into what sort of FR at my own drum would be most convincing with generic HRTF profiles (if it is possible, which I'm not convinced)... but since they will vary depending on the implementation I'm not sure that a single curve is desirable. Right now I'm mostly focusing on Apple's interpretation of object based recordings (Spatial Audio).

Honestly I can't wait to get object based formats + individualised HRTFs + headphones that can deliver an exact FR at your drum even above 1kHz (big problem right now) to finally get truly convincing surround sound simulation and proper "soundstage" :D. Maybe that's the only truly convincing way to make sure that both "male vocalist n°3" and "female vocalist n°2" are both very specifically spatially defined at all times for all of us:D.
 

phoenixsong

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If the idea of soundstage is "sounds larger", then it's something achievable with EQ. I sold my HD800 years ago after getting better at PEQing my headphones.
If it is "even with stereo recording with headphones, I can hear male vocalist n°3 30° behind me to my right", then it's IMO just the lucky combination of the effects applied to that vocalist in the mix (EQ, reverb, etc.) + FR at your drum happening to coincide with your own HRTF, and the results may not be constant from recording to recording, or even from individual elements in a recording to individual elements since these effects are "baked in". Change the EQ and you may loose the impression that "male vocalist n°3" was behind you to the right, turning it into an undefined source, but gain the impression that "female vocalist n°2" is now 20° to your left in front of you (if you're lucky). That's basically been my life with headphones and stereo recordings. Some individual elements of a track may jump at me in a very spatially defined way, but most don't, and EQing headphones shifts that around.

With the advent of object-based recording systems (or game engines) I'm now rather looking into what sort of FR at my own drum would be most convincing with generic HRTF profiles (if it is possible, which I'm not convinced)... but since they will vary depending on the implementation I'm not sure that a single curve is desirable. Right now I'm mostly focusing on Apple's interpretation of object based recordings (Spatial Audio).

Honestly I can't wait to get object based formats + individualised HRTFs + headphones that can deliver an exact FR at your drum even above 1kHz (big problem right now) to finally get truly convincing surround sound simulation and proper "soundstage" :D. Maybe that's the only truly convincing way to make sure that both "male vocalist n°3" and "female vocalist n°2" are both very specifically spatially defined at all times for all of us:D.
Yeah I agree with this. Experienced the same by switching ear tips on IEMs while listening to the same part of the same track- some pairs of tips cause the vocals to float around the edges while on other pairs its the cymbals taking up that position through the same IEM
 

Phos

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I hear this all the time but sadly don't have any experience myself as I don't play games. But I would imagine that any necessary spatial quality is provided by the signal processing in the game and not relying on these subtle effects. I don't even know if these effects are positionally accurate that we talk about here.

What is a Window's game that I can play in demo mode or something to experience such effect?
Here's a video of Dolby Atmos vs simple stereo in Overwatch:
There's also this, let's call it a strongly opinionated video, comparing several different types of HRTFs:

HRTFs of this variety are very complicated, partly by their nature, partly by their underrepresentation in the related press/promo material, and partly by effectively having subtypes with little offical distinction between them. I don't think there's an industry wide term for this distinction, but in some games you can get binaural audio out of them, Overwatch having Dolby Atmos support built in being an example, some games support various HRTF programs (such as your own copy of dolby atmos), and if you have a game that has hardware audio support and your output device can do HRTF you can also use that for binaural. This type essentially is emulating what you would hear with your ears in the game world. The other side of this distinction is what I call "Virtual Surround", where the game mixes 7.1 audio and then the HRTF is used to create virtual speakers around you. Virtual Surround, is as far as I'm concerned, a solved problem/legacy solution that lived well past its due date. I blame the PS360 generation of consoles targeting home theater systems giving rise to FMOD's popularity as a low-impact naive audio mixer.

(This is kind of becoming part rant part history lesson) I think part of what's helping the Aureal 3D demo is that the demo program is emulating the sounds being in a room with you rather than just being in a diffuse field, but that also gets to what sets it apart. Aureal 3D ostensibly does raytracing style bounces with the audio ("wavetracing"), and I don't know if that's something that later HRTF methods have duplicated. Safe to say, Aureal 3D was pretty focused on gaming, but I never got a chance to use it as Creative bought them out and sat on the technology so they wouldn't have competition. I think most new games that do effects to ambiance just apply reverb, as in "This manually defined volume is inside, so it has these reverb settings". In putting this post together, it seems AMD GPUs are now including wavetracing hardware support though I'm not sure in how many games and if there's any way to use it without an AMD GPU.

I have yet to figure out what makes a headphone more or less compatible with these sorts of HRTFs, but I suspect part of it has to do with either frequency response vs what the HRTF is expecting and or frequency response on your specific ears. Distortion and what Tyll called "time of arrival" information (I think this is basically ringing) are also things that wouldn't surprise me if they were also important.

I imagine if you have an atmos speaker setup Dolby Atmos would also function with that when being fed from a game.
 
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