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DROP + SENNHEISER PC38X Review (Headphone)

markanini

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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.
As a content creator I agree on every point. The primary goal in that role is to create something that's not relying on specific properties of a single playback system but rather achieving universal translatability. What this means for headphone users is that unless the mix or the game engine isn't using specific techniques to form spatial cues the best headphone in the world won't help. I was never impressed by games that didn't have a specific headphone or HRTF setting personally. That's why the use of the term soundstage misses the mark on headphones, it's basically confusing production and reproduction. When Amir evaluates headphone he talks about spatial capabilities this makes more sense given the limitations of the system.
 
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Robbo99999

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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.
In my experience with EQ'ing different headphones for enhanced spatial qualities I find that a headphone can only be improved by a certain degree in that aspect...for me there is still an element that the size of the soundstage is defined by the model of headphone itself. I imagine that using in-ear mics as part of the unique Target Curve creation process in the Impulcifier Project or use of the Smyth Realiser is the only way to ensure there are "no limits" to soundstage in otherwise narrow soundstage headphones like the HD600.....so I think only the Impulcifier Project & Smyth Realiser can sort out the soundstage limitations of the HD600 for example, otherwise I've found that ultimate soundstage potential is mostly baked into the particular headphone design. That opinion is not gonna change until I experience otherwise.
 
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Tachyon88

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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.

It wasn't obvious to me at first. I listen to the HD800s for a few weeks then went back to my LCD2C and felt closed in. I thought, "aha, I see now", now I cant unhear 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.

What headphone are you achieving this on ?
 

MayaTlab

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What headphone are you achieving this on ?

These days I'm tempted to say any EQable pair of headphones since I feel increasingly confident about measuring the actual output of my own over-ear headphones in comparative terms up to 10000kHz or so near my own DRP : https://www.head-fi.org/threads/how...guarantee-a-better-sound.958201/post-16405751
I'm having quite a bit of fun forming my own opinion on the following subject by EQing headphones to match each others on my own head (which I'm not confident to be able to do so to the exact 0.1dB - if such a precision truly matters - probably not -, but certainly quite a bit more so than if I were to rely on third party measurements alone) : https://www.reddit.com/r/oratory1990/comments/gbdi7v/_/fpb63ht Now I tend to prefer to use a pair of HD650. I've just recently switched to Dekoni's velour pads for comfort mostly (my earlobes no longer touch the foam).
 

Robbo99999

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These days I'm tempted to say any EQable pair of headphones since I feel increasingly confident about measuring the actual output of my own over-ear headphones in comparative terms up to 10000kHz or so near my own DRP : https://www.head-fi.org/threads/how...guarantee-a-better-sound.958201/post-16405751
I'm having quite a bit of fun forming my own opinion on the following subject by EQing headphones to match each others on my own head (which I'm not confident to be able to do so to the exact 0.1dB - if such a precision truly matters - probably not -, but certainly quite a bit more so than if I were to rely on third party measurements alone) : https://www.reddit.com/r/oratory1990/comments/gbdi7v/_/fpb63ht Now I tend to prefer to use a pair of HD650. I've just recently switched to Dekoni's velour pads for comfort mostly (my earlobes no longer touch the foam).
For what it's worth, I think your in ear measurements could be quite useful for you in terms of getting different pairs of headphones to sound the same on your own head - EQ'ing to match one of your favourite headphones for instance. Plus you can see the erratic frequency response of some headphones like the Sundara in your link. It's not really like there's a researched target you can EQ to from your measurements, but you for sure have visibility on the bass and up to 1kHz, and like I said you can compare headphones and EQ them to match each other, thereby taking out the variable of how different headphones might react differently to your own anatomy vs a GRAS measurement fixture. What I'm getting at is that it's possible for 2 different headphone models that are EQ'd to match each other on a GRAS unit might not necessarily match each other with "maximum accuracy" when placed on your own head - I think with your in-ear mics you're at least able to remove that variable and make sure that different headphones match each other accurately on your own head. For you to find an accurate & correct frequency response/tonality (Target Curve) from your measurements is gonna be a bit more complicated. (Impulcifier project might be one way to achieve that, I keep saying I'm gonna try it, but it seems like a faff, one of these days!)
 

MayaTlab

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For what it's worth, I think your in ear measurements could be quite useful for you in terms of getting different pairs of headphones to sound the same on your own head - EQ'ing to match one of your favourite headphones for instance. Plus you can see the erratic frequency response of some headphones like the Sundara in your link. It's not really like there's a researched target you can EQ to from your measurements, but you for sure have visibility on the bass and up to 1kHz, and like I said you can compare headphones and EQ them to match each other, thereby taking out the variable of how different headphones might react differently to your own anatomy vs a GRAS measurement fixture. What I'm getting at is that it's possible for 2 different headphone models that are EQ'd to match each other on a GRAS unit might not necessarily match each other with "maximum accuracy" when placed on your own head - I think with your in-ear mics you're at least able to remove that variable and make sure that different headphones match each other accurately on your own head. For you to find an accurate & correct frequency response/tonality (Target Curve) from your measurements is gonna be a bit more complicated. (Impulcifier project might be one way to achieve that, I keep saying I'm gonna try it, but it seems like a faff, one of these days!)

That's exactly the attempt, ie remove that variable, even above 1kHz (which is the real problem, below cheap in-concha mics can do the job). This is an updated measurement session done today on my right ear, between the HD560S, HD650, Hi-X65, K371. The latter two and particularly the K371 (a complete PITA to measure this one for me) have quite a bit more seatings variation so I averaged more measurements (only of realistic seatings on my own head). Traces above represent the unEQed response, traces below Oratory1990's profiles. What can be seen is that there are quite large variations remaining on my own head, with my own samples (and yes I did check whether or not Oratory's profiles were properly applied by dividing the unEQed with the EQed response and looking at the residual difference to see if it matched reasonably well Oratory's PDFs). If headphones have good seatings to seatings consistency (the HD650 is a good example, at least for me) I have a feeling that I can bring them to match within 1-1.5dB or so from session to session even in the trebles - and probably tighter at lower frequencies (which is better than EQ profiles based on third party measurements). If they don't (looking at you K371)... well I don't bother EQing them.
Screenshot 2021-06-25 at 20.50.41.png

This is not to say that third party measurements are not useful, far from it. Even in the case above with a lot of smoothing one can see that Oratory's profiles were successful at bringing the traces closer together :
Screenshot 2021-06-25 at 20.51.28.png

I've been going at this for months to improve repeatability and reliability of the relative comparisons but I still have a long list of checks to go through :D. I also intend to compare the results with blocked ear canals measurements but with the latter I'm weirdly having a harder time getting to a reliable, repeatable point so that I exploit the results I'm getting.

And just as you said that doesn't tell me per se what exact curve to target. But at least it give me some chance of reaching it for real :D.

I have no intention of using Impulcifier as I don't want to recreate my speakers system (which isn't the last word in proper setup anyway). I want to be able to get somewhat convincing sound virtualisation from object based implementations, if it is even possible with generic HRTFs (Apple's Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos for example). I'm trying various iterative ways to see what seems to work or not for me.

All in all this is why I'm not comfortable with the idea of looking into other variables than FR for whatever makes for "spatial abilities" as long as FR isn't a superbly well controlled variable at someone's in particular eardrum.
 

Robbo99999

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That's exactly the attempt, ie remove that variable, even above 1kHz (which is the real problem, below cheap in-concha mics can do the job). This is an updated measurement session done today on my right ear, between the HD560S, HD650, Hi-X65, K371. The latter two and particularly the K371 (a complete PITA to measure this one for me) have quite a bit more seatings variation so I averaged more measurements (only of realistic seatings on my own head). Traces above represent the unEQed response, traces below Oratory1990's profiles. What can be seen is that there are quite large variations remaining on my own head, with my own samples (and yes I did check whether or not Oratory's profiles were properly applied by dividing the unEQed with the EQed response and looking at the residual difference to see if it matched reasonably well Oratory's PDFs). If headphones have good seatings to seatings consistency (the HD650 is a good example, at least for me) I have a feeling that I can bring them to match within 1-1.5dB or so from session to session even in the trebles - and probably tighter at lower frequencies (which is better than EQ profiles based on third party measurements). If they don't (looking at you K371)... well I don't bother EQing them.
View attachment 137391
This is not to say that third party measurements are not useful, far from it. Even in the case above with a lot of smoothing one can see that Oratory's profiles were successful at bringing the traces closer together :
View attachment 137392
I've been going at this for months to improve repeatability and reliability of the relative comparisons but I still have a long list of checks to go through :D. I also intend to compare the results with blocked ear canals measurements but with the latter I'm weirdly having a harder time getting to a reliable, repeatable point so that I exploit the results I'm getting.

And just as you said that doesn't tell me per se what exact curve to target. But at least it give me some chance of reaching it for real :D.

I have no intention of using Impulcifier as I don't want to recreate my speakers system (which isn't the last word in proper setup anyway). I want to be able to get somewhat convincing sound virtualisation from object based implementations, if it is even possible with generic HRTFs (Apple's Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos for example). I'm trying various iterative ways to see what seems to work or not for me.

All in all this is why I'm not comfortable with the idea of looking into other variables than FR for whatever makes for "spatial abilities" as long as FR isn't a superbly well controlled variable at someone's in particular eardrum.
I'm still a bit uncertain as to where you can really end up re a Target Curve, but I think your measurements are useful to you for comparing headphones. I see your point about the relatively uncontrolled frequency responses from person to person based on your measurements you've seen, but I still think there is something inherent in certain models of headphones that give them their often held status of "good soundstage headphone", like the HD800s as one example. I mentioned in an earlier post, but in my experience the soundstage potential of the headphone remains even after EQ'ing to the Harman Curve, in terms of comparing relative soundstage between my headphones - eg K702 very good wide soundstage & HD600 narrow soundstage, those are internet trends of often seen experiences and it held true for me (when both EQ'd to Harman Curve). So even if there is some variation in the frequency response it seems like there is some baked in capacity for soundstage in a headphone model - I mentioned it earlier but I think large angled earcups better replicate an ideal speaker angle which will imprint it's own partial HRTF effect of your own unique outer ear onto the frequency response seen at your eardrum, so partial HRTF not the full HRTF of your head and ear combined, just the outer ear portion of the HRTF imprinted on the eardrum so to speak.....that's just a bit of a theory from me, I don't know, but there seems enough evidence of people's experiences including my own to conclude that soundstage potential of a headphone is baked into the headphone model, the exact mechanism being unclear.
 

MayaTlab

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The idea that some headphones may have a stronger chance to produce a FR at people's eardrum that will make them more likely to perceive "spatial qualities" is I believe the underlying idea behind Rtings' PRTF tests. But I'm not sure that anything truly conclusive came out of it, and it doesn't say anything about the resulting FR curve, only the differential between pinna vs. no pinna.
Now this should be left to acousticians, but if I understand this paper well (https://www.aes.org/images/e-lib/thumbnails/2/0/20605_full.png) - free access, over-ears function as a "volume cavity" up to 4kHz or so, so the driver's angle would only be a factor above that, while HRTF modulation happens as low as, what, 800Hz or so ? So it can only be a partial answer at best.
 

GaryH

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That's exactly the attempt, ie remove that variable, even above 1kHz (which is the real problem, below cheap in-concha mics can do the job).

Except you've just replaced it with a new variable - the acoustic influence of the probe mic itself on the incoming sound wave into the ear, and its positioning in the ear, which cannot be at the ear drum so the frequency response measured cannot be directly compared to that measured by a HATS, which does measure at the ear drum reference point with no probe in the way.
 

MayaTlab

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Except you've just replaced it with a new variable - the acoustic influence of the probe mic itself on the incoming sound wave into the ear, and its positioning in the ear, which cannot be at the ear drum so the frequency response measured cannot be directly compared to that measured by a HATS, which does measure at the ear drum reference point with no probe in the way.

As mentioned already I’m not looking into absolute values and have no intentions of comparing the absolute values with ones from a HATS. It’s quite evident that the results I’m getting with this system is erroneous in absolute terms when there is a 1.5mm tube inside my ear canal or when calibration is a difficult step to go through every single time the slightest modification is made to the probe (still results aren’t too shabby IMO, the intrinsic resonances of some of the headphones tested such as the HD560S’ 4300Hz peak are quite accurately represented with values in dB that match well what several HATS recorded). Note that what I’m doing in the post above isn’t comparing my HD560S results with Oratory’s, but comparing the differential between the four headphones on my head with the differential recorded by Oratory (using his presets as a proxy). Not the same thing.
Past a certain distance from the drum the FR is quite stable. For example for the ear canal gain region it doesn’t matter wether it’s 2 or 6mm from the drum, the response remains the same. As long as I’m within a certain distance from the drum the response doesn’t vary much (someone better versed into that subject matter may make use of the words standing waves), something I’ve extensively tested as one of the mounting gear I’m using makes the probe tube slide-able without moving the headphones.
EDIT : I believe that this was the first item I wanted to check, and one of the first things I tested for when I embarked on that DIY project : https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the...-at-a-breakthrough-value.943107/post-16339008
From what I understand standing waves in the ear canal behave like this :
Screenshot 2021-06-26 at 07.17.49.png
https://www.semanticscholar.org/pap...anda/3002267f40082d2bc9b45420b397f350edae460b
So it's basically just about getting past a certain point. This has been extensively studied for what audiologists call real ear measurements.
There are far more concerning issues if the goal is comparative evaluations (such as whether or not the sound recorded really is coming from the probe’s orifice or leaking through its walls, or the influence of the tube’s compression by the pads, or making sure that the probe doesn’t move during a 3 hours session with 100+ measurements, etc. I have made a list of a few dozen items of concerns I'd like to go through and I'm not sure I can conclusively assert anything about any of them, but I've been quite reassured about what I'm doing after making some tests for a few of these. As an illustration of the first point of concern - is the recorded sound coming from the tube's orifice or leaking through its walls ? - it's simply about plugging the end of the tube and comparing plugged vs. unplugged measurements).
 
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Robbo99999

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The idea that some headphones may have a stronger chance to produce a FR at people's eardrum that will make them more likely to perceive "spatial qualities" is I believe the underlying idea behind Rtings' PRTF tests. But I'm not sure that anything truly conclusive came out of it, and it doesn't say anything about the resulting FR curve, only the differential between pinna vs. no pinna.
Now this should be left to acousticians, but if I understand this paper well (https://www.aes.org/images/e-lib/thumbnails/2/0/20605_full.png) - free access, over-ears function as a "volume cavity" up to 4kHz or so, so the driver's angle would only be a factor above that, while HRTF modulation happens as low as, what, 800Hz or so ? So it can only be a partial answer at best.
I don't know, but I'm still convinced that ultimate soundstage potential of headphones is governed by the headphone model itself, as it tallies with my own experience of EQ'ing all my headphones to the Harman Curve and also tallying with the anecdotal experience of many people of those same certain headphone models, eg the large soundstage of the K702 and the small soundstage of the HD600 for instance. I'm still convinced that it's baked into the headphone model and would only be overridable by the Impulcifier Project or Smyth Realiser - with the examples of Impulcifier Project & Smyth Realiser acknowledging that all that matters ultimately is frequency response at your own eardrum, but also an acknowledgement that these two methods would be the only way to accurately achieve that goal & thereby overriding the baked in soundstage potential of a given headphone (the mechanism for such being unclear). I'll leave it there as I don't want to clutter up this thread too much with a tangent topic, and I don't have much more to add.
 

Phos

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I don't know, but I'm still convinced that ultimate soundstage potential of headphones is governed by the headphone model itself, as it tallies with my own experience of EQ'ing all my headphones to the Harman Curve and also tallying with the anecdotal experience of many people of those same certain headphone models, eg the large soundstage of the K702 and the small soundstage of the HD600 for instance. I'm still convinced that it's baked into the headphone model and would only be overridable by the Impulcifier Project or Smyth Realiser - with the examples of Impulcifier Project & Smyth Realiser acknowledging that all that matters ultimately is frequency response at your own eardrum, but also an acknowledgement that these two methods would be the only way to accurately achieve that goal & thereby overriding the baked in soundstage potential of a given headphone (the mechanism for such being unclear). I'll leave it there as I don't want to clutter up this thread too much with a tangent topic, and I don't have much more to add.
The K702 being a spacious headphone while the HD600 being a closed in sounding headphone is interesting if true, because if so it does actually lend credence to Tyll's aforementioned theory on what I THINK he called "time of arrival" information. The Innerfidelty site is gone so finding it again would mean digging through the youtube channel, but I recall him drawing attention to the 300Hz square wave test in regards to this property, that ringing shown in this test would blur the arrival of sharp sounds. Assuming these PDFs uploaded correctly, you'll see that they're fairly similar headphones apart from the 300Hz square wave and the impulse response, which settle down much more quickly on the AKG.
 

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MayaTlab

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Sometimes I also wonder what the psychological effect of the earcup / pads design, or maybe even the headphones' weight, might be on our sensation to be in a virtual space.
As an illustration of that the Austrian Audio Hi-X65 has a lot of vertical and horizontal space for the ear lobe, but the latter slightly touches the foam above the driver which makes for a peculiar feeling (similar to the HD6... series). Ie not enough depth.
I believe that I've come to increasingly appreciate headphones that are lightweight, don't give me hotspots on the cranium, and don't touch my earlobe, and perhaps this helps in forgetting the apparatus and having the sensation that I'm in another, visual space (and improves our perception of "spatial qualities" regardless of what is actually acoustically happening at the drum) ?
Going back to the PC38X, it seems that the earcup's width is quite narrow.

Also, while I'm not sure of this at all, if the pinna is deformed because of the HPs' design, how much does this actually affect the resulting FR ? Could it participate in reducing the likelihood that a pair of HPs produces a FR at the listener's drum that is more conductive to this listener appreciating a recording's "spatial qualities" ?
 

Luke

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@MayaTlab

I would ask oratory if he'll measure your headphones and then measure them on your head when Harman EQ'd, and use that as some kind of reference. It won't be perfect, but it's better than nothing, and I don't see much variation between Harman EQ'd headphones on my head until about 7 kHz (at least for headphones that are not sensitive to seal).
 

MayaTlab

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@MayaTlab

I would ask oratory if he'll measure your headphones and then measure them on your head when Harman EQ'd, and use that as some kind of reference. It won't be perfect, but it's better than nothing, and I don't see much variation between Harman EQ'd headphones on my head until about 7 kHz (at least for headphones that are not sensitive to seal).

That would rather be a study in sample variation then :D. Which is absolutely a thing at least with some headphones.

But I've had the opportunity of measuring three Airpods Max on my head, both channels on the same ear (as they're nearly perfectly symmetrical front to back it's valid to do so, unlike other headphones, so that's basically six samples in total), and I'm getting fairly similar results on all three (and actually a near perfect match below 800Hz where the ANC circuit does its magic), so even with models with a low sample variation I'm not getting similar comparative results on my head as Oratory's measurements.
That's two Airpods Max, two averages of five measurements each for the four cups in total on my right ear (eight traces in total then), during the same measurement session with my DIY probe mic (which wasn't moved).
Screenshot 2021-06-28 at 09.33.15.png
Given how much variation the APM produces above 1kHz with slight variations in pad compression (including in the ear canal gain region) I think it's fair to say that whichever sample variation there is, it's buried under the seatings variation "noise" (I haven't saved the individual seatings so the two averaged traces per cup will have to make due).
That, for example, is the typical sort of variation I see when applying slight pressure at the bottom rear of the cups and pulling the headband slightly to re-balance the pressure around my ears (the APM's default headband clamping force + pivot design applies uneven pressure around my ears) :
Screenshot 2021-06-28 at 09.38.14.png
Note : this was during a different measurement session hence the slightly different absolute values (Slight changes in the probe's position affect the results increasingly so as frequency rises, which is why I prefer to only show comparative measurements during the same session).
So I'm quite confident that what I'm getting out of the Airpods Max is not a question of sample variation.

There's still the question of whether the results I'm getting with the probe are actually real, ie if it measures a 3-4dB difference between headphones A and B at 4600Hz, is it really the case ? Besides torturing the apparatus in various ways to test for issues that could compromise the comparative results (such as applying various degrees of pressure on it at various points or re-locating the way it's routed out of my ear to try to assess whether or not different headphones' pads are compressing it or not in different ways), this is what I'm spending most time now trying to characterise since I'm past the question of whether or not I can get reliably repeatable comparative results (at least with headphones with low seatings variations like my HD650 or HD560S). One way of doing so for starters, I think, is to look at extreme cases, and apply counter-EQ. So, for example, the Hi-X65's fairly strong response I measured at 6200Hz or so vs. the HD560S or HD650 (+5-7dB, which should be very audible). Or the Airpods Max's ear canal gain region, which is nowhere near as depressed on my head as on quite a few measurements available online, and to which Oratory's preset applies a broad +3dB adjustment, which should be very audible. So far I'm starting to get quite confident that what I'm getting is really happening, to a certain degree (you won't see me use these in-ear measurements as absolute truth anytime soon or apply automated EQing based on these). Can I make two headphones sound perfectly identical ? probably not. But what I'm stating to think is that using this probe, I can make two headphones with low seatings variation sound closer to each other than with third party measurements and I would have less confidence in my capacity to distinguish them (let's just say that I am very confident that I'd be able to distinguish my HD560S and HD650 even after applying third party profiles).

Regardless of my own amateurish experiments, that headphones on someone's head deviate at least a little bit from dummy head measurements in ways that are unpredictably inconsistent from listener to listener is not something coming out of left field, it's been measured already several times and probably well-known to most headphones manufacturers.
It's highly likely that it's happening on your own head too to a degree :D.

Sorry for the long deviation away from the PC38X.
 
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phoenixsong

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Binaural recordings seem to work for anyone with a semi-decent headphone/IEM system. Spaciousness and the clarity of the imaging differs between different headphones/IEMs themselves, but I think the bulk of it is depending on how well the source itself is recorded and/or processed. However, for non-binaural recordings the differences between different headphones and IEMs can be huge. Why is this so?
 

infinitesymphony

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Binaural recordings seem to work for anyone with a semi-decent headphone/IEM system. Spaciousness and the clarity of the imaging differs between different headphones/IEMs themselves, but I think the bulk of it is depending on how well the source itself is recorded and/or processed. However, for non-binaural recordings the differences between different headphones and IEMs can be huge. Why is this so?
I think you already said the answer: binaural recordings are made in a way that reflects the way our ears work (HRTF), regular recordings are made in ways that approximate spaces or create entirely artificial spaces. In other words, binaural recordings already have a massive head start in terms of realism. It's probably easier to focus on the specifics of the music and of headphone performance without the crossfeed, phasing, etc. present in binaural recordings.
 

phoenixsong

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It seems Drop has permanently increased the price of these to $180 after the temporary discount ($139; regular price was $169)
 
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