• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

FiiO FD5 Review (IEM)

Rate this IEM:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 1 0.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 14 7.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 48 25.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 129 67.2%

  • Total voters
    192

Garrincha

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2022
Messages
414
Likes
482
Yes, I can, using a tone generator and going through the frequency range and listening for the volume going up and down. This is part of the process for generating an EQ curve, you want to verify measurements. Where the peaks are exactly, particularly the 8kHz peak (it's a bit lower, around 7.6kHz in my case) will vary depending on your individual ear anatomy and insertion depth- this is why I said "for me".

Try it yourself, I'd be surprised if you can't hear them. Do try it with the FD5 and tell me how many peaks you hear in the upper mids, and roughly where they are. I'd be very surprised if you come back and say the FD5 sounds totally level in that region and there are no peaks.

2.7, 5.4, 7.6kHz is roughly where they peak for me, I'm not claiming pinpoint accuracy here but they are around those points, give or take a few hundred Hz. It's very notable listening to that range that there are three peaks on the FD5 but only two on the Timeless, the first is also much smoother and it doesn't have a peak around 5.4. My experience with other IEMs is that excessive peakiness in that region tends to result in a harsh sound, and while the FD5 is not the worst for this, it is there.
First of all, if you are using a tone generator and not listening to music, you are basically doing measurements and not listening, this is a different story. What you are saying is that you confirm the measured FR with another form of measurement, which is kind of redundant and trivial.
This is why Amir smoothed that out in his EQ with an adjustment UP at 3,700 and DOWN at 5,560, it brings up the first dip and down the second peak and smooths over that region. It's very effective and to me, makes the FD5 sound better
Eh yes, what he does is bringing it close to the target curve. I think this is clear, there is no mystery to it
Crinacle's measurements back up what I'm saying I hear, there is excess mid-bass that leaks into the lower mids and there is clearly a large peak around 5.5kHz that is not there on the Timeless. The FD5 has three significant peaks in the upper mids while the Timeless is much smoother, with a smoother initial ear gain peak and really only the coupler resonance peak. You can see this in the graph, the FD5 clearly has much bigger peaks in this region. I confirmed this by actually listening with a tone generator, but it's right there in the measurements you reference.
View attachment 213388
What isn't there on the graph is my subjective impression that the FD5 has more visceral bass impact, even when EQed down to Harman, that it has a more physical or tactile impression in the bass. I qualified that by saying it was my subjective impression and ascribing it to the driver type might be fanciful, but to me, there is a physicality to the FD5 bass that isn't quite the same on the Timeless, and that is the one thing for me it does better and that I go back to it for. This isn't saying that the Timeless doesn't have bass, it has plenty of bass, but there is a different quality to it on the FD5. And again- this is my subjective impression.

Strangely, in the link you provided the curves look a bit differently and very similar up to approx. 1kHz and all your talking mid-bass that leaks into lower mid end is not confirmed:
Captura de Tela 2022-06-18 às 02.51.58.png

If you can not tell the FD5 and Timeless apart in a blind test, or you cannot hear any peaks in the FD5 response in the upper mids, I suspect you may have hearing damage. Not being able to tell apart a competent DAC or amp is expected- a good one is totally flat. There is nothing to tell apart. I certainly can't. But IEMs / headphones are quite different from each other. For me, the Timeless is better tuned stock, it is less bloated in the mid bass/lower mids and less peaky/harsh in the upper mids/treble. This is in the graph, and it's my subjective impression listening to it too.
From this graph one can say that the only relevant difference in the FR is the additional peak at 5.5 kHz of the FD5 and a very slightly elevated region between 1 and 3 kHz. Is it audible ? In principle yes. But if you knew nothing about the FR of two unknown IEMs having a similar minor difference in FR as these two, listening to music and not test tones, I hardly doubt you would be able to pass a blind test. Again, I am with you, there is an audible difference (unlike in competent DAC and amps), but is is far from trivial to hear using music.
I recently did the Klippel test on distortion, with test tones and was able to get -50dB, with music there is no chance to come even close.
 

Garrincha

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2022
Messages
414
Likes
482
Yes, I can, using a tone generator and going through the frequency range and listening for the volume going up and down.
Next time you tell me you hear the difference in FR between the Moondrop Kato and the 7Hz Timeless with a symphony recording: ;)
Crinacle FR Moondrop Kato vs 7Hz Timeless.png
 
Last edited:

Jimbob54

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
8,818
Likes
11,073
Next time you tell me you hear the difference in FR between the Moondrop Kato and the 7Hz Timeless with a symphony recording: ;)
View attachment 213408
Well depending how accurate those charts are past 10k and how good ones hearing is, yup. And that's the treble. There's more low end too. Tonally similar, it's impossible to AB properly but I could understand someone saying they sounded different.
 

Garrincha

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2022
Messages
414
Likes
482
Well depending how accurate those charts are past 10k and how good ones hearing is, yup. And that's the treble. There's more low end too. Tonally similar, it's impossible to AB properly but I could understand someone saying they sounded different.
'Tonally similar' is funny. If you are not Mozart or Bach you most probably will not be able to hear the difference. I made the tone test. Above 10kHz, by the way, this is not the 'treble' it's the 'air', not considering how questionable the mesurements are in this region anyway, there is barely any music and most people above 30 don't hear it anyway. And the difference in bass is maximum 1-2 dB. So if someone really passed an ABX test for this difference in FR I would be very surprised. And from someone like this I would like to hear subjectivist gear review, not from all the folks around just talking about what they hear and never proving.
 

Jimbob54

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
8,818
Likes
11,073
'Tonally similar' is funny. If you are not Mozart or Bach you most probably will not be able to hear the difference. I made the tone test. Above 10kHz, by the way, this is not the 'treble' it's the 'air', not considering how questionable the mesurements are in this region anyway, there is barely any music and most people above 30 don't hear it anyway. And the difference in bass is maximum 1-2 dB. So if someone really passed an ABX test for this difference in FR I would be very surprised. And from someone like this I would like to hear subjectivist gear review, not from all the folks around just talking about what they hear and never proving.

Pick your favourite headphones. Using your preferred EQ software create a range of different EQ profiles- all using the same preamp of -3 db (or 4 , or whatever)

1. Low shelf, 100hz 1db
2. " 2db
3. "3db
3. Low shelf 200hz 1db
etc

Then repeat for high shelves above 8k, then 10 k

Then see for yourself what changes you can hear during music. if you switch between profiles .Matters not one jot what anyone else can or cant.

But I'd be surprised if you moved from flat to a 2 db bass shelf you couldnt hear it immediately. Which is what moving from the Kato to the timeless is doing, on paper at least. Likewise, going from flat to a 4 or 5db 10k shelf should change the sound noticeably
 

Blorg

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2020
Messages
75
Likes
99
@Garrincha the difference in the graphs is the frequency they are normalized at, the one I posted which shows higher bass (which is also my subjective perception) is normalized at 1,000Hz, which is a common point for normalization.

I don't have the Kato, so I can't compare it.

Someone asked for a comparison with the Timeless, I have both it and the FD5 and so I gave my perception of them- FD5 has more mid-bass, and harsher upper mids/treble. I think the Timeless is better tuned. The more bloated bass is very obvious, I get this immediately. The harshness in the upper mids/treble is more subtle, it's something that only crops up on some tracks. As I said, the FD5 is not the worst for this, I have sets that are far worse. But the Timeless is better.

Pulling them out again to compare, the Timeless sounds much cleaner and crisper, well separated bass, less recessed mids. The FD5 has more bass impact and sounds warmer and fuller.

To me these two sets do not sound the same. They have a broadly similar sound signature, in that they are both V shaped, the FD5 more so, but you are saying that they sound identical to the point where you don't believe I would be able to distinguish between them in a blind test.

Do these two IEMs actually sound identical to you? Like if you listen to something, and swap- it's exactly the same? No difference? And if you can't hear any difference whatsoever between any of this stuff, why do you have it?
 

Jimbob54

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
8,818
Likes
11,073
Pick your favourite headphones. Using your preferred EQ software create a range of different EQ profiles- all using the same preamp of -3 db (or 4 , or whatever)

1. Low shelf, 100hz 1db
2. " 2db
3. "3db
3. Low shelf 200hz 1db
etc

Then repeat for high shelves above 8k, then 10 k

Then see for yourself what changes you can hear during music. if you switch between profiles .Matters not one jot what anyone else can or cant.

But I'd be surprised if you moved from flat to a 2 db bass shelf you couldnt hear it immediately. Which is what moving from the Kato to the timeless is doing, on paper at least. Likewise, going from flat to a 4 or 5db 10k shelf should change the sound noticeably

@Garrincha I just did a condensed version of this myself (I used 150 as the low shelf frequency, more resembles the point where the Kato and FD5 split off)

Some unscientific but obvious points (to these 46 yo ears) :

1. Far easier to spot a 1 or 2 db bass shelf than a 2-3 db 10k shelf
2. Far easier to spot an 8k shelf than a 10k
3. Far easier to spot a 10k shelf on over ears (Hifiman XS) than on the FD5.
4. I doubt I could reliably pick a 1 or 2 db 10k shelf unless it was with tones on the FD5, maybe on the XS
5. Impossible to miss a switch from flat to a profile with 2 db bass and 4db 10k shelves on the FD5
 

wacomme

Senior Member
Joined
May 11, 2022
Messages
304
Likes
61
@Garrincha the difference in the graphs is the frequency they are normalized at, the one I posted which shows higher bass (which is also my subjective perception) is normalized at 1,000Hz, which is a common point for normalization.

I don't have the Kato, so I can't compare it.

Someone asked for a comparison with the Timeless, I have both it and the FD5 and so I gave my perception of them- FD5 has more mid-bass, and harsher upper mids/treble. I think the Timeless is better tuned. The more bloated bass is very obvious, I get this immediately. The harshness in the upper mids/treble is more subtle, it's something that only crops up on some tracks. As I said, the FD5 is not the worst for this, I have sets that are far worse. But the Timeless is better.

Pulling them out again to compare, the Timeless sounds much cleaner and crisper, well separated bass, less recessed mids. The FD5 has more bass impact and sounds warmer and fuller.

To me these two sets do not sound the same. They have a broadly similar sound signature, in that they are both V shaped, the FD5 more so, but you are saying that they sound identical to the point where you don't believe I would be able to distinguish between them in a blind test.

Do these two IEMs actually sound identical to you? Like if you listen to something, and swap- it's exactly the same? No difference? And if you can't hear any difference whatsoever between any of this stuff, why do you have it?
Thank you for the comparison of the FD5 and the Timeless. I had no idea I'd get such an extensive discourse on the subject.
 

Garrincha

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2022
Messages
414
Likes
482
@Garrincha the difference in the graphs is the frequency they are normalized at, the one I posted which shows higher bass (which is also my subjective perception) is normalized at 1,000Hz, which is a common point for normalization.

I don't have the Kato, so I can't compare it.

Someone asked for a comparison with the Timeless, I have both it and the FD5 and so I gave my perception of them- FD5 has more mid-bass, and harsher upper mids/treble. I think the Timeless is better tuned. The more bloated bass is very obvious, I get this immediately. The harshness in the upper mids/treble is more subtle, it's something that only crops up on some tracks. As I said, the FD5 is not the worst for this, I have sets that are far worse. But the Timeless is better.

Pulling them out again to compare, the Timeless sounds much cleaner and crisper, well separated bass, less recessed mids. The FD5 has more bass impact and sounds warmer and fuller.
Full sound usually is attributed to more midrange. But if you normalize to 1kH, the region between 1kHz and 4kHz is basically the same, the Timeless even having a bit more dB, so I can't confirm this.
To me these two sets do not sound the same. They have a broadly similar sound signature, in that they are both V shaped, the FD5 more so, but you are saying that they sound identical to the point where you don't believe I would be able to distinguish between them in a blind test.
I never said they sound identical. I only said it won't be easy to pass a blind test, depending on how it is done. If you replace the IEMs manually and have to remember what you heard before, it might be tough, as acoustic qualitative memory is basically non-existent, if you have a generic IEM that stays in place and just switch the tuning with a button, then it should be no problem. I refered to the first variant before.
Do these two IEMs actually sound identical to you? Like if you listen to something, and swap- it's exactly the same? No difference? And if you can't hear any difference whatsoever between any of this stuff, why do you have it?
I actually use EQ. Do they sound differently to you after EQ? (Serious question, this is what I find most interesting, how much of the sound is determined by FR and distortion). I have them because I like them and am lisening and experimenting with these. They are also quite affordable and use different drivers, so that is interesting in it's own.
 
Last edited:

Leiker535

Active Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
168
Likes
187
'Tonally similar' is funny. If you are not Mozart or Bach you most probably will not be able to hear the difference. I made the tone test. Above 10kHz, by the way, this is not the 'treble' it's the 'air', not considering how questionable the mesurements are in this region anyway, there is barely any music and most people above 30 don't hear it anyway. And the difference in bass is maximum 1-2 dB. So if someone really passed an ABX test for this difference in FR I would be very surprised. And from someone like this I would like to hear subjectivist gear review, not from all the folks around just talking about what they hear and never proving.
Be also mindful that fit is entirely subjeticve and does change the "in ear" FR response, for that, just look at the Etymotic deep insertion iems. I have a suspicion, for example, that although the Timeless and the Kato (and the Shueor s12) measure very closely objectively, they can sound apart from each other subjectively because the Timeless fit is kind of shallow.
there is a physicality to the FD5 bass that isn't quite the same on the Timeless, and that is the one thing for me it does better and that I go back to it for.
I am very intrigued by what may the cause of this, as I do also notice it with the S12 vs. my other iems, the dunu titan S and the MD Variations. I've also seen others noticing it. No matter how high I EQ the subshelf to match the Variations, the bass is always kind of soft. The same also to the titan S and it has even less bass from the FR, but here I suspect that the single DD is actually distorting (it loses sense of control and I notice it's timbre/tambor is kinda off).
 

half_dog

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2018
Messages
368
Likes
279
Location
Brazil
No matter how high I EQ the subshelf to match the Variations, the bass is always kind of soft. The same also to the titan S and it has even less bass from the FR, but here I suspect that the single DD is actually distorting (it loses sense of control and I notice it's timbre/tambor is kinda off).
Do you have a Kato? If yes have you tried to equalized it as well? This IEM has the ability to reproduce sub sonic frequencies quite good. Maybe it will play as the Variations if EQed... About the others IEMs, I have tried to EQ a Starfield and a Aria to Kato's curve but doesn't matter how much sub bass I would put on them, they couldn't hit the sub notes as good as the Kato does.
So, some time ago I measured them (Kato, Aria and Starfield) with a DIY coupler that was I have got. Look how low Kato can go while the others rolled off sooner... I believe Starfield, Aria and the IEMs you mentioned don't have the physical ability to reproduce those notes.
 

Blorg

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2020
Messages
75
Likes
99
@Garrincha by "warmer and fuller" I mean the FD5 has more mid-bass and lower mids. This is in the graph, at least if you normalize to 1kHz. The 1kHz-4kHz region is upper mids (and lower treble, depending on who is describing it). Lower mids are below 1kHz. This is the region I'm talking about with regard to "warmer and fuller". I perceive a significant difference below 1kHz, the issue with upper mids/lower treble harshness is above 1kHz but is also much more subtle.

I pretty much always EQ the FD5, I find it needs EQ. It's a bit boomy without EQ, and the EQ also helps smooth over the upper mids/treble wobble. I use Amir's EQ, it works well.

The Timeless I sometimes EQ, but often don't; I think it sounds good stock and doesn't need EQ like the FD5 does. When I do EQ I use Oratory1990's target, I usually prefer his own target over Harman with IEMs and this is also true here. His Harman EQ to me on my set sounds off, it makes it sound much worse. Too thin.

Oratory1990's own target sounds better to me. I think it's an improvement over stock. But it's also a smaller change, to the point I don't find it essential. The main change with it, is it pushes the ear gain back a bit so it slopes up starting at 1.5kHz rather than 1kHz. This makes it sound less forward. It also brings down the ear gain peak at ~2.6 slightly while bringing up the 4-7kHz region. I think this does probably help a bit but I think I more sensitive there to peaks and dips, rather than the absolute level, I have IEMs that are higher or lower there and they do sound different but the ones I find harsh in a problematic way it's not so much the absolute level but how peaky it is. And the Timeless is quite smooth there stock. It also very slightly cuts the mid-bass to steepen the slope and better separate the bass, I like this in theory but it is so slight I am not sure it is perceptible. The larger changes I perceive with it are all further up, above 1kHz. The bass is pretty much on point stock.

Conversely, the largest difference with the FD5 EQ is the exact opposite, it's the reduction of the mid-bass and lower mids, below 1kHz. EQ on the FD5 makes a bigger difference and is more necessary for me, mostly due to the excess bass response.
 

Leiker535

Active Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
168
Likes
187
Do you have a Kato? If yes have you tried to equalized it as well? This IEM has the ability to reproduce sub sonic frequencies quite good. Maybe it will play as the Variations if EQed...
No I don't, unfortunately. I would very much like to hear it though, as it appears to offer the moondrop tonality I like without the variation's premium cost. One thing to note is that the harman dip on the variations is easily noticeable when switching to other iems, so in that sense its subbass is more easily perceived.

The Timeless I sometimes EQ, but often don't; I think it sounds good stock and doesn't need EQ like the FD5 does. When I do EQ I use Oratory1990's target, I usually prefer his own target over Harman with IEMs and this is also true here. His Harman EQ to me on my set sounds off, it makes it sound much worse. Too thin.

His post EQ measurings bring up an interesting thing I had also noticed on my s12. The shuoers probably share the same planar driver of the 7hz as they are almost identical FR-wise and came around the same time, but the s12 has that 8khz peak even worse than the timeless. We see on oratory's measurements that he could not bring it down even after EQ (he used a negative HF with neutral .7 Q though, I'd use a PK filter with high Q), this makes me suspicious that this is actually a strong resonance of the driver, I say this because I personally couldn't bring the cymbal/transients fowardness with EQ neither. That peak may give the iem's a bit of their "resolution" and detail impression on people.
 

Blorg

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2020
Messages
75
Likes
99
We see on oratory's measurements that he could not bring it down even after EQ (he used a negative HF with neutral .7 Q though, I'd use a PK filter with high Q), this makes me suspicious that this is actually a strong resonance of the driver, I say this because I personally couldn't bring the cymbal/transients fowardness with EQ neither. That peak may give the iem's a bit of their "resolution" and detail impression on people.
He details why he doesn't directly attack the ear canal resonance here:

Why do you rarely use EQ to remove the resonance at 7-9 kHz on in-ear headphones?​

That’s what we call the Ear Canal Resonance. It’s a half-wavelength resonance of your ear canal and it depends heavily on how far you insert the earphone into your ear.
On in-earphones designed for deep insertion (like Etymotic) this resonance can shift to over 10 kHz, on some earphones designed for shallow insertion (like Sennheiser IE800) it typically lies at 7 kHz.
You will have to look for this resonance yourself and adjust the filters accordingly. I can’t do that for you because it depends on your ear canal.

I have both the S12 and Timeless and I agree, I think they are the same driver. I think the main difference between them is that the Timeless has tuning foam in the nozzles while the S12 the nozzles are completely open (I've looked). This dampens the treble on the Timeless and is IMO a positive. I'd be interested if someone tried putting foam in the S12 nozzles and measured it, to compare. I'd expect the acoustic cavity also has an effect but the response is so similar other than the treble and this is exactly what tuning foam would do.

I have the Variations as well and agree with you that the "Harman dip" from the sub-bass is very noticeable, I sort of got used to it and still do think the Variations is an excellent IEM but personally I do still think it's just a little too extreme and I think I prefer IEMs that don't have quite as drastic a drop, I think they sound more natural. The Variations bass is still fantastic on some things when you're in the mood for that but it can come across as exaggerated.
 

Garrincha

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2022
Messages
414
Likes
482
@Garrincha by "warmer and fuller" I mean the FD5 has more mid-bass and lower mids. This is in the graph, at least if you normalize to 1kHz. The 1kHz-4kHz region is upper mids (and lower treble, depending on who is describing it). Lower mids are below 1kHz. This is the region I'm talking about with regard to "warmer and fuller". I perceive a significant difference below 1kHz, the issue with upper mids/lower treble harshness is above 1kHz but is also much more subtle.

I pretty much always EQ the FD5, I find it needs EQ. It's a bit boomy without EQ, and the EQ also helps smooth over the upper mids/treble wobble. I use Amir's EQ, it works well.

The Timeless I sometimes EQ, but often don't; I think it sounds good stock and doesn't need EQ like the FD5 does. When I do EQ I use Oratory1990's target, I usually prefer his own target over Harman with IEMs and this is also true here. His Harman EQ to me on my set sounds off, it makes it sound much worse. Too thin.

Oratory1990's own target sounds better to me. I think it's an improvement over stock. But it's also a smaller change, to the point I don't find it essential. The main change with it, is it pushes the ear gain back a bit so it slopes up starting at 1.5kHz rather than 1kHz. This makes it sound less forward. It also brings down the ear gain peak at ~2.6 slightly while bringing up the 4-7kHz region. I think this does probably help a bit but I think I more sensitive there to peaks and dips, rather than the absolute level, I have IEMs that are higher or lower there and they do sound different but the ones I find harsh in a problematic way it's not so much the absolute level but how peaky it is. And the Timeless is quite smooth there stock. It also very slightly cuts the mid-bass to steepen the slope and better separate the bass, I like this in theory but it is so slight I am not sure it is perceptible. The larger changes I perceive with it are all further up, above 1kHz. The bass is pretty much on point stock.

Conversely, the largest difference with the FD5 EQ is the exact opposite, it's the reduction of the mid-bass and lower mids, below 1kHz. EQ on the FD5 makes a bigger difference and is more necessary for me, mostly due to the excess bass response.
Ok, let me ask you once again, since you really seem to have very refined hearing capabilities. Do you hear a difference between IEMs ( Timeless, S12, FD5, etc) after you EQed them?
 

Blorg

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2020
Messages
75
Likes
99
Ok, let me ask you once again, since you really seem to have very refined hearing capabilities. Do you hear a difference between IEMs ( Timeless, S12, FD5, etc) after you EQed them?
I do not consider myself to have remotely refined hearing capabilities. I can't hear anything beyond 15kHz or so. I'm not ultra sensitive and I KNOW I will adapt to a new headphone if I just use it for a while, and it will start to sound "normal". I can't hear any difference between DACs or amps. I can't hear Hi-Res and I don't think there's any point in that. I'm not confident I can distinguish even lossless 44.1/16 from high bitrate lossy encoding.

But the sound of different headphones differs by far far more than any of this other stuff.

If I'm using EQ curves from other people's measurements, yes absolutely. Amir's EQ for the FD5 is attempting to EQ to Harman, I find that sounds good. I have also tried Oratory1990's Harman EQ for the Timeless and that does not sound good. They sound different. The FD5 with EQ sounds a lot better than the Timeless with Harman EQ. But I'd still take the Timeless with no EQ, or Oratory1990's EQ over the FD5 with Amir's EQ.

If the frequency response at my eardrum was exactly the same after EQ, maybe not... but this is completely theoretical as how are we ever going get such an exact personalized EQ. Maybe in the future, with stuff that integrates in-ear measurements and there are already moves in that direction, like with Nuraphones or Adaptive EQ on Apple AirPods. But even a inward facing mic on an earbud is not the same as the frequency response at the actual eardrum, which is what matters. It's movement in that direction, but I don't think anyone has cracked this yet. I could certainly imagine that this could be cracked in the future.

You don't seem to get how the IEM or headphone sounds on a particular actual human head is quite different from how it measures on a test rig, and that test rig measurements are full of inaccuracies and variances. Different sources get quite different results, there are certainly broad commonalities but if you are trying to EQ to the exact same frequency response how do you do that if you don't have exact measurements? Even on the same rig, Amir doesn't do it but many do multiple measurements and average them, look at these measurements and the amount of variance you can get from the same person using a single rig.

Then beyond that, if you have the same frequency response coming out of the headphone, you have variance with overears from the acoustic chamber and the interface with the ear. Fit makes a huge difference and this can even vary substantially on a single individual each time they put on the headphone or even while wearing it if it has a loose clamp.

Pads make a difference, pad wear over time makes a huge difference. Seal makes a difference.

Tips make a difference with IEMs, as does insertion depth (greater insertion depth pushes the ear resonance peaks higher).

Background noise makes a difference.

So it's not that easy to just automatically EQ and be sure you actually have it exactly so. If it was, maybe- but it's not. So you're talking about if we could do something we can't actually do- what would things be like then. AutoEQ is particularly bad for this as it just takes a whole measurement and smushes it using peak filters, even up in the treble where the measurement is largely unreliable even on a single fixture and even more unreliable when applied to actual individuals. Some AutoEQ curves are just terrible. Others work quite well.

So in the real world- yes, this stuff can still sound different.

Your method with this, seems to be just drop any variable you don't like and handwave it away. No matter how much it impacts the sound signature. And you presume we have perfect data and methods to start with which we don't. There was that other thread you spent pages denying that fit mattered one jot when everyone else in the thread was telling you it made a huge difference to frequency response (which you could test for yourself if you just went and tried it!)

It's hard to know really what your position even is as you started this with a pronouncement that you couldn't tell the difference between the FD5 and Timeless and Kato in a blind test but then when we talked about this a bit more you said "of course" you could immediately tell the difference if there was actually a way to immediately switch as they are obviously very different. So it was from "impossible in a blind test" to "of course immediately obvious" and the only issue remaining was auditory memory. Our auditory memory is very bad but it can still discern some level of differences.

Have you actually tried- could I ask you that? Have you actually tried to go off and see if you can hear the difference? Because we started this with there is way to tell the difference between the FD5 and Timeless stock in a blind test, and now the goalposts have been shifted massively to what if we EQed both of them. But "EQ both of them" presumes we can actually do that accurately, which is not as trivial as you think it is.

If you don't think any of it sounds different, I think you're good with what you have, you won't likely see any improvements either. Good place to be.
 

Jimbob54

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
8,818
Likes
11,073
I do not consider myself to have remotely refined hearing capabilities. I can't hear anything beyond 15kHz or so. I'm not ultra sensitive and I KNOW I will adapt to a new headphone if I just use it for a while, and it will start to sound "normal". I can't hear any difference between DACs or amps. I can't hear Hi-Res and I don't think there's any point in that. I'm not confident I can distinguish even lossless 44.1/16 from high bitrate lossy encoding.

But the sound of different headphones differs by far far more than any of this other stuff.

If I'm using EQ curves from other people's measurements, yes absolutely. Amir's EQ for the FD5 is attempting to EQ to Harman, I find that sounds good. I have also tried Oratory1990's Harman EQ for the Timeless and that does not sound good. They sound different. The FD5 with EQ sounds a lot better than the Timeless with Harman EQ. But I'd still take the Timeless with no EQ, or Oratory1990's EQ over the FD5 with Amir's EQ.

If the frequency response at my eardrum was exactly the same after EQ, maybe not... but this is completely theoretical as how are we ever going get such an exact personalized EQ. Maybe in the future, with stuff that integrates in-ear measurements and there are already moves in that direction, like with Nuraphones or Adaptive EQ on Apple AirPods. But even a inward facing mic on an earbud is not the same as the frequency response at the actual eardrum, which is what matters. It's movement in that direction, but I don't think anyone has cracked this yet. I could certainly imagine that this could be cracked in the future.

You don't seem to get how the IEM or headphone sounds on a particular actual human head is quite different from how it measures on a test rig, and that test rig measurements are full of inaccuracies and variances. Different sources get quite different results, there are certainly broad commonalities but if you are trying to EQ to the exact same frequency response how do you do that if you don't have exact measurements? Even on the same rig, Amir doesn't do it but many do multiple measurements and average them, look at these measurements and the amount of variance you can get from the same person using a single rig.

Then beyond that, if you have the same frequency response coming out of the headphone, you have variance with overears from the acoustic chamber and the interface with the ear. Fit makes a huge difference and this can even vary substantially on a single individual each time they put on the headphone or even while wearing it if it has a loose clamp.

Pads make a difference, pad wear over time makes a huge difference. Seal makes a difference.

Tips make a difference with IEMs, as does insertion depth (greater insertion depth pushes the ear resonance peaks higher).

Background noise makes a difference.

So it's not that easy to just automatically EQ and be sure you actually have it exactly so. If it was, maybe- but it's not. So you're talking about if we could do something we can't actually do- what would things be like then. AutoEQ is particularly bad for this as it just takes a whole measurement and smushes it using peak filters, even up in the treble where the measurement is largely unreliable even on a single fixture and even more unreliable when applied to actual individuals. Some AutoEQ curves are just terrible. Others work quite well.

So in the real world- yes, this stuff can still sound different.

Your method with this, seems to be just drop any variable you don't like and handwave it away. No matter how much it impacts the sound signature. And you presume we have perfect data and methods to start with which we don't. There was that other thread you spent pages denying that fit mattered one jot when everyone else in the thread was telling you it made a huge difference to frequency response (which you could test for yourself if you just went and tried it!)

It's hard to know really what your position even is as you started this with a pronouncement that you couldn't tell the difference between the FD5 and Timeless and Kato in a blind test but then when we talked about this a bit more you said "of course" you could immediately tell the difference if there was actually a way to immediately switch as they are obviously very different. So it was from "impossible in a blind test" to "of course immediately obvious" and the only issue remaining was auditory memory. Our auditory memory is very bad but it can still discern some level of differences.

Have you actually tried- could I ask you that? Have you actually tried to go off and see if you can hear the difference? Because we started this with there is way to tell the difference between the FD5 and Timeless stock in a blind test, and now the goalposts have been shifted massively to what if we EQed both of them. But "EQ both of them" presumes we can actually do that accurately, which is not as trivial as you think it is.

If you don't think any of it sounds different, I think you're good with what you have, you won't likely see any improvements either. Good place to be.
Check my logic here, but there is a way to demonstrate this if anyone could be bothered (I cant)

Pick 2 IEMs with similar but not identical FR from the same measurement source (lets say Oratory), of which you own at least one of them , ideally both.

Create 4 EQ profiles (all with same preamp adjustment obviously):

Flat
Unit A (the one you have) to Target
Unit A to Unit B (would take someone with some competency in determining filters based on 2 overlayed graphs)
Unit A to unit B to Target (so a cumulative EQ based on the above plus the Oratory filters for B to target)

As most EQ software allows seamless switching between profiles a subject plus friend could happily do some blinded testing switching between at will.

I think we both know in uninterrupted listening (so seal etc remains the same) swapping profiles will produce discernible changes in most cases. I also suspect, and maybe this is Garrincha's point, if you walked away for 30 mins, the friend randomises the profile that is active and subject starts listening again, they are unlikely to be able to tell which profile is active without peeking. But I think that would depend on what the bass differences are in the profiles- it would be the most obvious "tell" for me and easiest to remember for me whereas a 1 or 2 db difference in a higher freq range, less easy to spot.
 

Blorg

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2020
Messages
75
Likes
99
@Jimbob54 that's very possible, and even more if we are talking about walking away for longer than 30 minutes. I know I will "get used" to really quite different sound signatures and if I listen to one particular headphone for an extended period, (like I go on holiday and just take one thing) it will become the "normal" anything else is then compared with.
 

Jimbob54

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
8,818
Likes
11,073
So- here is a thing. Still looking for the most comfortable way to wear these but I have maybe found a winner:

Wearing them upside down! They sit very nicely with the cable pointing down rather than hooking around one's ear. Decent seal too.

BUT- it needs a cable without the stiffened ear hook. I happen to have one on another pair that I have borrowed and it works well- long term comfort to be confirmed. I wear them sitting so less chance of them working loose.

Does anyone happen to know an aftermarket IEM cable make/ model that have little to no stiffening on the first few inches after the earpiece? The stock cable is way too formed and bent to be useful for this.
Update on this, linked post details what I got. https://www.audiosciencereview.com/.../iem-cable-without-stiffened-ear-hooks.34940/

Regarding wearing upside down, some thoughts:

1. Insertion with same tips is shallower so less bass bloom- but seal remains decent (tested with the seal test- invaluable when tip rolling! https://asiaudio.com/pages/audio-seal-test). I use far less reduction in that 200hz area this way up, sounds far more natural

2. Fit (for my ears) works well- stay put when sat at a desk with the rear edge tucked behind that bit of cartilage above your ear lobe- - but there is a hard edge there that might cause many a hot spot after a bit of wear- but I prefer to a less secure over ear fit. They are now more like very good ear buds than IEMs -which suits me fine.
PXL_20220620_105543067.jpg
 

Garrincha

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2022
Messages
414
Likes
482
I do not consider myself to have remotely refined hearing capabilities. I can't hear anything beyond 15kHz or so. I'm not ultra sensitive and I KNOW I will adapt to a new headphone if I just use it for a while, and it will start to sound "normal". I can't hear any difference between DACs or amps. I can't hear Hi-Res and I don't think there's any point in that. I'm not confident I can distinguish even lossless 44.1/16 from high bitrate lossy encoding.
Neither do I. It is kind of embarrasing, but i didn´t pass tests on 320kbs mp3 vs 44.1/16, Amir even could distinguish Hi-Res from redbook CD!
But the sound of different headphones differs by far far more than any of this other stuff.

If I'm using EQ curves from other people's measurements, yes absolutely. Amir's EQ for the FD5 is attempting to EQ to Harman, I find that sounds good. I have also tried Oratory1990's Harman EQ for the Timeless and that does not sound good. They sound different. The FD5 with EQ sounds a lot better than the Timeless with Harman EQ. But I'd still take the Timeless with no EQ, or Oratory1990's EQ over the FD5 with Amir's EQ.

If the frequency response at my eardrum was exactly the same after EQ, maybe not... but this is completely theoretical as how are we ever going get such an exact personalized EQ. Maybe in the future, with stuff that integrates in-ear measurements and there are already moves in that direction, like with Nuraphones or Adaptive EQ on Apple AirPods. But even a inward facing mic on an earbud is not the same as the frequency response at the actual eardrum, which is what matters. It's movement in that direction, but I don't think anyone has cracked this yet. I could certainly imagine that this could be cracked in the future.

You don't seem to get how the IEM or headphone sounds on a particular actual human head is quite different from how it measures on a test rig, and that test rig measurements are full of inaccuracies and variances. Different sources get quite different results, there are certainly broad commonalities but if you are trying to EQ to the exact same frequency response how do you do that if you don't have exact measurements? Even on the same rig, Amir doesn't do it but many do multiple measurements and average them, look at these measurements and the amount of variance you can get from the same person using a single rig.
I do get it, I know the measurements are far from perfect and many variables cannot be controlled very good (insertion depth, anatomy etc.) And I know these have a significant influence. But basing a discussion on this does not provide a good basis, as everything then seems arbitrary. Because of this my question if of theoretical nature (Gedankenexperiment). Given everything being equal, do two IEMs with potentially different driver configuration, form etc, which are perfectly tuned to the same target curve with equal amount of distortion, necessarily sound in every respect the same?
So in the real world- yes, this stuff can still sound different.

Your method with this, seems to be just drop any variable you don't like and handwave it away. No matter how much it impacts the sound signature. And you presume we have perfect data and methods to start with which we don't. There was that other thread you spent pages denying that fit mattered one jot when everyone else in the thread was telling you it made a huge difference to frequency response (which you could test for yourself if you just went and tried it!)
I wasn´t denying it a bit, as said above, if all this causes so many unmeasurable and uncontrolled differences, ther is no signifiant discussion left, as everything seems arbitrary.
It's hard to know really what your position even is as you started this with a pronouncement that you couldn't tell the difference between the FD5 and Timeless and Kato in a blind test but then when we talked about this a bit more you said "of course" you could immediately tell the difference if there was actually a way to immediately switch as they are obviously very different. So it was from "impossible in a blind test" to "of course immediately obvious" and the only issue remaining was auditory memory. Our auditory memory is very bad but it can still discern some level of differences.
I replied to this already. If a blind test is constructed like this, that you pull out one IEM and then insert the other one, it is very hard to confirm tiny differences, as the acoustic memory is very weak. If, on the other hand, you stay with the IEM in place and just switch on and off EQ, it becomes often very easily audible.
As a sidemark, I always have to laugh when subjectivist reviewers compare the sound of one piece of gear to another one they don´t even have anymore and did listen weeks, month or even years ago. This is utterly ridiculous. In my case, and I think this is some general fact of human hearing, sonic memory is basically gone in microseconds, at least the details.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom