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HBK Headphone Measurement Talks from Head-Fi and Sean Olive

GaryH

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I've learned by now that one can never "assume." The How to Listen software appears to have been released around 2009. Sean Olive's blog from May 2009 describes How to Listen as "a new computer-based software application." However, the paper demonstrating the difference in performance (quantified by the F-statistic) between trained and untrained listeners was published in 2003. And the paper correlating measurements with preference score, where the listeners were trained, was published in 2004. And neither paper in 2003 or 2004 seems to reference any such "How to Listen" software. This strongly suggests that there could be differences between the training that was utilized in the published research prior to 2009 and the training that is employed in How to Listen. Now it's possible that How to Listen is essentially identical to the training received by the Harman trained listeners, just in a computer-based form, but I don't think it's wise to assume that.
Just because they didn't mention it publicly doesn't necessarily mean they weren't using the program (or something similar) internally.
Thought I got that inclination from somewhere.
 

GaryH

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Unclear to me if you’re trying to make some kind of point
Not sure what you could be unclear about. We were debating whether Harman used a program similar to How to Listen internally prior to its public announcement in 2009. I was inclined to think (not assuming mind) that they did. The link above is the origin of that inclination, consisting of Sean Olive describing just such a program, referencing this paper from all the way back in 1994, in which:
the authors developed a self-administered, computer-automated training program designed to improve a listener's ability to reliably identify and rate different types of spectral distortions added to different program material
Clear now?
 
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preload

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Not sure what you could be unclear about. We were debating whether Harman used a program similar to How to Listen internally prior to its public announcement in 2009. I was inclined to think (not assuming mind) that they did. The link above is the origin of that inclination, consisting of Sean Olive describing just such a program, referencing this paper from all the way back in 1994, in which:

Clear now?

NO and so sorry if you misunderstood. We are not debating whether Harman used computer based listener training in the original paper. At least I’m not (maybe you are!). I was already aware of this possibility. My concern is that your insistence that reviewers get to “Level 8” on the How to Listen software may not be consistent with the listener training required in the original paper (ie the test signals used, the conditions of playback, the level of performance required, etc) Your link to Olive’s blog post does not address this question at all.

Also, 5-6 years is an eternity in both the software and research world. Do you really think Harman came out with research software and made zero substantive changes to it for half a decade before releasing it to the public?
 
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GaryH

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Please don't use all-caps, online that represents shouting at someone, it's aggressive. And please stop misrepresenting what I say with statements like this:
Also, 5-6 years is an eternity in both the software and research world. Do you really think Harman came out with research software and made zero substantive changes to it for half a decade before releasing it to the public?
I've put the key word in bold several times now, maybe italicising it too will help:
Just because they didn't mention it publicly doesn't necessarily mean they weren't using the program (or something similar) internally.

My concern is that your insistence that reviewers get to “Level 8” on the How to Listen software may not be consistent with the listener training required in the original paper (ie the test signals used, the conditions of playback, the level of performance required, etc)
I addressed that in this post. It's the F-statistic that:
is used to judge the performance of Harman's listeners. How to Listen helps improves the F-statistic by improving the listener's ability to reliably discriminate small frequency response differences. Even if the minutiae of the previous training was different to How to Listen, what would matter is that they are functionally equivalent in producing the desired end-result (improving the F-statistic to some minimum required level).
 

preload

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Please don't use all-caps, online that represents shouting at someone, it's aggressive.
Consider the possibility that I am well aware of this and that it represents a necessary emphasis when attempting to converse with you.

And please stop misrepresenting what I say with statements like this:
I addressed that in this post. It's the F-statistic that:
I read that post and I disagree that it supports your assertion that Level 8 is necessary for reviewers, including Amir, to pass in order to be credible. After all this back and forth, you still haven't provided evidence that achieving the equivalent of Level 8 was a requirement for the original papers where the value of having trained listeners (as measured by the F-statistic) in performing blind listening test research, was demonstrated.

I also don't care enough to continue this dialogue with you. You are more than welcome to continue your campaign to force all audio reviewers to comply with your ridiculous requirement, meanwhile not understanding why it is probably not worth their time in most cases. Fare thee well.
 

MayaTlab

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My concern is that your insistence that reviewers get to “Level 8” on the How to Listen software may not be consistent with the listener training required in the original paper (ie the test signals used, the conditions of playback, the level of performance required, etc)

If by original paper you mean the 2003 one, then I'm not certain that it's made explicit, but there is this 2001 article that presents the early days of Harman's training application's UI and principles : https://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=9960
You already get some features that appeared later on in the publicly released version (such as the band ID tests, the general way they're meant to work and how you progress through the skill levels for example) but I don't believe that there is any specific mention of what "trained" meant back then for Harman.
The UI looked a little funnier though (lifelines similar to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire ? :D).
If you mean the 1994 article, then I can already say : nope.

Please don't use all-caps, online that represents shouting at someone, it's aggressive.

That's rich coming from someone who's been repeatedly @ing members of this forum about something you know (knew ? Still no evidence you ever opened the app) nothing about. Perhaps consider how cavalier if not downright rude that was in the first place and how your own attitude in these fora wasted what used to be an informative thread (or others for that matter, it seems to be your modus operandi on ASR).
 

preload

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Alas... that isn't possible. Not even when you do this with a 100 headphones and average it.
The thought seems logical but it is too complex as all headphones interact differently on 2 different pinnas.
Well, I tried it anyway with 2 headphones, using my own personal ear as the pinna. It's actually not that bad.
LINK

Using two different headphones (AKG 701, JBL 710BT), with known Harman-performed measurements superimposed on Harman's target, I obtain FR measurements using binaural headphones on my own ear, allowing the creation of a rig-specific Harman target curve for each. The two derived curves actually agreed within < 1.5dB between 200Hz and 600Hz, and within <3dB between 600Hz and 2kHz. While this is a fairly narrow range, under 200Hz and over 2kHz are both ranges that are amenable to corrections with bass/treble tone controls, and high Q peaks in the treble can be measured easily and EQ'd to taste (or not). So there you go. Blue is the rig-specific Harman target derived from the 710BT, and green is the one derived from the 701.

1637026985708.png
 
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solderdude

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I see 2.5dB diff at 50Hz and 7dB diff at 3.2kHz.
Overall between 2kHz and 5kHz the green trace is a very audible 3+ dB higher so they should sound substantially different in clarity.

The challenge lies above 1kHz and for the BK5128 below 100Hz as well.
The latter seems to leak a tiny bit (looking at Harman plots and mine from the TUNE 710)

Besides.. you used blocked ear and different pinna and the mic might not have been at the correct position to imitate EARS.

I don't think you can conclude much from your measurements other than below 1kHz EQ works fine.
 

shaney777

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Besides the AKG K371, there are headphones costing less than $100 that come close to the Harman Target like this one.
View attachment 156459
Hello Sean,

My goal is to purchase a pair of closed headphones under $150 that come as close to the Harman curve (and highest preference rating) as possible. I keep seeing that the AKG K371 are tuned to the curve, but Oratory's measurements put their preference rating at 85/100, while yours are around 75. In my mind, with these low ratings, it doesn't sound like they're tuned to the curve. Why does something like Sundara (94/100 w/no EQ) score so much higher on the Harman preference rating than an actual headphone that AKG made to fit the curve? I don't understand. Crinacle regards the Shure SRH440 as being truer to the Harman curve than the AKG K371 as well. It seems that other manufacturers are getting closer to the preference curve, maybe without trying, than AKG is while trying? Are your own (or Harman's) preference scores of major headphones available online for free? I would love a rank based on your own testing.
 

seerious

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So I bought the JBL 710BT.

What a tremendous let-down. Some of the smallest earpads I've ever seen. I'd go as far as saying they might be intended as on-ears?
I pulled them off (which destroys them) and tried replacing them with some Wicked Cushions (standard M50X pleathers) but it ruins their sound.

I suppose this is just a heads-up / reminder that there is a lot more to headphones than a good sound profile.

A bummer because I love the OR harman target... I might grab the JBL Club Pro + as well, although I'm less taken with the IE target, finding it a bit tol shouty for my tastes.
 

Robbo99999

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So I bought the JBL 710BT.

What a tremendous let-down. Some of the smallest earpads I've ever seen. I'd go as far as saying they might be intended as on-ears?
I pulled them off (which destroys them) and tried replacing them with some Wicked Cushions (standard M50X pleathers) but it ruins their sound.

I suppose this is just a heads-up / reminder that there is a lot more to headphones than a good sound profile.

A bummer because I love the OR harman target... I might grab the JBL Club Pro + as well, although I'm less taken with the IE target, finding it a bit tol shouty for my tastes.
I would bet the earcups are probably similar size as the NAD HP50 that I have, fiddly to put on properly & get sitting right & you need quite small ears to fit inside the cups:
NAD-Viso-HP50.jpg


JBL Tune (for comparison):
5.JBL_TUNE_710BT_Product%20Image_Comfort_Blue.png
 

Jimbob54

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So I bought the JBL 710BT.

What a tremendous let-down. Some of the smallest earpads I've ever seen. I'd go as far as saying they might be intended as on-ears?
I pulled them off (which destroys them) and tried replacing them with some Wicked Cushions (standard M50X pleathers) but it ruins their sound.

I suppose this is just a heads-up / reminder that there is a lot more to headphones than a good sound profile.

A bummer because I love the OR harman target... I might grab the JBL Club Pro + as well, although I'm less taken with the IE target, finding it a bit tol shouty for my tastes.
Yup- and IMO the prime reason why you buy online and on the basis of reviews/ measurements at your peril. Nothing beats trying them on. Sadly not really an option for many brands anymore, so a no quibble return policy ideally in ones own country is key.

I suspect if I had the chance to actually audition most of the HP in my collection, I may have actually walked away with only 2 or 3 and fit/ comfort/ build would be the reason for not keeping in most cases.

And there is a separate hell for HP that are in reality On Ear for most folks but sold as Over Ear.
 
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