• 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!

Headphone EQ Suggestions

Berwhale

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
2,443
Likes
2,897
Location
UK
Hi, i'm looking for some advice on headphone EQ on a Windows desktop setup...

Earlier today, I setup the parametric EQ in USB Audio Player Pro for my MEE Audio Pinnacle P1's. I used the first 6 bands from the AutoEQ results DB and it was very easy to setup in UAPP. I'd like to try EQing my other headphones to the Harman target on my desktop to see how they compare.

My desktop runs Windows 10 and MusicBee (with VST plug-ins enabled). I've tried a few free ParametricEQ VSTs that I could find, but none of them seem to work very well (can't save presets, don't display properly, have to convert Q to bandwidth, etc.)

Should I give up on the VSTs (and ASIO) and use EqualizerAPO + Peace (and DirectSound) or can anyone recommend a better free or cheap VST I can use with MusicBee? I don't mind paying a reasonable amount for a decent VST, but the ones I've found all come as part of large VST bundles which I will never use.

P.S. I realise that this may be much easier to achieve in Foobar2000, but I have an irrational dislike of it!
 

sejarzo

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
477
Likes
479
I am happy with my Foobar2000 installation and too lazy to change for the sake of change...so I use MathAudio HeadphoneEQ. Unfortunately, while it is free for Foobar2000, the VST version is not. On the other hand, it allows saving of presets and uses Q rather than bandwidth.

https://mathaudio.com/headphone-eq.htm
 

Kouioui

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 9, 2019
Messages
163
Likes
183
Location
Central FL
Earlier today, I setup the parametric EQ in USB Audio Player Pro for my MEE Audio Pinnacle P1's. I used the first 6 bands from the AutoEQ results DB and it was very easy to setup in UAPP. I'd like to try EQing my other headphones to the Harman target on my desktop to see how they compare.
I know this is mostly subjective, but I prefer oratory1990's presets vs AutoEQ's DB on the headphones I own. My EQ apps are APO/Peace for Windows and UAPP with Toneboosters parametric EQ on Android.

You may have to use fewer bands from oratory in Toneboosters but he does have 5 and 6-band settings for a few popular cans such as the Senn 600/650/800. He suggests dropping the lowest dB adjustment bands from his 10-band settings for UAPP users.

APO/Peace uses DirectSound so you'll have Windows sample rate conversion and mixer instead of bit-perfect. I choose 24/44.1 in sound device properties and CD quality streaming in Tidal or Qobuz to deal with it. For recording I use ASIO and hi-res.
 
OP
Berwhale

Berwhale

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
2,443
Likes
2,897
Location
UK
I know this is mostly subjective, but I prefer oratory1990's presets vs AutoEQ's DB on the headphones I own.

Initially, I wasn't blown away by the EQ to Harman. However, I spent some time last night listening to a broader range of music and became much more comfortable with it. My subjective experience was that the music became clearer and more defined across a wider range of frequencies. Given the aims of the Harman target, I guess you'd call that a win.

I do want to explore the other target curves once I've got my desktop setup with parametric EQ. The more I play with what i've got, the less likely that I am to buy another set of headphones or IEMs (I keep looking at the B-stock HD660s that I posted in the Deals thread).
 
Last edited:

Kouioui

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 9, 2019
Messages
163
Likes
183
Location
Central FL
Initially, I wasn't blown away by the EQ to Harman. However, I spent some time last night listening to a broader range of music and became much more comfortable with it. My subjective experience was that the music became clearer and more defined across a wider range of frequencies. Given the aims of the Harman target, I guess you'd call that a win.

I do want to explore the other target curves once I've got my desktop setup with parametric EQ. M The more I play with what i've got, the less likely that I am to buy another set of headphones or IEMs (I keep looking at the B-stock HD660s that I posted in the Deals thread).
It does take a period of adjustment if you are used to the stock sound of your phones but like you say, the more you listen, the better it becomes. Also, I vary the dB on the low-shelf boost from can to can but never go over 10dB, even on my IEMs. There are other targets to try like USound but after trying a few, I always prefer Harman. Guess that means my ears are average as that's what Dr. Olive's research was all about, finding what most people prefer.
 

dwa

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2020
Messages
23
Likes
15
There is FabFilter Pro-Q 3, but I suppose price is beyond reasonable...
 
OP
Berwhale

Berwhale

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
2,443
Likes
2,897
Location
UK
Thanks everyone. I have installed equalizerAPO and Peace, imported the HE4XX file from AutoEQ and i'm impressed with the improvement so far. I had a look at Oratory1990's list and most if not all of my headphones are listed as Harman OE, so I assume i'll get the same EQ if I use AutoEQ or Oratory as the source.

*edit* Found this on AutoEQ...

"Recommendation priority is: oratory1990 > Crinacle > Innerfidelity > Rtings > Headphone.com > Reference Audio Analyzer. This means if there are measurements from multiple sources for the same headphone model only the highest priority result will be shown in this list."

I've been taking the recommended ParametricEQ file for each of my devices. I've got the following setup now...

Desktop (EquializerAPO + PEACE) EQ'd for:

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Over Ear
Massdrop x Hifiman HE4XX
AKG K712PRO

Mobile (UAPP + Toneboosters ParametricEQ) EQ'd for:

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Over Ear
MEE Audio Pinnacle P1
Fiio EX1 (Dunu Titan 1)

It didn't take very long and everything sounds better, particularly the Momentum 2.0s and the EX1s.
 
Last edited:

Kouioui

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 9, 2019
Messages
163
Likes
183
Location
Central FL
I had a look at Oratory1990's list and most if not all of my headphones are listed as Harman OE, so I assume i'll get the same EQ if I use AutoEQ or Oratory as the source.
Nope, not the same settings for both as oratory tweaks to suit his discerning ears. AutoEQ does use some of oratory's measurements but the final profiles vary. Try both and go with what you prefer.
 

solderdude

Grand Contributor
Joined
Jul 21, 2018
Messages
11,705
Likes
26,054
Location
The Neitherlands
As I never experimented with Oratory or other digital EQ (only my own analog EQ) a question to those that have a few headphones all EQ'ed using Oratory or whatever other 'accurate' EQ that results in a 'flat' response on the used measurement gear.

Which EQ software makes all headphones sound (almost) exactly the same ?
That would be a good 'measure' to determine accuracy of the method.
 

thewas

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
4,317
Likes
9,594
Which EQ software makes all headphones sound (almost) exactly the same ?
My personal experience till now is unfortunately none, as the variations of the individual real and measurement ears are too significant. I tried to EQ my HD600 to the tonality of a Focal Clear based on several different measurement databases and all gave different differences and none really sounded like the Focal. Similarily Sonarworks corrections of different headphones to the same target don't sound the same to me, a reason why I prefer listening with loudspeakers as there the influence of the individual ear geometry has not that influence. What supposedly works better is equalizing headphones by listening and direct comparison to a reference tone of 500 Hz like David Griesinger does.
 

Severian

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 11, 2019
Messages
197
Likes
181
I usually prefer my results from EQing by ear to the algorithmic presets. Most of the time a bass shelf and one or two corrections to treble peaks is all I need.
 

sejarzo

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
477
Likes
479
I usually prefer my results from EQing by ear to the algorithmic presets. Most of the time a bass shelf and one or two corrections to treble peaks is all I need.

Agreed. Many of the published corrections seem to be overdone.
 

Severian

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 11, 2019
Messages
197
Likes
181
Agreed. Many of the published corrections seem to be overdone.

Yeah, the oratory1990 corrections tend to alter the timbre of headphones in a way that doesn't sound natural to me.

I own and enjoy the AKG K371s so I don't think I have an issue with the Harman target itself.
 

sejarzo

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
477
Likes
479
Which EQ software makes all headphones sound (almost) exactly the same ?
That would be a good 'measure' to determine accuracy of the method.

Are you including all over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear phones as "headphones?"

I'm down to one set of over-the-ears and a couple IEMs, so I can't do any comparisons on over-ears. IMHO there's no way that IEMs and headphones could possibly be perceived as "the same" because IEMs lack the the bone conduction of over-ears.
 

Vincent Kars

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Technical Expert
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
608
Likes
1,101
As far as I know, MusicBee has a 15 band EQ.
You can save your settings as well.
 

sejarzo

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
477
Likes
479
Yeah, the oratory1990 corrections tend to alter the timbre of headphones in a way that doesn't sound natural to me.

Congested upper mids/honky sounding vocals on most otherwise well done pop recordings?
 

flipflop

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Feb 22, 2018
Messages
844
Likes
1,107
Which EQ software makes all headphones sound (almost) exactly the same ?
You can't make all headphones sound alike because some will be limited by a lack of bandwidth or objectionable non-linear distortion. Although different degrees of isolation won't have an impact on the reproduced sound, it will make a difference to the perceived sound due to the varying amounts of ambient noise that blends with the music.
Assuming none of the above-mentioned is a problem, it doesn't matter what software you use, as long as it does what you ask of it. You just have to equalize the headphones to the same frequency response, which you would need to confirm using a high-end measurement rig like the GRAS 45CA.
 
Top Bottom