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Hifiman Sundara Review (headphone)

JanesJr1

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That's what his measurement shows.

Mine shows a dip at 10kHz but peaks above

Unsmoothed below. Above was using psychoacoustic smoothing

Big dip 5-6kHz that shows up in all measurements, left and right and with multiple-reseats

View attachment 239185
Thank you! You meant what you said and said what you meant. Time to ditch the oscilloscope and clean the wax out of my ears for an EarQ.
 

MayaTlab

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Noted I've been using oratory and crinacle, that's why I compared in my measurement.

Interesting, with my 'flat plate method' if I EQ'ed the orange curve (no DSP) to lift bass and boost the 1-4kHz region, that would actually align with oratory and crinacle measurements well (the biggest issues anyway - not the micro details)

Even for a pair of headphones like the Sundara I'd be quite careful comparing flat plate measurements with ear simulator measurements at lower frequencies.

The dip at 6kHz shows in everyone's measurement but I don't see them actually applying their EQ and showing the 'after' measurement.

The measurement method you've used may introduce peaks / dips, including nulls resistant to EQ, in places where ear simulator won't feature them, or the headphones on your own head.

Even in ear mics may introduce such features in places where you don't actually experience them if positioned in the wrong place (cf above for example).

Maybe a reason EQ'ing at 6kHz has no effect ?

Some nulls are indeed resistant to EQ (I'll leave it to the acousticians to explain why). Whether you're actually experiencing such null once it's on your head or not is something your measurement method above won't tell you. That said, have you used REW's trace arithmetic feature to evaluate the actual EQ effect ?

Since your main concern seems to be EQing your Sundara, in the absence of in-ear measurements, for a pair of headphones like them (ie generally fairly benign coupling issues), you're better off starting from ear simulator measurements and tweak to taste as @Robbo99999 suggested.

The binaural mics you have can provide very useful additional information regarding what is really happening on your own head with your own sample, and help going further with EQ (I'd argue it's actually mandatory if you want to EQ headphones to tighter tolerances than what ear simulator measurements can achieve), but you won' be able to directly compare the results in absolute terms with ear simulator measurements, you'll need to be careful up to which frequency the mics and method used can be trusted, and notions of target adherence are not straightforward (you can't used ones for measurements at the eardrum with anything but probe tube mics, and even then that is a highly theoretical idea).
 
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Music1969

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Since your main concern seems to be EQing your Sundara

Thanks for your detailed reply. I agree with everything.

Just a note that I don't have any concerns to EQ my Sundara.

It's just a fun exercise to see if I can develop my own system to EQ any headphones I want.

I do this with speakers and advanced digital room correction with Earthworks mic (Acourate DSP software).

My measurement shows group delay issue at 5.7 kHz and you see this in everyone's measurement.

But my main point is none of them show you the measurement with EQ in place - something I can do.

Amir doesn't measure with his EQ in place. Oratory might but that's not what we see in his plots.

AutoEQ doesn't at all - it is all simulated results.

I really like my combination EQ I shared in post #637 (a combo of oratory and crinacle).

I'm curious if this measurement can become my new 'target' curve , can I make more headphones sound good / like this , if I EQ to this. Paying attention to group delay issues, to assist with areas not to EQ.

I'm only at Day 1 of my flat plate method LOL .

Just a fun exercise - nothing too serious here

But yes, like any measurement - garbage in = garbage out. There are definitely issues with my rig at Day 1 but it seems to pick up the broach/macro issues that show up in other measurements.

I'm not concerned about fine-detail EQ.

And any major bass issues will be obvious to me by ear with listening to music.
 

Music1969

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Next logical step in this fun learning is to stick with open back and get HD650 since there is so much data out there on these
 

JanesJr1

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Thanks for your detailed reply. I agree with everything.

Just a note that I don't have any concerns to EQ my Sundara.

It's just a fun exercise to see if I can develop my own system to EQ any headphones I want.

I do this with speakers and advanced digital room correction with Earthworks mic (Acourate DSP software).

My measurement shows group delay issue at 5.7 kHz and you see this in everyone's measurement.

But my main point is none of them show you the measurement with EQ in place - something I can do.

Amir doesn't measure with his EQ in place. Oratory might but that's not what we see in his plots.

AutoEQ doesn't at all - it is all simulated results.

I really like my combination EQ I shared in post #637 (a combo of oratory and crinacle).

I'm curious if this measurement can become my new 'target' curve , can I make more headphones sound good / like this , if I EQ to this. Paying attention to group delay issues, to assist with areas not to EQ.

I'm only at Day 1 of my flat plate method LOL .

Just a fun exercise - nothing too serious here

But yes, like any measurement - garbage in = garbage out. There are definitely issues with my rig at Day 1 but it seems to pick up the broach/macro issues that show up in other measurements.

I'm not concerned about fine-detail EQ.

And any major bass issues will be obvious to me by ear with listening to music.
And for me, your discussion has been helpful! I was in the process of EQing my new Sundara The treble has been a little iffy.

I'm also a little disappointed: I hoped the Sundara might have some specific advantages over my DCA Aeon Closed X and Aeon 2 Noire, even though it costs less than the other two. But once I trued everything up to a common SPL and Oratory EQ, they weren't so different from each other in the attributes I wanted to compare.

In particular, the Sundara is "punchy" (tech jargon used by reviewers uncertainly straddling objective and subjective), but no more punchy than the DCA phones with a good seal, not at all. (Sorry, Resolve-lovers. I often like him, too.) (And no, I couldn't measure "slam" (ibid "punchy") better than anyone else. But I can watch an SPL meter bounce, and know it when i hear it. ;))

But in an absolute sense, the Sundara does sound great for the price, which seems to have recently ticked down to $300 from $349.
 
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Music1969

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And for me, your discussion has been helpful! I was in the process of EQing my new Sundara The treble has been a little iffy.

I'm also a little disappointed: I hoped the Sundara might have some specific advantages over my DCA Aeon Closed X and Aeon 2 Noire, even though it costs less than the other two. But once I trued everything up to a common SPL and Oratory EQ, they weren't so different from each other in the attributes I wanted to compare.

In particular, the Sundara is "punchy" (tech jargon used by reviewers uncertainly straddling objective and subjective), but no more punchy than the DCA phones with a good seal, not at all. (Sorry, Resolve-lovers. I often like him, too.) (And no, I couldn't measure "slam" (ibid "punchy") better than anyone else. But I can watch an SPL meter bounce, and know it when i hear it. ;))

But in an absolute sense, the Sundara does sound great for the price, which seems to have recently ticked down to $300 from $349.

Interestingly Amir, Crinacle and oratory all have 'state of the art' GRAS measurement rigs.

But if you follow their EQ to Harman Target (Crinacle using AutoEQ) - all 3 sound different even though they are attempting to EQ to same target !

And this is open backed, where seal is less issue than closed back.
 

JanesJr1

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Interestingly Amir, Crinacle and oratory all have 'state of the art' GRAS measurement rigs.

But if you follow their EQ to Harman Target (Crinacle using AutoEQ) - all 3 sound different even though they are attempting to EQ to same target !

And this is open backed, where seal is less issue than closed back.
Truth be told, even though I tried to equalize them to Oratory, there was still a difference in the lower-bass tonality for the Sundara, but it was easy to tweak the Noire a little to match it. Even though all three phones can go down to the sub-bass, there's some difference in the gradations of tonality up and down the scale. They came closer together than I imagined they could, especially open vs closed.

I was also having a little trouble exactly getting the Sundara to taste up in the treble (not for the EQ-match). Seeing the variable results with the experts, it just confirms the common advice to EQ the upper registers by ear, which I will squeeze in today. But the discussion and variable measurements tell me some likely things to try when I do. ASR's volunteer testers really go to the mats, and thank you very much!
 

GaryH

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Noted I've been using oratory and crinacle, that's why I compared in my measurement.

Interesting, with my 'flat plate method' if I EQ'ed the orange curve (no DSP) to lift bass and boost the 1-4kHz region, that would actually align with oratory and crinacle measurements well (the biggest issues anyway - not the micro details)

The dip at 6kHz shows in everyone's measurement but I don't see them actually applying their EQ and showing the 'after' measurement with EQ in place.

I think oratory just shows you the expected FR after EQ ?

crinacle also doesn't show any measurements with EQ applied ?

AutoEQ doesn't measure anything at all. All just simulated .

I wonder if they would still have the ~5.7 kHz dip - group delay is very messy at ~5.7 kHz in my measurement.

Maybe a reason EQ'ing at ~5.7 kHz has no effect in my measurement ?

View attachment 239287

View attachment 239286

index.php

You don't see a change in the 5.7 kHz dip with Oratory's EQ because he doesn't really attempt to EQ up that dip (probably because it's non-minimum phase, which he checks for):

Screenshot_20221025_150927.png
 

Music1969

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You don't see a change in the 5.7 kHz dip with Oratory's EQ because he doesn't really attempt to EQ up that dip (probably because it's non-minimum phase, which he checks for):
Yep I saw the same in my basic measurement too

Still would be great to see their actual measurement after EQ is applied - comparing expected vs actual.

It might show some interesting results like I've seen
 

GaryH

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Yep I saw the same in my basic measurement too

Still would be great to see their actual measurement after EQ is applied - comparing expected vs actual.

It might show some interesting results like I've seen
But as Oratory doesn't EQ non-minimum phase parts of the frequency response, what you see is what you get with the difference between his pre-EQ and calculated post-EQ graphs.
 
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gvl

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Picked the Sundara from a member here. Fun cans. My HD6XXs will not be getting love any time soon.
 

solderdude

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But as Oratory doesn't EQ non-minimum phase parts of the frequency response, what you see is what you get with the difference between his pre-EQ and calculated post-EQ graphs.
But only on that particular testfixture under the exact same conditions as that of the measurement and assuming product variance and seal is the same.
 

MayaTlab

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But only on that particular testfixture under the exact same conditions as that of the measurement and assuming product variance and seal is the same.

I've occasionally measured before / after EQ for Oratory's profiles. In general it follows what the EQ is supposed to do quite well.
Screenshot 2022-10-28 at 09.14.17.png

I'd be quite worried if his EQ for the Airpods Max, for example, had tried to correct some of its high-Q features past 5kHz or so, as I do get unEQable nulls in different places, but that has been wisely avoided :D.
 

solderdude

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Yes, applied EQ will very closely do what it is designed to do.

The biggest question is what that EQ is based on. A measurement fixture and who uses it, what target is used and how fit, positioning, seal, conformance of ones hearing to a specific fixture as well as product variations and pad condition all are variables.
A measurement followed by another measurement with EQ will indeed have a highly predictable result.

The real question is how accurate that specific measurement translates to real world heaphone copy on ones head.
 

GaryH

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But only on that particular testfixture under the exact same conditions as that of the measurement and assuming product variance and seal is the same.
But as Oratory doesn't EQ non-minimum phase parts of the frequency response, what you see is what you get with the difference between his pre-EQ and calculated post-EQ graphs.
 

Music1969

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@GaryH : "what you see is what you get with the difference between his pre-EQ and calculated post-EQ graphs."

As english is not my first language - can you write this in a simpler way?

it is a bit difficult to understand
 

Robbo99999

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@GaryH : "what you see is what you get with the difference between his pre-EQ and calculated post-EQ graphs."

As english is not my first language - can you write this in a simpler way?

it is a bit difficult to understand
I think he's saying that any EQ changes you make that are Oratory EQ Decisions - ie using his EQ's, then the EQ will affect the frequency response that you receive at your eardrum in the same proportions (if you were to be able to measure at your eardrum). MayaTlab's response to you is showing you the same thing, that the EQ was having the same predictable effect when he measured stock & EQ'd headphones on his head using a blocked ear canal mic. Basically, I wouldn't worry about the fact that Oratory only shows the "Predicted Effect of the EQ" as that would equal the "Measured Effect of the EQ" if he were to remeasure the headphones on his rig - allowing for tolerances of measurement error of course. EDIT: I have a miniDSP EARS measurement rig, and for one of my headphones I remeasured it after EQ some weeks after the initial measurements & EQ and it still followed the same predicted effect. See following pic, you can see it's smoothly following the Harman Curve - ok I didn't overlay the Harman Curve because that wasn't the purpose of the measurement at the time, but you can see it's a smooth response and the EQ is doing what it should to remove dips & peaks:
typical listening level.jpg
 
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Fred Waites

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Just picked up a pair, after reading this review and thread couldn't resist @$AUD420. Early days(hours) but loving the sound (with 'Hifiman Sundara APO EQ Score [email protected] 96000H' eq profile - thanks Maiky76!)

What I will say is that I have a very big head and these are some of the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn. Great for a big noggin' even with thick armed glasses.
 
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