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"Listening to headphones over YouTube...? Hahaha!"

thewas

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#21
I was surprised and disappointed at the Fb post. Unnecessarily aggressive , very odd approach and this is from someone who has enormous respect for Sean Olive's work.Criticism should be constructive and controlled.
I see it similarly and was actually disappointed by the reactions and statements of all 3 involved ones, Sean, Brent and Oluv, not very professional and matching their highly respected work.
 
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Sean Olive

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#22
As said a lot of great work but still (like everything) with some points of limitation which shouldn't be ignored either:
Few third party musics tracks which in the end also continue audio's circle of confusion.
Fixed "arbitrary" shelving points and Q for the bass and treble.
Different listening levels without loudness compensation so possibly the bass boost was (ab-)used for that.
The big 200+ listener test done with one type of headphone which like any headphone due to its geometry radiates to the ear TFs in a specific way.

Again, as already said, this is enough to differentiate between good, mediocre or bad but at close ratings get to its limits.

The shelving points for the bass filter were not "arbitrary", and we did investigate loudness compensation effects on preferred bass.
Of course, in all the MUSHRA-style listening tests where different simulated headphones were compared, the relative loudness differences among the headphones were measured and controlled.

In this study https://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=18369 we had listeners adjust the bass shelving frequency over a wide range and they adjusted the bass level with and without loudness compensation and leakage control. In the end, the loudness compensation has little effect on which gain or shelving frequency they choose.

The "big" 200+ listener test we used a very open back headphone that minimized any fit/leakage and acoustic impedance issues among subjects. What this means is that we tried to deliver the same sounds to every listener as those measured in the GRAS 45 CA so that we can begin to look at correlations between perception and measurement.

You are inferring that the results of that study cannot be generalized to other headphone types, which I don't quite understand. If a headphone had a different geometry that produced a different response it would have be captured in the GRAS 45 CA measurements used to generate the headphone simulations.

But any study has its limitations: only so many variables can be controlled and tested at once. We carefully tested and selected the ones we thought would have the most impact on headphone sound quality.
 
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thewas

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#23
The shelving points for the bass filter were not "arbitrary"
Thats why I had put "arbitrary" in quotation mark, still their fixed choice, especially combining them with an imho flawed base curve, namely a loudspeaker EQed to measure flat at the listeners position and not with flat direct sound, limits the possible choices of preferred targets. Also the explanation of high shelving filter in the AES paper wasn't really matching the reality.

and we did investigate loudness compensation effects on preferred bass.
Of course, in all the MUSHRA-style listening tests where different simulated headphones were compared, the relative loudness differences among the headphones were measured and controlled.
How exactly was the loudness difference compensated?

You are inferring that the results of that study cannot be generalized to other headphone types, which I don't quite understand. If a headphone had a different geometry that produced a different response it would have be captured in the GRAS 45 CA measurements used to generate the headphone simulations.
If you measure 2 different headphones at 2 different measurements rigs or ears the FR differences between the 2 headphones will be different at each rig or ear due to for exampel different position of the driver. Same with humans who don't have the same ear geometry like the used GRAS, they will perceive the tonality different and possibly one more neutral which measured less flat on it.

But any study has its limitations: only so many variables can be controlled and tested at once. We carefully tested and selected the ones we thought would have the most impact on headphone sound quality.
Which I never doubted, in contrary I underlined its importance, but on the other hand showed also its limitations and hope more studies in that direction will be performed in the future.
 

Sean Olive

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#24
Thats why I had put "arbitrary" in quotation mark, still their fixed choice, especially combining them with an imho flawed base curve, namely a loudspeaker EQed to measure flat at the listeners position and not with flat direct sound, limits the possible choices of preferred targets. Also the explanation of high shelving filter in the AES paper wasn't really matching the reality.


How exactly was the loudness difference compensated?


If you measure 2 different headphones at 2 different measurements rigs or ears the FR differences between the 2 headphones will be different at each rig or ear due to for exampel different position of the driver. Same with humans who don't have the same ear geometry like the used GRAS, they will perceive the tonality different and possibly one more neutral which measured less flat on it.


Which I never doubted, in contrary I underlined its importance, but on the other hand showed also its limitations and hope more studies in that direction will be performed in the future.
1. Explain to me how a Revel or M2 speaker measured at the listening location limits the possible choice of preferred targets whether it is equalized flat or not. What listeners ultimately preferred was a headphone that closely matched loudspeaker's in-response (without HF EQ to flat) with some extra bass below 100 Hz. Both speakers have very flat direct sound and not atypical directivities of speakers used to make recordings in studios.

2. So why use the word "arbitrary" when I have explained that in the case of bass filters it wasn't arbitrary, ie we actually tested the most important parameters: frequency and gain.

3. Loudness matching was done measuring programs and pink noise with an ITU-R 1770 loudness model.

3. Yes, I'm aware that measuring headphones on different pinnae (humans or test rigs) will produce different results above 1-2 kHz. We have most of them (GRAS, KEMAR, B&K 5128 and earlier versions). I have no doubt that personalized EQ based on individualized measurements will produce even better results. That is likely where headphones will go next.

The point is that in spite of these individual differences and limitations that you refer to 64% of listeners tested preferred this Target over 30 other choices or targets. The other two smaller listener segments liked the Target with more or less bass or treble. We will see how much better headphones can be improved when they are personalized to listeners' taste, unique ear canal acoustic properties, ear drum impedance (which changes over the course of the day), and hearing impairment.

4. We are not claiming the Target will satisfy all listeners, and that something better might be proposed. In the meantime, it is a well-tested reference that has been more thoroughly tested and validated against DF and FF targets, derivations, and many popular headphones, than any previous proposed targets.

5. I also hope more studies are done. We published this research in the hope that it would stimulate further discussion, raise the bar and awareness, and encourage others to do more research. It seems to be working.
 

Blank Verse

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#25
...Is the title of the video Oluv just posted in response to @Sean Olive.


I don't know what to think at this point, since I didn't watch the 30 minutes yet.

Anyway, I see no reason to go after Oluv, who is among the rare objectivists on YT and provides some good work considering his modest means.
Love Oluv's work, very scientific and perhaps the most useful channel regarding headphones in Youtube. If only he actually used good music cuts in his videos. I don't know, maybe some chamber music, orchestral, good vocals, and stuff like that.
 

thewas

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#26
1. Explain to me how a Revel or M2 speaker measured at the listening location limits the possible choice of preferred targets whether it is equalized flat or not. What listeners ultimately preferred was a headphone that closely matched loudspeaker's in-response (without HF EQ to flat) with some extra bass below 100 Hz. Both speakers have very flat direct sound and not atypical directivities of speakers used to make recordings in studios.
I never said that the Revel was the limitation but first deforming its neutral direct sound by EQing to a flat LP FR and second using just 2 fixed shelving filters which cannot possibly fully correct or map any possible desired target.

2. So why use the word "arbitrary" when I have explained that in the case of bass filters it wasn't arbitrary, ie we actually tested the most important parameters: frequency and gain.
Because as said for example you argue in the AES paper that the treble filter

The treble filter frequency of 2.5 kHz was chosen because this is a common midrange-tweeter crossover frequency where the directivity of the loudspeaker begins to increase, and the in-room response of the loudspeaker begins to fall downwards (see Fig. 2).

but the way it implemented it starts acting already at 400-500 Hz which is quite earlier than the argued directivity increase and even if it wouldn't be its still just one approach/assumption for the treble filter, who knows, for example in a future study with different characteristics or even a 3rd mid adjustment maybe even higher preference might be achieved.

3. Loudness matching was done measuring programs and pink noise with an ITU-R 1770 loudness model.
Thank you, although I meant this part from your AES paper:

No attempt was made in this study to compensate for loudness changes that occurred from adjustments in levels of bass and treble. Whether this played a role in explaining why the untrained listeners’ preferred more bass and treble is not known, and deserves further investigation.

3. Yes, I'm aware that measuring headphones on different pinnae (humans or test rigs) will produce different results above 1-2 kHz. We have most of them (GRAS, KEMAR, B&K 5128 and earlier versions). I have no doubt that personalized EQ based on individualized measurements will produce even better results. That is likely where headphones will go next.
Excellent, looking forward to it. :)

The point is that in spite of these individual differences and limitations that you refer to 64% of listeners tested preferred this Target over 30 other choices or targets.
Two thirds of course shows a significant average direction which noone questioned but on the other side isn't of course enough to talk about an absolute target (we saw also that it was revised already a couple of times), even more considering the above mentioned limitations.

4. We are not claiming the Target will satisfy all listeners, and that something better might be proposed. In the meantime, it is a well-tested reference that has been more thoroughly tested and validated against DF and FF targets, derivations, and many popular headphones, than any previous proposed targets.

5. I also hope more studies are done. We published this research in the hope that it would stimulate further discussion, raise the bar and awareness, and encourage others to do more research. It seems to be working.
Full agreement there too, as I had written in the previous post, it was great work and the best thing that happened to the headphone world. :cool:
 

JohnYang1997

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#27
I never said that the Revel was the limitation but first deforming its neutral direct sound by EQing to a flat LP FR and second using just 2 fixed shelving filters which cannot possibly fully correct or map any possible desired target.


Because as said for example you argue in the AES paper that the treble filter

The treble filter frequency of 2.5 kHz was chosen because this is a common midrange-tweeter crossover frequency where the directivity of the loudspeaker begins to increase, and the in-room response of the loudspeaker begins to fall downwards (see Fig. 2).

but the way it implemented it starts acting already at 400-500 Hz which is quite earlier than the argued directivity increase and even if it wouldn't be its still just one approach/assumption for the treble filter, who knows, for example in a future study with different characteristics or even a 3rd mid adjustment maybe even higher preference might be achieved.


Thank you, although I meant this part from your AES paper:

No attempt was made in this study to compensate for loudness changes that occurred from adjustments in levels of bass and treble. Whether this played a role in explaining why the untrained listeners’ preferred more bass and treble is not known, and deserves further investigation.


Excellent, looking forward to it. :)


Two thirds of course shows a significant average direction which noone questioned but on the other side isn't of course enough to talk about an absolute target (we saw also that it was revised already a couple of times), even more considering the above mentioned limitations.


Full agreement there too, as I had written in the previous post, it was great work and the best thing that happened to the headphone world. :cool:
I agree with you.
I don't see the cause of increasingly downward slope after 10khz. I was not able to reproduce that and raw measurements were not shown in the papers.
Bass shelving point and amplitude has huge impact in predicted score. Also in the sound too. I just don't see it being possible to generalize in that region. Why not just leave it flat and let people choose their own medicine.
64% against obviously hugely flawed target curve is not very convincing. In all these years there was no other target compared when etymotic target, goldenears' target, rtings' target have all been existing for the longest time. So this either means there's potential target that can reach 90% preference or human hearing preference cannot be generalized.
 

markanini

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#28
When he says he doesn't like Harman Target, what he really means is that he doesn't like the bass boost and the roll off highs over 10KHz.
I'm sad to say Oluv didn't do his research on this one. And he's falling into a irrational fear common among audiophiles that renders those affected to be unable to evaluate a headphone without bias when they detect any semblance of bass.

The fact is there's no reason for it, bass levels should be EQ'd to your personal preference anyway, and subtracting frequencies is much easier than raising them. Going as far as dismissing a headphone like AKG K371 with excellent midrange performance and a cleanly extended low end is silly.

I still follow his reviews. At least he's doesn't shower every product with undeserved praise like most reviewers do. (You gotta suck up to companies for them to keep sending out their latest flagships)

BTW the Harman target doesn't consider frequencies above 10kHz.
 
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#29
The point is that in spite of these individual differences and limitations that you refer to 64% of listeners tested preferred this Target over 30 other choices or targets. The other two smaller listener segments liked the Target with more or less bass or treble.
Just out of curiosity: Did you have any people in your studies that didn't like it at all and did you ever find out why?
 

JohnYang1997

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#30
I'm sad to say Oluv didn't do his research on this one. And he's falling into a irrational fear common among audiophiles that renders those affected to be unable to evaluate a headphone without bias when they detect any semblance of bass.

The fact is there's no reason for it, bass levels should be EQ'd to your personal preference anyway, and subtracting frequencies is much easier than raising them. Going as far as of dismissing a headphone like AKG K371 with excellent midrange performance and a cleanly extended low end is silly.

I still follow his reviews. At least he's doesn't shower every product with undeserved praise like most reviewers do. (You gotta suck up to companies for them to keep sending out their latest flagships)

BTW the Harman target doesn't consider frequencies above 10kHz.
He preferred K361 over K371 if it says anything.
He is just very critical about the products unlike many other reviewers who just gloss over every critical points. Actually I agree with him most of the time. I just can't listen to majority of poorly designed shit in the market. Sometimes, or maybe you can call it overly critical or he doesn't convey what he actually feels very well. He likes the original Mh1 which has a lot of bass. Why is that it's because all the other frequencies especially highs are very smooth.
10k - 14k is very important. A flat no peak no dip response in that range will probably the most important thing for the headphones that already got pretty high accuracy. And that's why most of the time headphones are better.
The issue is that some of us are chasing for the last 5% where the whole market is still below acceptable. The discrepancy makes criticism difficult. Because we see from different standpoint.
 
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#31
Sorry if chime in here as well, but I think there was some big misunderstanding with this dispute since the very beginning which needs to be sorted out. Of course I am honored being quoted by someone like Mr. Olive but how this happened and the kind of tone and disregard simply made me mad and I had to respond with that video which was not flattering either.

But as Mr. Olive stated, I am just a "Youtube reviewer" I am not a scientist and do not have the research background, although I know most publications and papers by Mr. Toole, Olive, and also the research that has been done by Hammershoi & Moller and while I didn't study them all in detail I rather picked out those that could be relevant for my work and as a reviewer I always felt obliged to verify and prove my claims in a way which would demonstrate what I am actually hearing and how I perceive the given product.
Most reviewers claim their stuff, put it into some great sounding texts with professional looking videos which can quickly fool you and make you buy the product as they seem to have a clue about what they are talking about.
I did lots of purchases based on others' user reviews but also done by "professional" reviewers from rennowned audio magazines which turned out to be utter crap. Products recommended by so many, hyped here and there were just unsuable to me. I started to question the whole "review-industry" which in realtiy is a bunch of sponsored gangs to promote products and get lots of sales to generate some phat affilate income in return. I got similar offers from companies offering me thousands of dollars if I could mange to sell several hundred units of a particular product, which I simply couldn't promote at all as they were all pieces of junk while being "recommended by grammy award winning artists and musicans", at least that was the advertising slogan. I really wonder how those grammy winning artitst could even give their name to be linked to that crap.
The community laughed about me being the only one who always had to criticise everything, but to be honest, from 20 audio products I tried, I could maybe recommend just 1 or 2.
Also a big thanks to John Yang who got me into IEMs again as I simply lost all interest in these with all of them sounding so off and far from any natural target, that I didn't even want to purchase any of those recommended to me by my Youtube subscribers. But John at least showed me some cheap ones, hidden gems which proved that there is decent stuff out there, just unkonwn, not popular at all...
That's why I started all this to debunk all that crap out there and started to invest my energy into creating sound recordings which would represent the reality in some way, the reality how I hear it, so that I can finally prove why I judge a given product negatively or positively instead of talking just bullshit.
Also a big thanks to Mad Economist who built my current in-ear microphones and helped me a lot with different kinds of problems.

It was definitely a mistake to pull out the MiniDSP again for my Sundara video, but I still had recordings from the first version with the old pads and wanted to put both side by side with a relative comparison and record the new again the same way like I did back then. The compensation I used is based on 2 years ago and was done solely by ear. I was listening to the actual headphone and adjusted the recording to get as close as possible. Then I put on another headphone and did further tweaking to bring it even closer. The truth it, that it was impossible as the consistency was simply lacking. I could equalize a given recording to sound nearly the same as the real thing, but the next headphone recording would sound off again. Still I think I was able to capture the "general characteristics" of a headphone. And if a headphone sounded natural it was captured much more realistic than a headphone too far off from a natural traget.
As I am not sponsored by any companies and am not getting any revenue from sales I need to rely on my Patrons who support me financially therefore I put way more effort and dedication into my recordings and sound samples published solely for my Patrons.
But I would like to post an excerpt of a long video I did about the Sundara which was more a kind of "listening session", as I applied the self referencing method for this video with my in-ear mics using the HD600+Sonarworks as reference headphone, the samples should sound pretty realistic to anyone listening over exactly the same headphone, and you should get an idea how I perceived the Sundara 2020. But regardless which headphone I use for listening to this demo, I can hear the strange coloration of the Sundara.

Maybe this should be investigated more, but I think it's clearly hearable from this recording that the Sundara (or maybe just the unit I tried) has this kind of ugly harshness which I personally cannot stand, let alone for a headphone costing 400€ here in Europe. Maybe it's my ears I am not sure. But as Mr. Olive already stated my reference headphone which indeed is the HD600 should be close to the Harman target according to him (not taking the bass part into account now) and in fact the HD600 sounds "normal" to me, also the Focal Elex sounds "normal", the Sundara didn't, thus 2 headphones following the target sound completely different to me. Something fishy must be going on here. Maybe I got a dud, but I ordered it directly from the Hifiman online store, so I assume the prodcuts they are selling there should be somehow legit. But if I regard a HD600 as normal sounding, I cannot regard the Sundara as "normal" sounding, as it sounded way off and I think you can clearly hear from the video what I am talking about here.
As I had bought the Sundara with my own money also based on all the promising measurements published so far, I cannot simply ask for other units to check consistency, sample variation etc, the companies do not take me seriously to begin with, but I cannot take them seriously either with that kind of sound. Maybe it's really just my ears which differ too much from the average ear simulator, but so far all products I recommended got pretty positive acclaim from my viewers and Patrons who somehow seem to trust my judgement, therefore I cannot be that far off. On the other hand most headphones or IEMs tuned strictly towards the Harman target sound too harsh for me especially in the presence region. The overall tonal balance is OK, but I hear some resonance around 5-6khz with most these products. I tried some EQs from Oratory1990 which should bring any given headphone close to the Harman target, but the sound becomes too resonant for me in most cases, especially with the HD600 which I prefer way more "naked" or with the Sonarworks profile.

Regarding the music samples played: I try using music which can somehow reveal the finest differences between headphones. Solo vocals, chamber music etc can't, as the bandwidth is way too limited especially on vocals, which has hardly any content above 5khz. I once made a video about that topic also demonstrating the issue with some sound samples:

With solo vocal or orchestral music most headphones will sound just fine, as the frequency responses are quite consistent up to 2-3khz with most of them, just that nearly all planar magnetic ones I tried have that dip around 2khz, this together with a raise above makes them also sound a bit sub-par. But were the issues really start are above that. The area of 5-12khz is heavily smoothened on the Harman target, but this is were most the peaks of the human ear come into account. I assume that if a peak of my own ear comes together with a peak of a headphone it starts to sound really off. Also here should be way more research done, the overall curve is too generic and smoothened way too much. I am currently tuning my own inear and I had to do this by ear, because the IEC711 ear simulator just didn't show what I was actually hearing, either there were peaks which I didn't hear, or the peaks were shifted to some other frequency which I couldn't quite reproduce with my own ears, regardless how shallow or deep I tried to insert the IEM. I simply started reducing all peaks I could hear regardless of the resulting graph from my couplers. Funnily the end result sound quite similar to the Etymotic ER2SE, of course not as smooth overall and with slightly more bass, but the overall tone is not far off. While IEMs strictly tuned towards the Harman curve like Moondrop Blessing 2, Tanchjim Oxygen etc do not sound correct to me.

I am open for any suggestion, but right now I cannot quite trust those artificial ears that much. The results are differing way too much from what I actually am hearing.

I hope we could bury the hatchet here and hope we can continue discussing in a more human manner.

Cheers, O.
 
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markanini

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#32
10k - 14k is very important.
Is it important for you? It looks questionable If you want evaluate that range by graphs, GRAS themselves don't guaranty accuracy above 10kHz. Besides that you don't want a straight line across that range:
https://www.reddit.com/r/oratory1990/wiki/index/faq#wiki_why_do_you_never_use_eq_to_remove_that_drop_at_around_9-10_khz_on_over-ear_headphones.3F said:
That drop is caused by the shape of the pinna, it depends strongly on how your exact ear is shaped. It’s also very important for localization.
On well designed headphones this drop is always present - and it definitely is present when listening to regular loudspeakers (because it’s created by your ears).
This means that when a headphone exhibits a peak in that area (it’s often enough just to not exhibit a drop) is very often perceived as „hissy“, „sharp“ or „zingy“. Remember the Sony Z1R controversy?
It's probably not be wise to argue on Oluvs behalf with arguments that are frankly quite poor.
 

JohnYang1997

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#33
Is it important for you? It looks questionable If you want evaluate that range by graphs, GRAS themselves don't guaranty accuracy above 10kHz. Besides that you don't want a straight line across that range:


It's probably not be wise to argue on Oluvs behalf with arguments that are frankly quite poor.
That's why I don't just read measurements. But if some uses target curve to eq and got bad results this is a big part of it.
It's a complicated issue too. I also scream about the new hires heads being bad. But that's part of the reality.

You can listen to manual sine sweep and compare to speakers. Etymotic er4s achieved very smooth response from 8khz to 15khz nearly 30 years ago.
 

Koeitje

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#34
Agree, there is nothing wrong making recordings or measurements of headphones with ir-ear microphones as you say "For your own use".
But generalizing your impressions from personalized recordings to a larger audience is problematic.

The Harman Target Curve was based on controlled listening tests with 200+ listeners, and we found 64% people preferred it and the other two smaller segments still liked it but with more or less bass and treble.

When a reviewer says he "hates the target" it suggests hi/her taste is not very representative of most listeners. In the case of this reviewer. his preferred headphone I am told is a Senn HD600 which closely matches the target albeit with less bass.
With regards to those preferring a little more or less bass and treble, is that always a smooth adjustment or are there those who prefer a more irregular change? What I mean with last thing is something like a 1dB boost at 10kHz, a 3dB boost at 11kHz then 1dB at 12kHz etc. Is this the same for headphones and loudspeakers?
 

markanini

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#35
That's why I don't just read measurements. But if some uses target curve to eq and got bad results this is a big part of it.
It's a complicated issue too. I also scream about the new hires heads being bad. But that's part of the reality.

You can listen to manual sine sweep and compare to speakers. Etymotic er4s achieved very smooth response from 8khz to 15khz nearly 30 years ago.
ER4S aren't that well regarded outside of a tiny segment of die-hards. To me their response was telephonic so I sold them. Maybe because I don't listen to 8khz to 15khz sine tones...My $10 Sony MH750 sound far closer to speakers when listening to music.
 

JohnYang1997

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#36
ER4S aren't that well regarded outside of a tiny segment of die-hards. To me their response was telephonic so I sold them. Maybe because I don't listen to 8khz to 15khz sine tones...My $10 Sony MH750 sound far closer to speakers when listening to music.
You didn't insert it properly. That's why.
 

markanini

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#37
You didn't insert it properly. That's why.
False. I have photos posted on a different forum that shows they were inserted properly, reaching the second bend. I know you are a MH1 fan so chances are you have MH750 on hand. Instead of sine waves try sweeping bandpassed noise and see for your self which IEM is closer to a speakers response. That will be far more productive than arguing in front of a screen.
 

JohnYang1997

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#39
False. I have photos posted on a different forum that shows they were inserted properly, reaching the second bend. I know you are a MH1 fan so chances are you have MH750 on hand. Instead of sine waves try sweeping bandpassed noise and see for your self which IEM is closer to a speakers response. That will be far more productive than arguing in front of a screen.
Of course I have done stuff like that. 750 is far and away from it. Canal peak at 7khz and huge bass boost...
er4s is very close to real speakers.
 
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