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Moondrop Blessing 2 Review (IEM)

Rate this IEM:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 2 1.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 12 6.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 89 48.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 82 44.3%

  • Total voters
    185

Jimbob54

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Oh, my bad. It seems like he acknowledges dynamics/distortion are important and not entirely dependent on tonality?
I must confess I dont understand the "dynamics/ distortion" split used there- especially the dynamics part. And yes, if you know the tonality/ FR at SPL X dB but it gets increasingly noticeable distortion above that it will affect the tonality accordingly.
 

Geathchi

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I must confess I dont understand the "dynamics/ distortion" split used there- especially the dynamics part. And yes, if you know the tonality/ FR at SPL X dB but it gets increasingly noticeable distortion above that it will affect the tonality accordingly.
Distortion and dynamics are related, but not the same thing. Distortion is a side-effect of imperfect dynamic reproduction.

Using distortion to measure overall dynamic ability is kind of like using exhaust fumes to judge how well an engine runs.

Edit: Does he talk about his views on #3 spatialization anywhere else? It'd be interesting to read how someone like him conceptualizes audio.
 

Robbo99999

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Yes, this is exactly why it should be obvious that headphones sound different partly due to how they handle variations in loudness over time. No headphone is capable of reproducing audio perfectly. Headphones will reproduce audio with imperfect tonality (partly due to the changes at the eardrum you keep mentioning). It stands to reason that headphones will also reproduce dynamics (variations in loudness over time) imperfectly, in large part due to drivers having different physical mechanisms for producing sound which have levels of responsiveness that vary with frequency, as seen in those graphs for the RS1x.

I've also been slightly disappointed at the level of discussion. People seem to think either dynamics aren't real or don't make a difference. The entire point of mastering audio recordings is to refine dynamics. You can't deny the importance of dynamics without denying the importance of mastering.
This might be my last reply, I'll try to sum it up. All you perceive in terms of headphone sound or any other sound is the frequency response at your eardrum. This is affected by the measured frequency response of the headphone (on a dummy head, lets say GRAS), it's measured distortion/compression, and "headphone transfer function" (we'll call it) when you wear the headphone on your own head (which is how your own ear & head anatomy influence the headphones transmitted frequency response when measured at your own eardrum vs that of the dummy head). Your "micro & macro dynamics" that you mention, is literally just a semantic label you've put on an element of what you yourself experience when you listen to headphones, but whatever that is....it's explainable by the frequency response that is being received at your eardrum which is a result of all the stuff I underlined in this paragraph.

The other stuff you have to be mindful of when comparing frequency responses you find on the internet (Amir/Oratory/Resolve/Crincacle/etc) of headphones/IEM's, is what I mentioned in an earlier post to you. Namely the following:
  • Unit to unit variation (ie manufacturing variance) - can significantly affect frequency response, and sometimes distortion, all depending on whether the headphone you're measuring has low or high unit to unit variation. Some manufacturers are better than others at this, Sennheiser do very well in this in my experience - low unit to unit variation.
  • Headphone Pad Wear - affects frequency response. Are your headphone pads worn, were the pads worn when the person measured them.
  • Measurement Procedure/Protocol: for best comparative accuracy when comparing frequency responses between 2 headphones, then this has to be the same. So hopefully you'd be comparing measurements from the same person, as each measurer will have their own way of placing the headphones, measuring them & deriving a "publishable" frequency response that represents their many individual measurements.
So given all these variables I've mentioned in the prior paragraphs you can see there can be some significant differences between a published measurement you find on the internet for your model of headphone vs what you are actually experiencing with the individual unit you are listening to. So I think you can't be coming up with theories about "micro & macro dynamics" (which you mentioned & which I think is largely a made up/irrelevant term)....you can't be coming up with theories about "micro & macro dynamics" based on your own experience listening to headphones vs the published measurements you find on the internet....you can't be using that information to try to say well the frequency response is near-as-damn-it the same between these two models of headphone yet they sound different to me so therefore it's not the frequency response it's something else called micro & macro dynamics that explains the differences (or whatever theory you have concocted as to why two headphones sound different to you). In fact the reason you hear differences between headphones has been explained in this post - ultimately it's the frequency response you receive at your eardrum which is influenced by all the variables discussed in this post.

What a person can do though (in terms of language & understanding frequency response), is they can relate roughly what certain parts of the measured frequency response of a headphone can contribute to in terms of subjective experience and the often-used terms that describe changes to the frequency responses in those areas, the following graph for instance which comes from Solderdude's website:
descriptors2.png

I'm not sure that the graph above is a 100% sure thing, it's difficult to attribute words/phrases to what we hear, as a lot of it is semantics, but through my EQ experiments with various models of headphone I can say that I can relate to some of that graph. So it all comes down to frequency response, and you can put whatever words you want down to describe how your headphones sound, but hopefully whatever elements you decide to describe you've identified as being a property of a part of the frequency response. It's hard to do this as ideally you'd have your own measurement device to validate the frequency response of your own unit of headphone(s) to remove the element of Unit to Unit Variation & Pad Wear, and/or it would take a fair bit of EQ experimentation and related music listening to start to understand the ways in which certain parts of the frequency response influence the music elements that you hear. But it's all in the frequency response received at your eardrum.
 
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Garrincha

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No, you seem to confuse me with someone else, please look what I am saying and what not, I was talking of dynamics and transients in the sense of CSD, which is a real thing. Please get this right.
 

RHO

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Distortion and dynamics are related, but not the same thing. Distortion is a side-effect of imperfect dynamic reproduction.
I think I finally get what you are getting at. And I still have to answer the same. It would show up on the FR graph.
Say headphones #1 has the same FR as headphones #2 both @80dBSPL. Both have no compression issues.
Now lets assume #1 has more trouble with dynamics as you call it than #2 and shows compression when playing loud (lets say 100dBSPL). I think you described it as the peaks in the signal get topped off. (correct?)
When you measure them @100dBSPL they would not show the same FR anymore. #1 would show dips at the frequencies it has trouble with playing loud. And the THD on #1 would shout up at those frequencies. So these headphones would actually not measure the same.

Did I finally understand what you were asking about?
 

Jimbob54

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No, you seem to confuse me with someone else, please look what I am saying and what not, I was talking of dynamics and transients in the sense of CSD, which is a real thing. Please get this right.
If you used the reply function, there may not be such confusion.
 

Geathchi

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This might be my last reply, I'll try to sum it up. All you perceive in terms of headphone sound or any other sound is the frequency response at your eardrum.
I genuinely appreciate the reply, I'll try to keep this concise but I believe we misunderstand each other somewhat. I'm aware of how tonality can affect your perception of certain dynamic qualities in music. I'm also well aware that factors like unit-to-unit variation, pad and tip size/wear, and person-to-person differences in how headphones sound to our eardrums can affect our perception of music. I say this as someone who spends an embarrassing amount of time tip-rolling my IEMs and someone who spent an even more embarrassing amount of time manipulating and mixing sounds in various DAWs. Because of your comments, I'm also now aware that FR graphs on the internet are imperfect, especially when applied to our personal perceptions of these headphones.

But your second sentence is incorrect. We perceive sounds as frequency responses at our ear drum that change over a period of time. Sound is objectively a 3D experience:

1st dimension - Frequencies
2nd dimension - Loudness (When you plot Frequency and Loudness, you get FR)
3rd dimension - Time

This is why I say any sound can be reproduced by playing the right frequencies at the right loudness levels at the right times.

What I'm referring to as dynamics is Loudness x Time.

If you've spent your time as an audio enthusiast relying solely FR to conceptualize sound, I can understand how this seems like bullcrap, but bear with me: there is no way to EQ a sound to make it identical to a louder sound. There is no way to adjust the dynamics (loudness over a period of time) of a sound to make it identical to an EQ'd sound. Test this for yourself:

Apply a very rudimentary dynamic effect to a piece of music by manually adjusting volume level during playback. Just spike the volume knob for a split second and take note of how it affects your music.

Try to EQ your music to produce the same effect. You can even adjust gain. You will find this is impossible.

This sounds really stupid and obvious, but this is dynamics at its simplest. During music playback, different headphones will handle spikes in loudness (the ones recorded into the song) differently. There are also differences in how accurately and distinctly headphones will handle small changes in loudness as well, resulting in audible differences in qualities like texture, soundstage depth, and impact.
 

Geathchi

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I think I finally get what you are getting at. And I still have to answer the same. It would show up on the FR graph.
Say headphones #1 has the same FR as headphones #2 both @80dBSPL. Both have no compression issues.
Now lets assume #1 has more trouble with dynamics as you call it than #2 and shows compression when playing loud (lets say 100dBSPL). I think you described it as the peaks in the signal get topped off. (correct?)
When you measure them @100dBSPL they would not show the same FR anymore. #1 would show dips at the frequencies it has trouble with playing loud. And the THD on #1 would shout up at those frequencies. So these headphones would actually not measure the same.

Did I finally understand what you were asking about?
I think you're getting close.

You're talking about distortion in headphones that results from clipping. You're correct that this would show up on an FR, but this is a very specific type of dynamic imperfection/compression issue that isn't directly indicative of overall dynamic ability.

Dynamic ability overall is more like "compression ratio" (or maybe "compression profile"?) during music playback. As long as the "compression ratio" doesn't result in hugely overemphasized peaks in loudness, there won't be any clipping distortion.

If the relative loudness of frequency A in a drum hit is recorded as
12-15-100-0, a headphone, being an imperfect playback device, might "compress" these to relative loudness levels to
15-20-95-5 during playback. This will not result in any clipping and therefore this will not change the FR, but the sound is being expressed imperfectly in a way that is both audible and measurable. If the headphone played the 100 in the recording as 102, that's when you get clipping and resulting changes to FR (assuming that the headphone is incapable of cleanly outputting 102).
 
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Garrincha

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Your claim is that this is because of some imaginary traits called "micro dynamics" and "macro dynamics".
We clearly say that it is FR. The same FR at the eardrum = sounds the same. That is also what Dr. Sean Olive says. He explains that what you measure as the same FR will most likely be different from the same FR on someone's head because of many different reasons. And the headphones will most likely not measure the same at the eardrum every time you wear them. All FR related.
The same FR = the same sound is simply not true, as you neglect transient behavior, i. e. CSD and any time based errors in general as the FR plot is a purely static thing. And spatial differences as well. Being objectivist and scientific does not mean being simplistic.
 
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RHO

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I think you're getting close.

You're talking about distortion in headphones that results from clipping. You're correct that this would show up on an FR, but this is a very specific type of dynamic imperfection/compression issue that isn't directly indicative of overall dynamic ability.

Dynamic ability overall is more like "compression ratio" (or maybe "compression profile"?) during music playback. As long as the "compression ratio" doesn't result in hugely overemphasized peaks in loudness, there won't be any clipping distortion.

If the relative loudness of frequency A in a drum hit is recorded as
12-15-100-0, a headphone, being an imperfect playback device, might "compress" these to relative loudness levels to
15-20-95-5 during playback. This will not result in any clipping and therefore this will not change the FR, but the sound is being expressed imperfectly in a way that is both audible and measurable. If the headphone played the 100 in the recording as 102, that's when you get clipping and resulting changes to FR (assuming that the headphone is incapable of cleanly outputting 102).
If the driver can play the complete music spectrum (20Hz - 20kHz) it can follow all signals contained within the music signal. Or it would show in the distortion data and FR at the peak SPL value of the signal.
 

Robbo99999

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I genuinely appreciate the reply, I'll try to keep this concise but I believe we misunderstand each other somewhat. I'm aware of how tonality can affect your perception of certain dynamic qualities in music. I'm also well aware that factors like unit-to-unit variation, pad and tip size/wear, and person-to-person differences in how headphones sound to our eardrums can affect our perception of music. I say this as someone who spends an embarrassing amount of time tip-rolling my IEMs and someone who spent an even more embarrassing amount of time manipulating and mixing sounds in various DAWs. Because of your comments, I'm also now aware that FR graphs on the internet are imperfect, especially when applied to our personal perceptions of these headphones.

But your second sentence is incorrect. We perceive sounds as frequency responses at our ear drum that change over a period of time. Sound is objectively a 3D experience:

1st dimension - Frequencies
2nd dimension - Loudness (When you plot Frequency and Loudness, you get FR)
3rd dimension - Time

This is why I say any sound can be reproduced by playing the right frequencies at the right loudness levels at the right times.

What I'm referring to as dynamics is Loudness x Time.

If you've spent your time as an audio enthusiast relying solely FR to conceptualize sound, I can understand how this seems like bullcrap, but bear with me: there is no way to EQ a sound to make it identical to a louder sound. There is no way to adjust the dynamics (loudness over a period of time) of a sound to make it identical to an EQ'd sound. Test this for yourself:

Apply a very rudimentary dynamic effect to a piece of music by manually adjusting volume level during playback. Just spike the volume knob for a split second and take note of how it affects your music.

Try to EQ your music to produce the same effect. You can even adjust gain. You will find this is impossible.

This sounds really stupid and obvious, but this is dynamics at its simplest. During music playback, different headphones will handle spikes in loudness (the ones recorded into the song) differently. There are also differences in how accurately and distinctly headphones will handle small changes in loudness as well, resulting in audible differences in qualities like texture, soundstage depth, and impact.
The bit in your second paragraph, where you say "We perceive sounds as frequency responses at our ear drum that change over a period of time" and your second bit where you say "What I'm referring to as dynamics is Loudness x Time" - I think I know what you're getting at, but I think that's actually information that is already covered by the measured frequency sweep of the headphone, all of that information is in the frequency response of the headphone and it's associated distortion measurements. The same is true for the last bit where you say "During music playback, different headphones will handle spikes in loudness (the ones recorded into the song) differently. There are also differences in how accurately and distinctly headphones will handle small changes in loudness as well, resulting in audible differences in qualities like texture, soundstage depth, and impact". That is all literally in the frequency response and distortion measurements, if you get the frequency response right in a low distortion headphone then all of those elements will be optimised.......it's easy to see the influence on these qualities you mention when using EQ to manipulate headphones. It's obvious that by shifting around parts of the frequency response through EQ will influence all the points you've mentioned. And as to your perceptions of applying "a very rudimentary dynamic effect to a piece of music by manually adjusting volume level during playback. Just spike the volume knob for a split second and take note of how it affects your music." then of course that will affect how it sounds, that's a change in overall SPL which affects tonality due to Fletcher Munson effects, that's a seperate phenomenon unrelated to the headphone itself but rather a property of the human ear. But no, it's all in the frequency response received at your eardrum which is influenced by the measured frequency response of the headphone (assuming your unit is measured accurately), it's distortion, and your "headphone transfer function" of your own anatomy, the detail of which I mentioned in my prior post(s).
 
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Geathchi

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If the driver can play the complete music spectrum (20Hz - 20kHz) it can follow all signals contained within the music signal. Or it would show in the distortion data and FR at the peak SPL value of the signal.
Yes, all headphones can follow all signals very well. The type of distortion I believe you're thinking of only occurs if it follows a certain kind of signal (the loudest frequencies at the loudest moments) particularly badly.

The bit in your second paragraph, where you say "We perceive sounds as frequency responses at our ear drum that change over a period of time" and your second bit where you say "What I'm referring to as...
I'll make one last attempt to explain what I'm talking about with a one-minute video and I'll concede if this doesn't work:


This will show you what music "looks" like in terms of FR. For the purposes of this discussion, let's pretend this is measuring a headphone's output. You can think of the adjustments to EQ as equivalent to adjustments in the headphone's tonality. Do you see how frequencies across the spectrum move up and down throughout playback? These aren't recording artifacts, this is showing that these frequencies vary in loudness over time. The accuracy and precision of these movements is what I'm referring to as dynamic ability.

You might want to say that inaccuracies in these movements would result in distortion, and therefore show up in FR. The movements of these frequencies should only result in distortion if the loudest moments are too loud for the headphone to handle, leading to clipping of the audio signal (which is distortion which is shown in FR). Most headphones are good at keeping the loudest moments from getting too loud. But what if a headphone makes the quietest moments less quiet than the recording intended? What if it plays slightly loud frequencies a little louder than intended? No distortion, but still inaccurate.

How can differences in the accuracy and precision of these movements be explained with a headphone's FR, which is basically just a very specific and imperfect EQ profile? A graph plotting Frequency against Volume does not contain any information about Time.
 

Robbo99999

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Yes, all headphones can follow all signals very well. The type of distortion I believe you're thinking of only occurs if it follows a certain kind of signal (the loudest frequencies at the loudest moments) particularly badly.


I'll make one last attempt to explain what I'm talking about with a one-minute video and I'll concede if this doesn't work:


This will show you what music "looks" like in terms of FR. For the purposes of this discussion, let's pretend this is measuring a headphone's output. You can think of the adjustments to EQ as equivalent to adjustments in the headphone's tonality. Do you see how frequencies across the spectrum move up and down throughout playback? These aren't recording artifacts, this is showing that these frequencies vary in loudness over time. The accuracy and precision of these movements is what I'm referring to as dynamic ability.

You might want to say that inaccuracies in these movements would result in distortion, and therefore show up in FR. The movements of these frequencies should only result in distortion if the loudest moments are too loud for the headphone to handle, leading to clipping of the audio signal (which is distortion which is shown in FR). Most headphones are good at keeping the loudest moments from getting too loud. But what if a headphone makes the quietest moments less quiet than the recording intended? What if it plays slightly loud frequencies a little louder than intended? No distortion, but still inaccurate.

How can differences in the accuracy and precision of these movements be explained with a headphone's FR, which is basically just a very specific and imperfect EQ profile? A graph plotting Frequency against Volume does not contain any information about Time.
Hello....yep, I watched that video, that's "supporting" what I've been saying.....ie that changes to the frequency response will affect the frequency response of the headphone and therefore the frequency response received at your ear & therefore how it sounds, what that video is showing is totally expected.....and to be honest it's not showing much to be fair.

This snippet you say here, "But what if a headphone makes the quietest moments less quiet than the recording intended? What if it plays slightly loud frequencies a little louder than intended? No distortion, but still inaccurate".....what you are referring to (although you've got the effects the wrong way round) is compression of the driver when the SPL get loud enough that the frequency response changes - ie the bass might start increasing less than expected in relation to the rest of the frequency range when you get to very loud SPL (dependant on headphone model)....for instance this is the compression seen in an HD560s as you increase the SPL level (courtesy of Oratory):
HD560s Compression Test.png

So you can see that bass output is lower than expected as you get towards the upper limits, but it's a relatively small effect at the highest SPL's, and really is only gonna be applicable to EQ'd bass rather than anywhere else in the frequency range. Indeed you can see that above 100Hz that the frequency response is not affected at all by increasing SPL. This may differ from headphone to headphone and the HD560s is quite a low distortion headphone, but you won't be listening to exceeding loud SPL above 1kHz due to the fact that music is generally recorded with the greatest SPL being in the bass sections. So this phenomenon is a small one, and not really of a practical importance, and certainly not to the degree that you're attributing. Anyway, you can still argue for sure that this phenomenon is part of the frequency response, it sure is in fact, which is what I've been saying all along. Plus, you can just see from the frequency response graph above (even forgetting any of the compression information) that of course some areas of the frequency response are more amplified than others, so of course the overall shape of the frequency response of the headphone will affect which parts/elements of your track/song are brought to the front or recessed into the background to an extent that it will feel unnatural or just change the presentation of the song or conversely drop everything in the song into a natural balance that you would expect from totally anechoic flat speakers in a well treated room, which is what you want & is the goal, it's all in the frequency response. It's all in the frequency response, etc, I won't keep listing the variables, it's all in my prior posts.
 
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Geathchi

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Hello....yep, I watched that video, that's "supporting" what I've been saying.....ie that changes to the frequency response will affect the frequency response of the headphone and therefore the frequency response received at your ear & therefore how it sounds, what that video is showing is totally expected.....
Appreciate your time. I agree that the phenomenon you're describing is almost completely negligible when it comes to evaluating headphones. I just assume tonality/FR for a headphone remains constant throughout music playback.

I don't understand why a frequency being played slightly quieter than normal would result in distortion.

Edit: In case I was unclear, we're kind of talking about the same thing, you're just incorrectly assuming compression always results in distortion. This is not the case.
Compression only results in distortion if done poorly. You can think of most headphones as having good-enough compression, but that doesn't mean they compress the same way.
 
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Chromatischism

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I have yet to hear an IEM with good sub-bass. Response of the Blessing 2 was better than average (with EQ) but still very far from any over the ear headphone.
This comment is curious to me. While I haven't heard any of the better headphones reviewed here, I was under the impression that IEM's gave better and easier sub bass because they seal the ear canal. My experience with a couple of them has been great.
 

Robbo99999

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Appreciate your time. I agree that the phenomenon you're describing is almost completely negligible when it comes to evaluating headphones. I just assume tonality/FR for a headphone remains constant throughout music playback.

I don't understand why a frequency being played slightly quieter than normal would result in distortion.
A frequency being played slightly quieter than normal won't result in distortion, it's the opposite, if you put less energy into the driver at that frequency level then it won't be forced to physically move as much, so it will have lower distortion as it's further away from it's mechanical extremes & limits of movement. Thinking about it, and I don't know if it's true, an edge case might be when you're at the very lowest SPL limits where the driver is producing virtually no measurable sound then it could be that you'd get some kind of incomplete response that wouldn't reflect the input signal accurately that might be measured as distortion, but that's just an intuition, but that would be at such low levels that it would be of no listening level consequence anyway.

(Or you might be misinterpreting the graph I showed (as a second outside chance means of interpreting what you posted), all the different SPL frequency response curves were overlaid and displayed relative to 1kHz which you can see from the y-axis)
 
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Somafunk

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I’ve still no idea as to what the **** is being argued about above, can we drop it from this thread?
 
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