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New Rode NTH-100 headphones.

Tim D

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I never wanted these to be for hifi and never expected them to be that. I think that Rode have been very deliberate in their design decisions and I think that they are very cynical in this case. I honestly believe that Rode has thrown deliberate curveballs in order to get responses to work out what to do next. They have thrown the kitchen sink into headline features to get attention, but I don't think the headphones are actually very good... at just being headphones. From a commercial perspective, that's fine. Hey, they know that they'll get sales and they know that they'll get reviewers' attention. And boy have they done that well! And for example, some guy on this thread keeps linking shilling Youtube reviewers.... which I refuse to click on. Rode wants you to notice them and provide them with all the information they need (and it's working) for what they'll probably call the NTH-200.

My disappointment is that it's all so, so, so cynical. Just look at the lack of just basic information on the product page. Or don't. These are not inexpensive headphones, and they aren't expensive either, in the grand scheme of things. We're just beta product testers. Rode won't even say whether they are closed or open back. They are neither. They are closed back, open sided.

Why isn't Rode being straightforward on this? Because they want your money. I'm returning mine to Scan UK, sorry Rode. But I'm sure you'll survive without me. :)
 

Hamster

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What would be the ultimate headphones for an accurate representation of mixing and mastering audio for you then?
I'm not as qualified as solderdude to answer but since I too, am searching for a pair of closed studio phones I may have some opinions:

There isn't an "ultimate" pair but all brands offer different flavours of what they think a pair of studio headphones should sound like.

At similar price range,
◆Rode NTH100 brings out lush, rich yet natural vocals at the expense of bass and treble/details. Most suitable for vocal focused video production or podcast.
◆A.T. M50X is regarded too much of a 'fun' V shaped sound to be a pair of monitoring headphones but has been editors' darling for more than half a decade now, probably due to the influence of non-audiophile creator influencers.
◆Harman tries to answer the question of "how to make headphones sound like a pair of studio monitors in a treated room" and they came up with Harman target FR (I know I am oversimplifying), and AKG K371 is their best effort so far to tune a pair of closed back to that target. Over engineered build + poor QC was rampant but some say AKG has rectified that issue since.
◆Bayer DT770 pro is also another studio darling, commonly seen being used in vocal studios but some may consider its treble may be too much to be considered as neutral, some consider it fatiguing, but it is brilliant in details retrieval which can be useful in those settings.
◆Sony MDR7506 is most likely what you will see the sound guy wearing if you see them on TV programmes but they are old at this point of time and their sibilance is murderous if you drive them with modern gears.
◆Senn HD599/560S - classic Sennheiser, but it seems like they are more popular among audiophiles rather than studio production guys.
◆Beats Solo 3 - because "hear your music the way the artist intended".

Edit: I forgot about Shure 840A
◆Shure 840A I have not heard 840A but according to solderdude it is 840 with slightly better bass. 840 is a warm U shaped neutral sound with nothing really stand out, "boring" sound signature some may call, but it may be a desirable trait in a pair of studio headphones. It has finicky build which 840A has since improved on. Loose adjustment mechanism still, though.
 
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solderdude

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I am not a mixing/mastering engineer to begin with but for one thing I would not mix/master music on headphones but on good studio monitors.
Checking mixes... yes. Not on the NTH100 though but use something like the Strealth or older HE-6 for that kind of stuff or other hifi headphones with EQ or one that the owner is completely familiar to (compared to his monitors).

Spoken word etc that is only going to be used watching videos on not really hifi systems with usually rolled-off upper treble the NTH100 is fine.
 

tikky

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Finally, I got my hands on it. The build quality is I guess class-leading at this price range. They are comfy but they are NOT super comfy. They have just enough padding to work with them. I find the very sub-bass area is lacking very deep low, sounds like a bit HD650, Sundara at that range, around 40-50hz low boost helped a lot, they are also midrange-ish sounding headphones around the 300-700hz range and has to be fixed with EQ. The top-end clarity and details are enough to my ears but still, a little bit of high shelf helps a lot. Out of the box, they are OK. But won't blow your mind. They need to be EQ: ed. Imaging, sound stage, etc, are these types of things I don't really mind much but they are very good at this level. With EQ they can be the best headphones for the price. Without EQ they are between "meh" and "OK".
 

tikky

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The rubber stopper is affecting the sound significantly, when removed the imaging and balance are really off. What really strange is that even the rubber stopper has a little hole and if you hold your finder there to block it completely the wide feeling, especially on the low end disappears and gets very centered. Anyone tested?
 

MayaTlab

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The rubber stopper is affecting the sound significantly, when removed the imaging and balance are really off. What really strange is that even the rubber stopper has a little hole and if you hold your finder there to block it completely the wide feeling, especially on the low end disappears and gets very centered. Anyone tested?

All three options (no rubber stopper, rubber stopper, and rubber stopper with hole blocked with finger) indeed affect the FR quite significantly.

However, depending on the sample, the rubber stopper may not necessarily bring the two sides closer together. I'm on a third sample (probably my last attempt at getting a pair with decent QC), and I'm still having rather significant issues with channel matching, even when using this rubber stopper, and even when seal (against my head, not necessarily within the earcup itself) / coupling aren't the culprit. The act of simply removing the pads and putting them back on can change the response, even when all the locking tabs are in place.

I get the feeling that this design is very sensitive to accidental, unwanted venting of the ear cups one way or another (such as slight imperfections in how the pad itself seals against the earcup for example ?).
 

tikky

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All three options (no rubber stopper, rubber stopper, and rubber stopper with hole blocked with finger) indeed affect the FR quite significantly.

However, depending on the sample, the rubber stopper may not necessarily bring the two sides closer together. I'm on a third sample (probably my last attempt at getting a pair with decent QC), and I'm still having rather significant issues with channel matching, even when using this rubber stopper, and even when seal (against my head, not necessarily within the earcup itself) / coupling aren't the culprit. The act of simply removing the pads and putting them back on can change the response, even when all the locking tabs are in place.

I get the feeling that this design is very sensitive to accidental, unwanted venting of the ear cups one way or another (such as slight imperfections in how the pad itself seals against the earcup for example ?).

I suspect pads because when I put some pressure on the pads the center image is getting a spot on but the moment I let go, it's getting off the track. Maybe we need to wear it more. The measurements show that the channel matching is pretty much perfect. It can be an issue of weight distribution as well. I'm gonna try to find a solution.
 

MayaTlab

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I suspect pads because when I put some pressure on the pads the center image is getting a spot on but the moment I let go, it's getting off the track.

When pressing pads the NTH100 behaves in a fairly linear fashion up to a few kHz : https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...ew-rode-nth-100-headphones.32296/post-1146373
(I get similar results).

The measurements show that the channel matching is pretty much perfect. It can be an issue of weight distribution as well. I'm gonna try to find a solution.

I usually prefer to refrain from showing channel matching with my in-ear mics as my own head is asymmetrical, but for headphones that behave in such a way (very good seatings to seatings consistency, linear behaviour under pad compression that's similar to a pair of open dynamics such as the HD650, similar behaviour to such open headphones when subjected to the load of the ear canal, as tested ceteris paribus with in concha mics and earplugs), I have less foibles about it, at least up to a few kHz and with blocked ear canal entrance mics.

All the following made with in-ear, blocked ear canal entrance microphones. Please note that for these mics :
- absolute values are not representative of the FR at my own eardrum. Above a few kHz in particular please note that what looks like peaks or dips may not be an actual peak or dip.
- the mics are calibrated and compensated against a UMIK-1. They're stereo mics, but I've checked that using the same mic for both ears produces the same results once they're calibrated and compensated.
- they should not be compared with other measurements ! Only with themselves.

For a start I get really decent seating to seatings variation with these, here five seatings (headphones completely removed and put back on again between measurements) for the right channel for one of the samples :
NTH100 seatings var.jpg

A better way to represent this is to use the first trace, use it as a reference, flattened to "zero", and then only show the difference between it and the four other traces :
NTH100 seatings var comp.jpg

This is one of the best behaved closed back that I've measured on my head in that regard so far, even more so as I really made no efforts whatsoever to be consistent. That makes them easy to measure in situ with decent precision. Combined with the linear behaviour under pad compression and the lack of sharp resonances / nulls for most of the range that's what drew me to these in the first place. Should have been an interesting pair for EQ purposes if it weren't for what follows.

For a start, sample variation might be a bit of a problem IMO.

All the following graphs show the three samples configured with the cable on the left hand side, and the rubber stopper on the right (as I would normally use these).

They're averages of five seatings. Traces are not normalised.

On the left side, with this configuration, it turned out fairly decent :
NTH L var.jpg

On the right hand side on the other hand :
NTH100 R var.jpg

Now you'll probably ask : well, since this is the side where I've put the rubber stop, it must be the cause of the variance, right ?
Answer : unfortunately no. I've tried for each of these various combinations (cable on the right hand side, no rubber stopper, swapping the rubber stopper between sample, etc.) and while it did change the response quite a bit, in terms of channel matching and sample variation it only shifted the problems around. The above is representative of the overall problem.

If I show the difference between the R and L channels (which I'll limit to 5kHz only because of my asymmetrical head, and that is a stretch, for other headphones types, such as some ANC headphones, I'd rather only compare the delivered channel matching up to 1kHz or so, but I'm making an exception here because of these headphones' coupling behaviour), I get this, compared with a pair of HD58X :
NTH100 3 samples RL match.jpg

The "AM" sample wasn't that bad. For the "SV1", the plateau around 2kHz and above was quite noticeable. The last one, "SV2", is just crap.

For the latter I noticed that if I removed and reinserted the pads (always firmly pressing on them to make certain that all the locking pins are in place), so, not changing anything, just the act of removing them and putting them back on, the channel matching would shift around, as if the pads' retention mechanism wasn't able to ensure a consistent seal / coupling between itself and the housing :
NTH100 3rd multiple pad reseats NO BASE.jpg

Really problematic find here.

In general the whole venting scheme of that design seems problematic.

So, this has all been a little bit annoying, as it compromises to me their EQ potential.
 
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usern

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Probably not Harman Target EQ since he has been doing it longer than this research has been around. One way or another it's more about knowing how the headphones translate to monitors or the application where the recording will be used (like solderdude mentioned).
 

staticV3

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Yeah for sure. Our brains are pretty awesome at adapting to sensory inputs.
 

tikky

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When pressing pads the NTH100 behaves in a fairly linear fashion up to a few kHz : https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...ew-rode-nth-100-headphones.32296/post-1146373
(I get similar results).


That's because in the test you guys are pressing the both pads. When I hear a shift in the center image, let's say to the right a bit, pressing the left pad puts the center image in the center again. For the rubber stopper there is still a hole left even it's places correctly and blocking that hole with a packing tape is affecting the stereo image of the headphones.
 

PeteL

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Got the opportunity to listen to this today. (sorry not responding to no one, too lazy to read the thread) Seem to be plenty of hype no? I looked at it and was extremely impressed with the industrial design, extremely... Until I've pressed play. Did someone really think it sounds fine? OK it was just my Laptop output but anyway, wow, those are some muffled presentation I couldn't believe how dark and veiled this was... Is it me? was something broken? Granted, I've listen 10 sec, I had enough, an instant fail.
 
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_theLaughingman

_theLaughingman

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Got the opportunity to listen to this today. (sorry not responding to no one, too lazy to read the thread) Seem to be plenty of hype no? I looked at it and was extremely impressed with the industrial design, extremely... Until I've pressed play. Did someone really think it sounds fine? OK it was just my Laptop output but anyway, wow, those are some muffled presentation I couldn't believe how dark and veiled this was... Is it me? was something broken? Granted, I've listen 10 sec, I had enough, an instant fail.
These are obviously not meant for us audiophiles but for the content creators, specifically the podcasters and YouTubers for their neutral response.
 

PeteL

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These are obviously not meant for us audiophiles but for the content creators, specifically the podcasters and YouTubers for their neutral response.
OK, I don't feel headphones should be that specialized. Maybe my taste. To me something like a M50X is more neutral than that altough it's not considered audiophile neither and not fully compliant to Harman neither but it sounds good to me. You got highs and details. this really sounded muffled to me. Thing is, I really wanted to like them, what a great design, and confort.
 

PeteL

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yes, it is primarily intended for production of YT videos etc and podcasts.
The reasoning behind the tonal character is that spoken word monitored/mixed/produced on these headphones will result in voices that sound clear on TV's, computer monitor speakers etc.
Were one using a DT770 or MDR7506 the one 'mastering' the sound would get the urge to dial down the treble as both these (very common) headphones used in such circumstances have elevated treble. When it sounds 'nice' on those headphones at a louder volume then those productions sound dull and not clear on TV's, nearfield monitors and such.

Having slightly recessed clarity and treble as a starting point (the NTH-100) you end up with clearer sound.
To be honest, sorry but I don't really buy this argument. I did work in broadcasting and quite a bit of news piece editing on headphones. The best way to sound good is to hear how you really sound and have enough clarity to spot the little mouth noise and small pops. I don't mean to go overly bright but it's a vicious circle to deliberately sound muddy to clear out your voice with EQ, very arbitrary way of working. Yes Ideally you want a reference that you know well, that don't have much coloration, that don't "sweeten" your production. But this just sounds off. Muddy. I don't see how this can be helpful.

I feel that fidelity should be the goal or at least tune in a way that many agree with, that's truthful, that give a clear picture. My guest is that it's an easy marketing trick when you design something that don't perform to angle it as intentional and Rode are master at marketing, always have been. They can be convincing.
 
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