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OLLO S5X Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 31 25.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 59 47.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 24 19.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 10 8.1%

  • Total voters
    124

Mulder

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We've been a bit off topic, and I'd like to bring the discussion back a bit to the issue of the distortion around 200-300 hz. I still don't know how to understan Rok's response to @khensu. How should it be perceived? Does he verify that the distortion is high in the 200-300 kz range? Since @solderdude can’t verify amir's measurement - is this a measurement problem or real distortion? And if the latter is the case, at what continuous sound volume can you expect distortion seriously set in in the frequency range in question?
 

solderdude

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Rok only knows that there is a resonance of the whole system around 250Hz.
It is clear to me that it is a resonance and not distortion.
I see a narrow band at 250Hz on one channel and 310Hz in the other driver.
In my plots this shows as a dip in the distortion plot (also narrow).
It is a small resonance as it is also small in the GD.
It is also present in the S4X and S4R which has a different headband system but similar, but somewhat different driver with different damping.
Different pads so they can be ruled out as well.
Rok suspects it is something in the cup/chassis/driver construction as he knows it resonates there.
I think it could be a driver chassis problem but seeing how the S4X and S4R are damped and mounted I could almost rule the chassis out.

Maybe the membrane/motor of the driver should be looked into closer. No idea how capable the driver manufacturer is (OLLO buys the drivers somewhere).

I do NOT hear any distortion and the fact that Amir measured it and I did but in a very different way could well be due to the THD measurement method itself.
Amir's test setup could perhaps see a resonance as distortion where mine sees it as a decrease in distortion around the resonance frequency.

An experiment could be to slowly sweep the headphone with a tone between 200Hz and 350Hz and see if you can hear something.
If not play it louder and repeat.
When you don't hear anything I would not worry about it.

114dB at 250Hz is way too loud to be occurring in actual music, maybe 104dB peaks at that frequency could occur. And that is really narrow band and only a resonance and only 2nd harmonic. If it were real distortion it would also be visible in H3 and H4 and there is nothing there. Just a resonance at that frequency.

Another experiment could be to use a similar sized driver in that chassis and see if it does the same.
However, I am not going to tear my OLLO's apart.
I like them too much and they are free of distortion even at loud levels.

I agree that it should looked into but as the S5X is now it does not seem to be a major issue.
 

Robbo99999

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Indeed toilet paper certainly isn't all created equal :) so I always specify the type and amount. Also one can sometimes use something like coffee filters but do not have the exact same effect.

The recommendation to try it with toilet paper is because it is always around and most people buying more expensive headphones usually do not buy the cheap 1-ply toilet paper.
The fun thing is you can easily try this, cut to size (very delicate plies) and vary the amount at no extra costs.

Then one can either keep it in there or buy some felt which does a similar (but not same) thing in the correct thickness for better longevity.
OLLO themselves used a silk screen in the S4R and S4X which also had a similar (but again not the same) effect.
It usually works better than EQ because it not only affects just frequency response but also creates damping which EQ does not do.
Especially when there is 'sharpness' between 8kHz and 15kHz which is impossible to spot with industry standard measurements but can be there and cause listening fatigue.

That said, toilet, damping or coffee filter paper or felt are not always the best solution. This depends on many things though. In a lot of cases EQ actually works better because, as you say, it can be targeted. However, in the OLLO S5X the felt I use is clearly superior to any EQ I tried during experimenting and filters I made.
Toilet paper also works great but as it cannot sit 'firmly' between the metal frame and pad so felt is a better solution but... the effect can be tried with toilet paper.

You probably have read THIS but those who have not may find the toilet paper experiment interesting.
I suppose ideally you'd have someone measure your particular headphone model with the various types of inserts, as I would think the effects would be headphone model specific to a degree. If it was possible to be very specific about the material used as the insert, then people could replicate that. And as you intimate, there can be some variation with how a person lays in the insert & whether it stays put, or has it folded or creased after you put it all back together - things that will affect the frequency response. There does seem to be quite a few variables associated with it, I think using EQ if you have access to it is the easiest most reliable method.
 

markanini

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I don't disagree, but I've applied a -3dB adjustment at 3100Hz with Q=2 and that does the needful for me. It could probably be tweaked a bit, but I'm happy with it as is.
Many would consider 3.1khz part of the upper mids, fine to apply EQ there IMO.
It's just precarious with EQ applied above the mid frequencies. The result becomes too song-specific, unless using a broad filter, but then it's not as effective. Instead using any one of paper, foam, mesh, or micropore just works, whereas EQ makes is so-so.
 

solderdude

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I suppose ideally you'd have someone measure your particular headphone model with the various types of inserts, as I would think the effects would be headphone model specific to a degree. If it was possible to be very specific about the material used as the insert, then people could replicate that. And as you intimate, there can be some variation with how a person lays in the insert & whether it stays put, or has it folded or creased after you put it all back together - things that will affect the frequency response. There does seem to be quite a few variables associated with it, I think using EQ if you have access to it is the easiest most reliable method.
Easiest... yes.
Most reliable ... maybe .. but there is a but (see below)
Most effective.. maybe not (same but)
Most desirable effect on the sound... can flip either way depending on the headphone (as I already mentioned)

You, wrongfully, assume EQ between 6kHz and 15kHz can be done accurately based on measurements using some fixture that adheres to a standard (so has a description how to build it and the tolerances) and that a 'target' that is laid upon the correction (which is overly smoothed and incorrect in that frequency range) is actually helping in any way in accuracy of the needed correction above 6kHz.

Perhaps, before shooting down such modifications you should dive into headphone tuning and actually measure-listen-measure-listen procedure many, many different headphones (while having references at hand) and carefully look why some headphones already have acoustic papers on them or other materials.
Think about Tyll's experiments with inserts, Dan's experiments and why suddenly newer Beyerdynamic headphones have dense materials in front of them.
Have a look at a lot of reviews from me where I show some of the more interesting modifications and their effect before writing off such physical mods.
That's the thing... one does not have to reinvent the wheel here. It is already invented. Experimentation is virtually free, one can adjust to taste, does not have to rely on digital EQ (so can be used without digital music sources), is fully reversible and only requires taking off the pads.

But yes, EQ is easy when someone chewed it down for you and has made tutorials or programs that 'do' things for you.
The question is how accurate that is above 6kHz or so and whether or not you get better results by using some form of acoustical treatment.
One can always assume that 'industry standard' is also correct above 6-8kHz but you'd be fooling yourself.
 
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Robbo99999

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Easiest... yes.
Most reliable ... maybe .. but there is a but (see below)
Most effective.. maybe not (same but)
Most desirable effect on the sound... can flip either way depending on the headphone (as I already mentioned)

You, wrongfully, assume EQ between 6kHz and 15kHz can be done accurately based on measurements using some fixture that adheres to a standard (so has a description how to build it and the tolerances) and that a 'target' that is laid upon the correction (which is overly smoothed and incorrect in that frequency range) is actually helping in any way in accuracy of the needed correction above 6kHz.

Perhaps, before shooting down such modifications you should dive into headphone tuning and actually measure-listen-measure-listen procedure many, many different headphones (while having references at hand) and carefully look why some headphones already have acoustic papers on them or other materials.
Think about Tyll's experiments with inserts, Dan's experiments and why suddenly newer Beyerdynamic headphones have dense materials in front of them.
Have a look at a lot of reviews from me where I show some of the more interesting modifications and their effect before writing off such physical mods.
That's the thing... one does not have to reinvent the wheel here. It is already invented. Experimentation is virtually free, one can adjust to taste, does not have to rely on digital EQ (so can be used without digital music sources), is fully reversible and only requires taking off the pads.

But yes, EQ is easy when someone chewed it down for you and has made tutorials or programs that 'do' things for you.
The question is how accurate that is above 6kHz or so and whether or not you get better results by using some form of acoustical treatment.
One can always assume that 'industry standard' is also correct above 6-8kHz but you'd be fooling yourself.
I'm not assuming EQ can be done between 6kHz and 15kHz in an accurate way from using measurements from a fixture, so you'd just use Shelf Filters or wide Peak Filters (eg Q1).

I'm not writing off physical "mods" like adding inserts, just as I said it's hard to control what's happening unless you have a measurement rig (yours for example, my miniDSP EARS for example). So I still see EQ as being a more sensible option if you have that option.
 

solderdude

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I'm not writing off physical "mods" like adding inserts, just as I said it's hard to control what's happening unless you have a measurement rig (yours for example, my miniDSP EARS for example). So I still see EQ as being a more sensible option if you have that option.

When you mean more flexible option as being sensible then yes EQ is more sensible as it is easier and faster to experiment with. The problem is that EQ does not lower resonances it only lowers the amplitude of the resonance... for which you would also need a suitable measurement fixture if you want to do it scientifically based.
A physical mod can actually not only improve the response but also applies damping which EQ simply cannot do.
So on quite a few occasions I found damping to give better results than shelving or just using low Q filters that 'do something'.

As you obviously do not own the S5X you cannot really tell but only can only take a stab at this based on limited experience with acoustic damping and multiple headphones.

But yes... playing with EQ is cheap, easy and direct results easy to check or AB.
Physical mods is something entirely different in these aspects but can give better results ... even toilet paper :)
But for people not having the abilities to check it needs a guide to do this properly but has the advantage one can also used this for cases where EQ is not an option or easy to do.
 

markanini

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It doesn't have to be a binary issue. When needed I use damping materials with EQ in combination, because either one alone doesn't give as good replay. Kind of like addressing speaker FR in rooms.
 

Robbo99999

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When you mean more flexible option as being sensible then yes EQ is more sensible as it is easier and faster to experiment with. The problem is that EQ does not lower resonances it only lowers the amplitude of the resonance... for which you would also need a suitable measurement fixture if you want to do it scientifically based.
A physical mod can actually not only improve the response but also applies damping which EQ simply cannot do.
So on quite a few occasions I found damping to give better results than shelving or just using low Q filters that 'do something'.

As you obviously do not own the S5X you cannot really tell but only can only take a stab at this based on limited experience with acoustic damping and multiple headphones.

But yes... playing with EQ is cheap, easy and direct results easy to check or AB.
Physical mods is something entirely different in these aspects but can give better results ... even toilet paper :)
But for people not having the abilities to check it needs a guide to do this properly but has the advantage one can also used this for cases where EQ is not an option or easy to do.
As long as you change the frequency response to an ideal using EQ, I don't see how a physical insert can produce a better result if you assume the condition that the received frequency response is the same? (Also assuming distortion levels are unchanged in EQ vs insert). So I don't really understand the significance of "damping" you use in this hypothetical comparative situation I paint, as that's the main benefit that you've been pointing out. Measurable sound quality in headphones is frequency response & distortion.
 

solderdude

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I don't really understand the significance of "damping" you use in this hypothetical comparative situation I paint,

You assume frequency response is everything and ringing and distortion are not a factor in sound quality as well when it comes to getting the best sound quality.
If that were the case and you could EQ a really crappy headphone to sound like an HE-1.
I can go along with your theoretical and 'ideal' babble a bit but I can't help it if you don't understand the difference between acoustical damping and lowering FR, they are not the same thing despite both possibly leading to a similar frequency response not all other aspects are the same in that case.
Also ... ideal ? using EQ ? Ideal based on what ? Theorizing is one thing, practice is another. This is something engineers know all too well.
 

Robbo99999

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You assume frequency response is everything and ringing and distortion are not a factor in sound quality as well when it comes to getting the best sound quality.
If that were the case and you could EQ a really crappy headphone to sound like an HE-1.
I can go along with your theoretical and 'ideal' babble a bit but I can't help it if you don't understand the difference between acoustical damping and lowering FR, they are not the same thing despite both possibly leading to a similar frequency response not all other aspects are the same in that case.
Also ... ideal ? using EQ ? Ideal based on what ? Theorizing is one thing, practice is another. This is something engineers know all too well.
Nope, I said frequency response & distortion are the measurable factors. If both those things are the same when using EQ or when using an insert then I say they would sound the same, do you agree? Also, don't confuse the matter (as it's not relevant), we're talking about the same headphone, not comparing different headphones.
 

solderdude

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If both those things are the same when using EQ or when using an insert then I say they would sound the same, do you agree?
You are theorizing. Acoustical damping and FR correction are not the same thing so they may or may not sound the same even when the tonality (frequency response) is the same.
As long as you do not understand the difference and have not experimented with both methods (or as markanini says even combined both methods) but just use pre-chewed EQ that seems to fit your personal taste as that is generated through 'science' and using standards, then were not getting anywhere in your totally 'theoretical' assumptions that clearly lack ANY experience with this specific headphone (and a lot of other headphones) and have never experimented with acoustical adjustments.
Theorizing is fun but real world often is more challenging and has to be done by engineers.

Its a bit like saying... hey I use EQ using a microphone on my listening spot and thus directivity of speakers and the room does not matter because theoretically my microphone says its ideal.

The solutions for the S5X have to be found in engineering. Yes, EQ can be part of solutions but it is not the ONLY and most optimal solution as EQ cannot fix everything.
 
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markanini

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So I don't really understand the significance of "damping" you use in this hypothetical comparative situation I paint, as that's the main benefit that you've been pointing out.
The difference will be visible on a waterfall chart. Headphones are mostly minimum phase devices, but not perfect ones as you envision them.
 

GM3

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Nope, I said frequency response & distortion are the measurable factors. If both those things are the same when using EQ or when using an insert then I say they would sound the same, do you agree? Also, don't confuse the matter (as it's not relevant), we're talking about the same headphone, not comparing different headphones.
I think a good analogy would be a metal tweeter ringing; you can try to fix it by EQ, but if you applied a tweak and managed to get rid of this ringing at the source, ex; dampening the driver, that'll really fix the issue at the root, something which isn't possible with EQ.

See also here; good info relating to measurements: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ds/hifiman-edition-xs-poor-highs.43232/page-2

As some have commented here, and in my experience also, those EQ curves provided after a set of measurements just don't seem to work particularly well to counter anything other than that particular sample measured, and again, I would even question whether if when a reviewer listens to that 'fixed' EQ curve, whether the improvements are truly improvements or whether it's just a case of placebo...

Again, don't mean this in any sort of insult, disrespect or X doesn't know how to listen or any thing of the sort; just if you're human and are expecting improvements, you'll likely hear them even if they don't exist... My experience with my own EQ 'fixes' is that one day they're awesome and the next day they're awful... Really varies by track/record/day, so ... I don't doubt that during a review, applying a curve might give a "ah! Better!" impression, and yet, a day or two later, different tracks, blind listening conditions, that the fix would still really be better/improvement... And again, since we all hear differently, different sized heads, etc., the measurements are objective but...
 

Robbo99999

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You are theorizing. Acoustical damping and FR correction are not the same thing so they may or may not sound the same even when the tonality (frequency response) is the same.
As long as you do not understand the difference and have not experimented with both methods (or as markanini says even combined both methods) but just use pre-chewed EQ that seems to fit your personal taste as that is generated through 'science' and using standards, then were not getting anywhere in your totally 'theoretical' assumptions that clearly lack ANY experience with this specific headphone (and a lot of other headphones) and have never experimented with acoustical adjustments.
Theorizing is fun but real world often is more challenging and has to be done by engineers.

Its a bit like saying... hey I use EQ using a microphone on my listening spot and thus directivity of speakers and the room does not matter because theoretically my microphone says its ideal.

The solutions for the S5X have to be found in engineering. Yes, EQ can be part of solutions but it is not the ONLY and most optimal solution as EQ cannot fix everything.
Right that's interesting, so you're saying in my example I gave you, the same model of headphone wouldn't sound the same if it had the same resultant frequency response and distortion profile after EQ vs after use of physical insert. That sounds off to me. Although I think you're trying to wriggle out by using the broad phrase "tonality" - I'm actually talking about the frequency response being exactly the same when comparing EQ'd version vs insert version. I think you're wriggling! Nope, I'm not on your page, I think you're wrong, I'd go far to say I know you're wrong. If both insert & EQ create the same frequency response & distortion results then they will sound the same, and therefore the only advantage to using an insert over EQ is if you don't have access to EQ. The one caveat to this is if the insert somehow lowers distortion beyond the EQ'd version, but I actually think the EQ'd version would have less distortion because you're asking the drivers to do less when you cut peaks, but with an insert you're still asking the drivers to do the same, so distortion will likely be lower with an EQ'd version vs insert. You're not onto a winner.
 

solderdude

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I think you're wrong, I'd go far to say I know you're wrong.

It's perfectly fine to have an opinion. I do happen to have one too and guess what... it differs from yours (at least in this case, certainly not always).
I hereby theorize that you are not a practical engineer by profession but rather more of a theoretician and possibly do not have an education or long lasting occupation in audio related matters. That would explain a thing or two at least.
 
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Robbo99999

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That's the thing... you think know this is wriggling because you lack the experience and are just theorizing and assuming that acoustical damping and EQ, even when leading to the same frequency response and tonal balance can not lead to a small but appreciable difference in sound quality when listening to music instead of sweeps with a constant amplitude.



It's perfectly fine to have an opinion. I do happen to have one too and guess what... it differs from yours (at least in this case, certainly not always).
My apologies for shaking your infallible faith in your perception of 'true science'.
I hereby assume you are not a practical engineer but rather a theoretician and can fully theorize how the S5X sounds and that it sounds better in the treble with 'ideal' EQ than with acoustical damping or exactly the same as your theory points to this and ... must be correct.
How many times do I have to say it, I said "Frequency Response & Distortion", so please read my posts properly and/or stop wriggling.

(Right I won't be logging in until tomorrow afternoon, so no more replies from me for tonight, I'll see if there's anything going on tomorrow)
 
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solderdude

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I will assume that no matter how I try to explain this you won't accept it because you already KNOW you are right.

Please try to imagine that maybe, just maybe there could be more than FR and distortion when it comes to (electro)acoustics and perception using music vs static test signals that only tell a part of the story... even if it is the largest part.

Acoustic treatment and EQ is not the same thing... period.
 
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Mulder

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Acoustic treatment and EQ is not the same thing... period.
If acoustic treatment and EQ were the same thing, i.e. equivalent, then all acoustic problems could also be handled with EQ - and then I suppose we wouldn't see any acoustically treated studios at all. Why bother acoustically treating a recording studio or a mastering studio, if all it takes is EQ. In fact, quite a lot of effort is often spent on acoustically treating studios. So why would it be different with headphones?
 

GaryH

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How many times do I have to say it, I said "Frequency Response & Distortion", so please read my posts properly and/or stop wriggling.
Probably best to just ignore him. When he can't win an argument on a technical front he resorts to snark, ad hominem and appeals to bogus authority (e.g. himself) as we've seen here. In this instance it all stems from his clearly pseudoscientific personal bias against digital EQ, as evidenced in his 'article' he linked previously:
In my experience the more complicated the filter is the more ‘damaging’ it may be to the overall sound quality even though the tonal balance may have improved.
Hilariously, despite lambasting you for not having his extensive hands-on toilet paper experience, his digital EQ experience is by his own admission decidedly...lacking:
I don't really know... I never use digital EQ.

Here's what actual professionals and authorities in the field have to say on the topic. First an acoustic engineer who worked/works at Harman (oh and not only a trained listener but a Harman Golden Ear no less), GRAS & Audio Precision:
(I've only ever seen one headphone that exhibits audible non-minimum phase behaviour shown by significant excess group delay, the Monoprice M1060. It's exceedingly rare.)

Dr. Floyd Toole (my emphasis):
If there is a bump, there will be ringing. If the bump is attenuated by equalization, or in fact any of the alternative schemes, so is the ringing. Waterfall diagrams and impulse responses routinely confirm the improvements in time domain behavior.
we appear not to be sensitive to the ringing in the time domain (at frequencies above about 200 Hz at least), but to the spectral feature — the peak
Adding damping reduces the Q, and therefore the ringing. It also reduces the amplitude of the peak in the frequency response, all of which would seem to be good. But the peak is now much wider and is therefore more frequently energized by components of the program. This means that it will be more often heard; the threshold ends up being lower — this well-damped resonance is easily heard. In contrast, the Q = 50 resonance is energized only when a musical component is precisely at the right frequency and remains there long enough to allow it to accumulate energy—to build up
It follows from this last quote that damping would likely in fact result in a more audible resonance than using digital EQ (and potentially even more audible than without either, degrading, not improving the stock sound), EQ being able to reduce the resonance peak without reducing the Q. Yet another win for EQ vs damping to go along with automatically reducing distortion when bringing down peaks as already mentioned.

And finally, a specific headphone example (source). Here are CSD (waterfall) plots of the HD800 first stock:
unknown-19.png

And now with its 6 kHz resonance peak digitally EQed out:
unknown-30.png

Oh look, not only has the frequency response ('back' red curve) peak at 6 kHz been removed by this digital EQ, but so has the ringing from it in the time domain. (Of course this all makes sense when it's understood that these domains are mathematically connected via the Fourier transform). No need to take a trip to the toilet for that precious acoustic dumping damping paper after all. Hopefully there'll be no more talking sh*t now that's been cleared up.
 
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