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Studio vs Hi-Fi headphones and suggestions.

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#1
Hello,

what is better to use ? for music listening only.

If someone choose studio monitors speakers for music listening, it is better to go for studio headphones ?

What you have to check if you don't have the ability to hear them ? are planar better ?

suggestions for about 1000$ ?
 

bobbooo

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#3
Hello,

what is better to use ? for music listening only.

If someone choose studio monitors speakers for music listening, it is better to go for studio headphones ?

What you have to check if you don't have the ability to hear them ? are planar better ?

suggestions for about 1000$ ?
Planars generally have lower distortion and flatter bass extension (less mid-bass hump) than dynamics, although not always. Check out the headphones in this ranking table - I'd say look at those with a score of around 70 and above, and a slope between about -0.75 (darker/warmer sound) and +0.75 (brighter/thinner sound) for a fairly neutral overall tonal balance.
 

solderdude

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#4
Hello,

what is better to use ? for music listening only.

If someone choose studio monitors speakers for music listening, it is better to go for studio headphones ?

What you have to check if you don't have the ability to hear them ? are planar better ?

suggestions for about 1000$ ?
When you listen to nearfield monitors in the way they are supposed to be used (so within a short distance) and enjoy this then 'neutral' headphones could be what you prefer.
When you use monitors in your average listening rooms and not spaced far apart you may well enjoy 'warmer' headphones.
It also depends on the music you listen to and whether it is just for enjoyment, background filling or for 'critical listening'.
With this I mean 'detail whores', folks that really love tight bass and finest nuances.

Studio headphones usually have coiled cables to prevent long cables getting caught under casters, cluttering up work spaces and usually have long cables so one can move around. In most cases they also have higher power ratings. Usually it is easy to replace pads, headband padding and are very sturdy. Often these headphones have a higher clamping force as well... for moving around and 'head-bobbing' situations when monitoring.
Then there is a difference between monitoring and mixing. For monitoring different instruments (listening while playing recording) the frequency response can be skewed and elevated treble usually isn't needed when monitoring louder. Sometimes elevated treble is beneficial to hear 'details'.
Depends on the instrument, usecase and individual.
For mixing (you really shouldn't on headphones unless there is no other way) they should be pretty flat.
Mixing with a not equalized NDH20 will lead to bass shy mixes with unnatural clarity, with HD600 can lead to elevated deep bass and a a more 'relaxed' mix.
When headphones are EQ'ed properly you can pretty much mix with all of them. The EQ is the reference.

For hifi enjoyment you can basically use any headphone that you like (prefer) EQ'ed or not.
Coiled cables and high clamping force is not needed. They can be open, closed, on-ear ... whatever works for you.
As long as you can enjoy music and not get any fatigue. It doesn't matter if you like bass, high treble energy, scooped or midrangy.
You can EQ this and when you can't don't want to use 1 or more headphones for moods.

Suggestions are like ... you know what.... You'll just get to hear personal preferences.
There really is only one way... audition
When this is not an option do not rely on recommendations on the webs nor magazines.
Find a reviewer that speaks your 'lingo' and you feel hears headphones you heard are described how he hears them.
In most cases his/her reviews will likely have more weight to you.
Even then it could be sketchy.
For instance I mostly heard headphones kind of similar to Tyll (Innerfidelity) but in a lot of cases heard them very different.

Go and listen and 'feel' as comfort is important, certainly for longer listening. Good sound but poor comfort is only pleasant for a short period.

Succes, no specific recommendations for me instead I will refer you to my page which may give you an idea of the ones I liked or think I might like.
 
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dasdoing

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#5
Check out the headphones in this ranking table - I'd say look at those with a score of around 70 and above, and a slope between about -0.75 (darker/warmer sound) and +0.75 (brighter/thinner sound) for a fairly neutral overall tonal balance.
the ranking is against the Harman curve, not a a flat target. mixing/mastering with a Harman curve would be very dificult
 

dasdoing

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#7
manly because of the bass boost. while you can get used to aplying "too much bass", it is hard to find the right balance, cause the frequencies above the boost are masked.
for you to see: mastering engeniers love the Audeze LCD-4. look where it is in the list.
but like I said in my first reply here, there isn't realy a consense of how a neutral curve should look like, but the Harman boost is far from it.

Harman's first study produced a curve as a starting point for their modifications which they said sounded like speakers measuring flat in a room: https://github.com/jaakkopasanen/AutoEq/blob/master/compensation/loudspeaker_in-room_flat_2013.png

Sonaworks Reference 4 seams to have a "secret curve" which many engeniers seam to be using
 

pozz

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#8
studio headphones don't realy exist, since there is no standards for a) for meassuring and b) for a curve that results to flat FR
Studio headphones are: rugged in terms of build and drivers, tolerate all kinds of abuse over a long time, and have high clamping force so musicians don't accidentally knock them off during recording sessions.

Control room headphones on the other hand are hard to define since few use them to do the final touches or mixing. Headphones are mostly for spot-checking and track-specific monitoring, but all the complex work is usually done on speakers.
 

dasdoing

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#9
Studio headphones are: rugged in terms of build and drivers, tolerate all kinds of abuse over a long time, and have high clamping force so musicians don't accidentally knock them off during recording sessions.

Control room headphones on the other hand are hard to define since few use them to do the final touches or mixing. Headphones are mostly for spot-checking and track-specific monitoring, but all the complex work is usually done on speakers.
that sums it up
 

dasdoing

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#10

bobbooo

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#11
Harman's first study produced a curve as a starting point for their modifications which they said sounded like speakers measuring flat in a room: https://github.com/jaakkopasanen/AutoEq/blob/master/compensation/loudspeaker_in-room_flat_2013.png
It seems you're confusing the above 'Loudspeaker In-Room Flat 2013' curve for a 'Loudspeaker In-Room Perceived Flat 2013' curve. It's not - it's just the measured frequency response by a HATS dummy head of a speaker that measured flat in a 'normal' room. This was only used as a (somewhat arbitrary) baseline curve for the subsequent testing of people's preferred speaker and headphone frequency responses, it's nothing more than that. Of course, we know from decades of research that a speaker which measures flat in-room will in fact be perceived as bright - we want the speaker to measure flat anechoically (not in-room), which due to bass room gain and treble absorption will in fact measure approximately as a straight slope down about -10dB from 20Hz to 20kHz in-room. Please see the below excellent explanation on Reddit by Oratory1990, a professional acoustic engineer who measures headphones for a living:
Differences between the Harman curve and Diffuse Field


I could write a long article about this (and I already have as part of my thesis), but I'm gonna try and keep it short, so it's more easy to understand.

The first question is: "what should a speaker sound like?" (in terms of frequency response). The short answer is (after decades of research) is: A speaker should produce a flat frequency response in an anechoic room. When the same speaker is placed in a "normal" (slightly reverberant) room, the frequency response will be a little tilted - about 4 dB more bass, and about 2 dB less treble. The debate about this is basically over, the question has been answered, and indeed, virtually all "good" speakers show this behaviour (flat on-axis, controlled sound power output).
And since recording studios use good speakers (studio monitors) to record, monitor and mix the music that consumers listen to later, it makes intuitively sense to listen to the music on similarly performing speakers - because that is what the music is supposed to sound like, this is what the artist and recording engineers decided "sounded good".
So the target for speakers is: Flat on-axis, controlled sound power output (smooth directivity).

Now, the same question can be asked for headphones: "what should a headphone sound like?" (in terms of: What is the ideal frequency response of a headphone"), and the short answer is: "it's not that simple".
The answer is simple for speakers (not that simple really, but it has been answered), but for headphones it is much more difficult.
The first difficulty is "how do you measure it?". It's easy with speakers - put a calibrated microphone at a standardized distance. With headphones this isn't possible (much of the sound depends on the shape of the head). The general consensus is to measure headphones on artificial heads, with artificial ears and artificial ear canals. The problem with this is, that head shape, ear shape and ear canal have significant influence on the acoustics, most prominently a 10-20 dB boost at 3 kHz. The important thing is: We "hear" this boost even when listening to speakers - because our ears are always there. When the artificial head measurement shows a high boost at 3 kHz, this sounds "flat, linear" to us, because this is what our ears hear. But how should this boost look like exactly? What is the target frequency response?

There have been many approaches to define the "target" for headphones.
Historically, it started with the ITU's recommendation of a "free field curve". This was measured by placing a good speaker in an anechoic room, and placing an artificial head in front of it. Then we measure the response of the speaker, but not with a measurement microphone, we measure with the artificial ears of the artificial head, so we can "see" what a human "hears" when he stands where the artificial head stands.
The resulting target frequency response curve has a 15 dB boost at 3 kHz, and is very wobbly above 5 kHz, due to specific resonance and phase effects that occur at specific distances and angles. It's hard to manufacture headphones that reproduce all these wobbles exactly right.
So another approach was taken: The diffuse field curve. Instead of putting a single speaker directly in front of the head, we place the head in a very reverberant room, so that sound arrives at the head from all angles and from all directions equally. The reasoning behind this idea was that sound arrives from all angles as well when wearing headphones - simply because the headphones cover the whole ear.
Diffuse fields are hard to set up, because you need to carefully position a lot of speakers and reflectors in a room with very hard walls to avoid any direct reflections, leaving you with only reverberation. Usually we use speakers that radiate in all directions, to further excite the diffuse field. The frequency response in the room is still linear and flat - but the sound is coming from all directions and not just from the front (as in the free field).
Now, when we measure the frequency response of the diffuse field with an artificial head, the resulting curve is much smoother above 5 kHz.
Free field and diffuse field in comparison.
When we build headphones that are tuned towards the diffuse-field curve, they sound neutral but a bit bright. Examples are the AKG 240DF, Beyerdynamic DT880 and most famously the Etymotic Research ER4-series. But also the Sennheiser HD800 is tuned for diffuse field response (but a very modified one).

But the question is not yet fully answered. Enter a scientist named Sean Olive currently employed at Harman. His hypothesis was that neither the Free Field nor the Diffuse Field curve were "correct" (read: Neither were ideal), since both the concept of FF and DF are very abstract and don't happen when listneing to music. He proposed another way of creating a target curve:
Placing a pair of good speakers in a "regular" listening room similar to the control rooms of recording and mixing studios, and measuring the frequency response with an artificial head. Harman's reference room is neither fully reverberant nor fully anechoic, it features a reverberation time of about 0.4 seconds, very similar to what professional recording and mixing studios use (the rule of thumb is 0.3 seconds).
Now if we measure a headphone on that same artificial head and the headphone were to have the same frequency response that we measured in the room, then this frequency response would be ideal, or so Sean Olive proposed. And further research proved that he was right, the majority of both trained and untrained listeners prefer this target curve over any other target curve.
The difference to DF and FF curves is that the room will slightly boost low frequencies due to reverberation, but high frequencies do not reverberate as much as they are more easily absorbed.
This comes much closer to what the artist and recording engineer heard in the studio, and what they based their judgement on in order to shape the sound of the music.
In other words: The Harman Target is basically the same sound that the artist and engineers heard when creating the music that we hear.
The whole point of the Harman target curve is to break out of the circle of confusion between audio production and reproduction, by pushing for a standard preferred frequency response on both sides of this chain. The question many ask is, is this preference standard accurate enough? And the answer is, it doesn't need to be 100% accurate in order to work as a standard. For example, if speakers/headphones with the same frequency response are used in the studio and at home, and the music is mixed and mastered to sound best out of that speaker/headphone, it will translate well to the home speaker/headphone, even if both have say, a dip at 2kHz. The mixing and mastering engineers will simply adjust EQ levels to account for that dip. So then the question is, why choose the Harman target over any others? And the answer to that is, this is the standard least disruptive to the music industry, because it is based on the average preference of many listeners in controlled, double-blind tests. In effect, most of the common arguments against the use of the Harman target are moot, because ultimately it's not really about preference - it's just a tool to ease the audio industry out of the vicious cycle of confusion it's been caught up in for decades, and towards a standard that will put an end to all this nonsense. This is the bigger picture.
 
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thewas_

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#12
The whole point of the Harman target curve is to break out of the circle of confusion between audio production and reproduction, by pushing for a standard preferred frequency response on both sides of this chain.
...
And the answer to that is, this is the standard least disruptive to the music industry, because it is based on the average preference of many listeners in controlled, double-blind tests.
It should be said also that those tests were and are done by listening to some existing arbitrary recordings which unfortunately is also a continuation of the circle of confusion. A real break from it imho would be to agree on a kind of standard for loudspeakers like for example flat on-axis with a defined specific directivity index and then to measure headphones which give the same response to the pinna in the reference room and not having people adjust bass and treble with "arbitrary" shelf frequencies listening to existing recordings to make the sound enjoyable to them as they did.
 
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OP
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Thread Starter #13
I am looking for something that is airy - forward - attack - warm - tight bass.

What about hifiman ananda, hd600 ?
 

suttondesign

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#14
Focal Clear without EQ or else Senn HD800 with a 6db cut at 6khz and a bit of bass boost. These are superlative products. And while I am a dealer, I deal in neither of these lines.

Then call it a life.
 

bobbooo

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#15
It should be said also that those tests were and are done by listening to some existing arbitrary recordings which unfortunately is also a continuation of the circle of confusion. A real break from it imho would be to agree on a kind of standard for loudspeakers like for example flat on-axis with a defined specific directivity index and then to measure headphones which give the same response to the pinna in the reference room and not having people adjust bass and treble with "arbitrary" shelf frequencies listening to existing recordings to make the sound enjoyable to them as they did.
Yeah this would be ideal, but I doubt a standard will be widely accepted that way. As I said, the Harman target is the least disruptive one we have, because it has decent (but not flawless) scientific DBT support showing general preference, the majority of speakers generally follow it, and now an ever-increasing number of headphones do too. Basically it's our best hope of getting a de facto standardised frequency response through the back door and ending this mess, due to the baffling number of people in the audio (and 'audiophile') industry vehemently opposed to front-door standardisation.
 
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#16
There's no way of good guessing which headphones will be good for you by FR charts.
Only if you know one model and compare others "virtually".
I'd not recommend you to spend significant sums based on FR charts without listening.

airy - forward - attack - warm - tight bass
It's kind of controversal IMO.
You can try out top models of closed-back Audiotechnica headphones.
They are not studio at all, but might be very fun.
 
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