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The best headphone for EQ

WickedInsignia

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Here at ASR we're pretty EQ-crazy. That's perfectly valid, since EQ is just another link on the chain to make music sound more natural and enjoyable.
So what is the best "EQ-ready" headphone?
If we consider some notes Oratory1990 has made on this topic (excerpt from this comment), we gain an idea of what makes a headphone a great platform for EQ:
  1. Perform reliably, with repeatable seal across multiple users.
  2. Easily obtain the amount of seal that it was designed for (rip glasses users or people with large beards).
  3. Have good quality control = little unit variation and no channel imbalance.
  4. Have a relatively smooth FR free from high-q artifacts (sharp peaks and dips).
  5. Deform the pinna as little as possible.
  6. Have little reflections inside the earcup, especially those that lead to destructive interference. You can't fix a notch in the FR with EQ (non-flat excess group delay).
  7. Have suitably low distortion.
This is more about identifying headphones that act as a good platform for EQ, regardless of how they sound at stock (within reason, since adhesion to the preference target makes less adjustments necessary). Which headphone/s satisfy much of this criteria, have proven the most receptive to EQ, and could become an amazing performer with a tune-up?

Consider price/performance ratio!
 
OP
WickedInsignia

WickedInsignia

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IEMs tick so many boxes, it would be a shame to disregard them.
Including them would cause some dissonance in conversation since the logistics between both wearing types are quite different, as well as the preference targets. Keeping it to headphones for the sake of simplicity, but you’re welcome to make a similar thread for IEMs!
 

Colonel Bogey

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Here at ASR we're pretty EQ-crazy. That's perfectly valid, since EQ is just another link on the chain to make music sound more natural and enjoyable.
So what is the best "EQ-ready" headphone?
If we consider some notes Oratory1990 has made on this topic (excerpt from this comment), we gain an idea of what makes a headphone a great platform for EQ:
  1. Perform reliably, with repeatable seal across multiple users.
  2. Easily obtain the amount of seal that it was designed for (rip glasses users or people with large beards).
  3. Have good quality control = little unit variation and no channel imbalance.
  4. Have a relatively smooth FR free from high-q artifacts (sharp peaks and dips).
  5. Deform the pinna as little as possible.
  6. Have little reflections inside the earcup, especially those that lead to destructive interference. You can't fix a notch in the FR with EQ (non-flat excess group delay).
  7. Have suitably low distortion.
This is more about identifying headphones that act as a good platform for EQ, regardless of how they sound at stock (within reason, since adhesion to the preference target makes less adjustments necessary). Which headphone/s satisfy much of this criteria, have proven the most receptive to EQ, and could become an amazing performer with a tune-up?

Consider price/performance ratio!
BUMP

Any specific suggestions to OPs very relevant question? I'm struggling with that issue right now - got my Qudelix 5K yesterday and need to buy cans to go with it for use in my office (needs to be open). HD 600 is an obvious candidate, significantly cheaper than 650 over here but are there other options for a low distortion, smooth and EQ-able FR open headphones? I would be willing to spend significantly more is there is a tangible SQ improvement. And yes, I quite like the Harman curve;-)
 

someguyontheinternet

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For open headphones I think Audeze makes some good stuff. The more recent models also seem to come with more reasonable weight than their other models.

For closed there is the obvious choice of DCA Stealth.
 

MayaTlab

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HD 600 is an obvious candidate, significantly cheaper than 650 over here

One limitation of the HD6... series is that the FR above 3kHz or so may vary quite a bit because of pads ageing / sample variation / individual coupling. Below 100Hz there may also be a bit of sample variation according to Oratory.

but are there other options for a low distortion, smooth and EQ-able FR open headphones?

My favourite option right now still is a pair of HD650, but with Dekoni Elite Velour pads. The FR is super-consistent and rock solid when moving my head about, and the pads haven't noticeably aged during the last year. But that combo hasn't been widely measured on industry standard rigs and I use in-ear mics to EQ them.

I'd have been tempted to say a pair of HD800(S) might fit quite a few of the criterion above, but as far as I'm concerned it's a design that moves about far too easily on my head.

I'd add to the list above :
- pads that either don't age much over time, or are as inconsequential as possible to the overall SQ
- few coupling issues in general (it isn't just leakage)
 

someguyontheinternet

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It seems not that different from previous DCA headphones in terms of potential leakage issues, so that might not fit point n°2 above.
I don't know where the leakage assumptions stems from, but I also don't have solid data on it.
What I know is that my head is on the small side of the average size based on hat sizes. Size 56-57cm (around 22 inches) fits me perfectly. I also wear glasses.

I cannot report any significant leaking issues while using the Aeon RT or Stealth. The only issue of that category I had was with longer hair which had to be moved out of the way to allow proper contact between pads and my skin.

Based on this information I would assume that most adult males would have little to no issues getting a good seal unless they have a large beard or don't bother to move longer hair out of the way.
 
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