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True-Fi headphone software correction

Rod

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#2
By Sonarworks. 10- Day trial. Sets eq according to company's measurements. Also sets the eq by age. I am testing it now. I first set the age at 26 and I could tell the lack of treble. Set it at my old age and yes the treble adjusted.
"The consumer-based software — which is available on both Mac and PC platforms and soon on mobile devices was awarded 'Best in Show' in the music listening category at CanJam Europe in Berlin last November."
 

Timbo2

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#3
I tried the software about 3 months ago and found it didn't play well with Win7 and my HTPC. This PC has my AVR and its DAC connected as well as my DAC for my headphones. It seemed to struggle with which DAC to emulate. I got it to work once.

I messed around for about an hour with it, but I wasn't going to go down the "configuration rabbit hole" with it because this HTPC uses Windows Media Center and remote media extenders. It is how everyone watches TV on every TV in the house. I joke with my family that I feel like IT staff in a production environment as up-time is critical on it. I'm still upset the MSFT killed it!
 

SIY

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#4
I have a review of the Sonarworks system coming up in the July AudioXpress, with a few comments on the True-Fi. A more extensive review of the True-Fi system, which now includes normalization to the new Harman curves, is in the works. The ability to change the target response is a very nice feature, IMO. I'm less thrilled about the age correction...

Interestingly, Sonarworks claims that if you use their EQ, you can make headphones sound essentially identical.
 
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#5
I have tested a dozen or so headphones with True-Fi and many of them were very similar. Not all of them were identical, but that's probably because it's impossible to get a perfect compensation for every headphone for every listener. I mean, the compensation I need tor a K612 might be similar to what you need, but we might need different compensations for an M50X, or we might need different compensations for both.

Some headphones are also not very consistent with position: https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AKGK550.pdf

Even the Utopia varies a bit: https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/FocalUtopia.pdf

That being said, I think it's one of the best things to happen to the audiophile community :)

If you pick two headphones that are consistent with position, and don't vary much from listener to listener, I think they will sound very similar with Sonarworks (assuming distortion is similar or reasonably low).

It offers a ton of value to guys with mid-tier headphones, as there's a significant price jump when moving to high-tier (though we're getting more headphones that are filling the gap). That of course assumes you like their target FR.
 
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Rod

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#6
I have a review of the Sonarworks system coming up in the July AudioXpress, with a few comments on the True-Fi. A more extensive review of the True-Fi system, which now includes normalization to the new Harman curves, is in the works. The ability to change the target response is a very nice feature, IMO. I'm less thrilled about the age correction...

Interestingly, Sonarworks claims that if you use their EQ, you can make headphones sound essentially identical.
I took a test online and found out that I lost the ability to hear the test tone past 15-16k. So in some songs I notice that depending on how loud the treble area is, it can make the track sound too warm and lacking in treble. For example "All stripped down" by Lisa Bassenge on her Canyon Songs album. So the age correction helps me hear what I have been missing in the tracks.
But the program wont work for me until I check exclusive mode in settings which then sounds scratchy and heavily distorted, then unchecking that setting so it sounds as it should. Can't figure out why that's happening. I also hear a pop when I manually change a track in Tidal but not when I let Tidal automatically change tracks on a playlist.
I also found out I was clipping. I let the eq program automatically set the volume level as it informed me I was clipping so I had to go from low power mode to high power mode on a RME dac and now I must be entering higher distortion levels on the amp as I am at -10 db to get to a moderate listening level. Glad I got the Massdrop/THX AAA amp coming with 6 watts. I need that for the HE-560.
Unless I am misunderstanding how this is supposed to work.
 
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Rod

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#7
I took a test online and found out that I lost the ability to hear the test tone past 15-16k. So in some songs I notice that depending on how loud the treble area is, it can make the track sound too warm and lacking in treble. For example "All stripped down" by Lisa Bassenge on her Canyon Songs album. So the age correction helps me hear what I have been missing in the tracks.
But the program wont work for me until I check exclusive mode in settings(which then sounds scratchy and distorted)then uncheck that setting to get it to work. Cant figure out why that's happening. I also hear a pop when I manually change a track in Tidal but not when I let Tidal do it on a playlist.
But I found out I was clipping. I let the eq program automatically set the volume level(It said I was clipping)and had to go from low power mode to high power mode on a RME dac and now I must be entering higher distortion levels on the amp as I am at -10 db to get to a moderate listening level. Glad I got the Massdrop/THX AAA amp coming with 6 watts. I need that for the HE-560.
Unless I am misunderstanding how this is supposed to work.
I uninstalled it for now and sent the company a troubleshooting report.
 

Rod

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#8
The company has responded and replied that there reaching out to RME so they can fix the bug with the RME drivers and it will be included in the next update. I went ahead and reinstalled the eq program and dealt with the bug. I really like what I am hearing with the age correction and eq applied. One thing that surprised me, the loss of sound stage that I didn't even realize was happening. With the eq applied and the age correction activated, the soundstage increased, giving the music more depth. I didn't realize what the hearing loss was doing, I guess its been such a slow process its like the frog in boiling water metaphor.
I also did not let the the program set the voume level, that cant be right that I am clipping so I think its another bug.
 
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#9
I used to work at Sonarworks for nearly 4 years. I still think it's one of the gamechanger products for headphones and studio monitors. For headphone calibration it's all in the measurement method. I think it's the only one where end results are ear checked against a reference by multiple engineers, so the curves are free from measurement artifacts.
 

Rod

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#10
Well I got it to work correctly. I just kept changing settings until I hit on the right combination. Here they are so in case anyone is using this software with Windows 10 Anniversary Edition, Tidal, and a RME ADI-2 Dac.
In sound control panel it shows this and there both enabled:
Analog(1+2)
RME ADI-2 Dac
Default Communication Device
(also)
Speakers
True-Fi Vertual audio device
default device

Under sounds in win 10 these are the input output settings:
Input:SPDIF(RME ADI-2 Dac)
output:Speakers(Tru-fi Virtual Audio Device)

Tidal settings:
Sound output:Speakers(Tru-fi Virtual Audio Device)
Exclusive mode off

Sonarworks setting:
Output device: Analog (1+2)(RME ADI-2 Dac)
Checked items:
Launch at startup
Capture your device sounds
Uncheck items:
Exclusive mode
lower volume to avoid clipping
 

Rod

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#11
I bought a pair of Berry dt-770 80 ohm over dads day because they were discounted and I did not really expect a lot out of them because of my impression of the dt-990's. Using them with the sonarworks(I went ahead and purchased the software) I am pleasantly suprised at how good they sound for under a hundred bucks. Not as good as the planers I have, but still for a bang around set of cans to take out of the house and being closed they are a keeper. I was all set to not like them, being it was an impulse buy, and I had buyers remorse. It shows ya never know.
 

Guermantes

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#13
I've used Sonarworks Reference 3 with DT-880 Pro headphones for a couple of years. Very good at transparently ironing out the treble peak and adding some missing low frequency oomph. I also tried it with a pair of Shure SRH840s but applying the correction did not make them sound as good as the DT-880s, so, like Rod, I don't believe it will turn mediocre headphones into great ones -- if the distortion is there then it end up revealing that as well.

Sonarworks.jpg


Edit: corrected screen capture to show DT-880 profile.
 
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#14
I tried it and I don't think it's very good at all.
They use some predefined curve of what is "flat" according to them and I can only disagree a very great deal. What is flat according to them is a very bass boosted muffled sound for me aimed at making headphones sound like hifi speakers in a reverberant room or something like that.
I'm not very familiar with the different curves for headphones, I know there's the diffuse field curve, the Harman curve and several more. Sonarworks does not include any other curves than what they seem to think is flat (no idea exactly what that is but I can tell you I think it's bad) and you have to live with it aside from some tilt and bass / trebble boost things relative to their "flat" curve. (this is in Reference 4, less options available in True-Fi). You can't tune the EQ curve otherwise.
Btw, according to them the HD650 is the most flat headphone ever made (needing the least amount of correction for their "flat' curve). I could not agree less.
Try listening to well recorded classical music with their "flat curve". It's a bass heavy wooly muffled mess. (which is exactly how I'd define the HD650 btw, very much veiled and they're infamous for this but for some others this is how they want their headphone to sound though)
In my opinion headphones are like studio speakers in an anechoic room (which I've actually had and spent a lot of time in also just listening to music). This is extremely analytical and there is a different curve that applies to it to make it sound more flat in that situation (which is then still extremely analytical). But the fact of the matter is that most modern music is mixed to sound correct / balanced in a speaker in a room (with early reflections and reverb etc). Some take headphones very far to the dark side to make modern music sound warm on headphones (like the HD650 etc) which I get. But to then make software where the only "flat" curve is this setting and then tell people this is how it should be and this is perfect for studio work etc is just absolute nonsense in my opinion. And it is very depent on the type of music what works well. (I very much like Vierne's organ music played by Ben van Oosten, well recorded from a natural listening distance to hear this with the right headphones with the right curve is like being there, with a HD650 like curve it is not, completely unrealistic balance. Same result for similar natural recordings.)
One gets much much better results by finding out roughly what curve is good for your own taste / use and then searching the many different measurement (yes everybody's measurements are different) including waterfall plots if available to better see the resonances and looking at the distortion characteristics of your headphone (many headphones don't take well to boosting their bass only resulting in greatly increased distortion whose harmonics reach well into the midrange which then also suffers etc) and then use an EQ like for instance DMG Equilibrium and do many listening tests of the result.
Simply slapping on Sonarworks and then expecting magic is not realistic in my opinion.
Oh and btw one last thing to take into consideration. Listening level also greatly affects tonal balance, here the Fletcher-Munson curves come into effect. And different people have different preferences for listening levels and hence which headphone and curve sounds more "flat" to them with their prefered type of music. Anyhow, none of this is impletemented in Sonarworks.
 
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SIY

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#15
Since you can customize the target function with tilts and bass boost/cut and there are several other target function options, I'm curious if you tried any of those?

My experience with Sonarworks and True-Fi has been extremely positive largely due to that flexibility.
 
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#16
It has to do more with what you're used to. If you're listening for pleasure, then I'm pretty okay with people having preferences. This tool was initially made for music production, so the supreme test would be wether you can mix a song so that it works on a multitude of systems. Pretty sure now around 25k people mix with this sound signature and they always report a reduction in double checking.
 
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#17
No, headphones are not good for commercial mixing that translates. And this is not just my opinion, you can find plenty of knowledgeable people say the same thing on Gearslutz etc.
The reason is that quick transients excite a room yet they go by so quick on a headphone. The balance between headphones and speakers in a room is completely different.
There is also a reason people don't mix in anechoic rooms. An anechoic room is not the ideal mixing space.
There are many theories as to the perfect mixing space. Some like it very dry (especially some in mastering) with almost no reverb just some careful early reflections. Some others like it fairly wet but well behaved as far as room modes (resonances) go.
As far as headphones, attempts have been made to make headphones more useful for mixing by adding early reflections / reverb and crossfeed with mixed results. (Though definately don't use any of the plugins made for this, their reverb is terrible. Better to set it up yourself very carefully with Altiverb. But it is still not ideal by far.)
But as I stated above, I get why especially for contemporary commercial pop and electronic music it can be a good thing to do a HD650 type voicing and that for some this translates better to a "speaker in a warm room" type response on average (average meaning the average between transients and sustained sounds reponse with regard to early reflections and reverb in a room). And that some people are helped by this. (and even some people turn out mixes that translate to speakers, but this is more of a rarity, most people fail)
But it is not a replacement for speakers in a good room. And I personally think it is even far more helpful to have good headphones with a very analytical response and an experienced person listening to them who knows what they are and what not.
In any case, I very much stand behind what I said that Sonarworks is very limited in this regard and make all sorts of claims which are simply not correct in my opinion. And I'll even say that for most headphones and people simply slapping on Sonarworks in their default setting is not an improvement but a great degredation in sound quality even if only because of the greatly increased distortion with most headphones.

Oh and one more thing. Every single good studio I've been to does not sound as warm as the Sonarworks flat response. They are far more analytical after room treatment. The Sonarworks flat setting sound more like the average warmth of an untreated carpeted living room home theater / hifi setup kind of thing to me. Has its uses and fan base too, especially for noncritical listening for enjoyment. Hell many like for instance the HD650 so much because it makes everything sound good including badly mastered and older music etc. The exact oposite of what studios and especially mastering rooms try to achieve.
 
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#18
It took me about 10 minutes of listening with a Sennheiser HD598 using the trial version until I purchased a license. The improvement was huge, and I spent the rest of the evening listening to favourite tracks, listening to entire tracks in most cases instead of just skipping about (which I think is always the best sign with any new audio gear, since you're not just hunting for short-term audio kicks but really re-discover musical pieces).

The strength of the effect obviously varies across headphones, but among the seven supported models that I own, all improve. The worst one (really bargain-bin Sennheiser HD201) become somewhat listenable, the best one (Fostex TH-x00, with individual calibration) only leaves me wanting for a wider/more precise soundstage. It obviously can't cure every ill a headphone has, but it's damn good at the frequency response correction.

Seeing how much effort goes into getting a flat/neutral frequency response from headphones - and how much this raises the price - I think digital frequency response correction is the way forward. (I can't speak to this myself, by remember reading in one of Tyll Hersens Innerfidelity articles that distortion and flat frequency response are tradeoffs against each other in driver design.)

If you're into headphone listening, it's definitely worth taking a look at the list of supported headphones (https://www.sonarworks.com/truefi/headphones) and download the trial version if something you own is on there!
 
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#20
Btw, perhaps the 'flat studio speaker in a well treated studio / mastering room' thing would be the diffuse field frequency response? I'm not very familiar with the headphone curves but the name is perhaps suggestive of this and from my listening experience this could well be the case as well.
But this is certainly not the flat curve of sonarworks, that one is much warmer. And I don't think you can get there with the bass-trebble-tilt controls of Reference 4 either. I'm personally unaware of how to do this in any case, simple bass roll off control doesn't give the right result for me.
 

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