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What makes a pair of headphones have great "slam" and "impact" in sound?

nyxnyxnyx

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I apologize in advance if a previous thread has already discussed this matter, I searched through the forum but did not find anything similar.

So I had my weekend filled with many headphones and amplifiers and EQ tools to toy with. I did read about the frequency response chart and about what range is responsible for what in music reproduction. A prime example is the guideline picture in Soldierdude's website ( https://diyaudioheaven.wordpress.com/tutorials/how-to-interpret-graphs/frequency-response/ ).

To be precise, I've A/B tested HD800s, HD650, AKG K371, Beyerdynamic DT1990 and Audeze LCD2/3 in random orders, both in stock forms and when EQ'ed to certain targets and whims. To my ears the audezes and HD800s were easily superior when it comes to "slam" and "impact" of sound. Saxophones and trumpets were crisp and vivid, bass notes were very weighty and so on, the rest. This occurrence happens when I try them in stock form and even after EQ (oratory1990 target applied). I did use the FR chart as a guideline to make adjustments but no matter how much gain or Q I adjusted (I even boosted something up to 10dB in Roon), it was not able to create the same impactful sound I hear in 800s and LCD2/3. Is it something related to the transducer or did I do something wrong?

For the record, I did not do volume-matched, blinded A/B test so I can accept the answer that it's just my uncontrolled hearing. However with headphones like HD800s and AKG 371, there are simply no way I can hide my perception from noticing those headphones the moment I put them on my head.
p/s: If it matters the source I tested was Topping A90/D70, the headphones have different connection types so some were SE some were balanced.
 

solderdude

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A rather broad band lift of a few dB at most between 50Hz and 200Hz will add 'impact' to bass.
Too much of it and bass becomes flabby/bloated.
 
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nyxnyxnyx

nyxnyxnyx

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A rather broad band lift of a few dB at most between 50Hz and 200Hz will add 'impact' to bass.
Too much of it and bass becomes flabby/bloated.
I understand. My question is after the EQ it still does not hit as hard as those headphones I mentioned. Is it something about the driver capability or is it more about me not fully understanding how to EQ?
 

threni

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I understand. My question is after the EQ it still does not hit as hard as those headphones I mentioned. Is it something about the driver capability or is it more about me not fully understanding how to EQ?
It's not going to be possible to:
1) exactly EQ one pair of headphones to sound the same as another
and
2) not know which headphones you are wearing.
Plus there's no EQ you can perform which'll reproduce the soundstaging of the HD800 so they'll always sound different (just like two identical pairs of HD800 would sound different if you changed the way the drivers were mounted).
 

someguyontheinternet

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Might be placebo, might be some kind of resonance, might be some kind of distortion or something entirely else (which I find unlikely).

There are some issues with finding out exactly why or if there is a difference and how it correlates to measurable characteristics. I summarized a couple of issues I ran into on a related topic here:

Finding a way to make different headphones properly blind-testable proves to be a difficult task.
 

maverickronin

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As far as I can tell slam and impact are just how much mechanical vibration is transferred from the headphone to your skull.

The main factors would be the moving mass of the transducer and then how well the pads and frame either couple or decouple it from your skull.
 
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kthulhutu

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Do you wear glasses or have long hair by any chance? Audeze being planars have exceptional leakage tolerance.
 
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nyxnyxnyx

nyxnyxnyx

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Might be placebo, might be some kind of resonance, might be some kind of distortion or something entirely else (which I find unlikely).

There are some issues with finding out exactly why or if there is a difference and how it correlates to measurable characteristics. I summarized a couple of issues I ran into on a related topic here:

Finding a way to make different headphones properly blind-testable proves to be a difficult task.
I do read and follow observable traits and characteristics of headphones that can be measured, I think it can be placebo although it is unlikely in the case of those headphones I mentioned. After all the size, driver type and pad material are vastly different to begin with.
I wanted to try blindfold A/B test but I'm already so familiar with those headphones.... Unless I use some sort of numbing agent I think I can recognize them when I wear them.

As far as I can tell slam and impact are just how much mechanical vibration is transferred from the headphone to your skull.

The main factors would be the moving mass of the transducer and then how well the pads and frame either couple or decouple it from your skull.
Fair point. The cup of 371 does not vibrate or ring much even when I increase volume to loud level. The thing is LCD3 does not shake like I think it should but it still hits hard anyway. Maybe it's a driver thing.

Do you wear glasses or have long hair by any chance? Audeze being planars have exceptional leakage tolerance.
I don't wear glass and maybe at one point I had long hair. But currently my hair is quite short. HD800s and LCD3 both leak like crazy!
 

MayaTlab

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Is it something about the driver capability or is it more about me not fully understanding how to EQ?

The main problems are always going to be that :
- sample variation exists, which means that another sample measured on an ear simulator may not match well enough your own to a degree that's below threshold of minimum audible difference,
- the difference in FR produced by two different headphones on an ear simulator may not be sufficiently similar once it's on your own head so that the "different difference" is inaudible.
So FR most likely remains an uncontrolled variable.
And as long as it remains uncontrolled it's difficult to attribute to something else the cause for what you hear.

Plus there's no EQ you can perform which'll reproduce the soundstaging of the HD800 so they'll always sound different (just like two identical pairs of HD800 would sound different if you changed the way the drivers were mounted).

If you change the way the drivers are mounted, there's a pretty big chance you'll change the FR as well, no ?
And how do we know that whatever people mean by "soundstaging" can't be reproduced with EQ ?
 

threni

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If you change the way the drivers are mounted, there's a pretty big chance you'll change the FR as well, no ?
Well, exactly.
And how do we know that whatever people mean by "soundstaging" can't be reproduced with EQ ?
If they mean "more bass" then of course it can. If they mean "illusion of more accurate location of instruments" then...dunno, why would that be something you could solve by boosting/reducing one or more frequencies? Just feels like it's not possible to me...plus, no-one's done it yet, so there's that.
 

MayaTlab

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If they mean "illusion of more accurate location of instruments" then...dunno, why would that be something you could solve by boosting/reducing one or more frequencies? Just feels like it's not possible to me...plus, no-one's done it yet, so there's that.

That's akin to attributing to something other than FR the cause of what you heard. Which we can't since FR remains an uncontrolled variable in all likelihood. That's the main problem.
 
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nyxnyxnyx

nyxnyxnyx

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So like, there's basically no reliable way (for me) to confirm whether it is FR, driver capability, or placebo? Everything seems like rock-paper-scissor to me in a way, I cannot prove it's not placebo because I know the headphones I wear, I cannot say it's driver capability because FR is supposed to affect alot, and I cannot say it's FR because I tried EQ to the same target but it still sounds different lol.
 

itz_all_about_the_music

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What makes a pair of headphones have great "slam" and "impact" in sound?​


Answer: nothing. What's needed are large transducers that can move significant volumes of air in a room - like live music. They're often called loudspeakers.
 

majingotan

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So like, there's basically no reliable way (for me) to confirm whether it is FR, driver capability, or placebo? Everything seems like rock-paper-scissor to me in a way, I cannot prove it's not placebo because I know the headphones I wear, I cannot say it's driver capability because FR is supposed to affect alot, and I cannot say it's FR because I tried EQ to the same target but it still sounds different lol.

IMO, It's a combination of FR and driver capability, driver angle, headphone pads, waveguide through unique pinna shape and some placebo (bias). If you find HD800 having subjective "slam" and "impact", wait 'till you demo the Focal Utopia which has even more of those qualities in stock FR despite looking "bass shy" in stock FR curve. https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/focal-utopia-review-headphone.22103/
 

Bow_Wazoo

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...My question is after the EQ it still does not hit as hard as those headphones I mentioned. Is it something about the driver capability or is it more about me not fully understanding how to EQ?
I listen since many years adjusted according to the harman curve.
I usually take Oratorys setting as a basis, and personalize afterwards.

Just a few days ago I did an A/B comparison between the Clear Mg and the LCD 5.
Both brought to the same FR as well as volume.
The sound was of course totally different.
I will not go into the details, but the differences in the driver systems were clearly audible.

To come back to your question, as far as I know, there are no measurements for Slam and Punch.
There is an interesting video by Dan Clark, in which he comments on the subject.
According to his research, it has to do with distortion.
Supposedly, people find it difficult to perceive bass when there is little distortion involved.
For my part, I can not confirm this.

In any case, based on my experience, I have made the observations that each headphone has its personal characteristics, which can be influenced with the EQ only conditionally.
 
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nyxnyxnyx

nyxnyxnyx

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IMO, It's a combination of FR and driver capability, driver angle, headphone pads, waveguide through unique pinna shape and some placebo (bias). If you find HD800 having subjective "slam" and "impact", wait 'till you demo the Focal Utopia which has even more of those qualities in stock FR despite looking "bass shy" in stock FR curve. https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/focal-utopia-review-headphone.22103/
I did try the Clear and Utopia a few times. They sound very "real" to my ears, I don't know if it is mostly because of the driver or other thing, but even when EQ'ed they are still vastly superior to some of my headphones (371 for example). In IEMs market, both designers and reviewers are debating about the benefits of driver types, like using EST for treble which seems to work well with some implementations, or using beryllium-coated dynamic drivers to help it vibrates better (?).

If you know any videos or webinar explaining this in greater details please let me know.

You still can say it could be FR because of the factors I mentioned above, that was my point :D.
I mean I kind of agree with you but because I cannot confirm the full extent of what each thing does to change FR (angled drivers, pads etc...) so I am not sure of it.

I listen since many years adjusted according to the harman curve.
I usually take Oratorys setting as a basis, and personalize afterwards.

Just a few days ago I did an A/B comparison between the Clear Mg and the LCD 5.
Both brought to the same FR as well as volume.
The sound was of course totally different.
I will not go into the details, but the differences in the driver systems were clearly audible.

To come back to your question, as far as I know, there are no measurements for Slam and Punch.
There is an interesting video by Dan Clark, in which he comments on the subject.
According to his research, it has to do with distortion.
Supposedly, people find it difficult to perceive bass when there is little distortion involved.
For my part, I can not confirm this.

In any case, based on my experience, I have made the observations that each headphone has its personal characteristics, which can be influenced with the EQ only conditionally.
Do you have the keyword for that dan clark video? I googled but didn't find anything relevant. I think your hypothesis makes sense. When I applied two of my headphones to Oratory's target and increase volume I seem to notice that one pair vibrates much more than the other (can feel it when you put your hand on the cup).
 
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