• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Which flagship headphone has fantastic soundstage/imaging und bass?

Blorg

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2020
Messages
485
Likes
738
Right now I am rather leaning towards the HE1000SE because of its imaging capabilities along with the wide soundstage and detail retrieval abilities and then boost the subbass.

Only thing holding me back is that some people claim the atrium has even more soundstage depth when driven of a good fitting tube amp. It isn’t quite as good in imaging and detail though.

I might get the he1000se first and then maybe find a way to try the atrium.
I have the HE1000 Stealth, ($1,399, this is not the same as the $1,999 HE1000 SE) it's very good for both soundstage and the bass depth. HD800S has the soundstage but doesn't have the bass, HE1000 has both. It's also very well tuned, the LCD-X is not. LCD-X is marginally better for bass but HE1000 not far off it, and LCD-X EQ is mandatory as the stock FR is junk. HE1000 you can stick a moderate bass shelf on, and I do, but it's perfectly listenable and has great bass extension stock. The rest of the FR I don't EQ on it.

If you wanted to try something cheaper just to see if you like the idea, all the Hifiman oval headphones are tuned very similarly, it's a slight step up in refinement maybe with the HE1000, at best. The Edition XS ($379) and Ananda Stealth ($399) have almost as good bass and as good soundstage. Might be an option to pick up to see if you like the idea. If you hate either of those I don't think you'd like the HE1000.

Crossfeed mixes the channels together which reduces soundstage, it's good for very artificial hard panned early Beatles or jazz but I don't get why people suggest it for wider soundstage, it doesn't do that. It can make the soundstage sound more natural though, particularly on bad recordings.
 

ZolaIII

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
4,232
Likes
2,494
I just got my Denon AH-D5200 today and EQ-ed it to Oratory1990s GRAS measurements (as I think that's best hat available at least for this) no smoothing to Harman - 2 bass and - 1.5 dB highs (3 KHz) as that's to my preference. They are OK including depth and with tho nothing special, just good for closed back's. Without EQ they are a bit mid bass/bass boosted and a tad bright but very low distortion anyhow. Easy to drive from anything and more so as not DAC impedance dependant and relatively easy to put on as they have seal well easily with stock pads. Ain't that much impressed compared to my main system which is carefully tuned.
Anyway point is as long can's are low THD you can EQ them very good and easy enough and would be stupid not to do it (even with best ones that exist).
Lot of DSP systems supported (players, deticated hardware, FIR...) for export target which you download and apply. Simply encouraging you to play with it.
 
OP
G
Joined
Oct 4, 2023
Messages
88
Likes
13
thanks a lot for your insight. my current plan is getting the technically very capable he1000se then eq it closer to the harman target and then see if i can improve on that with virtualizers. maybe i will save some money over time and buy a smyth realizer in the far feature.
 

SDC

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2019
Messages
335
Likes
518
Location
S.Korea
I actually don't recommend oval planars from hifiman. Round ones are better...

I personally recommend hd800s if your planning for impulcifier, realizer, bacch.

Tried lots of fancy headphones... Sold most of them ended with he6se and hd800s.
 

ZolaIII

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
4,232
Likes
2,494
thanks a lot for your insight. my current plan is getting the technically very capable he1000se then eq it closer to the harman target and then see if i can improve on that with virtualizers. maybe i will save some money over time and buy a smyth realizer in the far feature.
Typ search for the good treble performance and to your liking as that part if harder to EQ properly (same goes for speakers) and of course that they are very low THD (comfortable and fit your needs).
 
OP
G
Joined
Oct 4, 2023
Messages
88
Likes
13
I actually don't recommend oval planars from hifiman. Round ones are better...

I personally recommend hd800s if your planning for impulcifier, realizer, bacch.

Tried lots of fancy headphones... Sold most of them ended with he6se and hd800s.
Why do you think round is better?
 

Mr Swing King

Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2023
Messages
78
Likes
197
Location
Jutland
I’ve always prefered Hifiman’s round cup models to the oval ones. To my ears they just sound better/smoother. This is also fairly evident when you look at the frequency responses.
Oval ones look like a sawtoothed breadknife whereas the round cups are more linear. This goes for the Susvara as well.
I am by no means technically proficient enough to explain why, but I have a hunch that such large and irregular cups are harder to control/tune/produce and still wind up with a smooth delivery.
 
OP
G
Joined
Oct 4, 2023
Messages
88
Likes
13
But what if you eq them to the Harman target with an eq profile?
Do you think round or oval shape has a effect on soundstage?
Thank you
 

Mr Swing King

Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2023
Messages
78
Likes
197
Location
Jutland
I very much hesitate calling this soundstage - it’s more like a bigger ‘sound field’, when we’re talking eggshaped Hifimans, big AKGs and the HD800/800S.
What we hear as sounds or instruments being further away is something that is already ‘baked-in’ during producing/mixing of said music.

As I’ve mentioned before; looking for soundstage in headphones is a fool’s errand unless you go the Smyth Realizer route.

With regards to round cups vs eggshaped cups it’s obvious the former are far more well-behaved. EQ’ing both to Harman will most likely make whatever soundstage you’re experiencing slightly smaller simply because the uppermids over most planars are laidback/more distant than what you find over Harman or IEF neutral aka vocals and instruments feel closer to the ear.
The ‘sound field’ though will remain larger due to the larger cups.
 

SDC

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2019
Messages
335
Likes
518
Location
S.Korea
Why do you think round is better?

First the measurements are better.

Better measurements doesn't mean better sound stage, like Stealth and Expanse weren't really my cup of tea... But, worse measurement means just nothing.


Second hifiman oval drivers are known to have audible distortion problems in high volume sweeps. Even their new Organic.

If we correct the headphones to hrtf (hrir, brir) we need lots of headroom...


Third, I just like the punch and smoothness of round ones if I be purly subjective.


Susvara sounded nice without eq, but with all the correction applied... Not really the best performer.


And just to add, sundara is the worst of HM despite being a round one. They halved the magnets and it is bad before and after correction...
 
OP
G
Joined
Oct 4, 2023
Messages
88
Likes
13
Really interesting to know how headphones compare after eq. Most reviews focus on tuning. For me or would be more interesting to have them all equed to the same target and then see what the hardwired differences are.

Can you think of any alternatives which fits my use case?

What about the empyrean II?
 
Last edited:

Graph Feppar

Active Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2018
Messages
293
Likes
275
HD800 is best. The HD800S higher bass distortion. HD800 + bass EQ to make it flat is ultimate soundstage + bass wombo combo.
 

ZolaIII

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
4,232
Likes
2,494
I very much hesitate calling this soundstage - it’s more like a bigger ‘sound field’, when we’re talking eggshaped Hifimans, big AKGs and the HD800/800S.
What we hear as sounds or instruments being further away is something that is already ‘baked-in’ during producing/mixing of said music.

As I’ve mentioned before; looking for soundstage in headphones is a fool’s errand unless you go the Smyth Realizer route.

With regards to round cups vs eggshaped cups it’s obvious the former are far more well-behaved. EQ’ing both to Harman will most likely make whatever soundstage you’re experiencing slightly smaller simply because the uppermids over most planars are laidback/more distant than what you find over Harman or IEF neutral aka vocals and instruments feel closer to the ear.
The ‘sound field’ though will remain larger due to the larger cups.
It's more like slow uprise in highs ending in spike where you don't care much and that it is not sibilant and a bit of boost in bass but rare are the ones which will preserve vocals not to be recessed. So slight V shaped slow step up.
Then there is a crinacle EARS + 711 Harman over-ear 2018 that try to mimic that putting spike where most have pina cancellation. You always can add wet reverb but with enough of it bass will become somewhat wobbly and if you try to mask it by boosting main and uper bass it will become boomy.
In short buy ones with trable to your taste and do the bass to your preference.
 

gimlet

Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2024
Messages
7
Likes
5
Thanks a lot for recommending those, I appreciate it!

Thanks all for your insight, I will try to find a way to compare both.
I also own a Smyth Realiser at home, but my travel solution for head tracking and movie surround is APL Virtuoso. https://apl-hud.com/product/virtuoso/

Works really well for $100 and is actively developed by a South Korean professor leading a UK research program. Not an A16 but really worth investigating.
 

phoenixdogfan

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 6, 2018
Messages
3,359
Likes
5,327
Location
Nashville
I also own a Smyth Realiser at home, but my travel solution for head tracking and movie surround is APL Virtuoso. https://apl-hud.com/product/virtuoso/

Works really well for $100 and is actively developed by a South Korean professor leading a UK research program. Not an A16 but really worth investigating.
Really interesting. Is there a version of the app that works on an Android phone?
 

gimlet

Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2024
Messages
7
Likes
5
Really interesting. Is there a version of the app that works on an Android phone?
Not to my knowledge. This started as a pro application and they introduced the standalone app for audiophiles. Currently requires either an Apple OSX or Windows computer because of processing. On Apple you need to download Blackhole to route the audio stream to Virtuoso, and then use your DAC as the output. Not an A16 but a lot easier to transport!
 
OP
G
Joined
Oct 4, 2023
Messages
88
Likes
13
I also own a Smyth Realiser at home, but my travel solution for head tracking and movie surround is APL Virtuoso. https://apl-hud.com/product/virtuoso/

Works really well for $100 and is actively developed by a South Korean professor leading a UK research program. Not an A16 but really worth investigating.
Thanks a lot for the suggestion.

How would you describe the sound experience with the realizer compared to other virtual software solutions in regards to immersion? Would you say it creates a much more believable ,,environment“?
 

gimlet

Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2024
Messages
7
Likes
5
My experience is that the Realizer A16 provides an almost fully realistic recreation of real speakers in real rooms. It feels real except that your body doesn’t get the visceral bass jolt that big speakers provide.

It is designed to replace a 16 channel speaker setup but works really well with stereo. When I visited Dolby studios in SF a few years ago, they had several A8s still in active use - it is a real professional tool.

Other software solutions like Virtuoso typically don’t have the processor speed and dedicated hardware to come close, although I haven’t heard every alternative.
 

phoenixdogfan

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 6, 2018
Messages
3,359
Likes
5,327
Location
Nashville
My experience is that the Realizer A16 provides an almost fully realistic recreation of real speakers in real rooms. It feels real except that your body doesn’t get the visceral bass jolt that big speakers provide.

It is designed to replace a 16 channel speaker setup but works really well with stereo. When I visited Dolby studios in SF a few years ago, they had several A8s still in active use - it is a real professional tool.

Other software solutions like Virtuoso typically don’t have the processor speed and dedicated hardware to come close, although I haven’t heard every alternative.
You can get a tactile bass transducer to help you with that. I use a Subpac S2 to recreate the tactile feel of a sub in the room. Takes some tweaking, but I find it helps a great deal, especially when used with the Realiser.
 

ZolaIII

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
4,232
Likes
2,494
After a long time I started using a very old Sonitus surround (planner, doppler and attention) direct show plugin and for movie's only. To my view it still works better than anything else including Creative DSP virtual surround which is amongst better in industry.
 
Top Bottom