EQing Headphones

Discussion in 'Monitoring' started by Jeremy Dean, Dec 31, 2016.

  1. Jeremy Dean

    Jeremy Dean Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2015
    Location:
    Virginia
    Hey all,
    I was just wondering what y'alls thoughts are on EQing the headphones you use. A friend gave me a pair of beats of few years back and of course we all know the low end is super hyped on them. I haven't tried this before but today while plugging them in to do some casual listening I decided to plug them into my receiver and EQ them to see if I can get a more natural sound. I had to turn the slider for 63Hz down quite a bit before getting the bass to mesh better with the rest of the mix and not be so boomy. Do any of you ever take this approach when using headphones? A lot of pairs out these days seem to have a lot of hyped frequencies but taking some time to EQ them seems to improve their sound a lot. Any down sides to doing this?
     
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
    Location:
    Boulder, Colorado
    Home Page:
    You might persuade yourself that it works.
     
  3. Jeremy Dean

    Jeremy Dean Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2015
    Location:
    Virginia
    Why doesn't it work?
     
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2000
    Location:
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
  5. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Location:
    Lowell Massachusetts
    Do you mean for mixing? Or just plain listening? I wouldn't use them for mixing at all. Only for checking a mix to see how it translates to headphones, and then sometimes you can find some happy middle ground. I know a couple people who can make their mixes sound good on both...but I still have no idea how they do it.

    If you have a dual 30 band EQ (I guess single would work) and good ears you could do it. You would need test material that you know backwards and forwards. Like, you go to track 8 and 1:24 just to hear that sound...and you play it over and over and over and eq till it's right. And as an example, for track 8 at 1:24, I know what that sound should be...and I've heard it on everything from ear buds to $100k systems. So I can hear it, and know that this is too high, or that is too low. But I have been doing it for, literally, decades.

    Personally, I think the people who have those type of ears are rare. I also think I'm one of them :p

    But unless the wallet is just too dry, for listening, I would just get a good set of headphones. I've listened to a lot of them and overall, I like the top of the line Sennheisers the best (It used to be HD600 or 650?) For listening, I think they are nearly perfect. Grado's, I've heard them all, and on really expensive amps (I go to headphone meet ups) and I just don't like the top end. It get's fatiguing. But everyone's ears are different. I have the JH Audio Pro 13's, but only because I needed that style headphone...and those are pretty good. They are analytical, which is what I wanted. The bottom end is a little light, which I think is why they came out with the 16's.

    For purely listening, I think the Senn's are far better.

    Based on where the beats shine, you will probably have to knock a some 50 off, a little 40, and a little 63. The center should be around 40-50 though. All the 63's will need some adjustment (63, 630, 6300)

    So to your original question...yes, I think it's possible. But you must have, and know ("know" is an understatement) a lot, of test material. You are basically tuning them by ear. As good as anyone's ears are, if you don't have those hundreds of hours of test material logged in your head, you have no reference to tune to. The beginning of Pink Floyd's Money, with the coins and cash registers....the cash register rollers...I know what those are supposed to sound like, all the coins etc. On track 4? Time there is a small tick that is almost like on a loop. I think it actually is a tick from a loop. Is that sound there? Is it right? It should sound like a tiny "pop" on a loop. Some people will read this, and go listen for the pop now....but now they know. You have to know a lot of material, and what it should sound like, to do what you are proposing.

    This song right here, I have listened to, hundreds of times, no exaggeration. And then a hundred times more. I know where her voice sits, I know how much space it occupies in the stage, I know the tone....how loud everything should be, it's proper sound, it's proper place on the stage. Then I've listened a dozen more times. And again, and again, and again. I have about 10 cd's that I know that well. That ability is what is required to do what you want to do. I've just listened to it 3 more times while writing this.



    So, I know that if I listen to this, and on some system, she is harsh...that the system is simply wrong. Her voice is very smooth in this recording. There is not sharp "edge" in this entire recording. Can I hear the rainstick at proper volume and presence? It also sounds a bit dry in the recording, is what I'm listening to making it too wet? The guitar volume drops during "Too Close...." but it should still be very clear and present. Does it drop off too much? Her voice can sound bloated at 320-ish on poorly designed systems. The crossover causes phase issues and voila! Or sometimes if the x-over is poor she will have a glow around her vocal. When all the instruments get going, they should still be very easy to keep separate in your head. Ironically, on some systems, her voice is literally Too Close lol. Meaning she shouldn't be that close to me in the soundstage. She is too far forward. Often times this is caused by a relative hump centered on 5khz. If you drop that, she will recess back into the soundstage.

    I'm not saying this to discourage you. If you want to do it, I say saddle up and get to it. I'm just telling you that it's not a small task. Imo, w/o that listening experience/catalog...you can't properly tune by ear, and that's assuming you have the ears to distinguish all the tiny details. And again, perhaps you do....what do you think? You also need hundreds of hours on some immaculate systems. Listening to that Claire Marlo song on a Bose system is not going to help you. In fact, it will hinder you.

    So, I think it's possible, but I think the number of people who could do it, is small. And they would probably have a pair of Senn's anyway lol.
     
  6. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Location:
    Lowell Massachusetts
    I can't read his mind, but I can tell you a strong possibility.

    Flat, is not perfect. Not for monitor purposes, or any purpose that I know of.

    You can have two different monitor pairs, that reproduce the exact same frequency spectrum (in theory, they are identical) and it will sound different. This will be related to driver material, crossover relationships, but basically...the "personality" of the setup.

    So, I could take a pair of Senn 600's, which I verified are the ones I thought "the top of the heap", about 8 years ago. (I have not heard the 650's is what I want to clarify). And I could replicate the spectrum they reproduce, in almost any time format, or correlation you can think of. Then, I can average all that if you want. I could make an algorithm for that if you want (I literally could).

    But the Beats aren't going to sound like the Senn's. All else being equal, whatever eq curve, dynamic, or timing you want to match, the Beats won't sound like the Senn's. The driver material and design is what will result in the most "personality" of a driver. And nothing will impact your overall sound more, than your drive selection. (Insert "monitor" selection if you prefer). Switch out amps, preamps, cables...anything you want. Nothing will impact the end "sound direct to your ears" like the driver/monitor selection. From what I have observed, the expensive ones, are mostly expensive for a very good reason.

    So, Beats headphones, even if adjusted to reproduce frequencies in the proper spectrum, of say the Senn's, will never sound exactly the same. I can make a certain silk dome sound "perfect" for what it can do....but you replace it with a massive ribbon...and it's simply outmatched.

    So, at best, you will get the Beats to reproduce a similar spectrum of your selected baseline. But it doesn't mean it will sound the same. It will actually be noticeably different, bc paper has a sound. Silk, has a sound. Ribbons, have a sound. Enclosures with specific drivers, will have a sound.

    So, with the Beats, you have a baseline quality of reproduction, that is most likely, severely outdone, by a different design. Usually with faster attack an decay.

    So even if you have the hundreds of hours of listening, and ear training, you are limited by the quality of the design. You could EQ the Beats to be perfect...it doesn't mean it will sound accurate.

    They are basically a "genre" driven item. They excel for certain types of music, but they are far from unbiased. Imo, if you want that level of reproduction, you want the JH-Audio Pro16s or whatever they are at now.
     
  7. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2014
    Location:
    Lowestoft - UK
    Home Page:
    Back in the 70s they started putting graphic eqs on virtually every hifi system from cheap to excellent. Most ended up with the smiley face curve - listener preference, more bass and more top end. I always wondered why the studios produced music that everyone wanted to re-eq? The studios back then rarely had near field monitors other than the grotty Auratones and similar tranny radio mimmicking things. So did the studios just have big monitors that made them produce bass recordings? No idea. However we still like more bass as listeners, which the beats type headphones do very well.

    We have the audio version of cooking without enough salt or sugar, which the consumers add back in (and are always told how bad it is for them). So why do studios produce products everyone then adjusts? What exactly is 'right'? I suspect sound people mix bass and HF light as the 'studio sound', and then when listening at home do the same as every consumer - turn the bass up!
     
  8. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Location:
    Lowell Massachusetts
    I don't know what happened back then.

    I know that now, most of the people I see just don't know what something is supposed to sound like. I think most people buy stuff because it has a name attached, and then think, "this is accurate." I've brought some very expensive gear into people's houses and set it up...and they were thrilled. I felt sick.

    I think most people on this forum would probably walk through a hi-fi room listening to speakers, saying, "That's not right, that's not right" etc. I've listened to stuff that was $20k and said to myself, "This is way off?? Like, not even close, and not even enjoyable?" I think the vast majority of people, might see that price tag, and assume, "this is perfection." It was awful. I literally, could not in good conscience, sell people that stuff.

    People who do activities like ours have had hundreds of hours of critical listening experience. Very few people are motivated to do that, who aren't involved in music or general audio design etc. And even in those relative few, not all of them are good. You can be born with great ears, but you need to train them. Almost nobody does that anymore. We are constantly doing it.
     
  9. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
    Location:
    Quebec, Canada
    Home Page:
    I make them do barbell lift everyday ! :ROFLMAO:
     
    Brother Junk likes this.
  10. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Location:
    Lowell Massachusetts
    Metaphorically speaking, you probably do.

    A person who has never been involved in speakers, monitors, sound etc....who has genetically amazing ears, like 1/1,000,000....would never be able to pick up which is the most accurate. Ear training is needed, no matter who you are.

    I mean it when I say, that if most of you were to walk through a hi-fi room, with few exceptions, you would say, "That's terrible, that's terrible too, that't terrible x 2, that's even worse." High end B&W's, Avante Garde Horns (I can't believe I'm saying that about a horn, but holy cow) ....but you would have to get into the "mortgage" price range, before most of you would find them tolerable, I would bet money on it.

    Your ear are super valuable Marco. All those barbell lifts and musical training lol.
     
    pcrecord likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice