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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #50
^What "people"? Headphone forum members? Advertisement funded, "High-end" magazine reviewers? Might such people suffer from expectation bias and "group think" in regards to their sighted evaluations of what they undoubtedly might dismiss as being "cheap headphones" by their standards?

Sighted reviews are just as scientifically worthless with headphones as they are with anything else in audio. It's no different.


There is a relevant difference.

Whether or not there are audible differences between amplifiers, DACs, high bitrate codecs, etc. has a fairly consistent null outcome. Definitely true for the ones we consider to be good. Measurements and what we know about psychoacoustics confirm this.

Whether or not there are audible differences between loudspeakers, headphones, earphones etc. has a fairly consistent positive outcome.  Measurements and what we know about psychoacoustics confirm this.

Audio is not the "It all sounds the same" world portrayed above. Some things matter, and some things don't. Welcome to the real world! ;-)


  • db1989
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #51
Apart from that, flat ("boring") sound would not sell many units to non-professionals, meaning less profit for the company.
And so the smile curve ever tightens its grip, and its victims need ever more extreme quantities just to get the same buzz.

  • Martel
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #52
Well, isn't it a vicious cycle? Producing a non-mainstream (read balanced) headphone means that the producer has to sell it for a higher price to offset the lower sales (and still pay off the R&D costs of the particular model). But this could also drive the headphone's price out of the mainstream and normal people would not consider buying it.
IE4 Rockbox Clip+ AAC@192; HD 668B/HD 518 Xonar DX FB2k FLAC;

  • TomasPin
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #53
So I guess if you really need or like flat reproduction you either go for speakers or use something like Accudio, and I'm finding hard to believe what this one promises to do (or how it achieves it).

If more people knew (or cared to know) about equalization and how to properly use it this wouldn't be much of a problem.

Edit: added link.
  • Last Edit: 29 July, 2013, 12:36:50 PM by TomasPin
A man and his music: http://tubular.net/

  • mzil
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #54
^What "people"? Headphone forum members? Advertisement funded, "High-end" magazine reviewers? Might such people suffer from expectation bias and "group think" in regards to their sighted evaluations of what they undoubtedly might dismiss as being "cheap headphones" by their standards?

Sighted reviews are just as scientifically worthless with headphones as they are with anything else in audio. It's no different.


There is a relevant difference.

Whether or not there are audible differences between amplifiers, DACs, high bitrate codecs, etc. has a fairly consistent null outcome. Definitely true for the ones we consider to be good. Measurements and what we know about psychoacoustics confirm this.

Whether or not there are audible differences between loudspeakers, headphones, earphones etc. has a fairly consistent positive outcome.  Measurements and what we know about psychoacoustics confirm this.

Audio is not the "It all sounds the same" world portrayed above. Some things matter, and some things don't. Welcome to the real world! ;-)


Huh? "Audio is not the 'It all sounds the same' world portrayed above."  Yikes, I hope you don't think I was portraying that in the world of Audio, "it all sounds the same" ! You'd be seriously reading into things if that's what you took away from what I wrote. I wasn't trying to say anything even remotely close to that. My point was that expectation bias can potentially influence any sighted test, even ones where we would all generally agree that there should be audible differences between the various gear, such as with different headphones or loudspeakers.

[Take Flyod Toole and Sean Olive's AES published papers on loudspeaker listening tests, for example. They are blind, not sighted evaluations.]:


Quote
There is a relevant difference.

Nope, this difference you cite is not relevant to the actual question I pose, "Can expectation bias possibly sway listeners in sighted test comparisons of things such as headphones?" The correct answer is: "Yes, it potentially can, even in instances where we might expect the inherent sonic differences, such as frequency response deviations, to be easily discernible to most listeners."

Expectation bias doesn't magically evaporate into thin air just because there are other known differences present which we are confident most certainly should be audible to most listeners [such as with speakers and headphones].

Consider this.  In the McGurk effect tests, we are confident people can easily discern an audible difference between the sound utterances of "Bah" and "Fah", beforehand, going into the test, yet if the test is not conducted in a blind manner, then the test listener is indeed swayed, biased, into perceiving sounds that are merely false illusions of the actual sounds, due to a bias caused by a visual stimulus (lip motion).

[ It also doesn't get eliminated simply by being a world renowned expert on how bias can influence a sighted test. Just ask Dr. Lawrence Rosenblum, who says he himself is still easily susceptible to the McGurk effect, a form of bias, even though he (having studied it for over 20 years), is well aware of this bias and tries his best not to be swayed by it!]

This link I've prepared should take people directly to 2m03s into the video, where he discusses how his advanced knowledge of this bias still doesn't protect him from its influence:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-lN8vWm3m0#t=123s" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-lN8vWm3m0#t=123s
</a>.

Here is the same video, but from the start, for other readers who might not already be familiar with this form of bias, which influences our perception of sound more strongly than the actual sound itself[/i]:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-lN8vWm3m.0
  • Last Edit: 29 July, 2013, 01:30:33 PM by mzil

  • mzil
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #55
Producing a non-mainstream (read balanced) headphone means that the producer has to sell it for a higher price to offset the lower sales (and still pay off the R&D costs of the particular model). But this could also drive the headphone's price out of the mainstream and normal people would not consider buying it.

The Sony MDR-V6/7506 is one of, if not the best selling circumaural headphones of all time [ been in continuous production for several decades], sold both on the consumer market as well as the professional market, yet they don't cost very much and have a fairly balanced, accurate response.

I've used both them, as well as other neutral response headphones (some costing $400 USD), for many years, and wouldn't consider buying anything but a neutral headphone. I want to hear the actual recording and not an adulterated, skewed version of it. [On the rare occasion I need/want EQ, I judiciously apply it electronically, tweaking it to my precise tastes and loving that I can easily reverse it at the touch of a button.]
  • Last Edit: 29 July, 2013, 01:34:29 PM by mzil

Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #56
My point was that expectation bias can potentially influence any sighted test, even ones where we would all generally agree that there should be audible differences between the various gear, such as with different headphones or loudspeakers.


No where in the post I was replying to (post #44) was the above said.

Furthermore, expectation bias can potentially influence any blind test. Listeners who who are highly biased to not hear differences will not hear differences, even if in the same test normal listeners do hear a difference.  Examples of this kind of bias include listeners who can't hear the difference due to ear damage, lazy listeners, tests done in a poor environment, or poor listener training.  Sometimes we don't know why our test is biased this way, and we are in the land of "You can't know what you don't know".

So if your rule is "Throw out the tests where expectation bias can influence the test", then we have very little.


  • mzil
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #57
My point was that expectation bias can potentially influence any sighted test, even ones where we would all generally agree that there should be audible differences between the various gear, such as with different headphones or loudspeakers.


No where in the post I was replying to (post #44) was the above said.

What part? I never did explicitly say in that post that I indeed agree with the general consensus that there are audible differences between headphones/speakers, did I? You got me there. [I had just assumed that would be implicitly obvious.] Regarding the other part of that sentence ["My point was that expectation bias can potentially influence any sighted test"], I would think that would be pretty clear from my flat out dismissal of sighted tests as being "scientifically worthless" [due to their bias], when I wrote:

Quote
"Sighted reviews are just as scientifically worthless with headphones as they are with anything else in audio. It's no different....Namely, they are dubious for the same following reasons they are for typical (uncontrolled) amplifier comparisons:

- no level matching using instrumentation
- no way to preclude expectation bias due to both sight [and in the case of headphones, also "feel", against one's head/ears]".


If you feel you get something out of using such sighted headphone reviews, then by all means, feel free to use them. Most people do, I guess. I consider them a waste of my time.

Quote
So if your rule is "Throw out the tests where expectation bias can influence the test", then we have very little.

There's plenty for my needs out there without using sighted forum/magazine reviews. I've made dozens of audio purchases, including many headphones, over the past several decades and in over 90% of them I have relied solely on raw, objective data from independent test facilities and never by subjective reviews, unless they are blind and use precise level matching, utilizing external instrumentation [so, pretty much, never].
  • Last Edit: 29 July, 2013, 03:53:48 PM by mzil

  • Hifisound
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #58
Thanks all for the responses

I think I will mostly go for V6 or 7506  (as I am planning to keep my HD600 so price of v6/7506 is also good)
Except in a rare case where I may go for AKGK550/551 for better comfort and isolation.
One last question, do V6 and 7506 have any audible differences? Their FR graphs on headphone.com are slightly different
I will also then buy the Beyer EDT250 velour pads which fit v6/7506 too.

Thanks again everybody.

  • LithosZA
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #59
Quote
One last question, do V6 and 7506 have any audible differences? Their FR graphs on headphone.com are slightly different

Strange, they should be the same. Maybe there is someone here with both who can tell us if there is an audible difference.

  • db1989
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #60
Well, isn't it a vicious cycle? Producing a non-mainstream (read balanced) headphone means that the producer has to sell it for a higher price to offset the lower sales (and still pay off the R&D costs of the particular model). But this could also drive the headphone's price out of the mainstream and normal people would not consider buying it.
My point was that intrinsic EQing of headphones/speakers can become a vicious cycle, yes. As TomasPin said, if people realised that flat response is a good thing and there are EQs for personal preference, that would make a lot more sense. Also, if music were mastered properly, people might not feel a need to EQ it all over the place. I suspect a lot of the bias against flat response is just due to entrainment with popular music that is deliberately mastered to punch the listener in the face, rather than to have any kind of fidelity. Related to how so much music now just consists of people incessantly shouting, perhaps?

  • mzil
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #61
I think I will mostly go for V6 or 7506  (as I am planning to keep my HD600 so price of v6/7506 is also good)

I keep both around as well. The two aren't identical but the Sony tracks the Sennheiser quite closely, within an impressively tight 2 to 3 dB window, all the way from the lowest bass up until the upper treble where they then diverge:

Besides being a fraction of the price, the Sony are just a tad more comfortable, at least to my head [less clamp force, not that I find that to be annoying with the HD600], easy to drive [straight to my cellphone it will play deafeningly loud with no amp needed], they collapse into a tidy ball for coat pocket or backpack pouch storage [great for travel or location monitoring], and I prefer their screw on 1/4 inch adapter they come fitted with over the HD600's plug in type [it seems to stay on better in my experience]. The isolation is better on the Sonys, but not by a lot, and don't expect them to provide "airplane noise" sort of isolation. You'll need other 'phones for that.

I admit I use the Beyer EDT250 pads as well, both for comfort and better longevity [albeit with a much greater replacement cost when they do finally go] but keep in mind you are then listening to a modified V6/7506. They sit farther from the ear and produce a different sized air cavity. You can easily hear how changing this distance to the ear by just a few millimeters will alter the FR by pressing your existing headphones inward, by say 2 mm per side, while listening to pink noise:

Pink Noise

My point is: do try the stock pads before switching to the Beyer, to evaluate if the change is acceptable, and certainly don't throw the originals away!

Quote
One last question, do V6 and 7506 have any audible differences? Their FR graphs on headphone.com are slightly different

Keep in mind the two have been in production over several decades (completely unheard of in anything else Sony has ever made, not just headphones). Over that time there have been Sony spec sheets that claim they use different magnets, and others that state they use the same! The stated frequency response of the two has almost always been different, but without any stated level deviation [e.g. " +/- 5dB"] they are meaningless anyways and should be ignored, [True of most headphone makers, by the way].

A problem with dummy head headphone measurements is that their exact placement position is done by sight, not feel, which is what us humans actually use when positioning headphones precisely on our own heads. This causes some problems, which indeed alters the sound from one measurement session to the next, even when measuring the exact same headphone pair. Most testers attempt to reduce this error by taking a series of several measurements and slightly nudging the headphones a bit up/down/forwards/backwards/centered, between takes, and then using an average of these (say five) measured curves. This is not ideal, but better than nothing.

There will be some slight variations in sequential runs even with no position tweaking. It's just the nature of microphone measurements even when using top-flight gear.

Besides the gold plated headphone tip, which doesn't matter, I'd advise you to think of them as the same and buy whichever is less expensive at the time.

P.S. There is a rumor that there are counterfeit versions out there which of course should be avoided, if true. It may just be a paranoid rumor some dude planted in the forums that then snowballed, who knows, when he noticed his new pair wasn't made in Japan, like his original 1990's pair was. I would stick with only well-known, long time authorized Sony Dealers [ex. B&H in NY] as a safeguard.
  • Last Edit: 30 July, 2013, 04:22:19 PM by mzil

  • rexit2
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #62
I used to own a pair of Sony V6 headphones. The band wore out, as well as the ear pads, after 5 years of use. I replaced them with Sennheiser HD280s, which were promptly stolen along with my laptop soon after my arrival in Shanghai.

Soon after, I bought a pair of px200s, that fell apart after a year of use. Garbage product, poor isolation, weak low end response, especially in noisy places.

Compared to the V6 my original HD280s had better isolation, strong low end response, and more detail.
 
After that, I bought a replacement pair of HD280s in HK in 2008 that were made in Ireland.

My current HD280s seem to have the honky mids that some people complain about, more so than what I "remember" from my original HD280s.

Wanting something more portable, I made an impulse purchase, the TDK WR700, the "Kleer" wireless transmission was great until the transmitter suffered an untimely death.

I now use a pair of MX580 ear buds that are quite good (for the price), mostly because of the foam pads, amazing the difference that makes.

Anyway, In my experience there is far more to the sound of headphones than just frequency response, other factors such as coloration, transient response, detail, and amplifier compatibility can have considerable influence.

The only way to know for sure is to compare many models side by side, sometimes even the same model can sound different because of inconsistent production standards.
  • Last Edit: 01 August, 2013, 09:56:22 AM by rexit2

Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #63
I think I will mostly go for V6 or 7506  (as I am planning to keep my HD600 so price of v6/7506 is also good)

I keep both around as well. The two aren't identical but the Sony tracks the Sennheiser quite closely, within an impressively tight 2 to 3 dB window, all the way from the lowest bass up until the upper treble where they then diverge:

Besides being a fraction of the price, the Sony are just a tad more comfortable, at least to my head [less clamp force, not that I find that to be annoying with the HD600], easy to drive [straight to my cellphone it will play deafeningly loud with no amp needed], they collapse into a tidy ball for coat pocket or backpack pouch storage [great for travel or location monitoring], and I prefer their screw on 1/4 inch adapter they come fitted with over the HD600's plug in type [it seems to stay on better in my experience]. The isolation is better on the Sonys, but not by a lot, and don't expect them to provide "airplane noise" sort of isolation. You'll need other 'phones for that.



The 7506/V6  is arguably one of the most widely used headphones in the world, especially by professionals. I bought my first pair of V6 back in the early 80s, and wore out about 2 pair of them before I started buying 7506's that seem to be a tad more robust. I'm on my second pair of 7506 and the current pair may last forever because I don't listen to them very much any more.

The 7506/V6 is therefore about a 30 year old design, and while it may have taken 20 years or so, technology seems to have moved past them at least in my experiences, because I prefer other headphones to them on the grounds of accuracy.

The frequency response curve above must be pretty close to the current reputation of 7506s because it shows  rolled off bass and a fairly large peak in the treble around 9 KHz.  The 7506 bass is very dependent on how tightly you clamp them against your head, and the curve shown suggests to me that someone was *helping* the 7506s during measurements.

Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #64
Quote
One last question, do V6 and 7506 have any audible differences? Their FR graphs on headphone.com are slightly different

Strange, they should be the same. Maybe there is someone here with both who can tell us if there is an audible difference.


You should look at them. When he says slightly different emphasize the word slightly.

http://www.headphone.com/headphones/sony-mdr-7506.php

http://www.headphone.com/headphones/sony-mdr-v6.php

I'd like to see 10 successive tests of either set of headphones started from scratch to see how the barely observable differences between the two models compare to the results of different tests of the same model headphones.

  • mzil
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #65
To me the frequency response dictates not just the tonality, it also determines the "sheen", "aggressiveness", "detail", "warmth", "brilliance", "murkiness", "tubbiness", "thump", "boominess", "clarity", "sparkle", "honkiness", "grittiness", "muddiness", bass extension, etc. Most of the other measurable performance specs of full-size headphones, such as distortion, often make hundred dollar headphones look like thousand dollar speakers. Is there room for improvement? Sure, but if you nail the frequency response down, or at least find one which is easily tolerable, then you've conquered the biggest hurdle [after comfort].*

*Although sound quality is very important in an affordable headphone, it comes second to a even more important aspect: comfort. Why would one want to own a great sounding pair of phones if they are too uncomfortable to wear for an extended period of time? Also, people with specific needs, like airplane noise suppression, sometimes have to prioritize sound isolation over sound quality, especially if they are trying to stay within a certain budget.

  • dhromed
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #66
Quote
Why would one want to own a great sounding pair of phones if they are too uncomfortable to wear for an extended period of time?


Few things I agree with so vehemently.

Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #67
To me the frequency response dictates not just the tonality, it also determines the "sheen", "aggressiveness", "detail", "warmth", "brilliance", "murkiness", "tubbiness", "thump", "boominess", "clarity", "sparkle", "honkiness", "grittiness", "muddiness", bass extension, etc.


Just to clarify "sheen", "aggressiveness", "detail", "warmth", "brilliance", "murkiness", "tubbiness", "thump", "boominess", "clarity", "sparkle", "honkiness", "grittiness", "muddiness", bass extension,  are descriptive words and phrases for different kinds of frequency response variations.  They relate to different kinds of tonality. They all lack a precise definition, but there are closely related kinds of frequency response curve segments that many people will use the same word to describe, or vice versa.
  • Last Edit: 01 August, 2013, 11:27:39 AM by Arnold B. Krueger

  • mzil
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #68
The 7506 bass is very dependent on how tightly you clamp them against your head, and the curve shown suggests to me that someone was *helping* the 7506s during measurements.

"Helping"? I don't understand. Please elaborate as to specifically what you are suggesting someone was doing. Thanks.

Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #69
Why would one want to own a great sounding pair of phones if they are too uncomfortable to wear for an extended period of time?


Because one is desperate for good sound.

Because all they need to do is listen to good sound for a little while so how they feel after an extended period of time doesn't matter.

I've been both those guys!

Bet you thought that was a rhetorical question. ;-)

  • Hifisound
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #70
I'd like to see 10 successive tests of either set of headphones started from scratch to see how the barely observable differences between the two models compare to the results of different tests of the same model headphones.


I guess it would be great to have averaged FR graphs 
Anyways, I think what you mean is the difference in graphs is well within the error margin of a particular test and hence the graphs are practically equivalent , right ?

  • Hifisound
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #71
The frequency response curve above must be pretty close to the current reputation of 7506s because it shows  rolled off bass and a fairly large peak in the treble around 9 KHz.  The 7506 bass is very dependent on how tightly you clamp them against your head, and the curve shown suggests to me that someone was *helping* the 7506s during measurements.


But isn't that large peak at 9 khz quite common for many of the closed headphones ( eg ATH-M50, HD280pro, DT770, AKG 550 ) ?


  • mzil
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #72
^Yup. Good eye, Hifi! 

Indeed, not only that, but most of the other headphones he mentioned owning have a similar peak there too, compared to their average level in the adjacent octaves:


I'll comment more on the bass once he answers my question in my last post regarding what he meant by the 7506/V6 being "helped" by (if I understood correctly) the measurement taker.
  • Last Edit: 01 August, 2013, 04:49:09 PM by mzil

  • mzil
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Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #73
One last question, do V6 and 7506 have any audible differences? Their FR graphs on headphone.com are slightly different

They don't present any actual evidence-based science to back their claims, other than sighted, anecdotal testimony which is prone to expectation bias, but cnet mentions they are "similar but slightly different", if it means anything. Their audio "guru" he mentions in the video, Guttenberg [formerly an audio store salesman and movie theater projectionist]  "prefers" the V6 in his undoubtedly sighted comparison of the two, but I know him (from his articles) to be an audio woo, subjectivist, mythology spreader, in my opinion, so certainly not exactly the kind of person I would trust on audio matters. [Not that I trust ANY sighted evaluations, not even my own.]

cnet video on MDR-V6 vs MDR-7506


...On a side note, I think I will self anoint myself as a "mega guru" and therefor my opinions on such matters will trump all other run-of-the-mill gurus.

P.S. Keep in mind , even if they had two of the exact same headphones, there will be tiny differences from serial number to serial number, and what if one of the two they tested were a few years older than the other? [having been used over that time] BAM! There's a huge difference right there! The head band clamp force would be expected to be weakened over time [especially for people who foolishly store their phones on a dummy head stand], which does change the sound (usually reducing the bass), but this is true of most circumaural, sealed headphones. There's nothing magically special about the V6/7506 which makes it especially susceptible to this sound alteration due to varying pressure, compared to other 'phones. [It's why you see so many people push their headphones inward, even when new. People just love their bass boost! Here's an image example.]

Foam pad deformation over time can also cause issues, especially in preventing a good head seal, critically important to bass reproduction. [And boy do they deteriorate over time, only lasting a few years in my experience [5-7 years, maybe] . Luckily, at around $10/pr ,the cost to fix the problem is quite affordable.]
  • Last Edit: 02 August, 2013, 02:35:22 PM by mzil

Closed Back Headphones like Senn HD600
Reply #74
The 7506 bass is very dependent on how tightly you clamp them against your head, and the curve shown suggests to me that someone was *helping* the 7506s during measurements.

"Helping"? I don't understand. Please elaborate as to specifically what you are suggesting someone was doing. Thanks.


Holding the headphones tighter to the measurement device to improve the bass response.