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Do equalized headphones sound the same? Blind test

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ-iGreFi6s

Headphones in this test:

Takstar Pro 82 ($80)
Creative Aurvana SE ($60)
HiFiMan Sundara ($350)

This recordings are results of INTERACTION between headphones and artificial copy of ear. In second part of video recordings was modified by correction of frequency response to original source track (i.e. just approximately equalized to original flat response). After that recordings and original source track became almost indistinguishable. Therefore interaction between headphones and ear can be described only (or at least mostly) by frequency response.

This test is just a rough example of frequency response meaning for headphones sound quality. I was approximately equlaized headphones recordings to flat response. This recordings was made  by youtuber "oluv's gadgets" on relatively cheap measurement stand (I tried to contact him, but he didn't answer). Some subtle differences after equalization is due to not precise equalization, low S/N and high distortions caused by POST processing (it should be PRE equalized for better results). If I could make equalization directly on system output and in case of use better mic/ADC (e.g. from GRAS or Bruel & Kjaer) I'll get even better results with better signal-to-noise ratio and lower distortions. But I think even this examples are clearly shows that  sound of modern headphones determines by frequency response. All other things (THD, IMD, phase distortions etc) starts to clearly shows up only on some very bad examples of headphones. Even cheap and not so good Takstars in this test are pretty good after equalization despite I was made their high frequency distortions worse to 15 dB by post processing. I was done similar experiment with cheap in-ear headphones vs open over-the-ear vs original track with same result.

It would be very interesting to make even better recordings with better hardware/method (with reference level DAC and mic).

You may ask, why your own equalizations based on  frequency response published on some resources don't gives same good results? The answer is your perceived FR is differs from measured ones. In the next videos I plan to show how to make your INDIVIDUAL sound copy of any headphones (with YOUR pinna and ear canal resonances) by using simple DIY device and some free software. You can compare it with measured frequency responses and see how your real perception differs from measurement stand.

In the description section you can find all files from the test include original source track. If you have good sound system you can compare original source file and equalized headphones recordings and try to hear all sorts of distortions and interactions products of headphones, DAC, ADC, microphone, artificial pinna, ear channel... except of frequency response. In my opinion they are negligible.

And of course for evaluation you should use best possible DAC and headphones or speakers.

Link to download all files: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oUQCDeGkXfFszWLpSiaQxY9tzhmDCD2x/view

Link to youtube channel of audio enthusiast who made original recordings: https://www.youtube.com/c/oluvsgadgets/videos

Re: Do equalized headphones sound the same? Blind test

Reply #1
I didn't watch the video, but yes the biggest difference is frequency response and that can be adjusted with EQ.     I believe there are headphone modeling applications that can EQ one headphone to sound like another, or at least there are places where you can download curves to make your own adjustments.

If you "over EQ" (boost too much) of course, you can get distortion.

..."Audiophiles" like to talk about out "imaging" or "detail" or other non-scientific things that can't be defined or measured.  

Blind testing "tricky" because different headphones feel different.   And you can't do an ABX test.         

Re: Do equalized headphones sound the same? Blind test

Reply #2
I believe there are headphone modeling applications that can EQ one headphone to sound like another, or at least there are places where you can download curves to make your own adjustments.
Unfortunately, measurments from rtings, oratory1990, innerfidelity headphonecom don't work good for me. Each time I tried to equalize my headphones (DT990, Senn HD595, bunch of in-ears) to flat based on this resources they still sound different. Even for frequencies bellow 1 kHz. I thought it's because of other differences besides frequency response. But after this test I just realize that problem is in the method. There is a FR difference even between measurement stands and much more differences between ears. And I found a way to make individual frequency response copy of any headphones based on signal Y-splitter and our ability to hear little differences in amplitude between left and right channel. Which gave me very good results.

the biggest difference is frequency response and that can be adjusted with EQ.

It seems like it's the only difference if headphones don't have some obvious flaws.

"Audiophiles" like to talk about out "imaging" or "detail" or other non-scientific things that can't be defined or measured. 

I found interesting thing during my experiments. Some equalizations in 6-7 kHz region can make some difference in my perception of vocal location. It can became little more centered.


 

Re: Do equalized headphones sound the same? Blind test

Reply #3
I didn't watch the video, but yes the biggest difference is frequency response and that can be adjusted with EQ.     I believe there are headphone modeling applications that can EQ one headphone to sound like another, or at least there are places where you can download curves to make your own adjustments.

If you "over EQ" (boost too much) of course, you can get distortion.

..."Audiophiles" like to talk about out "imaging" or "detail" or other non-scientific things that can't be defined or measured.  

Blind testing "tricky" because different headphones feel different.   And you can't do an ABX test.         


You can with Etymotic IEMs since they all use the same shell. Audiophile terms like imaging & detail are peak ignorance, I've had to block a IEM reviewer on Reddit because i got. Fed up of him acting like made up terms like "BA bass/timbre" were fact, Got hostile when they couldn't explain why when challenged. Ignoring DBT issues with headphones i still highly doubt any audiophile could tell a K702/HD6XX from a HD800S/other £1000 headphone. Same with IEMs like the ER2SE/ER4SR to any £1000 one. Heck many admitted in many reviews they couldn't tell a ER4XR from the HD800S.
Got locked out on a password i didn't remember. :/

 
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