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subjective headphone EQ for best sound
subjective headphone EQ for best sound
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Old 16th March 2012, 04:06 AM   #1
Soldermizer is offline Soldermizer  United States
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Default subjective headphone EQ for best sound

I've returned to using my headphones as a result of a note from my neighbor who was being kept up nights by my too loud Bose 901s

Back last summer, I bought a pair (two actually) of Stax Lambda and the SRM-1 mark 2 amp for them. I am a happy customer and like all good audiophiles, tried to fiddle with the sound. I discovered this link that has a novel (?) way to EQ headphones, the best they can be, a particular model of phones for a particular listener, using purely subjective listening. If you have a PC for the plug-in(s) and/or a hardware EQ (I use a Behringer DEQ2496), you can be ultra-anal about your headphone sound. It doesn't really take a long time to get a basic EQ, mainly the hassle to make the 1/3 octave test tracks (I used the freeware PC program to make WAV files); I am sure you can get these on a test CD but I am too cheap for that.

Link to Headphone EQ thread:


Has anyone eq'ed their headphones like this? If you are a hardcore DIY, you can do like Mr. Linkwitz did and build an active EQ from scratch.


For those of us who are not EE's with 30+ years professional experience, there is the electronic EQ!

Also anyone have an easy plan for a battery powered, vacuum tube portable amp for Stax? {grin}

Last edited by Soldermizer; 16th March 2012 at 04:09 AM.
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Old 29th March 2012, 12:57 AM   #2
BlueRob is offline BlueRob  Mexico
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Wow! Just was I was looking for my Etys ER-4! well not quite, I was looking for a mere bass boost but this was an interesting read...that EQ sounds like an interesting and probably next DIY project for myself
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Old 29th March 2012, 01:17 PM   #3
rjm is offline rjm  Japan
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subjective headphone EQ for best sound
Certainly, headphone listening, more than speakers I think, is about finding something you like. A "flat" frequency response has really no reason to sound better or worse than one that isn't, there is so much going on in both the subjective (how we differently reconstruct the stereo sound when headphones don't mix L+R into each ear like speakers do, for example) and objective (slight differences in headphone placement around the ears can radically alter the frequency reponse) realms.

The L+R mixing issue has been variously addressed by Jan Meier and also by Headroom. The EQ issue, well, I suppose with digital anything is possible.

With a good amp and a good source, I find I don't have to mess with the sound. Stereo image is really excellent, and the overall tonal balance too. Trying to solve the problem - whatever it is perceived to be - at the EQ level is not worth the effort, in my opinion.

Though, if its all software, then it can't hurt to try if you are interested.
RJM Audio (phonoclone.com / G+)
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Old 29th March 2012, 01:33 PM   #4
jackh is offline jackh  United States
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subjective headphone EQ for best sound
For a real change in the way headphones image, try the Smyth Realiser
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Old 29th March 2012, 06:28 PM   #5
BlueRob is offline BlueRob  Mexico
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None the less I think it is an interesting exercise to find out the perceived frequency response (very person to person dependent) vs the stated by the manufacturers, in my case Etymotic.

Having this EQ will get us close ensuring what we are listening with an specific pair of IEMs / cans is as faithful as the recording was made. Which at the end is the main goal here, it not simply to listen good quality but try to listen as accurate as it can, witch in fact my be all in all a very subjective thing since we were not present in the time of the recording....having a "flat" perceived response I think will get us closer in that field...unless something mayor escapes me here.
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Old 30th March 2012, 04:27 PM   #6
ethanolson is offline ethanolson  United States
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Interesting reads here. I'm not a fan of the measurement process of headphones because there are too many errors and the HRTF is something I have reason to mistrust. I wish they'd just take a santoprene sleeve over a mic and stick it to the earpiece to get the measurements. It'd be so much more meaningful.

Anyway, I've been having a hard time finding a good EQ solution. I wish I could have an analog EQ that is actually compact. I also wish I could have a software EQ that covers everything my computer puts out so I can have the EQ on YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Cloud Player, etc.
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Old 31st March 2012, 07:18 PM   #7
BlueRob is offline BlueRob  Mexico
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I would like to post my discoveries on the matter so far. I downloaded a sine wave generator and began the test on my Etys Er-4p. Everything was smooth until 8500 Hz or so that revealed a high peak. Around 9500 Hz the things went back on track until another peak was found at the end of the high frequencys around 16000 Hz.

Then I focused on the first 8500 peak and found out that it was a 9-10 db difference.

After that I loaded some white noise and the parametric Eq and lowered one db at a time on that frequency...for one part it was very difficult to hear where the excessive hiss was gone at 3 a.m. but lowering the 9-10 dbs seem to much with the white noise. I have to redo this last part and find the adequate parameters.

As an early conclusion I think that "filtering" this peak even by only 4 dbs kills most of the analytic signature and high detail of this IEMs. This seems rather awkward since Linkwitz and many others have favored this methodology.

I have to conduct further tests to give my final words...Ill keep posting my future results.

**Its important to mention that I was aiming to discover the frequencies to adjust using the computer to have a reference to build and EQ similar to the one done by Linkwitz, I don't know but maybe this is not the best way to go since sources and amplification will be different between methodologies and complicate things do to the different variables involved....**
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