• 12-23-2003, 01:34 PM
    JSE
    Headphones, How do they.........?
    Create such a dynamic sound. Work is slow today so I have been playing some CDs on my computer and listening with a pair of cheap headphones. Even this cheapo pair creates a lot of bass and great mids and highs. How are headphones able to do this when they have such small drivers. Obviously being so close to your ear has something to do with it, but that does not explain their dynamic range. I have never really use headphones before other than with a CD player or similiar. Just bored an curious.

    I am thinking maybe I should invest in a decent set for home use.

    JSE
  • 12-23-2003, 03:39 PM
    Smokey
    Headphone output.
    Back in the early 90's, most CD players used to have headphone output. Pair this output with a set of good headphone and you be in heaven :)
  • 12-23-2003, 03:47 PM
    pelly3s
    If you are interested in a good pair of headphones the Sony 7506's are great for the price... around just about $100 give or take a few.
  • 12-23-2003, 04:09 PM
    JSE
    Smokey,

    I actually have an older Sony CD player from about 90 or 91. I may hook it up and give it a try. I think it has headphone jack like you mentioned but I am not sure it even works anymore.

    Thanks pelly32 for the suggestion. I have not even began to look at headphones. Maybe after the new year.

    So, can anyone explain how and why they work so well? I guess not having to fill a large space like loudspeakers with sound makes it a lot easier and requires much less power and sheer size.

    Any thoughts?

    JSE
  • 12-23-2003, 04:41 PM
    pelly3s
    I had an article somewhere on why headphones sound the way they do.... i can't find it though. It has a lot to do with the fact that the sound is directed into your ear and has no other place to really go.
  • 12-23-2003, 05:55 PM
    This Guy
    haha i asked the same Q...
    about 6 months ago, although I can't find the thread cause everytime I search for a discussion in this new forum it brings me to the digital camera review site. But it's basically cause they're so close to your ear, they don't need big speaker drivers to fill a room with bass-mids-and highs, just that small space between the headphone drivers and your ears. I wish I could describe it in more detail, but a guy named Haoleb that used to go t this site explained it quite well. I too find it really amazing how headphones sound so good, can't wait to get my Grado SR-60's!

    -Joey
  • 12-24-2003, 05:37 AM
    joel2762
    ...
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by JSE
    Smokey,

    I actually have an older Sony CD player from about 90 or 91. I may hook it up and give it a try. I think it has headphone jack like you mentioned but I am not sure it even works anymore.
    JSE

    Hey, I have an old Sony from '88! Skips easily! Sometimes doesn't work perfect. As pelly3s mentioned a pair of Sony headphones. I have a pair of folding Streetstyle Sony's. Cost me almost $60 canadian! Great sound though I must say! Neodium magnets--Highs are verrrry nice and crisp! I was also wondering the same thing the other day...How do headphones do that? Such small drivers can prduce even low frequencies!!
  • 12-24-2003, 06:01 AM
    skeptic
    Headphones have several big advantages over loudspeakers. The environment they will operate in and the way the are directed at and coupled to the human ear is under complete control of the designer. The sound levels required are very low compared to loudspeakers. This has enabled headphone designers to create phones with very flat and wide frequency response and very low distortion. There are several drawbacks to them however. Because the sound moves with the motion of your head, is sounds like it is coming from inside your head. The best sounding phones seem to me to be the ones with around the ear cushions that seal against your skin. This creates the best bass and also isolates you from outside noise and distractions. These can get hot and uncomfortable after some time though. You will not feel the deep bass against your body that you get from good subwoofers. On the other hand you can listen at any level you want at any time of day or night without bothering other people and of course they are portable so you can take them with you wherever you go. Personally, I have a couple of pairs of Sony MDR V6 bought on Consumer Reports recommendation after listening to a neighbor's pair and at $67 a pair, I've been very satisfied with them for about 12 years.
  • 12-24-2003, 08:23 AM
    JSE
    Thanks guys for the replies. I think I will do some research and get a decent pair. I will start with the Sonys and Grados. They seem to offer some reasonably price phones that should sound awesome. I would like to keep it less than $100 and less than $75 would be even better.

    This Guy, let us know how those Grados under the tree work out.

    Hey, I see Bose makes some really expensive ones. Just Kidding! :D

    JSE
  • 12-24-2003, 08:29 AM
    joel2762
    Ha.
    Yeah I've seen those Bose ones. I bet they're no better than a pair from the dollar store :p ....Check out the Sony 'phones. I find that mine have a really nice durable cord that won't break inside. Also very bendable without breaking! Good luck!
  • 12-24-2003, 08:43 AM
    skeptic
    The Bose headphones have a noise cancelling circuit that has a built in microphone in each earphone and generates a signal 180 degrees out of phase with it to minimize ambient noise. This can be used with or without a source of music or speech such as a walkman or dc player. It is most useful traveling on trains, planes, or in crowds.
  • 12-24-2003, 10:00 AM
    JSE
    Hey Skeptic,

    "The Bose headphones have a noise cancelling circuit that has a built in microphone in each earphone and generates a signal 180 degrees out of phase with it to minimize ambient noise"

    I saw that. I notice Sony has similiar technology as well. I'll check it out but I will most likely use them at home so I am not sure it would be worth the extra money for me. I want to keep it simple and relatively cheap.

    Happy Holidays!

    JSE
  • 12-24-2003, 10:06 AM
    RGA
    Cheapst way to get high end IMO. The limitation is of course soundsage(you can view it as there isn't one or you're on stage with the artist). If you view it as the latter then good cans are like the singer sitting on your lap blowing the song into your face.

    I have a 10 year old set of Sony MDR 750s(a sealed highly review) can that ws considered ony's best. My other can is the Sennheiser HD600 an open air design that requires a headphone amp(can't just run it off a portable cd player - well not very well anyway). The Sennheiser is slightly more money taking into todays dollars(inflation etc). Both are equally comfortable though the Sony is much hotter limiting their use to colder climates or time of the year...otherwise you'll sweat.

    The Sennheiser is a more neutral headphone(can) and boast a response of around 4hz to well beyond 20khz. Often considerd the best headphone available under a grand, is the reference headphone in most classical recording studios and magazines such as Stereophile. But beyond that they actually sound fantastic too :p

    The HD580 can be had under $150.00 and is close to the HD600...Was basically the previous reference standard and probably offers the better value.

    The Sony doesn't really compare unless you listen to rap where its mid-bass hump can add false weight. Pedal Organ, vocals, strings, winds, brass, dynamics etc and the Senn wins.

    I also like the headphone that surrounds your ear and does not sit on your outer ear...comfort is the main reason and sound possibly.

    The Senns are not as portable because people can hear what you're listening to being open air designs. The advantage of course is you can hear the phone or doorbell etc.

    Simple solution - get one of each.
  • 12-24-2003, 02:22 PM
    woodman
    There's one very big reason why headphones sound as good as they do that so far hasn't been mentioned. That is, they free you from the acoustic anomalies of every listening space and how they alter (usually degrade) the accuracy of sounds reproduced within it. When the effects of the room are removed, a greater sense of clarity is relatively easy to achieve - even with the very small transducers found in headphones.
  • 12-24-2003, 02:50 PM
    spacedeckman
    Woody is right, but even he didn't go far enough
    With the teeny tiny amount of air space inside the headphone cup, you are nearly direct coupled to your eardrums. The diaphragm needs to move just a tiny bit of air to create tremendous bass, and the same diaphragm can move very rapidly which gives you airy highs. As woody mentioned, their is no acoustic changes due to the room, nor are their acoustic losses due to having to pressurize and rarify the entire room. Sort of like the advantages of bass in a car, only better...and a heck of a lot cheaper.

    The mentioned Sonys sound really good and are really comfortable. The Grados sound even better, but aren't as comfortable (I own SR80s). When life is really good, I hook up my vintage Stax. They need to be hooked up to an amplifier's outputs, so they can't be used with a portable, but if you want a true slice of heaven, it doesn't get any better.
  • 12-24-2003, 08:44 PM
    RGA
    Find a set of used or discounted HD 580s or 600s. The Grado SR 60 or 80 would be my choice under $100.00. But save a few extra months and get the best. You'll need a Headphone amp, or plugged into a receiver or amp with a headphone jack.

    http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/sennheiser_hd600.htm
  • 12-25-2003, 08:26 AM
    Geoffcin
    In case anyone got a few bucks for the holidays there's a pair of SONY MDR-R10s on AudiogoN right now. Only $3495...a steal!

    Back in the day I had a set of professional Stanton headphones. I can't remember the model #, and I don't know if they were even offered as a consumer product. The only reason I was able to get them is that I worked for the company! As I remember the specs were 20-20k +/- 2db. Also they were rated @ 110dB with less than 1% distortion. The driver was a super-powerful neoymidium magnet and flat mylar sheet. (planar tech?). The cups were made from billet machined aluminum. Of course I BROKE them within a year or so, but I wound up chasing that sound to this day.
  • 12-25-2003, 08:52 AM
    This Guy
    Just got my
    Grado SR-60's! These are some nice cans. These kind of give me a reference of what the recording should sound like. Looks like I have to do some tweaking on my HT. For $70, you really can't spend any better money on audio equipment. These cans are an open air design and if you have them on at modest volume someone across the room can hear them clearly. This isn't a problem in my case and I like the sound of them very much. They work pretty well out of my computers sound card, but sound a little better strait from my receiver. If you don't mind loud headphones these are great, otherwise I'd opt for a closed senheiser model.

    -Joey
  • 12-27-2003, 06:22 PM
    WmAx
    ["The Sennheiser is a more neutral headphone(can) and boast a response of around 4hz to well beyond 20khz. "

    If you are referring to comparison against the Sony MDR-7506(aka mdr-v6), I can see how you can percieve this. However, without actual reference to the true/original source, and feeding the headphones with a linear source, can you really know? I have undertaken the challenge of this, and using measurement/instrumentain mics(1db tolerance up to 18khz) and recording and listenig to the original acoustic sources(voices, instrments, etc.), i have compared various headphones. The Sennheiser did not stack up as well as the MDR-7506, IMO. The 7506 soundes almost just like the original acoustic source(tonality), when pulling the headphones off and putting them back on in A/B comparison. The Sennheiser HD-580(sound almost exactly like the HD-600)just did not sound as close too me(I used known recordings instead of live feed becuse the 580 is open back-- that I was familiar made with linear mics in order to compare the 580 to the 7506: the 580 sounded signficantly different from 7506, but the 7506 sounded almost just like the origial live feed(even though i do find the lower bass to be exaggerated) , therfor a signficant deviaitn is assumed to be negative in this comparision). But I will agree, that the HD-600 may sound more nuetral in unreferenced circumstances. See, I used linear/known feeds and recordings, where as when you are using a commercial recording, you don't knw what alterations have taken place to the recording(EQ, non-linear mics, odd mic plaement, etc.). Personally, I find the 7506 to not be very enjoyable to listen to, despite it's accuracy to the live feeds. I chose a different headphone for listening pleasure(Sony MDR-CD3000, with some acoustic modifications--sound much more 'nuetral' then the 7506 on commercial recordings, at least with acoustic modification). We should not so quickly confuse percieved accuracy/nuetrality with actual nuetrality. This is dependant on so many variables. When I design speakers, or when i shop for headhpnoes, etc. --- my objective is PERCIEVED accuracy on a set of my favorite recordings. I try not to confuse this with what sounds most realsitic under linear/objective conditions, since these conditions do not exist in our typical listenig conditions(no standards exist to regulate recording techniques/linearity) using commercial recordings.

    "Often considerd the best headphone available under a grand, is the reference headphone in most classical recording studios and magazines such as Stereophile. But beyond that they actually sound fantastic too :p "

    I won't disagree that they sound fantastic, this is a purely subjective issue. However, the MDR-7506 is one of the most widely used standards in broadcast and sound studios. Many sound engineers feel the same as I do, about the accuracy of the 7506 relative to the original live feed. This includes the once popular John Dunlavy, an accomplished objectivist loudspeaker engineer, known for his dedication to accurate signal replication.

    -Chris
  • 12-28-2003, 11:48 AM
    RGA
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WmAx
    I won't disagree that they sound fantastic, this is a purely subjective issue. However, the MDR-7506 is one of the most widely used standards in broadcast and sound studios. Many sound engineers feel the same as I do, about the accuracy of the 7506 relative to the original live feed. This includes the once popular John Dunlavy, an accomplished objectivist loudspeaker engineer, known for his dedication to accurate signal replication.
    -Chris

    Trouble with the whole notion of accuracy that I have fgone over and over is accurate to what? Live, the recording, the way an instrument DID sound on the recording or SHOULD sound to the perception of the listener? PMC speakers are used in a lot of recording studios and I like them...I would not want them in my home to listen to music for long periods however. Lots of totally different speakers in totally different rooms some of which are terrible are touted as recording studio speakers. One listen to the recording tells me they should not have been used as the so-called "reference." I always wonder why the RE's choice in a speaker for a recording studio ssuddenly implies that that speaker is "better." The choice may have been made because the speaker maker GAVE them the speaker for free s they can advertise "see we make speakers in recording studios." I have the highly reviewed MDR 750 (no 6 at the end). They are a closed can rather big (something in looks to the old War time pilots). Leather and very comfortable. They're an excellent headphone no doubt about it and Sony does not get the credit they deserve here likely because they make so much crap and their speakers are atrocious that people assume their headphones will be junk too. Not so.

    For instance I'll take my Sonys over the Grado's up till you get to the RS2(which is underrated).

    The Sennheiser 580 and 600 do not have perfectly flat response but the treble region once again is my biggest beef with speakers and again on heaphones and few do it as well as the Senns. Like speakers there is no perfect headphone and Sennheiser has made compromises just like everyone else.

    The Stax Lambda pro is a faster can and slightly more detailed in the mid band but has no bass or dynamic weight. The grados and my Sonys offer a huge punch and probably better suited to amplified music than acoustic instruments. The Sennheiser draws some sort of line between those two, which is more what I meant by balanced. Not as strident as the Grados. Some would then call the Senns laid back so it depends on where you stand.

    A lot of stuff is used in recording studios and are references. The Senns boast that they are in 80% of classical recording studios...since classical recordings are typically the best recordings on the market then I would presume they're certainly accurate enough to whatever definition of accurate you want to try and use. They should measure pretty close to flat otherwise there is no way Stereophile would give the 600 the tag as the best headphone available. They measure everything to death after all. I have seen too many widely varied measurements on the cans over the years...and since they don't tell me anything about whether I can actually listen to them for hour on end the measurements become irrelevant. Either they are enjoyable to listen to or they're not. Some speakers with great measurements sound terrific and some with less than fantastic measurements sound every bit as enjoyable if not more so. The B&W N805 meausres better(for what that's worth) than the Reference 3a MM deCapo. I like them both a whole lot. If I had to buy one I choose the latter despite its flaws, it SOUNDS more natural than the N805. The N805 may be more accurate to the recording...maybe the De Capo compensates for bad recordings. But since most recordings are bad...a compensation if it's done well can be good. Some would say use an EQ. But these are very costly for anything decent and a pain to use every single song.

    But indeed, I was not trying to slight the Sony's...I listened to their upper models and the 7506 may have been one of them(I bought the 600 2 and half years ago and listened to ALL of the major players from $200.00 to 1kCdn. Beyer, Sony, Grado etc.

    The 580 and 600 came out on top for what I listen to and of course comfort alone knocked many out of the running.
  • 12-28-2003, 02:38 PM
    WmAx
    "Trouble with the whole notion of accuracy that I have fgone over and over is accurate to what? Live, the recording, the way an instrument DID sound on the recording or SHOULD sound to the perception of the listener?"

    I was very specific. Accurate relative to the direct comparison to the original acoustic source. Direct comparision to a live feed using measurement micrphones(that have a linear amplitude response), standing approximately at the same distance and position as the mics are placed, comparing the sound on the headphone directly with the actual unamplified original source(s). As I stated previously, I don't personally like the headhpone for listening to recordings; but is an excellent monitor device, regardless. I did not find such accuracy from the Sennheiser 580.

    As far as measuring headphones..... not so fast.... you have to account for the head transfuer function and the effect the ear structure/canal has on the response. A direct measurement of the headphone would be useless if you did not accoiunt for these factors. As far as seeing an amplitude plot.... I have seen on from the Senn HD600 -- flat is certainly not the right word.... a slope downward as you rise in frequency, by more than just a few decibels.

    "The Stax Lambda pro is a faster can and slightly more detailed in the mid band but has no bass or dynamic weight. The grados and my Sonys offer a huge punch and probably better suited to amplified music than acoustic instruments. The Sennheiser draws some sort of line between those two, which is more what I meant by balanced. Not as strident as the Grados. Some would then call the Senns laid back so it depends on where you stand"

    I would avoid using such subjective descriptions; they are largely useless to anyone except the person actually talking about them. I shared my experiences with micing/monitoring with headphones from a linear feed; the Sony 7506 sounded very close to the sound sources being miced..... other headphones i have tried so far have not had the similarity, including the HD580.

    -Chris