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The Mighty Headphone Quest Part 4

It was recommended to me that I get a second reference point other than my own head to check for any response anomalies. Great idea. Again, super simple, I just stuck the mic inside and held the CD3000's around one of the cases that came wit the Ultrasone 900's. As you can see it is slightly different than the 'on my head reading but still darn close. As with all the readings there is a slight variation with moving the mic a bit and ear pad pressure, but all the reading stay surprisingly close and consistent for each pair of headphones. I tried this with several other pairs and they all too were consistent with the reading while on my head.

So lets have some fun and start elimination round #1 getting rid of some now that I have a good solid selection to pick from. Lets get the reference CD3000's up.

Ok, if you cant read the #'s here they are. I am putting the frequencies with lines down to them in bold

25, 32, 40, 50, 63, 80, 100, 125, 160, 200, 250, 315, 400, 500, 630, 800, 1K, 1.25K, 1.6K, 2K, 2.5K, 3.15K, 4K, 5K, 6.3K, 8K, 10K, 12K, 16K, 20K

There is 8 db between the horizontal lines (2 db per led) so as you can see this reads that the CD3000's are within an 8db range from 25hz to 12.K. Since my setup most likely is not very accurate beyond 12.5K, and for live sound EQ it is not very critical up there as we lose most of that super high stuff to air loss anyway, I am not going worry about 16K and 20K. So as our spec, we can say that we are looking for headphones equal to or better than a +- 4db 25 to 12.5K using my crude but simple measurement system.

First say bye bye to Apple ear buds as clearly they will not work for the desired live sound purpose but they are fairly flat from 125 to 12.5K

No go on the Sony XB700's because they are just not going to cut it the cables too short and their response is way off with the bass boost, big hole at 630-800 and rolling off highs.

Yikes, check out the response of the Pickering vintage OA-3 phones!

These open ear Koss PortaPro open ear phones actually sound quite good, lots of low end and I was duly impressed by the sound versus size and cost. That said, I think I want them for my portable player but they just wont work for live shows.

The Audio Technica Pro 700's had strong low end power but were midrange heavy and lacked a top end.

The extra bass Equation Audio RP22X were smoother sounding but as expected, they were low end heavy. But hey, they are the extended bass version. I think this may be a good DJ headphone at a reasonable price. Plus the 1/4 turn removable cable is a nice feature.

And here drops the first one of the big boys. This was a real surprise for me but what I heard and what I see lined up. Say bye bye to the comfy, nice iso, neatly folding Sennheiser HD380 PRO's. Deep but a bit loose sounding low end, mids a bit subdued and though they sound Hi-Fi, the holes in the upper ranges just pulled all the clarity out. They actually sounded a little similar to the RP22X but with 20 db down at 6.3K and 12 db down at 2.5K, I had to drop them from the list.

It was fun to put on the Koss 4AA cans and brought back fond memories. These durable things have a solid tight fit and some heft and though I do not recommend them for live monitoring cans they do seem optimized for speech intelligibility, so they would make good utility cans in high volume environments.

Finally for today an entry from Ultrasone, the HFI 450 pair show a smooth but gradual roll off towards the HF.

And the culling of the 'heard' has just begun. There are plenty more and some surprises ahead!

Model Disqualifier Listening notes Comments Status
AKG 271 MKII None yet
Allen & Heath XONE XD-53 None yet
Apple iPod ear buds Ear buds ULF---, LF--, Bye bye, ear buds
Audio Technica ATH W5000 None yet ULF-, HF-, UHF-
Audio Technica ATH AD700 Open Ear H-, UHF- Clear
Audio Technica PRO700 Response LF++, HM-, H- Rotating ear cups, powerful Bass heavy
Beyer DT770M None yet
Denon AH-D2000 None yet
Equation Audio RP-21 None yet Smooth, HM-, UHF+ Removable straight cable
Equation Audio RP-22X Response Smooth, LF++ Removable coily cable Bass heavy
Grado SR60i Open ear
Koss ESP-950 Open ear ULF- Tonally Close
Koss MV1 None yet MID++ Cool no tangle coily cable
Koss Portapro Open Ear LF+ Sound great!, small open ear Bye Bye, open ear
Koss Pro4AAT Response ULF-, HF-, UHF-- Cool no tangle coily cable Speech optimized
Pickering OA-3 vintage low-fi Yuck! Bye bye poor response
Sennheiser HD 25-1 II On ear
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro None yet HF- Tonally close
Sennheiser HD 380 Pro Response HM--, HI- Very smooth, LF clear Hi-Fi but dull HF
Shure SRH-840 None yet LF++, UHF- Removable cable
Sony MDR-7506 None yet ULF-, UHF- Tonally close
Sony MDR-7509HD None yet ULF-, M+, H-, UHF- Midrange heavy
Sony MDR-90 On ear ULF- Tonally close
Sony MDR-CD3000 Discontinued Ref Ref
Sony MDR-V6 None yet ULF-, UHF- Tonally close
Sony MDR-V600 None yet ULF-, UHF- Tonally close, harsh
Sony MDR-XB700 Response ULF++, LM+, UHF- Too much LF Bye bye too bassey
Ultrasone HFI-450 None yet L+, M-, H- Low heavy
Ultrasone HFI-680 None yet Smooth Tonally Close
Ultrasone HFI-780 None yet UL+, H- Low heavy
Ultrasone PRO 900 None yet UL+, LM-, M-, HM- Removable cable, Lacks mid

Alright, that's it for today.

Dave Rat


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Truden on :

Everything dynamic and very positively! :) [url=]Truden[/url]

Detlev on :

A Crown D150, Cool!!! What do you use it for? Grtz, Detlev

Anonymous on :

I have some older audio gear to use as reference points just to test if newer is truly better.

Greg Cameron on :

Hi Dave. The Koss Port-Pro's... I use to sell ASS LOADS of those back when I worked at L.A. Tronics in the 80's after I left Rat in the poor days. They sold themselves and I think I made $10 a pair. I still have a set though the foam has long since disintegrated. The only thing I notice with them is that the low end starts to modulate the upper frequencies when you get them cranking. Sound familiar? ;-)

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