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Chasing Gremlins

It sure is tough to stay happy, healthy and also sane all at the same time. Surfing helps, audio nerdery helps, actually going to the market and buying edible food helps. And most recently I started running in mornings till it got all soggy out there. Three songs on a random play list till I make the U turn. I really love not knowing how far or long the run will be as I head to the mystery turning point yet to be determined. Some days are 20 minute jogs and some are 40 and it is a great pre surf way to start the day.

Ha! Though I did not find much gear wise at NAMM to get excited about, I did find Keith Morris!

Wow, has it really been over 30 years since I first met him with Black Flag rehearsing at the church in Hermosa. Yikes!

I have been doing my best to try and get my head around making some more youtube video's. There are so many concepts in the sound world that just do not translate when put into words and articles yet when demonstrated in a way that it can be seen and heard, it all comes together. So my goal is to come up with some simple clear demo's on various sound subjects and also try and debunk a few absurdities I see floating around.

I have spent an enormous amount of time over the past decade working on the MicroWedge series of monitors. There are a lot of wedges out there with various feature sets yet my experience indicates that most monitor wedge designs miss the most critical point. Monitors spend much of their working lives near open mics trying to get loud without feeding back. While monitor tuning can not be effectively eliminated with today's technology, I believe it is a huge asset to have wedges that actually get really loud and sound great right out of the box. So I have spent all this time and effort getting MicroWedges to to do exactly that and yet I really have had no way of easily demonstrating that advantage without personally doing side by side demo's next to other wedges. So what I did was get the today's best of the best, top requested world class monitors to compare: a D&B Audiotechnik M2 and an L-Acoustics 115XT HiQ and did my best to do an unbiased comparison demo video:

Also, in my quest for the best live sound headphones I keep running across some pretty interesting concepts and my curiousness inspires me to do a bit of credibility checking.

And if you are in the mood for a dabble into some babble and passionate claims of deep unsubstantiated knowledge -

Oh, and I am still seeking the ideal live sound headphones and will have another installment as soon as a few more pairs arrive. It is looking more like an ongoing adventure rather than a "find a winner" scenario. The V6, 7506's and Sennheiser HD280's are nice units but I am considering them to be the baseline ones to beat. The Sennheiser HD25II's and Sony MDR V600's both look quite good on the RTA but they just do not have the power and clarity I am getting out of the Ultrasone HFI-680's and Denon AH-D2000. But don't take my word on that, as I am pondering a way to test and demonstrate it rather than merely offering an opinion. So far I have been eliminating based on frequency response, which I believe to be a valid first step. Hey, if the phones can't reproduce all the frequencies at a relatively similar volume, can they really provide an accurate reference point? The tricky part now is to find a simple clear test that clearly demonstrates the sonic issues I am hearing.

Thank you Maija. And the movie is produced by super cool surf friend, Takuji!


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Jeremy Blasongame on :

I've been enjoying your series of posts on your headphone quest, I have 2 short questions if I could pick your brain for a moment. Many guys stick with headphones for years in the same way that many studio guys still mix only on NS10s. Do you feel it's more important to find headphones that deliver the best possible sound or simply develop an intimate knowledge of what you're using so that you know how it's going treat the incoming signal? Second, have you found any headphones that score high on noise isolation?

Dave Rat on :

Hmmm, Hello Jeremy! Well, balancing familiarity with using a tool that offers the most accurate response is a trade off. I would say that using the most accurate tool possible is the way to go and when switching, bring both for a while to acclimate. Sony V6's are pretty good cans for tame signals, though I find that they lack the upper highs and if I cue up a sub synthesizer I get nothing useful. I personally want headphones that have a frequency range comparable to what I can get out of a top PA rig. I will gladly work on ear training to acclimate to a new set. As far as isolation, I know that is high on many sound engineer's list of assets. I personally feel having accuracy is more important as I find my most critical listening is done during set changes. During the actual show, I have the PA sound as my main reference and I use headphones more for troubleshooting so tonal perfection and isolation are secondary.

dustin Bradley on :

hi, dave the direct sound ex-29 headphones seem to be comming more popular in the live sound world. i know your budget is limited, but is there a way to add these to your test phones? i would really like to know how these stand against those tested so far. thank you for this thread. as always... very interesting. :)

Dave Rat on :

Hmm, would love to test them. My primary goal is flat sound, isolation is secondary. From what I am reading about them isolation is primary and flat sound is secondary. Being that finding flat sound is so darn difficult even with headphones with flat sound as the primary focus, I have not set my sights on cans with flat sound as their secondary focus yet. That said, if anyone want to send me some would love to test them and will return them in perfect shape with a free rat shirt and some rat stickers

Maija on :

glad to remind you ~

Adam Branodn on :

I wanted to ask you a question about the Denon AH-D2000's. When I saw a previous post on the frequency response of those cans, I saw major discrepencies in the range of the cans (i.e. the noticeable "Hi-Fi" sound, having the low end boosted a little, then the drop off in mid and high ranges). But when I watched the video with the same cans, they actually seemed pretty flat. Are we to say that they are finally contenders, or is it just the way you were testing them. I am considering buying a pair, and I wanted to know your opinion.

Dave Rat on :

I switched mics to a mic with a smaller diameter for the video and was getting a bit better readings. The measurement methods I am using are pretty crude so there is some variation in the readings but given the fact that many of the headphones I am testing are so far off base, the method seems to be good enough to narrow things down. The Denon's are definitely final contenders.

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