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Can O Worms

As much as I enjoy new adventures, it is just such a can o worms. So we have been looking for awhile to revamp the Rat Sound web site which is in dire need of a face lift. We actually have started the project twice with two different web designers and I guess a combination of cumbersome and bad luck have us still in limbo. So frustrated as I am I decide "hey, I will just catch up a bit on web site skills and dial in something till we can get her done right." Heck, just deciding what we want is a major challenge.

Anyway, so I buy a few books yesterday and dive into the sore eye screen stare while fumbling pages both paper and web. Wow, I don't know if I am happy stunned happy or just so lost in the ether world that it no longer matters. Either way, I have been using the page as a test bed and there is some really cool stuff out there, though I am not sure I really know how a lot of it works.

What I think I know is that I was able to copy bits of code and embed my twitter site using a profile widget so that my last 4 tweets are shown. Using Feedburner's BuzzBoost I was able to embed this blog, and the Rat Sound Message Board such that the most recent posts are shown and automatically updated. I found that I could create a custom Youtube video player that auto updates and drop it into the page as well. 

If all works as precariously planned there is a bucket brigade of events all now interlinked where soon after I post this blog, feedburner will grab it and generate a tweet which should be grabbed by myspace and facebook updating my status as well as send off stuff to various unknown locations related to whatever those little check boxes I was having a party clicking upon. Why you wonder, or maybe that is me wondering. I can honestly say I do not really know other than the nerdiness of seeing if it all works. To spend massive amounts of time in order to save barely any. Or perhaps I just like opening big cans of worms just to see where they go.

And I am sure that all this is just elemental kids stuff but none the less, it bends my mind in knots and I am only on day 1 though not sure how long I will last. Oh I so crave the relaxing peaceful sensation of mixing a great big giant rock show.

The Mighty Headphone Quest

Is winding down as I settle in on three so far. I have a few more still coming in but for now the Denon AH-D5000 and Denon AH-D2000

are my favorites. Big, no folding expensive headphones that truly do sound impressive. Ha, isn't that just my luck, figures that the best headphones I can find are in the Denon consumer line that Rat Sound does not even have a dealership for. Oh well, I never would let that bias the testing anyway so it is actually kind of cool. In second slot and a bit more reasonably priced are the The Ultrasone HFI-680's

and they scored really high with clean HF, solid LF and they fold up as well. And darn it, Rat did not sell those either, but the folks at Ultrasone are super cool and we worked it out a to be an Ultrasone dealer now. The Shure SRH-840's came up well as well. Spare earmuffs, removable cable and foldable, they are a bit dark sounding but robustly built and solid.

I also did stumble across something I thought was interesting. If I turn up sound in one ear and leave the other ear off on some headphones I hear some sound in the ear that is of and in other headphones I do not. Furthermore, the sound I do hear, though low volume, it is not great sounding and tends to be distant and resonant. I hope to do a test and measure it. I am thinking possible factors are with whether they use 3 or 4 wires from the connector, wire length and wire thickness used in relation to driver impedance.

Ok, so what next. Oh, here is a video I put up a while ago and what is really whacky is if you look at the comments people leave me.

Ok, I am soooo curious to see if this whole posting thing works like a domino chain or a house of cards. Oh and if you have comments or suggestions, love to hear them!

Dave Rat


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Joel D on :

Well, it seams that actually works pretty good :) Thanks for The Mighty Headphone Quest! You helped me on my next headphone choice that i actaully hold it till the quest was done... Nice job man! Congrats ;)

Alexander Chapman on :

Oh thoes crazy cats!

Maija on :

Very cool, now make me some coffee.

DK on :

Well I bought my Shure SRH840 the day before I found your blog but it still seems to be a great choice and I love them. Thanks for the videos!

Noah on :

I was looking for some quality headphones and a friend sent me in your direction. Before you reached your conclusion (thus far), I ended up testing the Denon ah-d2000 - they brought a huge smile to my face when I plugged them in - went home and found them on for $214 - far from the $350 bucks they charged at the audio store in downtown Bellevue. Anyways, ended up with a used pair from amazon for a bargain. The headphones sound amazing, feel really sturdy and the cord is great. Thanks for doing all the hard work and putting these suckers through the test.

Adam on :

Just got me some of the Ultrasone 680's. They were surprisingly flat. I could see where the spike was in the upper sections (6 to 10 k), but also I could see how acurate they are in MF and LF sections. I used them to check the positioning of my microphones from the headphones, so I know how they can react in the PA. Though it is very wrong to listen ONLY in the headphones for mixing, I find that a good representation is happening in the PA before the speakers. Very good reference cans to cue with. Thanks for the blog! Been a big help! And I am wanting to get those AH-D2000's next. I think they will turn out to win the whole quest! Hands down.

Brendan on :

Dave, have you gotten a pair of those Beyerdynamic DT 770s to test yet?

Martin Oliver on :

Hi Dave - re: hearing sound in one ear over the other in different phones, etc... - The difference may be in how much physical pressure the phones excert on your skull - you might already know this, but there are two types of hearing - air conduction and bone conduction. We test hearing by having a patient listen to a tuning fork next to their ear; when they can no longer hear it, we put it against their head behind their ear (the mastoid bone), and they should hear it again. Because of the density of bone, "bone conduction" is more sensitive tha "air conduction" (i.e.; subs work better when physically touching the ground). To sum up: If the phones are pushing against your skull, you'll hear it in both ears, even with one ear off. If you already knew this, sorry. Either way, how many people would notice that? You have amazing ears!! Martin

Martin Oliver on :

Hi Dave - a quick clarification to my previous comment; the tuning fork test things are called the Rhinne Test, and the Weber Test - Google those or "air conduction vs bone conduction". If the phones are touching your head physically hard enough for your skull bones to pick up the vibrations, the sound will be transmitted the opposite ear, through bone but also through tissue. It will be delayed, and be affected by density of the bone/tissue it's passing through before it gets to your opposite ear, which could explain why it sounds distant and resonant. (I'm not an audiologist, but I play one on the Internet). I'm not certain about any of this, but it makes sense. Martin

Dave Rat on :

Hello Martin, Well, my hearing and the complexity of the crosstalk between ears, I believe is pretty straight forward. It turns out that the headphones that use 4 wires, 2 left ear and 2 for right ear, do not have the bleed issue. Some of the 3 wire headphones are effected more than others and I believe it is directly related to the wire thickness versus the headphone impedance.

Martin Oliver on :

Hi Dave - you must get numerous comments from the peanut gallery - thanks for answering mine. I'm sure that the manufactures take into account human anatomy and physiology, and design their products accordingly. 3-wire feedback is, of course, the more plausible and provable answer.

Dave Shapiro on :

Hey Dave. I'm sure someone has already mentioned these to you, but I wanted to ask for myself because I have always been curious about them. Have you looked at audiometers, as in the headphones used by audiologists to test for impaired hearing? Sennheiser carries a couple pairs, and they are supposedly designed to be flat to measure hearing. Wouldn't they be a good choice in looking for flat, closed headphones? I wonder if Sennheiser would send you the HDA200 and the HDA280's to try out and see if they work ok. They also come in funky red left, blue right colored enclosures. Just a thought Shapiro

Dave Rat on :

I though about using and checked into a more professional measurement system but several things inspired me to avoid them. 1) The fact that so many headphones are so far from being close to flat makes me question the measurement systems used by the manufacturers. 2) I wanted to use a measurement system that anyone who wishes can fairly inexpensively "do this at home" and check my measurements, rather than try and convince people of the credibility. 3) the measurement method I used was so simple and aligned very well with real world experiences and popular live headphones show up fairly flat. So once I got to that point and found my crappy crude measurement system was an order of magnitude more refined than the responses I was seeing even on high end headphones, I just figured weeding out the really far off ones (nearly all of them) was good enough. I am really Happy with the Denon D2000 and D5000's which are my new favorites. The Ultrasone HFI 680's will be my utility pair. And I use the Sennheiser HD25 for my morning jogs.

Screamager on :

I was wondering what happened to the DT770 and the HD280 which where going on to round 3 in your previous post. Did you eliminate them due to comfort issues?

Pierre-Alexandre Sicart on :

That was great, thanks! I see you've tested and "semi- dismissed" the SRH 840. I stumbled on a couple articles that said that its baby brother, the SRH 440, was actually *more* neutral: And according to the frequency graphs I found on HeadRoom, they're ... right. Here's a comparison between the D2000 (very neutral), the SHR 840, the SRH 440, and the V6:[]=2881&graphID[]=913&graphID[]=2811&graphID[]=1513

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