First Pass "Interpreting Headphone Measurements" Seminar

First time doing a presentation is always a bit sketchy. Thankfully, Brian Hunter of was there to capture the carnage.

Thanks Brian! (I think.)

Anyway, I've uploaded a .pdf of the Power Point slides so you can follow along with the video if you'd like. It's mostly just information from the articles I've written to explain headphone measurements—and the articles are probably quite a bit better than my seminar.


Click here if you can't see the video.

Dreyka's picture

Will you be giving explanations for impulse response in your Headphone Measurements explained series?

Secondly, I know you don't measure Cumulative Spectral Decays but I was wondering if you would also include explanations for how to interpret these as both Golden Ears and Changstar use them.

The Philips Uptown SHL5905 seems to have a really fast decay on Golden Ears which is surprising considering how cheap they are.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Eventually I will write an article about impulse response. I'll think about a CSD one. I'll eventually be able to get CSD plots from my impulse response data. When that happens I'll do one for sure.
c61746961's picture

Tyll, have you considered making your IR library publicly available?, people could build custom visualizations and use the impulse data to build correction filters and whatnot.

You can already use Arta in demo mode to generate CSD plots.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Hmm. I think I have to get to the point where I'm presenting the measurement data in an on-line tool first. Then I can think about other ways to use it.
JC77's picture

I actually ate dinner while watching this! I loved this video. I can't really say much else because I would call myself an entry level audio enthusiast (not yet audiophile).

Tyll, have you thought about updating your wall of fame to more current prices? For example, the Momentums you have for around $350 while currently on Amazon (unless I'm looking at a different pair) the Momentums are closer to $160 in brown and about $180 in black.

This is my first post so I wanted to say keep up the great work!

castleofargh's picture

thank you Tyll, most of the stuff in the video, you already told us here, but it's a very nice summary and I think I'll link to this video for people asking about reading a graph from now on.
nice job, and I must say the PDF does improve the experience a lot, so good thinking there too.

tony's picture

A big thank you,

I'll have to re-view this a couple more times before taking the test in the morning. ( is there gonna be a test? )

The SquareWave explanation is insightful for me, helping me to understand the some of the Sennheiser HD800 magic.

Thaaaannnnk you for using the HD 580 in so many of you descriptions, I'm working with this series transducer in my own development work, I think I've been successful at "tuning-out" it's reputational deficiencies while inhancing some of the desirable qualities. I have "not" been successful at improving it's imaging qualities ( your SquareWave graph explanation seems to show why that is ), I probably won't waste any more time chasing it.

Your explanations of the Etymotic seems to fall into place with what I'm feeing about the device.

I've had to use a number of the Noise Headsets ( small Airplane travel ), I dread the darn things, the seals break and the experience is punitive, occasionally I'll see someone wearing the civilian versions but I doubt it to be a happy ownership. Answer: Etymotic.

I have your Measurement Page in my Bookmarks collection, I consider it a god-send.

We live in the 21st Century where we have spell check, wikipedia, google and Tyll. We live in exciting times.

If you're a Non-Profit, where is the Paypal link to donate?

Thank you for this Video dear Professor,

All this detail and reasoning helps explain your "Off the Grid", "Frozen North", "Isolation" location in Montana! How could anyone achieve this depth of data if they lived in a pressure-cooker location like Los Angeles or NY,NY? You don't seem at all worried about those pesky Polar Bears wandering around your back yard.

Tony in Michigan

Long time listener's picture

Since the subject of impulse response has come up, I'd like to mention something I've noticed. The Harmon target response is often cited as an ideal, but I've found it's not the only thing that affects perception of bass-vs-midrange-vs-treble balance -- at least in IEMs, which is what I've been listening to for the last several years. In IEMs, the impulse response seems to have a lot to do with subjective perception of frequency response.

This can be easily confirmed through listening. IEMs that, from the measurements, look like they have too much bass--the Beats Tour 2014, the Paradigm Shift E3m, and the NHT Superbuds--don't in fact sound that bassy, and the only reason I can find is their rather restrained impulse responses. The Philips TX1, on the other hand, has a more "reasonable" bass-to-treble balance, but sounds just as bassy--because of the stronger impulse response, I'm guessing.

I don't agree with the Harmon response curve; it doesn't sound right to me. Looking at it as part of a whole suite of measurements, including impulse response, makes more sense to me.

markanini's picture

Any ideas on why why a headphone like Shure SRH440 has a less impactful bass than Creative Äurvana Live! even the the bass range is EQ:ed to comparable levels?

SonicSavourIF's picture

how about doing a video showing the fifty more slides? I'd love to understand the noise measurement and square waves better. =)
Cheers and thanks for that informative video

zobel's picture

How much, do you suppose, does our ear/brain adapt to non-flat frequency responses? Considering that dips in response are less noticeable than peaks, and also knowing that when our ears are plugged with extra wax, we still hear much the same until gross blockage occurs, especially if wax build-up occurs slowly over time. If you ever have had to have your ears syringed out to get the wax build-up removed, no doubt you noticed how unnaturally sharp and bright everything sounds for an hour or two after the cleaning. Then the ear/brain re-adjusts to the new nerve data input, and things sound natural (or flat) again. It seems that the ear/brain does what the eye/brain does in filling in the missing data from the sensory nerves.

Excesses, noises, and distortions, however are going to be duly noted by the ear/brain. So it is true that headphones, and loudspeakers can still sound good with some moderate omissions in frequency response.

Thanks for pointing out, Tyll, that distortion, phase, resonances, and transient behavior are among things we can quantify that always bear on fidelity.

Good job in Chicago!

petrichor's picture

Tyll, have you heard ATH-R70x? Any plans to review them?