How do You Evaluate Mid-Range Measurements?

As J. Gordon Holt famously said, "If the midrange isn't right, nothing else matters." Please select which best describes what you see and are looking for in midrange response measurements.

Feel free to elaborate on how useful midrange headphone measurements are to you in the comments.

After submitting your vote, click here for the next poll, and here if you missed the introductory post.

How do You Evaluate Mid-Range Measurements?
Of course I get it, and again, what's wrong with a flat line?
25% (32 votes)
I get the plots, and I like the gentle upward slope of the Harman target.
48% (60 votes)
I like a "U" shaped response.
5% (6 votes)
I like a mid-strong response.
8% (10 votes)
I just look for too many wiggles; should be flat I suppose.
10% (12 votes)
So...where's the midrange exactly?
5% (6 votes)
Total votes: 126

COMMENTS
zobel's picture

I always use the un-modified (bottom) raw plot. It is easy to compare between cans on the plots from 2kHz down, but gets tougher up from there. I usually pull up some measurements for cans I have HD600, AKG K7XX, and some that are top rated like HD 800S, Mr. Speakers Ether C, for example, and blow up the frequency response charts to fill the screen for each can, each on their own tab, positioned so that I can quickly compare between charts.

For treble on the raw data, I see, in general, that response should start to rise around 2kHz to a peak roughly 10 dB higher at 3.5kHz, then roll off roughly 10 dB to 7kHz, then rise about 5 dB to 10kHz about the same level as it was at 2kHz.

Above 10kHz the response bounces radically to 20kHz where it is down roughly 10 dB from 10kHz. This section is the hardest to find good commonality between good cans,providing only a very general idea of total energy way up there.

By comparing say the HD600, which is laid back on top a bit, with the K7XX or HD800S for example, illustrates the differences in the top octave. For these old ears, keeping good energy to 15kHz is enough. Smoothness of the curve, especially with no big peaks is always good.

That's about as good as it gets for my use. It is an interesting note that if the curve retains it's general shape, it can be very good if slightly reduced in overall level up above 2kHz, as seen in the HD600 and Noontec Zoro II HD.

The last thing I check for treble is the 300Hz square waves, comparing them as above.An overshoot at the leading corner of the wave should be between .005 and .01 volts higher than the top of the square. After a couple small wiggles, the second half of the top of the wave should be smooth. By this example, I think I would like the Mr. Speakers Ether C with the two black filters best, but not sure.

The Noontec Zoro II HD has a nicely shaped 300hZ square wave, just a bit angled down on the left showing a slight roll off in the top octave, but smooth. That along with Tyll's recommendation, made me trust that they would be good, and yep they are. Looking at the HD800S Square wave, it is very quick to flatten and smooth after an appropriate overshoot. By comparison, the Mr. Speakers Ether C - no filters, looks a bit hot maybe.

The bass is easy to see, as are the mids in level compared to bass, and smoothness overall, up to 2kHz.

The HD800S, just from your charts, looks good, with bass way better than the HD600, and a bit better than the HD800, with the treble tamed a lot over the HD800, but still slightly hot at 7kHz, and making the HD600 look rolled off on top.

Yep just the raw data for now works when you can do these comparisons. I have a feeling that Tyll is close to having a good compensated curve, with so many great cans measuring so close to each other.

ADU's picture

If you have the ability to mathematically average the response curves of different headphones together, you'll find that even though the fluctuations are greatest in the treble, the average raw response in that area on the better headphones is always a softly descending curve much like you describe above, with a series of peaks at around 2.7-3.5 kHz, 9-10 kHz and 15-16 kHz. _Always_.

It's remarkable how _consistent_ audiophile headphones are in this regard (and possibly all headphones across the board), even though some are brighter and some or more laid back in the mid-treble region. The bass response is much harder to pin down and predict.

ADU's picture
Quote:

If you have the ability to mathematically average the response curves of different headphones together, you'll find that even though the fluctuations are greatest in the treble, the average raw response in that area on the better headphones is always a softly descending curve much like you describe above, with a series of peaks at around 2.7-3.5 kHz, 9-10 kHz and 15-16 kHz. _Always_.

It's remarkable how _consistent_ audiophile headphones are in this regard (and possibly all headphones across the board), even though some are brighter and some or more laid back in the mid-treble region. The bass response is much harder to pin down and predict.

Since Tyll is going to be trying out some other measuring systems, I should mention that the above remarks apply only to graphs made with the current Inner Fidelity and Golden Ears measuring systems.

Other systems may have a different set of characteristic resonances than the current IF and GE systems.

wink's picture

The only place for a flat line is when you are looking at an ECG to see if the patient is dead.

Mauro's picture

Hi tyll, I miss your didactic articles. I am sure that in your "Big sound" event you taught the guys how to improve their analytical skills.
Voice seem to me an interesting topic for an article as Harman curve and many good sounding headphones are all going in the same direction: a mild-sloped curve.
Eager to know more!!

castleofargh's picture

I do like the harman curve, it works pretty well for most voices to my ears.

about measurements, I trust the midrange and care a lot about how it goes. if the mids are right, I can go for it even if there are no bass and no trebles, I'll still enjoy the sound(crappy desktop speaker style).
it's also where I will be looking for distortions the most I guess(and up to 6 or 7khz).

for bass/mid/treble ranges, I have stuck to this for years http://www.independentrecording.net/irn/resources/freqchart/main_display...

ashutoshp's picture

Depends on what I'm listening to but to me, mids are it. That's probably why I'm such a Sennheiser fan. Great all-round cans for audio and visual purposes.

DS-21's picture

This is the only one of the polls for which I wanted to select two choices: "Harman target" and "wiggles," because both are important for different reasons. The overall target curve is important to tell you how the headphones are voiced through the midrange. "Wiggles" are important because they show you coloring resonances from the driver, cup, frame, etc.

Ultimately I voted "Harman curve" because a beautifully-voiced headphone can be ruined by resonances but a badly voiced headphone doesn't sound any better (absent EQ) without resonances.

There's also a good case for the opposite choice. A badly voiced headphone that's fairly resonance-free can be equalized to whatever target curve, but midrange resonances can't just be EQ'ed away.

X