One thing I've noticed immediately, is that these headphones are very midrange heavy. A lot of reviews say they're bass heavy. While they do have quite a bit of bass at zeroed out settings, its not overwhelming. The midrange is what's drowning out the treble.
They don't sound bad all flat. They are definitely very clean sounding. You can hear all the notes perfectly fine. But since they're so midrange heavy, I will be conducting my actual testing with EQ'd settings.
This picture is exactly how my EQ is, except I have 60Hz instead of 50Hz.
My settings are as follows:
- 60Hz = 0dB
- 125Hz = -2dB
- 350Hz = -4dB
- 750Hz = -2dB
- 2.2kHz = 0dB
- 6.0kHz = +2dB
- 15kHz = +4dB
First we'll test my favorite type of music. Rap / Hip-hop. These tests are being performed on flac and 320k mp3 bitrates.
- Akon - Smack That (feat. Eminem)
- Akon - I Wanna Love You (feat. Snoop Dogg)
- Tech N9ne - Demons (feat. Three 6 Mafia)
- Tech N9ne - Hunterish (feat. Irv Da Phenom & Krizz Kaliko)
- Tech N9ne - In The Trunk
- Eminem - Crack A Bottle (feat. Dr. Dre & 50 Cent)
- Eminem - Fack
- Eminem - Shake That (feat. Nate Dogg)
- Young Jeezy - My Hood
- Young Jeezy - Soul Survivor (feat. Akon)
- Young Jeezy - I Luv It
- Young Jeezy - Put On
My Rock collection will be played as 320k mp3. I haven't had the time to re-encode these as flac. The rap songs above were only in flac because I wanted to see a difference.
- ACDC - Back In Black
- ACDC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
- ACDC - Big Balls
- ACDC - Highway To Hell
- Avenged Sevenfold - Almost Easy
- Avenged Sevenfold - Scream
- Avenged Sevenfold - Afterlife
- Avenged Sevenfold - Bat Country
- Boston - Peace Of Mind
- Boston - More Than A Feeling
- Def Leppard - Pour Some Sugar On Me
- Drowning Pool - Bodies
- Korn - Y'all Want A Single
- Korn - Here To Stay
- Korn - Twisted Transistor
- Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven
- Puddle of Mudd - Control
- Puddle of Mudd - Blurry
- Puddle of Mudd - She Hates Me
- System Of A Down - BYOB
- System Of A Down - Chop Suey
- System Of A Down - Toxicity
The "Ultrasone Reference CD" was also recommended to be tested as well, so that will be done after the two tests above. I will also test a few easy listening / pop songs as well (such as Mariah Carey and Mya). A few songs from Bass Mekaniks will also be played for bass response.
Games to be tested:
- Call of Duty 4
- Battlefield Bad Company 2
- Mafia II
- Grand Theft Auto 4
These will all be ran in roughly 15-30 minute intervals. Just to get a general idea how they sound.
I will watch a few movies, but I will skip to certain scenes to save on time.
Movie List / TV Show List:
- Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me
- Blue Collar Comedy Tour
- The Fast & The Furious Tokyo Drift
- The Simpsons
- Boy Meets World
Again, these tests are only for 15-30 minutes each. Same as the gaming session.
Results and Impressions:
After some EQ settings adjusted to turn down the midrange, these headphones are very clean. They may still be a little bass heavy for some users, but I personally like hearing the bass in my songs. I noticed some subtle differences between flac and mp3, but nothing too serious.
I also heard new things in certain songs, that I never knew existed in these songs before. There was a song from System of a Down that I heard some whispering in, that I never heard before.
These headphones are definitely great general music headphones. They hit all the bass notes in the rap tests, got loud as hell in the rock tests, and the easier listening stuff was just gorgeous sounding. The treble response on these are a lot more amazing than most reviews give them credit for. And the bass is very clean.
I also noticed that these headphones do bottom out fairly easily with enough power driving them. To a super bass-head such as myself, they leave a very small bit to be desired from the bass section. But trust me, there was honestly enough output in some songs to make me flinch. And I've sat in a near 160dB car audio car before without a flinch. So they DEFINITELY pack a strong punch.
One more thing worth noting. A few of the test songs are unfortunately in smaller bit rates than 320k. I can CLEARLY hear the difference with the songs that are 256k mp3 and lower. For example, Stairway to Heaven is 128k CBR, and its plain as day that its a low bitrate.
Ultrasone Reference CD:
There is only one word to describe this CD. Wow!!!! If anybody reading this review has a half decent set of cans, you have GOT to try this thing out. I literally feel like I'm sitting right in the middle of whatever is going on (right now its fireworks). Binaural recording is amazing on the proper headphones
. I tried this before on my Logitech's, and yeah...I didn't see what was so special. Now I do.
Well, these headphones are really bringing gaming into a whole new dimension. First person shooter games, I can now tell more easily where enemies are at. Every explosion from a grenade comes to life! Call of Duty 4 and Battlefield Bad Company 2 sound incredible. I only played both briefly, simply because I was eager to finish, and report back here. I could hear footsteps plain as day! I could hear the "pink" noise my bullets made as they hit random cargo containers while spraying.
Third person games, I have to say...these sound, well different to say the least. Mafia II, the classic radio stations kind of threw me off. I thought I was actually listening to the radio
. In Grand Theft Auto 4, I shot down a few test helicopters, and even ran over a few unsuspecting pedestrians. The noises from both were VERY satisfying.
And the racing games, well now, there's something interesting. If you think sound plays no role in racing, you're wrong! I could tell where the first few cars behind me were at at all times. I could easily cut them off and keep them from passing me. I could hear each individual tire as it lost traction. The engine sounds, well they weren't any different from my cheap logitech cans. But its the subtle differences that are making these awesome.
So for those of you that claim headphones don't make a difference in gaming, well you're definitely wrong. I think these might help me to be a more sneaky shooter, or a better racer...because I can now hear all the subtle sounds that I couldn't before hand.
Movies / TV Shows:
These headphones definitely show the impurities of my DVD-rips. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I usually don't watch stuff with headphones on anyway, so its not a huge deal.
Voices were crystal clear. Music in the movies was definitely noticeable (for some reason some of my rips have the music louder). All in all, I was actually disappointed with how my videos sounded. There were too many imperfections, and loudness issues.
The stereo seperation however, was absolutely great. I really enjoyed watching Tokyo Drift with these cans on (I actually borrowed a DVD drive, and watched the DVD). So they definitely work GREAT for media use....as long as the source is decent. I definitely learned that my encoding style from before is horrible. Unfortunately, I don't feel like re-encoding 600GB worth of movies and 200GB worth of TV shows. So I'll just ignore the headphones for watching stuff.