Necrox

Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium 250 ohm - Do I need an amp?

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I've just about had it with how garbage my mixes are; after (finally) getting serious about mixing and trying to learn mastering, I've realized that my headphones (Sennheiser HD202s) are the main limiting factor (other than my ears, but I've just about given up on that). 

I'm looking at these headphones as they seem to be excellent for critical listening, but I've read that I'll probably need an amp as well. I can spare $200 but $480 is too much.

So, do I really need the amp? I'm at the point where my low-mid-heavy cans are simply not doing it anymore and I want something that I can use forever; is it worth taking the plunge?

 

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I have these headphones and I run them directly connected to my soundcard (NI Komplete Audio 6), no headphone amp. While it doesn't go that loud (but still at a comfortably loud enough level), it works great for my music creation things. Not going too loud might actually be a benefit, because you won't damage your ears that way. $0.02.

So, no, I don't think you'd need an amp, it's usable without one. You could always get a headphone amp later though, if you so wish.

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I use mine with a headphone amp, and they ARE the 250 ohm version (btw, I got them for 51% off at Sweetwater iirc). It's nice to have, but I don't think you need the headphone amp for the loudness. I would still suggest getting one sometime though, so that you can re-balance the low-end and high-end to reference tracks (I calibrated my low-end with "Vessel of the Void" by zircon, my high-end with "Go Ninja Go" by bLiNd, and my loudness with "Level Bounce" by zircon on soundcloud). Without an amp, it still feels bass-light.

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That's a fantastic deal! Most other suppliers are saying >$400. I actually haven't ever used the A20 amplifier, but it looks good; I like the 0.01% total harmonic distortion, since you'll hear a more accurate playback. I tend to enjoy products made in Germany (NI is centered in Germany), and it will work for up to 600 ohm resistance.

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https://storeus.sonarworks.com/products/reference-4-headphone-edition

This is the best investment you can put into a headphone setup. They have EQ profiles for common pro headphones (including the 880 250ohm premium) and you can load it systemwide (and as a vst on your DAW master) to apply the exactly counter EQ contour to make your headphones as even and rounded (flat, yes, but I stopped using that term because it implies the music would sound lifeless) as possible. Systemwide is super great because I can listen to reference songs on my computer from music players or in the browser, or like play games/movies, and still have the sound correction.

You can also simulate other headphones and stereo systems with their stored profiles, instead of just going flat. And if you personally don't LIKE the completely flat response, you can also apply minor treble and bass adjustments to suit your tastes.

It also has a linear phase option, with some additional latency, to ensure there is absolutely 0 change to the sound outside of the spectrum's range of loudness.

Once I did it for my DT 880's I've sworn never to go back. The difference is actually pretty dramatic; as soon as I toggle the calibration off, the life is sapped out of the mix, the sound of the headphones themselves is pretty tinny and boomy by comparison, and hearing the difference explained basically all of my common mixing mistakes that people point out to me. Weak low mids, excessive bass, harsh upper mids, which were all unknowing compensations for the 880's actual frequency response. Listening to my older stuff on this, it was pretty clear.

Here is the DT 880's average freq response:
 

image.png.414abf35d2d6104d2b9bfd3d19bee892.png

 

As it says in the legend, the BLUE is the headphone's average response, the GREEN is the EQ it applies to counter it, and the PURPLE is the end result (mostly flat, with some bass rolloff that doesn't matter too much in practice, and is necessary because of physics and whatnot).

 

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On 5/11/2018 at 5:52 PM, Nabeel Ansari said:

https://storeus.sonarworks.com/products/reference-4-headphone-edition

This is the best investment you can put into a headphone setup. They have EQ profiles for common pro headphones (including the 880 250ohm premium) and you can load it systemwide (and as a vst on your DAW master) to apply the exactly counter EQ contour to make your headphones as even and rounded (flat, yes, but I stopped using that term because it implies the music would sound lifeless) as possible. Systemwide is super great because I can listen to reference songs on my computer from music players or in the browser, or like play games/movies, and still have the sound correction.

You can also simulate other headphones and stereo systems with their stored profiles, instead of just going flat. And if you personally don't LIKE the completely flat response, you can also apply minor treble and bass adjustments to suit your tastes.

It also has a linear phase option, with some additional latency, to ensure there is absolutely 0 change to the sound outside of the spectrum's range of loudness.

Once I did it for my DT 880's I've sworn never to go back. The difference is actually pretty dramatic; as soon as I toggle the calibration off, the life is sapped out of the mix, the sound of the headphones themselves is pretty tinny and boomy by comparison, and hearing the difference explained basically all of my common mixing mistakes that people point out to me. Weak low mids, excessive bass, harsh upper mids, which were all unknowing compensations for the 880's actual frequency response. Listening to my older stuff on this, it was pretty clear.

Here is the DT 880's average freq response:
 

image.png.414abf35d2d6104d2b9bfd3d19bee892.png

 

As it says in the legend, the BLUE is the headphone's average response, the GREEN is the EQ it applies to counter it, and the PURPLE is the end result (mostly flat, with some bass rolloff that doesn't matter too much in practice, and is necessary because of physics and whatnot).

 

This looks awesome; thank you for posting. I'll definitely save up for this.

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Hey. I have the 32 Ohm version of same Headphones for my productions, and i'm wondering.. I am using my motherboards (Gigabyte Z97P-D3) own soundcard, though i can get them louder than enough using it and only FL Studio Asio or ASIO4ALL, would a proper soundcard still improve the sound quality?

I have noticed that the bass isn't very strong at least on my version headphones (though the sounds are soft and bright, in fact so soft that i tend to not notice how loud i am using them and soon enough my ears start hurting after hours of producing) and setup and hence it tends to be either too strong or too weak in my final productions. Sometimes i go test the tracks on my car hifi as i have subwoofer there plus it allows me to hear the track with different output otherwise too with quite good surround mids and also separate trebles on doors and also driving distracts my focus a bit and hence i can hear also the track a bit "outside" the project as full track.

I also read from somewhere that external soundcard (both, the one that plugs-in on the motherboard directly, or literally external from the pc build) frees CPU load of projects as it handles the sounds on its own instead of motherboard using CPU for them. Is this true? What would be a good soundcard for DT880 32 ohm, said Motherboard, Intel i7 4790k processor and FL Studio in this case? In some reasonable price which would take a lot of time to gather for me anyway? I mean there is literally a "Recommended Product" of external Amplifier on the back of the box but i assume the box is the same for all 3 versions as there is only a small checkbox at the top which impedance the version is, and mine is the smallest impedance which doesn't require amp to listen but might be the "worst" quality all and all from the 32, 250 and 600 ohm versions as it doesn't require anything else necessarily.

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1 hour ago, ShadowRaz said:

Hey. I have the 32 Ohm version of same Headphones for my productions, and i'm wondering.. I am using my motherboards (Gigabyte Z97P-D3) own soundcard, though i can get them louder than enough using it and only FL Studio Asio or ASIO4ALL, would a proper soundcard still improve the sound quality?

I have noticed that the bass isn't very strong at least on my version headphones (though the sounds are soft and bright, in fact so soft that i tend to not notice how loud i am using them and soon enough my ears start hurting after hours of producing) and setup and hence it tends to be either too strong or too weak in my final productions. Sometimes i go test the tracks on my car hifi as i have subwoofer there plus it allows me to hear the track with different output otherwise too with quite good surround mids and also separate trebles on doors and also driving distracts my focus a bit and hence i can hear also the track a bit "outside" the project as full track.

I also read from somewhere that external soundcard (both, the one that plugs-in on the motherboard directly, or literally external from the pc build) frees CPU load of projects as it handles the sounds on its own instead of motherboard using CPU for them. Is this true? What would be a good soundcard for DT880 32 ohm, said Motherboard, Intel i7 4790k processor and FL Studio in this case? In some reasonable price which would take a lot of time to gather for me anyway? I mean there is literally a "Recommended Product" of external Amplifier on the back of the box but i assume the box is the same for all 3 versions as there is only a small checkbox at the top which impedance the version is, and mine is the smallest impedance which doesn't require amp to listen but might be the "worst" quality all and all from the 32, 250 and 600 ohm versions as it doesn't require anything else necessarily.

A soundcard does not free CPU load from your projects, most of the time. You have to buy more expensive soundcards with on-board DSP (basically VST's that run only on the soundcard processor) and then use that on-board DSP instead of any other vst's to free CPU load.

A soundcard also doesn't improve sound quality that much if you're not experienced. It will, however, improve noise level by a lot, and using proper ASIO drivers made for the soundcard will make your projects able to handle more instruments and effects, CPU-wise.

The choice of headphones (DT 880) and DAW (FL Studio) doesn't matter at all when choosing an audio interface.

 

As for the 32 Ohm, in my experience they'd get much noisier much more quickly. You have to drive more level into the 250 Ohm, but the noise level is way better. This is testing both resistance levels of headphones in the same exact headphone jack on my interface. The 250 Ohm also has better frequency response, but you really want to pick up Sonarworks Reference 4 (headphone edition) so that you can correct the frequency response and get all that bass back. DT 880's have pretty weak bass and very shrill treble, Reference will flatten it out nicely.

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On 6/4/2018 at 7:11 PM, PRYZM said:

DT 880's have pretty weak bass and very shrill treble, Reference will flatten it out nicely.

Ok so, i installed the free trial version of Reference 4, got now 21 days left, there actually was a preset for the needed EQ for precisely DT880 250 Ohm version and it looks exactly like the blue line on your picture of the headphones average frequency response. So i put that on even if i have the 32Ohm version (there wasn't a preset for that), only to discover that it made the sound on my headphones really weird. Assuming i have now gotten used to the same sound output on my headphones, it is understandable obviously, however, that precise preset makes treble so weak and high-mids so strong, that anything with usually high frequencies (say, virtual legato violins as i tested my own tracks) almost sounds like coming through some tube to me, which i would categorize as worse output than the original without the program on use. I think i'll try my earbuds and the pc speaker set with the program as well. There is this huge on/off button on the programs, so testing what it does to the sound is easy. Wouldn't i (if using the program) then automatically start boosting high frequencies too much, of the violins for example, and end up with screaming outcome?

 

Second thing to say is that basically what the program seems to do is automatic equalization which could be done with Parametric EQ 2 on FLS itself for example, am i not correct? So if i wanted slightly lower treble and boost mids and bass, i can do that on Master or individual Mixer channels in the DAW itself however often in it, the rendered file sounds different than within the project. Only difference still would be that i can use the program externally from fls which means i can eq balance basically any output sound such as when listening others music on internet, but there are a lot of similar programs, hell, even windows on its own has EQ effects.

 

I haven't still properly dug into the program, as in don't know how to properly use it nor all its functions as i now just tested the said preset on the program, as in is there an option to manually adjust the EQ the program does? Not sure can i do everything even with the trial, expensive program though.

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I would give it a day, listen in the morning, and then see what you think, but if the preset is for a lower impedance, I would think there is overcompensation, since the 250 ohm headphones need more drive than the 32 ohms.

I am curious though, whether the effect of Reference 4 can be turned down, so that a parallel correction (some percent of on/off) can be used instead of the full correction.

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Yeah agree that it might overcompensate. I mean, when you think about it, if the headphones standard sound output was so off from "standard" sound output, i think i would have heard the "through tube" (as in too weak treble and strong mid) sound on legato violins especially (which sounded worst with the program running, on other note, as i tested couple of dubstep tracks of mine which often have those violins still, the growl/drone/screech sound designs seemed to sound better balanced and therefore i should dial down the treble of those in general slightly within the projects perhaps) on other sound outputs as i still have tested the tracks on several places such as my car hi-fi and the computer speaker set i have, rarely even the cheap earbud headset i bought.

 

When the trial runs out, i think i'll just make a similar Parametric EQ 2 saved mixer channel state (as it is easy to re-apply on project with click and drag, to master channel or even individual channels) as in adjust on a single or 2 of EQ2 effect plugins the trebles a bit down, bass up and mids even less up than bass, IF i see it useful, which i can apply on the projects themselves on master, and then turn off those when rendering so that it won't apply to the audio file, only when making the track as in i can correct the headphones sound output with it alone. No necessary external programs required. But i truly have gotten used to the output i now have.

 

In general, if you had patience to listen to my music with your perspective.. can you hear that i have too weak trebles, and too strong mids, and weak or strong bass? As i have produced without knowledge that the headphones might or might not have the standard sound output a bit off

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Are you saying you've only tested listening through the headphones on your own music? If so, you may want some reference tracks that should be clean:

General reference (orchestral)

Low Bass reference (glitch hop) (yes, it's my own lol)

Upper Treble reference (Rock / Drum & Bass)

Right now I don't have my good headphones with me at school, so with these temp headphones, I wouldn't be able to give proper feedback on the low bass (which is lacking) or upper treble (which is overly boosted). For example, when I write something on these temp headphones and I think the bass is good, it's too much when I go home and listen on my Beyers, and I spend a few hours fixing it (both partwriting and mixing; if it was just mixing, it would take less than an hour).

However, if I am looking for overly weak treble and overly boosted midrange, I can do that.

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6 hours ago, timaeus222 said:

Are you saying you've only tested listening through the headphones on your own music? If so, you may want some reference tracks that should be clean:

General reference (orchestral)

Low Bass reference (glitch hop) (yes, it's my own lol)

Upper Treble reference (Rock / Drum & Bass)

Yep i indeed tested only my own tracks whilst trying the program for the first time yesterday. But you are absolutely right that i should reference others tracks. And i tested all 3 you linked to me.

 

The 1st one, orchestral, sounds better without the programs EQ for DT880. I mean the sounds are in fact clearer and sound more realistic in my opinion as the treble is stronger, however it is a bit softer to listen with the program on dialing them down and i in fact do hear the mid frequencies more clearly to balance out the over-all sound, yet can't shake the feeling that it sounds a bit odd if using the program.

 

On 2nd, your Glitch Hop, the bass sounds really good with the program on and no wonder when it boosts the naturally weak bass of the headphones. But assuming because i have gotten used to shrill trebles without Reference 4 on, the track is otherwise better without it on in my opinion. As in this case i would use the program (if it even can be used in such manner, EQ2 in general) only for boosting bass.

 

The 3rd one is really heavy on trebles indeed. On this case i would keep the program running through the entire song as is, as it boosts the basses of the track but indeed soften out the rather too bright treble which almost starts breaking ears in heavy listening.

 

On a note about the program also, when it is on, i have to put the PC output sound to max and it still doesn't get loud so it somehow lessens the output signal a lot. I usually need to barely keep volume up to halfway to have it loud enough without the program running. On another note, i have no idea how to shut it down "properly" as i haven't found such button. It always just goes into the background and i have to kill the process completely from task manager.

On a EQ2 note, this is basically what the Reference 4 does to the audio, though not in such smooth line manner. Almost exactly +6dB on bass, a bit less for high mid and about -6dB spikes at 10kHz and couple thousand less from that:

DfJhUsxX4AArBnc.jpg:large

Btw, as you pointed out about changing the amount it affects, at least this way you could do anything one wants to it.

But for a good test of my tracks, you could listen this for example:

Melodic dubstep which has my usual legato violin ensemble composition on start with orchestral drums, and which also has indeed melody saw sound design, electronic dubstep/dnb beats, growls and drones, bassline and even vocal chops

As i tested the track with the program on, the violin melody sounds quite nasty compared to when Reference 4 is not on, to dial down the trebles.

This is more recent production/composition of mine (though this was still old project, it was barely started and i finished it recently) by using fully virtual instruments, and it has that electric guitar lead that kind of stands out, however, when i tested this track in my car much later from this upload, i noticed that the guitar lead somehow drowned into other voices. What would be your take on this on using DT880 without Reference 4 or matching EQ?

 

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Regarding "Time Traveler", I think the low bass is kinda flooded starting at 1:37, and would do a small cut (1 ~ 2 dB) on those low-drum samples at around 60 - 80 Hz. That may help give headroom for the guitar to breathe, since (and I'm guessing here) perhaps your car has the bass turned up? If you do that, I would suggest you do it in context (meaning, instead of isolating the drums and EQing, EQ the drums without muting all the other tracks). Another reference I like to use for low bass (sub bass, bass drums, gran cassa, etc), for cinematic music, is this.

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First off, like I said, 32 Ohm has a different response than the 250 Ohm, so off the bat you're not getting a truly accurate experience here; in fact, every pair of headphones is different. You see the blue smudge surrounding the blue line that's the response of the headphones? That's the deviation of just 250 Ohm DT 880's. You'd have to send your headphones to Sonarworks for them to measure it to get an exact calibration (I find the avg. is good enough since I have other ways to reference, like monitors and another dope-sounding pair of headphones).

It sounds like you're just used to your headphones giving you very shrill highs. Listen to a lot of different music on the adjustment and your ears will get a better sense. You can not switch a frequency response profile in just a matter of minutes and not expect to be disoriented. I wouldn't really reference your own music at all, in fact, you should treat this as an opportunity to see issues in your past mixes. It's like doing a digital painting on a crappy cheap monitor and looking at it on a top-dollar calibrated IPS... all the colors are going to look hella wrong, nothing like what you wanted.

 

Just listening to your Time Traveler track on my monitors, which have no calibration shenanigans at all, the treble does sound pretty weak. So I think a lot of the issues you're hearing are the mix quality, not the calibration screwing up.

Also, just remember to turn off calibration plugin completely, using DAW Bypass, before rendering the music for other people to listen to. Calibration is for your ears only.

 


I can't stand the sound of uncalibrated DT 880's anymore, since there's so much low end missing and the high end sounds like it's shrieking compared to a natural response (like on my monitors). If I toggle the calibration OFF, I'm like "oh god, the mix died, and its ghost is trying to hunt me down and kill me".

That being said, I never keep the compensation at 100%. There's a dry/wet knob right in the program, and I usually do around 80%. I get a little bit of the sizzle back (personal taste), and mostly keep the newfound bass response, and the low and high mids are about even. It's a good compromise.

As for volume, because it's EQing your final signal, it has to reduce volume, essentially equivalent to how much is being boosted across the spectrum, otherwise it would clip. You can toggle off "Avoid Clipping" right under the output meter, but I wouldn't advise this, because... why clip? The idea is simply you just set a new monitor level for your whole system once you're running calibration on everything.

Lastly, yes you can EQ it yourself, but use a linear phase EQ or it'll screw up the sound a lot.

 

Also, you know... you could just not, Andrew Aversa (zircon) has mixed pretty much exclusively on uncalibrated DT 880's for like a decade now. His mixes are well-balanced because he just knows what a good mix sounds like through them. Personally, the uncalibrated DT 880's pretty much defined what people told me they didn't like about my mixes; my low mids were scooped out, the bass was too strong, and the high mids are harsh. Surprise, all of that is compensation for the bad response from the headphones.

I like an even, full response because I think that's a good way to listen to music, and I am hearing what studio engineers hear when they mix all my favorite records, and it's a closer response to proper studio monitors in a good treated room.

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7 hours ago, PRYZM said:

Also, just remember to turn off calibration plugin completely, using DAW Bypass, before rendering the music for other people to listen to. Calibration is for your ears only.

Yes that is exactly what i already thought of being the problem that might got forgotten bit too easily as i stated already

18 hours ago, ShadowRaz said:

IF i see it useful, which i can apply on the projects themselves on master, and then turn off those when rendering so that it won't apply to the audio file, only when making the track as in i can correct the headphones sound output with it alone. No necessary external programs required.

Then

7 hours ago, PRYZM said:

You can toggle off "Avoid Clipping" right under the output meter, but I wouldn't advise this, because... why clip?

Didn't see such button... should dig in even more to the program to find everything but in following video i uploaded now for this purpose, you can clearly hear how much the Reference 4.dll plugin within the studio as well (not just the system wide exe file which doesn't apply to FLS at all as Asio seems to mess it up) lessens the overall sound output level:

On that i also am testing the Parametric EQ2 option i thought of, and also Linear Phase EQ (of which i have never heard of, well, you learn something new everyday) with FLS internal Fruity Convolver. Reference 4 seems to also have the option for linear phase vs zero latency.. not sure what's the difference since didn't hear difference with quick testing. The projects of mine i test vary in style to test the effect as in house with basic bright saw melody, the 'Time Traveler' for orchestral testing as it came out already on this topic and then a dubstep drop i made on an old project of mine called 'Whatever' to create myself a really personal ringtone for my phone.

 

I still prefer producing and the sounds without using ANY of these EQ correction options for DT880 standard output. Except for the bass only, that seriously requires some boosting on the headphones output.

7 hours ago, timaeus222 said:

Regarding "Time Traveler", I think the low bass is kinda flooded starting at 1:37

Agree, as the low bass is kind of weak on standard output of DT880, on this it shows its affection on my production as i then have started boosting the bass output for the rendered audio file instead of using a bass boost to balance the weak standard output of the headphones without it showing on the render.

7 hours ago, PRYZM said:

Just listening to your Time Traveler track on my monitors, which have no calibration shenanigans at all, the treble does sound pretty weak. So I think a lot of the issues you're hearing are the mix quality, not the calibration screwing up.

But that is just it, there was no calibration at all for the headphones output at the time i finished and uploaded the track some time ago, as i basically just now heard that the standard output might have too shrill treble that maybe should be balanced depending on opinion, and therefore, i produced the track with the bright treble already coming through and hence did not start boosting the high frequencies on the project itself whilst mixing and mastering. But as you said, you had no calibration on your test either and still you hear weak treble so it indeed might be my own personal preference of not having the track "screaming" at me... but aren't your headphones the 250ohm version? Are you using some sort of amp or as is? I mean wouldn't it sound completely different with your no calibration and mine as the impedance difference might affect quite a lot still?

 

edit. FYI, i use Maximus sometimes to isolate especially bass to play solo on master channel to attempt hearing the overall bass of the track within the project better, though this could be done in several other ways as well. At least that is easy to remember turn off when it indeed isolates everything else if the solo button is on. Reference 4 dll seemed to have some automatic option for it to not affect the render when i first threw it into master channel, however, i would anyway turn it off completely for render, should i use it in the first place while producing

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2 hours ago, ShadowRaz said:

But that is just it, there was no calibration at all for the headphones output at the time i finished and uploaded the track some time ago, as i basically just now heard that the standard output might have too shrill treble that maybe should be balanced depending on opinion, and therefore, i produced the track with the bright treble already coming through and hence did not start boosting the high frequencies on the project itself whilst mixing and mastering. But as you said, you had no calibration on your test either and still you hear weak treble so it indeed might be my own personal preference of not having the track "screaming" at me... but aren't your headphones the 250ohm version? Are you using some sort of amp or as is? I mean wouldn't it sound completely different with your no calibration and mine as the impedance difference might affect quite a lot still?

I didn't listen to the track on DT 880's, I listened on my monitors. The loud treble in your headphones makes you mix the treble too quiet, and it's easy to see when checked on a different sound system.

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2 hours ago, PRYZM said:

I didn't listen to the track on DT 880's, I listened on my monitors. The loud treble in your headphones makes you mix the treble too quiet, and it's easy to see when checked on a different sound system.

Oh, i did not and do not then understand completely what you mean, but assumed on the reply something that me as a non-native speaker would not understand with the word monitor relating to you headphones as in monitoring the sound or something... SO... do you mean you actually listened with some internal small speakers your computer screens have? I mean i'm not sure are there some really high-def expensive ones of such but i assume that wouldn't be very reliable source to test treble necessarily perhaps?

 

Edit. On second thought before you even answer, i just thought of it in a way that perhaps that style output would indeed give way different perspective as those small internal speakers on monitors (tv's in my case) are heavy on treble precisely but lacking mids and have almost no bass and therefore you hear only treble in stronger sense but not in a way as if you would turn off / eq dial down mid and low frequencies.

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On 6/8/2018 at 7:00 PM, ShadowRaz said:

Oh, i did not and do not then understand completely what you mean, but assumed on the reply something that me as a non-native speaker would not understand with the word monitor relating to you headphones as in monitoring the sound or something... SO... do you mean you actually listened with some internal small speakers your computer screens have? I mean i'm not sure are there some really high-def expensive ones of such but i assume that wouldn't be very reliable source to test treble necessarily perhaps?

 

Edit. On second thought before you even answer, i just thought of it in a way that perhaps that style output would indeed give way different perspective as those small internal speakers on monitors (tv's in my case) are heavy on treble precisely but lacking mids and have almost no bass and therefore you hear only treble in stronger sense but not in a way as if you would turn off / eq dial down mid and low frequencies.

Monitors are the word for studio speakers.


image.png.6569bead22f5b2170df11215eb61bfa0.png

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