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Hardware EQ and Headphones


BobH
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I was going to hijack the 'How I learned to stop worrying......' thread but decided the topic was different enough to warrant its own space. This question is inspired by Tim's (tfarney) contribution to that thread and his headphones experience with a particular track - Chocktaw Hayride - and particular eq setting.

 

Pardon me for directing this question, initially, to Tim, but please do feel free to join in. All contributions welcome! (Apart from telling me to buy a MacMini - please don't so that!!)

 

Anyway, now I've got the music server set-up completed, I've got a CDP and Stax headphone set-up available for a second 'late, late, night' system. I've always felt that my Stax benefitted from a little judicious eq. I am, of course, utterly indoctrinated into not using foul language in public so have never had the courage to ask a dealer for 'a little less middle and bit more top' when auditioning under headphones! (Not that any of the ones I've ever visited would have actually owned up to owning an EQ, anyway!!) But I do feel, at home, that my STAX benefit from some taming in those regions! (As it happens, 'Chocktaw Hayride' - both live and studio versions - is a permanent resident on my demo cd and is always first up by the time I get round to auditioning under the 'phones.)

 

Anyway, been mulling over the pro and cons of the various options and, although I have enjoyed the benefits of a touch of judicious eq, I couldn't help wondering whether it was one of those 'initially impressive, ultimately tiring' sort of things. As the system is going to be used for those late night, favoutrite cd's, sort of listening sessions, away from the main listening room, I'd rather use the CDP than set up another music server. Unfortunately, this would take the benefit of per-track eq, by a media player, out of the equation, leaving me with a hardware box as the only eq option.

 

So, what do you think? Will the eq changes you made be permanent or occasional? Can you see a benefit of a single, across-the-board setting or would you see it being most benefical on a track-by-track basis? In the event that a global setting could be a fair compromise, do you know of any good EQ boxes that would sit politely between my CDP (2.4v unbalanced output) and my Stax energizer?

 

 

 

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Bob, I haven't messed much with hardware eq in years, except to knock the bright off of bad mastering with the semi-parametric eq built into my old Harman Kardon. It (hardware eq) is considered universally evil by audiophiles of course, though it was a core tool in the mixing and mastering of the music they were listening to as they came to this conclusion. This has always confused me a bit. I do understand the theory. A graphic eq is a boxful of potentiometers, and the potential for noise is high. Still, the good ones sounded good indeed.

 

Regarding global settings for rooms/speakers/cans...sure. I suppose this is eq's primary purpose for the average listener. Trying to correct the sins of albums or individual tracks is the territory of the possessed, ie: us. But you want to "correct" Stax? The rest of us just want them! Actually, I'm not a huge fan of the bass performance of electrostatics, and I think the highs can be a bit zingy, but the mids, where the money is, are wonderful. I've often wondered if I could reach nirvana, or at least sartori, by wearing a pair of Stax while sitting on a good subwoofer.

 

And Bob...whatever you do...don't buy a Mac Mini.

 

The Apple laptops are much more convenient, as you can listen to Miles Davis and type posts to CA in bed. An activity to which I can bear the most current witness.

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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Exactly - that's why I thought I'd ask!! And is why I've been seriously unsure of myself!

 

I think I must be correcting for other things - the CDP, the DAC, the track. Overall I agree with your assessment that things can get a touch tiring in the highest registers and some tracks - particularly those like 'Chocktaw' - can be more pleasurable under phones with a bit of tweaking. The thing that normally grabs my attention is the bass boom in badly recorded acoustic guitar - a genre I listen to rather a lot of.

 

So, for the cost of a 'good' eq, I could get a A..... Ap...... Ap..... - no, can't say it ;) - laptop and then eq by track as and when I prefer it. Hmmmmmmm.

 

If I get 'one of those' laptops you must promise not to tell anyone!

 

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