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How to test headphones to see how neutral they are + how to compensate the subjectivity of my ears?

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How to test headphones to see how neutral they are + how to compensate the subjectivity of my ears?

Postby KleinAberFein » Sun Mar 22, 2020 3:27 pm

Hello, I've figured that it was better not to mix too many topics in one thread, so I ask this here.

I did some investigation on sound but I'm still pretty much a newbie, so be patient...

Let's say that I might not be able to use a reference headphone for mixing, and my choice is between a few models which might not be perfectly neutral.
How do I test the headphones to find out which one is more neutral?
Do I need to record the audio coming from them and analyse it with a special software?

Also, once I manage to find one which is relatively or even perfectly neutral, my ears are not neutral, so they might colour the sound.
Two people mixing with the same headphone, or the same person a bit older, would hear the sound differently and mix differently.
Am I right till now?

With this belief, till now, for my personal entertainment listening, I was using the app Neutralizer on Android to supposedly generate an EQ curve which would flatten the response of the cans.
As far as I know (once again, I'm a newbie so I might either misunderstanding how this works, or expressing it in an inexact way) this app isn't doing much more than generating a tone at some given frequencies and you are supposed to set the slider till you barely hear that sound.
Well, yeah, while you work on a given frequency it also moves the whole curve up and down, and sometimes it does some adjustments to other frequencies too, but from what I can say it seems that it pretty much just makes all frequencies sound same loud to your ears.

I thought this is the perfect neutral.
And I was about to ask if there is a similar software for windows too, or maybe some plugin in the daw (in my case Ableton).
Or alternatively if there is a way to apply EQ only on the monitor, not on the mix, so that I could find the right curve in Neutralizer and then translate it on the PC, and have headphones which are sounding neutral to my ears, so that I would mix better.

But I did a Google search and I got a post on Head-Fi saying "Every frequency sounding equally loud is not neutral, equal loudness of pure tones means very boosted bass and treble.".
Maybe I'm misunderstanding the context and what this guy means with loudness, but it made me feel that what I was doing with Neutralizer is not right.
So, is this post in Head-Fi misleading?
Or is Neutralizer crap?
Or am I missing something here?


To summary my questions:
How do I test headphones to choose the most objectively neutral?
Once I've done that, how do I compensate for the subjectivity of my ears?

Thanks again for the support, your help prevents me from reaching the smoking point of my brain and feeling more frustration than joy in the learning phase, which could lead to me prematurely giving up...
Thanks to places like this I've more chances to survive this time of "I have no freaking idea how to pilot this airplane and I'm falling down"...
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Re: How to test headphones to see how neutral they are + how to compensate the subjectivity of my ears?

Postby Kwackman » Sun Mar 22, 2020 3:32 pm

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Re: How to test headphones to see how neutral they are + how to compensate the subjectivity of my ears?

Postby blinddrew » Sun Mar 22, 2020 4:16 pm

KleinAberFein wrote:But I did a Google search and I got a post on Head-Fi saying "Every frequency sounding equally loud is not neutral, equal loudness of pure tones means very boosted bass and treble.".
I suspect this person is talking about Fletcher Munson curves. As well as the links above from Kwackman, have a read up on these.
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