Loudness & Closed Headphones

Discussion in 'Working with Sound' started by SwingSwing, Mar 18, 2018.

  1. SwingSwing

    SwingSwing Noisemaker

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    3
    Hey everyone,

    this is something that bugged me right from the start with closed headphones:
    The "sound pressure" on my ears seems to be so much higher than with open headphones. But when I turn the master channel down to ease that, the sound is not loud enough anymore for me to get the feeling right and really enjoy playing the piano (or guitar, drums etc).

    BUT it was not a problem actually playing my piano VERY loud inside my room. Also playing the acoustic guitar right next to my ears can be very loud - certainly louder than what I perceive with closed headphones on when my ears start to hurt.


    Did someone else have problems with this? Is there a way to avoid it? Should I use compression or something to enhance my playing experience?

    Thanks :)
     
  2.  
  3. No Avenger

    No Avenger Audiosexual

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2017
    Messages:
    1,119
    Likes Received:
    789
    Location:
    Europe
    Closed headphones have a higher mechanical pressure on the head and a higher pressure on the eardrums, that's normal and on purpose.
    The question is, why do you use closed headphones and not open ones?
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
    • List
  4. SwingSwing

    SwingSwing Noisemaker

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    3
    I'm using closed ones so the track on my ears does not bleed into the recording of Guitar, Voice etc.
    And on top of that it isolates my ears better from the sounds in the actual room, so I can hear my voice or my guitar or piano or especially drums more focused on the effects and how they really sound.

    Plus in my selection of headphones I have the open ones have higher Ohm impedance, so they are not as loud as my closed ones and too quiet at performing in my taste - I know I could buy louder open ones, but then the problems above would still exist :-(
     
  5. No Avenger

    No Avenger Audiosexual

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2017
    Messages:
    1,119
    Likes Received:
    789
    Location:
    Europe
    Ah, I see. For recording vocals and maybe even acoustic guitars closed headphones are good/ok. But I would not use them for longer (mixing/playing) sessions, especially not at high volume, you will ruin your ears!
     
    • Like Like x 4
    • Interesting Interesting x 1
    • List
  6. SineWave

    SineWave Audiosexual

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2011
    Messages:
    2,327
    Likes Received:
    1,259
    Location:
    The darkest pit of my mind
    The solution is simple. Use the open or semi-open headphones for practising and use the closed ones for recording. It is true that they also sound different. Closed ones have been invented for recording sessions. Open and semi-open ones have better and more truthful sound.
     
    • Agree Agree x 3
    • Winner Winner x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  7. Xupito

    Xupito Audiosexual

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,002
    Likes Received:
    508
    Location:
    Where machine gun effect means dead bodies
    My main complaint with closed headphones is the complaints of the people who call me, knock at my door, street door ring and so on...
    People is so unreasonable sometimes...
     
    • Funny Funny x 6
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  8. Von_Steyr

    Von_Steyr Guest

    This question belongs to the humor section.
     
  9. El digital

    El digital Noisemaker

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2017
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    6
    Absolutely. You should have a really good headphones mix to be comfortable and perform well. Filters, Eqs, Dynamics, FX...anything you need to make your headphones mix as good as possible. And ideally a sound aesthetic representative of the sound you're looking for in the final mix. A good way to start is to eq your headphone first to the most pleasant possible overall sound while avoiding overloading the subsonics.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
    • List
  10. SwingSwing

    SwingSwing Noisemaker

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    3
    Thank you, that does make sense to me
     
  11. mozee

    mozee Audiosexual

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2016
    Messages:
    620
    Likes Received:
    529
    You also could buy a headphone amp to push more power into the high impedance open headphones, you can get or make a decent headphone amp for under a hundred bucks these days.

    Also a little bleed isn't a bad thing, gate it if it really bothers you.

    If you mess up your ears, that's a little harder to fix.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  12. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2011
    Messages:
    1,728
    Likes Received:
    940
    Location:
    Between worlds
    On the eardrums? How's that possible? (genuine question)
    The only difference here is that closed headphones do not deal with reflections by letting the sound out as much as open design (there's always some leakage, intentional or otherwise).

    And yes, one could argue that the sum of all undamped reflections and direct signal at a constant voltage will be higher in closed headphones, provided the driver share the same specifications as with open design. However, this should not diminish the human perception of volume by any means.

    It's more likely that the impedance and sensitivity of both your headphones was vastly different, so on one volume setting, the overall volume varied.
    As for the 'feel' - this has to do with reflections, comfort and frequency response. Designing good closed headphones is no easy task, because it's much more difficult to deal with shell reflections, and one has to compromise between sound leakage and mechanical damping. Especially bass region is the most difficult.

    That's not to say however that closed headphone will always sound worse compared to open counterparts. No, it's just that the design is more challenging. And to prove an example, DT-250 sounds much more neutral than any open headphone I have ever owned.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
  13. No Avenger

    No Avenger Audiosexual

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2017
    Messages:
    1,119
    Likes Received:
    789
    Location:
    Europe
    Oh, Oh, the last time I argued against you, it didn't end up well for me... upload_2018-3-27_18-13-31.gif

    Seriously, quite some time ago I read a little research that showed that in-ear headphones do a lot more damage to the eardrums than open over-ear's. So my conclusion, because closed over-ears are somewhere in between, aswell as my own perception were, that closed cans probably do more damage to the eardrums than open ones.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  14. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2011
    Messages:
    1,728
    Likes Received:
    940
    Location:
    Between worlds
    IMHO it always breaks down into the fact that with the transducer closer and closer to the ear canal (and progressively lower and lower impedance), one has to be extra careful about volume.
    Such as the pops and clicks that occurs when equipment turns on, etc.

    I wouldn't say IEMs do more damage to the ear, it's just that it's much easier to cause hearing damage by improper operation with IEMs than any other phone.

    Shure SE846 has indeed impedance of 9 Ohms and sensitivity 120dB/mW, meaning that just a few milivolts would play uber loud through them.
    Still, with proper operation, there's no more ear damage than any other type of cans, as long as safe volume exposure is observed. It's just the risk of messing something up could cause trouble.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
  15. SwingSwing

    SwingSwing Noisemaker

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    3
    I can only describe my subjective perception, and maybe something else is going on.

    It also might be something with the frequency spectrum as the best way for me to explain the sensation I get is that lower (or lower to mid) frequencies seem to build up and I can physically feel (or do I just imagine that?) pressure that irritates my eardrums to the point that I stop it. Maybe I have to EQ it and maybe it's a problem of badly EQ'ed headphones. Basically it gets better when I do that and take loudness away from those frequencies, but I have to do that with an extreme amount...

    Thanks for the help and insight btw :wink:
     
  16. SineWave

    SineWave Audiosexual

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2011
    Messages:
    2,327
    Likes Received:
    1,259
    Location:
    The darkest pit of my mind
    What I always do to protect my ears is: adjust the level of the headphones to the level I feel comfortable with and then turn it down a bit. :wink:

    It also works pretty good with loads of things when mixing and mastering, like limiters, compressors, reverb, EQ, delay... :wink:
     
Loading...
Similar Threads - Loudness Closed Headphones Forum Date
how I can edit the loudness and the dynamic part separately? Mixing and Mastering Jul 8, 2018
Mastering | Loudness | -14 LUFS | -8 LUFS | Why these numbers? Mixing and Mastering Jun 14, 2018
Mastering - Loudness Metering and Fibonacci Mixing and Mastering Jun 2, 2018
Signum Audio Releases Bute Loudness Suite - An Integrated Pro-Audio Solution Software News May 3, 2018
Signum Audio releases Bute Loudness Analyser for Mac & Win Software News Mar 29, 2018
Loading...