behringer BH 470

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published: Feb-22-2021

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NO SMOOTHING is applied to the shown plots. Most measurement sites have some smoothing applied which ‘irons flat’ sharp peaks and ‘wiggles’. I do not use smoothing because some info about sound quality is lost when plots are smoothed.

Aside from a small correction of the microphone itself also some correction in the lowest frequencies is applied to the plots to compensate for the perceived loss of bass when using headphones. This is described HERE in more detail.
A ‘horizontal‘ frequency response curve on the shown frequency response plots on this website thus indicates a perceived ‘flat’ tonal signature.

ALL measurements are made with a good SEAL on a flatbed measurement rig.
The shape of your head, bone structure, pad size, pad ‘softness,  (compliance), hair or no hair and or wearing glasses may (drastically) change the frequency response of some headphones, so… your personal experience may differ substantially from these plots.

Frequency response (tonal balance) is the most sound-determining aspect of headphones. A horizontal line shows audible neutral response in the plots on this website. Deviations in different severities at different frequency bands have an effect on the sound character.
The bigger the deviation the stronger the effect.

Below an aid to help determining the sound character of headphones with relation to the frequency response.

descriptors2

post separation
behringer BH 470

The behringer BH 470 is a closed over-ear headphone. It has the looks of a typical studio type headphone with a not typical all silver or black appearance. It can collapse (cups into the headband) and also fold flat which is handy for easy transport. No bag nor case included though.
The construction looks and feels solid but is mostly plastic. Padding feels soft and luxurious.

The cups can swivel and tilt and the headband extents far enough so this headphone will probably fit on most heads. This headphone is new and adjusting it feels ‘solid’ yet is easy to adjust. When adjusted it stays in the same position so is not too loose and not too stiff.

The cable is fixed and almost 1.5 meter long. When you pull on the cable (half of it is coiled) it extends to 3meter. A typical length and construction for studio and desktop usage. The cable terminates in a gold-plated 3.5mm TRS jack with a screw-on 6.3mm adapter.
There is some microphony in the cable so touching the cable or the cable rubbing against clothes creates an audible sound in the left cup. At least it is not disturbingly loud and totally acceptable when playing music.

This headphone can be worn for a longer time period and feels comfortable.
Then there is the price. These sell for around € 23.- (Thomann). That’s no typo. When reading the above description one would expect to pay at least € 100.- or more. So what’s the catch, what can be expected from a € 23.- headphone  ?

Well, aside from the sliders for extension of the headband, and possibly the headband itself, this is a complete all plastic headphone.
I cannot make an educated guess as to how long the mechanical parts will work as new, how easy it will break and how long it will last.
Pads are replaceable but I don’t get the idea the pads can be ordered separately. You would have to rely on after market pads. None of the pads I have as spare parts fitted this headphone. The cups are a bit smaller than most headphones.
The leather-look headband and pads are soft pleather (fake leather) type and suspect will flake after some time.
On the other hand… buying replacement pads or a replacement cable, even most after market ones for other headphones may probably be more expensive than simply buying a new one.

Comfort is fine, longevity is probably fine, certainly for the price. Remains sound quality. At least that’s what we buy a headphone for.
I have seen and read some reviews (there aren’t many) all expressing bassy sound. That in itself is not a problem and can even be a good thing.
The sound quality of that bass (and the rest) is important and the reviewers all ‘liked’ the sound.
I’ll be short. When you are looking for a decent to high sound quality with a bassy (or not) balanced sound with good clarity, this is not it.
There is bass, be it a bit muddy, and it is above neutral. Mids are simply dull/muffled and lack clarity. It is as if one is listening to a pop concert just outside of the stadium or at the end of a field. Treble (highs) are there but a bit soft. A good thing is the treble quality is not peaky, sharp nor sibilant. Just a bit on the soft side.
Those looking for a warm/bassy sound even with the worst and bass-shy pop recordings with a harsh sound may possibly like this headphone.
Those looking for a more realistic sound should look elsewhere.
Sound isolation from outside noises is decent to good for a closed headphone. People around you won’t hear what you are listening to.

While the cable is too long and bulky (coiled part) for portable usage the efficiency is high enough that this headphone an play quite loud even directly from a phone. In home studio’s this might be handy as most cheaper home studio gear has low powered headphone outputs. This will work well.

For portable usage this headphone could work. Nice looking, not expensive, 3.5mm connector, efficient … but … that cable is not handy.
For home usage on (quality) desktop amps this headphone doesn’t have the required sound quality and can be blown up easily by accident.
For studio usage this headphone is usable but the build quality seems sub par for heavy duty usage. Perhaps for monitoring bass or some instruments it could be usable. It can never be used for mixing or sound evaluation though.

specifications:

Type: Over ear, closed
Usage: Home, studio, portable.
Driver type: dynamic
Driver size: 40 mm, angled by 3 degrees.
Pads: replaceable, pleather (fake leather)
Sound isolation: decent to good
Inner pad dimensions: height: 55mm, width: 40 mm, depth: 20  mm.
Fold-able: Yes and can lay flat.
Headphone connector: fixed
Cable entry: single sided (left side)
Cable: 3.0m partly curled
Power rating: 30mW
Max. Voltage: 1V
Max. current: 30mA
Max. S.P.L.  122 dB
Impedance: 32 Ω
Efficiency: 107dB/mW (122dB/V) 
Weight: 280 g.
Clamping force: medium
Colour: Gunmetal and brown padding
Accessories: 6.3mm screw-on adapter

Sound description:

This is a ‘dark’ and boomy sounding headphone. Bass is emphasized band not of great quality, misses clarity. As if one is listening to a pop concert outside of the field.
Treble is soft but does not sound ‘muffled’.
People that do not prefer a clear and forward sound may possibly like the sound.
With poor quality MP3 pop recordings the sound signature isn’t particularly bad. Those looking for good clarity and treble will not want to use this headphone for well made recordings.

measurements

Below the frequency response of the BH 470 (Left, Right)

The bassy character (60-300Hz) and missing clarity (dip between 2kHz and 5kHz) is evident. The treble above 6kHz is not very jagged and well extended. The elevated lower mids, the dip around 350Hz makes the sound muddy and lowers bass quality.
Upper bass is 20dB higher than the upper mids which is very audible.

Below some comparisons with some other notoriously ‘dark’ sounding headphones. First up is the Meze 99 (Classic)


Bass extension of the Meze 99 is far better. The ‘cuppyness’ peak around 500Hz is not present in the Meze99. Also mids are not nearly as sloping as much. While the Meze 99 do lack clarity it is not nearly as much as the BH 470. Treble quality between both headphones isn’t very different. The Meze, however, is at a higher level compared to the BH470. In short… much less clear and less bass quality than the 10x more expensive Meze.

Below the Master & Dynamic MH40 vs the BH 470
The MH-40 also has elevated bass and excellent bass extension but from 500Hz onward is better balanced.

Below the AudioQuest NightHawk.

Here too bass extension of the NH is better.  Bass and lower mids are elevated but there is a 10dB difference in level of the upper mids making the BH470 a lot ‘darker’. The bass/mids response of the NH also is a lot ‘smoother’. The upper treble again is fairly comparable in texture and quality.

So the BH 470 has a lot less clarity compared to other ‘darker’ headphones.

Seal

Seal can be an issue with closed-back headphones. Breaking the seal (improper fit on the head) usually means a loss of (sub)bass. Below the effect of different levels of seal breach are shown .
Perfect seal, Seal broken with a pair of glasses, seal broken using a 6.3mm TRS plug.Due to the soft pads with their large surface area people wearing glasses that sit close to the skin do not have much to fear. Even glasses where the arms aren’t flush with the skin do not have to fear a lot. Bass levels become even more sensible but bass extension does not get much worse.
With a more substantial seal loss the ‘cuppy’ sound becomes more obvious and bass depth audible suffers and become less ‘full bodied’ sounding.

output resistance / damping-factor

As this is a dynamic headphone the frequency response might be amplifier output resistance dependent when certain higher output resistance amplifiers are used.
To test this the headphone is measured via a low impedance amplifier of 0.2Ω, at 10Ω, 32Ω 120Ω. These traces are overlaid so tonal balance changes can easily be seen. On a higher output resistance amplifier the output level will be lower as well. At 10Ω the level drops 2.5dB, at 32Ω 6dB and at 120Ω the level is 13dB lower.The good news here is that a higher output resistance only results in a lower output level. The impedance is as good as flat and the tonal balance is hardly affected by the output resistance at all. The resonance frequency of the driver is around 70Hz and the level change with a 120Ω output resistance is around 1dB max.

Below the distortion measurements of the BH-470 (Left channel).
The plot above is in a dB scale, below the same measurement but in a percentage scale.While most measurements are taken at approx. 90dB SPL this wasn’t as easy to do with this headphone. The average SPL is around 90dB but the bass levels were around 100dB SPL. On top of that the driver has a low power rating so distortion at 100dB SPL was quite a bit higher than at 90dB for the bass levels.
In any case the distortion levels certainly aren’t impressive and even on the high side of things for a 40mm driver. Reaching an almost audible 10% at 60Hz. This is also caused by ‘pad bounce’. The pads do absorb and shortly ‘store’ energy at this frequency.
Above 300Hz distortion numbers aren’t very high except around 6kHz where it reaches an audible 1%.
NOTE: The actual 2nd harmonic distortion above 1kHz may well be lower than 0.1%. A shortcoming (measurement limit) of my measurement rig.

Phase measurements

Below the phase response of the BH 470.The lower treble is about 120 degrees shifted in phase compared to the mids.

Below the Group Delay plot some readers like to see. (Left channel)

The pad bounce around 60Hz is clearly visible. Otherwise the plot looks pretty normal. The 350Hz ‘dip’ is also visible and is a resonance.

Time domain measurements

Below the CSD (waterfall) of the BH 470 (Left and Right are overlaid)It is quite obvious the lower frequencies are not well damped. The upper mids dip also is evident. At 4kHz there is a short resonance but not an audible one. Treble above 6kHz doesn’t show any alarming ringing.

Another form of looking in the time domain is the spectrum plot. The amplitude is color coded and both the time scale and frequency scale differ as well.

Below the spectrum plot of the BH 470 (Right channel) Frequencies below 400Hz aren’t well damped. Also some issues around 1.2kHz which aren’t seen in the CSD as that doesn’t look as ‘deep’.
Most likely this is caused by the small and hard surface closely behind the driver. At 4kHz the resonance seen in the CSD is also visible.

Below the step response with a dB scale (so not similar to an oscilloscope plot which has a linear scale).  The step response (Left and Right channel overlaid)

The rising edge stops 10dB below the target (0dB line). Together with the upwards sloping part this shows the dark sound signature that is missing clarity. Bass extension also isn’t great. A slight downwards slope is fine but this one drops really fast after 2.5ms. There is enough bass, just not great bass extension.

experiments

In attempts to see if with simple modifications the sound quality can be improved and removing the pads and drivers it became clear the housing (cups) clearly were not designed for this headphone. Instead the cups were designed for a Noise Cancelling headphone.
The baffle is completely sealed. On the left side, next to the driver we can see a plastic structure that is specifically designed to house a small electret microphone which is needed for noise cancelling functionality.
In the picture on the right the rear of the driver (a generic Chinese made driver). The space behind the driver is very small and has 5 small holes in it (3 are obscured by the driver baffle).
There are for the wires going to the noise cancelling circuit (may even include BT) and/or a battery back that would be located in the cup. There is quite a lot of space between the plastic part with the holes and the actual cup.

Some experiments were done with taping the holes shut and with some (not perfectly fitting) pads but none of these experiments was leading to a much improved response. The upper mids dip and treble did not change.
Of course bass levels did change and improved when more damping was added in the small available space behind the driver.
Below experiments with different amounts of damping material and materials used.
No damping material, some fiber material as found in pillows, a thin layer of (medical) cotton, denser amount of cotton.

The cotton removed too much sub-bass but flattened the response. The early roll-off was quite audible. It works fine when the goal is to create a headphone for monitoring voices or guitar but was not enjoyable with music.
The hollow fibre stuff found in pillows worked better as it damped the 500Hz peak and the 1.2kHz peak that also was visible in spectrum plot.
Bass is still elevated opposite the mids and the upper midrange did not improve. The distance, however, has become 15dB instead of 20dB and thus improving the tonality somewhat.
The mids and treble now is at the same level as the mids and because of this the treble is not soft and subdued but at the proper level.\

Below some measurements made with the damping ‘wool’ in the cups.

Bass extension is down to about 30Hz but is kind of ‘masked’ by the hump between 80Hz and 200Hz. The pad bounce dip (pads absorbing 60Hz) is still there too. That bass hump is about 5dB lower than without any damping. 5dB difference is quite audible.
The 500Hz peak is lowered 3dB as well and makes the mids less ‘coloured’. The dip between 1.5kHz to 6kHz is now a bit wider, from 1khz to 6kHz.
Because the 1.2khz part is a resonance it still is good news. The treble did not get lower (it differs a bit but that is because the position on the test fixture is not the same) but because the bass and mids are lowered the treble is relatively become higher and the dip between 1khz to 6kHz also is relatively smaller.

No, this headphone hasn’t become a desirable headphone but at least it has improved over the stock version by just adding some wool behind the driver. All that needs to be done is remove the pads (very easy) and loosen the 3 small Philips head screws. Then you can lift off the baffle.
There are thin wires inside so be careful. You can add some wool, close it up and listen. When you want less bass open it up and add a bit more. When you want a bit more bass then remove some of it. Do this to taste. Just make sure you use an equal amount for both channels and make sure it isn’t coming out from under the baffle as that will give undesired leakage.

Below the distortion measured alternating between the stock and modified headphone.

 

Below the same data but in percentages.

Below the differences between the CSD (waterfall) of the stock and modified BH 470
And a similar comparison for the spectrum analysis

This simple modification improves the sound quality a bit and makes it more usable. It doesn’t suddenly become a very desirable headphone though. It still lacks clarity and is on the warm side of things. O.K. for some monitoring and perhaps a relaxing sound when listening to shrill low quality music.

summary

The Behringer BH 470 looks nice, feels nice, has a very nice price but that s where the nice parts end. Sound quality is sub par. The headphone is overly bassy/warm and not of particularly good quality and is a bit muddy, lacks clarity and the treble is subdued.
You can’t have it all. Adding some wool in the cups improves the headphone somewhat on several aspects. It becomes somewhat enjoyable on bass-shy and shrill pop recordings and some older rock recordings.
The BH470 is very efficient but looses about 5dB when modified. Still enough to play very loud on just a phone.
Even though it is marketed as a monitoring headphone it is too coloured for that. Maybe some instruments could work with it

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