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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.

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On this page measurements of:

Fake audio-technica: ATH-MSR7
Veclan: Monk Plus
Silvercrest: KH-2347
Intempo: Pulse
Nameless

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fake audio-technica ATH-MSR7

ath-mrs7

A genuine ATH-MRS7 costs around € 230.- and audio-technica calls it the ‘flagship’ in their ‘Sound Reality’ line up (Hence the MSR name). It even has a ‘high resolution’ logo which suggests it must reach at least 40kHz.
It is clearly targetted at the portable market. Low impedance (35Ω) so can be driven from portable devices.
Efficiency is reasonable so can play loud enough from most portable devices.
It comes with a carying bag, a 3m cable with straight 3.5mm TRS, a 1.2m cable with more luxurious looking 3.5mm TRS plugs where one is straight and the other angled. There is a 3rd cable with a microphone and controls with a straight 3.5mm TRS and an angled 3.5mm TRRS plug.
The MSR7 can fold flat but cannot collaps which some other portable headphones can.
It looks and feels quite luxurious and has a striking resemblance to the Sony MDR-1A
They fit nicely and have a good adjustment range. The cups can swivel in all directions.
The pleather (fake leather) pads feel nice and soft but compress a lot (which is good for getting a good seal) but also means they aren’t suited for people with protruding ears.
The headband feels nice and soft as well.

In the end it’s not about looks and features but all about the sound.
Despite the raving reviews I see here and there and the 5-40000kHz range and HiRes logo I can’t seem to like this headphone.
This is probably due to this particular headphone being a fake though.

The description and measurements below MAY not be representing the real deal.
Don’t know for sure though untill I measure another pair.

It sounds… ermm… very ‘clear/clean/bright’ but not very ‘HiFi’.
With a HiFi sound I mean a present, deep and clear bass, lovely mids and a smooth yet extended treble with a slightly ethreal ‘shimmer’ on cymbals and strings that sound ‘real’.
Well this one has clear bass and on recordings with LOTS of it you can even hear it extends down low BUT it is too low in level.
The mids are pretty decent, albeit a bit too ‘forward’ and clear. Basically mids is all that you hear.
That plus a ‘raspy’ ‘sharp’ and not well defined treble that doesn’t extend that well either.
Am I not impressed ?… No… am not. Do I think it is a HiFi phone that enthusiast can enjoy ?… No. Does it have any good purpose ? .. Yep I think it does. It would make a decent and comfortable monitoring headphone. It may not isolate enough though for this purpose.

Below the frequency response of the fake ATH-MSR7. Left, Right.

msr7-fixed

The ‘target’ response (for perceived ‘flat’ sound) is a horizontal line. It measures just like it sounds. Mids centered. From 100Hz to 3kHz it looks ‘decent’. As it is not ‘slanted’ upwards nor downwards you could say it has a very good ‘tonal balance’ and mids sound ‘neutral’. A small dip around 4kHz followed by a peak around 7kHz. If it were any higher this headphone would sound ‘sibilant’ and even ‘sharper’ than it does now. Above 7kHz it drops off quickly. At 10kHz it is already -10dB which means the upper treble is already half as loud as it should be. At 20kHz we are already down -20dB !
Even though my rig isn’t really accurate above 17kHz I have measured quite a few headphones extending well above 30kHz.
Where does this leave the HiRes logo ? What if I played a 24/192 FLAC and expect to benefit fully from the extended frequency range ? (That is, IF you feel you can hear it)
I don’t think so… Yes the headphone SOUNDS very clear and bright and treble jumps at you.. But it is the lower treble you hear.. not the finer details, just the ‘coarse’ ones.
Will it reach 40kHz ? Well it might have a resonance there that could reach say -20dB (opposite 1kHz) and then you can at least slap on a seemingly worthless HiRes logo.
The bass… well every reviewer says it doesn’t have much bass.. yet the specs say 5Hz.At 20Hz the output is already -10dB (half as loud as the mids).
Extension is there though and when listening to movies with it you may actually hear the rumbles. For popular music the bass levels are way too low though.

Below the distortion plot of the left driver.

dist-mrs7-l

This actually isn’t that bad. Even though the level of the bass is below par the distortion isn’t very high. Does this make up for the ‘wonky’ frequency response ?

Below the CSD of this headphone.
mrs7-csd

No lingering (resonance) frequencies in the 1kHz to 20kHz range. Even the 7kHz peak is well damped. There isn’t much ‘energy’ above 20kHz but this CSD shows something I haven’t seen in other headphones. Above 25kHz there pops up something after 4ms.

This isn’t seen in the Spectral plot below. What you can see here is a poor ‘decay’ around 700Hz. When you look closely at the FR and distortion plot you can see it is there as well.

sppect-mrs7-l

Another way to say something about time domain is by looking at square-waves and impulse responses.

sqr-mrs7

The 40Hz response clearly shows the horizontal lines are too low in level (should be about equal to the fed signal). The 400Hz actually looks a lot like a squarewave with not too much overshoot. This indicates the mids are rather good.
The impulse response, however,  leaves something to be desired. It doesn’t reach the intended level and appears to consist of a 7kHz ‘sine’ with some weird (over damped ?)’step’ following it. No ringing behind it so damping is good. Also no evidence that this is a ‘fast’ driver in reality even though the headphone ‘sounds’ fast due to the sharp and ‘midrangy‘ sound it has.

There is a relatively easy way to ‘ease’ the pain of listening to these headphones.
Test, experiment results and some modifications can be found HERE.

When you find it lacks in bass levels and find it too bright the easiest way is to open up the headphone and modify the back of the driver. Just pull off the pads and remove the 4 small Philips screws in the baffle.
Once the baffle is taken off all that has to be done is to open up one of the covered holes  on the driver. I opened the second one but it doesn’t really matter which one you open.
The paper covering the magnet should not be removed as the midd-bass becomes too elevated and sounds muddy.

edge-hole-open

I also placed some 5mm thick cell foam in the cup itself. It didn’t do anything measurement wise though but kept it in there. So the foam inside normally is NOT in there and part of some tests/mods.

foam-in-cup

Below the difference between a stock fake ATH-MSR7 and with the modification described above.

hole-open-vs-stock

As can be seen the tonal balance between 20Hz and 3kHz is pretty flat but dipping around 700Hz. This dip is a resonance in disquise as can be seen in in the spectral plots below.
The upper mids/lower treble -10dB dip around 4kHz followed by a +5dB 7kHz peak, a -20dB 11kHz dip and -10dB upper treble make this headphone duller and the lack of treble extension is no longer masked by the 7kHz treble peak. The treble quality after this mod doesn’t really improve (isn’t smooth and detailed sounding) but the overall tonal balance has transformed from midrangy/clear/sharp to balanced (not ‘warm’ nor ‘cold’ sounding) with a subdued but present treble up top.

To me this is a modification worth doing when you find this fake headphone too bright/sharp sounding and miss some ‘body’ to the sound. It doesn’t become a bassy headphone though but the weird and sharp treble is nicely masked by the more neutral bass response.

Below the frequency response of the modified fake ATH-MSR7, left, right channel.

driver-hole-open-l-r

Positives:

  • nice look and feel
  • can be used directly with portable equipment
  • pleasant to wear
  • decent for monitoring purposes

Negatives:

  • bass shy
  • midrange is over accentuated
  • treble quality is poor
  • poor treble extension
  • not ‘HiFi’ sounding

In short:
This headphone lacks ‘body’ and smoothness in the treble. I don’t think it is worth the ‘HiRes’ label nor do I think it is a desirable headphone for enthusiasts. Definitely a no-go for bass-heads. I think it is over-priced and think there are better sounding headphones in this, and lower priceclasses.

Even with the modifications above I still don’t rate this headphone any higher. Mostly because of the poor treble response.
The modification only changes the negative ‘bass-shy’ aspect to ‘neutral’.

Not recommended for hifi, not even with modifications.
Spend your money elsewhere and above all DON’T buy this headphone without the possibility to return it or auditioning it. Some people seem to like it.
At least ensure yourself you audition the REAL deal, the above may only apply to for fake versions.

Below the driver of a genuine ATH-MSR7, below that of the measured (and most likely fake)

ath-msr7-fake

The enclosure differs on the inside as well. The driver looks very different. Either Audio Technica has 2 versions OR excellent looking copies exist using cheap drivers.
There are other Audio Technica fakes around.
Be warned

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Veclan Monk +

dscn0039

The Monk is a very cheap earbud ($5.-), the Monk Plus comes with a bag of foam and rubber rings and other ‘fixing’ materials for $ 5.- more.

dscn0038

These are thus very CHEAP yet sound ‘decent’. At least better than some of the supplied crap that comes with many portable equipment.

These sound decent WHEN you can get them to seal well. None of the family members were able to despite the + package.

Below the frequency response (for what that is worth on my rig which isn’t really suited for this), left earbud only.

monk-fr

They sound like this as well. Decent mids.. quite forward and ‘open’ sounding. Lacking deep bass (even when pushed in my ear with proper seal). The treble is rolled off and thus sounds a bit subdued but kind-of smooth as well. Definitely not a world class sound but.. decent for the price.

Below the distotion plot.

dist-monk

Well…. this actually isn’t that bad. a small peak around 2kHz.

Below the CSD.

csd-monk

Below the spectrum plot.

spect-monk

I wish some of the much higher priced headphones showed this kind of behaviour. No idea if this is standard for earbuds. I don’t care for earbuds nor IEM’s.

And finally the square-wave and needle pulse plots.

monk

The 2kHz resonance shows everywhere… it’s $ 5.- what can one expect.

In short.. decent for the money. Not HiFi nor a must have. Great to give as a present.

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Silvercrest KH-2347

DSCN2472

The Silvercrest KH-2347 is a cheap OEM Noise Cancelling headphone. It was sold by the ALDI supermarket chain. The frequency response extension on both ends is surprising for such cheap headphones. The big ‘hump’ between 20Hz and 500Hz makes it sound ‘muddy‘, dark and a bit boomy. There is also quite some imbalance between both channels. The peak at 6kHz is a resonance (see CSD plots further down) and makes the highs a bit ‘non-resolving‘. The extension in the highs suggests it should sound ‘airy’ but the sharp peaks and 10dB higher lows prevent the headphone from sounding great in the upper mids and highs. Below the plot in ‘off’ or ‘bypass’ condition. In this case the speaker inside is not driven by the internal electronics but driven like a normal headphone. It is the preferred way for usage though for THIS particular Noise cancelling headphone and NOT so for most other NC headphones.

kh2347 bypass

Below the same headphone (the position on the rig wasn’t even changed) but now with the Noise Cancelling circuit ‘on’. There is less bass BUT the 100Hz to 400Hz is amplified. This sounds even worse than without the circuit. Add to it that it also ‘hisses’ audibly (as some others do as well). Activating the noise Cancelling circuit does reduce some of the monotonous noises but certainly doesn’t drown out outside noises as well as one would like it to be.

kh2347 on

The plot below shows the differences in FR (left channel only) between the ‘bypass’ (blue trace) and ‘on’ (green trace) condition.

kh2347 bypass - on

The CSD plots below show quite severe ringing around 1kHz which becomes even worse with the noise cancelling circuit activated (green plot). The activated Noise Cancelling circuit does reduce some of the ringing below 500Hz. Also the sharp peak around 6kHz shows considerable ringing which doesn’t help the sound in any way.

kh2347 bypass wf-lkh2347 on wf-l

CSD (left channel) with Noise Cancelling off (bybass)                     CSD (left channel) with Noise Cancelling on (active)

Not a headphone I would recommend for it’s sonic qualities. For the price you do get a pouch and decent earpads which can be used for experiments on other headphones.

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Intempo Pulse

DSCN2799

There really is very little to say about this €5.- headphone bought in a toy store.
It looks decent and so is the comfort (for kids heads), all plastic, no idea how long it will live though.
It does have a decent isolation (which was the main goal) and instead of being all ‘midrange’ as most cheapies are this one is the reverse.
It does not have any (clarity) in the midrange at all, just ‘bass’ and lower mids. Suited for crappy low bitrate music only really.
I measured and wasted some space and words on it just for s#!t and giggles.

below the frequency response……

pulse

The kid loved it and can ‘remove’ ambient noise with it. Mission accomplished.

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Nameless

noname

These were a freebee when buying cheap shoes… Nuff said.

Frequency response .. sounded that way as well.

FR fakebeats

and … distortion:

DIST fake beats L

That’s actually not even that bad !
And below the CSD.
CSD fale beats

Sorry to have wasted your (and my) time with this… carry on…

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