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Axe-Fx III and Headphones

mr_fender

Axe-Master
To me open back cans often sound more natural and my ears don't sweat as much wearing them for long periods of time. They also don't isolate you from your environment as much, so you can still hear what's going on around you a bit. They do bleed audio more though, so they're not a great choice for monitoring while recording with sensitive mics.
 

Rocket Brother

Power User
To me open back cans often sound more natural and my ears don't sweat as much wearing them for long periods of time. They also don't isolate you from your environment as much, so you can still hear what's going on around you a bit. They do bleed audio more though, so they're not a great choice for monitoring while recording with sensitive mics.
Thanks for weighing in.
I'm used to studio work so I know all the general things about cans and the usual pros and cons, but I haven't tried any of the Audeze headphones, and I'm very curious about those.
I agree with you that open back cans are usually more natural sounding, but as you say they bleed more sound through which can be a problem if you have sensitive mics open near your or if you are trying to play quietly with family members nearby / in the same room.
Conversely a closed back can will leak way less sound, and can in some circumstances be a better choice for other reasons as well.
Ie if I have to use cans I love tracking guitars trough my Audio-Technica 50M's closed back cans as they are really punchy and makes me get into the part, whereas my open back AKG K701's are arguably better cans but not very involving to use while tracking.
That is the reson I'd like to know if @luke or anybody else have experiences with Audeze LCD2's open back vs closed back in both a guitar setting and in a more general studio setting.
 

luke

Fractal Fanatic
Thanks for weighing in.
I'm used to studio work so I know all the general things about cans and the usual pros and cons, but I haven't tried any of the Audeze headphones, and I'm very curious about those.
I agree with you that open back cans are usually more natural sounding, but as you say they bleed more sound through which can be a problem if you have sensitive mics open near your or if you are trying to play quietly with family members nearby / in the same room.
Conversely a closed back can will leak way less sound, and can in some circumstances be a better choice for other reasons as well.
Ie if I have to use cans I love tracking guitars trough my Audio-Technica 50M's closed back cans as they are really punchy and makes me get into the part, whereas my open back AKG K701's are arguably better cans but not very involving to use while tracking.
That is the reson I'd like to know if @luke or anybody else have experiences with Audeze LCD2's open back vs closed back in both a guitar setting and in a more general studio setting.

I didn’t know they made a closed version.
 

Manny Kuhn

Inspired
I only do a small amount in the way of tracking or studio work so most of my experience is with just playing and listening to music but I've been using the Audeze LCD2 closed back for about a year and I think they are incredible. As far as closed back headphones, I've used the ATH M50x and the Blue Lola quite a bit and the Audeze are by far better sounding in every regard, IMO. The biggest difference is in the incredible clarity and separation of the various tracks or instruments and that they give an almost room-like feel without being boomy or muddled. I really wasn't expecting all that much difference but I'll never go back.

I did try the open back LCD2 and felt it was perhaps a touch more neutral and a little less 'roomy' feeling, though admittedly I didn't get to do much more than scroll through a few tracks with them. I chose the closed back primarily due to the fact that I do much of my playing through headphones, often with pitch shift and downtune effects which can get really bad sounding when sound leaks in through open headphones.

They aren't perfect however. They are very large and quite heavy, especially compared to something like the ATH. I feel like each side covers nearly half my head, and almost feels like wearing a plush ski helmet. Despite this the floating headband fits well and helps make them surprisingly comfortable for their size.
 

Sambora73

Inspired
Glad this has come up again. Haven’t had much chance to play guitar recently and, when I do, it’s been late at night so have been using headphones more.
I have some DT880 pros (250ohm) and gave up with them last year. Anything above edge of breakup levels of gain sounded really bad. Very thin and buzzy. Music and cleaner tones through the axe fx, or anything,sounds great, nice and clear.
I’ve revisited them recently and I’m finding the same thing. I’ve tried everything I can think of in terms of settings and dialling it out, but no joy. I initially thought they were faulty, but then everything would sound garbage. The axe fx still sounds increadible through my A7x monitors. I can’t make them sound bad, even if I try.

I’m sure I asked before, but is there some simple tips and tricks to setting and using higher gain tones through headphones?

So, I’m still in the same boat, but am trying again and getting pretty frustrated with the 880’s. I’ve tried everything I can think of and fiddled with every setting, eq, etc but they still sound bad. The output 1 dial has to be at least at noon to get useable volume, but this still very comfortable levels. Its almost like the signal is clipping really badly, but the signal is nowhere near the red.
I get they’ll never sound the same, but the comparison with with A7x’s is night and day.

I was messing for hours last night, but when I switched to my ATH 40’s there was no comparison and they sounded worse previously! What??
I know it sounds crazy, but every now and again either set of headphones sounds great, just like my monitors, but then the next time they’re back to sounding garbage.
I was thinking some dodgy connection somewhere, but everything seems fine.

I’d appreciate any help as its got to the point where I don’t even bother firing the Axe up.
 

biskitboy

Power User
I have some DT880's and they sound pretty incredible. It does sound like something is faulty. Is this isolated to the headphone out jack? It might be the physical cable on the DT880's. Usually if a connection isn't 100%, you can wiggle the various connection points and cable to reproduce. I'd do this with the headphones both on the III and elsewhere.

If it is isolated to the Headphone Out jack, you might want to open a support case with fractal. It could be as simple as a ribbon cable not seated all the way.
 

Sambora73

Inspired
Thanks biskitboy. I checked everything and definitely nothing wrong with the Axe as music routed through sounded good, which sort of rules out the headphones being faulty either. I did some more side by side with the ATH-40’s and definitely prefer them overall, but still not happy with the sound compared to my monitors. Not by a long shot.

Anyway, I went down the rabbit hole again and spent hours researching (again) and narrowed it down to Sennheiser hd600s or the hd650. I did consider the hd6xx, but being in the UK it would be nearly as much as the hd650 after import fees, taxes, etc.
In the end, I went for the 600’s as I wanted the advertised ’neutral’ sound. Plus, I managed to get them for £234, a relative bargain. They came today and I‘m over the moon with them. Right out of the box they sound pretty close to my monitors. They wipe the floor with any other headphones I’ve tried, in all areas. They are really comfortable, even on my fat head and are REALLY open sounding, almost like you don’t have them on.
All the other sets I tried sucked the ‘feel’ out of the tone, if that makes sense. I never expected headphones to sound exactly like monitors, just in the same ballpark so presets didn’t need adjusted. Happy to say I got that with 600’s and they’re not even broken in. Finally, my search is over and I don’t feel like I’m settling using headphones.
 

nznat

Inspired
I use Phillips Fidelio L1 headphones which are 26 Ohms. They are some of the very best head phones for the axe fx ive used so far. You only need the input 1 set to about half way and its bliss. Lots of quick ramp up in volume, so you don't need to push a lot into them. I tried a few others and they mostly sounded like a pile of poop in comparison. So at the end of the day, the head phone situation for the axe fx is the most random event on the internet. Trial and error big time and no real input from fractal audio itself, other than trial and error suggestions (this is not fractals fault). Yet again, at the end of the day, everyone's ears are actually physically different, and that is generally not taken into account at all. Very few people talk about the fact that everyone's ears hear differently, thus, one headphone will be totally different for 30 year old mike, as they would be for 65 year old frank. Simple as that. Lower ohm head phones will go loud really quick using output 1 volume control, and 250+ ohm head phones will take a lot more pressure from output volume 1 before they go louder. Other than that, the ears of the beholder will be totally personal. There is no getting away from trial and error in regards to headphones. Simple scientific fact! Again, my very good quality head phones that i got in the bargin bin at a local store absolutely destroy expensive Sennheiser headphones and so on. Rock on!
 
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giantslayer

Inspired
Lower ohm head phones will go loud really quick using output 1 volume control, and 250+ ohm head phones will take a lot more pressure from output volume 1 before they go louder.
I tried a pair of 20 ohm Audeze LCD-X headphones with my AF3 and they distorted very sharply and abruptly at about 1 or 2 o’clock on the dial, at a modest volume. It was a bit shocking to have unintended distortion not accompanied by a high volume. I read up a bit and it was the AF3’s headphone amp distorting because the impedance was too low, but I can’t say I fully understood it.

I returned the LCD-X and got the LCD-2 (70ohm), and I can get plenty of volume all the way up the knob.

Another really fascinating thing I read is that dynamic headphones have an impedance curve (much like the speaker models in the Amp block), which changes their frequency response. If your headphones have around 8 times the impedance of the amp, then you get a more neutral response that isn’t changed by the impedance curve. Planar magnetic headphones like the Audeze have a flat impedance curve, so it is not necessary to get one that is 8x higher, just has to be equal to or greater than the AF3’s impedance (35ohm).
 

Piing

Fractal Fanatic
I tried a pair of 20 ohm Audeze LCD-X headphones with my AF3 and they distorted very sharply and abruptly at about 1 or 2 o’clock on the dial, at a modest volume. It was a bit shocking to have unintended distortion not accompanied by a high volume. I read up a bit and it was the AF3’s headphone amp distorting because the impedance was too low, but I can’t say I fully understood it.

I returned the LCD-X and got the LCD-2 (70ohm), and I can get plenty of volume all the way up the knob.

Another really fascinating thing I read is that dynamic headphones have an impedance curve (much like the speaker models in the Amp block), which changes their frequency response. If your headphones have around 8 times the impedance of the amp, then you get a more neutral response that isn’t changed by the impedance curve. Planar magnetic headphones like the Audeze have a flat impedance curve, so it is not necessary to get one that is 8x higher, just has to be equal to or greater than the AF3’s impedance (35ohm).

Congratulations for getting the Audeze LCD-2. I've been using them several years, since the Axe-FX II. It is expensive, but it puts all the famous studio headphones under the shadow. Unlike the popular studio headphones (I've tried many), it accurately translates what I hear through them to the studio monitors.

Even the always-recommended Audiotechnica ATH-M50x sounds colored and unnatural when compared with the LCD-2

Audeze LCD-2 Vs Audio-Technica ATH-M50x.JPG
 

nznat

Inspired
I tried a pair of 20 ohm Audeze LCD-X headphones with my AF3 and they distorted very sharply and abruptly at about 1 or 2 o’clock on the dial, at a modest volume. It was a bit shocking to have unintended distortion not accompanied by a high volume. I read up a bit and it was the AF3’s headphone amp distorting because the impedance was too low, but I can’t say I fully understood it.

I returned the LCD-X and got the LCD-2 (70ohm), and I can get plenty of volume all the way up the knob.

Another really fascinating thing I read is that dynamic headphones have an impedance curve (much like the speaker models in the Amp block), which changes their frequency response. If your headphones have around 8 times the impedance of the amp, then you get a more neutral response that isn’t changed by the impedance curve. Planar magnetic headphones like the Audeze have a flat impedance curve, so it is not necessary to get one that is 8x higher, just has to be equal to or greater than the AF3’s impedance (35ohm).
yes, anything from amp ohm output rating x4 or x8. I.e. axe fx 3 headphone amp being 35ohms. Thus, 35 x 8 = 280ohm headphone. Yet even 35 x 4 = 140ohm headphone is fine and will take a lot to break up, and wont volume up to loud to quick. But its all dependent on the type of head phone besides their ohm rating. it really still is a trial and error thing. My 26ohm head phones are still amazing, just don't have them too loud. I use at about half axe fx output volume. perfect. Also, if you have 300ohm headphones or more, then you could get the headphone amp output to max and still not reach the headphone sweet spot where it sounds most neutral and flat response. Crazy levels of trial and error with this situation eh. But there are some reference headphones a lot of people have used that seem to be mostly very good and suit MOST people. use them as a reference point i guess.
 

nznat

Inspired
Here is an odd question! Computer Gaming flat response headphones, Razor and the like. Anyone tried them for the axe. Its Not a silly question really, because many of them are VERY high quality and super flat response for accurate surround sound and very high audio quality. I wonder how they would work.
 

Piing

Fractal Fanatic
Here is an odd question! Computer Gaming flat response headphones, Razor and the like. Anyone tried them for the axe. Its Not a silly question really, because many of them are VERY high quality and super flat response for accurate surround sound and very high audio quality. I wonder how they would work.

I've heard at several audiophile reviews that Razers and other gaming headphones have skull shaking pounding vibrating bass, to satisfy the bassheads.
 

nznat

Inspired
I've heard at several audiophile reviews that Razers and other gaming headphones have skull shaking pounding vibrating bass, to satisfy the bassheads.
i agree with that, but there is a lot of different versions. just out of interest. not all are designed for bass excess.
 

paulmapp8306

Fractal Fanatic
Hd650s or akg 702s depending.

The akgs have more air and wider sound, the has have more bass, better mid definition and deeper sounstage, but less top end clarity and width.

I tend to prefer the hds for gain and akg for clean or fx laden sounds.
 

Jarick

Experienced
I tried a pair of 20 ohm Audeze LCD-X headphones with my AF3 and they distorted very sharply and abruptly at about 1 or 2 o’clock on the dial, at a modest volume. It was a bit shocking to have unintended distortion not accompanied by a high volume. I read up a bit and it was the AF3’s headphone amp distorting because the impedance was too low, but I can’t say I fully understood it.

I returned the LCD-X and got the LCD-2 (70ohm), and I can get plenty of volume all the way up the knob.

Another really fascinating thing I read is that dynamic headphones have an impedance curve (much like the speaker models in the Amp block), which changes their frequency response. If your headphones have around 8 times the impedance of the amp, then you get a more neutral response that isn’t changed by the impedance curve. Planar magnetic headphones like the Audeze have a flat impedance curve, so it is not necessary to get one that is 8x higher, just has to be equal to or greater than the AF3’s impedance (35ohm).

I have to think those LCD-X were defective...20 ohm headphones should be extremely loud past noon on the dial, so if they were lower volume and distorted I bet there was an issue with the headphones.

I've used lots of headphones from about 20 ohms up to 300 ohms and the Axe FX headphone output worked great.
 
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