Sure, but this is more of an information problem, or lack thereof. It’s easier to give descriptions of the experience in terms of resolution/detail than it is an analysis of the fine-grained FR information or potential HRTF-matching (which also hasn’t been demonstrated to be correlated with qualities audiophiles are after). Moreover, I don’t think we can be so confident that what we see on a graph is going to perfectly correlate either. You can’t know that the rig HRTF matches yours, or that the indicated result is going to necessarily correlate with how it’s heard by or measured at the eardrums of individual people.
So to say the result you see on a graph is uniquely all there is, which is what many assume it to be, is also missing an important bit of information… or in other words, until we start measuring at the eardrums of individual people, we should probably be extra careful about what we attribute expected differences to.
To be clear, I’m not saying it’s not all just FR at the ear drum, merely that what I see as the difference between these two headphones on the graph isn’t sufficient to explain the differences I hear between them, and I think this is likely to be a common theme with these.
I agree. Does the MM-500 have any harsh peaks in the treble/upper treble?
I like the Sundara a lot but I am considering a potential upgrade for one major reason. A lot of these Hifiman planars seem to have an upper treble peak that’s quite annoying (around 8-11K) which is a shame because the FR is so close to ideal otherwise with a very full sounding treble response (other than some lacking extension perhaps).
If you index hard for tonal balance, I actually think Sundara is one of the very best you could get. MM-500 is quite smooth in the treble but like, it’s still a bit hot in the upper mids, and I don’t know if overall the tuning is better than Sundara for most people. So, you might like it, but at the same time it’s hard to know if it’s a “worth it” upgrade, if you know what I mean.
I’ve found that upper treble response on Sundara sounds significantly different depending amplification. Sundara’s high end with a Schiit Heresy can be occasionally grating but other amps (like Phonitor XE, K9 Pro ESS, Ferrum Oor) make the same material sound more smooth using the same Source + DAC.
Conventional wisdom here is to upgrade headphones before upgrading source equipment but I think people are really sleeping on how well the Sundara scales. I regularly reach for the Sundara + Ferrum stack in my studio over Utopia and other much more expensive headphones I’ve had and sold.
Looking forward to checking out the MM-500 at some point!
Great write-up! Between the X 2021 and MM-500, which has better macro dynamics/bass slam? The X isn’t amazing in this department, but it takes a bass shelf like a champ, which does help the perceived punch. If the MM-500 is at least equal, it might be the headphone I’m after simply due to it having less weight and more ear gain.
I assume EQ can also fix the hotness at 3k? I’ve been a huge fan of the LCD-X 2021 except for comfort and I’m very drawn to these, but it’s strange to hear that they sound so different when Audezes take EQ so well. I currently boost the mids in the X, so I’m surprised that headphones with mids already boosted would be a big departure. But I guess I might need to audition them.
Yeah if you have a smaller to average sized head I think you can feel pretty confident about the MM-500. And yeah you might not even feel the need to fix the hotness at 3khz - but if you do it’s a very simple EQ.
Edit: Like, even for me, I find myself being able to enjoy it without EQ.