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Posts tagged headphones

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Bowers & Wilkins P5 (frequency response)

I know, I have already written a post about the Bowers & Wilkins P5 headphones, they are good, no doubt, I totally recommend this to you for further details read the full blog. Now the only thing I have found (quiet often), are wannabe audiophiles who claim this headphones have great mid-ranges or that this headphones have a bad bass and what not. I don’t like to guide things by opinions but by facts, therefore I present you a small analysis of the frequency response of the Bowers & Wilkins P5.

First thing first, if you are not familiar with the terms and all the jib-jab, don’t confuses the frequency response with the frequency range or bandwidth. I have even seen quiet a few audio product related manuals confusing the frequency range with the frequency response. I would probably blame translators and not the companies themselves.

When it came to my mind that I wanted to analyze this headphones’ frequency response, the first place where it occurred to me to look for was at the B&W site and I could not find such thing there. Then I decided to contact their support team, after a day (that was fast), someone came back to me, pointing at this review by PC Magazine. 

In that review, they present a frequency response chart, comparing the B&W P5 with the Grado GS1000 (Fig. 1) and another frequency chart comparing the response of the two channels (Fig. 2).

Figure 1. Frequency response chart comparison between the Bowers and Wilkins P5 and the GRADO GS10000. In the x axis the frequency in Hertz and in the y axis the magnitude in decibels. 

Figure 1. Frequency response chart comparison of the two channels of the Bowers and Wilkins P5 and the GRADO GS1000. In the x axis the frequency in Hertz and in the y axis the magnitude in decibels. 

If you know something about signal processing you are probably wondering, where’s the test signal, what was the sampling frequency of that signal (probably 40K), what was the output impedance of the player used for this test, what’s the frequency response of the transducer used to perform this test, what was the window used to estimate the transform. Wonder no more because there is no record of that data and you know what, probably not even PC Mag will be able to answer you this questions, they probably don’t even know or care about those things. That’s why I got back to the B&W support team and they told me that they didn’t have the data, that I should request the data to PC Magazine.

Now, you would wonder, why would you care about all those things? well because if you don’t care about those things, you aren’t really doing a good frequency response analysis, you are just performing the Fourier transform to some data.

Anyway I kept looking for a more serious analysis and I found out that Inner Fidelity wrote a very complete blog reviewing the B&W P5. There your will find another frequency response chart (Figure 3). I have already requested the data of both of the sites, if any of them provide me with the appropriate files, I’m willing to do a much more exhaustive analysis of the frequency response, I will write the software that’s necessary for such purpose.

Closing statement

What do we learn about this? Do not trust a freaking audiophile telling you shit about headphones, trust the data and trust the controlled data only. In the end what’s more important is not the fancy charts, the real important thing is that you like what you buy.

BTW and if you didn’t already know, Fourier is awesomesauce! 

Filed under fourier frequency response frequency bode plot electrical engineering digital signal processing dsp b&w bowers and wilkins p5 headphones audiophile

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JVC (HACN80) VS B&W (P5)

That’s right, I’m going to compare a set of JVC and a set of B&W headphones.

Audiophiles are probably already saying something like: “The clear winner will be Bowers and Wilkins, there’s no chance for JVC to fight back”. But you know what, I don’t think I have any audiophile readers, so fuck that.

Anyway, direct your attention to Table 1, the first thing you will notice is the price, it is almost an order of magnitude of difference. ¿Should this be the indicator that one is better than the other? I don’t think so, I don’t like to use the price as an indicator of quality(although most times it is).

Table 1

Now, what qualifies me to compare this headphones? Well, I have them both, I like them both and I have some spare time to write this. Table 1 should only serve you as a quick way to compare both of this pieces of hardware, you must decide what are the features that you want in your headphones.

Cons about the JVCs HACN80:

  • Made almost entirely of plastic.
  • The impedance in the off mode is not the best match for an iPod/iPhone/iPod/¿Zune?.
  • They apparently look goofy (this is a common comment I get).
  • They fall way too much from your head, unless you are still and not shaking your head a lot.

Pros about the JVCs HACN80:

  • They are extremely under-priced for the quality they provide.
  • They are a good buy for music lovers (not for snobs).
  • The noise attenuation is really good for the supported bandwidth (obviously).
  • You have no idea how comfortable this headphones are, no idea. You can wear them for about 4 hours without feeling any pain.

Cons about the B&W P5:

  • They are not cheap.
  • They are not so comfortable after long periods of time (after 1 hour you will feel a bit of pain in your ear).

Pros about the B&W P5:

  • They are entirely made of leather and metal, which should last more than just plastic and vinyl.
  • Although the P5s are not active noise attenuation headphones, they do a great “passive” job blocking a lot of the outer noise.
  • They are esthetically good looking, they don’t look as goofy as the JVCs.
  • The controls for the Apple products work as expected and are handy for Skype/Facetime calls when you are using them with your computer.
  • The sound quality IS FUCK-AMAZINGTASTIC-KICKASS, they are not bass punchy like the Dr. Dre’s headphones and are not plain as most headphones, they provide a good balance for most frequency ranges, though I have yet to find a bode plot for the frequency response to be sure about this.


This is just a way to put face to face two pieces of hardware, I like them both. If you are about to pick a new pair of headphones, be sure to try them first. Although my opinions are extremely awesome, you can’t trust we both will react the same against certain features. Some people like their headphones only because they have punchy bass, some people can’t stand leather, some people just hate certain brands.

Although I like how the P5s sound, I hate how uncomfortable they are. I hate the fact that my JVCs are made of plastic and that they are (to some extent) fragile. 

Filed under jvc b&w bower wilkins headphones apple review p5 hacn80