DIY Headphone Measurement Contest Winners! Worst Measuring

Worst Measuring DIY Headphones
We have three "winners" in this category. Frankly, I'm surprised how well most DIYers manage to do, building a headphone that measures well is not easy. None-the-less, we did end up with some cans at the bottom of the barrel. The good news is that we learn from our mistakes, and you've got no where to go but up from here.

Prizes for this category were the best sounding headphones I could scrounge up. I figure these guys could use some good sounding cans to help draw comparisons with their DIY efforts.

3rd Place - Alder Woodies by nickn

Man we've got stuff wiggling all over the place on these. Big bumps in the bass and changes with movement make me think you need to try a softer, less 'bouncy' pair of ear cushions with these cans. Also be sure to put some vents in the cushions so they don't spring on the trapped air. Difference between left and right channel on the 30Hz square wave looks like ear-pad seal to me, but the difference in THD+Noise looks like there's something else going on as well. The isolation looks good.

Third prize in this category is an old pair of PX 200s I had around. I actually had three of these to give away. I think they're quite good, but the new PX 200-IIi is better. These are handy little cans though, and sound quite good.

2nd Place - Zebrawood Wharfdales y dBel84

After seeing these measurements I thought for sure they would be unlistenable. Oddly enough, they sounded far better than they measured. Don't ask me why. I might suggest softer pads that seal better, but I tend to think the thing to do is just leave them alone. Bring them to meets and let people listen to them, then show the measurements. They're living proof that sometimes measurements don't mean as much as we think.

Second prize in this category is a pair of pre-production Philips M1 headphones. I'd keep them, but Philips will be sending me another pair when production samples are available as I can't measure or review pre-production units. They're pretty good sounding, though! As I write this I realize dBel84 has won twice now (he got the Chicago Bulls Mix Masters) and is taking home some sweet schwag. Congrats, mate!

1st Place - Fostex T50RP by Teejay

Ahhh! Now we're entering Duggeh territory. These headphones measure very poorly indeed ... and they sounded pretty poor as well. This is where I would advise taking them apart and starting over. But let me be a bit more encouraging.

I get to sit in this silly judgement seat because I've been working on headphone amps and such for 25 years. That's long enough to forget where I started, so every once in a while I pull this old yellowing box off the shelf labeled "Original HeadRoom Prototypes" and have a look. These are the boards from about 23 years ago, when HeadRoom was just a name and a dream. Have a look ...


Bwa ha ha ha ha! What a piece of junk. It sounded about as good as it looks. Awful ... just awful. But that's how it starts! So, give it another go, you just may be following in my footsteps.

First prize in this category gets you a pretty fine sounding headphone: a brand spanking new AKG Quincy Jones Q701. It's got about four hundred hours of pink noise testing done to it, but it's been worn less than an hour. You won't have to worry about breaking them in, that's for sure.

Right, let's see which DIY can measured best!