Overdriven Beats Studio Wireless?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Tucom, Nov 3, 2015.

  1. Tucom, Nov 3, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2015

    Tucom macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2006
    So I JUST got these fantastic sounding Beats Studio Wireless today, and I've been so thrilled with the sound I thought I'd load up Logic Pro X to hear how one of my songs sounded on these cans.

    For some reason a heavily distorted bass line - which sounded fine on my iMacs internal speakers prior to getting these headphones - was for some reason super overdriven when played back through the Beats that it caused super loud incredibly high playback and distortion. I immediately stopped the track.

    My question is: Could that have had any cause of damage to these headphones? This all happened when they were connected via BlueTooth, so wouldn't the DSP and fact that it's a wireless signal prevent that actual drivers from being overdriven vs. if they were connected directly to a headphone amp? Finally, was it perhaps Logic Pro X that was distorting the signal (and it was redlining, heavily) and the headphones were merely reproducing this distortion, so in actuality the drivers and headphone itself are totally fine?
  2. Riku7 macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2014
    Beats by Dre headphone lines are known to have the characteristic of having super emphasized bass end. They're basically for listening, not for mixing. Computer's internal speakers however tend to be the opposite, they have very little bass compared to, for example, desktop speakers which have separate drivers for bass and treble frequencies to produce a more balanced overall sound. iMac's sound is of course better than a laptop's, which is rich in treble. If you've been doing sound mixing with your iMac's built-in speakers, because they naturally lack full bass, you might have punched in a lot of bass to start hearing some of it come out from the speakers. However, when you play the same mix from more balanced frequency speakers, it would've sounded overly boomy. When you replay that mix from headphones that have an especially accented bass range... Oh boy. Because of this, I'd recommend you to not do sound mixing on headphones or speakers that heavily accentuate some frequency ranges, because you get nasty surprises when playing it on other output devices.
    I don't know if there's actually any system there that would prevent an overdriven signal from reaching the headphone output; Audio output devices are meant for listening to sounds that are mixed so that they "don't go to the red", they aren't built for producing more than they physically can. Ignore your personal opinion on what the sound is like when listening from iMac's speakers. Look at the visual meters indicating the outgoing signal's strength – are you in the red zone? If you're in the red, the culprit is already in the music/sound itself, and you should adjust it until it stays in the safe range, green or yellow. Then listen and it shouldn't distort.
  3. Tucom thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2006
    Exactly Riku. I did overdrive the gain for the bassline to compensate for the iMacs lack of. And it was redlining heavily.

    I've actually since exchanged - painlessly (unsurprisingly) - my Beats Wireless at the Apple Store for the same model because I was worried that I damaged them and just had to have the peace of mind (given they were less than a day old $400 headphones), and the replacements sound identical. It appears that they're pretty hardy headphones, and good to know they can take (at least short bursts of) intense distortion etc. - Not that I would ever DELIBERATELY do so.

    For rough drafts I find these headphones to be pretty legit and very revealing/detailed for music production, but I'd absolutely reference my mix on a clinically flat sound system before it ever got published or what have you.
  4. Riku7 macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2014
    Alright. Well, it's good that you got the replacement item. But in the future, remember to secure-check the meter before attempting to play back audio, as it definitely is one way very capable of busting those speaker cones for good. ;)
    In my opinion, Beats shouldn't be used for frequency level / spectral proportion mixing at all, as you tend to forget that they have significant built-in boost to them and your mix will sound nothing like it on other devices and in the worst case, can break output devices when the levels get too high. Headphones with accented frequencies such as heavy bass are best for listening to already complete music, or for listening/clipping/editing recorded audio clips (vocals etc.) to analyze what you want to keep and what has to be trashed. Remember that Beats line is (conceptually) designed by rappers, and pretty much in every stereo system which has a preset equalizer setting for "hiphop", it means a massive boost in the bass. Beats headphones are designed for listening to beat-heavy music. Sometimes works well for classical and some acoustic music as well. Hiphop is minimal in instrumentation, therefore the bass boost doesn't necessarily interfere with frequencies that you'd need clear. But if you have music that has almost constant output of sound throughout all of the spectrum, bass boost in the output system just makes it sound muddy and distorted.
    But on using Beats headphones for making music – that's about monitoring whether a recorded take was a keeper performance-wise, not to analyze and edit its spectral properties.

    If you dislike your iMac's lack of bass, there's one thing you can try to temporarily make up for it:
    There's a free little menubar app called Soundflower which allows you to mess around with your internal sound card a bit. Back in the day I had very dark-sounding cheap speakers and I wanted to lighten up their sound for good. I used Soundflower to create a virtual routing so that I created an equalizer preset, making up for the "flaws" of those speakers. Soundflower routed all of my computer's sounds via that equalizer, and out of the speakers. Made them sound better without having to buy equalizer hardware in between. Now, I don't recommend you to do this if you're actually trying to do some serious work-related mixing, obviously! But if you dislike your Mac's internal speaker sound overall and in general, this little workaround can make it a bit nicer for your personal preferences. It affects *all sounds*, including online videos, iTunes, alert sounds and so on. You can switch it off when you're done.
    Soundflower, however, can be a bit tedious to use and it takes a while to learn.
    An easier and far more user-friendly application which modifies your computer's overall sound on command is Hear (by Prosoft Engineering). It's not free, but if you'd need speaker compensation or for example, temporary virtual room creation, effects etc. often enough, it's worth it.
  5. Tucom thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2006
    Nice man, read the whole post.. appreciate the info!

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4 November 3, 2015