Harman was really right all this time about the midrange

this is a new but very late finding of mine that some how unveiled something that was unclear for me. i always share my findings here no matter how dumb or simple it seems because im always learning about new stuff and you might too if you haven’t like my dumb self.
i think i finally found out the “true” and fully uncolored midrange by getto eqing and ABing with my speakers and iems and i found something that harman found 10 years ago. after coping for almost 2 years, i finally accept the harmans midrange or in general philosophy. if you want absolute uncolored midrange harman target is the way to go.
i tried to eq without looking at squig and without some visual biases and the first pic is the eqed version i ended up on wavelet then transferred the numbers to squig by hand and i got the pics of FRs below

my dumbass always found there is a softness of transients even if i eqed the bass down and played alot with eq around the upper midrange, i always thought the 1k to 3 regions were the main issue that i always tried to fix, and i wasn’t wrong, reducing the boost around that region(oracle mk2 is fine out of box) is the first step to achieve uncolored midrange but i always thought there is not enough sharpness in the “snare” transients and my speakers ALWAYS sounded slightly more technical and clearer in just about everything so i finally tried something scary, and that was boosting upper midrange of the oracles mk2 by 5 dbs and reducing the lower mids by 3 dbs with the subbass. this caused the ear gain to elevate from around 8 dbs to 14 dbs and you might think thats nuts and even i thought the same but it really is not, remember that shout comes 700hz to 2000khz not 3khz, look at this video, go to the 1:20+ mark, shout comes from 1k boost not 3k boost ( or better said natural gain) that is natural to the ears.


the green line is how flat speakers sound in room, there is around 15 db difference from 150hz to 3k
and harman always tried to achieve the green target that they measured with their mannequins placed in controlled room next to the controlled speakers in terms of fr and placement . you might ask what the fuck about this huge dip you see around lower midrange when headphones.com tries to flatten harman iems to in room targets? and are these harman tuned iems shouty or thin? NO THEY ARE NOT. read below and lemme explain

here you have some harman iem next to tilted(not flat) response.

and here when you flatten to this "warm"target you get this dip, but rememebr the dotted line is not FLAT.

you might ask how harman creates tilted effect inside ears without fucking up a beautiful midrange? see below
flat speakers in room untilted vs something harman tuned

speakers in room tilted vs some harman tuned iem, as you can see harman lowered the pinna and upper regions to achieve that tilt without introducing mud by adding bass that most people do by tilting the whole fr

(see all the tilts after 3k region)

here is what tilting the whole fr gives you that is wrong, that would mud up midrange and ruin all the beautiful clarity, transients and resolution that you want in your songs to fully enjoy them, the exact way the artist made them.

thats some effort to do a tilt to the fr(that is wrong), and i made this mistake too when i was a newbie 2 years ago tilting the frs and ignoring the fully flat response of the speakers that you really get in a near field situation and on axis when you do not have this warm tilt to the sound. most engineers and music producers would eq the system to make it flat and reduce the in room tilt, and essentially if you remove the in room tilt you get rid of that dip from the lower midrange that is done by headphones.com people.
some random pic from net where the upper frequencies get absorbed and tilted by the objects, something harman does by tilting from 3k to 20k to create a more natural tilted effect to the sound.

and what about the bass you might ask? bass is preference just like sean olives said. the important stuff is the midrange and you really get it transparent with harman target.

some bonus pics ,look at the similarities and the coincidence. the oracle mk1s midrange or bass tuning is the GOAT, now i get it. even the treble is very safe and “correct” to most ears, maybe if it had slight more treble it would have been flawless tbh.

important tip, single dds can’t handle that extreme midrange eq, they choke out easily past 9 dbs of boost. now i get that single dd iems aren’t fully high fidelity, you need a separate midrange driver with enough head room to achieve this transparent midrange. simply get a hybrid ( can be found for cheap nowadays) and do the eq.


That pinna peak would be deadly for my ears lol.


try it, till now i though it would kill me thats why i never even bothered doing it. wouldn’t hurt trying once.

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Yeah I have tried similar stuff and that is aids for me.

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damn, are you sure you keep the 1k-3k region in control?

That kinda tuning just results in a overly thin and shouty tonality to me.


i mean this area ,when i boost this area(black line) the shout and thinness becomes unbearable. but if keeping this area clean don’t work for you then thats your ear canal then.

Yes, my hrtf is very sensitive to the 1-3k area.

as can be seen on my target, note, NOT my neutral target, just a preference target my neutral target would likely be similar but with a different bass shelf.

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bro this graph would sound like if only subwoofers without mid/twitter played music in my ears :cold_face: :sob: but can’t do much with the ear canal differences .

Live music IS really bassy which is one thing I am trying to replicate here.


this is free field though, isn’t this the way average ear hears in a place that got no reflections in an open situation(usually live)?

Absolutely not lol, that target is terrible.

idk, i have heard live acoustic instruments getting played in open space and they were matching to that target very well, unless the instrument gets played in a closed room and the lower frequencies gets cancelled out or boosted when frequencies get stacked on top of each other due to the larger size of lower wave lengths compared to the room size.

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That target might work better for me in another 50 years I guess.

Interesting thread.

Some questions come to mind, maybe you can clarify for me.

  • Don’t speakers in a room behave much differently (perception of sound/music) than headphones and also IEMs?
  • Due to the above, wouldn’t the target frs be different for each auditory transducer type, i.e. speakers, headphones, IEMs?
  • Everyone has their own perception of neutral and also ideal, sometimes this changes day-to-day. (sinus issues as one possible cause of change). Aren’t the Harman curves means and have lots of “wobble”?
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I really dont know, all i know that the harman like midrange is what i apparently hear with my speakers not the “flat” or typical warm sounding midranges, i always thought it technicalities but no. Speakers bass differs in room tho they have more punch and physicality thats why harman tries to boost the lower bass to recreate the “feel” of speakers in room. I even now after finding out this correct midrange tuning have to boost bass now to match my speakers by 4 to 8 db depending on my mood.

Buy harman iems or eq anyrhing you have to harman midrange or treble, and play with right amount of bass for you.

it even works with my cheap ass buds but not as well as my hybrids , buy nova really or em6l and eq they are hybrid .this midrange is heavenly im just speechless. im mind blown honestly, i might not even be needing my speakers now. im really done with audio at this point :dizzy_face:

Idk my perception of neutral is flat speakers, also yes like one day i might add 13 dbs of gain one day i need to reduce by one db one day i need more. one day i perceive the treble slightly more one one day i perceive bass less due to sleep, time of the day nose exposure etc… this is why eq is always needed for in ears. So for treble or the roughly correct amount of ear gain for the average ear harman is the way to go and if you wanna exactly match it to your ears then you need to slightly tweak and eq everyday.

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what i thought was the peak midrange compared to my speakers( was 85-90% close) before and what i think now matches 95% to my speakers on buds and 100% on my hybrids. this midrange change is like magic, its like fits my ears hrtf or the way i listen to music like a glove now, absolutely stunning. its like a missing puzzle piece, before the piece was slightly rough around the edges and now it fully fits in. a few dbs of difference and a world of differences. the slight midrange softness and muddiness are gone to my ears and everything is as trasparent or clear as it was intended.

after 2 days of listening to the harman target with minor bass eq for 6+ hours sessions i can safely say that harman is the absolute truth about midrange and mostly compatible with almost all with its treble tuning, and not all these “flat” midrange sets are flat or uncolored or balanced as reviewers or mis informed people have been telling you, i was clueless and misinformed too until i heard the magic of harman by eq, something that looked so thin and scary on graph that until 2 days ago i never even bothered eqing. and most reviewers have heard variations too and i don’t know how they didn’t figure this out, something so simple yet nobody mentioned it but here ill do so you won’t fall for it if you hate warmth or color or muddiness in your music like i do. maybe they don’t have flat speakers? i don’t know.
it wasn’t the excess of subbass boost that caused the mushiness or bluntness of my oracles, it was the midrange boost paired with subbass boost or better say the recessed upper midrange compared to the average hrtf that mine is similar too.

if you only look at the graph you would say “thats very neutral or balanced”, and most reviewers call this bass boosted monstrosity with recessed midrange aka mega 5 est “balanced”. looking balanced on graph doesn’t mean it gonna sound balanced inside the ear because the ear hrtf is very upper frequency focused by it self and that effects the sound perception of “neutral” by us, this is why harman looks weird and uncanny on paper but fits the average hrtf like a glove.

"but hey, doesn’t it have FLAT mids? it has “BasS tUcK” im worried it got no bass?. it follows the 10 db tilt well? look at the shiny reviews of mega 5 est bro they all call it the best in the universe? brother most reviewers call oracle mk2 thin, shouty or unbearable why you say it sounds like a thick muddy 5000 lbs fat person that just came out of mcdonalds headed straight to kfc for a third round?this makes me not trust your ears at all, btw do you have hearing loss as a 24 yo young healthy man? "
even i was fooled by the myth of flat mids by the cash grab companies by now. but read below. i chose mega 5 est to demonstrate the point because its basically a less bright oracle mk2 and i own that, its much more popular as of now and it even will sound more boomy and bassier than the oracles that i always called unbearable and muffled/ mud fest with only minor treble boost. go read my past reviews on iems section of this forum comparing it to the buds fe and 2 pro even before listening to the magnificent harman by my ears i called the bass super muddy but didn’t know why until now. but why it sounds so muddy next to my speakers? why no reviewer mentioned the mud? read below for the answer.

this is listeners mega 5 est

and this is this iem next to a transparent mud free midrange aka harman ( i fully explained why harman is transparent read my first essay)

here you have 2 types of lower harmonics boost :

1-around 15 dbs of subbass boost, let that sink in, 15 dbs outside of flatbass hrtf all people have is extreme( it doesn’t mean bass boost is wrong by it self, you need bass boost to have natural replay because bass always reflects and get boosted up by objects in nature and we are hard wired to sometimes enjoy it)
2- it has 4 to 5 db midbass boost, so any time you hear any person claiming “flat mid bass on graph” equals no midbass just laugh at them and pass, as you see here flat bass colors or mud up most of the midrange . this is why most thieaudio stuff ( 200hz to 1k uncolored reference flat midrange sounds just like your speakers my ass :joy:)sound warm and fucked up next to more scientifically tuned moondrop iems that always tried to sound reference and authentic to the average hrtf( because they have anechoic chambers and multiple listening rooms and do experiments). and this is the reason why my buds fe on default mode sounds like mud and subwoofers and nothing else despite looking fine on graph(visuals biases man visual biases) , if you give it to people to review most would say “neutral” with “subbass boost”. NO ITS NOT. even the most balanced and uncolored thie that is monarch mk2( most people called it bassless, thin, “so plasticky bruh the timber man so unnatural its so tuuucked” got 4 db midbass boost and 10+ subbass boost !!!)
here is monarch ( its not tilted just flattened) measured by 5128 a tool that maches the average in ear impedance better than the tools we have as of now)

see the boosts i mentioned above.

even in this kind of brain dead tilt picture of below ( i fully explained above why whole fr tilting is wrong and if you even want to tilt you should do it the harmans way to not mess with in ears midrange hrtf that is a must have for a high fidelity music reproduction) you can see the EXTREME amounts of warmth this iems carries, 15 dbs of difference from subbass to 3k, and almost 18 dbs from 20hz and 20000hz :cold_face:that is absolutely horrendous. you will get maximum of 20% the resolution of a cheap reference speaker with this iem or most iems that are tuned in todays market, if you want that then go for it, nothing wrong with that but calling it "balanced, neutral or the best’ is the lie at least for the average ear. its very bassy and warm tilted and not balanced at all.

so yeah, the full mystery of getting the midrange done right on a reference level is all unlocked to me ( by science, measuring data and my own ears )and it was living in my head rent free and im glad its finally over and done. i tried my best to explain with pics and examples so yeah sorry if its somehow messy. :man_bowing: :man_bowing: :man_bowing:

Really cool research. I went over the key points, will dig deep.

I am a Harman trained listener and all the Harman Tuned IEMs I head seemed bad in the mids. I will have to do blind EQ in my upcoming reviews to observe what you said, but thanks for bringing this up

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thank you, i wouldn’t call it research just all my thoughts wrapped up and made sense after i listened to the harman for the first time. so the 2017 version and the 2019 v1 fits my hrtf very well and the 2019 v2 version is slightly off by 2 dbs. if you think its wrong for you i suggest starting with 14 dbs of gain and lowering it db by db to see what fits your ears but keep this rising shape from 100hz to 3k.
also how can i become harman trained too? do you work for them? im very interested in harman now.

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