Why do we not see more audiophiles like this? -> using VST plugins, EQs etc. to shape the listening experience

Just wanted to share with you guys what i’m currently fiddling around with

Yes, these are VST-plugins that i’m listening my music through atm. I just started, but i can already tell, that this gives a whole new level to the “game” - as long as you are open to it. VSTs have come a long way and are being used in professional recordings, just like EQ.

My question is - do you guys have experience with it?

And my second one, is a bit more rethorical - why don’t we see more “audiophiles” like this, trying to shape stuff even more to their likings or enhancing their experience with software? While i 100% do understand the “puristic” approach i have a hard time accepting close-mindedness in this regard. To me, trying to optimize everything just by buying new gear and changing cables (…) just to have another system, that shapes/colors/expresses the music in that new “fixed” way is just… restricting. I mean - you at least need a somewhat modular system with a choice of different components that you can combine, i.e. different HPs, IEMs, Speaker sets, Amps, DACs. Sure, like most of us have. But something like VST is great fun and i can only wholeheartedly recommend to try it out! There are tons of great, free VSTs and tons of somewhat affordable ones.

As is said, i have only started doing this, i knew VSTs from back in the days where we used this stuff to make and record music. If someone is interested: i use an extremely simplistic setup which doesn’t need a DAW at all. It’s Windows 10 with virtual cable

and VST-host

This guy explains it quite well, it’s also possible on mac:

Yeah, maybe you guys want to give your opinion / experience with it or not. I don’t really care, i’m having fun. :wink:


some do, but most don’t as it takes away from how the music is meant to and supposed to sound. it ruins the sound profiles of the headphones, speakers and amplifiers you’re using. why spend thousands on hardware and equipment when you end up just forcing it to sound the same in the end?

EQ’s have use, like when a musician / artist / engineer uses it to get the ‘sound’ they want you to listen to. or when you use one for fun and see how it influences the music. but using it frequently means you’re shoehorning what you’re listening to, to your preferred sound profile which ruins the purpose of having different gear.

edit - many may disagree with my thoughts, or they may share more legitimate uses, but most of us are purists who chase ultimate gear so we can hear how something is supposed to sound. in a way, the equipment and their sound differences are most audiophiles EQ. :wink:

the thing is: i guess you have to admit, that even the setups in our forum here alone can sound vastly different. Even with all this striving for “neutral” “analytical” “balanced” (…) reproduction, every headphone sounds different than the other. So the question is: how is the music really supposed to sound? It gets hypothetical really fast here. That’s why audio engineers rely i.e. on their studio monitors to find a sound that works on a high-end system and a kitchen radio likewise. That means, that every hifi system ever will have some kind of sound, the music always gets shaped and colored in many ways. You even decribe it yourself, that’s why people have different gear, to have an influence on it, i.e. to get the reproduction / respone that fits their mood of the day - or that fits the kind of music their listening to, from their perspective, the best. And i do that all the time and i’m enjoying it a lot!! I’m only asking myself - why not also use software to do exactly that?! I didn’t mean to always balance out stuff, to “normalize” all the music to “one specific tone” loool nope, that was not my point at all. I just think this stuff can really change and add to the experience and what is possible with the great gear we all have. Let me give you an example: in the screenshot, one of the VSTs is FerricTDS mkII. It “simulates some dynamic effects as can be obtained with some high quality tape gear.” And i can say it’s quite extraordinary at doing so. So - many people would call that heresy, “why bend and bulge the music like that, is that noise you’re ADDING to the music?! reeeeee!!! And yes, i understand that. But as far is i know, listening to music is mostly about FUN. And yes, that’s what all of this is about. Fun. I can only try to put out the message, how much fun there is to have with software. I mean - how many guys are EQing with APO. APO even supports VST!! (but not all of them, that’s why i went a different route) I would love to share experiences, if anyone has tried. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Interesting. I got a tube amp and a Class A headphone amp with apparently decent crossfeed instead. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

If it sounds more “like you’re there” to you, that’s all that matters. The possibilities are endless with (non-virtual) equipment too. (It’s also fun to mess with this stuff and color the sound in all kinds of unnatural and non hifi ways sometimes, too).

I don’t like EQ because I use my headphones with many sources. EQ-ing my headphones through software while creating and EQ-ing music in another program and all the cpu and ram needed to do it… that’s another can of worms.

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If it doesn’t exist yet, hi-fi VSTs for high-end media players would be interesting (there’s already actual guitar amplifier companies collaborating to create virtual amps as VSTs, so all this might be coming soon – the technology is available for sure).

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i 100% support being experimental with hardware instead of software, no doubt about that. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Regarding not liking VST as it’s just another layer that makes things more complicated - in my setup, switching from the whole VST-chain to pure WASAPI and back is done with one (!) single step, just change the audio device in Qobuz from virtual CABLE output to my Yggy DAC. That’s it, VSTs be gone! Makes it really easy, also to compare.

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exactly!! In music production and i.e. for guitar amps this has been done for ages! Just google “amp modeling”. Why should something like that, trying to authentically reproduce the sound of different amps, not also be 100% applicable to hifi?! Well, i guess the differences in Hifi are a bit more subtle … but it roughly hits the spot. My current VST chain, on the other hand, sounds like a great tape recording running through two behemoths of oldschool speakers with some kind of vintage amp in the middle that adds loads of character (=saturation, distortion, very well emulated by IVGI ) and i’m currently listening to rock-/metal-stuff. The added “gain” is - to put it lightly - very well welcomed.


In my opinion.
If its instrumental music, the same way the instruments sound in the space they are played in. Like you would be there listening them play there.
If its produced or electronic music. The way it sounds on being mixed or ready.
Reasons why i selected what production uses so it would “sound the same”.

Id say its more to please, its pleasing and satisfaction to hear music you like.
Even with crappy speakers and systems or headphones, a good song gives chills or goosebumps. But with gooooooood audio gear. Its just better much experience and much more pleasing.

Fun would be to blast 4x15" subs inside a car or watch is the kitchen dishes move around the cabinet and mailbox lid moving because music bit too loud. :grin:

But this VST… its just no. Even without trying.


I’ve only ever used VSTs on one occasion when I wanted to recondition some broken recordings I bought off Google Play Music (320 MP3) that had clipping distortion in them. I found this configurable VST that I could run as an output plugin in Winamp and it did an impressive job cleaning up the distortion, I just didn’t ever put enough time into fiddling with its settings to make sure I wasn’t trading off too much information from the not-broken parts of the recording in exchange for the distortion fix. Anyway I re-bought that album later in FLAC and it was distortion-free so that closed that chapter for me. But I still have that VST saved somewhere because I found it impressive how it could clean up clipping like that and spit out a fixed WAV for you.

Oh but I think we do, at least in places I’ve been hanging out, many of “the greats” of audio reviewerdom do EQ their headphones and occasionally tell you how to do it too. Off the top of my head I wanna say metal571, Currawong and Resolve have recommended EQ tweaks for obvious imperfections of various headphones.

The reason you hear it as rarely as you do in headphone reviews though, or as such a marginalized subject, is that the frequency response is an integral part of what quality of product we’re being asked to pay a specific list price for, so it has to be reviewed unmodified. That’s why pretty much everyone does it that way, it has to be a review of the product itself, not of some personalized setting added to it that won’t be transferrable between users because not everyone has the same software.

I actually don’t, because it’s being purist about the wrong thing, i.e. the gear. Some people treat the gear as the sacred object that has to be used unmodified, like the source of enjoyment is listening to the specific way a piece of gear reproduces the sound, with all its colorations and imperfections, rather than the goal being to get the highest fidelity possible, something as close to the original sound as it was heard by the engineers at the end of the mastering process, and thus making the gear “disappear” or become perfectly “transparent”. The former is gear-philia, not audio-philia. Audiophiles use whatever tools are available, alone or in combination, to get as faithful a sound reproduction as technically possible, including software processing if necessary. Gear-philes worship the stock response of pieces of gear and prioritize keeping that untouched over achieving fidelity of audio reproduction. :wink:

AFAIK the best way to get max fidelity for a given budget is to get the lowest-distortion transducers possible (in the case of headphones that would mean planars for most people) and then EQ them to your personal HRTF according to dr. Griesinger’s method or whatever method you can find that’s practical for you. Whether this will involve VSTs depends on your available devices and software, for example since the output from Griesinger’s app is an impulse-response file you could use a convolver VST to apply it to all your audio.

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