1. WE LISTENED - GATHERING FEEDBACK
We asked our customers how satisfied they are with the S4 model and sorted feedback into two buckets. The good stuff and the bad stuff. The more research we did, more obvious it became what are the challenges we will need to face.
2. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
In the research phase, we're making thorough market research, finding all the products that are available on the market, study them, and try to find a different or improved angle to it.
Research showed the need in the industry for truly balanced headphones, more balanced than many projects, and home studios are. A tool that can help engineers deliver A level results when they are not in a world-class studio for whatever reason. After researching what the ideal response would be, we dived deep into Harman's target curves, IEC standards, and what our competitors consider flat. Yes, even software solutions.
THE TARGET RESPONSE
We learned that so many engineers consider HD650 to be almost perfect with exception of being shy in the low end. We focused on developing frequency response that would be similar to 650's but with a touch more low end. So the S4X are designed to fulfill the need for reference monitoring in smaller studios and working on the go or from home.
IMPROVING THE HEADBAND
The biggest challenge with the headband was that it rang when you touched it. So we tried different designs and decided on flat steel. We then focused on clamping force as it affects the sound pressure that changes the frequency response significantly. The goal was to achieve a sweet spot where we got a good response while fitting most head sizes to ensure comfort.
DESIGNING NEW EARPADS
In designing the earpads, we knew we need to make them bigger, to increase the listening comfort and we also wanted to test different materials to improve performance in different conditions. Keeping that in mind we needed an earpad, that will support the frequency response we were looking for.
We tested dozens of earpad samples and it was like finding a needle in a haystack. The frequency response changes drastically with just the change of the earpads. That's when we knew we would have to make a completely custom ear pad to fulfull our needs perfectly.
3. TESTING WITH THE PROFESSIONALS FROM THE INDUSTRY
We were really happy with the results we got in the lab. But before we were ready to release the new S4X to the world, we wanted a green light by the professionals from the industry. We reached out to Marc Urselly [U2, Foo Fighters, Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Sting, Keith Richards] and William Robertson [Mick Jagger, Nicki Minaj, Will.I.Am] to deliver the final verdict.
"I love my S4X reference headphones: they sound fantastic, are reliable and trustworthy, sit comfortably on my head and around my ears, don't give me ear-fatigue and don't press my ear onto the glasses allowing for continued and comfortable use.”
- MARC URSELLI
[U2, Foo Fighters, Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Sting, Keith Richards]
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