Super Best Audio Friends

The evolution of the original irreverent and irrelevant and non-authoritative site for headphone measurements, i.e. frequency response graphs, CSD waterfall plots, subjective gear reviews. Too objective for subjectivists; too subjective for objectivists

Read here for initial subjective impressions:


I will be providing mostly measurements with limited subjective impressions pre-measurements. In a nutshell, the Hive is a great e-stat. The presentation is closer to the Sennheiser estats (HE60 and HE90) or HE Jade than the STAX headphones. This meaning they have a more tactile attack. Bass slam actually seems stronger then even the Sennheisers. I believe there were some design considerations made here with regards to diaphragm tensioning, which is quite low. The downside is that the diaphragm has a tendency to stick to the stators if the headphones are not put on very gently. The workaround is to put the headphones on first, let the pressure equalize in a second, and then plug in the headphones in. Running a lower bias can help too. If one likes the ethereal and limp STAX sound, then it is possible that the Hive may not suite them. Personally, I love their presentation. Tonally, they are bit like the HD600s. The stock pads have an 8kHz peak that emphasize sibilance. Fostex woody like pads flatten out this peak a bit.
I have created a new measurement website with the help from Oratory1990. To goal is to have a place for the community to easily share measurements of their headphones, etc. It can be found here,31

I've talked to Purr1n, and he has given me the go ahead to upload his measurements from My site takes in raw measurements from EARS rigs (can also take in data from other rigs), and uses the SN from the EARS rig to fetch the HPN compensation directly from MiniDSP. On top of the HPN compensation, we have developed an estimate at a Harman target response, as well as what we call "Optimum", which is our desired target response.

Now, in order to read in Purr1ns measurements, I have to remove the compensation. To do this, I've taken the SBAF comp from (green rectangle) after talking to Purr1n, and subtracted it from the measurements. What I get looks like this [​IMG]
While I do know there is already a 560S thread containing a bunch of Marv's measurements, I am personally more adhesive to subforum definition. Particularly thinking measurement posts should be placed on the measurement subforum as I've been often lost in finding specific measurements and ended up googling. I'll put a link to the previous 560S measurements at the end of this OP.


As you see in the plot, from 3khz downward, it's very difficult to bitch about 560's tonal balance. Maybe subtly uptiling. But it doesn't sound thin or lean at least for bass and midrange. I am actually kinda liking it. They do have some issues in this region, but fr is not one of them imho.,,
Special thanks to @rhythmdevils for taking us back to memory lane. The AMB Gamma 2 DAC was a wonderful sounding DAC during the infancy of headphone audio. It was available as DIY only; however assembled models could easily be found for sale. The DAC uses the old Wolfson chip, which is a good sounding part, but tonally it could sound all other the place. The AMB Gamma 2 DAC implementation has a bold sound with a minimum of digital nasties. The tone was its primary selling point. It was not the most resolving or nuanced sounding DAC however.

Gamma 2.jpg

I wanted to showcase this DAC because this is an example of how marketing practices prevailed over engineering. For those who actually thought NWAVGUY was a master engineer, looking to save us all from bad measuring gear by developing the ODAC, there was already one DAC design readily available from his arch-nemesis AMB or Ti Kan with arguably better performance. Those of us who have met Ti Kan know what an outstanding and humble dude he is. If there was any DAC that should have been the ODAC, the AMB Gamma 2 should have been it.
Measures x1000 times worse than Magni 3+. Sounds cool, where do I sign up?

The Vali 2+ is different from the Vali 2 in these respects.
  • More present highs - less dark
  • More lively, more resolving, more engaging similar to the Vali 1 (in retrospect, Vali 2 was a step and a half forward, but a step back).
  • I think the Vali 1 still has a small edge in immediacy, but the Vali 1 also has some issues with the super tube microphonics and highish distortion which is audible, but in a pattern that indicates euphonic distortion.
I'm not going to wax poetic on the Vali 2+. However, I do think it would be fun to take measurements using different tubes. Why not? Folks rolled all sorts in tubes in the Vali 2s of old, including rare exotic tubes that cost x4 the amp.
I have so much gear in the queue that I decided that I would do a stream of consciousness review to get you the goods on the DAC2541 as I go along instead of making everyone wait. I know that there is a lot of interest here.


After a day of warm-up, the DAC2541 is ungodly good. Those who want an oversampling DAC with a modicum of inherent warmth, but no outright warmpoo; an honest, but smooth and not-in-your-face top-end; and microdynamics and PRaT that grabs your very soul by the balls, then this is it. I had some idea of how this DAC may have sounded like given my experience with Soekris' prior generation of DACs, but my expectations have been exceeded.

1100 EUR. Wow, just wow.
Per @spwath, we shall conduct a poll on the Harman Curve. This one is public.


Read this for more technical explanation from @Vtory:
Alright? Here we go. Headband badge is crooked. A nitpick, yes, but notable. There are also some marks on the edges that I have circled in red. This seems to suggest either poor plastic moulding or damage during assembly. Maybe they had to replace the badges? They almost look like pry marks. Things only get worse from here.
Synopsis: Measurements of steady state signals indicate of a certain type of R2R design. Low level signals are impressive. The steady state measurement results at higher levels are not earth shattering, but they confirm nothing is wrong, and are more than good enough to not have any bearing on subjective sound quality.

Rockna Wavelight DAC
1kHz sine 0dbFS

The short story is that HE5XX was released, a few FR measurements were dropped, and then suddenly it seemed that almost everyone assumed that the HE5XX was a reskin of the Deva and got their panties in a twist. How dare Drop reskin a Deva and call it an HE5XX? How dare Drop invoke the name of the glorious HE-500 and use the Deva drivers! Surely Drop is deceiving us and we must call them out on this for their shamelessness!


Will, Drop's product guy, attempted to explain that there actually was some effort to create a custom headphone with the HE5XX (of course from HFM's parts bin and bag of know-how), but his explanation satisfied no one. Of course not! Once everybody on the Internet has been wronged (whether rightly or wrongly), the pitchforks must come out. In times such as this, steadier minds must prevail.

So let's proceed with various analyses. I don't know the total answer quite yet, I so will be doing this along with you.
Elekit has been on my radar since I got the DIY bug not too long ago. I've also heard only great things about Elekit amps and the building experience, but there wasn't much impressions out there for their relatively new-ish amp TU8800, their singled-ended pentode amp with a f**k ton of tube rolling options (both blessing and a curse I guess) due to various power mode and two connection modes (Triode and Ultralinear mode). I didn't think too much of the UL mode until I heard @ChaChaRealSmooth 's one off Eddie Current's Ultralinear amp. My god, that amp made my JAR650 into a slam cannon with ZERO Sennheiser veil. It's definitely one of my favorite synergistic amps I've heard with the HD6x0 series. Unless I could somehow trick Chacha into selling me his amp, my chances of obtaining that amp was close to zero. This is where Elekit comes in.

Holy f**k $220? I'm so glad Drop is back to its old self where the deal is so fricking good that I have to give them my money. TBH, I thought this was going to be priced at $399 - "as a deal" - the old HE-500s were what? $699. What it comes down to is that in my mind, the PPP (proper price point for performance), which I can be a bit stingy or tight on, was $400. $220 beats this significantly. The downside for this price is that we will have to wait.


A lot of people are going to be happy that HiFiMan has brought these back from the dead. There's been a segment of hobbyists who have been itching to get that of that old school sound (HE-6, HE-5, HE-500). HiFiMan, while initially saying that bringing them back was out of the question, has been steadily releasing remasters of them in the past few years. Customer demand is hard to ignore. Looks like Drop went all in with HFM on the HE5XX, and that's a good thing because all of sudden, its super affordable. The appeal with the OG HFMs was their timbre and slam. The newer HFMs with their thinner membranes and wannabe STAX sensibilities didn't always appeal to the old schoolers. Despite sounding "faster", many models exhibited steely, splashy, or plasticky timbre, lacked slam, or exhibited bouncy-bouncy effect in the lows. Now I wouldn't say that these HFM remasters go totally back in time to the OG sound, but they do straddle the line between the OG and new HFM sound. It's a good compromise in my opinion.