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

I'm putting this under the mods and tweaks section despite the mention of the Modius E. @JK47 brought the Modius E to my attention when he mentioned the use of this DAC with the CMLI-15 Line Input Transformers. There had been a lot of talk about these transformers back in the day when people were trying to get better clarity out of their Yggdrasil A2/OG for feeding the single-ended inputs of their amps. The single-ended outputs of the Schiit A2 DACs were said to be more grey sounding or veiled compared to the balanced outputs.

I have enjoyed Moondrop in-ears for several years now and they have been one of my favorite go-to brands. They consistently offer good tunings, as a whole, across their line-up, and are high value to performance ratios. I’ve had high hopes of Moondrop staying the course on this proven track, while continuously improving upon previous efforts, so needless to say, I was looking forward to hearing the new Aria 2.


The Aria 2 is a 10mm single dynamic that has purportedly seen improvements in the driver itself, as well as the acoustic chamber in which it resides. Moondrop claims the driver structure is patented and contains a TiN ceramic-coated dome composite they developed. As to what other improvements have been made, the Moondrop marketing material doesn’t really specify.

The housing is all metal construction (alloy casting, CNC milled) and supposedly is held together with customized screws versus the typical adhesive. The nozzle and screw on caps are gold-plated brass. The screw on nozzle cap, which is easily replaceable, contains the screen and filter (no more stick on mesh filters to lose). The underside of the body, still contains 2 vents in similar location as the previous model, but the inner-most pressure-relieving vent, nearest the nozzle has been redesigned inside a recessed area of the housing.
I had planned on getting to this later, after everybody else had theirs (like what I did with the Mjolnir 3 where I was later adopter), but I changed by mind. What the heck? Besides I know lots of you readers want to know. Quite a few have already asked me.


I don't read Jason's column regularly. I catch up to it after the fact, maybe months later. I would assume that the Magni Unity is an endeavor from Schiit to unify its Heretic and Magni+ lines, the Heretic made for people who like listening to measurements, the Magni+ for people who like listening to music. The irony is that the Magni+ already measures damn good with respect to measurements, well over 100db "SINAD" (per Audio Science Review's definition of SINAD), but this isn't good enough for some people. Nevertheless, there are very audible differences between Magni+ and Heretic.

I can't find the post, but a while ago I pulled out an ancient Magni 2 Uber and was surprised how well it measured. I think it was 113db "SINAD". This amp came out when? 2015? That was eight years ago. I think it's funny how Audio Science Review a few years ago made it seem that Schiit only made gear that measured badly while the Magni 2 Uber was sitting in front of everybody's face the entire time.
I was hoping to get through my backlog of gear reviews before the end of the US Thanksgiving Holiday. With this teaser, I guess we can say that I partially kept that promise. I will follow up on measurements for this and other gear during the coming week. The EC Mini is a transportable CD Player! Yes, CD Player. On the cusp of 2024. Are CDs making a comeback like vinyl? Maybe, who knows? I know there are more than a few readers who still use their spinners.

What I can say so far is that the EC Mini is sooo fricking cool!
EC Mini.jpg
Shanling EC Mini and ETA Mini C Headphone

I have not yet had the time to test all features of the EC Mini. The EC mini has a number of outputs. On the front panel are a 1/8" phono jack for headphones and a 4.4mm TRRS jack for balanced connectors. The back has RCA lineouts and a USB output to feed DACs (coaxial, optical, and AES digital are non-existent). There is a little switch for vehicle mode which I assume activates a buffer in case the laser loses tracking for bumps.

There are buttons on the front of the EC Mini for power, play, stop, eject, forward, back, and volume. The display on the top of the unit has iconography for repeat, back, play/pause, forward. To my delight, these icons are not decorative, they are functional - the display is touch sensitive! Shanling after all did make it tempting for me to press them!
Recently, I bought @jexby 's Schiit Piety and mentioned I was pairing it with an Arya Organic (which I ended up not getting because the HE1000 Stealth was only a hundred dollars more and I never had a good experience with any Arya I've tried.) He brought up that there aren't real impressions of the Arya Organic (or any of the Hifiman thousand dollar tier of headphones.)


And honestly, I could see why. I have a very varied history of trying Hifiman egg-shaped headphones and absolutely hating them for one reason or another. The only ones I liked were the original HE1000 and the HE-X - All the Anandas, the Aryas (minus Organic,) and Edition XS all had SOMETHING in the treble that ruined the timbre completely and I couldn't listen to them long. Or, in the Ananda's case, the dynamics being so bad that everything sounded like it was all the same volume and there wasn't any real nuance to it (I.e., the wall of sound.)

I had heard the Arya Organic (and the HE1000s) had fixed a lot of these issues, but...well, that was from a few youtubers. Then I looked a bit deeper (and watched Resolve's review) and came to the realization that the treble was probably entirely too hot and spikey in the FR for me to enjoy. The HE1000 Stealth, however, had a very similar FR except for higher lower-mids and a lot smoother treble.
In theory, I should have not be able to tell the difference, but I did. The test procedure was kind of clunky with an assortment of cables and a primitive switch. I'm sure the "objectivists" cried foul and moved the goalposts as always, pointing out that 103db "SINAD" may not have be sufficient for transparency or the manual procedures used for switching the sources was inadequate, i.e. my kids or wife who did the cable switches telepathically beamed what they did with the cables to my brain. This time around, I wanted to be more sure, so I used a machine, the Van Alstine ABX comparator to conduct the randomized ABX tests.

I did this really quickly. The way the Van Alstine ABC comparator works is that it lets the listener go back and forth from Test 1 to Test 8 at their leisure for a long as they want. For each test, the amp A or B is randomly selected beforehand for the set of 8 once the formal "test" button is depressed. I decided to speed through like mad man, as if I hated the tests. Normally I take practice sessions, but I felt pretty confident I could tell the difference. Modius E, a high SINAD DAC was used as the source. The outputs of the devices were adjusted with a 1kHz signal so that they were within 0.1db. My JAR600 was used for the test. One of the reasons for this is that the E50 seemed to have issues driving 26.4-ohm loads into 2Vrms with one channel, but no problem with driving 300-ohm loads. Both amps were selected because of their high "SINAD". The Unity no better than 115db. The Topping 121db. Per objectivist theory, both are transparent and one should not be able to tell the difference.

I don't plan on commenting much on the L50 as I know there is probably no interest in this from readers of this site. However, I did wanted to post some measurements. This unit was not sent or gifted to me by Topping. I had to buy it from Amazon (there are some discounts going on with Topping gear which I am never seen before. Act now!). Let's just start with ASR type measurements.


It's been a about a year since I last reviewed a Topping product. The last was the D10s (reviewed here) which was forgettable - that is I actually don't remember anything about it. I know Topping gear has next to zero interest here, but I think it's important to take the pulse of things Topping every now-and-then to see how far they have progressed. We never know, maybe one day their audio engineers will design by ears first and measurements second, rather than design purely by APx555*. I know expectations are low from everyone here; but hey, I love to be proven wrong. And in the past, I have been proven wrong and admitted it.

My 40th Birthday Fundraiser! I’m 40 years old! And I have been sick with a severe chronic illness for which there are few treatments and no cure for 19 years.


I actually have been doing a birthday fundraiser for the last 4 years since 2020 but haven’t shared much about my illness here, so I haven’t posted them here.

But after reappearing suddenly in 2020 after being absent from this community for 7 years (I know a lot of people here didn’t understand this at least at first) and then becoming very close with this community for 3 years and then disappearing again suddenly this last summer for 3 or 4 months I would like to explain what has been going on with me and explain the illness and my story a bit and also give you all a chance to donate to the best cause you could possibly donate to. There is no other illness that causes so much suffering and is so neglected, where your donation will have such a huge impact on the quality of life of millions of people around the world.
First of all, don't listen to me. Check out the plethora of honest Douk Audio U3 reviews on YouTube:! I think one guy even said it got him to listen to music again! Wow, this $40 amp must be really amazing! A giant killer even! A new standard in HiFi? Crafted by the ancient elves!


Second Harmonic (H2) Distortion Product
When I started to look at how to effectively integrate my REL R-305 subwoofer with a pair of "mains" speakers using a statistical approach called Design of Experiments to optimize integration of subwoofers for a given room with a set of "mains" speakers.

To start with here is an introduction to Design of Experiments.

Design of Experiments (DOE) is a powerful tool that can be used in a variety of experimental situations. DOE allows for multiple input factors to be manipulated determining their effect on a desired output (response). By manipulating multiple inputs at the same time, DOE can identify important interactions that may be missed when experimenting with one factor at a time. All possible combinations can be investigated (full factorial) or only a portion of the possible combinations (fractional factorial). Fractional factorials will not be discussed here.


An example trace as my starting point for reference is shown. The purple trace is where I started with the sub in, the brown trace with the sub out, before optimizing things using the DOE approach. The following is the real-time, IN-ROOM measured response for the right speaker:

I just saw they’ve released a new, higher-end Phono stage: the Skoll…
Figured we’d need a thread (didn’t see one on searching).
Anyone out there tried it? I really like the price (a lot), and am sorely tempted.


MOD EDIT - Impressions start here: