E-MU Walnut - Brief Impressions and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by Hands, Aug 4, 2016.

  1. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    emu walnut.jpg
    Credit to Massdrop for the picture.

    E-MU Walnut Impressions

    Have you ever used the Creative Aurvana Live? These are obviously the same thing, but from some strange bird company that decided to add some wood to the cups to give you wood. The wood is actually a nice touch, but I wish it either had a really nice, shiny finish, or had more of a natural, grainy wood feel to it. It reminds me more of veneer the way it looks and feels...kind of dull, kind of weak and hollow sounding. But, hey, better than plastic for sure!

    These headphones are lightweight, don't clamp too much, and have nice pads. They are fairly comfortable to wear, though they do get a tad warm, the pads are more on-ear than over-ear, yet somehow still comfy, and the top of the headband could use more cushion. I can't wear these quite as long as the HD650 or MA900.

    Sound wise, these are surprisingly agreeable, bassy headphones. Bass is strong and powerful but not particularly fast or well-defined. It does bleed into the midrange just a bit, but not too bad. The overall sound is lively, which is partly due to the bass response.

    Midrange seems a tad laid-back but is fairly clean and well defined. Not much else to say.

    Treble is where things start to get a bit funky. Overall, the level of the treble is very good, and it too is fairly clean, fast, and well-defined. However, it doesn't sound particularly fatiguing or nasty, but it has some rough spots that can make the headphones a bit etched and papery sounding. Still, the overall tone is more bassy and laid-back than anything, just with a wee bit of a rough timbre up top without being fatiguing.

    Staging is not bad for a closed headphone. They do not have a ton of depth, but width is good. They don't sound too honky or closed-in, nor are they incredibly airy. I would say they do pretty well here, but not great.

    Overall, this is a good portable, bassy headphone that only really suffers with bass tightness and speed as well as a slightly rough upper-end. There's still a lot to like here, though. I think I might prefer these to the Meze Classics 99 in a lot of ways, though I'd say the Mezes are a technically more competent headphone.

    Where I hesitate is the $200 MSRP. The CAL! can easily be found under $100, if not closer to $50. Are these worth the extra cash? Probably not. I think Massdrop had the E-MU Walnut for $100. Worth it then? I'd say so. I do think the wood helps the sound overall, and they sound pretty good for $100. Mod them a bit, and you have a fine, portable headphone on your hands.

    Measurements

    Frequency response has some similarities with the bigger Fostex brothers (i.e. TH-X00), just not as refined, but also not as bright either. Channel matching is quite good! You can see what I mean, though, about a bit of roughness in the upper-end. It sounds more laid-back than rough, but you can hear the roughness poking through.

    EMU Walnut FR.png


    Bass distortion isn't great, and it's dominated by 3rd order distortion (think kind of a fuzzy, loose bass sound). Otherwise, distortion is very low. I don't think you can completely solve this with Dynamat and other damping, but there is certainly some room for improvements with mods.

    EMU Walnut Left FR THD.png EMU Walnut Right FR THD.png


    CSDs look very nice overall. I think you can see just a hair of resonance in the upper-mids/lower-treble, but this is overall a very good result. Couple this with the low distortion, these headphones are surprisingly clear and fast sounding if you ignore the bass and slightly rough timbre.

    EMU Walnut Left CSD.PNG EMU Walnut Right CSD.PNG
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2016
  2. Poleepkwa

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    @Hands . Always nice to see some love for the CAL! How did this version compare with the original? Have you modded any of them? What mods would you suggest to start with?
     
  3. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I can't recall based on memory how similar or different they sounded. I have a mod thread up around here somewhere.
     
  4. Poleepkwa

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    Understood. I will look for the mod thread here.
     
  5. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Just got around to read about these. Awesome @Hands! The wood is an awesome touch, but would I agree that $100 or less is a way more attractive price. Massdrop rocks!
     
  6. Poleepkwa

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    I have found some mod threads for this ,but very little measurements. @Hands , do you have any plans to make some mods for these with measurements?
     
  7. Hands

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  8. Philimon

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    [​IMG]
    Emu Walnut.jpg
    ^ Stock pads are small, difficult to get a good seal on my ears and on EARS.
    Emu purpleheart (PH) measurements and impressions.
    Bought this because I really liked the Emu PH and wanted another to mod (like @Hands ) AND I am wondering if a few mods make walnut and purpleheart audibly indistinguishable.
     
  9. Philimon

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    First evidence to explain differences: stock pads*.
    [​IMG]
    ^PH left, walnut right

    The purpleheart pads are a smidge thinner and the foam is denser. These attributes alone could explain the differences in frequency response. Am I right @E_Schaaf ?

    * I cant be sure the PH pads are stock since I bought the headphones second hand. According to seller they were stock. Can you confirm @CEE TEE ? The walnut was bought new from Drop.
     
  10. Philimon

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    Emu W phpads vs Emu PH.jpg
    *phpads = purpleheart pads
    Will further compare W vs PH with a variety of Brainwavz Prostock pads. The stock pads are a pita to get a good seal. The Brainwavz are a little larger which helps with seal on EARS and my ears.
     
  11. Philimon

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    Emu W bwh.jpg
    ^ Brainwavz prostock hybrids

    Emu W bwfp.jpg
    ^ Brainwavz prostock fenestrated pleather

    Emu W bwv.jpg
    ^ Brainwavz prostock velour (which may actually be micro suede, quite a bit tighter/density than the velour on the hybrids, Id have to check website to make sure).

    The face-side of the fenestrated pleather doesn't get as good of a seal on my actual ears because the pleather surface doesnt conform well against my long hair. It was noticeable in the sound that there was some seal loss. And the pleather sliding against my hair makes noise so would not use anyway.

    Hybrid vs micro suede? Dont know except ergonomically the softer faces seal and feel a lot better against my head. I've not spent much time listening to micro suede (like 3 songs), just enough to test fitting. I think the sound differences are small (highs a little smoother on the hybrids (less standout peak) but tad brighter overall), and with either I would use a bit of eq on highs.

    In comparison to Yamaha YH-2 modded with eq, the Emu W modded with eq sounds quite a bit fuller and dynamic and impactful. The Yam sounds more liquid and rich, a bit faster transients and microdynamics. Equally good I'd say and both my favorite headphones under $350. After that they'd have to contend with Voldemort and THX00. Preferences and use case. I'd rather the 40mm Foster mostly due to form factor and a little bit tone over the THX00. Voldemort jury is still out. edit: HD600 jury still out too. 6XX bass too crappy
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2021
  12. Philimon

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    Modded these same as my purplehearts but they sound not as warm and smooth. Frequency response measurements show this a bit and so do Hands’ CSDs. So next Im going to damplifier pro the entire cup and remove walnut from the equation. Then I am going to sell custom cups made entirely of damplifier pro on etsy.
     
  13. Philimon

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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Emu W m2 bwh vs Loki+ 8kHz@8oclock.jpg
    [​IMG]

    I don't know if I can hear a difference between mod1 and mod2. Placebo says yes, smoother / very low fatigue from extended listening sessions (which was already low but just not as buttery smooth and fatigue free as PH), slightly warmer. Can't a/b vs PH because I gifted. Surprised that walnut is still not quite as smooth as PH after mods. Wood properties: density, shape, etc. matter more than i guessed. Hmm
     
  14. Philimon

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    The velour (actually microsuede) seals better than the hybrids which are velour/pleather. Microsuede less porous than velour. This gives a little more bass. Might get the lambskins to try.

    RE: Walnut vs PH. Walnut has slightly more upper midrange @1kHz (even after both are modded the same). That 1kHz area I think is the difference why I find PH smoother. Tested by reducing that area with EQ and it sounded much better to me.

    This is with microsuede pads and x damping mods and eq (to reduce upper midrange and highs). Depending on album requires a little more reduction in highs by eq.
    Emu W m3 2k@9, 8k@9.jpg
    x = (mod2) + (2lb density 1/4" thick foam added to cup to tighten up bass a tad)
     

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