Ether Flow vs. HD650?

Discussion in 'Leaderboard, Overboard, and Deals' started by econaut, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. econaut

    econaut Almost "Made"

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    I listened to the Ether Flow (EF) for the first time today and now I am seriously irritated. Let me explain:

    I took half of my rig to my local dealer and compared the Ether Flow to my 650s with the Jotunheim. Source was my Fiio X3ii.

    What can I say. The 650s sounded like shit in comparison. I couldn't believe it. Before I liked them a lot. Right now I am listening to them at home and I am content with them. But in comparison - no way. NO BASS. They sounded like tin cans. No body, rather thin.

    The main difference was certainly the bass punch and impact of the EF, which the 650s are lacking. Especially felt with kick drum and tom-toms in songs like One oder Sad but true by Metallica, for example. Additionally, the EF sounded so much more natural (probably equals to "sound that I like") in comparison, so it was not only the bass.

    An analogy came to my mind: At home I got the Fidelio X2 for comparison and albeit they have lots of bass (which I tend to like), they sound kind of wrong in comparison to the 650s. The sound is somehow hollow, which actually might be the mids missing due to the V-shaped sound signature. Back to the analogy: The relationship between EF and 650s reminded me of the relationship between the 650s and the X2. One is just right, the other somewhat off.

    The EF was connected via a balanced cable, but I don't think this would be the reason for the rather large differences (650s were SE). I actually believe it's the planar magnetic bass extension (?) that made the main difference.

    At the end I plugged in a LCD2 and it was in the EF-camp. Slam of the kick drum and an enjoyable, "natural" sound.

    Again, this took me by surprise, because I expected the EF to be a bright headphone and now it slammed the 650s hard from the bottom up. I am very irritated that I don't like the 650s in comparison, but on their own I like their sound (just missing the bass punch a little right now ;-)

    I am very interested in your thoughts about this.
     
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Balancing the HD650 on the Jotunheim will help a little bit with punch and impact. Best to keep comparisons apples to apples. If you want impact with HD650, best to go with a tube amp with at least a few ohms source impedance like Crack, ZDS, NBM, etc. Lack of sub to low bass is a serious weakness of the HD650. People like the HD650 because of its darkish tilt and smooth treble response. Heck, even the HE-400S with the right pads has arguably better bass than the HD650.
     
  3. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    A) Just go with what sounds what sounds best to you at your budget (best to buy the EF you heard and liked, as some pairs may not be created equally...).

    B) You could use a better amp for 650.

    C) Did this really need its own thread?
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Yes, it absolutely needs its own thread. It's important that people tell us what we already know. Creating a new thread, even though this topic was discussed in a suitable existing thread, serves the greater purpose of hammering home that the HD650 isn't all that great in some areas such as bass extension and bass quality.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017
  5. econaut

    econaut Almost "Made"

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    The funny thing is, that I actually switched to the Jot because of the HD650 and this forum.

    Originally I planned to get the Mjolnir 2 and the Ether Flow. The Mjolnir 2 arrived with a dead left channel so I returned it. In the meantime I got my HD650 just out of curiosity. I never checked them out before because I read so much about the veil. I didn't expect to like them that much so I decided to steer clear of the summit fi cans for the time being, get a balanced cable (arrives tomorrow) and an adequate amp for the 650s.

    At least four people that I asked recommended the Jot over the Mjolnir 2 (no one the other way around) for the 650s and the Sennheiser HD650/M Compendium thread here also recommends the Jot. As I understood the reasons for the recommendations were also sound quality-wise, not only because I mentioned I didn't want to get into tube rolling if not "necessary".

    Now I am a little surprised, since you suggest that the Mjolnir 2 would be the better amp? I can imagine that this is the case with the Ether Flow, but I actually thought that the pairing HD650+Jot would be perfect.
     
  6. brencho

    brencho Loves pumping iron (Moderator)

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    Where are you seeing someone telling you to get the mjolnir2? Not that one shouldn't... it and the jot are both great for the moneys. And that might have been the context for the advice you received. I dunno, I wasn't there. But the jot/650 combo being excellent for the money doesn't mean there aren't better tube amps out there. I use the T3 and if I had more fun funds I'd buy a zds and not look back. They (and others) improve the 650 over the jot, but my guess is that if you don't like the 650 from the jot, then you might not like it from other, more expensive amps. Just a guess though.

    Edit: Lots of the 650s on this forum are modded, in case that ends up mattering to you.
     
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  7. Wilson

    Wilson Socially Anxious Volleyball

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    @econaut , perhaps the issue is the match between headphones and music? The HD650 really shine with acoustic instruments and voice. I've had breathtaking experiences listening to Beck and Bill Evans. I like what the HD650 do for rock, but have not been engaged in the same way. You mentioned Metallica, so just a thought...
     
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  8. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    I have both headphones with jot. I admit I am quite EF-biased. That said, I think advantages of each headphone like the below

    Where EF is better than hd650
    1) Like you said, EF has more bass. But I want to warn that EF bass is rather mid-bassy compared with HFM planers such as HEX v2. For many recordings midbass-bump works very well, but I feel (relative) lack of sub-bass for some situations. This potential weakness may not be recognized when compared to hd650 THO.
    2) EF is more synergistic with jot. I like jot a lot, it does many things very, very well. But my experience is saying that there requires some kind of sacrifice/compromise for senn cans. Such issues (e.g. staging, macrodynamics, treble glaring, ..) are way less problematic when jot is paired with EF. I am suspecting EF is less amp-picky or less scaling.
    3) Ergonomics. No doubt.
    4) This may be a bit repetitive with 1. But poor-mediocre modern recordings (I strongly argue such music also requires hifi gears. The quality of music and the quality of device are largely independent IMO) are much more enjoyable with EF. Particularly so if you enjoy electronics.

    Where 650 is better than EF
    1) Timber is very natural and sounds correct in 650. This is where I liked 650 over any other headphones except utopia. Although I like EF over 650 in general, I've never felt that EF had the right timbre. So in this respect, maybe your taste and mine differ ;)
    2) Price, also no doubt. I like $199 of my 6xx :D, it was a steal.
    3) 650 scales very well, at least better than EF. With right recordings and right gears, 650 sounds fantastic. Also 650 is very well discussed and studied already. So as a hobby, 650 might enable you to try many things with less risk.

    PS. If you like EF over 650 because of bass, I highly suggest you try hd800s, eikon(zmf), and utopia someday - I don't mean you buy these lol. I like these headphones over 650 for different reasons respectively. But comparison of these headphones (along with EF/650) helped me a lot to recognize my sonic preference more accurately.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017
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  9. TMRaven

    TMRaven Friend

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    No amp will give the 650 more sub-bass. At best you can EQ more sub-bass into your headphones, say +6db at 32hz and +3db at 64hz or something along those lines.. but it won't be clean and undistorted sub-bass like open planars can produce. That's a big reason why I prefer open planars to HD650 specifically, is the effortless extension down low.

    What planars don't get as right as the HD650 does is mid to treble transition and overall timbre-- albeit they're getting a little better in this regard with better tuning and advancement of the tech in general, I don't see them matching the tonality of the HD650 for at least a little while. Again, those are issues you could EQ as well to mitigate them.

    At the end of the day it comes down to a balancing act, and you need to decide which part of the sound you put more stock in. Btw I would also look into the Hifiman HE-X, it also has a very pleasing tone while still keeping great bass extension. Hifiman planars are known for their low-bass extension (except HE-400S). Hifiman planars are also known for sounding fucked up in the treble, but HE-X is probably the best behaved in that regard.

    Another great option is the Elear, which has an amazing amount of bass extension for being an open dynamic, but it's definitely not HD650 in the upper midrange-lower treble transition (I'll say it again, EQ helps mitigate that.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017
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  10. SSL

    SSL Friend

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    Did you mention the kind of music you listen to to the "four people" who recommended the Jot?
     
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  11. econaut

    econaut Almost "Made"

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    Thank you so much for all your replies, I still have a lot to learn and to experience in this sphere and I do learn a lot by this forum and this thread especially :)

    I will write this short post straight on topic and a second longer one, I hope this complies with forum rules.

    I guess the hint to the music genres is a good one. I can't remember that this was taken into consideration when I got the Jot recommendations.

    Most of the music I listen to has vocals, guitar, bass and drums (rock, prog rock and metal). I also listen to electronic stuff and pop sometimes. There's almost none classical or acoustic and rarely singer-songwriter genres.

    When I listen to psychedelic trance on the HD650 I don't miss bass impact. I do miss the bass impact of kickdrums a little when listening to rock and metal, at least since I heard it can be there on the Ether Flow.

    Taking all this into consideration I suppose(!) that timbre is not that important to me and mid-bass is more important to me than sub-bass?
     
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  12. TRex

    TRex Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    I would advise you to demo Jot first. EDM, rock, metal are quite treble happy and Jot treble can be too glary for some people.
     
  13. econaut

    econaut Almost "Made"

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    And the long one:

    I hope I didn't come across as complaining in post #5. Just wanted to point out my surprise, because one of the recommendations (none of the four guys mentioned were here at SBAF) was:

    - Jot is more clear and has better resolution than Mjolnir 2
    - Jot is not better but different than MJ2
    - Jot has a very good synergy with HD650, because it has strong punch, much clarity and a wide soundstage

    Hence I figured SS has more punch than tubes, which is overgeneralizing and which he didn't say, of course. Maybe it's even wrong when comparing MJ2 vs. Jot, I don't know.

    For the first time I had a look at the power outputs:

    Jot SE 350mW @ 300 ohms
    Jot balanced 900mW @ 300 ohms

    Is this the explanation for what you are referring to here, @Marvey ?

    I just switched to my new balanced cable and you're right, I can sense a little more slam of the kickdrum and I think the sound seems a little more 3D and distant. That might be confirmation bias, though, and I also find levelmatching to be very difficult in general.

    If I get that correctly, more maximum output power equals more bass punch and impact, at least with high-impedance cans and OTL amps like Crack are good for this? I have yet to research the other two. Is "source impedance" = output impedance?


    I don't understand the recommendation of the HD800S when talking about bass. It has even less bass than HD650, as far as I know, I demoed it only very shortly. I listened to the Elear twice and didn't like it (although I really wanted to). The bass was nice, but I didn't like the overall sound. Unfortunately, my hearing and vocabulary is not good enough (yet) to be able to describe what I didn't like. I do understand that listening to these and other cans helps in developing a sonic preference, most definitely. I will be able to listen to the Utopia this month.

    Concerning sub-bass vs. mid-bass I understood the following:

    Ether Flow has more and better sub- and mid-bass than HD650. Still, EF has less sub-bass than mid-bass, especially when compared to Hifiman cans. So it probably depends on the music I listen to if sub- or mid-bass is more important.


    Now on to some further points:
    • I don't intend to mod the HD650, except if there's a mod for more bass punch and impact ;)
      • I actually bass modded my AKG K702 and used them for 2,5 years as my only can, but I grew out of this boomy bass mess. Also the sound is not coherent.
      • I got a K7XX this year in order to get accustomed to normal bass again, but find it overall too boring
    • I probably won't get a new amp just for the HD650, but rather another headphone that has punch and impact and then maybe a new amp that synergizes perfectly with that particular headphone
    • will play around with EQ a little

    My apologies for the extent of the post(s) and many thanks again for your very helpful thoughts :)
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Bwhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. That's why you get.

    Ask anyone here, and they will tell you that MJ2 is probably one of the hardest slamming amps around, not only in the Schiit line. The MJ2 is a better amp than the Jot in almost every respect.

    Yes, not just that. But balanced outputs for this amp also doubles slew rate and voltage. The HD650, having a 300ohm nominal impedance, seems to love voltage. Conjecture (and experience) is that tube amps, which are inherently high voltage low current devices, excel with headphones like the HD650. Higher source (output) impedance also tends to bump up the HD650's mid-bass slightly because of the HD650's impedance curve. This also results in a punchier sound.
     
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  15. TRex

    TRex Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    @econaut
    I'm in "Jot is not better but different than MJ2" and "Jot has killer value considering the price". Speaking in the "overgeneralized idea", Jot characteristic is very SS.

    Yes, he meant OI. Jot OI is under 0.1 ohm. Crack, NBM, ZDS, Elise, so on output >19 ohm OI.

    HD800 definitely has more sub-bass because it doesn't roll off as early (flatter graph) as HD6X0. And the fact that HD800 treble is more emphasized than HD6X0 create impression (masking) that HD6X0 has more bass than HD800. You can refer to Innerfidelity measurement graphs http://www.innerfidelity.com/headphone-measurements

    HD650 KISS mod by Marv actually lessens HD650 mid-bass hump. Doesn't affect impact (compared to stock; if you need more impact, do donut ring mod but mid-bass goes wild) yet it makes HD650 sounds more neutral. My HD650 is on KISS mod and me likey. http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/hd650-kiss-mod.3440/
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
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  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Crack Z out is 120ohms. Elise is around 50ohms (I measured it, but I can't remember exactly, but it's around there). NBM and ZDS are significantly lower. NBM is transformer coupled, probably a few ohms, depending on hi or lo Z out jack. ZDS is 20/3 ohms depending upon switch.
     
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  17. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    To my ear, hd800s has more sub bass than hd650 (if sealed properly) , but clearly 800s is never for bassheads. I feel mid-high bass responses are quite similar between the two. But sub-mid balance is different. I like 800s subbass more (particularly when listening to Mahler's symphonies or Daft punk tracks). I listed it because 800s is also one example to present bass reproduction. But if you didn't feel this way, just trust your ears! ;)
     
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  18. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    I beg to differ most emphatically. The HD800 takes EQ like a boss. You can create a low frequency monster with the "no limits" profile for Sonarworks, and it still sounds remarkably clear.

    Note, HD800. Not HD800S.
     
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  19. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    LOL judging gear by judging how hard Lars hits drums on The Black Album. Lars taped two bass drums together for more reverb, ran them through compressers, had tons of room reverb mixed in, everything equalized to be punchier, and added even more artificial reverb on top of that for maximum reverb. Then you listen on a thin, overdamped amp to a planar (can't recreate reverb) and judge the gear on how hard Lars hits from your perspective? You might as well just watch the "Sandman" video on a laptop or old CRT TV.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
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  20. econaut

    econaut Almost "Made"

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    [​IMG]
     

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