Kennerton Magister

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by ultrabike, Dec 3, 2015.

  1. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    See also this thread: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ister-impressions-and-quick-measurements.273/

    A friend dropped these for a listen. They came in a custom, tasteful and practical case with foam cut to the shape of the cans. Inside is a 1/4" adapter, a "Limited Warranty Statement" (3 year), and a letter which I did not dare open since I don't own these cans.

    Looking into the Kennerton's website, there is a brief about the technology behind these phones (http://www.kennerton.com/magister.htm). Basically a 42 mm mylar driver coated with titanium. The cup internals seem to be shaped to perform some sort of anechoic duties. They are made with >2040 year old bog oak wood. Cushions are made of lamb skin. In person they look legit. Indeed, some lambs and tree parts seemed to have ended up in these cans. The construction of these coconuts is top notch.

    [​IMG]

    The cable is detachable and fat. Not very maneuverable, but definitively feels pretty sturdy. I would recommend a different mechanism to secure the detachable cable (to avoid it from getting loose).

    Given construction, these are on the heavier side of things. But not bad. Most planars in general are heavier going by memory. One thing about these cans is that they are face hugging tight. That may or may not be a problem for some. There is ample ear space inside the coconuts.

    Sound wise these are IMO pretty resolving in the bass area, but not that much in the mids to treble area relative to the HD600s. This may be an unfair comparison given the HD600 are open cans. Relative to other closed cans (say M50s or CAL!) these may be a little more resolving overall. I would say these are neither bass nor treble monsters and the mids are decent. Listening to Daft Punk "Get Lucky" for the hundredth time was not offensive. Bass indeed sounded detailed, but plankton might have been sacrificed (EDIT: in other frequency ranges and relative to reference level open cans).

    Overall these are not bad sounding, but not necessarily spectacular. They are about $900, and IMO one is paying for the craftsmanship which seems impeccable. These also did not seem to require tons of power to drive.

    So measurements...

    magister_fr.png

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    magister_dist_right.png

    magister_csd_left.png

    magister_csd_right.png
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 19, 2016
  2. LFF

    LFF Friend

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    I spent a few days listening to a Magister and found them to sound differently to the FA-002W which I own.

    While both share certain similarities, the Magister does have a unique mylar dynamic driver which contributes to the difference in sound.

    If you're questioning the nearly $1000 price tag - well - you need to feel these in your hands and see them. The money is definitely being spent on the premium build quality. These things ooze pure luxury. Not everyone will have the pleasure to listen or own one of these so you're essentially paying for the luxury and bragging rights.

    That said - soundwise, I'd give these a 9/10. Very nice sounding to me with very dynamic and detailed bass.


    IMHO, the Mag's mids are similar to the 002W. The treble is more like the 002W NON-HE edition, which I actually prefer. Where it definitely bests the 002W is in the bass response. It sounds VERY nice out of a tube amp.
     
  3. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    These are ok sonically, but it's too colored in the midrange for me to recommend. A very "hype-y" sound. I'm also experiencing listening fatigue after 30 minutes or so...must be that lower treble plateau.
     
  4. Schopenhauer

    Schopenhauer Big Boobs, Big Grin

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    Keep in mind that everything I say here is based on a day (and night) of listening. I’ve avoided directly comparing the Magister to any of the other headphones on hand. I’ll post direct comparisons later. It takes time for me to form worthwhile and trustworthy opinions about how headphone Acompares to headphone B. My current reference is the LCD-2.2; I also have the HE-500 with me. When I get home next week, I’ll be able to compare it against the HD800. I’m a streamer, so Tidal or Spotify are feeding my GO450. UHA-6S MkII takes care of the amping. I have an EF-6 with me, but it’s all packed up and ready to sell. I don’t feel like digging it out, especially since I prefer the Leck (although the HE-500 might pair better with the EF-6).

    Some non-sound related impressions. First, clamping pressure is a bit much for me. This is the closest to Xenia Onatopp I’ve come in a headphone. And I’ve had the HD650. If I owned the Magister, I’d try to stretch it out a bit as the current pressure level make long listening sessions unpleasant. Second, I’d prefer a less microphonic, more pliable cable. Initially, I had a channel-balance problem with the 1/8” terminator. Plugging it directly into my UHA-6S MkII, the left channel came in at a lower volume than the right. Sometimes the left channel didn’t come in at all. This was remedied, however, by twisting the terminator while plugged into the jack. I’ve heard about this problem before. Interestingly enough, the terminator doesn’t exhibit the same behavior when plugged into the ¼” adapter – which is then plugged into a Grado ¼” to 1/8” adapter. Finally, the build on these sumbitches is top shelf. Looks-wise, at least. I feel like a goddamn landowner when I put these on.

    A few remarks on tonality. Others have praised the quality of the Magister’s bass. I agree with them. The following tracks by Auditory Canvas were enjoyable:


    I think I’ve previously posted “A Dream Nuclei” to one of the “currently listening to” threads. On each track the bassline is prominent; it provides the primary melody on “A Dream Nuclei”. The Magister manages to present this prominence without disrupting the other frequencies. The percussion in “Solace of Remembrance” as rendered by the Magister is on the cusp of being fatiguing. I have not found it to be fatiguing with other headphones. Take another track. Something about the attack in the percussion here bothers me:

    This track hasn't bothered me before. That makes me think the high midrange is coming on a bit too strong for me with the Magister. Take final example. A track that that demonstrates both the positive and the negative qualities of the Magister is “Cuntpressor” by Vaetxh:

    Through the Magister, the bass hits hard; it’s articulate and quick; it stays where it’s supposed to. But the shit happening in the high midrange is way too sharp. Overwhelming, even. I typically listen at roughly 80dB to 90dB. Peaks above 90dB are generally uncomfortable, painful sometimes with the right frequency. I find it difficult to listen at my preferred SPLs with the Magister. Sorry, two final beloved tracks I’m finding to be fatiguing with the Magister:


    There are a number of things I love about the Magister + Clark. The maracas on “Winter Linn” and the weird hisses on “Snowbird” aren’t among them. Overall, early impression is that this isn’t my tonality.

    What about technicalities? I said that the high midrange was “sharp”. This headphone seems to attack quickly across the frequencies. With some frequencies, it’s too quick for my taste, especially if I perceive those frequencies as boosted above my preference. Hence the perceived sharpness in high midrange transients. If “sharp” or “sharpness” aren’t the right words for describing phenomena in the high midrange, substitute the appropriate terms. Don’t know whether I perceive any grain in the sound. Soundstage seems respectable for a closed headphone. Like I said, these are preliminary impressions. So I’ll try to say more about technicalities when I compare the Magister to another headphone. It’s late. And I’m fatigued as hell after listening to these all day and into the night. Though I took a break to see the new Mission Impossible. Highly recommended. The movie, that is.

    Did some comparative listening tonight v. the LCD-2.2. Will try to write some stuff up over the next few days. I should have noted in the earlier post that most of my listening was done with the low gain setting on the UHA-6S MkII. The high gain setting's increased dynamics doesn't suit my taste when listening to the Magister. I could run high gain in short bursts. Hell, it can sound great in short bursts - especially the bass. But the high mid to treble energy is too much for me.

    I also need to post some impressions of the Algiz to the relevant thread.

    The Magister has gone to Hans, so I’ll post my final impressions. I said previously that the tonality wasn’t for me. That was borne out by further listening. I want a headphone I can listen to for 2+ hours. I know people who can listen to, say, the HD800 for 2+ hours. I can’t. I find the HD800 too bright at 80+dB for extended listening. The same is true of the Magister. I consider the HD800 excellent for forensics, i.e. for subjecting a stretch of music to intense scrutiny for a brief interval of time. It’s also good for low volume casual listening. I wouldn’t classify the Magister as a forensic headphone. Neither did I like it for low volume casual listening.

    Resolution isn't greater than the LCD-2.2’s. I’d say it’s less than. Easily obscured high midrange and treble information may have been – in some cases – more readily perceptible on the Magister than it was on the LCD-2.2. However, whenever I switched from the Magister to the LCD-2.2, I could hear the relevant information. The LCD-2.2 is less obvious with its riches. That makes it easier to relax when listening to it, I think. You can zoom in if you want to. Or you can keep your distance and enjoy top shelf macrodynamics.

    It certainly seems like you’re paying for luxury with the Magister. And that’s fine. The Magister is a very fine thing; I admire the craftsmanship. From a purely acoustic perspective, however, I don’t know why I should choose it over an HD650, say, which is roughly half the price, or an LCD-2.2, which is more or less equally priced. Of course, both of those headphones are open. It’s slim pickings for a high-end closed headphone, so the Magister might recommend itself on that point. Still, among the closed headphones I’ve heard, I would rank it below the Slants and ADs in terms of my preferences (viz. tonality and timbre). But I’m an orthohead. YMMV.

    Thanks to ultra for putting this loaner tour together. The Magister was a headphone I was, at the time, very interested in. I’m not sure the interest would’ve been sufficient to inspire an exploratory purchase that I now know would’ve been regretted. It’s good not to have to learn the hard way.
     
  5. GelockS

    GelockS Friend

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    Well, after using these for a couple of days as part of the loaner tour, I have to say... they're "Ok"... ;)

    As has been mentioned, construction is awesome, the cups look excellent, they seem to be built like a tank, they are heavy and they clamp like a motha... But these are one of the best at isolating and holding sound in that I have had.

    With that out of the way, once I pressed "Play" I wasn't as blown away as I thought I'd be (for $900...). With properly recorded music, these sound excellent. The bass is well controlled and present, but the mids and treble seem to be a bit pushed forward for my taste. Once you start increasing the volume and listening to genres or artists that, well, don't have the best recordings out there, they are painful! (to me). They sound bright and a bit congested especially up top. They actually started to remind me of some other headphones I got here and wouldn't you know... they are basically the same!!

    http://www.spiderproduct.com/products/spider-headphone-moonlight


    IMG_20151206_170427144.jpg IMG_20151206_170623175.jpg

    The sound is fairly similar as well. Since I've had the Spider's for quite a long time, it was easy to pinpoint the similarities and differences. The Magister's definitely have better bass response and presence than the Moonlight but their mids/treble response is very very similar. And again, at higher volumes, they just don't gel for me. Similar to the Spider's:

    Pros:
    • Very Nice looking (the cups look awesome and feel excellent)
    • Nice big and padded case
    • Pads are very comfortable.
    • Fast sound
    • Detailed mids
    • Excellent sound stage and instrument separation
    • Cable seems good quality but...
    Cons:
    • Cable is long, stiff and slightly microphonic (very very similar to the one on the Spider. It also weighs a lot. Also... after using "single-sided" cans, this dual one is just... ugh!
    • Sound is airy but it feels that the upper mids and highs are boosted. Can't listen at more than 11 o'clock on the Schiit Magni, Soloist SL or even straight from a FiiO X5 2nd gen.
    • Seems the pads help with soundstage but wide soundstage + boosted highs... meh!

    All in all, again, they are Ok, but not $900 "ok", especially with all the closed back headphones out there. I'd definitely pick cheaper options ranging from the MDR-1A to even the DT1770 (and now with the new Fostex out there receiving hype, yeah...). For a better sound sig, excellent build, very good wood cups and freakish isolation, there's always LFF's Enigma's and ZMF offerings at a better price. :)
     
  6. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Yeah, there are like a million headphones based on the same OEM design, some priced lower than $100.
     
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  7. aufmerksam

    aufmerksam Friend

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    Thanks for the loaner! VERY glad I got to hear this since I was curious but gun shy.
    TL;DR: nice physical specimen, ok sound, multiple fatigue sources = not the one for me.

    I got these from @GelockS earlier this week, and gave them a shot over the course of a day, a night, and a little more the next morning. I largely agree with GelockS' comments about build quality (outstanding), the cable (stupid and awful), and the sound (decent, not amazing). The cable was the worst part at first: stiff, somehow cheap feeling (especially the 1/8 to 1/4 adapter), and only 2m long, which is too short for me. Over time the clamp and sound were the worst parts. The sound is not awful, but I got fatigued really fast, I am guessing because of the upper mids / lower treble others have mentioned. The clamp is insane. Maybe I have been babied by my clamp-reduced senns, but these pressed hard right into that soft spot at back of jaw and the headache was swift and mighty.

    I don't have a heavily developed listening methodology or finely selected test tracks as my attention runs too wild for that. But I try to keep to certain principles: try to enjoy as much as possible first, compare to a known standard next, compare to a like known standard last. So I listened to the magister on its own without really thinking about it first (and without reading this thread), then I A/B'd songs I know with HD650, then I A/B'd the same songs I know with DT150. Setup was [macbook>wyrd or Denon DCD3000] > MB Gungnir > Mjolnir2. For those who care, my 650 is balanced and has coin and foam mods; the DT150 is unmodded and still SE because I am lazy.

    Here are the notes I wrote while listening, that I can still read, mostly in the order I wrote them:

    - Bright?
    - Tinny in the Upper Mids
    - Intimate?
    - Boomy Bass, a bit too much reverb ... only sometimes?
    - FUCK CLAMP!
    - why doesn't bass reach lower?
    - soundstage feels closed compared to DT150.
    - nice! keeps up!

    I will give some limited detailed thoughts, but I am not great at describing what I hear after I hear it.
    - Compared to the DT150 the magister was more "intimate sounding" but artifically so, and the soundstage felt small despite the uber pads. I know that this is hard for closed cans generally, but I guess I hoped for better.
    - The "bright" and "intimate" notes are almost certainly the result of the upper-mids/low treble, which are just too much for me. I had hoped that the bass might make up for it, but its an odd wash.
    - In more delicate songs I lost lower bass cues due to either bass reverb or failure to produce. I'm guessing the former, because the FR doesn't show terrible roll off, but either way, it wasn't great.
    - In other songs, mostly those with electronic effects, the decay was perfect and the bass was amazing. If you are listening to the right music, the bass feels realistic.
    - All else aside, they are quick. I specifically used Sufjan Stevens' "I Want to Be Well" from Age of Adz to check for this. Many transducers have a hard time and sound shitty with this track. So good on Magister.

    So, yeah. After I came here to type up my experience, I saw the MSRP and my jaw dropped. I understand Luis' point that you are paying for the materials and physical crafting. That part is truly impressive. These are beautiful, decent closed cans for maybe a couple hundred bucks, but I think $900 is steep.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
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