n3rdling HE90 Orpheus Clone loaner impressions

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by n3rdling, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. n3rdling

    n3rdling Friend

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    As some may know, I've created my take on a clone of the venerable Sennheiser HE90 - my favorite headphone ever. This project started a few years back using whatever scrap material I could find: old credit cards or plastic shim stock as spacer material, stators made from wire mesh or aluminum sheet with a drill and airplane snips, lots of different glue and diaphragm coating trial and error, etc. The DIY stat thread(s) on HF and diyaudio were full of great advice and interesting ideas, and the vision provided by chinsettawong on HF and Roger Sanders via his The Electrostatic Loudspeaker Design Cookbook were of particular help. I improved my clone over many revisions over the years: building a CNC allowed me to take a huge leap in precision and design, and later building a 3D printer opened up a few new design liberties.

    I've pretty much settled on the sound I wanted to achieve from these and so I've quietly sent them around to be auditioned by specific people I've handpicked as both trustworthy and experienced with stats. Most of these people have been given at least a week to audition the headphone in their home with their equipment. This thread is meant to be a place for these people to post their impressions.

    I'll also make a post with meet impressions and measurements taken on various rigs. I may go commercial with these but I'm having trouble sourcing the cable in large quantity for a reasonable price. If anybody can help me there, please PM me. Note that the cosmetics are not finalized. If there are any questions feel free to ask here.

    The loaner tour list, in order:

    @knerian
    @velvetx
    @sorrodje
    @Arnaud (special guest appearances by @frenchbat and AnakChan)
    @anetode
    @MuppetFace
    @shipsupt
    @Ali-Pacha (mini meet in France at the end of his period)
    @MrButchi
    @sorrodje
     
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  2. n3rdling

    n3rdling Friend

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    Measurement time. I've had these measured by THX at the Wikia HF meet, @ultrabike , and @sorrodje . Again, these sound the way I ideally want them to, so to see the measurements come out nicely is extra exciting. They are about the flattest, lowest THD, and quickest decaying HPs I've seen.

    Measurements by @ultrabike :

    [​IMG]

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    Measurements by @sorrodje :

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Note distortion taken @ ~90dB or 85dB, compare to IF's 009 THD measurements to see how low this is. Not really comparable to typical 100dB THD measurements
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Working on getting THX measurements up...
     
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    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
  3. n3rdling

    n3rdling Friend

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    The purpose of this post is to put all HE90 Clone meet impressions across the web into one spot, good or bad, for easy access and transparency. First, here are past dedicated threads on the HE90 clones:
    Milos Orpheus Clones
    Milos DIY Electrostats (rev 1)

    Impressions from various meets in reverse chronological order (some changes along the way, mainly between Wikia and Can'tJam):


    Source AV Feb 2017 Meet

    @miceblue
    I'll post some more detailed impressions later, as well as photos, but I just quickly wanted to say that I was really impressed with n3rdling's Orpheus clone. It was really articulate-sounding to me, and it didn't have the upper-midrange brightness that I don't like too much from the SR-009 (although on the Questyle CMA800P and SRM-007tII, it sounded less bright than I remember in past listening sessions).

    ------Update------

    This, was very interesting to hear. I know that chinsettawong creates DIY electrostatic headphones, and I've heard a DIY estat before, but this was just mind-blowing to me. If you know what the SR-007 MKI and SR-009 sounds like, this "Orpheus Clone" is like a mix of them. It was just a very technical/musical-sounding hybrid. You really have to give it a listen yourself because I was/still am at a loss for words on how to describe it other than that. It has a bright upper-midrange similar, but much more toned down, to the 009, but a warm, and pretty much transparent, bass and treble response on the other ends of the frequency spectrum. It sounded very fast like the 009, but at the same time didn't sound ethereal like a typical estat.

    The imaging was amongst the strongest and most well-defined of what I've heard in any headphone system: very, very solid. The soundstage was also airy similar to the 009, but that could be attributed to the Blue Hawaii amplifier it was hooked up on.

    I think projects like this demonstrate the enthusiasm this community can have. Learning about the technology of how something works and applying that to make something of your own is, in my opinion, the ultimate realization of this hobby. I've been wanting to read Roger Sander's "Electrostatic Loudspeaker Design Cookbook" to learn more about the design of electrostatic speaker panels, and n3rdling's creation may have just motivated me even more to look into it. Getting into the world of DIY estats is no trivial task and I have a lot of respect for people who venture into it.


    The yin and yang were in perfect harmony with the "Orpheus Clone".

    @boynamedsue
    Milos room (AccuphaseCDplayer>BHSE>Clones). Milos had the clones setup in a communal room so it wasn't as quiet or private as the other demos. I was very impressed when I heard them at the SoCal SBAF meet. I was again very impressed this time around. The Clones seem to combine the strengths of both Stax 007's (musicality) and 009's (detail, transparency) and adds a bit more bass impact and openess/airiness to the sound. My impressions are mainly based on Diana Krall's "A Case of You," which is one of my favorite songs of all time and one I've heard hundreds of time. I have to say that the Milos' setup is the best I've ever heard this song. Seeing the utilarian design of the Clones, it did make me wonder how the sound would change if he added casing/grills to design (to protect the drivers?) if he were ever to take these into production. BTW, do the "Clones" deserve their own name as they seem like their own beast?

    Overall, my two favorite system at the event was Headamp and Milos' Clones.

    @Audio Zenith
    One major and very unfortunate trend becomes more and more noticeable with pretty much all the newest high end headphones: BRIGHTNESS. I want to call it HD-800 or Mercury trend, make your pick. Utopia is pretty much the only exception, but even that one as most of you know is partial. In this madness @n3rdling clones are like a breath of fresh air and I would strongly recommend those who are serious about audio give 'em a real good and careful listen, memorize it and start looking for something similar. Clones are not perfect, but the base line is there and in the right place. Will talk about them later.

    Next was @n3rdling clones. I heard them before, a few times at different meets and was always impressed. Will not go into detail analyzing sound qualities because they are still prototypes, Milos has great ears and surely knows all the small issues.

    One thing is for sure though, sound is very effortless and they, like Utopia's are succeeding in making you want to believe it's the truth. More work is needed for perfection but personally I would probably put these on the same page with HE-1, quite an achievement for a handmade prototype ;-).

    @kevnin
    Attack of the Clones
    I was extremely impressed by @n3rdling's Orpheus clones. They basically combined the best aspects of the Stax 007 and 009, with an overall sound signature in between the two. I especially like the bass, which had excellent impact and quantity. It was not thin or rolled off like the 009 or soft and slightly bloated like the 007 tends to be.

    @Bill-P
    I won't go so far as to say the HE-1 is "an experience", but... if you get a chance, then you should give it a listen.

    My conclusion is thus: it's an impressive headphone system. It's not my cup of tea. I wouldn't buy it even if it was $5K or $10K. I'd still prefer to take, say... Utopia and a good tube amp, or Milos' clones (which are almost perfectly neutral to my ears the last few times I got to check them out) and either BHSE or Aristaeus.


    SBAF Can'tJam 2016

    @boynamedsue
    Here were my three favorite rigs (Caveat: these are meet impressions and not to be taken seriously):

    1. Milos' Orpheus Clone, amped by Headamp's BHSE.
    I'm partial to electrostatic sound, and even at a meet setting, this setup clearly beat my current setup consisting of stax 007 and 009 off a Woo WES, as well as beating the KGSSHV Carbon which I previously owned. The Orpheus clone was a perfect blend of the 007 and 009, retaining the strengths of both stax flagships. The sound was so natural, musical, transparent, with great detail, separation, and large soundstage, and bass that was tight and impactful. Listening to Diana Krall's Case of You and IZ's Starting Over Again nearly brought tears to my eyes. I heard nauances in Diana Krall's vocals that I hadn't before and I've heard this track countless times. The nuances created a feeling of intimate connection with the singer. The Orpheus clone had a similar ethereal quality like most Stax phones. There was a slight see-through quality to the images (as opposed to being rock solid) and a slight glow around the sounds, which some may consider coloration and non-preferable, but I find quite magical. The crazy thing about the sound coming out of the Orpheus Clone and BHSE was that it was fed by a dingky USB stick DAC out of a laptop. I can't even imagine the sound improving with a better DAC.
    @ultrabike
    Milos' Orpheus Clone is awesome. No longer are there any imbalanced channels. Tone is right on. There were in the table a set of HE-60s that I belive @sorrodje brought. The HE-60s are really good, but I believe Milos cans top them. They were crazy good. Will post measurements later.

    I don't know if @n3rdling is going to sell these in the future, but IMO there is not a single stat, ortho and dynamic that can touch these sound quality wise. This shit is real. Value wise, we'll see where Milos want's to take it, but like I said, these are the real deal. He might need to paint them shinny black, coat them with gold, and have Snooki decorate them though.

    I'll post some more impressions later. But these cans were the highlight of the meet can wise.
    @Wfojas
    I heard @n3rdling Accuphase again through his Blue Hawaiis and Orpheus Clone, and I thought that this was really end game for this direction.
    @sorrodje
    Best of the best : Milos Orpheus Clone. Let's say I'm a bit biased on that one because as a Stat Lover (Especially Sennheiser ones) and I'm really interested [email protected] 's work. He let me borrow his baby for a couple of days before the meeting and I listened to it at my place with my gear and my music. Utopia and my own HE60 was my reference I compared the Clone to. Thks to @3X0 I had the chance to have a good Session with the Original HE90 the Saturday 29/10 as well. I'll provide more impressions & measurements in the dedicated thread opened by @ultrabike buuut... this damn thing is the read deal. Period. #VoteMilos. ;)
    @blubliss
    Milos has a very nice headphone with his DIY HE90. Coming out of the SRX and some tiny dac it sounded great, need to listen on my T2.
    @Bill-P
    Milos' clones: HD600 tonal balance, ortho bass, dynamic body, HD650 mid, HD650 treble smoothness, HD800 extension, HD800 soundstage, Utopia imaging. Yeah, that's pretty much it. Not sure how much of that was due to BHSE. TL;DR: it's awesome. @n3rdling needs to quote me a price.
    @SteelCannon
    These had more bass than 007, 009 and he60 but were still too lean for me. The treble was also slightly too smooth for my taste. They were pleasant, musical and superbly refined. I found the clones more realistic than the other stats at the meet but I missed the bite and energy of dynamic headphones. If you are into stats, not sure it can get much better than this. Imaging, sound stage, tonal balance and transient response they did everything better than every other electrostatic headphone present.
    @anetode
    • nerdling's Ghettorpheus -- impressed, next to the 009 this was the best headphone at the show
    @Marvey
    The last rig that impressed me. (Again, I did not get a chance to hear everything - and I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment about the EC based rigs). The @n3rdling DIY stat Orpheus Clone and the SRX+. Lots of electrostatic gear and amps around, but this particular combination spoke to me. A slightly warm, more full bodied, and more lively sound than what I am usually accustomed to from electrostatics. None of that thin, prickly, flat and boring nonsense. I believe @ultrabike took measurements of the @n3rdling O-Clones. I would be curious to see them. The HE60 does quite well with the SRX too.
    @littlegrasshopper
    in my opinion the best of the show was the orpheus clone follow by the DNA Stellaris using the utopia


    Bay Area Wikia Meet 7/16

    @velvetx
    @n3rdling's HE90 Clones (out of BHSE):
    • For those of you who might have missed the opportunity to listen to these you need to put it on your must listen to at the next meet he attends.
    • Personally having never listened to the original Orpheus but loving my 007 MK1 out of the Headamp BHSE and hating the Stax 009's I felt at a loss. I mean the 007 MK1 is my favorite headphone I own but at times want something a little more refined that my HD800 SDR isn't doing. Well enter the HE90 clones
    • I have heard these at one other meet I attended and it was out of the Headamp Aristaeus (oh yah the other e-stat amp Justin makes) and with the BHSE I felt like everything I put on was like I was actually being sang to.
    • The instrument separation was perfect with just the right amount of sound stage
    • Tonal balance was just superb
    • Bass I felt was different than what I am used to with the MK1 less thick but more defined.
    • For someone who isn't a fan of the 009 this headphone just hits all the right spots for me.
    • As I had mentioned previously I had heard this at a previous meet and it was the best headphone hands down and again the result was the same.
    • I don't know if Milos will ever release these as a production headphone but after listening again and this time with the BHSE it took all my willpower just not to hand him a wad of cash for his prototype.
    @TMoney
    N3rdling HE-90 Clone (on Nick’s BHSE):
    • Very fun to listen to.
    • It is awesome to hear a DIY headphone this good.
    • Justin and I did a comparison with the 009 and Clone. It made me sad I don’t still own an electrostatic rig.
    • Between the two, I still lean towards the 009. I hear the 009 as better balanced high-to-low and having vastly superior bass to the Clone.
    • I heard the Clone as having a bit more of a warm, mid-centric tone. The Clone is the more “romantic” sounding of the two, but my preferences tend more towards ruler flat neutrality. I can see why some would prefer the sound of the Clone, but for me the 009 is still the king-of-the-hill (along with 007mk1).
    @knerian
    I really wanted to check out the n3rdling Clones because I had heard about them prior and brought my own SR-009 to compare.

    Meet conditions are never ideal and it was a bit loud, but I did get to do some great direct a/b comparisons of the SR-009 vs the clones on a BHSE. Sensitivity wise they are not that far off, luckily I only had to adjust the volume slightly (009 being slightly more sensitive). For music I mostly used the Bertini/WDR Cologne box set of Mahler symphonies.

    Due to my limited time with them I will just comment about what I was able to directly compare. The clones have better effortlessness and clarity than the SR-009. In a large tutti section of a large scale orchestral work with a large amount of percussion (tam tam and gong) combined with full brass and orchestra, the SR-009 sounded congested in comparison. For me that was shocking. I am coming from my home collection of Abyss, HE-6, HD-800, SR-007mk1, HE-1000, and so far the SR-009 has bested them all in terms of absolute clarity and transparency (not to mention other aspects, but for the sake of this comparison I am only mentioning these traits).

    And the Clones bested the SR-009. These headphones need more examination due to the meet conditions, but this is perhaps the one headphone I am most interested in at the moment.

    I also got to hear the new Ether and both Focals, all very nice, but once you hear what the SR-009 can do there is very little that impresses you.
    @calaf
    what do you do when Sennheiser insists in not making your favourite headphone? You build your own of course! Congrats to n3rdling for his daring enterprise. I am not qualified to compare his handmade electrostat to an Orpheus, and I don't think anyone could have done that with the background noise in the break room. I will say that the headphone sounded "high-end" and that it was very comfortable. Looking forward to future developments.


    CanJam 2016 (brought these in a backpack, few heard them)
    @ohhgourami
    Milos' Clones: Nice to hear these again but out a BHSE. Easily the best thing I heard today as they did everything right. Great job with them Milos!


    January 16th Orange County Meet Impressions

    @Marvey
    @n3rdling's DIY stat. A cross between the Orpheus and original Omega sound. Pretty amazing. DIY might be the way to go given current pricing on newer stats, Sennheiser, cough, cough, cough.
    @Andre Y
    @n3rdling's DIY stats sounded really good, but perhaps a bit less sensitive, so you really had to turn the volume up. It had transparency, but without the thinness that my HE60s had on their stock amps.
    @Donald North
    N3rdling: your DIY Orpheus clones are impressive
    @Audio Zenith
    Standout of the meet: Orpheus clone from n3rdling. The ambient noise was crazy loud, channels were a bit misbalanced and there was a slight buzzing in one of the channels but I felt this was probably the most balanced electrostatic headphone I have ever heard. There was still a few issues but Milos said he has an idea on how they could be fixed. Good luck man, this was a great job and I hope you can make another miracle.
    @Clemmaster
    Highlights for me were:
    - @n3rdling's DIY electrostat: this is some outstanding work, man! Keep at it!
    @velvetx
    The clones were absolutely amazing. The tone was accurate the highs and mids were excellently represented. I could have listened all day as it was just one of those headphones that you could enjoy with anything. It wasn't as bass focused as I like but man the sound, tonal accuracy, and sound stage was amazing. Thank you for bringing these out and dazzling the hell out of us. Easily one of my favorites at the meet.
    @shaizada
    Accuphase CD Player + DIY Orpheus + Headmp Aristaeus Amp
    Meets are a blessing and a disaster. You get to hear gear you would not otherwise hear but the conditions do not give you a full chance to truly hear the gear. Such was the case here as well. I had to literally dial up the volume to almost 9/10 to get to actually hear the sound as the ambient noise floor was too high around me. This rig showed fantastic promise... I didn't hear anything that would stick out. From what little I could hear, everything was in balance and harmony. Top end, mids, bottom end, everything flowed like water. I would love to hear this rig without any disturbances some time...I think I need to visit Milos and hear this thing properly as it felt correct....I just couldn't tell HOW correct. Milos has a fantastic ear and taste level, so I am sure this rig will really shine, but I just need to hear it properly. Almost felt like I should have taken this rig upstairs to my listening room and just LISTEN there.
     
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  4. MuppetFace

    MuppetFace Sultana of Seafoam Green - Moderator

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    I have just sent these on to @shipsupt after spending some quality time with them. Amps used were the SRM-717 and BHSE. Sources were my Sonic Frontiers SFD-1 Mk2 SE and Kuzma Reference 2 turntable.

    In a word: baller.

    These things honestly don't inspire much confidence when you first remove them from the flight case, as the cups flop around on wiggly screws and don't have any grills over the backside yet. There's a metal headband with a suspension system. I was really paranoid of damaging @n3rdling 's babies the whole time lmao. That being said, the system works even if it's not the most glamorous; in fact they proved to be quite comfortable and light. The earpads were the longer Sennheiser type. In fact, they seemed like Orpheus earpads? Or at least Baby Orpheus? I think? Either way it was swank.

    As the tour's official "tester with a female skull (that isn't kept displayed on a shelf)," I can report that they are comfortable with smaller sized noggins too. Keep in mind I'm about 5'7" tho.

    Also they were quite durable. Milos said I might need to tighten the screws should they have come loose, but really I didn't find any need to do this. Everything held together quite well.

    Okay so sound. I plugged these into the SRM-717 first and let them "warm up" for a few hours. Listening to The Weekend's "King of Fall," I was greeted with some very satisfying low end punch. If you're expecting the whole stereotypical flaccid e-stat bass, these are gonna surprise you. Beat heavy genres like hip hop, acid house, jungle, cosmic drum circles... from trap snares to motorik rhythms.... these Orpheus clones sounded fast, punchy, powerful, and like they wanted to kick someone's ass. Is the bass as good as the AB-1266's? No. However I have zero complaints about it, and that's coming from an e-stat.

    Those expecting the romantic euphonic sound of the HE90 will be surprised to find these aren't so much Orpheus clones in that regard. At least, not to my ears. What they sounded like was, well, a *Super SR-009* for lack of a more apt descriptor. They have the same impressive transparency and a very similar tuning from the mids up. Yet there's no question in my mind that these out resolve the SR-009, especially in low level information. That old cliche of hearing new things in the mix? It pains me to say it, but damn, it was happening. A lot.

    These are some of the most detailed sounding stats I've ever heard.

    The SR-009 seems downright laid back by comparison. Not in terms of warmth or brightness or anything. Again: to my ears the tuning is quite similar between these two aside from the low end which is more robust on the clones. The SR-009 however presented more of a holistic picture. By contrast, the clones kept tossing information my way. There was a much more active, engaging sound to the clones. Separation was more apparent, layers and nuances popped more, and I'd say they've retained the more grandiose and diffuse presentation of the HE90.

    Now, on the BHSE, I tend to find most e-stats a bit too bright for my personal tastes. Like the SR-009, despite the liquidy smooth treble, I find the clones more fitting for my personal tastes on the SRM-717. However I did prefer the clones on the BHSE to the SR-009, as I feel the bottom end helps balance the sound a bit more and make up for some of the subjective thinness I get from that amp.

    Really, the best praise I can give these is that I told Milos to put me down for a set if he decided to make a production run.

    I want a set.
     
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  5. anetode

    anetode Moderator

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    Turns out that while Stax was jumping around between the OG Omega, 007 and 009, Sennheiser had already nailed the design and desired curve on their first go-around at high end with the HE90. Milos' Clones follow in those footsteps, retaining perhaps the Orpheus' most appealing feature -- that liquid smooth sound. Despite the curves they don't sound quite as warm as the Orpheus or quite as pronounced in the bass as a top end planar magnetic. But they straddle a happy middle-ground between the 009 and the 007. The clones then are an 008, or more precisely an 007.9. They are tuned for pleasurable listening, slightly laid back without sounding dark. Now keep in mind that to my ears the 009's treble is just about perfectly neutral, so those of a warmer persuasion may not find it laid back at all. Put it another way, they nail and even top Audeze's idea of neutrality. Except unlike the LCDs, they are quick, focused and have air (and not random glimpses at air like on some 3s).

    Bass-wise they are very good, feed them well and you will get the sort of slam that the 007 can deliver, or perhaps even more. I wouldn't know, having driven them with an unmodded 727II which did them no favors. Just as well, since the main reason I kept the 727II was their pairing with the 009. Speaking of the 009, I still think that it has cleaner, more detailed bass, albeit notably less of it. That's not to say that the Clones' bass is slow or muddy, far from it, they handily best all dynamics in digging out texture. They even allow you to tell the difference between specific drum machines in cheesy 80s synthpop. Overall I'd put them just short of the Orpheus and 009 on resolution and just short of the HE6 or Abyss in terms of slam. (The 007s can sometimes sound like they slam harder, but that may have to do with the midbass or upper bass boost on the 007mk1 and 007mk2+, respectively).

    Saving the best for last, my favorite feature of the Clones is their soundstage. Finally a stat that sounds vast!! No, not HD800 vast, but easily the equal of Utopia in size and image consistency. Milos wisely chose to forgo some extraneous design flourishes most stat makers employ to suggest the impression of extra safety. (That's not meant as code for them being dangerous, they really aren't.) This choice rewards the listener with an openness to the sound that the Stax Sigma wishes it could have.

    Their fit is fine, adjustable to ensure a seal necessary for good even bass response. Their build quality is... well, to parphrase Obadiah Stane, "Milos was able to build this in a cave! With a box of scraps!" So don't tell us it can't be done, that a stat with good bass and great soundstage can't come to market, because I'm counting on it.
     
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  6. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    My own impressions :

    @n3rdling let me borrow his Clone during a couple of days. I heard it at "home" with my SRX+/ GOv2 /Laptop rig. I had my Utopia and my HE60 as benchmarks. I have heard and measured the genuine HE90 a few days before.

    Considering it's an orpheus Clone, i was expecting the same sound right ? I listened to it during a few minutes and honestly i coudln't believe what I was listening to. 3 hours later, i was convinced : Milos did not only recreate the original orpheus or at least the same kind of sound but he achieved to improve it. I told him before I measure " Man , your headphone has a much better slam and impact that the Orpheus, especially in the bass" so measurements didn't surprise me much.

    Actually , I honestly think Milos Clone is the best headphone I heard to date and I think I already listened to all modern flagships, owned most amongst a lot of other headphones. I'd say the only headphones I never heard are the SR-Omega, all Jeckin floats , Sony Qualia and R10, Taket H2 and Grado HP1000.

    But from all headphones I listened to , the Clone is the best. I'm not saying it bests all headphones for all characteristics but it's the best overall. Why ?

    First of all , this thing is the neutrality king. Everything you'll compare will sound colored. I think the very even FR is the key point there. Especially in the mids. Maybe a few people will hear it at colored but I don't . The original Orpheus will sound more mid centric for example. HE60 and Utopia sounds brightish and colored compared to this Orpheus Clone.

    The second key point is clarity and transparency. Combined with the neutral FR, the clarity of this headphones allow me to hear the music with a strong feeling of transparency. As if the headphone itself had disappeared. Some other headphones can come close to that goal but the Clone is the best. hands down. Orpheus is beaten as well.

    I see some you say "Meh. Another stat for stat fans". and I see the point buuuut. the Bass slam and body here is there . Not as good and visceral than the best dynamics and planars but still. The Clone offer more Bass impact and extension than any Other Stat I heard ( I didn't hear the SR-Omega) . Think HEK Bass but more textured, with faster transients and maybe more slam. THe gap with the original HE90 is huge there.

    The last impressive point is the Staging. My fav' thus far have always been my HD800 and my HE60 . they're different ( HD800 is more holographic but somewhat conveys a cinemascope effect whereas the HE60 offer a more focused and forward presentation but with a nice feeling of borderless infinite staging. The HE90 beated the two in the sense the stage is bigger and deeper than the HE60 but still with the same kind of natural presentation. More "natural" presentation than the HD800 at least. The Clone offers the same staging than the HE90 imo. A tiny bit distant "a la HD800" and for my tastes it's absolutely perfect but I can see people who likes a more "in your face sound" can like it less than I do.

    Finally , HE90 and HD800 share in my opinion a common trait. a weight , a "grandeur" ,something that transcends headphones in my opinion. and the Clone still offers that. My HE60 for example lacks of this. As good as it is ,it sounds a bit "small" wherepas the Clone , the Orpheus and the HD800 are more impressive/grandiose. I think it's a mix of resentation and FR or something. the HEK despites the softness offered that kind of feeling as well. Not the Utopia for example.

    I think this headphone nails it on the head for me. :)

    The only "issue" I heard : It's still a Stat and does not offer the visceral slam of very best orthos nor the projection of sound of Dynamics but from any stats I heard or own , it's the one that competes the best on this point. It still sounds a tiny bit "light" though. I couldn't evaluate the resolution. Because it"s a tough one for my flawed ears and I hadn't my Resolution master for comparison so I prefer to shut up on that point.

    That's is IMO the true best headphone in the world today. Period. @Tyll Hertsens should have one, review it and use it as benchmark for all kilobucks so called totl headphones.

    Coming from there.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  7. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    Clones are on the way to France. My impressions are coming soon...
     
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  8. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    Going back a few years I recall helping @CeeTee with a meet in the Bay Area. It was the first one he organized, well before the Changstar days. I was still exploring and had relatively modest gear. The HD-800 was “king”, but it was all still a love and hate thing. I think folks were still figuring out how to amp it, and no one wanted to mod their uber expensive headphones. We all still had a pair of Grados that we listened to and/or modified. Planar dynamics were being discovered (again) with the likes of Audeze putting out their first offerings. I can’t remember if Marv was there, but I always remember him from those early meets as being super grumpy and having a rig that was not very FOTM but sounded awesome.

    Up until that time, not only had I never considered an electrostatic headphone, I had never even heard one. I didn’t know it, but my direction in the hobby would take a turn that day. Well, not that day, but the seed was planted.

    An unassuming young man (read kid) in the corner had a table full of “stuff” I had never seen before. Some of the headphones looked like they were made from plastic grills that would look more at home on a Jetsons episode. Amps looked distinctly DIY. A LOT of people were hanging around. Getting a chance to see what was up took some patience. I can’t actually recall if @n3rdling had his Orpheus rig with him that day, if he did I might have missed it. What he did have was a good, somewhat vintage, CD player feeding a Blue Hawaii amp. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t an SE. I made my way to front and got my chance to sample the SR-007 from this rig. To say I was impressed is an understatement. It shifted my perceptions about what headphone listening could be like.

    All the time this “kid” with all the gear was completely happy to answer all of my silly questions. He was obviously passionate about the hobby and these mysterious electrostatic headphones.

    I recall talking to @CeeTee after the meet and telling him I really liked the STAX Omega (the originals). It was only then that he told me how rare they were and how much they cost! At that time I was sure I’d never own them… but that would change.

    At subsequent meets I was always keen to see what rig @n3rdling would bring along. He would drag along everything he had, no matter what it cost. I can remember nights in our hotel suites when we spent hours listening to his Orpheus rig.

    He sold me my second electrostatic headphone and an amp. A Lambda Nova Signature and the not so common SRM-300 amp that had been lightly modified. I still have both the headphones and the amp to this day.

    All this time I was buying and selling all sorts of headphones and amplifiers. I went through all of the “Flagships” of the time, and nearly all the “mid-fi” offerings as well.

    Eventually I decided to change directions get rid of nearly everything to get serious with electrostatics. I decided that I’d end up with something like the BHSE and the 007.

    Well, that plan never really worked out. I’ve owned nearly all of the STAX headphones, some of the basic, and all of the more exotic. I have had many STAX amps, still have a BHSE, and have built my own amps, like the KGSShv. I mention this only because it was really because of hearing @Nerdling’s rigs that I got hooked. While my wallet doesn’t thank him, my ears do!

    Little did I know then that the “kid” was actually a budding mad scientist formulating his plan to build his own epic creation! Over the years I’d read a little here and there about him patching together some Frankenstein headphone or building his own CNC and 3D printer. It always seemed like he was in the middle of building something but nothing finished ever seemed to materialize.

    Flash-forward to the meets earlier this year. There was a buzz about a DIY electrostatic. Soon after I heard from @n3rdling asking if I was interested in hearing his creation. I hesitated for .02 seconds and told him HECK YEAH!

    A fair sized but relatively light box showed up on my doorstep in late December, direct from our own @MuppetFace. The timing was good. I was on vacation and had little else to do but audition this headphone everyone was talking about.

    Check the meet thread and you can see the pictures. These are prototypes. There are parts which look to be 3D printed that are really finished looking. There are also some parts that look like a bad DIY project gone wrong. All that said, I threw them on my melon and they were light and comfortable. As per instructions from @n3rdling I let them clamp fairly tight to make sure I had a good seal. I spent some long sessions with the “clones” and they were as comfortable as any headphone I own. The concept is there and with some finish work they can look the part.

    There was the occasional crackle, kind of like you get form the ESP-950, but @n3rdling had sent along instructions on how to combat these little issues and the clones performed essentially flawlessly while I had them.

    Of course, the real question is “do they sound the part?"

    I spent the most time listening with the Headamp BHSE fed from the dCS Debussy DAC along with some time from the STAX SRM-717. I’ve got some significant hours racked up with these systems listening with the 009, 007, Omega, He-60 and most other electrostatics. The major exception is the HE-90.

    The clone (is that what we’re calling it?) out of the box didn’t hit me with anything in particular. That’s a good thing in my book. A headphone like the 009 will immediately give off that “hi-fi” tuning that sounds really good out of the gate, but tends to grind on me in the long term. The clone isn’t so “in your face”.

    I’ll remind the reader that it’s been a long time since I’ve spent time with the HE-90, so my recollection is likely biased with the passage of time, but I also felt the clone wasn’t quite as smooth and romantic sounding as the mythical Sennheiser.

    Early listening seemed to leave me feeling they fell somewhere between the 007 and 009. Not as dark as the 007, not as analytical as the 009. Not as bright and a little thicker than the Omega. There are a lot of similarities with my Unicorn Jades, and that does not surprise me now that I’ve compared measurements.

    FR was clearly pretty flat without noticeable roll off on either end.

    It wasn’t long before I fell in love with the upper sub-bass and mid-bass from these headphones. Percussion reproduction was on par with some of the best I’ve heard. There was a good physical impact, tone and timbre. Certain tracks sounded down right magical in this area. Tight, fast, and absolutely no ringing. It’s probably this area of strength that gave the clone a fuller sound that some of the thinner sounding stats can struggle to achieve.

    As flat as they measure, the clones have a slightly warm tone that I really enjoy when listening to music and not picking apart sound quality. And that’s really the highest compliment I can give to headphone… being able to listen for hours and just enjoying the music without continually noticing some glaring imperfection or omission. Not having to choose a specific genre of music that “works” with that particular headphone. Throw anything you like at the clones and they handle it.

    I know that some folks felt that the mids and vocals are where the clones shine. While I found the mids to be very, very good, I did feel like occasionally there was an ever so slight tinny or metallic sound to the vocals. I am talking VERY slight as compared to the best stuff out there. I had some discussions with N3rdling about this and we surmised that it might be because I am used to the typical 1k rise found on a lot of STAX. The clones are flat well past 2k. I was also not long over a head cold. I think I was also comparing it to the vocals I’m enjoying form my vinyl and speaker rig. Whatever the reason, I noticed this less as time went on with the clones.

    One of the pleasant surprises about the clone was their ability to dig out texture without sounding like an over sharpened digital photograph. On first listens I didn’t realize the level of resolution they were capable of, but longer session revealed a great level of transparency. That is one of the things that I think was most HE-90 like about these headphones.

    The words neutral and clean kept coming to mind, but the solid bass to low-mids seemed to keep things musical instead of entirely clinical.

    The high end was clean and crisp, almost on par with the treble of the 009, but never harsh. Thank goodness!

    With a lot of listening I began to wonder if that little dip around 8k you see in Ultra’s measurements isn’t a peak in disguise? I felt like I heard it, but it wasn’t really nasty like peaks in that area can be. If it’s there, it probably can be tuned out when the cages are added to a more finished headphone.

    As for soundstage, well, they are headphones, so meh… whatever. I don’t really care. Ok, they do have the right amount of air to feel open and not like a wall of sound. So, they get a full passing grade for me in this area.

    I generally listen at fairly pedestrian volumes, especially with stats. Oddly, I did find myself pushing the volume up, and up, and up with the clones. Not sure what the reason was, but it’s just something I noticed. I definitely did not consider them the best low volume level headphones I’ve heard, but they sure rock out when pushed!

    All headphones have compromises. The clones are no exception, but it became apparent that this was a headphone I could enjoy full time. It is a headphone that competes with the best offerings out there, dynamic or electrostatic.

    And that’s what is really amazing. The fact that @n3rdling has cobbled together a headphone from scratch that is at this level is nothing short of awesome. If you read about how STAX are produced, or catch up with the electrostatic DIY threads you’ll understand that building something like this is not like slapping some dynamat into your HD-650. It takes a special kind of DIY guy to build a headphone like this.

    If @n3rdling decides to sell a few of these masterpieces I wonder what challenges lay ahead? How easy will it be to match diaphragm tension? Will the diaphragm coating formula be repeatable? Will adding more protection for the drivers impact the sound? I don’t know, but man, I hope none of this is an issue because they sounded darned good and I’m sure I want to be in line to get my hands on one if they become available.

    It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed any headphones so my 6moons mojo is probably a little rusty. If I’ve left something out feel free to ask and I’m happy to throw my opinion out there.

    I want to thank @n3rdling. Thanks for introducing me to electrostatic headphones in the first place and now for letting me hear a world-class headphone that you created by hand. Well done!
     
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  9. n3rdling

    n3rdling Friend

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    Thanks for the impressions Chris, and it's been a pleasure to know you over the years. Really one of the stand up people in this community. Every time somebody tells me it's my fault they've been sucked into the stat universe, I get a great sense of guilty pleasure. :D Bringing some of that stuff to meets can be risky, but most people treat gear with respect and I know it can be difficult to get a chance to listen to some of that gear. In the end it's been worth it.

    Looks like the clones made their way to @sorrodje . He'll be bringing them to the Paris meet at @Ali-Pacha's on the 10th, so there should be more impressions at that time.
     
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  10. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

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    Awesome impressions so far folks!

    Can we get @3X0 on the loaner tour? Would love him to compare to his HE-90 and SR-Omega.
     
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  11. a44100Hz

    a44100Hz Friend

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    @n3rdling this is very impressive to read about and you seem like a cool guy besides. Go you!
     
  12. Arnaud

    Arnaud Facebook Friend

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    Ok, I have been procrastinating on this for too long and if I don’t get my “review” by today (last holiday here in Japan for a while), it won’t happen… I don’t have the courage let alone the skills to write my thoughts in as pleasant to read manner as the likes of Anetode, Shitsupt, Sorrodge. So, this a rather raw set of impressions I gleaned listening to n3rdling’s clones over a period of 2 weeks or so.

    All the listening was done at home with my estat rig (BHSE with NOS XF2OO mallard or XF4DD siemens), TotalDAC D1-six upstream fed by USB (with Wyrd and such filters in between although I can’t honestly tell the difference).

    My reference headphone is the SR-009, which isn’t necessarily a great thing as this has become the sound I’m accustomed to and I tend to dislike any headphone I try that deviates too much from that voicing. With this in mind, I was still eager to listen to n3rdling’s clone as I kept fond memories of trying chinesettawong’s orpheus clones a few years back. And I wasn't disappointed, far from it!

    When comparing headphones, ideally, one should do it at equal loudness to avoid false impressions of the louder can being perceived as “more dynamic / more detailed”. It’s a bit tedious in case of headphones because this loudness if extremely frequency dependent so you can’t just SPL match at 1kHz and call it a day. I used a rather coarse approach with a slow integrating SPL meter set on dBA and playing pink noise. I found out that I could be close enough adjusting by ears so did not sweat it going forward. Basically, to match the SR009 loudness, I’d have to increase the volume 1 notch or slightly less I recall (increasing the volume of ~1 indentation spacing on my RK50 BHSE) for the clones so they’re a bit less efficient than the Stax.

    I’ve left the avalanche of raw impressions below this message, this is just what I typed down as I listened to these tunes. It’s been ~1 month since I’ve sent the clones off, I could not work from memory so I am solely relying on what I wrote as I listened to the music.

    Reading through these impressions again, the following trends show up:
    1. SR009 sounds more lively / dynamic, perhaps because of its more forward mids (1-3kHz range) while the clones definitely have a bit of a warmer voicing. That more “mellow” presentation of the clones makes you want to increase the volume a bit.
    2. Now, interestingly, the warmer voicing does not make the clone feel less detailed than the Stax. On the contrary, the clones treble is actually more present / possibly more extended up top than the SR009 (I think it’s expected given the drivers are naked). For the most part, this voicing makes the clones more forgiving of subpar recordings or anything that tends to sound hard/shouty on the SR009 although it does not make the clones play nice with any shit recording you throw at them (there’s no magic bullet in this hobby).
    3. Clones have (comparatively to the stax) a bass emphasis that is mostly beneficial (feels more extended / more impactful / basically more speaker like) while the leaner bass of the SR009 feels more textured (for the most part, there was a recording with sub-bass that sounded cleaner on the clones).
    4. In terms of imaging, there are subtle differences between the clones and SR-009. The clones images wider but with less perceived depth (as if the SR009 sits you 15 rows back in the hall compared to the clones). Note that I have some contradictory comments about this on some tracks, maybe this is recording dependent or otherwise depends a bit on how I adjusted the headband at the time (critical aspect as I did not how how to do this at first and was greated with bloated bass sound because there was no seal).
    5. While both headphones are very precise in terms of instrument positioning / layering, the SR009 takes the lead to my ears. Maybe it’s just because I’m used to its presentation but I feel more the space / air around the instruments with the SR009 which, combined with a clear rendering of room reflections / echo, makes for a more immersive experience than the clones to these ears.

    In summary, to my ears, it’s not like the clones are sending my SR-009 to the closet but I see them as complementary set of headphones that would be welcome in my home ;-). I was extremely impressed by what n3rdling could come up with using a DIY approach. They don’t have any serious flaw while competing against the very best out there. The clones voicing / presentation is most likely preferable to the SR-009 for many people (most people prefer a full bodied sound to a leaner presentation I’d think), and their ability to be so detailed / extended up top without sounding metallic / shrill is astounding. Actually, I don’t think I’ve heard cymbal shimmer better rendered than on the clones (that’s no small feat as I held the SR009 as king of the hill regarding this for a long time).

    If the pricing is right and if n3rdling can deliver in terms of consistency and durability / robustness, he might get swamped trying to fulfill a too large number of orders. I wish him no less, thank you again Milos for giving me the chance to hear these :).

    Oh, I forget about my measurements. Had been years since I used my measuring rig, I realized the front end longer worked with modern version of OS-X so I used Roland binaural capsule to do the recording. The sole value of these measurements is to compare the clones and the SR-009, the curve is NOT calibrated against anything, just the result of a flat baffle measurement with neoprene facing. The measured differences in FRF correlate with what I heard so I thought I’d post them.

    First the rig:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    This is comparison between clones and SR-009 (L/R channels average):
    [​IMG]

    This is the SR-009 only (L/R matching is just crazy good on Stax):
    [​IMG]

    This is the Clones only (L/R matching is pretty darn good and I suspect n3rdling could even improve on this if he makes a large batch):
    [​IMG]

    This is a comparison of the SR-009 and Clones 1st resonance (seal broken, mic distance to driver surface increased by 3-4 mm):
    [​IMG]

    This is SR-009 only (again, perfect L/R matching):
    [​IMG]

    And the clones (I can imagine n3rdling will nail this with a larger production run):
    [​IMG]

    cheers,

    arnaud


    Ani DiFranco / Which Side Are you On? / J / HDTracks 88.2k

    • SR009 sounds more lively / dynamics
    • SR009 mids are more forward
    • Clone has more extended and fuller bass with more bass kick / impact
    • Stage feels more Left/Right/Center feel on clone
    • Voice is warmer and feels more natural on clone

    Jamie Cullum / Twenty Something / Wind Cries Mary / HDTracks 96k

    • SR009 sounds a bit too forward
    • Treble shimmer is clearer / more realistic sounding on the clone
    • Clones has a bit of bass overboost emphasizing impact over texture
    • SR009 bass sounds tighter and more textured

    The World's Greatest Audiophile Vocal Recordings / Fever [Valerie Joyce] [Valerie Joyce] / HDTracks 44.1

    • Finger snap sounds more real from SR009, room reverb on percussions is more easily perceived, easier to imagine the room size
    • Clones gives sense of depth but less width
    • Saxo is borderline aggressive on SR009
    • Saxo sounds maybe a tiny bit muffled on clone (relatively speaking, no idea which is closest to the real thing)

    Jimmy Cobb Quartet/Jazz in the Key of Blue/With You I'm Born Again/HDTracks 96k

    • Cymbals sound too sharp on SR009
    • Clones feels both more elevated in treble while at the same time less aggressive than 009
    • SR009 puts you closer to the instruments, trumpet is a bit too hot / gets shouty on SR009

    Avishai Cohen (trompette) / Into The Silence / Life And Death / Qobuz 88.2k:

    • Drum brush / cymbal / high hat sounds just as if not more resolved on the clone
    • Yet at the same time the whole performance is somewhat muted compared to SR009
    • Easier to place the drum set in the room with SR009
    • Clones puts it further back when we don’t get good feel with the width of the room (prefer the SR009 there)

    Avishai Cohen Trio / From Darkness / C#- / Qobuz 96k:

    • Piano sounds has a bit of nasal coloration on SR009
    • Clone sounds more natural
    • SR009 gets a bit shouty
    • Clone is warmer sounding has more drum bass kick
    • Clone portrays more believable drum solo including kick and treble
    • Although there’s also some veil feel on the clone (pbly relative to 009 forward mids)

    Avishai Cohen Trio / From Darkness / Ballad For An Unborn / Qobuz 96k:

    • SR009 has more precise instrument placement
    • Clones feels spread left to right too much
    • Clone has more natural treble extension on percussions

    Cat Power / Jukebox / Lost someone / 44.1k:

    • SR009 feels snappier, more lively


    Cat Power / What Would The Community Think / Good Clean Fun / 44.1k:

    • Voice is bit warmer on clones, more intimate on SR009
    • Cymbal sound somewhat artificial on SR009 soon after switching (~10 seconds)
    • Both cans get a tiny bit shouty at high SPL (too close mic?) but SR009 more so

    Emiliana Torrini / Me And Armini / Big Jump / 44.1k:

    • SR009 bass is very clean and textured
    • clone drum kick and bass are much more present, quite enjoyable


    Feist / Open Season: Remixes & Collabs / Tout Doucement / 44.1k:

    • SR009 sub-bass is a bit round
    • Clones sub-bass is deep, tight, clean (need to squeeze caps to avoid rattle though)

    Feist / The Reminder / The Water / 44.1k:

    • SR009 bass is textured, snappier
    • SR009 sounds roomier / airier more engaging


    Fiona Apple / The Idler Wheel is Wiser … / Valentine / 44.1k:

    • Clones drum kick feels more real
    • Clones voice is warmer, more pleasing than 009


    Hugh Coltman / Stories from the Safe House / Voices / 44.1k:

    • SR009 feels a tiny bit too mid focused when coming from the clones
    • Clone voice is warmer / more natural
    • Guitar on clone feels just the right tonality

    Jack Johnson / Brushfire Fairytales / Sexi Plexi / 44.1k:

    • Room reverb / room size more easily picked up on the SR009
    • Percussions feel a bit veiled on clones

    Lhasa / Lhasa / Anyone and Everyone / 44.1k:

    • Room reverb (voice) feels more real / spookier on SR009
    • Cymbal shimmer is more realistic on clone


    Yael Naïm / Yael Naïm / Toxic / 44.1k:

    • Voice has a bit of sibilance on SR009, guitar gets a bit shouty
    • Overall more enjoyable on the clone because voice feels more natural / overall warmer
    • SR009 feels more detailed and resolved (each layer is easier to pick up)

    Asa / Asa / So Beautiful / 44.1k:

    • SR009 feels narrower, deeper stage
    • Clone feels more open
    • SR009 gets a bit too hot at higher SPL
    • Definitely more pleasant listen through the clone (bass drive, right amount of mid/highs)

    Ayo / Joyful / And It's Supposed To Be Love / 44.1k:

    • SR009 feels has good bass but missing a bit of foundation
    • Clone bass hits harder, goes lower, overall much more enjoyable
    • Wider staging on clone, more fun

    Beth Orion / Central Reservation / Sweetest Decline / 44.1k:

    • Bit of sibilance on SR009 and cymbal sounds a bit artificially bright
    • Cymbals have right amount of detail and presence on clone
    • Overall weightier / more body to voices and strings on clone (more enjoyable)

    Bjork / Homogenic / Hunter / 44.1k:

    • Sub-bass / bass a bit round on SR009
    • Bass had more impact, is fuller but also sounds cleaner on clone

    Calexico / Convict Pool / Convict Pool / 44.1k:

    • SR009 feels snappier, percussions sound more real


    Carla Bruni / Quelqu’un m’a dit / L’excessive / 44.1k:

    • Voice is more intimate on SR009, more engaging


    Chris Isaak / Wicked Game / Blue Spanish Sky / 44.1k:

    • Air around guitar / feel the room around it on SR009
    • More cohesive presentation / stating on SR009


    Eric Clapton / Unplugged / Tears in Heaven / 44.1k:

    • Guitar feels snappier on SR009, overall more air / lively


    Massive Attack / Mezzanine / Angel / 44.1k:

    • Quite a bit of rattle on the clone (dust?) but bass feels tighter / hits harder / cleaner / much better
    • Clone has wider more enjoyable presentation


    Suzanne Vega / Beauty & Crime / Anniversary / 44.1k:

    • Bass is tighter on clone
    • Overall sounds more enjoyable on clone
     
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  13. Ali-Pacha

    Ali-Pacha Friend

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    I presume it's my turn to post impressions on @n3rdling's babies, as they are gone to @MrButchi...maybe they'll cure his Utopia's disease :p I've already written something in my meet's report, sorry for the déjà-vu.

    Some unnecessary thoughts from an OCD guy :
    - gosh, they're light ! :eek:
    - oh, the metal headband is asymmetrical. Funny to look when they sit on someone else's head :D
    - btw, this metal part with "Orpheus Clone" engraved on it has very sharp edges, so be careful while handling them
    - now I know how 3D printing looks like (cups)
    - absolutely no protection on drivers...ok, I'll be very careful with my hands, and will store them under a towel. Won't I get a short with my earlobes that may be touching the inner stators ? o_O (hopefully it didn't happen)
    - left driver has a hole in the center and is yellow-ish, whereas right one has no hole and is a bit green-ish...what kind of experiment did lead to this configuration ?
    - I see coating stains on the diaphragm through the hole of left driver. Reminds me when I performed recoating on my SR-5 gold
    - love the original HE90/Orpheus pads
    - right channel is always (very) shy on first plug-in, but 2-3 minutes and balance is perfect

    The most important thing when you're listening to them is how they fit to your head. Use the screws to set the clamping, carefully holding the counter-bolts. And when you've a small head like mine, use the patented "towel / paper tissue / whatever item" mod in between your skull and the headpad, otherwise you'll have clamping on the lower part of your jaw and no clamping above your ears.

    Sensitivity is typical Sennheiser stat, comparable to HE60 or SR-007, lower than other Staxens.

    Upstream gears reminder :
    - Yggdrasil + BHSE
    - HiFimediy + SRM-1/mk2 Pro (yeah, love doing the audio splits)

    Soundwise

    Let's quote my other post :

    Maybe a slight bump in the bass which masks sub-bass, maybe a lack of high mids for presence / voices (remember : stax zealot, 1-2 khz in da place :oops:), a pinch of sibilance on some tracks, something euphonic terribly pleasing but maybe not 100% accurate...stop : tonally speaking, I've to say they are the best stat I've ever heard. They just sound right. Try some acoustic / live / classical / jazz, you'll immediately know.
    Detail level is also impressive. I mean right, one more time. HE60 and even more HD800 are kinda detail whores, 009 sounds faster and conveys other kind of details that are most of the time recordings flaws, but the clones brings you separation and details that sound real.
    Soundstage is very wide, symphonic, they're Senn's for sure, with a more L/R presentation than the small HE60 sphere and large HD800 sphere. I've the feeling pads' material and depth (they have HE90's original pads) + tonal balance are the key there.


    So, do they have flaws ? Yes, but one is also a real strength, and the other one may be adressed :
    - they do not scale that much with amping. Disappointing maybe when you hear what a BHSE can do with 009 or HE60, but good news eventually if @n3rdling decides to make a commercial batch
    - they lack impact and are not the fastest stats out there. Not a problem for most of stat lovers who listen to jazz / classical (you want impact ? Get some HE6 dude !), but I suspect there's room for improvement with stiffer enclosures (3D printing right now) and maybe reinforced stators à la 009
    Oh, and maybe angled drivers to please @frenchbat and get a more volumic soundstage :p


    I've not a lot to add to these impressions :
    - details are really incredible. I've written HE60 and HD800 are details whore, but to be more specific, they project details in your face, especially HD800, whereas clones have the best detail retrieval, the most natural one. They're the best for details, DWI :bow:
    - they are the more "liquid-like" stat I've ever heard, as they have absolutely no frequency oddities...maybe a bit around 8-9 khz with BHSE, and that's all
    - I'll disagree with my fellow zealots' comments about bass, as I feel it's lighter than 009. More ambiance, more space, but definitely lower in volume, texture and "bite", in spite of a really slight bump which masks a bit the sub-bass. I've tested with killer tracks from @Ony, sub-bass addict whose modded-HE6 rig is Thor's hammer in this area
    - they are really little amp-dependent...to the extent they work pretty well from Normal Bias output ! :)
    - there is a bit of dependence though, as I may prefer them from my SRM-1/mk2. They do not benefit from BHSE's ironfist, they even may be a bit glaring with it. Not to the extent they sound bad, hell no. But more balanced from regular Stax amp, definitely, as they don't need added technicality and dynamics doesn't scale up
    - I'm not very sensitive to soundstage, but @frenchbat did point out the L/R presentation exposed above, and I've to say he's right, there's sometimes a very R/L presentation, think 8-track mix from the 60's. It doesn't bother me, but I've to say the best balance for me could be something between 009 and HE60. OTH I love the cathedral-like presentation of HD800, colour me changing :oops:

    So, what's next ?

    - they made me sell my SR-007mk1. I mean, they already were in danger in my collection, but I did want some more time with them, especially paired with BHSE. But if you want relaxed / a bit laid back stat sound which sounds more right than 009, there is absolutely no way 007 could compete with them...it's an humiliation, I've no other words for that :confused:
    - they made me buy HD800 (SDR, cheapest price ever seen) ! Ok, they're quite different : massive spheric "out of this space" soundstage, great e-dyn kick...and obviously faked tone (but which phones can compete with clone's righteousness ? Mmmh ? :p). Anyway, I've always thought about HD800, and the clones made me want a solid Sennheiser voicing in my collection :cool:
    - @n3rdling you already knew it, but I'm definitely in line if you go commercial \/

    Ali
     
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    Last edited: Jan 23, 2017
  14. MrButchi

    MrButchi Gear Master Europe

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    It's kinda hard to pick up the ball after the likes of interventions above, which basically say it all. But I'll try to do so in a concise manner. Had the chance to keep em home for close to two weeks. Home being my office (so no week end listening, but close to 5-6 hours per day, except for two when I was out taking classes).

    My rig is MSB Universal Transport => Yggdrasil AES => SRM727MKII modded.

    Started with my testing playlist for about two days to break my head in. Then moved on to all styles (rock, EDM, classical). Ended with face to face comparisons with Utopia (driven from BW2).

    On a build / comfort basis, I'll basically refer to @Ali-Pacha : you have to pay extreme care to get proper clamping. If not, bass suffers big time. But once you get that and here the Clones the way they're supposed to sound once, you never forget it, and know when to re-clamp. They're light and flexible but not flimsy. I wonder what closing them behind the drivers will do to the sound, but I'm sure @n3rdling will figure out to not change the sig, as it is pretty close to fucking perfect as is. If I had one recommendation (and I've told that to Milos already), it would be to study the Kennerton system because it's pretty precise and I think it would fit well the Clones general build and style.

    On a sound basis... just wow. The words that just kept coming and coming was "natural and effortless". It seems like they spew out the music so easily... It just flows. As if it had always been there. It's so easy to melt in the ambiance. On my first listening experience at the Paris meet, I had a feeling close to that of @frenchbat regarding the soundstage being almost too wide / diffuse. But I think that really must be either clamping or brain burnin sensitive, because I never got it again once the Clones were fitted properly on my head.

    Here comes the part were I lose my credibility. I compared the Clones and Utopia face to face for nearly 6 hours, A/Bing specific timecodes of songs I used for my IEM reviews in order to get more info (I've had the Utopias for about 4 months now). My biggest surprise was how close they are in the end. I mean sure they're also very different at the same time. But appart from the bass bump low that the Utopias have to pack their punches, and the general mid highs/highs coloration of the Utopia, they performed very very very close. For lack of a better word, I'll say that the Clones have the best timbre I've ever heard. Utopia's imaging and details were better imho, but timbre wise, Clones were on top. In other words, whenever I would switch to the Clones, I'd be like 'hey, this violin sounds a bit truer, and so does this guitar'. Yet I never felt anything missing when switching back to the Utopia. Maybe have I reach my audio-competence plateau, but overall, I expected them to be a lot more different than I found em to be. Near the end of my experience, Milos recommended I try some cellos, so I went with Fournier's Bach Cello Suites. And that's probably the biggest difference I saw between the two. It's almost as if the Clones were reproducing some (natural) harmonics that the Utopias weren't.

    So all in all, I must praise @n3rdling for the honor he made me letting me try the Clones for such an extended period and for listening to my rants trying to make sense of my impressions. I think that they're in fact quite close to being marketable - ofc the frame will look better than that, and the clamping system needs to be made product-grade. But this is ready for primetime. And I think when it kicks, it is going to be a huge disruption. HP makers beware, David is coming for the Goliathes out there.

    ps: sorry for the TL;DR I really wanted to keep this short but failed miserably :drunk:
    pps : these headphones deserve their own name. Clones is not doing em justice.
     
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    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
  15. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    I'm so jelly of everyone that has heard @n3rdling clones. His phones might get me into the Electrostat game.
     
  16. hifi01170

    hifi01170 Acquaintance

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    with such rave reviews any plan on making more and selling them? It could be a killer product if priced correctly....
     
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  17. n3rdling

    n3rdling Friend

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    The main goal of the loaner tour and bringing these to meets has been to get impressions to gauge potential market interest and help me to understand if they're as good as I personally think they are. This is my baby so I know I'm prone to be biased by nature, and I'm also self-doubting so that's why I asked specific people if they'd be interested in an audition.

    The plan is to make this a commercial product as reviews have been very encouraging and interest seems substantial. As mentioned in the OP, my biggest challenge right now is sourcing production of my own stat cables. Right now it's looking like I may have to take that on myself given the insane price quotes I've received. I have a price target I want to hit that I think is reasonable and should be possible if I can solve the cable issue. Again, if anybody has resources (maybe connects in China?) please PM me.

    These are currently with @blubliss and will likely go on a small tour on HC.

    Third post updated with impressions from @miceblue , @boynamedsue , @Audio Zenith , @kevnin , and @Bill-P at the meet this weekend.
     
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  18. hifi01170

    hifi01170 Acquaintance

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    that's great news man!!!! eargerly waiting for updates!
     
  19. Koth Ganesh

    Koth Ganesh Friend

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    @n3rdling, will you ship the Milostats (you like the name? :)) internationally as well?
     
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  20. blubliss

    blubliss Friend

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    I think these are really nice headphones and at the right price would be in my stable of electrostats.

    Listening was done on this chain: Yggdrasil>T2 and I compared to the 009 and SR-Omega.

    One of the outstanding characteristics of the HE90 (which I owned) is its ethereal nature, a sense of expanded airiness. In my opinion, these clones do not have that character trait like the HE90, 009 or Sr-Omega do. You might say that the clones are more neutral and this will appeal to many people, but when I listen to electrostats I like that characteristic to be present more than it is in the clones.

    Now, just listening to the clones without comparing is a very pleasant experience. The soundstage is really cohesive, meaning that it is spread nicely in front of me, not too centered on either side. The tonality seems correct. Nothing jumps out from the presentation, it's balanced from top to bottom.

    Unfortunately, my new Carbon (sold one) is not up and running yet so I couldn't listen on another amp.

    Thanks milos for the opportunity! These headphones are an amazing accomplishment.
     
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