Overthinking Bluetooth cans

Discussion in 'Advice Threads' started by rojo, Feb 26, 2021.

?

Which Bluetooth headphones?

  1. Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Drop + Panda

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Audeze Mobius

    11.1%
  4. Hifiman Ananda-BT

    11.1%
  5. Other

    77.8%
  1. rojo

    rojo Rando

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    I got my income tax refund. My amazing wife has given me her blessing to buy a new pair of Bluetooth headphones, since my Parrot Zik 2 are flaking black pleather crud all over my head every time I put them on. So, I've been overthinking this for the past two days and I wonder if y'all can help me?

    I prefer neutral, maaayyybe with a slight house curve toward the sub range into infrasonics. I'd also like to avoid pleather. If a cow or sheep didn't die so that I can have headphones, then what even is the point?

    Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless: I'm leaning toward the Sennheiser cans because with their app (if I've read correctly) whatever EQ I apply will stick (albeit only 3 bands). Available ANC would be a bonus.

    Hifiman Ananda-BT: I'd really dig the sound stage of the open-back Ananda-BTs if their DSP would accommodate a sticky sub-40 Hz boost. Also, I'm not confident in their durability over time. Friend of mine just had to replace a pair of HE-560s b/c one ear was intermittent. Still, do the benefits outweigh the complaints? These would be the closest to my Aeon Flow Opens I think, except I've EQ'd the dammit out of those with a miniDSP HA-DSP.

    Drop + Panda: I think the Drop + Pandas would have the potential to be more detailed than the Sennheiser's dynamic drivers, if only their DSP-tweaking app were more than vaporware. I prefer any equalization to stay stored in the headphones' DSP, but I suppose I could use the Neutralizer Android app if I had reasonable assurance it would only be temporary.

    Audeze Mobius: Don't know much about the Mobius, other than I like what I see in its measurement graph. Honestly, they lose points for their urban styling though.

    What do you guys think? One of these, or is there another I should be considering?
     
  2. Gazny

    Gazny Almost "Made"

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    Maybe something like a portable bluetooth amp, you already have the Aeon Flow Open. I don't think any Bluetooth headphone would come close to its performance.
     
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  3. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    I voted "other" for the Bose QC 35 II. Seems counter intuitive that a Bose product would be recommended by "audiophiles" , but it is good if not the best in this category.
     
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  4. rojo

    rojo Rando

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    That's already the way I listen to my Aeon Flows most of the time: Astell & Kern bt puck -> miniDSP HA-DSP -> Fiio A5. It's just nice to get rid of the noose of headphone cables from time to time. Plus, it's a complicated swaggy stack of geeklery that gets tedious to operate at times. First world problems, right?
     
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  5. rojo

    rojo Rando

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    Hey, I'm not completely prejudiced against Bose. They employ some genuinely clever engineering in some of their products -- Wave Radio and Soundwear, for example. In this case, there's no superlative feature that offsets the all-plastic construction of the QC35 II. I think I'm still leaning towards the Sennheisers.
     
  6. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    I had most of the "popular" BT headphones, with the exception of the Microsoft Surface 2 but price/performance QC35 II is king, there's no "but" about it.
    If you want a really budget one the Soundcore Q30 does a decent job with a little EQ.
     
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  7. Metro

    Metro Friend

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    Is quality of noise cancellation important? What type of music do you listen to, and what circumstances will you use them (indoors/outdoors, noisy/quiet, etc)?
    That limits the options quite a bit. You can also look at Bang & Olufsen (H4 and H9).
     
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  8. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I have the Momentum 2 and really like it. It's super comfortable, though does get warm.
     
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  9. supertransformingdhruv

    supertransformingdhruv Almost "Made"

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    Have you looked at the sony wh-1000xm4? It’s pretty regularly touted as having the best noise cancelling, 20+ hours of battery, USB-C charging, LDAC support, and pretty decent sound (at least if it sounds like the wh-1000xm3). I’d asked a similar question about a year ago in the general advice thread and ended up with the previous version of the sony.

    Not “audiophile” but... thought I’d put it out there.
     
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  10. rojo

    rojo Rando

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    I listen to both kinds: country -and- western.

    Kidding. I listen to EDM. Soundcloud has limitless amounts of Amen beats and sub bass to plumb. Jazz, everything from Dave Brubeck to Michael Buble; Pat Metheny to Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band; Take 6 to Groove For Thought to Incognito. Doobie Brothers, Lionel Ritchie, Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire, REO Speedwagon, Journey, Toto, Def Leppard, KISS, Black Sabbath, Madonna, Boyz II Men, Jodeci, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Avicii, The Weeknd, Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa.... Also, John Williams and the Boston Pops, Elgar, Chopin, Vivaldi, Saint Saens, David Holsinger, Samuel Barber, Eric Whitacre....

    I'll mostly listen indoors, but I won't rule out wearing them while walking the dog. Could be quiet, but hard to tell with a 9-year-old. ANC would be nice, but if the right cans come along and don't have it, it's not a deal breaker. I also like the thought of the opposite effect, a sort of noise passthrough to give the effect of open back sound stage with the bass response of closed back ear cups. My Parrot Zik has a similar feature, and I think the Audeze Mobius does as well? Or the stereo imaging rotates as you turn your head or something? That's why those are on my list, in spite of my aversion to plastic hinges. If anyone has any experience with them I wouldn't mind a summary. Does this effect work over Bluetooth using my phone as source?

    I considered the B&O headphones. They're super attractive, but they have a V-shaped response if I recall correctly.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
  11. rojo

    rojo Rando

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    I demoed those Sonys in Best Buy. Not sure whether it was just poor choice of demo material or I was unfairly comparing them to my Aeon Flows, but I thought the Sony headphones were unrefined somehow. They were well tuned, but just lacking in detail and depth. Plus I've seen several customer complaints of the plastic headband cracking at the swivel. I like that you're considering headphones I might not have, though!
     
  12. Magnetostatic_Tubephile

    Magnetostatic_Tubephile Friend

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    For closed-back bluetooth headphones, my advice would be to go for those with built-in DSP supporting custom parametric EQ. The possibility of permanently EQing bluetooth headphones to make them tonally exactly to your liking is a crucial one, as you cannot really alter their sound otherwise (with amps/DACs/tubes/whatever) and the SQ differences among the top closed-back competitors are not large.

    Momentum 3 Wireless only supports 3-bands but they do not really need more to sound great, given their already very natural tonal profile in mids. Just EQ the bass and treble down... and you're golden. More information incl. measurements can be found HERE.

    Drop THX Panda is also a great option. Apart from some resident warmth coming from mid/high bass emphasis, they might not even need any EQ to sound natural. I am waiting on the app regardless. Technically speaking in the same ballpark as the Momentums but the timbre is somewhat different, leaning towards the typical planar magnetic sound.

    Sony WH-1000xm4 is not bad at all but not quite great either IMHO. For me, they would be unlistenable in the long term without EQ. Too much boominess and bloating in bass and too supressed mids. Timbre-wise not quite as good as the Momentums either to my ears, subtle details are being smeared (probably by the sonically quite crappy pleather pads). An option to consider but somewhat below the Momentums and the Pandas overall I think.

    Bose QC35 II can be surprisingly even tonally but also quite bad timbre-wise. I do not think these are in the same sound tier as the above three options, even if the overall gap is not huge. More information incl. measurements HERE.

    Why have I only mentioned closed-backs until now? Well, if you can go with an open-back Ananda BT and EQ it a bit to your liking, it would probably be a more satisfactory choice for serious audiophile listening due to less compromised acoustical design. I love the Momentums and Pandas while working, when moving around the house, or when in need for isolation. However, to be truly immersed in the sound of music... to feel like I am there with the musicians... well, those mentioned closed-backs won't quite do. But then, maybe not even Ananda BT will. You can only go so far with bluetooth.
     
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    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
  13. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    It's great but the 700 from Bose are the best in that regard, also the mic is 100x better, even the one from the QC35II. The mic from the XM3 is dreadful and it is behind many of the cheap Chinese BT//ANC i have/had.

    The problem with the XM3 and XM4 are different but similar, they both suck for calls, they are great in terms of ANC, XM3 is a much better price/quality product because you can get them for 200 and you either love that Bass or, like me, you have to dial it down quite a bit. Also they get crazy with Sweden's minus temperatures and i prefer physical buttons by far.

    The problem with the 700 is the head comfort, it's definitely not for everyone and the shape, imo, is not the most ergonomical.

    If it fits properly go with the 700, if you are looking for calls/anc capabilities.

    All my experience is from ANC focused headphones, which is something to keep in mind, they are mostly for traveling and, for my gf, for work/calls, and that's why i owned several different pairs.
     
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  14. rojo

    rojo Rando

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    This is gold. Thank you!

    Any opinions re: Ananda-BT vs. Deva vs. Grado GW100 v2? Or do you know of any open-backs in existence whose DSP supports storing custom eq / tone control?
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
  15. rojo

    rojo Rando

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    Welp, I just went YOLO on the Ananda-BT. @Magnetostatic_Tubephile was my voice of reason. Ultimately, what I'm looking for is the sort of audio reproduction that makes a man involuntarily close his eyes and smile like an idiot. It seems with all the closed-back models, there is no depth to the sound stage, no illusion of live performance, no magic. If I want magic, I need open-backs.

    I got a pair open box with a Chinese New Year discount, $740 shipped and no sales tax, straight from hifiman.com. I've got 30 days to audition them. I'll let y'all know.
     
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  16. rojo

    rojo Rando

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    Just got fiber Internet installed today. Also, my Ananda-BT headphones arrived. Today was a great day!

    First impressions of the headphones: Right now I'm listening to Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea perform Spain, grinning like an idiot.

    As is characteristic of planars, their native response is just a hair on the thick side of neutral. Honestly, though, if I couldn't EQ them I wouldn't be disappointed. Midbass may be slightly over cooked, but the other ranges are excellent. They're airy without being overly sibilant, with a refinement of detail resolution I've not heard in any other Bluetooth headphones.

    I used Neutralizer to bring up the 32 and 63 Hz bands a hair, and calm the 125 and 250 Hz bands a tad. This makes me happy.

    I'll take some proper measurements soon. I want to get to know them a little better first. I'd rather the measurements not tell me what I'm supposed to think of them, at least not quite yet.
     
  17. rojo

    rojo Rando

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    As promised, here are the measurements.

    [​IMG]

    Judging from the graph, I would expect to be missing some detail around the area of 2 kHz. Honestly, I don't notice it one iota. Just goes to show, graphs are useful to get a general idea of what to expect, but there really is no substitute for firsthand listening.

    [​IMG]

    These measurements were taken over Bluetooth. Unknown how that affects the relevance of the waterfall plot, measuring over such a latent interface. But the graph does reflect what I don't hear, which is any ringing resonance or other sorts of misbehavior in any range.

    Ultimately, I believe these are audiophile headphones without qualification. Anyone who enjoys matching a valve amp's character with that of headphones will be disappointed, as the Ananda-BT operate solely through their own DSP and amplification. But for those who don't care where the amplification comes from as long as it sounds good, these headphones are bomb-dot-com. I like these better than my Aeon Flows, even without regard to wire or wireless.

    And within the category of Bluetooth headphones, nothing else I've heard comes close to competing with these. I can't imagine any closed backs offering this sort of expansive sound stage. Of the few available open backs, the Grado GW100 and the Hifiman Deva, while impressive for their cost I'm sure, they're still only as detailed as one would expect from headphones with entry-grade transducers.
     
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