Personal Audio Preferences Thread

Discussion in 'Random Thoughts' started by Lyer25, May 26, 2019.

  1. Lyer25

    Lyer25 Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Okay. Since we're spoon feeding people now might as well get this out of the way. I'll start:

    Cable disbeliever past a certain, low-3-digit USD threshold, can not evaluate DACs in 2 seconds ergo is presumably deaf. Significantly less ground covered trying DACs than amps and headphones, but seems to enjoy Schiit's MB implementation; curious to try proper resistor ladder due to others' impressions of sound. Doesn't find DS too offensive. Relatively indifferent to high summit-fi due to budgetary constraints and tends to pull punches commenting on gear unless largely irredeemable, so look for comments about minor nitpicks and magnify (working on this).

    Values technicalities more than FR balance, tolerant of somewhat improper treble but is a lower-volume listener to begin with so is less at risk of experiencing actual pain from audio than others may be. Loathes excessive, mids-smothered bass bloat, but does appreciate some added "body" to presentation. Edging into biodyna fanboyism but loves the HEKv2's ethereal presentation as a change of pace and would buy a pair alongside a competent tube amp if able.

    Tight imaging and ability to present layers carries far more weight than plain soundstage size. Attack and dynamic range is valuable but not nearly as important as ability to resolve low nuances in the background or render a tangible sense of atmosphere. Fun is fine, neutrality be fucked.

    Does not believe he can discern past microdetail into "plankton" territory, that's for either pros or conmen. Loves some commonly referenced, well-crafted audiophile test tracks but generally listens to bad pop and rock music from 80s to the mid-2000s as well as anime soundtracks. Yes really.

    Considers MQA and DSD trash save for instances when people go out of their way to produce them with more care, but has hopes for high res PCM; is primarily an unpaid Redbook shill.

    Klipsch HP-3: fuck the treble sharpness while the bass is almost Nighthawk-y* on certain tracks unless vent modded. Recessed mids not a massive issue; timbre of instruments close enough to natural for me and the added sense of depth is appreciated. Love how it images so well even on mediocre gear, almost a Goldilocks phone for my tastes except for the too-aggro upper end.
    *AudioQuest Nighthawk: too much mud. Only ever demoed briefly outside, never for very long. Good technicalities supposedly.
    Meze 99 Classics: Jesus this is like a Nighthawk except less technically competent. Great sense of space and imaging for the price, beats HD650 hollow in tightness of tapestry on mid-fi systems. Bass gives me actual headaches dammit. Breaking seal for tolerable bass makes it sound shouty and hard. Lack of aggression.
    TH-X00EB: dirty sub-bass rumble, but so ridiculously fun. 11kHz blip sucks testes because tonality would be spot on otherwise save for a bit too much shout. Cup reverb masks nuances. Stage is humongous for closed cans but images might be "smaller" than on other cans.
    Sennheiser HD800 Anax mod+DIY SDR: diffuse as all hell but fun. Midrange-bass balance pleasurable, slightly warm only offset by treble spike. Not impressed by speed but good dynamic range and trailing decays.
    Sennheiser HD650: older version, pads flat as pillows. Beautiful midrange bloominess and warmth, where's the mid/upper treble? Bass performance is perfunctory but fun, sub-bass is pushing luck. Images surprisingly bodied and present in 3d space.
    Beyerdynamic DT880/250: murky images, wide elliptical stage. Mushy attack, but alright timbre. Treble not extremely offensive depending on track, but occassional zing aside it's an unremarkable headphone.
    Grado RS1 Buttonless: What images? What soundstage? Less offensive than cheaper Grados but still fatiguing after extended sessions. Fashion piece. Good timbre for small ensembles, not close to neutral.
    Schiit Bifrost Multibit: current reference. Love the layering and texture, maybe too much tubby bass compared to Chord Hugo. Grain? IDK. I need to try more DACs this does the job well enough for me at the moment.
    iFi micro iDSD: have had for ages now. Great AIO solution, gobs of power that handle biodyna cans well. Maybe too bright and u-shaped FR. Occasionally fatiguing, am I getting used to non-DS? Fuck.
    Fostex HP-V1: warm, full bodied, treble tamped down. Proper layers, sense of space most cheap SS ams don't afford. Gain too high for my usual levels, occasionally resort to EQ and DVC
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
  2. sheldaze

    sheldaze Friend

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    Cables matter - I own at least 6-pair of cables for Utopia, and each sounds different. But I agree with the first post. Which is to say, you need to be a nutjob to dabble in cables - beyond tweaking the last n-th, there are greater gains to be had in cans/amps/dacs. I do hear differences between DACs, but I cannot hear deltas in 5 seconds. And I cannot hear deltas with background noise, or with the simple thought that someone is going to interrupt me. Honestly took me several minutes to hear a delta between Grace Design m9xx and (OG) Schiit Gungnir Multibit (an experiment I did many years ago, feeding both into a Cavalli Liquid Carbon). The trick - it was a very close volume match.

    But once I dive in, DAC deltas are pretty big. And I like to dive in deeply, for hours of listening. My ears can adjust, somewhat, to the frequency differences between headphones. My two prime dynamic phones are HD800S (with modifications to reduce echos - people heard these at a recent mini-meet and agreed - subtle but obvious) and Utopia (with the right driver tube, the “metal” does not bother me). But I will not suffer for my audio hobby. I will not play loudly. I will not listen to the crisp sound of a D/S source to locate that creaking chair, or person who coughed in the audience (Sir Georg Solti, World Orchestra for Peace, Rossini, Guillaume Tell Overture). I turned off my Yggdrasil gen 1 for several months, once I realized I did not have to suffer, after I heard an alternative - turned it back on, after it was upgraded to Yggdrasil gen 2.

    I’m extremely picky, but not particularly articulate, in describing to others what drives me. Local friends have often asked me what characterizes good sound, in my view. I believe the first time I heard it was at a micro meet, Dave > BA > HD800S (stock). I was so swept up into the song (Goldfrapp, Tales of Us, Alvar) I’m still not sure I completely left the room. I could not open my eyes until the last twang, of the last guitar note had decayed completely. And though I hear the technical prowess of Af, I still go back to BA.

    An unexpected and loud sound will cause me pain. I still do not understand why I am the only person holding my hands to my ears, when I look around at the people nearby, as an ambulance or fire truck passes. I have allergies that occasionally block my hearing - occurred once during a large local meet - stayed blocked for about a week. I can only assume the passages in my ears are built differently, such as the air pressure on a plane (if I do not clear it several times during the descent) can cause pain for the next day or more. I like plasma TV, but I hear it. I hear the transformers that run various things around the house. I hear the fridge several rooms away. I don’t so much hear the insects outside, but I hear when they become quiet (die) after the first Autumn freeze. If I am home during a work day, I hear the start and stop of rush hour, though the closest major street has a posted speed limit of 50mph and is likely a half mile away. Fresh snow is the best time to listen during the day.

    Then after I dive in, and the environment is calm around me, and my ears are cleared, and the music is playing, if I am thinking around the transport, or the DAC, or the amplifier, or the headphones, simply - something is wrong. It should all go away, and not cause pain to endure. And I haven’t even the slightest clue how to write this in a technical manner. So when I review things, I will focus on the small deltas that I can distinguish between products. Not sure that what I wrote here is useful, or is in the true spirit of the thread. Just wrote what is true to me, and that's all I can do.
     
    Jerry likes this.
  3. RedFuneral

    RedFuneral Acquaintance

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    Is this the confessional thread? Either way I'm about 150ml deep in gin and that's how my thoughts are forming tonight.

    I'm a bad audiophile. My three reference headphones are STAX SR-5 Gold, Ultrasone Edition 12, and Ultrasone PRO2900. They each had their flaws(STAXs being build q) but I've been bouncing around equipment since I sold the three trying to compress them into one. Leaves me unclear as to my 'preferences,' all I can say is where my comfort zone lies. I always end up with ear razors but my dream system has STAX speed, ED12 velvet sound(no relation to AKM) and PRO2900 staging/excitement. Trying to hit that ideal match of smoothness & speed has left me ping-ponging around the hobby without long term satisfaction in anything. The Pro being my first good headphone is likely why harsh sound has become my fallback.

    To further muddle the pot I've owned an Audio Technica R70x for the past few months and its showed me a level of fanatic agnosticism that near converted me to the stereotypical reddit objectivist overnight. It makes NOS & OS dacs sound the same, tubes & solid-state.. same, different amps... same. I'm not sure if its a reality check or just a shitty headphone but I feel I get where half of the standard internet arguments come from now.


    So far as preferences go:
    I appreciate metal drivers however they may not be for me due to my lo-fi musical taste
    I'm particular with bass tightness/speed and it takes me awhile to notice a lack of quantity, basslight dynamics have become my comfort zone. I should branch out more into planar.
    Perfectly clean amps are worst.. thinking back on Bakoon HPA-01 & my current JDS Atom... boring.
    Never owned a tube amp I liked but I've never heard a push-pull amp. Pentodes get closer than triodes because they have bite and less funny business.
    I'm slow to fatigue with bright treble, emphasized upper-mids bother me, oblivious to lower-mid tuning, and fatigue quick with boomy bass. This has allowed me to get away with owning Beyerdynamic T70s where the Pro2900s were just bad.
    I prefer DS DACs now even though I used to only like NOS R2R(due to perceived timing blur.)
    I ignore cables because I already overbudget to gear on the gear-music scale
    My music is all either wall-of-sound metal or electronic soundscapes, there's no 'real life' reference for any of this, mid-fi is better than what most of this music is recorded/mastered on, I try and keep the absurd nature of my involvement in this hobby in mind at all times. Nothing I buy can improve my recordings, there's no more detail to be had. I can use measurements to find equipment which minimizes distortion/ringing(maximizing speed) but in the end its about making the music I like listenable & enjoyable.
     
  4. Lyer25

    Lyer25 Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Reason why I made this thread: it'll be easier for readers to look up experience and preferences of people who post impressions/reviews so they know how to gauge what they've written. I say this as someone who occasionally chimes in with follow up impressions that may be entirely useless.
     

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