rhythmdevils modded orthos

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by rhythmdevils, Nov 16, 2021.

  1. JeremiahS

    JeremiahS Almost "Made"

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    What are you driving the modded HE6 SE @loadexfa ? My HE6 SE is slightly modded as well so very curious about this RD mod. Mods improve the HE6 SE a lot.

    I think there is a clarity and airiness in the mid and treble of the higher tiers HFM that the Audeze lack although RD mod LCD-4 can be different.
     
  2. loadexfa

    loadexfa MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    This was at the meet at my place, it was a Flux amp that someone brought. I don’t know exactly which one, I believe the owner said it cost $750 which narrows it down but that still leaves a few to choose from (their lineup is kinda confusing in that way):
    https://fluxlab-acoustics.com/category/products/

    It had a TON of power and had an easy time with the 6se so that should narrow it down to the ones with the most power but I think there’s still more than one option like that.
     
  3. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    I figured I should report back to this thread as well. I am now the proud owner of the HE6SE that I listened to a while ago. Thanks to @loadexfa for his generosity and @rhythmdevils for making this.

    Frequency response measurement:
    [​IMG]

    That basically says it all. I also have a confession to make: stock pads were a bit too soft and kinda "hot" to me so I swapped the pads for something less hot (more breathable) and ended up with a more comfy seal. FR didn't change much if at all.

    These are very very good. Reminds me a lot of Code-X but kind of "better" in a way. Hard to explain but I would say it's the "effortlessness". I have not had much time for other things recently but I have really tried to find time to listen to these a lot. They are that good!

    P.S.: these are v1 of the headphone.

    TL;DR:
    Probably among the best soundstage I have heard out of any ortho/planar or just flat out any headphones for that matter.
    Treble still a bit tizzy/zippy but I can stand it on tube amp.
    Need plenty of power but punches progressively harder once given enough. Bass is insane.
     
  4. loadexfa

    loadexfa MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I’m glad you’re enjoying them! With the right amp I was really impressed as well, they got closer to the LCD-4 than I expected.
     
  5. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I spent this morning drilling vent holes into all the various chi-fi ortho iems I reviewed in my big ortho iem review roundup. My goal was to try to vent them more to down tune the drivers and make them less bright with more bass. I had a lot of success! Unfortunately so far the only one I've got so that it sounds perfect with no micropore tape is the PMV PP, which with a new vent hole in the back of the iem now has absolutely perfect FR. One of the best FR of any iem I've heard. Unfortunately they're not the most resolving of the bunch. I got the S12 to sound warmer, and less bright with a much more open sound, better tone and more resolution, but it still needs micropore tape over the front nozzle. I also got the TRN Krin to sound great with 2 holes in the back of the iems and micropore tape over half the front nozzle. (before this wasn't nearly enough).

    So some great results so far! I've learned a lot and hopefully I can figure out how to get the S12 to be neutral with no micropore tape. it's the most resolving of any iem I've heard now, but having to use micropore tape is a hassle.

    If I have success I'll probably offer these mods on my website.

    I'm currently using a Dremel based "drill press" because it fits into my space and I don't have room for a real drill press. It's working well, though the drill bit moves a bit so it's not as clean as I would like.

    I'm just absolutely loving my S12 now. Next step is to make them more open with more vent holes and try to make them neutral with no micropore tape.

    Picture of the drilling on an S12:

    [​IMG]

    picture of S12 with one hole on the back of the enclosure (instead of the front as is stock)

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I went too far with the S12! Drilling 3 more holes had previously not increased bass by that much, and I wanted a bit more, so I found some space on the back to drill 3 more, but I must have reached a critical point where the driver got to breath enough that it gave it much more excursion because they're too bassy now, with no micropore tape. Here's a picture. Not the neatest, next one I will try to line the holes up nicer.

    [​IMG]

    I also have gotten good results with the TRN Krin, which now sounds neutral with great bass, a touch emphasized but great quality.

    [​IMG]

    And the PMV PP, with just one hole fixes the plastic tone and balances out the FR, with a bit of a bass boost. I might try a smaller hole next time but I think a lot of people will like this tuning.

    [​IMG]

    I would like to figure out the Good Planar GL12 because it has the strongest magnets, you can pick one up by the other just from the magnetic strength.

    [​IMG]

    I fixed the treble and midrange with 1 hole in the back (which is already open unless it’s fake openings ala Schitt DACs), and 3 holes in the front but I lost all bass. But the midrange to treble sound great now! Maybe I can fix them we’ll see. :)
     
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    Last edited: Aug 11, 2022
  7. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I've got the Shuoer S12 tuned to where I like the FR with no micropore tape over the nozzle they're very neutral and I'm really happy with the sound and excited to be able to offer a great sounding ortho for a really good price. I'll probably sell them with mods and with a better cable. I'll post another update when I get another S12 in and can mod the to look prettier than my prototype and post some pictures.

    Just looking into custom cables and iem cases now... :)
     
  8. dubharmonic

    dubharmonic Friend

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    Many thanks for @rhythmdevils for giving me the chance to listen to one of his latest mods!

    RD-5 VS stock Audeze LCD-5
    • Wider stage
    • More open
    • Evened out midrange
    • Slightly more midbass

    [​IMG]

    The mods certainly result in noticeable improvements, though they don’t address the softness and lack of bite, which are my main complaints about the original. I’m assuming these are simply the limitations of the LCD-5 driver. I miss the LCD-4, even if it was bigger and 1/3 heavier!

    Comparisons done mostly with the following compilation:

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Woland

    Woland Friend

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    I wonder if the He6 sound is a direct result of flinging old-school heavier rigid diaphrams.

    Newer orthos are much more sensitive partly through much lighter diaphragms. Presumably that means they're easier to control, less rigid and more affected by air resistance.
     
  10. Tchoupitoulas

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    RD-4, 4z, and X Impressions

    I’m very grateful to rhythmdevils for kindly lending me his two modified versions of the LCD-4 as well as his modified LCD-4z and LCD-X. From now on I’ll refer to them by their rhythmdevils monikers, the RD-4 mk I and mk II, the RD-4z, and the RD-X.

    I’m especially grateful for his patience as I spent several weeks with these headphones. (I had them all at the same time). And back during the winter break, I also had the good fortune of hearing his modified LCD-R headphones (impressions here), which means I can comment on the whole lineup. I’ll do that later, in a separate post.

    Since I’m offering impressions of four headphones here, I’ll break up my impressions into several posts covering the rhythmdevils house tuning; the RD-4 variants together and compared with the RD-4z; the RD-4 mk II compared with other, non-RD headphones; amp pairings; the RD-X with a comparison to the RD-4s, and, finally, some very brief closing thoughts on the whole lineup.

    What I can say right away is that it’s been an absolute pleasure to listen to all these headphones and not just because they’re exceptionally good. It’s been a fun learning experience, too. I’ve never heard a series of different headphones that share the same essential tuning, when it comes to their frequency response, and that have different characteristics when it comes to transient response, staging, macrodynamics, etc.. It’s impressive to hear the same, consistent tuning, done by Whitney’s ears, across multiple and different headphones. His modded Audezes thus share a broadly neutral house sound while having their own unique qualities.


    Preferences and caveats
    I’m in my mid-40s and can’t hear much above 14 kHz. I’m sensitive to too much emphasis in the upper-mids and lower-treble as well as fussier than most about wanting headphones to be free of congestion, veil, and a closed-in headstage. Excess warmth bothers me, and I grouse a lot about a lack of treble air. I lean more towards the HD 600 than the 650.


    Setup
    Mac Mini with Roon with Qobuz and FLAC/ALAC files via Unison USB -> Yggdrasil A2 balanced or balanced to Jensen PO-2XR converting to SE -> various amps:
    • I compared all the headphones to one another using the Monoprice Cavalli Liquid Gold X, which rhythmdevils used to tune them
    • I also used my Stratus with all of them
    • Additionally, I compared the RD-4 mk II with a Ragnarok v. 1.5, Mjolnir 2 with WE 396A tubes, Violectric V281 and, briefly, a Holo Audio Bliss.
    Among other headphones, I compared the RD-4s with my stock LCD-4, a ZMF Vérité Open, a Final Audio D8000 (not the Pro version), the SR1a, and an Abyss 1266 Phi with CC pads.

    The RD-4s come with two kinds of cable: the Forza AudioWorks Noir HPC for the 4 mk I and the 4z and what I believe is an Arctic Cables one for the mk II (the Talos, to be specific, I think). I stuck with these cables in my auditions except for the times I listened to the 4 mk II with the Stratus and Bliss. I found the Talos cable added too much warmth with these amps and preferred the lighter, more neutral sound from the Forza cable instead.


    A note on rhythmdevils’ mods
    I know next to nothing about modding headphones but I gather from Whitney that he
    • swapped the stock pads for perforated ones
    • introduced a novel venting system between the pads and the baffle
    • removed the fazors
    • modified the damping system to improve the driver’s performance
    • made other changes to the acoustics of the headphones, switching the mesh covering the driver for a more acoustically transparent material, which make the headphones much more open sounding and airier as well as more resolving – especially with the RD-4 mk II.


    Stock LCD-4 impressions, for context and perspective
    I have mixed feelings about the stock LCD-4. I love it for the qualities so many others appreciate – the deep, robust, highly textured bass, the dark tuning, the weighty sound, the excellent resolution, and the lovely rich mids. I share, though, Tyll Hertsen’s complaint about the odd, uneven treble presentation, with its upper-treble emphasis, which makes the LCD-4 come across as a bit tizzy as well as incoherent and imbalanced through its transition from the upper mids through treble. I also dislike the narrow, somewhat claustrophobic staging. These problems are sufficiently annoying that were it not for the prospect of ordering the RD-4s, I’d have sold my pair.


    [​IMG]


    Tonal signature of rhythmdevils’ modded Audezes

    It’s worth taking a moment to describe rhythmdevils’ tuning because all his headphones share the same sound profile. No aspect of the frequency response seems to predominate. In this sense, I’d call them all neutral, although I recognize that there’s no consensus as to what “neutral” means and that it’s a relative term. In this case, I use “neutral” to mean several things: the tuning is even and balanced; no one region of the frequency response seems recessed or overemphasized. If anything, I’d say the tuning is mid-centric. The mids are slightly forward, just enough that vocals stand out nicely and are wonderful, but not so much that lower and upper registers are set back in relation to them. If you listen either for the bass or treble, both are also done exceptionally well. Listening to his headphones made me realize how colored so many other headphones are – or how wonky their tuning is (not that this is necessarily a bad thing, of course, for specific flavors and experiences).

    The neutral sound isn’t clinical or flat and dull. There’s plenty of tonal richness. There’s some ever so slight, pleasing warmth. This warmth is hard to describe. It’s not “warm” in the sense of an emphasis in the mid/upper bass region like the HD 650. Rather, there’s something of what I’ve seen called a kind of “inner warmth” to the sound, which I can’t really pin down or explain. Put another way, these aren’t studio neutral headphones like the SR1a. They’re not “cold” or “analytical” or “clinical.” Instead, they sound more euphonic.

    I should add the caveat that I’m using the Yggdrasil A2 as a source, which might impart some of this perceived warmth. The RD headphones, I should further note, are transparent to the chain behind them: their tonal qualities shift very clearly with different amps.

    Beyond tuning, the sound of the RDs is slightly wet; these are anything but dry sounding headphones. With a good bit of weight to notes, the presentation is rich and substantial, although the RD-Rs are lighter and more ethereal. Neither the RD-4s nor the RD-X sound overly thick or ponderous or sluggish, though. They still have a clean sound, excellent timbre, and enough edge to transient attacks as to be lively and energetic.

    In other words, they’re all exquisitely tuned and commit no sins of commission, at least not to my ears.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 17, 2023
  11. Tchoupitoulas

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    The RD-4 mk I and II

    Beyond the general tonal signature described above, both the RD-4 mk I and mk II are on the richer and more lush sounding side of things. I’ve seen people describe the stock LCD-4 as “liquid” and “creamy.” Those qualities carry over to the RD-4s but are not in the least overdone.

    The RD-4s do differ from one another. The RD-4 mk II can be distinguished from the mk I by having a thinner, more transparent mesh over the driver, which makes for a lighter sound and significantly higher resolution. The mk II also sounds faster and more energetic.

    While the mids are glorious – and arguably the standout quality of the tuning for both RD-4s – the bass is also ideal in that it’s strong and very deep when called for without being intrusive when it’s not. I find lots of bassy headphones poorly suited to classical music, for instance, but not these. Frankly, these might have the best bass response I’ve heard from headphones. They go very deep and have a glorious, satisfying rumble. The mid-bass also has plenty of punch. The bass is also pretty tight and fast, although it’s still got a slight hint of bloom, which makes for wonderfully rich textures and a nice tactile feel to the bass even as there’s also plenty of air. The Abyss 1266 has a tighter/faster, leaner, more precise bass, with more sub-bass emphasis, while the RD-4s are more well-rounded and are better at timbral richness and accuracy. I like the Abyss for electronic music, soundtracks with the latest fad for booming, rattling sub-bass (Hans Zimmer, Ludwig Göransson) and some rock; the RD-4 I like for everything, including acoustic instruments, especially the double bass.

    The treble, meanwhile, is nicely extended and even, and not in the least bit exaggerated or recessed. I thought at first there might have been some treble roll off because of that hint of warmth to the sound, but when I compared the RD-4s with my HD 800 SDR or Raal SR1a, I didn’t really notice any missing treble information. Rather, the Raals have more treble emphasis and perhaps air. Also, the upper-mid dip of the stock LCD-4 is absent; I’m sensitive to excess upper-mid and lower-treble energy and found the RD-4s perfectly free of shoutiness or fatigue. There’s no glare or haze to the treble, nor any peaks that I can detect. The treble is, in a word, smooth. And there’s plenty of sparkle: acoustic guitars are about as good as I’ve heard them, especially with the incredible resolution, which brings out the complexity of overtones and the varying reverberations of chords as they decay. It’s a spellbinding experience.

    I’m not especially fussy about vocals, listening to a lot of instrumental music, but the RD-4s really do get vocals just right. Both male and female vocals were presented beautifully, slightly forward, such that they stand out, but not so far forward as to become distracting or to detract from the instruments surrounding them. The really great thing about vocals has to do with the way they appear in the overall staging, often as though floating slightly above the instruments but never in a way that they sound disconnected. I’ve not heard vocals sound better than this, including from the Utopia among other headphones.

    The RD-4s are probably the best headphones I’ve heard for timbre. I'll comment more about this below, when offering comparisons. For the time being, I'll just note that I realize some people have reservations about the sound of planar headphones; I’d encourage them to give the RD-4s a try.


    [​IMG]


    Beyond frequency response, the RD-4s are much more spacious and open and airy in their staging than the LCD-4. The LCD-4 has decent height to its staging, lots of depth, but little width. The RD-4s expand the headstage across these three axes, especially laterally, and thanks to being airier and more spacious, it provides much better separation. The RD-4s cope with complex passages of music exceptionally well. They’re clearly class-leading in this respect. Layering and imaging are excellent, too, as are the air and space between and surrounding instruments.

    Better yet, the RD-4s are much more resolving. They might be the most resolving headphones I’ve heard, barring, perhaps, the SR1a and some e-stats (it’s been too long since I heard the Utopia properly to comment there). Microdynamics are exceptionally good, too, perhaps also the best I’ve heard, and this quality combined with the outstanding resolution and the excellent imaging, layering, and separation, makes for one of the most pleasing experiences I’ve had with headphones when it comes to hearing the full complexity of music. It was wonderful to be able to hear instruments so distinctly even as they remained perfectly coherent and well-integrated with each other.

    The one issue I found, and it’s not a big deal, particularly, is that the RD-4s don’t have the greatest macrodynamic strength. These aren’t particularly impactful or percussive headphones, either, although they are by no means soft, and nothing like the softer HiFiMANs I’ve heard (I’ve not heard the HE-6). I suspect this lack of contrast has to do with the driver; I’ve noticed the same thing with the LCD-4, and I used a bunch of potent, slamming amps, including the Rag and Mjolnir 2.


    [​IMG]


    Differences between the RD-4 mk I and II
    The two versions are very similar but have differences that become apparent over time. Those differences, I suspect, come down to the effects of the more acoustically open and transparent mesh used on the mk II. Because of this, the mk I has a slightly slower but richer, fuller sound. It’s slightly thicker and has more tonal weight. As such, it does exceptionally well at presenting textures in a strong, tactile way. I wonder if these are the best headphones I’ve heard for convincing timbre for acoustic instruments. Electric guitars also have incredible growl, crunch, and grit, when called for.

    I found vocals to be more forward with the mk I.

    The mk I is the less resolving of the two but it’s in no way lacking here; it’s more resolving than the stock LCD-4. It also has a smaller, more intimate staging and less air than the mk II but, again, bests the LCD-4 in these areas.

    Both versions have average macrodynamic contrast but the mk I may be a bit more impactful—or, alternatively, it might pack a bit more punch by having a heftier tonal weight. There’s a good amount of welly and whomp from kick drums, for instance.

    The mk I makes for a more intimate, mellow, richly textured and immersive experience. The mk II, by contrast, has a lighter touch and comes across as being more resolving and having faster, snappier transients. And it stages more openly and spaciously. Imaging is much the same but the mk II pulls ahead for layering and separation, thanks to have more room to breathe. The mk II sounds airier and more spacious and exciting.
     
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  12. Tchoupitoulas

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    Comparisons of RD-4 mk II with other headphones

    RD-4 mk II vs LCD-4
    From Holo Audio Bliss, with the Forza cable with both and no reveal plugin used for the LCD-4.

    The RD-4 mk II has a lighter, less dark sound, and is much more resolving. The RD-4 is a good deal livelier and snappier; it’s not as plodding and dull as the LCD-4. It’s also more open and spacious, which is especially apparent with vocals, which float pleasingly above instruments. There’s better layering and instrument separation. With more echo, i.e. better decay, you get a better sense of room acoustics. Imaging is also much better with the RD-4, especially when it comes to the relationship between lead singers and backing vocalists.

    The RD-4’s staging is much better. This makes for a more holographic and immersive listening experience as well as a bigger, grander sound. The superior separation combines with more resolution to make everything sound more realistic – I’m hearing a good deal more detail, and hearing it more clearly, with the RD-4. Frankly, the RD-4 makes me want to listen for longer, especially because the LCD-4’s treble is peakier and its overall presentation is more fatiguing, as though the sound is more damped and enclosed, thereby making for a greater build-up of pressure (here the LCD-4’s solid pads make for a vast difference to the RD-4’s perforated ones).

    The LCD-4 sounds narrower, has a smaller stage, and presents vocals in a more forward and up-front way, in which they’re placed lower in the headstage, as though sitting on the instruments rather than rising above them. The LCD-4’s narrowness reminds me of the trash compactor scene in Star Wars, with the walls closing in:

    [​IMG]

    Beyond staging, the RD-4’s tuning is better balanced. Its bass is deeper and stronger, with some of that strength coming from slightly more emphasis in the mid-bass. Mids aren’t too different in terms of richness and sounding slightly wet and fluid; they’re more open and airier with the RD-4, and less stuffy. Vocals, male and female, are more delicate and sweeter.

    The upper mids are less recessed and more even; electric guitars have more bite, which contributes to the more energetic and exciting presentation of the RD-4.

    The clearer and more significant improvement is not only in the transition from mids to treble, which is seamless now with the RD-4, but also in the smoothness and quality of the treble itself. You can hear this with acoustic guitars, which have much more sparkle and none of the LCD-4’s weird, plasticky sound, with its clipped quality and tinkly and sometimes tizzy top end.

    Both headphones have lovely rich textures, as when you hear grittiness and crunch in guitars or the reverberations of strings or crackle of brass. Here’s an instance, I suspect, in which both share similarities thanks to the common driver.

    The RD-4 mk II has more macrodynamic contrast than the LCD-4. Again, it sounds less damped, as though the driver can move faster and more energetically.



    RD-4 mk II vs D8000
    Using the Monoprice Cavalli Liquid Gold X; the RD-4 mk II with the Arctic Cable Talos cable (which is rhythmdevils’ recommended cable for this amp).

    The D8000 is a highly appealing pair of headphones. Its tuning is warm, but not overly so, and it stages well, with plenty of width and space and air. It’s got an excellent bass response and slams quite nicely. Its main quality, for me, is its smoothness. The treble’s slightly rolled off, but the mids are lovely and forward, and it makes for one of the most enticing, easy listens I’ve enjoyed from headphones.

    Compared with the RD-4 mk II, the D8000 is a bit too smoothed over – that smoothness, in other words, comes at the price of some complexity. The RD-4 also has better treble extension. If something’s bright, the RD-4 reflects that while the D8000 smooths it over.

    The RD-4 mk II has
    • better, i.e. longer and more lingering decay
    • snappier transient attacks
    • a richer sound, with stronger textures
    • a more resolving, detailed sound
    • better separation and layering
    • a stronger ability to convey the distinctiveness/individuality of instruments in complex arrangements
    • more air and space around instruments
    • greater height to the staging
    • more depth to the sound; it’s not as up-front
      • if the D8k is like sitting in the 3rd row of a venue, the RD-4 is set further back, say in the 10th row
    • tighter, better-defined bass
    • more sparkle with acoustic guitars, more zing and metallic clash to cymbals
    • vocals that are a bit more forward and set higher in the stage

    The D8000 has
    • a smoother sound
    • stronger slam
    • more impact and percussiveness
    • more prominent or forward bass, perhaps a bit more sub-bass depth and strength
    • a less fatiguing presentation, given the smoothness and treble roll off
    Altogether, the RD-4 has a bigger, bolder, better-defined and delineated sound with stronger textures. It’s more exciting but also slightly more fatiguing; the D800 is a better option if prefer a smoother, mellower presentation.



    RD-4 mk II vs Vérité Open
    The VO is the African Blackwood ltd version; both headphones were heard from the 8 ohm 4-pin K1000 output of the Stratus using the Forza cable. (I prefer both of these headphones out of the Stratus to my other amps, and I prefer both of them from this same 8 ohm output).

    The comparison doesn’t go particularly well for the VO, which comes across as thinner, more edgy in the treble, and drier. The VO isn’t as good at staging – with less depth and height and sounds coming across as panned harder over to the sides – and it’s not as resolving and has less convincing timbre and a more colored, idiosyncratic tonality (which can be its own source of joy). The RD-4 isn’t as fast or as snappy, though, and has a softer, more rounded sound, one that lacks the incisiveness and macrodynamic contrast of the VO.

    The Vérité Open
    • has a lighter, thinner and drier sound, by comparison (I’d not call the VO light or thin on its own)
    • is more aggressive and fatiguing
    • has more impact and macrodynamic strength
    • is faster overall and has faster transient attacks
    • transients are cleaner and snappier
    • has similar decay but notes trail off for longer – although this is very slight
      • the chiming quality of Jeff Buckley’s guitar on Hallelujah comes with more echo and a more atmospheric quality
    • has more upper-mid and treble energy
      • snare hits are more wince-inducing
      • female vocals can be edgier, more shrill
      • electric guitars have more bite
      • higher frequencies of guitars, electric and acoustic, are peakier and more fatiguing
    • has more forward and up-front staging, especially with vocals
    • has staging that pans more to the sides and has more width but less height or depth
      • thanks to the lack of depth, the sound comes across as being flatter
        • with that said, there’s a lovely atmospheric quality to the staging with the VO, as though the three axes of the headstage combine well together to make for a nicely immersive sound
    • has a more open and airier presentation
    • bass is tighter/faster

    The RD-4 mk II
    • is much, much more resolving
    • is more mellifluous and mellow, it has a slightly warmer sound
    • has slower transients and a more rounded presentation
    • has much better stage depth both in terms of not being up-front but also in placing instruments at a greater or closer distance to the listener, according to their place in the arrangement
      • i.e. there’s more front-to-back distinction
    • has better, more precise imaging
    • has much better separation and layering even though it has similar or slightly less space or air around instruments
    • has more weight and tonal density
    • has a more even tonality with richer, smoother, more fluid mids
    • has a better transition through the mids into the treble
    • has a less peaky treble
      • sounds smoother, then
    • presents male and female vocals much better
      • Jeff Buckley’s voice on Hallelujah is sweeter, softer, less peaky and is more distinct, floating more beautifully over the guitar
      • female vocals are less fatiguing and piercing or sibilant
      • has less bite to electric guitars but more heft to power chords
    • has more robust and solid bass
    • has bass that’s thicker, richer, and more textured
    • has more slam, i.e. more bass oomph
    • has more sub-bass depth and rumble
    • overall, has more texture and better timbre


    RD-4 mk II vs Abyss 1266 Phi with CC pads
    From the Holo Bliss and the LAuX. The Bliss is excellent with the Abyss; the LAuX is very good, too.

    I’ll keep these comparisons brief because the two headphones are almost perfect opposites. Whereas the 1266 is u-shaped, with recessed mids and exaggerated bass and treble, the RD-4 mk II is mid-centric with an even frequency response.

    The 1266
    • is faster
    • sounds more open and has more width to the headstage
    • slams harder
    • has stronger macrodynamic contrast
    • has faster/tighter bass
    • has better delineated and airier, more open bass
    • has a leaner bass sound
    • has more sub-bass emphasis
    • has more treble zing
    • is more fatiguing
    • is less realistic, e.g. its timbral presentation is a class below the RD-4’s

    The RD-4 mk II
    • has similar depth and height to the staging and sounds more three-dimensional
    • has a better balance of sub-bass and mid-bass
    • has more mid-bass punch
    • has richer textures in its bass and presents acoustic bass instruments more convincingly
    • has a smoother, more even treble with as much sparkle and less of the 1266’s zing and fatigue
    • is more immersive and engaging, and less fatiguing
    • has much better timbral fidelity
    • has richer, more satisfying textures
    • has glorious mids and presents vocals far, far better
    • is much more resolving
      • the 1266 isn’t all that resolving; its treble emphasis and clarity can trick you into thinking it’s more resolving, when it’s not (the 1266’s recessed mids are what ultimately compromises is resolving qualities)


    RD-4 mk II vs Raal Requisite SR1a
    Both using the Holo Bliss, the SR1a with the TI-1a transformer box (which makes for an excellent combination, btw)

    These headphones make for an even more striking contrast and are harder to compare because they have such different characteristics. I’ll be very brief, then. What they have in common is their exceptional resolution. I can’t tell which is the more resolving.

    The SR1a
    • is faster and more visceral
    • the SR1a can make it sound as though everything’s coming at you all at once (although it’s not as relentless with the Bliss + TI-1a than with the Jot R)
    • has faster, more incisive transient attacks
    • has more depth and width to its staging
    • has a much more spacious, almost speaker-like presentation to headstage (it’s not even really a headstage, more a near-field speaker experience)
    • has more macrodynamic strength
    • has a dramatically different bass presentation, with its significant sub-bass roll-off
    • has slightly less mid-bass punch
    • has faster, more open and tighter mid-bass
    • has leaner, better defined mid-bass
    • has a drier sound
    • has a more clinical, studio reference take on a neutral tuning, which falls on the brighter side of neutral
    • has more treble emphasis and, perhaps, extension (I could be confusing the emphasis for extension)

    The RD-4 mk II
    • is more mellifluous and gentle
    • has better decay
    • has more intimate staging
    • has lots of sub-bass emphasis and depth
    • has more slam
    • has a slower but richer, thicker, denser bass
    • has a wetter, more liquid sound
    • has more body and weight to its presentation – a denser, more saturated and richer sound
    • has a warmer take on neutral
    • has a softer, more easy going treble with almost as much sparkle
    • I’m not sure, but it may have better microdynamics

    I should end with some caveats and disclaimers as it’s hard to compare these headphones. The SR1a is one of the most convincing headphones I’ve heard for timbral fidelity, especially with the piano. The RD-4 mk II comes very close but has a different take: it has more richness to its sound, especially when it comes to textures and conveying a sense of grittiness and tactility (and perhaps what gets called “plankton”). On the other hand, weirdly, the RD-4 sounds smoother, although this is less to do with texture and more to do with frequency response. The SR1a is brighter and more aggressive. Again, though, the differences here are small and it’s hard to separate out individual qualities given the strikingly different overall presentations. I plan on having both in my collection (not least because my living space isn’t suitable for speakers).
     
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  13. Tchoupitoulas

    Tchoupitoulas Friend

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    The RD-4z
    The great news is that the RD-4z are also outstandingly good headphones. They’re slightly different to the RD-4s, better in some ways, worse in others. But, all things considered, they’re on a par with the mk I and mk II and are mainly just a slightly different flavor. I’d recommend them to those who prefer a lighter, faster, snappier sound. And unlike the increasingly rare LCD-4s, the LCD-4z is still being made and can now be had, used, for less than two grand.

    [​IMG]

    The essential differences between the RD-4 mk II and the RD-4z are that the mk II is a bit richer, weightier, and thicker, its bass is fuller and heftier, and its treble a little less ethereal than the RD-4z. On the other hand, the 4z is lighter, snappier, faster, with cleaner transients and better, more precisely and clearly delineated individual leading edge of notes, and a slightly more open and airier sound.

    The RD-4z also seems to have more impact and percussiveness; I’m not sure if this is strictly true or if it’s an effect of the snappier transients coupled with the lighter sound making for a stronger contrast when you do get hard-hitting drum strikes. Either way, the mk II has more authoritative bass, but the 4z is snappier and more percussive. The faster transients also make for better textures to sounds, at times. I’m hearing more crackle, growl, grit as well as bite and crunch with electric guitars, and I think this grittier texture comes from the sharper leading edges, too. If you prefer a mellower, softer presentation, the RD-4 mk I, and to a lesser extent, the mk II, are for you; if you prefer more attack and excitement and impact, the 4z could be the better option.

    The RD-4z is more open and airier but ever so slightly less resolving.

    The RD-4z’s bass is more forward and prominent than the mk II’s. The mk II’s bass is more robust and authoritative, with greater depth and rumble. The 4z’s bass is slightly darker, airier, and bloomier.

    I slightly prefer the mk II for timbral fidelity. Vocals are lusher and more liquid from the mk II and lighter, perhaps slightly crisper from the 4z. Brass instruments are both better defined with the mk II, probably thanks to its superior resolution, and weightier, with more crackle and blart; the 4z conveys them in a lighter, thinner way but with a good bite and blare. With the 4z, massed strings sound lighter and sweeter, with more bite as well as sparkle. The mk II, by contrast, presents strings in a smoother, slightly warmer and mellower way, with superb layering and textures, lots of reverberations, and a very tactile sound. From the 4z, the cello has more of a woody, reedy sound, and is less sharp.

    [​IMG]

    Listening to Schubert’s Piano Sonata #21, the RD-4z offers a sweet, open, and echoey sound (meaning you can hear the internal fading vibrations of the stings well within the body of the piano), with very good decay, although the sound’s a bit hazy and not the most pristine. Some of the notes seem a bit clipped. The RD-4 mk II’s presentation is warmer, richer, with more of an almost-chiming quality to the sound; the piano‘s set further back in the stage and isn’t quite as echoey; it’s more resolving but with less air and openness. The mk II doesn’t sound as clipped in fast, staccato notes, and the lower registers are ever so slightly more authoritative.

    I love Cannonball Adderley’s great jazz record, Somethin’ Else:
    • The mk II’s double bass is lovely and deep but could sound a bit woodier; the 4z comes very close to the mk II’s sound
    • brushstrokes on cymbals are very good but not quite perfect, there’s an ever so slight hint of smearing (this is an issue on 99% of headphones I’ve listened to in my system); the brushstrokes are better with the 4z, not as smeared, perhaps thanks to the sharper leading edges of notes
    • The trumpet’s lovely on the mk II, with beautiful tone and some sweetness; the 4z makes the trumpet more piercing and a tad more emphasized in the treble, with a touch more bite and without quite the sweetness of the mk II
    • The alto sax is also very good on the mk II, quite warm and parpy, a bit sharp, not quite as reedy as I’d like, more brass-like; the alto sax is also better on the 4z, reedier and not as sharp

    Finally, the 4z has better separation as well as more air and space around and between instruments.
     
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