Discussion in 'The Meeting Place' started by Bill-P, Feb 5, 2018.
Let's discuss things. But first, random photos at the meet (in no particular order):
So... unadultered impressions in no specific order:
Mr. Speakers' Voce electrostatic headphone running from Blue Hawaii SE fed by Chord Qute: these are very comfortable to wear. Kudos to Dan for pulling the comfort off. Also I personally really like the whole Spiderman-themed look. If only it came in matte black. Now, sound-wise, I'll be perfectly fair: I think its tonality is a good match for my taste: smooth treble, slightly dark, and mid-centric. The bad thing was that I didn't think technicality was up to par with most electrostatic headphones that I heard, or otherwise these could be considered "different" by some, but I'll be blunt (sorry, Dan!): I don't think these are up to par with most other e-stat headphones, considering the amp. Maybe some of this could be attributed to the DAC, and I should have checked the system out on the 009, which was present as well (see photos above), but... honestly, again, technicality was not up to par. Bass was a bit too weak to my ears, and really loose-sounding. Extension to the nether region was kinda lacking. Some folks told me they thought the Voce had better bass than all e-stats they'd heard, but honestly, I'd disagree. They didn't sound particularly as impactful/weighty as SR-007/009. I briefly tried Dan's recommendation for one of the front filters to see if it could improve the bass, but all it did was made the sound even darker, and even more shouty. Past the bass, the darkness seemed to help with particularly troublesome recordings (I tried Massive Attack's Teardrop, for those who are wondering, which has very sibilant vocal on the wrong headphone), but I think it was a bit too dark, and not very much like the relaxed sound of the SR-007, either. Air was lacking, and consequently, soundstage collapsed to my ears. Things sounded much too closed-in, and if layering was better, I think I could have forgiven the closed-in soundstage, but I think the DAC was responsible for a part of this. So it was an easy listen, but I think some of the usual dynamic setups (HD650 + Jot or Clear + Jot) would handily beat this at a fraction of the price. So in short, I don't think these are worth the asking price, or else I need to try them on a better DAC, maybe, but I don't think I have ever heard the Voce as having good technicality throughout the many times I have tried them. Dan reassured me they measured well, and that the tuning was final, which I would believe, so... this is how it is. I like the tonality, but I don't think they're at the same level as most top of the line systems yet. I'd rather take an HD650 (even stock) on Jot over this.
Note again to be sure: I tried them out of the "brightest" configuration (no filter), and Dan also confirmed that I was listening to the brightest way possible. I briefly tried them with a filter (mid-way?) and didn't like it.
For full disclosure: Dan told me these measured flat-ish (straight-line), and given the tonality + my tastes, I'd say I believe his statement there. This headphone probably would measure very well. However, as Jason Lord said, and I'd agree: measurements only show a fraction of what something would sound like.
Sennheiser HD660S: major disappointment. I tried these on my own Mimby + Jot system, and they simply sounded very shouty + closed-in to me. Sorta like a very messed up HD650 with weak-sauce bass. Had a HD6XX and HD600 on hand as well, and neither of them sounded like that. Someone commented on my modded HD580 as sounding too smooth and bright compared to this, and the reverse is how I'd describe the 660S: it's shouty and grating to listen to. I didn't think the 660S sounded "faster" than HD600/650. In fact, I'd say HD650 still sounds faster in the bass, and HD600 still sounds faster at treble. Maybe these don't fit my tastes, but I honestly don't see them doing anything "better" than HD600/650 at all.
Focal Clear: I like these. They are like a much smoother Utopia. The smoothness sounds like it's masking some details, but they retain just the right level of technicality so as to not sound like mud at all. I'd agree with Marv: these are the closest to an upgraded HD650. Weird that Focal got it right and Sennheiser didn't. I think it would be interesting if someone would try to put dynamat or something to tighten up the sound. I feel like the smoothness causes bass to become a bit bloomy on these (even when they're playing out of Jot), but man, it's been a long time (since the HD650) since I've heard a headphone this good. Props to Focal for pulling this off. It's my #2 choice if I was considering a new full-size headphone.
Focal Elear + Clear pads: wow, these are good. Does sound like an improved HD600 now, but a bit more spaced out. It's kinda amazing how much a pad swap affected things. Unfortunately, I think Utopia is still on a slightly higher level, but dang, this is quite the surprise.
Audeze LCD-2C (good sample): well, color me surprised. It's an LCD-2 that doesn't sound veiled, although it still has the same "intimate" soundstage and signature "darkness." This thing is easily more airy than the Voce when it's driven by Jot. I think the whole issue with sample variation and the price "change" is too unfortunate. Also weight is a deal breaker to me. But it was a pleasant surprise for sure. Now let's see if this thing stays this way after a few years.
HiFiMAN Sundara: another surprise. Good tonality. Typical HiFiMAN treble peak BS but much less annoying than something like HE-1000 or Susvara. In fact, I think this headphone is better than HE-1000 to me. I think we need to investigate this thing.
Milos' electrostatic headphone: make another one of these and just name a price, dear @n3rdling . I'd be happy if these were the only full-size headphone that I own. Easily bests everything else to me.
Looks like a great meet to be able to try some unique stuff. I had family over so I couldn't make it.
Thanks @Bill-P for making this thread and for the amazing pictures with your fancy pants camera. Thanks to @netforce, Jason, and the TSAV staff for being such gracious hosts. It was so nice meeting fellow SBAF people!
I didn't get to listen to some of the things I wanted to hear and the time I did spend on gear wasn't really enough, but here are some brief impressions:
ZMF Auteur - I like the smaller cup size and how much lighter they are than the Eikon/Atticus. They're very smooth, but a lot warmer than I expected, even warmer than I remember the Eikons sounding. Coming from the fast and incisive Focals, they sound slow due to the slower decay from the cup reverb. Overall they're not for me, but I can see the appeal.
Mr. Speakers Aeon Closed - I liked these quite a bit. I've been thinking about buying a pair since I need a pair of closed backs I can use at home and away. They're just so well built and sound really good. They had a bit of warmth to them that I really liked, but I did hear some peakiness in the treble that I'm hoping can be fixed with the foam inserts. These were the biggest surprise for me, but I’m going to have to spend more time with them before buying.
Milos DIY Electrostat - What an impressive thing @n3rdling has built. They're super clean, fast, and resolving, but the treble was a little etched. I think the Eric Clapton Unplugged recording contributed to that. The etch went away significantly when I changed CD's. These headphones are very honest and unforgiving.
Edit** I forgot to mention that this headphone has the best headstage I’ve heard from a headphone. It’s just so spacious and deep. Quite special
HifiMan Sundara - I was pleasantly surprised by these. They sounded a lot more dynamic and engaging compared to other recent HifiMan headphones I've heard. Their tuning seemed balanced, but there was some weirdness in the treble that was pretty noticeable. They look nice too, except for the back grill, which looks as if they found some off the shelf material from Home Depot and decided to use it. The curved headband is very nice as I was never a fan of the older spring steel headband look.
Mr. Speakers Voce Electrostat - They sounded warm, which I did not expect from an electrostat. I don't have a lot of experience with electrostats so I can't really comment too much, but they definitely were missing detail compared to n3rdling's DIY and the SR009 that was sitting on the table. They were very light and comfortable and I also like the Spiderman thing going on with the back grill.
Focal Elear with Clear pads - I'd heard this combination before, but this time we compared them with the Utopia and it's kind of amazing how similar their tonalities are. They sound like a slightly slower and veiled Utopia. I think I still prefer my Clears because of their super smooth treble, but I like these quite a bit. They make the Clears sound a bit too warm and bloomy At times.
This guy looks atypical of the type of nerd you see at these gatherings.
Only... far more handsome!
How is he atypical? I feel like I missed something vital there. Looks like a totally standard issue headphone meet dude, even if devilishly handsome.
Slowly people are confirming the things I was hoping not to hear about these. The last unknown is driver reliability, hopefully they've nailed that at least.
Pre-fazor LCD 2 was always a guilty craving for me, despite the whacky sig, but it sounds like Audeze haven't reformed as much as I was hoping. At least by the time they finally go on sale here, we'll know most of the downsides, so it won't be as much of a temptation.
@PTS play your cards right and you can be plastered on billboards all over China
Sort of like this guy
I don't know... I see that guy and think "closet furbie sex addict".
Hey guys, thanks for coming to the event. We were without a doubt blown away with the turnout. Thanks to everyone who helped organize the event, to everyone who brought their own gear to share, and to everyone who just stopped by.
We had so many more people than we were expecting that we had to order pizza twice!
Thanks Jason, Allan and all the SBAF folks for making the meet super enjoyable and welcoming.
Hifiman Sundra - $500 headphones that sounds better than the HE1000 V2 and the Hex v2. The laid-back haziness is gone for the most part. The build quality isn't the greatest but has more metal parts than the Hex v2. Similar to the LCD 2C in price/performance category.
Audeze LCD 2C - Classic is the right moniker. Buy it when it's on sale again for $599. Not as dark using a balanced cable (from Jot/iCan Pro).
RME ADI-2 Pro - @PTS 's anniversary edition blew me away. Best AK4490 implementation I've heard. Smaller soundstage than multibit. Hauntingly black background. Neutralish tonality with a hint of warmth in the mids which is my personal preference.
Sennheiser 600 w/ Dekoni Fenestrated Sheepskin Pads - @brencho & @Bill-P are right, just add pads and be done. Balances out the leaner signature and adds some much needed bass that doesn't bleed into the mids.
Chord Hugo 2 - Ok... Hugo 2 isn't as bad as most people say here (me included). It's a little funky in the highs, but overall very good. The Hugo 2 has very addictive micro detail retrieval that isn't present in the mojo or most of the schiit dacs. Only good setting is the Incisive Neutral (white color button), the rest were crap or meh. Will probably pick one up for travels and gaming.
Thanks for the invite, I had a good time. Nice to see so many new faces, I was surprised by that. Bill I like your new hair.
I was tucked away in my cave most of the meet, but when I had time to visit the outside world I checked out the Mrspeakers Voce electrostat. I wanted to see how much different it is from the version I heard months ago mainly. Tonality was on the warm side. I didn't get a chance to check out the bass extension, but I felt like there was stuff missing up top. My main issue with these is that they sound veiled, which is a big deal for my preferences. As I've said before, they remind me of the Kingsounds. Soundstage was about average, imaging was quite nice. All of this was with a foam filter in place, which Dan said gives it more of a planar magnetic type of sound. I then listened to it bare, and it remained veiled but also got peaky/shouty. Soundstage widened a bit in this configuration.
My lasting impression was asking myself why somebody would buy these instead of an audeze with similar sound without the need for a special amp. They have more impact than many stats/less than many PMs, but lack the detail and clarity that draws people towards stats in the first place. In talking to Dan it seemed like he wanted it to sound this way as he's a fan of planar magnetic sound and isn't picky about detail.
Comfort was excellent and most of the build quality was good too. There were some issues with the drivers losing some control at higher volumes.
A few new guys who attended said they wanted to contact me, feel free to shoot me a PM here.
Thanks for organizing this, see you guys next time!
If he’s a fan of planars and doesn’t care as much about detail...why bother making an e-stat? Just to say he has one that doesn’t sound like a traditional e-stat, but at the same time loses all the qualities that e-stats are strong in?
You used the filters right. They aren't really meant to be equally valid options. White is 256fs sample frequency (whatever that means) aka incisive neutral. Green is the same, but with a slight high frequency roll off (~1dB @ 20kHz, then probably more in the inaudible frequencies) meant mostly for high sample rate audio and DSD as they apparently benefit from it somehow. Orange and red are 16fs sample frequency ones labeled warm and red is the same with the high frequency roll off added. The 256fs ones are the same basic type/tonality as in the DAVE while the 16fs ones are used in the Mojo.
They are there mostly just because of high sample rate audio and DSD, letting people hear for themselves how improving filter accuracy results in positive audible changes and giving users the option to make it intentionally sound more smeared/fuzzier for horribly mastered records and/or headphones with tonality issues. Pretty sure I saw Rob Watts mention on Head-Fi once that if you end up using mainly the 16fs filters you should consider investing in different headphones.
Milos DIY Electrostat - @n3rdling wins at headphones. His DIYed electrostats are super clean, super fast (and furious), and super resolving. Listening to Clapton Unplugged reveals so much information in such a crisp and clear way. They sound so open and clear you can almost forget you're using headphones, relatively speaking. I always look forward to hearing these. I know several people that will be lining up outside of your house to pay you for these whenever you get to that point. Awesome stuff man, and great to see you again.
Focal Elear w Clear pads: I've been playing with this combo on and off for a couple weeks and am really impressed. I like these enough that I'm going to use them for the foreseeable future, and as such have dubbed them the Focal Eclair. Just because "Elear with Clear pads" is a bit of a mouthful. And because Focals, like Eclairs, are french. If Focal were Italian, then we could call them the Focal Profiterole but they're not, so let's not. These sound like mini-Utopias, tonally. They're not quite as warm and smoothed as the Clears. This could be good, or bad depending on your preferences... For my preferences and downstream gear (Zana Deux and EAR dac), it's definitely a good thing. For reference I prefer using hd600 over hd650. It doesn't quite get to Utopia-level technicalities but it seems to have more of that initial attack and detail that the Clear kind of smooths over. Want to get these measured with Marv and compare to the rest of the Focal measurements (Elex, Clear, Utopia, Elear etc). Against all odds these are my favorite aside from going full-crazy and shelling out for a Utopia or somehow building a electrostat rig around Milos' phones.
Focal Clear: Very nice sounding headphones. They have the dynamics and punchiness that is typical of the other Focals and is addictive. They have some warmth and are a bit smoothed over like a HD650 but win on speed, air, impact, bass quality and quantity. They lack the tecnhicalities of the Utopia and sound more smoothed over vs. both the Utopia and Eclair (see above) but still sound very clean and fast.
Audeze LCD2C: These are fun sounding headphones done right. They definitely don't sound neutral to me, they have the audeze signature warmth and darkness. But, they're also fast and resolving. It can sound a bit closed in on smaller amps and opens up a bit more using a balanced cable on amps like the Rag and Aficionado. The suspension strap works super well and even though they're on the heavy side, they remain comfortable to me. Curious to hear these with Vegan pads. Listened briefly yet again to the LCD4 and I'm just not a fan. For that crazy a price, they're too tonally screwy and way heavier than the LCD2C. So for that kind of approach and sound, I'd go cheap and get the LCD2C for something unambiguously colorful and fun.
HD600 w Dekoni Fenestrated Sheepskin Pads - These with no front foam over the driver. Adds a bit of bass to the hd600, balances out the upper mid bump a bit, and sounds pretty good. Not sure these pads are all that necessary with my Zana Deux but they're also way more comfortable than the stock pads because my ears don't brush up against the foam like with stock pads. They also seem to have more structural integrity and will hold up better to use. However, on the hd650 they will be too much, these pads will prob make the bass issue of the hd650 worse and make them even darker sounding.
ZMF Auteur - First thought that came to mind was too much warmth. I put them on and was surprised at how dark and bloomy they sounded, especially with some folks throwing around terms like reference and neutral in relation to the Auteur. They also struck me as being quite bassy and impactful, which I can see being be fun at times. They also have the same echo chamber / reverb effect of the Atticus and Eikon. Some may enjoy this more than others. To me it adds coloration, decay and reverb. In general, I think the descriptor "a more open sounding closed back" is more apt than "open back" due to feeling kinda damped and, well, reverby from the cups.
Mr. Speakers Aeon Flow Open and Closed - These sounded pretty inoffensive and not too bad. Both are on the warm side of things, with the Open being more warm than the Closed. Both make up for the downward tilt by introducing some boost somewhere in the treble, but I'd like to listen to them again to form a clearer impression. Overall, my sense is they are pretty inoffensive, not super resolving, and kinda struggle with complex or dynamic passages, and I can imagine that the bass may also fall apart when pushed hard. Still, they're super comfortable and portable and I'm sure they have a niche. Need to listen more before having a clearer impression of them. Best MrS cans to date.
Mr. Speakers Voce Electrostat - These are super weird electrostats in that they're... warm, dark, loose, ranging from soft to limpdick, and not very resolving. Feels like an electrostat driver that sacrifices all of its inherent strengths in search of warm soft velvety sound. Like George Costanza in full velour.
**PS, aside from the electrostats, all of the headphones were using an EC Aficionado (with Duelund caps at the time of the meet), an EAR Dac, and @PTS's RME 2Pro2Quit Dac.
For those that listened to the AFO or AFC, do you know if any of the tuning/dampening filters were in place? This makes a big difference in impressions.
Profiteroles are french too
God dammit all the good stuff is french huh. Was hoping the italians would get a punch in.
Cannolis are Italian, and they are delightful.
Leave the gun, take the Focal Cannoli
Just found out the Auteur we had was using the Eikon pads which made the Auteurs come a out quite a bit darker. Getting in a brand new pair sometime soon with the correct pads, should sound a bit more pleasing.
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