Wireless is a thing now. Who knew? LDAC, Sony MUC-M2BT, and Campfire Andromeda IEM

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by zerodeefex, Jun 29, 2017.

  1. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    9,119
    Dislikes Received:
    40
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I hinted a bit in the Andromeda thread that I had found a workable wireless solution so I figured I'd start a new thread.

    For a while, @CEE TEE, @Marvey and I have been going back and forth about random wireless headphones. I've tried many, many solutions from the days before even apt-x was out in the wild. I've tried everything from headphones like the air-fi matrix af62, jaybirds, ATH-WS99BT, Sennheiser M2AEBT and Philips M2BT the to dongles like the noble bts, audio technica AT-PHA50BT and the iriver XB10. They've all sucked.

    Fast forward to a few months ago when, working with Sony, I noticed they contributed LDAC to AOSP for Android O:

    https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/21/15004562/sony-google-android-o-ldac-wireless-music

    Holy crap. A reasonably high bitrate codec over bluetooth? Potential near ubiquity with the next Android release? No forced licensing from Qualcomm or others? SIGN ME UP!

    And so I went down the path of LDAC headphones. It turns out there's pretty much no choice currently. The "best" that some members her recommend (MDR-1000X) is just okay, but nothing that convinced me to stop carrying even something like the noble X around.

    A few weeks back, during another bout of obsessive searching for an LDAC dongle, I ran across this. The "XBA Series Bluetooth Upgrade" or MUC-M2BT1 (I know, such simple naming...) is an MMCX terminated LDAC adapter for Sony headphones. Wellllll, I have some MMCX terminated headphones I love, my Campfire Andromedas.

    So I ordered the dongle from Amazon Japan, it arrived in 3 days and I immediately was excited about the sound:

    [​IMG]

    It sounded pretty good! Is it as good as balanced out of the ZX2? No. Is it better than the HP out of my phones? Yes!!! And, as a bonus, quiet as all hell. That's right, those of you sensitive to hiss will be satisfied.

    Now, why did it take me a few weeks to post this? Well, without a cable guide, it's an extremely awkward combo. Also, the Andromedas bang around in the supplied pouch. Luckily, I'm crazy and bought a bunch of ear hooks and storage solutions to try out. Here are some failed hooks for your enjoyment:

    [​IMG]

    So where did I land? The most comfortable and (more importantly) the only damn ear hooks to stay on are the V-Moda Sport Earhooks

    [​IMG]

    As for the case, these things are super awkward and it's really challenging to find a ~8"x7"x1.5" hard case. HOWEVER, @shotgunshane thankfully reminded me of the leather pouch that came with his Ibasso IT03. I didn't have one on hand but I found an old monster turbine case in my collection ($10 on ebay) and now my Andromedas are protected (I can put the whole thing in the pouch now):

    [​IMG]

    Here I am, a convert. I am using music on my ZX2, my Sony Xperia X compact and streaming services on my Pixel XL running the developer preview of Android O and I am a happy camper.

    Now for the caveats:
    • You're not using this on long overseas flights. I'm getting around 6-7 hours of battery life and it takes about 2 to charge it back up
    • You still look like you're rocking neckbuds. I've been wearing darker shirts to look less doofy:
      [​IMG]
    • It's not lossless. Sounds good to me, though. Redbook is not noticeably compressed.
     
    ultrabike, Lyer25, BillOhio and 43 others like this.
  2. FallingObjects

    FallingObjects Pay It Forward

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,907
    Dislikes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Dang! What's the battery life on the dongle like?
     
  3. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    9,119
    Dislikes Received:
    40
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Just added a little bit on this. 6-7 hours for me. 2-3 hours to charge it back up. Enough for my uses on a regular day.
     
  4. FallingObjects

    FallingObjects Pay It Forward

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,907
    Dislikes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Yeah, that sounds pretty decent. May have to see if I can find one of those for myself...
     
  5. phillip

    phillip Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    44
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    LOCAL AREA NETWORK
    Yeah. I'm pretty stoked with wireless. Never knew it'd made a big difference when walking and taking the public transport. Only problem is the thinner wired ones don't pack much power or battery life, and I don't feel comfortable with something big hanging on my neck. Btw, the LEAR audio released a balanced bluetooth iem cable, sadly the battery life is only 3 hours.
     
  6. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,670
    Dislikes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    small island claimed by China
    Is that because the M2BT1 isn't quite long enough to go over the ears and the weight of the necklace pulls at the Andros? If someone had a really short neck (or low ears), maybe there would be enough slack so as not to necessitate the ear hooks.
     
  7. rawrster

    rawrster Rando

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2017
    Likes Received:
    18
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    New York City
    I definitely agree that things are moving toward wireless. I had the Westone bluetooth adapter a while back however I paired it with the MEE Audio P1. It sounded really good and not too much change from a wired P1. I didn't have the Andromeda back then sadly. It worked well until I was outside in a crowded area and sound started to cut in and out. I'm guessing this is a common issue in larger cities as I've read similar for other adapters and that it would work really well in areas with less people.

    I would really like one of those bluetooth adapters that had the form factor of the Westone one as that was perfect. The ones similar to this one adds too much bulk for me. Also I own the Sony SBH80 and the neck thing would raise up where the wires begin which would make it really annoying for me since it isn't laying flat on my neck.
     
  8. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,670
    Dislikes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    small island claimed by China
    For those who missed it, the discussion about LDAC in the Andro thread starts more or less here.
     
  9. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    9,119
    Dislikes Received:
    40
    Trophy Points:
    113
    The Lear cable supports no good high bandwidth codecs. Additionally, how do they define balanced? Does the little adapter have a fully differential analog section in there? Ignore the marketing. Balanced, SE, it doesn't matter. What matters is the sound.

    Also, the neck thing doesn't feel heavy or awkward. Its super comfortable and way less awkward than the standalone units you plug your wired headphones into.

    1. The Westone sounds like shit. I own it.
    2. The little dongles are awkward. All the convenience of a small dap?!? Wtf.
    3. This thing has bonkers good signal. I've used it at work with thousands of devices on and transmitting wirelessly in some capacity in a VERY dense area including test labs. The amount of wireless congestion is bonkers and I've had ZERO issues.
     
  10. phillip

    phillip Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    44
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    LOCAL AREA NETWORK
    I'm not too bothered by the balanced implementation or lack thereof. Maybe it's cool, but my priority concern is the short battery life. It's very disastrous for me to charge it so frequently. The neck part is due to my discomfort for anything on my neck. I used to wear a necklace with religious amulet, but find it very uncomfortable to have something on my neck. That's all.

    True that, I think having lesser (or shorter) wire helps. This is where bluetooth cables come handy.
     
  11. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,670
    Dislikes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    small island claimed by China
    Looking more closely at above photos and some others I found of them being worn over-ear, I guess the length is OK but perhaps they flop around too much without a hook. Maybe using heatshrink earhooks is an option? Anyone know what kind of heatshrink is used for that?

    [​IMG]
     
  12. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    9,119
    Dislikes Received:
    40
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Those are CIEMs (mentioned in the Massdrop X MEE thread). My Andromedas require an earhook in my experience. Also, he is just trying out the cable in the store with his CIEMs if you read the article.

    I would avoid working with heatshrink unless you're building the cable yourself. I usually use jewelry wire + heatshrink tubing but it's a pain in the ass with this stuff since the ends are already terminated and it's big requiring flexible-ish 3:1 heatshrink tubing which is annoying to find. You could futz it and use really good silicone self fusing tape.
     
    gixxerwimp likes this.
  13. philipmorgan

    philipmorgan Member of the month

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,549
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    In the wind, so to speak
    Home Page:
    Initial impressions: this Sony neck horseshoe rocks. Sounds at least as good as my iPhone 6+ with the Andros, probably a bit better in terms of staging and "analogness". I got mine from a seller on eBay. With the expedited shipping from Japan, it got here in 4 or 5 days.
     
    Aleatorius, Garns, Merrick and 3 others like this.
  14. Mshenay

    Mshenay Barred from loaner program. DON'T SEND ME GEAR.

    Contributor Executed
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    298
    Dislikes Received:
    60
    Trophy Points:
    63
    This though is really exciting, here's to hoping we start to see MUC-M2BT1 heading state side, it sounds as though the quality is stepping up and the native support in Google's Android O will be a huge help, here's to hoping the larger manufacturers and carriers pick this up... or at the least Sony can break back into the Carrier Brand market place. I'd love to be able to have Sony's cellular products available to sell again. Especially as wireless is gaining popularity and getting closer to hard wired solutions in terms of fidelity
     
  15. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,670
    Dislikes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    small island claimed by China
    What source are you using? I just picked up an NW-A35 but still need to order the necklace from Japan (amazon.co.jp went into backorder immediately after the OP went up :mad:)
     
  16. philipmorgan

    philipmorgan Member of the month

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,549
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    In the wind, so to speak
    Home Page:
    iPhone 6+ > bluetooth to the MUC-M2BT1. At some point I'll probably get a tablet I can upgrade to Android O to get the benefits of Sony's fancy codec, but even plain ole Bluetooth to the MUC sounds better in some ways than Andros hardwired to iPhone 6+. Not "ZX2 better", but better.

    I wanted to add that the volume control granularity on the MUC seems better than the iPhone 6+, meaning that the jumps as you increase or decrease volume with the hardware control on the MUC is a little better matched to the Andro's sensitivity. It's not perfect, but better.

    FWIW, here's the outfit I bought from on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/282482403461
     
    elguapo likes this.
  17. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,670
    Dislikes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    small island claimed by China
  18. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,670
    Dislikes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    small island claimed by China
    I just got mine and first tried them with Noble X (via these adapters) out of an A35 and they were pretty "loud" without much volume granularity, giving me concern about how they would work with Andro. Plugged those in and it was as I suspected. VERY loud, only the bottom 2 or 3 "clicks" usable with modern pop tracks (e.g. Get Lucky on "2" is moderately loud, on "3" is louder than I'd normally listen). The beeps and voice info (on/off/connected) are really loud too.

    Tried it out of my Android phone and the BT media volume acts as software volume control, providing increased granularity on the MUC. Unfortunately, the EQ is disabled for BT connections on the A35, otherwise I could use a custom setting with all bands shelved down. Hmm, this is a bit disappointing.

    It sounds really good out of the A35, a bit warmer than iEMatch @High. Standard BT out of my phone is so-so.
     
    ibzrg1570 and deafdoorknob like this.
  19. philipmorgan

    philipmorgan Member of the month

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,549
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    In the wind, so to speak
    Home Page:
    Oh interesting. Maybe the controller device's volume granularity "passes through" to the MUC then?
     
  20. DigMe

    DigMe Needs a baby bottle

    Friend
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,465
    Dislikes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Aja
    This is pretty interesting. Too bad about the battery life. It's pretty pricey too and the little non-replaceable wires give me pause. The sound quality reports give me a lot of hope for future products for sure.
     

Share This Page