High End Audiophile Thread Part 2

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by vbetts, Sep 24, 2018.

  1. sverek

    sverek Ancient Guru

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    Thanks!

    I am using Topping D30 + A30 for now. It's transparent and doesn't add much color to the sound. Don't think I am going to upgrade AMP any soon, maybe change some op-amps on A30 as past time.

    I do realize AMP can make sound a bit different, especially comparing sound from iPhone and dedicated DAC/AMP. However, I am not trying to make HD600 sound as perfect as possible. I already have DT1990 for that.

    And to be honest, I do enjoy how HD600 sounds straight from my iphone.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
  2. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

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    I decided to dig out my Sony MDR-SA5000 headphones, and put the effort into tuning the system to get the best audio out of them. So I went online and dug up a Frequency Response chart, and tweaked my EQ in Foobar2000 to get a linear response from these cans. Took awhile, and had to deal with a 7K Hz that was causing some sibilance with female vocals. After hours of listening and tweaking, I am quite happy with the results. :) (The Auto-Zero function is great for bringing the tweaked curve down to 0dB, then apply the bass adjustments)

    My biggest issue with the cans was that they tend to isolate left/right a little too much, and can create a sound field that doesn't come across as natural. (A common issue with headphones) My HD580's had this issue in spades, causing the audio to seem to manifest in the center of one's head. This was fixed with the Cardas Cable replacement, which has the upgraded head on it. My 5000's has the stock cabling, so I needed to make these cans sound more natural.

    My Headroom Supreme amp has a Crossfade function, which seemed to help, but it sacrifices fidelity, plus it's hardwired with only one setting. So I downloaded, from the FB2K repository, a Meier Crossfade DSP for the player. This did the trick, just using defaults. After all this, I can say that these cans are literally blowing away my HD580's in sheer detail, speed, and instrument/vocal separation, and not to mention dynamic range. My favorite test track was Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" and distinctly making out Mic Jagger singing backup vocals. :D
     
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  3. OnnA

    OnnA Ancient Guru

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  4. GenClaymore

    GenClaymore Ancient Guru

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    Got ahold of the SMSL SH-8 Headphone amp, as it came in the mail today, I gave it a quick listen before I jumped into a game. So far I like it, since its the same size as the SU-8, I was able to fit it under my room taking monitor. The photo is going to be bright, since I had the window open when I took the photo. I doubt I will get another pair of balanced cables for my R70X as the only reasonable price ones come from china, Not looking forward to a duty charge.

    I def don't wanna be ripped off again from the R70X balanced cables that I bought from a usa maker, which I still regret paying $120 for, due to the poor quality of that cable, even if he sent a replacement free. Even that replacement became faulty. If only Audio Technica didn't use that stupid locking nonsense on the R70X, which would had made it easier to use any dual 3.5mm balanced cable.

    So evidently I going to move to some Hifiman Sundara's in the future, since the balance cable pricing for those is more reasonable.

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    It would be nice to hear your opinon on how the 2 amps differ.

    I had problems buying a balanced cable too.
    The cable I want is over £500 from Meze direct, although they dont appear to sell the balanced version any more from their website.
    The nearest they sell now is this https://mezeaudio.com/collections/a...an-balanced-silver-plated-pcuhd-upgrade-cable

    To try and get a better deal I phoned a store in the UK called Custom Cans to see what they can do.
    They were looking for people with good equipment to test new cables they are building and would give a discount if I wanted to buy one.
    I agreed, it sounded like a great chance to play with decent cables and hopefully get a great value cable.
    They claimed their cable would better the Meze cable!
    They took a week to reply to me after I agreed to go ahead and apologised for the late response, saying my new cable will be ready in a week.

    6 weeks later they emailed my cable was ready and sent a picture. No contact at all before then.
    Sadly the cable was coated in white cotton, this would have looked like a wreck in very short time, terrible design.
    I had lost my ability to trust them.
    Taking 6 times longer to make the cable than promised, after apologising for being late earlier, I didnt fancy trying to get any assistance from them if there was a problem.
    Their attention to detail sorely lacked when treating a prospective customer this badly. How bad will they treat me once they have my money?
    And I didnt want a cable coated in white cotton. This wasnt something I had chosen.

    What put the nail in it for them was the new cable I had already bought 2 weeks earlier from Meze because I was sick of waiting and wow what a cable it is.
    Such clarity I had to remove my silver interconnects between the DAC and headphone amp, and go back to OFCopper to get the treble balance back.
    It gives tons more micro detail and air.
    The cable is incredibly flexible and looks lovely, the silver shines through the transparent coating.
    Perfect.

    Sometimes you gotta pay the money if you want the quality, dont want to get stiffed, get a product on time, and have an easier life.
    I wont be replacing this cable!
     
  6. GenClaymore

    GenClaymore Ancient Guru

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    Unfortunately I no longer have the jotunheim, Sold it a couple of months ago. The SH-8 is the only headphone amp I have. interesting enough, it allows me to use XLR in with 6.3m out, which the jotunheim also allowed.

    Yea sadly for me I don't have much choice for balanced cables for the R70X, either I pay another $120 for a poor quality cable from surf cables, or I get one for $59 dollars from china off ebay and wait 3 or 4 weeks, and could be the same quality.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  7. Anarion

    Anarion Ancient Guru

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    AE-5 measurements:
    https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...and-measurements-of-sound-blasterx-ae-5.9114/

    [​IMG]

    TL;DR: Really nice package with really good performance for the price. If AE-7 and AE-9 can do better, well, there's really no reason to sniff at them either.

    Headphone amp has basically as much power as Topping DX30 Pro for 300ohm headphones. Considering the price and features, it's hard to beat. Performance wise it's essentially matching Topping DX3 Pro in practice.

    Someone should test if high quality PSU makes any difference. I'd imagine that it might make some difference. But in any case, it doesn't matter whether or not the DAC is internal or external. Well engineered product works well inside you case too. Might be a tad harder but totally doable while keeping the price affordable.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2019
  8. Anarion

    Anarion Ancient Guru

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  9. sverek

    sverek Ancient Guru

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    Internal soundcard still goes inside of the PC and there possibility of GPU electromagnetic interference with other parts. It might be tested at optimal conditions, but when there GPU breathing right next to it, there could be some noise issues.

    I don't think people should buy soundcard for quality of the sound, rather features like mixing, recording, surround, etc...
    For pure stereo signal, dedicated headphone dac/amp will always have better sound.
     
  10. Anarion

    Anarion Ancient Guru

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    There have been test about that. In reality, those do not necessarily make any difference. External ones might pick wifi/phone signal interference. In the end it's just all about how good job engineers did. There are ridiculous amount of external garbage that get arse kicked by internal gaming toys. Those dedicated amps and dacs need to be better than the internal ones first. AE-5 for example offers similar DAC performance to Topping D30 and headphone out performance for something like HD 6x0 would be pretty much the same. Considering the features and price, it's hard to beat that. Though, the thing with internal ones is that you can't just use it with everything.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2019

  11. RzrTrek

    RzrTrek Ancient Guru

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    They are very light and I can barley feel them on my head, but they keep falling off and now I want to find another pair of entry level headphones.

    However I'm in no way interested in spending several hundred of dollars for my sound and the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro seems like a perfect replacement.

    [​IMG]

    https://reference-audio-analyzer.pro/en/report/hp/sennheiser-hd-599.php, https://reference-audio-analyzer.pro/en/report/hp/beyerdynamic-dt-990-pro-250.php

    Though I don't know about those crazy highs (mostly listen to synthwave and increase my highs in the eq anyway), but I can imagine squeaking anime girls killing my ears, or perhaps it's not a problem.

    And yes, I know it's 250 ohm, but I'm not too worried as I've seen threads by people with the same mobo, who says it still runs loud and it's on sale right now for $125 with shipping,

    might get a decent sound card in the future, or just buy one of my fathers amps (or 80 ohm edit), though I appreciate your guys input.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
  12. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

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    Where are they @ $125?

    EDIT: Found them in grey on Google Shopping for $109 + tax from Google Shopping with $20 coupon good til Dec 2. I went ahead and ordered a pair. :)

    The sound signature on these is a typical U-shape FR and considered "lively" which should be different from my Sennheisers and Sonys. I <3 headphones for their diversity.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
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  13. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    I had exactly this feeling with my hifi, upgrading to the best kit I could get my mitts on over the last 10 years within a more limited budget, hella lot of fun and gave me far more use of my music collection for a very long time.
    The difference in sound and quality of different equipment is wild.

    With headphones I decided to go for it, get a set I will use until I die.
    And you know what, I regret it because I denied myself that upgrading experience, it really is worth so much.
    The excitement I had every few years wont happen.
    I should have gone a few levels lower and bought the best around a price every 2 or 3 years.

    Thats not to say I dont love listening to my kit, it is "incredible".
    But it feels like an endgame now, I read/join in with hifi forums and reviews much less.
    I need something to go pop so I'm forced to replace it :D

    A word of warning for anyone looking to upgrade their hifi!
     
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  14. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

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    My next step will be getting the HifiMan Ananda, as I'd like to try the planar magnetic drivers, and it's a full ear cup design. I like collecting hi-end headphones and compare them to each other. :)
     
  15. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    The Ananda looks to be a sweet headphone, I considered getting them too. The people I bought my DAC from offered me a really good discount.
    What put me off were user experiences with many HifiMan phones that broke due to poor design and poor customer service/no warranty.
    I didnt feel like testing the water.

    Take a look at Meze, their customer service is as good as it gets and their products have top quality build, look and sound.
    When I had a problem with deep bass on my Empyrean they were positive and professional throughout, easy to deal with. They replaced the drivers which was a bit of a bummer because they needed another 200 to 500hrs burn in, but it was worth it.

    Their 99 Classics are held in very high regard and the price is surprisingly low for what you get.
    https://mezeaudio.com/collections/all
    This 99 Classic review reveals how they started with terribly expensive re-badged phones and what they made of themselves since.
    Along with a glowing review
    https://www.audiophileon.com/news/meze-99-classics-review-headphone

    Its well worth looking at other reviews of them.

    edit
    My bad, they arent Planar.
    Meze are really missing a trick not having a middle ground planar.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
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  16. theoneofgod

    theoneofgod Ancient Guru

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    If you can, give Sonarworks a try
     
  17. sverek

    sverek Ancient Guru

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    Why? I already have bunch of EQ presets for my needs.
     
  18. theoneofgod

    theoneofgod Ancient Guru

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    Okay.
     
  19. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

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    DT 990 Pro 250 Ohm headphones arrived today. (Wasn't expecting them until Tuesday) Grabbed a nice FR chart and did my EQ tweaks, tho the can's tuning by itself isn't that bad. Just a treble hump in the 7-8K range, and typical "lively" U-shaped curve. Probably why people say it's warm and somewhat bright. Anyhoo, thus begins the long process of playing my set of test tracks and tweaking accordingly, while still endeavoring to maintain the can's original signature. After all, why have all your cans sound the same? :D

    I found it odd that they come with 1/8" stereo plug installed, with 1/4" threaded on. *shrug* Otherwise, unit was new, and I like the fact that most of the unit can be torn down and replaced. The cabling is fixed, however.

    In comparison to the HD580 and MDR-SA5000, I put these in the middle of the two. Soundstage is a natural presentation, tho the Sony's are better with songs with a sweeping orchestral design, like Billy Joel's "The Downeaster Alexa". The DT 990 are detailed and fast response, and have this in common with the Sony's, but when listening to that song on the Sony's I end up swaying back-and-forth to the rhythm. :) [EDIT: Applied +2dB to 20-150Hz range and restored the bass impact, song sounds more upbeat and overall better.]

    We'll see what I think of them after a week of using them.

    Comfort: not heavy, lighter than the HD580, Sony are lighter. Velour cups, not bad tho warmer than the leather Sony cups. Shouldn't be a problem with long-term listening.

    EDIT2: Headphones work quite well plugged into my LG V40 ThinQ phone with Hi-Fi Quad DAC enabled.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
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  20. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

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    UPDATE: Installed Equalizer APO, and spent some time learning how it works. Grabbed a bunch of presets from AutoEQ for my 3 headphones, and set everything up using Parametric EQ. Wish I had known about this before, doing my own is so time consuming. Funny that a couple of my EQ's were similar to those provided, but I like theirs better, cuz they retain more of the signature sound of the respective cans.

    So after all is said and done, and listening to my test tracks, I have to say the Sony MDR-SA5000 are still my overall favorite. More spacious sound, the PEQ settings really restored the timbre of the music, which was something I value in the HD580. Also, they're easier to drive, with the BeyerDynamic DT990 Pro's being the hardest. The Sony's have better dynamic range and impact, and the PEQ made them a bit livelier, which is a good thing. I'll still be keeping the DT990 cans, I love switching up from time to time. I'll have to still adjust the DT990 PEQ, because the inherent U-shaped tuning causes the bass to be a tad too strong and somewhat overdone.

    Another bonus is that EQ APO applies to all audio, so it benefits movie playback and gaming.
     

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