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  • Reviewer Loses Headphone Virginity!



    Well that's a slight exaggeration. But it's been at least twenty years since I listened seriously to headphones or to serious headphones. In fact the last serious headphones that I placed on my head were the old original Grados, Stax electrostats or Sennheiser Orpheus headphones. So why in the world after 20 years did I suddenly have the urge to listen to headphones? Well, thank Nick Doshi for that. Not only can you with his tape preamplifier listen to tapes through your speakers but headphones too. And just like speakers, what better source of material is there than analog tape?

    So there was only one option knowing virtually nothing about modern day headphones or having any headphones around. That was a help call to my audiobuddy Al (Rainbow) who is both a diehard can as well as audio guy. Instantly I was peppered with question about output impedance, watts and a slew of other other things before Al could select the right headphones to bring over. Who knew? Not me. So in the end after a couple of text to Nick and finding out that anything over 40 ohms should work, we were hopefully ready to start.

    So the three headphones that Al chose for the occasion and thought would work best included the Audeze LC3, HiFiman HE-6 and Sennheiser HD800. We listened to a couple of tapes including the aforementioned Rosellet cello works as well as the Mark Colby (Int. Phonograph) and Patricia Barber's Cafe Blue (Premonition Records). I went back and forth between the two transducers with the different recordings; obviously some things like soundstaging weren't comparable. Nonetheless dynamics, detail and most of all tonality were more readily comparable. For me, being a headphone newbie, it was a very different listening experience. Musicians were more in your face but at the same time, there was a heightened sense of space such as on the Sennheisers or pretty amazing soundstage width as on the HiFiman or detail on the Audeze. But which headphone was preferable pretty much depended upon the music. I preferred the Audeze with the Rosellet because of its tighness in the low end. The bass of the Sennheiser sounded a bit fat here. On vocals or cymbals, the Sennheiser might be some people's choice because of it's warmth and space. The HiFiman headphones seemed like they lay in the middle sonically between the Audeze and Sennheiser. Though Al seemed to feel that while what I was hearing was correct, he also felt that the headphones needed a bit better impedance matching and that the outcomes might be reversed.

    Oh oh and the tonality through the headphones at their best came close to through the speakers and bespeaks to the headphone amp's quality. So the work never seems done.
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
    -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

  • #2
    While headphones are an inexpensive path to high quality sound compared to speakers, I do not like what they do to the sound field. Instead of the phantom center being in front of you, it seems to be in the middle of your head. I cant stand that. If I listen to phones for a while I get used to it somewhat but I still prefer the sound of speakers in front of me.

    Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (St) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (St) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (St) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (M) , Luxman Tonearm (M) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (M) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-300 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by JCOConnell View Post
      While headphones are an inexpensive path to high quality sound compared to speakers, I do not like what they do to the sound field. Instead of the phantom center being in front of you, it seems to be in the middle of your head. I cant stand that. If I listen to phones for a while I get used to it somewhat but I still prefer the sound of speakers in front of me.
      I know exactly what you're referring to but actually found that feeling varied among the three headphones that Al brought along. Not as much with the Sennheiser for instance but much more with the Audeze.
      Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
      Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
      ________________________________________

      -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
      -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
      -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
      -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
      -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
      -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
      -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
      -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
      -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
      -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

      Comment


      • #4
        Just like in amp, preamp and speakers Headphone and their supporting amps can make a huge difference in soundstage, clarity, bass and overall performance. I know my HD800 sound different when used with my Schiit Valhalla 2 vs my Woo Audio WA6se the same with my Mr Speaker Ether C or my HD600's. I tell you for the money the Valhalla 2 is pretty darn good very resolving and fast.,.
        Chris
        ----------------------------------------------------------------
        Kef 201/2, Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE, Manley Chinook, VPI Classic, Dynavector DV20x2L, ExaSound e32, Acoustic Zen cables. (Office): Vincent SP331 Mkll, Quicksilver Pre, Lumin D1, (Ken Lau Signiture Edition PSU), Bryston BCD-1, Vapor Audio Breeze, WooAudio W6se,Questyle Audio CMA800R LCD-3,HD800s, HD600, Mr Speaker Ether C Flow,

        Comment


        • 1morerecord2clean
          1morerecord2clean commented
          Editing a comment
          Couldn't agree more with cpp. My experience makes the phones much less important than the amp. Just walk around RMAF CanJam and you will find Senheisser HD 800s at most tables and listen to how much different they sound depending on the amp used. Or any like phones with different amps for that matter.

      • #5
        If you decide to get back into headphones, don't exclude closed-back phones from your search. I prefer the sound of closed-back to open-back and it has nothing to do with their ability to suppress external sounds (even though that is a legitimate plus). I just think they sound and image better. I'm not alone... I have read Tyll Hertsens (of Inner Fidelity) stating that his usual "go to" phones are often closed-backs.
        -Tim Leinbaugh
        -Professional RTR restoration and modification for 45 years.
        [email protected]
        www.MusicTechnology.com

        Comment


        • #6
          Originally posted by cpp View Post
          Just like in amp, preamp and speakers Headphone and their supporting amps can make a huge difference in soundstage, clarity, bass and overall performance. I know my HD800 sound different when used with my Schiit Valhalla 2 vs my Woo Audio WA6se the same with my Mr Speaker Ether C or my HD600's. I tell you for the money the Valhalla 2 is pretty darn good very resolving and fast.,.
          Do tell!
          Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
          Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
          ________________________________________

          -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
          -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
          -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
          -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
          -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
          -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
          -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
          -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
          -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
          -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

          Comment


          • #7
            cans will never image like speakers because with cans each ear only hears its dedicated channel, with speakers each ear hears both channels at once (with slight delays across head)
            Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (St) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (St) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (St) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (M) , Luxman Tonearm (M) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (M) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-300 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

            Comment


            • #8
              Originally posted by JCOConnell View Post
              cans will never image like speakers because with cans each ear only hears its dedicated channel, with speakers each ear hears both channels at once (with slight delays across head)
              For headphones to image like speakers, you either need to use the Phonitor or one of the other devices that trick the mind into thinking that you're actually listening in a room. Headphones alone will never do this. This is why you will never see mastering engineers use headphones for mastering.

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by Bruce B View Post

                For headphones to image like speakers, you either need to use the Phonitor or one of the other devices that trick the mind into thinking that you're actually listening in a room. Headphones alone will never do this. This is why you will never see mastering engineers use headphones for mastering.
                Despite owning two systems with loudspeakers, both of them have headphone amps and I have an all-headphone system with an Ayre QB-9 DSD driven by an iMac running El Capitan and Audirvana Plus as a library manager (so no iTunes) all feeding both a Cavalli Liquid Gold and a Woo WA5-LE V2 via two pairs of Steakth Sakra interconnects, one balanced and one single ended. My USB cable is the AQ Diamond and my power cables are all Stealth Swifts with an Equi=Tech and a PS Audio Power Plant 10. I use mostly Moon Audio headphone cables. Plus, I have Western Electric 300Bs in the WA5-LE V2. The two headphone / amp combinations that sound the most three-dimensional, the most like loudspeakers, are my Audeze LCD-2.2s running fully balanced all the way from the headphones to the amp (a Cavalli Liquid Gold) and then the Ayre DAC then my Abyss AB-1266s running single ended all the way through the amp (a Woo WA5-LE V2) and then the same Ayre DAC, just using the RCA outputs. It's possible that a pair of Focal Uttopias would blow away the Abyss's and I know that I would get the LCD-3s if I had to do it over again. I have yet to experiment heavily with electrostatics as I am all tapped out at the moment, so it will be a while before I decide what I want to get, most likely to go with my secondary system using an Aurender N100H/Ayre Codex and a Nakamichi CR-3A as source players. Please note that the WA5-LE V2 is a redesign of the V1 with substantially more power and 4-pin XLR connector for compatibility with the AKG-K1000s and other headphones that you might want to run balanced through, say, the Liquid Gold or single ended through the Woo without needing special adapters.
                Last edited by Galileo; 09-18-2016, 02:35 PM.
                Transrotor Rossini Turntable w/Jelco SA-750DB
                Audio Note Io Gold Cart. w/AN-S9 SUT
                Audio Note CDT-Four Transport/Woo WDS-1 DAC
                Ayre QX-5 Twenty Dig. Hub & 13” MacBook Pro w/Roon w/Melco N1A NAS
                AN OTO Phono SE Signature Int. Amp w/AN-E SEC Silver Speakers w/Murata Super Tweeters
                Purple J-Corder 1520 R2R and Nakamichi Dragon Cassette Deck
                PSAudio P10 AC Regen./Equi=Tech Bal. Transformer
                Harmonic Technology, Audio Note, Kondo Sound Labs, Stealth, AQ Cables
                Woo GES w/Sfax SR-507 Headphones

                Comment


                • MylesBAstor
                  MylesBAstor commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Why is it that headphone people never have just one set of cans?

                • cpp
                  cpp commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Myles, hard to tell, maybe its like turntable folks with more than one phono cartridge, or those that keep changing dacs, amps, phono stages and yes even speakers.

              • #10
                I have to say that if the Doshi tape preamplifier stays, I might consider adding some headphones to my system. Just being lazy and not having to turn everything on and heat up the room with the cj ARTs. Plus saving some time on the tubes for non-critical listening. Maybe even check out a few headphones if I have time at RMAF this year.
                Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                ________________________________________

                -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
                -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
                -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
                -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                Comment


                • #11
                  Originally posted by Galileo View Post

                  Despite owning two systems with loudspeakers, both of them have headphone amps and I have an all-headphone system with an Ayre QB-9 DSD driven by an iMac running El Capitan and Audirvana Plus as a library manager (so no iTunes) all feeding both a Cavalli Liquid Gold and a Woo WA5-LE V2 via two pairs of Steakth Sakra interconnects, one balanced and one single ended. My USB cable is the AQ Diamond and my power cables are all Stealth Swifts with an Equi=Tech and a PS Audio Power Plant 10. I use mostly Moon Audio headphone cables. Plus, I have Western Electric 300Bs in the WA5-LE V2. The two headphone / amp combinations that sound the most three-dimensional, the most like loudspeakers, are my Audeze LCD-2.2s running fully balanced all the way from the headphones to the amp (a Cavalli Liquid Gold) and then the Ayre DAC then my Abyss AB-1266s running single ended all the way through the amp (a Woo WA5-LE V2) and then the same Ayre DAC, just using the RCA outputs. It's possible that a pair of Focal Uttopias would blow away the Abyss's and I know that I would get the LCD-3s if I had to do it over again. I have yet to experiment heavily with electrostatics as I am all tapped out at the moment, so it will be a while before I decide what I want to get, most likely to go with my secondary system using an Aurender N100H/Ayre Codex and a Nakamichi CR-3A as source players. Please note that the WA5-LE V2 is a redesign of the V1 with substantially more power and 4-pin XLR connector for compatibility with the AKG-1000s and other headphones that you might want to run balanced through, say, the Liquid Gold or single ended through the Woo without needing special adapters.
                  I have almost the same system as you. I use the Abyss 1266 and the Audeze LCD-XC with the Cavalli Liquid Gold and the Woo WA5-LE. The DACs I use are the Horus, PBD MPS-5 and for about 6mo. the Lampi Balanced GG. This system replaced the Stax 009 with Blue Hawaii SE. I stand behind my statement above. Headphones will never image like speakers/room without having to play tricks!!

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Originally posted by Bruce B View Post

                    I have almost the same system as you. I use the Abyss 1266 and the Audeze LCD-XC with the Cavalli Liquid Gold and the Woo WA5-LE. The DACs I use are the Horus, PBD MPS-5 and for about 6mo. the Lampi Balanced GG. This system replaced the Stax 009 with Blue Hawaii SE. I stand behind my statement above. Headphones will never image like speakers/room without having to play tricks!!
                    I totally agree with the above statement.
                    Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (St) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (St) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (St) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (M) , Luxman Tonearm (M) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (M) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-300 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Myles Wrote Why is it that headphone people never have just one set of cans?

                      Because the cost is so reasonable compared to a home system. I personally love the Custom In Ear Monitors because it blocks out all outside sound as if I was in a silent room. Walking for two hours in the morning with no car noise and sound quality equal to a good Wilson or Magico System. I have two sets of them and use them for different music. Imagine that you can take a 300,000 dollar system to the mall or walking with you in complete silence. But lets also talk detail. On a bunch of my recordings especially Harp recording you can easily hear that person breathing and pants ruffling. On even the finest home system that I have tested it on, these details are lost in the room. The quiet is so good that when sitting at my desk and my phone rings at full volume not one foot from me, I hear complete silence. This is a major advantage to CIEM. My units also have 8 driver in each ear, silver internal wiring, Vishay resistors and silver cable. When I had both of my custom in ear units made I specified deep canals so the drive outlets are about 1/8th of an inch from my ear drum. In real terms my ear drum now couples in sympathy to the music with no outside changes. As perfect as you can get.

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        Continuing from my last post I have owned may pairs of Stax, Sennheiser and teen years Koss headphones. I go to all of the shows and listen to all of the new headphones including the Stax with great amplifiers and non have convinced me out of my in ear units. My kids used to make fun of me because I had a home system and a nice headphone setup. They said dad having a home system in these times is like having a corded phones and the world is wireless cellular. I than bought my first custom units and never went back even after RMAF, CES and THE show listening to speakers and headphones. So to answer the question of why I have multiple cans. Easy imaging one day Magico Day, another JBL day for certain rock and other days maybe a Quad speaker sound. As for sources the Astel & Kern is equal to many DACS and amplifiers that you use for the home. BUT BUT SURPRISE. The I phone 6s which I have in many instances sounds better than most of the after market units. This could not be said for earlier but the new stuff is tops. I played Cantate Domino and no distortion and clear live sound.

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Originally posted by earlinarizona View Post
                          Myles Wrote Why is it that headphone people never have just one set of cans?

                          Because the cost is so reasonable compared to a home system. I personally love the Custom In Ear Monitors because it blocks out all outside sound as if I was in a silent room. Walking for two hours in the morning with no car noice and sound quality equal to a good Wilson or Magico System. I have two sets of them and use them for different music. Imagine that you can take a 300,000 d\system to the mall or walking with you in complete silence. But lets also talk detail. On a bunch of my recordings especially Harp recording you can easily hear that person breathing and pants ruffling. On even the finest home system that I have tested it on, these details are lost in the room. The quiet is so good that when sitting at my desk and my phone rings at full volume not one foot from me, I hear complete silence. This is a major advantage to CIEM. My units also have 8 driver in each ear, silver internal wiring, Vishay resistors and silver cable. When I had both of my custom in ear units made I specified deep canals so the drive outlets are about 1/8th of an inch from my ear drum. In real terms my ear drum now couple in sympathy to the music with no outside changes. As perfect as you can get.
                          Isnt it a little dangerous not being able to hear ANY environmental sounds, even loud ones?
                          Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (St) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (St) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (St) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (M) , Luxman Tonearm (M) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (M) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-300 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

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