Q & A -

Headfonia Q & A

Feel free to post any questions you may have below at the comment section and I will try my best to answer them promptly. I try to answer all the questions, but I may miss one or two at times. Do repost your question if it’s left unanswered for a few days.

Please also go over the Buyer’s Guide articles before you post your questions, they may help to answer your questions.

 

Here is a link to the older Q & A pages:

 

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  • Nickjan Glas

    More a remark than a question, but I just saw an announcement that Marantz is bringing out the HD DAC1; their first headphone amp. I am curious.

    • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

      Massdrop now has the CEntrance DACMini CX with some impedance and other options for $400 USD – half price.

  • riodgarp

    hi, sorry to asking this question again from facebook, I want to know if hidizs ap100 has more stable upgraded fw this year? and can it used as external dac with using coax cable ?

  • Vaibhav Pisal

    hi guys,

    I am budgeting $500-600 for next dac/amp combo upgrade. I have a audinst hud mini that can serve as a dac (consider it like fiio e10). my question is should I invest all in amp or an amp-dac combo for best sound? mainly I am looking for biggest sound with as many instrument layers in mix as possible. I will be pairing low impedence dynamics like akg k550 and possibly shure srh1840 with it. for dac-amp combos, I am looking at pan am, ifi idsd, fostex hp a4. for amps (I will pair it with audinst hud mini) maybe lake people g109, graham slee solo srg etc.

    • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

      My main concern in deciding between a one box DAC/amp and separates is the tradeoff between the amount of improvement in getting the best possible DAC and amp separately**, and having output wiring and connectors in the DAC and input wiring and connectors in the amp and interconnect cables between them, all of which could negate the improvements from having separates.

      **And there’s the concern that the separate amp and DAC have great synergy with each other as well as the headphone.

      • Vaibhav Pisal

        I also have these concerns. but in all dac-amp reviews I have, reviewer seems to prefer to take signal from line out to different high end amp.

        hud mini I have is entry level. I also will be using supplied interconnects. Power supply is also not best where I live.

        is there a consensus if I should invest in dac-amp or all in amp? to get biggest sound possible with most instrument layers.

      • Patrick Michael Graf Murray

        btw Dale read you review on the K812, good stuff as always man. I will write you via youtube, but just wanted to say thanks for the info and if you had any suggestions on a headphone that is open under a 1000 ?

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ Headfonia_L.

          Sennheiser HD600/HD650 or a second hand LCD2 ;)

          • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

            I hadn’t thought of planars, but for anyone who wants to jump in, there’s a lot to explore.

            • Patrick Michael Graf Murray

              Yes I am kind of wanting to try the Planar open back phone as my main open phone eventually that is why I was asking. Thanks though guys. I have read that the LCD 2s pair quite nicely with the PanAm but not a 100% since I have never heard them. I know the ZMF X Vibro’s paired with the GeekOut 1000 is the best thing I have listened to in a lot of ways, next to the PanAm with the HD6xx

              • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

                I think of the Vibro as one end of the ultimate T50rp mod, the other end the Alpha Dog. But even though I haven’t heard the HE-560, I’d expect it to be a big step up from the T50rp mods. That’s the way I’d go.

                • Patrick Michael Graf Murray

                  Yeah I am hoping so, I am kind of up in the air with the upgrade. I am going sell my headphones and gear not all of it just the one’s I can live without. What is left over I will use after fixing car to buy the HE560s or the LCD 2’s I just do not know which version of the 2’s I would prefer the revision 1 or 2 or with the fazor. I like an open sound stage so I may get the HE560 and do the mod and be done with it. I will let you know anyways, plus I heard the He560s sounds very good from the Geekout 1000. What headphone are you using as your current open desktop hp?

                  EDIT: Did you get to try the ZMF X Vibros yet? I really think you may enjoy them Dale just from what you have said you have enjoyed in videos and other reivews I have read from you. I really reallly like the lows on the Geek out 1000 with them and the mids are nice and detailed with intimacy. The lows sound so good with that combo.

                  • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

                    I got the ZMF and Mad Dog on loan from a friend, who has since dropped from sight. I bought the Alpha Dog and sold it. The bass was workable, especially with the adjustment they build in. But the treble took a nosedive before 10 khz, and I didn’t have a way to flatten it out to minimum treble strength that was still smooth. I use the AKG K812 mostly, and also the Beyer T90 when listening in bed. I also love the K712 although I don’t use it much. Ironically, the K712 plays almost perfectly right out of the box (with some burn-in of course), but I use a fairly hefty treble cut with the T90 and K812. Both of those can be crispy-bright with a lot of pop or metal, but probably play OK with most classical and jazz. I listen to everything, so I aim for lower treble and enjoy all genres that way. I have a cheap tube amp, but I really need to get a better amp, maybe the Woo WA7. If I get another planar, I’ll aim for the HE-560 or similar, since I’m satisfied to recommend the Mad Dog and ZMF Vibro to other users. But with that planar, i.e. the 560 etc. – my requirement is to get a very stable version that I can recommend to many people. The LCD series would be more of a hobby interest I think, and that’s not where I’m headed (too many projects to work with all those planar versions).

                    • Patrick Michael Graf Murray

                      O Nice, I did not know you had tried the ZMF X Vibro, I knew about the ZMF Mastered v1 or v2 you had a review on I believe, and has said that is not the finalized version or that it needed some tuning up. I cannt quite recall. I will let you know with what I decide on when the time comes and also how i think they paired with what I am using for an Amp.

                    • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

                      The ZMF series or the Mad Dog versions are all OK to me. The minor differences are easy enough for me to accomodate. The Alpha Dog was the big surprise, since it was a major break from the sound established by the Mad Dog series, and the treble just didn’t fit I thought. The target sound that they were going after with the Alpha Dog would be better realized in something like the HE560.

          • Patrick Michael Graf Murray

            I currently own the HD600, I am looking for something to upgrade to from that. The LCD 2? or the 2.2? I am only worried about comfort with that headphone becasue of the weight not sure about comfort. I was looking at the HD700/800 used, the HE-560/400i or the LCD2/2,2

            • http://www.headfonia.com/ Headfonia_L.

              LCD 2.1 ;) HE560 is excellent too. HD700 and HD800 too, tough choices to make! I wasn’t in love with the HE400i

              • Patrick Michael Graf Murray

                Thanks for the write back so quickly. I am in between the He-560 against teh LCD2 and the HD800. I like a large genre of music a lot of alternative/progressive/indie/folk some classical and soundtrack pieces. I am leaning towards the HE560 to the LCD 2. but I see a lot of them on sale in the forums but I believe they are the 2.2 or jsut strictly the LCD2 have not seen teh 2.1

                • http://www.headfonia.com/ Headfonia_L.

                  I have a 2.1 I doubt the owners will ever sell it, to me it’s the best 2 they made.

                  I think LCD2 or HE560 would be great. I’d go for the LCD still

                  • Patrick Michael Graf Murray

                    I know the weight is heavy, bit how is comfort and clamping force to you? I mean the ZMF is wooden cups and decently heafty but the leather band on top keeps weight distributed evenly and is very comfortable with the alpha pads. That was the main thing I am worried about after how they sound, and if they play nicely with my amps

                    • http://www.headfonia.com/ Headfonia_L.

                      I don’t find the LCD2 heavy.. the LCD XC, that’s another story

        • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

          I haven’t had the HD700, but check the review and comments here, and given some of the recent discounts, it might be the best deal under $1k USD.

    • Patrick Michael Graf Murray

      Hello I just wanted to say that I own the PanAm and am using the GeekOUt 1000, now as far as chemistry with your phones I am not certain, but I can say that the GO 1000 has to be among the better 300$ one can spend on a DAC/Amp(that can power anything from 600ohm to orthos depending on what you have. But still sound good with the lower impedance phones like the T70p. I also can say the PanAm is a great option especially if you like to try different tubes, only problem is if you want to use another amp with it you will have to use headphone jack. Now the HPA 4 is suppose to be another acceptional buy, and having the HPA 3 the DAC was exceptionally good, and the amp decent. I have read the HPA 4 is even better. I have heard and only heard that the IFI Micro Idsd is exceptional, but I would say if you want solid state and a small footprint try the Geekout 1000 from Lhlabs. Just my suggestion though, and if you want tubes go with the PanAm but go with it quick because it is on sale and will be discontinued.

      • Vaibhav Pisal

        so you think I should get a dac-amp instead amp only?

  • DTSxJP

    I have a question, which IEM is better? Shure SE215 or Audio Technica ATH-IM50?

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ Headfonia_L.

      Shure is a classic. Both good but I’d go for the 215

      • DTSxJP

        Thanks, why would you pick SE215 over the ATH-IM50?

  • Nickjan Glas

    hey guys , I was just wondering while browsing for all the good stuff.As leading headphone review site, is there any chance Marantz will let you review their first ever headphone amplifier?

    • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

      The Marantz blurb looks good and the $800 price isn’t bad if it’s as good as their blurb says. So far I don’t see a real tech review.

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ Headfonia_L.

      Do you have a contact?

      • Nickjan Glas

        Unfortunately not. I hoped you might have or be able to persuade them.

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ Headfonia_L.

          I’ll put it on my to do list

          • Nickjan Glas

            and that’s, I m sure, a big list. Thanks

  • Nickjan Glas

    hey guys, I have another question regarding DAP’s. Most of them I see use micro sd cards. These come in various brands, capacities and speeds. Is there a recommended speed and or brand to these cards or will the basic cards do just fine for music files?
    thanks

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ Headfonia_L.

      I stick to Sandisk and Samsung, actually mostly Samsung. Class 6 minimum

      • Nickjan Glas

        thanks that helps.

    • Otaku Faisal

      but it be better if you use UHS-I one

    • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

      Both of my Sandisk 128 gb microSD cards have failed. I copy desktop files to them, put the cards into their rigid plastic holder, then place into wallet. The wallet has internal stiffeners and the card case is stiff, so there’s no stress on the little cards, but they failed anyway. The interesting failure is
      that the cards aren’t dead, but can’t be formatted by any of my 3 cameras (2014 models by Panasonic and Leica), and my Windows PC can format them only as 30 mb partitions. Same with my Macbook Pro Retina.

      I’d advise extreme caution with 128 gb Sandisk microSD cards, or any vendor who sources their chips from the same OEM. The cards worked fine for about 2 weeks each, updating every other day, then eventually failed. The original format is exFAT.

  • malifact

    Hi guys, I read the recent reviews of the Earsonics EM32 and Noble Audio Kaiser 10s. They seem to have similar sound signature, so I was wondering how they compare to each other. Is one superior to the other, or do they have different strengths and weaknesses? Thanks

  • malifact

    Hi guys, I read the recent reviews of the Earsonics EM32 and Noble Audio Kaiser 10s. They seem to have similar sound signature, so I was wondering how they compare to each other. Is one superior to the other, or do they have different strengths and weaknesses? Thanks

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ Headfonia_L.

      I suggest asking Nathan in the Noble or Earsonics review :)

  • arik100

    hey, i just got myself a new hd600 and i wanted to know what’s the cheapest amp i can buy for them. i listen mainly to progressive metal (dream theater, opeth etc)
    thanks alot

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ Headfonia_L.

      What’s your budget?

  • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

    Did you just really post a link to head-fi and asked for our help?
    The minimum would be to repeat your question here mate ;)

  • g.

    Okay, apologies, it’s a long post explaining my situation so I thought a link would be more convenient. I’ll copy paste here:

    My current heaphones are knock offs of Sony MDR V6, so I was looking into something decent. My budget is limited, and my choices are as well, because I live in Argentina, so many good cans might not be available, and buying outside the country is a nightmare (products stolen, having to pay huge fees to get it in,
    etc).

    So all I can do is browse local sites and compare prices there (in pesos). The main site is this: http://www.mercadolibre.com.ar/

    Since I don’t have much to go on in terms of experience, I browsed a post with recommendations in Head-Fi and searched for all those cans in the site I just mentioned. These were the ones I found:

    $185 http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.ar/MLA-485383585-koss-auriculares-ur55-studio-_JM
    $395 http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.ar/MLA-491354019-auriculares-koss-portapro-_JM
    $425 http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.ar/MLA-484864058-auriculares-phillips-oneil-the-stretch-red-sho956010-_JM Do these actually sound good? They seem gimmicky
    $477 http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.ar/MLA-487091477-auricular-cerrado-para-moviles-beyerdynamic-dt-235-_JM
    $477 http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.ar/MLA-484996413-auricular-beyerdynamic-dtx-300-_JM
    $888 http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.ar/MLA-485386840-koss-pro-dj-100-auriculares-estereo-profesional-dj-_JM

    Those are the ones I could find that fit within my budget (around
    $900 tops). Just for reference, the Sennheiser HD25-1 II cost over
    AR$2000 and the HD202 are around $300-400.

    I mostly listen to classical music, prog rock, and jazz (and Dawn of Midi, which I can’t put into a genre).

  • dalethorn

    Your selections include the very poorly made and easily broken Beyer DTX300 and the very well-made Philips Stretch. But to cover all the issues and the sound qualities would take a year. But only a year if all the reviews were in one place and condensed without any extra chat. On headfi you would have to read through all the many pages of commentary, so figure 2 years for that. Or — you could go to Amazon and click on the reviews, then sort by most recent first, and then you would be reading the reader/user reviews first and skipping the manufacturer house reviews which are nearly always posted first. That’s where you should start, and get your list down to your 2 or 3 best choices.

  • g.

    Thank you for the reply. There aren’t a lot of places where you can test a variety of headphones around where I live. I’ll go to a store next week but it’s safe to assume I won’t find all these options. I’ve also checked the headphones recommended here and most are either not available or way too expensive, with the exception of the HD202 and the Koss Portapro. I will check the amazon reviews as well.

  • dalethorn

    I think the 202 and Porta-Pro are both good for sound, but in my experience the Koss will need occasional repair.

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