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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  • Eric Thompson

    So just letting you know I would love a budget DAC/Amp should out, maybe even limited to USB power. Like a E10K vs E07k vs old and new E17 vs E09+said amps vs Dragonfly vs Fostex HP-A4 vs Audinst stuff? Kind of wondering how much its worth to spend on which one.

    • Eric Thompson

      Don’t forget the Fulla

  • Elliott

    What do you guys think about the sennehiser urbanite XL or the momentum over ear or even the hd589. Ive also looked at the ultrasone hfi 780. I plan on using these without an amp for travel and home listenign. Closed is prefered and under 250. Thanks

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

      How about the SoundMagic HP100 or HP150. Or the B&O H6

      • Eric Thompson

        H6 is $400 still isn’t it?

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

          2nd hand?

          • Eric Thompson

            I guess, although personally if going that route I would shoot for the B&W P7

            • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

              H6 and P7 were frequently compared when they first came out, but they’re two different worlds. I would always choose the H6, not because it has the best sound (very different from the P7), but because the long-term comfort is far better.

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

                I’m with Dale on this.

    • Eric Thompson

      The 598’s are open, the momentums are great, a little forward in the vocals and the whole bass region is slightly boosted so it isn’t the punchiest like Grado’s or HD25’s or the M100’s but they sound very good anyway. The only major issue with them is even tho they are over ear the cups are small and can hurt after like 3 hours or more, possibly worse if you have large ears.

    • Elliott

      Any views towards sennehiser urbanite xl?

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

        Not at all, maybe the HD DJ series

    • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

      I had the Momentum Senior, which is allegedly around-ear (same as over-ear? nobody seems to know about that, since it doesn’t go around the ear. What does “over ear” mean to you?)

      Anyway, I would start with something like the HD600, then reduce the fidelity for the ‘lifestyle’ kind of sound, then reduce the fidelity once again to get the sound of the Urbanite. And then I wonder if it really goes around the ear?

      • Elliott

        So are you reccomending the urbanite? So far I cant see anything wrong with them. Thanks

        • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

          I’d like to have one, but I don’t want to spend a bunch of money to get a headphone with low fidelity, marketed as “urban” or “lifestyle” sound. For that sound I could buy the Noontec Zoro II, for $99.

          • Elliott

            Ive seen videos of the good quality and they dont look like pieces of plastic. Any other ideas of similar products except with higher fidelity

            • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

              That’s also true of Momentum Senior and Junior – excellent physical quality. Probably the best lifestyle headphones are the B&W P7, B&O H6, Momentum Sr., and I haven’t tried the HP50 as yet. I’m very much enjoying the B&O H2 now, which I’ll bet sounds better than the Urbanites.

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

          I wouldn’t call them hi fi, more low to mid (maybe)

  • Elliott

    Would the Sennheiser urbanite xl be worth it?

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

      Depends on your definition of being worth it

  • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

    I bought a Bose QC25 (you probably shouldn’t – for music anyway), after putting the headphone on in the Best Buy store, with no music playing. The noise canceling is phenomenal – better than anything I’ve ever heard. It plays in passive or active mode. I haven’t shook down the active mode sound quality yet, but in passive mode the $99 Noontec Zoro II is slightly better, and the $200 B&O H2 is much better.

    • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

      I did a shakedown of the QC25 in Active mode – as best I could measure, the Active mode sound seemed more even (flatter) than the passive mode sound, but actually didn’t sound as good. The QC25 isn’t an audiophile sound in any case, and “re-tuning” it is very difficult, since Bose already uses electronic equalization in addition to the Noise Canceling.

      • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

        Addendum: The QC25 doesn’t go dead quiet in Active mode – the DSP has a white noise background that’s pronounced in quiet places. From what I can tell, even though the music is usually many db above the hiss level and I don’t hear the hiss intruding noticeably during playback, it’s not like Dolby that’s suppressed dynamically in quiet passages – it’s there all the time. So, for listening on a jet plane the Active mode is great, but in less noisy places where headphone isolation is good (not the QC25 BTW), an isolating headphone is a much better choice.

        • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

          And then it gets worse: I’m sitting under a freeway bridge, and sometimes when vehicles pass overhead they hit areas of the road that make a strong thump, and those thumps aren’t just intruding (because the NC doesn’t cancel deep bass much, if at all), those thumps are modulating something in the music or NC circuits. Very annoying. I wish I could record the sound this headphone makes when someone slams a car door nearby. Ouch!!

  • Marc

    So I just got my new Senn HD 800s and I paired them with an Alo MK 3 and an Algo Solo -db…the quality of the sound is quite breathtaking, however I have the set up on max and still want more volume!…can anyone guide me?

    • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

      I had the HD800 for 3-1/2 years, but always underpowered myself. The interesting thing is, you can hear much of its superior detail on whatever amp you have, but when your power is limited then your dynamics are limited and you lose some of that detail. Most of the small amps – amps under $1000 are specified in milliwatts output in the midrange of ohms, and the HD800 needs more than that. There are a lot of desktop amps, most kind of pricy.

      If I were determined to go cheap, I personally would get the O2 plus ODAC combo in a single enclosure. Above that price level you might go for one of the Bursons.

  • Marc

    Dalethorn thanks…solid state or tubed?….my goal is to make my ears bleed or close to it, but obv clean….I also plugged straight into my amp, but quality dropped and levels did not appreciably rise, thanks again

    • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

      Normally I prefer tubes, but the quality and details vary. Now if you have patience and money, the Blue Hawaii is a prize. The WA7 Fireflies is something I’d like to get. Sennheiser sells their DAC/amp for the 800 for $2000, and I’m sure it’s a good match to the HD800, but a good tube amp will be as good or better for a lot less. Most tube amps have lots of power, for the simple reason they need so much to heat the tubes. I haven’t heard most of the tube amps reviewed at headfonia, but there may be a few of those that would be good for the HD800, if you could narrow your choices.

  • Nickjan Glas

    hey L, Dale, Nathan and others,

    I have a question regarding my quest for a new headphone. In several reviews I have posted some ideas and questions and already got some useful insights, but to make sure I am headed in the right direction (and maybe get some more suggestions) I wanted to share where I am so far and ask what you guys think.

    The aimed use is purely at home, with the Meijer Corda Classic and several sources. Analogue LP, Denon UD player with internal DAC and maybe in the future with an added dedicated desktop DAC. My current headphone with this setup is the B&O H6.

    The music genre will be primarily if not exclusively (orchestral) classic, jazz, movie soundtracks. I expect the jazz and classical to be of above average recordings, the soundtracks I am not sure, but I imagine them also to be of above average quality.

    For my main characteristics, I like detail (not too analytical but clear), not too much bass (has to be contributing and not overemphasized). Soundstage I like to be better than the H6 for this purpose and overall I like it to be an upgrade compared to the H6.

    At the moment I have the sennheiser HD650 and Philips X2 as main candidates. (possibly the beyerdynamic DT770pro32 as extra) I have been looking at more high end headphones such as (but not particularly) audeze LCD XC, Hifiman HE-560, Denon D7100 (now on sale for 699) and fostex th600 etc.

    With those higher end I have some reservation based on the corda review that the HE500 was not the best match with the Corda (possibly because being a planar?) and also because off the different price classes they are in.

    I would appreciate any thoughts that might help me in this quest and maybe some other suggestions.

    thanks in advance. NJ

    • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

      Focus on the headphone first, with fewer limitations. Granted the headphone you get might not be perfect for all of your sources, but you can work that out in time. First get the headphone you want. Your genres reflect my main interests, and the H6 is nearly perfect for those, given its size and limitations. If I wanted a slight upgrade from the H6 my first thought would be the AKG K712. After that, a planar like the HE-560 or possibly the HE-400i. After that, maybe the LCD XC or whichever of those is on sale at the time. I think all of those will have a midrange that’s very good – better than the H6 – and the treble should be just as good, but don’t forget that even a couple of decibels up or down on the bass can really have an impact on the midrange tonality or the treble brightness. When you’re in the upper strata of sound, a little bit this way or that can make a big difference. Don’t be like some people and buy 100 headphones trying to find the perfect one – the better more expensive really are better, but perfection isn’t there. And don’t assume you can try a bunch of them in stores or meets – you can learn a lot in meets, but you won’t really have a final impression of the sound until you’re in a very quiet place with no distractions at all.

      • Nickjan Glas

        Thanks for your insights. My amp was picked to match the H6, being neutral,clear and detailed. And that’s the direction I want to keep at this time.
        The limitations of auditioning is indeed an issue, as most headphones are not in stores here and I can only listen to them at meets. (as far as I know). I am looking for a clear upgrade as I already love the H6, but I ll use that one mainly everywhere but home, with portable gear.
        So based on your views (if I understand correctly) that would set me in the direction of the HE400i/560.
        The review of the 560 appeals to me as I see some similarities with the H6. Also the comparisons with the 400i gives me the feel I like the linear of the 560 better with the orchestral music. The bass descriptions worries me a bit though. How does that compare to the H6? Since it influences treble as you say.

        • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

          Oh, definitely the HE-560 – I only mentioned the 400 for budget reasons.

          • Nickjan Glas

            Then the HE560 will also make my candidate list.
            From the reviews I imagined that the X2 would also be better than the H6 overall, that is why I started out with the similarly priced headphones and that made my shortlist.
            But a little more budget is no problem. If the audeze will come down a bit that will also be a candidate. So I ll keep a look out for reviews of the new one.

            I will take my time as I will first do some more research into what I have, what I like and what I might want differently or improved exactly. And than on to find auditioning opportunities.
            Thanks for your info, that already helped a lot.

  • InternetMythBuster

    This is probably a really dumb question, please bear with it.

    I’m not a huge audiophile but I do like & can tell when I hear audible difference in the quality of sound. This is for a desktop, I was looking into DACs and the FiiO E10K seems to to stand out, the price and the quality(according to your review) for a first timer who’s still a bit hesitant and a bit tight on budget.

    My question is, I have a pair of HD202, they’re obviously not high end but I’m quite satisfied with them. Would I see(or hear in this case) a benefit if I used the aforementioned DAC instead of the generic onboard mobo soundcard? i.e. is pairing the HD202s to the E10K which is no high end setup. My uses are music, videogames, movies, etc

    Thanks.

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

      We all have to start somewhere. Even with the E10K you will here a significant improvemend in sound stage and detail. It might not seem obvious in the beginning, but you’ll see that when you change back to how things now are after 2 weeks, you’ll be amazed

      • InternetMythBuster

        Thank you, another question if I may. While currently I don’t find it affordable, if I were to get my hands on Objective2, would you consider that the better choice despite the H202s ‘quality’ so to speak, they’re cheap cans I mean. Trying to balance price/performance.

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

          I would stick to the E10K

        • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

          Don’t buy just the O2 amp – you’d need the O2 plus ODAC. I think it would be better than the FiiO (although I didn’t have the ODAC at the time), but a much better idea would be to get the FiiO first, then wait and upgrade to something better than the O2/ODAC.

          • InternetMythBuster

            Thanks L and dale.

      • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

        That’s so true – you have to get used to the sound and then you’ll know what’s missing when you go back to the computer headphone jack.

  • Alton Britt

    I have recently purchased a Phillips Fidelio X2 for $299.99 and a Sennheiser HD600 for $260.00 with the idea of returning one for a refund. My problem is that they are both so good that it is very difficult to make a choice! FYI, I have a Vali/Modi combo, a Fiio E12, will be receiving a Magni 2 tomorrow, and also possess the Beyer DT990 Pro/250. Based on what you know, which headphone should I keep? Thank you for your response; I have about 14 days to make a decision!

    • Eugen

      You’re asking the internet to make a decision for you. Be a man and use your ears.

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

        true but some advice is always helpful

        • Eugen

          What I gave was advice.

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

      I’d keep the X2 over the HD600. But the HD650 would be kept over the X2.

  • Larry

    Hi,
    So I have a CL Theorem which I bought to use for travel. It’s great with full size cans but I get a little bit of hiss with IEMs. The hiss isn’t too bad unless it’s really quiet and can can be overcome with an inline variable resistor. That being said the Theorem is a bit bulky and it has less real use for IEMs vs full size cans. Is there another DAC/AMP that would be more useful with Apple gear and IEMs? All my portable audio equipment is apple so the Picollo wouldn’t work (I don’t think). Thanks!
    Larry

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

      Picollo plus CLAS SOLO would, all CL gear. And you won’t need a CCK!

  • melphoi

    Hello.. I want to ask few questions before i decide to take a DAP for my daily use..
    Currently I have Fiio E07K and I’m planning to take the X3 as my DAP, the questions are :
    1.How is the result if I paired both of them via Line Out, is it getting better in all aspects or will it just doubled the amp which I think kind of waste
    2.Should I just sell my E07K and instead take Fiio X5, as a note I’m in a bit tight budget, and if the X5 is slightly better than X3 in terms of sound quality, I’ll just take the X3 unless the X5 is far better than X3
    Please forgive me for my english :)
    Thanks in advance

  • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

    In the ads sidebar, there’s an Oppo ad that cycles between three items – the third being what looks like a pocket music player with “Oppo” on its case. But the Oppo site doesn’t show this item at all??

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

      It’s the new amp Dale :)

      • http://dalethorn.com dalethorn

        It looks very cool – I wonder how it will perform.

  • Aris Darmawan

    Hi, I want to change my shure SE 215 SPE tips. Do you have any tips recommended for my shure? I want tips which seal perfectly in my ear so I won’t listen any ambient noise.

  • DTSxJP

    I need help deciding on a portable amp to pair with the Nano 6G. So which is better and wich one would you go with? Fiio E6 or the Topping NX1.

  • 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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