Q & A - Headfonia Headphone Reviews

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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4,318 Comments

  • Reply September 14, 2012

    Mike

    Hello guys, welcome to the new Q-A page. The old one was getting too long so I made a new one.

    • Reply October 31, 2016

      Sakki

      Hello, I have just read your review about VE5 on the headphonia. That was a great experience and comprehensively thourough one.
      I have been deciding to choose between VE5 and noble k10. Have you ever tried one on the latter? Could you please kindly suggest me between those choices, I would really appreciate?
      Ps. I really like to listen to all kinds of music ranging from jazz to rock to bigband orchestra. And i really need some natural and realistic sounds even hearing the breathe of vocalists or saxophonists just like they were there in front of me playing the instruments. Or anything else you would recommend for the CIEM. Really appreciate it.

  • Reply September 14, 2012

    L.

    Hey Mike. Great site you have here, love reading it. I was thinking you could maybe make a Sennheiser corner, that would be awesome!!

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself 🙂

    • Reply September 14, 2012

      Mike

      Seriously this Sennheiser corner idea keeps on popping out…

      • Reply September 14, 2012

        L.

        Yeah, but we would need a Senn corner, a Hifiman corner, a Denon corner, etc…

        • Reply September 14, 2012

          Nick Tam

          My bad =P

          But it can’t be helped how people use the Senns for reference cans can it

          • Reply September 14, 2012

            Mike

            I didn’t know the other brands made reference cans..

            …..
            …..

            …..
            …..

            JUST KIDDING …..

  • Reply September 16, 2012

    Nicholas Hough

    Mike, do you have any recommendations on a Tube Amp to pair with HE-400’s?
    Thanks

    • Reply September 16, 2012

      Nick Tam

      Schiit Lyr, LF339?

    • Reply September 16, 2012

      L.

      The 400’s don’t need any (tube) amp. If you really do want an amp I’d go for a ss or hybrid. What’s your budget?

    • Reply September 17, 2012

      Mike

      I’d listen to Lieven or Nick as I don’t have any recommendations for a tube for the HE-400.

      In fact all of the Hifiman orthos I know (as well as the Audez’e), I’ve always been using solid state with them.

  • Reply September 17, 2012

    Benjamin Rose

    Hello again, I just wanted to let you know that I chose to go with the PS Audio Digital Link III as I have read a lot of stuff on it and that it’s warm and very detailed at the same time! I hope I’ll like it! Maybe you should review it eventually……:D

    • Reply September 17, 2012

      Mike

      Yes heard a lot of good things about the PS Audio as well. Congrats with the purchase, Benjamin.

      • Reply September 17, 2012

        Moo

        Thanks Mike! I’m sure I’ll enjoy it! I ordered earlier today some optical and RCA (as well as Firewire for my backup hard drive) cables from Monoprice. Yay! You should do a review on it if you ever come across one.

        • Reply September 17, 2012

          Mike

          Enjoy the good sound, Moo. 🙂

  • Reply September 17, 2012

    Benjamin Rose

    Whoops, last time I was signed in as “moo”.

  • Reply September 17, 2012

    George Lai

    Hi Mike, here’s a challenge for you. I’d like to add a max USD400 circumaural headphone to my collection of SR325iS, HD600, DT880, ATH-AD700, K550, ATH-M50, CAL. Why? I just feel there’s a hole to be filled! My main music genres are, in order of preference, rock, blues, R&B, then pop, Electronica. Amps I use include ADL GT40, audioengine D1, e10, e11, headstage arrow, PA2V2. I am inclined towards the D2000 and Q701 but would be very very interested in your “golden eared” views. Thanks.

    • Reply September 18, 2012

      Mike

      George,
      I would get either the D2000 or the DT770 but 80Ω version. Q701 I don’t know, I’m never a fan.

      • Reply September 18, 2012

        George Lai

        Thanks Mike. As always.

      • Reply September 19, 2012

        George Lai

        Mike, would a D2000 as well as a HD650 be an overkill since I already have a HD600? Somehow I feel my mid-Fi collection is incomplete without a HD650 😉

        • Reply September 19, 2012

          Nick Tam

          I’d think you’re better off saving up going up a tier instead of going with a pair of HD650s or D2000s when you already have the HD600. Although, one would really be missing out on the HD650 bass.

          And here I am bragging about the HD650s again… oh well

          • Reply September 19, 2012

            George Lai

            Precisely Nick. A collection seems incomplete without the HD650.

            • Reply September 19, 2012

              Nick Tam

              It doesn’t go well with your genres of music unfortunately so I’d actually not recommend the HD650. Blues maybe, and not so fast rock. To truly enjoy the sound of the HD650, you’d have to go back to the “audiophile” genres of Classical, Jazz and Vocals. Plus there’s the scalability of the HD650. It’s not that I’m telling you NOT to get them but the first DAC/Amp that I’ve ever owned was the E17 which I tried to drive the HD650 with. Months later I got myself a HRT MS2+ and Crack to perfect it and it just really made it clear that to get the most out of the Sennheisers, my wallet must break some time later. Even I’m on a budget but this is as far as I would go. With your current sources and amplification, you should stick to what you have.

              Cheers~

              • Reply September 19, 2012

                George Lai

                Thanks Nick. I guess that’s why I first settled on the HD600 rather than the HD650 and use the 325 most of the time for rock and blues. Cheers.

              • Reply September 20, 2012

                Mike

                DT770-80 is quite fun for Rock, Nick.

              • Reply September 20, 2012

                Spencer Chan

                The 650s can be fast with the right amp. Fast enough with a v200

                • Reply September 20, 2012

                  L.

                  The V200 does make it faster, but generally speaking, the HD640 isn’t considered a “fast” headphone

            • Reply May 2, 2013

              Eugen

              Unless you’re modding the HD800’s and investing a crapload into a system for them, stay with the HD600.

              • Reply May 2, 2013

                John123John

                haha well he could sell off everything he has (amps and headphones) and he might be able to get a decent set up 😉

                • Reply May 3, 2013

                  Mike

                  Go for the HD700 instead.

                  Seriously

          • Reply May 2, 2013

            John123John

            lol well I had both the HD600 and HD650 and ended up selling the HD600~
            The difference is there but I cant justify having both. too expensive for just a revision.

    • Reply May 2, 2013

      John123John

      isnt the D2000 and K550 a little too similar to have both?
      I too had a nice collection of Mid-Fi phones at one point, ended up selling them all except for the HD650 and just enjoy the music (and investing in a vinyl setup).

      I would recommend moving up a tier. You have plenty of things you could sell, unless you feel the need to “have it all”. Then I guess I would recommend the Q701 just because they sound the most different from your collection. Or maybe a nice desktop amp.

      • Reply May 2, 2013

        George Lai

        Interesting views but I guess it’s like having more than one favorite pair of jeans 😉 and I’d still aim for a Q701 too. Unlike wine collectors who can’t or won’t drink their collection, at least headfiers can use all their headphones.

        • Reply May 2, 2013

          dalethorn

          I didn’t see the DT770LE listed. Extremely comfy and awesome sound.

          • Reply May 2, 2013

            George Lai

            Hello Dale. My first post was 8 months ago. Now thanks to headfonia and you, I do own the DT770LE too.

            • Reply May 2, 2013

              dalethorn

              Did you have any preferences for amps with the 770LE?

              • Reply May 3, 2013

                George Lai

                Hi Dale, I don’t have any preference but these days I’m enjoying it and most headphones with an iFi iCan.

  • Reply September 18, 2012

    Jim B.

    Mike, my questions and responses of last week seem to be closed, but I want to thank you for all your help. Your advice is exactly what I was looking for. By the way, I just pulled the trigger on some ATH M-50s, and can’t wait to try them out. I gather I might need to break them in.

    • Reply September 18, 2012

      Mike

      You’re welcome, Jim.

      I didn’t mean to close your comments, just the entire Q-A page was getting really long and I decided it’s time to make a new page (you can still access the old Q-A) to keep loading time short.

      The M-50s, hope you like them. They are extremely popular and for a good reason.

  • Reply September 18, 2012

    Nick Tam

    Okay okay, so yet another hypothetical Sennheiser question. Reason being, I’ve already broke right through my wallet.

    So it really struck me if I were to move up from the HD650, would I rather have the king of technicalities, the HD800 or the HD700 that bridges between the extremes of warmth and the technical king? I probably already know the answer to this but just an opinion.

    Considering if I’m keeping the HD650 solely for Jazz music, I would be considering using the HD700 or HD800 for classical and orchestral music. If only limiting the usage of the two higher up brothers to solely these genres, I really should be looking at the HD800 instead, shouldn’t I? Still driving from my Ubercharged Crack of course.

    • Reply September 18, 2012

      Mike

      Nick,
      The thought of buying either the HD700 or the HD800 on limited budget it’s not such a good idea in my opinion. I mean, the HD800 is great for classical but I still enjoy the HD650 very much for classical.

      I think the HD700 and HD800 should be considered if you have plenty of cash laying around, and you can afford to buy 3-4 different flagships and one or two high end amplifiers.

      That’s just my opinion though.

      • Reply September 18, 2012

        L.

        Mike is right Nick. The HD700 is right between the 650 and the 800. If you’re already owning the 650 there is no use in getting the 700 imo. But as Mike says, no use to spend an extra 700€ on the HD700, but finally that is your choice of course

        • Reply September 18, 2012

          Nick Tam

          Yea I thought so. But the HD800 really needs an update doesn’t it

          • Reply September 18, 2012

            Mike

            Like a new HD800? or HD800 rev 2?

            • Reply September 18, 2012

              Nick Tam

              Thrown in the HD700’s technology in it and you have a clean sounding HD800. They could just build on the HD700 and supersize the drivers to 56mm for a HD800 rev2, give it a tad bit more bass punch and tune it to have the old HD800’s resolution, and Senn is probably back into business (with itself really). Probably tune down the fatiguing highs and even out the high ends and it’d be perfect

              • Reply September 18, 2012

                Mike

                That would do it. But I don’t know how easy it would be to implement that in real life into a finished product that doesn’t break the bank.

                • Reply September 19, 2012

                  Trent_D

                  I am guessing that using the PanAm with the “bass tubes” is what makes it your new favorite amp for the HD650. Also, wouldn’t the 650 play better with older, less perfect recordings than the 800?

                  • Reply September 19, 2012

                    Nick Tam

                    I’m not that old… I just appreciate my music both ways, either for musicality or sheer technicalities.

                    It would be really sad if the PanAm had already beaten the Crack to be the best HD650 pairing… although I could only say that the price of my build should put it on par with the PanAm.

                  • Reply September 25, 2012

                    Nick Tam

                    I don’t listen to classical alot, just more modern orchestral. I do love the tonality of the 650, but at the same time I’m just yearning for something that could produce a realistic and detailed soundstage and better center image. I don’t know why but even I’ve built in a crossfeed circuit into my Crack I’m still not getting the central image that I was hoping to improve ever so slightly, which is why I’m kind of eyeing these second hand HD700, HD800 that has been popping up lately

                    • September 25, 2012

                      L.

                      Do try the HD700. Lot’s of people don’t lie it cause some people don’t like the measurements, blablabla. But it’s nice!

                    • September 26, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      You guys would definitely take the HD700 over the HD800 any day

                    • September 26, 2012

                      L.

                      I would

            • Reply September 18, 2012

              L.

              I don’t think it does. Maybe a HD900 😀

              • Reply September 18, 2012

                Nick Tam

                And make it uberhard to drive properly

                I would pay big $$$…

                Okay maybe not. I still love my 650’s bass. It would really take Sennheiser much more to ever phase out the 650/600

                • Reply September 18, 2012

                  L.

                  Need power? Speaker Taps 😉
                  If Sennheiser ever decides to stop making the HD650, I’ll be buyin 3 pairs to cover the rest of my life

                  • Reply September 18, 2012

                    Nick Tam

                    Now that you mention it… the same money for the HD800 buys me 3 pairs of HD650s… hmmm…

                    • September 18, 2012

                      Mike

                      It is amazing when you consider that even today Senn can’t seem to produce another headphone with the HD650’s bass. The product engineer at that time must’ve been a genius.

                    • September 19, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      It’s just amazing how the near decade old HD650 40mm drivers still outslams the bigger dynamic drivers in terms of sheer impact (abeit the AT’s 700MKII and ES10) and musicality (HD800)… like you’ve said the Sennheiser geniuses chose musicality over technicalities… too bad I’d like to have both to cycle around some times

                      omgosh im going all sennheiser all over again… there’s going to be a sennheiser corner, real soon

      • Reply September 18, 2012

        Nick Tam

        I think my comment disappeared or something…

        Well hence the “hypothetical” bit, I can’t afford to dish out $900 for a new pair of HD700, but maybe a pair of 2nd hand HD800 around here 😉

        You just have to love the local headfi community around here, people that buy flagships but don’t have the amplification to go with them : 2nd hand new stock trades are pretty common in Hong Kong, a pair of 2nd hand HD600s went for $150 yesterday in the local forums…

  • Reply September 19, 2012

    Ekawit Jaithiang

    Hi Mike! I own TF10 (with Oyaide HPC-UE Cable) and D-Zero for a while and wanna know what if it compares to Westone W4R. Is it worth to change?

    • Reply September 29, 2012

      Nick Tam

      Looks like an unanswered question… so here:

      TF10: Classic Jerry Harvey sound, you get that addictive bass slamming of the dual low drivers so it plays very well with pop and rock.

      W4R: You get a more generic frequency curve and tuning, you should be able to look up other reviews and see it for yourself. But in general, the W4 is comparatively more linear but isn’t neutral compared to the UM series. Weighty bass since it uses dual lows, but you don’t get that addictive slam. Better extended highs

      All boils down to your music preferences since the TF10 still holds it own pretty well against the other quads and triple BAs, would think twice about the upgrade. If you want an upgrade, I may suggest the IE8 or ASG-1 over the W4.

  • Reply September 20, 2012

    Sunand Jose

    Hi Mike
    I would like to know about best bass head can from Ultrasone or Beyerdynamic brands upto $250 range. and what is the best brand between them? i like clarity with slightly over powered bass sound.plz give some recommendations from you ..

    • Reply September 20, 2012

      Nick Tam

      I’ve got no experience with Ultrasone but with Beyer, their clarity is undeniable. But usually, “clarity” translates to bumped up treble so it’s actually quite fatiguing to listen to at times. Ultrasone are known more for their S-Logic giving you a very musical SQ and artificial sound stage. Bass wise, they’re probably not what you’re looking for. The Beyer has a V-Shape curve so may be a better choice. Be warned, this is based on more objective perspectives. Does not necessarily mean that the bass is detailed in particular (more from in depth reviews and personal experience)

      • Reply September 20, 2012

        Sunand Jose

        Hi Nick,
        how about DT 770 PRO 80 OHMS?

        • Reply September 20, 2012

          Nick Tam

          About time I hit the stores for another listening session… although I think the sort of bass you’re looking for is the clean, deep orthodynamic type, hifiman like :

        • Reply September 20, 2012

          Mike

          The DT770 Pro 80 ohms is good with clarity and the bass is good too. I wouldn’t say it’s a bass head cans.

          I don’t know what exactly are you looking for, because bass head cans implies big, huge bass, and usually those headphones are not known for clarity.

  • Reply September 20, 2012

    Dave McBride

    Hi,
    Looking for a portable or ultra portable to use with my laptop. Would like some isolation since I would use them in a library & would not want sound to leak and annoy others. Not real picky on other features, would be listening to videos and non-critical music. Already have Ultrasone DJ-1 Pro for home and they are awesome.

  • Reply September 22, 2012

    Moo

    Hi, so I got my PS Audio Digital Link III DAC, and I really love it! I’ve been using Fidelia lately for my Lossless library, so what settings should I have it on? Should it be dithering? How about resampling through iZotope, as the PS already resamples?!!

    Thank you again!

  • Reply September 22, 2012

    Moo

    Never mind, I got the trial of Audirvana+ and like it far more. The other one crashed every other second.

    • Reply September 24, 2012

      Mike

      Alright Moo.. the Audirvana+ you got, is it the one with Beta DM version?

      • Reply September 26, 2012

        Moo

        It is now! I upgraded my ram to 12GB and everything works fine. I will hopefully buy it when I have money!

        • Reply September 26, 2012

          Moo

          The only thing I really don’t like with Audirvana+ is that you can’t have it monitor a folder. Is there any program for mac that can?

          • Reply September 27, 2012

            Moo

            I’m sure I don’t need it, but it’s nice to have, it makes the computer run so much faster!

            I want to like Fidelia, and in some ways I do. I just wish you could use the keyboard play button on it. Also, what’s the dither, and metering point, in the settings?

            Thanks!

        • Reply September 26, 2012

          Mike

          Are you sure you need 12GBs? My laptop only runs 4GB and Audirvana is working fine.

  • Reply September 23, 2012

    ryan

    Hi Mike…which amp would you choose to pair with the Sennheiser HD650? WA6 or Lafigaro 339?

    • Reply September 23, 2012

      Nick Tam

      They’re both tuned very well for the high-Z HD650. Mike did the WA6 review and L. the LF339 so he can’t give you a direct comparison. One thing for sure that these are moderate paced amps good for Jazz, Classical and Audiophile vocal. The LF339 is probably slightly more thicker than the WA6.

      LF339 is a OTL amp design so it’s not as good for low Z gear. The sound characteristics could be described as warm, lively with good deep bass.

      WA6 is (probably) somewhat cleaner sounding, but still very rich.

      I don’t think anyone can give you a straight answer since neither Mike or L. has A-Bed them but from their description they’re probably similar in sound. I’ve only tried the LF339 myself, although I might happen to just go for a spin on the WA6 when I get the chance down at the stores.

      Other considerations:
      LF339: Lower cost (w/ stock tubes). More tubes to roll however the price of two higher quality NOS 6AS7 and 6J4P family of tubes prices are still lower than that of a single rare 274B rectifier tube used on the WA6. The Sophia Electric 274B tube available as an upgrade option for the WA6 however is good enough given the price, just depends on how much are you willing to spend on the rolling. Rolling in higher quality tubes could improve soundstage depth, detail and probably even out the frequency curve to suit your tastes. However I would like the LF339 with a general warm and darker sound.
      The LF339 is OTL so I would take it over the WA6 if I were listening exclusively to the High-Z Senns. Dual mono design may be good or bad to some but I won’t be bothered too much and I see it as a plus if the tubes are unbalanced.

      (The LF339 comes with Chinese NOS tubes that I’d definitely swap out immediately)

      WA6: Higher cost. Rolling in a good 274B tube could further improve soundstage depth and overall detail. Transformer coupled so it could drive low-Z cans as well.

      From the preference of sound, I do think they’re similar. Cost wise though, if you include rolling the stock tubes of the LF339 the two amps may as well as be roughly the same price with the shipping costs. Also if you’re just going to stick with the Senns HD650 I would lean towards the LF339.

      • Reply September 23, 2012

        L.

        Exactly. If you only have the HD650 go 339 or Crack. If you have lower impedance headphones too, go WA6.

        • Reply September 24, 2012

          Trent_D

          I’m wondering if you don’t get more questions on what to do with the HD650 on this site than anything else. I really want to hear these headphones.

          • Reply September 24, 2012

            L.

            That’s cause the HD650 to Mike and myself, is still a world class headphone. They can be found pretty cheap 2nd hand from people crazy enough to sell them. I got mine in new state for $200 🙂

            • Reply September 24, 2012

              Nick Tam

              Only crazy people forgot to buy one of those awesome amps to drive them 😉

              • Reply September 24, 2012

                Trent_D

                From my understanding though, you can get a musical sound out of the hd600/650 with a simple cMoy amp. Those are but 60 dollars. Not that you would be in danger of revieling their full potential, but that should be enough to tide you over until you could get a Crack, Pan Am, LF 339, WA6 or something along those lines.

                • Reply September 24, 2012

                  Nick Tam

                  Thing is people disappoint themselves feeling the HD600/650 is overrated when really they don’t have enough power to drive them to their full potential and switch to something easier to drive and conclude that they sound better so they sell off their brand new Senns. Actually HD650 rarely goes up on the 2nd hand forums here, but it’s one of the only two reasons people sell them. Either they can’t drive or have moved on. I’m sticking with them for awhile

                  • Reply September 24, 2012

                    Trent_D

                    But if I was going to spend hundreds of dollars on something, I would know what I was getting myself into first. You would think someone buying the HD6XX would know they need a good amp to drive them properly, although, being that the asgard or the Crack can do that…

                    • September 24, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      Some people just don’t. The Asgard has great synergy and isn’t too bad for price if you need to budget another $250 for an amplifier after finding out you can’t drive the HD600 to sound good with anything in the sub $250 range. And then there’s the HD650 which many people seem to fail to appreciate the tube amps which really make it shine and fall down to the HD600 because the only amps they think pair well with the HD650 are those ones which costs big bucks.

                      And after all that they then realize that driving out from the lineout of an iPod isn’t nearly sufficient and would consider getting an iMod or MSII, Audinist MX-1 at the very least.

                    • September 24, 2012

                      Mike

                      We should form a HD650 official fan club over here.

                    • September 24, 2012

                      L.

                      I dare you! 😉

                    • September 24, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      I’ll join! Don’t have one, but I do so love joining fan clubs!

                    • September 25, 2012

                      L.

                      I’m actually thinking of doing it. A pic of you and the HD650 is required to join 😀

                    • September 25, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      So, you are discriminating against me because I don’t have a HD650? That really hurts!

                    • September 25, 2012

                      L.

                      No I’m encouraging you to get one 😉

                    • September 25, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      A lack of encouragement isn’t why I don’t own one…

                    • September 25, 2012

                      L.

                      I know, I should have expressed myself better

                    • September 25, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      I’m sorry. I intended that to be a jokier response. I didn’t intend for it to sound as whiny.

                    • September 28, 2012

                      George Lai

                      Mike, Lieven, thanks to you guys and your addictive website I should, no have, no must, get a HD 650 too. Here’s a challenge – please recommend your best 2 amps in each price class (up to USD 100, USD101-200, USD201-300, USD301-500) that pairs well with the HD650. Only one rule – no amp can be named twice. Cheers.

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      Here we go again…

                      I honestly want to say that the Crack rulz anything under 500USD and now that I think about it, I don’t want to listen to anything else other than it even if it’s cheaper. If I were to say…

                      <100USD: CMoy BB with dual power supply and a nice OPAMP rolled in, very fun sounding and the bass boost can further give the Senns the unnecessary yet irresistibly fun bass. Try PA2V2 or other options in this price range would be to DIY a amplifier. Seriously.

                      <200USD: Uber Muzik TTD (OEM: Racoon SG300), the amp section works pretty well on this one, doubles as a DAC. Other options would be the Audinst Amp-HP although you'd need to roll in a good OPAMP as well to get better synergy out of it. This price range is kind of sparsely populated. The Fiio E17 kind of loses out here.

                      <300USD. Crack. The stock Crack, even with stock tubes blowout everything else as the Asgard doesn't quite have the synergy with the 650 as it does with the 600. Unless you have DIY, the LaFigaro 336 is the other option in this price bracket.

                      <500USD. Honestly I would want to say Crack. Only thing left here is the Schiit Valhalla which is technically inferior to the Crack. In this case you might want to try the LaFigaro 332. Or the Crack with Speedball kit…

                      I think I've mentioned this before somewhere but the <1k price range is a huge mess in terms of price/performance with the Crack in the mix. And technically, the Crack is my preferred option because it scales up further itself if you tube roll and swap out the capacitors and a few things to make it a very capable 500-700 dollar amp. My Crack is valued somewhere around $800 with the nice tubes and component upgrades I threw in. I hate to say it but Doc. B is a complete genius. I would even consider the Smack if I had to drive something bigger

                    • September 28, 2012

                      George Lai

                      Thanks once again Nick.

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      The Pan Am is also suppose to be quite nice with the HD650. And, I think this website is already a HD650 fan club!

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      Problem with the PanAm is that you MUST get it with the Passport putting it in the $800 with only stock tubes, although consider it a DacPort LX bundled into it so you’re really talking about a $500 worth of amp I guess?

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Mike

                      Yes, about $500 worth of amp. It’s quite a nice amp for $500, actually.

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Mike

                      HD650 fan club? *ouch*

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      ^I second that. *ouch*…

                      you just undid all of Mike and L’s work on headfonia…

                    • September 29, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      I didn’t mean to do that. I will banish myself.

                    • September 29, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      Eh… actually, I’m the root of all evil here lol

                    • September 29, 2012

                      L.

                      you guys both should, as punishment, get at least 50 members each for the HD650 Fanclub 😉

                    • September 30, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      I’ll see what I can do.

                    • September 30, 2012

                      Hai Nguyen

                      lol.what did I miss? you guys’re talking about the hd 650 here and I didn’t notice.

                    • September 30, 2012

                      L.

                      Visit more often :p

                    • September 30, 2012

                      Hai Nguyen

                      I tried to avoid you guys since my wallet hates this site so much especially you L with your v200 review :p

                    • September 30, 2012

                      L.

                      Don’t blame me, blame Violectric 😀

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      Do seriously give the Uber Muzik Tiny Tube DAC v3 a try though since you’re based in Singapore, it’s probably one of the funnest amp to go with the high-Z Senns!

                    • September 29, 2012

                      George Lai

                      Something to aim for this weekend 😉

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Mike

                      Lol if no amp can be named twice then I have nothing else to add.

                    • September 28, 2012

                      L.

                      E10, C421, Crack. that covers the $500 limit for me

                    • September 29, 2012

                      George Lai

                      Crack seems everywhere, no pun intended. Must get some crack, again no pun intended. Thanks, Lieven

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Burju

                      Mike and Lieven,-looking at the love and admiration for HD650-perspective, would you give a brief confession….lol ….of your own journey of listening through all those headphones from the lowest quality to the most expensive ones? Would anybody just go back to that one precious one (just like your HD650’s admiration) that they love the most? Instead of favoring the LCD 2 or Stax 009 or even HD700-750…lol-HD800.
                      Considering you have listened to all those headphones. I want to know that even if you own LCD 2-3 or Stax09 or Orpheus-one and HD650, but you are still drawn back to your lovely HD650, for example.
                      Is this just our ears adjusting more to HD650 sound Or a love match between your ears and your favorite headphone? And your ears pick HD650 over those expensive ones.
                      On your “what I have learned, two…..” you give a suggestion, my question here will be, after you have experience

                    • September 28, 2012

                      L.

                      I’m not sure what you are asking but for me when I was in my early teen years I had this headphone I absolutely loved (I can’t remember what it was). Unfortunately that headphone got lost over the years and for years I have been looking for a headphone sounding like how I remembered that lost headphone. When I first heard the Sennheiser HD600 I knew I was close so I also bought the HD650. The HD650 sounded like my lost headphone and ever since, 20 years after loosing the headphone, I have been in love. I’m not saying the Sennheiser HD650 is the best headphone ever, but to me it’s something more personal that still makes it one of my favs. Of course the HD650 really is a top headphone since it was launched 10 years ago. It scales up great and really deserves a spot among the best. I don’t know what Mike’s story is about the HD650, maybe he’ll share it too.

                      The journey of all my gear is a bit long to tell but maybe I’ll write a blog post on my greatest “WOW” moments 🙂

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Burju

                      Thank you Lieven for the enlightment, sorry for not presenting it clearly on my question but you hit it dead center, as I mentioned on my reply above to Mike’s, that personal feeling, to have had a chance to listen to that ONE favorite headphone, is always there in our mind (no matter what we have done and what we are going to go to through on our journey listening to headphones). It really is personal. it defies what other thinks or what measurement-it provides, in front of us. Some of us are still searching to find or to replicate that sound signature we love in today’s headphones. Some have found it. I am yet to have a chance to listen to HD650. I have a feeling I am going to love it too. Those years of owning HD650, albeit new headphones come and go, you are still in love with it, this shows respect and honesty so humanly in this digital world. Funny that we spent enormous efforts o replicate that analog sound in today’s digital world.
                      It will be a great reading and learning to me when you are finally write down the journey, Lieven. Looking forward to it.
                      I really appreciate you.

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Mike

                      Me,
                      I just follow my ears. It’s been quite a journey. Some headphones are better at certain points, some are worse, but at the moment I just think that the HD650 is what my ears like best. It’s funny because when I started the whole headphone hobby thing, I had a listen to the 650 twice and I couldn’t understand what the sound is all about.

                      Running a review site, I always get suspicious responses whenever I talk about my personal favorite. I guess it’s a good thing that Senn is not a Headfonia sponsor. AND Analog Head doesn’t sell the HD650 (we only sell the cheap $10 Senn earbuds).

                      How me and Lieven both loves the HD650, is a pure coincidence. It would probably be better for the site if Lieven is for instance, a Beyerdynamic fan since that’ll balance things out (for giving recommendations and such). But we just happen to love the HD650. Pure coincidence.

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      Put it this way, the Sennheiser sound just does bass the way everyone just loves it. If you needed something with clarity, we’re spoilt for choice other than the Beyer sound.

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Mike

                      The bass the way everyone just loves it. That’s true. Although I don’t mean literally everyone.

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Burju

                      Thanks Mike for the enlightment. Mostly we have had at least 10-15 years of headphones-listening journey. This confirms my view on our journey of headphones. Marketing gimmicks, new technologies and new products are great to look for but when we just have that quite moment, yearning to listen to our favorite songs, we reach out to our most favorite headphone most of the time, the sound signature has already drilled in our ears for quite sometimes. Yes, our ears pick the favorite love one. I am still learning a lot from your great contributions to us here at headfonia. Cheers to our ears.

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Mike

                      You’re welcome Burju.

                      I think the progress in technology is real and can’t be denied. But at the end of the day, the new is not necessarily always better than the old.

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Burju

                      Amen to that Mike.

                    • September 29, 2012

                      Mike

                      Lol.. few days ago I just played the HRT MS2+ > Crack > HD650.. still one of the best set up you can get for the HD650.

                    • September 29, 2012

                      Burju

                      Mike, lucky you.
                      Stop teasing us with that proven setup, please…….that pokes our vulnerable wallets constantly….lol
                      Interestingly enough, to see if HRT MS2 or plus would be a good match with my Continental + HE400?
                      Next journey perhaps, Burju, so I say, to have Mike’s setup above. Hide wallet…..hide

                    • September 28, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      Still holds true for the decade year old Senns HD6xx series

                    • September 29, 2012

                      Burju

                      Nick, meaning for the lovingly best headphone?
                      I have no doubt about it.

                    • September 28, 2012

                      L.

                      Like this: https://www.facebook.com/SennheiserHd650
                      😀

                      Spread the word!

                    • September 29, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      uh-oh…

                    • September 29, 2012

                      Mike

                      Just did. 😉

      • Reply September 24, 2012

        ryan

        Thx alot for the info…currently using the vestamp…listening at max volume but seems to be underpower…..it’s time for a desktop amp….hahaha

      • Reply September 24, 2012

        ryan

        what about the wa3? graham slee srgII?

        • Reply September 24, 2012

          Nick Tam

          I can only think of 3 6AS7 based OTL amps (minus the LF339) and that is the Crack, LF336 and WA3. Amongst those 3 6AS7 OTL amps, I’d say Crack>WA3>LF336. Crack has the better sound, WA3 with superior build quality and LF336 for affordability. Also consider their prices, Crack has the best price/performance ratio (provided your build is good)

          Graham Slee Solo SRGII is like an SS version of a tube amp. However, it is playing in a much higher price bracket. Mike could give you a more direct comparison of the GS and Crack. The WA3 and LF336 hasn’t been reviewed here so it’s hard to say.

          I could audition all the amps mentioned if I want to but I don’t have the time to :

          • Reply September 25, 2012

            ryan

            @nick…thx again for the info…
            @mike…where do you buy the tubes? online?

            • Reply September 25, 2012

              L.

              Local stores or online if you can trust the seller

            • Reply September 26, 2012

              Mike

              Friends usually get them from ebay.

            • Reply September 26, 2012

              Nick Tam

              There are some reputable online sellers, other “online” sellers would be those from eBay. Always look for eBay sellers with refund option. For me, sometimes I’ll scout out eBay for tubes but at the same time there’s quite a lot of local sellers here with rare tubes not usually found online. Depends where you live, don’t know about you though, because Hong Kong has a large budding audiophile community

  • Reply September 24, 2012

    Psycho

    Hi Mike and L, did you by any chance will review musiland product? (dragon series 01, 02, 03)

    I hear they available in indonesia and offer great value as DAC and amp
    thanks 🙂

    • Reply September 24, 2012

      Nick Tam

      The musiland 02 has been reviewed long ago.
      http://www.headfonia.com/musiland-02-24192-for-120/

      The difference with the Dragon version I believe is support for higher bitrates and USB 3.0 input.

      The musiland series have been around for quite awhile, you may want to look at some of the newer DAC/Amps.

  • Reply September 25, 2012

    Aric Ross

    mike,
    what happend to the links page? there were a few similar to your site, can we have a list of those links again?

  • Reply September 26, 2012

    ryan

    i am still undecided which OTL to get as all of them have to be imported in….
    probably i will have to settle on a SS amp instead and those available locally in Indonesia….burson HD160ds, centrance dac mini, SRGII + dacport lx? which one for HD650?

    • Reply September 26, 2012

      Nick Tam

      SRGII+LX, the synergy is simply better for the slow Senns, with the HA 160 is more faster paced. Practicality wise, DS is a good all-in-one solution. DAC mini is more neutral and good at picking up minute details but less musical than the LX.

      More on the 3 different DACs in Mike’s reviews, but amongst these 3, I would go for the SRGII since you still have the option of upgrading the LX if you want to. The Solo SRGII is pretty high on the mid-fi range of amps.

      • Reply October 1, 2012

        ryan

        Got the SRGII…

        • Reply October 1, 2012

          Nick Tam

          enjoy!

          • Reply October 7, 2012

            ryan

            i am unsure whether to continue using the vestamp internal dac or getting the dacport lx…….:)

        • Reply October 2, 2012

          Mike

          Enjoy, Ryan!

  • Reply September 27, 2012

    Nick Tam

    Now that I think about it, why didn’t anyone before want a iBasso DX100 review, or even mention it?

    • Reply September 27, 2012

      L.

      Because it is expensive for everyone, we even had to pay to review it. and then we kind of “forgot”. But we have one now from a friend and we will be reviewing it!

      • Reply September 27, 2012

        Nick Tam

        Yey finally…! Been seeing loads of people juggling between the old HM801 and the DX100, and it seems that DX100 reviews aren’t that abundant. Still pondering how the superior DX100 loses out to the older HM801, probably guessing the HM801 just sounds better for most of the crowd.

        It’s kind of insane to think that it is now the Chinese that produce the highest end DAPs… that are massively good to our ears as well :O

        • Reply September 28, 2012

          L.

          I fully agree. Companies like Fiio and Hifiman really listen to the customers. There are some new players coming as well, like the X3 from Fiio in December. Can’t wait!

  • Reply September 28, 2012

    ryan

    I just got to know something new about the vestamp, yesterday when it is connected to the laptop through usb…i accidentally plug my hp into the line IN socket of the amp and found out there is sound output from it….but the volume cannot be adjusted from the amp itself…does anyone knows if this is a line output from the amp?

    • Reply September 28, 2012

      Mike

      Hmm… I’m not so sure about that. Perhaps the way the amplifier is wired internally. You may want to ask the manufacturer. Are you talking about Jaben’s Vestamp?

      • Reply September 28, 2012

        ryan

        Yup, jaben’s vestamp…even the amp is off…there is still sound output from it…

        • Reply September 29, 2012

          Mike

          Ryan,
          That’s probably just the way the amp is wired. I wouldn’t worry about it.

          • Reply September 29, 2012

            ryan

            I am not worry about it. If it is really a line output, i could use it with a future desktop amp…don’t really need to buy am external dac…

  • Reply September 28, 2012

    Christopher Tawney

    I am in the market for a headphone, amp, and DAC combination. I currently have a couple pairs of okay headphones that I just run out of my Macbook Pro but I really want to upgrade. I mainly listen to indie, alternative rock, punk, classic rock, and classical (I know the last one really throws of the equation). I am not a basshead and rarely listen to anything but the occasional rap album, so that’s not essential to me. I was thinking about the Grado SR325i’s but they are just to uncomfortable on my head. I am thinking about Sennheiser HD600’s HRT Musicstreamer ii, and maybe the Schiit Asgard but I am concerned the Asgard won’t keep up with my music. Any suggestions of what may be a better setup?

  • Reply September 28, 2012

    L.

    The HD650 fan club us here 😀
    https://www.facebook.com/SennheiserHd650

  • Reply September 29, 2012

    Bob

    Don’t know how I missed this section. Going to repost some questions I had earlier.

    I am new to the market and my budget isn’t large, $300 and hopefully less. I am looking for a good Hi-Fi that is versatile for a good range and decent vocals but a good enough contender that clearly stands on its own as audiophile grade.

    So far the Philips Fidelio L1 has been pointed out as versatility with a wide range of music. I don’t mind a strong bass but I do wonder if I should be concerned as I won’t be getting an amp to neuter it.

    Good range on the VModa M-80 has also been cited here. Finally I got a sterling review on the Pioneer SE-MJ591 but it seems like is barely mentioned around much.

    Based purely on looking for a good overall listening experience to rediscover a music library (rock, pop, indie, celtic, instrumentals, hip hop, the whole works really but I’m not hung up on bass) and leaning towards closed rather than open and a sub $300 price, would you recommend any of the above or another headphone entirely?

    Any direction would be appreciated.
    Thanks in advance,

    Sean P.

    • Reply September 29, 2012

      Nick Tam

      Consider the HD25-II, M80 isn’t bad but it’s more of a semi-open design. M50 gives you a wider genre bandwidth. Still thinking of what’s good 4 u

      • Reply September 29, 2012

        Mike

        Thanks Nick. Didn’t see your reply when I replied to Bob.

        • Reply September 30, 2012

          Bob

          No worries Mike, more than one opinion is great! From what I understand the leak isn’t too bad on the Fidelio (I don’t play loud either). Barring that aside would you still put the HD25-1 ahead despite the older driver?

          (*I assuming you guys are referring the same phones even though you named them slightly different?)

          • Reply October 2, 2012

            Mike

            Bob,
            Headphones are funny. While driver quality wise I think the Fidelio is superior (sound is cleaner, less grain among other things), apparently the crowd (at leas the one I know) generally still prefer the HD25-1.

    • Reply September 29, 2012

      Mike

      Sean,
      The V-Moda should fit the bill pretty well. The Fidelio is good but open back (leaks sound). Another one you may want to check out is the Sennheiser HD25-1 ($200 in Amazon.com) Very popular.

  • Reply September 29, 2012

    Isaiah Mackler

    I asked a question on the Yulong U100 thread, too. What is your current budget recommendation ($300 or so) for desktop/transportable dac/amp? Right now, I have an O2, but I kind of plan on selling it. I’m ok w/ either separate dac/amp or combined. Running the HD600 (office) and HD650 (home)…

  • Reply September 30, 2012

    Remus

    Hey Mike, whats your camera setup? Are you using a light box/light tent for your headphone/amp pictures?

    • Reply October 2, 2012

      Mike

      Remus,
      No I don’t own a light box. For the soft light set ups, I usually use a single, very large octagonal softbox from Profoto (my other job is a studio photographer so I have plenty of lights).

      For the white background stuff, usually I need 2-3 lights to get the light evenly white to the background.

      Sometimes I mix them with hard lights as well.

      If you want to learn more I’d be happy to tell you how I did a particular shot. Just let me know which image.

      • Reply October 2, 2012

        Remus

        Yes I would be most delighted! Lets say…the open back Shures (black blackground) and the triple JH one (white background). Two of my favourite pics and I especially love the triple AT one:)
        Both of my main hobbies are photography and audio too, and I feel you, two ultra expensive hobbies always means an empty wallet (and stomach) for me 😉

        • Reply October 3, 2012

          Mike

          The Shures: One softbox. Light is a little to the left, and a bit low (about waist height). Positioning is key with one softbox shots, so you have to move the softboxes around (hopefully you have an assistant) while watching the effect changes on the product. Even 10cm can make a difference.

          ATH Triple: likewise single softbox. Center, top position (about 20-30cm above the product). Take single shots of each headphones, composite in Photoshop. Retouch any reflections (you’re bound to have reflections especially on the dark-glossy W3000ANV).

          JH Triple: You definitely need a light for the background. Doesn’t matter if you use hard reflector or a soft box, just a good even light for the background. Don’t set the background light too strong so you won’t get 255-255-255 white background. Add a hard light for the foreground so you can pick up details on the foreground. Foreground light should be coming from a top angle shooting down on the products. Use some reflectors (I use styrofoam) to make the BA drivers shiny.

          • Reply October 11, 2012

            Remus

            Hey Mike, sorry for the late reply. Im not a professional, I dont have a studio/studio equipment but I do have flashguns and can purchase some lamps/softboxes if necessary. I can get my brother to be a makeshift assistant. I would be shooting in my home, so what do I need to purchase to get similar set ups as yours?
            Secondly, I dont understand what you mean by using a light for the background. Does that mean that the customs were lying on a light or softbox? I do have experience in photography but very new in lighting. I mainly do outdoor shooting which I use mainly natural light. Thanks once again, Mike.

            • Reply October 11, 2012

              Mike

              Flashguns, I don’t recommend. They never give a natural look. I’d rather use standard household light bulbs, shoot hi ISO or low ISO + tripod.

              Custom JH shot: I hang them on a platform by the cables. The background is a wall. The products 1-2 meters off the wall. Use a light to illuminate the background.

        • Reply October 3, 2012

          Mike

          If I may add something…

          The set ups are usually very simple. What’s important is for you to be familiar with setting up light angles, directions, how high you should place it, how far to the left/right, how much tilt, etc. There is no formula book for this. The best way to learn lighting is:

          Examine natural light. Like really examine. Sunrise, sunsets, good old incandescent lights, directional lights (ie car headlights, spotlights). Watch how a particular natural light shapes an object. Go out to a cafe close to sunset, take a headphone with you, put the headphone on the table (outdoor). Move the headphone around, rotate it, see how the light on the headphone changes as you move the angle around (the sun being relatively still). Take shots in between to observe how the camera captures light.

  • Reply September 30, 2012

    George Lai

    This is not a question. I just want to put on record that this website is something I turn to every day, sometimes more than once a day, and even re-reading articles back to 2009 is refreshing. Well done, Mike and the gang.

    • Reply September 30, 2012

      L.

      Thanks George, it’s nice to see our work get appreciated 🙂

    • Reply October 2, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks, George. 🙂

    • Reply October 3, 2012

      ryan

      I keep checking everyday if there is something new in review…:)

      • Reply October 3, 2012

        L.

        later or tomorrow 😉

  • Reply October 1, 2012

    Marc_D26

    Hi Mike, will you review the 2 new and latest portable DAC + Amps: RSA Intruder and TTVJ Apex Glacier? They both seem to be on the equal level of SQ as the ALO RX-Mk3B, with added DAC functionality though which is good.

    Will you also review the balanced circlotron SS amp: Schiit Mjolnir? It seems an interesting product with positive impressions on Head-Fi.

    Thanks 🙂

    • Reply October 2, 2012

      Mike

      Marc,
      We probably will be getting the RSA Intruder. I will check on the TTVJ Apex Glacier. The Schitt it’s a bit hard to get.

      • Reply October 2, 2012

        Marc_D26

        Thanks Mike, I will look forward to the RSA Intruder then 🙂
        The TTVJ Apex Glacier is said to be improvement/upgrade from the TTVJ Slim with included 24/96 DAC now on.

        • Reply October 3, 2012

          Mike

          You’re welcome, Marc.

  • Reply October 3, 2012

    StryderJin

    Hello,
    I’m somewhat new to the higher quality headphone thing and have been really enjoying it. For my mobile use I have a pair of Etymotic HF3 with custom molds and a pair of Sennheiser HD 558, with the foam mod, for use at home.

    I have yet to purchase an amp for use with the HD 558’s though. I’m not interested in breaking the bank but I can’t decide what to do. I’m thinking mainly of using a desktop amplifier because I don’t intend to travel with the HD 558 and don’t feel the HF3’s need it. However a friend of mine has the JDS Labs Cmoy and I like the way it sounds while on DC wall power. I’m wondering however if the Fiio E09K, the E9 successor, would be a better choice for home listening.

    My source is the line out on my iPhone 4S using AAC 256 VBR encoding all the way up to ALAC.

    • Reply October 3, 2012

      Nick Tam

      consider the audinist amp hp as well, personally i dont fancy fiio other than the e17 and e10 as the e9 series is a circuit jumbled with OPAMPs and doesn’t actually sound better whenever it is paired with the e7/e17

    • Reply October 3, 2012

      Mike

      I would get the JDSLabs Cmoy. They are brilliant with the Senns, and the Ety HF5 (haven’t tried it with the HF3).

      • Reply October 4, 2012

        StryderJin

        Thanks so much for the quick reply, this website is really great. I’ve decided to go with the Cmoy as it appears to offer the best bang for the buck by far. If I ever have any more questions regarding headphones and amps I know where to turn. Thanks again!

        • Reply October 4, 2012

          Mike

          You’re welcome!

  • Reply October 3, 2012

    hed fong

    Howdy, which portable amp would pair better with the grado ps 500, the ttvj slim or the alo national? Any other suggestions? Thanks.

    • Reply October 3, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Hed,
      Sorry I didn’t have a chance to use either amps with the PS500. If you look at the gear used list for the PS500, I used a lot of desktop amps and USB DAC/Amps like the Fiio E10.

      http://www.headfonia.com/the-new-grado-sound-grado-ps500/2/

      I think either the TTVJ Slim or the National should do well with the PS500 though.

      • Reply October 4, 2012

        hed fong

        thank you for the reply boss mike. do you have a slight preference on either the slim or the national for the grado ps 500?

        i currently have a jds cmoy with the low z setting, would either of the mentioned amps portray a huge improvement over the cmoy?

        thanks

        • Reply October 4, 2012

          Mike

          First please don’t call me boss mike. 😉

          I’m a big fan of the National at the moment, even compared to its bigger brother the National. I just love having plenty of bass body and the National gives me that. So if you ask me for my preference, then that’s that.

          Yes the improvement would be evident over a Cmoy. I compared the National to the JDSLabs C421 and I took the National every single time. Please read the National review and you’ll see.

  • Reply October 5, 2012

    Eric Thompson

    Hey I got 2 recommendation questions. First I’m looking for a desk top amp and DAC. Right now the only thing I have is a Fiio E17. I want something fairly compact with preferably only 1 wall outlet plug. I’m thinking either a combo DAC/AMP or an amp that would pair well with the Headstage USB DAC cable or the MS2 or the MS2+ down the road. It is not so much dimensions compact as it is simple, I move around a lot and the less things connected to other things with cords the better.

    I originally wanted a Full tube amp but I am having trouble finding a good tube amp in my price range. I thought the schiit vahalla would be great but then I read your review and some others and id probably go with the asgaurd and then I would have money for a DAC but then thats not a tube?

    I thought about the Audinst HUD-mx1 but I think its to similar to my E17 and I could get something better.

    I have Shure SE215’s and the SRH840, DT770 Pro 80ohm, HD238 and Denon D5000’s which are by far my favorite, and I’m planning on getting the HD25-1 and an open pair.

    • Reply October 5, 2012

      Nick Tam

      Asgard> Solid State
      Valhalla> OTL Tube

      I’d say that the Valhalla may not be a good match due to its brighter sound, there aren’t many good tube amps in that sort of price range but if you don’t mind Chinese build, LaFigaro 336 may be a good alternative. Although it isn’t exactly “compact”. You may also want to try the hybrid Uber Muzik TTDv3/Racoon SG300 if you can get one in your area as it combines the smooth tube midrange sound with good price although it doesn’t work well with IEMs and most low impedance gear. And yes, the Audinist products kind of falls into the same price range so consider something higher up.

      Perhaps try the Fostex HP-A8 or Dacport? They have a small footprint although I would only buy them if I’m not planning on running an external amp and wanted a DAC/Amp combo. Also falls neatly into the price range of a Valhalla+DAC combo.

      • Reply October 5, 2012

        Mike

        Fostex HP-A3 you mean? HP-A8 is very expensive.

        • Reply October 5, 2012

          Nick Tam

          yup got that mixed up… d’oh…

          • Reply October 6, 2012

            Eric Thompson

            I was thinking asgard+MS2 or DACport LX If I went solid state, but I wish the asgard had a digital in

            • Reply October 6, 2012

              Nick Tam

              Asgard is purely an amp so it shouldn’t have digital in.

      • Reply October 5, 2012

        Eric Thompson

        Hmm I could get the 336… I looked at the 339 reviewed here but it was a little to much $.

    • Reply October 5, 2012

      Mike

      I think you’re in a difficult spot there. First I’m not aware of any good desktop tube with built in DACs. Hifiman has the EF-1/EF-2 and I think one of them comes with a USB DAC (can’t remember which), but I can’t say abou the sound other than they are decent. Maverick audio also has an affordable desktop DAC/Amp with tube but the sound doesn’t blow me away.

      What’s your budget anyway? If you can reach for the ALO Pan Am (just the Pan Am without the upgraded PSUs) it’s $599. Otherwise, I say go for solid state like the Matrix Mini Portable for ~$300.

      • Reply October 5, 2012

        Eric Thompson

        I could maybe get the Pan Am, that would be the top of my budget, I didn’t consider it as I couldn’t really afford the PSU with it. It’s still ok without it?

        It doesn’t have to be built in if the DAC is small and runs on USB.

  • Reply October 5, 2012

    Eric Thompson

    Second question. I have been looking for awhile for a pair of open back headphones that I would like but most of them are pretty light on bass so I want a pair with good bass but then what I have noticed is that most of them are really dark? HD600, HE400, LCD-2?

    I listen to mainly rock, metal and electronic which would be cool if they worked well but I will probably use these to listen to softer stuff, vocals and strings but not really classical. I would really like to try the HD600’s but I don’t think they would be clear and detailed enough. The LCD-2 would be the most I would spend but is there something cheaper I could get? or should I just wait and save for the LCD-2?

    • Reply October 5, 2012

      Nick Tam

      Why not Grado?

      • Reply October 5, 2012

        Mike

        Everybody should try a Grado, but these days most people I know always complain on the lack of bass.

        • Reply October 5, 2012

          Eric Thompson

          Actually I forgot to mention in the Amp post im planning on getter a 225i or 125i whenever my wallet recovers from the amp.

    • Reply October 5, 2012

      L.

      650 is dark, I’d suggest the 600. It’s a bit more neutral, faster, more aggressive and doesn’t have the bass impact from the 650. For the LCD-2 you would need a good amp and based on your other question (about amps) your budget doesn’t cut that. So why not a 600 with a Crack 😀

      • Reply October 5, 2012

        Eric Thompson

        Hmmm the LCD-2 really needs a $800+ amp? I thought about the crack but I sorta wanna open up the box and try it out not build the thing first?

        Iv always wanted to walk around town with LCD-2’s or even HD800’s and a National or continental or a Headstage Arrow? That little guy has some power. I spouse I could WALK around town with the Pan Am lol.

        I was worried about the 600’s because everyone seems to like the 650’s, id like the extra bass but not at the expense of the speed and details.

        So HD600’s or HE400? What about the HE-500? or the 5 or 5LE?

        • Reply October 5, 2012

          Nick Tam

          HD600 with Crack is killer combo. Crack can’t drive the hifiman and lcd-2/3 orthos, but you can with those solid state portables you’ve mentioned.

        • Reply October 5, 2012

          L.

          I wouldn’t be looking at Hifiman (except for the HE400) unless your amp has some serious power. HE-400 is a good allrounder

          • Reply October 5, 2012

            Trent_D

            No love for the HE-300?

            • Reply October 5, 2012

              L.

              Is dynamic 😉

              • Reply October 5, 2012

                Trent_D

                zing!

            • Reply October 5, 2012

              Nick Tam

              He is talking about the hard to drive stuff and big, big, BIG amps… so I’m guessing he won’t settle for less than a HE-400 at least

          • Reply October 6, 2012

            Eric Thompson

            I think I’m leaning to the HE-400 or the HD600’s but from what I have read the Asgard and the M-Stage should drive the HE-500’s fine

            • Reply October 6, 2012

              Mike

              The M-Stage I think may have enough power for the HE-500. The Asgard, yes in terms of loudness but I don’t think it did an adequate job with the HE-500.

    • Reply October 5, 2012

      Mike

      I think you should give the HD600 a try. It’s legendary.

      Other than that I thought the new HE-400 is a very nice buy for the price. Gives you that planar sound with a reasonably dark — similar to LCD-2 tonality.

  • Reply October 5, 2012

    ShaneWicks

    Hi Mike, I have an HD800 and am trying to choose between a burson HA160 or lehmann black cube linear. Given that I am able to get them at roughly the same price (500USD) which one do you think I should go for. Many thanks for your years of great reviewing.

    • Reply October 5, 2012

      Mike

      Shane,
      The Lehmann is a very fast, precise amp. The least colored amps from all amps I’ve heard. I’d listen it for well recorded pieces, classical, audiophile Jazz and stuff.
      The Burson is great with PRaT, bass impact. Shines with music like Electronica and Rock (though not the HD800).

  • Reply October 5, 2012

    Felipe Torres Marques

    Hey, what’s up Mike/Lieven!

    I’m looking for a fullsize headphone w/ a soung signature somewhat similar to my JH5 Pro. Is there anything that could match its sound sig. and also runs nice from a FiiO E10? The only thing that comes to my mind is a HE-400, am I right? What about the AKG K550?

    Thanks!

  • Reply October 7, 2012

    Uwe Schubert

    Hi Mike,

    I’m looking for an affordable headphone amp (< $250) which I connect
    to a phono stage. The headphone amp should have a stereo pre-out to
    relay the audio signal (with minimal loss of sound quality) to my
    Dynaudio Xeo's transmitter box. I don't need an integrated DAC.

    My headphones: ATH ES-10, Beyerdynamic 990 DT-Pro, Alessandro MS1

    It's a pity that there isn't any affordable and good sounding
    headphone/phono amp combination (Am I right?).
    Fiio E9K could be the choice, but I don't need a DAC. Suggested products
    as the Audinst HUD-mx1 don't have analog inserts …

    Do you have any suggestions? Thank you a lot!

    • Reply October 8, 2012

      Mike

      Uwe,
      <$250, perhaps would be better off with a portable like the JDSLabs C421 since I don't really have a good recommendation for a sub $250 desktop amp. You'd need an RCA to 3.5mm cable to hook up the phono stage to the amp.

      http://www.headfonia.com/flyin-high-jdslabs-c421/

      • Reply October 8, 2012

        Uwe Schubert

        Hi Mike,

        Thank you for your recommendation! Unfortunately portable usually don’t have pre-outs which I need to use both headphones and speakers. Considered signal chain: Turntable > phono stage > headphone amp > jack: headphones & pre-outs: Dynaudio Xeo transmitter (> speakers).

  • Reply October 7, 2012

    Aziz Firat

    Hi Mike/Lieven!

    First of all, really appreciate the time you guys put into this site! This was very helpfull for me and it’s really cool to see that you guys also take the time to help others :).

    My question is, I just got the Bowers & Wilkins P5 headphones and I’m searching for a dac/amp that I can use with it since the output from my Macbook Pro is not powerfull enough. I’m not using iTunes anymore of course, I’ve switched to Fidelia and even that made a difference in sound quality. I’m more of a (90’s) R&B listener.

    There are some dac/amps I saw/read some stuff about, I wonder what you guys recommend to me:

    – FiiO E10
    – Audinst HUD-mini + OPA2227
    – Aune T1 (most cool looking of them all :))
    – Audinst HUD-mx1
    – Audioengine D1

    I’m reading a lot of good stuff about these (besides the Aune since there is just 1 review). What would be the best choice for me?

    Thanks!!

    • Reply October 7, 2012

      Nick Tam

      E10. Don’t care whether if it sounds inferior to the others but you’ve gotta have one of these bang for the buck DAC/Amps.

      But if I were to put these into different tiers:
      Fiio E10
      T1, D1, HUD-Mini,
      MX1

      Not sure about the T1 though as I have no experience. But I’ve just looked it up and see that it is a hybrid tube amp? You can expect a very midrange centric sound, may be a hit-or-miss depending on your preference. Not much is known about it either. There’s also a X1 which is solid state. But if it has that tube sound to it, it may be a very good combination. Who knows, these Chinese amps really do surprise me with their unbelievably good sound for price.

      E10 may not be superior to the others but it’s just good value for money if you’re running a entry level setup. Black background and good soundstage image.

      D1 is that the sound it produces has a sort of dull and coldness to it, lacking musicality if you know what I mean. Rereading other reviews, they all indicate that the D1 is very neutral sounding .

      Mini being the more funner sounding amongst the two Audinst. I’d go for the Mini, won’t really look for technicalities in a entry level setup but the choice is yours. Although if I had to choose between the MX1 and D1 for roughly the same price, I might go for the MX1 since neutral sounding may not be suited for most listeners

      • Reply October 7, 2012

        Aziz Firat

        Thanks Nick for the quick response! Appreciate it!

        Now I’m thinking between de E10, T1 and Mini. I just played some music with the EQ between 200hz and 6k hz some points higher than the rest. I felt like its really good with “live instruments” but whenever I listened to a more uptempo pop song I didn’t like it that much. Is that how a tube amp would sounds like or am I wrong?

        • Reply October 8, 2012

          Trent_D

          I would second the e10. It is a lot of fun and a tremendious bang for the buck item. (I actually think it sounds better then the D1 anyway). The Hud mini also looks like a good buy.

        • Reply October 8, 2012

          Nick Tam

          I think that’s more of a problem with the synergy between your music and your P5 headphones. The typical characteristics of a tube amplifier is a smooth midrange, more noticeable with vocals and classical recordings. When you say “pop” I’m guessing you’re referring to mainstream recordings but I’m not sure what you mean that you didn’t like about it.

          • Reply October 8, 2012

            Aziz Firat

            Up-tempo/pop songs I mean.. Just an example but when I played the following song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crrOl0egI00, it sounded closed with the midrange higher on the EQ. The bass was not really booming.

            When reading a review about the Aune T1, the reviewer describes it sound as this:

            “The sonic signature of the T1 can be described as dynamic, spacious and
            with a nice crispness…. it’s not “warm” and “flowing”, as is usually
            expected from something containing a “tube”, it’s actually full of
            impact with a toenail curling bottom end…. think out of head, think
            3D, think space, think layers…. the T1 doesn’t so much paint a musical
            tapestry, it creates free flowing sonic art…. a very perky
            performance which is musically engaging and thrilling..”

            So it doesn’t have typical tube amp sound.

            Ugh whish I could just test them all out.. lol

            • Reply October 8, 2012

              Mike

              Azis,
              I listened to the Ne-Yo clip..
              I don’t know how the T1 sounds, but for songs like the Ne-Yo, you need something with a fast pace and good bass articulation. Usually those are not the strengths of a tube set up. Hybrid does better, but still solid state tend to be best.
              I think you should look into either the Fiio E17 or the HRT HeadStreamer. Both have very good bass impact and good pace. The HeadStreamer superior in bass articulation, the E17 on soundstage.
              With the P5, I personally would go for the HeadStreamer.

    • Reply October 8, 2012

      Mike

      Aziz,
      What Nick said.

  • Reply October 9, 2012

    thethirty3rd

    Hey Headfonia!

    Are you guys going to review the FitEar TG334 soon?

    • Reply October 9, 2012

      Mike

      It’s an excellent IEM, easily one of the best in the market, but at the moment I really haven’t planned a review. If you have any questions for it I can help you answer it here.

  • Reply October 10, 2012

    Felipe Torres Marques

    Hey, what’s up Mike/Lieven!
    I’m looking for a fullsize headphone w/ a soung signature somewhat similar to my JH5 Pro. Is there anything that could match its sound sig. and also runs nice from a FiiO E10? The only thing that comes to my mind is a HE-400, am I right? What about the AKG K550?
    Thanks!

    • Reply October 10, 2012

      Mike

      The HE-400 would be pretty close, though the sound is more forward than a JH5. THe LCD-2 would probably be a closer bet to the JH5.

      Amping, I wouldn’t expect the E10 to drive the HE-400 or LCD-2 well. The K550, not quite the same.

  • Reply October 10, 2012

    lintonsofly

    Hey guys, love the work you do, i always eagerly await the next post.

    I currently own the he-500, which sound absolutely amazing, but i’m looking into selling them because they’re just a bit too big and heavy for me and that sometimes gets in the way of enjoying the music. Is there a headphone that has a similar kind of sound but wins in the comfort department?

    • Reply October 10, 2012

      L.

      Sennheiser HD700 maybe, but it’s not the same. I would however replace it with that.Tough to explain. Maybe Mike is better at it 🙂

      • Reply October 10, 2012

        Mike

        Yes I would recommend the HD700 as well, but it’s not going to be the same. Some aspects the HD700 is better, some the HE500.

        • Reply October 10, 2012

          lintonsofly

          I think the hd700 might be a little (or alot :P) out of my price range. Would the HD600/650 be worth looking into?

          • Reply October 10, 2012

            L.

            Of course they are worth it but that’s a whole different sound signature

            • Reply October 10, 2012

              Nick Tam

              hifiman: plannar sound, better PRaT and spacious.
              sennheiser: warm sennheiser house sound and dynamic driver sound, more relaxed…

              I’ve described the characteristics of the two headphones but honestly, you can’t compare them directly as they work best for different music.

              • Reply October 10, 2012

                Mike

                Thanks, Nick. I failed to mention about the PRaT of the Hifiman.

  • Reply October 10, 2012

    Trent_D

    Mike or L (although I believe only Mike has listened to the Pan Am), what are the differences between the sound of the Pan Am and the Bottlehead Crack/Dacport LX with the HD650?

    • Reply October 11, 2012

      Nick Tam

      I think a really good comparison would be between the PanAm DAC, Kingrex UD384 and possibly the Rein Audio X-DAC with the Dacport LX as a reference, too bad Mike and L. reviewed these gears separately (Well Mike for most)

    • Reply October 11, 2012

      Mike

      The DAC part, I like the PanAm better. It’s warmer, slightly more grainy though not HRT grainy, slightly darker than the Dacport LX.

      The amp part, I like the Crack better with the HD650. More spacious soundstage.

  • Reply October 11, 2012

    Atriya

    Hello Mike. I’d be very grateful if you could recommend a headphone for me. I listen to a lot of SOLO CLASSICAL PIANO. A lot of the recordings are old – from the 50s, 60s, 70s. Some will be older, and in mono. I also listen to the occasional piano concerto, symphony, or quartet. My budget is around $250.

    • Reply October 15, 2012

      Nick Tam

      K550 and HD600. HD600 require some amping however.

      • Reply October 15, 2012

        Mike

        Thanks Nick. @atriya:disqus go with the HD600, works better with the older ADD and Mono recordings than the K550. A $60 Cmoy should suffice for amping the HD600.

        http://www.headfonia.com/60-pack-of-awesome-jdslabs-cmoy/

        • Reply October 15, 2012

          Trent_D

          The clarity on the K550 can be unforgiving on bad recordings. Although, it is always fun to come across older recordings that still sound immaculate. The premier recording of Shostakovich’s cello concert from 1960 still sounds amazing, even with the a fore mentioned clarity.

        • Reply October 16, 2012

          Atriya

          Mike the HD600 is still over $300, which is all I can spend. Do you think I should pick the HD598 over the K550 for my purposes (mainly solo piano and piano concerto, some symphonies and quartets)? I was also thinking about the MS2.

      • Reply October 15, 2012

        Atriya

        Thanks. The HD600 is bit too expensive I think, but I’ve been looking at the K550. Do you think it would be better than the Senn HD598 for solo classical piano?

        • Reply October 15, 2012

          Trent_D

          I believe the K550 is suppose to have a bit more low end, which is nice for piano.

          • Reply October 16, 2012

            Atriya

            I believe it also has problems with its upper-mid, which is bad for piano. Quite confusing! I’m mainly trying to decide between the HD598 and K550 now.

            • Reply October 16, 2012

              Trent_D

              I don’t have any problems with the upper mids on the K550.

              • Reply October 16, 2012

                Atriya

                Okay, thanks for the recommendation!

  • Reply October 11, 2012

    Moo

    Hi Mike!

    I have sold the DLIII, as It wasn’t quite what I was looking for (it does sound amazing though. Definition-I wanted to try something else :D). I ordered a Schiit Gungnir, which I’m going to pickup from FedEx in a few hours (they close late here in SoCal luckily!)

    I think I’ll love it! I’ve heard a pre-production version, but not with my HD650s. I heard it with some LCD-2’s and a Mjolnir.

    Are you ever planning on reviewing either of those?

    Thanks!

    • Reply October 11, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry, a bit difficult for me to get the Gungnir otherwise I’d gladly do the review.

      • Reply October 11, 2012

        Moo

        Oh, that’s really too bad! I can tell you that it sounds excellent, much better than the DLIII to me (personal preference, some might like the DLIII more).

        It’s far more airy. Plus being able to use full 192kHz USB is a huge plus! I have an AudioQuest Cinnamon coming on Friday. I just listened to Cat Stevens’ ‘Father And Son’ for the first time. Oh my Gawd…what an amazing song…even better at 192kHz from HDtracks!!!

        I’m happy!
        Moo

        • Reply October 11, 2012

          Mike

          Glad to hear you’re enjoying the new set up, Moo.. sorry I couldn’t do a review. 😉

          • Reply October 12, 2012

            Moo

            Thanks! Definitely do one if you come across one, I think it’s really something great!

          • Reply October 13, 2012

            Moo

            Also, I’m curious: do any DACs cause you to have a little white noise if the Crack is turned all the way up (no music playing of course). I’m just curious, I thought DACs were supposed to be silent, but at about 1 o’clock on the Crack’s pot, there is some white noise.

            I also had an interesting issue when on ‘Wild World’, there was some screeching in the background. I quit Audirvana+ and it was gone. I guess it was Audirvana+ or my crappy USB cable? I have an AudioQuest Cinnamon coming in the mail for me today, so I’m excited!

            • Reply October 13, 2012

              Nick Tam

              No, the white noise you’re referring to is most likely the noise floor. In this case it’s most likely something’s not grounded properly on your Crack and you might need to troubleshoot it. DACs shouldn’t cause “white noise” of the sort unless I’m wrong in assuming what you’re hearing is not the noise floor.

              • Reply October 13, 2012

                Moo

                It didn’t have this noise floor with the PS Audio…anyway I’m having some problems with that glitch, please follow this thread if you want to be updated: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f11-software/audirvana-plus-direct-mode-12261/

                Thanks!
                Moo

                • Reply October 13, 2012

                  Nick Tam

                  Oh didn’t realize that it really was DAC specific… looked through the thread and I’m guessing it’s a software bug or problem with USB implementation of the sort, in the meanwhile, get a DAC that doesn’t have white noise?

                  • Reply October 14, 2012

                    Moo

                    Yeah, I have a feeling I’ll be returning it, sadly. I don’t know if the white noise is really a fault or not…it sounds like it’s coming from inside my head if that is any help. Have any recommendations at the roughly $850 price point?
                    Thanks!
                    Moo

                    • October 15, 2012

                      Mike

                      $850 for a DAC?

                      The KingRex UD384 should be available for less than that around $600-$700 with the UPower.

            • Reply October 13, 2012

              Mike

              The noise, may be due to the Crack amp not the DAC.

              The screeching in the background noise is a bit awkward, and to be honest I’m not so sure what it is.

  • Reply October 11, 2012

    Danny Utoyo

    Hi mike..could you describe sound differences from ex1000 vs akg k3003 vs fitear 334TG please..which one do you prefer and what the advantage and disadvantage one and another…thanks..

    • Reply October 11, 2012

      Mike

      EX1000: I love the dynamic driver, and this one has the best dynamic driver in the business (I’ve yet to listen to the IE800). Problem is the treble can get very sharp very quick. If only it was darker, I’d take it over the FitEar or the K3003.

      K3003: Sorry I just can’t appreciate this. BA + Dynamic mix done very poorly. It’s obvious the bass doesn’t belong with the treble and mids. Tuning is pretty good, you get a pretty good treble/mids that plays well with mainstream recordings, and you have the bass to complete the music. Other than that, there is nothing special in terms of technicalities, but the dynamic + BA mix just killed this IEM for me. $1,300? They probably should price it $500 and I’m just saying that because it’s built very well and comes with fancy packaging and accessories.

      334TG: Multi driver BA. I’m not a BA fan and I’m not a multi-driver fan (check my comment on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=473512576026778&set=a.283848904993147.77118.145341288843910&type=1) .FitEar has managed to make their 334 as close as possible to a single driver IEM despite it having 3 (or 4?) drivers. You can still hear the BA sound, but overall it’s pretty liquid and something I can live with. Hugeee soundstage, impressive tonality, great vocals. I’ve yet to find a person who’s not impressed with the FitEar.

      Disclaimer: My store sells the EX1000 and the FitEar 334ToGo. We sell AKGs (K81DJ, K550, K420 etc) but not the 3003.

      • Reply October 11, 2012

        Danny Utoyo

        Wow..thanks a lot for your quick and detailed info Mike…sound like 334tg is a “killer” universal IEM..but the price tag absolutely killing my wallet too… 🙂

        • Reply October 11, 2012

          Mike

          Yes the IE800 looks promising with all the innovations. Let’s hope Senn will do this one better than the IE8 and IE80.

  • Reply October 12, 2012

    Trent_D

    Here is something I keep forgetting to ask. When you have a DAC that has a very narrow sound stage, and an amp with a monster wide stage, who wins? Would the amp’s sound stage win over, would the DAC constrict the amp, or would it end up somewhere in the middle? Besides just being a question that I think is interesting, I was wondering how the sound stage of the headstage DAC cable (very narrow) and the JDSlabs cMoy (wide) would compare with the Mini Matrix Portable?

    • Reply October 12, 2012

      Mike

      If you’re used to listening to different DACs and amps, you can tell that it’s the case of the DAC being narrow and the amp sort of boosting the soundstage. You would get a somehow spacious soundstage but only 75% filled.

      Quite like feeding the HD800 from lousy source & amps. Hence the so-called “artificial” soundstage.

      The biggest difference between the Headstage + Cmoy vs Matrix Mini portable is that the former is going to be spacious (the cmoy) and a brighter (the Headstage). The Matrix is very dark, not so spacious, but very black background.

      Something like the HRT MS2 would do a much better job of filling the Cmoy’s soundstage.

      • Reply October 12, 2012

        Trent_D

        Yeah, but I want those full bodied mids, heavy low end and black background.

        • Reply October 12, 2012

          Nick Tam

          If you want black, black, black background… go for Kingrex UD384

          • Reply October 12, 2012

            Trent_D

            Someday. You mark my words. Someday.

            • Reply October 12, 2012

              Nick Tam

              I too want it… but that would mean spilling out more from my wallet and I don’t think the UD384 without the UPower is that much of a massive upgrade over the MS2+ I’m using right now…

              Urgh and I’m tempted by second hand Rein Audio X-Dacs… I have no idea when to upgrade

            • Reply October 13, 2012

              Mike

              The matrix actually makes for a pretty nice solution just by itself. It’s not a technicalities king like the Kingrex, but it does the job for me.

        • Reply October 12, 2012

          Mike

          Then you should be excited about the Matrix.. or the KingRex as Nick said.

  • Reply October 13, 2012

    Rūdolfs Putniņš

    Hey, guys!

    Looks like my HD25-II doesn’t have the synergy with my glasses so they have to go. Now I’m looking at IEM’s.

    Have you tried the UE TF10 and the Vsonic GR07?

    • Reply October 13, 2012

      Mike

      If you want the same PRaT to your HD25-1, then TF10 (actually a bit better PRaT with the TF10). GR07 is quite special in the mids, medium PRaT (honestly I’m not such a big fan of the 07, GR02 is more fun IMO). TF10 is somehow like the HD25-1 in the way that it’s proven over the years to still be one of the most popular IEMs around, even when other IEMs newer than it (W3, UM3X, IE8, etc) have come and go. You need to give it a try and see what the hype is all about.

  • Reply October 13, 2012

    ryan

    Yesterday I received a box delivered to me without the dacport lx….just got the unit delivered to me today….i am playing with it now and found out when i move the usb cable around, the signal to the dac seems to cut off sometimes or having distorted sound….it is normal or usb connector part of the dac having problem?

    • Reply October 13, 2012

      Mike

      That sounds like a problem with the usb connector, Ryan.

      • Reply October 14, 2012

        ryan

        Yeah, i am going to get it exchange for another unit. The jaben guys are going to send me a new one.

  • Reply October 14, 2012

    Trent_D

    Mike, Nick and L, you should check out Ivan Fischer’s recording of Mahler’s First symphony. I downloaded it 24/96 from channel classics website, and Judas Rockin’ Priest, even connected to the headstage DAC cable and cMoy, the K550 put out more thunderous bass than I thought possible. I wonder what it would sound like with something like a HD650.

    • Reply October 15, 2012

      Mike

      Thunderous bass with the K550 is very interesting…

      • Reply October 15, 2012

        Trent_D

        It had to have been the recording, as when I went back to try some of my old standards, the ear piece rattling bass wasn’t there anymore.

  • Reply October 16, 2012

    Atriya

    Hello Mike. I’m looking to buy my first pair of ‘audiophile’ headphones and am trying to decide between the HD598, K550, (Alessandro-Grado) MS2 and ATH-AD900. I listen to a lot of solo classical piano, but also some piano concerto, symphony and quartet. Which headphone do you think should be best for me? I’m leaning towards the K550 at present, since your review of it is so positive.

    • Reply October 16, 2012

      Mike

      @atriya:disqus I still think that the HD650 is best for piano solos, concertos and symphonies. The K550 is very nice, but I still need a stronger bass impact for piano and symphonies. Also for string quartets the HD650’s timbre is better than the K550.

      • Reply October 16, 2012

        Atriya

        I can’t afford the HD650! Can you recommend something within $300 please?

        • Reply October 16, 2012

          Nick Tam

          HD600 if you can live with it… maybe the Hifiman HE-300? Dunno what Mike has to say about that

          • Reply October 16, 2012

            Atriya

            The HD600 is still above $300 (and I don’t want to buy used). The HE-300 is less than $300, but the question is: is it more suitable for piano than the HD598, K550, MS2 and ATH-AD900?

            • Reply October 16, 2012

              Mike

              @atriya:disqus I think the HE-300, the HD598, and the K550 are relatively good for piano, each in their own ways.

            • Reply October 16, 2012

              Guest

              reading from different sources, the K550 seems to be the one in the middle out of those selection of headphones.

            • Reply October 16, 2012

              Vern

              You can oftentimes find a used HD650 for ~$300 nowadays in mint condition or near it. That in my opinion, would be your best bang for buck, considering the magic that the HD650 provides when amp’d well. I was once against buying used items as well, but as expensive as the audiophile hobby is, and the quality difference being minimal to none, it’s the wisest choice!

              • Reply October 16, 2012

                Atriya

                Thanks, in fact I’ve found a refurbished HD650 for ~$330, which should be a very good deal (unless buying refurbished is not a good idea – please advise me on this). There’s also a HD600 refurbished for ~$230. Is the HD650 significantly better than the HD600 for piano? How much better is it than the HD598? And finally, can the HD6xx be amped reasonably well for less than $75?

                • Reply October 16, 2012

                  Vern

                  ‘Better’ is subjective, but if you must ask, I prefer the 650 to 600 when it comes to the piano/jazz/classical/female vocals. The laid back presentation of the 650 just brings a nice pleasant sound for long listening sessions. Never heard the 598s so I can’t comment there. To me, minimally well would be at least Asgard level (~$250) but I haven’t tried the fiio amps (which are around your price range) with the hd6**

                  • Reply October 16, 2012

                    Atriya

                    Thanks. Buying refurbished isn’t a bad idea, is it? I also can’t spend more than $100 for an amp, so I’ll have to find out how HD6xx works with Fiio.

                    • October 16, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      Buy a JDSlabs cMoy with a 24v AC adapter. That will give you good musicality with the HD650. Mike was right when he called it a $60 pack of awesome!

                    • October 16, 2012

                      Mike

                      True. That Cmoy especially in a 24v package can be extremely mind blowing. AND it pairs very well with the 300Ω senns.

                    • October 16, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      I still don’t get why you guys are saying that the HD6xx are really expensive… because I swear a brand new HD600 is merely $320 straight off from on online Hong Kong store

                      http://www.accessoryjack.com/sennheiser-hd600-open-dynamic-hifi-professional-headphones.html

                      On the plus side for the HD600, you can drive it far easier with portables.

                    • October 16, 2012

                      Mike

                      @facebook-692862021:disqus That’s because you’re in Hong Kong and we’re not!

                    • October 16, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      That store happens to have free international shipping!!! So that price is valid!

                    • October 17, 2012

                      Mike

                      DANG! Awesome deal!

                    • October 16, 2012

                      Atriya

                      I was thinking of getting a factory refurbished HD650 for $330 rather than a new HD600 for $320, unless buying refurbished headphones is generally a bad idea. Is it?

                      Secondly, if it comes to that, I’d rather buy a HD650 and use it UNAMPED for a couple of months till I can buy buy an amp worthy of it. I may not even have to do this if the JDSlabs cMoy is fine for the HD650. The $60 price of that is fine for me.

                      Lastly, you talk of the HE-300 if I buy a lower-end headphone. Would it be more suitable than the HD598 or K550 (for mostly solo piano + some orchestral music)?

                    • October 16, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      Well… that depends on whether you could survive that period running the HD650 unamped and resist selling it…

                      But factory refurbished HD650 is a good deal. Go for it. Yes the CMoy would have to suffice until you can get a bigger amp but the reason I’m suggesting the other combinations because you’re obviously on a very tight budget.

                    • October 17, 2012

                      Atriya

                      As long as the un-amped HD650 can sound better than a pair of $30 Sony headphones with completely worn-out pads, I can resist selling it – because that’s the headphone I’ve been using for the last 6 years! 🙂 I think I’ll go for the refurbished then since it’s so much cheaper. I may not even buy the CMoy now – I’ll just buy a better amp in a couple of months.

                      The reason I’m asking about the HE-300 is: let’s say I decide NOT to get the HD650/600 and instead get a < $300 new headphone which can be driven by a Fiio. In such a situation, would the HE-300 be better for me than the HD598 or K550 (for mainly solo piano, also some orchestral music).

                    • October 17, 2012

                      Mike

                      @atriya:disqus Sennheiser’s flagship from the 90s is definitely better than a $30 Sony even unamped.

                    • October 17, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      Hey guys, speaking of unamped, I was like… how did it used to sound? I was using an iPod Video before and that didn’t work… so I pulled out my Sansa Clip+ knowing it had low output impedance

                      Is it just me or does the Sansa Clip+ able to drive the HD650 to a relatively LOUD volume without distortions??? I’m rather surprised o.O or is the HD650 not that hard to drive as I thought it to be?

                    • October 16, 2012

                      Vern

                      An unamped 650 doesn’t sound terrible, but you’re definitely not going to like it if you’ve never heard (and are not expecting) the ‘650 veil’. At your budget, and unless you plan to spend more in the future, I’d seriously consider the HD600, which has a much more like-able sound signature, and has been seen for ~$260-280 used. It will run well with most cheaper amps as well.

                    • October 17, 2012

                      Atriya

                      I do intend to spend more in the future. That’s why I’m seriously considering the HD650. I should be able to buy a proper amp for it in a couple of months. Thanks for the recommendation though!

                    • October 17, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      At first I too got the HD650 running unamped for test run. Sounds crazy but I got defeated by the $330 price tag so I was like… “why not”… doesn’t hurt my wallet that much if I could sell it. Then got myself a Fiio E17 and saw that Sennheiser veil vanish completely. Driving it isn’t that hard, but then moving onto the Crack, the differences in the technicalities, 3-dimensiality just blew me away. The HD650 does scale up immensely, but what I’m saying is that you don’t know what you were missing running an entry level setup with the HD650. It is well worth getting the HD650 as it is truly a classic hi-fi headphone.

        • Reply October 16, 2012

          ryan

          Just save up till u can afford the HD650. I just got one and loving it

      • Reply October 16, 2012

        Trent_D

        I obviously haven’t heard the hd650, but I love the clarity of the K550 for string quartets.

  • Reply October 16, 2012

    Christopher Tawney

    After much debate I am at a loss for what I should purchase but right as I was about to pull the trigger on the HD600 my work scheduled changed and I need a comfortable probably over ear pair of closed-back headphones instead (long periods of studying in a seminary library). I am planning on pairing them with an ALO National, I currently own a pair of Monster Miles Davis Signature IEMs which I mostly like (forward midrange) and a pair of Bose QC’s which I’ve owned for 8 years and desperately want to replace. Most of my listening is indie rock and classical. I have considered ATH-M50, Beyerdynamics, etc. my major concern is that I have a budget of 400 dollars and I love a warm sound signature with good technicalities. Any suggestions?

    • Reply October 16, 2012

      Gorboman

      How about a Beyer DR770?

    • Reply October 16, 2012

      Mike

      DT770 is a pretty good recommendation, as long as you stick with the 80Ω version. The Denon D2000 is also another good one.

      • Reply October 16, 2012

        Christopher Tawney

        I’ve read that the DT770’s really lack mids which concerns me because I do really like a warm sound. Do you have any thoughts on this? I also haven’t been able to find anywhere to purchase the D2000’s. The T70’s are out of my price range but I have considered waiting and buying something in more that range if that’s what I need to do to get what I really want. Do you recommend anything else in that price range

        • Reply October 17, 2012

          Gorboman

          how about hifiman he-300 or he-400 if it can squeeze in your budget?

          • Reply October 17, 2012

            Christopher Tawney

            That was the direction I was thinking originally (between HD600 and HE-400 but an open headphone is not practical due to sound leakage (it’s a really quiet library). I am definitely considering the DT770’s. They’ve got to be better than the Bose and hopefully one day I can invest in an open pair for use at home. I don’t really see any other closed cans that fit. But if you can come up with other options that would be great.

            • Reply October 17, 2012

              Gorboman

              Since you’ll be pairing it with ALO National, if possible you can try auditioning the Mad Dog by Mr. Speakers. Take some time to read their website about what options you can have to fit in your budget and whether they have a return policy in case you can’t get a free audition.

              Other than that, I can’t think of anything else. Sorry.

        • Reply October 17, 2012

          Mike

          The DT770 250Ω is quite v-shaped. The 80Ω is not so bad, but yes the mids aren’t the fullest.

          Paired with the National, the amp’s tonality does help to fill up the mids, or if you haven’t bought the National, the Matrix Portable is an even better pairing with the DT770 80Ω.

          • Reply October 17, 2012

            Christopher Tawney

            Thanks Mike I really appreciate the help and your reviews. When I read reviews it seemed as though my requirements were pretty near impossible but your suggestions definitely seems like the best option in my price range.

          • Reply October 17, 2012

            Christopher Tawney

            I hate to ask another question but in regards to the Matrix versus the National I see in your comments that your really favoring the Matrix over the Continental. The Matrix was the cheaper option but I was considering running the National with HRT MusicStreamer II and then eventually I am planning to also get a pair of open headphones either HD600 or Hifiman HE-400. Would the National+MusicStreamer II or Matrix be a better setup assuming I have DT770’s and HD-600?

            • Reply October 17, 2012

              Mike

              @twitter-25462554:disqus With the HE-400, I need to do a test run to see if either the National or the Matrix can do a good job driving it.

              With the DT770, I definitely prefer the Matrix.
              With the HD600, I can live with either the Matrix or the National.

              • Reply October 17, 2012

                Christopher Tawney

                Thanks for the input. I’m definitely leaning toward the Matrix. The fact that it has a solid integrated DAC is awesome.

      • Reply October 18, 2012

        Christopher Tawney

        How about the V-Moda M-80 or new M-100. It’s not a brand I would have originally looked at but after reading so many positive reviews I’m unsure. How would they compare to the DT770?

        • Reply October 18, 2012

          Mike

          The M-80 is a lot of fun! Fast pace, tight punchy bass, clean sound. I enjoy that headphone very much, more than the DT770 to be honest. Of course the soundstage is smaller than the DT770 but I didn’t feel that to be a problem.

          The M-100 is going to be better from what people have said.

        • Reply October 18, 2012

          Gorboman

          The M-80 is good. But their Crossfade series are not completely sealed headphones. They have 3 V shaped grills on the back of the face plate. So sound may leak a little, in compensation of a slightly airy feel.

          From what I’ve read, the M-100 sounded as good as the M-80, but the midrange is more intimate in the M-80. The M-100 beat the M-80 in sound stage. Both are tuned for DJ style of music and to use in noisy environments (like the bus or the subway).

          I previously owned an M-80. Compared to the DT770/80, I prefer the M-80 sound signature. The DT770 won me on the comfort factor.

  • Reply October 16, 2012

    Konstantin

    Hi Mike,
    I have HD800 with ALO Reference 8 Salty Pepper cable. My source is HiFiman HM-801. Though I enjoy the sound very much, I am curious what you think about this set up. Is the internal amp good enough to drive HD800 properly or I should look for another amp.
    Thanks!

    • Reply October 16, 2012

      Mike

      The HD800 straight out of the HM-801 is one of the easiest, best sounding set up you can get for the HD800. The HM-801 amp is moderately powerful, but the HD800 doesn’t really require a powerful amp, just a refined one and the HM-801 amp has a pretty good refinement. What makes the pairing works very well is the resolution of the PCM1704 DAC and the dark laid back signature. It’s a nice combo and you should enjoy it.

      • Reply October 16, 2012

        Danny Utoyo

        I think Mike’s statement is really spot on. I’ve experienced try to pair HM801 with some good (or maybe I can say the best) portable amp ATM like SR-71A and RX mk3-B, and I do find that going directly from HM801 HO is the most “refined” sounding when using it with HD800 (for portable use).

  • Reply October 17, 2012

    KejlIb Bruks

    Hello,
    I have a little bit different question. I am wondering what headphone would be best for listening to spoken language. I am a linguist who will be working on transcribing languages so I need to be able to hear things like nasality in vowels, tone,…in general I need really clear audio to pick out intricacies of speech. They also need to be really comfortable for long term wear. I find many headphones way to uncomfortable to wear. I have a limited budget (I am a student) but can spend up to 300 for a setup.

    I have thought about DT880s…Thoughts?

    Thanks to anyone who can help

    • Reply October 17, 2012

      Mike

      The HD25-1 I heard is a favorite with TV crews since it spells out vocals very clearly. You can also see sports commentators using the HD25-1 with the microphone. Probably would be my recommendation.

      The DT880 is a good monitoring headphone with higher resolution than the HD25-1, but I’m not sure how that applies in your situation.

      • Reply October 17, 2012

        KejlIb Bruks

        “I’m not sure how that applies in your situation.” Me either – I know almost nothing about headphones…I wore them and found them comfortable…

        Thanks Mike

        • Reply October 18, 2012

          Mike

          You’re welcome, Kejllb

  • Reply October 18, 2012

    Steven Setiawan

    Hello everyone… I own hd 650 with graham slee srg ii and pico usb dac.. Just want to ask how about ur opinion this setup? I really enjoy my setup now for rnb pop audiophile with medium to slow pace music.. How about upgrade to he 500? It is really upgrade or sidegrade?

    • Reply October 18, 2012

      Nick Tam

      I think your HD650 is well driven to justify not to upgrade to the HE-500. and the HD650 is still a winner with slower paced music for me due to the relaxed bass

      • Reply October 18, 2012

        Mike

        What Nick said is true. But if you still want to get the HE-500, I don’t see why not. It’s quite different than the HD-650 and the 500 happens to sound nice out of the SRG II.

        • Reply October 19, 2012

          Steven Setiawan

          Thanks Mike.. maybe later want to upgrade for he 500.. One more question mike.. For your personal taste, which one do you like better he 500 or hd 650?

          • Reply October 19, 2012

            Mike

            With the Solo SRGII, I like the HE-500 better. HD650 gets too sleepy on that amp. 😉

            • Reply October 19, 2012

              Vern

              I’ve never heard the Solo SRG II, and excuse me for my ignorance MIke, but isn’t the power output of the Solo SRG II relatively low in comparison to what is generally considered an acceptable pairing for the planars?

              • Reply October 19, 2012

                Mike

                The power numbers isn’t that good for the Solo, true. Somehow it made for a really nice pairing tough. I don’t know how.

            • Reply October 19, 2012

              Steven Setiawan

              Cant wait for next upgrade… Mike just want to ask one more question again.. what headphone which have weightier sound and full body than hd 650?

              • Reply October 20, 2012

                Mike

                Not sure if you can get any more weight than the HD650. That’s why I can’t let the old senn go.

    • Reply October 18, 2012

      Vern

      As an HD650 to HE-500 fan myself, you won’t be disappointed by what the HE-500 has to offer. The HE-500s get a large portion of my listening time now, and the HD650s really only get listening time when I’m trying to get drowsy and fall asleep :). In my opinion, the HE-500 is a clear upgrade of the HD650.

  • Reply October 18, 2012

    Mike

    A few days ago someone was asking about the HE-400 pairing with the National or the Matrix Portable. I’m listening to the combo right now, A-Bing between the two. The Matrix is the better amp for the HE-400. Better dynamics, stronger bass punch. I also like the tonality of the Matrix better.

    • Reply October 18, 2012

      Mike

      Not only is the Matrix + HE-400 pairing more solid than the National, but it’s such a good pairing I’m really digging the music out of this pairing.

      • Reply October 18, 2012

        Christopher Tawney

        That’s awesome! Thanks Mike for looking into it. I think i’m definitely going to go for the Matrix.

        • Reply October 19, 2012

          Mike

          Ah you’re welcome, Christopher!

  • Reply October 19, 2012

    AceVanCleef

    Hey guys
    Does anyone have experience with a Monster Beats Pro by dr.dre?
    I’d like to read a testreport on this site, but couldn’t find any.
    Could you write one please?

    • Reply October 19, 2012

      L.

      Troll? 😉
      Don’t expect it on this site, sorry. It’s not that we have anything against Beats but it’s not going to happen.

      • Reply October 19, 2012

        Nick Tam

        Headfonia was THAT close to becoming a troll site

  • Reply October 19, 2012

    ryan

    I am currently using WMP for ripping cds to WAV lossless 16/44.1
    Will be there be any difference if using other software eg. foobar, jrm for ripping to WAV lossless 16/44.1?

    • Reply October 20, 2012

      Mike

      Supposedly some software does conversions better, but I haven’t really compared. Personally I just use iTunes.

  • Reply October 20, 2012

    Gorboman

    Remember those spidermanish headphones you posted on facebook? They’re at can jam. Single sided magnet, planar magnetic headphones. Link to innerfidelity http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/canjam-rmaf-2012-jps-labs-abyss-prototype-planar-magnetic-headphone

    • Reply October 20, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks for the link!

  • Reply October 21, 2012

    Song Kyung-han

    Headfonia, do you have plans to review any of the following products in the near future?
    – Fostex TH900
    – V-MODA M-100
    – iRiver Astell & Kern AK100
    – Hifiman HM-901
    – Woo WA7
    – Fosgate Signature headphone amp

    • Reply October 21, 2012

      L.

      About half yes

  • Reply October 21, 2012

    Paul Laguna

    Looking for a recommendation for two different headphones, or 1 more expensive do it all, and what you’d consider an appropriate amp/DAC (majority of my music is lossless) for either/or that can cover my main bases of R&B, alt rock, and techno/electronica. I’d like to keep each piece around the magic $300 mark. Thanks!

    • Reply October 21, 2012

      Nick Tam

      TMA-1 for electro/techno, Grado SR80i for rock?

    • Reply October 21, 2012

      Gorboman

      I’m guessing you’ll like the HD25-1.

    • Reply October 22, 2012

      Mike

      Check what Nick said, also the Philips Fidelio L1 and HD25-1.

  • Reply October 23, 2012

    Trent_D

    Mike, I know this is a fairly general question, but what would be the differences between the Pan Am (with the passport and stock tubes) and the MS2+ and Asgard, particularly in terms of soundstage and bass body and impact.

    • Reply October 24, 2012

      Mike

      The soundstage would be better, but bass body and impact should roughly be the same.

      Still you can’t evaluate an amp like that though. The Pan Am is a much cleaner sound.

      • Reply October 24, 2012

        Trent_D

        I am aware. Just trying to put two and two together. Thanks for the answer! And, oh, one more question (sorry). How is the tonal balance on the 6AK5W Siemens tube?

        • Reply October 24, 2012

          Mike

          The Siemens is mid-centric, very full on the mids and upper bass.

  • Reply October 24, 2012

    Nick Tam

    why not wait for the upcoming Fiio E12? I doubt the 700mk2 needs much amping though other than to give the bass a tad bit more texture, it is a very sensitive headphone to begin with. A simple CMoy would also work quite well but personally, I run a 700mk2 unamped.

  • Reply October 25, 2012

    Tomasz Jakubczyk

    Hi Mike.
    Today I left my BD T50p for the repair (fragile cable, broke already twice). I know you don’t like them too much, but I happened to buy them in between your first and second impression;-)
    Anyway, I looked around in the shop for some other headphones (T50p break far too often) and listened to some not too pricey models. I liked the sound of Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro, but they are a bit too big for the road and too isolating for the office. After rejecting a few too bassy cans I listened to Grado SR80i and I am contemplating buying them for office and gettin Sennheiser PX100-II for the road.
    Now questions:
    1. After the repair I will have T50p and Grado’s – do you think they are substantially different to justify the purchase of Grado’s?
    2. Would I profit from buying a small amp to any of these headphones? I would like to spend sub $ 100. Something from your Sub $100 Portable Amps Shootout?
    3. How would Grado compare to B&W P5? (a bit pricey but then I would not buy PX100 at all)
    I would forget, I listen to a wide range of music: classical, rock (Pink Floyd, Red Hot Ch. P., Nirvana, Radiohead, Skunk Anansie), R&B (Macy Gray, Missy Elliott, Erykah Badu), vocals

  • Reply October 26, 2012

    Tomasz Jakubczyk

    Hi Mike,
    I own Beyerdynamic T50p, Grado SR80i and Sennheiser PX100-IIi. Would it make sense to buy a portable amp for the first two? Something from your “Sub $100 Portable Amps Shootout”?

    • Reply October 27, 2012

      Mike

      Tomasz,
      T50p not so much but the Grado will benefit from an amp. I would recommend the PA2V2 or the JDSLabs Cmoy from that article

  • Reply October 26, 2012

    Tomasz Jakubczyk

    Guys, please ignore the long post from “Guest” from two days ago, sorry for creating a mess. I left a comment with some questions and since then I responded to some questions myself so I came back to delete the post, but in fact I just lost the ownership for this post.

    • Reply October 27, 2012

      Mike

      No problem, Tomasz

  • Reply October 27, 2012

    ryan

    Hi mike, any experience with yulong 1704 dac or d18?

    Let’s say I am using a particular dac, digital signal ouput from a rp300k dvd player and rp6juta marantz cd player. Any difference between the 2 since it’s using the same external dac?

    • Reply October 29, 2012

      Mike

      No experience with those DACs.

      Can’t say, you’ll have to try it out.

  • Reply October 27, 2012

    Nick Tam

    Hey question if you guys have any idea, I’m using my HRT MS2+ and Crack to play a track and get tonz of sibilance. Run it through the E17 and it’s gone. Is this an indication of a bad track? Or is it just because the E17 is far less resolving?

    • Reply October 27, 2012

      Trent_D

      What is the track? Are you using the HD650, because that seems like a perfect storm of things that WONT give you sibilance.

      • Reply October 28, 2012

        Nick Tam

        Exactly the problem. I’m getting Sibilance on my HD650 for the very first time

        • Reply October 28, 2012

          Trent_D

          I am speechless. A dac that doesn’t push the treble on a tube amp known for behaving very well on treble with a dark headphone known for rolling off the high treble? I obviously have no idea the culprit, unless it is the recording? What were you listening to?

          • Reply October 28, 2012

            Trent_D

            I actually just ordered the Pan Am. They have a deal where you buy it with the passport for 700. Half off the pp.

            • Reply October 28, 2012

              Nick Tam

              … your decisiveness has served you well.

              • Reply October 28, 2012

                Trent_D

                I actually think it is more my indecisiveness served me well. Will have to send the dacport back.

                • Reply October 28, 2012

                  Nick Tam

                  Oh wait… you pulled the trigger on the Dacport LX then ordered a Pan Am… lol

          • Reply October 28, 2012

            Nick Tam

            Some instrumentals recorded by Japanese artists. I’m suspecting it’s the usual crappy equipment that they used…

            • Reply October 28, 2012

              Trent_D

              I thought I recalled Mike talking about some music, of what I don’t remember, where he either had to use the AIAIAI headphone or the e17 with the treble nerfed as far as it would go. Perhaps that is similar?

      • Reply October 29, 2012

        Mike

        Lots of chinese and japanese vocal recordings have a boost in the top treble region and you almost can’t get a sibilance free playback with those recordings, regardless the system.

        I don’t know what Nick is listening to though, just making guesses.

        • Reply October 29, 2012

          Nick Tam

          Was listening to vocals first. Then tried violin instrumentals also by Jap artists. Same thing. Tried some other good Jap instrumentals don’t exhibit sibilance. However, the latter was an open mic recording where the first two were probably studio closed mic.

    • Reply October 29, 2012

      Mike

      Yes, less resolving and something to do with the frequency balance too.

    • Reply November 12, 2012

      Nick Tam

      A miracle happened. I just rolled in another less resolving tube on the driver side on my Crack and the sibilance disappeared. Hooraah for going “backwards” in tube rolling

      • Reply November 13, 2012

        Trent_D

        Halleluiah!

      • Reply November 13, 2012

        L.

        My 5998 just went KABOOM

        • Reply November 13, 2012

          Vern

          Sad as it sounds, just figured out who you are on head-fi.org, lol

          • Reply November 13, 2012

            L.

            Why is that sad? I figured the secret was out? 🙂

            • Reply November 13, 2012

              Trent_D

              Who are you? Jude? NWAVguy?

              • Reply November 13, 2012

                L.

                Damn, trent has it!

        • Reply November 13, 2012

          Nick Tam

          Back to the Westinghouse Tung Sol 6080WA for you la

          • Reply November 13, 2012

            L.

            I still have 7 backups 😉

  • Reply October 28, 2012

    YS

    Hi Mike,

    What is your amp recommedations to pair with LCD2 r2?
    I currently using Graham Slee solo Ultra Linear with PSU1.

    I mostly listened to classical-orchestra, jazz, dan a little bit of pop.

    I currently looking at burson or beta22 2ch (i can get this 2nd hand for about Usd600)

    What is your thoughts?

    Thanks

    • Reply October 28, 2012

      Nick Tam

      do give the pan-am with passport a try. it’s not a step up from the graham slee but is by far the best amp (in terms of synergy) known to the LCD r2

      • Reply October 28, 2012

        YS

        Thanks Nick for ur input.

        • Reply October 28, 2012

          Nick Tam

          With the HD800 however, you definitely need a heavy duty tube amplifier to go with classical orchestrals and jazz. And I’m not expecting you to play pop with the HD800 either. The HD800 should work very well with the Graham Slee UL so I wouldn’t think of the Burson as a particular upgrade to it either. The Beta 22, definitely an upgrade though.

          • Reply October 29, 2012

            YS

            Hi Nick.

            So your recommendations for HD800 is tube amplifiers or beta22. And for LCD2 is the Pan Am.

            Having an amp that pair well with both headphone at the same time is not available at this moment, is that right?

            Thanks

            • Reply October 29, 2012

              Nick Tam

              See Trent’s comment. Mike mentioned that the Pan Am is a killer combo with the LCD-2 and HD650, but didnt quite have the soundstage to fill the HD800. You can’t expect an amplifier to pair well with the plannar LCD2 and the HD800 since those are vastly different headphones in terms of technology and sound signature. The Pan Am will do the LCD2 justice. The HD800 still asks for a very expensive setup.

              • Reply October 29, 2012

                YS

                Ok. Got it..

                Thanks for your explanation about the different technology between the two headphones

            • Reply October 29, 2012

              Mike

              HD800: tube amp. I won’t use it with the Beta22.

        • Reply October 28, 2012

          Trent_D

          Mike mentioned that, while the HD800 was very clean and sounded quite good on the Pan Am, it didn’t have quite the soundstage to satisfy the 800’s massive earcups. So, maybe not the Pan Am then

    • Reply October 29, 2012

      Mike

      What Nick said.

      The HD800 is pretty good with the PanAm, not the best.
      Burson is good with the LCD-2
      Beta22 is pretty decent with the LCD-2, nothing special.

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    JC

    I read the HD 700 review and it was great! I would like to know if the HD 700 is a good companion with ALO Pan Am..

    Also I notice the Woo Wa7 will be released soon and just wonder if i should wait for the Wa7 instead of buying a Pan Am now for a HD700..both of them are around the same price, but one has 24/96 DAC and one has 32/192..

    • Reply October 29, 2012

      Mike

      I’m trying to get a WA7 for a review. I wouldn’t worry about 24/96 vs 32/192, more about the sound signature.

      • Reply October 29, 2012

        JC

        Thanks for the reply! I would like to know if Pan Am is good for HD700 or not. If not, I think I may give LCD2 a try…Please advise! thanks!

        • Reply October 29, 2012

          Mike

          JC,
          The PanAm I actually have never tried with the HD700. 🙁

          • Reply October 29, 2012

            JC

            no problem Mike! Thanks a lot!

            • Reply October 29, 2012

              Trent_D

              That would be interesting. If the Pan Am fills the HD650 soundstage, but not quite the hd800, it would be fun to see on which side the hd700 errors.

              • Reply October 30, 2012

                Mike

                I think the PanAm still not wide enough for the HD700. Reason is I tried the HD700 with the Fostex HP-A8 DAC’s headphone out (and the thing is very spacioius) and it fills in the HD700’s soundstage just nicely.

                Not saying it’ll be a bad pairing, but just saying I don’t think it would do the high end Senns justice the way a WA5 amp would (or some other big tube amps).

                • Reply October 30, 2012

                  Nick Tam

                  Yep. Forget it Trent, the Senns doesn’t cheat on its wife, the Crack.

                  • Reply October 30, 2012

                    Trent_D

                    I know for a fact that the HD650 will be cheating on the crack. And it will be doing so over and over again. And it will LIKE IT!

  • Reply October 29, 2012

    Ken Stuart

    Two Qs for Mike:

    1 – Does the HE-500 have two qualities that you have mentioned in reviews, namely “free of grain” and “dark background” ?
    2 – (This one totally out of curiosity) What is the level of ebook usage in Indonesia ? Is there any significant level of interest ? Is there a language barrier to adoption (my guess is that most ebooks are in English or European languages – but I could be wrong) ?

    • Reply October 29, 2012

      Mike

      HE-500, very low grain levels almost none. Dark background, not so much though not that bad.

      Ebook? Well it depends on the demographics. English literacy in the capital is pretty good and I can say better than some other Asian cities like Hong Kong. I really don’t have the figure though.

      • Reply November 1, 2012

        Ken Stuart

        Thanks for the reply.
        On Ebooks, I was just looking for an unscientific impression, based on observing friends, people you see, etc. – do you see people with Kindle-style ebook readers ? (Again, just curious)

        • Reply November 1, 2012

          Mike

          Kindle: I know some people have them, but I never see even one person in public with them.

  • Reply October 30, 2012

    Laurencewayne

    Mike- I purchased the Fostex HP-P1 (to use with Fostex TH900). It’s great except at the high-end…a bit harsh, violins strident. I’m wondering if there’s a break-in period and how long? (I’ve logged about 30 hours so far.) And do you think a custom LOD (Tangv2 from Whiplash?) would make a difference? Once again, thanks so much for “being there”. Laurence Wayne

    • Reply October 30, 2012

      Mike

      Laurence,
      Don’t think break in should take longer than 30 hours.

      Violins on a digital recording is never easy. What are you comparing the HP-P1 sound to? It’ll be hard to get natural violin tone on portable gear even the likes of the HP-P1.

      Something more serious like the Hifiman HM-801 player or the Altmann Tera would do better, but still violin on a portable digital system is not easy.

      I still can’t get violin to play right on any digital based playback the way I hear them on vinyl.

      • Reply October 30, 2012

        Laurencewayne

        Thanks Mike-You’re right: I want vinyl violins! How about the LOD TWag V2? Make a difference?

        • Reply October 30, 2012

          Mike

          Maybe slightly better but not leaps and bounds.

  • Reply October 30, 2012

    Jonathan Yeung

    not trying to annoy you but im afraid you miss this since i already posted before and i gave another reply afterwards so i think you might have missed it. my question is did you get to test the ibasso dx100 with its latest firmware?

    • Reply October 30, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry I read that question but I forgot to reply to it — that happens, sometimes you’re interrupted by something and forgot to return to it later.

      The DX100, I failed to take note of the firmware. I asked the distributor who is the owner of the unit I use and he said it’s not the most recent one.

      I will try to get a chance to audition the DX100 with the latest firmware.

      Cheers.

      • Reply October 31, 2012

        Jonathan Yeung

        thanks, looking forward to your impression of the dx100 with the latest firmware!!!

  • Reply October 31, 2012

    lucky

    Hi Mike, I’ve always been a big fan of Tfriple Fi10, and for an upgrade, which one do you suggest for me, the new ue900 or just go custom with the JH 5pro?

    I mainly use IEM for mainstream songs, most of them are rocks..

    Technically, which one is better the ue900 or JH5 and which one has more fun and prat factor? thanks.

  • Reply November 2, 2012

    Ken Stuart

    Mike or L – Have you heard the HE-400 Revision 2 (released this past summer) ? The comments on head-fi indicate that it is a major change in the sound balance (with the implication that it brings it closer to the HE-500).

    • Reply November 2, 2012

      Mike

      Yes I’ve listened to it though briefly and not in an A-B situation with the old one. I thought it was very musical and my impression with it was very good, however the sound balance is not that different from the first version.

      L has both version on hand so he should be able to make a more in-depth comparison.

    • Reply November 2, 2012

      L.

      yes I have it, and yes I will do a review update as soon as I have the time 🙂

      • Reply November 3, 2012

        Ken Stuart

        L: Have you tried the HE-400 Rev 2 with velour pads (most people also find those improve the sound relative to the included pleather pads) ?

        • Reply November 3, 2012

          L.

          Yes I only use Velour with the Hifimans, much better 😉

        • Reply November 3, 2012

          L.

          Yes I only use Velour with the Hifimans, much better 😉

        • Reply November 3, 2012

          L.

          Yes, i use the velours on Hifiman, always

      • Reply December 5, 2012

        Ken Stuart

        I have obtained the HE-400 Rev 2 with the HiFiMan new accessory velour pads, and I find that they have managed to successfully incorporate the sort of bass response you get from speakers into headphones, without drowning out the mids and highs. I’m finding this more compelling than the accurate reference headphones that present the actual amount of bass present at their input (even when that sounds psychologically “wrong”). While the HE-400 is usually mentioned for rock and dance music, it is also excellent with classical music that has significant bass and/or rhythmic elements, especially things like pipe organ music.

        I haven’t heard any of the other HiFiMan products, but if the HE-500 has less bass, I would likely find that less compelling, even if it has better “technicalities” (as does the SRH-1840 which I also have).
        It seems that the HE-400 is quite popular, so a “Rev 2 Review” seems to be in order.
        (It’s also worth noting that a lot of products are not the same as what is first delivered to reviewers – the HRT Music Streamers are another good example, and of course, the LCD phones.)

        • Reply December 5, 2012

          L.

          I’m waiting to publish the comparative review but I couldn’t publish anything this week, blame Mike 😉

        • Reply December 5, 2012

          Julius

          The HE-500 is less punchy and more middle ground in comparison to the HE400 – HE-6. It is right in the middle. The HE-6 is slick and smooth, relaxed and easy to listen to with minimal impact and kick factor. The HE-500 has some punch to it but not enough to call it punchy or harsh, its still very nice and my main home use headphone now. The HE-400 is the wild child of the bunch, heavy bass and geared more for rocking out. Definitely snappier than the others.

          • Reply December 5, 2012

            L.

            I do find the HE6 to have a larger kick factor as the HE500. I find the HE500 to be more smooth & relaxed (and the LCD3 even more)

            • Reply December 5, 2012

              Julius

              I highly recommend you give the Hifiman EF-6 a try with the LCD3 and HE-6 and get back to me. Your view will certainly change on that. Out of the EF-6, which was specifically tailored for the HE-6, the sound is noticeably more smooth on the HE-6 than the LCD3. The Audeze is more forward and lively. The HE-6 is wider and less tall, more distant sounding. No question the HE-6 is more balanced sounding, generally that sound is not associated with slam or kick. Hifiman improved on all of that in the HE-500.

              Due to the extremely deep and prominent low end of the Audeze Headphones, I can’t agree they are more smooth and relaxed than the HE-500. That bass hits pretty hard on Bass heavy tracks and the HE-500 and HE-6 has noticeably less weight and extension. Just my two cents, everyone hears different.

  • Reply November 3, 2012

    Atriya

    Hello Mike, Nick, Trent_D: I just purchased a HE-400. It was a hard choice between the HE-400 and HD650, but I eventually got the Hifiman. Enjoying the headphone so far, but I need a DAC and Amp. What DAC and Amp (in one package or separate – both are fine) under around $300 has best synergy with the HE-400?

  • Reply November 3, 2012

    Ranon Sim

    Hi there Mike,

    I just purchased a standard cMOYbb v2.03 and am currently
    pairing it with the bose oe2(32 ohm), samson sr850(32 ohm), superlux
    hd668b and a panasonic rp-htf600(55 ohm).Surprisingly, the difference in
    sound quality(e.g. soundstage) without bass boost is almost
    insignificant if not absent when driving it using my mp4 player(a sony
    A864 walkman).In fact, the bass is ever so slightly reduced compared to
    w/o the amp. Also, when connected to my laptop, the hissing noise coming
    from the headphone is really audible when the volume knob is turned
    about half-way up. Any idea whether this could be due to 1) a faulty amp
    unit 2) the difference in sound quality can only be perceived when
    driving bigger ohm headphones? Read on head-fi about double-amping
    problem whereby if the music player’s amplifier output is good enough,
    the external amp will not make much of a difference in sound quality. Is
    is true? Lastly, I ain’t sure whether adding the extra virtual ground
    chip will help with the sound too as I prefer a larger soundstage[which
    isn’t apparent with the standard unit 🙁 ]….Thanks:)

  • Reply November 7, 2012

    Song Kyung-han

    Hello Mike.

    If (and that’s a big if) I decide to lend you my Fostex TH900 for just one month by sending it to your home in Indonesia, would you be eager to write a thorough review on it on Headfonia and send it back to me? Of course, you have to handle it with great care and make sure no scratch or harm is done to it, as it is a very expensive headphone that cost me an arm and a leg.

    I can’t make any promises now, but I think I might be able to make this possible sometime during next year spring. If you’re feeling up to it, do let me know.

  • Reply November 8, 2012

    Tomasz Jakubczyk

    Mike, I was about a millimetre from ordering JDSLabs cMoyBB v2.03 when I saw c421 (new Black Edition) on their website.

    I thought I would better check what you thought about c421 and I got to your “Flyin’ High” review. Now my question: considering that I was planning to buy cMoy for my Grado sr80 (+ iPhone), would it be an overkill to go for c421 instead?

    • Reply November 8, 2012

      Mike

      Tomasz,
      No it wouldn’t be an overkill. You get better sound, slimmer package and a more convenient USB charging.

      Lieven has the new black edition. I don’t think its sound is any different than the one I reviewed, but Lieven may be able to give more information on that.

      • Reply November 8, 2012

        L.

        It sounds exactly the same because my Black Version didn’t get the ferrite change. But even with that doen it should sound the same, you just get better volume control with sensitive iems

        • Reply November 16, 2012

          Tomasz Jakubczyk

          Mike & Lieven, thanks a lot for your help. I was trying to thank you earlier but somehow I could not login to the forum from my iPhone/iPad nor Windows7 machine at work. Really strange! It only works on my Mac.
          My C421 has been delivered today to one of my American friends. She’s coming to Europe next month, so I hope it will pass quickly. I could have chosen it to be shipped directly to me, but it won’t be much faster and on top of it I will probably pay 50% more because of customs and other taxes.
          Thx again!

          • Reply November 16, 2012

            Mike

            Thanks, Tomasz.

            I hope you’ll enjoy the C421. You’re getting the all black or the black-silver version ?

          • Reply November 16, 2012

            L.

            Keep us posted 🙂

  • Reply November 11, 2012

    Daniel Clayton

    I’ve been following your site for a few months now and love your work. I am looking to upgrade my current DAC and amp and was hoping you could lend your opinions.

    I currently have a C421 (OPPA2227) and an ODAC. I know you love the C421 here, as do I, but I am looking to upgrade to a more powerful desktop amp. My budget is about $350 and I have been considering the Schiit Asgard and the Matrix M-Stage. I should add I would like to stay with a solid state amp for now. I am really curious how you feel about these two compared to each other and also compared to the C421. Also if you have any others you would recommend instead, I am open to those as well.

    As for the DAC, I am not sure if you have any experience with the ODAC, but i am looking for an upgrade with a budget of around $300-$350. I am after transparent with a black background and little to no coloration. Perhaps for this price, an upgrade does nitnexist and I understand that, but I have been considering the Schiit Bifrost, Centrance Dacport LX, HRT Music Streamer II+, and Cambridge Audio Dac Magic.

    I have read all of your reciews for the products I mentioned that you have reviewed. I also understand if you cannot comment on the ODAC, but any opinion and advice is welcome for all the products! Thanks!

    • Reply November 11, 2012

      Trent_D

      Get the dacport lx. You can get it for $250 easy. I got mine at audioadvisor.com for $199.50. Easily the best performance/value ratio you can find in a dac right now. I had the ODAC at one point and I was not a fan. I would swap out the dac first and then go from there. Also, what headphones are you using? What kind of music do you listen to?

      • Reply November 11, 2012

        Trent_D

        Or, if you combine your dac and amp budget, you could snag a Pan Am with the Passport power supply. It is a tube hybrid design, but it suppose to be an excellent amp, with a very nice dac build it.

        • Reply November 12, 2012

          Daniel Clayton

          Thanks for the quick response. My current headphone inventory consists of: HE-400, HD600, T50RP Mad Dogs, D5000, AD900, Pro 900, HM5, and HFI780. I mostly listen to rock and alternative, but also a little bit of punk, rap, dub step, and pop.

          I would like to stay with a solid state amp. I am definitely going to upgrade to a desktop amp, its just a matter of which one. I will only be upgrading the DAC if it seems worth it for the price. The ODAC might be perfectly fine for the amps I am considering, but I have read great things about the Dacport LX, Music Streamer II+, and Bifrost, but I’m not sure if they are really considered an upgrade to the ODAC, or just a side grade.

          • Reply November 12, 2012

            Nick Tam

            Stop right there. There won’t be a single DAC or amp to match all your headphones because of different driver technologies as well as sonic characteristics. The main problem is that you have a orthodynamic Hifiman and a high Z Sennheiser which requires different amplifiers to drive. Furthermore, sonic character wise, the HE-400 is very dark compared to the rest so the DAC won’t be able to have good synergy if you choose a specific DAC to match with the rest of your headphones.

            • Reply November 12, 2012

              Daniel Clayton

              I can certainly understand that and I realize what works amazingly for one headphone might be mediocre for another one. That is true with the gear I currently have. I am not trying to upgrade based on one or two specific headphones, but rather raise the bar of my Amp/DAC combo compared to what I have now in terms of general performance for a wide variety of headphones, but certainly not every headphone. That simply isn’t possible, just as you mentioned.

              • Reply November 12, 2012

                Trent_D

                Maybe an asgard… might be a good all around bet. And as I have heard all three, the MS2+ and the dacport lx will be definite steps up from the ODAC. I prefer the LX myself. But Nick is right. With that selection, there is no one size fits all. Unless you want the $1000 Burson soloist.

                • Reply November 12, 2012

                  Daniel Clayton

                  I am glad you suggested the Asgard because that is what I have been heavily leaning towards. It seems like the Dacport LX is more refined and cleaner with a blacker background than the Music Streamer II+. How about the Bifrost? Any experience there?

                  • Reply November 12, 2012

                    Trent_D

                    none with the frost.

                    • November 13, 2012

                      Daniel Clayton

                      I think I am going to get an Asgard and hold off on the DAC for now, but I am leaning towards the Bifrost.

                  • Reply November 12, 2012

                    Nick Tam

                    You can’t go wrong with the LX with its price tag and its clean refined sound. I just prefer the MS2+ over the likes of the LX because I lean towards a more warm, “emotionally involving” sound while balancing out my Crack amp and over the Matrix DAC because it isn’t overly warm or thick sounding. I’m using the HD650 myself so I find the balance of my setup MS2+/Crack to be just around right.

                    • November 12, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      It’s all a matter of preference. Both the LX and the MS2+ are fine dacs. Just depends on the sound you like. I do think, however, that it is time for HRT to knock the price of their dacs down a bit. As you can get the LX for almost the same price as the MS2, it’s hard to ignore that price gap.

  • Reply November 12, 2012

    Pkrdlr

    Hi Mike, Can you suggest a portable amp/dac that can be used with my laptop at home as well as on the go with my ipod classic for under $200 usd ?. Headphones are ath-ad900 and senn hd 239.Thanks

    • Reply November 12, 2012

      Nick Tam

      I can only think of the E17 since not many DAC/Amps run off batteries doubles as a portable amplifier…

      • Reply November 13, 2012

        Trent_D

        Nick, I keep forgetting to ask, are you mac or pc? What audio player do you use?

        • Reply November 13, 2012

          Nick Tam

          PC, foobar2k on Kernal streaming or WASPI out to the HRT MS2+, why?

          • Reply November 13, 2012

            Trent_D

            Just curious

  • Reply November 12, 2012

    Ken Stuart

    Mike – any rumors/rumblings of a new HiFiMan headphone model soon ?

    • Reply November 12, 2012

      L.

      maybe 😉

      • Reply November 14, 2012

        Ken Stuart

        Does the smiley mean ” joking ” or have you heard something ?

        • Reply November 14, 2012

          L.

          I haven’t heard anything of a new headphone

  • Reply November 13, 2012

    RuEXP

    Hi Mike,

    I am looking into a new pair of headphones, which ideally will serve two purposes. I listen to a wide variation of music, I would say mostly along the lines of folk, rock, and some light electronica. I am not looking to have separate headphones for each type of music I listen to, and was considering something like the Sennheiser hd598’s. The problem I ran into, is I would also like to use my headphones to use when I play my bass guitar through my amp (since I can’t play through an amp in an apartment). These headphones often get comments about low bass.

    I am not looking for anything with a lot of bass, because that’s not what I look for in music quality, but I don’t want to be underwhelmed when I play my bass guitar either.

    Any suggestions as to whether get 2 lower end headphones, or monitoring headphones are greatly appreciated. I am partial to Sennheiser due to previous success with their products, but I’m open to other options as well.

    Thanks!

    • Reply December 24, 2012

      dalethorn

      HD598 sounds right for these applications. Not heavy in bass response.

  • Reply November 13, 2012

    L.

    If these are your only 2 options, go for the M50, the COP isn’t that detailed

    • Reply November 13, 2012

      Jason

      any other option? thx btw!

      • Reply November 13, 2012

        Trent_D

        DT 770 AE seems to be popular around here.

  • Reply November 14, 2012

    Florent Vaucelle

    Hi,
    I want to buy a DAC, but I’m wondering if using the RAC output from DAC/Amp combos such as the Audinst of Styleaudio ones will by pass the amp section. If not, should I set the volume on the dac/amp to min or max?

    • Reply November 14, 2012

      Nick Tam

      Using the RCA outputs will bypass the amp section. Just make sure to set your output to line out if any on your DAC.

  • Reply November 14, 2012

    Trent_D

    Selling a like new K550 on head-fi if anyone is interested.

    • Reply November 14, 2012

      L.

      what are you buying in stead?

      • Reply November 14, 2012

        Trent_D

        The HD650 will do for me. Through which I am listen to Mahler’s fifth as I type.

        • Reply November 14, 2012

          Trent_D

          and with the sale (it sold almost instantly) I am most of the way to a Bottlehead Crack.

          • Reply November 15, 2012

            L.

            can you mail me trent? thx

        • Reply November 16, 2012

          Mike

          Mahler and HD650, I don’t think there is a better combo.

  • Reply November 14, 2012

    Pkrdlr

    Mike, Any plans to review the Dragonfly Usb Dac from Audioquest ?.

    • Reply November 14, 2012

      L.

      nothing concrete but one day we probably will

  • Reply November 15, 2012

    Markus

    Hey Mike or Lieven,

    sry to post it here again, because I already posted the question on facebook.
    But this is quite urgent
    There is a very audible constantly noise coming out through the headphone out of my Topping D1 Mark 2, regardless of
    the volume setting. The noise is even audible when listening to music at low volumes.
    Also although the D1 Mark2 is recognized by Windows XP and seems to work properly I can’t adjust the volume in Windows.
    Do you think my unit is defective?

    • Reply November 15, 2012

      Nick Tam

      No. You shouldn’t be able to control the volume on windows anyways as the volume control is usually handed down to the DAC itself. Could you describe the noise?

      • Reply November 15, 2012

        Markus

        Thanks for your answer Nick,
        Strange, as far as I know I should be able to control the volume of the DAC-part of the D1 Mark2 in Windows, like with any soundcard? With the ODAC for example I could do this and always adjusted the volume to 100% (max signal strength).

        Regarding the noise, I realised that it should be hiss, but I am using it with Sennheiser HD 598 (50 Ohm impedance) therefore I am a little bit shocked. The hiss is killing it for me because it’s ruins all the quite passages in the songs I like.

        Do you have similar experiences Nick? I wouldn’t consider 50 Ohm headphones as very sensitive, so that I have to worry about hiss.

        • Reply November 15, 2012

          Nick Tam

          For some devices, digital volume control is possible if you enabled the OS to handle the volume control. If you use output via Kernal streaming or WASPI on windows the DAC usually bypasses the digital volume control regardless from my experience. Hiss sounds is probably inert in the DAC or amp, sounds like the noise floor to me.

          • Reply November 16, 2012

            Markus

            Thanks for your thoughts Nick.

            What do you mean by “hiss sounds is probably inert in the DAC or amp”?

            Ok just spent some more time with the Topping D1 Mark2 Today.

            When using the line out into another amp, the hiss or noise floor is gone. Complete black background with my HD 598 as I would expect.

            But when using the headphone out of the D1 the constant hiss or noise floor is very audible. I tried to figure out if the noise or hiss gets louder when I increase the volume, but the noise is constant. I mean when the volume is zero it is as loud as if the Volume is at maximum.

            What do you think? Is it caused by design or because of defect?

            • Reply November 16, 2012

              Mike

              Markus let me try the Topping D1 with the HD598 and get back to you.

              Volume control, depending on the DAC you can control it through the OS (windows in this case).

            • Reply November 16, 2012

              Nick Tam

              If the noise floor is gone with another amplifier, there’s definitely something wrong with the D1MK2’s amp section. Let Mike get back to you on that since he has all the gear.

              And about the volume control, usually I would just set the OS volume to maximum if the DAC/Amp has analog volume controls. Reason being, analog potentiometers may have low level channel imbalance so you want the pot gain to be around at least 40% or above so you don’t want to adjust the attenuation from the digital side too low unless the gain is really too high for you.

            • Reply November 16, 2012

              Mike

              Markus,
              I’m listening to the D1 Mk2 with the HD598 out of my Mac. Music playing, no hiss. No music playing, 100% vol, absolutely quiet. Something must be wrong with your set up.

              Can you try finding another laptop, perhaps a Mac to pinpoint the source of the hiss?

              • Reply November 18, 2012

                Markus

                Mike,
                thank you soo much for your help in this regard.
                Firstly, the good news. I solved the volume problem in windows. Now I am able to adjust the volume in windows as expected. (I leave it at 100% as you suggested)

                Some interesting observations regarding the hiss problem so far:
                The hiss or noise floor (still don’t know how I should call it) is much lower now, after I burned-in the device for approximately 20 hours, though it’s still audible. When not playing music it’s not absolutely quiet but I think I can live with that amount of hiss or noise.

                I also plugged the Topping D1 into different USB ports to see if there was going to be a difference between them and discovered that the amount of hiss or noise really

                • Reply November 19, 2012

                  Mike

                  Markus,
                  I use any USB cable that happens to be lying around. I don’t remember if it’s the one that came with the D1. In my experience, USB cables never cause a hiss. Some bad cables simply don’t work/no connection, but the ones that work simply work.

                  If I were to guess, probably you got a bad batch on the D1? Just pure guessing. Another guess is OS-driver compatibility, that’s why I asked if you could try it on a different computer.

                  • Reply November 25, 2012

                    Markus

                    Wohooo. Good news guys.
                    I finally figured out what the problem was. Must have been some kind of ground loop noise! I replaced the power supply of my Dell notebook and now the Topping D1 is dead silent as expected. I realised that “hiss” is something completely different when I tried the Topping with my Shure 535 Limited Edition. Hiss also gets louder when increasing the volume, whereas the noise I heard before was more like a hum… something very strange.

                    But now that I fixed the problem I have to say that the Topping is really really great value. Thanks headfonia for introducing relatively unkown products to the (western) head-fi world.

                    P.S. Listening to a new Beyer DT770 LE at this very moment and lovin’ it :)))

  • Reply November 15, 2012

    Jason

    need some suggestion for a good headphone for detail sound and great bass and good noise isolation.. price between 100USD – 300 USD. for metal rock, alternative, also jazz. Thx!

    • Reply November 15, 2012

      L.

      Have you read our DT770 AE review?

      • Reply November 15, 2012

        Jason

        yes.. any other suggestion besides DT770 AE?

        • Reply November 15, 2012

          Jason

          need an over-ear headphone.. it’s kinda hard for me to find a good headphone for detail sound, bass, and noise isolation for metal, rock, alternative, jazz.. need a recommendation immediately.. anybody?

          • Reply November 16, 2012

            Mike

            DT770 80Ω, Shure SRH940, Denon D2000, Senn HD25-1

          • Reply November 16, 2012

            Mike

            Over ear.

            Try the DT770 AE or 80Ω, Denon D2000.

    • Reply November 16, 2012

      Mike

      Jason,
      Beyer DT770 or Denon D2000.

  • Reply November 15, 2012

    Apogee

    I was wondering out of the schiit lyr/Panam/WA6 you would recommend as an amp for a pair of AKG Q701 with a pair of sennheiser HD650 or HD700 probably coming in the future.

    • Reply November 16, 2012

      Mike

      I would go with the Woo.

  • Reply November 16, 2012

    Steven Setiawan

    Hello again for Mike and L. Need some advice for buy an amp right now. I have an iem tf 10.. After read some reviews here, i decide for buy an amp.. I want the mid fuller, the treble roll off and smoother.. How about matrix mini or alo national?What would you recommend ?

    Btw my portable setup only ipad2.. Sometimes using the cck to connecting usb pico dac for transportable setup..

    Thanks..

    • Reply November 16, 2012

      Mike

      Hello Steven,
      The Matrix Mini should cut down the treble on the TF10 more effectively. Both amps should help with the mids.

      Cheers.

  • Reply November 16, 2012

    Gurtej Virdi

    Hi guys, am planning of getting the he-500, just wondering how it pairs with the clas/rx mk3b combo which i currently own. Looking to upgrade my d2000’s. Thanks.

    • Reply November 16, 2012

      Mike

      Gurtej,
      I recommend pairing the RX MK3-B with the HE-400 especially if you’re moving from the D2000. The HE-500 is going to be a lot brighter than your D2000, and bass is not going to be as powerful. The HE-400 is a more appropriate upgrade.

      • Reply November 17, 2012

        Gurtej Virdi

        Mike,
        Thanks for the reply. Never considered the he-400 will have a look into them. If i ever decide to get the h5-500 will the mk3-b have enough power for it, or will it be a waste. Thanks.

  • Reply November 17, 2012

    Mike

    Jessie,
    Are you hearing distortions? The sound of distortions are very obivious like brap brap brap.. if you don’t hear it then the amp is fine.

    Yes it’s true the Cmoy is not very good for low impedance but it also depends some low impedance headphones are still very easy to drive.

  • Reply November 18, 2012

    dalethorn

    Anyone looking at the Senn IE800 yet?

    • Reply November 19, 2012

      Mike

      I am desperately waiting for it…

  • Reply November 19, 2012

    Sasmit

    Hi Mike,

    you reviewed the fidelio L1 in March. I was looking at the lower
    range but similar downtown and uptown primarily as the L1 is out of my
    current Budget. have you ever tried out these portables? What is your
    view on their strengths and weaknesses? Thanks for your help.

    • Reply November 19, 2012

      Mike

      Sasmit,
      I’m so sorry but I haven’t tried the down and uptown.

  • Reply November 21, 2012

    Pathway

    Hi Mike – apologies if this has been asked already. I’m looking for a DAC mainly (but an integrated dac/amp is fine also) in the sub $100 price range. I am always tempted by a bargain and the Sabre Chip DACs like the Stoner UD100 or hifimediy Sabre USB look interesting but the fiio E10 and Topping D1 MKii look good as well – any opinions on the two DACs I mentioned and how does the topping compare to the Fiio as a DAC first and also as a DAC/AMP? (DAC would out to my x-canV2 with ‘updated’ tubes and feed Senn HD580) other uses would be with v-Moda M80.

    Many thanks,

    Oliver

    • Reply November 21, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Oliver,
      I should address these points more thoroughly on the Topping D1 review, but briefly:

      Hifimediy Sabre: warmest sound, forward, technically very moderate.
      Fiio E10: More spacious than Hifimediy Sabre, darker, looser bass, warm, laid back and very musical.
      Topping D1: More spacious than E10. Lively sound, forward, great bass impact, extremely powerful headphone out.

      • Reply November 21, 2012

        Trent_D

        If you were to pick one to have as a portable unit? Is the D1 bright, or is its treble well behaved.

        • Reply November 27, 2012

          Gorboman

          The D1’s treble is sparkly in my opinion, but probably depending on your cans too. At higher volume, it can be bright. I’ve tested it on RHCP album. A friend of mine paired it with a gainclone then to an HD650 and he said that the treble was hot. However, the bass punch weight of the D1 is very addictive (now come to think of it, it reminded me of the ASG-1). It’s my current favorite DAC/Amp, though I’d like it even more if it has a built in battery so it will be a 100% portable unit.

      • Reply November 22, 2012

        Pathway

        Many Thanks- am looking forward to the full review. Do you have a rough timeframe for it going live?

        • Reply November 22, 2012

          Mike

          Maybe in 2-3 weeks time since I have a few things for the next 1-2 weeks.

  • Reply November 26, 2012

    Chris Allen

    Hey Mike, would you remember or know if the HiFiMAN HM-601 DAP supported ALAC or AIFF files? I was considering on upgrading to it from my old iPod Classic, but most of my music is in Apple’s codecs.

  • Reply November 26, 2012

    Juaneli O Adrioli

    hello, I would like to know if you could make a recommendation on what
    headphones to buy. my budget $300 dollars. Im looking for around or over the ear
    headphones. I mostly listen to Electronic music, a lot of it has a good
    amount of bass. thank you.

  • Reply November 26, 2012

    Tomasz Jakubczyk

    Mike! You are pulling the money out of my pocket! 😉
    My main headphones at the moment are Grado SR80i (outdoors I use Senns Px100IIi and I have Bayerdynamics T50p retired in my drawer – too close sound for my taste).
    My source currently is just iPhone4 (strongly considering switching to Galaxy S3 or (rumoured) S4, but I’ve heard it’s not a good audio performer, so not sure yet).
    And I am waiting for the delivery of JDS Labs c421 Black Edition (I discussed it with you some weeks ago).
    I have read your review of E17 and I am a bit confused. With my source should I rather have gone for E17 instead of c421? Or would I be better of by adding some DAC to my iPhone (Galaxy S3/S4) + C421 configuration? Maybe better coding on my source would also be of consideration. I read somewhere a review which said that iPhone 4 was not so bad in decoding (apparently better than its successors). Is it true?
    Any suggestions?

    • Reply November 28, 2012

      Gorboman

      If you’re going to stick with your iphone, consider investing a CLAS. If you’re switching to android, stick around with your amp and see what’s missing. Some android support digital line out via usb otg.

      • Reply November 29, 2012

        Tomasz Jakubczyk

        Gorboman, thanks a lot.
        I think I will listen a bit to the combination of iPhone4 + C421 + SR80i before I spend more serious money on the CLAS. It might happen that I will like Android so much that my iPhone will soon end up as an expensive game console for my son and I will achieve zero return on my investment 😉

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry for the slow reply Tomasz.

      With the Iphone you can’t pair it to USB DACs like the E17. The Android powered Galaxy may be able to, but I haven’t tried that personally. USB DACs pair to computers and laptops. Iphones, Ipods, you need I-device DACs like the CypherLabs Solo or the Fostex HP-P1.

      I-device decoding, I’m never a big fan of. I’d take any entry level USB DAC over I-device decoding.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry for the slow reply Tomasz.

      With the Iphone you can’t pair it to USB DACs like the E17. The Android powered Galaxy may be able to, but I haven’t tried that personally. USB DACs pair to computers and laptops. Iphones, Ipods, you need I-device DACs like the CypherLabs Solo or the Fostex HP-P1.

      I-device decoding, I’m never a big fan of. I’d take any entry level USB DAC over I-device decoding.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry for the slow reply Tomasz.

      With the Iphone you can’t pair it to USB DACs like the E17. The Android powered Galaxy may be able to, but I haven’t tried that personally. USB DACs pair to computers and laptops. Iphones, Ipods, you need I-device DACs like the CypherLabs Solo or the Fostex HP-P1.

      I-device decoding, I’m never a big fan of. I’d take any entry level USB DAC over I-device decoding.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry for the slow reply Tomasz.

      With the Iphone you can’t pair it to USB DACs like the E17. The Android powered Galaxy may be able to, but I haven’t tried that personally. USB DACs pair to computers and laptops. Iphones, Ipods, you need I-device DACs like the CypherLabs Solo or the Fostex HP-P1.

      I-device decoding, I’m never a big fan of. I’d take any entry level USB DAC over I-device decoding.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry for the slow reply Tomasz.

      With the Iphone you can’t pair it to USB DACs like the E17. The Android powered Galaxy may be able to, but I haven’t tried that personally. USB DACs pair to computers and laptops. Iphones, Ipods, you need I-device DACs like the CypherLabs Solo or the Fostex HP-P1.

      I-device decoding, I’m never a big fan of. I’d take any entry level USB DAC over I-device decoding.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry for the slow reply Tomasz.

      With the Iphone you can’t pair it to USB DACs like the E17. The Android powered Galaxy may be able to, but I haven’t tried that personally. USB DACs pair to computers and laptops. Iphones, Ipods, you need I-device DACs like the CypherLabs Solo or the Fostex HP-P1.

      I-device decoding, I’m never a big fan of. I’d take any entry level USB DAC over I-device decoding.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry for the slow reply Tomasz.

      With the Iphone you can’t pair it to USB DACs like the E17. The Android powered Galaxy may be able to, but I haven’t tried that personally. USB DACs pair to computers and laptops. Iphones, Ipods, you need I-device DACs like the CypherLabs Solo or the Fostex HP-P1.

      I-device decoding, I’m never a big fan of. I’d take any entry level USB DAC over I-device decoding.

      • Reply November 29, 2012

        Tomasz Jakubczyk

        Thanks Mike,
        It seems that you never leave a question unresponded, so I did not worry too much with the speed 🙂
        As I said to Garboman, I think I will stick to my iPhone4 + C421 + SR80i for a while. At least until I get my Galaxy, play with it for a while and decide whether I want to stay with Apple or switch to Android completely.

        • Reply November 29, 2012

          Mike

          Alright let me know if you have any other questions!

  • Reply November 27, 2012

    Mark Jamey Mauldin

    Mr. Ting,

    I’m sure this has been covered somewhere but I’m new to your site and
    did not find it. What is the best combination for using an Ipod classic?
    I currently have a Fiio 1o, a Ibasso D Zero, a hifiman express HM 101, a
    Dayton Audio DTA 1 amp and a set of Grado 80’s.

    I’ve been using the Dzero with the 80’s and it sounds good. Is there a
    better combo? Where can I read about how to use these products in
    combination or other products like them? Thanks

    Jamey

    • Reply November 27, 2012

      Gorboman

      The best combo in my opinion is adding a CLAS after the iPod and then to your preferred amp. It just add a whole new feeling to the music.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Mark,
      Well there are a TON of amp out there, but one to try is the ALO national with the Grado 80s.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Mark,
      Well there are a TON of amp out there, but one to try is the ALO national with the Grado 80s.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Mark,
      Well there are a TON of amp out there, but one to try is the ALO national with the Grado 80s.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Mark,
      Well there are a TON of amp out there, but one to try is the ALO national with the Grado 80s.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Mark,
      Well there are a TON of amp out there, but one to try is the ALO national with the Grado 80s.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Mark,
      Well there are a TON of amp out there, but one to try is the ALO national with the Grado 80s.

  • Reply November 27, 2012

    Apogee

    I have a pair of Q701 and will be getting a HD800 or LCD2 in the future. With do you think will be better a schiit bifrost and lyr combo or a burson HA160D. Whats are the differences in sound. In most reviews of burson products people mention its prat and bass impact. What is the bass impact of the lyr like in comparison.
    Are their any other dac amp pair you would recomend. I have a budget of around 1000 dollars. Ive alos looked at offerings from woo audio and the centrance dacmini.
    Thank you mike/L. Depending on who replies

    • Reply November 27, 2012

      Gorboman

      what do you drive your Q701 with at the moment?

      • Reply November 28, 2012

        Apogee

        Fiio E7. I had it to drive my old headphones but it not good enough for the Q701 or either of the headphones i plan to get in the future.

        • Reply November 28, 2012

          Gorboman

          If I were you, then I’d probably pick the Burson HA160D. It’s a much more convenient desktop DAC/Amp solution. I’ve only tried the Soloist though. Amp only, no DAC. But the sound is quite transparent.

          As for Schiit, I’ve only tried the Asgard. Pretty good, but a friend of mine who has one said it’s temperature can get really hot.

          • Reply November 28, 2012

            Trent_D

            The Asgard is nice. It runs hot, but that is normal. It is warranted for five years, so obviously Schiit doesn’t consider the temperature to be an issue.

            I know L didn’t think the Lyr was at all a good match with the LCD-2, although the Asgard does ok with it. The HD800 really does its best business connected to big, fancy tube amps. The solid staters don’t rave about that pairing. If you think the HD800 is how you will go, you might be better off going with the Bottlehead Crack, or something else along those lines.

            • Reply November 28, 2012

              Gorboman

              @Ardently:disqus Trent has a good point about your choices of headphones. The HD800 though of reference class is quite picky in pairing with other gears in your setup.

              I didn’t think of this earlier, but what do you think about getting a Pan Am and get an LCD 2 for your future headphones?

            • Reply December 2, 2012

              Apogee

              the bottlehead is hard to get were i am, and i think the value of will diminish as i will have have a pre made one. the hd800 is the sound i want however i don’t have the budget for a hd800 and a summitfi tube amp. the 2 choices im mainly looking at are the lyr/bifrost combo or the dacmini. i will get a better dac and amp in the future for my hd800, maybe the wa22 and go balanced. i looked at the lyr for the hd800 because 6moons.com said they actually paired well together. i also like the wa6se but i think thats because i just love the sofia princess tube with the v pattern on its plates.
              any help would be grateful, but i think i will get the lyr/bifrost or wa6/se and then get a better dac and amp later.

              • Reply December 3, 2012

                Mike

                No need to get balanced for the HD800. Better to get a high quality SE DAC/Amp than balanced for the HD800.

                Something like the WA5 I believe starts at $2.5K.

                Schiit Lyr with the HD800, please, no. WA6 is better. Crack is better than both for the HD800.

                • Reply December 3, 2012

                  Trent_D

                  If you are intending to use it as a USB dac, the bifrost is $450. You could save money going with a dacport lx for $200-250. Is there no chance you can build the crack yourself?

                  • Reply December 3, 2012

                    Apogee

                    Im going to use the the other inputs aswell as the usb on the bifrost. I will never build a crack. I dont want a seperate dac and amp so i can upgrade the amp later. So what would be the cheapest amp that is acceptable for the hd800. I could go bifrost asgard for one year then get a WA6SE. but im still not sure how to go. I could get the dacmini and use the headphone output then later use the dacmini as a daconly with a tube amp. I looked at getting the dacmini as i liked the many descriptions from reviews of how it had a nice black background.

                    • December 3, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      Well, if you really have your heart of hearts set on the HD800, maybe you should wait on buying anything for awhile and save up to buy the hi end gear that headphone needs. I have hear many people refer to the dacmini as dry and clinical. That doesn’t sound like a good combo with the HD800.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      For the LCD-2 I’d recommend the Burson OR the ALO PanAm.
      For the HD800, something with big tubes like the Woo WA5, Zana Deux, Manley 300B and such.

      • Reply December 2, 2012

        Valentin

        Just a little note. To clarify. The HD800 sounds good with the Pan Am too. Of course, Mike is right. But if you like the HD800-sound, with the expanded wide soundstage and micro-detail, by all means get a HD800 + PanAm and when you have the possibility to upgrade in the future, pick up a better source and tube amp.

        If you prefer the LCD-2-tuning, by all means, get the LCD2 + PanAm.

        However, since they sound quite different, unsure about which you want complicates it a bit. In my opinion.

        /V

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      For the LCD-2 I’d recommend the Burson OR the ALO PanAm.
      For the HD800, something with big tubes like the Woo WA5, Zana Deux, Manley 300B and such.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      For the LCD-2 I’d recommend the Burson OR the ALO PanAm.
      For the HD800, something with big tubes like the Woo WA5, Zana Deux, Manley 300B and such.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      For the LCD-2 I’d recommend the Burson OR the ALO PanAm.
      For the HD800, something with big tubes like the Woo WA5, Zana Deux, Manley 300B and such.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      For the LCD-2 I’d recommend the Burson OR the ALO PanAm.
      For the HD800, something with big tubes like the Woo WA5, Zana Deux, Manley 300B and such.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      For the LCD-2 I’d recommend the Burson OR the ALO PanAm.
      For the HD800, something with big tubes like the Woo WA5, Zana Deux, Manley 300B and such.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Roger Blackwell

    I’ve spent hours reading your reviews on all headphones (including the ultra/semi ultra port reviews), and I congratulate you on a great site. Please know that I realize that, in the end, a headphone choice is quite subjective. Still, I’m TOTALLY FRUSTRATED trying to buy a high quality (not a ton of money) pair of headphones for my mp3 (currently, I use an Ipod 4th gen & a Samsung mp3 player with an old Sennheiser PX-200 – mp3 320 & FLAC files). I do some running/jogging (not that fast) while listening.

    I was going to get the V-Jays, but another site called them mediocre at best, and a new version, V-Jays ii, is out this year. Yes, I’ve consider the Px-100 ii’s, the 238/9, and others. I love a very transparent, true sound with good balance to listen to virtually anything (eclectic musical tastes range from rock/pop/vocal to classical, r&b, soundtracks, jazz… etc.). Moving up to Senn HD25-1, Beyers, B&W P3/5, etc presents 2 problems: 1) cost and most importantly 2) weight – jog/run is not great with heavier cans. Note, I HATE earbuds – don’t care if it’s an expensive 535 – I hate’em.

    … and so I’m stumped. Perhaps you could recommend something new that’s really light-weight yet fabulous (excellent detail, tight base – not mud, transparent mids & highs (a little brightness but not shrill) with good overall balance (true to the source material). Perhaps this is a silly question, for I don’t believe what I’m looking for exists – audiophile qualtiy in a light-weight (NON earbud) design that’s NOT over $130??? I must be dreaming, no ???

    … any assistance would be GREATLY appreciated.

    Jeff (aka Roger)
    Long Island, NY
    jinxcat3@gmail.com

    • Reply November 28, 2012

      Gorboman

      This I would like to know too. I don’t believe it’s exist but I’m more than welcome to be proven wrong.

      • Reply November 28, 2012

        L.

        I would go the IEM route. CIEM would be even better but for that price it’s going to be tough. Why not the Koss jogg version of the Portapro, the name is eluding me atm.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Roger,
      Thanks for reposting here and sorry for the slow reply.

      The higher quality portables like HD25-1, Beyers, B&W, I don’t think are convenient to wear while jogging. The best option if you want high quality sound for jogging is still IEMs but you dont’ like it.

      And you’re asking for a lot of things too.. tight bass, transparent mid and highs.. even if you up your budget to $1,300 I don’t think such portables exist.

      I would just go with either the PX100-II or the V-Jays. And live with the small imperfections.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Roger,
      Thanks for reposting here and sorry for the slow reply.

      The higher quality portables like HD25-1, Beyers, B&W, I don’t think are convenient to wear while jogging. The best option if you want high quality sound for jogging is still IEMs but you dont’ like it.

      And you’re asking for a lot of things too.. tight bass, transparent mid and highs.. even if you up your budget to $1,300 I don’t think such portables exist.

      I would just go with either the PX100-II or the V-Jays. And live with the small imperfections.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Roger,
      Thanks for reposting here and sorry for the slow reply.

      The higher quality portables like HD25-1, Beyers, B&W, I don’t think are convenient to wear while jogging. The best option if you want high quality sound for jogging is still IEMs but you dont’ like it.

      And you’re asking for a lot of things too.. tight bass, transparent mid and highs.. even if you up your budget to $1,300 I don’t think such portables exist.

      I would just go with either the PX100-II or the V-Jays. And live with the small imperfections.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Roger,
      Thanks for reposting here and sorry for the slow reply.

      The higher quality portables like HD25-1, Beyers, B&W, I don’t think are convenient to wear while jogging. The best option if you want high quality sound for jogging is still IEMs but you dont’ like it.

      And you’re asking for a lot of things too.. tight bass, transparent mid and highs.. even if you up your budget to $1,300 I don’t think such portables exist.

      I would just go with either the PX100-II or the V-Jays. And live with the small imperfections.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Roger,
      Thanks for reposting here and sorry for the slow reply.

      The higher quality portables like HD25-1, Beyers, B&W, I don’t think are convenient to wear while jogging. The best option if you want high quality sound for jogging is still IEMs but you dont’ like it.

      And you’re asking for a lot of things too.. tight bass, transparent mid and highs.. even if you up your budget to $1,300 I don’t think such portables exist.

      I would just go with either the PX100-II or the V-Jays. And live with the small imperfections.

    • Reply December 24, 2012

      dalethorn

      Compared to the PX200, the Soundmagic P30/Beyer DTX501p is about the same in size and weight, but (the Beyer at least) sounds much, much better – audiophile or near audiophile.

  • Reply November 29, 2012

    ryan

    Hey mike, could you have a songs/cd recommendation section? Those which you have used for testing? You have mentioned some in your reviews, probably you could put them in a section. BVSC is a really fantastic cd which I got to know from one of your reviews

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      Yeah maybe we should start a section on recommended CDs and such…

      • Reply December 4, 2012

        Chris Allen

        Can I make a wild guess and say “Jazz at the Pawnshop” will be on that list? 😉

        • Reply December 4, 2012

          Mike

          It’s a good CD to get people to realize what a good recording is like. For day to day listening I need something faster paced though.

  • Reply November 29, 2012

    Chris Allen

    Is there any good warm DAC below the $300 price point that supports 24-bit/192kHz resolution?

  • Reply November 30, 2012

    John Wood

    Hi Mike, do you know anything about the new ipods. Specifically about the new connector. How it will work with LOD or products such as the CLAS. I want to invest in a dap/external dac combo, Maybe its better to get an ipod classic as it still has the old connector????

    • Reply November 30, 2012

      Mike

      John,
      According to CypherLabs the Solo should work with the new Iphone 5 so I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.

      • Reply November 30, 2012

        John Wood

        Thanks Mike. Can you guys get the fostex hp-p1?

        • Reply November 30, 2012

          Mike

          Yes please go to the bottom of the website where the tags are, and click on Fostex.

    • Reply November 30, 2012

      dalethorn

      LOD using the new $30 adapter to a regular analog amp like the O2 is no problem – gets the same result and sound quality as the old connector. An ipod-compatible DAC might not need any adapter.

  • Reply November 30, 2012

    Nuno

    Hi Mike, i´m Nuno from Portugal, a need your opinion about new headphones: as a source i use pc+audiophilleo+lavry da11 and now i have a dragonfly too.
    my question is: i have the audio-technica ATH m-50 and they are the only phones a know and i like them very much because i hear a lot a electronic music with sub bass(i dont like too much bass, only clean bass). i would like to by new headphone and read a lot about the audezes lcd 2 and the hifiman he-500. what headphone do you think are better for me?? tks 🙂

    • Reply December 3, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Nuno,
      Definitely the LCD-2 for bass.

  • Reply December 1, 2012

    Marc_D26

    Hi Mike, when are you going to post the Apex Glacier review? I can’t wait to read the full review based on your short impression on Facebook! Will you also review the RSA Intruder?

    • Reply December 3, 2012

      Mike

      Marc_D26
      I still haven’t received the RSA Intruder from Ray. The Glacier, perhaps next week?

      • Reply December 3, 2012

        Marc_D26

        Alright Mike. My problem is I will go to the States next week and I’m torn between the Glacier or other high-end amps (ALO, RSA, etc) and I’m actually planning to order the amp during this week so it could get delivered to my friend’s house by next week.

        Well if it doesn’t bother you, would you mind to share how the Glacier fare against several ALO offerings? Any shortcomings/weaknesses of the Glacier you found (SQ signature, noise, hiss, battery)?
        Actually I’m a bit skeptical because Todd said it’s only minor improvement in amp department compared to the Slim only due to the better power supply, the major one is the Cirrus Logic DAC chip .

        Thanks! I would really appreciate your help!
        *Fingers crossed* that you could upload the review soon 😉

        • Reply December 3, 2012

          Gorboman

          I’ve demo the Glacier, but only for a brief amount of time. My gripe was only with its price tag. Other than that, I think it’s a fine portable DAC/Amp.

          • Reply December 3, 2012

            Marc_D26

            Thanks Gorboman!

            Have you compared it against other portable amps?

            • Reply December 3, 2012

              Gorboman

              Unfortunately no. Even if I did, I can’t be objectively subjective. I don’t believe in measurements, but I do believe a comparison has to be made when the mind is clear to avoid bias. Right now, I’m still all over the Topping D1 Mark II.

        • Reply December 3, 2012

          Mike

          Well, alright
          RSA is your typical dark, full low end sound.

          With ALO you get a few different flavors. National is dark and with a full low end like the RSAs but also quite airy and spacious. Continental is very clean, excellent soundstage, punchy bass but not very low hitting. Very nice midrange. RX MK3 is spacious, awesome bass impact, very nice treble.

          Glacier is very spacious, forward and sparkly treble. Similar to the slim but I think more spacious than the slim.

          On the Portaphile 627 review I compared all those as well as the Glacier.

          What headphone or IEM are you using?

          • Reply December 3, 2012

            Marc_D26

            Thanks Mike!

            Does the Glacier still sound tubey & mid-centric as the Slim? Any notes on its bass performance? (its bass quantity and whether it’s punchy or great impact)

            When you said that the Glacier is very spacious in soundstage, is it as great as the RX Mk3 even in its balanced mode?

            I’m currently considering RX Mk3 or Continental other than the Glacier. I don’t know where the Glacier stand among them in terms of SQ and technical refinement.

            Have you compared the Glacier’s DAC quality against other portable/transportable DAC such as HRT, Centrance, etc?

            I own the Senn IE-80 and LCD-2, currently considering to buy either the HD800 or HD700 to be used with future portable amp for bedside listening.

            Thanks,

            • Reply December 5, 2012

              Marc_D26

              Any response Mike toward my questions above? Thanks, I would really appreciate your insights 🙂

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    ChrisTheConqueror

    Hello Mike, sorry to disturb, but i really need an amp recommendation. I have recently purchased a pair of Grado SR80i’s and while i love them sometimes, i also do hate them other times, mostly because the treble is so harsh or piercing that i feel the need to close the song. I have been thinking of getting something like an amp/dac that can tame the highs so my ears won’t hurt anymore but i really don’t know what to get. I have also been trying to EQ it, but the it sounds really muffled afterwards and i don’t enjoy them anymore.

    That, or selling the SR80 and getting a pair of Fostex T50RP because from what i understand orthodynamics don’t have a problem with piercing/harsh treble, although I’m not sure.

    I only listen to FLAC or MP3 at 320 bitrate so quality of the audio files isn’t a problem.

    • Reply December 3, 2012

      Trent_D

      Well, you might enjoy pairing them with the Matrix mini portable. Excellent bass weight with very full mids. It has a very dark tonality, so it will take the edge of the Grado’s harsh treble.

    • Reply December 3, 2012

      Mike

      Chris,
      It’s always best to fix the problem with a different headphone.

      The Fostex T50RP is very smooth and very flat, but it’s also very un-involving if you’re used to the Grado. Try the Mad Dog by Mr. Speakers. It’s more musical than the standard T50RP while still being a smooth orthodynamic. Next step up, try the Hifiman HE-400 or HE-500.

      • Reply December 3, 2012

        Trent_D

        Good advice.

      • Reply December 3, 2012

        ChrisTheConqueror

        Thank you for your answer. Any recommendation on anything in the 200$ range? Or should i just stick to my Senn HD 380?

        • Reply December 3, 2012

          Trent_D

          What type of music do you listen to?

          • Reply December 3, 2012

            ChrisTheConqueror

            I usually listen to classical music and rock.

            • Reply December 3, 2012

              Trent_D

              How is the HD380 on classical? If you are looking for a rock headphone with less abrasive treble, try the superlux hd660. Mike spoke very highly of it, and I have one on the way myself.

              • Reply December 3, 2012

                ChrisTheConqueror

                Honestly, to my ears, the HD 380 sound pretty good with classical. The highs and mids are very smooth and it seems pretty spacious for a 100$ pair of headphones. Also since the bass isn’t bloated it’s just perfect to hear the goodness out of the cellos (love them). I have listened to the DT880 and in comparison the sound seemed very metallic to my ears. Maybe it had a bit better of a soundstage and instrument separation, but otherwise i prefer the HD380.

        • Reply December 3, 2012

          Mike

          The HD380 definitely doesn’t have the bright Grado problem.

          Other in the $200 range, nothing I can think of at the moment Chris.

          • Reply December 3, 2012

            ChrisTheConqueror

            Well no problem then, thank you anyway Mike :).

    • Reply December 24, 2012

      dalethorn

      I paid $200 USD to Amazon for a ATH ESW9a and had it sitting around for awhile, until my wife decided to give it a good shakedown compared to her B&W P5. She dumped the P5 for the ESW9a. One caveat: I think any Grado fan would find the ESW9a’s lows excellent, but the highs are slightly soft, so it may be a great solution here, unless it’s too soft on the high end.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Jay

    Dear Sir/Madam:

    I am considering the purchase of a portable amp and would like to request your recommendation.

    My source is a Sony NW-A86x w/ .wav files. My IEM is the Shure SE535LTD and headphone is the V-Moda M-100. My preferred genre is R&B.

    The reason I am purchasing a portable amp is that I have discovered that the internal amp of my tiny source has its “limitations”.

    For the portable amp, my priorities are according:
    1. SQ (neutral and detail); and
    2. portability.
    Budget is of no concern.

    Your feedback would be most appreciated.

    • Reply December 3, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Jay,
      The 535LTD I don’t think requires an amp.

      The M-100 may need an amp, but I haven’t yet listened to it. @Julius and @Edd were the ones who did the M-100 review, I’ll ask them to help you with your question.

      • Reply December 3, 2012

        Jay

        Mike,

        Thanks for your feedback.

        I’ve listened to the SE535LTD w/ the same data on a more “capable” source, and it was much more detailed. Maybe it’s simply a matter of synergy.

        I do look forward to hearing from @Julius and @Edd per the V-Moda M-100.

        • Reply December 3, 2012

          Mike

          Then it’s the source quality that’s revealing more details. Get a good player?

          • Reply December 4, 2012

            Jay

            I was contemplating that thought. I didn’t know whether the internal amp of my Sony NW-A86x was having a difficult time driving my SE535LTD or the two just did not get along with each other. I do really like the sound characteristics of my NW-A86x, and would prefer to purchase a portable amp neutral enough to retain the same sound characteristics yet provide more detail-if that’s even possible.

    • Reply December 3, 2012

      Julius

      You do not need a lot of power output for the M-100. I ran my M-100 through the gargantuan Hifiman EF-6 ( made to drive the HE-6 ) and it didn’t do much for it. Power is the last thing on the list you need to worry about with the M-100. Find something spacious and potent on the low end. I recommend these three. Best of luck to you, make sure to report back here to tell us which Amplifier you ended up going for. These Portable Amps are my favorites, but I never recommend things I do not own or have not heard. I’ve never heard the Cypher Labs Solo setup, but odds are good that is much better than the three stand alone amps by themselves. If you decide to go with one of them I truly hope you enjoy it!

      The RSA SR71B – Balanced sound signature, moderate low end will tone down the potential the M-100 can offer. However, if your source player has decent EQ functions ( like the Cowon Daps ) then you need not worry. Its one of the most detailed and powerful portable amplifiers out there.

      TTVJ Slim – Potent, deep reaching low end with plenty of slam factor, nice spacious presentation ( noticeably more than the other two amps mentioned here ). Definitely not neutral, more metallic but not overly so. Its more suited for something like a Beyerdynamic or a Hifiman Headphone signature. Thankfully, the M-100 is far from warm and what I consider “true neutral”. In this regard, the TTVJ Slim should suit the tone of the M-100 very nicely.

      Practical Devices XM6. – Jam packed with features and the only amp of the three I recommend that can be tailored to suit your preferences without touching the Source EQ. It also is a bit more neutral in flavor but lacks the staging qualities the TTVJ Slim had.

      • Reply December 4, 2012

        Jay

        Julius,

        Thank you for your valued feedback. Though I know that your suggestions would provide stellar sound quality-as I’ve heard the RSA SR71B before, the three are a little two “big” for my portability requirements.

        Would you have any suggestions going down in size?

        • Reply December 4, 2012

          Julius

          Sure. The Ibasso T5 is your best bet if you want something really small. By this point, there are a few Portable players out there like the Cowon J3 or Hisoundaudio Rocoo Studio Daps that offer more by themselves. My J3 can test the limits of what the M-100 low end is capable of because the player has the best EQ ever in a portable player ( in my opinion ). You can make the earcups shake and vibrate. I recommend a Dap change over the addition of a portal slim amp. I only recommend them for use with other players that are not as good as your Sony, Cowon or Hisoundaudio players.

          Those players alone have much better output and driving ability than the Pico Slim or Ibasso T-Series. My Pico Slim actually downgrades the sound staging qualities of my J3 alone removes details and Bass potential. If I had one choice for a small slim amp, its the Ibasso T5 because its just about on par with just the Cowon J3 alone. I wrote a review on this amp on Head Fi but I do not want to link it here. Search ” IBasso T5 Mini Review ” and I am sure you can find it. I found it MUCH better than the Pico Slim but would still rather just use my Cowon J3 alone.

          • Reply December 5, 2012

            Jay

            Thanks Julius.

            I did read your iBasso T5 review and found it quite enlightening. Further, your suggestion to “upgrade” to a better player is most welcome and I’ve gone ahead and purchased a Cowon J3. BTW, when not utilizing an external amp, is the Cowon J3 your most preferred player?

            Thanks again.

            • Reply December 5, 2012

              Julius

              Right now, yes the J3 is still my preferred player when I am on the Go. The EQ and UI are unrivaled in the portable world in my opinion. Beyond that, the Hisoundaudio Daps are more clear and spacious sounding but at the cost of bare bones User Interfaces and no EQ functions. They are coming out with their new touch screen Dap called the Nova in just a few days. I have no idea what the EQ functions will be like or if it will be as nice as the Rocoo-P Player. If this Nova is as at least as good as the Rocoo P, then odds are good it will replace my J3 ( provided the UI isn’t bad and the EQ is great. ) But, I think you will find the J3 to be more than suitable for your iems and the M-100.

              Edit: It might be a good thing if they are out of stock at the moment. I say wait a few days, potentially up to two weeks or so until I get the Hisoundaudio Nova in hand. I can then tell you if it is better than the J3 or not. I know patience is really hard in this hobby, but the last thing I want is for you to toss your money on the J3 if the Nova turns out to be better.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Jack Harvey

    Yo guys at Headfonia. Just wanna ask if you guys got any recommendations for me. I lost my whole rig (yes whole rig) due to a nasty incident. In the process of rebuilding it now.

    I’m a student so wanna go for something not too cheap or exp with good quality. I am looking for a portable amp around 300-400 with good bat life and audio quality. Probably using with iems a some low impedance cans. Thanks guys. Big fan. 🙂

    • Reply December 3, 2012

      Trent_D

      You just need an amp? I really liked the JDSlabs C421. The ALO National also seems to be a good, all around performer.

      • Reply December 4, 2012

        Jack Harvey

        cool. whats the dif between the national and c421? want good bat life and sq thats all. thanks Trent got both on my list now.

        • Reply December 4, 2012

          Trent_D

          I haven’t heard the National, but to my understanding they are fairly similar with the C421 having more forward mids, bigger soundstage and clearer sound overall. It has USB charging and is about the size of a deck cards. The National has a darker tonality, and more impactful bass. It is larger, and has an AC charger.

          • Reply December 4, 2012

            L.

            I wouldnt recommend the C421 for sensitive low impedance iems.

            • Reply December 4, 2012

              Trent_D

              This man would know far more than I. Best to follow his advice. (I’m not an IEM user)

              • Reply December 4, 2012

                Jack Harvey

                Wow you guys know a lot. Well, let’s say im gonna use it with my IE80, probably some old impedance cans which one should i go for? Seems like the National is a better choice. Thanks people.

        • Reply December 4, 2012

          John Clare

          I’ve got both. I’m using the National instead of the c421 to tame the harshness of the AKG K550. The National is darker, little bit more bass, less airy. I honestly think the c421 produces a better, more neutral sound, but with the National + K550 I don’t have to worry about fatigue. So now the c421 is being used with my ODAC.

          If you’ve got a dark full size headphone and want to brighten it up, c421 all the way (with the OPA2227 opamp). And it’s a bargain too.

          • Reply December 4, 2012

            Trent_D

            C421 isn’t a bright amp. It just isn’t as dark ass the National. I am surprised you find the K550’s harsh, I never did. I bet the National helps with the bass impact though. I am curious, what source are you using the National, and (please don’t ban be from the boards for asking) what do you think of the ODAC?

            • Reply December 4, 2012

              John Clare

              Compared to the National, the c421 is distinctly brighter. But you are correct, the c421 is not bright over all – I would call it neutral. My portable source is the first generation CLAS. I love the ODAC. Best $150 I’ve spent in a long time. It’s tiny (half the size of the c421), USB powered, and has what I would call a truly neutral sound. To my amateur ears it is superior to the CLAS, but that’s the only other DAC I have for comparison.

  • Reply December 4, 2012

    Psycho

    Hi, I have fiio e10

    can I ask what setting you use in windows speaker properties >> advanced >> default format and foobar output data format and buffer length? Should I set it as 24 bit 96 k like what fiio can do?

    thans 🙂

    • Reply December 4, 2012

      Mike

      Hi,
      Sorry I don’t use foobar as I use Mac.

    • Reply December 4, 2012

      Trent_D

      what format are you outputting the music with? Are you running in shared or exclusive mode? If you are in exclusive mode, the settings their won’t matter.

    • Reply December 4, 2012

      Psycho

      Mike Thanks for your answer… Mike did you leave the audio setting to be default?

      Trent_D Thank for answering my question, I’m using it with wasapi, I have 16 and 24 bit audio collection (I need to set 24 bit for it to be playing)

      so if I just leave it to be default windows setting or sett as max as what fiio can do, the difference is minimal or rather the audio get upsampling, is it good or bad?

      • Reply December 5, 2012

        Gorboman

        I use Foobar and previously I was using WASAPI. Though seems to bring improvement to the sound, there were often clipping sounds occurred which bothers me. So I’ve decided to set the device maximum capability through the Windows playback device property and chose the corresponding DS from Foobar.

        • Reply December 5, 2012

          L.

          I use a pc + E10 + Asio at work

          • Reply December 5, 2012

            Gorboman

            Do you hear any differences between DS, ASIO, WASAPI, or KS? Assuming the setup and songs are the same.

            • Reply December 6, 2012

              Ken Stuart

              On Windows, my current sound quality assessment:

              Jriver > cPlay > foobar 0.8.3 > MusicBee > latest foobar

              I’m starting to think the Jriver’s 64-bit audio path is responsible for the improvement (with any Windows, don’t confuse this with Windows 64-bit). It costs US$50, but that is less than any other audio component, and supports all audio formats and is also a high-end video player as well. It’s developed by the same guy who created the .APE lossless file format.

              Anyway, while Jriver has the most sophisticated WASAPI implementation, I still find ASIO to sound better. Many people think this is because it is specifically designed for professional musician applications.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Psycho

      Oh yeah, I have some question now, I’m using it with hd 650, have good synergy right?

      recently, people I meet told me that I better spent my money for dac first than to purchase amp (my target is to buy crack + dacport lx), the reason I buy fiio e10 to act as temporary amp while saving some money to buy crack first (additional reason because i’m in Indonesia and still afraid to buy it directly from their site) and I can use it for my speaker if I didn’t use it again, nothing to lose, eh?

      so, is it better to buy dacport lx first? if that ok, I will running it ampless for a while… Thanks 🙂

      • Reply December 10, 2012

        L.

        I would start with the E10 + Crack + HD650. I had this setup recently at a meet and I was very pleasantly surprised with the E10

        • Reply December 10, 2012

          Psycho

          thanks for your answer L, you say that you use e10 + asio, you mean asio4all right?

          I use foobar 1.1.16 and asio4all 2.10, all default setting in both of them except foobar > playback > output : output data 24bit, buffer length 100ms, and device asio4all

          I try it and got no sound at all, my asio tray icon is red not green, any tutor or help?

          • Reply December 10, 2012

            L.

            Setting up the asio in Foobar sucks. In output, choose Asio4all. Then in output go to Asio virtual devices and configure your Asio driver or make a new config.

            In the config click config again and select your E10 unselect all the rest. then go back a screen and set your channels (left – right) and you should here a test sound in the correct channel.

            hope it works!

            • Reply December 10, 2012

              Trent_D

              Funny what that e10 can do.

            • Reply December 10, 2012

              Psycho

              okay now it works, many thanks L, but I need to unselect e10 input (2x 8-96khz 24bit) to make it work, only select e10 and e10 output (2x 32-96khz 24bit)

              for latency compensation, buffer size just leave it at default is okay, right?

              • Reply December 10, 2012

                L.

                That’s normal to only select the output. Buffer is ok. Enjoy!

  • Reply December 4, 2012

    Yannick Bisson

    Hi guys!

    I have a fairly simple question I wish some of you would answer:

    Is there an headphone amp I can mix with it?

    I am a producer / musician which have to mix and do mastering. I use my HD800 straight from the phone out of a RME sound card, (the UCX).

    I wonder if my mix would improve if I would use an headphone amp instead. (Having better definition, space information…ect)

    What I need is the “cleanest” non-intrusive, non-coloring, headphone amp..

    Thanks for answering!!

    Yann

    • Reply December 5, 2012

      Mike

      Yann,

      Thanks for reposting here. With a good amp the sound would have better definition, space, etc.

      The cleanest, non coloring amp, please look at the Lehmann Black Cube Linear, the SPL Phonitor/Auditor, and the Lavry DA11.

      http://www.headfonia.com/lehmann-black-cube-linear/

      http://www.headfonia.com/spls-phonitor-and-auditor/

      http://www.headfonia.com/lavry-da11-review/

      • Reply December 5, 2012

        Yannick Bisson

        Thanks! How about the Violetric V200? Or the Avenson HeadPhone amp?

        • Reply December 5, 2012

          Mike

          I don’t know how either amp sounds. Lieven did the review on the V200 so he should be able to comment. @headfonia_lieven:disqus

        • Reply December 5, 2012

          Vern

          Sorry, I’m not L, but I don’t think his answer will stray too far from mine. I hold the V200 in very high regards, but I don’t think it’s quite what you’re looking for. It definitely leans towards the colored side (I know this because I like the added warmth to my music).

          • Reply December 5, 2012

            L.

            Vern’s right. It is on the warmer side of the spectrum, not really neutral. No idea of the Avenson

      • Reply December 18, 2012

        Valentin

        Hmm… “Cube”. Now where did I read that word? 😉

    • Reply December 18, 2012

      Valentin

      How much are you willing to spend?

      A aprox 250 USD candidate is the Lovely Cube Amp. An exact clone of a more famous german amp, especially linear with HD800. Heck, they even used it as “the” HD800-amp when it was released.

      Another cheap option would be Objective2. Since it does exactly what you look for. Neutrality. I think the best part is using linear stuff and then listening to a euphonic headphone rig och speakers and getting goosebumps. Linearity in mastering is fantastic. Then everyone can tweak it to their liking. 😉

      Moving a bit more up a Kevin Gilmore Dynalo (DIY, or if you want it pre-made: e.g.Sheer Audio HA-006++ if you’re short on cash, or a balanced Dynalo e.g. Headamp GS-X for 2500 USD) is still 11 years later considered to be an extremely transparent and neutral headphone.

      I could go on for a while… So be more specific! 🙂

      • Reply December 18, 2012

        L.

        thx for the reply V 🙂

        • Reply December 18, 2012

          Valentin

          I only reply when (I think) I have a good answer. Thus my reserved contribution. 😉

  • Reply December 4, 2012

    Jack Harvey

    how’s alo national’s pairing with IEMs?

    • Reply December 5, 2012

      Mike

      Sure I use it with IEMs.

  • Reply December 5, 2012

    Alfy

    Can you review the auralic taurus?

    • Reply December 5, 2012

      Mike

      @headfonia_lieven:disqus (Lieven) was going to do that review. I don’t know if he still is going to.

      • Reply December 5, 2012

        L.

        Not at the moment. I listened to it though a few weeks back. Very neutral, analytic, light bass, lighter body. A great amp if you like neutral.

  • hey,i thinking in buy a senn hd 650 used and i saw they are great all rounder but i will hear mainly rock,eletronica,the hd 650 is for me? and i need a amp and dac under 500. for the hd 650.can you say me one ?thanks

    • Reply December 5, 2012

      Mike

      Try the HD600 instead, a bit faster pace for Rock.

    • Reply December 5, 2012

      Trent_D

      I have the HD650, and I don’t think it is for you. It has a thick, laid back sound that doesn’t do a great job transferring the energy that makes music like rock or electronic work. Jazz and Classical are well served by the HD650. The only rock headphone I have any experience with is the Superlux HD660, which is great fun, but I can’t tell you how it compares against other headphones with similar genre balance because I haven’t heard any.

    • Reply December 5, 2012

      L.

      Why not try the HE400?

  • Reply December 5, 2012

    sc_low

    Hey all,

    Something worth sharing here,
    Stand a chance to win the Benchmark DAC-1USB & The NightHawk headphone amp(i got news that they have not announce the winner yet) just by liking their FB page!

    http://www.facebook.com/TONEPUB2

    Visit here for more info http://www.tonepublications.com/

    Good Luck All! 😀

    • Reply December 5, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply December 6, 2012

    Ken Stuart

    Okay, so can you clarify what you mean by “dry” or “drier” in your reviews ? The recording studio use of the terms means “with no reverb”, in other words, the difference between the sound in your bathroom (not dry) and your closet (dry). But I don’t think that is how you are using the term in your headphone reviews, so it would be helpful to clarify this.

  • Reply December 7, 2012

    Davidson Sacluti

    Hey Guys,
    I Just bought an HD650 and wondering what would be the more beneficial upgrade i can make for about $300 or less.
    Would it make a better difference if i got a Dacport LX or Audinst HUD-MX1 compared to the Schiit Asgard Desktop Amp ?

    I currently have an Fiio D3 and Hifiman HM101 as source and only an Audinst AMP-HP as the amplifier.

    Thanks and I love reading your Articles for more information. 🙂

    • Reply December 7, 2012

      Trent_D

      Get the LX. You should have a little cash left over. Then, save up for a Bottlehead Crack (probably).

  • Reply December 7, 2012

    Mark Jamey Mauldin

    What is the best setup for getting the most out of an IPOD Classic and a good set of cans? I just bought a PA2V2. Do I need a good DAC also?

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      John Clare

      Bypass the ipod’s DAC by getting a Cypher Labs Algorhythm Solo (expensive for what it does in my opinion) or Fostex HP-P1 (more polished product, less clunky and less bulky than the Solo + an amp and it also has a built-in amplifier which you can choose to use or bypass).

      I would have bought the Fostex over the Solo due to value for money and utility but I got a lightly used Solo on eBay for a very good price and a whiplash twag2 cable thrown in. There is a subtle but noticeable improvement in sound quality when using one of these DACs.

    • Reply December 24, 2012

      dalethorn

      For best sound a low-cost PC laptop/netbook (Windows XP is best), or Macbook, with a Dragonfly DAC/amp. That package, especially if it’s a small netbook, is every bit as portable as the iPod with Fostex or Algorhythm DAC, and will sound much, much better.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Raúl Burgos

    Hello everyone!

    I want to polish my setup a little bit, but I am overwhelmed by its complexity.

    Right now I have a Dacport LX as the main source, a Little Dot MKIII tube amp and a Yulong a800 SS amp. My headphones are the Sennheiser HD 600, LCD-2, Beyer DT700 AE and UM Merlin.
    I also happen to have a couple of studio monitors Adam Audio A5X, which I use quite often.
    I am a bit bored of the complexity of my system and I am looking for a nice headphone amp/preamp that I can use with most, if not all, my headphones.

    If it would include a DAC, that would be perfect, although I can keep using my Dacport LX with it.
    My eyes were on the Burson Ha-160D, but I am open to other options. I liked the TubeDac-11 idea, but it looks more like a downgrade than an improve.

    The budget would be around 1500$. I listen to electronica & pop music.

    Thanks in advance!

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Marc_D26

    Hi Mike,

    It seems like my questions regarding the Glacier that I replied to your comment got buried down there and you didn’t realize it. So I will re-type it again:

    Does the Glacier still sound tubey & mid-centric as the TTVJ Slim? Any notes on its bass performance? (its bass quantity and whether it’s punchy or great impact for Rock)

    When you said that the Glacier is very spacious in soundstage, is it as great as the RX Mk3 even in its balanced mode?

    I’m currently considering RX Mk3 or Continental other than the Glacier. I don’t know where the Glacier stand among them in terms of SQ and technical refinement.

    Have you compared the Glacier’s DAC quality against other portable/transportable DAC such as HRT, Centrance, etc?

    I own the Senn IE-80 and LCD-2, currently considering to buy either the HD800 or HD700 to be used with future portable amp for bedside listening. Any impressions on those two Senns when used with the Glacier?

    Thanks very much, I would really appreciate your valuable insights!

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Iván Åminne Vigil

    Hi! First of all I really want to thank you for fantastic reviews.
    Then to my question; After reading about a couple of reviews on headphones I decided to try a couple of them out and got caught by the HD25-1 II. They deliver exactly what I am looking for in a pair of headphones sound wise. But then to my problem. I am looking for a full size head phone for home/studio use only, that covers my ears and may have a bit more relaxed fit.
    They do not have to be as easy-driven as the HD25-1 but I really would like them to have the same (or close to same) sound signature. Do you have any suggestions of what to look for? Best Regards, Ivan from Sweden.

    • Reply December 20, 2012

      Mike

      Ivan, sorry for the late reply.

      Try the Beyer T1? That’s the closest I can think of. Senn’s high end headphones are great, but they are not as forward sounding as the HD25-1.

      • Reply December 20, 2012

        Iván Åminne Vigil

        Thank you very much for your answer. They are a bit too expensive to me though. I am looking for something at about the same price as the HD25-1 II or maximum twice the price of them..

        • Reply December 20, 2012

          Mike

          Quite difficult to be honest. the HD25-1 is really unique, haven’t seen anything else with its sound signature.

          • Reply January 11, 2013

            Iván Åminne Vigil

            Well, thanks anyway 🙂

            It all ended up quite contradictious of me buying the AKG K550 together with a Fiio E10. Anyway, I am very satisfied.

  • Reply December 12, 2012

    Seth Morton

    Hi There,
    I have a pair of Denon AH-D1100’s and they’re my first semi-expensive pair of headphones as I come into being an audiophile. Does anyone else have a pair of these? How do they stack up to other big-name headphones in their price range like some Sennheisers or Grado’s? I have no past experience with any other models, but I’m really happy with the Denon’s so far. Anybody got some tips for a beginning audiophile on some other info on headphones or anything? I’ve also ordered a cMoyBB from JDSLabs.

    • Reply December 12, 2012

      Mike

      Seth,
      I dont’ personally own the D1100s but they are very popular headphones among the enthusiasts and I believe its because they have a sound quality to match it. Should be comparable to similarly priced Senns or Grados. Sound signature should be closer to the Senns rather than Grados.

      Guys,
      Is the D1100 the same as the Creative Aurvana Live? I remember someone telling me they’re the same.

      • Reply December 14, 2012

        Julius

        No. The Denon D1001 is basically the same as the Creative Live. The D1100 is much bassier and punchy, where the D1001 was smoother all around.

  • Reply December 14, 2012

    Ken Stuart

    I ordered the new Magni $99 Headphone Amp from Schiit today and received a tracking number in minutes. I live what is usually 1 day shipping from them, so I should have some comments this weekend.

    I’ll compare it to the JDSlabs Cmoy and a hybrid Class A headphone amp, using the HE-400 and the SRH-1840. Schiit does say:

    Q: Did you say this thing will drive orthos?
    A: Many of them, yes. The HiFiMan HE400 and HE500 do well with Magni, as well as the Audeze LCD2. The popular Fostex T50RP mods (Mad Dog, Paradox) are also a good match. HE-6, not so much.

    ( They could adopt the weird slogan ” I hope Santa brings me Schiit ! ” )

    PS The amp is priced so low because it currently only works with 120volt power, and only is sold directly from schiit dot com.

    • Reply December 14, 2012

      Mike

      Nice. Hope it sounds good.

      • Reply December 16, 2012

        Ken Stuart

        First impression of the Magni’s conclusion – probably better than most amps in this price range, not as clean, clear or transparent as $300+ amps, very good value for use with HiFiMan phones. Again, the Magni may not yet be “burnt-in” as it has only been playing for 3-4 hours.
        Longer form – much less congested than the JDSlabs CmoyBB with the SRH-1840, but more congested than my tube-FET hybrid amp. Also less colored than the Cmoy. But missing that perfectly clean quality of a higher-end amp.
        Lots of volume for the HE400. If someone is looking to spend less than $300 for an amp for the HE400, I think this is probably the best option, although actually I have never heard any of the FiiO or “O” gear.

        • Reply December 16, 2012

          Trent_D

          You ever heard the asgard? How do you feel that compares?

          • Reply December 18, 2012

            Ken Stuart

            Have not heard the Asgard.

          • Reply December 18, 2012

            Julius

            I like my Magni. For $99 I have no complaints. It is simple, stylish and powerful enough to drive my HE6 to uncomfortably high volume. This is a snappy little amp by comparison to the vastly more expensive Hifiman EF6, which sounded so smooth and slick with my Aune T1 and HE6. Lots more bite to everything, not nearly clear enough for the HE400 IMO, let alone the HE500.

            Definitely can push each to nice volumes. I’m working on the review. Trying to get my hands on the Modi. ( Zero chance its better than my Aune T1 Dac )

            • Reply December 18, 2012

              Trent_D

              Have you heard the asgard? My is burning in right now. I will start listening when I get home from work tomorrow morning.

            • Reply December 18, 2012

              Gorboman

              Is the Magni & Modi really for the US only? 🙁

        • Reply December 18, 2012

          Trent_D

          I concur with most of what Ken said here. I didn’t think that the difference in congestion between the cMoy and the Magni was as pronounced as he did, but the Magni was an improvement. It sounds a bit more dynamic, and a bit more spacious, but it is a tad brighter, so it could be the increased treble doing that. I am going to wait and say more after I have spent at least a few days with it.

          • Reply December 19, 2012

            Ken Stuart

            Jason at Schiit said to allow “50-100 hours” of burn-in time, so I am doing that.

            • Reply December 19, 2012

              Trent_D

              Jason told me 50, and I am going to give it that. The more I listen to it, however, the more I can’t look past one thing: an extremely narrow, shallow sound stage. It’s still a good deal for its price, but I don’t think I can live with the sound stage, even for rock. I might just need to save up for the asgard, which has (as I recall, it has been a little bit) a similar sound, but with a much better width and depth.

    • Reply December 14, 2012

      Trent_D

      I couldn’t resist and ordered one too. It will be interesting comparing it to the cMoy. I would also be curious to hear their new dac. $99 is a nice price point for a dac.

      • Reply December 14, 2012

        Julius

        I ordered the Magni as well. It will look awesome sitting under my Aune T1 Dac.

        • Reply December 15, 2012

          Trent_D

          We should do a three way review. Maybe they could send one of us a review sample of the asgard. It would be interesting to see how they compare.

  • Reply December 15, 2012

    Julius

    I just received my new revision Hifiman HE400. All I have to say at the moment is “wow”.

  • Reply December 15, 2012

    Ken Stuart

    Why is everything being released Too Late for Christmas ?? Incompetence ?

    Schiit Magni and Modi

    HRT micoStreamer and MusicStreamer HD

    Denon 600 and 7100

    Shure SE215LE

    Sony MDR-1R

    FiiO E12 and X3

    Philips X1

    and I’m getting the impression that all the other manufacturers are just even more late. 🙂 🙂

    • Reply December 18, 2012

      L.

      the Denons and X1 were in time for sure :p

    • Reply December 20, 2012

      Eric Thompson

      I totally agree with you on the Schiit and Fiio stuff, and sony has a portable iDAC, didn’t see that coming….

      • Reply December 20, 2012

        Mike

        Eric,
        The Sony portable iDAC sounds awful. We had one unit last time and not one person liked it.

  • Reply December 18, 2012

    Alfy

    Hey Mike! Will you be testing the Benchmark dac 2? looks intresting! And if you haven’t listen to the Auralic taurus yet, then you realy should! Its saild up as one of the favorite amps in Norway over the burson line! And another question.. or I think I know you will be testing Sennheisers new Amp line!!??

    • Reply December 18, 2012

      L.

      We will for sure test the Senn amps. I listened to the Taurus with the LCD2 and LCD3 and while it is a great and powerful amp with wonderful clarity, neutrality and detail, it wasn’t my thing.

      • Reply December 20, 2012

        Mike

        I didn’t know you have listened to the Taurus.

        When are you getting the Senn Amps, L?

        • Reply December 20, 2012

          L.

          Lots of stuff you don’t know 😉
          I’ve asked for them, waiting for a reply…

    • Reply December 20, 2012

      Mike

      Alfy, no plans for the Benchmark Dac 2.

  • Reply December 19, 2012

    Markus

    Hey guys,

    Is anyone familiar with the tube amp “Xindak MT-2”, in German they are selling it under the branch “Audreal MT-2”. It’s a tube amp with integrated DAC and can also be used as amp for high efficient speakers.
    output-power: 2 x 1,5 W-3,5 V/40

    Also wanted to ask you what kind of data (specifications) would be an indicator, whether an amp is suited for dynamic headphones, orthodynamics, etc…?

    • Reply December 20, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Markus,
      No idea about the Xindak/Audreal. Is it good?

      You can’t really read the specifications and know if it’s going to be good. This is why recommendations are good since it comes from people who’ve heard/own the pairing.

      • Reply December 25, 2012

        Markus

        From what I’ve read it should be really good, a real bargain and nearly a giant killer. Unfortunately in the world of portable Hi-Fi or Head-Fi the company is relatively unknown, compared to the more popular ones. I am really considering buying one because some people say it is that good.

  • Reply December 20, 2012

    Eduardo Biscaia de Queiroz

    Mike,

    I listen mostly to 80’s Pop songs (Hall and Oates, MJ, Madonna and so on. Some of them are unfortunately remastered versions). My plan is getting a DAC/amp (probably Yulong U100) and a US$300,00 headphone. Which one do you recommend? I want a neutral/slight warm, slight laid back voicing. Today, my system consists in a Fiio E10 and Senn HD202, I like that, but I want to get a system similar but improved.

    Thanks in advance,

    Eduardo

    • Reply December 20, 2012

      Mike

      Matrix Mini Portable with the Senn HD650. The Senn is the perfect upgrade for the 202. The Matrix, I think it pairs better than the Yulong.

      • Reply December 21, 2012

        Eduardo Biscaia de Queiroz

        Thanks for your reply, Mike.
        Is your DAC recommendation based on the fact that pop recordings have treble boost (specially the remastered versions that try to mimic current recordings)? I read your review about the Matrix and, if I’m not mistaken, the dac makes the sound even darker. Just a little afraid, because, I like treble (but not harsh treble). Another issue (I asked for help and now I’m just complaining, :)) I prefer something bigger (size-wise), so is there another DAC/amp that sounds similar to Matrix Mini?
        Last, do you have another headphone (now you’re gonna block me)? Only for opening my possibilities.

        Again, thanks for your help!

        • Reply December 21, 2012

          Mike

          Good thing you’ve read the review!

          yes the matrix isn’t going to help with the HD650’s dark sound. If you are afraid to go overly dark, then…

          What’s your budget? Dacport LX is nice if you want a less dark option. Then use a Cmoy for the amp. Or if you can afford a bottlehead Crack.

          These are all for the HD650.

          Or you can also try reading the Philips Fidelio X1 review see if it fits you.

          http://www.headfonia.com/tag/philips/

          • Reply December 21, 2012

            Trent_D

            I like the dacport lx with the HD650, and Mike is right, the HD650 has a very similar sound to the HD202, just upgrade.

            • Reply December 22, 2012

              Eduardo Biscaia de Queiroz

              Hi Trend,

              Thanks for sharing your thoughts. What amp do use?

              • Reply December 22, 2012

                Trent_D

                Right now, the cMoy. As soon as Bottlehead gets the parts in, the Crack.

          • Reply December 22, 2012

            Eduardo Biscaia de Queiroz

            Mike,

            Thank you! It’s really hard to me to decide which gear is better once I have nowhere to test them (I live in Curitiba, Brazil), such equipment is expensive and taxes are pretty high here, so it’s a lot of pressure to me to make that decision.

            • Reply December 22, 2012

              Mike

              Take it easy, Eduardo 😉

  • Reply December 20, 2012

    Roger

    I’m looking to buy a new headphone, and I’ve been looking at the Beyerdynamic T1 and T5p, as they seem to be the best fit with the music I usually listen to. They’re about the same price. You say the T5p is slightly below the T1 in your buyer’s guide, is it a relatively big difference? I would like closed cans to shut a little bit of noise out, but don’t want to sacrifice too much for it; as closed cans isn’t a must in any way, just a perk if I can get it.

    Also, do you have any recommended amp and source pairings with them? Got an Asgaard at the moment, but considering getting another amp and a source.

    • Reply December 20, 2012

      Mike

      Roger,
      The difference between the T1 and the T5p is there, but I wouldn’t sweat it. If what you need is a closed headphone, then go with the T5p. I think it’s a very strong candidate for my version of the best closed headphone in the market right now.

      Is this going to be for a desktop or portable system?
      If desktop, I would advice you to get the best DAC you can. The T5p will give you every penny’s worth of the dollar you spend on the DAC.

      Something like the Fostex HP-A8 perhaps?

      • Reply December 20, 2012

        Roger

        Thanks! Think I’ll go for the T5p then.

        It’s going to be for a desktop. And suprisingly, I actually found that Fostex for sale nationally. It can be a real pain in the ass if I have to order froam abroad, a £1500 item can quickly become £2,5k with taxes etc. And finding top of the line items isn’t easy here.

        Will it do fine on it’s own, or do you recommend something more? ( If you had money to waste, I guess. From the quick read through the review you did on the Fostex, it seems you found the amp decent enough). Probably not anytime soon, just wondering if I want something more in the future.

        Thanks for your help Mike,

        Roger

        • Reply December 21, 2012

          Mike

          I think the Fostex will be fine on its own… of course you can always hook it up to a tube amp.

          I think there should be a UK retailer for the Fostex since Edd gots his Fostex from a local source.

          • Reply December 21, 2012

            Roger

            Well, I’m not from the UK, but from Norway. And in a country with only 5 million people, not everything is easily available nationally. And with 25% base tax on import and other fees, things get expensive pretty fast. Only used the £ since I got the co.uk amazon searching for the Fostex.

            Thanks a lot for the help though Mike!

            • Reply December 23, 2012

              Valentin

              Hej Roger!

              Don’t want to contradict Mike. But I’d take a gooood look at T50RP Paradox. Fantastic headphone. Reference sound.

              /V

              • Reply December 23, 2012

                Roger

                Mike wasn’t the one who brought up the Beyer; from what I read it should fit pretty nicely with the music I normally listen to. I was wondering if I would go with the closed or open version, T1 or the T5p. He recommended the Fostex amp to go with it.

                However, I’m open to suggestions. I’m having a bit trouble finding the T50RP Paradox though. From 5 minutes of googling: it’s the LFF T50RP mod? Found him on the Head-Fi forum, and what seems to be a reseller of his (Referenceaudio) headphones. Is this the headphone you’re talking about?

                How do you think these would compare to the T1/T5p? It’s under half the price, so I guess that’s a good thing. But you wouldn’t really think they’d be comparable, as they are just that.

                • Reply December 23, 2012

                  Valentin

                  Hi mate!

                  The Beyers are ok. I find them to be a bit overpriced for the sound they bring to the table.

                  There will be a review of the Paradox in about 4-5 weeks here on headfonia. But in short I can say that it’s truly a reference headphone. How LFF was able to squeeze out that impressive sound from a 200 USD-headphone is a feat by itself.

                  1) it’s the best closed headphone I’ve heard. 2) it’s the most transparent headphone I’ve heard. In my book it can’t be compared to the rather harsh Beyer’s. I consider it a HE-500 but much more transparent (without the added warmth the HE-500 has).

                  The best way to explain it is the following. You’re listening the music/dac/amp without any headphone-related artifacts. It shows what the record/source has to offer without coloring the sound. I know, it sounds pretty boring. But it isn’t. The imaging, soundstage, frequency response is top-notch.

                  /V

                  • Reply December 23, 2012

                    Roger

                    Well, that is a really strong recommendation, to say the least. You definitely got me interested in them. And from what I’ve read so far about them, they seem to be great value for their price.

                    I see from the site that they come with some different cables, the stock Fostex at $500, $630 for Mogami, and $730 for Mogami with 4-pin XLR. Have you tried different ones? Basicly, I’m at a loss here, should I go for the ones with the better cables, or will the stock do? I see they also got further upgrades over “Mogami”. I have no idea when it comes to that, never recabled any headphones, and have no idea what difference it might make, and if it’s worth it.

                    I defenitly have to consider the Paradox though, I want to try them now. I might just get them either way.

                    Thanks Valentin!

                    • December 24, 2012

                      Valentin

                      Yeah you could say that 😉

                      The short answer to your question is no. The cable doesn’t matter from a sound-wise perspective. The question you should ask yourself is. Where will I use this HP? Might this change in the future?

                      I*ve tried (read: own) both a mini-XLR one and one with the Mogami 1,5 m long terminated in a 3.5 mm.

                      I prefer the mini-XLR one because it’s versatile. I can hopok up a short 3.5 mm-cable for portable use. I can hook up a long 4-pin balanced for home use etc. etc.

                      If you’re like “most” normal persons and run a Single-Ended amp. I’d recommend the Mogami 3.5 mm 1.5 m long.
                      It’s enough for most use and If you want to use it on a bigger desktop amp just add an 3.5 to 6.3 mm-adapter. I always think. It’s much more convenient to make 3.5 mm to 6.3 than the other way around. You can also add a extension cord this way, should you ever need it.

                      Can’t tell you much more about the HP before the review is public. Otherwise there will be no review left..

                      God Jul!

                    • December 24, 2012

                      Roger

                      Haha, totally get that. Thanks a lot. I might just be getting a pair after christmas.

                      God Jul

  • Reply December 21, 2012

    mechchimp

    Hello Mike and folks.
    I’m looking for an AMP/Dac combo to pair with my Beyers DT990 250 Ohm.

    I’ll use it mainly in connection with a laptop/computer (though something as a line-in or optical-in would be a plus).
    At first I thought I could go with an all-arounder and pretty cheap device as the E17: it gives me plenty of options and some control.
    I’m afraid though It won’t be enough to drive the 250 Ohm cans.

    My budget is around $ 150-20. Any suggestions?

    • Reply December 21, 2012

      Mike

      The E17 actually would drive the 250Ω Beyer with lots of room to spare.

      The amplifier section of the E17 is more powerful than a lot of the other DAC/Amp units below the $200-$300 range.

      And with the tone control, I think it would be good since I think the DT990 would require some treble softening (at least for me).

      • Reply December 21, 2012

        mechchimp

        Thanks for the prompt reply.
        Another similar device I could get hold of is the Audioengine D1.
        Have you ever had the chance to fiddle with it?

        • Reply December 21, 2012

          Mike

          Ah, no experience with the D1 really. I’ve heard good things about it, so if you feel like the D1 is a good way to go then go for it.

          • Reply December 21, 2012

            mechchimp

            Thanks for the reassuring reply about the E17. You convinced me I don’t need a more “powerful” amp than that.

            I have read pretty enthusiastic reviews about the D1 too.

            Sticking in that same class of devices I’ll either go with the Fiio or give the D1 a try.

            I’ll gladly report back, just hoping to be helpful.

            • Reply December 21, 2012

              dalethorn

              I have the D1, and unlike the E17 it has no tone controls. Worse though is the D1 will probably accentuate the headphone’s treble compared to the E17, which I also have.

              • Reply December 22, 2012

                mechchimp

                I was under the impression (unfortunately not from firsthand listening) that the D1 signature was on the “warm” side of the spectrum…

                Since you own them both (I’ve read your comments all across, the internet), could you please comment on the driving power of the 2 devices?

                • Reply December 22, 2012

                  dalethorn

                  The E17 is at least as good on medium power, and much stronger when switched to high gain. The D1 gets its power from the USB only, so it can sound strained on high volume with less efficient headphones. I don’t have the HD800 handy anymore, but that would make a good test for the D1. I also don’t know if having a powered USB or USB-3 port would help. I have run the D1 and Dragonfly side by side, and don’t hear a significant difference in quality (but the D1 is way ahead of the E17 in high freq. detail and “air”), but I have gotten bad distortion with the Dragonfly under certain conditions that didn’t affect the D1. In my tests of the E17 as a DAC, it and the iStreamer were clearly inferior to the D1, Dragonfly, and HeadStreamer. I use the E17 strictly as an analog amp from the i-device’s LODs.

                  • Reply December 23, 2012

                    mechchimp

                    Even though the volume itself wouldn’t be an issue (I tend to listen to my music at pretty low volume), I still fear the D1 wouldn’t help that much in driving the 250ohm of my DT990.
                    After reading your reply I think I’ll end up having a first-entry solution as the E17 (I might use it with my iDevices as well while I’m at it) and build a better desktop system (Dac + Amp) in time.

                  • Reply December 24, 2012

                    Ken Stuart

                    HRT have a brand new product that replaces the HeadStreamer (for use from non-i sources.)

                    • December 25, 2012

                      dalethorn

                      I checked every product on the HRT site, and found a Microstreamer that looks interesting (but no details), and a Headstreamer Mobile that looks like what everybody wants if the description is what I read into it. The Mobile would work as a desktop/laptop USB DAC and headphone amp, and also work with iPads with the free included adapter (not sure about iphones or ipods though). But for me the bottom line is, I found the FiiO E17 and HRT iStreamer to be clearly inferior to the Headstreamer, Audioengine D1, and Dragonfly DACs in sound quality. Why I don’t know. Because they don’t go above 48 khz bandwidth? I doubt that’s the only reason. When I made the comparison it was playing 320k MP3’s on both the desktop DACs and the iStreamer and E17 DACs, using headphones.

            • Reply December 22, 2012

              Mike

              Alright thanks!

  • Reply December 23, 2012

    Pkrdlr

    Hi Guys, Wishing everyone a happy holiday. What do you think of pairing my ad900 with ibasso d7, I can get one for $110 usd. Listening to Classical/Acoustic/Classic Rock from laptop. Thanks

    • Reply December 23, 2012

      Julius

      Ah man, tough call here. Would the low end quantity of your AD900 be vital to your happiness? If so, I’d recommend the Fiio E17 over the D7 in that case, I think it might be the wiser choice due to superior soundstaging. But, I recall the D7 sounding more clear by a narrow margin, but with less bass presence. Depends on your preference.

      • Reply December 25, 2012

        Mike

        What Julius said.

  • Reply December 23, 2012

    fsgb80v7cbwe

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  • Reply December 23, 2012

    lida

    Blogs you should be reading…

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  • Reply December 23, 2012

    N.

    Hi guys, I am looking a headphone and amp/DAC (whatever is necessary) to go with my laptop. I have been using the Westone UM3X for quite a few years now and I like it a lot. I am willing to pay $500-800 for a pair of headphone and an amp/dac (problably $300-500 for the headphone and somewhere under $300 for my amp) I listen to a lot of POP, J-POP, some Jazz, and electronics. Thanks guys

    • Reply December 23, 2012

      Valentin

      Does it have to be portable?

      If no…
      —————–

      Schiit Magni + Modi. (Haven’t reviewed it myself, but sources I have confidence in have given it praisings) + HiFiMAN HE-400.

      That should end up at aprox 700-800 USD with S/H and possible taxes. (200 USD for Modi/Magni 400 USD for HE-400).

      If yes…
      ——————

      Leckerton Audio UHA-4 + HE-400

      • Reply December 23, 2012

        Trent_D

        I haven’t heard the he400 or the Modi, but I can’t say that the Magni is that amazing. Granted, I am using the HD650, but I find my ears preferring the cMoy over the Magni. Also, Julius didn’t speak that highly of the Magni/he400 combo, but like I said, I haven’t heard it myself.

        • Reply December 23, 2012

          N.

          Thank you for the reply. I have been looking into the HE-400 and I think it would be a good fit for me. A couple questions, I live with a roommate. How loud is the noise coming out from the HE-400? He usually works in the same room and I don’t want to disturb him.
          What is the thing with rev.1 and rev.2? are there different versions of this headphone? I heard rev.2 is the upgraded version. How do I make sure I get the correct one?

          • Reply December 23, 2012

            L.

            I wouldn’t suggest the HE400 if you can’t leak sound. You’ll always get the Rev 2, the Rev 1 doesn’t exist anymore.

            • Reply December 23, 2012

              N.

              sound leak is definitely ok for me. I just heard that it is the leak is very loud (probably not gonna be a problem regardless)
              What amp/dac would you guys reccomend? I don’t need this to be portable. I am looking at the suggested mangi/modi, O2/ODAC, or the E17.

              Thanks for the reply for far XD

              • Reply December 24, 2012

                Julius

                Decide on a headphone first, after that we can better guide you to the right Dac and Amp pairing that will mesh well with it.

                The Magni’s 1w into 32ohm isn’t nearly enough for the Orthos. This is a $99 amplifier guys, I could not recommend an Amp this small with this type of power output for use with $400-800 headphones. Clarity is just great, but its a weak amplifier and needs a bass booster to sound GREAT with the HE400. If you have one, you will be very happy. If not, you are missing the amazing low end experience the HE400 was intended to provide.

                • Reply December 24, 2012

                  Valentin

                  I agree, and don’t agree at the same time. One has to be realistic too. If you spend 400 dollars on a headphone, not spending too much on the amp/dac is probably more realistic.

                  Of course it sounds better with a chunkier amp. But HE-400, LCD-2’s and LCD-3’s all have very good efficiency. A bigger amp has a better power supply, now that’s a whole different aspect.

                  😉

                  • Reply December 24, 2012

                    Julius

                    1w into the 35ohm HE400 with the Aune T1 is enough to make you def. 1.2w into 32ohm on the Schiit Magni is useless with efficient headphones. So, why not get something you can actually tube roll, something that sounds a little bigger with better separation? Something you can use as a Dac AND an Amp for very efficient to moderately efficient headphones?

                    The Aune alone is a little bit better on its own than it is when you connect the it to the Magni. If you pay $99 for the Magni, you still need a Dac. So you are going to spend another $99 or so anyway. If you do that, you cannot tailor the sound with Tube selections. Don’t get me wrong, the Magni sounds exceptionally clear for this price and with proper EQ for use with the HE400, the sound is excellent. However, via a Dacs line out where the low end is 100% reliant upon the Magnis Bass output, the HE400 low end experience is seriously lacking. It just doesn’t have the power and I will never recommend the HE400 for use with the Magni via THIS METHOD. It makes a GREAT office or college dorm amplifier, something to tote around easily. But, I’ll never recommend this as a “great amplifier” for the HE400. Its a great stepping stone amplifier to be used away from your home rig, that I can contest to and safely say its one of the best amplifiers for that type of situation. Office Workers, Students, casual listeners, bedside amplification needs…situations like this I would think the Magni excels at.

                    PC + Aune T1 + HE400 = Better than

                    PC+Aune T1 + Magni + HE400

                  • Reply December 25, 2012

                    Ken Stuart

                    Like a lot of audio, it depends on what you are looking for, and what you listen to.

                    For example, Schiit says that the Magni works fine with the HE400, and in fact, they are right in that it produces plenty of volume.

                    However, Julius pointed out the Magni was not as good as other amps in producing the best bass from the HE400, and after checking it out, I found that he was right.

                    Since the point of buying the HE400 is its superior bass detail, it seems counterproductive to then use it with an amp that cannot product that bass.

                    So, we have two different things – the headphones having enough sensitivity and the amp having enough wattage
                    to produce sufficient volume – which is what people usually mean by “it will work fine with that amp” – and conversely, the amp being able to produce the best qualities from the headphones (I think this is what people mean by “drive” the headphones).

                    • December 25, 2012

                      Valentin

                      I think this remains to be a question of how to squeeze out the maximum sound from a headphone within a given financial margin.

                      It also reminds me of the LCD-3 + 1000 USD amp or LCD-2 + 2000 USD amp.

                      I think that HE-400 is a fantastic headphone for the money. But how to squeeze out as much as possible for the remaining 300-ish dollars is an answer I should have avoided.

                      /V

                    • December 25, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      Nice job stating the difference between “working” and “driving”.

                    • December 25, 2012

                      Julius

                      Driving power is easy to find. The amount of voltage needed to “Drive” the headphone to a certain amount of volume is what Schiit means by “It works”. The Magni drives the HE500 extremely well and to deafening volume, more so with the HE400. But, it just lacks the clarity and bass output to allow me to recommend it. This is a budget amplifier that should be used with Budget Headphones. Good dynamic headphones like the HD598, Ultrasone Pro series, Grado 325i, Beyer DT880 and similarly priced sets with high quality to mid range price ratios are what the Magni is best suited for. These headphones are the very limit of what I would recommend the Magni for. Ortho Territory is a no no…

                  • Reply December 25, 2012

                    Trent_D

                    But, one the other hand, if I am going to spend $400 on a pair of headphones, I would want to be sure I could do them justice, or I might feel like I wasted that 400.

                    • December 25, 2012

                      Valentin

                      I think this is getting blown out of proportions. “Wasted” makes it sound as if it’s an iPod we’re discussing. You guys are free to continue this discussion. I don’t see how I can add anything else except for this. I apologize discussing an amp/dac that I haven’t heard with my own ears. I still stand by the fact that the HE-400 is the best 400 USD-headphone on the market currently. However 200 USD-amp/DACs isn’t my speciality. /V

                    • December 25, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      First, I want to say, I still very much enjoy my iPod. I just meant to say that what can happen is someone buys something new and fancy, expecting it to blow their mind, and end up disappointing because it doesn’t redefine the world as they know it. Of course, that could happen even with the best gear. I should have thought out my statement a little better.

                • Reply December 24, 2012

                  N.

                  Thanks again for the reply

                  After some thoughts and a lot of research, I think a closed headphone would suite me better. I prefer something fun, musical, and darker sounding. What is the best option for &300-500 price range? These are options I have found – Sony MDR-7520, MDR-1R, AKG-550 (might be too technical sounding for me), M-100 (I like bass, but this one seems a little bit overwhelming). I am open to suggestions and would really appreciate it if anyone can specify which of these headphones would fit my taste.

                  • Reply December 24, 2012

                    Julius

                    I think the majority would say the Sennheiser Momentum fits the bill.

                  • Reply December 24, 2012

                    Gorboman

                    The Momentum is dark and quite musical, but I don’t think it’s in the fun category. I see fun as having a good PRaT. The Sony MDR-1R fits better for that description, though much less dark IMHO.

                    Personally, I would choose the T50RP Mad Dog by Mr. Speakers with Dog Pads. And for an open back one, I’d choose the HiFiMan HE-400 rev 2. However, both are orthos so you might want to consider pairing with the right amp.

                    • December 24, 2012

                      L.

                      Really? The Momentum = 200% fun. Absolutely didn’t like the Mad Dogs. The HE400 doesn’t need much of an amp, the great C421 will do just fine.

                    • December 24, 2012

                      Gorboman

                      Yes. The Momentum was not fun when I demo it. More laid back IMHO. For fun cans, I’d be referring to HD25, Amperior, DT770/80, or perhaps V-Moda M80 if one prefers a little bit more bass.

                      I agree on the amp. And yes, the Mad Dog is not for everyone. The HE-400 rev 2, on the other hand, is. But it’s an open back design which some people might need closed back instead depending on where they will be using the headphone.

              • Reply December 24, 2012

                Julius

                Oh also, I made a video that should answer your question on leakage. enjoy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Cheou2FdpY

              • Reply December 24, 2012

                Ken Stuart

                The sound leak on the HE400 is definitely louder than any other headphones (except for other planar design headphones). I think that the leak is actually louder than the side facing the ear (not joking).
                I agree with Julius that the Magni and the HE400 are not a good fit, and another reviewer finds the O2 sounding very close to the Magni, which means that it may not be the right match – check with someone who has that combo.

                • Reply December 24, 2012

                  L.

                  I will try that for you 😉

      • Reply December 24, 2012

        Julius

        Who are your sources ? heh, I disagree with them

    • Reply December 24, 2012

      Julius

      Why upgrade if you like the Westone? I’m going to say all you need is the Sennheiser Momentum ( $350 ) and the Fiio E17 ( $135 ). The Magni or one of the more recent Cmoy BB amps are optional. You might not need it. Invest in a decent interconnect if you do decide you want more power.

      • Reply December 24, 2012

        N.

        Well, I am a little bored of the Westone and a nice desktop set up would be nice. I plan on using the new set in-house, so I can perhaps get something more substantial. The Sennheiser Momentum and Fiio E17 seem really practical for now.

        • Reply December 25, 2012

          Mike

          Momentum and the E17 sounds good.

  • Reply December 24, 2012

    Steven Setiawan

    Hello Mike or L.. Now i have hm 601 dap.. How ur opinion about hm 601 with soundmagic a10 via line out.. Would soundmagic have better sq than stock hm601 amp ?
    Thanks.

    • Reply December 25, 2012

      Mike

      I would go with the 601 direct out.

      Unless an amp is absolutely necessary, you’ll lose the resolution of the 601 DAC if you lengthen the path of the audio signal.

      The A10 is a nice warm amp, but not the most powerful or the most transparent amp.

      • Reply December 25, 2012

        Steven Setiawan

        So direct from the headphone out of hm 601is thebest ? How with pair with alo national.. Would the resolution lose too? Ohh btw i will pair hm 601dap with asg1 and tf 10..

        • Reply December 25, 2012

          Mike

          With those IEMs, I wouldn’t worry about amping really.

          If you want an upgrade get the HM-801 or the upcoming HM-901.

          • Reply December 25, 2012

            Steven Setiawan

            Seems now stick with hm601… Waiting for hm 901 and save the money for it..

            Btw Merry Christmas Mike And big thanks 🙂

            • Reply December 25, 2012

              Mike

              Alright Steven!

  • Reply December 25, 2012

    ryan

    Hey mike, is there any difference in sound between the old and new ltd edition se215? I know it’s a downgrade from my 535, but I am looking for an iem with more bass.

  • Reply December 25, 2012

    ChrisTheConqueror

    If anyone could help me with another recommendation i would really appreciate it. How would one compare the sound of AKG K550 to that of the Beyer DT 880 Premium? I tried to Beyers for 3 hours or so and i have to say i hated it’s sound. Other than a bit more bass than i’m used to (i don’t really listen to bassy music) i found them lacking very much. The sound was just so metallic and the sibilance very annoying. Compared to my Grado SR80, even though they have a bit more sibilance on some tracks, on other i’ve found them much more pleasant and revealing that the DT880. Also i have a pair of HD 380 Pro and even though they are not more revealing, they are much more enjoyable to my ears. No sibilance (except on REALLY loud volumes) and a non-metallic sound. Pretty weird because the DT 880 costs almost 3 times than any of these but i hate it so… Pretty long post but i just wanted to tell you about my musical preferences :).

    • Reply December 26, 2012

      Mike

      Hard to say Chris.. from your long post I’ve only been able to tell that so far the Grado is your safest bet. Or the Sennheiser headphones like the HD650.

  • Reply December 25, 2012

    jabse

    Hey, how does the soundstage of the Philips Fidelio X1 compare to the he-400’s? depth/imaging/separation, is the bass full bodied with enough impact? or more boomy sub bass…

    I really need an AIRY/immersive pair of headphones for trance, so should i pull the trigger on the philips?

    • Reply December 26, 2012

      Mike

      The soundstage of the X1 is good, comparable to the HE-400 with different strength and weaknesses. The bass is full bodied and has good impact.

      If you are really looking for a dedicated trance headphone, the HE-400 is the better choice IMO.

      • Reply December 26, 2012

        jabse

        hmm interesting, but I heard X1 is more open sounding/airy.. is it not? if you had to label one of the phones to have an “immersive” soundstage, which would it be?

        also any genres you prefer X1 over he-400? Thanks.

        one last thing, does the X1 respond well to EQ’ing?

        • Reply January 7, 2013

          Mike

          Yes the x1 is more airy. Immersive soundstage, I think a bit more on te hifiman.

  • Reply December 25, 2012

    Charlie Rysavy

    Hi! Thank you for your informative reviews. I have a difficult time choosing my first DAC to use with my M-Audio AV40 active speakers. I am choosing between:

    1) Audioengine D1 (features are awesome, but how does the sound compare to HRT products?)

    2) HRT Music Streamer II

    3) HRT Music Streamer II+ (From what I’ve heard, the smaller brother is good enough, but since I don’t like compromises, I’d probably go for this one, if it turns out to be the best option, despite costing almost twice as much as the other options… )

    4) Arcam rPAC

    5) Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100

    6) Audinst HUD-MX1

    7) CEntrance DACport LX

    Please, help me decide, the more I read about these products, the more indecisive I am. Features are nice, but I ultimately prefer the best sound quality. Also, bear in mind my speakers, the M-Audio AV40, if you have any experience with them. Thanks!

    • Reply December 26, 2012

      Mike

      Charlie,
      I can’t tell you about the D1 and the rPAC since I’ve never listened to them.

      The HRT MS2+ and the DACport LX are roughly equal. What would be the better choice? I can’t tell you, it’s simply the case of two different sound signatures. I suggest you choose one and enjoy it.

  • Reply December 26, 2012

    Ivan Ivankavich

    Could anyone please comment on how the Matrix M-Stage compares to the Schiit Asgard with HE-400? I’m a little torn because most of HeadFi is recommending the M-Stage but over here at Headfonia I think it was Mike who said the Asgard sounded more “refined”. I’m thinking about getting the M-Stage to power my HE-400s, and then add in the OPA627. I can’t decide between these two amps, they both seem excellent! I also have a pair of DT880-250s that I’d like to power with the amp. Also, will burn in help with the HE-400? They so far have about 30’ish hours, but the little booklet that came in the box is recommending 150. They seem to be just as harsh as my DT990s…my ears are very afraid of turning up the volume with these cans. Might end up trading these for HD650s if burn-in and a new amp doesn’t help this piercing treble…(I have the “translucent” and white drivers, not the defective sandy ones)

    • Reply December 26, 2012

      Mike

      Ivan,
      I haven’t tried them with the HE-400, but the M-Stage is much better in driving the older generation Hifiman HE-5, HE-5LE than the Asgard.

    • Reply December 26, 2012

      Julius

      Don’t worry about Burn In. Just enjoy and let them break in with natural usage!

      I’d take the Matrix over the Asgard, but both of them are a bit overkill for the HE400 and your DT880 will like the MStage more. Better low end on the M-Stage in my opinion. I’m sorry to hear your ears are not enjoying the HE400. Trust your instincts, your gut knows best.

  • Reply December 27, 2012

    Kendric

    Hey Mike. Thanks for all the great articles for all the audio enthusiasts out here.

    I would be curious to see how you review the Hisound Audio’s Studio-V 3rd Anniversary Edition, many people out there who were primarily piqued by the comparatively monstrous battery life (to C4 and the hifiman) would probably be interested too.

    Regards,
    Kendric =)

    • Reply December 27, 2012

      Mike

      I know the local importer for Hisound. Will try to ask him but it won’t happen until next year. 🙂

    • Reply December 27, 2012

      Julius

      Jack is a very good friend of mine. I planned to review the Nova Dap soon, but did not plan to hear the new V Revision.

    • Reply January 7, 2013

      Mike

      Thanks Kendric. I’m still waiting for the local distributor to get their copy.

  • Reply December 27, 2012

    ryan

    I have thought getting another headphone for home listening. Is my current graham slee srgII sufficient for either sennheiser hd700/800 or beyer t1?

    • Reply December 27, 2012

      Mike

      For sure yes. Power wise, at least.

      • Reply December 27, 2012

        ryan

        I have booked the T1, going to get by next week. How’s the synergy between the srgii and T1?

    • Reply January 7, 2013

      Mike

      Yes it should be sufficient

  • Reply December 27, 2012

    Carl

    I’ll try to keep this as short as possible!
    Firstly, what a great site this is! I’ve been coming here to read and just generally enjoy myself for ages; the site is wonderful aesthetically and the photos are the cherry on the cake, and I am in awe of just how much you guys put into this place, especially with how much time you all spend answering questions. You really have something special going here.
    Now that I need purchasing advice I feel okay about using up a little of your time! My father had an AKG 240MkII and a Fiio E7 and listens to a lot of late 50’s & 60’s rock/pop and various genre’s thru the 70’s. He was happy with those but the AKG’s died and I want to replace both(240’s + E7). Funds are pretty limited so what is the minimum you would recommend that would give me a noticable step-up in quality?

    So much to choose from – he listens for hours on end(comfort important)and I suppose he is easy to please so I’m trusting your judgment on what constitutes the next step up from what he had.
    Been thinking of stuff like Beyer DT770LE, AKG550, Sony MDR-1R, Philips Fidelio L1/X1 …. Out of those perhaps, or something else? Been reading some nice things about the Sony’s and they are apparently VERY comfortable?
    And then a portable amp that would suit the ‘phone.
    If you could maybe give me two recommendations – two ‘phones, each with a well-matched amp, I’d be very grateful!

    Apologies for long post, and again, this place is the bee’s knee’s!
    Be well.

    • Reply December 27, 2012

      Mike

      Carl,
      Thank you for the very kind words. Without visitors like you asking questions I don’t think we’ll be the site that we are now.

      I got the impression that your father is absolutely in love with the K240, and I’m a bit hesitant to recommend another headphone since there may be aspects of it that he doesn’t like. He seems like the kind of guy who just want to enjoy the music without having to go through several pairs of headphones, and if the K240 has been his companion, then it would be my first recommendation above anything else.

      If you want something different, what I would recommend for now are:
      DT770 LE
      MDR-1R
      Senn Momentum

      The K550 and the Fidelio, while also very nice, are quite different than the K240. I think your father enjoys the smooth and laid back sound of the K240, and the Sony 1R and the Momentum are a nice upgrade for that type of sound.

      Amplifier, try the Fiio E17 it’s quite a step up from the E07, and with the tone controls he can adjust bass/treble to his liking.

      • Reply December 27, 2012

        Carl

        Mike,
        Thanks so much for the prompt reply, and for your thoughful answer, I really appreciate it. You make a good point that never even occurred to me – that yes, he did love those ‘phones and that perhaps I should get another pair of them. I think(but this is my personal perception of what I would like!)that he might like to begin a new journey with his music listening to different(‘better’?)’phones. But that’s my inclination. I think I will ask him what HE thinks!

        This is what strikes me about Headfonia – you have set up an environment in which you go the extra mile, in all departments. The insight you have shown to my question is great and your extra suggestions give me just the information I need.
        I wish I’d have asked earlier as I’ve been agonising about this for weeks!
        Next I’m going to be choosing a ‘phone + amp for myself so I hope to involve myself a little more as time passes.
        Thanks again Mike.
        Be well.

        • Reply December 27, 2012

          Mike

          Thanks Carl, glad to be able to help you out even if just a little.

  • Reply December 28, 2012

    Grandorn

    Hey everyone,
    As everyone has stated before, first off thanks for the fantastic reviews. You guys have really helped me ease in to the audiophile world, and quality reviews are what keep me excited 🙂
    Anyway, I recently purchased the Brainwavz B2’s for myself (pretty much same as the fischer Dba-02’s for those of you that don’t know), and I was wondering what a good sub $200 amp would be for it (doesn’t have to be portable, but it would be preferred . I have an e11, which I bought for my hifiman re262s, and I thought it was a great match, but for my B2s the e11 just doesn’t seem to match as well as it did with my hifimans. So, what would be a good amp to compliment the bright aggressive nature of the b2s?
    Also, I was reading up about the sibilance these IEMs have present, which is painful on some tracks, and ended up ordering some ety triple flanges. Hopefully that will help, but are there any tips you prefer for brighter IEMs? Thanks everyone, and thanks for the amazing site 😀
    Oh, and my source is an ipod touch 4th gen with FiiO l3 LOD for potable, and a FiiO e10 as my DAC on my computer (usually paired with an amp).
    Thanks again.

    • Reply December 28, 2012

      Julius

      My favorite IEM portable amp is the RSA SR71A. I got mine used for under $200 so if you can do the same, I say its worth a shot in at least trying to find one used. If you can’t locate one, I say hang out for a while and lets see how the new Fiio portable amp sounds.

    • Reply December 28, 2012

      Mike

      What tips would work for brighter IEMS… I really don’t have a solution to this one. Have yet to come across some tips that works for reducing treble.

      As for amping, the SR71A Julius mentioned is a great amp with a dark sound signature. You can also try the Matrix Mini Portable (http://www.headfonia.com/tag/matrix/) which I believe now is the darkest sounding portable amp around.

  • Reply December 28, 2012

    Chris Allen

    Any word for a review on the new Schiit Magni and Modi?

    • Reply December 28, 2012

      Julius

      still waiting on my Modi to arrive, ive been playing with the magni for a while

  • Reply December 28, 2012

    Davidson Sacluti

    Hello there,
    I currently have the Audinst AMP-HP as my main portable amp and i’m wondering if the JDS Labs C421 would be a good upgrade?
    I only have a UE TF10 and an HD650 being used at the moment.
    More power through the next year ! 🙂

    • Reply December 29, 2012

      Mike

      I think the C421 is a smoother amp and would be a better pairing for the TF10 and the HD650.

  • Reply December 28, 2012

    Uwe Schubert

    Hi, my ATH ES10 needs a rewire (damaged cable/jack). I tought to take this occasion to chose a new cord with inline remote and mic (for iPhone use). Do you have any experience with rewiring headphones with remote/mic functionality? Is it possible to use existing custom IEM cords? Thank you for you help!

    • Reply December 29, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Uwe,
      I have never done it, but I don’t think it would be any different than rewiring a standard headphone. The microphone is already built in on the cable, and you just need to reattach the headphone cables to the headphone drivers.

  • Reply December 30, 2012

    Robert_T

    Hello Mike and company, really great resource you guys put up here, coupled with very informative reviews. Just wanna ask you guys for recommendations as a lot of new headphones are coming out and about, and it’s now really hard for me to decide for the right one, especially since it’s really hard for me to audition headphones here in my area.

    I want to go for something sub 250$; looking for an all-rounder headphone. I’m currently looking at MDR-1R, MDR-MA900, HD598, HD600(used), AKGK167, BeyerDynamic DT770 LE, Fidelio L1/X1, V-Moda M80, I’m expecting you haven’t auditioned all of these cans, however, from those that you already auditioned or have; in your opinion, what would be the best cans for most genres from a price/performance standpoint. I listen to a lot genres, though my current preferences are rock, jazz, vocals, and EDM.

    Thanks and have a nice day 😀

    • Reply December 30, 2012

      Julius

      I’d suggest the HD598 or the Momemtum. Both seemed exceptionally well rounded. Out of that list, the only one I have not heard was the Sony 1R, so I can’t really comment on that.

      • Reply December 30, 2012

        Robert_T

        I’ll keep those suggestions in mind. Thanks.

        I have a slight preference for closed phones though. How do you think the Beyerdynamic AE, Fidelio X1, and K550 stacks up with respect to rock, jazz, vocals, and EDM in comparison with the HD598 or Momentums.

        • Reply December 30, 2012

          Julius

          The K550 would be dead last on the list for well rounded sets I would recommend. I also dislike the Beyerdynamic house sound. I prefer a warmer and smoother tonality so I stick by my Momemtum recommendation even more know seeing as you are leaning towards closed back. You can’t go wrong with the HD598 or the X1. The Sennheiser is leaner on the low end, wider sound stage. The X1 is heavier on the low end and more deep sounding. Both are very good for slow paced vocals and I tend to gravitate for the X1 for Jazz. Best of luck Robert, let us know what you end up going with!

          • Reply December 30, 2012

            Robert_T

            Sure thing,
            Now, only problem with the Momentum is that I can’t find any deal of it for 250$, which narrows down my choices. As of now, it’s Fidelio X1, HD 598, Beyerdynamic 770 AE, Sony MDR-1R, or MA900. Honestly think my decision would be highly dependent on the deals that will come about in the next couple of days haha :D.
            Regardless, Thanks again for the help bro!

            Anyhoo, any other insights by other people on these cans for the above genres?

            • Reply December 30, 2012

              Julius

              I thought I saw some used and refurbished Momentums on Amazon within your budget. DAHMARK has them, but I avoid them like the plague.

              • Reply December 30, 2012

                Robert_T

                I could go with used and refurbished; however, the only ones below $250 are from dahmart. Too hesitant to order from them based on reviews.

                • Reply December 31, 2012

                  Trent_D

                  I ordered my HD650 for DAKMART which is DAHMARKs own website. I ordered over the phone so I could use paypal (in-case of trouble), but my order had no hassles.

                  • Reply December 31, 2012

                    Julius

                    They have the worst reputation ever.

                    • December 31, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      Maybe I got lucky. They are on Sennheisers list of authorized retailers.

                    • December 31, 2012

                      Julius

                      Dakmart changed their amazon name to DAHMART due to the overwhelming negative feedback. Dakmart is on the list, Dahmart is not. Look up the reviews on google for a good laugh. They’ve had an F rating with the BBB for years.

                    • December 31, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      I have seen some of the review. I took a risk and it would seem I got lucky.

                    • December 31, 2012

                      Ken Stuart

                      I purchased my Senn RS180s refurb from them – everything was in perfect condition, and has always worked perfectly, and includes a warranty from Senn.
                      My overall experience is that some retailers have worse customer service IF you have some sort of problem, but if you don’t have a problem that requires customer service, then you won’t encounter the sort of situation that causes the bad reviews.
                      In the case of Dakmart, it is possible that they have cleaned up their act recently, as most of the horror stories are from some years ago.

    • Reply December 30, 2012

      Gorboman

      In addition to what @disqus_SyAs0hkjvj:disqus have said, the 1R is an allrounder, but I found it to suit mainstream music more. The MA900 is also an allrounder, but it’s an open back. I don’t think both are picky with audio setup.

      • Reply December 30, 2012

        Robert_T

        Thanks for the insights.

  • Reply December 30, 2012

    Ted Tillholm

    Mike & Co.

    Any insights on headphone recableing? Or what’s your take on boutique cables?

    • Reply December 30, 2012

      Valentin

      This is my own personal view, others may feel different…

      Cables to me are primarily about comfort/customization. Not about sound.

      I like thin/flexible cables with just the right length and the right termination. There is some difference in sound. However, I won’t say improvement. Thin/thick, silver/copper etc. can work like low-pass/high-pass filters. Like a very light EQ.

      So in short. Boutique cables can be prettier. They can be more ergonomic (sometimes less ergonomic… i had a cable that weighed about 600 gram… not fun). They can change the sound very-very lightly.

      A 100€ cable can sometimes be worthit, through the added ergonomics/design. A 800€ cable… Never. I would buy so many other more important items before I would even consider such a thing… And then, even if I had all headphones and amps in the world (that I’d like to own), I’d probably invest it in a ski trip to the Alps.

      /V

    • Reply December 30, 2012

      Julius

      For the most part, I agree with Valentin. However, there are some headphones that benefit from recabling a great deal. I recabled my JVC DX1000 and struggled to find the proper cable type to not alter the sound, i wanted a shorter and thinner cable but one that did not alter sound quality at all. I went through multiple cables and some of them made the headphone sound immensely bright and painful in the upper region, others muffled, and one significantly decreased bass output. Why? Silver and Copper Cabling have different molecular properties and end up not working well with certain types of electronics.

      Cyro treatment generally proved this theory that Cables and interconnects that are seemingly astronomically priced as absolutely needless. Placing the Cable or even Tubes inside a chamber that dips down to under negative 100 degree F usually alters the cables molecules for the better. Making electricity transfer more efficient, more smooth and usually helping smooth out the upper regions. There is no question my $5 Monoprice RCA cable sounds inferior to my $65 Epiphancy Acoustics Atratus. But, I never heard a difference between the Atratus and the $200+ cables of the same length. It is only with long cable lengths that cables end up sounding different in that price range, the longer is it, the more shielding is needed and the more likely signal interruption will take place somewhere. There is no special warehouse or factory that produces special copper or silver cables. Almost every custom cable maker gets their products pre made by a factory somewhere and then adds their own shielding, logos and cables. The metals used in the fibers themselves are not any different in a cheap cable to an immensely special one. Its price mark up and demand. Some machinists and factories will produce higher purity cable fibers than others. They cost a few bucks extra to the factory to produce, a few hundred for you to buy.

  • Reply December 30, 2012

    Spencer Chan

    Ok guys, I know we all face this problem: to many amps, not enough sources.

    My current setup revolves around a single DAC with multiple amps and I am running into the first world problem of getting annoyed at having to un-plug and re-plug the RCA cables when switching to another amp. Most of the AV switches I see online are for multiple sources going into one output: I need the REVERSE, single output to multiple sources.

    I could always use ratshack style passive RCA splitters, but I am concerned about signal quality degradation.

    Anyone have any suggestions on a switch to accomplish this mundane task? Or perhaps point me in the direction of an EXCELLENT splitter?

    • Reply December 30, 2012

      L.

      I mostly use RCA splitters if I have to use 1 dac. Or I use a preamp, that way I can use multiple amps at the same time. I’d go for RCA splitters or a switchbox. Decware has a nice one

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Isaiah Mackler

    I’m loving the DT770 AE. No doubt about it. Still, the Momentum has been flirting with me. I can’t imagine it replacing the DT770AE though. All that to say, what is your portable, over-ear/on-ear rig, that as of right now, you wouldn’t part with? (Include source, amp and of course headphones!)

    • Reply December 31, 2012

      L.

      CLAS + C421 + iPod + AE for me

      • Reply December 31, 2012

        Isaiah Mackler

        I bought a black C421 just because of how good the picture looked on FB of your set up. Well, not just because.. But it didn’t hurt!

        • Reply December 31, 2012

          L.

          I hope you’re happy with the sound?

          • Reply January 1, 2013

            Isaiah Mackler

            Its a stellar combo. The mids are ridiculously good w/ OPA2227 and DT770. I’ve been doing some ABing w/ my HD600 and Neco Soundlab V.3 and had a tough time deciding which I liked best. And I love the HD600.

            • Reply January 2, 2013

              Mike

              WOW that sounds very good. Happy to hear that, Isaiah!

              Yes for the record me and L are heavy HD600/650 fans as well.

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Julius

    I need a new closed back over the ear set. My DX1K finally died. RIP.

    I am torn between the Momentum and the Beyer AE. I’ve gotten a chance to hear both, but not through my own gear and with my own music. I guess I am looking for some reassurance. I am not sure which one was capable of the larger sound staging. That’s my main focus at the moment, second to that would be the deepest bass. I am leaning towards the Beyer due to the price. What do you guys think? Something to seriously complement my HE500, something warm on the low end and very spacious with plenty of bass. Any suggestions or advice is greatly appreciated 🙂

    • Reply December 31, 2012

      Trent_D

      I am taking it you have tried the LCD-2?

      • Reply December 31, 2012

        Julius

        Yep. Hated it.

  • Reply January 3, 2013

    George Lai

    How is it that it is taking so long for someone to make a lightning-to-3.5mm cable? I have the lightning/30-pin adapter but when I add the 30-pin line out to it, it’s too bulky. Is there a technical reason why no one has made one?

    • Reply January 4, 2013

      Mike

      It shouldn’t be that hard. I don’t know why there isn’t one in the market.

      • Reply January 4, 2013

        Valentin

        Probably sorting out licensing fees with Apple…

  • Reply January 4, 2013

    Ken Stuart

    Wouldn’t this be a good time for the HE-400 Revision 2 With Velours review ?

    • Reply January 4, 2013

      Mike

      Yes. It’s Lieven’s article.

      • Reply January 4, 2013

        L.

        very soon I hope, it’s ready. Ask mike to publish it :p

        • Reply January 7, 2013

          Julius

          DId you work out the confusion about your version with Peter at Hifiman?

  • Reply January 5, 2013

    Nick Tam

    any chance of a heir audio IEM review soon?

    • Reply January 5, 2013

      Mike

      Sorry Nick, nope.

      • Reply January 5, 2013

        Nick Tam

        I’ve been holding onto my UM3Xs for quite some time now and have been looking for a change of sound other than the UE900… and there’s all that rave between the ASG-1 and the Heir Audio so it’s quite interesting for something that’s affordable.

  • Reply January 6, 2013

    Gerald D. Jerarudo

    Hi! can i ask you about Vinyl player.So i want to start to listening to vinyl.but im confuse on what to buy for vinyl player.Thanks

  • Reply January 7, 2013

    Jonathan Yen

    Asked this in the HE-500 page but i’ll post it here just in case.
    Would the Hifiman Ef-5 be a good pairing with the HE-500?

    • Reply January 7, 2013

      Julius

      No. I had the combo and I absolutely hated it. That is just my opinion, but I found the Schiit Magni a better value than the EF-5. The Apex Butte ( if you can find one ) is a GREAT amplifier for the He-500. I did a review on it a while back on Head Fi and I just hated it. The EF-6 on the other hand…lol, one of the best amplifiers ever made IMO.

      • Reply January 7, 2013

        Trent_D

        Sad because a few weeks ago, TTVJ had the Butte on sale, now, it isn’t listed on the site at all.

      • Reply January 7, 2013

        Jonathan Yen

        Thanks for the response..probably dodged a bullet on this one as I was pretty close to picking up the HE-500. It’s a good pair according to head-direct but according to many people on head fi it’s not that great of a combination.

  • hi i know this is for headphones but have you guys heard of soundmatters foxl v2. i am still wondering to get it or no. i have seen quite a nice review on the web. i appreciate for what ever input you guys can give me. Thank you.

    • Reply February 2, 2013

      dalethorn

      Got it. Advertised as good for bass, but I don’t hear hardly any bass. For an extra $150 USD you can attach the small FoxLO subwoofer.

  • Reply January 9, 2013

    lucky

    Hi mike and other headfonia reviewer,
    May I know your reference songs or cd’s that you use to review an item?

    I love live recordings but unfortunately I’m lacking of good live recording songs and cd’s

    Can you guys give me some recommended live recording albums pls..

    thanks

    • Reply February 2, 2013

      dalethorn

      Check out Blue Coast records.

  • Reply January 9, 2013

    Nkcell

    What are qualities that make an amp good for sound
    effects/movies/gaming? I feel this might be a hard question to answer, since I’ve asked at head-fi and hydrogen audio forums, and no one answered either time.

    I am looking to purchase an amp to go along with my Beyerdynamic DT990 Premium headphones in combination with my a Soundblaster Xi-Fi Titanium as a DAC. I use this set up for gaming/movies, and do not listen to music on it at all.

    I’ve read a lot about concepts like soundstage, depth, warmth vs. neutrality, tube coloration of sound, and I believe I understand them well in relation to music, but I’m just not sure how to apply them when it comes to sound effects. Do I want more warmth/coloration so that my sound effects feel “fuller”, and thus should I be looking at amps like the m-stage and asgard? Or is warmth actually be a bad thing, since it could potentially mask some of the details, and I wouldn’t be able to pick out things like footsteps in FPS games? If that’s the case should I be looking for really neutral amps like
    the O2. Do I want some compromise in-between? Does sound stage and depth affect movies/gaming as much as it does music, or is I just not that big of a deal? Is puncher impactful bass a good thing because things like gunfire and explosions will have more oomph? Or will it end up distorting the source sound, causing all effects to sound like similar deep thuds with no real distinction regardless of whether they are gunfire or a sword swinging?

    Right now I’m considering the Asgard vs. M-stage vs. O2. I’ve pretty much read every review, post, and discussion comment on the comparisons between the three. I think I have a good handle on the differences between the soundstage, depth, bass, warmth, etc… on these amps. However
    without knowing how those acoustic terms actually relate to movies/gaming/sound effects, I can’t really make a decision. Hopefully Mike or some other readers can shed some light for me.

    • Reply January 9, 2013

      Mike

      I would put an emphasis on powerful yet well controlled bass

      Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

      • Reply January 9, 2013

        Nkcell

        Thanks for the quick response. In your opinion which of the three amps I listed most fits into “powerful but well controlled bass”? Or is there a different amp you would suggest in the 300 dollar range?

        Also if you have any comments on the questions about how the different audio terms apply to sound effects, I’d be very interested to hear what you have to say.

        I see your on a mobile, so I understand I might have to wait to get a longer response.

        Thanks!

        • Reply January 9, 2013

          Mike

          I think for that budget you can try the ALO National.

          Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

          • Reply January 9, 2013

            Nkcell

            Any alternate suggestions if I preferred a full size desktop amp that could stay plugged in? (One of the reasons I’m upgrading is that I’m tired of having to switch batteries on the portable amp I use now).

            Thanks again

            • Reply January 10, 2013

              Mike

              Try the Matrix M-Stage

              Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

  • Reply January 11, 2013

    Yongky

    hi mike, im previously using hd25 and i like rock for main genre, but just rock and not a metal, the truth is i really like how hd25 sounding but the clamps are really kills me and ive sold it a month ago :’

    my question is, i want a full sized headphone that still suitable for rock and has the same enjoyable sound like hd25, is hd600 is the right option for me?it still has the PRaT that im looking for?considering that ive just listen to rock like matchbox 20, lifehouse, bryan adams, the killers, etc (not listening to metal like megadeth or some kind like that)

    are hd600 still has a speed and PRaT to my music?and if yes, what amp that u suggest to increase midrange, bass impact, and punch for hd600?thx.

    • Reply January 11, 2013

      Trent_D

      Maybe the Superlux HD660?

      • Reply May 8, 2013

        Yongky

        superlux hd660 will be downgrading from hd25 😀
        thx anyway…im changing into ps500 now 😀

    • Reply January 11, 2013

      bapak

      What Trent said.

  • Reply January 15, 2013

    John123John

    Hey Headfonia,

    What are you opinions on vinyl?

    • Reply January 15, 2013

      Mike

      I think it’s super awesome.

      Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

      • Reply January 16, 2013

        John123John

        oh really.. i figure since you like analog sound or used to. I was thinking about getting into vinyl for kicks and giggles and just wanted to know what you thought about it. Do you have a turntable, preamp, vinyl collection?

        • Reply January 16, 2013

          Mike

          Yes though nothing fancy..

          I love hunting for vinyl records

          Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

        • Reply January 17, 2013

          Ken Stuart

          Be aware that it is a LOT more work than playing a FLAC or MP3 file. You need to clean vinyl (and the stylus), and there is, of course, a level of research in which turntable, stylus, record cleaner, to get.
          And, of course, a perfectly good looking vinyl record can have a lot of surface noise, in which case, you need to look for a better copy.
          And there is research about which pressing is best, etc.
          SO, only get involved if you are prepared to spend some time on a new hobby.

          • Reply January 17, 2013

            Mike

            Thanks Ken.

            If I can add, due to the noise and pops, vinyl and headphones don’t go very well together.

  • Reply January 15, 2013

    Ege Özcan

    Does anyone know a place we can test some DACs and headphones in Stuttgart area (Germany)? I’m new to everything Hi-Fi and I currently just own dt990 pro headphones and a FiiO E10. I’m looking for some variety when buying gear and I really don’t know which way to go (save for an expensive headphones/dac pair or buy a bunch of budget headphones to use with e10…) so maybe it would really help if I get a chance to listen to the headphones before I buy them. What do you think?

    • Reply January 15, 2013

      Mike

      Replied on the other thread

      Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

    • Reply January 15, 2013

      L.

      Hi Ege,

      As mike says those are 2 good German Dac and Amp makers.
      Unfortunately their websites don’t list any dealers (violectric.de &
      reinaudio.com) as they sell the units themselves online. For the moment
      my best suggestions would be to contact them via the site to check
      where you could listen to their units.

      There also is Meier Audio (meier-audio.homepage.t-online.de/)

      I don’t know your budget but these are on the higher end of mid-fi pricing.

      There are a couple of shops in Berlin, but I guess a 6hour drive is a bit far?

      • Reply January 16, 2013

        Ege Özcan

        I occasionally go to Berlin. I think I can spare around a thousand euros for my audio needs as the second step after getting the beyerdynamics and the fiio. I sometimes think about just betting on a pair of headphones after reading a bunch of reviews but for any product there have always been some reviews which broke my ambition. So, I thought, maybe I just need to listen to them before buying.

        Your suggestions are noted and highly appreciated even though they seem to be a bit too expensive for my untrained ears =)

        • Reply January 17, 2013

          Mike

          If you can spare the budget, higher up equipments are good because eventually your ears will get more sensitive and will pick up the flaws of entry level unit.

          • Reply January 17, 2013

            Ege Özcan

            So, what you are saying is, it would make sense to directly go for the high end instead of losing time & money with the low/mid range equipment? What do you think about Rein Audio X3 DAC + Violectric V200 Amplifier + HiFiMAN HE-400 Headphones combination? I think I can afford these… Or, should I just save for getting an Audeze LCD2? I mostly listen to electronic and classical music.

            • Reply January 17, 2013

              L.

              Give me 2 weeks and I’ll tell you how that combo sounds. If you really wanna go hifi you should replace the HE400 with a HE500 or HE6 😉 I’m really not liking the LCD2 for the moment but they do play those genres pretty nice. I would recommend you to listen to all these units before spending that amount of € however.

              • Reply January 17, 2013

                Ege Özcan

                Well, for such a favor, I could even wait months =) I really want to listen to these but I’m an expat in Stuttgart and don’t know where to look. I googled and also asked locals to no avail. As Rein Audio and Violectric are German companies, I thought it would be easier to contact them if anything was wrong and after reading just too many reviews, I decided to go for those I mentioned in my last comment. By the way, does purchasing 500s worth it? I mean, they are nearly double the price of 400s =) If I get them, maybe I’d need to go for the V100 to compensate for the extra bucks needed =) Would that make sense? Sorry for asking too many questions. I’m looking forward to the times when I can also contribute =)

                • Reply January 17, 2013

                  L.

                  Have you found an X3 dac review then? Please do share if you did. The Price of the X3 dac went up to 1.380€ today as a matter of fact.

                  HE400 and HE500 are completely different headphones, check our reviews.Maybe you could decrease your Dac budget?

                  Oh and it’s nice to support “local” products 🙂

            • Reply January 17, 2013

              Mike

              Yes, if you have the budget.

              The HE-400 is good but the LCD-2 is better. Your choice which one to go for.
              The Rein and the Vio, Lieven did the review for them so he should be the one to comment.

              • Reply January 17, 2013

                L.

                I did comment. And in the review I said the V200 + Rein was the best I have heard the LCD2 to sound. The HE400 doesn’t need the V200 to shine ad I’m sure that even with the V100 it would make a great combo

              • Reply January 17, 2013

                Ege Özcan

                That’s the advice I needed! Thanks =)

  • Reply January 15, 2013

    Maksim Prosuzhikh

    Hi! I’m seeking comfortable closed cans for office use with decent isolation AND worthy technicalities. To tell the truth I don’t really like closed headphones, but don’t have any choise in this situation. My current short-list consist of Amperior, Momentum and DT 770LE (latest still can be found). The main problem — I can’t listen to them preliminary and compare, and sadly can’t afford to buy them all 🙂 The second problem — I like to listen to really wide range of genres (classic, progressive rock, symphonic/operatic metal, medieval, folk, neoclassic, industrial/ebm, the list can go on and go on), so all-around, safe headphone (without loosing in fun and PRAT if it really possible) is preferable.

    What will be the prime recommendation? I want something close enough to my favorites HD 650 and PX-100 II in sound, but considering all, it’s not vital. At this moment I’m ready to try something new.

    A little mess in all this wishes, I understand -_- Thanks for any advice!

    ps: The source is computer through O2/ODAC and maybe Cowon J3 (maybe through ZO2 :).

    pps: Currently, after many hours of reading the forums, I’m considering to buy DT 990 600Ohm as ultimate solution for immersive AND competitive gaming with virtual surround (since HD 650 in this realm is not really shine enough for me). Can someone comment how DT 770LE compare to DT 990 for this purpose?

    • Reply January 17, 2013

      dalethorn

      Being used to HD650 and PX100ii you likely would hate the treble peak in the DT770’s. The Amperior is not good for comfort, so the Momentum wins I think, and on sound, looks, comfort, everything.

      • Reply January 17, 2013

        Mike

        Dale has a point with the Beyer though both me and L are both HD650 fans (and I love the PX100-II too) so it may not be a guaranteed thing.

        The Momentum’s sound is a bit relaxed and I don’t think suits Rock that well though you can still play them just fine.

        The UE9000/UE6000 doesn’t have a mindblowing technicalities (though can be comparable to the Momentum) but I think it’s worth checking out as well. Review coming on that one.

        • Reply January 17, 2013

          Maksim Prosuzhikh

          Thanks, dalethorn and Mike. And yes, exactly because the lovers of HD 650 (you, Mike, and L) so highly appreciated the sound of DT 770LE they ended in my list. The fact that it is already discontinued limited edition (so when it’s gone, it’s gone) it is so much more tempting to give them a try.

          So it is now Momentum VS DT 770LE. And UE6000 looks very attractive and promising, especially considering the price. I need to think and it seems think fast, doesn’t look like 770LE will lie around too long.

          • Reply January 17, 2013

            Mike

            The Momentum is nice for a walk-around portable. The DT770LE I think is overall a more serious headphone.

            The UE6000 is a mainstream oriented headphone. While it’s great, I don’t think it has the technicalities of the DT770.

            • Reply January 18, 2013

              dalethorn

              Compared to the bland UE6000 and the sweet but boring Momentum, the DT770LE has serious energy. It will add years to your life.

              • Reply January 18, 2013

                Mike

                Lol, thanks Dale. I find the UE9000 very enjoyable

                Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

      • Reply January 17, 2013

        Irwan Jayalaras

        hi..could you explain what treble peak is there on dt770?i’m currently using px100ii and considering a dt770 just like maksim

        • Reply January 17, 2013

          dalethorn

          If your PX100ii had a strong treble, I would not mention the treble of the DT770-32. But since the PX100ii has a recessed treble and the DT770 has an emphasized treble, you would undoubtedly be shocked at the difference, and I don’t see how you could like both, since they are as different as night and day.

          • Reply January 17, 2013

            Irwan Jayalaras

            hmm..ok..i always think px100ii is very emphasized on bass although it’s pretty good for EDM and bass heavy music..i had a chance to try DT770-80, maybe it has a different signature than DT770-32 because DT770-80 seems to have similar bass quantity as px100ii but with more prominent vocal,esp. female vocals..i quite like it though..perhaps i need another audition 🙂

            • Reply January 17, 2013

              dalethorn

              Oh, good you mentioned that. If you like the DT770-80 sound, then the DT770-32 should be even better.

          • Reply January 17, 2013

            L.

            The DT770 AE only has emphasized treble comparing it to other brands. Compared to a DT990/600 in example treble isn’t emphasized imo.

  • Reply January 15, 2013

    ryan

    Is there going to be a review on the Teac UD-H01?

  • Reply January 17, 2013

    dr777

    Hi Mike, I’ve narrowed it down to ad900 and hd598. Which would be better for classical and acoustic with a little jazz and lite rock thrown in the mix on my laptop. If you could suggest a amp/dac combo or seperates, desktop or portable to pair up with your recommendation it would be appreciated. Budget is $ 250 us (amp/dac ). Thank You PS. If there is another headphone other than the ath/senn in their price range that is better suited, please feel free to suggest that option.

  • Reply January 17, 2013

    frostbite47

    Any chance of a review of the HRT microstreamer? I know you’re big fans of HRT products in general and would love your take on it if you can get your hands on one!

    • Reply January 17, 2013

      Mike

      I am a big fan of HRT products but it’s been very tough to get samples from them, for some reason.

  • Reply January 17, 2013

    Andy Chen

    Are you planning on reviewing the new WA7 from Woo Audio?

    • Reply January 17, 2013

      Mike

      I want to, but I am not sure if they’re sending me one.

  • Reply January 17, 2013

    Andy Chen

    Are you planning to review the WA7 DAC/Amp from Woo Audio?

    • Reply January 17, 2013

      L.

      I haven’t listened to it yet but if it sounds like it looks we’re in for some trouble 🙂

  • Reply January 17, 2013

    L.

    You’re talking about the X Dac, not the brand new X3 dac. We reviewed the X dac before as you pointed out. I only received the X3 reference dac yesterday, review to come in a month or so I guess.

    There really are good dacs on the market around the 300 USD price point as well, don’t forget all the dacs Mike has recommended in the Q&A section. Me myself prefer using an Audio GD dac (it’s a warmer sound, with the V200 and any other amp)

    • Reply January 17, 2013

      Ege Özcan

      Yes, that is exactly what I realized. I just got confused. I had also read your review but made a quick google search after you asked because I hadn’t kept the history. Sorry =) So do you think x-dac would suit the above setup?

      • Reply January 18, 2013

        L.

        XDAC + Vio is good, i explained that in the Xdac review. Very detailed and neutral sound

        • Reply January 18, 2013

          Ege Özcan

          This is good to know. Now I think I’ll just look for a place where I can give xdac+vio+he500 combination a try or maybe I can just go for it – don’t know really. I took a lot of your time; thank you for all the recommendations =) I really appreciate it.

          • Reply January 18, 2013

            L.

            You’re welcome. If you can, do try the HE-400 as well!

          • Reply January 23, 2013

            balachandar

            Hi, I would recommend Madooma (madooma.de) – they seem to be only Headphone audio specialists in Germany (that I know of). They are based in Dortmund, not exactly close but worth a try. I have dealt with them and would definitely recommend them.

            On the idea of going for high-end gear directly, well sure it wouldn’t hurt! But, I think it definitely isn’t going to help you appreciate it more. It takes time to develop the taste and ear for good audio, the journey towards it is half the thrill
            ;-). Ofcourse, the above is strictly a personal opinion or a smart recourse to save one’s wallet ;-).

            Btw, I have a Hifiman HE500 for sale on HeadFi – if you are looking http://www.head-fi.org/t/646306/fs-hifiman-he500-mint-condition-eu

            • Reply January 23, 2013

              L.

              Thanks Bala!

    • Reply January 17, 2013

      Ege Özcan

      I also realized that V200 has an optional USB DAC component. Maybe with that, I could just skip the extra DAC?

      • Reply January 18, 2013

        L.

        You could but we do not have any experience with the internal Violectric Dac. sorry

  • Reply January 17, 2013

    George Lai

    Hi Mike, when I click on Headphones on your website it doesn’t show recent headphones eg Philips X1 which I bought last week. Just to let you or your webmaster know.

    • Reply January 17, 2013

      Mike

      Alright thanks! Will check on it

      Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

  • Reply January 17, 2013

    George Lai

    Hi Mike/Lieven, I’m looking to add an iPhone-capable over-the-ear headphone to my collection. I don’t like my on-ear Klipsch Image Ones nor Senn PX100i for reasons of comfort . It must be circumaural around the ear. Now here’s the dilemma. I can’t use a headphone amplifier as then I won’t be able to answer or make calls. So, of the ones I’m considering (Philips L1, UE 6000, v Moda LP, Senn Momentum for example) which ones are the loudest? In other words, which technical specification should I be looking for? Decent quality is fine because if I don’t wish to answer calls, I have my D2000, HD600 etc to use but when I am expecting a phone call I don’t want one where even at maximum volume I’m not enjoying my music. I think the ones I’m considering are decent sounding but which are LOUD un-amped? Thanks.

    • Reply January 17, 2013

      Mike

      The UE9000 can be go really loud as it has an internal amp and can even be used wireless

      Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

  • Reply January 19, 2013

    BillsonChang

    Hi! Here by to ask you a few question. Before that, here’s my propriety: I’m looking for a pair of headphone that is under $500 but I would love to spend less if possible. Looking for amp/dac combo under $200. Had my eye set on FiiO or iBasso. Depends. As for headphone, out of that $500 I am looking for either open or closed headphone. Don’t really like too much bass punch(HD518 has too much of those to me FYI). Mids are my favorite. Soundstage & details are pretty important too. Most importantly of all, clarity. I am looking for headphone with minimum sibillance/hisses/grains. I tried K550 & I love how it sound. Styling does not matters to me. My question are 1) K550 vs DT880 250 Ohm? 2) If K550 wins the first question, are there headphone under $500 that sound much more better than it? 3) If one headphone are not enough to cover all my needs, I can afford 2nd pair as long as it is under $500 for both of it. Thanks 🙂

    • Reply January 19, 2013

      Mike

      Without going to lengthy, it seems that the K550 would be your best bet.
      If you have spare budget get a high quality DAP and that should be enough. The K550 is pretty easy to drive and should benefit from a good source.
      Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

      • Reply January 20, 2013

        BillsonChang

        I tried pairing K550 with DX100 in a shop and don’t really like it. Too dependent on setting & too bulky. What amp/dac combo would you recommend me for K550 & XBA-4? Thanks 🙂

        • Reply January 21, 2013

          Mike

          Something warm like the Hifiman HM60X series?

          • Reply January 21, 2013

            BillsonChang

            Hi! I wish I could get those but I can’t find it anywhere at my place. Basically, I can only find FiiO, iBasso, Headamp, Ray Samuels Audio & DigiZoid. FiiOs are pretty hard to find thought. 🙂

  • Reply January 20, 2013

    Herman Sutikno

    hey, can you give me a list of some headphone that good for jazz / classical or maybe balanced because i’m going to use it for gaming too with the range of price between IDR 600.000 ~ IDR 1.000.000 ?
    does superlux HD669 good ?

    • Reply January 21, 2013

      dalethorn

      Jazz, classical (neutral) and gaming (bassy) seems like a possible conflict. But the ATH M50 may bridge that requirement OK.

      • Reply January 21, 2013

        Mike

        Or the M-50 like what dale suggested, but it’s around 1.3 mil here, a bit out of your budget.

        • Reply January 31, 2013

          Herman Sutikno

          emm, i think i’ll get superlux . thanks anyway ! 😀

    • Reply January 21, 2013

      Mike

      The Superlux is your best bet at that price range.

  • Reply January 21, 2013

    Sanad Saad

    Hi guys!
    Wanted your opinion on something. I have about 300 pounds to spend on a portable setup and I was thinking:
    Audioquest Dragonfly = 215 pounds
    AKG K451 = 60 pounds
    Total: 275 pounds.

    What dyou think? I have to travel a LOT so I cant take my Crack/O2DAC
    and HD 650 everywhere with me so need to invest in a budget portable
    setup to make the travelling less stressful!

    Thanks.

    • Reply January 21, 2013

      dalethorn

      Looks good. The Dragonfly will be a good long-term investment, and if you decide to replace the headphone at some future time, the Dragonfly will provide the best sound for the new headphone too.

  • Reply January 21, 2013

    Guest

    Wanted your opinion on something. I have about 300 pounds to spend on a portable setup and I was thinking:
    Audioquest Dragonfly = 215 pounds
    AKG K451 = 60 pounds
    Total: 275 pounds.

    What dyou think? I have to travel a LOT so I cant take my Crack/O2DAC
    and HD 650 everywhere with me so need to invest in a budget portable
    setup to make the travelling less stressful!

    • Reply February 2, 2013

      dalethorn

      Duplicate.

  • Reply January 22, 2013

    GraveDancer

    Big Fan of the WA2 (OTL) I have just recently received. Would like to add a “pre-amp” to this. Do you think the Crack (another OTL) would work? I already have the Woo DAC and that is solid.
    What would you think?

    • Reply January 22, 2013

      L.

      I wouldn’t use the crack as a pre amp. It’s not made for it and would require modding. I normally use the WA2 as a pre amp for the crack and others if I want to pre amp. A nice pre amp is the Decware csp2+ I think

      • Reply January 22, 2013

        GraveDancer

        L. Thank you kindly. I will look into that. I can only imagine how wonderful this will sound.

  • Reply January 22, 2013

    RK Prithwijit Singh

    Could you please offer a review”Skullcandy S6HSDZ-072 Hesh headphones” and Compare them with the”Sennheiser HD-202 II”
    and suggest which one is better

    • Reply January 22, 2013

      L.

      I doubt this will ever happen, unless Mike secretly owns Skullcandy headphones

  • Reply January 23, 2013

    kongmw

    Hi, I’m in the market for a DAC (again) and am looking to spend roughly $300 on it. Currently looking at the Matrix M-stage DAC since it stacks well cosmetically with my M-stage amp, but that’s about it. I’m thinking about using the M-stage amp for digital audio listening while keeping the Crack for vinyl only. But I guess I’m also open to pairing a DAC with the Crack and just get rid of the M-stage amp all together. Any input is appreciated. Thanks.

  • Reply January 23, 2013

    Ong Vincent

    Have you try Final audio design? possible could do some review on their adagio 3, quite well accepted

    • Reply February 2, 2013

      Mike

      I’ve tried a lot of the FADs as the local Jaben stocks a lot of them. Don’t really have a plan for a review though.

  • Reply January 25, 2013

    Jonathan Yen

    Hello,

    I’ve recently modded my EF-5 with a OPAMP i obtained from TAM Audio

    http://tamaudio.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=39_46&product_id=91

    While it does sound a lot better, the highs have become very harsh with both my HE-500 and DT990 600ohm. I read that you recommended the OP627 opamp with the EF-5 so i’m wondering if you had the same experience as me and if you have any recommendations to tame the harshness.

    Regards,

    Jonathan

    • Reply January 25, 2013

      Jonathan Yen

      Also, is there a difference between the one i have and the one with the browndog adaptor (DIP) ?

  • Reply January 26, 2013

    rick

    could you please porvide me a recomendation for a solid state amp… I am finding my choises a little overwhelming currently am considering asgard, or the meier audio corda rock… willing to spend $300 range prefer a simple set-up neutral sounding… no dac… ipods or cd’s as sources…listen to mostly, jazz, classical… and use akg q701, akg550, or for rock my very old grado sr80..

    • Reply January 26, 2013

      Mike

      Hi rick,
      I’ve never auditioned the Meier so I can’t say.. the Asgard is a good amp for the price.

  • Reply January 28, 2013

    Jake Nonweiler

    Hello all!

    I am looking into getting a DAC for my audio setup and had a few questions about what you might recommend. I’ve been reading a lot and am hoping to get some feedback from experience.

    I currently have a pair of Audioengine 5’s, which are powered speakers and I run audio from my laptop. Is the best upgrade in sound going to be a DAC w/o an amp? Would I really notice a good improvement if the last part of my chain is a pair of powered speakers? I’m assuming that because the speakers are powered, I wouldn’t need a preamp, right? Any recommendations on a DAC that might suit me well? I have been looking at JDS, NuForce, and Cambridge Dacmagic.

    Thanks!

    • Reply January 28, 2013

      L.

      I’d suggest something like the cambridge or the Mav-audio D1

    • Reply January 30, 2013

      George Lai

      I run my Audioengine A2 with their D1 DAC/amp. Match made in heaven.

  • Reply January 28, 2013

    Apogee

    Can someone put these in order of bass impact
    HD650
    Philips X1
    LCD2
    HE400
    HE500
    HD700
    DT770
    I know this quite a mix of headphones and pricing, but it would be really helpful to know about bass impact and also bass quantity and soundstage of each headphone

    • Reply January 30, 2013

      dalethorn

      The DT770 beats most of those dynamics, quantity and quality both. The orthos I don’t know.

  • Reply January 29, 2013

    Apogee

    Can someone put these in order of bass impact
    HD650
    Philips X1
    LCD2
    HE400
    HE500
    HD700
    DT770
    I know this quite a mix of headphones and pricing, but it would be really helpful to know about bass impact and also bass quantity and soundstage of each headphone

  • Reply January 30, 2013

    Carl

    Hi Mike(and other contributors…(

    I wrote you recently regarding advice for my father. I went for the Sony MDR-1R and he loves them, and adores the comfort. He also feels they’re better than his previous AKG 240 MkII. However I decided against the E17 that you recommended for these reasons: Firstly battery power length I’d read was often around 8hrs upto 11 at a max. He lstens for many hours a day and would have been re-charging at least two out of three days, and if he forgets ….well!

    Would prefer if possible a more certain 12-15hrs if not a touch more. Unrealistic?

    Also, I thought a completely different sound to FiiO’s might be nice and finally an actual volume knob that one turns would be really nice. I’m also prepared to up the budget to potentially $300-$400 if the quality warrants it. Twin mini & full size h’phone sockets would be great but that’s just a whim I suppose!

    So Mike(or others!), if you had an MDR-1R yourself(I realize you probably wouldn’t!)what amp would you go for to possibly fill out a few of the 1R’s flaws?

    Secondly, ME and headphones. I just want a good pair, for a lot of alternative rock but also for quieter stuff and folk/soundtracks/avant-garde that are nice ‘phones, sound-wise and aesthetics. Prices seem terribly high often in the UK. As an example, £260 for Momentums just feels like a lot for what one is actually getting, never mind £170 for UE6000’s which I thought felt ultra-cheap and horribly, glossy plastic that seems designed to show off fingerprints! There is the DT770 LE I know(circa £160) that is a consideration but also, are the Denon AHD600’s a really good ‘phone, and worth the extra? I can get them for circa £280, and something about them really appeals.

    Any thoughts?! I know they’re plastic but they still look quite ‘nice’. Even though the 7100 are out of my bracket, is the build quality of them easily superior to the 600? So –

    Very good amp for Sony MDR-1R and,

    Are the Denon AHD600 at £280 a really good ‘phone for the money? Or is the 770LE MUCH better value at £100 less? So difficult as I also look over at Senn HD650 and others!

    Apologies all for long post, and any help is hugely appreciated.

    • Reply January 30, 2013

      dalethorn

      The DT770LE is a steal for £160. Highly recommended. I could live with it forever if I had to. BTW, what is the E17 running off of? Computer USB or analog line input?

      • Reply January 30, 2013

        Carl

        Many thanks for such a quick response. The E17 was for my father, not me(didn’t actually order E17). He’s currently got a 160G iPod Classic-to-E7-Sony MDR-1R. No computer as-of-yet, but soon. Playing predominatly lossless files. As I said, wanted to give him a much better amp to go with his new MDR-1R, and thought one with a nice analogue volume control would be nice for him after using buttons on the E7;
        Me, all I have is a Nano 5G for on-the-go and a MacBook pro, with a pair of lowly AKG 450! Read a lot here about DT770LE so I know they’ll likely be a great buy, so what is it about the Denon AH0D600 that appeals @ £280? I don’t know. Hugely comfortable, removable cables, ‘interesting’ aesthetics? If the extra £100 simply isn’t worth it then that’s that I suppose. How is the comfort of the 770’s?
        Even though I’m underwhelmed by the Momentums, I have to admit that the earpad softness is lovely!
        Appreciate you thoughts dalethorn, and thanks for your time.

        • Reply January 30, 2013

          dalethorn

          From an iPod, and preferably using the LOD, try the PA2V2 amp. You won’t believe that it’s about $70 USD, extremely well built, has an excellent volume knob, runs 100(!) hours on a charge, uses common AA-NiMH rechargeables, and sounds as good as the E17. The DT770LE I have is very, very comfortable. I have seen where people say they prefer the velour pads, but I find the standard pads perfect, and I have headphones with velour pads. In this case, I see no need for velour, which changes the sound. But you can buy extra velour pads if you like. I don’t have any Denons, but they shocked the headphone world with their latest headphones, especially the sound of those, so I’d recommend reading reviews from several different angles and sites if interested in a Denon (one of the newer models).

          • Reply January 30, 2013

            Carl

            Thanks very much for your thoughts and suggestions, I really do appreciate it. I’ll look into the amp and perhaps wait for a few other thoughts on the relative merits of the Denon 600 before I maybe go for the 770LE.
            Be well.

  • Reply January 30, 2013

    gavincross

    I love dance/grooving music, but I’ve heard that the TMA-1 is tuned essentially only for club music, and I like other genres as well. Is the DT770 LE sufficiently fast/punchy enough in its bass to perform well for dance music without getting out of control boomy? If not, what alternatives do I have? I need a closed, circumaural headphone.

    • Reply February 2, 2013

      dalethorn

      I think it is, if ran from something like a AQ Dragonfly, which does wonders for the bass.

  • Reply January 30, 2013

    Trent_D

    So, ALO has just released a balanced DAC/AMP called the International, and dropped the price of the pan am to $499. Sounds like it was a busy day at ALO. I am looking forward to hearing how this new unit of theirs sounds.

    • Reply February 2, 2013

      Mike

      Yep if only local post can get packages through customs faster…

  • Reply January 31, 2013

    Maarten

    Hi Mike (and Lieven),

    Since I know you are a fan of the Tera Player and even ordered 6 of them I was wondering which in ears monitors you would recommend to bring the best out of the TP? There is so much choice. Where to start? I’ve read your review on the JHs customs and on the Aurisonics. Both are on my short list.

    The wide range of music I like to listen to is not really a differentiator.

    Thanks for any hints.
    Maarten

    (hope this is not a duplicate post)

    • Reply February 2, 2013

      Maarten

      Not sure how to get your attention, but could you please have look at my questions?

      • Reply February 2, 2013

        Mike

        Sorry for the late reply.

        Right now I have one very strong recommendation and that is the FitEar 334ToGo. Very expensive at some $1,400 and the store I own happens to be the Indonesian distributor for FitEars (read the disclaimer here: http://www.headfonia.com/open-disclaimer-analog-head-store/) so I really think that given the conflict of interest you should check out other reviews as well. I don’t plan to do a review on the 334 due to that conflict of interest but if you ask me a question on what the best IEM is today I would have to say the 334.

        (The FitEar 335 is even better but that’s a really expensive custom IEM where the 334ToGo is a universal so you can resell it if you don’t like it.)

        • Reply February 2, 2013

          Maarten

          Thanks Mike. The thing is I am in the Netherlands and although I would love to buy one it is quite difficult to get it here. Maybe we should discuss that of line of course.

          And how about the JH customs or the Aurisonics? How does it pair with a DT770 LE?

          • Reply February 2, 2013

            Mike

            How does the JH/Auri pair with the 770 LE?

            • Reply February 2, 2013

              Maarten

              Sorry, I wasn’t clear. How do these (C)IEMs and the 770 LE pair with the Tera Player? If you tried them of course.

              • Reply February 2, 2013

                Mike

                I love the ASG1, 334Togo, and 770LE pairing with the Tera player.

                • Reply February 2, 2013

                  Maarten

                  Thanks, Mike. That narrows it down 😉 I’ve got the 770LE on its way. Now make a choice for an IEM.

                  • Reply February 3, 2013

                    L.

                    Do check out Cosmicears. Haven’t tried them yet but will order one soon. And they’re close to Holland too!

                    • February 3, 2013

                      Maarten

                      Hi Lieven, Which ones? Welke? Do you also have a store in Belgium? So I could order the 334ToGo? 😉

                    • February 3, 2013

                      L.

                      They’re releasing a new lineup soon. Check out the newspage/newsletter. You can choose between hybrids or BA ciems at very good prices.

                      I don’t have a store (yet 😉 )

                    • February 3, 2013

                      Maarten

                      Thanks, Lieven. It would be a very good idea to set up a store in the Benelux. I would be your first customer.

                    • February 3, 2013

                      L.

                      There are a couple of good stores already like Headsound.de, Audiogarden in France and Soundconsult.nl

                    • February 3, 2013

                      Maarten

                      But none of them sells the 334ToGO 😉

    • Reply February 2, 2013

      Gorboman

      If you can afford the TP, I’m sure you can afford a Fit Ear 334. It’s one of the best companion for the TP.

      • Reply February 2, 2013

        Maarten

        Hi, do you have this combo? And what about customs?

        • Reply February 3, 2013

          Gorboman

          I don’t own either, but there’s a headphone specialist store here where I can demo all of their products, including Tera Player & FitEar 334. I’m not into customs, so I can’t help you with that.

          • Reply February 3, 2013

            Maarten

            Thanks. It is good to be able to test before you buy. I just have to trust others opinion and do a lot of reading.

  • Reply January 31, 2013

    Carl

    Hey Mike,
    Just in case you missed my question(s); if YOU had the MDR-1R, what amp would you choose to partner it to possibly make it more amenable to your ears, to make the most of it I suppose?
    (Besides the FiiO E17! As I’d said, would like a volume knob and also a sound different from the FiiO sound signature. Jump in price not problem, within reason!)

    Thanks.
    Carl.

    • Reply January 31, 2013

      Mike

      Hi Carl,
      I don’t think it’s very picky on amps. Right now probably between the ALO National and the Matrix Mini Portable or RSA’s SR-71A. I feel like the headphone can use some serious bass impact boost and a softer treble section.

      • Reply January 31, 2013

        Carl

        Thankyou once again for your thoughts! Looks like my Dad is in for a treat sometime soon!
        Could I bother you for one more bit of advice? How, as an all-round, all-genre headphone, do you think the Denon AH-D600 stacks up against the DT770LE? The Denon is roughly £100 more but something about it just ‘speaks’ to me. I haven’t heard either, you like both and I’m curious. I’m drawn to the Denons, but if you think they just don’t stand the scrutiny against the Beyers, well that would kinda seal it for me.
        Thankyou for your time, and I’ll be writing soon as I wanted to give a few thoughts about a couple of things site-wise!
        Be well.
        P.s. I actually own a Zo2; if I went for the Denon, would that be okay or would you suggest a full-on, ‘proper’ amp?

        • Reply January 31, 2013

          Mike

          I think both are good wide-genre headphones. The DT770 is more impressive technically, but for most non enthusiasts technicalities don’t really matter.

          What I do think your Dad may like is the more luxurious design of the Denon. Especially if you’re giving it as a gift.

          • Reply January 31, 2013

            Carl

            Thanks Mike! I was asking about these ‘phones for me though!
            I have already bought my Dad the Sony MDR-1R’s! Thankfully he seems to love them(hope he’s not just saying that!) That’s why I was asking about an amp that would really show off the Sony’s to their best ability, to give him the best experience possible from them. From your suggestions above I think I may get him the National and that will hopefully round off the 1R’s performance nicely for him.
            For me I think the Denon 600’s are what I may go for – it’s just that in your little addendum to the Denons’ review, you didn’t give any thoughts on amping them. I realise you didn’t write the whole review and that you were busy, but I just wondered that even though they’re easy to drive, would the D600 benefit noticably from any amp in particular. I just have the Zo which I have been using with my little AKG 430’s!

            • Reply January 31, 2013

              Mike

              Ah I see
              I actually used some amps with the D600 and I would also go with the same recommendation as with the National and Matrix.

          • Reply January 31, 2013

            L.

            I agree with Mike on this one.

  • Reply January 31, 2013

    BillsonChang

    Hi!
    Few questions here. I am in search for a headphone set-up under $500. For amp, I got my target locked on iBasso D-Zero. Selling price for it here is around $130+ & that left me around $370 to spend on headphone. Do you have any good headphone under that price range? Looking for the the amount of bass that does not bleed. Forward mids & does not sound bright. Also looking for something with excellent detail but soundstage don’t have to be extremely good. A decent ones are good enough. My top propriety here is clarity, I am trying to avoid hisses/sibilance. People are talking about DT880 in my price range but it’s too bright for my taste. The biggest problem is that I can’t find Hifiman here. After reading your review here, I believe you have similar taste as mine & I hope you can help me with this!

    Thank you!
    Billson 🙂

    • Reply February 1, 2013

      dalethorn

      I just ran down the list of the last 50 headphones I’ve owned, and couldn’t find any full size headphone that fit your description out of the box. I found two on-ear types – the B&W P5 and ATH ESW9/9a. I found a bassy full size headphone for which I tone the bass down a wee bit (the v-moda M100), but that recommendation has proven controversial.

      • Reply February 2, 2013

        BillsonChang

        Thank you for the respond. Was thinking about SRH-940 but heard it has a lil bright sound. Sorry, not looking for on-ear as I wear glasses and I dislike the clamping force I had experienced with a few like the XB-800, UE4000 for example. Now that I am looking at HD598, K550, K271 MKII. Any idea? 🙂 it seems weird that someone have problem with the recessed mids of K550 as I personally find it not so.

    • Reply February 2, 2013

      Mike

      If you feel that the DT880 is too bright than the easy recommendation is to check out the Sennheiser full sizes either HD600 or HD650.

      Also check out:
      Fidelio X1
      Fidelio L1
      You said the Hifiman HE-400 is not available locally so that makes it hard to try.

      Anyway I would figure that some shops in Singapore (perhaps Stereo or Jaben) would have demo units.

      If this is your first serious headphone I would think that you’re probably won’t get the choice right the first time you buy the headphone. Things like clarity and sibilance, you really have to know what recordings are you listening to, what real clarity is and such.. also the fact that as you listen to headphones more your preferences usually shift from one type of a sound to another. So, just things to keep in mind.

      • Reply February 4, 2013

        BillsonChang

        I would not call this my first serious headphone but I think this is my first home set-up. Got the XBA-4 last year & driving it straight out of my iPhone sound pretty good but like how it sound when amped so that is why I got my target set on D-Zero. Can’t find Hifiman from Stereo and Jaben either :/ I come down to the right amount of bass and things like that because I tried those V-Modas, ATH-WS70, Momentums and such but they all have those somehow, I dislike annoying bass that covers instruments in the music. Anyway! Thank you for your advice! Will take a look at those Philips and as for HD6xx, I tried those RS220 & like it except for it’s signal… Any huge differences between RS220 and HD600? Thanks!

        • Reply February 4, 2013

          Nick Tam

          I don’t think those two could be compared to be honest. RS220 runs off wireless and its integrated amplifier, where as the HD600 is more traditional and is more practical to hookup to a higher end setup

        • Reply February 4, 2013

          L.

          I do think there were some references to it in our RS220 review

          • Reply February 4, 2013

            BillsonChang

            Yep! Read it and agree on the author’s take on the RS220. But the RS220 & HD600 price here are $150 different. Probably go for the HD600 with Audio Technica amp maybe? Can’t find tube amp here…

            • Reply February 4, 2013

              L.

              I was the author 😉
              HD600 still is a better headphone if you don’t need wireless. What amp would that be?

              • Reply February 5, 2013

                BillsonChang

                That’s the last thing I am struggling… Was looking at E9 & let my budget go up higher a lil maybe. Just pretty hard to find Fiio stuff here specially when Chinese New Years are around the corner… Can’t find those Magni & Modi either :/

            • Reply February 5, 2013

              Mike

              Lot more fun to go with the HD600 as you can play with amplifiers.

  • Reply February 1, 2013

    Pkrdlr

    Hi Mike, Once again I need your advice. I picked up a 5 gen Ipod Classic and need a recommendation for a headphone to pair up with it. Music is Classical, Acoustic and Classic Rock. My budget is $300 usd. If your recommendation needs a portable amp, that would be part of the budget. You’ve always pointed me in the right direction and I thank you for doing so. Regards, Rick

    • Reply February 1, 2013

      Trent_D

      I have a 5th gen Ipod, and I still feel that god’s gift to the Ipod is the Sennheiser HD202. They can routinely be had for $20, and although it is no master of technicalities (never could be with the ipod either), its musicality is off the charts. I use my ipod/hd202 usually with a JDSlabs cMoy, but it works fine without.

      • Reply February 2, 2013

        Mike

        Oh yeah the HD202 is worth checking out too.

    • Reply February 2, 2013

      Mike

      Hi dude, haven’t seen you in a while. $300 USD for Classical, Acoustic and Classic Rock. One headphone that I think can give you what you want is the Beyer DT770 LE (we’ve been raving about it for a while). You should check out the thread here: http://www.headfonia.com/the-beyerdynamic-we-love-dt770-anniversary-edition/

      • Reply February 3, 2013

        Pkrdlr

        Mike, Before I pull the trigger on the Beyer dt770 le ( $250 here in US ), just want to be sure they will sound good out of my Ipod 5 gen. with no amp as my budget is $300 usd and in the review you suggest using a amp. As always thanks for your time and advice.

        • Reply February 3, 2013

          dalethorn

          We did have a problem with a B&W P5 and the first 160 gb iPod, which was just before they stuck the ‘Classic’ name on. I think the output impedance was too high on that iPod, but the iPod Touch worked better. So *probably* that’s not an issue for you if your Classic is newer, but see if you can determine the output impedance compared to an iPod Touch.

          • Reply February 3, 2013

            Pkrdlr

            dalethorn, my Ipod classic is 5 gen / 60g model. Will this make a difference ?.

            • Reply February 3, 2013

              dalethorn

              http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/ipod/index-ipod-specs.html
              Here’s a link to some specs, although I haven’t found accurate numbers on impedances. Personally, I think the DT770LE is so good it’s worth grabbing if you can get it, then if there’s any problem, get a really cheap FiiO amp and LOD cable (just one idea, but probably won’t be necessary).

        • Reply February 5, 2013

          Mike

          They would sound good but obviously by now you know that an amp and a better player always improve things.

          And if you listen to classical recordings the Ipod may not drive the DT770LE loud enough without an amp, but that’s the case with almost all full size headphones out of the Ipod. With mainstream recordings and the higher mastering level, you should be fine though.

          • Reply February 5, 2013

            Pkrdlr

            Mike, Thanks for your reply, regarding your suggestion for a amp to drive the dt770 le and ipod with classical music should I be looking at something from the sub $100 portable shootout or the c421 / e12 range. Rick

  • Reply February 1, 2013

    George Lai

    I have a pair of Audio Technica ATH AD700 headphones and though the earpads look huge, they’re actually supra-aural rather than circum-aural. I just cannot use supra-aural. Does anyone know what alternative earpads might fit? At it’s maximum diameter the earpads are 110 mm.

    • Reply February 2, 2013

      Mike

      Sorry George, I’m quite clueless there. Haven’t seen anyone using different pads on their AD-series.

      • Reply February 3, 2013

        George Lai

        Okay thanks. Guess I’ll give it away then.

  • Reply February 2, 2013

    John123John

    Hey Headfonia,

    Im looking for a pair of headphones that would mesh well with music like MUSE.

    • Reply February 2, 2013

      dalethorn

      I sampled a lot of their music tracks, and they seem like conventional high-energy rock music. You probably would not want to emphasize the treble at all since it could become harsh, or emphasize the mids because the vocals are already strong, or emphasize the bass too much because the bass is strong now, and that would overpower the vocals.

      • Reply February 3, 2013

        John123John

        so basically a really linear monitor headphone?

        • Reply February 3, 2013

          dalethorn

          Mike’s suggestion of HD25-1-II (?) seems really solid. Or if you don’t mind throwing down some extra money, the Senn Amperior is the aluminum-cup version, supposedly a tiny bit better. Some of the monitor headphones are really lean in the bass, I don’t know why. Monitor is a pretty flexible word.

          • Reply February 5, 2013

            John123John

            Well im trying to trade in my Denon D2000s for a fun sounding portable or iem, vmoda m80, senn hd25, TF10, velodyne vpulse, etc.
            I feel like on the go, I dont really care too much about how it sounds as long as its engaging plus i dont expect to be listening to jazz while on the go but thats just me.
            I have the HD650 and Crack for that. btw everytime I go back to the HD650, its amazing..

            • Reply February 5, 2013

              dalethorn

              Good portable, engaging sound, not critical, comfortable and easily packed, durable … it’s not as easy as it sounds. At $200 USD the ATH ESW9a is my favorite by far, much better than the P5, but has thin cables like the P5. The M80 is great, and the cable is rugged and detachable, and generic cables also work. For me it takes a few minutes for the M80 earpads to seal, especially in cooler weather, to get decent bass. I don’t have that issue with the ESW9a. I don’t have comfort issues with Amperior (same as HD25?), but it’s bulky, and the lower mids/upper bass are *very* emphasized, making the Momentum sound lightweight in comparison.

              • Reply February 6, 2013

                John123John

                And it looks great too! Whats the voicing on the ESW9a like?
                also isnt this the headphone with a notorious supply of fakes?

                • Reply February 6, 2013

                  dalethorn

                  Most popular headphones are faked. Buy from a reputable site. The ESW9a has a very engaging low bass, the upper bass to low mids is warm but not excessive, the mids overall are very neutral and uncolored, and the highs are recessed slightly. My wife plays them flat, but I use some treble boost, since they have less treble than my target/ideal for treble – the Shure 1840. It’s the best I’ve heard for the price ($200 USD).

            • Reply February 8, 2013

              Mike

              Should give the TF10 a try.

              You would struggle with the fit but the sound is legendary. When something is legendary, you as an enthusiast should try it at least once. 😉

              • Reply February 8, 2013

                John123John

                Haha yea i had it at one point. Fit was very nice actually 🙂
                Gave it up to try a mid centric -gr06, couldn’t not find a great 07 for sale at the time. But I sold these and am going back to a fun iem portable.

                • Reply February 8, 2013

                  Mike

                  I sell the GR07 at my store. Don’t think it can take on the TF10 though it’s a nice IEM by itself.

                  You know what else is fun? Vsonic GR02 bass.

                  • Reply February 8, 2013

                    L.

                    Full Vsonic lineup review soon!

    • Reply February 2, 2013

      Mike

      Senn HD25-1.

      • Reply February 3, 2013

        John123John

        I really need to hear what the HD25 sounds like… Ive been seeing you recommend that pair since I first started reading Headfonia.
        unfortunately, on ears do not work well with me..
        Something around $200~ you still recommending the m50s these days?

        • Reply February 5, 2013

          Mike

          Yes obviously the M-50 is still a very best seller and the value you get for the price can’t seem to be beat.

          • Reply February 5, 2013

            L.

            The $200 Soundmagic HP100 tops the M50! Review soon 🙂

            • Reply February 6, 2013

              John123John

              I’ve also been hearing alot about the Focal Spirit One.
              Review soon?

              • Reply February 6, 2013

                L.

                Don’t think so, sorry

              • Reply February 8, 2013

                Mike

                I listened to the Focal and thought that a review would end up with something along the line of: “Pretty good first headphone from Focal. Good all rounder sound, but there are lots of other options out there.” So I don’t think I’m going to do a review on it. My partner on the AnalogHead store is actually the Focal distributor for Indonesia. Good speakers, but okay headphones (at least for now).

                Something like the MDR-1R, UE9000, Fidelio L1 are all better IMO.

                • Reply February 8, 2013

                  John123John

                  I’m giving up my demon d2000 for the fidelio L1!
                  Approve? To be used as my portable solution.

                  • Reply February 8, 2013

                    Mike

                    I think the Fidelio is better than the D2000.

                    • February 9, 2013

                      John123John

                      Blah deal didn’t fall through 🙁
                      But atleast now I know what I want.
                      Thanks.
                      Still need amp help though

        • Reply February 5, 2013

          Mike

          Oh but you’re asking for Muse right?

          Seriously, you need to get the HD25-1 for Muse.

          Another one you should look into is the UE6000 which is the UE9000 I reviewed without the wireless feature.

          • Reply February 6, 2013

            John123John

            Im trying to get it but I do have a concern. Comfort. Ive actually never tried on a onear headphone…
            I have a big head and big ears (lol). Should I be concerned?

  • Reply February 2, 2013

    George Lai

    Mike, Lieven, sometimes I want to indulge in a new set of headphones but have to wait until Headfonia has reviewed them. PSB M4U 2. Hint hint.

    • Reply February 2, 2013

      Mike

      Alright George 😉

      • Reply February 3, 2013

        George Lai

        Can’t wait to spend USD290 on it. Cheers

  • Reply February 6, 2013

    John GB

    Mike, I have just got some Senn IE800 In-Ear which are great! What nice ‘clean’amp(300-$500) would you recommend please? (Source iPod). Thanks in advance for your help. PS- Great Site!!!!

    • Reply February 6, 2013

      dalethorn

      DAC plus amp, or just amp? What’s the source player?

      • Reply February 6, 2013

        John GB

        I was thinking just amp. iPod 160gb source. Love dance music and trance. Looking for great up lifting sound for gym.

        • Reply February 6, 2013

          dalethorn

          I have a IE800 on the way, so I will be testing it with the PA2V2, FiiO E17, Dragonfly, Audioengine D1, plus ipod/ipad/iphone and the usual Macs and PCs. I don’t have any idea how it will respond.

        • Reply February 8, 2013

          dalethorn

          Got it now. IE800 is bright, at least as much as a Shure 940 or Soundmagic HP200. It has good bass, a little fat and so on with ipod/iphone, but much better with DAC such as Dragonfly. It doesn’t improve a lot with the little amps like the E17 (through Aux port) or PA2V2. But it does sound like a thousand dollars or close to that. No real colorations.

          • Reply February 9, 2013

            John GB

            Hi Dale, yeah they have amazing bass for there size!
            I’m now thinking Fostex HP-P1! What do you think?? I’m trying a ‘Just Audio uHA120’ as I type. It’s ok but hasn’t really got me smiling or dancing!!!

            • Reply February 9, 2013

              dalethorn

              Everybody loves the HP-P1. I can’t say because I haven’t tried it – the IE800 busted the bank! But, I think you just want to make sure and have the long term commitment to the i-device source. I’ve also been waiting for v-moda’s new Vamp, it’s supposed to be the ‘Verza’ or a similar name. It probably wouldn’t be as good as the HP-P1 DAC, and also restricted to iphone5 only, but if it isn’t too pricy I might….

    • Reply February 6, 2013

      Mike

      I haven’t tried the IE800 with a lot of amps but I thought it had a really good synergy with the Fiio E07K.

      If you’re looking for something more high-end I would suggest looking at RSA amps due to their dark sound. Perhaps the Intruder would be a nice combo. Or the RSA Shadow for the size and digital volume control.

      • Reply February 6, 2013

        John GB

        Thanks Mike. I was thinking of the Fostex or Just Audio?? It needs to be portable as I will be using at the gym mainly. Love dance and trance music

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    disqus_Yiog1GQstw

    hi mike! its a pleasure to talk to you…First of all, I know its not easy to recommend this or that phone, but i want your help: currently i have a pair of grado sr80, which I like very much, mostly your mids and highs…However, I miss some punchy bass…not boomy nor basshead, but.instead, I want to hear some weighted bass…So, I ask you if upgrade from sr80 to sr225 is a real step forward or just change six per half dozen…Can you recommend other cans to me? My budget is about $200-230…So what I expect to hear is weighted bass, detailed and lightly forward mids, and crisp and natural highs…Is it a easy task Mike?

    thank you in advance….

    Ricardo

    • Reply February 7, 2013

      dalethorn

      I wouldn’t be looking at other Grados to get that bass weight. And the ATH M50 would gain bass weight but lose some detail in the treble. But the DT880 might be an improvement.

      • Reply February 7, 2013

        disqus_Yiog1GQstw

        thank you for your tip dalethorn…but could you define a bit more how the dt880 sounds in terms of mids and highs? Because I am very concerned in getting better bass with the dt880 and at the same time miss the grado´s fun sonic signature that i like. As I have mentioned above, i dont fancy recessed mids, because as far as i am concerned, recessed mids means poor detailed mids…is that true? and one more thing: apart from dt880, have you got other options in mind to help me?

        • Reply February 7, 2013

          dalethorn

          As much as the DT880 gets great reviews (like some of the Grados), I don’t see the bass matching your desires as you described them in the above post. The rarest of all headphone signatures is the bass that actually rises in the deep part without fattening up the upper bass. The ATH M50 manages that, but has an uneven lackluster midrange and uneven highs. Great bargain for the price though. But, here is a very important tip for you before any further research, to ponder on: The amount and weight of bass you perceive will depend on several factors: The music is a factor – much music doesn’t have good bass, and really great bass is not common. But there are bigger factors. Big factor 1 is where: Outdoors or on public transport will rob the bass. Big factor 2: Listening and focusing on the music and doing nothing else is best, but listening while gaming, watching movies or TV, or cruising the Web (i.e. distracted listening) will rob the bass severely. This is similar to the Fletcher-Munson effect. The type of amp you use makes a difference, not as big as the big factors, but still some amps will thin out the bass, and impedance plays a role. So there are some thoughts to start with. If it turns out you fall into one or more of the bass-robbing categories, then the DT880 won’t likely meet your specifications. Now the DT770-32 Limited Edition I have is perfect for bass, has the crispy highs, and worst case you may have to take a day or two to get used to the mids, which are not bad at all.

          • Reply February 8, 2013

            disqus_Yiog1GQstw

            thank you one more time Dalethorn…perhaps I am looking for the “perfect” cans and I know that at this range of price I will never find…Its dificult to put in words the bass I´d like to hear, but let´s try: I want to FEEL the bass in my ears, much more than simply HEAR… That’s why I told you that I need a can to have some punchy and weight bass…Its like when you hear a bookshelf with 5” woofer (grado) in comparison with another with 6,5″ or larger, you know?…Regarding my previous post, do you agree that recessed mids means poor detail mids or not necessarily? If not, so I will have much more options to looking for, right?

            • Reply February 8, 2013

              dalethorn

              The good news is, price is not the factor once you’re looking at headphones in the DT770 class. The much more expensive headphones aren’t really better at bass impact, except maybe a couple orthos over $1200 or so. The DT770 bass is so good that … here’s a couple examples from easy-to-get downloads: Trombone Shorty, Backatown — when you hear the clean and powerful, deep impacts here, you’ll know what the phony bass headphones can’t deliver. Hans Zimmer, Aggressive Expansion a.k.a. Dark Knight theme (original movie) — when you hear the ‘shuddery’ deep bass starting around 0:45 into the track you’ll realize what you can’t hear with Beats and the like – this is very deep bass. You know, the more I think about this the better I feel about it. If you liked a fatter upper bass with some boominess, the Sennheiser Amperior and possibly HD25-1-II could work, but for the awesome deep bass impacts, the DT770-32LE really kicks it out. Just make sure to test with tracks that have real bass.

              • Reply February 8, 2013

                disqus_Yiog1GQstw

                Actually, price is a real concert to me…I don’t expect to spend more than 250k with a new can…Besides, as I haven´t got phone amp, should be a problem to me to get more than 32ohm cans? (considering I have got nad 320bee). Moreover, the more I read about other brands, the more I wish I could test them…I mean, even If I pick up a beyer model, that else should I been missing? Its hard to leave denons, senns, akgs, koss, audio technicas and shures behind….kkkk…..The only way for me is to buy 5 or 6 models and test them…

                • Reply February 8, 2013

                  dalethorn

                  That’s what I do. So welcome to the world of reviewing different headphones.

                  • Reply February 9, 2013

                    disqus_Yiog1GQstw

                    So, to ended the matter, Dalethorn, what should I do? keep the grado and get another one, like beyer, or get rid of grado and bet all my coins in beyer? and I if keep only the beyer, which model do you think will please me the most: beyer dt770 or dt880? and do you think the impedance will be a big issue to me according as I don´t have phone amp….
                    thank you very much….

                    • February 9, 2013

                      dalethorn

                      I’m 99 percent sure the DT770LE will be a good bet. The DT880 will not give you the extra bass impact over the Grado, but I would not get rid of the Grado. It’s always a good idea to keep that for a couple months at least, maybe more, because your impressions will change as you have more experience with two different sounds like that. The Grado would serve as a reference point. The DT770LE impedance is not a problem unless you have very low volume music tracks.

                    • February 9, 2013

                      disqus_Yiog1GQstw

                      hi Dalethorn…please, the final help (I´m almost there)….I´m very inclined to grab the dt770LE, but, at the same time, very tempted to give a try to other 2 models: senn hd598 or akg 550k…can you give me a quick review about this two models and how they can be compared with dt770le? Just a quick view in terms of bass, mids and highs…Thank you VERY much…

                    • February 9, 2013

                      dalethorn

                      DT770: Perfect fit, great comfort; K550: Very bulky, hard to fit, uncomfortable. DT770: Strong lower bass; K550: Lean bass. Senn 598: Bass rolloff – weaker low bass. Senn 598 will have a soft pleasant sound overall but the DT770 will be more detailed.

                    • February 9, 2013

                      disqus_Yiog1GQstw

                      thank you man! thank you for you patience…as soon as I get the dt770LE I will post my impressions about..and give you some feedback about my experience with this cans, ok? I´m very grateful to you. No wonder you are one of the most requested here…

                    • February 9, 2013

                      dalethorn

                      Thank you for sticking with it. One suggestion: Post your actual impressions of the DT770LE in the DT770LE review here, so people looking for those impressions can find them easier.

                    • February 10, 2013

                      L.

                      Thanks for all the help on the boards Dale. Mike and me appreciate it a lot, as we’re a bit busy. I will on the other hand post 2 new reviews this week. Big ones. Anyway: Thank you from us both!

                    • February 10, 2013

                      dalethorn

                      And thank you – I’ve pointed quite a few people to the pages here. What I like most about Headfonia is the users are serious about getting information and they stay focused on that. We’re all customers really, so we all want to get the best help we can.