What’s Going On?

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These past few weeks, I realize it has been quiet around here aside from Lieven’s review on the Rein amplifiers and DACs. I’ve been listening to a lot of audio, but haven’t quite had the time to come up with anything to write a full article on Stax SRS-002 review is coming this week. Most of my time has been taken by the preparations leading to the opening of the Headfonia Store (which we soft-opened to public last Monday on 15th of April), and basically the business development side of the store.

 

BRIEFLY ON SPEAKERS

I’ve been listening to a lot of speaker set ups, mainly high end home set ups so let’s share some stories on what I think about them. Sonus Faber, Kharma, dCs , Krell, Audio Note, Ayon, to name a few, and I learned one or two things about high end home audio these few weeks. One, even a $100,000 set up, like the best set ups in headphones, have their shortcomings and their deficiencies, and these shortcomings can be a major pain to the ears of the owners as much as we wish our headphones would behave exactly as we want them to. Two, I learned to appreciate my headphone set ups more. They give nowhere the level of dynamics, bass, and emotion of high end speaker set ups, but they’re much easier and much cheaper to get right than high end audio.

Coming from headphones, speakers are great, but they come with their own set of problems. One, they require a much higher power levels to produce the same dB to our ears than headphones do (due to driver size and distance). A high quality 0.6 Watts is not that difficult to produce, but a high quality 60 Watt is much harder to produce. Two, they require multiple drivers to cover the entire spectrum adequately. That means crossovers. That means frequencies that don’t blend well. Tonal balance problems. Headphones, mostly, use single full-range drivers. Third, room acoustics. Huge problem. To the end user, all those mean that a lot of $$$ are needed to overcome those fundamental problems. With headphones, well not that difficult to get the acoustics right.

You can get a $1.000 speaker set up that sounds musically pleasing, but don’t be expecting much in terms of technicalities, dynamics, and especially the all important bass — where music happens. Still a well set up speaker system beats the best headphone set up I’ve heard. Especially the bass and the dynamics. The one I particularly enjoyed costs $50K, and the owner is still not happy about the midrange. Phew!

 

BACK TO HEADPHONE LAND

Back to Headfonia. What’s on schedule the next few weeks? The Headfonia Store is giving me access to a lot of stuff that previously was very hard for me to get. A Stax SR-002 set up, for instance. We have a demo unit at the store, and I’m finishing a review of it. Of course, I have to be very careful about which products I choose for the review, mainly due to the conflict of interest, being in this position.

Running a headphone shop is not really the way to become a millionaire, but I just love being surrounded with all these headphone guys, good music (we’re selling CDs and Vinyl too!!!), and lastly the headphones and amplifiers. Through the store, I’m bringing in some new products which are so far unavailable to the local headphone enthusiasts, so I’m really excited about them. The next 1-2 weeks however, besides from some guest reviews, may be relatively quiet around here, so I hope you guys would understand.

 

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47 Comments

  • Reply April 23, 2013

    Dave Ulrich

    You should open a shop in Minnesota USA! I would love that! Best of luck in your business venture!

    • Reply April 24, 2013

      Mike

      A store in the US right? Yeah I don’t think that’s gonna happen. πŸ˜‰

      • Reply April 26, 2013

        dalethorn

        One word: Mall of the Americas. I want an apartment there when I retire.

        • Reply April 26, 2013

          Dave Ulrich

          It’s overrated. It’s just a big mall.

          • Reply April 26, 2013

            dalethorn

            And the Bentley is just a big car (sigh!)

            • Reply April 26, 2013

              George Lai

              And our headphones are just bigger earbuds πŸ˜‰

              • Reply April 26, 2013

                dalethorn

                Sometimes I think my headphones are just oversized earbuds. That’s when I buy another amp, hoping things will change.

            • Reply April 26, 2013

              Dave Ulrich

              I live minutes from the Mall of America. It IS just a big mall. They have shops, so do other malls. A lot of the niche stores don’t survive either.

              • Reply April 26, 2013

                dalethorn

                I love places like Fashion Island better than I like the best resorts I’ve ever stayed in. South Coast Plaza is another one. I assumed MOA is modern, clean, upscale – all of that. If not, if it’s just full of KMart shoppers, then I wouldn’t enjoy it.

                • Reply April 26, 2013

                  Dave Ulrich

                  fairly modern, I guess… But it is still just a big mall. Better then Kmart? Well, yes there.

                  • Reply April 26, 2013

                    dalethorn

                    Not whether the mall is better than KMart. It’s who goes there. If you’ve been to SC Plaza or Fashion Island, the people who go there are not the people who shop at WalMart or KMart, because the things they want aren’t there. Same analogy to the new audio shop described here – you won’t run into a lot of people who are looking for shoes or handbags there. At SC Plaza for example, it wouldn’t be possible to operate a Rolex store if the place were full of KMart shoppers.

                    • April 26, 2013

                      Dave Ulrich

                      I know what you mean, believe me.

                • Reply April 27, 2013

                  John123John

                  I live by South Coast. Very nice, fancy shmancy

                  • Reply April 27, 2013

                    dalethorn

                    My favorite thing to do when I drove home on the 405 was stop and have a coffee and tiramisu at the place near Gucci on the long hall. They had good sandwiches too. The bridge across the buildings is beautiful at night and I posted videos of that on youtube.

    • Reply April 26, 2013

      menstruatingheart

      Hailing from Minnesota I would like that very much as well!

  • Reply April 23, 2013

    L.

    Good luck Mike!

  • Reply April 23, 2013

    dalethorn

    That’s where we all need to be – where you can lock the door and don’t let them leave until they buy something.

    • Reply April 24, 2013

      Mike

      Lots of them don’t want to leave even after they buy things!

      • Reply April 24, 2013

        L.

        Post a rule: 1 sale = 1 hour = 1 coffee

  • Reply April 23, 2013

    Jeff Hein

    Best of luck to you. I would love to have something like this in Michigan!!!! Best I can get access to is a handful of cheap headphones at Best Buy.

  • Reply April 23, 2013

    Burju

    Proficiat, Semoga selalu sukses, Mike. Lieven, please please let this one slides…..lol

    • Reply April 23, 2013

      L.

      No worries. We actually say “proficiat” too!

      • Reply April 24, 2013

        Burju

        Thank you, Lieven.

    • Reply April 24, 2013

      Mike

      Thanks Burju. You’re a local?

      • Reply April 24, 2013

        Burju

        Unfortunately no, I resides in the states or should I say exiled in the states. Lol.
        I am planning to visit this Christmas, though.
        But yes, I think I am considered to be a local still or always…..with a green passport. Lol.

        I would love to attend the opening party, Mike. Would love to…..

        I am glad that Indonesian finally have a store run by truly enthusiasts.

        Cheers

        • Reply April 24, 2013

          Mike

          Thanks, Burju. Let me know when you finally made it back home.

  • Reply April 23, 2013

    Sam Pascoe

    I think one reason it’s been quiet, is due to the frequency of reviews. The average time between reviews used to be about 3-5 days but as of this post it has been 11. And nothing stirs up discussion like new content. I’m not complaining, I know you run this site out of passion not profit, but with the addition of new writers I would think the content would be refreshed slightly more frequently. Still love the site though

    • Reply April 23, 2013

      L.

      Well of course it’s quiet do to the lack of updates, that’s kind of the point of Mike’s post πŸ˜‰

      Our guest reviewers are working as well, it’s just a busy period for everyone

    • Reply April 24, 2013

      Mike

      I understand the frustration, yeah anyway a review is coming up this week.

  • Reply April 23, 2013

    Pierre-Adrien Bernabeu

    Congrats on the new shop πŸ™‚ Now we will be able to go back and forth with the Jaben neighbors πŸ™‚

    • Reply April 24, 2013

      Mike

      So you’re based here? Come by!

  • Reply April 25, 2013

    Mab

    You open the store of my dreams. Congratulations!!!
    Good Luck

  • Reply May 1, 2013

    Asrona

    Wow looks awesome πŸ™‚

    • Reply May 1, 2013

      Mike

      Thanks!

      • Reply May 1, 2013

        Asrona

        Man i wish i knew where i can find shops like this in Denmark, i live there. It must be like heaven for headphone enthusiast there πŸ˜€

        • Reply May 1, 2013

          Mike

          I’m surprised you guys don’t have one in Denmark!

          • Reply May 1, 2013

            Asrona

            Well it might just be me, maybe i didn’t try hard enough to find it.

  • Reply May 2, 2013

    Hombre de Maiz

    Many of the problems that you ascribe to speakers can be mitigated, if not eliminated with active designs. You would do well to inform yourself on the benefits, theoretical and real, of active designs. Ask your partner Moko to let you hear a par of Focal active monitors, and you’ll see that the best-kept secret in loudspeakers are active studio monitors. Finally, on the issue of power, passive speakers only need large amounts of power due to their inherently inefficient design. In some respects (e.g. the fact that the amp is wired directly to the driver sans an intermediate cross-over) active speakers are more like headphones than passive speakers.

    • Reply May 3, 2013

      Mike

      Thank you.

      Problem with pro speakers is that they focus on neutrality and tonal balance but falls short on things like refinement, soundstage depth, midrange clarity and so on. I think pro speakers are the easiest way to get a proper sound for the least amount of dollar, however when you start going to the high end loudspeakers, I have yet to listen to a pro speaker that can match a typical “entry level” high end speaker with their ~$20K tag.
      Yes I’ve heard the active Focal monitors many times.

      • Reply May 6, 2013

        Hombre de Maiz

        Why would “pro” speakers lack “refinement, soundstage depth, and midrange clarity”? Are you suggesting the pros who depend on these tools for their livelihood have no need for these characteristics? In fact, market forces are better aligned to produce more complete products because a pro’s speaker is a capital expenditure for a tool to make money, rather than home audio which is discretionary spending for personal enjoyment. I suspect that what we are dealing here is with a classic case of “expectation bias” rather than any solid basis for comparison.

        • Reply May 6, 2013

          Mike

          Yeah sorry maybe I’m wrong.

          Sorry I didn’t mean to offend you.

          • Reply May 6, 2013

            Hombre de Maiz

            Don’t worry. No one is offended.

            So, pros want revealing, but not accurate? How odd that would be…

            • Reply May 6, 2013

              Mike

              No, not like that

            • Reply May 6, 2013

              dalethorn

              Many (or most) pros would indeed want accurate, but accurate is still variable due to the complexity of sound recording, if you understand what I mean. Whatever accurate does turn out to be in a pro application, there is rarely ever a requirement for audiophile musicality, because professional work is simply not the same thing as audiophile listening. I realize that is going to be difficult for people, because most people are likely to assume that audiophiles as well as recording pros both want ‘accurate’ playback. But, the sometimes very subtle refinements that make ‘accurate’ also ‘musical’ for long term enjoyment and fatigue-free listening are not requirements for pro recording applications.

        • Reply May 6, 2013

          dalethorn

          I wouldn’t expect pro speakers to necessarily be audiophile quality – like ‘monitor’ headphones, these things aren’t tuned for the best combination of accuracy and musicality, they’re tuned to be ‘revealing’ in ways that pros demand for their specific application. That’s not to say that “Audiophile speaker x” is always better than “Pro speaker y” for home listening enjoyment, it just means that pro applications have different priorities than audiophiles do.

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