A farewell to ears, from Nathan with love

This is Nathan’s farewell article, looking back at 4 years of writing for Headfonia. I’d like to thank Nathan for his dedication, great photography, humor and knowledge he’s shared with us. Headfonia wouldn’t be where we are today if it hadn’t been for Nathan.  I wish him all the best for his future career. Make sure to leave him a comment! Lieven

 

I never though I’d charge out of the gate reviewing Dita’s The Answer. I never thought I’d follow it up doing the same with Jerry Harvey’s Roxanne. Or Shure’s SE846. But holy! Have the gods of portable HiFi smiled on me. 

And today, in what will end up being my last full-length article at Headfonia, I’d like to talk about gear that has most impressed me during my tenure. 

Earphones:

I think it best to start on a high note, so let’s put up the Shure SE846. Until today, there is no high-end, multi-armature earphone that’s impressed me as much. Great fit. Great build. Amazing acoustic engineering both for the default sound, and the kit that changes the sound tubes. Tight, tight work from a manufacturer whose ups and downs in the portable audio industry are well catalogued. To my mind, it is Shure’s, if not the world’s first perfect earphone. Sure, I prefer a brighter signature with a more open mid section- in a word, Andromeda. But the SE846’s house sound objectively is awesome. And there are plenty of people that will find its general warmth perfect. To them it is an earphone with no rivals. For me, its mark is indelible. 

Jerry Harvey’s Roxanne is sweeter than the SE846 and bears a more detailed and open midrange. It’s also warm. A great-sounding earphone, but again just a bit too far this side of warm line for me. What concerned me then and still now was how big it was. Gosh, it sounded good, but gosh, I couldn’t wait to get it out of my ears. 

If you could warm and texture up the SE846’s midrange a bit more and lay high-frequency stage wide, but with a notable roll off, and do it all in a single driver, you’d kind of have the Astell & Kern AKT8iE MKII. Great fit, great sound, and easy on the eyes. The collab with Beyerdynamic was just what the doctor ordered. It is by far the most comfortable earphone I’ve ever used. Alas, even the MKII has cable issues. But gosh darn I’d love to put it up there with the SE846. 

The last three I want to talk about are Campfire Audio’s Andromeda, the original Oriolus, and Grado’s GR8e. The former has all the fit issues of Roxanne, but none of the build concerns. It is smooth, detailed, neutral, has a great soundstage, and transitions to die for. If only it fit well. Another one that doesn’t fit all that well is the original Oriolus. It is the best-sounding hybrid I’ve tried. Bright in all the right areas, tight in the rest. And gosh, while it sits nicely and isn’t too heavy, those custom-cum-universals are awkward. The GR8e fits really good. It’s not as comfortable as the AKT8iE MKII, but pretty close. It’s bright mids and upper mids are amazing for rock and live trance, piano and the like. Its bass is great but not quite detailed enough, nor pressurised to the foot-tapping level. Behind the SE846, it is my second-favourite earphone. 

Headphones:

Scaling things up a bit, I’ve got to say that there is only one headphone that really really stirs me from my time at Headfonia. Amazingly it’s not a Grado. It’s Dekoni’s Blue. Fostex innards, Dekoni’s brilliant skin interface around your ears ensures comfortable many-hours listening. And the sound is enough like Andromeda, just warmer – and considerations for driver type aside. The runner up is another super comfortable headphone, and one from a maker whose rise audiophile street cred is rocket-like. The Meze 99 Classics is comfortable, light, and it even isolates well. It sounds heavenly, with enough detail and sound pressure in the upper mids and bass to pull off a lively and fun take on neutral.

You can find the last part of Nathan’s overview on the next page, click HERE

A farewell to ears, from Nathan with love
4.7 (93.33%) 9 votes

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Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

25 Comments

  • Reply December 18, 2018

    Edy Tansil

    Auf Wiedersehen, or auf Wiederhoeren, maybe auf Wiederlesen?

    • Reply December 18, 2018

      Nathan

      I hope that one at least works.

  • Reply December 18, 2018

    Phong Ngo

    Best of luck to you, Nathan! I’ve always enjoyed your articles and insights. Excelsior!

  • Reply December 18, 2018

    jobbing

    Thank you Nathan for all the great reads, they have been of great help. Your photographs have been candy to our eyes. Sorry to see you leaving Headfonia.

    Wish you all the best in whatever you’ll be doing.

    Take care!

    • Reply December 18, 2018

      Nathan

      Many thanks for the encouragement. Headfonia’s got better lads and better hands now, but I take your words happily.

  • Reply December 18, 2018

    Linus

    Nathan, thanks so much for everything. I’ve enjoyed your articles pre-headfonia times for your unique style, they always gave me great insight, plus I learned new vocabulary from you.
    I was fortunate to have gotten to know you also a little behind the scenes. Thanks for all the laughs we could share.
    I wish you all the best for your future endeavors.
    You’re fantastic.
    Peas, L.

    • Reply December 18, 2018

      Nathan

      “And Iiiiiiiiiiiiii, will always love you-uuuuuuuuuu, Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, will always love you-uuuuuuuu,….”

  • Reply December 18, 2018

    Berkhan

    Nate, I hope I can ever come close to you in terms of product photography 🙂

    You set the bar high.

    Cheers mate, B.

    • Reply December 18, 2018

      Nathan

      When you can do that, by all means make money doing it.

  • Reply December 18, 2018

    Ivan Parshenkov

    Godspeed you magnificent bastard, thanks for your service.

    • Reply December 19, 2018

      Nathan

      I had to look that one up. A YouTuber I follow (Dr. Layman) uses that term all the time, but I just assumed it was his. Then I went down a rabbit hole. Batman?

  • Reply December 18, 2018

    JOHTHOR

    All the best to you in the future Nathan. Many of us that follow Headfonia have appreciated and learned a lot from you and your reviews. Hopefully Lieven can talk you into the occasional “guest review”. Thank you for the many contributions you have made.

    • Reply December 19, 2018

      Nathan

      Many thanks. I know that the new breed of lads here are more than up to keeping up the pace and quality.

  • Reply December 18, 2018

    Booker

    Wow, end of an era. Headfonia has become one of a very few regular hi-fi sites I visit – I really appreciate the effort all of you put in.

    Great idea for a final post too – you’ve given me a bunch of things to thinks about. My wallet, however, hates you 😉

    Best of luck with your future endeavors.

    • Reply December 19, 2018

      Nathan

      It has been awesome here. TMA was fun, but a lot more ‘work’ to keep the momentum going. OHM gets like 1/10th the traffic at best when linked to by God, so writing here has meant interacting with an enthusiastic fanbase that ‘gets’ it from the get go. I hope you keep coming here. I know I will. I’ll be here in this comment section for the foreseeable future if you need clarification on anything I said in this article. Spectra X… nuff said.

  • Reply December 19, 2018

    Andrei

    It was a real pleasure to enjoy your unique writing style on headfonia pages, Nathan. Good luck and thank you!

  • Reply December 20, 2018

    Joshua

    I immediately seeked out the Dita The Answer’s based on your review and they are my favourite earphones to date.
    I have looked forward to your reviews to get the latest in how things sound to you! Wishing you all the best! You have certainly inspired a whole legion here!

    • Reply January 2, 2019

      ohm image

      I am so glad to hear that you love the Dita. They are excellent earphones. Good luck and many happy returns in your search for perfection/fun.

  • Reply December 20, 2018

    Phong Ngo

    C’mon people, each giveaway gets hundreds of comments, but no love for one of this site’s biggest contributors?! Surely we can do better!

    • Reply January 2, 2019

      ohm image

      Maybe they’ve had enough. Anyway, many thanks for your comment. We’ll always be here reading together.

  • Reply December 20, 2018

    Bren Arden

    Im still very much enjoying my flares pro, based on youre judgement. Thanks alot for that and all the other work u have done for uss audiophyle nerdies.
    Have a good one and good luck with anny future proffesions.

  • Reply December 20, 2018

    Volly

    Thank you and good luck Nathan, thoroughly enjoyed your work!

  • Reply December 26, 2018

    Cesar

    Thank you Nathan for all your contributions to our hobby. You will be missed here at Headfonia but I hope we can still read your posts and see your awesome photography at ohm-image.net. Best of luck in your future projects!

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