The Sound: MH335DW
NOTE (1): because I borrowed the universal version of the MH335DW, I imagine that my opinions should differ qutie a bit from the real thing. For one thing, I found the universal MH335’s sound tubes to be too big for my ears. In fact, they were less comfortable than the massive universal JHA Roxanne. I could only stand listening for up to an hour at a time. Also, ear pads exert their own influence on sound; they absorb minute vibrations that help you feel bass, and place instruments. In other words, your mileage may vary.
NOTE (2): prior to publishing this article, I met Tokyo’s muscularest headfier, AnakChan. Anak was smitten by the demo units and purchased the MH335DW, and now has the Studio Reference edition. His impressions of the universal version match mine to a tee. But he is less impressed by the custom. Therefore, please read this article as a review of the DEMO MH335DW.
MH335DW is faster and more explosive than the mids-are-king ToGo!334. That makes it eminently suitable to trance, though a worse partner for poor recordings/compression algorithms. Make sure your music files are up to snuff. Where the ToGo!334’s somewhat muted high midrange masks shimmer and tizz, MH335DW’s does not.
Cymbals are more energetic, bass more bombastic; the initial feeling of space is that much wider. Once you finally settle down and stop banging your head, you will suss out that contrast. You might even call it v-shaped, but just.
This contrast is a thing of speedy beauty. Cymbals crash with resounding clarity against a heavy bass plate. Melodic elements weave in and out of both with ease. Nothing catches anywhere. But what drives everything neatly is the extremes. High mids are forward. Both bass resolution and power are high.
Midrange speed is very good. Bass speed trails midrange speed by a smidgeon. Treble has no flaws. It is speedy, ever clean, and blends in and out of high-mid passages with ease.
An interesting thing to note about high contrast sound signatures is that they produce a large sense of space- that space may sound larger than it really is. The good news is that it is easy to recognise. Contrast is at its nadir in the space between vocals and the coiled bass strings of a classical guitar. For this reason, the ToGo!334 parks a greater sense of space and detail in the vocal range. Again, the full custom version may be quite different. I’ll be honest here and say that I miss the soft/hidden details the ToGo!334 outs. In particular, key Nick Cave elements such as the fading echoes of guitar and piano, are missed when I’m in my Depressed Mode.
In older recordings, mids congregate in the middle of the head, creating a bubble of music in the skull. Vocal bands cant to the inner fibres of the skull while bass strikes the throat. Moving to newer, contrastier recordings, the bubble expands to engulf the space around your shoulders. Cymbals crash out horizontally from the temples, extending to the shoulders. Vocals trend to the centre and bass writhes from the centre out and back, to the spine. Electronic music’s psychoacoustic effects echo far and wide in a space larger than a basketball. Delineation is perfect, though I feel, damped by the ear pads.
The MH335DW isn’t as emotional sounding of an earphone as the ToGo!334 is. It thrives on edge. It riles. And it digs grit. Perhaps the biggest plus of its contrasty personality is its affinity for some of the more psychedelic effects of trance music. Speed and paranoia-inducing contrast: the perfect mix for those big parties Armin throws every 100 episodes. By the same token, genres that rely on soft mouth sounds: jazz, acapela, etc., lose some of their emotion and beauty.
Despite its immense bass pressure and reasonable sense of space, MH335DW is at heart, a studio-level earphone. Its timbre is unaccented, its speed is more than adequate, and its power good enough to retrieve bass details that otherwise could be lost to a musician or recording engineer. All of the above attributes lend themselves to the audiophile that is looking for contrast and front-line detail. Music lovers that value midrange detail and emotion will likely prefer the ToGo!334, or perhaps the ProAudio 334, which I hear, is closer in portrayal to the ToGo!334.
Finally, the MH335DW is less sensitive than is the 435. In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t a hard earphone to drive, but you will be hard pressed to find a player that spits it to acquit the need for an amp.
Actually, I know a player that acquits itself perfectly with any custom earphone out there. It’s very hard to find today, and prices are skyrocketing. Good luck finding one.
Highly resolving amps such as the Vorzüge PURE II or the Portaphile Micro, are important in correcting the output of poorly endowed sources.
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