Q & A - Archive 3 - Headfonia 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:

 

 

'

1,282 Comments

  • Reply February 4, 2012

    David Ulrich

    Mike, I am looking to build an economical (read: cheap) sound system for my computer.  I am stuck between the HRT MS2 with a JDS Cmoy or a the Uber Muzik Tiny Tube DAC.  I listen to all genres of music, but classical is my favorite.  I am also no basshead.  Any recommendations you have would be very awesome.

    • Reply February 6, 2012

      Mike

      David,
      The tiny tube was very nice, but it had more of a sweet midrange sound and the impact wasn’t strong enough for classical symphonies and such. Personally I would go with the HRT + Cmoy set up.

      • Reply February 6, 2012

        David Ulrich

         Would the Yulong u100 be the better choice.  The idea of having a simpe, one piece setup is nice.  Although, with the HRT, I could save up and replace the Cmoy with something like the Asgard eventually, and then save up and get a better DAC after that.  I hate choices.  Thanks for your response.

        • Reply February 7, 2012

          David Ulrich

          Although all I have is a lowly pair of HD518’s hooked up to a HM-101 right now.  Maybe the Audinst MX1. would be the best place for me to start.  I think I am having an online conversation with myself.  I will keep answering my own questions.  I think I am just rambling now.

        • Reply February 7, 2012

          Mike

          Nah go with the HRT + Cmoy.

  • Reply February 4, 2012

    Anonymous

    What headphone has the Sennheiser HD598’s signature soundstage and midrange, while having better bass and highs?

    • Reply February 6, 2012

      Mike

      Nothing that I know of.. maybe the HD800 but the bass is still relatively weak and the mids and upper treble are slightly different than the HD598.
      Try EQ-ing the HD598 to add some quantity on the bass and the highs.

  • Reply February 5, 2012

    Luke Garza

    Sorry Mike i ment the clas i put solo thinking it made sense but i could see how its confusing.  So what you think route i should go.

  • Reply February 5, 2012

    Don Vittorio Sierra

    Hi Mike, Is the o2 really worlds better than the jdslabs cmoy in all aspects? I was curious because someone is selling me his cmoy for a good deal and he is including an extra battery and a charger with the package. I will be using it with my hd600 and sr225i in case that matters. If it is a no contest kind of thing, I will just pass on the deal on get an o2 instead.

    • Reply February 6, 2012

      Mike

      Don, 
      The technicalities are clearly better on the O2, but when it comes to listening time, I still like the OPA2227 Cmoy better. 

  • Reply February 5, 2012

    Anonymous

    Mike, is dac on Fostex HP-A3 better than HRT Music Streamer II+ ?

    • Reply February 6, 2012

      Mike

      The sound signature is a bit different. The Fostex is very clean sounding, smooth and grainless. The HRT Music Streamer line up is more analog, more enveloping soundstage, but also more grainy. 

      The Fostex HP-A3 is an excellent DAC I think. It’s just that the limited distribution channel makes it a little less popular than what I think it can be.

      What set up are you thinking?

      • Reply February 7, 2012

        Anonymous

        I just goy my HD650. I also have Alessandro MS-1 and Earsonics SM2. I’m thinking to buy amp as well. It might be Matrix M-Stage or another amp that has a similar price with Matrix. (can you recommend me an amp as well?)

        I’m in Australia. I found one place that has Fostex and HRT. I tried Fostex with my Earsonics there but I couldn’t try HRT.  Fostex had a clean sound and good soundstage but bass isn’t that good. Maybe an amp can fix it. There is just $50 differences between them and that $50 gives me an amp with Fostex (easy to carry on travels)

        What do you think?

        (PS: I like laid back sound)

        • Reply February 7, 2012

          Mike

          Laid back sound, perhaps try the Schiit Asgard. It’s more refined than the M-Stage. As for the DAC, yes the Fostex is a bit weak on bass if you use the internal headphone amp. You should just go with the HRT, even the entry level MS2 would do.

  • Reply February 5, 2012

    m.rezadwiarianto

    hi mike do you think objective2 is worth when pair with hd25?

    thanksss

    • Reply February 6, 2012

      Mike

      Yes. They make a good pairing. 

  • Reply February 6, 2012

    Anonymous

    Hey, have you considered reviewing the V-Moda M-80?

    • Reply February 6, 2012

      Anonymous

      I second this. I auditioned the M80’s at Guitar Center after reading a flood of nearly unanimous positive reviews on head-fi. Despite the glowing reviews from a multitude of veteran head-fi’ers, I was skeptical before trying them out, if only because I found the Crossfade LP’s to be a muddy, dark mess. A beautiful, well built mess, but a mess nonetheless.

      15 minutes later, I was walking out of Guitar Center the very happy owner of the nicest and most enjoyable set of headphones that I’ve ever experienced for under $200.

      Mike, there’s very good reason why these things, and the upcoming Crossfade M100’s, are the talk of the town over at head-fi, yet not even a peep out of you regarding them…other than to say you haven’t tried them. It seems strange to me that an enthusiast like you hasn’t made an effort to experience these. Please check them out, Mike. I’d love to hear your take on them.

      FYI…I’ve never been big on the alleged effects of burn in…until I bought the M80. They sound good out of the box, but a good 24 hours of burn in made a very noticeable difference. I love mine, and at $200, I consider them a steal.

      • Reply February 6, 2012

        Mike

        Hi Joe, 
        The main reason that we still haven’t done the M-80 review is… we still haven’t got one yet from V-Moda! Lol yes I know people have been asking about it and for those of you who are expecting a review, it must’ve looked quite dumb how we can’t seem to get our hand on one of the more popular headphone around. 

        Also please remember that there are tons of other products being released on the market, and so often it’s hard to just focus on one particular product, especially if the company releasing it (Vmoda) is not being particularly cooperative. 

        • Reply February 8, 2012

          Anonymous

          I just sent him a PM at head-fi and he said he’ll send you one!  He gave me these two email addresses that you should contact: 
          [email protected] and [email protected]

          I also sent him your contact form…not sure who will contact who first then. 😛

          • Reply February 8, 2012

            Anonymous

            Thanks! We’ll give it one last try 😉

          • Reply February 8, 2012

            Mike

            Lol, okay thanks for that. I will send him an email.

    • Reply February 6, 2012

      Anonymous

      DT770 Pro 80 vs V-Moda M80 for Classic Rock?

      Also, if the IE8/IE80 was comparable in performance to a full size can, what would it be?

      • Reply June 22, 2012

        Jeffrey Tang

        The IE8 would be close to an unmodded HD650 and the IE80 to a modded HD650 with front back foams removed and possibly an upgraded cable. The IE8 is darker with overwhelming bass and recessed or slightly veiled mids, whereas the IE80 has a more forward mids and lesser soundstage.

        DT770 is better but really the DT880 is more suitable for rock imho.

        • Reply June 22, 2012

          Mike

          The IE80 is a lot of fun with Classic Rock. It’s like the IE8 + a little HD25-1 tuning.

    • Reply February 6, 2012

      Mike

      Yes I know. Replied down below: 
      http://www.headfonia.com/q-a-2012/#comment-430565066

  • Reply February 6, 2012

    Florian GERARD

    Hey Mike,

     

    Do you know any website to buy the SUPERLUX HD660 headphones? or the 668B? as
    i can’t find anything on amazon.fr or ebay.com. Thanks for your response.

    • Reply February 6, 2012

      David Ulrich

        http://www.headphone.com  It’s a website called headroom.

      • Reply February 6, 2012

        Mike

        David,
        You sure Headroom has the HD660 Superlux? Not HD600 (sennheiser)

        • Reply February 6, 2012

          David Ulrich

           I know they have the 668B, but not the 660.  I should have been more clear in my response.

          • Reply February 7, 2012

            Mike

            Yes, no problem, David.

    • Reply February 6, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Florian,
      Unfortunately the Superlux distribution is a little limited and yes I understand it’s tough to find the HD660 especially in Europe or the US.

    • Reply February 6, 2012

      Anonymous

      Hey Florian

      I am not sure where you are located but http://www.pawmusic.com carries a lot of Superlux products.  I have purchased several times from them and they are awesome to deal with.  Another site you might try is Micca Store as they carried Superlux at one time

      • Reply February 6, 2012

        Mike

        Thanks for the link!

        • Reply February 6, 2012

          Florian GERARD

          hey thanks guys for the links! i just found out a website called THOMANN from deutchland as i’m linving in France they can ship to and have really good prices for the products…
          Also my question how does perform the AKG K701 ?! versus my HD650….which is really a good one for me, o just bought the E10 since i read your review and that’s just fantastic for the price/small thing 😉 nothing to compare with my little Dot dac 1 + MKIII at home but surprising at work…worth for my collegues with the open HD650 😉
          i alos bought the E11 but didn’t like the bass and cutting trebble so i returned it. I’m waiting for the E17 to get from amazon sooner i hope….;-)
          As i saw your very great review of the superlux headphones and want a try for the price 😉
          So many great review Mike! 

          • Reply February 7, 2012

            Mike

            Hi Gerard,
            Just get the HD660. It’s a great headphone although not K701-HD650 level, but it’ll surprise you the way the E10 does. 🙂 

  • Reply February 6, 2012

    Damien Tan

    Hey Mike,
    Between the CEentrance Dacport LX and HRT Music Streamer 2+, which one has better bass extension and impact? Also, do you have any plans to review the Calyx Coffee any time soon?

    • Reply February 7, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Damien, 
      We tried talking to Calyx but they weren’t responding, so. 

      The LX and the HRT MS2? Well bass impact is usually more to the amplifier’s job. The extension are mostly the same. The MS2’s is fuller on the lows, but the LX is clearer. 

      Anyway I really don’t think you should evaluate a DAC based on such a limited terms i.e. Bass comparison. 

    • Reply June 22, 2012

      Jeffrey Tang

      I tried the Calyx Coffee, but it seemed to have issues with my macbook pro.

  • Reply February 7, 2012

    Rashid

    Hi Mike,
    I have stepped into the hi-fi world; just acquired the HD650. Need a DAC/AMP. Budget is 1000-1200, located in the CONUS. Listen to rock, classical, vocals, mainstream pop and percussion. Portability not needed. Reliability and warranty come second in importance, after sound quality. Would love to have you chime in. Thanks

    • Reply February 7, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Rashid, 
      You probably won’t get one box that does all of that equally well, but the Burson HA-160DS is excellent for rock, and very good for pop and percussion. 

      http://www.headfonia.com/burson-ha-160d-review/

      • Reply February 7, 2012

        Rashid

        Thanks Mike,
        Do you not recommend any of the excellent Woo amps for my HDs and listening preferences? Also, at the expense of stretching my budget, I was looking at the B22 (since you love it) and feeding it with the CEntrance LX via laptop USB. Would appreciate your input on the Burson v/s the CEtrance+b22 combo, and also why not the Woos? Thanks much

        • Reply February 8, 2012

          Mike

          If you already have a DAC, then yes you can go with the Woo amps as they don’t have a DAC/Amp model. 

          As for the Beta22, I don’t know, don’t think it’s that great anymore. 

          • Reply February 8, 2012

            Rashid

            Thanks Mike,
            Sorry to be badgering you, but given the option of the CEntrance LX with the WA6 V/S the Burson 160ds, what would be your preference given my musical tastes? And maybe some elaboration on your lukewarm reaction to the beta22? Thanks again – hopefully my last question

            • Reply February 8, 2012

              Mike

              Rashid,
              Personally I think the Burson is the best amp for Rock out there. It also does Pop and Dance and Electronica well. The Woo, I think works better for slower paced music including some Pop, Rock-ballads, Jazz, and Classical.
              As for the Beta22, I felt that while the technicalities are excellent, the musicality aren’t so. Most B22 owners I know personally have moved to a different amp, and the 4-channel B22 I built are not getting any more play time.

  • Reply February 7, 2012

    m.rezadwiarianto

    mike which is better,neob o2 or jdslabs o2

    thank you

  • Reply February 7, 2012

    Hafiz Yunaf

    mike, does the 215 does rock nice? something like scorpions, muse etc

    • Reply February 7, 2012

      Mike

      No, not quite the IEM for that.

      Try the TF10Pro.

      • Reply February 12, 2012

        Hafiz Yunaf

        i’m having a hard time to fit it into my ears lol. any reccomendations for cans that does rock well and good bass punch under $200? marshall major and superlux hd660 is out since it’s very uncomfortable to me.

        looks like my best bet is MS1i

        • Reply February 13, 2012

          Anonymous

          Have you heard the Sennheiser HD25’s? I believe they can be found for about $199 and sound really good for rock  They’re my favourite cans right now.  Definitely worth a listen….

        • Reply February 13, 2012

          Mike

          Yes the MS1 does rock pretty well.

  • Reply February 8, 2012

    asd qwe

    Hey can I get an ETA on the Bottlehead Crack review?

    • Reply February 8, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry still no date.

      • Reply February 8, 2012

        Anonymous

        But I’m working something out with Bottlehead. I’ll keep you posted

        • Reply February 8, 2012

          asd qwe

          Awesome, many thanks.

  • Reply February 8, 2012

    john oh

    Hey mike, 

    I have a hd598 complimenting my m50s, with asgard and msII+. Im seriously thinking about getting the hd600 but is it something that can, in a sense, replace my hd598? (Sell hd598 to help pay for hd600) or are they different enough so where i can have both.

    Thanks,

    P.S. so sad about the comment below. ive been waiting to hear your impression of the Crack +- Speedball, which i value oh so much 🙂

    • Reply February 10, 2012

      john oh

      I have a question about soundstage:
      Is it something you mainly hear through live recordings and albums? I say this because with music recorded in a studio, with all the EQing, recording in soundproof rooms, sometimes in separate rooms and other stuff i dont know about; would that recording environment create a stage for sound? i hope im being clear.

      many thanks,

      • Reply February 10, 2012

        Mike

        Hi John,
        Yes real soundstage is captured on live recordings. With studio recordings, they sometimes can try to emulate a natural soundstage but it’s never quite like the real thing.
        So a good soundstage reproduction is basically the headphones, passing along the information already captured in the recording. Which means, as long as the driver is accurate, it shouldn’t matter if it’s an IEM or a closed back headphone. The soundstage should still be vividly recreated.
        I wrote a little bit about the difference of a “spacious sound” to what really is a good soundstage on this article: http://www.headfonia.com/audio-technica-ad-series-ad300-ad700-ad900-ad1000prm-ad2000/

        • Reply February 11, 2012

          john oh

          Audio Technica AD-Series – Very spacious, bad imaging.
          Sennheiser hd598 – not as spacious, great imaging.
          Grado Series – very open, not spacious, and idk about imaging.
                                       does very open just mean more speaker like as in less seal?

          am i getting this right? and i dont mean bad as in its terrible just not as good relative to the headphones ive listed. 
          I know for a fact that the hd598s have great imaging as i use them for games, and its pretty scary.. so basically soundstage deals with imaging which the hd598 excels over the AD-series in.

          THanks,

          • Reply February 11, 2012

            Mike

            John,
            Yes I think you’ve gotten the impressions right.

            The AD-series.. I would consider the imaging pretty bad. But if you take a $20 headphone next to it, well maybe it’s not so bad.

          • Reply February 12, 2012

            john oh

            It seems like there’s some kind of system locking the replys, anyways.
            one last question.

            Whats a good method for picking up on soundstage (spacious vs imaging) for a growing audiophile. listen to live recordings and try to place the instruments maybe? idk, i would like to know your methods (if theyre not a secret 🙂 )
            Im beginning to differentiate 320kbs and flac (wild claim i know,) and definitely can differentiate 128 and flac. differentiating  between dacs and amps is a bit tricky though..
            thanks for the tips,

            and good luck on your battle against on sound lol

            • Reply February 13, 2012

              Mike

              No that’s just a limit to the threaded system.. I think you can’t go deeper than 4 replies otherwise all the text will be condensed into one narrow column.
              Okay that’s a really good question and sure no secrets, but let me see if I can explain it with words.
              First of all, a good live recording is definitely needed. Keep in mind that with mainstream music, sometimes recordings like “live in bla bla bla” is not really a pure live recording. For instance I have John Legend Live in Philadelphia and you can tell that his vocals are pushed way too much to give presence and the interaction of the crowd noise and his vocals aren’t always so consistent. In some areas the soundstage even compresses and becomes studio like. Clearly, there’s some heavy editing done on that.
              Classical recordings tend to be more honest. But even then, with some performances, the acoustics in the hall is so quiet that you don’t really get a sense of the space. You know how in some recordings you can hear the air in the cathedral, like a faint hiss sound? Some of the information on the soundstage is actually transferred through that air, but on some recordings, you don’t hear it. Again it’s difficult.

  • Reply February 10, 2012

    Andrew Lavengood

    Mike,

    My current setup is an audinst hud-mx1 and ad700’s at my computer. i mostly listen at my computer but when i am portable (like on a plane or watching movies on my ipad) I have been using my jdslabs cmoybb and sunrise xcited ear buds.  I am thinking about upgrading some parts of my setup but don’t where to start. the audinst and ad700s are great but maybe lack bass a little bit. however i really like the wide open spacious feel of the ad700s. i was thinking of getting an amp like objective2 or asgard but maybe that is wasted on the ad700s? i have tried my cmoy as the amp from the audinst as dac but it wasn’t that great.

    I mostly listen to indie rock and hard rock, and shoegaze. Occasionally i get into folk, alternative, and jazz. I have tried grados and senns 25-1 but didn’t like the resolution or closed in sound. my other headphones are hd-555 and jvc rx-700.

    what do recommend for my next amp or headphone purchase for under $500? i am just looking to start upgrading and get some really great sound.

    Thanks!
    Andrew

  • Reply February 10, 2012

    Florian GERARD

    hello Mike,

    As i’ll moved to balanced amp (probably the LD MKVIII SE) i would like to know where can i buy a balanced cable for my HD650 ?! And if you really think there’s a difference between two cables…caz i’ve seen cable between 100 to 500$ !
    i’m also considering the DIY cable but i really don’t know where to look at.
    thanks for your help.

    any review of the C421 to come? 😉

  • Reply February 10, 2012

    Hafiz Yunaf

    evening mike, just wondering is there any amps ( desktop/portable under US$300 ) that has a similar tonal ( especially the mid, low and soundstage ) to C421 OPA2227?

    • Reply February 11, 2012

      Mike

      Similar, maybe amps like the E11, CmoyBB.

  • Reply February 11, 2012

    Jack Harvey

    Hey Headfonia, what is the best amp for the HD650s?

    • Reply February 11, 2012

      Anonymous

      A good OTL tube amp does miracles for the HD650. Crack, LF339, WA3, … there are so many in all budgets. the higher the budget, the better the HD650 I’m afraid.

      We should soon be reviewing the Crack (in a month or 2)

      • Reply February 11, 2012

        Jack Harvey

        I see. Any amps below 500usd? I’m new to home audio.

      • Reply February 11, 2012

        Jack Harvey

        looking at the wa6 with s. grace tubes, kinda over budget, but looks good for the long run

        • Reply February 11, 2012

          Anonymous

          WA6 is no OTL but better in the long run if you have lower impedance phones too.

          • Reply February 11, 2012

            Jack Harvey

            i see. One last question, I’m moving to desktop, which headphone should i get? Looking at something with deep tight bass, good mids and controlled highs. I listen to jazz, pop, hip hop, rock and vocals. Lookin at the 650s and the he500. any suggestions?

        • Reply February 13, 2012

          Anonymous

          The HD650 should do just one, it’s a lovely headphone

    • Reply February 11, 2012

      Mike

      Jack,
      No such thing as one best amp. What’s your budget?

  • Reply February 11, 2012

    Florian GERARD

    i was looking at the DARKVOICE and LA FIGARO amps which are the same design? no? that’s a separate company now?! but also loads of feedback about the quality and custumers complains….What about now?! Does it has change? Is that safe to buy one? and from ebay? I saw review about the DV336 with hd650 which is a great combo as the guy say. I’m looking for an uprgrade of the little MKIII for my HD650. Amp budget about 800$ and there are lot of amps…I’m looking for an OTL design like my MKIII. So i was wondering about the DV336 with good tubes (5998) or WO amp or little dot balanced MKVIII SE or MKIV. Well i’m not decided ;-( i really dunno. I read lot aboiut the balanced mode of the HD650 which is “magical” as they say….But there’s not lot of reveiw about the ld MKVIII SE amp and some people say to go better with a good single ended amp like a woo or a DV336 with tube rolling….
    Any body to help me?

    • Reply February 13, 2012

      Anonymous

      Hi Florian. First of all the designer of Darkforce (Yuking) created his own new company called LaFigaro, where he launched improved versions of the DV brand. In example, DV337 became LF339. I myself have the 339 OTL amp from LF, which you can get on Yuking’s website http://www.yuking09.com.

      It is safe to buy a LF amp from that site and Yuking has a good customer service, I have no complaints about it at all. I wouldn’t advise buying on ebay.

      OTL is a very good way to go for the HD650, I would advise the WA3 or the 339 or maybe the Bottlehead Crack

      • Reply February 14, 2012

        Florian GERARD

        ok thanks ! i think i’ll go for a 339 from the direct Yuking page’s….i havn’t find lot of review about the 339 but did you tested some tube rolling? did you paired it with hd650? and also is that amp balanced or not?
        Cauz if it’s balanced i’ll have to buy a cable for my HD650. But i don’t think i’ll buy one of the 300$+ cable as i prefer to pay less and get a better amp. Do you know any good balanced cable for the HD650? i saw on ebay a shenzhen cable like that:
        http://cgi.ebay.fr/Upgrade-version-HD580-HD600-650-balance-line-4-pin-XLR-male-single-crystal-etc-/110744575088?pt=PDA_Accessories&hash=item19c8e41c70 

        have you a better option?

        • Reply February 14, 2012

          Anonymous

          LF339 in Single Ended, not ballanced, don’t worry. I have the HD650 and it sounds it best with the 339, it is AWESOME. All my friends agree that it sounds best on the 339. So you don’t need a new cable, the stock one does just fine.

          Ofcourse I did some tube rolling. try getting some 6AS7/6080 tubes. like RCA, TS, Chatham. And some TFK EF80 tubes or the 5693 RCA Red. Don’t forget to ask for your free tube cage and the free EF80 tube converter.

          any more questions, just ask!

          L. I accidentally hijacked Mikes account 😀

          • Reply February 14, 2012

            Florian GERARD

            Thanks a lot for your help ! Your’re so helpful guys……no one can try as much
            amps as you…I’ll let you know my “impressions” as soon as i get it 😉 i think
            for next month 😉

  • Reply February 12, 2012

    Anonymous

    Hey Mike,

    Budget: 200-300 euros.
    Purpose: studio/recording.
    Genre: (mostly) hard rock & metal.

    Senn HD 25-1 II the best option in your opinion?

    Best regards,
    // Jonte

    • Reply February 12, 2012

      Anonymous

      The HD25’s sound very good for listening to and enjoying hard rock & metal, but i dont know if they are revealing enough for studio monitoring?TTeshsux75

    • Reply February 13, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Jonte,
      So, this is for recording hard rock and metal stuff?

    • Reply February 13, 2012

      Mike

      Well, if it is for recording metal stuff, I honestly never had that experience. The HD25-1 II is good for listening to hard rock and metal recordings, but for monitoring? I’m clueless.

      • Reply February 13, 2012

        Anonymous

        Thanks for the reply anyway! 🙂

  • Reply February 12, 2012

    Andrew Lavengood

    Hey guys,

    What kind of tube amp under $300 would you recommend for ad700s and dt880s?

    Great website, keep it up!
    Thanks, Andrew

    • Reply February 13, 2012

      Mike

      Andrew,
      I did a review on the Bravo tube amp once, and it was pretty good for the price. It’s well under your budget though, and at the moment I can’t really think of a tube amp in the $200-$300 range. There are a lot of options if you go to eBay, but I can’t guarantee they’ll sound good.
      http://www.headfonia.com/bravo-hybrid-tube-amplifier/

  • Reply February 13, 2012

    Andre Bonifacio

    Hello Mike,
    Although I don’t want to bug you with yet another “can’t decide between x or y”, but I cannot really decide between the HiFiMan HE-500 LE and the Audeze LCD-2. I have a HD-600 and I am looking or something different and fun. I am planning on driving the headphones with a HeadAmp Pico DAC/AMP and I am planning to listen to electronic music and jazz. I tried the HiFiMan HE-400 but it wasn’t what I was looking for and returned it. It has the bass, but lacked the PRaT, and the contrast between the mids and highs and the lows to my ears. From what I heard in head-fi, the HE-500 LE is a greatly improved HD-600 whereas the LCD2 is like a greatly improved HD-650. I read the reviews on both headphones in your website but  in the HE-500 review, I wasn’t sure if you are comparing the HE-500 with a Rev. 1 or Rev.2 LCD2. Moreover the LCD2  Rev. 2 didn’t really say anything new except that it is better than the Rev.1. Basically I am looking for something with great musicality with some tolerance to some poor recordings. I trust your taste so your opinion would awesome. Thanks for the great work !

    Andre B.

    • Reply February 13, 2012

      Mike

      Andre,
      To give a simple solution, I don’t think the HE-500 works for electronic, though it’s great for Jazz. The LCD-2 works with both electronic and Jazz.
      Does that answer your question?

      • Reply February 13, 2012

        Andre Bonifacio

        Thanks, that answers it.

  • Reply February 14, 2012

    jonathanajw

    Hi Mike
    I was wondering if you could suggest some headphones which would suit ambient electronic music. Something with good instrument separation but with a more laid back pace and less emphasis on bass than electro centric headphones such as the aiaia tma-1.

    • Reply February 15, 2012

      Mike

      Hmmm…

      The AIAIAI TMA-1 is pretty laid back already.. Not sure there is anything more laid-back. Have you listened to it ?

  • Reply February 14, 2012

    Jack Zheng YingLun

    Hey Headfonia, I’m looking for an amp for my HD650. I am using it with the Equinox Cable, out from a Bitfrost. Schiit audio looks interesting, been looking at the Vahalla and the Lyr, which is better? 
    Thanks, 
    JZ

  • Reply February 15, 2012

    Burt Argyle

    hi I am deciding between ALO Continental and Triad Audio L3. should i get both, ALO for warmer/musical with HD800 and Triad Audio for rock/metal, with rocker phones. or are they close enough that i should only get one?

    • Reply February 15, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Burt,
      Well if you have the money, why not? 😉

      The L3 is actually the warmer sounding one, but the ALO sounds clearer.

  • Reply February 15, 2012

    Joe Siow

    Hi Mike, it’s Joe here again.

    Would like to enquire if you have heard the GS-1 or GS-X besides Headamp’s Gilmore Lite.

    Though LCD-2 pairs very well with the Burson HA-160 that I have, I have been yearning for more transparency. I recently read an impression that with its very black background, the GS-1 sounds very transparent. I wonder if the GS-1/ LCD-2 pairing would be a good one, and would love to hear your input. Thanks!

    Cheers
    Joe

    • Reply February 15, 2012

      Mike

      Nope Joe, sorry I haven’t.

      • Reply February 15, 2012

        Joe Siow

        No worries Mike. Thanks anyway.

  • Reply February 15, 2012

    Jeremy Buchanan

    Hello Mike, I was wondering when you were doing your review on the balanced module for the HM-801? Thanks!

    • Reply February 15, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Jeremy,
      The one they sent me was defective and I have yet to receive another one from them. So I don’t think I am going to do it.
      I had some time with the balanced amp (before it went kaput), and I think it gives you the usual benefits of balanced amplification, i.e a bigger soundstage and having a weightier lows.

  • Reply February 15, 2012

    Anonymous

    Hi, I have purchase a pair of Denon AH-D7000 headphones. 

    I would alike to use it with my iPhone 4 when I am on the move. I was thinking of buying a Fiio E17 to power the headphones but I was conceded if it will provide enough power to drive them! What are your thoughts or maybe you could recommend an alternative if you think it may not be suitable. I would like to keep the price under $300. Cheers Russ

  • Reply February 16, 2012

    TheOneInYellow

     Hi Mike, I have a question to ask about certain products that I may be purchasing this week.

    Right now, my budget is approximately $400/£250/€310.00, and  I am torn between purchasing these three products. They are:

    – Objective2 from JDS Labs ($144/£91.76),

    – Matrix mini-i with remote control from TamAudio.com (or from their eBay storepage) ($335.00/£213.56), &

    – Audio-gd NFB-5 from Audio-gd directly (AmpCity.co.uk is far too expensive) ($409.50/£236.94 via DHL, or $411.00/£261.90 via DHS).

    First, the headphone amplifier section; which is better of the three? Iassume that the Objective2 beats the Matrix mini-i, but not sure about the NFB-5…

    Second, DAC; except the Objective2, is there a discernible difference
    between the Audio-gd DAC’s (that you have tested) against the Matrix
    Mini-i? I understand that you may not have used or heard the NFB-5, but I assume that the Audio-gd ‘house sound’  remains similar to their products.

    The NFB-5 is fairly new, and I am torn as to:

    – risk and purchase the NFB-5, which seems to be potentially a great DAC with HA amp, or

    – stick to a good, decent budget DAC/Amp (Matrix Mini-i), or

    – stick with my current DAC (Asus Xonar D2X PCI-E) and get the
    Objective2. This last option gives me room to purchase some custom
    sleeves from ACS to fit onto my UE TF10’s, or save up for something else.

    Thank you for your time!

    BTW, on an unrelated topic. Though I am still writing my review, I still love my c421 with AD8620, though I partially wish I had went for the OPA2227P for use with my UE TF10’s. However, my opamp gives me a better options for future IEM’s, such as saving up for CIEMS.
    Now, here is some interesting news that I am unsure if you know about (concerning the c421’s). As you may already know, there is channel imbalance at low volumes when using the c421 with Low Gain. Some owners who have high sensitivity IEM’s (CIEM’s) have found this problematic. John has been very helpful on the Head-Fi forums, enough to make his own response. Once John has sorted out the final enclosures, he has offered to all those who pre-ordered and bought the first batch of c421’s to receive a Low Gain modification, from its current 3.5x to 2.5x (-3dB),
    by sending back our amps for the mod and new enclosures (what he calls the
    v1.01 upgrade). I will be taking him up on his offer! It thought to let you know about this for your future review 😉

    http://www.head-fi.org/t/575633/jdslabs-c421-preorder-is-live/105#post_8113936

    ^_^

    • Reply February 16, 2012

      Mike

      Well there are so many variables it’s almost impossible for me to give a comparison between that three without having listened to them.
      On the JDSLabs, I personally don’t have any channel imbalance issues but let me double check.

    • Reply February 17, 2012

      Mike

      Yes the C421’s analog pot has channel imbalance at low volume levels. 

      • Reply February 21, 2012

        TheOneInYellow

        Hi Mike, sorry for the delay,…

        The channel imbalance is only an issue for certain owners of the c421 amp who have high sensitivity IEM’s, but can also be a problem for any owner (of the preorder c421’s).
        All new c421 will have the new change of Low Gain from 3.5x to 2.5x, but also the following changes (see John’s post below):

        http://www.head-fi.org/t/575633/jdslabs-c421-preorder-is-live/120#post_8153505

        About seeking for your advice; I knew it was a long shot, and that, without listening to them, it would be hard to give feedback. I am still torn between what I want, but I have narrowed it down to getting:

        Desktop Amp’s:
        – Objective2,
        – Shiit Asgard,
        – Audio-gd C-2.2,

        or

        DAC/HA’s:
        – Audio-gd NFB-5,
        – Audio-gd NFB-10SE (A little over my budget, but may be worth it),
        – Future NwAvGuy ODAC (Objective Desktop Amplifier/DAC).

        I think my problem is this; do I want a DAC with my headphone amp? Its a question that, for the last few days, has been throwing me off from buying anything.
        I currently use the Asus Xonar D2X (over three/four years), which i great. I doubt it’s the world best, but it is one of the best PC DAC cards at its price point (though it has been superseded by both the Xonar STX and the Xonar Essence One), but it does the job for now.
        The major problem is that I don’t want to sacrifice HA for a good DAC, but want both to be good. the Matrix mini-i would be very good over what I own, but I look at it has a half-step of improvement. I want both DAC and HA to be extremelly good, but my budget is asking for too much. Finding about Audio-gd was great, but I still have my reservations over buying a combo DAC/HA unit.

        So, hopefully if it is not too rude, here are a few more questions for you:

        With a budget of approximately $400/£250/€310, should I concentrate and get the absolute best desktop amplifier I can afford at, or buy a HA/DAC?
        If the former, of the amplifiers that you have tried personally (or other Headphonia reviewers) what would be that absolute best amp at this price?
        If the latter, what would be the best HA/DAC you have tried at, again, the budget price?

        Again, sorry for the earlier long-winded post, I hope this one makes more sense, and I appreciate your advice!

        Thank you for reading!

        ^_^

        • Reply February 21, 2012

          Mike

          At that budget, I don’t know all the DAC/Amp boxes seem to be more of a DAC first, Amp second. Meaning the DAC is usually good but the Amp often lacks punch, with the exception of CEntrance’s DACPort. Of course I dont’ have any experience with the Audio-Gd boxes you mentioned so I don’t know.
          Why not take the guesswork out and get a solid and proven combination like the HRT MS2 and the Schiit Asgard?

  • Reply February 16, 2012

    Anonymous

    Hi Mike,

    Which one would you recommend me for HD650?

    Graham Slee Solo SRGII + HRT MS II+
    Centrance Dac Mini
    Burson HA 160DS   or
    …………   (your recommendation)

    (for R’n’B , pop, soft rock, accoustic)

    • Reply February 16, 2012

      Mike

      Perhaps the Graham Slee set up would be best for your music.

      • Reply February 17, 2012

        Anonymous

        Thanks.
        Dou you think Graham Slee Solo SRGII shows me the HD650’s potential and do you think the HRT and SRGII  might be too dark for HD650?

        • Reply February 17, 2012

          Mike

          No it should not be too dark, just warm, but the Graham Slee is not a dark amp. If you want more sparkly treble then go with the Woo amps, but from your music list I would personally go with the Slee.
          Yes it should be a good amp for the HD650, good enough for day to day listening. If you want to hear the HD650 at their best then spend $6,000 on some Manley Neo Classic 300B pre amp.

  • Reply February 16, 2012

    Manji group

    Hi Lieven, i remembered hearing somewhere that you said you have the la figaro 339, can you do a review of that? also synergy wise, does it play along well with hd 650? how’s it compared with solo srg ii?

    Manji

    • Reply February 16, 2012

      L.

      I do have that one, it never really came up to review it actuallyp. I’ll check with Mike if we can do something about it.

      But as I said on here before, it is my best amp for the HD650 and the HE-500. All my friends want to listen to the 339+HD650 combo, it’s just awesome. I can’t comare it to the Solo, sorry

      • Reply February 16, 2012

        Manji group

        can’t because you’ve never heard of the solo? just wanna know that’s all, do you change anything on your 339? (aside from tube, cause i know you can customize it)

        • Reply February 17, 2012

          L.

          Never listened to the Solo. the 339 is stock besides the tubes

  • Reply February 16, 2012

    Chi-Hwa Michael Ting

    Mike,
    have you tried the ATH-ES10? I than demoed the ESW9 and ES10 back to
    back. The biggest difference was the price as it was marked right
    infront of my face, the ES10 goes for twice as the ESW9. Design are
    very similar, beside the obvious Ti vs Wood, the ES10 cup is a little
    bigger and covers all of my ear perfectly while the ESW9 rest a bit on
    my ear. The sound difference was really huge, considering
    how similar the outside design is. Everything just sounds bigger and
    tighter on the ES10. There was more bass, and for forward mids and
    clear hi-highs. While being more exciting I didn’t feel it was messing
    up anything, everything was detailed and clear on the ES10. On the
    other side the ESW9 sounded soft, and as the store clerk puts it “warm.”
    At another shop the ES10 was demoing beside B&W P5 and again the
    sky is clearer with the ES10, the P5 was just too dark and slow. Of course I listen to Rock (L’arc~en~ciel) so maybe the ESW9 and P5 are not the right ones for me.
     

  • Reply February 17, 2012

    Matthew King

    Mike,
    What is your experience with lifespan on headphones?  I have a pair of Sennheiser HD595’s from about 2004 that seem to be getting a little “muddier” as they age.  I use them at work so they easily see 30+ hours a week – so I’m guessing around 10,000 hours so far on them.  Any thoughts as to how many hours of life to expect from a set of cans?

    • Reply February 17, 2012

      Mike

      Matthew,
      The drivers should not degrade with age, but pads age affect the sound very much.

  • Reply February 17, 2012

    skyline315

    Any chance the ibasso D7 is on your review to do list?

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Skyline, 
      Unfortunately no. 

  • Reply February 17, 2012

    Vuk

    Hi, I recently bought the Ultrasone pro900s and Im looking for a portable amplifier. Could you recommend me something in the range of 100-300? Thank you.

  • Reply February 17, 2012

    rizviz

    plz do a review on qls qa 350 mod v2 . . .  thanks in advance

  • Reply February 18, 2012

    rustiandra

    Hi Mike, 
    im considering to buy fiio e17 based on your review. do u have any recommendation for any iPod line out cable that i should use if it is a necessary upgrade to the sound, o r the fiio line out will work just fine. thanks a lot Mike! 

    • Reply February 18, 2012

      Mike

      The Fiio one should work just fine.

  • Reply February 18, 2012

    Mohammad Umair

    Hi Mike,
    i’m going to buy a new headphone, and i love the sound sig of Sennheiser HD202-II. But i’m looking for the higher-end and of course the better one (still under 100$). do you have any recommendation ? Thanks.

    • Reply February 18, 2012

      Mike

      Mohammad,
      I would recommend an amp instead. Have you tried the HD202 with an amp? It’s hard to find a sub $100 headphone with a similar sound to the HD202.

      • Reply February 19, 2012

        Mohammad Umair

        no, i haven’t tried the HD202 with amp. hmm, what if the sub 200$ headphones ? it’s ok for a few bucks more. i also love the ATH M50 sound, but i think the bass is a bit boomy.
        thanks anyway

        • Reply February 20, 2012

          Mike

          For $200 you can give the HD558 a try.

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Vuk

    Hey Mike, Im looking at buying either the Sennheiser HD650 or the Hifiman he-500. Which one would you recommend? Ill be driving them with a ipod classic and headstage arrow amp.

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Mike

      Vuk,
      The HD650 should be easier to drive with the Arrow.

  • Reply February 21, 2012

    Justin Gregoire

    Hey Mike, I have a pair of HD598s and I already have a cmoy amp that I use with my macbook pro. I’m wondering what you think I should upgrade my DAC to? I was thinking the MS2. Any thoughts? Also some other headphones I have that I’m using is a pair of grado sr80s and KRK KNS6400.

    • Reply February 21, 2012

      Mike

      Yes the MS2 should be a good upgrade to go for, Justin.

  • Reply February 21, 2012

    john oh

    Mike,

    I just sold my HRT MSII+, is my asgard now useless? i only have a laptop and ipod as a source.

    Thanks,

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Mike

      John, 

      Well you can hook up the Laptop or the Ipod directly to the Asgard. 

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Mike

      John, 

      Well you can hook up the Laptop or the Ipod directly to the Asgard. 

      • Reply February 22, 2012

        WaKKa

        would that just be double amping? which i thought was bad.

        • Reply February 22, 2012

          Mike

          Yes, that’s right it’s double amping. 

          It’s not ideal, but it’s better than having the amplifier sitting around not doing anything. 

  • Reply February 21, 2012

    Adrian Lee

    Hi
    I’m looking at the audio technica AD-700 and the Fischer Audio FA-003
    Anyways the AD700 are $145 from an authorised reseller 
    and the FA-003 are $190 from an authoriser reseller (and the only place selling in australia)
    If i get the audio technicas i will most likely get a portable headphone amp to get the best sound out of ’em while with the FA-003, I’d be even lucky to get one in the future-might be some months before i could consider getting one for the headphones (looking at the fiio e11)
    So my questions is, should i get the audio technica headphones with an amp, or
    get the FA-003, wait it out for a few months, then get the headphone amp.
    Essentially to break my question down further
    Will the audio technica AD700s sound better amped than the Fischer Audio FA-003 will unamped (will an amp boost really be noticable in these headphones?). I’m willing to go all the way for these headphones as they’ll be my 1st proper headphones other than my Beats studios (which i learnt from 1st hand experience were terrible when it came to sound reproduction while i was watching some of my ps3 gameplay on youtube checking quality). I signed up straight away after deciding i was getting new headphones and i’d really value your opinion.
    (i know there’s almost nothing on fischer audio on your site, but if you can, could you halp me decide? 😛 )
    thanks

  • Reply February 21, 2012

    asd qwe

    Hey just saw on you’re Twitter that the Bottlehead Crack is shipping. ETA?

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      L.

       If only we knew… Bottlehead has gone silent again 🙁

      • Reply February 22, 2012

        john oh

        noo………..

        • Reply February 22, 2012

          Mike

          Yes they are not very responsive

      • Reply February 22, 2012

        asd qwe

        AAAAARGGGGGGGHHHH! WHY?!?! WHY!!??! The review I’ve been looking forward to more than anything else!!

        • Reply February 22, 2012

          Mike

          Yea we’re really eager to do the review too, but just have to wait.. we like the concept so much we decided to get two. One for L and one for me. 

  • Reply February 22, 2012

    Vuk

    Hey Mike, sorry to bug you again but I need help choosing between the HD650 and the HE-500. I know you said the hd650 will be driven better through the Arrow amp but I was really leaning towards the hifiman he-500. But if you think the arrow wouldnt do the he-500 any justice I guess I will just go with the hd650. Thanks again.

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Mike

      The HE-500 is very nice, are you sure you are really stuck with the Arrow? I mean it’s a big headphone, and there is no point in a slim amp like the Arrow since the headphone is going to be very bulky.

      • Reply February 22, 2012

        Vuk

        Ya unfortunately I am : I share a room so im basically limited to a portable setup otherwise I would have bought a desktop amp a long time ago lol. 

        The reason I wanted the he-500 is because I already have a basshead can (proo700 mk2) now im looking for something that is more laid back with lots of clarity so i’ve narrowed it down to the hd650 and he-500. People have said the hd650 pairs well with the arrow but I was leaning more towards the he-500 especially since its low impedance. With that being said I guess im asking which one would sound better through a portable setup?

        • Reply February 22, 2012

          Mike

          mmmmmmm both are mainly desktop set ups. 

          I really can’t say. The HD650 I suppose runs better from a portable set up. I have good results with it and the JDSLabs Cmoy. Didn’t really like it with Headstage. Lacks space in the sound. 

  • Reply February 22, 2012

    WaKKa

     Hey mike,

    what would be a good DAC upgrade coming from the MSII+ with a similar sound sig. i guess the obvious would be the PRO version but I was just wondering.

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Mike

      Hmmm I really haven’t found something similar but at a higher level. Perhaps yes the PRO version.

  • Reply February 22, 2012

    Manji group

    Mike, i’ve been listening with Dacport LX for a while and somehow i’ve noticed that there’s a small peak on the vocal, that I bugs me, also somehow it sounds a bit dry for me (i’m pairing it with solo SRG II and HD 650), do you think the HRT MSII+ might be the solution? I’ve tried changing the dac with audinst (headphone out-connector 3.5 to 2RCA-solo SRG II), i like how it sounds but kinda miss the clarity on the LX, though it doesn’t sound as dry as LX which is much better for me, do you think the MSII+ will give me what i need? I think I want the same clarity but not as dry as the LX.

    THanks,
    Sorry i know it’s a long one.

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Mike

      Generally, specific issues like that I would attribute more to the individual recordings. Changing to a different DAC may lessen the issue but usually I choose my DAC from the overall sound signature, not as a cure of specific issues.

  • Reply February 22, 2012

    謝文翊

    Hi,

    I’ve been reading your reviews and I like them a lot.
    I am looking for a headphone for symphonies and currently using dt880/600 with Lyr(Amperex A frame) and a 100 dollar Audiotrack soundcard.
    That works fine with chamber music and vocals but not so well with larger works.Sometimes I feel that dt880 fails conveying the passion of the music.I will get bifrost when it’s available here.
    I am thinking about HD600, HD650 and HE500, or save up for HD700, T1.Can you give me some advise on that matter?
    Thanks~

    Hsieh, Wen-Yi

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Mike

      Hi,
      I still think that the HD650 is the best headphone for larger symphony works. The Beyer is spacious but strongly lacks impact especially on loud symphony passages. In that sense the HD650 is better than the HE-500 and the T1 (and I suspect the HD700 as well though I have yet to hear the HD700).

      • Reply February 22, 2012

        謝文翊

        Thanks Mike,

        I would give HD650 a try.
        Looking forward to your new reviews.

  • Reply February 23, 2012

    Dietmar Gsell

    First of all,thank you for your fantastic site which gives me valuable information and also the inspiration to push things higher.Still,can’t make up my mind for a headphone amp to go with Sennheiser’s HD650.I am looking for 3D soundstage,ambiance and clarity.
    Have ordered the O2 but also think about getting a Violectric 200.Had the Little Dot MkIII and did love the tube sound which sadly was inconsistent(days where I had a 3D tube sound and other days where everything was just FLAT!)

    Any ideas?Please let me know.Thanks,Dietmar

    • Reply February 23, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Dietmar,
      So you are looking for an amp to improve the HD650 sound stage? I’ve never listened to the LD Mk3 or the Violectric (Lieven did that review), but usually the tube amps have an edge to the solid state when it comes to soundstage reproduction.
      Perhaps Lieven can help share some thoughts as he also owns an HD650 and a La Figaro tube amp.

      • Reply February 23, 2012

        L.

         L to the rescue 😉 . The HD650 weren’t bad at all with the Violectric, but as Mike says the Sennheisers really like tubes. No offence, but the LDIII isn’t a top tube amp and I’m convinced you will love the HD650 using an otl tube amp like the WA3, Crack or my Lafigaro 339. Me and all my friends think the HD650 sounds best on that OTL tube amp. It’s simply gorgeous and it shows why the 650 still is a world class headphone. And like Mike has said so many times before, the better the tube amp, the better the Senns.

  • Reply February 23, 2012

    David Ulrich

    First, great call on the HD 202.  For the 19 dollars I got them for, it is an amazing deal.  Second, I wish you weren’t right about how the JDSlabs Cmoy is surprisingly good at exposing source limitations as I never noticed the congested mids of my Ipod so clearly before.  Anyway, my ultimate (modest) goal is to pair a HRT ms2 with a Schiit Asgard (unless you know of something better for the price).  I was going to get a pair of Grado’s to deal with my rock headphone needs, but my real love is classical.  You said that the HD598 pairs very well with the asgard.  Would they bring Shostakovich and Saint-Saens to life?

    Thank you very much for this site and actually taking time to answer people’s questions.  As most of us can’t just walk down to the store and test this equipment out for ourselves, you website is irreplaceable.

    • Reply February 27, 2012

      Mike

      Hi David, 

      Yes the JDSLabs Cmoy is quite transparent especially on the mids. It occurred to me the other day that it probably has the shortest signal path of any amplifiers which may explain the transparency. 

      I still stand by my HRT MS2 and Asgard recommendation. The HD598, however, doesn’t quite have the bass slam for big symphony pieces. So it depends on the type of composition you listen to. I’d recommend the HD600 or the HD650 (depending on your budget) if you listen to big symphonies. 

      You’re welcome, David. 

  • Reply February 25, 2012

    Timothy

    Dear Mike
    I have been reading your articles and really changed my poin of view… thanks to you i now have a better understanding in Hifi stuff.
    but I still need your opinion regarding things i need to buy. as what I need is mostly to practice on my bass guitar silently, listen music from my iphone 4s.
    and I already have shure se535 for my daily use.
    and now i’m searching for a practice headphone that can give deep, low clarity sound of my bass, without a distortion when i slap or picking it.
    i like to hear and play my bass in these genre: pop, rock, funk, a bit of jazz

    still confused with what should I choses to buy I narrowed it down to some from your articles;
    headphone:  HIFIMAN HE-500, sennheiser HD650
    amp              :  fiio e11 , ibasso pb-1 (ready on near store)

    please help me with this matter.. if you have another recommendation please just tell. dont want to get overpriced nor doesnt find my expectation.

    thank you

    • Reply February 27, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry for missing this out, but this is the same reply I posted on the PB-2 comment section:

      Tim,I’m probably not the best guy to answer this, but if you have a guitar store in your town, it’ll be best for you to stop by and test them out. Personally on the top of my head I’m thinking of monitoring headphones like the Shure SRH-940 or the Beyer DT770.

  • Reply February 26, 2012

    David Ulrich

    Actually, you mention that with a warm amp, the superlux 668b is a solid headphone, and that it is the best of the superlux for classical.  By that thought, a HRT MS2, JDSCmoy and a 668b would make a very good setup for classical on a low budget.  Do you concur?
    Thanks

    • Reply February 27, 2012

      Mike

      I think it would be very good, but I still think that the HD660 would be better. 

      • Reply February 27, 2012

        David Ulrich

        660 a good headphone for classical on a budget.  Good to know.

        • Reply February 27, 2012

          Mike

          Yes, a little reverb which is to be expected from a closed headphone, but otherwise it’s nice. Pretty accurate soundstage image too.

          • Reply March 5, 2012

            David Ulrich

             Do you think the more open, and laid back 330 might be the better yet for classical?  And how would the new superlux’s compare to the Goldring dr150?  I like the great genre bandwidth of my HD202, but I would like to snag something with more detail and clarity.

            • Reply March 5, 2012

              Mike

              Hi David,
              The 330 doesn’t really feel a lot more open than the 660. I’d personally still take the 660 over the 330/440. It’s just got a more convincing bass impact and a much better quality bass than the other two. In comparison to the Goldring, the DR150 is more laid back and again have a more Senn like signature, the 660 is a more straightforward uncolored sound. I think you should give the 660 a try. It would definitely give you more detail and clarity.

  • Reply February 26, 2012

    James Chuong

    Hi Mike,

    I’ve been really itching to upgrade from my AD700’s to Q701’s but I’m having trouble picking a DAC and amp.  Right now I am using a laptop (USB out only) and a Cowon J3, so I was wondering what a good option would be for the Q701’s?  I have gotten a lot of recommendations between MusicStreamer II, Audio-DG Sparrow, etc but I am having a hard time justifying spending about the same amount on the amp as the headphones.

    I read a bit and it seems like it would be common for the amp to be fairly expensive but I am content with ‘middle-fi’ rather than spending a huge amount for the best quality.  What do you suggest?

    • Reply February 27, 2012

      Mike

      Hi James,
      Based on my experience with the K701, I think what you need is an amplifier that boost up the bass. Other than that you don’t really need a terribly high end amplifier for it. Personally I think the AD900 is a better headphone than the K701, but that’s just me. 🙂

  • Reply February 26, 2012

    Jeremy Buchanan

    Hi Mike. I know you are prive to industry info before we are;) What have you heard about the new Hifiman MH-802? Same PCM1704 chip? internal memory?  will it have amp modules you can change?  Thanks as always

    • Reply February 27, 2012

      Jeremy Buchanan

       I meant HM-802;)

      • Reply February 27, 2012

        Mike

        I didn’t even catch the mispell the first time. 😉

    • Reply February 27, 2012

      Mike

      Jeremy,
      I heard that there is a prototype, but nothing more than that. Certainly is interesting. I will send them an email and see if I can get any information on it. 🙂

      • Reply February 27, 2012

        AnAudiophile

        They didn’t want to make a comment about it when I emailed them.. tell us how you go!

  • Reply February 27, 2012

    Salvatore Buscemi

    Mike: appreciate the blog very much. I have a newer pair of PS500s that I use with both a Triad L3 and an ALO V2 Continental/ AlgoRhythym Solo package.

    At first the sound was great, but then a clapping sound started to show up this week -with both amps and I’m wondering if I blew out the phones before breaking them in.

    Note: without the amps, the PS500s sound fine.
    My question is: are these ruined and what is the appropriate break-in period for these. How would you suggest I treat a new pair, albeit not as aggressively…

    Thanks,
    Sal

  • Reply February 29, 2012

    Florian GERARD

    when will you guys release the CRACK review? Did you get it? I’m quite interesting pairing with my HD650’s.

    • Reply February 29, 2012

      L.

       We still have no single news about the estimated shipping date… Horrible

  • Reply February 29, 2012

    Denton Chen

    Hello Mike,

    I am about to get my first ever amp, would you recommend the OPA2227 over both the AD8620/OPA627 for the ER4S? I would like to ‘balance out’ the sound as much as possible! 

    • Reply February 29, 2012

      Mike

      What amp is this for?

      I think the OPA2227 is better than the AD8620/OPA627 for the ER4 and especially the S.

      • Reply March 4, 2012

        Denton Chen

        Thanks for the reply mike!! the amp is for my portable rig set up, cowon J3 –> c421 –>ER4S. 

        • Reply March 5, 2012

          Mike

          Let me know how you like it!

  • Reply February 29, 2012

    rustiandra

    Dear awesome guys (Mike or L), 
    I’ve seen you using C421 for your reviews. is there any writing about this amp? would recommend it? thanks guys and God Bless 🙂

    • Reply February 29, 2012

      Mike

      Yes we are writing a review on it. It’s an awesome amp, but I’m still waiting for the final enclosure of the C421 before writing the review.

      • Reply March 1, 2012

        rustiandra

        can’t wait to read it! how’s the c421 compared to o2 if  I’m just looking for a portable amp for a companion to my iPod? don’t worry, I’m looking forward to buy clas also 😛 is it the o2 is not really a portable one? anyway, I’m open for any other amp recommendation. thanks guys!

  • Reply February 29, 2012

    Edward Cheung

    Opinions needed: Been seeing all the raving reviews on the Denon AH D7000s and here in Hong Kong saw TWO stores with ridiculous deals on a pair.
    My question is that I am not a bass-head and not really looking for bass in my headphones, I listen more to latin jazz, afro-cuban percussion and salsa / big band latin music….with the occasional chart music / classical tunes. Would it be worth getting these headphones otherwise?
    (I posted this on FB and got “scolding” from L) 😛

    • Reply March 3, 2012

      Mike

      Yea I don’t know. I haven’t heard the D7000, only up to the D5000 and I really think it was just okay. 

  • Reply March 2, 2012

    Matthew King

    Do you guys know of anywhere in the US Midwest to try out some of the higher end cans?  You can only read so many recommendations before needing to try them out in person.

    • Reply March 2, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry, I have no idea. Perhaps try to find a Head-Fi (www.head-fi.org) meet in Chicago? That’d give you an opportunity to listen to some high end cans.

      • Reply March 2, 2012

        Matthew King

         Thanks for the reply.  I checked Head-Fi and it looks like there are few people trying to organize get-togethers in my area.

  • Reply March 2, 2012

    Wunderbar7

    Recently bought a new set of Superlux HD660.
    Overall it sounds good but I hear a bit of “bhrpp bhrpp” sounds coming from the right can when the bass is a bit louder.
    Is this normal because it’s still burning in or does this show a manufacturing defect?

    Thanks.

    • Reply March 2, 2012

      Mike

      That sounds like a problem.. And no, I don’t think it’s a burn in issue. 

  • Reply March 2, 2012

    Rūdolfs Putniņš

    Hey, Mike!

    Have you got any experience with the Yulong D100 DAC/AMP? I am mainly looking at the DAC section because I plan to build an amp myself in the near future. The amplifier section will only be used until I get my building done. Headphone wise I plan to mainly use it with a HD650.

    What I’m looking for in a DAC is basically a highly technical and neutral signature. I’ll leave the musicality for amplifiers and headphones. So yeah, that D100 seems like a reasonably priced future proof option. As an other option I might consider building a Opus DAC or a COD DAC from Twisted Pear but it seems that parts are not too easy to come by.

    If you’ll ask what music I plan to listen to then… It’ll just get more complicated. I listen to everything.

    Thanks and good luck!

  • Reply March 2, 2012

    Pickcick

    Hi Mike, what will be the difference in respect of sound quality of say $5 LOD with the one that has $200 tag on it?

  • Reply March 3, 2012

    AnAudiophile

    Hello,

    How does the Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10 compare to full-sized headphones? DT880 / DT770 / K 701 / HD650 and the like…

    • Reply March 5, 2012

      Mike

      You’ve gotta be kidding me!

      • Reply March 5, 2012

        AnAudiophile

        I’m serious. 😛 Using a portable amp, though, not a desktop. 

        I’m asking this because I’m moving away from full-size headphones, and moving to IEMs.

  • Reply March 4, 2012

    Vladislav Ivanovich

    Mike, I have a question. I’m the owner of Cowon J3 player, as we all know there is no line-out, but in the future I really want to come with good headphones like Ultrasone 900 or Westone 4R.  Is there a sense of using cowon’s jack 1/8 to connect the amplifier (well, I really want to hear something like JA – AHA 120 for U900 pro or RS Shadow for W4R), I’ve read lots of threads, but people have different views, I believe it is still the question: “how good is jack’s implementation”? Does J3 have enough power to drive W4R with all possible potential (witout using an external amp)? The main question is – what are the cons in my case with ext. amp+ player’s jack?

    • Reply March 5, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Vladislav,
      I’ve listened to the Westone 4 (not R) and I don’t think it needs an amplifier. The Ultrasone would definitely benefit from an amp though.
      The downside from connecting an amp from the headphone out is that the signal is not going to be as pure as if from a line-out (but in this case, there isn’t any line out). But you’d still get the benefits of having more power to drive the Ultrasone thus improving bass impact and dynamics.

  • Reply March 4, 2012

    Hagos Rush

    Hello, wonderful site. I stumbled upon it by accident and have fallen in love. I am now looking forward to the E17 debut. My question, have you had any experience with the Focal Spirit One or the Klipsch M40? I get a decent discount for both of these (work) and am wondering which would be the better purchase. I have klipch bookshelf speakers but have never listened to their cans. Never could afford to even look at focal speakers.

    • Reply March 5, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Hagos,
      Sorry no experience with them. 🙁 Hope you’ll find the site useful. 🙂

  • Reply March 5, 2012

    2 Twinster

    Hey Mike, I know you are already very busy with the HD700 but when can we expect a review of the Fidelio 1 ?

    • Reply March 5, 2012

      Mike

      I wanted to publish them last week but didn’t have the time to do it. Should be up this week.

  • Reply March 5, 2012

    rustiandra

    helo Mike! so sorry to bother u with the same topic, coz i know you’re still writing about the C421, but my problem is my friend’s gonna be at US next week so i see it as a window of opportunity to buy amp like c421 if u know what i mean 😛 so i need your humble final opinion about c421 and 02,  which one should i choose 1st as i know both are very good amps. thank you mike! 

  • Reply March 5, 2012

    John123John

    I forgot to ask,

    When do you decide to publish a review on Headfonia as opposed to writing a small one on facebook?

    • Reply March 5, 2012

      Mike

      John,
      Generally, a Headfonia review is more complete but takes more time to do. On facebook it’s more casual, just brief impressions. The reviews on Headfonia should be the more definite reference, but sometimes we just want to do a quick impression and we’ll do it on Facebook.
      For instance:
      HE-400: People were pressing me for an impression so I posted one on Facebook. The final article on Headfonia is a lot longer and more comprehensive. JDSLabs C421: Again people were asking for an impression, but I can’t publish the final review yet cause I’m still waiting for a final enclosure from JDSLabs for the photos, and I’m also planning to do a double review (me and Lieven) which means I need to send him one amp which takes time. So, impressions on Facebook, with a review planned for Headfonia.
      Sometimes I have a few days to play around with something, but I don’t really plan to do a full review maybe because of time constraints, so I’ll just publish a short impression on Facebook (like my Vmoda M-80 impressions).
      I hope this model of publishing on two different sites doesn’t confuse you.
      I think Facebook is primarily for the more regular Headfonia readers. We have more updates there, the tone is more relaxed, we make jokes and such. The main site still has the priority in terms of depth and coverage, and the one that most people would read.

      • Reply March 7, 2012

        John123John

        nono its not confusing, i was just curious and what you said makes alot of sense.
        another question,
        Is the facebook mini reviews easily accessible? like once it gets too far down the feed, is there a way i can still read them? actually i see some reviews in the notes but are those all of the review on facebook?
        Thannks

        • Reply March 7, 2012

          Mike

          Yes, the reviews on Facebook are all on the Notes section. We haven’t done that many Facebook reviews.. Sometimes on news feed I would post short comments — just like the comments section here, but that’s about it.

        • Reply March 16, 2012

          L.

           It’s in the Notes section John, that’s the only place

  • Reply March 5, 2012

    David Ulrich

    How does the O2 compare to the Schiit Asgard?  144 dollars is a very appealing price.  I have heard nothing but great things about the Asgard,so I have no problem saving up a bit more for it, if it is still the better choice.

  • Reply March 5, 2012

    Robert Stern

    Hi Mike,

    in regards to genre, which headphones would you look at for primarily techno,house.   price not being a factor.  Would you have a clear favorite?

  • Reply March 6, 2012

    Florian GERARD

    Hi Mike & Lieven !
    Thanks to your reviews i’m waiting for my LAFIGARO 339 amp and since i also like the DIY i tried the BRAVO V2 amp that you reviewed in one article! it is just awsome for the price like 59$ the amp and i done the mods to get it work better:
    change input cap with nichicon fine gold
    change the output caps
    change the tube heater to dedicated power supply
    crosstalk mods
    bias pot for manual setting
    change LM317’s
    change the MOSFET
    change the heatsinks…

    And this is a new amp ! just amazing how it soundsssssss and i’m build a dedicated linear power supply to get an even better sound than with the SMPS power supply. I would like you to review it just to see the difference with the stock one. I’ll even mod it tomorrow buy changing the classA biasing current….

    I have a question, do you know any other amp that can be mods or DIY kits???? like with 6SN7 tubes, 300B tubes….?? As i now have this 12AU7 based amp, the little dot MKIII (8100 mullards tubes) and soon the LF339 ?! i already saw a test between the crack and the LD MKIII and they aren’t really differents….So another thing than bottlehead…And not to expensive 😉

    thanks for your help and keep doing so great reviews

    • Reply March 6, 2012

      L.

       Hi Florian, let me know what you think of the 339, don’t forget to try different tubes as the stock ones 😉 Are you sure the Crack doesn’t beat the LD mkIII? that kind of surprises me, where did you read that? Mike’s the expert on building stuff, hope he can help you 🙂

      • Reply March 7, 2012

        Florian GERARD

        yes the crack beats the LD MKIII over the soundstage and highs but for the bass the LD MKIII is better….the review say that overall perfs are better on the crack but not really this different! So as i’m owning a LD MKIII i would like to change for something much different…Like the LAFIGARO 339 which seems quite good pairing for HD650s….as you said 😉 lets see…..

    • Reply March 7, 2012

      Mike

      Florian, 
      You changed a lot of stuff there. It would be odd if the amp doesn’t come out sounding like a new one!

      So what is your current question? You want to build a new amp based on 6SN7 or 300B? 

      • Reply March 7, 2012

        Florian GERARD

        yes exactily !  it was quite fun to “unbuild” and mod the BRAVO V2 amp and i definitely want to repeat the thing with DIY kits, or others tube amp based on a new tube that i don’t use to listen. For now i have test the BRAVO with 12AU7 (ECC88), the little dot MKIII with 5654 (MULLARD 8100, 8161) as there is a dip switch for EF92 or EF95…So trying a new tube amp with 300B, 6SN7 or others could be quite interesting….but i don’t find really good website to help me with schematics and drawings…I have you any suggestions??? something you have listen from friends???

  • Reply March 6, 2012

    rustiandra

    Another nubie question. i’ve been using ipod classic and soon will get the c421 i’ve just order. i’ve been using HD25adidas for now. im considering to safe up for a new dap (maybe hm602), CLAS, or new cans. i need your opinion on which should comes 1st, please tell me should u have another suggestion. thanks a lot, Mike 🙂

    ps: i listen to so many genre. fan-till-dead of Queen, love Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson, RATM, Horowitz, Yo yo ma, Bobby Mcferrin, etc. from classical to Punk, no heavy metal or Heavy house music. my dream is to collect every cans that will fulfill all of those appetite as rule #3 😛

    • Reply March 7, 2012

      Mike

      Do you want to keep the Ipod, or move on to a new UI?

      Both the HM-602 and the CLAS based set ups are superb. HM-602 is lighter in weight and more compact, the CLAS based set up would be bigger and heavier, but you get to keep the Ipod’s superior UI and 160GB of storage.

    • Reply March 7, 2012

      Mike

      Oh and since you’ll need to add an additional amp with the CLAS, you’ll probably end up with a much more powerful amp section than if you go the HM-602 route.

      • Reply March 7, 2012

        rustiandra

        Thanks for your reply, Mike!

        i actually have the 120gb one, same as yours? So from the sound/musicality perspective the CLAS based set ups (mine will be ipod+CLAS+C421)  is more superior than a single HM-602 straight to my headphone? Cause for me its more of a problem which should come first (budget constraint), as I have  a lot of curiosity in any great product that would make me buy the hm-602 eventually. well, it’s  a part of the journey, innit? 🙂

        • Reply March 8, 2012

          Mike

          Well the weak spot on the HM-602 is on the built in amp, so yes the CLAS stack is probably going to have a better amp in it. As far as source quality, the two are quite different in character. The HM-602 is warmer and more analog sounding. The CLAS are cleaner, bigger, blacker background and better instrument separation and bass.

          • Reply March 8, 2012

            rustiandra

            yes, the analog sounding is indeed very nice to hear. would u agree with me if instead of buying CLAS i upgrade it with HP-P1 as it has the better dac considering i also use hd25 in the meantime?

            • Reply March 9, 2012

              Mike

              Lately I’ve re-evaluated both the CLAS and the HP-P1, and I won’t say that the HP-P1 has a better DAC, but it is nicer as it has a built in amp.

          • Reply March 9, 2012

            rustiandra

            OK last question Mike, promise. how’s the built-in amp inside HP-P1 compares to c421? to make it simple:  iPod+CLAS+c421  vs  iPod+HP-P1.

            • Reply March 9, 2012

              Mike

              Okay last question. Any further questions from this point will be charged $0.50/answer. 😉

              The C421 is still better.

  • Reply March 6, 2012

    Matthew King

    Guys, I posted this to the note on Facebook, but there’s about 50 responses, so I thought I’d post here for more thorough feedback.

    I’m looking to move up the headphone ladder and get some mid-level full-size cans.  I currently have Beyerdynamic T50p’s and love the sound, but there are several limiting factors – thin on bass (although what is there is crystal clear), on-ear style makes seal difficult (as noted by Mike previously), nearly all-metal construction makes for quite a bit of noise unless you’re sitting perfectly still.  When all factors are working together the sound is great, I just feel a little more power and size would improve the listening experience.

    I”m looking in the $500 – $700 range and I think I’ve narrowed the short-list down to three choices – Beyerdynamic T70 (250 Ohms version), AKG-702 (possibly with ALO re-cable), or Grado RS-1i.  I listen nearly all types of music and I fully understand that one headphone won’t fit all genres.  Eventually I’ll be able to add more to my arsenal but am looking for a good set to start with.  For amping, I currently have a JDSL CmoyBB, Headroom BitHead and HiFi Man EF-2A (sent back for repairs – another story altogether).  I’m not opposed to upgrading amps as well (possibly O2), but would like to keep the whole purchase under $800.

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!  Thanks! -Matt

    • Reply March 7, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Matthew,
      I’m really inclined to recommend you the T1 as I have a feeling you’ll like it. The T70, I don’t know, I haven’t heard it. Out of the three that you have listed, I would go with the Grado without a doubt. The RS1 has always been superb and it still is a highly musical machine even with all the new headphones being released.
      What’s surprising is that I happen to have a T1 around and I just tried it with a standard build JDSLabs CmoyBB and it drives the T1 just fine!

      • Reply March 7, 2012

        Matthew King

         Mike,
        Thanks for the reply!  I would absolutely love to move up to the T1, but just can’t spend the money right now.  Is there a higher impedance version of the RS-1i?  HeadRoom doesn’t have it in their list, but they also didn’t have the T70 listed, just the T70p.  Also, how is the noise-leakage on the RS-1i?  I work in a small and fairly quiet office so I don’t mind noise leaking IN, but don’t want to disturb my co-workers with sound leaking OUT.
        Thanks again!

        • Reply March 7, 2012

          Matthew King

           A little searching yielded that the RS-1i is the current model.  No reviews that I saw mentioned sound leakage as a problem so I’m going to assume it shouldn’t be a problem.  Thanks!

          • Reply March 8, 2012

            Mike

            Matthew,
            Sound leakage is going to be a problem with any of the Grados. Perhaps the reviews just happen to not mention it.

          • Reply March 9, 2012

            Matthew King

             Mike,
            Yeah, I tried out a co-worker’s SR-60’s last night and noticed that there is a decent amount of leakage.  Going to have to sleep on it a bit more.  Thanks for the reply!

            • Reply March 9, 2012

              Mike

              No problem, Matthew.

        • Reply March 8, 2012

          Mike

          Hi Matthew,
          No the RS1i only comes in one impedance version, although the 32 ohms shouldn’t be too hard to drive. The other thing about it is that it leaks sound big time! Ufff..

  • Reply March 6, 2012

    Fauaad Anees

    I need headphones for mainly movie watching. My budget is around 50 usd but I can go slightly higher if need be. Can you please suggest me something? I will be getting them from amazon so I’m limited to whats available there. I’d prefer headphones which don’t need an amp and I’m not too concerned about them being open/closed or portable.

    Thanks!

    • Reply March 6, 2012

      L.

       Have you checked out our recommendations? http://www.headfonia.com/full-size-headphone-recommendations/

      Senn HD202, for your price class

      Enjoy!

      • Reply March 7, 2012

        Fauaad Anees

        I was looking for something better than that. What about jvcs or superluxes?

        • Reply March 7, 2012

          David Ulrich

           I bought the HD202 and the HD518 together.  The 518 for more series listening and the 202 for my ipod.  I ended up returning the 518 and keeping the 202, because, while I can appreciate the 518 as the technically superior headphone, it wasn’t nearly as musical or as fun to listen to as the 202.  The 202 also plays well with all music genres and worked well from a portable DVD player.  Don’t let the cheap price tag fool you.  They are a nice pair of headphones.

          • Reply March 7, 2012

            Fauaad Anees

            Yea, I’m not doubting their sound quality, but its their comfort and durability that has me worried. A friend of mine used to have them, they didn’t last for very long. Plus quite a few reviews have this complaint.

            • Reply March 7, 2012

              Mike

              The HD202 is pretty tough. A lot of my friends have one and I’ve yet to see one break.
              It’s just a good fun musical headphone.

          • Reply March 7, 2012

            Dave McBride

            Agreed on the HD202. My wife got them for about 20.oo and my teenager, who is NOT gentle, loves them for computer use. And they have lasted over a year in her tough hands

          • Reply March 7, 2012

            Fauaad Anees

            Oh, well, seeing as thats the general consensus, I’ll give them a shot. Thanks for the advice everyone. Really appreciated.

        • Reply March 7, 2012

          Mike

          I would lean more toward the JVC than the Superlux for movies (at least the Superlux models they have on Amazon).
          The JVC HARX700 has a nice big sound with warm tonality, laid back and good bass. Should make for a good movie headphone. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0013OWPV4/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=headfonia-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0013OWPV4

          • Reply March 7, 2012

            Fauaad Anees

            So should I go for the hd202 or rx700 then?

            • Reply March 8, 2012

              Mike

              Both are good headphones, the HD202 is cheaper. The RX700 is a higher up headphone.

      • Reply March 7, 2012

        Mike

        Good recommendation from L.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    Dave McBride

    Mike,

    have you heard anything about Blue Ever Blue earphones? Supposed to be HDSS 3D technolgy; wondering how they sound?
    Thanks!

    • Reply March 7, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry Dave, never heard of it.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    dekun lei

    Hi, I am interested in an open back headphone, I’m interested in the AKG Q701, Sennheiser HD600 and HD598, and my budget is $300. Can the HD600 be driven by the Fiio E17? Or should I get a better portable amp? The music I listen to is R&B, Alternative Rock, Pop, and Vocal. Comfort is a big factor, especially the headband needs to be well padded. Which headphone do you recommend? Or is there better choice that fits by budget? Oh and I don’t mind getting the headphone used. Thanks.

    • Reply March 7, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Dekun,
      Between the three headphones you are considering, I’d suggest you read these reviews to get a more comprehensive answer:
      K701 and HD600/650: http://www.headfonia.com/old-school-trio-akg-k701-beyer-dt880-sennheiser-hd650/ The HD600: http://www.headfonia.com/the-sennheiser-trio-hd580-hd600-hd650/ HD598 and HD600: http://www.headfonia.com/old-and-new-hd555-hd558-hd598/
      Both the HD600 and HD598 can be driven by the E17 with sufficient power. I’ve never tried the K701 with the E17 but based on the HD600 and HD598, I think it shouldn’t be a problem with the Fiio.

      • Reply March 7, 2012

        dekun lei

        Thanks Mike. From what I gather from the reviews, I ruled out the K701 since the lack of bass doesn’t seem to go well with my genre. That leaves the two sennheisers. I’m a bit cautious about the HD600 though, since it requires good amplification to sound good. I guess the more pressing matter is my choice of amplification, will the Fiio E17 do the HD600 justice? And between the HD600 and HD598, which one sound better on the Fiio E17? (sorry about all the questions, I almost feel like I’m interrogating someone)

        Thanks. 

        • Reply March 8, 2012

          Mike

          Well good thing today is that we have powerful amp at cheap prices and the E17 does have more than enough power to drive the HD600 — it’s just not the most refined amp around, but you need to spend more money to get better refinement.
          The HD600 and the HD598 both have a slightly different sound signature, but ultimately the HD600 still belongs to a reference-class headphone while the HD598 is not.

          • Reply March 9, 2012

            dekun lei

            Thanks Mike. Just one more thing, I am starting to listen to more orchestra, will the less amount of bass on the HD598 be problematic for that?

            • Reply March 9, 2012

              Mike

              Ah, yes it would be lacking. HD600 all the way for orchestras.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    Mike

    Good thinking there.

    I’ve never listened to the Bifrost DAC, so I really can’t tell if it’s good but if you’re mainly listening to mainstream recordings I would just recommend the average sub $100 DAC (HRT MS2, Fiio E17, Audinst HUD MX1).
    The headphone part will still matter, because an open back headphone would still sound more natural even with studio recorded music, and it’s also important to get the other things like the bass/mid/treble balance right.
    On the amplifier part, what you need to look for is a warm colored amp since that would work better for these mainstream recordings. Some amps are more straightforward and they’ll just let you hear all the bad things about these recordings.
    So in a way, yes you’ve got your points right, but on the other hand, just because you’re listening to compressed recordings don’t mean that better headphones and amps won’t make a difference.
    Still if what you want is to stick with a budget, a simple set up of say a HD600 with a Fiio E10 would still be a musical set up.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    Rob Evans

    Hi Mike, I have just recently gotten into portable Hi Fi headphone audio
    and am still starting to buy gear I want to be practical but do not
    want to sacrifice quality, whats your opinion on e6 vs JDSlabs Cmoy?
    thing is I can buy an e6 here but  the JDSlabs CMoy I have to import
    from abroad and will cost me a little bit more with shipping and such.
    So do I just grab the e6 here or spend a bit more on buying a JDSLabs
    Cmoy online. I mainly listen to lots of Post Rock like GY!BE,Mogwai,Toe
    and Jazz/Bebop like Jaco, Miles, Bill Evans etc. and some smattering of
    world music like Buena Vista Social etc. By the way do you think it is
    better if I just buy a QLS QA350 and forget about buying a portable head
    amp and source? I will need to have that imported too by the way,sorry
    so many questions.

  • Reply March 9, 2012

    Laurencewayne

    Mike- any thoughts on Tyll’s HD 800 mod? I am presuming you’ve looked at it. And isn’t it great how you are appreciated.

    • Reply March 9, 2012

      Mike

      I saw it briefly, honestly wasn’t really interested in doing the mod.

      The thing is, I’ve tried lots of lots of modded headphones, and while they improve things in some areas, it also resulted in a reduction in some other areas. And what usually happens is that the headphones would lose their balance and the way it was originally designed to sound.
      I’m not saying that the mods posted by Tyll are bad, but just based on my previous experiences with modding headphones, I always seem to prefer the stock version.

      • Reply March 10, 2012

        Laurencewayne

        I certainly understand your analysis.  That said, how do you reconcile that with the digZoid concept?  Which I purchased strictly on your recommendation and absolutely love.  The difference with my Etys is remarkable-but aren’t I affecting/adjusting the balance and the original design?  Thanks for the great responses.

        • Reply March 10, 2012

          Mike

          Well it’s no sin to try to alter the sound, likewise with the Zo. With a physical mod, people feel that it’s a more purist approach since you’re not altering the signal. The downside is that most of these physical mods are not easy to reverse, some of them even permanent (drilling holes and such) so you can’t go back to the original configuration.

  • Reply March 9, 2012

    Vladislav Ivanovich

    Mike, have y ever heard Ultrasone 2900 pro? Is it true, that thanks to open design those cans perform better over U900 pro, are they more balanced? Some say they are better overall headphones (well, perhaps less bass impact and slam, but that should not be a problem)? And if y tried them, how do they sound with Moon Audio Silver Dragon V3 Cable?

    • Reply March 9, 2012

      Mike

      I’ve only listened to the Pro2900 for like 5 minutes and seriously while it was more open than the Pro900, I really don’t think I should be making comparisons between the two because my experience with them are so limited. 🙂

  • Reply March 9, 2012

    billostler

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve got a bit of a dilemma. I’m looking for USB DAC to use with both active speakers (Swan MK200ii) and low-impedance headphones (Etymotic ER-4P and the Grado SR-60i). For that reason, I’m leaning towards getting a stand-alone DAC (like the HRT MS II or DACport LX) and adding a high-quality amp when I upgrade to some high-impedance headphones.

    Does this sound like a good strategy? Would something like the MS II or DACport LX do a decent job with the ER-4Ps and SR-60s? Or would those phones benefit significantly from a built-in amp, like Audinst HUD-MX1 or Yulong U-100? Any specific recommendations on which models would be best?

    Thanks for the excellent reviews.

    Bill

  • Reply March 9, 2012

    harsyafadilla

    hey mike and lieven,

    have any of you guys ever compared srh440 and px200ii? I know they are different, one is a circum and the other is a supra and obviously different size of driver.. but in terms of overall sound character are there any similarities and do you have an opinion on which one is better for all rounder music listening?.. i like detailed and crisp sound, but I dont mind a little bass but not too much… or do you have any other closed headphone at that price range to recommend?

    thanks,

  • Reply March 10, 2012

    Eshwar Andhavarapu

    hi all!
    So need a bit of help here! I have a Musiland Monitor 01 US portable DAC/AMP but it needs drivers to work. So looking for a driverless option that performs like it. I don’t mind losing the 192kHz capability and move down to 96kHz for that convenience. As far as I know the Musiland has asynchronous (bla bla…) capability and so on. Anything similar with matching sound quality? The ESI Dac Nano? AudioTrak Prodigy Cube?

    • Reply March 10, 2012

      Mike

      Clearly the Esi Dr. Dac Nano supports 24/96: http://www.headfonia.com/esi-dr-dac-nano-entry-level-2496/

      But a lot of the newer entry level USB DACs these days also support 24/96: Fiio’s E10, E17, HRT MS2, HRT Headstreamer, etc.

      • Reply March 10, 2012

        Eshwar Andhavarapu

        I am told the Tenor Te7022 implementations e.g. Prodigy cube, etc don’t match the Musiland Monitor. Is that true?

        • Reply March 12, 2012

          Mike

          Perhaps in the sense that the Musiland supports up to 192kHz over USB, where the Tenor is only limited to 96kHz. However in real world applications, the Tenor is much more practical as you don’t need to install drivers for it to work, and for the majority of us 96kHz is all we need.

          • Reply March 12, 2012

            Eshwar Andhavarapu

            Oh yeah true that! I’ve not found 192kHz audio so far that is to my tastes.. That said, I was wondering about the actual audio quality even upto the 96kHz that they both support. 

            I now am choosing between a JAVS nanoS and nanoV, one has a AKM DAC the other has a Wolfson :)! I see prodigy cube as an option but its a bit steep 🙂

  • Reply March 10, 2012

    Stas Ka

    Hi Make
    Which DAC would be better with IEM  in terms of  details level, soundstage etc? matrix mini i or Fostex HP-A3? Currently I have Matrix mini i. Need your advce to upgrade my setup. 
    Thanks

    • Reply March 10, 2012

      Mike

      I would recommend the HP-A3. I think it’s currently one of the best DACs out there. Superb soundstage, three dimensionality, clean sound. 

  • Reply March 10, 2012

    Chris Allen

    Hey Mike, any possible chance of you doing a Musiland Monitor 03  review in the future?

    • Reply March 10, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Chris, 
      I really don’t have any plans for that. Sorry. 

  • Reply March 10, 2012

    David Ulrich

    Mike, I think you finally convinced me to not got for the hd598 for use with classical music, but to pursue the hd600 or 650 instead.  I will miss the bigger soundstage, but no matter.  Anyway, I have one final two part question for you.  Whatever setup I end up with is likely to be all I have for quite some time, meaning that I wont be constantly upgrading my headphones, dac or amp.  I mention that because you say that to really get the full effect from the hd650, it needs a top of the line amp, which simply isn’t going to happen.  So, my first question is, which would make the better setup.  the Hrt MS2, Schiit Asgard and the hd600, or the Hrt MS2, Schitt Valhalla and the hd650?

    Second, with either of those setups, would it be worth going for the MS2+ over the MS2?  Is the difference really going to be worth it?  I wish I could just head down to my local store and spend the day making the comparison myself (although my wife might like that I can’t as I would actually spend all day going from A to B and then back to A).  Thanks as always.

    • Reply March 12, 2012

      Mike

      Between the Asgard and the Valhalla, I would recommend the Valhalla if you feel the HD650/600 to be too dark, but otherwise I think the Asgard is still the better amp.
      As for the HRT, yes the MS2+ is the better DAC, but is it worth the difference? I don’t know, to me, yes. But perhaps you can take a look at the Centrance Dacport LX instead. I believe it’s cheaper at $299 and you won’t have that MS2 or MS2+ dilemma.

      • Reply March 12, 2012

        David Ulrich

         I went with the MS2.  I have to keep to my budget.  Plus, I can’t imagine that it wont be a huge upgrade over my PC integrated sound card or my Ipod.  I also think I will go with the asgard and the hd600 over the 650.  I like the idea of the balanced frequency response of the 600.

  • Reply March 11, 2012

    Chris King

    Hi Mike
    I’ve been looking for a new set of ‘phones that I can use at the office listening to music stored on the desktop.  The ATH-M50’s seem to fit the bill, then I thought “hey i’ll add a desk top amp too!”  Then I read the review of the FiiO E17 and realised I could take the set up plus my ipod with me on plane trips etc.  So overall this set up really appeals to me.  I can then still use the UE-700’s for round town etc.I’ve also always like the idea of the HD-25i-II’s (i’m a sucker for PRAT) but thought they were over priced in NZ (NZ$600)    However there is a retailer that is doing a very good deal on them at the moment.  So I can either get the ATH-M50s + the FiiO E17 for NZ$438 or the HD25 1-II’s’ for $400 (no amp).  I probably wouldn’t spend much more than that though so the 25’s + E17 is probably out of the question.  I’ll listen to both before I buy but would be keen to know your thoughts

    FWIW my previous headphones were AKG K-26P’S which I chose over PX-100’s.  They were great with the iPod but that was about it…
      
    Thanks

    • Reply March 12, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Chris,
      If you are a sucker for PRaT, I would lean more with the HD25-1 even with no amp. Or look into the Vmoda M-80 if you can get it in your area.
      Here is my short impression of the Vmoda: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=350896801621690

      • Reply March 12, 2012

        Chris King

        Thanks Mike,
        I had a feeling you might say that.  I’ve had a look for the V-Moda but they don’t appear to be available in NZ.  I’m going to see if I can compare both options this weekend. 
        Thanks & Cheers

        • Reply March 12, 2012

          Jeff Kong

          im from aus myself..and the range is quite restricted and what ever i can find is quite pricey….i really recommend buying the stuff online…just check whether the site/ seller are authorized on the official site of the product as they all provide a list

  • Reply March 12, 2012

    Guessous Mehdi Imed

    hi mike , could you compare the hd595 with the hd598 ?
    I’m interested by bass /highs / speed, thanks

    • Reply March 12, 2012

      Mike

      The improvements on the HD598 are mostly:
      – much better soundstage
      – smoother high
      – bass is about the same
      – speed is about the same

  • Reply March 12, 2012

    John123John

    mike,
    can you explain sample rate? advantages and disadvantages, upsampling and downsampling.

    • Reply March 12, 2012

      Mike

      Something short for now, I find that I get best results with 44.1 kHz files upsampled to 88.2 or 96kHz.
      There is a big argument both in support of and against upsampling, but I really am not qualified to explain it. As for downsampling, I think people very rarely downsample.

  • Reply March 12, 2012

    Shahrose Malik

    Upsampling, IME, smooths out the sound in such a way that some of the texture and bite is removed. Prefer the sound with all processing (EQ, samplers etc.) off.

    Anyways, main reason I messaged was to request a review for the SRH1840…just ordered a pair. The Eastern Electric Minimax Plus DAC would be good too (but with the mandatory LME49990 opamps and Psvane tube upgrades). The Anedio D2 is also making some noise in the DAC market.

  • Reply March 13, 2012

    Hoang Viet

    Hi Mike,

    Do you have any plan on doing a full review of the V Moda M-80 and Sennheiser Amperior? I’ve heard many good thing about them and Tyll @InnerFidelity:twitter said the Amperior is the superior one. Point is I’ve also had an HD25 so there’s no point to get the same signature sound again.
    Btw: i’ve read your impression on the M-80 and sure that recessed mid seem to be problem since i mostly listening to Rap.

    • Reply March 13, 2012

      Mike

      Word is the Amperiors are indeed slightly different. Slightly warmer, less treble, but there may be some metallic tone to the sound due to the aluminum housing. I’ve yet to listen to it personally though.
      No plans for the Vmoda full review, just a facebook impression notes for now.

  • Reply March 14, 2012

    Stas Ka

    Hi Mike,
    What do you think about such setup HM-601  + ortofon q7-hd/schiit asgard+ hifiman HE-400? What do you prefer?Asgard or Ortofon?
    HM-601 will be my DAP and desktop sourse. Is it decent source for the HE-400?
    Or maybe Fostex HP-P1+HE-400?

    • Reply March 15, 2012

      Mike

      Stas,
      I think the HM-601 as a source should be fine. Just remember to keep it plugged in to the AC adapter. The Asgard is good with the HE-400, as for the Ortofon I’ve never tried it with the HE-400.

      • Reply March 15, 2012

        Stas Ka

        Thank you!

      • And what about Hifiman 602 sa DAC? My setup will look like this: HE4+Hifiman602+Schiit Lyr. Now I Have Icon HDP as DAC 😉

  • Reply March 15, 2012

    Dave McBride

    Any comments on the new Philips Shl 5605 for 99.00?

    • Reply March 15, 2012

      Mike

      Haven’t tried it, Dave.

  • Reply March 15, 2012

    Mike

    Hi Tuan,
    You can start by looking at the recommendations list:

    http://www.headfonia.com/amplifier-recommendations/

  • Reply March 15, 2012

    Jeff Kong

    I was reading through the articles for portable amps, and decided to look into the RSA amps. Currently in a bit of a toss up between the Mustang and the Hornet (in one of the comments sections Mike suggested the shadow/mustang/hornet), but the info on the hornet seems to quite limited (or im probably looking at the wrong place).

    Would you mind giving me a brief on how it sounds if you have had some experience with it. Thanks.

    • Reply March 16, 2012

      Mike

      Alright the Shadow is good for IEMs. The Mustang is an all rounder with three gain levels. The Hornet, IMO, for full size headphones is the best of the three. The only other RSA Amp that I think is better than the Hornet is the SR71A. 

      Problem with the Hornet and the SR71A is that they don’t have a recharging circuitry built in, so you either have to replace 9V batteries, or take them out and charge them manually, a bit of a hassle. 

      • Reply March 16, 2012

        Jeff Kong

        Mike, thanks for the reply. I’ve checked on their site, maybe due to revisions of the amp, the hornet now comes with a 9v re-chargeable lithium battery and has an inbuilt recharging circuit.
         I guess this means the Hornet!!
        Thanks again

        • Reply March 16, 2012

          Mike

          Damn that’s awesome! I wasn’t aware of the newer version!

          • Reply March 16, 2012

            Jeff Kong

            Re-reading it again i made a mistake…BUT it does have a re-charge circuit….doesnt come with batteries tho..so i have to scout out a new battery.

            Sorry Mike

            • Reply March 16, 2012

              Mike

              Well getting the batteries shouldn’t be too difficult I suppose.

  • Reply March 16, 2012

    David Ulrich

    What do you think would be a good DAC pairing with the JDS Labs O2?  And I am waiting on baited breath for the O2 review!

    • Reply March 16, 2012

      Mike

      I’ve been using the O2 with the Dacport LX and I’m loving the combination. Does it fit your budget?

      • Reply March 16, 2012

        David Ulrich

        Since you mention them both having a very clean sound, I thought that might be a good pairing.  Any particular music or headphones that combo excels with?

        • Reply March 16, 2012

          Mike

          Yes though not so full in the mids… but I think that’s attributed mainly to the O2.
          Headphones.. this is quite a versatile set up. What headphones do you use?

          • Reply March 16, 2012

            David Ulrich

             Just some HD202s.  Could that setup power the 650’s to anything decent?

            • Reply March 17, 2012

              Mike

              Yes the O2 should have enough power for the HD650.

  • Reply March 16, 2012

    John123John

    Hey Headfonia,

    Im getting a Bottlehead Crack and I know you havent reviewed the product yet but i wanted some recommendation:
    What Headphones would YOU personally get around the hd-650 dollar mark, like sub $500.
    and
    and what would you recommend for me? i lately have had a very wide variety of music: Mainstream hip-hop, Rock from Hendrix, Radiohead, RDCP, uh some Jazz brubeck and lightly  on Classical. Listed from most to least.

    Thanks alot

    • Reply March 16, 2012

      L.

      I think you already answered your own question. The HD650 is an overall great headphone, and and so many have stated before it is an exceptional match with the Crack. Our Cracks should be shipped very soon…

      • Reply March 20, 2012

        John123John

        lol maybe i should just send you mine :p , although i dont have mine yet either!

        • Reply March 20, 2012

          Mike

          Yea the Crack is moving very very slowly.. 

          • Reply March 20, 2012

            L.

             “Very very slow” is an understatement, really…

  • Reply March 18, 2012

    Trent_D

    Looking for a decent dac/amp to go with a pair of he-300 with musical emphasis on classical and indie rock.  I was thinking a e17, audnist or an audioengine D1.  Something like a HRT MS2 and a Cmoy wouldn’t be out of my price range either.  Any thoughts?  Awesome site!

    • Reply March 19, 2012

      Mike

      Trent,
      I think the HRT MS2 and the CMoy pairing would be very nice with the HE-300.

      • Reply March 19, 2012

        Trent_D

         Just out of curiosity, how does the USB cable DAC pair with the Cmoy?  I don’t know how people can do this, basically guessing as to what components will have good synergy.  My concern is that the MS2 and the Cmoy paired with the HE-300 might be a bit too warm.

  • Reply March 19, 2012

    Dan-Alexandru Gheorghe

    Hello,

    I have recently been to avstores` burson opening in Romania. They had a isotek power conditioner.  Is that a really good improvement? 
    Between a Power Conditioner and a UPS what would you choose? 
    What models (budget level) would you recommend?

    Thanks,

    Dan

    • Reply March 19, 2012

      Mike

      No experience with those power conditioners, Dan. Should just go there and audition it. If you can’t hear any difference then it doesn’t matter, right?

      • Reply March 21, 2012

        Dan-Alexandru Gheorghe

        Thanks Mike. I will try to put my hands on one for testing first… All that i know is that after 1 am, the sound improves a lot. I hope it`s not placebo. I was saying that before knowing about the power conditioners. Last Sunday i overheard Sandu, telling somebody else that he enjoys listening to music at night. I thought that it was just a matter of perception and mood. He explained then that the power grid was less used in the night (apartment building) which gets lesser noise in the power grid . If I test one i will share my opinion here.

        • Reply March 22, 2012

          Mike

          A lot of people likes to make comment on how music sounds better at night. I like to listen to music at night too, but many other variables can be at play there such as our minds being naturally more relaxed at night.

  • Reply March 19, 2012

    Song Kyung-han

    Have you tried using the V-Moda M-80 with various portable amps? My iPhone drives the M-80 effortlessly, but I believe a decent portable amp could make a noticeable improvement. Which sub-$300 portable amp worked great with the M-80 in your experience?

    • Reply March 19, 2012

      Mike

      I tried it with the JDSLabs C421, just briefly. Can’t really say but I think the M-80 runs fine without it. Probably there were some improvements, but I only tried it with an amp briefly.

  • Reply March 20, 2012

    shin-ko

    Hi Mike,
    i have been a silient reader of headfonia for a few week ago. I find that you didn’t review any headphones from Denon, can you tell me why? don’t you interest to the Denon’s sound because of their prosy performance? i’m curious because i have a Denon A100 now, and i don’t think they are a prosy headphone  as i often read:( the only thing that i want to find a replacement/combined headphone now because i don’t achieve the satisfaction so much when i listen to vocal or R&B like Mariah Carey music. Can you recommend me a new headphone for MC music? A sub $300 used headphone for using beside the A100 or $500 used headphone(and i will sell the A100 that i bought for $275). I desire a mid-bass oriented sound, with a solid, deep and good impact bass like A100+forward midrange.Sorry about bad English and thank you so much Mike!

    • Reply March 20, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Shin-ko, 
      No particular reason to the lack of Denon reviews..

      I’m not too familiar with the A100 actually.. mid bass oriented sound with a solid deep (low bass) impact and forward midrange? Honestly can’t think of anything.. 

      First I don’t know if there is anything like a mid-bass oriented headphone.. Maybe plenty midrange oriented headphone, but not mid bass. And if its mid-bass oriented, I doubt that the low bass will be impactful, and one more thing if the midrange will be forward. 

      Sorry I really can’t think of anything like that. The DT770-80 has a good mid bass, but I wouldn’t call it mid-bass oriented. 

      • Reply March 20, 2012

        shin-ko

         I’m sorry, i mean midrange-bass oriented..=.=i’m so silly, i don’t notice that mid bass have so much different meaning.

        • Reply March 20, 2012

          Mike

          Perhaps try the B&W P5 headphones. It’s mid oriented, has a good bass, and should be good for vocals and R&B. 

      • Reply March 22, 2012

        John123John

        I would also appreciate a denon review, something like that AH-D 1000 series line up would be amazing.. Same with maybe the Beyer DT line up, just because these headphones are so popular. As much as i like Sennheiser, i would appreciate it 🙂

        • Reply March 22, 2012

          Mike

          Yes, I would personally love to do these:

          D1100-D2000-D5000-D7000
          Beyer DT440-660-770-880-990

          But as I’ve always said, it’s not easy to get all different models together for a big comparative review. And the manufacturers probably won’t respond if I ask them for 5 different samples from their line up. 😉
          It’s on my to-do-list, but the right opportunity hasn’t come up yet. 🙂

  • Reply March 21, 2012

    Lior Amsalem

    Hi Mike,
    Decided to ditch the portable amp/dac thing. So now I’m looking for a portable amp.
    Most important thing that I’m looking for in an amp with great synergy with my HD-25-1 II for better resolution and layering. I’m not into supercrazy bass, but just a warm and liquid sound.
    I’d like to keep the price lower then 200$ but will invest a little extra to get better sound.
    another thing, Id like the amp to be able to run for at least 30 hours.

    I know it’s too much to ask, but I’m sure you’ll have the answer for me.

    Regards,
    Lior

    • Reply March 22, 2012

      Lior Amsalem

      Ok, decided to go with PA2V2.
      hopefully it’s a good pair. 

  • Reply March 21, 2012

    Scott Boyer

    Hi Mike,

    Love your guys site! I’m hoping you can help me out as I have a bit of an unusual question….

    Currently I listen to music like this:  
    iOS device –> AirPlay –> Denon AVR-4311CI –> JDS Labs cMoyBB –> Sennheiser HD650

    But I could listen like this:
    MacBookPro –> Portable DAC –> Portable Amp –> Sennheiser HD650

    I mainly listen to 16/44 lossless files but have a few 24/96 recordings. I also have an Oppo 83SE that I’ll use with CDs and DVD-As. I am moving towards building a portable system to use at home and work and will most likely be upgrading to the JDS Labs c421 or something of comparable quality + a DAC. I’ve never heard any of the portable DACs so I’m wondering what to prepare myself for. 

    How do the new portable DAC units compare to the Denon’s and Oppo’s DAC? Are they comparable? Would it be an improvement? Am I missing out?

  • Reply March 21, 2012

    Anthony Markarian

    Hi Mike,
    I was wondering if you’ll be having a review of the new HD449/439/429/419 anytime soon? It seems Sennheiser is rather fond of you since they let you see the HD700 ahead of time :p  And sorry if this has already been asked.

    • Reply March 21, 2012

      Mike

      Actually the division that sent me the HD700 is not the usual marketing/promotion division that sends loaner samples. I asked them for some other models and they told me they don’t have access to those. What happens in a big company I guess.
      The 449-419 line up is supposed to be just a facelift to the 448-418 line up, if I’m not mistaken. Been wanting to do a review on those since a lot of people asked for it, but haven’t been able to secure the samples. 🙁

      • Reply March 23, 2012

        Anthony Markarian

         I  e-mailed Sennheiser about it while asking if the shorter,  1/8th inch able for the HD5xx is out yet (they said it’ be out soon) and they confirmed that it is just a face-lift of the 448-418 line-up. Still want a review though…

        • Reply March 23, 2012

          Mike

          Funny thing is that I actually listened to the HD449 today (after I replied to your post) and I found the sound to be quite enjoyable. The lady at the store however said that the HD449 is closed while the HD448 was semi open. Not sure if what she said is right, I haven’t checked it with Sennheiser.

  • Reply March 21, 2012

    rustiandra

    Hi Mike,
    do you think Asgard will make a good synergy with hd650 for jazz music? do you also have a good recommendation for the dac? I’m thinking dacmagic

    Thanks,
    Andra

    • Reply March 22, 2012

      Mike

      The Asgard is quite an all rounder amp. I think good specialized amps for Jazz are usually a lot more expensive, so if your budget is around the $300 mark then just go ahead with the Asgard.
      The Dacmagic is a good DAC, but unless you need all the connectivity features (S/PDIF inputs, Balanced outputs), then you can get a better sound by getting either the HRT Music Streamer II+ or the Dacport LX.

      • Reply March 22, 2012

        rustiandra

        Okay shoot Mike just out of curiosity, what specialized amp for jazz would you recommend? *eyesclosed*

        • Reply March 22, 2012

          Mike

          There is a lot. Depends on the Jazz recordings too. Classic jazz recordings are on type, then you have smooth jazz, audiophile jazz, japanese jazz, female vocals, pure instruments. But in general you want to get the big tube amps.

          • Reply March 22, 2012

            rustiandra

            i’m a geek for classic jazz like Stan Getz, ‘trane, Oscar Peterson, mostly instrument. what do you think Mike? would a tube like WA6 should be good for starter? 

            • Reply March 22, 2012

              Mike

              For Classic Jazz recordings, I probably would get the Graham Slee Solo SRG II over the Woo. I think the Woo is better for audiophile Jazz recordings.

          • Reply March 23, 2012

            rustiandra

            Okay thanks Mike! now about the dac, if i happen to use source from my iPod through a dock, what dac can i connect it with? can’t use the streamer nor the dacport can i?

            • Reply March 23, 2012

              Mike

              What dock are you going to use?

          • Reply March 23, 2012

            rustiandra

            most probably the Onkyo ND-S1, Mike

            • Reply March 23, 2012

              Mike

              Then you would need something with an S/PDIF input. What about the Dacmagic?

          • Reply March 23, 2012

            rustiandra

            it crossed my mind, but is it really a tradeoff between sound and S/PDIF input? considering that either Dacport or HRT has the better sound? Or is there any dac that matches the sound quality and also my need of the input?

            • Reply March 23, 2012

              Mike

              Well this is what you can do:
              Ipod > Laptop > USB Dac.

              But if you still want to use the Onkyo then you gotta need an S/PDIF input. To be honest I don’t use my Onkyo anymore as a lot of the newer DACs come with USB input only.

          • Reply March 23, 2012

            rustiandra

            Agreed. I think when it comes to this, i’d rather sacrifice the dock than the sound quality. Thanks a lot, Mike! 

            • Reply March 23, 2012

              Mike

              Yea, and you probably already have a laptop, so no need to spend money for the Onkyo dock.
              I only use the Onkyo for recharging my Ipod now. 😉

          • Reply March 23, 2012

            Mike

            And on the DAC choice, I think the HRT will be nice for the stuff you listen to. 

  • Reply March 21, 2012

    M.reza

    mike,is the objective2 good enough to drive hd650?
    and do i need a dac?
    thanks!!!

    • Reply March 22, 2012

      Mike

      Yes it has enough power for the HD650. A good DAC is always good to have, not mandatory, but good to have.

      • Reply March 22, 2012

        M.reza

        if my setup like this
        ipad with lod-o2-hd650 will that be good?
        what entry level desktop amp that will drive hd 650 nicely?
        and what dac should im using
        thankss!!!

        • Reply March 22, 2012

          Mike

          The O2 should suffice. I would add a DAC, anything you can afford in the $100-$300 range is going to be much better than the Ipad.

          • Reply March 22, 2012

            L.

            Don’t forget that a lot of USB dacs do not work on the ipad as they pull to much current from it. So you need a powered dac or a powered usb hub/dac

          • Reply March 22, 2012

            M.reza

            ok mike,maybe dacport lx would be nice
            thank u so much!!

  • Reply March 21, 2012

    Trent_D

    I currently have a Cmoy and a pair of sennheiser hd202’s.  I was thinking, until I can afford something better, to get a USB cable dac to run between my laptop and the Cmoy.  Would that work well, or would I be better with something like a e10, or a hm-101?

    Second question, so I don’t have to ask it later, I am into classical and indie rock.  I am planning to get a pair of he-300 and I am looking for a more neutral, detail oriented dac/amp combo.  I was thinking the DACport LX for the dac.  What would be some good amp pairings with that?

    • Reply March 22, 2012

      Mike

      Trent,
      I think the choice between a USB DAC cable or a unit like the E10 or HM-101 is entirely up to you. The E10 has been very popular since its release and a lot of people enjoy its sound, so that may be the safer way to go.
      As for your second question, I usually recommend the Asgard since that’s a good amp for the price. But if you want something with a lot of detail, might as well skip the separate Dacport + Asgard combo and go for the Dacmini. It comes with a built in amp and the detail level is very good.

      • Reply March 23, 2012

        Trent_D

         I went with the E10.  I imagine it will be nice to have around to keep with my laptop when I am out and about.  Should I just stick with the hd202 with the E10 for my musical preferences, or is there a set that pairs particularly well with it.

        • Reply March 23, 2012

          Mike

          Alright good choice, Trent.

  • Reply March 22, 2012

    Michael Wang

    hey Mike

    I pre-ordered a fiio E17 about a month and a half ago and it hasn’t arrived yet so I was considering to get an audinist HUD MX1 instead.  Do you think that’s a good switch?  I’m planning on running the amp on my ATH m50’s and sennheiser 518’s, along with a bunch of low impedance IEM’s

    • Reply March 22, 2012

      Mike

      Aside from the difference in features, what I can say is that the HUD MX1 is a superior DAC than the E17.
      The E17’s volume control is ultimately better for low impedance IEMs as there shouldn’t be any problem with channel imbalance at low volumes, but the Audinst is not terribly bad at that either.

      • Reply March 22, 2012

        Michael Wang

        Is there a clean winner between the two?  Would you recommend something else altogether? 

        • Reply March 22, 2012

          Mike

          If you’re just looking at the DAC section, the HUD-MX1 is a clean winner.. but the E17 comes with a digital volume control, works as a portable amp, and has a punchier amp section.

  • Reply March 23, 2012

    verserq

    Hi Mike,

    I plan to buy a senn HD598 and pair it with a DAC/amp or amp (whichever is better). Currently I have my eye on Fiio E17, Topping D2 and Objective2. Which one of them do you think is better? Or is there another recommended item besides those three. My budget is about $150. FYI, if my option is getting an amp only, my source will be direct from notebook or desktop soundcard.

    Thanks Mike

    • Reply March 23, 2012

      Mike

      All three are good I think. I have the least experience with the D2, but the sound is smooth though a bit lacking PRaT and impact. The Objective 2 is technically very good and quite neutral. The E17 may have the least refined amp of the three, but I think it’s fun, lively and punchy. I would lean toward either the O2 or the E17. I like having the DAC of the E17 as I think the HD598 shines with a good source.

  • Reply March 23, 2012

    JackyM

    I know you are probably sick and tired of answering or even hearing about Sennheiser HD series comparison but I need to ask, HD598 vs HD650? Just some general differences. I can kind of make out the difference by comparing your hd598 vs hd600 and hd580,hd600, hd650 reviews. You seem to have all the other comparison but this one and its nice getting all from one source for consistency.
    The lack of soundstage in the hd600 is a bit of a turn off for me. 

    • Reply March 23, 2012

      JackyM

      Im in the process of acquiring the hd598(have), hd600(pending) and hd650(looking) for a self review so i can see for myself and move on with my life (lol). Maybe try some denon or beyer next but we’ll see. Dang, I just want to try them all! 

      Youre so lucky…
      Thanks,
      Jacky

      • Reply March 23, 2012

        Mike

        Jacky, 
        Can you give me a more specific question? I’m sure you know that the HD600/650 are more refined than the HD5XX headphones. And looking at your set up, I think you have quite a solid set up and shouldn’t have a problem running either the HD600/650.

        • Reply March 25, 2012

          JackyM

          Sorry for being a bit unclear. Im just asking for a basic list of differences between the HD598 and HD650. 
          Thanks Mike!

          • Reply March 27, 2012

            Mike

            The HD598 is a more mid-centric headphone with sweet intimate vocals. The HD650 has a bigger sound, weightier bass, better dynamics.
            The HD598 is easier to drive and has a very good soundstage depth. The HD650 is more difficult to drive but will give you a much bigger sound when driven with a good amp. Other reference qualities such as timbre, dynamic range, the HD650 is better at.

        • Reply March 31, 2012

          JackyM

          idk but i cant reply to your last comment.

          sorry but i dont understand what you mean by “bigger sound”. Also how would you compare the soundstages of the two headphones? 

          Thanks Mike!

          • Reply March 31, 2012

            Mike

            Well a bigger sound is like listening to a set of PC speakers then moving to a good bookshelf. Or listening to a bookshelf then moving to a big floorstand speaker.
            The soundstage of the HD558/598 have better depth, but ultimate size, the HD650 is bigger. The HD600 is quite flat and not that three dimensional.

  • Reply March 25, 2012

    Dietmar Gsell

    You recommended a tube amp(Woo/Figaro)for my HD650 but I got the chance to buy a Audio GD Phoenix for a good price here in NZ…and I am speechless!Only had Little Dots,E10 and the Objective2 before and the Phoenix is light years ahead!Laptop(FLAC)>HRTII>Phoenix>HD650(soon to be balanced),thats my chain and I would like to improve on the DAC(budget up to 1000.- US Dollars).
    Any recommendation(thought going all the way Audio GD)?
    Thanks from an avid reader of your site!

    • Reply March 27, 2012

      Mike

      Dietmar,
      I’ve reviewed the Ref 7.1 Audio Gd and it was excellent, but it’s way over your $1K budget. For under $1K, currently my favorite is the Kingrex UD384.

  • Reply March 25, 2012

    marcdisqus

    Hi Mike.  I would really appreciate your opinion on what sort of depth (e.g. in inches) is realistically possible with headphones (using your helpful definition of depth = how far the soundstage extends in front of you).  I ask because whilst I’m really happy with the listening experience I’m getting from my headphones/amp/cd player I get zero depth – the sound is in my head not in front.  I’m intrigued whether I may be missing something and should try to “fix” it.  I have two pairs of headphones: Grado GS1000i and Audio Technica W1000x; a Lehmann Black Cube amp and an Audiolab 8200CD CD player.  Music-wise I have sought out various “recommended” good quality recordings but none of these are classical.

    • Reply March 27, 2012

      Mike

      The GS1000i is not very good at producing depth. The W1000X is a little better but not too great either. However it would mainly depend on your recording. If you can give me a youtube link with 2-3 songs you listen to, I can try listening to them to see if it’s indeed the recording.
      A lot of recordings have no three dimensionality in them, so it doesn’t matter what headphones you use.
      As for your depth question in inches, I don’t know, I suppose 5 inches is probably maximum with a good recording and good high end system.

  • Reply March 25, 2012

    Antonio Marqués

    Hi. For HD650. Burson HA-160 + HRT MS II+   or Burson HA-160DS ? More on Jazz, Classical, Pop than Rock, Electronic.
    Tnx!

    • Reply March 27, 2012

      Mike

      Jazz, Pop, I would lean more toward HRT MS2+ and Graham Slee Solo SRG II.

  • Reply March 25, 2012

    M.Reza Dwi Arianto

    hi mike
    what dac do you recommended for pairing with objective2 amp and senn hd650
    is fiio e10 or firestone fubar good enough?
    or should i buy higher end stuff like dacport lx?
    thx

    • Reply March 27, 2012

      Mike

      The E10 is good. The Dacport is better of course, but the E10 should do if your budget is limited.

      • Reply March 27, 2012

        M.reza

        thanks mike,yeah i think i will buy dacport lx
        have you try hd650 with objective2 and dacport lx combo? is that nice
        thanksss

        • Reply March 28, 2012

          Mike

          Not the HD650 but the HD580 with the O2 and the LX. It’s very nice.

  • Reply March 27, 2012

    Trent_D

    Looking forward to the O2 review.  Wondering how it will pair with the dacport lx and the he-300.

  • Reply March 28, 2012

    Mike

    Marc,
    I think the recordings are good. I feel the Steely Dan recording to be the best out of the three, and you should not have any problem getting good depth out of it. Even on youtube resolution, a good recording is still a good recording.
    Okay back on the headphones. The GS1000i is very wide and spacious, but not so much depth and I think it’s the case with perhaps all grado-based drivers. The W1000X is narrower than the GS1000i but has a slightly better depth. Something relatively affordable but with good depth is the HD598. You won’t get the spacious sound of the GS1000i but soundstage depth would be much better than the two headphones you have now. So, I’m recommending this merely on the merit of good soundstage depth.

  • Reply March 28, 2012

    Jeff Kong

    Deleted.

    • Reply March 29, 2012

      Mike

      If you’re looking for a warmer sound, then the C421 is going to be warmer than the Rx. Which HF5? Etymotics?

      • Reply March 29, 2012

        Jeff Kong

        and you some how manage to see the question anyways, yea the etymotics

        read through the review several more times after the pre-edit post..and realised it’d be the c421 

        • Reply March 29, 2012

          Jeff Kong

          BTW Mike, im really enjoying that parallel review style that you and Lieven have been doing lately, it makes it an even more enjoyable read than usual.

          • Reply March 29, 2012

            L.

            Thanks Jeff, it’s always nice to get a compliment. The double reviews are nice indeed but they also are more then double the work as we each have to write a review and then edit them both to get one final piece. And don’t forget we each time need double review samples too. For the immediate future we only have the O2 planned as a double review. We’ll see what happens next.

          • Reply March 29, 2012

            Mike

            Thanks I also enjoy doing the double reviews. We’ll try to do more of these in the future.

  • Reply March 28, 2012

    Jeff Kong

    Deleted.

  • Reply March 29, 2012

    Adrian Pang

    Tossing
    between the Meier Arietta for ~120, the MStage for ~170 or to keep my
    E9… Gna use it to pair with low impedance phones like the Denon, any
    opinions? I couldn’t seem to find a lot of information about
    the Arietta… Besides it was sold for $300 back then and Skylab gave it
    a good review, back then.

    • Reply March 29, 2012

      Mike

      Adrian,
      I have no experience with the Arietta sorry.

  • Reply March 29, 2012

    Rūdolfs Putniņš

    Hey, Mike!

    Do you know if the HD598 driver can sound more refined than HD25-II when driven from an E10?

    I was pondering about getting a HD650/600 but instead I’ll put some cash into my speaker rig. Also I’m not sure if E10 will do justice to HD650/600, most likely they’ll end up sounding no better than a HD598.

    Best regards!

    • Reply March 29, 2012

      Mike

      The driver is newer, it should be more refined regardless of the amplification. But also on the HD600/650, it would still be more refined than the HD598 even on the E10.

      • Reply April 1, 2012

        Rūdolfs Putniņš

        Hmm… Thanks for the advice. I’ll consider the HD650 if I’ll see a good price for minty (no flaky paint and unsquashed earpads) used silver driver one. However when looking in the head-fi trading section they seem all but gone.

        The thing I’m mostly worried about is the “sennheiser veil” and all the stereotypes associated with insufficiently driven HD650. The E10 has more than enough juice for my HD25-II (volume @2, lo-gain), so I wonder how it would fare with the heavier HD650.

        • Reply April 1, 2012

          L.

           I used the combo at work till i got the C421 and while it is enjoyable it doesnt make the HD650 sound like it should, forget about a wide soundstage an clarity, the sound is dark and “veiled” as they call it. I don’t mind as I love senns but I’m not sure you do too.

          • Reply April 1, 2012

            Rūdolfs Putniņš

            Well, I do love the HD25-II but it’s more of a Grado than a Sennheiser. That said I have listened to both HD600/650 driven from a SPL Phonitor and they did sound terrific to my ears.

            Oh, well- might as well get the HD598 and for the leftower cash buy me some shoes or something that normal people spend money on…

            • Reply April 2, 2012

              Mike

              You should just go for the HD650. I think now more and more people realizes that the HD650 is generally a very solid headphone.

        • Reply April 2, 2012

          Mike

          Don’t worry about the veil. I think it’s mostly for people moving from a Grado to a Sennheiser sound and not getting used with the thick bass and the lesser treble. Detail level wise the HD650 is better than even the flagship Grados.

          • Reply April 2, 2012

            Rūdolfs Putniņš

            Btw, is there a genre of music the HD650 doesn’t handle all that well?

            • Reply April 3, 2012

              Mike

              Something like metal would probably be a challenge.

  • Reply March 30, 2012

    Dipta Prabhaswara

    Hi Mike!

    I’m thinking of buying a closed headphone to use at work as an upgrade from my HD25. I’m a big fan electronic and instrumental music and i’m comfortable the the sound that comes out of my SM3.
    Any recommendations? Have you tried the K550?  

    Thanks Mike!

  • Reply April 1, 2012

    Vladislav Ivanovich

    Mike, is there any chance y gonna make a review on Ultrasone Signature Pro in the near future?

    • Reply April 2, 2012

      Mike

      I listened to it a few weeks back… wasn’t so impressed with it. I thought the Pro900 was better.

  • Reply April 1, 2012

    john

    I’d also be interested to see a review on the AKG K550. I’m going to audition them tomorrow when I pick up my new Fiio e17. Can’t wait.

    • Reply April 12, 2012

      Mike

      Alright I am still waiting but I should get them. 

  • Hi Mike. My friend selects to the iPhone 4s earphones with a font and considers this option (AKG K 3003). I have a question. It is possible? If I yet didn’t bother you that I want to ask that you would advise (money not a question) to my friend to get from earphones with a font what to listen most qualitatively only with iPhone without resorting to portable amplifiers?

    • Reply April 12, 2012

      Mike

      Go with the JH13/JH16, direct from an Iphone. 

  • I according to your recommendation bought the PA2V2 amplifier really excellent thing. Now I plan to raise so to speak a bar and to spend approximately on the portable amplifier and earphones of $1000 that you to me would advise. My preferences the most various I listen to fate, the jazz, the blues, classics and modern music. In advance to you it is grateful for the answer.

    • Reply April 12, 2012

      Mike

      If you can narrow down the choice then I can help you give some pointers, but at the moment the question is just too open. 

  • Reply April 4, 2012

    Marc_D26

    Hey Mike,
    Have you got the National? If it doesn’t bother you, how’s it compared to the open-sounding, wide/deep soundstage, and impactful ALO Rx Mk2?
    Do you think its special promo price will last long or it might end soon?
    Thanks! 

  • Reply April 4, 2012

    Hai

    so final word which portable amp you prefer to pair with hd 650 the national or c421 since I can get them with similar price here in Aus I just wait for your final word and pull the trigger. Also I love laid back and smooth sound 🙂

    • Reply April 12, 2012

      Mike

      The review is now up, Hai. 🙂 

      http://www.headfonia.com/the-sequel-alo-audio-the-national/

      With my HD580 I enjoyed the National better than the C421 mainly due to the bass. The C421 is smoother though. 

      • Reply April 12, 2012

        Hai

        thanks Mike. thought you didn’t see my question :P. I will audition the national amp during this weekend can’t find any c421 in Melbourne through but I trust your ears 😀

        • Reply April 13, 2012

          Mike

          Well at least by auditioning the National you can get a sense of what the C421 would sound more like, based on the comparison. 🙂

  • Reply April 6, 2012

    Josh W

    Hey Mike,

    I love the site. Thanks for providing subjective reviews for those of us that cannot audition headphones.

    I’m looking for opinions regarding my next headphone purchase. Currently, I own the following: Denon AH-D2000, Sennheiser HD558, and the Ultrasone HFI-580. I also have Schiit’s Bifrost DAC and Asgard amplifier. The DAC is fed from a toslink connection from my X-Fi titanium sound card.

    My usage will be for electronic music production (all of my recording is at 24bit/96khz), so I’m looking for headphones with a neutral/analytical nature. The AKG 701, Sennheiser HD650, Beyerdynamics DT880, and Hifiman HE-400 are on my radar after reading your articles. The Sennheiser HD600 has also been on my radar after looking around head-fi.

    Anyways, I’ll stop babbling. Do you have any recommendations? I’m open to all options, not just the one I listed above.
    Thanks, man! I appreciate any insight.

    • Reply April 12, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Josh, 
      Sorry for the slow reply. 

      Electronic music production: cross out the HE-400, HD650, and the Shures. I don’t think they are neutral enough for music production. 

      The K701, DT880, HD600 all should make for a good headphone for music production. 

      • Reply April 13, 2012

        Josh W

         No worries, Mike. Life is busy. Thank you for the suggestions!

  • Reply April 6, 2012

    Chris Allen

    Hey Mike,  I must have asked you a thousand questions already on the HD 5xx series yet I must ask one thing.  I did try the HD600 finally and loved it.  I can’t seem to find it on a decent price, but have found the HD 558 at a really great price almost brand new.  How does the HD 558 compare to the HD600?  Obviously it wouldn’t be on the same level as the HD600, but still, wouldn’t bother me too much if they were slightly on par.

    Chris

    • Reply April 6, 2012

      Trent_D

       What would you consider a good price for the HD600?

      • Reply April 6, 2012

        L.

         I’ve been tracking the european Senn prices on Amazon for a while. Lowest they went were 200€, right now they are at 347€! In my opnion around 230€ is an excellent price for a new pair. No idea what Chris thinks of course 😉

        • Reply April 7, 2012

          Chris Allen

           I think $230 is great, but they are $399 New on Amazon and $349 Used.  I did try the HD555 with a Nuforce HDP and it was fine, which is why I considered the HD558.  I would be using the Fiio E10+JDSLabs Cmoy as my setup.  I don’t like the Nuforce HDP as it only worked for the HD555 out of all the headphones I demo’ed.

    • Reply April 7, 2012

      Mike

      Not on par, Chris. Go for the HD600 😉

  • Reply April 6, 2012

    USCdeacon

    Hi Mike

    My current setup is a Macbok Pro -> NuForce uDAC (1st Gen) -> Audio-Technica ATH-M50’s (I actually prefer my M50s to my TF10s with this setup.  Am I crazy? :P).

    With that said, I’ve been interested in the DigiZoid Zo 2.3 – I’m torn.  The Zo would function fine going in between my iPhone 4s and my M50s for the on the go use.  The problem is for my  setup.  described above.  I want a good DAC feeding the Zo… but am unsure how this is possible.  I don’t want to connect the Zo to the uDAC’s headphone out as this will cause double amping and less clarity/distortion.  Any idea or recommendations?  

    Thanks in advance!

    • Reply April 12, 2012

      Mike

      Hi USCDeacon, 
      So your question is for the Iphone + M50 set up and what to put in between the two? 

      Well first of all you can’t use the uDAC with the Iphone right? So that’s out of the question. 

      The only other alternative at the moment is the Fostex HP-P1 and the CLAS if you want to upgrade (or bypass) the DAC on your Iphone. 

      Cheers

      • Reply April 23, 2012

        USCdeaconHF

        thanks for your reply Mike!

        My original statement was that I have no problems with the iPhone + Zo combination, but the problem is with the Macbook Pro setup.  Would Macbok Pro -> NuForce uDAC (1st Gen) headphone out –> DigiZoid Zo 2.3 –> Audio-Technica ATH-M50’s be prone to problems with “double amping” ?

        As always, thanks!

        • Reply April 23, 2012

          Mike

          Yes you would be double amping if you do that uDAC headphone out > Digizoid.

  • Reply April 7, 2012

    Mike

    Thanks for sharing the link, Trent.

  • Reply April 12, 2012

    rustiandra

    Hi Mike!

    i have my desktop plans with HRT ms2 and graham slee srg2 thanks to you, and now my question is what would you recommend if I’m going portable? i have my budget for clas, and i already have iPod and c421. but I’m also considering hm602. Which one should be my priority, for portable, Mike? i have hd650, hd25adidas, m50, and se215 as my everyday iem

    p.s. altmann is out of question! 😛

    Thanks a lot, Mike! really appreciate your thought.

    • Reply April 12, 2012

      Mike

      Do you want to keep the Ipod’s interface? If yes then go with the CLAS. 

      Sound wise the pack of Ipod+CLAS+C421 would sound better than the HM602, but you would be carrying a lot more weight as well. 

      Cheers. 

  • Reply April 12, 2012

    Mike

    I realize I missed out a lot of the questions on Q-A. I will try to answer them in the next few days. Sorry. 

  • Reply April 13, 2012

    john

    Hi Mike,

    Can you tell me is there a way to calculate how loud in dB a pair of headphones is at any given volume setting using the specifications from the various system components?

    Or would you have to use a meter? I’m getting older and I’m worried about my hearing!

    Thanks.

    • Reply April 13, 2012

      Mike

      John,
      You would have to use a meter I’m afraid.

      There are two difficulties that I can see with trying to figure out the loudness using calculations:
      1. When you play a recording, you notice that there are loud passages and quiet passages. So even though your source is quoted as having a 2 Volts line out, that’s just the maximum limit. On quiet passages it may just be sending a 0.5 Volts signal or lower. 2. Then the signal gets feed to an amp with say a gain of 10, so theoretically that 0.5 Volts would be amplified to 5 Volts at the output, BUT that’s considering you don’t have a volume control. With a volume control it’s hard to say how much voltage is being cut at a particular position in the potentiometer.
      Hope that helps.

      • Reply April 13, 2012

        john

        Thanks for your answer Mike, I should have known it wouldn’t be that easy!

        Maybe I can put this situation out to your readers. Playing FLAC files from a PC through the Fiio E17 and AKG K550 headphones. Bass and treble at 0. 

        Does anybody have some idea what volume setting I would need to use in order to be getting 85dB at the loudest parts of the recording????

        I guess there are other factors to consider like the recording and ripping levels????

        (PS….the K550’s are very nice!)

      • Reply April 13, 2012

        john

        Thanks for your answer Mike, I should have known it wouldn’t be that easy!

        Maybe I can put this situation out to your readers. Playing FLAC files from a PC through the Fiio E17 and AKG K550 headphones. Bass and treble at 0. 

        Does anybody have some idea what volume setting I would need to use in order to be getting 85dB at the loudest parts of the recording????

        I guess there are other factors to consider like the recording and ripping levels????

        (PS….the K550’s are very nice!)

  • Reply April 14, 2012

    Trent_D

    How would the HA-160ds work with the HD 650 for classical music?

    • Reply April 14, 2012

      Mike

      Just okay, I’d recommend the WA6.

  • Reply April 16, 2012

    David Ulrich

    I love classical music, but that isn’t my only music I listen to.  So, my plan was to buy a DACport LX, Schiit Asgard and use the HD600 as my headphones figuring that would give me solid detail and sound-stage for  my Sibelius, while still being a solid setup for jazz and alt rock.  My only question is will the dacport and the Asgard be enough to bring out the full potential of the 600, or will I need something more?

    • Reply April 16, 2012

      Mike

      The Asgard should be good for the HD600.. As for the full potential of the HD600, it’s hard to put a limit since you can go all the way to some $2K-$3K amps and still get an improvement.

      • Reply April 17, 2012

        David Ulrich

         As long as they will be able to do the phones justice.  Thanks for the reply!

        • Reply April 17, 2012

          Mike

          You’re welcome, David.

  • Reply April 16, 2012

    Bestmale

    Mike, i have 2 headphone in my hand right now, hifiman HE500 and sennheiser HD650.
    My question is what amp that could optimize this two headphone?

    For DAC i consider for buying Dacport LX.
    I usually hear pop music, vocal, and jazz

    thx for the help 🙂

    • Reply April 16, 2012

      L.

       With both my fav amp is the Lafigaro 339, a dual mono design OTL amp. So I’d recommend an OTL tube amp for these.

      • Reply April 17, 2012

        Bestmale

        How about WA6SE? is it good for both of them?

        • Reply April 17, 2012

          L.

           The WA6 is no OTL but uses a transformer, but the SE does have a lot of power. I’d still recommend an OTL

          • Reply April 17, 2012

            David Ulrich

             Isn’t the WA3 an OTL?

            • Reply April 17, 2012

              Mike

              WA3 is an OTL. WA6 and the higher up models are not.

          • Reply April 17, 2012

            John123John

            Bottlehead Crack!

            If the review ever happens…. haha JK! 😀

            • Reply April 17, 2012

              Mike

              Our bottlehead crack kit is right now on the customs office. Should have it before the end of the week. 🙂

        • Reply April 17, 2012

          Mike

          Haven’t tried the SE with the HE-500 but the regular WA6 feels underpowered.

      • Reply April 17, 2012

        Hai

        Hi, Lieven
        Which tubes are you using with the 339 ?
        I’m planing to buy that amp for my hd 650 too 🙂

        • Reply April 18, 2012

          L.

          2 sets: 6AS7G RCA + EF80 Telefunken (adapter needed) or 2399 Chatham (= 5998 tung-sol) + RCA RED 5693

          The RCA 6AS7G and TFK EF80 is reasonably cheap and great sounding. Don’t forget to ask/order your tube convertors when ordering from Yuking09 😉

          You’ll love it with the HD650!

    • Reply April 17, 2012

      Mike

      Just an alternative from Lieven’s Darkvoice (I’ve never tried his amp), if you want to go with solid state go with the Graham Slee SRG II.

  • Reply April 17, 2012

    Guessous Mehdi Imed

    Would that be a bad idea to run a hd800 from a xonar stx ? Would I  see an improvement compared to the srh940 , or would the xonar stx “trash” the sound ?
    I ask, because it’s hard to buy stuff online from country, but I  was excited to find a hd800 on a local store at a decent price.

    • Reply April 17, 2012

      Mike

      Ummm it’s hard to say, the HD800 will still technically be better than the SRH940 even from a Fiio E10.. But as for the overall musicality, I can’t say as I’ve never listened to the Xonar.

  • Reply April 17, 2012

    Jeff Kong

    Hi, I was wondering if you guys have had any experience with the beyerdynamic DT150/250s? 
    possibly a brief on how you felt/remember about it? 
    Thanks!

    • Reply April 17, 2012

      Don Vittorio Sierra

       I’m not Mike or Lieven but the dt250-250 ohm version is a current favorite of mine.  The dt250-80 ohm is darker, more forward and bassier but is still good. Comparing both of them is like comparing the hd600 vs the hd650. The DT150 is pretty good too if used with the dt100 velour pads without the inner foam. The dt150s when using the velours also have a huge family resemblance with the dt250s.  If you want a neutral closed can, get the dt250-250, its the best one among the three hands down

      • Reply April 17, 2012

        L.

        thanks for replying to that 🙂

        • Reply April 17, 2012

          Don Vittorio Sierra

           You’re welcome Lieven. I always like to try and help especially when the question is about cans or equipment that I am currently enjoying. Cheers!

      • Reply April 17, 2012

        Jeff Kong

        Thank you Don. I was definitely thinking more 250ohm one than the 80ohm variety. 

        So you would say that the dt150 is more coloured? and in what way? if you could elaborate a littleand is there an area which the dt250-250 excels at? ie mids/highs
        Definitely nice to hear some comments from other people too!  =D
        Thanks!

        • Reply April 17, 2012

          Don Vittorio Sierra

           The dt150 is too bassy and hollow in the mids with the stock pads but with the dt100 velour pads with no inner foam, they become more neutral. The mids fill in but the highs still lack extension when compared to the dt250-250 which is overall just a more neutral can. The dt150 even with the velour pads still have a more bloated midbass and lower midrange vs the 250 ohm dt250 but is not far off the 80 ohm version of the dt250.

           By the way, my recent favorite cans were hd600s and now I like the dt250-250 even more plus bonus feature is that it is closed! The cans are pure genius LOL.

          As a starter amp for the dt250-250s, I suggest getting a jdslabs cmoy for them since the cmoy has good power with high impedance headphones… In fact my jdslabs CMOY sounds brilliant with the hd600s too.  Take note I like to listen to music loud so when I say it has decent power I’m talking above 100db clean without distortion. Out of the FiiO E10 for example, the dt250-250 hardly makes any sound hehehe. For Grados though or any of the other lower impedance cans I have including the 80 ohm version of the dt250, they sound better to me out of the e10. Low impedance cans sound forced to me out of the cmoy and totally gets distorted at club volume levels 🙂

          • Reply April 18, 2012

            Jeff Kong

            Thank you Don, you impressions of it are quite helpful!!

      • Reply April 18, 2012

        Mike

        I’ve had some time with both but I don’t think I can write a good impression on them. Don however is very familiar with the DT150 and the DT250 so his comment is probably more valid than mine

  • Reply April 19, 2012

    Don Vittorio Sierra

    I have a question about the power output capability of some of the recent amps reviewed. Among the national, the O2, and the c421 which among them is the most powerful amp for low and high impedance headphones. Which amp can play the loudest without strain or distortion on hd600/650s and on the majority of low impedance cans or orthos, etc…

    • Reply April 20, 2012

      Don Vittorio Sierra

       does anyone here know?

      • Reply April 23, 2012

        John Seaber

        None of these amps will have issue driving 300 or 600 ohm sets, or even reasonably efficient orthos. Don’t expect to drive any orthos to their fullest with a portable amp.

        O2 is technically more powerful than c421. But both have enough voltage swing and current output that you should never find yourself limited, using dynamic headphones.

  • Reply April 19, 2012

    NGUYEN

    hi Mike,  any new about the wings audio amp WA01LT. The amp is made from my country so I’m really interested in your review  🙂 

    • Reply April 19, 2012

      L.

       I don’t think we received it yet

  • Reply April 21, 2012

    JackyM

    Hey headfonia,

    I know why you would need two Cracks (speedball vs stock) but why do you need three? (fancy parts?)

    • Reply April 21, 2012

      L.

       We bought 3, one is for a friend 😉

  • Reply April 21, 2012

    David Ulrich

    Mike and/or L, help a poor music lover out.  I have very little spare cash (darn kids), but would still love to have a decent sounding system.   My laptop has a surprisingly decent soundcard (I had trouble telling the different between my computer and the Fiio e10), so when paired with my hd202’s, most mainstream recordings sound quite good.  Where my setup has trouble is with my classical recordings.  I can hear my setup struggling with them.  They just can’t handle the clarity or detail.  So…

     I have a JDSlabs Cmoy and was thinking of pairing it with a HRT ms2, which everyone seems to think is a great DAC for the price.  What would be a good headphone to go along with them?  My 202’s will do for everything except classical and jazz.  So, for those genres, how would the hd518 or the 558 be as I can get them for cheap?  It doesn’t have to be a sennheiser, I just see those phones mentioned alot.  Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    • Reply April 23, 2012

      Mike

      David,
      Try the Cmoy and the HRT MS2 first with the HD202?

      The HD558 is good, but the HD600 will put you in reference-class territory.

      • Reply April 23, 2012

        David Ulrich

         and it will sound good out of a Cmoy?  That really is a 60 dollar pack of awesome.  Would I want to get a 24v dc adapter for that ass the one I have is only 16-18v?

        Thanks, Mike.  Great site!

        • Reply April 23, 2012

          Mike

          Yes it will be good even with the Cmoy as the Cmoy is quite a transparent amp.
          16-18V should be fine. I think I was using either a 15V or 16V adapter with my Cmoy.
          Glad I can help!

  • Reply April 25, 2012

    Manfred Peters

    Hi Mike, thanks for a very impressive repository of info. As a newbie I just stumbled in and never left…

    Question: does it make sense to use the Fiio E17 to boost not only levels but also quality when listening to classical music on a DAP/smartphone? I would of course also use it for listening from the computer, but maybe a simple E6 for the phone and something stationary for the computer then makes better sense?

    Incidentally, the new samsung Galaxy phones have a micro usb port with OTG/USB host properties. Have you ever heard of someone who has managed to plug in something like the E17 to a phone via USB (as opposed to the 3,5) to get better quality sound output?

    Thanks!

    • Reply April 25, 2012

      Chris Allen

      Just go with the E17.  Grab a FiiO L7 dock and you can use the E17 at home. However, you could go with the E6 for portable use and the E10 for home use.  I own the E10 and love it! I still would preferably recommend the E17, but it is up to you.

      Cheers! 🙂

    • Reply April 25, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Manfred,
      The question on the Samsung Galaxy, I think people have been talking about that for a while but I’ve never really heard a successful story of a samsung-Fiio pairing.
      And for your first question, can you re-phrase that? I’m not really sure I understand the question.

  • Reply April 25, 2012

    rafkepunk

    Hi!
    I just bought a Sennheiser HD202 today, and I’m really enjoying it 🙂
    For now, I just plug it into my laptop when I listen to music. I’ve also listened to the hd202 through my onkyo receiver, and I thought that sounded better than just through my laptop. I have read, however, that such AV receivers aren’t really made for headphone-listening, and so I wonder if my hd202’s can do even better?
    Would using an amp (like say the DSLabs cMoy) really improve its sound? Or are such amplifiers really only for more high-end headphones? 

    Thanks!

  • Reply April 30, 2012

    Mike Roderigo

    hello mike,
    any chance that you’ll get your and on both john kenny usb dacs JKDAC / JKDAC32. There are getting some good feedbacks and for once that it is an affordable european products. I would lot to hear your view on these.
    kindest regards

    • Reply April 30, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks Mike,
      I will look into it. 🙂

  • Reply April 30, 2012

    kranker

    Hi Mike,
    I’m after a high quality portable source for around £200 and I’ve got myself confused. I listen to electronic and rock, I’ve already got an iPod touch and I just bought some triple fi 10’s. I was thinking of qa350, hm-601, or an amp for the iPod (not fussed too much about UI/battery issues). I’m in the UK so the little just audio amp appeals, but I’m not sure which option would most suit my taste in music.
    Thanks,
    Mark

  • Reply May 1, 2012

    Jonah_Chao

    Hey Mike,
    I’ve been looking around for a new amp to buy, and I’d really appreciate your help! I’m looking to spend around $250-$300 and from what I’ve gathered, a used Gilmore Lite, a Matrix M-Stage, or a Schiit Asgard seem to be my best options (unless you can think of others). Seeing as you’ve reviewed all three in the past, could you help me choose the best amp? Thanks in advance!

    My chain looks something like this: Foobar 2k (WASAPI) -> HRT MSII -> ??? -> Denon D2000

    Best regards,

    Jonah

    • Reply May 1, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Jonah, out of the three solid state amps I would go with the Asgard for the Denon.

      • Reply May 1, 2012

        Jonah_Chao

        Wow, thanks for the prompt reply! Would there be any other amps (tube or SS) that you would recommend, or is the Asgard the best among all options in that price bracket? I really appreciate the help.

        • Reply May 1, 2012

          Mike

          I’m really enjoying the Bottlehead Crack at the moment, but I’m not sure if it’ll do well with the low-impedance Denons, as it is an OTL tube design.

          • Reply May 2, 2012

            Jonah_Chao

            Yeah, the Bottlehead site states it’s not a good idea to pair the Crack to low-impedance headphones.  I’ll look into the asgard then. Thanks Mike!

  • Reply May 1, 2012

    Trent_D

    Question for anyone.  Is there a device that would let me connect my Cmoy to my laptop via USB port?  Let me output the audio signal through the USB?  The sound card on my computer is fairly decent and will do till I can afford a really good DAC.  Just to be sure, I am not looking for a USB dac, just a way to get audio out of my computer without going through the headphone out.

  • Reply May 3, 2012

    m.rezadwiarianto

    Mike,where can i buy bottlehead crack in indonesia?
    Or should i import it?
    Thanks

    • Reply May 4, 2012

      Mike

      Everything is imported.

  • Reply May 5, 2012

    Trent_D

    I finally have a plan.  I am going to be saving up for a Kingrex 348 with upower, bottlehead crack and the HD650.  Since it may be years before I can actually afford that, I ordered a pair of M50’s to suffice till then.  I got the chance to listen to them connected to my laptop and the detail and clarity blows my hd202’s away (although they are still quite fun sounding, but my classical needs more).
     I am really happy that laptops seem to be coming with much better soundcards these days.  I had my laptop, e10 and audioengine d1 next to each other for a few weeks and I was STRAINING to tell the difference.  My hp computer was actually able to drive the he-300s better then the D1. (those were all on loan to me, btw.  I don’t still have them). 

    Thanks for all your advice.  You must either really enjoy talking audio with people and answering questions, or you are one crazy bloke.  Looking forward to your and L’s Crack review!

  • Reply May 7, 2012

    Jack Harvey

    Hey, any suggestions for a good and versatile MP3 player with good SQ and battery life? 

    • Reply May 8, 2012

      Mike

      I think the Ipod is very versatile, has good SQ and battery life.

      You can also look into the Sansa Clip players. They’re very popular as well.

  • Reply May 7, 2012

    Alex Constantine

    Hello Mike, I am so sorry that I posted the question at facebook…so I am here again.
    As same question, I am new, please recommend me that if I am always listen song like “Angel by Sarah McLachlan”, Which headphone is suitable for me at budget 350-650 US$.
    And if they need headphone amp or DAC, please recommend me, I will try those you recommend me at Munkonggadget in
    Thailand.
    Thank you….^^

    • Reply May 8, 2012

      Mike

      Alex,
      Try the Senn HD598. It’s very nice with soft relaxed vocals like that.

    • Reply May 9, 2012

      Mike

      Alex one more, the new AKG K550 should be good for that as well.

  • Reply May 9, 2012

    Johan

    Hello Mike
    I hope you are doing well. Thank you very much for an awesome blog with so much information.
    I love music so much, but I am new to the headphone thing. I have done some research and read up on some reviews and I have bought myself a pair of Monster Turbine Pro Gold IEM’s. I really love them. I like using them on the go, but honestly I still get interference from outside noises so I mostly enjoy them at home where it’s quiet. I thus most often listen to them from my MacBook Pro. I have been impressed by the sound, but the more I use them, the more I realize there are details missing and the mids are a bit messy. I came to know that this is because of the quality of the laptop’s DAC and amplifying circuit. I am now looking for a nice DAC and headphone amp that I would enjoy and was hoping you could recommend some. Here it is very difficult to find a shop with these so I could listen to them and find the one I like, however you have listened to a lot of them.
    I love classical music, the bigger more impressive stuff like full orchestras, pipe organ etc. but also individual instruments and choral music which has more detail. I also love “classical pop” like Josh Groban etc and also music from the likes of Nora Jones and Diana Krall etc. From time to time I listen to rock, but I am not very much into it. Please could you suggest some DAC’s and amps or a two-in-one system that would be suitable for my music. In total I am looking to spend around $320 or so. I like a little of everything (bass, mids and treble). I enjoy a warm musical sound (which the Turbine pro’s give me) yet with lots of detail. I like a large sound stage (as you so eloquently put it, who doesn’t).
    I would really appreciate any advice and if anyone else has opinions and experience, please do share.
    Thank you very much.

    • Reply May 9, 2012

      Johan

      Ooops. I posted this yesterday as well and didn’t see it again so I thought it didn’t go through, but now I see both posts 🙂 You can reply on any one. Tnx.

      • Reply May 9, 2012

        Mike

        Alright Johan, sorry for missing the earlier post. I’ve replied to the one below.

  • Reply May 9, 2012

    Mike

    Classical music, Josh Groban, Norah Jones, Diana Krall, try the new AKG K550 I think you’ll like it. Big spacious sound with a good instrument separation and vocals.

    As for the DAC and amp, I think you can squeeze in a Fiio E10. Won’t fit the budget but should be close.

    • Reply May 9, 2012

      Johan

      Hi Mike
      Thank you for the reply. Mmmm, I will keep the AKG in mind, however for the moment I already have the Monster Turbine Pro Gold so I will have to use that. Thus, the budget that I mentioned is available for DAC and amp. What do you think?

      Thank you and regards.

      • Reply May 10, 2012

        Mike

        Ah, I see what you’re saying.

        Well you don’t need too much of an amp.. so go with a one box DAC/Amp like the Fiio E17/E10?
        Or if you want try looking up for the Fostex HP-A3. Excellent DAC box but I’m not sure if you can get it for $300.
        http://www.headfonia.com/fostex-hp-a3/

        • Reply May 11, 2012

          Johan

          Thank you very much. How is the Fiio E17 sound for my type of music? The Fostex looks very nice, by the review that you have made. If I can find extra money I might go for that.

          • Reply May 11, 2012

            Mike

            The E17 is quite a good all rounder and should be fine with your music. The Fostex is better, but again, more money. 🙂

    • Reply May 9, 2012

      Trent_D

      How does the k550 compare with the M50 for classical?

      • Reply May 10, 2012

        D.r. Hilerio

        The K550 by a mile. The M50 won’t give you the clarity and detail in the highs and mids which the K550 seem specialized for.

      • Reply May 10, 2012

        Mike

        Better in a lot of aspect, Trent.

        • Reply May 10, 2012

          Trent_D

          So, if I could get a K550 new for 169, which I can, I should jump on it?

          • Reply May 10, 2012

            Mike

            You better do that and share us the link where you got it from 😉

            • Reply May 10, 2012

              Trent_D

              It is with a discount via my job. Of course, I find this out after I ordered the M50. Just a few bucks more for, what most people seem to think, is a better headphone in most all respects. How does the K550 compare on bass?

              • Reply May 10, 2012

                Mike

                The M50 has slightly more bass body but it’s muddier and more boomy.

                • Reply May 10, 2012

                  Trent_D

                  So, the K550 has slightly less bass, but what it has is clearer, tighter and punchier. It has a better soundstage, and better clarity across all frequencies. That sounds really nice. Any flaws you have encountered?

                  • Reply May 10, 2012

                    Mike

                    Flaws.. nothing too glaring. Housing reverb but I can live with it.

                    • May 10, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      Wow, your sentiments seem to be echoing the popular opinion on this headphone. Any particular dac or amp pairings jumping out at you, or should I just be patient for the review 🙂

                    • May 10, 2012

                      Mike

                      I’ve been using the K550 with:
                      – direct from Tera Player
                      – Bottlehead Crack
                      – RSA Dark Star

                      All with very good result.

                    • May 11, 2012

                      Antonio Marqués

                      Hi Mike. I own HD650 & AKG550 between others. Would Crack pair with both fine ? I was afraid it would be a little too much for the sensitive 550. If you think this is a good bet. Which DAC would you recommend then. Tks.

                    • May 11, 2012

                      L.

                      Hi Antonio,

                      Mike just mentioned elsewhere that he’s using the crack for the 650 and 550 with great results. Dac budget?

                    • May 11, 2012

                      L.

                      Hi Antonio,

                      Mike just mentioned elsewhere that he’s using the crack for the 650 and 550 with great results. Dac budget?

                    • May 11, 2012

                      Antonio Marqués

                      Thanks Lieven. I missed Mike´s comment on that. I would go for a 300 Euro Budget DAC together with Crack and mentioned headphones. Thanks

                    • May 11, 2012

                      Mike

                      Yes the Crack is fine. It hisses a little with the 550 but no problem once music starts playing.
                      DAC, check out the usual list: http://www.headfonia.com/source-recommendations/

  • Reply May 11, 2012

    Talha Ali

    Hey Mike. It would be great if you do a tutorial on recabling. Thank you!

    • Reply May 12, 2012

      Mike

      Good question, but first and foremost I think people need to practice their soldering skills first before attempting to recable a headphone. The thing with recabling is if you’re not quick with the solder, there is a big chance you’ll kill a driver. I killed one, once. It was an AKG K501 🙁

      • Reply June 6, 2012

        Ken Stuart

        For learning to do any skill, there is only word needed – Youtube.

        • Reply June 6, 2012

          Mike

          Yes, Youtube helps a lot.

  • I’ve been reading on Head-Fi and a lot of people claim that O2’s transparency is a great match to Denon’s D5000. That actually makes sense, since the D5000 is already a colored sounding headphone and SS amps would make a nice pair with it. I know that you and Lieven never had the chance to review the AH-DX000 series, but my question is: would you guys prefer the Audinst HUD-MX1 over the Objective 2 for low impedance cans like the D5000? JDSLabs is now offering the O2+ODAC pack for US$285, which is around a hundred bucks more compared to MX1’s price, so I would count the money on that decision. I know that it’s almost 60% more, but I don’t know if JDSLabs pack would offer 60% more on performance.

    • Reply May 11, 2012

      Mike

      I’ve heard the D5000 a few times, I’d still go with the Audinst over the O2. It just pairs better and more musical. Of course I don’t know how the ODAC sounds, so that can be an area where it’s better than the Audinst.

  • Reply May 11, 2012

    Antonio Marqués

    Yes, I also recommend AKG550 for that music. If it helps I use it with Mike´s suggestion, Fiio E10 and it works very well. I use bass boost setting on. Finding a good sealing on 550s is key factor to enjoy bass potential. I have to say small heads don´t get very good clamping force from the headband thus loosing sealing > bass. I use an elastic band removed from led headlight/torch to push the cups tighter. I know it´s weird and not very aesthetic but works for me (only at home, of course, hehe).

  • Reply May 12, 2012

    Trent_D

    I went ahead and ordered the k550 for 169.34 after shipping, and I can’t wait to get them (although I might have to as they are on backorder), but I have a question. The first thing I will want to upgrade will be my DAC. My computer actually sounds pretty good in and of itself, so I am thinking it would be worth it to wait and either go with the MS2+ or the Dacport LX, and use them with my Cmoy until I can afford a better amp. And their in lies my question. The K550, on paper, should be as easy to drive as my HD202, which doesn’t see much benefit connected to my Cmoy over my Ipod’s headphone out. What would, say, a Schiit Asgard bring to the table over a Cmoy, or c421 for a headphone that should be really easy to drive?

    Related question: both the enveloping analogue sound of the MS2+ and the clear, black background of the Dacport lx sound good to me. Since I listen to classical music almost exclusively, which do you think would pair better with the asgard (or the Cmoy) for that purpose?

    • Reply May 12, 2012

      Mike

      The K550 would still benefit with an amp. In the case of the Asgard vs C421, the Asgard is punchier, the C421 is more refined.

    • Reply May 14, 2012

      Mike

      I missed your question on the DAC.

      The MS2+ would play better with both ADD and DDD recordings. The Dacport LX, I don’t find so good with older ADD stuff due to the grain in the recordings sort of “being in opposites” with the clean LX sound. Whereas with the HRT MS2+ they sort of “blend” together.

  • Reply May 12, 2012

    Jack Harvey

    Hey Headfonia, I have a simple question. Should I go for a desktop rig?
    I am a student. I’ve been “playing” portable audio for a long time. I am thinking of transiting to desktop, is it really worth it? This is a tough and extremely controversial question, but just wanna hear your honest opinion on this. Thanks 🙂

    • Reply May 14, 2012

      Mike

      Okay money is always an issue.. what sort of a budget are we talking about here?

      I don’t know how high up the desktop chain you plan to go. It’s easy to recommend something basic like a Fiio E10. You plug the USB end to a computer, the headphone out to a headphone and you’re done without too much hassle. And despite being an entry level rig, it’s very enjoyable to listen to even to us who have big expensive desktop systems at home. It’s almost like the Grado SR-60 of the DAC/Amp world.

  • Reply May 12, 2012

    mahirosi96

    Hey Mike! i have a HD660 and i love it, but i want another headphone which offer a good bass and keep their balance
    *my budget it’s below the HD660
    **i know you’r from Indonesia, so you must be know how’s the price in here
    ***sorry i posted here.. it’s all because i cannot post at HD660’s page somehow..

    • Reply May 14, 2012

      Mike

      Tough to best the HD660 for less price. It’s already one of the best value headphone around.

  • Reply May 14, 2012

    Talha Ali

    Hey Mike,

    Great website here! I’ve read so many reviews over here that i’m confused between a few headphones. I listen to a lot of music especially ambient, trance, techno, house, rock, hard rock and classical. Mainly Boards of Canada, My Bloody Valentine, Daft Punk, Ludovico Einaudi, The Black Keys, m83, Led Zeppelin (hard rock bands), AvB, Tiesto, Paul Oakenfold, Justice, Kavinsky, etc etc.

    After reading your reviews I bought the V Jays for my day to day needs and have been in love with them since then. I also like making music and have a mini home set up. I was wondering what would you suggest between the ATH M50s, the Grado (sr80is, 125is and 325is), HD598s, Audio Technica Pro700 Mk2s, HD25-1 IIs.

    Hope you reply!

    Talha

    • Reply May 14, 2012

      Mike

      Talha,
      You listen to a wide range of music and it’s going to be hard to recommend one that’ll cover all of those.

      Maybe start with these two articles?

      A Guide to Headphones
      http://www.headfonia.com/a-guide-to-headphones/

      Full Size Headphones Recommendations
      http://www.headfonia.com/full-size-headphone-recommendations/

      • Reply May 14, 2012

        Talha Ali

        I did read them and I do not mind getting more than one. I was thinking the Grado sr80i for my rock urges, the HD 598s/HD25-1 IIs for my dance and club needs ( includingV Moda M-80 for classical too?)
        Was I of any help? :p

        • Reply May 14, 2012

          Mike

          For rock: Grado or HD25-1.
          Dance and Club: AIAIAI TMA-1 or ATH Pro700 Mk2.
          Classical: HD600/HD650.

          • Reply May 14, 2012

            Talha Ali

            Just ordered the HD25-1s..
            Have been into the likes of Justice and Daft Punk. Would ATH Pro700 Mk2 be too muffled for it?

            • Reply May 15, 2012

              Jeff Kong

              Hi Talha,I use my HD25s for daft punk and justice a fair bit…it goes very well. Pretty much anything with speed and isnt classical goes pretty well with them.

              • Reply May 15, 2012

                Talha Ali

                Thank you so much! It helps a great deal! Been listening to Mangetic Centrepiece for hours now.. Cheers again.

        • Reply May 14, 2012

          Rūdolfs Putniņš

          I’d take HD25-II for my bass quantity needs (electronic/rock/metal) and the HD598 for soundstage.

          • Reply May 14, 2012

            Mike

            Nice but I don’t think the HD25 works for Oakenfold, Tiesto stuff.

            • Reply May 14, 2012

              Rūdolfs Putniņš

              Sure, a dedicated basshead can will do better, but often they aren’t too good at anything else. HD25 is versatile and quite portable.

  • Reply May 15, 2012

    Trent_D

    If someone were using an asgard and the k550 (and high quality recordings, of course) would the difference between the MS2 and the MS2+ be noticeable?

    • Reply May 16, 2012

      Mike

      It should be noticeable, yes.

  • Reply May 15, 2012

    Tim Loke

    Hello Mike, any impressions on the Senn 4×9 series? I enjoyed the HD 202 a lot as per your recommendation. So I’m looking for something similar in sound signature. I’m quite sensitive to bright headphones, even the PX 200 II could make my ears ring after only one song.

    • Reply May 16, 2012

      Mike

      I tried the latest HD449 and I think it was a good headphone, solid sound. It’s more energetic and not as laid back as the HD202, and the bass is punchier on the 449. I really need to do a review on the HD4x9 series.

      • Reply May 16, 2012

        Tim Loke

        Would you say it’s as bright as PX 200 II?

  • Reply May 16, 2012

    dgiles

    I must replace my TTVJ Slim, it was recently stolen. I am considering the ALO Continental V2. I prefer a tube like sound and am drawn to a more analog sound. I was considering the Continental before my amp was misappropriated. But I noticed ALO just made available their MKIII. I have read Mike’s review of the Continental and his review of the SR71-B and his explanation of the shortcomings of a balanced amp. So I am leery about the MKIII, but also curious if the ALO engineers were able to make something other worldly special and something to trump the Continental. Please offer helpful advice before I spend $500-$600 on a new amp. Thanks a lot.

    • Reply May 16, 2012

      Mike

      I am still waiting for the Mk3 to be deliverd by FedEx. I will probably post something about it on Facbook once I have it. 🙂

  • Reply May 18, 2012

    Talha Ali

    Hey Mike,

    Have become a proud owner of the HD25 1-IIs and am loving them. Got them second hand with only 2 hourish of playtime. I feel a little let down by the bass though. Was testing them with some fast paced bass stuff like dubstep and stuff (a mistake?). Just wondering, I’m thinking of complementing them with a portable amp to make it a little warm and the bass more punchy (less than $100 ofcourse!)
    I was thinking of the Cmoy JDS Labs obviously but I’m torn in deciding between the JDS Labs and the AMB Labs Mini3..
    Any suggestion? Any other portable would be greatly helpful!

    Cheers!

    • Reply May 18, 2012

      Mike

      Talha,
      If you want more bass quantity, the Cmoy with the boost on will do that. If you want punchier bass, it’s the Mini3 but the sound is not as warm as the HD25-1.

      • Reply May 18, 2012

        Talha Ali

        I think (Do you?) that the Cmoy would be good in helping the cans out with the bass levels.
        Or should I just get the ATH Pro700 and use them for this type of music and not invest in a portable amp?

        You’ve been of tremendous help and I really appreciate it! Thank you sir!

        • Reply May 19, 2012

          Mike

          Well the Pro700 will be a bigger investment than a Cmoy is so that’s a factor to think about. If you don’t mind spending the money then yes it’s always good to start with the “right” headphone than try to tweak things to sound the way you want to.

  • Reply May 18, 2012

    dalethorn

    Here’s my recommendation, with a serious hedge worth considering. The Philips L1 has gotten good reviews “as is”, so there’s little risk there. But when I tried some bass reduction with the L1, the result sound was equal in fidelity to (but darker than) the Shure 1840, and the bass still stronger than the 1840, all the way down to 20 hz. So you get 2 headphones for the price of one.

    • Reply May 18, 2012

      Mike

      The L1’s sound signature is quite different than the SRH1840 IMO.

      • Reply May 18, 2012

        dalethorn

        It is different. Really different. The first issue is that fat bass on the L1 that obscures the rest of the range somewhat. Once you reduce the bass then things get much more interesting, that is, if you wanted to compare to a really lean ‘phone like the 1840 (not that you would want to necessarily, just sayin’)

        • Reply May 19, 2012

          Porky

          Thanks for the advice. L1 it is then. Honestly, I was
          leaning that way already, for all the wrong reasons (they look pretty and seem
          to be built like a tank) Part of me understands that L1’s are a compromise in
          every respect but the build quality: not quite a full sized nor a true
          portable, neither closed nor open, and “wide genre-bandwidth” sounds like a
          euphemism for “unsure what it wants to be sound-wise.” But coming from a world
          of $20 earbuds, I’m convinced that I’ll be impressed with what I hear even it’s
          only because I won’t know what I’ll be missing. Thanks again.

          • Reply May 19, 2012

            dalethorn

            Porky, you wouldn’t be disappointed coming from any $200 headphone that I know of. Just don’t be afraid to experiment. And BTW, although the L1 isn’t a *small* portable, I can wear it around my neck all day when not in use, earcups pulled all the way down and folded flat against my chest, and the lightweight cable tucked into my pocket. The cable can even be removed and put into a pocket or bag. Very portable.

        • Reply May 19, 2012

          Mike

          Yes but other things outside of the frequency response as well. For instance the SRH1840 is very grainy, the L1 is grainless. Also the background is blacker on the L1. I’m not saying that the L1 is a better headphone (I think the 1840 is, despite the less than powerful bass).

          • Reply May 19, 2012

            dalethorn

            Thanks Mike – Your impressions here concur with mine, which is interesting.

  • Reply May 19, 2012

    Noel

    Mike (or anybody):
    I’ve read here about the burn-in controversy, but what I want to know is, Do the sound and dynamics in earphones/headphones ever CHANGE at all, and FLUXUATE back and forth during their maiden period? I’ve had Sennheiser 280 in-ears for a few weeks now, have asked myself every damn psychological question, done every test I could, used every type of silicone tip, etc., and still these things vary in sound in a capricious enough way to…well, to bring me to your forum. So perhaps phones change as in progress toward their ultimate yada-yada — but is it at all normal for my bass and isolation to have sounded good a few days ago and sucky the past two days? On all kinds of music…and even when the highs sounded very, very good, so I knew that my seals and other factors were OK?
    Thank you!

    • Reply May 19, 2012

      Mike

      No I don’t think they fluctuate.. brand new, then they get better after a few hours and that’s when they’re at their top shape. As you wear them longer, the pads (especially velour) will deform and get mushy and sound quality suffers until the point where the pads are all soft and soundstage image is all over the place at that moment.

      Now, with in ears, sometimes you get a good fit and sometimes you don’t, so that’s one factor to consider. Another factor to consider is the recordings. Are you playing the same songs over and over again? If not, it can be the case of one recording being better than the other, hence the bass was “better” yesterday because the recording on that particular track was better.

  • Reply May 19, 2012

    dalethorn

    Anybody ever have a Vmoda Faders in their hands? It’s pretty amazing, a “high fidelity ear protector”, so I won’t say any more unless there’s a request.

  • Reply May 19, 2012

    Mark Ma

    Hi mike,
    I’ve been looking for a headphone/amp package or just headphone if it sounds good w/out an amp. After thinking about it, I feel like I enjoy stuff like Coldplay, Drake, Justin Timberlake and Talor Swift. I would like to stay in the sub $400 range including amp if applicable. They do not need to be portable and comfort is a must.
    Do you have any recommendations? I am open to anything. I listen out of my laptop mainly.
    The previous headphone I had was the V-moda LP2 which I found to have a little too much bass. Some cans I recently looked at were the Philips Fedelio, beyerdynamic DT 880 and 990 250 omhs, Audio-Technica ATH-M50, Sennheiser hd558, and senn amperior (upgraded hd 25) although I don’t think the amperiors will be really comfortable.

    • Reply May 20, 2012

      dalethorn

      The Philips L1 would be a big step up in quality over the Senns and AT’s, but the more expensive Beyers might compare better.

  • Reply May 20, 2012

    Alex

    Mike–

    I’ve been playing with a pair of modified Fostex T50RPs and am very impressed. What I’ve realized, though, is that my DacPort isn’t satisfying with them, sounding kind of wimpy. In comparison, the Audioengine D1 (also USB powered, via TosLink) sounds much more driving, full-bodied and generous, just a much more exciting presentation. The problem is that the D1 isn’t nearly as clear, detailed and transparent as the DacPort–it always sounds like a brownish veil exists between me and the music. Can you recommend a robust and powerful amp that sounds as clear as the DacPort (hopefully for not too much more money)?

    Thanks,
    Alex

    • Reply May 22, 2012

      Mike

      Alex,
      I think the Burson HA-160D or DS can be what you’re looking for. Generous power that should be more than enough for the T50RP, better technicalities than the Dacport, and a forward presentation. If the cost is too much, try looking into the amp only HA-160.

  • Reply May 21, 2012

    Chris Allen

    Hey Mike, wanted to know your thoughts on using the Fostex T50rp with the E10?

    • Reply May 22, 2012

      Mike

      Overall smooth and quite enjoyable except I found the combination to lack bass punch. Basically the T50RP is not very strong in bass punch, and so is the E10. With the Bass boost you get more bass quantity but not punch. Perhaps try the AMB Mini3.

  • Reply May 24, 2012

    Jonah_Chao

    Hey Mike,

    I know it’s been years since you reviewed the Koss ESP-950’s, but would you happen to know how it would fare against similarly priced products in today’s competition?

    The fact that you mentioned that the ESP-950’s rivals the RS1’s in technical capabilities, and would do well to complement the HD800’s almost seems too good to be true. I’d be interested in how it would compare to phones such as the HE500, LCD2, HD650, AD2000, etc.

    You already mentioned that it completely trumps the K701 in every aspect. Does this hold true for other headphones in the same price bracket (DT880, HD600, D2000, HE400, etc.)?

    I realize that electrostatics have a vastly different presentation in comparison to dynamics, so I’m more concerned on the technicalities.

    For reference, my current system consists of HRT MSII -> Matrix M-Stage -> D2000. I mainly listen to rock (mostly classic, and a bit of alternative and grunge), with some jazz/blues and classical music every so often. Would my current system hold a candle to the ESP-950 if I were to upgrade?

    I realize there are a lot of questions here, sorry! Thanks a lot for your time!

    Best regards,

    Jonah

    • Reply May 24, 2012

      Mike

      Jonah,
      I still think that the Koss is better than all of the lambda-frame Staxes I’ve reviewed (I haven’t tried the new Staxes though), so if you want to go to electrostats, I’d still recommend it highly. Just set a budget for a separate amp.

      The technicalities are good, but at the end of the day, I think people move away from Stats because they simply can’t get a good bass like they can with a dynamic or an orthodynamic. Say the comparison you’re asking with the K701 and the other comparable cans, the Koss is competitive, but like comparing even dynamics to dynamics, there is no one headphone with truly superior technicalities above all else.

      I think that at the moment the popular orthodynamics like the HE-500 and the LCD-2 have managed to bring the good things from stats and dynamics and that’s why they are very popular with the crowds. They still don’t quite mimic a true stat sound, and so in that sense nothing really truly replaces stats. However at the end of the day, after the honeymoon period with stats have passed, a lot of people find their sound still too specialized, and they ultimately want their bass back…

  • Reply May 25, 2012

    Víctor Hernández

    Hi mike

    Right now I’m in a very hard decision between the akg k340 and the Shure SRH 840. I can buy both for the same price… but the major problem is that the k340 needs a very good amplifier.

    I mostly hear classical and OST recordings (almost 95% of what I hear everyday)

    What do you think?

    • Reply May 25, 2012

      Mike

      Victor,
      The K340 has more glamour factor, being a famous vintage and that dynamic-electrostatic combination. However, it’s an old headphone and despite what the K340 fans say, its technicalities are below the level of the SRH840. Soundstage precision, frequency extension, micro details. There is also another problem with the K340 and that is the dynamic driver based low frequencies don’t quite match the electrostatic based high frequencies. It’s a common problem and everyone who’s added a subwoofer to a planar speaker set up know about this.

      It’s a good headphone to have in a collection just because it’s a unique concept, but I wouldn’t use it as my main headphone.

      As for the 840, if you can afford a 940, it’ll be better for classical and OST recordings. If not, the 840 is still very good.

      Or you can also look at the new AKG K550 if your budget allows it. Excellent for classical and OST, much better than the 840/940.

      • Reply May 25, 2012

        Víctor Hernández

        Thanks
        for the answer Mike.

        My
        main problem isn’t the budget (I can pay the 940 or the 550) but the
        availability. Since in my country the “audiophile” market isn’t
        that big. So, to get the 550 (new cans) I will need to import them
        (pushing the price around the double from the standard price). But in
        some months I think that I can get the K550, so you thing that the
        840 will do the job for some months until I can buy the 550?.

        Ah, some good amp for the 550?.

        Thanks
        in advance, Greetings.

        • Reply May 25, 2012

          Mike

          Well I wouldn’t pay double for the K550. It retails for $299 on Amazon and so I thought for some $100 extra from the 840, it will be worth it.
          Go ahead with the 840 it’s a fine headphone and you’ll enjoy it.

          I’ve been trying the 550 with different amps and it’s very enjoyable with almost anything I use with it. Very easy to drive.

          • Reply May 25, 2012

            Víctor Hernández

            Thanks
            Mike.

            I’m
            not going to pay the double. I’ll wait until some store sell the cans here
            and them buy it.

            Greetings

  • Reply May 26, 2012

    Igor Sryvkov

    I’d like to upgrade from my Koss Porta Pro and Klipsch S4. Should I go for the ATH-M50 “studio” or the Aiaiai TMA-1 “dj” as I listen a lot to harmony, a capella, and choral groups on a Sansa Fuze and a Sansa Clip? or do I choose a headphone described as “mid-range centric” or one having a “fun” sound? if the M50 or the TMA-1 are not the proper hps for my music genre, pls recommend in the $100 to $180 range. thanks loads.

    • Reply May 26, 2012

      Mike

      What is harmony? If you listen to a cappella and choral.. the M-50 is going to be far better than the TMA-1.

      • Reply May 28, 2012

        Igor Sryvkov

        thanks, Mike. I was told the best in my price range for vocals, especially a capella and choirs, would be the V-Moda M80 so let me chime in with others here and say I am also eagerly hoping you are sent one for a much-awaited review.

        • Reply May 28, 2012

          Mike

          Hi Igor,
          We have published M-80 review. I have listened to it and though I didn’t write the review, I agree with what Edd said on that review.
          I probably would still choose the ATH M-50 than the M-80 for your music.

  • Reply May 27, 2012

    sc_low

    Hi Mike,

    I’m planning to get the Sennheiser HD598 to pair up with the Dacport. Mainly will be listening to songs by whitney houston, celine dion, mariah carey etc (generally not any fast songs). I don’t plan to get the 600/650 because i believe that i wont be getting the full use out of it by pairing with Dacport. I currently own the hd25 and wanted to try something new. Please advice, or maybe other phones u would recommend? Anyone is free to post yr opinion. Thank you!

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Mike

      I think the HD598 would be nice for that. The DAcport should have no problem driving the HD650.

      • Reply May 29, 2012

        sc_low

        okay, thanks Mike for ur reply! 😉

  • Reply May 29, 2012

    Ken Stuart

    Mike – have you ever compared the headphone jack of a good quality “stereo system receiver” or “A/V receiver” (eg Onkyo) to a dedicated headphone amp? I’d be interested in any actual listening report on that.
    One thought is that some audiophiles prefer hooking their speakers to old 70s Marantz or Fischer receiver or “integrated amplifiers”, and I have to wonder if their headphone jacks also compare favorably to modern gear.

    • Reply May 29, 2012

      Mike

      Yes I have, though there are so many variations on the headphone jacks.
      For instance on a rather nice vintage McIntosh Integrated, the headphone jack was SO MUCH FUN. Full sounding mids and bass, very punchy and powerful bass, and the whole set up comes with a bass-mid-treble adjustment knob as well. Transparency and detail was not its strong point though.
      With the headphone jack on my Adcom GFP-565, the sound is airy and spacious, very pleasing but not so much bass punch and impact. I did install a socket on the headphone out op-amp and I enjoyed trying different op-amps on it.
      I’ve also tried the headphone jack on various vintage Pioneer-Technics-Teac-Sony-Sansui receivers and I think for most of them, generally the consensus is that they sound warm and full, but not so much detail and weak on soundstage.
      I had a thought to do a comparative review once to a modern headphone amp, but since the variations among the vintage receivers are quite wide, it’ll be hard to compare them all.

      • Reply May 31, 2012

        Ken Stuart

        Mike – thanks for that thoughtful reply on headphone jacks.
        So, are there any headphone amps (either desktop or portable) in the $200 and under range (roughly) that – from your recollection – exhibit better detail or soundstage than the average vintage receiver headphone jack?

        • Reply May 31, 2012

          Mike

          I think the Cmoy exhibit better detail than the average vintage receiver. 🙂

          But I think the point here is that a lot of these vintage receivers sound good. And often that’s more important than detail retrieval. They are usually warm sounding, with a full midrange and bass, and it’s hard not to like that kind of a sound (at least for me).

          • Reply June 1, 2012

            Ken Stuart

            I just now came across your review of the C421 amp, which would be relatively affordable as an add-on at $175.
            I’ve been auditioning the Shure SRH-1840 headphones directly from the rather high output of the HRT MS2 DAC (2.25 volts RMS).
            Given that I do not find it necessary to add an amp in order to get sufficient volume, is there some additional synergy that would provide improved sound quality by adding a C421 amp (even though in theory adding another component should deteriorate sound quality)?

            • Reply June 4, 2012

              Mike

              Ken,
              If you plug in the HRT MS2 directly to the 1840, you will get better detail retrieval than if you add in the amp in between. Simply, shorter signal path. It’s like plugging your headphone directly to a CD player’s line level out. However overlooking the superior detail level, you won’t get as good of a bass impact than if you add in an amp.

  • Reply May 29, 2012

    Gibran

    Hi Mike,

    There is something I am a little bit confused regarding the k550.
    You mentioned that k550 lacks bass but at the same time I read somewhere that the bass quantity of k550 is comparable to m50.
    I think I missed something here.
    Another thing, how’s k550 bass compared to hd598?
    Hope for your reply.
    Thanks 😀

    • Reply May 29, 2012

      Gibran

      Ops, sorry, I posted double. I thought my previous posts did not get through.

      • Reply May 29, 2012

        Mike

        Yes somehow we get a lot of double posts with the new Disqus.

        • Reply May 29, 2012

          Gibran

          Somehow after you press the post button, the post is not displayed at the top, but somewhere below.

          • Reply May 29, 2012

            Mike

            Thanks, I will look into that to see if anything can be done.

            • Reply May 29, 2012

              Gibran

              Man.. Look at my triple post above. Sorry dude. I pressed the post button three times, but things only show after I refresh the whole page.

              • Reply May 29, 2012

                Mike

                Yea that happens a lot with the new Disqus…

    • Reply May 29, 2012

      Mike

      The bass quantity is good, but it doesn’t have the punch and the impact.

      Likewise the M-50 has plenty of bass, a little bit more than the K550, but it’s not that punchy.

      I hope you understand the difference.

      • Reply May 29, 2012

        Gibran

        Thanks for the super quick reply.
        So, K550 is more punchy than M-50 and HD598? Just less quantity

        • Reply May 29, 2012

          Mike

          No they are all roughly about the same, maybe one a bit stronger than the other depending on the recording, but overall I would say that the bass punch are weak on all three headphones.

          • Reply May 29, 2012

            Gibran

            Ah, I see. Actually I am purchasing M50. Waiting for it to arrive. A lot of people praise m50 for its bass. Now you are making me think to get K550 instead, haha.
            Thanks 😀

          • Reply May 29, 2012

            Gibran

            Ah, I see. Actually I am purchasing M50. Waiting for it to arrive. A lot of people praise m50 for its bass. Now you are making me think to get K550 instead, haha.
            Thanks 😀

          • Reply May 29, 2012

            Gibran

            Ah, I see. Actually I am purchasing M50. Waiting for it to arrive. A lot of people praise m50 for its bass. Now you are making me think to get K550 instead, haha.
            Thanks 😀

            • Reply May 29, 2012

              Mike

              Honestly I don’t understand why people praise the M-50’s bass. It’s a bit boomy, loose, not that punchy. The M-50 is good but not because of the bass.

              • Reply May 29, 2012

                Gibran

                I guess the same thing like the Beats? Beats’ bass booms just like those bassy car audios, haha.
                I never really heard a very high end audio equipment, though. So myself never really experience what a bass should be like. Have to try one day.

                • Reply May 29, 2012

                  Mike

                  I don’t think this have to do with high end audio. You can get something relatively affordable like the AKG K518DJ and get a strong bass punch.

                  • Reply May 29, 2012

                    Gibran

                    I see. That’s exciting. I really need to dig up some more.

                    • May 29, 2012

                      Mike

                      Hey, about the duplicate posts. What’s the problem that you’re having that’s causing them?

                    • May 29, 2012

                      Gibran

                      Ah, I did it again… Basically, the screen does not update after you press the post button. Nothing happens at all. As if you didn’t press the button. So, I guess, most people will try to press the post button again. I am using Mozilla btw, if that can help.

                    • May 29, 2012

                      Mike

                      Alright, thanks Gibran.

                    • May 29, 2012

                      Gibran

                      Glad if I can help :D. This is such a great website.

                  • Reply May 29, 2012

                    Gibran

                    I see. That’s exciting. I really need to dig up some more.

              • Reply June 1, 2012

                Trent_D

                Finally having put the K550 through the paces myself, it has less body in the bass than the m-50, but it is tighter.

                • Reply June 4, 2012

                  Mike

                  Yes that’s what I heard too.

  • Reply May 29, 2012

    Mike

    No Danta, Sorry.

  • Reply May 30, 2012

    Barry Rosekind

    will you possibly be reviewing JDS labs o2 dac in the near future? i am trying to decide on a dac in that price range so my options are that or the hrt MS2.

    • Reply May 30, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Barry
      I’m sorry but we’re leaning towards a no. The reception we get the last time was really nasty.

      • Reply May 30, 2012

        Trent_D

        That stinks. I don’t blame you though, as the comment boards for the O2 became really unpleasant. Healthy disagreement and debate is one thing, but that got very disrespectful. The sad thing is that the O2 and the ODAC are very interesting products, and I would love to see a review of the ODAC.

        • Reply May 31, 2012

          Mike

          😉

          Well the ODAC review, hypothetically speaking, if it turns out less than stellar, you can probably guess what’s going to happen.

          • Reply May 31, 2012

            Trent_D

            The O2 review wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t the home run certain people needed to see.

            • Reply May 31, 2012

              Mike

              Exactly! It was a good review in my opinion, but no amps are perfect.

              • Reply June 1, 2012

                Ken Stuart

                I’ve been an audiophile and a science student turned engineer since the early 70s, and I have never seen the level of irrational hatred of audiophiles as I see now. Of course, it is the Internet that allows such a phenomena to grow due to endless positive feedback from other fanatics, and shouting down of any contrary viewpoints.

                In this case, the idea “our side is objective rational science and their side is irrational nonsense” makes their brains immune to any rational scientific evidence against their point of view. So, their viewpoint has become a fundamentalist religion.

                Usually the discussions end up boiling down to “double blind tests”.

                Okay, so logically those tests either work or they don’t work (to telll us whether there is a true difference). But if they don’t work, HOW WOULD YOU KNOW ? You would need some better test, and then you would not need double blind testing.

                For anything to be scientific, it needs a way of verification, and double blind testing cannot be verified. Since double blind testing has nothing that can verify its results, the belief that it is an ultimate test is a religion.

                This is clearly shown by the anguished responses to any scientific arguments against “objective” testing, the exact same you get from any other challenges to someone’s religion.

                • Reply June 1, 2012

                  dalethorn

                  I said this at headfi a year ago in the science section and got banned, so here again: Subliminal things don’t work well in blind testing, which by its nature prefers conscious reactions.

                  • Reply June 4, 2012

                    Mike

                    True. There are a lot of factors that need to be considered on in doing a proper blind test.
                    Some things, you pick up after long term listening up to several days. Almost impossible to do a blind test given these sort of circumstances.

                    • June 4, 2012

                      alejandro vidal

                      You can do a blind test and listen for as long or as short as you want (though it’s usually harder to pick up differences on long listening sessions).

                • Reply June 1, 2012

                  alejandro vidal

                  “For anything to be scientific, it needs a way of verification, and double blind testing cannot be verified. Since double blind testing has nothing that can verify its results, the belief that it is an ultimate test is a religion.”

                  so what better way would you suggest to verify audible differences between cables, amps, dacs, etc.? (and how is sighted listening in any way better for assessing this differences?)

                  also, you do not need to “verify” blind testing provided that its premises are logically correct and that its results don’t contradict previously known aspects of reality.

                  • Reply June 1, 2012

                    Ken Stuart

                    Listening is not just better, it is the only way. Why?
                    Think of a race car. Any number of times, top designers use advanced computer modeling to produce a car that is “definitely going to be faster”. Then the driver takes the car out to the track, only to find that it is half a second slower than the previous one.
                    In a similar way, the end result of all audio design is for humans to listen to music with their ears. So, the only possible way to evaluate anything is by the end result.
                    Side note – premises can be “logically correct” and not apply to actual reality:

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno%27s_paradoxes

                    Lastly, another page for double-blind test fans:

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

                    BTW, the claims that listening tests are subject to bias and placebo effect are certainly true, and readers of reviews are advised to be alert for that possibility.

                    • June 1, 2012

                      alejandro vidal

                      I agree that listening you can better evaluate the end result of the audio chain, but in what way is sighted listening better than blind listening (given the unreliability of our sensory system)?

                    • June 1, 2012

                      dalethorn

                      Here’s something to think about if you have the interest, but please don’t react before you have investigated or unless you are familiar with the subject. In the military we learned about something called off-center vision for “seeing” at night in apparent total darkness. It works. My hearing of small details in sound often works in a similar way. Increasing my concentration usually obscures the details that I hear better when relaxed and not focusing directly. This is why I think you need to run tests that get input from a broader range of people over a period of time with good statistical analysis, instead of trying focused DBT in a fixed place at a fixed time with a limited group of test subjects. Subliminal information cannot be picked up in DBT, by its very definition.

                    • June 2, 2012

                      Ken Stuart

                      I am only getting the meaning of “sighted listening” by context, but if you mean comparing two bottles of wine blindfolded as opposed to knowing in advance which wine was poured, then I do not see any advantage to knowing. In fact, the first time a California wine beat a French wine in a major testing was when the taster did not know what was in each glass.
                      So, similarly, a blindfolded headphone test would be more likely to eliminate bias and placebo effect.
                      The problems arise when you get more complicated, like double blind tests and ABX tests, because you need a way in which to verify that the mechnism is not affecting the judging process, and all those sorts of things are so complicated and restricted that they could affect the results.
                      But just single blind tests are fine.
                      For example, one could take the 02 headphone amp and the C421 headphone amp and mount both of them in identical larger cases with generic headphone jacks, knobs etc. Then someone like Mike could spend weeks using one box – marked Amp A – and another identical one – marked Amp B – for weeks in normal listening situations
                      It is only when tests change the listening method that there is a problem.

                  • Reply June 1, 2012

                    dalethorn

                    Most of the difference in cables and amps is going to be subliminal. How will blind testing pick that up?

                    • June 1, 2012

                      alejandro vidal

                      if the difference (subliminal or not) is in the actual sound then it should pick it up, as a matter of fact I don’t think you can even establish the existence a “subliminal audio effect” without DBT.

                    • June 1, 2012

                      dalethorn

                      If DBT requires conscious attention to differences, then it will not account for subliminals, by definition.

                    • June 1, 2012

                      alejandro vidal

                      sighted listening in a review context requires conscious attention to differences and details as well, how could you possibly describe differences in sound that you are not consciously aware of (because they are supposed to be subliminal)?

                      Subliminal effects have been established by looking at the brain activity reaction to different stimulus and not telling the subjects if the stimulus is actually different, if you where to tell the subject that there is a difference in the stimulus you would have no way to discern between expectation bias and subliminal effect.

                • Reply June 4, 2012

                  Mike

                  Good post, Ken.

                  Truth is, everybody chooses what they want to belief and build their arguments around that.

    • Reply May 31, 2012

      dalethorn

      The O2 promo discussions remind me a lot of the promotion that Henry Kloss did for his “Small Advent” loudspeaker many years ago. He had a real winner with the original speaker, albeit other than fantastic bass for the price it was otherwise bland sounding. Then he marketed the Small speaker as having “The same bandwidth as the original larger speaker.” Oopsie – the critical reviews got to the point really quick with “Response at 32 hz was mostly doubling.” And I thought I could trust the guy. So fast forward to 2012 and I have the O2 – and it sounds really good. And in some respects relating to simplicity of design it may even be a real breakthrough like Kloss’ original speaker. But too many people have tried to stretch “good value” and “engineering achievement” beyond a reasonable limit. I can only wish that the design guy will make more good designs and keep the claims modest – let the reviewers do the exaggerations.

  • Reply May 30, 2012

    jjhfhj ghmhg

    Hi Mike,

    I’m looking for the best & most natural-sounding a headphone which doesn’t add external qualities to the music as much as possible) headphone and an amp for about 600 $ for listening to Ambient/Noise music & I have come to these:

    Hifiman HE-400
    Shure SRH-1840
    Sennheiser HD 600
    AKG K550
    AKG Q701
    Stax SRS-2170

    If none of them are good enough, which headphone (& amp) do you recommend?

    Thanks in advance

    • Reply May 30, 2012

      Mike

      One answer:
      Beyer DT880 600 ohm.

  • Reply May 30, 2012

    John123John

    Hey mike,
    Comparison on Triple Fi 10 and Shure 215?

    • Reply May 30, 2012

      Mike

      If you want bass, fast pace, rock, then it’s the TF10.

      The Shure 215 is warm, full mids, moderate pace.

  • Reply May 30, 2012

    jjhfhj ghmhg

    Sorry, but when I said most natural-sounded , I didn’t mean that much of naturalness .If you consider this point, you still recommend DT880?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Reply May 30, 2012

      Mike

      The word natural means different things to different people.. It’s really hard for me to know what you really mean. But if you want something that doesn’t add anything to the music, you can try the DT880 Beyerdynamic.

      • Reply May 31, 2012

        jjhfhj ghmhg

        Thanks.
        I was afraid to choose DT880 because some people say it’s not able of nice sub-bass and somewhat lacking weight through the mids and also it’s a little bit treblish. But if you say it’s good enough for AMBIENT/NOISE music, I’ll get it. But you forgot to recommend an amp too?

  • Reply May 31, 2012

    Chris Allen

    Hey Mike!
    I was wondering how the HD598 would compare to the
    ESW-9?

    • Reply May 31, 2012

      Mike

      Briefly,
      The ESW-9 I think has a better tonal balance, smaller soundstage, less grain, more bass.
      The HD598 is more airy, sweeter mids, more spacious, less bass, more grainy, more accurate imaging, more soundstage depth, more mid centric.

      Hope that helps.

  • Reply May 31, 2012

    Alfred

    I plan to buy a JKDAC32 and are looking for a desktop amp to match. I listen to mostly electronic house music. I’ve been looking into the Apex Butte and like the formfactor. You write that the Burson HA160 is better for fast paced music. I think it’s a little big and don’t really like the shiny silver style. I have the HD-25 MKII and Beyerdynamic DT-1350 and plan to buy a T1 or a LCD-2 as well.

    Do you have any other amp suggestions? The budget is around €500.

    Thanks

  • Reply June 2, 2012

    John123John

    yo mike, I have a question about amps.

    So what are the requirements for a speaker amp vs a headphone amp? Can the asgard, cmoy or darkstar drive passive speakers?

    Thanks

    • Reply June 4, 2012

      Mike

      John,
      Mostly power demands. Speakers need a lot more power to run. They are physically bigger, they move more air, they need to move those air over bigger distance than with headphones.

  • Reply June 2, 2012

    John123John

    Yo mike,

    Thinking about doing a review of the ODAC? probably compare it to the Dacport. yea cool?

    Thanks.

  • Reply June 2, 2012

    John123John

    Yo mike,

    Thinking about doing a review of the ODAC? probably compare it to the Dacport. yea cool?

    Thanks.

  • Reply June 4, 2012

    Eagle1776

    Double Post! Doh!

  • Reply June 4, 2012

    Eagle1776

    I’ve found myself with nothing except an ipod classic. I went a certain direction and then found it wasn’t for me, sold some stuff, and am back looking for a couple recommendations. I’ve got about $700 total.

    I’ve owned the HD600 several times (either w/ E9 or O2) and really enjoyed it, though they are a little dark and a little uncomfortable for me. Considering getting them again but would like to see what options are out there. There’s a lot of stuff I’ve never looked at (Hifiman, new Shures, AKG-K550). I really don’t like recessed mids. I found the K701 lifeless and sterile, the D2000 good for its price but a little sloppy w/ recessed mids, the DT880 not bad but the treble was kind of metallic or maybe fabricated, the M50 kind of silly for classical, the M80 not bad for vocal stuff but uncomfortable and poor isolation and the HD25 uncomfortable and really only fantastic for rock.

    I think I’d like to split my funds between an open and a closed pair, though if there is an option that is just stellar for me that is more expensive, I could buy a cheap pair of over ears/in ears for portable. Probably 4/5 of my listening can be open, 1/5 closed. I listen tons of classical (strings, quartets and some symphonies), folk and jazz. A little rock on the side. The HD600 is a good sound for me, but I’m interested in a darker background and clarity. I guess I want to see if time has improved on the HD600.

    Thanks for any recommendations!

    • Reply June 4, 2012

      dalethorn

      The Philips L1 sounds excellent with bass reduction (and the bass is strong and full all the way down with bass reduction). The Shure 1440/1840 has light bass compared to a 650 or a bass-reduced L1.

    • Reply June 4, 2012

      Mike

      You really know what you want, but I hate to say that it’s going to be hard to find one that fits your criteria.

      The Philips L1 and the AKG K550 both have a darker background and excellent clarity, but the mids are less forward than on the HD600.

      I think you may want to try the HD650 out of a desktop set up. It has a darker background and have better separation than the HD600, but you should be using a good desktop set up for it.

      Budget somewhere around $1K for the DAC/Amp set up for the HD650 and you’ll get a pretty good black background sound with it.

      The KingRex DAC is excellent for the price and gives an extremely black background:
      http://www.headfonia.com/black-holes-and-revelations-kingrex-ud384-dac-and-upower-psu/

      And for the amp, go with the Bottlehead Crack. I’m going to be publishing a review of the Crack this week.

  • Reply June 5, 2012

    Pkrdlr

    Hi, Headphonia, Glad I found your site the reviews and insights are great for a newbie like me.Using Rule #3: More Headphones Is Better Than One Headphone, My budget is $300.00 for 2 headphones. One for Classical and the other for Classic Rock. Your advice is greatly need and appreciated.For now my only source is the headphone out from my Onkyo C7030 cd player until I can afford a dedicated amp in about 1-2 months.I don’t mind buying used.Also if you have any advice for a desktop amp under $300 ( w/o a dac ) for down the road that would be great also.Thank you for your time.

    • Reply June 5, 2012

      Mike

      $300 for two headphones. That’s not easy.

      Say an Allesandro MS-1 for classic rock. ~$100
      And for classical, something like the Shure SRH-840

      or you can get the Senn HD600, I think it covers both classic rock and classical pretty well.
      For the desktop amp, either get the Schiit Asgard (search for Schiit on the website’s search box) or the Bottlehead Crack (review currently on the front page)

      • Reply June 5, 2012

        Pkrdlr

        Mike, Thank you for your help with my question.

  • Reply June 5, 2012

    Jonah_Chao

    Hey Mike (and Lieven!),

    I’ve read through your review on the Shure SRH1440/1840, and thought it was great. However, I noticed that you mostly compared the 1440’s with it’s superior sibling, and briefly touched upon how it compared with the HD600’s.

    How do you think the SRH1440’s compete with other models within the same price range, such as the HE400, HD650’s, K701, DT880, etc?

    I’m asking because I feel like upgrading from my current headphones (D2000), as I find the mids to be too recessed (the vocals seem too distant and “sucked out” from the rest of the music). So, I think the more appropriate question to ask is which one of these phones (or any others) would suit me best?

    I primarily listen to rock (mainly classic, but some grunge, hard and alternative), though I also enjoy classical, blues/jazz, down-tempo, trip-hop, and a little bit of acoustic.

    Basically, I’d like to know which all-rounder would be best-suited to my tastes (which I realize are kind of all over the place, sorry!) within the $300-$500 price bracket.

    My current system consists of HRT MSII -> Matrix M-stage -> D2000’s, though I have no desire to upgrade my other components unless absolutely necessary.

    Thanks a lot, guys!

    • Reply June 5, 2012

      Mike

      Hey Jonah,
      Yes the reasoning behind that is that with every new headphone release in the market, we feel that it’s going to be too tedious to do a brand-by-brand comparison. The matrix will get very big and I don’t think people will enjoy reading it. Additionally, we feel that the majority of people who reads this site already have an idea of how most common headphones sound, and so we’ll only draw comparisons with headphones that relate well. In the case of the 1840-1440, I feel that the HD600-650 is a good base of comparison.

      On the vocals question, you can find it on the review that the 1440 is more forward, but the overall vocal quality is better on the 1840.

      I think it’ll be hard to recommend the 1840 for hard rock, down-tempo and trip-hop. Mostly it’s going to be good for the classic rock, grunge, alt, classical, blues/jazz, acoustic.

  • Reply June 6, 2012

    Ken Stuart

    Mike – I did a search on this question, and have not come across it asked before, so… Can you compare the AKG K550, the V-Mode M80, and the Philips Fidelio L1 ? (since they are all new, all similarly priced, and all either closed or semi-closed) Thanks !

    • Reply June 6, 2012

      Mike

      Ken, briefly:

      K550: Biggest soundstage, dark sound, fairly linear top to bottom, slight recessed mids, moderate pace, laid back. L1: Medium soundstage, dark sound, fairly linear but a little bass heavy, moderately forward, good pace, good PRaT, good bass punch. M80: Smallest soundstage, less dark than the other two, fairly linear with slightly recessed mids, fastest pace of the three, great PRaT, good bass punch.

      • Reply June 6, 2012

        Ken Stuart

        What about just in terms of “____ is better for ___ while ___ is better for ___ ” ? Thanks !

        • Reply June 6, 2012

          Mike

          Generally, the faster the pace of the headphone and the better the PRaT, the better it is for fast Rock. The slower the pace, the better it is for medium paced music, acoustics, jazz and such.

  • Reply June 8, 2012

    Mutnat

    Hey guys, any plans to review the Focal Spirit One closed cans?

    • Reply June 8, 2012

      L.

      There might be yes

  • Reply June 8, 2012

    Harsya Fadilla

    Hey mike, can I ask for some advice… so I’m looking for a new headphone, I’m gonna be using it for Movie Musical Score which means it’s all about soundstage, strings, big band and such, probably wont be too far from classical music… I’m currently considering Audio Technica AD700 and A superlux HD668B.. which one should I get? do you have any other suggestion under 100$/roughly 1jt rupiah… (I can get ad700 for that price, used though),

    Thanks,

    • Reply June 8, 2012

      Mike

      Better to go with the AD700, or AD900 if you can.

  • Reply June 9, 2012

    masoud ekhtesasi

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for your great website and for your time. I have a pairs of Hifiman HE-400 (+Objective2) and I listen mostly to Drone doom, Funeral Doom & Sludge, but it lacks the clarity, accuracy and neutrality that i want (and also its soundstage is not that deep and accurate). I like it, but I don’t love it. After reading your site, I’ve come to these three:

    Koss ESP-950 Electrostatic System
    Audio Technica ATH-A1000X
    Sennheiser HD600

    Are they better than my current headphone? If no, can you recommend me another one? and if yes, which amp do you recommend to use with them?

    Thanks

    • Reply June 11, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Masoud,
      Headphones are not “better” as in the absolute sense. You will always find that they are better in one area and less so in another area. Those three headphones are good, I think you need to give them a try. The HD600 is perhaps the most popular out of the three, and so if you don’t have a chance to audition them, I would recommend to start with the HD600.

      • Reply June 11, 2012

        masoud ekhtesasi

        Thank you Mike.

        Maybe the reason that I don’t love HE-400’s sound is that I used to DT880’s sound. I was in love with their great sound. But, it broke and I got HE-400 instead. IMO they are in opposite sides. Of course HE-400’s sub-bass is amazing and its treble is a little bit less shiny & annoying, but it lacks the detail, both in bass area and treble area. But as you’ve said I should try HD600. Can you recommend me an amp that makes HD600’s treble a little bit less grainy, please?

        Thanks in advance

        • Reply June 11, 2012

          Mike

          Masoud,
          The Bottlehead Crack is one of the cleanest amp I’ve listened to.

          • Reply June 12, 2012

            masoud ekhtesasi

            Sorry Mike, But just as a question I own Asgard & Objective2. Is The Bottlehead Crack a huge difference? You know it’s a kit and I don’t know anything about this kinds of stuff.

            Thanks

            • Reply June 12, 2012

              Mike

              Yes the difference is pretty big.

              • Reply June 12, 2012

                Trent_D

                I don’t know. Have you tried the O2 vs the Crack in a double blind test 😉

                • Reply June 12, 2012

                  Mike

                  Damn is that a trick question or what? 😉

                  • Reply June 12, 2012

                    Trent_D

                    I have to say, I am still really curious as to how the O2 and ODAC sounds. I might have to try them for myself.

                    • June 12, 2012

                      Mike

                      Alright man.

                    • June 12, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      I would offer to write my impressions if I do, but I don’t want people to threaten my children if it doesn’t blow me away.

                    • June 13, 2012

                      dalethorn

                      I filed the serial number off of my O2. Just in case.

                    • June 13, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      You were fond of the O2, were you not? As someone who loves clarity and detail with his classical music, how do you think the O2 would do?

                    • June 13, 2012

                      dalethorn

                      I’m using the O2 now with my ipod touch and a istreamer DAC. Funny you mention classical and clarity/detail. I just got a SACD (with CD layer) of Beethoven 9 by the Minnesota Orchestra and conductor Osmo Vanska. With the ATH M50 headphone it sounded slightly dull or something – hard to pin down – probably too much floppy bass. Anyway switch to the Shure 1840 headphone and what an amazing difference. It sounded more like live music than anything I’ve heard in a long time. You know that live sound – doesn’t have quite the high freq. sparkle all over everything like most commercial CD’s. Simply marvelous. And when the bells, triangles, other percussion cuts in – it’s all there. Total detail. Just not the boosted highs. Love it.
                      Once I got the mental picture I switched back to the M50 and then I could hear everything better. So I highly recommend the recording, and as for the O2, I think it does good basic repro on everything I’ve played – clean, clear, reasonable balance of lows to highs and detail. But the only amps I’ve compared it to were an old $400 Headroom amp and the Cute Beyond by Firestone. I’m going to shop for awhile before I upgrade the amp since the O2 works well, and it seems from the reviews that different amps have almost unpredictable reactions to any given headphone.

                    • June 13, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      Hehe, not only do I have the full set of the Vanska Beethoven cycle, but I am a season ticket holder with the Minnesota Orchestra. Excellent choice!
                      As for the O2, I have the K550 and that took me a while to save up for, so the O2+ODAC is tempting because of the proposed quality for the price. It is a Cmoy and the headstage cable dac right now.

                    • June 13, 2012

                      dalethorn

                      This is so good to hear – I got some downloads of live recordings already from the Minnesota site, so eventually I should have a pretty good selection of their music. I hope other music venues pick up on this idea of offering these different formats, as well as live and non-live recordings.

                    • June 13, 2012

                      Mike

                      It’s a pity that the Vanska Beethoven set sounds so compressed. I can’t help but feeling as if they recorded that on a closed mic set up.

                      And I don’t know, I think Vanska’s style sounds too stiff for me. Lacks flow. Just my amateurish sense.

                    • June 13, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      Vanska seems to be a love him or leave him conductor. I love his Beethoven cycle. I know others who don’t. I read rave reviews of his performances, and I read less then stellar. Although, if those haters listen to his cycle and that of another conductors in a double blind test, I doubt they could tell the difference.

                    • June 14, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      The blind test line was a joke, just in case someone took it seriously.

                    • June 14, 2012

                      dalethorn

                      I enjoyed it.

                    • June 13, 2012

                      dalethorn

                      I read a review on a piano set once that described the playing technique as like working with an ice pick. It left an indelible impression that carries over to other things. Now I wouldn’t describe Vanska’s technique as ice-pick-like, but on some of those sudden breaks to a short and soft, slow passage, he does pick over the notes as though he’s afraid to sound rushed as so many(!) conductors have. As to the mic placements, Vanska’s Beethoven does sound really different, but try switching headphones or speaker placement and you may discover it not only doesn’t sound compressed, but sounds like live music in a less-reflective space. This type of sound can be a real fooler sometimes.

                    • June 13, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      I believe they were recorded in Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. Amazing acoustics in that place. What I love about his cycle, is that he isn’t afraid to be extreme in dynamic range. When the music is suppose to be quiet, it whispers. When it is suppose to be loud, it thunders. Really different from what most recordings do today.

                      I agree that Vanska does take take his time in pacing his symphonies (I believe he was very faithful to Beethoven’s tempo markings, but don’t quote me on that). But just like you need to know quiet to really appreciate loud, you need slow to really enjoy fast. When the tempo really starts to move (4th movement of his the 5th symphony), it cooks.

                      And I listen to this music with headphones. So now, it is a justifiable headfonia post.

                    • June 13, 2012

                      dalethorn

                      I find the pacing OK in general, but the light, soft “tick tick tick” parts do need to be more fluid. I’m curious also now to hear more commentary on the micing and impressions of the soundstage from different people using different gear.

                    • June 14, 2012

                      Trent_D

                      The only difference between professional sense and amateur sense is the professional sense gets paid.

  • Reply June 10, 2012

    Johnathon Williamson

    Hi Mike and Lieven,

    I am in the market for a new IEM. I currently use my Sennheiser HD25-1 II as a portable headphone, along with an iPod Classic; and I’m in love with the sound, but I’d prefer to just leave them at home and not have something around my neck at all times when I’m out. I’m looking for an IEM that sounds as similar as possible to the HD25 (maybe with better sub-bass extension, though). My budget is around $300. Any suggestions?

    • Reply June 11, 2012

      Mike

      Johnathon,
      Sorry I can’t think of any.. I haven’t been into IEMs for a while now.

    • Reply June 11, 2012

      L.

      Try the Fischer Audio Eterna Rev 1 or 2. Excellent value and Sennlike sound for a fifth of your budget

      • Reply June 11, 2012

        Johnathon Williamson

        Lieven,

        Thanks for the suggestion, but the Eterna seems to be more similar to the Sennheiser house sound, warm and laid back. The HD25 doesn’t stick with the typical sound of other Sennheiser headphones, its brighter and more forward and “Grado-like”.

        • Reply June 11, 2012

          L.

          That’s exactly why I put “Sennheiser” 😉

    • Reply June 12, 2012

      Mike

      Maybe the DBA-02 is a bit like the HD25-1. They updated it a while ago I think, but I haven’t been following it.

  • Reply June 11, 2012

    Fauaad Anees

    Hey there, I have a warranty related query this time. My Sennheiser PX 100-II developed a problem and I sent them in for repair (they have over a year of warranty still left). However, the people at my local Sennheiser say that they need to ship the product to Singapore for repair and that I have to pay the courier cost.
    I just wanted to know, are they right to do that? I can’t find it anywhere in the terms and conditions that I have to pay the courier cost, plus they didn’t tell me that when I bought my headphones either.

    • Reply June 12, 2012

      Mike

      Fauaad,
      It’s very difficult to judge and I’m in no position to make that call.

      • Reply June 12, 2012

        Fauaad Anees

        Whats the usual procedure for stuff like headphones? Have you ever sent in anything for repair on warranty?

        • Reply June 12, 2012

          Mike

          Not on warranty, but I broke an ATH headphone last year and they had to order the parts from Japan which took them a few months.

    • Reply June 12, 2012

      Mike

      Fauaad,
      It’s very difficult to judge and I’m in no position to make that call.

  • Reply June 12, 2012

    John123John

    What is a recommended product that can connect to both headphones and an active speaker simultaneously”

    like a dac that has two outputs or an amp with headphone jack and line-out/pre-amp.

    not really sure what the difference between line-out and pre-amp are either…
    line-out: where the volume is controlled by the next amplifier.
    pre-amp: to connect to amps together? idk.. something with a turntable. who knows.

    Thanks!

    • Reply June 12, 2012

      Mike

      Pre amp out and line out I think are just different names for the same thing.

      You can get a DAC like the Fiio E10 that has both line out and headphone out.

      • Reply June 13, 2012

        John123John

        Anything a little more dedicated? I currently have the Schiit Asgard so Im mainly looking for a Dac with two (switchable) outputs.

        • Reply June 13, 2012

          John123John

          I see the Burson 160D, Dacmini and Audinst mx1. Might have to settle for the mx1 due to the first two being SO expensive. jeez. I need that digital input though….

          • Reply June 14, 2012

            Mike

            Yes that’s true. Worth to mention that with the Burson 160D and Audinst, the pre-out and the headphone out won’t run together simultaneously. I’m not sure about the Dacmini.

  • Reply June 13, 2012

    dalethorn

    I presume Mike has the 4-1-1 on the V-MODA vamp by now….?

  • Reply June 13, 2012

    Chris Allen

    Hey Guys,

    I was just lent the HiFiMAN EF2A with both the stock tubes and some Mullard CV4010 tubes. Using this amp with HD280 PRO, I think I found a decent amp with PRaT, refinement, and Hi-Gain (my only con). Not to mention the mids are much more energetic and forward, while almost being full. The Treble has become sparkly, but not to the point where it is too harsh.

    Anyways, I hope I described it somewhat accurately, but I really wanted to know if you guys have tried HiFiMAN’s little “budget” amp and if so, what were your thoughts on it? 🙂

    Thanks,
    Chris

  • Reply June 13, 2012

    Harsya Fadilla

    hey Mike and Lieven,

    I asked you about AD700 and 668B, which is better for musical score.. and you said that the AD700. What I wanted to ask is, if I include another phones, the akg k240 sextett.. which one you think will be better for movie musical score? I know it will be a little harder to drive, but lets just put that aside cause I think I have the equip’ that can drive it..

    thanks!

  • Reply June 13, 2012

    Tom Kinsella

    Hi Mike

    I’m wondering if an Audio Technica ATH-ES10 would benefit from a JDSLab C421 for on the go, most genres of music or would a ALO National be better?

    And if I had one of those would there be much point in getting a Schiit Asgard for my desktop?

    I also have the Sennheiser HD598, ordered the AKG K550 and will probably be getting the Ultrasone Signature Pro HPs in the future; If you have any thoughts on those?

    Also have the Titanium HD Sound Card in desktop.
    Fiio E17.
    cMoyBB.

    Thank you.

  • Reply June 13, 2012

    Victor Yu

    Hi Mike, do you have any suggestion on neutral sounding RCA cable from DAC to Amp?

    • Reply June 13, 2012

      dalethorn

      Stereo RCA on both ends?

    • Reply June 14, 2012

      Ken Stuart

      To be honest, Victor, the answer to that question is an entire web site, with a hundred reviews, broken up into price categories, etc. etc. Is there a “cablia.com” web site ? 🙂 If not, there has got to be something somewhere on the web…

    • Reply June 14, 2012

      Mike

      What is neutral? To some people silver wire is neutral. To me silver is *usually* dry.

  • Reply June 14, 2012

    Kevin Cotrone

    Do you think we’ll see a review of the ODAC? Would love to see opinions on a DAC that is supposed to sound transparent and clean for $100.

    • Reply June 14, 2012

      Trent_D

      I doubt it. I would love to see that as well, but after the extremely rude and hostile reactions of a select few to the O2 review, I don’t think Mike or L want to deal with that again. Can’t say I blame them either.

      • Reply June 14, 2012

        L.

        Exactly, but then I’m getting tempted 😀

        • Reply June 14, 2012

          Trent_D

          I can’t say I wouldn’t love it, as the ODAC and the O2 are very interesting products at a very attractive price point. Maybe just leave the comment section closed?

          • Reply June 18, 2012

            Kevin Cotrone

            I thought you were referring to outside reactions. Now I will have to go look through those…

  • Reply June 14, 2012

    Brandon Wong

    Hey Would you recommend the JDS Labs C421 OR The Fiio E17 for my AKG Q701’S? i want portable on the go? :p thanks or any other suggestions for under 200usd

    • Reply June 14, 2012

      Mike

      Brandon,
      If you want a portable on the go, the C421 would be better. The E17 if you want to listen to music from the computer.

      • Reply June 15, 2012

        Adhi Hardiansyah

        So if we to judge based on the amp functionality, the C421 is better and E17 prowess is located on the DAC side?

        • Reply June 15, 2012

          Mike

          Yes. C421 = better amp. E17 = DAC.

  • Reply June 14, 2012

    Harsya Fadilla

    hey Mike and Lieven,
    I asked you about AD700 and 668B, which is better for musical score.. and you said that the AD700. What I wanted to ask is, if I include another phones, the akg k240 sextett.. which one you think will be better for movie musical score? I know it will be a little harder to drive, but lets just put that aside cause I think I have the equip’ that can drive it..
    thanks!

    • Reply June 14, 2012

      Mike

      The Sextett.. you can sort of extrapolate from the current K240 line up. It’s not that much different.

      I think the K240 lacks air and space for musical scores.

  • Reply June 16, 2012

    Ken Stuart

    Mike – I checked the FAQ first, but did not see this defined, so…
    Can you clarify what you mean by “grain” in headphone sound ? Thanks.

    • Reply June 16, 2012

      Mike

      Ah, explaining sound with words is never easy yes?

      When you listen to a recording, a good reproduction should give you a “visual” if you know what I mean. This visual is like photographs. Hi ISO 35mm film are very grainy. Lo ISO 35mm slides have zero grain. Similarly, sometimes audio gear gives you that grainy reproduction. It can be nice for some music, just like how some very iconic photographs come with heavy amount of grain.

  • Reply June 17, 2012

    Hafiz Yunaf

    Hi Mike and L. i’m searching for a DAC upgrade that has similar sound signature with Audinst ( smooth relaxed, full low, warm, spacious/wide soundstage, perhaps a little bit dark ). Will the Pico DAC be a nice improvement in DAC section compared to Audinst?

  • Reply June 17, 2012

    Shirish Tiwari

    Hi Mike!
    I am Shirish from India. This is my first post here, though I have been following Headfonia for almost a year now. First, huge congratulations for such an amazing website!
    My post will be a large one, so have patience 🙂
    I will divide it in 2 parts- Information and questions.

    PART 1- INFORMATION:-
    Being a total lover of headphones (with little knowledge of how to put them to good use), I bought a load of them.

    I have-
    Headphones- Sennheiser HD598, HD650, Shure SRH 1440, Beyerdynamic DT 880, Ultrasone PrO 900, Bose QC15, Audio Technica ATH M50, Denon AHD 5000, AKG K702, Koss PRO4AAAT, Beats Studio

    In Ear- Shure SE535, Koss KDE250, Sennheiser CX300II, IE8, Bose IE2, Monster Miles Davis Trumpet, Bowers & Wilkins C5

    Speakers- Harman Kardon Soundsticks III, Bose Companion 5

    Sources- Alienware laptop, Apple MacBook Pro, Ipod Classic 6th Gen, Colorfly Pocket HiFi C4 Pro

    Now, I used to own Audinst HUD MX1, sold it to a friend along with my old HD600. It was a good little piece, but never really gave me the pleasure I expected from so many and nice headphones.
    When I began reading about audiophile stuff, I gathered that I have been a fool to buy all these headphones and no good desktop audio setup. So then, enlightened as I am, I have decided to stop buying more headphones for now, and invest in a good quality rig.
    I have decided for the FiiO E17 for my portable needs. Need help in desktop setup.
    I would like to buy products available locally in India, instead of having them shipped from overseas (weird and huge import duty rules of the gov here!). I will miss some awesome brands like Burson, Schiit, Woo, Rein, HifiMan, Headroom etc. for now.

    Products available in India (what I know of)-
    Asus Xonar Essence One, Govibe Vulcan Mini, Beyerdynamic A1 Amp, Musical Fidelity, Cambridge Audio, Fostex, CEntrance, Grace Design, Manley Labs, Stax, Maverick Audio, NuForce, Rotel, AudioResearch, Jeff Rowland, Theta Digital, Bang & Olufsen.

    * I listen to all kinds of music, so I need something neutral and natural sounding, not inclined towards any particular kind of music.

    PART 2- QUESTIONS-
    1. Is FiiO E17 good as a portable device, any other reccomendation in the price range $150-300?
    2. Considering the hardware I have, and a budget of not more than $1600, what would you suggest for desktop setup (AMP+DAC)? I guess for my budget a solid state amp is better suited, or am I wrong? I plan to buy more expensive headphones after a couple of years, so will definitely buy an awesome tube amp then.
    3. Do I need a Pre Amp for headphones and these speakers? Can a good headphone amp drive speakers?

    It would be really nice if its a 2 in 1 unit (AMP/DAC in one, really loved the reviews of Burson HA160), but I have no qualms about buying two separate pieces if necessary. I have read a lot about hardware on forums, from M1s to DacMagics etc., but frankly, it has only confused me even more!
    Please provide more than one options (single unit or kit) and correct me if I’m wrong anywhere. I simply want the best sounding rig for my budget.

    Thank you and warm regards

    • Reply June 18, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Shirish!
      That was long, but at least I get a good idea of your set up now.

      Manley Labs stuff are always good. I’ve reviewed the Stingray amp here, and the Neo-Classic 300B pre amp is another excellent product from them. Too bad they are around $6K.
      For about $1.6K, the Grace Design m903 is going to be an excellent DAC/amp box. I had the m902 for a long time before I finally sold it.

      • Reply June 18, 2012

        Shirish Tiwari

        Hi Mike!
        Thank you for actually replying! I thought you would skip it just by the size of the post! Hehehe!
        This is amazing! I am extremely interested in the Manley and Grace Design myself! Really feel happy that you gave m903 as the first choice! Though here in India, the m903 actually overshoots my budget. And yes the Manley products are outlandishly expensive!
        Now that we stand firmly about the m903, I still have a few questions 🙂

        What are your views about (as extra options)-
        1. MF M1HPA+M1DAC or M1HPA+VDACII
        2. CA DacMagic Plus vs MF M1DAC
        3. NuForce DAC9 (I know it might be over my budget)
        4. I found m903 uses Burr Brown PCM 1798. Does it use one or two chips? What are the differences in DACs with two chips (in dual differential I guess) vs. single chips?
        5. If I wasn’t limited by the brands available in India, would you still suggest the m903 or would there be any other recommendations? (This questions is simply out of curiosity :D)

        Thank you once again
        Warm Regards

        • Reply June 18, 2012

          Mike

          Shirish,
          I absolutely have no idea with the other boxes so I can’t comment on them.
          I thought that the original Dacmagic is a fine DAC box, but I have no experience with the headphone out of the Plus model.
          As for the dual or single chips, they may state lower distortion figures with dual chip and/or the ability to output a fully balanced signal.

          • Reply June 18, 2012

            Shirish Tiwari

            Hey Mike!
            Okay. Precise explanation. I understand it now.
            The Grace Design m903 is costing $2700 in India. Damn me! :O

            • Reply June 18, 2012

              Mike

              Ouch that’s really expensive!

              • Reply June 18, 2012

                Shirish Tiwari

                Yup. Add to it about a month of waiting time! Now I’m beginning to look for other options. Though my heart is going all out for the m903! It is B-E-A-U-TIFUL!!
                Its pretty surprising at times. I bought the Beyerdynamic and Sennheisers, brand new, for less than the USD price here in India!

                • Reply June 18, 2012

                  Mike

                  The Grace box are always beautiful 🙂

  • Reply June 17, 2012

    orta03

    Happy Father’s Day Mike! Put your feet up and enjoy those wonderful gears you have. 😉

    • Reply June 18, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks, Orta!

      I actually did. My daughter and I listened to music together last night. The RSA Dark Star amp has three headphone outs, so I plugged in the HD650 in the balanced port for her, and I used the MS-Pro in the single ended port and we listened to Mozart’s Concerto No.21!

      • Reply June 18, 2012

        Trent_D

        That’s my kind of father’s day. My youngest loves listen to headphones with me. On an unrelated note, I went and saw the Minnesota Orchestra a few days ago, and the only words that came into my mind during the (excellent) show were, “bass slam”

        • Reply June 18, 2012

          Mike

          How was the bass slam?

          • Reply June 18, 2012

            Trent_D

            I could feel it. It was pretty nice. I never realized how important it was to the music.

  • Reply June 19, 2012

    Shirish Tiwari

    Hi Mike and Lieven! Good day to all members too!

    Other than the HQPlayer featured here, what software (for windows 7) would you suggest for playback of high quality mp3 and lossless audio?
    And what are your recommendations for high quality cd audio grabber/ ripper softwares? (windows 7 again)

    Thank you and warm regards

    • Reply June 19, 2012

      Chris Allen

      Hi Shirish!

      I personally use Foobar2000 for audio playback. For ripping CDs, I just use iTunes. Most of my files, if not all, are in Apple Lossless Codec (ALAC). I find it easy to do and great to organize. There are other options, but I find this option the easiest. ALAC is really just Apple’s alternative to FLAC, and there is really no loss in quality as it is still a lossless format.

      Hope that helps! =)

  • Reply June 21, 2012

    Jack Knight

    hei mike, which one is better for overall, GS novo or schiit asgard?

    • Reply June 21, 2012

      Mike

      Tough call.. plus and minuses.

  • Reply June 21, 2012

    Stephen Loke

    Which would be the best portable DAC for the HD25-1 II, C421 & the Ipod Classic?

    • Reply June 21, 2012

      L.

      Cypherlabs CLAS from ALO

      • Reply June 21, 2012

        Stephen Loke

        The CLAS is quite expensive though. Is it really worth that much money?

        • Reply June 21, 2012

          L.

          That’s something you have to make up for yourself. Don’t spend it if you can’t miss it is what I always say 😉

    • Reply June 21, 2012

      Chris Allen

      There are perhaps only a handful of portable DAC’s that can bypass the built-in DAC of the iPod/iPhone. The ones that are available are at rather hefty price, unfortunately.

      • Reply June 21, 2012

        L.

        I can count 2 portable ones. Fairly expensive indeed

      • Reply June 21, 2012

        Stephen Loke

        ok thanks.

      • Reply June 22, 2012

        Ken Stuart

        The HRT iStreamer does that and is US$199, which is roughly the same price as the other components.

        • Reply June 25, 2012

          Chris Allen

          Yes, but its really not portable.

          • Reply June 26, 2012

            Ken Stuart

            Why do you say that ? Did you see the new review on this site ?

          • Reply June 26, 2012

            dalethorn

            When I run the iStreamer in the most portable way, I have the iPhone connected to the iStreamer with the Apple cable (I found a 6 inch cable), the iStreamer getting power from the Mophie battery with a USB cable, and the iStreamer connected to a headphone amp with a short high-quality RCA to miniplug cable. So that’s 4 components and 3 cables. You almost need to build a box or special carrycase to keep the stuff from falling all over the place, unless portable means just using in the hotel. Actually, I’ve found I get greater convenience, better sound, and less hassle with a small laptop and a Headstreamer. Just one cable and 2 components -vs- 3 cables and 4 components.

  • Reply June 21, 2012

    Linus Holmqvist

    So I’ve got HD555 now but plan on getting HD650. Rarely listen to aggresive music like hardrock, goa trance etc. Anyhow, I’ve got Onkyo SR607 A/V receiver now but read that onkyo dont do that well with heaphones like hd650, so guess i better get a headphone amp. As I dont have any pre out on the back, can I use tv/tape pre out instead to a headphone amplifier?

    If this works, is there any need to get a DAC aswell?

    A bit intrested in Fiio e9+e7/e17 combo as it is cheap, and it does make it possibly to use e7/e17 for my mp3player. But priority is to get a good sound as desktop.

    • Reply June 21, 2012

      Mike

      I think the Onkyo should do okay.. I would get the headphones first and try it out. I don’t think the HD650 is a hard headphone to drive.

      • Reply June 21, 2012

        Linus Holmqvist

        Hm ok, Most people over at head-fi seem to think otherwise. Anyway, using HD555 seems to get me bored using these headphones to this onkyo. Dont know if it’s the headphones or the A/V though.

        • Reply June 22, 2012

          Ken Stuart

          If you are using an HD555 and an Onkyo receiver, then my experience (with similar Senns and similar Onkyos) is that a DAC will make the biggest difference at this point. What is your current source ?

          • Reply June 22, 2012

            Linus Holmqvist

            Currently my setup is: Foobar > computer onboard sound optical out > Onkyo SR607 > Monitor audio speakers / headphones.

            Im using my HD555 as we speak listening to music, but i would rather turn up the volume and use my speakers instead.

            • Reply June 22, 2012

              Ken Stuart

              Yes, I found that even a $20 DAC from 10 years ago was better sound quality than computer onboard sound.
              Whereas Onkyo receivers are good quality in the amplifier world (I’m listening to one right now), and HD555 is good quality in the headphone world.
              So, you can read DAC reviews here at Headfonia.

              • Reply June 22, 2012

                Linus Holmqvist

                Yeah but what I dont get it.. I use computer onboard sound OPTICAL out = isnt this just zeros and ones? 111010101 = it can either work well or not work at all. Which means the “source” DAC i will be using in my current system is the DAC inside my onkyo?

                I understand your saying if u DONT use DIGITAL/OPTICAL computer > Recievers. But thats what im using.

                PS. This is what I learnt yesterday, correct me if im wrong with thinking this 🙂

                • Reply June 22, 2012

                  Ken Stuart

                  • Reply June 22, 2012

                    Linus Holmqvist

                    aight, perhaps getting like a asus xonar DX/D1 will fix things then. So it will look like this.
                    Asus xonar optical > onkyo > speakers/sub
                    Asus xonar rcaa > amp > headphones.
                    What would you say about this setup?

                    • June 23, 2012

                      Ken Stuart

                      What in the article made you think that the Xonar optical output would be any better than the built-in optical output ?

                    • June 23, 2012

                      Linus Holmqvist

                      Some guy over at head-fi recommended it. Should be better then built-in optical i guess.. but ye. I dont know. I bought HD650 now anyways, now the hard part is to get a amp/dac system for it..So many different things to consider and choose from

                    • June 24, 2012

                      Ken Stuart

                      The only improvement of a Xonar is the one that has good DAC chips and so needs to be used from the analog output.
                      The article that I linked explained why optical is not best.

  • Reply June 21, 2012

    Shirish Tiwari

    Hello everyone!
    A question which has been ringing me for a while now. Whats more important while selecting a DAC, a high quality/branded DAC chip or other circuitry or both? Basically how do you select a good DAC based on reviews and without hearing one?

    At most of the audiophile forums I hear, Burr-Brown and Wolfson chips to be the best. Then again some high quality really expensive DAC boxes have some brands which aren’t these. Like the Ipod video 5.5G sounded awesome with its wolfson, but the new 6G classic (they say it has a Cirrus chip), doesn’t sound all that nice. But I also own a Colorfly C4 PRO which has a Cirrus chip, and it sounds amazing!
    Some people say more complex the circuitry, more issues with sound; simple circuits = awesome sound. But then some really high grade outlandishly expensive amps and DACs have circuits which make you lose your mind! How do you read and select then?
    What other brands make really good DAC chips?

    Thank you and warm regards.

    • Reply June 21, 2012

      dalethorn

      I start with the DAC’s in my price range and look for any unusual features or comments about the sound that are specific enough to use to compare to other comments on the same items. If I don’t feel comfortable with the DAC’s on my short list, I may have to go up in price. Generally I don’t worry about the chips, but my main concerns besides the sound are reliability, the mfr’s reputation for repair, whether there are firmware upgrades, etc. If you consider your audio system to be an investment in items that you might need to sell later, then you might consider long-term resale value too.