Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Beyerdynamic Shoot Out [880 vs 990] Quick OverView



Inversion is a nice way to look at the Beyers, this powerful combo of the Fully Open Baced Dt 990 and Semi Open Dt 880 will literally turn your whole music experience inside out! Revealing details you may not have heard before, giving you as it where a whole new way to listen to and enjoy your music! 

My new Beyer Dt 880 Premium 600 ohm [Re-cabled] is here, to start off this exciting week, a quick mini review on the differences between the two headphones! 


The weighty mids of the Dt 990 and it's increased sound stage and clarity are nice for Classical , but the bass really takes away from vocals and guitars in reggae and jazz. The Dt 880 on the other hand having a touch less bass, allows the bass, drums, vocals and guitars to be enjoyed all together. Making it ideal for Jazz and Reggae. 

Nu Jazz songs, or songs with both Classical Jazz and Electronica elements, perform equally well on both cans! An example of one such song is posted below.





Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Audio Technica A900x



Ath A900x [$93 used]

Test Process

Source Win 7[Foobar2000 WASAPI] -> oDac -> MonoPrice Premium Coaxial Cables -> Matrix M Stage [0  [w1000x Akg K550/+18 db Gain Lme 49990 OpAmp]

Will be enjoyed at face, no comparisons to be made considering the price.

As always gain and volume are adjusted for each headphone. [To ensure each has equal volume levels, despite gain.]

7/9 Songs are without EQ, Benga-Invasion and Kidnap Kid-Animaux  do feature an EQ added by me. This should demonstrate the ability of a headphone to handle EQ.]

Personal Back-story  

I recently sold my old Beyerdynamic Dt 880 Pro 250 ohms, and since then I've been in search of something that captured it's sound! I think I may have found just such a can.


Build [5/5]

A little more plastic than I'm a fan of. But overall well built. Feel's sturdy.

Very Sturdy

Specs
Closed Back Dynamic Operating Principle
32 Ohm Impedance
100 db Sensitivity
42 Ohms
5 - 40,000k response

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [4/5]
The clamp is very strong, and the Wing system adjustment is seamless for my head. Very easy to put on, the sound does not change to much with fit because they really only fit on your head one way. It may be my big ears but there's only one comfortable fit for me, as opposed to the AKG K550 which slides around a little more with it's fit, changing it's sound as a result.

In addition, these cans actually isolate very well! Much more so than the w1000.


Sound Signature and Character

          Sound Stage:  A  wide sound stage, good instrument seperation. Lacking slightly in 3D sense of space.
           
         Sound Signature-  A more fun sound over all, the mids have good attack, as do the highs. Not entirely neutral, but the coloration is mild and leaves the can with a pleasant sound!


Sound [4/5]

Treble [5/5]- Awesome highs, great attack and air with good decay as well.

Mids [4/5]- Good tone, has a nice attack. Body is good but could be a touch lusher.

Bass [3.8/5] - Maybe a matter of preference over technicality, but for me the bass has a nice body to it. Very full, yet I'd like a little tighter bass. Still more natural and wooden bass tones where lovely!        And honestly, this can needs no eq for a kicking EDM experience!

For $100 used there's not to many options that compete with this wonderful headphone!

 Check out my full review [with song by song break down] at head-fi! 


Saturday, August 17, 2013

AKG K550



AKG K550 [Price $160 Used]

Test Process

Source Win 7[Foobar2000 WASAPI] -> oDac -> MonoPrice Premium Coaxial Cables -> Matrix M Stage [0  [w1000x Akg K550/+18 db Gain Lme 49990 OpAmp]

Will be compared again'st my w1000x and my Beyer Dt 990, since I intend to use this headphone as a portable, with all genres. I want to see how it does against my two "specialists" Specifically, the Dt 990 will be compared only with Classical and EDM [I got lazy and only did classical and Dub Step] genres. Songs 2 and 7.

As always gain and volume are adjusted for each headphone. [To ensure each has equal volume levels, despite gain.]

7/9 Songs are without EQ, Benga-Invasion and Kidnap Kid-Animaux  do feature an EQ added by me. This should demonstrate the ability of a headphone to handle EQ.

          In addition, from this review and out, italic text will contain comparisons against my reference headphones. In addition, comparative points of interest will be included in Head Fi review posts, with all Blog Posts reaming more simple and to the point!

Personal Back-story  

I recently sold my old Beyerdynamic Dt 880 Pro 250 ohms, and since then I've been in search of something that captured it's sound! I think I may have found just such a can.


Build [5/5]

I am impressed, the headband is metal with a nice extension feature. Nice physical feel in the hands, not as tough as the Dt 990, but not nearly as fragile as the w1000x. A solid build! Still these are composed of more plastic than metal. Yet the plastic has a nice look and finish to it!

Very Sturdy

Specs
Closed Back Dynamic Operating Principle
32 Ohm Impedance
114 db Sensitivity
32 Ohms
12-28.000k response

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [4/5]
People complain about the fit, and the lack of clamp force and sadly I did not experience any of this, I put them to 4 on each side slapped em on, pressed them in ever so slightly and enjoyed. I will mention that they sound DRASTICALLY changes depending on how far from the front of the pads the front of your ears are. Essentially for me, the closer the back of my ears are to the back of the pad the Thicker the lower mids are, the closer the front of my ears are to the front of the pads, the thinner the entire can sounds!

In addition, these cans actually isolate very well! Much more so than the w1000.

But still these are STILL easier to put on my head and adjust than the w1000x, yet a little more fickle than the Beyer Dt 990!

Sound Signature and Character

          Sound Stage:  A very wide sound stage, good instrument seperation.

The Akg K550 is fickle with it's sound stage, with vocals it really shines and widens. Not as initimate with vocals as the w1000x, yet with pianos and wood instruments it's not quiet as wide as the w1000x or the Beyer Dt 990, how ever my w1000x is Modded so it's... well much tighter than stock.
           
          Sound Signature-  Easily the most neutral balanced headphone I have heard to date. The bass is tastefully tight and deep, the mids are warm and delicate, with good punch. The treble as well is smooth and very refined! Although it still retains some of the Closed Back sound.

Sound [4/5]

Treble [3.8/5]- Very neutral, which isn't always my cup of tea. I miss the energy of slightly brighter cans. Not to mention the lack of air.

Mids [4.2/5]- A beautiful tone to mids, with the right mix of body and a touch of weight to be enjoyed with all kinds of music.

Bass [5/5] - Excellent bass all the time.               

Conclusion- $170 used, a great closed can for at home or portable! Much more practical than the w1000x and half the price, not to mention the difference in sound between the two is almost negligible [seeing as I had to Modify my w1000x to be better than the k550 stock]  


Friday, August 16, 2013

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250ohm

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 


Beyerdyanmic Dt 990 Pro 250 ohm [Price $190 New]

Source Win 7[Foobar2000 WASAPI] -> oDac -> MonoPrice Premium Coaxial Cables -> Matrix M Stage [0 /+18 db Gain Lme 49990 OpAmp]

The Beyer Can, having a higher impedance reaches it's optimal sound at 18 gain, volume is adjust accordingly

Compared against modified Audio Technica w1000x [Stock $350 Refurbished-After mods $500] and for the last 2 songs, a AKG K550. It came into my home as I was finishing this up <3

8/9 Songs are without EQ, Benga-Invasion does feature an EQ by my self. This should demonstrate the ability of a headphone to handle EQ.

My second primary headphone. I've had it for around 6 months now, and shame on me for not posting a review sooner. It was so wonderful, I suppose it didn't need me to explain it self.  Non the less, it's time the silence be broken!

Build [5/5]

Like a tank, I've dropped them a few times sadly, sat on them once and lugged them around in a book bag for months. Unlike the fragile w1000x, the Beyer headphones are the most well built I've worn to date. Truly tough headphones!

Specs
Open Dynamic Operating Principle
250 Ohm Impedance
115db Sensitivity
5-35,000k response

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [4/5]
The comfort is amazing as well, the open dynamic driver and the velour pads are great together! The open back of the can let's any heat flow away from you, while the velour's make sure your ears aren't too cold! I wear them for hours daily! The clamp how ever may be to strong for some.. Still the fit is easy to master, and unlike the fickle angled drivers of the w1000x, these remain consistent!

Sound Signature and Character

            Sound Stage:  Wonderfully, wide. Instrument separation is flawless and sounds effortless on the part of the headphone. The width does take away from the depth of the sound stage however.
             
            Sound Signature-  There's actually feature a rather prominent mid bass hump, yet they remain fairly balanced. The mids are very real, sufficient warm and wonderful clarity and punch. A brighter, lighter and tighter sound signature. I find it suits Classical, Classical and Nu Jazz, and EDM. The bass is to much for rock, and the mids not intimate or lushly beautiful enough to all vocals.

Sound [4.2/5]

Treble [5/5]- Airy, well extended and awesome details!

Mids [4/5]- A beautiful tone to mids, not lush enough for vocals but perfect for delicate upper and lower mid instruments!

Bass [3.5/5] - Excellent bass in some songs, in others it's so much it ruins them.                 

Conclusion- For $190 new and around $150, it's one of my favorite all time open cans! Great sound for almost all kinds of music and the bass lovers will enjoy it with everything! Good dynamics and fantastic build quality. A must have for any one getting into Audio Phila! 


Amplifiers! The Salt and Pepper of Headphones.

There are two basic kinds of head phone amplifiers. Solid States and tube amps! Each amp brings out a different characteristic to your headphones, and a good amp will squeeze the last bit of potential out of your headphone allowing it to shine at 100%. Some headphones even require amplifiers to sound their best. There are even Hybrid Tube Amps, which utilize Transistor [Solid State] Power amps and Tube Pre Amps!

Simply put though, I'm going to cover just a few basic differences between the two!

A 12ua7 Millet Max Hybrid Tube
Matrix M Stage- Solid State Amp


Power Differences

Most low impedance headphones require more current than they do voltage. In this case a solid state or Hybrid Tube amp is optimized for that current out put. So lower impedance headphones will benifit greatly on a solid state or hybrid tube! Low impedance headphones are most of what the average consumer market sells. Headphones like Sony and Audio Technica for example.

Tube amps, have higher voltage swings and not as much current, this allows headphone with high impedance [resistance to voltage] to be driven better due to the abundance of voltage. Again hyrbid tubes offer the current needed for low impedance cans and the voltage swing of tubes. In addition there Single Ended and Push Pull Tubes. Single ended are more limited in their power output but retain amazing details, where as Push Pull OTL tubes offer more variance in their power outputs but lack the detail of a Single End/

Now that being said, there are always exceptions. There are DOZENS of Tubes that can be used with an OTL Tube. Each of these having it's own combination of strengths and weakness.

Practicality 

A Solid State tube amp is most often harder to repair and replace parts for, where as a OTL and Hybrids pin some cases] are simple'r and easier to modify, repair and replace parts for. So for some one interested in the possibility of building their own amp, once again the are pros and cons to each.

In addition, going back to the huge selection of tubes. There is a more hobbyist approach to tube amps. As one amp can boast a variety of sound and detail levels, through multiple tubes! Almost how one Gas Top Stove can use a variety of different pots. In this food analogy, the Solid State amp would be like a Griddle. It does many things but only with one surface.

Sound
The key differences are tubes are more lush, as they produce more second harmonic and less odd 3'rd, 5'th ect harmonics. As we know sound travels in a wave, and as it's amplified these waves peak and trough differently. Ultimately even numbered harmonics, found in abundance in Tube Amps, sound more beautiful and natural.  So the tube amp has a beauty to it, yet in contrast it can tend to loose instrument separation as well as sound stage imaging.

A Solid State, in contrast, does not offer as many of those natural harmonics but rather un rivaled detail and imaging. Solid States often contain better dynamics and positioning of sound. These are terms that describe how sound moves, how it changes.

So tubes offer a lusher softer, warmer sound. Where as a Solid State is a little more colder, better detail and a tighter punchier sound. As always, pros and cons, and a hybrid tube amp tries to combine the best of both worlds.

As a side note, bass has more impact with a solid state and more bloom a gentle'r kick with a tube. Depending on your own personal preference, bass can be enjoyable on both!

So, when using headphones that are more neutral  Headphones that are know for detail, clarity and accuracy in imaging and dynamics, a tube will often add the warmth an beauty that may be missing, where as with headphones that boast lush mids, and smooth airy treble a solid state would improve the accuracy and detail of that can.

Personally, I use my Solid State for my beautiful lush Audio Technica W1000x, and I use my hybrid tube with my more open and spacious Byerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 ohm.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Warning: BASS OVER LOAD iFROGZ Ear Pollution Mogul



iFROGZ Ear Pollution Mogul

Price $49.99

Source Win 7[Foobar2000 WASAPI] -> oDac -> MonoPrice Premium Coaxial Cables -> Matrix M Stage [0 db Gain Lme 49990 OpAmp]

Compared against modified Audio Technica w1000x

My next step up in audiophila was from my little 30mm Sony's to a big ole 50mm BASS HEAD CAN, and sadly I listened to everything on those headphones. Non the less, Bass Head cans tend to be darker in sound signature and are usually have a focus on the bass and treble [the lower priced ones of course.] Still though, some low end bass head cans do everything well with a darker heavy sound! That being said, let's see how Ear Pollutions "Elite" sounds! Also to be noted, I spent about 6 months with a Sony XB 700 as my main headphone! So I have a bit of a soft spot for these bass heavy all arounders.

Build [2/5]
Pretty heavy, plastic but with chrome like accents. Visually the look good, and they feel a little cheap in the hands. Non the less, the head phone mouths are rather big and have spring loaded springs! Putting them on my head, they make a creaking sound... something that just feels and sound weak... so I'm being extra careful. Build is about as nice as the $30 Sony ZX300 where. But for the price... I want something that feels a little sturdier. The cord, also feels like... an old Windows 97 headphone. It's thick but the jack looks and feels so old school. There is however, a nice gold plated 1/4" adapter!

Specs
50mm driver
32 Ohm Impedance
115db Sensitivity
10-30,000k response

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [3.5/5]
The Fit is... sufficient. Isolation is not how ever, the ear pads while comfy sit on the ears not over. In addition the springs keep the pads some what angled against your ears. Back to the fit, it was simple. Adjust the head band and slap em on! Something the w1000x does NOT have going for it. Very easy to use! For the comfort, the ear pads are a little stiff, and the clamp is pretty strong... which can be a good or bad thing.

Sound Signature and Character

            Sound Stage:  Not small, doesn't suffer from congestion. Rather the bass bleeds so heavily into the sound it feels like a bath tub! Tubular sound stage!
            Sound Signature- Very Dark, very bass heavy. Upper mids have a nice body to them although. Not a warm headphone either, really nothing but bass.  Terrible  

Sound [1.5/5]

Treble [1/5]- Gone

Mids [2/5]- If you have a song with NO bass, these might be enjoyable for the upper mids alone!

Bass [1/5] - There's LOTS of it and really nothing but bass.  

Conclusion 

I DROVE BACK to Wal Mart now just to return these gawd awful things... I would usually wait till after work but these are just horrible. I really do try to find the positive in all headphones! The Sony XZ300 had some real positives! These how ever do not... a $50 "Elite" out beaten by a low end Sony... if you own these... buy a pair of Sony ZX300s and enjoy your music, and set fire to these things!



Friday, August 9, 2013

Sony ZX 300



One of the most common headphones I see are the Sony ZX100/300 respectivly. I picked up the higher end model to see what one of Sony's most popular headphones had to offer! It should be noted, that at Wal Mart, these are the best looking and most inexpensive set of Headphones to choose from, so it's popularity is not hard to grasp! 

Sony MDR ZX300

Source Win 7[Foobar2000 WASAPI] -> oDac -> MonoPrice Premium Coaxial Cables -> Matrix M Stage [0 db Gain Lme 49990 OpAmp]

Compared against modified Audio Technica w1000x

Obviously there's not much comparing a $30 can to one that's upwards of $600. Non the less, I started out on a headphone very similar to this one! Same driver size and a Sony Headphone! I see dozens of users wearing each day, so I thought it high time we give them a review! Bring out some of the real positives in this Low Budget can! The path to Hi Fi audio is best started with something as simple and yet fun as these!

Build [5/5]

Good build considering the price, although I wouldn't recommend stepping on it! The look of the can is stunning. Mine came in a Rouge Red color, the finish is very nice. The plastic seems flexible, and the headphone as a whole is very low key! Nothing cumbersome about the build at all! And the fit is easy and seamless. Compared to the w1000x [which is very cumbersome] these are wonderfully easy to use!

Sound Signature and Character [3.9/5]

            Sound Stage:  Very intimate! Bass has nice depth.
             
            Sound Signature- Darker, intimate sound stage. Focus on the mids!
                        A good sound signature for rock and Dub Step, a small and aggressive presentation that captures plenty of emotion. Not so focused on the minor details, but a great blend of elements for a nice aggressive all-arounder! 


Sound [3.5/5]

Treble [3/5]- A darker Treble can, the highs retain some detail and energy. Never truly lost in presentation but not always the focus when they need to be. Still for tracks that are heavy with sweet highs, they won't be missed or non existent. And best of all, no worries about sibilance!

Mids [4/5]- Very forward an intimate mids, vocals can be tricky. Simpler vocal tracks will be great, where as deeper more complex Vocalists might loose a little warmth and feeling. Guitars have a nice energy to them, smooth when it should be and rough when you want it to be!

Bass [3.5/5] -Fantastic for some genres, horrible for others. A edge aggressive presentation. Presentation is toned down when songs call for it, which leaves it a little lack luster but well placed  Where as songs that a are tuned more for rough edgy bass will sound much better! Not the best for more organic bass, but great for a synthesized sound!   


Semi Open Low Budget Perfection


Easily my favorite Sub $50 headphones, with much more than you'd expect. The stylishly retro Kiss PortaPro has wonderful sound considering it's price!

A quick Mini Review for now, look forward to an updated and revamped review in the future! 

Koss Porta Pro Review

Reviewed with

Win 7 96khz Sample Out -> Foobar -> Indeed G3 -> Cans

Reviewed with no software or hardware eq, comparisions made against my Dt 880 Pro 250  

Also Note the Impedance of the Koss Porta  Pro is lower than the Dt 880 so the Volume is adjusted for each

Build 1/5
Please do NOT BREAK these... they are fragile!


Songs
Tsurugri no Mai-Nujabes (1)
Hey Who Really Cares- Linda Perhacs (2)
Sacrifice Part 3- Hiroki Kikuta  (3)
Sugame No Uo- Toshio Masuda (4)
Backwards-Skream (5)
Outnumbered-London Elektricity (6)
Bags' Groove-The Modern Jazz Quartet (7)

Sound [4/5]

The Highs are some what lacking for sure, but it more than makes up for it with great bass, and nice mids! Does good with most anything you can throw at it, compared so something like a Sony ZX 300, a more balanced Sound Signature! Good focus on details as well as the edgier sound when you want it as well.

Highs- 3/5 Not bad. Slightly sibilant
Mids- 4/5 Slighty Forward, still nice sound. Good Warmth
Bass-  5/5 wow they are so SMALL but they really have some BASS

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Budget Master- The Koss Pro Dj 200


One of my favorite entry level headphones, boasting a good clean overall sound signature with excellent versatility. The sound is a jack of all trades, and depending on your source equipment and amp you could take the sound in any number of directions. During the time I had them, I enjoyed the lush mids they had as well as the more laid back presentation of the Highs and bass.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Audio Technica Grandioso W1000X







One of my favorite headphones, I've found it difficult to find another closed headphone that's as warm and yet detailed as this one. With hand finished American Black Cherry Wood cups, it looks as good as it sounds! 

Click here for a detailed review!