Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Audio-Technica AD900X [Big Thanks to Mr. Frank Doris of Audio Technica U.S., INC





Audio Technica  ATH AD900X {$180 Used} {$299 New}

Personal Back-Story  

I recently emailed Mr. Doris a Public relations professional with Audio- Technica U.S., INC. I would first of all like to thank him for allowing me to do this review as well as for his great communication with me! Non the less, I’ve been doing reviews for about a year now and wanted to apply my trade toward a great cause and do a more professional review.  So I emailed Mr. Dorris to see if I could do a review for Audio-Technica U.S and he graciously agreed. My interest in the ATH AD900x is rooted in my love for open back headphones, as a happy owner of the Beyerdynamic Dt 880 I was curious to see how the Audio Technica open back within the DT 880 price range performed, and I was not disappointed.

Pros: Spacious airy sound, fantastic bass, sound stage and imaging
Cons : Slides a little, to little decay, aggressive,

Build [3.8/5]
Not the toughest headphone ever made, a lot of plastic. But it feels very sturdy, and has a good weight in the hands. Visually is very well made, a very attractive headphone to look upon.

Specs
Type Open Air Dynamic
Driver Diameter 53mm
Frequency Response 5-35,000
Maximum Input Power 1,000mW
Sensitivity  100dB/mW
Impedance 38ohm
Weight 265 g
Cable 3.0 meters

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [4/5]
Very comfy, the clamp is wonderful the only issue I have with them is the wings. While the wing system is implemented very nicely, the wings themselves has slightly less padding than the A900x and W1000x… making the headphone slide around a millimeter or so if you’re moving around. While this does not have a bearing on sound, it is a little distracting at times.

Price to Performance : [5/5]
Compared to the DT 880 which is in the same price range, I’d say that the AD900x like the Dt 880 is a fantastic bargain! The sound is very detailed and spacious, and over all the mix of elements on the headphone are wonderful for it’s price range!

Complimentary Genres:  Metal EDM and Classical   

Sonic Test Process

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

Headphone reference notes- I like to demo all headphones against my Beyerdynamic Dt 880, as they are a well know reference can.  Reference notes will always be in italics, and are included in the Video Reviews and Head Fi review posts.

Reference points, will be in bold italics.  In each of the seven reference songs I will specify what parts of the song I am listening to, to evaluate the 3 parts of the spectrum.  In addition to other aspects of the overall sound presentation.

           In addition, I always like details  presented in all frequances
Highs- looking for and evaluating air, nice extension and good energy and placement within sound stage
Mids- looking for and considering weight, body and tone
Bass- listening for, control, texture and punch/impact

          Sound Stage- reported after listening to all tracks
          Imaging –Track #3 and #4 are well mastered for 2D and 3D imaging
          Instrument Layering-reported after listening to all tracks
          Timbre- realism of sound, fun versus real
          Speed- ability to retain mirco-details  in ultra-fast tonal shifts
Music Auditioned [All Lossless quality, tracks vary from 16 to 24bit]


Sound
           
          Sound Signature- Very neutral but with an aggressive tight bass, very spacious and quick natured. Detail presentation and imaging are fantastic, as is instrument layering and separation.  Lean, mean and airy
Dynamics- Super quick, sometimes a little to fast
Timbre- Very real, great timbre on the highs and mids, yet the bass can be a little too lean… a little mechanical in nature.
Speed-  VERY fast, even the bass is super tight and very quick!
          Sound Stage: Great sound stage, a nice sense of air throughout.  2D and 3D imaging are nice as well, could be slightly deeper though.  Instrument separation though is wonderful!

Highs- Wonderful sense of air and detail, very spacious with a surreal extension and energy.
Mids-  On the aggressive side, not forward but with a great edge and crunch to them, very punchy. Yet with a delicate enough body for vocals and classical.
Bass-  VERY tight sub and mid bass, pairs magically with EDM, Classical and Metal,  but a little too lean for other genres. The decay is a bit too short, timbre is a little mechanical. Still a very tight and enjoyable bass, in addition the bass is presented ever so slightly forward… a nice mix of elements really, overly lean yet slightly forward bass… works very well for the headphone!

Amplification Need or Suggested – These do not need an amp, but they would sound fantastic with a nice hybrid tube amp!   


In addition comparative notes will be in italics and only included in the full Head Fi review and mentioned in the Video Reviews.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sound Magic Hp 100




Sound Magic HP 100 ($165 Used)  

Personal Back-Story  

In the search for a can with the dt 880 sound and the isolation of a closed headphone I came across the sound magic hp 100!

Pros: Comfort, isolation, carrying case, detachable cord, clean sound, wonderful sound stage

Cons : lack of lower mids and upper bass [easily fixed by the w1000x Pads], also needs to be modified for bass improvement

Build [5/5]


Specs
Closed operating principle
Driver: Dynamic 53mm Neodymium Drivers
- Frequency range: 10Hz30KHz

- Impedance: 32Ω (±10%)
- Sensitivity: 95dB/mW @ 1KHz (±3dB)
- Maximum input power: 100mW
- Cable length: 1.2m (3.5ft) coiled
- Connection: 3.5mm gold plated plug
- Weight: 288g

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [4.5/5]
Perfect, fit’s like a glove. The comfort is wonderful and the isolation is impressive!
Price to Performance : [5/5]
For the price it performs just as well as the K550, not to mention a New Sound Magic costs the same as a Used K550. Either way it’s a great bargain!

Complimentary Genre:  None, works equally well with all genres

Sonic Test Process

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

Headphone reference notes- I like to demo all headphones against my Beyerdynamic Dt 880, as they are a well know reference can.  Reference notes will always be in italics, and are included in the Video Reviews and Head Fi review posts.

Reference points, will be in bold italics.  In each of the seven reference songs I will specify what parts of the song I am listening to, to evaluate the 3 parts of the spectrum.  In addition to other aspects of the overall sound presentation.

           In addition, I always like details  presented in all frequances
Highs- looking for and evaluating air, nice extension and good energy and placement within sound stage
Mids- looking for and considering weight, body and tone
Bass- listening for, control, texture and punch/impact

          Sound Stage- reported after listening to all tracks
          Imaging –Track #3 and #4 are well mastered for 2D and 3D imaging
          Instrument Layering-reported after listening to all tracks
          Timbre- realism of sound, fun versus real
          Speed- ability to retain mirco-details  in ultra fast tonal shifts
Music Auditioned [All Lossless quality, tracks vary from 16 to 24bit]


Sound
           
          Sound Signature- Very clean, a slight tilt towards the central and upper mids. A very nice Sub Bass extension, but lacks a little mid bass. Overall very crisp clean headphone with nice mids.   Very Lean yet Lusher than Neutral
                             Again, adding the W1000x Stock pads, add a little meat to the sound, giving you fuller mids and bass with a slight increase in sound stage width and height!

Dynamics- Excellent, quick and effortless
Timbre- Very accurate, but a slight lack of mid bass… leads to an overly tight bass and mids. Low end sounds lack weight, leading to a leaner than life like timbre… but still very accurate. Not fake nor thin.
The addition of w1000x Pads leads to a slight boost in the Mid bass, giving the bass a much more real timbre!
Speed-  Very lean and quick, plenty of speed for metal! Yet lacks a little weight behind it’s speed.
          Sound Stage: 2D  image is very nice, instrument layering is good, nice sense of air in between instruments, how ever can get a little over whelmed with grandeur or elaborate tracks, anything featuring upwards of 8 or so instrumental layers. Lacks slightly in 3D space as well. 

Highs- Excellent, great airy presentation and energy, very detailed as well.
Mids-  Very smooth and detailed, vocals are silky smooth, yet very detailed, Guitars maintain a nice rich sound as well, although acoustic instruments can be a little too lean at times, still very pleasing.
Bass- VERY Deep and tight sub bass, mid bass lacks ever so slighty but still has plenty of attack, just needs a little more body.

[Modified with ATH w1000x Stock Pads] {+$50}
          Modification Improvements- The Stock W1000x Pads bring;
1)    a little more focus to the entire sound stage
2)    improved 2D and 3D imaging and instrument spacing
3)    Slightly forward yet magically delicate mids
4)    A gentle boost to mid bass body and attack  

Amplification Need or Suggested – These do not need an amp, but they pair nicely with a warm solid state or hybrid tube.  

Check out the full review with song by song impressions here at head fi

Monday, September 9, 2013

Beyerdynamic Dt 880 Review




Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium 600ohm (With ZXAC Fully Balanced Recable) [$235 Used]

Personal Back-Story  

I recently re-purchased my Beyerydanmic Dt 880’s back! And this time I made the upgrade to the 600 ohm variant.


Pros: Airy sound, delicate mids, speed, sense of openness, sound stage and layering. Timbre

Cons : no isolation,  bright [I like bright cans but some don’t] lacks intimacy, bass for some may not be heavy enough

Build [5/5]

Classic Beyerdynamic Build quality, although these are a tad more fragile than my pro series headphones, the adjustment device is located outside of the head band, as opposed to the pro series which feature the extension mechanism within the head band. In addition the head band itself is not as well padded. The headphones are very well built and comfy like the pro series.

Very Sturdy

Specs
Semi-Open  Back Dynamic Operating Principle
600 Ohm Impedance
96 db Sensitivity
5 - 35,000k response

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [4.5/5]
Simple and to the point, extend the head band and slap em on! There is no isolation due to the semi open back design, and the fit is very simple and straight forward. Despite being the Premium Model, it’s almost as comfy at the Dt 990 Pro, yet the DT 990 Pro is still my most comfortable headphone!

Price to Performance : [5/5]
          Top notch, versatile enough to handle any genre, and tough as nails.

Sonic Test Process

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

           In addition, I always like details  presented in all frequances
Highs- looking for and evaluating air, nice extension and good energy and placement within sound stage
Mids- looking for and considering weight, body and tone
Bass- listening for, control, texture and punch/impact


          Sound Stage- reported after listening to all tracks
          Imaging –Track #3 and #4 are well mastered for 2D and 3D imaging
          Instrument Layering-reported after listening to all tracks
          Timbre- realism of sound, fun versus real
          Speed- ability to retain mirco-details  in ultra fast tonal shifts

Sound
           
          Sound Signature- Very clean, a slight tilt towards the upper mids and treble, although the headphone features a lower mid resonance which adds a nice touch of body to the lower mids and upper bass.  The headphone is also very quick, and light on its’ feet.  Over all an incredibly balanced and airy sound, filled with many details and excellent 2D and 3D sound stage.  Brighter than neutral

Dynamics- quick and effortless
Timbre- very real,  mids are life like, treble how ever may be slightly brighter than natural but is not fake or exaggerated
Speed- very quick, shows quickness with all genres

          Sound Stage:  A  wide sound stage, great instrument separation, and good 3D  and 2D placement of instruments.

Amplification Need or Suggested –for the Beyerdynamic Dt 880 Premium an amp is required, as a 600 ohm headphone it requires an amp with a large voltage swing, OTL tubes pair nicely with the  Dt 880 600 Ohm 

 Highs- airy with a touch of bright sweetness, great energy. Brighter than neutral

Mids- very real, a delicate sense of weight, good timbre tone and body. Not intimate 

Bass- VERY deep and tight, great impact and solidity. Too lean for EDM without eq 


In addition comparative notes will be in italics and only included in the full Head Fi review and mentioned in the Video Reviews.

Recommend Genre ; Jazz 




Friday, September 6, 2013

The Review Process

To my readers I'm sure some of you wonder how I review, just as a quick reference I'll post some basics I may not have shared before 

My Beyerdynamic Dt 880 is my one and only reference can, past reviews have featured a used of multiple cans, but seeing as I own the Dt 880 again [I had it in the past] it is my standard. That said the review of it will not be compared again'st any other headphone. In addition the Beyer Dt 880 is currently the most, balanced and detailed can that I own! Making it really a true reference headphone! 

In addition here is a picture of the Eq that I use in FooBar, and while I try to avoid using Eq's I do find that the fun of EDM is the color we add to it! Also pictured is the spectrual analyzer that I use when I listen to music, the Spectrum graph helps pin point sound to their respective frequencies, like a cheat sheet to help my ears ;3 




Additionally,  I take pictures with my Samsung Galaxy Exhibt 2, which hopefully will soon be replaced. So that you all can enjoy some higher quality photos!

The song's I listen to are also songs that I have enjoyed for many years, so I take note to have a copy of those songs with my no matter where I am, I even listen to [the same 7 seven songs] as I drive around, My old song list was comprised of about 10, but I've then thinned it down to 7.

Last, I would love to hear some suggestions from you guys! I'm always open to a little change in how I type up my reviews.

Lastly I write and edit my reviews in Microsoft Office Word 2010, I keep them saved as hard drive as well as in the cloud!

As always thank you guys for reading, and look forward to the start of my Video Reviews soon!