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Product Review

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dale

Age: No Answer
Location: Akron Ohio.
Bio: Former member AES, Software consultant to JPL, Audiophile headphone user since late 1970's.

Description: Audiophile

Genres: New Wave

Sources: IPod Nano, IPod Shuffle, IPod Touch, IPad, IPhone, Mac Laptop, Mac Desktop, PC Laptop, Desktop PC, DAC Or Transport


Other gear: Shure 1840, Sennheiser Amperior, Logitech UE6000/4000, V-Moda M80, B&W P3, Audioengine D1/Dragonfly/FiiO E17 DAC/amps, PA2V2 amp.

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v-moda vamp verza Apple/desktop DAC and headphone amp

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2013-05-02
Posted on V-MODA VAMP Verza

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Exceptional sound, very flexible
Cons:

Gear used: Desktop and laptop PCs and Macbook Air running Foobar2000 and iTunes; Audioengine D1, Dragonfly, and Microstreamer DACs; PA2V2 and FiiO E17 headphone amps; v-moda M100, ATH ESW11, Beyer DT770LE, and Sennheiser IE800 headphones; various .FLAC and .WAV format music tracks.

Review note: I configured my computer settings to play 96 khz music tracks, and made certain that any of the Verza's settings for bass, 3D, etc. were set to default (off). I connected the Verza to the computer as an ordinary USB DAC, so the Verza would process the USB digital output and feed that to its own internal headphone amp. I then connected my headphone to the Verza's headphone out. Since the short USB cable I use with the Verza carries only the unprocessed digital signal, and the output to the headphone uses the cable that comes attached (usually) to the headphone, there are no cable issues per se that could potentially degrade the sound. I set the computer's volume to maximum and then used the Verza's volume control to set the headphone listening volume.

Besides using the Verza as a computer USB DAC and headphone amp, it also serves as a USB DAC and headphone amp for late-model Apple i-devices, both 30-pin and Lightning dock types. Since the Verza has its own internal battery, it's not only small and portable, but does not require more than the USB cable that comes with the i-device (iPhone/iPod/iPad) to operate. I found short (6 inch) 30-pin and Lightning USB cables at the Apple store recently, so I use those with the Verza instead of the ~36 inch cables that Apple provides with their i-devices. The Verza is larger than an iPhone 5 - about the same as the larger cell phones from Samsung etc., and about 1/2 inch thick. Using v-moda's 'Metallo' case for Apple and Samsung phones, the Verza can be locked to the Metallo case to effect a single case that can be carried in one hand, yet provide audio quality that's comparable to desktop computers with decent DACs and headphone amps.

I don't have access to other i-device DACs such as the Fostex HP-P1 to compare to the Verza, but given that the Verza's sound quality as a computer DAC is at least on a par with the Dragonfly, Audioengine D1, Microstreamer etc., and that its i-device DAC is just about as good** as its computer DAC, I'm betting that the Verza's overall sound quality is at least as good as those other i-device DACs. Adding to that the versatility of use as both computer and i-device DAC, the Verza was my top choice as a universal headphone DAC and amp.

**Apple i-devices don't play '.WAV' tracks with the full 96 khz and 24-bit resolution that's available on computers, so the shorter bandwidth when using i-devices with the Verza is a limitation of the i-device, not the Verza.

Comparing the Verza as a computer DAC to the 3 mini-DACs noted above, the sound quality was comparable, but with some music tracks the Verza seemed to have a little bit more "air" and spaciousness, and with other tracks it seemed like the advantage shifted the other way. Since all of these amps have linear responses and similar low distortion numbers on a test bench, I can only guess that the small differences I heard were the various headphone outputs reacting to the headphones' input impedances, producing slight differences at different frequencies. As an i-device DAC, the only prior experience I had was with the HRT iStreamer, and the Verza is a big step above that one in sound quality.

In spite of the similarities to other DACs I observed in the more-or-less direct comparisons I made, my first impressions of the Verza held up with longer-term listening compared to my long-term experience with the other DACs. Specifically, the Verza seemed to produce less boom in the upper bass, better impact and extension in the lower bass, and less irritation in the highs where sibilants etc. occur than the other amps I have. Some users may hear these as big differences - I hear them as more subtle most of the time, but either way my investment in the Verza seems safe insofar as I didn't find any flaws anywhere in its sound. Using the Verza on 'LO' gain with the headphones noted above, my lowest-volume tracks played fairly loud, and most of my tracks played to ear-blasting levels with no apparent clipping. Hitting pause when a modest-volume track is playing loudly, I don't hear any background noise. It's there when I turn the volume higher, but I'd say the signal-to-noise ratio is quite good.

Looking at the Verza from the front, it has a volume control knob (absolutely the only way to go in my opinion!), the headphone jack which doubles as an optical out, a rocker switch to select computer or i-device DAC, and a rocker switch to select syncing, charging, or playback. On the side is a bass boost button and a '3D' button that provides digital signal processing, so that some music tracks which may sound dull or stifled will sound much more spacious and lively with the DSP turned ON. The difference is not subtle, it's dramatic. I could even see a justification for using this to do a crude re-mix of certain tracks if I could re-route the signal to an ADC/recorder. On the back end is the micro-USB port for charging the Verza and connecting it as a computer DAC, a USB-A port for connecting the i-device cables, and the HI/LO gain switch.

The Verza's case is anodized aluminum in black or white, and seems very solid and strong. The brushed-metal finish should be good for not showing scratches as long as it isn't seriously abused. There is no standard carry case since there is no common profile for how most users will carry it. I haven't decided on a Metallo case for the iPhone 5 as yet, but I have a leather case I bought from Fossil for $12 that fits the Verza perfectly, so given the vast number of handheld devices in use today, there will be any number of cases available that can provide protection and functionality at the same time. The bottom line: Great sound from 2 DACs and headphone amp, high quality build, very nice aesthetics, small and portable, integration possibilities with Metallo case for single carry - the perfect headphone amp.

The following music tracks were my primary test material for this review:

Ben Goldberg - Root And Branch (Jazz): Clarinet, percussion, etc. - excellent sonics. The upright bass has great detail but stays mostly in the background. Great test for bass details.

Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (pop/rock): Dynamic vocals and lush ambiance with excellent guitar harmonics. Good test for harshness or distortion.

Clark Terry - Sugar Blues (jazz): Strong trumpet blasts, especially around 4:20 into the track. Great test for harshness or distortion.

Donald Fagen - Morph The Cat (pop/rock): Very strong bass guitar notes with impressive detail. Excellent test for bass detail and impact.

Emily Palen - The Inevitability of Water (violin improvisation): Amazing violin dynamics and upper harmonics, especially after 0:50 into the track. This is my number one test for ambiance and "air".

Hans Zimmer - Aggressive Expansion/Dark Knight Theme (soundtrack): Very strong percussion followed by very deep "shuddery" bass notes at 0:44 into the track. Excellent test for deep bass response.

Hugo Audiophile 15-16 (electronic): Superb guitar tones and deep bass notes at 0:33 into the track. Good test for guitar tone and bass impact.

Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (classical): Bright harpsichord sound. Excellent test for treble accuracy and transient response.

Trombone Shorty - Backatown (jazz/funk): Characteristic trombone sounds with very strong yet detailed deep bass. Perfect test for bass detail and impact.

William Orbit - Optical Illusion (Billy Buttons Mix) (ethereal/vocal/ambient): Subtle string tones and ambiance. Good track for comparing various amps and headphones to competing models for overall differences.




7 out of 7 people found this review helpful. Did you?

HRT MicroStreamer USB DAC and headphone amp

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2013-05-02
Posted on HRT MicroStreamer

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Excellent sound, small size
Cons:

When I connected the HRT MicroStreamer to my PC and Mac computers I was pleasantly surprised that it interfaced perfectly with no configuration effort. The MicroStreamer is a very small USB device with a mini-USB jack on one end and two 3.5 mm jacks for headphone and Line Out on the other end. I confirmed that the Line Out jack delivers the same signal (audibly) as the headphone jack when the computer and music player volume are set to their respective maximums. With this "repurposed" digital volume control, where the system volume is actually taken over by the DAC so that decreasing the volume doesn't compromise audio quality, it's generally advised to keep the music player volume at maximum and use the system volume slider only.

HRT supplies a 19-inch USB cable with the MicroStreamer, which I replaced with a 12-inch cable. Since the asynchronous DAC re-syncs the bits after they arrive at the DAC, I assume a short USB cable should suffice to preclude any cable-induced losses. On the other hand, when using the Line Out jack to feed the DAC's analog output to a headphone amp or power amp that has its own volume control, that interconnect cable should be as high in quality and as short as possible.

The key feature that distinguishes this mini-DAC from other audio devices that perform the same function is having a DAC and headphone amp** together in one little plug-in device. For people who have been using the headphone jack on their desktop or laptop computers, and assuming that those computers have USB ports, they should expect better sound using the MicroStreamer instead of the computer's headphone jack. The actual improvement with my computers is a cleaner sound with a greater sense of "space" and "air" around the instruments. The tiny size for what it does may suggest to some audiophiles that the MicroStreamer's sound would be of much less quality than the typically separate DACs and headphone amps selling for a much higher price. My feeling is that for good quality computer audio played on the typical dynamic headphones that will be used with a small DAC/amp like this, the sound quality of the MicroStreamer is more than adequate.

**While I don't have the original text in hand, I recall a designer of one of the first mini-DACs (HeadStreamer, DragonFly et al) stating that the mini-DAC does not contain a headphone amp per se, but that it provides a variable-volume signal sufficient to drive an average dynamic headphone.

Performing comparisons today with the MicroStreamer and AudioQuest DragonFly mini-DACs, playing a variety of 96 khz music tracks downloaded from the HDTracks and DownloadsNow sites, the main difference I hear is a smoother sound from the MicroStreamer, as though there were greater detail with less distortion, or conversely some rounding off of transients as one might expect with a valve/tube amplifier. It might be possible to pin those differences down to measurable performance data, but I've seen instances where measurements say one thing and expert ears (not mine) say something different, so I'll leave it go at the impression of smoothness and better musical detail, and someone else can determine whether it really sounds better or certain problems are being masked by the device's limitations in absolute accuracy.

When I performed listening tests of the HRT HeadStreamer, Audioengine D1, and AudioQuest DragonFly mini-DACs a few months ago, I found very little difference in their sound, and concluded that the differences weren't significant for music playback on those devices using mid-priced dynamic headphones. Since then I've looked at two new mini-DACs - the Meridian Explorer and the HRT MicroStreamer. If I had information that suggested the Explorer might sound significantly better than the MicroStreamer, I would have held off on purchasing the MicroStreamer until I was more certain of the differences. As it turned out, I got the idea that the MicroStreamer might be as good as the Explorer in the main despite the lower cost, so I went ahead and bought the MicroStreamer. If it turns out that the MicroStreamer is rated lower in sound quality than the Explorer by trusted reviewers, I won't be disappointed since the sound I'm hearing from the MicroStreamer is excellent, and a good value for what I paid.

Questions have come up as to whether a typical computer's USB port can supply enough power to run the MicroStreamer's DAC and headphone amp, to provide good volume especially in the bass where the greatest power demands occur, and to have enough headroom to avoid clipping or otherwise distorting the loudest most dynamic music passages. The answer is a qualified yes, since I have many FLAC format music tracks with a 96 khz data rate that have extreme dynamics which distort noticeably when sufficient power is not available, and all of those (so far!) play loudly enough on the MicroStreamer. The headphones I've tested the MicroStreamer with are the ATH ESW11-LTD, Soundmagic HP200, and Beyer DT770LE. There were a few tracks where I had the computer volume at maximum with the DT770LE, but that headphone does have a lower efficiency than the 32 ohm rating indicates. Still, caution is advised since I expect that many headphones won't play loudly enough with the MicroStreamer with some music tracks.

The MicroStreamer is a 63 x 30 x 11 mm aluminum box with the ports on either end as noted above, and with LEDs on the side for 32, 44, 48, 88, and 96 khz sample rates. It comes in a tiny cardboard box with a 19-inch USB cable and a very thin "bag" that presumably would hold the MicroStreamer and the cable, for carrying around in a computer bag or backpack. I'd suggest a better more protective case, such as Case Logic makes for carrying various memory cards or very small digital cameras.



13 out of 13 people found this review helpful. Did you?

AudioQuest DragonFly USB DAC and headphone amp

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2013-05-02
Posted on AudioQuest DragonFly USB-DAC Amp

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Excellent sound, small size
Cons:

When I connected the AudioQuest DragonFly to my computers I was pleasantly surprised that it interfaced perfectly with no configuration effort. Since the DragonFly is exactly like a typical USB thumb drive, excepting the 3.5 mm jack on the end where headphones and other output devices are connected, the only cable issues occur when you connect something other than a headphone such as powered speakers or a power amp to drive non-powered speakers. In such a case I would recommend a very high quality cable to maintain the full benefit of the DragonFly's sound processing properties.

There is no physical volume control on the DragonFly, no doubt because it's just a small USB device the same size as a typical USB thumb drive. Since you'll need the computer's volume controls with the DragonFly, how they work on the different computers can be a minor challenge. On PC's using Foobar2000, I keep the Foobar volume slider all the way up and open the computer's volume window after Foobar is loaded. I suppose you could set the computer volume to maximum and then use the Foobar slider, but in my case the Foobar volume slider is so small I use the computer slider instead and that works fine. There may be cases where one method is better than the other sonically, but I didn't find that to be significant in my case. On the Apple Mac I use iTunes only with WAV-format files, and there I set the computer volume to maximum and used iTunes' volume slider instead.

One thing I really like about the DragonFly besides the convenience of having a DAC and headphone amp in one little plug-in device is the fact that it doesn't get very warm in use. My air conditioner died about 36 hours ago and I've been running a laptop PC with the DragonFly in an indoor temperature ranging from 86 to 89 degrees F. While the DragonFly feels slightly warm after playing music for a couple of hours, it's surprisingly cool given the ambient temperature plus the fact that all of those electronics and the LED status light are contained in such a small package. The body is 1.75 inches long less the metal USB connector, the width is nearly 0.75 inches, and the height approximately 0.5 inches including the small hump on top which accomodates the 3.5 mm headphone jack. Fortunately the DragonFly includes a good secure cap for the USB connector, but I don't see a way to attach a lanyard to it.

For those people who have been using the headphone jack on their desktop or laptop computers, and assuming that those computers have USB ports, they should expect better sound using the DragonFly instead of the computer's headphone jack. The actual improvement with my computers is a cleaner sound with a greater sense of "space" and "air" around the instruments. The fact that the DragonFly includes both a DAC and headphone amp in such a tiny package suggests to most audiophiles that the DragonFly's sound would be of much less quality than the typical separate DAC's and headphone amps selling for twice as much or more. I don't own the more expensive separates myself, but I have other DAC-plus-headphone-amp devices such as the HRT Headstreamer and Audioengine D1, and I have the HRT iStreamer DAC-only for Apple i-devices that I use with the Objective2 headphone amp.

I don't hear anything to suggest that the DragonFly is less than a good upgrade to the computer's headphone output in spite of the very small size. Doing lengthy comparisons yesterday and today with the DragonFly and my other DAC-plus-headphone-amps, playing a variety of 96 khz music tracks downloaded from the HDTracks and DownloadsNow sites, I don't hear a significant difference between them. I did expect to hear some differences in the ultra-high-frequency harmonics and so on, but in spite of the amazing detail in these tracks and the resolution of the USB DAC/amp devices, there's so little difference that I could easily guess wrong about which is better than the other. I could tell rather easily that these 3 DAC/amps were better than the iStreamer plus Objective2 headphone amp (and I think the limiting factor there is the iStreamer) and better also than the FiiO E17 DAC/amp which has additional features.

I'm going to take a guess here that since the DragonFly costs about $80 USD more than the Audioengine D1 and $110 more than the Headstreamer, and given the very small differences in sound (for the intended users at least), I expect people will buy the DragonFly because of the small size and convenience of not having to use a USB cable, or possibly other reasons. If such a small USB DAC were used with audio systems driving speakers, then one extra little cable would probably not make any difference, especially since the cable carries only digital data and the signal processing and jitter reduction occur after the cable in the DAC. But used with headphones, plugging the DragonFly directly into the USB port without a cable is a great convenience, especially when a laptop computer is being used away from the home desk/workstation.

An important issue to consider when purchasing audio components to improve sound quality is detail, i.e. how much additional detail will be revealed in the music tracks by the new components. It's possible that a new audio component could reveal existing distortions in the recording in a way that makes them less pleasant to listen to, and some buyers may experience that dreaded feeling of "Uh-oh, I need to buy more stuff", or "Crap - this isn't working out the way I expected". I didn't have that issue with the DragonFly though - the sound was more revealing but less harsh, which is interesting since I would normally expect more harshness and sibilance with the greater detail. I suppose it's the natural result of having better components to process the data in those digital music tracks.

Questions have come up in several places as to whether a typical computer's USB port can supply enough power to run the DragonFly's DAC and headphone amp, to provide good volume especially in the bass where the greatest power demands occur, and to have enough headroom to avoid clipping or otherwise distorting the loudest most dynamic music passages. The answer seems to be yes, since I have many FLAC format music tracks with a 96 khz data rate that have extreme dynamics which distort noticeably when sufficient power is not available. Some of those tracks that I've made 320k MP3 copies of for playing on the iPhone will not play on the iPhone at the full volume I prefer because of the extreme dynamics, however those same MP3's will play without clipping on the computer using the DragonFly DAC and headphone amp. Headphones tested with include the Shure 1840, Philips L1, ATH M50, and B&W P3/P5.



24 out of 24 people found this review helpful. Did you?

FiiO E12 portable headphone amp

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2013-05-02
Posted on FiiO E12 Mont Blanc

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Great sound, portable size
Cons:

The new FiiO Mont Blanc (no affiliation with Mont Blanc writing pens) headphone amp is about the same length as the iPhone 4s, about 1/4 inch wider, and about 50 percent thicker, which is still very slim for the overall size. Given the expected battery capacity (12 or more hours on a charge) and the amount of power output this amp has (850 mw maximum), the overall size is respectably small. But before I describe the build and features I want to describe the sound.

I connected an iPod Touch 5th gen. to the E12 using a 5-inch FiiO LOD cable with the Apple DAC adapter, and an identical iPod Touch to my PA2V2 amp using an identical cable and adapter, playing WAV-format tracks on one and 320k CBR MP3 tracks I converted from my WAV tracks on the other. When the WAV tracks were playing through the PA2V2 amp, the sound was clearly better than the MP3's playing through the E12 amp, and so I switched the iPods and re-listened, and the better quality went to the E12 in about the same proportion. I also ended up comparing the WAV and MP3 tracks on the same iPod through the E12 only and confirmed the difference, which was surprising insofar as how much difference there was and how easy it was to hear.

So the high end of the E12 and the PA2V2 were comparable, at least with no obvious differences, but the bass was a different matter. Using the E12 with the bass switch set to OFF, the bass seemed slightly less boomy and had slightly better deep-bass impact than the PA2V2. This is a fairly subtle difference, but one that you'd really notice with longer term listening. My overall impression of the E12 sound is that it's very clear and clean, with excellent deep-bass impact and highs that are extended and detailed, but smooth and non-irritating. The bass boost switch works well in that the deep bass gets a noticeable boost along with the upper bass, and there's an increase in overall warmth. Using the E12 outdoors or on public transport, you might find that the bass boost makes very little audible difference because of the ambient noise, but used in a quieter place the difference is dramatic.

I'm finding that all of my common dynamic headphones get plenty of volume within the low (zero) gain setting, with no background amp noise at maximum volume, so I tried the high (16) gain setting, and that boosted the volume quite a bit. With the gain on high and the volume turned all the way up to maximum (with the music paused of course) the background noise from the amp was barely audible, and inaudible just a bit below maximum. I'd guess the amp noise is 30 db or so below my listening level, and much better in that respect than the other amps I'm currently using. The crossfeed switch seems to collapse the soundstage on nearly every track I tried it with, and as an experienced headphone listener, I don't find it particularly useful. I was concerned about whether the sound quality of the E12 might change with the low or high gain setting, but comparing as carefully as I could, I didn't hear any differences.

The E12 is a solid and slim aluminum box (size described above), black anodized, with only one significant projection on the front end being the volume control knob. That knob is rather stiff, so it won't get changed when being carried around and occasionally bumped. The small blue LED next to the volume knob notes the power on and good battery status. Another LED to the left of that one comes on when the battery is low. There are just 3 ports on the E12 - a micro USB charging port and the Source Line In and Headphone Out ports. The E12 is simple enough with an excellent build quality, and I can't imagine anyone not loving this little amp when they get it into their hands. There's a major** difference in sound between using an iPod/iPhone/cellphone music player alone and using any of those with the E12, but that difference might be mostly lost in very noisy environments, although the volume gain and/or bass boost may help a lot.

**For less experienced users, going from a portable music player alone to using the E12 amp might seem like a very subtle change in sound quality, but to really appreciate the differences, listen at length with the E12, then switch back to the music player alone in the middle of a track and note how much of the "life" seems to disappear from the music.

The FiiO E12 comes with a short miniplug-to-miniplug cable to connect the headphone jack of a cellphone or portable music player to the E12, but since the iPod and iPhone LOD (Line Out Dock) bypasses the i-device volume control, I use the FiiO LOD cables instead of the mini-to-mini cable that FiiO includes for free.



52 out of 54 people found this review helpful. Did you?

FiiO E17 USB DAC and headphone amp

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2013-05-02
Posted on FiiO E17 Alpen

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Great sound, USB DAC, very portable, many features
Cons:

Review note: I configured my computer settings to play 96 khz music tracks ('.WAV' format on the computer, using Foobar2000), and made certain that any of the E17's settings for bass, treble, balance etc. were set to default (off). I connected the E17 to the computer as an ordinary USB DAC, so that the E17 would process the USB digital output and feed that to its own internal headphone amp. I then connected my headphone to the E17's headphone out. Since the USB cable that's used with the E17 carries only the unprocessed digital signal, and the output to the headphone uses the cable that comes attached (usually) to the headphone, there are no cable issues per se that could potentially degrade the sound. I set the computer's volume to maximum and then used the E17's volume controls to set the headphone listening volume.

I knew before I ordered the FiiO E17 that it was small, but when I removed it from the box it looked even smaller - slightly smaller than a deck of cards. One thing I really like about the E17 which is also true of the other DAC-plus-headphone-amp's I have is that it runs cool. So far I haven't detected any tendency for it to become warm laying flat on a table, where only the top and sides are able to act as heat sinks. I really hope this is a trend in personal audio, since I've bought laptop and tablet computers recently that get uncomfortably warm.

For those people who have been using the headphone jack on their desktop or laptop computers, and assuming that those computers have USB ports, they should expect better sound using the E17 instead of the computer's headphone jack. The fact that the E17 includes both a DAC and headphone amp in such a small package at a relatively low price, suggests to most audiophiles that the E17's sound would be of much less quality than the typical separate DAC's and headphone amps selling for 2 to 3 times the price of the E17.

I don't own the more expensive separates myself, but I have the Objective2 headphone amp that sells (assembled version) for more than the E17 even though the E17 is two components in one. And I don't hear anything to suggest that the E17 has lower sound quality than the Objective2, or that the E17 is less than a good upgrade to the computer's headphone jack for a bargain price. The actual improvement with my computers is a cleaner sound with a greater sense of "space" and "air" around the instruments. My experience in making that comparison taught me that I would not notice a major difference when switching from the computer's headphone jack to the E17's headphone jack. But when you listen through the E17's headphone jack for awhile and then switch back to the computer's headphone jack, that's when you notice how some of the life goes out of the sound.

An important issue to consider when purchasing audio components to improve sound quality is detail, i.e. how much additional detail will be revealed in the music tracks by the new components. It's possible that a new audio component could reveal existing distortions in the recording in a way that makes them less pleasant to listen to, and some buyers may experience that dreaded feeling of "Uh-oh, I need to buy more stuff", or "Crap - this isn't working out the way I expected". I didn't have that issue with the E17 though - the sound was more revealing but less harsh, and that seems to be a typical result of upgrading the computer's DAC and headphone amp.

I did have the Audioengine D1 DAC/amp on hand to compare to the E17, and so I set up two laptop PC's with identical installs of Foobar2000 v1.1.12 and played a few 24 bit 96 khz tracks on them, using the new B&W P3 headphone from each DAC/amp's headphone jack. There was a significant difference with the D1 having noticeably better soundstage or "space", with an impression of greater high frequency extension. Since one such property as soundstage, brightness et al can affect the perception of other sonic properties, it's not possible for me to evaluate each property separately to be sure what the absolute differences are.

I did most of my listening at what I think of as audiophile volume level, i.e. slightly on the loud side. I then ran the E17's volume up to maximum on several tracks to see if there were any limits, clipping or other distortions I could hear. The maximum volume seemed to be at least 10 db above my listening level and the sound was very clean at that volume, so I don't see any practical limits there, at least with reasonably efficient headphones. The Audioengine D1 gets all of its power from the USB whereas the FiiO E17 apparently gets its power from the internal rechargeable battery, so that may account for the E17 having greater headroom than USB-powered DAC/amps.

Looking at the FiiO E17 from the front, it has an LCD screen for browsing the menu and checking the current settings. It has up/down volume buttons, but those are digitally controlled and don't respond instantly. There are also buttons for power on/off, menu access, input type (USB, analog etc.) and 'hold'. On top are an input jack for optical/SPDIF, the 3.5 mm headphone out jack, and a recessed 'reset' button that will require a straight pin or something equivalent. On the right side is an 'LO bypass' switch that works only when docked with other FiiO products. On the bottom are a USB mini-jack, a FiiO dock connector and a 3.5 mm auxiliary (analog) input jack. One odd thing I noticed is that the E17's screen shows '96K 24bit' at all times when connected to my Windows 7 computer, regardless of the data rate of the track that's playing.

The E17's case is black-anodized aluminum and seems very solid and strong. The brushed-metal finish should be good for not showing scratches as long as the E17 isn't seriously abused. Given the quality of construction and the very nice overall appearance, I'd say they got the E17's design just right. Since the E17 has so many more features than the USB-powered DAC-plus-headphone-amps I mentioned here, and since the sound quality is slightly less, I would like to see a more expensive version of the E17 that has sound quality equal to those USB-powered DAC/amps such as the Audioengine D1 and the HRT Headstreamer. Still, the FiiO E17 is a tremendous bargain at its price point and beyond.




18 out of 20 people found this review helpful. Did you?

V-MODA M100 Stereo Headphone review by Dale

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2013-03-19
Posted on V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Shadow

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Strong bass, smooth mids and treble
Cons: Bass may be too strong for some hi-fi listening

Sources: iPhone4 alone, iPhone4 with FiiO E17 using LOD, various computers using Audioengine D1 DAC and the D1's headphone out.

First impression of the V-MODA M-100: Bass! The kind you don't have to quibble about. It's there in abundance for any conceivable need you might have. That aside, I see this M-100 as 2 headphones in one (a bargain BTW) - the extra-bass model for gaming, TV action film, house and other bass-centric music, and the hi-fi model (using bass reduction) for symphonies, folk and acoustic, jazz, rock/pop/metal, and other such delicate genres. Unless otherwise noted, all comments below apply to the M-100 using bass reduction, since I listen to music only, and my tastes are mostly midrange-centric.

The M-100's sound is somewhat dark, having less output in the presence area around 3-6 khz, and more output in the upper bass/lower midrange than my other full-size headphones (Sennheiser Momentum, Shure 1840). Some of the other dark-sounding headphones I have such as the Phiaton MS-400 don't compete with the M-100, because they don't have the clarity and accuracy of musical tone that comes with the higher quality drivers and manufacturing standards that the M-100 benefits from. Despite the impression of "dark", the overall sound is quite lush, and very smooth from top to bottom. Although I stated above that all of the comments from here down apply to using bass reduction with the M-100, I must repeat here that with bass reduction on, the bass is as strong as the Sennheiser Momentum, and the Momentum's bass is significantly stronger than neutral headphones. With bass reduction off (played flat), the M-100's bass overwhelms the midrange for the types of music I listen to.

Some of the reviews I've read describe the M-100's midrange as recessed, but of course that's with the default bass as I noted above. The only thing I would add to my above comments about the sound is a fairly strong output around 8 khz, which may emphasize sibilants on music tracks that have noticeable sibilants. This occurred with 2 of my 1800 tracks, and those were still fine at slightly reduced volume, so not an issue for me. In summary, excellent sound for high fidelity music playback, if you follow my line of reasoning. Soundstage seems average or better for a full-size closed headphone, isolation is also about average (10 db?), and leakage is moderate even with the extra earcup jack plugged. If you were using the M-100 in a quiet office next to someone else's cubicle, they would hear some sound if you played music at a normal audiophile listening volume.

The really unusual, possibly unique thing about the M-100's appearance is the military-industrial build with its subtle finishes. It's like having your own Abrams tank or B2 bomber in a custom finish - spectacular! At the time I purchased the M-100, an extra set of metal earcup side plates was offered free, with choice of color and even a custom logo. Headband clamping force with the M-100 is very moderate for a full-size headphone, and if the headband were ever to become uncomfortable on top of a user's head, I suggest pulling the earcups down an extra click so most of the weight is borne by the earcups.

The earpads go completely around my ears, unlike some headphones that are described as circumaural (around the ear). The Sennheiser Momentum is one such headphone where the earpads sit partially on my average-size ears. The earpads are very soft and spongy, covered in 'pleather' I would guess, and are the most comfortable type of earpad I've used. The M-100 is the first headphone I've had with a single-sided detachable cable that can be plugged into either the left or right earcup. The 4-foot grey fabric-covered cable is terminated with a 45-degree angled Apple miniplug, and the end that goes into the earcup is a standard (non-Apple) miniplug. In case of cable failure, any generic miniplug to miniplug cable could be used, as long as the sleeve ahead of the plug that goes into the earcup is no bigger than 7mm in diameter.

The 4-foot cable has a one-button control with mic about 13 inches down from the earcup, and an additional mic about 4 inches down from the earcup. A second (7-foot) cable is included, having the same plugs as the 4-foot cable, but no controls or microphone. The 7-foot cable also has a short (3.5 inches) extension on the end in a 'Y' configuration, where you can plug a second headphone in. I didn't try it, but I wonder what the effect on the sound would be if you plugged two 18-ohm headphones into a music player using this cable. It seems like that would create a 9-ohm load for the music player, or even less if the minimum impedance of the headphones were less than 18 ohms. The M-100 comes with a small zippered carrycase that's suitable for backpacks and airline carry-on bags.

The music tracks listed in my original V-MODA M100 review were carried over from my oldest reviews, to provide a comparison between different headphones playing the same music. Starting with this review, I'm switching to a more modern selection that I think will fit better with modern headphones like the M100. Note that the following comments are based on using the M100 with bass reduction EQ, as noted in the original review.

Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth should have good detail and tone, and both male and female vocals should sound natural, without favoring either. The M100 plays this perfectly.

Ben Heit Quartet - Suite-Magnet and Iron (Jazz with a Bebop flavor): The piano that leads off should sound realistic, and the sax should sound soft. The M100 plays this music very well.

Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice should be crisp and well-balanced, and there should be a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The M100 reproduces the space and detail convincingly, although if this is played too loudly, the sharpness of the percussive sounds could verge on irritating.

Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): Another track with plenty of space around the voice and instruments. The voice and high-frequency percussion (tambourine?) should sound natural with no harshness. The M100 plays this music perfectly.

Crystal Castles - Wrath of God (Electro-Pop): The moderate level of bass in this track should reproduce with good detail, and the ambient electronic effects should maintain their separation and never congeal into a glassy, hard, or "ringy" sound as some headphones might produce if they have uncorrected resonances. The M100 does this one just right.

DJ Shadow - Building Steam With a Grain of Salt (Electronic/DJ): This track opens with what sounds like very high and very low piano notes, and those high notes particularly might ring a few resonances in lesser headphones. The M100 handles those notes well, and reproduces the ambient voices with good tone and balance.

Franz Ferdinand - Ulysses (Pop-Rock): The moderate level of bass in this track should reproduce with good detail, and the percussion and voice should be crisp and well-balanced. The M100 makes this sound like what I imagine the original producers heard when they mixed it.

Halie Loren - Sway (Jazz vocal): Bass instrument(s) here may sound boomy with some headphones, but the M100 handles this perfectly. The trumpet should sound natural but soft, and the voice should have the right presence without sounding recessed or too forward. The M100 does a great job in both respects.

Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion hits hard here, and the M100 handles it well. The bass tones beginning around 0:45 into the track are the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind that require good deep bass response from a headphone, and the M100 delivers on those.

Kaskade - 4am (Electro-House): The bass that kicks in around 1:01 into the track is subtle, but the M100 gets it right. The percussion and female voice should balance well with neither overwriting the other, and the M100 aces this.

Katy B - Perfect Stranger (R&B-House-Garage): The heavy bass that begins at 0:27 into this track is played very well by the M100. The voice is slightly forward, but it doesn't overpower the instruments or get lost in the mix. The M100 balances the different elements in this music extremely well.

Machine Gun Kelly - All We Have (Rap/Hip-Hop): The heavy bass beats that begin at 0:23 into the track should sound like drum impacts, although they're not sharp impacts. The male and female voices should have a good balance and not overpower the music or sound recessed. The M100 plays this as good as can be expected given the limited quality of the recording.

Massive Attack - Angel (Trip-Hop): This track begins with a steady low-frequency sound and some solid deep-bass impacts. The voices should blend well with the music and have just the right presence, although the recorded quality of the instruments isn't great. The M100 plays this as good as can be expected given the limited quality of the recording.

Morcheeba - Bullet Proof (Trip-Hop): Bright percussion and medium-strength bass impacts make up most of this, with some dance-club spoken intonations thrown in. The M100 renders the percussion treble correctly (not too bright, not harsh), and the voices sound just right.

Peter Tosh - Get Up Stand Up (Reggae): The bass here has a decent but moderate impact, and the lead and backup voices have good separation that's not too narrow or wide. The M100 renders the bass with good detail and the voices sound very natural.

Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are also some "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The M100 reproduces all of these sounds faithfully.

Rachmaninoff - Prelude in C-Sharp Minor Op3 No2 (Classical, Piano): Grand piano played mechanically from an original recording by the master himself. The bass is light here, but the piano tone is good quality, and the M100 plays these notes very well.

Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and highly detailed, and the M100 renders the tones and transients superbly.

Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are unusually strong, and work very well with the horns and other instruments. The M100 delivers the impacts with proper weight, and makes the horns sound real.

William Orbit - Optical Illusion (Billy Buttons Mix) (Electronic): This is about as close as I want to get to easy-listening music. The string(?) tones beginning at 0:18 are subtle, but clearly reproduced by the M100. The bass isn't very strong, but still adds a good underpinning to the music. The short poetic rap at 4:14, preceded by an etherial female voice, sounds so perfect that this track could easily have been mixed using the M100 headphone.


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63 out of 74 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Sennheiser HD800 Open-Back Stereo Headphone

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2013-01-27
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Sound, comfort
Cons: Not portable

I bought this in June 2009 and have listened with it quite a bit. It may be the most comfortable headphone I've used, although I had to learn how to adjust the earcup extensions so that some of the weight could shift from the headband to the earcups. The tonality is slightly bright compared to many modern headphones that have recessed trebles, and does not work well with most solid state amps and low quality music sources, not to mention genres that contain extremely bright percussion. The bass is what I think of as truly neutral, and most modern adjectives such as "slam" or "thump" are non-starters here. You will discover what's in your music, like it or not. The better amps will provide the best bass control. The midrange is tonally correct, although different music tracks can yield different impressions, due in no small part to the very large earcups and the extra sonic space created therein. I'm not 100 percent convinced that the large-ish soundstage of the HD800 is entirely natural, but it certainly doesn't offend. The presence and treble are accurate and very enjoyable given good quality recordings and the experience of enjoying accurate reproduction. In fact, in all comparisons I've done to other headphones, the HD800 has out-resolved all others in upper harmonic details. This particular superiority does not require the better amps to validate however, as I've done such comparisons on the simplest of headphone amps or desktop sound cards, and the differences between the HD800 and other headphones were clearly audible in all cases.

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15 out of 16 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Phiaton MS300 Stereo Headphone review by Dale

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2012-11-07
Posted on Phiaton MS 300

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Sound, comfort, looks
Cons: Light bass, soft highs

Sources: iPhone4 alone, iPhone4 with PA2V2 amp using LOD, various computers using Audioengine D1 DAC and the D1's headphone out.

The Phiaton MS300 was released 3-1/2 years ago and is not as competitive among today's ~$200 USD headphones as it was when first released. That said, it sounds pretty good, it's possibly the most comfortable on-ear headphone I've used, and the bling factor is exceptional. My one complaint is the 1.8 mm thin cable, which is likely to fail since all of my likewise-thin B&W cables have also failed. I found it difficult to compare the MS300's sound to any of my existing headphones, since there wasn't a close match among them. The MS300 was obviously cleaner with better detail than the $99 Logitech UE4000, but I doubt that it's significantly better than the Beyerdynamic DTX501p I had recently (a rebranded Soundmagic P30?), which also costs $99.

The MS300's highs are soft, moreso than the v-moda M80, Sennheiser Momentum, and ATH ESW9A, all of which have soft highs compared to the better high fidelity headphones. I use Apple i-device treble booster or the desktop equivalent in Foobar2000 for the MS300, which makes the treble sound quite good with no sibilant problems or other irritations. My impression of the MS300's midrange is a slight hollowness, as though the mids are emphasized in the 400-500 hz range. This is noticeable in direct comparisons to some of my other headphones, but not especially noticeable when taken on its own, so my conclusion about the midrange is that it's good - I haven't experienced any irritations with peaks or forwardness caused by an emphasis in any given frequency range.

The MS300's bass is down about 6-8 db at 30 hz compared to the midrange, and while many types of music sound light in the bass with this headphone, there is noticeable bass weight and impact when the genuine tones are in the recording. I would categorize the bass as just shy of neutral, or similar to the very fine Shure 1840, to name one example. The music tracks listed below have more detail about specific qualities of the sound, including the bass. I would like to suggest that if you do mainly distracted listening with headphones on such as gaming, watching movies, or cruising the Internet, the bass may seem especially light or unsatisfactory. If you listen to music exclusive of other activities, the bass qualities will be more noticeable and more likely to satisfy.

The MS300 is very light with spongy leather-covered earpads and a moderate clamping force. I find it extremely comfortable, especially for an on-ear headphone. When wearing it, if I tilt my head forward the headband slides forward slightly, but there is no tendency for the headphone to fall off even if I shake my head a little. So it's pretty stable for moderate physical activity such as walking, and possibly for running if your head doesn't bounce too much. The earcups can be pulled all the way down and the headphone worn around your neck all day comfortably when not in use, which for me is a very important feature of a good portable headphone. The earcups can also be folded flat, which is a nice bonus. The MS300 comes with a very small and stiff zippered carrycase that every portable headphone should have. With the earcups folded flat and into the headband and the headphone inserted into the carrycase, the entire package is just 6 by 6 by 2 inches thick - very convenient.

I can grab the MS300 cable's strain-relief where it connects to the left earcup and rotate the rubber connector 360 degrees (and keep on rotating it), yet in spite of obviously not being locked or soldered into place, it apparently isn't detachable. I did some Google searches for more information on this, but found nothing. If there's any good news here it may be that the cable is easy to have replaced by Phiaton's service center, or even a competent independent technician. The cable termination is a standard 3.5 mm miniplug - no extra connectors for music player controls. The MS300's headband has about 1/2 inch of soft padding underneath, covered by the same leather used on the earpads. The earpads and the headband pad are bright red. Isolation is very modest and pretty much at high frequencies only. Leakage is moderate as well, and in a very quiet office, a person sitting in an adjacent cubicle will hear some sound unless the volume is kept fairly low.

In other reviews I've done I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to other reviews and see how the MS300 compares with each individual track.

Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled fairly well by the MS300.

Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Very good overall sound. Note the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts won't overwhelm you since they're soft and well in the background, but you can feel some of the weight they carry.

Blues Project - Caress Me Baby (1966): Rarely mentioned, but one of the greatest white blues recordings ever. The loud piercing guitar sound at 0:41 into the track is a good test for distortion or other problems. Handled well by the MS300.

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled well by the MS300.

Buffalo Springfield - Kind Woman (~1968): A Richie Furay song entirely, rarely mentioned, but one of the best sounding rock ballads ever. This will sound good on most headphones, and it's pretty good with the MS300.

Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken (early 70's): A near-perfect test for overall sound - this track will separate the best sounding headphones from the lesser quality types. Nothing specific, except that almost any deviation from perfect reproduction will stand out with this track. Sounds very good with the MS300.

Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the MS300 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

Def Leppard - Bringin' On The Heartbreak (1981): MTV goth/pop/metal at its best - good ambience and high energy - the better headphones will separate the details and make for a good experience. Lesser quality and the details tend to mush together. The MS300 plays this fairly well.

J.S. Bach - E. Power Biggs Plays Bach in the Thomaskirche (~1970): Recorded on a tracker organ in East Germany, the tracks on this recording have the authentic baroque sound that Bach composed for, albeit the bellows are operated by motor today. The MS300 plays the tones seamlessly through the upper limits of the organ, which cover nearly the full range of human hearing. Of special note are the pedal notes - tracker organs have low-pressure pipes and don't typically produce the kind of impact around 30-35 hz that modern organs do. A headphone that's lacking in the low bass will sound especially bass-shy with this type of organ, but the MS300 provides a satisfactory experience.

Jamming With Edward - It Hurts Me Too (1969): Intended originally as a test to fill studio down time and set recording levels etc., this was released a few years later for hardcore Rolling Stones fans. Although not as good technically in every aspect as the Chess studio recordings of 1964, and in spite of the non-serious vocals by Mick Jagger, this rates very high on my list of white blues recordings, and sounds very good with the MS300.

Jennifer Warnes - Rock You Gently (1992?): The strong deep bass percussion at the beginning of this track has been cited as a test for weakness or distortion in certain headphones. Having played this track many times now, I'm favorably impressed with the MS300's bass reproduction and detail throughout the track, and even the beginning notes which have a moderate impact and a distinctive drum-type sound.

Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has some loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical on some headphones. The MS300's reproduction sounds somewhat dull compared to my other headphones. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in, for maximum detail effect. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrumental separation and detail, and the MS300's reproduction (using treble boost as noted above) suggests to me that the drivers just can't keep up with the intensity of these blasts, even though the treble reproduction is fine elsewhere.

Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (~2009): Featured in The September Issue, this song has heavy overdub and will sound a bit muddy on some headphones. Sounds good with the MS300.

Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery - Delilah (Take 3) (1962): The vibraphone is heavily dependent on harmonics to sound right, and the MS300 plays it fairly well.

Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon - Speak To Me (1973): Strong deep bass impacts will be heard and felt here.

Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues (1968): Dirty, gritty blues that very few white artists could match. On some headphones the vocals and guitar lack the edge and fall more-or-less flat. If you're a really good person, playing this song will probably make you feel nervous and uneasy. Sounds great with the MS300.

Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco (1962): Frank Sinatra's favorite singer. Highest recommendation. With some of the best headphones, the sibilants on this recording are very strong, but they're not an issue with the MS300.


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2 out of 2 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Sennheiser Momentum Stereo Headphone review by Dale

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2012-10-31
Posted on Sennheiser Momentum - Brown

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Smooth, rich sound
Cons: None

Sources: iPhone4 alone, iPhone4 with PA2V2 amp using LOD, various computers using the Audioengine D1 DAC and the D1's headphone out.

First impression: Smooth sound from top to bottom with nothing standing out. My most immediate memory was the Sennheiser Amperior sound, since it was right next to me and I had been listening to it. The Momentum had much less of the lower midrange to upper bass emphasis than the Amperior, and less treble as well. Compared to what I hear as near-perfect treble (the Shure 1840, which is slightly less bright than the Sennheiser HD800), the Momentum's treble is down about 3 db at 5 khz and 5 db at 10 khz, which is probably above average for most of the new high quality headphone models. The Momentum's midrange signature is closer to the 1840 than it is to the Amperior, the upper bass to lower mids is about halfway between those two, and the deep bass about halfway as well. Specifically, the deep bass is down about 3 db from the midrange at 50 hz, and perhaps 6 db at 30 hz. Response is clearly audible at 20 hz, but well down from 30 hz.

My analysis of the Momentum's signature: Treble: Soft, but near ideal for most users. Midrange: Excellent, should be near ideal for most users. Mid to upper bass: Excellent, but not for bassheads, not even marginally. Deep bass: Slightly less than ideal, but very good. When I said that the deep bass is about halfway between the Amperior and Shure 1840, that's halfway in quantity, but very close to the Amperior in quality. My overall judgement of the Momentum is that it's a headphone which can transition well from rock to folk, metal to acoustic, jazz to classical, etc. If you like a cooler, leaner sound like the Shure 1840, the Momentum might not be a good match. If you like a really hard-hitting bass for gaming and other applications that benefit from a lot of physical sensation, also not a good match. For everything else I think the Momentum is ready to play hard, because the overall sound is smooth and free of peaks and recesses, and the quality of that sound is excellent.

The new Momentum is very lightweight for a full-size headphone, as far as I know they come in brown colors only, and someone already mentioned that it looks similar to one of the newer Philips headphones. The earpads are supposed to be circumaural (around the ear), but part of the earpads sit on part of my outer ears, so it's mostly circumaural as many other people have reported. The Phiaton MS400 headphone has very similar earpads. The Momentum's earpads are very soft, the comfort is high, and the driver assemblies sit deeply enough in the earcups that I doubt anyone will have a problem with their ears touching anything there. The faux-split headband is covered in a thin strip of leather with stiff pads underneath that have almost no flex. Although there won't be much headband pressure because of the light weight, should anyone be bothered by the stiff pads, I'd suggest pulling the earcups down slightly more than the normal amount to distribute more of the weight onto the earcups.

The headband has friction sliders without click stops, but they have no tendency in my experience to shift once set. Clamping pressure is fairly light for a full-size headphone, yet it's stable on the head with no tendency to move unless your head is tilted way down. I wouldn't recommend this for exercising unless your head stays erect and there are no rapid head movements. Although the earcups don't fold flat, they have a few degrees of lateral movement to accomodate different head shapes. The Momentum is supplied with 2 cables terminated by 3.5 mm miniplugs - the Apple cable and a standard cable, and the Apple cable only has a unique 90 degree rotatable plug on it. The thin cable (~2.2 mm thick) connects to the left earcup with a 2.5 mm plug that has a proprietary plastic locking connector ahead of the metal plug. I'd guess any 2.5 mm plug could be used if the plastic next to the metal plug is skinny enough, or shaved down so it fits into the hole at the bottom of the earcup.

The Momentum is supplied with the 2 cables, a 6.35 mm adapter plug, and a nice brown carrycase that matches the headphone color. While the case is fairly thick at 3-3/4 inches, it's still far smaller than the huge carrycases that Shure supplies with their better headphones. If I were taking the Momentum on a flight with carry-on luggage, I'd skip the case and wear the headphone around my neck until arriving at my destination, since the case would take up a lot of room in a carry-on bag.

In other reviews I've done I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to other reviews and see how the Momentum compares with each individual track.

Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled very well by the Momentum.

Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Very good overall sound. Of special note for this headphone are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts won't overwhelm you since they're soft and well in the background, but you can really feel the weight they carry.

Blues Project - Caress Me Baby (1966): Rarely mentioned, but one of the greatest white blues recordings ever. The loud piercing guitar sound at 0:41 into the track is a good test for distortion or other problems. Handled very well here.

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled very well by the Momentum.

Buffalo Springfield - Kind Woman (~1968): A Richie Furay song entirely, rarely mentioned, but one of the best sounding rock ballads ever. This will sound good on most headphones, but it's a special treat with the Momentum.

Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken (early 70's): A near-perfect test for overall sound - this track will separate the best sounding headphones from the lesser quality types. Nothing specific, except that almost any deviation from perfect reproduction will stand out with this track. Sounds very good on the Momentum.

Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the Momentum renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

Def Leppard - Bringin' On The Heartbreak (1981): MTV goth/pop/metal at its best - good ambience and high energy - the better headphones will separate the details and make for a good experience. Lesser quality and the details tend to mush together. The Momentum plays this perfectly.

J.S. Bach - E. Power Biggs Plays Bach in the Thomaskirche (~1970): Recorded on a tracker organ in East Germany, the tracks on this recording have the authentic baroque sound that Bach composed for, albeit the bellows are operated by motor today. The Momentum plays the tones seamlessly through the upper limits of the organ, which cover nearly the full range of human hearing. Of special note are the pedal notes - tracker organs have low-pressure pipes and don't typically produce the kind of impact around 30-35 hz that modern organs do. A headphone that's lacking even a little in the low bass will sound especially bass-shy with this type of organ, but the Momentum delivers the full experience of this music.

Jamming With Edward - It Hurts Me Too (1969): Intended originally as a test to fill studio down time and set recording levels etc., this was released a few years later for hardcore Rolling Stones fans. Although not as good technically in every aspect as the Chess studio recordings of 1964, and in spite of the non-serious vocals by Mick Jagger, this rates very high on my list of white blues recordings, and sounds absolutely delicious with the Momentum.

Jennifer Warnes - Rock You Gently (1992?): The strong deep bass percussion at the beginning of this track has been cited as a test for weakness or distortion in certain headphones. The Momentum plays those notes with good impact and control. Having played this track a number of times now, I'm highly impressed with the Momentum's bass reproduction and detail throughout the track.

Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has some loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical on some headphones. The Momentum provides very good reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in, for maximum detail effect. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrumental separation and detail, and the Momentum aces them.

Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (~2009): Featured in The September Issue, this song has heavy overdub and will sound a bit muddy on some headphones. Sounds great with the Momentum.

Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery - Delilah (Take 3) (1962): The vibraphone is heavily dependent on harmonics to sound right, and the Momentum plays it superbly.

Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon - Speak To Me (1973): Strong deep bass impacts will be heard and felt here.

Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues (1968): Dirty, gritty blues that very few white artists could match. On some headphones the vocals and guitar lack the edge and fall more-or-less flat. If you're a really good person, playing this song will probably make you feel nervous and uneasy.

Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco (1962): Frank Sinatra's favorite singer. Highest recommendation. With some of the best headphones, the sibilants on this recording are very strong, but they're not bad with the Momentum.


Sound Quality
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Look & Feel
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30 out of 32 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Sennheiser Amperior Stereo Headphone review by Dale

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2012-10-31
Posted on Sennheiser HD25 Amperior

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Rich, warm sound
Cons: Emphasized upper bass.

Sources: iPhone4 alone, iPhone4 with FiiO E17 using LOD, various computers using Audioengine D1 DAC and the D1's headphone out.


First impression: A lush sound from top to bottom with everything represented equally. I was surprised by the evenness of this sound, and by the clarity which I didn't expect from a modestly-priced Sennheiser, so since there were other people with me at the Apple store in Akron, I asked a couple of them to pick a song and have a listen. The feedback I got was consistent: Each person listened and exclaimed how they could hear everything - bass, mids, treble - so clearly. I recall my recent experience with the new v-moda white M80 headphone, and how remarkably free of coloration it was. The Amperior takes that experience to a new level with better highs and a somewhat livelier presentation. The liveliness or lushness may simply be a result of stronger and better highs, but there it is for whatever the cause might be.


I don't feel I should just offer my impressions of the sound and let it go at that, because it doesn't give people much to go on. For instance, bass that's strong for me might be weak for someone else. So I like to compare the sound to other headphones I have or had recently. Comparing to the ATH M50, the bass is comparable down to about 30 hz, although the M50's bass increases slightly on the very deep end. The Amperior doesn't seem to have any useful output at 15 hz as does the v-moda M80, and 20 hz sounds much weaker than 30 hz. With most of my better headphones, 20 hz sounds weaker than 30 hz, but with the Amperior the difference is more pronounced. Bass from 30 hz up is good - noticeably stronger than headphones like the Shure 1840, and close to the ATH M50's bass. Since the Amperior's impedance is only 18 ohms, you're likely to experience differences in the bass depending on what you plug it into, although with the iPod Touch and iPhone 4, the bass is very good.


The Amperior's mids were not at all difficult to judge, since they were clear and uncolored on my first listen, and nothing since then has altered that impression. They're not forward or recessed to any noticeable extent, and instruments and vocals sound right. I don't sense any limitations from the on-ear design or small openings in the earcups. The Amperior's sound is pretty much like my full-size closed headphones in terms of soundstage and lack of any congestion like you might expect from smaller on-ear designs. The highs are similar to the Philips L1 and Shure 1840, but there is no emphasis around 2-3 khz like the 1840, and the presence region around 4 to 6 khz does not have the emphasis that the L1 has. In essence, the mids and highs sound rather neutral to me, yet don't have a noticeable veil like I've experienced with some other Sennheiser headphones.


The new Amperior looks pretty much the same as what people are reporting for the Sennheiser HD-25 series, although the Amperior has aluminum earcups which purportedly, in conjunction with secret damping materials, reduce unwanted resonances and other bad things. The blue earcups (there are other colors available) are dark enough that it doesn't scream for attention like certain of the fashion headphone models. The headband, which splits into two parts, seems to be entirely plastic, but because of the design there is very little flexing when putting it on, so I suppose it shouldn't snap as long as it's not abused. Clamping pressure seems light to me, and due to the soft earpad design that spreads the pressure over the entire ear, it doesn't have any tendency to get uncomfortable. I do find that I'm moving the earpads slightly within the first few minutes of listening, but this design is more comfortable for me than the 10-12 other on-ear headphones I've used in the past year.


The cable is single-sided and detachable on the right, which is the opposite of other single-sided configurations I've had up to this point. Like the Philips L1 and M1, there is a dongle or "pigtail" that extends about 12 inches below the earcup, and the cable extension (female minijack to male miniplug) connects to that dongle. The Amperior comes with two rather thin cable extensions, one with the Apple-style miniplug and the other the standard miniplug without the extra Apple connector. The Amperior does not come with any sort of carrycase - the box it ships in has foam inserts to protect the headphone, but that box isn't useful for putting into small luggage bags for airline travel etc. The very small v-moda M80 carrycase would fit the Amperior perfectly except for the plastic extensions at the left and right ends of the headband, so I'm on the lookout for a travel carrycase for the Amperior.


In other reviews I've done I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to other reviews and see how the Amperior compares with each individual track. I'd like to add here that although I avoid typecasting headphones for any particular genre, and while the Amperior plays all genres very well in my view, I get the sense from playing these tracks that this is the first hi-fi headphone I've heard which has a really good high end that also makes rock music sound excellent, with little or none of the usual irritations that plague rock music on high fidelity headphones.


Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled very well by the Amperior.


Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound. Of special note for this headphone are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts won't overwhelm you since they're soft and well in the background, but you can feel the weight they carry.


Blues Project - Caress Me Baby (1966): Rarely mentioned, but one of the greatest white blues recordings ever. The loud piercing guitar sound at 0:41 into the track is a good test for distortion or other problems. Handled very well here.


Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled very well by the Amperior.


Buffalo Springfield - Kind Woman (~1968): A Richie Furay song entirely, rarely mentioned, but one of the best sounding rock ballads ever. This will sound good on most headphones, but it's a special treat with the Amperior.


Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken (early 70's): A near-perfect test for overall sound - this track will separate the best sounding headphones from the lesser quality types. Nothing specific, except that almost any deviation from perfect reproduction will stand out with this track. Sounds very good on the Amperior.


Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the Amperior renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.


Def Leppard - Bringin' On The Heartbreak (1981): MTV goth/pop/metal at its best - good ambience and high energy - the better headphones will separate the details and make for a good experience. Lesser quality and the details tend to mush together. The Amperior plays this perfectly.


J.S. Bach - E. Power Biggs Plays Bach in the Thomaskirche (~1970): Recorded on a tracker organ in East Germany, the tracks on this recording have the authentic baroque sound that Bach composed for, albeit the bellows are operated by motor today. The Amperior plays the tones seamlessly through the upper limits of the organ, which cover nearly the full range of human hearing. Of special note are the pedal notes - tracker organs have low-pressure pipes and don't typically produce the kind of impact around 30-35 hz that modern organs do. A headphone that's lacking even a little in the low bass will sound especially bass-shy with this type of organ, but the Amperior delivers the full experience of this music.


Jamming With Edward - It Hurts Me Too (1969): Intended originally as a test to fill studio down time and set recording levels etc., this was released a few years later for hardcore Rolling Stones fans. Although not as good technically in every aspect as the Chess studio recordings of 1964, and in spite of the non-serious vocals by Mick Jagger, this rates very high on my list of white blues recordings, and sounds absolutely delicious with the Amperior.


Jennifer Warnes - Rock You Gently (1992?): The strong deep bass percussion at the beginning of this track has been cited as a test for weakness or distortion in certain headphones. The Amperior plays those notes with good impact and control. Having played this track a number of times now, I'm highly impressed with the Amperior's bass reproduction and detail throughout the track.


Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has some loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical on some headphones. The Amperior provides very good reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in, for maximum detail effect. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrumental separation and detail, and the Amperior aces them.


Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (~2009): Featured in The September Issue, this song has heavy overdub and will sound a bit muddy on some headphones. Sounds great with the Amperior.


Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery - Delilah (Take 3) (1962): The vibraphone is heavily dependent on harmonics to sound right, and the Amperior plays it superbly.


Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon - Speak To Me (1973): Strong deep bass impacts will be heard and felt here.


Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues (1968): Dirty, gritty blues that very few white artists could match. On some headphones the vocals and guitar lack the edge and fall more-or-less flat. If you're a really good person, playing this song will probably make you feel nervous and uneasy.


Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco (1962): Frank Sinatra's favorite singer. Highest recommendation. With some of the best headphones, the sibilants on this recording are very strong, but they're not a problem with the Amperior.


Sound Quality
Comfort
Look & Feel
Durability

25 out of 26 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Audio-Technica ATH-ESW9A Stereo Headphone

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2012-10-31
Posted on Audio-Technica ATH-ESW9A

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Bass, Mids, Treble outstanding
Cons: Possibly fragile, no protective case

Sources: iPhone4 alone, iPhone4 with PA2V2 amp using LOD, various computers using the Audioengine D1 DAC and the D1's headphone out.

First impression: Soft highs, like so many of the newer high-quality headphones these days. The treble is about 5 db lower than the Shure 1840 (a non-bright headphone) at 10 khz, and gradually rises to the same level around 2-3 khz. I used a slight boost in Foobar2000 to get close to the 1840's output, so I could compare the other qualities on a more or less equal basis. Larger amounts of EQ can introduce distortions as well as irregularities in the frequency balance, but my small test adjustment proved successful. Vocals and instruments with the ESW9A were very similar in presence and harmonic quality to the 1840, but seemed very subtly rougher, which may be an unavoidable result of trying to bring the two signatures closer for these tests. Other than that, the sound is very similar except that the ESW9A is somewhat darker and bassier. The bass is strong, yet doesn't have the kind of upper bass emphasis that colors or muddies the lower midrange.

I ran a series of tone sweeps with the ESW9A to confirm what I was hearing in these preliminary tests, and the only significant variances from flat or neutral (compared to my most neutral headphones) were a slight emphasis at 2 khz and 7 khz, and a gradual rolloff in the deep bass to approximately -3 db at 50 hz and -6 db at 30 hz. This bass response is similar to what I experienced with the new Sennheiser Momentum, except that the Momentum has looser, less well defined tones and impact at the same output level. I expected the ESW9A to have a dramatically smaller sense of space or soundstage than the Shure 1840, since the 1840 is an open model and the ESW9A is a small on-ear closed headphone. The difference was there, but not dramatic, which was quite a surprise. Compared to the Momentum, vocals seem clearer with the ESW9A, and not just because they're more forward (they are, somewhat), but it's probably the same effect as the ESW9A's tighter and better-defined bass.

My overall analysis of the ESW9A's sound: Treble: Soft, but near ideal for most users. Midrange: Excellent, should be near ideal for most users. Mid to upper bass: Excellent, but not for bassheads, not even marginally. Deep bass: Slightly less than ideal, but very good. My overall judgement of the ESW9A is that it's a headphone which can transition well between genres that like a strong yet detailed bass, such as rock or some of the house music, and also those genres that favor vocal and instrumental tone such as jazz, classical, folk, and acoustic. If you like a cooler, leaner sound like the Shure 1840, the ESW9A might not be a good match. If you like a really hard-hitting bass for gaming and other applications that benefit from a lot of physical sensation, also not a good match. For everything else I think the ESW9A is ready to play hard, because the overall sound is smooth and free of peaks and recesses, and the quality of that sound is excellent.

The new ESW9A seems slightly above average in weight for a small on-ear headphone, but due to the soft spongy earcups and the very spongy lining under the headband, the weight will not be noticeable. The moderate clamping force will get much more attention than the headphone's weight, but because the earcups have a wide range of rotation and those cushy earpads, the comfort level will be high. With the earcups folded flat and pulled all the way down, the ESW9A can be worn around the neck comfortably, but it's a tight fit, with the eacups less than an inch from my adam's apple. The outer face of the earcups is supposed to be some kind of exotic wood, yet it looks to me like it could easily be made of plastic, so if it really is wood I can't tell. The ESW9A does look very nice in an understated way - not a fashion/bling headphone in the modern sense, but more like the look of an old library with dark wood fixtures, with its patrons wearing cardigans and smoking tobacco pipes.

The ESW9A's cable is dual-sided, non-detachable, and terminated by a 3.5 mm plug. The wires going to the earcups are 2 mm thick, and the two sides become bonded together (but separable) about 15 inches below the earcups. Total cable length is about 4.5 feet. The ESW9A did not include a 6.35 mm adapter plug, but did include a flat plastic carry bag that I would not recommend using. Although the headphone does not look especially fragile for normal use (unless you yank the very thin cable frequently), any impacts on the thin plastic carry bag could easily damage it.

In other reviews I've done I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to other reviews and see how the ESW9A compares with each individual track.

Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled very well by the ESW9A.

Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Very good overall sound. Of special note for this headphone are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts won't overwhelm you since they're soft and well in the background, but you can really feel the weight they carry.

Blues Project - Caress Me Baby (1966): Rarely mentioned, but one of the greatest white blues recordings ever. The loud piercing guitar sound at 0:41 into the track is a good test for distortion or other problems. Handled very well here.

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled very well by the ESW9A.

Buffalo Springfield - Kind Woman (~1968): A Richie Furay song entirely, rarely mentioned, but one of the best sounding rock ballads ever. This will sound good on most headphones, but it's a special treat with the ESW9A.

Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken (early 70's): A near-perfect test for overall sound - this track will separate the best sounding headphones from the lesser quality types. Nothing specific, except that almost any deviation from perfect reproduction will stand out with this track. Sounds excellent on the ESW9A.

Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the ESW9A renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

Def Leppard - Bringin' On The Heartbreak (1981): MTV goth/pop/metal at its best - good ambience and high energy - the better headphones will separate the details and make for a good experience. Lesser quality and the details tend to mush together. The ESW9A plays this perfectly.

J.S. Bach - E. Power Biggs Plays Bach in the Thomaskirche (~1970): Recorded on a tracker organ in East Germany, the tracks on this recording have the authentic baroque sound that Bach composed for, albeit the bellows are operated by motor today. The ESW9A plays the tones seamlessly through the upper limits of the organ, which cover nearly the full range of human hearing. Of special note are the pedal notes - tracker organs have low-pressure pipes and don't typically produce the kind of impact around 30-35 hz that modern organs do. A headphone that's lacking even a little in the low bass will sound especially bass-shy with this type of organ, but the ESW9A delivers the full experience of this music.

Jamming With Edward - It Hurts Me Too (1969): Intended originally as a test to fill studio down time and set recording levels etc., this was released a few years later for hardcore Rolling Stones fans. Although not as good technically in every aspect as the Chess studio recordings of 1964, and in spite of the non-serious vocals by Mick Jagger, this rates very high on my list of white blues recordings, and sounds absolutely delicious with the ESW9A.

Jennifer Warnes - Rock You Gently (1992?): The strong deep bass percussion at the beginning of this track has been cited as a test for weakness or distortion in certain headphones. The ESW9A plays those notes with good impact and control. Having played this track a number of times now, I'm highly impressed with the ESW9A's bass reproduction and detail throughout the track.

Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has some loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical on some headphones. The ESW9A provides very good reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in, for maximum detail effect. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrumental separation and detail, and the ESW9A aces them.

Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (~2009): Featured in The September Issue, this song has heavy overdub and will sound a bit muddy on some headphones. Sounds great with the ESW9A.

Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery - Delilah (Take 3) (1962): The vibraphone is heavily dependent on harmonics to sound right, and the ESW9A plays it superbly.

Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon - Speak To Me (1973): Strong deep bass impacts will be heard and felt here.

Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues (1968): Dirty, gritty blues that very few white artists could match. On some headphones the vocals and guitar lack the edge and fall more-or-less flat. If you're a really good person, playing this song will probably make you feel nervous and uneasy.

Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco (1962): Frank Sinatra's favorite singer. Highest recommendation. With some of the best headphones, the sibilants on this recording are very strong, but not with the ESW9A.


Sound Quality
Comfort
Look & Feel
Durability

4 out of 6 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Sennheiser PX-200ii Headphone Review by Dale

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2012-05-18
Posted on Sennheiser PX 200-II

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Great sound
Cons: Embedded volume control

Notes for this review: The PX-200ii has a significant and broad midrange emphasis, or conversely, a rolled off low and high end. The sound thus comes off as somewhat lightweight, and most reviewers have noted that long ago. Since the PX-200ii is small and light and made for portable music players, even sporting a version with iPod controls as the 'PX-200-IIi', I was curious about how it would respond to iPod/iPhone EQ to correct (even partially) for the recessed lows and highs. It turns out that the i-device 'ROCK' EQ pushes down the mids just enough that the resulting sound is much better, very near high fidelity except lacking just a slight bit of clarity and detail.

For this review I mostly used the iPod Touch, iPhone 4s and iPad 3, although I also used the Objective2 headphone amp to see what difference that would make (it did help, so when using the PX-200ii at home, a decent amp will make it sound even better).

So how is the EQ'd sound? Excellent. The bass is now very solid and deep, the highs are pretty good, and the mids are neither forward nor distant. During my 200-track listening session, I did a few non-critical comparisons to the Shure SRH-1840, the Philips L1 (with bass reduction), the Beyer DT-1350, the Bose OE2i, and the B&W P5. The B&W P5 played flat with no EQ does not sound good compared to the EQ'd PX-200ii - it sounds muffled and very forward at the same time, and although the best EQ I could find for the P5 was 'Treble Booster', it only helped a little. The PX-200ii won that one. The Bose OE2i fared slightly better having a near-perfect bass and decent mids, but it has a very rolled off high end and also requires a treble boost, so with that EQ adjustment the OE2i is a closer competitor but still the loser.

The Beyer DT-1350 is the real competition here, although like the B&W P5, it costs several times as much as the PX-200ii. The DT-1350 has a noticeable edge in clarity, detail, and even smoothness of response, however the DT-1350 has a large midrange emphasis that needs EQ to sound its best. Using the same 'Rock' EQ as the PX-200ii, the DT-1350 wins that contest, but not without certain reservations. I have no fit issues with the PX-200ii, but I find the DT-1350 to be difficult sometimes, and in cool dry weather the earpads take a long time to seal effectively for good bass and proper balance. The Shure 1840 and the bass-reduced Philips L1 have the clarity and detail of the Beyer DT-1350, but without any fit or coloration issues.

Being a closed-back design, the PX-200ii offers decent isolation against the higher-frequency sounds that make up most background noise in an office or home. The soundstage is average for a closed headphone, which is fine for myself and most other headphone users. Listening to the PX-200ii on its own, I don't get a sense of constriction, compression or any other such factor - the sound is very musical and well balanced for quality listening. Playing my worst-case tracks for sibilants, it seems about average in that respect.

A final word on the PX-200ii's EQ'd sound: I'm surprised that it's as good as it is. I don't hear any significant colorations, there is no mid- or upper-bass emphasis adding extra warmth to the sound, yet the bass goes deep and has good impact - not as good as the Shure 1840 or bass-reduced Philips L1, but close enough to be very satisfying. And neither is the bass bland or muddy - it has pretty good detail comparing to most other headphones.

The PX-200ii has a single-entry fixed (non-detachable) cable that's about four feet long and straight (not coiled), terminated by a standard straight (not angled) miniplug. Since the rubber fitting ahead of the miniplug is only about 5.5mm wide, it should fit into any of the recessed sockets on music players that have such things. The PX-200ii's cord has an embedded volume control of the old-fashioned variety, which I don't particularly like. The PX-200-IIi's Apple controls would be better, but the price of that version is way higher for just that feature.

The earpads are the on-ear type and made of a plastic that will deteriorate within a year or two of frequent use. Third-party earpads are available but I haven't see them in person, and I see that Sennheiser's website requires you to call a phone number to inquire about earpad replacement. The headband has small spongy pads underneath which are made of the same plastic, and in my experience they will also require replacement at about the same time as the earpads. The earcups fold flat and the headband also folds up for compact storage, although the PX-200ii comes with only a small cloth bag so there's no protection against anything but dust and dirt. I've folded the earcups up on my PX-200ii many times, but looking close at the plastic joints they use, I would avoid doing that any more often than necessary.

Now that I've covered the basics of the sound, it's time to describe how the PX-200ii performs with a variety of music that's available on CD's or as high-quality downloads from Internet music stores. I've used the following examples in other reviews, so these will serve as good test tracks for this review and the results can also be compared to the results noted in the other reviews. Note that the following are all based on using i-device 'Rock' EQ.

Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled very well by the PX-200ii.

Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound and particularly striking how the PX-200ii reproduces the triangles, bells and other background instruments that are often obscured with other headphones that have limited high frequency response. Although the Solti is my long-time favorite, I recently got the Abbado/Berlin Philharmonic version in FLAC format from HDTracks, and the dynamics in that version are so wide that it took some time to get used to. The PX-200ii makes listening to that version a very rewarding experience.

Blues Project - Caress Me Baby (1966): Rarely mentioned, but one of the greatest white blues recordings ever. The loud piercing guitar sound at 0:41 into the track is a good test for distortion or other problems. Handled well by the PX-200ii.

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled very well by the PX-200ii.

Buffalo Springfield - Kind Woman (~1968): A Richie Furay song entirely, rarely mentioned, but one of the best sounding rock ballads ever. This will sound good on most headphones, but it's a special treat with the PX-200ii.

Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken (early 70's): A near-perfect test for overall sound - this track will separate the best sounding headphones from the lesser quality types. Nothing specific, except that almost any deviation from perfect reproduction will stand out with this track.

Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the PX-200ii renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

Def Leppard - Bringin' On The Heartbreak (1981): MTV goth/pop/metal at its best - good ambience and high energy - the better headphones will separate the details and make for a good experience. Lesser quality and the details tend to mush together.

J.S. Bach - E. Power Biggs Plays Bach in the Thomaskirche (~1970): Recorded on a tracker organ in East Germany, the tracks on this recording have the authentic baroque sound that Bach composed for, albeit the bellows are operated by motor today. The PX-200ii plays the tones seamlessly through the upper limits of the organ, which are near the upper limits of most people's hearing.

Jamming With Edward - It Hurts Me Too (1969): Intended originally as a test to fill studio down time and set recording levels etc., this was released a few years later for hardcore Rolling Stones fans. Although not as good technically in every aspect as the Chess studio recordings of 1964, and in spite of the non-serious vocals by Mick Jagger, this rates very high on my list of white blues recordings, and sounds absolutely delicious with the PX-200ii.

Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has some loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical on some headphones. The PX-200ii provides very good reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in, for maximum detail effect.

Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (~2009): Featured in The September Issue, this song has heavy overdub and will sound a bit muddy on some headphones.

Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery - Delilah (Take 3) (1962): The vibraphone is heavily dependent on harmonics to sound right, and the PX-200ii plays it very well.

Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon - Speak To Me (1973): Strong deep bass impacts will be heard and felt here.

Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues (1968): Dirty, gritty blues that very few white artists could match. On some headphones the vocals and guitar lack the edge and fall more-or-less flat. If you're a really good person, playing this song will probably make you feel nervous and uneasy.

Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco (1962): Frank Sinatra's favorite singer. Highest recommendation. With some of the best headphones, the sibilants on this recording are very strong, but they're not bad with the PX-200ii.


Sound Quality
Comfort
Look & Feel
Durability

31 out of 36 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Shure SRH-1440 Stereo Headphone Review by Dale

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2012-04-16
Posted on Shure SRH1440

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Excellent sound
Cons: None

There has been a lot of interest in the SRH-1440, with questions such as "Is it that much better than the SRH-940?", or "How does it compare to the SRH-1840 when it costs only about half as much?" I've had the 1840 for a couple of months, and since I've been happy with it I wasn't thinking about the 1440 until curiosity got the best of me and I finally ordered it. Since most reviews tend to bore you with lots of detail about cords, plugs and ear cushions before they get to the sound, I'll do the sound first and then describe the physical details after that.

From the bass through the middle frequencies, the 1440 sounds pretty similar to the 1840 with very minor differences. Judging small differences is problematic, because those differences tend to move around the tone scale or even from one headphone to the other depending on the music tracks you're playing. In other words, track 'A' may have strong output at 200 hz and headphone 'A' may have some emphasis at that same frequency, effectively doubling the impression of that emphasis. If headphone 'B' is slightly recessed at that frequency, it would tend to cancel out the emphasis and sound "flatter" or smoother than headphone 'A'. But then the reverse may occur at a different frequency, so it's important to test with a lot of music tracks and see if there are any variances that are consistent with more than a few tracks.

Where the 1840 has some forwardness or emphasis that's most noticeable around 1.0 to 1.5 khz (my impression), the 1440's emphasis seems to occur about an octave higher. This emphasis or forwardness is less than what I experienced with the Grado PS-500 which is an excellent headphone, so it's not a negative for the 1440 - merely noted for the review. Moving up to the "presence" region which I estimate to be around 4 to 6 khz - that part of the lower treble that makes voices and some instruments sound more (or less) "alive" - the 1440 is significantly more lively than the 1840, and that holds true all the way up to the sibilants region just below 10 khz. The highs above 10 khz are very similar between the 1440 and 1840, and typical for most high-end headphones.

The overall sound of the 1440 in the "brightness" area from approximately 4 khz through 9 khz is very similar to the Shure SRH-940, which many people consider to be on the bright side of neutral. My years of experience with high-end headphones and music media tells me that it could go either way, depending on what you listen to. So while the 1440 is brighter than the 1840 and sibilants are stronger accordingly, I have only one music track out of 1600 where sibilants are bothersome with the 1440. See the additional notes in the music track listings below.

My final impression of the SRH-1440 sound is that it's an ultra-hifi headphone that has superb balance, smoothness, detail, and which benefits greatly from the best source material and amplifier you can use with it. Some of my testing was done with the iPad-3 playing through its line-out dock port into an Objective-2 headphone amp (purchased from JDS Labs, assembled), and some with a desktop PC and Foobar2000 software playing FLAC format music tracks. A more ideal configuration would be a good DAC running from the desktop or laptop USB, feeding into a decent headphone amp like the Objective2 or better, but given the spectacular sound I'm getting already I have no doubts about the ultimate quality of the SRH-1440 headphone.

The 1440 has a proprietary double-entry detachable cable that's about seven feet long and straight (not coiled), terminated by a standard straight (not angled) miniplug. A 1/4 inch (6.35mm) adapter is supplied and screws onto the miniplug. I can't be certain whether the miniplug would fit into any of the recessed sockets on music players that have such things, but the threaded portion of the plug ahead of the business end is 7mm in diameter including the threads. The cord is made up of two side-by-side strands that are bonded together, where each strand is 3mm thick, and those two strands separate at a strain-relief and join the earcups 'Y'-style.

Many people feel that single-entry headphone cables are a better choice because they're more convenient, i.e. they don't get tangled as much as double-entry cables. The price for that convenience is potentially worse sound due partly to the fact that the total cable length going to each driver is different, and partly to the requirement for a thin cable running across the headband to get the signal to the second earcup. Fortunately, the 1440 matches my personal preference. The SRH-1440 comes with two identical cables, the 6.5mm adapter, an extra set of velour earpads, and a semi-hard carrycase that affords good protection when transporting the headphone.

Since the 1440's cable has a standard miniplug with optional 6.5mm adapter, one might assume that Shure intended that it could be used with portable music players. Since laptop and desktop computers also have miniplug jacks, and because the 1440 is less efficient than many of the headphones that are typically used with portable music players, I'm going to assume that the intent for the miniplug is to be used primarily with computers. I did try a few relatively low-volume tracks with the iPod Touch alone, and while those were adequate for playback indoors where it's fairly quiet, they might not be adequate for playback on-the-go. If you do require that kind of playback with the 1440, you will probably need to increase the volume of at least some of your music tracks.

The earpads are fully circumaural and plush velour, with openings that measure approximately 1-5/8 by 2-1/2 inches. The inside of the cups have cloth-covered thin spongy pads so the ears don't contact anything that would cause discomfort. The earcups appear to be a type of high-grade plastic, with a headband that's metal alloy internally which provides good flexibility, moderate clamping force, and good stability with no tendency to shift when I move my head around. Compared to the 1840, the 1440 is slightly heavier which is not very significant to me, but the clamping force is much stronger - a lot like the Sennheiser HD-600/650 headphones. Compared to the 600/650 though, I think the comfort will be much better long-term since the 1440 doesn't tend to get warm on my ears like the Sennheisers did, and the 1440 doesn't feel quite as claustrophobic either.

The headband has small spongy pads underneath which feel very comfortable on my head, but if there is any tendency for discomfort in spite of the relatively light weight of the headphone, I recommend pulling the earcups down just slightly more than the minimum, to let most of the weight be borne by the earcups and not the headband. Note that the earcups have very little horizontal rotation, but that rotation combined with a generous vertical rotation allows alignment of the earcups to fit nearly anyone's head.

The SRH-1440 is a good-looking headphone if you've seen photos of it, so it has a modest bling factor that you don't have to pay a premium for. I would rate its appearance as 8 out of 10 and I would rate its comfort factor at least a 7.5. The reason the appearance doesn't get a 9 or better is because the 1440 isn't a fashion headphone, so my subjective rating of 8 is probably as good as you can get for a serious hi-fi product like this. The reason I didn't rate the comfort higher is because the 1440 is a full-size headphone with moderate clamping pressure to keep it stable on your head.

Being an open-back design, the SRH-1440 has almost no isolation. The soundstage is comparable to the SRH-1840 and slightly better than the SRH-940, which might surprise some users who aren't aware of the 940's above-average soundstage for a closed-back design. Listening to the 1440 I never get a sense of constriction, compression or any other such quality - the sound is always airy and effortless.

Now that I've covered the basics of the sound, it's time to describe how the SRH-1440 sounds with a variety of music that's available on CD's or as high-quality downloads from Internet music stores. I've used the following examples in other reviews, so these will serve as good test tracks for this review and the results can also be compared to the results noted in the other reviews.

Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled very well by the SRH-1440.

Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound and particularly striking how the SRH-1440 reproduces the triangles, bells and other background instruments that are often obscured with other headphones that have limited high frequency response. Of special note for this headphone are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement.

Blues Project - Caress Me Baby (1966): Rarely mentioned, but one of the greatest white blues recordings ever. The loud piercing guitar sound at 0:41 into the track is a good test for distortion or other problems. Handled well here.

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled very well by the SRH-1440.

Buffalo Springfield - Kind Woman (~1968): A Richie Furay song entirely, rarely mentioned, but one of the best sounding rock ballads ever. This will sound good on most headphones, but it's a special treat with the SRH-1440.

Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken (early 70's): A near-perfect test for overall sound - this track will separate the best sounding headphones from the lesser quality types. Nothing specific, except that almost any deviation from perfect reproduction will stand out with this track.

Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the SRH-1440 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

Def Leppard - Bringin' On The Heartbreak (1981): MTV goth/pop/metal at its best - good ambience and high energy - the better headphones will separate the details and make for a good experience. Lesser quality and the details tend to mush together.

J.S. Bach - E. Power Biggs Plays Bach in the Thomaskirche (~1970): Recorded on a tracker organ in East Germany, the tracks on this recording have the authentic baroque sound that Bach composed for, albeit the bellows are operated by motor today. The SRH-1440 plays the tones seamlessly through the upper limits of the organ, which are near the upper limits of my hearing.

Jamming With Edward - It Hurts Me Too (1969): Intended originally as a test to fill studio down time and set recording levels etc., this was released a few years later for hardcore Rolling Stones fans. Although not as good technically in every aspect as the Chess studio recordings of 1964, and in spite of the non-serious vocals by Mick Jagger, this rates very high on my list of white blues recordings, and sounds absolutely delicious with the SRH-1440.

Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has some loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical on some headphones. The SRH-1440 provides excellent reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in, for maximum detail effect.

Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (~2009): Featured in The September Issue, this song has heavy overdub and will sound a bit muddy on some headphones.

Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery - Delilah (Take 3) (1962): The vibraphone is heavily dependent on harmonics to sound right, and the SRH-1440 plays it superbly.

Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon - Speak To Me (1973): Strong deep bass impacts will be heard and felt here.

Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues (1968): Dirty, gritty blues that very few white artists could match. On some headphones the vocals and guitar lack the edge and fall more-or-less flat. If you're a really good person, playing this song will probably make you feel nervous and uneasy.

Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco (1962): Frank Sinatra's favorite singer. Highest recommendation. With some of the best headphones, the sibilants on this recording are very strong, but they're not bad with the SRH-1440.


Sound Quality
Comfort
Look & Feel
Durability

20 out of 24 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Shure SRH-1840 Headphone Review by Dale (updated 9/17/2012)

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2012-02-10
Posted on Shure SRH1840

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Comfortable, Stylish, Great sound
Cons: Pricy

The first thing people want to know about a new headphone is "How does it sound?" In the case of the SRH-1840 the verdict is: Excellent. The second question people ask is "Is it worth the cost?" That determination is purely subjective of course, and takes into account things other than the sound. My verdict: Yes, with no reservations. I'll get to the details of that sound after first describing the 1840's physical characteristics.

The SRH-1840 has a proprietary double-entry detachable cable that's about seven feet long and straight (not coiled), terminated by a standard straight (not angled) miniplug. A 1/4 inch (6.35mm) adapter is supplied and screws onto the miniplug. I can't be certain whether the miniplug would fit into any of the recessed sockets on music players that have such things, but the threaded portion of the plug ahead of the business end is 7mm in diameter including the threads. The cord is made up of two side-by-side strands that are bonded together, where each strand is 3mm thick, and those two strands separate at a strain-relief and join the earcups 'Y'-style.

Many people feel that single-entry headphone cables are a better choice because they're more convenient, i.e. they don't get tangled as much as double-entry cables. The price for that convenience is potentially worse sound due partly to the fact that the total cable length going to each driver is different, and partly to the requirement for a thin cable running across the headband to get the signal to the second earcup. Fortunately, the SRH-1840 matches my personal preference.

The SRH-1840 comes with two identical cables, the 6.5mm adapter, an extra set of velour earpads, and a semi-hard carrycase that affords good protection when transporting the headphone.

Since the 1840's cable has a standard miniplug with optional 6.5mm adapter, one might assume that Shure intended that it could be used with portable music players. Since laptop and desktop computers also have miniplug jacks, and because the 1840 is less efficient than most of the headphones that are typically used with portable music players, I'm going to assume that the intent for the miniplug is to be used primarily with computers. I did try a few relatively low-volume tracks with the iPod Touch alone, and while those were barely adequate for playback indoors where it's fairly quiet, they would not be adequate for playback on-the-go. If you do require that kind of playback with the 1840, you will probably need to increase the volume of at least some of your music tracks.

The earpads are fully circumaural and plush velour, with openings that measure approximately 1-5/8 by 2-1/2 inches. The inside of the cups have cloth-covered thin spongy pads so the ears don't contact anything that would cause discomfort. The earcups appear to be some type of high-grade plastic, with a headband of metal alloy that provides good flexibility, light clamping force, and (since the 1840 is so light), good stability with no tendency to shift when I move my head around.

The headband has small spongy pads underneath which feel very comfortable on my head, but if there is any tendency for discomfort in spite of the very light weight of the headphone, I recommend pulling the earcups down just slightly more than the minimum, to let most of the weight be borne by the earcups and not the headband. Note that the earcups of the SRH-1840 do not rotate in any direction, although there is a small amount of movement back and forth to allow alignment of the earcups to different sized heads.

The SRH-1840 is a snazzy-looking headphone if you've seen photos of it, so it has a modest bling factor that you don't have to pay a premium for. I would rate its appearance as 8.5 out of 10 and I would rate its comfort factor equally high. The reason the appearance doesn't get a 9 or better is because the 1840 isn't a fashion headphone, so my subjective rating of 8.5 is probably as good as you can get for a serious hi-fi product like this. The reason I didn't rate the comfort 9 or higher is because the 1840 is a full-size headphone with moderate clamping pressure to keep it stable on your head. Having said that, I've never had a full-size headphone that felt this comfortable - the next best thing to no headphone at all.

I'd like to describe the sound of the 1840 in terms of a predecessor - the Shure SRH-940 - partly because they are family-related, partly because I have both, and partly because it will be a less complex task given certain similarities.

The SRH-1840's general signature is best described as: Bass slightly less than the 940, upper treble very similar to the 940, midrange similar to the 940 except where the 940 has a slight emphasis around 500 hz, the 1840 has a slight emphasis about an octave higher. I tend to regard the 1840 as bass-neutral in spite of having less impact than the 940, and for those users who prefer more bass than what the 940 provides, they will have a similar impression of the 1840 - not for bass-heads. The 1840's midrange is essentially flawless with great rendition of voices and instruments, and given the overall smoothness from the top of the treble to the bottom of the bass, as good a listening experience as I've ever had.

The standout area for the 1840 is what I call the "presence" area - that part of the lower treble that makes voices and some instruments sound more (or less) "alive". This would be in the area from 4 to 6 khz I think, and whatever the exact specifics, the 1840 has the best reproduction I've heard from any headphone. Where some of the more expensive headphones from various manufacturers have been criticized for being too bright in this range, I believe the 1840 is the perfect answer. I feel like I can listen for hours on end with no letup, hearing the inner details of music tracks I've played many times before, but haven't enjoyed nearly as much.

Being an open-back design, the SRH-1840 has almost no isolation. The soundstage is slightly better than the 940's, which might surprise some users who aren't aware of the 940's above-average soundstage for a closed-back design. Listening to the 1840 I never get a sense of constriction, compression or any other such quality - the sound is always airy and effortless. Sibilants seem less bothersome with the 1840 than most other premium headphones I've used, and there is another important aspect of the 1840's sound that merits special mention: The quality of the upper harmonics of instruments and voices is exactly what I would hope for in a premium headphone but don't always get.

For this review I mostly used a Dell desktop with premium soundcard playing FLAC format tracks in Foobar2000. Some of those tracks, notably certain recordings by David Chesky, sound so amazingly good with the SRH-1840 that I'm often startled by their realism and clarity. Some tracks that I use I don't have FLAC copies of, and those MP3's (320k CBR) sound nearly as good on the iPod Touch connected via the line out dock to an Objective2 "assembled" headphone amp as they do on the desktop computer. A more ideal configuration would be a good DAC running from the desktop or laptop USB, feeding into a decent headphone amp like the Objective2 or better, but given the spectacular sound I'm getting already I have no doubts about the ultimate quality of the SRH-1840 headphone.

Now that I've covered the basics of the sound, it's time to describe how the SRH-1840 sounds with a variety of music that's available on CD's or as high-quality downloads from Internet music stores. I've used the following examples in other reviews, so these will serve as good test tracks for this review and the results can also be compared to the results noted in the other reviews.

Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled very well by the SRH-1840.

Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound and particularly striking how the SRH-1840 reproduces the triangles, bells and other background instruments that are often obscured with other headphones that have limited high frequency response. Of special note for this headphone are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement.

Blues Project - Caress Me Baby (1966): Rarely mentioned, but one of the greatest white blues recordings ever. The loud piercing guitar sound at 0:41 into the track is a good test for distortion or other problems. Handled very well here.

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled very well by the SRH-1840.

Buffalo Springfield - Kind Woman (~1968): A Richie Furay song entirely, rarely mentioned, but one of the best sounding rock ballads ever. This will sound good on most headphones, but it's a special treat with the SRH-1840.

Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken (early 70's): A near-perfect test for overall sound - this track will separate the best sounding headphones from the lesser quality types. Nothing specific, except that almost any deviation from perfect reproduction will stand out with this track.

Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the SRH-1840 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

Def Leppard - Bringin' On The Heartbreak (1981): MTV goth/pop/metal at its best - good ambience and high energy - the better headphones will separate the details and make for a good experience. Lesser quality and the details tend to mush together.

J.S. Bach - E. Power Biggs Plays Bach in the Thomaskirche (~1970): Recorded on a tracker organ in East Germany, the tracks on this recording have the authentic baroque sound that Bach composed for, albeit the bellows are operated by motor today. The SRH-1840 plays the tones seamlessly through the upper limits of the organ, which cover nearly the full range of human hearing. Of special note are the pedal notes - tracker organs have low-pressure pipes and don't typically produce the kind of impact around 30-35 hz that modern organs do. A headphone that's lacking in the low bass may sound bass-shy with this type of organ, but the SRH-1840 provides a satisfactory experience.

Jamming With Edward - It Hurts Me Too (1969): Intended originally as a test to fill studio down time and set recording levels etc., this was released a few years later for hardcore Rolling Stones fans. Although not as good technically in every aspect as the Chess studio recordings of 1964, and in spite of the non-serious vocals by Mick Jagger, this rates very high on my list of white blues recordings, and sounds absolutely delicious with the SRH-1840.

Jennifer Warnes - Rock You Gently (1992?): The strong deep bass percussion at the beginning of this track has been cited as a test for weakness or distortion in certain headphones like the SRH-1840. Compared to the v-moda M80 which is noted for a strong lower bass, the M80 has a distinctly richer sound with those notes and a stronger impact. It's tempting to assume that the M80 is better, but the final analysis is in the extended listening. Having played this track many times now, I'm highly impressed with the SRH-1840's bass reproduction and detail throughout the track, and even the beginning notes have a nice clean-sounding thump to them.

Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has some loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical on some headphones. The SRH-1840 provides excellent reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in, for maximum detail effect.

Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (~2009): Featured in The September Issue, this song has heavy overdub and will sound a bit muddy on some headphones.

Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery - Delilah (Take 3) (1962): The vibraphone is heavily dependent on harmonics to sound right, and the SRH-1840 plays it superbly.

Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon - Speak To Me (1973): Strong deep bass impacts will be heard and felt here.

Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues (1968): Dirty, gritty blues that very few white artists could match. On some headphones the vocals and guitar lack the edge and fall more-or-less flat. If you're a really good person, playing this song will probably make you feel nervous and uneasy.

Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco (1962): Frank Sinatra's favorite singer. Highest recommendation. With some of the best headphones, the sibilants on this recording are very strong, but they're not bad with the SRH-1840.


Sound Quality
Comfort
Look & Feel
Durability

50 out of 61 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Grado PS-500 Stereo Headphone Review by Dale

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2011-10-22
Posted on Grado PS500

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Sounds really good
Cons: None

I have several headphones besides the PS-500, and I've reviewed some of them, so I should find it easy to describe the PS-500, yes? Maybe not. By now I've discovered that my "other" headphones fall into the category of "polite" ear speakers. Inoffensive, smooth, and clean they are, and while the PS-500 shares their better qualities, polite and obsequious aren't one of them.

I have quite a variety of music tracks in Jazz, Classics, Opera, Rock, Blues, Country and other genres, and I've been running through the list for days to see what the PS-500 isn't a good match for. So far everything sounds good. Better than good, actually - everything sounds alive.

I've read a lot of reviews and discussed different systems with enough people that I have some idea of the adjectives they might apply to the PS-500. Terms such as warm, forward, or lush come to mind. In anticipation of that, I would suggest warm as in the warmth of a cello in an intimate setting, forward as in being near enough to the cello to bask in that warmth, and lush as in the full complement of harmonics that defines the characteristic sound of the instrument.

I like a lot of headphones. I love the Grado PS-500. It makes music sound right. Before I continue with the music and sound analysis, some notes about the hardware:

The comfort is instantaneous. This is one of the few headphones where the foam cushions sit on and around the ears and have no pinching effects or adjustment difficulties. The headband is a simple leather-wrapped flat spring steel band about 1-1/4 inches wide. For people who don't like feeling pressure from a headband, I recommend pulling the earcups down slightly more and letting the earcups support most of the weight so the headband isn't carrying all of the weight or pressing on the head.

The cord is thick but flexible and about five feet long, terminated in a 1/4 inch plug. When used with most small music players, a 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch adapter is required. I use the Grado adapter, two of which I've had for ten years now since they're very well made and reliable. Many headphone cords today are single-sided, where the cord goes to one earcup and then some additional wiring carries the signal to the other earcup across the headband. The other major type is double-sided, where the left and right channels are carried in a 'Y' configuration to each earcup directly, eliminating the need for additional wiring inside one earcup and across the headband. The PS-500 is this latter type, which I prefer personally since less wiring means a purer signal path.

The PS-500 is a low-impedance headphone of average efficiency, so it can play at medium to loud volumes with most small music players. So far I haven't found a music track that doesn't play loudly enough with an iPhone, after trying about 200 tracks at random. Many headphone reviews and commentaries will describe the need for a headphone amplifier or the equivalent in computer amplification to get the best sound possible from the headphone. Some of those reviews and comments even suggest that the sound from small music players such as the iPhone is not suitable for serious music listening at all. My experience with small music players is limited to the iPhone4, iPod Touch, and iPod Nano Touch. These three music players will provide about 98 percent of the sound quality of a good headphone amp, from the deepest bass to the highest treble, although calculating that percentage is purely subjective. My experience with two different headphone amps plus several desktop and laptop computers tells me that the differences are subtle, but the better headphone amps do "open up" the sound better, providing more "air" around instruments and voices and better reproduction of the upper harmonics that give each instrument its distinctive tone color.

Note that the PS-500 is also an "open-air" or "open-back" headphone, which has advantages over the "closed" variety in various aspects of sound quality. On the other hand, some of the sound can be heard by persons sitting nearby depending on the volume level and how quiet the setting is. You probably won't disturb anyone on the subway at rush hour if you play music at average volume with the PS-500, but in a quiet office someone in the next cubicle may object unless you keep the volume fairly low.

Now that I've covered the basics it's time to get to the music, i.e. how the PS-500 sounds with actual music tracks. Most of my music tracks are 320k CBR MP3's, which are the highest quality MP3's that are generally available. I have a couple hundred FLAC tracks which are uncompressed digital music, but the difference between those and 320k MP3's is very subtle, and normally only expert listeners can tell the differences. I also have a few hundred CD-quality or lower MP3's, which for most of those tracks is all that's available and I'm lucky to have them, so while I enjoy listening to those to whatever extent is possible, I don't use them for evaluating sound quality in a headphone review.

The use of equalization ("EQ") with hi-fi equipment is controversial in some circles, and many audiophiles (purists?) refuse to even consider applying EQ or tone controls, no matter if a recording sounds much better with than without. I mention it here because I've mentioned it in my other reviews, and I want to note here that I haven't used EQ for this review, but I'm not shy about applying it on a case-by-case basis when it makes the difference between enjoying a recording and rejecting it outright. My suggestion to any music lover is to think of EQ as a simple tool that may save a recording at least temporarily until it can be replaced, as long as it doesn't become the opposite of that and actually degrade the sound as many audiophiles dread.

The following are my examples of music tracks in certain genres or qualities, with my comments as to how the PS-500 sounds with each track. Note that when you see a comment like "soft highs" or "strong bass", it's more a characteristic of the music than the headphone. Reading through the list will bear this out since some tracks will note "soft highs" while others will say "strong" or even "zingy" highs. The purpose here is to give you an idea how the PS-500 will likely sound with your favorite music genres.

10000 Maniacs - Peace Train (late 80's); soft highs, fairly strong bass line, average soundstage.

Andrea True Connection - More More More (late 70's): Smooth and even from top to bottom, good soundstage.

Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled well by the PS-500.

Beatles - And I Love Her, Things We Said Today, I'll Be Back, I'll Follow The Sun (~1964, in stereo): Amazing sound quality and soundstage, with excellent voice and instrument detail. These four tracks are prima facie evidence that any negative qualities you see in this list are very unlikely to be a function of the headphone.

Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound but average headphone soundstage unfortunately, even though the PS-500 is above average in presenting soundstage width and depth.

Bill Evans Trio - Nardis (early 60's): Fairly close-up recording, but highs softened a little - very pleasant sound overall.

Billy Eckstine - Imagination (date??): Sounds like a recent high-quality stereo recording. Excellent from top to bottom and a great vocal demo.

Blood Sweat & Tears - And When I Die, God Bless The Child, Spinning Wheel (late 60's): Decent sound quality, and fortunately (I think) given the strength of the brass instruments, the highs are slightly soft.

Blues Project - Caress Me Baby (1966): Rarely mentioned, but one of the greatest white blues recordings ever. The loud piercing guitar sound at 0:41 into the track is a good test for distortion or other problems. Handled well here.

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled well by the PS-500.

Buffalo Springfield - Kind Woman (~1968): A Richie Furay song entirely, rarely mentioned, but one of the best sounding rock ballads ever. This will sound good on most headphones, but it's a special treat with the PS-500.

Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken (early 70's): A near-perfect test for overall sound - this track will separate the best sounding headphones from the lesser quality types. Nothing specific, except that almost any deviation from perfect reproduction will stand out with this track.

Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the PS-500 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

Cocteau Twins - Carolyn's Fingers (1988): Unusual ambient pop with excellent guitar details.

Commodores - Night Shift (~1985): Good spacious sound with very detailed bass guitar lines.

Cranes - Adoration (~1991): Very good piano leading into a goth-flavored song with very unusual vocals.

Creedence Clearwater Revival - The Midnight Special (1969??): Classic CCR featured in Twilight Zone, this track has great guitar sounds and a really good ambience despite a mediocre soundstage.

Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five (1959): Paul Desmond piece - good test of saxophone sound and cymbals, less so the other instruments.

Dead Can Dance - Ariadne (1993??): Atmospheric goth music - good ambience in spite of mediocre soundstage.

Def Leppard - Bringin' On The Heartbreak (1981): MTV goth/pop/metal at its best - good ambience and high energy - the better headphones will separate the details and make for a good experience. Lesser quality and the details tend to mush together.

Del Reeves - Girl On The Billboard (early-mid 70's): Classic truck-drivin' country tune with a Thelma & Louise theme, this song's overall recorded quality (almost typical of Nashville in the 70's) is a superb demo if you can get past the peculiar lyrics.

Dick Hyman - Dooji Wooji (1990??): Swing-era composition played with perfect technique by all band members, with excellent recorded sound.

Enrico Caruso/Caruso 2000 - La Donna e Mobile, M Appari Tutt Amor, etc. (early 1900's and 2000): Disliked by many critics and purists, this recording was the extremely arduous task of marrying the best obtainable restoration of Caruso's voice to a modern orchestra, with all of the odd timing problems inherent in the old RCA mechanical recordings. For me, it's one step closer to hearing my first great music idol as he actually sounded then, circa 1903 to 1919. Plus the fact that my grandmother met Caruso through her longtime friend and neighbor Evan Williams, who was also a big RCA recording star at that time. For many young people who can't get past the obvious barriers of the ancient mechanical sounds and distortions, this recording and future efforts with better technology may be the best hope for them to appreciate the greatest singer of his day, and perhaps ever. The PS-500 headphone brings this voice to life to a very satisfactory degree.

Frank Sinatra - Fly Me To The Moon, I Get A Kick Out Of You, My Way, Strangers In The Night, That's Life, Theme From New York, New York (1950's to 1980): If you're thinking of buying a Grado PS-500 and haven't listened to Sinatra, or if you're low on swag, get some of Frank's stereo recordings and live it up.

J.S. Bach - E. Power Biggs Plays Bach in the Thomaskirche (~1970): Recorded on a tracker organ in East Germany, the tracks on this recording have the authentic baroque sound that Bach composed for, albeit the bellows are operated by motor today. The PS-500 plays all of the tones seamlessly from ~32 hz to the upper limits of the organ, which are near the upper limits of hearing.

Jamming With Edward - It Hurts Me Too (1969): Intended originally as a test to fill studio down time and set recording levels etc., this was released a few years later for hardcore Rolling Stones fans. Although not as good technically in every aspect as the Chess studio recordings of 1964, and in spite of the non-serious vocals by Mick Jagger, this rates very high on my list of white blues recordings, and sounds absolutely delicious with the PS-500.

Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has some loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical on some headphones. The PS-500 does it well.

Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes (Acoustic version, date??): Stripped-down ("acoustic") version of the big hit - good voice and guitar sounds.

Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (~2009): Featured in The September Issue, this song has heavy overdub and will sound a bit muddy on some headphones.

Merle Haggard - Okie From Muskogee (1969): Another good-quality country recording with almost-acoustic guitar accompaniment.

Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery - Delilah (Take 3) (1962): The vibraphone is heavily dependent on harmonics to sound right, and the PS-500 plays it superbly.

Nylons - The Lion Sleeps Tonight (A Capella version, 1980's): High-energy vocals sans instrumental accompaniment - an excellent test of vocal reproduction.

Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon - Speak To Me (1973): Deep bass impact.

Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues (1968): Dirty, gritty blues that very few white artists could match. On some headphones the vocals and guitar lack the edge and fall more-or-less flat. If you're a really good person, playing this song will probably make you feel nervous and uneasy.

Tony Bennett - For Once In My Life, I Left My Heart In San Francisco, I Wanna Be Around To Pick Up The Pieces, The Best Is Yet To Come, The Good Life, Who Can I Turn To (1960's and later): Frank Sinatra's favorite singer. Highest recommendation.


Sound Quality
Comfort
Look & Feel
Durability

58 out of 68 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Beyerdynamic DT-1350 Headphone Review - updated 2/18/2012

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2011-10-05
Posted on Beyerdynamic DT 1350

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Good sound
Cons: None

So how does the DT-1350 sound? Excellent. Is it worth the price? Yes. But that determination is purely subjective of course, and takes into account things other than the sound. I'll get to the details of that sound after first describing the headphone's physical characteristics.

The DT-1350 has a single-entry fixed (non-detachable) cable that's about five feet long and straight (not coiled), terminated by a standard straight (not angled) miniplug. A 1/4 inch (6.35mm) adapter is supplied and screws onto the miniplug. I can't be certain whether the miniplug would fit into any of the recessed sockets on music players that have such things, but the threaded portion of the plug ahead of the business end is 7mm in diameter including the threads.

The cord is a slender single strand that's just 2mm thick, and joins the left earcup which then routes the sound to the right earcup through the headband. Many people feel that single-entry headphone cables are a better choice because they're more convenient, i.e. they don't get tangled as much as double-entry cables. This headphone comes with a small semi-stiff carrycase that affords good protection when transporting the headphone, and at less than two inches thick is a very convenient size for including in airline carry-on bags without taking up much room.

Since the DT-1350's cable has a standard miniplug with optional 6.5mm adapter, one might assume that Beyer intended that it could be used with portable music players. Since laptop and desktop computers also have miniplug jacks, I'm going to assume that the intent for the miniplug is to be used primarily with computers, although small music players like the iPod Touch will drive the headphone to satisfactory volume levels as long as the music tracks themselves are set to a reasonable volume.

The earpads are the on-ear type and made of 'pleather' apparently, and are round with a diameter of 2-1/2 inches. The insides of the cups have a thin cloth covering over the drivers, and the drivers and their covers are recessed enough that there is no chance of the ears contacting anything that would cause discomfort. The earcups appear to be some type of high-grade plastic or metal, with a headband of metal alloy that provides good flexibility, light clamping force, and (since the DT-1350 is so light), good stability with no tendency to shift when I move my head around.

The headband has small spongy pads underneath which feel very comfortable on my head, but if there is any tendency for discomfort in spite of the very light weight of the headphone, I recommend pulling the earcups down just slightly more than the minimum, to let more of the weight be borne by the earcups and not the headband. Note that the earcups of the DT-1350 swivel 180 degrees, so they should fit any ears and also fold flat for convenience when walking around or packing them into the standard slim carrycase supplied with the headphone.

The DT-1350 is a nice-looking small headphone if you've seen photos of it - mostly black with some silver-color trim, so it has a modest bling factor that you don't have to pay a premium for. I would rate its appearance as 8.5 out of 10 and I would rate its comfort factor equally high. The reason the appearance doesn't get a 9 or better is because the DT-1350 isn't a fashion headphone, so my subjective rating of 8.5 is probably as good as you can get for a serious hi-fi product like this. The reason I didn't rate the comfort 9 or higher is because the DT-1350 is an on-ear design with moderate clamping pressure to keep it stable on your head.

The DT-1350 sound is emphasized somewhat in the lower midrange around 400-500 hz, and some users have reported the bass to be "light", presumably because the midrange might overshadow other aspects of the sound. Since the DT-1350's overall sound is so smooth and detailed, and since people in most cases are going to be using it with high-quality audio equipment, I recommend they avail themselves of the features in that equipment that adjust sound parameters like midrange levels and bass strength etc. The DT-1350 has the quality and dynamic range to accomodate nearly any audio gear and settings that users are likely to apply to it. I have heard of people bending the headband to increase or decrease the clamping pressure in an attempt to modify the sound signature, but I don't recommend such modifications since they can damage the headphone.

Being a closed-back design, the DT-1350 offers decent isolation against the higher-frequency sounds that make up most background noise in an office or home. The soundstage is average for a closed headphone, which is fine for myself and most other headphone fans. Listening to the DT-1350 I never get a sense of constriction, compression or any other such quality - the sound is always airy and effortless. Sibilants also seem less bothersome with the DT-1350 than some other premium headphones I've used.

For this review I mostly used a Dell desktop with premium soundcard playing FLAC format tracks in Foobar2000. Some of those tracks, notably certain recordings by David Chesky, sound so amazingly good with the DT-1350 that I'm often startled by their realism and clarity. Some tracks that I use I don't have FLAC copies of, and those MP3's (320k CBR) sound nearly as good on the iPod Touch connected via the line out dock to an Objective2 "assembled" headphone amp as they do on the desktop computer. A more ideal configuration would be a good DAC running from the desktop or laptop USB, feeding into a decent headphone amp like the Objective2 or better, but given the terrific sound I'm getting already I have no doubts about the ultimate quality of the DT-1350 headphone.

Now that I've covered the basics of the sound, it's time to describe how the DT-1350 sounds with a variety of music that's available on CD's or as high-quality downloads from Internet music stores. I've used the following examples in other reviews, so these will serve as good test tracks for this review and the results can also be compared to the results noted in the other reviews.

10000 Maniacs - Peace Train (late 80's); pleasant sound, great details and good soundstage depth.

Andrea True Connection - More More More (late 70's): Classic disco, very smooth, big soundstage.

Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled very well by the DT-1350.

Beatles - And I Love Her, Things We Said Today, I'll Be Back, I'll Follow The Sun (~1964, in stereo): Amazing sound quality and decent soundstage, with excellent voice and instrument detail. These four tracks are a perfect example of how good high fidelity recordings could be as far back as the 1960's.

Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound and particularly striking how the DT-1350 reproduces the triangles, bells and other background instruments that are often obscured with other headphones that have limited high frequency response. Of special note for this headphone are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Although the Solti is my long-time favorite, I recently got the Abbado/Berlin Philharmonic version in FLAC format from HDTracks, and the dynamics in that version are so wide that it took some time to get used to. The DT-1350 makes listening to that version a very rewarding experience.

Bill Evans Trio - Nardis (early 60's): Fairly close-up recording, and despite soft highs, excellent instrumental detail, particularly the upright bass and piano.

Billy Eckstine - Imagination (date??): Sounds like a recent high-quality stereo recording. Excellent from top to bottom, wide soundstage and overall a great vocal demo.

Blood Sweat & Tears - And When I Die, God Bless The Child, Spinning Wheel (late 60's): Excellent sound quality, and fortunately (I think) given the strength of the brass instruments, the highs are slightly soft.

Blues Project - Caress Me Baby (1966): Rarely mentioned, but one of the greatest white blues recordings ever. The loud piercing guitar sound at 0:41 into the track is a good test for distortion or other problems. Handled well by the DT-1350.

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled very well by the DT-1350.

Buffalo Springfield - Kind Woman (~1968): A Richie Furay song entirely, rarely mentioned, but one of the best sounding rock ballads ever. This will sound good on most headphones, but it's a special treat with the DT-1350.

Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken (early 70's): A near-perfect test for overall sound - this track will separate the best sounding headphones from the lesser quality types. Nothing specific, except that almost any deviation from perfect reproduction will stand out with this track.

Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the DT-1350 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

Cocteau Twins - Carolyn's Fingers (1988): Unusual ambient pop with excellent guitar details.

Commodores - Night Shift (~1985): Good spacious sound with very detailed bass guitar lines.

Cranes - Adoration (~1991): Excellent piano sound leading into a goth-flavored song with very unusual vocals.

Creedence Clearwater Revival - The Midnight Special (1969??): Classic CCR featured in Twilight Zone, this track has great guitar sounds and a really good ambience despite a mediocre soundstage.

Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five (1959): Paul Desmond piece - good test of saxophone sound and cymbals, less so most of the other instruments.

Dead Can Dance - Ariadne (1993??): Atmospheric goth music - good ambience in spite of mediocre soundstage.

Def Leppard - Bringin' On The Heartbreak (1981): MTV goth/pop/metal at its best - good ambience and high energy - the better headphones will separate the details and make for a good experience. Lesser quality and the details tend to mush together.

Del Reeves - Girl On The Billboard (early-mid 70's): Classic truck-drivin' country tune with a Thelma & Louise theme, this song's overall recorded quality (almost typical of Nashville in the 70's) is a superb demo if you can get past the peculiar lyrics.

Dick Hyman - Dooji Wooji (1990??): Swing-era composition played with perfect technique by all band members, with excellent recorded sound.

Frank Sinatra - Theme From New York, New York (1980): Ultimate Sinatra with big band production and well-balanced sound.

J.S. Bach - E. Power Biggs Plays Bach in the Thomaskirche (~1970): Recorded on a tracker organ in East Germany, the tracks on this recording have the authentic baroque sound that Bach composed for, albeit the bellows are operated by motor today. The DT-1350 plays the tones seamlessly through the upper limits of the organ, which are near the upper limits of most people's hearing.

Jamming With Edward - It Hurts Me Too (1969): Intended originally as a test to fill studio down time and set recording levels etc., this was released a few years later for hardcore Rolling Stones fans. Although not as good technically in every aspect as the Chess studio recordings of 1964, and in spite of the non-serious vocals by Mick Jagger, this rates very high on my list of white blues recordings, and sounds absolutely delicious with the DT-1350.

Jim Ruiz Group - Katerine (1998?): Unusually spacious and ambient indie-pop recording with a samba flavor. Every pop song should sound this good, in my opinion.

Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has some loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical on some headphones. The DT-1350 provides excellent reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in, for maximum detail effect.

Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes (Acoustic version, 2006?): Stripped-down ("acoustic") version of the big hit - good voice and excellent guitar sounds.

Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (~2009): Featured in The September Issue, this song has heavy overdub and will sound a bit muddy on some headphones.

Merle Haggard - Okie From Muskogee (1969): Another good-quality country recording with almost-acoustic guitar accompaniment. Lovely guitar sounds.

Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery - Delilah (Take 3) (1962): The vibraphone is heavily dependent on harmonics to sound right, and the DT-1350 plays it very well.

Nylons - The Lion Sleeps Tonight (A Capella version, 1980's): High-energy vocals sans instrumental accompaniment - an excellent test of vocal reproduction.

Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon - Speak To Me (1973): Strong deep bass impacts will be heard and felt here.

Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues (1968): Dirty, gritty blues that very few white artists could match. On some headphones the vocals and guitar lack the edge and fall more-or-less flat. If you're a really good person, playing this song will probably make you feel nervous and uneasy.

Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco (1962): Frank Sinatra's favorite singer. Highest recommendation. With some of the best headphones, the sibilants on this recording are very strong, but they're not bad with the DT-1350.



Sound Quality
Comfort
Look & Feel
Durability

25 out of 30 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Shure SRH-940 Headphone Review (Revised 2/19/2012)

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2011-08-05
Posted on Shure SRH940

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Comfortable, excellent sound, usable with iPods etc.
Cons: Somewhat large for portable use.

The SRH-940 compares favorably in several ways to the Sennheiser HD-800, with a few exceptions. Given that the HD-800 costs 5 to 6 times as much, the similarities and differences are of great interest to persons whose budgets don't stretch much beyond the SRH-940. The main exceptions are soundstage and resolution of upper harmonic details. Because of the HD-800's huge earcups, large drivers, and some fancy and costly engineering, the HD-800 has possibly the widest (or best) soundstage of any dynamic headphone that I'm aware of. The harmonic details are not as easy to describe, but if you have a chance to make a direct comparison, the differences are much easier to hear when you go from the HD-800 to the SRH-940 rather than the other way around. Note my comments below relating to harmonics.

It would be easy to assume that the differences I just described are a really big deal, but that depends on your experience and perceptions, and how much of an audio perfectionist you might be. In my case, having access to many top quality headphones from the HD-800 on down, it's not a big deal. The main similarity between the SRH-940 and the HD-800 is the sound signature, i.e. the overall balance of bass, mids, and treble that give the headphone its basic character. Attempts to measure this characteristic are generally expressed as a frequency response. While the signatures of these two headphones are not identical, myself and others have made comparisons with specific music tracks that did not reveal a substantial difference, so where significant differences are reported, look for specific examples if that is important to you.

Summarizing the actual sound of the SRH-940, it is highly detailed and has what is widely regarded as a more-or-less neutral signature over most of its range, with a slight bit of brightness on the high end. Fortunately, whatever extra brightness the SRH-940 may have compared to the average headphone does not contribute to a sibilance problem. I find the 940's soundstage to be above average for a closed-back headphone, and while the bass will not satisfy the so-called bass-heads of the headphone world, I find the bass to be pretty consistent with what I know to be accurate high fidelity reproduction. Again, depending on how accurate you require your bass to be, a decibel or two of variance that's acceptable to some persons might be annoying to others.

Other headphones I compared the SRH-940 to are the Shure SRH-1840 and the B&W P5. The P5 sounds slightly hollow compared to the SRH-940, it sounds somewhat muffled on the high end, and sounds a little bit weak in the deep bass. Given that the P5 and SRH-940 sell for about the same price and that the SRH-940 wins in sound quality on all counts (in my opinion), I'd say that the P5's advantage is smaller size and better portability. Compared to the SRH-1840, the 1840 has less brightness in the "presence" area around 4 to 7 khz and a very slight edge in soundstage and upper harmonic detail.

The SRH-940 will play at reasonable volume levels with portable devices such as most cellphones, iPods and so on. The straight cord feels strong enough to withstand some abuse, and with the earcups pulled all the way down and rotated against my chest, I can have the headphone around my neck all day long without it getting in my way when I'm not listening to it. It also comes with a coiled cord. Neither cord has an angled plug unfortunately. The other good news with the cord is that it's detachable. The other less-than-good news is that the detachable end is partially proprietary. The detachable plug is a standard sub-mini plug (next size smaller than a 1/8 inch mini-plug), but the plastic fitting behind that plug locks into the jack on the earcup in a way that would require DIY'ers to take the earcup apart if they want to use a different cable without the proprietary connector.

The earcups of the SRH-940 completely surround my ears, and it's a close fit. The internal space for ears in each oval earcup measure 2-5/8 by 1-7/8 inches. I find the fit very comfortable, but people with much larger ears may feel very cramped. The carrycase that comes with the SRH-940 is fairly large, and would take up a lot of space in a carry-on bag for airline travel. If this is your situation, I'd recommend carrying the SRH-940 around your neck when boarding, or just wrap it in something thin to place in a suitcase, to give it minimal protection.

The entire headphone seems to be plastic except for the velour earpads, and Made In China means they optimized the SRH-940 for lowest production cost. The good news is that it seems to be very well made, and given the sound quality, a real bargain at the usual prices. Isolation from external sounds is good even when not playing music. When playing music, I can't hear the telephone ring from 3 feet away, and the ringer is the old-fashioned kind - very attention-getting.

People often ask about the headband and comfort issues, and my experience says that the weight of the 940 is light enough that most of it is supported by the earcups and only a small percentage by the headband. In fact, if a user pulls the earcups down just slightly more than needed to fit their ears, that will lighten the headband pressure to the point that the feeling of wearing the headphone will virtually disappear.

In addition to the pop music tracks listed below, which I used mainly for detecting weaknesses or other problems with the sound, I played a wide variety of genres (Jazz, Diana Krall, Bill Evans Trio; Bach organ, Biggs; Beethoven 9th, Solti CSO; Chopin, Moravec; Reggae, Marley, Tosh; Country, Haggard, Yoakam; Verdi, Domingo; Sinatra and Bennett; Punk, Germs, Fear, Sid Vicious, Social Distortion; Medieval, Madrigali, Medieval Babes; Trance, Mylene Farmer, etc.)

The following are some of the music tracks I tested with, and the main features I listened for with those tracks:

Blues Project - Caress Me Baby (piercing guitar sound, handled well).
Cocteau Twins - Carolyn's Fingers (guitar string detail and quality, excellent).
Commodores - Night Shift (bass detail, excellent).
Germs - Forming (raw garage sound, good).
Lick The Tins - Can't Help Falling In Love (tin whistle, very clear and clean).
Lou Reed - Walk On The Wild Side (bass impact, good; detail excellent).
REM - Radio Free Europe (drum impact, very good).
Rolling Stones - She's So Cold (bass impact and guitar sound, very good).
U2 - With Or Without You (bass boom/high-pitched instruments/sibilants, handled well).
Van Morrison - Into The Mystic (bass, moderate).
Who - Bargain (voice trailing off: "best I ever had", very good vocal harmonics).


Sound Quality
Comfort
Look & Feel
Durability

111 out of 123 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Phiaton MS-400 Review 6/30/2011

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2011-06-30
Posted on Phiaton MS 400

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Good overall sound
Cons:

Sources: iPhone4 alone, iPhone4 with PA2V2 amp using LOD, various computers using Audioengine D1 DAC and the D1's headphone out.

Before I get to the details, I want to summarize my view of the MS400's sound. Some years ago, Radio Shack issued catalogs in which they juxtaposed items at 3 price/performance levels as "Good, better, and best". Today after some break-in time for the MS400, I laid the MS300, MS400, and Sennheiser Momentum headphones on the table to compare the 3 different sounds. What I heard was exactly "Good, better, and best". All 3 have soft highs, relatively uncolored midranges, and decent bass. But where the MS300's midrange was emphasized higher up giving it the most nasal sound of the 3, the MS400 was much better, with more realistic-sounding vocals and instruments. Then came the Momentum, which not only beat the MS400 in realism and midrange balance, but had a clarity that made the MS400 sound artificial and very slightly harsh or grainy by comparison. The bass and warmth level also got better from MS300 to MS400 to Momentum, not merely as more quantity of bass and warmth, but by an obvious increase in quality.

The Phiaton MS400 was released 3-1/2 years ago and is not as competitive among today's ~$250 USD headphones as it was when first released. That said, it sounds pretty good, it's an extremely comfortable around-ear headphone, and the bling factor is very good. The version with red earpads and headband is the high-fashion item, while the black version commands much less attention. Even so, the black version (which I bought) has the unique carbon fiber earcups that give it a special look. I had the red-trimmed version more than a year ago, and whereas it impressed me as having a high quality build, the preponderance of plastic on this MS400 makes it feel less so, even though close inspection shows it to be very well finished, with no suggestion of potential durability problems. I could wish for a slightly thicker cable than the ~2.1 mm thick dual-entry cable it has, but it's probably good enough, being significantly thicker than the MS300's cable and the B&W P3 and P5 cables.

I remember my previous MS400 having earcups that didn't fully surround my ears, and having a heavy bass. This MS400 does not have the heavy bass, the earcups and earpads completely surround my not-small ears, and the clamping force is light for a full-size headphone. This light clamping force is possibly responsible for the lighter bass, and certainly for the high comfort level. In spite of the light clamp, isolation is good with this MS400 - about as good as the Sennheiser Momentum. Leakage is low - in a quiet office you could play music at medium to slightly loud levels without disturbing someone in the next cubicle, as long as the earpads are tight against your head. The earcups can be pulled all the way down and the headphone worn around your neck all day comfortably when not in use, which is an important feature of a good portable headphone. The earcups can also be folded flat, which is a nice bonus. The MS400 comes with a very small and stiff zippered carrycase that every portable headphone should have.

The MS400's highs are softer than the v-moda M80, Sennheiser Momentum, and ATH ESW9A, all of which have soft highs compared to the better high fidelity headphones. I use iPod/iPhone treble booster or the desktop equivalent in Foobar2000 for the MS400, which makes the treble sound quite good with no sibilant problems or other irritations. The MS400's bass is down about 6-8 db at 30 hz compared to the midrange, and while some types of music may sound light in the bass with this headphone, there is noticeable bass weight and impact when the genuine tones are in the recording. I would categorize the bass as close to neutral in quantity. I would also like to suggest that if you do mainly distracted listening with headphones on such as gaming, watching movies, or cruising the Internet, the bass may seem especially light or unsatisfactory. If you listen to music exclusive of other activities, the bass qualities will be more noticeable and more likely to satisfy.

In other reviews I've done I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to other reviews and see how the MS400 compares with each individual track.

Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled very well by the MS400.

Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Very good overall sound. Note the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts won't overwhelm you since they're soft and well in the background, but you can feel some of the weight they carry.

Blues Project - Caress Me Baby (1966): Rarely mentioned, but one of the greatest white blues recordings ever. The loud piercing guitar sound at 0:41 into the track is a good test for distortion or other problems. Handled well by the MS400.

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled very well by the MS400.

Buffalo Springfield - Kind Woman (~1968): A Richie Furay song entirely, rarely mentioned, but one of the best sounding rock ballads ever. This will sound good on most headphones, and it's very good with the MS400.

Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken (early 70's): A near-perfect test for overall sound - this track will separate the best sounding headphones from the lesser quality types. Nothing specific, except that almost any deviation from perfect reproduction will stand out with this track. Sounds very good with the MS400.

Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the MS400 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

Def Leppard - Bringin' On The Heartbreak (1981): MTV goth/pop/metal at its best - good ambience and high energy - the better headphones will separate the details and make for a good experience. Lesser quality and the details tend to mush together. The MS400 plays this very well.

J.S. Bach - E. Power Biggs Plays Bach in the Thomaskirche (~1970): Recorded on a tracker organ in East Germany, the tracks on this recording have the authentic baroque sound that Bach composed for, albeit the bellows are operated by motor today. The MS400 plays the tones seamlessly through the upper limits of the organ, which cover nearly the full range of human hearing. Of special note are the pedal notes - tracker organs have low-pressure pipes and don't typically produce the kind of impact around 30-35 hz that modern organs do. A headphone that's lacking in the low bass will sound especially bass-shy with this type of organ, but the MS400 provides a satisfactory experience.

Jamming With Edward - It Hurts Me Too (1969): Intended originally as a test to fill studio down time and set recording levels etc., this was released a few years later for hardcore Rolling Stones fans. Although not as good technically in every aspect as the Chess studio recordings of 1964, and in spite of the non-serious vocals by Mick Jagger, this rates very high on my list of white blues recordings, and sounds delicious with the MS400.

Jennifer Warnes - Rock You Gently (1992?): The strong deep bass percussion at the beginning of this track has been cited as a test for weakness or distortion in certain headphones. Having played this track many times now, I'm favorably impressed with the MS400's bass reproduction and detail throughout the track, and even the beginning notes which have a moderate impact and a distinctive drum-type sound.

Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has some loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical on some headphones. The MS400's reproduction sounds somewhat hollow compared to my other headphones. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in, for maximum detail effect. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrumental separation and detail, and the MS400's reproduction (using treble boost as noted above) suggests to me that the drivers just can't keep up with the intensity of these blasts, even though the treble reproduction is fine elsewhere.

Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (~2009): Featured in The September Issue, this song has heavy overdub and will sound a bit muddy on some headphones. Sounds good with the MS400.

Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery - Delilah (Take 3) (1962): The vibraphone is heavily dependent on harmonics to sound right, and the MS400 plays it well.

Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon - Speak To Me (1973): Strong deep bass impacts will be heard and felt here.

Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues (1968): Dirty, gritty blues that very few white artists could match. On some headphones the vocals and guitar lack the edge and fall more-or-less flat. If you're a really good person, playing this song will probably make you feel nervous and uneasy. Sounds OK with the MS400.

Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco (1962): Frank Sinatra's favorite singer. Highest recommendation. With some of the best headphones, the sibilants on this recording are very strong, but not with the MS400.


Sound Quality
Comfort
Look & Feel
Durability

14 out of 16 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Beyerdynamic DTX-300p Headphone

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2011-04-08
Posted on Beyerdynamic DTX300p

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Smooth, good value
Cons: Difficult fit

I compared the DTX-300p mainly to the Sennheiser PX-200-II, which is a similar design ("closed back"), albeit the DTX-300p is about 2/3 the price of the PX-200-II on average. The DTX-300p is constructed in a very lightweight manner, and didn't look nearly as well made or durable as the PX-200-II at first glance, but that's just an initial impression and since these are both lightweight portable headphones with thin cords, the DTX-300p may hold its own in that area.

The DTX-300p has a 90-degree angled stereo miniplug whereas the PX-200-II has a straight plug. In spite of the angled plug on the DTX-300p, there is a 5 mm plastic extension ahead of the metal/electronic end so that it will fit into recessed minijacks on music players, etc. At first I couldn't get the cushions to fit properly on my ears like the PX-200-II's cushions do, but after a bit of bending and wearing the headband forward on my head to angle the earcups forward, I did manage to get a good fit. Getting a secure fit is essential to providing proper bass response.

Bass with the DTX-300p is similar to the PX-200-II, which is lighter than average for headphones priced between the DTX-300p and PX-200-II. People who like "full strength" bass might prefer something like the Sennheiser PX-100-II, which has a strong bass that's not excessive or boomy. Still, the DTX-300p's bass has a fair degree of impact in most cases, and the detail is very good.

The midrange of the DTX-300p differs from the PX-200-II in where the emphasis lies. The PX-200-II has a "EHHHHHH" to "EEEEEEE" (in English) coloration sound whereas the DTX-300p has a "AWWWWWW" emphasis/coloration, about an octave or two lower. I haven't found either one to be a problem in listening to most music, but your experience could vary depending on what you're most sensitive to. I did compare the midrange of the DTX-300p to Beyer's old studio headphone, the DT-48E (2011 version), and given that the DTX-300p is much less expensive and sounds good on its own, I'll just skip the rest of that comparison and move on to the next test.

The DTX-300p's highs are smooth, but rolled off about the same as the PX-200-II, which is down about 6 db or so at 12 khz (compared to most higher-priced headphones) when running from an iPod music player. I didn't sense a deficiency in the highs, which balance well with the rest of the frequency range in my listening tests.

My overall conclusion is that the DTX-300p's sound compares favorably to headphones costing nearly twice as much, and whereas some low-to-mid-priced headphones are picky about what type of music sounds best on them, the DTX-300p sounded good with everything I played.

In addition to the pop music tracks listed below, which I used mainly for detecting weaknesses or other problems with the sound, I played a wide variety of genres (Jazz, Diana Krall, Bill Evans Trio; Bach organ, Biggs; Beethoven 9th, Solti CSO; Chopin, Moravec; Reggae, Marley, Tosh; Country, Haggard, Yoakam; Verdi, Domingo; Sinatra and Bennett; Punk, Germs, Fear, Sid Vicious, Playpen; Medieval, Madrigali, Medieval Babes; Trance, Mylene Farmer, etc.)

The following are some of the music tracks I tested with, and the main features I listened for with those tracks:

Blues Project - Caress Me Baby (piercing guitar sound, handled well).
Cocteau Twins - Carolyn's Fingers (guitar string detail and quality, excellent).
Commodores - Night Shift (bass detail, excellent).
Germs - Forming (raw garage sound, good).
Lick The Tins - Can't Help Falling In Love (tin whistle, very clear and clean).
Lou Reed - Walk On The Wild Side (bass impact fair; detail good).
REM - Radio Free Europe (drum impact, good).
Rolling Stones - She's So Cold (bass impact and guitar sound, fair).
U2 - With Or Without You (bass fair to weak; high-pitched instruments/sibilants handled well).
Van Morrison - Into The Mystic (bass, weak).
Who - Bargain (voice trailing off: "best I ever had", good vocal harmonics).

REVIEW PART 2 - A Different Look at the DTX-300p

Visualize the perfect headphone. For many of you, it's what you have now, only in solid platinum that's lightweight and comfortable. With that out of the way, I'll start with a top of the line electrostatic with a few of the ortho qualities thrown in. Ruler-flat response from 20 to 20 khz. A liquid sound like angels singing. Highs that add infinite sparkle to triangles and shimmer to cymbals. Lows that would make earthquakes jealous.

And what, you may ask, does any of this have to do with a very low priced portable headphone? Well, I needed a starting point before I start subtracting the qualities you're not going to get for well under $100USD. Next, you might ask if there will be anything left after all that subtracting. The answer is yes - quite a bit of good musical enjoyment with a well-balanced sound, given its limitations. The good news is the lack of things added to the sound, which are the colorations you'd normally expect in this price range.

The DTX-300p has a significant emphasis in the middle midrange around 400 hz, at least compared to my main reference, the Sennheiser HD-800. But that raises the issue of how emphasis is determined, other than reading frequency response curves or reviews by trusted sources. I've found that when I listen to one headphone for awhile, for example the HD-800, and switch to another headphone, the DTX-300p in this case, my immediate impression is that the colorations (or the major ones) are in the headphone I just switched to, since I've adjusted to the sound I've been listening to with the previous headphone.

What I just described applies to my listening tests whenever one of the headphones being tested has a sound signature that's more familiar than the others, giving it an advantage in the tests. And that's why I decided on a different approach for this second review of the DTX-300p, the first review being my initial impressions based on two days of listening and brief comparisons to other headphones.

In my first review I decided that the DTX-300p was most comparable to the Sennheiser PX-200-II, since both of these are lightweight plastic closed-back headphones intended for use with small portable music players. I will take a different view this time. Since the PX-200-II has a very significant emphasis in the upper midrange (the region that produces an "EEEEEEE" [in English] sound coloration), its sound signature is so much different than the DTX-300p, and less desirable in my view, that I've decided to make my comparisons this time to the PX-100-II.

The PX-100-II might seem like the wrong choice for a comparison to the DTX-300p, since the PX-100-II is open and the DTX-300p is closed. But since the DTX-300p offers almost no isolation - far less than the PX-200-II which itself has very little isolation, the only significant difference between the PX-100-II and the DTX-300p is the leakage of sound to persons close by. The DTX-300p does well in that regard, since I can use them next to another person who's trying to sleep, and they can't hear anything even though I'm playing music at close to (-4 to -5 db) normal listening volume.

As it happens, the difference in sound signature between the PX-100-II and the DTX-300p is a 180-degree turnabout from the PX-200-II to DTX-300p comparison. The DTX-300p is still the headphone in the center, with the emphasis around 400 hz or so, and the PX-100-II has its emphasis much lower - perhaps around 150 hz. In fact, the PX-100-II sounds so dark and distant by comparison that it makes the difference between the PX-100-II and PX-200-II seem twice as far apart as I previously felt they were. Note here that the PX-100-II has been altered to remove the center portion of its foam ear cushions, otherwise it would be darker-sounding still. The PX-200-II and DTX-300p don't have layers of foam between their drivers and your ears, so alterations of that kind weren't applicable to those headphones.

Now that I've compared the DTX-300p to headphones at both ends of the color spectrum (my description), the question that confronts me is "Is the DTX-300p more neutral than the Sennheiser 'PX' headphones, or can it be characterized as neutral at all?" Since there are few if any absolutes in this business, I can only offer conjectures based on my experiences so far. I play mostly MP3's, from a wide variety of sources, and with a wide variety of quality from low-fi to approximately CD quality at 320 kbs. I do feel that I have enough good material to make the following judgements, where I proceed with those subtractions I mentioned in the second paragraph of this article.

First we subtract some bass. The very deep bass, around 30 hz or so, is not really there. I've heard a hint of it on tracks like the opening of Also Sprach Zarathustra performed by the Pasadena Symphony and Jorge Mester, but even turning up the volume doesn't produce the tone or the impact. The upper bass is there to a limited extent, but lower in volume by about 5 db compared to the PX-100-II, and lower by about 2 db compared to the PX-200-II. The lower midrange is also lower in volume compared to the PX-100-II, but about the same as the PX-200-II. The fact that the lower midrange is also down a few db compared to the Sennheiser HD-800 is why I suggest that the DTX-300p has a significant midrange emphasis around 400 hz, since that tonal area sticks out when the frequency response above and below that area is weaker.

While it's obvious comparing the DTX-300p to the PX-100-II and the HD-800 that it has less output in the lower midrange, the lesser output in the upper midrange is more subtle, more difficult to evaluate, and maybe even a bit controversial. That's the area that some observers have suggested is boosted slightly on the HD-800, to add a sense of liveliness or presence. If that's true, it could add to my perception that the DTX-300p's midrange has a lot of emphasis. In either case, the middle midrange is the only area where the DTX-300p has any emphasis as far as I can tell. The very high frequencies of the DTX-300p are muted somewhat, down approximately 3 to 4 db at 12 khz compared to the HD-800, and falling off rapidly from there. The highs of the DTX-300p are comparable to the two 'PX' series headphones.

After all of these comparisons, to expensive headphones like the HD-800, to competitive headphones like the 'PX' series, and to absolutes (more or less) like frequency response measurements and so on, I keep coming back to the question of "How does the DTX-300p sound?" And to me it sounds about as good as my source material. Playing Chopin piano works today, mazurkas mostly by Moravec, Pollack, Shakin et al, I got the sense that I was actually in the room with the piano, although the room was open and spacious and did not have close-by walls or other reinforcements that would augment the bass frequencies, which would give more "weight" to the sound. Playing a few Bach organ pieces recorded on mechanical tracker organs with low-pressure pipes, the sound was also realistic and less bass-dependent due to the baroque-era organ design.

With the DTX-300p I don't feel like I'm missing treble tones, or extreme highs even though as I noted the highs above 10 khz are down several db compared to mid- and upper-priced headphones. If you are really tuned into the particular sounds of cymbals, triangles and other very high frequency generating instruments, and would be distressed by the failure to reproduce those with full harmonic overtones, the DTX-300p is not for you. If you're a fan of rap, hip-hop, modern church organ or other bass-centric music, you also may find the DTX-300p unsatisfactory for those types of recordings. For me, I tend to be bothered by noticeable colorations in headphones, but when the coloration consists of a moderate boost in the middle midrange with a not too severe rolloff in the lows and extreme highs, I can not only live with that, but actually enjoy most of my music collection on that headphone.


Sound Quality
Comfort
Look & Feel
Durability

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