AXPONA 2018

Discussion in 'The Meeting Place' started by dubharmonic, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. bobboxbody

    bobboxbody Acquaintance

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2016
    Likes Received:
    92
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Chicago
    Agreed. The blaring treble on the PAP 15's kept me from listening for very long. Wouldn't mind hearing them with a different HF driver.
     
  2. roscoeiii

    roscoeiii Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Likes Received:
    31
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I'll admit that I had terrible luck in the Spatial room as far as the music being played went (nothing that helped judge the speaker's capability in the bass for example and nothing that seemed to image well - which yes could also be the speakers themselved).

    But I was much more impressed with the PAP 15 and didn't have the treble issues others in this thread did. PAP 15s are the first a OB speakers I've seriously considered purchasing.
     
    fraggler, Hooncake and Btdk34 like this.
  3. Scott Kramer

    Scott Kramer Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 3, 2016
    Likes Received:
    621
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    @schiit & @baldr there? Any progress on gadget, pics, etc. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018 at 8:18 AM
  4. SineDave

    SineDave Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2016
    Likes Received:
    486
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Home Page:
    I spent 95% of my time with speakers, because let's face it, headphones are a compromise compared to awesome speakers.

    That said, I had a few really cool experiences.



    1) Kii Audio Three - despite missing some of the air/life in the top end that would make me consider buying them, their bass performance and impact from such small cabinets was really amazing without any acoustic treatment. Very impressive.
    [​IMG]
    2) Gayle Sanders Eikon - another impressive entry with great bass and a fun signature. Lots of this is probably the wavelet processor doing DSP.
    [​IMG]
    3) Revel F220Be - Holy Crap! These speakers were insanely good. Tight, snappy presentation with great impact and incredible transients. Definitely a standout performer.
    [​IMG]
    4) Avantgarde Acoustics Trio with 4 bass horns - mega buck system, but fantastic presentation.
    [​IMG]
    5) Sonus Faber Aida with dCS/Audio Research electronics - sounded pretty lame on day 1, but by day 2 they really had it dialed in. One of the few 200K+ systems that sounded like it.
    [​IMG]
    6) Legacy Audio VALOR - Bill Dudleston showed off his new top of the line speaker system. This was a really impressive system overall, though the room held it back from its full potential, there's no question this was one of the best sounds I heard at the show:
    [​IMG]

    Full album here:
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/1sHbQZZyTaQZfsXf1
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018 at 12:34 PM
    Jokko, zonto, Scott Kramer and 5 others like this.
  5. willsw

    willsw Acquaintance

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2016
    Likes Received:
    81
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
  6. SineDave

    SineDave Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2016
    Likes Received:
    486
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Home Page:
  7. willsw

    willsw Acquaintance

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2016
    Likes Received:
    81
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    fraggler likes this.
  8. dubharmonic

    dubharmonic Rando

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2017
    Likes Received:
    22
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Chicago
    A few impressions from the show...
    • MrSpeakers VOCE: The unexpected highlight of what I heard at the show, I’ve never heard deep, authoritative bass like this coming from an electrostatic. Even if you’re not a fan of the MrSpeakers house sound, I’d recommend taking a listen.
    • Focal Clear: As a Utopia owner, I was not expecting to be so impressed. The tone is an improvement on the Utopia, though there’s noticeably less detail.
    • Audeze LCD2C: Much more present than the LCD2s I bought and returned in the summer of 2016. If only this had been what Audeze had sent me 2 years ago, I would have kept them.
    • MySphere: The soundstage is fun, but the bass completely lost control at higher volumes. This could also have been an issue with the WA8 it was connected to.
    • Sennheiser HE1: Price seems to be its only weakness. It’s the real super HD650.
    • Meze Empyrean: Reminded me a lot of a slightly stronger HE1000, I wish I could have spent more time with these.
    • ABYSS Phi: Biggest, most authoritative personality I’ve heard in a headphone.
    • Hifiman Sundara: Similar to the HE-400i, with smoother, more linear treble and nicer build.
     
    Thenewerguy009, zonto and sacredgates like this.
  9. roscoeiii

    roscoeiii Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Likes Received:
    31
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Oh yeah. Those Revel speakers were big surprises for me too. What a crisp clean sound with impact.
     
  10. maverickronin

    maverickronin Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2018
    Likes Received:
    81
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Midwest, USA
    Haven't had time to write everything up any sooner. Here's part one.

    Unless otherwise specified source and amp are xDuoo X3 DAP and Leckerton UHA-4 portable amp.

    Wall of text incoming...

    ZMF Auteur Teak and Blackwood

    Doesn’t really sound "open" but definitely not "closed either". Good forward projection with width for a symmetrical medium-large soundstage. I like these a lot better than the Eikon and Atticus. The treble is smoother than the Eikon and it doesn't give up the detail and speed of the biocelulose driver. It still has a bit of sharpness in the treble, though I'm super picky about that. Switching to the pads with a smaller inside diameter (Eikon pads?) improved that a bit, and the Blackwood was smoother still. I think these would be epic dynamics with microfiber suede pads. Zack said there were some available but that they needed to be perforated and he only brought solid microfiber suede pads to the show.


    Periodic Audio IEMs

    They have 3 models, magnesium, titanium, and beryllium, each corresponding to the material of their dynamic driver. I was told that the diaphragms are actually stamped out of thin sheets of each metal instead of the more common PVD onto a polymer substrate. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well the concept does anyway. I wasn't particularly impressed with the sound that comes out any of them.

    Magnesium: Recessed mids. Much more emphasis on bass than treble. So-so clarity in the mids. Bass is pretty boomy. Treble lacks detail but very smooth. No nasty peaks or sharp ringing.

    Titanium: Even more bass than Magnesium but less boomy. More forward mids. A little more detail than the Mg. Still has smooth treble.

    Beryllium: Still bass heavy, but much better clarity across the whole spectrum. Better imaging and separation. Much better treble detail and still quite smooth. By far the best, but still a basshead 'phone.


    Campfire

    Andromeda: I think this is probably the 4th or 5th time I've listened to these a meet/show. Everyone keeps raving about them so I keeps going back for another listen, but I'm never particular impressed, at least until now. I've always heard them as balanced and inoffensive, but a bit muffled and glossing over detail. Somehow this time they have way better clarity and detail. Been using the same portable amp for years too. Maybe a fit issue? Those heavy metal shells with relatively sharp corners are always uncomfortable for me.

    Lyra II: Clear and balanced but tilted a hair or two bright. A more open sound than the Andromeda but less resolution. Much more comfortable. Smooth treble.

    Vega: Quite bass heavy, but not boomy. OK separation, poor imaging. Treble has extension, but is shelved so much it's almost always masked.

    Comet: Another awkward fit. Good separation, decent clarity. Rolled off on both ends. The sound at least, is very non-fatiguing. If the fit doesn't bother you these are definitely the kind of thing you could use all day.

    Atlas: Another awkward fit. Bass heavy. Can bleed into the mids. Mids are nice when the bass isn't messing with them. Somehow still has good separation and imaging. Treble is smooth and inoffensive, but lacks detail.

    Cascade: Comfort is OK. Seems a little heave though. Aren't these supposed to be portable? Kind of a "hollow" sound and odd timbre. I can't decide if these tilt bright or are V shaped. It depends on the track. Bass response may be all over the place.. It depends on the track. Clarity is good and I don't heard any cup resonances or echos. The treble is kind of tizzy too.

    Switching to pads which I think had different filters over ports on the baffle improved things. The FR was smoothed to a more consistent slightly bright tilt and most of the tizzy-ness in the treble went away.

    Sennheiser

    A/B of HD820 and HD800s: xDuoo X3 line out > HDV820 balanced out

    Even with the handicap of being closed I thought the 820 were much better than the stock 800S.

    It's like a vanilla 800 with the mids filled in and the 6k peak/resonance reduced to almost nil. A/Bing my "torture" tracks for painful treble artifacts was night and day. The 820 was was far smoother and completely listenable for people like me who are very sensitive to treble issues. It didn't loose any detail or resolution either.

    Unfortunately not everything on the 820 is better. The open versions are still the soundstage kings, with more air and a wider presentation. Soundstage depth, imaging and layering was about the same on both. Despite being closed, the HD820s still probably embarrass something like 98% of open 'phones for soundstage size.

    In the ranking of closed 'phones I've heard these are second only to the long discontinued STAX 4070.

    Quick A/B of HD650 and HD660s: xDuoo X3 line out > HDV820 balanced out

    The 660S had less clarity and was significantly more congested.

    Stax

    L500 & L700: xDuoo X3 line out > Prototype Stax DAC/amp combo. Was told amp circuit is the same as the 353X

    Stax Lambdas continue to be pretty similar which is good, if like me, you like Lambdas. The L500 little more bass impact than my SR-202 with treble almost as smooth as my Lambda normal bias. The L700 treble was a little more refined. Pretty close to my normal bias, but with better bass. I want one. But price... :(

    Focal

    My biggest problem with the Focal lineup had been their completely two dimensional soundstage. It can be wide, and tall, but it has no depth, like setting up speakers at opposite ends of a long hallway. It gives me headaches pretty fast. I think someone at Focal's US distributor agreed because their booth exclusively used various models of SPL Phonitor with crossfeed options galore.

    Utopia: xDuoo X3 line out > SPL Phonitor X

    Quite good separation but imaging is somehow crap. Probably because the soundstage is all left or right. Things are usually inside my head or way off to the side, coming from the next booth or something. Even with all the settings on the Phonitor X I could find one that made it seem natural. This one definitely has plenty of resolution and detail. I've heard another sample with really grainy treble. Treble is prickly and gets on my nerves very quickly.

    Clear Pro:

    Was told this is identical to the regular Clear except for a cool red and black color scheme and an awesome coiled cable.

    Much smoother treble. A "hot", but not bad. Separation a hair below the Utopia with very good imaging too. Greater forward projection than Utopia gives it a much more natural soundstage. Much preferred to the Utopia

    Final

    Final D8000: xDuoo X3 > O2

    Kind of an odd design, but sounds pretty good. Looks completely sealed but has almost so isolation and stiff-ish velour pads that don't seal very well. Despite that it still has some nice planar bass. Not quite up to Audeze level, but the rest of the FR is far smoother than the average Audeze and leans a hair or two dark. No nasties in the treble and no closed cup resonances either. Very good separation, and pretty good imaging. Not the most resolving. Smooths over bad mixes quite well. More of a relaxed and euphonic sound. Nothing really stands out as bad or annoying. Without reference to something else you wouldn't feel you were missing anything from a recording.

    Fit and comfort can be a bit of an issue with the Final full sizes. They all use the same basic design for the cups and headband and it's obvious that these were styled too look good on a stand rather than sit comfortably on a human head. The D8800's aren't light (523g), but at least they aren't as stupidly heavy as the Sonorus X (630g).

    E5000 & E4000
    :

    New dynamic driver IEMs. Starting with the E5000. Small and gives a very comfortable fit. It leans dark but has good treble extension. It's shelved more than rolled off. Has strong, tight, bass impact. The bass masks the mids more than bleeding into them. Good separation, detail, and imaging when the bass isn't obscuring it. Didn't hear any issues with the treble

    The E4000 is basically the same as the E5000 but with an aluminum housing rather than the E5000's stainless steel and sounds pretty similar. The E4000 has noticeably boomy-er bass and it's clarity and details is a hair or two behind the E5000.

    F7200:

    I've heard most of the IEMs in the Final lineup, but this is my favorite and one of the best I've heard, period. It leans bright with excellent imaging, seperation, and layering. The only thing the Andromeda has on this is a little more bass with better impact.

    Eartech

    A small custom IEM company. I tried out universal demos of their dual and triple driver customs. They go all the way up to 6 but their marketing material seemed to indicate that the double and triples were the most neutral so that's what I tried.

    Eartech Dual Driver:

    Pretty good clarity, imaging and separation. A mild smile curve EQ. Smooths over poor recordings a bit.

    Eartech Triple Driver:

    More neutral sound, mids moved up more to match bass and treble. Seems to have more bass impact despite a lower level of audible bass. Noticably improved separation, imaging, and resolution.

    Sonoma Model 1 AIO electrostatic system

    xDuoo X3 line out > Model 1

    This quite a bizarre little system. I enjoy the sound, but the method they take to get there is about as Rube Goldberg as it gets.

    The main headphone is a single sided electrostatic driver which is partitioned into discrete elements by pinning the membrane between two honeycomb-like frames. To compensate for the fact that single sided 'stat drivers usually have large amounts of distortion it's proprietary DAC/amp AIO includes a DSP which attempts to correct for this. Besides that oddity, there is the way it's driven. The rear (and only) stator is grounded while the membrane is biased at 1350VDC and up to 145VRMS of drive current is superimposed on it.

    The headphone itself is very light and would be quite comfortable if it didn't clamp as much, pretty much like an HD6x0 series. For being completely open 'phone it has smaller soundstage than expected, but it's quite symmetrical and ends up feeling fairly natural and somehow still airy. It sounds very euphonic with lots of D2 in the mids that the DSP is unable to correct for. They seem to go between wet and lush to hazy depending on the track. The DSP does work wonders for the FR. It's like waving a magic wand and making an open T50RP mod get halfway to 009 territory. The treble doesn't a hint of ringing either. Overall it's very pleasant to listen to but it lacks resolution and detail. It makes everything you put through it sound great by smoothing over the imperfections.

    Beyond that, I think the main problem is not the sound of the headphone, or the overall price (5K), but the fact that it will only work with its included DAC/amp. Audiophiles are a tweaky bunch and plenty will want use a different DAC or always have one that supports the current FOTM format. There is analog input, but it's just a single unbalanced connection and it's run through an ADC anyway so that the DSP will have something to work with.

    Besides that, there are other practical problems. For some odd reason the volume control appears to be a stepped attenuator or detented pot with fairly large steps. This box has a high power 64bit DSP chip in it and they can't add a rotary encoder and a digital volume control? Digital input is limited to USB and coax. No optical or AES/EBU. For something proposing to replace all your other headphone gear I think it may need a more comprehensive feature set.


    Part two coming later...
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018 at 12:31 PM
  11. maverickronin

    maverickronin Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2018
    Likes Received:
    81
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Midwest, USA
    Wall of text, part two...

    AudioQuest

    NightHawk and NightOwl Carbon

    Couldn't hear these too well since the booth next to them was blasting speakers (WTF was that even allowed?) but both of them were way brighter than the original version of the NightHawk I've heard before. Much more close to something neutral. Did they change the tuning on all of them or just the Carbon?


    Audio Technica

    A1000Z

    Closed design with useful isolation. Don't hear any cup resonances. Mid-upper mid centric. Pretty good detail and imaging. Small to Medium symmetrical soundstage. A little something in the treble I don't like. The word that comes to mind is "splashy".

    ADX5000

    Super light and comfy, even without the wings, which I always liked. Very clean sounding. More even and neutral FR than other ATs but still on the bright side of neutral. Very good separation and layering for a dynamic. On par with HD800. Imaging and detail are good but lag behind HD800. Treble is very smooth and controlled. Don't hear any ringing or other artifacts. Soundstage has a very open feel but isn't as epicly large as I was expecting.

    Audeze

    I wasn't able to listen to things very thoroughly here as they guy manning their booth was an asshole and kept demanding that I switch headphones, amps, etc. Some of it was from my O2 and some of it was from another amp at their table which I forgot to write down.

    LCD-MX4

    These were snatched away pretty quick for some reason. Brighter than I expected. The thick leather of the pads makes them echo like a closed 'phone even though they're open.

    LCD4-Z

    More forward mids than the MX4. Pads still suck. Smoother treble than MX4 but less clarity.

    LCD3

    Pads continue to suck. A little V shaped. Sucked out mids and lower treble. A little more revealing than the Z.

    Meze

    They had two tunings of the Empyrean. They sounded radically different and I was told they still weren't sure which one would be production. Both looked completely sealed but had little to no isolation

    Empyrean, leather pads: xDuoo X3 line out > O2

    Very smooth sounding. Tilts dark. Somehow they have good separation but no detail or resolution anywhere else. Mids seem hazy. Soundstage is very small and closed in. It's entirely inside my head, like a bad IEM, which give an odd, disconcerting sensation when you can feel the transducers sitting on the outside of your head. Treble is smooth and inoffensive, but still lacks any detail.

    This was so bad I picked up the second pair for a sanity check. Then I thought about it and I was about ready to pull my HD650s out of my bag to make sure something in my DAC, amp, or interconnect hadn't broken. Then the guy at the table told me the other pair was tuned differently.

    Empyrean, suede-like pads: xDuoo X3 line out > O2

    Much more open soundstage and less closed in. Not as dark the other Empyrean, but still somewhat. More separation and detail but still not especially resolving. Treble still nice and smooth without any nasty peaks or ringing.

    99 Neo

    Needed another sanity check. Despite the cup resonances and boomy bass and these are better than the Empyrean with leather pads. A little modding to take care of those flaws and it would be on pare with suede pads version.

    E-MU

    Full size Teak and Ebony (Do these even have a proper name?)

    OK separation and and imaging. Strong bass without being overpowering or boomy. Mids recessed a little bit. Treble on both not as annoying as I remember the other Denon/Fostexes I've heard. Teak has smoother treble and Ebony has tighter bass.

    Purpleheart and Walnut supra-aural

    Purpleheart has strong bass. Can boom quite a bit. Masks the mids more than bleeding into them. Closed resonances at specific frequencies. Acceptable detail, separation and imaging. Treble seems pretty smooth. Don't notice much wrong there.

    The walnut is more balanced. Tighter bass and less of it. Treble is maybe a hair smoother.

    The purpleheart is probably better a a portable 'phone. Random public places tend to have lots of low frequency background noise which will mask the headphone's own.

    Mid-sized Zebra wood prototype

    These are in between the supra-aural CAL clones and the full size Denon clones in size. They look kinda like a Shure 940 with wood cups. A little smaller though. They aren't quite circumaural on my ears. These had more forward mids and were the most balanced on the E-MU table. Unfortunately the technicalities weren't as good as the CAL clones. Still just a prototype. Maybe they can clean it up some.

    Purpleheart & Ebony open supra-aural prototypes

    This category of headphones is kind of mystifying to me. Portable and no isolation?

    These both had a wider soundstage than their closed counterparts, but no more depth. Bass response was halfway between the walnut and purpleheart closed versions. Technicalities were inferior and the treble a bit more harsh. The ebony was V shaped with recessed mids and the purpleheart was drak, with shelved highs as well.

    Shure

    KSE1500: xDuoo X3 line out > proprietary amp

    I love this thing. The treble is so sweet and smooth with amazing separation and detail. Don't really have anything bad to say about the sound. The best IEMs I've ever heard. The amp could probably use a few improvements. It's pretty easy to clip the input and some people might want more volume. I was listening at about 3/4 volume and I know other like it louder than I do.

    SE846

    Hadn't heard these in a while. Gave them another listen listen and still not really impressed. Even with the 'neutral' filter the highs are still really shelved and they don't have the 530/535's luscious mids either. The 'bright' filter is more neutral but also introduces some ringing in the treble.

    Pioneer

    SE Monitor 5: Pioneer XPD-300 DAP, balanced

    Decent isolation. On a hint of the 'closed in' sound. Treble is a bit tizzy. Can really decide if the mids on these are recessed or not. It seems to depend on the track. Maybe some unevenness in the FR?

    SE-CH9T and SE-CH5T IEMs

    Sister IEMs sharing the same shape and driver. The 9 has aluminum and brass components in its shell while the 5 is all plastic. Both were quite comfortable.

    Surprisingly, the more expensive 9 is bass heavy while this 5 is a mid centered neutral. The bass on the 9 stays pretty well controlled too. From the mids on up they pretty similar. Technicalities were nothing to get excited over, but there were no errors of commission and they seemed quite solidly built as well.
     
  12. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,153
    Dislikes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Irvine,CA
    Grados dominate this category
     
  13. BillOhio

    BillOhio Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Likes Received:
    610
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Glendale CA
    Home Page:
    I would have liked to have heard the Cayin 300B Amp. Anybody get a chance to hear it?
     

Share This Page