Super Best Audio Friends

The evolution of the original irreverent and irrelevant and non-authoritative site for headphone measurements, i.e. frequency response graphs, CSD waterfall plots, subjective gear reviews. Too objective for subjectivists; too subjective for objectivists

I had originally intended to add to @Vtory's review of the 2021 LCD-X here, but decided it would be worthwhile to start another thread. I've titled the thread 2022 to indicate approximate time period of this headphone and not necessarily to denote any specific model tweaks or improvements. @rhythmdevils may be able to provide more information for clarity. My experience with with the LCD-X is consistent with that of @Vtory's. This is a massive improvement over the OG LCD-Xs and with two samples performing at a high level perhaps this a strong indication that the variances of the OG LCD-X are a thing of the past?


To get things out of the way, the LCD-X subscribes to Audeze's stock tuning of laid-back upper mids. However, being of the Reference Line, it's less recessed, more toward neutral, than that of the LCD-2. Those who subscribe to Dr. Sean Olive's Headphone Target (rtings, ASR, etc.) may come away disappointed. The bass while hefty and extended, isn't boosted. The tuning from 2kHz-6khz, the presence region, is in fact opposite to the Harmon Target. People who like IEMs voiced for Chinese market or the Focal Utopia even, will very likely dislike the LCD-X's tonal signature. I'm not going to be one to judge for you, but I will say that Audeze's voicing has a lot of fans and hence why they've been successful for all these years.
I know there are $25,000 speakers out there, but there is also the orpheus, which would sell really well if it were on the market today. And there are a whole shitload of huge, well designed and implemented TOTL speakers in the $4k range that cost way more to make than any headphone with equal R$D and at least equal markups.

copied from a profile discussion that is worthy of a thread

The question I’m asking is why headphones cost so much more than speakers and why the markup is so much more. Why are people ok with this?

I have personally taken apart dozens of Audeze headphones. The LCD-5 is the cheapest headphone to manufacture that they’ve ever made by far yet their most expensive by far. No wood, which Sankar has personally said was the most difficult part of manufacture, no metal parts, it’s mostly plastic and very simple in construction. I would actually wonder whether the LCD-2 costs more to make than the LCD-5.

Over 1k iems are ridiculous.

I really think there is a fetishization of sorts happening that allows people (us included) to pay that much.

Ever heard of Lab12? Apparently it is a Greek hi-fi manufacturer established in 2012.
The first time I ever heard of them was just a couple months ago, when an audiophile I've been chatting with for a while mentioned the manufacturer and the dac in question. Supposedly it was much better than Soekris dac2541, which of course immediately sparked my interest. Lab dac1 reference's MSRP here is 2950€, which places it pretty close to other known qualities like Yggdrasil, Burl Bomber, DM Convert-2 etc.


The dac1 reference is based on eight Philips TDA1543 multi-bit chips, which are apparently older multi-bit chips meant for lower cost devices. This was actually the first time I got to listen a dac based on this particular dac chip, so I didn't know at all what to expect. Other related buzzwords are NOS and tube output. Actually, tube output in a dac was also something that I hadn't experienced before. Exciting times ahead!
WARNING: NSFW or anyone anywhere, except those under 9 years old.

This used out of warranty USB dildo broke from a Galvanic Isolator. At least that's what the person who owned it before me told me. They used it over two years, until the Galvanic Isolator attached to it got hot and destroyed the USB port. Now the company that made the USB dildo says this is impossible and won't help me! I asked for a XMOS part for self-repair, but they won't send that to me either! Can you guys help?


This is a $500 consumer electronic product that is not meant to be serviced by the consumer. If you really have the IT support experience you claim, you understand all too well that 98.874% of consumer electronic companies are not in any position to "just sell you an XMOS chip", and your intentionally being manipulative with this unreasonable request. Go source your own XMOS chip. Another reason to close your ticket. Your ticket is now closed and will not be reviewed any further.
These are ortho iems with a different form factor and slightly lower price than the Timeless. And a different tuning. This will be a brief introduction to their sound to be followed up by better impressions by all of you on the loaner tour :)


They are just as resolving as the Timeless, but I can see how people would say they are more resolving. They have sharper transients, but I don't think they are actually more resolving of information.

They are also tuned higher, with less bass and more treble for a much brighter, airer sound. I find them too bright for me unfortunately, but I think with tight sealing tips some will like this presentation. It woks well for acoustic, jazzz and classical. They seem kind of like the HD800 of iems to me. They are in fact quite resolving. When there are no cymbals to be splashy in classical or instrumental music, I really like them, they sound spacious and airy for an iem. I could actually see people listening to classical music on these and really enjoying it due to the extra presence in the air region and spacious soundstage. Bass is tighter than the Timeless with more texture and definition but there is also less bass than I would like, and less quantity than the Timeless by quite a bit.
The original Schiit Mani was put through its paces on changstar back in 2015. No, it didn't win the shootout. However, it held its own against much better competition, only to lose against the Franken TC-750 (partially DIY). Looking back, perhaps I've been unfair to the original Mani. No doubt it was a high value. However, it just wasn't good enough for me. That is good enough to work as a secondary phono pre on my VPI Classic 4 table which supports multiple armwands. I know, it isn't quite fair to expect a $150 to do justice to a $10k table. It isn't quite fair to expect a $150 phonostage to keep up with a cheap commercial unit modified with boutique caps and a beefy LPS. However, I can DIY and I'm a cheap bastard. I have high expectations even for $150 gear. To be fair, the original Schiit Mani has provided many vinyl noobs (and returnees) with hours of listening pleasure at a bargain price and with better performance than more expensive entry phonostages from already well established names.


No doubt, the Mani 2 would be better. What I didn't count on is that it's a helluva lot better. I can name two phonostages priced about $1k which I own or owned which the Mani 2 easily bests. A big reason for the improvement is this: DC coupled, that is no coupling caps in the signal path (excluding the RIAA network caps of course).
ETA, the project started by @E_Schaaf and @tommytakis, have come out with their next headphone. For those of you not in the loop, ETA is aiming to produce high quality, affordable dynamic-driver headphones through 3D printing that compete with the more traditional big-name dynamic driver companies. Their first headphone, GenG, debuted here not long ago to generally positive reception, though there were some criticisms of the tuning, soundstage, imaging, and overall build quality.


The Mini is ETA's latest headphone. This is a bit of an odd one, as it was originally planned to be a limited release that simply used the rest of the GenG drivers. However, after some fiddling with it, Ev decided that it would make sense as the "entry-level" ETA headphone because of both difficulties in producing the other model they were working on, called the "Supra", and a break-through in the design of the Mini.
I wanted to get my hands on the Diablo because of a singular use case: a transportable AIO for full-sized headphones, specifically the ZMF Verite Closed (and to a lesser extent the HD6xx). I'm sure people will have other use cases which they want explored. I will do my best to cover them if asked; however I won't make my usual extended efforts because I lack time these days.This unit will be going on loaner, so sign up if there something about the Diablo that you want to evaluate that I did not cover sufficiently.


The measurements will come later. I feel doing subjective testing under controlled conditions and an extended period of time first is better than measurements first. Doing measurements first can result in confirmation bias and cause me to do dumb things like crank up the volume with the HD650 at 105db and proclaim that I hear -88db THD+N distortion from the amp, when in fact I'm hearing the -23db THD+N distortion from the headphone.
No more speculation. I feel I shouldn't really say much because I'm modding Audeze headphones. But I will say a few positive things.


Best stock Audeze I've heard as far as clarity and resolution
No midrange recession
More open sounding than previous Audeze's
The Humminguru (HG for the rest of the review) is a fully automatic, one step process ultrasonic record cleaner. The HG originally started as a Kickstarter campaign in Dec 2020. Shortly after fulfilling campaign backers fall of 2021, I bought one of the first retail versions in Nov 2021. The HG is produced by Happy Well Tech (a subsidiary of Happy Well International Enterprise LTD) out of Hong Kong. They also own and operate the factory the HG is produced in, located in Zhuhai China.


I’ve cleaned just over 300 records now with the HG’s and have just a little over 150 to go. It’s dead simple to use and the fact I can set records in and do other things is important to me. I just couldn’t get on with manual cleaning. It demanded too much attention from me. Can’t drink fabulous Belgian ales if you have to use both hands the entire time. It’s also pretty darn quiet, so I can listen to music or watch the playoffs while cleaning a batch of records. It is a little on the slow side, so if you have thousands to clean, you may want to consider something that cleans more than one a time. The price of entry is cheap too; around $465 shipped to the United States via FedEx. I love the Humminguru. It’s been a great investment for me.
Thank you SBAF for letting me hear these dongles. Its great to actually be able to hear them before purchasing. Here are my thoughts after a brief listen to both dongles. I don't think any prolonged listening is going to change my opinion, so I'll happily send these out to the next person on the loaner list.


All listening was done through either PC usb to Zen Pro, or Iphone 13 Pro to Zen Pro Balanced. I made sure to keep the dongles on until they were warm to the touch.
amb Ɣ2 technical measurements

Standard Prologue
If you are unfamiliar with audio measurements please use a search engine with the query:
"audio measurements" or "audio measurement handbook"
Look for publications by Richard C. Cabot and also by Bob Metzler, both from Audio Precision. There are other useful publications as well. These will provide basic knowledge.
Interpretation of the following measurements is beyond the scope of technical measurements posts.


Ɣ2 is eminently listenable. USB implementation is dated, however spdif + external power supply allow the Ɣ2 to perform its best. A far better auditory experience than the Original Generation ODAC.