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

NOTE: Measurements below use different parameters than other sites, so not directly comparable. I'll be posting these measurements throughout the day. We also use output levels (0dBu/0.775Vrms) which is lower than some other sites. These output levels are still extremely loud, but more reflective of peak volume levels to be expected with very loud listening.

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Anyway, I'm giving Sinxger the benefit of the doubt and excluding the defective channel measurements* Here's a GONAD panel, but only with the good channel. It actually looks pretty good. Definitely "objectivists" wet dream territory or what "subjectivists" would associate with dull or bland sound from too much negative feedback.

For subjective impressions, read here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...a-headphone-amp-reviews-and-discussion.11513/
On our way back to Corpus from Houston (the Space Center was kind of lame), we passed by a dumpling place called Bao Shi Yi. They had the typical fare from beef noodle soup, xiao long bao, dumplings, Chinese donuts, and soy milk. How cow, Chinese donuts and soy milk! That's usually breakfast fare, but I longed for this. The best Chinese donuts I ever had were in Taiwan. I have memories of a kid of old ex-soldiers (likely conscripted when they were young in China by Chiang-Kai Shek, and taken to Taiwan after the Nationalists lost to the Communists) making donuts on the side of the street. The Chinese donuts, or iû-chiā-kóe (油炸粿) "oil fried pastry", always had that perfect combination of crispiness and pliability. Too crispy and hard, and the donut cuts into the top palate of your mouth. Not crispy enough and we get a limp dick donut. (My dad says baking ammonia as the secret to their great iû-chiā-kóe. However, too much and it smells like... However, these guys were the Jedi Masters of Chinese donuts, they knew what they were doing.)

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A bowl of warm sweetened soy milk often goes with these Chinese donuts. It's common to dip the donuts into the soy milk. Less common I guess is dipping the donuts into soy sauce. Sometimes I'll get a comment from another Chinese or Taiwanese person: oh you dip the donuts into the soy sauce too, haha!
I went around the house trying to my bargain Electro Harmonix 300B so I could do a direct comparison. I wasn't able to find them. I figure having one reference point for direct comparison would help me more accurately triangulate with my memory of other 300B tubes I've heard on the Studio B. For now, it's all based on memory. You can call me full of shit, but I think you guys know by now that I have a pretty good memory of how stuff sounds.

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The is the third coming of the Western Electric 300B. There was a second coming sometime in the 2000s. I'm not sure exactly when. Please correct me if I am wrong. I believe Craig Uthus at Eddie Current / Moth Audio may have had a pair of Western Electric 300Bs, but ended up not having them and then regretting it. Or maybe not because Craig doesn't listen to tubes. He sells the good tubes that he gets to customers.
This time around, I felt differently, much differently. This one most certainly deserves it's own thread. And oh, by the way, the "Audeze x Rhythmdevils" and "Definitive Edition" was my touch 100%. No one put me up to it. This is how much I'm impressed with it. Or maybe it's those shiny new Western Electric 300B tubes affecting my mind. Whitney has been sending me a bunch of modded headphones for the past year. Most of them are good. Some of them are very good. He solicits input and I tell him how it is without bullshiting or fluffing him up. This is why he sends stuff to me, being ever super duper patient until I get to them. Then going back to his lab, tweaking stuff iteratively, until something really specially happens. Wanna know a secret about good audio gear? It's that last 5% of performance that makes something click. And that last 5% takes 95% of the effort.

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The Audeze x RhythmDevils LCD-X Definitive Edition is fucking good. These are overall the best Audeze headphones I have ever heard. It's not even close. Tonally it's the best. Technical performance, maybe the LCD-4 just pips it a bit (and this was a handpicked LCD-4 from a dozen). Note that I have not heard Audeze's latest and greatest. If I had to use a Japanese RPG character tiering system, I'd give the tonal signature an S- and technical performance A+.
I used some test tones today to test my hearing, and that left me wondering what others actually mean when they say they can “hear” sounds up to certain frequencies. I had done such tests before, which left me a little worried, as it seemed I could only hear up to sth between 14 and 15 kHz, i.e. I could still hear the 14 kHz sound, but not the 15 kHz. But it had never occurred to me to crank up the volume, and the sound files I used (from Qobuz, actually) were all at a level of -10 dB.

Also, my usual listening volume is quite low, some 60-65 dB according to smartphone measurements. Now I read that the level required to hear anything at all goes up steeply with higher frequencies. So when I listened louder, I could hear higher frequencies, and at a position of the volume knob that yields 80-85 dB with music, I could even hear something with the 18 kHz tone.

“Something”. The 14 kHz tone was the last one I could actually attribute a pitch to, maybe the 15 kHz one, too, but that’s already a stretch. The higher tones are only a rather faint noise to me. At 18 kHz, barely anything at all was audible, but there definitely was “something”.

Is that the same for you at frequencies you say you can “hear”? Am I actually hearing the tone at all, as I can’t attribute a pitch to it? Or more something like undertones?

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Do any of you guys remember the phil.askey site before it became DPreview.com? And when Ken Rockwell actually wrote good informative reviews, going quite a bit into the nuances of operation? Sure Ken Rockwell was 100% Team Nikon back then, but that's what made him great. He offered a reference point where people could understand where he was coming from, even if you used Canon. Between those two sites, readers could get a pretty good picture of camera gear. Askey's site would do all the pixel peeping work. Ken could just call it as it is. Sadly those days are over. They are still good resources, but they have lost a bit of what made them special. Ken reviews everything and anything that comes out as soon as possible, sort of rapidly going through the same old motions. DPreview is mechanical and soulless. Things are made even worse because every single YouTube review of camera gear sounds like an extended informercial advertisement. Basically camera gear reviews in 2022 are like HF and ASR for audio. This is why I'm going to take a stab at it.

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I've always wanted a big wide aperture portrait lens. A few years back, I got to try out the Fuji XF56 f1.2 (full frame 85mm equivalent), but really wasn't happy enough to buy it. Well, I was happy with it's size, but it never got the background right - the bokeh was unimpressive. The XF56 wide open is f1.2, the depth-of-field is really more like that of an f1.8 or f2.0 lens because of the APS-C size sensor. But maybe it wasn't necessarily the bokeh. I rarely shoot totally wide open with super fast lenses (will say a bit more about this later). The XF56 just looked too perfect. Too sharp. The photos I took with it looked too antiseptic for what is supposed to be a portrait lens. (I blame the high capabilities of today's digital and the Internet's tendency to go "NWAVGUY/ASR/DXO" for this trend toward moar sharper, moar details, moar megapixels.) What I wanted was the Fuji APS-C equivalent of the Canon 85mm f1.2 for full frame. This Canon ain't exactly the sharpest lens in the world, many have criticized it for this, but the photos that it takes are stunningly beautiful. These kinds of lenses are supposed to evoke emotion. I guess pick your poison: 8K Gonzo Porn or Bob Guccione / Penthouse.
Switched between the B3 and Yggdrasil A2 in my system for about a month. Was initially planning on letting this go after a week but a friend told me to hold it longer to give it a fair take. True enough, I started liking it a little more after swapping firmware on my DI20HE but most of the major hangups I initially had didn’t change.

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It sounded decent with the stock tubes (Pavane 6sn7 “blue balls”, Sylvania grey plate 12BH7, RCA 5U4G) but was a little too laid back. Switched to Raytheon VT-231s and Marconi 12BH7 which gave things a bit more sparkle in the treble. Overall, the impact of tube rolling was noticeable but not as dramatic as other tube DACs I’ve tried (Abbas, Audionote ect.)

On a scale from 1-10 with 5 being neutral and 10 being cold. The A2 would be a 4.5 and the B3 a 4. I’d describe the B3 sound signature as lively, midrange forward, somewhat warmer than neutral, with a moderate touch of bloom. The latter effect was similar to having something like a mild sepia filter turned on. This helped soften the edges of sibilant recordings but also somewhat exaggerated tonal colors. Compared to the A2, tones are slightly denser and more vivid but have less texture and variety. This is a pleasant sounding DAC but achieves this at the expense of some transparency.
So I was thinking about putting this DAC on the APx555, doing an SINAD panel, posting some THDN and IMD sweeps, cranking the up volume, proclaiming I hear distortion, posting a vote for how I should my Pyrate Skull figure, and then calling it a day for my "review". Except I would be a complete total asshole if I did this. I just can't see anyone who would do such a thing and call it a review. :)

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I've had the Pasithea for about a week now, listening to it here and there, comparing to other DACs, comparing to my vinyl rig, letting it warm up. @GanGreinke was kind enough to loan this DAC to me. He uses it with the EC Aficionado, runs i2s from a Xingxer SU-6 DDC, and runs upscaling software. I think @GanGreinke was using the Yggdrasil A2 with the EC Aficionado which I personally don't think would be a good combination. As the Aficionado can be dry sounding, it pairs better with richer, lusher, smoother sounding DACs. I think it's important for readers to understand that my set up is different and that any serious listening is from my record player through speakers.
I’d like to introduce the ETA Mini Closed headphone! We have been selling this headphone for a few weeks now, but I finally have enough parts on hand to go slightly more ‘public’ with this launch. I have enough to make about 9 pairs in the next few weeks, with more parts on the way on a routine basis. There are currently over a dozen pairs already in the wild. Each headphone is made to order.

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This headphone was optimized for general purpose use, comfort for longer listening sessions, and passive isolation. The tuning goal was a sound signature that suits a wide range of genres and systems. It can be ordered through our website for $400USD - https://www.etaheadphones.com/product-page/mini-closed
Now I wanted something different, something with a little more character, but one that still sounded "correct". For digital guys, think NOS DACs, that tone, but without the NOS soundstage (because that's just all sorts of fucked up). But this is really very much oversimplifying it. I wanted different, not as replacement because I was tired of what I already had, not as side-grade, but as something complementary to exist at the same time.

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This is where the Ikeda IT-345 comes in. Of course! Low compliance carts. The classic carts like the SPU (where there is now a modern take with the elliptical needle), the DL-103 which is dirt cheap, and if I wanted to go mono, the Miyajima. There also seemed to be quite a good selection of under-the-radar low-compliance carts in Japan where the price hasn't gone through the roof. I decided I was going to get this arm and use it with my DL-103 and enjoy it for long as I can while I put on the roadmap an eventual SPU purchase. There's no need to rush. High-end audio is journey for me where it's best to really appreciate what one has on-hand, to maximize that pleasure, before moving on. Besides, I can't find an SPU for a good deal right now. Needle Doctor is dead. Soundstage Direct is long dead. SPU carts seem to be special order items. I wished companies like Ortofon would say just FU to the dealer model and sell direct.
This is The Cap, an aluminum body cap that the body of the DL103 can slip into without any tools. The fit is a bit tight. Just smash the cart in it. Unfortunately the stylus cover of the DL103 will not fit after The Cap is installed, so be forewarned lest you rip the cantilever off with the sleeve of your shirt. (Oh, this happens. This is why I advise a special ritual* of donning the secret vinyl T-shirt before any use of the record player.)

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First of all, I will say that I like the DL103. Audiophiles are weird and seem to be getting weirder as they age with some saying the DL103 is cult-like. Or maybe this is coming from Millenials who don't understand the DL103's history as a broadcast cartridge. I'm sure much of what I heard on the FM radio when I was a kid was played back on the DL103. The fact remains, the DL103 is a great moving coil cartridge. No, the conical needle tip ain't gonna bring up the small details (and surface noise) to the forefront like the line contact and ellipical tips. And you know what? There's nothing wrong with this. One rather famous designer of DACs prefers conicals. Not everything is about moar details, moar details - especially with vinyl which IMO is beyond detail.
The contents of this mod and this post and the entirety of this thread is copyright © Whitney Dafoe 2022. It is only permissible to be here in this thread on SBAF and you do not have my permission to copy paste any part of it elsewhere. Links to this post anywhere are fine.

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I thought about doing this mod commercially for a second, but it’s so easy to do, it’s much easier than any of my other mods, so I instantly wanted to just share it with the community, partly to give back for supporting my commercial mods and letting me share them with you all, and also just because it would be a bit silly to ship your SR-1a all the way to me just to do this. (I’m hoping to share mods for some orthos as well when I have the time and energy to write them up).