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 picked these two DACs because they seemed comparable in price and implementation, with the Soncoz SGD1 using one of the latest ESS parts ES038Q2M (x2) and the JNOG using a single 4493EQ. Both offer balanced outputs and designed with measurements in mind.

First of all, the Soncoz DAC is a usability disaster. The JNOG by contrast was x500 simpler to use. Plug in stuff into JNOG. Press power button. Press input button to cycle inputs until I hear sound. The Soncoz SGD1 I found extremely frustrating to the point where I wanted to throw it out onto the street and run it over with my Jeep. There's some part of me that still wants to do that and film it to put in on YouTube. Words cannot express the level of frustration I had with this Soncoz DAC. Basically, there are no buttons on the front. There is a large knob that can be rotated and pushed in like a button - and that's it - well except for a remote control which is just as confusing. All functions arise from this knob, input selection, filter selection, volume, mute. Who knows.

PXL_20210505_194038187.jpg
https://www.ebay.com/itm/164835616183

Proceeds will go to charity. Auction: Schiit Magni 3+ Headphone Amplifier Signed by Jason Stoddard, the man himself. This will likely be a rare piece of gear going forward.

PXL_20210415_034314611.jpg

The scratches on the top plate are evident in the photo. This unit was assembled at the new Schiit factory in Corpus Christi by Schiit workers. It is not an aftermarket deal where parts were cobbled together like the guy who sold the 666 Satan Nike shoes. The only difference is that a black volume knob is used to denote this special one of a kind piece of gear signed by Mr. Stoddard.
Haven't seen anyone post about these headphones yet as they are mostly local to Russia but starting get more recognized internationally and deserved more recognition among music lovers and audiophiles. Official website: https://snorryplanar.com/snorry/

NM-1 (Flagship)
[​IMG]

These headphones are the result of years of research in acoustics, accuracy and fidelity of the musical signal. Their design is based on a meanderless isodynamic transducers which significantly reduces losses and distortions from mutual crosstalk in closely spaced conductors with opposite current direction (which is typical for all traditional isodynamic and orthodynamic headphones)
If you have to ask... I was curious. Got this to compare against Modius and see if it can replace Modius in a less expensive rig. TL;DR: I don't think I'm hearing the SGD1 as like a "superior" take over Schiit Modius. It's more "different" if anything. SGD1 is brighter, with slightly more grain in the treble region, and less bass impact. Modius is warmer, darker, with markedly smoother (but still kinda grainy?) treble and more bass impact.

[​IMG]

So in conclusion, I think the SGD1 is... okay. It's probably not the most offensive D-S DAC I have heard, but it's also not... amazing either. I was hoping it would spank Modius handily in most areas, considering the price point and how much some folks have been raving about it. But I don't think that's the case here. In fact, Modius still has better bass than SGD1 by a large margin: more impact, more body, more texture, more bass details, while everything else (mid and treble and soundstage) are just kind of "different" on SGD1 without being "better". On some songs, I can tell SGD1 may be preferable to Modius with HD650, but I'd much rather have Modius in the chain with HD800, even if I'm using a tube amp.
To my gf’s kindness, I could evaluate the newly released HE400SE ‘Global Edition’[1] this quickly. Sharing hands-on impressions and measurements.

[1] HFM claims the global edition to be different from the original domestic ones released last winter. As per HFM, the primary difference is whether to use “stealth magnets”. Perhaps a rip-off version of Audeze’s Fazor I suspect. For convenience, I will call this HE400SE global edition simply “HE400SE” as domestic versions only sold in the China mainland.

Unlike HFM’s lower end models so far, they actually don’t sound shitty. The tonality falls down to somewhere in between Arya/HE1000 and modded HE6s. Maybe closer to the former. Much smoother in mids and highs. Plastic timbre and scooped upper midrange still there but each slightly improved. Overall, the most enjoyable 400-series HFM ever released.

[​IMG]

Oh, I forgot telling this. This pair of headphones sold (effectively[2]) $120 new. What happened to Fang Bian lol?
Very briefly, these are bassy IEMs. With respect to the Atlas and Vega, from memory, the Vega 2020 don't seem to be as bass cannon-ish. If the Vega 2020 are slightly V-shaped with a slight roll-off at the top, then the Atlas are more U-shaped with some sizzle at the top. The OG Vega seemed to exhibit some sibilants which receded to some extent after a certain number of hours of use. The Vega 2020's mid treble and air regions are smooth, slightly muted even. With neutral desktop amps, there's a bit of brittleness in the highs. With warmer sources, e.g. Sony ZX2, xDuoo, Shanling M6, this brittleness goes away.

Silicon tips yielded a bit less bass with some lift toward the lower treble lift. Foam tips were bassier with flatter upper mids and muted highs. I didn't try deep insertion because the flanges are narrower than usual and I was afraid of losing a looser fitting tip in my ear.

Campfire Audio Vega 2020 vs 64 Ears U18t (WHT)
Frequency Response
upload_2021-4-14_22-20-26.png
SBAF Moderator Comment: This is quite important - very important. @GoldenOne / Goldensound has performed an excellent analysis of MQA answering many questions in how MQA works and providing insights to the resultant sound quality from a technical point of view. Most important, it addresses many preconceptions with MQA.

It's live! Go watch!
I originally intended to write up a 3000 word essay to describe a semi love-hate relationship with the company and how it transitioned dramatically, but instead I decided to keep it short and simple. Audeze did their homework. But they poorly label versions. This 2021 one should be given a dedicated name and product code. On behalf of Audeze, I’d like to first define what the f*** the “2021” version is.

IMG_7211.jpg

Enjoying them for slightly more than half a month, I should confess I was deeply impressed. Both subjectively and objectively. To the extent I personally think the so-called “dark age” is over. Let me start from the subjective side. New LCD-X (for my convenience, I will call it just LCD-X henceforth) is not only a complete reboot of LCD-X OG, but also experience-wise a tasteful mixture of every good LCD-2 and LCD-3 pair I ever heard... at much much higher technicality level.
For those not in the know, Final Audio is a very interesting boutique Japanese audiophile company that makes all sorts of stuff. For sure they are willing to experiment. My experience with Final in the past has either been "WTF is this?" (can't blame them for trying) to "now this is rather interesting". Fortunately, the D8000 Pro Edition falls in the latter category.

PXL_20210406_122156033.jpg

I don't expect anything from Final to have near perfect frequency response, fantastic measurements, or even cogent marketing speak. The product page goes on and on about being able to properly reproduce bass tones which in my experience, orthos don't much trouble doing (the D8000 is an ortho), and weird stuff about an Air Film Damping System. Maybe this is Star Trek technobabble (Japan-Fi technobabble), or perhaps something is lost in translation. I really don't give a crap because at the end of the day, there definitely something to it. Not since the Abyss AB1266 have I heard monstrous bass notes with such clarity.

The price is astronomical, but perhaps not so if you really yearn for a vintage ortho such as the NAD RP18...
The narrative for Topping on ASR is well-established, and almost everyone knows ASR's MO: moar measurements = betterer. In that regard, I felt the only fair way to evaluate the Topping E30 was to evaluate it against something that I really feel measures very well: my penis. How will my penis fair against the E30, which is considered a top-tier measurement DAC?

20210324_193651.jpg

One particular area where I love my penis is that its transients can vary to fit your mood and energy levels perfectly. You can have very hard-hitting, fast transients with ample decay, slow transients when you really want to savor every hit, etc etc...
The purr1n theme AliExpress / eBay JL Hood 1969 Class A Amp excited me. I decided to make my own "JLH-69". Ordered coolers.

Such inclusion of speakers will allow to reduce a background and to improve symmetry. But this of course need to inspect. I made an approximate design and made drawings for laser cutting and manufacturing of body parts. Two design options. The design is classic. Nothing extra.

[​IMG]

Front mounted VU meters