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

The changes implemented for 2018 are retained: Golden Schlongs and Honorable Mentions (now Silver Dongs) are granted on per category basis (headphones, amps, sources, portable, and other). Each category will not necessarily have a GS winner; but each category will have at least a DS. It is also possible for a category to have multiple GS winners.


Last year we were super selective. There were few winners. Not much gear really got the senior members excited as many nominations were veto'd for an award. This year however is totally different. Lots of great stuff worthy of GS awards. It can even be argued that the DS gear deserved GS awards. I almost feel bad about giving out so many awards because the award is supposed to be selective - not everybody is supposed to be a winner. But the fact is, lots of great stuff this year, and some quite affordable too.
Some context here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...solid-state-power-amp-adventures.3789/page-29


I picked one of these up for cheap, thinking it would be be Class D based on its light weight. (I'm still looking for a class D amp that I find satisfying). Looks like I could have gotten fooled (explains why I actually thought this thing sounded too damn good for class D?). I realized that only the Crown DriveCore stuff or DSi series are officially stated to be class D. Crown's lineup is extremely confusing. I'm not sure that even their reps can explain. I don't know if the CDi (non DriveCore) is class AB? Crown is very coy about a lot of shit these days.
TL;DR: The digital transport makes a difference in the sound of your system, and Unison USB is not the “great equalizer” making even your shitty PC sound as good as a multi-kilobuck purpose-built digital audio transport devices (it may get close enough for many people however). I’m not advocating spending multi-kilobucks on a transport, but don’t expect your 3 year old Chromebook to do as well as a device that’s specifically designed to feed audio to your DAC (Unison USB or otherwise).

Not all digital transports are created equal. Bits aren’t bits. We’ve seen this through the evolution of CD players as well as USB as an audio interface. The quality of the transport matters, even with modern computer-based digital audio solutions that claim to have vanishingly low jitter.

Many are eagerly anticipating the launch of Unison USB for Schiit’s upgradable DACs, wondering “does it really beat SPDIF?”, “is it better than AES”? I’ve had a Unison USB Beta board in my Yggdrasil A2 for over a year now and have been extremely impressed with it from the start. It has handily beaten any other USB implementation I’ve heard (granted I’ve never heard the TOTL stuff like the Berkeley Alpha USB or the dCS Network Bridge).
I happened to have HE6SE in the house from a kind loan from my pal. Indeed I auditioned HE6 long ago, but I preferred HE500 (which I owned those days) by a big margin. HE6 had great technicalities but too off tonal balances from the memory -- I believe it was not modded at all.


HE6SE is a lot different from what I remember for HE6, also different from any other contemporary oval ear cup hifimans. Right out of the box, it's already very enjoyable. They don't have any hassles of non-se he6s. And 10 second modding (literally) does the wonder. Anyway after a few hours of listening, I can't help placing an order for a pair for myself. $700 new? How crazy..
Basically this software emulates the speaker-like sound into any headphone you plug into. Yeah I know, wtf right? You can use most available DACs out there, I'm using the Schiit Hel + Porta Pros right now and it works flawlessly. I'll drop down some key things here
It's definitely not for everyone and I don't think these are meant to replace your main headphone rig or speakers, but provides a unique speaker-like experience at a very affordable pricing. I know there's the Smyth realizer ? which is substantially more expensive. I think there's decent amount of friends here that would be interested in this so I decided to write my impressions here. Would be a cool loaner idea, but I think we would have to work with Ryan first since the license key only allows for one source. Mine's a prototype/demo so not sure if things have changed.
Thanks to @Phantaminum 's kindness, I can have this amp for the next couple of weeks. I didn't hear many things about this amp in sbaf -- there's only one outdated discussion thread (link). But have been curious because this is often mentioned in other forums in the context of zmf headphone pairing. Anyway he also loaned me a bunch of (really.. confusingly many!) tubes to test. Super excited.
Drop x JVC HA-FDX1 Dual Carbon IEM

Before we even say another word about this, we need to start here:

@james444 is always digging up random IEMs and modding them with impressive results. He posted a few before and after measurements of the mods, and before long, we purchased a JVC HA-FD01 from a Japan to send along on our loaner program. Most of the folks who heard the loaner, at least those earlier in line, should be aware that I had only implemented a quick and dirty version of the mods. The "authentic" @james444 mods were much more intricate. I think @zerodeefex can tell you guys what a pain in the ass it was for him to do it right. I hindsight, I guess I could have paid my kids (with their smaller fingers) to do the proper mod for me. Anyway, the point I wanted to make is that the proper mods result in better bass quality compared to the quick and dirty version.
Desert ironwood looks awesome -- I think I am saying this phrase every year lol.. regardless, it's definitely another wood I desire to collect.

According to the Wood Database, this wood is as hard (3,260 janka lbf) and dense (75 lbs/ft3) as African Blackwood:
(harder and denser than Cocobolo)

FR measurement (not Jude's but Zach's) looks interesting too. Not sure about which pads were on each. @zach915m may chime in.
If SBAF members are interested, @Zampotech said he can make a limited batch to sell here. I think he's shooting for somewhere around $250 + shipping, if I understood correctly.

I've spent a fair amount of time with this "Shortest Way" amp. I still have some comparison testing to do, especially with the ZDT Jr. but have enough thoughts to get started.

So, what is this thing?

- Single-ended, Triode, using 6Z51P tubes
- Output transformers (two types of steel to improve performance at a smaller size, would have to use regular, larger transformers if more are produced)
- Class A
- No capacitors in signal path. Really just a pot and a few resistors, that I can see, plus tubes and OPTs.
- "No feedback except natural communication through the cathode resistor"
- Short signal path