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've been looking for a tube tester for a while, and my options were:
  • Buy an old tube tester. It would need to be calibrated, and I don't know who are the reputable sellers. Prices varied a lot -- this option is basically a crapshoot.
  • Buy an Amplitrex. Good but very expensive -- about $3000.
  • Build one. The two primary options I found are the uTracer and the eTracer.
I opted for the 3rd option. The eTracer is a more complete kit with well-supported software. The only issue is that I didn't own a Windows machine. The eTracer with case, power supply, an extra top plate that I needed for 211 tubes, and shipping costs $1250. I opted to buy a Lenovo laptop during black Friday sales. The combo ended up costing me <$2000 (side note: I've been a mac user since 2003 -- Windows has come a long way, and I'm preferring this machine over my mac).

Merry xmas and/or happy holidays y'all

Wow, what a craptastic year, but also a year of change (things will never be the same and I'm hoping many folks' lives change from the better with more telecommuting).

I feel bad for the folks who lost their businesses. The folks who have gotten sick with huge bills. The folks who lost loved ones. I think about guys who have recently left us like Dino and Rex. I know I will miss the camaraderie of the SoCal crew. I wanted to have a meet this year or at least get a bunch of rooms and crash CanJam, but alas, the Wuhan virus has made this not so. Someone's going to have to organize an SBAF next year in SoCal as it would be dumb for me to organize one is south Texas. Or maybe in Colorado?

I now leave you with a cheerful song from David Hasselhoff
Many of you know that I've been using the Sony ZX2 has a portable player for some time because of its synergies with Campfire IEMs such as Andromeda, Ara, and Solaris 2020. The slightly higher UI was perfect to tame the bass of the Andromeda, and it's organic and laid-back presentation suited the balanced armature highs, not just for the Campfire IEMs, but basically any balanced armature IEMs. I'm not necessarily a fan of the BA sound, especially in the highs, so I look for a particular kind of presentation to time its negative traits: "hashy", "prickly", etc.


The problem with the ZX2, like almost all other Sony gear (except cameras), is that Sony gave up on it. The Android on the ZX2 is so old that it can't run anything today. It's 2020, and really, I don't load up songs on portable devices anymore - it's simply too time consuming. I want stuff like Roon to work when I'm at home, or Qobuz (with its download option) when I'm on the go. This is where the Shanling M6 comes in.
I never write build quality segments in my reviews because it’s almost always fine and I’m not buying jewelry. But this iem deserves to be shamed and flogged in public for it’s build quality especially considering the price. This is a 3,000$ iem. I don’t care about bling stuff at all. But this iem is at best built like a 200$ iem. Even the casing of the iem is just kind of crude and ugly with huge logos which is really tacky IMO. The inlay on the outside looks cheap. And the casing itself is nothing compared to campfire iem’s. It all feels very cheap in comparison...


  • U18t vs Andromeda 2020 (EQ)
  • U18t vs B400 w CP500 tips (no EQ)
  • U18t vs EDC3 (no EQ)
  • U18t vs. Ara (EQ)
  • Andromeda vs Ara (EQ)
  • OG Solaris vs everything else (EQ)
I haven't seen much about it yet, but there seems to be a Schiit Jotunheim 2 out of nowhere. It seems to do 6W at 32 Ohms through the balanced out. Actually, here's the page description from Schiit's site: Unique technology, unrivalled flexibility, and modular design—the Jotunheim 2 sets the standard for balanced headphone amps and preamps. It’s ready for any headphone—and fully enabled to be the centerpiece of a complete desktop system.

A not-exhaustive* guide for helping listeners get the best synergy for the HD800** I have heard various HD800 headphones. To be honest, even with extensive mods, SBAF mod, SDR mod, any combination of mod, etc, the HD800 never quite jived with my tastes. However, under good synergy and the right mods, I do find it to have very significant sonic merit and think it still does deserve its reputation and place.

Other members of this forum have commented that the HD800 does not respond to EQ well (the data definitely exists to back this line of reasoning). This is because the early reflections inside the housing, the large ribs, and mounting structure of the cups, combined with the driver's angling towards the ear and its suspended nature cause some very interesting (and measurable) effects on the FR and harmonics. I do NOT like the HD800 stock because of the FR oddities, and thus this guide, like @purr1n's original guide, will assume that a SDR mod will have been used at the bare minimum (or some similar mod). In a personal sense, @tommytakis kindly let me borrow his HD800, which had both the SBAF and SDR mod (as well as a few others), and I found this iteration of the HD800 to be the most enjoyable to listen to for me. I do not discount the other mods; just haven't heard them.
So I was on eBay shopping around for phono preamps and stumbled across something that looked like another Chi-Fi box. Upon further inspection, it appears to be made in Massachussetts by hand. There are three models right now, the
  • MM-3 - $119 (currently listed at $99 right now on sale)
  • MM-5 - $199 (currently listed at $179 right now on sale)
  • MM-6 - $329
Now all of them are 40 db of gain for moving magnet carts for 47K + 100pF loading, however 150pF, 220pF , or 330pF available upon request.Not much change between specs, although slightly lower THD, lower noise, and closer to RIAA spec. All run on a 24V AC adapter/step down transformer.

All hand matched discrete parts. Says using NOS JFET's, although does not say what exact ones (ie, 2SK170), and if is not that, I am sure it is something similar.
Vali2+ technical measurements, Vali2 is longer in production, technical measurements for comparison may be found here.


I have long had a love / hate releationship with the Schiit Vali2. It has good tonal balance and a pleasing harmonic distortion profile. Conventional wisdom for budding tube headamp listeners was to acquire this inexpensive component, then listen long, gaining insight while saving funds until a significant ascension with more knowledge could be afforded. At headphone meets the Vali2+ has been popular with listeners, myself included. However an important note about can meets is the rather high ambient noise, which may mask low level issues.
Let me start off by thanking purr1n and SBAF for the opportunity to start this thread, as I have a great passion for what I'm going to present, and being able to share it directly with the community is awesome and makes it more meaningful. I hope you'll like what you'll see and make good use of it.


I'm a headphone enthusiast, a long-time audiophile and music lover, and a hobbyist headphone designer/DIY-er from Croatia. Currently also a medical student at a university, which often limits the time I have for enjoying this hobby, but that just makes every moment I can spend doing this count even more. I'm going to present the project I've been working on for the past almost four years, and I'm going to do it in the most open and transparent way possible by giving the headphone community full access to it, including the ability to use the raw CAD files of two fully developed, completely modular headphone models, the LTA V1 and V2, for FREE. Anyone interested will be able to use the files as they are, or further modify and build upon the existing designs, in order to manufacture the parts on their own, and make their own headphones by using the project as a guide. This is something unprecedented and will allow you to skip a ton of designing, R&D, testing and prototyping, and will enable you to go straight to actually making headphones, saving a ton of headaches and money in the process.​
Read here for initial subjective impressions:


I will be providing mostly measurements with limited subjective impressions pre-measurements. In a nutshell, the Hive is a great e-stat. The presentation is closer to the Sennheiser estats (HE60 and HE90) or HE Jade than the STAX headphones. This meaning they have a more tactile attack. Bass slam actually seems stronger then even the Sennheisers. I believe there were some design considerations made here with regards to diaphragm tensioning, which is quite low. The downside is that the diaphragm has a tendency to stick to the stators if the headphones are not put on very gently. The workaround is to put the headphones on first, let the pressure equalize in a second, and then plug in the headphones in. Running a lower bias can help too. If one likes the ethereal and limp STAX sound, then it is possible that the Hive may not suite them. Personally, I love their presentation. Tonally, they are bit like the HD600s. The stock pads have an 8kHz peak that emphasize sibilance. Fostex woody like pads flatten out this peak a bit.
I have created a new measurement website with the help from Oratory1990. To goal is to have a place for the community to easily share measurements of their headphones, etc. It can be found here,31

I've talked to Purr1n, and he has given me the go ahead to upload his measurements from My site takes in raw measurements from EARS rigs (can also take in data from other rigs), and uses the SN from the EARS rig to fetch the HPN compensation directly from MiniDSP. On top of the HPN compensation, we have developed an estimate at a Harman target response, as well as what we call "Optimum", which is our desired target response.

While I do know there is already a 560S thread containing a bunch of Marv's measurements, I am personally more adhesive to subforum definition. Particularly thinking measurement posts should be placed on the measurement subforum as I've been often lost in finding specific measurements and ended up googling. I'll put a link to the previous 560S measurements at the end of this OP.


As you see in the plot, from 3khz downward, it's very difficult to bitch about 560's tonal balance. Maybe subtly uptiling. But it doesn't sound thin or lean at least for bass and midrange. I am actually kinda liking it. They do have some issues in this region, but fr is not one of them imho.,,