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

In short, this is the tube amp that I had wished I had started out with when I was near the beginning of my headphone audio journey many many ago. I instead went in a few other directions from all the HF buzz - all the wrong directions - but this is a solid entry level transformer coupled tube amp. (Note that this is the first version that uses 6DE7 tubes).


Honestly, I don't think there can really be such a thing as a bad sounding output transformer coupled tube amp. What is comes down to to how much performance do we get for the price. At $1300, the Woo Audio WA6 SE is high value. I'm still kicking myself for going off in various random directions early in my journey. I remember reading about the WA6 SE on HF and almost pulled the trigger. (BTW, the construction of the chassis is bonkers solid.)
This is the 3.1 version of the Mysphere, or the "portable" version which is supposed to be easier to drive from modest sources. Depending upon who you talk to, the Mysphere 3.1 is either the less technically strong or the one that is neutral, fast, an detailed. The Zout of the amp I'm using is less than 2-ohms. The 45 custom is transformer coupled and has a little bit of feedback. I also tried it out from the Motu UltraLite's headphone output, which had no problem driving the Mysphere.


I spent some time listening to them for a few hours to get a subjective impression without the "benefit" of measurements. The drivers were oriented fully outward during both subjective and objective testing. (What's the point to keep them closed in like regular headphones!) In my time, I noted the following characteristics:
I learned from @Gazny about a new “startup”, if you could classify it as such, known as Nectar Sound. They were producing electrostatic headphones out of their garage, but touted the experience of an electrostatic, while keeping the redeeming qualities in dynamics that I wanted, primarily impact and bass. I quickly reached out to Sajeev, the owner to inquire about his headphones, and upon talking to him learned that Bottlehead had created a tube energizer to match his headphones. I quickly pulled the trigger since it seemed to be exactly what I wanted, and with a higher end amp from Bottlehead it would be a good investment for other electrostatic headphones in the future. The price of the headphones are $600.

A while back, a few members suggested that we do a review of Audio Science Review. I didn't think it was a good idea back then because I wanted to avoid drama. Now I think it's about time.


One thing I wanted to get out of the way is that I don't have a problem with people who want to use measurements as a yardstick in determining what audio gear to buy. It's extremely confusing out there trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. Heck, I've experienced gear that costs thousands of dollars, recommended by someone at HF, that sounded like poop. I've bought gear based on recommendations from HF randos (or respected HF'ers who I've learned over time not to trust) and had my heart sink after realized the thousands of dollars I just spent had been wasted. And seriously, I wouldn't blame people at all for not understanding what the heck we mean by "microdynamics" or "incisiveness". Utilizing the measurement method for buying gear is a legitimate method. (However, this doesn't mean other methods are not legit - thinking so would be faulty logic).
I know that any mention of Beyer and Tesla (not the car, but Beyer's motor tech) will elicit groans or painful shrieks from most of the members here, but I assure you guys this is not the case with the DT177X. Someone at Drop worked their magic custom tuning on this one for sure. We shouldn't expect Sennheiser type tuning, but we have here is sort of like Beyer trying to be ZMF! The timbre is definitely Beyer, but the tonal balance voluminous in the lows with dip in the 2-5kHz region, with a slight uptick after that. Nothing close to the DT990-250 in the highs - good grief - in fact far from it.


Did I mention that the headphone is gorgeous? I don't think photos do it justice. It's got a nice aluminum cap with the letters DT 177X GO stylishly printed on them. The "Made in Germany" in small print at the bottom is a nice touch! As far as style and layout, it's absolutely perfect.
So what is the Ultra Curve Pro DEQ2496? It's a inline analog and digital EQ. The use case I will cover here is that of a digital equalizer. I'm not interested in the analog EQ function because there is an AD/DA conversion required which I would rather skip (what would be the point of a four or five figure DAC if we are just going to put this in the analog signal path?).


So basically why the heck would I use a hardware EQ instead of software? Well, in the case of pi2AES and Volumio, the EQ plug-ins kind of suck. Also, some people such as myself prefer a physical interface. I've found a small learning curve with Behringer gear - I will go through the basics to get started quickly:
A while back, @zach915m sent me two headphones for review: Verite and Aeolus. The first headphone I opened up and tried out was first was the Aeolus. The reason being is that I loved the Atticus, so I was curious how an open-backed Atticus would sound. The Aeolus uses a biodyna TPE driver, which has a certain timbre, shared with the Fostex dynamics and even the Sony R10. I would have spent a lot more time with the Aeolus, but unfortunately, the Verite sucked most of my time, and as a result, I really didn't spend as much time covering the Aeolus as I would have liked.

ZMF Aeolus
Frequency Response
Top: miniDSP EARS with SBAF compensation
Bottom: Flat Plate (no ear) Coupler (compensated)
  • After my journey of gear cycling, I’ve basically accepted that no open back headphone fits me better than my trusty JAR650. However, as much as I love my 650s, sometimes I crave for that subbass and monster slam to blast me off into another dimension. Previously owning the Borealis gave me a taste of what good slam can sound like, but I wanted more.. This is where Evan’s ESX900 comes in.
  • I’m not sure how useful my impressions will be since mine is slightly tuned differently with a one-off monkeypod wood cups that are slightly deeper than the typical Fostex cups, but I imagine most of its inherent technicalities will be similar to Evan’s original and upcoming pairs for the loaner tour.
  • OK so how do they sound?
  • Tonally, it has some resemblance to Verite Closed, no joke, @ChaChaRealSmooth heard these briefly before me and we had similar thoughts regarding the tonality. Evan’s pair has a different set of pads than mine for a slightly more downsloping, smoother FR while my pair has the “pancake pads” that are flat, but very soft and pillowy.
Oh that's right. I almost lost my train of thought. This was the meet where I heard not one, but a bunch of people going around saying that there would be a successor the the HD800. You know, it's one of those bullshit secrets that go: "don't tell anyone because it's super secret, but I heard...": Sennheiser has something in the works with the HD800's technical ability, but with the tonality of the HD650. I kept eagerly waiting, and waiting, and waiting. It's 2020 now. I don't care anymore.


Evidently, this successor to the HD800 was the HD700.
The P1 is a very neutral iem (one of the most neutral I’ve heard, probably only bested by the CA Ara) with excellent tonality throughout the whole range except for some rough treble that makes itself heard basically only on clean cymbals but ruins them for me. Great detailed bass that has good but not perfect extension. Flat lower midrange which is very rare with headphones. Congested soundstage with only mediocre instrument separation which is strange because separation is usually something orthos are great at. Sounds are smeared together and bleed together in an unfortunate way. Creates a kind of "wall of sound" effect. The plus side of this is that it gives them a speaker like sound, not in terms of soundstage but sounds are not totally isolated all around your head, there’s a little mixing going on. Doesn’t really bother me a lot even though it is technically a weakness and I prefer the presentation of other iem’s that have better separation and space between notes.

It's good to be reminded. The Utopia is just as amazing as ever and definitely belongs on my top five list. However, I don't use it. You know why? It's because from a great amp, I cannot put the headphones down! I don't have much free time these days as I need to concentrate on my RL job and SBAF, so I try to get as much listening in to music as possible. The Utopia is one of those headphones which is "eh, pretty good" on modest gear, but boy once you pair them up with a True Hi-Fi™ components, it can just suck you right into the music and you will get absolutely no work done. I tried, but I just had to take them off every time because I couldn't get that network architecture document or executive PPT presentation done! I got distracted from work every five seconds.


Sure the HD650 sounds great from the above. So do the Grados. Those are distractingly good. But the Utopia is on a whole 'nother level that sucks you in and won't let go.