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
Amazon Music just announced that it will offer hires for no extra cost. Now we have Qobuz, Apple, and Amazon offering hires streaming. Only Spotify is behind with only CD lossless, but it's probably only a matter of time before they too offer hires. These are big players in streaming and with them on board, there is no need for lossy Tidal MQA hires which requires unfolding in software and yet another unfolding in hardware to reach its potential.
MQA is dead meat. Toast. Fini.
I hooked up the Bolt to my 2008 Mac Pro using the included USB-A adapter, to my iPhone XR using a USB-C to Lightning adapter, and to my modern Windows desktop PC. sound quality was rather crummy from the motherboard of my desktop PC, excellent on my Mac, and in between the two with the iPhone although leaning much closer towards the quality of the Mac. I mention this as YMMV depending on what you USB source you plug the Bolt into.
During the first run (training) challenge step 5 was not correctly discriminated. The two successive runs were perfectly discriminated.
At this extraordinary level of performance Wavelight and Spring2 KTE sound more similar than different. Please keep in mind the differences described below are subtle but differentiable as demonstrated in ABX testing above.
Schiit IEMagni Medium Gain
1kHz Steady-State Sine Wave
-3dbU output into 30-ohms, normalized to 0dbC
And how much do vintage (real NOS is practically non-existent today) EL84's cost today? Let's keep in mind that for a two-channel PP, we need four of them. I don't know how hard the Leben runs the power tubes, but these things tend to be driven harder in a speaker than DHTs used in headphone amps. That is, they are wear items that will die. Finally, there's no way for Leben to offer vintage tubes because of cost, availability, and reliability. A good percentage of "strong" or "NOS" tubes bought on eBay aren't really so when I put them on the Amplitrex tube tester. I also eschew amps that need spheshal tubes to sound good (mids and highs will be better, but the lows will still be loose). Great amps IMO sound good with current production tubes, but sound better with exotic tubes. FWIW, the KX-200 uses the rather unknown 7591. Unknown is that it isn't a EL84 or EL34. I am beginning to think that the 7591 is darn good sounding tube overlooked by PP amp designers today. I'm using new production JJ 7591 in my KX-200 right now and the amp sounds darn good.
I hate the HD650 except when powered by nuclear reactors and I’ve bought one like 3 times trying to like it. And I think they are way overhyped here on SBAF and would like to prove ortho superiority some day. but i find myself in a situation where a reference would be a good thing and the HD650 seems like a good candidate since it’s kind of the opposite of the skewed sense of neutral I have wound up with and it’s used everywhere and there’s tons of measurements.
I’m thinking a KISS modded pair or other mod that has been measured by @purr1n with no extra tweaks from the measured version. One which is neutral not bright at all. and I don’t like electrodynamics in general hence the dark side. I currently only own one electrodynamic driver and that’s in my Solaris og iem.
Before moving forward, I want to make it hyper clear that no matter how harshly I will go, this is one awesome pair I have ever experienced. Good things were already well documented elsewhere, and to make my post as concise as possible, I took out all the shameless love-lettering statements, which could alter tone of this post greatly. Anything I don’t describe in this post would be no less than good/decent.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
 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.
Oh, I forgot telling this. This pair of headphones sold (effectively) $120 new. What happened to Fang Bian lol?