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

Now I wanted something different, something with a little more character, but one that still sounded "correct". For digital guys, think NOS DACs, that tone, but without the NOS soundstage (because that's just all sorts of fucked up). But this is really very much oversimplifying it. I wanted different, not as replacement because I was tired of what I already had, not as side-grade, but as something complementary to exist at the same time.


This is where the Ikeda IT-345 comes in. Of course! Low compliance carts. The classic carts like the SPU (where there is now a modern take with the elliptical needle), the DL-103 which is dirt cheap, and if I wanted to go mono, the Miyajima. There also seemed to be quite a good selection of under-the-radar low-compliance carts in Japan where the price hasn't gone through the roof. I decided I was going to get this arm and use it with my DL-103 and enjoy it for long as I can while I put on the roadmap an eventual SPU purchase. There's no need to rush. High-end audio is journey for me where it's best to really appreciate what one has on-hand, to maximize that pleasure, before moving on. Besides, I can't find an SPU for a good deal right now. Needle Doctor is dead. Soundstage Direct is long dead. SPU carts seem to be special order items. I wished companies like Ortofon would say just FU to the dealer model and sell direct.
This is The Cap, an aluminum body cap that the body of the DL103 can slip into without any tools. The fit is a bit tight. Just smash the cart in it. Unfortunately the stylus cover of the DL103 will not fit after The Cap is installed, so be forewarned lest you rip the cantilever off with the sleeve of your shirt. (Oh, this happens. This is why I advise a special ritual* of donning the secret vinyl T-shirt before any use of the record player.)

The Cap.jpg

First of all, I will say that I like the DL103. Audiophiles are weird and seem to be getting weirder as they age with some saying the DL103 is cult-like. Or maybe this is coming from Millenials who don't understand the DL103's history as a broadcast cartridge. I'm sure much of what I heard on the FM radio when I was a kid was played back on the DL103. The fact remains, the DL103 is a great moving coil cartridge. No, the conical needle tip ain't gonna bring up the small details (and surface noise) to the forefront like the line contact and ellipical tips. And you know what? There's nothing wrong with this. One rather famous designer of DACs prefers conicals. Not everything is about moar details, moar details - especially with vinyl which IMO is beyond detail.
The contents of this mod and this post and the entirety of this thread is copyright © Whitney Dafoe 2022. It is only permissible to be here in this thread on SBAF and you do not have my permission to copy paste any part of it elsewhere. Links to this post anywhere are fine.


I thought about doing this mod commercially for a second, but it’s so easy to do, it’s much easier than any of my other mods, so I instantly wanted to just share it with the community, partly to give back for supporting my commercial mods and letting me share them with you all, and also just because it would be a bit silly to ship your SR-1a all the way to me just to do this. (I’m hoping to share mods for some orthos as well when I have the time and energy to write them up).
This might be a fail, but if you were to recommend one album, basically your favorite album, for whatever reason, what would it be? This list might be an SBAF "Essentials" List.

Artist, Album Title, Pressing/Version, if relevant
  • Only one album.
  • No commentary.
  • No comments.
  • No replies.
  • No explanation.
  • No judgement
  • Hits and compilations OK
Just make one album recommendation. No replies. No comments. No requests for clarification. Use PM and have the person update their post if need be. Make sure they PM me too, so I can update the list.

Just likes. I encourage everyone to dislike any posts other than a person's one album recommendation. This is an intelligence test to see if folks can follow directions. The goal is to have no noise and all signal.

I'll start:
Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense
Animation of the previous three measurements Again, observe how CF is nearly the same for all three but considerably different amounts of NFB are utilized for each amplifier design.

08 vali 2+  magni 3+  heresy  distortion animation.gif

Several key points to remember:
1. THD+N masks differentiating distortion components
2. Each amp has different D2 / D3 sweep signatures
3. THD+N @ 1 KHz is 0.00216% for Heresy and 0.00252% for Magni – very similar – yet sweeps demonstrate clear differences between them
4. 4+HD+N is nearly identical for all three amps in the range of interest

20220529 Poll Results to date:
09 202200529 poll results.png

Between these measurements and the SBAF poll one might infer a preference exists for amplifiers with lower NFB needed to achieve a particular CF distortion performance.
Well, there's been a lot of buzz about this cute little box, but surprisingly enough, I don't see a thread on it here. I bought a B-stock unit from Schiit after hearing some trusted SBAFers say a few too many nice things about a product that's about a tenth or a twentieth the cost of a lot of the gear we purchase here, so I thought I would buy one to see what the hype was all about. A few days later, my B-stock unit from Schiit arrived, and I was quite surprised at just how tiny this little thing is...


Yeah, it's small, especially compared to the Mjolnir. But it packs a good punch. I'm going to discuss the dac here, as all my headphones are higher impedance, and so aren't really a good fit for the amp. According to some others, the amp works great with low impedance phones, though they'll have to verify that with impressions.
I am not new to Chord DACs. I have owned a Mojo1 and a Hugo 2 and have tried the Dave with and without M-Scaler a couple of times in the past. I was once a Chord fan boy, as I was led to believe that other DACs don’t hold a candle to the Chord DACs. But I discovered later that there wasn’t much truth to that statement.


Depending on where you are coming from, the tone of the Mojo2 will fall anywhere between neutral and neutral-warm. It has an even-handed tone and presentation, with nothing really standing out nor missing. It has a sort of cohesiveness to its sound, which I would say is one of its strengths. An other area, where I am noticing it to be strong is the pace, rhythm and timing, for the lack of better descriptors. Neither slow nor fast. Mojo 2 seems to do these aspects on point. This aspect, combined with the cohesiveness makes for a nice sense of rhythm and flow to the music.
Originally posted at Head-Fi:

Texas Audio Roundup
July 22-23
Austin, Texas

Of course, I'll be there, as well as some other Schiitheads. Hopefully you can come and see us at the first-ever Texas Audio Roundup! All the best, Jason
What I wanted to do next was build out the Frugel-Horns, the XL version that would fit the larger 6" drivers. I'm years late. There are some differences between the FHXL and BK-16. The Frugel-horns have the horn exit towards the back, are of an arguably simpler design, and have a longer section behind the driver with a choke near the exit flare. With respect to use, I gravitated toward the Frugel-Horn because it was designed to be used against the wall, instead of needing to pull them several feet from the walls. The BK-16, especially with the 168ES I sound to be midbassy and murky if not placed at least one to two feet from the wall. Not so with the FHXL where I had them placed against the the wall angled in a bit.

Anyway, I've had always had success with Fostex, particularly their higher-end drivers, so why not? I ended up with the fairly new FE168NS (not ES) but accident because I didn't look carefully while I was on shopping Madisound's site. Oh well, but it turned out to be a happy accident. The NS are based on the limited edition SOL series. I have kept away from Fostex's limited edition series because I never know when one of my kids is going to poke a hole through a driver (boy and girl, but they fight like cats and know stuff over). The last thing I wanted to worry about was to be stuck with one expensive driver with no possibility of replacing the other.

Snorry NM-1 Impressions. Thanks to @Failed Engineer for loaning these to me! :bow:


They are probably the best tuned stock ortho I’ve ever heard. Very well balanced from bass to treble, very neutral. Nothing sticks out and there’s no Audeze midrange suck-out. vocals are forward but also there’s no upper mid peak. Bass is nicely layered and textured. They are really meticulously tuned.

They also have the best soundstage of any ortho I’ve ever heard. I don’t know if it’s the driver or the combination of the very deep pads with the very open back or all 3. Instruments are pulled apart and separated with space between them, sometimes even artificially so. Bass lines are easier to follow than Audeze headphones simply because they are separated more from the rest of the spectrum even if the quality isn’t’ as good. Very airy presentation.
The following is a visual guide to amplifier distortion vs amplitude with a schiit Vali 2+ and Ultron 7DJ8 tube as the example.
00 202200510-31 vali 2+ THD+N  4+HD+N vs amp 300R - vol set for 0 dB gain +20 dBu.png
Above is a typical tube or hybrid amp 1 KHz distortion spectrum. This graph will look unusual due to the dual axis delineations. On the y-axis blue is linear in units dBu while yellow is logarithmic in % distortion. Only the log scale is showing. The x-axis also has dual delineations with blue logarithmic in units Hz while yellow is linear in units dBu. This graph has been initialized for a measurement sweep of amplifier % distortion vs level in dBu.


Compare and contrast the foregoing extensive amount of data obtained from measurement sweeps against a single observation such as:

0.46% 1KHz THD+N at 2V.

Not only is the level ridiculous as being far above a normal use case, such a simple, single point observation represents a profound reduction of information to evaluate amplifier performance for this attribute.
Today we are taking a look at T+A (Theory and Application) of Germany’s flagship headphones, the Solitaire P. This is a headphone I have been incredibly interested in since its release back in early 2020. Since its release, T+A have also followed up with the Solitaire PSE, which retails at roughly half of the price of the Solitaire P. I hope I can get ears on a pair of those someday as well, as the Solitaire P itself is an incredibly compelling headphone overall.


The Solitaire P, which for the rest of this review I will refer to as the “SolP” is a planar magnetic headphone, with a sensitivity rating of 101db/mw and 80 ohms impedance rating. Overall, they are quite an easy to drive headphone, and will play well even from lower power source equipment. With that being said, they do seem to enjoy a healthy supply of power behind them, and scale well with an increasing quality of source equipment. The reason I note that they play well from lower output power equipment, is that generally speaking, top of the line planar magnetic headphones have been fairly difficult to drive in the past. There are obviously a few exceptions, but things like the Hifiman Susvara and Abyss 1266TC, are both difficult to drive, the Susvara notoriously so. I was worried the Solitaire P would not play at the level of the very upper echelon of planar magnetic headphones, especially given its $6900USD MSRP ($6200USD at launch.) Thankfully, they absolutely do play at the very top level, and also manage to do some things I have not heard before.