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

ETA, the project started by @E_Schaaf and @tommytakis, have come out with their next headphone. For those of you not in the loop, ETA is aiming to produce high quality, affordable dynamic-driver headphones through 3D printing that compete with the more traditional big-name dynamic driver companies. Their first headphone, GenG, debuted here not long ago to generally positive reception, though there were some criticisms of the tuning, soundstage, imaging, and overall build quality.

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The Mini is ETA's latest headphone. This is a bit of an odd one, as it was originally planned to be a limited release that simply used the rest of the GenG drivers. However, after some fiddling with it, Ev decided that it would make sense as the "entry-level" ETA headphone because of both difficulties in producing the other model they were working on, called the "Supra", and a break-through in the design of the Mini.
I wanted to get my hands on the Diablo because of a singular use case: a transportable AIO for full-sized headphones, specifically the ZMF Verite Closed (and to a lesser extent the HD6xx). I'm sure people will have other use cases which they want explored. I will do my best to cover them if asked; however I won't make my usual extended efforts because I lack time these days.This unit will be going on loaner, so sign up if there something about the Diablo that you want to evaluate that I did not cover sufficiently.

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The measurements will come later. I feel doing subjective testing under controlled conditions and an extended period of time first is better than measurements first. Doing measurements first can result in confirmation bias and cause me to do dumb things like crank up the volume with the HD650 at 105db and proclaim that I hear -88db THD+N distortion from the amp, when in fact I'm hearing the -23db THD+N distortion from the headphone.
No more speculation. I feel I shouldn't really say much because I'm modding Audeze headphones. But I will say a few positive things.

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Best stock Audeze I've heard as far as clarity and resolution
No midrange recession
More open sounding than previous Audeze's
The Humminguru (HG for the rest of the review) is a fully automatic, one step process ultrasonic record cleaner. The HG originally started as a Kickstarter campaign in Dec 2020. Shortly after fulfilling campaign backers fall of 2021, I bought one of the first retail versions in Nov 2021. The HG is produced by Happy Well Tech (a subsidiary of Happy Well International Enterprise LTD) out of Hong Kong. They also own and operate the factory the HG is produced in, located in Zhuhai China.

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I’ve cleaned just over 300 records now with the HG’s and have just a little over 150 to go. It’s dead simple to use and the fact I can set records in and do other things is important to me. I just couldn’t get on with manual cleaning. It demanded too much attention from me. Can’t drink fabulous Belgian ales if you have to use both hands the entire time. It’s also pretty darn quiet, so I can listen to music or watch the playoffs while cleaning a batch of records. It is a little on the slow side, so if you have thousands to clean, you may want to consider something that cleans more than one a time. The price of entry is cheap too; around $465 shipped to the United States via FedEx. I love the Humminguru. It’s been a great investment for me.
Thank you SBAF for letting me hear these dongles. Its great to actually be able to hear them before purchasing. Here are my thoughts after a brief listen to both dongles. I don't think any prolonged listening is going to change my opinion, so I'll happily send these out to the next person on the loaner list.

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All listening was done through either PC usb to Zen Pro, or Iphone 13 Pro to Zen Pro Balanced. I made sure to keep the dongles on until they were warm to the touch.
amb Ɣ2 technical measurements

Standard Prologue
If you are unfamiliar with audio measurements please use a search engine with the query:
"audio measurements" or "audio measurement handbook"
Look for publications by Richard C. Cabot and also by Bob Metzler, both from Audio Precision. There are other useful publications as well. These will provide basic knowledge.
Interpretation of the following measurements is beyond the scope of technical measurements posts.

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Ɣ2 is eminently listenable. USB implementation is dated, however spdif + external power supply allow the Ɣ2 to perform its best. A far better auditory experience than the Original Generation ODAC.
By popular request, I've put the MIL boards into the Yggdrasil, let it warm up a few days; and these are my impressions after a few days on and off listening - at times wondering why my DAC sounded so "off", only to have to remind myself "oh, this is the MIL, not LIM".

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I did this because I wanted to give the MIL a real shot. Not the quick shot I did before where I listened to it, said to myself meh, and moved on. By real shot, I mean more than my typical bullshit where I listen for three seconds and proclaim it to be shit. @insidious meme can attest to such stories. The funny thing is, I've never changed my mind. Additional listenings never helped. The most important thing in assessing any piece of audio gear is the control the variables: know the recording down to the specific master, know the amps, know the headphones, and maybe the cables (if you believe cables make a difference). People think I have great ears. I merely have a lot of practice, honing my skills with blind tests, and do a lot of little things (like what I mentioned above) to make it seem I am strong with the Force.
TL-DR. A platform to realise the sound potential of your 46mm drivers. Incredible build quality. Lightweight

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I haven’t seen any reviews of this headphone online, so wanted to put down a few words. First, I should say that the complexity can be very daunting when you read about LTS. @Tomislav_L started an LTA project with several headphone designs, and it’s possible to make your own, buy DIY kits from him and assemble them yourself, buy complete assembled headphones or have customized versions made. And then there’s a choice of materials, mostly between 3d printed plastics or CNC’ed aluminium for selected parts.
If I recall correctly, Stax released the SR-L700 Mark 2 (hereafter called L700.2) a couple of years ago. I kinda completely ignored any electrostatic product news that time -- as my estat game seemed over in 2015 and I thought I was done with Stax.

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However, I should have not ignored the L-series lambda lineup (at least its first revision, mark 2) which I originally thought was just a renaming or gimmick. After being thoroughly filled with wonders and wows for four straight days by the loaner pair, I’m almost about to pull the trigger on L700.2 for myself. These things are good.. Very, very good in almost every single way I can think of. They scratch nearly all Stax itches I had previously.
I knew Yamaha’s vintage models were frequently mentioned and loved by vintage ortho fans, but when I could borrow an actual pair from @Philimon, my expectation was far from being high. How can I have a hope for the combination of small drivers (for ortho), supra-aural drivers, and small closed-back enclosure? The list of such keywords sounds like a huge acoustic disadvantage. Well, I wasn’t 100% wrong. What I didn’t expect, however, was I ended up getting my own pair. OMG.

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Before jumping into my thoughts, let me explain a little bit about my on-ear headphones history. I don’t think I have much experience with this type of headphones. Many years ago, I happened to hear B&W P5 and Beats Solo2, and liked them both. Grado couldn’t impress me but cut through via F-cushion equipped Hemp. For a stable daily driver, however, the former group lacks technicality while the latter was painful in ergonomics. So, that’s where I started my time with Yamaha’s vintage on-ear headphones.
First off, I want to express my sincere gratitude to @xrk971 or making this loaner possible. It was a pleasure to make his acquaintance, and to get a brief tour of his lab. Those Dayton RS backloaded horns were pretty awesome! And thanks to @rhythmdevils for herding cats.

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Anyhow, this will be a pretty straightforward review. Build/fit and finish comments. Then a bit describing the system, positioning, etc., then some different amp pairings. I’ll then attempt to run through my subjective opinions of the speakers’ sound. Unfortunately I haven’t owned a pair of stand mount speakers since I had a pair of Rick Craig’s Anarchy’s. (An aside: Interestingly, these Vanguards use a very similar tweeter to the original RS28F’s used in the Anarchy). Prior to the Anarchy’s, I had a pair of Von Schweikert VR-1’s. I could be pressed to compare the Vanguard to my current speakers, but they’re kind of a different take on things, so I’m not sure how useful that would be. Either way, I’d be happy to oblige if there’s a desire from Friends.
I really like how these sound, and they are the opposite kind of headphones I usually like. I’m impressed by what Hifiman and Drop have pulled off here. I think these are going to make a lot of people very happy and sell extremely well. I think I would take these over any ortho I’ve heard under the LCD-2 Classic price range maybe. The LCD-2 Classic has lower distortion obviously, but these are more clear and neutral sounding. I’ve heard some cheap orthos (I won’t name names) that sound way way worse. Hifiman should make more electrodynamics…

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I can confidently recommend these headphones for anyone wanting a budget headphone with a neutral/natural signature. Those who like the Focal Clear or HD650 are likely to enjoy these. If you like John Grados, you might miss upper midrange emphasis. If you like bass heavy headphones, you will likely want more bass than these have.