2021 Golden Schlong Nominations

Discussion in 'Leaderboard, Overboard, and Deals' started by purr1n, Nov 27, 2021.

  1. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    Would like to edit that. SBAF as a whole is the nicest forum. Just wanted to shout out @dBel84 . The real catalyst for diy.

    And I know my post will ruffle some feathers, just my observations and constructive feedback.

    Its been a slow year for budget Golden Schlongs. I hadnt heard that Vali2+ rapes old Vali2. I need to check that out.
     
  2. AdvanTech

    AdvanTech Friend

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    I wouldn’t say it’s all there under a bit of bloom. Once you hear more transparent tube preamps in your own chain it becomes clearer. I’m only replying to this again because I really do care about what gets awarded, and I don’t want people to be thinking Freya+ in tube mode is particularly resolving.
     
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Freya 2+ has some goo in the low end too.

    I'm tempted to have nothing for this year. Lots else mentioned already winners in prior years. Lots of good stuff mentioned, but nothing which really struck me as amazing.

    One piece did impress me in the Value category, the Vali 2+, which far exceeded my expectations. I underplayed how much I liked this in the late 2020 review because too much Schiit. Silver.
     
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  4. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    No reason to ETA bash for some individuals trying to startup their own company. I think k it is right to pay for services. Ev has done the work and the homework and that is worth something. I still see the ETA staff more involved here at SBAF than other HP startups (DCA, ZMF, etc.) and on par with the likes of Zampo, ECP, and Schiit. Just don't expect trade secrets.

    You can see value how you want, but that is my observation. It was lots of R&D that we dud not see that only a few of us have given a small peak on the ETA Discord. It was the best iteration at the time and version 2 will be even better. Driver cost is still only part of the story and overall cost. I hear the same arguments for Beats as they only cost $35 to make and sell for over $200. The same can be said of many other products that we own and love. So we can't just consider cost of parts.

    Lastly, ETA Genesis is a unique product with unbelievable product support as if they are your friends (because they actually are) and do care that their customers are happy. But to do all that, build all that, design all that, support all of that, takes time and money. And everyone of us has a right to get paid what we are worth.
     
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  5. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    This. The change from Vali 2 to Vali 2+ is not subtle and very well could have been a Vali 3 as far as SQ upgrade goes. Although I know it was just a tweak, but the payoff is worth it.
     
  6. dematted

    dematted Friend

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    Gen G for VE. Favorite headphone I’ve ever heard - it has a unique forcefulness, bite, and presence to every frequency register.

    Bifrost 2 for L and V. Not much to say here except that this is a great, readily accessible dac.

    Mjolnir 1 for V. Yeah, it’s out of production, and it was a bit too present in the treble for my ears, but I think that for a 350 or so amp on the used market this is a really great deal. Does so much right.

    ECP 3F for E and L: Still the best solid state amp I’ve heard, this is just a special product that deserves all the accolades it can get.
     
  7. Woland

    Woland Friend

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    I don't have personal experience, but I do appreciate this kind of candor. Substantiated criticism, like this, is something that the vendor or other friends can respond to. It doesn't deserve all the negative reactions.

    I would also like to read more about the implicit idea that the cost of the driver and other components should be higher proportion of the cost of the headphone. A counterpoint are the LTA headphones where the v3 has great reviews here and uses the inexpensive Peerless drivers, while the V1 has a huge proportion of its (similar) cost going into $200 Ellevenaucoustica drivers.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
  8. Woland

    Woland Friend

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    I'm surprised no one has nominated anything by Holo Audio.. there seem to be lots of very happy buyers and it's #1 on my to-visit list.
     
  9. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    There's kind of a 'horseshoe' shape to BOM cost vs retail price when it comes to headphone makers. DIY attempts and small outfits can be expensive because the time and parts investment in each individual unit is much higher relative to a huge company with economy of scale who can churn out hundreds or thousands of units in shorter timeframes, order parts in extremely high quantities to lower the price per unit from suppliers, own machines which produce parts in-house, etc. In the latter cases, price is not so much about BOM cost as perceived value on part of the consumer according to the effectiveness of marketing strategies. Nobody can complain about high margins if it can never be known how much material cost goes into your headphone. These latter cases also tend to have higher margins because there are more hands to pass through from manufacturers to consumers (distributors, retailers, etc). Way more people on the payroll too.

    I worked in retail and B2B sales for personal audio products for a few years with one of the largest US-based audio retailers where I negotiated margins, signed dealership contracts etc. I pushed more than $3M in product while I was there and managed the headphone department. There's all sorts of red tape and NDAs which prevent specific numbers from being spoken about without lawsuits coming up, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that the ratio of driver cost in the BOM vs retail price has a very weak correlation, if any at all. The difference between a typical plastic diaphragm and something 'exotic' like beryllium or graphene is a matter of dollars and cents per driver. Same goes for the strength and quality of neodymium magnets used in the case of planar magnetic or dynamic drivers. Ditto for the finish/color/aesthetic of the final product. Consumers may be willing to pay several thousands of dollars more for these perceived upgrades even if the BOM cost is basically the same. I have sold $4000+ headphones that were purchased for $900 in bulk from a distributor, who themselves need 30-40% margin on each sale to operate over the cost to acquire them from the manufacturers, who themselves double their money when selling to distributors... implying that such a headphone that moves through conventional mass market supply chains is probably built for under $500 in cost and under a few hours (or minutes) of time.

    Not every headphone maker is playing the same game... and every headphone is bad value if the measure of value is BOM vs retail price instead of sonic performance vs retail price. Once you get a peek behind the curtain, I understand why it's tremendously frustrating like @Philimon points out. I agree that we should be frustrated by this sort of thing. Every headphone should be cheaper without exception. But I'd rather that happen via headphones becoming more efficient to produce rather than skimping on material costs. Time is the most valuable material after all...

    edit - this isn't GS talk. Mods can feel free to move to another thread but I figured since there's chatter here about it, might as well talk about it.
     
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  10. Chianti

    Chianti New

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    Nominating LP W2 - credible alternative to DAPs <$500 for half the money, smaller footprint, works well across ecosystems (Android, iOS, ...) -- supreme daily utility leads to a good share of my listening time & enjoyment. King of the hill compared to AQ DragonFly other chi-fi usual suspects.
     
  11. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    Oooh. Im telling Abyss what you said.

    GS worthy post. Not many companies discussing costs which is one of the reasons why like @Azimuth said ETA is worthy of supporting.
     
  12. Woland

    Woland Friend

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    This may be the last year we can give a brown starfish to MQA and the gear which supports it. If I had to pick one item of gear as a showcase, it would be the Audioquest Dragonfly.
     
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  13. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    Yes, please give a brown starfish to both MQA and Tidal.

    Has Roon ever gotten nominated for a GS award? I’m not qualified to yet (just getting set up and starting trial soon), but seems well-liked around these parts.

    Pi2AES won a GS award in 2019 for Excellence and Value. Maybe a bit too soon to nominate it for Longevity this year, but worth considering for next year.
     
  14. Pancakes

    Pancakes Friend

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    I'd second the Pi2AES for excellence. Value....not sure anymore with the price hike (yah I know parts are more expensive now) and the availability of the cheaper Zen Stream.
     
  15. Carlos CPA

    Carlos CPA Friend

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    I would like to nominate the DNA Stellaris for excellence.

    I understand that this amp is pricey, summit-fi gear. However, as @purr1n has mentioned before, its level of performance exceeds what could reasonably be expected at even this lofty price point.

    When I had the chance to purchase a used Stellaris from a Friend on SBAF, I sold nearly every piece of audio gear I owned (except for Utopia and Yggdrasil) in order to buy this amp. No kidding! I sold the following pieces of gear so that I could buy the Stellaris without my wife killing me:
    - Eddie Current ZDS
    - Eddie Current BW2
    - Schiit Ragnarok
    - Schiit Gungnir Multibit
    - HiFiMan HE1000 V2
    - Audio Zenith PMx2 V2
    - ZMF Auteur

    Here is the crazy part: I have never regretted selling any of the aforementioned equipment. The Stellaris was more than worth it. I feel like a character out of a biblical parable; I sold everything (audio) that I owned for a pearl of great price, and it was the best audio purchase, by far, that I have ever made.
     
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  16. Claritas

    Claritas Friend

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    Last year, I considered nominating Magni 3+. But last year, I hadn't been able to hear enough new gear to nominate it with confidence. Despite its other good qualities, I nominate it for value only.

    Valhalla 2 for longevity. And a case can be made for value.



    A BS nomination for HD-8XX. I bought one, but I didn't want to use it for more than my absolute minimal 3–4 hours of listening tests. The upper-mids trough is very noticeable. Although it was a valiant effort, it was a failure.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2021
  17. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Grado SR225X for value. The X comes with the F cushion that results in a nice fairly neutral FR. The SR225X is arguably the most neutral of the bunch. Strong cases for 3+, Valhalla.

    Stellaris isn't up there in prior years. It should get a GS for E for sure. pi2AES already won. A few others mentioned too. Once GS forever GS.

    BS to Bob Stuart, MQA, Tidal.
     
  18. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    It's kind of a catch 22, because in the end, if you stay small without the typical expenses of a larger business, you can keep margins lower. But if you grow, and have all the things that come with running a business at any scale, the margins have to be different.

    Every business is different, and every business needs different margins to operate. So blanket statements can't be made about any business and how they operate.

    I've learned its always best to focus on what you are doing, within your own business, as in the end that's whats going to matter to your success.
     
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  19. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    I am really enjoying the Audeze LCD-R, but it really doesn't belong on this type of list.. The Penrose from Audeze seems to offer a lot of value also, but I haven't heard one myself unfortunately. Sub-$300 gaming headphones are getting a little bit more competitive these days.
     
  20. murphythecat

    murphythecat GRU-powered uniformed trumpkin

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    the most single important change in my audio life this year: air pods pro. the noise cancellation and overall wireless SQ have been a game changer.
    I never expected to be able to leave er4x, but yep im not missing them one bit

    APP (V) (E)
    HD650 (V-E)
     

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