ADL H128 - Quick Impressions and Quicker Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by Hands, Oct 18, 2015.

  1. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Big thanks to Gelocks for sending these in! Unfortunately, it sounds like he's gone through two or three (more?) pairs, all of which seem to have build quality and structural issues. This pair is broken where the left cup meets the headband. If I remember correctly, all of his pairs have had the same or similar issue. This made it difficult to listen and get measurements.

    That's too bad, because they look decent, are fairly comfortable, and otherwise would make for a relatively nice sounding, closed headphone. They use a 3-pin connector and seem to run OK from phones and other crappy sources. The fit is a bit weird, being more on-ear and over-ear for me, but they don't seem fussy with seal and, like I said, are fairly comfortable. Hard to tell how comfortable they'd be long-term given, you know, this set is a bit broken. At least both channels put out sound! They also come with a nice carrying case. Let's look at some pics (taken from the interwebs).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Subjective Impressions

    These headphone seem to fall in the Olive, Welti, McMullin camp when it comes to tonal response. They are somewhat heavy and thick in the bass, have relatively even, yet somewhat recessed, mids, and are generally pretty agreeable in the treble region. Depending on the material, they can sound a bit rough, a bit bright or U-shaped, and a bit artificial (timbre). Sometimes they sound a bit dark, though. It really all depends on the material, since they're sort of on the fence with treble balance. Think of them as a bit U-shaped, but tastefully so. These are actually pretty fun and enjoyable to listen to. Really, my only complaint is the artificial, rough sounding timbre, and even that I can live with and still enjoy my music.

    These aren't particularly wide, open, or airy sounding, not that this is too surprising given their closed nature. They are not suffocating sounding either, so for a closed headphone, they strike an OK balance.

    Detail retrieval and resolution are below that of the HD650. Not bad, but not great. Pretty solidly in the mid-fi range.

    I feel mixed on whether or not I'd recommend these, ignoring the build quality issues. Tonally and in terms of overally refinement, I like these more than the SRH1540s. However, I think I'd rather listen to the Onkyo ES-FC300 or Noontec Zoro II HD over these. They all share a similar-ish tonal balance, with the Onkyo and Noontec being cheaper and maybe even better sounding in some regards. The H128 is the larger, more over-ear like headphone, if that really matters to you. The UE6000 might also be a better choice. Similar response but with better treble to my ears.

    Measurements

    Given the broken nature of these headphones, I just did a really quick peek at measurements. And, even then, I can't guarantee accuracy due to this.

    First up is a quick look at the left channel's frequency response and distortion. As expected, the bass is elevated, and distortion starts to creep up a bit (made worse by the fit due to broken headphone, no doubt). The basshead part of me actually somewhat enjoyed the extra bass, and it transitions into the midrange well enough.

    Distortion is otherwise quite good. Midrange looks good. I have to say, I was surprised when I saw the treble response! These look way brighter here than I heard subjectively. My guess is that, subjectively, the dips in the treble aren't very noticeable, so while it does have a slightly rough, slightly bright quality, it sounds smoother and more relaxed than measurements would suggest. The emphasized bass surely helps cover this up and makes them sound more balanced too. Funny that these can sound dark on some material. I guess I heard it more as them having a slightly recessed midrange with the treble being a bit below the bass.

    [​IMG]

    CSDs aren't bad. Not stellar, but not bad. There is a bit of ringing in a few spots, but it dies off quickly. My guess is this coupled with the measured treble response gives them their slightly rough timbre without always sounding bright (again, dark sometimes, depending on recording). They certainly don't sound as clean, clear, fast, or resolving as the HD650.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion

    Due to the build quality issues on this headphone, I have to rule them out as recommended. Based on sound alone, though, these might be worth a shot if you like a bassier, somewhat U-shaped sound sig done well. Given it's hard to find a really good, closed, dynamic headphone, I can say these are one of the better ones I've heard. I'm just not sure they really compare to some of the standouts, like the Noontec Zoro II HD or some T50RP mods like the Paradox/Slant, stuff from ZMF, or even the MrSpeakers Mad Dog.

    Product Page: http://www.adl-av.com/products/headphones/h128/
    Tyll's Measurements: http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AlphaDesignLabsH128.pdf
     
  2. JewBear

    JewBear Almost "Made"

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    OT, but what is your favorite closed T50RP mod? I'm debating between the Slants and Blackwoods at the moment.
     
  3. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Kind of a toss up. Tonally, I really liked the ZMFxVibro I had on loan for a while. Slants were really good too, though a bit thicker sounding than I'd like, and slightly sharp in treble. Had good air and stage size, though, plus were quite refined sounding. ZMF Omni might also be a good choice. I didn't care for Blackwood, and Zach knows that. :)
     
  4. JewBear

    JewBear Almost "Made"

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    Wow, I had the opposite experience when I tried the ZMF. I loved the Blackwoods but didn't care for the xVibros at all. I'm a bit of a sound stage fanatic though.. Just gotta find a pair of Slants in NZ to try!
     
  5. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    If you liked the Blackwoods and are picky about soundstage, give the Omni and Slant a try.
     
  6. riker1384

    riker1384 Acquaintance

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    Any chance of measurements of the Zoro II HD, since you apparently have those?
     
  7. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I don't. Heard them at Tyll's.
     
  8. GelockS

    GelockS Friend

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    This is definitely one of my favorites when they are not broken! LOL!
    But yeah, have had many issues with the joints... Hopefully ADL will fix and do a properly designed headphone someday...
     

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