ETA Genesis-G/P Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by dematted, Apr 20, 2021.

  1. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    Index of Impressions and Useful Information:

    Original ETA Genesis Thread: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/i...ne-intro-discussion-thread-3dp-version.10517/

    Gen G Mods: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/i...sis-g-p-impressions-thread.10892/#post-345658

    Gen G Configs: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/i...p-impressions-thread.10892/page-2#post-346812

    @gaspasser Gen G Impressions: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/i...sis-g-p-impressions-thread.10892/#post-346522

    @penguins Gen G Impressions: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/i...p-impressions-thread.10892/page-2#post-346732

    @Gazny Gen G Impressions: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/i...p-impressions-thread.10892/page-2#post-346699

    @dematted Gen G vs. Aeolus Comparison: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/i...sis-g-p-impressions-thread.10892/#post-346665

    @dematted Gen G vs. Verite Comparison: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/i...p-impressions-thread.10892/page-2#post-346762

    @dematted Gen P Impressions: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/i...sis-g-p-impressions-thread.10892/#post-345873

    @penguins Gen P Impressions: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/i...sis-g-p-impressions-thread.10892/#post-346648


    9BB8094C-D1CE-4A1A-BA55-770E86B006EA.jpeg

    Introduction

    By now, a lot of you will now know about the Gen G and the Gen P headphones that @tommytakis and @E_Schaaf have cooked up. I feel extremely lucky to be one of the few to get my hands on these headphones. These headphones are 3D printed and have similar acoustic enclosures, but use different drivers: the Gen G uses a 300 ohm graphene driver, while the Gen P uses the same 32 ohm tymphany peerless driver found in Borealis. The Gen G is priced at $700 dollars, and the Gen P at $600 dollars. However, neither headphone is provided with a headband or cable, so the price is likely around $150 dollars more for each of them.

    Before I jump into my impressions, some disclosure is in order. Tommy and Ev are some of my favorite folks in audio. I've talked with them extensively about these headphones, and bought one of them (Gen G) before many impressions were out. The other (Gen P) was provided to me as a loaner. So yes, my impressions may have been colored in some way or another. But as much as I do like these guys, if I didn't like what I heard, I wouldn't be afraid to tell all of you - people who are going to be prospectively spending your money.

    And its true that these headphones aren't perfect, as no headphones are: my first impressions of Gen P, actually, were less than stellar when I paired them with the wrong amp. But as I tinkered with the headphones with the suggestions of Ev and paired them with the right chain, I found myself starting to doubt what I was hearing. How were a pair of sub-1000 dollar headphones produced by a few enthusiasts rivalling, nay, summarily trouncing the stuff put out by Focal and ZMF? I started feeling as if my perception must be loaded up with epistemic bias, but then I would listen again, and I could not ignore the sheer sense of enjoyment that I gained from these headphones. I will likely still be leaving the hobby, or significantly downgrading, but wow have these headphones made an impression on me!

    Gen G Sonics - Timbre and Tonality

    So, let's jump in with the more expensive model, the Gen G. I tried this on Elekit TU-8800. The one word I have for this headphone is "Uncompromised". By that, I mean it is the least compromised headphone I've ever heard: it makes the fewest sonic compromises, or at least the ones that are the most acceptable to me. The closest I've heard to this is the Verite, but unfortanutely, I've found it makes some compromises in the areas of tonal balance and timbre that were unacceptable for me. Does this mean it's in the same class as the Verite? I certainly think so. In fact, I prefer it.

    Interestingly enough, my first minute or two experience with the Gen G was less than life-changing. Bass was a little bloated and bloomy, and there was a lack of focus to the sound. Then I removed the vent plugs on the outside of the headphone, and things really cleared up. What I got was an incredibly precise, technically proficient sound, yet one that at the same time did not shove its technicalities or macrodetail in your face. It was lively but not grating, focused but not sharp, slammy but not overbearing in the bass. This is how a headphone is supposed to sound, or at least, how I imagined a headphone should sound.

    Let's talk about the tonality. I've always been fearful that the Gen G would just be too dark for my tastes. Mids, I prognosticated, would be overly recessed, and the treble would be so muted that there would be a lack of shimmer and detail to the sound. This was certainly borne out by some FR graphs, and, at least to some extent, by my experience with the ESX900. Yet though the Gen G has a tonal richness that certainly hearkens back to something like the Aeolus, its slightly darker tonal balance somehow does not interfere with the presence of crucial mid-range elements like vocals and guitars. Both have appropriate bite, and in fact, I find that it does not significantly lag behind the 650 in the degree to which vocals are pushed forward and isolated from the rest of the sound. Instead, the tonality, which with a few mods has emphasis in bass and upper-mids, leads to a sense of tactility, punchiness, and presence, but hardly sounds withdrawn in any part of the FR - instead, the somewhat downsloping tonality just leads the headphone to have a slightly richer timbre and be more forgiving of older recordings.

    Let's talk about timbre. As many of you know, I care a great deal about this. To my ears, the 650 has the best timbre I've ever heard: balanced, natural, and just ever-so slightly on the grainy side. The timbre of something like an Auteur is also excellent, but I find that the length of decay and perhaps some properties of the driver lead it to homogenize many timbral elements in the mid-range, leading to a lack of perceived vibrancy and a sense that all the timbres of mid-range instruments sound more similar than distinct. Gen G is more on the "smoother" side, but somehow it does this while maintaining the sense of texture of different mid-range instruments. The distinctive, individual textures of violins, oboes, and human voices are rendered more distinctly and individually by Gen G than by either 650 or Auteur, and it does this while having a timbre which lacks the slight grain of the 650. In fact, it's hard to write about this headphone's timbre precisely because it seems to impose so little on the music, instead letting individual elements of the track come through.

    Gen G Sonics - Other Technicalities
    I think timbre and tonality are the two most crucial elements for me. For those alone, the Genesis is worth its asking price. But it also has technicalities that rival the very best of the best. For one, the separation, clarity, and layering all struck me as a notable step up from the Auteur, likely either at or just below the level of something like a Verite. Each instrument is given room to breathe; however, this is not an especially massive or panaromic soundstage like the Verite's. Instead, the staging is more focused, like it is on the 650 (though deepened quite a bit), but all its tendencies toward congestion suddenly disappear. Gen G is confident and surefooted in its presentation.

    Dynamics are also top-tier: the macrodynamics, particularly in the bass, are better than anything I've ever heard (including the Focal Clear), and the microdynamics, while lagging somewhat behind, are more than enough to keep one engaged in the music, and to my ears they best favorites like the Auteur and 650. In fact, this headphone in general, despite its downsloping tonality and excellent timbre, does have a bit of that "hi-fi" sound, just in the sense that the driver sounds supremely capable, with a great sense of speed and extreme frequency response. This will be agreeable to most, I think, but some may still prefer the 650's bowed extreme frequency response and slower, potentially more "organic" sound. To me, though, the 650 sounds somewhat boring and dull compared to this.

    The transient performance of this headphone is also worth discussing. Headphones often mess this up, either overshooting transients and giving them a sense of artificial edginess or rounding out the initial attack so much that nothing really "hits" you. The Genesis strikes a middle path. It has a great sense of speed that lags to my ears only slightly behind the Verite, but its transients are also just a bit rounded at the edges. Decay is present but well-controlled in a way that puts something like the Auteur to shame, which has lengthy decay but often feels a little too "wet" and uncontrolled in how it is delineated.

    Let's get to one area of relative weakness: raw detail retrieval. To my ears, these are only a tad more detailed than a 650. However, they are -much- more clear and technically proficient in all other regards. As a result, this doesn't really bother me at all! In fact, despite the relatively modest detail retrieval capacities of this headphone, I think that their tonal, timbral, dynamic, transient, and layering capacities easily put this at a TotL level. If Ev and Tommy were out for money, they could have priced this at around $2500 dollars and I think it would merit that price in this market. But it's $700. That's crazy.

    Spider Chart
    Finally, it's time for a spider chart. I'll get to Gen P in a bit. For now, feel free to ask questions, if any of this is unclear. I think all the other terms are fairly clear in this graph, but let me describe vibrancy, which has perplexed some people: by it, I mean a drivers tendency to allow distinct timbres to come through. It is the opposite of homogenization: if a sound is homogenized, everything will sound timbrally similar, whereas if a sound is vibrant, the distinctive sound of instruments will be more emphasized. To my ears, Gen G does this better than the Verite, Auteur, and 650, though these are all excellent at this besides the Auteur.

    Finally, take this with a grain of salt: I haven't heard some of these headphones (most notably the Verite) recently, and I'm not sure how much they would scale with a better chain. As a result, I might be underestimating their capacities.


    Screen Shot 2021-04-20 at 3.33.49 PM.png
     
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  2. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    Modifications for Gen G
    Each headphone comes with vent plugs. Ev has mentioned the vent plugs can be used to tune decay in upper bass/low mid area. While I'm sure this is what shows up on the CSD's, it also has a larger effect on my perception of the sound. Adding Vent Plugs brings the Genesis much closer to something like the Auteur in general presentation, with a level of bloom and wetness throughout the mids that is quite reminiscent of the ZMF sound. It does this while retaining its superior clarity to the Auteur and sense of dynamics, though.

    Meanwhile, with the plugs out, you get a presentation that is more between Sennheiser and Focal: things are played with more of a "clean, straight-lines" approach, with decay much better delineated and controlled but with a loss of some romance, bloom, and lushness. For vocal music, I actually find that this headphone is very much worth trying with the plugs. Without the vent plugs, I would say that this headphone lacks just a bit of the magic of the 650 mid-range; with them, vocals linger just a bit longer in their decay and seem to have a better sense of microdetail and "plankton". In short, for all future users, I'd recommend trying out both. They yield fairly different sounds, with different presentations that are probably also better fitted to different amps.

    In the back of each grill, there are two cotton rolls on the side. The shorter one can be swapped for a longer one that comes packaged with the headphone. By swapping in a longer piece of cotton for the shorter one, one can bring the upper-mids up significantly. This mod gives the headphone a bit more energy and vocal presence, and also tends to change the transient behavior somewhat, making leading edge notes a bit more apparent. I like this mod, and it is easily reversible.

    Gen G comes with optional "flat pads", or pancake pads. These pads make the overall frequency response somewhat less downward sloping and bring up the upper-mids, and they also smooth the transient behavior somewhat, blunting and rounding the edges of attacks just slightly. These are worth trying if you think the headphone is just too dark.

    Modifications for Gen P
    You can place a piece of electric tape over a small hole under the outside grill to significantly change the sound. Generally speaking, this mod evens out the frequency response a bit, brings upper-mids up and results in a perception of tighter, more controlled bass and more truncated decay. This gives the sound a more "focused", "damped" character, though it can occasionally sound too aggressive to me. You can experiment with tape of varying density, as well as placing a pinhole in the tape, to get something "in between" the electric tape mod and just leaving this vent open.
     
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  3. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    Thanks for your thoughts @dematted ! I just wanted to clarify some points regarding the tweaks to your pair from stock config for those who aren't on the ETA Discord.

    The vent plugs are a configurable feature by design. GenG comes with 3 installed per cup (and several that you can add on your own if desired). They show no measurable difference between 3 installed and all removed, but to my ears the vent plugs slightly increase decay in the upper bass / lower mid area which is nice for harsh recordings I often listen to. Given the consistent private (and now public) feedback we've gotten from other reviewers who all preferred no plugs installed, we might start shipping them that way (though there will still be some included for those who want to test out the effect).

    The other tweak to Dematted's pair also uses included tuning materials that ship with every pair of GenG - extra cotton rolls for the rear of the driver beyond the ones already installed by me during assembly. More coverage on the back gives you slightly more forward upper mids and a sharper transient behavior. Just don't cover the whole back or you'll lose all your bottom end!

    As a general statement, I wholeheartedly support experimentation with the plugs even without any guidance, but anything involving the 'softer' materials (foam, cotton, etc) I'd prefer to consult tweaks via DM or on Discord like I did with dematted just because a few aspects can be fickle or fragile.

    At the end of the day the headphones are designed to be highly configurable with reversible and simple tweaks in terms of tuning (thanks to the unibody design, no screws or adhesive required) - I've tested several hundred configurations and can help anyone make some goal-oriented changes to tailor the sound to preference like dematted and I did together on the discord. Surprisingly, most of these tweaks actually don't even make a measurable FR difference beyond 1-2dB in certain parts of the spectrum. I'll be curious to see CSDs and distortion measurements with or without tweaks.
     
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  4. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    Responding to @Ksorota question from the loaner signup thread about plugs and cotton config. Plugs are on the shells, cotton behind the driver. Here's what I was doing for left channel (sorry for my botched image overlaying skills). I'm shipping without plugs pre-installed now but for reference:

    guideleft.PNG

    Mirrored for R channel -

    guidestockR.PNG

    Here's Dematted's preferred config:

    dematttedcup.PNG
     
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  5. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    Gen P Impressions and Comparison to Gen G

    At first, I was not particularly impressed by the Gen P. Bass sounded bloated and ill-controlled, the overall sound lacked focus, snap, and verve, and there was something of a haze overlaying each individual instrument. That was when it was plugged into the 4.5 ohm output of my Elekit TU-8800. When I instead plugged it into the solid state head-amp of my Soekris 2541, most of these problems disappeared: bass sounded much better controlled, the sound came more into focus, and for the most part, the haze disappeared. It is with this low impedance amplifier in mind that I'll be primarily reviewing the Gen P - if your amp has an impedance above 1-2, I would recommend going with the Gen G.

    Now, the Gen G and Gen P are in the same "family" of headphones. Think of them like the 600 or 650, or, a bit more accurately, like the Aeolus and the Verite. Like the Aeolus and the Verite, the entry-level model is eclipsed in most technicalities by its big brother: The Gen G is just more clear, more detailed, better extended at both top and bottom, and generally has better dynamics. But this isn't to say that you should get the Gen G. Although it is, technically speaking, a superior headphone, the Gen P does have some things going for it as well, and has a few qualities that may draw some to it over its more expensive brother.

    For one, the Gen P has a markedly different timbre than the Gen G. While the Gen G has a very smooth timbre, markedly smoother than the 650, the Gen P's timbre is, in contrast, just a touch driver than the 650. It has more of the sound of a traditional, dynamic driver headphone, and as a result, it can sometimes sound more textured, more gravelly, and less "smoothed over". Additionally, the Gen P has a uniquely vibrant, flavorful tonality, with a bump in both the mid-bass and the middle to upper-mids that imparts a sense of immediacy and punch to the sound.

    Its lack of extreme frequency response dovetails nicely with this, leading to a sound with narrower bandwidth but increased intensity. Music sounds more visceral and "in-your-head", and mid-range instruments are presented in a more forward manner. However, because of the lack of top-end air and overall detail, they do seem to lack some refinement and nuance. It more than makes up for this, though, in its lack of homogenization: even compared to the Gen G, the Gen P seems to do better at presenting distinct mid-range timbres, and has a slightly more vibrant, energetic presentation.

    I think that the technicalities of this headphone are about up there with something like the Auteur, but it doesn't have the TotL dynamics, speed, and clarity of the Gen G. The biggest weakness of this headphone has to do simply, I think, with its lack of overall clarity and control: there is a very slight haze still overlaying the sound even on my lower impedance amp, and there is a bit of sloppiness in the handling of decay that the more proficient Gen G simply does not have. I think that in a fair market, this headphone would sell for somewhere around $1200, but it is instead going for $600. This is a great deal, though I think for most people, it will be worth going for the only slightly more expensive Gen G. Which one you go for should depend on three factors, I think:

    1. The Quality of your Chain. Gen P sounds much better on modest rigs. While the Gen G takes an excellent, higher output impedance amplifier to really "Scale up", the Gen P sounds pretty damn good out of the headphone out of my macbook air. I attribute this to its lower impedance.

    2. The Output impedance of your amp. If your amp has an output impedance above 1-2, go for the Gen G. Gen P does not sound good on higher impedance amps.

    2. Your desire for TotL technicalities and the other differences between the two headphones. If the Gen P sounds more appealing to you, find an amp that suits it. I think that a Jotunheim 2, Gen P, and Geshelli dac combo would be a combo that punches well above its price point and will likely get you to around 80-90% of Gen G + an expensive tube amp.
     
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  6. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    This is how I think of GenP: if the HD600 is a snare drum, GenP is a floor tom. Big floor tom's got less grain and texture up top, but nice sustain and body with a lower focus in the FR (midbass boost a little lower, upper mid push slightly lower too compared to a 600 series) and a good bit cleaner in the bottom half. I find the timbre between GenP and HD600 more alike than GenG and HD600 for example.

    GenP sounds more like my speaker rig than GenG, which is more linear and extended and a bit more 'serious'.

    To me, GenP is the ultimate 'fun' headphone for those without dedicated external audio electronics (DACs, amps, etc). I have had several non-audiophile friends prefer the GenP. I wouldn't use them with a tube amp or warmer chain. I think it'll be a hit with new kids on the block who can justify a $600 headphone with a laptop/phone/tablet more than they can justify $600 in a DAC or amp (which beginners often don't see the point of initially).

    For those who do have robust systems, I can see an amp like the 3F amorphous being the ideal pairing for them. And an airier, pacier source. They sound great with my turntable setup with a slightly lean MC cart and SS phono.

    GenP does not have a sushi mod, no vent plugs, and no cotton pieces for driver vents. It's a more minimalist approach. The driver is completely naked (stock driver vent paper torn off). The shells are otherwise the same. We can produce either model in either finish (transparent/white and grey/carbon-fiber core PETG)
     
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  7. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    Thanks for sharing your opinion, @dematted. You raised my bar substantially before I get my hands on G&P. If my comments sound more negative than they deserve, then it's all attributable to you! Hahaha, 80% joke.

    I am personally a little surprised with the ways you described P. When I had Aurorus in the house, peerless HPD drivers sounded quite resolving to my ears. It's very possible Evan and Tommy wanted to pull something different from what they had with G. Also like you said it could be gears, too. I will figure out what's going on when they show up in the house.

    At the moment I have no idea which one I will like better (prediction varies depending on whose preference is more concordant to mine), but we will see.
     
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  8. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    Following up on @dematted mods once more (this time with graphs)... I think this is incredibly intriguing. I'm on MiniDSP EARS with some version of the SBAF comp curve (3.2, 3.1? not sure), haven't changed it once since I first set it up.

    Yellow is 'stock', purple is dematted's preferred recipe. They do sound fairly different.

    upload_2021-4-22_19-23-33.png

    now zooming in on the Y-axis:

    upload_2021-4-22_19-23-1.png

    This shift isn't far beyond what I'd consider possible positioning error/shift on EARS.

    I'm a bit fascinated by the fact that the measurable difference here is so small... it's a great anecdote for how wide subjective perception can vary despite very little measurable tonal deviation. Explorations into CSDs, burst response, and distortion should be very enlightening.
     
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  9. Jh4db536

    Jh4db536 Friend

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    Thank you for making this loaner possible. I think it's really cool how it drops onto a HD6xx frame

    I believe both Gen G & P seem to prefer a neutral and linear or even bright chain. I tried Gen P out of my Apple Dongle, first with my S20 as a source and then my laptop. Apple dongle from phone was obviously very underpowered and the bass quality was not good. Both of these need a proper headphone amp to sound as intended.

    I spent most the loaner period with Gen G (300 ohm) as my main amp is 8Ohm Output and it had more bloom than i was comfortable with. At the end, i preferred both Gen G and P out of a low Z amp like my AMB M3 (8610's) that i found in my parents house. An amp with control resulted in what i believe to be an even FR and no bloom (these drivers need control).

    Pad changes make huge differences in the sound. There are lots of vents to cover or open so it's very tunable without messing up the FR that much.

    I was able to keep Genesis on my head for 8+hrs so that's an accomplishment i should note as well.

    GenG

    Far more technical than GenP. With my ECMKIV amp, which is tuned more specifically for Horns/H600 the only configuration i only liked GenG with this chain using 1) Flat Pads and 2) Symmetrical cotton. Apparently that configuration measures a very flat FR which seems close to my (p)reference. GenG very in your face sounding in this configuration. I used my most linear sounding tubes and reconfigured a few things in the amp to cut the H2 down, but this is not good synergy IMO.

    Later on with the AMB M3 amp and its kinda bass lite chain in my mind, i was able to put it back to default configuration (thick pads and asymmetrical cotton). It is much more open, spacious, reverby, even sounding. The bass is well controlled, and the headphone itself adds all the H2 to sound nice.

    This headphone sounds like a black screen HD600 with a lot more bass extension, fullness, no peak. I think the mids are drier than HD600's, but otherwise i really enjoyed this with Electronica genre music. Classical might do well too.

    GenP

    They sound very similar. Compared to GenG is more wall of sound and lower level of technicalities. It seems to be less finicky with amps (low OI) and has a more even FR in its default form.

    The good news is that i believe it is easy and won't break the bank to find a synergistic chain for genesis.
     
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  10. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    Thanks for your impressions, @Jh4db536. It's interesting that we had such different experiences with these headphones. I wanted to respond to a couple of the items you noted. I think there's some points of concurrence between our listening experience, but there are also areas where I don't quite understand where you're coming from.

    I agree with this for the most part. Gen G and Gen P are both certainly on the warmer side, and I also find that they benefit from a chain which is on the leaner side. However, I was fairly surprised at how excellent the Gen G sounded out of my Soekris 2541 headamp - it's true that certain things like treble timbre, microdynamics, and staging suffered, but the sound as a whole was still extremely cohesive, engaging, and well-controlled.

    This is interesting to me. It might be a difference in the topology of our amps, but on the Elekit TU-8800's "Ultralinear" mode, I found that there was generally a fairly small difference in the sound coming from different output impedances. From a higher z, it was just a bit more bloomy, but this was mostly evident in slightly longer decay and more rounded transients. The Low-Z sounded a bit more like it played it "straight". However, this was a very subtle, rather than a drastic effect for me.

    Also, the drivers don't seem innately particularly bloomy for me, especially once you remove the vent plugs. For example, on my Soekris 2541 headphone out and the plugs removed, I hear almost no wetness, verb, or bloom. In fact, it can sound a little harsh at times! This doesn't strike me as the type of driver you have to "tame" with an amp that has an excellent sense of grippiness and control.

    I agree that this headphone shares some similarities with the HD600, but for the most part, I don't really agree that the mids are "drier". The downsloping tonality imparts a richness to the mids (though not a "wetness", or "bloom") that makes them fairly full-bodied. The mids are very textured, but I don't hear them as being "dry" at all. Gen P sounds slightly drier to me in the mids, which probably has to do with the peerless driver (Since it in many respects is even warmer tonally).

    Are you saying that the Gen P is less finicky with amps and has a more neutral FR? If so, I disagree. I heard the Gen P as having more elevated mid-bass and upper-mids, as well as a depressed air region, giving it -less- of a neutral sound than Gen G. And it seems, if anything, more amp-picky: put it on anything high oi and it has an enormous amount of bass bloat.

    Regardless, it was good to hear someone else's impressions on these headphones. I'm sure that the differences in what we're hearing can be largely attributed to our different chains, as well as, of course, our listening preferences.
     
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  11. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    Dematted, I love you, and it's fun to watch you put the smackdown on somebody. But different ears, different chains, everyone has their own opinions and everyone hears the same thing differently.

    I love that you can dissect someone so thoroughly and convincingly (and again, it's fun to read), but I believe this dude when he says he hears what he hears. Maybe he hasn't heard as many things as you, or maybe he has and he just heard them differently. Either way, I don't think he's wrong, it's just a different opinion, different chain, probably different music, etc.
     
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  12. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    Thanks @Erroneous. My intention really wasn't to "put the smackdown" on anyone, but mark points of agreement and disagreement - I sincerely apologize if I came across as harsh in that post. I have no doubt that they are honestly reporting what they're hearing! I just felt like I wanted to mark where (and why) I disagreed with some of what was there. Sharing these impressions are a difficult thing, because on the one hand, you can "get it right" (or wrong) to some significant extent, but there's also something irreducibly subjective and personal about our reports of our auditory experiences. I may have failed to adequately respect the latter there.
     
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  13. Friday

    Friday Friend

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    I didn't see it as a smackdown and it was quite civil. I think these "disagreements" are a good thing going forward cos they give us a better idea of each reviewer's tastes and help with triangulating future reviews. Kinda like how we have a good idea of a product once we know that Hands loves it and jexby hates it.
     
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  14. gaspasser

    gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    E2E94EA1-8706-4299-B433-9DD650282801.jpeg

    Initial Impressions

    I received Genesis G(raphene) over a week ago and used them exclusively with a Hart Audio cable (great cable btw). These thoughts took a little while because I don’t have a ton of listening time lately and they are uniquely tunable with little rubber plugs and cotton rolls that are easily adjusted. I needed to experiment a little to get a better handle on the sound. My current preference as of last night is no plugs and symmetrical cotton rolls (thanks @dematted).

    My listening is exclusively via Zampotech SW51+ and Bachelor, both with stock tubes (preferred these after rolling a few).


    Sources run the gamut from vinyl to Pi2AES/Bifrost2 with Roon/Qobuz or Spotify (gasp).


    These headphones are meant to be tunable and it is very easy to make changes. Ev and Tommy are easily approachable and available to discuss suggestions and recommendations. The overall sound of this headphone is very similar to ESX900 which I love, but is on a spectrum between it and HD650. When I first listened to Genesis, I was startled at the bass response. Initially, bass instruments really jump out because we are not used to hearing it in a headphone. I haven’t heard a dynamic headphone with bass like this except ESX900. It is very speaker-like in that sense. Treble seems like listening to quality speakers a little off axis. Then your brain gets used to it and you can hear how all instruments are raised and lowered purposefully in mixes. This is consistent across all sources and amps I tried.

    The downsloping frequency response is something I really like and makes for a fatigue-free listening experience. The tweakability allows for adapting the headphone for preferences and systems synergy to an extent. GenG easily works well with Zampotech’s amps and my various sources.

    I listen to various styles of music and found Genesis easily handled anything I played. This is real deal all-rounder headphone.


    The bass is killer with all the resolution one could ever want down low. There is something in Ev’s tuning that makes Genesis and ESX900 sound really big. The images are larger but the experience is not weirdly diffuse like HD800. I think it is more along the lines of listening outside the sweet spot with speakers. It sounds clear and detailed. Genesis doesn’t have the same level of reverb and decay trails like ESX900 but it’s definitely there. Ev’s headphones are the first ones that I listen to and don’t worry over imaging, headphone weight, or audiophile stuff. I stay up too late listening and I’m happy about that.

    This headphone allows the listener to enjoy all forms of music from poorly mastered pop to audiophile fancy stuff. This will throw some people for a loop. You no longer need a headphone that specializes in a particular genre unless you just want to collect a bunch.


    The quality of SW51+ (or Bachelor) and Genesis G together is crazy for such a modest outlay. I prefer this easily to something like a previously favorite combo of mine: Aficionado and Verite.


    I think this headphone will be met with universal acclaim except for the minority of people that exclusively enjoy facetweeters like Utopia or HD800 on very dry tube amps. I’m kidding, I’m sure there are perfectly cool people that will say it’s too warm or whatever. I just ask to give it a few minutes and try to adjust the cotton or pull the vent plugs out.

    ETA knows what they are doing. Their Discord is a very smart hangout/marketing tool. I look forward to seeing/hearing their next projects. Ev, Tommy and Alex are friendly, approachable, normal people. I find the quality of the 3DP to be very high, there isn’t anything rushed or cheap in their design. Well done yet again!

    566D99DA-CA08-4B1C-BE90-41300A8FD183.jpeg
     
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    Last edited: Apr 28, 2021
  15. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

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    Here are some thoughts with the GenP. GenG thoughts will be separate as I'm going to try the included tuning kit. Borrowed a GenG and GenP yesterday evening and have them until Sat morning. I don't think they have been tuned or adjusted for but I'm not 100% sure

    Please excuse the somewhat rushed listening experience here as well (maybe 4 hours total) - I haven't had as much listening time as expected and both headphones will need to be returned in a day and a half. Hence, anything not posted about in more detail or left off is not a SBAF-style "read between the lines criticism" but rather "not enough time to properly explore".

    Also note that I read as little as possible of this thread before hand to have a "cleaner slate" going in so apologies if I repeat anything or am not sure about anything already answered above, etc.
    --------
    TLDR Version - A great headphone for what looks like $750ish out the door. Noticeable bass quality and quantity. Good amount of the ETA House sound / sauce. GenG seems more technically adept but it's not a HUGE difference. Instead, so far, think of how most ZMF headphones aren't that far apart technically, they have noticibly different sound signatures, and the ZMF sauce is very present on all their models.

    There are a lot of things I like about this headphone and only 2 real dislikes. The first and bigger one is really just personal preference - 1) FR tuning (I want less bass and a few other minor tweaks) [[EDIT - this will change a lot depending on the Zout of the amp / device.]] and 2) Small dome over the venue sound and instrument placement seems a bit congested, but not in the way that many other products typically sound compressed, it's hard for me to describe. Compressed sound feel is slightly amplified by the somewhat wall of sound presentation.
    --------
    SETUP:
    - I actually like the GenP better out of Yggdrasil A2 > Vali2+ rather than either Yggdrasil or Holo Spring 2 > Stellaris. Haven't tried with EC AF or Liquid Crimson yet and may not have time. Of course, the Vali2+ isn't as "technically adept" or whatever, but there seems to be a nice synergy here. Somehow the GenP just sounds more lively.

    - Rolling cables did not make as big of a difference as I expected (given that this is a low Z headphone). However, yes, it did make a bigger difference than on my other HP.

    GENERAL SOUND:
    -
    Both have what sound like a FR with the bass being the highest point and a gradual downwards slope towards 20k. Probably a small 1-2dB bump here or there along the way. If I could have a pair tuned for me, I would keep this same shape, but just make the starting peak a little lower and maybe the final point a little higher.

    - I have informally and briefly heard other stuff by Tommytakis and E_Schaff in the past at meets, mini-meets, and the like. Even with just this brief listening experience, their house sound / secret sauce I heard in their past stuff is very immediately apparent here.

    Stuff I can't properly describe:
    - IDK how to describe it but overall it's not so much really "full" per se but it seems to be a rich sound (for reference I think my old LCD-3 gave a very full sound but it was more of a dry instead of a rich sound)
    - Also don't know how to say this properly, but the sound is a very well "blended". Not in a way where the transients are slow or overly rounded, b/c instruments are compressed together on the stage, or anything being otherwise poorly defined. And not necessarily meaning smooth where bass to mids to highs transitions are ambiguous.

    TRAITS:

    - Bass - The headphone really shines here. There is more than I generally prefer, and I would want it toned down if I bought one but without removing the ETA house sound / general bass boost. Probably among the best bass quality, articulation, and overall technical performance I've gotten out of a headphone, including planars. Also, good heft and slam for a headphone. Feels nice and full in the way a bigger sub does - at least as much as a headphone can feel like a sub. Lastly, I see several people refer to Daft Punk Doin It Right on SBAF - the drops at 2:36 and 2:46 are amongst the top 3 I've gotten out of any headphone, except I'm only using a Vali 2+ here and was using TOTL type amps with planars the other 2 times.
    [[EDIT: This headphone has very low impedance, probably less than most BA IEMs even (but not lower sensitivity than a BA IEM). Output impedance on your device probably needs to be under 1-1.5ohm or bass will be boosted like I mention above. Comments regarding bass quality stand though at <1ohm Zout.]]
    - Mids - Feel somewhat recessed, not just in FR, but like they're pushed back a little bit on the stage too. Pretty smooth though. Well refined.
    - Highs - No high end sizzle or snap. Cymbals don't feel like they ring properly. Also kills a tiny bit of the color on some more acoustic instruments (not in the way a NOS DAC might though). Otherwise pretty good. Nothing piercing or annoying. No "overly boosted highs". No sibilance. Well controlled.

    - Timbre - Very good most of the time, better than I've heard on many headphones.
    - Coloration - I don't know how to describe it though, it was like everything was slightly colored or tinged. I.e. I have a very clear and clean image with this but I look at it with a slightly colored lens where as many others may not have as good image quality but I get to see the lesser quality image with the naked eye. Note that this is not necessarily a good or bad thing - for example, I feel like most ZMFs with most woods have the same thing going on.
    - Macro - Strong
    - Micro - Good, but it's really hard for me to pick out any micro if that makes sense. I can't hear the micro changes or the plankton in say the way a string vibrates unless I play a less busy song (think singer + guitar, solo acoustic instrument, etc.) I suspect it would be easier to hear more if the stage was more open and the presentation was a little less wall of sound. w/ regards to highs not ringing properly, I think this also impacts micro in the highs. On the flip side the bass has good micro, something you don't hear or get often.
    - Resolution - similar to the micro and plankton - it's good, but hard to pick out. Once again, I can pick more out with a less busy song, so I know the performance is actually there.
    - Transients - Edges were somewhat rounded, not in a good or bad way. Maybe a 4-5/10 speed.
    - PRaT - Good.
    - Stage - I don't want to say the stage is necessarily compressed (Vali2+'s small stage was not the limiting factor here, I felt the same with the Stellaris). I guess it's more like the venue has a small dome around the whole thing. Instruments are closer together on a small stage. If I were to draw circles for an orchestra showing where instruments are the lines would be a little blurry and the circles would overlap sometimes.

    Lastly, it's almost 4AM now. If this is not coherent or I mis-communicate something I will make edits.
     
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  16. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    Thanks for your impressions @penguins . Sorry GenP didn't jive for you tonally. They are $600. They sound best with a lean chain or SS amp with close to 0 OI. With even a few ohms of output impedance, they can get kind of lewse and beefed down low, which might have something to do with your experience. On Vali 2 they sould have sounded a bit better on low gain. Odd request, but if you get a chance to try them direct from a phone or laptop, might be worth a shot :)

    I hope with the extra configurability of GenG you can have a better experience with the caliber of gear you have on hand! They'll be less reactive to impedance too.
     
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  17. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    ETA Takes on ZMF
    Round 1: ETA Genesis vs. ZMF Aeolus Sapele
    I'm aware, of course, that I've already written a fairly detailed review of this product. I like it, and think its great. But the ultimate test of a headphone is how well it stands against its competitors. The logical competitors of the ETA Genesis, at least for me, are the ZMF Aeolus and ZMF Verite. Both of these are downsloping headphones with excellent timbre that are made for a niche enthusiast market. Luckily enough for me, I've managed to get my hands on both of these headphones, one courtesy of a loaner from @Vtory, the other from a trade with @Erroneous. It's now time to see how the Genesis fares against one of SBAF's favorite brands.

    The Method
    I have both of these headphones on what I consider to be a synergistic chain: SW51+ with stock tubes, Soekris 2541, and pi2aes. I used a hart cable with each, playing out of low-gain on the SW51+. With the Aeolus, I used universe suede perforated pads. With the Gen G, I used stock pads, symmetrical cotton, and no vent plugs. I made my comparisons by listening to a bevy of similar music with one headphone (60s classic rock, say), then trying out the same or similar music with the other headphone and taking mental notes along the way. Throughout, I tried to enjoy each headphone for what it did rather than being too harsh for what it did not.

    The comparison will be broken up into three sections: "Technical Performance", "Tonality and Timbre", and lastly, "General Presentation". I'll conclude with a spider chart. Cheers!

    Technical Performance

    The Gen G, though in many respects a technically proficient headphone, is not the kind of headphone that "wows" with its technicalities, placing them front and center. As a result, I was somewhat surprised to find, upon switching to the Aeolus, that I felt as if there was a haze that had imposed itself upon the sound. It was difficult to locate the exact source of this at times, but I take it to be mainly a sum-of-many-effects sort of thing: transients were dulled at the edges, images were somewhat rounded and fuzzy, and the bass sounded somewhat bloated and bloomy. At the same time, the stage was blown up, giving it more of a diffusive presentation than the Gen G, but also less of a focused, exacting one. This was undoubtedly a more romantic presentation, though it is not one that really could trade blows with the Gen G.

    The areas that suffered the most, I think, on the Aeolus were transients and microdynamics. On the Aeolus, Transients and leading edges have a softness to them which, while leading to a very fatigue-free sound, also contributed to an overall mushiness that stood in stark contrast to the Gen G's more sharp, exacting presentation. The Gen G's driver felt, in general, to be more "alive" and more capable, with bass hitting harder and areas of dynamic contrast much more readily highlighted. Individual timbral elements also seemed markedly less homogenized and "Colored" than they were on the Aeolus, which often had a tendency to impose a "softness" on everything.

    In most technicalities, then, the Gen G roundly trounced the Aeolus. In both large scale and small scale dynamics, the Gen G presented a sound that was punchier, more nuanced, and more exacting. Although having a smaller soundstage and layering that is not significantly better, the combination of image sharpness and transient integrity led to a better sense of clarity. The lack of timbral homogenization contributed to a better sense of detail retrieval, especially in the mid-range. Finally, the bass slammed harder, was better controlled, and had more sense of pitch differentiation. The Gen G wins this one handily.

    Tonality and Timbre

    This is where things get somewhat trickier. Both of these headphones have a broadly similar downsloping tonality. The Gen G, however, has better bass extension, more presence in the middle-to-upper mids, less of a bump around the mid-bass region, and what sounds like a more linear treble response. The Aeolus, by contrast, has a more peaky, but also somewhat more "Flairful" treble response, a dip in the upper-mids that leads to a loss of immediacy but an increase in space, and a bass response that feels less neutral but also occasionally does more to flatter older recordings. It also has, to my ears, more mid and upper treble than the Gen G, which contributes to a greater sense of air.

    The Gen G's tonality leads vocals and mid-range instruments to be projected much further forward in the mix than on the Aeolus, where the mid-range, especially the upper end, feels comparatively distant and recessed. Occasionally, this can lead the Gen G to sound just a tad honky in the mid-range and somewhat congested, but it is, at least for me, more than made up for by the increased sense of presence and bite to mid-range instruments.

    The timbre of each of these headphones is excellent, but they are also quite different. Because of the Aeolus' design, there is a good deal of resonance and cup play, and the timbre as a whole feels wetter, bloomier, and more reverby. The Gen G plays things more straight-up: it has a timbre that is subjectively rougher and drier sounding, but it also tends to reveal more texture in instruments. To me, the Gen G's timbre sounds more "true-to-life": it has a smoothness throughout the frequency response but sounds much less "comissive" than that of the Aeolus, which has an enchanting but somewhat colored timbre which can tend to smooth, soften, and (for me) artificially emphasize decay.

    Though I markedly prefer Gen G's tonality and timbre, and think that in some sense they are simply -better-, I can see others preferring the Aeolus.

    General Presentation
    For me, the Genesis is a notably more engaging, punchy, and focused sounding headphone. It is harder to listen to this while relaxing. The Aeolus has a more relaxed, enveloping, and smooth sound, and though it strikes me as being a patently inferior headphone to the Genesis G, I can see wanting it as a complement or even preferring it. Indeed, although the Genesis is, overall, a somewhat darker headphone in the treble, I’ve found that its general presentation leads it to be markedly more fatiguing, while the Aeolus is the perfect headphone for just relaxing and bobbing one’s head. Despite the Gen G's more downsloping tonality, the Aeolus is also the more forgiving headphone, I've found, perhaps because the Gen G is simply, in respect to its transients and timbre, the more "honest" headphone. To conclude my personal verdict: I like both of these headphones, but could not live with the Aeolus as my only headphone. I could live with the Gen G as my only headphone. As a result, I think the Gen G is, in most respects, the superior headphone.

    Spider Chart

    Screen Shot 2021-04-30 at 2.46.01 PM.png
     
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  18. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

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    Per recommendation of @E_Schaff - I tried an ipad (purchased 2019 if it makes a difference), player (Shanling M0), and Vali2+ low gain (Schiit specs lists 0.4ohm for low gain vs 1.8ohm for high gain) during lunch today.

    HUGE difference. I didn't expect the impedance of a headphone to be this low (I'm guessing it's probably under 5-10ohm if it reacted this much to a ~1ohm change in the Zout. Note that this is lower than many BA IEMs). In other words, a complete oversight on my part. FWIW when I first listened on Stellaris I did try switching between SE Low (8ohm IIRC) and High (120ohm) Zout but it didn't make much of a difference so I wrote it off afterwards and didn't try on Vali2+. In conclusion, for most users, the Zout of the device probably needs to be <1-1.5ohm unless you want all of the bass mentioned above.

    With both the ipad and the M0, the mids were more distant than yesterday. Also - the ipad doesn't do this headphone justice IMO. It doesn't change the sound in the same way, but it was a almost at the level of downgrade as plugging the Senn 600 series into an ipad or cell phone and complaining "why doesn't this sound better than my $20 Senn headphone"

    Bass and tonality are way closer to "even". Quality is still there but I have to pick it out now. Wall of sound feeling is significantly less but it still has a bit of that sound (I know it's not just my Yggdrasil b/c most anything else out of Yggdrasil > Vali2+ doesn't do this). Still sounds like it has a gradually downward sloping FR response but much closer to what I initially wanted. The 2 bumps in the FR are a little more obvious now but still not 'big bumps" that would change the overall shape of the downward sloping FR - I hear one at 2kHz and the other at around 800 or 900Hzish?

    I can pick out micro and details more easily now but oddly, there seems to be less micro and details on the same 1-2 instrument tracks. Switched back to high gain with some volume matching by ear and I felt like I could hear a little more micro. The secret sauce is still pretty prominent here - in other words, the bass was a part of it, but not all of it.

    Most everything else still stands after ~1 very enjoyable hour of listening with these other devices.

    Edits made to above post as well for visibility.
     
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  19. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    @dematted Just out of curiosity. Can you repeat the comparison with the least optimal positioning of GenG? Discussion in the other thread (quotes below) look very interesting.

    The placement recommendation was a little opposite to my wearing habits (and I began to get worried for the very reason). I will eventually test multiple different placements during my evaluation both subjectively and objectively, but it will be very informative to know what would be the minimal gain to be expected at worst cases.

    Aeolus or ZMF in general wasn't particularly sensitive to placements if I recall correctly. At least not much so with Verite.
     
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  20. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    The symmetrical cotton like what's on @dematted 's pair should mitigate front and back positional shifts, though up and down may still have a noted effect.

    Edit - If you wanted to fit them oppositely using the stock asymmetrical cotton, you could simply swap the L and R cups in the headband to tailor the sweet spot for your preferred comfort.
     
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