ETA O2 Loaner Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by ChaChaRealSmooth, Mar 23, 2023.

  1. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF's Mr. Bean

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    *Considering that every single ETA thread for some reason is drawing drama, this will act as the official thread for loaner impressions and conducive discussion.

    ETA O2 Impressions

    PXL_20230324_001222453.jpg

    If you have had the chance to listen to a good unit of the old pre-fazor Audezes and wondered what it would sound like as a dynamic, look no further. The ETA O2 is in many ways a similar headphone: a rather interpretive listen, one that is somewhat unhinged and wholeheartedly unrefined energy (especially in the highs) but not in ways that are necessarily negative. If the Utopia (when driven by synergistic amps) is a posh, stuffy, properly-mannered suited up guy, the O2 is the borderline gangster who wore backwards hats back in the early 2000s and rode a skateboard while carrying around a boombox. There's room for both.

    Sonics

    I remember back with the start of ETA, I was having a talk with Evan about bass performance while he was developing the Genesis. Fast forward to the O2, and I have to say that the O2 has absolutely bombastic bass. The O2 has bass you can nearly feel down in your chest (not really, but the closest I've heard from any headphone). I'm not quite sure how it achieves this; it certainly doesn't have the impact and slam of something like the ZMF Atrium, and the pitch differentiation is just a smidge behind the Atrium, but the O2 does deep bass justice. It's what all those dumb-dumb EQ profiles for "bassheads" on the horrible early models of Beats wishes they could do.

    Compared to the Mini S, the O2's overall sound is more energetic and more "crispy." The transients are noticeably faster and hit a bit harder, but also are a touch more "square" as opposed to "rounded." It's also more resolving than the other Minis but a somewhat noticeable amount, although I still feel that it falls a bit short of the amount of plankton the HD600 can pull. The flip side to this is that with the O2, it's easier to hear the resolution it does pull whereas with the Hd600 you almost have to really listen for it because it's subtle (the HD600 is the a prime example of a headphone with great plankton and very little macrodetail).

    The weak link in the O2 is the highs. There's no way around it; this is the area where its unrefined energy manifests itself the most. This is more bothersome in some songs moreso than others; although to be fair to ETA, this is a thing with most headphones and their presentations anyhow.

    In short, it retains some of the sound of the Mini S, has more resolution, is more aggressive, and isn't as smooth in the highs. However the bass performance is utterly bonkers.

    Amp Pairings

    In general, I'd recommend something that emphasizes the strengths of the O2. Piety works fine, but I wouldn't use SW51 (the lows on SW51 are not very good and don't complement the O2 well). O2 doesn't need an uber amp to sound great, nor does it need very high power.

    Build Quality

    I really do have to bring this up; the area of concern that I had with the O2 is the outer mesh. If you poke at it with your finger, the mesh noticeably bends. However, I have spoken to @tommytakis and I have been reassured that it is quite the durable material; I would ask tour members to please try NOT to test ETA's durability claim but buyers can rest assured.

    Conclusion

    If I have to be really honest, I still like the Mini C the best. However the O2 brings some interesting things to the table and I hope to see ETA expand on the ideas used here.
     
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  2. wagyu

    wagyu New

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    As a O2 owner, I would have to agree it seems a little energetic in the air region. Otherwise the rest of the frequency response sounds pretty uncolored with very impressive bass extension.

    I find the comfort of the o2 to be fantastic. For my head, it has the perfect amount of clamp and is really lightweight. Personally, I am a big fan of the design language of the headphone. Some nitpicks I have is I wish the driver wiring was a more of a muted color and rear cover was a bit stiffer. The headband did squeak for the first couple of days but it seems to be worn in now. Overall the O2 has good build quality.

    Personally I am very interested to see the effects of padrolling on the O2.
     
  3. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    ETA O^2 store link. $600 (599)

    O^2 is described as using a “kinetic coupler” which appears to be a gasket between the driver and enclosure. Mini-c/s series does not have this. I wonder the effects. Decoupling from enclosure I guess would be to help with enclosure resonance. I wonder if Mini would benefit from the same or if its necessity for the more open and possibly lighter weight O^2.

    No surprise there as the headband is a copy of the old Sony studio series which were also supraaural. CD900ST was my portable for some years… But for those who might want a sexier headband I think these might fit in combination with this or any other Grado aftermarket style leather headband.

    I am excited for O^2. Its the style I was begging @E_Schaaf to make since (or before?) GenG launch. I wasnt around for the original Mini-open so missed out. O^2 supraaural looks better than I couldve imagined. GenG was kinda fugly but O^2 looks kinda perfect.

    I wouldnt expect 3DP PETG(?) to break unless it was thin but it looks like ETA intended some compliance in the grill so as not to be brittle. I have more faith in 3DP than Grado’s recent offerings of Hemp wood and Hemp wood composites which have seen a few catastrophic failures without a peep of assurance from Grado for those who expect to keep their headphones past warranty which is why I havent bought an RS2x. If O^2 grill does break past warranty I suspect ETA would print you a new one without much fuss.
     
  4. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    I wonder if circumarual pads would fit O^2. Kinda would cannibalize their Mini-c/s though so I will not say if I try circumaural pads during loaner. Are we allowed to take off the pads during loaner for such shenanigans? @tommytakis @E_Schaaf
     
  5. ColdsnapBry

    ColdsnapBry Almost "Made"

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    [​IMG]

    Thanks for 64randomnumbers for loaning me the O2.. twice. First time there was something wrong with the first two revisions that were sent. I think I got the second one and k4star got the first.

    My experience with ETA headphones are Gen G, Mini O1 300ohm, Mini O1 30ohm, Mini C, Mini S and now Mini O2. I currently own the O1 32ohm and it's one of my favorite headphones ever made really.

    Damn.. yea this headphone is interesting.. really interesting. It's awesome that ETA put some time into developing another on-ear headphone. I've gone back to on-ears that past few years, due to their clarity, transients, energy, air and natural head stage. There's not many on-ears that are utilizing a technical driver like the O1 and O2 - both really are a standout from other headphones on the market.

    So yea, the TPU around the driver does improve transients. The O2 is somehow even more clear than the O1. This sound is so clear that it will make every other headphone sound veiled. It's almost unnaturally clear, in just as bad of a way as it is good. With the O1 the driver transfers the energy to the enclosure or vibrates with the resistance of the enclosure, which creates this really great ear feel that I find so addicting with Koss/Grado. With the TPU you gain a bit of transients, but also lose that ear feel. It's still there, but not dialed up to 11 like the MO1 is.

    All in all the O2 is a more balanced headphone with the adjustments they have done. I prefer my O1, but I have a feeling people here will really like the O2.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2023
  6. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF's Mr. Bean

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    Oh don't get me wrong, I have faith in the material. I was trying to put myself in the shoes of the average consumer who may or may not know about this though. A person who knows nothing about this might feel this and think "man wtf is this?!"
     
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  7. tommytakis

    tommytakis MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    Just want to clarify that the grill is made of CF-TPU which is extremely flexible and durable. The body is made of CF-PC, which is one of the toughest materials we can use at the moment.

    pad rolling is okay, but we need to be careful when we put the pads back or you will get a steep bass roll-off. Please refer to this guide if you plan on swapping pads back and forth:
    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  8. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    I’ve had one of these on my desk for a while, and man I think ETA nailed it. I’ve heard the GenG (multiple revisions), Mini Open (with multiple ear pads), Mini C and Mini S. To me the O2 is like the Open and the GenG had a baby and I love it.

    I still miss the bass on the GenG. It was tactile and fluid and had slam but also endless amounts of texture. And then I loved the mids of the Mini O. And now I feel like I’m getting GenG bass with Mini O mids and highs, but the highs to me are more controlled and have energy but never cross into sibilant or harsh territory for my ears.

    Also this is hands down the most resolving ETA headphone of the ones I’ve tried. It effortlessly pulls out detail from even exceedingly modest sources.

    I’ve listened to speakers about 95% of the time I put on music for a while now. Truth be told I had lost a lot of interest in headphones in the last few months. The O2 has me going back to headphones more, I just want to listen to it as much as I can. I highly recommend giving it a try.
     
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  9. Ksorota

    Ksorota Friend

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    Today was the first day in about 4 days that I have listened to anything due to work and family fun times, but because of the pure pleasure I am experiencing I wanted to post a bit of an update.

    I was apart of a discord loaner and like @Merrick I was compelled to purchase the O2 since @E_Schaaf and @tommytakis have put together such a great product, and they were willing to allow me to keep them. This truly sounds like an evolved Genesis G, with much less thickness in the lows and better presentation of highs and air...plus it sounds good the way it is. The Genesis G gave me a sort of tuning nervosa at times, wondering how I could adjust/improve the sonic signature. With O2, Ev. has spent his countless hours of iterating and landed on the tuning which I really enjoy.

    I have been running them off of both the EC Black Widow and Magni Piety, but also have been taking them on walks and driving them straight off of my iphone or mojo 2 and I am continuously impressed by the spacious and detailed presentation of music. Resolution, particularly in the lower frequency range is what I believe is keeping me falling in love with these headphones. They present with such great control and texture that they do not seem like any other on-ear headphone I have heard. While they sound great out of each of the listed sources, the Mojo2/Piety combination is kind of perfect, and as such my desk setup has become much smaller.

    On ear headphones were never a love of mine, but these are less obvious. Yes they are on ear, but they are light and the pads are soft and so they just simply disappear on my head. These are extremely open sounding, with sound coming from the rear of the driver, but also from the pads as well. Easily some of the most open headphones I have heard.

    Build quality is great on the cups...the headband is forgettable, but light and easy to replace if necessary. I really look forward to the ETA version of a headband at some point but really its a minor gripe. I have not had a chance (or really cared) to do any pad swaps, just using the non-foam type that is shipping with the headphones now.

    My main comparison is a set of JAR660S headphones which have not had much head time since I received these around 3-weeks ago. I am going to reserve direct comparison for when I have some time to do so, but the ETA O2 does provide more of a experience, with greater amounts of goosebumps. The O2 is more of an engaging listen and is a more intimate (like being at a live show in the center of the crowd down near the stage) listen than the JAR660S, yet has surprising amounts of spatial cues that keep the listening interesting and forms those goosebumps.

    This is a quick review, and I hope to do a direct comparison with the JAR660S, but due to having fun listening, I am in no rush to do so.
     
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  10. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    I've found the Hiby RS2 is an excellent pairing for these, but honestly I've yet to hear a source that sounds bad.
     
  11. edd

    edd Almost "Made"

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    I picked up a pair of these and just wanted to leave a few non-sound comments in case anyone finds them useful (my ability to articulate what I hear is lacking.... but to give you an idea of what I'm into.. my daily driver these days is the Atrium, and I'm a fan of ZMF's stuff in general).

    I was somewhat hesitant to purchase these due to the on-ear fit. While I have some on-ears (Grado, PortaPro), they can get rather uncomfortable with prolonged use.. but these are the most comfortable on-ears I've ever had. Further, they're also quite comfortable to wear while I have my glasses on (I wear contacts during most of the day, but switch to plastic-rimmed glasses in the evening) since the pads don't press down on the arms & the pressure of the headband isn't high enough to uncomfortably mash down my ears onto them either. The oval shape of the earpads probably adds to the comfort (all my other on-ears have round pads). Speaking of earpads, I'm using the newer E+ pads, which are a softer foam than the F cush pads. And, of course, fit will vary based on your anatomy. I think my ears are fairly "normal"... they don't protrude particularly far & I don't think I've ever really had any fit/discomfort issues with any over-ear headphones (aside from some that would get too heavy at times.... but as mentioned, I use ZMFs, so I'm also fairly accustomed to heavier headphones).

    I saw that @ChaChaRealSmooth mentioned some possible concern regarding the durability of the outer mesh. I don't think it should be a problem under normal use. There is definitely some flex to it, but I didn't feel like it was going to break at all with some light-to-moderate poking/prodding. If anything, I'd think the large holes on the back side of the housing would be more prone to issues from stuff falling inside.... but again.. under normal use, you should be fine.... but I suppose given the construction, I wouldn't feel as comfortable tossing these loosely inside a backpack compared to the Mini C or S (not that I would ever do such things anyway; I tend to baby my gear).

    Overall, I'm happy with the O2 so far... but I've only had them for about a week & have mainly been listening to them a bit in the evenings, so you could say they're still in the honeymoon period.
     
  12. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    I've had an O2 (oxygen) for a short time. I'm at a loss of words to really describe them. It's just like "yep." Meaning - yeah, they hit a very nice balance with these. I still believe you need to enjoy the timbre that the ETA drivers produce. More close to a Denon version of a Joseph Grado. Not many on-ears can do what the Oxygen is doing. Maybe a touch thick in the bass->mid-bass area, but its only on tracks that are already thick.

    They look and feel like a 3-D printed headphone, but that's not what I am paying for (at least that's my belief) The grill is really bendy - so be careful.

    @Merrick 's review is what I'm hearing. I have the Gen G and Mini S all next to my listening area for switching out - but I haven't felt a need - Gen G bass can be too much at times, but it sure is enjoyable.

    The new earpads which aren't shown in this thread are really weird, but strangely work very well. My ears kind of tuck-in between the pads and the driver. They are light as helk - not much ear pressure and I forget they are on my head. Very comfortable if you are OK with foam.

    I don't know what else to add that hasn't been said.

    Not a huge spacious sound stage, but a nice thick and full image that spreads pretty endless with the micro dynamics allowing for a sense of effortless-ness.

    Nice job ETA - Maybe a mini c for me at work. Industrial blower behind me that AirPods Pro 2 are currently tasked with handling.

    I've only used Piety, Vali 2++, and Qudelix 5k - haven't had the desire to hook them to anything more serious - they sound just fine with all 3 amps / sources. Don't feel like I'm not driving them correctly with the small amplifiers.

    Cheers - Prost, nice headphone for real music listening and not excel spreadsheeting and graphing and etc.
     
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  13. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF's Mr. Bean

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    My impressions above will be updated shortly to reflect the pad change, but a quick note here:
    • New pads to my ears are more comfortable. The old Grado pads never really did it for me. The ETA team did a great job as far as ergonomics go (as far as my experience is concerned; as it is always with ergonomics your mileage may vary).
    • The treble response is smoothed out a bit from the Grado pads. It's hard for me to say whether this is due to reducing a peak in the treble region and flattening it out as a whole, or whether it's because of a reduction of ringing. My money is that it's a bit a both.
    • The biggest improvement with the new pads is actually the mids-to-treble transition. No, Sennheiser HD600/650 lovers, it's not as good as the venerable old Senns (especially with JAR mods) but it's a big step in the right direction.
    Personally, my overall verdict has not changed too much, but they're definitely a bit better.

    Tour to start soon. Will be PMing the first member
     
  14. lcmusiclover

    lcmusiclover Friend

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    Question: Are the pads on the loaner set the ‘new pads’?

    TIA
     
  15. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    Old pads:
    upload_2023-7-1_20-57-1.png

    New pads:
    upload_2023-7-1_20-57-22.png

    The new E+ pads can be spun around the baffle a bit to further optimize comfort depending on your ear shape (they are slightly tilted in the image above), but if it feels good as-is, no need to mess with it.

    Hope this helps!
     
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  16. foo_me

    foo_me Friend

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    Here are my impressions from the loaner. Thanks to ETA and SBAF for this great opportunity to try these.
    I really enjoyed these headphones. I'm a fan of grados and on the ear headphones so this was right up my alley. The headphones felt very light but sturdy and not fragile. I could see how it was built from a 3-D printer but I didn't feel that was a negative in the way it felt in the hands. Earpads looked weird and warped at first but it was comfortable and didn't cause me any issues listening for a few hours at a time. In terms of how they sound:

    Good
    • Bass was nice and deep. Definitely feel the rumble and thumping without being overpowering or overemphasized and did not take away from the rest of the music.
    • Really enjoyed the vocals, especially with accoustic music. Voices were smooth and sweet and very present.
    • Resolution was good and very detailed.
    • Non fatiguing. Extended listening sessions were not a problem.
    Not so good
    • Imaging felt a little smeared and not as good as I would have liked. Placement of notes or instruments felt congested at times. My reference is JAR800.
    • Too polite and mellow for certain music. For accoustic, where you don't miss or need any slam, it was great but for other music, I really missed some bite. I didn't feel the 02 had too much energy at all and could have used a bit more.
    Overall, I really enjoyed for general listening to a variety of music and feel it's a great value. I could see myself picking up a pair in the future.
     
  17. lcmusiclover

    lcmusiclover Friend

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    I’ll write more when my personal set arrives since I ordered a set.

    Initially I found them fairly uncomfortable as it felt like something hard and rough was being pressed against my ears. @E_Schaaf gave me a tip on how to reduce clamping and the problem went away.

    I mostly agree with @foo_me , with a few differences:

    - While I agree they are non-fatiguing, they are quite detailed with well extended treble
    - While imaging is imprecise, they’re not smeared nearly to the degree of Empyrean, and less so from sources which themselves are very precise
    - I find them fairly impolite when called for from energetic sources (e.g. Hugo 2)

    To be clear, the majority of my listening is to fairly mellow genre. But I do swing by my classic rock faves (Tull, Santana, Stones, Neil, The Who, James Gang, Cream, Doors …) fairly frequently and ETA O2 didn’t seem too polite for that music. But I don’t listen to house, industrial, metal of any flavor, rap, hip-hop and most pop, so discount my opinion for those genre.

    @foo_me ’s bottom line was:

    Overall, I really enjoyed for general listening to a variety of music and feel it's a great value. I could see myself picking up a pair in the future.

    Mine is:

    Overall, I really enjoyed for general listening to a variety of music and feel it's a great value. I expect to pick mine up from my P.O. Box later this week ( well, maybe next Monday).
     
  18. DrForBin

    DrForBin Friend

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    hello,

    tl/dr: i pretty much feel the same about these as the ETA Mini S.

    that is not to say that i did not enjoy my time with them. mayhaps i do not understand or have a use case for open, portable headphones. YMMV (the Mini C are still on my Xmas list.)

    these are very comfortable, great sounding, easy to drive cans. just not my cup of meat.

    cheers!
     
  19. scblock

    scblock Friend

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    Thanks to ETA and SBAF for organizing this loaner tour. Thanks especially for following up on my question about headphone cables by providing some additional cables to send along with the loaner.

    From reading about these I understood they were supposed to be easy to drive and would probably sound good out of almost anything, so that's how I tested. I spent a lot of time listening from my MacBook, from my Sony WM1A, from my N510 minidisc player (more than anything else probably), as well as Piety, Lyr 3, and Folkvangr. Some was focused using my test playlists, but most, particularly the minidisc which was all mixes I'd made, was just for enjoyment.

    I came away impressed at the sound and comfort. The headphone sounds very open, never closed in or muddy at all. It sounds fairly effortless from just about anything. It seems to follow the general ETA tuning of slightly dark and a little bass heavy, but has good mids and highs and commits no obvious (to me) sins. The tuning hits pretty close to my preferences, which is a little elevation to the bass and mids, smooth highs, and some solid punch.

    Comfort was excellent, they are very light and the loaner pair had very little clamping force which was great for extended sessions. No hot spots or fatigue.

    Like I noted with the Mini S these don't scale huge. And like I noted with the Mini S a lot of that is because they sound really good from most sources. Yes everything I used was high quality, but not all was massively powerful. After all the MD player can run for 30+ hours driving a motor and laser on a single AA, and I loved it with these headphones.

    The WM1A whether SE or balanced was similar, easy to listen to, plenty of power (though honestly I find the tone of the MD player more fun).

    One oddness was with the Folkvangr. I think these are the first headphones I tried out of it that I strongly preferred with the impedence multiplier engaged. Without it the bass felt mushy and ill defined. With it they sounded fantastic. And the Folkvangr and Lyr 3 did prove for me that though they sound great out of most anything of quality, the sound even better with little more power.

    Build wise I have mixed feelings. I don't have any issues with the 3D printed nature on its own. The housing feels durable and the drivers seem well protected. The finish is a little rough though maybe that's a matter of taste. The pads are a little strange looking but were comfortable and clearly work based on the sound. I wonder about long-term pad durability based on the thinness of the material where it attaches to the headphones.

    I don't really like the headband, it feels floppy and slightly too big for the design of the headphones themselves. I had to use them at almost the smallest adjustment position, which is unusual for me, and I worry that for a small head it might be hard to get the drivers to sit in the right position on the ears. And for such a nice sound and the premium price the use of a band from cheap Sony monitors doesn't look or feel very premium. The band seems fine for a $150 headphone, and a little lame for a $600 headphone.

    One thing I kept thinking, and keep coming back to, is that these look and feel almost like someone said "what if we 3D printed Grados." In that they are on ear, open back, lightweight, little rough around the edges in construction, but sound wonderful. Comparing them to the SR225x phones I got at about the same time as the loaner came in, the O2 was more fun, sounded richer and bassier, and was more comfortable. Overall I slightly preferred them to the Grados. But the Grados sounded more natural and had a more realistic edge on things like acoustic guitar. Both are excellent.
     
  20. caute

    caute Lana Del Gayer than you

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    What can I say ab the o2 that hasn't already been said?

    Well I can say, I can't wait to buy my very own pair. Let's start there.

    They are easily the most recommendable hp that I have ever heard, can ever think of.

    Ya wanna know why? Ofc you do. I sure did.

    Bc they sounded good out of a hotrodded Crack OTL w something like a 120R OI (meaning, they shouldn't), it sounded good out of an Apple dongle (meaning, they shouldn't), they sounded good directly out of a laptop jack (meaning, they should not).

    How good did they sound? Well, you first have to define "good sound" and that's well nigh impossible.

    Might as well just ramble on ab shimmering, nano textures rubbing against the clitoris of high intensity dynamics. Well, shit, it kinda was like that, but the o2 has no pretension ab it. In fact, it laughs at it.

    Look at these fools who must have the Name makers, the unobtainium tubes, all the perfectly vintage fixins. Look at these suckers who spent $2k, $5k, $10k, more on a system and I sound better than most of them out of a f'ing phone.

    That's what the o2 speaks to me.

    I could talk ab the tastefully, elegantly rumbling bass, the masterful control of dynamic range they could summon, the revealing DNA of them, that shines a light--but only to help you find what you've lost, not to floodlight music you love that might not be mastered perfectly.

    They are in every way pedestrian-looking—no getting around that, but that's what makes these hp truly great, they're the sleeper s2000 next to you at the red light, but once you put them on, you realize you are sipping from the very best the Rhone valley has to offer--you realize that you've just been left in a cloud of (quite magical) dust by their beguiling grip and powerful torque.

    Yes, they're ahead of you. They've already thought of that, and that, too, pondered that, and solved that.

    Nothing left to do but simply enjoy the ride.

    Buy these hp if you want great sonics but don't care for setups that cost the price of a Supra. Or if you have a Supra-costing setup, you might just be dumbfounded at how far these can take you. Buy them, and find out. Remember, as the immortal track goes--their gasoline is always supreme.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2023

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