Kennerton Vali Measurements and impressions

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by sorrodje, Nov 29, 2016.

  1. pedalhead

    pedalhead Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,198
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Oxfordshire, UK
    Huge thanks to Kennerton and @sorrodje for the loaner, I enjoyed my time with these. My impressions are mostly consistent with the majority so far so I won't labour the point too much. In a nutshell...

    + An actual decent sounding headphone without major FR issues that doesn't cost stupid money*.
    + Fairly sensible tuning, bit of a mid-bass bump for fun but not too much. Eg, bass that sounded muddy on the Z1R (Fiona Apple - "To Your Love") was tight on the Vali.
    + Punchy, good slam (not playnar levels, but not a million miles away)
    + Solid build quality. I was expecting an ergonomic fail from previous reports, but I found the adjustment to be fine, set & forget.
    + Wears its (admittedly considerable) weight quite well on the head.
    + Sensitive, easy to drive

    - * still too expensive though.
    - Not super comfortable with eyeglasses. I think it's the weight pushing down on the sides of the arms.
    - Narrow soundstage
    - Not anywhere near top tier in terms of resolving abilities. Subtle details are lost compared to HD800 and (to a lesser extent) HD650.
    - Not entirely natural sounding, but for me I think this ties in with the lack of resolving ability.
    - Sensitive, well into the noise floor of my Wells Audio amp (which admittedly has far too much gain).

    Honestly, I'd take these over an Elear just for the lack of glaring FR issues. I think most headphones at this price are too expensive though. Vali would be an easy recommendation at say £500-£600 retail. Taking into account the used market though, I'd still have a used HD800 and mod/EQ it for a similar price.

    Good job Kennerton, and kudos for letting us all have a try.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 5
    • List
  2. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

    Friend BWC MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,886
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    near Munich, Germany
    First up: Measurements. Impressions later.

    Frequency response referenced to 2.83Vrms, in-ear measurement:
    FR.png
    The channel matching was worse when I got it. I swapped the pads and it got much better. About 120db at 2.83Vrms. Don't worry, I measured at 90db, not 120db. Overall the FR is pretty good, except for a bump at 1kHz. Since this bump is lower in frequency than with the Focal headphones it actually annoyed me less. The sharp 5kHz peak is an ear resonance and I don't think it's heard as such with music. Otherwise the upper mids/lower treble has a good balance. I don't think I heard a dip around 8kHz and it actually sounds a bit warmer (and bassier) than the measurements indicate. The measurements however do have a slight warm tilt to them and since it's an in-ear measurement flat will sound flat, with no need for compensation.

    Harmonic distortion at 94db at 500Hz:
    Vali HD L.png

    Quite a bit of bass distortion, with the midrange distortion again exceeding the capabilites of my measurement rig. This is the left channel. Bass distortion is much higher than the HD800.
    With a 40Hz tone I measured about 0.48% D2, 0.56% D3, 0.044% D4 and 0.065% D5 for the left channel and slightly higher D2 and D3 for the right chanel (around 0.65%).
    (Compare to HD800 and SR-202 here)
    Note that I had to use my UMIK as my WM-61A seemed to be stuck at 0.2% D2. The UMIK isn't much better either.

    Foam coupler CSD (35db range):
    CSD L.png

    The driver seems to have a resonance at 3.5kHz, but with more damping this goes away. It's not an issue on the head and it's also gone on a V2 type coupler. The 8kHz spot is at least partly from the pads, I believe. When the microphone isn't centered it goes away. I did however feel that there was some unevenness in this area.

    Other stuff:
    At very high levels there seemed to be some compression in the bass. Between 99db and 109db it lost about 1db at 60Hz.
    Ultrasonic extension seemed to be good to around 30kHz. Breakup seemed to be at an impressive 37kHz.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 2
    • List
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
  3. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

    Friend BWC MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,886
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    near Munich, Germany
    I actually really liked these. While they're decidedly mid-fi headphones, they're a lot of fun.
    Quick bullet points:
    • This thing is heavy and that cable! Super stiff and short, but I had the feeling that this was actually a good sounding cable. Sadly only TRS terminated. Mini XLR on the headphones.
    • Woah, this is a whole lot more bass than I anticipated. This will definitely take some time to adjust to. Bass quality also seems much worse than HD800. Actually maybe worse than HD600. Not as clean as my OB speakers (which are similar in quality to UERM/Andro).
    • Also a lot more warmth than I expected. But it's tastefully done.
    • Strong clamp. I bet you can bend the headband slightly to loosen it up. The metal headband also seems very ringy.
    • Upper midrange bump is not as annoying as with Utopia, but otherwise there's some resemblance to the Elear/Utopia tuning.
    • For some reason the upper midrange bump doesn't annoy me nearly as much as with even the Utopia (which was way less annoying than the Elear). It's more narrow and lower in frequency (centered around 1kHz), which is why I feel it's not as bad.
    • The tuning on these is absolutely gorgeous. This is what a fun headphone should sound like. The tuning feels very deliberate.
    • Very good staging with good depth, despite being not very open sounding. Not too wide. Again similar to the Focal headphones.
    • The Elear has much better technicalities.
    • Treble isn't the smoothest, but a lot better than Elear. Treble isn't as smooth as the FE83En in my speakers or my modded HD800. At times it's smoother than the HD600, but at other times it's less smooth, so I'd put them about equal.
    • By far not as extended and airy as the HD800. No surprises here.
    • Seems like there's a slight 8kHz peak . The 9kHz spot on the FE83En is a better frequency to have a peak. Vali is more annoying.
    • Great upper mids to lower treble transition, almost as good as my modded HD800. Better than HD600 imo.
    • Lively, uncompressed sound, more than HD600, but slightly less than HD800. Seems very sensitive. This is in combination with its masterful tuning is why I keep coming back to it.
    • I'd put clarity about equal to HD600.
    • Less resolving than HD600.
    Non-sound stuff:
    • Build quality looks to be good, but the metal hinges scratch against the wood. They're also sharper than I'd like and the headband adjust scratches the finish.
    • The wood is beautiful. Very dark brown that becomes almost red-brownish in direct sunlight.
    • Comfort is not as good as HD600 and it does get heavy on longer listening sessions.

    Overall the tuning on these worked perfectly at making me forget about their technical downfalls. I would also take them over the Elear in its stock form, but I have a feeling the Elear has much more modding potential. The Vali feels like someone already did all the modding for me. I tried to reduce the 1kHz bump by putting foam and felt over the sides of the earpads, but it didn't work. The HE60 and HD600 pads I have sounded like shit.

    At around 600€ I'd recommend it. 1k makes it harder to recommend. It does however actually make a good complement to the HD800.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 8
    • List
  4. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,751
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Phoenix
    Home Page:
    I wonder what they have done with them since I have heard them. That looks different than what I remember for sure. Not even close. Especially at 6khz
     
  5. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

    Friend BWC MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,886
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    near Munich, Germany
    Keep in mind that my measurements are generally most comparable to Hands's and generally not perfectly comparable to the regular coupler measurements. The sharp 5.5kHz peak and sudden 6kHz dip is definitely caused by the in-ear measurement method, but I also heard it when listening to sweeps. I stuck to the in-ear measurements because I do think it's more accurate and best describes what I hear.
    The 2-4kHz region also seemed to be affected the most by how I wore it. I simply measured it how I thought it sounded best, but I could also get a more laid-back upper midrange if I wanted.

    What part don't you agree with? I actually very much agree with your impressions here:
    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...open-back-dynamic-headphones.2130/#post-53767

    Here's a FR comparison between Elear, Utopia, Vali and my modded HD800:
    FR comparo.png
    Both the Focal headphones measured with a peak at 5.7kHz for me and the Vali measured with a similar peak, but lower in frequency and steeper. It looks weird because, for some reason, the peak wasn't at exactly the same frequency for left and right.

    The Vali sounded bassier than it looks on the graphs, probably because of the higher distortion. However because the bass hump is a higher Q it also means that it bleeds less into the midrange. In terms of midrange tonality for me it's HD800 > Vali > Utopia >> Elear. I do think the lower treble is recessed on the Vali. Cymbals on Tool tracks don't have the right attack. Macro-dynamics seemed to be in between HD600 and HD800, with the HD600 sounding the least dynamic.
    The midrange on the HD600/HD650 does sound more natural, but I actually prefer the upper mids (2kHz+) on the Vali. Seemed to be less grainy and better integrated.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  6. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,751
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Phoenix
    Home Page:
    What's up!

    I just didn't recall the 6khz spike that strong but honestly it could have been just how I looked at your graph. That spike looks gnarly on the first post but it has also been a while since I heard it. I miss that headphone. I loved the way percussion sounded on it. One day I will have another....one day. I am eyeballing the Odin though. That is my favorite Planar.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  7. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

    Friend BWC MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,886
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    near Munich, Germany
    I agree. I don't think I noticed it with music. Resonances around 5 and 8kHz with the in-ear measurements are just ear-resonances that are excited to a different degree by different headphones. I think this has to do with soundstage perception more than tonality, but probably also affects the treble rendition to a degree.
    With this sort of stuff I like to look at the foam coupler CSDs. More often than not they correlate very well to what I hear, even if the foam coupler FR measurements don't. Here we see that there's no resonance around 5-6kHz.

    BTW: Part of me wonders if @Marvey's difficulty hearing resonances around 4-5kHz has more to do with how our brains interpret the sound than hearing damage or anything. A driver resonance around 5kHz might trick our ears into thinking that the phone excites ear resonances more than it actually does, which might blur the imaging. But that's just a theory.
    I also think that for in-ears it might be good to have a resonance around 8kHz to get proper "out-of-your-head" imaging, at least when done correctly. This likely also depends on the specific ear geometry and might be something that CIEM makers know more about than me.

    I thought percussion worked really well on the Vali because of its smooth upper midrange (past the 1kHz bump) coupled with a lively sound, but I think it's hard to beat a modded HD800 at that.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 2
    • List
  8. Drakkard

    Drakkard Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    84
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Saint-Petersburg
    I would like to thank everyone for detailed responses posted here so far. It is good to know I'm generally on a right way with tonality tuning.
    Special thanks to @Serious for checking channel imbalance in relation to ear pads. Ear Pads for this model is extremely tricky to made. They are ventilated a lot more than it's usually found on other headphones. And the density of foam inside is strictly matched. So crumpled ear pad (from the long storage in the case for example) may show slightly different performance than was intended. One of the reasons I want to change Pads for Vali v2 to a different material.

    Also, we are planning to collaborate with Massdrop in coming months, with their help we might be able to set a retail price that I some reviewers advised here :)
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 3
    • List
  9. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

    Staff Member Friend MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,903
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Dijon / Burgundy / France / EU
    It would be nice if some american friends could take it for a little trip amongst US community. Especially considering the future massdrop offer.

    I still think this headphone deserves more interest. For sure, I don't think it candidates for a title of reference headphone but I defnitely think it offers a good musical experience for people who want to just have fun with their music and a very specific sound no other headphone conveys. :)
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 3
    • List
  10. Ali-Pacha

    Ali-Pacha Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    262
    Trophy Points:
    63
    I agree for the most part with @Serious and @pedalhead, so I'll take their posts and point out my subjective adjustments. Be aware I'm a stat-head, and my gear upstream is not that impressive for e-dyn, especially the Vali2 used for listening sessions (DAC is an Yggdrasil fed through AES/EBU from a RME HDSP 9632 soundcard). HD600 and SD-modded HD800 are my only e-dyn cans at home

    The first impression is they're bassy headphones, very impactful, with something's special : they are warm AND clean. Yes, it's possible for e-dyn cans ! All the warm / bassy models I've encountered are blurry / slow / muddy in the low-mids, and that remains true with top-tier amplification. Think Fostex or worst, Beats. But nothing comparable with Vali. Well done Kennerton :)

    So let's go through posts of my both fellow-loaner-friends. I'll only keep impressions I feel I'm adding some comments. Other parts I fully agree with them :bow:

    • Sensitivity may be more of a downside to me, because of the noise-floor of my Vali2 (low gain mandatory)
    • I don't wear glasses, no problem to me. Pads are maybe a bit scratchy for my bald head on long runs, but my neck feels tired from the weight before that
    • I did compare to HD600, but feeling's the same. Vali kicks harder, but subtelty and plankton are not up to Senn's level
    • Yeah, 650-700 € would be a fair pricepoint for them. I've to add this pricepoint is kinda Valley of Death, with nothing interesting to me...well, Beyerdynamic is into multiplication of the loaves there, but I really dislike their monitoring and abrasive-sounding style (that 8-9 khz peak :eek:), so...
    • No problem with clamp on my side, but I'm really small-headed !
    • Here's the point I've heard something very special compared to other impressions. Voices are really really strange most of the time. Sometimes completely veiled, sometimes shouty with a duck-like tone. 1 khz and linearity around are something I'm really sensitive to as a Stax-lover, and I think the very isolated 1 khz peak on those is the reason I feel voices are so odd. It's not a downside at firsht sight (hearing !), but once I got it, no way to get rid of these odd tone.
    • Soundstage is bubble-ish to me, a bit claustrophobic, with two small spheres around my ears. But hey, sounstage on phones...the more I'm into this hobby, the more I feel all the stuff about soundstage is kinda BS. Let's say somes phones have soundstage that let you hear differences from one recording to another, and some others phones don't. Vali are more on the latter, like most of the orthos I've listened to.
    • Yes, but there's a hole beetween mids and high-mids (begin @ 2khz for me), see above. Slight peak in the highs (6 khz ?), but doesn't bother me like Beyer thing (and other edyn cans with such annoyance)
    Oh and yeah, I like the packaging, the light nylon box with perfect shaped foam within is very well designed, the way it's meant to be IMO.

    Warm, easy-listening, impactful, perfect for rock / blues, the most ortho-ish of e-dyn, and really peculiar finish and look, totally worth it in a hobbyist collection.
    Thank you again (Kennerton, Sorrodje, friends) for this loaner, always very instructive |\/|

    Ali
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 5
    • List
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  11. Drakkard

    Drakkard Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    84
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Saint-Petersburg
    Writing here to note people that Massdrop received a sample of Vali as well, so we will make a drop soon :) We will try to set the price that EU people advised is a good value.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 5
    • List
  12. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

    Staff Member Friend MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,903
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Dijon / Burgundy / France / EU
    Reminder : the Vali loaner comes to US. People interested can still grab the opportunity to make an opinion by themselves :)
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  13. Drakkard

    Drakkard Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    84
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Saint-Petersburg
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 3
    • List
  14. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

    Staff Member Friend MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    9,965
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Irvine CA
    Vali is in the house. Will take a listen this week.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 3
    • List
  15. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

    Staff Member Friend MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    9,965
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Irvine CA
    Adding my Kennerton Vali 2 cents.

    The weight and look of this headphone made me believe these were going to be bass heavy. Not at all. Balance is reasonable and signature is somewhat laid back. Like others said, not super resolving, but not offensive. There is some coloration perhaps due to slight depressions in the upper mids or lower treble. However bass to mids should be pretty well balanced. The coloration does not bother me at all. It gives these cans their character.

    The construction of these headphones is top tier. None of the HFM bullshit. The cups have an interesting swivel mechanism to adjust to one's head. I wish the Abyss cans had something similar to this. I was able to adjust them for a perfect fit. That said, these are heavy cans and they are virgin-ally tight.

    I love their style. It goes well with some high quality whiskey and a nice Cuban cigar. Quite enjoyable cans.

    Some measurements:

    Frequency Response

    kennerton_vali_fr.png

    Distortion Right

    kennerton_vali_dist_right.png

    Distortion Left

    kennerton_vali_dist_left.png

    CSD Right

    kennerton_vali_csd_right.png

    CSD Left

    kennerton_vali_csd_left.png
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 6
    • List
  16. MrTeaRex

    MrTeaRex His head's not fat, he's my brother!

    Banned Anti-SBAF PSYOPS
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,056
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 3
    • List

Share This Page