Mysphere 3.1 Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by purr1n, Sep 3, 2020.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I'm sure the Mysphere doesn't need an introduction. A prior thread concerning these headphones is here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/mysphere-3-1-and-3-2.7522/

    This is the 3.1 version of the Mysphere, or the "portable" version which is supposed to be easier to drive from modest sources. Depending upon who you talk to, the Mysphere 3.1 is either the less technically strong or the one that is neutral, fast, an detailed. The Zout of the amp I'm using is less than 2-ohms. The 45 custom is transformer coupled and has a little bit of feedback. I also tried it out from the Motu UltraLite's headphone output, which had no problem driving the Mysphere.

    Mysphere31.jpg

    I spent some time listening to them for a few hours to get a subjective impression without the "benefit" of measurements. The drivers were oriented fully outward during both subjective and objective testing. (What's the point to keep them closed in like regular headphones!) In my time, I noted the following characteristics:
    • There is a rather large emphasis in a part of the upper mids, the presence or female vocal overtones region. If I had to guess around 1.5-3kHz.
    • Despite the emphasis, overall response and tone was smooth and gradual without any sharp abrupt transitions to peaks or nulls. A very refined sound and surprisingly not "in-your-face".
    • Per the above, the low and mid-treble were very smooth. Nothing stood out. No graininess or off timbre typical of "high-tech" materials. However, I felt the very top end of the highest octave was a bit muted. I'm sure in another ten years, I wouldn't notice.
    • The Mysphere seems highly dependent upon genre of music specific recordings. Some stuff sounds great. Others sound thin and tinny. I will cover this in more detail in later posts.
    • From a "technicalities" point of view, it's not close to TOTL stuff like Focal Utopia or RAAL SR1a. The highs are crisp, moderately fast, and resolving enough. The lows are rounded and can sound congested and cloudy if the volume is turned up. I am going to have to go back to figure out how well this actually scales.
    • The Mysphere driver's voice coil can easily run out of its magnetic gap (does this well before physical excursion limits, i.e. "slap slap slap") in bass heavy tracks. This is definitely not a high volume dance music headphone.
    • I thought they would be more comfortable looking at them, but that's not necessarily the case. The padding is rather thin, and the contraption grabs my head at two points just to back and top of my ears like a pair of forceps. I do have a big basketball sized head though. They would have been more comfortable if the clamping force was more evenly distributed around my head rather than just at two points - the top of the headband doesn't even touch my head!
    The height of the drivers can be moved up and down. I wear HD800s almost fully extended, so for me the drivers are extended all the way down (the Mysphere sounded most even and best to me this way). The ruler lines are a nice touch for those of us who are anally-retentive. The mechanism is a friction slide and feels very polished.
    IMG_20200903_130041.jpg

    There is some serious padding in front of the driver. Ostensibly to tame the highs. A physical mod approach instead of an EQ circuit approach.
    IMG_20200902_134954.jpg

    The back side of the driver is bare without any damping.
    IMG_20200903_130726.jpg

    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
  2. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    From the other thread you link, a user's thoughts:

    To which I responded:

    But, anyway, here's what I've taken away so far from your thoughts and that thread:

    1. "Thin, bright, and lean sound," on almost any amp, possibly barring some wildly expensive or random amps.
    2. "The Mysphere seems highly dependent upon genre of music specific recordings," which is almost always another way of saying, "Generally sounds bad." See HD700 as an example where this phrase was frequently used.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Excellent! I like this presentation style. We are basically IF, but with less B.S. behind the scenes. I think I am going to laugh a little at the FR from all the anecdotal stories I've heard about these from my friends.

    Can you share with us all what "cued" you that the drivers were going beyond Xmax ? I don't know if it is assumed that everyone knows / should know or if we even want to get into any of that in these types of reviews. From how many damaged Elex's there are - I think a little knowledge wouldn't hurt.

    EDIT: - You described the sound of what it isn't, but I am asking "what it is"
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I love how you guys provide a segue to my next post.

    The answer to what cued (pun intended) me to say that that the drivers were being pushed too hard is Daft Punk's Get Lucky. (TBH, I was afraid of trying Doin' It Right because I didn't want to blow the drivers with that intense 37Hz bass drop).

    To be clear, I wasn't hitting physical excursion limits where we would hear the "click click click or slap slap slap". I hit this during measurements and promptly turned down the volume. I was ready for this during measurements because the RAAL SR1a, another ear phone (drivers suspended in front of ears) does this. What I was not prepared for is how easily the Mysphere 3.1 hit physical excursion limits.

    The Random Access Memories album is incredibly bassy (at least the digital version, the vinyl isn't so much probably because the needle would jump from the grooves). After applying EQ to bring the upper mids down, and cranking up the volume (note that it's hard to crank up the volume without EQ because that track then becomes "upper-midrange city"), the bass lines of the Get Lucky just became a series of farts.

    We are talking about obvious distortion, not the typically "high" distortion say found on the Sony Z1R or RAAL SR1a. The SR1a isn't a great performer either, but a lot of it it because the ribbon's transient speed is so good that a lot of the distortion is masked.

    The track has a lot of energy between 45-65Hz.
    getlucky.jpg

    Here are some 50Hz waveforms at approximately 88db for the RAAL SR1a and 90db for the Mysphere. Neither are hitting excursion limits. We can already see the SR1a's sine wave is deformed. The distortion is actually pretty high here. (The general rule behind looking at sine waves is that if you can see something is off, then it's pretty off in terms of THD). Some people can hear this. Other people cannot, especially since the SR1's transient behavior is so bedazzling.

    The Mysphere 50Hz signal is ... I dunno what that is. Keep in mind that I am not hitting physical excursion limits here!

    RAAL SR1a
    50Hz waveform ~88db (maybe higher)
    upload_2020-9-3_17-12-17.png

    Mysphere 3.1
    50Hz waveform ~90db (maybe higher)
    upload_2020-9-3_17-10-20.png

    So I think in a nutshell, if you like to listen loudly and if you like electronic dance music with bass beats and drops, then the Mysphere may not be ideal for you. I think that's important to get out of the way for the sake of fairness.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    A bassy / thick / rich sounding amp would help alleviate this "Thin, bright, and lean sound." I don't think one needs to spend $5000. Here is a shortlist (not all inclusive) from most expensive to least: Donald North Stellaris, Eddie Current Studio Junior/B, Schiit Ragnarok 2, Project Horizon/Sunrise, and Schiit Vali Coaster (DIY). The latter two because of their price will exhibit more distortion, sound more veiled, etc.

    To be precise, I didn't feel the Mysphere 3.1 sounded bright necessary. The high-end was really nice and smooth. Thin maybe, but mostly because there seemed to be sudden drop below 65Hz (like a really sudden drop) and also because there was a lot of emphasis around 2kHz. It's not always thin sounding either. Some tracks sounded full-bodied.

    I was on the phone texting some of my comrades here. Hearing of the issues I described, one suggested that I try Juliana Barwick's The Magic Place. Her sound is kind of ethereal. (I didn't want to say new age or ambient), but you get the idea. The idea was that this kind of lower key ambient sound wouldn't be so hard on the Mysphere and would provide an ideal genre type.

    Nope. This record was just a colossal disaster and sounded like absolute shit with the Mysphere. Thin, lean, upper-midrange city.

    However, Taylor Swift's latest album Folklore proved to be fantastic*. Hmm. Strange.

    There are both logical and sciency explanations for this, which I will discuss later.

    You know how Currawong says "good for classical". Well these are horrible for most classical.



    *I love using select Taylor Swift albums to piss people off or catch them off guard: https://www.reddit.com/r/headphones/comments/a0n9sm/who_is_marv_from_sbaf/
    It's not always a good idea to use the best recorded albums to assess gear. A mix of good, marginal, and bad to assess certain qualities is the best approach. It's also far more reflective of the quality of music in our libraries, unless we only listen to DSD/SACD audiophile boutique labels who record monks bleating with goats or Stevie Nicks.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Let's move on to measurements.

    Mysphere 3.1
    Frequency Response
    miniDSP EARS with SBAF compensation
    upload_2020-9-3_17-49-19.png


    Invariably, the Mysphere is going to be compared with the SR1a, so here it is.

    Mysphere 3.1 vs SR1a
    Frequency Response
    miniDSP EARS with SBAF compensation
    GRN/RED = Mysphere 3.1
    GRY = SR1a
    upload_2020-9-3_17-53-15.png

    I feel this is pretty representative of the subjective tonal differences between the two. The SR1a's high end wasn't as smooth and more in-your-face (jaggies from 4kHz to 7kHz). However the SR1a has better bass extension and doesn't have the Mysphere's slow downward slope from the mids down to the bass. On the Mysphere, there was something super emphasized around 2kHz though, actually maybe 2.5 or higher. The FR plot above only shows a peak around 2kHz however. (Let's take a look at the FPC measurements later and run CSDs).
     
  7. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Looks like an out-of-phase 4th order harmonic?
     
  8. Zhanming057

    Zhanming057 Friend

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    Keep in mind that this is the 3.1 which has to work with the 16 ohm impedance and not the 3.2 which is the higher performance and less drivable of the two designs. That said, I wouldn't really know what to compare the 3.1 to since the idea of the high end headphone designed for portable sources is pretty much dead outside of a few exotic brands. Maybe the D8000p is an alternative but being only semi-open neither is an alternative for the other.

    Mysphere has tuning filters for +2db to the above 2khz region - which is what I used to run - and +6 db to bass (which I have not yet tried. You can also slightly close down the drivers to get more bass at the cost of staging, the sensitivity measurement from Heinz assumes that the driver is right next to the ear IIRC.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The next set is the flat plate coupler (no ears). Usually I get better consistency with seal (not applicable here). In fact, given the shape of the headband, it was impossible for me to get a precise alignment. Measurements are compensated to be comparable with above EARS, but there will still be differences.

    Sometimes I find the FPC measure to be more accurate in the highs, which I feel is the case here. Or either I'm not as sensitive to 4-5kHz peaks (not the first time) as identified in the miniDSP measurements. This is the cocha gain area, so it's hard to say.

    Mysphere 3.1
    Frequency Response
    Flat plate coupler (no ears) with compensation
    upload_2020-9-4_14-12-12.png

    I felt closing down the drivers completely defeated the point of these earphones, to the point where they became OB HD600s in terms of headstage if you know what I mean.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
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  10. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    :cat looking at newspaper: "I need to read a little more about Raggy 2" I keep preaching/praying for an Asgard 3 sized Rag2/Aegir/Saga whatever you want to call it - old school class A yummy-goo to pile on top of my old school tube dac yummy goo and see if we got Stew or Eww-Goo


    EDIT: Just saw measurements... I LOVE HAVING LESS SUB-BASS THAN A GRADO! PLEASE GIVE ME LESS! :megafacepalm:
     
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  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Let's take a look at CSDs. I think this explains the the mystery of my subjective observation regarding the narrow but very evident emphasis in the "1.5-3kHz"

    FPC Mysphere 31  L -5db.jpg
    FPC Mysphere 31  R -5db.jpg
     
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  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I'll process distortion graphs in a bit. Getting dinner with family now.
     
  13. Zhanming057

    Zhanming057 Friend

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    Makes sense that there wouldn't be a huge difference between the measurements.

    You could go halfways which is what I prefer, although some might not like the fact that any halfway positioning needs to be eyeballed.

    The Mysphere drivers have a fundamental frequency of 50hz, so there's pretty much nothing below that. That's with all headphones with this design, the K1000 had that too, the SR1a runs at 35hz or so although they might have managed to keep more volume below that level with the ribbon driver.
     
  14. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    This is a damn shame considering its price. I already think the Utopia is stupidly expensive (even though I own one), but at the very least you have to concede the Utopia is an extremely good headphone.

    I'd argue this actually makes the MySphere a worse value than the SR1a even if you don't have a speaker amp ready for it. The SR1a + Jot R combo costs $4000 - $4200 (shameless @Bloom plug) depending on if you want the DAC card, and I'd wager that the combo is technically better than the MySphere + any amp while bringing something new to the table (ribbons, exceptional transients). Of course, the Jot R isn't a "True High-End" amp and probably gets you only about 85-90% of the way there, but even 85% of the SR1a is pretty damn good.

    I wonder how much of it has to do with the front damping over the driver; the most resolving transducers all seem to carry the same characteristic of having little to no front damping. However, the MySphere looks like it would have really wonky FR if you took the front damping off, and I have no idea if that's even feasible without destroying the material.

    ^that phrase makes me really not interested in hearing it. Any headphone I own better be enjoyable my entire music collection (or at least 95% of it). I don't just want to listen to Taylor Swift.

    What personally concerns me here is that small ring at around 8k. Would you say that it's audible past the massive 3k ringing?
     
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  15. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Can we see what different angles do to the measurements. If you are measuring them wide-open, the amount of stress on the driver will need to increase in order to hit your desired SPL. How does the driver react in something even more "headphone" like? There should be less air to move between the microphone/ear and the driver so it is possible the lower frequency energy will not roll as hard??? Brain-storming "out loud" here.
     
  16. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    On the topic of brainstorming, maybe a GIF or video of FFT with the drivers getting slowly, progressively closer or further from measurements point so we can see how varying degrees affect sound? Probably going to look like a mess and will be a pain to pull off though, eh.

    Edit— weird how the voicing looks almost like it was for a supra-aural headphone with the usual gain regions boosted, in hindsight. +1 curious how it sounds right the wings fully closed, how does that compare to the good Grados (RS2/RS1) (edit2: with TTVJ pads :p)?
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
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  17. will_f

    will_f Leave of absence from SBAF - having fun in RL

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    Very interesting! I imagine the sound changes when the wings are closed down. I’m curious know if doing so reduces, shifts or magnifies any of your noted observations.
     
  18. n3rdling

    n3rdling Friend

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    Didn't realize the Mysphere HP was just being released - it's one of the HPs I was keeping an eye on in the distance. What you say here pretty much mimics my experience with the K1000 and what I realistically expected from this HP despite the press.

    I had a couple K1000s and ended up just selling them off because they simply weren't comfortable to listen to in the long run for two reasons:
    1. the headband sucked and basically pinched on my temples. I felt like Darwin was using his spreading calipers on my skull which you alluded to.
    2. they inevitably were too bright and thin. I'll go into this more below, but overall the response was tipped too much towards the highs and my ears would hurt a lot of times.

    Don't get me wrong, a dialed in K1000 setup with good amp and specifically good K1k unit is simply magical at times, but it requires too many planets to align for most people IMO. I'd never recommend it as a main rig, but as a supplementary rig it can be bliss for somebody very experienced and knowledgeable. It's no bueno for modern music, but for a lot of classical/certain jazz/string type music it is right there in the cream of the crop.

    If I grabbed the K1000s, I knew beforehand what my playlist was. However, this is rarely how I listen to music, as I typically am a bit reactive based on how I feel at the time and often select next tracks based on how I feel towards the end of a song. What ended up happening far too often is I'd listen to music my normal way with the K1000s and I'd end up with a headache 45 mins in. Some of this was because of the headband (and it's a shame they seemingly made the same mistake) and some was because of the FR.

    One thing I did note was that the headphone became thinner/more fatiguing the more I angled the drivers out. At the same time, this is what increases the perception of a more natural or speaker-like presentation as opposed to headphone presentation, so there is an active balancing act involved.

    I noticed you said you settled on listening with the driver housings fully extended. Based on my experience with the K1k, I'd recommend toeing them in a bit. For me those headphones were overall best (i.e. with most songs, listening levels, moods, etc) between a 45 degree angle and a 30 degree angle biased towards full extension. You get a more balanced overall FR presentation and still maintain a unique soundstage presentation, which is the whole point of getting this type of headphone. If you want to toe all the way out and not get fatigued, the SR-Sigma is the only answer here, but at the tradeoff of some boominess, weight, upper treble response.

    If it sounds as you describe/experience dictates, I think this would be a headphone only people with overall great headphones should even consider. The K1000 could be unlistenable for some music and unbeatable for other music.

    I probably overextended my reach here simply on owning K1ks, but I've long felt this is almost the same headphone and your posts only make me believe that more firmly. I did expect them to greatly improve the headband. I don't expect physics to be redefined by any headphone company, and in an open design like this you're leaning more and more towards 'what you see is what you get'.
     
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  19. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Look Marv - your threads are good enough to pull n3rdling out of hibernation :)

    @n3rdling - glad to see you post on here. It's weird when we go long periods without you!

    One of our buddies who got out of the hobby had a Moth 2a3 -> K1000 and he would play SRV - Tin Pan alley and that material was just perfect with the K1000. It was one of my first transcendental experiences. The Stax SR007 and Sony CD3000 were in the same room and they just couldn't touch it for that very specific feature. It was very life-like although within its capability range.

    Depending on the timbre of the Mysphere vs. the K1000 - it could actually be possibly that I prefer the K1000. I think I might prefer the experience I had (1 time) with the K1000 vs the experience I had (1 time) with the SR1-A.

    The SR1-A was hooked up to a full-size Esoteric setup with the "I'm compensating for something" mono-blocks that are the size of mediums dog.

    The All-in-One Sennheiser Orpheus 2 - even with it's own limitations - gave me my current "new" eureka moment. After I heard them and realized, yes, these ARE amazing and after the fact that I heard a bunch of great stuff that same day; I still wanted to buy something amazing; I ended up going home and blindly buying the MoonDrop Blessing 2. (Face palm, what did you do M3NTAL - it's OK, it actually worked out pretty great with my new expectations) Thank you MADtv for the "Lowered Expectations"

    I realized that the Orpheus 2 could not fully scratch the itch I had. So I quit trying to chase it with money and I started to chase it with what is most important. Timbre/Tonality/Technicality/Value - in a balanced way.

    I don't know why we haven't seen small, Point Source Coaxial drivers used in "wing" earphones. We are basically asking for a near-field open baffle full-range speaker that your head holds instead of your table. Carbon in areas where strength and lightness are needed and other light materials used in areas where it is less important.

    Wait... is N3RDLING in here because it is finally time for him to drop his goodies upon us ?

    HAHAHAHA
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
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  20. ruinevil

    ruinevil Rando

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    @n3rdling It’s the most uncomfortable headphones I've ever tried... It felt like someone was screwing a jar top to my head. Of the 3 engineers who made the K1000, they have the 2 that worked on ergonomics probably.
     
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