Nectar Sound - "The Bee" - a planar

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by Philimon, Nov 8, 2022.

  1. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Friend

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    Sorry for the quick double post but I saw that he lowered the impedance from 52 to 11 to make it "easier to drive", but in my experience I think that may have been counterintuitive. Some of the he most difficult to drive headphones I ever tried were the DCA planars and I think it was the combination of low impedances and low sensitivity that made them so difficult to drive. Many amps arent designed to handle such low impedances and it can actually cause issues. I remember the THX amps specifically said not to go below 16 ohms and the JDS Atom amps also had a lot of issues with the DCA stuff because of the low impedance. I am wondering if the reason the Piety and the Liquid Carbon were having issues is related to this.

    I wonder if he can offer the 52 ohm version as a alternative, I would personally take that one just due to my experiences with the DCA stuff.

    I might wrong about this, maybe someone with more knowledge of this stuff could chime in.
     
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  2. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    The actual construction process would be an interesting read. Maybe @Sajeev would indulge us? Here is a pic where you can make out a bit of the serpentine trace.:
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    Agreed. HE6se v2 has a bit of treble nastiness and my goal is to reduce amplitude with padrolling which I update the thread with my trials however other mods will be kept hidden for sake of MOT, sorry friends. Ill attempt CSD measures with Bee. Bee is relatively lower tensioned and thicker / heavier diaphragm compared to current crop of planars aside from Voldemort so hopefully that means any driver resonance is muuuch lower down the frequency range where it might be felt as less of an issue. Of course that comes with drawbacks of which one is more occurence of membrane crinkling when shifting on/off pads but that was a deliberate design choice by Sajeev apparently for bass and timbre. Other companies cant sell that compromise to regular consumers who will equate crinkling with defective. @purr1n would you share CSD of Verum please? And it is interesting that V. had that massive grill while Nectar chose open foam…

    edit: His reasoning for why foam grill might be the same reasoning why he chose foam for Hive.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2023
  4. khbaur330162

    khbaur330162 Rando

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    Nvm. I have a curious observation, but need to think a bit more.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2023
  5. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    I asked Sajeev if he'd share more info on his design and construction process. This info doesnt appear on the site so thank you Sajeev for taking the time to type this up.:

    Sure - I tried to take some time this morning to answer your question. Hope this helps - you may post this below:
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I will try and share what I can. In terms of R&D, I just tend to experiment a lot. I do as much research as I can and see what others have tried, and put pen to paper trying to figure out how things work and what makes the most sense for my design goals. I even tried to make a ribbon driver at one point from hard tempered aluminum I cut out of vintage capacitors. It was a lot of fun but didn't yield anything saleable.


    For the planar I went with a single sided solution. Of course both methods have their merits, I wanted it to be lightweight and comfortable for long listening sessions, and I also liked the idea of having the ear facing portion of the driver unobstructed by bar magnets. I migrated some proven design decisions from the HiveX and went with the same driver diameter. The active area of the driver was somewhere in the middle relative to the market at 77.5mm. I also went with the same ear facing hard cover pattern design as the HiveX. It may add some subtle texture to the sound as evidenced by other popular modders that take commercial headphones and add their own textured cover rather than just cloth. Either way, I quite like it. The serpentine traces I routed such that it took advantage of the magnetic field of the individual magnets, as well as the field in between the magnets. So the field is in one direction for an individual magnet, and then in between magnets it flips direction, so the traces also flip accordingly so that the force induced is all in the same direction.


    Originally I had very thin traces and a lot of them, so the resistance was high, so a lot of voltage swing was needed to provide the same amount of current (the current is what creates the B field). I then went with thicker traces so that more amps could drive the HPs (lower resistance and less voltage swing required). I experimented with a few driver thicknesses, some of them total failures. The Bee driver thickness ended at 12um, and I designed it with my own tools and I worked with a supplier for a while to source the material properly (just the material and traces), and sourced several iterations during development. I can say the material is extremely tough, and something I saw was an issue with some other planars (from Reddit posts for example) was suction damaging with drivers (and since the planar drivers are so thin and also they are integrated with serpentine traces of different material, they can be fragile). This will not happen with the Bee. Note that I build and assemble the driver, cups, magnets, soldering, testing and do everything myself. The only thing I don’t do is chemically etch the traces myself.


    Now, compared with the HiveX where the driver thickness is 3um, the Bee is a thicker driver for me. Most planars will have very thin drivers as I just mentioned. I tension the Bee drivers totally flat (physically flat) so that it accentuates the low end, something you can’t do with a very thin driver for example because it will sound “flabby”. There are techniques for verifying the tension of the driver through measuring the self resonance. The advantage of this method is that you get this luscious bass, the disadvantage is the highs are not as accentuated like in estats or other more common planars. I experimented with larger ear cups, and wider openings and those diminished the highs. I also experimented with various reflective materials which accentuated the highs a bit but at the risk of sounding too echoy. I had several former customers that I trust try the HPs and provide me feedback, and many were enamored with them, and did experiments themselves. One customer even put them in a temperature and humidity chamber, and dunked them in water, let them dry, measured them before and after etc..


    Another thing to note is the “flex” sound due to the “stiffness” of the drivers for example. This can happen as you adjust them and so on, and it doesn’t bother some people, and some people may find it a nuisance. Again, I try and provide something that big companies won’t do. Same with my long standing HiveX, it is an absolutely stellar HP based on 2-3 years of customer feedback – even though it has the “sticking” phenomenon that required customer education on my site. This is a risk the big companies won’t take with estats for example, so they tension the drivers even more, and you don’t have sticking, but you don’t have much bass either. It’s all a tradeoff. So I went the same philosophy with the Bee. The thicker driver makes it physically harder to move, so a 1.7W or more amp is recommended for best results. I use the Topping A90 with a balanced cable, and I’ve noticed, and customers have noticed, is they scale very very effortlessly with a powerful amplifier and just sound great. They don’t fatigue, they sound lush, and you can really rock out with them IMO.


    Finally, I have had frustrations with other HPs I’ve tried such as channel imbalance or dead drivers. I mostly have an affinity for other HPs that are “DIY’d”. But saw some mistakes such as using pure copper wire directly on aluminum serpentine traces, which will cause galvanic corrosion and dead drivers. I don’t do this sort of thing, and the Bee should be very robust. Time will tell though and I always try and improve and support my customers the best I can.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Best wishes,
    Sajeev Ranasinghe | Owner | Maker
    Nectar Sound Research, LLC
    www.nectarsound.net
    Instagram: @nectarsoundnet
     
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  6. khbaur330162

    khbaur330162 Rando

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    This is what I was keying into for my observation. Some of the traces run directly underneath the magnets. I can only conclude the magnets are Audeze style with the polarization through the width of the magnet as opposed to Hifiman style which is through the thickness. I wonder if this design style increases the magnetic field strength at the diaphragm or if it's all the same. Interesting design choice.

    Thanks @Philimon for clearing that up. Really cool correspondence with Sajeev.
     
  7. ShaneD

    ShaneD Acquaintance

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    These sound Really interesting! I have tried various planar's and have been disappointed with every one, except for my HE6se V2's. And they are Really amp specific.

    Was not at all impressed with Monoprice M570's, M1570's, T60RP's/T60 Argon's, Audeze Classic's, Oppo PM3's, HE 4XX's and MassDrop Edition XX's.

    I will have to do more reading about these. I have calmed down my buying and been working at selling stuff, but I can always make room for something interesting. :D
     
  8. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    [​IMG]

    Nectar Bee Short Review

    Opening
    I’ve been long curious about Sajeev’s ortho headphones, Bee, as I was very fond of his electrostatic headphones, Hive. Thanks to the SBAF loaner program, I could finally spend a few days listening to various music with them seriously.

    Associated Gears
    In my evaluation, I mainly used X18/M500.3 D/A converters and a bunch of affordable or semi-affordable amps, including Piety (loaner), M500.3 (hp out), HO200, ZenCan Sig, Liquid Gold X (loaner), and LA90.

    Pads
    The loaner unit came with two sets of pads: solid/angled pads and perforated/flat pads. I used the perforated pads for this review because the solid pads I got had a minor issue (one velcro piece missing on one side of the pads). I’ll post the addendum once I fix it and give them another listen.

    Although velcro is not an ideal way to attach pads (allowing slight leaks), I could not hear any amplitude loss or phase errors in bass. Perhaps Bee’s drivers have higher tolerance against suboptimal seals.

    Subjective Evaluation
    The first moment impression of the Bee was dark and lush sounding, which reminded me of a very early revision of LCD2 (prior to r2.2; can’t exactly remember which revision though) or an early iteration of ESX900.

    Let me first talk about good things. Bee has one of the heftiest bass I have heard from orthos: realistic and heavy feeling only obtainable from big mass movement (i.e., tradeoffs with sacrifices in upper registers). Assuming properly driven, the bass really felt deep and heavy. Kick drums and double basses had exceptional weights. Great pipe organ reproductions, too. Lower midrange was also beautiful without being over-bled into by the bass. There were good bodies and meats easily audible across various genres and instruments/voices. Vocals occasionally sounded a bit nasal or unclear but acceptibly so.

    However, in the other half of the spectrum, Bee became quite recessed. While some might think their upper midrange was still romantic or sweet, I’d say at least they had lots of room to be improved. The main issue is they’re too dark and efforts to bring up presence sparkles (i.e., what modern dark sounding headphones like LCD-X are tuned like) are almost none, which combinedly cause them to be fairly dull in mids and highs. To a Harman-head like me, drums generally lacked power and finesse, guitars were not snappy enough, and piano/vocals lacked presence.

    Technicality-wise, I’d say Bee is right up there with the latest Sundara, Verum-1, or LCD2 Classic. Bass is obviously well articulated and delineated to the extent they can punch up the price point. However, the insufficient energy level in mids/highs imposed on me nontrivial troubles in hearing details or nuances in upper spectrums. Attacks in transient were round and also seemed to be confounded by the highs. Soundstage was on the narrower and shallower side.

    It’s quite interesting that the tuning direction of the Bee is greatly different from that of Hive. Hive was much sharper and brighter in the treble. They also had more neutral tonality. Hive’s bass was good for estats but not as hefty as orthos. Hive+Bee can be a great complementary combo to cover a large range of flavors and I’m suspecting Bee was designed this way on purpose.

    Amplification
    Like I stated above, I tested a bunch of amps I had in the house. I am inspired to say the Bee is a bit sensitive to the way they are driven. They sounded fine and loud with any amps I tested but a little extra current made them begin to sing. Specific pairing results below:
    • Piety (unbal in, unbal out): Not enough juice, too loose sounding for my taste
    • HO200 (bal in, bal out) / M500.3 hp out (bal out): Acceptable but a bit too dry sounding
    • Zen Can Signature (bal in, bal out): Acceptable, mildly juicy, but still loose sounding
    • Liquid Gold X (bal in, bal out): Good power and a bit more fun and aggressiveness added to the final sound, the best tonal matching
    • LA90 (2ch integrated amp; bal in bal out): Moderately rich and juicy, if not richer than LGX. Perhaps a bit on the polite side. Effortlessly resolving.
    I ended up spending most of my listening time with LGX and LA90. These two clearly stood up over the rest.

    Measurements
    My measurements were taken with the MiniDSP EARS at 95db SPL at 300 Hz, Please note that my frequency responses are averaged results based on 5 different positions (center/up/down/front/back) to control positional variance. Results from optimal positioning might differ even with the same measurement fixture/rig.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Conclusion
    All things considered, I’d repeat what @ChaChaRealSmooth concluded: Bee is not a bad pair of headphones. However, as they have very clear pros and cons, recommendations should be made carefully. If you like classic Audeze sound (not LCD2 classic!) or are a hardcore basshead, you’d better give them a shot. This applies to those who want to add bass specialist cans to complement neutral or bright headphones they own.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 21, 2023
  9. ShaneD

    ShaneD Acquaintance

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    I heard a couple of pairs of LCD-2's in the past and never liked them. In spite of that I went out and bought a pair of LCD2-Classic's. Another bland headphone that needs lots of EQ.

    I am really interested in these at $499.00. I like the bass from my various Focals and my iBasso SR2's. The CFA Cascades are a little overkill but fun for a few days. The HE6se V2's are a ton of fun, but require EQ from my amp.

    It would be nice to find a bassy headphone that didn't require EQ and was relatively clear. I am not a treble fan (says the Grado owner) so I wouldn't miss any soft top end action.
     
  10. ShaneD

    ShaneD Acquaintance

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    I spoke with Sajeev today via email. Seems like a nice guy and actually has one Bee finished and ready to go. Mmmmmm.

    I am still in the process of selling some stuff, so really wasn't planning on buying anything in the very near future. But I wonder if these could replace the Cascades as my little bass monsters?
     
  11. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Friend

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    Do they take EQ well? The way that FR looks, it seems like you could almost get away with just sticking a high shelf filter on around 2k and just raise the entire upper spectrum by a few db to get a little more neutral response. It looks like everything has been fairly evenly shelved down.
     
  12. ShaneD

    ShaneD Acquaintance

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    I just ordered a set tonight. They are leaving tomorrow. US Postal service Georgia to Halifax, NS (Canada). I am thinking a week to ten days, maybe more.

    A little excited!:punk:
     
  13. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    Yes, their fr doesn't have sudden or narrow peak/dip. A simple shelving filter did justice. I didn't try out loki but I'm pretty sure 4 or 6 band analog eq will also work very effectively.
     
  14. ShaneD

    ShaneD Acquaintance

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    Hey, I have one of those (Loki).:D

    Maybe I will try it after initial testing. I really don't EQ anymore and was going to sell it, but we'll see what happens.
     
  15. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    So, this is the follow-up I promised. I purchased velcro tapes and reworked the attaching pieces for both sides of the solid pads. While this didn't bring as big improvement as I looked forward to seeing, but they mildly sounded better to me than before.

    I still prefer perforated pads as solid pads make the sound a bit more nasal and claustrophobic. But this is probably a matter of personal preference. Indeed, the two pads didn't sound that much different. Measurements below.

    [​IMG]


    PS. And here is the comparison between before and after.

    [​IMG]
     

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