Sonoma Acoustics - New player?

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by AllanMarcus, Sep 24, 2016.

  1. dBel84

    dBel84 Friend

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    I spent some time at RMAF listening to these and chatting to the folk. Technology is pretty cool - simple printed metalized film , single sided stator with a bias voltage of 1300V. Very compact system. Before I had spoken to any of the folk at the table, I thought it was an electret system based on my past experience with electrets. I think there is hope for this product but it is not up to the standard of the TOTL stat gear out there. It has a lot of high frequency energy and "air" , vocals are a little forward but it lacks coherent bass. Take this for what it is - one person's impressions on a noisy showroom floor. .dB
     
  2. Tyll Hertsens

    Tyll Hertsens Grandpappy of the hobby - Special Friend

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    That's exactly the thing: The tonality seems spot on. It has problems with distortion at high volume levels, especially in the bass. Less of a problem with the USB in but can be problematic with high (distortion) or low (can't get enough volume) analog input levels. Not quite the resolution of TOTL gear---it's kind of like how texture glass can improve viewing of images due to glare reduction but can fog fine details---but as Hands said, it basically just sounds right. While other e-stats may be better resolving they aren't as tonally correct...and that's the more important factor, in my view. Really a pleasant listening experience.

    Details in the review. Review should be up Monday or Tuesday...I'm impressed.

    Measurements: https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/SonomaModel1.pdf
     
  3. fraggler

    fraggler A Happy & Busy Life

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    I spent a few minutes listening to the system at Axpona and thought they were not bad, but terrible for the price. I agree that the tonality was good, but there was a distinct lack of clarity on my set. I didn't think it sounded much better than my Fulla2 feeding my modded HD650s. I'm sure they were probably better than that, but after a few songs, I just didn't feel compelled to listen any longer. I do feel bad that I laughed a little too out loud when I heard the price.
     
  4. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    That looks surprisingly similar to the Hifiman Edition X, another headphone that I thought did well with overall tone (but, sadly, suffered at high volumes).
     
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  5. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    Sonoma-Gus from HF brought his set to the Denver meet, as well as a load of DSD music, some of which I think he help master. Good stuff.

    Two things popped out at me with these headphones. 1) very impactful bass. I had an opportunity to listen to some 007 and 009 stax though a blue Hawaii at the Albuquerque meet a few weeks ago, and the sonomas certainly provide for very dynamic and impactful bass

    2) clamping force was pretty high on the noggin.

    Over all the Sonoma was very enjoyable.
     
  6. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    I'm still not comfortable with the mandatory DSP thing, with its own DAC. That would seem to put a very rigid ceiling on sound quality right away. Designing good-sounding headphones is, admittedly, hard- but fudging it in DSP really does feel like a cop-out and reminds me of the crazy world of my old Bose QC25.

    (Did they fix the gain yet? When I heard them, they had to be cranked pretty hard to be listenable.)
     
  7. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    Nope. Had to turn them up quite a bit.
     
  8. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Weird, the unit I heard at RMAF, I don't recall a gain issue.
     
  9. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    It's not as much as issue as the pot is linear (I think), so you have to turn it to like 2 or 3 o'clock to get some decent volume. The headphones got plenty loud for me, but I did feel there was very little headroom left.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  10. JimL

    JimL Tongues KG's hairy starfish for fun

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    Haven't heard the sound, so no comments on that. However, based on their literature, the driver is single-ended, unlike other electrostatics, which are push-pull (stators on both sides of the diaphragm), or for that matter, planar magnetics, which are also push-pull (magnets on both sides of the diaphragm). In fact the only single-ended drivers on the market I can think of are Magneplanars. The potential issue with single-ended is that they tend to produce 2nd order distortion, so some of the DSP they are using may be to compensate for that, but would have to ask the manufacturer if that is the case. Also incompatible with any electrostatic amps out there since they are all balanced push-pull, with half the voltage going to each stator.

    A couple other points. On cost, Sonoma uses Sabre DAC chip, so it doesn't make sense to compare costs using a Yggdrasil, which is a proprietary R2R DAC. Also, in terms of Stax headphones, the SR-007 MK II is a viable alternative to SR009 - some prefer one, some prefer the other, and the 007 costs about 2k rather than close to 4k, which alters the price balance to some degree.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2017
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  11. mdr30

    mdr30 Rando

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    Single end Abyss
     
  12. JimL

    JimL Tongues KG's hairy starfish for fun

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    I stand corrected. The Abyss is indeed single-ended, and as Tyll's InnerFidelity review notes, it does seem to produce more 2nd harmonic distortion compared to an Audeze LCD-3 - close to 1% at 100 dB and 500 Hz.
     
  13. Tyll Hertsens

    Tyll Hertsens Grandpappy of the hobby - Special Friend

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    Yeah, there's a number of single ended PMs. Can't remember which ones exactly, but there are lots of configurations.
     
  14. Xecuter

    Xecuter Brush and floss your amp twice a day

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    Yeh those measurements never lined up for me. Hopefully we see a second set and a phi comparison down the track.
     
  15. Tyll Hertsens

    Tyll Hertsens Grandpappy of the hobby - Special Friend

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  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Anything regarding Audeze measurements may not necessarily be repeatable. I got significantly better distortion results across the spectrum with an old LCD2R2 compared to a Fazor LCD-X. See measurements on the site. It sounded that way too. The Abyss has fantastic distortion from 50 to 150Hz, really where the bulk of the bass resides with most music.

    All current production HFM headphones use SE magnets with the exception of the Susvara. The HEK has fantastic measurements in terms of distortion. In theory, the SE planars should not measure as well, but it's all in the implementation.
     
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  17. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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  18. JimL

    JimL Tongues KG's hairy starfish for fun

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    Hmm, Tyll's review quotes Sonoma as stating that they do use DSP for correcting distortion in the single-ended drivers, although at 500 Hz and 95 dB, 2nd harmonic distortion is about 1%. Of interest, the THD measurements show a decrease below 200 Hz - possibly DSP is correcting distortion below that frequency?
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  19. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    Looks like the FR lines up very nicely with the non-defective Focal Utopias, but with a smoother treble.
     
  20. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Derived clocks? Interesting.
     

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