Subjective review of the M1060 by comparing to the HD 650

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by Junki, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. Junki

    Junki Acquaintance

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    This is a revision and update to a review that I posted on Reddit a couple of weeks ago.

    My background

    I like my music to sound good, but I don't label myself as an "audiophile." A snapshot of where I stand: I prefer my music lossless but sampled in 16-bits at 44.1KHz; besides microphonics, audio cables do not make a sonic impact to the ears of human beings; and vinyl is neither truer, more faithful, nor better at reproducing recorded audio.

    Setup

    Source: 16-bit 44.1 KHz
    DAC/Amp: Audio-gd NFB 11.28, which is the ES9028Pro DAC coupled with a Class A current conveyor amp.
    M1060: Modded with Audeze vegan pads, fuzzor mod, and cskippy's 3" two-ply paper towel mod.
    HD650: Stock

    Bass (20 - 250Hz)

    The M1060's bass is excellent to my ears. The sub-bass is emotional, satisfyingly textured, and very well extended, and the rest of the bass spectrum is creamy, controlled, and relatively directionless, which I prefer. In some electronic tracks, I noticed the DJ doing flips and turns in the sub-bass that is nigh undetectable in the HD650. Bass is probably one of the two things the M1060 does really well.

    The HD650's bass is nothing to seriously complain about... Overall, I find it extended enough and present enough. There is that noticeable roll off below 100 Hz that you all know about, and upper bass is much punchier, less emotional, leaner, more analytical, and much less directionless. Also, I do find the mid-bass on the HD650 a tad boomy on balance.

    Midrange (250Hz - 4KHz)

    When it comes to midrange, I'd say the HD650 is a step more forward than my M1060 with current mods. The M1060's midrange sounds slightly drier than on the HD650; the nuances of vocals blend together and sound smoother on the HD650, while on the M1060 those nuances are more separated and thereby produce a slightly grainier sound.

    When it comes to tonality and timbre, the HD650 is incredible. Voices and instruments sound like how they ought to sound with a sense of dimensionality and space to it all. I believe part of that is due to the HD650's neutral midrange FR and part of it is due to the headphone's excellent dynamics. With my current mods, the M1060's midrange tonality is also very good but just short of the HD650. However, the M1060's headstage is quite flat and this lack of depth makes it underperform when it comes to dynamics. Listening to the immediate BANG on Artillery by Infected Mushroom conveys this difference really well to me.

    Overall, I cannot overstate just how amazingly natural the HD650 sounds. Listening to the acoustic guitar plucks at the beginning of Pasion by Sarah Brightman, for example, is just breathtaking. The HD650 makes my M1060 sound almost artificial by comparison. I have a feeling this has something to do with the physics of planar vs. dynamic drivers, but I'm not sure.

    Presence (4-6 Khz)

    From the midrange into the presence spectrum, the HD650 produces natural, smooth, laid back treble. The M1060 struggles here. There are certain frequencies that seem to just be missing, and this is especially evident on Evergreen by Mree, where her higher vocals lack texture (and thereby sound more euphoric than natural) and then ghost into...not quite nothingness but close? I'm not entirely sure how to describe it. Switch over to the HD650 and she immediately sounds like a human being again, and her entire performance snaps into focus and becomes much more cohesive. On the other hand, there are other frequencies in this spectrum that on the M1060 touch the harshness threshold. This is evident on Wonderful Wonderful by The Killers, where some of the distorted guitar and effect sections start to hurt.

    Brilliance (6Khz+)

    Both headphones produce laid back treble here, with the HD650 sounding more dimensional and hence more natural. I don't consider either to be veiled, however, as I find there to be plenty of detail and resolution.

    Soundstage & Imaging

    The HD650 has a realistic soundstage with decent imaging. When the music gets busy, everything can sound a little crammed and muddled, but on simpler tracks, I hear solid separation and layering of instruments and vocals.

    The M1060 is...strange. The M1060's soundstage is often described as "in your head" or "behind your head", and I think that's accurate. Its headstage is also very much left-or-right, with a lack of center and pretty much zero depth. However, the 106mm ortho drivers' technical prowess in speed and instrument separation is excellent compared to the HD650. I have listened to my M1060 for over two months now and I still often catch myself thinking that I am noticing sounds I shouldn't be noticing when listening on these. And while the HD650 will image distant sounds to sound, well, distant, the lack of headstage depth on the M1060 allows its sounds to exist all right next to your ears, unmuddied, each on its own plate. In addition, this all-the-sound-is-here phenomenon means the air on the M1060 is amazing. On certain tracks, especially in the chillout and electronic genres, there is a sublime, euphoric presence that drapes ever so delicately, enveloping the music, that on the HD650 would be so far away that it may as well have dissipated.

    Overall

    At the end of the day, I am quite fond of my M1060. It's obviously imperfect, but its funkiness in the presence region, while coloring the music, does give the headphones character. Its exceptional performance in instrument separation, air, speed, slam, and emotional impact in the low end, all of which I think are due to the physics of planars, sets it apart from other headphones at and around its price point. In some use cases (i.e. electronic/synth music, non-competitive games, cinema) it is the superior headphone to the HD650. However, in use cases that more involve natural sounds for which we as human beings have expectations (i.e. real world instruments, vocals, also cinema) or endeavors that demand a certain level of seriousness (i.e. evaluating another headphone, competitive gaming), the HD650 is clearly the better choice.

    In the end, the M1060 excels in some areas but also suffers from some idiosyncrasies, while the HD650 simply produces wonderfully natural, dimensional sound without offense.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
  2. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    Very nice review, you articulated your perspective and preferences well. Did you notice any differences good or bad with the Fuzzor mod installed? I assume you mean felt and not the "Fazor" elements that are getting shipped out by the 3D printing guys.
     
  3. Junki

    Junki Acquaintance

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    Thanks for your compliment! I do mean the felt, and I did not really notice a difference, because I did not A/B test it, because... well it just involved a lot of measuring, cutting, and taping. I recall DMS3TV recommending the Audeze Vegans and the fuzzor mod in unison, with both aiming to reduce the 5KHz ringing and general treble schizophrenia. However, I believe the Audeze pads does most of the work there with the fuzzor mod providing a smaller, incremental benefit.

    Your 3" paper towel mod worked wonders to eliminate a very audible 500Hz - 1.5KHz bump that was making the stock midrange sound too nasally, compressed, and artificial to me, so thanks for that.
     
  4. k4rstar

    k4rstar Sad on the inside

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    Interesting statement to put in a "my background" section, especially considering both conclusions are false. Don't put this in your Tinder profile.
    This is the function of your source gear more so than the transducer. Otherwise you covered the overt differences between the two well.
     

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