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Yes another HD590 vs HD600 question - Page 4

post #46 of 159
Lou,

Contact Tangent or Eric343.

Regards, Luke.
post #47 of 159
Having not heard the 590 (I blew my chance at the Headroom meet, even though that was my "homework assignment" from bkelly ), I can't comment specifically on them, but I would like to hypothesize a little bit:

1. Headphone newbie goes to Headroom show, sees the 590's attached to a sign that sez, "man do these suck!", puts them on his head then decides that this must be the definition of headphones that suck. This sound, whatever its qualities, must be what is meant by "bad headphones". Besides, Headroom (well actually one set of ears-- Tyll's), who are THE experts on headphones are telling me they suck, ergo they suck. "The HD600 is better?" OK, their sound MUST be the definition of "good headphones". Newbie walks out with the HD600.

2. Experienced headphoner with his HD600s and expensive amp and aftermarket cable, picks up the 590 and immediately notices their increased treble response. Ouch! he thinks. This doesn't sound like my trusty HD600s that I know like the back of my hand, it can't be *right*, and after all, if the HD600 is known for only one thing, it's that it's sound is *right*, right? Well that's what so many people at Head-Fi believe, and that's why I invested a lot of my hard-earned money in them. I'm not a chump am I? Experienced headphoner walks away, secure in the knowledge that his 600s are better.

3. People "complain" that the CD3K is "too bright". Well, I say that the HD600 is too "dim and woolly". Perhaps the reactions to these phones treble is simply due to the fact that so many ears have become accustomed to listening to the rolled off wooly HD600. Anything else sounds too "bright" in comparison, causing a knee-jerk reaction against them. Now, in my review of the CD3K, I freely admitted that the treble *approaches* a level where it could become bothersome to some listeners (but a good tube amp like the ZOTL sure helps). That indeed is that phone's primary flaw. Nothing at that price is flawless, certainly not the HD600 or HD590.

Now I'm not saying that anyone who likes the HD600 is "wrong", or even subject to any of the scenarios above. I simply pose some hypotheticals to think about.

bkelly is a very recent convert to headphones. I am somewhat responsible for encouraging him to dive into our world, which he has done with gusto. He had no history here on the boards, had never read the endless debates about this or that phone, and went to the Headroom tour with almost no pre-conceptions.

He walked out with a pair of HD590s. I suspect this is an under-respected phone around here, though again I have not heard them myself. Obviously Sennheiser intended them to be a replacement for the 580 (if not the 600), so they must think highly of it. Did they really "goof" with its creation, or is it in fact an advance over the HD580/600 with better, more extended frequency response? Have their ears deteriorated since they first designed the 580/600? Well, it's possible, but....

markl
post #48 of 159
If I take what I consider 3 of the most neutral and detailed headphones that exist, namely the Sennheiser Orpheus, the Stax Signature, and the Etymotic ER4, and compare the two headphones in question (as I did just 3 weeks ago at the SLC headroom show) the HD600 clearly is the most neutral (although not really in the same league IMO), with the HD590 not even in the same ballpark. I own many Sennheiser headphones, and if anything I am biased toward Sennheiser, so it's not like I went to the show hoping the HD590s would sound similar to my HD570s. In fact I expected them to sound closer to neutral than the HD570s with some added brightness, but really they had the exact signature sound as my HD570s with more details and a little smoother treble. It was a disappointment really, since I love the comfort and single sided cord. So while the HD590 may be enjoyable headphones to some people, I don't consider them to be very neutral, which is what I'm after. And its not like I think the HD600 is the best thing since sliced bread either, I'm saving up for Stax and Etymotic which I think are both better. For $200, however, I just haven't seen any competition for HD580/HD600.

Quote:
Seriously, you don't suppose that the boomy bass you experienced was the result of designing the Headroom amps to accentuate the weak bottom end on the 600's. As far as bright goes when you plug the 590 into an amp that was designed to accentuate the rolled off top end of the 600's what might be the result if the 590's top end was, as I suspect, more correct. Even from here I can see lights are going off!
The Headroom Home amp doesn't have an extra hefty or strong bottom end in comparison to my reference (Corda) or the higher-end Headroom Amps which use a different opamp. Nor are any of the Headroom amps the least bit bright, rather I would call them dark if anything. The Headroom amps are definitely not built to accentuate the rolled off top end of the 600s, I don't think I've ever heard a Headroom amp called bright. Now the Corda on the other hand...
post #49 of 159
Taphil,

Once again I appreciate hearing your commenty but I am a littel baffled since you have and like the 590's but you are clearly experiencing different results from them. First off, and the biggest shock is your obsevation that instruments sound more natural on the 600's. This blows me away since I am a musicain with an extensive recording background and the sound I hear coming from the 600's is really damped down and short on dynamics. There is no pick noise or drumstick hits and the added effects have left the building. I could see where a person might argue that the 590's are a little to "hot" for their personal tastes but that's about it.

I also see from your profile you dig Rock and you list Metal so I am assuming you like fairly dynamic stuff and this is where the 590's have a slight problem. To me they are much better on less aggressive music. If the source material is real dynamic the 590's can sometimes seem to lose control of that kind of material and get a bit much to listen to. On more moderate material or accoustic jazz the 590's come to life in a big way for me.

Every week I sit next all accoustic players and perform live music. I even have commercial recordings with some of these same players playing their own personal instruments which I am very familiar with. I haven't truthfully sat down and listened to these recocordings with the two different headsets but I might just for another test.

I let my wife listen to the two of these headphones and asked her which one she liked best. She shocked me when she picked the 600's since she has been around the recording industry for years and is very knowledgeable about this is stuff. When I asked her why she choose the 600 she said it was because they were easier to listen to. When I said I thought I liked the 590's better she said that she was not surprised because she thought the 590 were quite a bit more accurate and more suitable for musicians and recording professionals.

This brings me to a point; and that is that I think there are a lot of peole in the audiophile community who say they like accurate reproduction but really don't and really have no idea of what it sounds like. What these people like is a pleasant, sophisticated presentation that makes them feel like they got their moneys worth. It may be loud and it may be dramatic but it's all covered with a sophisticated wine sauce to make them feel like it is really gourmet.
I think this is what is meant sometimes by neutral sounding. Everything is covered in the same wine souce. Nothing sticks out as distinctive.
I hate to say it but that is not the way recordings are done. Everything is on max at the studio even if it is a pleasant peice of music.

I'll leave you with this, "if you create art that cannot possibly offend it will often fail to inspire". Believe it or not this is a quotation by Mick Jagger that has stuck with me my whole life because it is so true and it completely explains my difficilties with the 600's. They are engineered to spread a little wine sauce on everything that passes through them.

Talk soon.

Once again I appreciate your comments. I now wonder what part my amp is playing in this. I just don't know that.





Best
Brian
post #50 of 159
I disagree with bkelly's assessment of the HD600. I find that its presentation of music is quite realistic; when I listen to solo violin stuff, it sounds like the way a lone violinist sounds in real life in a concert hall. I should know-- I've been playing violin for the most part of my life. If it got any brighter than this, this would sound more like listening to a violin right under your ear-- not the most pleasant way to hear music, although I'm very used to it by now.

I'm not listening through a headroom amp, by the way. (It's a slightly modded Corda HA-1)
post #51 of 159
[QUOTE]Originally posted by bkelly

Quote:
This blows me away since I am a musicain with an extensive recording background and the sound I hear coming from the 600's is really damped down and short on dynamics. There is no pick noise or drumstick hits and the added effects have left the building. I could see where a person might argue that the 590's are a little to "hot" for their personal tastes but that's about it.
I know what you mean. I think this is what people critisize the 580/600 for being "veiled". It's said to lack the clarity with highs, but it's not so bright compared to the 590. Better cables supposedly fix that. But with the lows, I can't stress enough how much better the detail is with the 600.

Quote:
I also see from your profile you dig Rock and you list Metal so I am assuming you like fairly dynamic stuff and this is where the 590's have a slight problem. To me they are much better on less aggressive music. If the source material is real dynamic the 590's can sometimes seem to lose control of that kind of material and get a bit much to listen to. On more moderate material or accoustic jazz the 590's come to life in a big way for me.
Yep! It totally depends on the album and how it was recorded as to which headphone I use. Some stuff sounds better on one, and other stuff sounds better on the other. People here recommind the 590's for rock and metal, but sometimes the 590 is just way too bright and aggressive that the more neutral 600's sound better precisely because they don't add any coloration (brightness and over-emphasized lows) to the music.

Quote:
This brings me to a point; and that is that I think there are a lot of peole in the audiophile community who say they like accurate reproduction but really don't and really have no idea of what it sounds like. What these people like is a pleasant, sophisticated presentation that makes them feel like they got their moneys worth. It may be loud and it may be dramatic but it's all covered with a sophisticated wine sauce to make them feel like it is really gourmet.
I wouldn't say that. It's more a matter of personal preference and what a person wants to get out of their music. Experts will point out that in testing, the 580/600 have a flat response and are therefore neutral, whereas the 590 is not.

BTW, my observations and perceptions are only that. I'm new to the audio world, all of my gear was purchased over the last 7 months. Also, I read all the reviews for the 580/590/600. I had the 590 for a few months, and then decided to get the 600. When I first got the 600 and let it burn in, I was really kind of disappointed with them. They sounded all right, but I didn't feel any big hoopla for them, especially when they were $100 more expensive. Honestly, I though they didn't sound as good as the 590 at first. Then I upgraded the op-amp on my META42, and immediately I noticed a big improvement with the 600. The music opened up, music became more lively and musical, and everything just sounded better. So now, I slightly prefer the 600 over the 590, but still think the 590 is an excellent headphone ONLY when matched with the proper amp and music, or better overall without an amp.
post #52 of 159
lly had no idea of how much detail there was on that recording. I have since heard it with the 600's and the air, ambience and detail just disappear.

Taphil and I agree on one thing very important and that is contrary to what is said around Head-Fi the 590's may be more suitable for less agressive music than the 600's.

By the way, what style of music do you play? Do you like Vengerov? He is probably my absolute favorite musician even though I play jazz rather than classical music. I am going either to New York or Chicago to see him perform this year.

Taphil, once again many of your comments are dead on with my experience. I forget that I use a Stefan AUdio Arts cable on mine and this may be why I do not notice the bass boominess you are talking about. If you would I would like to send you my cable to try on your phones just to get your thoughts on the differences you hear.

I pay close attention to the META 42 transformation since others feel the same way about it. If you would email me and let me know about how much yours cost to get that kind of result I would appreciate it because, as you know, you can spend a wide variety of money on one of them depending on what you get in the way of components.

By the way, have you heard the 590's on the Nine Inch Nails new DVD. I liked that!
post #53 of 159
I play classical. Vengerov's okay, sometimes his antics are a little cheap. Ever seen him do the Sabre Dance for an encore, making obscene faces for the crowd? That's not very classy, IMHO. I do appreciate that he tries to put some life into music, though, unlike so many young violinists today who play like machines. If you want to hear classy violin playing get yourself an old recording of Oistrakh or Stern. Oistrakh playing Brahms concerto... Wow, that's the stuff.

Oh yes, there's another thing HD600s are nice for: listening to old recordings. I do a lot of that, as a lot of the greatest musicians ever are all long gone. I'm sure they'd be absolutely unbearable on those "detailed" 590s.
post #54 of 159
I've never seen him at all other than on DVD and video. I want to very badly as I really love his playing. I love his sound and his version of the 1st Prokoviev Vioin Concerto is the best I have ever heard and I bet I've heard twenty of them so far. Only a version I have by Erick Friedman comes close. For years that was my favorite.

Oistrakh would be my second favorite and that might be unfair because Vengerov to me sounds heavily influenced by him much more than any other violinist I can think of. Of course, as I say, this is not my field so I coud be way off on this.

Issac Stern is another favorite. My mother absolutely loved him. My sister just had his version of Ave Maria playing in the background at her wedding. It's so beautiful it was distracting for me.

Anyhow, on to the phone controversy. You are right, there is no way I would use the 590's on older recordings. The softer sound of the 600's would be a real plus in that instance.

By the way, if Vengerov comes to play in your town let me know I may come see both of you.
post #55 of 159
Yes, Vengerov sure know how to (most of the time) find just the right tone colour for a given piece. I remember he did quite an admirable job on the Prokofieff as you mentioned, but the Shostakovich Concerto No. 1 (which is on the same CD) leaves something to be desired. (I'm working on that very piece, by the way)
His tone in the first movement is much too airy and light for the subject matter. It has to be so agonizingly painful.. the darkest emotions possible have to be summoned here. The difficult thing, I find, is finding the balance between this and keeping the music moving, particularly in the middle section which is quite a bit more turbulent than the outer sections of the movement. Otherwise it gets too draggy and boring. I find Oistrakh found just the right balance... Vengerov's interpretation was quite franky boring.
The second movement has to be oh-so evil and demonic, yet Vengerov chooses a relatively leisurely tempo which greatly takes away from the needed effect. He uses an ABSURDLY scratchy sound, which is unnecessary. I agree that you of course shouldn't play it with a gorgeous tone; Oistrakh described the movement as being "evil, pricky, demonic" or something to that extent. But what Vengerov does is a little over the edge. He seems too preoccupied with getting that harsh sound while forgetting to make long driving phrases that Oistrakh does so well... Vengerov chops it into little bits, almost phrasing bar-by-bar, and combined with the sluggish tempo, this creates a very slow, unexciting experience. I think this movement has to verge on pure chaos, particularly the middle theme that is oh-so catchy (one you've hear it once, you'll hear it in your head for the rest of the day, guaranteed), where again Vengerov takes a slowish tempo. When a piece is as repetitive as this movement, the phrases have to be loooong in order to maintain the audience's interest.
Now the "funeral march".. the passacaglia (3rd movement)... Oh my I absolutely love this movement! Vengerov begins the movement gorgeously (strikingly similar to Oistrakh in ways) but he really could've afforded to get more passionate and intense later in the movement. A little more desperation, a little more pain. It's a little too mild sometimes. I feel that Oistrakh is far more creative with the phrasing again in this movement, giving it a sense of cohesiveness; one section flows seamlessly into the next, while Vengerov makes these seams too clear. In the octaves, it is very difficult to get any sort of phrase going as Vengerov demonstrates, but it was no problem for Oistrakh.
You get the idea. I just feel that Vengerov still hasn't found the necessary depth of insight required to play this piece. In my view, it's a far more profound piece than the Prokofieff.
Ok, I'm stopping to go get lunch...
SORRY FOR VEERING TOTALLY OFF TOPIC!
post #56 of 159
Thread Starter 

Veering back on topic!

Well, I have listened extensively to the 590s for the past few nights, along with the PortaPros that came in over the weekend.

I have decided to return the 590s. They are nice headphones, but I can see what a lot of the people in favor of the 580/600s are saying. I noticed what seem to me to be a slightly exaggerated treble and kind of a boomy base. As some of the previous posts pointed out, it is worse on certain albums than on others. Even though I hear these are more efficient than the 600s, they still need an amp.

The PortaPros, while obviously not in the same league as the 590s, are great little phones. For the $32 I spent, these are great for my puttering around in and have quite respectable sound. Unlike the 590s, these do not need an amp on the NJB3.

Now the next step will be to try out a 600 with an amp. I won't bother without an amp since if the more efficient 590s don't cut it for my ears without an amp, I'm sure the 600s won't either.

I am debating about a Corda HA-1 or one of the HeadRoom amps. It is kind of confusing on which route to go with the HeadRoom without spending a fortune. The Little seems to have a decent entry price with a few decent upgrade options. What exactly is the Premium module? There is not a description on the web site for it. To add the premium and more power really does jack the price up though. The 600 + the HA-1 for $525 from meier is pretty tempting and much cheaper than the barebones Little route, though with no upgrade route. What about the Creek? Any more advice?

Thanks!

Rich
post #57 of 159
Richpjr,

I have the Creek OBH-11 driving my HD580's and I'm very happy with that combo. I think Creek is a nice amp. I heard the really expensive offerings from headroom and whereas they're slightly clearer , more detailed and neutral than Creek, they don't justify the price difference. I heard the Max, which is the $1500 amp from headroom. It's nice, but it's not 10 times nicer than Creek. I'd say that it's about a 15-20% performance increase over the OBH-11, which I got for $150. Others may disagree.

Many folks here are going ga-ga over the Meta42 amp. I haven't heard it, so I don't know how good it is. However, keep in mind that Meta42 is a kit devised by a bunch of guys on this forum, so you're not dealing with a reputable company. However, because Meta42 amps are custom made, you can spend as little or as much as you like on it and customize it right down to the transistors. Who knows, these guys may actually know what they're doing and this may be the best amp for the money (I think the top of the line model goes for about $250). Then again, maybe not. If you have $250 to burn, take a chance and see if you like it. It could turn out to be the best $250 you've ever spent.

Else, I would highly recommend the Creek, Musical Fidelity X-Can v2 or the Headroom products (not the best bang for the buck, but solid stuff).

PS. I haven't heard the Corda, so I can't comment on it, although it's rated consistently high.
post #58 of 159
Quote:
Originally posted by bifcake
I heard the Max, which is the $1500 amp from headroom. It's nice, but it's not 10 times nicer than Creek. I'd say that it's about a 15-20% performance increase over the OBH-11, which I got for $150. Others may disagree.
/me raises his hand

The Max is way, way, way, way, way more than 15-20% better than the Creek, provided the rest of your system is up to snuff.

As for the less expensive amps, after hearing them, I preferred the new Little and the META42 model I heard over the OBH-11. That's not to say it's not a good amp, because it is. I just preferred the others.


Quote:
Many folks here are going ga-ga over the Meta42 amp. I haven't heard it, so I don't know how good it is.


Quote:
However, keep in mind that Meta42 is a kit devised by a bunch of guys on this forum, so you're not dealing with a reputable company. [snip] Who knows, these guys may actually know what they're doing and this may be the best amp for the money (I think the top of the line model goes for about $250). Then again, maybe not.
The guys working on the META amps are long-time members of both this forum and the DIY community. If you haven't heard or seen a META amp in person, then how can you say these things? I personally have more faith in JMT, Tangent, Eric, etc. as a "reputable company" than some of the "real" audio companies out there. Ask anyone on these boards who has ever purchased an amp from one of these people if they've ever had a problem. And I know from experience (having heard a META) that they do know what they're doing. The META I heard was quite impressive (like I said, I liked it better than the Creek I heard the same day).
post #59 of 159
In response to one of the earlier threads about other headphone choices I went down and listened to the Grado 225's which I had never heard before. They have the same family of sound as the model 60's that I have heard but they are more detailed and much more sophisticated sounding. They have a coherency to the sound that many value. If you think the 590's as being to bright or agressive and the 600's as to soft sounding this might be an excellent choice and they do not need an amp.

Back to the real controversy. Yesterday I was talking with a top level audio equipment designer and were were talking about accuracy and he brought up one of the best points I can think of to explain why I think the 600's are off the mark. Although we weren't discussing the 590 vs 600 debate he said that many audiophiles believe in fantasy when it comes to audio accuracy and give themselves away as soon as they start discussoing the soundstage and how far they experience sitting from the actual performance. You've all heard this stuff and probably agreed to it appropriateness depending on your tastes but here is where this all goes wrong. You may feel like you were in the tenth row but in an accoustic recording the mikes were on the stage. Where is the extra 25 feet of space coming from. It is called "audio distortion" by my friend in that it is an effect created by the reproduction equipment it is not on the recording. It can't be. It wasn't ecorded like that!

Same with rock music. The mikes were right in front of the amps. They add reverb and tons of processing to make you believe something different is happening but isn't. They do use ambient mikes also but the primary sound you hear on a guitar recording is the result could be result of miking anywhere from 3 inches to 3 feet (they couuld be other possility too) since I've even miked the sound coming from the rear of the speakers before. The raockers even refer to it as "in your face" That's the way they want and that's the way it is recorded!

So, I don't disagree that the 600's are pleasant but what I am saying strongly is that the pleasantness you are experiencing (enjoying) is "udio distortion". It is not something that was on the recording. That's a fact. It may be acceptable to you and even desireable but it is not accurate and this IS what botheres me. If the 600's can add ten feet to the experience of the soundstage what else is it doing. Can you say AUDIO DISTORTION"? Coloring, perhaps? Possibly altering the timbre. You bet.

That is why I say that there is no way the timbre of the 600's is in any way accurate becaue it's not. It might be nice and you may favor it but don't kid yourself it's an illusion brought on by the headphones themselves.

I'm finishing up a professional recording with my daughter in few weeks and I will then test the two headphones on that recording for accuracy. Since I play on that record and I have heard her sax now for years I ought to be able to pick the winner for accuracy easily. We'll have her choose and maybe get the engineers in on the test.

To richjpr,

I am paying a lot of attention to this comment you make about the excessive bass. I just don't have it on my system. I don't know why. Both you and Taphil and others have made the same remark but it isn't true in my system with the Melos amp. Maybe it's the amp I don't know . I can sayfor sure that if mine was boomy or bloated I would know it since I am real sensitive about that kind of sound. I hate it.

Talk soon.
post #60 of 159
I'll agree that the 590's treble can be a little exaggerated, but I don't agree that its bass is "boomy". The first major thing I noticed in fact was how much tighter and in control the bass was over the HD600's bass. I also thought the 590's bass went deeper, truly dropping down and presenting those really low notes. The midrange depth, while not warm, were brought in closer to your face so that it doesn't sound like you're in the 10th row. I severely dislike bass heavy headphones and it's a major reason why I don't like the HD600s at all, but the 590's bass came across as being just fine to me. Certainly no lower mid/upper bass boominess, which I can't say about the HD600s.
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