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The war of the worlds: W5000 v. HD650 v. SA5000 - Page 3

post #31 of 296
Thread Starter 

Breaking new: The SA 5000 attacks

SA5000

This is the mysterious warrior from outer space: I had not heard it much, just in a couple of rigs at the nat meet, but I liked it and decided to buy it. I have read a lot of controversial posts about it and it has earned the name of SA5000 NIYE (five thousand needles in your ears).
They are still not fully broken in, so it still needs to sharpen its swords

Massive Attack - The first five things you notice it the SA are: detail, detail, detail, speed and speed. Wow this thing certainly is not boring! This CD get extremely eventful, there are really a lot of things going on and you really don’t miss any of the action. The SA manages to grasp immediately your attention and never gives you a moment of relax: as soon as you start to think about something else, it immediately draws you back to the action. Great fun; I have not tried to use them for several hours yet, but I can imagine a little of fatigue will arrive after a while, not due to brightness, but because they constantly demand your full attention.
The bass is not the heaviest, but I like it a lot: it is extremely fast, detailed, really tight and textured; it never interfere with the other frequency and is extremely easy to follow the bass lines. It rivals with the bass of the W5000 and in my taste even just a bit better. As I said the detail is so absolutely unbelievable that gives a really unique sound signature. Compared to the W5000, the SA lacks of body without any doubt, but some of the punch is there with a bit less of impact. The speed is also astonishing, in a certain way may be even a touch too much: this HP never even remotely struggle to resolve the busiest and most complex situation. Cymbals and drums are snappy and impact, the attack is fantastic, but there is almost no sustain and decay, so they don‘t bear much resemblance with reality, even though the effect is quite enjoyable; drums and cymbals is one of the points were the W5000 are miles ahead.
The soundstage is really unusual: certainly not wide, but it develops mostly in a vertical way: think about a band where each musician is positioned in a different floor. Certainly does not correspond to a real soundstage but, as usual with the SA, things are exciting: in a lively CD like this one there is tons of action shifting slightly laterally and mainly vertically. I believe this is the essence of the SA: not much fidelity to the real events, but lots of fun and excitement. Anyway the soundstage is certainly another clear win for the W5000.
There is a certain amount of brightness, but only occasionally and is not really a big issue as somebody reported; also they are not fully burnt-in, so it will very likely improve.
Plenty, plenty of air, no matter how complex the musical passage might be. I remember Drarthur wells describing the sound of the SA with some very strange words for me: he said that the individual notes are encapsulated in the air, or something like that. Now I see absolutely his point.
Moving to the different acoustic instruments, there is always the same sensation I had with the cymbals: the instruments don’t sound at all as they do in real life, but still everything sounds nice and enjoyable. For example, in the lovely second track of Nick Cave album, “breathless”, there is a flute introducing; with the SA you really could never guess which instrument you are hearing, although the effect is once again very pleasant. I believe that this is the reason why this can is probably the best with electronica: here you don’t have to confront the sound you hear with real life instruments and you can just enjoy the exciting sounds coming out of the SA without comparing.
Probably the artificiality of the instrument is due to the sheer speed of the SA: you end up hearing just the attack, but no sustain and decay; how can a piano or cymbals sound authentic in these conditions.
Shifting to Fiona Apple and Anthony I had a nice surprise: both female and male voices sound really good with the SA. And for once they sounded perfectly natural, not artificial at all, not quite as emotional as with the W5000, but more “true”, if I might say so (sorry but English is my third language).

All and all the SA puts on an excellent performance and they are definitely going to stay in da house. Probably I won’t use them very often, but when I am looking for excitement I am sure they will give me a lot of fun. I would not recommend them at all to classical music lovers, but they certainly rule for electronica, they are good rock cans (although light years behind the W5000) and probably will do very well with electric rock (some Chick Corea stuff for example). I remember they sounded great with TDSOTM.
Finally I believe a tube amp with the proper tube rolling could be a good match.

Note to self: I will add Kraftwerk’s Minimum-maximum to the next battle

SA5000: 68%
post #32 of 296
We're definitely on the same page as far as SA5K vs. W5K goes.
post #33 of 296
Double post.
post #34 of 296
We have quite similar feelings about SA5000 vs. W5000.

What do you think about electric guitars with SA5000? I still think that electric guitars have sounded best with SA5000. There's just some magic in that combo.

So when can we declare W5000 as a winner of this battle?
post #35 of 296
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patu
We have quite similar feelings about SA5000 vs. W5000.

What do you think about electric guitars with SA5000? I still think that electric guitars have sounded best with SA5000. There's just some magic in that combo.

So when can we declare W5000 as a winner of this battle?
As I said the SA5000 is very good with rock, but nowhere near the W5000 who put up a sensational display. Guitars sound very nice thanks to the speed of teh SA and even in very busy passages are always well separated from the rest; the only bad point is that they lack of sustain and decay: the attack is excellent, but the sound disappears too quickly, while with the W5000 the guitar note stays in the air for the correct amount of time and then decay naturally.
Of course this may change significantly with a different rig.

I believe the HD650 will enter he battle field very soon
post #36 of 296
Thread Starter 

HD650

HD 650

I have to admit that this first round is not really fair for the HD 650: they are the cheapest of the three in stock version; 99.9999% of headfiers use them with aftermarket cables, some people even buy the extra cable first and the headphone after; they are also IME very dependent on amplification and the headphone jack of the Lavry is quite a basic amp and not well suited for low Z. I liked the HD 650 in several rigs, with very different results according to the amo, but I never tried them with stock cables and I was a bit worried.

The first things I noticed is that the HD has two promising features: a very wide soundstage and a big full body, lot of weight.
But sadly, used with the Lavry the positive points end there. The bass is very heavy, frankly too much, extremely slow and totally out of control; the bass invades all other musical events and has no detail whatsoever: I have the feeling that just one note of bass goes through the whole song and carries on even on the next song.
The PRaT is terrible: everything is extremely slow and out of rhythm: I have the feeling that the singer doesn’t know when to start, with drums and bass totally out of sync. No detail or air to speak of either: the bass envelops everything in a sort of big sticky ball. It just sounds like a picture out of focus: the different instruments are bigger than life, out of focus and overlapping with each other.
I have heard often about the infamous “Synthesiser veil”, in this rig it sounds to me like a blanket: the mids are very recessed and contaminated that the sloppy bass. I also heard some quite heavy distortion in busy passages, a sign that the Lavry is really struggling to cope with it.

I spent much less time with this HP compared to the other, because it was really not enjoyable and every time I put this on I felt the urge of putting my pyjama on and go to bed. So I won’t go too much into details, as I really feel there is something wrong in the pairing amp-headphone. I even thought that my pair had something out of order.
So before reporting about this first round, in order to avoid to be murdered by the “Revolutionary Movement of Sennheiser fanboys” I have to say that I could not resist and plugged the Original Master amp that I received only two hours ago into the Opus 21 and connected it to the HD650. Even though the amp is just out of the box, the difference is night and day: the HD650 now sounds like a real headphone and gives me high hope for the next battles, but I don’t want to spoil the follow up.

HD650: 46% (but IMO due to bad match with the amp)
post #37 of 296
What did I say.
post #38 of 296
Vic... Did you ever own or try A900LTD's ??? Please... Not to claim anything like they're same or better. But I am surprised that it's like you're describing A900LTD's sound except bass speed like sony's and soundstage. But they improved well towards your experience when I paired them with Zhaolu DAC. Maybe they can improve bass speed and soundstage with high end setup like your's and as slwiser is using.

Maybe other owners of A900LTD's favour me after reading your review on W5K. Drum sound, Women voice, hump in the midrange and a small degree of coloration.... WOW... atleast sound signature is matching.
post #39 of 296
I know, I know....but we must not offend....or you will get your A900LTDs sliced and diced verbally back to you. The ATH-W5000 does have higher quality materials of construction and should sound somewhat better in any comparison with our A900LTDs. But it is surprising how similar the comments do sound like our ATH-A900LTDs that I hear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by manchau
Vic... Did you ever own or try A900LTD's ??? Please... Not to claim anything like they're same or better. But I am surprised that it's like you're describing A900LTD's sound except bass speed like sony's and soundstage. But they improved well towards your experience when I paired them with Zhaolu DAC. Maybe they can improve bass speed and soundstage with high end setup like your's and as slwiser is using.

Maybe other owners of A900LTD's favour me after reading your review on W5K. Drum sound, Women voice, hump in the midrange and a small degree of coloration.... WOW... atleast sound signature is matching.
post #40 of 296
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by manchau
Vic... Did you ever own or try A900LTD's ??? Please... Not to claim anything like they're same or better. But I am surprised that it's like you're describing A900LTD's sound except bass speed like sony's and soundstage. But they improved well towards your experience when I paired them with Zhaolu DAC. Maybe they can improve bass speed and soundstage with high end setup like your's and as slwiser is using.

Maybe other owners of A900LTD's favour me after reading your review on W5K. Drum sound, Women voice, hump in the midrange and a small degree of coloration.... WOW... atleast sound signature is matching.
I have tried the A900ltd only briefly and I did like it, although cannot really comment because was too short. A friend has them, so I' ll certainly try them again.
Never heard the Zhalou, but would love to; I have read a lot of great comments about it
post #41 of 296
I'm surprised the W5000 fought so well in Part 1. I don't think it sounds good paired with the DA10's headphone port.

Please, let the battle continue and refrain from off-topic comments about other headphones.
post #42 of 296
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vic
I have tried the A900ltd only briefly and I did like it, although cannot really comment because was too short. A friend has them, so I' ll certainly try them again.
Never heard the Zhalou, but would love to; I have read a lot of great comments about it
Wuhoo... I can't wait till you include them in this review. Also K701

I like your detailed review and I think this is the way we should open every detail rather then just one note judgment. This kind of review helps us to justify different phones sound signatures and approach. Maybe someone prefer those things on other phones which is not good for you.

BTW... Your setup is better then Zhaolu IMO.
post #43 of 296
Yes, sir!

edited:

Just got carried away...sorry...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elephas
Please, let the battle continue and refrain from off-topic comments about other headphones.
post #44 of 296
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elephas
I'm surprised the W5000 fought so well in Part 1. I don't think it sounds good paired with the DA10's headphone port.

Please, let the battle continue and refrain from off-topic comments about other headphones.
Quite surprised myself. The W5000 sliced the competition in small pieces and certainly performed above my expectations so far.
What I have learnt from the first round is:

- The Lavry's performances increase a lot with a good transport: it really improved greatly with the Musical Fidelity compared to the iriver as transport.
- Quality of mains supply matter much more than what I thought.
- If correctely set up the Lavry is a great DAC and the HP jack does a good job with low impedance hPs. Not suitable for high Z like the HD650 though
- As I expected the W5000 can perform in a sensational way even with basic amplification. I really don't know how much room for improvement there is going up the food chain; we'll see
post #45 of 296
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elephas
I'm surprised the W5000 fought so well in Part 1. I don't think it sounds good paired with the DA10's headphone port.

Please, let the battle continue and refrain from off-topic comments about other headphones.
What I am hearing on A900LTD's with my new setup must be open through someone elses experience who's having competetive cans like you and Vic.

Just adding one or two phones in this arena will make this thread more interesting. And according to my openion it's not off-topic and even more suitable when Vic can arrange one and willing to include them in this thread.
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