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Micro-Meet: When HE90 Met K1000 - Page 2

post #16 of 40
Might I agree with Tom that the sources could be improved upon? Who knows, maybe it does take a Meitner/EMMLabs rig to power sweet noise to the Orpheus, but I do know that the Benchmark DAC-1 and Zhaolu are sources that are probably more comfortable in a rig like my cobbled-together Tower of Power, and even then I still prefer my DAC-ah. But ask me if I think my DAC-ah would do the Orpheus justice, and I'd tell you "nope!" Sometimes, bread just needs to go with butter.
post #17 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jahn
Might I agree with Tom that the sources could be improved upon? Who knows, maybe it does take a Meitner/EMMLabs rig to power sweet noise to the Orpheus, but I do know that the Benchmark DAC-1 and Zhaolu are sources that are probably more comfortable in a rig like my cobbled-together Tower of Power, and even then I still prefer my DAC-ah. But ask me if I think my DAC-ah would do the Orpheus justice, and I'd tell you "nope!" Sometimes, bread just needs to go with butter.
I am slowly preparing myself for that possibility
There doesn't seem to be a sweet spot for a tier of sources in between the Meitner, Dodson/etc. dacs and the stello/benchmark/lavry dacs...

But I'll try my best to find a source to satisfy me before I rape my wallet and get one of those systems
post #18 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeg
Wayne - My preference for the R10 and HE90 is in part due to my preference for having the feel of headphones enveloping my ears. I was never as satisfied with the off-the-ears feel of the K1000. Although the K1000s have a fine sound, I've found a better home for my K1000 system with another member of head-fi.
That's cool, Mike. There is definitely something odd about the K1000 orientation in terms of the speakers hanging off of your ears. Almost every time I wear them, it takes 5-10 minutes to get myself oriented. Not so much in terms of how the music sounds, nor that they're particularly akward to wear, but just something doesn't seem natural. So I guess I know what you're talking about. The nice thing is that you've passed them on the someone who will get more use from them.
post #19 of 40
I need lots more time with both headphones before deciding. Also, since both are connected to the same CDP, I hope to get my wife to use the system together with me. She can thereby listen to one headphone, while I use the other. I know that speakers can serve the same purpose, but I prefer the sound of headphones. And also, use of headphones allows silence to prevail while only one of us listens (which is mostly me).

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoRedwings19
So you are keeping both the r-10's and he90 or do you think you would be able to decide between two and just move to one setup for your tastes and preferences.
post #20 of 40
Thread Starter 

Foo_me scored big time

All right, it is time to reveal how Foo_me actully did in my "ultimate tonality test."

FYI, the seven violins in on the CD are:
1) N. Amati, 1640
2) G.B. Guadagnini 1771
3) A. Guarneri, 1671
4) P. Guaneri, ?
5) A. Horvath, 1992
6) A. Stradivari, 1683
7) J.B. Vuillaume, 1870

Q1: He correctly picked #5 as the newer violin, and #1 as the older.
This is probably the easiest of all questions. Mr. Horvath is a leading bow maker today, and his violins are very good as well.

Q2: He correctly picked #4 as the finer insteument (by the grandson), over #3. Pietro Guarneri is thought to be a better luthier than his grandfather, Andrea. Pietro's brother, Giuseppe, is even more talented and made Paganini's favorite violin. Guarneri violins all have a dark, seductive sound.

Q3: He correctly picked #6 (Strad) as the finer instrument over #2.
This is actually the hardest question. Guadagnini is famous for his ability to make his violins sound like Stradivaris. Guadagnini's fine instruments are unjustly callled "poor man's Strads." His best violins can fetch 1 million USD in today's market, and there is nothing cheap about its sound. Good Stradivari violins now easily sell for 4 million USD, and for a good reason. The richness of Stradivari's tone makes it a bit more alluring than the Gudagnini. Congratulations, Foo_me, you can differentiate the difference between two ultra-expensive violins in about 5 minutes. This is truly a million dollar question

Q4: He correctly picked #6 (Strad) as the brighter violin, over #4.
This question is pretty easy, but almost every top violinist has to go through a similar coice. Most of them play either a Strad or a Guaneri, based on personal preference. Although these two greatest luthier families are neighbors, their sonic appeal is quite different.

Q5: He picked #6, a Stradivari, and #7, a Vuillaume.
I personally pick #4 (P. Guaneri) and #7. It shows how Vuillaume's instruments truly rival the Italian masters. Oh I forgot, Paganini himself already acknowledged that long, long ago. Too bad Vuillaume isn't getting as much attention as it should, but that's about to change because Hilary Hahn plays a Vuillaume and I am pretty sure she is the next real maestro in the violin world.

When Audiophile Audition reviewed this CD, it said the Cremonese masters (Guaneri, Stradivari and Amati) are way ahead of others. I am pretty sure Mr. Paganini himself would not agree. Once Paganini took his favorite Guarneri violin to Mr. Vuillaume for repair. He got two violins back and he could not tell which one is his. Vuillaume made a perfect replica and Paganini had to play them to hear a slight sonic difference. Paganini was so pleased that he offered a high price for it. Vuillaume was so honored that he gave it away as a gift. When Paganini died he donated his favorite Guarneri to the city of Genoa, and gave the Vuillaume to his only student. His student had fine violins by Amati, Guarneri and Stradivari, but his favorite was the Vuillaume. Foo_me picked #7 over two Guaneris (not who made Paganini's violin, though) and an Amati in a blind test, which just shows how good the Vuillaume really is.

I have also asked a non-audiophile, non-violinst friend to try a similar test on my K1000 setup. I asked him questions 1, 3 and 4 and he answered all of them correctly. I am now convinced that, with a proper playback system, anyone with some interest in music can easily distinguish the sonic differnces between great violins of the world. BTW, this other friend chose #4 (P. Guaneri) as his favorite.

Foo_me and I also listened to the same CD on HE-90/ES-1. The differences are still there, but violin does not sound as convincing as they do on K1000. Maybe the secret of K1000 lies in the fact that it uses violin varnish on its transducer to supress extra vibration.

If anyone thinks his system has great timbre and tonal accuracy, I recommend trying this test I devised with your setup and a friend of yours. Next to the human voice, the human ear is most sensitive to the tone of the violin and no other instrument's timbre has fascinated humans as much. After this test, I think it is OK to say that technology has enabled us to savor the tonal flavors of great violins at the comfort of one's bed room. Even untrained ears have no problem distingushing the charms of exquisite violins of various origins, on my K1000 system, and for this I am quite content When I started my audio journey I wondered how realistic can violin sound on an audio system. Well, now I can say when it can meaningfully portray the difference between a one million dollar Guadagnini and a 4 million dollar Stradivari to the untrained ear, it is pretty darn realistic. But "realistic" has a limit, too. Once I had my friend play his $15,000 violin in my room and it's obvious that bringing the musician to the room is only a metaphor and will never really happen. Although violin on K1000 sounds different from the real violin, but they do blend pretty well.
post #21 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeg
Wayne - My preference for the R10 and HE90 is in part due to my preference for having the feel of headphones enveloping my ears. I was never as satisfied with the off-the-ears feel of the K1000. Although the K1000s have a fine sound, I've found a better home for my K1000 system with another member of head-fi.
That's a very interesting opinion (regarding the feel of headphones enveloping the listener's ears). Personally, I prefer the open feeling of the K1000s now that I have gotten used to them , and ear-enveloping headphones feel claustrophobic to me. Of course everyone has different preferences .

The other evening, I went to the opera, and I closed my eyes and tried to imagine hearing the performance through ear-enveloping headphones and through K1000s. I realize that this is a non-scientific observation, but the amount of air and soundstage would have seemed most like live performace reproduced by the K1000s IMHO.
post #22 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeg
I need lots more time with both headphones before deciding. Also, since both are connected to the same CDP, I hope to get my wife to use the system together with me. She can thereby listen to one headphone, while I use the other. I know that speakers can serve the same purpose, but I prefer the sound of headphones. And also, use of headphones allows silence to prevail while only one of us listens (which is mostly me).
Yes. This is a tough one.

I know of 3 head-fiers that owning both, prefers the R10 (and two of them are driving the HE90 with a HEV90).

I prefer the HE90 by far but it seems like I favor an electrostatic sound (although I'm always coming back for a while to the fun L3000 no matter the few flaws it has). I don't know why I don't get the R10s right. I keep trying them but there is no magic with me. I'll try better amps before to give up on them but the EMP AE or DHA3000 should give a hint of its magic and it is not really working with me.

Still... It might be possible to just keep one as they kind of fill the same gap IMHO. Both are cans with smooth, refined sound, glorious midrange and good soundstage. If you can only have two cans, it probably makes more sense to have a R10-L3000 or HE90-PS1 than a R10-HE90.
post #23 of 40
My top two would be the HE90 and R10 by a wide margin.They are both the best in their respective catagories,IMO.Gary.
post #24 of 40
A few months ago I informed Mikhail that I was really disappointed with the performance of my R10/SDS setup, when compared to my HE90/McAlister setup. Mikhail thereupon very substantially upgraded my SDS amp., and the improvement in the new R10/SDS setup is amazing. So, it's really clear to me that the R10's performance is extremely amp.-dependent. BTW, I compared my K701 to the R10, using the SDS, and the 701's performance is poor in comparison. As things now stand, if I had to choose, I would sell my Orpheus setup before the R10 setup. But, it's possible that I'll change my opinion when/if I upgrade to an HEV90, or the soon-to-be-introduced new McAlister amp., or an Aristaeus (if it ever appears).
post #25 of 40
Isn't it interesting that the very best headphones ever made have been discontinued by their manufacturers (HE90, R10 and K1000), and have never been replaced by successive products? It is clear to me that these products were produced for status and competitive reasons, similar reasons that Ferrari produces for the racing circuit.

Does this tell us that we are afictionados in a cult world of esoteric headphones, which cannot and will not support enough of a market to survive? Are we relegated to hoarding and exchanging the few remaining examples of these headphones ad infinitum?

In transports, DACs, amplifiers and speakers there seems to have developed a cottage industry to serve the ultra high end consumer. Why not in headphones as well?

Or will the major headphone manufacturers (Sony, AKG, AT and Sennheiser) once again recognize the value of producing an ultimate headphone? Certainly materials science and engineering have made major advances in the last ten years that could contribute to significant advances in headphone excellence.
post #26 of 40
Ferbose: have you try the RS-1 for violins? through the HA-1A i sound quite impressive too... will try to find the album
post #27 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarshl
Or will the major headphone manufacturers (Sony, AKG, AT and Sennheiser) once again recognize the value of producing an ultimate headphone? Certainly materials science and engineering have made major advances in the last ten years that could contribute to significant advances in headphone excellence.
These headphone manufacturers are so big that they have no invested interest in prducing exotic headphones. They might still do it every now and then just for fun, but it is not their real business plan.

As for RS-1. I have heard them on several occasions. Cans like RS1, RS2, SR325 and SR225 all sound very colored and unconvincing with violin. The classic Grado sound has something funny in the midrane and treble. PS-1 and GS-1000 probably a bit more neutral, but not much better. The Grado house sound is aggressively tuned to suit something quite different from the violin.
post #28 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferbose
These headphone manufacturers are so big that they have no invested interest in producing exotic headphones. They might still do it every now and then just for fun, but it is not their real business plan.
I agree that it is not their real business plan, due to low volume. But neither is it in the business plan of the huge automobile companies to sell exotic cars, but Ford still produces the GT and Dodge produces the Viper - plus numerous racing prototypes - to develop a lead positioning in the minds of their consumers.

The HE90 certainly did a lot for the image of Sennheiser, even though only a few were sold.
post #29 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarshl
The HE90 certainly did a lot for the image of Sennheiser, even though only a few were sold.
I don't know about that.
I thought Sennheiser was the leader in headphone decades before HE90 was released.
post #30 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferbose
I don't know about that.
I thought Sennheiser was the leader in headphone decades before HE90 was released.
It was, but they did gain a lot of prestige with the HE90.

Without it, it was just the company that was selling a lot of decent phones, while Sony(R10)/Stax... had the real good stuff.

It's like Ford making the GT. Now imagine that the GT were the best car in the world and that everybody that was thinking in a supercar were thinking in the GT instead of Ferrari or Aston Martin. Ford already had the sales, and now would have the prestige too.
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