post #1 of 1
Thread Starter 
There are two kinds of scientific progress:
the methodical experimentation and categorization which gradually extend the boundaries of knowledge,
and the revolutionary leap of genius which redefines and transcends those boundaries.
Acknowledging our debt to the former, we yearn nonetheless for the latter.


- Academician Prokhor Zakharov

"Address to the Faculty"






The TakeT H2: (R)evolution In Headphone Design.




Part 0: Prelude.

Part 1: An Introduction.
Part 2: TakeT and Takei.
Part 3: A History Lesson.
Part 4: Technology Rundown.
Part 5: Construction.
Part 6: On The TR-2.
Part 7: Music & Setup.
Part 8: Sonic Review.
Part 9: H2 vs. SR-007.
Part 10: Conclusions.
Part 11: Postlude.




Part 1: An Introduction - A Little Personal Critique Of The Hi-Fi Industry And An Applaud To Those Trying To Transcend Its Entrenched Stagnancy.


This reviews opening quotation, sourced although it is from a fictitious person, I felt carried the overarching sentiment which I have with regard to what has been accomplished by the TakeT Company better than any other which perambulated through the corridors of my mind when postulating on what might be suitable for a dramatic and intriguing introduction to this review. The wider hi-fi world, the headphone industry, and the Head-Fi community have, with the development of this product, in my opinion been provided the first true advancement in this market in not only years, but decades.

There will be some people, and the rather finger curling “I’m sorry I’m sorry” part of me thinks no doubt that Mr Takei himself is among them, who have been wondering just when I would have this review completed. Those of you on Head-Fi made curious by the somewhat sparse comment articulated over the past few weeks by myself in the “A Head-Fi First” thread and Milkpowder in the “An Afternoon at Duggehs” thread on the sonic qualities of this headphone, the ones mainly of the kind that said “The New King Of Bass, The Grado PS-1 Is Dead, Long Live The King.” will I hope find this review a satisfactory alleviation of that curiosity. For those of you who are reading it anyway, I hope you find it just as enlightening. It has been a pleasure to once again produce an article on a product which is so woefully unknown in our corner of the internet, and an honour to have been allowed the opportunity to do so. This review has been just as much of a personal thing for me as my previous long winded review of the Precide Ergo AMT, that after all, was a headphone I had longed after and bought, giving me a desire to wax lyrical on it. The same factors applied to this headphone, as a thing of mystery, it instilled in me a desire to do my very utmost to give it a complete and comprehensive coverage. I hope that with this review, my abilities in describing the individual character of sonic qualities may have matured somewhat, looking back on the AMT review it is overly florid in its descriptions of sound and at points overly apologetic sounding. I know for a fact however that my knowledge on the correct use of apostrophes remains as dull and insubstantial as it has always been. Almost so bad at times as to tempt me to consult with the abomination that is the Microsoft Paperclip. Certainly the best I can hope for is that my shuffling employment of first second and third person narratives, mixed in the past and present tenses is not too overly messy. It’s a consequence of the sectional writing of impressions over a long period of time.

My reasons for interest in the TakeT H2 bear similarities with those interests I have taken with many other headphones. The Ergo AMT was a pretty much unknown quantity, and the TakeT H2 is even more so a product which is at the far end of the unknown. Unlike with the AMT, the only literature available on the H2 was the product blurb on TakeT’s own website. Unlike with the AMT, there was not, on performing of a quick Google search, a scattering of short reviews on its sound, nor any commendations from any Hi-Fi magazines or forums. TakeT also have two problems with their product that Precide did not have with theirs. Firstly, TakeT is a relatively new company with a relatively new product. Precide had an established history in that they had made the Jecklin Float headphones for many years even if they were not the Precide Company at that time. Precide they have a established pedigree in the industry. Precide also have a larger range of products (which are not limited to headphones) more accessible (read: cheaper) than the AMT. The Ergo 1 and Ergo 2 are attainable by far more people, priced as they are slightly cheaper than their competition such as the AKG K701 and the Sennheiser HD650. TakeT has no such step-in product. There isn’t a baby H2, which you could buy without risking a huge amount of money and then if you liked the sound of it, upgrade to the daddy. This type of buy up has been heavily evident over the last few months with the Ultrasone Edition 9.

Twelve months ago, Ultrasone was comparatively small player at Head-Fi, now its fanboys are as numerous as those of AKG or Beyerdynamic and that affords a Flagship product like the Edition 9, on release, a large well of buyers who are already waiting for the next big thing from their favourite manufacturer. It also gives a sense of safety to those who are interested in a high end headphone, to know that the company has many happy and enthusiastic existing customers. It is this factor, the one of group product support, and not one of pricing or sonic merit, which I personally think is the primary reason for the vast difference in success between the Edition 7 and the Edition 9. The TakeT H2 then, faces an uphill struggle on both fronts if it is to gain success and sales.

The H2 was first brought to my attention, and probably first brought to the attention of Head-Fi at all, in a post made by Carl in the original Ergo AMT review thread. And as such we ultimately have only him to blame for this entire affair. To finish opening up here though, I would like to comment on the significance of the product itself, and of how important I consider it to be, rather than on the bout of new-toy syndrome it gave me.

TakeT has had the audacity and the courage to bring to fruition the design dream of its CEO and lead engineer, Mr Takei. It is a company which has not grounded itself in making money by trying to produce safe products, similar to those that flood the existing market, although to say that they do not hope to make money at all is of course stupid, they have, not dissimilarly to the John Grado design philosophy, aimed to produce a product which is as much the embodiment of the personal tastes of its engineers as it is anything else.

It is a small company, taking creative steps in a world market which is utterly glutted up with manufacturers big and small, in which so often constraint in design is imposed by the necessities of that market, by the totalitarian onslaught of ever newer and ever more improved products at all levels, many of which, even from the smaller niche companies, are only rehashes and makeovers of existing designs, good or not. The old Stax Company was sometimes similarly ambitious in its design aspirations, and this was a factor in its eventual downfall. I can only hope that we do not see such a repetition of history with TakeT. The industry so often needs this kind company and this kind of product in order to move it forward in any direction while it is so content to sit and slowly bloat. Enough however with the growing incoherence of my pre-ambling ramblings, let us begin to move onto the substantives.

As a note, you can view a 2048x1536 full size version of my own pictures by clicking on the 1024x768 ones. There are also more pictures in the directories on my FTP than are shown in this review if you care enough to go exploring.



Part 2: TakeT & Takei – Speaking With The Man Behind The H2.


I have been in email communication with Mr Takei, the man in charge at TakeT and the one chiefly responsible for the design of the headphone since my original inquiry about a sample loan for review. Because I speak no Japanese and Mr Takei’s English is not fluent we have relied upon translation software and back and forth clarification of terms. Nevertheless I thought that the inclusion of the information we spoke about was merited and I have given it in an interview format. Mr Takei’s answers though, have been paraphrased by me for the purposes of free-flow reading, as have the wording of my questions. The original transcriptions can be read here in case you care to look at them. Should you think I have paraphrased out of context upon reading them please contact me by PM so that I can correct any mistakes, it has been only my intention to transcribe the meaning of the answers and not to misrepresent any information.

{Q}Question {A}Answer {R}Response

{Q}Mr Takei, to begin, why did you decide to make a piezoelectric headphone, rather than an electrostatic or a dynamic headphone?

{A}I had developed a loudspeaker with a piezoelectric film twenty years ago while I was working for Sony. However, Sony decided that because of the difficulties with the efficiency of the speaker (efficiency was poor at about 80dB) that to drive them with existing amplifiers was not feasible. Not being a commercially viable product in Sony’s eyes, development was halted. The wonderful sound of the piezoelectric driver remained in my ear though, and I wanted to restart development for some time, although I was moved to another section and was doing completely different work. Twenty years have now passed and I restarted development after I left Sony five years ago. With piezo film I have the knowledge to make the best use of it, piezoelectric film has the features and the tone quality that don’t exist in other driving systems and such are the reasons why I stick with piezo.

{R}I see. You were working for Sony but they did not think that piezo was a good product because it was difficult to amplify. So you have now gone your own way because you love the sound it has, an admirable aim indeed.

{Q}Did you have any difficulties with the use of the Heil Driver design?

{A}It is difficult to bond two films and mould them in a wave-like structure. Moreover, f0 (f0 is the lowest resonance frequency) and Q (Q is the sharpness of the degree of resonance) are decided by the wave depth and the thickness and such of each wave (each cell) of the vibration board. So it is important to design the wave shape so that sound distributes flatly from the low frequencies to the high frequencies. To paraphrase: It is difficult to expand the sound characteristic from the bass to the high pitched sound flatly. In addition, because the electric capacitance is large, the piezo film should take the impedance match with the driver such as amplifiers. Our knowledge allows management of these difficult problems.

{R}I believe I understand. It is difficult to achieve the Heil shape because of the intricacies in working with the piezo film material, the capacitance issue I also understand. The piezo film, like an electrostatic driver is very capacitive, so it is difficult for a normal amplifier to drive them.

{Q}I have seen some images online of an H2 with much larger brown colour pads and the headband of a different design. Where these prototypes or did you change the design for other reasons?

{A}The photograph that you refer to is the TakeT H1 from the test sales four years ago. The H1 were hand made goods with the plastic parts of the housing and the unit designed and built by myself, cut and assembled with the adhesive etc. This assembly was not good though for larger scale manufacture. The head pads were done by a needlework expert with leather, like for car seats. This was all high cost so we now utilise a metal mould made by an industrial designer set up for the H2.

{R}So the pictures are of the prototype H1 model. I see.


The Original TakeT H1

{Q}Could you please tell me about the necessity and function of the TR-2 with the H2?

{A}I will explain about H2 and TR2. It is possible to generate a high listening sound volume when connecting the H2 with the standard headphone socket of a speaker amplifier in a quiet room. However, for many people, while it is a good sound, it is also a low pressure sound and so a bigger sound is requested. Then, we developed the transformer (TAKET-TR2). The problem with the TR-2 though is in the handling of the connection to the speaker amplifier, it is an annoying solution to have to have to connect the transformer between the speaker amp and the headphone. The price of the H2 and TR2 is also a problem for the business now.

{Q}So do you have any plans for a direct amplifier for the H2 instead of the TR2 transformer?

{A}We proposed to an amplifier manufacturer that they install a headphone socket exclusively for the H2 in their audio amplifier. (This can be easily added in case of tube-type amplifiers. They can take out the output from the first side of transformer before the step is downed by the transformer of the tube-type amplifier.) One company is scheduled for release of a tube based product with an H2 exclusive use headphone socket adhering to this type of design. It should be on the market by the autumn of this year. The prototype had a wonderful tone quality when we auditioned it with the H2. However, because the amplifier manufacturer is a small scale, it doesn't have the power of the acquisition of CE and the UL marks. When they put it on the market in Japan around this autumn, hopefully foreign countries will try it as a sample that they can then offer it. I hope a resident amplifier manufacturer in other countries can add the special headphone socket to their own amplifiers because our company doesn't have the skills for an amplifier either.

{R}I understand, you are a small company and the amp design and manufacture is difficult. I am pleased to hear that you have made progress with this other company though.

{Q}Do you have any plans for other headphone models?

{A}Well, after the TakeT H2 is made an established product, I will want to then plan the subsequent model. Our company has various ideas for the future.

{R}Mr Takei, Thank you kindly.


Part 3: A History Lesson - A Brief History Of The Headphone And The Importance I Believe The TakeT H2 Has In That History.


What has changed in the headphone industry in the last ten years? Not a lot. There has been a common progression, but it’s generally been the shuffling, foot dragging kind. There’s been refinement and variance on proven and understood design and technology, a few brave efforts like the Ergo AMT and the Sony Qualia 010 tried to introduce a new armature technology and a new way to correlate the headphone to the individual user respectively. Except the Ergo AMT wasn’t the first headphone with an Air Motion Transformer driver. ESS also made one way back in their day, although it reputedly wasn’t up to much. And the Qualia 010 with its need for a custom fitting probably put off more buyers than it attracted, despite the potential sonic gains its design philosophy made possible. The Qualia 010 vanished along with the rest of its entire product line during a corporate cleanup at Sony and the Ergo AMT, if Head-Fi is an indicator of the headphone market in general, seems to have sold about two or three units. It’s probably more popular with the hi-fi fans in mainland Europe who aren’t so keen on the internet forum scene.

What about the last twenty years? Well if you go back that far, you can include a few more notable products, truly over engineered masterpieces like the Sennheiser HE90 and Stax SR-Omega, real statement level products like the Sony MDR-R10 with its bio-cellulose driver membranes and a fresh attitude to what constituted a headphone with the AKG K1000, which in its younger more virile years, had all sorts of support from AKG for things like individualised user H.R.T.Fs. All four of these products though, simply took the established industry technologies and wrung them really carefully through the design mangle. Sennheiser reputedly lost money on every Orpheus made, the SR-Omega was a final nail in the coffin for the old Stax Company and the K1000 didn’t gather a wide following among Head-Fi and audiophiles until AKG discontinued production, after which it was suddenly the best thing since sliced reel to reel. There was also, for a brief fleeting second the real possibility of the plasma driver headphone, a concept oft-joked of here, but which was actually tried, albeit unsuccessfully. I guess that French build quality might have played a part in the reluctance of customers to have a million volts hanging by their ears.


The PlasmaSonic 1. Fire Extinguisher For Your Hair Free With Every Purchase.

Going back another ten years to thirty years past and there is a headphone market in which there was a lot of jostling. Koss was making its electrostatics although their designs are quite different from Stax’s. Koss were also churning out loads of closed back dynamics, the kind which pop up every day on eBay today for bubblegum money. Electrets and orthodynamics were far more commonplace than they have been over the last decade. Pioneer also made the first and only series of piezoelectric headphones with full range capabilities. It is an augmentation of this technology which TakeT builds upon with the H2. Jecklin Floats were the choice of the headphone connoisseur who was more interested in a great looking pair of headphones than a great sounding pair, or have I got that backwards?


The Jecklin Floats, Sexy Headphones. And The Sony MDR-V700DJ, Not Sexy Headphones.

To go back forty years and you can get to the point where Sennheiser changed the nature of proper dynamic headphone design forever and debatably ushered in the modern headphone era, after they started pushing the signal backwards through a microphone and called it the HD414. Super light, small thin plastic diaphragms were simply incomparably better than heavy sluggish paper ones used previously. It would be wrong of me to say that the HD-414 was the first headphone to employ such a design, but it was unquestionably the one which popularised it and it was a huge commercial success. Not just because of its sound, but also because of its small size and light weight. Compare it to the bulky ungainly Koss designs of the time and decide which you would prefer to wear.


The Famous Sennheiser HD414

Koss also developed the ESP6 at around the same time. Of course, Stax had been making their electrostatics since 1960, eight years prior, but during all of this time there never really was a market for headphones per se, and certainly not the kind of market that we have today. If you want to go back yet another ten years to 1957 and you are already in the dark ages. Little survives from those unforgiving times excepting the original QUAD electrostatic loudspeaker and as a headphone it’s impractical at best. Of individual products in those dark times before 1960 only two are of note, the Koss SP3, their first headphone, and the Beyerdynamic DT-48, the first dynamic headphone as we understand the term today, first released unsuccessfully in 1937 but with success in 1952. Before that it was mostly hunky metal and bakelite 6000ohm salt-crystal sets for radio telecommunication, hi-fi in general not being a common hobby and headphone enthusiasm not even in existence.

The reason that I think the TakeT H2 deserves note in this grand picture is because of the way in which it creates sound. It doesn’t use any new technology per se; however it is the first implementation of the technology in this form. In that sense it belongs with the Beyerdynamic DT-48, Stax SR-1, Sennheiser HD-414, ESS AMT, Pioneer SE-700, Yamaha HP-1, Etymotic ER.4, PlasmaSonic 1 and Setmenu Ribbon. It has pushed forward design of an old technology in a new way and has done it very well.


Part 4: Technology Rundown – What Is the Mechanical Difference Of This TakeT Driver?


This section goes over some ground which I covered before in my review of the Ergo AMT. I feel however, that it bears both repetition and elaboration for this review and as such I have rewritten my original descriptions as well as incorporating new ones. To have an understanding of the technologies involved in the reproduction of sound is in my opinion important to a subsequent understanding of the character of that sound. It is not my intention here to provide a definitive comparison of the operating principles of the drivers. It would require more knowledge than I have and more words than you would care to read as part of a larger review to offer that kind of comparison. My aim is simply to provide a comparative background of technologies by which the ones employed in the TakeT H2 can be understood and to which they can be compared. There are, you might be disappointed to hear, no new animations for the extra sections. MAGNOCTICOM has been very busy with his new job and at the minute his beautiful art skills are being taken up with his drawings of aeroplanes. I shall commission new animations from him in the future, and add them in.

Moving Coil Drivers:

Moving coil drivers, or just regular dynamic drivers, the regular part of that nomenclature deriving from the fact that the vast majority of sound drivers in use today are this type, work by passing an electrical current through a coil of metal, called the voice coil and commonly made of copper or aluminium, which is located inside a matching sized cylindrical channel bored into a permanent magnet. The magnet exerts a continuous magnetic field on the voice coil, which is attached to a cone or dome of rigid material, called the diaphragm. The diaphragm is commonly paper for loudspeakers and plastic for headphones, but other materials such as Kevlar or metal can be used. As an electrical signal is passed through the coil, its magnetic field is altered, it has become an electromagnet. Differences in polarity between the permanent magnet and the charge of the voice coil will cause the two to attract or repel one another. As the coil is repelled it is pushed away from the permanent magnet causing the diaphragm to move outward. An opposite electromagnetic charge in the coil will cause the opposite effect and the diaphragm will move inwards. At rest (when no signal is passed) the voice coil does not have any charge and the diaphragm will sit at its rest position. This pushing and pulling of the diaphragm, precipitated by the changes in the charge of the coil is what produces the sound.


Dynamic Driver Motion

Electrostatic Drivers:

Electrostatic drivers work by suspending a sheet of ultra thin Mylar plastic, held under tension and coated in an electrically conductive material, between two perforated metal plates called stators. The Mylar diaphragm has a high biasing voltage applied over it and by inducing changes in the charge field applied to the stators, the Mylar is pulled toward one stator while being pushed away by the other, and vice versa for motion in the opposite direction. This means that because the driver is producing a mirror motive force, the audio output from an electrostatic driver is dipole, meaning that as much sound radiates outward from the driver in one direction as does in the other. Electrostatic drivers require their own special kind of amplification due to the power requirements needed to drive them.


Electrostatic Driver Motion

Air Motion Transformers:

AMT is the acronym for Air Motion Transformer. Invented by Dr Oscar Heil in 1973, an and known also the AVT or Air Velocity Transformer, the AMT moves air by pushing against itself rather then trying to push air directly. Comprising of a folded Mylar sheet, bonded to a series of Aluminium struts in a high intensity magnetic field, the diaphragm pushes back and forward against itself in a similar physical motion pattern to when an accordion is squeezed in and out to pump air though the reed chambers, albeit over an exceedingly smaller motive range. The result is a dipole driver with an extraordinarily rapid response rate, caused both by the extremely low mass of the Mylar driver, and by the far smaller motion range it undergoes on each “swing” compared to an dynamic driver. In this technical respect, it shares characteristics with the electrostatic driver. The air movement is roughly five times bigger than the movement of the membrane; therefore also the velocity of the air is five times larger and hence the name.


AMT Driver Motion

This animation overplays the "accordion movement" of the diaphragm. The AMT doesn't actually pump out air in this way. Each pleat is much more rigid than it is flexible but it is their vibrating on their own and the resultant small scale pushing against its neighbouring pleats which generates sound. Not a folding and unfolding of the entire mechanism.

Balanced Armatures:

With a balanced armature driver you still have a permanent magnet and a voice coil, however the voice coil is not fixed to the diaphragm. In a balanced armature driver the coil is, to scale, longer than the coil on a dynamic driver and is fixed in position just like the permanent magnet. The changes in magnetic field do not move the coil, rather they move an arm (this is the armature part of the driver) which is suspended within the centre of the voice coil. The interaction of the magnetic fields between the permanent magnet and the voice coil cause the armature to piston backwards and forwards. The motion generated in the armature by this system is only very small though, so to have the armature drive the diaphragm in a piston motion like with a dynamic driver is very inefficient. Instead then of pushing the diaphragm directly, the extruding end of the armature is connected by a hinge to a perpendicular driving rod. Audio signals are passed down the drive rod from the armature and the drive rod manipulates the diaphragm from a central axis. Balanced armatures are today only utilised for IEMs insofar as I am aware because they are easier to miniaturise well while preserving sound quality, however they have been used in the past for loudspeakers.


It's a rather poor drawing of a balanced armature. It clearly shows the structure of the mechanism though so it will do for now.

Orthodynamic Drivers:

Orthodynamic drivers, sometimes called isodynamic drivers, are comprised of a thinly pressed disc made of tightly coiled fine aluminium wire affixed to a mylar sheet or more commonly an printed circuit. This pressed disc is the diaphragm and is usually slightly ridged or pleated in order to give it greater strength and to make it flex more readily in the direction of motion. The diaphragm is then sandwiched between two magnets which have the same polarity facing each other. The magnets are trying to repel from each other and so the whole assembly must be clamped together. The orthodynamic driver is not unlike a magnetic version of an electrostatic driver. Except that we don’t need a special amplifier for them. Indeed, orthodynamic drivers can be easier on amplifiers than moving coil drivers. Orthodynamic diaphragms, like electrostatic ones, can be made much lighter compared to dynamic diaphragms because they don’t need the same degree of structural rigidity. Also like an electrostatic driver an orthodynamic is a planar driver, so the motive force is applied over the entire diaphragm at once. Orthodynamic headphones have been out of fashion with headphone manufacturers for decades now and gods knows why because they can sound just marvellous. Fostex still makes some, but they are the lesser sons of their greater sires. They have their devoted legions of fans of course. Those of you wanting to check out more on orthodynamic headphones should head without hesitation over to Wualta's Orthodynamic Roundup and begin your comprehensive education.


Here you can see two versions of an orthodynamic driver. Note the circular coil of one and the patterned circuit of the other. Credit to Angelic and EricJ for these pictures.

Ribbon Drivers

Ribbon drivers have similarities with orthodynamic drivers, but only to the degree that dynamic and balanced armatures share similarities. Both of them are planar-magnetic drivers in that they both use a flat diaphragm manipulated by a magnetic field to generate sound. A ribbon driver though, rather than being a flat pressed coil in between two opposing sandwiched disc magnets like an orthodynamic, is a single solid Aluminium strip, held pressed in between two rows of bar magnets. As with the orthodynamic driver, changes in the magnetic field manipulate the Aluminium to generate sound. Oscar Heil’s original Air Motion Transformers were an augmentation of this ribbon technology. The only headphone which I know of that uses a ribbon driver is the ribbon prototype built by Head-Fi member Setmenu. Problems with Ribbon Drivers include exceptionally low impedances, often well below 1 ohm in some cases.


Setmenu’s Prototype Ribbon Headphone. Credit To Setmenu.

Piezoelectric Drivers:

Look back at each of the aforementioned technologies and try to see if you can work out what they ALL have in common.

Stuck?

With everything above, the generation of sound is achieved by the manipulation of a diaphragm by a separate motive generator. In each case, a piece of plastic or metal is manipulated by a magnetic or electrostatic field generated by a mechanism external to the diaphragm. With a piezoelectric driver, the diaphragm itself is the motive generator. Electricity is passed through the diaphragm and the physical material of which the diaphragm is composed then alters in shape with the variance of the electrical signal. The piezoelectric effect was originally discovered the other way around when it was established that certain materials would generate electricity when they were squeezed.


The driver of the Pioneer SE-700 piezoelectric headphone. Credit to EricJ.

In theory, this is one of the best possible ways to generate an audio signal; however the practical application is never as simple as the theory behind it. A driver comprised of a piezoelectric panel, as employed by Pioneer in the SE-700 does not have a lot of excursion, meaning that it cannot “swing” very far. As a result, low frequency sound becomes difficult to reproduce. Any planar drive system has a similar problem when compared to a moving coil system; however it is not possible to increase panel size for greater low frequency reproduction, as can be accomplished with electrostatic or magnetostatic speakers, obviously because one can only make a panel so big for a headphone before impracticalities set in. We have all seen the size of the Jansen panels used in the Jecklin Float electrostatic headphone. As well as this you cannot, unlike with an electrostatic system, tinker with driver design parameters such as strator spacing or bias voltage. In designing the H2, TakeT have resolved the low frequency problems of limited excursion by borrowing from the Heil design book and making a piezoelectric air motion transformer. An increase in plotted surface area and a preservation of the transient speed of a planar drive system, but without the need for the extraordinarily powerful and subsequently heavy magnets of traditional AMT drivers. They have also resolved the problems with the film of the Pioneer SE-700. The Pioneers film was too wobbly, which exacerbated its problems with bass reproduction. The H2 film is much stiffer; it has to be in order to maintain a Heil wave shape. Will these changes in design over its grandfather be of real sonic merit though?

The assorted plus points to each driver are often as much a matter of taste as they are of performance, and at the very top end of the headphone world, it is always more about taste than performance and no one driver type dominates totally. There are more moving coil headphones, so there are more world class moving coil headphones. There certainly aren’t any world class orthodynamic headphones in production today, as I have mentioned, Foxtex offerings are but a bismirchment of the orthodynamic name however they used to compete very well against Stax offerings of the time. Does the TakeT H2 belong amongst such noble company though? It is certainly priced accordingly, before I speak of its sound though; let us take a good look at the thing.


Part 5: Construction - How Is This TakeT H2 Thing Put Together Anyway? Can Its Aesthetics Be Forgiven?


When I first removed the TakeT H2 from its box, my immediate thought was along the lines of “It’s a big fat Stax Lambda.” And indeed at first glance this certainly appears to be the case, it’s made of black plastic with a slatted grille in the back. A brief perusal though shows that this as far as the resemblance extends. Prior to this further examination though, I thought it prudent to read through the product literature.


TakeT H2 “Manual” Page 1.


Taket H2 “Manual” Page 2.

It is not the most fluid translation to English I’ve ever read, however its not awful by any means. You can certainly understand the content. Do not open it up; don’t poke about; do not alter; keep away from dust and moisture; mind your hearing; parts list, how to plug it in or use it as a speaker enhancement. So it’s nothing that we haven’t seen in other product literature, except perhaps the warning about not using normal headphones with the H2 socket on the WHD box. The content regarding the headband adjustment we shall soon see the practical side of.

What of the Headphone?


There It Is. Lying In Situ.

Removing it from the box I was struck by just how light it is, obviously lighter than the heavyweight AMT and lighter also than the Omega 2. It is in fact lighter even than the Sennheiser HD280. Not having to deal with heavy magnets and a plastic rather than metal construction make the combined difference it would seem. The headphone cable is or comparable external thickness to the stock HD650 cable, although it is slightly less flexible and is longer.


The TakeT H2 Box.

The box itself is not anything special like the Omega 2 or Edition 9 boxes. It’s composed of black corrugated plastic lined with high density foam. Slightly nicer than the plain cardboard box of the Grado GS1000, the more colourful cardboard box of the Ergo AMT or the sort of nice cardboard box of the JVC DX1000 but short of the lovely HE90 or SR-Omega wood box you might be hoping for after dropping a large amount of money.


As You Can See From This Picture, The Assembly Of The Headphone Is Modular.

The headphone has this modular design as the TakeT drivers can be used in combination with the headband as the H2 headphone, or they can be combined with the TR-2 transformer and another box called the WHD adapter for use as a speaker enhancer. I was not supplied with a WHD box and so cannot comment on how the drivers perform in that application. In any event, I do not think that the drivers are meant to be swapped about between these two roles as the use as a speaker “hi definitioner” requires that the headphone cable be splayed in half for as far apart as the speakers are, making subsequent use as a headphone awkward.


Here We See The Connection Between The Headband And The Driver Retention Slots.

The drivers slide in and out of the headband along the little rail skirts that you can see here. The fit is quite tight and they sort of “pop” into place when inserted all the way. Removal of the driver retention square shows more clearly the construction. The squares are held into the main headband arc by screwing them into place, the point at which they are screwed in is the hinge where tilt adjustment takes place. Also visible in this photo is the construction of the earpads. The earpads are made from real leather, and are padded with foam. They do not look particularly ergonomic, nor do they look especially comfortable. However they do not have to be super soft squish padding at all.

The design of the headband is symmetrical and the drivers might easily be re-inserted into the wrong sides, with foresight TakeT has labelled the drivers as well as the headband.


Here We See The Groove In The Driver Housing.

The Insertion of the driver into the headband is as simple and line it up and push it down. There is a good snug fit, but not so tight that you would need any force. Just slide until you feel it “pop” into place.


Behold! A Stereo Jack!

The TakeT H2 is terminated with a standard one quarter inch jack, so that it can be used with a regular headphone amplifier. 4-pin XLR might have perhaps been a better choice given the power requirements of the drivers though. Not to mention TakeT’s warning that regular headphones not be used in conjunction with the TR-2 transformer.


The headband design is a rigid, manually adjusted system. There is no bend and flex and grip like with most headphones. One puts on the H2, tries the fit then takes it off, adjusts the headband and tries again until the best fit is found. Adjustment is made by loosening the screws in the arc, moving the slider to the next notch in the arc bridge and retightening. It took me several adjustments to find the right fit, the advantage is that the headphone is fixed at the right size for you from then on, however it does make it awkward for multiple people to use the headphone. The cushion is made from real leather, like the earpads. It is also manually adjusted. The leather has holes in it like a belt and there are pegs on the inside of the arc for them. Again, fit is trail and correction. The comfort level of the H2 is most excellent; you might not have expected so from the look of it though. There is no clamp on the head at the ears, the pads just gently rest on your face, just enough to stop the headphone from moving around and the exceptionally light weight of the headphone and cable means there is just as little pressure on the top of the head. The earcups do swivel, although not by a very large amount, less than 45 degrees from one extreme to the other.

The H2 is not hugely sensitive to position on the head, but changes in sound do occur and they should be noted. Starting with the back of my ears up at the back of the earcup and moving the headphone backwards on my face until my ears touch the front of the earcup the following changes occur. Moving to about centre, the treble moves inward from a slightly forward on the soundstage presentation to a slightly more insistent, more direct presentation, cymbals sound a little less rich and a little more aggressive instead, the bass also sinks away slightly and the midrange becomes a little lost, particularly the low midrange. Ignoring these changes in sound texture though, the presentation of the sound also shifts; it becomes more traditionally headphone-like. Far more of the direct injection of sound which every single headphone no matter how “speaker like” it is has. With the headphone pushed all the way back the change is very strange, although perhaps not unexpected given the size of the headphones. Everything sounds like it being played from behind you; you want to turn your head to face the music. There may be those who prefer their ear at a certain place in the earcup and I suspect that the ear is supposed to lie centrally in the space.

My personal preference though was for my ear toward the back of the earcup; this affords the greatest degree of that speaker-like presentation and a move away from the “directness” of the traditional headphone presentation of sound. Perhaps I have spent too long with Jecklin designs. The fit of the headphone though, makes maintaining an exact position tricky because of the very light presence on the head. Depending on the fit, looking downwards or upwards may well cause the H2 to slide on the face. I was able though to attain a fit which did not permit this.

As regards positioning and fit, the earcups on the H2 are very large. Internal dimensions are a slightly rounded at the corners nine centimetres high by seven centimetres wide. The Omega 2 for comparison is six and a half centimetres tall by five and a half wide in a D shape. For those of you who are too old to know what the metric system is, that’s 3 ½ x 2 ¾ inches for the H2 vs. 2 ½ x 2 inches for the Omega 2. Either way, there’s a lot of room in that earcup for you to find a “just so” place for your ears. The only problem I can foresee is for those of you who have ears that stick out somewhat. The H2 has very shallow earcups at only around one centimetre deep from protective net to earpad surface.

The changes in the character of the sound with position and fit configuration though are comparatively small when contrasted with the Ergo AMT which is hugely placement sensitive, and to the Omega 2 which is very fit sensitive. I wear the H2 so that the pads are literally just touching my face, no pressure, but with no give, so that shaking my head does not cause the headphone to wobble around or slide off.


The TakeT Piezoelectric Driver.

Taking a picture of the driver elements is not easy. I do not have a particularly good camera, it’s a rather antiquated Sony point and shoot, and no combination of natural light or flash and focus I tried offered a terribly clear view of the piezo membrane though the protective mesh. You can see though in this shot, and in the one at the start of the review the basic structure of the driver. The pleats are folded vertically and are at their widest at the bottom, tapering towards the top. Larger pleats make for easier low frequency reproduction and smaller ones better for higher frequencies. The AMT structure of course also allows for a much larger driver surface area to be fitted into a smaller space. The central strip in the centre of the headphone is labelled as a super tweeter; the H2 is thus a two way headphone, similar to the much loved by many AKG K340. I regret that I do not have any knowledge of what nature of crossover, if any, is employed though. The way in which treble presentation changes with respect to wearing position though, would clearly correlate with the central driver being used as a tweeter.

I also have a PDF file showing a design diagram of the headphone with a clear picture of the driver shape. It seems however to be based on the H1 headband assembly. Should you be interested, you can download it here.

Both the front and back sides of the driver housing are protected by a grille cloth. The grille spacing is not very fine though and I think that it would be very easy for stray hairs to work their way through. Near the end of my time with the H2, I noticed a very minor buzz had developed in the left earcup during prolonged bass tones. A little blow of air ala Grattle cure and it was gone though.

It’s also not the most handsome headphone to have ever been made. This is almost certainly a direct consequence of aesthetics being far and away a secondary concern after the sound. The housing will have been designed solely for the purpose of containing that piezoelectric driver. That’s why the protective grilles are part of the driver assembly rather than the headband assembly and why, in combination with the dual application of the driver, the design is modular.

It’s large and black and the headband looks clunky. It looks not entirely unlike but somewhat akin to a dissimilarity of a Stax SR-202 after too many cream cakes. Yet I have to confess that I find it rather handsome. Not beautiful, certainly not, there’s none of the Headphile woody polish or the sheen of a limited edition Audio Technica here. Rather, this headphone is a masculine kind of handsome, a butch look in sturdy utilitarian black. Of the same aesthetic appeal of the Grado PS1. It’s a weighty gravitational presence in spite of its light mass.

Enough though of my aesthetic ramblings, I’ve owned five headphones with a Float chassis, not to mention The Surrounder, my artistic credentials are null and void.


Part 6: On The TR-2 - The TR-2 Transformer Box. Just What Does It Do? More Importantly, How Essential Is It?


The TR-2 transformer box is not an essential ancillary piece of equipment for using the H2; it is an optional extra for the improvement of tone quality. Such at least was it seemed, the meaning of the blurb on the TakeT website and the content of the email from Mr Takei. How true is this though? No doubt there are many of you who interested in this headphone but put off by the fact that it seems to need such an expensive accessory to sound at its best. Is it essential to buy the TR-2 in order to best appreciate the H2? First, let us have a look at it.


Ta-Da!

Let not its humble, unassuming, beautifully brushed metal appearance deceive you. That little box is in fact so solidly built that it feels like its full of lead, the heavy duty bolted on handle there really is needed. This thing weighs a tonne. A good omen I felt. I am one of those who traditionally associate solidity and mass with good construction. The TR-2 feels like I could drop it out of my window and find that the pavement cracks while the case remains intact. Bomb-Proof would be the summery.


There’s a quick orbit around the TR-2 (No 2048x6144 Size)


And there are the binding posts for connection to a speaker amplifier. They will screw down for use with bare wire or will take banana plugs. Because of the shape and size of the banana plugs I was using, I removed the screw nuts in order to gain a better insertion. Read into that last sentence whatever degree of innuendo you wish. The difference in the size of the threads between the top and bottom pairs of binding posts I am at a loss to explain. What though, actually lies beneath that shiny outer shell?


It should be noted that I did get permission from Mr Takei prior to doing this. Indeed, had he not told me the details of its construction I would not, I suspect, have been able to go through with it. Disassembly was fairly simple in the end though.


The casing is a sort of modular assembly. The front and rear faceplates slot into the bottom half of the case, to which the heavy duty transformers are bolted. The top half of the case with the handle bolted on, is then slid over the top. The two halves are joined by a heavy metal plate screwed into place between them. Removal only of the top 2 screws on each side is then required to open it up. The black tape which you can see is very sticky and is there to help stabilise the whole assembly. Without Mr Takei's warning about it being there, I would have never removed the top panel, for fear i was risking breaking something off, it's very sticky indeed.


Here then we can see the inside of the TR-2.

More images here, here, here, and here.

And 2048x1536 versions of them here, here, here, and here

As you can see, the TR-2 is basically two heavy duty transformers wired between the speaker binding posts and the stereo jack socket. The input from a power amplifier moves through the resistors, through the transformers and out to the socket.

And let us forget not the information literature.


TakeT TR-2 “Manual”

My first attempt to power the H2 via a normal headphone socket was fruitless to say the least. Using a Sennheiser quarter inch to eighth inch converter and running them directly from the headphone output of an iPod resulted in what can charitably be described as silence. But wait, turning the volume all the way up on a really hot mixed clipped song gave a tiny smattering of sound. If you want to approximate the effect, bury your PX100 under four feet of cement and listen. Even the Ergo AMT, which likes a good couple of watts runs from the iPod headphone socket, albeit poorly.

The headphone socket on my NAD C352 integrated amplifier was more successful, it drove the H2 to a listenable volume, but the volume dial was past 12PM never usually seeing even seen 9PM during its usual use with my 88dB efficiency speakers. If I were to have removed the headphone jack while listening to the H2, I would almost certainly have blown up my speakers. Use of the headphone socket on my ARIA P14 tube amplifier also gave a listenable volume, but on turning up the sound it distorted. I wanted to be able to run the H2 from the same amplifier, both with and without the TR-2 transformer though. So I fashioned myself a speaker terminal to quarter inch jack socket adapter. This way I had a normal headphone socket running right from the speaker taps of the ARIA, as well as having the TR-2 wired up at the same time. This would allow me to compare the impact of the TR-2 on the sound with the same amp. The best sound without the TR-2 was achieved in this manner, The NAD C352 headphone socket has the horsepower but lacks the refinement, it made everything sound a little airbrushed and smoothed over compared to the speaker terminals of the ARIA. I was also very wary of how much power a mistake with cables would suddenly feed into my bellowed Quads. Sonic issues aside, running the H2 from the NAD just made me plain nervous.

The TakeT H2 needs some pretty serious electricity to get it singing. I think that unless you plan to use a speaker terminal to stereo jack socket converter, or unless you have a heavy duty headphone amplifier, you simply won’t be able to get them going. The ARIA puts out 15 watts and was driving by my estimation between 2 and 4 watts depending on the volume I wanted to listen at, and of course, the volume of the album. An increase in volume though, brings with it an ever increasing change of distortion in the reproduction. This is nothing to do with the power output of the amp; rather it is to do with a combination of the power handling of the headphone and the type of music being played. Turning up the volume on the amp to increase the volume will start to overload the headphone beyond its limits and it is here that we see the real need of the TR-2 beyond any improvements in tone quality and we also understand the original phrasing of Mr Takei when he referred to a “bigger sound”.

The purpose of the TR-2 transformer is to allow the H2 to get the particular kind of electricity that it really needs to drive it optimally: a kind of electricity which headphone sockets and speaker amps do not traditionally output. The TR-2 is a load bridge between an unusual piezoelectric transducer and a traditional amplifier designed for moving coil transducer. Is it essential? No, but there’s no question that adding it transforms the headphones performance. I will elaborate on the exact nature of the changes in sound in part 8. To summarise here though: In order to listen at the headphones true potential, or to listen above a certain volume level which is dependant on the music being played, the TR-2 becomes more and more necessary.

The greater the power in the low frequency of the music the greater the chance of distortion because of unmet power needs and so the lower the volume must be for these kinds of music. I was able to jive along with no problems to anything from Brian Eno to Dave Brubeck to Pink Floyd. But Deep Purple, Massive Attack or Bloom 06, with their much greater demands for impact and extension in the lower registers needed the dial turned down just a click. Perfectly listenable of course, and highly subjective to how load each individual likes to listen to their music.

What is curious to me is not the warning against using conventional headphones with the TR-2 adapter on the basis of the danger to your hearing because of the huge power output to a low energy moving coil headphone driver. But the warning that such use not only risks this, but also risks the terminal failure of those headphones and the speaker amplifier connected. I was in fact listening to my Jecklin Float 2 dynamic headphones with the TR-2 when I first went through the product literature, and in spite of the fact that they have never sounded so good in all the time I have had them I promptly disconnected them. My electrical knowledge is not sufficient to allow me to comment on this and I hope that other head-fiers may be able to shed some light on the matter.

I think that generally speaking, the H2 alone should be able to satisfy anyone looking for a high end headphone unless they are a volume lover or a bass head. The bass heads however have not escaped spending $1500 on an unsuitable headphone however. Rather, they will be dismayed to learn that they will need to spend the extra $800 on top in order to obtain their holy grail.


Part 7: Test Setup. Of Tubes & Turntables.


Those of you who profess the source-first philosophy will no doubt be dismayed to learn that my digital source is still a Creative Audigy 2 ZS soundcard. I am somewhat of a digital source sceptic; however I plan to make my next upgrade in this area. After all, if I don’t hear a difference, I can always go back. My turntable is a Pro-Ject Xpression 1.2 with a Pro-Ject Carbon 9 tonearm and an Ortofon Super OM cart with OM10 needle, my phono pre-amp is a NAD PP2. While not as poorly regarded (or as unfairly regarded as some may argue) as the Audigy, it is still entry level compared with the headphones. For this I have only my student’s budget and my curiosity overwhelming my hi-fi pragmatism to blame.

The first part of this sonic review concerns the sound of the H2 without the TR-2 transformer box, the latter part with the TR-2 employed. In both cases the amplifier that I am using is the ARIA 6P14 valve amplifier. This is a 15watt Chinese amplifier of the kind seen on eBay. It uses EL84 output tubes and 6N3 input tubes. I have replaced the awful sounding and slightly faulty stock EL84 tubes with Russian mil’spec ones. The nomenclature of these amplifiers is slightly debatable, the Amp has Mensyue engraved on it and the manual reads Shengyi. You can read the Head-Fi thread about them here. I have found it though to be a very good performer for the money. I wouldn’t have considered it worth the price I paid with postage from China on top, but my seller was resident in the UK so that problem was eliminated. I have been using the amp with the Ergo AMT since I got it and it without question was an improvement over the Ergo Amp 1, particularly in improving the bass of the AMT. For the comparison with the Omega 2, I use a Stax SRM-717.

I spent the weeks I’ve had with this headphone listening to my music collection, which is quite large. To list a series of album titles here would be long, but ultimately pointless. I shall instead refer to specific songs artists or albums as is necessary. I listen though to all sorts of music, from A Silver Mt. Zion to Zev Feldman, from Acoustic to World. You can get a feel for the general patterns of my listening from looking at my Audioscrobbler page, although it doesn’t account for vinyl or for when I use Foobar2000 instead of iTunes, which is around 30% of the time.



Part 8: The Sonic Review – So After All Of That Farting Around, Can We Please Get Down To The Nitty-Gritty Of How This Thing Actually Sounds?


Part 8.1 - My Initial Expectations:

Nobody wants to drop money on an unknown quantity. Such was unquestionably the reason why noone on head-fi has taken the plunge on the H2 to date. Perhaps bad memories of the Pioneer Piezoelectric headphones, doubt over the technology, doubt over the company or an unwillingness to spend cash on something like this when there was a more attractive, never mind better reported on competition. I quite honestly did not know quite what to expect from the H2. My guess would have been along a Stax Lambda type of sound, but with the light bass of the Ergo AMT. The H2 was after all another Heil driver and that is what they are classically known for. Whatever expectations I did have, they were quite literally blown away. In fact, if I had only worn one side of the headphone instead of both, I suspect I might have had my brains blown out through the opposite ear. I certainly wasn’t expecting the H2 to perform at its price point. This was Omega 2 territory, surely nothing dares tread there?


Part 8.2 – My Initial Impressions:

Initial impressions make me want to cry. Cry giant wet salty tears. What's that emotion where your both overjoyed and dismayed at the same time?

Such were my words written on head-fi after I first listened to these. What did I mean by that? What lay behind those words was joy at the sound of the H2; it had exceeded all and any of my expectations. Dismay though was twofold, it sounded better than my existing Ergos. Here was a better bit of air motion transformer than was managed by the kings of the technology, Precide of Switzerland. Dismay also that I might be listening to the best headphone in the world, when I very much thought that I was already lucky enough to have it. That wasn’t enough to induce dismay on its own though. It was the knowledge I’d have to give it back.

I do try to avoid certain words or phrases when I describe aural characteristics. I am most vehemently hateful of the word “natural” but other arbitrary words that mean nothing when not placed in a more elaborately defined context such as neutral, liquid, smooth, sweet or musical are just as offensive. They are all words which generally seem to offer praise without actually describing anything. Just read through a selection of speaker or headphone reviews and see how many of them mention a liquid or lush midrange, or an “effortless” treble. I hope that my descriptions, by trying to draw parallel imagery with other senses do a better job than such wand waving.


Part 8.3 - With The TR-2:

Bass:

ARGH!
ARGH!
ARGH!
ARGH!
ARGH!
ARGH!
ARGH!
ARGH!

Oh **** me.

That is while melodramatic, a deserved visual guide because lets not beat about the mulberry bush here my fellow Morris Dancers. Plugging in the TR-2 and resuming play you had better be sitting back in your chair, preferably strapped in and if possible with some kind of support for your head and neck in case of whiplash. This is bow and grovel time because the H2 is, you will have no doubt upon exposure, the incarnation of the God of Bass. The second hand L3000 and PS-1 market is doomed, because there’s now a new option at less than their rising prices.

The H2 has the most inconceivable and literally jaw dropping impact, slam and resonance. To make clear my use of these three terms: Impact is the sound of the collision between the hammer and the wire, the beater and the drum. It is the tone of the sound, its cerebral half; Slam is the tangible consequence precipitated by the material presence of the sound energy, the physicality of the sound, its tactile half; Resonance is the texture of the combination of those two as notes continue, as they decay or build up. It is the continuation of minor variations in a sound as it progresses. You see the gong struck, experience the radiation of those sound waves against your body and feel them as they decay away after the strike. One of the great advantages that speakers have over headphones is their ability to physically involve the listener by providing the full tactile experience. The TakeT H2 comes closer than any headphone I’ve ever heard to approximating that sensation. If you are a home cinema fan and those DT-770s aren’t doing exploding cars and charging Oliphaunts well enough for you, then head on over to the upgrade plate.

The bass also has a phenomenal extension and fleshes out the lower frequencies in the overall sound of music with such finesse that you will find yourself blinking in disbelief not just on your first exposure, but anytime that you play music unfamiliar to you and are greeted with bass that might have otherwise been just part of the music, particularly really big drums, the huge drums on Mike Oldfield’s Amarok have never bloomed and decayed in my ears so magnificently before. Playing a selection of test music to probe the limitations of the H2’s bass presentation I was simply unable to find any. Jean-Michel Jarre’s Téo & Téa, his latest album of intensive club beats mixed with his usual intimate and intricate synthesisers begins with the track Fresh News, it has a seriously intensive low bass beat which had my earlobes wobbling and the H2 didn’t even seem to be trying. Montuno Noreño by Jomed, starts off with some lightly twanging guitar but when that big bass beat kicked in I kid you not, I actually recoiled slightly in my chair. As a point of immediate comparison, my Quad 21L floor standing speakers couldn’t reproduce the bass on this track with such finesse and authority, even when cranked. I don’t even want to go into the details of my listening to the 180 gram pressing of Donald Fagen’s Morph The Cat, suffice to say that a fifty-two minute and forty-nine second long aurgasm is not for those with weak hearts.

The bass is more present in the overall frequency response of the headphone, however despite its authority it is never overly dominating. Albums where the bass on tracks is of a secondary prominence to other instruments are not muffled. Vocals are never shut out by the beat. Even on tracks like The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army the vocals are not obscured by the commanding bass. Similar comment applies for Massive Attack and the Prodigy, bass is supremely involving for the listener. Using the NCH test tone generator, testing at music listening volume and not cranking to find something that wasn’t there I found that the bass extension on the H2 will go right down to the very lowest musical registers cleanly. Roll off starts at about 80 Hz but is shallower than most headphones. Sharper fall off is at about 35-40 Hz but so little musical information is that low anyway it makes little difference and wave propagation dynamics make ultra low bass in headphones almost impossible to reproduce in a meaningful way. Giving the H2 some quite challenging church organ music, Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor (a fabulous piece, thank you Milkpowder), the H2 manages to carry off the low frequency reverbs and secondary harmonics of the bass resonating very well. Not as competently as a speaker setup, but very impressive reproduction of such a piece for a headphone. The H2 information sheet quotes 10 Hz – 100 KHz. At 10 Hz you are just starting to hear individual pulses, but the TakeT driver will reproduce that if you ask it of it. Under normal musical playback, such frequencies should only come about as a result of wow or flutter on your turntable. CDs don’t go that far down.

I am one of those who while enjoying moving coil headphones, particularly the HD650 and Ergo 2, too readily recognise that for all of their impact and speed they are still fundamentally slow and sluggish, that veil that is so often associated with Sennheiser headphones is for me common to all moving coil headphones and the only practicable escape is to move over to electrostatics. That though brings in its own separate set of problems. There’s the equally large counter argument from that side of the strator spacing that electrostatic bass lacks presence, it lacks the motive slam of a moving coil headphone and that even the Omega 2 paired with an ES1 still can’t touch an HD650 for that particular sense of authoritative presence.

The TakeT H2 & TR-2 bridges the ages old tonal divide.

You get all of the speed and tonal accuracy of electrostatic bass, combined with the sense of physical slam that electrostatics are so often criticised as lacking. Not exactly the same kind of slam as a moving coil headphone thank goodness, because this isn’t just a raw slam, this is a true bodily presence alongside the cerebral tonal presence at every level of bass reproduction right down to the very lowest notes of your recording. This isn’t just slam and this isn’t just tone, this is real genuine texture. It’s not looking at a high resolution picture of a rock or having the rock thrown at you, it’s having the rock put in front of you, for you to touch, to feel every contour and change in surface consistency. The very best amalgamation of the low end reproduction of both technologies, bundled into one single headphone and it’s enough to make you openly weep.

That such a headphone would come as a result of an amalgamation of two of the most notoriously bass deficient driver designs combined together is a toffee-sweet irony.

Midrange:

The qualities which make the bass so fabulous in the H2 extend also to the midrange. It is to be expected that bass notes are delivered with a sense of impact; however proper impact in the midrange is far trickier. When a string is plucked or a snare drum hit, there is a great impact, a detonation which precipitates the whole sound and the ability to convey this lends a so much greater a sense of involvement with the music. However unless the rest of the character of the sound is balanced in its presentation then it can seem dry or cold. Similarly if the sound is unbalanced so that the starting impact is soft or diffuse in the balance of the presentation the character can seem too warm or slack. The H2 has a brilliant ability to provide the plucked strings of a guitar or the pizzicato of a violin or cello with this impact and with no roll off in the quality of the resultant harmonics. Simpler acoustic records sound just gorgeous because of this.

Listening to Ludovico Einaudi I can close my eyes and feel as though I am right there watching him play. I’ve seen him live and sat front row centre, the H2 could only possibly have been more involving for me if Divenire were a binaural album. You can actually lose yourself in the music with unsettling ease; such is the capacity of that piezo driver to make a piano sound like a piano, a cello like a cello or a snare drum like a snare drum, not a tambourine.

On vocals the H2 shows no preference for either male or female reproduction, excelling at both. The sensual rumble behind voices like Rod Stewart or Brad Roberts has an aurgasm inducing feel to them and female singers like Annie Lennox, Yma Sumac or Dido are no less enjoyable. A sustained vocal note, perhaps a characteristic of singing which Yuma Sumac is supreme at can be reproduced without any warble beyond the singers own vibrato. The issues of standing wave resonance which could be detrimental to the sound given the H2’s driver design never made themselves apparent to me during any of my listening. Mr Takei has clearly managed to jump that technical hurdle.

The fact that the H2 can also provide such quality renditions, even when given comparatively poor material is also wonderful. Low bitrate MP3 files or dubiously well recorded or mastered music gain a sense of enjoyment and quality which Creative’s marketing executives can only have dreamt of in their wildest fantasies when they came up with the idea for the Crystalliser.

Depending upon the music that you listen to, you might find that the bass can bleed over in its resonance, having a somewhat muffling effect upon the low midrange; the bass guitar might sound too prominent to your ears over the lead guitar, or a double bass might soften the tone of a trumpet or trombone on a jazz album. Such possibilities though, are extremely unlikely to ever be cause for complaint, because by the time that you have reached the stage of looking for that sort of harmonic pollutant in your music, you will already be familiar with the H2’s sound, and will have already have fallen in love with it.

Treble:

The sound signature of the H2 would easily be described by some as dark, or recessed, by people who like a sparkle or a bite in their treble presentation. I’m looking at the SA5000 and Grado owners here. Is the treble on the H2 rolled off at all though? The huge presence of the bass might be one factor to contribute to such a perception. However the H2’s treble is nothing of the sort. The H2 has got a dedicated supertweeter, and it shows. Sky high synthesisers and screaming Oldfieldian guitar solos are reproduced without he slightest trace of hazing or edginess. Vangelis’ Antarctica is a supremely beautiful and delicate album of soaring and whispering notes. Winds and rubbed wine glass rims, behind which is a soft deep bass and quick snaps of clapping and percussion. It is very easy for a headphone to manifest a degree of sibilance with such music, especially on the percussion, the sound stretching out as a hissing “s-s-s-s-s-s-s” rather than the rapidly shuffling pss-chss-fss pss-chss-fss pss-chss-fss that is really is. The H2 is accurate and fast in the treble without being fatiguing and without compromising on treble definition either. But how great is its power in this regard?

Switched on Bach with its old school Moog synthesisers has a lot of high treble energy behind it, often squeaky sometimes screechy, the album for me is too fatiguing to listen to on headphones. Well the H2 didn’t save me from this fate, I couldn’t do the whole album with it on, but I managed longer than I usually do. So this I think means that the treble of the H2 cannot be overly softened just reproduced very clearly by the dedicated tweeter.

Moving off the high frequencies of computer based music and onto real instruments, listening to some piano and violin concertos by Mozart, both instruments have real texture in the high frequencies, there isn’t the degree of grain that the AMT can be guilty of, perhaps because the H2 is a more forgiving headphone. Certainly I can much more easily put up with poorly encoded or recorded material with the H2 than the AMT. Nevertheless, the little errors in the recording I have are discernable without being intrusive. A trait of accurate forgiveness which is shared by the Jecklin Float electrostatic, making vinyl listening that bit easier with headphones, which are intrinsically so much worse than speakers for putting up with any snap crackle or pop. It was a real joy to sit through my Karajan 9 symphonies vinyl box set. I didn’t gorge myself on the whole lot in one day, it took me two, but the entire experience was wonderful, especially considering that the LPs are not in as pristine condition as some of my collection.

Soundstage, Imaging, Instrument Separation, Accuracy, PRaT and Dynamics:

The soundstage of the H2 is slightly further from the ear than most headphones; one has to remember though that great portions of TakeT’s massive driver are actually a greater distance from the ear than the driver in a regular headphone. The H2s ability to somewhat mitigate the “direct injection” effect which all headphones have is in concord with this expansive presentation, although that mitigation as I have mentioned is slightly dependant upon the wearing position. The soundstage is wide as well, but it’s filled in perfectly from end to end, there’s no two-blob or three-blob effect at all. This fleshed out soundstage is also susceptible to wearing position, but doesn’t collapse unless the headphones are worn fully back on the head. Albums which do not have much soundstage though are not rendered with an artificial one; the H2 will not throw sound to an apparent source in the head stage from which it shouldn’t come. If a singer is breathily singing close into the microphone, or if the jazz ensemble has been put together in a small room or studio the H2 will not inflate them to sound larger than they are. It does direct music as well as it does diffuse, imitate as well as it does grand.

Picking an instrument or a note out of a song or symphony is as simple as reaching out with your minds ear. Even complex multi layered recordings or fast paced cacophonies can be deconstructed into their parts with a careful ear and the requisite familiarity with the music. If you prefer to pick out the cello or the horns in a piece you are well able to find them even if they lie far back in the mix. Such a discerning acuity means that little anomalies you know of in albums you are intimately familiar with can be resolved very easily. Want to heat that bit of Beatles music at the end of Dark Side of the Moon? No problem there. Sometimes though with other extremely faint anomalies on tracks the bass can be enough to muffle it, as was the case when I listened for the very faint, previously on the tape female vocals at about 0:55 - 1:05 into Mike Oldfield’s Charleston.

The H2’s musical accuracy, by which I mean to also incorporate terms such as detail and resolution in my description, is spot on with the H2. Even the very sharpest transients in music or the fastest modulations in notes are conveyed excellently. The H2 has not though the ruthless unforgiving kind of detail which can often be in correlation with such accuracy. Detail is not overemphasised, either as the result of an inflated treble presentation or as hardness in the sound. Indeed the H2 is surprisingly forgiving of poor material, either poorly recorded or mastered, for its detail level. You will be in no doubt that a recording has its limitations, but the H2 has an uncanny ability to simply deliver them, instead of calling them to attention as the Ergo AMT does. Black Holes & Revelations by Muse and Californication by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, sure they were poorly mastered, but they weren’t unlistenable. De-Loused in the Comatorium by The Mars Volta though, still proves beyond all possible redemption. There were particular moments listening to Kate Bush’s Aerial where the H2 gave me just a little bit more information to my musical experience than I had previously perceived. Particularly the spooky voices amalgamated with the hooting owl at the end of Aerial Tal and the fabulous rendering of Rolf Harris’s voice on An Architect’s Dream before BOM-BOM^BOM-BOM the song kicked in.

PRaT is a term which I have never been sure about using. I understand that it means Pace, Rhythm and Timing, qualities which I ascribe to the recording or the music rather than the reproduction. Steely Dan has PRaT, Brian Eno does not. The Hoffman mastering of Stadium Arcadium has PRaT, the retail version does not. I think though that PRaT may be a quality in the reproduction of that sound which correlates with the capacity of that reproduction to get your foot tapping, make you snap your fingers, to spontaneously or consciously get you to involve your body in the music. Well I have done more wildly gesticulating air drumming and madder drunken conducting of the symphony with the H2 than I ever do with other headphones. The ability of the H2 to involve you in the music and illicit a response from you to get your foot tapping and to get your head nodding is astounding. From Dave Brubeck’s live in Mexico to the epic drum solo of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida to the mad guitars of Hocus Pocus I suddenly found myself playing along to any selection of invisible instruments.

Listening to the opening of Roundabout by Yes with its drawn out reversed notes and its plucked guitar every note builds and decays as if you were listening to the real instrument, the H2 offers stunning dynamic presentation. Quiet soft notes are rendered with the same resolution and quality as the louder passages. You do not need to turn the volume up very loud in order to experience all of your music well. Such a need for high volume levels was my biggest bugbear with the AKG K340, and the HD600 and HD650 are also guilty of needing a too high a volume before blooming to my ears. If you do want to turn up the volume for some intensive ear mangling though the H2 does not disappoint, your ears will tire long before you can get so loud that the headphone cannot cope. These drivers remember, are designed for a dual purpose application as a miniature speaker with the WHD adapter. The warnings that come with Stax earspeakers, noting that the great distortion free presentation of their sound is temptation to turn the volume to high applies just as much to the H2, except that in spite of its incredible physical presence over an electrostatic, the H2 is just as fatigue free.

Sonic Strengths:

To my ears, everything, the H2 just does everything the way I want it. I’m simply going to leave it at that. There wasn’t anything that I gave this headphone to do that it did badly. Everything from Ludovico Einaudi to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, from Norah Jones to Lordi; CDs, LPs and DVDs, was smile inducing and satisfying to listen to. But most especially unique strengths are that sense of involvement with the bass, only speakers or the Surrounder offers the same degree of tactility. And the delicious texture of voices and instruments, that stunning realism in the resonance and tone of the sound.

Sonic Limitations:

It’s entirely possible that there is too much bass here. How much bass is too much bass though? I keep looking for better bass in my headphones. The AMT has a wonderful tone to the bass but it’s rolled off and it lacks any impact. The Omega 2 is famed for its bass, which is both extensive and for an electrostatic, has got serious impact. There would no doubt be people who might find the H2’s bass imposing, detrimental to the rest of the frequency spectrum. Possibly only with certain kinds of music which they might want a more delicate presentation of. Certainly with very bassy music the continual resonance might be overbearing on the sound, but its never fatiguing on the ear physically. Some people have made comments about both the Omega 2 and the HD650 being overly bassy or dark, when in fact both of these headphones have excellent midrange reproduction and fantastic treble extension. As usual, it comes down to personal taste. I cannot foresee what opinions may foster should other head-fiers take it upon themselves to go with the H2. Dark and recessed are two words I foresee those who do not like the H2 using to describe it and I could understand their use well. Like with the AMT, an extended listening is really merited in order to acclimatise and to see past the initial unfamiliar onslaught. Beyond this issue the only sonic limitations of the H2 stem from its use without the TR-2 transformer, on which I shall now comment.


Part 8.4 - Without The TR-2:

Describing the sound of the H2 without the TR-2 first would make the descriptions of sound with the TR-2 too good. Describing the sound of the H2 without the TR-2 afterwards I make the headphone sound diminished without it. There isn’t really a way to win. As the review is primarily concerned with the H2 & TR-2 combination though, this section as a secondary piece seemed the more apt orientation.

In the overall picture there are two things that suffer the most from the withdrawal of the TR-2 from the signal chain. What is most immediately notable is the need to turn the volume dial on the amplifier a lot further to generate the same listening level and that previous listening levels with certain music cannot be reached at all. This illustrates clearly that the H2 is not just a demanding, but a difficult load and that there is a need to provide it not just lots of power, but with the right kind of power. It also makes comparative listening with and without the TR-2 while ensuring the same volume level slightly tricky. Any increase in volume is easily and readily perceived as an improvement in sound quality and much back and forth listening was required in order to ensure that some of the differences heard were not down to this possibility.

The second victim of the removal of the TR-2 is the bass presentation on the H2. It loses that entire glorious dynamic slam and it also loses its extension into the lowest registers, roll off is more acute. Bass doesn’t become anaemic though, although the immediate change when switching certainly suggests so. Transferring to any other headphone after the H2 makes that headphone sound thin in the bass. Rather the H2 sounds more like a pure electrostatic in the bass. Not as slamming or well defined as the Omega 2 and not as bass heavy as the Jecklin Float electrostatic, but closer to the Stax Lambda kind of presentation. Extension is better than the SR-202 and the bass is still more heavily present in the overall frequency spectrum. However it isn’t as satisfying to hear anymore, in spite of its excellent tone quality and its impact because of the volume limitations. Trying to turn up the volume in order to compensate for the TR-2s removal will not work. With bass heavy music or loud rocking music it results in the encroachment of distortion into the sound. Pop music like Eiffel 65 or Gnarls Barkley are no go areas unless you can enjoy them at lower volume levels and like the typically electrostatic presentation of bass.

The midrange and treble are less affected in quality than the bass, accounting for playback volume. Vocals seem slightly closer to the ear though, as the whole soundstage contracts. It doesn’t collapse down into blobs but there is a great deal of air and space around multi instrument pieces which are spread over the soundscape that gets lost. Treble becomes torn and a little abrasive, especially noticeable on female vocals. Music which is strongly based in the midrange and highs rather than with such emphasis in the bass can be enjoyed more fully by comparison than rock and pop. Bizet’s Pearl Fishers or Rob MacKillop’s Flowers of the Forest still sound glorious without the TR-2 attached and if you hadn’t heard the H2 with the TR-2 you would I think be very happy with its performance in this regard.

Dynamic capabilities also suffer, there is less of a sense of musical involvement and low volume passages are not nearly so satisfying anymore. This is not helped by the inability to adjust volume to compensate some of the time. Generally I think, running the H2 without the TR-2 is akin to running any demanding headphone from an insufficient setup. Plugging a K701 into your computers soundcard you will get a sample of their sound and you will likely enjoy them, but later when you add in your first headphone amplifier, that same amp you were so sceptical of, you realise how wrong you were. These headphones really do need an amp to shine and now they are transformed and you couldn’t go back to unamped. It is similar for any demanding load. The difference in the K1000 between a Sonic Impact T-amp and the Red Wine Signature will be huge, or the difference in the SR-404 or Omega 2 between the SRM-212 and the SRM-717 will also be noticeable. Amplification matters, and its not just a matter of power, it’s a matter of the right kind of power for the transducer, and this “right kind” of power is I suspect exactly where the basis of headphone - amplifier synergy lies.

Even with such limitations in its capabilities the sound quality of the H2 rivals the best headphones I have heard. Overall though the limits imposed on listening volume are too much for me. I would personally be dissatisfied with the H2 minus the TR-2. I do not listen particularly loud under normal circumstances, however I like volume to be loud enough that music sounds like it’s energetic, the lone H2 couldn’t do this for me, similar to my experience with the AKG K340, I just don’t feel as involved as I wanted to be.


Part 9: H2 vs. SR-007 – A Head To Head Comparison.


Here we have two world class headphones competing in a direct head to head comparison. I have chosen a direct face off with the Omega 2 because it is a well known and well listened headphone at the very top of the market. The Ergo AMT is not. I’m running the Omega 2 from a Stax SRM-717, the TakeT H2 from the ARIA P14 combined with the TR-2 transformer. I have followed the same pattern of comment as in the section above, for what I hope will make for purposes of easier comparison.

Part 9.1 – My Initial Expectations:

During my time with the H2 they have seen about 90% of my headphone listening use. The Omega 2 had been getting dusty for a few weeks, what I expected going back to it was that it would not be as good as the H2. Part of me wanted this; I wanted to be able to unquestionably crown a new king of headphones. Another part of me didn’t want this that was the part of me that knew I had the Omegas and would have to give the H2 back. The third more sensible part of me thought that it wouldn’t matter because neither headphone would truly be “better” because it’s all about individual taste at this point. The first two parts of me shouted down the third though, with the argument that if to my ears the H2 was the better for my tastes I was still going to have to cry myself to sleep after it was gone.

Comparing two headphones requires a different kind of listening than evaluating only the sound of one. Switching from one to the other you have to know the immediate changes in the sound that occur but you also have to account for your ears reacclimatising to the different sound in order to judge it on its own merits and not just on the comparatives. This section was originally part of the overall picture when I was writing this review, however I had such a lot to say on the matter that I feel it merited editing my commentary into its own section. I also thought that head-fiers would find a separate head to head interesting in its own right.

Part 9.2 – Head To Head:

The O2 needs more volume to bloom, to sound as though its actually driving than the H2 does, curiously in tandem with this, the O2 is more satisfactory at very low volumes, maintaining a fuller sound while the H2 sounds thin. By low volume I’m talking about 1 (eight on clock) on the SRM-717 volume dial. Transitioning from the H2 to the O2 the cumulative effect of all sonic changes is one of congestion, a slight clogging of the sound. The bottom end seems to vanish for a few moments, and the top end seems to recede into the midrange, music sounds slightly slower and muddled. The immediate desire is to return back to the H2. The soundstage of the O2 is closer in towards the head than the H2 but slightly rounder compared to the H2s slightly forward of the ear soundstage. These factors combine to produce the transitory effect that the midrange on the O2 is more prominently placed in the sound. Switching while listening to vocally centralised music like Pavarotti, his vocals sound a little clearer and he also seems to step toward you. Switching during Deep Purple and at first I wonder where all the rock has gone. It takes a moment or two to reacclimatise to the O2 but my foot tapping is less enthusiastic. My spontaneous desire to manically drum along on the desk and swing my head back and forward a bit is well curbed too, in spite of the fact that the O2 is much more secure on the head for such activity.

Moving from the O2 to the H2 is not quite an exercise in opposites. To start with, after a period with the O2, the H2 feels insecure on the head; it is easier to move from the feather light touch of the H2 to the soft clamp of the O2 than it is to go the other way. As regards sound, the bass of the H2 can be an onslaught, intrusive and overwhelming, if the music has notable bass. But the music also gains a great sense of air and space. There seems to be more room in-between sounds and instruments and the effect is exacerbated by the decongestion of the midrange as the treble seems to move up and outward. Although the midrange decongests though, it seems to be less textured. An effect caused in combination by the expansion of the overall soundscape along with the more obvious presence of the upper and especially the lower registers. The midrange doesn’t seem to be as full and detailed as the O2 had been. The effect passes, but it takes longer to reacquire a lock on the H2 midrange than it does to do the same with the O2.

These more quick fire comparisons are an attempt to describe the differences in presentation between the two headphones in a quick fire change every five or ten minutes. There is no particular point in a comparison on a longer basis in the same way. I have already given my account of the H2’s own sound, and both headphones are so very high end that to look for differences in the ability to resolve detail or for any sonic artefacts in my setup would be moot.

Picking a favourite between the H2 and the O2 was not easy. As I have vouchsafed to you, coming immediately from one to the other, there were the alien changes to sound which made the previously worn one sound the better of the two, but after even a short period they were well in the groove again. I thought it necessary then, to try and contrive some sort of pure euphonic test. Both headphones are masters of desirable audiophile traits like accuracy, speed, detail and texture, but which is the better for pure musical involvement, without the pretexts or the focussed concentration of the reviewing ear?

Well after a self sacrificing few nights of listening with my good friends Gordon Greenall and James Beam I thought back on my listening and discovered what I think is the most important factor of all in such comparisons: That I had, probably 70% of the time, the H2 on my head. I would switch between the two, back and forth quickly or slowly but at some point I would just stop, always with the H2 on, until my nights listening, or DVD watching was concluded. At least on the majority of occasions.

To surmise, the H2 does everything that the Omega 2 does for me and it does most of it even more to my tastes. There is the argument to be made and I have no doubt that it will be made by great advocates of the Omega 2, that I, even with Stax’s highest voltage swing amplifier, am not providing the Omega 2 with a sufficiency of power to reach its potential. This may well be true, but the cost of an Omega 2 and SRM-717 much more closely mirrors the cost of an H2 and TR-2 than an Omega 2 and Blue Hawaii does. Stax’s announcement of what appears to be the SR-007 Mk.2 has been mentioned in a few threads here on Head-Fi. My own troublesome and insidious opinion is that they have heard the TakeT H2 and are scared of what it represents, which is the first real competition to the Omega 2 that there has been since it was launched. This wasn’t any bother for them until recently, because the H2 has no exposure in the west. Then I receive a set for review and the SR-007 Mk.2 appears. Conspiracy? You decide ;p

After I had been and done with this comparison, which followed my initial love period with the H2, I was still reaching for it every single time instead of the Omega 2 or the AMT. It is not so head and shoulders shampoo and blow dry superior that it could precipitate me into selling either of the others to raise funds, but there is no question that I will be buying one outright as soon as it is a practical option to do so.


Part 10: Conclusions – A Summery Of What Is Most Important Here.

How then should I summarise my opinions of the TakeT H2? Let me begin with some praise, follow it with some praise and then finish with some praise would be the general modus operandi, but I do have a few criticisms.

The H2 is, let there be absolutely no doubt, a milestone product. In terms of technical innovation and in terms of sound it is nothing short of astonishing. It is the utterly astounding and virgin implementation of this driver in this market segment. It is also sonically stunning and to my ears, bridges the gap between the qualities of the electrostatic drive system with the characteristics of the dynamic drive system, offering the very best characteristics of both with little of the compromises. You get the “invisible window to the music” clarity of sound and transient speed which only a planar drive system can offer, combined with a physical presence in the lower frequencies and a general earlobe wobbling sense of impact, the lack of which is so often a criticism of those same systems.

It is expensive and it does require the use of the TR-2 transformer to allow it to really shine at its full potential. Without the TR-2 you do not get that mind bogglingly astounding low end performance. Nor do you get the full dynamic impact and physical presence of the sound that the headphone is capable of. Nor can you turn up the volume with some kinds of music. Without the TR-2 though, if you can power it nicely, it will give you real an electrostatic-type flavour of sound not dissimilar to, but not as good as the Omega 2 without the need for an electrostatic amplifier. The TR-2 isn’t needed however if you are going to spring for the H2 you should unquestionably make it part of the budget. The H2 isn’t as aesthetically attractive as its market competition, although the Ergo AMT is hardly a beauty either. Its somewhat unusual ergonomics may be cause for annoyance for some listeners but are no more of an inconvenience than any headphone which takes a little effort for a proper fit.

Excepting the difficulties of amplification because of the TR-2 and the need for a speaker amp rather than headphone amp, I have almost nothing considerably negative to say about the H2 aside from wishing that it were cheaper. Especially in light of how cheap it looks.

On the issue of the TR-2, I point out to those who may nay-say the H2 as a sensible choice because of the need for it, that in headphone audio today we so regularly see thousand dollar amplifiers being connected to hundred dollar headphones. The transducer is ultimately what has the biggest impact on sound reproduction and if the TR-2 is needed to help this particular transducer reach its full potential then I do not think it any more of a complaint as far as costs are concerned than the listener who considers a mammoth class A amp essential for his K1000, or the listener who thinks that an HD650 never shows its true potential without a balanced cable that cost more than the headphone!

The same applies for electrostatic headphones. The street price of the Omega 2 is higher than the cost of the H2, to which you have to add your SRM-717 or because the Omega 2 is just as difficult to drive in its own sphere, a KGSS or Blue Hawaii amp even more expensive than the headphone again.

In today’s headphone market we have a few headphones which aspire to be king of the hill: Headphones like the Stax SR-007 Omega 2, the Grado GS1000, the Ultrasone Edition 9, the Precide Ergo AMT and the Audio Technica W5000. While of course at this level, personal taste plays a far bigger part than performance than it does in the lower segments of the market, the TakeT H2 on its own unquestionably belongs amongst this tier of illustrious company. Combined with the TR-2, it is a brutally supreme performer and while bearing in mind I have not heard the Edition 9 or the GS-1000, I have heard a great many other high end headphones and the TakeT H2 is, to my ears, The King. If I were in the market for a benchmark calibre headphone product to buy today, I would pick the TakeT H2. It’s unquestionably on my list for buys in the future. The only headphone I might try or buy first could be the K1000, the only high end headphone that I’m interested in and haven’t heard.

I expect that many of you who have a keen interest in this headphone are already pondering the merits of a dedicated amplifier which will provide an output like that of the TR-2 so that it will not be needed. As was mentioned earlier in the review, TakeT have been working on this solution and expect one to be ready for market in the autumn. I do not know if the information on the instruction sheets and in this review is enough for head-fiers with greater technical expertise than my own to discern what would be needed for the construction of such an amp, but I hope that progress might be made by the enthusiasts here on the subject.

Part 11: Postlude – Some Closing Comment.

I hope that if you have had the inclination to go through this review, which is a pretty heavy piece of reading, that you have enjoyed it. I certainly enjoyed writing it.

It has been a most pleasing and privileged few weeks with these headphones. I shall be sad to see them go and if I had the money, they wouldn’t be leaving at all. I would like to give my thanks to those who were of such a help to me in putting this together, for the information herein contained was not all of my own creation and I read heavily from assorted sources in order to piece many parts of it together and I have pestered several head-fiers with private messages. To those of you who have been of such a help with this I extend my most sincere thanks.

Carl, EricJ, Facelvega, Milkpowder, Setmenu, Spritzer, WertherDVX and Wualta for their combined input on a selection of my questions and debates over sound, technical inquires historical dates and terminology. M4GNOCTCOM for his beautiful animation skill and of course, Mr Takei for being kind enough to loan me his product and for being patient enough to loan it for such an extended duration. Although if I have managed to get something wrong somewhere, just send me a PM and I shall be sure to fix it.

If you have the inclination to read further on the TakeT H2, I regret that resources are thin. TakeT's company website and the one and two previous head-fi threads containing any pertinent information are all that I can really offer you. If you do find some resource with any information online be sure to post about it.

I hope that there will be head-fiers who are brave enough to take the plunge on this headphone. If you are thinking about it do please include the TR-2 in that wallet bruising. While I appreciate that the opinions of myself alone are not enough to offer a true endorsement of a product, making me wish at times like this I was someone with the clout of Six Moons, this review is likely, until someone else buys one of these, all that the H2 is going to get, not only on head-fi, but on the English speaking internet.

Now that we come to the end, I can end my continual revisions of this review. I can finally stop fiddling around as I have done over the last few days while waiting for my triple Headphoneus Supremus 4500th post. Not really a consistency in review posting because I didn’t write anything for my 3000th post, but never mind, hurrah anyway. I already know what I will be doing for my next big review. Hopefully I’ll be seeing you again in another 1500 posts.


- minor corrections to AMT section made 9/6/07 -
- minor corrections to orthodynamic section made 10/6/07 -
- title & box paragraph modified 12/6/07 -
- assorted typos corrected 16/6/07 -
- assorted typos corrected and a few words changed to more appropriate antonyms 18/6/07 -