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Balancing Act, Take III – Yuin PK1

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
One of the dangers of purchasing a balanced amp is the question of how good a particular headphone might sound when driven in balanced mode. With the recent acquisition of the very nice sounding Rudistor RPX-100, I started with balancing the Grado HF-1 (effing awesome sounding when balanced) and then the Ultrasone Edition 9 (aural bliss).

Through a few PMs with Fang of Head-Direct, it was obvious that the next volunteer was the PK1, which is a very good sounding headphone in its own right.

The first challenge was increasing the wire diameter so that the XLR tension clamps had something to grab on to. The answer was two layers of heat shrink. This was followed by a bit more heat shrink to form an end section that would better support the weight of the connectors, which are ~10x the size of the drivers.

End game - Like the HF-1, balancing the PK1 seems to have increased the overall sense of soundstage and air around each instrument; being able to visualize the size of the recording studio. Everything seems and feels better placed and more resolved; each instrument better defined in its space. Vocals are easy to understand; trailing words that end in a whisper or trailing enunciation are clearly discernable. What's very different is that being ear buds, they don't generate the incredible dynamic (physical) thumps that my other balanced kids deliver, yet the overall size of the soundstage, imaging, and transparency is still there. Perhaps this is what electrostatic earphones sound like.

I can report that these little wonders just continue to scale up as I throw them on better amps. They also rock very nicely. I just listened to part of the Queen of the Damned sound track. This was after spinning Closer by Nine Inch Nails. They do a good job with electric guitar distortion while maintaining the soundstage.

No direct comparisons to single ended as of this post. The soldering iron is still warm and I'd like to just enjoy them for a bit. If they stand up to a few stress tests, they'll be available for a listen at the Boston Area Head-Fi Meet. We do want to keep you entertained….8~)

And of course, here are a few very poor pics in ugly incandescent lighting. Seems it's always night when I finish these little experiments and decide to share with the community.

XLRs and drivers side by side


It doubles as a custom headphone stand, of sorts
post #2 of 19
Wow I think this is the first time seeing a balanced earbud. Thanks for the impressions!
post #3 of 19
I had some detailed PMs with Fang, and he indicated it's not uncommon for users in china to plug them into $600++ amps/sources, so its likely there are more people out there doing this.

I LOL'd at that first pic!! Awesome!!
post #4 of 19
Seriously awesome! Yuin could use this for their ad
post #5 of 19
Awesome man..let's hope all the skeptics on this forum turn into Yuin believers.
post #6 of 19
Awesome. When will we have a balanced ER4S?
post #7 of 19
Nice mod on a great set of headphones.

**I just bought another set for my wife...I wonder if she would notice if I balanced them....**
post #8 of 19
colossal effort there

top work!
post #9 of 19
Now I want some PK1s and an amp, thanks a lot. Seriously, I've thought about this, but it always seemed pointless because you lose the portable factor, but I'm glad someone finally did it. It looks really cool, and really funny.
post #10 of 19
If you can get someone to build a balanced portable amp, you can achieve a new level of clunkiness!
post #11 of 19
What have we come to where the plugs on our headphones are bigger than the headphones themselves.
post #12 of 19
just saw this. Looks awesome

Hows it sound!!!
post #13 of 19
I LOVE that first pic. The comparison in size of the plugs and earbuds. That's just a great picture.
post #14 of 19
The sad part is that the XLR plug does not need to be as big as it is...the only advantage of that size is sturdiness. Otherwise portable balanced amps/sources would make alot of sense (hell, we can use dual mini for the purpose).
post #15 of 19
fantastic... it never occurred to me to balance a pair of earbuds....
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