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Review: CharterOak Acoustics SP-1 (GMP 450 Pro) - Page 6

post #76 of 356

More on the separation/soundstage/imaging comment---

 

I feel like the instruments are separated and defined quite well, but the tall soundstage (more so the lack of a wide soundstage) limits the imaging - meaning that while I can enjoy the separated instruments, it would be more ideal if the area at which their position is perceived could be better.  This is getting pretty picky, and asking a lot out of a headphone anyways.  I suspect something like the HD 650 (or any high end open headphone) will do a better job at this.

post #77 of 356


SORRY FOR THE LATE REPLIE!

The goddamn Internet connection wen't down last night...



The flat response of these headphones should be absolutely ideal for both mixing and tuning.  My ear pads have rubber lip which slips over the driver casing.  Turning the pads, although I have not tried it, would seem to generate a comfort issue.  I am pretty sure the pad would squish the top/bottom of my ear.  I understand the effort to maybe generate a wide (instead of tall) soundstage, but this will not work, I feel. 

 

You almost got it right R-Audiohead, my idea was to see if the depht (not so much the width) of the soundstage would improve by rotating the earpads, sacrificing the height. But you're probably right about the fit and confort issues as that would probably irk the sound quality to. For me it just comes down to fully use the drivers potential. That's why I ordered the 41-6050 and 41-6049 earpads:

 

The stock 41-6086 earpads on the GMP 450 Pro are, as a matter of fact, acknowledged to cut some space and detail to the sound of the GMP headphones on which they are mounted... they make the sound warmer and give it a sound signature nearer of what one might perceive as a closed back headphone design. That's actually a good thing on the GMP 450 Pro, because if it already sounds bright, but balanced and reasonably spacey (Do you agree? This is what I've read from others...) on the stock earpads, then the driver is tweaked to bright to be used with other earpads... I suppose...

The 41-6050 oval perforated earpads are acknowledged to tighten up all the frequency spectrum for more detail and spacial resolution, compared to the 41-6086 pads, but they will make the sound to bright and unbalanced cutting on the bass volume and boosting the treble.

However when using the 41-6050 pads I will try to use some felt, foam or cotton "layers" to play with acoustic impedance, or I might even try to cover some of the pads back holes to see what I can get. By doing that I hope to achieve a balanced and neutral sound as good or better than with the stock earpads while also improving overall sound resolution, but above all, spatial resolution. The 41-6049 pads will bring just more possibilities.

 

After all this is the only headphone I intend to use for a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time.

Fully maximize it's sound quality and versatility is thus a priority to me.

I find this kind of headphone design very simple and smart...

 

To answer your question about angled drivers....given the cardamatic suspension in the headphone (suspended from the exterior on the headphone) the angled pad may provide some forward/backward imaging to the headphone, since the entire cup is free to move and sit at an angle because of the design.  I do not know what kind of stress this may generate on the elastic which suspends them...

 

Yeah, that's what I think that would happen with angled pads/drivers... it should somehow improve perception of space and imaging... and I don't think that it would heart those elastics suspending the cups, I believe that the cardamatic suspension system was designed with that in mind and the elastics shouldn't loose elasticity over time nor break...

 

I haven't spent enough time driving the SP-1 out of the e7, but I can tell you initial impression already suggest they are being underdriven.  For some reason I thought I remember reading that the e7 does about 18mW into 300 ohms.  The e9 laughs at 300 ohms... (80mW into 600 ohm, I think?)  Nothing sounds as full.  Whether that is the e9 doing an exceptional job or the e7 not cutting it, I do not know.  I can spend more time with this if you are thinking about driving your GMP 450s PROs from a device as such.

 

I recommend the e7/e9 combo at this point.

 

No need to underpower you SP-1 with E7 anymore, just curiosity I won't buy it.

My GMP 450 Pro will be driven by my Yulong D100 Dac/Amp, 130mW at 300Ohms... not that this means much...

 

To answer your questions regarding the bold...

 

I want to clarify that the bass sounding as though it flows beneath the rest of the spectrum to be a good thing.  It adds that layered effect, as I was mentioning.  While I say the imaging in these headphones is fine, I also think the imaging within the category of "closed headphone" is exceptional.  Open headphones generally will do a better job as well all know.  This is not to be confused with what you will hear in a loudspeaker setup.  Just about every time, even an individual loudspeaker (of decent quality) will image leagues better than a headphone.  Granted, I have not heard a T1 or HD800, but I have a hard time believing a loudspeaker of the same cost won't image MUCH better.  Having separate drivers with crossovers just produces a better separated sound.

 

Honestly, there's an old 5.1 loudspeaker system on my houses living room but I haven't listened to it for a long time... so my main serious music listening experience has been with headphones and in live concerts... anyway I do believe you.

I think that the living room is to small for the loudspeaker system... all i remember to hear from it when watching movies a long time ago is bass and ressonances, bass and ressonances, bass and ressonances... not that I understant much about rooms acoustics...

 

The niche of headphones is the easy environmental demands to reach the optimal physical listening experience.  While I think a solid 2.1 stereo will produce better separated (imaged) sound than any headphone given a dollar quantity (except maybe the sub-$500 range - headphones might do a better job), some times the demands to reach the potential are unreasonable to achieve, and well... everyone else within any measurable distance will be affected.  For me, this is the beauty of a headphone.  More on this if you care... haha - I do!

 

Indeed I wouldn't be able to build a loudspeaker based system, even if the infrastructures were prone to it, just because of my neighbours. So headphone is the way to go. I like to listen to music with headphones very much, anyway.

Convenience and economy of space and resources, however, are not the only things that make the beauty of a headphone:

I believe that certain types of music are actually more enjoyable within the intimacy of headphones than with loudspeakers... Take Tim Hecker or Autechre electronic artists or Vashti Bunyan folk singer, for example. I just can't conceive in my mind some of their songs being reproduced through loudspeakers and having the same peculiar and mesmerizing sonic tissue and immediacy they have with headphones. This is not the kind of music to be Felt, but to be Heard, specially Autechre music.

Headphone music is still a reality to explore, I think.

 

Hopefully I answered everything and don't hesitate to ask more.  I think the GMP 450 PRO will be perfect for you, especially if you plan on mixing and tuning them via pads.

The GMP 450 Pro is not perfect to me... no headphone is! More on this if you care... ; )

But within my budget, it's the best aproximation of perfection I could find... hopefully...



More on the separation/soundstage/imaging comment---

 

I feel like the instruments are separated and defined quite well, but the tall soundstage (more so the lack of a wide soundstage) limits the imaging - meaning that while I can enjoy the separated instruments, it would be more ideal if the area at which their position is perceived could be better.  This is getting pretty picky, and asking a lot out of a headphone anyways.  I suspect something like the HD 650 (or any high end open headphone) will do a better job at this.

What do you think about the depht of the soundstage (front and back projection)? How did you find the SP-1 to compare agains't the HD595 in spatial resolution?
 

Thanks!

post #78 of 356

It is too bad you couldn't score the CharterOak version of this headphone given your intended long use of these headphones - CharterOak backs them up with a lifetime warranty.  I am skeptical though, given that many changes within the original manufacturer MB Quart have happened since this headphone was made, and they do not appear to exist anymore.

 

This is a phone call I have been meaning to make - essentially to ask about the warranty and to know exactly how many of these were made (I feel like it has to be a low number).

 

I like your additions regarding the niche of headphones.  It is easy for me to leave such things out given my limited time appreciating what the headphone sector of audio has to offer relative to the time I have spent in other categories (my wallet hates me sometimes, but my ears really appreciate it).  I agree when you say certain songs may be better presented in a headphone, although (again, most likely related to previous exposure!) I feel like this list is relatively short assuming the ideal listening conditions.  It is so much easier to achieve those conditions in a headphone and most often times very unreasonable to achieve such conditions with an external loudspeaker setup, and will cost thousands.  I love the space loudspeakers have to offer - and regarding the resonance/bass comment, just like any sector of audio tuning is mandatory.  It could very possibly be the room...  Anyways, even open headphones have a more direct sound than loudspeakers because of the nature of the device.  I feel like possibly opening a new thread to discuss this information and get us a large sample size to discuss this - this community will certainly have valuable things to say, and I will likely reference this conversation.  I am certain this is taste oriented.  Keep any eye out for it in the next couple days.

 

The CharterOak was in a whole different league than the Sennheiser HD 595.  The only aspect of the Senn which was better than the SP-1 was absolutely spatial imaging.  The SP1s soundstage is mildly one-dimensional (I hate to say this, but the truth hurts sometimes).  While the soundstage is tall, the width and depth are lacking.  My roommate is contemplating getting his hands on some Quart QP400s, and I would LOVE to do an A/B with those and write something.  I am predicting an improvement to the soundstage (should be deeper for sure) at the cost of some of the aggressive, swift nature this headphone has... (I sense more on this? haha)  That will be awhile though... if at all.

post #79 of 356

 

Another thing that makes me really sad of not owning a Charteroak Acoustics instead of a German Maestro, is the beautiful black piano box that adds a touch of charme to the package.

 

I'll definitely keep my eyes open for that thread R-Audiohead.

I find the subject of conversation really interesting and would very much like to know what the community has to say about it.

Assuming the ideal listening conditions, this is indeed a very short list of devices to take into account, even assuming all the technologies already applied on them.

I believe that the ideal listening conditions will only be achieved through our mind and sensorial system control.

Possibly hypnosis nowadays.

But, regarding instrumental music, it's just as you said in the begining of our conversation:

 

Nothing will beat a live experience!

 

And I'm not worried about you perceiving the SP-1 soundstage as mildly one dimensional... : P

I have heard the MB Quart QP 450 Pro and I didn't perceive it as such, more depth and width than height actually.

 

I have heard the QP 400 to and let me tell you that some of the changes on sound that you preconize, while correct, are far from being the biggest sonic diference between these two cans! Are you interested in more?

 

How deep do you find the lows to rich on the Charteroaks? 40, 30, 20hz?

Do you find this headphone bright?

What do you mean by agressive and swift nature of the headphone? : ) Do you believe those drivers to be fast?

I'm a pain in the ass... I know...

 

Thanks!

post #80 of 356

My perception of the one dimensional soundstage is probably a result of my ears being used to external setups.  Compared to some other closed back models I have heard, these absolutely have a larger soundstage in every direction....  Even the Senn HD 595s had a wider soundstage though.  I guess isolation just has a cost.

 

The bass extension of the Charteroaks is easily heard down to 20 hz, but there might be a bit of a roll off around the 35 mark (these just being guesses).  Subjectively said, I do hear a bit of a roll off when the Charteroaks reach really deep, but I think that is more due to my hearing than anything else.  To my knowledge humans cannot hear something in the 20-30 Hz range nearly as well as say the 60Hz range.  This roll off is probably my ears sensory response to the linear reproduction of the music... in other words, I feel like in order for a running scale that low to sound linear (which would be unnatural) an emphasis would need to be placed on the bass extension below 40Hz.  The CharterOaks do not emphasize bass.

 

Yes, I would absolutely describe the drivers in this headphone to be quicker than others I have heard.... most of my other headphone experience comes with Sennheiser however, which are known for being laid back.

 

I don't know if headphones have a reputation of being faster than external setups or not, but I feel like the CharterOaks can wake up in an instant, as if they were waiting for something more fast-paced to begin with.  Good luck slowing these down!  I personally think it is for the better.

 

I absolutely want your remembered impressions of the QP400 compared to the QP450 PRO if you're able to give accurate insight despite pulling it all from memory.

Thanks!

 

And yes - the box is WAY overdone and absolutely beautiful.  I have never seen a box for a set of headphones - or any individual device for that matter - this nice.  This makes even the box for the LCD-2s look at itself in the mirror and question its workout routine.  It was a nice bonus.

post #81 of 356

Just to clarify my statement about "it" being for the better.  I meant the fact that the headphone is swift in nature is for the better, not that slowing down it would be.

post #82 of 356

 

The setup wasn't the best there is: old Sony professional CD player + Tubetech PA-6 Headphone amplifier. The gain of the PA-6 was so high that one could barely turn the volume pot to get loud sound!

Probably the headphones were experiencing some slight distortion which degraded the sound quality slighly (at least in the case of QP 400 as I heard some strange sonic artifacts with it).

I heard some classical and electronic music. The QP 400 requires a bit more power to get to same subjective volume.

The audition (one month ago) was short of three hours, but enough to perceive their differences:

 

Classical Music

 

The QP 450 Pro sounded pretty balanced and neutral, presenting acoustic instruments and voices with stronger and more natural tone and timbre.

All sonic objects had better body and feel through the QP 450 Pro.

Soundstage was almost as wide and deep as the QP 400, but it lacked the air and breath of the open model.

On more complex passages separation and clarity was worse on QP 450 Pro.

The QP 400 sounded way to bright, thin and unbalanced to my ears... the bass was to recessed and rolled-off, the mids were thin, the treble to prominent although not offensive. Better clarity and separation.

The bright and thin sonic character expressed the instruments and voices with a somewhat less natural timbre, lacking in body and proper weight.

With a proper setup it would fare better surely.

Spacial resolution/imaging was what I most liked about the QP 400, better than QP 450 Pro in just about anything related to it. As it was to be expected...

Tonal accuracy on both seemed similar to me.

Detail retrieval was similar on both, QP 400 probably a bit better on upper mids and treble, but severely lacking information on the lower frequencies compared to the QP 450 Pro.

I could ear some strange sonic artifacts quite clearly with this headphones, more so with QP 400... not sure if from the recordings themselves or just distortion...

 

Electronic music

 

QP 450 Pro is, clearly, the better all arounder. It just presented the music in a much more complete way. But still bright.

The QP 400 is seriously lacking in the bass department and is just to bright and thin. One particular song had a prominent strong bass beat which was setting the rhythm for the entire sound progression.

The QP 450 Pro presented played the song very nicely, but with QP 400 that song was almost unintelligible because that beat was so recessed... I mainly perceived a very bright and almost uncomprehensible sound on that song and other electronic music songs played by the QP 400. The QP 400 showed the compression artifacts much more prominently than the QP 450 Pro.

 

From what I've read, the QP 400 seem to be pickier than QP 450 Pro regarding source and amplification, they are probably more transparent headphones in that regard and the old setup through which I auditioned both headphones probably irked more the QP 400 than QP 450 Pro.

 

Anyway the sound signature that I acknowledged from both headphones matches what I've read on other reviews from the Internet.

QP 400 - Bright, very recessed bass, thin, fast, airy, great spacial resolution - realistic soundstage and imaging (not of much use for electronic music though), highly analitycal, transparent, unforgiving of bad recordings,... more suitable for well recorded classical or jazz music. Demands proper source and amplification.

QP 450 Pro - very balanced but still somewhat bright, neutral, fast, highly analitycal yet musical, good spacial resolution, transparent, great midrange, high tonal resolution, simple, realistic and natural sound, no real flaws in it's sound,... good all arounder.

 

If you care, there are some good comparisons between these two and other headphones on the Net, I'll link as soon as I find them. They are in chinese so you'll need to use Google Translate...

post #83 of 356

 

Here are some interesting links for those interested in GMP/QP 450 Pro or 400:

 

Chinese

QP 450 Pro vs QP 400

K601 vs QP250 vs QP 450 vs QP 400 vs DT880 (2005 version) thread

HD600 vs QP 400

QP 435s vs SR225 vs A900

 

German

Mega shootout of closed back headphones. GMP 450 Pro included. No rankings

 

Russian

All types of headphones reviewed and compared in this thread. Several GMPs and QPs included

 

Enjoy!

 

I made some minor corrections to my write up of QP 450 Pro vs QP 400 on post above.

 

EDIT: Fixed one of the links

post #84 of 356

Thank you for the resources -

 

I will enjoy these reads.

post #85 of 356

Received my GMP 450 Pro today. Have been listening to it for a couple of hours and the sound does not remind me the QP 450 Pro... instead it resembles more the QP 400, very bright, recessed bass, highly revealing of recording production artifacts. Fairly accurate and uncolored sound... These are out of the box impressions...

 

I'm used to listen through IEMs and this is my first full sized headphone so probably my ears are biased... I definitely need more listening time with the GMP as I sense enormous potential here... It's an incredibly fast headphone. I feel like it never gets overwhelmed nor congestioned with demanding music.

 

The isolation is ridiculously poor!

I wasn't expecting this... the QP 450 Pro seemed to isolate at least a little... from what I remember...

 

R-Audiohead and stokitw, did you guys note any change of sonic characteristics with your Charteroak/GMP over time? Did your headphones "burn-in"?

What were your impressions out of the box?

 

Thanks!

post #86 of 356


Actually, I didn't notice substantial burn-in differences with my SP-1 like I had with my Senn HD448.

 

I do not perceive the sound as unusually bright.... I find them pretty flat sounding actually, even right out of the box.  Maybe this could be a result of the bias you were describing with frequent IEM use.

 

I do agree with you when you say these headphones are fast.  I can't seem to slow them down no matter what I throw at them... never get clumsy or congested.  Isolation is awful for a closed can haha, but you have to admit the comfort is exceptional, and the soundstage is at least decent for a closed can.

 

Looks like you find them "bass light" as the OP did... which is no surprise even though I don't fully agree (respectfully, of course).  From what I remember from my little experience with IEMs, even cheap ones do have some pretty robust bass.  Could be that tight seal of IEMs you're used to.

 

Happy listening! Keep me posted!

 

I love this can, FYI

Quote:
Originally Posted by kkl10 View Post

Received my GMP 450 Pro today. Have been listening to it for a couple of hours and the sound does not remind me the QP 450 Pro... instead it resembles more the QP 400, very bright, recessed bass, highly revealing of recording production artifacts. Fairly accurate and uncolored sound... These are out of the box impressions...

 

I'm used to listen through IEMs and this is my first full sized headphone so probably my ears are biased... I definitely need more listening time with the GMP as I sense enormous potential here... It's an incredibly fast headphone. I feel like it never gets overwhelmed nor congestioned with demanding music.

 

The isolation is ridiculously poor!

I wasn't expecting this... the QP 450 Pro seemed to isolate at least a little... from what I remember...

 

R-Audiohead and stokitw, did you guys note any change of sonic characteristics with your Charteroak/GMP over time? Did your headphones "burn-in"?

What were your impressions out of the box?

 

Thanks!

post #87 of 356

Additionally, it appears my roommate obtained a QP400 for a VERY good deal recently.  I will be A/Bing these two cans come next week for sure, and I would be more than happy to share my thoughts/impressions there.  Maybe get him on here as well.

 

Soon I will probably just open a new "German Maestro/MB Quart" Discussion thread.

post #88 of 356

 

OK now, I believe to have started to understant the sound of the GMP better.

As I've said before, this is my first full sized headphone so they are "educating" my ears in a different way of IEMs... and in a better way I believe.

 

Recessed bass, brightness and other aspects that confused me at first are now a non issue because my ears were definitely biased.

The seal and the proximity of the driver to the ear canal of IEMs has to do with this, since that gives one a different perception of sound.

Stronger and more direct sound pressure level at the ear canal of IEMs provide smaller soundstage, stronger bass... a "closer" sound than the GMP.

I perceive the GMPs sound as naturally bigger and actually more well balanced and spacially realistic. Not only bass, but all the frequency spectrum is perceived as less upfront, more "laid back", distant. There's more air, breath and space on which the sound can develop. It's, in a way, a more "open" sound.

I say "in a way" because, despite the spacial perception improvement, I can still sense that the GMP is a closed headphone when comparing the "purity" of sound with IEMs.

Listening to a voice on IEMs for example gives me the feeling that the voice Is on a open space, with no phisical limits and with the GMP it's like the voice Is within a ressonant room. I think it irks slightly the excelent tonal accuracy of the GMP.

At first I confused the bigger, spacier and less "pure" sound/tone of the GMP with brightness but now I understand and like quite a lot what I'm hearing through this GMP 450 Pro.

It's, also, not a basslight headphone by any means, it has a much more realistic bass output than IEMs, just that. When the music demands the bass shows very appreciable weight and punch.

Don't get me wrong, it is a bright sounding headphone but not overly so as I thought.

 

I'm loving it with classical music, jazz, folk... actually any kind of acoustical music. This headphone is really marvelous with voices and instruments.

Now I'm fiinding that I, almost, can't go back to IEMs with this kind of music, but with some synthesized or electronic music I still prefer the presentation given by IEMs.(Let me note here that I'm refering mostly to my slighly modded Head Direct RE0 IEM, since it's the only one able to somehow keep up with the level of sound resolution of the GMP 450 Pro)

 

What has come up from my better understanding of this headphone sound, is that it is a very balanced and neutral sounding headphone. It's a fairly relaxing sounding headphone yet very engaging and athletic. Not as smooth as my Head Direct RE0, but more textured and slightly more detailed I believe. Great spacial resolution.

 

Very confortable headphone on the head indeed. A bit loose could use some more clamping force.

More listening still required though.

 

Will keep my eyes open for that thread R-Audiohead.

And looking forward on impressions of the QP 400 vs SP-1.

post #89 of 356

 

Several days have passed and I'm coming to the conclusion that the German Maestro GMP 450 Pro is the first and last Closed headphone I'll ever own.

There is nothing wrong on it's sound besides the coloration I can detect due to it's closed design and I just can't get passed that. Such great technical capabilities spoiled by the enclosure design...

I'm finding that the GMP colors the sound in a pretty perceivable way. Compared to my Sennheiser PX100 the GMP clearly suffers form it's design and that disappoints me...

I didn't expect this coloration/ressonance to be so obvious and in the first days I expected the sound to change... but it didn't...

Maybe I set my hopes to high... all the praising for the open sound of the GMP 450 Pro made me think that I could safelly trust on this headphone for a transparent representation of sound...

Well... now I know that the GMP 450 Pro is not as tonally transparent as I thought.

After some more research about the subject of transparent sound through headphones I'm convinced that the open design headphone is, definitely, the way to go.

The closed design headphone is inherently flawed (as I already knew), and if there is a closed headphone which has reasonably overcomed it's design flaws it is not the GMP 450 Pro.

If the GMP 450 Pro still sound relatively more open than other closed back headphones, I'm definitely not going back to them, ever.

 

I'm disappointed, the GMP 450 Pro has very balanced and capable sound, it corroborates almost every good description I have read about it and would be almost perfect if it wasn't for the ressonance that colors it and the clear impression of listening inside tiny bathrooms (exaggerating here a bit, but I think you get the idea).

I don't think I'm to demanding, I know all headphones are flawed in a way or another...

But if the Sennheiser PX100 still cativates my ears for it's open/natural sound (despite being technically incomparable to the GMP) over the GMP, that has to mean something.

I'm not talking about sound signatures here, I'm talking about the fundamental sonic shortcomings of the closed back design, so obviously I'm not saying that the PX100 gives an overall more realistic sound representation than the GMP. I'm basically saying that I'm very adverse to those shortcomings of the closed back design.

As good as the transducer is, and it really is, the closed back design just spoils everything for me...

 

So much money wasted... guess I'm allready cursed by Head-fi.

Feel sorry for myself and my wallet. : (

post #90 of 356
Thread Starter 

There's no question, if the 450s sound too closed to you, you are and will always be an open headphone guy.

 

I think you're right that all headphones come with some trade-offs, and that's one of the trade-offs you get every time with closed cans, in exchange for isolation.  At the same time, even open headphones can't seem to compete with speakers for soundstage and imaging, which is maybe why we get so obsessed in general here at head-fi.

 

We all want to get as close as possible to perfection, but there are inherent flaws in the overall design structure of headphones in the first place.  It's the quest for the Holy Grail, but it doesn't really exist.

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