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Head-Fi Buying Guide (In-Ear Headphones) 2
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Westone 4 Impressions and Reviews Thread - Page 352post #5266 of 55224/17/14 at 5:53am
Gear mentioned in this thread:post #5267 of 55224/17/14 at 7:46amQuote:
IMO, the external amp itself won't add a lot to your experience (might tighten up the bass a bit), but adding an external DAC may give you improvements in clarity, depth and width of sound. Not to the extent of it's effect on headphones, but external DAC's usually will enhance the SQ of the W4. I haven't used the Pico, but I have experienced this using the W4 with a CLAS.post #5268 of 55224/17/14 at 7:47amQuote:Quote:
Ok, so I see two questions here:
1.) What does the RSA amp (Protector) add to my iPhone 5 listening experience?
2.) What does the Pico DAC à RSA Protector add to my PC listening experience?
First I will bore you with a little background. I came to the W4r’s from a set of UE triple.fi’s. I was immediately disappointed, but that changed with time. The triple.fi’s are so musical and engaging that when you switch to W4r’s you need to completely alter how you listen to music.
I began to actively listen instead of sit back and enjoy and although that felt like a chore sometimes, I have gained a real appreciation for instrument separation and micro detail. Ironically, I have found that the better I perceive the soundstage, the easier it is to passively listen to the W4r’s; relax and imagine that I am there. This is why I originally purchased a balanced cable from Ted the cable guy. I should also note that the W4r’s have me listening to music at lower volume levels than I used to with the triple.fi’s. The UE’s become more engaging as you crank up the volume. The qualities that I like about the Westones do not improve with increased volume. I definitely did not invest in an amp to increase the volume of my listening.
With that said, I always have my balanced silver cable on my w4r’s. I only listen to the Protector balanced. When I listen single ended (iphone hp-out), I have a kubiconn to SE adapter.
I listen solely to Spotify HQ offline (320kb/s). I have a hard time distinguishing this from FLAC files while using far better DAC’s than the iphone offers. My music tastes range from live jazz (Arne Domnerus / Joe Pass / Louis Armstrong) to metal ( Thrice (house of blues is a great live album) / Animals as Leaders / Sevendust / Killswitch)
1.) The iPhone 5 hp-out à RSA Protector setup definitely improves my perception of the soundstage. There is also noticeable texture added to lower frequencies. What shocked me about the Protector is that when I first got it, I immediately started tapping my foot to music again. I had not done that since I lost my Triple.fi’s. Music sounds like it arrives at my ears less constrained. Faster passages feel more powerful and dynamic. As a result, music is more emotional and engaging.
As small as the Protector is, I do not carry it around with my iphone anymore. When I am using the iphone for listening, I am generally doing something that requires my attention and that diminishes my ability to appreciate what the RSA Protector adds to the experience. So my Protector stopped being portable a while ago.
2.) The computer -> Pico DAC -> RSA Protector add quite a bit of micro detail and improvements to sound staging versus listening straight from my computer (macbook pro in my case). I would go as far as to say that I would have sold the Westones without this setup. I feel so strongly about the improvements that the balanced RSA amp makes, that I just purchased an RSA SR71b.
In summary, the W4r’s out of the box engage me far less than my triple.fi’s did. I have found that any improvements to sound staging really helps the W4r’s to grab my attention. When the W4r’s grab my attention, I do not need to invest as much energy into the experience and it no longer feels like a chore. I highly recommend a balanced RSA amp for W4r’s.post #5269 of 55224/17/14 at 8:35ampost #5270 of 55224/17/14 at 8:42amQuote:
That's tricky. Ray has come out with quite a few amps since the p51 but people still talk about it. For SE use, I imagine it is fantastic. I just cannot say with certainty that what I enjoy about my RSA is the benefits of the amp or the balanced signal (which the mustang couldn't give you). I guess I do not have adequate information to answer that question. Sorry.post #5271 of 55224/17/14 at 4:07pm
Thanks, Sir Iwells! Actually, your detailed explanation was what newbies, like me, need to understand before buying hardware for our music rig. I really appreciate it! A couple of my friends in Manila (who are members of headphiles.org) also mentioned that a balanced amp is ideal for W4. When I was reading your statements earlier, I was auditioning the W4 with an ALO Audio The Continental V2 & true enough, the sound stage improved significantly. Maybe for the next few weeks, I'll giving this setup a try.post #5272 of 55224/17/14 at 4:25pmpost #5273 of 55224/17/14 at 5:42pmQuote:
It wakes up the W4 and makes them more energetic and exciting to listen to, as well as bypassing the closed in sounding headphone amp of the iDevice and replacing it with a more open and spacious and detailed sounding amp, with better bass control and extension. That enough?post #5274 of 55224/17/14 at 5:44pmQuote:
P-51 is a good starting and ending portable amp. It's one of the best out there sound-wise, and in the build. And battery life and power compromise for battery life is quite reasonable..post #5275 of 55224/17/14 at 6:32pm
Bypassing my Mac's sound jack was a huge improvement in sound. Eliminating the noise floor with a DAC and a proper IEM amp was the best investment I made in earphones.
I don't run my earphones balanced, though, as the cost for the balanced RSA amp and the cost to pay someone to make you a balanced cable for it is two to three times the cost of the W4R (~1,000 new). I opted for custom ES5s at that point and can't say anything but good things about the Gungnir (overkill, my dragonfly was very good before the Gungnir, which I bought for my desktop system) with Pico Slim and W4R. That combo worked really well since the Slim is on the edgier/colder side and paired well with the warm W4R (arguably a better fit than the ES5 even though the ES5 sound is superior).
Before I opted to go custom I intended to go balanced on the W4R. I asked a cable company who is frequently cited here on the forums if they could make me a balanced cable that went from the Gungnir to the RSA amp. They responded with:Quote:If you really want my honest, personal advice – I’d avoid this type of thing altogether. The configuration that they are showing as “balanced” actually is not, and this sort of lie to a customer base is ridiculous (in truth – no one pair of “balanced headphones” I’ve ever seen or built cabling for in my 30 years of engineering were ever balanced). For a 2 channel balanced circuit, you need at least a 5 conductor connection / cable. This repurposed video connector only has 4. That just is not possible for balanced audio in the actual, proper definition of the term. Whatever these guys are calling “balanced” is not. Also – there’s no such thing as “half” or “quasi” balanced… an audio circuit is either balanced or unbalanced. Putting an XLR on a 2 conductor cable will never make it a balanced circuit.
So I dunno the benefits of "balanced" IEM amps since they all use the 4-pin. I didn't want to spend $600 on an IEM amp either so I skipped RSA and other IEM amps that offer "balanced" options. As far as I know, the only real benefit to balanced set-ups are noise rejection from nearby electronics. Some say the bass is tighter on balanced set-ups too, but I haven't run listening sessions to compare them since I don't really care.post #5276 of 55224/19/14 at 12:01am
For W4, which star tips do y'all prefer; the long medium (red) or the medium ( black) ones? I had a problem that after wearing the bulky ATH-IM70 for a while, apparently my ear canals were enlarged which makes the black star tips inserted easily than before...Now I had to switch with the long medium tips on my W4. I notice bigger soundstage and better bass response and less forward midrange; but at some time although the treble is smoother, it could be shrilling.post #5277 of 55224/19/14 at 12:13amQuote:Wow... How long has you been wearing this im70? 3 years? Didn't know our ear canal can be shape so easily.Originally Posted by Gandasaputra
For W4, which star tips do y'all prefer; the long medium (red) or the medium ( black) ones? I had a problem that after wearing the bulky ATH-IM70 for a while, apparently my ear canals were enlarged which makes the black star tips inserted easily than before...Now I had to switch with the long medium tips on my W4. I notice bigger soundstage and better bass response and less forward midrange; but at some time although the treble is smoother, it could be shrilling.
Did you experience drastic weight change recently?
For me, I think the only tip that serve me well is the Shure olive tip..post #5278 of 55224/19/14 at 12:16am
More like a week...but maybe because I've had finicky fit with the IM70, the W4 were tiny compared to that. I hope there's no physiological change with my ear canals hahahaa!
another possibility could be that the medium star tips were lubricated due to my ear wax, so it inserts easily.
Edited by Gandasaputra - 4/19/14 at 12:18ampost #5279 of 55224/19/14 at 12:20amQuote:Shure olives +1
Complys just don't seal as well, plus they disintegrate too easily.post #5280 of 55224/19/14 at 2:28amQuote:
One of the best seals I had was with a pair of olives on the end of a pair of lowly klipsch x1's. Funnily enough never got that seal with olives and the x10's though. Not had good experiences with the olives on the end of the westone range either (getting it back ot!).Return HomeBack to Forum: Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors
- Westone 4 Impressions and Reviews Thread
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