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Review: Spiral Ear SE 5-way Reference - A new level of resolution? (Review posted 5/15/12) - Page 39

post #571 of 2017
Quote:
Originally Posted by average_joe View Post

 I was listening to the 5-way from my DX100 last night (no 627) and was in audio heaven!

 

 

Really? I thought you didn't like the SE-5, Joe!

 

wink_face.gif )

post #572 of 2017

I'm listening with an Audio-gd Compass now. I really like hearing the different voices making up vocal harmonies. Vocals on the 5-way from the Compass are impressive. The soundstage is really clean too now, compared to their Sparrow. Does seem a bit bright compared to the Clip, which remains musical and sure punches above its weight in terms of price. Will be using the Compass as my reference for a while. I do think other DAC/amps from their line are worth checking out http://www.audio-gd.com/Products-EN.htm

 

Upstream from this is a Galaxy Note running DS Audio, pulling flac off a Synology NAS and pushing it out, I guess using AirPlay, to an Apple AirPort Express, which sends TOSLINK optical into the Compass. Not sure this matters really, I believe there's plenty of bit buffering upstream. I can also drive this using an iPad. 

 

Anyway for a desktop rig I am looking at the Anedio D1 or D2, or http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/Reference10/RE10EN.htm or http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB-10.1/NFB10.1EN.htm

 

Asked http://www.btg-audio.com about a custom cable with 4-pin XLR male for balanced.

 

Still, after buying a balanced cable and a balanced DAC/amp (the Audio-gd NFB-10.32), I've almost spent as much as the DX100 which is a known quantity. Just wish it ran Jelly Bean.

 

Note also that the price increase is in effect: € 1199 Fixed cable version € 1269 Detachable cable version. http://www.spiralear.com/en/products/se5-reference/

 

I don't generally get up in the morning thinking that balanced is the second coming. Still it seems like all the electronics in the same price league as the 5-way go balanced.

 

I don't generally get up in the morning thinking that the USB driver is the second coming. But people seem to like ASIO2 (http://www.cicsmemoryplayer.com/)  ... and KingWa put a special USB32 chip in nearly his entire line. 


Edited by Toe Tag - 1/5/13 at 3:45am
post #573 of 2017

Hmm. If only SE-5 had less dark of a signature. The rest of the sound qualities is definitely superior. However, it does have traces of BA ~3.5kHz ringing edge. Nowhere near as pronounced as in DBA-02 and B2 though.

 

Comfort is superb (improved with use and time - the silicone grows slightly stickier and softer?) and these did mold to my ears after some usage. Isolation is very high as well. No audible distortion other than that ringing. Extreme precision in highs marred by darkness - when corrected, makes them truly great.

Presentation is very musical, regardless of equalization. Probably has something to do with bass impact being perfectly correct, neither too sharp and hard hitting, too slow, or too little.

 

There is some channel imbalance in the higher frequencies unfortunately. Seems to be caused by uneven sealm as it gets reduced when the IEMs are resealed or moved. Within 2 dB though, so not critical, but I suppose I should redo the impressions some time later - this is the most problematic part, as with all CIEMs. Too few specialists to make correct deep fit ones.

 

The soundstaging is not affected too much by the signature on the Leckerton, but it is more affected with sources that have higher output impedance. Generally, these sound "club-like", very much like a highly dampened auditorium. Definitely a bounded, small space. Intimate presentation, highly blended and coherent... making the sole slight ringing stand out.

 

The correction curve, ref 500 Hz. Source: Leckerton UHA-6 mkII w/ OPA2209.

700

 

Hmm, perhaps more: The sound is like the inverted version of RE-ZERO, which are instead overly monitor-like (without eq) due to mids humps and ever so slightly too smooth in the highs. Slightly cold even when corrected. SE-5 are always ever so slightly warm, yet oversharp.


Edited by AstralStorm - 1/6/13 at 9:47am
post #574 of 2017

 

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/leckerton-uha-6s-mkii-portable-headphone-amplifier-page-2 talks about balanced armature being hard to drive. "And then there's the matter of output impedance: with multi-driver balanced armature designs, the headphone impedance can vary wildly. Some of my custom IEMs such as the Unique Melody Merlin and the Lear LCM-2B dip extremely low at certain frequencies. The 3rd gen iPod Touch that I'm using has an output impedance of 7 ohms, meaning that interactions are likely to happen. The results from these interactions will vary for each IEM, but generally speaking it will lead to unpredictable peaks and dips in the frequency response as well as an unacceptably low damping factor. Adding the Leckerton with its sub-1 ohm output impedance will take care of that problem completely---you get to hear the IEM as it was originally voiced." 

 

I assume AstralStorm is using a Leckerton UHA-6 mkII w/ OPA2209 to drive his SE5 and liking it. It would be interesting to have average_joe and others of us test it. My view is the first priority is the IEM, then with BA we next need to focus on the amp stage, and perhaps after those are squared away the DAC itself, or the source and jitter and sampling rate, can take our attention, but won't matter if we botch the IEM or amp.

 

I am guessing the DX100 uses the OPA627. The Portaphile 627 average_joe liked uses the OPA627. The UHA-4 and -6 can too, optional $50 upgrade. 


Edited by Toe Tag - 1/6/13 at 10:27pm
post #575 of 2017

OPA627 is a respectable amp, but it is power hungry and has characteristic FET input stage sound, but it's so clean it doesn't really matter.

(Near zero even order harmonic distortion, remaining odd order low, but sloping pretty slowly.)

The main issue is the unnecessary expense. It's also not quite as robust as unity gain stability makes it look like, so typically needs more compensation that it has built in or very careful PCB layout.

It's not too hard to make it unstable.

 

The main boon of the FET input stage is high resistance to RF noise, like cellphones.

OPA2209 would be a much better part in general if not for its low EMI rejection ratio. (most interesting frequencies go around 20 dB)


Edited by AstralStorm - 1/7/13 at 12:56pm
post #576 of 2017

Mr. Leckerton talks about op amp options here. http://www.leckertonaudio.com/2012/11/choosing-output-op-amps/ His current default is the AD8610, but he offers 3 other options, and yes its $50 to have those 2 627's used. He also mentions custom requests. Though I suppose the rest of the circuit won't change. 

 

FWIW people here question the DAC in the UHA-6S.MKII. My new flavor of the week is to use the Dacport LX for a DAC and a Tralucent T1 for an amp. 

http://centrance.com/products/dacport/

http://www.tralucentaudio.com/shop/index.php/portable-amplifier.html

 

Tralucent presents 0.1 ohm impedance (on the output) and is said to do well with low impedance IEMs. Not sure what its op amp is though. Can always use the Leckerton and bypass the DAC, and have a choice of 4 op amps.

 

I emailed Audio-gd and asked them what they suggest for driving a low impedance IEM. In their reply they ask, what is the impedance of the SE5. Do we have an answer? I can email Grzegorz. Or, AstralStorm, I notice this came up 3 months ago, and you said you might be able to test them.

 

The question also came up, where are the (4?) crossover frequencies.

 

I am starting to realize that, people tend to use IEM with portable sources. And headphones with desktop sources. And that IEM, or at least BA (balanced armature) IEM, tend to present low impedance. And headphones often present high impedance. Thus if I am generally right about that, then I am unusual in hoping to drive IEM from a desktop amp. I was like, why not drive a €1200 CIEM with DAC and amp of similar price range? But I guess its just not done. Much. I'll probably play it safe and just use portable sources for now. 
 
One alternative would be to use this plug adapter to add 75 ohms of resistance to the SE5 http://www.ebay.com/itm/ETYMOTIC-ER4P-TO-ER4S-RESISTOR-ADAPTOR-3-5MM-PLUG-/290372905689  The BA would still present a variable load. But load would be at least 75 ohms and up. Audio-gd said at least one of their desktop amps, likes to work with a load of 16 ohms and up. It seems like there's often a difference between a desktop amp and an IEM amp, and this could be a workaround. 
 
Then again users report in general "The problem with resistance adapters is that they can affect the frequency response of the earphone/headphone. Balanced armatures incur massive changes, often sounding like a completely different earphone." I think the moral of the story may be that any BA IEM, and I imagine one with 5 BA inside, needs some care in selecting an amplifier, an op amp and its implementation, that can handle 1. low impedance 2. impedance that varies substantially across the frequency spectrum.

Edited by Toe Tag - 1/10/13 at 8:03pm
post #577 of 2017

I won't have the time until at least Tuesday. The good AC voltmeter we had is not precise enough at high frequencies, yet still someone "borrowed" it.

So, I'll need a good decade resistor, or at least a nice set of measurement quality resistors (this should be available).

Then you just need to do this: http://www.kennethkuhn.com/electronics/impedance_measurement.pdf

 

About BA w/ impedance adapter, yes, adding such a thing will add the voltage divider, effectively reducing impedance "ratio", meaning less equalization over the design frequency response from a high impedance output. Will also decrease sensitivity, which might or might not be desired.


Edited by AstralStorm - 1/12/13 at 5:00am
post #578 of 2017

My experience has been that using a desktop amp, many of which are designed to drive big headphones with high impedance, to drive IEMs, did not give good results with the SE5. However average_joe did mention a couple desktop amps that sounded good with it. 

 

That resistor plug was designed to let people take an etymotic ER4P and make it sound like an ER4S. These are some of the original BA IEMs, and the only difference is resistance. You can buy both IEMs, or you can buy the ER4P and buy ($18) or make an adapter to convert it onto an ER4S. http://www.fixup.net/tips/ety/ety.htm In the case of the Etymotics it works fine. The ER4S was for its day a milestone BA IEM, yet it shipped with a resistor built in. 

post #579 of 2017
Quote:
Originally Posted by AstralStorm View Post

I won't have the time until at least Tuesday. The good AC voltmeter we had is not precise enough at high frequencies, yet still someone "borrowed" it.

So, I'll need a good decade resistor, or at least a nice set of measurement quality resistors (this should be available).

Then you just need to do this: http://www.kennethkuhn.com/electronics/impedance_measurement.pdf

 

About BA w/ impedance adapter, yes, adding such a thing will add the voltage divider, effectively reducing impedance "ratio", meaning less equalization over the design frequency response from a high impedance output. Will also decrease sensitivity, which might or might not be desired.

Doesn't work that way. It's not a voltage divider when in series as used and reducing the impedance difference increases the impedance induced frequency equalization. Greater difference = less affected.

post #580 of 2017

Just got my AK100. Pairing TO GO! 334 with AK100, it sounds just purely good.

Unlike pairing with Ipod Classic, TO GO! 334 sounds much more natural and has a better and brighter treble.

I am also thinking about getting a better CIEM, which might be SE5 ways. It seems SE5 WAYS also similar with To Go 334.

But hardly find any ideas and reviews when SE 5WAYS meets AK100.

Anyone has any ideas?


Edited by Alias Gu - 1/15/13 at 10:36am
post #581 of 2017
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alias Gu View Post

Just got my AK100. Pairing TO GO! 334 with AK100, it sounds just purely good.

Unlike pairing with Ipod Classic, TO GO! 334 sounds much more natural and has a better and brighter treble.

I am also thinking about getting a better CIEM, which might be SE5 ways. It seems SE5 WAYS also similar with To Go 334.

But hardly find any ideas and reviews when SE 5WAYS meets AK100.

Anyone has any ideas?

tried once ak100 with se5, bass light and lack of impact, maybe because of the high output impedence on ak100?.

post #582 of 2017

:)

post #583 of 2017

Maybe you are right. AK100 just can drive 334 well but not perfectly, cuz AK100 doesn't supply enough power to drive CIEM.

Maybe i shall get a RWAK100, LOL


Edited by Alias Gu - 1/15/13 at 5:09pm
post #584 of 2017
Have just sent my ear impressions photos to spiral ear, hope my ears could fit for the 5 way.. fingers crossed tongue.gif
post #585 of 2017
Thread Starter 

Hopefully!  If you, you are in for a treat :)

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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Review: Spiral Ear SE 5-way Reference - A new level of resolution? (Review posted 5/15/12)