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post #61 of 366

I remember, the amps on the ibasso d4 and fiio e7 were frighteningly similar.

I tried my best to pick out true differences, but my ears couldn't. And I used over 20 different headphones in this test. 

 

 

In my view, portable amping iem's is just a more 'headfi acceptable' way of equalising it. Little toys that are equalisers.

Now, if you want a good eq, then i'd say get:

- a player with built in good eq, like the cowon i9/s9

- a player that's rockbox compatible, like sansa's or ipods. This firmware gives a much better eq than stock.

post #62 of 366


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post




I suggest you think long and hard - research a bit more - before spending on a portable amp, expensive or not. There's too much hype surrounding portable amps & cables, IMO. I personally owned 2 amps in the past - after reading about them in these forum threads -, one VERY expensive (RSA P-51 Mustang) and very highly regarded. In the end both provided no SQ improvement whatsoever. They only provided amplification, which I didn't need, but no sonic improvements. 

 

It's a different story with full-sized headphones and a good amp can indeed improve SQ. Some of the most experienced Head-fiers, who've spent a fortune on their home rigs, do NOT carry a portable amp with their expensive universal or custom IEMs. I have personally noticed the biggest differences in SQ depend more on which IEM I use and the type of recording/ mastering used. I don't agree that one IEM/ phone is good for this or that particualr type of music. In every music genre you get different quality recordings/ masterings, and those can indeed make a significant difference in SQ.

 

There's also quite a bit of exaggeration on the almost mandatory use of FLAC/ lossless files, but that's another topic that's been discussed to death in many threads already.

 


Awesome post from somebody who knows what he's talking about! beerchug.gif

 

post #63 of 366
Thread Starter 
I
Quote:
Originally Posted by natashaful View Post

Headstage Arrow 12HE 3G I can't see to find this for sale in the UK triportsad.gif, Anyone know the price and a Dealer ? i really would like this to use with my IE8's to try bring the trebble out some more:)

 

Thanks L3000.gifblink.gif

 

Nattie etysmile.gif


As far as I know, they now only carry the 4G, which appears to have a trebble boost, something that'll definitely strike your interest in particular. As mentioned, you'll have to contact them directly natashaful. I'm sure they do ship to the UK. Otherwise, do as I did and try posting a WTB ad. I was skeptical at first, but surprisingly found a seller much sooner than I had imagined! I hope the same goes for you.

Just as you mentioned DaBomb, while I took the liberty to test each top tier toe to toe, for me , in the end it's down to whether or not the price justifies the means. I had a particularly tough time in that very regard with the Headstage, to which I'll wholeheartedly admit; the W4's sound completely different, and the Headstage really fills in all the missing "gaps" (if any) that one desires with the W4. With it, the sub bass is just as brilliant as the IE8's, which means I'm now getting the best of both the IE8 and W4 (a value of $650) which may just make it well worth it's weight in the eyes of some. The Headstage is great at what it's designed for, and being my first ever amp, I don't know the market well enough to say that I can acheive similar to, or the same results in a less expensive amp; though I'm almost positive there are less expensive options. The PICO Slim comes to mind, but it's priced even higher than the Headstage, and there are plenty here that can be of much greater help than a novice such as myself. As I'm sure you know, I sure as hell am nowhere near close to calling it quits, and just because the W4 sounds the best of the 3 to my ears, I'm just as equally willing to say the same for the TF10 or SM3 or any IEM that I haven't come to test as of yet. My sole reasoning for the W4 as my current favorite, while it's twice the cost of both the IE8 and CK10, is just as I mentioned before: the IE8 definitely sound more than satisfying for many tracks, yet majority of my music isn't bass heavy, hence I'd definitely outgrow the IE8, and eventually desire a more balanced sound signature, which the W4 currently offers, no doubt about it. The CK10's really bring a brilliant feel to any stringed instrument, and are simply unparalleled in that regard. For electronica however, they are easily beat by the former 2, which provide that low frequency "kick" that every trance and EDM fan listens almost exclusively for. With the CK10's, that kick is heard, but not at all "felt", like it is with the IE8 or W4; especially when amped!

CantScareMe, your comments uplift me my friend, haha. But I truly humble myself before you all; as I'm really am all too new to writing up reviews. While I may have the recources, I suggest any reader that comes across this thread to search on the forums for much more detailed and insightful coverage/impressions of whichever IEM they are particularily intereested in. You must take into consideration all the good and bad before you decide what's best fit for you, so read on! In the end, I hope I'm adequately able to get my point across, as subjective as it may be! biggrin.gif
Edited by i2ehan - 5/16/11 at 6:33am
post #64 of 366
Thread Starter 
music4321, I always highly regard your posts my friend, you are indeed amongst the much more experienced here, and I always value everyones opinion equally. The Headstage offers little "tweaks" that do what it's meant to do: amplify. IMO, it does what any EQ does, just without noticeable distortion. I simply can't listen to my W4 now without it, but to be honest, I'm willing to bet I can achieve the same results elsewhere, at a fraction of the cost. With the Headstage, I initially intended to put this "must have" myth to rest, and IMO just about anyone would be satisfied with top tiers just as they are without the "tweaks", hence why I'll no longer be covering my impressions with the IEM's amped. It's absolutely not a necessity by any means, and don't let anyone convince you otherwise! If I do intend on keeping it, it will only be until I'm able to find something that offers similar tweaks, at a fraction of the cost, which I'm sure exists out there. It's the form factors and the nifty added features (auto off) that really run you the money for the Headstage. But opposed to paying for a brand name logo stuck on the front, as is the case with many electronics, there's functionality, which some would benefit from, while others clearly not. To each his own! wink.gif
post #65 of 366
Thread Starter 
Oh and I did get a sansa clip+, for less than $30. I posted the deal in the appropriate thread, but it's a refurb at buy.com.. I may just get rid of the Headstage altogether once I rockbox the sansa, and hear the results. If it offers even 25% of what the Headstage offers, bye bye Arrow. smily_headphones1.gif
post #66 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by i2ehan View Post

Oh and I did get a sansa clip+, for less than $30. I posted the deal in the appropriate thread, but it's a refurb at buy.com.. I may just get rid of the Headstage altogether once I rockbox the sansa, and hear the results. If it offers even 25% of what the Headstage offers, bye bye Arrow. smily_headphones1.gif


You should actually include your impressions on a rockboxed clip+ in the thread too.  Cheap as it is, it's small and apparently sounds very nice, meaning it could be an invaluable companion to any high-end IEM, if portability is the user's main concern.  In fact, if it sounds good enough, it should probably be your baseline for all future reviews in this thread.

post #67 of 366
Thread Starter 

I'll definitely consider doing so, thank you for the wonderful suggestion! biggrin.gif

post #68 of 366


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by i2ehan View Post

music4321, I always highly regard your posts my friend, you are indeed amongst the much more experienced here, and I always value everyones opinion equally. The Headstage offers little "tweaks" that do what it's meant to do: amplify. IMO, it does what any EQ does, just without noticeable distortion. I simply can't listen to my W4 now without it, but to be honest, I'm willing to bet I can achieve the same results elsewhere, at a fraction of the cost. With the Headstage, I initially intended to put this "must have" myth to rest, and IMO just about anyone would be satisfied with top tiers just as they are without the "tweaks", hence why I'll no longer be covering my impressions with the IEM's amped. It's absolutely not a necessity by any means, and don't let anyone convince you otherwise! If I do intend on keeping it, it will only be until I'm able to find something that offers similar tweaks, at a fraction of the cost, which I'm sure exists out there. It's the form factors and the nifty added features (auto off) that really run you the money for the Headstage. But opposed to paying for a brand name logo stuck on the front, as is the case with many electronics, there's functionality, which some would benefit from, while others clearly not. To each his own! wink.gif


 

Thanks for the kind words.
 
Actually, I have a friend who has owned several portable amps. He knows I'm quite sceptical. Unfortunately he lives in the US and I'm based in Europe so we can't get together and test each other's 'toys'. My limited experience with 2 amps and 3 different LODs (I was using a 160GB iPod Classic at the time) tells me it's not really worth getting an amp: a good pair of IEMs, a DAP (not necessarily a fancy one), and at least 192kbps files (AAC in my case) will provide an excellent musical listening experience time and time again. 
 
My friend sometimes jokes about my scepticism and we respect one another. So, I'll say to you what I say to him: if you personally find there are sonic improvements with your amp(s) (& cables) and such improvements to you are worth the money you've spent, that's great. At least he - perhaps like you - can afford the luxury. Others may not have so much disposable cash and may be led to believe they'll be getting some significant improvement in SQ if they spend a great deal of money. However, I still think that regardless of people's spending power, the sonic improvements aren't really there. A case in point: I think the UM2 - now largely ignored and forgotten - is a great IEM, and better than some of my (much) more expensive top tiers. Hey, the UM2 is still pretty expensive ($250+). The UM2 & a DAP is all I'd go for if I couldn't afford some of the more expensive gear I've got.
 
With regards to an IEM being suitable for a particular type of music, I'll elaborate a little as my previous post may have seemed too critical of what you've been attempting to do in this thread.
 
I think it's rather simplistic to say IEM 'A' is OK/best for this type of music and IEM 'B' is OK/best for another. The Pink Floyd Example cited here and in another thread is a good example. It's not that the CK10 excels with this type of music but the way PF albums (and others) were recorded and mastered allow a brighter sounding IEM to perhaps deliver a more pleasing/convincing sound. If you take The Beatles albums, both before and after the remasters, the CK10 would likely sound pretty thin (lack of bass & bright treble) to a lot of people and just sound plain wrong.
 
I haven't found the above to happen so much in Jazz recordings, but it does happen too, though from the Jazz albums I've got, it happens less often. Same goes for Classical music, some recording I have are 'warmer' and somewhat congested; other generally more modern recordings of the very same music have been recorded and mastered differently and sound less 'muddy'.
 
That was one reason why I sold my 160GB iPod Classic and got the 32GB Sony X1061 (and later the Sony A847 & A857). I find the Equalizer on these DAPs to be quite good, and though I don't often like to EQ the music I listen to, every time I played Animals (my favourite PF album) I used the Sony's customizable EQ settings. Same goes for most of the early Genesis albums (1970-1973) & some of the Classical music I've got. With the new Genesis remasters, for example, even when they're not perfect, they do the music a lot more justice and generally do not require any EQ'ing. KC remasters are indeed better, BTW. However, some new remasters aren't all that great and have become part of what has become known as the "loudness war".

Edited by music_4321 - 5/16/11 at 9:16am
post #69 of 366
Thread Starter 

Nothing short of what I expected, excllent insight! The most significant "improvement" (if you will) the Headstage brought me was revealing the lows with the W4, after which I found it practically impossible to listen to the W4's without said improvement. Is it necessary? Absolutely not! Does it improve my listening experience enough to deem it worthy of it's hefty price? Until I've tested something less expensive, with similar results, I'd say as of yet I'm undecided. The FiiO E7 also offers a bass boost, which I'm considerably looking into. Not to mention, the rockboxed sansa may be sufficient for my taste. It's all user preference, influenced heavily by budget, as you summed up, and is really the only reason for this ongoing quest. etysmile.gif

post #70 of 366
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffroyroycole View Post

Owning both the W4s and a decent enough new amp (Leckerton UHA-4), I doubt you are going to get the same (or even 25 percent) results from rockboxing the Clip+ that you get from your Arrow. And if you do, I will will be quite surprised. Plus, what good is 25 percent of what you apparently love about the Arrow and the W4s? If that is where you set the bar, I don't get it.

 

And talk about hype, the Sansa lineup is probably the most overhyped piece of gear on HF (and on other forums). I have owned 6 Clips and 2 Fuzes, and both are long gone. The Sansas are overhyped mainly because they are so cheap and small. I get that. They are fine, don't get me wrong, but they are far from the SQ champions, RB or no RB. I have a small player, the Nationite N2, and frankly, in my view it outperforms the Sansas for sound quality via HP out, no RB or EQ required (though it does have the BBE EQ system on board). The N2 has other flaws, but I use it as a shuffle player, so no problems. Turn it on and listen. Did the same with the teeny UI on the Clips as well.

 

Anyway, I respect people who say they hear no difference with an amp, LOD etc. That's fine. But to say it's hype or BS is just not accurate for everyone. Trying one or two amps is certainly not very compelling evidence. I have owned a few, including the E7, and the Leckerton is the first one that has a serious positive impact, especially on the W4s, which seem to really love a good amp. Not all IEMs do, for sure. Also, the UHA-4 has a DAC, so I can use it with my PC and Pure i-20 (now that is a combo you need to try if you ever get an iPod/iPhone). You know, I take that back. The CMOYs from both Biosciencegeek and JDS Labs are both excellent, and cost $60. If you are looking for an inexpensive alternative to the Arrow, try either of them (the JDS Labs version has a bass boost, while the BSG amp has a hi-lo gain). Neither had a DAC, so I sold both for the Leckerton, but in my view, both sound better than the E7 (which also has a DAC of course).

 

The same hold true with an interesting pair of portables I just purchased, the AIAIAI Tracks, which sound very good unamped, but positively come alive with the UHA-4 when combined with the iPod classic and he LOD/cable (and at $70, they are amazing little portables, but that is another story).

 

Some people hearing no impact from their incursion into ampland means very little to those who have the opposite experience. Room for both in the world, no?


Indeed my friend, well put. As I mentioned, if I am to find an amp at a fraction of the cost of the Headstage, that's capable of managing the bass boost alone close to the Headstage, I'm willing to overlook the remainder of the features found on the Headstage (crossfeed, gain, impedence). In other words, I'd settle for 1/4 features, hence the 25%. Should have clarified that, my apologies! tongue.gif

 

Thank you for the recommendations! It's exactly the answer I was looking for. I'll certainly consider them in the distant future, because for now, I'll step away from the amp discussion(s). There's far too many threads here where that's been addressed. redface.gif

post #71 of 366



i2ehan. Thanks also for the complements. Very well mannered.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by cliffroyroycole View Post

 

Some people hearing no impact from their incursion into ampland means very little to those who have the opposite experience. Room for both in the world, no?
 


Little room for those not in favour of portable amping that's for sure.

 

Problem is for every iem, there are 200 different amps. In fact this market is so so crowded that no one on headfi has been able to make an updated 'multi-amp' comparison thread. New ones are released every week.

So who's to say your W4 sounds magical on #78 and #132 and okay on the rest?

And how fair is it for the shure se535's. They sound magical on #87 only!!

What to do about the ie8's, crying in the corner. It's not untill a few weeks untill its magical amp arrives...

Are you really willing to tinker this much with amps?

 

It's been a few years, but I have tried more than just 2 amps! And as I say, with iem's they feel like equalisers to me. No all round uplift in performance. Just a change in sound, if your lucky.

Their driving power is useless with full size phones, compared to a solid desktop amp with a £200 psu implementation.

 

I'd say if your not sure about amping go the middle way. Get just one or two, with a high rep. Something like the new fiio e11 or your headstage? And leave it as that

 

 

 

Quote:

And talk about hype, the Sansa lineup is probably the most overhyped piece of gear on HF (and on other forums).

 

I'd say they are hyped a bit (sq wise). 

 

But not most overhyped. Hell no. If there exists an elite league of overhyped gear, there can only be one entry.

Nuforce udac2.

Awful, awful piece of trash. Seriously, If I hadn't read reviews on headfi about this and gone out and bought it from a pound shop, I would of considered myself having been ripped off.

 

The best portable I've had- from the sony's, philips, cowon, sansa's I've come across, is the cowon i9. Powerful, clean sound, brilliant 'BBE headphone equalisers' that don't introduce any distortion. In fact, cowon i9 on the bbe headphone setting, with the full size akg k271 gives me a surprisingly fantastic sound.

   

 

 

I find nothing wrong with quality eq. Many who do are still in the hunt to 'hear it the way the artist intended'

 

....And yet these guys despise beats by dre

post #72 of 366
Thread Starter 

Updated, now with SM3 (wink.gif) and TF10 impressions!

post #73 of 366
Thread Starter 

By the way, just for the sake of mentioning, I just Headstaged the TF10's, and the impedence has a dramatic effect on the highs; completely tames them. The low bass setting brought me that wow factor that I felt was missing with the TF10's, so yes, in my book, listening to the differences with and without the Headstage is as clear as day.

post #74 of 366

i have the sm3 for over a year now and I have heard tf10, w4 and ie8 on your list, it is interesting how we hear things differently. But very nice review, keep up the good work.

post #75 of 366
Thread Starter 

Then on that note my friend, I'd like to ask you; did you notice a difference post burn-in with the SM3's?

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