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The diary entries of a little girl! ~ | ~ Latest memoir: oıpnɐ ןɐuıɟ  

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Dear Diary!


~ kiteki's adventures in audioland ~


~ puɐןoıpnɐ uı sǝɹnʇuǝʌpɐ s,ıʞǝʇıʞ ~
¡ʎɹɐıp ɹɐǝp






This thread is my diary, I'm just here to write whatever I want.




Post #1 - This


Post #2 - Newslog


Post #3 - Internet Links


Post #4 - Diary entries on sound!!


Post #5 - Diary entries on random!!


Post #6 - IEM review sub-$175


Post #7 - IEM review $175+


Post #8 - DAC/Amp review


Post #9


Post #10


Post #11 - CIEM review sub-$600


Post #12 - CIEM review $600+


Post #13 -


Post #14 - In-store, meet and random impressions!


Post #15 - Glossary


Post #16 -


Post #17 -






p.s. I am not a litle girl, the thread title is a joke.


Edited by kiteki - 1/11/12 at 1:18am
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2011-09-19, 13:37


Updated thread structure, lucky I have 17 posts to play with.




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2011-09-21, 11:26 - The most mouth-watering headphone I've ever seen... the illusive Fostex...“欅”



Fostex secret.jpg





2011-09-21, 01:32:











2011-09-20, 21:34 -


An unreleased product arrived for me today:












2011-09-19, 17:11 -


Sony's latest announcement:






Edited by kiteki - 9/20/11 at 6:27pm
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2011-09-19, 17:14:


I'm Thirsty. I like mint choc chip ice-cream and coffee, I drink so much coffee.




Edited by kiteki - 9/19/11 at 5:21am
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September 13th, 2011:





101-ɯɥ ssǝɹdxǝ uɐɯıɟıɥ




So I walk into the kitchen around 1 A.M. to get a chocolate bar and drink from the fridge, and then I notice a slip stuck to the frdige door with my name on it, it says UPS delivery, I guess my flatmate in my apartment put it there.


So I inspect the UPS notice and it says failed delivery attempt at 14:25, 14:25? I was at home, well I was at home all day... I must have been listening to music or sleeping, I can't remember.


It then continues to say something about China, and that UPS left it at 7eleven... 7eleven? That's new... I'm trying to figure out what I've bought from China this time and forgotten about, but the good news is it's at 7eleven which are open all night so I may as well go get it now.


This is me looking at my front door:






Not really knowing where I'm going, I eventually think I know which 7eleven it's at, I still have no idea what the parcel is.


After a 10 minute walk I see the 7eleven:






So when I arrive there there's an Indian chap that looks like he's either not slept in 2 days or on drugs, I hand the slip to him over the counter and he starts looking for the parcel, it looks as if this is going to take a while so I start looking for something to drink.


I come back with two drinks and a magazine, then I put the magazine back and just get the two drinks for $6 special, and I sign my name on an electronic tablet and he gives me the parcel.


The parcel is from Shen Zhen in China, and it says "card" on the item description, it's also rather large, I really have no idea what this is......



Walking home, I'm trying to open the parcel with my hands, there's so much excessive tape it's quite difficult, and I'm still racking my mind trying to figure out what I've bought from China recently.


On the way home, it eventually dawns on me "oh, this can't be the Hifiman Express HM-101 can it? I just ordered that a few days ago... from the U.S..." I never expected it to arrive so quickly, and from Shen Zhen at that... and the parcel was too large for the miniscule HM-101... right?


So I'm back home, it's around 2 A.M.






I can't quite figure out how to open the 550ml energy drinks I picked up... I didn't read the instructions I just pried it open, what is Glucuronolactone+ anyway?

























Connected to my USB port, it now shows up in my media player:







First trial, Sony eX600













Naturally I'm familiar with the EX600 and my sound-card jack already, but I listen to the music for a while to have a fresh impact.



Here's an issue I have with my laptops soundcard, let me demonstrate, I usually listen to music that looks like this:





Right now I am listening to this:






As you can see there is a slight difference in volume, and when I'm listening to my classical and baroque music with the EX600 I have to have the volume of my soundcard on maximum, this is really less than ideal, especially since I like using an extra 75 ohm, that's where the HM-101 should come in handy, apart from improving the overall sound-quality, at least that's what I'm hoping here, we'll see!


Time to listen to some music, I'm getting pretty tired now... but I have 1.1 litres of ginseng and glucuronolactone drink.




~ listening time ~




Ok, listening to Sh1ttek 9000, Rihanna, Locatelli, Vivaldi, some J-trance, Prince "When Doves Cry", I start to question if the EX600 is correct for this test, I don't think it is... I think it has too much INK as I like to call it.


Put it this way, if a purely source-transparent IEM is a clear glass of water, the EX600 is a glass of water with some ink in it, the CK10 has lots of ink (and makes lo-fi sound good), the RE272... again, has quite a lot of ink inside of it.


So I change my mind, and switch to the EX700... which should be much better for this test...






Yep, listening to Prince - When Doves Cry (FLAC) on the EX700's, the ink is removed, this sounds much better, I don't know what I was thinking.



His voice sounds more natural, and the whole recording sounds a bit more analog [compared to the EX600], source-transparent and real, actually the weaknesses of the EX700 aren't apparent at all in this track.




Note: I don't think I'm very good at reviewing sources, I find IEM's and headphones much easier to depict, and these are just my INITIAL thoughts on the hm-101, which might vary over the course of time - except, usually don't... :o)



Before I listen to "when doves cry" on the Hifiman, I decide to listen to it on the Teclast HO and LO as well :o)


While I'm copying the album to my T51, I listen to some fast trance, and it sounds surprisingly good on the EX700, a bit clearer than I was expecting, I think I'm a tiny bit extra perceptive tonight, or there was just something in that can of drink, I'm on the second one now, who knows, anyway, I'm really enjoying this trance, it's like leaning back listening to thousands of doves flying through space, not crying... just in case you're curious the exact track is "Lv.4 - Holz und Blatt" from the album "Mega Beat Rush!!"... copying this to the Teclast as well...



Teclast HO "Holz und Blatt, EX700"


Ok, well this immediately sounds better than my sound-card, this is why I love the Teclast HO so much, the notes have more sparkle and definition, everything is more velvety and lenient, the imaging is slightly better, what was once 'confined' is now a little expanded, like a dim lit room has had the venitian blinds opened up a little bit, so the sun shines in.


Yeah, the EX700 is pretty good at listening to the circuitry of something, but this is the best I can do in describing the T51 HO, I really think sources are harder to describe than IEM's or headphones, I've had the T51 for a long time and I still think I lack the proper vocabulary to define the variance between the HO and LO, but I hope my ideas give you some indication.



Teclast LO "Holz und Blatt, EX700"


Well the volume is too loud now, and I don't want to adjust the volume with equalizer because that takes away the pure signal, apart from the louder volume, the LO is more neutral and clean, what was navy blue is now alice blue, there's less pleasant sound and more analytical sound, it engages analysis over enjoyment, similiar to the Ety ER-4, a bit cleaner, colder, nicer, more analytical, now just take everything I said and remove the emphasis by 50% and you should have an OK difference between the HO and LO.


Also, in sound quality, I think the LO is most likely on a slightly higher level than the HO, but it comes down to IEM synergy imho, and in the case of the EX700, the synergy is pretty sweet here.



HIFIMAN EXPRESS HM-101 "Holz und Blatt, EX700"





That's actually the EX600 cable, but I'm listening with the EX700 now.




IMMEDIATE THOUGHTS before I engage the music at all, is I can hear some hiss, I don't mind hiss at all, just like "gapless" and bitrate I don't understand how some people can react so violently to a tiny bit of background hiss that I won't be able to pick up as soon as I turn the music on..... unless it's very quiet classical music, or something...


I'm picking up some tiny noises in the right channel too, like a rodent is in there, scratching away, or some kind of system clock, now when I connect to the Hifiman Express line-out there's no noise at all, zero, 0.0% so I guess it's not even activated right now...


time to turn some music on and activate it in my media player again:








Wow!!! I'm listening to Holz und Blatt and I can hear the fake angel voices in the background more clearly, the "ahhhhhhhh" in the intro passage, and the fake piano notes sound more grainy now, overall it sounds pretty good, I'm pretty impressed by the nakedness of the sound, not the thickness and decrease in naturalism I usually experience in cheap plastic boxes, it's not refined and wide, and far from colossal, but it is pretty naked and full of valour, it sounds grainy but that's probably just the nakedness of this music, so at the moment in my initial impressions, I'm halfway attracted to the sound of the HIFIMAN EXPRESS headphone jack... there's something I can't put my finger on, it reminds me of something I've heard before... I suppose I just have to keep listening to more music and see what happens here... I'm also starting to get excited thinking what my ATH-A2000X will sound like on the HIFIMAN EXPRESS, from what I can tell so far, it might sound OK... :)





Here's some important notes:


The laptop volume no longer matters, whether max or minimum:






Volume is controlled here:






The above picture is the volume I'm using for the loud fast trance.




Now with an extra 75 ohm...









That's pretty good performance, the conclusion is the HIFIMAN EXPRESS is MUCH louder than my sound-card, much much louder, at least on it's headphone-out jack it is, one the line-out it's less loud... I haven't listened to the LO much yet but my initial impressions are the HIFIMAN EXPRESS HO sounds more speical than it's LO.



For volume reference, the above picture is equal to the Teclast T51 on max volume, and the Teclast T51 has one of the loudest volumes of the commercial DAP's around, able to drive ohms where Sony's, Apple's and Cowon's fail.






All of these volume levels are a tiny bit louder than average btw, and using the EX700, it's trademark deafening mids dissonance is starting to kick in a bit so I'm moving on to the calmer Prince "Purple Rain" album now...




T51 HO "Prince - When doves Cry, EX700"


Sounds pretty good and snappy.



T51 LO "Prince - When doves Cry, EX700"


This time, the volume is almost just right, and the LO sounds better than the HO here, due to it's synergy with the EX700, and with this highly musical music, the neutrality and clean signal of the LO isn't as apparent as usual.



HIFIMAN EXPRESS HO "Prince - When doves Cry, EX700"


My first impression is this unit has more air than both the T51 HO and LO, in the last track it was nakedness, now it's air, and I love air, so I'm pretty happy here! This sounds analytical and musical at the same time, the grain of the last track is gone, and princes voice is more naked (as creepy as that sounds), I'm actually really impressed right now that this sounds better than the T51 HO and LO, I never thought that would happen, am I on a sugarrush? I hope not, this sounds really good, apart from a narrower window of sound and a bit less refinement and resolution than the Teclast, but who cares about refinement? I want the raw details of the music, and that's what I'm hearing now! If they EX700 has low ink and can hear the circuitry of units well, this matchbox has damn good circuitry, I'm instantly liking this unit better than the Yulong U100, and this is $40 versus $240 for the Yulong, I'm pretty happy this review is turning out like this, because I'm being honest here, this is my diary, I write what I want, and I hated the Youlong, I sent it back to China, and it took a month for me to get a refund, not that that matters but I hated the sound of it, and that's not the case here, I'm not sending this matchbox anywhere soon. Yes it's not perfect but recording of Prince - When Doves Cry in FLAC is pretty kick ass right now with detail, air, nakedness, neutrality and musicality all at the same time, take that with a certain grain of salt, but I think most people will be able to chip in and hear what I'm hearing right now, at least with the EX700 :)

I know already some people are going to hate the HIFIMAN EXPRESS for it's background hiss and narrow-ish window of sound, but I don't care about background hiss, and for a slightly narrower window than a high-end Amp I can let that slide right now.

I also think some people are going to say stupid things like there's EM interference, and you can't have a mobile phone on top of it, or that it's not compatible with Linux and so on.

I'm not an expert on amplifier design or anything but from my limited knowledge I think the less filters the better, actually that reminds me of the Kama Bay Kro amplifier, man I hated that one, it sounded heavily filtered, I can instantly tell that's not the case here.


I don't feel like evaluating Scarlatti and Vivaldi now, I'm just gonna listen to this album, and I'm getting pretty excited to see what the A2000X's will sound like when the other day I found the first amp that sounded really good with them, the Fostex HP-P1, of course this won't sound that good, but it might be in the same school of sound :)


Now I'm listening to "Purple Rain" and hearing the exact same phenonemon again, excellent air and nakedness, the HIFIMAN EXPRESS does NOT sound analog, it doesn't sound digital either, it sounds like I'm listening to a super hi-fi payphone.



Time to get sound more IEM's out.


HIFIMAN EXPRESS "Prince - Purple Rain, Sony E888"





At first I liked the T51 HO sound better, but then the HIFIMAN EXPRESS HO sounded so clear and nice that I'm liking it better, perhaps it's just refreshing, I suppose overall the Teclast HO is better here, but the vocals are better on the HE HO. Anyway the E888 is a bit boring, I just want to go back to the EX700, but it's time to try something else...



HIFIMAN EXPRESS "Prince - Purple Rain, HiFiMAN RE272"





I think that must be one of the coolest pictures I've ever took...... now let's see what this sounds like.



Hmm... actually I can't hear much synergy here... I think the T51 HO sounds a bit better, it could be the RE272's ink or rigidity in not changing very much from source to source... as far as I can tell so far, I really don't think the RE272 is very source picky, everything it does is already inside it's shell so to speak, and it's not letting through the finesse of the HM-101.



Oh well :)... next up.




HIFIMAN EXPRESS "Prince - When Doves Cry, Sony EX600"






Well, I compared to my laptop soundcard, and the important thing is, the HIFIMAN EXPRESS sound way better than my laptop soundcard, I'm so happy.


This review is subject to changes after I've listened to this unit for a few weeks and compared more sources, but these are my initial impressions:


I look forward to reading comments like "narrow, grainy, EM interference, Chinese crap", but the truth is this product takes your music to the top-end air of ER-4S level, has no filters that I can hear (which is positive) and doesn't add any trademark thickness or decrease in naturalism I've experienced in the past with cheap boxes... it's musical and analytical at the same time (which is something I haven't heard before from a source) and it has good nakedness with vocals.


It's targeted at people that don't know what a DAC/Amp is, let's just call this an external sound-card to them, and I'm going to tell my friends that only have cheap internal sound-cards to pick this one up so they can check out what higher quality sound is, but even someone with a really expensive Dac/Amp should pick this up just to check out it's sound, imho.


The reason I picked this up instantly was due to the price and the specs, the fact it was using the TDA1308 for the HO which is what my T51 uses as well, I was hoping it would sound similiar to my T51, and now when I listen to it in certain aspects it sounds better, how kick ass is that?


I honestly didn't expect this review to turn out so positive, I'm not precisely someone that gives positive reviews of everything, I stated in this review the Youlong U100 is crap, the Kama Bay Kro is crap, the violectric V200 (with 1 headphone, A2000X) didn't quite cut it, the Fostex HP-P1 (with A2000X) was really good, et cetera.


I'm not supporting Hifiman either, I'm really tired of all the RE0 hype, I think the RE252 is really good but not at EX700 level for instance, I think the RE272 is really good except for a few flaws here and there, but so far the HIFIMAN EXPRESS HM-101 is a really good sounding product, in certain ways exceeding the sound quality of my favorite Teclast T51, and almost every portable CD player I've ever listened to, sadly!!! (for reference, it has approximately the same width and depth as an average PCDP) and naturally it sounds a million times better than the Cowon S9 which I hated, and quite a lot better than my grainy Sony gumstick NWZ-B153F featured in a couple pictures above.


It's not like I want to listen to all my music all over again or any Hi-Fi revelation like that, it's just kick ass sound, why is it called the HM-101? What does that mean? Chinese products always have numerically listed names like they're from a phonebook, this should just be called the angel in a box of matches



What DAC or amp to try next... I still have highs hopes for the Fostex HP-A3/A7... and I'd like to see what all the Objective2 fuss is about, that's all that comes to mind right now.




Further impressions: Using the EX700 IEM again and listening to one of my favorite albums, especially for testing "Nirvana - Unplugged In New York", I think this sounds really really good, I'm confused why I think the HM-101 sounds so good, but this is my diary, and I write what I want! ;) There's some high quality Unplugged In New York videos on youtube, I actually haven't figured out how to get the HM-101 to work with youtube yet :\...


I don't think I'm very perceptive with speakers compared to IEM's, but I'll try using the HM-101 as a DAC to my receiver and speakers later on and see what that's like. :)




OK, in order to get this to work with youtube and last.fm and so on, in Windows 7 you have to go to control panel -> hardware and sound -> sound -> manage audio devices


HM-101 Japan PCM2702.jpg


Once you're there, select the Japan PCM2702 as "Default" (you can see where it says "Set Default" in grey, down next to "OK" and "Cancel").


After that, just make sure you're REALLY careful with your volume, if you start a youtube video at max volume you might break your IEM or hurt your ears :(





September 14th:


I've tried the HM-101 with the A2000X's now.


It seems like... they are not an excellent match... actually the A2000X's sound very lean and a bit boxed in on the HM-101, so that didn't work at all, my standard sound-card outperforms the HM-101 in this instance. :/


The HM-101 still sounds fun and cool, but too lean and a bit cold, I'm not sure, it just doesn't sound like music is supposed to, it's high sound quality, and it's kinda cool and fun, it's just not an ideal synergy with the A2000X.


The HM-101 is a pretty fun, musical and analytical sounding unit all at the same time, but it's flaws really shine through on the A2000X, - such is not the case on the Sony MDR-V6, where I think their flaws cancel eachother out somehow, I really like the HM-101 with the V6, they are a good match and I can consider this AFAIK a positive example of "reference" sound quality.


So for the A2000X, my laptop sound-card, the T51 HO, and the Fostex HP-P1 are still the only half-decent, decent and good (respectively) matches I've found for it, I really want to hear the the HP-P1 again... but when I was using it in it's portable amp mode, what was I listening to? what amplifier chip does it use? I haven't checked that yet.


I'm researching the HM-101 DAC a little at the moment, the PCM2702E.






Here's a few projects with the PCM2702E http://circuit-zone.com/index.php?cat=Audio_DAC


Here's another product using the PCM2702E http://www.practicaldevices.com/news.htm


This is what they say on the above link: "August 8, 2008: NEW USB DAC! - by popular demand, we are now shipping the XM5 with the acclaimed PCM2702E Japanese-made USB DAC from Texas Instruments/Burr-Brown. As of Aug1, 2008 all XM5's will ship with the PCM2702."



So it seems like it's Japanese made? That would explain why it shows up as "2-Burr-Brown Japan PCM2702" in my media player, but I'm curious as to why this version is made in Japan, apparently the story goes Burr-Brown was acquired by Texas Instruments in the year 2000, both are American companies.


I like this part:


"Robert Page Burr and Thomas R. Brown, Jr., co-founded the company in 1956 and gave their names to the new enterprise. From its humble beginnings in Tom Brown’s garage, Burr-Brown Corporation grew into one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of high-performance analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits."


It's reassuring to know that companies which have been acquired for $7.6 billion once started in someones garage.



While discussing the HM-101 with another head-fier over PM, he sent me his thoughts on a few different DAC's, this part is interesting so I'm sharing it here:


"As far as DAC chip goes, I will either be sticking to my ESS Sabre (the one used in my current DAC) or to try out the AKM chip.

Those by Burr-Brown, Wolfson and CS just cannot make the cut in terms of layering and texturing."


I think you have to be a real sound nazi to say "not make the cut" in respect to every Burr-Brown, Wolfson and CS DAC chip, but an interesting and inspiring comment nonetheless. =)



Right now I'm listening to "New Order - True Faith" with my V6's, and I can't see myself going back to my laptop sound-card anytime soon, so I'm still enjoying the HM-101, the angel in a box of matches.





Edited by kiteki - 9/20/11 at 2:18am
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September 10th, 2011: So today I listened to some of the most expensive headphones in the world along with every Unique Melody custom IEM, I decided instead of spreading my opinions around on the forums in disjointed fashion I'll just initiate a thread and keep them here.


An important factor, I used the Teclast T51 DAP for everything except for when I was trying out amplifiers, I feel silly for not trying out the amplifiers there, but I wanted to focus on the stuff I'm focused on, which is basically IEM's. However I DID try the Fostex HP-P1 and that is one hell of an amp, actually the HP-P1 was one of the highlights of my day!, I also tried the Violectric V200 amplifier.


I'd like to thank Addicted to Audio for being such a cool company with a dining table full of headphones and amplifiers costing more than a very good car or 50 tropical holidays.


I'd also like to thank head-fi and it's members of whom most I like, for being cool and informative and decent, this is my post 3000 I've never come anywhere near that on any other forum, I suppose that says more about my obsession with audio or the internet, but hey, whatever...


Actually I don't like the internet and internet culture that much, I try to socialize in real life and my mobile phone doesn't have internet on it, but real life can sometimes be really boring too, or maybe it's just this city I'm in and the people in it that are boring, I wish this city would just explode, and I could join a knife-gang, then I wouldn't have to sit on a couch listening to audio.


Notice I said listening to audio, not music. The reason I say that is because listening to audio and listening to music are very different, most people listen to music, some of us (a lot of people here) listen to audio, A.K.A. they listen to gear and equipment - with music - ... i.e. they don't listen to music and songs - with gear.

I do both, but I try to focus on being a music junkie rather than an audio junkie, and I keep telling myself "when i buy X headphone or IEM, I won't be obsessed with audio anymore, and I'll just leave this all behind me, knowing I've reached a pinnacle or plateau of sound, and just enjoy it and venture from there!", the thing is, that never happens! Well at least, it hasn't happened quite yet, it might soon, we'll see, I don't mind either way, since I like both audio and music, ET CETERA.


Another thing that bothers me is that I notice that marketing and other peoples opinions "the status quo" affects me, I just want to listen to gear and say what I want and like what I want, and that's what this thread is for.


The next three entries I'm dedicating to my favorite audio equipment today that deserve honourable mentions.







Teclast T51


Teclast T51 shower.jpg



Teclast T51 girl.jpg




This thing is my weapon, it's like my sword in audioland, I need it to cut through the forrests and explore stuff, I have it in my back pocket every day

and it's so **** beaten up and dented but it's still going fine, and damnit if an ice dragon comes one day and shatters it's circuits with the void of space portal attack (the most deadly weapon to audio dragons, since there is no sound in space they can't attack) then I'll just go online and buy a new one.


It actually took me a while to appreciate how good it's sound is, I never concentrated on it's sound, I just thought it sounded good, then all of a sudden when I started using "normal" DAP's I thought something was wrong with my IEM's, it didn't take long to figure out my IEM's were fine, it was just that I wasn't using the Teclast.


I'm not here to hype it and say it's better than everything, like I said in the first post this is a thread for my opinions and experiences, and my opinion of the T51 is it's a **** ******* good device that only cost me 100 something interstellar credits, it's become my reference unit so it's important I mention it to give perspective on what I'm using when I listen to IEM's and headphones, if I was using an iPhone, Cowon or Sony I'm sure my opinions would vary a little! I also think they'd have broken, once when I was getting out of a car the T51 fell out of my pocket... RIGHT INTO A SEWER DRAIN and that was 2 weeks after I got it... I thought it was long gone... then I pried open the lid of the drain and it was lying down there so I reached down and got it, it seemed OK.

The next adventure was I was really drunk on a holiday and the next day it was all dented I don't know what happened.


Pictures of my actual unit:
















Audio Technica ATH-A2000X




Fostex HP-P1



ATH-A2000X wall.jpg




Fostex HP-P1.jpg






The Audio Technica A2000X is - officially - a top seed in all the headphones I've ever heard, prior to today it was the best headphone I'd ever heard, I thought the high-end gear I heard today would put it into it's place, such was not the case! So now I appreciate it more, and after hearing the W5000 and W1000X, I know FOR CERTAIN that it's my favorite closed-can Audio Technica, and a very good one.


The only headphone that sounded similiar to it today, was the Beyerdynamic T5p, I wish I had that headphone =) I don't know the exact price, but I know it's kinda expensive, I also know it sounds pretty close to the A2000X, the closest I've heard at least, and I'm pretty sure it excels technically, I have a lot of sounds in my head, I just know I loved the T5p, for it's sound. I was actually expecting the Ultrasone Edition 8 to sound better [than the T5p], and **** it looked better, I vocally said the T5p doesn't look good, but that was ONLY in context to the Ultrasone Edition 8 next to it.

When it came down to listening to them, I preferred the T5p, the Edition 8 sounds cool and all - but I think it's for Ultrasone lovers or something, I don't think I'm used to that type of signature, don't read between the lines or anything, the Edition 8 sounds **** good, just not the cards I'm used to being dealt.


So back to the A2000X, the first time I heard it, I raved about it a fair bit, I was pretty excited, I toned it down because I figured the other AT closed cans might sound similiar or better, or other HP's I haven't heard, it's turns out my initial impressions of the A2000X were correct, and A LOT of high-end headphones just don't sound like it at all, and they keep that "just your regular good headphone" signature that I can't say I like or love so very much.


The second reason I toned down my raving - don't laugh, but the first time I heard the A2000X was at Jaben in Singapore, and I used my T51 (the HO to be exact) and that was when I had my stunning first impression (that was a brand new model in the box, btw).


When I came back to Australia, I had a second hand pair waiting for me, for some reason it wasn't quite as stunning as the one in Singapore, perhaps I liked the fresh one, prior to burn-in? I'm not sure, anyway it was still stunning, but then came the flaw (which I experienced at Jaben as well with their portable amps and tube amp) is that the A2000X just didn't sound good out of my newly acquired Yulong U100 Dac/Amp, I didn't know whether to hate the U100 or whether I realised the A2000X is source picky, I think it's both, I couldn't get anything to sound significantly better on the Yulong U100 except for my Hifiman RE252 with an extra 75 ohm impedance cable, that sounded awesome, but that's the only positive experience I had with the U100 (which led me to believe it might suck with low impedance gear, I'm not sure) - so either way, I returned the Yulong and was refunded in full, thanks for the experience, Chinese ebay person!


So, on to the point, the A2000X is source picky, it sounds great out of the Teclast T51 HO, it sounds great out of my laptop sound-card, and it sounds pretty dull and lesser not good out of simply everything else I've tried, one such example was the Violectric V200 today.


THIS is where the Fostex HP-A1 gets an honourable mention, THE FOSTEX SOUNDED SO GOOD, I finally found an amplifier (a portable one at that!) that actually sounds to my liking (i.e. closer to "AHH nice, gold", and further away from "Ugh, more overpriced plastic boxes that sound s***")


So anyway I used the Teclast T51 LO (Line-Out) directly into the HP-P1 Line-In, and then listened to the A2000X out of the HO (Headphone-Out) of the Fostex HP-P1. It wasn't connected to anything, so it was functioning purely as a portable headphone amplifier (it can function has a Line-In for iPods, and as a USB Dac, and a couple other things, I'm not sure, I didn't check that out) so I'm merely evaluating it as a portable headphone amplifier... I DESPISE every portable headphone amplifier I've tried so far (until today) I just think they stupid overpriced boxes that don't improve SQ (Sound Quality) and just take up pocket space.


So yeah, I discovered two things:


1. A portable amplifier that sounds **** good, finally.


2. An amplifier that makes the A2000X sound good, finally!


Thanks to addicted to audio for... having the HP-P1 at their disposal.


I'm not an iPhone person so I've always overlooked it (and I think it's kinda expensive, not sure) but now I am very keen on the Fostex HP-A3, since I've read a couple Japanese reviews or something somewhere that said the HP-A3 and HP-P1 are alike, well, I can't vouch for that, but I'm curious how the HP-A3 sounds now so I'm going to find out, hopefully Addicted To Audio will get one in stock soon so I can buy it from them instead of ordering one from Japan via tenso.com and so on.


So in summary, post #2 goes to my favorite headphone (kinda) and my favorite portable amplifier!


Oh, super extra high-score bonus, they're both "Made In Japan"















So what to dedicate the third post to? What did I love today? I take a look at a piece of paper I have in my pocket where I was jotting down what I was listening to, and then when I was on the train home I looked at the paper again and cycled through my memory to make sure I remembered what each one sounded like :)





I've already talked about the T5p and the Edition 8, the range of A-T's I tried didn't stack up to the A2000X, the Vsonic was cool but not that cool.













UM Mage






I have to give honourable mention to the UM Mage, for the following reasons


- it was broken


- it sounded nothing like the other UM's.




Yeah, it was broken, in the right earpiece, the sound was really tipped over to the left side, I mentioned it to him and he said

a few other people had said the same thing earlier during the day (I was the last person to try it), well no ****, it's broken, of course they said something.


The UM guy was really nice, actually I was listening after they should have packed up already, he swapped the cables with another model so we could

check if something was wrong with the cable, nop........ same issue, the right channel sound was lower in volume and intermittent, I moved the volume switch up and down to try to get it to snap out of it.



LONG STORY SHORT the UM Mage sounded exceptional, even though it was a broken demo unit! The UM Mage (from the proper left ear-piece and intermittent right one) gave me a good

enough idea of how it's supposed to sound, as I moved the volume way up to try to get the right channel to work, the performance at high volume levels was like no headphone or IEM

I've ever heard before, this was the model that has the "sweep you off your feet" effect, which the others did not have.


So anyway, this is not a company review thread where I get a $10 gift voucher to be nice to companies and say everything is fine and dandy, I'm just here to say what I think, and as such, I thought the UM Merlin and UM Aero had flaws in them that I don't think should be there for the price, the UM Aero was cool and all, especially with rock, and will be fine as a stage monitor (better than the K2 SP at least, easily!) however it just sounded muffled in the high highs, it had the same issue as the Shure SE535, really 'muffled' up top, no crystalline clarity whatsoever, as I listened to the UM Aero I recollect thinking to myself "*sigh*, perhaps I should just skip custom IEM's, and stay with Final Audio universals...."


The UM Merlin had the same problem, yeah I might be crystalline-biased or whatever suits your fancy of calling it, but I wouldn't pay $810 for something that doesn't sound crystal clear, then I'd rather get an expensive Final Audio universal, I'm really serious here!


Luckily, the Miracle and the Mage didn't have those issues, they had a couple issues ;) but not those... the highs were pretty much perfectly fine, so I was happy there.



Key points of the Mage


- Does not sound like the other UM's, a different breed.


- Has strengths the Miracle does not have, better than the Miracle, in a sense.


- Is bass light (compared to the rest of the UM lineup).


- Sounds exceptional.


- Excelled at high volumes.


- Is reminiscent of TWFK drivers, just way better and smoother, I don't know how they made it sound like that, must be in the crossover, Idk rly.... ;)


- Had the most impact on me at the meet, is still in my feelings, along with the LCD-2 and Ultrasone Edition 10.




Key points of the Miracle


- The Miracle is really cool, but wow, this is an IEM for a home-theatre junkie, this is for someone that wants to watch movies with an IEM, and make it sound like 5.1.


- It's a bit too 'balanced', you may as well ignore the FR graphs in the booklet in the picture I have above, for all I care someone drew it in mspaint, if they FR graph looked different I'd be inclined to believe a different one, it just gives no indication, the Miracle is fairly enthralling and has sound all over the place, if I knew that's what 6 drivers per ear was going to sound like I wouldn't have ordered 6 drivers per ear (which I did last week, with a different company) from a cost perspective, the Mage offered a great sound with 3 drivers, as I'm sure the UE Capitol does, the deciding difference is the Mage has excellent width and minimal depth and height (which is typical of almost all IEM's from which I've heard) and then there's the Miracle with focus on width but excellent height and pretty **** good depth, the whole XYZ thing is what you're paying for in the Miracle, you're not paying for a cigar in a Jazz club like the EX1000 sound, or crystalline detail like the Final Audio sound, you're paying for a sound quality with a very rough indication here my feeling is a notch above the Sony EX700, from 5th gear to 6th gear, kinda.... and then pixelized and spatialized and just propelled all over the place, the details are kinda laughable, as in they made me want to laugh, not fine details like a violin string, it doesn't excel at that, I'm talking about spatial details, the hell they're in my music and I haven't heard them before, they're just given life out of non-existence, it's "technically" in the recording, but you're taking a two dimensional recording and upsampling it to 5.1, that is what the Miracle is doing, but if you imagine the miracle without the upsampling, (yes sorry for not using the correct terms, but you know what I mean here)..... the sound quality isn't just............. you know like the Ultrasone Edition 10! There's no quivering voice and no rawness or super ambiance, no fine detail of the horsehair on the violin string, no euphoric or sublime feelings, it's just GOOD SOUND plain and simple liffted from a two-dimensional footpath that almost anyone can appreciate, at least it's kinda hard to criticize, apart from perhaps the price or something like that, but since there's very few offerings anything like it (AFAIK...) then the price is justified, as it always is with unique offerings on this planet, what are they called again, rare commodities, the UM Miracle is a rare commodity of sound waves, and that's what you're paying 1,000 cash for.


Not sure what else to write here other than I'm happy I already ordered a custom IEM with 6 drivers, because if I knew 6 drivers sounded along those lines I'd have changed my order to something along the lines of the UM Mage instead...... the point is I'm happy I ordered 6 drivers because part of me wants to experience it again, and I get to compare my memory of the Miracle now with my future custom IEM! That's important to me, I want to see what 6 drivers is like in a different config, whatever! I don't know where to go with this, the Miracle isn't hyped, but it's ONLY "GOOD SOUND" so don't pay a premium for it unless you're a home theatre junkie! IMHO. ;]



I also want to give honorable mention of the Audio Technica AD700 because it looks much better in real life than I imagined.


I also liked those huge silvery amplifiers and massive tube things, none of which I tried.


I want to give credit to Ultrasones build quality, the LOOK and build of their headphones is really something else, in contrast to the LCD-2 for example which looks kinda brittle and awkward next to the Edition 8.



The next posts are reserved for other stuff later on, this is all I have to say about the headphone meet today in Kew, Victoria, Australia.


Thanks for reading.






Edited by kiteki - 9/19/11 at 5:23am
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Edited by kiteki - 9/19/11 at 5:24am
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