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REVIEW | TDK BA200 | 'BACK TO BLACK' - Page 4

post #46 of 174
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cute View Post

 Sent my impressions of the BA200 to you yesterday via PM, if you recall!


Sorry, I meant in comparison with your 2Stepdance...

 

post #47 of 174



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomscy2000 View Post


Sorry, I meant in comparison with your 2Stepdance...

 



I don't use my 2Stepdance for portable more than 5% of the time.  I have my gears setup so that I can use the same path with my home gears, and the 2Stepdance in place of my Tube Amp.  Sounds really good, more digital of course, not as smooth and refined as the Tube Amp, maybe more analytical with the 2SD, but not my preferred way of listening to the BA200.  The 2SD really shines with my home gears and my RE272....with that path I bump the sub bass at 31hz 3db, and 60hz 3db, and the RE272 pumps like a subwoofer, beautiful vocals and extended refined highs.  On a blind test you would not know these were RE272.

 

Parametric EQ like I mentioned in my PM about the BA200, low end settings the same as the RE272, but I EQ down -5.5db at 125 hz, that clears up the vocals, controls the mid bass, and WOW from there with the Tube Amp and the 2SD.  Rock music really rocks, and the stage pans are phenominal.  Listened to "Robert Plant and Jimmy Page", on "No Quarter:  Unledded" album just tonight, and the soundstage, instrament separation, and stage panning was just unbielevable.  Have never heard that album sound so good, just blew me away.  But with either amp, it is more than just the amp.  I would never gotten that sound out of a DAP!  The BA200 overprerforms if you are patient and try different things, such as a little EQ for sub bass thump, the MEEL DF tips rock!  All the details are there!  I can really say that EQing down at 125hz really makes a more realistic pleasing sound, I don't like boomy sloppy bass.....I like bass that sounds like a subwoofer in a good speaker system, and the BA200 can deliver!

 


Edited by cute - 2/24/12 at 11:05pm
post #48 of 174
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomscy2000 View Post



I found it weird why they wanted to 'simulate the effects of a low-quality headphone amp'... why would anyone want to do that? If they wanted to measure the response of them coming out of a common DAP like an iPod, I get it, but their setup just sounded completely counter-intuitive.

They also didn't realize that the reason why their impedance curves were so flat with the BA100 and 200 was that both have that impedance compensating circuit inside their Y-splits.


Yep, it is definitely weird to see flat impedance curve with multi-ways BA (or even single BA as BA tends not to have very flat impedance curve). Perhaps that's what the impedance circuit is about?

Anyway, the so called 'simulate the effects of a low-quality headphone amp' is a pretty lame reason for using high output impedance measurement. While low quality headphone amp might have high output impedance, having low output impedance is only a very small indication for quality. The is especially true to portable headphone amps these days, regardless of quality, are common to have 1 ohm or less in output impedance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cute View Post

My BA200 sound better out of my 8 ohm impedance tube amp, way better, that they do out of my 1 ohm impedance 2Stepdance!  But there is more to my gears, look at my sig!
Sounding better or not can be a subjective interpretation, but measuring under poor condition is another story of its own. Measuring headphone with high output impedance can color low impedance headphone but not high impedance headphone. The result will not be consistence because you are essentially measuring the combined effect of the low impedance headphone and the coloration from the amp. But with high impedance headphone, you are only measuring the headphone itself.
post #49 of 174

Regarding the subjective tests and measurements of the TDK IEMs I wrote for the Sound+Vision website:

 

As far as the measurements go, I do have a Rane HC 6S amp with a 0.5-ohm output impedance that I could use for the measurements, but I chose the Musical Fidelity V-Can instead because its 5-ohm output impedance is closer to what one would typically encounter from a good-quality headphone amp.

 

I'm well aware that a low-quality amp may have performance characteristics beyond high output impedance, but in my measurements of low-quality amps (cell phone, laptop computers), an output impedance of 75 ohms is fairly typical. I thought it would be appropriate to show how a headphone performs with high and low output impedances, because headphones can encounter a range of output impedances and it's interesting to see how consistent their performance will be under different real-world conditions. As you can see from the measurements I've done, sometimes it's a significant difference. Nice as it might be for me to measure headphones using an actual low-quality amp (as I did here), I have a lot of headphones and speakers to measure for Sound+Vision and I do have to make things more practical whenever possible. (I'm not aware of any journalist in the world who does as many speaker and headphone measurements as I do, and that's not because I get paid a lot for it, it's because I think it's important.) Also, I'm presenting the 5-ohm measurement as my main frequency response chart, so if you don't like the 75-ohm measurement you're free to ignore it.

 

Given that the maximum variance I've seen in FR with 75 vs. 5 ohms output impedance is on the order of 3 dB, I seriously doubt that measuring with a 0.5-ohm instead of 5-ohm output impedance would have a large effect on frequency response, except with perhaps a very low-impedance headphone. If someone has evidence that I'm wrong here, please share it.

 

Our results may differ from yours, but among 4 panelists (including me), none preferred the BA200 to the BA100. It's worth noting that I was the only one of the panelists who knew the prices and driver configurations of the headphones, so the other three panelists' opinions were unbiased. Our panelists have heard lots of different IEMs at different prices, and if anything, they are biased against a bass-heavy tonal balance, not in favor of it. I bring in the panelists because as I have learned from some of the world's best audio researchers, getting a wide range of opinions provides a more complete assessment and a more accurate idea of whether or not someone will like the product.

 

 

post #50 of 174

Very nice, review, one of the most coherent, concise ones I've seen. I liked Lauren's and Geoff's opinions as they truly seems to have an ear keen on a balanced sound. 

 

The data is an eye-opener. The BA200 doesn't have the linear impedance phase TDK implied, but it doesn't change a lot. BA100s balance out pretty well with more impedance like most single BAs tend to, somewhere between the 75ohm and 5 would be nice. The graphs reflect the impressions perfectly, the BA200's 6-9k range is more present, which explains the sibilance. EB950s look very uneven and incoherent, typical of a budget dynamic. 

 

Definitely keeping up with your site now. 


Edited by Inks - 2/27/12 at 11:08pm
post #51 of 174
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbutterworth View Post

As far as the measurements go, I do have a Rane HC 6S amp with a 0.5-ohm output impedance that I could use for the measurements, but I chose the Musical Fidelity V-Can instead because its 5-ohm output impedance is closer to what one would typically encounter from a good-quality headphone amp.


I would suggest that your tests in the future be based on what practical usage for a type of product, such as for in-ears: (1) unamplified out of a DAP like an iPod, or (2) amplified from a portable amplifier. Although we do run IEMs off desktop amplifiers at home, I can't imagine many people who run a BA100/200 off a V-Can the majority of the time.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbutterworth View Post

I'm well aware that a low-quality amp may have performance characteristics beyond high output impedance, but in my measurements of low-quality amps (cell phone, laptop computers), an output impedance of 75 ohms is fairly typical. I thought it would be appropriate to show how a headphone performs with high and low output impedances, because headphones can encounter a range of output impedances and it's interesting to see how consistent their performance will be under different real-world conditions. As you can see from the measurements I've done, sometimes it's a significant difference. Nice as it might be for me to measure headphones using an actual low-quality amp (as I did here), I have a lot of headphones and speakers to measure for Sound+Vision and I do have to make things more practical whenever possible. (I'm not aware of any journalist in the world who does as many speaker and headphone measurements as I do, and that's not because I get paid a lot for it, it's because I think it's important.) Also, I'm presenting the 5-ohm measurement as my main frequency response chart, so if you don't like the 75-ohm measurement you're free to ignore it.

 

Fair enough. However, I do have to say that the impedance measurement portion of the tests weren't, in my opinion, properly addressed. When seeing those very flat impedance curves, did an exclamation mark go off in your head, realizing that it isn't normal to see something like that? Did it prompt you to think about why those impedance curves were so flat? Did it prompt you to do further research into seeing why both the BA100 and BA200 exhibited such oddly similar characteristics, despite having different drivers? I'm not actually trying to be snarky here, but I feel that these questions should have been directly addressed in the article and were not. I would highly recommend that, in the future, when such a measurement shows up on your printout, that you take a harder look.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbutterworth View Post

 

Given that the maximum variance I've seen in FR with 75 vs. 5 ohms output impedance is on the order of 3 dB, I seriously doubt that measuring with a 0.5-ohm instead of 5-ohm output impedance would have a large effect on frequency response, except with perhaps a very low-impedance headphone. If someone has evidence that I'm wrong here, please share it.


Well, 3 dB is massive. Most people can hear differences in FR on the order of <0.5 dB. Often balanced armature drivers have wild shifts in the impedance curve, especially with regard to phase. In bass regions, a driver might possibly drop to as low as 8 ohms or 6 ohms. The difference in damping factor between the bass region and other frequencies would be very different, resulting in changes to the frequency response relative to itself. While absolute changes are minimal, relative changes in different areas of a frequency response curve result in a significantly different psychoacoustic perception of the presentation of a headphone.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbutterworth View Post

 

Our results may differ from yours, but among 4 panelists (including me), none preferred the BA200 to the BA100. It's worth noting that I was the only one of the panelists who knew the prices and driver configurations of the headphones, so the other three panelists' opinions were unbiased. Our panelists have heard lots of different IEMs at different prices, and if anything, they are biased against a bass-heavy tonal balance, not in favor of it. I bring in the panelists because as I have learned from some of the world's best audio researchers, getting a wide range of opinions provides a more complete assessment and a more accurate idea of whether or not someone will like the product.


I might've said some harsh things about the quality of the review descriptions, but it was mostly due to the fact that there was no background behind why a certain listener believed the BA200 was lacking. We weren't given supplementary information about what tips your reviewers were using, and what these reviewers' typical sound preferences were. I realize that having a wide range of panelists is a good thing, but for people like us to buy into the review, we need to know more than just what they think. I also often find that even when people are very experienced with audio, they may not necessarily know how to assess in-ears in a way that is satisfying to people who almost exclusively use in-ears. Take Steve Guttenberg of CNET, for example. I'm sure he's very well versed with the audio world, and he has experience with large speakers and things of that nature that I can't even begin to fathom. However, he'll often review in-ear products that are <$100, and say very good things about them. When I listen to the same product, I'm sometimes unimpressed, leading me to believe that he may not be the best person to review in-ear products, despite his experience. I'm not saying that you should change your panel of reviewers, as their experiences may mirror their respective backgrounds, but as a person who has almost exclusive experience with in-ears and headphones, I always take statements like, "it lacks everything" with a grain of salt. To me, it doesn't show that the reviewers are taking the task of listening to the product seriously. I realize that on a given day, your panelists may be given dozens of products to listen to, and perhaps may not be able to give much time and effort into listening to a product as we do. However, publishing such a statement is irresponsible and short-sighted, in my opinion. It gives your readership nothing to go by.

 

I will also concede that the BA200 can appear at times to have a flat affect. I even reflected that in my review. I became very surprised, and doubtful, however, when your reviewers believed that the BA200 lacked bass definition. I've heard just about every single flagship universal in-ear model, as well as flagship custom demos, and I cannot believe that anyone can say that the BA200 lacked definition in the bass section. It's completely unfathomable to me. To that end, because the article never mentioned what sources these models were driven out of, I could only believe that it was driven in a way detrimental to the sound, leading me to doubt the quality of your review.

post #52 of 174
Thread Starter 

Oh, and Mr. Butterworth, thank you for taking the time to come and address different things about your review. Even though I have some opposing views, it's rare that journalists come to defend their work, and I commend you for that.

post #53 of 174

 

Originally Posted by tomscy2000 View Post


I would suggest that your tests in the future be based on what practical usage for a type of product, such as for in-ears: (1) unamplified out of a DAP like an iPod, or (2) amplified from a portable amplifier. Although we do run IEMs off desktop amplifiers at home, I can't imagine many people who run a BA100/200 off a V-Can the majority of the time.

Most DAPs nowadays average to about 5 ohms of output impedance, so I found it quite proper. IEMs aren't going to open up or change much because of a powerful amp as voltage isn't the issue in driving them. You could get an iPod, but I doubt they'll be much a difference and I'm certain graphs will reflect that. I can understand the paranoia, but this isn't a factor that will be game changer for this review. 

 

Fair enough. However, I do have to say that the impedance measurement portion of the tests weren't, in my opinion, properly addressed. When seeing those very flat impedance curves, did an exclamation mark go off in your head, realizing that it isn't normal to see something like that? Did it prompt you to think about why those impedance curves were so flat? Did it prompt you to do further research into seeing why both the BA100 and BA200 exhibited such oddly similar characteristics, despite having different drivers? I'm not actually trying to be snarky here, but I feel that these questions should have been directly addressed in the article and were not. I would highly recommend that, in the future, when such a measurement shows up on your printout, that you take a harder look.

I wouldn't be so hard on him, besides, the 75-5 ohm graphs tell you most of what you need to know about the impedance phase. Impedance phase are resonant indicators and when you add impedance to that IEM those regions usually get boosted. Dynamics usually have a flat impedance phase because the amount of voltage doesn't change their characteristics most of the time. What's interesting is that the BA100 still changes despite the flat impedance phase, the first case I've seen of that, though it's also the first BA I've seen with a flat IP. 

 

Well, 3 dB is massive. Most people can hear differences in FR on the order of <0.5 dB. Often balanced armature drivers have wild shifts in the impedance curve, especially with regard to phase. In bass regions, a driver might possibly drop to as low as 8 ohms or 6 ohms. The difference in damping factor between the bass region and other frequencies would be very different, resulting in changes to the frequency response relative to itself. While absolute changes are minimal, relative changes in different areas of a frequency response curve result in a significantly different psychoacoustic perception of the presentation of a headphone.
Agreed, but <0.5db differences aren't always as easily perceived, it depends on what frequency you are looking at as well. 


I might've said some harsh things about the quality of the review descriptions, but it was mostly due to the fact that there was no background behind why a certain listener believed the BA200 was lacking. We weren't given supplementary information about what tips your reviewers were using, and what these reviewers' typical sound preferences were. I realize that having a wide range of panelists is a good thing, but for people like us to buy into the review, we need to bt know more than just what they think. I also often find that even when people are very experienced with audio, they may not necessarily know how to assess in-ears in a way that is satisfying to people who almost exclusively use in-ears. Take Steve Guttenberg of CNET, for example. I'm sure he's very well versed with the audio world, and he has experience with large speakers and things of that nature that I can't even begin to fathom. However, he'll often review in-ear products that are <$100, and say very good things about them. When I listen to the same product, I'm sometimes unimpressed, leading me to believe that he may not be the best person to review in-ear products, despite his experience. I'm not saying that you should change your panel of reviewers, as their experiences may mirror their respective backgrounds, but as a person who has almost exclusive experience with in-ears and headphones, I always take statements like, "it lacks everything" with a grain of salt. To me, it doesn't show that the reviewers are taking the task of listening to the product seriously. I realize that on a given day, your panelists may be given dozens of products to listen to, and perhaps may not be able to give much time and effort into listening to a product as we do. However, publishing such a statement is irresponsible and short-sighted, in my opinion. It gives your readership nothing to go by.

I assumed stock silicone tips were used and I think this is the case, most professional reviewers do it that way though I too wish they experimented more with others. The descriptions weren't in depth and were pretty much generalizations of the sound, but I think the measurements helped ouy tremendously and complemented what was said. I always say that about most impressions that are made here, saying something is "better' needs to be explained because it may not be "better" for some, still I don't expect in-depth analysis all the time. 

 

I will also concede that the BA200 can appear at times to have a flat affect. I even reflected that in my review. I became very surprised, and doubtful, however, when your reviewers believed that the BA200 lacked bass definition. I've heard just about every single flagship universal in-ear model, as well as flagship custom demos, and I cannot believe that anyone can say that the BA200 lacked definition in the bass section. It's completely unfathomable to me. To that end, because the article never mentioned what sources these models were driven out of, I could only believe that it was driven in a way detrimental to the sound, leading me to doubt the quality of your review.

I think it's relative to what they've used, they do seem to want more punch (which I think is their use of definition), this is based on other reviews I've read from them. Haven't heard the BA200, but it's bass levels look fine on paper, if anything I would add impedance to the BA100 to get closer to it. Luckily they're not basshead either, with the exception of Will. 

 

Considering the mention of a 5ohm oi source, doubt the source is bad enough to be highly improper. There are always "what ifs", but I think I can easily put enough pieces together with this review. 


 

 


Edited by Inks - 2/28/12 at 12:06am
post #54 of 174

Personally I don't trust those reviewers. What I heard from the BA200 was in line with ClieOS and tomscy2000's impressions. No sibilance or whatsoever to speak of too.

post #55 of 174

That was a part that surprised me. But there is more 6-9k on the BA200 though, so it's definitely more forward in the sibilance region to the BA100, but I would also relate it to the recordings as well. Sibilance can be a very controversial factor and the levels really have to be heard in relation to your recordings to really know the truth. It could be just fine with a lot of recordings, but nowadays a lot of music is less balanced and compressed, so even something that doesn't emphasize there but gets closer to flat may be perceived as offensive. They did say it was more detailed because of it, so that's the nature of the double-edged response there. Could just be more revealing than naturally sibilant. 


Edited by Inks - 2/28/12 at 12:35am
post #56 of 174

 

I'm becoming quite allured to this IEM now, wish someone compared it to the CK10.

 

post #57 of 174
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Inks View Post
 

Most DAPs nowadays average to about 5 ohms of output impedance, so I found it quite proper. IEMs aren't going to open up or change much because of a powerful amp as voltage isn't the issue in driving them. You could get an iPod, but I doubt they'll be much a difference and I'm certain graphs will reflect that. I can understand the paranoia, but this isn't a factor that will be game changer for this review. 

 

I wouldn't be so hard on him, besides, the 75-5 ohm graphs tell you most of what you need to know about the impedance phase. Impedance phase are resonant indicators and when you add impedance to that IEM those regions usually get boosted. Dynamics usually have a flat impedance phase because the amount of voltage doesn't change their characteristics most of the time. What's interesting is that the BA100 still changes despite the flat impedance phase, the first case I've seen of that, though it's also the first BA I've seen with a flat IP. 


Agreed, but <0.5db differences aren't always as easily perceived, it depends on what frequency you are looking at as well. 

 

I assumed stock silicone tips were used and I think this is the case, most professional reviewers do it that way though I too wish they experimented more with others. The descriptions weren't in depth and were pretty much generalizations of the sound, but I think the measurements helped ouy tremendously and complemented what was said. I always say that about most impressions that are made here, saying something is "better' needs to be explained because it may not be "better" for some, still I don't expect in-depth analysis all the time. 

 

I think it's relative to what they've used, they do seem to want more punch (which I think is their use of definition), this is based on other reviews I've read from them. Haven't heard the BA200, but it's bass levels look fine on paper, if anything I would add impedance to the BA100 to get closer to it. Luckily they're not basshead either, with the exception of Will. 

 

Considering the mention of a 5ohm oi source, doubt the source is bad enough to be highly improper. There are always "what ifs", but I think I can easily put enough pieces together with this review.


Fair enough. I just feel that using sources closer to what typical usage characteristics are will resonate better with readers. I'd say that the majority of readers also rarely read graphs as carefully as you do, Inks. It's important to inform with words as a primary source of information, with graphs being secondary and supplementary.

 

Well, BA drivers most likely differ in their impedance characteristics because the magnetic field applied across the moving armature is often not the typical toroid form seen in dynamic drivers. Diagrams show in the postings on Knowles' and Sonion's websites show sometimes highly irregular-looking magnetic fields. I found it surprising that TDK was able to get the curve that flat, even though it's not perfect.

 

Oh, and I meant that I perceived the review to be improperly conducted at my initial reading of the article, rather than after his explanations. I definitely respect the concessions that he has to make in his tests as a reviewer, and the suggestions I made are merely that --- suggestions to make a review more exhaustively conducted.

post #58 of 174
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealSlimSeto View Post

Personally I don't trust those reviewers. What I heard from the BA200 was in line with ClieOS and tomscy2000's impressions. No sibilance or whatsoever to speak of too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inks View Post

That was a part that surprised me. But there is more 6-9k on the BA200 though, so it's definitely more forward in the sibilance region to the BA100, but I would also relate it to the recordings as well. Sibilance can be a very controversial factor and the levels really have to be heard in relation to your recordings to really know the truth. It could be just fine with a lot of recordings, but nowadays a lot of music is less balanced and compressed, so even something that doesn't emphasize there but gets closer to flat may be perceived as offensive. They did say it was more detailed because of it, so that's the nature of the double-edged response there. Could just be more revealing than naturally sibilant. 


Yeah, I forgot to address the sibilance statement they made. It could very well be that they're particularly sensitive to it, and that there was already more recording sibilance in the tracks they tested. With the stock silicone double flange tips, sibilance is audible, but it's very small and definitely not nearly as strong as many other earphones that I've tried, including the GR07, SE535LTD-J, DBA-02, and others. With Comply foams, the sibilance is reduced to basically nothing. It could also be that they're hearing the junction of the crossover, as the author suggested, but even though it was audible, I found the difference in voicing between the low and high drivers a pleasant feature, rather than a detractor. The UM3x is still less sibilant, and softer edged, so I want to see what their reviewers think of the UM3x.


Edited by tomscy2000 - 2/28/12 at 12:50am
post #59 of 174

Great review! I think i've seen these available at local retail outlets, TDK IEM's have just recently become widely available in my country. I'm sufficiently curious about them now that I'll have to try to audition one if I can.

post #60 of 174
I still think 5 ohm is too high for IEM these days (*they were fine almost a few years ago when IEM impedance were generally higher). BA200 might be borderline fine but what about most of the 16 ohm universal and 12ohm custom out there? I can only imagine the new Sony XBA line with their single digit impedance will not sit well with an 5 ohm output impedance. For the least, a 1 ohm or less measurement should be included as well.

Good mention about the eartips - EB950 comes with Comply T400 as stock, BA100 comes with single flanges as stock and BA200 comes with bi-flanges as stock. We all know eartips can make or break an IEM sometime, but that usually varies from person to person. I just re-linstened to all three and find myself reaching the same conclusion that I prefer EB950 and BA200 over BA100. I can only imagine those who prefer BA100 would like a richer, more mid centric presentation. I know I like the soundstage and extension on the EB900 and BA200 more, even though the vocal is not quite as sweet. No sibilance for me as well.
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