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Fostex TH900 Impressions & Discussion Thread - Page 413

post #6181 of 7954
Quote:
Originally Posted by FritzS View Post

Whats the difference between an TH-600 and an old Denon AH D7000?
Whats the difference between the earpads of the TH-600 and TH-900?
Sounds a D7000 better with TH-600 or TH-900 earpads too?

I can add a comment on your first question.

My Lawton modded D7000 was basically a clone of the TH600 I was auditioning. Side by side, same music and source, they were a dead heat.

And from memory (auditioned the TH600 about six months ago) now that I own a TH900 the pads seemed the same.
post #6182 of 7954
Unfortunately not heard the DN7000

Pad difference is small. I think the TH-900 have slightly nicer/softer foam inside the pads.
post #6183 of 7954

Pads are different on the TH-900 vs TH-600. The TH-900 pads are egg protein leather, the TH-600 are just regular leather. They feel different and wear different.

 

Note: Both are comfortable - so I wouldn't worry to much about comfort between the two pads. The difference from what I understand will come down to how they wear. Supposedly the egg protein has a longer life of being fluffy and plush - the leather wears faster. 


Edited by Greed - 1/25/14 at 9:35am
post #6184 of 7954
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greed View Post
 

None of what you are saying can be proved unless you have insider info or work for said DAC companies. I've built two DIY DACs and plenty of amps - and the cost to construct a lot of these components cost a lot more than you would think. Granted mark-ups are hefty on an individual company basis, a blanket statement that brands every DAC manufacture as crooks in essence (80-90% lol c'mon...) is wrong.. 

 

Are you speaking from experience? or are you just regurgitating arguments from nay-sayers you trust that believe that DACs don't sound much different? It is a slippery slope when you are talking about DACs I agree, but without hearing the actual differences for yourself - your opinion has no weight IMO. If you can't personally hear the difference between DACs either because your gear isn't resolving enough or your hearing isn't good enough that is different, and I envy you but saying there isn't a difference or they're small is false.

 

Note: Not trying to be rude at all, so please don't take it that way. 

hahaha yea, it's chill. just different opinions.

 

mmm... i would imagine the mark-ups of 50-80% is quite reasonable & all consumer products on the market are heavily marked up. doesn't really mean they are crooks or anything. actually in the luxury market segment for most products, mark-ups of 100-300% is not uncommon, and I would imagine that expensive DACs fit in that segment. I personally imagine the 80-90% mark-up to be a conservative estimate hahah. Considering you can get nice very fully-featured A/V receivers at MSRP for $200-400, I think that would put into perspective what the price for stand-alone DAC can be. considering you can buy dac chips for pennies in bulk & the parts of a dac are pretty dirt cheap, i don't think that extreme mark-ups should be surprising to you. it's different if you are DIY one component, but when established companies are mass-producing products, the costs drop extremely significantly. if you like your equipment, that's totally chill... but if you are imagining that you got a really sweet deal on your expensive high-end DAC equipment, I just think you are misinformed. It is a luxury product, and subjected to significant luxury mark-ups. Like seriously, does anyone really think that the components/manufacturing costs of the WA7 Firefly is anywhere close to $1000? A lot of that high price is due to design, brand, perceived market value, and how much they think they can get away with charging.

 

I've tried a few different DACs, though nothing more than $300-400 with my HE-400 (which should pretty resolving right?) and honestly couldn't really hear any sound quality difference that was a night-day difference. So I settled on getting a really cheap budget DAC. That is why I feel comfortable saying that unless you have top of the line headphones (like the $1500 HD800), it probably doesn't matter.

 

Edit: I would imagine the TH900 to be a top-of-the-line flagship type headphone, so your DAC choice probably does have an impact on the sound quality, but since I never played with just high-end expensive equipment, I can't say. I just think it's silly to view companies throwing out heavy mark-ups to be crooks. Everything is marked-up of course. But when you can buy computers, smart phones, nice TVs at the same price as your DAC... I would imagine it is reasonable for your mind to say wow, the price of dacs are really marked-up.

 

I guess the point of my post is the say that using price as an indicator for quality may not be accurate.


Edited by money4me247 - 1/25/14 at 12:05pm
post #6185 of 7954
Quote:
Originally Posted by money4me247 View Post
 

hahaha yea, it's chill. just different opinions.

 

mmm... i would imagine the mark-ups of 50-80% is quite reasonable & all consumer products on the market are heavily marked up. doesn't really mean they are crooks or anything. actually in the luxury market segment for most products, mark-ups of 100-300% is not uncommon, and I would imagine that expensive DACs fit in that segment. I personally imagine the 80-90% mark-up to be a conservative estimate hahah. Considering you can get nice very fully-featured A/V receivers at MSRP for $200-400, I think that would put into perspective what the price for stand-alone DAC can be. considering you can buy dac chips for pennies in bulk & the parts of a dac are pretty dirt cheap, i don't think that extreme mark-ups should be surprising to you. it's different if you are DIY one component, but when established companies are mass-producing products, the costs drop extremely significantly. if you like your equipment, that's totally chill... but if you are imagining that you got a really sweet deal on your expensive high-end DAC equipment, I just think you are misinformed. It is a luxury product, and subjected to significant luxury mark-ups. Like seriously, does anyone really think that the components/manufacturing costs of the WA7 Firefly is anywhere close to $1000? A lot of that high price is due to design, brand, perceived market value, and how much they think they can get away with charging.

 

I've tried a few different DACs, though nothing more than $300-400 with my HE-400 (which should pretty resolving right?) and honestly couldn't really hear any sound quality difference that was a night-day difference. So I settled on getting a really cheap budget DAC. That is why I feel comfortable saying that unless you have top of the line headphones (like the $1500 HD800), it probably doesn't matter.

 

Edit: I would imagine the TH900 to be a top-of-the-line flagship type headphone, so your DAC choice probably does have an impact on the sound quality, but since I never played with just high-end expensive equipment, I can't say. I just think it's silly to view companies throwing out heavy mark-ups to be crooks. Everything is marked-up of course. But when you can buy computers, smart phones, nice TVs at the same price as your DAC... I would imagine it is reasonable for your mind to say wow, the price of dacs are really marked-up.

 

I guess the point of my post is the say that using price as an indicator for quality may not be accurate.

 

I can agree that there are significant markups but nowhere near your original 80-90%. I can further agree that commercial products do have the advantage of buying bulk and being able to streamline production which cuts costs tremendously. What I can't agree on is your conclusion that just because DAC chips cost pennies, means that DACs are being severely marked up. You ask anyone that has their hand in this market if the DAC chip is even 5% of the cost that goes into a DAC any they will confirm no... its more like 1%. I don't think you fully understand how much some of these parts cost. Moreover, there are other costs such as R&D (huge cost in this rapidly progress market) and of course the most costly... chassis work. There is a lot of misinformation here in your post, and I can now understand why you have the opinion you do. What I will say though is that there are exceptions, and some of what you said can fairly be applied to those specific DACs. 

post #6186 of 7954
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greed View Post
 

I can agree that there are significant markups but nowhere near your original 80-90%. I can further agree that commercial products do have the advantage of buying bulk and being able to streamline production which cuts costs tremendously. What I can't agree on is your conclusion that just because DAC chips cost pennies, means that DACs are being severely marked up. You ask anyone that has their hand in this market if the DAC chip is even 5% of the cost that goes into a DAC any they will confirm no... its more like 1%. I don't think you fully understand how much some of these parts cost. Moreover, there are other costs such as R&D (huge cost in this rapidly progress market) and of course the most costly... chassis work. There is a lot of misinformation here in your post, and I can now understand why you have the opinion you do. What I will say though is that there are exceptions, and some of what you said can fairly be applied to those specific DACs. 

lol. just wondering if you can give me an example of the expenses that you are talking about. the thing is that many companies have proven that they can make the chassis, boards, dac and manufacturing for a very quality stand-alone dac at the $100-400 price point (& remember they are making profit for this price point). I would imagine that A/V receivers or computers/tablets have even more components & increased manufacturing costs, but you can find both at a lower price point than most stand-alone dacs. So I just can't imagine what would be the specific component or manufacturing technique or chassis material (lol) that actually causes the giant cost jump up to $500-1000+ for the more expensive dacs.

 

There is no misinformation in my post as it is a personal opinion lol. The facts would be that the DAC ships are dirt cheap, boards are pretty cheap, and a steel chassis is hardly very expensive. The conclusion isn't because the chip is cheap, the dac should be cheap, but the fact that the pricing of DACs compared to other advanced electronics on the market is quite absurd. I feel like that most CD players have a pretty solid DAC implementations in them, and how much do CD players cost? In terms of R&D, what revolution has the DAC market undergone recently? Phones have exploded with actual ground-breaking revolutionary features in the past 10 years, but the pricing of the phones remain competitive (and cheaper than most DACs on the market lol). I personally think of it the other way around: that there are only a few exceptions of DAC's that actually have the performance that justifies its price tag.

 

Of course, this whole discussion is totally off-topic & subject to personal perspectives, so it is totally chill for us to agree to disagree hahaha.

post #6187 of 7954

I would have to agree with Greed here, for the most part. 

 

While I have no direct knowledge of how these "boutique" manufacturers price their products, here is a little insight at the pricing strategy of the company I work for. The company manufactures consumer electronics, dabbles in TVs, audio products and also game consoles...I guess those hints should be enough. Please note that these are ballpark figures. I could go into specifics, but I could get fired. Please don't ask me to get myself fired. :)

 

There are certain products, mostly in the $100-$300 where the mark-up is really high. Entry level products are easy and cheap to manufacture, and are popular. The markup is usually 60-70%. Not all of it goes to profits. Most go to retailers and marketing etc. 

 

Mid-tier products is the bread and butter. Mark-ups top off probably around 25%, but most of the time is around 15-20%. The quality on these is far superior to the entry level products, as this is where we make our living. Sales of mid-tier products is where the volume is, so it makes sense for you to build it as good as you possibly can for the price. The better a product is built, the less you have to spend on support. 

 

The top-shelf products, well, that's for show. Build the best top flight consumer products and charge a premium - let slip that 80-90% of the tech is in your mid-tier - drive up the sales of your bread and butter. The mark up for the premium stuff is higher than the mid-tier, but nowhere near 80%! Somewhere around 30% would sound about right. The profits for us and for our resellers though, is minimal. Less even than the mid-level stuff! There's the technology and the cost of manufacture. We don't manufacture a lot of these, and we do not expect to sell all of them even. But top of the line products are what drives the sales of the mid level products, by virtue of their desirability.

 

The proximity of the performance of the mid-tier to the top shelf drive sales of the products where we actually make a penny.  It is no wonder that you can see lots of dac and amp manufacturers now releasing mid-level offerings.  

 

Now, whether this is the same strategy the boutique audio companies adhere to, I don't know, but it makes sense that the respectable ones - most of them - will be following the same tac. Do I think there are those who are just price-gouging us - oh hell yes! But avoiding these companies is the responsibility of the consumer. Caveat emptor. We should not blanket all DAC makers as fraudsters - that undermines those that really do their best to give us quality products and advance the enjoyment of the hobby. Most of them are or were hobbyists like us at some point.  

 

Whew! sorry that took so long. 

 

I'd also like to add that after a year with the NAD M51 and the Bifrost - yeah the difference is really there. Noticeable not only with the TH900, but the HE500, the LCD2, and even my HD598. While it does matter (the DAC I mean), it does not take away from the enjoyment of using the TH900 with something like an E17 - a regular occurrence for me when walking around the house. It's easy to drive, easy to get along with - the TH900 I mean. But when I crave for more, I sit down and listen to the main setup, which is middling compared to most here but was a considerable investment for me. Never had buyers remorse, as every time the TH900 floors me when listening to a new track - I get this satisfaction that I've never had with any other consumer gadget I've ever owned.  

post #6188 of 7954
Economies of scale work against the boutique sellers in their production costs too. Having a few hundred chassis made is considerably more expensive than buying thousands of units like a large company would. If you really want to get an insight into how difficult it can be for small outfits to produce kit try taking a look at the abandoned iControlPad2 Kickstarter.

In terms of them sounding the same, you have to consider the implementation - there is a LOT more going on than just the DAC chip in terms of how a unit sounds. Issues of power supply, isolation from various kinds of signal interference, the output stage, balanced or single-ended, output impedance, noise floor etc etc.

Should point out that not all DAC chips are that cheap either. The PCM1704 in my Audio-GD Reference 10.32 costs as much as $75USD for one unit, or as little as $55USD if you were to buy them in quantities of 5,000 units (which is obviously above the buying power of a boutique seller). The Reference 10.32 has 8 of these units in it (fully balanced), so about a quarter or slightly more of the total cost of the unit (which is both DAC and amp and pre-amp) is accounted for by the DAC chip alone.
Edited by NZtechfreak - 1/25/14 at 3:25pm
post #6189 of 7954
Quote:
Originally Posted by money4me247 View Post
 

lol. just wondering if you can give me an example of the expenses that you are talking about. the thing is that many companies have proven that they can make the chassis, boards, dac and manufacturing for a very quality stand-alone dac at the $100-400 price point (& remember they are making profit for this price point). I would imagine that A/V receivers or computers/tablets have even more components & increased manufacturing costs, but you can find both at a lower price point than most stand-alone dacs. So I just can't imagine what would be the specific component or manufacturing technique or chassis material (lol) that actually causes the giant cost jump up to $500-1000+ for the more expensive dacs.

 

There is no misinformation in my post as it is a personal opinion lol. The facts would be that the DAC ships are dirt cheap, boards are pretty cheap, and a steel chassis is hardly very expensive. The conclusion isn't because the chip is cheap, the dac should be cheap, but the fact that the pricing of DACs compared to other advanced electronics on the market is quite absurd. I feel like that most CD players have a pretty solid DAC implementations in them, and how much do CD players cost? In terms of R&D, what revolution has the DAC market undergone recently? Phones have exploded with actual ground-breaking revolutionary features in the past 10 years, but the pricing of the phones remain competitive (and cheaper than most DACs on the market lol). I personally think of it the other way around: that there are only a few exceptions of DAC's that actually have the performance that justifies its price tag.

 

Of course, this whole discussion is totally off-topic & subject to personal perspectives, so it is totally chill for us to agree to disagree hahaha.

 

I can now understand where you are coming from, but I can assure you are mistaken. It isn't that black and white. Just because some companies can pump out a DAC at a lower cost doesn't mean they are even on equal footing compared to higher end DACs. That is where I think some unwarranted skepticism is entering this discussion. I'm not sure why you are bring up A/V receivers which are a completely different market. They have very different priorities, and I can assure you a $300 A/V receiver won't sound as good as good, well designed stand alone $300 DAC. 

 

Bottom line the cost to design (R&D, etc.) is an extremely tedious and expensive task. At least if we are talking about a well designed DAC with all of the improvements that have been made within the last few years. Casework is for the most part the most expensive part of any component (remember we are talking about boutique, small scale companies here - relatively speaking). I think you under estimate just how much money it costs to mill these chassis, moreover the cost to do front and back panel drilling and design work. Most of these things aren't churned through an assembly line like a car, or even A/V receivers. Also, you mentioned some of the cheapest portions of "parts". The circuit boards and DAC chip/s are cheap yes, but what about 10-16 capacitors, 2-8 toroidal transformers, etc. I think you are over-simplifying the process and costs because you see Sony, Pioneer, etc. produce stuff for a few hundred dollars. 

 

Now without really going off-topic, DACs are the fastest progressing market in personal audio. Ask anyone. There is a ton of new tech in the digital playback realm and some that have been revamped like the latest craze with DSD/DXD. 

 

In any event, I won't veer anymore off topic here. I just want to explain where I'm coming from and I now understand your opinion as well. 


Edited by Greed - 1/25/14 at 5:45pm
post #6190 of 7954

Just ordered the TH900 from Headroom (couldn't pass up the $1,500 price tag). My primary set of cans are the LCD-2 rev2.5 I also have the Denon D5000's but those don't get much use these days. 

 

Have a few questions:

I've always thought the LCD-2's warmth made the sound somewhat veiled. How would you compare the sound sig of the 900's to the LCD2? 

 

I'm running the Schiit Lyr and Bifrost w/ uber upgrade DAC. Does anyone have any experience with the 900's and Schiit's gear? I'm a little concerned that I might blow the 900's up with the Lyr. 


Edited by DenonBeaver - 1/25/14 at 8:29pm
post #6191 of 7954

mmm... cool & interesting discussion :) enjoyed reading the points that everyone else brought up.

 

i didn't mean to imply that high mark-ups on DACs equal fraudsters/crooks. I think logically, for such a niche product with a small target audience to survive, they need to make a lot of profit per sell. also, the fact that most DAC manufacturers are smaller companies that only focus on niche audiophile products may make it difficult for them give you a great low-profit-margin price & survive. i imagine the demand for DACs is quite low compared to other electronics, so companies can't make an overall high profit by selling bulk.

 

I find it interesting that the large powerhouse electronics companies that can probably make & release a very high-quality dac on the cheap are not getting into this business, probably because the target audience looking for something like this is really small so such a strategy will not be profitable.

 

mmm... my brother works in i-banking & he does a lot of research into how different businesses work, and the things he tells me about the business world really blew my mind/changed my expectations on how companies operate.

 

:normal_smile : edit: totally understand where you're coming from too hahaha

post #6192 of 7954
Quote:
Originally Posted by DenonBeaver View Post
 

Just ordered the TH900 from Headroom (couldn't pass up the $1,500 price tag). My primary set of cans are the LCD-2 rev2.5 I also have the Denon D5000's but those don't get much use these days. 

 

Have a few questions:

I've always thought the LCD-2's warmth made the sound somewhat veiled. How would you compare the sound sig of the 900's to the LCD2? 

 

I'm running the Schiit Lyr and Bifrost w/ uber upgrade DAC. Does anyone have any experience with the 900's and Schiit's gear? I'm a little concerned that I might blow the 900's up with the Lyr. 


TH900 is a lot different from the LCD-2 in the upper frequency range, it is brighter and detail extraction is an improvement. Mid are more seductive with the LCD-2s and sound stage is a lot more closed in. The only similarities are in the bass but the TH900 having more impact or "rumble" as they call it and the bass has a different texture. Both cans are great for bass-heads.

post #6193 of 7954
Quote:
Originally Posted by dukeskd View Post


TH900 is a lot different from the LCD-2 in the upper frequency range, it is brighter and detail extraction is an improvement. Mid are more seductive with the LCD-2s and sound stage is a lot more closed in. The only similarities are in the bass but the TH900 having more impact or "rumble" as they call it and the bass has a different texture. Both cans are great for bass-heads.
Any comments on the sub-bass? Does the TH900 reach lower than the LCD-2?
post #6194 of 7954
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio Jester View Post


Any comments on the sub-bass? Does the TH900 reach lower than the LCD-2?

They both reach pretty low to be honest but I feel my LCD-3 has the tighter bass with shorter decay. The TH900 has the dynamic driver quality "sub-bass rumble" reminscent of a woofer which can be quite enjoyable for electronic music, hip hop, rnb, and so on. In the current top flight cans, the Audeze and Fostex are kings for bass-heads.

post #6195 of 7954
Quote:
Originally Posted by DenonBeaver View Post

.........

I'm running the Schiit Lyr and Bifrost w/ uber upgrade DAC. Does anyone have any experience with the 900's and Schiit's gear? I'm a little concerned that I might blow the 900's up with the Lyr. 

I've had decent experience with the Bifrost/Lyr combo but I was not wowed. I am a lot happier with the Gungnir/Mjolnir combo.

Edit: I don't think you will blow up the 900 unless you go to ear-bleeding levels.
Edited by kothganesh - 1/26/14 at 12:31am
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