First of all, I would like to thank everyone for showing up. Having a face to face discussion in real time with examples strewn about was absolutely amazing. It has completely changed the way I look at headphones and their sound, and it has especially changed the headphones that I recommend and how I feel about their sound. Most importantly, the meet taught me about various aspects of sound that I considered important and unimportant, and that has also changed.
Secondly, my girlfriend would like to thank you for being so nice and answering her questions with a smile instead of the typical big-headedness you find online sometimes. She really enjoyed meeting everyone and will “probably eventually” make an account. I’ve been goading her to do it for a while now and I think once she saves up for her desktop computer she will make audio her next focus.
On to the impressions! I’ll just go in the order in which I took pictures and kind of the order in which I remember things.
THERES A LOT OF TEXT AFTER THIS, SORRY.
Audeze LCD-2 (Rev 2, I think): These used to be my “end game goal”. I tried them and although I really enjoyed the sound, they were somewhat disappointing to me in certain key aspects. I was expecting the pads to be extraordinarily soft and plushy. They were actually kind of hard. I liked the shape of the pads and the seal they made. I MUCH preferred the wood color of the LCD-2 to the newer LCD-3 (Jude’s “cherrypicked” versions, anyways lol).
I listened to the LCD-2 out of thread’s SR-71B portable amp and also out of the Schiit Asgard, and also out of my puny but flat Fiio E11. I had the fiio E11 turned to high power mode (extra current), and high gain mode. I still had to crank them kind of high to get decent sound out of the LCD-2’s but I was extremely surprised that any sound came out of them at all. The biggest difference was made by what I think was current. The Schiit asgard was by far the best at driving them out of the three. The sr-71B did a very nice job too but since I didn’t have any music I was familiar with I cant be too sure. The Fiio E11 did a great job considering its small size and relatively low power output.
Through the SR-71B and the Fiio E11 I noticed that although there was plenty of bass, it wasn’t “fast”. I felt that the bass quantity was excellent, as was the presence, but I was really looking for some thump and I was disappointed with what there was. The asgard really made the tracks I played sound great. The SR-71B also did a fairly formidable job but I think the asgard was the clear winner over the 3. I’m just proud that my fiio didn’t simply sputter and die with the LCD-2. I didn’t realize they were THAT efficient. Also, they clamped harder than I was expecting.
TL;DR: It wasn’t what I expected, less comfy. The Asgard made it sound much closer to what I expected. I liked the balance but there wasn’t enough punch in the low end.
Schiit Products: The Asgard did an amazing job at driving the LCD-2 and I would love to take a production model out for a spin with a few other pairs of headphones to see where it stands. The Valhalla and Lyr had tubes inside but I would have liked for the tubes and subsequent tube glow to be more evident and visible. I find tubes to be a beautiful contraption and I like to see tubes more than a plain metal box. I was not a fan of how small the Schiit products were. I was kind of hoping they were big honking amps that almost left the impression that the buyer was compensating for something… They were a VERY manageable size though and in a hifi room they would fit excellently.
TL;DR: Smaller than what I expected, very classy looking. Would get asgard over the other two, but didn’t try the other two.
Jose’s Setup and Jude’s “cherrypicked” LCD3’s: I am not entirely sure what I listened to out of Jose’s woo audio amp, or if I listened to anything at all. I am pretty sure I listened to the LCD-3 out of the woo audio. I was only able to listen to Jose’s music collection and I was unfamiliar with many of the tracks. Hotel California sounded so close to live that the lack of screaming fans left me wanting. I never realized there was 2 guitars playing in AC/DC’s back in black. The LCD-3’s also had exactly what I was expecting the pads to feel like. I wish I was able to listen to the LCD-3’s with my own collection out of Jose’s setup. I feel like they may have been able to knock out my current favorite if I had known how it performed with my own music. In retrospect, I probably should have simply taken the LCD-3’s to the asgard room or to the back room to test with the Beta22 and my iPod as a line level input source. The LCD3’s were exactly what I expected the LCD-2’s to be like in terms of build and maybe in terms of sound.
TL;DR: Wish I could have listened to LCD-3 with my own music. More research required. VERY comfortable. Sounds excellent but don’t know about bass punch.
HE-6, both Jose’s and Nasa Shirt with B22/O22+Aleph Pass3 + Emotiva Dac/Preamp: I think nasa shirt guy’s name was Ben. I’ll just call him Nasa from here on out, but I do apologize for not remembering your name. I tried the HE-6 with my own music out of both the Darkstar and the Aleph amp that was present. I preferred the sound of the HE-6 the most out of any headphone I tried, and I preferred it out of the Aleph more than anything. I think it may have been because that back room was so quiet but I was able to concentrate on the bass detail a lot better, and it was easier to forget the HE-6 were on my head. The detail and resolution was superb on the HE-6. It completely rocked my head when I played Pendulum and Nero. When I listened to radiohead, it felt like a duo of sexy swimsuit models were using kittens to gently massage butter into my eardrums. The sheer fanaticism I feel for these headphones is honestly ridiculous. I used to want the LCD-2’s but so far it looks like all of my future projects and aspirations will go towards owning these fine works of craftmenship. This high up into the stratospheric range it is difficult to say what set these apart from everything else. I guess the complete and utter transparency is what did it for me. I could not for the life of me think of any possible other way that the artist would want me to listen to their song. Some headphones, like the “downtown”, sounded like they were straining to add bass emphasis. Other headphones sounded good but not natural. The HE-6 were VERY transparent to me. Even with the HD800’s playing radiohead’s In Rainbows I felt that the HD800’s were straining to produce a few of the bass notes and that the instrumentation was not quite “gelling together”. With the HE-6, I could close my eyes and reach out to grab each sound effect. Yorke’s voice was in my head while the background sound effects were all around my head. I think with the HE-6 I would be afraid to listen to any dolby headphone effects or play a scary game because of the exact way in which they separated instruments. My only qualm about them was hearing that Ray Samuel blew his up using the dark star. I was listening to the dark star at about 60% volume and Jose was initially a bit worried that I would blow them up. He listened and was satisfied that they were not being driven too hard, but I am now very apprehensive about whether or not they would be a good purchase. 1200 bucks is a LOT to lose with a simple twist of the volume knob. I would love to hear about what happened when they blew up regarding if it was a weird freak occurrence or what. I might shoot the hifiman people a mail and ask them for the maximum limitations for input for the HE-6.
TL;DR: Mother Of God…
Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 and DT880 600 ohm: I was not terribly impressed with the T1. It had a great sound but the HE-6 had long since ruined me by then. I totally understand what people say about those harsh highs. They aren’t that bad but I guess after listening for more than an hour or two they would get tiring. My ath-m50’s are severely harsh in the high range and the T1’s would still be a welcome upgrade from them in any case.
The DT880 600 ohm sounded good too but I didn’t AB between the T1 and the 880. The 880’s had that same slight loudness in the high end, and they also did not have the punch I was looking for in this price range. Something about that bass punch just seems to be elusive to many headphones, perhaps because I’m used to the ATH-m50’s slap-in-the-face bass reproduction, even with the 840pad mod (more on this later).
TL;DR: Sounds great but not a fan of the highs in either. Would recommend for gaming, I think.
Sennheiser HD598: Very nice sounding. HUGE bass improvement over the HD595 and presumably the HD555. I wasn’t a fan of how hollow they sounded, though. Also that color scheme is weird. I would recommend these as a budget entry level model for people.
Sennheiser HD600 and HD650: These were my next-upgrade winner. In particular the HD650’s. I did not at all feel that the HD650 were “veiled”. I liked the increased bass response and punchiness of the 650 over the 600. I was not a fan of the build quality. I feel that if you spend 600 bucks on a pair of headphones, there better not be a single molecule of plastic, and if there is it better be painted nicely. I felt that both models felt like they had a cheap coating of Testor’s spray can model paint. The HD600 had a very weird color scheme and the HD650 werent really nice to look at either. They definitely are not for portable or library use as they broadcast something fierce. However, I loved their sound quality, even out of my Fiio E11. Granted, I had to crank the volume to near full power to get some proper listening levels but that just gives me an excuse to upgrade multiple things when I finally buy them. Another huge plus is that they are pretty much always on amazon for around 300 bucks. The biggest eye-opening thing with these two headphones is that many people consider them neutral with slightly increased bass response. I felt that they had the perfect amount of bass and this taught me what a “neutral” bass signature actually sounds like. HUGE eye opener.
TL;DR: HD650 will be my next upgrade. They will also open the path for a lot of prototype amps and builds.
Shure SRH-1840: I loved the build quality but there was pretty much no bass. Bose would have been proud. They didn’t sound unacceptable, but I would have been pissed if I had actually bought them. They were darn comfortable though.
Sennheiser HD800: These were basically exactly what I expected. They would actually do amazingly with quite a lot of types of music. Basically anything without sub bass. They look weird with their reverse D design, and I’m not a fan of how they look, but I think they look better than the upcoming HD700. I wasn’t expecting it to be so spacious inside of the cup.
Koss PortaPro: These sounded EXCELLENT. I felt they sounded different than the koss clip ons that used the same driver. Perhaps because of the fit or perhaps because of the way the two are ported. I think the Portapro would be a great modding headphone. If it was modded with some really soft earpads and a covering for the head band, they would be a VERY nice headphone.
Sennheiser IE8: I am very glad I didn’t jump on these. They are very warm. I was not a fan of the bass response on these. Unfortunately, now I have to go back to researching which IEM’s I need to try to get a proper indication of bass response and neutral-ness. I liked the sound signature of monster turbines and was expecting something similar but these kind of sounded “fuzzy” or “furry” in the bass department.
ATH-M50 Stock pads vs SRH-840 pads: My straight cable ATH-m50’s have SRH-840 pads on them. Another new user had his ATH-m50’s with stock pads. The difference between them was staggering. We applied all logic to figure out why his ATH-m50’s had an overpowering bass response while mine were almost neutral, had nice bass punch, and slightly harsh highs. The pads were only millimeters apart in thickness. His headphones were newer but burnt in longer whereas mine were older but less used. His pads were a bit stiffer than mine but both would compress to the same thickness when the headphones were worn. By all logic, the headphones should have sounded exactly the same. Eventually we decided to simply switch the pads and see what happened. Everyone was blown away. The pads changed the sound signature of the ATH-m50’s to an almost neutral beyerdynamic-ish sound. All the punch was there but the deep humming notes that the ATH-m50 would overemphasize were gone, and there was a harshness in the treble. The ATH-m50 with SRH-840 mod sounds NOTHiNG like stock ath-m50’s. I’d say the ATH-m50’s are a headphone well worth the money, especially if you can get an entirely different sound signature with a reversible 20 dollar mod. The stock pads would be much preferred to me while driving because my car drowns out all bass. The 840 pads are preferred to me pretty much all other times.
Misc. Thoughts: All the orthodynamics that I listened to had this weird effect on my hearing. It felt like a weird vacuum pressure difference thing. It went away almost immediately after the headphones got situated and adjusted, but on the ones that made a particularly good seal like LCD2 and 3, it was quite noticeable initially. The HE-6 did not do this as bad. It wasn’t really uncomfortable, it was just unexpected.
Monster Turbines go up in durability as you get through models. Jude has never even heard of driver flex whereas my bassline model is plagued by it so much that I haven’t even bothered opening the warranty replacement unit I have. I honestly didn’t even put in a pair of monster headphones because of how much I detest the durability of my turbines.