Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Final Audio Design Impressions and Discussion Thread
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Final Audio Design Impressions and Discussion Thread - Page 30

post #436 of 7179

Music, I did hear the FI-BA-SS.


Okay, I am going to post impressions while my thoughts are fresh. If my wording lacks nuance, please forgive me. As soon as I finish, I am off to spend more time listening at Jabens. Please also understand that my impressions were on one occassion and not at all final. If I insult any headphones that people love, no offence intended and indeed my opinions are subject to change. (I am cognisant in particular of Shane's revelations.)


Yesterday I got to Jaben and asked to hear the FI-BA-SS and the Heaven IV. Great guys incidentally; very helpful. First visual impressions: the SS is much smaller than I expected and the IV is much larger than I expected. I was quite surprised. I put on the SS and listened to St. James by Snakefarm which is a song that I use to test everything from bass response to soundstage to female vocals. It is exquisitely produced and hits all the right buttons. What I perceived was born out by all the songs that followed. The SS does a remarkable job with vocals, not just Anna Domino but also Peter Townsend on I am One from Quadrophenia, Eva Cassidy and pretty much all others. It is a special quality to this headphone. Unfortunately I was otherwise bored listening to the SS. It does everything well: good bass, decent soundstage width, surprising amounts of detail where you don't expect it, but it was just leaving me feeling fidgety and uninvolved. It could have been a mood thing. The SS was not drawing me in.


Then I switched the Heaven IV. It is a bit more dynamic but it does not have the same exquisite vocals, that being the SS' saving grace. Great value for $200+ dollars but it didn't offer me anything as an ES5 owner.  


It was not shaping up to be a good headphone session. Maybe it was just the wrong day. I do have bad headphone days...


So I switched to the TG334. Okay, maybe the day was going to turn out alright after all. Now this is not the thread to wax eloquent on Fitear but I mention it because everything that I felt was missing from the SS was suddenly in the house and between my ears: nuance, layers, presence and most importantly: compulsion! I was compelled to listen, drawn in, involved, curious and thirsting for more. The transparency of the TG334 is breathtaking and almost impossible to believe in a universal isolating BA IEM. (I then did comparisons with certain Fitear universal demos which I will not discuss here. I am going back for more Fitear today.)


So my feeling from this short session is that, to my ears, the FI-BA-SS was hitting below its weight. A lot of money is being spent on that hand-milled casing. It does produce exquisite vocals. But otherwise I just don't think that it competes with the similarly-priced 334. In the future my views may change but, from yesterday's short session, that is where I am now.


So.. after more than an hour with various Fitears, I asked to hear the PF X, choosing the X-CC instead of the X-G. (Yes, the latter exists!) I thought that my day was getting interesting but I had no idea the turn that it was about to take. When I bought the PF IX, I was warned to suspend disbelief and prepare to be shocked. I braced myself, I cleared  my mind and... I wasn't shocked, I just  fell in love. I love the PF IX; let me declare this to the world. The unintended follow-on effect was that my defences were down for the PF X. I was prepared for it to have thicker mids, less bass, a bit hot from the resonance, overall much like the PF IX but more extreme. Oh yah? Bang! I took a hockey puck between the eyes. (Canadian here.)


The PF X is not at all like the PF IX. I put on St. James and there was not "less bass", there was "no bass". Well perhaps only a 70% reduction from the PF IX. The instrumentation was bizarre. Percussion faded in and out. It just plain did not work. But....oddly... I was inspired. I made my most creative decision of the day and put on Good Love is on the Way by John Mayer Trio. This is one of the most poorly produced live albums in my collection (which is strange since it is only a few years old). It has horrible bloated bass and everything is boomy and unclean. On the PF X it was very very interesting, completely wrong but a lot of fun. The bass faded into the background; Steve Jordan's drums tapped quite unrealistically up at the ceiling, with an occassional completely disjointed and barely audible cymbal crash way off to the left and right; John Mayer's vocals were this huge bubble above my head and his guitar wailed calmly behind and below it. I really liked it. And that is not the right music to listen to with the PF X.


I then decided to give the PF X a fair shake and switched to some acoustic guitar music. Pause for dramatic effect. it is unbelievable. This headphone renders acoustic guitar and piano in a manner that defies description. MuppetFace talked of 'thick as syrup'. I like that description. I will simply say Godhead. It transcends mere audio and enters divinity.


However this headphone is insane. I put on If I Had a Hammer by Peter, Paul and Mary. This is the sweetest, least offensive song ever written. This is kumbaya, music for zoos to nurse orphaned pandas to sleep, a song that even the cheapest earbud cannot ruin. It is actually quite fascinating on the PF IX because Paul's vocals are in the left ear, Peter's in the right and Mary's above the head. Paul usually fades into the harmony but on the PF IX his vocals are as clear and distinct as a bell wringing beside your ear. It sounds especially fabulous but this song always sounds fabulous. Rock me to sleep, sweet P,P&M.


If I Had a Hammer is unlistenable on the PF X. It screeches like a cheap 1960s transistor radio. As I see it, the resonance on the harmonies create some kind of wave interference. I now understand what shigzeo meant when he described the 1601SC as too hot. With the wrong music, the PF X can be a dentist drill to the brain. Terrible headphone, eh? Except that I then put on Keith Jarret's Koln Concert. The jaw just drops. On the sixth day God said screw the animals, I shall bring forth piano. This headphone is also the doorway to rapture.


So I quickly started to guess at what would and wouldn't work. Gentle Giant's Runaway from In A Glass House, one of the greatest complex compositions of Prog Rock: wrong, wrong, wrong. But switch to The River off the previous album Octopus (my avatar), a song with rich compelling mids: oh, that's very nice. Most fascinating was listening to Eva Cassidy. The PF X is not a great vocal headphone but if you stay away from harmonies, it's not bad at all. Eva's vocals, so exquisite on the FI-BA-SS, and rich on the TG334 have a paper flower like quality on the PF X, delicate and fragile as if a breeze might blow through them. But poor Eva, I don't think that she has ever before been upstaged by her acoustic guitar but on Time After Time with the PF X, that is exactly what happened. Her acoustic guitar grips the soul. It is a great listen.


I decided to push the envelope and put on Supper's Ready by Genesis. That's pretty wierd but it's also quite nice. 12-string guitars! (I never did get to Apocalypse in 9/8s though...) At this point I am thinking that I am liking the PF X too much. That's not a good thing because current cash flow puts it out of my reach. So I did the obvious thing to exit with my dignity and wallet in tact: I put on The Sloop John B by the Beachboys. I was confident that it would suck and it did not disappoint. Choose your metaphor: screechy 1960s Japanese transistor radio, dentist drill into the temples; if it involves pain, you probably are in the right zone. It was awful. I handed the PF X back to Jaben.


So I think that I figured the PF X out. It is a weird-ass stupid headphone. But it is an idiot savante, capable of ruining the simplest sweet song while elevating other music to Godhead. I don't doubt that there is alchemy in that chrome copper alloy, and probably some toad's wart in the witchcraft from whence it belched forth. MuppetFace, I agree with your many descriptions of the PF X (which I gratefully collected long ago with others in OneNote) but I diagree with one statement. You said (refering also to the PF X): "The Piano Forte IX is the more balanced of the two, so it's marginally more versatile." In my view, the PF IX is extremely more versatile. The PF IX is currently my favorite headphone, the one that I would take to a desert island if I could only have one (assuming that I could escape the sound of seagulls and waves). I could not choose the PF X for that role, not unless I was willing to throw away a huge part of my music collection.


I don't want to hear it again. As I see it, the PF X is to be explored slowly and with a mind of zen-like calm. There is so much to be experienced and she is not to be wasted on track skipping at Jaben. One thing that has resulted from yesterday's session is that I have gone from 'perhaps, maybe even likely' to buy the PF X to 'all-but-certain'. This belongs in my life at some point. I can wait.


Sorry for the stream of consciousness and the non-efforts at editing and correcting typos. Jaben awaits. I want to get this off my chest and out.

post #437 of 7179

Nice. It's nice to hear unfiltered thoughts for a change. They may possibly be paradoxical at times, but that's almost the magic of writing this way --- you unload absolutely everything.


In other news, the Heaven VI has officially been announced.

post #438 of 7179


Originally Posted by tomscy2000 View Post

Nice. It's nice to hear unfiltered thoughts for a change. They may possibly be paradoxical at times, but that's almost the magic of writing this way --- you unload absolutely everything.


In other news, the Heaven VI has officially been announced.


Thanks, i am glad that you accept it for what it is.


Interesting news on the VI. If they keep the price down and add compelling mids, it could be a player.

post #439 of 7179
Originally Posted by cooperpwc View Post  Thanks, i am glad that you accept it for what it is.


Yep. I actually agree with most of your assessments, even for the FI-BA-SS; I do think it's a matter of personal preference, however. Something like the 334 is infinitely more recommendable to more people. In fact, I dare say that the 334 is probably the most recommendable high end IEM, over the K3003 as well (jury hasn't even been sequestered for the IE800). For me, there's still a subjective, emotional component to my picking the FI-BA-SS over other phones. I won't be buying a 334 (unless it's being offered to me for pennies, heh) and yet, I have an SS.


As for the IX and the X, the IX is definitely a lot more versatile. The X is the ultimate drama queen.

post #440 of 7179

they have actually quite a full range product, from USD 56 until USD2000, pretty amazing.
we shall see Heaven II coming out soon according to their catalogue.

post #441 of 7179
Originally Posted by tomscy2000 View Post
The X is the ultimate drama queen.


Which is why she's my favorite.

post #442 of 7179
Originally Posted by cooperpwc View Post

Music, I did hear the FI-BA-SS.


Okay, I am going to post impressions while my thoughts are fresh...


Wow, that's some impressions!

You know what, I know 9 out of 10 (or possibly 99 out of 100!) people would take the TG334 over the FI-BA-SS. I'm not 100% sure myself, but I think I might take the FI-BA-SS myself if I had to choose between the two.

On the music front, I think Eva Cassidy's got to be one of the best female singers I've ever heard. Also, Foxtrot is one of my favourite albums.

Edited by music_4321 - 9/20/12 at 2:11am
post #443 of 7179
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

Wow, that's some impressions!


x2, great read.

post #444 of 7179
@cooperpwc, very enjoyable read! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
post #445 of 7179
Thanks, guys. I appreciate the kind words.
post #446 of 7179
Well Paul. This makes a change! Your thoughts usually end up with me emptying my bank account all be it with a big smile! This time I can keep my pennies safe! I really fascinating read and I very much enjoyed the 'in-the-moment' style of appraisal.

I was toying with the SS but between what you and music have said I think I won't, not because they are not worth it but I simply don't think they will offer a substantial enough difference over my Heavens and I have become so smitten with the Piano Forte's I find it so hard to listen to anything else. If that means I only listen in quiet places and so reduce my music listening (well deep listening where I engage with the performance fully) then so be it! I seem to have immediately got used to listening to internet radio via my ipad in coffee shops whilst I write and it seems to be more beneficial as I can explore different genres of music that I would not have before and thus go buy more CD,s and listen to them on my main set up.

What I find the most remarkable is that with the heaven series the differences in body material offer slight differences in sonic terms but with the PF series it appears to be a substantial difference. I wonder what the XG sounds like in comparison, one would think not a lot but it seems the difference has a marked effect on the sound of these.

I re-ripped my Leonard Cohen live in London CD yesterday to Wav. Sat back and listened last night. Not only have I heard the CD hundreds of times I was at one of those concerts so remember the sound so well. The PF's capture the atmosphere and feeling better than anything I have heard before (and remember, this from someone who was absolutely head over heals for the LCD2's!) I went through both CD's and by the end truly felt I had been at the concert again.. I tell you, any replay equipment that can do that has got it right!
Edited by ianmedium - 9/19/12 at 7:39am
post #447 of 7179

Thanks, Ian. And I am glad that I am saving you some $3,000. The truth is that I am fascinated by the PF X and I will eventually buy it when I have a windfall. It will be an ultimate indulgence but what it does right is simply stunning. Oddly what it does wrong is part of the fun.

post #448 of 7179
Your experience has reminded me Paul of one of my clients experience with his love of Ferraris. He purchased an F430 and loved it (He has since replaced it with an Italia Spider) but it made him want to experience Ferrari to it's fullest manifestation on the road so he decided to try the Enzo.

It was an experience for him for he realized that though in terms of sheer driving experience the Enzo trounced the F430 he realized that if he just had to have one he would have the F430 (well, now the Italia!) but fortunately for him the cost is not a concern so he got the Enzo as well for those days when any other experience just will not do.

For me the choice though tempting (back to headphones here, sadly not in the Ferrari league!) is moot due to my base metal allergies and I think the experience with the IX's has really now brought me to a happy spot that I really don't feel I want to try to improve upon. No, next will be when I move back to Europe and get a speaker based system once again and boy oh boy am I thinking Audio Note now!
post #449 of 7179
music_4321, Talk Talk arrived, Thank you so much! Absolutely stunningly beautiful album, I cannot believe I have missed this one all these years! Folks, if you do not have Spirit of Eden, do yourselves a favour and go out and buy it!
post #450 of 7179

^ Well, I'm just glad I don't have to paypal you the money you spent which I'd promised to in case you were disappointed with the album.  ;)

Edited by music_4321 - 9/20/12 at 4:52am
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Final Audio Design Impressions and Discussion Thread