I was listening to quite a bit of Ani Difranco and Tori Amos, very dynamic high-range female vocalists. It gets bright, but not so bright that it cut me in half. Good weight to the voices. As for some tenors, I don't have many, but Ben Harper gets down there and it's a very good, rich, textured voice. Tenor voices sound more realistic to me in general. High pitch voices on all headphones to me sound almost like they can't be recorded properly unless from a distance, it's like they resonate the equipment like the microphone. High pitch from a distance is fantastic. But when they do it up close, it seems to record too loud, even when I use a "dark" headphone (and speakers for that matter), but maybe I'm sensitive to that range of pitch perhaps. Tone, harmonics and resonance are all a big deal to me with vocals. I listen to primarily female vocals in all my music. Finding good recordings is actually difficult, because when I turn it up, they pierce through everything both on my speakers and headphones. Darker headphones seem to be nicer for this. So far, the HE-500 on the Emotiva handles it nicely, I'm not getting shrilled to death, but I'm not left without the emotional cry of a good female vocalist. Again, male tones seem to come across absolutely without effort, great texture and gristle, no blur, and just so realistic.
I've actually been looking at the Maverick stuff a while; was going to get their solid state amp since it was decently powerful and also had tube pre-amp. But the tube DAC they have sounds great and the price is a no-brainer. I'll pick one up I think. Any commentary on the TubeMagic from experience? Otherwise, I'm going to attempt to dig up some opinions.
Originally Posted by Biscuitz
Sounds awesome, thanks for the impressions!
I know this is always a chasing after wind, but what % improvement would you put the Emotiva over the NFB12 using the HE-500? Just curious.
How does Muse sound on this setup?
Easily in the neighborhood of 25% to 50% depending on how picky you are. But that's completely arbitrary. I can't really make a good estimate because personal preference is more at play here than actual technical 'better' measurement. If you're not picky, then may be 25% better. Why? Because of the mids, crispness, black area, and bass. It all gets better with the Emotiva. It's enough to notice, not just "I think it should so it does". If you're super picky, then you could claim "it's twice as good!" but that's not realistic. But for me, for example, I'm picky to the point where I bought two different Lyr's at different times as I went back and forth on finding a signature sound with my HE-500 that I really wanted to "stick with" for a few years. So pick the higher percentage if you're picky like that. For me, this matches up quite well, scary well, it makes a $450 Schiit stack kind of silly, as this $219 amp does better with the ortho than the Lyr did (at least to my ears). As for the NFB, well, the NFB12 is notoriously not a great amp, it's a good entry unit, but for a more refined headphone like the HE-500, it's just not enough. It has a little hole in the mids I think, seems a touch bright, and it's bass is good, but I don't think it outputs just enough power to truly be an ortho's best friend (even though at low impedance it outputs over 2~3 watts).
Originally Posted by jerg
Thanks for the writeup Mal. Looking forward to your further impressions after more extensive listening.
Could you by any chance hook up your HE400s to the same Emotiva setup and see if it has a similar effect (increase in soundstage, warmness, and bass dynamics)?
Dunno if it would be a good idea to hook the HE-400 into a speaker amp of this output nature. The HE-400 is so sensitive compared to the HE-500 & HE-6 that you probably can't adjust the volume knob at all. Just because it's a planar magnetic doesn't mean it can take all the current in the world. I'm a little wary to put the HE-400 up to a 50 watt source. Maybe a 20 watt source. It has less to do with power output for me here though, and more to do with volume adjustment. Micro-adjustment of the volume knob being the difference between silent and too loud would be a problem. I'll have to play around and see if I can keep the source output lower volume or play with a pre-amp to do that. I'll get back to you on this.