Flysweep’s Paradox arrived last week and I’ve spent several days with them to form some (noob to full-size) impressions. Gear used was an iPhone 5, Macbook Pro, Leckerton UHA-6s mk2 and the VentureCraft Go-Dap X.
Some additional things to be aware before said impressions:
I have zero experience with full size headphones. I’m strictly a portable enthusiast who has stayed exclusively with IEMs, both universal and custom, and perhaps due to my lack of full size experience, I just don’t think I’m getting the isolation or fit I should be getting and feel like it is slightly affecting what I'm hearing- as I'll describe later. None-the-less, the following are my abbreviated impressions.
Neutral. There are no other words, flowery or elaborate, to use on the Paradox, save this one. The one IEM I’ve heard that is comparable is the Etymotic ER-6 (not 6i), of which I no longer own but share many characteristics from memory. (For those that are not familiar with the ER-6, it is basically their Chinese outsourced version of the ER-4S - made for the sold purposes of being cheaper. The parts were cheaper, yet it was designed to sound the same, without need of added impedance or an amp. The result was an amazingly neutral IEM that practically gets swallowed in your ear, as its body is short and squat and completely opposite of the barrel shaped ER-4S.)
Basically the Paradox reminds me of the ER-6, especially from the mids through the treble - treble that is extended but never piercing or painful. While not exactly airy, it’s effortless in its extension and never gets lost in the presentation. Probably the one difference I could point to is the relative dryness I hear on the Paradox compared to my memory of the Ety; perhaps this the nature and tonality of orthos or maybe just the Fostex? In any case, the Paradox does come across to me as ever so slightly dry and mid-centric.
I do perceive a slight roll off of deeper bass and here is where I think my inexperience with full size is coming into play. I just can't seem to get the right fit to benefit deeper bass response. This was confirmed using test tones via an iOS app and this site: http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/hearing.html. In contrast, from memory, the ER-6 stayed more evenly balanced through deeper bass. If I clamp the cups with my hands closer to my ears, it definitely improves both isolation and deep bass, bringing better neutral balance down through the deeper bass (<60hz).
Most surprising, for me, was the soundstage. I guess I had an expectation bias of a larger or grander soundstage due to being full sized cans. Instead what I found was an average sized soundstage that felt neither closed in or expansive with excellent imaging and transparency.
Other than the issue I have with fit/clamping strength, I found the Paradox quite pleasing and easy to listen to. I think I've also quenched any thirst I had to get into full-size; between the added bulk and sweaty ears, I'm pretty content to stay with IEMs. LFF's review of the Frogbeats C4 sounds interesting… so many toys, so little time. Thanks for the audition time Flysweep!
The thing with the highs is NOT an ortho thing. LFF does something tricky to get the highs to sound that way. Out of the box, the highs are quite lively, definitely not dry.They are kinda bright and slightly intrusive. Kind of like a grado, actually.
I'm working hard to figure a good way to settle them down. If I could get somewhere in between the paradox and stock t50rp highs.. I'd be very happy :) He also works some other black magic by getting the paradox to sound so great closed.. when I close mine off, things get pretty wonky and the highs get even more prominent!
Edited by chrislangley4253 - 11/23/12 at 3:17pm