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Windfall loan of gear for home auditioning: Phonitor, LCD3, HE-6, T1, more...

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

First things first: This is my first post on head-fi, and I have very little idea what I'm doing.  I have a modest 256-320kbps mp3 collection across many genres, mostly classical, electronic/trance, soundtracks, 80s rock, and a bunch of other stuff.  I've spent upwards of $200 on in-ear phones to attach to various iPods over the years, because I have a somewhat coarse "garbage vs good" quality sensor.  After recently upgrading my home theater to an Aperion Verus Grand Tower setup with an SVS PB12 subwoofer, I've been blown away with how good sound can get.  Not just movies, but, like, real music.  I have my own home, but with a wife and 3 kids, listening to music at the level of immersion I desire is problematic.  Enter headphone research.

 

A week later, I'm talking with a buddy at work about this.  I consider myself a minor gear head, but he's... round the bend.  So I tell him I think I'd like to get some good headphones, maybe even a DAC and amp to go with it -- and the next week he brings in a grocery bag full of this stuff, and tells me to go have fun for a few weeks and see what I think:

 

DAC: Lavry DA11 (which I connected to my computer, running JRiver 18, via USB)

Amp: SPL Phonitor 2730B

Headphones

- Beyerdynamic T1

- Audio Technica ATH-AD2000

- Audeze LCD 3

- Hifiman HE-6

- AKG K-1000

 

(I have pictures, but this is my first post so I may not be permitted to add them yet.)

 

I've been playing around listening to stuff over the last several days, maybe 6-10 hours in total.  I thought I'd share initial impressions. I understand these are *very* initial impressions, and from what I've discerned from reading here and elsewhere, some of these headsets may not be ideal with the DAC and amplifier combination.  Though apparently the Phonitor is pretty good, so who knows?

 

I apologize in advance for my lack of mastery over the vocabulary.  I'm a newbie grappling with this stuff.  :)

 

Beyerdynamic T1.  I spent most time with this one initially.  Its primary attributes seem to be space and precise positioning.  It also seems very sensitive to the quality of the content.  The hiss and pop of some older recordings were very apparent.  There was also some sibilance (a slightly harsh "sss" sound) with some vocals.  I tried these headphones first, and they were a revelation compared to the Sennheiser PC360 I have currently attached to my computer.  I could hear so much more in my music.  For the first few days, these were the only headphones I used.  The industrial design is also unbelievably good and comfortable.

 

Audio Technica ATH-AD2000.  After the T1s, these seemed immediately weak.  The design was also not very comfortable.  I tried to give them a fair go, but I just didn't like these at all.  Tissue rejected after 15 minutes, and I've not gone back to them since.

 

Audeze LCD 3.  10 second initial impression on a live jazz album: damn, the T1's are *thin sounding* by comparison.  Full, rich, fun, pleasurable with trance and rock selections.  I went back and tried classical tracks on this and... oh.  By no means terrible, still worlds better than anything else I'd known up until a few days ago, but the higher pitches seem downright muted by comparison, and much harder to locate.  The space of the T1s was brought way in, and everything seemed closer, and more intimate.  The mids and lower registers... oh, man.  So good.  Then I realized that this experience right here is why people own more than 1 headphone.  All you crazy people with whole collections suddenly seemed slightly less crazy.  Comfort-wise, these are nice -- but after even an hour of wearing them, the weight of the set was noticeable, and the cups themselves seemed less breathable as the others, resulting in slight ear fatigue.  Perhaps you get used to it, once you become a crazy headphone person.  :)

 

Hifiman HE-6.  And then I turned to these.  Now, I'm not certain of this, but I'm pretty sure that these headphones sound, to my hears, the best of the lot.  I'm honestly not sure if they're as good as the LCDs in the mids and lows (probably not), or as clear and precise in the highs as the T1s.  But it doesn't seem to me to be a case of better or worse.  Just a different design target.  It's hard to explain, but these handled all the music I threw at them well.  They offer some of the space of the T1s, but they have some of the intimacy and richness of the LCDs.

 

AKG K-1000.  These are *weird*.  The sound is very nice, I think.  But they're not very comfortable.  I think the non-cup design is screwing with my sense of what a headphone should be.  I am looking for an immersive, enveloped sense of involvement in the music, and these seem to give me some of that, while also being very, very open.  If you're looking for this, these seem pretty damn good -- but I didn't spend a lot of time with them.  They deserve more attention.  However, I am informed that they're not made new anymore, so practicalities and desire to buy something new are limiting my interest here, as well.

 

Lavry DA11.  It apparently has an adjustment feature which allows you to manipulate how wide or narrow the sound gets. I intentionally haven't messed around with this too much.  

 

SPL Phonitor.  I read very good things about this, but I have really no idea how much of what I'm hearing depends on this vs. the headphones themselves.  I read the manual a little bit, and played around with the crossover feature, and liked the results.  Seemed more like you're listening to speakers, which sounded good.  However, I spent 95% of my listening time with all features de-activated, just to keep as clear a baseline as possible for my initial experience.

 

 

So that's it so far, after a week or two of initial playing around.  My work buddy says he's got more stuff I can try out, and he thinks (based on my preferences) that I should really try a tube amp.  From my reading here, I think he's probably right, but I still don't have a good sense of how much an amp really matters.

 

Anyway, I wonder if there's anything any of you would suggest I do to further refine my impressions and make the best use of this time I have with this equipment?  If I can answer any questions, too, I'll be happy to do so.


Edited by planet - 4/7/13 at 10:56pm
post #2 of 26

WOW what a treat!!  You have one very generous co-worker.  Those K1000 (and most of the cans on that list) could benefit from more robust (or colored) amplification than the DA10 by itself.  The DA10 amp is a very neutral, uncolored solid state circuit... IMHO.

 

Thanks for the impressions and enjoy the rest of your time with them.

 

Surely your co worker must be a member here.

 

Oops I miss-read your post.  My amp commentary is directed at the DA10 not the DA11.

post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer5150 View Post

WOW what a treat!!  You have one very generous co-worker.  Those K1000 (and most of the cans on that list) could benefit from more robust (or colored) amplification than the DA10 by itself.  The DA10 amp is a very neutral, uncolored solid state circuit... IMHO.

 

Thanks for the impressions and enjoy the rest of your time with them.

 

Surely your co worker must be a member here.

 

It is a kingly treat indeed.  I'm super appreciative!  I don't know if he frequents head-fi or not, but he definitely knew about it.  :)

post #4 of 26
Welcome to head-fi! This is an awesome first post. Thanks for posting your impressions about these headphones. It is really difficult for most of us to get a listen to these and it is especially interesting to hear the reaction of someone who is new to this hobby to this high end equipment.
post #5 of 26

Where is your friend located?

post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by haejuk View Post

Welcome to head-fi! This is an awesome first post. Thanks for posting your impressions about these headphones. It is really difficult for most of us to get a listen to these and it is especially interesting to hear the reaction of someone who is new to this hobby to this high end equipment.

 

Thanks!  I'm in awe of the quality of the music, but I'm also very much aware that there's a lot going on that I either can't fully appreciate yet, or is below my threshold of being able to notice.

 

This exercise also taught me that there is no substitute at all to trying out things for yourself, at least to get a sense of which "school of sound" you enjoy.  Before I was handed this equipment, I had read a ton about the Beyerdynamic T1s and thought for sure that those would be my favorite.  But as it turns out, the idea of space is a very different thing than the experience of it.  (Not to pick on the T1s unfairly.  I think they're fantastic.  But they're not my runaway favorites, as I assumed they'd be.)


Edited by planet - 4/5/13 at 1:32pm
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfetan44 View Post

Where is your friend located?

 

Can't tell if serious or joke.  We both work in silicon valley.  :)

post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by planet View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfetan44 View Post

Where is your friend located?

 

Can't tell if serious or joke.  We both work in silicon valley.  :)

It was a jokebiggrin.gif Anyways, I'm near Silicon Valleywink.gif

post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 

One other observation of the HE-6's: they really required dialing up the output on the amplifier to get the same apparent volume.  Compared to the the other headphones (which had much more modest variances), I had to dial from about 10 o'clock to 2. 

post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by planet View Post

One other observation of the HE-6's: they really required dialing up the output on the amplifier to get the same apparent volume.  Compared to the the other headphones (which had much more modest variances), I had to dial from about 10 o'clock to 2. 

HE-6's are orthos, and very power hungry ortho's. Most recommend speaker amps for them.

post #11 of 26

Awesome first post indeed, and awesome friend who is giving you the best start in the audiodome race, first hand listenning!

I think it is really educative to listen to the best (or should I say "most expensive") stuff out there for these reasons:

 

1 - You get to know how crazy people are going to invest money in some esoteric gear, and judge if you "like" the sound of it.

 

2 - You then can gauge more precisely what you like, and what amount you are willing to invest, especially when you find a more modestly priced gear that sounds equal or better to your ears

 

3 - You save a lot of money for not spending the same amount that those crazy people who are in a subjectively wrong path in audiodome!

 

Ask your friend to lend you these headphones :

Sennheiser HD650

Hifiman HE500

post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 

Aha, I can attach photos now.  Here's the hardware...

 

 

post #13 of 26

eek.gif!

post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 

Spent about 6 more hours today neglecting children.  I realized something: when subjectively A/B comparing headphones, volume-matching is really, really important.

 

When I did that, I realized 2 things of a somewhat technical nature:

- The HE-6 and the T1 were a whole lot closer than I thought.  The "T1 is thin!" impression I had previously?  Completely unfair.  Maybe it's my poorly trained ears, or this specific setup, but at lower volumes, the T1's low-end seems to fade out faster than the mids and certainly more than the highs.  But at moderate or higher volumes, the T1 stands up to the HE-6 quite a lot better.

- Both the LCD-3 and T1 seem to react to positioning on your head a bit.  In particular, the T1 seems to have a spot where the bass fades out a bit.  Similarly, the LCD-3's spacial and positioning performance is improved if you get a little fidgety with positioning.  At least, that's how it seemed to me.  (Maybe this is common knowledge, but it surprised me a bit.)

 

Finally, though the T1 and HE-6's seem to have a bit more information in the highs, the LCD-3's are... intimate.  Seductive.  If I had to try to put my experience into visual terms with these 3 headphones right now, they would be something like this perhaps gross generalization...

 

The T1s:

 

The HE-6s:

 

The LCD-3s:

PhotoScape

 

What kind of experience are you looking for?  That's the question.

post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by planet View Post

Spent about 6 more hours today neglecting children.  I realized something: when subjectively A/B comparing headphones, volume-matching is really, really important.

 

 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

When I did that, I realized 2 things of a somewhat technical nature:

- The HE-6 and the T1 were a whole lot closer than I thought.  The "T1 is thin!" impression I had previously?  Completely unfair.  Maybe it's my poorly trained ears, or this specific setup, but at lower volumes, the T1's low-end seems to fade out faster than the mids and certainly more than the highs.  But at moderate or higher volumes, the T1 stands up to the HE-6 quite a lot better.

- Both the LCD-3 and T1 seem to react to positioning on your head a bit.  In particular, the T1 seems to have a spot where the bass fades out a bit.  Similarly, the LCD-3's spacial and positioning performance is improved if you get a little fidgety with positioning.  At least, that's how it seemed to me.  (Maybe this is common knowledge, but it surprised me a bit.)

 

Finally, though the T1 and HE-6's seem to have a bit more information in the highs, the LCD-3's are... intimate.  Seductive.  If I had to try to put my experience into visual terms with these 3 headphones right now, they would be something like this perhaps gross generalization...

 

The T1s:

 

The HE-6s:

 

The LCD-3s:

PhotoScape

 

What kind of experience are you looking for?  That's the question.

 

 

 

Yes it is, thats why a lot of people ask during comparisons(unless previously mentioned) was it volume matched. Anyways, I wish I could comment on the other stuff, but I haven't listened to any of those headphones extensively, I have listened to them. But I didn't give the HE-6 a fair time. Not a speaker amp..

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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Windfall loan of gear for home auditioning: Phonitor, LCD3, HE-6, T1, more...