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Mid Fi [Sub $200] Grudge Match The Quest for Neutrality (LIVE) ATH AD 900X VS Dt 880 Added

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

So I have now owned... I think 6 mid fi cans, all said to have linear sound signitures and on overall impression of neutrality. Seeing as I didn't get much help [outside the obvious] I chucked a $500 paycheck into a FURRY of purchases and re sales!

 

In the end I've owned 7 headphones that fall into MY category of Mid Fi Sub $200

 

I all of my headphones used, in addition I enjoy cans on the slightly brighter side of complete neutrality 

 

Still I've decided to open up this thread to discuss what I found, with the hopes of helping others  

 

It should be noted, as well that the Dt 880 Pro 250 was the first and... guiding star for my purchases. I really enjoyed the Dt 880's presentation and have since then [and hopefully] complete'd my search for a closed headphone that can compete or compliment with it!  

 

As for pricing, I'll try to have relevant Head Fi Adds on the first page for any one interested! And In case there are no open Adds I will post links to closed add's to validate the price! That way potential buyers have some grounds for demanding a price drop on any silly sellers! 

 

Still I have owned the

Beyerdyanmic Dt 880 Pro 250 ohm

Beyerdyanmic Dt 990 Pro 250 ohm

Audio Technica ATH AD 900x [Got a sample from ATH] 

Akg K550

Audio Technica ATH A900x

Sound Magic HP 100 [Modded with w1000x Pads] 

ShurEY 840 [modded Shure 840]

 

Now as I edit the Reviews, feel free to post your own impressions and favorite cans, just make sure they are under $200, and if they are modded add some details so others can enjoy your Sub $200 masterpieces! 

 

Audio Technica AD 900x in Progress- and a Big thanks to  Mr. Doris from Audio-Technica U.S., INC for the Sample! 

 

AD900x will be compared Directly to the DT 880! Review in progress! 


Edited by Mshenay - 9/17/13 at 2:02pm
post #2 of 24
Thread Starter 

Ath AD900 Pic [want more visit mah blog] (Click to show)

 

 

Grammar Nazi's feel fre to help me work on my spelling, as it is pretty horrific >.>

 

Review Process and Template (Click to show)

HeadPhone -Price 

 

 

Pros: 

 

Cons :

 

Build [5/5]

 

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Very Sturdy

 

Specs

Semi-Open  Back Dynamic Operating Principle

600 Ohm Impedance

96 db Sensitivity

5 - 35,000k response

 

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [4.5/5]

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Price to Performance : [5/5]

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Sonic Test Process

 

Source Win 7[Foobar2000 WASAPI] -> oDac -> MonoPrice Premium Coaxial Cables -> Matrix M Stage [Lme 49990 OpAmp]

 

Headphone reference notes- I like to demo all headphones against my Beyerdynamic Dt 880, as they are a well know reference can.  Reference notes will always be in italics, and are included in the Video Reviews and Head Fi review posts.

 

Reference points, will be in bold italics.  In each of the seven reference songs I will specify what parts of the song I am listening to, to evaluate the 3 parts of the spectrum.  In addition to other aspects of the overall sound presentation.

 

           In addition, I always like details  presented in all frequances

Highs- looking for and evaluating air, nice extension and good energy and placement within sound stage

Mids- looking for and considering weight, body and tone

Bass- listening for, control, texture and punch/impact

 

 

          Sound Stage- reported after listening to all tracks

          Imaging –Track #3 and #4 are well mastered for 2D and 3D imaging

          Instrument Layering-reported after listening to all tracks

          Timbre- realism of sound, fun versus real

          Speed- ability to retain mirco-details  in ultra fast tonal shifts

Music Auditioned [All Lossless quality, tracks vary from 16 to 24bit]

 

Lisa Ekdahl [Sings Salvadore Poe] Of My Conceit {16bit 44100hrz sample}

          Vocal Jazz track,

Highs-  The upper range of the vocals and guitar notes

Mids- Lisa’s vocals, along with the lower notes on the guitar and piano

Bass- a touch of bass in the vocals and the lowest guitar  notes.

 

Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile [The Goat Rodeo Sessions ] Where’s my Bow? {16bit 44100hrz sample rate}

          This song is a new age classical composition.

Highs- upper most range of the stringed instruments, primarily of the, Viola, Violin

Mids- presented by all the stringed wood instruments

Bass- focus primarily on the Cello 

 

David Chesky- [Jazz In The New Harmonic]-Transcendental Tripping 

          New Age Jazz, Binaural  

Imaging- a binaural recording, a wonderfully real 3D presentation

Overall Balanced Sound Response  {Percussion}- looking for balance

Highs-drums, cymbals,Brass horns

Mids-Brass Horns,  upper mids of Double BassPiano 

Bass-Double Bass

 

Kenji Yamamoto-[Metroid Prime Sountrack[-Chozo Ruins {16bit 44000hrz sample} 

              Ambient Orchestral Sound Track 

Sound Stage- a very high energy and multi layered track, with so many individual pieces working together a large sound stage is crucial. In addition the tracks features a lot of fading sounds  

Balanced Frequency- The mood of the track set by the balance of frequency, any coloration takes away from the collective beauty of the track as a whole.

 

Benga [Invasion EP] Evolution {16bit 441000 hrz sample}

          Good ole Dub Step, -Will be Eq’d to determine how headphones handle eq

Highs- all about the cymbals,

Mids- Playful Brass horn like intro and outro, only notable mids

Bass- the Bass Wobble is the focus here


Metallica [Master Of Puppets] Welcome Home (Sanitarium) {16bit 44100hrz sample}

        Metal

Speed- this track features a very simple layering of instruments, but the mirco details in the guitar solo's make or break the track. 

Highs- guitar, cymbals classic metal tune, smooth sweet highs in the guitar

Mids- guitars, vocals, also looking for speed in the quick tactile hits of the guitar riffs

Bass-Bass Guitar R.I.P Cliff, only the best quality for his bass lines!

 

Matisyahu- [Live At Stubb’s]- Exaltation

          Live Reggae –listening for the little bits of extra noise that are often present in live music [detail retention]

Highs- Upper range of the guitar and the cymbals

Mids- Vocals, guitar and upper range of the Bass Guitar also taking note of the drums

Bass- all about that bass guitar and Kick Drum

 

 

Sound

           

          Sound Signature- sjfhdsjhfskjhdfjlshlfkshdjlfhsldjfhsljhflsjhdflsjdf Brighter than neutral [or what ever]

DynamicsTimbre

Speed

 

          Sound Stage:  

 

Amplification Need or Suggested

Complimentary Genre; 

 

Open Shoot Out Beyerdynamic Dt 880 vs 990 (Click to show)

Invert+Beyers.jpg

 

 

Inversion is a nice way to look at the Beyers, this powerful combo of the Fully Open Baced Dt 990 and Semi Open Dt 880 will literally turn your whole music experience inside out! Revealing details you may not have heard before, giving you as it where a whole new way to listen to and enjoy your music! 

 

 

My new Beyer Dt 880 Premium 600 ohm [Re-cabled] is here, to start off this exciting week, a quick mini review on the differences between the two headphones! 

 

 

 

The weighty mids of the Dt 990 and it's increased sound stage and clarity are nice for Classical , but the bass really takes away from vocals and guitars in reggae and jazz. The Dt 880 on the other hand having a touch less bass, allows the bass, drums, vocals and guitars to be enjoyed all together. Making it ideal for Jazz and Reggae. 


Nu Jazz songs, or songs with both Classical Jazz and Electronica elements, perform equally well on both cans! 

K550 (Click to show)

AKG K550 [Price $160 Used]

 

Test Process

 

Source Win 7[Foobar2000 WASAPI] -> oDac -> MonoPrice Premium Coaxial Cables -> Matrix M Stage [0  [w1000x Akg K550/+18 db Gain Lme 49990 OpAmp]

 

Will be compared again'st my w1000x and my Beyer Dt 990, since I intend to use this headphone as a portable, with all genres. I want to see how it does against my two "specialists" Specifically, the Dt 990 will be compared only with Classical and EDM [I got lazy and only did classical and Dub Step] genres. Songs 2 and 7.

 

As always gain and volume are adjusted for each headphone. [To ensure each has equal volume levels, despite gain.]

 

7/9 Songs are without EQ, Benga-Invasion and Kidnap Kid-Animaux  do feature an EQ added by me. This should demonstrate the ability of a headphone to handle EQ.

 

          In addition, from this review and out, italic text will contain comparisons against my reference headphones. In addition, comparative points of interest will be included in Head Fi review posts, with all Blog Posts reaming more simple and to the point!

 

Personal Back-story  

 

I recently sold my old Beyerdynamic Dt 880 Pro 250 ohms, and since then I've been in search of something that captured it's sound! I think I may have found just such a can.

 

 

Build [5/5]

 

I am impressed, the headband is metal with a nice extension feature. Nice physical feel in the hands, not as tough as the Dt 990, but not nearly as fragile as the w1000x. A solid build! Still these are composed of more plastic than metal. Yet the plastic has a nice look and finish to it!

 

Very Sturdy

 

Specs

Closed Back Dynamic Operating Principle

32 Ohm Impedance

114 db Sensitivity

32 Ohms

12-28.000k response

 

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [4/5]

People complain about the fit, and the lack of clamp force and sadly I did not experience any of this, I put them to 4 on each side slapped em on, pressed them in ever so slightly and enjoyed. I will mention that they sound DRASTICALLY changes depending on how far from the front of the pads the front of your ears are. Essentially for me, the closer the back of my ears are to the back of the pad the Thicker the lower mids are, the closer the front of my ears are to the front of the pads, the thinner the entire can sounds!

 

In addition, these cans actually isolate very well! Much more so than the w1000.

 

But still these are STILL easier to put on my head and adjust than the w1000x, yet a little more fickle than the Beyer Dt 990!

 

Sound Signature and Character

 

          Sound Stage:  A very wide sound stage, good instrument seperation.

 

The Akg K550 is fickle with it's sound stage, with vocals it really shines and widens. Not as initimate with vocals as the w1000x, yet with pianos and wood instruments it's not quiet as wide as the w1000x or the Beyer Dt 990, how ever my w1000x is Modded so it's much tighter than stock.

           

          Sound         Signature-  Easily the most neutral balanced headphone I have heard to date. The bass is tastefully tight and deep, the mids are warm and delicate, with good punch. The treble as well is smooth and very refined! Although it still retains some of the Closed Back sound.

 

K550 Song by Song [Compared to Dt 990 and w1000x (It's an older post)] [I'll replace it in time] (Click to show)

Songs

 

1 - Lisa Ekdahl _ Of My Conceit

 

A vocal jazz piece, Lisa's voice is the main focus. Yet behind her is a lovely piano and a delicate guitar strumming! The piano provides a nice upper Mid and Treble balance, while the guitar provides lower mids and some bass. Both of these elements compliment Lisa's voice. A song best on a warm neutral can, a larger sound stage is excellent with this song as well!

 

          Treble- It's nice. Great detail, yet lacking sparkle and quick decay. Air and extension are nice. Again very neutral, as I know that I honestly prefer bright cans.

 

The w1000x, is brighter, faster and has better decay in the treble. Treble on the w1000x is not quiet as smooth, but again I'm not a huge fan of overly smooth treble. I enjoy the extra dynamics of a slightly  sharper treble.

 

          Mids- The details in the vocals is excellent! There is a good balance of smooth lush sound and detailed quality!

 

Actually, the k550 have more details than the w1000x, which is slightly smoother and more enjoyable. While the w1000x retains and projects just as much detail, it's not as tight with vocals as the k550 is. Still the w1000x's more smoother intimate vocals are just as punchy and more enjoyable imo, although ever so slightly less detailed. In addition, the K550 places Lisa's voice a little farther away from me. Showing it's transparency and neutrality! Still I'm a sucker for the more intimate vocals of the w1000x. It's also important to note the Angled drivers of the w1000x really give it a slight edge.

 

          Bass- Very tight, good warmth in the bass with a nice little bit of impact.

 

Both cans handle this bass well! The Akg K550 however does it a little nicer.

 

                   Dynamics- Very nice, the left and right channels feature different instruments, and they flawlessly shift from louder to softer notes.

 

These two cans handle dynamics very similarly! Both do a great job!

 

2-  Anne Gastinel & Francois-Frederic Guy Sonata for Cello & Piano No. 2 in G minor, Op. 5

 

Classical track features heavy focus on mids with sparkles of lower treble and the balance between the Cello and Piano!. Another song benefitting from a larger sound stage and a well balanced head phone. The bass of the cello accentuates nicely against the Piano.  Both having deep beautifully lush tones. Air and extension make this piece come alive and lack of it, can kill the mood entirely! Then entire audible spectrum is equally beautiful through the entire song!

 

          T- The treble is very smooth, well defined and good clarity and details Truly the treble is very neutral! Yet it's still retains beauty and flawless detail.   

 

Not as smooth airy and well extended as the Dt 990,  in addition the is not as airy  and bright as the w1000x

          M- Nice tone, this is an extremely mid heavy piece, the piano and upper mids are flawless. Decay is good, yet could be a little quicker.

 

Again, the w1000x has the better mids a little more lush  yet also punchier than the K550. Slightly, more sound stage and clarity on the w1000x as well..  Still the Dt 990, remains the Classical King, with more delicate, detailed and well extended mids. Not to mention more sound stage! Non the less, honestly even with the slight, lack of refinement. The k550 does a wonderful job with classical!

 

          B- Very tight and well placed, the bass never impedes on the delicate mids!

 

All three do the bass equally well, each with a delicate touch of the cellos bass every time it's needed, stll the w1000x and Dt 990 are just ever so slightly tighter, with that lower mids bass combo punch!

                  

Dyna-Really wonderful. Very quick, no sluggish change in dynamics at all.  

 

3. Yoshida Brothers -Love

 

The two brothers are performers of the traditional Japanese music style of Tsugaru-jamisen which originated in northern Japan. They debuted in 1999 in Japan as a duo playing the shamisen, and it remains a main instrument. In addition to traditional Japanese percussion, this track features a very gusto male shout. What sounds like a verbal battle cry, is over top the delicate shamisen. The punchy yet warm mids of the male vocals pair well with the light upper mids and treble of the Shamisen.

 

          T- Shamisen has a great tight snap to it, good smooth extension to those higher notes!  

          M- The mids of the Shamisens are, just as lovely and gentle as they should be. Quick on their feet, and with a deadly accurate attack. The mood of the song is capture nicely in the mids. The male vocals are actually wonderful! Not too deep, but warm enough with power. A good balance of warmth and power.

 

The w1000x has more Gusto, more body in the mae vocals, making them a little less punchy but more powerful,  Honestly, both do These male vocals really well, both have a good balance of power, punch and warmth. With a little more warmth and power on the w1000x, with the K550 maintaining  the same power and a little more punch over warmth. Also the Shamisen, has a better attack on the w1000x. Due to a little more weight in the mids, where as the K550 has a nice snap to it, a little lighter but just as quick as the w1000x. Still the K550, lacks that mystic woody tone in the Shamisen.

 

          B- The bass is very super tight. More percussion than an actual bass line, non the less what's there is well represented by the K550.

 

w1000x, does equally as well considering how little bass there is in the track.

 

                   Dyna- Amazing as always. This can is proving just as light on it's feet as my others!

 

4 Kidnap Kid- Animaux

 

A nice Vocal DnB Tune. A really demanding tune, as the mids and bass over overly overtop another. The sound is very... wonderful! The beauty of the mids right atop deep tight bass, followed by drops of nice punchy vocals. Best of all, the pesky 150hrz makes a return in this tune for a lovely meaty support for those mids. The layering and texture of the bass is, something I'm still not used to! I feel a little spoiled each time I hear it!

 

          T- Good energy and balance on the mids. Smooth and pleasant, in no way drowned out or invasive of the rest of the frequency.

 

The highs are equally enjoyable on both cans. Not much to say about them really. Both maintain good energy and relative placement of the highs.

 

          M- The mids have nice body, but still lack a little in weight. Yet they remain playful and smooth. Over top the bass line, the warm mids work well with the deeper more impactful tight bass.

 

Again the w1000x maintains more mid warmth body and weight, the track as a whole is more intimate, yet the increased sound stage of the w1000x [again mine is modded] keeps the separation of mids and bass clean. It should be noted though, that with EQ the w1000x get's a little smudged in it's mids,. where as the K550 does not. The K550 also lacks some of the imaging of the w1000x. The sound is a touch more forward, yet not as intimate. .

 

          B- Bass is wonderful, this being a more laid back tune the bass line stays nice and tight, while still having impeccable weight and body.

 

Being that this is a DnB song, I do prefer to eq my DnB. Using FooBar a +4 @110hrz and -4 @156hrz gives the bass a little more body while not removing any weight and still remaining tight!

 

Immediately the w1000x displays a bass with slightly less control and more body. Using the same Eq setting drowns  up the mids ever so slightly on the w1000x.  The k550 displays a little more clarity when eq'd over the w1000x, yet the w1000x has full bodied weighty mids along with a punchy yet laid back bass [it matches the mood of the song very well]. Ultimately, it seems the K550 needs to be eq'd to have the more laid back and intimate sound that pairs so well with this Drum n Bass tune!  Yet Some may prefer the Tighter less intimate presentation of the K550 over the equally clear but more intimate presentation of the w1000x in this DnB tune.

 

                   Dyna- Dynamics are smooth, the neutral sound aids in a clean shift in the dynamics of the tune!

 

The w1000x is has a touch faster dynamics, or rather the increased attack in the mids leads to a better dynamic shift, as both cans have equal mid decay. Both cans handle the bass and highs exceptional well!

 

5- Dai Qing Tana & HAYA Band- Missing You

 

Beautiful Mongolian vocals, and a world music sound that breaches more than just Asian styles. This track features a lovely guitar to your left, a cello to your right with Dai Qings delicate yet warm deep lyrics right in the middle. A perfect tonal balance is ideal for this track, as it's simplicity does not allow for any distraction from the overall mood of the song as a whole!

 

          T- This song has a VERY thick and warm bottom end sound, that being said the bright energy of the guitar is never lost in the mid warmth. The highs prove to be well defined without being bright! 

 

Actually, the highs in this song some times get a little lost in the upper mids, seeing as the guitar is only peaking at about 2.3 2.4k hrz these are the lower most highs, and for these lower treble, the K550 keep a slightly better serration between them and the upper mids. Yet the w1000x is brighter by a touch though. Both are very pleasant with these low treble notes, in addition the w1000x has a little more attack on the notes as well.

 

          M- The powerful lower mids from the guitar have nice body to them, and sufficient weight,  a real master of balance, the Akg K550 clearly defines it's upper and lower mids. Each having nice body and a little bit of weight.  The upper most mids [also lower treble] maintain good presence despite the powerful lower mids and beautiful airy weight and body of Dai Quing Tana's voice. The deatils in the vocals are wonderful  Her voice remains the focal point, with a lush body and just a touch of weight. Which suits her airy voice very well! The Cello in the right channel as well has a lovely tone to it, good body but it could use a little more weight.

 

The w1000x also adds an intimacy to the vocals that the K550 does not, yet both do a good job with this mid heavy track. Still the w1000x has a little more sound stage, thus the weighty sounds remain intimate and yet well spaced. Not to mention there is the beautiful tone of the woody mids on the w1000x. Where in which the Cello really shines.

 

 

          B- The bass is as always, well controlled on the K550, yet the more controlled less full bodied bass does take away from the Cello's beautiful weight. Non the less the Cellos retains it's lovely body on the tighter bass notes!

 

It should be noted these Bass Notes, are in conjunction with the lower mids very much in this track. As the Guitar and cello each have a sense of Mid and Bass in their lower notes due to nature of the instrument.

 

Here both cans do really well, where the K550 lacks weight it does a little better job of retaining a clear sense of body. Where the w1000x adds weight, the body get's a little too much decay. Again these are for the very lowest notes on the bass and cello respectively. The we1000x still has a touch to much bass decay, especially when compared to the more neutral K550.

 

                   Dyna- The K550 as always does a great job with it's dynamic shifts, the Cello especially fades in and out of the track often!   Always coming into focus nicely, and exiting cleanly.

 

 Still though, the extra decay in the bass of this track especially take away slightly from the dynamic quickness of the w1000x. So for a track like this, with multiple heavy mid presence, the K550 remains a little more dynamic than the slightly mid focused w1000x.

 

6- 3nd_ Algorythm       

 

Great tune from a Japanese Rock band, wonderful energy and great layering. A nice high energy rock tune. The kick of the drums and the clash of the cymbals, combined with sweet guitar mids and a mellow bass line. The bass in particular shifts a lot, the skilled bassists really shows off from time to time, combined with dual guitar tracks. Balance is a great benefit, as is a good sound stage to this song.

 

          T- The symbols and upper range of the guitar are nicely presented by the k550.  The drums especially have great energy on them!  

 

The slightly brighter w1000x however is a little more pleasant. The additional sound stage really brings adds  enjoyment to the brighter and airier treble.  In addition to an slightly bigger sound stage and a little better 3D imaging. [But again my w1000x is modded]

 

          M- The K550 does rock very well, everything is well placed and the decay is excellent throughout. The mids retain great body.

 

Tough battle here, the w1000x is magic for rock. The big sound stage and excellent separation pair excellently with the forward mids. There is an warm high energy to the w1000x in rock that the k550 doesn't quiet have  Yet the K550 has a touch more detail due to it's less forward mids! There are in fact 3 guitars in this track, one to your left right and center! The K550 and w1000x both do a great job to balance these out! Still in the end, the combinations of forward punchy mids and bigger sound stage leave the w1000x more engaging! Still both are equal in clarity and detail, with the k550 being not quite as fun  seeing as it lacks some of the aggressive attack [and sound stage] of the w1000x.

 

          B- Bass, the k550s best feature. The bass line in this rock track has such great texture placement!

 

Ahh bass, the w1000x one shortcoming, this is not an aggressive bass line. It's very clean and punchy but still a strong bass line. The w1000x adds a little to much attack and decay to the bass. which is nice yet it losses a little bit of the texture because of this. Granted I've modded A LOT of the decay out of the w1000x bass, but it's still no match for the k550 very neutral bass!    

 

                   Dyna- The k550 does a great job as always, it's slightly less aggressive attack and always quick decay make it nice with the rock dynamics.

 

Again both do a good job, but I give dynamics to the K550 for it's tighter bass line. The bass on the w1000x still has a touch to much decay to be as quick with dynamics in rock as the k550. Yet where the w1000x lacks in it's bass decay, it makes up for with quick dynamics in it's punchy forward mids. [Having both excellent attack and decay on those mids] Where as the k550 does not have the attack of the w1000x, which for rock is a little missed.

 

7-  Benga- Evolution  

 

A lovely mid intro, builds to a very aggressive and tight drop. While the mids are an excellent addition to this song, the cymbals and bass are the focus here! Aggression is key in this track, the tighter and deeper the better. The faster and punchier the more enjoyable!

 

I will admit, I do enjoy my Dub Step eq'd ever so slightly. That being said, I do use the same modest eq for both cans. A +1 boost at 55hrz leading to a +4 boost to 110hz, followed by a -6 decrease at 156hz following a slight incline to +2 at 1.2k hz then back to +_0 I prefer the mids boosted a pinch, and that pesky 156hrz when removed or eq'd out bring a VERY tight bass line to any track, As this frequency is a VERY meaty upper Bass... that said I remove it as it lacks deep impact or TIGHT punch imo.

 

          T- Treble is accurate and neutral with the K550, although the often lush mids of this tune drown out the treble a touch. Some brightness is nice for DubStep.

 

About the same, both have great treble detail, the Dt 990 has a little more air and extends nicer. Quicker on the decay as well. With EdM the brigher treble of the W1000x and Dt 990 are preferred.

 

          M- Mids are a strong point in this Dub Step tube for the K550. The slight touch of weight and nice full body are great again'st that DEEP bass line!

Mids are lusher on the w1000x, but a little too weighty and lush. On the Dt 990 the punchier nature of the mids cut's against that deep bass a little more pleasantly! Like the Dt 990, the K550's nicely bodied [but neutral] mids are a better contrast to the bass!

 

          B- Great tight bass. A perfect balance of attack and decay.

 

The Dt 990 and k550 both have a nice tight bass. Although the Dt 990 just has more bass to it! The open back design allows all of that BASS to stay nice tight and super aggressive. Where as the k550 while equally as tight, lacks sheer bass quantity when compared to the Dt 990. The w1000x doesn't even need to be mentioned,  as this track is best with a TIGHT bass line. While having more bass than the k550 it's not tight enough and has to much decay. Still enjoyable though.

 

                   Dyna-  Excellent, good fast shifts!

 

What... Dub Step song with Dynamics... you mean other than... BASS no BASS... just kidding. Seriously though, the song has nice dynamic shifts, and the massive bass stays tight and decays faster through these shifts on the DT 990. An as always the w1000x is a little slower with it's bass decay. K550 is as always nice and quick with it's bass.

 

Should be noted, the Dt 990 and K550 struggles a little bit with deeper acoustic bass notes. The w1000x is a little more natural with wooden instrument bass, than is the Dt 990 or k550. The extra decay of the w1000x bass is a big part in that, as woody bass has more decay than does synthetic or metallic bass.

 

 

8- Lenny White, Jamey Haddad, Mark Sherman -Seven [Binarual Recording] From _ (Explorations In Space and Time)

 

A percussion trio, this binarual recording has only one thing that makes it wonderful... imaging. The Width and depth of the recording is really wonderful, not to mention the dynamics of the track as a whole. A headphones Sound Stage, width and height are very important. However too wide a sound stage and the 3D imaging can get a little veiled.

 

          T-  Good energy in the drums and cymbals, but the lack of brightness and attack is a little missed.

 

Cymbal are wonderfully airy, great energy and the linear space is good, the 3D position, imaging how ever is not as nice as the w1000x.

         

          M- Good body on the drums, yet they lack a weighty tightness. Still very solid and enjoyable. Not to mention the placement in this track is not as 3D as one would like with the k550

 

w1000x added sound stage and over all forward and punchy mids are nice with this percusion tune. The 3D imaging is better as well, yet the K550 is still very enjoyable!

          B- Nice and tight, very pleasant!

 

Can't complain much here, both do a nice job with the drums bass

 

                   Dynamics- once again, pleasantly tight and quick.

Both cans do a nice job with dynamics

 

9 The Modern Jazz Quartet- Reunion Blues

 

A lovely classic jazz piece, what makes this such a great tune is the  balance of each instrument, as well as the placement of each in the sound stage. This song... is spilt literally into left and right. A soft Piano and Percy Heath's Double Bass to your right, with the drums and cymbals to your left, Also in the left channel is a magically warm and lush Xylophone! Best of all despite extreme stereophonic sound, the track as a whole is very balanced and incredibly enjoyable! Here a wider sound stage takes heed over a tall one.

 

          T- Lovely, cymbals have good extension and fabulous air.

 

But not as airy as the w1000x.

          M- the upper mids are excellent, as are the lower mids! The piano and Xylophone work together for a wonderful mid core!

 

Proving jack of all and master of none, the K550 is nice with jazz. Great balance but it again lacks the energy and airy brightness of the w1000x

          B- Excellent, tight,

 

Yet again the 3D imaging shows to be a little weaker than the w1000x, and the bass is a little too fast for the Double Bass, the lack of attack and extra decay do take away from the joy of the double bass in this jazz number!

 

 

Sound [4/5]

 

Treble [3.8/5]- Very neutral, which isn't always my cup of tea. I miss the energy of slightly brighter cans. Not to mention the lack of air.

 

Mids [4.2/5]- A beautiful tone to mids, with the right mix of body and a touch of weight to be enjoyed with all kinds of music.

 

Bass [5/5] - Excellent bass all the time.               

 

Conclusion- For $190 new and around $150, it's one of my favorite all time closed cans! Great sound for almost all kinds of music and the bass lovers will enjoy it with everything! Good dynamics and fantastic build quality. A must have for any one getting into Audio Phila!

Beyerdynamic Dt 880 (Click to show)

Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium 600ohm (With ZXAC Fully Balanced Recable) [$235 Used]

 

Personal Back-Story  

 

I recently re-purchased my Beyerydanmic Dt 880’s back! And this time I made the upgrade to the 600 ohm variant.

 

 

Pros: Airy sound, delicate mids, speed, sense of openness, sound stage and layering. Timbre

 

Cons : no isolation,  bright [I like bright cans but some don’t] lacks intimacy, bass for some may not be heavy enough

 

Build [5/5]

 

Classic Beyerdynamic Build quality, although these are a tad more fragile than my pro series headphones, the adjustment device is located outside of the head band, as opposed to the pro series which feature the extension mechanism within the head band. In addition the head band itself is not as well padded. The headphones are very well built and comfy like the pro series.

 

Very Sturdy

 

Specs

Semi-Open  Back Dynamic Operating Principle

600 Ohm Impedance

96 db Sensitivity

5 - 35,000k response

 

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [4.5/5]

Simple and to the point, extend the head band and slap em on! There is no isolation due to the semi open back design, and the fit is very simple and straight forward. Despite being the Premium Model, it’s almost as comfy at the Dt 990 Pro, yet the DT 990 Pro is still my most comfortable headphone!

 

Price to Performance : [5/5]

          Top notch, versatile enough to handle any genre, and tough as nails.

 

Complimentary Genre: Jazz

 

Sonic Test Process

 

Source Win 7[Foobar2000 WASAPI] -> oDac -> MonoPrice Premium Coaxial Cables -> Matrix M Stage [Lme 49990 OpAmp]

 

Headphone reference notes- I like to demo all headphones against my Beyerdynamic Dt 880, as they are a well know reference can.  Reference notes will always be in italics, and are included in the Video Reviews and Head Fi review posts.

 

Reference points, will be in bold italics.  In each of the seven reference songs I will specify what parts of the song I am listening to, to evaluate the 3 parts of the spectrum.  In addition to other aspects of the overall sound presentation.

 

           In addition, I always like details  presented in all frequances

Highs- looking for and evaluating air, nice extension and good energy and placement within sound stage

Mids- looking for and considering weight, body and tone

Bass- listening for, control, texture and punch/impact

 

 

          Sound Stage- reported after listening to all tracks

          Imaging –Track #3 and #4 are well mastered for 2D and 3D imaging

          Instrument Layering-reported after listening to all tracks

          Timbre- realism of sound, fun versus real

          Speed- ability to retain mirco-details  in ultra fast tonal shifts

Music Auditioned [All Lossless quality, tracks vary from 16 to 24bit]

 

Lisa Ekdahl [Sings Salvadore Poe] Of My Conceit {16bit 44100hrz sample}

          Vocal Jazz track,

Highs-  The upper range of the vocals and guitar notes

Mids- Lisa’s vocals, along with the lower notes on the guitar and piano

Bass- a touch of bass in the vocals and the lowest guitar  notes.

 

Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile [The Goat Rodeo Sessions ] Where’s my Bow? {16bit 44100hrz sample rate}

          This song is a new age classical composition.

Highs- upper most range of the stringed instruments, primarily of the, Viola, Violin

Mids- presented by all the stringed wood instruments

Bass- focus primarily on the Cello 

 

David Chesky- [Jazz In The New Harmonic]-Transcendental Tripping 

          New Age Jazz, Binaural  

Imaging- a binaural recording, a wonderfully real 3D presentation

Overall Balanced Sound Response  {Percussion}- looking for balance

Highs-drums, cymbals,Brass horns

Mids-Brass Horns,  upper mids of Double BassPiano 

Bass-Double Bass

 

Kenji Yamamoto-[Metroid Prime Sountrack[-Chozo Ruins {16bit 44000hrz sample} 

              Ambient Orchestral Sound Track 

Sound Stage- a very high energy and multi layered track, with so many individual pieces working together a large sound stage is crucial. In addition the tracks features a lot of fading sounds  

Balanced Frequency- The mood of the track set by the balance of frequency, any coloration takes away from the collective beauty of the track as a whole.

 

Benga [Invasion EP] Evolution {16bit 441000 hrz sample}

          Good ole Dub Step, -Will be Eq’d to determine how headphones handle eq

Highs- all about the cymbals,

Mids- Playful Brass horn like intro and outro, only notable mids

Bass- the Bass Wobble is the focus here


Metallica [Master Of Puppets] Welcome Home (Sanitarium) {16bit 44100hrz sample}

        Metal

Speed- this track features a very simple layering of instruments, but the mirco details in the guitar solo's make or break the track. 

Highs- guitar, cymbals classic metal tune, smooth sweet highs in the guitar

Mids- guitars, vocals, also looking for speed in the quick tactile hits of the guitar riffs

Bass-Bass Guitar R.I.P Cliff, only the best quality for his bass lines!

 

Matisyahu- [Live At Stubb’s]- Exaltation

          Live Reggae –listening for the little bits of extra noise that are often present in live music [detail retention]

Highs- Upper range of the guitar and the cymbals

Mids- Vocals, guitar and upper range of the Bass Guitar also taking note of the drums

Bass- all about that bass guitar and Kick Drum

 

 

Sound

           

          Sound Signature- Very clean, a slight tilt towards the upper mids and treble, although the headphone features a lower mid resonance which adds a nice touch of body to the lower mids and upper bass.  The headphone is also very quick, and light on its’ feet.  Over all an incredibly balanced and airy sound, filled with many details and excellent 2D and 3D sound stage.  Brighter than neutral

 

Dynamics- quick and effortless

Timbre- very real,  mids are life like, treble how ever may be slightly brighter than natural but is not fake or exaggerated

Speed- very quick, shows quickness with all genres

 

          Sound Stage:  A  wide sound stage, great instrument separation, and good 3D  and 2D placement of instruments.

 

Amplification Need or Suggested –for the Beyerdynamic Dt 880 Premium an amp is required, as a 600 ohm headphone it requires an amp with a large voltage swing, OTL tubes pair nicely with the  Dt 880 600 Ohm 

 

Song by Song (Click to show)

Songs

 

Lisa Ekdahl _ Of My Conceit

          Vocal Jazz

 

          Highs-  The airy nature of Lisa’s voice is well maintained, the extra touch of treble and air from the Beyer adds a nice intimacy to her voice, almost as if she’s whispering in your ear 

          Mids- Very airy, tone is nice good body, very delicate weight as well.  While the airy treble is intimate, the mids are very neutral and linear. Not extra weight or body at all.

          Bass- Perfect, wonderful timbre, good tactile nature.  

 

Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile [The Goat Rodeo Sessions ] Where’s my Bow? {16bit 44100hrz sample rate}

New age classical composition.

 

Highs- The violins are very playful, there is a lovely bright and airy nature to the Dt 880,  detail retention is top notch. I can hear the separate notes of the two violins. One to my right the other to my left.

 

Mids- Very lovely, the timbre is excellent, just the right amounts of body and weight, the tone is nice as well very natural. The upper mids have a nice sweetness to them as well, very lovely!

 

Bass- Bass is wonderful; the Cello has an excellent and very solid weight to it, a nice delicate impact on every low note. Once again good timbre.   

 

 

David Chesky- [Jazz In The New Harmonic]-Transcendental Tripping 

          New Age Jazz, Binaural  

 

Highs-Excellent, airy and the upper most notes of the Trumpet are well detailed, maintain a nice edge, yet are not metallic or sibilant. In addition the sound stage is perfect, the drums are audibly behind and to the right in the sound stage. The imaging is top notch! The Drums have a nice snap, to them. Again, airy, crisp neither recessed nor overly forward.

 

Mids-Just plain sexy, the mids are excellent, the Tenor sax just has a fantastic timbre to it, very real. Perfect balanced and weight, in addition it’s easily located to the slight right of center, with the Trumpet on the slight left of center. David Chesky him self is on Piano located a tad behind the Tenor Sax, and again the tone of the piano is great.  The individual strings that compose the unified sound are easily identified singularly, yet enjoyed just as easily as a whole.

 

Bass-Lovely tone, great solidity and impact on the Double Bass notes, and the placement is slightly behind the Trumpet and adjacent to the piano, again the imaging is excellent. The details and texture in the bass are nice as well, you can hear the string vibrating against the wood as the Bassist changes notes.

 

 Kenji Yamamoto-[Metroid Prime Sountrack[-Chozo Ruins {16bit 44000hrz sample} 

              Ambient Orchestral Sound Track 

Going to only speak of Sound Stage and Balance for this track

 

Sound Stage- The sound stage and frequency response work well together, the layering is lovely. There are sounds every where, front and center, left of center, slightly behind center, to the rear and right of center, and to the left rear of center. There are also well placed and airy… echoing high and low notes. The track is for  valley, the echo noises add depth to the sound, in addition at the top of the sound stage is… what sounds like wind. Again the layering of this track on the Beyer Dt 880 is perfect… the highs are slightly placed behind everything in the track, and despite being a “bright” can the treble do not lose there place in the sound stage. In addition… the Dt 880 maintains a nice air in between all the instruments, separation is good. Although the track is also recorded a little narrowly… while the narrow sound of the valley is maintained, the Dt 880 never create a cramp or overly busy sonic presentation; everything is placed just right within the sound stage. 

 

Balanced Frequency- Just right for my tastes, the balance has a gentle tilt to lower treble, which for this track is mainly percussion, which is sonically behind the other sounds, there are also some echoing high notes, the air of the DT 880  gives them such a realistic timbre and presentation.  There are echoing low notes throughout the track, they are easily followed without being presented in a forward manner, adding to the ambiance of the track, lastly the mids are front and center. A gentle piano plays keeps a steady tune  in the mid center, a top of it a stringed instrument that shifts from left to right of center. Again the balance is perfect. Every individual piece works together.

                   Using an eq, really messes this track up, the bass is too forward, removing depth from the track. The gentle piano is lost, and the vocal sweeps are over powering.  [Eq setting explained in another article found here]

 

 

Benga [Invasion EP] Evolution {16bit 441000 hrz sample}

          Good ole Dub Step, -Will be Eq’d to determine how headphones handle eq

Highs- Cymbals have good air, the mids and bass tend to over power them in this track… thankfully The slightly bright Dt 880 prevents that! Nice energy on the highs

Mids- Nice tone to the mids, the E Piano maintains a playful weight and a nice body, In addition the crunch of the mids in the Wobble has a nice tactility and weight

Bass- DEEP and TIGHT, I do recommend you eq a little sub bass into the Dt 880 to enjoy Dub Step, as it helps bring a little more aggression and fun into the bass. But Either way it remains well textured with nice deep tight impact.

 

Metallica [Master Of Puppets] Welcome Home (Sanitarium) {16bit 44100hrz sample}

        Metal

Speed- this track features a very simple layering of instruments, but the mirco details in the guitar solo's make or break the track. 

Highs- Nice, great sense of air in the highs. In addition a sweet notes with the upper guitar riffs,. The cymbals also have a nice sense of energy to them, very crisp.

Mids- Electric Guitars since nicely, delicate nature of the mids retains all the speed of the guitar solos.  The vocals are also very nice, James voice has a good balance of warm tone, and crunch in it. The distorted guitar riffs as well have a good balance of crunch and mid weight to them.

Bass- Nice bass, I miss the Bass Guitar a little, but it’s weight is always there. In addition the Kick Drum has a nice impact to it!

 

Matisyahu- [Live At Stubb’s]- Exaltation

          Live Reggae –listening for the little bits of extra noise that are often present in live music [detail retention]

 

To start, all the little extra bits of noise are there. Faint voices chime in every few seconds, and when the crowd cheers it’s nice and crisp, giving the live performance a nice LIVE feel to it! Feels like I’m in the front row!

 

Highs- Good energy and air in the cymbals, loving the crisp snap to them, sweet notes of extension on them as well.  Upper range of the guitar is also excellent. Good balance of energy and sweet tone.

Mids- … Vocals are great, Matisyahu has a nice warmth to his voice, that paired over top the attack of the guitar make for a great mid presentation. The Dt 880 retains all the weight and body of both the voice and guitar.  Additionally, when the crowd sings, there’s no congestion in the multitude of voices.

Bass- Ahh, here the bass comes alive. Punchy and yet laid back.  Good texture, the bass is right where it needs to be. At the back of the sound stage, yet it’s got body and weight that Reggaes bass lines are known for.

 

 

 

AthA900x (Click to show)

Ath A900x [$93 used]

 

Test Process

 

Source Win 7[Foobar2000 WASAPI] -> oDac -> MonoPrice Premium Coaxial Cables -> Matrix M Stage [0  [w1000x Akg K550/+18 db Gain Lme 49990 OpAmp]

 

Will be enjoyed at face, no comparisons to be made considering the price.

 

As always gain and volume are adjusted for each headphone. [To ensure each has equal volume levels, despite gain.]

 

7/9 Songs are without EQ, Benga-Invasion and Kidnap Kid-Animaux  do feature an EQ added by me. This should demonstrate the ability of a headphone to handle EQ.]

 

Personal Back-story  

 

I recently sold my old Beyerdynamic Dt 880 Pro 250 ohms, and since then I've been in search of something that captured it's sound! I think I may have found just such a can.

 

 

Build [5/5]

 

A little more plastic than I'm a fan of. But overall well built. Feel's sturdy.

 

Very Sturdy

 

Specs

Closed Back Dynamic Operating Principle

32 Ohm Impedance

100 db Sensitivity

42 Ohms

5 - 40,000k response

 

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [4/5]

The clamp is very strong, and the Wing system adjustment is seamless for my head. Very easy to put on, the sound does not change to much with fit because they really only fit on your head one way. It may be my big ears but there's only one comfortable fit for me, as opposed to the AKG K550 which slides around a little more with it's fit, changing it's sound as a result.

 

In addition, these cans actually isolate very well! Much more so than the w1000.

 

 

Sound Signature and Character

 

          Sound Stage:  A  wide sound stage, good instrument seperation. Lacking slightly in 3D sense of space.

           

         Sound Signature-  A more fun sound over all, the mids have good attack, as do the highs. Not entirely neutral, but the coloration is mild and leaves the can with a pleasant sound! 

 

Timbre- a more fun timbre than it is real, the mids are slightly recessed and the bass is a tad more fluid than is real.  Yet the mids, have a very real timbre, good attack and decay on them. Vocals how ever sound a little thin, and lacking in accurate timbre

 

Sound [4/5]

 

Treble [5/5]- Awesome highs, great attack and air with good decay as well.

 

Mids [4/5]- Good tone, has a nice attack. Body is good but could be a touch lusher.

 

Bass [3.8/5] - Maybe a matter of preference over technicality, but for me the bass has a nice body to it. Very full, yet I'd like a little tighter bass. Still more natural and wooden bass tones where lovely!        And honestly, this can needs no eq for a kicking EDM experience! 

 

Song by Song (Click to show)

Songs

 

1 - Lisa Ekdahl _ Of My Conceit

 

A vocal jazz piece, Lisa's voice is the main focus. Yet behind her is a lovely piano and a delicate guitar strumming! The piano provides a nice upper Mid and Treble balance, while the guitar provides lower mids and some bass. Both of these elements compliment Lisa's voice. A song best on a warm neutral can, a larger sound stage is excellent with this song as well!

 

          Treble-  Good sparkle and nice sense of air.

 

          Mids- Very nice airy detail to vocals, lacks a touch of body. But has a lovely overall tone!

 

         Bass- Good warmth in the bass with a nice little bit of impact. More body than tightness, yet still very clean bass.

 

                   Dynamics- Very nice, the left and right channels feature different instruments, and they flawlessly shift from louder to softer notes.

 

2-  Anne Gastinel & Francois-Frederic Guy Sonata for Cello & Piano No. 2 in G minor, Op. 5

 

Classical track features heavy focus on mids with sparkles of lower treble and the balance between the Cello and Piano!. Another song benefitting from a larger sound stage and a well balanced head phone. The bass of the cello accentuates nicely against the Piano.  Both having deep beautifully lush tones. Air and extension make this piece come alive and lack of it, can kill the mood entirely! Then entire audible spectrum is equally beautiful through the entire song!

 

          T- The brighter treble is enjoyable. Good sense of air and nice decay.

   

          M- Slight touch of weight, but a little recessed. A little more body would be appreciated. Yet, the mids retain a lovely tone!

 

          B- Well placed, the extra body of the bass does not impede on the mids at all.

                  

Dyna-Light and quick, good shifts from high to low.  

 

3. Yoshida Brothers -Love

 

The two brothers are performers of the traditional Japanese music style of Tsugaru-jamisen which originated in northern Japan. They debuted in 1999 in Japan as a duo playing the shamisen, and it remains a main instrument. In addition to traditional Japanese percussion, this track features a very gusto male shout. What sounds like a verbal battle cry, is over top the delicate shamisen. The punchy yet warm mids of the male vocals pair well with the light upper mids and treble of the Shamisen.

 

          T- Shamisen has a great tight snap to it, good smooth extension to those higher notes!  

          M- The twing in the Shamisen stands out a little, the sharper attack on the Ath a900x is enjoyable.

 

          B- Good bass, the woody body of the unique bass line in this song is apparent.

                   Dyna- Quick shifts, enjoyable. No lingering decay any where.  

 

4 Kidnap Kid- Animaux

 

A nice Vocal DnB Tune. A really demanding tune, as the mids and bass over overly overtop another. The sound is very... wonderful! The beauty of the mids right atop deep tight bass, followed by drops of nice punchy vocals. Best of all, the pesky 150hrz makes a return in this tune for a lovely meaty support for those mids. The layering and texture of the bass is, something I'm still not used to! I feel a little spoiled each time I hear it!

 

          T- Good air and attack on the highs. Very crisp and enjoyable.

 

          M- The mids stand back a little, letting the deep bass really shine. Yet they retain a nice attack. Vocals also have a nice tone.

 

          B- A good balance of tightness, and sheer impact and body. With the Eq bass is a little loose, yet has a great presence and some nice kick.  

 

Being that this is a DnB song, I do prefer to eq my DnB. Using FooBar a +4 @110hrz and -4 @156hrz gives the bass a little more body while not removing any weight and still remaining tight!

 

                   Dyna- Good as always. Clean shifts from high to low. Bass has slightly less decay than the w1000x.  

 

 

5- Dai Qing Tana & HAYA Band- Missing You

 

Beautiful Mongolian vocals, and a world music sound that breaches more than just Asian styles. This track features a lovely guitar to your left, a cello to your right with Dai Qings delicate yet warm deep lyrics right in the middle. A perfect tonal balance is ideal for this track, as it's simplicity does not allow for any distraction from the overall mood of the song as a whole!

 

          T- The highs have great air, the guitar snaps sharply with a nice tone to it!   

 

          M- The lower mids of this song lack a little definition, yet the vocals are crisp and airy. Nice lovely tone to them. The cello as well keeps a good weight and balanced energy. Still the low guitar notes are a bit much,  a little to thick for my tastes.

 

          B- The bass is good, not too overpowering but gives the guitar and cello some nice thick bodied low notes. How ever the bass does not drown out the vocals, only the lowest low mids.  

 

It should be noted these Bass Notes, are in conjunction with the lower mids very much in this track. As the Guitar and cello each have a sense of Mid and Bass in their lower notes due to nature of the instrument.

 

                   Dyna- Clean shifts, very nicely done.

 

 Still though, the extra decay in the bass of this track especially take away slightly from the dynamic quickness of the w1000x. So for a track like this, with multiple heavy mid presence, the K550 remains a little more dynamic than the slightly mid focused w1000x.

 

6- 3nd_ Algorythm       

 

Great tune from a Japanese Rock band, wonderful energy and great layering. A nice high energy rock tune. The kick of the drums and the clash of the cymbals, combined with sweet guitar mids and a mellow bass line. The bass in particular shifts a lot, the skilled bassists really shows off from time to time, combined with dual guitar tracks. Balance is a great benefit, as is a good sound stage to this song.

 

          T- Really like the energy and air to the highs of this can. The guitar as well has a nice tone in it's upper most notes!   

 

          M- The guitars as nice, good attack and decay, with a very pleasant amount of body actually!

 

          B- The bass of the Ath a900x shows it's first weakness, not as tight with the bass guitar as I like. The clarity and detail in the bass is lost a little in the rock song. Yet it's body and thump are always present.  

 

                   Dyna- Nice as always, the lack of tightness on the bass does not affect it's decay, and the overall dynamitic of the headphone!

 

7-  Benga- Evolution  

 

A lovely mid intro, builds to a very aggressive and tight drop. While the mids are an excellent addition to this song, the cymbals and bass are the focus here! Aggression is key in this track, the tighter and deeper the better. The faster and punchier the more enjoyable!

 

I will admit, I do enjoy my Dub Step eq'd ever so slightly. That being said, I do use the same modest eq for both cans. A +1 boost at 55hrz leading to a +4 boost to 110hz, followed by a -6 decrease at 156hz following a slight incline to +2 at 1.2k hz then back to +_0 I prefer the mids boosted a pinch, and that pesky 156hrz when removed or eq'd out bring a VERY tight bass line to any track, As this frequency is a VERY meaty upper Bass... that said I remove it as it lacks deep impact or TIGHT punch imo.

 

          T- Good snap and air to the treble. The highs are excellent in this tune! Delicate yet they stand their own ground.  

 

          M- The mids are pleasant as well, not getting lost in the mix, yet they are a touch veiled by the bass.  

 

          B- Nice big body for this tune, yet I enjoy a slightly tighter bass, over the bigger more full bodied bass.

 

 

                   Dyna-  Excellent, good fast shifts!

 

8- Lenny White, Jamey Haddad, Mark Sherman -Seven [Binarual Recording] From _ (Explorations In Space and Time)

 

A percussion trio, this binarual recording has only one thing that makes it wonderful... imaging. The Width and depth of the recording is really wonderful, not to mention the dynamics of the track as a whole. A headphones Sound Stage, width and height are very important. However too wide a sound stage and the 3D imaging can get a little veiled.

 

          T-  Ahh the brightness and attack in drums that I enjoy, treble is nice on the Ath a900x

         

          M- Good tone overall, but the lack of 3D imaging makes it self know again.

 

          B- Nice body, the extra bit of decay is nice for this percussion tune.  

 

                   Dynamics- once again, pleasantly tight and quick.

 

 

9 The Modern Jazz Quartet- Reunion Blues

 

A lovely classic jazz piece, what makes this such a great tune is the  balance of each instrument, as well as the placement of each in the sound stage. This song... is spilt literally into left and right. A soft Piano and Percy Heath's Double Bass to your right, with the drums and cymbals to your left, Also in the left channel is a magically warm and lush Xylophone! Best of all despite extreme stereophonic sound, the track as a whole is very balanced and incredibly enjoyable! Here a wider sound stage takes heed over a tall one.

 

          T- Just as airy as the w1000x, with equal energy!  

 

          M- Mids have a nice attack on them, and a good tone. A little more body would be enjoyed.  

 

          B- The bass is a little forward on this track,  while the tone is excellent. The  3D placement is a little off again.  

 

 

                   Dynamics- As always, fast and accurate. Great for this classical Jazz piece! 

 

Beyerdynamic Dt 990 (Click to show)

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 

 

 

Beyerdyanmic Dt 990 Pro 250 ohm [Price $190 New]

 

Source Win 7[Foobar2000 WASAPI] -> oDac -> MonoPrice Premium Coaxial Cables -> Matrix M Stage [0 /+18 db Gain Lme 49990 OpAmp]

 

The Beyer Can, having a higher impedance reaches it's optimal sound at 18 gain, volume is adjust accordingly

 

Compared against modified Audio Technica w1000x [Stock $350 Refurbished-After mods $500] and for the last 2 songs, a AKG K550. It came into my home as I was finishing this up <3

 

8/9 Songs are without EQ, Benga-Invasion does feature an EQ by my self. This should demonstrate the ability of a headphone to handle EQ.

 

My second primary headphone. I've had it for around 6 months now, and shame on me for not posting a review sooner. It was so wonderful, I suppose it didn't need me to explain it self.  Non the less, it's time the silence be broken!

 

Build [5/5]

 

Like a tank, I've dropped them a few times sadly, sat on them once and lugged them around in a book bag for months. Unlike the fragile w1000x, the Beyer headphones are the most well built I've worn to date. Truly tough headphones!

 

Specs

Open Dynamic Operating Principle

250 Ohm Impedance

115db Sensitivity

5-35,000k response

 

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [4/5]

The comfort is amazing as well, the open dynamic driver and the velour pads are great together! The open back of the can let's any heat flow away from you, while the velour's make sure your ears aren't too cold! I wear them for hours daily! The clamp how ever may be to strong for some.. Still the fit is easy to master, and unlike the fickle angled drivers of the w1000x, these remain consistent!

 

Sound Signature and Character

 

            Sound Stage:  Wonderfully, wide. Instrument separation is flawless and sounds effortless on the part of the headphone. The width does take away from the depth of the sound stage however.

             

            Sound Signature-  There's actually feature a rather prominent mid bass hump, yet they remain fairly balanced. The mids are very real, sufficient warm and wonderful clarity and punch. A brighter, lighter and tighter sound signature. I find it suits Classical, Classical and Nu Jazz, and EDM. The bass is to much for rock, and the mids not intimate or lushly beautiful enough to all vocals.

 

Sound [4.2/5]

 

Treble [5/5]- Airy, well extended and awesome details!

 

Mids [4/5]- A beautiful tone to mids, not lush enough for vocals but perfect for delicate upper and lower mid instruments!

 

Bass [3.5/5] - Excellent bass in some songs, in others it's so much it ruins them.                  

 

Conclusion- For $190 new and around $150, it's one of my favorite all time open cans! Great sound for almost all kinds of music and the bass lovers will enjoy it with everything! Good dynamics and fantastic build quality. A must have for any one getting into Audio Phila! 

 

Song by Song (Click to show)

Songs

 

1 - Lisa Ekdahl _ Of My Conceit

 

A vocal jazz piece, Lisa's voice is the main focus. Yet behind her is a lovely piano and a delicate guitar strumming! The piano provides a nice upper Mid and Treble balance, while the guitar provides lower mids and some bass. Both of these elements compliment Lisa's voice. A song best on a warm neutral can, a larger sound stage is excellent with this song as well!

 

            Treble- The highs of the guitar are very nice and airy. they extend well, as does the higher delicate notes in Lisa's voice. The cymbal  sparkle is magical as well!

            Mids- Lisa's voice has great upper mid presence, but the lower mids are a little overtaken by the lows in her voice. Still, the lush warmth in Lisa's voice is not 100%. The Beyers lack the sex appeal in her voice!

            Bass- A little too strong for this track, the vocals lose a little mid warmth in the bass, and low notes on the guitar have more body than I'd like.

 

                        Dynamics- Very nice, the left and right channels feature different instruments, and they flawlessly shift from louder to softer notes.

2-  Anne Gastinel & Francois-Frederic Guy Sonata for Cello & Piano No. 2 in G minor, Op. 5

 

Classical track features heavy focus on mids with sparkles of lower treble and the balance between the Cello and Piano!. Another song benefitting from a larger sound stage and a well balanced head phone. The bass of the cello accentuates nicely against the Piano.  Both having deep beautifully lush tones. Air and extension make this piece come alive and lack of it, can kill the mood entirely! Then entire audible spectrum is equally beautiful through the entire song!

 

            T- The lower treble is beautiful, airy and well textured! With a excellent quick decay and smooth presentation.

            M- Phenomenal, the warmth the Cellos, upper and lower mids ever so gently tickle your ears, the piano as well retains great warmth. The energy and punch is ever present, as the notes quickly shift from higher to lower!  Again the w1000x, has a lush tightness to it, yet the lacks the delicate and polite nature of the Dt 990s Mids.

            B- Very tight and well placed, the bass never impedes on the delicate mids!

                        Dyna-Excellent, a flawless effort from high to HIGHER to HIGEST, the back to softer notes, the shifts from fast to slow, LOUD to quiet. Everything is accurate, smooth and effortless. The dynamics are lighting fast, magically effortless! The w1000x sounds very sluggish in this track, the immense width of the dt 990s sound stage is a true strength here.

 

3. Yoshida Brothers -Love

 

The two brothers are performers of the traditional Japanese music style of Tsugaru-jamisen which originated in northern Japan. They debuted in 1999 in Japan as a duo playing the shamisen, and it remains a main instrument. In addition to traditional Japanese percussion, this track features a very gusto male shout. What sounds like a verbal battle cry, is over top the delicate shamisen. The punchy yet warm mids of the male vocals pair well with the light upper mids and treble of the Shamisen.

 

            T- The high notes, retain a nice sharp twinge to them. Natural and very real. good extension and well textured. Still the mysticism of the woody highs is lost on the Dt 990, where as the wooden w1000x, captures the beauty of the wooden tones of the WOOD Shamisen!

            M- The mids of the Shamisens are, just as lovely and gentle as they should be. Quick on their feet, and with a deadly accurate attack. The mood of the song is capture nicely in the mids. Still though, the male vocals lack... GUSTO. They lack power behind them, so the song is a little lighter than I'd like. I miss the power in the vocals. In addition, the sharp wooden beauty of the percussion is lost a little on the dt 990. Again, though the natural beauty of the Shamisen is lost a little in the Dt 990, it lacks the mysticism of the woody mids!

            B- There isn't much bass to the song, that being said, what little bass that rings through the wooden percussion, is a little lost on the super tight Dt 990.

                        Dyna- both cans do a great job of  effortlessly shifting from the high to low energy parts of the song. Each one quick to adjust.

 

4 Kidnap Kid- Animaux

 

A nice Vocal DnB Tune. A really demanding tune, as the mids and bass over overly overtop another. The sound is very... wonderful! The beauty of the mids right atop deep tight bass, followed by drops of nice punchy vocals. Best of all, the pesky 150hrz makes a return in this tune for a lovely meaty support for those mids. The layering and texture of the bass is, something I'm still not used to! I feel a little spoiled each time I hear it!

 

            T- Very light and airy. A little better extended than the w1000x. Although the additional brightness of the DT 990, brings an almost fake sound to the well synthesized treble. Still  The treble details in this song are amazing.

            M- The seductive mids and bass combo on the w1000x is hard to beat... still the very real mids of the Dt 990, still pair beautifully with the deep bass.  Both cans, present this song a little differently, but do do them equally well. The added punch is the Dt 990, is equally as enjoyable as the ever so slightly thicker mids on the w1000x.

            B- A tough call, both cans are Mid bass oriented, the tighter bass and lower mids of the Dt 990, have an awesome dynamic impact, where as the slightly softer yet tight bass of the w1000x lingers just a few fractions of a second longer to bring a little more soul to this song. Dare I say the Dt 990 here is almost too aggressive...  Yet the bass still favors the Dt 990, as it digs deeper, and those DEEP notes really mellow the entire tune out more than the mids imo.

                        Dyna- a very dynamic Drum n Bass tune, again both handle seamless dynamic transitions.  How ever the highs, fade in out and much quicker and smoother on the dt 990.

5- Dai Qing Tana & HAYA Band- Missing You

 

Beautiful Mongolian vocals, and a world music sound that breaches more than just Asian styles. This track features a lovely guitar to your left, a cello to your right with Dai Qings delicate yet warm deep lyrics right in the middle. A perfect tonal balance is ideal for this track, as it's simplicity does not allow for any distraction from the overall mood of the song as a whole!

 

            T- Nice air, great brightness.

            M- Dai Quing's voice is equally as beautiful Airy, as it is lush, yet the bass notes from the guitar drown out her voice.

            B- Sadly, the bass on the dt 990 is to over powering for this song, While the cello remains beautiful, the guitar has much to much body and far too long of a decay, the note does how ever ring out, but the increased bass of the DT 990 really brings to much attention to it... The upper mids as well, are lost in those lingering bass notes, the slightly softer and less bassy w1000x, presents them with equal decay yet a much with a gentler punch.

 

                        Dyna- The effortless dynamics of the DT 990, do save the upper mids from some of that over powering bass. 

 

It should be noted how ever, on +10 gain the bass get's a little looser and is more enjoyable, but the beautiful air and gentle push of the cello and upper mids are lost in this gain decrease. Dynamics suffer a little as well from the gain adjustment.

 

6- 3nd_ Algorythm      

 

Great tune from a Japanese Rock band, wonderful energy and great layering. A nice high energy rock tune. The kick of the drums and the clash of the cymbals, combined with sweet guitar mids and a mellow bass line. The bass in particular shifts a lot, the skilled bassists really shows off from time to time, combined with dual guitar tracks. Balance is a great benefit, as is a good sound stage to this song.

 

            T- The cymbals have a good tone, good extension.

            M- Once again, I do enjoy the extra edge and energy in the mids on the guitar. Those upper mids especially have some awesome air to them! Still for this rock tune, a little less detail and a little more lush mids are preferred!

            B- Still the bass guitar is a little too strong again, not nearly as much as in the previous song [Electric bass, stays tighter than Acoustic] Still the kick drum has good impact.

 

                        Dyna- Both perform equally as well, this song does not feature too many dynamic shifts, but there are about 3 major ones. The Dt 990 is as usual a little faster, but not by enough to negate any significant advantage.

 

It should be noted... the Beyer Dt 990s, slightly shallow sound stage is brought out in Rock. For me, the w1000x, has a better 3D image in this rock track, than does the Beyer Dt 990. 

 

7-  Benga- Evolution  

 

A lovely mid intro, builds to a very aggressive and tight drop. While the mids are an excellent addition to this song, the cymbals and bass are the focus here! Aggression is key in this track, the tighter and deeper the better. The faster and punchier the more enjoyable!

 

I will admit, I do enjoy my Dub Step eq'd ever so slightly. That being said, I do use the same modest eq for both cans. A +1 boost at 55hrz leading to a +4 boost to 110hz, followed by a -6 decrease at 156hz following a slight incline to +2 at 1.2k hz then back to +-0 I prefer the mids boosted a pinch, and that pesky 156hrz when removed or eq'd out bring a VERY tight bass line to any track, As this frequency is a VERY meaty upper Bass... that said I remove it as it lacks deep impact or TIGHT punch imo.

 

            T- About the same, both have great treble detail, the Dt 990 has a little more air and extends nicer. Quicker on the decay as well.

            M-Mids are lusher on the w1000x, but a little too lush. On the Dt 990 the punchier nature of the mids cut's against that deep bass a little more pleasantly!  

            B- Sadly a slaughter, Dt 990 is Tigher, faster and more aggressive.

 

                        Dyna- What... Dub Step song with Dynamics... you mean other than... BASS no BASS... just kidding. Seriously though, the song has nice dynamic shifts, and the massive bass stays tight and decays faster through these shifts on the DT 990.

 

Should be noted, the Dt 990 struggles a little bit with deeper acoustic bass notes. The w1000x is a little more natural with wooden instrument bass, than is the Dt 990

 

 

8- Lenny White, Jamey Haddad, Mark Sherman -Seven [Binarual Recording] From _ (Explorations In Space and Time)

 

A percussion trio, this binarual recording has only one thing that makes it wonderful... imaging. The Width and depth of the recording is really wonderful, not to mention the dynamics of the track as a whole. A headphones Sound Stage, width and height are very important. However too wide a sound stage and the 3D imaging can get a little veiled.

 

            T- Cymbal are wonderfully airy, great energy and the linear space is good, the 3D position, imaging how ever is not as nice as the K550 and the w1000x

            M- Ahh Drums, have a good body to the, unlike the K550 which has rather thin lower mids, in this all percussion piece those lower mids are excellent on both the Dt 990 and the w1000x, with the Dt 990 having the best impact and clarity!  

            B- Nice and tight, very pleasant!

 

                        Dynamics- once again, pleasantly tight and quick.

9 The Modern Jazz Quartet- Reunion Blues

 

A lovely classic jazz piece, what makes this such a great tune is the  balance of each instrument, as well as the placement of each in the sound stage. This song... is spilt literally into left and right. A soft Piano and Percy Heath's Double Bass to your right, with the drums and cymbals to your left, Also in the left channel is a magically warm and lush Xylophone! Best of all despite extreme stereophonic sound, the track as a whole is very balanced and incredibly enjoyable! Here a wider sound stage takes heed over a tall one.

 

            T- Lovely, cymbals have good extension and fabulous air.

            M- the upper mids are excellent, as are the lower mids! The piano and Xylophone work together for a wonderful mid core! The 1000x, adding a nice richness to both, while the AKG K550 lacks the lower mids in the piano. Over all the combination of clarity and mid tonal impact make for a great jazz experience!

            B- Excellent, tight, yet again the 3D imaging shows to be a little weaker than the AKG K550 and w1000x respectively! 

 

Akg K550 vs Sound Magic vs Ath a900x (Click to show)
Sound Stage [ss]
Bass
Highs
Mids 
TimbreFun [Tf]
TimbreReal [Tr]
Comfort
Ease of Use [EoU]
 
AKg K550
Ss 5/5- deep and very wide
B 5/5- Wonderful Balance of Punchy Mid Bass and DEEP Sub Bass
H 3/5- very nuetral, not a lot of sparkle 
M 4.5/5- slightly forward,  dark tone
Tr 4/50 vey real timbre, yet highs are slighty dull
Tf 2/5- too nuetral an clean, a little dull
C 4/5-comfy but get's a little sweaty
EoU 2/5
 
Audio Technica Ath a900x
Ss 4/5 -good width, good instrumental seperation
B 4/5 -a little loose but very warm, nice punch
H 5/5- nice and airy
M 3.5/5- nice attack and tone, slightly recessed though
Tr 3/5- nice attack and tone on the mids and highs
Tf 5/5- very fun and enjoyable timbre, bass is a little fake
C 3.5/5- clamp is a little tight, ear pads are nice though.
EoU 4/5 Some may have issues with fit, but most should have no problems at all! 
 
Sound Magic HP 100
Ss 4.5/5- very nice and wide, slighty shallow
B 4/5- very deep and tight, mid bass a touch recessed 
H 5/5- fantastic, nice sparkle and great air
M 4.25/5 very real mids, delicate weight and body. Wonderfully smooth tone
Tr 4/5- a little overly lean in the bass, yet retains some nice meaty mids, deep sub an airy highs
Tf 3/5- a little to lean to be "fun" yet, not boring
C 5/5 -super comfy, ePads are pleather but do not create a lot of sweat
EoU 5/5- so easy a cave man could wear em lol
 
Sound Magic HP 100 (Click to show)

Sound Magic HP 100 ($165 Used)  

 

 

Personal Back-Story  

 

In the search for a can with the dt 880 sound and the isolation of a closed headphone I came across the sound magic hp 100!

 

Pros: Comfort, isolation, carrying case, detachable cord, clean sound, wonderful sound stage

 

Cons : lack of lower mids and upper bass [easily fixed by the w1000x Pads], also needs to be modified for bass improvement

 

Build [5/5]

 

 

Specs

Closed operating principle

Driver: Dynamic 53mm Neodymium Drivers
- Frequency range: 10Hz~30KHz
- Impedance: 32Ω (±10%)
- Sensitivity: 95dB/mW @ 1KHz (±3dB)
- Maximum input power: 100mW
- Cable length: 1.2m (3.5ft) coiled
- Connection: 3.5mm gold plated plug
- Weight: 288g

 

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [4.5/5]

Perfect, fit’s like a glove. The comfort is wonderful and the isolation is impressive!

Price to Performance : [5/5]

For the price it performs just as well as the K550, not to mention a New Sound Magic costs the same as a Used K550. Either way it’s a great bargain!

 

Complimentary Genre:  None, works equally well with all genres

 

Sonic Test Process

 

Source Win 7[Foobar2000 WASAPI] -> oDac -> MonoPrice Premium Coaxial Cables -> Matrix M Stage [Lme 49990 OpAmp]

 

Headphone reference notes- I like to demo all headphones against my Beyerdynamic Dt 880, as they are a well know reference can.  Reference notes will always be in italics, and are included in the Video Reviews and Head Fi review posts.

 

 

Reference points, will be in bold italics.  In each of the seven reference songs I will specify what parts of the song I am listening to, to evaluate the 3 parts of the spectrum.  In addition to other aspects of the overall sound presentation.

 

           In addition, I always like details  presented in all frequances

Highs- looking for and evaluating air, nice extension and good energy and placement within sound stage

Mids- looking for and considering weight, body and tone

Bass- listening for, control, texture and punch/impact

 

          Sound Stage- reported after listening to all tracks

          Imaging –Track #3 and #4 are well mastered for 2D and 3D imaging

          Instrument Layering-reported after listening to all tracks

          Timbre- realism of sound, fun versus real

          Speed- ability to retain mirco-details  in ultra fast tonal shifts

Music Auditioned [All Lossless quality, tracks vary from 16 to 24bit]

 

Lisa Ekdahl [Sings Salvadore Poe] Of My Conceit {16bit 44100hrz sample}

          Vocal Jazz track,

Highs-  The upper range of the vocals and guitar notes

Mids- Lisa’s vocals, along with the lower notes on the guitar and piano

Bass- a touch of bass in the vocals and the lowest guitar  notes.

 

Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile [The Goat Rodeo Sessions ] Where’s my Bow? {16bit 44100hrz sample rate}

          This song is a new age classical composition.

Highs- upper most range of the stringed instruments, primarily of the, Viola, Violin

Mids- presented by all the stringed wood instruments

Bass- focus primarily on the Cello 

 

David Chesky- [Jazz In The New Harmonic]-Transcendental Tripping 

          New Age Jazz, Binaural  

Imaging- a binaural recording, a wonderfully real 3D presentation

Overall Balanced Sound Response  {Percussion}- looking for balance

Highs-drums, cymbals,Brass horns

Mids-Brass Horns,  upper mids of Double BassPiano 

Bass-Double Bass

 

Kenji Yamamoto-[Metroid Prime Sountrack[-Chozo Ruins {16bit 44000hrz sample} 

              Ambient Orchestral Sound Track 

Sound Stage- a very high energy and multi layered track, with so many individual pieces working together a large sound stage is crucial. In addition the tracks features a lot of fading sounds  

Balanced Frequency- The mood of the track set by the balance of frequency, any coloration takes away from the collective beauty of the track as a whole.

 

Benga [Invasion EP] Evolution {16bit 441000 hrz sample}

          Good ole Dub Step, -Will be Eq’d to determine how headphones handle eq

Highs- all about the cymbals,

Mids- Playful Brass horn like intro and outro, only notable mids

Bass- the Bass Wobble is the focus here


Metallica [Master Of Puppets] Welcome Home (Sanitarium) {16bit 44100hrz sample}

        Metal

Speed- this track features a very simple layering of instruments, but the mirco details in the guitar solo's make or break the track. 

Highs- guitar, cymbals classic metal tune, smooth sweet highs in the guitar

Mids- guitars, vocals, also looking for speed in the quick tactile hits of the guitar riffs

Bass-Bass Guitar R.I.P Cliff, only the best quality for his bass lines!

 

Matisyahu- [Live At Stubb’s]- Exaltation

          Live Reggae –listening for the little bits of extra noise that are often present in live music [detail retention]

Highs- Upper range of the guitar and the cymbals

Mids- Vocals, guitar and upper range of the Bass Guitar also taking note of the drums

Bass- all about that bass guitar and Kick Drum

 

Sound

           

          Sound Signature- Very clean, a slight tilt towards the central and upper mids. A very nice Sub Bass extension, but lacks a little mid bass. Overall very crisp clean headphone with nice mids.   Very Lean yet Lusher than Neutral

                             Again, adding the W1000x Stock pads, add a little meat to the sound, giving you fuller mids and bass with a slight increase in sound stage width and height!

 

Dynamics- Excellent, quick and effortless

Timbre- Very accurate, but a slight lack of mid bass… leads to an overly tight bass and mids. Low end sounds lack weight, leading to a leaner than life like timbre… but still very accurate. Not fake nor thin.

The addition of w1000x Pads leads to a slight boost in the Mid bass, giving the bass a much more real timbre!

Speed-  Very lean and quick, plenty of speed for metal! Yet lacks a little weight behind it’s speed.

          Sound Stage: 2D  image is very nice, instrument layering is good, nice sense of air in between instruments, how ever can get a little over whelmed with grandeur or elaborate tracks, anything featuring upwards of 8 or so instrumental layers. Lacks slightly in 3D space as well. 

 

Highs- Excellent, great airy presentation and energy, very detailed as well.

Mids-  Very smooth and detailed, vocals are silky smooth, yet very detailed, Guitars maintain a nice rich sound as well, although acoustic instruments can be a little too lean at times, still very pleasing.

Bass- VERY Deep and tight sub bass, mid bass lacks ever so slighty but still has plenty of attack, just needs a little more body.

[Modified with ATH w1000x Stock Pads] {+$50}

          Modification Improvements- The Stock W1000x Pads bring;

1)    a little more focus to the entire sound stage

2)    improved 2D and 3D imaging and instrument spacing

3)    Slightly forward yet magically delicate mids

4)    A gentle boost to mid bass body and attack  

 

Amplification Need or Suggested – These do not need an amp, but they pair nicely with a warm solid state or hybrid tube.

 

 

 

Song by Song Break Down (Click to show)

Songs

 

 

Lisa Ekdahl _ Of My Conceit

          Vocal Jazz

 

          Highs-   Sparkles when it should, lovely air in the chimes in the back ground

          Mids- very delicate low mids, capture the deep sexy notes in Lisa’s voice very well. In addition the upper range of her vocals has a nice airiness, and playful nature as it should. The Guitar and piano are nice and smooth,  a smidge drowned out by vocals at times though

          Bass- Nice and well controlled, but slightly lacking in punch. Percussion has good tone, but again lacks a little in tactility. Yet low notes in Lisa’s Voice and in the guitar has a fantastic body

 

The Dt 880 had a very similar sound signature, yet with slightly better instrument separation and a little more air to the entire track.. The treble extended a tad more, and details where easier to pick out, in addition the Dt 880 had a nice percussion presentation. 

 

 

Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile [The Goat Rodeo Sessions ] Where’s my Bow? {16bit 44100hrz sample rate}

New age classical composition.

 

Highs-  Upper notes in the violin are light on their feet, with nice air. Nice edge on them without being sibilant or harsh.  The Violins really have a great tone to them, very real timbre! 

Mids- Fantastic delicate weight and body, very detailed as well. Sounds of the bow against the string are nice details, again a nice yet very lean timbre

Bass-  Lovely tactility in the lowest notes of the Cello, good tone and speed as well.

 

Once again, the sound signature is very similar to the Dt 880, yet the 880 out classes it again. Slightly more mid weight, equally as pleasant treble with a touch more air and sweetness, sound stage is wider as well. Detail retention is on par, left and right positional cues are more identifiable as well on the dt 880, again a better sound stage for the semi open can.

 

 

David Chesky- [Jazz In The New Harmonic]-Transcendental Tripping 

          New Age Jazz, Binaural  

 

Highs- nice energy to them, placement is very well. Timbre is excellent, piccolo trumpet is bright without being sibilant or metallic!

 

Mids- Very nice, again that piccolo trumpet sounds top notch, very real timbre. Mids are a tad forward as well [thanks to the w1000x pads] sound stage is also improved!

 

Bass- Nice snap and attack, the body is also wonderful as well, again the w1000x pads added a little mid bass punch into the headphone!

 

 Kenji Yamamoto-[Metroid Prime Sountrack[-Chozo Ruins {16bit 44000hrz sample} 

              Ambient Orchestral Sound Track 

Going to only speak of Sound Stage and Balance for this track

 

Sound Stage-  Wonderful sense of width height and depth,  the instrument separation is spot on/ The echoing sounds at the top of the valley are very real sounding, in addition the  rolling bass sweeps give the impression of the sheer depth of the canyon, you really get a sense of the area around in from the 3D and 2D imaging!

 

 

Balanced Frequency-  Very balanced, the w1000x  pads move the mids slightly forward which leads to a more realistic sense of space. The bass has a good kick to it, and the highs have a nice sense of air. 

                  

 

 

Benga [Invasion EP] Evolution {16bit 441000 hrz sample}

          Good ole Dub Step, -Will be Eq’d to determine how headphones handle eq

Highs- Nice sense of air, good energy and clarity

Mids- Pleasant actually, a fun and lush tone to the mids, still very lean and clean, yet enjoyable!

Bass-  DEEP TIGHT SUB BASS, the extra kick of the Mid Bass from the w1000x pads and the natural sub bass extension are very enjoyable.

 

Metallica [Master Of Puppets] Welcome Home (Sanitarium) {16bit 44100hrz sample}

        Metal

Speed-  Quick on it’s feet,  there is an ever so slight mid hammering with the w1000x pads on the Sound magic Hp 100, the pads add to the speed of the can.      

Highs-  good snap and texture on the drums and cymbals, very crisp and airy. Well placed in the sound stage as well.  The lower treble on the guitar notes are pleasant as well.

Mids-  I really like the vocals, a nice crunch to Jame’s voice, in addition the guitars while quick and edgy are nice, there is a very slight lower mid body, thanks to the w1000x pads, the mids remain lean with a very modest amount of body! The attack is wonderful though!

Bass- Very nice, I don’t hear Cliff’s guitar to often in Metallica, but there’s enough clarity and instrument separation to get those deep heavy METAL notes of Cliff’s bass AND the kicks of the drums. Very nice bass.

 

Matisyahu- [Live At Stubb’s]- Exaltation

          Live Reggae –listening for the little bits of extra noise that are often present in live music [detail retention]

 

 

 

Highs- Nice great air and crispness to the snares

Mids- Impressive, the vocals are sooo smooth and the guitar notes are rich and mellow! There’s a point at which Matisyahu holds a note, and there’s such a lushly lean tone to it! Really wonderful!

Bass- Nice and tight, the w1000x pads add a nice body back into the bass, and the detail retention is great! The  little bit of feed back fuzz in the bass is there! [Something I find common in most live shows] 

 

 

 

 

Audio Technica ATH AD900X vs DT 880 [Review of the AD900X] (Click to show)

Audio Technica  ATH AD900X {$180 Used} {$299 New}

 

 

Personal Back-Story  

 

I recently emailed Mr. Doris a Public relations professional with Audio- Technica U.S., INC. I would first of all like to thank him for allowing me to do this review as well as for his great communication with me! Non the less, I’ve been doing reviews for about a year now and wanted to apply my trade toward a great cause and do a more professional review.  So I emailed Mr. Dorris to see if I could do a review for Audio-Technica U.S and he graciously agreed. My interest in the ATH AD900x is rooted in my love for open back headphones, as a happy owner of the Beyerdynamic Dt 880 I was curious to see how the Audio Technica open back within the DT 880 price range performed, and I was not disappointed.

 

Pros: Spacious airy sound, fantastic bass, sound stage and imaging

Cons : Slides a little, to little decay, aggressive,

 

Build [3.8/5]

Not the toughest headphone ever made, a lot of plastic. But it feels very sturdy, and has a good weight in the hands. Visually is very well made, a very attractive headphone to look upon.

 

Specs

Type Open Air Dynamic

Driver Diameter 53mm

Frequency Response 5-35,000

Maximum Input Power 1,000mW

Sensitivity  100dB/mW

Impedance 38ohm

Weight 265 g

Cable 3.0 meters

 

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [4/5]

Very comfy, the clamp is wonderful the only issue I have with them is the wings. While the wing system is implemented very nicely, the wigs themselves has slightly less padding than the A900x and W1000x… making the headphone slide around a millimeter or so if you’re moving around. While this does not have a bearing on sound, it is a little distracting at times.

 

Price to Performance : [5/5]

Compared to the DT 880 which is in the same price range, I’d say that the AD900x like the Dt 880 is a fantastic bargain! The sound is very detailed and spacious, and over all the mix of elements on the headphone are wonderful for it’s price range!

 

Complimentary Genres:  Metal EDM and Classical   

 

Sonic Test Process

 

Source Win 7[Foobar2000 WASAPI] -> oDac -> MonoPrice Premium Coaxial Cables -> Matrix M Stage [Lme 49990 OpAmp]

 

Headphone reference notes- I like to demo all headphones against my Beyerdynamic Dt 880, as they are a well know reference can.  Reference notes will always be in italics, and are included in the Video Reviews and Head Fi review posts.

 

 

Reference points, will be in bold italics.  In each of the seven reference songs I will specify what parts of the song I am listening to, to evaluate the 3 parts of the spectrum.  In addition to other aspects of the overall sound presentation.

 

           In addition, I always like details  presented in all frequances

Highs- looking for and evaluating air, nice extension and good energy and placement within sound stage

Mids- looking for and considering weight, body and tone

Bass- listening for, control, texture and punch/impact

 

          Sound Stage- reported after listening to all tracks

          Imaging –Track #3 and #4 are well mastered for 2D and 3D imaging

          Instrument Layering-reported after listening to all tracks

          Timbre- realism of sound, fun versus real

          Speed- ability to retain mirco-details  in ultra-fast tonal shifts

Music Auditioned [All Lossless quality, tracks vary from 16 to 24bit]

 

Lisa Ekdahl [Sings Salvadore Poe] Of My Conceit {16bit 44100hrz sample}

          Vocal Jazz track,

Highs-  The upper range of the vocals and guitar notes

Mids- Lisa’s vocals, along with the lower notes on the guitar and piano

Bass- a touch of bass in the vocals and the lowest guitar  notes.

 

Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile [The Goat Rodeo Sessions ] Where’s my Bow? {16bit 44100hrz sample rate}

          This song is a new age classical composition.

Highs- upper most range of the stringed instruments, primarily of the, Viola, Violin

Mids- presented by all the stringed wood instruments

Bass- focus primarily on the Cello 

 

David Chesky- [Jazz In The New Harmonic]-Transcendental Tripping 

          New Age Jazz, Binaural  

Imaging- a binaural recording, a wonderfully real 3D presentation

Overall Balanced Sound Response  {Percussion}- looking for balance

Highs-drums, cymbals,Brass horns

Mids-Brass Horns,  upper mids of Double BassPiano 

Bass-Double Bass

 

Kenji Yamamoto-[Metroid Prime Sountrack[-Chozo Ruins {16bit 44000hrz sample} 

              Ambient Orchestral Sound Track 

Sound Stage- a very high energy and multi layered track, with so many individual pieces working together a large sound stage is crucial. In addition the tracks features a lot of fading sounds  

Balanced Frequency- The mood of the track set by the balance of frequency, any coloration takes away from the collective beauty of the track as a whole.

 

Benga [Invasion EP] Evolution {16bit 441000 hrz sample}

          Good ole Dub Step, -Will be Eq’d to determine how headphones handle eq

Highs- all about the cymbals,

Mids- Playful Brass horn like intro and outro, only notable mids

Bass- the Bass Wobble is the focus here


Metallica [Master Of Puppets] Welcome Home (Sanitarium) {16bit 44100hrz sample}

        Metal

Speed- this track features a very simple layering of instruments, but the mirco details in the guitar solo's make or break the track. 

Highs- guitar, cymbals classic metal tune, smooth sweet highs in the guitar

Mids- guitars, vocals, also looking for speed in the quick tactile hits of the guitar riffs

Bass-Bass Guitar R.I.P Cliff, only the best quality for his bass lines!

 

Matisyahu- [Live At Stubb’s]- Exaltation

          Live Reggae –listening for the little bits of extra noise that are often present in live music [detail retention]

Highs- Upper range of the guitar and the cymbals

Mids- Vocals, guitar and upper range of the Bass Guitar also taking note of the drums

Bass- all about that bass guitar and Kick Drum

 

Sound

           

          Sound Signature- Very neutral but with an aggressive tight bass, very spacious and quick natured. Detail presentation and imaging are fantastic, as is instrument layering and separation.  Lean, mean and airy

Dynamics- Super quick, sometimes a little to fast

Timbre- Very real, great timbre on the highs and mids, yet the bass can be a little too lean… a little mechanical in nature.

Speed-  VERY fast, even the bass is super tight and very quick!

          Sound Stage: Great sound stage, a nice sense of air throughout.  2D and 3D imaging are nice as well, could be slightly deeper though.  Instrument separation though is wonderful!

 

Highs- Wonderful sense of air and detail, very spacious with a surreal extension and energy.

Mids-  On the aggressive side, not forward but with a great edge and crunch to them, very punchy. Yet with a delicate enough body for vocals and classical.

Bass-  VERY tight sub and mid bass, pairs magically with EDM, Classical and Metal,  but a little too lean for other genres. The decay is a bit too short, timbre is a little mechanical. Still a very tight and enjoyable bass, in addition the bass is presented ever so slightly forward… a nice mix of elements really, overly lean yet slightly forward bass… works very well for the headphone!

 

Amplification Need or Suggested – These do not need an amp, but they would sound fantastic with a nice hybrid tube amp!   

 

With a note to amplifiers, I prefer the Dt 880 with a solid state, how ever seeing as the AD900x has slightly less lower mid and bass decay, it would pair very well with a tube, unlike the DT 880. The AD900x would defiantly be the headphone for Tube fans!

 

Song by Song Break Down (Click to show)

Songs

 

Lisa Ekdahl _ Of My Conceit

          Vocal Jazz

 

          Highs-  Lovely airy and spacious sound, a little brighter than neutral, but I enjoy the bright nature of it, along with the overall smooth airiness of it.

          Mids-  Very airy, a lot of detail within Lisa’s voice, in addition the AD900x captures the sexy nature in the lower mids of Lisa’s voice as well.  Wood winds instruments  do lack a little in body.  Although over all the mids have a nice delicate nature to them.

          Bass- Bass is very nice, great weighty attack and body on the low guitar notes, but a little too tight.  

 

The Dt 880 had a very similar sound signature, yet slightly smaller sound stage, which works for vocals. The upper mids where noi as airy on the DT 880 as the AD900x,  but the bass and lower mids where a little weightier with a more natural timbre and tone with the Dt 880. Both present details extremely well.

 

Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile [The Goat Rodeo Sessions ] Where’s my Bow? {16bit 44100hrz sample rate}

New age classical composition.

 

Highs-  Lovely, and airy lushness to the treble. Great spacious sound as well, nice mx of attack, decay and detail presentation!

Mids- Excellent, the delicate nature of the low mids works very well with classical and wooden toned mids, the upper mids of the violins are fantastic! Playfully lush yet very well detailed,  the sense of air is fabulous, and the sound stage is wonderful. Even admist an onslaught of  dual violins, viola and cello the separation is top notch, as is the over all mid presentation!

Bass-  Still too lean yet,  there is a fantastic texture to the instrument that’s very apparent on the AD900X, and it sounds wonderful! While the decay is a bit lacking, the sheer detail and texture is more than a fair trade off! Again a very weight and well textured bass with the Cello.

 

The highs are a little smoother on the Dt 880, instrument separation is equal on both, while the Dt 880 is a little dare I say slower than the AD900x. In addition the AD900x proves to be a little wider as well… yet neither sound crampt. The width of the AD900x is preferred over the DT 880, yet the DT 880 has a smoother treble presentation.

 

David Chesky- [Jazz In The New Harmonic]-Transcendental Tripping 

          New Age Jazz, Binaural  

 

Highs- Crisp and airy, high energy to them as well.  The trumpet is presented with wonderful detail.

 

Mids- Very nice, the piano double bass are placed  wonderfully, slightly behind the trumpets and in front of the drums, the mids sound wonderful and the imaging and detail are top notch as always! Tone is very real with Brass instruments, yet lacking some of the sexy body of the Sax mids.

 

Bass- Once again, the bass is extremely detailed, very quick and punchy. A little of the wooden tone of the Double Bass is lost, but the tone is still fantastic.

 

The Dt 880 proves to have a more natural timbre with jazz, a nice body to both the bass and Saxophone, and smooth treble. Both do well with imaging and sound stage. But the mids on the Dt 880 win me over,

 

 Kenji Yamamoto-[Metroid Prime Sountrack[-Chozo Ruins {16bit 44000hrz sample} 

              Ambient Orchestral Sound Track 

Going to only speak of Sound Stage and Balance for this track

 

Sound Stage- Fantastic… very detailed the placement is very nice as well.  The open nature of the can gives such a realistic placement of elements within this piece of music. The height and depth aren’t to bad either.

 

Balanced Frequency- Very nicely balanced, this being a more Electronic piece, the more mechanical nature of the bass really suits the track. The entire presentation is clean and very well balanced.

 

The Dt 880 does not do as well with this track as the AD900X does. The the wider presentation of the  of the AD900X works very well for this ambient electronic orchestral piece.  Still both present a wonderful sense of mood  and are equally tall and deep. Still the slightly tighter and more forward bass and bigger sound stage work very nicely for this track!

                  

Benga [Invasion EP] Evolution {16bit 441000 hrz sample}

          Good ole Dub Step, -Will be Eq’d to determine how headphones handle eq

Highs- Nice and crisp, the extra bass eq’d in doesn’t take away from the highs at all.

Mids-  Nice playful nature to them, good tone and lovely delicate tactility to them.

Bass-  Ahh, very deep and just TIGHT. The lack of decay works VERY well for EDM, in which the aggressive attack is really the best part.

 

The Dt 880 extends a tad deeper than the AD900X yet it’s not as aggressive on the attack, both cans are very tight, but the DT880 is just a tad more balance with it’s bass. Leaving the AD900X a tad better suited for EDM with it’s tighter more aggressive bass.

 

Metallica [Master Of Puppets] Welcome Home (Sanitarium) {16bit 44100hrz sample}

        Metal

Speed- Very quick, the nice super tight bass has a great presence

Highs-  The upper notes of the guitars are nice, nice energy to them. The snares are very crisp and airy as well.

Mids-   There is a nice crunch and gentle tactility to the mids, the guitars have a nice balance of CRUNCHY weighty attack and tactile body, which makes for a nice hammering of the guitars on your ears, and again the weight of the guitars is well presented!

Bass- I am really taken back by the BASS. Of all my headphones NONE of them have ever been able to… breathe suck LIFE into Cliff Burtons bass lines! Even admist the onslaught of guitars, only the AD900X and it’s SUPER tight bass keep cliffs bass lines punching away in the back ground. And the super textured bass of the AD900X  is perfect for Metal to my ears!

 

Easily the AD900X Overtakes the DT 880 in Metal, while the DT 880 has a smoother richer top end, with the lower and upper treble being smoother and more enjoyable, which leads to nicer guitar solos. The AD900X has just enough more bass too add an AWESOME weighty crunch to the distorted guitar riffs. They REALLY HAMMER at your ears!

 

Matisyahu- [Live At Stubb’s]- Exaltation

          Live Reggae –listening for the little bits of extra noise that are often present in live music [detail retention]

 

Highs- The upper most notes of the guitar are a little too crisp and energetic, while the drums are excellent, the guitar could be a little smoother.

Mids- Vocals and the guitar have good tone, but lack slightly in body.  A little to much edge and attack.

Bass- Too lean, the bass is too tight and lean. While the punch of the bass is nice, the lack of decay really takes away from some of the mood of the Reggae riddim!

While both maintain the details well, the AD900x  here is too tight again with the bass, and the upper notes of the guitar riffs are much smoother and nicer on the DT 880. Again the AD900x is just a touch to lean and aggressive for Reggae, I miss the balance of the DT 880.

 

 

 

Conclusion  AD900X vs Dt 880

 

The AD900X has a slightly larger sound stage and a little more edge to it, with an aggressive  textured bass, yet with a nice  delicate body in it’s mids.  

 

The Dt 880, has a slightly narrower but deeper sound stage, a tad more natural timbre and a slightly smoother yet equally detailed sound.


Edited by Mshenay - 9/18/13 at 4:59am
post #3 of 24

Sub'ed

post #4 of 24

Good luck. 

post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xkonfuzed View Post
 

Good luck. 

 

I know >.>  going to finish up the t 880 review then start on filling out this thread 

post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 

Good and bad news, my review tracks just changed. The new Chesky album is Binural and Jazz dang it, that's just the perfect combo of refrance track elements!  And it's a good album! 

post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 

Bump going to finish my Dt 880 review, post it here then start the K550 and Sound Magic Reviews [again'st the Dt 880 as it's my refrance can] 

 

THEN going to compare the K550 the Hp 100 and Ath A900x to each other, based on how they perform on the go and at home, 

 

Will do the same for the two opens

 

So look forward to individuals with the Dt 880 as refrance 

 

Look forward to a comparison of the 3 closed cans only again'st each other

 

and look forward to a little blurb about the Dt 880 and 990 

post #8 of 24
Ooooh this is gonna be good
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EuphonicArin View Post

Ooooh this is gonna be good

 

I hope as this is pretty much my ENTIRE day today... I'm in hour 4 of this long process 

 

Even made an epic Avatar [using my own picture] 

post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 

Dt 880 is LIVE

 

k550 

 

audiotechnica ath a900x Individuals are Live 

 

Starting the Sound Magic Hp 100 Individual now 


Edited by Mshenay - 9/9/13 at 12:43pm
post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 

Beyer Dt 990 vs dt 880 live 

post #12 of 24

Looking forward to hearing about the soundmagics! 

post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 

Mini review on the Ath a900x, k550 and Sound Magic HP 100 

post #14 of 24

Are you going to add HE-400 to the list too? ;)  Interesting, since I think that it's very different sounding than all those cans beside A900X (since I haven't heard it yet).

post #15 of 24

Hey this is cool.  Just a small critique, I find the text on the 880 review really hard to read.  But anyway, nice job, I'll be following this.

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