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Audiophiles - Listening to music or to gear? - Page 2

post #16 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post
 

I thought it would have been given that we all knew more expensive gear is not necessarily better gear.  Audiophiles are searching for things that are subjectively better to their personal tastes.

Yeah but you wrote "better performance through more and more expensive gear"... When I read performance I think of objective measures like FPS, max frame time, energy consumption or frequency response, SNR, THD ...

 

Exactly, most audiophiles don't care about such performance. They go by gut feeling, because they don't even do controlled listening tests.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muinarc View Post

Yet you will still find plenty of PC enthusiasts saying AMD cards have better color reproduction than Nvidia cards, and I have seen tests (mostly inconclusive) that try to prove this point.

Different (post)processing leads to different images, just like adding a crossfeed or EQ or compressor in your player changes the sound. All both measurable and perceivable (even in a blind test).


Edited by xnor - 12/19/13 at 4:01pm
post #17 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muinarc View Post

Yet you will still find plenty of PC enthusiasts saying AMD cards have better color reproduction than Nvidia cards, and I have seen tests (mostly inconclusive) that try to prove this point.

Actually I think this isn't impossible depend on the use case.. (think of things like hardware built-in deinterlacing, scaling algorithm etc.)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post
 

Yeah but you wrote "better performance through more and more expensive gear"... When I read performance I think of objective measures like FPS, max frame time, energy consumption or frequency response, SNR, THD ...

 

Exactly, most audiophiles don't care about such performance. They go by gut feeling, because they don't even do controlled listening tests.

 

High-end headphones from serious manufacturers like Stax, Sennheiser, Fostex, Hifiman, Audeze do measure well... and I guess most DACs and SS amps measure well too (and often higher prices do reflect in higher quality components), though audibility is another question. But as you may know, doing controlled listening tests is boring... And sound quality isn't necessarily the only metrics to consider, there are also factors like features set, real usage flexibility, stability, durability, etc.

 

 

 

By the way, I don't think the two in OP's question are necessarily mutual exclusive.


Edited by kn19h7 - 12/20/13 at 6:40am
post #18 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by kn19h7 View Post
 

High-end headphones from serious manufacturers like Stax, Sennheiser, Fostex, Hifiman, Audeze do measure well... and I guess most DACs and SS amps measure well too (and often higher prices do reflect in higher quality components), though audibility is another question. But as you may know, doing controlled listening tests is boring... And sound quality isn't necessarily the only metrics to consider, there are also factors like features set, real usage flexibility, stability, durability, etc.

 

How do you know they measure well, do you have Stax, Audeze measurements?

Sennheiser's HDVD800 has 44 ohm output impedance...

Hifiman EF 6 (€ 1,600) has a noise floor at the headphone jack that is only 75 dB down... harmonic distortion is worse than a €25 FiiO E02L or E12 or E17.

V-Moda Vamp Verza (€ 600) has an even worse noise floor at -70 dB.

Fostex HP-P1 (€ 625) has a 12 ohm output impedance with the 3rd harmonic at -65 dB at 1V output.

Beyerdynamic A20 has a 100 ohm output impedance.

Cayin HA-1A (€ 1,000) has a noise floor of -70 dB and struggles to output over 0.7 V into 32 ohm.

Eternal Arts (€ 2,750) struggles to output 0.5 V into 32 ohm at like 2% THD with 80 dB SNR.

 

 

I don't consider any of that as measuring well.

 

Higher prices absolutely do not mean higher sound quality. (IIRC, even Tyll said something along the line: "higher price does not correlate with higher sound quality" regarding headphones.)

There may be some more expensive "quality" parts used, but parts themselves rarely matter in the overall design/performance. (For some audiophiles the op-amp model or whatever may indeed matter. Gives them a fuzzy feeling when they know the part cost $2 instead of $0.50)

 

Sure, sound quality isn't the only metric to consider, but that (well, subjectively judged sound quality) is what audiophiles are mainly considering. Who cares if doing proper listening tests is boring? Doing computer hardware benchmarks like calculating pi or running Furmark is not entertaining either, actually far from it.

 

DACs.. well I immediately have to think of the NuForce uDAC-2 that clips everything coming close to 0 dBFS (causing a raise in distortion to like 10%).


Edited by xnor - 12/20/13 at 9:09am
post #19 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post
 

 

How do you know they measure well, do you have Stax, Audeze measurements?

You can find measurements on website liike innerfidelity, goldenears etc.

 

Sennheiser's HDVD800 has 44 ohm output impedance...

Hifiman EF 6 (€ 1,600) has a noise floor at the headphone jack that is only 75 dB down... harmonic distortion is worse than a €25 FiiO E02L or E12 or E17.

V-Moda Vamp Verza (€ 600) has an even worse noise floor at -70 dB.

Fostex HP-P1 (€ 625) has a 12 ohm output impedance with the 3rd harmonic at -65 dB at 1V output.

Beyerdynamic A20 has a 100 ohm output impedance.

Cayin HA-1A (€ 1,000) has a noise floor of -70 dB and struggles to output over 0.7 V into 32 ohm.

Eternal Arts (€ 2,750) struggles to output 0.5 V into 32 ohm at like 2% THD with 80 dB SNR.

 


I don't consider any of that as measuring well.

Apparently those are examples that measure badly.. There are also things on brighter side like Violectric, Headamp, Audio-gd, Bryston, Auralic, etc.

 

 

Higher prices absolutely do not mean higher sound quality. (IIRC, even Tyll said something along the line: "higher price does not correlate with higher sound quality" regarding headphones.)

There may be some more expensive "quality" parts used, but parts themselves rarely matter in the overall design/performance. (For some audiophiles the op-amp model or whatever may indeed matter. Gives them a fuzzy feeling when they know the part cost $2 instead of $0.50)

Higher prices don't necessarily means higher quality, I definitely agree. But most of the time, great stuffs don't come cheap as well.

I think it depends on the person for what really "matters", like to me, components like potentiometer, PSU, USB receiver, etc, matters. But those with mindset of 'price = sum of parts' should really go DIY route, apparently commercial world don't and never will work this way.

 

Sure, sound quality isn't the only metric to consider, but that (well, subjectively judged sound quality) is what audiophiles are mainly considering. Who cares if doing proper listening tests is boring? Doing computer hardware benchmarks like calculating pi or running Furmark is not entertaining either, actually far from it.

Well, those are examples of what I would consider when evaluating a product, I can't say for others sure.

Hardware benchmarks can be done with few mouseclicks or even automation.. Listening test demands full concentration.

 

DACs.. well I immediately have to think of the NuForce uDAC-2 that clips everything coming close to 0 dBFS (causing a raise in distortion to like 10%).

Cmon... why don't look at things on the brighter side


Edited by kn19h7 - 12/20/13 at 5:08pm
post #20 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by kn19h7 View Post
 

Actually I think this isn't impossible depend on the use case.. (think of things like hardware built-in deinterlacing, scaling algorithm etc.)

 

High-end headphones from serious manufacturers like Stax, Sennheiser, Fostex, Hifiman, Audeze do measure well... and I guess most DACs and SS amps measure well too (and often higher prices do reflect in higher quality components), though audibility is another question. But as you may know, doing controlled listening tests is boring... And sound quality isn't necessarily the only metrics to consider, there are also factors like features set, real usage flexibility, stability, durability, etc.

 

 

 

By the way, I don't think the two in OP's question are necessarily mutual exclusive.

Careful now when you bring up them measuring well. Stax, the current flagship orthos, and the Sennheiser HD800 have my respect as flagships. They've overcome serious engineering challenges to get to the point where they're at. I'd content that the high-end headphones from serious manufacturers do not always measure well -- in fact, they often measure very poorly.

 

The AKG K812 has treble resonances all up in the lower and upper treble ranges. Their bass distortion is very high for a flagship headphone. They have treble distortion so high that it would definitely be audible, given how high the %s are. It looks like they failed to handle a housing resonance, giving all the resonances up near 3khz-6khz (nobody has measured the housing yet, so who knows which of those spikes is actually the housing resonance). I'll give them credit for tamping the headphone pad resonance near 70khz, but there are a ton of not good measurements from this flagship. The frequency response almost makes me think that they tried to do a bit of an engineering hack and move the resonances around to fill in gaps in the FR.

 

The Beyerdynamic T1 has similar issues -- massive distortion in the lower treble frequencies, high enough to be audible. Significant dips in the upper treble range, suggeesting some mad housing resonances going on that were not being properly damped. The insides of the headphone show little damping attempts, leaving the modders to add additional damping... to a flagship to help control its resonances. 

 

The Shure SRH1840? Just look at the distortion figures -- those are worse than $10 headphones. Reviews from people I respect in terms of reviewing suggested that they sounded very low-fi as a result. That's why this $800 headphone is now $500 everyday -- and I wouldn't even pay that.

 

The Audeze LCD-2 went through tons of revisions and had tons of very different measuring headphones. They had some big QC issues... from a flagship model. They couldn't nail down model-to-model consistency on a $1k+ unit! I would expect better for my money.

 

The Sennheiser HD700 debuted at $1k+ while barely measuring better than the HD600. The sound signature ticked off a ton of audiophiles. It was so bad, Tyll @ InnerFidelity called it the biggest disappointment of the year. Measurement sites slammed it. That's why this $1000 headphone is now a $550 every day price headphone.

 

The Grado flagships haven't been impressive since Joe Grado was designing them. They're like the SR60i... except a little better.

 

Ultrasone? Ultrasone.

 

Let's face it -- the majority of headphone companies pumping out kilobuck headphones are underengineering their headphones compared to the true flagships. Price doesn't correlate to performance at all when you get to this point. Headphone design issues which have been solved in headphones as cheap as the DT990 ($150), HD600 ($300), or even the amateur T50RP modders remain unresolved in many kilobuck headphones available today. And that's very sad.

 

---------------

 

To qualify what I would consider being "flagship measurement performance," EVERY single checkbox must be checked here.

 

1. Bass linearity of +-5 dB from 20hz to 100hz.

2. 100dB distortion should not exceed 1% beyond the sub-bass frequencies.

3. 100dB distortion should not exceed 3% in the sub-bass frequencies.

4. Frequency response curve should be very smooth with any resonances being very minor -- no major dips.

5. Very small to absolutely no love bump at 70hz-150hz. This suggests a well engineered headphone pad.

6. Air-level treble should be no more than -15dB relative to the upper treble frequencies.

7. No "wiggle" in the impedance graph.

8. Nearly perfect channel balance.

 

I might think of more measurement criteria later.


Edited by SanjiWatsuki - 12/20/13 at 8:12pm
post #21 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by SanjiWatsuki View Post
 

Careful now when you bring up them measuring well. Stax, the current flagship orthos, and the Sennheiser HD800 have my respect as flagships. They've overcome serious engineering challenges to get to the point where they're at. I'd content that the high-end headphones from serious manufacturers do not always measure well -- in fact, they often measure very poorly.

 

The AKG K812 has treble resonances all up in the lower and upper treble ranges. Their bass distortion is very high for a flagship headphone. They have treble distortion so high that it would definitely be audible, given how high the %s are. It looks like they failed to handle a housing resonance, giving all the resonances up near 3khz-6khz (nobody has measured the housing yet, so who knows which of those spikes is actually the housing resonance). I'll give them credit for tamping the headphone pad resonance near 70khz, but there are a ton of not good measurements from this flagship. The frequency response almost makes me think that they tried to do a bit of an engineering hack and move the resonances around to fill in gaps in the FR.

 

The Beyerdynamic T1 has similar issues -- massive distortion in the lower treble frequencies, high enough to be audible. Significant dips in the upper treble range, suggeesting some mad housing resonances going on that were not being properly damped. The insides of the headphone show little damping attempts, leaving the modders to add additional damping... to a flagship to help control its resonances. 

 

The Shure SRH1840? Just look at the distortion figures -- those are worse than $10 headphones. Reviews from people I respect in terms of reviewing suggested that they sounded very low-fi as a result. That's why this $800 headphone is now $500 everyday -- and I wouldn't even pay that.

 

The Audeze LCD-2 went through tons of revisions and had tons of very different measuring headphones. They had some big QC issues... from a flagship model. They couldn't nail down model-to-model consistency on a $1k+ unit! I would expect better for my money.

 

The Sennheiser HD700 debuted at $1k+ while barely measuring better than the HD600. The sound signature ticked off a ton of audiophiles. It was so bad, Tyll @ InnerFidelity called it the biggest disappointment of the year. Measurement sites slammed it. That's why this $1000 headphone is now a $550 every day price headphone.

 

The Grado flagships haven't been impressive since Joe Grado was designing them. They're like the SR60i... except a little better.

 

Ultrasone? Ultrasone.

 

Let's face it -- the majority of headphone companies pumping out kilobuck headphones are underengineering their headphones compared to the true flagships. Price doesn't correlate to performance at all when you get to this point. Headphone design issues which have been solved in headphones as cheap as the DT990 ($150), HD600 ($300), or even the amateur T50RP modders remain unresolved in many kilobuck headphones available today. And that's very sad.


And you think there isn't any reason that I didn't include most of those in my list? :P

 

Audeze has their problems I agree, in fact personally I don't like them... just generally I think their product can be good. And HD700? lets ignore it.

 

I wasn't trying to say price reflects performance, my point is that there are expensive but great products. The examples you listed are not bad, but I want better.

 

I think the saddest part is in the DAP market.. have been waiting so long for a serious product like the recent Sony ZX1


Edited by kn19h7 - 12/20/13 at 8:34pm
post #22 of 46

equally, "musicians, listening to music or technical performance of musicians?".

 

reading music reviews by musicians you'll hear for example "this music is pretty good. the guitarist is one of the best i've heard but the drummer is pretty average", but they'll saynothing about how the music affected them. I've noticed too after starting to play instruments I often find it difficult to listen just to the sounds and not to what the musicians are doing. 

 

And since buying mid-fi headphonesI'm definitely listening for clarity in the music instead of just listening.

 

I think it just makes it harder to immerse yourself in the music but it's not impossible.

post #23 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by kn19h7 View Post

 

You can find measurements on website liike innerfidelity, goldenears etc.

I haven't seen Stax amp measurements. Audeze doesn't seem to have their own amps, they just sell ALO tube stuff (just the PanAm afaik).

 

edit: Oh you meant headphones. Well, yeah, some headphones are quite good actually, others are just abysmal (Ultrasone Ed10 for example).

edit2: SanjiWatsuki summarized it pretty well.

 

 

Quote:
Apparently those are examples that measure badly.. There are also things on brighter side like Violectric, Headamp, Audio-gd, Bryston, Auralic, etc.

Should I continue with my list?

 

ALO PanAm specs the frequency response starting at 40 Hz (hopefully only -3 dB!), and 1% THD+N (with no mention under what circumstances, so could be a lot higher in real world usage). As it uses tubes, this is no surprise. No mention of output power.

The International (ALO) has a phase wrap at 1 kHz.

Grace M903, at least Tyll's model, had a noise problem (noise floor at -8x dB unweighted).

The Firestone models Tyll tested (Fireye, Fubar HD) measured badly: low output power or high noise, harmonic and intermodulation distortion.

The Headamp Pico is ok, the Slim and BitHead less so (limited output power, IMD).

 

I'd love to see Audio-GD measurements.

 

The Auralic Taurus (€ 1800) is comparable to an O2: a bit higher output voltage (+1 dB into 600 ohm, +4 dB into 32 ohm), but also higher output impedance (2.2 ohm). Sure, it measures a lot better than previous examples, but is it really worth € 1800? Specs also say input sensitivity is 4Vrms, so you might actually get lower output than from an O2 with tuned gain and a standard 2Vrms source. I don't know how high the noise floor is.

 

Bryston BHA-1 (€ 1600) is similar to the Taurus, with 87 dB SNR, ~6 ohm output impedance, but 3 dB higher output voltage.

If you really need that amount of power why not get a nice NAD power amp for a fraction of that cost (€ 350)?

 

Leaves us with Violectric. I only have measurements of the V181 here (€ 850) from audio/stereoplay.de. With 4.7 V output into 600 ohm, 1.3 ohm measured output impedance an O2 beats this hands down.

 

 

Quote:
Higher prices don't necessarily means higher quality, I definitely agree. But most of the time, great stuffs don't come cheap as well.

I think it depends on the person for what really "matters", like to me, components like potentiometer, PSU, USB receiver, etc, matters. But those with mindset of 'price = sum of parts' should really go DIY route, apparently commercial world don't and never will work this way.

Indeed, some high fidelity devices do in fact come with cheap transistors and some supposedly high-end DIY devices that are crap come with most expensive op-amps or whatever.

That's when the DIY designers follow the "expensive parts must be good" myth blindly without measuring actual performance. Even if the parts themselves are good doesn't guarantee that the overall implementation makes any use of the part's superb performance.

 

I follow a much more pragmatic approach. I don't care what op-amps or transistors or caps or .. are inside of a device just like I don't care about the number of transistors or shader units or ... in a graphics card. What I care about is the actual overall performance.

 

 

Quote:

Well, those are examples of what I would consider when evaluating a product, I can't say for others sure.

Hardware benchmarks can be done with few mouseclicks or even automation.. Listening test demands full concentration.

Comparing apples with oranges here. 

A look at hardware measurements takes as much concentration and time as a look at audio devices or headphone measurements.

I'd also argue, that in depth graphics card benchmarks with lots of different games, configurations, benchmarks ... take more time than let's say headphone amp measurements.

 

Blind testing is very uncommon with computer hardware since people there don't insist on invisible magical properties but rely on measurements. Doing a blind test between different graphics cards would not be less time consuming than between two headphone amps or DACs or even headphones.

 

 

Quote:
 Cmon... why don't look at things on the brighter side

Why, did NuForce fix the defect in the last ~3 years?

 

I leave the sugarcoating to others. :tongue: 

If the audio industry were anything like the computer hardware industry we'd see better and cheaper components each year. Instead we see more expensive devices with sometimes a large step backwards in performance.


Edited by xnor - 12/21/13 at 9:57am
post #24 of 46

For every stereotype there is someone who fits it, so I'm sure there are “purely gear obsessed” audiophiles out there, but for the most part I find there is a lot of snobbery in the idea that you are somehow a better person if you “listen to music, not the gear.”

 

Let's get a few things clear. First of all, no one “listens to gear”: people listen to sound. Second, what are the elements of music? There are many, but three important one are pitches, rhythms, and timbres. (I can make my point by discussing just these, although there is more to music.)

 

Pitches and rhythms come through clearly even on iPod ear buds. Timbre depends more on the gear, but you can get a fair idea at any quality level. When someone says, “I care about the music, not the gear,” what they mean is: “I care about the features of music that are audible without needing high-end equipment.” For instance, they care about things like pitches and rhythms. (Of course, they aren't breaking down the music into pitches and rhythms while they listen; they hear the whole effect.)

 

Now consider this. When I attended a concert of Hilary Hahn performing Bach on a Stradivarius violin, her sound quality was amazing. It was beyond enjoyment. Could I have this transcendent experience at a lower quality level (for instance if I was standing outside and listening through the doors)? Of course not. Does that mean I “don't care about the music?” It seems beyond ridiculous to assert that.

 

Moreover, there is not a hard distinction between timbre, pitch, and rhythm. When I talk about her “sound quality,” one feature of that was her timbre, but the overall effect was made through all the elements combined. You can't extract one element and say it has an independent existence.

 

Was Stradivarius himself less of a music lover because he focused on the sound quality of his violins and not on making pitches and rhythms himself? Again, beyond ridiculous to assert that.

 

So I think my point is obvious. Good gear improves the accuracy of the timbre and the clarity of the pitches and rhythms. For many people, that makes the music more enjoyable. Some of those people care so much about this enjoyment that they spend a lot of time buying, testing, and modding gear. Just like Stradavarius spent a lot of time perfecting violins.

post #25 of 46

To be honest, on my B&W P5 i'm just listening to the music. But then I get annoyed about the lack of details and poor mid range and soundstage in comparison to my higher end headphones. I didn't have this problem when the B&W P5 was my best headphone. 


Edited by ubs28 - 12/21/13 at 2:22pm
post #26 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by SanjiWatsuki View Post
 

Careful now when you bring up them measuring well. Stax, the current flagship orthos, and the Sennheiser HD800 have my respect as flagships. They've overcome serious engineering challenges to get to the point where they're at. I'd content that the high-end headphones from serious manufacturers do not always measure well -- in fact, they often measure very poorly.

 

The AKG K812 has treble resonances all up in the lower and upper treble ranges. Their bass distortion is very high for a flagship headphone. They have treble distortion so high that it would definitely be audible, given how high the %s are. It looks like they failed to handle a housing resonance, giving all the resonances up near 3khz-6khz (nobody has measured the housing yet, so who knows which of those spikes is actually the housing resonance). I'll give them credit for tamping the headphone pad resonance near 70khz, but there are a ton of not good measurements from this flagship. The frequency response almost makes me think that they tried to do a bit of an engineering hack and move the resonances around to fill in gaps in the FR.

 

The Beyerdynamic T1 has similar issues -- massive distortion in the lower treble frequencies, high enough to be audible. Significant dips in the upper treble range, suggeesting some mad housing resonances going on that were not being properly damped. The insides of the headphone show little damping attempts, leaving the modders to add additional damping... to a flagship to help control its resonances. 

 

The Shure SRH1840? Just look at the distortion figures -- those are worse than $10 headphones. Reviews from people I respect in terms of reviewing suggested that they sounded very low-fi as a result. That's why this $800 headphone is now $500 everyday -- and I wouldn't even pay that.

 

The Audeze LCD-2 went through tons of revisions and had tons of very different measuring headphones. They had some big QC issues... from a flagship model. They couldn't nail down model-to-model consistency on a $1k+ unit! I would expect better for my money.

 

The Sennheiser HD700 debuted at $1k+ while barely measuring better than the HD600. The sound signature ticked off a ton of audiophiles. It was so bad, Tyll @ InnerFidelity called it the biggest disappointment of the year. Measurement sites slammed it. That's why this $1000 headphone is now a $550 every day price headphone.

 

The Grado flagships haven't been impressive since Joe Grado was designing them. They're like the SR60i... except a little better.

 

Ultrasone? Ultrasone.

 

Let's face it -- the majority of headphone companies pumping out kilobuck headphones are underengineering their headphones compared to the true flagships. Price doesn't correlate to performance at all when you get to this point. Headphone design issues which have been solved in headphones as cheap as the DT990 ($150), HD600 ($300), or even the amateur T50RP modders remain unresolved in many kilobuck headphones available today. And that's very sad.

 

---------------

 

To qualify what I would consider being "flagship measurement performance," EVERY single checkbox must be checked here.

 

1. Bass linearity of +-5 dB from 20hz to 100hz.

2. 100dB distortion should not exceed 1% beyond the sub-bass frequencies.

3. 100dB distortion should not exceed 3% in the sub-bass frequencies.

4. Frequency response curve should be very smooth with any resonances being very minor -- no major dips.

5. Very small to absolutely no love bump at 70hz-150hz. This suggests a well engineered headphone pad.

6. Air-level treble should be no more than -15dB relative to the upper treble frequencies.

7. No "wiggle" in the impedance graph.

8. Nearly perfect channel balance.

 

I might think of more measurement criteria later.

 

So people adding tubes in their chain makes their signal sound more low-fi? Also a lot of professional producers add analog gear to their chain because they don't like the sterile clean sound which doesn't have the harmonic distortion. 

post #27 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by ubs28 View Post
 

 

So people adding tubes in their chain makes their signal sound more low-fi? Also a lot of professional producers add analog gear to their chain because they don't like the sterile clean sound which doesn't have the harmonic distortion. 

I don't even know where amplifiers and analog gear was even mentioned in the post. The amount of distortion added by a typical tube amp relative to an SS amp is an order of magnitude lower than the distortion added by a headphone.

post #28 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by SanjiWatsuki View Post
 

I don't even know where amplifiers and analog gear was even mentioned in the post. The amount of distortion added by a typical tube amp relative to an SS amp is an order of magnitude lower than the distortion added by a headphone.

I'm just saying that people add harmonic distortion in their chain to make it sound better (also in professional use), hence I'm just saying that harmonic distortion doesn't necessary result into a low-fi sound.

post #29 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post
 

I haven't seen Stax amp measurements. Audeze doesn't seem to have their own amps, they just sell ALO tube stuff (just the PanAm afaik).

 

edit: Oh you meant headphones. Well, yeah, some headphones are quite good actually, others are just abysmal (Ultrasone Ed10 for example).

edit2: SanjiWatsuki summarized it pretty well.

Apparently I didn't include those in my list..

 

Should I continue with my list?

 

ALO PanAm specs the frequency response starting at 40 Hz (hopefully only -3 dB!), and 1% THD+N (with no mention under what circumstances, so could be a lot higher in real world usage). As it uses tubes, this is no surprise. No mention of output power.

The International (ALO) has a phase wrap at 1 kHz.

Grace M903, at least Tyll's model, had a noise problem (noise floor at -8x dB unweighted).

The Firestone models Tyll tested (Fireye, Fubar HD) measured badly: low output power or high noise, harmonic and intermodulation distortion.

The Headamp Pico is ok, the Slim and BitHead less so (limited output power, IMD).

Isn't PanAm a tube amp? (I said "SS Amps" as I never understand tube amps) I don't care much for the above products anyway.

 

I'd love to see Audio-GD measurements.

 

The Auralic Taurus (€ 1800) is comparable to an O2: a bit higher output voltage (+1 dB into 600 ohm, +4 dB into 32 ohm), but also higher output impedance (2.2 ohm). Sure, it measures a lot better than previous examples, but is it really worth € 1800? Specs also say input sensitivity is 4Vrms, so you might actually get lower output than from an O2 with tuned gain and a standard 2Vrms source. I don't know how high the noise floor is.

 

Bryston BHA-1 (€ 1600) is similar to the Taurus, with 87 dB SNR, ~6 ohm output impedance, but 3 dB higher output voltage.

If you really need that amount of power why not get a nice NAD power amp for a fraction of that cost (€ 350)?

 

Leaves us with Violectric. I only have measurements of the V181 here (€ 850) from audio/stereoplay.de. With 4.7 V output into 600 ohm, 1.3 ohm measured output impedance an O2 beats this hands down.

 

Orz I don't want to start on O2...

For most I can only comment based on information I managed to find on their websites and online, at least those brands I listed seem like serious business to me. Nitpicking on already low enough output impedance values doesn't seem very meaningful to me... There are other important metrics like FR, channel balance etc. And at least for BHA-1 your data is very different from mine. I have one and it came with an individual measurement cert, unweighted SNR is about -107~109db for both channels, and THD+N is about 0.001~0.003%. Output impedance is listed as 2ohm per opamp, which means 2ohm for single-ended output and 4ohm for balance output.

 

Indeed, some high fidelity devices do in fact come with cheap transistors and some supposedly high-end DIY devices that are crap come with most expensive op-amps or whatever.

That's when the DIY designers follow the "expensive parts must be good" myth blindly without measuring actual performance. Even if the parts themselves are good doesn't guarantee that the overall implementation makes any use of the part's superb performance.

 

I follow a much more pragmatic approach. I don't care what op-amps or transistors or caps or .. are inside of a device just like I don't care about the number of transistors or shader units or ... in a graphics card. What I care about is the actual overall performance.

Apparently people can have different concerns... you have yours, I have mine. At least to me there are other aspects to consider beside measured performance and I am willing to pay for that.

 

 

Comparing apples with oranges here. 

A look at hardware measurements takes as much concentration and time as a look at audio devices or headphone measurements.

I'd also argue, that in depth graphics card benchmarks with lots of different games, configurations, benchmarks ... take more time than let's say headphone amp measurements.

I said, LISTENING TEST demands full concentration (Did you ever try? I know I did.), not graph starring... Hardware Benchmarking may take long time, but the actual effort required from human operator is very low and simple. And this whole apples with oranges thing is brought up by yourself...

 

Blind testing is very uncommon with computer hardware since people there don't insist on invisible magical properties but rely on measurements. Doing a blind test between different graphics cards would not be less time consuming than between two headphone amps or DACs or even headphones.

Well actually I don't know what blind tests to do with graphic cards...

Audio is somewhat different that its more analog based, each number/graph measurement tells you different aspects of the performance but not everything. Similar case in computer hardware is perhaps display monitor, where one needs to actually take photos to compare certain performance metrics.

 

Why, did NuForce fix the defect in the last ~3 years?

 

I leave the sugarcoating to others. :tongue: 

If the audio industry were anything like the computer hardware industry we'd see better and cheaper components each year. Instead we see more expensive devices with sometimes a large step backwards in performance.

???

Computer hardware market is filled with fancy expensive rubbish too, so as most if not all commercial markets. Actually I don't quite understand why you are so negative on audio equipments... I don't see less problem in computer hardware industry anyway


Edited by kn19h7 - 12/21/13 at 4:35pm
post #30 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by ubs28 View Post
 

I'm just saying that people add harmonic distortion in their chain to make it sound better (also in professional use), hence I'm just saying that harmonic distortion doesn't necessary result into a low-fi sound.

There's a difference between adding 0.1% THD+N and introducing 10% THD+N, though.

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