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Qualia 010 and R10 initial comparison

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 
I’ve been listening to these headphones side by side for the last week and have some initial impressions of the Qualia 010 headphones VS. the Sony R10’s.

Both the R10’s and the Qualia 010 headphones are some of the finest dynamic headphones in existence. This is the impression that you get when you listen to them for an extended period of time. Yes, you do have to live with these headphones to become intimately acquainted. Both of these headphones compliment each other in many ways, and in some sonic qualities they sound similar.

The R10’s:

The R10’s offer the listener such an involving experience that it can only be improved with the actual performance right in the same room with you. The mid range and tone is king on these headphones. The bass can be very good with the proper amplification, but in most cases the bass response is challenging to get right. Soundstage is wide open, with instrument separation and positioning like no other headphones can create. The tonal quality of the R10’s is what makes them so involving. The rich texture, and refinement to the sound just draws you in and won’t let go until the CD finishes. Refined and supremely musical is the only way to properly describe the experience.

The Qualia 010 headphones on the other hand are much faster in resolving audio information fed into them. These headphones are fast, very fast. The mids and highs are pristine and have all the detail that you could possibly imagine. The lower registers are all there with the right amplification. At fist listen, the 010’s may sound a little thin, but with the right tubes and tuning the 010 can have so much bass that the headphones will actually vibrate to the bass response (modified a headphone amp to make the bass extreme). The tonal qualities the 010’s may seem analytical, and they really benefit from tube amplification to make them sound just right. The soundstage is nice and wide with good instrument placement, yet the R10’s just have better instrument separation in general.

The soundstage is wide with either of these headphones. The initial impression that you get when you put the Qualia 010’s on is that some aspects of the sound are similar to the R10’s, because it takes some mental adjustment to listen to either headphone. But, given some listening time, the differences become very apparent. The 010s are very open and extend, the soundstage is far beyond the normal perceived range that you get with any other headphones. Lots of similarities to the Stax Omega’s are apparent even from an initial listen to the 010’s. The speed is incredible and the high frequency extension is excellent. Given that the 010’s are so extended and extremely fast, yet analytical a bit, a set of tubes that produce mountains of tonal addition to the sound, and tube warmth are needed. I initially listed to both headphones with a Ken-Rad VT-231 and two Sylvania VT-231’s as output tubes on the Supra. This produced too much detail and not enough tonal refinement with the 010’s, but this combo is great with the R10’s. After some experimentation, I settled on the Tung-Sol round plate tube, and two Sylvania 6SN7W tubes. This combo is excellent with the 010’s. This tube complement adds lots of additional tonal goodness and smoothness that the 010’s really crave. The sound finally draws you into the music and gets that last bit of analytical sound replaced with an organic sound.

Overall, the 010’s are very good, detailed headphones. They represent a shift in Sony’s approach to the flagship headphones. It seems that they were aiming at very fast dynamics, a high level of detail, and a sonic signature that screams high-tech. In comparison, the R10’s are still the king of tone, and musicality. They are like a Stradivarius violin, whereas the Qualia 010’s are like a high performance digital instrument. This analytical sonic signature of the 010’s is one of the reasons that they go very well with tubes. They really require a good dose of smoothing and tonal adjustment to make them really sing. And, sing they will with right set-up.

Which ones do I prefer? They are different enough to warrant keeping both, but if I had a choice of only one pair, the R10’s would be it.

More impressions to come…..
post #2 of 65
wow, terrific review. While my experience with the R-10 has been just enough for me to love it, your impressions left me with a good feeling/understanding of both phones.

now if only a pair of each would show up at my door...or maybe ill have to just move to Colorado, New York, the UK, or next door to Nik to find out...
post #3 of 65
awesome! now we finally get some more dirt on the 010s!
post #4 of 65
Will your stock amps like the Supra, MPX3, or SDS give you enough bass from the 010 with out tuning the amp directly for the phones? And, if you do tune the amps for the 010 will the bass be overpowering with something like the HD650?
I know the SDS-XLR your building me will have awesome bass. Will it be able to get the bass I like out of the 010? (I am a basshead)
post #5 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikhail
After some experimentation, I settled on the Tung-Sol round plate tube, and two Sylvania 6SN7W tubes. This combo is excellent with the 010’s.
I need to get some of those.
post #6 of 65
This is the most helpful comparison of these two flagship headphones I've read to date. And the information about the tubes which, to your ear, bring out the goodness of each is really a great touch. Thanks very much!!!
post #7 of 65
Nice work Mikhail! Seems like the Qualia might be my holy grail of headphones, to lust for until I finish my law degree!
post #8 of 65
This review would be useful if I had plenty of money. Now instead all you've done is given me something else to lust over.

Thanks a ton.
post #9 of 65
Thanks for that comparison. The 010 looks more and more like it's right up my street, although I have solid-state plans for it. I'm looking forward to receiving them, hopefully soon.
post #10 of 65
[QUOTE=Mikhail]I’ve been listening to these headphones side by side for the last week and have some initial impressions of the Qualia 010 headphones VS. the Sony R10’s.

(...).

QUOTE]

Very good test, thanks!

1 question: wich source did you use for this test?

2 question: which one of the two cans are the most neutral, or better most near to the real recording event?

3 question: did you hear any hiss with the 010 with that tube amp?

4 question: what is "musicality" or "warm"? Something we need to add for a most pleasure sound?

5 question: what about confort of the two headphones?

6 question: what about the medbass of the two?

End of the questions.

My opinion:

I'm not so agree with you about the instrument separation: I think the 010 has more, even for the soundstage. The R10 do all "inside" a room, (as a good closed can), when the 010 do all in air, like normally is.

I'm not agree about a tube amp for the 010, I think very difficult to do something really silent (sensitivity of the can).

I think better a SS amp for the Qualia and a good tube amp for the R10 that goes in the same direction of a warm and lush sound. This is just my opinion: if you have a tipycal personality of headphone you must respect that and you cannot to go in another direction with the driver. Not necessary the SS amp sound not "musical", just neutral.

Another VERY IMPORTANT thing about the Qualia is (IMO) when you have the impression of a thin sound, is just because you are listening with too much low volume, give one only step more and you will see. The can need power and sounds loud even with a low volume, you have the impression of a loud sound ... but the can need more.

The last question: what we are looking for? The most pleasure system? (We do not need to have a R10 for this...) or the most neutral and hi-fi system, this is not so easy to find...

Best!
Nicola
post #11 of 65
If you're after smoothness try a TS RP in front of a pair of NU grey glass.
post #12 of 65
Nik is right about the volume- the 010 is a truly efficient phone. I reached my normal listening level at 8 O'Clock on the Solo, a truly low volume level on my amp. In contrast, the HP-1000 was at 11 O'Clock before I found a comfortable listening level. If I pumped the 010 to 9 O'Clock, I actually heard bass for the first time on these cans lol. Yes, the Solo is solid state and the 010 redefines the acronym "PRaT" - Pace, Rhythm, and Timing was matchless. Also, it might be attributable to burn in, but the 010 was more involving and more organic than my first impressions of it last month. I wanted Gwen Stefani as my concubine when I heard the 010 through the "Pinkie" Solo and the "Tushi" 3960. I really had a great time today with the 010 and the K1000 on my rig, and left the amazing Grados to Bozebutton's rig (SACD1000 and Modded Melos) to sound amazing.
post #13 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jahn
Nik is right about the volume- the 010 is a truly efficient phone. I reached my normal listening level at 8 O'Clock on the Solo, a truly low volume level on my amp. In contrast, the HP-1000 was at 11 O'Clock before I found a comfortable listening level. If I pumped the 010 to 9 O'Clock, I actually heard bass for the first time on these cans lol. Yes, the Solo is solid state and the 010 redefines the acronym "PRaT" - Pace, Rhythm, and Timing was matchless. Also, it might be attributable to burn in, but the 010 was more involving and more organic than my first impressions of it last month. I wanted Gwen Stefani as my concubine when I heard the 010 through the "Pinkie" Solo and the "Tushi" 3960. I really had a great time today with the 010 and the K1000 on my rig, and left the amazing Grados to Bozebutton's rig (SACD1000 and Modded Melos) to sound amazing.
Agree for the burn in, as I wrote in my thread: I think more than 150 hours the Qualia 010 needs !!!

Best!
Nicola
post #14 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nik
I think more than 150 hours the Qualia 010 needs !!!
I thought only Yoda talks like that.Or is it common?
post #15 of 65
Please don't let us wait for over 400 posts in this thread before pics are posted.

-Ed
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