Wanted:audiophile experience for the poor,
under 1000$ , i have it now.
Have and listen to :
THERE IS AN ENIGMA ABOUT THIS HEADPHONE that surpass in sound quality all my other headphone by a great leap...They were revolutionary design at the times of their conception 1978...Some very knowledgeable people bought them and sold them many times, insatisfied but always in love... Some even say they are 3 different models, some other experienced owner though negate that they are 3 different models...The reason for all these contradictions i think is the cup design is not at the level of the revolutionary hibryd technology they incarnate for the first time... I think that probably they are only one sound and one model that vary greatly only because of this imperfect design and the various aging levels of all components , and because this headphone is very sensible to source,and hard to amplify, but also because of the various thickness levels of the pads, position of the ears, the varying capacity of the damping material inside (wool) people who try different examplars of this headphone concluded that they are 3 models with 3 different sound (mine has the green driver and are supposed to be the bass-light model)... Then the explanation for me is simple, what explain the enigma around the adoration and simultaneous insatisfaction and sometimes contradictions that comes from this headphone and the different level of appreciation is the very clumsy material design around the 2 cells, electroacoustic and dynamic one...
I takes different roads to improve the can by cutting the plastic grid and keeping the residual plastic ring with a nylon textile glued on it to separate the driver from my ears, i put sorbothane inside the cups and in this residual ring, after that i remove the cotton wool that was the damping material inside inefficient now...I put sorbothane on the exterior cups also with an elastic band around to compress it, i put also 2 kind of stones on the side of the cup, ( remember that all my system gear from the electrical panels to the headphones is damped with stones and crystals that act also like some filtering device for removing some EMI) i put some wool under the pads to make them less symetrical pads...At the end this AKG paid under 200 bucks crush ALL my other headphones to dust with a REAL headstage and an imaging power without peers, the midrange frequencies are so fluid and details that they sound like heaven... Having them it is like to have speakers taped around the head ( in fact they are the only can i have listen to that sound like my speakers literaly ) and sound comes almost like from in front of the head and all that without absolutely no fatigue...I am certain that to beat them we must pay way more than a thousand dollars and some people here and on other forums that know what they speak of,say that they are indeed unique, thanks to them, i have bought the 340 with faith in their review....
I read somewhere, i think it is the designer of the Mojo dac that said that, it seems that one of the most difficult thing to get right with an headphone is depth imaging,miraculously this can has a remarkable depth imaging,and to my ears sound way more naturalistic for voices and timbre than my other headphones....
But BEWARE nude without mods, they does not sound near to their potential....After mods with their used price around 200 bucks they are for me the greatest deal in headphones,they deliver music,not sound frequencies, if you want to focus on details like with a microscope or hyper bass go somewhere else,they have plenty of details and bass indeed (the bass of this can is for me more detailed or lifelike than my he-400) but not at the price of erasing the "delicatesse" of the music....If you dont have 2000 thousand dollars to buy an headphone, i say to you DONT BUY THE LAST HYPE BUY VINTAGE, and smile...
My ex-first headphone now, with damping sorb.+headband damping,+stones and crystals,+pads mods. At their cost range the best ratio quality/price...They are good and only good in all aspects, being the master in none,except their musicality...After all we listen to music not to impressive sounds...I understand now why they are in all studio of the world for 50 years...But i must say that without modifications, and without the right amplifier pairing, they would not be my first love,but they are now...
HIFIMAN HE-400: ( famous reputation for the ratio quality/price ) After inserting inside the cups near the driver pieces of sorbothane duro 70 1/4 inches +2 shungite elite stones at the exterior of the cups, the sound level vastly improve, and these cans now compete with my Stax, with a great contrasting sound, details,and acceptable soundstage, ideal for jazz...I try the grill mod. with success, more airy and musical .... The crystals mods. improve them a lot also.... I am in love for a second time, on par, but very different than my first choice Stax SR-5. (classical)
STAX LAMBDA NOVA BASIC : with sorbothane on the headband a truly extraordinary gem in the ratio price/quality...
STAX SR-5 Gold ... what i can say? No real defect, i said that not by by listening to a measuring instrument but with my ears , they are only extraordinary musical, really high end for the poor ( 70 dollars + sr6 sb energizer)) but kill many hi end headphone , i will not name it here...But Ken Rockwell name the Senn hd 800 and he prefer the Stax SR-3 without sorbothane, i cannot comment because i have not hear the hd 800, but i dont want to hear it now ever, too high price for what ?
Have but listen to no more :
Fostex th 7-b + EMBER amplifier( for the price,60 dollars in canada, i think that this dynamic headphone is marvellous, the best kept secret in audiophile headphone) I think his rendering of the instrumental timbre and midrange is very musical for a headphone of this price...this headphone has the Golden award 2013 of the hifi French review Diapason, if you want to know why, buy them, ratio sound quality/price over the roof...Stax and he400 are 7 and 5 times their price but certainly not many times more good sounding...If you are poor rejoice! the Fostex are Audiophile stock despite their appearance and color...the sorb mod on the Fostex are a great upgrade of the upper bass clarity..
Audiotechnica ath-m50 ( closed headphone only good without being exceptional )
Headphone Amp Inventory:
Have and listen to :
Sansui Au 7700:
Extraordinary Vintage bargain with a completely separate pre-amp section and a tone+filters control section audiophile grade, though i dont use it often....
Someone said: «For people that have owned Sansui amps, there seems to be two camps.The first are the owners who love their Amps and will never sell them.
The second are the owners who sold their Amps and wish they hadn't.»
I want to try someday another amp. but i am afraid to buy another because the many qualities of the Sansui made upgraditis an obsessive absurdity... remember that this amp was in the totl in the world of 1975...
After comparison with the TOTL Sansui AU-X701 of the alpha series, the AU-7700 is for me the KING of the S.S. amplifier with his ton of details but tube-like musicality.... I will keep it till i die and keep also the AU-X701.
Have but listen to no more:
( very good and very versatile,very beautiful, with the 6J5 tube family incredibly better than with my 12 other tubes, including the 6sn7 and the dual 7193 family ) surprisingly high ratio quality/price/flexibility...its pre/out drive also the Stax with more body or the Monsoon internal amps with more soundstage ...It was some time ago the Amplifier of choice of my Fostex and Hifiman HE 400
Hitachi receiver sr 904
Stax smr-xh (at used price a bargain capable to run many stax headphones)
Aune t1 tube dac/amp ( good synergy pairing with the ath m50 and the fostex, not with the He 400 for my ears)
Pa2v2 ( i dont use it now, but for the price interesting deal )
Bravo ocean tube amp ( good synergy with the He 400 and with the AKG 701)
Starting Point Systems mini battery NOS. dac tda 1543 of christophe Mariac
This Dac crush my bushmaster and give a more natural sound, for the price i luckily pay this dac is so marvellous and without real defects or limitations in my entirely damped and EMI filtered systems, i drive it with my external lithium battery for a lower noise level... I put stones around it and on it with great results... You cannot beat this dac probably without paying one thousand dollars to buy not a sideupgrade but a real upgrade...A marvel...
Beresford Bushmaster mkII with Ankaka Battery charger ( very good for the price)+sorbothane mod.
Hifimediy asynchronus usb Sabre DAC + sorbothane on it ( 57 dollars and i am sure one of the best dac in his category, and an optic converter, all in one)
+ hifimediy usb isolator (that make in the chain an audible difference to my ears)+ sorbothane on it
Aune t1 tube dac/amp. ( bad synergy with Hifiman He 400)
Morrow ma 1 interconnect rca cable ( quality/ price ratio very good to say the least ) + Morrow Ma3 and this upgrade with the ma3 make a big difference...+ excellent King Valab optical toslink cable (great upgrade from cheap cable)
Paramax pm8-av power conditioner made a difference also... bought it used for a cheap amount...made a great difference and protect your gear...UPDATE: i have upgrade for Panamax 4300 EX with joy, what big difference it made compare to the basic panamax, i bought it used for 20 % of msrp... a bargain for an audiophile experience...
Other Audio Equipment:
My first choice speakers :
Mission Cyrus 781, my new speakers, shine at another level than my last Mission speakers... i put sorbothane on them, and under them a sorbothane sandwich (sorb.+bamboo plate+ 4 little cork plates+granite plate+sorb+granite plate+ 4 rose quartz pieces)with some heavy load on top of them, after that i put one madagascar agate inside each port, also one on each of the bi-amping cables, and at last and not least, with astounding effect, one shungite stone between the tweeter and the woofer. After that trust me, you must pay a great deal of money to beat these Mission speakers sound, atmospheric, airy, without any excess coloring, and a total balance of frequencies with perhaps a little recessed mids that permit a greater respiration of the sound ...
Mission volare V60 2 way speakers + sorbothane compressed with concrete slab load under and on top of the speakers, pieces of sorbothane also around the membrane with greater sound results.... the sound of these 75 dollars speakers used is now so good, thanks to sorb. mod,+ room cheap acoustic treatment with diverse pieces of foam that it is impossible to beat them unless to buy i dont know which very more pricey speakers ...Bi-wiring the Mission speakers make a difference and clean some haze around the notes, they are especially made for bi_wiring and i must say that the difference is audible, especially with the sorbothanization of all my audio gear...AFTER THE CRYSTALS MODS. of the gear system, and of the room, the mission speakers were resurrected to another level...ASTOUNDING...
Monsoon MM 2000 4.1 active powered desktop speakers (4 planars satellites with a sub)...Very good for the price paid used...
Swan m10 2.1 multimedia speakers ( quality/ price ratio impossible to exceed, it cost me one dollar on ebay and the retail price is around 125 dollars) the sound is very musical, and if you are on a tight budget dont kill yourself buy it....You will smile ...I give them to my son...
IMPORTANT NOTE : Sorbothane feets or patches are miraculous product for vibrations...They contribute to produce a more clear bass and imaging under my Monsoon subwoofer and directly glued on my planars panels ...They are no less miraculous in my Stax SR-5 , or HE-400 they transform it in my Holy Grail... All my gear are sorbothanized...Around the membrane of the Volare V60 sorbothane made miracles...ALWAYS USE DURO 70 self-glued SORBOTHANE ...
THE MOST IMPORTANT THREAD IN HEAD-FI is this one: «Damping Mechanical Resonance Distortion of STAX phones with SORBOTHANE: LAMBDAS, SRXIII PRO, SR003, SR00, the SIGMA and various non-STAX »
The most important thing to remember if you have speakers is ROOM TREATMENT for sound, i attempt it with low cost, pieces of foam, or different kind of foam also and the results were ASTOUNDING... No upgrade in cable or new speakers compete with a room treatment...It is so good that my speakers are now my number 1 listening device...
FIVE Quartz crystals( also topaz amethyst tournaline)distributed from the in and out of the power conditioner to the breakers,passing by the outlet also, clean the line and produce a spectacular imaging stage, the sorb. clean the resonance inducing a better musical timbre, but the quartz impart the line with less noise, inducing a better imaging soundstage. ..These two tweaks are the greatest discoveries of my audio life...
One Bybee signal enhancer over the power transformer of My Sansui give the final touch of refinement(very audible with all my prior elimination of bad resonance with sorbothane)...Perhaps someday i will bought 2 others for experiments...This passive enhancer must not be your first buy, but after all others improvements , wow! i am very glad to have stumble on that....
Foobar>isolator+ Hifimediy convertor>Starting Point Systems NOS dac tda1543+ external lithium battery+ Morrow M3 cable>TO Sansui AU-7700>TO AKG-k340 Or to Mission Cyrus781 + Panamax power conditioner+ sorb.duro70 +crystals and stones mods.everywhere «It is better to have more questions than opinions» «Music is a new way of seeing»