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ENIGMAcoustics Dharma D1000

Rating:
3.83333/5,
  1. geoffalter11
    Luscious Midrange, Extended, non-fatiguing treble, I DO!
    Written by geoffalter11
    Published Feb 19, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - midrange, midrange, clarity, treble, worth every penny
    Cons - Fit
    Hello,
     
    This is my first review on Head-Fi, or anywhere else for that matter.  I will not go through the normal paces of creating a review based on the set pattern of product history, build and comfort, sound and a conclusion. I don't feel that I have the technical acumen at this point in my journey.  The review would come across as trite.  In addition, this review will make no claim of these headphones being an "endgame" purchase.  A term for this relative new-comer that eludes me.  It eludes me because I associate "endgame" with the end of a journey.  I am just beginning my journey, there will be more headphones, more experiences and I hope each takes me closer to the music I love.  Ok, enough of that...
     
    My System for listening (I am not much for evaluation)
    iMac streaming Tidal and Flac through VOX.
    Audeze Deckard Dac/Amp
     
    EnigmAcoustics Dharma D1000
     
    In a word, glorious.  I have several wonderful pairs of headphones and all of them make me feel differently.  Before I go off on a tangent about the qualities of each that I find some satisfying in their own unique way, it is the Dharma that has captivated me the most.  My only complaint is that the build feels a bit one-note.  The suspension system works great, but requires a certain size head before it really starts to provide the resistance against the head to create the perfect seal.  In short, I have an average to smallish noggin and they move around a tad bit for me.  More than I would like.  My work around is to wear a baseball cap and then they fit and seal perfectly.  The ear pads are extremely comfortable and there is the perfect amount of space between the drivers and my ears.  
     
    I have never listened to an electrostatic headphone before, and although these are a hybrid, I see what the fuss is about.  The highest octaves where the electrostat driver kicks in provides the most incredibly musical, extended and fatigue free listening experience.  I can hear everything.  As I sit and write this, I am listening to George Benson's "Bad Benson".  A 1974 CTI recording with the ubiquitous Ron Carter on bass.  His version of Take Five got me into the CTI Jazz/Fusion scene 20 plus yrs ago, and listening to it through the Dharma brings back feelings I haven't felt while listing to him since the day I fell in love with that musical genre.  The clarity of the Dharma is so great, I can hear the pluck of Ron Carter's pick on the bass strings.  I can hear the filter Benson is playing his guitar through and the feeling of his fingers moving across the fretboard.  The bass is tight, controlled and impactful.  I could use a few Db more, but I at no time feel like I am missing out on any part of the integrated whole.  His guitar sores across the melody, the cymbals of Steve Gadd's kit are life-like and in perfect balance.  The Dharma is one seriously beautiful headphone.
     
    My favorite musician is Steve Kimock.  He is a marvel, his tone is so beautifully warm, fat and clean.  His sense of melody and creativity is second to none, but his ability to convey a mood or paint a picture is what sets him apart.  While listening to his classic instrumental "It's Up To You", I am taken back to every live experience.  Sitting in front of him watching his hands, his eyes closed as he scats each note. I can feel his sense of tone and melody take over my soul.  The Dharma picks up every part of Alfonso Johnson's bass line, while the speed of the Dharma keeps up seamlessly with Rodney Holmes' lightning quick percussive abilities.  I often use Steve Kimock Band when listening to a new pair of headphones.  I do so for several reasons.  One, their sound is mixed perfectly, their shows are always recorded as a Soundboard Matrix available in FLAC or ALAC.  They use a mixture of the Soundboard and Stage Mics which gives you the perfect marriage of depth and image.  Second, Kimock's guitar abilities are unrivaled.  He can play 10 different guitars in different keys through different filters in any given show.  He is part Guitar God, part Jewish Grandma.  Neurotic and brilliant, always the perfectionist.  Lastly, their ability to fill out a soundstage with texture, melody and emotionally charged music allows me to understand whether or not my headphones are accurately portraying the vibe and improvisation of the experience.  Happily, the Dharma more than makes the grade.  The low end is perfectly displayed, the midrange is luscious and liquid, and the treble is without a hint of fatigue.  It has the perfect amount of air and sparkle.  The image is perfect, the soundstage puts every musician exactly where they are, and the tonality is exactly right.  I am not just "hearing" the music through the Dharma's.  I am also able to "see" the music through a 3D soundstage.
     
    I am quite sure that someone else can tell me why I am feeling this way while listening to the Dharma.  Be it the subbass, midbass, transition into the mid-range or treble.  Honestly, I love reading reviews that give that type of detail.  I just don't have the ability to give that type of a review yet without sounding trite myself.  I only know that when I can hear every last piece of the music in a way that moves me to tears, I am on to something.  I highly recommend you give these headphones a try.  
     
    Thank you!
      AT Khan likes this.
  2. miceblue
    A Unique Headphone with 2 Drivers...and It Sounds Pretty Good!
    Written by miceblue
    Published Nov 23, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Fantastic imaging, round soundstage, natural-sounding timbre, transient speed for treble, classy appearance
    Cons - Resonance frequency response peak, headband adjustment, earcup swivel, stock cable length
    DSC_6551.jpg

    DSC_6582.jpg

    DSC_6561.jpg






    [rule]
    Review scoring breakdown:
    Value: 4/5
    Audio Quality: 4/5
    Design: 4/5
    Comfort: 3.5/5
    Total: 3.875/5




    [rule]
    Before I write this review, I just wanted to say that this pair of Dharma D1000s is not mine, but a friend let me borrow them for some time.


    I've generally been a big fan of electrostatic headphones and their technology. There are quite a few advantages to an electrostatic driver design over others: air compression linearity, driver speed and responsiveness, and extremely low distortion are arguably the three biggest ones. Throughout the past few years I've head the great pleasure to listen to a variety of e-stats, both traditional ones and electrets.

    Many of you know that most electrostatic headphones require the use of a special high-voltage amplifier that provides a very high voltage bias to the diaphragm itself in order for the speakers to even work as intended. Electret diaphragms go around this problem by including either a permanently-charged diaphragm that doesn't require this voltage bias, or a step-up transformer is built into the headphone.

    In the case of ENIGMAcoustic's Dharma D1000, it takes an approach closer to the former: a patented technology called Self-Biasing Electrostatic (SBESL) that uses the music signal itself to self-bias the electrostatic tweeter of the driver.
    http://www.enigmacoustics.com/tech-in.asp?idno=70

    Apparently this self-biasing property is in part due to the molecular structure of the driver material itself. Fascinating stuff! I wasn't able to find the patent number for it unfortunately.

    Now no technology is perfect, and I will get into this a bit in the sound section below.




    [rule]
    Audio Quality: 4/5
    Overall Sound
    The short and sweet summary:
    • Bass roll-off at around 50 Hz
    • Slightly elevated mid-bass/lower-midrange response
    • Peak in the upper-midrange at around 6 kHz
    • Somewhat grainy treble
    • Lightning-fast treble transient speed
    • Somewhat slow bass transient speed
    • Smallish soundstage
    • Accurate imaging/instrument separation
    • The sound is dependent on where your ears are relative to the drivers

    The one big problem I have with the Dharma D1000 in terms of its sound is that it's very dependent on where your ears are relative to the drivers. The electret driver is towards the front of the headphone so if your ear is near that, you'll hear more upper-midrange and treble. Towards the back of the earcup, you get the opposite effect. I hear a similar effect for vertical placement of the drivers too, strangely enough. The best sound for me was right in the middle of the earcup.



    Bass
    The frequency response of the Dharma D1000's bass is slightly elevated from the lower-bass upwards, but rolled-off below that. It doesn't have the visceral impact feeling that planar magnetic headphones typically have, and instead takes the sound of a dynamic driver with good presence and a thumpy kind of sound. The dynamic driver, despite its large 52 mm size, unfortunately seems to sound somewhat loose and slow to me. The bass is just kind of "there" without a lot of texture and definition. That being said, its presence makes up for it and I find the bass to sound pleasing overall.

    Despite what others think, I find the bass region to have the largest room for error in terms of fidelity while still being able to enjoy the music. After all, low-frequency sounds in the speaker realm are highly variable and absolute fidelity is more problematic compared to other frequencies, yet people still enjoy it regardless of this. The Dharma D1000's bass response is engaging to me and I quite enjoy it for most of my music, enough to get my toes tapping.



    Midrange
    The midrange of the Dharma D1000 as a whole sounds pretty dang good to me. The elevated bass response provides the lower-midrange with a nice rich tonality that sounds accurate to me in terms of timbre. Again, maybe due in part to the dynamic driver, the midrange doesn't have super-fine texture reproduction and the music just seems "there," though pleasing to listen to for music.



    Treble
    The upper-midrange and treble response of the Dharma D1000 is mostly dictated by the electret driver from my understanding. I can hear a very obvious peak in the frequency response at around 6 kHz, and it can get fatiguing if you listen to hotly-mastered music and/or music that has a lot of that frequency. A simple -3.0 dB EQ can fix that issue though.

    In terms of the frequency response, the Dharma D1000 sounds a bit grainy to me, adding a layer of detail that seems artificial. This is a common thing I hear from headphones on the other hand, so I tend to dismiss this. I don't hear any super large peaks in the frequency response that makes the treble unlistenable on the other hand, so that's always a good thing. Often times a broad and/or large peak at 9-10 kHz will ruin the music to me, and the Dharma D1000 does not have this issue.

    On a different note, the electret driver does a marvelous job at keeping up with music transients, in typical electrostatic fashion. This sounds absolutely crazy, but if you take a music track that involves a lot of drumset sounds (cymbals, snares, etc.) and you use a high-pass filter on it after 6 kHz, you can appreciate the driver's speed for higher-frequency sounds. Like my STAX SR-207 electrostatic headphone, the Dharma D1000 is able to easily keep up with every note of the drumset, while keeping them separated from one another. I find a lot of headphones unable to do this, so this really puts the electrostatic technology in the lead for higher-frequency transient speed reproduction. Also similar to the SR-207, I can turn up the volume of the high-pass filtered Dharma D1000 and the music doesn't distort nor fatigue my ears; again, being a property that I've only really found to occur with electrostatic headphone drivers.



    Soundstage
    Soundstage is a topic I have a hard time talking about, honestly. Most stereo recordings are made in a sound-proof studio room, mixed together with other sounds, and reverberation is added to make it sound echoey as if it were emulating a room. Soundstage is thus an artificial term as most music quite literally has no soundstage; it's just added reverb. Some recordings, particularly those of orchestral or choral works (or even binaural), tend to have a natural soundstage due to the natural reverberations that occur in the recording venue (not a sound-proof studio room). However, since you nor I were present in the venue at the time of the recording, it is literally impossible to tell someone, accurately, how big the soundstage really is. A headphone may have a "big soundstage" to someone, but how accurate that soundstage is is a completely different topic.

    Using self-recorded binaural recordings is one method to go around this, as the microphones will capture sound with timing differences specific to your setup, and you are present at the time of recording to verify the accuracy of the sound cues yourself. I tend to use such recordings as my reference for sound localization in general since I know exactly where sound sources are coming from relative to the microphones.

    Back to the Dharma D1000, I find the soundstage reproduction to be fairly accurate in terms of proportions of the depth and width (height seems to be the odd one out), but the soundstage as a whole is shrunken down in size. This isn't necessarily a bad thing if you like a more intimate sound, and can work well for many regular stereo recordings.



    Imaging/Instrument Separation
    Although the soundstage isn't the largest, the Dharma D1000 has terrific imaging abilities and I think it's one of the best attributes of this headphone. With the binaural recordings I make, the Dharma D1000 has very convincing imaging, actually more so than my SR-207. Usually front/back imaging is difficult for me to hear, but the Dharma D1000 somehow does a better job at this, and it's very easy to appreciate this quality of imaging for music and gaming alike.

    I usually don't talk about gaming audio too much since I don't have too much time to play video games these days, let alone games that feature spacial audio cues. That being said, I have been enjoying Blizzard's most recent first-person shooter: Overwatch. This is going to sound extremely cliché, but I find the Dharma D1000 to have excellent imaging for this game and I can localize where objects are in my head, more so than other headphones I've heard. Actually just in Overwatch's training mode, there are stationary robot enemies that can be used as sources for audio cues, and as I turn the in-game character in a 360˚ circle, the robot enemy's sounds are pretty well-correlated with where they appear on the screen. Again, front/back localization has traditionally been difficult for me to hear, but with the Dharma D1000, they're more readily apparent to me.




    [rule]
    Design: 4/5
    The design of the Dharma D1000 is really good overall. The headband/headpad assembly reminds me a lot of AKG's automatic-adjusting system but it's slightly different. AKG uses elastic bands that connect the leather headpad to the earcups via a plastic piece that rides along the bands of the headband arc as it adjusts to a head. The Dharma D1000 uses a static plastic headpad strip that's attached to the headband arc, which then has an elastic strip connecting to the other side. The headpad seems to be a piece of plastic wrapped in a breathable fabric material and it wraps around the elastic region of the band. This is quite a unique design I think, but it doesn't quite work out for my head unfortunately (see the Comfort section below), and I can't see it being a very durable system in the long-run considering AKG's elastic headbands tend to stretch out over time. Because of the elastic system, and the relatively heavy design of the headphone, the Dharma D1000 tends to sag on my head. Unfortunately, I tend to hear differences in the sound depending on my ear's position within the earcup and depending on where the headband rests on my head, just like AKG headphones in my experience.

    Apart from that, the rest of the headphone itself is pretty well-designed.
    • The ENIGMAcoustics logo is embossed on the leather part of the headband arc, which is fairly flexible and yet it retains its original shape.
      DSC_6572.jpg
    • The outside of the earcup also has the ENIGMAcoustics logo silk-screened(?) on it in faint lettering so it's not as noticeable.
    • The inside earcups are very spacious
    • The drivers are angled within the earcup, so there is no need for angled earpads.
      DSC_6590.jpg
    • The earpads are supple and very large
    • The detachable cables use a 2-pin connection like the HD800.
      DSC_6567.jpg
    • The overall appearance is conservative, yet classy.

    One gripe I have with the headphone design is that the swiveling earcups are attached to a vertical metal gimbal that runs down the back of the earcups from the headband. This makes gripping the headphone to put on your head a bit awkward since the front of the earcups can articulate, while the back of the earcups (which is what you'd grip) stay in place.



    If you consider the cable as part of the headphone design, the stock cable is really, really, really long at 3 meters (about 10 feet). I can walk everywhere in my room without having to take them off of my head. While this is convenient for that purpose, 90% of the time I'm sitting down at my desktop rig and the super long cable ends up being a burden.




    [rule]
    Comfort: 3.5/5
    Again, because the headband's only adjustment is through the automatically-adjusting elastic system, the comfort of the Dharma D1000 is not quite optimal for me. Sometimes the headband stays near the smallest setting (my preferred setting) and the Dharma D1000 sits very comfortably on my head. Other times it seems to sag, and thus causes the relatively heavy headphones to slouch down on my head. My head is pretty round, wide, and short, so your mileage may vary.

    Other than that, the earpads are quite supple and pliable, and the earcups are deep enough that most people shouldn't have any problems with the driver touching their ears.




    [rule]
    Value: 4/5
    Is the Dharma D1000 perfect? No, what headphone is? I do think this is quite a unique headphone, and despite the competitors in its price range, I think this is one of the more interesting ones and is easily among my favorite headphones that I've heard. I wouldn't necessarily call it a reference headphone, but it does have a rich tonality to it that makes it a really pleasant listen. Likewise, minus the ~6 kHz peak, the treble is a bit grainy-sounding in terms of frequency response, but due to the electret driver, it keeps up really well with music transients as well as imaging within my head. Combining the dynamic driver's contribution of the natural-sounding timbre with the lightning-quick response of the electret driver, the Dharma D1000 sounds really engaging and dynamic (no pun intended) to me. I highly recommend giving these a listen if you're able to since I do think they are a fantastic headphone package.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Beagle
      I agree with pretty much all of your findings, right down to the headband adjustment, which seems to be only adjustable by gravity. While I don't find the bass boomy or bleeding into the mids, it sometimes seems to stand out by itself, away from everything else. This is one of the many headphones that I like listening to....for a while. Eventually something begins to bother me and I have to switch to something else.
      Beagle, Nov 23, 2016
    3. conquerator2
      I never got past the highs on this one. Way damn harsh to my ears, though I quite liked everything else. Oh well. Great review!
      conquerator2, Nov 23, 2016
    4. grizzlybeast
      Good review dude! 
      grizzlybeast, Nov 24, 2016
  3. dramophone
    spectacular imaging; resonant frequency at 9khz must be attenuated
    Written by dramophone
    Published Jul 6, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - resolves more detail than any headphone i've heard; strong bass response
    Cons - needs a really accurate dac/amp to shine, needs equalization to eliminate resonant frequency @ 9khz, had to modify the head strap to fit my head
    this is a wonderful headphone; i run it on a resonessence concero hp and the detail it resolves is unbelievable.
    for some context, i really love bass and treble; i find the hd800 needs a treble boost and the bass falloff requires that i absolutely crank the bass on them; i add 6.5db to the bass below 80hz on the hd800.
    the dharma needs only a little bass enhancement; so i only add 2db below 100hz.
    i also gain up the treble above 2khz - i start at midrange and amplify all the way up, effectively just attenuating the lower-mids.
     
    to address the pain point other reviewers have been faulting them for, these headphones have a resonant frequency range around 9khz.
    it has to be filtered out or the trebles get very, very shrill. it's pretty easy to do, i just put a peaking filter with a q2.5 falloff around 9khz with a -2.7db attenuation.
    realize that, since it is a resonant frequency, if you elevate the volume going into the headphones, you have to increase the attenuation - the drivers will pick up the resonant range and amplify it unless you keep it waaaay down.
    they're hardly the first high-end cans with a resonant frequency - the hd800s have one at 6khz that has to be filtered out as well.
     
    i have some fit problems with the headphones; these are the first cans by enigma acoustics, so they didn't design them well for the large variety of head shapes that exist. the distance between the top of my head and my ears is small, so i had to modify them to stay in place. my friends with a larger ear-to-crown distance don't seem to have this problem.
    they are also a bit heavy, but my baseline is the hd800, which is a very light high-end can.
     
    while the bass response is very nice on these headphones, the treble is really the highlight. they are so responsive, when i compare them to my hd800s, i feel like i'm listening to my music through a wet blanket. i can't bring them anywhere near my sennheisers; i have to keep them in another room or i just can't listen to the senns anymore, which sound wonderful, they are just not anywhere near as revealing as the electrostatic tweeters in the dharma.
     
    a note about my equalization workflow:
    i use equalizer apo 1.1.1 for windows. it's free but you have to use windows shared mode for your output (it's a kernel audio enhancement filter) so i change my output format to 24bit so that there's no detail loss when i preamp the input to the equalizer to avoid clipping.
     
    here's the contents of the equalizer apo text file:
    Preamp: -2 dB
    Filter: ON LSC 18 dB Fc 100 Hz Gain 2 dB
    Filter: ON PK Fc 9000 Hz Gain -2.7 dB Q 2.5
    Filter: ON HSC 18 dB Fc 2000 Hz Gain 2 dB
     
    and a png of the curves:
    https://i.imgur.com/N80BB4I.png
      monsieurfromag3 and pedalhead like this.
    1. pedalhead
      Got one of these on loan for a while. Thanks for the EQ tips, I'm using similar settings and they really help improve the Dharma. Still not a keeper for me, but it's an improvement for sure.
      pedalhead, Oct 25, 2016
    2. geoffalter11
      Thanks for the review. I have them as well and couldn't agree more. They resolve as well as anything I have heard. My Audeze Deckard makes them shine.
      geoffalter11, Feb 8, 2017
  4. Schopenhauer
    A comfortable headphone marred by an uneven frequency response
    Written by Schopenhauer
    Published Feb 16, 2016
    2.0/5,
    Pros - More bass presence than, say, the HD800.
    Cons - The headphone is too spiky for my ears. Anyone sensitive on this point should take caution when considering the Dharma as his or her next headphone.
    Thanks to @TTVJ for the loaner. I was interested in the Dharma as a potentially bassier alternative to the HD800. While I do prefer the Dharma’s to the HD800’s bass, the Dharma’s treble and mids are dealbreakers. I prefer the HD800’s and the LCD-2.2’s treble presentation to the Dharma’s. I prefer the LCD-2.2’s bass and mids to the Dharma’s.
     
    Spotify serves as my source. The GO450 serves as my primary DAC, although I occasionally used the iPhone 6’s internal DAC when listening to the Dharma. For amplification I use the UHA-6S.MKII or the EF-6. With the Dharma I also tried the iPhone 6’s internal amplifier; it performed surprisingly well given the Dharma isn’t demanding. My reference headphone is the LCD-2.2. The HD800 is a close second. In addition, I compared the Dharma to the Alpha Dog, the HE-500, and a T50RP (my girlfriend’s personal modded version). In the interest of concision, I’ll restrict my focus in the following to the LCD-2.2 and HD-800.
     
    *          *          *
     
    1. Bass
    The Dharma’s bass has received considerable attention. The measurements are – as I’m sure everyone knows by now – less than ideal. Elevated distortion across the bass frequencies and extending into the mids. I didn’t hear any of this. A prominent commentator has said that the bass has a “furry fuzzy” texture to it. I’m not sure I know how to listen for that. Kiasmos’s track “Wrecked” on their 2012 Thrown nicely displayed the Dharma’s bass. Slam/impact was sufficient, although below the LCD-2.2’s levels. If I had a criticism of the Dharma’s bass, it would be that nothing about it really stands out. And that’s fine. A headphone doesn’t have to distinguish itself in every area of the frequency response.
     
    A friend of mine who swears by the HD800 said of the Dharma: “This headphone has the bass I wish the HD800 had”. I do think the HD800 would be improved if its bass were at the Dharma’s levels. Maybe someone could claim that the HD800’s bass is objectively better. But if that means it’s better simply according to the measurements, I don’t see why that should matter very much. Perhaps one could argue that the HD800’s bass is more accurate, more neutral than the Dharma’s. Nonetheless, the Dharma’s bass doesn’t strike me as bloated, as inaccurate or colored.
     
    2. Mids
    It’s unfortunate that the first track I listened to on the Dharma was Saturn Never Sleeps’ “Bit by Bit” from their Yesterday’s Machine. This is a track I’m familiar with. I wouldn’t say it’s a test track but I’ve spent plenty of time with it. The Dharma is the only headphone on which it’s been sibilant. I don’t think the Dharma was revealing something about the track I’d never been able to hear before. Rather, I think the sibilance was an artifact of the headphone. I noticed this on a number of other tracks. From the beginning, then, I worried the Dharma might be malignantly sibilant. Subsequent experience tended to reinforce this worry. I think I would reject the Dharma as a headphone for this reason alone. I’m willing to forgive a headphone for coloration if the result is enjoyable, if it deepens one’s engagement with the music without compromising too much accuracy. But sibilance is painful, unpleasant coloration.
     
    3. Treble
    This is where I had my main problem with the Dharma. I’ll be very frank: The treble spikes hurt my ears. The discomfort starts almost immediately with the right (or, I should say, the wrong) music and is seriously fatiguing as I proceed. Now, I tend to be sensitive to boosts in the treble. The LCD-2.2 is my reference headphone for a reason; I naturally prefer darker-sounding headphones. I also prefer warmer-sounding headphones. The Dharma is certainly neither dark nor warm. I’m not sure I’d say the Dharma is a bright headphone. I am sure, however, that I would say it’s a spiky headphone. This is a phenomenon related to the sibilance mids. The frequency response across the treble is too drastically uneven for me to enjoy the Dharma without worrying about when the next peak will hit.
     
    Transitioning from the Dharma to the HD800 brings home just how spiky that treble really is. I usually find the HD800 too bright. But the HD800 doesn't strike me as too bright after listening to the Dharma for around 10 minutes. I’m not prepared to say that the Dharma can’t sometimes get the treble right. There is sometimes an airy, spacious quality to the music. But you can get the same effect from with the HD800. So I don’t see what recommends the Dharma on this point.
     
    4. Technicalities
    Timbre can be a bit hollow, tin-canny. Occasionally ethereal-sounding. Vocals can be ghostly, haunting; that’s a good thing. Taja Sevelle’s Toys of Vanity, especially its title track and “Making Love to the Air” are exemplary on this point. Her voice seems to hang in midair. This is unfortunate since you’re almost immediately snapped out of it by sibilance, or simply a spike in the upper mids. If the upper mids to high frequencies were smooth, this could be a hell of a headphone.
     
    The Dharma’s soundstaging was wider, more diffuse than the LCD-2.2’s. I still think the LCD-2.2 images at least as well, probably better. Given that the LCD-2.2 sounds more natural to me, more cohesive, than the Dharma, it has a more holographic or 3-D presentation. I’m able to hear where individual sounds are located in the total image, if it makes sense to put it that way. The Dharma, on the other hand, can sound a bit left and right. As with the HD800, soundstaging and separation with the Dharma can come across as artificial, as though details are really just artifacts of the headphone and not integrated parts of the image itself. I should note that – to my ears – the Dharma’s soundstaging and separation fall short of the HD800’s. The HD800 is still the king of soundstage. 
     
    As far as resolution is concerned, I would rank the Dharma below the HD800 and the LCD-2.2 in that order. I’ve long felt that my LCD-2.2 resolves as well as any headphone I’ve heard, with the exception of the HD800. This isn’t to say the Dharma isn’t resolving. It just didn’t strike me as exceptionally resolving, especially when compared with other headphones similarly priced.
     
    *          *          *
     
    It’s anathema, I realize, to say something like this but I enjoyed the Dharma most when driven by the UHA-6S.MKII with the iPhone as source. The two devices were connected via a short analog cable, so it was technically double-amping. Double-amping doesn’t worry me terribly, at least given the amps involved, although I avoid it if I can. The native EQ in Spotify’s mobile app – specifically, the treble reducer – makes the Dharma less offensive. I should note – in the interest of full disclosure – that I find the Dharma almost unlistenable in any other configuration, at least for any significant length of time. The headphone is simply too bright, too spiky, for my ears. Anyone who is sensitive on these points should take caution when considering the Dharma as his next headphone.  
     
    NB: The graphs provided in the "Review Details" section don't reflect this view. I'm not sure why the graphs are displayed that way given the values I set when publishing the review. 
      monsieurfromag3 and Hawaiibadboy like this.
  5. grizzlybeast
    Dharma D1000 Review
    Written by grizzlybeast
    Published Feb 12, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - balanced sound signature, great treble texture, clean sound, high quality build, detailed and revealing sound, good dynamics
    Cons - soft bass impact, high frequencies can make some recordings sound bad.
  6. yage
    A fine first effort
    Written by yage
    Published Jan 6, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Smooth treble, very good imaging, spacious soundstage
    Cons - Slightly cool sounding midrange, bass is a little loose
    A big thanks go to Todd at TTVJ Audio for continuing his loaner program, which this review is a result of.
     
    Introduction
     
    The high-end in the headphone world is increasingly becoming a crowded field. It's almost become commonplace to marvel at the technological advances that each headphone offers in this rarefied strata. One of the new kids on the block is ENIGMAcoustics with their Dharma D1000 headphone. In this case, the engineers and designers at ENIGMAcoustics seem to have brought their experience with the Sopranino from the loudspeaker domain to the headphone world. The design mates a dynamic paper-based driver with a 'self-biasing' electrostatic panel in a supertweeter configuration. As the manual states, a "phase coherent high pass filter imperceptibly transitions the Washi paper diaphragm to the electrostatic tweeter." The tweeter's response stretches out to 40 kHz with the express purpose of preserving aspects of musical truth (e.g. air and inner detail) as befits the headphone's name.
     
    Description
     
    The headphone is handsomely finished in matte black metal with a genuine leather wrapped steel headband providing the clamping force and a self-adjusting headpad suspending the gimbled earcups in place. The earpads are clad in protein leather and filled with memory foam. I found the clamping force to be fairly comfortable for an album's worth of listening, but the play in the self-adjusting headpad was a little too loose for my taste. Overall fit was a slight issue: whenever I leaned forward, it always seemed that the headphones were ready to slip off my head. Or maybe I have a weirdly shaped noggin. Included with the packaging materials is a cable quite similar to the HD 800 stock cable replete with anodized aluminum connectors and 1/4 inch gold-plated termination. Rounding out the package is a gold plated 1/4 inch to 3.5 mm adapter.
     
    Listening
     
    I listened to the Dharma connected directly to the Meridian Explorer 2 as well as with the CI Audio VHP-1 / VAC-1 headphone amp with the Explorer 2 serving as a DAC. The Dharma was transparent enough that I could clearly hear how each setup differed. The overall sonic landscape consisted of a spacious lateral soundstage, a smooth, extended treble response, and a laid-back presentation. Music - particularly classical - seemed to flow effortlessly from the Dharma. The final movement from Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 (Chesky, CD 2) received royal treatment sounding clear with good imaging and a wide soundstage. The Dharma's laid-back personality worked in its favor here, imparting a sense of depth and spaciousness. On Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony (Telarc, SACD-60634, CD layer), the Dharma captured the acoustic of the performance venue (in this case, a church) with the organ sounding authoritative and powerful. Yet for all the bass quantity responsible for the organ's resplendent sonority, I felt that there was a lack of bass quality. The mallet strikes on the timpani during the finale softened with the Dharma, robbing the performance of some dramatic impact.
     
    Sometimes the ripeness in the bottom octaves could also be considered an advantage. On "You'd Be Nice To Come Home To" from Bass on Top (Blue Note, ISBN 0946 3 93182 2 3), Chambers' upright bass sounded full and weighty, though at the expense of some articulation. Snare strikes were snappy and Hank Jones' turn on the piano sounded expressive and clear. Listening more closely, however, I felt that the Dharma toned down the midrange just a smidge - drums lacked some body; piano and guitar didn't quite possess the warm, round tone I'm used to. Cymbals, however, sounded extended and clean - perhaps the electrostatic panel being put to work. Switching in a 24/192 copy of Blue Train (HDtracks, AIFF converted to WAV), I noticed that the tonal balance of brass instruments and the piano were more vibrant, reminding me more of the recent RVG edition than the warmer HDtracks remaster. Also, Guaraldi's piano on "Christmastime Is Here (Instrumental)" from the 2012 remaster of A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy, FAN-34027) came across a little bit leaner than usual and, on some of the harder jabs at the keys, took on a glassy character.
     
    The Dharma was generally refined and composed on more modern fare. It never strained to reproduce Florence Welch's vocals on "Shake It Out" (Universal Republic, B0016297-02), nor did it squash the layering of voices and instruments on The National's "Bloodbuzz, Ohio" (4AD, CAD3X49CD). However the perceived depth that it offered up on classical music caused it to sound somewhat distant and a shade cooler in terms of tonal color on vocals. Berninger's baritone lost some of its resonant character and Adele's voice on "Hello" (XL Recordings, 88875176782) was less immediate. Leslie Feist's vocals on "1234" from The Reminder (Cherrytree/Interscope Records, B0008819-02) had an ethereal quality to them, though sometimes the Dharma evoked the impression of a good reproduction rather than a real performance. Bass lent most tracks great rhythmic drive, but ended up being just a touch heavy-handed for simpler arrangements. On "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" from A Very She & Him Christmas (Merge Records, MRG424), the lower notes on M. Ward's plucked electric guitar seemed to bloom just a bit too much which, coupled with the plentiful echo effects, caused them to dominate the mix.
     
    Comparisons
     
    I spent most of my time going back and forth between the Dharma, the Sennheiser HD 600, and the NAD VISO HP50. Not exactly lofty company, but I think instructive nonetheless. The HD 600's soundstage was decidedly narrower than the Dharma's and didn't image quite as well. Whereas the Dharma had a mid-hall feel to it, the Sennheisers were much more front-row without being aggressive. I also felt that the HD 600's midrange sounded warmer and more natural than the Dharma's, though it didn't offer up the bass of the latter. Against the NAD, the Dharma clearly had an edge in the treble. Cymbals in particular had more presence and sheen to them. However, the bass on the HP50's sounded tighter and more textured. My suspicion is that the Dharma traded ultimate accuracy for the perception of extended bass, in much the same fashion as some two-way standmount speakers do to sound 'bigger'.
     
    Conclusions
     
    It's easy to break into the high-end arena in terms of price; it's harder to stay in the high-end when measured by performance. On paper, the ENIGMAcoustics team seems to have assembled all the pieces required for a masterpiece. In practice, there are many moments of sonic brilliance, just not as consistent as I think the price suggests. No doubt the Dharma D1000 will be appreciated for its spaciousness and sweet treble, but it seems destined to be a niche headphone. That's not necessarily a bad position to be in, since I believe ENIGMAcoustics has the talent in place to take the Dharma to a higher plane.
     
    Associated Equipment
     
    Headphones - NAD VISO HP50, Sennheiser HD 600
     
    Amplification - CI Audio VHP-1 / VAC-1, Meridian Explorer 2
     
    Sources - Meridian Explorer 2
     
    Cabling - Blue Jeans MSA-1
     
    Power - AudioQuest JitterBug
    1. Oregonian
      Great review.............
      Oregonian, Jan 21, 2016
    2. cladane
      About trebles brilliance I would suggest to drive the D1000 with a warmer amp like the HEADA Aurorasound or the VIVA 2A3. Those are high end headphones and they deserve a nice amplification.
      cladane, Feb 28, 2016