Simply Excellent
Pros: - Incredibly lifelike timbre
- Control, extension, transparency
- Comfort
- Versatility: Free retunes, free upgrades, pad rolling
- Perfect soundstage for full immersion
Cons: - Too revealing of bad recordings depending on tuning, can be mitigated with a smoother amp

Background: I am relatively new to the audiophile world, but in terms of music exposure, I have played the flute for close to a decade now. This is the first review I have ever written, compelled by my wonderful experience listening to the XTCs. This is also my first open back, of which I am glad that these were the first, though I plan on going to CanJam SoCal this year to see how these compare with the more popular options, such as the HE1000s, Focals, ZMFs, etc.

Customization Journey: With John, you can send these back for free retunes (I sent them back twice), since I did not have previous preferences when I first ordered them, and John tried the best he could the first time based on what limited information I gave him about my tonal preferences. I was very impressed the first time I received them, but felt that something was missing in terms of refinement and personal enjoyment; the first tuning was missing some top-end and the second made vocals too harsh and forward upon further listen. The third time I received these, John switched to an upgraded driver and tuned these to his "preference reference" tuning, and I was mightily relieved by the fact that I didn't have to send these back anymore! I will describe the wonderful sound of the reference tuning below, and explain how every characteristic of the headphone contributes to overall enjoyment and immersion. Tuning info: Slightly warm but detailed -> Warm with elevated detail -> Reference.

Bass: These headphones have heaps of bass for a 'reference' tuning. However, it is very well-controlled and tight. Well-extended and incredibly textured, natural bass that still sounds neutral with respect to the other frequencies, reminding me of a Yanyin Moonlight with way better bass quality, but only slightly more quantity. Incredibly engaging, and satisfying, but never boomy and uncontrolled. Reference bass does not have to mean flat and boring, these hit the exact spot between neutrality and enjoyment; the bass is the best of both worlds. The reference tuning doesn't turn these into bass cannons, but it exemplifies the ability of these drivers to reproduce such high-quality bass.

Mids: I have never listened to a tube amp before, but the tube mode on my Cen.Grand DAC/amp makes vocals and instruments sound euphoric and detailed at the same time. There is a very slight touch of smoothness, that, when combined with the reference tuning, gives them just the right amount of bite and attack, but also produces plenty of overtones and just makes them sound incredibly 'correct'. Violins in the Waltz of the Flowers never sounded so lifelike, so real, with just a touch of smoothness added to help with the euphoric experience and enhance immersion. The Cen.Grand is one of the most musical solid-state sources I have tried, and if this is what the 'tube sound' is, count me in. The reference tuning, when combined with a clean musical-sounding source, makes everything sound real.

Highs: I am very sensitive to sibilance, and the treble on these is close to the borderline of what I would deem sibilant. However, I am happy to report that I have experienced no fatigue whatsoever from hours-long listening sessions. The reference tuning, along with the drivers' great extension up top, allows treble to shimmer and sparkle, but in a natural way that is not overdone. Again, it sounds real. I would describe the treble tuning as neutral, leaning very slightly bright. It is like everything is covered in a soft shimmery glow. Musical, and real, yet incredibly detailed, with the perfect amount of edge to the sound for most tracks. Poorly recorded ones will sound harsh, as this tuning results in incredible detail retrieval.

Comfort and soundstage that tie everything together: The soundstage on these perfectly matches the tonality of the headphones. Imagine you are at the center of a campfire, and the seats are arranged around the campfire at a bit of distance from the center, not too far away, but not in your face. And then the music starts playing. The staging is holographic, deep, and tall, but not artificially wide. You are not sitting at the back of a large concert hall or standing in a long school hallway, but instead, you are surrounded by the music. It's incredibly engaging, and detailed, yet relaxing and euphoric. The soundstage is effortless, and immersing yourself in the music has never been easier. Additionally, these disappear on your ears when using the fuzzy pads, which only adds to the already incredible experience.

[Added imaging & separation section]: The imaging I would describe as coherent. It is close to pinpoint imaging, though the tuning seems to slightly 'blend' the sounds together for an incredibly coherent listen. Separation is also good, again slightly 'blended' for an effortless and natural presentation. It is very easy to pick details out if desired, but I like the slightly laid-back way it presents the music, adding to the immersion and effortless nature of these headphones.

Sources: I would pair these with a transparent, yet musical source. I have tried these on my little MoonRiver2 Ti, and it didn't sound bad, though I felt that I was listening to the source instead of my headphones, with a noticeable digital glare from how Moondrop implemented the Cirrus DACs. However, with the Cen.Grand, everything fell into place and I felt that I was listening to the headphones themselves, despite it being a solid state with the ES9038 Pro and LM49720 op-amps. It is transparent, but also musical, which is what a good source should be. These headphones will reflect the source, being so transparent, so choose carefully.

Pad rolling: John usually provides a few sets of pads with your purchase that you can switch out to see if you like the sound better. I will note that, based on my experience with how each re-tune sounded, depending on which pads he had on when he re-tuned the headphones, those will sound the best, though pad rolling only takes a few minutes and it doesn't hurt to try. Currently, I am using the original fuzzy pads with the fabric still intact, as other pads ruined the reference nature of the tuning.

Conclusion: For only $799, these beat out my $650 Yanyin Moonlights no contest. In fact, I look forward to demoing other stuff at CanJam knowing that they may not even come close to the sheer quality and value of these headphones. It is like XGeneX88 said: "This is a $3000-4000 "sounding" headphone that can be had for under $1000." Absolutely incredible value for anyone starting out, and guess what? If you didn't like it the first time, send these back to John until you get the perfect sound that you imagined these would have. He might even throw some free upgrades in if you ask, such as the new upgraded driver (I didn't even ask! Greatest customer service I have experienced, ever). You will not be disappointed.
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I got the beryllium ones. Smooth and detailed, with a refined quality to them.
Where does the "reference tuning" fit in the most warm all the way to most detailled tuning adjustment spectrum? :

From warmer to colder adjustment:
Warm yet detailled->warm very detailled->Almost scalpel->scalpel tuning
As for the tuning hierarchy of warmest to coldest, I would say warm but detailed -> slightly warm but detailed -> warm with elevated detail -> reference, the other scalpel tunings I have not tried yet.


100+ Head-Fier
“A Long Time Coming”
Pros: Very light to wear, and comfort is fantastic.
Bass is nice and thumpy and fully extends down.
Incredible sound stage
Midrange is niiiiice
3.5 mm headphone connections (should be standard)
Comfort and value are insane as the earpads and cables are expensive.
Cons: No Frequency response graph to mess around with EQ
The highs need some eq as they sound a little light.



About me, I’m pretty new to the hobby and I made a post a while ago on reddit pre-head fi days and asked “What is the best open back under $1000?” I got the usuals but a few guys recommended the JM audio editions XTC. So for me the XTC has been on my radar for a long time. I consider myself an overear headphone guy first, speakers when available, but iems have a fun place in my heart as well.

I’ve probably sent Jon 100 messages asking him about things over the last six months and a few days ago I saw a picture of one of his headphones and asked for one similar to it (the one pictured was sold), and I quickly had my headphone to me.

I bought this headphone with my own money and I bought it directly from JM Audio Directly.

Song Choice: Tidal list here:
I listen to a wide variety of music. I pick the songs because of various reasons. But I picture myself locked away like Andy Dufresne from Shawshank blasting music and shut off from the world. It’s a blissful image.
The Marriage of Figaro -The opera song from Shawshank Redemption, terrible recording but fun and gets me in the mood to listen to music.
O mio Babino caro -This is a modern less operatic version but a song with great female vocals.
Video Rigoletto - “La donna e mobile” Sung by one of the three Tenors, great song for high-performing male vocals. Pavarotti is the greatest classic singer maybe ever. Fight me!
Iron man - The sound at the beginning is hard to make sound great, great drums, and cymbals, and if done right it feels like an old-school band.
I Will Survive (1981 recording, I like her voice, and the old vocals, the drums, and various natural instruments really make this a favorite for me.
There is a light That never goes out - Smiths ( A classic, I just love it. It’s mellow, and I can tell a lot of the tuning if this song is done right.)
Jump (I like how the sound effects are in this!)
Star Child Someone recommended this song to me, and I like how funky it sounds and has nice vocals and a mix of music and things going on.
Dicke Titten Ramstein The beginning is amazing and the bass hits hard. Great song. I love rock and metal. The German language fascinates me
Master of Puppets: Very fast song. Helps me determine if the driver can keep up.

Cable- This comes with two cables, both are of high quality and neither disappoints. I personally would value the cables at about 100 dollars each, so for a 800-dollar headphone to come with not one but two really nice cables, is very high value.

Ear Pads - The stock pads on this headset are so cozy, but beyond that you get two extra sets. This adds a great deal of value for me. It's a really nice setup. So not only do you not need to replace the pads, they give you extra options. Very strong value to be found here. Easily adds 100 dollars or more to the value of this headphone.

Case The case that the headphones come in is very nice, and can fit all the extra pads and cables. It defiantly adds value as it is not too large, but a good size.

Quick-Fire Comparisons

In this section, I'll quickly compare the edition XS to other Headsets near this level.

JM Audio Editions XTC vs Arya Stealth V2 (999)
Overall Tuning:JM Audio Editions XTC
Details: Arya Stealth V2 (Slight Edge in the treble, but XTC is better base and mids)

JM Audio Editions XTC VS. Meze 109 Pro (800)
Overall Tuning: JM Audio Editions XTC
Details: JM Audio Editions XTC

JM Audio Editions XTC VS. Audeze LCD-XC 2021
Overall Tuning: JM Audio Editions XTC
Details: Audeze LCD-XC 2021

I find solid Value in this headset. To me it competes with other headphones near this price that I’ve listened to or beats them. But what is special is the packaging. This is packaged better than any headphones I’ve got the opportunity to open. It has two beautiful audio file cables and 3 sets of pads, a nice case, and looks amazing to me. I find strong value in these headphones.

As far as I know there isn’t a graph of the XTC out in the wild. If I find one, I would be happy to share it with you.


The base sound really good, and has no major issues. I feel it is pretty strong.


The Midrange and timbre of this headset are just mint. The upper mids seem a little recessed but it's hard for me to say exactly.


The treble is sparkly and airy, and delightful to listen to. Details are out of the box very good for me on this headset. My music sounds very good. It doesn’t sound shrill or cut. But I find when I eq the base, sometimes I do miss out on some details and it’s difficult to get the right sound out of the gate for this headphone. But it’s magical Treble, and extremely enjoyable. I have found other headsets that pull a slight bit more detail but lack in the soundstage.

Comfort: The comfort of this headset is quite amazing. I usually put my headphone on my entire family so they can try it: two boys and the wife. Everyone seemed to like it. It’s very cozy.

Recommended EQ:
For my tuning I did EQ the treble up a bit, and I do enjoy it. I don’t think the headphone needs EQ but this is what I came up with: I did ask Jon for a graph, but he tunes by ear mainly which from what I understand is pretty common.

Gifting/who is it for: This is an expensive headset, but it’s a great headset for anyone who loves audio and wants to see what the latest and greatest headset is. The comfort is much better than the Hifiman’s or Audeze’s that I’ve tried. The ability to try different pads is a cool feature in itself.

Pairing: I used a Quidelix 5k for mobile, my dongle dac iBasso DC04 for my laptop, and my JDS labs Element III MK2 Boosted for my Desktop PC. This is a very easy-to-drive headphone and has no major issues with anything I tried it with.

The headphone game is different from iems in many ways. Comfort is important as well as something to look at and feel good about on your head. This headphone checks all the boxes. I have been looking at other headphones for a while like the new Mod House Planner, maybe a HE 1000 v2, Audeze MM-500, or even a ZMF headphone. This one has the pads, the cables, the carrying case, and is only 800 plus 30 for the premium wood. I am super happy with what I purchased to be able to support Jon in his audio journey and I honestly feel this product is well worth the money. I’ve heard a lot of headphones and have a personal list of headphones in which I Rank them. This headphone is competitive or beats anything that I’ve heard. It’s really great sonically, but more importantly, it is packaged well and has high value. My only regret to this purchase is that I didn't purchase one earlier.

Overall I am giving this an S- for tuning and an S- for technical abilities. It is fantastic.

Thanks for reading. Any feedback is welcome.
How would you compare and contrast it with the 109 Pro?
@Mhog55 The comfort is much better. The 109 pro takes some getting used to. The XTC not as much. The sound is just better out of the box as is the build quality.
So, as far as comfort goes. The Meze 109 has very nice pads and I do enjoy the stock sound. The issue is any movement will vibrate the headset and jostle it a tiny bit. Think of having an antenna on your head that will wiggle frequently create a slight humming sound and add additional bulk. I showed by XTC to my parents, they were very impressed. It looks and feels great. Both are sonically good, but The Meze felt like it had a slightly better timber at times and the XTC is much darker. The Meze just has an insane peaky treble for me. XTC is smooth and easy. I use it a lot for iem fatigue or for just a quick listen. @Mhog55


100+ Head-Fier
JM Audio XTC Open Legend Series
Pros: Extension
Bass Control
Ability to go from ppp to fff
Cons: Headband microphonics

General Information​

My first exposure to John Massaria came while browsing through some Kennerton blogs after purchasing a set of LSA Diamond headphones. I enjoyed his writing style and descriptive prose on Kennerton JM Edition Gjallarhorn headphones as well as other related equipment. This makes sense especially with his background in marketing, he can draw you in with his enthusiastic writing. After trading some messages with him I decided to let John perform his MK II upgrade on my JM Edition Ghallahorns.. The upgrade included removing all the foam inside the cup. Some extensive reinforcement of the surround where the driver meets the wood, included in the mod were two carbon fiber black fractal mesh parts. According to John the fractal material does not mute or subdue any one frequency, however, it distributes the sound in a wider pattern.

There is a lot of controversy wrapped around the use of fractal mesh in closed back headphones, John uses the material in both open and closed back headphones. Fractal meta materials have unique properties that can manipulate sound waves, potentially enhancing soundstage and other acoustic characteristics. However, the specific requirements for interior volume in a headphone to implement fractal meta materials would depend on the particular design, materials, and intended acoustic effects. Many engineers believe headphones do not have the internal volume necessary for fractal materials to have an effect on soundstage. My personal experience is the soundstage in the JM Gjallarhorns became wider and deeper, so much so they replicated open backs and no longer had the claustrophobic effect of their original design. It wasn’t placebo, it was more like wow. So I decided to continue with John and his mods, let him mod the headphone strap and pads of both the LSA Diamonds and the Gjallarhorns and play around with his recommended earpads. Needless to say the experience was positive. That was my first experience with John Massaria.

John is a graduate of New York Institute and has experience in marketing. Though, It appears he has always had a passion for innovating and inventing. He developed technical designs and applied for patents and trademarks as early as when he was 14 years old. He grew up with sound engineers in some of the most prominent NY studios such as, Electric Lady, the Power Station and Platinum Sound recording. He later became an audio engineer and an engineer for on location sound mic and recording. He also has experience as a Director for on set interviews. He became obsessive with sound and how poor engineering can color sound. So he began tinkering with headphones, specifically Kennerton who liked his mod so much they adopted it as part of their design and branded his creation the Gjallarhorn JM Edition. Without getting too deep into his engineering experience it seems to have come from self-study, apprenticeship and experimentation. With the release of the Gjallarhorn II John began getting rave reviews in the “bloggish sphere”. He also began modifying other headphones and experimenting with different pads (i.e. Hifiman closed HP).

If you type in the word Ecstasy you get the generic pharma descriptors of the drug used at raves, dance parties and electronic music. Digging into vast articles on the drug I pulled the following; “Euphoria can occur as a result of dancing to music, music-making, and listening to emotionally arousing music.[4][37][38] Neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that the reward system plays a central role in mediating music-induced pleasure.[38][39] Pleasurable emotionally arousing music strongly increases dopamine neurotransmission in the dopaminergic pathways that project to the striatum (i.e., the mesolimbic pathway and nigrostriatal pathway)”. Thus “I guess” the name of the new JM Branded headphones X-T-C. John chose this name specifically intended to express the sonic calibre of these uniquely designed transducers. The fact that he will design them to meet your personal preferences and allow you to reach that emotionally arousing state while listening to your favorite tunes is something his customers must tell you about and is rare in the world of mostly house tuned headphones

There is a lot of competition in headphone land especially with the top of the market being controlled by brands such as Focal, Audeze, Meze Audio, Hifiman, Sennheiser, ZMF, etc. Creating headphones in the under $1500 market and claiming they are competitive with headphones above $3K is a tall order. John decided to give it a go hunting down and sourcing the best Beryllium and Woven BioWool drivers he could find to build his headphones. His current line consist of the open back XTC and his 1.0, 1.5, 2.0 (soon to be discontinued) and newly designed statement 2.5. Unfortunately for me after stating his closed backs could not reach the performance of the open back and fulfilling my order, within days he introduced the 2.5 thus robbing me of being able to upgrade to that model…


Directly from the website:

“I have spent the better part of this past year and this year searching for the best measuring dynamic driver… one that can be customized and tailored for warmth and extraordinary detail - and can be further dialed in, in any way a user may like, before they order. I found what I consider the finest driver on the market - an all forged/cast not stamped basket utilizing N52 magnets and an occ copper coil system with a very fast and agile nano sized 50mm diver - one of the best I ever measured.

Utilizing our patent pending fractal fiberglass mesh system and newly developed and very expensive porous carbon graphene - both used together to open and extend the soundstage and create more depth emulating more space and air while helping create a pin point accurate stage. Fractal porous carbon graphene used in conjunction with the fractal fiberglass mesh allows a new amazingly open sound unlike any we ever heard before.

We also wired the very precious drivers with OFC copper wire - the best I have ever seen in the headphone business available that I know of especially in this price range. We do offer internal wiring using OCC 7n wire as well for a slight upcharge w/silver WBT solder and it includes the COPPERHEAD 1.5M 7N OCC External Wire avaialble in 3.5trs or 4.4 trrs- the same wire and solder we use internally.

The XTC Is tuned to reveal all the details deep inside your recordings. You can expect deep tight bass with no bloat yet at the same time the XTC is even and smooth through the mid-range and treble. The XTC has precise timbre and has a knack of digging out sublime details with air as light as a feather; while remaining composed and never harsh or sibilant. Each song you play you will dive deeper into the recording and immerse yourself like no other headphone I know of currently - a very light weight headphone (14-16 ounces - as a comparison the Hifiman Arya weigh in at 404g / 14.3oz.) and extremely comfortable headband - yet is now a heavy weight in performance- utilizing JM Editions patent pending fractal mesh technology for a wide spread out soundstage. Ez to drive at 32ohms and 114 db efficiency or 64ohm at 113.5 db efficiency.”
JM Audio Edition Wood XTC Open Beryllium or BioNano Wool DynamicThis Option includes One of 3 Different Choices of Exotic woods and finishes: Polished Black, Brazilian Black Wood or Brazilian Zebra Wood.

This option ALSO includes 3 Ear Pad Sets: You get 1 set of Angled Premium Leather Ear Pads and a 1 set of angled memory foam fluffy ear pads AND 1 set of Velour Ear Pads. If you have a preference against the Fluffy Ear pad we do have other options, however the Fluffy is our most loved ear pad by owners. The premium leather is my personal favorite as well.

You also get a choice of our best hand selected custom made drivers: 32, 64 and 300 ohm in a 52nm magnet Beryllium or a 32 Ohm Biowool driver wound with ofc copper specified for JM Audio - we also customize your headphones by discussing your preferences for tuning just for you.

The XTC open also Includes a beautiful 2mm cable- braided w/36 strand 26AWG high purity OFC (Oxygen-Free Copper) cable, Litz structure which means some strands will be mixed diameters yielding best performance. Each ear cup gets a dual 3.5mm male plug for direct wiring to each ear cup driver- choose your amp end as either trs 3.5mm, trs 6.3mm, 4.4 trrs or XLR. Get a second wire plus the ultimate in internal and external matched wiring - - we hand solder your XTC with internal 7N occ and WBT silver solder. This option also includes our own Copperhead (the same wire we use to solder the drivers) in a 1.5m braided wire in your choice of trs 3.5mm or trrs 4.4mm on the amp end. The 7N OCC option gives you the ultimate matched wiring inside and out.

We are including a practical Waterproof Flight Case to protect these during transport and storage.”

Before getting into the sound, a little about myself and my setup. I’m a former musician, specifically a sax player. Yes I still tinker nothing serious. I can tune a sax by ear or using a tuning device. I can generally tell if an instrument or voice is in tune or on/off key. I understand why drummers contantly tune their drums especially the snare and how cymbals like Zildjian sound. More about that later. I’m an audiophile since childhood owning many different brands of speakers from Thiel, Vandersteen, Avalon, Legacy, Talon, Swan, Vapor Audio etc. Currently I have a decent speaker by Swan M5A self-powered I run through my Sonnet Dac.. Headphones I have heard them all, I’ve owned Focal, Sennheiser, Kennerton, LSA, ZMF, Hifiman planar and electrostatic, Stax, JH Audio, Thieaudio etc. My current system includes Schiit Mjolnir II with upgraded tubes heavily dampened with spikes and grounding, Sonnet Morpheus Dac, I2S into Sonnet Hermes with significant power management. I also used a Flux Labs FA 22, Fiio M17 and a Hifiman Ef400 Dac amp.

The ordering process

It starts on line. I pm’d John first and asked a few questions, specifically closed back or open. That’s where he stated the closed backs could not match the “magic” of the open back. I then went to his webpage and picked the Beryllium driver, upgraded solder and wiring and the recommended earpads. Placed the order and sent him this message listing my tuning preferences, “ My main listening is through ZMF Atrium. I want to balance the system with a more reference headphone similar to ZMF Caldera or Hifiman Susvara. I would like it transparent and detailed allowing me to hear the subtle nuances and sonic characteristics of each saxophone model accurately. Wide frequency response: That can accurately reproduce the full spectrum of frequencies produced by the various woodwind and brass instruments from the low end of the instrument to the higher harmonics. Precise imaging and soundstage, Instrument separation and focus, Dynamic range and transient response (I'm choosing Berylium because of it's reputation of being fast) ensuring that the subtle variations in volume and the quick attack and release of notes are faithfully conveyed (especially piano and cymbals) also, allowing me to distinguish between various woodwind and brass instruments in terms of their expressive capabilities and dynamic performance. Lastly, vocals the HP should faithfully capture the nuances and subtleties of the singer's voice, allowing me to perceive the natural timbre, texture, and tonal qualities that make each vocalist unique. As closely as possible faithfully reproduce the microdynamic subtleties of vocal performances. It should capture the delicate changes in volume, breath control, and vocal inflections, ensuring that the nuances and emotional nuances conveyed by the singer are preserved. This level of detail retrieval for me is essential for conveying the intimacy and expression of a vocal performance while maintaining the center focus and depth of soundstage. My musical preferences are jazz, classical (mostly Heifetz and Perlman), rock (guitar focused) and old school bands like Tower of Power, Chicago, B.S&T, Zep, Sly, James Brown, Nile Rodgers, etc. I think you get it. Closed or Open whichever you think you can capture in a headphone to fit my preference. If you can do it in a closed I may go in that direction. I was going to call but I figured I could handle it in a pm... A week later John sent me a message. That he made a set tuned to his preferences in cherry and it was one of the best measuring units he had ever made. He would send me that set from his XTC Legend series.

Upon arrival I opened the box and saw a very nice touch, a hard case with the headphones and accessories stuffed inside. I removed all accessories and put the headphones on. The first thing I do with any headphone is check for microphonics. I tap and rub the headband starting up top on the metal surface, with my finger. The XTC bearing very noticeable microphonics, whether rubbing or tapping on the headband. The balanced fabric wrapped cables fared much better only noisy when rubbing after the Y splitter further up near the cups. Also The headphones sprung off my ears a couple of times, if not for my fast hands they would have landed on the floor. My advice is to make your adjustments, use the supplied allen wrench and tighten them down near the left/right indicators. Also, there is a small plastic screw on the very bottom make sure that is good and tight. I do not move around a lot when listening and do not lean my head against any surfaces so the microphonics do not bother me as much. John is also sending me a piece of dampening material to assist in mellowing out the issue. The build otherwise is ok, especially for the price and weight. The headphone are very nicely finished. As the price moves up I believe the quality of the headband will improve. I like the cups and screens very nice job.

I usually let headphones burn in even though I am suspect of burn in because of the small drivers in headphones. So two days no listening, though I did cheat and take a quick listen.

After two days I started my listening with the fuzzy open ear pads (meaning there is no material over the opening), they are not perforated. A few words about earpads. The ear pads on a headphone can have a noticeable effect on the sound, comfort, and isolation of the headphones. Different ear pad materials and designs can alter the way sound waves interact with your ears, resulting in various changes to the sound profile. Here are some common effects of different ear pads:

Sound Signature: The sound signature of headphones refers to the overall tonal balance, including the bass, midrange, and treble frequencies. Ear pads made from different materials or with varying thicknesses can influence the headphone's frequency response. Some ear pads may enhance bass, while others might result in a more neutral or brighter sound.
Soundstage: The ear pad design can affect the perceived soundstage, which is the sense of space and depth in the audio. Open-back ear pads, with their more breathable and perforated designs, tend to create a wider and more spacious soundstage, while closed-back ear pads might produce a more intimate and focused sound.
Comfort: The material and padding of the ear pads impact the comfort of wearing headphones for extended periods. Softer and more breathable ear pads often provide better comfort and reduce heat buildup during long listening sessions. The most comfortable earpads are JM’s fuzzy open pad.
Noise Isolation: Closed-back ear pads usually provide better noise isolation by blocking external sounds from entering your ears and reducing sound leakage. This makes them suitable for use in noisy environments or when you don't want to disturb others nearby. On the other hand, open-back ear pads allow more sound to leak in and out, reducing isolation but providing a more natural, open sound.
So for the purposes of this review, for now we will stay with the fuzzy non perforated ”open” ear pads. I will test the leather perforated screened earpads shortly. This is day 4 of constant running and having properly adjusted the headband, no more flying off the head. Hiromi Live in Montreal “For Jaco” composed by Edmar Casteneda, talk about clarity and realism. Through the XTC the attack and decay of Hiromi’s piano is amazing, clear and concise the right hand speed of Hiromi is captured in all its glory! The interplay with Casteneda’s Harp is dynamic while exhibiting speed and airiness without being overblown. Tonality is on point and I mean, the way his harp sounds live. On the wrong headphone the right hand of Hiromi may sound harsh, not here I played this track four times, amazed at how well it played compared to playing this song on Focal Utopia’s. Checking my notes from listening to the famous Utopias “right hand on upper register sounding a little harsh.” Not here it slams hard real hard on the XTC without the ear pain. The recording has it’s softer passages delicate pianissimo to thunderous fortissimo and the XTC handles them with the utmost accuracy where powerful chords explode through these headphones. I’m not fanboying I’m calling it as I hear it! Listen at around 10:15 mark you can easily distinguish between the two instruments (by the way I’m using Roon). I felt like I was finally getting what this album is capable of giving. Resonances are captured, providing a sense of spatial depth and recreating the natural ambiance of the live piano performance.

Moving on to Diana Krall’s On Live In Paris, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” with the frequency response of these headphones you will get sibilance from this recording. In other words if the S is pronounced in the recording you will hear it in the headphones, this does detract somewhat from the experience, the ringing effect can blur and extend further out then on something like the Atrium that rolls the frequency extremes. John can dial this back for you, probably losing some of the headphones extension. You will hear it in this recording especially since the piano is not as well recorded as on Hiromi’s live recording displaying a little upper right hand harshness. These things are a microscope into the recording. The ZMF Atriums actually mellow this out due to their roll off making it a less critical but more enjoyable listen. The XTC’s still demonstrate good clarity allowing me to hear the nuances, intonation, and articulation in the singer’s voice. The XTC reveals more detail in the vocals, such as breaths, vibrato and micro dynamics. Listen to August Rush Soundtrack “Raise It Up” and Patricia Barber’s Mythologies, “Orpheus Sonnet” not only will you understand, you’ll also get the emotional aspects of the vocals. Capturing the singers emotions and delivering an intimate connection between the artist and the listener. Another recording that will demonstrate the capability of the XTC to dig deep on vocals is Jacinta’s On Autumn Leaves, “Moon River” though also a little sibilant, displaying none of the harshness.

Male vocals are smooth, Eric Bibb’s Needed Time, “In My Fathers House” the interplay between Baritone and Tenor vocals ar spot on, with not a hint of sibilance. Also projecting left side vocals further out and not bunched together. If the width of the soundstage is further out to the side they will portray it for you. Not as exaggerated as on say an HD 800/S, the dimensions seem to be as intended with lots of depth. Again the same thing on Hugh Masekela’s Hope, “Stimela” this is an emotional song and will tell you a lot about a piece of equipment. I found this cd years ago in the cutout bin at Tower Records for $1.99 and brought it over to the high-end audio show at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago I believe in 1999. I started at the Merlin Audio room with my buddy the late Bobby Palkovic and we played Hope and completely filled the room. He made me go back to Tower and get another copy, luckily I found one, next taking it to the Pipe Dreams room, same thing the room became completely packed it was astonishing. Then in the Swan Acoustics room, the sound was dead conveying none of the awesome emotions of this great song. Well the XTC’s handle it with abloom, conveying all the emotions of the live recording. With such complex rhythmic interplay, few headphones can make it portray the intended passion as intensely as the the Merlins or PipeDreams, the XTC can. The thing that I notice most is how these phones call up the bass. The bass is neither overblown in terms of scale nor overemphasized in terms of volume.

Next up is a fun recording of various woodwind instruments by Kip Hanrahan All Roads Are Made Of the Flesh, “The First And Last To Love Me”, demonstrating the proper interplay of various instruments at the 7:23 mark with separation, air and tonality. Listen to Michael Riessler’s Bass Clarinet interplay with saxophone and Dino Saluzzi’s Bandoneon and Allen Toussaint’s piano nice work. Easily distinguishing the difference between the bass clarinet and the sax, this is a great test few headphones make this sound like music.

Another recording I’m intimately familiar with is Victor Jones C.A.F.E. Trio: Live at Bradley's in New York City
as Victor is one of my best friends. The now defunct Sensible Sound named this recording one of its recommended albums. It was recorded with a Dap in a chair, go figure. The XTC’s demonstrates the intimate nature of this trio recording while portraying all of its detail. For example Victor’s drums portray a great sense of air and space through the XTC. During the setup Victor’s drum set sat on the right rear, Essiet’s bass forward and to the left and Kikowski piano even more forward. The XTC gave a great sense of instrument placement, and provided a pretty clear delineation of soundstage boundaries. Essiet’s bass, shows off how this HP handles the lower frequencies. It has an articulate, immediate and commanding presence, delivering low frequencies with an authority, weight and impact, only when called upon. I can’t tell you how well the XTC’s lower octave performance matches up to the JM Audio's closed backs especially his newly introduced 2.5’s, though I can say the opens make for an undeniably compelling physical performance. We do know that any extra bass comes from the closed shell and it’s design rather than from the recording’s instruments. I was enthralled by the headphones ability to take you from fff to ppp without any hesitation, deviation or repetition, one musical phrase growing literally from the decay roots of another. To pull that off takes both bandwidth and unfettered dynamic range.

Then I did it, I pulled the popular fuzzy pads off and put the top of the line perforated leather pads on and in this authors opinion everything got better. Especially soundstage depth, air, articulation, they even seem to reveal more of the recording as I played them all over again. Listen, I’ve written enough, I guess you can tell I really like, no love theses headphones. My suggestion is don’t believe me try them for yourself. Remember I gave John my requirements and he sent me his pair.

John has done a great job with the XTC, especially in the areas of their overall weight and sound quality while maintaining an incredible price point. This is an amazing value even for the most discerning audiophile. Is it the best headphone I’ve ever heard? No I can’t say that, but it is one of the best headphones I’ve heard. Nothing touches it at anywhere near its price, an amazing value. It’s different from my ZMF Atrium, a kinder gentler headphone. Where the XTC goes hard and deep, the Atrium warms and romantically covers some of the detail. The Atrium is a better built (at 3X the price) not better sounding headphone, it’s different, depends on my mood. Do I like it better than the Hifiman HE6 Mk II yes as well as most if not all of the other headphones I’ve owned or heard.

The strength of this headphone is speed and agility, no, it’s not as fast as some of the best estats I’ve heard or the Raal tweeter estats, though its ability to dig deep into a recording is phenomenal , I’m digging it. The plusses out weigh the few negatives John may be able to fix the sibilance without killing the extension (I’m not sure how) or quiet down the microphonic headband. I’m leaving these alone for now. As I mentioned, a phenomenal entry for a startup company competing with the big boys at an astonishing price point. Can’t wait to hear his XTC 2.5 which he claims is a world beater. I will be ordering soon, as I think these have beaten the world….


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100+ Head-Fier
XTC Open Biowool Warm but Detailed Tuning
Pros: Weight, Comfort, Sound Quality, Bass, Perfect Tuning
Cons: You'll find yourself neglecting all your other headphones.
I'm no "expert" reviewer.. just a guy who loves audio so I will try to keep this on point. This is actually my first Head-Fi review because I felt this product really deserved some recognition.

Build Quality:

This headphone is actually built pretty well all things considered. I do think it has a bit of that "DIY Build" thing going on.. but honestly I'm not that bothered by any of that. This headphone feels pretty solid in your hands. It doesn't creak or do anything odd/bad. Overall, there is minimal (if any at all) plastic use. Everything appears to be wood, metal, or leather and I expect it to last for many many years.

Sound Quality:

This is where this headphone really shines.. I think John is a true world-class audio engineer. The way he tunes his headphones is nothing short of astonishing. The first time I sat down and listened to the XTC-O, I was kind of floored. I've heard so many headphones ranging from the $500 to $6000 (Susvara/AB-1266) and yet have never felt that the tuning was so masterfully done as it is on the XTC-O... reading other reviews prior to my purchase initially, I was actually extremely skeptical... until I heard it for myself. My expectations were actually quite different from what I received. I thought this was going to be a bass-monster with a mellow / lush sound signature. Nope. Not at all. This is an EXCITING sounding headphone that actually has a much more "reference" sound than I expected.

Treble: Extends perfectly. It shines, shimmers, has air and a beautiful presentations. Vocals pop and shine. Tickles my ears in just the right way but never fatigues.

Mids: Very accurate, full sounding mid-range. Vocals, instruments, and just about anything in the mix will sound "right". To me, the mids are perfectly balanced into the mix and pop when the music calls for it. I don't feel that there's anything "recessed" happening here. Everything just sounds balanced and correct yet at the same time VERY engaging.

Bass: Holy crap. This headphone puts most others to shame. The bass is so good, it is an utter delight. I'm going to say some of / if not the best bass I've ever heard on a headphone. Very engaging, deep, physical, extended all the way down to 20hz (great sub-bass rumble) and full. Did I mention it's also balanced? I was expecting it to be overpowering, or too much.. but it's actually perfectly blended with the rest of the sound spectrum while sounding utterly amazing. I'm not sure how John managed to do this.. but I feel this is something people need to hear to understand how music "can sound".

Detail: This headphone is DETAILED. Like.. detailed AF. But it doesn't force it either.. It presents music in a fantastic way where everything sounds extremely clear and it's there if you choose to listen for it, but it never crams anything at you which is something I dislike about some other models I've tried. It all sounds so effortless and easy.. It's all there in spades and more.

Comfort: Great! I'm used to wearing things like LCD-X/3/4 and this thing is quite light. Only quibble I have with it is that the clamp out of the box was a bit too much... fortunately, they were very easy to stretch over some books and now it's perfect.

Sound Stage: I'd say pretty "average" open back sound. Not a very wide sound signature but very natural presentation with enough width / height to satisfy that out-of-your-head desire. Definitely wider and more open-sounding than something like an HD650 or Focal Clear but not nearly as wide as something like an HD800S or HEKSE. I personally really like it.. music sounds intimate or further away depending on the track.

Imaging: Pin-Point precise. this headphone is an imaging monster. You can place every instrument easily within the spherical space around you.


Closing thoughts: I think these headphones are a masterpiece. John has achieved something truly special and the fact that these can be had for under $1000 is mind blowing to me. I have many other headphones in my stable.. HD800S, TH900/909, LCD-3/4, MDR-Z1R, HE1000SE and others. I feel the XTC-O is tuned better than all of them. It's perfect. It sounds so NATURAL.. not neutral but NATURAL. Things just sound right.. it's very detailed, fun, engaging, musical, and a delight to experience with some of the best bass ever produced in a headphone. For anyone on the "fence".. you owe yourself to try it. The XTC-O gives other headphones in the $3000-4000 a real run for their money. Lately, it consumes almost all of my listening time, despite me owning other headphones that are just begging for my attention. In a nutshell.. this is a $3000-4000 "sounding" headphone that can be had for under $1000. Not sure what else can be said here. I am very excited to try more JMAudio products that may be released in the future.
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I checked my Hart cable against the JM cable and JM puts ground on the Ring and Sleeve on the headphone side, where the Hart cable has ground on the Sleeve only and the Ring is open. I guess I could just plug it in and see what happens... lol
John Massaria
John Massaria
only heart cables wires this way; all other cables should work fine but lately I solder to both sleeve and ring making even heart cables compatible- but earlier models may not like the heart cables way of wiring -
I had to get a TRRS cable from hart. TRS will not work with the XTC-O. I had the same issue with my Sony MDR-Z1R. They may have to send you a link to their TRRS cable page.. they do have one available.
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100+ Head-Fier
XTC Biowool open back and a XTC Beryllium open comparison
Pros: Excellent detail retrieval.
Amazing sound stage (wide and tall and 3 dimensional)
Bass….oh god the textured wonderful euphoric bass!
Cons: Not a thing. If I had to put something I guess it would be the 3.5 jacks on the cups could be a half inch forward

I’m not a pro. I have listened to a ton of headphones though.

This all started when my dad wanted to sell a set of headphones. We put them up on the board and quickly there was a trade offer or a like new XTC open back Bio wool. I had been interested in this headphone for some time and John had helped me out with a defective Magni and a Modded gh40. I accepted the trade on my dad’s behalf and away we went! I received the XTC at my house and opened it up and was struck by how gorgeous they were. Build quality is very impressive and aesthetically they’re show stoppers.

I plugged them into the old Burson Soloist xp using a ifi Gryphon as a DAC. Put them on and was very pleased with what I heard. My favorite headphone that I’ve owned is the HE10001v2 non-stealth. Ive also spent many hours withAnanda, Arya v2 and Stealth as well as Focal Clear, Clear MG and a few Audeze open backs. I've definitely been on the planar bandwagon for a while. But after a half hour with the XTC I called up a friend in the hobby and asked her to come over and check this headphone out and to maybe AB with the hekv2. She was here in 20 mins with her Soloist and Gryphon (audiophiles lol) and the sonic porn commenced.

I was on the hekv2, she the XTC for about 45 minutes. We switched. The more I listened to both the more I was impressed with the XTC. Obviously it’s difficult to compare DD’s with Planars but the XTC was going toe to toe with the hekv2 in pretty much every way. Perhaps a fraction slower overall, but the bass quality was very similar with the XTC having a bit more where it counts. You know, the smile on your face geeked out as hell place! As well textured as hekv2, never boomy or wooden. And she goes nice a deep.


Alex looked over at me and asked for a trade, 45 minutes later we took some time to chat about the XTC and how it compared. My mind was pretty much already made up but you know how it is….always nice to have a second opinion. Her next words were exactly what I was thinking. ‘Dude, if you only want one headphone you could easily sell the hekv2 and have some dough left over for other toys’. She was correct. I sold the hekv2 the following day and ordered my own XTC biowool open back. Pumped! I sent my dad’s to him and he immediately echoed our thoughts, it’s his only headphone now as well.

Ordering from John is a truly unique experience. He will literally tune these exactly how you want them tuned. If you don’t love it, you send them back and he’ll tweak them for you. As far as this goes, he’s the only one in game that I know of. So awesome.

I received my very own set about a week later. It sounded exactly the same as my dad’s (tuned warm with detail). Back to the sound….the mids are very present and not at all recessed to my ear. Vocals are very pleasing. Everything from the baritone growl of Ed Vedder to the angelic souring notes from Adele. Instruments remain extremely well detailed and appropriately placed. Acoustic guitars are particularly lovely on this headphone. Listening to someone like Dave Matthews or Tim Reynolds is purely magical. The feeling is that of those guys sitting in your living room playing 5 feet from you. Accuracy and realism are eye poppingly fabulous. The tone and reverb from Trey Anastasio‘s electric are spot on as well as he takes us on an intoxicating trip with each solo (albeit it normally at least 1 minutes Haha).


The highs are amazingly precise and razor clear. Details on my (warm but detailed) set are so impressive. I’ve heard more detailed headphones (hekse and the XTC Beryllium) bring the details more into your face, the XTC Beryllium to a lesser extent but a bit more on that later! For you detail freaks out there I do not think you’ll find this headphone lacking in that department.

Just a couple things that I’m going to squeeze in here (review experience). I’m using the flat out awesome fuzzy pads which literally feel like they massage your head. The most comfy pads I’ve personally ever had. And about the overall comfort….this headphone is incredibly light and while it sounds cliche, they really do disappear on your head. I can easily listen to this headphone for hours up hours if time allows.

As is often the case in this hobby….a few weeks later my curiosity in the Beryllium XTC open took a hold on me. You know the feeling….you don’t need it…but good lord you WANT it. Obviously I owned one several days later.

Biowool vs. Beryllium

So, some of this will obviously depend on your gear but running the Beryllium through the same soloist/gryphon stack the Beryllium driver is a bit less warm, a bit more detailed, very similar bass and mids. It’s a bit less full sounding but that isn’t to say it’s not. There are just some subtle differences. Note weight is a bit more detail oriented and lighter. But again, not at all like a 180 situation. Treble is very well extended and crystal clear and some of the most accurate I’ve heard. I wouldn’t call it in your face but compared to the biowool it is a bit closer. Not at all intrusive or troubling. For me, I reach for the biowool probably 3 out of 5 times. Which is to say I’m completely in love with both headphones. It’s a bit of a ”mood’ decision for me. If I want to put on the most comfortable slippers on earth I go for the biowool. If I’m feeling up for a bit more of a night out on the town I grab the Beryllium.

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New Head-Fier
JM Audio XTC Open Review
Pros: Incredible sound stage (best I've heard)
clean effortlessness bass
Great mids
Super clear treble that takes me on a journey deep into the recordings
JM Audio will tune them for your preference and if you don't love it when you get it you can send it back for a re-tune until its perfect
Swiftest and best customer service I have ever experienced
Cons: Seeing as how they can be tuned for you...what cons could there be?

JM Audio XTC Open Review

To preface this...most of the time I am very wary of reviews like the one I wrote below. I do not love everything I hear in the audio world. I have sold or returned much more gear than I have kept. I am a skeptic when it comes to most audio reviews and I question most things that everyone thinks is amazing. These, however, awed me so much that they have inspired me to do something I have never done. In all the years, I have never written anything like this. It was fun and I hope some people like what I wrote. I had a good time writing it and might even do more now.

I have been trying to wrap my head around how to write this review for a couple weeks so I think what I’ll do is start with what I feel are the main specifics. That way if you want you can just go and jump to the website now, order a pair, then get back to reading my thoughts and feelings because these are extremely special headphones that I am constantly blown away by and I very much feel that if people have a collection of headphones these should absolutely be one of the staples of your collection. They are exactly that in mine and I listen to them more often than any others. They are an experience not to be missed and I truly mean that. I feel like once I took the time to wrap my head around what John achieved in making these, once I understood what they represented, I really could lean heavily into that which showed me how important they are within my headphone collection and how these are the first headphone I have had in years that has made me want to write about them.

Personal Specifics:
-The version I ordered is the XTC Open 50mm Dynamic Beryllium with the N52 magnets. The pads that I have fallen in love with are the angled fuzzy memory foam. This was John’s recommendation. When I reached out to order, I asked for warm yet detailed with scalpel tuning and bass. Yes you are reading that right, you can reach out to John and he will tune them to your specific wants. No extra charge. https://www.jmaudioeditions.com/ if you want to pause your reading and just jump on that now. That is the first thing that made me say “Absolutely yes” on buying these.
-The other headphones in my collection: Dan Clark Aeon Noir, LSA HP-1, LSA HP-2 Ultra, Modhouse T60-RP Argon, SJY Starry Night, Audeze LCD-2 Classic - pretty heavily modded by me, Sennheiser HD 600 heavily modded by me (some Custom Cans mods some my own), Beyerdynamic Custom Cans Uber DT880 600ohm, Grado RS-1X, HarmonicDyne Zeus. All of these are VERY different from one another. I list these here because I want to show how these fit well within my collection. I do not believe in the one pair to rule them all idea, I like to look at headphones as specific tools for specific moments in sound. The XTC Open, even within this collection I am very proud of, does something none of these other headphones come anywhere close to doing.
-The source chains I used: Chord Qutest connected to Headamp GSX Mini, Chord Qutest connected to Rebel Amp (fantastic combo with these headphones), BorderPatrol DAC connected to LTA MZ2, Audio-GD R-7 MK2 connected to HE-1 MK2, Chord Mojo 2, and Clear Audio Concept turntable w/Hana ML cartridge connected to Vista Audio Phono 2 connected to LTA MZ2. I also have a Hagerman Tuba and a modified Elekit TU8200R I pull into the chains from time to time. The reason I am listing these is because I want to express the #1 thing about these headphones and that is that they are INCREDIBLY revealing in ways that make it so each one of these source chains to me sounded like a completely different experience. I LOVE how they sound with detailed DACs and warm amps but they sound amazing on anything. They deliver to my ears exactly what is in each chain more so than any other pair of speakers/IEMs/or headphones that I have heard. That is what I mean by revealing. It is as if, when listening on these headphones, I have a direct and totally transparent sonic view into exactly what was happening though the whole source chain with zero distraction from the headphones themselves. I have heard the phrase “These are like a magnifying glass into the music” and I would say yes 10000% for these. I would be surprised if I find another that is more in that zone anywhere close to the price point of these. It is an absolutely incredible experience. Also the same with pads. Pad-rolling is wild on these. More about that later. What this means is that if you are interested in these please make sure you are paying strong attention to the devices in your chain. With some the soundstage is meh, with others it is vast and realistic, with tubes it is super tuby. Its almost like these headphones are finally showing me what all the silly reviewers mean with all those weird descriptor words they use.

Ok now onto the fun part…my opinions! Be warned, these are only my opinions based on my experiences with my ears and as you don’t have my ears or my wonderfully strange brain, yours might differ. For specifics and objective questions I would direct you here… https://www.jmaudioeditions.com/ you can find the email there and John is super responsive and super nice. I’ve never met the guy in person but to me his customer service is unparalleled.

I am deep into the Hifi world but I am also a teacher so I cannot afford gear that costs as much as a BMW. I do, however tend to hunt down and collect pieces that have massive value to price proposition and in the past few years I can count on one hand the products that have totally blown my mind into a million pieces when considering how much their cost and the JM Audio XTC Open tuned the way I got them are easily in the top of that small group. An example of just how perfect these were tuned for me, given the descriptors I posted above, is that when I first got them I was a bit confused. It felt like all I got was deep bass and meh mids and highs. It was as if the mids and highs were covered up and hidden behind a curtain. I let it burn in a few days and it was a bit better but it still seemed like 70% of the sound was in the bass and only 30% was in the mids and highs. The one thing I noticed in that imbalance was that but also hidden within there was some really incredible soundstage magic happening. Even with the muted mids and highs which to me is where the most sound stage definition comes from I was still hearing an incredible 3D experience that was at least up there with or ran laps around many of my other headphones (this is why I listed them all above). I loved the deep detailed bass and thought about reaching out to John for a re-tune to balance it all out but then I had an idea. I have been heavy into DIY audio for the last couple years and I have modified a few headphones on my own as you can see on my list. I thought back to when I modded my Sennheiser HD600 and the first thing I did was remove the thin foam sheet that sits between the driver and pads so there was nothing there and I remembered that this one change opened up the highs and mids dramatically. So what I did with the MJ XTC open was just that. I took the pads and cut away the thin sheet that would be between the driver and my ear, so that essentially made them donuts with a direct shot, if that makes sense, and THAT WAS IT! That was what I needed. This one move instantly rocketed the headphones into another dimension for me. Far more revealing and precise than any others listed in my collection. To be clear, this is not at all a knock on anything John does and designs. They’re amazing and I'm sure he could have worked magic on his end, but I have a huge box of pads, I love pad rolling, and with that slight move alone was an incredible change. Way more so than any pad rolling experience I have had in the past. Those past experiences pad rolling have always been something along the lines of slightly heightened this or slightly exaggerated that pad to pad. What I am talking about here is a completely different sonic experience and I didn’t even change the pad, I just cut away that thin fabric on the inside of the pad. This was the first instance in which I realized just how incredibly revealing these headphones can be because I saw just how much they react to that change.

I briefly mentioned the soundstage above and want to dig into that some more here because to me this is where these truly shine next to how they scale with changes. I mainly do two three different types of headphone listening. The first is the full immersive get lost in the transcendent magic of music, the second is listening as company to another task like writing, grading papers, walking, etc., the third is gaming. Before I go on I will say, I did not mention this before, these are super light so they are glorious for long tasks and wearing for hours. Especially with the angled fuzzy pads. In all these three listening modes my #1 thing I look for is an engaging soundstage. I’m going to get right to the point and say that these headphones do things with the sound stage, especially with the pads opened up as I described, that no other headphone I have ever heard has come anywhere close to doing. It is insane. I hear sounds not only to the left and right, I hear them half left and back, far right to the front, up, and down. With the right music, I hear sounds swirling and moving around me in ways that are so immersive and realistic that if I put the right music on and sit back with my eyes closed I will lose myself and come to thinking mere minutes have gone by and the entire album has played. As I type this right now I am listening to the wonderful Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders with the London Symphony Orchestra album and I hear the harpsichord all around me, the bells up and to the left, the voices right behind me, a harp to the lower right, and the actual actuation of the pedals on the harpsichord behind me and to the left. All of these exist in an incredibly realistic natural space. People talk of the Sennheister HD 800s as the soundstage king and to me, the XTC Open as I have set up are what the Sennheiser HD800s wished it was. I had those Sennheisers and I sold them. To me all it was was basically a sonic cheat code for gaming and an unrealistic expansion of what could be an incredible soundstage but just wasn’t. I’m not going to hold onto a $1200 gaming only pair of headphones when I could have these that do a far more realistic version of everything the HD800s promised while also doing perfectly well all other types of listening I do. Bass that is beautiful, real, deep, and so believable that I don’t notice it when it shows up. That’s perfect! In two channel speaker set-ups when you set up the subwoofer, the rule of perfection is that it should fill in the parts of the sound that the speakers do not reach down to but when it hits you cannot notice it. It is invisibly effective. That is the ideal and that is exactly what the bass is like on these headphones. The mids are gorgeous and super detailed and the highs are super clean and super sharp. The let your ears see deep into the recordings.

I had the experience that many have shared when these revealed to me parts of the songs that I never heard before. Songs I have been listening to for 20+ years. It’s really fun. There is a physicality to listening to these headphones for me. These scale very well so the higher up I go the more I’ll get. I was just listening on my Audio-GD chain described above and there are parts of songs that are so clear that i can hear the actuation of piano pedals. This is NOT to be mistaken with to high and pingy. If you have tried to listen to Beyerdynamics for hours, that is no fun. This is. It is not fatiguing. It is lovely and enveloping. All the elements are laid out so clearly on the soundstage that it reminds me of being in live music. If you’ve ever been in a practice room, it’s like that. It’s a realistic separation and placement like nothing I have heard before. This is not only in the high end Audio-GD set up. If I USB connect my Chord Mojo 2 to my computer or ipad it still happens, just not as profoundly. The only description I have read of a pair of headphones that has such a unique experience associated with them that I can think of is the ZMF Atrium but the MSRP on those is over 3x the price and I hear there is a bit of detail loss for the warmth in their signature. I do not have a pair to compare but I do have a pair coming as a self-gift for finishing grad school and I’ll most likely report back with how these stack up. I’m super curious to see how they compare.
This is the first review I have written and my life is not about finding and listening to every headphone I can. I don’t want that life. I wanted to write this because I wish John had more press and praise because over the years of listening to the headphones by big well loved companies, none I can remember bring the experience these XTC Opens do. I’m not saying they’re better, I am saying they are different. New and fresh and SUPER fun. Like I said before, an experience and I would add an experience not to be missed if you like headphones.

There is something magic to me about the $500-$1000ish price range for headphones these days. It’s as if that price zone is where the possibility for designers and engineers to really experiment with new ideas begins to show up. It seems like this price range is where they can start to take big chances and create niches instead of just doing their version of what other people have been doing. What this means for people like me is that this is where I begin to find incredible value in what I buy because this is where I can find headphones that can be precision instruments for specific experiences with specific types of music. A great example of this idea is the Grado RS-1X I have. Those are flawless for rock, jazz, folk, anything with percussion and live recorded instruments for me. Not my favorite on electronic or hip hop though which means I use them only for rock, jazz, and folk and its always a wonderful time. I have heard a lot below $500 like the Sennheiser HD600s, Fostex, noise canceling Sony Bose, and lower end Grados, and Beyers that do most everything well. They aren’t bold and aren't pushing the envelope. They are resting on their laurels in the comfort zone and they do that very well. To date in my top 5 of all time are the Sennheiser HD600s. That said, the $500-$1000 zone is more adventurous to me. It shows me that every part matters. They reveal enough to let me have agency in my listening experience with taking serious consideration in what is in my source chains. The quality of the recordings I listen to reveal themselves for better for for worse, which means with some effort on my part incredible mind bending experiences can happen in this zone. This to me is my favorite. Above $1000 we get designs that start to take the precision of the super fun middle ground and end up, through the ability to spend much more on R&D and engineering, makeing more do-all headphones that basically end up doing everything perfectly. Like a swiss army knife and into the one headphone to do everything idea. Don’t get me wrong, as amazing as it sounds to get some $4000 headphones that do everything perfectly like my full collection would, that sounds awesome for sure but I like collecting and that sounds like cheating and no fun. I like the dig, the search for stuff like these headphones. For the rest of us, most adults with a job can save up for a while and if they really want, get a pair of $500-$1000 headphones and comparable dac and amp and begin to have one of many “Holy crap I didn’t know what they were talking about would be THIS good.” experiences and I HIGHLY recommend doing so. Every time I put these JM Audio XTC Opens on my mind is blown into a million pieces. Bang for the buck, price to performance, in all my time listening to headphones I don’t know that I have found a set that comes anywhere close to these below $1000 and I will be surprised if I do anytime soon.

If you are on the fence, just reach out and email John at https://www.jmaudioeditions.com/. I don’t work for him, I just think he’s a good dude who is super passionate about what he does and what he does is both absolutely incredible and the best value I’ve found in years. Don’t forget, these are extremely revealing headphones if you get them set up the way I have mine, it might take a bit of navigation with pad rolling, tube rolling, source chain combination, or emails back and forth to find your synergy but he is offering to tune these specifically to what you want and will take them back for a re-tune until it is perfect. What is there to lose?


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what the heck are you a professional reviewer? why you have so much gear are you rich or something?
I'm neither a professional reviewer. This is the first I've written. But thanks. I'm 43 and know how to save money.

Nothing compares to these. Not that they're better or worse than any others. If you read what I wrote, I describied the ability to work with the designer to tune to your liking so that means nothing else will sound like them.


100+ Head-Fier
XTC – A passion project masterpiece you need to try for yourself
Pros: Feels very light in the hands and the cups themselves are very rigid
Range of adjustment for cups and headband is good (Audeze style headband). Stays seated on head when moving it around a lot
Connectors are placed correctly and use standard 3.5mm. Have a nice clicking mechanism
Proper dynamics are there (different, correct volumes at different parts of the stage depending on the frequencies coming through)
Punchy, good quantity bass without mixing or bleeding into the mids (sounds similar to standing in front of a speaker)
Mids are smooth and sound natural to me
Didn’t notice any harshness in the treble or sharpness to leading/trailing notes, but as I asked for, the vocals are somewhat elevated which some people might not like (I do like that though)
Imaging and staging are great and can be used for competitive gaming at a high level in fps games like Call of Duty
Cons: Vertical adjustment of headband is sometimes difficult because it doesn’t want to move up/down the pegs on the metal rod (the nature of this type of headband).
Requires a decent amount of power to get a full sound. You can still use a dongle on your phone, but make sure it isn’t a gimped one (volume/power wise) like using the Apple one on Android phones (putting this as a con so people don’t use under-powered laptops or dongles and complain about flat sound).



Amp/Dac used: HiFiMan EF400



I’ll keep it simple. XTC Open will be going up against the Sennheiser 8XX sticker mod, the Hifiman HE6SEV2 with a Geekria headband cover, and the Focal Stellia.

All these headphones are great, but I’ll rank them roughly with some quick tests. If I can’t tell much difference (in which one I prefer over the other), I’ll put them as about equal. This ranking may be different depending on ears and EQ but we will keep this as a stock comparison.


Build quality from best to worst: XTC, 8XX SM, Stellia, HE6SEV2.

While the 8XX is built great it isn’t going to survive as much abuse as the rigid materials of the XTC would. The 8XX admittedly has a more flawless look, but I weigh durability higher than then that. Connectors on the 8XX also suck imo.

The Stellia creaks and does not have an easily replaceable headband. It looks great but doesn’t feel like it would survive much damage honestly. The leather stains fairly easily as well. You can also make it clip but I don’t listen that loud.

The HE6 has honestly joke build quality for the price, but you are really paying for the drivers and not the build there. The headband is a hotspot after 30 minutes for me without the headband cover.

Bass from best to worst: XTC=Stellia, HE6SEV2, 8XX SM

Both XTC and Stellia have juicy, full, punchy bass. I give quantity to XTC and quality to Stellia. HE6 loses on quantity and quality, but not by much at all honestly. 8XX has good sounding bass, but just doesn’t have impact/weight. You just don’t buy the HD800 series if you are a bass head since even EQ doesn’t bring them to the level of these other 3 headphones.

Mids from best to worst: XTC=8XX SM, HE6SEV2=Stellia

XTC and 8XX mids both are pretty ideal to me sounding pleasant and smooth. HE6 and Stellia both need EQ to fix mids imo and even then, don’t have the same smoothness as the XTC and 8XX.

Treble from best to worst: HE6SEV2, 8XX SM=XTC=Stellia

I actually find the HE6 to excel in treble more than bass. It sounds the most accurate to me out of all these headphones there. I am able to hear the most treble detail with it as well. 8XX is close behind since it also brings out a lot of treble detail and I put the XTC on par with it since the XTC brings out slightly less treble detail, but has a less spiky sound and has no sibilance I could find. I think the Stellia also has slightly more treble detail, but is spiky as well at times. This section was hard for me though since I like the different sounds of all these headphones in the treble, but out of all 4 the XTC is definitely the easiest one to listen to.

Imaging from best to worst: 8XX SM, XTC, Stellia=HE6SEV2

8XX wins here for precise imaging in games. XTC is almost on the same level, and Stellia and HE6 have good positional imaging, but either lack some depth or accurate distance. The XTC is better at depth to me than the 8XX, but the 8XX is more precise in general for getting the exact location of things. All 4 headphones are actually what I consider great imaging, but if you try listening for footsteps and gunshot locations in games you will notice the differences.

Dynamics from best to worst: Stellia, XTC, HE6SEV2, 8XX SM

Stellia clearly wins here, but can be painful at times with the sudden volume swings. XTC edges HE6 due to bass dynamics (the HE6 does have them but not as pronounced). 8XX at the bottom because of being fairly flat sounding in general in terms in volume variance.

Separation from best to worst: 8XX SM, HE6SEV2, XTC, Stellia

My ears had a hard time with this honestly as all these headphones separate really well. I put 8XX first here because I had the easiest time with it’s staging allowing me to here the most layers in a track. HE6 has the slight edge over the XTC here just seeming clearer on multiple successive fast notes and in orchestral. Stellia actually doesn’t seem to hold together at a very high pace at least compared to these other headphones and I did try at higher volumes as well. It was mushing stuff together more in the treble region especially. Maybe this is caused by being closed back, I haven’t tried Utopia yet to compare.

Comparison extra:

I would argue that all 4 of these headphones are fairly similar on the technical side though overall since I had a hard time comparing them that way. I could again see you having a different preference, but I think overall the XTC still wins this comparison as being the most balanced and easy to listen to even with scalpel (detailed) tuning on it. The XTC has the best all around package. It still comes very close to 8XX in gaming while having much better bass and dynamics for music. The Stellia driver has more detail, but it’s not by enough to justify the weird other things about that headphone considering the high price of it. The HE6 falls over in build quality and to me it excels only in treble. Sure, it has amazing bass compared to a lot of other planars, but when compared to something like the Stellia or XTC it just doesn’t match up there.

Edit: Got Audeze CRBN and Stax SRM-D50 (for a juicy discount so I couldn't refuse).
CRBN are the best headphone I have now imo, but somewhat a pain because of needing to maintain a seal, and needing a decent amp or the diaphragm gets stuck to the stators (with the cheaper Kingsound amp I have the sound is the same as the Stax amp, but it can't handle the voltage swing so it gets stuck if you break the seal then you have to discharge the headphones). Also EQ in bass at the very least is needed for CRBN for my tastes it is too lean stock (and this is one of the estats that are better at bass). Would still daily XTC over it for non-dedicated listening sessions.

Songs used:

Hans Zimmer Pirates – Live in Prague:

AlienPls (turn the volume down or rip ears):

Galaxy Collapse:

3D Binaural guitars with separate strings:

HD Headphone/Speaker test, Low, Mid, High:

Through the Fire and Flames:

Removed twitch link since the streamer seems to have gone MIA.


These headphones are exceptional for the price when you consider the build, sound quality, and tuning/driver selection. If you are looking for all in one package that doesn’t compromise on any aspects this could very well be your musical friend for years to come. The hard work John put in shows. I agree with the other review on here that this is one of the best headphones I have heard for pure music enjoyment. This headphone gives the best of the big name brands a run for their money. You could have these as your main or only headphone and be perfectly satisfied. If I had to keep one of these 4 headphones it would be the XTC and that goes to show the strong value proposition from it.

As a side note I have the JM Opus X (tuned warm) which uses the bio nano wool driver. That driver is also excellent and the better choice than beryllium if you want a warmer tuning or even more bass.
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I wish I read this before man that is some thought out useful review. So you never had to send them back to retune? Whats warranty? weight?
From John's website: 14-16 ounces - as a comparison the Hifiman Arya weigh in at 404g / 14.3oz. It has warranty, but I don't remember the length you can ask John or someone else will know maybe. I'm happy with the tuning he gave me with these and the bio-wool ones I have are totally fine as well with a warm tuning (even though I prefer bright normally which the XTC I asked for lean more towards that).


1000+ Head-Fier
Holy Crap, these are how much!?
Pros: Amazing lows
Great mids
Good highs that avoid sharpness
So Freaking light
Cons: The cable is slightly microphonic
VERY slightly muted highs
XTC Quarter.jpg

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Up for review today is the new JM Audio (JMA) XTC (ecstasy?) Open back (XTC-O) - I believe I am one of the first people to receive these. Please keep in mind I bought these with my own money at full price and received nothing in exchange for this review (all of these opinions are my own, sorry, not sorry.) This is the limited Black color, other color options can be found at JMAudioEditions.com along with the closed-back version - which has some great looking wood earcups. According to JMA, they are at an introductory price right now to let people (like me) get the chance to listen to them since this is JM Audio's first non-limited in-house release. Spoiler alert for those of you who don't want to read my ramblings below: These are some of the best headphones I've ever heard - go buy a pair before the cat's out of the bag and the price rises. These are true Giant Killers (yeah, I hate that term too, but it applies here.)

So what makes these different from the mainstream audio companies? JMA claims they spent a year trying to find the best-sounding drivers - after listening to the XTC-O, I believe it. JMA also has proprietary technology using their "patent pending fractal fiberglass mesh and porous mesh to expand the perceived sound stage and depth while maintaining integrity of the signal without dampening or attenuating any one frequency." In layman's terms, their tech enhances the soundstage. Also, they obsess over having everything in phase and each XTC goes through a barrage of tests to ensure you're getting the best possible end product.

These are made in the USA and shipped from JMA's HQ in New York. They will also tune each headphone to whatever sound profile you're looking for, so a much bassier version or more detailed version are possible as well. Contact JMA and let them know what you want - this review is based on the version they built for me after some back and forth discussion (I'm not sure what tune mine is, but definitely not the "Club" sound version.) Each headphone also comes with a one year warranty and from what I've seen, JMA will retune a headphone for you if you don't like the sound.

XTC Case Closed.jpg

Build Quality/Comfort:

My first impression after picking the XTC-O up out of the box was how insanely light they were (feels right around 400g). Compared to my RAD-0 (600g), these are very lightweight, and also have a more comfortable headband with good clamping pressure and comfortable earpads. There are no hotspots or eardrum pressure caused by the headband or earcups. The earcups have a beautiful black grill on them that avoids ZMFs gaudy designs while still providing excellent structural integrity. The black gloss earcups look great and feel like premium quality as well.

The XLR4 cable (other terminations are available - 3.5 is standard) that came with mine works beautifully and my only complaint there is that it is slightly microphonic when moving my head. The carrying case was a pelican-style case that will protect the headphones from just about anything. Multiple other earpads were included as well to allow for different sound signatures, but the stock ones work beautifully so the other ones may just sit in the case. There are a ton of pad options that you can order with the XTC as well that will change up the sound signature including fuzzy ones!

Maybe you're thinking to yourself, wow, all of that sounds great, but I only have a potato to power these with, can my potato-amp(tm) run these? The XTC-O are VERY easy-to-drive headphones - literally, they were at listening volume at 1/100 on my Burson Conductor 3XP using balanced XLR-4 with High Gain (the default - RAD-0 were 20.) On low gain, they sit at 45/100 for comfortable listening volume while the RAD-0 is around 65/100. I don't have an unbalanced cable to test how they drive, but I assume it requires more power (side note: I tested my GHJM with XLR4 and 6.3mm and the same volume level was achieved at 40 on XLR4 and 60 on 6.3mm with low gain - assume the XTC are similar).

XTC Case Open.jpg


While I’ve owned a lot of high-end headphones, including the Meze Empyrean, Hifiman HE-1000 v2 (HEKv2,) and Focal Utopia 2020, that doesn’t mean that I can pick apart specific frequencies without instrumentation (feel free to send me things to take measurements with.) On the plus side, neither can most other people, and it makes for a boring read, so below are MY impressions on the sound – deal with it, or go write your own review (I don't get paid to do this and it is a massive time suck.) I will list the songs I use to test certain aspects of headphones and you can find my Tidal headphone test tracks playlist in my sig if you want to try your own headphones to compare. Also, I don’t have an accurate way to differentiate between mids and highs (most people don’t - can you really tell when vocals cross over 2000 Hz without measurements?), so I prefer to list specific instruments and vocals and let you judge.

XTC Case Front.jpg


I am not someone who enjoys having his brains scrambled by insane bass, and these are not tuned to be the headphones for you if you are (JMA WILL tune them for you so that your brain looks like an omelet if you'd like, or try the JMA XTC Closed (XTC-C) or the Kennerton Gjallarhorn GH 50 JM Edition v2 (GHJM), or the Symphonium Meteor for that.) That said, I do like good, clean, impactful bass representation - whether it's drums, bass guitar, or sub-synth. The XTC-O has without a doubt THE BEST bass representation I've ever heard - maybe even perfect. It has crisp, detailed bass that is superior to any of the reference headphones I've listened to (Utopia, HEKv2) without being TOO much - like some basshead headphones (looking at you GHJM with bass plugs out.) The bass is still extremely full and registers some sounds that my RAD-0 cannot reproduce. Also, the bass manages to not overwhelm the mids and highs, which still come through beautifully - no clue how JMA pulled that off, but bravo.

I always start a bass test with The Knife's "Silent Shout." This song is easily the fastest way to test whether the bass is good on a set of headphones - The Utopia, and to a lesser extent, the HE-1000 v2 for instance, are very bass-light on this song. The XTC-O has an excellent presentation of the two intro bass drums without getting bloated or overwhelming. The other song I typically use to test bass is David Guetta's "I'm Good (Blue)." The intro bass drum is full and clean and when the sub-bass comes in with so much reverb that I swear I stopped breathing. Yet, it doesn't take things too far like some other bassier headphones (once again, JMA sells those options if that's your thing.) To conclude, the XTC-O have the best sounding lows I've ever heard in a headphone.

XTC Lambo.jpg

Instruments and vocals:

The soundstage is medium-large - sort of like being in a small performance hall without the terrible school-hallway echo that headphones like the Sennheiser HD8XX have. There is a sense of a large soundstage, but the vocals and instruments still come in like you're standing next to the performers. I have more song comparisons below than normal because these headphones deserve more listening than most:

Starting off with mids, Thousand Foot Krutch's "I See Red" has fantastic detail on the guitars with beautiful reverberation and detail and the same can be said for the vocals when they come in - everything has excellent balance and clarity. This is true for Paradise Fears "Battle Scars" - there is no overwhelming low-end and the instruments and vocals are excellently presented. Ravenscode's "Be The Same" can have a really harsh transition at 0:35 when the distorted guitars come in, but the XTC-O manages to make that transition with no unnecessary harshness and without drowning out the drums or vocals. The Dirty Heads "Sound of Change" has a very challenging transition at 0:35 that a lot of headphones struggle with as they transition from vocals to vocals with drums and guitars, but the XTC-O manages to perform it beautifully without any harshness or distortion and all without drowning out any of the guitars or synths in the background. Seriously, these have fantastic mids to go with the top-notch lows.

Moving to the highs, I do have to point out that they do have slightly muted highs compared to the RAD-0 (which are considered perfectly tuned highs by most reviewers). That may be my fault because I complained that the GHJM had harsh highs, so JMA may have tuned them down for me. I wouldn't say that any part is missing and they do avoid all harshness in the upper frequencies of vocals and instruments. An example of this is Written By Wolves' "Elastic Heart" which can have the tendency to have a very high-pitched and annoying noise (high-hat?) in the background which is most evident at 1:08 - the XTC-O manages to display that sound without it being annoying. That said, the RAD-0 portrays that high-pitched sound more clearly while also preventing any harshness from the sound (to be clear, this is an insane level of nitpick, but if I'm going to say that these compete with $3,000+ headphones, I'm going to nitpick). The vocals and guitars still come through beautifully and the lows don't drown out any part of the mids and highs in this song.

Michele McLaughlin's "At the Ivy Gate" shows how wonderfully the XTC-O represents piano - it literally feels like I'm sitting in the room with her as she plays and every note comes across with excellent detail and clarity, even the high notes. Mariana's Trench's "Astoria" is a great example of Josh Ramsey's fantastic voice, and the entire intro is about as high as you can expect vocals to ever go (I saw this song live in 2016.) Starting at 2:20, the XTC-O manages to do a fantastic presentation of all of the notes, but compared to the RAD-0, the guitars do overwhelm the vocals a tad on this song - more than the RAD-0 does in the same section. Surprisingly, after listening to these headphones back to back, the RAD-0 feels flatter in the same section - it's missing parts in the mids that the XTC-O presents and the RAD-0 sounds a little harsher and less "warm." This is the same problem I had with the bass on the RAD-0 - it feels like parts of the song are missing, which I never would have noticed unless I was listening to both.

After comparing these two headphones back to back (I have both on my desk, so a back-to-back comparison is easy) I honestly think the XTC-O is my favorite of the two (it has the fuller sound) - I never thought I'd say that the RAD-0 was the harsher and thinner sounding headphone in a comparison with ANYTHING since it was my previous favorite headphone. Crap - now JMA just needs to make headphones as pretty as the RAD-0 haha. I may need to get the XTC-C now.


I've already covered a pretty good comparison between the XTC-O and RAD-0 above because it was easy to swap the XLR4 back and forth and listen to songs back to back between the XTC-O and RAD-0. I can't do that with the other headphones I've owned, all I can do is provide from memory (unless you feel like sending me headphones to compare.) To give you an idea of what I've owned on my quest to find the best headphones, I traded my DROP Focal Elex for Meze Empyreans, which had too much bass with the leather earpads and a thinner overall sound with the velour pads. So, I traded them for the Focal Utopia 2020, which does have fantastic speed and detail but is a VERY neutral sound that I never liked that much. So, I picked up the Hifiman HE-1000 v2 (yeah, I was following Crinnacle's rankings for awhile, he and I have VERY different ideas of good sound,) and those have similar detail to the Utopia, but with a better low-end. Lastly, I sold those when I got my RAD-0s because the RAD-0s have an even better low-end with a little less detail, but fantastic mids and highs that are a great "fun" sound (more V-shaped I guess.)

Do the XTC-O have the detail and speed of the Focal Utopia on the highs and mids? Nope, they're not made with $1k worth of Beryllium - but it's close, with a more fun/better low-end. Do they match the RAD-0s highs? It's really close, but not quite, yet they present details in the bass and mids that the RAD-0 doesn't even know are there while providing an overall more-full sound. Are they the bass cannons that the Gjallarhorn GH50s are? Nope, they have less bass, but it is much cleaner, tighter, and more well-represented without losing the bass like the RAD-0 or the HEKv2 and Utopia. They also beat the GH50 in the mids and highs. These are the best all-around headphone I've ever listened to - there, I said it. Good job JMA.

XTC Desk Side.jpg


These are not your next neutral reference headphone with which to critically listen to every string in Mozart's Violin Concerto No 3 while sipping your Pappy Van Winkle 23- those headphones will cost $5k+ (so will the Pappy.) The XTC-O is the headphone to listen to rock, EDM, rap, piano - and yes, even classical strings, for enjoyment and detail and beautifully represented bass. These are my favorite headphones ever. Please keep in mind that mine are pretty heavily modified by JMA to my tastes, so you may have to ask for the Wolfhawk tuning - or, get them tuned to your own preferences. Also, a non-microphonic cable would be nice, but at least the quality/sound from the cable is excellent.

Yeah, yeah - I get it. I sound like a fan-boy, but I actually had several issues with JMAs modified Kennerton Gjallarhorn (that's more the fault of Kennerton's driver design than JMA though.) JMA has managed to put amazing TOTL drivers into lightweight headphones and offer them for an insane price. The XTC-O manages to compete with some of the best headphones on the market for a FRACTION of the price, but I doubt they'll stay at this price - we're looking at the next Audeze-like startup. Grab a pair before they sell out or increase in price.

You can buy these here: https://www.jmaudioeditions.com/product-page/new-inventory-xtc

Headphone Scoring - Each category can be split into quarter points:
Build Quality
Ear Pads / Tips
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The closed version I have unfortunately suffer from a weak isolation, on the go it does not isolate well from outside noise and this weakness spoiled the sound.
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Yeah, they're not made for that. The B&W Px8 is a good on the go headphone. Pick something with noise canceling for that.
Not necessary, my VC is great on the go and well isolated.
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