Sash Tres

General Information

Built on order planar headphones from Ukranian one man company. Drivers are built in house. Comes with optional detachable wooden cups so headphones can be used as open or closed. Cups and cable can be customised according to customers preferences. Price is $350 +$50 for optional closed and semiopen cups.

Specifications by the manufacturer:

- Planar magnetic drivers for better dynamics and frequency response - Premium leather for style and durability - Large film diaphragms - Double-sided magnetic structure - Style: Over-ear, open-back, сlosed-Back - Transducer type: Planar magnetic - Magnetic structure: Proprietary magnet array - Magnet type: Neodymium N52 - Transducer size: 100 mm - Maximum power handling: 5W RMS - Maximum SPL: >130dB - Frequency response: 10Hz – 20kHz - THD: < 0.1% 100dB - Impedance: 16 ohms - Sensitivity: 96dB/1mw (at Drum Reference Point) - Minimum power requirement: >100mW - Recommended power level: >250mW

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Latest reviews

Customizable planar at an entry level price
Pros: - In many ways this is the best sounding headphone under $500 I've heard
- Expansive soundstage with precise imaging. Both with open and closed version.
- Clear but not thin mids
- Adequate bass
- Semi-open and closed back cups can be purchased as an extra instead of being two different headphones.
- Customised on order cups and cables.
Cons: - With open back version there is some unwanted ringing/glare/haze in the midrange
- Treble can be bit grainy and too energetic on occasion
- I would prefer suspension headband (New suspension headband is being designed)
- Earpads could still use some work. (New earpads are being designed)
- Cable durability is questionable
- Closed version is too V-shaped for many people
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Since the introduction of Sash Deux Ukranian one man headphone manufacturer Studio Audio Sound Handmade has made some name for itself. You can read my review of Sash Deux here and dedicated Sash thread can be found here. Manufacturers facebook page is here.

Like with it's predecessor purchasing the headphones begins with choosing the preferred cable termination, finish for the wood parts and size of the optional semiopen/closed back cups. Sash Deux had only the option of thin wood cups very much like on Audeze LCD-XC. Tres has three different sizes and optional spacer part which would make the cups even bigger.

Headphones cost $350+$20 for worldwide shipping. Closed back and semi-open cups cost $50. So pricewise Sash Tres is still competing with planars like Hifiman Sundara and Verum One. I'm glad Sash did not go overboard increasing the price over the previous model. Sash Deux also sold for $350 so closed back being optional on Tres, price difference is just the cost of having to buy the closed cups seperately. Tres have a new driver, earpads and headband so modest price increase is a very welcome change in the headphone market. As a nice extra Sash offers $50 discount for old customers when they buy new headphones.

Build quality and comfort:

Aesthetically not much has changed since the Deux. Open version cup dimensions are still the same. It's a big headphone. According to my kitchen scale the weight is 490g without cable. It is a lot but not unusual. Reported weight of Audeze LCD-2c is 550g and the Audeze's are made of plastic. I think more apt comparison would the wooden LCD-2 which according to Audeze weights 595g or 580g depending on the wood type. Verum One, similar size planar but plastic cups weights 520g. So 490g is not bad for a big wooden planar however people who are sensitive to heavy headphones would be better served with Hifiman Sundara which is only 372g.

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Sash Tres closed back looks huge even next to JVC DX700...
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...and even bigger next to Beyerdynamic T1
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Earpad system has remained unchanged. I'll just quote myself from the Deux review: "Earpads attachement is a simple twist lock system. Definately nicer than glue system used by Audeze or system used by Hifiman. Hifiman system is basically simple but I don't like how one has to bend the attaching ring a bit and every time take a risk of breaking it. My only gripe with the earpad system is that the ring is glued on the earpad. So no aftermarket earpads unless one is willing to do some diy. I hope in the future models that ring will be removable like on Fostex headphones or better yet, removable Verum style magnet ring."

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Pads itself are now different. Pads on Tres are thicker and softer than ones on Deux. There is also bigger angle in the pads. The pads are definately improved but in my opinion they are still not as good as they should be. Foam kind of collapses and after a while it there will be some pressure felt. Good quality memory foam would solve this problem. Sasha(Lyah - guy who makes the headphones) told me that he is currently working on alternative earpads (perforated leather, Velour, Hybrid). Hopefully new pads will be better for long term comfort. As they are the pads are not bad but average at best.
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Headband has also been redeveloped. It does not look that different from the Deux headband but because of the different shape it is much better for people with larger heads. It is still made of plastic which in my opinion does not match the luxurious look of the headphones. I think the headband padding has not changed. It is well padded but since it glued to headband it might eventually come off because headband will bend when worn. New headband also has screws which can be tightened to fix the yokes in a desired position. People who have owned older Audeze LCD headphones now what I mean.

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New headband is curved and taller. Tres fitted with semi-open cups.

With this kind of big headphones suspension strap headband design would be more comfortable. Good news is that Sasha is working on that. Here are some prototype pictures.
Tres headband2.jpgTres headband1.jpgTres headband3.jpg

Yokes have gone through a small redesign too. Metal is now good bit thinner than on Deux. I suppose it is to reduce weight but I think the old design was better. Thicker metal looks better imo and this new desing brought up a new problem. Thin metal does not fully keep its form and keeps moving away from the cups. This will cause a slight pulling force on the screws which makes the screws turn over time. Every now and then I have to tighten the screws. Not the biggest design error but annoying nonetheless.

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Besides the new pads and headband build has not changed. Grilles are still plastic and attached with four allen screws. Metal grille would in my opinion look more classy but seeing that people seem to be into 3d-printing custom grilles on their headphones these days it seems using plastic is not a problem for many.

Quality of the woodwork is excellent as it was with the Deux. My Tres are colored in wenge and I wanted Sasha not to over do the coating so alot of the woodgrain would still be visible despite the dark color. Cups are made of oak which is currently the only wood option.

Cable is the same it was on Deux. Mini-xlr to whatever jack people prefer. It's a nice cloth covered cable with a metal splitter. Cable microphonics are low and it does not seem to tangle easily. I like that the cable is built in house not sourced from alibaba like it is too often the case. Weird enough, I just talked with a fellow Tres owner and he showed me a picture of insulation material coming through the cable exterior. Luckily cable is not completely broken so he can still use the headphones. Cable is not woven very tight so there is a real possibility that this won't be a one time incident.
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My cable with 6.3mm jack. I think that is the same Beyerdynamic uses on T1.


Sound quality:

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Tres (black) frequency response with Sennheiser hd650 (red) for reference. Nevermind those dips at 5-6khz as it is known minidsp ears glitch. That treble peak near 16khz on Sennheiser is propably a problem with my particular ears unit.


If we think Audeze housesound at one end for darker sounding planars and Hifiman at the other end with the light and ethereal sound Sash Tres would be something inbetween. Despite my measurements showing roll of from 800hz to lower treble region Tres is definately not a dark sounding headphone. Previously I have described these as rather dark sounding but not at Audeze territory dark. I don't know what has changed, my perception of dark/neutral/bright or the headphones but I withdraw everything I've said about these being dark. These might appear dark after listening something like Beyerdynamic DT1990 but pretty much anything does.

BASS:

Bass extension is average for a planar. I was told that with redesigning the drivers Sasha aimed to improve subbass extension and slam. Sash Deux had a firmer (too tight for some) clamp and because of that the seal was better which results in better bass response. I think subbass is about the same now as it was on Deux so with lesser clamp I'd say new driver does work the way intended. Bass slam is not particularly great but better than on Verum or any Hifiman headphones I've heard (All HE400 variations, Sundara, HE560, Ananda).

MIDS:

Sash Deux had a problem with midrange peaks at 1khz and near 500hz. Particularly that 1khz region made them very aggressive sounding and with some music it could be too much. Tres is still a very midforwad headphone but problem with Deux has mostly been fixed. There is still a peak at 600hz-800hz but it's not as bad as it was with Deux but it would still need some taming.

Overall mids have very nice clarity without any thinnes to them. For sake of comparison I think Hifiman Sundara is about as transparent (as in not having veil) but it does not have enough body. Beyerdynamic DT1990 sounds thicker than Sundara but is veiled compared to Tres. In my experience no other headphone near this price reaches this level of midrange realism. There is however this annoying slight glare of sorts howering over the presentation. It is not present at all times but when it is there I find it very annoying. To my ears it sometimes comes of as a "metallic haze" other times it's more like a distant reverb. I think it is the same issue dispite it can manifest itself in different ways. It's not drastic but it is there. I suspect it is ringing somewhere around 1khz but since I suck at measuring I can't verify it at this moment. It's a shame really because without that the midrange on these would be exceptionally good. It might be worth looking into dampening the cups more, or trying other earpads in case that glare is not caused by driver design itself. On the other hand it seems I'm the only one bothered by this issue so in this case I don't see many people willing to tinker with their headphones. Tres with closed cups don't have this problem or not atleast enough to bother me which suggests it is likely some resonance which could be treated.

HIGHS:

I have mixed feelings about treble performance. Highs are bit uneven but luckily not sibilant or piercing. It's nice to have all that air on top but overall I think overall treble presence is too much for my taste. Treble on Tres does not make a number of itself not for good or bad. Could be worse I suppose and truth be told I can't think of a affordable headphone with particularly impressive treble.

SOUNDSTAGE AND IMAGING:

I don't know if it is because of the new driver, new pads or combination of both but soundstage has improved from the Deux. Presentation is quite unique. It reminds me of diffuse style soundstage such as on Sennheiser HD800 or Verum One. Tres however don't go all the way to that direction as it still maintains more traditional presentation which allows more pinpoint imaging without everything blending together too much.

COMPARISONS:

Hifiman Sundara

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I'm a fan of Sundara's and I've often recommended them to people looking for headphones under $500. For $350 Sundaras normally go for it's one of the best value headphones around.

With Sash Deux Sundara's still had a place in my collection but after getting the Tres that changed. Sundara had upper hand on Deux in soundstage and it's airier sound but with Tres having a bigger soundstage and equally clear and airy sound I can't think of a reason to own Sundara anymore. To my ears Sundara does nothing better than Tres. Except for being lighter and more comfortable.

Audeze LCD-1

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This is propably a comparison I should not be making as I consider LCD-1 to be a major disappointment. I had hoped it would capture atleast some of the "Audeze magic" which it's bigger brothers are known for but in my opinion it did no such thing.

Even though Tres is not a bass master in the planar world it easily outperforms LCD-1 in this regard. My crappy measurements don't show it but to my ears extension, slam and bass solidity are much better on Tres.

LCD-1 sounds veiled and allmost congested compared to Tres. Only thing it has going for it is the portability and lighter weight. LCD-1 is a (a lot) smaller headphone so it was unlikely it could complete with a proper full size headphone. Comparing these two is not entirely out of line. LCD-1 is a openback planar with big (90mm according to Audeze) driver and at $399 it also costs a bit more than Tres.

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LCD-1 is petite compared to Sash Tres

Audeze LCD-2 Classic

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Since it's clear LCD-1 can't compete with the Tres it is natural to proceed to a higher end Audeze. LCD-2c (msrp $799) is whole another beast compared to LCD-1. Tres can't compete with that famous Audeze bass. Again it can't be seen with my crappy measurements but bass on Audeze extends lower (or atleast it maintains the "rumble" better). Audeze slams harder and does better job seperating different bassnotes. It's just no contest.

When progressing towards midrange things take turn in Tres favor. LCD-2c has trace of nasality which made me sell LCD-3f last year. It's not as bad on LCD-2c but it's there. Tres sound more clear and detailed making LCD-2c sound completely muffled in comparison. I must admit though that Audeze does what it does in good taste. Even though I don't like what I hear it does not give me a vibe of a bad headphone. It's just not what I like (except for the bass).

Regarding treble I think it's up to what one prefers. My preferred treble quantity is somewhere between the two. I think Audeze's more toned down treble gives music more room to breathe compared to occasionally excessive treble on Tres. Theoretically this would give Audeze an opportunity to represent fine details and nyances better than Tres. Unfortunately to Audeze, Tres is most of the time more capable of extruding small details from music even when with the treble masking other frequencies on occasion.

Soundstage is bigger on Tres, both width and debth. Audeze has more proportionate soundstage with debth being more in line with the width. Tres places a listener further back and Audeze has more intimate presentation. Once again neither is better with preferred style being up to the listener. I prefer the Tres because I'm bit of a nut for large soundstages and because I listen to alot of music from 70's and 80's. Music with extreme left/right stereo panning can sound weird on Audeze because sounds just creep too close to my ears.

Because Tres is very similar to Audeze in it's design it's worth saying few things about the build quality. Pads on Audeze are top notch, propably one of the best on the market with the exception of ZMF stuff. They're very comfortable and provide an excellent seal around the ears. Tres can't compete with that. Suspension headband on Audeze is great too. It looks good and feels great to wear. Not that Tres has a bad headband, it just is not same premium league. When taking the price into equation it makes sense. LCD-2c is $799, headband and yoke rods cost $155 when bought seperately. So even though soundwise I would not take LCD-2c's over the Tres, regarding build and comfort there are things gained if one were to spend over double the money.
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iBasso SR1

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The iBasso SR1 is one of the lesser known headphones out there but it is also my favorite dynamic headphone under $500 (I'm unclear about current pricing and availability of Fostex TR-X00, it's another fine dynamic near $500) so I really wanted to do this comparison. iBasso SR1 was a limited run headphone. Only 500 were made and price was $499.

SR1 is a laid back easy to listen headphone with VERY good bass, especially for a open back dynamic headphone. It has 50mm bio-cellulose driver with suspension edges. Very similar to Fostex so bass performance is not all that surprising. Tres can outperform SR1's bass with fast paced music (black/death metal etc) but it does not have the same impact or not even the seemingly endless extension SR1's have.

SR1's have a nice gradually downwards sloping mids which give the mids a sense of body. Tres do that too but not in such refined manner. I really like the mids on SR1 but once again Tres excell in clarity over competition. Next to the Tres veil on SR1 is obvious.

Treble on SR1 is mellow but it lack air up top making them sound a bit...well, dead. In the graph one can see treble being pretty much gone around 16khz. That is not a measurement glitch. Sr1 really has a well audible frequency range from 10hz to 16khz! It is not that bad of course because not much goes on up there and most people over 30 can't hear beyond that anyway. Unfortunately lack of energy in the highest regions does affect the overall sound of the headphones making this problem for SR1.

Soundstage on SR1 is quite intimate. Tres is in another level completely. Imaging on SR1 is very good but it doesn't quite compete with tres.

SR1 will remain in my "stable" for relaxed listening as I find it's tonality more agreeable to my ears then other laid back headphones such as Audeze or Audioquest Nighthawk. From pure performance standpoint it can't compete with Sash Tres. For me excellent bass performance can't make up for lack of air in the treble, veil in the midrange and small(ish) soundstage. I can we'll understand if someone would take SR1 over the Tres as it is still very good at what it does; providing mellow sound with great bass.
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Using Sash Tres as a closed back headphone

Closed cups are attached with four screws after removing the plastic grille used in open version. It will use different longer screws as cups are so thick. With Sash Deux you could use the same screws. In theory it is simple but sometimes it takes a while to get it right. It's a handmade headphone not precision crafted in some high tech facility so there is certain amount of irregularity with the dimensions. It's propably within 1mm but when you want to attach a round thing with four screws it will take some wiggling to make the cups fit. Other times it works at one try. Not a big problem but it would be nice if there was a faster way to change between the cups.

Interchangeable cups have been the thing that really sets Sash headphones apart the competition. Unfortunately with Sash Deux it was poorly implemented. It just did not sound good. I'm glad to report that it is not the case with Sash Tres.

It wan't turn the headphones into Tres with isolation but sonics change in a drastic way. Closed back Tres is very V-shaped. I think it's good thing as this really makes it a two in one headphone. If you don't care for V-shaped response just save the $50.


So how V-shaped is it exactly? It's close to Campfire Audio Cascade sound after removing the white filter. That is too much for many people but some people (me included) like it. I used Cascade's without the white filter for a long time and in many ways I preferred it over Fostex TH900.

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Unfortunately I realized the similarity later when I had allready sold the Cascades so I can't do a proper comparison. It would have been nice because just going by what I remember of Cascades I can't say I recall it being clearly superior to Tres. What I do remember is that Tres as closed back had a bigger soundstage than Cascade. Closed Tres actually has bigger soundstage than Tres open. It is also strangely three dimensional if not the most accurate with imaging. It is very fun with electronic music that has a lot of effects coming in from different directions.

I wish I could do more comparisons but only closed headphone I have that is comparable to Tres is Aeon Flow Closed.

Tres closed vs AFC

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Bass on Tres closed sounds allmost like a bass from a traditional dynamic headphone next to AFC. Tres is agressive and punchy with percussion. There is a sense of actual HIT but with AFC it is more of light touch. On low notes Tres hits harder but AFC has better bass defination. It's kind of fun sound vs monitor type of situation. This difference is made even bigger by the audible resonances that Tres has in it's wood cups. It's not entirely unwanted resonance but just something that colors the sound.

The differences in presentation are consistent in every area. AFO sounds bit veiled in comparison but Tres can come off as grainy next to smooth presentation of AFC. This is the same for both mids and highs. This makes me listen to the headphones differently. With Tres I tend to lower the volume while listening with AFC I crank it up.

I think that AFC is technically the more correct headphone here. Personally I find AFC's to sound quite dead so I much prefer the Tres here. Despite being near "perfect" AFC is just not engaging at all. To turn it opposite if one really enjoys AFC, Tres might be too much to handle with it's brighter treble, cup reflections and grain.

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Tuning/modding the Tres

I have not had the time to experiment with the different cups, spacers and dampening material as much as I'd like. What I found out is that all the cups have this similar trait. They all introduce a same midrange dip at some area. With open cups its at the upper mids area, with closed it is at the center and with semi-open it is at low mids. That makes the semi-open cups sound quite weird and pretty much unlistenable.

I think if someone took the time these headphones could be improved with better dampening materials and perhaps with pads that provide a better seal (thinking Audeze lcd-2 pads here).

Open version has only a thin felt behind the driver for dust protection, closed and semi open cups are dampened only with stuff that looks like cotton pads. I'm sure there could be improvements easy made here.

AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS and Gear Used in this review:

Specifications reported by the manufacturer are these: Impedance: 16 ohms - Sensitivity: 96dB/1mw (at Drum Reference Point) - Minimum power requirement: >100mW - Recommended power level: >250mW

I used the headphones with SPL Phonitor 2730, Gustard H10, SMSL SP200 and Burson Soloist SL. All those amplifiers worked fine and I have no preference over those. For portable amps I tested Chord Mojo and Audioquest Dragonfly red. Mojo was decent at best and Dragonfly was not up for the task, there was Audible distortion.

Dacs used:
Schiit bifrost multibit (don't remember which gen)
Hegel HD10
SMSL SU-8



CONCLUSION

For the price Sash Tres is the best combination of clarity and spaciousness while maintaining proper bass and fullness in the midrange. In many ways this is the best headphone I have heard for under $500 and competitive with headphons beyond that even. For my preferences I have not heard better headphone unless I go to Hifiman Ananda (about $700 in USA, still $999 in europe). Closed back alternative sounds good too but will be too colored for people who don't enjoy v-shaped response. Affordable parts and customization options will offer people with modding urges good times. Buying a "audiophile" (I hate that word) level headphones at affordable price is always a compromise, heck..buying even TOTL stuff is a compromise to some extent. Sash Tres is not a perfect headphone but for me it compromises least on the things I find most important on a headphone.
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halcyon
halcyon
Excellent, analytical, comparing review w/o forgetting feeling, impact and personal preference. Thank you, well done.

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