2 weeks with Myo's Balanced GFT...
Mar 8, 2006 at 2:28 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4

TheSloth

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Myo kindly offered to send me his personal balanced GFT cable for the Sennheiser 580/600/650 headphones, which was obviously an offer I couldn't refuse. I would have taken pictures of it, however his photography is so much better than mine that I recommend you take a look at it in his photo gallery.

This was not a production model, and differs cosmetically from the single ended GFT that was sold to head-fi'ers. As far as I know, no balanced GFT was sold and Myo has no current intentions of selling them in the future.

So why am I writing about it? Myo was particularly interested in two aspects of this cable in my set up. The first was it's synergy with a high-end balanced HeadRoom amplifier - Myo's test amp is a HeadRoom Micro with Desktop Module (through a single ended adapter which he also sent me). The second was how it compared to the Balanced Equinox cable, arguably the best production balanced cable for the 650's. The only other balanced cable I have heard is the Cardas, which I disliked almost immediately.

I won't focus on design qualities here, as for a one off cable they hardly seem relevant. It suffices to say that it's beautifully put together, though a little stiff - this was corrected with the production GFT's. I should note that my Balanced Equinox cable is 15' long which allows me to sit comfortably on my couch, whereas the 10' length of the GFT meant I had to sit in a rather odd position to listen to it - hopefully that didn't subconsciously affect my impressions. The other fundamental design differences are that the GFT uses 650 connectors whereas it looks like the Equinox uses 580/600 connectors, and the GFT uses Vampire XLR's whereas the Equinox uses Neutrik XLR's. They seem to use a similar gauge of wire overall.

I was immediately surprised to hear such marked differences between the cables. They produce a very different presentation. The GFT is certainly more forward sounding, with to my ears a very slightly emphasis on the upper midrange. The bass is clean and tight. In essence it reminds me of the Cardas cable somewhat, however without any of the glaring midrange and overly lean bass that I disliked so much. The Equinox on the other hand seems to emphasise the lower midrange, giving a lot of prominence to the soundstage and ambience, occasionally at the expense of a little focus. The GFT makes the opposite trade-off, sometimes giving up a little soundstage and ambience for immediacy and clarity.

Myo asked me to listen to and compare instrument separation, which was not difficult as most of my listening material was choral/orchestral. It's very hard to pick a winner here due to the different presentation. I think the edge has to go to the Equinox by a hair. The up front sound of the GFT somehow makes you more aware of the source of the sound, in essence the position of the driver relative to your head, which positions all instruments quite close on a similar plane in 3D, although the clarity means that of course there is no difficultly in separating instruments from one another in your head. With the Equinox, it's harder to pinpoint the driver in the same way, allowing more space for instruments to occupy different locations in a larger 3D space. (I hope that made a bit of sense, talking about soundstaging and headphones is away messy...). Having said all that however, it all depends on how you perceive what you are hearing. I can imagine that many people will prefer the clarity of the GFT for pinpointing details and instruments. I happen to know the scores of the music I am listening to, so I know what's going on anyway and so tend to hear it no matter how euphonic the reproduction is.

After spending many hours listening, I'm not sure I could live with the GFT as my only cable. The 650/Equinox/Balanced Home sound has become too ingrained as my reference. To me, it's just a stock 650 taken to the max. The GFT changes the presentation significantly, and in fact my first feeling was that it pushes it a little closer somehow to the K701. For some that might be ideal and for that reason it is a great shame that he no longer makes this excellently thought-out, designed and built cable.

Myo told me that he voiced the GFT to liven up the 650's somewhat. As single ended headphones, I have to agree with him that they need a little waking up, and indeed I enjoy this cable more through it's single ended adapter than as a fully balanced setup. In this particular balanced setup however, I find that the mid-bass is so much cleaner, and the overall presentation so much more 'alive' that they no longer need that shot in the arm.
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I was going to end there, when I realised that part of the point of sending it to me was my HeadRoom amp, and what is the most recognisable feature of a HeadRoom amp but it's crossfeed, something I seldom use. I flipped the switch, and, WOW. The slightly forward presentation of the GFT, combined with the mellowing effect and added soundstage of the crossfeed was just to die for. I wish I hadn't tried it out, because now I really don't want to send him back this cable. The crossfeed usually doesn't work particularly well with the Equinox because it already has so much emphasis on soundstaging already. But with the GFT it just seems to be the perfect blend of strengths. So overall I suppose I now consider there two reference cables for two different purposes - Equinox for stereo use, GFT for crossfeed adjusted stereo.

My sincerest thanks to Myo for trusting me with his personal cable.
 
Mar 8, 2006 at 3:36 AM Post #2 of 4

RnB180

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Hi sloth,

thanks for the taking the time to give me some feedback about it. On hindsight, I think think I should've gone with silver plated or nickel plated XLRs. As I feel the gold plated vampire xlrs inhibited purity of the sound a bit, live and learn I guess. I went with vampire xlrs because it looked different then the other xlrs. I sent it to you because I wanted to know how one of my cables would perform balanced, as I do not have the amp here to test these. You are correct, I never made a balanced GFT for public sale. The one in your possession is the only one ever made.

Ill probably go with furutechs the next time I build a balanced cable for myself.

your last remark was interesting, I do indeed use my cables with the crossfeed enabled 90 percent of the time. Which I do enjoy the sound stage of the combination.



I appreciate the honest input.
Now give me back my balanced senn cable, I miss it so
k1000smile.gif



God bless,
myo
 
Mar 8, 2006 at 5:37 PM Post #3 of 4

felixkrull6

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First off, that was an excellent review of the balanced GFT Sloth. I guess I was one of the last people to get one of RNB's single termination GFTs and I've now had it for a little over two and a half weeks and I must say I'm supremely happy with it.

Before I go any further I just want to let people know that the only other Senn aftermarket cable I've ever owned is the Cardas which I no longer own and which to my ears only offered a slight improvement to the stock so this isn't a particularly comprehensive review but more of a tribute to the GFTs. Plus since Myo was nice enough to make me the cord, the least I could do was show my appreciation by letting others know about it even if they can't buy it anymore. : ( Although the cables are slightly different I had many of the same impressions that the Sloth had, tight bass, a more forward presentation, and also the clarity of the mids and uppers with an emphasis on the uppers. I listen to the GFTs through a Headroom Desktop with max dac and module but the crossfeed has never had as big an effect for me as it seems to other people so I usually leave it off.

The first piece of music I tried with the GFTs was the Queen of the Night aria and the difference was immediately noticeble with the stock cord. The music seemed like it was right in your face and the soprano's voice sparkled. I knew right then that the GFT was right for me because I had always enjoyed my HD650s but I wanted something that kept the same basic sound signature but moved it forward a little, making it less laid back, and just making the overall sound punchier. The GFTs have almost made my ATH900ltds obsolete, but not quite. I mostly listen to classical, trance, and jpop and I've found that the GFTs have made me enjoy all three genres even more. This isn't much of a review but I just wanted to thank Myo for making a great cable that not only looks great but sounds even better than it looks.
biggrin.gif
 
Mar 8, 2006 at 9:33 PM Post #4 of 4

Glod

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To me it was a very accurate description of the GFT too. Thanks! I really don't have anything particular I find I could add to specify its sound more.

Especially, I find your description of the soundstages of the Equinox and the GFT exhaustive. The GFT does not have the very width of the soundstage of the Equinox, but it, indeed, is better in positioning the instruments. The layering of the sound is a particular strong point of the GFT in my opinion: It has a very fine depth in the soundstage; something the equinox is not particular good at. At least not in comparison to the stock. I think the most salient aspect of the GFT when I started to seriously scrutinize it was this, all of a sudden, welcomed extra dimension.
 

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