The fear of placebo having an effect on my hearing when it comes to higher end products is one of the main reasons why I'm trying to stay clear of spending more on the hobby.
Going from intel hd audio to the music streamer already wasn't that great of an increase in audio quality, but I felt the purchase was more than justified because it took away all the buzzing the internal amp creates when the computer is active. We'll see how tube rolling turns out.
I took the test with the crappy 2.0 speakers that come stock with the 27 inch iMac, and there was a distinct difference in the way it sounded, and it was considerably more akin to the first pic than the second, although the space on left wasn't quite as great as right. Driver mismatch? Either way I can see how the test is geared for speakers setups now. I wonder why the headphones sound so different.
I gave it a listen through iTunes and fiddled with the EQ to see if it made a difference. Turning up the mids, turning down the mids, turning up the treble, turning down the treble-- nothing changed the way the drums were displayed by the DT990. Interestingly enough, the built-in iTunes music enhancer, which really messes up music, gives a bit more spacing to the drum hits in the middle, but the ones along the edges are congested and barely separated. In fact the perceived distance of the outer drums went from several feet to only inches from the ear.
I'm using a USB total bithead to my ATH-M50's and the first time I tried it, I definitely heard number 2. Then I tried turning on my crossfeed filter and the hits did seem to get more separated, though not anywhere close to being number 1. I tried this a couple times to make sure, and as far as I can tell, the crossfeed does seem to spread the notes out, just not all the way.
I'm hearing the first picture out of my FA003s (with a poorly done dynamat mod XD)
Spatially the drums definitely seem to line up with the first image and not the second, but since the first and last drums are panned hard left and right, there is something special about those hits that suggests something more like the second image.