Are my A900s flawed?
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Patrickhat2001

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Ever since I got my A900s about five months ago I've been wondering what all the fuss was about--I've never thought these phones were all that great. Problem is, my A900s have actually been modded so I'm wondering if the modifaction performed may have changed their sound in an unsatisfactory manner. The former owner of my A900s modified them in order to allow the cups to swivel (a la Grados) so he could lay them flat while he travelled with them. Upon further inspection I've discovered that he actually had to sever the chords at where they attached to the headband in order to do this. After severing the cables he inserted about 1 inch strands of silver wiring between the copper strands of the headband and cups and soldered them together with a little bit of soldering metal (not really sure if this is the correct term--I'm not really into DIY electronics). He did this in order to give the wire enough slack to allow the cups to swivel. But I'm wondering, could the insertion of this silver wiring (and soldering metal) be negatively affecting the sound quality of my A900s? I seem to think much less of them than most people around hear, so I wonder if something might be up. Unfortunately the former owner of my A900s no longer visits Head-Fi so I can't ask him if he heard any differences before and after modding them but I'm wondering if those of you who own D66 Eggos could help me with comparing them to your A900s. There seem to me many Head-Fiers around here who own both A900s and D66 Eggos so I figure I may be in luck. I know everyone hears a little differently, but, I figure, this could at least give me something to go on.

A900 vs D66
Question #1--Which has more present bass?
My A900s feature bass that goes a little deeper than the D66 but it's upper bass is definately not as present as the upper bass on the D66, nor does it have as warm of a timbre. Is it the same for you?

Question #2--Which has a larger soundstage?
My A900s feature a very unremarkable soundstage--decent sized but nothing special. In comparision my D66 have a wider soundstage.

Question #3--Which has a more transparent sound?
Compared to most other closed phones in the same price range and lower that I've heard my A900s hold up quite well in the transparency department but they still can't beat my D66 when it comes to transparency. Is this normal?

Thanks guys, any input would be appreciated. Thankfully I didn't pay very much for my A900s so it's not that big of a deal if they've been damaged but I'd like to know whether their sound may have been damaged by the modifaction performed on them.
 
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lindrone

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Quote:

My A900s feature bass that goes a little deeper than the D66 but it's upper bass is definately not as present as the upper bass on the D66, nor does it have as warm of a timbre. Is it the same for you?


It's been a while since I heard a D66... but I distinctively remember not being impressed with D66's bass presence at all. A900 reaches deeper and have more substance behind its bass.

Quote:

My A900s feature a very unremarkable soundstage--decent sized but nothing special. In comparision my D66 have a wider soundstage.


There's no question your A900 should have a much wider soundstage than the D66.

Quote:

Compared to most other closed phones in the same price range and lower that I've heard my A900s hold up quite well in the transparency department but they still can't beat my D66 when it comes to transparency. Is this normal?


Transparency is too subjective to be comparable... what one person think is transparent is different than another. With that said, I think A900's additional detail and balance of sound makes it a little more towards "transparency" than the D66.

Anyhow, you shouldn't find anything on the D66 that's actually better than A900 in any way at all. The fact that you do... signals to me that the mods might have done something terrible to these cans..
 
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gsferrari

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Cutting and re-soldering headphone driver cables is not so easy. The cables have a very think yet very effective insulating layer which is not visible - yet its there


And in any case - once you cut the cables you are screwed because I am POSITIVE he did not match them strand by strand (assuming the driver wires are like any other headphone driver wires that I have seen - thin, surrounded by fibrous resin and extremely delicate).

I think the mods damaged the cables and the headphones significantly
 
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go_vtec

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Can you show us a photo? If properly done, such modification should not have any adverse affect on sound quality. However, this is not an easy task and definitely not for a novice DIY job. As gsferrari pointed out, this can be quite challenging job due to a delicate nature of headphone internal wiring (very thin, limited space, limited strands often with multiple but very thin insulating layers, and may require flexible cable extension).

The object in soldering is to join two metal wires by flowing molten metal (called solder) across their surfaces. In this case two joins for each cable extention. This sounds easier than it really is. A proper job means the solder molecules actually combine with those in the metals being joined, this action is called wetting. You need three things for this job providing that you already have a pair of good extension cable piece. 1) A good quality iron of the right temperature for the job, 2) A good quality solder, and 3) an experienced DIY person or electronic technitian.

Each end of cable must be cleaned with alcohol to be free from oil/contaminants. The most important element is the solder itself. For audiophile quality work this will normally be a solder containing a small percentage of silver. The silver will improve the conductivity of the connection and decrease the tendency to oxidize over time.

A lot can be said from looking at someone else's soldering job. The proper soldering job should have resulted in a bright, shiny, smooth surface. A dull, rough or grainy surface texture is indicative of a solder job gone wrong, a cold solder joint has been produced, and is unacceptable. Either too little heat was used or too rapid cooling has occurred. Even worse, a blackened dark soldering job may imply demage/degrade of joint due to exceesive heat. When soldering sensitive parts/cable, one must be sure that a soldering iron of the proper heat setting is used. A pair of small heat sinks designed especially for the job or a pair of alligator clips may be attached to the parts themselves to help dissipate damaging heat. Of course, you may want to use a descent heat-shrink/protective-tube to protect/immobilize the soldered area. If not, the repeated stress at the joint may force solder/cables to come apart or cause noise. Sorry, I'm very anal when it comes to soldering and poor electical job


Who knows, may be the job was done properly. However if I were you, I may consider checking with an experienced electrical technitian to redo the job.

[edit: spelling]
 
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itza2mer

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Yeah, splicing those ultra thin wires together wasn't the best idea. Also, if the screws that hold the drivers in place and hold the cups together are not properly tightened, a poor chamber 'seal' can effect the sound quality.

Also, splicing the sliver wire in with the copper wire will effect the sonic character.
 
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If you don't know what you're doing, leave it alone. Man, the guy who sold you that A900 screwed both you and the cans over. If he wanted Grado swivel cups, he could've just bought a Grado. Hmmm... maybe he did that w/ your money.

The answer to all three of your questions is A900, and very obvious.

Did he tell you before hand he made the mod? And did he give you a deeper discount for destroying the A900?
 
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Patrickhat2001

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Thanks for the replies, guys. I figured something had to be up since my opinion was so off the board compared to everyone else. As for now, consider everything I've said concerning the A900 vs. the D66 to be null and void. Sorry about that. I apologize to anyone who bought the D66 based on my recommendations and was disappointed.

I'm really not that pissed off, though, about the situation. Yeah, the guy did give me a deep discount on the cans and he even offered to take them back if I didn't like them. He never told me how he modded them--and I never figured to question until the sound started drop out in one of the channels (and by that time the guy had stopped coming to Head-Fi). I had always figured that he had simply spliced the cables (where the headband attaches to the phones) and then connected them back together again (seeing it, if you didn't know better, you'd probably think the same). But after peeling the tape off the cable on the right side of the cans I can now see what he did. Ah well, I was thinking about selling them for dirt cheap for someone who might be interested in them but now I think I'll just hold onto them so I can compare them to an A900 in good health someday. Hopefully, I'll be shocked by the differences. I've been thinking about getting out of closed phones completely but I just have to try another A900 now, just for the sake of curiosity.

Yeah and I've found many good deals in the gear for sale/trade forum before (I'm the jerk who got the HD600 for $125 and the DT880 for $150 a while back
) so, guess it all evens out. I'm not mad (anymore) about getting what appear to be ruined phones. Win some, lose some and learn from the experience.

Concerning the Eggos I still think they're great cans though, even compared to over more expensive closed models--I preferred them to the CD1700 (with foam mod) and HFI-650 Trackmaster (yes, and I'm sure those were working correctly
) when I had them so it wasn't such a hard stretch of the imagination to think the D66 could be better than the A900 to my ears as well. Overall I did find the K271 and DT250-80 to sound better than the Eggos, though, in most respects, although not all, and I still think the D66 are the best closed cans $100 and under (although I've yet to try an A500).

Thanks again guys, you've been a big help.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Patrickhat2001
Concerning the Eggos I still think they're great cans though, even compared to over more expensive closed models--I preferred them to the CD1700 (with foam mod)...


Wow you must really like your Eggos because I think the D-66 is bested by my foam-modded CD1700 in every aspect except portability. But I guess I really like the CD1700
 
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Patrickhat2001

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Compared to my former CD1700s (foam modded as well and in imaculate condition) I found my Eggos to be faster, more detailed and transparent and to give instruments a more realistic timbre. The CD1700 had bigger bass but I thought it's bass just sounded unrealistic--quite a bit muffled. I thought the CD1700 were a fun groovilizer and never offensive in any aspect of the frequency range but to my ears just not detailed enough and they had a tonal character that was just all wrong--too warm and rolled off in the highs. I remember when I had the D66, CD1700 and CD3000 all at the same time--the CD1700 was definately the odd phone out having featuring a sound that was just too dark and blurry compared to the other two Sonys.

Sorry if that came off bit harsh, these just my opinions, many people own the CD1700s and love them to death. Go with what works for you.
 
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If anything, the silver wire should give you better highs. I doubt that the A900 has been compromised in sound quality. It just may be that they do not have enough synergy with your equipment. The fact that they did not "wow" you says nothing about the headphones themselves; you could have an acute ear, and it may take a lot to impress you.

So how does electric guitar sound on your A900s?
 
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lindrone

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Quote:

If anything, the silver wire should give you better highs. I doubt that the A900 has been compromised in sound quality.


Modifiying headphone wires is more than just soldiering two pieces of wires together. A while ago, before I found head-fi, I experimented with modifying some headphone wires to lengthening the wires. The common knowledge on how to soldier wires to pass electricity through simply doesn't work with the complication in headphone wiring (and these were a pair of Sony StreetStyles!). Before I knew it, I got a pair of completely dead headphone on my hand.

Yes, silver wires are supposed to improve sound, but only if it's done correctly... headphone cables and interconnects built with silver wires aren't just a piece of silver connecting point A to point B either.

The chances are, the soldiering points has completely messed up the connection... it's amazing to think that the headphones are working at all.
 
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yep, you do have some dead-beat A900's. in no way does the D66 beat the a900'.s the A900's simply excel in every category greater than the D66's. perhaps you could try totally removing the whole innard wire and redo the wiring job from the driver. it's worth a try.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Patrickhat2001
Compared to my former CD1700s (foam modded as well and in imaculate condition) I found my Eggos to be faster, more detailed and transparent and to give instruments a more realistic timbre. The CD1700 had bigger bass but I thought it's bass just sounded unrealistic--quite a bit muffled. I thought the CD1700 were a fun groovilizer and never offensive in any aspect of the frequency range but to my ears just not detailed enough and they had a tonal character that was just all wrong--too warm and rolled off in the highs. I remember when I had the D66, CD1700 and CD3000 all at the same time--the CD1700 was definately the odd phone out having featuring a sound that was just too dark and blurry compared to the other two Sonys.

Sorry if that came off bit harsh, these just my opinions, many people own the CD1700s and love them to death. Go with what works for you.



Hey it's no problem, it just amazes me I can barely agree with you on any of your experiences
First of all I'm no musician so I don't really listen for the realistic aspect in music, I go for enjoyable. But I am rather surprised about your comments on the CD1700 bass which I find pretty tight and well-defined. In my book I would call it more realistic than D-66 as the softness in bass makes some genres quite a bit less enjoyable than others. When it comes to detail I find them to be about equal unless we're talking strictly about treble detail where the Eggos excel due to its' brighter presentation. But on the other hand it's more difficult to hear different bassnotes on the Eggos for the same reason. With the foam-mod on CD1700 I really wouldn't call the CD1700 dark, where I always found the D-66 leaning towards the bright side. The CD1700 does have a more prominent midrange which I find enjoyable but might be annoying if you're looking for strictly flat response. When it comes to soundstage the D-66 is rather chopped up while CD1700 has several positions between far right/left and middle where D-66 only seems to have two. CD1700 also has a clearly wider soundstage situated further away from the head which I prefer. Don't get me wrong, I think D-66 is a good portable headphone but I don't think it measures up to bigger (and more expensive) headphones for stationary use.
 
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Patrickhat2001

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Well, excepting the difference in perceived soundstage (I find Eggos to sound wider, although the overall sound of the CD1700 is "larger"--things sound bigger--likely due to its greater bass respones and slightly larger drivers) and level of detail (I think the Eggos have an edge not only in the highs but also in the midrange) I really don't find any of your opinions contradictory to mine and I totally see how someone could find the CD1700 superior to the D66 (for a while I did to) but overall my preference is different from yours.

Cheers, and enjoy your favorite Sonys whichever they may be.
 
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