Audio-Technica ATH-R70x - In-Depth Review & Impressions
Jul 8, 2020 at 8:00 AM Post #1,771 of 2,004

trellus

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micro iDSD BL is substantially better than the original silver one.



Exactly.



It depends on an amp, but if I were you I'd focus on how many products I'd like to have. If you'll be happy with a quality DAC/amp combo, I'd get it.

If you'd like to have a DAC and amp separated to mix and match in the future with other products, I'd look for two devices known to work well together.
But the BL is substantially uglier than the silver one. :frowning2:
 
Jul 8, 2020 at 1:55 PM Post #1,772 of 2,004

theaudiologist1

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It's really not about how loud a calculator tells you it will get because you are just using an average impedance. In reality there is an impedance for different frequencies of the driver. If you look at the graph above the bass regions of the R70x will swing up to 900ohms. If you have a weaker amplifier the cans will still get loud but the frequency response will be skewed.

At 900Ohms my amp will give me roughly 10-11mW. Not much but at a sensitivity of 99dB/mW, it will still get close to 110dB. I don't know how that fares in the real world, though. They're at least more efficient to drive than the HD600's.

And my DAC's impedance itself is 2.2 Ohms (4.4 in balanced). Does that affect the power aswell?
 
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Jul 8, 2020 at 3:04 PM Post #1,773 of 2,004

SilverEars

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At 900Ohms my amp will give me roughly 10-11mW. Not much but at a sensitivity of 99dB/mW, it will still get close to 110dB. I don't know how that fares in the real world, though. They're at least more efficient to drive than the HD600's.

And my DAC's impedance itself is 2.2 Ohms (4.4 in balanced). Does that affect the power aswell?
You mean DAP, no? Like I said, it's 400 ohms nominal (or the lowest impedance value). Therefore, even balanced value of 4.4 ohms is nothing compared to 400 ohms. It's insignificant that we shouldn't be expecting frequency response skew.

From what I recall, it wasn't a difficult headphone to drive despite the high impedance. Impedance isn't the indicator of difficulty of drivability. Speakers have very low impedance, but they require power amps. That means that speakers require much current due to low impedance, and lower the impedance gets, require amps that can handle high rushes of current without overheating.
 
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Jul 8, 2020 at 3:29 PM Post #1,774 of 2,004

theaudiologist1

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You mean DAP, no? Like I said, it's 400 ohms nominal (or the lowest impedance value). Therefore, even balanced value of 4.4 ohms is nothing compared to 400 ohms. It's insignificant that we shouldn't be expecting frequency response skew.

From what I recall, it wasn't a difficult headphone to drive despite the high impedance. Impedance isn't the indicator of difficulty of drivability. Speakers have very low impedance, but they require power amps. That means that speakers require much current due to low impedance, and lower the impedance gets, require amps that can handle high rushes of current without overheating.

Here's what I got from doing research: Lower sensitivity headphones require amps with higher current, while higher impedance headphones require amps with higher voltage. Apparently 900Ohms@99dB/mW and 470Ohms@99dB/mW both require the same amount of power, but 900Ohms requires more voltage (and thus less current). So what is considred a headphone that is "hard to drive"? One that isn't able to reach a particular volume and one that can't handle all the freuencies without distortion and bass rolloff? Is reaching 110dB loud enough and do I really need it to hit 120dB? Is there anyway to know my DAC's output voltage since the manufacturer didn't put them in the specs.
 
Jul 8, 2020 at 3:52 PM Post #1,775 of 2,004

SilverEars

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Here's what I got from doing research: Lower sensitivity headphones require amps with higher current, while higher impedance headphones require amps with higher voltage. Apparently 900Ohms@99dB/mW and 470Ohms@99dB/mW both require the same amount of power, but 900Ohms requires more voltage (and thus less current). So what is considred a headphone that is "hard to drive"? One that isn't able to reach a particular volume and one that can't handle all the freuencies without distortion and bass rolloff? Is reaching 110dB loud enough and do I really need it to hit 120dB? Is there anyway to know my DAC's output voltage since the manufacturer didn't put them in the specs.
HE-6 is an example of a headphone that is hard to drive. 83dB/mW is very low sensitivity. Which is why people use speaker amps out of speaker output taps with them.

Odd thing is, these specs really don't tell us much on characteristics of the sound output. Like for example, if you look at Innerfidelity measurement data sheets, it shows how minor of a voltage that is required to reach 90dB with headphones. 90dB is quite loud that nobody listens at that volume as it's hearing damage level of loudness.
 
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Jul 8, 2020 at 4:06 PM Post #1,776 of 2,004

theaudiologist1

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HE-6 is an example of a headphone that is hard to drive. 83dB/mW is very low sensitivity. Which is why people use speaker amps out of speaker output taps with them.

Odd thing is, these specs really don't tell us much on characteristics of the sound output. Like for example, if you look at Innerfidelity measurement data sheets, it shows how minor of a voltage that is required to reach 90dB with headphones. 90dB is quite loud that nobody listens at that volume as it's hearing damage level of loudness.

It's true that 90dB is very loud, but what about classical music with a dynamic range of 40dB? Doesn't that means the volumes range from ~70dB-~110dB when the average is 90dB? In that case is it important that your amp can drive your headphones to 110-115dB? Also will the volumes in dynamic classical recordings ever reach 120dB? I heard an orchestra at full force is that loud.
 
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Jul 9, 2020 at 3:55 AM Post #1,777 of 2,004

descloud

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Lower sensitivity headphones require amps with higher current, while higher impedance headphones require amps with higher voltage.

Not exactly. Lower efficiency (dB SPL / mW) means that you need more power to reach a certain sound pressure level (SPL). The lower the efficiency, the larger the power the headphones will require from its source to reach say 85 dB SPL.

Now I'd reference simple physics to make more sense out of it. Power is the product of voltage and current. Now, ohm's law and joule's law gives us two formulas to determine the power output in relation to the load's resistance, which you can see them here: https://byjus.com/power-formula/

So, you are correct that higher impedance (i.e. Sennheiser HD600) usually requires more voltage than current by Ohm's law. Conversely, lower impedance means higher current requirement. The ratio between the two is dictated by the impedance of the headphone.

But lower efficiency / sensitivity (dB SPL / Vrms) usually means more power requirement, which means a need for higher voltage AND current output.

So what is considred a headphone that is "hard to drive"? One that isn't able to reach a particular volume and one that can't handle all the freuencies without distortion and bass rolloff?

I think the term 'hard to drive' has been used very loosely. Some correspond this to higher impedance, which is technically not accurate because power requirement is dictated by the efficiency rating of the headphone, not the impedance. I don't think there is a threshold or benchmark for efficiency, voltage or current requirement that would be labeled as 'hard to drive'. Because from my experience, the HE-500 which has an efficiency of 89 dB/mW, can be driven to moderately loud volumes from my iPod without losing significant quality in its sound signature when compared to being driven from an iFi Micro BL.

But I think it's safe to say that if you're not getting enough volume or volume headroom from your source (i.e. an iPhone or current generation of motherboards), it may be considered 'hard to drive'. It can also be used for your second description where you're lacking dynamic range with your source compared to using a dedicated amp.

Is reaching 110dB loud enough and do I really need it to hit 120dB? Is there anyway to know my DAC's output voltage since the manufacturer didn't put them in the specs.

110dB is very loud and you shouldn't be listening at that level to prevent hearing damage. It's just that headroom is useful for highly dynamic tracks such as orchestras and symphonies.

Unfortunately, not all manufacturers will post the output voltage specs. Audioscience review measures common DACs and presents the maximum output voltage and distortion numbers that may or may not be useful for you.
 
Jul 9, 2020 at 1:16 PM Post #1,778 of 2,004

theaudiologist1

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Not exactly. Lower efficiency (dB SPL / mW) means that you need more power to reach a certain sound pressure level (SPL). The lower the efficiency, the larger the power the headphones will require from its source to reach say 85 dB SPL.

Now I'd reference simple physics to make more sense out of it. Power is the product of voltage and current. Now, ohm's law and joule's law gives us two formulas to determine the power output in relation to the load's resistance, which you can see them here: https://byjus.com/power-formula/

So, you are correct that higher impedance (i.e. Sennheiser HD600) usually requires more voltage than current by Ohm's law. Conversely, lower impedance means higher current requirement. The ratio between the two is dictated by the impedance of the headphone.

But lower efficiency / sensitivity (dB SPL / Vrms) usually means more power requirement, which means a need for higher voltage AND current output.



I think the term 'hard to drive' has been used very loosely. Some correspond this to higher impedance, which is technically not accurate because power requirement is dictated by the efficiency rating of the headphone, not the impedance. I don't think there is a threshold or benchmark for efficiency, voltage or current requirement that would be labeled as 'hard to drive'. Because from my experience, the HE-500 which has an efficiency of 89 dB/mW, can be driven to moderately loud volumes from my iPod without losing significant quality in its sound signature when compared to being driven from an iFi Micro BL.

But I think it's safe to say that if you're not getting enough volume or volume headroom from your source (i.e. an iPhone or current generation of motherboards), it may be considered 'hard to drive'. It can also be used for your second description where you're lacking dynamic range with your source compared to using a dedicated amp.



110dB is very loud and you shouldn't be listening at that level to prevent hearing damage. It's just that headroom is useful for highly dynamic tracks such as orchestras and symphonies.

Unfortunately, not all manufacturers will post the output voltage specs. Audioscience review measures common DACs and presents the maximum output voltage and distortion numbers that may or may not be useful for you.

But how much headroom do you need if the most dynamic symphonies and orchestras have 60dB of dynamic range? I'm just wondering since an orchestra at full force is 120dB, but once recorded, the mastering reduces that max volume to a lower dB. So i'm guessing the most dynamic recordings will have volume ranges between 50-110dB or even 40-100dB?

In summary, my amp basically drives the R70x'es to a little less than 110dB in the bass and 112-113dB everywhere else (with high gain the numbers probably increase).
 
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Jul 9, 2020 at 4:58 PM Post #1,779 of 2,004

theaudiologist1

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Another question: Can the R70x'es be "endgame"? I'm considering upgrading to the DT 1990 Pro's. How do they fare against the R70x? Is it a worthy upgrade if I want a neutral sound, or is it just diminishing returns after the R70x/HD600 territory?
 
Jul 9, 2020 at 5:04 PM Post #1,780 of 2,004

Hooster

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Another question: Can the R70x'es be "endgame"? I'm considering upgrading to the DT 1990 Pro's. How do they fare against the R70x? Is it a worthy upgrade if I want a neutral sound, or is it just diminishing returns after the R70x/HD600 territory?

R70X is not endgame, but I think you would want to take a bigger step up than to the DT 1990 for it to be worthwhile.
 
Jul 9, 2020 at 5:15 PM Post #1,782 of 2,004

zazex

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Another question: Can the R70x'es be "endgame"? I'm considering upgrading to the DT 1990 Pro's. How do they fare against the R70x? Is it a worthy upgrade if I want a neutral sound, or is it just diminishing returns after the R70x/HD600 territory?

Well, the R70x may be your "endgame"...
I suppose you'll have to listen to various other headphones
in order to decide. IMO it's a highly personal decision which
involves your associated equipment, preferences in music,
and other factors

Personally I don't think the DT1990's are 'substantially better'
than the R70x.
Though again we're using descriptions that
are imprecise - meaning that we're using words and language
to describe preferences in sound..
 
Jul 9, 2020 at 5:30 PM Post #1,783 of 2,004

theaudiologist1

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Well, the R70x may be your "endgame"...
I suppose you'll have to listen to various other headphones
in order to decide. IMO it's a highly personal decision which
involves your associated equipment, preferences in music,
and other factors

Personally I don't think the DT1990's are 'substantially better'
than the R70x.
Though again we're using descriptions that
are imprecise - meaning that we're using words and language
to describe preferences in sound..

Well I listen to a lot of Classical (mainly symphonies and concertos) and I have a $500 DAC. How much better can I get from here?
 
Jul 9, 2020 at 5:49 PM Post #1,784 of 2,004

Mink

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How much better can I get from here?
Difficult to say. I don't know your preferences nor do I have the same ears as yours.
There are many headphones out there, more expensive ones that are technically better, but they may not necessarily be to your liking.
And increase in quality gets smaller and smaller when you have entered a certain price point.
That said, if you want something better and you are willing to pay for it, there are many headphones to choose from, the high end market seems bigger nowadays then the mid-fi selection of headphones.
You can go another route though, choose different mid-fi flavors and keep the cost relatively low.
 
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Jul 9, 2020 at 6:14 PM Post #1,785 of 2,004

theaudiologist1

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There are many headphones out there, more expensive ones that are technically better, but they may not necessarily be to your liking.

Yeah, there aren't many neutral headphones after the $300-$600 range. The HD700 and HD800 are bright, the T1's are warm, etc.
And increase in quality gets smaller and smaller when you have entered a certain price point.

You can go another route though, choose different mid-fi flavors and keep the cost relatively low.

True, which is why I won't spend more than $1500 on headphones. The difference between the HD800 and HD800S, and the LCD-2 and LCD-3/X is already very little. $1000-$1500 is pretty much TOTL endgame tier, and anything more probably gives you only 5% better sound. I'll skip the sub-$1000 range and make my next purchase worth it (sorry HD700's).
 

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