Audio Technica W11R too good for CD?
Jun 24, 2002 at 10:52 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 3

Anders

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I have now burned-in my W11R for 200+ hours, tested it with three sources and compared it to Sennheiser HD600 with the Clou Red cable. I think the W11R improves during these 200 hours, but that the harshness many have experienced it not mainly a fault in the W11R. I have really experienced this harshness, but it seems very dependant on source and components.

Under good conditions, I experience the W11R as highly resolved with a big sound space. Sometimes this sound space can remind of a real soundstage; on less well-mixed recordings you just get more air than with the HD600 and feel you are sitting in a larger room. With good source material, I experience the tonal balance as good and not too bright. The bass is better defined than in the HD600 as well as the treble is more detailed.

Now the bad experiences. My standard CD player was out for service of the tracking. This took an excessive time and I mostly listened to vinyl. When the W11R arrived, I dusted off my old Linn Karik (I don’t want to bash Linn, this player is at least eight years old, one of the earlier Karik models and without the Numerik DAC). I connected it to a Headroom Maxed out amp (previous model) with a Straightwire Serenade interconnect ($350). Now, the W11R sounded bright and harsh. This cleared up somewhat during burn-in, but it didn’t disappear. However, I observed that it was possible to remove much of the harshness by downgrading the interconnect, at the expense of reduced resolution. So this was a very mixed bag, I preferred the W11R for resolution and soundstage but the HD600 sounded much more relaxed in the treble It is less resolved and with a substantial high treble roll-off, the relatively high bass level could also mask the harshness).

Regarding harshness and burn-in, the ATW11R worked well with vinyl already after 70 hours and I generally preferred it to the HD600 on all kinds of music (equipment details in my profile).

Next step was that I got my Krell KAV-250cd back. Much of the harshness disappeared, but there was still traces of it, varying between CDs. I now remembered that I had a HDCD. I had bought it before the Krell and only played it as CD. I played it as HDCD and was amazed by the difference. All harshness disappeared, more black background and a more natural sound with better timbre. The W11R sounded very, very good. The recording happened to be an audiophile recording and the critical part of my mind said that this could be more about the quality of the recording than the CD format (Eric Bibb: Good Stuff at Opus 3, this recording also exist as hybrid SACD and 45 rpm vinly). I also have two other Opus 3 recordings on CD and compared with these, made by the some engineer and similar recording equipment). They were better than most CDs but still a little harshness and not the same blackness and absence of noise. So there could be a difference between CD and HDCD.
After the holiday, I bought two more HDCDs. They were not as good as the first, but sounded better than almost all my CDs. At least no harshness and brightness with the W11R.

My conclusion is that the W11R is an excellent headphone that I clearly prefer over the HD600 with good source material and equipment. However, it seems very sensitive to bad food and complains by sounding bright and harsh (I assume that this is digital distortion that accentuates the brightness). The HD600 is an excellent all-rounder that works well with lesser source material and equipment, but improves with these. I suspect that I will prefer HD600 on some CDs (at least as long as I don’t have a Wadia or something similar).

The sound of the system is excellent with HDCD and good CD recordings also work well. There is still a problem, I think that small drums and cymbals sound a little thin and edgy. I have a suspicion that this could be a characteristic of the amplifier; this problem is not diminished on the HD600. According to the Soundstage review, the old MOH is more edgy and less dynamic and not as thick sounding as the new MOH. So I maybe should continue with testing the new MOH, Earmax Pro and Micro-ZOTL. Suggestions on amplifiers are welcome!
 
Jun 29, 2002 at 8:44 PM Post #2 of 3

Anders

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This is weird - and wonderful! Power cords in series!

As you can see above, I was not entirely satisfied with the sound of my system. I tried to find the weak link and suspected the amp, looking around for alternatives. In the best case, you find it but it is also easy to pick a scapegoat.

STEP 1. I had tested two power cords with the MOH and found one to sound better, Ensemble Megaflux in favour of Synergistic Research AC Master Coupler. I thought the first was the better power cord (tested with HD600). For some reason, now I changed them. Surprise! The Synergistic worked better with the W11R headphone, shifting the tonal balance towards the dark side. Not a great change, but it made the W11R clearly more enjoyable. Now, it was easy to understand why the Ensemble matched the HD600 better, shifting the tonal balance towards the bright side with better treble extension.
I thought that power cords esentially did the same job, some more and some less, but without tonal character. If A > B > C, then A is better than C in all applications. This doesn't seem to hold. I would like it to hold becasue this makes life easier.

STEP 2, next day. My power cords go from an extension board to CD and amp. The extension board has an IEC plug and was connected to the wall outlet with a cheap cable. I have three power cords and have had an option to change the cheap cable for a power cord for six months. Did never do it until now, probably because I don't have enough power cords for all components and regarded this as some kind of final step. Didn't either expect a major improvement because I already have power cords connected directly to the components.
BIG SURPRISE when I did it!!! The tonal character became substanially darker, bass was tighter with at least subjectivly higher level. More darkness between tones and cleaner treble. Most of the precieved graininess disappeared. Small drums and cymbals are not disturbingly dry any more. System synergy is achieved and the W11R has now the darker character of the HD600 but with better defined bass as well as more extended treble and wider soundstage.

BTW, I use a Wireworld extension board with 6 outlets. It costs $40 and has much higher quality than the $3 extensions. You can also choose to connect it to the wall outlet with a cheap cable or a better power cord of desired length. Think this board is a bargain!
 
Jun 30, 2002 at 1:04 AM Post #3 of 3

elipsis

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Quote:

Originally posted by Anders
The Synergistic worked better with the W11R headphone, shifting the tonal balance towards the dark side.


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