AudioQuest NightHawk Impressions and Discussion Thread
Jan 18, 2018 at 7:41 PM Post #7,441 of 9,892

MementoMori99

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I would just like to confirm what has already been said about both the NH's and NO's, especially, with the hybrid earpads. Both have similar tonal qualities and sound characteristics. The only major difference between them is that the latter is closed while the former is semi-open. Also, the former has a bit larger soundstage. Based upon my sound preferences, my ears and primary music player(AAC music files played via iPhone 6s), I prefer the hybrid earpads for my NO's because they provide the best sound signature(natural and balanced).

I recently lent my NO's to my younger brother who is an electrical engineer with a supposedly "trained" ear. To my disappointment, he said that the NO's had exaggerated artificial sound. Are there any sound techs, acousticians, electrical engineers, musicians or recording/mixing/mastering engineers in this thread who own either a NH or NO who would like to chime in, for better or worse, on this discouraging remark?

Regardless of what my younger brother has said, I love my NO's to death. To my ears, the NO's are more pleasing to listen to than either the MrSpeakers Aeon Flow closed, Sony MDR-Z7 or ZMF Eikon. Different strokes for different folks. YMMV.
 
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Jan 18, 2018 at 10:25 PM Post #7,442 of 9,892

waynes world

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I would just like to confirm what has already been said about both the NH's and NO's, especially, with the hybrid earpads. Both have similar tonal qualities and sound characteristics. The only major difference between them is that the latter is closed while the former is semi-open. Also, the former has a bit larger soundstage. Based upon my sound preferences, my ears and primary music player(AAC music files played via iPhone 6s), I prefer the hybrid earpads for my NO's because they provide the best sound signature(natural and balanced).

I recently lent my NO's to my younger brother who is an electrical engineer with a supposedly "trained" ear. To my disappointment, he said that the NO's had exaggerated artificial sound. Are there any acousticians, electrical engineers, musicians or recording/mixing/mastering engineers in this thread who own either a NH or NO who would like to chime in, for better or worse, on this discouraging remark?

Regardless of what my younger brother has said, I love my NO's to death. To my ears, the NO's are more pleasing to listen to than either the MrSpeakers Aeon Flow closed, Sony MDR-Z7 or ZMF Eikon. Different strokes for different folks. YMMV.

Search for posts from @inthere. I haven't seen him around for a while, but he's been deep into the studio with the NH's. Here's one quote that seems relevant to the discussion:

This headphone is polarizing. I make a living in the music industry and I love them. Every professional engineer I've let hear them love them and say they're the closest thing to professional speakers they've heard in a headphone. I've also been exposed to much more expensive gear on a regular basis.

The average audiophile is going to hate them. I've seen tons of negative impressions and a lot of them in this very thread.

The reason for this, from a pro engineering perspective and I've mentioned this before is most, if not all high end headphone have boosted treble. Of course audiophiles will call this ridiculous and "look at the graphs"and I say without going into a lengthy explanation of why current graphs are like Grimms fairy tales because of everything from inaccurate homemade algorithms to global head/ear size and fit, which coincidently is why different sites always have different graphs for the same headphone that the average audiophile is not only used to this extra treble, but expects it in a high end headphone.

More treble as mentioned before "shines a light on the details" and details are what people are paying a premium for. If voiced more naturally i.e. more like professional (not audiophile speakers, which also are inaccurate and not suitable for pro applications) speakers these high end headphones would at the very least be forced to cut their prices in half and be called "muddy" like the Nighthawk.
 
Jan 18, 2018 at 10:41 PM Post #7,443 of 9,892

MementoMori99

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Search for posts from @inthere. I haven't seen him around for a while, but he's been deep into the studio with the NH's. Here's one quote that seems relevant to the discussion:

Thank you. I am very well aware of "inthere" and have read most of his posts relevant to the NH's/NO's except for the one that you posted.
 
Jan 19, 2018 at 12:18 AM Post #7,444 of 9,892

Loquah

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I would just like to confirm what has already been said about both the NH's and NO's, especially, with the hybrid earpads. Both have similar tonal qualities and sound characteristics. The only major difference between them is that the latter is closed while the former is semi-open. Also, the former has a bit larger soundstage. Based upon my sound preferences, my ears and primary music player(AAC music files played via iPhone 6s), I prefer the hybrid earpads for my NO's because they provide the best sound signature(natural and balanced).

I recently lent my NO's to my younger brother who is an electrical engineer with a supposedly "trained" ear. To my disappointment, he said that the NO's had exaggerated artificial sound. Are there any sound techs, acousticians, electrical engineers, musicians or recording/mixing/mastering engineers in this thread who own either a NH or NO who would like to chime in, for better or worse, on this discouraging remark?

Regardless of what my younger brother has said, I love my NO's to death. To my ears, the NO's are more pleasing to listen to than either the MrSpeakers Aeon Flow closed, Sony MDR-Z7 or ZMF Eikon. Different strokes for different folks. YMMV.

I'm not sure being an electrical engineer qualifies someone in this respect. I'm not going to suggest that I'm "qualified" either, but have worked for many years with Bang & Olufsen and Pioneer Electronics as well as custom car audio system design and installation. There are a couple of things I'd suggest in response:

1) His perception will be coloured by what he is used to (just as ours are coloured by familiarity with the Hawks)

2) Most recording engineers or audio engineers (speaker designers, etc.) won't consider a single source to be reference. Most studios I've visited have multiple speakers as "reference" devices so they can ensure that the recording sounds good on a wide range of systems and devices (including cheap, mono radios!) It's true that they might favour one source as their main reference, but I have also spoken to engineers that mix based on the flaws of their reference (e.g. "I know speaker X is too light in the mids so I mix accordingly")

To my ears, the Hawks (and Owls I assume) are a great approximation of excellent speakers, but because of their similarity to speakers, they are quite unique headphones. Perhaps that's causing some dissonance for your brother.

Trust your ears. You have a great pair of hradphones!
 
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Jan 19, 2018 at 7:34 AM Post #7,445 of 9,892

MementoMori99

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I'm not sure being an electrical engineer qualifies someone in this respect. I'm not going to suggest that I'm "qualified" either, but have worked for many years with Bang & Olufsen and Pioneer Electronics as well as custom car audio system design and installation. There are a couple of things I'd suggest in response:

1) His perception will be coloured by what he is used to (just as ours are coloured by familiarity with the Hawks)

2) Most recording engineers or audio engineers (speaker designers, etc.) won't consider a single source to be reference. Most studios I've visited have multiple speakers as "reference" devices so they can ensure that the recording sounds good on a wide range of systems and devices (including cheap, mono radios!) It's true that they might favour one source as their main reference, but I have also spoken to engineers that mix based on the flaws of their reference (e.g. "I know speaker X is too light in the mids so I mix accordingly")

To my ears, the Hawks (and Owls I assume) are a great approximation of excellent speakers, but because of their similarity to speakers, they are quite unique headphones. Perhaps that's causing some dissonance for your brother.

Trust your ears. You have a great pair of hradphones!

Thanks for your input.
 
Jan 19, 2018 at 7:20 PM Post #7,446 of 9,892

agnostic1er

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Hello to all nighthawk owners.

I purchased a used NH some weeks ago. Why? Because it's the least we can say a controversial can. I love unconventional things. I wanted to hear this can and make my own opinion about it. And I like dying/moding, usualy speakers but also some cans.
I listened to my nighthawk stock version and wasn't fully happy with what I heard: undubitably the tonal balance wasn't neutral; on the other side it has some very good qualities, notably its resolution while being very forgiving towards bad recordings and high spl listening levels. I knew the drivers are very good ones. So I browsed the net to find mods. Almost nothing found!

So, to my measurement rig and after 40+ disassembly/reassembly I ended up with two types of one very simple, universal and reversible mod; Frequency response here:
yellow=stock blue=mod1 pink=mod2

jaune=stock  bleu=mod1  rose=mod2.png

More even response, mid and upper-mid gain, much reduced low-mid bump.
CSD, burst-decay, step and harmonic distorsions are in line with the stock version, very good features indeed. Listening advantages are obvious as you guess.
Mod1 has my preference, notably plugged into my linear diy solid-state amp; the can remains a nighthawl, sort of super HD650.
Mod2 is more on the clear side of things, maybe more suited to soft sounding tube amps, sort of super HD600.
I could go to much more sound description but it's not the matter in this post.

Why posting here at Headfi? because US nighthawk's owners are much more numerous than in France or I guess even in Europe.
So if several guys are interested to know how to, let me know, I'll post it. I say several guys because, as you understood it, my english remains for me a school language and I have to make some efforts to write a tutorial in english.

Thanks for reading me.
 
Jan 19, 2018 at 11:01 PM Post #7,447 of 9,892

waynes world

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Hello to all nighthawk owners.

I purchased a used NH some weeks ago. Why? Because it's the least we can say a controversial can. I love unconventional things. I wanted to hear this can and make my own opinion about it. And I like dying/moding, usualy speakers but also some cans.
I listened to my nighthawk stock version and wasn't fully happy with what I heard: undubitably the tonal balance wasn't neutral; on the other side it has some very good qualities, notably its resolution while being very forgiving towards bad recordings and high spl listening levels. I knew the drivers are very good ones. So I browsed the net to find mods. Almost nothing found!

So, to my measurement rig and after 40+ disassembly/reassembly I ended up with two types of one very simple, universal and reversible mod; Frequency response here:
yellow=stock blue=mod1 pink=mod2


More even response, mid and upper-mid gain, much reduced low-mid bump.
CSD, burst-decay, step and harmonic distorsions are in line with the stock version, very good features indeed. Listening advantages are obvious as you guess.
Mod1 has my preference, notably plugged into my linear diy solid-state amp; the can remains a nighthawl, sort of super HD650.
Mod2 is more on the clear side of things, maybe more suited to soft sounding tube amps, sort of super HD600.
I could go to much more sound description but it's not the matter in this post.

Why posting here at Headfi? because US nighthawk's owners are much more numerous than in France or I guess even in Europe.
So if several guys are interested to know how to, let me know, I'll post it. I say several guys because, as you understood it, my english remains for me a school language and I have to make some efforts to write a tutorial in english.

Thanks for reading me.

First of all, my compliments on your english. Secondly, thanks for the interesting post. It is kind of surprising that more modding hasn't been done and posted regarding the NH's. Then again, most owners probably don't want to mess with a good thing.

Even though I am not inclined at all to modify my NH's, I am definitely interested in seeing what your mods are. So as far as I am concerned, feel free to post them (even in french, aucun problème :)
 
Jan 20, 2018 at 2:54 AM Post #7,448 of 9,892

Jearly410

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@agnostic1er

I would love to know what the mods are! The nightowl is already pretty special with 3 different pads producing 3 different tunings, even more options to fine tune the sound the better. It's got the comfort and musicality that I want, if I can tinker with it more I'd be happier :L3000:
 
Jan 20, 2018 at 3:00 AM Post #7,449 of 9,892

eric65

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First of all, my compliments on your english. Secondly, thanks for the interesting post. It is kind of surprising that more modding hasn't been done and posted regarding the NH's. Then again, most owners probably don't want to mess with a good thing.

Even though I am not inclined at all to modify my NH's, I am definitely interested in seeing what your mods are. So as far as I am concerned, feel free to post them (even in french, aucun problème :)

Hi all.

While waiting for an english translation of the work of @agnostic1er on this thread, I give you the link of the discussion and original publications of these DIY works of Agnostic1er on the French forum HCFR (good reading via google translate, for want of better). :)

http://www.homecinema-fr.com/forum/...ification-audioquest-nighthawk-t30085405.html
 
Jan 20, 2018 at 5:23 AM Post #7,450 of 9,892

agnostic1er

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Thanks for your inputs guys. I will work on the tutorial. To wait, here are some charts of the NH stock version:

- comparison with my Kennerton Odin (green):
odin vert nighthawk jaune.png


overlays for 10 different positions of pad:
réponse en fr de10 mesures sur cup gauche.png

Resulting power response:
réponse en fr moyenne de10 mesures sur cup gauche.png

CSD:
csd -35dB.png

Busrt decay:
burst -45dB.png

harmonic distorsions at 100dB:
distos à 100dB cup gauche.png

Zoomed step:
step.png

Overall, the NH is a technically very good can despite it's particular fr response.
 
Jan 20, 2018 at 11:55 AM Post #7,451 of 9,892

agnostic1er

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My 2 levels mod's description:

What is needed;:
- 1 philipps screwdriver for tiny screws
- 1 cutter
- 4 self-stick felt pads for hard surfaces 1/13" to 1/9" thick x 1.57" to 2" diameter. Take a relatively rigid type.image:
patins de feutre.jpg

- 1 wood screw 5/32" diameter (no more, no less!), length has no importance; image:
vis à bois de 4mm de diamètre.JPG


Level2 process::
1) unclip the pad (4 clips)
2) unscrew the 4 screws sustaining the driver's plate to the wood cup
3) with the cutter, remove the 2 white stickers on top of the driver's plate and the round white sticker in the center of the driver (see picture in point 5). Note: the stickers can be relocated if you are careful.
4) take one self-stick felt pad and, by hands, drill a central hole using the wood screw; screw/unscrew several times to create a homogeneous and durable hole; image:

visser et dévisser dans patin.JPG

5) stick it on the driver's center hole; image:

mod2  2évents driver's plate libres + felt pad troué.JPG

6) reassemble everything, taking care to correctly replace the two rings of black felt inside and around the cup.

Level1 process
All identical to the level2, except that it is necessary to plug a small piece of sticker felt pad on half of the area of one of the 2 top driver's plate vents.

Respecting the material used (felt pad) and process will ensure you the same result I got.

As said previously, level1 is the closest to a stock NH sound, I guess NH owners will not be disapointed; level2 being on a clearer side, NH owners may be disapointed.
 
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Jan 25, 2018 at 4:04 AM Post #7,452 of 9,892

Badas

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I finially sold my Ether Flow open HP. Never really could into them.
NightHawk ruined it for me. I far preferred the NH.

Anyhow it has given me more time to play with the NH and tubes.
I've been playing around with tubes exclusively for NH and not trying to please
another HP. I'm lucky to own over 300 sets of tubes. Many different types.

Boy I have made the NH sing. Far different from what I have heard previously.
It's like a super charged NH.

I'm using Yggy DAC into Violectric V281 as a pre-amp / volume control into a Woo WA22.
Very special selection of tubes to elevate the NH. I'm getting a more holographic
Soundstage and boosted treble without loss of bass or other NH magic.
It is very adictive. NH really responds to tube rolling.

After selling the Ether Flows I will replace it with something else.
Likely Aeon Open.
I did get a pair of HD6xx as well. Wow these are over rated. What a terrible
Soundstage and presence. Signature is nice but that's it.
HD6xx is getting thrown to the kids to use. Utter rubbish.
 
Jan 25, 2018 at 4:12 AM Post #7,453 of 9,892

Jearly410

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I finially sold my Ether Flow open HP. Never really could into them.
NightHawk ruined it for me. I far preferred the NH.

Anyhow it has given me more time to play with the NH and tubes.
I've been playing around with tubes exclusively for NH and not trying to please
another HP. I'm lucky to own over 300 sets of tubes. Many different types.

Boy I have made the NH sing. Far different from what I have heard previously.
It's like a super charged NH.

I'm using Yggy DAC into Violectric V281 as a pre-amp / volume control into a Woo WA22.
Very special selection of tubes to elevate the NH. I'm getting a more holographic
Soundstage and boosted treble without loss of bass or other NH magic.
It is very adictive. NH really responds to tube rolling.

After selling the Ether Flows I will replace it with something else.
Likely Aeon Open.
I did get a pair of HD6xx as well. Wow these are over rated. What a terrible
Soundstage and presence. Signature is nice but that's it.
HD6xx is getting thrown to the kids to use. Utter rubbish.

You have some serious components at your fingertips, it's great to know the NH hang at that level.
 
Jan 25, 2018 at 4:22 AM Post #7,454 of 9,892

Badas

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You have some serious components at your fingertips, it's great to know the NH hang at that level.

Thanks and yes they seriously do.

I thought the NH with the V281 was about as good as the NH could be pushed.
Then seriously using it with tubes has pushed it to another level.
I have the boost pads on the NH and I think they are serious improvement to the original pads.
They lift the treble to compliment the mid-range without introducing the dreaded treble sparkle.
Well with tubes I have picked bassy power tubes with a dynamic rectifier and very holographic drivers.
The result is a solid state like bass with more treble detail without distortion and huge jump in soundstage.
Wonderful.
Mid-range has dipped slightly. Nothing terrible. Still warm. With the new changes the sound is very
Captivating.
 
Jan 25, 2018 at 6:03 AM Post #7,455 of 9,892

ninetylol

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When we are on tubes, any feedback on the Nightowl/Nighthawk with the Little Dot I+ ? Heard its good for low impedance headphones so this should work pretty good. I pulled the trigger on a heavily discounted Arcam RHEAD (which normally sells for 599$ but prices are really low at the moment) amp today and will comment tomorrow on how good the paring is to the DFR (will still be using the DFR as DAC in lineout mode)
 
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