AudioQuest NightOwl - A closed-back NightHawk
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farmi86

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... got my Nighthawks today and compared them to my Owls. It's quite hard to decide which one is "better" - because both of them are great :)

Out of the box - without EQing - i like the owls a bit better - they have a "refreshed" feeling compared to the hawks. Everything is a bit more crisp, accurate, balanced, on point - but WITHOUT losing the overall laid back audioquest signature, which is great!

The mids on the hakws are a bit more recessed while the owls are just perfect here (for my taste). Voices are so great on the owls - which doesn't mean that the hawks doin a bad job here. I simply like a bit "forward" character in the voices.

Bass is a bit more on the hawks (speaking of quanitity) - but not that precise as on the owls. It seems like on the one hand the bass has more power on the hawks - but it bleeds a bit more into the mids. The overall feeling on the hawk's upper bass is a bit more "soft and boomy" - dont get me wrong, it's still very good. But the owls seem to be much more... "mature" in this point. There are many songs where i find the 125-250hz range to be too present - by EQing it a bit down, you can remove this kind of "boomy veil" touching the lower mids, which makes the hawks a bit more clean sounding.. just like the owls.

The soundstage on the hawks is a bit wider due to the open design (not that much!) - but imaging / separation is better on the owls. To be honest, it's incredible how big AND precise the stage of the closed owls actually is :) Size isn't everything :wink:

If i could only keep one of these cans, i would go for the owls as they are the better allrounder out of the box. But with some EQing i also like the overall feeling of the hawks softer signature. I'm looking forward to spent lots of hours with these two boys in the next days :)
 
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Goldvein

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... got my Nighthawks today and compared them to my Owls. It's quite hard to decide which one is "better" - because both of them are great :)

Out of the box - without EQing - i like the owls a bit better - they have a "refreshed" feeling compared to the hawks. Everything is a bit more crisp, accurate, balanced, on point - but WITHOUT losing the overall laid back audioquest signature, which is great!

The mids on the hakws are a bit more recessed while the owls are just perfect here (for my taste). Voices are so great on the owls - which doesn't mean that the hawks doin a bad job here. I simply like a bit "forward" character in the voices.

Bass is a bit more on the hawks (speaking of quanitity) - but not that precise as on the owls. It seems like on the one hand the bass has more power on the hawks - but it bleeds a bit more into the mids. The overall feeling on the hawk's upper bass is a bit more "soft and boomy" - dont get me wrong, it's still very good. But the owls seem to be much more... "mature" in this point. There are many songs where i find the 125-250hz range to be too present - by EQing it a bit down, you can remove this kind of "boomy veil" touching the lower mids, which makes the hawks a bit more clean sounding.. just like the owls.

The soundstage on the hawks is a bit wider due to the open design (not that much!) - but imaging / separation is better on the owls. To be honest, it's incredible how big AND precise the stage of the closed owls actually is :) Size isn't everything :wink:

If i could only keep one of these cans, i would go for the owls as they are the better allrounder out of the box. But with some EQing i also like the overall feeling of the hawks softer signature. I'm looking forward to spent lots of hours with these two boys in the next days :)
Couldn't this just be the lack of break in time? I remember my nightowls got significantly better with time.
Did you buy the hawks used or new?
I never tried the hawks but they are so similar in structure so maybe its the same
 
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farmi86

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Couldn't this just be the lack of break in time? I remember my nightowls got significantly better with time.
Did you buy the hawks used or new?
I never tried the hawks but they are so similar in structure so maybe its the same
My fault - i forgot to mention that i compared the Hawks with stock Gen1 pads to the Suedes on the Owl. My Nighthawks were used, so break in is not an issue. But: Even if you switch the pads, there are some minor differences - but it needs some time to analyse :)
 
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farmi86

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After spending lots of hours with both NO and NH with the same pads, i found (my) final conclusion :) Both were burnt in and had the microsuede pads mounted.

These two cans are very very close which is, to be honest, a master stroke by audioquest. But there are of course still little differences:

I found the Owls to have a bit (tiiiny tiny bit) more mid presence, so they sound a little more intimate than the Hawks. The stage is a bit more narrow on the Owls, but the imaging on the other hand is a tiny bit more precise. Quite logical, i think? Due to this more closed/focused character, the Owls have a bit more presence, while the Hawks are a bit more airy and balanced. What i found interesting is, that my Hawks are a bit more crisp in the 8khz area than the Owls. Far away from being sibilant, but noticeable in the voices S-Sounds.

With the same pads i didn't hear that much difference in the bass region. I expected the Owls to be the winner here, but they aren't. If i play close attention, i found the Owls to have a (hardly noticeable) more impact, but less subbass rumble. The difference is so subtle that i could be placebo effect as well.

All the differences mentioned above are so subtle that it doesn't simply matter which headphone you choose. The Owls aren't really that closed and the Hawks are not really that open - so it's no big suprise. Both are great!


Concerning pads:
I personally like the microsuede pads most - and i don't like the pleathers... The hybrids are nice, but i still like the suedes more. Was a bit surprising to me, as many of you guys love the hybrids over the moon :D With a little EQing (very subtle), the microsuedes are just perfect to me.
 
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Sorry to ask about this again, but can anyone recommend a good balanced cable for these headphones?

Here's the problem: I've tried two balanced cables so far (one from Moon Audio, one from SurfCables), but they both had the same issue: the cables themselves transmitted so much noise when they physically touched anything, like my clothing (especially zippers), my desk, anything around me. I basically had to ensure that I didn't wear a jacket with a zipper or move my head at all while playing the music otherwise all the noise of the cable touching anything was amplified in my ears.

Someone else described the issue as "microphonics". Is this just how third-party cables are? If not, what cables have worked for you?

The reason I want balanced is because I have a Fiio Q5S and I've noticed the balanced output sounds significantly better than the unbalanced.
 
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funkle II

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Sorry to ask about this again, but can anyone recommend a good balanced cable for these headphones?
I have an OCC Arctic cable coming in the next week. I will comment when I receive it. I did not go balanced. I understand that Pariapt (and probably others that are made to order) can reduce microphonics upon request by using different sleeve materials.
 
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Sorry to ask about this again, but can anyone recommend a good balanced cable for these headphones?

Here's the problem: I've tried two balanced cables so far (one from Moon Audio, one from SurfCables), but they both had the same issue: the cables themselves transmitted so much noise when they physically touched anything, like my clothing (especially zippers), my desk, anything around me. I basically had to ensure that I didn't wear a jacket with a zipper or move my head at all while playing the music otherwise all the noise of the cable touching anything was amplified in my ears.

Someone else described the issue as "microphonics". Is this just how third-party cables are? If not, what cables have worked for you?

The reason I want balanced is because I have a Fiio Q5S and I've noticed the balanced output sounds significantly better than the unbalanced.
Arctic Cables AC Neotech (http://arcticcables.com/Catalog.asp?Page=NewShowProd.asp&PRodID=1457493). A great sounding cable that's super lightweight and has zero microphonics. I own Nighthawks and only use a balanced AC Neotech cable with them.
 
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Two votes for Arctic, thanks. I will definitely consider it. I'm hesitant to buy another because you often can't return custom cables (I was able to return one but otherwise stuck with a $150 cable I don't want).
 
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funkle II

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Two votes for Arctic, thanks. I will definitely consider it. I'm hesitant to buy another because you often can't return custom cables (I was able to return one but otherwise stuck with a $150 cable I don't want).
The Wireworld headphone cables look great, and supposedly sound fantastic with little microphonics. But they are hard to find (discontinued I believe). They would in theory retain some resale value if you buy used.
 
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Sorry to ask about this again, but can anyone recommend a good balanced cable for these headphones?

Here's the problem: I've tried two balanced cables so far (one from Moon Audio, one from SurfCables), but they both had the same issue: the cables themselves transmitted so much noise when they physically touched anything, like my clothing (especially zippers), my desk, anything around me. I basically had to ensure that I didn't wear a jacket with a zipper or move my head at all while playing the music otherwise all the noise of the cable touching anything was amplified in my ears.

Someone else described the issue as "microphonics". Is this just how third-party cables are? If not, what cables have worked for you?

The reason I want balanced is because I have a Fiio Q5S and I've noticed the balanced output sounds significantly better than the unbalanced.
One option is to remove the plug then add para-cord then put the plug back on, that's what I did with a particularly microphonic cable I use with my NightOwl, its now a nice cable to use.
 
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funkle II

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Two votes for Arctic, thanks. I will definitely consider it. I'm hesitant to buy another because you often can't return custom cables (I was able to return one but otherwise stuck with a $150 cable I don't want).
I got my Arctic cable (OCC 4 wire) yesterday (for my birthday from my wife). I have to say I am pretty blown away by what is not at all a subtle change in sound. Coming from speaker based hi-if, where the effects of cables is sometimes honestly hard to confirm, this is a big surprise. The bass has become more solid and impactful, the ambient decays in the highs are wonderfully holographic, and gone is a lot of the syrup in the mids. Almost different headphones. They are quite thin, and almost ridiculously flexible as well. It’s almost like there’s no wire in there. And minimally microphonic. I’m wondering if I should have gone 8 wire, and thinking about these for my other phones.
 
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@funkle II Your wife be like... what have I done? :)
 
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I finally received the (most affordable, simple nice looking) replacement cables I had ordered for my Hawks and Owls.

https://www.amazon.de/dp/B06WD3D66B/ref=pe_3044161_185740101_TE_item

No difference in sound compared to the stock cable, but I wasn't looking for an improvement in sonics anyways. But the 3 metres lenght, a thinner and more flexible material, minor to zero microphonics and plugs without silver plating (no need to clean eventually) make this an upgrade and best buy in my book.
 
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I got my Arctic cable (OCC 4 wire) yesterday (for my birthday from my wife). I have to say I am pretty blown away by what is not at all a subtle change in sound. Coming from speaker based hi-if, where the effects of cables is sometimes honestly hard to confirm, this is a big surprise. The bass has become more solid and impactful, the ambient decays in the highs are wonderfully holographic, and gone is a lot of the syrup in the mids. Almost different headphones. They are quite thin, and almost ridiculously flexible as well. It’s almost like there’s no wire in there. And minimally microphonic. I’m wondering if I should have gone 8 wire, and thinking about these for my other phones.
Cool :D I will probably order one soon. What's the advantage of 8 wire? And do they seem more microphonic than the stock cable?
 
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