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AudioQuest NightOwl - A closed-back NightHawk

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by xero1, Aug 14, 2016.
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  1. XERO1
    Here's a really nice review of the NightOwl.
  2. SkylarGray
    I have been getting many requests for information about noise isolation with NightOwl.
    So I wanted to share a study I performed during development that shows what level of performance to expect compared to other closed-back headphones at various price points.
    This test was done inside my semi-anechoic iso chamber with a KEMAR HATS. I used a full-range speaker to play pink noise at 90dBSPL. The SPL was measured at the eardrum and calibrated to a flat response with no headphones on KEMAR. I then measured the new response at the eardrum when various headphones were worn on my good buddy KEMAR.
    This chart shows attenuation vs frequency. Zero dB is no attenuation. Negative numbers are better.
    NightOwl had the best noise attenuation of any headphones I tested in this case.
    There might be other passive, closed-back headphones out there that can best NightOwl's noise atten performance, but I suspect NOwl is at least among the best on the market in this respect.
    Aside: NightHawk actually has near-closed-back performance in this study, which is interesting for a semi-open headphone.
    YtseJamer likes this.
  3. Jackpot77

    Very interesting - Is that related to the diffusion grilles that are built in to the NH or the dome design of the NO (presuming it doesn't have the same lattice underneath)?

    Have you done any tests to measure the level of sound leakage OUT into the environment in a similar fashion?
  4. EdwardPL
    How about some Nightowl and NH Carbon FR measurements? Since the NH C has boost pads as the new stock pads it would be great to see the measurements. 
  5. ninetylol
    Edit: Wrong Thread :S
    Anybody using the Nighthawk with a Chord Mojo? How well do they pair? Headfonia says its a terrible match thats why i ask :xf_eek:
  6. elnero
    I love the pairing myself. I had a brand new Bifrost Mulitbit and Asgard 2 when I had the chance to review the Mojo. I bought my own Mojo the day after I shipped the review sample on to the next person and promptly sold the Schiit stack.
    ninetylol likes this.
  7. invisiblekid
    Have you got a link to that opinion. 
    I have this combination and I simply fail to see how you can call it a terrible match. 
    Are there better DAC's for the NightOwls, yes of course there are, but my god it's not terrible. 
    But hey, others will be far better at hearing things than I. For my ears the headphone is far more important. 
    On sound leakage, given how loud these are when not being worn, it's pretty impressive once being worn. My 8yo loved them lol. The plether cups are obviously better than the suede effect ones. I use the suede cups as they open the sound up a bit more and my God, so, so, so comfortable. It's like putting on a pair of pillows. 
  8. shurealltheway
    Too early for impressions, because I just got them, but these Nightowls are fantastic right out of the box. It seems impossible that they can be closed and yet the soundstage can sound that big. I don't know they do it. They're not even broken in and it's larger than my Shure 1540's and those are amazing. I haven't tried the US pads yet, but the rumor is that they make it sound even larger. My goodness.
    For those worried about isolation, these seal incredibly well with the Boost pads. I will post more when I have more time with them.
    YtseJamer, saxophone and jinxy245 like this.
  9. saxophone
  10. shurealltheway

    They remind me a lot of my Shure 1540's and that's a good thing because they've been my favorite closed back headphone for years. I haven't tried the US pads yet, but they're supposed to add some sparkle and reduce a little bass.
    So just remember that these are fresh out of the box and I expect them to change with burn in. But right now I'd call them a little warm and very balanced. I wouldn't mind a tad more treble but this is where it gets weird. The treble doesn't really sound rolled off, it's just that they present a different tone and/or timbre than I'm used to. Plus I think the dampening is so good that there's no hint of distortion, and that coupled with such a black background takes a little getting used to. Not in a bad way. In a, I've never heard headphones that sound quite like this, way. It's the soundstage right now that has me baffled. It's just so good! And these are closed! All I can focus on right now is soundstage and imaging and it's wonderful.
  11. saxophone
    Hmm... now I'm stuck. I was planning on getting a pair of SRH 1540s because the SRH 840 is one of my favorite headphones I've ever owned. However, these NightOwls sound like they could be what I'm looking for. 
  12. shurealltheway

    You can't go wrong with the 1540's. They're simply amazing headphones. It's too early for me to say if these will replace mine, especially because people always get excited when they get a new toy, but man they're really really good. And I haven't even tried the pads that seem to be most suited to my tastes yet. I also haven't A and B'd them with my 1540's yet. I promise to post more when I've had more time.
    I am going to post some pictures later tonight though.
  13. saxophone
    I have a pair of NightHawks that I will hopefully get to listen to this weekend. Since people are saying that the sound is similar to the NightOwl, I may just listen to the NightHawk for a while and make a decision later.
  14. shurealltheway

    Sounds good. I've never heard the Nighthawks so I have no idea how similar they are to the Nightowls. But now that I've had more time with these, they're my end game headphones. I love my Shure's but these are next level. I love everything about them and they're not even burned in yet, and I haven't even tried the Ultrasuede pads yet. I'll repost my comments in another thread about their weird and awesome soundstage effects on some songs.
  15. shurealltheway

    I don't even know what to say about these Nightowls. I can't praise them enough. I don't care if they burn in anymore. They do weird and wonderful things to the music. My 1540's sound great and have an awesome soundstage but these sound spooky on some songs and I don't know how they do it. When I listened to Dire Straits Local Theme, which is all instrumental, there are parts where the guitars crescendo. On my Shure's, they capture the dynamics really well and get louder and everything sounds great. But the Nightowls do all that and then they do something weird. They make it sound like the music flies closer to you and envelopes you and then backs off again into distant space. Or maybe it's more like you're in a concert and are moving closer to the stage and then the music retreats and you're back a few rows. It's hypnotic and kind of scary because I've never heard anything presented like that before from headphones. I can't think of one damn thing to criticize. They're super comfortable, they isolate like Alcatraz, they sound amazing, and I haven't even tried the US pads yet. I will never reach for any other headphone again as long as these are within reach.
    If that's what you mean by holographic, then yes, I hear it. It's spooky holographic.
    When I listened to When A Blind Man Cries by Metallica, it sounded like I was there in concert. It was so clean, analytical and fun, and with such a ribbon of black background. The End by The Doors is just trippy and mesmerizing.
    Can someone please explain to me how they create such an expansive soundstage and are closed? I don't get it.
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