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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. phthora
    If you will forgive a question both off-topic and noob, what is the appeal of Sonarworks? I'm not judging; it's an honest question.
  2. Bern2
    Sonarworks is a Windows/Mac based (soon to be availabe for Android?Ios..it's in beta stage). EQ program that uses the actual headphone frequency response and then applies EQ to more or less make it neutral. (I have SW ref 3). You can send in your headphones for measurement if you wish..(they are in Latvia..so I haven't done that)..or use their EQ file that is based on an average of measurements). In my case..it took the Sennheiser HD800 ..which I could never manually EQ to my satisfaction and turned it into a lovely headphone for me. I would not have kept the 800 without Sonarworks.

    It's a free trial...and you'd have to check their website to see if your headphone is listed. I found it to be a great purchase for me. That said....it is user dependent...and some headphones will benefit more than others. I tried it with the HD600...which IMO didn't benefit a whole lot and it is more or less neutral to begin with. And I found the 600 lacking in the lower end for me...and the 600's driver didn't handle EQ down low for me. (I'm not dumping on them...just my personal preference. Loads of people use them and the 650 as reference).

    I want to try their True-Fi (android/Ios) when it comes out...as I'd like to use it with my Sony MDR-1abt's and the B&W P7 wireless).


    someone else can chime in and expand..or correct what I've messed up.

    Last edited: May 23, 2018
    trellus and phthora like this.
  3. phthora

    So, is it worthwhile if you are not necessarily interested in a neutral sound? I am kind of... promiscuous when it comes to frequency responses. I have what I regard to be dead neutral headphones, and still enjoy the coloration of all my others. Is it handy if you just want a solid EQ, but not necessarily to make things flat?
  4. Jearly410
    There are adjustments you can make to raise the bass etc.
  5. Bern2
    I think so...ref 3 (and I assume ref 4...can't apeak about True-Fi) gives the option of tweaking the sound if you want after correction is applied. So some extra bass can be added and a tilt control that affects both lows and highs.

    Here's the local discussion...all the early pages are probably obsolete now and apply to earlier versions of software.

    They offer a sale every so often...think it cost me 79 dollars. In my case it was well worth it. You can try ref 4 and if you don't like it...or it doesn't provide any value....all you lost was some time...while getting to listen to some music.

    phthora likes this.
  6. Bern2
    One thing I thought of while on my way to the store and should have mentioned earlier. Ref 3 (and I would think ref 4) offers the ability to "wet/dry" adjustments...so you can mix between the SW corrected file and the original headphone response if you wish. So if you wish to keep some or the majority of the original headphone..but yet add some adjustment you can...and save it as a preset. Hope that made some sense. I usually run the HD800 around 70%.

    trellus likes this.
  7. DW75
    I must have about 25 hours on my Nightowl Carbon by now. This is a very good headphone. At default, it is a bit too dark for my taste. I will say though that I like this headphone quite a bit more than the SRH1540 I ended up returning. To my surprise, I thought I would end up staying on the ultrasuede pads. I ended up creating two different EQ sets to be used, depending on what pads were on the headphone. After EQ on both sets , the sound with the pleather pads became the most tonally accurate. In fact, once I put an EQ on this puppy, it sounds miles ahead of my Focal Listen. One thing that is great about this headphone is that even with using EQ to increase the upper frequencies, any hint of sibilance is literally non-existent. The drivers used in this headphone are incredibly low distortion, and they handle it without any problems. I have a feeling that more manufactures are going to start using biocellulose drivers in their headphones. I imagine that some amazing results could be achieved in the 1000-1500 dollar headphone range.

    The lower bass on this headphone is quite impressive. It has deep extension, and is fairly flat right down to 10Hz. Compared to the SRH1540, the lower bass on the Nightowl is much tighter and defined. It also extends down lower. To me, however, there is an issue with too much midbass, and it bleeds into the mids. This was also an issue with the SRH1540. Both of these headphones have too much midbass bloat. It makes everything sound quite unnatural, and too "I am listening to headphones on a bass heavy tube amp" in character. Vocals on the Nightowl are a bit distant, and the upper mids are too recessed. Everything has a lushness, and warm character, but is missing definition. Everything is presented with quite a veil. Instruments and vocals sound as though they have a blanket over them. I will say though that instrument separation and soundstage on this headphone are very impressive for a closed back. Location of various instruments in the recordings are very easy to detect. In my opinion, this headphone actually sounds like an open back in this regard. At around 2kHz, there is a huge dip, and this carries on right through to 6kHz. Normally, having a bit of a dip at 5-6kHz is desired, as this will prevent the music displaying any sibilance. However, on the Nightowl Carbon, it is so dipped that snare drums and symbols are missing some of their body and natural character. There is a cloudiness to their presentation. In terms of noise isolation, this headphone is very impressive. People with loud neighbors would appreciate how well this blocks external noise when you are listening to music or gaming.

    I will say though, that once I created my own EQ set for this headphone, there is no way I am returning this. It just sounds fantastic now. The drivers used in this headphone are very good, so distortion and sibilance with using EQ are not audible. I bet people looking for a more balanced sound will be very impressed with this.

    EQ Set For Using With Pleather Pads:

    Pre-Amplifying: - 2

    125Hz: - 1
    160Hz - 1
    200Hz: - 1
    250Hz: - 1
    315Hz: - 1
    400Hz: - 1
    500Hz: - 0.5
    630Hz: - 0.5
    1.25kHz: + 0.5
    1.6kHz: + 1
    2kHz: + 1.5
    2.5kHz: + 1.5
    3.15kHz: + 2
    4kHz: + 1.5
    5kHz: + 1.5
    6kHz: 0.5
    8kHz: 0.5
    10kHz: + 0.5
    16kHz: + 1
    trellus and Jearly410 like this.
  8. kennyb123
    I took advantage of the price break and purchased the Nightowl Carbon as well, I nearly sent it back as the upper frequencies didn’t sound right to me - even after 100 hours of burn in.

    Over a year ago, I had previously borrowed a friend’s Nighthawk so I was expecting to be disappointed with the Carbon’s upper frequencies when using the stock cable. My friend happens to be a Wireworld dealer so the sneaky guy included a couple different demo cables in the case with the headphones. I was about to give him back his headphones when he suggested I try a different cable. I was floored by the level of improvement from the Nano-Eclipse. And was even more stunned with the Nano-Platinum. I absolutely loved the Nighthawks with the Nano-Platinum.

    Fast forward to the present. I again borrowed these demo cables. My gosh did the Carbons sound amazing with the Nano-Platinum. Cymbals gained the appropriate sheen that’s missing with stock cable. And timbre was stunning with this cable.

    While better than the stock cable, the Nano-Eclipse gave up too much relative to the Nano-Platinum. The Carbon was just not enjoyable enough to me to want it to be a keeper. No way though that I could justify the price of the Nano-Platinum.

    The Nano-Silver falls between the Nano-Eclipse and Nano-Platinum in their lineup. My friend didn’t have a demo cable but I took a gamble on it anyway and ordered one - and I’m glad I did. I’m thrilled with what I’m hearing now from the Carbons. The frequency balance is just right to me now.

    I passed on comparing the Nano-Silver directly to the Nano-Platinum as I just didn’t want to spoil my enjoyment of the Nano-Silver. But memory suggests that some transparency was lost. The Nano-Platinum is a very special cable. But at half the price, the Nano-Silver is the far better value.
    Bern2 likes this.
  9. Bern2
    Give me a quick thought/comparison vs your Amiron Home....I was possibly thinking of getting the wireless version...but early reviews are mixed.

    While I don't have the NO..(have the Nighthawk...actually 2 of them)...I agree that they handle EQ very well and removing the bass bloat really opens them up. (IMO).

  10. DW75
    I am using EQ on my Amiron Home as well. Do you want a comparison with both headphones at stock or with EQ ? Both of these headphones respond equally well to EQ, and no distortion is detectable. I can put something up in the next day or two. I would just need a few hours to make a comparison. Both are awesome headphones.
  11. Bern2
    With EQ...I'm not in any hurry.....whenever you feel like doing it. Hopefully it would cross over to the wireless version of the Amiron which is just coming out. Not many reviews on it yet.

  12. DW75
    Sure, I can do that. I will put something up here in the next couple days.
    Bern2 likes this.
  13. DW75
    The only thing is that the Amiron wireless is a closed back. My impressions with the regular Amiron will be different.
    Bern2 likes this.
  14. Shane D
    My Carbons are going on sale. In my case I found the more I used them, the less impressed I became. I bought their replacements today.

    It was a brief affair that ended with a thud.:beyersmile:

    Shane D
  15. Bern2
    What headphone dethroned them?

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