AV Guide monthly reviews 650/580/ER-4S/SR-60
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Stoner

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Well, he did say the HD650 needs a separate amp.
 
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post-766826
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Steve999

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That's a super review, IMHO. His preferences are a lot like mine. I notice he likes the HD580s a lot more than the HD650s. He says the etymonics 4s are very clear and balanced. He also gave quite an accurate review of the Bose QC2s. He hasn't partaken of the Head-Fi kool-aid, and he used his ears, said what he heard, and stated his preferences. He also hit on three of my faves, the SR60s, HD580s and QC2s. He pretty much hit the heart of the hifi headphone market. Well done, I say.


The magazine in general though appears to have partaken of the audiophile kool-aid. Yuck.


Quote:

Originally posted by LeasingGuy
Here is a link to the full pdf magazine, issue#3 Starts on page 13. The reviewer tested all these cans with the Apple iPod as the source and amplifaction.

This guy gives the 650 a bad review (gosh, I wonder why?)

Have a look, it's worth a laugh.


 
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blessingx

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I agree with Steve999. I think the comments were pretty on. I definitely think the HD650s out perform the HD580s though, and that's not just because of a "pleasing sound" (well, I'm actually not even sure I know what this is), but I suspect the SR60s are easily the best sounding of the bunch. Well straight out of the iPod. Wonder how he chose those four models to test? Two side-by-side Sennheisers out of four options?
 
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Welly Wu

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I thought that this was a decent review. However, it seems that the reviewer did not specifically mention the HeadRoom portable headphone amplifier used in his review. How many hours of burn in time did he give each 'phone? What kind of headphone amplifier did he use? How much burn in time did it get? What kind of IC did he use between the Apple iPod -> HeadRoom amp (???) -> 'phones?

I think that the most important thing to take away from this brief review is that our hobby is growing. It is being more acceptable as a pursuit unto itself and not some kind of dark secret kept in a locked closet. That's good.
 
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davvy

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The guy obviously has absolutely NO IDEA about audio compression and how it relates to the Ipod. Nor has he bothered to find out, before writing a professional review where he comments extensively on the Ipods sound quality. To me this completely destroys the credibility of anything he says. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the majority of reviews posted on this forum (by amateurs for free) are considerably better than his "professional" effort.

He compares the SQ of the Ipod to "a portable CD player", making statements such as "The Ipod can't match the air and resonance from individual instruments that you find on CDs". He then implies that these differences are due to compression. But he makes no mention of what bitrate the tracks were, or even if they were MP3s, AAC or whatever. He also seems completely unaware that it is possible to listen to lossless files on the Ipod.

So it appears that this professional reviewer has been given an Ipod already loaded with music (most likely 128k MP3s or AAC). He has then done extensive listening tests comparing these with a portable CD player playing CDs. And then written several paragraphs of detailed observations about the Ipod's SQ based on the results.

I wonder how much he got paid for that ?
 
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Welly Wu

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Davvy:

First of all, I think we should be thanking this guy for promoting our hobby. Second, please cut him some slack. He's probably got at least another half dozen reviews to write this week on various pieces of audio gear and music.

Lastly, you should already know that the people who populate Internet discussion boards devoted to a specific product are at the cutting edge of that product or technology. We are the final frontier because this is our zealous passion. So, we know better.
 
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davvy

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Quote:

First of all, I think we should be thanking this guy for promoting our hobby


I suppose so, but couldn't he make a bit of effort to ascertain some basic facts ?

Quote:

Second, please cut him some slack. He's probably got at least another half dozen reviews to write this week on various pieces of audio gear and music.


Gee, now I'm feeling really sorry for the guy. Must be really tough writing all those reviews, although clearly he manages to save some time by doing absolutely no research whatsoever.

To be honest, I can't understand how you guys can praise this review. What he says about headphones doesn't sound too bad. I can't really comment as I have yet to hear most of the phones he reviews. But the whole first page (out of 2 and a half pages) is devoted to a discussion of the Ipod and its SQ. And the guy has NO IDEA WHATSOEVER. Not only that, but he sounds credible to people who don't know better and is thus spreading misinformation.

IF YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT A PRODUCT, YOU CAN'T WRITE A REVIEW OF IT. At least not without putting in some effort and doing some basic research. If he had spent maybe one or two hours on the Net he could have at least discovered some basic information.
 
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Lostlamb

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You and me and the rest of us yahoos on this forum know better. We are more informed that the average joe on the street about MP3s, CD audio, compression formats, lossless vs lossy, etc...

Imagine the audience he is writing to...it's AV Guide... Not Head-HIFI mag or something on that line...


For the audience he is writing to, they could care less about compression formats and lossless vs lossy formats, all they would care is: which headphones sounds good with the new phenomon called iPod.

We now have normal joes listening to MP3s cause Apple successfully marketed their MP3 player. No other player on the market before the iPod came out had such an impact.
 
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davvy

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Quote:

For the audience he is writing to, they could care less about compression formats and lossless vs lossy formats, all they would care is: which headphones sounds good with the new phenomon called iPod.


This is probably true. However, his article would also likely give them the impression that your average PCDP has better SQ than an Ipod. This is not a subtle point that the average joe can't understand. And of course it is completely untrue. The vast majority of PCDPs sound like garbage and are considerably inferior to the Ipod (playing high bitrate MP3s or lossless).
 
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nilanjan

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I agree with davvy. As I read the review, I was totally confused by the reviewer's comments about the sound of the iPod compared to CD's, but ascribed my bewilderment to an excessive amount of Cabernet. It appeared that he was really comparing the sound of compressed audio files with regular WAV files, which has nothing to do with the iPod per se. I remember reading JA's review in Stereophile, in which he commented that the iPod does an excellent job playing WAV files, and his measurements proved his point.

The reviews of the headphones were superficial and out of context. AV Guide is the Internet arm of The Absolute Sound, which used to be the highest of the high end magazines. Regular readers are extremely knowledgeable, care a great deal about high quality sound reproduction, and own mega dollar systems. This review reflects a change in editorial direction which has been quite controversial to say the least.

By the way, I do not own either the iPod, the Senn 650 or a megabuck system and am not a regular TAS reader, so my objections are purely philosophical.
 
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newmanoc

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I must agree with Davvy. I don't like the idea of adapting a smug or superior posture, but to spread such poor information is inexplicable in someone paid to review audio (or video) gear. Even if I attempt to be charitable (which I hope is my default mode) this can be seen as nothing but extreme carelessness. Harsh words, but I am afraid true. My concerns are:

1) To talk about the sound quality of IPODs as compared to PCDP's and not specify the compression involved on the IPOD completely invalidates all of his comparisons between the two. This is a key point of Davvy's, and it is NOT a subtle or nitpicking one - it is crucial. How would we feel if someone reviewing speakers matched one pair with a $150 CD source and preceded to say, without comment or qualification, that they were inferior to another pair he had heard, when that pair had been paired with a $20,000 Linn reference CD player? The differences involved with compression may actually be far greater than this example suggests (depending on the bit rate involved, which again, he never mentions).

2) A related point: He never notes that the IPOD need not play compressed music. This is key for people to know. It is in this form that the IPOD and its descendants likely represent the future of audio sources. The smallest current IPOD (15 GB) can hold approximately 23 uncompressed CDs - CD's that can quickly be changed by reloading them from storage on your computer's hard drive (some people are using separate HDs just for this purpose). This is simply too important to miss, especially if part of your criticism of the ipod is of the general inferiority of compressed music!

3) The point has already been made about his not mentioning what headroom amp he was using. How the Sennheiser HD-650's are going to sound will be radically different on a Total Airhead (I suspect the amp he used) than on a Blockhead, or on something in-between. Given that the HD-650 is a very revealing headphone, compressed music through a low quality amp is very possibly going to sound worse to someone than when it is heard on less accurate phones (although granted, the HD-580's, which he liked, are certainly accurate). It is fine to recommend less expensive phones to be used if people are going to listen to mostly compressed music (a matter of personal taste and convenience), but the distinction is never made.

I could go on, but I am getting tired of hearing myself gripe...

I guess I will conclude with a little bit of a retreat. If anyone finds the review helpful or agrees with its conclusions based on listening experience, that is more important than the points of logic I have been ranting about. Happy listening!
 
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post-767391
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newmanoc

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Nilanjan actually made many of my points and beat me to the post while I was still composing. Sorry for the redundancy.
 
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nilanjan

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Not at all, this is how we make friends with like minded people
 
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newmanoc

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Thanks.
back at you.
 
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