Closed-Back Planar Magnetic vs. Open-Back Dynamic Headphones: Which One Wins Out?!
Apr 18, 2021 at 5:12 PM Post #76 of 122

bigshot

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I'm guessing that the size of the headphones has less to do with it than the alignment of the transducer relative to your ear canal and the materials that make up the cups and pads. Open sounds more open when it isn't boxed up as tightly.
 
Apr 18, 2021 at 6:43 PM Post #77 of 122

mobbaddict

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I'm guessing that the size of the headphones has less to do with it than the alignment of the transducer relative to your ear canal and the materials that make up the cups and pads. Open sounds more open when it isn't boxed up as tightly.
Yes that was a bit of an oversimplification but I think a few things can make up for a "bigger" sound, including the depth of the pads which can make the soundstage a bit cavernous, the damping materials and the earcup materials itself which can make it sound more open...

Yeah def. I have also noticed a correlation b/t earcup size and soundstage. Also how the speakers in the headphones themselves are positioned matters too (i.e., straight vs. angled).

Sure. I had already read that the Audeze LCD-1 didn't have a very wide soundstage, so I wasn't THAT shocked by how it sounded in person. But that's a factor in which headphones I choose here now as it seems like the Sundara has the better imaging vs. the K702's wider soundstage. Still, I don't want to rush it, so I'm hoping within the next week or two I'll know for sure. I try to have at least a few days in between each session as to "clear out" my brain. lol

The Sine 'phones look pretty nice too. I guess BMW designed them, so not surprised by their good looks. I'm not an on-ear person, but I know there are some good ones out there, aside from the Sine. If you bought the $50 Cipher cable, how is the DAC BTW? Hopefully good. That's cool that they include one. And is the built-in amp strong enough to power them too?

I'm using my iFi xDSD to drive both headphones.

Well so far the Sundara def SEEMS more effortless and smooth. The physics of how planars work vs. dynamics indicates they would sound better and more accurate, though I've read some who say the difference isn't so noticeable vs. how the headphone is "tuned". Maybe it's simply both?
To my ears there's a clear difference between how dynamics and planars sound. I'm much more attracted to the planar sound for some reason, I've heard the Utopia and a few other high-end dynamics and I wouldn't trade my mid-fi planars for them lol. I'm also done with electrostats even I have kept my Stax collection. Some people seem to like and use different technologies but maybe you will find out one you like better?

Regarding the Sine, no unfortunately mine didn't come up with the cipher cable. I mainly use it with my desktop amp anyway (Fiio K5 pro), on which it sounds great. I suspect the cipher only gave a glimpse of what the Sine could do, because it's amazing on a desktop amp, competing with my fullsize planars (Avantone and Quad). Right now I'm using them with a simple portable amp (Fiio E5) and it seems like even 100 mw are enough to drive them. I'm thinking about getting one of those USB dongles to drive them properly on the go. IMO there's no need to equalize those phones, their tonality is pretty much spot even when compared to reference headphones like the Avantone or the HD600.
 
Apr 18, 2021 at 7:57 PM Post #78 of 122

bigshot

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I really don't think a couple of centimeters more in the pads can cause "cavernous" sound. Caverns are echoey and tight sounding with lots of midrange. If a headphone made music sound like that, I would send it back. When you use imprecise allegorical terms, it saps a lot of the context out of what you're saying. I know people out in the rest of Head-Fi love to describe sound in poetical terms, but in Sound Science we aim for a little more precision than that.

What you're hearing isn't soundstage, because that is music presented on a plane a distance in front of you like you were sitting in an audience hearing the performers on stage. Headphones can't do that. What you are referring to is "openness" or whether the sound is boxed in by the ear cups or whether the airflow is less restricted between inside and outside. It probably has more to do with the materials the pad is made of than it does the height or depth. The angle of the driver relative to your ear canal can affect how direct the sound is too.
 
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Apr 19, 2021 at 3:24 AM Post #79 of 122

mobbaddict

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I really don't think a couple of centimeters more in the pads can cause "cavernous" sound. Caverns are echoey and tight sounding with lots of midrange. If a headphone made music sound like that, I would send it back. When you use imprecise allegorical terms, it saps a lot of the context out of what you're saying. I know people out in the rest of Head-Fi love to describe sound in poetical terms, but in Sound Science we aim for a little more precision than that.

What you're hearing isn't soundstage, because that is music presented on a plane a distance in front of you like you were sitting in an audience hearing the performers on stage. Headphones can't do that. What you are referring to is "openness" or whether the sound is boxed in by the ear cups or whether the airflow is less restricted between inside and outside. It probably has more to do with the materials the pad is made of than it does the height or depth. The angle of the driver relative to your ear canal can affect how direct the sound is too.
If you want me to say in a more simple way, I think adding depth to the earpads can make the soundstage seem wider, just because the drivers move further away from your ear canals. I agree that we can't have sound coming from the front/back in a headphone but you still have width, it's a 2D soundstage if I may say.

I have this example in mind with my Quad Era-1 which comes up with a set of thin hybrid pads and another larger one made of leather. Maybe it's also due to the different materials, but the leather ones create a feeling of a deeper soundstage, which also happen to feel more closed-in due to its shape.
 
Apr 19, 2021 at 4:47 AM Post #80 of 122

bigshot

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With speakers, soundstage takes 8 to 10 feet. You aren't even in the neighborhood of that with headphones.
 
Apr 19, 2021 at 2:02 PM Post #82 of 122

RockStar2005

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Yes that was a bit of an oversimplification but I think a few things can make up for a "bigger" sound, including the depth of the pads which can make the soundstage a bit cavernous, the damping materials and the earcup materials itself which can make it sound more open...


To my ears there's a clear difference between how dynamics and planars sound. I'm much more attracted to the planar sound for some reason, I've heard the Utopia and a few other high-end dynamics and I wouldn't trade my mid-fi planars for them lol. I'm also done with electrostats even I have kept my Stax collection. Some people seem to like and use different technologies but maybe you will find out one you like better?

Regarding the Sine, no unfortunately mine didn't come up with the cipher cable. I mainly use it with my desktop amp anyway (Fiio K5 pro), on which it sounds great. I suspect the cipher only gave a glimpse of what the Sine could do, because it's amazing on a desktop amp, competing with my fullsize planars (Avantone and Quad). Right now I'm using them with a simple portable amp (Fiio E5) and it seems like even 100 mw are enough to drive them. I'm thinking about getting one of those USB dongles to drive them properly on the go. IMO there's no need to equalize those phones, their tonality is pretty much spot even when compared to reference headphones like the Avantone or the HD600.
I C. Well if you've listened to plenty of planars vs. dynamics and came to that conclusion, then that's somethin' to consider as well. I will keep that in mind. For me though, I don't know if I'm at (or ever will be?) at a point where I could just randomly tell the difference b/t a planar and a dynamic headphone. Hopefully! lol

Wow. Sounds like you have your mind really set there! lol I've only tried ONE pair of electrostats, and I ended up returning them. They were the Mitchell & Johnson MJ2 'phones. Although they looked really nice, they needed to be EQ'd, and when compared to the Beyerdynamic DT-1770 I had at the time, they were unable to compete IMO (although the DT-1770 also needed EQ'ing, which was when I was starting to get tired of all that and just wanted something close to neutral that wouldn't lol).

Oh ok. I was just wondering is all (Cipher cable DAC/amp). But FiiO's devices are pretty good too (my first amp only ((before I got into external DACs)) was the FiiO E6, then soon after the more powerful FiiO E11k, which was later renamed the A3), so sounds like you're fine without the Cipher cable anyway, esp if it's a desktop one. Hmm........competes well vs. full-size planars?! :L3000: lol I also have a friend who got the FiiO BTR5 BT amp/DAC and is pretty happy with it.

Awesome! Yeah, I actively go out of my way to only check out headphones that DON'T need EQ'ing, so I feel ya there. I think there's more than enough options out there, esp now that I've been trying out all these "new" ones (well, new for me anyway lol).

I've actually got a running list of USB dongles and related amp/DAC devices going on Amazon (as I do for all kinds of headphones). Lemme know if you need some suggestions. But are you lookin' for just amps like the E5, or amp/DAC combo dongles?
 
Apr 19, 2021 at 7:09 PM Post #83 of 122

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I C. Well if you've listened to plenty of planars vs. dynamics and came to that conclusion, then that's somethin' to consider as well. I will keep that in mind. For me though, I don't know if I'm at (or ever will be?) at a point where I could just randomly tell the difference b/t a planar and a dynamic headphone. Hopefully! lol

Wow. Sounds like you have your mind really set there! lol I've only tried ONE pair of electrostats, and I ended up returning them. They were the Mitchell & Johnson MJ2 'phones. Although they looked really nice, they needed to be EQ'd, and when compared to the Beyerdynamic DT-1770 I had at the time, they were unable to compete IMO (although the DT-1770 also needed EQ'ing, which was when I was starting to get tired of all that and just wanted something close to neutral that wouldn't lol).

Oh ok. I was just wondering is all (Cipher cable DAC/amp). But FiiO's devices are pretty good too (my first amp only ((before I got into external DACs)) was the FiiO E6, then soon after the more powerful FiiO E11k, which was later renamed the A3), so sounds like you're fine without the Cipher cable anyway, esp if it's a desktop one. Hmm........competes well vs. full-size planars?! :L3000: lol I also have a friend who got the FiiO BTR5 BT amp/DAC and is pretty happy with it.

Awesome! Yeah, I actively go out of my way to only check out headphones that DON'T need EQ'ing, so I feel ya there. I think there's more than enough options out there, esp now that I've been trying out all these "new" ones (well, new for me anyway lol).

I've actually got a running list of USB dongles and related amp/DAC devices going on Amazon (as I do for all kinds of headphones). Lemme know if you need some suggestions. But are you lookin' for just amps like the E5, or amp/DAC combo dongles?
On the planars versus dynamics debate that's just my point of view, it's all good if people like both, many people here like to collect different flavors. It's also valid for different sound signatures. I'll just be happy if I can stick to one headphone and close my head-fi account for good someday haha.

I didn't know about the MJ2, it looks like a cool headphone. Reminds me of the AKG K340 which used a similar combination of electrostat and dynamic drivers. Never had a chance to hear these.

Regarding amps I was more looking at USB dongles with an integrated DAC recently. They start competing with portable amps, with some of them putting out over 100mw which should be enough to power easy to drive planars. Quite fascinating when you look at the size of those devices. Do you have one of them in your shopping list? I have the Meizu hifi which is for intended for IEMs.
 
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Apr 19, 2021 at 7:13 PM Post #84 of 122

bigshot

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I've heard excellent dynamic headphones and excellent planars. I haven't heard electrostatics, but I hear they can sound excellent too. I think good headphones sound good. I don't think any particular design can be generalized as always good.
 
Apr 19, 2021 at 7:32 PM Post #85 of 122

mobbaddict

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Not necessarily as good versus bad but just different sound characteristics that one can observe, and it's even more noticeable with electrostats. The whole point is that certains characteristics might appeal more to some people, or for certain types of music. That's just my observation here.
 
Apr 19, 2021 at 8:42 PM Post #86 of 122

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On the planars versus dynamics debate that's just my point of view, it's all good if people like both, many people here like to collect different flavors. It's also valid for different sound signatures. I'll just be happy if I can stick to one headphone and close my head-fi account for good someday haha.

I didn't know about the MJ2, it looks like a cool headphone. Reminds me of the AKG K340 which used a similar combination of electrostat and dynamic drivers. Never had a chance to hear these.

Regarding amps I was more looking at USB dongles with an integrated DAC recently. They start competing with portable amps, with some of them putting out over 100mw which should be enough to power easy to drive planars. Quite fascinating when you look at the size of those devices. Do you have one of them in your shopping list? I have the Meizu hifi which is for intended for IEMs.
Haha sure!

Hmm ok. Yeah they looked pretty nice in person too.

Oh ok. On my list for USB dongle amp/DACs I only have 2 (so far):

Audiolab "P-DAC"

My notes: ES9023 Sabre DAC (single). FR: 5Hz - 50kHz. Max output: 49mW (not sure at what impedance though). Use this adapter to reduce stress on connector: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B...b_asin_title_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1&pldnSite=1

iBasso DC03

My notes: Dual Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC/amp chips. 80mW at 32 Ohms. FR: 20Hz - 40kHz.


I guess you could contact Audiolab to inquire about the missing impedance info for the max output. I'd like to believe it's prob somewhere about 300 ohms, but can't say for sure. But I do like that it has a lower starting bottom-end (5Hz), which I assume means improved sub-bass rendering?!

Hope that helps! Anything more powerful would be like an external amp/DAC device, which I also have listed (though cost more).
 
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Apr 19, 2021 at 10:13 PM Post #87 of 122

bigshot

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Not necessarily as good versus bad but just different sound characteristics that one can observe, and it's even more noticeable with electrostats. The whole point is that certains characteristics might appeal more to some people, or for certain types of music. That's just my observation here.

Perspnal preferences are much more likely to be response related than the kind of transducer.
 
Apr 20, 2021 at 6:02 AM Post #88 of 122

mobbaddict

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Haha sure!

Hmm ok. Yeah they looked pretty nice in person too.

Oh ok. On my list for USB dongle amp/DACs I only have 2 (so far):

Audiolab "P-DAC"

My notes: FR: 5Hz - 50kHz. Max output: 49mW (not sure at what impedance though). Use this adapter to reduce stress on connector: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B...b_asin_title_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1&pldnSite=1

iBasso DC03

My notes: Dual Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC/amp chips. 80mW at 32 Ohms. FR: 20Hz - 40kHz.


I guess you could contact Audiolab to inquire about the missing impedance info for the max output. I'd like to believe it's prob somewhere about 300 ohms, but can't say for sure. But I do like that it has a lower starting bottom-end (5Hz), which I assume means improved sub-bass rendering?!

Hope that helps! Anything more powerful would be like an external amp/DAC device, which I also have listed (though cost more).
Check the THX onyx and the Shanling UA2, these are even more powerful and have the same format :)

Perspnal preferences are much more likely to be response related than the kind of transducer.
Yes of course, I'd rather have a neutral dynamic headphone than a v-shaped planar for instance. But if you spend a few hundreds/thousands in a headphone, I guess you can check other criterias besides frequency response. There's plenty of choice.
 
Apr 20, 2021 at 7:22 AM Post #89 of 122

bigshot

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Frequency response is the single most important criteria for how headphones sound. Nothing else comes close.
 

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