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Cowon J3 + SE 530 - Shrilly highs! help?

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by johnnyarks, Jan 24, 2011.
  1. johnnyarks
    **I accidentally placed this in the wrong forum before (portable amps)**
    UPDATE 1/28/11: I ordered a Zune HD from amazon, and I will be able to directly A/B this w/ my Cowon J3, which ever one doesn't sit well w/ my hearing goes back, Will update again. (click link below for zune vs j3 impressions)
     Ok, I got my cowon j3 last week, and I really really want to like it,
    ...but for the life of me CANNOT get rid of the Shrill (Shhhhsss or SH) sound... its killing me, cause without a doubt the cowon makes the rest of my music sound amazing...I've tried tons of different EQ/BBE setting nothing works, even w/ all the bands set to -12 I can still notice the shrill sounding "sh" sound, subtle but still apparent to my ears.
    I can confirm its not my head phones cause I've used them on 6 other sources, that being a Zune 120, Samsung Vibrant, Headphone out on Z-5500, Headphone out on Realtek sound card, and a Creative Zen M, and Samsung P2, I've A/B'd them Individually  w/ the Cowon j3, with the same tracks. Including .Flac source material. (.Flac was only compared on the PC vs. J3)
    I listen to a lot of music with vocals, and Its hard for me to just let the Cowon just play the music w/o me cringing at 80% of the *sh* portions of a track. Now I know I've only had it for a week, I've read on other forums that the sound grows on you, for the life of me can't imagine getting used to it. To give you some context of what I like to listen to, I think the Creative Zen M sounds amazing, Zune30 with acoustic EQ on, a close 2nd if not a push. Yes the EQ in the Creative Zen M pales in comparison to Cowon's JetEffects 3.0, but there is no shrill on the Creative Dap (especially w/ smart volume on).  The Zen w/ a Flat EQ sounds way better than A J3 on "normal".
    I posted in the Cowon J3 impressions thread and got no help.
    Headphones: I'm using the Shure SE 530s <--- Generally regarded as being smooth/warm, w/ a rolloff at the high end. (So, not sure how this problem is even possible.)
    If I'm screwed... can anyone suggest alternative DAP. I've order this from amazon and I believe have 30 days to return it, But I believe will only get 85% of my refund cause its opened. Maybe ZuneHD, Sanza type player? or maybe a new Creative Dap? 
    If someone can A/B a ZuneHD w/ a Zune 30 w/ Acoustic EQ on and confirm this sounds identical I'd buy this in a heartbeat)
    Yes the Zune30 and Zune120 sound different to me. Even when both flat (not a big diff but its there)
    *As per another poster in the errant thread, He suggested my J3 is defective? does anyone feel the same? because of this recommendation I have reloaded the 2.23 firmware, rolled back to 2.10, then back up to 2.23, and the shrill remains*

  2. BotByte
    I have no weird sound, or off noise with my S9, which is the same as the J3. Have you tested other headphones? Have you tried a different amp? (if you have any, TL:DR)
    Your J3 is probably defective, try wiggiling the jack if the sound changes. My father's zen pebble had something like that before I soddered the jack back in place.
    Defective products just happen, I had three, count them THREE 3!!! Zune 120 that all failed in the first hour. One with battery problems, two with hard drive errors
  3. johnnyarks
    yeah, I tried them w/ some xb500 sony's...and they sound fine, but those are super bassy/boomy cans by nature so kinda hard to tell. I'm coming to the conclusion that, thats just the way the J3 sounds w/ my 530, but to be sure I'm gona RMA them.  Unfortunatly it will take 2-3 weeks to get back new/repaired unit from jetaudio =[ ....but I guess its better to know for sure instead of always wondering if my player is defective. Unfortunatly I don't own any amps to try w/ the J3.
  4. techfreakazoid
    Hey johnnyarks,
    I haven't heard the J3 firsthand, but from what I've read it's similar to the S9.  Since you're in NYC, why don't you visit the stores that carry the J3 to see if you received a dud.  Bring your test FLACs and load them onto the store's demo J3 and A-B test for sibilance.  Also, the Shure black foamies will lessen the highs, but if the singer and tracks were mastered with sh's, then the Shures will just accurately reproduce the mix.
    BTW, how does the SE530-Vibrant > Audioboost sound?  Interested to hear your impressions once you've digested the SE530-J3 sound sig.
  5. johnnyarks
    yea the foamies are best for this but even the smallest size bother my ears for more than 40mins+, and they get kinda gross after a months usage, even if you clean ur ears daily.  I think the grey flex are 9/10 sound quality & 10/10 comfortable & portable category, also, they're more durable, as I've been using the same ones for 2yrs+.
    I think I can try out the j3 at J&R music world but they won't let u put your own tracks on them, especially when you have no intention of buying it from them.  I probably will attempt this 2morrow.
    The Vibrant + se530 sound great, but only w/ the native samsung player not PowerAMP (samsung player gives better SQ).  Overall leaves something to be desired in the low end, EQ is kinda week, it works but not great. Audioboost is great to basically make the player louder, low end still feels lacking, Audioboost is a bit of a resource hog, so I can't keep it on all the time as it lags my phone down, so not an ideal solution for a full-time dap. There is no shrill effect w/ the SE 530s, if its there, its recessed to the point where it doesn't bother me.

  6. techfreakazoid
    Yes, tips are highly personal.  Keep us posted on the A-B tests.  If things don't sound right, ping Cowon and report back on their support.  I've had mixed results with their reps providing conflicting product info so hopefully, they've resolved their training and hiring issues.
    Good to hear there's some synergy with the Vibrant.  The battery life on current Android devices is a day if you're lucky.  Music playback is another hit and apps don't quite sleep/close.
  7. bengewarmer
    Yea I was also wondering what stores will let you load your own tracks onto any particular player. Also, I've found the same problem when I had my S9. I had it for about two weeks before I returned it for an iPod touch 4G. I like the sound on this a lot better and I use 320 mp3s and apple lossless. I had flacs on the S9, but like yourself, regardless of the EQ setting, it just wasn't cutting it. Disappointing, really. :frowning2:
  8. techfreakazoid
    Sure, not all stores will be so accommodating, but if you have an existing relationship with your local shop or are able to build rapport with the sales rep I'm sure they'll be open to doing what it takes to close on the sale.  That's the beauty and mystery of this hobby.  We all hear differently, listen to specific genres and value certain sonic attributes, plus not all IEMs pair well.  As I've advised before, ideally A-B test in the comfort of your home with your test tracks over several days to digest what pleases your ears.  Purchase from stores that have favorable return policies.
  9. estreeter
    Wouldn't you love to hear this with the SR325is ...... the CIA may well use that combination at the next Gitmo.
  10. johnnyarks


    I was considering this, but can't justify the $275 (amazon) price of 32GB itouch, when a 32GB zune hd can be had for ~$203.
  11. amclaussen
    Your opinion on the quality of sound from the (now) old Creative Zen Micro matches mine perfectly...  I've found the various circuit topologies in the different players output amplifier is what mostly gives them their own character.  At 320 KBPS in MP3, my old Zen Micro (bought in dec 2005) still outperforms many much newer contenders.
    Sibilance (that dreaded SHHH you hear on loud vocals), is related to a high distortion level produced at the output stage, specially when trying to cope with loud vocals, or in those cases the designer used an IC with limited output at high frecuencies.  On the other side, the impedance of a two (or three) way earphones places higher demands on the output amplifier section of any player, due to the interaction of the drivers impedances and the components in the passive crossover.  No problem if the designer planned enough power bandwidth in the output devices, but when trying to extract every last bit of power and at the same time the lowest power consumption in order to maximize a given battery capacity, that usually results in insufficient CLEAN power at upper frecuencies.  Just out of curiosity, try loading your player with a simpler single driver (one way) earphone instead of a two or three way earphones.  Earphone efficiency (how many dB's they put out for a given power input in milliwatts) could make a barely adecuate circuit sound passable.
    Otherwise, the unit could be defective (or borderline, remember tolerances add up so that a given unit sounds bad and the next one one could be passable).

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