Definitive technology (DefTech) symphony 1
Jul 5, 2015 at 3:29 PM Post #62 of 121

NeoteriX

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 23, 2005
Posts
219
Likes
12
Hey all -- I'm the writer of the Amazon review cited and just wanted to say hi. I've been meaning to do a post here, adapting my Amazon review to more Head-Fi sensibilities, but life has gotten in the way. Also, though I used to spend more time here and audiophilia is a really fun and addicting hobby, I've since moved onto the part of my life where I do care about audio quality, but I just don't have the time to hyper-scrutinize things with lossless audio and several hundred dollar amps (but I totally respect those that do!)
 
My basic quest is to find and keep a set of headphones that is best in class for a wireless Bluetooth headphone that has active noise cancellation to drown out things like the subway, my coworkers (I work in an open desk environment), and my girlfriend's activities in our apartment. I started with the Sony MDR-1RBT and despite reviews suggesting great passive isolation, that passive isolation simply isn't enough in places like the subway. I moved onto the Samsung Level Overs which were decent, but had a few flaws. Its sound signature was extremely neutral and just wasn't as fun to listen to without its accompanying Android app with EQ. The only problem is that when paired with the computer, I had to futz around with EQ and it never really was ideal. Also, the ANC logic needed work: the ANC mics are pointed forward and so if you're walking fast or wind is blowing your way (as is typical when walking up the stairs out of a subway), you got an earful of mic wind noise. Lastly, the Level Overs are huge, they are heavy, and they don't really adjust well.
 
Anyway, after seeing the Symphony 1s announced at CES, I eagerly awaited their release, and long story short, decided they were great for my needs and haven't felt the need to keep looking (where obviously the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0s would be next on the list to try). 
 
Re: short on the descriptions of sound quality: To be honest, I stayed away from too many subjective descriptions of the sound quality because I feel like unless you're directly comparing two or more headphones (i.e., headphone x has "blah blah blah" better than y), subjective descriptions are only marginally useful (my opinion, obviously). Basically once you're in the neighborhood of sound signature (analytical > neutral > warm > Beats) that's about as good as it gets. Either way, I stayed away from too many subjective descriptions because I'm probably not as critical listener as many others here (although I have a critical enough ear to distinguish between the low and mid anchoring samples on the last Hydrogen Audio codec test, which was challenging to many).
 
That said, I felt like their signature fits my needs far better than that of the Level Overs. They are definitely warmer and have a nice bass punch (passive powered or with BT) than the "not really fun to listen to, but quality" Level Overs (though not as midbass heavy as the 1RBTs).
 
On the noise cancellation front, yeah I lament that ultimately the best data points are my subjective assessments of the S1's ANC. That said, they are good. I don't know if they are Bose good as I haven't have the pleasure of trying them, but they have definitely made listening to music/podcasts on the subway bearable. In short, with just the passive isolation of the 1RBTs, music is unlistenable at safe volumes (and then it's not enjoyable either). With the Level Overs with ANC on, it's listenable, but not super enjoyable (you get the general contours of the music, but the richness of music is drowned out). With the S1s, we are entering "enjoyable" territory. There's still a ways to go before listening on a subway with ANC gets close to the enjoyability of music in a quiet room, but it's definitely within the beginning of that zone.
 
Some other thoughts:
 
The variation of passive OFF versus passive ON, and everything else:
This one was interesting to me, and having spent a lot more time with the S1s since I wrote my Amazon review, I've definitely become more finely attuned to the differences. Here's my take (and I wish we could get an interview with the Definitive Technology engineers to shed more light on this): The thing with wireless headphones that I think some people might gloss over is that they are POWERED, fully standalone headphones. In theory, wireless headphones have some opportunity to be some of the best, most consistent headphones around (not withstanding wireless transmission/compression losses) because there is necessarily both a DAC and and Amp built in—you can theoretically allow the headphone engineer to choose the most suitable DAC and suitable Amp for a given driver choice and configuration, instead of worrying about impedance mismatch and whether headphones can play on mobile phones versus iPods versus home stereos versus computers.
 
Anyway, I digress. The point is, I would money on the fact that the amp and dac are well-paired with the S1's drivers and all three tuned with that understanding. In passive unpowered mode, you are essentially going back to a place where one risks improper amp/DAC pairing. When listening passively/Off with my Nexus 6 phone, the bass is definitely lacking, but when listening through my portable amp/DAC, it gets closer to when listening passively/On with the S1. Either way, the fact that you have the option to listen to your phone or computer through USB out essentially means that you can put the question of passive/active behind you and get the best of both worlds: A fully lossless digital transmission that completely utilizes the headphone's paired/tuned DAC and amp. If it weren't for the fact that volume control is a little less convenient and that I still need to get a long, flexible braided USB cable, I would probably listen this way more often to my computer.
 
As for whether ANC improves/decreases sound quality, I want to say my gut says it's better with ANC, but it's hard to be objective here without good A/B testing. Either way, the ANC is quite hiss free, although if I were to amend my Amazon review, I would note that on Bluetooth there is no ANC hiss, but on passive, you can hear some hiss (though again, still much better than the Level Overs).
 
The benefit of Dual Mics for telephone noise cancellation
 
I've since confirmed that the S1s use a dual mic configuration (both in the right earcup) for picking up audio in phone calls and voice recording (I basically recorded audio while rubbing each of the mic holes in the earcup). And I found that the dual mic beamforming is actually quite impressive. While recording, I can speak "at" the right earcup with the headphones off and though I can hear myself in the recording, it is definitely fainter than speaking naturally with the headphones on. In other words, the DT engineers have definitely tuned the noise cancellation beamforming so that it is isolating audio where your mouth is expected to be when wearing them. Super cool.
 
Wind and Active Noise Cancellation
 
With the issue of wind blowing into the ANC mics for the Level Overs, I had assumed this was a downside to ANC that I had to live with. In other words, the wind blowing across the ANC mics on the Level Overs (typical when you're walking or are outside) would sound just like if you were to blow across a recording mic. However, I'm pleased to note that regardless of the wind or other conditions around me for the S1s perform admirably. My best guess is that with a quad ANC setup (1 mic on each ear on the outside and 1 on the inside of the earcup), Definitive Technology properly tuned things to switch over to the inner ear mic when a bad signal was coming in from wind on the outside mics. Either way, the ANC performs great in situations that would have challenged the Level Overs.
 
Reliability
 
Since I left my review, I had an issue where using the play/pause/forward/backward button, it jammed (I think the switch failed), and basically the button was stuck. On the upside, the retailer was quite good and sent me a replacement model and everything was a model of good customer service (I reached out to but didn't have to use the Definitive Technology customer service). However, I'll just throw out there that there may be a risk that the button switches may go bad—especially the middle button that happens to serve lots of functions and will be used most frequently. 
 
Re: The Pain in the Ass 2.5mm audio connector
 
I'm still a little frustrated that a 2.5mm connector was used in the ear cup for passive listening. For those that may not know, many Sennheiser headphones are built this way, so if you want a headphone cable that is a little more substantial than the one included (DT includes a pretty thin and short cable), do a search on eBay for 3rd party headphone cables for Sennheiser headphones, and they work great. For example, I chose this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/251749926652 to have by my laptop for passive listening and it works great.
 
Anyway, I think that's all of the updates I have; feel free to ask any questions if you have them—
 
Jul 5, 2015 at 3:30 PM Post #63 of 121

NeoteriX

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 23, 2005
Posts
219
Likes
12
   
The ear pads are detachable and quite easy to remove and put back in place.

 
Are you referring to the Symphony 1s? How do you remove them? I've half-heartedly tried a few times, but was worried I would damage something; from what I can see, they don't have a clear way of coming off unlike the Sony 1RBTs.
 
Jul 5, 2015 at 11:49 PM Post #64 of 121

n00b2

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 14, 2013
Posts
510
Likes
55
   
Are you referring to the Symphony 1s? How do you remove them? I've half-heartedly tried a few times, but was worried I would damage something; from what I can see, they don't have a clear way of coming off unlike the Sony 1RBTs.


Yes. Just pull them off with force starting from one end. It initially seems like it is breaking but once you pull it off you will see that there are actually a bunch of clips that clip the ear cup into place. They don't click real hard so it is hard to tell when they are clipped back on properly but once they are in they won't come back off easily.
 
Jul 6, 2015 at 5:26 AM Post #65 of 121

Shinoke

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 2, 2015
Posts
126
Likes
22
@NeoteriX
 
Cheers for that, very comprehensive!
 
Mind posting here?
http://www.head-fi.org/t/761894/the-active-noise-cancellation-bluetooth-headphones-thread-quick-guide-comparison-and-discussion
 
Post like that is a great reference for those considering the Symphony 1s. Can then link to it in the table.
 
Feel free to add your one word assessment for ANC, Portability and Comfort for the table too.
 
Mine have just shipped!
 
I forget, so the Def techs also have annoying multi function buttons - one button used for play/pause, skip back and forward?
They seem to have actually got it right for the GC20. It's really not hard to have one play/pause button and buttons for skip back and forward.
Think the GC20 uses a rocker which is a neat solution. The momentum Wireless uses a rocker but the rocking was for volume not skipping tracks :|
 
I imagine that'll be the weakness of these, ergonomics. They're an American company and it's their first pair of headphones - which also have lots of functions. The Japanese, and likes of Sony and Denon have a lot of experience with consumer tech and getting ergonomics down pat I think.
 
And the European companies go for the high end materials but perhaps fall short on ergonomics too; like the Momentum Wireless (real leather, memory foam, steel, fibre glass, leather case) and Parot Zik (metal and leather).
 
Jul 6, 2015 at 6:16 AM Post #66 of 121

n00b2

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 14, 2013
Posts
510
Likes
55
@NeoteriX Good update. How did you find the size of the Symphony 1 compared to the Samsung Level Over, both in terms of overall size and ear cup size? The Symphony 1's are pretty damn big themeselves (though very light) but you don't seem to have an issue with them. Seems hard to imagine the Level Over could be much bigger than it!
 
@Shinoke The Symphony 1 has 6 buttons. 1 for power, 1 for ANC, 1 for BT and on the other side of the usb port it has separate volume up/down buttons and a multi function play/pause/rewind/ff/skip/repeat button that works exactly the same was as the Momentum Wireless multi function button. I found it was more responsive than the Momentum Wireless but yes a rocker like the GC20 would be much more practical than pressing the button 3 times to repeat song only to have it skip forward as it only registered 2 presses.
mad.gif

 
Jul 6, 2015 at 7:01 AM Post #67 of 121

Shinoke

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 2, 2015
Posts
126
Likes
22
@n00b2
 
Been a while since I used the Level Overs (returned them some months ago), and obviously don't have the Symphony 1's yet, but I think the level overs are slightly taller inside.
The cushion is also not as deep, thinner, and chamfered (basically the opposite of the Momentum Wireless earpads).
They're basically the most practical earpads I can think of in terms of comfort.
 
My ears are 3 x 7cm and they fit in comfortably without touching the sides. I could just put them on with no adjustment required. Only thing is they got a bit hot after a while maybe.
 
Don't think they're as wide as the Def Tech earpads - a definite oblong shape for the level overs.
 
I should have measured them inside but they must be around 7cm in length I think. They do angle though, and I angled them, but didn't need to.
 
So when I had those and the Momentum Wireless I thought the momentum wireless were just the fashion/portable headphones so that's why they weren't practical with the earpads, and thought other over ears would be like the Level Overs. Seems like they're more the exception than the norm though, with many over ears not suitable for large ears.
 
Oh and yeah the level overs are big, bulky, and unlike the def techs they don't fold - and weigh a fair bit more, so that's probably it. They don't have metal hangers but big molded plastic stuck on to the cups, so they really do take up some space. Really nice padding in the headband though - thick and soft. They really went for the big and soft enveloping approach. Complete opposite of the Momentum Wireless. I think the Def Techs are somewhere between the two in terms of comfort, weight, and the approach.
 
Regarding buttons, and no dimples or anything right? Just plain very easy to press buttons? Yeah. Oh well. Ergonomics won't be as good as the Japanese headphones that have been developed and refined for ages. Wonder what the Sony ergonomics are like, probably good too.
 
Jul 6, 2015 at 7:11 AM Post #68 of 121

n00b2

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 14, 2013
Posts
510
Likes
55
  Regarding buttons, and no dimples or anything right? Just plain very easy to press buttons? Yeah. Oh well. Ergonomics won't be as good as the Japanese headphones that have been developed and refined for ages. Wonder what the Sony ergonomics are like, probably good too.

 
The multi function button has 1 dimple to distinguish it from the volume buttons. The BT, ANC, power buttons have a sign on the button but not you can't tell which one is which straight away while wearing the headphones. At first I had to feel all 3 buttons on either side to recognise the order and tell which was the button I was after. Was forever pressing the power button and turning it off when I wanted to disble ANC. Got used to it after a while though and don't really press the wrong one anymore.
 
Jul 29, 2015 at 5:13 AM Post #69 of 121

splintermgs

New Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 10, 2014
Posts
6
Likes
10
@NeoteriX I bought a pair last week but did not manage to get the USB driver to install on Windows7 laptop (auto install when plugged in but failed). Just curious how you managed to connect using USB to computer for listening via it's DAC/Amp.


 


Could not find any links to download usb driver on their website. Have sent support request but still no replies yet, rather disappointed.


 


Any help to get this working will be much appreciated.
 
Jul 29, 2015 at 8:49 AM Post #70 of 121

n00b2

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 14, 2013
Posts
510
Likes
55
  @NeoteriX I bought a pair last week but did not manage to get the USB driver to install on Windows7 laptop (auto install when plugged in but failed). Just curious how you managed to connect using USB to computer for listening via it's DAC/Amp.
   
  Could not find any links to download usb driver on their website. Have sent support request but still no replies yet, rather disappointed.
   
  Any help to get this working will be much appreciated.

 
First thing I can say to fix this is try another usb port. If that doesn't work go into Device Manager > Sound Video and Game Controllers and uninstall the Symphony 1 drivers. Need to have the headphones connected for the driver to show up. Then try again. The way I got it to work was by connecting the headphones to the computer powered off then turning them on a few secs laterand waiting for the driver to install. Connecting the headphones first time with them already turned on failed to install driver every time.
 
If that fails call Definitive Technology customer service. Every time I have called them they have been really helpful and fixed things instantly. You could just have a bad headphone that won't connect via USB. Another guy on here I think had one and Def Tech replaced it.
 
Jul 29, 2015 at 11:16 AM Post #71 of 121

orion23rigel

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 9, 2015
Posts
113
Likes
28
   
Another guy on here I think had one and Def Tech replaced it.

 
That was me. I ended up just returning them because they were still within the return window and the headband was slightly too uncomfortable for me, but Definitive Technology did offer to replace them. My experience with their support team was great, even though they weren't able to solve the problem. I've considered buying them again and trying to find a fix for the headband/size issues.
 
Jul 29, 2015 at 11:49 AM Post #72 of 121

n00b2

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 14, 2013
Posts
510
Likes
55
   
That was me. I ended up just returning them because they were still within the return window and the headband was slightly too uncomfortable for me, but Definitive Technology did offer to replace them. My experience with their support team was great, even though they weren't able to solve the problem. I've considered buying them again and trying to find a fix for the headband/size issues.

 
Did you see what I did to fix my issues? If your problem was the headband lacking padding then getting one of these and stuffing foam inside them should fix the issue. That's what I did and I don't even notice the headband anymore. If your issue was the headband was too small then I'm not sure if this trick will fix it but it does seem like the headband has somehow loosened up and fits more comfortably now after using it for a while then when I first got it.
 
Jul 29, 2015 at 12:52 PM Post #73 of 121

orion23rigel

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 9, 2015
Posts
113
Likes
28
   
Did you see what I did to fix my issues? If your problem was the headband lacking padding then getting one of these and stuffing foam inside them should fix the issue. That's what I did and I don't even notice the headband anymore. If your issue was the headband was too small then I'm not sure if this trick will fix it but it does seem like the headband has somehow loosened up and fits more comfortably now after using it for a while then when I first got it.

 
Yeah, my issue was that it was ever so slightly too small, which caused the headband to press a bit too hard against the top of my head (no hair for cushioning). It was only really uncomfortable after a few hours, but I typically listen to music all day while working, so that's problematic for me.
 
Jul 29, 2015 at 1:57 PM Post #74 of 121

NeoteriX

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 23, 2005
Posts
219
Likes
12
  @NeoteriX I bought a pair last week but did not manage to get the USB driver to install on Windows7 laptop (auto install when plugged in but failed). Just curious how you managed to connect using USB to computer for listening via it's DAC/Amp.
  Could not find any links to download usb driver on their website. Have sent support request but still no replies yet, rather disappointed.
 
Any help to get this working will be much appreciated.

 
My guess would be that there are no drivers to download here; in other words, it uses the standard Windows USB DAC drivers (like all my other standalone USB DACs do). It sounds like there is an initialization issue; you may need to try a different cable, restarting the computer if it somehow crapped out initially and is stuck that way, or maybe to uninstall the partially installed driver. But yeah, either way, this doesn't involve you downloading a specific driver.
 
Jul 29, 2015 at 9:51 PM Post #75 of 121

n00b2

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 14, 2013
Posts
510
Likes
55
   
Yeah, my issue was that it was ever so slightly too small, which caused the headband to press a bit too hard against the top of my head (no hair for cushioning). It was only really uncomfortable after a few hours, but I typically listen to music all day while working, so that's problematic for me.

 
Give it a go again and add more padding to the headband like I did. It will definitely fix the feeling of the headband pushing down on your head, provided you can get it around your head in the first place once the extra padding is on there. I personally didn't find it any harder to put on after adding a bit of padding, but too much made it impossible to get it on.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top