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Fostex TH X00 vs Lawton Modded D5000 Comparative Review

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by mshenay, Dec 29, 2015.
  1. Mshenay Contributor
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    So I've had my Modded LA D5k for about a year now, an I think it's time to see how this tricked out classic, compares to a more modern take on what was a ground breaking original design!​
     
     
    OK so let's talk about PRICE 
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    My LA D5k has Australian Sheoak Cups! Both the Drivers an the Cups are dampened, with Lawton Pads an repairs to the headband assembly the Total cost of my LA D5k is at $730 right now, They need a replacement cable [simply because the stock one isn't aging well] , so in all likely hood about $850 even is what I paid for a completed LA D5k [new cups, dampen mods on cups an driver, new pads an a new cable] Granted i'm getting my cable from @PETEREK as Mark L... well I'm not really read for his Copper Queen cable imo​
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    Now my TH X00 with Alpha Pads an a lovely new balanced Cable by @PETEREK is going to run me about $550 [got my Alpha Pads USED :D] ​
     
     
    Age is also a factor here, the price for a NEW TH X00 is about $300 less than buying a modded used LA D5k, in terms of durability both will stand up well over time, though the TH X00 has a overall lower total cost of ownership. ​
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    How about Build Quality? ​
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    In terms of the quality of the wood, an overall grain pattern, I'd say the two are on par. Granted, we have two different kinds of wood feature for the cups of each headphone, though each is finished very well with a gorgeous grain.​

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    Each features a similar Headband mechanism, though the my LA D5k headband has aged over the years​

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    An a few final shot of the gimbals ​

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    So how about comfort?​
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    Thankfully both are equally comfortable, I have little to no fatigue with either one. An each has a similar sensitivity ​
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    The Pads do change the sound of them each respectively, an each headphone has the pads I feel sound best with the headphone. I'll discuss the pad changes later ​
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    Here are the Specs for each 
    TH X00
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    1. 50 mm biodynamic transducer
    2. Magnetic flux density: >1 tesla
    3. Impedance: 25 ohms
    4. Sensitivity: 94 dB/mW
    5. Maximum input: 1,800 mW
    6. Frequency response: 5–45,000 Hz
     
    AH D5K 
     
    1. 50 mm neodymium magnet
    2. Impedance: 25 ohms
    3. Sensitivity: 106 dB/mW
    4. Maximum input: 1,800 mW
    5. Frequency response: 5–45,000 Hz
     
     
     
    While the D5k measure with a Higher Sensitivity, with my modded pair I've enjoyed near identical volume levels switching from one headphone to another, this was confirmed with a Level Check as well. Due in part to the dampening on the Drivers of the LA D5k I'd imagine ​
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    Sound
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    I used a variety of music, from heavy Metal, to EDM to classical, to some of David Chesky's Jazz! ​
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    the TH X00 is a little more liquid than the LA D5k, an the Alpha Pads are an upgrade to that sound, keeping that sense of bloom in the mids while tighting up the sound as a whole, specfically, the mids are a step forward over the LA D5k an the top end is taken back. The Alpha Pads bring more SUB bass into the TH X00 sound an add a nice bump in sound stage, adding a little more width an depth. Overall the TH X00 has a more forgiving sound, with a equally extended but mild top end, a very natural mid section with a touch of bloom, deep and heavy well extended bass​
    HOW ever Lawton Pads on the TH X00 make it very thin... they don't sound good... the Lawton Pads on the TH X00 make it sound like... a very... I dunno, the eat the bass up an suck out the decay in the mids... I don't recommend Lawton Pads [unless you REALLY like a LUSH Tube Amp] Out of my Project Starlight, Running the Stock 12UA7 ECC82 tube [which I like the best out of the demo tubes I was given, this modest 12ua7 ecc82 has a very balanced sound to my ears! Just the right touch of 2nd harmonics, without sounding overly lush or slow! ] Anyways, running the stock tube the TH X00 sounds... just yuck an thin 
     
    YEA the TH X00 with lawton pads sounds THIN out of a hyribd tube amp! 
     
    the LA D5k on the other hand is hotter in the top end an is a little more V Shaped, the Lawton Pads... bring the mids a little forward on the LA D5k, specifcally vocals stand out a little more an the bass really tightens up, while there remains a nice crisp sense of energy in the highs. The overall sound of the LA D5k is a little drier and very precise, in terms of both sound layering an sound stage depth an width, with an equally deep but better textured sub bass, 
     
    Slapping Alpha Pads onto the LA D5k though gives me a darker sound over all, though with a slightly less well defined layering in the mids the Alpha Pads soften the LA D5ks some what edgy High end,  
    the Alpha Pads also detract some of the bass texture of the LA D5k
    Overall in terms of Sound quality, the LA D5k shows it self more consistent across different genres with a more even toned sound an better imaging across the board. Though not all will enjoy it's drier sound and some what picky nature with amps​
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    Amping
     
     
     the more V Shaped drier LA D5k with Lawton Pads sounds WONDERFUL with the Garage 1217 Starlight II's 12ua7 ECC82 tube, it adds just the right touch of 2nd harmonics to really make the LA D5k sing... with Metal, Jazz, Rock an some vocal tracks as well! ​
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    How ever with Classical music I prefer a solid state for the LA D5k, an the TH X00 to my ears doesn't handle classical as well as the the LA D5k, partially due to the less precise imaging and layering of the TH X00 ​
     
    Though For EDM I'll say that the Darker sound of the TH X00 is more enjoyable to my ears than the LA D5k... depending on the song.​
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    Ultimately the TH X00 proves it self to be easier to amp, sound the best in my Rig out of my Solid States. The LA D5k on the other hand sounds better when paired with my Hybrid Tube amp like the Sunrise II for more aggressive music such as heavy metal and some Dub Step , an a solid state with classical. Rock an jazz both sound equally great with either the Sunrise II or my NFB10ES2, it comes down to how the recording it self was mix/mastered really! ​
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    Song Examples 
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    I really enjoy The Zephyrtine-A Ballet Story, an with the TH X00 x Alpha I lose some of the beauty of the wood winds, and brass horns to the drums an lower stringed instruments, how ever the balance of the LA D5k works wonderfully for this classical piece! ​
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    Yea this is a toughy with Dance of the Zephyrtines... resolution an overall clarity is better with the W1000X, and the mids are breath taking! How ever the drums... lack a little "THUNDER" with the W1000X due in part to it's rolled up sub bass  
    how ever, what I lose with the drums I gain within the entire mid section an in overall resolution an clarity, that an the top end of the LA D5k is still a tad grainy [even out of the Hybrid tube] than my W1000X running balanced out of my Solid State, that an the W1000X has quicker dynamics than the LA D5k, still... with the Lawton Pads... the LA D5k starts to tread on the W1000Xs territory a little, namely stealing a little Rock an Classical thunder, then again though... the W1000X does pretty well with some Nu Jazz genres an she does great with playful EDM like Culprate too... an the W1000X is still the queen of Vocals, but the LA D5k is proving to be a king fit for my Modded Queen! 
     
    That and the W1000X has a sense of intimacy that neither the TH X00 or LA D5k can compare to, in addition to the CRAZY deep an spatially accurate sound of the W1000X... what she lacks in width she makes up for in sheer depth an imaging 
     
    So in the end... it's a very tough call, the two really make very good compliments!  I suppose if I were to make a family painting with all three of my wood backs, our dear  TH X00 would be the wonderfully fun Jester within the presence of the king an queen,  he's just as quit witted though not always as deep.. but at the end of the day while the "royals" can be a little dry an picky, the Jester is a BLAST and just plain easy going fun! 
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    With the TH X00 an Lawton pads, In particular listening to Allegaeon's Twelve-Vals for the Legions, I noticed the vocals an guitars sounded a tad dry an the kick of the Bass Drum was very thing an un inspiring... it sounded very yuky! ​
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    How ever with the LA D5k an Lawton Pads, I noticed a great sense of layering within the music, with a much tauter bass drum an better clarity within the guitar and vocal tracks​
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    Culprate -Yellow has a very playful an taut bass line, I prefer the LA D5ks presentation out of my Solid State to the TH X00​
    Where as with Shadow Child's Rustic Chip, I prefer the Darker sound of the TH X00​
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    Though, with genres like  Nu Jazz the LA D5k's overall balance an drier bass proves to be a win, most notably with Fat Jon's 624 Part 1, for this track the TH X00 powerful but slower sub bass leave far to much decay in the synth, an make the drums a little over bearing​
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    An there are the songs in which the TH X00 out of my Solid State is just as enjoyable as the LA D5k is out of my Starlight Hybrid Tube  :/ ​
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    Final Thoughts 
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    SO when it comes down to the TH X00 vs the D5k, I find the D5k to be more  balanced overall with a slight v Shape an with mods an Lawton Pads, it's a drier can overall with better imaging. An frankly out of Hybrid Tube the LA D5k and/or the Balanced NFB10ES2 the LA D5k is an easy winner​
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    so the TH X00 brings a bit of intimacy that you don't ever have with the LA D5k, where as the LA D5k brings a drier sound but a wider and more definitive sound stage. So going back to Metal, just like with EDM, there are albums an songs where I prefer the TH X00 over the LA D5k an vice versa, though with Classical an Rock the LA D5k is clearly better ​
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    I REALLY like the LA D5k with the Project Starlight! Like I prefer the output of this little $200 hybrid Tube over my Balanced Solid State with some genres, ​
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    How ever, if your willing to dip you toe into the magical waters of Modded Denon DX000K headphones, I think that pool has more potential than the TH X00​
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    though unlocking that potential could get costly, my LA D5k... is... a mess. I just recently had to get my the screws in the headband assembly tightened recently as they started to come loose with age, additionally, for my tastes I rather prefer the touch of sweetness a tube [well Hybrid Tube amp] adds to the drier LA D5k... so then there's the overall cost of finding the MAGIC tube for my tastes. Meaning to get the MOST out of my LA D5k... I have two amps :/ ​
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    So what we have is basically two headphones,​
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    one BRAND new off the line FRESH an ready to roll! With very little cash you can give it a nice upgrade an swap the cable termination out to something that fits your system​
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    The other, is older... harder to find... most likely going to have some age to it... may be need of minor repairs an major mods... but is overall the better headphone... assuming you get one with the right Wood to match your tastes in music, then you need to find the right amp as well... or just have two amps <.< ​
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    Hence forth, for the sake of sanity I highly recommend grabbing a stock TH X00 with some Alpha Pads,
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    if you have the time an cash to invest into a Modded D5k it's the better way to go... though ... it's costly... an time consuming if your not a modder your self ​
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    Though for the time an money you invest into the LA D5k you will get a better headphone... though the need for multiple mods an multiple amps in my case... may... not be cost effective ​
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    Still for what it's worth, I think the TH X00 is a great headphone! An it has a very welcome spot in my collection ^^ an it's one I'll be happy to recommend, an for you Modded D5k owners, the TH X00 will most likely be a side/downish grade, depending on how much you've modded your LA D5k ​
     
  2. oleWhiskey
    Great review. Thank you
     
  3. Mshenay Contributor
    no problemo 
     
  4. Zbell
    Great review!  I'm a little late to the party here, but I'm waiting on the TH-X00 Purplehearts to arrive next month (hopefully) and I'm prepping for their arrival.  Thinking about using Alpha pads with a partial Lawton Level 1 mod (only using the dampening on the drivers, not in the cups).  My goal is to refine the TH-X00s while keeping the wet/fun/lush signature (and also to mod with the ability to remove the mods at any time).  Any thoughts on this pairing in your experience?
     
  5. ho1ysword
    Hey man, sorry to resurrect a dead thread. I wanted to ask if you ended up installing the Lawton mod, and if so could you estimate/compare its impact to the Alpha pads?
     
    I just tried out Alpha pads on my Purplehearts and noticed a mildly improved soundstage and definitely tighter bass with less bleed into the lower mids, so I was pretty happy with that. I'm trying to learn if the Lawton dampening is similarly worth it?
     

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