Glassmonkey's reviews: past, present, future

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    Experiencing new headphones is one of the joys of this hobby. I know whenever I'm looking for a new headphone, reviews provide a great service to me. They keep me from wasting money on headphones I won't like and help me narrow the field down. For many of us, we won't get to hear a headphone before we buy it. We might be taking a risk, and hoping that if it doesn't work out that we can return the headphone or resell it for not too much loss. I hope these reviews are of use to you and that I have provided good information and some entertainment.
     
    Every image in the table below links to a review, if you are more visually inclined feel free to click away.
     
    If you'd like to check out my new blog, audioprimate.blog, please do. I'm joined there by a couple other prominent UK reviewers. Feel free to check the intro post there.
     
     
    This is the place where you can link to all my reviews and find out what is on the docket in the future.
     
    If you are a company who wishes to contact me for a review, please send me a private message.
     
    Below is an about me that may help you identify whether we may have similar tastes and hearing. People have widely varying hearing and widely varying tastes, so it is worth identifying reviewers that are more like yourself.
     

    About Me:

    Like most sensible people I started falling in love with music as a child. My first portable audio device was a Sony Walkman (the cassette kind) that I got when I was 10 years old (24 years ago).  I listened with the cheap Sony on ears that came with the Walkman until I bought a Koss CD boombox and started listening to UAF College Radio and 103.9 (alternative rock at the time) in Fairbanks, Alaska. I once listened to Louie, Louie for 3 days straight, and I’m not insane—did you know there is a Spanish gospel version of Louie, Louie?
     
    Like political tastes and tastes in friends, my musical tastes evolved through association and then rebellion and experimentation. From the songs of my father (The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, ZZ Top), to the songs of my peers (Dr. Dre, Green Day, Nirvana, Weezer), my tastes evolved, expanded and exploded into the polyglot love that is my current musical tapestry. Like a Hieronymous Bosch mural, my tastes can be weird and wonderful: dreamy Japanese garble pop, 8 bit chiptune landscapes percolated with meows, queer punk, Scandinavian black metal; or they can be more main-stream with minglings of Latin guitar, Miles Davis trumpet, and banks of strings and percussion in the Mariinsky Orchestra. Mostly my audio drink of choice is a rich stout pint of heady classic rock and indie/alternative from my musical infancy and identity formation (the 90s). Come as you are, indeed. Beyond the weird, the wonderful, the interesting and accepted, I’m a big fan of intelligent hip-hop artists like Macklemore, Metermaids, Kendrick Lamar, Sage Francis and Aesop Rock. I even dabble in some country from time to time, with First Aid Kit and the man in black making cameos in my canals.
     
    My sonic preferences tend towards a balanced or neutral sound, though I’ll admit to liking a little boosted bass or treble from time to time. If I have to choose between warm and bright, I’ll choose bright almost every time. A few screechy high notes are preferable to me than a foggy unfocused bass guitar. As my tastes are eclectic, and a day of listening can involve frequent shifts in my sonic scenery, I don’t generally want headphones that try to paint my horizons in their own hues. I need headphones that get out of the way, or provide benign or beneficial modifications. I desire graceful lifts like an ice-dancing pairs’ carved arc, not like a man mountain deadlift.
     
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    Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S. compete at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics (Image Baltimore Sun)Derek Boyer being a strong strong man (Image The Courier Mail)

     
    My last hearing test with an audiologist was a long time ago and under strange circumstances. However, I have heard tones all the way down to 10hz and all the way up to 23Khz using headphones in my collection. Either my headphones tend to have a hole in frequency at 18kHz or my hearing does, because I never seem to hear it. I’m sensitive to peaky treble, and treble fatigue, even when I can’t hear the what might be causing it. I do enjoy smooth extended treble. I like deep tight bass and impactful drums, and dislike upper mid-bass emphasis.  I like my vocals crisp, so stay away from Josh Tillman’s voice you nasty upper mid-bass hump.  I like air in the stage, not just cues to distance and height, but the feeling of air moving around and through instruments. Soundstage shouldn’t be just about hearing, I need to feel it. I listen at volume levels that others consider loud (78 to 82 dB), but I just set it to where the dynamics peak. I’m not here to shatter my eardrums. I like them just how they are.
     
    I generally don’t believe in using EQ, not even for inexpensive headphones, especially in reviews. I won’t claim that I haven’t done it, but I generally try to avoid it.
     
    I believe that burn-in can make a difference, but I also acknowledge that there isn’t any measurement that appears to give conclusive proof of burn-in. I trust my ears, fully acknowledging that my brain may fill in expected details, may colour my interpretation, or may be subject to its own settling period with a headphone. In my experience, burn-in effects are not as large as proponents of burn-in tend to advertise. I’ve also noted that using white/pink/brown noise, I almost never observe changes beyond 24 hours of burn in. When people tell you that you shouldn’t listen to your headphones until they have 200 hours on them, I think these people need to be ignored. No matter what, you should be listening to your headphones at different stages, right out of the box and at intervals. How can someone observe a difference without baseline observations and interim observations to note change trajectories?
     
    I’m a firm believer that cables can make a difference, but I don’t think they always do. When I tried out Toxic Cables line, none of them had labels and the cheapest looking one was the one I liked the best. I was excited that I wouldn’t have to spend much to improve my sound. It turned out that the cheapest looking one was the Silver/Gold top of the line cable. I’ve heard the difference that USB cables can make, from upgrading from the crappy cable that came with my Geek Out 1000 to a Supra USB, and then again when upgrading to the LH Labs Lightspeed 2G with the iUSB3.0. When I picked up a cheap shielded power lead from Mains Cables R Us to replace my standard kettle lead on my integrated amplifier, I heard more crunchy and clearer treble. I switched the leads with my wife blinded and she heard the same difference. I didn’t tell her what I heard and let her describe it herself. But cables don’t always make a difference. When I switched from my standard HD650 cable to a custom balanced cable (Custom Cans UK, very affordable), the sound stayed exactly the same when hooked up via a top tier (custom made by @dill3000 silver/gold Neotech wire) 4-pin XLR to 6.3mm converter. Balanced mode made a difference in clarity and blackness of background—this indicates that the amp was the deciding influence, not the cable. Your mileage may vary and you may not hear a difference, but I have.
     
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  2. glassmonkey
    Finished Reviews
    ProductPrice Paid or Market PriceRating (stars)Product classReview NotorietyHow acquiredSponsor
    Sennheiser HD6001$2004Full Size Open Headphone PurchaseNone
    Feliks Audio Elise2$6504.5Tube Desktop Headphone Amplifier and PreampFirst ever audio review.PrizeUK Meet Cambridge 2015
    iFi Micro iUSB3.02$3995Power Supply UpgradeLots of views, few commentsPrizeiFi HeadFi contest
    LH Labs Verb1$501.5Universal IEMOnly review of this product.PurchaseNone
    Lotoo Paw 50002$2994DAPFirst ever tour review. Shiny.TourHiFi Headphones
    Havit I82$303Bluetooth IEMFirst bluetooth reviewSampleHavit
    Havit HV-H911BT2$303Bluetooth Headphone SampleHavit
    Ausdom M052$604Bluetooth Headphone SampleAusdom
    RHA ma7502$1004.5Universal IEMDouble review with s500iPurchaseNone
    RHA s500i2$504.5Universal IEMDouble review with ma750.SampleRHA
    iFi iPurifier22$1004Power Supply Upgrade LoaniFi
    iFi Micro iDAC22$2994Portable DAC/Amp LoaniFi
    Meze Headphones 99 Classics2$2994Full Size Closed Headphone TourMeze Headphones
    oBravo ERIB-2a2$8005Universal IEMFirst front page reviewTourCustom Cable
    Airist Audio Heron 52$10005Solid State Desktop Headphone AmplifierFirst review item immediately purchasedTour/ PurchaseAirist Audio
    Fidue A652$654.5Universal IEMSecond front page reviewTourHiFi Headphones
    oBravo EAMT-3w2$27003.5Universal IEMMost expensive item reviewedLoanCustom Cable
    Audio-Opus Opus #12$6004.5DAPThird front page reviewTourHiFi Headphones
    MEE Audio Pinnacle P12$2005Universal IEMPossibly my #1 headphone of 2016TourHiFi Headphones
    Syllable D900S2$702Bluetooth IEM SampleGearbest
    Shozy Zero2$604.5Universal IEM SampleShozy
    Questyle CMA600i2$12005DAC/Headphone Amp/Pre-ampFourth frontpage reviewLoanHiFi Headphones
    Fidue Sirius A912$9504Universal IEM LoanHiFi Headphones
    1MORE EO3232$694Universal IEM Sample1MORE UK
    Arcam rHead2$6004.5Semi-portable Headphone Amp LoanArcam UK
    1MORE MK8012$804.5Supra-aural headphone Sample1MORE UK
    HiFiMAN MegaMini2$2493Super portable DAP LoanHiFiMAN
    Vibro Labs Maya2$6995Universal IEMFront page #5.TourVibro Labs
    WyWires Red2$2994.5Balanced headphone cableFirst cable review.SampleWyWires
    HiFiMAN SuperMini2$3994Super portable DAP SampleHiFiMAN
    1MORE E1001 Triple Driver2$995Universal IEMFront page #6Sample1MORE UK
    1MORE iBFree2$594.5Bluetooth IEM Sample1MORE UK
    iFi Micro iDSD Black Label2$5495Portable DAC/AmpFront page #7TouriFi
    1MORE MK8022$1494.5Bluetooth headphone Sample1MORE UK
    Syllable D700-20172$204Bluetooth IEM SampleJomas Travel
    Cayin i52$4994.5Android DAP TourCayin
    Aune M1S2$2495DAP SamplePenon Audio
    Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered2$9994.5Custom IEMFront page #8SampleUltimate Ears
    iFi Micro iCAN SE2$2994Portable Headphone Amplifier LoaniFi
    Noble Kaiser Encore2$18505Universal IEM LoanNoble Audio
    Effect Audio Arthur2$37994.5Universal IEM TourEffect Audio
    Lear BTC-012$654Bluetooth IEM Cable SampleLear
    FiiO X5 3rd Gen$3994.25DAPTourFiiO
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2017
    MezeTeam likes this.
  3. glassmonkey
    Reviews in progress
    ProductPrice Paid or Market PriceRating (stars)Product classHow acquiredSponsor
    Unique Melody Miracle v22$1049 Universal IEMLoanUnique Melody
    RHA CL12£349 Universal IEMSampleRHA Audio
    RHA CL7502£99 Universal IEMSampleRHA Audio
    Effect Audio Ares II+2$220 IEM CableSampleEffect Audio
    1Purchase price, 2indicative market price

     
    MezeTeam likes this.
  4. glassmonkey
    Reviews in the future
    ProductPrice Paid or Market PriceRating (stars)Product classHow acquiredSponsor
    Meze 12 Classics2$79 Universal IEMSampleMeze Headphones
    Meze 11 Neo Iridium2$59 Universal IEMSampleMeze Headphones
    LH Labs GO2A2$299 Portable DAC/AmpDiscounted PurchaseNone
    LH Labs Vibrato2$99 Universal IEMDiscounted PurchaseNone
    Echobox Explorer1$299 DAPDiscounted PurchaseNone
    Cyberdrive Seiun Player Pro X1$120 DAPDiscounted PurchaseNone
    1Purchase price, 2indicative market price

     
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