Headphone Results With The Pono (or other DAPs)
post-11338714
Thread Starter
Post #1 of 28

Koukol

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
1,213
Reaction score
84
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Posts
1,213
Likes
84
I thought I'd start a new thread so we can gather results from all the Headphones we've tried with the Pono  (good or bad) and any fixes that took them from bad to great.
 
The other day I got the 650's and gave them a spin on my Marantz CD Player connected to my Little Dot MKIII tube Amp.
I listened to my favorite Rock album (16 bit/44) and loved the results.
The music was perfectly balanced...great bass and crisp clear highs where I can clearly hear the ride symbols which I love.
As a Musician I love discovering the true identity of an instrument (especially between guitars and keyboards) and this setup did that.
Before I got the 650's I was already thinking of putting a balanced cable on them for the Pono but now I'm rethinking that.
 
With the Pono last night was a bit like Goldilocks as I had three headphones to try (my fourth Grados are lost in the closet somewhere)
I uploaded the Album to my Pono through PonoWorld (I'm not sure if that's as good as EAC)
 
I first tried my new 650's and was excited because they are my best HPs.
What a let down...the bass was over-powering everything and it was missing the highs (a symbol could not be heard)
I should point out that this is with the stock cable.
I had the volume at 100% and still the music didn't engulf me like a good match does.
 
So I moved onto my AKG 601's...
Again, the volume needed to be at 100% and anything less lost details dramatically.
Still at 100% the music didn't engulf me but worse these headphones lacked bass and their notorious upper-mid bump made some guitars shrill.
 
Finally I tried my Sony MDR900's and while they're not the type of headphones that gives you the chills it was the best balanced of the the three.
The volume only needed to be at 50% and yet the bass and the high end were there and engulfed me.
These headphones were clearly made for DAPs.
 
I can't wait to see what HPs Pono will promote for their Player.
 
I'm hoping other Headfiers will post their results here so it doesn't get lost in the 130+ pages of the other thread.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11340217
Post #2 of 28

flatmap

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Messages
843
Reaction score
38
Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Posts
843
Likes
38
My favorite combo is with the Sennheiser HD 650s with balanced cable operation.  
I've had these headphones for years and typically drive them via a Bottlehead
Crack amp from vinyl source.  I like that combination, for sure, but I get a more
effortless sound from the Pono Player and still gets the rich tonality that these
headphones can produce.
 
I do like them also run single ended from the Pono, and it seems like I don't
have the overemphasized bass or the too-quiet volume that you've got with yours.
I've never gone above 3/4 volume in my listening single ended or balanced.
Not sure what the difference is... but maybe every listener is different.  :)
 
I do use other headphones: Etymotic hf5 is fine, but of course not as rich
as the Sennheisers.  I also get a remarkably clear sound (what you'd expect)
via the AKG K-702s.  But the Senns are at the top of my list.  :)
 
Mostly classical music listening for me.  
 
     Share This Post       
post-11340294
Post #3 of 28

Koukol

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
1,213
Reaction score
84
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Posts
1,213
Likes
84
Can you describe the difference between the balanced and original cable with the 650's, FM?
 
I'm hoping they got more responsive (louder) and a lot brighter.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11340607
Post #4 of 28

Ham Sandwich

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
May 22, 2006
Messages
2,674
Reaction score
164
Joined
May 22, 2006
Posts
2,674
Likes
164
The PonoPlayer can drive the LCD-2 in balanced mode.  Plenty of volume when driven balanced.  The combination sounds very very good.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11340639
Post #5 of 28

crixnet

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 12, 2015
Messages
233
Reaction score
95
Joined
Feb 12, 2015
Posts
233
Likes
95
I pair my Pono with a Philips X2 Fidelio with a Litz silver cable from Headphone Lounge.

The Pono and X2 are a sweet match. Great clarity, response and balance.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11344292
Post #6 of 28

doctorjazz

There is no Dana, there is only ZOTL!
Reviewer for The Headphone List
Joined
Dec 27, 2010
Messages
8,926
Reaction score
1,718
Joined
Dec 27, 2010
Posts
8,926
Likes
1,718
Have a Pono, have the 650 and the Q701, though, to be honest, haven't tried them directly through the Pono (have other toys I'm using more lately). I tend to use the 650 with an external amp, usually a Ray Samuels HR-2. They can be driven directly from a dap, but I find they do want more power/control/finesse to get them to perform as I expect them to. When I first got them and didn't use the external amp, I was very disappointed in them, the often mentioned "Sennheiser Veil" was bothering me, and I couldn't see what the fuss (and expense) was about. But, these scale up very nicely, and sound better the better the signal you feed is. I don't know if the Pono has what it takes to drive it on its own, as I said, I'll generally go straight to the line out/external amp for most more difficult to drive headphones. I'm at work right now, but, if I get a chance over the weekend, I'll try them direct, curious how the Pono does.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11344524
Post #7 of 28

Koukol

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
1,213
Reaction score
84
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Posts
1,213
Likes
84
As I just wrote in the 650 thread the 650's will play with the Pono but unlike my first experience with the cans (with a Little Dot MKIII Tube Amp where they sparkled and revealed music with my favorite Album for the last 8 years) the sound was darker to the point of having a hard time picking out instruments.
If I didn't know better I would have thought the 650's were just "good" instead of great judging with the Pono.
 
Also, the Pono had to have the volume at 100% because anything less lost more detail and even then the music didn't engulf me.
I'm definitely going to get a Y connector and use the Pono as a source for my LD MKIII.
 
I can only imagine how better the phones would get with a better Amp.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11344581
Post #8 of 28

tomb

Member of the Trade: Beezar.com
Joined
Mar 1, 2006
Messages
10,408
Reaction score
676
Joined
Mar 1, 2006
Posts
10,408
Likes
676
I listened to a Pono recently with - don't laugh - KSC-75's and the combination sounded wonderful.  They definitely have something going with the Pono.  I'm not quite sure about the hi-rez purchasing schemes, etc., but the player is a definite win.
 
No offense, but I am always amazed when so many try what should be desktop-based headphones with a portable player - no matter how good it's supposed to be.  It's still a mismatch.  There are simply physical limits with what can be accomplished with a portable player, phone, etc.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11346687
Post #9 of 28

Sefelt103

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 24, 2012
Messages
582
Reaction score
118
Location
Scotland
Joined
Apr 24, 2012
Location
Scotland
Posts
582
Likes
118
No offense, but I am always amazed when so many try what should be desktop-based headphones with a portable player - no matter how good it's supposed to be.  It's still a mismatch.  There are simply physical limits with what can be accomplished with a portable player, phone, etc.

You make a valid point. I have been using Sennheiser (HD555/595/580) over the ear headphones for years now with portable players. Desktop solutions seem rather inelegant to me. Use my desktop computer with its noisy HDD and fans plugged in to a DAC and into a headphone amplifier ? A computer or laptop are by their nature multifunctional devices, I want something dedicated to music. Portable players solve these issues. They are dedicated to music, they are a transport/DAC and amplifier if required. Whenever I look at rack servers they all have way too much extra functionality: power amplifiers for driving speakers, streaming functions, lots of input/output connectors, CD/DVD drives incorporated etc. Also they often have no headphone socket or poor headphone output as an afterthought. These devices also tend to be very expensive costing £800-£1K and over. High end CD players often don't play well with headphone amplifiers and are restricted to playing single disks at at time. These are some of the reasons people use high grade portable players with full size headphones. Does anyone produce a reasonably priced mains powered rack that is a transport with 128GB internal storage, dual mono circuit boards with high grade DACs from Cirus/Wolfson feeding a superbly implimented quality headphone amplifier, with line/balanced outputs ? I've never seen such a device for sale.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11348988
Post #10 of 28

flatmap

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Messages
843
Reaction score
38
Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Posts
843
Likes
38
  Can you describe the difference between the balanced and original cable with the 650's, FM?
 
I'm hoping they got more responsive (louder) and a lot brighter.
I'm not so great with descriptions.
 
But balanced mode seems to give more power to the notes throughout the gamut.
So louder, but also more even handed top to bottom.  Also the rendering of musical passages is more precise (?)
or maybe I should say more exacting(?).   I find this increased "precision" most noticeable.   If a specific recording
is not so great to begin with... then single ended might be the better way to avoid highlighting its flaws. :)
 
     Share This Post       
post-11356446
Post #11 of 28

jjgr

New Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 14, 2015
Messages
16
Reaction score
12
Joined
Feb 14, 2015
Posts
16
Likes
12
I pair my Pono with Creative Aurvana Live! cans that i modded (direct solder connection) to a pair of balanced Surf cable (silver-plated copper) wires.

I'm really liking the sound - much better mids/bass and overall more pleasing sound (and i do like a lot of detail) than i was getting with my AKG K701s.
 
Very happy.  
 
     Share This Post       
post-11528238
Post #12 of 28

rickhawk22

Head-Fier
Joined
May 16, 2014
Messages
91
Reaction score
37
Joined
May 16, 2014
Posts
91
Likes
37
The Pono paired with the NAD Viso HP 50's are a great sounding pair!  Plenty of headroom available! Highly recommended for the Pono.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11528967
Post #13 of 28

BRCMRGN

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 30, 2009
Messages
778
Reaction score
98
Joined
Dec 30, 2009
Posts
778
Likes
98
I have a few headphones with Pono (& Sony) balanced cabling. I also have 3.5mmTRRS to Pono and XLR-4 to Pono balanced adapters. Almost of my headphones and most of my better IEMS have balanced cabling. Every headphone that I have tried balanced with the Pono has head plenty of headroom - even the HD800 was only up to 60% volume.when my ears started to bleed. So far I have tried: HD800, HD700, HD650, HD600, Z7, LCD-X, LCD2.2, Oppo PM-3, Alpha Dog. 
 
I haven't tried the HE500 or HE400 yet.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11529533
Post #14 of 28

flatmap

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Messages
843
Reaction score
38
Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Posts
843
Likes
38
  I pair my Pono with Creative Aurvana Live! cans that i modded (direct solder connection) to a pair of balanced Surf cable (silver-plated copper) wires.

I'm really liking the sound - much better mids/bass and overall more pleasing sound (and i do like a lot of detail) than i was getting with my AKG K701s.
 
Very happy.  

When I paired the pono with my AKG K-702 -- while the sound was okay I guess -- I found I really needed additional amplification to make them sing
the way I'm used to.  It's too bad I can't run the K-702s in balanced mode; that might be just right. 
 
     Share This Post       
post-11529588
Post #15 of 28

jjgr

New Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 14, 2015
Messages
16
Reaction score
12
Joined
Feb 14, 2015
Posts
16
Likes
12
Hi flatmap - you might want to try a mod on your 702s.  That was my original intent when i started out here.  I figured the 701s in balanced mode would be just the ticket.  Here are some links i found helpful:
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/690456/tutorial-cable-change-re-cable-k701-headphones
and
https://www.flickr.com/photos/charlesny/with/3747571772/
 
My attempted mod would have came out great on the 701s (i think!), if only: (1) i hadn't tried to do the mod late at night when i was already tired, (2) I didn't get lazy and not disassemble the driver housing one step further to get a good clear view of what i was soldering, or (3) i hadn't gotten careless with my solder iron and overheated the pin that connects the cable to the driver.  Most of the mod was easy, and went well - i did a great job on the second driver (ha!).  AKG quoted me $49 for a replacement driver.  I balked, and went in a different direction - and am still happy with the CAL!s.  Good luck! 
 
     Share This Post       

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top