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In search of end-game*

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by Audioscope, Aug 1, 2018.
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  1. Audioscope
    I've really had my eye on the 1Z for a long time, but could never justify its price over the 1A or even ZX300. Some people claim that they cannot hear any appreciable differences from the ZX300 to the 1A or 1Z, which perhaps speaks to the point of diminishing returns.

    Where I live here, it's difficult to find something like the 1Z to audition. However, I have the decade-old Sony X1060 which I still love the sound signature of. Very intimate and organic sounding without any fatigue after long listening sessions. I could imagine that the 1Z is likely a far more articulate iteration of the same, with the same romantic and liquid sound signature. Knowing Sony, the price for the 1Z / 1A will plummet when they release the next best thing in a year.

    My other thought is that most high end IEMs have a reference/neutral sound signature, with varying degress of musicality, which perhaps is why they match up better to the "warmer" sounding 1Z based on what I read. Still, does that mean that the 1A will be a poor match for my current AKG K3003? I plan to use IEMs only for the portable setup.

    Also, I listened to the IFI micro iDSD black label, and enjoyed the sound signature, but found zero practical use cases for the DAP/Source + DAC/AMP stack system for portable use. Will the 1A or 1Z sound better and retain a similar sound signature? I, too, would prefer the 1A if it offers me a warm enough sound signature to pair with my IEMs.

    Regarding a desktop setup - I was able to audition the Focal Clear this past week. They are neutral, with a slight bit of musicality added, and no doubt very articulate and technically great headphones. However, they annoy me at the same time because they are neither here nor there with their sound signature. No arguments about their detail retrieval or balanced sound though.

    The thing is, I have too many separate headphones and amp/dac setups in my collection that it might be best to consolidate them into one or two headphone systems that are far better.

    Stax might be the next logical step. I need to find a place to audition them first though.
  2. youurayy
    For me, casual listening during desktop (sofa) work (and movies!!!): Utopia + Audio-gd NFB11.38.

    Mobile (desktop really): oBravo EAMT-1 c + Chord Hugo 2.

    Mobile (plane travel): I'd take my Sony MDR-1000X or their successor WH-1000xM2. (I really prefer the discontinued MDR-1000X.)

    If I had to do it all again and on a lean, I'd just go with the oBravo EAMT-1 c, driven by my Galaxy S9 or S9+. (If even leaner, I'd also explore the Tesla-driven Xelento's (wired, not wireless, I guess), I've read raving reviews on them and their predecessors.)

    The oBravo EAMT-1 c IEM is easy to drive, easy to listen to, transparent, sounds more like an open-back headphone (doesn't have so punchy & tightly controlled, but neither so tiring bass as Utopia), doesn't melt down when pushed to high volumes. It's really hard to judge, due to the transparency, but you understand how good it is if you swap it for another IEMs in A/B testing, bc they all sound like untuned garbage (I haven't heard the Vega/Atlas yet. But generally, the Balanced Armature offerings don't cut it for me, as in one-trick-pony or perhaps one-man-band/circus way. Although BA's can satisfy on low volume levels.)

    But yeah, I think these days a good IEM and a smartphone can be the end-game, satisfaction-wise. (Wouldn't trade my Utopias at no price though:))

    **my 2 cents; always learning**
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
  3. QueueCumber
    They both sound great.
  4. ahmedie
    depend on person I think there is if you are looking for specific tone / signal, if you are looking for the best without any specific tone in mind then it is endless
  5. richard51
    Under 1000 dollars all included, all bought used except the dac paid 24 dollars at EBAy, my system is end game for many reasons... It is not the best in the world, it is the absolute best at this price with his 3-d natural sound... The description is at the bottom of this post... All my audio system is treated by myself against mechanical vibrations,electro magnetic interference and isolated... But after 7 years here I know for sure that people want to pay dollars for a ready made solution...I smile to any idea about upgrade....My last upgrade is a 100 dollars used headphone that sound better in my system than my 2 Stax headphones...:ksc75smile:
  6. astrostar59
    IMO and how I found my Stax 009 and amps, you HAVE to forget the Stax amps for driving either the 007 or 009. Basically they are off the mark. To get the best out of those HPs you need a DIY KG amp or Head-amps BHSE. Plus a great DAC.
    HoloSpice likes this.
  7. Rhamnetin
    Agreed. If you don't do the above then you end up with something in the same league as a top tier dynamic or planar magnetic setup; more transparent still, but in the same league nonetheless unless you're a basshead in which case they will lose. And they won't have an amazing sound stage.

    Use a top tier system however and then nothing can match them in transparency, detail retrieval (SR-009), bass and mids and treble quality.
    HoloSpice likes this.
  8. astrostar59
    Agreed, but I find my LCD4 is actually ahead of my 009 in the mids, and the bass, well, no contest sorry. The 009 is king of the detail and speed, plankton war, but I found in the end it was not realistic and I got fed up with it. Personal taste come into this. And I had my 009 and Carbon for 2 years until the enthusiasm for it wained....
  9. SeaWo|f
    If it is an option DIY a KG amp for the 007mk2.9 or 009S. It will save you a lot of money. If time/ability is an issue then buy a BHSE or Carbon to go with said headphones.
    HoloSpice likes this.
  10. Savage4
    I think you should just settle with a $50 iem. From my experience any headphone system below $20000 has at least one of these problems: recessed highs, mids, no bass, too much bass, too bright, too dark. I have owned LCD-X(too bright), utopia(no bass), all MrSpeakers(no bass or recessed highs), He1000v2(too laid back and recessed mids), Cascade(too much bass), HD800S( garbage), Grado GH2(pretty nice actually but poor build quality), LCD-2C( recessed highs with high frequency hump), Diana(very good but a bit thin) and 1266 phi(best I heard so far). My system setup: ps audio p3–n100H—Dave—Lau. If you go beyond $20000, any cable upgrade can make huge differences. Then you would end like spending $50000 on cables alone. So if I could start over I would have had peace with my Apple EarPods.
  11. youurayy
    see for me Utopia is a bass monster on multiple amps. ymmv
  12. astrostar59
    Eeh? Totally disagree, sorry, Nonsense in fact. Then you would end like spending $50000 on cables alone. More nonsense.
    My advice to OP use your ears and get a demo. If you can't get to hear the BHSE, order it anyway, Justin would probably allow you to send it back inside a period. Bet you keep it.
  13. QueueCumber
    You forgot “too little soundstage” and “too much soundstage...” lol
  14. Bones13 Contributor
    I have a home system, and an office system that I have no intentions of upgrading. (Well if I happened across an HE60...)

    Home - BHSE (Siemens NOS) + MrSpeakers Voce

    Office - Violectric HPA V281 + Focal Utopia

    I prefer the stat system overall, but the Utopia is the best dynamic headphone I have experienced.

    I tend not to worry much about the finer points of critical listening when on the move, or traveling. Custom IEMs, to your tone choice for the most clarity, closed headphones for the biggest bass. I have found convenience to be king for me though. I use bluetooth IEMs for walking and other activities where I am actually paying attention to other things. Besides they fit in my pocket when I need to talk to people.

    I use a Sony NWZX300 + JHAudio 13 IEMs when traveling (could not justify the big jump in $ for the gold Sony)

    There will always be the “next best thing”, and the “favorite of the month”. I know because I have chased many of them. Many times the “perfect” headphone is just plain impractical in some situations. After several office system changes, I decided on no tubes at my office. My stat system gives my speaker system a run for the money (and wins in the clarity race) but I have not experienced a headphone system that matches the visceral experience of a good speaker system.
  15. Rhamnetin
    No Stax lol.
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