Looking for ( found )"end game" headphones in 2K ± price range.
Apr 14, 2021 at 7:00 PM Post #1,306 of 1,426

FYFL

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^^^^^^ linked few V clips to previous post.




Ordered 2 more pairs of “UBER” pads just in case.
13A9D3FB-C14E-4F06-AA20-924CD514D711.jpeg
 
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Apr 15, 2021 at 12:03 PM Post #1,307 of 1,426

FYFL

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I didn’t want to crap in Audeze thread so I figure why not included in here?
What is it? Well.....
Not sure how many of you are aware of Audeze “Padgate”controversy? Lol
But Essentially, they came up with new pads for their entire lcd line of headphone. Sound quality “improves” quite noticeable in 2021 LCDX/LCDX-C version and ppl with slightly dated Audezes are pi$$ed.
Mainly bc of weird timing of this announcement and potential buyer’s remorse (if you purchased early mid-year 2020 LCDX version). Should they lament and cry about it? Yes, from Audeze PR stand point and no from new tuning perspective. I will explain it in more detail later.

How these new pads changed SQ of Audeze LCDX/C?

Due to (IMO) reduction of distance between driver and ear, they appear to address problematic nulls in FR. Potential phase issues perhaps.... (I have heard about it but, I can’t confirm it based on raw calculations)?

Padding material was also wisely replaced with “bouncy” foam. OG memory foam added unnecessary stiffness and a little extra weight. Yeah, yeah I know. How much weight can it be? Not much, but it all adds up. And, it is in Audeze best interest to strive for lowest possible wight anyway, since it’s one of the biggest concerns costumers have with their headphones.
Anyway, the point is, pads make them sound more evenly balanced and fixes most of the previous tuning issues.
And if pads are the main reason for tuning changes, don’t huff and puff from emotional high and just chill. Sure, it will cost you $80 to get new “wonder” pads but so what? Ppl swap pads all the time..... for lesser reasons I might add.
I actually have both new leather and non-leather pads. So, maybe one day, I could try to get to the bottom of it.
From my initial impressions, these new pads sure make them a little better sounding. They are also a lot more comfortable than memory foam used previously

Is it all in the pads?
There are few more changes in driver circuitry but I am not sure how much that particular change affects the sound quality. Supposedly, 2 fazors were removed. Was that decision made to reduce weight, fix phase issues or both? I have no clue.
Perhaps all of the above.
So there might be more to it than just pads, however. To folks with older LCDX/Cs I would say, try new pads and see how you like the sound of it. Worst case scenario, Audeze will modify your older versions to its current, 2021 modes of LCDX and LCDX-C headphones. Catch is that I heard conflicting reports on cost of such modification. So people reported $600 including drivers and pads. Other, less than $400.
So options are out there if you must. But I don’t think you should sell your 2020 or older LCDXs for this new two fazors less version. Lol
Yo me, it really seems that they also try to make them lighter (and they are) so compromises had to be made. It’s just common sense. My advice.... wait. Buy yourself a new set of pads and wait for emotional rollercoaster to settle down. Lol

Also... I have chat with Audeze rep about all these things and differences between LCDX and LCDX-C. Mainly bc I have tried closing off my own LCDX and convert them to LCDX-PC (PC-poor man’s Closed). After a litttle back and forward as well as some exchange with customer service I found out that:
-same drivers are used
-Audeze can not make that conversion for you. Won’t sell you caps or tuning. Mostly due to “complex” tuning that can cause channel imbalance.
- it won’t hurt the drivers if you decide to experiment with that idea. As long as you are reasonably sane and use common sense approach.
- despite getting no help from Audeze, I will still work on it.

I think that’s enough for this morning. I’ll post new Audeze pads pics later and touch a bit about the differences.

Later.
 
Apr 15, 2021 at 8:33 PM Post #1,309 of 1,426

FYFL

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Thank you very much for your Audeze warning, FYFL. A few years ago, the only Audeze I was interested was the LCD2, but in it's original state. At the end, I didn't make the purchase.

I'm watching a lot about Empys and found this review and love it so much:


I hope you like it.
I have seen that review last year or so. I think he uses Meze99 for his live streams as well. I don’t really follow him but, I have seen snippets of his channel over the years. So, yeah, if you can figure out his preferences, likes, philosophy.... and you fee that you can relate to it? Then he might be a really good source of information.
I don’t know if headphones are his forte??? I know where his preferences lie as far as stereo is concern tho. And since his approach and taste differs from my own, there’s not enough common ground for me to care and follow.

See....., typical stereo guys (including myself) have different ways of interpreting strengths, weakness and performance of a headphone. I am guilty of that as well. What do I mean by it?
For one, my lifelong point of reference was, and still is, my very own stereo system as well as live music that I am familiar with. In headphone “business”, I think it’s a wrong approach. Since our brain was fed “stereo speaker” baby milk-formula for ages, there’s certain level of muscle memory associated with specific way of listening to music and figuring out specific sound characteristics.
Second, I have not start my music/audiophile journey with headphones and then, slowly evolved to self proclaimed expert over period of many years and dozens and dozens of headphones later.
That’s why I’ll never be able to offer any meaningful advise other than perhaps my own experiences with headphones I own. And even then, it will be rather vague description.
Point is, I wouldn’t dismiss those reviews but understand where they’re coming from.
John Darko for example. Very decent reviewer. Great with deciphering new ways to enjoy streaming on various budgets. Also great for those who seek simplicity and practical hifi. And certainly a guy to follow if you’re into “house” or other electronic music types. I think he also reviewed Mezes in 2019 or 2020 (not sure). But I do remember his description of it. It was colorful, vague as f&Ck and delicious (pretty sure he made number of food references lol).
So perhaps, guys like us are not a “go to Mecca” of headphone knowledge. :wink:
I have my usual suspects for headphone news and reviews but even then, I do my own homework. (Unless it’s something relatively inexpensive). Those reviews could be helpful but be cautious. Always. Especially in summit level price range. Those kind of mistakes hurt the most.



496FB5FE-3945-47E3-9D5C-AF06A7FD05EA.jpeg

You mentioned LCD2. Never heard that particular model. But I have notice a growing following of those headphones. They’re $200 or so less expensive and performance is almost on par with LCDX. Some, actually prefer that tuning over LCDX. So.... who knows where truth lies.

As to case of LCDX/-C well, I have done some listing today (new leather pads) and ....... I really like them. They still have that Audeze house sound. But it’s more fluid, not districting and with better tonal balance throughout frequency range. It’s still recessed in the mids. But less so. Bass seems a little warmer but occasionally overwhelming. Meaning, there’s a lot of it. And it appears to have slightly more energy in upper bass. Which I am not crazy about. But I could be wrong or it might be due to tracks I have used them with. (But I know those tracks well, so...... IDK). Treble, which might have been offensive (occasionally) in the past (weird peaks), is now cohesive part of frequency range. I haven’t sense any particular peaks or nulls to really complaint about. Even if they still exist (and they might) it is less of a concern.
However, there’s a “but”.....
I have listened for a week or so to Audeze new, non-leather pads and they might be slightly more appropriate IMO. At least for my personal taste. I’ll have to get back to you on that. I do need more time and a direct A/B comparison to have a definitive answer. Only problem with non-leather pads is, that they are super squishy. And that creates even less space between driver and your ear. So, occasionally my ear would rub against those fazors. Annoying a little but if it sounds better, it might be worthy compromise. We will see.
Comparison between LCDX vs ADX5K was interesting as well.
It wasn’t one sided.

Also, can’t wait for Audeze new product(s) announcement. I can speculate but honestly I got no clue what they will bring to audiophile market?

It’s going to be big, it will be a monster, but lean. After some weight loss.
In short, more comfortable, lighter, flagship-ish under 4K cans that sound far more agreeable.
(I was hoping for CB but perhaps in later months of 2021. - fingers crossed)
So this is my official guess/wish.
I just wonder..., how wrong my predictions must be??? :)
 
Apr 16, 2021 at 5:21 PM Post #1,310 of 1,426

Terriero

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Thank you very much for your opinion about reviews and reviewers and also for your personal baggage. Of course, I don't believe in all what reviewers say about headphones, althought there are some people that criticize the Empys, like for example metal571.

I've shared that specific review because I just clicked "like" button when the review started, because I love the presentation and the approach to the headphones.

What the other readers of this thread think about Meze Empyrean?
 
Apr 16, 2021 at 6:10 PM Post #1,311 of 1,426

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Thank you very much for your opinion about reviews and reviewers and also for your personal baggage. Of course, I don't believe in all what reviewers say about headphones, althought there are some people that criticize the Empys, like for example metal571.

I've shared that specific review because I just clicked "like" button when the review started, because I love the presentation and the approach to the headphones.

What the other readers of this thread think about Meze Empyrean?
I have heard various opinions about Empyreans and honestly, I don't know what to think of it. I know one think, they are extremely well built and based on consensus, they're heavenly comfortable. From that standpoint alone, I would not dismiss them as a contender. From what I am hearing they have great low end extension and tuning makes them Metal/electronic music friendly. I might give them a listen next week.
 
Apr 16, 2021 at 8:18 PM Post #1,313 of 1,426

Terriero

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Are you thinking about purchasing Mezes @Terriero ?
No, while I'm saving for the DAC and AMP, I'm valorating some headphones. When I receive the 1990 Pros I think I'm done for some time (I have very different signatures with my current headphones). I have Z1R and maybe the Rögnir annoted as possible candidates.
 
Apr 17, 2021 at 5:28 AM Post #1,314 of 1,426

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No, while I'm saving for the DAC and AMP, I'm valorating some headphones. When I receive the 1990 Pros I think I'm done for some time (I have very different signatures with my current headphones). I have Z1R and maybe the Rögnir annoted as possible candidates.
Same here. Pretty much done. Unless I do come across a really special closed back (if I fail converting my LCDX).
Not sure what is the price of Rognir but, It would be interesting to hear some comparisons to LCDX-C if they are in same price bracket?
 
Apr 17, 2021 at 10:59 AM Post #1,315 of 1,426

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Audeze “Padgate” controversy probably will continue..... I don’t feel like adding fuel to the fire in that particular thread or to be seen as a guy who tries to stir s#!t up. So here it goes.....
All three Audeze pads will drastically affect sound. There are noticeable differences in low/high frequency response between OG, new leather and non-leather pads. And it’s going to add to confusion among those with 2021 LCDX/C version, as well as those who opt to just “upgrade” to new pads.

I rather listen to music than compare pads...... obviously. However, there seems to be a large number of ppl who are curious about it and I figure I might add some value to that conversation by comparing all these pads. Problem is, I can only report what I hear and what my personal impressions are. And sharing that in Audeze thread is a little risky. After all, we are surrounded by experts and gurus who will spill blood just to prove their point. Lol So I rather post my findings here.

Material I used for that evaluation consisted of my usual tracks that I am familiar. But I also added specific tracks to have a better understanding to what’s going on in low frequency response. Especially important since bass is sort of Audeze “trademark” and one of their
selling points.
Synth bass, classical drums/bass drum, orchestral percussion and some home made percussion oddities were all used as reference in this comparison.
527FE4A2-7218-4F53-B2C7-97121CBA6343.jpeg


OG (original) pads appear to have the most impactful slam, punch, gut felt rumble, without sounding hollow or muddy.
Midrange is severely recessed. Sort of a LCDX (Audeze in general) signature. Treble is expensive, detailed, technicality is top notch. No complaints there except tinny hint of peakiness here and there. But not super offensive.

New Leather pads do address that midrange recession to certain degree but it also seems to add boxiness and hollowness in the upper bass. Bass notes appear plastic, lifeless. Even less body and texture than your typical planar drivers. I really don’t like it. Ramble and slam is still there but not on the same level as with OG pads.
Treble and midrange don’t really benefit much from these pads. Yes, there’s a slight change. But is it due to overall balance or some frequency peak/null in upper bass/lower midrange? I have no clue. Probably my least favorite pad.
Non-leather pads. These pads change LCDX the most IMO. Not in a bad way. At least I don’t think that it’s bad. From top to bottom, it brings some needed cohesion and fluidity. Nothing really stands out. Nothing is missing. Well, there’s something that many will see as an issue. And I can see why. But hear me out first.
I am talking about bass frequency. And not only low bass or upper bass. No. An entire bass presentation shifted to somewhat unrelated sound signature. It doesn’t really represent what we associate with “Audeze bass”. It’s not super punchy. It doesn’t have slam or limitless extension.
It is smooth, warm. I would go as far asloosey”. Ofcause I am magnifying those changes so it’s easier to understand but those are the changes I have noticed.
It sounds bad right???
It’s not. It’s actually very pleasing and relaxing. Reminds me a little of dynamic drivers. Is that a bad thing? I don’t know...?
I like it.
So,..... for me, new non-leather is the pad that makes my LCDX better. YMMV

Edit.
I didn’t touch on non- leather mids and treble. I’ll in next post as well as planar vs dynamic driver bass comparison.
 
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Apr 17, 2021 at 12:16 PM Post #1,316 of 1,426

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Back to non-leather pads. Sorry about that rude cut but life gets in a way.
As I was saying, it’s a pleasing experience. Textureless bass (in most cases) that is usually associated with planars, gained a bit of body and layering with non-leather pads. Which is a welcomed change. I can’t say that it became articulated since in my opinion planars usually are very articulated but their expressiveness and gamma of color is a bit limited. With non-leather pads, LCDX paints less boring picture. It’s not Rembrandt. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not perfect but it’s surprisingly more enjoyable. The only thing that I’m missing is the lowest of the low, gut felt thump that Audeze is famous for. So, yes, there are compromises with all those pad choices.
I might also add that midrange and treble is in shocking synchrony. Neither frequency spectrum is slacking behind or forcing its own interpretation of “linearity”. It’s very soothing experience. In a sense, it reminds me a little of Final D8000. Just smoother and warmer. I’m not saying that they sound similar. They don’t. But it reminds me of this showmanship-less like quality of D8000. What do I mean by it? It is a headphone that doesn’t do anything awesome in particular. It doesn’t have strong house signature sound. It doesn’t suck or excels in any particular category. It’s just very balanced and not offensive in any way. Some would call it boring as it doesn’t have that “it” factor. I call it “Rōnin” headphone. It doesn’t have agenda, alliances or personality. It is just good in one thing (killing in case of Rōnin). In reproducing music as efficiently and accurately as possible (case of D8K). That’s my nick name for D8000. Lol
So what would I call LCDS (yes “S” for smooth)? Obviously it has to be a Ninja, if we stay with this Japanese warrior analogy. 🤣
But it’s somewhat true. It became this mysterious hybrid of brut Mike Tyson with his high pitched voice and coolness/swagger of George Foreman. Well, maybe a clumsy Ninja. But you get my drift.

Next, planar vs dynamic bass.
 
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Apr 17, 2021 at 6:22 PM Post #1,317 of 1,426

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Rögnir competes with the other Kennerton TOTL open planars (Thekk, Thror and Wodan) and Kennerton promise that, althought closed, the Rögnir can compete with them without any compromises. So... they are 2850 € (3429,99 $ if you buy them in Audio46). I don't know how much they will be if you buy directly from Kennerton, but I think will be more or less the same price.

I posted a suggestion in another thread (symphonic "Iron Maiden - Fear of the dark" cover), I found today and loved it so much. To don't repeat here, I will post a link to the Flux lab thread. Take a look, @Chris Kaoss :beerchug:

Being from NY, have you tried the Abyss 1266, @FYFL? Or @ScornDefeat?
 
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Apr 17, 2021 at 10:22 PM Post #1,318 of 1,426

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Rögnir competes with the other Kennerton TOTL open planars (Thekk, Thror and Wodan) and Kennerton promise that, althought closed, the Rögnir can compete with them without any compromises. So... they are 2850 € (3429,99 $ if you buy them in Audio46). I don't know how much they will be if you buy directly from Kennerton, but I think will be more or less the same price.

I posted a suggestion in another thread (symphonic "Iron Maiden - Fear of the dark" cover), I found today and loved it so much. To don't repeat here, I will post a link to the Flux lab thread. Take a look, @Chris Kaoss :beerchug:

Being from NY, have you tried the Abyss 1266, @FYFL? Or @ScornDefeat?
$3500 is not in my budget. At least not anytime soon. And to be honest, I am not sure if I would ever want to go that high for a single pair of headphones? It would have to be absolutely breathtaking experience. And I have not experienced anything remotely close to that level of performance. And probably, I never will. With that being said, my odd quartet of misfits keeps me pretty busy and smiling. That’s all that matters.
For teary eyes and goosebumps, my stereo rig is always happy to deliver and spin some exquisitely mastered vinyl.
But I’ll never say never.
Title of this thread is exactly where my idea of flagship and TOTL is (top of the line). Approximately 2K (+-$500) is my limit. And it’s not just a line drown in a sand. It’s the line I’ll not cross. Sure, if @ScornDefeat decided to get rig of those ugly, heavy, disappointing D8000s, and it would be within this budget? Sure. I would help a brother out. But only bc I like him. 🤣

Audio46 got number of interesting and expensive headphones. Including 1266. If it’s not in my budget, I usually don’t even bother. Waste of their time and mine.

Conductor is gold. Lmao

Thanks
 
Apr 17, 2021 at 11:24 PM Post #1,319 of 1,426

FYFL

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BTW There’s not a lot of enthusiasm around those Sony’s Z1R. Are they still in production?
Reviews from magazines don’t tell me much. It’s just a generalized mambo jambo
 
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Apr 18, 2021 at 11:26 AM Post #1,320 of 1,426

FYFL

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2020 vs 2021 ear-pads anatomy.

What makes new, 2021 pads sound so different?

Hopefully this simple breakdown can shad some light on it. It’s pretty straight forward. And it comes down to fundamentals.
Materials and size. Size has to do with diver to ear distance reconfiguration for 2021 model. Which will be one of the crucial factors in sound signature change. And materials which are not just there for your comfort but also to provide specific acoustic properties.

First set of pictures will show size differences between pads from year 2020 and new 2021 (pads from 2020 will be on the right side, in all 3pictures).

“Fat” side comparison.
Clearly, pad on the right has more mass and thickness to it. In real life, difference is even more dramatic due to “distortion” of this particular micro lens.
9D5DDF86-F72B-4DA3-B752-DEACF759F18C.jpeg

“Thin” side comparison.
Difference is obvious. We are talking about at least 3-4mm difference.
3AC8F088-40FD-4A06-8025-F509BCA47048.jpeg


Side and top/down view.
757F2FC2-F4ED-4610-9C65-F6394F41791E.jpeg

A09ADFB7-7089-426E-982F-3B958922384D.jpeg


And now let’s talk a bit about materials. Aside from a fact that leather and non-leather might be slightly different sheen or quality/type is somewhat irrelevant. Because those fall under esthetics and personal preferences. I am not concern with that at all. Well, it could be relevant to long term use/satisfaction and longevity but we are not there yet.
Major change in 2021 pads is foam padding. 2020 memory foam was replaced in 2021 with soft, light and “springy” non-memory foam. There’s certain difference in weight and density. Which I’ll demonstrate in a moment. Properties of this new foam affect distance between ear and planar driver even farther. Since new padding foam isn’t very dense and it’s extremely squishy, a gap between ear and driver gets smaller by few millimeters. That difference will be more drastic between 2021 leather vs non-leather pads as well. Mainly because leather is much harder, thicker and stiffer material than “pleather”. This distance change as well as acoustic properties difference between “pleather” and real leather are responsible for very audible sound signature change in both 2021 Audeze ear-pads.
To demonstrate density differences between 2020 leather and both 2021 leather and “pleather” pads, I have used artificial pressure/mass in form of weighty candle and set it on top of each pad.
Here’s is what pads loook like under weight pressure.

2C9FBE6E-1F1D-4950-A547-49304F87D4E6.jpeg

43E7E47F-F665-493E-8772-9FF452DB6391.jpeg


A1C90A4E-64DE-4FEC-B4F9-F5E6654BFF70.jpeg


I think it’s pretty clear how all of these pads behaved and which pad has more mass and density to support that weighty candle and which pad doesn’t.

As you can see, there’s a lot going on here. And clearly, I have my own theories on how and why. But I’ll let everyone else come to their own conclusions. And I’ll finish with this.
All these pads sound clearly and noticeably different. Which one will fit your taste and personal preferences? Only you can answer that question. I know which ones I like.
Cheers.
 
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