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Mitchell & Johnson - Electrostatz, 2 way hybrid, Headphones Appreciation and Impressions Thread!

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by barondla, Dec 5, 2016.
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  1. ehjie
    I've upgraded my pads to the Stpad2 from Japan, fairly large ears that's why.
    Yes, i'd +1 to the Underrated remark from you, because it truly is.
    My next upgrade after another few months should be the cables, a Rosenkranz type specd custom with branded terminations in balance mode. The pads upgrade alone improved the trebles to a very noticeable degree, this time with laser like precision focus & imaging, that's how i'd describe it, & we haven't gone to those lovely voices (they were already like that with the stock pads), to the higher soundstage, to a very lovely low end rendition...
    barondla and Benz-Fi like this.
  2. ehjie
    I'm an old Basshead, & will always be. But the JP1s in my stable are my go to for Critical listening @ home. The Bass tuning may not be "basshead" category, but it's Bass tuning is simply superlative. Try out any Allman brothers tracks or any Chemical brothers...
    barondla, trellus and Purplezorz like this.
  3. ehjie
    Oh yes @barondla you are absolutely correct. My vote goes to, of course my current upgrade the Stpad2. I also read a comment, somewhere here, his/her pads were touching the cheek bones. Me, too. But this is very, very bearable compared to pressing my lobule (hence, an upgrade was a necessity than just cosmetic), I keep on re-positioning the pads constantly. This reduce my listening time, dramatically...
    old & new.png
    barondla likes this.
  4. Kitchener
    Impressions of the MJ2 by an ignorant audiopihle:

    I'm going to try and give the best description I can based on the limited grasp I have of audiophile jargon and the limited experience I have with headphones.
    Let me just excplicitly state that I'm not very into the whole writing about headphones schtick.
    You won't get any mentions of attack and decay, transcient response or any of that stuff. I'm trying to keep this as layman friendly as possible because that's what I am.
    So from a layman to a layman:

    First off, previous listening experience:
    • Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80 Ohm
      -Trusty old companion, bit sharp on the high notes and sort of muddled but great for movies and games.
    • Senneheiser HD6XX
      -Lovely paired with the Crack, but a little "too much" for me, it felt like my head was being squashed by music in a way.
    • Beyerdynamic T90
      -Paired with the Crack also. Holy sharp highs, Batman! They were super comfy and the sound had an exciting "spark" to it, but listening to jazz on these made me want to cry in pain.
    • Bottlehead Crack amp
      -Built it myself, fun project but it turns out I'm not that into tubes
    • Senneheiser Momentum Wireless On Ear
      -These I love, just for the sense of freedom. But I don't use these for "proper listening" just podcasts and music on the go.
    • Denon over ear Piece of **** Noise Cancelling Crap
      -how I hate this motherf... just a total piece of ****e
    • Stax Lambda SR Pro + Stax SRM-313
      -Nirvana. These made me realise what I want from headphones: details, air, speed.
    • Stax SR-L500 + Stax SRM-353X

    Right, on to the MJ2.

    I got these because I wanted to replace the older Stax setup with something portable.
    I wanted headphones that would get me as close as possible to the Stax sound straight out of my phone/computer without any added hassle.

    Did I find it in the MJ2? Well, read and find out, it's at the bottom under "Summary" :beyersmile:.
    Normally I wouldn't compare anything to electrostatic headphones (closed back headphones even less so), but since M&J insist on usingt their "Electrostatz" branding I have no choice.
    So how do they compare to full-blood stats?
    Not unfavorable.

    First of, the pracitcal elements of form and fit:
    The cups themselves are quite small and the same goes for the earpads.
    They're somewhere between on-ear and over-ear in size, so they feel sort of awkward at times.
    I wish they'd made the earpads larger, so they could fit around my ears.
    To remedy this, I've asked Vesper Audio to make me some custom earpads, hopefully these will improve the fit.
    Also, the earpads are soft and shallow so your ears will press against the driver.
    That being said, the earpads are very soft and I've been able to wear these for several hours withoug discomfort, but your mileage may vary.

    The headband and the adjustable sliders are incomprehensibly large.
    I have a fairly large head, not wide but quite tall, and I have the headband at the "smallest" setting.
    They fit quite perfectly at this length, but I have never used a headphone without having to adjust the length at least half an inch longer than the shortest setting.
    Are these intended for people who insist on wearing hats at all time or for people suffering from severe hydrocephalus? Who knows!

    The padding on the headband is also quite hard and I wish this thing could have had something more akin to the suspension band of the JP1.
    But as long as I set it properly it doesn't cause discomfort.
    Unlike the headband on my Senneheiser Momentum on-ears, holy motherf... that thing digs into my skull like an offshore drilling platform.

    The wire is a tangle prone bastard.
    And not only that, once it gets tangled, you'll have one hell of a time untangling it because of the friction from the cloth sleeve.
    Also it is quite short, but long enough to be able to comfortably keep the player in a trouser pocket while listening.
    But I do like, very much so, that it doesn't matter which wire you plug into what cup, big plus for practicality.

    A final note on aesthetics, I find these are quite handsome earphones.
    Understated and discreet in a way with lovely, decadent wooden earcups.
    Certainly a lot more discreet than the Stax; no more being laughed at by Cruel Fiance and called Cyberman...

    So far I've only tried these on my iPhone 6S, Macbook Pro and ageing Cowon D2 DAP.
    Both with Apple Music streaming and FLAC files.
    And I'm very pleased with the results, with a slight (imagined?) edge in clarity to FLACs on the trusty D2.
    Down the line I might try getting some sort of portable DAC/amp (practicality and portability are prime directives here) to see if I can detect any improvements, but for now I'm very pleased with powering these with my phone.

    Okay, now I'm on shakey ground.
    The only headphones I can directly compare these to right now are my Stax L500 and DT770 Beyers.
    -the comparison to the Beyers might not be completely fair right now because I don't have a dedicated amp to power the 80 Ohm headphones)

    I find it helpful if reviewers list what they usually listen to, this gives me and idea of what I can expect if our tastes align.
    So far I've listened mostly to these artists, in alphabetical:
    • Bill Fay
    • Damien Jurado
    • The Chromatics
    • Dream Theater
    • Genesis (the Gabriel years)
    • James Carter
    • Kings of Convenienve
    • Miles Davis
    • Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
    • Nick Drake
    • Rage Against the Machine
    So mostly acoustic and rock but I also dabble in jazz and synth pop stuff.

    First of, the MJ2 doesn't feel as closed in as other closed back headphones I've tried.
    There's a slight sense of space and air that I find very pleasing.
    Not anything like I get from the Stax, but better that my Beyers by far.
    Same goes for seperation of intstruments, very good but far outclassed by proper stats.

    They feel "fast". Especially noticeable with fast paced prog stuff like Dream Theater.
    You get can pick up all the fast drumming and guitar playing, without them becomming muddled together in some mushy prog soup.

    I get a feeling these are neutral headphones that don't colour the sound noticeably.
    Which I also like, I want to hear the music as it was recorded without any tweaking on my end.

    The bass is, well, very light. And personally, that's the way I like it.
    There's very little to no "slam", just like I've grown to accept from my Stax.
    But what bass there is feels detailed and precise enough to my ears.
    The Beyers have a much stronger bass slam, by far, but I prefer the laid back bass of the MJ2.
    While listening to more electronic stuff like the Chromatics I certainly don't want for bass, so for my tastes it is fine.

    Mids is a bit of a difficult subject for me as I find it hard to pin down how to describe them in a meaningful way.
    What I can say is that the MJ2s do a marvelous job with acoustic guitars and pianos, I find.
    Vocals are also very pleasing to listen to.
    Both are more prominent and both more pleasing to listen to and clearer than on the Beyers.
    I'm certainly not missing my old Stax setup too badly while listening to acoustic stuff like Kings of Convenience and Bill Fay on the MJ2.

    Highs are where headphones tend to make it or break it for me.
    I hate fatigueing and harsh highs with a burnig passion and I'm quite sensitive to them.
    But I also love hearing all the details in the higher frequencies. So I can be quite picky.
    This is why I had no qualms about selling the Beyer T90 for instance, they were amazing but the highs were just too sharp and sparkling for me.
    The Beyer DT770 are also too bright and sharp on the highs for me, so I rarely use them for music.
    When I first tried the Stax I was in heaven; I got every little detail without a single harsh note, no headaches or fatigue, just easy, joyous listening.
    And this is where I'm also most pleased with the MJ2!
    The sax of Miles Davis and James Carter is a joy and high pitched vocals are lovely and sharp.
    Their electret drivers do a marvelous job of delivering detailed highs without fatigueing harshness and I find I can cranck the volume up as much as I like without any fatigue.
    It's not on the same level as the Stax, but very good.
    Big win in my book.

    The earpads are too small, the headband too long and the cable is a pain.
    But I find that the MJ2 puts out a lovely, neutral, detailed, non-fatigueing and airy sound that is growing on me with every passing day.
    And I think this is an acceptable, truly portable replacement for my old Stax setup, especially since I bought these second hand (Hi,
    @Astonish :beerchug:!)
    I get the feeling this is the very best I can possibly get straight from my phone/computer without an amp.
    But if you are familiar with stats, do not go into this expecting proper electrostatic headphones, then I believe you will be quite disappointed.
    If you've never tried stats and want a taste, you could do worse than these.
    But if you're buying these at full retail price, I'd rather spend a little more and get the Stax SRS-3100 if I were you.

    To finish on a good note:
    I like them.
    A lot.

    David and Goliath, but in this story Goliath kicks David in the teeth.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
  5. Astonish
    Great review man
  6. Kitchener
    Thanks, it ended up being a lot longer than I intended :gs1000smile:
    There's still very little talk about these cans around the usual haunts (here and Reddit mainly), so I'm just trying to do my part.
    Hopefully it was helpful for other newbies like me.
    barondla and RockStar2005 like this.
  7. Astonish
    I agree they’re definitely slept on for acoustic fans or anyone who isn’t a bass head. Every other area is well done in my opinion of them
  8. RockStar2005
    Normally I use custom EQs for my headphones that I created, but vs. the last several headphones I've auditioned, I actually found the "Rock" EQ preset in the Poweramp app (Android) made these sound the best! Much better than using no EQ at all. I would recommend trying that out if you can. I pitted these against the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro, and to me the DT 1770 Pro was superior, so I kept that and returned these. But I felt strongly that if someone really cared about portability that the MJ2s would be the better choice. I would easily say they're one of the best headphones I've ever auditioned.
  9. Kitchener
    My uneducated opinion is that this is some of the, if not the absolute, best you can get straight from a multi-purpose portable source like a phone/tablet or laptop.

    Massdrop claims the Hifiman HE4XX “doesn’t need an amp to sound amazing”, but I haven’t tried them so I can’t say.
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  10. RockStar2005
    Yeah well the MJ2's impedance is only 32 ohms, so an amp isn't necessarily necessary. HOWEVER, I feel even with low impedance headphones an amp (ESP a strong DAC/amp) will always give you better sound than just relying on the phone's DAC & amp. Unless your phone is the LG V30 (aka my phone lol). It has 3 amp levels that range from 0-600 ohms!! It powers my 250-ohm Beyer DT 1770 Pro like a CHAMP! But most phones have weak amps IMO. iPhone and HTC's are strong, but ALL the rest are weaker.
    barondla and trellus like this.
  11. Kitchener
    Have any of you who've tried the MJ2 also tried the Hifiman HE-560?
    -let's ignore the obvious difference of closed back vs open back.

    I'm mainly interested in how they compare in their treble delivery.
    I find I can easily listen to the MJ2 for hours without any fatigue from harsh or sharp treble.
    And some reviewers seem to have the same impression of the HE-560; fast, detailed highs without troublesome peaks.
    -yet some user reviews here on Head-Fi find the highs a little too forward on the HE-560.

    Thing is I think I want to compliment my MJ2 with some open back alternatives and the HE-560 can be had for $300 these days, and I would love to hear the opinions of someone who's heard both :)
  12. Benz-Fi
    I enjoyed reading that, great review!
    barondla and RockStar2005 like this.
  13. barondla
    Excellent review. I agree that the M&J don't sound exactly like full range stats. Though they may get closer than any other headphone technology. Especially in the high frequencies. Wonder if the M&J miss some of the stat sound due to electret vs electrostatic construction, closed back vs open, or due to their hybrid construction?

    Only full range electrostats I've heard were Koss on a Stax amp. Does anyone even make full range, closed back, stats?
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  14. Kitchener
    Thanks :)
    I’m really inexperienced with describing sound and different frequencies, but I’m also poor at understanding exactly what some reviewers are talking about.
    So I thought maybe a layman’s view could be helpful to other laymen like me.

    Also I just want to spread the word a little, cause these are very pleasant sounding headphones.

    (I see they’re back on Massdrop already, that’s a bit odd. The last drop ended three weeks ago or something.)

    I agree about that, they definitely sound much closer to stats in the highs than any other dynamic I’ve tried. Very good, I think.

    I think it’s probably a combination of all the factors you mention.
    They definitely sound more closed in than stats, but I also feel they sound more open and airy than other closed backs I’ve tried.
    And as you probably know, electret drivers (the membranes) are heavier and thus slower than stats, so that’s definitely a large part of why they’re not quite on the level of stats.
    And the dynamic driver probably does quite a lot.
    If these were instead only electret and open/semi-open back they’d probably sound more like the stats we know.

    I’ve recently tried using the MJ2 with an Objective2 amp and I think it is an improvement over just using a phone/laptop to power them.
    I think the highs are even clearer and faster with more punch from the bass and more detailed sound overall.
    Might just be my imagination :o2smile:
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  15. Jobbing
    STAX 4070
    barondla likes this.
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