My Systems - Edition 9, modded-DX1000, D5000, RS-1, DB770, MPX3, Extreme, Havana, DAC1, Stello, Tesla Apex, ASIO, Foobar...
Nov 12, 2008 at 9:48 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 77

bdh

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I just decided to do all my reviews at one time, so they're all put into the same context. Sorry this is so long.


What we listen to are not headphones, or amps, etc., but complete systems. And every component of the system contributes to the final sound and feeling of the music in some way. However, the reviews on Head-Fi usually focus only on one aspect, as it's too daunting otherwise, and so the lower-profile components of our systems are rarely discussed. "It's all about the synergy", was what someone was bemoning in one thread I read a while ago, regarding the difficulting of trying to get the best out of so many disparate and sometimes tempermental componants. And I'm finding that to be more and more true every day.

The problem I have in describing my systems, is that I can't describe in words what it sounds like in reality. Sure, I know the vocabulary that high-end audio reviewers use to try and describe various aspects of the sound, but nothing I have read here, on other review sites, Stereophile, etc. has ever adequetly described what I am hearing as I type this up. All of the superlitives I will use will not be able to convey the sound and feeling of the music I hear now, versus the sound I heard several months ago, versus throughout the years. I might have said a couple of years ago that I had near perfect sound with my R-10's and couldn't imagine it getting any better, yet it sounded nothing then like it does now. For me, sound is almost impossible to describe without comparisons in order to get a frame of reference between people and componants. However, it's still very difficult, because the system I've listened to around my MPX3 with may sound very different from the system you listen to your MPX3 with. And while you may think we are hearing something very similar when I describe the MPX3, it may in actuallity be substantially different because of the rest of the system.

Let me describe some of my biases and preferences so the rest will make more sense.

First, let me just say something surely to be controversial for those who want to drop out from reading the rest of this. If you can't easily hear the difference different interconnects, tube brands, music formats, headphone cables, and even power cords sound, I would say you are still near the beginning of your journey. That might be by choice or preference, lack of funds, or lack of belief, or with belief based on experience, but it is my belief from my experience. I say this because these things are a part of this description of my systems, and it is not intended to start any thread war about such things if it is not your belief at this time.

Another thing I've come to believe is that I'm sure people listen to music in different ways. From the things I've read, some people seem to listen to music somewhat analytically. That is they listen to the performance. They may follow along with the different instruments independently, and how they play together, how the music is structured, or how the sound is structured, how the instruments themselves sound, or they admire the beauty of the human voice, etc. Others listen more emotionally. They more often listen to the music as a whole and occasionally follow the individual instruments and music lines. They're more interested in the feeling the music portrays, the excitement, the anger, or the passion of it. (Maybe somewhat similar to how you would listen to music from your car stereo.) Along these lines, in audio reviews or your private personal comparisons some people seem to focus on the sound of the music -- the treble, the mids, the bass, the imaging, the openness, soundstage, timbre, etc. with little reference to the feeling of the music. While others seem to feel the emotion and the 'funness' of listening to music is the most important part. That we are supposed to be enjoying the music and not listening to the sound. Occasionally you hear of people selling all of their equipment and dropping out of high-end because they get more enjoyment and fun listening to their car stereo. They complain their expensive audio system produces music that is technically perfect, yet is virtually lifeless to listen to and conclude that's what high-end audio gets you.

These, of course, are just generalities and purely from my observation only, and I know there are other catagories and types of listeners, and most people are somewhere near the middle of these catagories. I just point this out because I am much closer to the emotional side of the scale and more often listen to music for the feeling it gives me as opposed to actively analyzing the music or the sound, and so that is the primary trait I listen for in my comparisons of different components. Not exclusively of course, but primarily.

As far as music, two-thirds of the stuff I regularly listen to is some form of Rock - hard, soft, punk, pop, country, classic, folk, metal, blues, etc., with the rest being a very wide variety of music that encompasses just about everything. (Well maybe not modern Classical -- you know, minimalism and that sort of crap.) Two-thirds of my music is CD's ripped to FLAC, and the other third is a mixture of iTunes, iTunes Plus, and Amazon purchased files. The iTunes files were burned to CD, then ripped to FLAC. I have over 14500 songs, and managing physical CD's between work and home was just too much trouble, so I've abandoned my CD players and exclusively use DAC's and my computers with FLAC and Amazon MP3 files for the source.


SYSTEM 1 - (Work System) - (Primary System)

- Dell Desktop computer with no sound-card
- ASIO4ALL v2.8
- Foobar 2000 v0.9.5
- Benchmark DAC1 USB with Empirical Audio mods, connected via USB
- Synergistic Research Tesla Apex interconnects with active shielding off
- Single Power MPX3 Slam SE (with several unknown upgrades), Western Electric JW 2c51, Sylvania 6bl7gta (green text) @12V
- Ultrasone Edition 9 with APS v3 recable and Furutech connector


SYSTEM 2 - (Home System)

- Custom computer with Creative X-Fi sound card
- ASIO4ALL v2.8
- Foobar 2000 v0.9.5
- Mhdt Havana DAC with Bendix 2c51 tube, connected via USB
- Synergistic Research Alpha Sterling X2 interconnects with active shielding off
- Single Power Extreme (no upgrades), LM Ericsson 2c51, Kuhl Cryo'd TungSol 5998
- Ultrasone Edition 9 with APS v3 recable and Furutech connector


My work system is my primary system because I can listen to music all day long at work, whereas at home, I only have a couple of hours per day at most of listening time.
The Edition 9 is my headphone of choice because I haven't heard anything else that comes close to it, (as an agregate of aspects, not neccessarily each individual aspect), in terms of clarity from the top to the bottom, extension in the treble and bass, tone, excitement, transparency, imaging, soundsatge, headstage, bass weight, bass texture, punchiness, naturalness, dynamic range, micro-dynamics, PRAT, transient response, and just plain fun. I've owned a late model R-10 for a couple of years, the L3000 for a year and a half, the HE-60, the RS-2, the 325i, the 990, and currently own the RS-1, the D5000, the DX1000, a v1 Darth Beyer, and the Sony V6, so I've had plenty of experience with different types of top-tier headphones. Although there's obviously many I have never had a chance to try or to extensively listen to yet.

After reading that list of characteristics you may be saying "But the R-10 and DX1000 have a much bigger sound-stage!" or "But the D5000 and DX1000 go deeper!", or any number of similar comments. First, like I said right before it, my preference is for the COMBINATION of all those qualities, not that the Edition 9 is better at every single one against every other headphone (although in the majority it is in my opinion.) Secondly it is my PREFERENCE and my OPINION of sound and music those headphones reproduce. For example, I don't like a distant sounding or cavernous soundstage like the DX1000 can sometimes sound like. Nor do I like a flat wall of sound like most of the Grados have. I don't care for a delicate, airy presentation like the HE-60. etc.

I like an exciting, aggressive sound to the music as opposed to a relaxed and soothing sound. To me PRAT and musicality are King. PRAT being the toe-tapping, head-bobbing, body-slamming aspect and musicality being the aspect that portrays emotion, feeling, and wonder to the music. Some people may prefer an aggressive sound for Rock, while like a spacious, relaxed sound for Classical and\or Vocal music. I found I prefer the Edition 9's for all types of music. A delicate and soft song sounds delicate and soft yet exciting at the same time. A soft romantic female vocal song is soft and romantic and yet exciting at the same time, as opposed to soft, romantic, and relaxing. If Norah Jones was singing right in front of me, it would be exciting and electric, not relaxing! I want to feel Issac Stearn playing Brahms' Violin Concerto and be moved by it, even during the slow parts. My current setup makes pretty much everything sound so great that it's very difficult to listen as background music. (Although I force myself to at work.
smily_headphones1.gif
) I can't help but bounce around to everything and actively listen to the music, just like as if I was up on stage with the band. To me, it's like the difference between observing a piano player sway with the music while you sit and enjoy it versus being a part of the music like the performer is and you can't help but sway along with him.

And coming from the speaker world, there is a viseral impact you get from speakers, that you don't normally get from headphones. I have been searching for that power and impact. (Especially without the need to have to turn the volume way up to get it.) While the bass is a big part of musical impact from speakers, and to me, most headphones have woefully poor bass, it's not the only part. Impact is presented through the whole frequency spectrum, but the bass is usually the weak link in headphones. As you can tell from the list of headphones I've owned, I've tried a number of those known for their bass. While the Darth Beyers, L3000, and DX1000 have big, deep, and even relatively tight bass, none of those give me the viseral bass impact the Edition 9's do. Nor do they have the quality of bass I was looking for. The Edition 9's bass just sounds more life-like and realistic than any other headphone I've tried. (Again, you may have a different opinion from you experience.) And, to be clear, I don't just mean it has impact when loud, the bass has the same realistic quality at lower volumes as well.

I also have been looking for a headphone system that has a live and open sound, that a great pair of speakers can give you. As if the band is right there in your room. Now that doesn't necessarily mean the headphones have to be of open type. In fact I find the Edition 9's to sound more live and open than the Grados in the way I'm talking about, as the Grado's don't sound very realistic to me. (Discussed more below.)

My ears are very sensitive and there have been a lot of different componants and configurations and different tubes that give me audio fatigue to some degree or another. My current setup gets me 99.5% fatigue free music. I can easily listen to music at a good volume for 8 hours at a time, with just the usual breaks for food, water, bathroom, etc. and have no fatigue at all. My ears are also physically sensitive. I can only listen to Grado's for a short time. And I would never consider a IEM - it would drive me crazy.

When I say I can't adequetly describe the sound of my systems, it's because they are highly tuned and sound little like it did when I simply plugged my headphones into my newly purchased Single Power amps and DACs and tried a few different tubes. There's an almost night and day difference between now and then. I would say it's an even bigger difference, to me, than the initial step I had going from my iPod to the the amp and DAC combo. How do you describe the COMBINED affect of a dozen different aspects, some of which are big and some of which are subtle? The only meaningful way to accurately describe sound is to compare it with something else, and there are just too many variables that make up the final sound that there is no true reference that any of you actually have to my particular system. It's like the differences between different photographic lenses. You can usually see a huge difference in a photo made with a cheap lens compared to a very expensive lens, but it's very hard to describe the differences in words photographs made between two lenses of similar price points, let alone describe all of the tweeks and touch-ups you can do to a photo in Photoshop which when all combined, add up to create an outstanding photo.

Amps\Tubes

I've tried a lot of different tubes in the MPX3. There are three main types of output tubes my MPX3 SLAM SE can support: 6SN7's, 5687's (the SLAM option), and 6BL7's (@6V or @12V with the SE option). The 6SN7's have a mellow, rounded, very tubey sound. The 5687's have a quicker, leaner, punchier sound. And the 6BL7's running at 6V have a more open and engaging sound at both ends and in the mids, and when running at 12V, they just really shine, with a dramatic increase in punch and PRAT. And finally I've tried about eight different brands and varieties of 6bl7 and 6bx7 tubes. The Sylvania 6bl7's far and away sound the best. And luckily, I have one set of green colored lettering Sylvania's. I have quite a few yellow and red print tubes, but the green print tubes I just have a magic that other Slyvania's don't have. Maybe (hopefully) the reds and yellows just need to be broken in (I haven't tried that yet), as I haven't been able to find another matched pair of greens yet.

The input tube has even more possibilities than the output tubes. I won't bother to list them all, but I've tried various 6SN7's, lots of 12AT7's and dozens of other Type 1 tubes, but once I heard the TungSol 2c51, I knew that was the tube for this amp. I've tried about seven different varieties of the 2c51 and none came close to the TungSol. It has a focused, yet three dimensional sound that's very good at imaging. It's open and extended, and while I don't know if I'd say it has a warm sound, it's definately not lean, as it has a very full sound. And the TungSol has a significantly deeper, fuller, and punchier bass than all the other 2c51's I've tried. One of the things I love about the Single Power amps is that they're so versitile. Knowing what I get with 12V 6bl7's and the 2c51, I couldn't imagine being stuck with only being able to listen to 6SN7's. The differences literally sound like very different amps.

Halfway through this writeup, I got a Western Electric JW 2c51 (which is quite different than the Western Electric 396A), and now that tube is my input tube of choice for the MPX3. It is not as dark sounding and bass heavy as the TungSol and which I've compensated for with the foobar equalizer by bumping up the bass a notch. But in addition to being somewhat brighter, more open, and so much richer sounding, there's also something I can't quite describe that makes me like it better. If I'd switch it back and forth enough I might be able to describe it, but some audio characteristics are more feelings than pure sound descriptions.

And just a note about doing A/B tests, sometimes a tube, cable, or whatever would sound better at first, but after listening for a few days, I might find that componant give me fatigue after listening for a few hours or longer, or I find some aspect I hadn't noticed before that I don't like, or just that after having gotten used to that componant and then switching back, I find really did like the original one better. So, while I do A/B tests, I find it benefitial to also do the same tests again after a few days.

With the Extreme, all of the same input tubes that work on the MPX3 also work on the Extreme. There are two tubes that stick out -- the Amperex Bugle Boy 7062 and the LM Ericsson 2c51. I've tried dozens of 12AT7 type tubes and other brands of 7062's, and the Bugle Boy easily stands out. Unfortunately, despite it's great sound, the 7062 (all brands) gives me audio fatigue if I listen for more than an hour. I've tried different output tubes, etc., but haven't been able to fix the fatigue. Luckily the 2c51 sounds even better. While the LM Ericsson 2c51 did not sound that good in the MPX3, it shines in the Extreme. And while the WE JW 2c51 excels in the MPX3, it doesn't in the Extreme. It's just one of those 'synergy' things. For example I originally started with a 6414 and 6as7g's in the Extreme. The 6as7g's have a warm yet dynamic, 3D-ish sound. So when I found the BB 7062 and liked it a lot better than the 6414, but then subsequently got the fatigue, I wanted another tube just as good. I finally bought a 2c51 adapter with a few 2c51's. However, the 2c51 and 6as7's do not go well together. The 3-D sound of the 2c51 AND 6as7g together makes the sound way too mid-range focused. Mikhail then told me the 2c51 should be used with the 5998 output tubes in the Extreme. The 5998 have a flatter sound-stage, and a more powerful sound, which complements the 2c51 much better than the 6as7's did. This was the sound I finally settled on for the Extreme. I have half a dozen 5998 tube brands and the cryo-froze Tung-Sol 5998's from Tubeworld stand out with better defined, deeper bass and clearer sound than the others, even more than the more expensive and rarer Western Electric 421A. If I hadn't asked Mikhail, I might not have tried the 5998's and might have assumed the 2c51 was not a good tube and maybe sold it off, but with the 5998's, it is an exceptional tube on the Extreme.

One of the difficult things I experienced with all the different tubes I was trying was that with most of them, certain albums sounded great while others sounded poor. Sometimes an album sounded great on the MPX3 and not on the Extreme or vice-versa, some didn't sound good on either, etc. And it wasn't musical genres that sounded good or bad, it was purely random albums, even by the same artist. Anyway, if I changed a tube, then a different set of albums might now sound good and others poor. That was disappointing. And so part of my audio quest was to find the tube combinations and ASIO settings that allowed ALL albums to sound excellent in both systems. The 2c51's were the best tube in this regard also.

Interconnects

I originally had a good quality Monster Cable interconnect. I didn't have any faith in expensive cables and thought they were mostly a snake-oil item designed to cheat people out of their money. I mean a cable's a cable. It's just passing electrons. When I was using my iPod as my source (and amp), I didn't want to use a bulky Radio Shack 1/4 inch-to-mini connector, so I got a Grado connector instead. And suprisingly it also made the music sound better. So I thought maybe there is something to expensive audiophile cables. After I got the amps, I bought a new pair of Synergistic Research Alpha Sterling X2 interconnects. I hooked them up and the sound sucked. It sounded soft, dull, and lifeless. I tried them with both the MPX3 and Extreme. And the effect was the same. What a waste of money. I definitely didn't believe in cable break-in -- that just seemed beyond ridiculous -- but I had nothing to lose at this point. I put the music on continuous play for a couple of days and didn't listen to the cables at all during that time. I then tried them again and WOW! A night and day difference compared to when I first tried them. Somehow they went from being much worse then the Monster Cable to being much better, and it couldn't have been due to simply getting used to them, because I didn't listen to them at all in-between evaluations. Plus the effect was the same in two different systems. Now the sound was larger, both the soundstage, headstage, and the instrument sources themselves sounded bigger, the transients sharper, the highs were higher and smoother, the bass deeper and tighter, and it had a more liquid, flowing sound. Sometime after this I started wondering if I could get the same effects by re-cabling the Edition 9's with a better cable. I chose APureSound v3 for the re-cable. Sure enough, it didn't sound great when I first got them, but after a day or two break-in, it had the same bigger sound, higher, clearer, and smoother highs, deeper and more defined bass, etc. that the SR interconnects gave.

After this I thought to myself, if I get this much benefit from a $300 interconnect, I wonder what a >$1000 interconnect sounds like. Eventually I heard that The Cable Company has a cable library and you can try out virtually any (already broken-in) cable (with a non-refundable, but apply to your purchase fee). I decided to try out one of the best, but still within the realm of affordability for me, which were the Synergistic Research Tesla cables. I checked out both the Apex and the Acoustic Reference interconnects.

Now, it's logical to think there are three possible outcomes from this test -- either these ridiculously expensive cables will sound commensurately better than my $300 cables, or they sound worse, or I can't tell much of any difference in sound. However, what if the answer is all three outcomes are true? I happened to try the Apex with the Benchmark DAC1 and the SP Extreme amp first. If that was my only system and especially if I had only heard Monster Cable, I would have concluded that super expensive cables were not only snake-oil frauds, but that they actually make your system sound worse! The cables sucked the life right out of the music! Zero PRAT, zero musicality! I was disapointed, but not totally surpised, because as I'll also explain later there are lots of different things I've experienced that can also cause this same phenomenon - tubes, cables, sources, amps, software settings, etc. Luckily for me I have more than one system. So I tried the Apex with the Stello DAC and MPX3 amp. Wow! The fluid, natural, exquisite music flowing out of such a black background was magic! I must honestly say I didn't know what 'fluid sound' really meant until I tried the Apex in this system. The music just flows like a running river and you get carried away and don't want to stop. The sound was also another step up in all the other departments like extention, image and sound size, etc. equivelent to the step from the Monster Cable to the Alpha Sterling interconnect. However the price was 10 times as much. Yeah, the law of diminishing returns and all, but man, I just had to have that fluid music. I've had no regrets so far. In fact I've been wondering about recabling a pair of Edition 9's with the Apex also. We'll see. I've also wondered what the music could sound like of you could have all the music carrying wires from source to earcup be Apex wire. I'll keep dreaming.

So I tried the other cable I borrowed, the Acoustic Reference in both the Extreme and the MPX3 systems and nothing. No life to the music and while it made the MPX3 have slightly better 'sound', it actually sounded worse than the Alpha Sterling in the Extreme system. Significantly worse. If all I had tried was the Acoustic Reference in my systems and posted those results here, I would have led many people here to come to the conclusion that expensive, esoteric cables are a scam. However, because of the glorious sound I get from the Apex cables with my MPX3, not only do I know that not to be the case, I can probably state that the Acoustic Rreference cables might also be great sounding cables, just not in these very specific configurations. In fact not only do tubes and interconnects effect each other and the sound as a whole, so do the power cables and what they are plugged into!

Power Cables

In the middle of these interconnect experiments, I thought that if I was so wrong on the effect interconnects have on the sound, maybe those people claiming power cords also effect the sound are also correct. I ordered a BPT L-10 power cable through Audiogon. After plugging it in I could immediately hear a difference. A bigger sound, purer, more dynamic, deeper and stronger bass, more extended and smoother highs, more natural mids, etc. Let me just say, the difference is clearly audible with this headphone, amp, cables, and my ears. I can hear much less of a difference when using the Grado's for instance. They just don't have the resolution, soundstage, and extension of the Ultrasone.

I just plugged the power cord into a basic UPS I was using for my computer. I then decided to get another power cord, this time a DCCA Reference Master, and also a power conditioner. A decided on a power conditioner because of other reviews and because I also heard a low hum through my system with no music playing. With the MPX3, it was very light and did not destract from the music at all. It was a little more noticable on the Extreme, so I was hoping the power conditioner would get rid of the hum. I chose the PurePower 1050 power regenerator. I first tried it with the Extreme system. The power conditioner made the sound even more pure and smooth, more dynamic, larger, etc, however it still had the hum! I tried different things, and I finally got rid of the hum (and better sound to boot) by wrapping the ground pins of both power cables (amp and DAC) in tough plastic. (I didn't want to degrade the sound by using cheap cheater plugs.) I became a believer in power conditioners.

However, when I tried the PurePower and nice power cords with the MPX3 system, the sound sucked. It was dull, boring, and just plain awful sounding. What happened? I plugged the amp back into the UPS, and the sound opened up, was more exciting, lively, and dynamic. Then I also plugged the DAC back into the UPS, and the sound's even better. I then tried plugging them into a cheap multi-port extention cable and the sound is even more open and energetic! What the hell?! I tried all sorts of different combinations, with and without disabled ground pins, with the amp and DAC connected to different power sources, etc., and the outcome was always the same -- using the power conditioner made the music dull and boring and using daisy-chained power strips was open and exciting with the MPX3, and disabling the ground pins sounded worse. Almost the total opposite of the Extreme. Sure, there is a little bit of hum when connected to the power strips, but it's mostly unnoticable with music playing, even quiet music -- and it's nothing like the noise you get with vinyl, even clean vinyl. That bit of hum is definately worth it in order to also have much better sound.

The point is that for my systems, power cables do make a clear audible difference. That power conditioning is not always better than no power conditioning. And that the only way to determine what sounds best is to try a wide variety of configurations and listen to each one. Be creative.

DACS

When I first got my Single Power Extreme, I was using an iPod as my source - either directly or through a Xin Super Macro III or a Ray Samuals Hornet. I owned or tried a couple of DACs and CD players, but none sounded as good or were as fun as the iPod (with the Acoustic EQ setting on - turning the EQ off is dull AND doesn't make it sound better to me. I also tried and rejected a couple of iMods because they changed the tone of the music to me.) Once the USB version finally came out, I decided to try a Benchmark DAC1 USB. Finally a source I liked better than the iPod. It had more control, more of a layered, three-dimensional soundstage, more detail and micro-dynamics, a cleaner sound, etc. Now I just needed another DAC for the MPX3. I decided on the Stello D100. It was also better than the iPod. It doesn't have as much detail or clarity as the Benchmark, but it does have fuller mids and bass, giving more weight to the music. However, what's weird is the Stello does not sound very good with the Extreme - the soundstage is very compressed through that DAC and amp and the fuller mids and bass make it sound flabby. The stock Benchmark doesn't sound great with the MPX3. It sounds too thin. However, the Stello sounds great with the MPX3 and the Benchmark sounds great with the Extreme. Besides personal sonic preferences, componant synergy can a big factor on whether a componant sounds good to you or not.

Want to get even better sound, I ordered the several Empirical Audio mods for the Benchmark (the Turbo Mod, Dual op-amp upgrade, and Superclock4), and it was a three month wait. During that wait I also purchased a Mdht Havana DAC ($800). It's a No-Over-Sampling (NOS) DAC, with no op-amps, and uses a 2c51 tube for the output. Being that the 2c51 is my favorite input tube on both amps, I had previously wished there was a tube-based DAC that also used that tube. When I found the Havana, I had to try it. I immediately liked it better than the Benchmark and Stello. The sound is very rich, detailed, natural, and dynamic. It has a very 3-dimensional, layered soundstage where the instruments not only have incredible seperation, but have a larged depth-of-field like you get when listening to a properly setup speaker system. I prefer it with the WE JW 2c51 tube with the MPX3 and the Bendix 2c51 with the Extreme. I've tried almost a dozen different 2c51 type tubes in the Havana. The key is buying a variety and just trying them, as a different tube may work better in your system than in mine and vice-versa.

After I got the Havana, I was very afraid that I would like it better than the modded Benchmark, and that I paid a whole lot of money that could have been better spent on a second Havana. However, after I got it back I was very relieved. The Empirical Audio modded Benchmark blows the Havana out of the water. Wow. I won't list all the characteristics because I'll just say EVERY audio characteristic is now better than the Havana (and Stello of course.) Unfortunately I don't have an unmodded Benchmark to compare it to, so I can't accurately describe the benefits the mod made, however one of the biggest problems I had with the stock Benchmark is a lack of sonic weight and fullness to the music. This mod fixes that problem. There's so much more detail and clarity than the Havana. It's so much more dynamic and fun. It really is amazing and surprising, and it's hard to image the differences until you actually compare them. I didn't like the stock Benchmark with the MPX3, but this modded Benchmark is increadible with it. When Steve sent back the DAC, he wrote: "BTW, I demoed the S/PDIF input on your modded DAC-1 with my Off-Ramp Turbo 2 USB converter.* It completely buried the Benchmark USB input, even going through S/PDIF.* I didn't realize the stock USB input was that bad.* You cannot believe everything you read, especially from Benchmark." So I ordered one of those, well actually it will be a Off-Ramp Turbo 3, as he said there are some improvements he's making over version 2. His products currently have a three month waiting list, but I'm excited to try it given how much I've liked the Benchmark mods.

ASIO4ALL\foobar 2000

If you use a computer for a fileserver, you of course need to try ASIO4ALL and foobar 2000. However, I personally don't install it in the 'normal' fashion. I think my music sounds the worst using the foobar 2000 ASIO4ALL plug-in dll. With the MPX3-Benchmark system, I just run the ASIO4ALL program (with the USB DAC enabled) and then start foobar 2000. I use the DS: USB DAC as the Output Device as opposed to the Primary Sound Driver or the KS: USB DAC device or the ASIO: ASIO4ALL v2 device. And they all sound different to me. With the Extreme-Havana combination, I don't run ASIO4ALL at all - just foobar 2000. If I use the Stello DAC, I use ASIO4ALL, but do not check the 'Use Hardware Buffer' setting.

As far as foobar 2000, I find a Output Buffer Length of 1010ms sounds best.

ASIO4ALL has a number of different adjustable parameters. I won't describe what the actual parameters are for, other than I think most of them are to compensate for slow computers, input and output problems, timing problems, etc. However, on both of my computers I've never had a problem with ASIO4ALL or listening to music regardless of any setting or combination of settings. But irregardless of any actual problem requiring a specific setting ALL of the settings DO effect the sound of the music in some way and to a greater or lesser extent, but all clearly audible. Also let me say, as with the tube differences, the ASIO4ALL differences are much more noticable with the Edition 9's than other headphones. But this is just my observation.

I do not enable the two AC97 Troubleshooting options. The ASIO Buffer Size is set to 640 Samples. The Use Hardware Buffer is checked on (except with the Stello), and the Buffer Offset is set to 20ms (or Kernal Buffers set to 4 for the Stello). The Latency Compensation In is set to 608 Samples, and the Out is set to 912 Samples.

If you can't hear any difference with different values, then don't worry about it. To me they make a big difference. The ASIO Buffer Size of 640 and the Buffer Offset of 20ms always sound better regardless of which DAC, Amp, or whatever is used. However, the real trick is the In and Out Latency Compensation settings. What they do to the music for me is cause some sort of phase adjustment. For example if I move the 'In' setting one click to the right from 608 then the PRAT emphisis beat may be on the guitars. If I move it one click to the left, then the PRAT emphisis beat may be on the bass guitar. If I move it two clicks to the left, then the emphisis is on the Bass drum. If I move it two clicks to the left then the emphisis will be on the singers voice, and so forth. But the In and Out values are linked. So that if I keep the In at 608, and move the Out one click to the right or left, then the PRAT emphisis beat is put on the guitar or bass or whatever, but in a slightly different way. And what I mean by PRAT emphisis beat, is that when I bob my head or tap my toe, there is a beat I'm tapping it to, and so with different settings that beat is on different instruments and even whether the emphasis is on the fore beat or back beat of the instrument. What I've tried to do is select the 'ideal' setting where almost ALL the various instruments have a PRAT emphisis beat, so that I'm bobbing and moving to ALL parts of the music at once and I'm even twisting and turing to the music BETWEEN the notes because it's so involving if that makes sense. One of the best songs to play with different combinations of these settings is Bob Dylan's Summer Days from Love and Theft as there are quite a few different instrument lines with unique beats, and it's such a fun song. The other funny thing with the In and Out settings is that if you set the In to 912 and the Out to 608 (just swap the values), the PRAT beat is the same, but the sound seems out-of-phase. It's weird. Also, different DACs, other components, and even power source effect these settings. So with the Havana DAC and MPX3, the In is best at 592 and the Out at 912. If the settings, at least in MY setup are set to way off my preferences, there may be no PRAT at all -- the music may seem lifeless. Or because the beat is on something you're not used to, like the quitar, the music may just not be satisfying to listen to, as typically the beat needs to be tied, at least in part, to the bass line.

Anyway, every system configuration can be different as far as ASIO4ALL and foobar 2000 settings are concerned and the only way to determine what is best for you is to try all sorts of different combinations. And if you can't hear any differences, it may just be your system or configuration, because to me it's plainly audible.

Equalization

I find the Meet reports funny sometimes. While they are useful and I would love to go to some of them, it's surprising how many people appear to make definitive statements about different headphones, amps, and sources just by plugging in a different headphone into a different system. With just one change of any of a half-dozen different aspects of either of my systems, I can make the music sound totally lifeless, or fatiguing, or boring, or 'off', etc. Any component I change can then take me a week to tweak all the other parameters to make the newly changed system sound the best I can make it. And although it may be heresy to some, I regularly EQ my systems using the foobar 2000 equalizer. The sound degradation of the foobar 2000 equalizer is negligible to me, unlike a hardware based equalizer. Any componant (source, amp, tube, headphone, etc.) change requires different equalization to make it perfect for me. Different tubes may require small changes. Different headphones may require big changes. I remember when I told someone once that I only liked the iPod with the Acoustic EQ setting on, and he said he would never use an equalizer, as his system was totally neutral. That is of course pure crap. If you can hear that using an equalizer degrades the sound, than that's fine. But every source, every tube type, every brand of the same tube type, every amp, every headphone, and every cable effects the sound. Is my MPX3 with the TungSol 2c51 neutral or is using the WE 2c51 neutral? They sound different. One has more bass and is darker. But which is more neutral, and who is to say? Me? I could care less what's neutral. I want what sounds BEST to me. So with the darker TungSol, I increase the treble a bit to compensate. With the WE, I increase the bass a little bit. (And no, I can't get a TungSol to sound like a WE, just by changing the equalization -- there are far more audio differences to different tubes than just frequency response.) With the Edition 9, I have a shallow U shape with a shorter initial downward stroke (i.e. the lowest dip is around 311Hz, depending on the setup). With the stock DX1000, I configure it to a very deep check mark look to compensate for the very strong bass and especially mid- to upper-bass and a treble that's much too dark for me. I could care less what anyone else thinks about my settings or preferences, but I know what I like down to 1dB of the whole equalization range. I just have two stipulations with the foobar 2000 equalizer. First is that the top five sliders of the treble always have to be at 0dB or else I get bad audio fatigue, and so I adjust everything else to that. Secondly is that 99% of the time I only allow one level change per adjacent slider, as otherwise I can get some audio fatigue. If it's sounds better, do it. If it doesn't don't. I need no 'preaching' about purity, I know when it doesn't sound better to me.

Grado RS-1

I had a Grado RS-2 and 325i before, but sold them after I initially got the Edition 9 because they weren't even close to being as good. However after a year and a half I was in need of an open headphone so that I could more easily hear when my kids were making too much noise in the morning and waking up my wife. I didn't like the Berydynamic 990 at all, nor the Sennheisers, and so that left Grado again. (Why there are not more varieties of high-end non-electrostatic open headphones, I don't know.) I really regret not picking up a PS-1 when Todd used to sell them, so the next best thing I guess was the RS-1. I've tried flats and bowls and reverse-flats and reverse-bowls and the tape mod, but I still can't get them to sound 'great'. They just sound good. So far I've settled on the bowls as it has a more open and balanced sound -- the flats seem too muddy for me. They have okay to good PRAT, more than the Denon and 770, but less than the DX1000 and Ed. 9, and they have a little bit of musicality, but nowhere near the Edition 9. While they have a little more soundstage with the bowls, both in distance from the performance and a little more layering, they still exhibit the Grado Wall-Of-Sound(TM) soundstage. The bass is nowhere near the power and depth of the Edition 9 or DX1000 or D5000 or 770. To me the flats or the tape mod add to the bass, but the added muddiness isn't worth it to me. Even with the bowls, they do not seem as clear and detailed as all of my other cans. Although they have that 'open' sound, they strangly do not sound as open and have as much top-end 'air' as the Edition 9. It's two different types of 'open' sound. The Grado feels like you're listening to headphones out in the open, the Edition 9 feels like you're at the event. When I get time I'll play around with different pad configurations and mods, but for now the RS-1 is relagated to computer game listening in the morning.

Darth Beyers v1 (Beyerdynamic 770)

I went from the R-10 to these. Besides wanting the money, the R-10's just didn't have near enough bass for me, plus the high's were too... intense (or maybe hyped up?), I wouldn't say harsh, but with loud rock music, they easily made my ears ring. Although I now regret selling them, as I would love to hear the R-10's with a better amp and source than I had (I used the Ray Samuels HR-2 and Noej Toejb 3000 CD player.) However, I still don't know I would like them better than my Edition 9's. Anyway, the Beyers satisfied my need for good, deep, strong, defined bass. And they were darker sounding than the R-10's which allowed me to listen longer and more comfortably. Unfortunately, there are two qualities lacking with the Beyer's, which made me turn to the L3000. One is the lacking mid-range. Which is brought about in my opinion because of the second problem, which is the lack of focus or intensity to the music. The big ear-cavity gives a large sound-stage, but without the directness and focus, I kept having to turn up the volume in order to get more excitment out of the mids. I lined the inside of the cups with some soft rope which increased the mids and intensity, but decreased the sound-stage. I just couldn't get past wishing for stronger mids every time I listened, so I finally decided to get a different headphone and chose the L3000 (which I subsequently sold because of a similar issue, but with it's treble rather than the mids). When I listen to the Beyers now, I think they have a great sound, great clarity, bass, treble, etc., but I just don't feel the music enough listening to them, it's like I'm just listening to good sound. If I ever get the time, I'm sure some more modding, to both the pads, and maybe something inside the wooden cups, could greatly increase the satisfaction of listening to them.

JVC HP-DX1000

I purchased the JVC HP-DX1000 because of all the rave reviews here and reports of great, deep bass. After a couple hundred hours burn-in, they were still way too dark, had way too much mid and upper bass, lacked involvment, emotion, and impact, and they sounded like the music is being played in a small room. I didn't, and still don't, understand what people hear in the stock DX1000. I kept trying. I did hear good potential when I pressed the cups close to my ears though. After debating selling them versus modding them, I finally decided to risk some mods. You can pull the pads off. The frame the pads are wrapped around can be unscrewed from the main cans. But before you do, note, that most of the holes between it and the driver are not direct, they are offset. And if, after you remove this frame and then mark the current position of the driver mount, when you screw the driver back on, you can mount it with a 1/4 turn so that the holes of the driver and pad-frame line up and give a direct path to the driver, which gives a more involved, impactful sound - and adds a little clarity. Once the driver is off, you CAN remove the plastic cup covering, but there isn't anything to see but an empty wooden cup. I wanted to reduce the mid and upper bass, so I placed 2 1-inch adheisive felt pads inside the wooden driver chamber. You could add less or more pads according to your taste, or use some other material other than felt, such as Dynamat. I am sure all of these would change the sound in some different way, but it is too much of a pain, and there's a potential to strip the screw threads in the wood to take the headphone apart and put it back together a whole bunch of times in order play around with different combinations much.

In addition to those changes, I opened a two-inch seam in the pads and cut off the bottom half the foam (depth wise of course), cutting a little more at the front to give more of an angle and to allow a little more room for my ears in the back. I just sewed the seam back up. This puts my ears closer to the driver, which increases the emotion and excitement of the music. Now there are at least three types of soundstage. One is the precived distance from the performance, the second is a 3-D perception of the instruments in space -- i.e. a type of layering as the musicians and instruments are closer or futher back in space during the performance. And the third is the size of the image in addition to the perceived size of the individual instruments (does it sound like a miniture band playing in your head or a life-size band?) I don't like a whole lot of the first type of soundstage. I like a very close and intimate presentation. And the stock DX1000 has the first type of sound-stage in spades, which I 'fixed' some by aligning the driver-padframe and driver holes and shrinking the pad depth. However, the DX1000 does not have much of the second type of sound-stage, unlike the Edition 9. However, with the pads turned to the non-normal horizontal ear-hole alignment, where the ears actually rest on the pads themselves rather than be inside the ear hole, the DX1000 does provide some semblence of a layered soundstage. Unfortunately I don't like things resting physically on my ears for very long (hello Grado), and in addition with the pads turned this way, the third type of soundstage (image size) is reduced. So to fix that, I got four 1-inch long brads, bent in each prong about an 1/8 of an inch from the end, hooked the inside of the pad with one prong, and pulled the pad interrior out and hooked the other prong inside the padframe. Thereby the ear cavity is now a large circle, rather than an oval. This made the third type of sound stage much bigger.

Now the DX1000 is finally listenable. And is actually just a notch below the Edition 9. Very suprisingly. However there are a few issues which keep it from being my main can. One is that there is little layered soundstaging. The Edition 9's just have more depth to the soundstage. Another problem is that there is not enough subltety to the music -- maybe better expressed as micro-dynamics. Listening to Come Away With Me by Norah Jones, the music is just so light and there are so many subtle things about the music and her voice that are just missed with the DX1000 compared to the Edition 9's. The Ultrasone also has better quality of bass in my opinion. While the JVC has good, strong, deep bass, it doesn't sound like a real bass guitar playing or a bass violin or bass drum. There's a quality and texture to the Edition 9's bass that I have never heard even come close to in a headphone (except maybe the R10's, but there was just so little of it in the R10's). The Edition 9's bass (and all the other registers) have an impact that the DX1000 don't quite have even though the DX1000 bass is stronger.

The modded DX1000 also has a tighter soundstage with the image more in front of me than the Edition 9, which can be a benefit, however I like the S-Logic imaging better. It's more balanced in my opinion. The DX1000 emphasizes certain aspects of the music and de-emphasizes others, whereas I feel the Edition 9's emphasize all aspects of the music appropriately. With the DX1000 and other headphones, I miss lines of the music -- it's harder to follow them. With the Edition 9 I can easily follow all lines of the music. As far as comfort, while the Edition 9's are horribly tight out of the box, you can bend the metal in the headband, and I've bent them enough so that the headphones sit lightly on my ears. And while the DX1000 is not tight, there is a lot more surface area from the big pads on my head which produce a lot of heat and 'friction'. Finally, as much as I've tried, the modded DX1000 still has a little bit of the 'speakers-in-a-room' sound to it. I've tried modding it out and equalizing it out, but it's still there to some extent, and I still don't like it. The two things I would love to try with the DX1000 is hear what it would sound like with some big holes in the wooden chambers inside the wooden cups, so that the whole cup would be in use rather than just the small wooden cylinder that's inside the cups, and also what it would sound like with a nickle sized hole on the outside of the cup to turn them into a true open headphone. Unfortunately those are irreversable mods, and I'm still too scared about ruining what I have. (Maybe Larry at Headphile will whip up some modded wooden cups for the DX1000 like he does for other headphones so we can know what open DX1000's would sound like.)

Otherwise the modded-DX1000 sounds great. To me they sound like being at a live amped event. And a CD like Eva Cassidy's Live At Blues Alley sounds great with the DX1000. However, the Edition 9 lets the music sound like the live event period -- it's not like I'm listening to it through speakers, but am right there live and direct, they're just more natural and live sounding to me.

Denon D5000

The Denon's are a very comfortable headphone that makes great sound. There's been a lot said about it's bass, and while I don't have a problem with the amount of bass, I do wish it was a bit tighter and more defined. I've never heard the markl modded D5000 and I haven't tried modding them myself yet. While the sound it produces is excellent, it's open, detailed, natural, extended, and has a good soundstage that's neither too distant nor too compressed; it somewhat lacks in impact, PRAT, and conveying the emotion of the music though. The emotion I hear in Mick Jones' voice in The Card Cheat off London Calling is far greater with the Edition 9 than the D5000. I'm just more moved by the music with the Edition 9's. The power and visceral impact of Rage Against the Machine on the D5000 is just greater with the Edition 9. The D5000 is pleasant to listen to, but it's just a little too polite for my tastes. Whether the MD5000 adds the missing impact with a tighter bass, and if it does, whether it's enough, I don't know. Or maybe there is some other mod that would. If I ever get the time, I would like to try modding it. (There's just too many things I want to do and not enough time!)

While ranking headphones is way too simplistic and unhelpful, it does serve as some sort of summary with all of the explaination from above.
In terms of sound quality, I would rank them: Edition 9, D5000, modded-DX1000, DB 770, RS-1, DX1000
In terms of 'music quality', I would rank them:Edition 9, modded-DX1000, RS-1, D5000, DB 770, DX1000
In terms of comfort, I would rank them: D5000, DB 770, Edition 9, DX1000, modded-DX1000, RS-1
In terms of what I would grab to listen to:Edition 9, modded-DX1000, D5000, RS-1, DB 770, DX1000

Again, all of these observations are just my opinions. Nor is my aim to be as close to 'neutral' or 'accurate' or whatever. I listen for pleasure and to be moved by the listening experience, and so my aim is to create the most pleasurable listening experience possible, with little physical and zero audio fatigue. If the most pleaureable is the most accurate, great, if not, I could care less. Again, I can make the same headphone sound great in one system and sound dead in another. I am trying to find the best configuration for each unique system. Mixing and matching at a meet might not tell me the whole truth. The real question is which system can I build and configure that best synergizes all of the different componants to satisfy me. I am not saying my system is the best for all these different headphones. In fact I am continually modifying mine and have made several changes during the course of writing this up. Maybe a very different amp would make the D5000's much better than my MPX3->Edition 9 system. I don't know. I would love to hear a Supra (I can't believe I just missed one on the For Sale forum!), a Rudistor, and many other amplifiers. I would love to hear a balanced Edition 9. The R-10 again. A PS-1. A top quality HE-90 system. A modded SACD player. etc. etc. I may like some of those better than what I have now, but maybe I won't. I am satisfied now, and don't have upgraditis, but I also want to keep going on this journey of discovery just for the fun of it and the hope for an even better musical experience.


For those that care, here is a list of songs I heavily use for demonstrating and doing comparisons. My list of reference songs has changed over the years. Usually I drop songs because as my system has gotten better and more resolving, I've found my previous reference songs were not as good as I thought. In addition, as I have aquired more music, new songs will grab me as good ones to demo to other people and listen to over and over during comparisons or have some aspect that's important to get right with different componants.

Abigail Washburn - Song of the Traveling Daughter - Sometimes
Abra Moore - On the Way - Take Care of Me
Alison Krauss & Union Station - New Favorite - New Favorite
Baby Gramps - Rogue's Gallery - Disc 1 - Cape Cod Girls
Blondie - Greatist Hits - The Tide Is High
Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home - She Belongs to Me
Bob Dylan - Love And Theft - Summer Days
Brian Setzer & The Nashvillains - Red Hot & Live! - Put Your Cat Clothes On
Dropkick Murphys - The Meanest of Times - Rude Awakenings
Emmylou Harris - The Grass Is Always Bluer - Deeper Well
Eric Bibb - A Ship Called Love - A Ship Called Love
Eric Clapton - Reptile - Second Nature
Eric Clapton - Unplugged - Hey Hey
Eva Cassidy - Live At Blues Alley - Fields Of Gold
Four Men and a Dog - Shifting Gravel - Joh
Four Men and a Dog - Shifting Gravel - I'm Walkin'
Front 242 - Front By Front - Never Stop! V1.0
George Thorogood & The Destroyers - 30 Years Of Rock (Greatest Hits) - Madison Blues
Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree - A&E
Hoku - Hoku - Another Dumb Blonde
INXS - Hard - Suicide Blonde
Isaac Stern, New York Philharmonic & Zubin Mehta - Brahms: Violin Concerto - Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 61: I. Allegro Ma non Troppo
Jace Everett - Jace Everett - Bad Things
Jeremy Fisher - Goodbye Blue Monday - Scar That Never Heals
Jesse Autumn - The Black Rose - Donegal Lass
Jesse Autumn - The Black Rose - Sammy's Bar
Jesse Autumn and Friends - California Celt - Faerie Tune
Joe Bonamassa - Blues deluxe - Burning Hell
Joshua Radin - Unclear Sky - The Fear You Won't Fall
Keb' Mo' - Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Keb' Mo' - Soon As I Get Paid
Keb' Mo' - Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Keb' Mo' - Every Morning
Kelley Polar - I Need You to Hold On While the Sky Is Falling - Entropy Reigns (In the Celestial City)
Langhorne Slim - When the Sun's Gone Down - Drowning
Langhorne Slim - When the Sun's Gone Down - Loretta Lee Jones
Langhorne Slim - When the Sun's Gone Down - Hope and Fullfillment
Leon & Eric Bibb - A Family Affair - There's a River
Lindstrøm - I Feel Space EP - I Feel Space
Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories - Tails - Stay (I Missed You)*
Mavis Staples - We'll Never Turn Back - 99 and 1/2
Mavis Staples - We'll Never Turn Back - Jesus Is On The Main Line
Murdoch, Alexi - Time Without Consequence - Blue Mind
Nickel Creek - This Side - Spit on a Stranger
Norah Jones - Come Away With Me - Come Away With Me
Pain of Salvation - Scarsick - Scarsick
Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name
Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine - Bullet in the Head
Renee Olstead - Renee Olstead - What A Difference A Day Makes
Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous - It's A Hit
Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous - A Man / Me / Then Jim
Rockapella - Smilin' - Shambala
Rush - Remastered - Limelight
Shiny Toy Guns - We Are Pilots - Le Disko
The Clash - London Calling - The Card Cheat
The Doors - Morrison Hotel - Roadhouse Blues
The Doors - Morrison Hotel - Indian Summer
The Fairfield Four - Standing In The Safety Zone - Last Month Of The Year
The Who - Live at Leeds Deluxe Edition - Disc 1 - Young Man Blues
The Who - Live at Leeds Deluxe Edition - Disc 1 - Summertime Blues
The Who - The Ultimate Collection (Disc 1) - I Can See for Miles
The Who - The Ultimate Collection (Disc 2) - Let's See Action
The Who - The Ultimate Collection (Disc 2) - Join Together
The Who - The Ultimate Collection (Disc 2) - Who Are You
The Who - Tommy Deluxe Edition - Disk 1 - Christmas
U2 - The Best Of 1980-1990 CD2 - (The B-Sides) - Sweetest Thing
 
Nov 12, 2008 at 9:49 PM Post #2 of 77

bdh

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Reserved for possible photos.
 
Nov 12, 2008 at 10:08 PM Post #3 of 77

Blackmore

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Dear mamma, wow, how much time you spended to write this
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Nice, very nice, thanks. Something are missing up here, oh yeah, AKG K1000 and GS1000, yes, thats it...
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Nov 12, 2008 at 10:31 PM Post #4 of 77

nor_spoon

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I did not finish yet, and need to continue tomorrow, but nice read so far. My eyes are sore
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Thank you for this. Looking forward to start on the headphone section next.
 
Nov 12, 2008 at 10:45 PM Post #5 of 77

Orcin

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Great post! Bravo! Well done.

I feel like I just had a one-hour conversation with you about your systems and all things head-fi. It's too bad that you could not hear all of the times that I said "absolutely", "I agree", "no way", and "what are you talking about again?". You'll just have to take my word for it that it was a great conversation.

I certainly do appreciate the 50 hours that you must have spent to type it all out.
 
Nov 12, 2008 at 11:05 PM Post #6 of 77

dclancy

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Yikes, I've only read a portion of this, very nice!
I'll have to sit with a cup of coffee and finish the article.
Very thorough. I'm impressed and grateful for your insight.
 
Nov 12, 2008 at 11:14 PM Post #7 of 77

bdh

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I probably only spent about 12-15 hours writing and then proof-reading. Everything was already up in my head as I formed my opinions over the past couple of years. The most time was spent listening over the past couple of months as I took a little time here and a little time there to write. I just kept on listening rather than writing.
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I could easily write something twice as long, as I hardly wrote any detailed comparisons of sound between all the different componants. You know, detailed descriptions of bass, mids, treble, soundstage, imaging, etc. It would just be too complicated and overwhelming. And that's not really how I decide what I like better anyway.
 
Nov 12, 2008 at 11:33 PM Post #9 of 77

sacd lover

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This was a nice write up.
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Thanks .... I bet this took a lot of time.

Now a few comments ....

6BL7GT/A and 6BX7GT tubes are 6.3 volt tubes and will become damaged and die @ 12.6 volts.

I agree wholeheartedly .... the 2C51 > 6BL7GTA is my favorite tube combo in the MPX3 SLAM SE .... no doubt.
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The output tube you referance is the 5998/ 5998A; not 5889.

I usally prefer the Amperex 7062 > TS 6AS7G in my Extreme with Alessandros .... and I have left this tube combo in for months. The 2C51 probably works better with the 5998 because the 5998 is a higher gain tube. The 6AS7G has a mu/gain of 1.5-2 vs a mu/ gain of 5.4 with the 5998, thus making less demands on the 2C51. The 6BL7GTA has a mu/ gain of 15-16 and is an easy load for the 2C51 to drive.
 
Nov 12, 2008 at 11:48 PM Post #11 of 77

bdh

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sacd lover /img/forum/go_quote.gif
6BL7GT/A and 6BX7GT tubes are 6.3 volt tubes and will become damaged and die @ 12.6 volts.


???
I thought the whole SE option of the MPX3, where you can set the output to 12V was to drive the 6BL7GT's at 12.6 volts. Yes, I knew they would die quicker than running at 6 volts, but is there some other tube the 12V outputs were designed for? 12sn7's? I'm quite sure it was Mikhail who said it was to drive the 6BL7GT's at 12V. Hmmm. They do sound great at 6V, but even better at 12V.
 
Nov 13, 2008 at 12:25 AM Post #12 of 77

kimragone

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One of the best reviews I've seen in a long time. Thanks for taking the time to do it.
 
Nov 13, 2008 at 12:44 AM Post #13 of 77

Henmyr

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Really great review
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It took a rather long time to the whole novel, but WELL worth it. Very well written and drool-producing
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The ED9 is once again on my map.
 
Nov 13, 2008 at 3:33 AM Post #15 of 77
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Very interesting. I hope you'll mod your D5000s and write up your thoughts afterwards.
 

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