PHONON SMB-02 - HOLY GRAIL
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mbamg

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Quote:
thanks for the appraisal guys. anyhow, I paid 350.00  plus tax for them and am going back for another pair for safe-keeping. ....shhhh... the wife need not know.
 
I am planning on picking up a woo audio amp to replace my cosmic sometime next month. be quite interesting how that would pair with the Phonons as it is leaning towards a warm-sounding headphone. anyone?
 
Mind sending a pair to some of the more well-known reviewers on this forum? Considering their price most wouldn't be willing to spend that much just to try them out. The more people that can review these the better.
 
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post-8780094
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Armaegis

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Quote:
 
Mind sending a pair to some of the more well-known reviewers on this forum? Considering their price most wouldn't be willing to spend that much just to try them out. The more people that can review these the better.
 
I might be interested...
 
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post-8780649
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MattTCG

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I would also be interested...
 
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post-8780670
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GREQ

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Also 20-20,000Hz aren't the most reassuring frequency specs. That just screams 'standard cheap driver', but as we all know that's not always the case.
 
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Posam

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Also 20-20,000Hz aren't the most reassuring frequency specs. That just screams 'standard cheap driver', but as we all know that's not always the case.
That Is all the human ear can hear and besides most high end headphones don't do anything higher or lower without significant dropoffs in sound level. 
 
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GREQ

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Quote:
That Is all the human ear can hear and besides most high end headphones don't do anything higher or lower without significant dropoffs in sound level. 
While it is true the ear can only HEAR those frequencies, the ear can also FEEL deeper and (depending on the individual) higher frequencies, so the extreme numbers in other headphones aren't just marketing nonsense. 
I don't want my headphone to be just barely able to do 20Hz at a stretch, I want it to sing 20Hz with ease - headphones with those capabilities just sound better to my ears.
 
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phatalleycat

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So I was able to obtain a pair of very nice Audio Technica ATH 900 x closed headphones for 225.00, 
 
the air and spatial separation of instruments is very good. It's immediately noticeable that it is a warm pair of headphones, the top end might leave some to be desired because its a little grainy, but overall its a very nice pair of mid-fi headphones. Soundstage is a little bigger than the Phonons, but here is the big separator, instruments sound very distanced and not engaging on the ATH 900x, which may be a good thing as some really care about neutrality, but even then, its a very boring sound it puts out and its a gentleman's headphone, never is it obtrusive. The Phonons are a whole different pair of headphones, the mids are so so so so damn sweet and the low end is so deep an full of impact and overlays with textures. Dont get me wrong the ATH 900x are very tight sounding, but it just does not have the intimacy, sweetness, and musicality of the Phonons. That's a lot of points for the Phonons here. While soundstage is not quite as big and airy, the sound of the Phonons are very very very seducive. That is why the ATH 900x are going back. btw, have been listening to the ATH 900x for nearly 25 hours. I believe it was enough time to burn them in as the sound did open up much after the first 2 hours through my Headroom Cosmic. Because they are a bargain, I might contemplate keeping the ATH 900x, but I can't seem to get the Phonons off of my head at this moment. In the end the 900x might just probably end up back at the store for a refund. Keep you guys posted. 
 
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phatalleycat

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Phonon's company heads Alex Pratt and Isao Kumano have been in contact with me and thank me for getting the headphones out there. I was informed that they are a very small start up operation and are working with limited resources so currently they only have 100 pairs of Phonon SMB-02s left in stock in Japan. Their goal is to get more dealerships over here in United States and have more highly-acclaimed reviews from not only customers but also high-end publications as well. Their original purpose was to provide to professional studio environment a finer alternative than what is mass-marketed out there. But, with limited resources coming up with a completely new design would eat into the operation really quickly with high risk potential even with a stellar product. So, with the promisingly positive reception of the first release, the Phonon SMB-01s - truly based on the ATH-m30 Audio Technicas, they decided to put further efforts and refinement into the sequel, SMB-02s. I never got the chance to try the SMB-01s, but I have the SMB-02s and these are the only pair of headphones that I have listened to in the past 3 weeks since getting them.
 
I wish Phonon the best am I am a believer in their technology and science behind the music. It might seem psuedo-science to skeptics, to some of us in the audio world, like myself, we are always looking for the very sound that brings back those very smiles and memories  experiences we share with our loved ones and personal feats/tribulations.The coziness of SMB-02s envelope me into a different world, away from my troubles, and allow me to reminisce and embrace the goodness of life admist the cogs that are constantly turning inside my head. There is a whole other level of appreciaton for such a product, these were the result of very passionate guys within the industry who wanted to bring a new flavor to the table and express to the world their perception of what hi-end sound ought to sound like based on decades of experience throughout the many facets of professional and hi-end audio.
 
I know it sounds like I work for Phonon, but I don't. I am just so happy with the sound of the headphones that I cannot wait to try out their other products.
 
I have spent time with my Phonons at work, at home, gardening outside (trying to be very careful) and they are just so damn comfortable and unpretentious, never yearning to ask for your appraisal of their treble, mids, or lows, that you are able to completely enjoy the music the way it was meant to be enjoyed, pacing, timbre, transitions from verses to chorus, dynamics, all so subtle yet so cohesive.
 
I am now at the 200 hour mark with my Phonons and am ready to purchase the 2nd pair from Stereo Exchange. Or maybe even directly from Alex Prat himself as he is the international representative of Phonon. He is based in New York per our brief interaction through email.
 
During late night hours, the most remarkable aspect I find of these headphones are its ability to provide full spectrum low volume playback. From top to bottom, nothing is missing. So, fluid and clear, yet so much energy and drive without being 'pretentious', which is a good thing. No grainy, sibilance here at all. complete lack of grain and sibilance. female vocals make you want to know your singer on a deeper level. oo these are soo soo very close to audio nirvana for me.
 
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phatalleycat

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Sent Isao Kumano of Phonon the email regarding sending a pair to Tyll for a demo. Hope he responds well.
 
Sit tight.....
 
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vinniemontoni

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phatalleycat, thank you for your review of the phonon SMB-02.  I actually own a pair that I got in May for my birthday.  Like you I have had a long history in this hobby but normally I stay in the sidelines.  I will second your experience with these headphones.  I have never been much of a headphone fan as most of my listenting is done on my main system.  However, I've been putting together a bedroom system in the past few months as my neighbors recently had issues with my late night listening sessions.  Anyway, I listened to several headphones for over a month (Senn 600's, Grado RS2's, AKG 702's) based mostly on reviews and went to different places in NYC to listen.  After I went to Stereo Exchange and Alan let me test these with a Peachtree Inova I never turned back.  I found new things in all my reference tracks (Fiona Apple, Brubeck, Dark Side of the Moon, Rickie Lee Jones, Grateful Dead, Stan Getz, Mozart, Bethoven) but the musicality is what really hooked me. I bought them on the spot and it has been a great experience.  As a matter fact I doubted myself after I went home and tried to find reviews to no avail.  However, I followed my ears and have been very happy.  I do agree with you that the Sennheiser 600's have a wider soundstage and I do like the around the ear feel better than the over the ear feel, and i do like open ear headphones but these are very musical and overall were my preferred choice.  I may still get the Senn 600's next year but the Phonons have been a great match for my idecco.  Thanks for posting and sharing additional information about them. 
 
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VisceriousZERO

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I just got this headphone from Stereo Exchange and from my initial time with it I can say that its a great headphone, not really the best of the best out there but one of them. Also I can say its really picky with its amps before it really shines.
 
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tomb

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Agreed - $350 for a Sony MDR-V6 clone but with circular drivers.  That's pretty much a rip-off no matter how well they sound, IMHO.  This whole thing makes me suspicious.  I read an article in the Times online today where they were the only headphones even mentioned (I don't count Beats) out of an entire story about modern stereo and old-timer audiophiles.  They used the same phrase, "Holy Grail" for headphones.  I read closely to see which model Stax they were talking about - imagine my surprise at a V6 clone!

 
I've never commented before on headphones that I haven't even heard, but this smells ...
 
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jupitreas

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Buy they dont look like the V6 at all? The V6 does not have those vents, for one thing...
 
I gotta say, I am fairly interested in these. I like their 'crappy' design aesthetics, there is something that rubs me the wrong way about all of these fashion conscious headphones out there and a design that is geared towards the best sound reproduction instead of bling looks is a good thing in my book (just look at the ugly but sonically brilliant Beyerdynamic DT250 or German Maestro GMP400). When/if my current go-to closed headphone, the Sennheiser Amperior, dies on me, I think this SMB-02 is something I will check out. The only thing I find to be problematic is that they seem to have rather low-quality pleather earpads (judging by the photos) and these tend to be very uncomfortable for me. Would be nice to hear some pad-rolling impressions with velour or real leather (Jergpad perhaps?) pads.
 
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