PHONON SMB-02 - HOLY GRAIL
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tomb

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You gotta be kidding:

 
Except for the circular cans and a little circle "thingy" on the ends of the headbands, they're almost identical.  What really clinches it is the pleather.  Even their website says,
 
Quote:
The earpads may deteriorate with use, and influence the sound quality of the headphone. We recommend changing the earpads approximately every 2 years. (first time exchange fee is 2000 yen - without shipping)
V6's pad deterioration is well known and documented.  That's why everyone recommends DT-250 or Pearstone velour pads.  It's the #1 mod to Sony V6's.
 
So, what we have here is the Chinese manufacturer ... taking what they learned from manufacturing the Sony's through sub-contract ... changing a bit of the geometry ... and then hiring some shills to promote it ... "Holy Grail."
 
Sorry ... I'm not impressed.
 
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jupitreas

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You might be right, this could just be an overhyped average product, but I am still somewhat intrigued. I don't think they look so much like the v6, have you ever owned one? The V6 is actually rather well built considering its price and its a somewhat classy looking headphone, while the SMB-02 has a bit more of a blocky plastic look, that reminds me of the M-Audio Q40 around the hinges. Its not a pretty headphone but perhaps in real life they might look understated and professional, like the V6 does. 
 

 
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tomb

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I've owned V6's since the 80's - several pairs.
 
There are obviously minor differences - I said the drivers are circular and the V6's are not, then it looks like they take an extra bend in the headphone prior to the can, whereas the Sony uses a hinged link at that point, but my goodness - the overall headband, gimbals, cable routing to the drivers, pads, etc. are all almost the same.
 
The Sony's are $65-$70 these days, while they want $300+ for the "Holy Grail."
 
Take a look at the other stuff they sell: 
  1. contact cleaner with "nanodiamonds?"
  2. two types of "vibrating instruments" to enhance speaker response?
  3. a "rack" device that does this, and I quote:
Quote:
The NTC RACK helps your recover the sound's sense of speed that is lost from incomplete signal transfer.
 
The NTC improves the phase characteristics while the SND improves the speed. By combining both, you will strengthen the potency of your center-located sound, as well as enhancing the sense of rhythm.
 

 
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RPGWiZaRD

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$350 headphones with $5 synthetic leather pads? ln fact those looks identical to M-Audio Q40 pads that will have its pleather starting crack after 2-3 years of careful use (mine started after about 2 years but yea I'm a heavyweight user with 3hrs+/day). :)
 
I'm glad at least some1 focuses on sound quality as primary focus though, this one is primarily targeted towards studio monitoring use it seems.
 
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autoteleology

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There's no reason to be using such cheap padding material for such an expensive headphone. For only a small amount of extra money, they could have chosen a much more comfortable and audibly superior material; this just looks like they took shortcuts in order to boost a profit margin. I understand that there are points of diminishing returns, but this is ridiculous. I expect at least Shure-type pleather at this price point.
 
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jupitreas

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To be fair though, it is impossible to judge the pleather's quality just by looking at it, one would need to feel it to really know what they are like. I will admit that judging by looks alone, they don't seem to be of very high quality....
 
Furthermore, since Tomb pointed out the other products that this manufacturer sells, I will admit that my enthusiasm for these has diminished significantly. I'm definitely still interested in simple closed designs that put an emphasis on sound quality, but the Phonon SMB-02 no longer looks like such a good choice for me.
 
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sponte

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I bought these headphones and I am also astonished by how great they are.  I have had lots of headphones, Grado, Sennheiser, Stax, Denon, all high end, and the truth is the Phonons sound way better.  They are the most organic sounding headphones I have ever heard.  The music that comes out of them are so natural, so right, so easy to listen to that in very short order you stop thinking about headphones and start enjoying the music.  They are very comfortable and natural to wear, they sound great driven just by my iPhone and iPod, they sound better when driven by a dedicated headphone amp, and they are well worth the money.  They look crappy, yes, but oh oh, they sound really alive.  A great product.
 
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GREQ

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  I bought these headphones and I am also astonished by how great they are.  I have had lots of headphones, Grado, Sennheiser, Stax, Denon, all high end, and the truth is the Phonons sound way better.  They are the most organic sounding headphones I have ever heard.  The music that comes out of them are so natural, so right, so easy to listen to that in very short order you stop thinking about headphones and start enjoying the music.  They are very comfortable and natural to wear, they sound great driven just by my iPhone and iPod, they sound better when driven by a dedicated headphone amp, and they are well worth the money.  They look crappy, yes, but oh oh, they sound really alive.  A great product.
Obvious troll is obvious.
 
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silverbox

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Quote:
   I have had lots of headphones, Grado, Sennheiser, Stax, Denon, all high end, and the truth is the Phonons sound way better.  They are the most organic sounding headphones I have ever heard. 
 
Seems legit.
 
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VisceriousZERO

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They're good, but they're not that good. Honestly I expected wider Soundstage.
 
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hi,
 
long time reader, first time poster.
 
Does anyone know about the DS-DAC edition that Phonon has out? Apparently it's 'tuned' for use with a Korg DAC. I'll generally be using a Peachtree DAC, but the other version is the only one that is available to me.
http://phonon-inc.com/en/products/smb-02-ds-dac/
 
Any thoughts?
 
Cheers.
 
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Machair

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Hi,
 
Does anyone know about the DS-DAC edition that Phonon has made of the SMB-02s? It's on their website. Apparently it's tuned for use with a Korg DAC.
Does this make it unsuitable for use with other DACs? (I'll mainly be using a Peachtree iNova).
 
Unfortunately, the new edition is the only one that's available to me at the moment.
 
Cheers.
 
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nilss

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I am in the same situation as Machair - can only get my hands on the DS-DAC edition.
 
Has anyone used the DS-DAC edition with a different headphone amp than the Korg DAC-10? Keen to get a pair but can't find much information on these. Hesitant to buy as it says it was made 'exclusively' for Korg unit.
 
Thanks
 
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skullguise

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Bit of a necro-bump.  Was in NYC this past weekend, stopped at Stereo Exchange.  Nice folks, but when I was sitting in the open area off the entrance listening to the Phonon's, one of the sales guys brought someone over and was talking loudly and playing music on a system, literally 4-5 feet in front of me.  Granted they are there to sell things, but at least acknowledge I'm there and explain you'll be demo'ing something.  The Phonon's block some external noise, but not a ton, especially that loud and close.
 
In any case, I listened for probably 20+ minutes there, and bought the phones.  Had a very nice chat with the sales guy about Loreena McKennitt and Bruins and Rangers hockey (it may have been Alan, that others have mentioned; forgot his name, shorter guy with a beard).
 
Listened more at home, and now at work driven by a Meridian Explorer and a range of 16/44 thru 24/192 FLAC.
 
Have to say I'm pretty impressed.  Indeed, they look a bit cheap for $350, and the pads are so-so.  But all that has been said about good sound quality is basically true IMO.  It has a very slight fullness (compared to my NAD HP50) that is not really colored but I find it very pleasing.  One of my favorite work listens is Agnes Obel, Aventine.  Pretty good recording, mellow piano and vocal music.  Piano sounds dynamic and full, and the detail of the impact on the piano strings can be eerie good.  There are also some cello parts that sounds slightly warm but very detailed.
 
There seems to be a very slight sheen in the upper mids, again compared to the NAD.  But it is not annoying at all, and I only have about 10 hours on these, so it may settle down.  The bass is a little fuller than the NAD, which I find pretty deep and very tight.  The Phonon is a maybe even a bit deeper, and a little looser so it seems.  NOT fat and uncontrolled, just that same fullness I hear elsewhere.  Again, may settle some with time.
 
Finally, the previous notes about soundstage and imaging seem spot on.  Not a wide soundstage, I think the NAD as another closed phone may be a bit bigger, but the sense of instruments or voice in a specific space is very clear and precise.
 
A little rambling, but bottom line is that these are very good phones.  I think I like them already in this work system a bit more than the NAD, but will need to listen to more music (especially of different types) to be sure.
 
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VisceriousZERO

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  Bit of a necro-bump.  Was in NYC this past weekend, stopped at Stereo Exchange.  Nice folks, but when I was sitting in the open area off the entrance listening to the Phonon's, one of the sales guys brought someone over and was talking loudly and playing music on a system, literally 4-5 feet in front of me.  Granted they are there to sell things, but at least acknowledge I'm there and explain you'll be demo'ing something.  The Phonon's block some external noise, but not a ton, especially that loud and close.
 
In any case, I listened for probably 20+ minutes there, and bought the phones.  Had a very nice chat with the sales guy about Loreena McKennitt and Bruins and Rangers hockey (it may have been Alan, that others have mentioned; forgot his name, shorter guy with a beard).
 
Listened more at home, and now at work driven by a Meridian Explorer and a range of 16/44 thru 24/192 FLAC.
 
Have to say I'm pretty impressed.  Indeed, they look a bit cheap for $350, and the pads are so-so.  But all that has been said about good sound quality is basically true IMO.  It has a very slight fullness (compared to my NAD HP50) that is not really colored but I find it very pleasing.  One of my favorite work listens is Agnes Obel, Aventine.  Pretty good recording, mellow piano and vocal music.  Piano sounds dynamic and full, and the detail of the impact on the piano strings can be eerie good.  There are also some cello parts that sounds slightly warm but very detailed.
 
There seems to be a very slight sheen in the upper mids, again compared to the NAD.  But it is not annoying at all, and I only have about 10 hours on these, so it may settle down.  The bass is a little fuller than the NAD, which I find pretty deep and very tight.  The Phonon is a maybe even a bit deeper, and a little looser so it seems.  NOT fat and uncontrolled, just that same fullness I hear elsewhere.  Again, may settle some with time.
 
Finally, the previous notes about soundstage and imaging seem spot on.  Not a wide soundstage, I think the NAD as another closed phone may be a bit bigger, but the sense of instruments or voice in a specific space is very clear and precise.
 
A little rambling, but bottom line is that these are very good phones.  I think I like them already in this work system a bit more than the NAD, but will need to listen to more music (especially of different types) to be sure.
 
 
That's probably Alan, he's the guy who sold me my Phonons xD
 
I enjoy them too but I tend to look towards my Alpha Dogs and TH900s for closed-back. Nice to have in a collection though.
 
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