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PSB M4U1 - Thoughts?

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by swmtnbiker, Nov 13, 2012.
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  1. JML

    I did, too.  But I sold both.
  2. Illustrator76
    I was deciding between the Bowers & Wilkins P7s and The PSB M4U 1s, and one of the biggest reasons why I went with the P7s was because of this. I kept hearing that the PSBs were heavy, bulky, looked pretty big on your head, and some people even reported their headaches while wearing them. I'm still interested in a pair because of their sonic qualities, but the issues that I listed really concern me, so I am still very hesitant to buy a pair.
    Durability was also a concern for me because of the plastic shell that had cracking issues initially but that seems to be rectified now.
  3. Bansaku

    OMG, Tyll, I am so sorry, and feel incredibly red-faced. I have the mind of a genius but dyslexic to the degree that I mix up Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds, or James Woods with Geoffrey Rush, and in this case you and Innerfidelity with buddy over at Headfonia. It was late last night and I was working on another cable project for the M4U 1 when I made the post and should have done a quick Google search to reference my remarks. You da' man Tyll and are both highly respected and envied by me (I wish I did what you do for a living).
  4. Bansaku
    Ok, time for MK. II of my cable mod. Got busy late last night and into the wee hours of the morning, cutting myself and inhaling too much solder fumes, but well worth it.
    Here is what I did.
    1) I chose a good quality Nexxtech 3.5mm cable and split it in two the coloured the leads with the wife's nail polish.
    2) I had an old really high quality double insulated USB cable and cut it to length; This is an excellent choice for the cable as it has four insulated strands which gives L/R it's own return channel.
    3) Connected the L/R leads to the USB cable, then sleeved and taped. 
    4) Soldered the leads from the USB to a 3.5mm project plug. Heat shrank over the connections followed by tape and some loom as a cable relief.
    5) After doing some reading (which prompted me to this new project) on shielding, balancing, and the effects of RFI and EMI, it got me thinking that it would be of benefit to clip on a ceramic shelled magnet over the Y junction. This not only helps re-enforce the connected wire, but alleviates any potential EMI and RFI caused by the plethora of electronic in close proximity. I just happened to have one laying around but they normally retail for about $20 wholesale.
    While I believe the quality of cable matters, sometimes the average listener can not hear any sonic difference between the stock or upgraded. For example, the cable upgrade for my HD598 made a subtle yet noticeable improvement to my ears, yet others with the same cable do not hear any difference. So how does this cable sound? Phenomenal and very apparent and noticeable improvement in the SQ.
    While I could easily write a whole review on my work, I will instead give the cliff notes.
    - Vast improvement in overal detail and transparency. Hard to quantify but I would say a good 20%!
    - Instrument separation and space noticeably improved.
    - Treble gets more air and more sparkle. Highly noticeable with cymbals.
    - Greater impact in mid-bass and slightly more weight in the sub-bass.
    - Midrange no longer has slight grain/glare at higher volumes with highly compressed music.
        - Highly compressed music sounds worse with flaws in MP3s more easily heard.
    - Black space got blacker, while at the same time I could greater discern the tape hiss on certain recordings.
    - Overall, a much smoother sound with greater left/right driver cohesion. 
    I so wish I could demo this cable for you all. The upgrade in overall sound quality is undeniable.
    SoonerCaniac likes this.
  5. tekshow
    My soldering skills haven't been used in a while... as in since college. So uhhhh any chance there's a similar cable online? That looks amazing! Great job man!
    My portable amp should arrive tomorrow I'm interested to see how the M4U 1's respond to some gain. Seriously though, I'd pay for one of your cables in a heartbeat.
  6. Bansaku

    Thank you. I originally decided to make my own after my exhausting search for a headphone Y-cable. Unfortunately the only ones that exist are stereo 3.5mm to dual 3.5mm mono. Not a problem if one to rewire the M4U 1, which eventually I will. See my next post for an update on my Mk. IV cable.
    To be honest I have thought about ordering some proper sized plugs (3.5mm and 6.35mm) and possibly a more playable cable and seeing if I can make a professional looking cable. I joked about selling custom cables with my wife after I explained what I was doing and after an A/B listen she was impressed enough to reply back maybe you should make more and sell them. Not a bad idea but I can't discuss that possibility in this thread.
  7. intlsubband
    My impression is that it doesn't particularly scale well. It is optimised for use with low-powered sources and I think it has a very low max power intake as well.
  8. Bansaku
    Heyas folks, time for an update on my cable mod. After messing around with some more ideas, I settled for this final design I am calling " The Cable I built From *** around my house MK. IV ".
    But first I would like to explain some embarrassing design choices by PSB. The pictures below show what type of wires (and the mess) are used. While I am no expert, I do know exactly what type of wire should be used in specific applications and why; I have worked with literally hundreds of typed of wire and cable of various construction and design, including copper, silver, and platinum, shielded, unshielded, twisted, solid...you get the idea. The types of wires used in the M4U 1 is comparable to cheap 'dollar store' earbuds, literally. 
    Pictured here is the stock PSB cable and a cheap $1 earbud cable. Sad.
    casque_PSB_M4U1-3.jpg IMG_20141220_105701.jpg

    Notice the same wires used for the inside. While the right photo is of the M4U 2, thus a few more wires present, it does show what type of mess is hiding behind the plate.
    You can see why I wanted a new balanced cable. Just think what is happening to the sound when it enters one cup and goes through that rat's nest to the driver and on to the other cup. I highly suspect that is why there is so much bad microphonics present on the actual headphones (more on this below). I am not brave enough to rewire the inside yet, but it is on my things to do list for the future.
    Anyway, on to my cable. I had a few feet left on an old spool of 28 gauge 4 wire double shielded data cable that is perfect for this application. I doubled up the leads so now the +/- have 2 wires each per side. As well, both left/right cable feed separately right down to the 3.5mm input lead.
    70005325_large.jpg IMG_1293.jpg
    Because of the very narrow opening for the plug insert on the cups finding a usable 3.5mm plug was difficult. Every electronics retailer only carried plugs that were way too large to fit, so split and I cut down my Ultralink 3.5mm interconnect cable so it had a 1" lead, and sanded/shaved the diameter of the plugs so that they could fit.
    IMG_1292.jpg IMG_0067.jpg
    Using some heat shrink and sleeving I fancied up the cable (for practical reasons). You will notice that the cable has 2 ferro core EFI/RFI dampeners. Originally I had planned to push the black one over the input lead but it would not go all the way down (despite me doing a trial fit before I soldered). So I placed the clamp on one over the leading figure having a second wouldn't hurt. I fact having 2 in series actually reduces the click of my DAC changing sample rates and if I place them up against each other I can't hear the click at all.
    IMG_0083.jpg IMG_0088.jpg
    IMG_0064.jpg IMG_0061.jpg
    So how does it sound? Amazing! However I do want to call myself out on my last post and say while it was correct, it was B.S.! I have a bad habit of saying things expecting others to know what I know and therefore assume people know where I am coming from. Let me back things up and explain.
    The headphone cable is literally the weakest link in your chain, just like any interconnect. In the case of analogue signals cable quality does matter more than one may think. What a good cable will do is not enhance anything rather disappears from the chain. What this does is allows the listener to fully appreciate both the source (DAC/Amp) and the output (headphones). So when I say that with my new cable everything is more clear or clean, I hear enhanced bass, smoother mids, and more detailed treble along with a more expansive, almost holographic soundstage , it is both accurate and at the same time not correct. A cable is passive. It does nothing but allow a signal through. It is like looking out a dirty window, and then you clean both sides. This does nothing but allows you to see clearly; In the case of sound total transparency. The glass does not enhance the colour or contrast. Much like how dirty glass can actually cause the light to glare (appearing brighter than it is), so does an inefficient and poor quality cable.
    The 'Song Three For All' is one I used for my review. I listened to that song about a dozen times in a row and know every nuance, or so I thought. What I hear with my Mk. IV vs the stock PSB is striking. Just off to the right is a sound of one of the guitarist tapping his foot on the floor. With the stock cable I could hear it but never knew what it was. I had actually assumed that it was the sound of the 'flick of the pick' coming off the last string hard. With the Mk. IV I clearly hear it is a shoe. In fact I can tell what type of sole of on the shoe. The sound is apparent and transparent and easily discernible. Going back to the stock cable I do hear that the sound is the tapping of the shoe, but it os not as upfront and hard to hear; It is akin to hearing a song for years and not knowing the lyrics, then you read them and it sticks even though you still cannot hear the words as they are your brain fills in for you. 
    The overall presentation is much more detailed and smooth. The main guitar off to the left sounds muddled and smeared on the stock cable. At first it sounds more up front but after switching to the Mk. IV it is clearly heard that the notes on the stock is literally blending in the notes making them sound dull and without sparkle. In fact at the 1:30 mark in the song after song vigorous strumming the 3rd guitar that is the most subtle of the three virtually disappears when using the stock cable whereas the Mk. IV I not only clearly hear it, it has life and twinkle.
    In terms of soundstage, the stock cable is flat and dull. I can easily discern the nuances of my iPod, iPod Touch, iPhone 5, and my UD-H01's DAC/Amp. The Mk. IV the sound out of my Teac UD-H01 is almost holographic. The whole frequency spectrum seems to come alive, tickling my eardrums with excitement (no seriously, it does tickle my eardrums in a blissful way). Anything brass has greater bite whether it be cymbals or horns. Bass is more tight and taut. Midrange is more smooth and detailed. Female vocals have a more delicate touch. All in all, I hear the quality of my DAC for what it truly is.
    What is interesting is that after I was doing some testing and A/Bing, I started to unwind and listen to some random songs from my 24-Bit HD audio playlist. Song after song I just wasn't satisfied with what I was hearing. Something wasn't right and I assumed it was listening fatigue. I ignored it until my cat jumped up on my lap and pulled out the right cable...and the left driver cut out. I plugged the cable back in and pulled out the left cable and the right driver went out. Whoops, I had mixed up the sides so the left cable was feeding the right driver from the left jack, and vice versa so essentially the signal from the jack  was transversing the maze of wires from one side to the other. After swapping sides the sound came alive and slapped me across the face, thus validating my theory that the internal wires are poop! This alone has really really tempted me in re-wiring the internals.
    Anyway, all in all I am happy with my Mk. IV balanced cable, especially since all it cost me was time. I do have plans on ordering probably some Sennheiser 3.5mm mini plugs from Alliexpress and seeing if the fit, and probably include an 1/4" plug for my next cable project. Anyone considering doing a similar cable, the rewards are worth it.
    intlsubband likes this.
  9. diamondears
    What an outstanding headphone. I was looking for a HP that will solve my NAD HP50's comfort issues but if same SQ so I went to its sister company's HP--the PSB M4U 1. And I was surprised its equally great as the HP50.

    PSB (Paul S. Barton) is quite something. Churns out quality speakers and HPs at VERY REASONABLE prices. I could have saved a lot if I discovered his stuff earlier...lol
  10. Jess70

    Always glad to hear others feel the same as myself. Everything just seems right to me with this HP as far as tonal balance.
  11. diamondears
    Yes. And I t's unbelievably accurate, including the bass. You can hear differences even on difficult to discern bass notes. It's better (as well as my HP50) than my LCD-2.2 on this. I think being closed back is a major factor on this. The RoomFeel technology practically eliminated the advantages of an open back. This PSB is one airy HP also.
  12. Selta
    I had a pair of these, and I completely regret getting rid of them. I just couldn't jive with the plastic-y feel over them overall. They felt cheap, but sounded great. To me :)

    This thread has me considering buying a new pair... anyone selling? :)
  13. XERO1
    +1  They sound great, but look like schiit. [​IMG] 
    But I'll take that any day over the opposite.
  14. diamondears
    Yeah, "plasticky", but the Black version doesn't look like that much, and I'll take plasticky to keep the price as it is. I didn't buy a headphone so others would appreciate how it looks anyway, I bought a headphone to listen to recordings to replace or get close to what I hear on speakers.
  15. Bansaku

    +1 on this. Unless you are groping the headphones while looking at yourself in a mirror, why does it matter? They are comfy and sound unreal, so it matters not to me.
    Afterthought: The plastic feel goes away after they are broken in. The stiffness anyway.
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