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PSB M4U1 - Thoughts?

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by swmtnbiker, Nov 13, 2012.
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  1. goodyfresh
    I really don't much mind the "funky" bass, as you refer to it.  I guess you and I just have different preferences when it comes to sound-signature.

    So personally, you're saying you like the PSB M4U1 a good deal more than the Sony MDR-1A, I assume?  I can understand your reasoning completely.  I just have a number of pros-and-cons I am trying to weigh regarding each of the two pairs of cans.  For one thing, I couldn't really see myself ever using the M4U1 as a portable. . .it's just too big  and clunky, and looks somewhat ridiculous, haha.  Secondly, I have a few build-quality and wiring/reliability concerns that based on a large amount of research I know can potentially arise with the M4U1, but do not seem to occur at all with the Sonys. . .and no, I'm not referring to the issue of teh plastic cracking, I know that they fixed that after the first production run.  I'm referring to the flimsy screws in the folding hinges, as well as the wiring between the drivers.  I am quite honestly wary of ANY headphones with such folding hinges. . .they add just one further reliability/build concern that can become an issue in the longterm.

    And since overall I don't MIND the sound-sig of the Sonys (although yes, I do PREFER the signature of hte M4U1, how could I not, haha), I am leaning towards the Sonys, at the moment.  If I had my choice, and money was no object, I'd get both. . .the M4U1 for home use, and the Sonys for portable use.
  2. Bansaku
    Ok, I got bored and decided to do up a comparative visualization on the sonic difference and presentation of headphones in relation to the M4U 1. I choose to use sheets in the wind to metaphorically portray how one's mind might visually represent what is heard.
    This first image depicts sonically what cheap airport headphones or Beats would sound like. :p
    Up next we have what an average good quality set of headphones from Sony, Panasonic, Phillips, and low-end Sennheiser would look like sonically; Good separation, good clarity.
    The third image is how a top-tiered headphone from AKG, beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, HiFi-Man, or Audezee would be presented; Great layering, excellent separation, and detail pops.
    awesome.jpg (oops, I got the lead and bass switched)
    M4U 1; Ethereal 
    HungryPanda and diamondears like this.
  3. diamondears
    Yes, the PSB is more transportable than portable. Why not go for an IEM if your main use is portability?
  4. goodyfresh
    Number of reasons.  Most of all that I can get a better soundstage with full-sized over-ears than with IEM's in the same price-range, and I care a lot about soundstage and imaging.  But the second, still very big reason, is comfort. . .I find a comfy pair of over-ears MUCH better for very long listening sessions and portable listening than in-ear phones.

    However, I DO plan to save up for some good IEM's as my next big purchase after a pair of over-ears.  I'm looking at the Dunu DN-2000J, Trinity Delta, Etymotic ER4PT, and a few others.
  5. Star2806

    I found that the m4u1 had more forward mids and treble than the x1

    How does the m4u1 compare to the hd800?  High praise that you say that m4u1 is superior!
  6. goodyfresh

    Don't get me wrong, the HD800 is a GREAT headphone.  However, I feel like its detail resolution is TOO good, which really can be a real problem, lots of people will agree with me on that.  The issue isn't even that files aren't necessarily hi-res enough. . .the fact is that no matter how hi-res your copy of a track is, the majority of tracks out there are not perfectly mastered, and what I found was that only REALLY WELL MASTERED music sounds fantastic on the HD800s.  With stuff mastered at such a level, I'd have to say that yes, the HD800 do a much BETTER job than the M4U 1.  However, the M4U 1 have a SMOOTHER presentation overall, and so for the majority of music mastered at a more normal level of quality, the M4U 1 will give the majority of folks (i.e. all but the most hardcore audiophiles who want to squeeze out that every last little bit of detail from every recording) a more enjoyable listening experience, IMO.

    Also, the HD800 is certainly not as good as either the LCD-2 or LCD-3 which are in the same general-price-bracket, which makes sense since it is dynamic and they are planar magnetic.  So overall I'd say that unless someone really wants a super high-end DYNAMIC headphone for some reason, the HD800 isn't gonna be worth the money for most folks.
    Anyway, totally off-topic but, today I was at Sam Ash Music and saw they had a special sale on the Shure SE215 IEM's for only $84.99, so I bought them on impulse, and I have to say I'm not regretting it, they sound awesome for the price :)
  7. Star2806
    So is the lcd2 just as smooth and detailed as the m4u1 but less detailed than hd800?  Diamondears says that the m4u1 outperforms the lcd 2.2
  8. goodyfresh
    I certainly did not think the LCD 2 was outperformed by the M4U 1.  I simply thought that the improvements (besides soudnstage, which was notable, bjut of course that's the case when comparing closed-back to open-backed) were subtle and minor, when considering the huge difference in cost.
    Comparing measurements from the same source (Tyll's setup at Innerfidelity) you can see that the LCD 2 does measure signficantly better than the M4U 1 in many respects.  Most notably, its square-wave responses are FAR more accurate, and the overall presentation is more neutral.  However, in certain parts of the upper mids and low treble, it actually measures LESS flat than the M4U 1.  And the impulse response actually, from my interpretation, looks a bit better on the M4U 1.  So there are pros and cons to each.

    The M4U 1 does have noticably "lispier" (lithpier, lol) sounding treble than the LCD 2, which you can see clearly in the serious ringing in the 300hz square-wave of the M4U1.  The M4U1's bass is also a LITTLE less solid, a little more liquidy really, than the LCD 2, but on the other hand the LCD 2 has LESS bass.  The LCD 2 does have better detail resolution overall. 
    My issue, really, was that I didnt' feel like the LCD 2 sounded awesome ENOUGH compared to the M4U 1 to justif8y its far, far higher price-tag.  The HD800 certainly did not.  On the other hand, the LCD 3 was another story. . .even more expensive but, to me it sounded SUBLIME.
  9. diamondears
    I had the LCD-2.2 and PSB for some time and deciding which one to retain. To give you a view of my perspective, I started as a speakers audiophile. So speakers would always be a major basis for comparison for me. And with this, the LCD-2.2 just is less accurate than the NAD and PSB.

    When I already had the NAD and PSB, I'm always, as in all the time, not satisfied by the LCD-2.2 (which btw I preferred over the LCD-2f). Its bass is less, its treble isn't accurate, and overall its mids became forward. When I listen to speakers, and then have to turn off the speakers and get my HP, there's a big change in sound when I use the LCD-2.2 and LCD-2.2f. But the NAD and PSB, not much really, except the PSB brings out bit more emphasis on the sibilant sounds. I tried to keep the LCD-2.2 saying to myself that it could be useful still when I need an open-back HP to hear what's around me, but whenever I use it, I keep on noticing the inaccuracy, and eventually I'll revert back to the NAD/PSB.

    Note that I use exactly the same gears on my signature, even for speakers. Only the speakers and HP are the variable.

    And, humility aside, I didn't consider the price at all in choosing the NAD/PSB. I didn't choose the NAD/PSB because they're cheaper. It's totally not a consideration. So one couldn't say I'm just being stingy. In fact when I already own 1 NAD, then heard the PSB because I'm looking for a similar sound as the NAD but isn't as painful on top of my bigger head, I bought the PSB, and then later bought 1 more NAD so that 2 of my older kids could have 1 NAD each. That's how impressed I am with these Paul S. Barton products.

    I was itching to checkout and buy (no demo available) the Sennheisers (690/650/800) but just couldn't pull the trigger considering what I've read about them.

    So to you guys who are deciding what to get, I'd suggest the NAD if you have relatively younger ears and if it fits your head. If you have older ears and bigger head, get the PSB. I have relatively younger ears, and I just use an OCC HP cable to tame the sibilants a bit and give more bass frequencies and tilt back the sound tilt towards less bright.
  10. diamondears
    Even without considering cost, assuming they are priced exactly the same, I'll get the NAD/PSB.

    The NAD/PSB could match and betters the LCD-2.2 in ALL frequencies. The NAD/PSB's bass--more, equally articulate/defined, and bass signature is accurate (bass on LCD is "planar" sounding, which isn't what you hear live and in a speaker); mids--more realistic prolly due to the claimed RoomFeel technology (LCD is more forward sounding due to less bass, and its mids has that really good "lush" character into it, but this isn't in the recording); treble--again more accurate, it sparkles when the recording sparkles, it's smooth when the recording is smooth, it's sibilant when the recording is sibilant (the LCD is always smooth, lush, the sparkle is reduced; it's as detailed, its just that it changes the detail a bit).

    Having said these, if Audeze comes out with a model where the mids ain't forward sounding, with more of the Harman FR curve, I'll be all over it. That "lush" and "planar" sound is sumptuous.

    Hope these helps.
    Planarman likes this.
  11. goodyfresh

    I guess my ears just happen to be pretty partial to a Planar Magnetic sound-signature, haha :wink:  To me, the Audeze sounded better, just not ENOUGH better to justify the much, MUCH higher price.

    It always interests me, talking to folks in these forums, how differently various people's ears and brains hear and perceive sound!
  12. diamondears
    Yeah, different ears for different folks. I tried NOT to sell my LCD-2.2 when I had both it and PSB. Couldn't do it.

    Have you demoed or really tried the PSB with another high-end HP at home? I'm surprised myself I couldn't even use the LCD-2.2 in one sitting.
  13. goodyfresh

    At home?  Yeah I can't afford to demo multiple pairs of high-end headphones all at once at home.  Luckily there is a very nice hi-fi audio store here in town where I can demo their stuff.  They have the PSB M4U 1 and 2, the Sony MDR-1A, the Momentum Over-Ears and On-Ears, the Senn HD518, 558, and 598, the Senn HD 650, 700, and 800, the Audeze LCD 2 and 3, and others.
  14. nk126
    So I've had a pair of M4U-1 for about six or seven weeks now. Bought them used.  I use them exclusively with digital sources, primarily with my MacBook Air at work either streaming 320k Spotify or listening to FLAC files. No external amp or dac right now, just plugged into the laptop's headphone jack. I also use them some with my iPhone 6 and 6S, same types of source materials.
    When I first got the headphones, I was very happy and impressed. I've been a longtime IEM user other than a pair of cheap Sennheisers I keep plugged into my electronic drums for practicing at home. Using a pair of quality over-ears felt big and spacious and generally really enjoyable.
    Then I sent an old, broken pair of Etymotic IEMs back to the company and bought a set of ER4s via their out of warranty sale program. I got the ER4s about two weeks ago now. And I keep doing A/B testing between the M4U and ER4. And I keep finding the same thing - the M4Us now sound kind of muddy and a little sloppy to me, particularly in the bass frequencies. Noticeable across different types of musics and tracks, but most noticeably listening to 60s era jazz in which the recordings have clear instrument separation and the cymbals, in particular, are defined and have space to breathe. (Today I was A/B testing with Miles Davis' Nefertiti)
    Wondering about a few things here ... Did I get a "bad" pair of M4Us? Should I try a different set up for driving them? Or do I just prefer the signature and other aspects of the Etys?
    The M4Us certainly don't sound bad. But they don't sound nearly as god to me as the Etys do. And I'm curious as to why, if in fact there's a "good reason" beyond "I like what I like."
    Being a relative noob to high(er) end audio, and also having only used IEMs for so long, any perspective here would be welcomed. Thanks!
  15. goodyfresh

    Well the M4U 1 have a great frequency-response for dynamic closed over-ear cans, and the soundstaeg and imaging are phenomenal, but it seems like in order to achieve those two things, the engineers had to slightly sacrifice the accuracy of dynamics and transient-response, which can definitely negatively affect separation and detail resolution in subtle ways.  If you look at the measurements from Innerfidelity, this can be clearly seen from the ringing and overall looseness in the square-waves: http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/HiFiMANHE6.pdf
    Here you've got the ER4PT:  http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/EtymoticER4PT.pdf

    While teh square-waves there are still certainly far from ideal, they have noticably smoother tops and far less ringing, which means the dynamics across the different frequencies are quicker and more accurate, with things falling-off and fading the way they are supposed to, allowing for better separation among other things.

    That's teh thing, a lot of people don't realize that Frequency-Response is FAR from the only measurement that characterizes how a pair of headphones sound.  The shapes of the square-waves and impulse-responses are very important.
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