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Random Audio

Discussion in 'Currawong' started by currawong, Feb 7, 2012.
  1. Currawong Contributor
    The diary threads seem to be popular here. I think I'll give it a shot, I just don't want to call it a diary. There are a few things I want to post about, but not write up a full review or article. 
    My portable rig has been a source of discovery. I went for the Fostex HP-P1 in the hope it would work well with the Symphones Magnums. However, just before I was to leave for Australia for Christmas, a pair of prototype HD-700s arrived and I didn't think the Fostex alone would cut it. By chance a fellow Aussie was selling a Triad Audio L3, so I nabbed that at far less than new. The results were much better than expected. Even with my main rig here, I can grab my portable rig and still very much enjoy music out of it. The combo simply nailed it, much like a good desktop rig does.
    A useful discovery about the Fostex is that it works perfectly well with FLAC player on my iPhone or iPad, even with high-res files. I have quite a few albums I not been able to listen to without downsampling them, which I dislike doing, so this was indeed a pleasant discovery. Not only that, if you are playing music with FLAC player and the screen is locked, a double-press of the home button will bring up the music controls for it, not just the default Apple player. I just tested it with Getz / Gilberto (from HDTracks) and the sound was fantastic. Mind you, the overall cost of the entire set-up, including headphones was quite huge, so it should sound great.

    Another discovery with my portable rig was with my RE-ZEROs. I stopped using them as they are, in effect, all mids-and-highs, which is useless for quite a range of music I like (and even for music that they are more suited). I was testing the HP-P1 with them to see if I could hear any hiss (a tiny amount, not enough to matter) and thought I'd try them with the L3 and bass boost. Now that worked surprisingly well. I never thought I'd own an amp with any kind of tone controls, but I have to admit, there are times a gentle boost to a pair of cans, rather like my Stacker II hybrid amp gives by its design, can be very beneficial. Sometimes a tiny bit more of some aspect of the frequency response, soundstage or detail is to push a good listening experience into a great one.

    I finally got my LCD-3s back, with new, fault-free drivers (fingers crossed). I sent them off before I went on holidays and hoped to have them back on my return, but I've had to wait almost an extra month for them. My returned pair have closest to the best graph of all the Audeze headphones I've owned. Maybe it's because of their absence, but I was reminded again why I like them so much, as they have all of impact, detail and a seductive smoothness to their presentation and are a perfect match for my "wire-with-gain" main amp.
  2. Currawong Contributor
    I finally got around to trying two new DAC/headphone amps which I'd seen last year at the Fujiya Avic show: The Luxman DA-100 and the Teac UD-H01. The store set-up was using high-end power cables and I fed both using a WireWorld Ultraviolet cable from my MacBook Pro. The TEAC, due to requiring a special driver for the async USB that I didn't have was also fed via the Luxman's digital output.
    Headphones were my Symphones Magnums V4, Denon D7000s and Audio Technica W3000s.
    The Luxman uses a new BB DA chip which includes an output stage, allowing devices that use it to be built more simply. The price at the store was 71,400 yen, which is quite expensive. I felt that despite being a Luxman fan, the DA-100 was very average and instruments sounded rather digital. 
    The Teac UD-H01 fared considerably better. Having owned Denon D5000s and long ago moved on from them, I was expecting the D7000s not to be much better, but was pleasantly surprised how good they sound, especially out of the Teac. The only problem was, the gain was exceptionally low (though now I think of it, I didn't check if it was a volume issue on my MacBook Pro). Despite the Teac being much cheaper, it was much better sounding than the Luxman, if not amazing sounding, as instruments sounded a flatter than what I'm used to. The DAC has balanced outputs (very likely through a phase splitter) as well.
    There was a Stax amp in there, so maybe I will go in again and give them a second run as DACs with my 009s.
    Overall though, the Teac shows the most promise as an all-in-one unit. I might have to see about battling one off against an NFB-10SE some day.
  3. Currawong Contributor
    I meet up with cheeq88 today who was in Fukuoka visiting friends before heading back from holiday to Australia. It was a good excuse to get into the city with my suitably insane portable rig and try some headphones. While we missed out on heading to the high-end table at Best Denki, I managed to stop by Bic Camera and give the Sony MDR-Z1000s a better audition than I'd been able to previously. With a much better amp and source they became much more pleasant to listen with than I'd previously experienced. The bass was now more present and a sufficient, but not overbearing amount was there. They were still somewhat mid forward and the treble was a touch bright, with vocals almost being sibilant. So instead of sounding like a pair of full-sized ER-4s they sound like a full-sized pair of XBA-3s.
    Mid and treble quality was pretty good otherwise, though I detected a bit of harshness, but then, I'm used to ortho's and 'stats. I'd say we're possibly be talking as good or better than AD2000s but not as good as HD-700s, but I'm going from memory here. Also, being closed cans, the headstage sounded more like it was in my head than out of it. Still, for a very competent pair of mid-range closed cans I was quite pleased. There was a crispness and speed to notes that suggested that they are very capable, if not as much as the very best from other companies.
    Apart from a couple of concerns with the frequency response in the upper mids and treble, which I tend to have with most headphones and could be as much to do with my ears, they didn't seem to have issue with any of my usual music, which leans more towards acoustics and vocals and remixes at the other end of the spectrum. Of course, people wanting lots of thumping bass need not apply here.

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