Reducing hiss with sensitive canalphones? (ES2)
Feb 25, 2006 at 9:59 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

catscratch

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I'm using the Westone ES2 with the Kenwood HD20GA7 player as a portable rig. The combo would sound really good, if not for one, to my ears, crippling flaw: the background hiss. The HD20GA7 hisses. A LOT! It's completely inaudible with full-size headphones like the Grado SR-60, and it's not a problem with less-sensitive canalphones like the Ety ER-4P. But, with the ES2 and it's 119dB sensitivity, the hiss is a real problem.

Is there anything that I can do to reduce it and stay unamped? A 70 ohm resistor helps quite a bit (I use the Ety P/S adapter thing), but unamped with the resistor, the ES2 sounds clearly underamped. The dynamic range is hurt, and bass is quieter and less well defined. The beautifully controlled and defined bass is the HD20GA7's forte, and hurting it for the sakes of controlling noise seems kinda counter-productive here.

Maybe a line-level attenuator like the ones Headroom sells would help me cut down on the noise? Or is there something else that can help? I need to stay unamped.

Cheers,
Cat
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 1:10 AM Post #2 of 14

dvdonly

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Attenuator will do the trick.

Luckily UE includes one with the super.fi 5 pro. I got hiss with every source I used them with (PCDP, iPod, PA2V2, receiver, etc.). The attenuator takes care of it, and when A/B'ing it with 2 5G iPods, level matched with identical files, I couldn't tell a loss in fidelity, just a loss of hiss.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 1:19 AM Post #3 of 14

TheMarchingMule

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^ yup yup, that's what you get for not buying the super.fi line
evil_smiley.gif
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 1:51 AM Post #4 of 14

catscratch

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Quote:

Originally Posted by AtheisticFreedom
^ yup yup, that's what you get for not buying the super.fi line
evil_smiley.gif



Yes, I was thinking of the UE10 Pro when I was shopping around. I have no regrets going with the ES2 though. Although it's hard to say when you've never heard the UE10.

I'll try an attenuator and see if that does that trick! Thanks.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 2:13 AM Post #5 of 14

TheMarchingMule

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I guarantee it does. However, it does bring the sound down to almost half of what it normally is.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 2:33 AM Post #6 of 14

catscratch

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Is the Shure attenuator the only good one out there? It has a variable volume control, which I don't really want. Are there any other options with just a flat dB attenuation w/o a volume control? I can't seem to find too many.

Cheers,
Cat

[Edit: n/m, found the UE attenuator. I'll go with that.]
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 4:28 AM Post #7 of 14

HiFlight

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My Westones have no hiss at all thru my Xin SM3 or Xin Mini.
 
Feb 6, 2007 at 12:53 AM Post #9 of 14

camille

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just a little thread revival here...

I'm awaiting my V2 ES2s, and I'm wondering using a PINT w/ normal gain, using something like an atennuator or the P/S converter would help reduce hiss?
 
Feb 6, 2007 at 2:11 AM Post #10 of 14

catscratch

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If there is a solution, I haven't found it. My solution was to get rid of a hissy source in favor of a worse sounding, but less hissy one. The Ety cable together with an amp screws up the sound something fierce; so far in my experience it has affected some canalphones in positive ways and some in negative ways, and I really can't predict which way it will go without a prior listen. I've used the UE attenuator with an amp (Hornet) and the sound is definitely nice, the hiss is gone, but there is still noticeable degradation in quality than without it.

Get a clean amp with no hiss and low gain, and you'll be all set. The Hornet doesn't hiss, but it's gain is too high. Maybe the Tomahawk?
 
Feb 6, 2007 at 3:15 AM Post #11 of 14

audiomagnate

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All amps hiss, it's physics. It just depends on how sensitive your phones are, and BTW cables can't hiss. Any form of antennuation will work to lower the noise floor.
 
Feb 6, 2007 at 3:31 AM Post #14 of 14

Mrvile

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I've never liked attenuators to control volume and/or sensitivity...I've felt that they always degrade sound quality. I've played around a lot with impedance cables and found that they work a lot better (and do a good job of reducing hiss). The ES2 is a 25ohm, 119db/mw headphone so it's going to be pretty damn sensitive. Why not try throwing about 33ohm of resistance into the loop to try to tame the hiss without becoming too hard to drive...
 

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