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Sonoma Model One electrostatic headphone system

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by music alchemist, Oct 12, 2016.
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  1. Music Alchemist
    An exciting new headphone system is on the horizon. Details here:
    The system (consisting of the headphones and specialized DAC/amp unit) will be available for $4,995 in 2017.
    conquerator2 likes this.
  2. subtle
    Too damn funny.  Everybody and their pet monkey are trying to jump on board this ridiculous $5k+ headphone train.
  3. wuwhere Contributor
    That is a system with an es headphone, class-A amp, a built-in DAC that can do DSD and two analog inputs. From what people said after listening to it, it can run with an 009/BHSE pairing. If its just behind an 009/BHSE pairing, I'm sold, its much cheaper and transportable. Its a single ended es, there is only one stator on the outer side. No stator on the ear side to impede the music. I'm interested in it but prefers that it works with other es amps. But I don't know if that is possible given that it has only one stator.
  4. Music Alchemist
    I just hope you can use an external DAC. Although it converts all analog signals to digital and does some DSP to attain an optimized frequency response, perhaps connecting from a better DAC would override (or at least influence) the internal DAC despite that. It would be a shame if you're stuck with the internal DAC.
    The system is proprietary (read through the info on the links), so you cannot use it with other amps.
  5. icebear
    I could not find any info where the company is located. Development of the Sonoma workstation has happened in California but there was no info where Sonoma Acoustics is located, nor where the M1 has been developed and is being produced.
    Anyway the new ES technology will stirr up the landscape of e-stat headphones. Let's wait for some proper evaluations. Naturally there will be the hype train rushing through first but once the dust has settled behind it we hopefull get some useful info [​IMG] 
  6. wuwhere Contributor
    I was also concerned about that DSP. I don't think there's a way to turn it off or bypass it.
  7. wuwhere Contributor
    Its in the UK. The OEM is Warwick Audio for the HP and amp. I believe Sonoma integrated their DAC inside the amp.
  8. Music Alchemist
    The DSP is good because it helps the headphones have a better frequency response. My concern is the potential inability to use an external DAC instead of the internal DAC, which is separate from the DSP.
    According to this PDF, the Sonoma brand is owned by Super Audio Center, LLC, Colorado, USA.
    However, Sonoma Acoustics Ltd. is apparently in the UK. Go figure.
    I believe only the HPEL (High-Precision Electrostatic Laminate) technology in the transducers was developed by Warwick.
  9. icebear

    Just quick reading their website info on the M1 I didn't grasp that (English is not my first language). I got that Warwick/UK is the company that developed the e-stat driver technology and holds a patent but I wasn't sure that they also produce the headphone itself in UK.
  10. icebear
    LOL, yeah I'm not a lawyer but that doesn't provide any info about where the phones have been developed and are being produced. [​IMG]
  11. Music Alchemist
    I edited my post.
    "However, Sonoma Acoustics Ltd. is apparently in the UK. Go figure."
    So since it looks like they are involved in both the UK and US, they could be doing things in one or both countries. Time will tell. (Or someone could contact them and ask.)
  12. wuwhere Contributor
    Warwick makes the headphones. The machine to attach the driver to the frame is a precision machine and they also own the patent to it. So they are the only company who can make the driver. The diaphragm has to be precisely tensioned when attached to the frame.
  13. Music Alchemist
    We're not sure how involved Warwick are beyond the transducers, but it looks to me like Sonoma (and whatever companies they outsourced) did the rest.
    For example, the production of the ear pads alone involves multiple countries.
  14. wuwhere Contributor
    Warwick just makes the headphones - the drivers and the structures for it, that's why they are the oem. Companies like Sonoma are their clients. Sonoma can alter the earpads, the looks, finish, etc... Their clients can specify whatever they want the driver to appear. The thing is they can even make angled drivers because each driver is made up of cells and each cell has its own diaphragm.
    Warwick also makes the amp. I'm sure their clients can make their own amp if they wish with Warwick engineers.
    But what excites me the most is the driver can be made with automation, precision and less expensive. And the amps are so small. So hopefully that would translate into less expensive es headphones.
  15. JimL11
    Color me skeptical.  First of all, a single ended stat headphone is a recipe for non-linear distortion.  There's a good reason why every other electrostatic headphone has two stators around the membrane.  Second, they mention discrete class A amplifier, but they also mention the use of ICs from Analog devices and Texas Instruments, which sounds contradictory.  Discrete amps do not use ICs, unless they are using them only as servos, but they are being vague.
    omniweltall, bidn and edstrelow like this.
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