Sonoma Model One electrostatic headphone system
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eggmansr71

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I must say any review at this point that doesn't discuss the ability of the units volume output and whether it can play loud enough becomes questionable.
 
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In case anyone is interested, my review is now live on Headphone.Guru. :)
So, I read your review. I found it disappointing in two respects.

1) You give Sonoma's rationale for using a single-ended driver, but you do not mention that this is contrary to every other electrostatic driver, which is push-pull, nor do you give any explanation of the pros and cons of their approach. In fact, a single ended driver is prone to 2nd order distortion because of its unbalanced nature - this is especially a problem at low frequencies due to the increased excursion at those frequencies.

2) You do not mention the limitations in output level, which has been discussed in some detail here and elsewhere.

In sum, IMHO your review gives an incomplete picture of the pros and cons of this system.
 
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MacedonianHero

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So, I read your review. I found it disappointing in two respects.

1) You give Sonoma's rationale for using a single-ended driver, but you do not mention that this is contrary to every other electrostatic driver, which is push-pull, nor do you give any explanation of the pros and cons of their approach. In fact, a single ended driver is prone to 2nd order distortion because of its unbalanced nature - this is especially a problem at low frequencies due to the increased excursion at those frequencies.

2) You do not mention the limitations in output level, which has been discussed in some detail here and elsewhere.

In sum, IMHO your review gives an incomplete picture of the pros and cons of this system.
If I don't find the same cons, they why should I refer to them if I don't happen to share them? This is a snapshot of my experiences with this system. I found it quite balanced regardless of output volume level; though I would have preferred some more bass down low (and as mentioned, I had to add some EQ to help this out).

Remember the original Sennheiser HE90 was single ended and many here loved it and still consider them one of the best headphones produced. I personally am not a stat headphone designer and just went off what I heard. The Hifiman HE1000V1 & V2 are both single ended headphones and some of the very best headphones I've heard with very low distortion. Generalizations like this aren't very helpful IMO. Typically 2nd order distortion results in a tad more bass and a warmer sound (like comparing the HD800S to the HD800). I did not hear that with the Sonoma headphones. Actually I would say that they are brighter than either the SR-009 or HD800 headphones and still sound very clear and transparent overall. So I'll only write to my personal experiences. If you had others, I suggest you write a review of them here on Head-Fi. I'm always keen on reading as many impressions as possible.

I never had an issue with playing them loud as I could get to 87dB peaks without much of an issue.
 
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I must say any review at this point that doesn't discuss the ability of the units volume output and whether it can play loud enough becomes questionable.
I didn't have this issue. I listen with volumes no higher than 85-87dB peaks and never had an issue with the unit I was sent. If I had issues meeting this, I would have most definitely mentioned it...but I did not have this issue.
 
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I must say any review at this point that doesn't discuss the ability of the units volume output and whether it can play loud enough becomes questionable.
Also, most people interested in ultra-high-end headphones are looking for in-depth comparisons of all of them, so when a reviewer has lots of experience with them but does not compare much at all in a review, it's not going to be helpful. Sure, it's nice to at least read a description of the sound, but it's ultimately futile without proper context.

Actually I would say that they are brighter than either the SR-009 or HD800 headphones and still sound very clear and transparent overall.
The HD 800 is so bright and harsh that it causes me physical pain. (Here is one set of measurements that correlates to how it sounds to me. It was even more apparent when playing video frequency sweeps, revealing a very peaky FR. It can be fixed with EQ, of course.) It's surprising to hear that the M1 is even brighter than that. I thought they used DSP to make it more neutral. On the other hand, others have described it as warm and/or dark. Go figure.

I didn't have this issue. I listen with volumes no higher than 85-87dB peaks and never had an issue with the unit I was sent. If I had issues meeting this, I would have most definitely mentioned it...but I did not have this issue.
Some people listen louder than that. Acoustic music (think an orchestra) can get a lot louder than that too. For those of us who want to reproduce music as loud as it was at the original performance (which is a requirement for true high fidelity), high SPL capability is a factor.
 
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Also, most people interested in ultra-high-end headphones are looking for in-depth comparisons of all of them, so when a reviewer has lots of experience with them but does not compare much at all in a review, it's not going to be helpful. Sure, it's nice to at least read a description of the sound, but it's ultimately futile without proper context.



The HD 800 is so bright and harsh that it causes me physical pain. (Here is one set of measurements that correlates to how it sounds to me. It was even more apparent when playing video frequency sweeps, revealing a very peaky FR. It can be fixed with EQ, of course.) It's surprising to hear that the M1 is even brighter than that. I thought they used DSP to make it more neutral. On the other hand, others have described it as warm and/or dark. Go figure.



Some people listen louder than that. Acoustic music (think an orchestra) can get a lot louder than that too. For those of us who want to reproduce music as loud as it was at the original performance (which is a requirement for true high fidelity), high SPL capability is a factor.
I suppose they do, but I take safety very seriously. I was able to play these plenty loud (and still remain safe). I wouldn't recommend going over this limit for obvious reasons. Actually we had a painter who worked on our house during some renovations years ago who actually committed suicide recently due to really bad tinnitus. Yes, there is a fate worse than going deaf. For the record, I was able to get these headphones plenty loud and still be safe and thus never an issue for me.
 
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eggmansr71

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I take it more as a peer review and not an attack. Seems very reasonable to be a little move critical of a person that runs a website called Headphone.Guru. If he would edit his review to address some of the negative comments made by other reviewers then I think we would have progress. To leave as is makes it look like its an add for the product, but to each his own.
 
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I take it more as a peer review and not an attack. Seems very reasonable to be a little move critical of a person that runs a website called Headphone.Guru. If he would edit his review to address some of the negative comments made by other reviewers then I think we would have progress. To leave as is makes it look like its an add for the product, but to each his own.
But AGAIN, I did not find that I couldn't play them loud (as I was able to get them plenty loud), so why would I comment on that as a negative? I did mention that I wished that they had more bass and sounded "less bright" overall as a result and thus why I needed to add some EQ; or did you miss that? :rolling_eyes: After adjusting with EQ, they did respond quite nicely though. I don't like to read other people's comments because I don't want to prejudice my reviews. I will read them however once I've completed them to see how they may or may not line up in agreement. This is a subjective hobby remember.

Have you even heard them?
 
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eggmansr71

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(Not trying to be rude with this post so please read it as feedback that could help your reviews be for more people.) Nope I haven't heard them but plan to when I travel to SF in a month. At 5,000 they are not the easiest things to audition. Therefore we have to rely on others opinions. I didn't question what you heard or wrote only that you didn't write about the number one question I will have when checking them out. If they are loud enough then I would question why one very well known reviewer states that they have volume issues. His opinion carries weight for good and bad in this field and his comments need to be validated. Jude did this for a product that he panned that others felt didn't deserve the review he gave. You get to do reviews like this therefore you have a responsibility to address opinions that are floating around about a product or expect to get questioned about them. To be blunt after reading your review and looking at the website where you put it I felt that you were/are trying to get people to purchase from your site. If that is not your intent then put more comparisons in to other products and address the negatives. If you don't want to be influenced by others opinions then wait till the end of the review and then read what others have said and comment on whether you agree or disagree there. That would make it more of a review for me and provide more substance than the current format. Also have you not read this thread before you posted in it? Others have questioned the output that the amp is capable of as a limiting factor. Seems like that should at least be mentioned.
 
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MacedonianHero

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(Not trying to be rude with this post so please read it as feedback that could help your reviews be for more people.) Nope I haven't heard them but plan to when I travel to SF in a month. At 5,000 they are not the easiest things to audition. Therefore we have to rely on others opinions. I didn't question what you heard or wrote only that you didn't write about the number one question I will have when checking them out. If they are loud enough then I would question why one very well known reviewer states that they have volume issues. His opinion carries weight for good and bad in this field and his comments need to be validated. Jude did this for a product that he panned that others felt didn't deserve the review he gave. You get to do reviews like this therefore you have a responsibility to address opinions that are floating around about a product or expect to get questioned about them. To be blunt after reading your review and looking at the website where you put it I felt that you were/are trying to get people to purchase from your site. If that is not your intent then put more comparisons in to other products and address the negatives. If you don't want to be influenced by others opinions then wait till the end of the review and then read what others have said and comment on whether you agree or disagree there. That would make it more of a review for me and provide more substance than the current format. Also have you not read this thread before you posted in it? Others have questioned the output that the amp is capable of as a limiting factor. Seems like that should at least be mentioned.
Again, I found that amp could output plenty volume for me. I dont listen to unsafe levels and neither should anyone else. Remember there is a fate worse than hearing loss - it’s called tinnitus. But I could still get them plenty loud. So why would I note that as an issue if this review setup was more than adequate IMO? Heck, I’d suggest you hear them first before stating this.

I could not exactly pop inthese headphones into my Cavalli Liquid Lighting 2 as they are simply incompatible. Reviewing all in one setups has their limitations as it is hard to review each separate component.
 
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Heck, I’d suggest you hear them first before stating this.

And I would suggest you add to your review that you found then plenty loud and had no issues with their volume.
 
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Heck, I’d suggest you hear them first before stating this.

And I would suggest you add to your review that you found then plenty loud and had no issues with their volume.
Typically, if they couldn't meet this requirement, I would note it for sure. :)
 
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I had these for a week in home. The amp/dac; using coax in was very good - clear and clean over the entire range of my hearing, analogue in - not so much, almost grainy by comparison. I like the volume control and found no problem getting it to play louder than I need. I found that from somewhere around the lower mid-bass or so on up (maybe a bit higher or lower) they were just about my perfect cup-o-tea. Smooth and non-fatiguing, detailed and airy with as good a sound-stage as any other HP's I've auditioned/owned, all of which stink at that. The bass was not as satisfying or deep ranging as even my HD800. It runs out of steam early and loses air, I'm just not sure at what point Hz-wise that starts happening - other than a sound level meter and my ears I have no other measuring equipment. I have no EQ of any sort either to put in play (yet).

I listen typically at 50 to 65 db by my measurement technique ! Dam near every different recording (and I'm 95% classical and CD only - none of my comments carry over to other genres) requires a reset of the volume. On most recordings I have (about 2,500 discs) somewhere between 50 and 65 db is a sweet spot where the sound opens up without distorting, go much lower and it starts to lose transparency. Peak levels may push a higher but with classical they are always of short duration where with other genres the volume levels strike me as fairly constant from start to finish.

Given that hardly any of us use the same equipment and procedure to measure listening levels out of the driver I see no way that one persons "I listen at high or low levels" has any meaning whatsoever in comparison to another person's contention of how loudly or softly they listen.

The phones were comfortably light weight but clamping was a small amount too high, using Tyl's suggestion made them more comfortable for long sessions which are 2 to 4 hours for me. The cable was very micro-phonic (compared to others I have, both stock and specialty) and wearing different fabrics made it worse or better. The splitter cover was also very noisy as it rubbed across my clothing, a smooth round plastic cylinder would have been preferable to me.

Other than the bottom end I really liked the Sonoma, it was fine for some small scale works but not for large orchestral works for my listening tastes. Address the bass and and cable cover/splitter micro-phonics and I'd certainly revisit it.

I find nothing wrong with Macedonian Hero's review. We all have different hearing and priorities when it comes to sound reproduction.
 
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I'm just not sure at what point Hz-wise that starts happening - other than a sound level meter and my ears I have no other measuring equipment.
You can play this video frequency sweep to listen to and see the peaks and dips of any headphone. (Though I guess you can't do it now with the M1 since you no longer have it.)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pyi1gug2s2jumzq/sweep.mp4?dl=0

I find nothing wrong with Macedonian Hero's review.
Neither do I—with what was written, that is. I do have an issue with what was not written, however; namely, the lack of comparisons. If you don't compare to as many other high-end headphones you've heard as possible, in great depth, and with all types of music, it's not going to provide a frame of reference for those reading the review, and the countless people trying to make purchasing decisions based on impressions aren't going to have any info to work with besides a sense that it sounds good. Yes, any reviewer has the right to review in any way they see fit...but I fail to see how neglecting to make meaningful comparisons to other headphones would help those reading it.
 
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