Taction Technology KANNON Headphone

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by hawaiibadboy, Jan 17, 2016.
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  1. OzoneFork
    Hello all. I recently received my Kannons, and James (@FightinJim) asked me to post my thoughts here.

    Full disclosure: I am an equity investor in Taction as well as a Kickstarter supporter. I am also a friend and former co-worker of James. We are co-inventors together on at least one patent (unrelated to Taction).

    The packaging and case look great, all necessary accessories are included and fit nicely inside. There is a manual.

    The headset is solidly constructed, high quality, and comfortable. On my pair, the wiring that runs from the ear cups up into the headband was a bit shorter on one side, preventing full travel of the size adjustment - a bit of a QC issue. But there was plenty of travel to fit my average sized head.

    The controller appears to be 3D printed, and has a matte finish that doesn't quite match the glossier headset. I was a bit concerned at first about the robustness of a 3D printed part, but after further inspection and use I'm pretty comfortable that it will stand up to normal wear and tear. It's clear that a lot of thought was put into strain relief of the cables, and the knobs are fully encapsulated with a guard.

    The controls consist of two buttons (Taction on/off and microphone mute) and two knobs (Taction level and audio volume). The arrangement is reasonably ergonomic. Each of the buttons has an LED indicator, and this is one of my biggest gripes. The Taction on/off is also used as a master power button, which means that the audio mute indicator doesn't work when taction isn't on. I've been using the Kannons at work, switching back and forth between music and conference calls. If I turn off taction for the call, then I can't see whether I'm muted or not, leading to the typical "I just spoke for 30 seconds and no one heard it" dilemma. The workaround is to turn the Taction level knob all the way down rather than turn it off, but it's probably something the design gurus will want to revisit in the future.

    I am not an audiophile or gear-head the way that many of you are, but I am a music lover - primarily rock, but also funk, soul and hip-hop. My first test was to listen through Led Zeppelin I, because I've heard those songs so many times I can ignore the music and focus on the sound (if that makes sense). And... holy crap. The Kannons brought out basslines and drum beats that I was never able to hear before. I ended up listening through LZ I, II and III, just because I was fascinated by all the new stuff I was hearing. It is like having a super-power. And now I've got to dig out a ton of old albums to re-listen to.

    I passed the Kannons around the office, and it was all smiles. Our company Slack filled up with youtube links - "try them with this!"

    I was already a believer (because I know James and he is the real deal), but I am still surprised by how quickly I went from "Oh cool, got my Kannons" to "I will never be able to use any other pair of headphones". I hope like hell that Taction (the company) is a commercial success, but as we all know sh*t happens. But after using the Kannons and seeing others' reactions to them I cannot believe that the taction technology won't find a permanent home in the marketplace somewhere. If for some reason it disappears, I predict that these Kickstarter units will become jealously guarded collectors' items.

    Hope you find this helpful.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2017
    Hawaiibadboy, humzebra and BB 808 like this.
  2. OzoneFork
    Backer #51 FWIW.
  3. Vonsid
    Good to hear things are speeding up.
  4. Vonsid
    Not sure how sales are going but from the outside they seem to have everything required to be a success. I still have to hear a negative review from a buyer who already received them and the n°1 spot in the Bass club thread is most likely going to help. Also i spoke brieftly to the official Subpac reseller in my country, they heard about the kannons and seemed quite interested by the tech, so maybe there's something to work out beetween the two companies.
  5. RPGWiZaRD
    Would be interesting if those two companies could come up with something. I suppose Kannons + subpac is the closest you'll get to concert feel at home on headphones.

    EDIT: Headphones got stuck in the customs yesterday and got released today so it was as close as it gets to having them just before xmas. Only had needed one more working day. :p The shipping was reasonably fast though at 4 working days landing at customs in Finland, hadn't it been for the customs I'd have had them in 5 days which is really good for USPS parcel IMO. :)
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
  6. Psiga
    Oof. Wild. My receipt today for one Kannon puts me at Order Number 11,577. Did they really get that popular already? We'll see if I can remember to check in when I eventually receive mine, just to give an idea of what the turnaround times are at this point. Either way: Congratulations to Jim and the Taction team.

    Thanks to Hawaiibadboy/Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews for helping push me over the edge on these. I was looking for a closed back with audiophile-grade bass to complement my open back Sony MA-900, and this seems like it'll be the ticket.
  7. RPGWiZaRD
    I've got the Kannons today so been playing around with them a little bit. @FightinJim Good work with the feel of quality with the case and overall first impressions feels very good when opening up the box, I really like the case and the design of the headphone, simple but clean. ´

    On to the sound, very slight disappointment upon the very first listen but it turned out to be mostly due the pads and a fit issue as my ears couldn't fully fit inside so the sound was slightly bit muddy as a result (disabling haptic driver), a bit like an upside down V shape response with the primary focus around 500~1kHz or so it sounded like with slight bit of excess reverb around those midfrequencies (perhaps some dampening inside cups would help there). Then I immediatly proceed to swap pads as I have a few extras lying around and then it turned out the Shure 840 sparepads were PERFECT for these headphones, the fit is pretty nice, ever so slightly bigger than ideal but easy to apply as a result but it fits just fine with them really. But the big difference was in the fit as well as the sound, they became so much clearer sounding, much more balanced and detailed and the excess reverb I first heard in the midfrequencies were dialed down noticeably (slightly noticeable still but not too bad) the soundstage improved notably as well. These pads made a big difference to me, I really recommend you to try them out with the Kannons, mostly to see what they do for the sound @FightinJim Here's a link (they are very cheap and quite easy to find as well which is nice too) https://www.amazon.com/Shure-HPAEC840-Replacement-Cushions-Headphones/dp/B002Z9JWZS

    As far as cables goes I have a few nitpicks and suggestions, IMO the shorter included cable going from the controller to the audio source should be replaced with a bit higher quality cable, IMO it's a bit too stiff but I swapped to another one I have that feels more high quality and the sound even improved ever so slightly (original one sounds as if resolution is slightly worsened in the highs) and is much more convenient to carry around due to the softer / more elastic cable I changed to. I also think it would be nice to have the in and output on the same side of the controller so it better fits the pocket without putting stress on the other end of the cable that's going to point downwards in the pocket. Another slight nitpick I have is the non-removable cable from headphones to the controller, while the strainrelief seems as good as it gets and this won't get damaged for sure, I just wish I could swap it out for a longer cable too. It works perfectly fine like this when in portable use but when I want to use it at my computer it becomes slightly bit bothersome with the controller dangling around randomly as it's slightly too short to be lying on the table but slightly too long for it to float in the air/rest against your body so the result if you aren't careful how you place it will be like lying almost on the floor next to the chair feet which feels a bit worrisome, a bit of a remark in terms of convenience when it comes to desktop/stationary use. I personally also prefer cables attached on the left side, but that is probably more of a personal taste and for me it's probably due the fact I'm right handed and I like things being away from the arm that I use to control my mouse for example.

    Finally about the haptic driver response which was my main curiosity, at roughly 6~6.5 this compares roughly to what kind of bass response you'll get on my favorite setup the M-Audio Q40 + DigiZoid ZO2.1 (the felt bass response from vibration due the headphone cups that translates to the skin). This setup I always found exceptional in the bass response due the natural high amount of vibration on the cups which I felt enhanced the bass response and make it more exciting as it could be felt and after having listened to Kannons it only confirms what I always thought and the main reason I enjoyed M-Audio Q40's bass response. For me the Haptic response dialed at 10 is always too much and overkill (but it's nice to have the range though), I mostly find myself using around 6-7, at times maybe approaching 8 but never above.

    Frequency response I felt before the pad swap the highs were a bit rolled-off at top (again probably due the fit issue as pressing down on the cups helped the sound quite a bit), a bit much so but after the swap I consider the Kannons with the haptic response turned on a ^-- shape sound much like with the M-Audio Q40 which is what I'm looking for. I'm not instantly sure which of these headphones will be my favorite as of right now as I need more time with the Kannons and perhaps burn in will improve the headphones slightly further but yea it's a good start though no doubt as I'm rather picky with the sound signature and most of the headphones I try I immediatly find things in them which isn't quite what I'm looking but the Kannons have a very promissing start so to speak (need to let the brain get better used to the sound).

    Finally I like these more for portable unamped use than stationary desktop use from first impressions. I think this is a headphone which will sound pretty good unamped but doesn't scale THAT much amped. It sounds suprisingly good even unamped from a cheap china phone I currently use around 80% volume (I'm in the process of looking for a new phone) but testing with various amps on my desktop comp I feel it doesn't change that much, the Q40 for example is a completely different animal that changes skin based on which source/amp it gets plugged into. This obviously could be both a good and bad thing.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
    docninety and Monsterzero like this.
  8. RPGWiZaRD
    I also find that it doesn't work quite as good as I had hoped for Hardstyle genre that is my favorite, for the reason the Kannons seem to be giving a very various feedback of bass depending on the frequency it's centered at, the kickdrum in Hardstyle roughly tend to peak between 40 - 80Hz or so as it is pitched around various frequencies. Kannons seems to love 50Hz or so, but already say 70-80Hz the feedback is barely there.

    Example track that pitches the bass at a very wide range:

    The deeper pitched kick has full nice force (set at lvl 7) but then not much goes on at all when it pitches up. Listening this track with the M-Audio Q40 for example it stays constant here in felt kick response between the various pitched bass frequencies so the impact is a bit less than on Kannons at the deeper pitches but a bit more impactful at the upper pitched bass frequencies. So this haptic response seems to work best for EDM style tracks where kickdrum remains constant.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
  9. jameswalker
    For the sake of correctness, have you analysed the audio track above to determine that the 2 bass levels you refer to, are in fact an equal db output? To quote the kannon tech sheet:

    Taction Transporters are flat +/- 4dB from 15Hz-85Hz

    Thats not bad at all. Perhaps your M-Audio Q40 are non linear?

    Tried any EQ yet? I run a very mild EQ and like the results.
  10. RPGWiZaRD
    Yes of course, I'm a mastering hobby engineer helping out newcomer hardstyle producers with that so I'm very used to checking waveforms and that sort. In this case there's like roughly 0.5dB or so variety between the pitches only but what I hear is more like a 6dB or something like that, it's not something I hear with this track only, I can give you tons of examples (even from top producers in the genre) where I hear how it drastically loses the haptic response feedback as it pitches a bit higher up (none of which is observed through traditional headphones where I hear the impact as more constant irrelevant of which frequency it hits at). The quality of the bass response is superb though, I just wished the bass response felt a lot more constant depending on which frequency it's centered at.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
    AlwaysForward likes this.
  11. jameswalker
    Have you got any youtube links for a more accurate way to test this? Interested to see if mine exhibits the same as yours. Or perhaps create a test pattern for me to listen to, if you are able to?
  12. RPGWiZaRD
    During the intro for example after 1:21 (listen from roughly 1:10) when it suddenly pitches up from being constantly hitting at a lower bass frequency before that, same thing at the climax part

    The climax part has quite various bass frequency, not quite as wide of a jump but it becomes quite noticeable

    The thing is though, holding it in my hand it appears to shake just (or almost?) as vibrantly at whichever bass frequency but unfortunately doesn't translate the same way to felt response for the ear/skin. That's perhaps a drawback of this technology possibly relying on shaking action but I don't have the science knowledge to make any conclusion to that. But M-Audio Q40 + DigiZoid amp combo (analog filter way boosted bass EQ) that I also feel the kick impact pretty well when it lands doesn't have any haptic driver in it so I guess we're talking about two different ways to achieve the same kind of effect (pressure? vs motion accelerated effort?) which likely gives a little different results. The Kannon way seems superior to me (cleaner, less hard on the ears) if it only could achieve a reasonable constant enough result for the whole bass frequency range.

    I wish Jim could chime in that is more dwelved into this and have some sort of explanation. I haven't tried for example the Skullcandy Crushers which are said to hit hard but only at a narrow range and Jim's in-depth explanation of how their technology/approach is different seems so convincing that it should not happen what I'm experiencing here.

    Another example where it's especially noticeable where only the lowest kickdrum pitch it feels really heavy on the Kannons as if it's trying to chew up my face meanwhile at the other pitches it goes into a traditional headphone bass response with missing feedback:
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
    AlwaysForward likes this.
  13. jameswalker
    Yeah you are right, that last song in particular. There are 3 distinct lows, the lowest shakes my head apart where the other 2 are less so. Interesting, I hadn't noticed that before.

    The middle link you posted is only very subtly different (at least with my pair, plus my ears). I would not have otherwise noticed unless pointed out.

    I wonder if Jim fancies playing that last song?
  14. Hawaiibadboy Contributor
    I amped this with an iDSD micro BL when I had it months back in turbo at full pot and it was crazy so it "scales" fine.
    The Q40 was a trash bag for earpad covered (literally garbage bag material over the pads) bassy set that was never basshead in 2014 and is not now. There are reasons that thread is dead and that set is too. Quality control was horrible and the hype was empty.
    May it rest in peace. i got a video of it on my channel with lots of power and sub bass boosting. It did good. Nothing worth a rec though.
  15. RPGWiZaRD
    I don't want to derail this thread but I feel I need to straighten some things in here:

    When talking about scaling I was purely talking sound quality, not so much about bass response. Various headphones respond less or more to an amp's sound signature, Kannons doesn't change that much from plugging into various sources (in comparison to some other headphones out there) which isn't a bad thing really, it's just something to note, this isn't the kind of headphone you might want to spend a lot on an amp thinking it will start sounding significantly better/different.

    Q40 I'd say is a $120 headphone with 60~$80'ish build quality with ~$250 worth sound quality so it depends on your preferences. Personally I'm the kind of guy who wants to pay for sound quality first and foremost, other stuff comes second. Sound quality is difficult to value though as personal tastes play such a big role, for example I preferred the Q40's sound over Ultrasone Signature DJ which is a headphone that is often considered around here as some kind of "EDM" music champ at around $700 or whatever it costs today, among the better options for electronic music lovers. All headphones have their strengths and weaknesses, the Q40's strength is the bass quality (not quantity if you're an extreme basshead). It has a really good bass quantity vs impact ratio. Various headphones have various amount HEARD bass response but the ability to feel the bass varies quite a lot. The Q40's bass response is very tight and punchy, there's not much "heard" bass but it has a suprisingly good amount punch to it for the 8dB or so peak boost centered around 50~100Hz or so range as seen here. In my book a 8dB boost over neutral should still be considered basshead but due to its rather tight and controlled response it doesn't seem overly bassy but again it all depends where you come from if you talk among extreme bassheads used to abuse EQ etc then it will seem weak out of box but if you for example show it to a more audiophile type of guy it will seem very strong. You have created your set of "rules" or "vision" on this matter and you talk from your "extreme basshead"-crowd point of view. I try to talk from a bit more global standpoint not specifically talking to bassheads only.

    Z reviews have a very similar thoughts around this headphone that has reviewed a ****load of headphones from lowcost all the way to several thousand worth Stax headphones. He praises it for the sound quality for the price and also talks **** about the build quality but how it can easily be improved by swapping pads and cable (I personally really disliked the cable). When it comes to the pads, I've tried swapping them but I stayed with the originals simply due the fact I think they sound BEST with the standard pads, various other pads I tried changed the sound quality for worse. I did modify the standard pads by inserting an extra layer of foam beneath the pads to make them less shallow, I didn't due it for comfort though as despite the shallowness and tight clamp, it didn't cause discomfort but I did it because it improves the sound quality further by slightly improving soundstaging (unmodded it will sound very in your-face so there's no room for soundstaging to take place). It also slightly bit changes timbre of the headphone for the better (by standard it's ever so slightly rolled-off sounding in the highs).

    But yea for me personally I specifically love the Q40 for the controlled and punchy bass and as said when paired with DigiZoid ZO2.1 which pairs wonders for this headphone and putting the bass boost at lvl 8 out of total 16 where I find the bass quantity vs quality factor is the best, I get a bass response that very much reminds me of the Kannons at roughly 6 ~ 6.5 haption intensity (for comparison I prefer staying with the Kannons in the 6~8 range so I'm not specifically looking for much more bass). On the other hand the weaknesses of Q40 is definitely the soundstaging, it's fairly closed in sounding but I don't find Kannons to be much better though, they are roughly even. Especially improved soundstaging as well as further improved bass response quality (not quantity) if possible are still very much point of interests for me. Bass response quality is good due the nature of how it works on the Kannons (or fools the listener) but I wished it would give more even results for the whole bass range though, would it work at pretty linear level at the acclaimed 15 - 85Hz that would be perfect for me.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
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