The Closed-Back Headphone Thread (Plus Comparisons & Reviews)
Aug 22, 2021 at 2:46 AM Post #2,326 of 2,552

Malevolent

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It’s a fair point that pricing IS part of marketing and PR (I can vouch for that professionally), though any good marketing team will also carefully weigh how much of a turn-off the price might be. However, when you are operating in this niche space, you have more flexibility, as 1) you don’t need to sell a large number of units annually and 2) price sensitivity is much lower due to limited competition and the buyers’ ability to spend thousands of dollars for a luxury item.

To your question of doubling of SQ with a doubling of price- the answer is “no”. 😊 Hence the point of diminishing returns. I have not heard the Ether C Flow 1.1, but it’s very safe to say that improvements are incremental rather than multiples (Yes, I’m extrapolating from the Focal lineup).

That doesn’t mean the Stealth isn’t worth it if you have $ 4,000 to spend on headphones, of course- merely that you will get the vast majority of the performance at a lower cost.

Then again, our hobby is about achieving the last percentiles of performance to help create the illusion of a live performance (or at least, that’s how I see it). And so we yearn for the ultimate musical experience… 😁🎧
A fair assessment - can't say I disagree with many of your points. It's obvious that Dan Clark Audio has subscribed fully to the "Higher Price = Higher Mind Share" doctrine. There's nothing wrong with that, though. In today's market, a lesser-priced flagship often struggles to capture the attention of the market, no matter how good it sounds. Case in point - I am sure that the AH-D9200 would be better received if it had a higher sticker cost; say, $2,500 or more? Somehow, I think that it has been relegated to the back benches precisely because it isn't priced like a bona fide flagship.

Sadly, the same can be said for many of the other reasonably-priced flagships available today. Hell, even the Vérité Closed appears to be a (great) bargain in the world of top-end (closed) flagships; the Rögnir, the Stellia, the HE-R10P, and now the Stealth are all priced higher.

Still, this hobby, and the industry, as a whole, will continue to advance; hopefully, the innovations and improvements will continue to match the growing delta in price.
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 2:50 AM Post #2,327 of 2,552

Malevolent

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Absolutely, even the Stealth typeface I find garish. RGB lights would be the icing on the cake!

That said, obviously still want to hear these.
You know, I understand why (most) gamers love RGB - they want to bling-bling the heck out of their system, so everything is bathed in a nice hue.

However, I don't really see the point of having RGB on a headphone/headset. You're actually putting these devices on your head, so any RGB it has goes unnoticed.

1629615013347.png
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 2:57 AM Post #2,328 of 2,552

Malevolent

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For sure, it's a race to the top in terms of price, and we consumers have to recognise that we're complicit in pushing these prices up. Part of it is FOMO demand but probably the other part is some kind of bling like factor, which is certainly unpleasant (to say nothing here of cables costing 4k and beyond).

If the closed back Abyss comes in under 3k, then certainly that would be welcome.

I'm not familiar enough with the history of Dan Clark Audio - other than demoing several of the headphones and not being impressed - to get a sense of their pricing policy, but I agree it's an ambitious/aggressive strategy.
Yeah, FOMO is a real bummer indeed.

At this juncture, the closed-back space has seen some really interesting developments of late. The Rögnir and the Stealth are some of the new contenders for the throne.

I'm going to have to see if the Stealth is worth the massive investment that they are commanding - for the same cost, I can get a Utopia. For $500 to $1,000 less, I can get an Empyrean, a Stellia, or a Rögnir. I like all of these headphones - and they are well-regarded, too - but my pockets aren't deep enough to allow me to buy them freely, without remorse, or worse, getting a huge earful from the wife!
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 12:31 PM Post #2,329 of 2,552

Terriero

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Yeah, FOMO is a real bummer indeed.

At this juncture, the closed-back space has seen some really interesting developments of late. The Rögnir and the Stealth are some of the new contenders for the throne.

I'm going to have to see if the Stealth is worth the massive investment that they are commanding - for the same cost, I can get a Utopia. For $500 to $1,000 less, I can get an Empyrean, a Stellia, or a Rögnir. I like all of these headphones - and they are well-regarded, too - but my pockets aren't deep enough to allow me to buy them freely, without remorse, or worse, getting a huge earful from the wife!
You should do a "psycho" (hint: I saw in your profile where you work :wink: ). No problems with your wife, but with the police :wink:
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 2:49 PM Post #2,330 of 2,552

sakt1moko

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I'd skip the AEON Flow Closed; go for a used AEON 2 Closed instead.

If you want something that's a little better on the technical side of things, but perhaps, a little less emotive, try the LCD-2 Closed Back. Again, you'd need to hunt for a used pair, though.

Ive already got aeon flow (no RT) open.
I will looking for an used pair of any of that recommendations.

The fostex closed planar family are not recommended?
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 3:10 PM Post #2,331 of 2,552

Maxx134

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I have noticed most of DCA headphones have a lower upper range. Looking at their latest model, I see the upper spectrum lower than even the upper mids and 1kz.
Screenshot_20210819-172616.jpg
😕
So although the beautiful physical design is obvious, they're signature is not for everyone. 😥
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 3:20 PM Post #2,332 of 2,552

sakt1moko

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I have noticed most of DCA headphones have a lower upper range. Looking at their latest model, I see the upper spectrum lower than even the upper mids and 1kz.

😕
So although the beautiful physical design is obvious, they're signature is not for everyone. 😥
My aeon flow open was my first over 500€ that I've got.

He4xx wipes the floow with it for 120€.

They are not bad, but they got some serious problems with high spikes. The filters fixing some of these problems, and they got a really nice texture bass. But thats all.
Nice desing and confort as well.
Anyway I keep on my collection because they are good for travel.
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 4:41 PM Post #2,333 of 2,552

plakat

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It seems that the new "mid-fi" region is the 1000 to 2000 $/€ range... given the prices of the new TOTL headphones (2500/ 3000 to 6000 $/€)...

By the way, and a little offtopic (sorry Malevolent :wink: ) I'm very curious and also interested about your Abyss 1266 experience... They are insanely expensive, so ugly IMO, some people say that they are uncomfortable, others find them comfortable (YMMV), will be so weird to do adjustment in the headphones every time you put them on.... but... everybody here praise for them with metal music (maybe those cans are so forgiving...) that's why I'm curious about...

Sorry I can't comment on their performance with metal (my metal-time was way back in the ancient past)... To me the Abyss was fine, but nothing extraordinary. I missed the bass presentation of a dynamic driver and found it a bit irritating that there was some sound like the diaphragm crumbling if you took them off your head with music still playing (normal according to the manufacturer, they need the backpressure from your head).
The cables were... garbage. Rather stiff and two independent cables, with the connectors reaching too low (touching your shoulders if tilting your head even just slightly).
Way too heavy and uncomfortable in that you always had to balance them on your head (there's no clamping force if set up correctly, so they will move around when moving your head...). Spatial positioning was phenomenal though. Oh, and they are open... I really prefer closed. Otherwise I'd use speakers at that price point.

The initial adjustment is not what I'd expect from a finished product. Feels more like a garage prototype -- which I guess it is. Never listened to any of the "improved" versions, absolutely no interest. I once put the Diana on my head, just to put it aside before even listening: not just ugly (matter of taste of course) but also missing the finishing touches of comfort (just a too simple construction despite its price). I'm not into the sound of planar magnetic drivers (only MrSpeakers / DCA worked for me so far), but these models just miss the basics on headphone construction. Yes, small shop etc. Still, at that price points this is not acceptable to me.

TL;DR: Would not recommend to a friend :wink:

If I compare the Abyss at its price point with what the D9200 delivers at about 1/4 the cost (6k vs. 1.5K)... I most definitely prefer the Denon. Not only is it a much better deal, its sound signature appeals to me so much more. Win/win I guess... But maybe I needed that excursion (and it was not my only really expensive model) to get a better feel for what really fits me. And that there is no magic bullet hidden up there.
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 4:52 PM Post #2,334 of 2,552

MatW

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In my opinion the latest version, the TC, is a great headphone. The TC is a much better headphone than the first model that came out in 2012, I believe. Some elements are still the same, eg weight. For me, it's probably my favorite headphone, and I've got a bunch.
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 5:17 PM Post #2,335 of 2,552

paradoxper

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In my opinion the latest version, the TC, is a great headphone. The TC is a much better headphone than the first model that came out in 2012, I believe. Some elements are still the same, eg weight. For me, it's probably my favorite headphone, and I've got a bunch.
It is the best headphone on this planet at this time.
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 6:19 PM Post #2,336 of 2,552

Terriero

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Sorry I can't comment on their performance with metal (my metal-time was way back in the ancient past)... To me the Abyss was fine, but nothing extraordinary. I missed the bass presentation of a dynamic driver and found it a bit irritating that there was some sound like the diaphragm crumbling if you took them off your head with music still playing (normal according to the manufacturer, they need the backpressure from your head).
The cables were... garbage. Rather stiff and two independent cables, with the connectors reaching too low (touching your shoulders if tilting your head even just slightly).
Way too heavy and uncomfortable in that you always had to balance them on your head (there's no clamping force if set up correctly, so they will move around when moving your head...). Spatial positioning was phenomenal though. Oh, and they are open... I really prefer closed. Otherwise I'd use speakers at that price point.

The initial adjustment is not what I'd expect from a finished product. Feels more like a garage prototype -- which I guess it is. Never listened to any of the "improved" versions, absolutely no interest. I once put the Diana on my head, just to put it aside before even listening: not just ugly (matter of taste of course) but also missing the finishing touches of comfort (just a too simple construction despite its price). I'm not into the sound of planar magnetic drivers (only MrSpeakers / DCA worked for me so far), but these models just miss the basics on headphone construction. Yes, small shop etc. Still, at that price points this is not acceptable to me.

TL;DR: Would not recommend to a friend :wink:

If I compare the Abyss at its price point with what the D9200 delivers at about 1/4 the cost (6k vs. 1.5K)... I most definitely prefer the Denon. Not only is it a much better deal, its sound signature appeals to me so much more. Win/win I guess... But maybe I needed that excursion (and it was not my only really expensive model) to get a better feel for what really fits me. And that there is no magic bullet hidden up there.
Thank you very much for your detailed answer.

I always remember the comments from DEMs (he was a user of head-fi, but not anymore). He always praise for Z1R and, after tried the Sony Z1R, he sold all of his other headphones, except Meze Empyrean and Abyss 1266 Phi TC. A while after that, he replied me that he stayed prefering the Sonys to the Meze and the Abyss.

Those comments here are good for us and our wallets :wink: :relieved:
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 6:36 PM Post #2,337 of 2,552

Curtisvill

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I always remember the comments from DEMs (he was a user of head-fi, but not anymore). He always praise for Z1R and, after tried the Sony Z1R, he sold all of his other headphones, except Meze Empyrean and Abyss 1266 Phi TC. A while after that, he replied me that he stayed prefering the Sonys to the Meze and the Abyss.

I have been listening to my Z1Rs a lot lately and they are amazing to my ears. I think the weight and fit of the Z1Rs are hands down my favorite, however they do allow a fair amount of leakage unlike my VCs. I like the Z1Rs sound more while listening with the Arche than my White Dwarf, it really sings with an ss amp. If I find myself listening to a bad recording with the Z1Rs they do not hide anything and the sound is just bad. I also feel that the VCs and the Z1Rs both excel at different genres so I choose my headphone based on what I will be listening to. Since I listen to closed backs mostly in bed I find it important to reduce the leakage so that the boss, I mean my wife, does not complain.

I am intrigued by the new Stealth and will wait until I hear some reviews or have the opportunity to listen to it first hand. I purchased a pair of Stellias last week which should arrive on Monday to add to my closed back collection. I love my Clears, sold my Utopias in a moment of weakness, so I am looking forward to the Stellias arrival and giving them a long listen.
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 6:47 PM Post #2,338 of 2,552

AudioDuck

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I purchased a pair of Stellias last week which should arrive on Monday to add to my closed back collection. I love my Clears, sold my Utopias in a moment of weakness, so I am looking forward to the Stellias arrival and giving them a long listen.
I strongly suspect you will love the Stellias, given your fondness for the Clears. There is a lot of great things in common between the Focal open-backs and the Stellias.

To the points made in this string about lower-priced options vs. the Stealth; I am thankful that I’ve been able to afford pre-owned Stellias and that I enjoy them so much (had another fabulous listening session last night).

It is pretty incredible that the cost of a Stealth would buy you a pre-owned Stellia plus a new pair of OG Clears plus good upgrade cables such as the Norne Drausk, which is a wonderful match for the Stellia and Clear. I know which one I’d choose. 😊
But such is life at the ne plus ultra level!
 
Aug 22, 2021 at 7:00 PM Post #2,339 of 2,552

Strayngs

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There is a lot of great things in common between the Focal open-backs and the Stellias.
I absolutely love the Utopia but was very disappointed with the Stellia because they didn’t have the same character, detail and dynamics of the Utopia. It was an unfair expectation I am sure.
 
Aug 23, 2021 at 5:18 AM Post #2,340 of 2,552

plakat

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Thank you very much for your detailed answer.

I always remember the comments from DEMs (he was a user of head-fi, but not anymore). He always praise for Z1R and, after tried the Sony Z1R, he sold all of his other headphones, except Meze Empyrean and Abyss 1266 Phi TC. A while after that, he replied me that he stayed prefering the Sonys to the Meze and the Abyss.

Those comments here are good for us and our wallets :wink: :relieved:

Most definitely.
I'm much more critical of expensive models because I think a better level of every aspect can be expected at those price points. It's sad to see most not live up to my expectations, but on the other hand this saves me a lot of money. As I see it, headphones are going the way of traditional High End, reaching ever new price summits while going straight into esoteric territory. I don't like that trend and won't support it by trying to justify such expenses -- and I do take into account what's called the point of diminishing returns: I think that point is around 1k: up to that improvements are to be had, beyond up to ~1.5k there's the luxury segment. Beyond that... no, thanks.

If there's so much technical trouble with closed headphones, I'd rather see R&D investments there. And not just slapping a 4k price tag on an exercise in brown ugliness. Or were they just 3k? Don't remember...
 

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