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TOTL System suggestions for metal music

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by MachineGunz, Oct 7, 2019.
  1. MachineGunz
    Hi,

    I wrote an absolute ton here, Sorry about that.

    I wrote almost everything that is on my mind - I tried to make it as clear as I can. Thank you very much for your help!


    TLDR: I have the audeze lcd x and want to upgrade to the final level.
    i am looking for my totl pair of headphones that will fit my music taste which is mostly metal(along with suggestions of equipment that will get the best out of them).

    I am going to buy them used.

    How is the Chord Hugo 2 with any of them?

    My contenders are:

    1. ABYSS AB 1266 (Not sure which version)
    2. Audeze LCD-4
    3. Focal Utopia


    Here is a list of my most listened songs - If any of the headphones can play them / most of them perfectly than they are the best for me.

    Orden Ogan - Gunmen
    Beast In Black - Beast in black
    Sabaton - Seven pillars of wisdom
    Five Finger Death Punch - Lift me up
    Brothers of metal - Fire blood and steel
    Breaking Benjamin - Red cold river

    Zardonic - For justice



    So After listening to some songs you can understand my tastes.

    I am looking for an aggressive sound signature - I do not want a gentle sound experience that will "lightly touch my ears" and will be so silky and fun.

    I want a full out war - an In your face sound signature with awesome strong really fast incredible meaty bass with really strong dialogue and clear and transparent detail.

    I get plenty of that with the LCD-X but I want the next level.

    After reading the ultimate headphones for metal music guide:
    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/headphones-for-metal-music-ultimate-solution.715478/

    I am leaning a lot towards the Abyss ab 1266 - but I understand that there have been a few versions since the original - The abyss Phi and Phi CC and now the Phi TC. After reading about the abyss I am afraid that it is actually lacking in a lot of areas.

    There are bad opinions considering their micro dynamics capabilities and the treble region and their handling of vocals and their inability to extract detail and according to them even the phi doesn't seem to resolve this completely. There are also reports of sibilance in the treble.

    but then there are people who swear that they **** all over totl headphones like hd800m stax focal utopia and again some opinions that the abyss are not even close to the utopias.

    I am also worried about the comfort. and the prices for accessories - 400$ for pads? really?

    But it is very cool that the pads are magnetic and that I can adjust them for optimal performance.


    2. Audeze LCD-4 - Again there is conflicting information, Some say they are an upgrade in every way to the LCD-X and that it has amazing bass and amazing midrange and an upgrade to the treble and that they are amazing while other say that the treble is horrible and that they are not detailed at all compared to the focal utopias and hd800.

    I remember reading a long time ago that the LCD-4 can also suffer from the haze I wrote about. and I want to get rid of it. I really like clean, clear and transparent sound, I hate distortions even when they are a part of songs.


    3. Focal Utopia - Once again conflicting information and also a lack of information. Some regard them as the best headphones in the world while others are not impressed and prefer to buy the focal clears and get 85%-90% of the utopias at a much lower price. I am afraid that their bass will not be satisfying and that they will be too laid back.

    I need your help in deciding the way to go for my TOTL system which I will never plan on upgrade :)

    I did read the ultimate guide to headphones for metal and it is a great help -

    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/headphones-for-metal-music-ultimate-solution.715478/

    What I currently own:

    headphones:
    Main headphones: Audeze LCD-X
    other headphones - Hifiman He400i - was replaced by the LCD-X due to soft bass impact and punch.
    ATH AD900X - Was my first airy headphones which taught me what is soundstage, imaging and air. Was replaced by the He400i due to being too bright sounding and bass light.
    Travel headphones - ATH M50X - I ****** LOVE the aggressive and in your face sound signature they have, The highs can get sibilant for me at louder volumes but it is not completely unbearable.

    I of course would like the headphone to be a "jack of all trades" and be able to listen to a variety of different genres, But my main focus is metal music - In the last few years I noticed that I am really staying in my own place in terms of genres and not developing new tastes.

    I will do my best to sort my preferences and list my most listened artists, And I will list my most listened songs by each artist so you will understand my tastes.

    I will really really appreciate it if you will listen to some on these songs and tell me your opinion about them with different headphones and equipment.


    I highlighted the most important songs for me - Please test at least them: If any of my choices do sound incredible with all of these songs / most of them than I will probably buy them.

    Orden Ogan - Gunmen
    Beast In Black - Beast in black
    Sabaton - Seven pillars of wisdom
    Five Finger Death Punch - Lift me up
    Brothers of metal - Fire blood and steel
    Breaking Benjamin - Red cold river
    Zardonic - For justice


    The extended list of my favorite artists and songs:
    70% metal - Artists:

    Sabaton:
    1. The entire great war album (favorite song from it is seven pillars of wisdom)
    2. Last dying breath - Epic
    3. Sparta - Epic
    4. Attero dominatus -Epic
    5. Counterstrike
    6. Back in control


    Beast in black
    1. Beast in black - One of my favorite songs off all time 0:55 - 01:55 IS AMAZING - I wish I could find a good mastered version of this song - It sound distant and kind of muffled.
    2. Repentless - Also nice
    3. Zodd the immortal

    Orden Ogran
    I only recently discovered them (a shame) and have so far been playing them on repeat for the last few weeks, The also have very good mastering in my opinion (sounds clean and transparent)

    1. Gunmen - Incredible sense of power and "badassness" while listening to this haha
    2. Forlorn and forsaken
    3. One last chance
    4. Fields of sorrow

    Five Finger Death Punch
    1. Lift me up
    2. Dot your eyes
    3. Menace
    4. The Pride
    5. Back for more
    6. American Capitalist
    7. War is the answer
    8. Burn MF
    9. Burn it down
    10. White knuckles


    Brothers of metal
    1. Fire blood and steel - Favorite part of the song is: 01:50 to the end - at 02:12 it sounds like it is going to end but it just goes all out
    2. Defenders of valhalla
    3. Siblings of metal
    4. Prophecy of ragnarok
    5. Sleipnir
    6. Death of the god of light


    Breaking Benjamin
    1. The album Ember (Amazing mastering and INCREDIBLE BEAUTIFUL STRONG POWERFUL BASS - By that I mean that I really like the fact that is sounds clean and transparent) - favorite songs: feed the wolf / red cold river
    2. The album phobia

    Zardonic - He is an example of electronic metal which I also like to listen to:
    1. For justice - A must test - 01:57 - 03:26 - THE BEST BUILDUP IN EXISTENCE
    2. Vigilante
    3. Pure power
    4. The time is now (outside agency remix)

    More songs that I like:
    The vengeful one - Disturbed
    Indestructible - Disturbed
    Are you ready Disturbed


    Also: Here is my spotify playlist containing all of my liked songs that I listen to on a daily basis - I will be playing songs from it 90% of the time I listen to music and most of the above songs are in it:

    https://open.spotify.com/playlist/47GVYCR1YD69Kl7UksnsB8?si=7IEpaQW8RFGGmt3os0OuJw


    20% electronic - Artists:
    2. Seven lions
    3. Mitis

    I also listen to Psytrance without specific artists.

    10% everything else

    I never ever listen to these genres unless I test equipment or songs:
    classical music (boring to my tastes)
    jazz (although it is usually mastered well and sounds good it is still boring for me)


    and pretty much the rest genres.

    I am saying this because I do not want the headphones to excel in them. I never listen to them.

    So After listening to some songs you can understand my tastes.

    I am looking for an aggressive sound signature - I do not want a gentle sound experience that will "lightly touch my ears" and will be so silky and fun.

    I want a full out war - an In your face sound signature with awesome strong really fast incredible meaty bass with really strong dialogue and clear and transparent detail.

    I get plenty of that with the LCD-X but I want the next level.



    I am looking for an upgrade because:

    1. I had this current setup for over 2 years (before the Modi 3 I had the odac) and I can now invest enough money for a TOTL pair of headphones and equipment.

    2. My amplifier is starting to die on me so I might just get a new amplifier that will suit a new pair of headphones.

    3. In 2016 I was at Berlin and listened to the Audeze LCD-4 connected to the fostex hp-v8.

    It was playing Terry Evans - Putting it down. (I will never listen to it, I don't even know what genre it belongs to).

    It was the best / realistic thing / experience I have ever heard in my life - I remember that I could not explain what I heard - I couldn't describe it. Not because of shock but because I couldn't say that I was listening to a pair of headphones - It sounded like I was in the middle of the song and it sounded 100% real.

    I wasn't able to describe elements of the presentation and sound characteristics, For example I could not describe how the bass felt or how the voice of the singer sounded - if it was laid back or forward or full. Everything just sounded like reality. And I also had a weird weird feeling of euphoria just sitting there in the room while listening to this. It was shocking.

    So ever since than I understood that there is a considerably higher level than what I currently have and I want to experience it on a daily basis.

    4. I would like to get a more comfortable pair than the lcd-x since they are really heavy and I adjust them quite a lot.

    If there is anything I do not like about the LCD-X is that there is sometime a haze songs - Some detail sound clear while others sound like they are behind a curtain and it doesn't matter how loud I play - It will still retain this haze.

    I currently have 3 contenders:

    1. Abyss ab 1266 (not sure on which version)
    2. Audeze LCD-4
    3. Focal Utopia

    1. - Abyss ab 1266

    After reading the ultimate headphones for metal music guide:
    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/headphones-for-metal-music-ultimate-solution.715478/

    I am leaning a lot towards the Abyss ab 1266 - but I understand that there have been a few versions since the original - The abyss Phi and Phi CC and now the Phi TC. After reading about the abyss I am afraid that it is actually lacking in a lot of areas.

    There are bad opinions considering their micro dynamics capabilities and the treble region and their handling of vocals and their inability to extract detail and according to them even the phi doesn't seem to resolve this completely. There are also reports of sibilance in the treble.

    but then there are people who swear that they **** all over totl headphones like hd800m stax focal utopia and again some opinions that the abyss are not even close to the utopias.

    I am also worried about the comfort. and the prices for accessories - 400$ for pads? really?

    But it is very cool that the pads are magnetic and that I can adjust them for optimal performance.


    2. Audeze LCD-4 - Again there is conflicting information, Some say they are an upgrade in every way to the LCD-X and that it has amazing bass and amazing midrange and an upgrade to the treble and that they are amazing while other say that the treble is horrible and that they are not detailed at all compared to the focal utopias and hd800.
    From my very short experience with them they sounded amazing - but that was at their best and the song was the absolute opposite of my tastes. If the LCD-4 is only good at these genres than they are not for me.

    I remember reading a long time ago that the LCD-4 can also suffer from the haze I wrote about. and I want to get rid of it. I really like clean, clear and transparent sound, I hate distortions even when they are a part of songs.


    3. Focal Utopia - Once again conflicting information and also a lack of information. Some regard them as the best headphones in the world while others are not impressed and prefer to buy the focal clears and get 85%-90% of the utopias at a much lower price. I am afraid that their bass will not be satisfying and that they will be too laid back.

    I also need recommendation for a dac and amplifier for each headphone.

    I am able to get the Chord hugo 2 for an ok price used. How will he be with either of them?
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2019
  2. johnzz4
    I would wait on the phones and start with your upstream gear. You have a lot of room left in the LCDX to scale and it has a more dynamic sound than most phones.
     
    BreadMaster and phthora like this.
  3. CreditingKarma
    I used to own the lcd x and the lcd 4z. I have heard the lcd 4 and 24 as well. The 4 and 4z have more mid presence than the lcd x. The x is a more neutral headphone than the 4 and 4z to mg ears. The lcd 24 is more neutral than any other lcd that I have heard. They sound like audeze was going for the sound of the empyrean with more detail and less midrange.

    I sold the 4z do fund speakers and the bought the abyss diana phi. These were great headphones and had a more aggressive presentation than all of the audeze line up. The treble extension and detail were better and the sound stage was bigger.

    I ended up with the Abyss AB-1266 Phi Tc. After listening to them there was no going back for me. They are like the love child of the utopia and audeze. The bass of the audeze but to my ears faster and more visceral. The detail of the utopia and the speed and resolution of the stax sr009s. They are extremely revealing and they will show the flaws in a recording. An example would be on dystopia by megadeth.you can hear the distortion for mixing too hot on this track.

    The ab1266 can not be driven properly from the hugo 2 either nor can the lcd 4. The utopia can be driven by the hugo 2 as can the lcd 4z and 24. The diana phi can be driven with the h2 but not to optimal levels.

    I was pairing the abyss with a metrum onyx and Cavalli liquid platinum and that did very well. I am now using a Hugo TT2. This is a great option and has more than enough power to drive all of the headphones you are looking at as well as it being an incredible dac. You can also add an mscaler later as well.

    If you have really deep pockets the wells headtrip 2 is an incredible sounding solid state amp. It sounds incredible but I have a friend that has had issues with his unit and has had to send it in for service 2 times. The formula s is a great pairing with the abyss too as is the auris nirvana.

    Pretty much with most of the headphones you are looking into it will cost at least $10,000 to get the best out of them.
     
    rickles likes this.
  4. Ciggavelli
    Metal is my favorite genre. I listen to all varieties of metal, from funeral doom to grindcore. I have spent a lot of time and money building the best metal setup that I could afford. So far, these have all worked very, very well with metal of all kinds.

    Headphones: Abyss Phi TC
    DAC: Chord Hugo TT2 with the Chord M-scaler
    Headphone amp: Woo Audio WA33

    That setup is pricey, but metal sounds so outrageously good on it.

    I also own Focal Utopias and Fostex TH900mk2s and the TC really beats them at almost every aspect of sound. The Utopias are more intimate, with the smaller sound stage, and arguably better highs, and that's it. The Th-900Mk2 are great for bass heavy music (hip-hop), but are definitely a few levels below the TCs and Utopias.

    I'm contemplating buying the Susvaras to compliment the TCs, but, I don't think anything can beat the above setup for metal (other than maybe replacing the TT2 with a DAVE...maybe).
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
  5. Tekunda
    Hi,it depends of course how deep your pockets are.
    If money is not really a concern, I would go with above mentioned setup:

    Headphones: Abyss Phi TC
    DAC: Chord Hugo TT2 with the Chord M-scaler
    Headphone amp: Woo Audio WA33


    Otherwise I would recommend you the following setup:

    The new Heddphones with ATM technology for $1700
    THe DAC/AMP Questyle 12CMA for $1400
    and via USB you stream Qobuz or Tidal

    or you swap the Heddphones for the Focal Clear or around $900 (if you shop around a bit)

    and for around $3000 or less you will get a fantastic setup for Metal and Dubstep and other ED music.
     
  6. Thenewguy007
    Just get the Hifiman HE1000 V2

    Nowhere near as hard to drive as the Abyss, has more authoritative bass & wider soundstage than the Utopia & has a cleaner, more neutral sound signature than the LCD-4.
     
  7. lambdastorm
    The MSRP for heddphones is going to be 2 grands. I talked to their marketing manager at AES, and funnily enough he had worked at Audeze for 4 years.

    You mentioned in another thread that HEDDphones have the potential to surpass Abyss as the new TOTL king. From what I've heard at the show, it still has a long way to go. Either that or they don't pair well with Hugo II.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
  8. Tekunda
    I don't think that the HUGO II is the best choice to drive the Heddphones.
    At the Audiovista show in Krefeld, Germany, I was allowed to hook up the Heddphones to my personal Questyle 12 CMA unit.
    I felt that the Heddphones fare very well with an amp supplying more current.
    For me, even under show conditions, there was a substantial improvement in sound quality with the Questyle. I think it has to do with the fact that a lot of surface has to be moved with the ATM drivers, so you will need power than a Hugo II can deliver.
     
  9. lambdastorm
    I don't think hugo 2 can show their full potential either. Low efficiency planars like HE6 and Abyss scale tremendously well with power, and if heddphone's specs is any indication, they would shine with more power too.

    Also I love how you carried that big of a unit to the show. I once carried my power amp to canjam just to demonstrate how good power can transform an HE6, got lots of stink eyes from securities lol.
     
    Tekunda likes this.
  10. candlejack
    Cool thread. I don't have enough experience with the headphones you are interested in to comment, but I would like to share a bit of (obvious advice). The forum is a great resource to narrow your choice down, but in the end you should really audition the gear yourself (a few times) before making a final decision.

    Good luck!
     

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