W100 vs DT931, HD600 and HFI-650
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dougli

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I've been wondering how the W100 sounds for some time now, and finally got a chance to hear one, with a few hundred hours of usage on it. I've settled on various other phones for regular listening, so I put the W100 up against my favorite three. These are admittedly rather quick impressions.

HFI-650: closed vs. semi-closed, but the level of isolation is much different. I'd call the W100 semi-open. While listening to Loreena McKennit (Celtic/folk), the W100 easily exhibited the reason for its price being 2 1/2 times that of the HFI-650. It was richer overall, and gave a more intimate presence. The 650 gives a good combination of isolation and portability plus decent sound. The W100 is a stay-at-home companion. But again, this is not a match of equals.


DT931: open vs. semi-closed. While listening to Nightwish (metal opera), the 931 was clearer, with crisper bass. It seemed to have an overall wider frequency range, with better highs of course. The W100 seemed to have a slightly-better mid-range, but I couldn't tell if this was actually because of its narrower overall range. The W100 sounded more cramped and confined than the 931.

HD600: open vs. semi-closed. While listening to Eva Cassidy (ballad, jazz), the HD600 had fuller highs. The bass seemed roughtly equal, as did the mids. But overall, the HD600 was smoother and more unrestrained, which made the bass and mids sound more pleasing, and gave them more presence. I did seem to detect a difference in Eva's voice with the W100, but I couldn't decide if it was better, or just different.

The W100 is easier to drive the the HD600 or DT931, and about the same as the HFI-650. Thus, it also can give decent sound without a headphone amp. But I found it less comfortable than the other phones, since the driver screens press agains my ears. I'd get one if it offered true closed can isolation, but then who knows what the sound would be. So, my money stays in my wallet, for now, anyway.
 
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kelly

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Dougli
It seems most people are more kind to the W100 than I am. Ah well.

Just for clarification, the DT931 was driven from the 120ohm jack of your Corda HA-1 and the other headphones were driven from the 0ohm jack, correct?

Should I assume the DT931 is your favorite headphone overall?
 
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dougli

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Yes, I'm probably too kind. I can't really help it; I come from a long line of people that are too kind. I could go and say that the W100 is a nice phone for $200-$250, but I can't see it being worth the $350 plus shipping that it goes for new. Frankly, I was disappointed in what I heard. It looks better than it sounds. But I can see why people like it.

Yes, the DT931 was the only one driven from the Corda's 120 ohm jack. And yes, it's currently my favorite phone. But just barely, because due to my sensitivity to high-pitched sounds, I resort to the HD600 for recordings that contain a lot of upper frequency instruments, like bagpipes or mandolin. I've always liked selecting the right tool for the specific job.

The complete listening setup: Sony DVP-NS500V -> Behringer GEQ-3102 -> Analoguer -> Corda Blue
 
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kelly

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dougli

I noticed that you listed both an EQ and the Analoguer yet still you swap headphones to the HD600 when some recordings have harsh treble? Why not simply adjust with the EQ and/or Analoguer and stick with the DT931 if you prefer it otherwise?

A bit off topic but: Why do you use both the Analoguer and an EQ anyway? What benefit are you getting from the Analoguer that the EQ wasn't providing? Only a couple of people have heard Analoguers and I still have difficulty imagining what it actually does to the sound.
 
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discoman

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dougli,

I agree with your review. I have DT931 and AT W11R (tweaked W100) and both powered by stock Corda.

Yes, DT931 is the most dynamic phone I have heard. Very detail high and powerful yet deep bass, it sounds very fast and clear too. Mid is good, Grado and AKG are better. However, I now prefer AT W11R.

W11R is colored and it is slow, but it gives me the texture and deepness of music, I can't find it in other phones. And I enjoy them the most.

I also have 500v as well, 500v + stock Corda + W11r is not the best combo IMO. 9000es + Corda + Outlaws + W11r is amazing. Each component provide tons of details, maybe it adds up to the texture and deepness that I hear. I am not trying to trash your source
, I like my 500v alot too.

Another reason I prefer W11r is that it is the only phone can provide realistic soundstage to me with crossfeed truned on.
 
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dougli

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discoman: Hmmm...AT W11R, eh? Maybe my money's not safe in my wallet after all. And I know the 500V is a limitation. I was going to have it modded by Stan Warren, but my wife didn't want to do without our only player for that long. So I'm still considering another source to be dedicated soley to my headphone rig.

kelly: I've been meaning to do a brief review of this EQ, but that just hasn't happened yet. After much experimentation, I have the EQ settings as follows: the high cut is set to just under 15K, the low cut is off, the left channel output level is set about 2 Db higher than the right. All of the 31 band sliders are set to 0, except for 31.5, 25 and 20, which rise slightly in that order. The Analoguer has its bass setting at max, and its treble reduction set full on. This gives me the effects of eliminating the most bothersome higher frequencies while still doing justice to female vocalists. It also gives good overall bass (to my ears), and the EQ's output level capability enhances the overall sound richness while balancing the 2 channels, since I'm deafer in one ear. I tried EQing down the higher frequencies with the sliders, but found that I lost as much as I gained, given that I listen primarily to female vocalists. Given all that, for some recordings I still prefer what the HD600 sounds like through all of this, because of its handling of upper frequencies.

Regarding the Analoguer itself, I bought it as a first attempt to control the unpleasant highs. I found that although I could tell a subtle difference at each switch position of both its high and low effects, I still didn't achieve the sound "texturing" that I was seeking. I then got the EQ, but have kept the Analoguer in the mix for two main reasons. Because I have a 15' interconnect between the Analoguer and HA-1, in order to get to my listening post, if I eliminated the Analoguer I'd have to get new cables to run between the EQ and the HA-1. The Analoguer is currently a cable junction as much as anything else. Eventually I'll make or get new cables, but 15' RCA-to-XLR or to-1/4" cables aren't growing on trees, and I've been spending my audio money elsewhere. Also, I figure the Analoguer isn't hurting anything, and probably even helping. I'd need the new cables to find out for sure. I have taken the EQ out of the mix, and do not prefer the resulting sound.

Well, that's probably way more than you wanted to know, but that's the full story.
 
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kelly

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dougli
No, that was perfect--I always appreciate your detailed responses.

Some day I will play around with an Analoguer one way or another. I may eventually add an EQ to the mix too since that makes slightly more sense to me than trying to EQ by cable rolling.

One thing I would suggest to you, which may be obvious, is that if you're still on the upgrade path, consider getting that player of yours tweaked. From what the people on AA and mod sites are saying, you can get as much out of that player with upgrades as you can out of a modded ART DI/O and it'll save you the extra box and digital cable. Better sources definitely have less of what I think is troubling you with the high frequencies -- I'm somewhat sensitive to that myself.
 
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Jeff Guidry

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When I added the Outlaw IC's to my 500v, I was able to discern motor spin up on the CDP I was not able to hear before, a victim I imagine of the noisy switching power supply. I too have been investigating the mods for the 500v. I would appreciate any additional thoughts on modding this fine player at the thread I started here.

Thanks.
 
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dougli

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kelly, you started me thinking about the best use for Analoguer. I've put it into my home stereo setup, with positive results in reducing harshness. I cannot tell a difference in the headphone rig's sound now that the Analoguer is missing from the headphone setup, which I attribute to the EQ. I still need to pick up some new cables to reconfigure things to permanently handle the Analoguer's absence. Nothing like a little tinkering on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

And I'm working on a way to get the 500V tweaked and still keep everyone happy here around the old homestead...
 
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