Hi y’all audio enthusiasts,
I just happened to come across the thread about the gathering of legendary headphones at munkonggadget flagship store, and I happened to be free as well. So I decided that I would give it a try and go demo that bunch of the very best headphones that money can and cannot buy.
First thing first, please consider that I am not a hardcore fan or buyer of audio equipment at all. I’ve been using the KSC35 along with MS-1 and Livewires in some occasion, while my hi-fi experience have been coming from listening to other people’s gear and my best friend’s incredible car audio system. Kindly take my comments as just 2 cents. They were written on the fly just for the purpose of being my own memorandum for future purchase. After the owner of the store came across my note, he urged me to post the note of mine on his web board to share my experience and impression. There goes, now I’ve become the first candid reviewer for this project.
Below, you will see an excerpt of my emotion that I tried my best to describe all 10 headphones, in order of myself listening to, in my own language. Sorry that it is only text-based and not a very structural review (told you it is my feeling on the fly). You can also see that the length of review will start to get shorter as I go on because my ability started to diminish after lengthy period of listening (It was like 5-6 hours straight).
Before going into the review part, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Mr.Kiertijai, whom I’m not acquainted to but he is very patronage enough to lend his collection of gears worth more than 45k USD to people, whom he has never known of, for demo. There won’t be this biggest project without his ignition.
feeling very real and laid-back, sounds so much like a home stereo system. They are light-weight and very comfortable to wear. The con is the system that has to be matched with them. They require the use of power amplifier. However, that means one investment that can be used for both home based and headphone based system!
Sonic-wise, they provide awesome dynamic sound. The drum beats are very life-like. Also, they have got very distinct atmosphere when listening. Female vocal is superb. On the other hand, they can sound very colored to some ears. A track with huge image of vocalist can be a tad too upfront to me. The only weakness of these is that they do not sound very engaging for genres like rock, metal. In conclusion, these pair of cans (okay I’ll call them can) are suitable for audiophile, jazz, classical genres and can be used for a very long period of time without fatigue. Those who love the atmosphere of home system will definitely love these. To be specific, the elder are sure to love them ha-ha.
Jecklin Float QA:
just like the name states. They literally float on your head. First impression, comfort is top notch since they just sit on your head. But there is no sound isolation at all. It is like putting a pair of speakers next to your ears. You will need a room with some privacy to fully enjoy the pleasure that these headphones got to give. Another con, perhaps just to me, is the material of the headband kind of makes my head feel itchy.
Their sound is pretty similar to takeT H2+ in term of being home system-like but I would say Float QA is quite more of monitored type headphones and they sound more open comparatively. The clarity of the drum is somewhat less upfront, however, not in a negative way. Some people would find this kind of drum hitting sound more forgiving to their ears, when listening for a long period of time.
I would say they are monster of the same breed. But if I was to choose, I prefer Float QA to takeT H2+ because I personally feel they are more suitable to wider range of music.
These are a heavy-weight class phones, yes I mean the weight. Their cups clamp my head a little bit for me.
My first impression is that the sound is very smooth, pleasure to hear. Nevertheless, they kind of lack the atmosphere that the first two give. But what make these cans shine is their deeper region of bass. They perform so well in this aspect. The oomph is very deep, impactful and controlled. In my opinion, their tonal balance is great. No sharp or edgy sound is heard even when listening to the female vocal track with lots of high pitch instrument.
If I have to summarize, these cans have got dark, but not veiled, sound signature. They perform well in each region especially the lower frequency. The drawback I find is that they lack some original charm but they are definitely a so-great all arounder when matched with the right amp.
Sennheiser HE90 Orpheus:
One word I want to give is "magnificent". When put onto my ears, the classical track was being played. I believe this is the Orpheus's forte. They can deliver the sound of full orchestra band with endless power. I've got some exposure on orchestra in the past, not an enthusiast though. These pair of headphones is able to reproduce most experience you'd get when going out for a band at night. In this regard, I found that it sounds so real that the problem is myself, who have never sat near where they place the microphone to record the band playing or I would be able to compare them with higher accuracy.
To clarify further and not just explain with comparison and metaphor. I think the quality which makes Orpheus deserves the name of being the king is their ability on producing "dynamic" and "real life-like sound". The dynamic quality enables me to discern every detail of the band on stage and it makes the flow of sound so fluid and smooth. For the cans being life-like, I think I could say the sound is very real because I used to be in a band myself. The sound of baritone saxophone is just like a real thing to me.
One more thing I cannot easily put into word is that, Orpheus just breathe more life into tracks and they sound very captivating, especially the female vocal track. I felt like each track worth a revisit few times. Too bad I don't have a chance to own this but this experience is very memorable. They are truly flawless to me.
My first impression for SR-009 is that they produce a very delicate sound (not sure whether this is the sound signature of electrostatic driver).
In my opinion, SR-009 produces just the right amount of mid-range and they present the song in such a way that it is not pushing or too laid-back. The high range is also presented in such a manner. Detail is very good. There is some person finding the quantity of the bass to be lacking and I somewhat agree. However, the deep range bass is still there. Unlike Orpheus that continues to awe you, I think SR-009 is delicate, so smooth that I got tranquil feeling from them. These are the headphone that could put you to sleep, in a good way I meant!
To me, I prefer SR-009 to the Orpheus because the latter is just too great. I was mesmerized by the Orpheus too much that I might not have a break from oh-so-awesome moment and that, for me, can be psychologically tiring. Well, not that I can afford to choose any of them anyway ha-ha. But this is just the impression I got from comparing these two kings.
First impression I got from these are "accuracy" and "bold". Each sound and note is very tight. If metaphor is needed, I would depict the Abyss as a legion of well-disciplined marching soldier with thunder clamoring sound in their wake. They are just that tight! The bass, both quantity and quality wise, is fantastic. You can feel the oomph and the deep low shaking sound so well. Those who love hip-hop and beat will definitely like it. The songs are very engaging with this pair of headphones. Listening to some pop tracks such as "Rolling in the deep", I find that it might be too engaging for some situations. The wave of sound just keeps coming that I couldn't concentrate on other things. But there was no sign of fatigue that I felt from that.
These cans are astonishingly good with rock, metal, hip hop and engaging genres of music. They also perform well with classical and audiophile track but you won't get the home-system-like atmosphere. They are designed to sound like a headphone! But I can assure that they got more than enough power to deliver the music beautifully.
The overall emotion I got is that they are the most "fun" cans to me. They are definitely better than other planar magnetic breed but worth the price tag? It depends and I couldn’t say. The weight of these might feel heavy on hand but they sit quite well on your head ergonomically. Not stuffing at all too.
To me, these pair of phones just doesn’t sound like closed-headphone at all. The soundstage is really vast. I found the mid-range of R10 to be slightly colored. The treble is not very pushy to my ears. They are sometimes on the verge of making me feel fatigue but have never done so. The amazing thing about these pair of phones is their bass. I could notice details of drum beats coming from it and I felt it is very charming to listen to a male vocal track with these.
For classical track, I didn't find it to be on pars with those I've tried earlier today. I mean it's good and the detail is there but it just doesn't deliver enough power for my taste such as the sound of brass equipment in the band. I found it to be not enough engaging for me. These are a pair of headphones which are easy to listen to. The tonal balance is great. But it doesn't fit my taste as the earlier phones. Good thing is, they put you in a great distance with the music you listen just like SR-009 but I think SR-009 still outperform R10 in this regard.
Their sound is very transparent. They are very suitable for acoustic and vocal song. Rarely, I find the level of clarity to be quite too much and each instrument is so separated that the music lacks coherence in overall. However, I think that jazz fan and enthusiast will be quite fond of these cans. The sound of saxophone is so sweet through them.
These cans, IMO, are not very good with rock and metal. The amount of high-frequency fed from DX2k is too much and too forward sounding. I felt some fatigue going on, listening to just one track of Megadeth. Somehow, with the colored sounding, it's like adding feminine to the metal track ha-ha. Fluidity is pretty good, still.
I don't know about the price tag of these but they are not for someone who looks for an all arounder headphones. They are exceptional to certain genres of music. That's all.
Sennheiser HD800 revisit:
Last time, I was listening to them with Burson Conductor and they were disappointing and horrible. Frankly, I wouldn’t pay for this kind of sound even if the price tag of the cans themselves is below 300USD. This time, on the other hand, they were going to be paired with tube amp from Woo so I hope I can listen to them when they fully shine.
I've got 2 things to comment before going into aspect about their sound. Firstly, for person who think that the HD800 are so harsh and sterile. Please consider twice before judging them. These pair of phones is one monster which is utmost component-dependent. I couldn't listen to them at all pairing with Conductor. Secondly, the cost of the whole system will likely exceed 5k USD range in order to make them really shine so budget is also a thing to consider.
After listen to them, there was no sign of harsh and sterile sounding at all this time. The sound is very natural and the image of the vocalist is just right to me. They are capable of being called (one of) the best monitored headphones. They kind of deliver the tracks just the way they are; no more, no less. I found that their soundstage do extend “a lot”. I've got a very spacy feeling when listen to these headphones.
I'm against those who think that these pair of cans does not go well with rock or metal genre. I think they deliver the overall image wonderfully. There was no sign of fatigue listening with them. They just lack the ability to make people shake their head with emotion and engaging feeling. HD800 is the headphones that let you listen to the music for a very long period of time while you can still concentrate on some other things. Their comfort when wearing is superb as well.
Think of them this way, HD800 to me is also considered an all arounder but on the opposite pole of HE-6. HD800 is on the bright side, while HE-6 is on the dark side.
They've got a very distinctive sound signature. This must be the way Japanese manufacturers like their thing. The vocal and mid-range are emphasized, focused but pushed back a little bit. They deliver a very sweet sound. Bass performance is really good especially the low bass. It stretches down to the very low range with quality. Listen to the vocal tracks through these is also breath-taking.
How should I say it? After listening to too many hi-end phones, my ability to discern things, start to be a little bit dull. These are definitely nice sounding headphones. They've got their charm which is hard to describe (I'm not helping you guys at all, right? Sorry). You've got to try these whether they are right for you, just like Audio Techinca I guess. However, the drawback is that I think that they are not very suitable for the tracks that have too many things and instruments going on at the same time.
My own bottom line:
All of them were good. Now I know all sonic profiles of each the headphones. None is clearly the best in every regard. This will be dependent on your preferences and how you are going to listen to your music most of the time. If I may, I’d like to do a segmentation of people based on their profile that might come to like each of the headphones.
Those who yearn for sonic profile of home audio system but are limited to small space or a place which is acoustically bad:
They might come to like H2+ and Float QA because they reproduce the sound in such a manner. And why would I go so far as to say that they’ve got to live in a small place? This is because these headphones have to be built based on home amplifier. Why would a person but headphones which priced almost equivalent to loudspeakers and then get a very similar sonic profile. I myself just find it unnecessary for people to own both home audio system along with these cans.
Those who like an engaging and tight sound:
They might come to like all planar magnetic cans such as AB-1266, LCD-3, and HE-6.
Those who like an accurate sonic profile:
They might come to like HD800 and HE-6
Those who like to have an everlasting awesome moment: Go with Orpheus if you can!
Those who like a Zen-like peaceful moment:
Just go with SR-009 but be careful not to fall asleep!
Those who like Japanese sonic profile (Am I being redundant here!?):
Go with TH900 or DX2000.
Sadly for R10, I was not able to determine its sonic profile that well.
This shall conclude my not-so-nice opinion on each beast. Thank you for those who actually read thru my vent up to this point. Godspeed!