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Headphones, Impressions, Music

Japanese haunting, treasure of China, and classic top dog, among other things.

So no fancy schmancy writing this time, just straight to the point and what not. This time I’m more prepared. I’ve compiled a testing playlist of songs:

  1. Locked girl from House set of “Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil” by Black Cat Lounge circle

  2. Track 3 from House set of “Subterranean Animism” by Black Cat Lounge circle

  3. Tsuritama ED “Sora mo Toberu Hazu” by Sayonara Ponytail

  4. Resistance by Muse (The Resistance)

  5. Howl by Florence and the Machine (Lungs)

Songs are all 320 kbps mp3 because that’s the most convenient format for a portable.

For #1, I picked it to listen for a 2kHz/7kHz focus in the song because of a whistle, the flutes and cymbals for sibilance, bass impact since it’s an electronic song and for it’s spacious sound stage.

For #2, it’s also an electronic song, so bass impact again, to test for separation between the elements in the song, for plankton-gazing (micro-details and background sounds) and hard panning.

#3 is to test some female vocals. Looking at the spectrum visualization in foobar2K, this looks like a good thing to test the upper midrange/ low treble region. This song is also quite sibilant so, this would be the litmus test if any of the gear I audition is sibilant or not. This song sadly is being monitored heavily on YouTube, so I can’t get the original.

#4 is something that’s a bit less Japanese and something more acceptable to other people that’s less keen on Japanese songs. Obviously this is mainly for male vocals, but also for it’s spaciousness, especially drums and bass, and some plankton-gazing too.

#5 is another Western, and a substitute for #3. I find that the vocalist’s voice is deeper than the one in #3 though. And the copy I have is of not stellar mastering I feel, so this would serve as a song for revealing gear.

This time around though, I’m more equipped than the last time I visit Jaben. So my test equipment this time is:

Nokia N8 ==USB OTG==> Leckerton Audio UHA-4 (w/ OPA209) USB port => audition gear

My Control equipment for this is my Sony MDR-7550 (EX800ST).

So first off, I’d say that today is quite a noisy day in the shop. There was a new shipment of headphones just arrived into the store, there’s a gaggle of college girls trying out stuff and chatting, and generally some other people that’s trying out stuff too. So it’s less than ideal condition to be auditioning headphones. Lets get on to my impressions.

Beyerdynamic DT880PRO [H1]

I find that the DT880pro has good bass impact, sparkly treble, handles vocals pretty sufficiently for me and has some great sound-staging and positioning. I feel that overall the bass is given slightly more emphasis than the others, although I find the other regions aren’t lacking too. I might be inclined to acknowledge that it has good detail retrieval too, but is questionable since the environ is quite noisy. Surprisingly I feel that it less sibilant than Control in #3. Maybe this just means that the treble is voiced differently, but I still feel that H1 has more treble energy.

Sometimes I find the cymbals sounds splashy as in #3 and #4, but in #1 it’s more sharper and pronounced, crisp. IMO it also can deliver some great ambience and air (#4). Overall though, considering my first 2 Beyer product encounter ended in less than stellar impressions, I’m surprised by how agreeable it is H1 turned out to be. All I need now is to compare this side by side with the K701 and HD650.

VSonic GR07 mkII (w/ my Sony hybrid green (M)) [H2]

Well, well, well. If it isn’t the venerable GR07. In fact it’s the 2nd generation. By the end of my audition with this, I ended up writing “FUCKING PERFECTION” in my notes. Lets see why I wrote that.

The first thing I noticed (in #1) is that the bass impact is way more than Control. I find that it carries, or rather rides on the vocals IMO. It’s very vocal-focused, but not at the expense of either end of the spectrum. The bass is quite powerful for this non-basshead, but nothing too powerful that I am sick of it. Certain songs could get a bit overpowered by the bass if it lacks any vocals or if the song has plenty of it, as is the case with #1 and #2. The treble is a bit laid back compared to the vocals and bass, but it’s still substantial and has definition. It is also more revealing compared to Control, as I can readily and easily hear some artifacts on #5 compared to when I use Control.

I feel though that H2 has more spacious sound-stage compared to Control. I don’t think it’s by any large amount, but enough for me to appreciate the larger size in #1, #2, and #4. Cymbals sounds crisper compared to Control. Although I feel that H2 have the same treble energy as Control, IMO the voicing is slightly different that I find the flute-ish sound in #1 softer on H2. Since it’s quite revealing, well mastered tracks would also revealing the plankton-y goodies it stores.

All in all though, by the time I arrive at #5, I have an ear-to-ear grin plastered on my face and am now saving to get this as soon as monetarily and sensibly possible. It’s just too good pass, even better than Control. In fact I feel that this is what it would sound like if the JVC FXT90 has babies with the MDR-7550.

FAD Adagio V [H3]

So a FAD product. They have been getting air time since they make some pretty interesting IEMs and headphones such as the Piano Forte series and the Muramasa VII. This is one of their less expensive line, but it is still quite that.

Overall, I find that it sounds too similar to Control, but with a bit more treble energy, and lacking something to the vocals that I can’t quite put my finger on. The bass is so-so, no great extension from what I got in my brief time. I find that cymbals are splashy overall, but in #2, it’s crisper and sparklier compared to in other test songs. Sound-stage is lesser than H1, H2, and Control, although the width is still good. Panning sounds also lacks definition IMO. Vocals are delivered okay enough for this vocal-junkie.

I think after being blown off by H2, this sounded pretty meh to me. If I were to listen to this first, or maybe not heard H2 at all, I would assume that I’d like this a lot more than what I’m writing right now.

FAD Piano Forte VIII [H4]

Ah yes. A sculpture of an earphone. An art of a listening instrument. A fucking expensive thing and I am quite nervous handling these D:

I asked the clerk if I can try this, not hoping that I can. To my surprise, he just opens a box up and hands me them. Okay. So what do I think about it? Enigmatically unique.

I decided to go with this song by song. Song #1 seems to be delivered with a treble tilt of sorts. It has good bass, but somehow kind of odd and H4 seems to focus on the whistling sound/instrument. Cymbals is damn good with this (TZszs), crisp, sparkly, abruptly great. I find that H4 has the widest sound-stage so far. The door sound in #1 truly did surprised me at how far I perceived it. Other things I said in my note is violin sounds kind of weird, and the detail is okay-ish.

Onto song #2, the bass is slightly masking the background details, but impact sounds great. Too great (I wrote). There wasn’t a lot of “air”, and the song sounds somewhat hollow and soulless, but still kind of spacious, almost spooky-like. I find that this song is delivered in a weird, but intriguing, way.

Song #3.The vocals are warm. The first time I heard they are sang like this, so maybe I could be wrong in my assessment. But my gut feeling says they are warm. The piano is a bit recessed, and I noted that there’s almost no natural sibilance (reminder #3 is noted as quite sibilant). Again, I find that H4 focused more on the vocals and some okay-ish ends of the spectrum. Other notation I did is weak plankton-gazing and weak air.

The first thing I noticed in song #4 is the wide sound-stage. I noted that it has weak air, but still great sound-staging. Lacking in bass body, warm, veiled-ish vocals, and the guitar is more focused on H4 than on the others I listened today. Although I noted that the vocals are kind of veiled, overall H4 still sounds vocal-focused. Again, H4 shown me the song in a weird sound signature.

By the time I got to song #5, I’m thoroughly bemused and gave up, and tried to enjoy H4. FWIW, I find that this song turned out quite haunting.

Overall, I came to the conclusion that this is a very unique and special earphones, unlike anything I’ve had ever heard so far. It sounds hollow yet spacious, felt that it lacks details, but somehow they are just beyond my reach, as if the details; core details, mind you, not the planktons; are haunting me. The vocals also felt weird. All in all, I find that H4 is quite haunting and probably a reverse slasher’s smile sound signature.

JH13 Pro universal demo CIEM (w/ generic large double flange tip) [H5]

The first thing that I note is that it sounds clean somehow. Spotless. #1 showed me again with the doors how wide H5 can go. This time around though, I find that the cymbals sounds sizzly (TZZZZzzz). For all the songs, H5 delivered great bass body and impact, bass guitar sounds especially deep and it rumbles quite nicely. Kind of like how you can feel a cat purr on your lap once you get to pat and make it relax and comfortable. The vocals sound stunning, great bass extension, and can very speedy and effortless in busy tracks (#5). On #2, I noted that it’s delivered effortlessly and very clean, very good panning and good plankton-gazing.

Something I noted that astounds me  is that H5 plays #3 with the utmost least sibilance to a sibilant song. I just can’t wrap my head around that, since even with the darkest headphones I have (stock Yamaha YH-1) that song still have annoying ‘sss’ and ‘sshh’ and ‘fffff’.

The conclusion I made is that this is just greatly perfect. It didn’t get ‘FUCKING PERFECTION’ but I reckon that this is what would H2 be like if it’s better overall and shoved into a CIEM shell. It has less bass impact, but it’s replaced by thoroughly higher quality bass. It’s still fucking expensive and still present so great a hassle to me to even contemplate to save up for this.

At the end of the day, I feel like I’ve leveled up. I got to hear one of the Classic Top Tier headphones, confirmed that a FOTM is really a treasure from the great expanse of China, found an interesting and haunting sound signature from Japan and still think that a CIEM is not worth the hassle at this moment in my life. Looking forward to more experience in the future. And all this thing just to groove to ma tunez.

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About fEast91

A foreign student who happens to like manga/anime and headphones.

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