Headphones

Ninjastix

The Fat Mamba
Site Donor
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Location
Raleigh
Depends on the brand of
@Ninjastix do you know how hard it is to replaces ear pads? I have these old plug-in Sony MDR-7506 that have some shredded ear pads.
It'll depend on the design on the headphone. In my experience the sound/tuning of the headphone is tied to the OEM pads. So while you'll very likely have many options available to you for those headphones, they my differ from the original pads. You can improve comfort, you can add bass, or treble, or transparency with pad swaps but you may sufficiently change the sound to the point it's just not desirable. The worst part is you really won't know till you try but a cursory glance at what's available for the 7506 means you have some cheap/quality 3rd party options.

Looks like Wicked Customs makes pads for the 7506. I bought a pair of ovals from them that I really like: https://www.amazon.com/stores/page/...MIycKV2tji7gIVB77ACh2O_gtxEAAYASAAEgJu2_D_BwE

And so does Brainwavz who I also like: www.amazon.com/Brainwavz-Perforated-Earpads-Sony-7506/dp/B07FSPF3YV/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=1OL23FY84RVN2&dchild=1&keywords=sony+mdr-7506+earpads&qid=1613076349&sprefix=sony+mdr-7506+ear%2Caps%2C189&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEzU0VWTlJOWEtCMVY2JmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwOTQyMDI0M08xTDJFOU5CQkdKNCZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNDc1NjUzM0IyRlk0SDhPWUZMQSZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=

I don't know the headphone so I couldn't make a recommendation on what to get. It depends on how they listen. Microsuede, to me, is the most comfortable material out there but it tends to muddy the sound (underwater sounding). Leather can spring the sound back making treble peaky and can get hot but usually offers some of the best sealing.

Let me see what Dekoni has. Looks like Dekoni filters to equivalent Audio Technica pads with the same design. Again, lots of choices:

 
Last edited:

ILJO

Member
Site Donor
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Location
The Streets!
It's just the outer layer of paint that eventually starts peeling off. It's a known issue. Exposes the padding and shit. Looks ugly as hell but still feels and wears fine, at least mine does anyway.

I love those headphones though.
 

Ninjastix

The Fat Mamba
Site Donor
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Location
Raleigh
It's taken me awhile to figure out how I'd rate/rank/review the Aeolus. But I think I got it.

Headphones can be intense/relaxed. They can be wide/narrow. They can be bright/dark. They can be warm/cold. They can open/closed. They can sound neutral or colored, they can favor dynamics or control, they can be smooth or sharp, resolved or fuzzy, full or thin.

I think the Aeolus can be described as semi-open sounding with an intense forward sound presentation in an intimate soundstage. They're warm but vocals are very clear and clean while sounding natural and inviting. The "microdynamics" of string plucks, key strikes, symbol hits are all present, full-bodied but smoothed. I do not think I would want more detail than these headphones present. They're the equivalent of a super clean recording of a 70's power ballad. They're BIG in terms of sound but NEAR in terms of staging. They're intense but they're not harsh or fatiguing. Imaging is fantastic in terms of tracing sounds across both channels and only recorded distortions are distorted. All ranges are controlled with the mid-range sounding the sharpest in comparison to the smooth low-end and treble. Instrument separation is also noticeable; everything in its right place.

If you like Rock, classic Rock, 70's Rock, Stadium Rock, then these are your end game. I think the same would be true for Punk and garage Rock. Alt-Rock eh... I think Planars could potentially offer more versatility and the natural timbre of vocals may or may not be a benefit especially with Alt recordings that steer progressive or electronic in terms of their productions.

Classic Rap, Jazz Rap, Boom-Bap, Instrumental Rap, yep. All day. Modern Rap, computer-based or home studio productions, save your money.

Jazz, Classical, Horns, Strings, Woods. Absolutely. Anything instrumental. Anything where you want to hear strikes and plucks with layers of separate instruments that blend. The Aeolus is simply sublime. Again, and I cannot stress this enough, anything more resolving than this (for me) would be uncanny. It would be too real in my estimation. There are cans along those lines and it's not a place I will go with my money. I could see myself investing in another ZMF, the Eikon which is a closed-back biocellulose. Between the Aelous and Eikon I think that would cover pretty much everything I listen to how I'd want to listen to it. I'd keep the Devas and sell everything else I own.

I think they've far exceeded my expectations. I was on the fence about going with something intense or laid back but evaluating what I actually listen to, intense was the way to go.
 
Last edited:

Ninjastix

The Fat Mamba
Site Donor
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Location
Raleigh
My Liquid Spark Amp came today and I proceeded to mistakenly plug its power supply into my DAC while setting them up. Now I don't have a DAC.

Carefully not to cross your wires folks.

I've taken the opportunity to order a S.M.S.L. Sanskrit. It's an AKM DAC with volume control. You win some you lose some.
 

Ninjastix

The Fat Mamba
Site Donor
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Location
Raleigh
My buddy is a mini electrical engineer so I have him taking it look at it. It's just one of those things. I originally had the DAC ontop of the Amp then had to step away to do something so when I came back I was like "why the fuck is the DAC ontop of the amp?" but little did I know I had already switched them before I walked away. The shitty part was that I never even powered on the DAC, it just runs volts regardless if the power switch is on or not. So as I was connecting inputs the fucking thing started smoking.

Is what it is. I still have my iFi combo I just won't have an optical feed till Thursday.
 

Ninjastix

The Fat Mamba
Site Donor
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Location
Raleigh
I recently acquired:

  • S.M.S.L. Sanskrit 10th V2 DAC -> $140
  • Monoprice Liquid Spark Headphone Amp -> $109
  • Tripowin TC-01 IEM -> $50
  • Etymotics ER2XR IEM -> $85

The DAC is primo. Easy to setup, easy to power, volume control to -50 db, 3 input options, 6 digital filters (for decay), and you can orientate it however you like. Even comes with two sets of silicone feet for you to stick on once you decide how to position it. The sound is clean but punchy, rounded, has depth. The noise floor is noticeable. It is a very quiet and distortion free device. It justifies the price imo, it was cheaper prior but I believe it's been hiked because the AKM chip manufacturer had their plant burn down. But definitely a quality DAC for the price.

The AMP is fine. Plenty of power; enough to warrant investing in a DAC with a volume control. Not a warm sound, not dry, not overly analytical or sharp. Decent build quality but I worry about the internal architecture and the manufacturing of the device. It seems well built but not sure how well it'll hold up over time given that I fried it's counter part in under 8 seconds.

The Tripowin TC-01 is an IEM from a cable manufacturer. This is replacement for my BLON BL-03 that has a dying right driver. It's a very thumpy IEM, a party earbud. Very comfortable in ear, very stylish, a nice heavy housing polished smooth as silk. Not a balanced sound. Emphasis in the sub-bass and the upper-treble. The sub-bass to bass is fun, it's deep and boomy. The upper treble bump however is grainy, making it a self-defeating proposition to elevate the treble in the first place. They should have rolled off the treble around 10k and it'd smoothed out the sound. A mixed-bag of an IEM but it'll make your head rattle with a good seal.

The ER2XR is the latest from Etymotics who has a unique design and approach to IEMs. These are long, tube-like heads that get inserted, DEEP, into your ear canal with a 3 flange silicone tip (or optional foam). I avoided this IEM because of the design but finally relented since the ER2XR switched from a BA driver to a dynamic and supposedly, the sound is some of the best you can get for under $200. I'm inclined to agree with that on initial listening but all depends on taste. The ER2XR to my shock is the most comfortable IEM I own. Never would have guessed that something that gets inserted into your brain would be comfortable but.. it is. The sound is balanced, rolling off the highs so every thing is smooth. It has an even presentation, slightly forward mids, good bass response, very very pleasant treble with the only fault I can find being there's a softness to the sound. That's exactly what I was looking for, balanced and soft with great extension. Plus I don't like bright/sparkly IEMs. The resolution for the price is perfectly fine. It's not a super high resolving IEM but it also doesn't cost 700 - 1200 dollars like high resolving IEMs do.

So.. what's next?

Right now I can't think of anything. I wanted a closed back over ear but I modded pads onto my Elegias and they seem to be doing it for me now. I wanted a one-for-all IEM and found it with the Etymotics. Between that an my Final VR3000s, all my other IEMs are now expendable. I got a twin desktop setup for music and gaming. I got headphones for every occasion and recommendations falling out of my ass so as always.. if you're looking for a headset just ping me.
 

Ninjastix

The Fat Mamba
Site Donor
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Location
Raleigh
When I got the new job I decided to treat myself (to what else) to another pair of headphones. This time I purchased the very pretty Meze 99 Neos:


1617504932637.png

They really set the standard for an entry price headphone. Exceptional comfort between the headband and the cups. I did find that the pads, while comfortable and spongey, were shallow enough that my ears could touch the inside driver felt. That's an odd sensation so I elected to pad swap the stock ones with some Wicked Custom leather ovals I had. But this type of suspension style headband, it's honestly the best form factor for elongated comfort.

The Meze 99 Classics are a staple, they feature the same design and real wood cups for about $309 dollars US. Critiques of the Classics were that while they had better than expected detail for their price, the highs could be too sharp, borderline sibilant for some. The solution was also a cost saving choice, they replaced the wood cups with larger matte plastic ones. Meze renamed the Classics with the plastic cups the Neo. These cups seems to do a better job smoothing out the highs without grossly altering the sound signature. They also keep the weight very light. Paired with a linear clamp, you have one of the most comfortable headphones on the market and very likely the most comfortable sub-1000 dollars.

The sound signature of the 99 Neo is like Sony done right. It has prominent mid-bass but unlike a Sony it's controlled and it doesn't bleed into the mids or obscure the highs. The frequency response is pretty linear post-bass bump. The highs are smooth, tonally natural, and somewhat energetic. If paired with the right amp the Neo can slam or it can chill. The drivers in them are plenty capable and they respond well to EQ and to filters.

This is an excellent purchase if you want a warm/fun headphone but you want to experience better sounds resolution in the mid-range and low-highs (vocals). As a closed back it won't offer the soundstaging of an open back nor the transparency. The passive sound isolation is just okay as well, likely attributed to the plastic cups, and the soft, shallow pads. However for 200 dollars this is likely the best closed back on the market up to 7-800, if only for the fact you can wear them effortlessly.

In addition to the headphones I also purchased a FiiO BTR5. This is Bluetooth transmitter and receiver/USB DAC-AMP combo. Basically you can wear the BTR5 like a pager, connect your headphones to it, and then the BTR5 can connect to your phone, computer, or streamer wirelessly. This is a relatively convenient way to make a wired headphone operate semi-wirelessly. The BTR5 also has every audio codec available, allowing you to stream via LDAC if your device supports it. This is moot for Apple because Apple only allows AAC. Because they're fucking assholes.

The BTR5 has its own power supply when wireless or on USB so it won't drain your phone. Advertises around 9 hours but I guess it's more like 7. Also has a built in mic if you want to take and make calls with it. Also has it's own EQ and digital low-pass filters. Quite the little dynamo.
 

Ninjastix

The Fat Mamba
Site Donor
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Location
Raleigh
Gonna be a long post so the TL;DR:

  • I canceled Amazon HD like a male lead with a cannibal fetish
  • I'm trialing Tidal; may trial Qobuz again
  • I learned how to beat Android and Windows audio playback frequency limits
  • I'm trialing software that does the above ^ while integrating with Tidal and/or Qobuz
  • I'm stuck between bit-perfect playback or my EQ addiction
  • Learn from my fails

Been getting into the weeds on playback. I decided to step away from Amazon HD because I think they're doing some sort of odd upsampling shenanigans with their 'Ultra HD' recordings. These are are supposed to be 24-bit/96-192khz recordings. I started to notice that many UHD tracks sounded odd, especially in the treble. Most of the HD tracks sounded ok but many were sibilant on headphones that just aren't noted for sibilance. And I'm skeptical that my hearing has improved over the years. So I decided to retry Tidal and if I'm unsatisfied, I'll try Qobuz again.

Now here's where shit gets thick. Tidal uses MQA which is part compression method, part audio processing algorithm, part DRM, and lossy not lossless. However.. there is something to their "Master" quality recordings. There's a consequence (intentional or otherwise) to the wrapping/unwrapping of MQA files that occurs with their Master-encoded recordings that can make them sound noticeably different. Better to some, worse to others. Many studio engineers have taken exception with Tidal and MQA as a result. Some people think it sounds better, some people think it sounds worse, some people think it's false advertising, some people think it's just semantics.

Returning to Tidal I immediately note that the UI is significantly better than Amazon's as is artist discovery. The libraries are more or less the same - except that for some ungodly reason you cannot simply shuffle all your tracks unless you favorite them from individual albums. What the fuck? To me, the consistency of track quality on Tidal is better than Amazon meaning (to me) their Master recordings sound better than Amazon's UHD recordings. However with Tidal some of the CD-quality tracks sound like MP3s to me while with Amazon some of the 16-bit tracks sounded artificial in the upper registers. These are slight differences at best and dependent on what you're using to resolve the music which gets me to my next adventure..

I have 3 (count them!) MQA capable devices: my Zen DAC, my Sparrow, and my Sanskrit. And all but the Sanskrit would only play PCM 44khz and not decode MQA. For the Zen DAC I discovered I had to update the USB driver software and then download their GTO filter to resolve the issue. Now it plays above 44khz and recognizes non-MQA and MQA. For the Sparrow it was a giant pain in the ass. I had to use the Tidal app in Exclusive Mode and bypass the software unwrapping of MQA but in Exclusive mode it gives volume control to the app, not Windows, and for whatever reason the Sparrow is RIDICULOUSLY POWERFUL through Windows USB. I almost blew out my fucking Eardrums when I tested playback. For reference I can only play the Sparrow at volume level 6 out of a 100 on Windows with the Meze Neos before it's too loud and playback initiated at 50. 50!!! I had to throw my headphones off my head then catch them mid-flight. Almost had a fucking heart attack on both accounts.

My next adventure was wanting to see how Tidal integrated with other audio enhancing software for Operating Systems. For Android there's USB Player Pro which unlocks your Android's ability to stop fucking downsampling all audio to 16-bit 44 khz. Costs 8 bucks and the MQA component is 3. Works remarkably well. It'll recognize either your phone's native DAC or an external one and process accordingly. Really improves playback by making tracks play more cleanly (less noise, less fuzziness, slightly sharper more controlled). Now I'm testing the same thing on Windows with an application called Audirvana (horrible name) which is part audio processing software part media library player. You can log into either Qobuz or Tidal directly and stream through it as well. I am immediately noticing the same sort of cleaner playback. Not sure if it's worth the licensing fee yet but they give you a month free confident that you'll be able to hear the difference.

The downside to using something like USB Player Pro or Audirvana is that you lose the ability to EQ. Now I do have headphones that really don't need EQ, in fact EQ often has to compensate (for me anyway) for the inconsistencies of the source. This is the consequence of bit-perfect playback which (over-simplifying) allows your DAC to return the converted digital signal to you unaltered by upsampling, DSP, or EQ. It should allows the DAC to process the digital signal with correct timing and less electrical interference, especially on noisy USB ports. So you have to choose: EQ or "native" DAC sampling? On USB Player Pro it's actually a convenient toggle, which I like, but I'm not seeing the same sort of convenient toggle with Audirvana. However I've spent dozens of hours EQ'ing so for now it's nice to have a break and honestly.. what I'm hearing on the Aeolus and Neo doesn't need EQ right. The Elegias, yeah.. different story.

Anyway there's a lot of information in this post but long story short the more I explore in Audio the less and less seems to truly be snakeoil. A lot of this stuff works it's just a question of whether or not you prefer it. I know I rag on Coy for his humble tastes at times but there's nothing wrong with that if that's what you like. I like commercial audio products and audiophile shit alike. There is a lot out there that really doesn't justify its price to performance by comparison but that doesn't mean it doesn't work or outright sucks, those are different arguments. I think one of the big reason I really fell into this hobby so hard is that shit does tend to sound really good on average. It's the opposite of movies and gaming.
 
Last edited:

Users who are viewing this thread

Members online

Latest posts

Latest profile posts

Stand aside to better men, or blaze a trail and become one.
The mind-killer fears reality
Mind-killer is the mind-killer
Reality is the mind-killer.
You know you're old when you are hyped that you got a breadmaker for your birthday. Thing is it makes cakes and jams too.

Forum statistics

Threads
42,178
Messages
1,092,271
Members
2,340
Latest member
toolfan14
Top Bottom