InnerFidelity December 2012 Update
Had some interesting headphones come through the lab this month. As usual, I've updated the AllGraphs.pdf of course, and added the cans to the measurement datasheets page. New additions include:
- You may have read the review by now, but it's worth a second mention here. The Sennheiser Momentums were measured and boy do they measure well. That's a pretty good set of measurements to use as a reference for a competent pair of headphones.
- I've got a pair of Sony MDR-1R in the lab and measured. Not quite as good as the Momentums, and not quite as good sounding. But I'm going to try to get my hands on all three variants because the 1R is probably good enough for a review, but I'd certainly like to hear what they did with the noise canceling and Bluetooth versions. The 1R won't hit the Wall of Fame as a sealed headphone, but the Bluetooth and Noise canceling versions might best the current WoF cans in those categories...as long as they don't fiddle with the bass too much.
- Monster sent in their Inspiration headphones. I have to say they're quite a bit better than their previous offerings eartuned by Dr. Dre. Unfortunately they're a bit strident and wooly, and don't quite cut it for a review, but I do hear progress there. I also heard the Diamond Tears and Vektr at RMAF and found them similarly "just okay." Gonna give Noel Lee and his Monsters a little golf clap though, certainly a step in the right direction.
- I've reviewed the Logitech UE6000 and UE9000, but I never did the UE 4000. They sent me two pair in the purple color, and there appeared to be a problem with a big missmatch in the bass between left and right channels. I called and got two more pair, one black and one white, which measured much, much better. It leaves me in a bit of a quandary because I really like the sound of the ones that worked, and I'd really like to do a review, but I don't want to be writing reviews about flaky products. I'm hoping it was just a problem with early production runs, and I'll likely ask them for a couple more pairs to see if they measure well. If they do, they'll get a review, because they're quite good. Until then, as stupid as it sounds, I guess I'll just recommend staying away from the purple ones. Anyway, I've posted a measurement spreadsheet of one of the good pairs.
- Dinny FitzPatrick recently got a new iPhone with the new Apple EarPods, and being the curious monkey he is, he sent them off to me for measurement. Earbuds are notoriously crappy, and the measurements of the EarPods are likewise poor in a number of ways. But...they did measure and sound quite a bit better than the previous iPod Earbuds. I'd say Apple has done some darn good work making a cheap headphone that sounds quite good. Interestingly, a new app has become available, "The Dirac HD Player" that claims to modify the output of your iDevice so that it pre-compensates for the characteristics of the EarPod (and the old Apple Earbud) to improve their sound even further. Seems like an opportunity for an interesting article one of these days.
- The PR push for AirBuds was strong enough to get my curiosity up, so I requested a pair. Strangely, try as I might I wasn't able to get the left ear to seal properly. Doesn't really matter as I was pretty disappointed in the sound quality. Oh, well.
- AKG sent in a pair of K619 on-ear headphones. Pretty much a basshead can, but I think they may be quite good for $99 in that category. One of these days I'm going to have to do a shoot-out between $100 sealed on-ear headphones. I think that category may have some strong contenders for fun headphones with these, the Skullcandy Hesh 2, UE4000, and Audio-Technica ATH-WS-55. I'll try to get that lined up.
- Start-up Mayflower Electronics has a modified Fostex T50RP for sale. They sent in a pair for measurement. It was okay, but I liked the Paradox quite a bit better.
- Meze kindly sent in two pairs of headphones, the 88 Classic circumaural and the 66 Classic supra-aural. Very pretty and nicely made, but the sound and measurements show a somewhat colored can. Sorry, not going to make the review list.
- And lastly, three IEMs that just showed up at the door: PNY Uptown, Final Audio Adagio III, and Phiaton Moderna MS200. Nothing caught my attention, but I dutifully measured them and sent them off to ljokerl for him to have a good listen and see if there's something there to like.
The Sennheiser Momentum review bumped the promised HD580/600/650 review into this month, so I'll be spending some time with the Woo WA6 and my BottleHead Crack playing with these classic cans.
AND!!! I'm sure you've noticed the picture at the top of the article. I thought it would be a fun Christmas present to InnerFidelity readers this year to do a review of the tippy-top in electrostatic amplification. The HeadAmp Blue Hawaii SE and Cavali Audio Liquid Lightening are in the house, Woo Audio's WES and Ray Samuels' Thunderbolt are in transit, and I've got the Stax SRM-007tII and SRM-727II to round out the field. The main headphone to be used will be the Stax SR-009, but I've got a Stax SR-007Mk2 and Sennheiser HE90 to spice things up as well. I've borrowed an Ayre Acoustics QB-9 as the source for the testing...boy, does it sound nice!
CES is coming, and with the holidays I suspect we'll not see a January update next month. I'll be in Vegas Jan 7-12. If you've got any particular headphones you'd like me to check out, feel free to make your request in the comments.