Innerfidelity February 2013 Update
Wow! I spend a week at CES mingling with folks from all over the world, and get rewarded with a flu-like crud that bows to no drug. Sheesh, that was no fun. Feeling better now after having rested up a bit and it's been fun running some of the new headphones received through the test gear.
- Finally got my hands on the AKG Tiesto K167 and K67. With all the hoopla on Head-Fi I was really expecting better. The K167 is okay, but somewhat uneven sounding with an odd sounding bass emphasis and a modestly harsh edge. The K67 is more of the same, but with a pretty big mid-range suckout. Oh well.
- The NuForce HP-800 went through the ringer. This headphone has a warm and polite sound. The bass overwhelms the mids a bit, and they're somewhat uneven as a result. But a full-sized, sealed headphone at $149 makes them look like they might just be a good buy. I'm gonna have to look around to see if there's much better at that price---I don't think there is---these may just get a review.
- In hopes of finding some classic headphones for measurement I decided to do a little rummaging around in HeadRoom's back room where lots of old headphones lie dormant in boxes. I was almost giddy to find a pair of Sennheiser HD 560 Ovation II headphones. The bass was a bit anemic, and the treble a tad sharp, but overall they seemed to have decent coherence and a fairly musical presentation. 'Course I remember 20 years ago when they were the greatest headphone I'd ever heard.
- Speaking of old headphones, Dinny FitzPatrick sent me his pair of Sennheiser HD 580 cans with HD 600 headband so that I could include some notes about it in my upcoming HD580/600/650 review (yes, it's still in the works). Pretty amazing how well these headphones hold up, makes me wish they left them in the line-up.
- I really like these guys attitude. They keep sending me headphones, and I keep responding with a bit of a yawn. So, I wasn't expecting much when I mounted the Reid Heath Acoustics S950i ($59) on the measurement head. I was taken aback to see the measurements looking pretty good, and when I had a listen I was pleasantly surprised. I still think the Noontech Zoro is the better sounding headphone in this price range, but the S950i was quite nice. A bit rolled-off on top, but still a satisfying listen.
- I received a pair of the Noontech Rio in-ear headphones. After my enthusiastic review of the Noontech Zoro, the U.S. distributor was very excited to get this new model off to me. I told him not to hold his breath, companies don't usually get that lucky twice. And so it is in this case, the Rio has overwhelming bass response, rolled-off treble, and a mid-range that's...well, between the two ends. Meh.
- An enthusiast sent me a pair of the Apple In-Ear earphones for a measurement session. Boy-oh-boy did they measure good. Unfortunately, they didn't sound quite as good as the numbers would suggest, somehow edgy and dry on quick listen, and some significant distortion between 2kHz and 6kHz. But my interest is peaked, I'd like to give these a second chance at some point.
- Axel Grell gave me a pair of the new Sennheiser IE 800 at CES, and I did get some listening sessions in on the way home. There were some things I liked quite a bit: nice coherent sound; and a sense of clarity. But somethings were a bit disturbing: they didn't have a powerful bass; there was a tinkling brightness to them that was pleasant in some ways and odd in others; and at $999 they'd better be amazing or I'd be buying some JH13s. This is a single dynamic driver headphone that has some unusual acoustic filters to combat ear canal resonances. I've sent them off to ljokerl; he'll be able to make better sense of these, I reckon.
- Along those lines, I also got a chance to measure the AKG K3003 in-ear. At $1299 these are more expensive than the Sennheiser IE 800, so the bar is even higher for this universal fit IEM. Sadly, I don't think it's made the jump. The treble is almost painfully bright, and the bass lacks punch. It does have some tuning filters for treble and bass boost profiles (hence the three spec sheets), and they do seem to work fairly well according to the measurements. But I think I'll recommend a pass on these...and the move straight to the JH13. (If it sounds like I like the JH13 Freqphase, then you've been listening.)
- Lastly, Philips sent me some cans after the show, and I managed to get the two in-ear models measured, the Fidelio S1 and S2. Wow, did these little dynamic IEMs do well both on the measurement head and on my head. I didn't have too much listening time with them as I had a box of stuff to send off to ljokerl, but they were very promising. One thing to note however is that these are early production units, so I may have to get my hands on final production product before any review gets written.
As I mentioned the Sennheiser HD580/600/650 review is still in the works. I've confused the issue by getting a number of after market cables for them and the HD 800. I'm going to do some separate articles on the measurability and audibility of improvements by aftermarket cables, and I want to get some of that listening under my belt so some replacement cables can be mentioned in the article.
I've received the Sony MDR-1R and while I don't think it sounds quite as good as the Sennheiser Momentum and Focal Spirit One, I do think they sound fairly good and the comfort and styling is simply out-of-this-world. I'm awaiting the Bluetooth and noise canceling versions to make a family review out of it.
The Philips X1 is in the house! Haven't gotten around to measuring them, but they sound fairly good. Not quite sure if they'll make the cut for review, but I'm listening.
Right, that's it for this month. Hopefully by next month it will start to warm up a bit. Maybe the deer will start heading back up to the mountains.