InnerFidelity January Update!

Yes, that dumb look on my face is me enjoying some time with the LCD-3 driven by the TTVJ Apex Hi-Fi Arete and Volcano, and the Burnson Audio HA-160D. Amarra on my MacBook is USB connected to a HeadRoom Ultra DAC. Rough job, eh?

December Measurements
The Celebrity Headphone Deathmatch, the Stax aquisition article, beginning amp measurements, and, of course, the holiday season kept me pretty busy during December, so there weren't a lot of headphones measured. All new measurements have been added to the measurement download page and to the All Graphs.pdf. Here is what did get run through the chamber:

  • Polk has produced a line of four headphones for athletic use. The Ultrafit 500 and 1000 are seudo in-ear cans with a very unusual semi-sealing eartip --- they They sounded and measured pretty bad. The top-of-the-line Ultrafit 3000 wasn't too bad, but had way too much bass. The around the back of the neck headband Ultrafit 2000 was pretty good, though.
  • Thanks to HeadRoom, I got my hands on most of the Ultimate Ears universal fit earphones. I thought they were pretty good in general. Measured product included: UE350, UE500, UE600, and UE700.
  • I measured the new Klipsch Reference One and a second sample of the Image One. The Image One measured and sounded better than the previous Image One I had, and oddly enough measures quite similarly to the new Reference One. Guess I'm going to have to give the Image One a second chance one of these days.
  • The Celebrity Headphone Deathmatch netted three more additions this month with the SMS Sync and Street by 50 Cent, and the Koss Tony Bennett Special Edition One.
  • I'm trying to get my hands on a goodly number of Audez'e LCD-3s to have a good check on manufacturing variations. This month sees serial number 2312260 added to the data set.
  • An Audio Technica ATH-ES55 showed up rather randomly in the lab ... I measured it, of course, it's what I do.
  • And last but certainly not least, Head-Fi DIY enthusiast Loksen sent in his lovely modified Fostex T50RP for a measure. They had a pretty big dip in the mids, but were beautifully built. He's, no doubt, already back at the drawing board.

Upcoming in January
The Consumer Electronics Show - I have two missions for CES: to find out what's new in headphones and personal audio, and to gather headphones for my "Wall of Fame" (see below). I'm particularly interested in inexpensive computer speakers. And I'm also going to try to incorporate some video in my show report ... bound to be some antics there.

I'll be at CES Jan. 9th-15th. I'll make a few posts from the show, but I suspect the full report will take up to the 20th to complete.

Audez'e LCD-3 - I'm bound and determined to get the LCD-3 reviewed. They're such a lovely and interesting headphone with a lot of buzz around them that I simply must spend some time to do the review right. Probably late January.

Looking Forward into 2012
Amplifier Measurements - It's sort of slow going as I need to post articles of other types to keep things interesting for readers, but I'll be continuing to work on getting my headphone amplifier measurement routine in place. Next step will be THD+noise vs. Amplitude into multiple loads.

Once the measurement routine is in place, you'll start seeing headphone amp reviews from me. I've promised Doc B that the Bottlehead Crack will be first in line.

InnerFidelity April 1 Anniversary and DIY Headphone Contest - InnerFidelity's first birthday will mark the end of the DIY headphone contest. So all you headphone DIYers out there push to finish your projects so they can be measured. (U.S. only, sorry, unless international folks are willing to have someone here in the states receive the box from me and forward it on for return, I can do that.) After that, I'm thinking we'll start measuring DIY amps.

"Wall of Fame" and "Pile of Shame" - This is my next big project. I really need to have a full set of reference headphones to use for comparison purposes. I now have a large pegboard in my demo room that has about 30 hooks on it where I will store my reference cans. I plan to arrange them by type and price with one headphone in each slot. This will be my wall of fame, and it will be continuously updated as new cans knock the old off the wall. I'll develop a little logo so manufacturers can use it in their advertising and whatnot. It will be a great page to refer people to when they want advice about headphones, as it will have my highest recommendation for each type of headphone in about 3 price ranges.

The "Pile of Shame" is reserved for the egregiously horrid headphones. This page will just be a series of sequential blurbs about those cans that are worthy of public disdain. I really don't want to grow this list; I really don't want to review bad headphones; I'm not likely to get what I want however. Some headphone are just so bad, and so widely publicized that something has to be said. I don't think manufacturers are going to want a logo for that one.

DAC Measurements - So many headphone amps incorporate a DAC that I'm going to have to develop a DAC measurement routine. The Audio Precision tester I have has fairy good capabilities in this regard, so I should be able to develop a decent DAC characterization measurement routine. I'll no doubt ask NwAvGuy for some help again.

That's it for now. Here's hoping those Mayans just ran out of room while carving the tablet.

khaos's picture

Happy new year! And good luck for your next reviewing adventures!

Also, the UE600 link is broken, there are 2 Klipsh Image One, one is in earpad sealed, the other in full sized sealed, I may have missed other mistakes.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
By the time I get to the end of all the niggling needed to post these updates my attention to detail goes out the window, I reckon. Thanks for the heads up, I'll fix 'em.
khaos's picture

Is there a way to directly contact you for those details without using from the comments section?

Tyll Hertsens's picture

I'd appreciate it.

donunus's picture

Happy New Year Tyll! Awesome agenda there. I myself can't wait to read your CES related articles to find out if there are any cool new stuff this year that don't break the bank too much.

inarc's picture

Thank you for the update and happy New Year!

dalethorn's picture

I seem to remember Polk as a respectable name in the hi-fi biz. Not necessarily one of the best, but respectable. Audiocraft in Cleveland used to sell and install several of their speaker systems. I have to wonder what they're thinking that they have to issue sub-standard headphones at a time when people are really paying attention.

Jazz Casual's picture

InnerFidelity is coming along in leaps and bounds and it's a great resource for head-fi'ers. My apologies for continuing to hassle you about this Tyll, but is measuring the PS1000 on your things to do list for 2012? It would be most handy to be able to compare it here with the other Grado's that you've already measured; especially the PS500. ;-)

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Bug away ... I'll try to get it done soon.
charvat8's picture

Your wall of fame idea sounds wonderful to me :), makes it into a competition xD lets hope some developers take it as a personal challenge!

rich tanaka's picture

2012 ? New Year resolution for head or earphone listeners. Let us including me, go for a complete ear wax removable to our doctors. A simple tweak but may work for better sounds.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Google "mimikaki." :)
rich tanaka's picture

Yes Tyll you are very well informed. "Mimikaki" is an instrument to scrap out ear wax from the ear canal. But never use Q tips as these push the wax further into the ear canal and clogs the ear drum. Nowadays, Japanese goes to a doctor who uses a "pump" to inject a jet of water lace with some cleaning chemicals of sorts into the ears.

Many people were surprised at the relatively huge debris that were drained out. No wonder most manufacturers give a instrument as an accessory to get rib of wax from IEM. After the ear treatment, there is a clarity of noise and music. Better perception of highs, mids and to a lesser extent the bass.

Just try this with your doctor's help. But don't do this yourself as a burst ear drum means sans music which is serious and counter productive to earphone and headphone fanatics like us.

( To be transparent, the mimikaki originated from China. Tea houses there have "professional" ear wax diggers who earn their keeps just by doing this.

natal's picture

I agree one needs to be very careful about cleaning out wax. I would also recommend seeing a ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor who has the proper instruments and skill. They're not that expensive for a one visit session. And I wouldn't allow any chemicals including mineral oil be inserted in my ear canal as they could damage delicate nerve endings in the canal. If one wanted to do-it-himself I would recommend putting a few drops of olive oil in the ears each day for 3 days and then flushing out gently with water.

Limp's picture

I've tried vegetable oil on a few occasions, but frankly it isn't very effective if the wax amount is large enough to affect your hearing.
Last time I visited a doctor to get my ears flushed, she recommended me some ear drops that could be picked up at the pharmacy, basically a few percent carbamide peroxide soulution in glycerol, works like a charm. 15-20 minutes in each ear, then a few squirts with a syringe or douche with warm water.
I've been doing this about twice a year for the past 2-3 yars now.
Absolutely recommended for users of Etymotic and similar deep insertion IEMs

Alondite's picture

My ENT suggested hydrogen peroxide outside of a clinical setting. It eats away the ear wax without damaging the surrounding tissue. Just not if your ears are caked with wax, because the expanding nature of the HP can create pressure if your ears are sealed up with wax, and the pressure can damage the structures.

I do it once a week or so and it has been working for me. I hear clearly, haven't caused any damage and don't suffer from ear infections ever.

Alondite's picture

I'm curious how my VSonic GR07s measure...I'd even be willing to send them to you for measuring Tyll. They've had plenty of burn-in, which seems to be a common theme for getting the best out of them.

I love them and I'd like to hear what you think if you can manage it, on top of seeing how they measure. I know you're busy though.

Also, what do you think of the ATH-AD900? I'm looking into getting a pair.

dalethorn's picture

When I worked at Firestone HQ I had the house doctors flush my ears every few months, then eventually they told me I had to go to a doctor and pay for it. So instead I got the drugstore earwax kit with the squeeze-bulb and just flushed my own with plain warm water. That worked perfectly, but if I waited too long and an ear was plugged it would take quite a while to get that final plug of wax out. You always know when you have the big stopper flushed out because it comes out in a big nasty-looking dark brown lump. Fast forward a few years and I haven't kept up properly, so the last time my ear stopped up I flushed with warm water and got it "unstopped" OK, i.e. I can hear normally now, up to 16 khz at least, but that big earwax plug is still in both ears, so I suppose I should have the doctor flush both ears. Not for sake of hearing, which is OK, but for any unknowns like what the downside would be of leaving a solidified plug of wax way deep in the ear canal.

I haven't experienced any issues with flushing with warm (not hot) water and the little squeeze-bulb, and if you had the initial flush done by a doctor and then kept up with occasional flushings with the drugstore kit, you shouldn't have to go back to the doctor. Let it go too long though, and you probably won't be able to get the hardened earwax plug out if it's sat there too long.